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Recent Tasting Notes
To celebrate our 5th anniversary married together, I prepared one of my husband’s (and mine) favourite teas: Jin Die.
Drinking from the first steep, I’m greeted with the familiar flavours of Jin Die: deep rich, earthy tea body, cinnamon, spices, tomato (not like SML), the liquor ends on a smooth-velvety feeling. An odd characteristic also makes it’s appearance here, the flavour of ripe puerh. It’s not something I expect from black tea, but I quite like it!
The second steep is much the same with some chocolate and pepper showing up.
As I keep drinking through the steeps, the flavour just keeps intensifying. Fifth steep brought out some caramel flavour, and was our favourite steep.
In each resteep the flavour started to weaken very gradually. I could taste the puerh flavour up until about the 9th, and much of the spice notes stayed up until the 15th.
I ended on the 16th steep because I really couldn’t drink anymore tea. It didn’t even have the taste of my water, just really weak, earthy, fuzzy, slightly sweet tea. The liquor had a yellow-amber colour, which is still pretty dark for so many resteeps I think.
Overall, I have always found Jin Die to be an amazing black tea, but this short steeping experience has heightened my enjoyment of it. As of writing this review, it’s my best black tea resteeper (Ying De Hong Cha from Jing Tea Shop had 14, Yunnan Dian Hong golden tips from Teavivre had 12). My husband isn’t obsessed with tea like I am, and he doesn’t always remember the flavour or names of our teas (especially if they are foreign), but Jin Die has left a powerful impression on him and it quickly became one of our favourites.
See previous tasting notes for more of my thoughts on this tea
100ml gaiwan, 2tsp, 16 steeps (30s, +15s resteeps)
Up’d rating slightly
Tonight I’m brewing SML in a gaiwan, because I’ve yet to short steep it until now. Anyway,
First steep starts off tasting very mild and friendly, then after a few seconds a rush of flavour comes out. I’m getting a hint of the unique SML flavours here, malt, zesty tomato, vanilla, grains, cinnamon
Second steep it obviously much stronger, with the typical powerful SML flavours showing up.
Sniffing gaiwan lid, the scents made me think of soy sauce and tomato.
Moving onto the third steep, it keeps getting more and more intense. Now there is a minty/menthol flavour coming out. It mixes really well with the existing flavours into something that makes me think of licorice.
At the fourth steep the tea leaves have completely unfurled. Tasting the liquor, the mint is more powerful, along with the existing flavours. I think this fourth cup really tests your tolerance for STRONG flavours.
The fifth steep tasted like the tea flavour was weakening, but it’s otherwise pretty strong.
Sixth to twelfth steeps continued to get progressively weaker, but otherwise I enjoyed the typical SML flavours.
I go into more depth with my earlier tasting note, but in summary: I love SML because it is such a unique tea.
This short steeping experiment worked out nicely, I think I prefer it to the traditional one steep western style. For one thing, I think the menthol/mint comes out better here. As a bonus, the long, twisted dark leaves are a delight to watch in a gaiwan, and the large open mouth of this tea vessel makes it great to sniff the wet leaves.
100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp, 12 steeps (30s, +15s resteeps)
So lately I have been looking through my tasting notes and finding which teas do not have short steeping notes. I don’t write about every cup of tea I brew, but I like to make one note for long steeps and one note for short steeps. Anyway,
I brewed this tea today and the flavours were pretty consistent up until the third or fourth cup. It doesn’t keep the main flavour of one long steep, but it’s similar enough. And then came the expected downward spiral of weakening tea flavour, but what really shocked me was the CIGAR aroma in my fifth cup.
Whoa whoa whoa, what?!?!
I’m not disgusted or anything but it’s a strange thing to suddenly appear in my tea. I’ve tried some young raw puerh before and that’s given me a similar cigar aroma.
Okay so with these turn of events I had to keep resteeping. The sixth cup had an even stronger cigar aroma. I mean there is a hint of the original tea flavours but this was completely unexpected. By the time I got to the seventh cup the cigar aroma was almost completely gone. I kept resteeping it but the eighth and ninth cups were so weak and full of my original water flavour.
What a weird experience… I almost want to believe my senses just felt like trolling me this morning. ;) I’ll have to try and redo this again sometime to see if I can duplicate the experience. (edit: Tried this short steeped at a later date and it still had the cigar aroma with 5-6)
100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp, 9 steeps (30s + 15s resteeps)
This tea has been a favourite of mine since the first day I brewed it. It’s also one of the few teas I’ve ever repurchased. For the most part, I like buying a tea once and then moving onto something different. Since it’s a favourite, I opened bag #2 only recently even though I purchased it in August. ;)
Today I prepared 8 short steeps of it in a gaiwan. The first 8 were very flavourful (strong tea body, great roasted flavour) and 9-10 were pretty good too, although I mostly just tasted the sweet and roasted notes. I don’t usually short steep this one but I think I’ll make a habit of it now.
100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp, 10 steeps (30s +15s resteeps)
See previous tasting notes for more of my thoughts on this tea.
Absolutely loving this tea. I’ve brewed it on a few occasions now and I can definitely see why people call Darjeeling the “champagne of teas”. This totally reminds me of champagne!
It’s so light, delicate, muscatel, and the other fruit/floral notes combine well. Everything here is in harmony, I couldn’t ask this tea to preform any better. Savoured each sip until the last drop.
Very happy I had a chance to try this out. Of course their book (Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties) hyped it up a bit so I was itching to get my hands on it. ;)
1 tsp, 250ml water, 1 steep
Strange, I’m down to the last few grams of this tea and I’ve never written a tasting note for this prepared gongfu style.
Sipping from the first steep, the rose floral notes are very powerful. Tea body is a nice smooth, deep earthy flavour, with notes of spice and pepper.
Second steep, much of the same flavour remains but now it’s slightly sweeter. I’m also adjusting to the floral notes. So that doesn’t bother me as much now.
At the third steep, I feel that the flavour is starting to weaken but it’s still a good cup.
I took a break here and sniffed my gaiwan. It smells like wood and soy sauce. Strange, but that’s what came to mind.
Fourth and fifth steeps continued to weaken in flavour, but were enjoyable and the rose floral notes remained.
I gave up at the sixth steep because I could start to taste the original water. Otherwise, not a very interesting cup flavour-wise.
Not a favourite, but the flavour from this tea and another one (Zhao Bai Jian Hong Gong Fu) from the same province have piqued my interest. I’m looking forward to try more tea from Szechuan in the future. I’m happy to have tried this tea once, it was a good experience even if I’m not in love with the tea.
If you dislike tea with strong floral notes I would avoid trying Chuan Hong.
100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp, 6 steeps (30s, +10s resteeps)
I still have a bit of this, so I decided to short steep some. Not really a fan of the results, as it’s still a really strong tasting tea. With the short steeps, I tasted a bit more of a zesty flavour which reminded me of the dan cong black tea I tried recently.
See previous tasting notes for more of my thoughts on this one.
100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp, 3 steeps (30s, +10s resteeps)
I don’t usually short steep Indian teas because I normally buy the broken leaf type. But Nilgiri Coonoor has beautiful long twisted leaves, the sort you’d expect to see with oolong. So based on its appearance alone, I decided to do a few short steeps in my gaiwan.
It turned out to be a very good experiment, the first three steeps brought out a flavour that is more preferable to me. The liquor tastes very delicate, there is a nice hint of flowers and fresh fruit. So in a way, this tea now also reminds me of some notes found in white teas, but the tea body certainly tastes like Indian black tea.
From now on (time permitting), I will probably brew this one with short steeps. The longer steeps in a teapot/large vessel are nice but sometimes the tannins/bite offend my senses. That is just my preference, so I recommend experimenting with this one until you get a desirable cup of tea.
100ml gaiwan, 1 generous tsp, 3 steeps (+rinse, 30s, 10s resteeps)
Up’d rating because this method made the tea more pleasing.
Wow, this is divine! Take everything I have ever loved about white teas, mix it with the flavour intensity of a first flush darjeeling, and that’s mostly how I feel about this one. I get tasty notes of pepper, and I can also find the hazelnut. Not as sure about the cocoa butter, but there is so much more to this tea. Every sip is so precious, it’s the perfect ending to a few days loaded with food!
I am not a big fan of Qimen/Keemun black tea, but out of the few I’ve tried this is my favourite. Rich velvety texture, deep pungent black tea base, and the floral, smoky, and spice notes combine well. The main characteristic I like most about it is the deep pungent flavour (and I mean this in the best way possible), but I know this is not something everyone enjoys.
To finish off the last of my 50g purchase, I brewed it with short steeps. Given the appearance of the leaves I was pleased with how rich and complex Qimen stays throughout all the steeps. Usually I do not have such excellent results with broken leaf.
Not sure if I would recommend this if you are looking to get into Qimen, (as there are much cheaper options out there), but I found this to be a wonderful experience.
100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp, 6 steeps (rinse, 30s, +10s resteeps)
The first time I tried this tea I was blown away at the complex flavours. Now that I’ve had a few more teas similar to this, it doesn’t feel very unique but I’m still quite impressed.
With each sip I treat my taste buds to some of my favourite flavours/notes; deep roasted character (reminds me of roasted oolong), honey-barley (reminds me of Oriental Beauty), and a rich black tea body are the highlights. There is also a fleshy/pulpy/grainy texture to the liquour which gives it a nice weight in my mouth. And as noted in the description there is also a nice floral fragrance and fruit flavour going on. If that wasn’t enough please my palate, the roasted tea flavour lingers on in my mouth and my mind for a long time.
I’ve tried this with short steeps before, but I enjoy the rich tea body so steeping at 4 to 5 mins works best for me. Anyway it’s one of my favourite teas, and I love to drink it on rare occasions to treat myself. (I don’t like drinking my favourite teas too often, otherwise the taste becomes ordinary to me. Therefor not as special!)
200ml glass teapot, 2 tsp, 1 steep
An excellent Matcha. Sweet and vegetative, with a smooth texture. Rich and delicious… just what I needed after a trip to the mall.
Here is my full-length review of this Matcha: http://sororiteasisters.com/2011/05/02/matcha-sendo-from-camellia-sinensis-2/
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