300 Tasting Notes

93

Special thank you to Nuvola Tea for sending me this surprise sample! Really it was quite a wonderful surprise. My first order from Nuvola came with two free samples, then a second two were sent promptly after they had heard of a simple mislabeling and then this one arrives unbidden in my mail box Tuesday morning! What a wonderful generous surprise!

I feel a tinge of guilt as I still haven’t reviewed the Pouchong they sent last time, but yesterday I was in the mood, nay in need of a good black tea. See I’m on a week long staycation, husband and son are in Indiana, I should be spending most of my time cleaning an organizing, but my sister gave me three books on Sunday, the Hunger Games trilogy and I have devoured them. I started reading Monday evening and stayed up until 4am finishing the first book, I never stay up that late and when I do I’m usually sick. I survived though had a tea date at Clementines with my friend Michelle the. Had her over for Milk Oolong (oh my goodness another thing to review). When she left I started the second book, then went to the local brewery with my sister for a very late dinner and a flight of beer, got home and continued reading, I willed muself to go to bed an hour earlier leaving a few chapters for the morning. That was the morning I needed this tea.

This tea, this tea is lovely! I’ve only ever had two other black teas from Taiwan and only one other “black oolong”. The leaves on this one are gorgeous both dry and especially when wet, the stems and edges have a redness to them though the centers are most definitely black, they are full, slightly twisted, not huge but a good size. The smell is dark, rich, intoxicating, it reminds me of cocoa but not quite the way other black teas do, this one is unique. It’s not quite chocolately and not quite bready, it is sweet and rich in ways I’m not used to describing in tea. It reminds me a bit of brandy. But first I should mention the first sip had a sea air taste to it, again not fishy, though maybe the slightest bit salty, I could taste some of the vegetal qualities of the oolong, then it got darker and sweeter like currants or plums. I reinfused it several time, coming back to it after a car appointment and toward the end it took on a lighter more floral quality like Darjeeling, no more like Oriental Beauty. Very lovely!

It kept me company reading yesterday and I got to bed at a much reasonable hour half way through the final book that I finished a couple hours ago. Been a long time since I’ve indulged in a good fiction novel and I’m grateful to Nuvola for sending me such a wonderful reading partner in this lonely house.

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Forgot to log this from this weekend. Thank you to Michelle for this sample, it was on my shopping list so yay! Been awhile since I’ve had Lapsang Souchong but tis the season, happy first day of October! I only had a few sips of the first three infusions, as I poured this as an offering during a healing rite Saturday night. Between the peat moss incense and this the house was filled with lovely smokey smells.

After the ritual I indulged in a few mugs of this and it was perfect, still smokey but in a lighter, cooler, sweeter way, which is how I like it. Actually I’m not surprised this is a Wuyi. Will be coming back to this soon and will log the first infusions as I burnt my tongue on this in the kitchen trying to sneak a taste.

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drank Alishan by Allison Tsui
300 tasting notes

The last of the samples from allisontsui and unfortunately this one’s crushed too :( There are maybe a dozen discernible rolled leaves, stems and the rest dust. After rinsing and discarding some of the thin mush I wasn’t left with much material to brew with so I did a slightly longer steep than usual (for me) though not long enough to allow the fine bits of leaf to turn bitter.

It’s actually a very nice oolong. It feels very cool and marine like, not fishy or salty mind you, but like cool ocean air making its way through a dark evergreen forest. And theres a nice lingering cool and creamy aftertaste. Very pleasant indeed.

Ysaurella

I love the tea name…Alishan…sounds so dreamy

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Hmm no love for this one on Steepster. Between “flavorless” and “disgusting” with a slight fishy smell and no earthy notes. Well, I guess I can be grateful I followed my natural instincts and steeped it between 30 secs and a min instead of the recommended 5 mins because honestly I’m getting a nice sweet shu flavor here with chocolate and caramel notes. Bonbon indeed.

I’m sure some may consider these notes light, but I’m very used to picking up on the subtleties of shu, since I am a whimp or a gongfu master, you pick (kidding about the master bit, mean no disrespect to those who have earned that title, I’m a total novice) and I usually only steep them for a few seconds.

So thanks Michelle I actually do enjoy this! DAVIDs or any large tea chain would not be my go to source for pu’er but I am glad I got try these for free! I will hold off on rating it to see if it resteeps well and whatnot, because right now I want to give it an 80 and everyone else is 50s and under.

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

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Ohhhh yeah delicious chocolate hazelnut blend from using up Adagio’s Hazelnut, Zen Tea’s Bossa Nova and Teavirve’s Bailin Gongfu Black Organic cold brewed overnight (and most of yesterday). Soooo good, have to save some for the husband. Not exactly sure how I taste mint but there is definitely a mint chocolate chip and caramel and hazelnut feel to this. Also toffee which I realize is what I expected out of the hazelnut teas, not terribly fair of me, but there it is. And Nuttella this time in the taste as well as the smell. Well that was fun, but I think my adventure in hazelnut blends is over, for now.

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84

Umm so this one is pretty similar tasting to the Tea Merchant’s Darjeeling I just logged. Right now I feel like just writing “yeah what she said”. But thinking on it actually I do feel this one starts off nicer, like the cooled off version of the second steep I liked. It has some cooler, smoother, sweeter notes from the get go and I like that. It may not have all the specific floral, muscatel, peppery and astringent notes Darjeeling connoisseurs may or may not be looking for but, I astringency is a personal turn off for me and this one suits me just fine. Will update if I observe more in subsequent steeps. Thank you Michelle!

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83

Cheers to Michelle for sending me this and the next Darjeeling I’ll be logging! I feel Darjeeling is a natural follow up to Oriental Beauty and often want to compare them. They both have a the muscatel thing going on, the darjeeling more so, as well as floral and woodsy notes but darjeeling feels more airy and has more high notes, it’s more flowery and peppery where as the formosa has smoother, warmer, lower notes of leather and camphor.

I don’t have a whole lot of experience with Darjeelings compared to some folks on here. I’ve had two from Teavana and one straight from Upton, plus a few in their blends and lovely white one and I got to taste a Darjeeling Oolong at Adagio. Most have been first or second flushes and while I’m sure I could look up their estates in some cases, I don’t recall them off the top up my head.

At first I feel in love with them, then I really disliked them, them I tolerated them and it seems today I am appreciating them more than I have in a long time. And this is quite nice. It starts off tasting like grape leaves and vine, woody and nice balance of green, sweet and salty. But this tea really shines when it’s cooled down, which I think is a testament to its quality, many teas turn bitter when they cool but this one only gets sweeter.

I infused this one three times, the second was my favorite and it had some nice fruity and honey notes. I felt the third tasted a bit watered down despite being steeped for 5 minutes (I actually followed recommended brewing parameter on this one somewhat, though it looks like it might have been Michelle’s recommendation rather than the merchant’s though my first infusion was close to their’s temp wise) but it did develop some interesting pepper notes and then once again sweetened when cooled. Thanks Michelle!

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After some fun experimenting with hazelnut this morning I was in the mood for a straight tea, though nothing too light so I opted for this over Ali Shan. Unfortunately like the Dong Ding this one was crushed in the mail, this one possibly in both it’s journey from Canada and from Taiwan as Allison mentioned something about the Oriental Beauty when I asked about the leaves in the Dong Ding. Makes me sad to see tea bag sized shreds in a loose leaf sample pouch, but it is what it is.

That being said I didn’t have high hopes, but this one surprised me, it was pretty pleasant cup and I was able to get a good second steep out of it. It had nice cool camphor notes in addition to the champagne and leather notes. It actually reminded me of what I first came to love about Oriental Beauty, was only missing butteryness. My only issue was all the floaty bits that weren’t caught by my mesh strainer that got astringent. But overall it was actually less dry and sour than some lose leaf Oriental Beauties I’ve had. I’m sure this is amazing when in whole leaf form. Thank you allisontsui for your generosity.

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drank Dong Ding by Allison Tsui
300 tasting notes

Okay I’m moving my tasting note over to the page Mercuryhime created to be more concise and deleting my old tasting note from 12 days ago. So sorry for the repost on your feed.

First a huge thank you to allisontsui for her generosity and hospitality in sharing three teas from Taiwan with several Formosa lovers on Steepster! This package arrived a couple days after I had gotten my samples from Nuvola and I had already brewed their delicious Dong Ding (review coming soon) so I opened this one first. Unfortunately I could tell just from feeling the 5 gram packet that the leaves were crushed. There were maybe half a dozen whole to partial pearls and quite a bit of dust, so sad it seems to have suffered the damage on its journey.

Still I treated the leaves with respect and brewed them gongfu being sure to put a fine mesh strainer over my cup, but even this let quite a bit of sediment through. Still the first cup was quite nice, it had somewhere between a woody to floral aroma, it was less charcoal and mineral than the orchid oolong I had been drinking earlier that day, but still had a nice light roast to it with some greener notes. Floral is what stood out to me the most, thought it wasn’t like a scented or intentionally floral blend, just very pleasant and soothing.

Unfortunately this first infusion was the only one worth drinking. It pains me to write this since the tea was given so generously, but try as I could to reinfuse this, no amount of temperature lowering or time adjusting could save these leaves from turning astringent. By the third infusion it was unpalatable and I had to pour it out :( Dong Ding/Tung Ting is a tea that in my limited experience (recent order from Nuvola, sample from Fong Mong and a wonderful yixing session at Essencha Tea House) has been a very unique, generous and forgiving tea.

I cannot speak to the quality of this tea before it was shipped, but I would urge everyone who swaps tea to package in a padded envelope or box where applicable as this one was rendered to bag quality. I will be trying the other samples this week and sending Allison some of my Dong Ding from Nuvola as well. I am glad I got one good cup out of this though.

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Now this is actually a very nice green tea, greener and creamier than the pricier Huang Shan Mao Feng it replaced and different than the Emerald Mao Feng I suspected they would use as a replacement, of course these thing could vary from harvest to harvest and it is possible they still got it from the same plantation, ahem, garden. I did not read the description before trying this at the mall with my friend Michelle today (it was one of the ones she hadn’t gotten to) but I could smell the umami notes from the liquor, I know, I know umami is a taste but seriously, it smelled all green and savory and soybean like. The the taste was fresh and umami and felt very creamy, the new girl was raving about it as well. Good find, $5 bucks cheaper, not sure how it will reinfuse, but I probably won’t pay money to find out, I’m sure one of the current employees on here can let us know though.

Gravitea

You can smell how things taste. In fact, about 80-90% of taste is smell. And I agree, you can really pick up on the umami smell right away.

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Bio

Druid, artist, poet, mum, lover of tea, ritual and myth. I grew up on Celestial Seasons herbals but fell in love with straight loose leaf tea working at my local Teavana for a year. I am grateful for the introduction and the experience, but have moved on.

I see tea as an experience for the senses, I like to imagine tasting the land and the weather as well as the effect of sun, air, fire and the human hand. I have a soft spot for shu pu’er, yabao, scented oolongs, wuyi oolongs, taiwanese tea as well as smooth naturally sweet blacks, creamy greens and surprisingly complex whites.

I began ordering lots of samples from Upton to educate myself on different varieties of tea we didn’t have at work and have fallen head over heels for the unique offerings from Verdant Tea. I am learning things I like: buttery mouthfeel, surprising sweet or spice notes, woodiness, mineral notes, depth and complexity and things I don’t: astringency, dry and sour notes.

I collect tea tins and am in danger of collecting pots, though I am trying to restrain the urge due to current lack of space. I brew mostly in a glass infuser mug or a tea maker, only using cast-iron for company now (still need to get a gaiwan) and tend not to sweeten my teas unless they are British or fruity and iced, which is not often.

As far as ratings, I lack a definite system and haven’t been assigning numbers lately, wanting to spend multiple sessions with a tea first. I usually only log a tea once, unless it is a new harvest or I have significantly different observations, but will go back and edit or comment if I find something interesting or new.

Location

Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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