Golden Moon Tea
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Recent Tasting Notes
Yikes. This got bitter fast. Oddly it also has a sugary-sweet aftertaste. There are some rich cooked-vegetable notes, like artichokes or asparagus, and then a straight sugar flavor. It’s not a horrible cup but I just don’t know what to make of it. I’m guessing this is a Chinese green, and those tend to be very hit-or-miss for me. This one’s a miss, but it’s also a sipdown.
ETA: Oddly this is growing on me as it cools—possibly because it’s less bitter and more sugary. Still wouldn’t buy it but it’s not totally horrible.
Tasting note no. 666. Cue Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.
(The spooky Omen music starts at about 1:48 but you can knock yourself out and listen to the whole thing if you have an hour LOL.)
I had nothing with devil, diablo, diable, satan, lucifer, or such in the name so I decided to go the opposite direction, literally up rather than down. Hence the Temple of Heaven.
After I sampled this in my 31 flavor Golden Moon sampler I gave it a rating of 73 and added it to my order. It’s weird, though. Now I don’t think I’d order something unless I gave it a 75 or higher, and I’d probably only order a few teas ranked in the 70s as there are so many I’ve given more than 80 to.
But that’s easily solved on this one by bumping the rating a few points. I don’t have a lot to compare it to in the gunpowder sphere, but as a green tea, it’s a nice change from the lighter, more vegetal green teas I’ve been having lately. The smokiness, though light by Lapsang and even Keemun standards, is quite enjoyable on a rainy February evening.
I may regret drinking this at 9 p.m., but I was up against the 666 number and I didn’t see this as a first thing in the morning tea. Heh.
Night night all.
The thing about flavored Golden Moon teas is that they are extremely subtly flavored. So is this one. I barely detect any melon flavor in it, but it is certainly there and pairs with the base tea very nicely. I’m guessing it would make a delicious iced tea, as the melon is the most prominent when the tea is cold, but since I am not a fan of iced teas that quality is mostly lost on me.
It is a top-quality white, fruity and brisk, with a hint of lovely, juicy watermelon. I might consider getting at least a few samples of it in the future, if I don’t feel like committing myself to several ounces just yet.
My husband and I woke up to an insanely snowed in driveway. He couldn’t get out of it even with 4WD, so we had to shovel some of the snow out of the way. I knew my modest lil’ car would never make it, so I had to call off work. Not happy about it but OH WELL… I guess I will stay and taste some tea instead.
It seemed right to start off with some breakfast blend. Travelling Tea Box offered two Golden Moon ones (yay!): English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast. When I have a choice between these two, I always choose Irish. It could be the loyalty of coming from a tormented-by-history country, I guess ;)
The only Irish Breakfast blend I had before this one was Twinings’ bagged one. You can all take an educated guess that this is going to be the better one of the two ;D The color is deep, deep malty-red. And the smell… Here is the only point in common with the Twinings Irish – the sweet, grassy smell that reminds me of early afternoons at our cabin (alas, not a log cabin!) in the woods where we spend most of our time off from spring to autumn… Ah, it feels like we haven’t been there for ages!
Back to the tea though, the flavor is amazing! Pretty bitter, but not too much, it doesn’t need sugar or any other sweetener in my opinion. It sure gives you a solid kick and could replace any Colombian coffee any time (not that I care, I haven’t had coffee for months – and do not miss it). I also detect some very interesting undertones of cherry perhaps? Some kind of tart fruit.
As it cools down, it starts to taste really creamy. Delicious.
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I must admit, this is the first mini-tuocha pu’er that I have purchased. As a result, it took me a while to steep this correctly. It is not a bad tea, in my opinion it is just not that bold. Sure it has that pu’er taste that I love but it is really a muted and weak taste. While my Mandala Noble Mark grabs you and says here I am, this one just says here I am, can you taste me?
Amount: 4 tsp
Water: 1000ml at 212°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 1 minute
Dry Leaf Smell: malty, sweet, floral
Steeped Tea Smell: malty, sweet, i get a melony-scent
Flavor: sweet, smooth, vegetal with a slight bakey finish
Aftertaste: sweet, almost a sumer melon
Liquor: translucent light orange brown
1000ml at 212°F for 2 min
very dark brown liquor
i think i should have done 1:30
1000ml at 212°F for 2 min
malty, vegetal, less astringent, better (prior really ought to have been 1:30), nice and smooth, almost silky
1000ml at 212°F for 2 min 30 sec
1000ml at 212°F for 3 min
weak, but drinkable i think it could handle another steep but it’s time to go home
Rating: 3/4 leaves
Sipdown no. 57 for the year 2014 and also the end of revisiting the handful of Golden Moon samples I couldn’t decide about the first time through.
I will say that although this sample was tiny (about 1.5g) it was very aromatic in the sample packet. Having spent some time away from oolongs, I was really liking what I smelled. A lot of chestnuts and cedar, and yes, I could smell the dates and the orange blossoms, too. Sometimes being away can really refresh your senses. I rinsed the leaves and went for a first steep.
The aroma is very toasty and I definitely get chestnuts this time (I steeped longer-4 minutes for the first steep). There’s a sweet fruitiness that I’m ready to call dates. Both the chestnut and the date come through in the flavor, and around the edges and in the finish, I understand the claim to cedar. There’s also something like stonefruit.
The flavor is not as deep and round as I expected. I recall some other dark oolongs I’ve tasted as having that quality. But I think it’s better than I judged it to be the first time around when I had tea fatigue.
Second steep. I went longer this time 5 minutes. More chestnut, and a mellower, sweeter fruity taste.
Third steep. 5:30. It continues to mellow and get a little rounder in flavor.
The wet leaves have a smell I’d describe as green coffee beans.
My main issue right now is that I have a lot of oolong in my stash, more than any sane person should have, really. And because it is the sort of thing that I like to take my time with, steep multiple times, savor, etc. it tends to get drunk less than blacks, greens, whites and herbals. (The only thing that gets drunk less is pu-erh and that’s basically for the same reason.) I need to drink some of my other oolongs and see how they stack up.
I’m going to go ahead and put this on the shopping list. It’s a safe decision, both because I’m on lockdown and because even if I wasn’t, I have too much oolong and too much other Golden Moon tea to justify ordering more of this any time soon. (Don’t you love this public self-talk thing? LOL)Bumping the rating a tad because I liked how the taste and the description on the label matched up.
Sipdown no. 56 for the year 2014. A sample; another in the “not sure, try again” category after my massive Golden Moon order.
Trying this side by side with the Vanilla Mint to see how different they are. I will say that the Vanilla Mint has much more of the Andes/Girl Scout thin mint thing going on than this does. This is much more of a pure mint smell in the sample packet.
The steeped aroma is a delicate mint, and the flavor is pretty much as described in my original note. There’s a definite difference between this and the Vanilla Mint. This has a fresher, cleaner taste from the green tea base, with a rather buttery green flavor underneath. The Vanilla Mint is creamier and heartier from the black tea and vanilla.
I like this quite a bit. If I didn’t already have other green mints in my collection, I’d probably add this to the shopping list.
Sipdown no. 55 for the year 2014. A sample; another in the “not sure, try again” category after my massive Golden Moon order.
I see in my previous note that I wanted to try this one next to the Moroccan Mint to see how they compared. Which probably explains why I also have a sample of the Moroccan Mint.
I’m going to steep them right after each other and taste them side by side. I’m going to try this one at 185 for 3 minutes since my previous note indicated that hotter water worked better.
I should caution you that sniffing the sample packet is risky because it’s amazingly reminiscent of Andes mints, or Girl Scout thin mint cookies. I see I said that in my original note as well, so I’m not crazy. See, there’s that chocolate/vanilla continuum thing again! There’s really no reason this should smell like chocolate mint since it’s vanilla mint. But that’s what I smell—chocolate mint!
I’m having a very similar experience this time around compared with what I documented in my first note. One thing I’ll add to the steeped aroma—there’s a spicy note I didn’t mention the first time, kind of a peppery kick to the aroma.
The flavor is a soft mint, with a creaminess to it from the vanilla. Its a somewhat heartier, full bodied flavor overall than the Moroccan Mint, because of the addition of black tea and vanilla. But standing on its own, this is a lighter, medium bodied tea.
It’s quite nice and I’d drink it again. Would I buy a full size tin? Hard to say. Probably not now as I have too many other mints and if I were to feel like mint I’d likely go for the straight mint of Tazo Refresh, the green mint of Samovar Moorish mint, or perhaps one of my various chocolate mint combos.
And gee, I’d tag the flavors, but there’s no mint among them?
In the process of making tea eggs with the remainder of In Pursuit of Tea’s Golden Yunnan—that means two more sipdowns (uh, sort of). I decided on an oolong sample to brew up while I wait. I’m using the recipe Golden Moon sent out in their newsletter a while back, at least in theory, but I totally changed the spicing because of availability/preference. My kitchen smells amazing right now, so I must have done something right!
This smells gorgeous! It smells a lot like Adagio’s Dancong Aria to me, which is definitely a good thing. Fresh and fruity and lovely. The taste doesn’t quite hold up to the smell, oddly enough. It’s the exact same flavor profile as Dancong Aria—peaches, white flowers, cedar wood, and a little earthiness—but it’s weaker than I expected. It’s not bad, but there’s not enough fruit or floral to it for me and I’ve had better oolongs of this type.
ETA: Now that it’s cooled I’m getting way more fruit. I think this is one that’s great cold but not ideal hot.
Flavors: Cedar, Earth, Fruit Tree Flowers, Peach
A sipdown! I wasn’t actually sure what to get myself so I went for using something up. This got a little bitter with just an extra minute of steep time. Ouch. I think my main problem with this is that it doesn’t resteep well, because if I’m going to pay for high-quality jasmine tea I want to get two steeps out of it at minimum. It’s really a good jasmine taste on the first steep, and much lighter (fluffier, if you will) than most.
Sipdown no. 52 of the year 2014. A sample; another of the Golden Moon teas that I couldn’t quite make up my mind about after the initial taste-through of the 31 tea sampler. I notice that Adham rated this very highly so I’m using his time and temp to steep instead of my original. 195 for 3:30.
I am probably very over-caffeinated at this point because I’ve been drinking black tea all morning, so I’m using this as a transition out of blacks (it has both black and green tea in it) for the day, but I wonder whether I’m so wired that something has gone wack-o with my smeller.
Sniffing the packet, my first thought was “lime sherbet?” My second was “bubblegum?” Which made me stop to think whether one of the flavors I taste in the flavor known as bubblegum is vanilla, because it certainly isn’t jasmine. But I think vanilla is part of that flavor? This wasn’t what I described smelling the first time around. The longer I sniff, the more I can differentiate the jasmine and the vanilla, of course. But a lot of other associations come along as well. Grape soda?
After steeping I get much more jasmine in the aroma than vanilla this time, though the associations continue. I mentioned crème soda last time, and I can see that, though I also get an impression of flavored fruit soda smell.
I am getting both vanilla and jasmine in the taste, more jasmine than vanilla like last time. The flavor is…. interesting. I like jasmine and I like vanilla, but together they don’t work together as well for me as they do separately. The aftertaste also leaves me with something of a Pepto Bismal association this time. Between that and the back of the throat grab from this mix that I mentioned the first time and that is happening on the second try as well, this is a pass for me. I’m bumping it down because I enjoyed it rather less than most things I’ve tasted in the past couple of weeks. Which is unfortunate because Golden Moon has so many other teas that I love to pieces.
Sipdown no. 49 for the year 2014. A sample. Pear!
I must say that this sipdown business is quite enjoyable. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Okay, a small one. But I can use all the feelings of accomplishment I can get. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to be making a huge dent in my collection yet, but that’s just because for every sample I sip down I find another one I add to the pile. LOL.
In looking back at my first note about this, I see that I said I was confused about this one enough that I wanted to buy another sample when I placed my order. Indeed, that is what came to pass. I placed a mega-order with Golden Moon after doing my initial sample taste-through. Of the 31 samples, I think I bought close to 20 of them in a full size. There were only a couple of GM teas I completely scratched off the list. I can’t remember what those were but think the licorice was one. The rest were in this category-not sure, try again.
So here I go, trying again. Last time around I steeped this in boiling water for 3 minutes. This time I’m going to try it at a slightly lower temperature and a little longer. Teabird quite liked this one judging from her note and she steeped at 205 for 3:15 (she also suggested steeping more than once, which I will try). ifjuly also liked this and used boiling water but went to 4 minutes. The sample packet suggests boiling at 4-5 minutes, but I generally find going more than 4 minutes for black teas is suboptimal. I’m going to try 205 for 4 minutes.
This time around, I am getting much more fruit aroma from the dry leaves. It’s pear-like, in an apply sense. There’s also a fair amount of honey-pollen to the fragrance. I’m getting less floral and more fruit/honey this time around.
The steeped tea’s aroma definitely has a pear scent. I also smell honey, and I note that the first time, I thought the honey dominated. Not so here. The liquor color is, again, a honey color.
The flavor is again, very interesting. Yes, it’s definitely honey pear. But not consistently. Sometimes it’s a little more like apple, sometimes it’s a little more like pollen, and in some sips it is none of the above. I’m getting a little bit of bite in my throat from the tea base, too, which isn’t my favorite sensation.
Second steep: In general, mellower. The flavors do seem to blend together somewhat better this time. I’m getting that waxy mouthfeel I got during my original tasting.
I think what I’m looking for in a pear tea is more an essence of fresh, ripe pears, unmitigated by any other flavors, such as honey.
After giving this a good second run, I’m ready to conclude it isn’t for me. If someone served it to me, I’d drink it and enjoy it, but I don’t see it being something I’d reach for if I kept it in the house. Bumping the rating down a tad to remind me it’s not a reorder for me.
Sipdown! My kettle is being weird again because of the weather, so all temperature notes are approximate today. This looked really delicate so I brewed it low like a white tea. It claims to be a green but I’ve seen snow sprout classified as a white before, and it has flavors like both… Huh.
It’s moderately grassy but more in a hay way than a vegetable way. It reminds me a little of snow peas, actually. The end of the sip and aftertaste blend together into a sweet green taste that’s almost floral. Not a bad cup but not a favorite for me.
Longer steep this time with the same leaves. This time I’m mostly tasting green tea and almost no jasmine. It’s not bitter, and it’s a fine green, but where is all the nice floral flavor? 52/100 for this cup.
ETA: There is a teeny bit of jasmine there in the aftertaste. Teeny. I didn’t even notice it until halfway through the cup.
Brewed lower and shorter than recommended just in case. Jasmine greens have a nasty habit of going bitter on me.
This is really pretty good. I still think there’s better jasmine out there, but brewed this way it’s surprisingly buttery (not a word I’ve ever used for a Chinese green before), and the jasmine is amazingly light and sweet. It’s almost like jasmine cotton candy, if you can imagine that. I may try the resteep a little longer just for comparison’s sake, but this is a good cup.
Amount: 5 tsp
Water: 750ml at 212°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 1 minute 30 seconds
Dry Leaf Smell: roasty
Steeped Tea Smell: floral, roasty, maybe even a little dirt (like puerh)
Flavor: nutty, floral, roasty, slightly gritty mouthfeel, sweet finish
Liquor: translucent light orange brown
very light and yet complex for this first steep
750ml at 212°F for 2 minutes
750ml at 212°F for 2 minutes 30 seconds
750ml at 212°F for 3 minutes
7 is a lie, no way
Rating: 2/4 leaves
After the near-disaster of earlier I’m not up to anything else new tonight. I decided to go with a favorite, and when I looked into my cabinet I was drawn to this one.
Why was this not rated 100 before? It’s by far my favorite of my full size Golden Moon tins. This is everything I like about simply flavored oolongs. Light, smooth, refreshing, perfect. I brewed this at a lower temperature this time and it made it amazingly creamy. I’ll have to do that again!
This is one of my favorite black teas. When I think of black tea this is what I want simple slightly robust intoxicating smell. Soothes me all over! I can get 2 flavorful steeps easily and the third just doesn’t quite do it for me. I use 1 heaping tsp. for 8 oz steep at 208 for 3 min first infusion and 4 min for second infusion. I have tried making sinharaja in my beloved Breville but it just doesn’t work for me the flavor is just not there.
Another sipdown. I have 11 of these Golden Moon samples left. I actually tried to brew this one up last night, but the Lapsang Souchong was so strong that it tainted the strainer and messed up the first cup. I had to (literally) scrub the strainer in water as hot as I could stand with mild soap. I also had to get a new mug.
This one is certainly no “golden-green cup”—it’s goldish brown like a black tea would be. In the bag it almost smelled like the Lapsang, but luckily brewed up it smells like the gunpowder tea I’ve had before. Sadly the taste is too smoky for me. I don’t notice anything aside from the green, smoky flavor. It doesn’t change at all—there’s no layers, no aftertaste, nothing. Another disappointing cup.
ETA: It cooled down by about 10 degrees and now it is so incredibly bitter I can’t drink it! Ugh. I didn’t oversteep, either.
Sipdown! (122) I’m on a roll with trying new things and with sipdowns today so I’m going to try and do some more of both. I made a pot of this and split it with mom, as usual with anything I have in a three-cup quantity. Luckily the samples of Golden Moon’s blacks are less of a one-cup thing and more of a “try a cup and then try another and another.”
The taste isn’t bad, it’s just not as good as I’d expect from this company. It kind of reminds me of a marshmallow flavor more than a true vanilla, and it’s weak and thin-tasting. It might be better overleafed, but I’m out of leaf so I can’t do that. Oh, well. If you want a taste like this I’d go with one of Della Terra’s marshmallow blends instead.
ETA: With milk added the marshmallow taste is even more intense. It’s like I melted down a few into a cup of hot water. Not impressed with this.
Sipdown technically, although I am going to try and resteep this time. (123) When I like something enough to have two cups in a row (or two cups in a day, period), it’s something special. This time I overleafed and put some milk in—lemon in EGs isn’t my favorite, but I do like them with milk.
This one holds up to milk well—it brings out the bergamot more and blends with the lavender to make the whole cup more smooth. Very nice!