2419 Tasting Notes

75
drank Songyang White by Verdant Tea
2419 tasting notes

Thank you kindly Verdant for sending me a sample of this in my last order!

Everyone else has been raving about their Jasmine white tea but I was rather glad I got this one instead. Upon smelling the leaves I decided to brew them up in the xi ying and let it steep for about 1.5 minutes, very bitter. I thought perhaps the clay was throwing off the taste a bit so I transferred the leaves to the gaiwan and let it steep for about 20 seconds, still very bitter. Then I finally decided to heed the gong fu directions on the bag and let it steep for 8 seconds which basically meant I poured water over it and poured it back out into a cup. They recommend 205 F for whites but when I did that it got brackish really fast. I had to brew this like a green. Now I am getting the clean vegetal aromas were described. This is very interesting and reminds me more of a green tea than any other white I have had. I think I need to start all over again on a new day with a little less leaf and very short steepings. I was very surprised at how easy it was to mess this up but I really don’t have a very good track record with white teas. I will be glad to increase my rating if I can figure out how to make this more palatable.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec
ScottTeaMan

I always brew my whites gong fu and start steeps around 45 sec to one minute. It also depends on the amount of leaf you use and water temp. I use more leaf and start with lower temps (160-170) and gradually increase both times & temps

ScottTeaMan

Yixings are also usually used for Oolongs and Puerhs, but you can use them for blacks. I would not recommend Yixings for Greens and Whites.

TeaBrat

Hey, they said you could brew this western style with 205 F water for 4 minutes, I can’t imagine, it would be like a seaweed broth. Seems like less is more here for sure.

ScottTeaMan

Yeah, I never brew my whites 3 or 4 minutes unless I’ve steeped it a few times, but never for the first few brews

David Duckler

Hi Amy,
Thanks for the real-world field testing here. This is a very different white tea. I am of the school to use boiling water on white tea, brewed in a glass pitcher for 10-15 seconds, but it sometimes gets me in trouble with thse 175 degree crowd. HOWEVER- that works mainly for silver needle white, especially Yunnan silver needle. This Songyang, as you rightly point out, is closer in flavor to a green tea, and should probably be treated as such when brewing, even though it is technically a white tea due to processing. This one is slightly temperamental, but I think that when you return to it, you will hit the sweet spot and get all the good fresh green flavor. This one always feels very “alive” when I brew it, if that makes any sense. If you used up your sample, let me know and I will give you a bit more to play with in your next order.

I will play around with the Songyang this week and revise the brewing instructions to reflect how different it is from the other white teas I have encountered.

TeaBrat

David – thanks for your note. I still have more and I suspect if I treat it gently I will indeed like it more. :)

ScottTeaMan

I can’t imagine ever using boiling water for any whites or greens. Hhmmm Amy, was that a free sample with your order? If so, Major note to self: “Plan an order with Verdant Teas in the near future!” :))

TeaBrat

Scott, yes it was a freebie! :)

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92
drank Supreme Red Robe by Vital Tea Leaf
2419 tasting notes

yep, I am a sucker for any store that says it has a free tea tasting. This is a very large shop in Chinatown here in SF that has quite a wide selection of tea and a very friendly staff. This was the boyfriend’s selection so we brewed it up this morning in the Gaiwan.

I can’t say that I know enough about red robes to really say that this one is really so much better than any other one but I am enjoying it this morning. When the leaves are wet they are intensely smoky and smell of cherries and plums. This brews up to a nice reddish color – in the shop they call it “red tea” and not an oolong but I digress. Here is a nice composition of flavors with some fruitiness, some nuttiness, a bit of smoke and a tiny bit of sourness. It is holding a nice fizzy aftertaste on my tongue.

Preparation
1 min, 0 sec
Charles Thomas Draper

They are probably Chinese who refer to black as red….

TeaBrat

they also told me nobody likes raw puerh and they didn’t even sell any in their shop. tons of shu however.

Charles Thomas Draper

They probably do not like raw because they have not had a good one. When they are young they can be quite gnarly….

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93
drank Dong Ding by Naivetea
2419 tasting notes

Still one of my very favorite oolongs and my favorite thing from the Naivetea line. I’ve been all over San Francisco since tasting other dong dings and scads of other oolongs and none are really coming close, this is definitely unique. I believe it is the 30% roast which I am really enjoying. This is so nutty, creamy and buttery. Holds up to 7 or more short infusions in the Gaiwan.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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89
drank Keemun Queen's Hope by Lupicia
2419 tasting notes

We are having this tea for breakfast and I am quite liking it. It’s a very smooth black tea with good flavor. Others have remarked on the smokiness but I am not getting much, especially compared to some other Keemuns I have tried. It is very English breakfast-y. Fruity but without the astringency of a darjeeling. A bit pungent. Fairly mild for a Keemun IMO. I like this enough that I might want to keep some around for morning time. I also drink a lot of pu-erh on a regular basis so you see where my tastes lie… heh

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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89

I am revisiting this again tonight. I am brewing this in the gaiwan and with short infusions. I am using a LOT of leaf vs. water. The lilac aromas are coming up very intensely. It is difficult to believe this is not scented in some way! I do think this tea is quite a beauty. I am also getting a bit of the vanilla flavor coming up here. I was scolded a bit the last time I reviewed this for eating it with a mango and I can see why. Tea is a very personal thing and we all enjoy different flavors. Mostly I like darker/roastier oolongs and I don’t really think this is a personal favorite, very high on the flowers, but I’m happy for those of you that are loving it. :-D

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

You don’t like Jasmine teas much either?

TeaBrat

not so much.

Indigobloom

me neither!! blegh

TeaBrat

Teavivre made a jasmine pearl that I thought was ok but I would still never buy it

ScottTeaMan

I like the scent and flavor, and also, not all Jasmine teas are heavily scented. Some are more mild, you just have to find the right one…or not. :))

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85

Another Tea from Taiwan sample being brewed up in the Gaiwan. It does not seem to have been a real favorite with the Steepsterites but it’s hard to imagine how badly you could mess up a Taiwanese oolong so that I would rate it low… ha ha

Infusion #1 : ooh, this IS very green. I definitely am getting a strong smell of spinach from the wet leaves here. It is more vegetal than buttery at this point. The tea also smells very floral and almost vanilla.

Infusion #2 : curious. Still very green but this is consistent with my experience of ali shans in the past. Reminds me of a bit of the shade grown Japanese green tea I have here. A bit grassy, I wonder if I have oversteeped it here.

Infusion #3: Steeped with less hot water, around 160 F. Butteriness is emerging a bit and this tea has a fantastic smell.

Infusion #4: Still very fragrant but a bit short of flavor. I am losing interest in this a bit so will end my dissertation here. :-P

Prognosis: It’s a good tea but not good enough for me to want to buy it. Definitely seems more ali shan than milk. I’m not a big ali shan fan but if you are you would probably like this.

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83
drank Formosa Oolong by Harney & Sons
2419 tasting notes

I am brewing this up in the Gaiwan this afternoon with short infusions of around 30 seconds each.

I’m finally done with all the $4 sample packs I tried from them which is actually a great deal. If I place another order with Harney and Sons this will be going on my list of things to order again. I am such a fan of these style of oolongs. A delicious darker brew with chestnuts, peaches and and a hint of marmalade. After infusion number 3 the tea is getting lighter and also more sweet with a caramel like flavor. It also is very reasonable in price which will make it a good candidate for cold brewing. Very enjoyable. Bringing a smile to my face!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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65

Peet’s is really the only chain where I can go and reliably get a decent tea – forget about Starbucks or that other place, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. I didn’t even know there was a Peet’s pu-erh until I went in there this afternoon nosing around.

This maybe not the best tasting of this tea, after all it was with a paper cup and a paper tea sac. It is very smooth, rich and dark. The thing this really reminds me of is chocolate milk, I was thinking that the entire time I was drinking this tea, weird. Also it seems a bit metallic and with a smoky aftertaste. Definitely I was hoping for something more/else. I should have saved the leaves to steep it again at home and see if I could make it any better. This is a $20 for a tin of tea and that is not a terrible price considering that’s a 4 oz. tin. But ultimately it just left me kind of unsatisfied.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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82
drank Purple Tea of Kenya by Butiki Teas
2419 tasting notes

I was pretty excited to try this unique tea and I do like supporting small local vendors who bring us offerings like this so that was definitely a great reason to try it.

I steeped mine with 180 F water for around 3.5 minutes in a glass infuser mug. This is such a curious tea with very interesting properties. I agree with TeaEqualsBliss that at first it reminds me of a sencha both in flavor and consistency but the color and strength are more like a dark oolong and it definitely has an astringent finish. That’s the only thing that bugs me a bit so I am going to try doing a few other things with it including steeping at a lower temp. and cold brewing so my rating may go up a bit soon. I am leery of astringent teas due to my issues with acid reflux but it doesn’t seem to bother other people. This is pretty unique so if you aren’t afraid of something unusual I suggest you give it a try!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec
ScottTeaMan

Amy, are there any qualities you do like in astringent teas (say in a Darjeeling)? I completely understand the astringency factor, and how it affects your acid reflux. I’m asking b/c sometimes, say my Cranberry Tea, gives me heartburn. Yet I do like the fact, that it is tart and yet sweet, with a good base tea.

Also, I really enjoy Darjeelings, yet if they are oversteeped, astringency does become a factor-but there usually are other dimensions in these teas I still enjoy.

TeaBrat

I like the flavor of darjeelings but since they usually make me kind of ill it’s difficult to separate the two, know what I mean?

ScottTeaMan

yeah….too bad. I was gonna try to send you a lighter Darj, but I don’t think its a good idea if they make you feel ill. Do you have reflux really bad?

TeaBrat

I’m fine as long as I stay away from things that make my stomach hurt… ;-)

ScottTeaMan

what about spicy things?

TeaBrat

let’s take this discussion to DM… :)

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100

I don’t work for the Red Blossom Tea company or own stock in them I just keep finding delightful treasures there and I usually only rate teas this high that I think I would be anxious to do without… this is one of them. :)

This was the boyfriend’s choice but he knows what I like. I had one infusion of 90 seconds and subsequent infusions of 20-30 seconds. I was drinking this last night and this morning I had to do a reality check to see if it was as good as I remembered.

If you’ve ever had a golden yunnan you know something about what this tea is like. It’s malty, chestnutty, sweet and creamy in addition to earthy! I do not detect much camphor here if any. It still has that pu-erh twang that comes with the aging process but this is now almost 15 years old and is delightfully mellow. For me this is a real treat that redefines my conceptions of what a pu-erh can be. Of course I am still newish to this sphere but if I had to pick one shou to keep on hand at all times this would no doubt be it.

I had the Emperor Pu-erh a few days ago and I am finding this one to be very different but the quality is there for both of them. I love the cleanness of these teas. I only wish they had small samplers so people could try the whole lot for a bit of a smaller price. Of course I am fortunate that I live in San Francisco so I can just go there. Yay!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Charles Thomas Draper

I am still drinking yesterdays Sheng. It has staying power

TeaBrat

Have you tried cold brewing the leftover leaves?

Charles Thomas Draper

What I do is brew as I normally do and then take the liquid and the leaves and transfer it into A Mason jar for an overnight cold brewing. My point is that the tea has weakened so I do what I can to make it stronger.

E Alexander Gerster

Your description makes my mouth water… I had not heard of Red Blossom Tea Company until this week, reading the reviews here on Steepster of their Pu-erh teas… then saw a short segment on them on the most recent Lidia Bastianich Christmas special on PBS. I guess the universe is trying to tell me something! :) They look to carry some of the most beautiful Dragonwell teas, which I might have to try when the new crops come in.

TeaBrat

Wow, I did not know they were on TV! You should check them out – my only complaint with them is they don’t offer smaller sampler packs!

E Alexander Gerster

On Dec. 20, there was a show called Holiday Tables and Traditions which you can now watch online: http://video.pbs.org/video/2175964061/
The segment on San Francisco and the Chinese New Year featured a few minutes at the Red Blossom Tea Company. Very interesting! I wish they offered smaller sampler packs as well… Maybe they will see our posts! :)

Charles Thomas Draper

I am happy with them. Great tea. Great service. Very fast delivery. Thank you Amy for turning us on. E Alexander I have to watch the show….

TeaBrat

Thanks for the link! I’ll check it out for sure!

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Profile

Bio

My profile pic is of a pink dahlia at Golden Gate Park.

Hobbies include: tea, making art, animals, vegan things, buddhism, nature, creativity, books, writing, cooking, meditation, yoga.

I am a fan of many different teas but my favorites are blacks and oolongs, chai, also like darjeeling and pu-erh. I’n always learning and expanding my horizons!

Dislikes include: bergamot, jasmine, highly tannic or bitter teas, overly judgmental and bitter people. :)

Live in San Francisco, I’m a SINK (single income, no kids) and love the urban life, but traveling out to the middle of nowhere is always fun too.

I tend to not drink things I know I will hate so a lot of my tea ratings are on the higher side. Here’s my rating system, sorta

95-100 I love this tea and would like to keep it around

94-90 An excellent tea which I may or may not repurchase

89-80 Pretty good, above average

79-70 Acceptable

69-60 Mundane – Will probably drink it if I have it

59-50 Ick

49 and below Nasty

Location

San Frandisco

Website

http://sanfrantea.teatra.de

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