Eco-Cha Artisan TeasEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
From a Steepster Select box I obtained around a year ago.
Brewed semi-Western style with a gongfu glass tea pot. Steeping times: 20 seconds, 40, 60, 120.
The session begins with a complex and strange savory aroma. The most savory I have thus far experienced. The dry leaf smells of cloves, a number of other blended spices, and oregano. Spiced brownies and cinnamon initially arise from the wet leaf, then red meats on which black pepper is sprinkled, then broth.
The liquor is very beautiful against a porcelain white cup. Clear amber. I haven’t had a visual pleasure of a tea’s liquor in a while. It has a smooth texture and full body. The first and second infusions are malty, chocolately, and a little peppery. There is an aftertaste of chocolate mousse with a little more than a touch of dark rum. The third infusion is SWEET POTATOES. Sweet potatoes return in the fourth infusion, which also has notes of cedar and malt.
Comforting and mellowing throughout the session. At the end, I felt a little tea tipsy. Reminiscent of early autumn. I enjoyed this through and through. It made a good first experience with a Taiwanese black tea. (Hence no recommendation in spite of my being in favor for its being).
I obtained this last year from a free Steepster Select Box. It really held up…
Brewed semi-Western style with a gongfu glass tea pot. 20 second rinse. Steeping times: 1 minute, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 2, 4.
The dry leaf smells of sweet and tangy (unidentifiable) fruit. I don’t necessarily detect pine as the packet suggests, but I do get deciduous trees from the wet leaf – full-leaf, very green, in between field and forest. The liquor aroma has quite a sweetness. Lovely aroma to take in, overall.
The pale yellow liquor is light-bodied yet flavorful, filling the mouth. The flavor profile is consistent: it has the sweetness of maple syrup, but without the heavy, thick feel. The tasting sessions starts of as purely sweet and becomes a little more floral with each cup. The texture is thick, but the at the third infusion, it becomes wonderfully creamy. The fifth – the last – infusion is very different. Sweetness faded, there are only floral notes. Also corn husks. Never had corn husk in my tea before. Eh.
So so sweet. Great to drink on a cooler summer morning. I really like the aromas this leaf has to offer.
I got this as part of a sample pack from Eco-Cha that also included High Mountain Concubine and Dong Ding. I decided to brew this gongfu, about a tbsp of tea, 190, first steep of a minute. Pale yellow liquor. Interesting aroma. As the leaves open more they are huge and filling my gaiwan. Aroma and flavor are both floral and buttery. Another reviewer said it’s similar to Mandala’s milk oolong, but dialed down a bit. Agreed, though I prefer the sweetness of Mandala’s version. I get the butter, particularly in terms of mouthfeel, but not so much the milk. This tea actually reminds me more of Mandala’s Golden Turtle, which I think I described in my review as drinking buttered flowers. There’s a bit of astringency in later steeps. Of the three teas I received from Eco-Cha, I would say I preferred this one the least, but that is probably because I prefer roasted oolongs generally.
First off, the aroma of the dry leaf is amazing. Roasty, nutty, caramel, and yes – roasted corn like the tasting notes on the website indicate. Wet leaf aroma adds a bit of smoke. As the leaves open I notice lots of stems (again, good? bad? don’t know). Decided to brew this gongfu, starting with 30 second steeps. The next time I need to remember to follow the brewing tips and use 6-8 grams of tea, or brew grandpa style because my first steep wasn’t that great (user error – not enough tea). Anyway, longer steeps (a minute) were better. The flavor is nutty, roasty, and sweet and the aftertaste lingers on the tongue. So different from the un-roasted/lightly roasted and more floral dong dings I’ve had. I’m looking forward to trying this grandpa style, I think this tea is probably more suited to that style, for me anyway. I love a dark, robust oolong and this is definitely one of those. It’ll be great in the cold winter months.
EDIT: Did try this grandpa style at work, and it was wonderful.
My first Eco Cha tea, this from the “Intro to Oolong 3-Pack Flight” that just came in the mail today (yay, new tea!)
190, gongfu, 1 tsp, first steep a minute, then 30 seconds thereafter. What a lovely aroma. Nutty. Honey sweet pale yellow liquor. There are a TON of stems in this tea. Like, branches! I don’t know if that’s normal for this kind of oolong, but wow, I’ve never seen so many. Still, it’s a very sweet and mellow brew. I’m feeling very calm, very zen. How calm? Full day of court hearings, long commute home, and not even a teenager can get on my nerves right now. Didn’t walk the dog? Clean your room? Empty the dishwasher? Do your summer reading? Ah, no problem. I’m just going to sit here and enjoy this lovely tea. That’s how calm.
Side note: My box did not come with tasting notes. It did, oddly enough, come with some weird plastic thing that I am considering posting to reddit’s “What is this thing?” sub, because seriously… I have no idea what this thing is.
Later steeps are still lovely by the way.
The thing: http://imgur.com/a/lVeT7
EDIT: the thing is a bag sealer!
Flavors: Honey, Nutty, Sweet
Today I decided to look at Eco-Cha’s High Mountain Concubine Oolong.
Origin: Shan Lin Xi, Nantou
Harvest: Summer 2014
Dry Leaves: There is quite a lot of variance in the dry leaves, as you can see towards the left is a rather large strangely shaped ball and then there are some fairly normal sized pellets. There is a strong vegetable aroma to the leaves, quite interesting since many of the teas I tried so far from Eco-Cha have been more savory/herbaceous than floral and there is a foresty smell as well.
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Cooked Kale, Almonds and Vegetable Broth
Flavor: Almonds, Pine, Vegetal and Orchid
Tasting Notes: I was surprised by the very light orchid taste this tea has, as I said before I like that Eco-Cha’s oolongs aren’t predominantly floral; I don’t know if non-floral oolongs are becoming rare or if I am just looking in the wrong places. Otherwise it is quite nice, it has a thin mouthfeel for a high mountain oolong, but it is quite pleasant nonetheless.
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Pine and Fir
Flavor: Almonds, Pine and Vegetal
Tasting Notes: The floral notes have completely disappeared and the aroma has become both distinctly Pine and Fir. I was quite surprised that it smells so similar to the two trees definitely brought me back to walking through the woods on the way to class. The tea is a little crisper then the previous steeping, I almost want to say sharp, but not quite.
Brewing Time: Three Minutes
Aroma: Pine and Redwood
Flavor: Almonds and Honey
Tasting Notes: It is much simpler by now, the pine taste and vegetable tastes have disappeared as well as the fir scent. This time there is a little bit of redwood in there and a honey taste as well. This might have been my favorite steeping even though it is by far the simplest.
Unfortunately at the time of writing this, this particularly tea is sold out, otherwise I would have bought a bit of it. While I still have a couple samples left from Eco-Cha I immediately wanted to buy this again. I suppose I’ll have to wait to the next harvest before getting this again. Eco-Cha is really starting to grow on me, while I do love Beautiful Taiwan Tea for their floral oolongs; I am rather fond of the herbaceous/savory oolongs I’ve tried from Eco-cha. I am a little curious if this tea will age well, I’ve been told in the past that generally lower quality oolongs age better than the higher quality ones, but I am considering buying some of the next harvest of High Mountain Concubine and hiding it away for a while.
First Sip Thought: “Squash.”
Smell: Before I enjoyed the slightly roasty and floral aroma, I admired the leaves for quite some time. They are dark and tightly rolled which of course makes it more fun to watch steep.
Taste: You may remember when I wrote about Eco-Cha and their mission late last year. You can view that post here. This tea was hand picked in small batches September 2014 in Yong Long, Nantou, Taiwan (just above Dong Ding Mountain). Hand picked. When you drink this tea, stop and think about that for a moment. You’ll appreciate your cup a lot more. This oolong is not as strong as I was hoping but still offers great flavours. To explain my first sip thought, the initial few sips taste just like a plate full of freshly roasted vegetables. Eco-Cha narrows it down to a roasted summer squash as the predominant flavour and I have to agree. I also noticed a dry fruit flavour along with nutty characters. So I guess you can also say another thought that came to my mind during the first sip was “trail mix!” This tea has me very excited to give the rest of the oolongs I have from Eco-Cha a try.
This Shan Lin Xi by Eco-cha by way of Steepster Select is quite delectable. I steeped the leaves three times, and each time the pale-green liquor was smooth and satisfying. Seems like a very good TGY or maybe a cross between that and a milk oolong. Or maybe this is an entirely different genre new to me! Glad that I have a second envelope of this one…
FINISHED! Ok, no, I lied…maybe. My army is finished, all my little Prowlers and Reapers are finished, they need to be varnished (waiting for a less damp day to take them out and varnish and photograph them) but, I still have to paint the tiny tiny infantry (ughhhhh so tiny, little 10mm dudes) and finish the basing for my ships. Then I just have the Harbinger, Desolator, and the inevitable other guys who join my army, but there is not as much of a rush since the league starts off at 750 points, and true I can get the Desolator in on that level, it would leave me very short on other little dudes to bring onto the board. Now the real question is, do I get Ravagers or Stalkers for my Harbinger to carry, or do I hold out for the Oppressor’s release. Ben spoils me rotten with all my minis, me thinks he is buttering me up to paint his army.
It can’t be Oolong week without looking at Eco-Cha Artisan Teas, and it is time to finally ramble about Mr Lin’s Lightly Roasted Dong Ding Oolong (Inaugural Winter Harvest 2014) which you all might remember me babbling about back when their Indiegogo campaign went live. And yes, I totally backed them, it was part of my birthday present to myself (and part of my travel money since this was back when I was in PA) I went for the $50 perk meaning I got a fancy new teapot for my collection, not that I seasoned it for this tea, since a roasted tea-pot is already in my collection. This tea is super fancy because it was only available for the backers of the campaign, but future harvests will be available for the general public, which is awesome. This extra fancy tea smells delightful, but I do have a weakness for roasted teas (especially Dong Ding) so it is no surprise that the aroma of this tea fills me with squishy glee. There are notes of toasted sesame, honey, caramelized sugar, distant spicebush flowers, roasted butternut squash, and a finish of delicate orchid. It reminds me a little of Halva and flowers, just the right blend of roasted and sweet to make me swoon.
Into the pot it goes, my much loved and very often used yixing for roasted oolongs. The aroma of the leaves is rather complex! It is a blend of roasted sesame, butternut squash, honeysuckles, orchids, sesame butter, and spicebush. The liquid of the first steep (correctly it is called soup, but that makes me think of soup and confuses my hungry brain) also has a complex aroma, blending squash (again butternut, but with a hint of acorn this time as well) sesame butter and a finish of delicate honeysuckle nectar.
First steep, and yes, I am sitting down, because I expect this tea to knock my socks off…ok, ok, I know it does, since this is from my notebook and I have been sipping this tea a lot. It has become one of my go to ‘I feel bad and need a healing tea’ teas, it makes my soul feel good. First off, mouthfeel, it is very smooth, a blend of buttery and velvety, it coats my mouth without being oily. It starts out sweet and gently toasted, with notes of sesame seeds and honey. This builds to honeysuckles and spicebush, almost to the point of headiness, and then it moves on to butternut squash and honey at the finish which lingers for quite a while.
And the journey continues with steep two, the aroma is strong with spicebush, roasted sesame seeds, and butternut squash. It is still floral (hint the spicebush, even bordering on Asiatic Lily) but it lacks the honeysuckle and is replaced with a stronger roasted note. The taste certainly takes its cues from the aroma! The mouthfeel is still velvety, but it has a tiny edge to it now, it feels like it wakes up my mouth a bit. It starts roasted sesame and honey and then moves to an explosion of spicebush and squash, this then moves on to roasted squash and nuttiness that builds into the finish that lingers. It warms my mouth and body and makes me feel relaxed and heavy.
Third steeping, and the aroma is still delightful, hello spicebush and toasted sesame, hello lily and squash, you are so wonderfully fragrant and I have to be careful to not burn my nose while sniffing you. The taste of this steep is a perfect balance of roasted and floral, sweetness and savory. It has notes of buttery vegetables (like buttery sauteed bok choy) honeysuckles, spicecbush, lilies, squash, sesame, toasted grains. This steep might be my favorite!
So, I end my reviews at three steeps (my personal notes, however tend to be longer) and let me say, this tea has staying power! I have gotten up to seven steeps, with the last couple steeps being me just drinking it grandpa style. I have brewed it in my travel steeper and in a gaiwan and loved both, I have accidentally been distracted and come back to a tragically oversteeped tea and found it still drinkable and really good. Honestly I cannot manage to screw this tea up no matter what I do (not that I am going to try really hard, I do have a limited supply after all) I love this tea, it is a work of art! Totally worth spending my travel money on it, I have absolutely no regrets!
Dry Leaves: The shape is interesting, they are rolled smaller than a normal oolong and a little flattened, almost like an oval with a flattish bottom and rounded top. They had a light floral aroma and a stronger rosemary scent.
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Mostly Vegetal, Fresh Sage
Flavor: Mostly Nutty, Green Beans, slight bitterness
Tasting Notes: I was surprised by the sage aroma; I have not encountered any Taiwanese oolongs, or any oolong for the matter, which have herb scents. I am rather fond of sage so I immediately knew I was going to like this tea.
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Vegetal, Cooked Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Flavor: Nutty, Spinach. Floral and Honey
Tasting Notes: I love how savory yet sweet this tea smells! This is very smooth and easy to drink. Right now it is a nice mix of savory and sweet, I like savory scents and flavors more so then sweet. This is very balanced so if you love savory teas and hate sweet ones (or vice-versa) you’ll probably not like this. I happen to like both and find this to be a perfect balance between the two.
Brewing Time: Three Minutes
Aroma: Orchid and Honey
Flavor: Green Beans, Spinach, Nutty, Honey and Sage
Tasting Notes: I was sad to see the savory scents disappear, but the taste became more prominently savory at this point (although in later steepings, it wavered back in forth between sweet and savory). Although I could finely taste the sage I’ve smelled in the tea.
I liked this tea and it isn’t that expensive, only $7 for 38 grams. It had a nice mouthfeel, a little thicker than similar Taiwanese oolongs grown at 400 meters above sea level, but not as thick as a proper high mountain oolong. I’d definitely buy this tea when I run out, as I said before I have not encountered any oolong with a nice herbaceous aroma or taste and I am quite fond of this flavor/taste. While I adore floral oolongs, herbaceous teas are something of a rarity for me; I can often find herby tastes in Japanese greens. I was surprised at how long this tea lasted, for the price I was expecting it to last maybe six or seven steepings, but I got thirteen whooping steepings out of the leaves and while it started to lose its complexity around the tenth steeping and become distinctly nutty, it was interesting enough to continue on. This is a great value for the price.
This tea was sent to me from AnnaEA. What an excellent tea and thanks for sending some my way.
I’m on my 3rd cup of this milk oolong and this tea is outstanding! So far my favourite milk oolong has been Tealux’s Jin Xuan milk oolong. That one was very buttery , milky, sweet oolong and I don’t remember a lot of floral notes in it.
This one is milky , sweet & buttery too but a bit on the lighter side. It has wonderful floral notes that are quite prominent as the cup cools down. It’s smooth and sweet with no bitterness. Cup #2 was best for buttery & milky but Cup #3 has the best floral notes. This tea is sooooo good it has me looking into Eco-Cha’s website.
Steeped : Cup 1 190F – 2 min
Cup 2- 3 min
cup 3 – 4 min
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Milk, Smooth, Sweet
Eco Cha has consistently had some of the finest taiwanese teas I have tasted, this one is no different. It is one of the best hong yue I’ve tasted, the dry leaf are of noticeable quality as well and the tea lasted 4 gongfu style infusions.
If you not familiar with red jade, google “tai cha #18” but basically is it a hybrid cultivar that is known to have the cinnamon/clove front and a cooling camphor/mint backend all with malty/astringent “assamesque”. Truly unique so much so that I made the personal decision to not but it in my hong cha yixing. I am sure a few steepings wouldn’t hurt the seasoning of the pot but it also wouldnt add to the tea or display it’s aroma subtitles either.
Only compliant I think oxidation went a tad too far some of the complexities of past hong yue (rishi tea has had the best one i’ve tried to date) seemed to be lacking. All and all a good representation and noticeable quality in both infusions and dry leaf.
Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Cinnamon, Clove, Malt, Menthol
Thank you for the teas, Beorhthraefn! This one looks like Butiki’s Taiwanese Assam (especially since they are both Taiwanese) but the flavor is much different. The long black wiry leaves almost have a similar steeped fragrance to the flavor… though both the flavor and scent are similar. It’s like a raisin, molasses thick bread… maybe with hints of maraschino cherry, maybe a little champagne. I really thought about it a while and realized it tastes like those Roman Nougat flavored chocolates (the pink filling) that I’ve had occasionally in a box of chocolates. Apparently the pink stuff is cherry and nuts. Awesome. It’s very different and I’d have to disagree with most of Steepster here… I love it. The second steep didn’t have as much of the awesome of the first steep. I didn’t use the entire package for my infuser.. maybe a teaspoon was left, which I have another sample from a teabox to split it with. It’s a very unique tea, and it always amazes me that similar looking leaves can taste so different. If anyone doesn’t want theirs… my cupboard has some room. :D
Steep #1 // few min after boiling // 3 min
Steep #2 // couple min after boiling // 4 min
Interesting! I just tried this in the clay teapot it came with, and it wasn’t as good as I remembered. I suspect this is a combination of me not having the steeping parameters quite right, and my teapot still being very “thirsty”. I had some leftover tea at the end of the session, so instead of throwing it in the fridge for tomorrow morning I poured it into the teapot and I think I’ll just leave it overnight to think about life. Maybe I’ll try it in the gaiwan next…
Oh yum. Yum yum yum.
Ok, this is the tea I got for contributing to Eco-Cha’s Indiegogo campaign (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/promote-sustainability-get-great-tea). Basically the entire inaugural harvest was sold to the campaign contributors, so I don’t think it’s possible to buy this particular tea from Eco-Cha. But I bet there will be future harvests!
As a $50 contributor I also got a little clay gongfu teapot. I cracked open the vacuum-packed bag to get some tea to use for teapot seasoning, and couldn’t resist brewing some up Western-style while I wait. :)
This is a really lovely light oolong. The scent of the dry tea is quite mild – slightly vegetal and surprisingly sweet. Brewed, the liquor is light yellow and it smells amazingly fresh, sweet, and slightly floral. I definitely get flavours of baked squash, and light notes of toasted grains. The aftertaste is indeed lingering and delicious. I’m so happy to have some of this tea. :)
Flavors: Butternut Squash, Floral, Grain, Sweet, Toasted
I found this in one of my boxes. I really don’t recall who sent it to me. Apologies.
This is an interesting tea on many levels. The dry scent is awesome – malt, honey, sweet potato. The leaf is beautiful. The first sip is Mmmmm. It starts honey, sweet potato, and woodsy. Then after reading BrewTEAlly Sweet’s review I realize I am tasting cinnamon and clove, but without the sugar I normally associate with it. So, I am chugging this cup down when I begin to notice the white wine dryness. I’m still thinking where is the mint. That is when the cheek tingle kicked in. It has staying power. My cheeks tingled long after drinking. The first cup went straight down and immediately I started number two. What I thought was woodsy in the first is now much stronger and it is like apricot without the sweetness, surrounded by the spices. The mint sensation is also amplified. So this cup went straight down as well.
I am left perplexed. I just drank two cups straight down – that means I had to enjoy it, right? Yet, I find I am not craving any more of it. I’ve never had this experience before.
With the remaining leaf I will add sugar or honey and see if additions change my view one way or the other.
I’m still sipping down some of my Lewis & Clark TTB samples.
1st steep (60s): Leaves still tightly furled. Rich buttery aroma with hints of spice. Light flavor, strong buttery finish. 2nd (60s): aroma of green beans/asparagus. The taste is more of a straw/spice/wood blend. Much less buttery. Finish is still excellent. 3rd (60s): Still good, with flavors similar to the second steep. This probably could have handled more steeps, but I got distracted and reached the point where I didn’t want more caffeine for the day.
This was a really pleasant tea: flavorful with absolutely no off-flavors. It’s not quite my favorite style, but I still enjoyed it a lot.
A very pretty, big perfect full leafed oolong! Tsui Yu gong fu steeped dances in between notes of savory, buttery, sweet, steamed vegetal (green bean) and floral (butter cup, orchid) with a lovely silky body. Each sip tastes super clean and fresh.
Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/tsui-yu-jade-oolong/
In the end, I quite liked this jade oolong, however it tasted more of a tea I’d enjoy in the Spring.