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Recent Tasting Notes
Okay, as those of you who read my previous review for this tea may be aware, I was not completely satisfied with my brewing method, so I decided to change it up a little bit. I still went with a more or less Chinese gongfu approach, but used less leaf and started with a longer rinse and a longer first steep. My steep times for this session were as follows: 30 seconds, 35 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes, and 5 minutes. I still got all of the aromas and flavors I got before and in the same order to boot. Maybe my first attempt, though not ideal, was not so bad after all. I still really adore this tea.
Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Osmanthus, Pear
As much as I love Taiwanese oolongs, I have never spent all that much time on Dong Ding oolongs. For the most part, I have limited myself to baozhong, various jade oolongs, Jin Xuan, and the occasional Alishan. After seeing a ton of positive reviews for this tea, I knew I had to try it. I knew my Taiwanese tea journey would never be complete without an experience with an authentic Dong Ding.
I prepared this tea gongfu style, though I did not follow any of the traditional Taiwanese gongfu guidelines. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute 5 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, a glance at the dry tea leaves confused me. I think I was expecting a much heavier roast because the olive green rolled leaves with their buttery, floral, and creamy fragrance were certainly not what I was expecting. After the rinse, the previously mentioned floral, creamy, and buttery aromas were still there, joined by subtle traces of spice and orchard fruit. The first infusion produced a similar aroma. In the mouth, I mostly picked up mild notes of cream and butter balanced by fleeting impressions of flowers, cinnamon, and some kind of fruit. At this point, I realized that not only was my rinse too short, but my first infusion was as well. I decided to repeat it and then move forward. This time I got a much more floral, buttery aroma and slightly more pronounced notes of cream and butter. The floral notes began to separate a bit. I started to pick out distinct impressions of osmanthus, lily, hyacinth, honeysuckle, and lilac. I also noted a hint of cinnamon. Subsequent infusions brought out the tea’s spicier, fruitier, and more floral characteristics. I began to note more distinct impressions of cinnamon, lily, lilac, osmanthus, honeysuckle, and hyacinth to balance out the consistent cream and butter aromas and flavors. I also began to note an impression of fresh cucumber on the back of the throat, as well as impressions of apple and pear blossoms both on the nose and in the mouth. The extended later infusions absolutely intrigued me. The floral notes receded into the background and the cucumber was joined by a note of leaf lettuce. The cream, butter, and cinnamon were still there, but those apple blossom, pear blossom, and osmanthus notes gave way to actual flavors of apricot, fresh apple, and pear. I should also note that I never noted any mineral aromas or flavors, which is kind of strange considering that I pick up minerals consistently in the later infusions during many oolong sessions.
This tea hit me on several different levels. First off, I have to say that I was expecting a much more robust, syrupy flavor profile, but I did not get that. This tea was very smooth, balanced, and sophisticated, though it was also a bit more restrained than expected at points. Part of that may have been due to the completely off-the-wall way I decided to brew it. I also loved the orchard aroma and the orchard fruit flavors that emerged in the second half of this session. Many people do not know that I was raised on a hobby farm that primarily produced apples, so this tea created a series of childhood flashbacks for me. Finally, I should note that this tea had considerable staying power. It consistently offered something unique with each infusion. Even though I am not certain my brewing methods did this tea justice, I was still happy with the results. I’m going to play around with this one a little more, but all in all, I think it would be safe for me to say that this is pretty much a world-beating Dong Ding.
Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Osmanthus, Pear
The tea has those qualities that I hunt for with aged sheng puerhs. Woody, camphor, humid flavor and relaxing yet stimulating qi. Meditative.
Fortunate enough to grab the last two of these on sale. They’re gone now.
Flavors: Camphor, Wood
I’ve never had dragon well until now, and I’m pleasantly surprised. It has a nice buttery greens flavor with nutty overtones. The finish leaves you with a dryness to your mouth, which I enjoy in a green.
Flavors: Butter, Green, Nutty
This is really an excellent tea – the first one I’ve tried from BTT that I actually bought off their site. I drank some of this sample with some teafriends to celebrate the New Year :) The dry leaf looked pretty green, but the had a bit of a popcorn aroma to it, along with some slight green floral. After a rinse, it smelled more like caramel corn. I was surprised with how green the leaves started to look after they unfurled, but the aroma and taste certainly confirmed that this is a skillfully roasted tea.
This tea displayed characteristics both from green oolong and from more highly roasted teas. There were some succulent floral and cucumber notes, but also some more nutty and roasty flavors which interacted beautifully with each other. The tea also came across as very creamy. A sweet nutty flavor, almost like candied almond, lingered in the back of my mouth for many minutes after I finished each cup, even at the very end of the session. It made it hard to start my next tea, because I didn’t want that flavor to go away.
This tea is definitely a hit for me. I enjoyed it with 195F water, the recommended temperature on the package, but it also performed quite well with boiled water. This is a tea which I could certainly see myself reordering after I’ve had a chance to try some of BTT’s other oolong offerings.
On a secondary note, I think I’ve been fully converted to the roasted side of oolong. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some very good green oolongs out there (including things like the DYL I tried from BTT a couple months ago), but roasted oolongs just seem to offer nicer flavors and greater texture and complexity, at least as far as my palate is concerned.
Flavors: Cucumber, Floral, Nutty, Sweet
This is a nice friendly black that has some characters of a good white. It has that gentle honey and cinnamon taste to it, which makes it more of a bright black than dark. White tea also tends to have this vanilla type base that I think I can identify here.
There’s a bit of maltiness and astringency to it that clearly identifies it as a black tea. I haven’t tried a lot of Taiwanese blacks, so I can’t say where this ranks yet, but it’s very nice, sweet, and gentle.
Backlog. I picked this tea up at last year’s Midwest Tea Fest. Steeped westren at 190F, 4 min, appox 12oz.
Floral, tingly, and fruity, but not peach or berry. I got three more steeps from this so it has lasting flavor. Pretty good.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity
This tea is delicious. Toasty and roasty while being a little bit lighter than a usual black tea, this is a unique tea that feels somewhere between a black and a roasted oolong. I am bummed that I only got a sample of this but will be ordering more the next time I put in an order with the company.
Flavors: Roasted, Toasty
While this tea still sits on more of the umami green type of flavors that I find seem to be a common occurrence (at least with the BTTC black teas that I have tried), it is subtler and has more depth, nuance, and complexity to it.
In fact, on the first steep, I didn’t notice the slightly vegetal flavors in this tea. On the second steep though they seemed to come out. I was getting ready to dismiss this tea as another one of “those kind of teas.” I am glad that I didn’t as this proved to be much more. While this companies black teas haven’t been real impressive to me, this has been one of the better of the bunch that I have tried.
This tea opens with notes of graham cracker and hay, transitioning to grass and flowers. The floral quality grows in the finish alongside a delightful sweetness, and both linger for some time. While subtle overall, and with a light mouthfeel, there is a refined complexity to the flavors here.
At this point in the year, I am spending a good deal of my free time slurping down a lot of the green teas and lighter oolongs I have accumulated over the course of the year. I just can’t stand the thought of those fragile teas going stale before I get the opportunity to try them. This baozhong I picked up sometime toward the end of the summer was a product of the winter 2015 harvest. Though it is not a fancy competition grade baozhong, it does hold some appeal.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Note that I am still using more or less mainland Chinese methods when it comes to preparing these Taiwanese oolongs. For this session, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 10 seconds following a quick rinse. This was followed by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute 5 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 2 minutes 30 seconds, and 3 minutes 30 seconds.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves emitted a mild, pleasant vegetal aroma with a hint of floral character. After the rinse, the floral character became slightly stronger. I also began to note scents of cream and butter emerging. The first infusion presented more clearly defined aromas of sweetgrass, snap peas, soybean, violet, sweet pea, gardenia, vanilla, lily, lilac, and magnolia. In the mouth, there was a slight floral character on the entry, though it was nothing like the nose. I mostly perceived flavors of vanilla, cream, custard, butter, snap peas, sweetgrass, spinach, and soybean. Subsequent infusions saw the floral character become more assertive on the nose and more distinct in the mouth. At this point, I was able to pick out the individual floral components on the tongue that I was getting on the nose. Later infusions were smooth, creamy, and vegetal all around. The floral character began to fade, allowing aromas and flavors of sweetgrass, snap peas, soybean, spinach, cream, butter, custard, and vanilla to move to the fore once again. I also noted a slight mineral presence on the finish and a hint of ripe honeydew that I noted at no other point during the session.
I’ve had other farmer’s choice baozhongs this year and I have to say that I enjoy them about as much as some of the more acclaimed competition grade teas. They are just so pleasant and easy to drink. While this particular baozhong displayed the thin mouthfeel that I do not always immediately appreciate and often associate with spring harvested baozhongs, it did display a nice, though simplistic layering of floral, savory, and vegetal aromas and flavors. I was also impressed by just how much character the tea retained over a fairly lengthy session. Though this was not my favorite non-competition baozhong that I have tried this year, I did find a lot to like about this one. I could see it making a respectable everyday baozhong.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeydew, Mineral, Peas, Soybean, Spinach, Vanilla, Violet
I think this is a masterful job of roasted oolong in that the roast is very slight. Don’t get me wrong, heavily roasted, charcoal-y oolongs are some of my favorites. However, this one was done I think with an eye on balance. It sits right in that in between space where every sip I’m left wondering what I tasted more: the roast or the florals.
Where you DO get a lot of the charcoal is on the scent of the brewed/wet leaves. Smells delightful.
No matter which way this tea leans, it carries with it a creamy nuttiness that I adore. Very smooth and tasty.
Now on the second steep, more of the roasted flavors become a bit more dominant. I’m interested to see if this swings back to more floral after a few more steeps.
After about 6 steeps, I should say that this tea does end up tipping into the more roasted column. Which is A-ok with me. But it isn’t too heavy handed. A really solid tea overall.
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Nutty, Roasted
This tea is a bit more complex than what I’ve experienced before. I don’t much care for the floral scents of regular high mountain oolongs, but I love the mouthfeel and other subtleties. This tea has those qualities without the perfumed flavor. The initial steep has a delicious charcoal note without any smokiness. This gives way to a creamy, roasted nut, rice, and milk taste with a muted floral note. As the leaves unfurl there is a stronger flavor of rice that comes out with a slight astringency.
Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Floral, Milk, Rice, Roast nuts, Smooth
As others have said, this tea is highly unusual for a white, the leaves look much like black tea with a ridge on the buds that is silvery green; it’s very pretty to look at. The flavor comes out just as unusual. There is a smooth buttery mouthfeel that sticks with you, followed by a brief moment of making your mouth water. This tea gets more and more interesting.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Nutty, Vanilla
I just came here to say that this tea impressed me so much that I just made a full (2oz) order despite me having spent waaay too much money on tea just a month ago. I have been fretting ever since I tasted it that this tea would get sold out and I would never get my hands on it again. So, despite my already full tea cabinet, this was one I absolutely HAD to buy more of after a sample.
Wow. This is absolutely a wow tea. I was shocked at how buttery, creamy, and smooth this tea is from the first steep onward. Like, audible noises of delight while drinking it. I think my wife and children thought me a weirdo. (Lets face it. They’ve thought that long before this little stint)
There isn’t much more to say about this. It is buttery. Feels creamy on the tongue and throat. There are some floral aspects to it but not strong. Which is great because I’m not a huge floral oolong guy. I’m kind of in love with this tea and now I understand the price tag on it. And now I’m contemplating ordering much more than just a sample of this.
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral