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Recent Tasting Notes
This tea caught my attention during my Spring 2014 harvest purchase. It’s a Chinese tea produced with the methods of FF Darjeeling teas. I love trying new (novelty?) teas, and this one exceeded my expectations. I’ve been drinking a bit of it on and off since my spring tea purchase two months ago, and here are my tasting notes from my tea session today:
Tea liquor has a medium yellow color, and the wet tea leaves smell like a Darjeeling tea.
Sipping from my single long steep, notes of spices and a rich fruit flavour really grabbed my attention. The tea body itself is light and refreshing, not dull or flat. It doesn’t really taste like a Darjeeling to me, but it has some nice similarities.
Overall I think the method they used to make this tea sets it apart from both ‘just a Darjeeling’ or ‘just a Chinese black tea’. The qualities of the terroir give it a smooth tea body, and the method imparts a unique flavor for a Chinese tea.
Worth a try if you love Chinese black teas and want something different.
Received a sample of this fresh 2014 Taiwanese oolong from a friend. Brewed up about 2 grams in 115 ml, did a quick rinse of the leaf in a strainer first, then proceeded with gongfu steeps in a Jian Shui pot which may have been a poor choice. I read oolong on the label, the leaf looked dark, but when I brewed it I saw it is green oolong and not a dark roast.
This tea is incredibly floral, heavy on the gardenia, or orchid or pea flower. Since this is a natural flavor and not artificially added, it is quite lovely. But the tea is too green for my liking. The soup is greeny-brown, which is okay, but it was very astringent and the sweet flower flavor then went sour on the tongue afterward and lingered. Had two cups and didn’t want anymore. I would probably love this more deeply roasted, the roast would have given a sweet lingered taste instead of the sour. But then I might as well be considering a black tea, because some of this same floral taste was present in the Wild Purple Dehong Black I reviewed recently.
This is probably a really good tea, just not my taste so I will leave off a rating.
Flavors: Garden Peas, Gardenias, Orchid, Pleasantly Sour
I was surprised to receive an unopened 10 g sample of this from a Steepsterite. Even more surprising is that Camellia Sinensis reviewed and boosted the rating for this tea, most likely to justify the price they are charging at $58.25 for 1.76 oz. The 10 g sample I got is thus a $10 sample! Much thanks for the opportunity to try this.
Tai Ping Hou Kui is one of China’s 10 Famous Teas, and the real stuff is grown from a larger leaf tea cultivar known as Shi Da Cha. To be the genuine stuff, it must be from one of three villages in the Anhui Province at the foot of Hwang Shan (mountains). The pluck is 1 bud/ 3 leaf and then a repluck is done at the local small factory by hand to remove 2 of the four leaves. This is part of the expense of this tea, as no branch without the bud should be picked, and the leaf with the bud must be perfectly straight. Next it is partially dried in bamboo, and then heated three times in the bamboo over charcoal. After this the leaves are laid flat by hand onto mesh screens and a roller is used on the screens to press the straight leaf/bud combo flat and straight. Then the tea is dried in the screens.
After all this, yet another quality inspection is done and the final product is sorted and graded. The top quality earning the title of Tai Ping Hou Kai must have 1 bud/1 leaf exclusively. Any leaf missing a bud, chopped bud, any 3rd or 4th leaves, any loose leaves, any chopped leaves must be labeled Hou Jian and sold under that name.
A tea is not a Famous Tea worthy of the title unless it is what it is supposed to be. The criteria for this tea is one of the strictest and extensive, not to mention all the processing involved. It must be judged by this criteria, especially with the high prices associated with this tea. This tea is also made and sold from villages outside of the Three, and may be just as good, but it is sold as a fake and few would ever be able to tell.
This tea is not fake, but my sample is Hou Jian. Being a sample, and undergoing all the shipping and handling would no doubt break buds off. But in 5 grams brewed I found 1 intact bud/leaf, a few broken off buds, lots of extra leaves and a lot of chopped leaves. Looking at the rest of the bag, it is all leaves and chop. The mix is dark green with some yellow ones, the color should be more of a uniform medium green, not dark green.
As a Hou Jian, this tastes pretty good. Because the leaf is already heated over charcoal 3x, you get the taste of a stronger Dragonwell flavor without needing to fuss over the water temperature. The tea is already scorched so it can take hot water. I got a good 5 quick steeps of 5 grams in 115 ml water before the flavor gave out. Very warm, a little spice from the char, yellow soup. For me the flavor is like a Dragonwell/Longjing but more intensely so.
Would I recommend this? Sure, but not at this price. You can get basically this same tea at 1/5 the cost on a lot of other sites. They will call it Tai Ping Hou Kui too, but only charge you $13/oz. Still pricey, but even Hou Jian has a lot of processing behind it. I am doubtful that the real Tai Ping would be sold outside of China and especially not to a western buyer. It is an imperial product. So, buy yourself some “Tai Ping” and know that Camellia Sinensis isn’t really doing anything different from other western vendors, but their price is high and it is going to be Hou Jian no matter where you buy it, so might as well just get the best price you can someplace else.
My rating is for taste, I quite liked the tea.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Green, Spicy
I had this one earlier today as well when i wanted something a little lighter. This one was sent my way by omgsrsly likely via missB?? This one isn’t bad but it’s a little on the light side. While i’m not overly a fan of green teas, when i do have them, i like it when they’re a little more in your face in terms of their “green” flavour. this one seems almost subdued or something heh overall though, not bad just nothing to knock me off my feet.
this is a poignant paper umbrella!
a graceful gift from the brilliant VariaTea…..
this tea is velvet sadness. a paper umbrella driven outside by circumstance into a rainstorm, facing uncertainty. how is a paper umbrella to handle the onslaught of water? the rhubarb is a bitter stab of upset softened by the strawberry strands of optimism.
ombrelle de papier is whisked out the door under an impetus of regret, cushioned by the unconditional love of strawberry, padded by the dissolving paper umbrella structure of beautiful white tea.
magnificent. a story. poignant. although all the fruit is red i see it in my head as blue. bright and sprightly, but somehow tragic.
i am a ham. =0/
Started this cold brew in the morning when I got up, and strained it out about an hour ago to drink while watching Big Brother!
It was ok; at first I found it very, very floral and concentrated in flavour – but after making it about 1/4 of the way through the mason jar I found that I’d gotten over the initial shock of the concentrated rose notes and I was able to enjoy the sweet, candy like taste of the cherry, guava, and cocoa. Mostly the cherry/guava, though.
Ultimately it was ok but I dislike that I had to “acclimate” to it, so I’ll probably be sticking with hot brews going forward.
Flavors: Cherry, Floral, Guava, Perfume, Rose
This was a lovely Long Jing. A slightly bitter vegtal notes, think like a belgian endive, mixed with roasted chestnuts, and some light chocolate notes. While it wasn’t as ‘full-bodied’ or long lasting mouth feel, this was still a very enjoyable tea to enjoy.
Way too pricey though in my opinion.
Hmmm. Unfortunately I just can’t seem to brew this tea in a way that I like it. I get a decent Chinese green tea taste, with a fair bit of minerals, but other than that it just feels weak with no character.
I love the shape of how pretty these leaves are, but dare I say that this is a tea that is even too delicate for me.
Uh, hello? Anyone home? Can I get some tea please. Where is the tea, cuz I can’t taste anything in this water,. Yes, 8 grams in 90 ml produces a colored water.
Ordered a sample of this from Camellia Sinensis mainly because I am still chasing that camphorated finish which everybody but me seems to detect in teas grown next to camphor bushes. I didn’t really believe the 800 year old part, but Bada mountain does have some wild trees, including the 33 ft tall king of trees you can see in photos on chwangshop’s tea blog. Not sure if this tea is one of Vesper Chan’s efforts, the photo of the cake has a house label.
I have had two sessions with this tea so far. I can finally get that camphorated finish because I can feel it down my esophagus. Other than that, I am striving to find flavor here. I get some sour (the “citrusy”) and a bit of the aged wood. But if this tree is really old, it must be tired, cuz this is the most watery sheng I’ve tasted. I’ll probably stuff my pot with the rest of this next time to finish off the sample size. Not sure It is possible to buy a cake, the tea is sold by ounces, I think they just break up the cakes.
Flavors: Camphor, Oak wood, Sour
This is one that I really could find myself loving. This one has a little longer oxidation time, and is darker. Which is exactly what I like in my first flushes. No surprise there is also a bit more muscatel taste.
Overall I like this tea, I like the tangerine/cashew tany/sweetness of it, but I also getting a feeling of this tea not being at its full potential.
I didn’t taste that much distinction at first, however as it cooled I got some nice woody tastes, as well as more enjoyable floral aromas. I did enjoy this after some roasted hummus though so maybe my taste buds were combining the two!
Good floral tones of gardenia and magnolia, as well as some pepper and not so distinct vegetables.
This is a perfectly fine Darjeeling, its just a little bit mediocre, especially compared to the others I have tasted so far. I get a nice oaty grain taste, and a oily vanilla taste. If you are into wines, think American oak over French oak.
The fault with this one may be with me though, as it certainly had a higher bitter vegetal note. As it cooled I got some nice floral tones of gardenia too.
A little less pricey than the Thurbo, I had a hard time distinguishing between the two. I would describe the Seeyok though as being more “fruity” and more “woodsy” though. The astringency was mild, and I got some roasted red pepper, as well as some almost artificial cherry tastes underneath the ‘green’ first flush taste.
While I enjoy oolongs, I’m not one to become obsessed over them. This tea has a lovely vegetal floral aroma as it brews (think steamed spinach with gardenia flowers), but the taste didn’t quite live up to this heady aroma. The brew was almost a salty bok choy, or endive, which was pleasant, just wasn’t expecting.
This was the most expensive FF black Darjeeling that Camellia Sinensis offered; which set a high standard in my book.
Luckily this tea followed through. While a little more light and delicate than I usually appreciate in my FF’s, this had a lovely floral aroma, that had a soft sweetness to it that I would describe as nectar.
Jasmine and roses and faint honey suckle, with a honey crisp apple astringency/sweetness. As it cooled it gained a bit more nutty/full bodied taste that I would describe as dried walnuts.
Dry, this smells SO GOOD. And also comes in the CUTEST tin. http://instagram.com/p/qNXgDdR5FA/
Unfortunately, steeping it at 85C as recommended has resulted in a bitter mess. There are some neat flavours there, floral and herbaceous/spicy. Maybe it would be better as a mini cold brew? I’ll have to try. (Maybe. If my bladder can handle it.)
Flavors: Floral, Spicy, Wood
This arrived as a sample in my latest CS order. Usually I drink pure tea all the time (with the exception of rooibos sometimes at night). When I first got into drinking loose leaf tea I liked having chai. So it is a type of drink I like to have, but not something I’ve been craving lately.
I’ve prepared this a few times already with the generous sample they mailed, and today’s infusion turned out just as satisfying. The loose leaf tea and spices have a strong scent (heavy on the ginger and cardamon). Chai liquor has an agreeable black tea flavour that isn’t too bitter, and the spices taste energetic.
Overall I found it to be interesting, zesty, and not dull in any way. It met my expectations by not being bitter, bland, or too off balance.
Queued post, written May 7th 2014
I got this one from MissB, who doesn’t seem to know very much about it, judging from the information on the tea page.
It’s a rooibos blend and it has been flavoured with… something. I think it seems very similar to the rooibos blend I have from Nothing But Tea which has vanilla and raspberry, so this is my first instinct. It definitely smells and tastes like some sort of berry, perhaps several kinds of berry. I can’t really pinpoint any that I think it’s more like, so I’m thinking perhaps it’s some kind of forest fruit or four red fruits blend on a rooibos base. These are not usually mixed with anything else so far as I know, though, and I’m pretty certain there’s something in here that adds sweetness.
Which leads me back to vanilla and raspberry.
Curious, I then went and made up a small cup of the vanilla raspberry blend from NBT that I mentioned earlier so that I could compare it directly. They are indeed extremly similar, the NBT blend being a little more berry-tart and this one more evenly blended.
Having thus determined the mystery of this blend, I can move on to inform you that I find it a very pleasant blend. Of course, it’s already a blend that I like on a rooibos base (who are we fooling, I’d probably like it on almost any base), so perhaps I’m a little biased. I’ve been drinking up the NBT blend for my before bed beverages as it’s getting very old. I expect I’ll be using this blend in the same way. This is not at all a bad thing. :)
My friend ordered this in their teahouse. I had a sip of it and had to bring home some for myself.
Large, stiff, tightly rolled leaves. The aroma of raspberries and cream rises to meet your nose.
Brewing retains those berry aromas and a touch of sweet milkiness, while adding a bit of maltiness and a little bite of astringency and bitterness. The texture is silky smooth and medium-thin.
This would be an excellent breakfast tea, if you like yours a bit on the lighter side. Superb with milk (and sugar, if you wish). A nice example of an Indian black tea with that touch of tart berry giving it something unique.
Flavors: Berries, Malt, Milk, Raspberry, Sweet, Tannic
The super lovely VariaTEA picked me up a bunch of this before leaving Montreal, so I’m pretty well stocked for the time being but that doesn’t stop me from feeling like I should be hoarding this special, special tea! I broke it out today though because today seemed like a fancier occasion, and I was craving something sweet and juicy.
I’ll be perfectly honest, I wasn’t paying the closest attention to how I steeped it. The water temperature was low but how low I couldn’t tell you. I used lots of leaf, but how much I couldn’t tell you. I steeped it maybe more than I should have but again, how much more I wouldn’t be able to say. What can I say? Well whatever combination of things it was it was the perfect one!
This was to die for, succulent mouthwatering strawberry/rhubarb and sweet pineapple. I enjoyed every last flavourful drop of it and had ZERO regrets about making a quantity tea instead of choosing to take an easier sipdown.
Tyrell also liked the smell of this one a lot, so maybe I’ll make it for him sometime…
Flavors: Pineapple, Rhubarb, Strawberry
Origin: High mountains, Taiwan
Thank u to Camellia Sinensis for this sample with purchase!!
Dry Leaf: Tiny, rolled dark forest green pellets. Scents of hazelnut, cream, honeysuckle. Smells so delish!!
Method: 10 oz ceramic gong fu pot – measured out 100ml/3.4 oz water – 2 tsp tea – 200F
10 " rinse/ 15"/25"/25"/30"
Wet Leaf: Roughly chopped medium size pieces and then very tightly rolled forest green leaves. No stems. Very bright green and leaves open fully after 3rd steeping.
Liquor: Light, clear pearl. Mostly floral scent. Hazelnut scent has gone :(
Flavor: Flowers and cream. Not a very creamy mouthfeel, just a tiny tiny touch. Unfortunately, I didn’t detect any hazelnut in the flavor as I had in the scent of the dry leaf. There was a tiny touch of nuttiness after the leaves had fully opened but not as much as the dry leaf scent had teased me with :(
Very good Oolong though, with no bitter, astringency, or stomach upset.
I have a bit more of this sample and must try it again to see if I can coax out the rich cup with a touch of nutmeg and an edge of fresh vanilla that are expressed in the tasting notes. They do say an explosive floral nose and an echo of caramel in the aftertaste. I do detect that from my tasting. Gonna use one of my smaller gong fu pots now that I see these leaves are smaller and chopped and don’t need a super large expansion space,,,that might be where I can get those flavors :)
Flavors: Cream, Flowers