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Recent Tasting Notes
Finally got a chance to try this, even though I think I’ve had it for almost a week now. When I saw this online I jumped at the opportunity to buy some because I loved the spring 2011 version so much. And usually my husband takes black tea for work, so he was also excited to try it.
After brewing it up 6 times, we agreed that it was a very good oolong and stands up to the previous version we tried. So if CS keeps stocking Ali Shan by Mr. Chen we will keep buying it. ;)
125ml yixing teapot, 1 generous tsp, 6 steeps
The tea description for this is spot on; malty, nutty, chocolatey. And with each sip I take, the flavour really builds up and becomes heavy in my mouth.
Of course there is no real chocolate in this, but that is why I find it so enjoyable. Whenever I buy flavoured tea with chocolate in it, I’m almost always disappointed. I just hate the sensation of drinking melted chocolate mixed with tea. Something about the consistency and sweetness of the brew makes me feel like a glutton (and not in a good way).
Enough ranting, I don’t have a sweet tooth but I do like this tea quite a bit. It’s sweet, but not too sweet (sometimes Bai Lin black tea and Oriental Beauty oolong tea are too sweet for my tastes). I can definitely see this as a good tea to drink during the winter. The rich sweet/earthy characteristics and heavy body are something I find pleasant in tea during this season. As a bonus, this tea appears to be very light so even my 50g bag fills a lot of space. So it should take me a while to go through all of this. Woot! :)
For recommendations, if you enjoyed CS’ Huiming Hong Cha or their Hualien Feng Mi, you will like Xiao Zhong (or vice versa).
200ml glass teapot, 1 generous teaspoon, 1 steep
Finally got around to trying this tea. I bought it a while ago but wanted to do a comparison tasting with the same type of tea from another vendor. Plus I wanted my husband around to give me his thoughts on the flavour.
Sniffing the lid of the tasting cups, we picked up on some unexpected flavours for a black tea.
Onto drinking them, the first cup (Jade Red sample from Life in Teacup) we tasted cherry, tomato, soft malt, barley, and a kind of leathery flavour (meant in a good way).
Then we drank from the other cup (Camellia Sinensis), here we tasted tomato, spices, raisin (minus sweetness) licorice, menthol sensation, soft malt, barley, and a kind of leathery flavour again. Sipping between both and thinking more about it, there is a wonderful heavy texture to both teas. In the aftertaste, much of the flavour remains and lingers for a good while.
This was a very unusual drinking experience. I have another Sun Moon Lake type from Life in Teacup, but it’s the small cultivar type, and they taste quite different!
Overall I love the flavours and the uniqueness it presents. However as much as I enjoy this tea, I wouldn’t drink it all the time, just as a nice treat. I would highly recommend trying this once, but it is an expensive tea so the smallest size possible is good. Make sure whoever you buy it from mentions T(aiwan)-18 cultivar or Jade Red, otherwise you may get the other type of Sun Moon Lake. (Personally I always buy small sizes, because I don’t know how much I’ll like the tea)
120ml comparison tasting cups, 2 tsp, 2 steeps
At first when I made this, I probably used too much leaf and not enough water. The result was overpowering and bitter. Anyway, I brewed a new batch in a tall glass mug with plenty of water (slightly more than 1 cup). Moving on to the tasting notes. ;)
Smelling the liquor on this second attempt, I feel relieved that it doesn’t smell bitter or pungent in any way. It has a nice floral scent, and the liquor is a light orange-yellow.
Taking my first sip, I’m again comforted in knowing I brewed this better. Drinking more, I taste something floral, spices, something like fuzzy peach, soft malty flavour, and light tea flavour. During the aftertaste a very floral lavender flavour lingers.
I never usually brew a full cup or more of water when I make tea, so I’ll keep that in mind when I brew this. Anyway, I’m very pleased with the results and it was entertaining to watch the long twisted leaves in a tall glass. Very good tea, it met and then exceeded my expectations.
290 ml of water in a glass mug, 2 tsp (hard to scoop the tea leaves, so I dunno), 1 steep
Lately this has been my go to tea in the morning. It’s a bit rough and harsh, but I like that sort of thing when I wake up. ;)
Usually I just do 2 steeps, starting with 1 min and then either 2 or 3 minutes for the resteep. The suggested 3-4 minutes for the first infusion is way too strong for me. If I were the sort of person that puts milk or sugar into tea, this one would be a candidate. Unfortunately I usually hate added sugar and I am lactose intolerant. So I adjust steep times to my liking.
I’m about 2/3’s the way through this bag, and I still pretty much feel the same as when I drank my first cup. It’s a nice tea, but I primarily bought it to try something new and develop my palate.
See previous tasting note for more comments on the tea flavour.
200ml glass teapot, 1 generous tsp, 2 steeps
Wow, this is my fourth tasting note for this tea. I usually just make one if it gets the point across or if I don’t change the steep parameters much. Anyway, today I am using my gaiwan to quick steep this tea.
Drinking the first cup was a treat, I tasted something tangy, malty, earthy, kinda sweet and with familiar black tea flavour.
Second cup continued to get stronger, with a new flavour sneaking in which I couldn’t quite describe. It gave me a nice resonating sensation throughout my body. (Sometimes I feel like great tea rings me like a bell!)
Not much change with the third steep, except the flavour is stronger to the point where it gets pretty bold.
The fourth steep is my favourite. Along with the familiar flavours there is an emphasis on cherry, with a bit more tangy/zesty going on, and an amazing sort of menthol sensation with the aftertaste. At this point I took a break to brew more water, and that sensation stuck around quite a while. Very pleasant.
With such a good experience from the last cup, the fifth while good… couldn’t really top it. The main quality I liked about this one was the reduction in the boldness of the tea. Three and four were a bit “in your face”, kinda boldness and this one is more friendly.
Flavour in the sixth cup shifted a bit, again I can’t really describe it well enough but it was a different feeling. Still tastes enough like a good cup of tea.
Finishing up with the seventh and eighth cups, I can finally taste the original water. (Usually this is my indication of where to stop.) But the brew still has a nice light, zesty, tea flavour going on.
I’ve had this tea in my cupboard for a while now, and today gave me a lot to reflect on. I think this tea comes out too weak or delicate if you use too much water, and today’s session with the gaiwan was my most pleasant. My favourite thing about this tea is the sensation it gives me, along with the combination of interesting flavours. It does a good job of keeping me captivated. Overall, a charming black tea with sweetness that does not overpower the wonderful earthy flavour.
100ml gaiwan, 2 tsps, 8 steeps (45s + 15s resteeps)
Now that I’m down to the last few grams of this tea, I’ve come to appreciate rose flavour. Whereas initially, I was a bit put off by how floral this tea was. If you’re looking for a more in depth review on the flavours, check my previous tasting notes. Anyway, it’s not a tea I’m in love with but overall I found it to be a very positive experience. This tea, along with a cheaper one from the same province have really peaked my interest. So I’m looking forward to trying more black tea from Szechuan in the future. :)
Looking at the CS website, this tea is “sold out”. However if it becomes available again, I recommend trying it if you enjoy black tea with strong floral notes.
160ml water in a 200ml glass teapot, 2tsps, 2 steeps
A mild celery sweetness that fills the mouth, but doesn’t blaze SWEET in the back-of-the-mouth like some Gao Shan oolongs (although I’m not really sure of the elevation of this tea). Very green tasting, with an bit of an energizing kick at the end. Dry aftertaste. Honeysuckle aroma in the leaf. Reminds me a lot of green San Lin She or fresh Pinglin Baozhong.
Infused in my light roast Yixing pot.
I’ve had this a few times so far, but didn’t bother to write a tasting note.
Anyway, today used some extra leaf today (not much) and extended the steep time to 4 mins (usually I start with 3). I got a nice strengthened chocolatey flavour, floral notes, and a nice little nip of bitterness. All of those properties combined makes me think of dark chocolate while I sip.
Sometimes when I add extra leaf I dislike the results, but this one turned out favourably. Very happy with this one so far.
From the aroma of dry leaves, I picked up on a nice nutty fragrance. And with the wet leaves and liquor, muscatel and floral notes. There was also something there that reminds me of white tea scent and the “springy” nature of FF.
Onto drinking the stuff, I immediately taste strong bold flavours, astringency sensation, and bitterness (the sort within my liking). Which kind of surprised me, because the aroma from the dry and wet leaves makes me think it will taste very delicate. The aftertaste is quite mellow, with no trace of the bitterness from before.
I can definitely sense the grapefruit flavour mentioned in the description. I think it’s a combination of the bold, bitter, and astringency I’m picking up on.
The second steep was much tamer. Along with the original tea flavour, there is a nice spiciness. I especially liked the experience of inhaling the tea aroma just before sipping. A very captivating tea for the senses.
All in all, I like this experience. It turned out to pack quite a punch, but in a good way. And it was nice to taste a tea from Sikkim, an area so close to Darjeeling, and taste the difference. I may have added a bit too much leaf, so I’ll see about toning down the tiger by adjusting my tea leaf/water ratios.
The scent of dry leaves inside the pouch remind me of that Grape Nuts cereal (like wheat? barley?). Other than that, nothing else really grabbed my nose.
Onto brewing the first cup. Aroma from the liquor and wet leaves makes me think of fleshy tomato and thick wheat bread, with the liquor having more floral and “tea” notes.
Taking in the first sips, I taste notes of malt, wheat, cinnamon, pepper, honey, and “flesh” or pulpy texture in my mouth. With a lingering kind of cinnamon and sour note. Such a lot of flavours in one cup, it definitely gives my mind a lot to think about! Besides the flavour, I really like the fleshy texture combined with the otherwise light body.
In the second steep, the honey aroma really stands out. Tasting the liquor, notes of cinnamon and honey grab my attention right away. Following with the same flavours from the first steep.
At the third steep, the flavour is still staying pretty strong. Just the fleshy texture is fading.
Steeps four to five: Mostly tasting sweetness and spice
Sixth steep: Sweet, muted flavours but still going
Seven and Eighth steeps: Hardly anything resembling tea, mostly just sweet, honey water
Overall I thought this tea was a nice surprise, because I didn’t have high expectations going into this purchase. For me, it was a nice balance of sweet, spices, texture and just enough floral notes. Like a lot of black tea from this retailer, resteeping black tea is totally worth it.
Ending note: This reminds me (minus the sweetness) very much of Camellia-Sinensis’ Zhenghe Hong Gong Fu. So if you’ve enjoyed that one it’s worth checking out Huiming Hong Cha (or vice versa). Also, the sweetness (honey, cinnamon) found in this tea kind of reminds me of the sweetness you find in roasted tea. Perhaps it’s like what I expect a black tea version of Oriental Beauty to taste of. A bit of a bold claim, but at the 2nd steep onward you get a really fantastic sweet/cinnamon flavour.
I’ve been drinking this all year, even during the wicked heat waves in Ontario. I love Lapsang Souchong so much, but it’s always more enjoyable when it’s cold and raining outside. Each sip makes me think about sitting around a warm campfire
Smoky, malty, slightly buttery, with a pleasant soft black tea body.
Out of the few LS I’ve tried, this is absolutely my favourite. This company also sells a more authentic (?) and expensive version, but the cheap version suits me just fine. (I’ve tried the other one, and it’s wonderful.) As a plus, this is one of my favourite teas from Camellia Sinensis that doesn’t sell out right away. Finally a word of warning: you’ll either love it or hate it. If you’ve never tried Lapsang Souchong before, I recommend getting a small size (at your retailer of choice)
Used a bit more leaf today, and I like the result. Still has a rose flavour, but now I get some notes of chocolate. There’s a bit of maltiness and fuzz that lingers in my mouth, which I find pleasant. Next steeps had more notes of lichee, just like I experienced in my previous tasting note.
Overall I find the flavours very “rich”, so not the sort of tea I’d want to drink too often. Definitely a nice treat to make up for that ripe puerh and osmanthus from yesterday. :D