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Recent Tasting Notes
My absolute favorite chai to date. If there’s one spice that will make me feel favorably disposed to a tea blend, it’s cardamom, and this chai more than any other I’ve tried provides cardamom in abundance. It smells and tastes warm and rich; it’s bracing and spicy. I first found this chai at the beginning of February in my freshman year at college. I brewed up pots of it on Friday nights to get me through dismal weekends of snow and studying. I was devastated when I finally ran out, and now ration it out to myself much more carefully.
I advise chai-lovers, however, not to even bother making this tea by the cupful. This chai begs for a long, long infusion: it’s best when boiled in a pot on the stovetop with plenty of milk and then sweetened to taste. Make it in large quantities. For every cup of liquid in the pot, add a heaping spoonful of tea—plus one extra for good measure—and simmer it for a good five minutes for every cup added. And at least half the liquid used should be milk of some kind. It has to be watched carefully to keep from boiling over, and it’ll form a bit of a skin if left undisturbed, but the result is well worth the time. Shared between myself and one or two friends, a six-cup batch can easily be gone within a couple of hours. Nothing is better when you’re cold and tired.
Thanks to Dorothy for sending me this Jin Die, I believe my first tea from Camellia Sinesis.
I decided to use my whole sample (about 2 tsp?) in the gaiwan this morning. I love these beautiful hand rolled leaves.
1st steep: 60 seconds. The tea liquor is quite dark, I was surprised. I am picking up lots of interesting flavors here: cinnamon, tobacco, dark chocolate. I’m beginning to wonder if I should have steeped it for slightly less time so…
2nd steep: 30 seconds. Very interesting, I am starting to get some of the tomato-y notes people have described. I think I prefer my black teas to be a bit on the sweeter side if I am going to drink them plain. Perhaps I am weird this morning but it reminds me slightly of an assam.
3rd Steep: 10 seconds. This is my favorite steep so far! I guess this tea was meant to be a very short steeper? I’m picking up on some caramel type notes with a bit of pepper throughout.
Okay, since I’m short on time this morning I think I will resteep this again as a latte – don’t judge me. tee hee!
Thanks for letting me try this one, Dorothy! Very intriguing. I did enjoy it.
Here is a short back story on my decision to purchase this tea. Last year when I was trying a bunch of black teas from Camellia Sinensis (my first year purchasing from them too), I was pretty overwhelmed by all of the options. Not knowing which teas would sell first, I didn’t prioritize buying this one. And well, as you can tell by where this story is going, it sold out! Fast forward to this year, I saw Mei Zhan Zhen was back in stock and immediately purchased it. (Now that a month or two has passed, this tea is once again unavailable.)
Onto my tasting notes:
Dry leaves have a strong sweet and floral fragrance. It also makes me think of marzipan or cinnamon rolls.
First steep: As expected, it does taste very floral, but still in an amount I can tolerate. Sipping some more, there is a very enjoyable mix of aromas: spices, floral, pastry, earthy black tea flavour. The tea body isn’t heavy, but I wouldn’t say that it is too light.
Second steep: I like how the flavours continue to build up, but none of the many flavours screams out at you. The more I sip, the more some other type of aroma comes out (reminds me of pine trees or something).
Third steep: Still maintaining a consistent flavour, not weakening yet.
Fourth steep: The liquor has become darker, and the flavour has really exploded too. Both the spices and floral aroma shine in this cup. I like how there is this fuzzy, velvety, and thick texture to the liquor has it goes down.
Fifth steep: Pretty similar to the fourth steep, maybe a touch more harsh and astringent.
Sixth steep: Tea liquor has weakened a bit, but otherwise the aroma is still powerful.
Seventh through ninth steeps: Floral, spices, and pastry flavours are still noticeable. I stopped on the ninth because I was pretty satisfied and full of too much tea. ;) If my husband were around to help with drinking it, we could probably get a few more steeps out.
I think CS does a good job of not only providing a lot of excellent black teas, but ones that different enough from each other. This is a pricey one, but I’m looking forward to at least buying another 25g next year.
Overall I found it to be a charming black tea. It shares a lot of characteristics I’ve come to seek, but also provides new and unique characteristics that make it memorable. As someone who can be turned off of floral black teas, I think this is a good balance between the very earthy black teas and overly floral ones.
100ml purion teapot, 2 tsp, 9 steeps (30s, +15s each resteep)
I’ve had this tea for a while now, but I never took the time to write about it until now. It’s one of those teas that you can easily lose yourself in.
First steep: Smells sweet, tastes sweet too! The liquor is a touch floral, and sweet; almost like the sweetness of caramel. It has a mouth watering juiciness and flavour that reminds me of fruit.
Second steep: I’m noticing more of the texture the liquor leaves in the back of my mouth. The description mentions marzipan which I think is dead on. I can definitely taste that in the smooth texture and flavour.
Third steep: All of the flavours are coming together nicely. It’s usually at about this point where I lose myself in the flavours and look down to see that my cup is empty. ;)
Fourth steep: This cup really struck me as juicy and sweet, but not too sweet. I really dislike teas that are WAY too sweet, but this one is just right. (If you’re curious, I find Bai Lin black tea and Oriental Beauty oolong too sweet sometimes)
Fifth steep: Liquor is getting a bit less floral and the spices are coming out more.
Sixth steep: Both the tea and I are feeling pretty mellow at this point. I could keep resteeping but I’m pretty satisfied ending here.
One thing I really love about Taiwanese oolong, is that your attention to detail pays off. Relaxing and taking time to enjoy each sip brings out such beautiful flavours. Sometimes when I just want my tea fix, I’ll brew up some cheap black tea western style. But when I have the time for it, I like to reward my senses with tea like this.
Not my favourite oolong from this vendor, but it still exceeded my expectations.
100ml purion teapot, 1 1/2 tsp, 6 steeps (rinse, 45s, 45s, 1m, 1m30s, 2m, 2m30s)
This is a wonderful Oolong. I’m on my fifth and sixth infusions now. It started out quite creamy, almost like coconut, with some vanilla in there too. Hints of orchid in the beginning, but now with these final infusions, I notice the orchid much more and the fruit and creamy tones a little less.
Really nice, quite unexpected, I don’t think I’ve come across an Oolong that tasted naturally of coconut before. I’ve had coconut flavored Oolongs, but nothing quite like this!
Backlog from last night.
I loved this tea. Like, a lot. But, reading the description here, and reading other’s reviews, I realize that my cuppa tasted waaaaaay different from the others. I guess this tea was supposed to have chocolate and hazelnut tones, but I didn’t really get that. What I got was really fruity. Like, I swear to god this tasted exactly like blueberries to me, and I asked my mom and she said the same. I don’t know what’s up with that, but I do know that I really liked the blueberry taste. It’s been sealed this whole time (thanks to LiberTEAS for sending this to me) and I’ve kept it away from all flavored teas, so I don’t know why it tasted like blueberries. I guess I kind of got another note, kind of woodsy in a way with a nice depth, but the main taste was fruity.
Weird. I’ll have to try again, maybe my tastebuds were just off!
I bought this just to see what’s so special about Da Hong Pao. There are a lot of sources for this type of tea, but I chose Camellia Sinensis because they never disappoint me and I like supporting Canadian businesses (plus the tea arrives quickly). Now onto the tasting note:
First steep: Roasted, floral, very smooth, kinda sweet.
Second steep: Sweeter, roasted flavour is nice and not too strong, has a soft floral aroma.
Third steep: More balanced, the liquor leaves a pleasant sweet and roasted flavour at the back of my throat.
Taking a break to sniff the gaiwan, the wet leaves have a very charming scent. I like how the roasted characteristics never become too overpowering.
Fourth steep: Much of the same characteristics are present, still quite smooth/creamy with a soft floral/fruity aroma.
Fifth steep: Seems a bit lighter and zesty. This cup made me think of mango and honey dew melon.
Sixth steep: More sweetness and fruit than roasted flavour.
Next time I’ll try with a longer initial steep and more leaves.
Sometimes I see that other teas are compared to Da Hong Pao, and I can kinda see why now, but I don’t find those comparisons very helpful. I’d rather people mentioned specific characteristics or flavour, like “sweet and roasted”. Overall a wonderful tea, but some of the hype around it tainted my experience. I’ll have to try some more Da Hong Pao teas in the future.
100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp, 6 steeps (10s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 1min, 1m20s)
This is my firt aged Sheng Pu-Erh. I have been accustomed to drinking and liking pu-erh first by buying cheap teas tuochas and beeng chas from the Golden Sail company. Most of these don’t have production dates on them and, from what I understand, are ripened or Shou pu-erhs.
When visiting Camelia Sinensis, I asked the employee serving me where should I go next, mostly wanting a Sheng tea. When he opened the metal canister to let me smell the leaves of this tea, I knew I was up for something nice. Right away, images of old grey wood in a barn on a hot and dry day began swirling before my eyes. So, after the surprise of the origin (I’m fairly new in the world of pu-erh and thought Yunnan was the only producer), I asked for my 25g, paid and got back home.
Arriving home, I rinced the leaves in my gaiwan, steeped 10 seconds (approximately, I count 3 breaths) and watched the burnt orange liquor fill my cup. I had a quick smell of the humid leaves, noting something along the way of toffee or caramelised sugar. The leaves are very nice, quite large and complete. A fair quantity of twigs, more that I normally see in a tuocha but then, as I said, normality is quite recent, for me…
Upon tasting, I was fullfilled: The Notes of old wood and toffee were still there but also followed some hints of camphor, and dried wildflowers. The brew was tasty yet on the less bitter side. Taste lingered for some time, maybe not as much as I expected but I left it for subsequent steeps to verify.
Further steeping had the camphor notes come a bit more upfront, with the color turning slightly darker but with a clean orange hue. The aftertaste was also upgraded, lingering and vanishing slowly leaving a nice feeling of dry heat while, as the cups were emptied, feeling a nice cooling of the body.
Overall, a very nice experience. I was surprised at the number of steeps I got from the same gaiwan without getting that “finished” taste I usually get with golden sail pu-erhs. It mostly went away slowly, keeping most of its taste-images there, only having some leading at first and letting others peek through as steeps went.
I was looking for a tea to drink this morning that would counter a bit of the down mood I find myself in today thanks to having to deal with a cold which was handed off to me during the week. :(
I knew I wanted something aged to relax and warm, so I turned to this 1970 Liu Bao from Camellia Sinensis. While the dry leaf was reluctant to give up any aroma in the cha he, it gave off a clean spiced woodiness when placed into the warmed gaiwan.
The liquor from the first steeping exhibited a beautiful reddish mahogany color. The broth possessed a pleasing viscosity with a slight oiliness. It was certainly not as substantial as some aged pu’er, but it filled the mouth nicely.
The flavor was a continuation of the delicate aromas the warmed leaf gave off, gentle, clean. There were notes of wood accented by the faintest taste and aroma of aged leather and camphor which paid some particular to the sinus cavity -thankfully. I detected some light anise sweetness sneaking through around the 4th and 5th steepings.
The qi of this tea was pleasant and calming. It was certainly nowhere near to the strength of the 1993 Menghai 7542 I had recently, but considering my state I feel this was a good thing. This tea definitely lifted the day with its calming spirit.
I received this in the mail today and promptly brewed up some in a teapot to share with my husband. I didn’t order much, but Da Yu Lin is something I’ve been meaning to try, so I couldn’t resist just purchasing a little.
The very first cup of tea left a good impression on us. Its flavours hint at vegetal, butter, fruit/spice but never get to the point where it is obnoxious, just peaceful and satisfying. I especially enjoyed the tea body, it is deep and mellow. It stayed fairly consistent throughout the 9 total steeps I did today.
This is our first Da Yu Lin so I can’t comment on how good it is compared to other Da Yu Lin teas. That being said, we loved it and are looking forward to trying more in the future.
My teapot wasn’t too crowded, so I think I’ll add more leaves next time.
125ml yixing teapot, 1 tsp, 9 steeps (rinse, 30s, +15s resteeps for 2nd-6th, +30s for 7th-9th)
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
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!