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Recent Tasting Notes
Opening the packet I am now face to face with small Pu Erh nuggets, they are highly reflective with a lot of golden tips present. A cluster of earthy brown tones in one little nugget. They are compressed quite tightly, similar to a cake. Each nugget is unique in size and shape but they all contain the same level of golden tips.
On sniff-spection I can detect damp wood, earth, smoke and musk tones. Truthfully it’s also perhaps a little fishy but I think that is down to the age of the tea.
I will be using 3 tea pieces (roughly 4-5g) in a 200ml glass gongfu teapot vessel with boiling water. Usually I like to dedicate a lot of time for Pu Erh but I only have a couple of hours before I have to help my parents with something, so for that reason this will be across six steeps.
Rinse time of 10 seconds due to the size of the nuggets.
First Steep – 1 minute
The nuggets have not broken apart but after the rinse they are soft and giving off more colour. The tea liquid is cloudy red brown with a sweet and earthy scent. Similar to it’s raw scent but much sweeter and thankfully not fishy.
The first few sips reveal a soft and creamy base with delicate wood and earth notes. There is some dryness but not much. As subtle as it is the creamy effect is a wonderful surprise and very easy to drink. The after taste was earthy and dry clay like.
Second Steep – 2 minutes
The nuggets are still rather firm but they are softening up, I could easily pull them apart if I desired to. The scent is smokier but still rather soft.
Flavour is still soft but stronger than the first steep. The sweetness has toned down but the cream persists through the light wood, earth and smoke elements. The after taste is dry with a wood flavour. Also an element of malt that reminds me of golden tips.
Third Steep – 3 minutes
The nuggets are now breaking apart slowly but surely.
This steep is still creamy but the musky earth tone is peaking through a little more than the previous steeps. It’s now a more traditional style Pu Erh but it’s aged very nicely.
Towards the end of this steep it had some sourness coming through toward the after taste which lingered with the musk.
Fourth Steep – 4 minutes
The sweetness has come forward again among the cream, it’s almost honeyed. But the musky earth is still dry and slightly sour in contrast. It still reminds me of golden tip black tea but much more subtle.
Fifth Steep – 5 minutes
The sourness has softened and again the tea is losing the slight thickness that it began to get around the third steep. The cream is still the main flavour at this point.
Sixth Steep – 6 minutes
This final steep resembles the first, expect there is an edge of bitterness in the after taste at this point. The cream is the only notable flavour that is left.
Conclusion: It’s subtle in strength but the cream and sweet wood notes carry this into an easy to drink Shu. I prefer Sheng usually for the creamy taste but this equals a very creamy Sheng but without the grass and floral notes on the side. Also the smoothness of this worked in it’s favour for me.
Given that this tea boasts it can be steeped over 15 times I think they must mean via gaiwan as it started to lose colour and flavour around the fifth steep.
Next time I may try and add another nugget and see if it changes once it’s slightly stronger, but the colour of the tea was dark enough and I believe it’s just one that needs to be experimented with. Perhaps a gaiwan steep would bring out more flavour, but it could be even softer. I will try and experiment another time.
Some quick notes on this while I catch up on Game of Thrones. I’ve almost finished the second series (yes I’m that far back) and I’m going to storm through it over the next two weeks.
This tea is called silver bud yet it doesn’t actually have many of them in the raw Sheng. I suppose that is what I get for trying a cheap sample. It smells musty and damp, very earthy for a Sheng and rather sour.
In taste it’s at least nicer than it smells. It tastes of dry leaves and damp earth with some sweetness and astringency which lingers in the after taste. The bitterness does leave some dryness over time on the tongue.
This tea gets bitter very quickly and the astringency is getting to be too much after only a few steeps. I do like bitterness in a Sheng sometimes but I think this is a touch too much for my liking. I can drink it but honestly it will be wasted on me.
Oh well, another sample reviewed at least. I may just end up seasoning my tea pets with the rest of this, which is around 45g.
Life is too short to drink bad tea.
This is definitely a really low quality milk oolong, the milky flavour lasts maybe 2 steeps in gongfu, and for those two it isn’t strong enough in my opinion. At least because the leaf base itself is relatively low quality as well, but it’s cheap; you get what you pay for. It’s too bad because I reaally love milk oolongs and this is the only one I have right now. :c
This is a very tightly balled Oolong, somewhere between 25% and 50% oxidized. I’ve steeped this up a bunch of sessions, and had trouble getting serious flavor out of it. I used as much as 10g in 110 ml Gaiwan, more than I usually would for an oolong. For temperature I used 195 F – 200 F, also higher than usual. (I generally use lower temps than most people) To get any real flavor out of it, I had to steep it for at least 30 seconds, even up to 2 minutes.
The description from the producer says naturally sweet, fruity, creamy, full bodied. The body was medium-full bodied, so I’m with them on that one. I didn’t taste fruit or creamy-ness. On the early brews I detected some malt , although not a lot, also some floral flavors. Actually, there was never a lot of any flavor. The malt faded right away, and was replaced by an asparagus/spinach vegetal flavor. The floral notes stayed throughout. The tea also picked a peppery flavor on the second or third infusion, which stayed until the end. A really nice aspect of the tea was a sweetness that appeared about 20 seconds after I took a sip, and lingered for a few of minutes. There was medium amount of dryness, nothing too crazy. I liked the tea but it definitely wasn’t amazing.
This tea makes a decent pairing partner with cheese in general, but nothing spectacular. A cheese called Equinox (by Birchrun Hills Farm), similar to an Italian Asiago (young Asiago Presatto DOP), brings out the floral notes and balances the pepper. Aged Gouda was good, but neither had any transformation or effect on the other. I didn’t like it with a 3.5 yr aged Parmigiano Reggiano. I was ambivalent to a pairing with fresh goat cheese. In previous sessions I thought it went nicely with an old-world style farmhouse cheddar, but this time around I was more ambivalent. The exception being the cracks in the rind with mold/cheese-mite growth (sounds bad but is normal with this style cheese). The tea balanced the bitterness of the rind fissures, giving a flavor of fruit, walnut, and a little horseradish.
I coaxed more than 10 steeps out of it. And the tea smelled great throughout, sweet and floral!
Not sure I’d say this is my favorite snaily yum, but it’s pretty good. Smells smokier dry than it actually is. It’s mostly a soft malt with some hay in the aftertaste and an overall sweetness. Pretty good all in all. Steeped Western as I find I don’t care as much for the snails done in gong fu steeps.
Another in the quest to replace Min River Tea’s JJM.
According to the website, this is from the originator that Chris suggested – Junde – the originators of JJM. So it should be pretty authentic at least. However… it’s still not Min River, sadly.
This is a good cup. A moderately malty, mildly chocolatey cup with some buttery mouthfeel when not using a metallic cup. :) In a silvered cup, it becomes very bright in feel and somewhat thinner. Still a good cup, though, and I do notice the coppery finish when using the silvered cup. I probably won’t keep this particular one around, but I may eventually try other variations from Dragon Teahouse to compare.
This tea is meant to be brewed at 190-193˚F. More fruity, richer notes like cherry and dark chocolate come out along with the roasty flavour. Still many broken pieces of leaf inside but at least the tea tastes good. Big improvement over my last tasting!
This actually looks, smells, and tastes pretty similar to Dachi’s Honeysuckle Oolong, even though that one is from Taiwan’s Ali Mountain and this Bai Hao is apparently from Xin Zhu County, Taiwan, China… wait a minute. Haha. They have the same twisted leaves that have several broken bits in it (though this one has more broken bits, the Dachi has better quality leaves). They both have the cocoa notes with a fruity, sweet finish on the tongue. The Honeysuckle Oolong is best brewed at 194˚F, this one best at 190˚F. I reckon they’re from pretty similar terroir and processed in similar ways. Now I’m craving a less sweet tea :)
Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Roasted, Wood
Note: Next time, try brewing at 190˚F.
Leaves in the bag come with lots of broken little bits, like you would expect to see in a white peony but not in a high-grade oolong. I’m using 5g in a 5oz gaiwan. They suggest 5g in a teapot Western-style, at boiling for 2 – 3 min.
1st infusion: (212˚F, 40s)
Bitter, perhaps I steeped too long? Tastes minerally like a Wuyi rock oolong and has the same deep copper colour. Not what I expected from an “Oriental Beauty” tea. Those are produced in Taiwan, whereas this one is from China so I suppose it’s not going to be the best Dong Fang Mei Ren experience.
2nd infusion: (212˚F, 45s)
Still has that roasty minerally flavour, but lighter and I can taste a bit of underlying fruity flavour bordering on sweetness.
3rd infusion: (212˚F, 55s)
Flat, dull, astringent
UPDATE: Their website says to use less-than-boiling water so I’m going to try a second batch. 5g, 205˚F.
1st infusion: (205˚F, 30s)
Leaves smell burnt. Liquor does not taste burnt, but minerally, roasty and a bit astringent and flat. Still can’t get over the amount of broken bits of leaf that flow into the cup.
2nd infusion: (206˚F, 45s)
I’m running out of ways to say roasty, bitter chocolate, mineral and dull.
It’s not the worst, especially for fans of Wuyi rock oolongs, but it’s not Eastern / Oriental Beauty, certainly not Premium anything, and at $14 for 50g on Ebay, this tea was a total ripoff. Can get much better teas elsewhere like Teavivre and my local tea shops for the same price or cheaper. Guess the fact that Ebay doesn’t have customer reviews should have been a red flag for me.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Mineral, Roasted
3/14/16: Ok, I have tried this Western-style according to the instructions on the package 5g / 175˚F 12 oz / 2:30.
I have tried brewing this in a gaiwan at 2g / 176˚F / 30s / 45s and it came out like water with a cloudy suspension in it.
This tea is incredibly difficult to brew. I think out of the 5 times I have attempted to brew it, I only tasted tea one glorious time (I think ~ 2.5g / 176˚F?) but didn’t have time to do a second steeping.
At least a third of the packet has been wasted in mediocre steepings. I may try a few more times to reproduce that one good steeping, but would never buy this again.
Update 3/31/16: Brewed it at 185˚C and at last some flavour has come out––a very delicate, savoury vegetable broth in the 1st infusion. I thought this tea was supposed to be on the sweeter, fruitier side so I’m a bit confused. Mellows out to a nice subtle everyday green tea flavour in 2nd and 3rd infusions. It’s decent but there are still too many bits of broken leaf to call this a high-quality tea.
Flavors: Vegetable Broth
This is my first Bi Luo Chun, so I could be interpreting this all wrongly, but here’s my impression: The dry leaves are very hairy loose green spirals, look almost like hemp string, with white tips and a lot of tea “dust” or fannings. It smells really fragrant, though I wouldn’t call it sweet, it smells more like a vegetable grilled with flowers.
Frustratingly, there are no brewing instructions for gongfu style on the Dragon Tea House website or on the package. You can read the account of my attempts below. Perhaps this tea is only good enough for Western brewing (they recommend 2 – 3 minutes). For now I’ll just say I expected better from a “Supreme” label tea.
3 – 4g of leaves, 5oz water, 176˚F
Verdict: I think I still overleafed.
1st infusion: (25s)
Fragrant aroma from leaves and liquor. Liquor tastes more clear and slight astringency, but less than from first attempt.
2nd infusion: (40s)
Astringent again. I probably need to use even less leaves.
5g of leaves, 4.5oz water, 176˚F
The leaves smell really fragrant, but the tea tastes disappointing. I probably am not brewing with the right amount of leaves or for the right length but the temperature seems correct.
1st infusion: (30s)
Tea smells really sweet, floral and longan notes. Tastes a little astringent though, and the liquor feels very thick and fibrous.
2nd infusion: (50s)
Fragrant vegetal aroma. But the taste is just more astringency.
3rd infusion: (70s)
Less astringency, but the flavour is gone. Surprisingly, the leaves still smell really sweet.
Flavors: Floral, Grilled Food, Stonefruits, Vegetables
As far as gaiwans go, I don’t think this is very good but I got it because it was reasonably priced ($16.99 from Dragon Tea House on Ebay). They also had a $10.99 one but I decided to go with the slightly higher-range one haha.
First of all, the gaiwan dribbles down the sides when you pour liquid out, even if you pour swiftly and at a steep angle. I own two other gaiwans (a Jingdezhen porcelain from Red Blossom Tea Co., and a cheapo 100ml one from a travel set) and neither of them drip when you pour from them.
Secondly, the knob on the lid can be filled with hot liquid if you’re pouring too quickly, so the heat conducts through the thin glass and can burn your finger. My trick is that I use the nail of my index finger to hold that knob on the lid, while my thumb and middle finger hold either side of the gaiwan bowl. (The nail doesn’t feel the heat.)
This is supposed to be special heat-resistant glass, but it still gets pretty darned hot. I only brew my green teas and white teas in this. I wouldn’t use it with water above 190˚F. I just really wanted a glass gaiwan to observe some of the pretty teas in so this works for my whites and Dragon Wells, but I might still be open to purchasing another glass gaiwan if I found one that handled higher temperatures well so that I can see my rolled oolongs unfurl in the glass bowl at 200˚F or higher!
Decent brew that shows a mellowing from the last few years for sure. The only thing to note is that the mellowness is seperate from the mildness of the tea itself. The mellowing of this tea has led to a smoother upfront taste and less of a dry note at the end, but the strength overall can be seen in the color of the brew and aroma of the tea. It’s possible it comes from storage, however it is noticeable that it has lost some of that ‘umph’ that a good roasty DHP has.
i think that’s 3 for 3 on this tea. Not good. Christina saved this for me to try. it’s like…it’s flat. or something. the very very very start of the sip is chocolatey and gets your hope up, and then everything else that this tea brings is like a giant slap in the face, it’s so bad. like ick. the contradiction of that potential followed by awful disappointment is just no.
I’d been drinking this all week at work and while it’s a really good everyday black – I didn’t think it was anything special. (What I was drinking I bought Nov15)
And then there was a sample of it in the box that Sil sent to me. That’s what I’m drinking today. Not sure when she picked it up – but this is totally different than my package – or it’s totally different steeped at home vs work.
I just find it interesting that this is really good – nice and dark, malty, bready. Could be the love from a friend theory – it could be home vs work – it could be a different harvest. What ever it is – I’m very happy to be drinking this today. Thanks Sil for sharing. :)
So, I was about to start writing this, then glanced down to see what Ubacat’s review was going to be like, since she sent me this in a swap.
She didn’t like it. In fact, she positively hated it. That makes me feel a bit better, because when I had this tea this morning, I was unimpressed by it, even though I had 2 steeps. (ETA: Ubacat wrote her review just 7 hours ago! Imagine us having the same tea for the first time on the same day! Uba, we have such synchronicity!)
This is smoky, but it’s a very straightforward, bleh sort of smoke. Not nuanced or subtle. I detected notes of camphor in the brew, too, but otherwise it was a really dry and woody flavour.
Perhaps I’m spoiled because the first Lapsang Souchong tea I ever tried was Teavivre’s blend, and that’s still my favourite. Tell me, folks: did I ruin myself for all other LS teas by trying the Teavivre one first?
Sil expressed some interest in this, so I’m saving the rest to give her at the Toronto Tea Festival next week.
This tea was horrible. Over smoked and even though I could smell chocolate in the dry leaf I couldn’t pick it up in the brewed. I did a second brewing just to see if the chocolate notes would come out more and the smoked taste would die down. The smoked taste was lighter but still no chocolate.
I threw both cups out. I got plenty of tea in my cupboard without wasting time on a tea I don’t like.
I was intrigued by the thought of ground black tea, so I ordered it. I’ve been making it for lattes only and I love it. It’s quite easy to add something else for flavouring like rose water, but I like it just as well without. When I make a latte it has a nice smooth taste. I expected it to taste unusually strong, but it didn’t. I will order this tea again.
Playing catch-up in LP’s 2015 Aged Oolong Group Buy.
These were supposed to be mini tuo made out of Oolong. LP did mention that it was actually a black tea pressed. I noticed sharper malty flavours, like dian hong. I dont drink a lot of black, and certainly not gongfu. It wasnt up my street to be honest! I’m probably making it wrong or something – I treated it like I would gongfu Pu or gongfu Oo – flash steeps etc. I dont think its that kind of tea.
The aroma from the gaiwan was really nice though, and having something fun to get our teeth into is always a welcome addition.
I need to review it deeper but at the moment this is not worth buying more of it.
With 5gr and 90ºC water steeped for 15sec the brew is too weak, not much flavour. For 95ºC and 30sec it’s a bit bitter. Maybe a small sweet afetertaste.
What I don’t like about it is that I found 2 small green plastic threads.
I will let it age a bit before brewing it again.