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Recent Tasting Notes
Mine is Spring 2016 and it is quite pleasant, but I enjoy a green dong ding no matter what.
I used a generous amount of leaves that someone could guess at 6 grams, and doing it gong fu. Steep one was at 45 sec which was a bit of a over brew, but not too bad. I got a brothy vegetal body with a nutty and somewhat lemon-custard like after taste. I could have mistaken it for a fancier green tea if I did not know what it was…though one could argue that for jade oolongs. Just a slight difference in fermentation and elaborate processing is all.
Second more floral and brothy, but that’s it. Needs a cool down.
To make things simple, or more complicated, I’m going to back log what I already thought about the tea. It was more savory than floral most times, but the florals were strong when they would pop up in gradual fluxes. The thicker green notes occasionally out-buttered the florals and hiding fruity qualities. I would recommend it to people who like Dragon Well or those looking for a good Dong Ding to try. My personal criticism was how easily the taste changed with temperature and brewing, easily changing from nutty to brothy with the softer notes in flux. The only other criticism was the price, but hey, I can be a cheapo sometimes.
I did something today that I rarely do, I spent several hours doing nothing. Even though I am disabled and really should spend more time relaxing, I can’t, I always have to be busy doing something even if that something is studying, painting, or just keeping my mind busy…I have never been one to just sit and watch TV, I am the type person who watches TV while also doing other stuff. Lately though I have been feeling pretty icky and really didn’t want to deal with another fibro flair, so I just laid in bed and relaxed. I napped off and on, snuggled the cat, and napped some more. It was surprisingly therapeutic, my pain is not diminished, but for the first time in days I don’t feel exhausted.
And so, with it being Friday, that means it is the last day of the Floating Leaves High Mountain Oolong Sampler adventure finishing it off with the 2016 Spring ShanLinXi High Mountain Oolong, ah ShanLinXi, you guessed it, another Oolong I love. What can I say, I drink a LOT of Oolong, my stash of it and Hong Chas are the biggest in my tea collection for a reason. A lot of my experience with this wonderful tea has been the harvest later in the year, so it is good to see the contrast between spring and autumn. From the first sniff I could tell this was a ShanLinXi, it has that to me iconic crisp alpine air, that blends morning fog, cedar leaves, and mineral notes. Alongside this mountainous goodness are notes of sugar cane, blooming tulip trees, and a gentle note of hyacinth and sesame seeds. A delicious combination to make my nose happy.
Gaiwan time! I originally used this gaiwan for red teas, but decided I had enough teaware devoted to that type of tea and decided this gaiwan wanted to be used for oolongs. The aroma of the leaves after the first steep is great, I say it smells alpine but really it reminds me of the air deep in the Smoky Mountains, you can smell the trees and the misty, cloud heavy air…it is kinda fantastic. Speaking of trees there are notes of blooming tulip trees, hyacinth, lilacs, and a distant note of apples. The liquid has notes of sweet snap peas, distant fresh peaches, sugar cane, tulip tree blossoms, and apple flowers. It is sweet and light, very refreshing.
This is one smooth steep, it has a buttery thickness but instead of being oily it is more smooth, like velvet. The taste is sweet and light, notes of sugar cane and sweet snap peas start it out, then it moves to sesame custard and buttery goodness, but the finish, well that is unique! Notes of fresh pears and gentle peaches with a lingering fruity, juicy, sweetness.
On to the second steep, the aroma is mountainous and blooming trees, on the very end of the aroma is a gentle pear and peach note that I am loving. Like the first steep this one is velvety smooth and light while being quite sweet. This tea reminds me more of spring than any of the others from this sampler, with notes of blooming tulip trees (seriously tulip tree nectar is so delicious) apple blossoms, juicy pears and fresh apples. With a gentle note of growing green mountainous air and snap peas, the majority of the taste is very sweet and delicately fruity.
So where the other two steeps were light this one really blooms. By the point the leaves have unfurled and wow, the aroma is intense! Sweet fruit, blooming flowers, and a touch of fresh green vegetation. The mouthfeel is thick and buttery while being buttery smooth, it compliments the juicy fruit notes and blooming flower notes wonderfully. I went in for many steeps MANY, I lost count. It is wonderfully sweet and refreshing and is a strong contender for favorite from the sampler!
Yours truly did one of the most girly things last night, well girly for me anyway…I was up til five in the morning working on my wedding registry and wish-listing wedding related clothing and things. My desire to dress like a princess, have my wedding dress be something I will use more than once, and to not spend a fortune has made this an exciting endeavor. We still haven’t set a date yet, it will at the least be a year away since we are waiting for Ben’s sister to come back from Peace Corps, and I am kinda hoping for a Halloween wedding as to be an excuse as to why my wedding garb looks possibly like a cosplay of two different characters of mine from two separate RPGs Ben and I play, that is a conversation I don’t want to have a million times, but if it is Halloween that is good enough! Oh man, I am such a dork.
You guessed it, today the adventure through the Floating Leaves High Mountain Oolong Sampler continues as I pretend to travel to these beautiful mountains through the taste of teas. Looking at 2016 Spring LiShan High Mountain Oolong today, and this tea mountain has a special place in my heart. If you travel back in time to September of 2013, it was one of the first High Mountain Oolongs I blogged about, I didn’t have my army of gaiwans or clay pots yet, I was doing pseudo gong-fu with quick steeps using a half filled mug and a steeping basket. Oh how times have changed, three years later and it is still a favorite…and I have more gaiwans/teapots/cups than sense now. I got fussed at by Ben while I was sniffing this tea, mainly because I started making a racket and he has a headache, but the aroma is pretty out of this world. It is very sweet, with notes of chestnut, sugar cane, and a bit of starchiness, but the thing that elicited the noise from me was the distinct note of bananas and pineapples, it smells so good!! I had my nose stuffed in the teapot snuffling like a truffle pig for far longer than necessary.
I decided to give my gaiwans a bread and pull out the green Oolong XiShi pot, I say green but really at this point it is only used for Taiwanese High Mountain Oolongs, TGY and Baozhong have their own pots, because I am a hoarder. The aroma of the leaves after the first steep still has that banana note of happiness, but is also has a savory spinach note, sesame seeds, bok choy, hyacinth, and a general aroma of growing things in summertime. The liquid smells like freshly baked slightly buttery banana bread, and I swear if it wasn’t 100° I would bake some. There are also gentle notes of pineapple, starch, and a bit of green vegetation.
Tasting time! While writing this I am watching Roman Holiday, a good backdrop to musing about fancy teas. It starts light and sweet with a wonderfully buttery viscous mouthfeel, it really lights up in the back of the throat, gentle at the front then a light show at the back. The taste of banana and orange blossom at the back if the throat is joined by a beginning of sweet peas and fresh vegetation. Delicious stuff!
Next steep, woo! The aroma is sweet and green, a really good balance of the two. The taste, well, first let me touch on that texture, it is so thick and buttery, but the thickness is accompanied by a rich sweetness that lingers long into the aftertaste, I swear it is so long in the mouth. The taste, once I finally get my thoughts out of the mouthfeel, is floral and sweet, with distant bananas, pineapples, and orange blossoms.
Third steep, the aroma is still going strong with sweet and green, however there is a building hyacinth note that gets quite strong towards the end of the sniffing. The taste is also quite flowery this steep, notes of hyacinths, lilacs, orange blossoms, and a distant bit of plumeria. Towards the end the banana and fresh vegetation notes show up with a lingering buttery sweetness that stay forever. I pulled many steeps out of this tea, when it nears its finish the notes of lilac and hyacinth dominate til they fade away.
You know what is adorable, Ben snuggling Espeon. She is in one of those super cuddly moods, but alas I am melting from the stupid heat, so Ben to the rescue! Usually I never mind a lap cat, but it is one of those days where it is hot and humid so my skin is all crawly. It is all good though since I get to see cuteness.
Day two of the Floating Leaves Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Sampler specifically looking at the 2016 Spring Alishan High Mountain Oolong! Alishan is one of my favorite mountains for tea, especially the green Oolong style, I always get excited when I get a chance to enjoy it. Made from the QinXin varietal, which means sweet goodness, seriously I have never had a QinXin that was not wonderfully sweet. The aroma is buttery and sweet, with notes of chestnuts, sweet snap peas, sugar cane, and crisp celery. It balances sweetness and that refreshing bit of green for a light yet nuanced blend of notes.
I brewed this tea a couple of different ways, specifically gongfu and cold-steep, and let me start by saying gongfu was AMAZING, it is a star example of an Alishan with a thick texture, sweet taste, and mellow feeling, if you get this sampler (or just this tea) I suggest trying it out this way at least once. Since it is swelteringly hot though I want to showcase how this tea really impressed me, cold-steeped! The day I cold-steeped this tea I knew the night (after my session of gongfu) that I had errands to run the next day and would want tea, so I tossed the leaves in for a morning treat.
Oh my goodness this tea, in the aroma it has crisp notes of sweet snap peas and sugar cane, buttery thickness, and nutty chestnut. These notes are present, but they are joined with ethereal notes of freesia and lilac. I pretty much downed my entire first steep instantaneously, I didn’t even get out of the house with it! It was so wonderfully light while being nuanced, I love that.
So here I am with a pile of leaves and the need for tea, so I go grandpa style and add warm water, let it steep for a few, and then top it off with some ice to inevitably melt in the heat while also keeping the leaves around. This time around it really showcases the green aspect of the tea, notes of lettuce and celery, herbaceous oregano and a bit of parsley. It is so crisp and refreshing while still being sweet and floral. I am going to go on the record and say this is my favorite cold-steeped Oolong to date, the perfect combo of sweet and crisp while never being overwhelming.
I do a decent amount of gluten free baking, basically because I like to bake and I don’t like paying the store prices for mediocre GF sweets. However one particular sweet eludes my skills, blasted traditional style shortbread! I decided I really wanted shortbread the other night, so I made some (with added black sesame to make it extra tasty) and the taste was great, but the texture was so crumbly. No matter what blend of flours I try I just cannot get the texture right, adding various gums, using eggs, even trying a flax seed ‘pseudo gluten’ cannot get the texture to be like shortbread. My greatest challenge, it is funny since when I was not baking GF I was godlike at shortbread!
It is time for another theme week! This time I am looking at all the teas in the Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Sampler from Floating Leaves (there is a handy coupon at the bottom of the blog) starting with HeHuanShan High Mountain Oolong. What really excited me about this Oolong was it is from a mountain I have not sampled, meaning it is time for an adventure! HeHuanShan is part of the Taroko Gorge National Park and sits on the boundry of Nantou and Hualien Counties, and do yourself a favor and google the park and the mountain, both are serious eye-candy for nature lovers. So now I am going to explore those mountains vicariously though these beautiful green leaves. The notes I am picking up are very intriguing, somewhat expected notes of flowers, specifically a touch of honeysuckle and gardenia, a delightful burst of plumeria, and a mellow note of hyacinth. The part that made me giggle a bit maniacally was the distinct sweet note of lemon cheesecake. Seriously, there is even a hint of graham cracker crust, and that cheesecake creaminess with the sweet zingy lemon burst is mouthwatering.
After I finally convinced myself to pull my nose out of the leaves, it is steeping time! The aroma of the slightly unfurled leaves is buttery sweet and floral, notes of sweet cream, plumeria, gardenia, lilac, and teaberry. Ah yes, teaberry, a species of wintergreen that is made into a pink icecream in Pennsylvania that I would eat piles of when I worked at Dairy Queen, I was sad when they discontinued special flavors. It reminds me a bit of the same effect that Red Jade has, where it smells like mint but not minty, somewhat paradoxical but super delicious regardless. The aroma of the first steep’s liquid is light and buttery, floral and sweet, with an underlying green crispness. One thing that really stands out about the liquid is the distinct note of lichen and rocks at a mountain spring or after a rain, it is ghostly and only present as I am pulling the cup away from my nose, but it is there and evocative of the mountains where this tea is grown.
Ok wow, the first thing that struck me about this steep is that thick mouthfeel, buttery and creamy, my mouth is coated with oolong goodness…I would go as far as to say it is viscous. Thickness aside, the taste is sweet and wonderfully floral at the front, notes of summer lilacs and plumeria with a sweet honeysuckle nectar. In the middle there is a gentle gardenia note alongside orange blossom and gentle creamy note. The finish is gently savory and buttery, more savory like butter than buttery vegetal, but there is a touch of bok choy with an aftertaste of distant flowers and lemons.
On to the second steep, the leaves have unfurled a great bit and the liquid looks like afternoon sunlight. The aroma is thick, heady notes of flowers and buttery green with a sweet lingering lemon cheesecake quality that hangs around in my nose for a while. Wow this is a thick tea! I am loving how mouth coating it is, combine the texture with the slightly sour/sweet lemon cheesecake and teaberry notes and you have me salivating, it is pretty awesome. After this initial burst of sweetness, a thick savory blend of cooked buttery cabbage and bok choy arises, and the finish is sweet lemony which lingers into the aftertaste.
Third steep time! The aroma is flowery and sweet with a gentle crisp green undertone, to me it smells like early summer with the flowers all in bloom. You know, I am torn as to which is more striking about this tea, the mouthfeel or the aftertaste. The aftertaste lingers for so long, I had to sit and wait a bit between the second and third steep because it stuck around that long. The taste is a blend of flowers and crisp lettuce, then boom, lemon cheesecake that lingers well into the aftertaste again. This tea has great longevity too, I got nine steeps out of it before it faded away. Now, coupon time! Use the code teageekery35 for 35% off the High Mountain Sampler before August 31st!
I’ve tried all of the high mountain sampler, and honestly, it was like trying different versions of the same type of tea. Which I know is not. Anyway, I was surprised to find that this was not my favorite. Oolong owl’s review is pretty accurate: the thick balanced creamy body is what distinguishes this tea. It is a little bit more spinachy than I like, but still quite good. The florals, buttery green notes, the light fruity sweetness, and the intense creaminess of the tea are all blended together like watercolors into a opaque creamy hue. The tea itself is actually very transparent-do not confuse my pretentious metaphor!
The intense milk like texture is what surprised me most of all. It pleased me, but a part of me wanted more florals. Oddly enough, the Alishan was actually my favorite of the samples because it had the sweetest creamy florals in my opinion.
Oh, I almost forgot! I did this gong fu, but I played it by smell and ear. I maybe could have used less leaves, but I doubt there would be much impact.
I would not personally get this tea separately for full price because I’ve had Shan Lin Xi’s I prefer for a lower price, but I whole-heartly recommend the sampler for trying different high mountain oolongs. They are all INCREDIBLY similar, but have a few differences to keep them distinct.
This is a great tea, and I do recommend it. The only deterrants might be the spinachy, buttery body. There were times when I wondered if I was drinking a Baozhong, but the fruitiness reminded me otherwise.
Wow. My Floating Leaves order arrived darn quickly.
Now this tea. Amanda and Oolong Owl have hyped this up a bit, so I had to try it myself. In my usual fashion, I need to try this again.
It is incredibly light. In terms of taste, it is like a crisp, light and well balanced Li Shan (which it is). The florals are interesting. Definitely creamy with the overall tea being pretty green, but more light and floral than anything else. Lilac usually comes to mind with them, but for me, something similar to lavender comes up. Lavender and hibiscus. Not the rosella red hibiscus of the same genus used in tisanes, but the Chinese flower species or range of species. In terms of sweetness, I get what some people might call a green sugar cane sweetness, which is one that I associate with Jin Xuans.
This is a pretty good tea, but like I said, I’d have to try it again.
I tried this again with less leaves making all the difference. I agree that this tastes better than the Shan Lin Xi. What I wrote earlier was still pretty accurate with this tea balancing out all the usual notes associated with a high mountain tea. I got more fruit notes than I did last time, and noticed the sweetness a hint more. All in all, it is a good Li Shan, but I would not buy masses of this for the price.
My favorite out of the 2016 Floating Leaves High Mountain oolongs. This one has good balance of floral, buttery, and sweet with a thick body. The thick creamy body is what I like best about this oolong. It does well gaiwan or bowl style. I even boil this oolong and it doesn’t get too dry.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/hooty-tea-travels-floating-leaves-tea-seattle-part-22/
I did a 5 oolong comparison. I found ShanLinXi was my favorite. The DaYuLing tasted better (gaiwan only, it wasn’t good in a bowl), but the ShanLinXi price is much better for me, haha!
Vegetal, grassy, fresh, and very light, with limited depth, and not much back-of-the-throat pleasant bitterness that I like so much from higher mountain oolongs. It’s quite pleasant, but not particularly remarkable.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Guava
(Here’s another review from the Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox! Actually all my reviews lately are from the teabox although I may have forgotten to mention it once or twice.)
Mmmm. I think this is the first tea I’ve actually tasted the “sweet potato” flavor in. That seems to be the strongest note, although I think I can detect some malt in there too. But it tastes so much like sweet potato I’m thinking of putting brown sugar and marshmallows in and calling it Thanksgiving or something. (Have you ever put marshmallows in your tea? I haven’t. It probably doesn’t go over as well as putting them in hot chocolate.) It’s a very full-bodied flavor and an interesting one, although I’m not sure yet whether it’s going to be one of my favorites or not.
(ETA: I have decided that I quite like it and that it is extremely excellent with milk and sugar and also goes well with french toast.)
Because it was drizzling in New York City, this was a perfect day to taste this new tea that just came today. This is quite a discovery. This tea is like a Christmas pudding in many ways, The deep color of the first infusions. The smell of the wet leaves. The taste of the tea that is packed with intense plum and dates flavors. The bold taste gets smoother and tones of minerals and dried cranberries appear while the tea leaves smell of dried apricots. A real enjoyment.
Flavors: Cacao, Cranberry, Dates, Dried Fruit, Mineral, Plums, Raisins, Wet Wood
Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox – Round #5 – Tea #44
I had this one a few days ago so this will basically be an “I drank this” note. It’s one of those “roman nougat” type teas I love, but again, this one isn’t as roman nougat as I would like it to be. I just want one with a huge amount of flavor like that! I’m not sure if it is possible. I’m not sure if that depends on age of the tea or the harvest itself. But if I find one with a lot of “roman nougat”, I will definitely stock up! This resulted in delicious steeps anyway. It’s nice to have a couple of these types of teas in the teabox for an example for the newbies!
Here’s Hoping TTB R5 #6
Ok, stick with me here but this tea I swear tastes like bacon, sweet potato and olives… its super savory which is actually making my taste buds pretty happy! Reading the description online I’m supposed to be getting a very sweet scent (nope) and taste (double nope) with a minty aftertaste (triple nope) and hints of caramel (quadruple nope) and sweet potato (BINGO!!!)… so I’m definitely not experiencing what I’m supposed to.. instead of sweet and minty I’m getting very strong savory notes but its still a tasty drop and one I would consider purchasing if and when my tea cupboard is finally under control…
Irregularly shaped nuggets, dark green to dark brown. Dry leaves have a sweet, almost cake-like smell.
Broth has a comforting, silky, mildly brothy texture. The first steeping has a sweet, vibrant taste like fresh, lightly sauteed summer squash. The next few steeps add depth with a slight bitterness like steamed spinach.
It started to lose flavor at 3 or 4 steeps for me, so not the longest-lasting tea, but wonderful while it lasts.
Flavors: Spinach, Zucchini
Tightly rolled, very dark green nuggets. There is a nice floral aroma along with a brothy, almost creamy scent.
The first few steeps are very green, as opposed to a more roasted oolong. Strong umami. brothy flavor with a fairly thick mouthfeel. The umami notes dominate, there’s just a hint of the floral notes in the brewed tea. Later/longer steepings bring out a touch of mouth-puckering astringency that adds a nice bite to the flavor.
A hearty and vibrant tea nice for breakfast or midday.
Flavors: Broth, Floral, Vegetal
My first tea of the morning is a sample from Blodeuyn. Keemun is one of the black teas that I want to try more of, since my experience so far is fairly limited. I heard early-on that they’re supposed to be smoky, and I haven’t really seen that too much in the ones I’ve tried. This tea has very small leaves, and they’re thin and black. Dry scent is musty hay with malt and some smoke. These leaves are very easy to measure, so I actually used a level teaspoon this time! :P I let it steep for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
The aroma is an interesting juxtaposition of creamy and smooth with mineral and smoky. And the taste is the same way! The texture is very smooth and there’s a definite creaminess to the taste, but there’s also a fairly strong mineral note and a touch of smoke in the background. In the middle is a grainy/bready note and some malt, helping to bring the two sides together. A very interesting, almost split personality tea. And a somewhat smoky Keemun! :)
Flavors: Baked Bread, Creamy, Earth, Grain, Malt, Mineral, Smoke, Smooth
I reached into my big bag o’ black tea samples this morning, and this is what came out! :P This sample came from Blodeuyn, thanks dear. It has those telltale Taiwanese “creepy tree branch” leaves that are jet black in color. The dry scent was sweet and malty with some fruit notes. I let it steep for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
Mm, brewed aroma is all sweet potato! It’s accompanied by malt and brown sugar with just a hint of fruit aroma. Sweet potato is the star in the taste as well, and I am happy to see that the tea’s description agrees with me. There’s a fair bit of malt and some nice dark molasses or burnt sugar notes, but I also get a small wisp of something that reminds me of jasmine. As I let the tea cool (aka forgot about it while playing games, doh), I could taste this floral note more. I also got an interesting savory flavor that reminded me of green olives (I know that sounds terrible, but it wasn’t) – not necessarily the sourness, but the overall flavor profile. Interesting! :)
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Jasmine, Malt, Molasses, Olives, Sweet Potatoes
Dry leaf aroma: Pure cocoa.
Dry leaf appearance: http://instagram.com/p/sc5ybFlcOu/
Wet leaf aroma: Smoky with a hint of damp hay.
Wet leaf appearance: http://instagram.com/p/sc6h_ylcPv/
Preparation: Brewed western style in an all glass infuser mug.
First steeping: 3 minutes 30 seconds at 205 degrees. Smoky aroma with notes of earth and hay. While the cup is hot I taste strong smoke and malt flavors, with a hint of bitterness. As I let the cup cool the bitterness is more pronounced.
Second steeping: 4 minutes at 205 degrees. Almost identical to the first steeping.
I was hoping the second steeping would bring out more flavor but I think I just personally perceive this tea as a very smoky Keemun. I’ve never experienced a smoky flavor in Keemun before and I’m not sure I will finish the sample package, though I’ve considered using it in a custom Breakfast blend.
Flavors: Earth, Hay, Smoke
I was looking through my tea cabinet for something interesting when I came across a small green sealed package simply labeled “Muzha Tieguanyin 2005” I don’t even remember where this came from, or how long I’ve had it (I really ought to keep track of this stuff), but I thought what the hey, I love oolongs, I love tieguanyin, I may as well try it!
I was a bit surprised, to be honest, by the roasty aroma and the very dark, nearly black leaves, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a roasted oolong before, so this was going to be a new experience. for me; I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I had already temped the water at around 175, as I wasn’t expecting such a dark, roasty tea. A couple steepings at this temperature and I quickly learned that wasn’t going to work— I was going to need to reboil the water to pull the full flavors from this one. After that, the roasted flavors sort became much stronger; reminded me of very much of houjicha (but with much less astringency). Rather warm and soothing, but I was a little disappointed that throughout the whole session the flavor remained exactly the same, the strong roasted flavor overshadowing any other flavors the tea might have had.
I wonder, is this typical of roasted oolongs? If so, I’m not sure they fall under my favorites. I have enough left for another session, so maybe next time I’ll brew it alongside my staple houjicha and see if I can find any other flavors under all that roasty-toastiness.
Floating Leaves’ house green is a great everyday tea. It’s very cleanly scented (both dry and steeped) and the taste, while not life-changing, is fairly memorable. It’s one of the few greens I haven’t oversteeped. (I’m getting better!)
I noticed with this green that the fruitiness only comes out once the tea has cooled, and I can thank my children for allowing me to experience tea at all of the different temperatures. When hot, it’s quite grassy and fresh tasting. I do actually pick up just a hint of spiciness, although I’m not certain where that is coming from. It’s certainly not a flavored tea, but it would make an amazing base for a fruity addition.
I love this tea. I’m on my 5th or 6th infusion (brewed gongfu style in a gaiwan) and the taste & scent are still strong. The scent of the wet leaves is an intoxicating mix of butter, flowers and sweetness/fruit. I really can not stop smelling my gaiwan! The taste of the tea broth is rich and smooth with full mouth feel.