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Recent Tasting Notes
Oh Bother, somehow I drank the whole tea without ever logging it – but I can’t remove it from my cupboard without leaving some sort of a record of it. I remember this as being a floral, pleasant oolong. It seemed to be a good daily tea, one that I looked forward to drinking, but the taste never overwhelmed what I was doing enough to incite me to write about it. Sometimes those kinds of teas are good. We all need them in our cupboard.
Unfortunately, I opened the container to realize I only had a few leaves left, so tried to make the most of it. I probably should have just brewed a 1/2 or 1/4 cup, but I wanted to make it last and so made a full cup. It turned out sort of watery and flavorless… I remember it being a nice, woody oolong, but that didn’t really come out today.
The loss of the container from my tea cupboard made it seem alarmingly diminished, so I’m relieved that I just placed a small order with Harney and Sons. More on that soon! (hopefully)
For whatever reason, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Pu-erh – but I often wish that some tea or person would come around and change that opinion for me.
This tea tastes nice, but only in the way that you would call a person who has no other defining traits ‘nice’. It does have that classic dirty, woody, pu-erh flavor that I actually do enjoy, but it lacks any sort of bitterness or astringency, which I feel that I need in order to to truly enjoy my cup. Pu-erh connoisseurs would doubtless taste more complexity in this well-rounded tea, so don’t take my rating seriously when deciding whether to purchase.
I know that my life is coming together again (after a cross-country move and starting a new job) because I’ve finally gotten to brew my first cups of tea in my new home. Nothing makes one realize that life is going to be OK like a lovely, bracing cup of oolong. I can see myself sitting here, relaxing, and enjoying many future cups of tea in a way that I haven’t been able to up till now.
Additionally, I have finally gathered up all of my tea things that had been scattered across the country and now have a designated oolong tea pot, which just makes life feel organized and deliberate.
So after a month long stay in San Diego, I visited my favorite tea shop in the area and stocked myself with several of their teas. After going through the eye opening experience that was my last matcha, I decided to give this one a try. I wasn’t really expecting much, as the description is very clear that this is an everyday grade, but I still enjoyed this one.
Aroma is very faint, almost non-existent, unless you smell the can up close. The powder is lightly coarse with a bright lime green color.
Usucha style (thin).
I used 4 oz of water, 2 scoops, 180F water and thoroughly whisked.
While the website description asks for 2 scoops per 2 oz of water, the label in the can says 1 scoop per 2 oz of water, so I decided to follow the directions in the can. I’ll post an update using the guidelines from the website.
>Taste and Color
Foam is bright lime green, liquid a deep dark green.
Taste-wise, the tea was very light with very subtle grassy/vegetal notes and not a hint of bitterness.
Pretty much the description by Halcyon is spot on. While not a mind blowing experience, it’s definitely better than the usual offerings at the Japanese markets. This is a matcha that tastes good on its own and I bet it’ll make better lattes than the store bought ones.
*NOTE: Most of the teas I recently got from Halcyon(including this one) have been de-listed from their website. I don’t know if they are temporarily out of stock of them or are giving way for new tea.
Second Steep 1tbs, 6oz
Cup: Similar to first steep, a little more on the redish side
Scent: Very woody again, but definitely picking up something darker, maybe a chocolate or burnt carmel smell.
Flavor: Still woody, but quite a bit sweeter. Getting some more background tones too, something nutty and dark. Much less astringency now that I’ve brewed it more precisely.
First Steep 1 tbs, 6.5 oz
Cup: Deep brown color with redish tones – very clear.
Scent: Definitely woody with carmel and floral notes.
Flavor: This is a fairly bold tea, well rounded, but with a hint of bitterness and astringency (which I appreciate). I just love the flavor of this tea – I can’t quite describe what it is about it. The word ‘woody’ keeps coming to mind, but doesn’t sound nearly as appetizing as a word as it is in this tea. Perhaps a word I’ve heard people on steepster use would fit: toasty.
Final Thoughts: An excellent tea, one I keep returning to time and again. I wish I had the flavor vocabulary to do it justice.
Next Time: I got so excited about the tasting note that I forgot to time it precisely!
3rd Steep: 1 tbs, 5.5 oz
Cup: Very Light, much more yellow
Scent: much lighter as well, a little grassy
Flavor: Getting ever so slightly astringent, less of the nutty flavors and a little more strongly green. Still very ‘buttery’.
Final thoughts: I don’t think this tea is going to go much further than the 3rd steep. Perhaps if I had put 5 oz of water in each time, I might’ve been able to brew a 4th.
2nd steep: 1 tbs, 6 oz, 1 minute
Cup: Much more green than first steep, very clear.
Scent: Still grassy and musty, grass scent perhaps a little stronger.
Flavor: Less water is definitely a way to go, this second steep tastes much fuller. Still getting a lot of the buttery, tongue coating flavor; less of the nutty flavors. This steep tastes sweeter than the first one, and has a more floral aftertaste.
Final Thoughts: Much better with less water – I am going to start steeping teas with my OXO food scale. It won’t be able to register the tea, but I will at least get a precise amount of water. Also, this tea has an unexpected amount of caffeine – getting a little tea drunk after only two steepings.
Next Time: Still needs less water for this amount of tea, but getting closer.
Cup: a very light yellow/green
Scent: mild, very grassy as one would expect from a young tea, but with a very earthy, almost dirty undertone.
Flavor: First thoughts – mild, not at all astringent. Very mellow for having such a grassy smell. Not quite getting the ‘buttery’ flavor I was told to expect, but the ‘nutty’ is definitely coming through. I’ve never wanted to describe a tea as buttery before, but I’ve been pondering what that might taste like as I sip. I think I’m starting to taste it now – it is an exceptionally smooth flavor that comes through after the tea is swallowed, almost like a coating on the tongue.
Final thoughts: As a person who prefers a little astringency and bitterness, this first steeping is far too mellow to be my ideal tea, but I can still appreciate its quality. If you like a well-rounded cup, this would be a perfect fit for you.
Next time: I think I’d like this better with a bit more tea and less water. This time I did about 1 TBS for 8 oz, but I’d like to try 1 TBS for 5 oz.
First of all, let me preface this tasting note by saying that I’m not the biggest fan of pu-erh. I do enjoy it, but it always seems too rounded and mellow for me. For some reason, I prefer dark, astringent, and even bitter teas. This was one of the best pu-erhs I’ve tried, however.
Flavor: A sweet, rounded, well balanced cup.
Color: A beautiful amber color – very thick. After several steepings, it appears lighter and very red.
Scent: Definite earthy, musty notes. Reminds me of an old coniferous forest after a long rain.
I’m about to run out of this tea and I noticed Halcyon tea is also out of 2011’s batch (I’m excited for the 2012 crop, hopefully it’ll be as good or better than last year’s). Anyways, I decided to give this tea a proper review.
This tea is made of twisted dark brown leaves with a subtle charcoal-like aroma.
I prepared this tea following Halcyon’s directions, using a Gaiwan, 195F water, and 1.5 min to 3.5 min steep time.
My first cup had a nice clear amber color with a toasty coconut aroma mixed with sweet sugary hint, similar to the smell of a bag of mixed sun dried fruits. The tea was subtly toasty with a mixture of several notes and flavors. It was slightly sweet, with hints of fruit, coconut, and a nice fresh aftertaste. After having a few sips of this tea, it left my mouth with a slightly dry sensation mixed with a freshness in my breath, just as if you had a bite of fresh fruit (grapes come to mind). My second was more of the same, no noticeable changes. Third cup I noticed a slight loss of flavor, coconut hint was gone, but the aftertaste was still there. In the 4th and 5th cup I increased the brew time from 1.5 min to 2.5 min. Still, flavor was weaker than in the first two infusions. The toastiness of the tea increased, most of the fruity flavors were weaker, and aftertaste was not as intense. I did feel a slightly chocolate hint in this cup similar to a mild dark chocolate. The fifth cup did not have the chocolate notes though, flavors by now were really subtle, but still enjoyable. By the sixth cup (this time steeping it for 3.5 min) the tea had a yellowish brown color, no aroma, and very faint flavors. After the 6th cup I decided not to re-brew.
The wet leaf now had a dark brownish green color to it and was made of well preserved leaves mixed with few broken pieces.
Overall, I really love this tea. I appreciate it a lot for its unique broad complexity of flavors and aromas. Honestly this is one of the hardest tea to describe, so many flavors and aromas that I don’t know what it reminds me of, I just know that I love it. I also like the fact that it is not very toasty, the dry leaf makes you think it will have a strong overpowering burnt flavor, but it surprises you with subtle fruity flavors. Even though the tea did not last many infusions compared to other high quality oolongs, the first cups are so delicious that it makes me keep coming back for more. Definitely one of my favorite Oolongs.
Tasty white tea, but I do prefer the lighter kinds, such as silver needle. Nonetheless this carries a whole range of other flavors that someone may prefer over the more delicate white teas. This tea leaves you with a dark yellow color and has a heavy feeling in the mouth, carries a nutty/woody flavor, no astringency and just a hint of bitterness.
One of the finest peppermint teas I’ve ever tried. It has a very strong, delicious peppermint smell that delivers a fresh, sweet and minty flavor. It’s delicious hot, but I prefer it chilled on summer days for a very refreshing drink that doesn’t need any sugar to be tasty. I’d like to try it someday with a splash of mineral water and some fresh peppermint leaves.
First roasted Ti Kuan Yin I’ve ever had, I was pretty excited to try this tea to see how it compares to regular TKY’s.
The tea gives off a toasty sweet aroma, reminds me a bit of roasted honey. The dry leaf is made up of big curled up balls with a mix of dark brown and greenish brown color.
I prepared this tea using a gaiwan and following the suggested brewing guidelines of 195F water and 2 min steep time.
The first infusion gave me a light yellow-brownish cup with a sweet toasty aroma. The tea itself was light and creamy, very sweet, with a lightly roasted honey-like flavor, and some floral undertones. In the second cup, the honey like fragrance and flavor remained pretty much the same, with little or no change. From the third cup onwards, each subsequent brew became less flavorful than the one before. I steeped this tea until the 5th cup, where I got a non-aromatic tea with just hints of flavor.
The wet leaf was a mix of broken and unbroken leaves with a lot of dust. A dark green-brown color was revealed after many infusions. The leaves were also stiffer compared to regular Ti Kuan Yin’s.
Overall, this is a great tea with a nice flavor and subtle aroma. Perfect for chilly days. I didn’t know what to expect from a traditional roasted Ti Kuan Yin since I had never had one before. Still, I enjoyed the flavorful cup this tea brews compared to the more complex subtle flavors of regular TKY. I still prefer the greener variations of this tea though.
A nice everyday green tea.
The leaves are tightly compressed in to tiny pellets that have a shiny dark green exterior with a smoky earthy aroma. Unlike other gunpowders I’ve had, this one truly resembles real gunpowder due to the compactness and shiny exterior of the pellets. Other gunpowders I’ve seen are loosely curled up, sometimes even resembling an oolong.
I prepared this tea using a gaiwan and following the suggested brew time (1min) and water temp (175F).
This tea brews a brown-yellow cup with a faint earthy aroma. Unlike other green teas, this one tends to have a strong smoked green flavor with a hint of earthiness.
The wet leaf was made up of mostly small broken and unbroken leaves.
Overall this is a great everyday green tea. In terms of flavor, I’ve never thought much of gunpowders as I think they’re pretty average taste-wise. But, you can tell this batch is of pretty high quality, as the pellets are beautifully compressed.