22 Tasting Notes
After spending a year and a half focusing on greens, I decided to mix it up and try an oolong that arrived in my Verdant sample box. The leaves are gorgeous, twisted, enormous dark things with an amazing smell fresh out of the package. Super duper tippy magic pekoe this clearly is not, but there’s no breakage to speak of and the leaves are pristine both dry and after they unfurl.
My first and continued thought about Shui Jin Gui Wuyi: WHAT IS IT? Sitting there with my first cup, brewed as a compromise between western style and gong fu, that was the question that came back to mind with every whiff and every sip. It smelled oddly familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It tasted familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. And I still can’t assign any specific name to it. Earthy, water chestnutty, coppery… but not quite. Like sucking on a dirty, tarnished penny… but not exactly. I realize I probably don’t make it sound particularly appetizing, but there’s something satisfying about it that demands continued drinking.
Second steep: The indescribable flavor continues to dominate, slightly stronger and with added notes of fire-roasted hazelnuts. For an intriguing juxtaposition, it also develops a cloying honey, slightly-fruity (summer melon?) finish that lasts between sips. (Verdant and other reviews describe it as elderberry; this Swedish-American doesn’t find that in his cuppa.)
Third steep: The sweetness moves into the main flavor profile. A more relaxed cup.
Fourth: Slightly more astringent cup. Scent now resembles a green. Flavors very mellow. Roasted coffee note develops. Continuing this tea’s trend of unexpected contrasts, the finish is heavy on the floral (citrus blossoms—a scent and taste I know well) with a hint of caramel and a slight creaminess.
Fifth: Very light liquor. Probably should have steeped longer. Grapefruit. Lingering citrus blossom/jasmine finish. Slight, passing copper note on the finish.
Sixth: The leaves aren’t spent quite yet, but results are getting light enough even with extended steeps that I called it quits. Copper moves up in the flavor profile, grapefruit moves back. Finish is extremely sweet with no hint of flavor.
There’s green tea in this?! There’s lemon in this?
Great bottle, but I don’t know why they’re filling it with… whatever factory rejects they’re filling it with. Watery. All you can taste is the vanilla and sugar. Occasionally you’ll get a burn of ginger as an aftertaste. There is no universe in which this murky vanilla-flavored sugar water is worth almost $3.
It’s drinkable and that’s about it.
I don’t know what it is with Steaz, but everything they sell is this weird, watery, flavorless impression of tea. Maybe labeling them as “Iced Teaz” is more than cutesy marketing; maybe it’s truth in advertising and they’re selling Iced Tease rather than iced tea.
Attractive color. Vaguely peachy flavor. Only the slightest hint of green tea.
It’s green tea, y’all.
Nothing remarkable. Also nothing bad. Steeped at Rishi’s recommended quantity for their recommended time, Jade Cloud yields a clear liquor with a mild vegetal scent. They say hints of chestnut; I’d say hints of water chestnut.
Flavor is mild, slightly sweet, slightly grassy, with occasional hints of pear. Zero astringency when prepared Rishi’s way. Very drinkable but forgettable. I could see this one as an everyday tea if you got a good price on it. Just flavorful enough to know you’re drinking tea, and neutral enough you could drink it with anything.
Package claims two steeps. No disagreement from me; second is weaker but drinkable, third is a no go.
This one’s fair trade, which earns it warm social justice fuzzies but doesn’t affect the flavor.
I have yet to be happy with this one. Adagio’s recommended quantity and temperature yielded astringent water. Tripling the leaves to a tablespoon yields a stronger (but still subtle) beverage, but it quickly turns the corner to harsh bitterness.
Success lies somewhere near the two teaspoon mark. Problem is, at that point it’s butting heads price-wise with much more interesting teas. It also doesn’t seem to be usable at any quantity for more than two steeps (and even two’s pushing it if you’re following Adagio’s recommendations).
It’s not bad, it’s just not good. Or much of anything else, really. Unremarkable, simple, and straightforward. I don’t mind a delicate tea when it’s rewarding or complex, but Green Pekoe just kind of… exists.
I did not have high hopes for this one upon opening the package. It smells like alfalfa. How could it possibly taste good? Well, if alfalfa tastes like White Monkey, I’m going to Petsmart and brewin’ me up some alfalfa.
Steeped to Adagio’s recommended 2 minutes I found it much too light. Steeping to 3 minutes provides the best initial steep in my opinion. It’s still quite light, but 3 minutes gave me a flavor more akin to tea than hot water. Delicate, clean, and refreshing, White Monkey hides a pleasing sweetness under all that alfalfa bluster.
I’m often a fan of brewing directly in a glass cup, and for White Monkey this yields an interesting change in the taste profile if left unfiltered. What starts out light, sweet, and without a hint of vegetation (and frankly orgasmic) slowly becomes richer, more buttery, and pleasingly vegetal. The scent moves from a nice fresh alfalfa to a gross overcooked broccoli with a connecting flight in boiled spinach. This tea is a filthy trickster, its scents belying its flavors.
A second infusion doesn’t recapture the initial sweetness, but does develop a surprising honeydew melon note. It also takes on a lingering creamy mouthfeel I don’t particularly care for in tea, but it’s not bad. A third infusion at 5 minutes cut back the creaminess while introducing a vaguely citrus, vaguely melon rind flavor to the honeydew. You could probably squeeze out a fourth, but I took the rind note as a portend of bitter doom.