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Recent Tasting Notes
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
This is a really great example of a well-executed light-medium roast. The roasting adds some grainy notes to the tea, like cereal, while keeping a lot of greenness from the base tea. The body is much thicker than a normal green oolong as well, and it has a really nice hui gan. The finish is floral, but not too floral.
This is a nice daily drinker due to its price and the mellow, easy-going flavor profile. Another winner from FLT.
EDIT: Later steepings have notes of vanilla and honey.
First review for this wonderful company in over 2 years.
Dry leaf is very uneven and loosely rolled, all characteristics of a handmade tea, which is becoming rarer and rarer these days. The wet leaf is tough and pitch black, showing that the roast is properly done. There are almost no broken leaves. This tea steeps to a deep brown color, unlike other lower quality Dong Dings which are light brown at best. Another way this stands out from lower quality Dong Dings is in the flavor. The charcoal roasting of this makes a huge difference, the roast is smoother and tastes more natural. The tea is thicker bodied than normal Dong Dings. The tea is sweeter than normal Dong Dings. The flavors that come through are delicious, chocolate and butter with a slight floral finish. No astringency at all.
However, the price reflects the quality. This tea is $15 an ounce, however that didn’t stop it from selling out shortly after I bought it. The Floating Leaves sale wiped them out. All I can do is hope that another batch is roasted soon. In the meantime I’ll stick with cheaper Dong Dings after this ounce runs out. Absolutely love this tea.
EDIT: Later steeps have scent of Marijuana. Incredibly 420 tea.
Flavors: Butter, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Flowers, Roasted, Sweet
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.
This tea, brewed gongfu style can hold up to between five and seven infusions. The leaves are deep, rich green and are full from tip of the leaf to stem. The aroma is intense and the flavor fills the mouth with each sip. I can still taste this tea long after it is down my throat.
Happy Friday the 13th everyone! :)
Sudden urge for Dong Ding today. Since I usually have bad luck brewing this tea I decided to give it a shot today, but just for fun, with bowl brewing method (http://floatingleavestea.blogspot.com/2010/01/2009-winter-dong-ding.html).
I have to say it’s much more yummy to me! And in the course of my feeble attempts at tea descriptions on this site, I’ve come to realize that for me this means a tea is ‘grainy’ or ‘malty’. With this tea, usually with gaiwan or yixing brewing there was always that roasted floral note that (though probably the winning characteristic of dong ding, for many) was not to my taste. Now, brewing just a scant teaspoon of the leaves in my small cereal bowl, with a lowerish temperature of water (175 to 180), at around a minute and a half (so I guess these are more Western parameters), there was less of the smokiness and dizzying floral. Usually I push the brewing time to get a stronger cup (is how I thought I liked it) but today I erred on the weaker side and though at first I thought it was bland, (but with good mouthfeel, grippy but not too astringent) the hui tian is now pleasing me to no end.
So quite happy with this experiment, and I think I’ll brew my remaining stock of Dong Ding this way. Hope you had a lucky tea day today as well.
This tea is fabulous, and while FL owner recommends the traditional, I prefer this special roast. This rolled Taiwanese oolong has a very smooth mouth feel, a bit roasty, even sweet, but still floral and aromatic. Owner Shiuwen has a great palate as is clearly in evidence with this fine tea.
It was past midnight, and I was reading the comments on this blog post on brewing oolong tea (http://themandarinstea.blogspot.com/2009/10/oolong-tea-brewing-now-and-then.html). For some reason the thought of having a suggested integer by which to calculate water:tea ratio really gets me excited, enough that I got out of bed to try it out. The recommendation for taiwan oolong was: “6-7 gr for yixing of 15 cl: brew 2-3 min, 3min, 3 min, 3 min 30 sec, 4 min…” So just for fun ( I KNOW, I am lame) I calculated 6 / 150 = 0.04.
Got out a 90ml clay pot and put in approx (90 × .04 =) 3.6 grams of tea. Off-boiling water. Best batches I placed as the ones at: 1st:65s, 2nd: 25s, 3rd: 35s. Ended my tasting there, but prepared one last brew just to measure and noted that I got 80mL of tea soup.
The results were tastier than what I would have gotten had I poured out earlier, which I usually do at the 30 second mark. Admittedly, I’m not familiar with this type of tea, but for me it registers as your basic taiwan oolong, with somewhat of a sour aftertaste. That was the notable thing for me, anyway. I feel I can’t really get a good feel for the nuances of the tea just yet, because for this one I used a newly opened pack of tea. It’s like when you’re traveling, I guess, and in a new country, and don’t really feel like yourself… Maybe tomorrow, after the leaves have ‘settled in’ their new atmosphere, I’ll be able to get a more true-to-character(?) batch.
One thing though. I think I’m discovering I like my teas to have just a little little bit of bite, that state juuust before they’re rendered oversteeped/too bitter. At least for the first brew. Maybe to wake my taste buds up, or warm them up. Then the second brew, I like a little lighter. When I sip I like it to feel ‘refreshing’. And for me that round is also the best tasting. Then mostly the third is just to top it all off. For thirst. To get that liquid inside ya. Yeah.
Probably not making sense not as it’s past 1 in the morning, heh. Anyway, will sleep on this, and try to recreate the setup tomorrow. Will also try with a gaiwan.
Gosh, sorry to sound like a total flake/nutTEA professor sciencey person wannabe. THIS IS WHY you do not tea log past midnight. >_<
Still great! Used a LOT more dry leaf this time, which filled up almost half of my small gaiwan. Sadly I was distracted and by default used cooler (190ish) water for the first two brews, only remembering to go for just off-boiling for the third. No biggie. I mixed the first and third to fill a mug. But the second one was juuuuust right. Even when room temperature. I don’t know why I keep mentioning that. Maybe it’s just a sign that this tea is really tasty to me.
This is for the 2009 Spring Buddha Hand, that I got on sale. Admittedly at first sip it didn’t make such an impression, but after a week of letting it settle in its new home, I tried again.
The first steep was at around 1 minute. I didn’t weigh but the dry leaves covered the bottom of my gaiwan. And just to try something out, I used off boiling water (around 95C). Previously I used water that was a little cooler, but I guess this experiment paid off because all I can say is: YUM! I don’t know if it’s supposed to taste like this but it’s like soy milk! It feels so nommy in the mouth, too. So… creamy. Even when it cooled/lukewarm down it was still good.
I steeped the second infusion for less than 30 seconds, and the third at 40-ish, and they came out a little bland. Maybe because I tried a lower temperature. So next time, I’m using off-boiling water for all infusions.
Side note: I gave my mom a glass whistling kettle for mother’s day (Happy Mother’s Day all cool Steepster moms!), and, uhm, borrowed it from her for this session. This is probably the dorkiest thing to say but it was really neat seeing the fish-eye, crab-eye, string of pearls thing going on through the glass. Can’t get that in a plastic/metal electric kettle. So now I’m trying to figure out a way to strap on a thermometer to the kettle so I can practice on eyeballing the temperature through the size of the bubbles.
Last note: omg GIANT LEAVES! No wonder, Buddha Hand. I had a ‘doh!’ moment with that one. The things you learn everyday.
I quite like a good Jin Xuan for breakfast, and this really hit the spot this morning. 5 grams in my 120mL yixing, brewed for good five rounds (30-60, 40, 40, 50, 65) then I surrendered. When my mom arrived near lunchtime I was able to squeeze out two more rounds (wasn’t really counting, probably under two minutes) to fill a huge mug for her. I love this tea. Along with baozhong and alishan, formosa oolongs have been topping my list this month. I really should try more greens…
This is one of the best unroasted, young baozhong teas that I have tried. Very fresh and full-flavored, with a gorgeous aroma that reminds me of fresh lilacs. It’s too bad that it’s currently sold out but I’m sure Floating Leaves owner Shiuwen will have a Spring 2010 version of this tea in shortly.