JK Tea Shop
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Recent Tasting Notes
Another solid offering from Menghai. This one has a nice dark liquor with rich tones of raisin, and cocoa with a hint of bark. Not terrible complex, but a solid tea. Like most gong tings, this one only lasts 5 or so steepings before fading but they are some amazing 5 steepings! I’ve had this one several times now, and not too much cha qi to speak about but this one is a good one for the morning… a daily drinker type.
I lied! This is my last sample from Dinosara, teehee. She included this one as a freebie bonus sample, thanks dear! The leaves are long and twisty, and quite brittle. The color is dark chocolate brown. Dry scent is somewhat sweet with a fruit element. I did my usual “black tea” 3 minute steep at 200 degrees.
The brewed aroma has very strong honey notes, yum! There’s also a bit of malt and some fruitiness there. Hmm… I’m unsure what to say about the taste. My first thought it “this tastes like black tea”. It reminds me of plain ol’ unsweetened iced tea, and I’m not really sure how to describe that flavor other than just “black tea”. There’s a little bit of a grain element and a touch of honey comes out in the aftertaste, but for the most part it’s tea. I’m not sure if I’m missing something, but this one is not impressive to me. :P
Flavors: Grain, Honey, Malt
This review is for the 2014 version. This tea has a sweet aftertaste, and a unique aroma. No dryness could be felt when brewed right. Its taste evolves nicely over steepings, and in the 2nd steep I got a really nice thick mouthfeel from it. This tea lasts for many steepings (at least 8 steepings the way I brew it).
Brewing parameters: I used about 4.5g of leaves in 125ml gaiwan. 95c for the 1st and 2nd steepings, and 90c for the rest steepings. brewing times: rinse/15s/15s/15s/20s/25s/35s and so on..
This is a special tea, still in its infancy. It has a wonderful rich smooth flavor profile with a unique characteristic of significantly different taste depending on the temperature of the steeped tea. Brewed the traditional gong fu style with 212 degree water, this tea flavor changes as it cools. The initial hot liquor is smooth with high tones of soft bark and cane sugar. At first I though that this tea really doesn’t have much taste, but as the tea cools complexities come out and the tea becomes more rich and sweet with subtle spice notes.
JK Tea Shop describes this tea as “connoisseur pu er” and the price certainly reflects it. I purchased a cake in May of 2013 for $115 and as of this posting the price has sky rocketed to $450! I have not opened my cake and have not tried this tea since I finished the sample I bought prior to purchasing. This is a tea for long term storage for me that I will gratefully savor at some special occasion in the distant future. This is a special tea for sure!
This is an excellent example of an “earthy” pu erh. The flavor is that of deep woods, moss, birch, but with a surprising smooth character that lends to easy drinking. This is probably one of those polarizing teas, either love it or hate it but for those that enjoy the earthy flavor of ripe pu erh tea, this one is excellent. I don’t quite like it as much as the 2010 yongede golden buds loose leaf, but the golden buds appears to be sold out at JK and only this available last I checked. This is part of my daily drinking rotation of ripe pu erh teas. I also find it does well to sooth the stomach after a heavy meal.
Flavors: Dark Wood, Earth, Moss
Sip down of one of my favorites. I checked my records and I ordered this cake a little over a year ago. I’m surprised it lasted this long! I simply love this one, one of my favorite shou pu erh’s. To me it’s right up there with the 2007 golden needle white lotus I have, at considerable less cost. Smooth, smooth, warm, comforting, delicious! It’s sad to see this one leave my daily rotation, but I already have another one in storage. I am grateful to have had this tea over this past year. :)
One of my favorite Dayi teas! Smooth and mellow with big body, not too earthy. This is a well balanced shou pu er, perfect to introduce someone to pu er for the first time. I’ve read that at one time this was the highest quality tea they would export over seas. Back in the day, if the was the best you could get, you were still savoring some delicious tea! Good cha qi too, this is one of my favorites!
This tea is very delicate in taste. It is a refreshing tea.
The tea is also very beautiful. The leaves are all one bud and exactly the same shape and size. It is a very nice looking tea.
If you like very delicate teas, you might want to try this one.
For me personally, this tea is a bit too light, but I am glad that I purchased this tea, because it is such a beautiful looking tea. It is very unlike any other tea that I have so far encountered.
I haven’t had that many Phoenix Dancong teas before, but I never really was that fond of them until I purchased this sample.
When I was about to place my order, I figured I could add some cheap samples to try out. I am glad I did.
The first brewed cup had quite a smokey flavor and a slight fruity flavor in the background.
The second cup had very little smokeyness and was a lot more fruity than the first cup I brewed.
The third cup was very similar to the second cup I brewed, but a bit lighter, in a good way.
The fourth cup was worth brewing, but not that special tasting. Most of the sweetness had subsided and there was a vague fruity aroma left, but still an enjoyable cup.
I only used 2,5 grams and steeped the tea for 1:00, second 1:30, third 2:00 and fourth cup for 3:00.
I will definitely buy some more of this tea and also try out different varieties of Phoenix Dancong tea.
I took this sample to New York to share with my father and cousin. It was a little bit confusing identifying which tea this was, as the name on the bag isn’t the same as the name on the website. I had to go into my order history to make sure which tea this was. I don’t have too much to say about this. I brewed it very strong, because my family is used to drinking very strong bagged black teas. It probably would have done much better with less leaf and a shorter steep time. It was very good anyhow, and I might even be making some progress in converting my father from drinking Barry’s to a loose leaf tea. This one was a pretty typical Lapsang with notes of sweet potato, malt, and chocolate.
Finishing off my sample of this tea. I enjoy this tea pretty well, but a white tea has to be exceptional for me to really crave it, and this one doesn’t really fit that category. It’s a pretty standard Fuding silver needle, and I do enjoy those a bit more than some others. But this one doesn’t really have the sweet marshmallowyness that they can sometimes get, so it doesn’t really find a place in my cupboard.
Second gongfu session of the day. I ordered a sample of this tea because I really enjoy Verdant’s reserve Fuding white tea, and thought I would check this one out.
I would say that although this one doesn’t really approach the quality of Verdant’s, it’s a decent tea. Not quite sweet, but with allusions to the marshmallow notes I was hoping for. A bit of hay, a tiny floral note. I’m fairly picky about white teas (in that I’m not huge on white teas so one has to be really impressive or unique to win me over), so I’m glad I have just a sample of this one, but it won’t be too hard to finish it.
After having a gongfu session of this on today, I have to give it a big meh. For my tastes, it doesn’t hit all the buttons that I want in an unflavored black tea.
However, if you like Yunnan blacks, and robust teas, you may like this one. It’s a Yunnan that edges toward an Assam in overall robustness (though with a distinctly Yunnan flavor)
Even though I’m not the biggest on yunnan blacks, I ordered a sample of this tea from JK because I do like some (particularly Fengqing, like the black pearls) and I once read someone who drinks a lot of gongfu black tea said it was their favorite black tea. Since I was able to get a sample, I thought I’d give it a try. First trial western steeped, and I’ll do a gongfu session with it at some point.
Well it smells like a yunnan. A bit potatoey, a bit hay-ish. Not quite honeyed, not quite cocoa. The first sips are kind of bitter, but as I drink more the main body of the sip becomes sweeter. The bitterness creeps back in the aftertaste, but it is light. I may try this with less leaf, or less time. The flavor is more like an unrolled black pearl that the steeped tea initially smelled like. This cup is a bit “robust” for me, but otherwise I am relatively pleased with this tea.
I am supposed to be reviewing teas more regularly because I am officially within 10 tasting notes of 2000 notes. I should be able to do that before I leave for Europe in a week!
I couldn’t remember how I usually steeped this one, so I guessed, and it came out SO GOOD. Gotta do it next time too. Very sweet and lovely. I don’t reach for this one often and it is finicky, but it can be awesome if you catch it in the right mood.
I’ve made my way back around to my order from JK tea shop, of which two of the teas are left. The first time I had this I wasn’t super impressed. I mean, I enjoyed it but it tasted mostly like a regular Taiwanese black tea (so, fruity and honeyed) but it didn’t have a lot to keep me interested and there was an edge of bitterness at the parameters I brewed it.
Today I dropped my steep temp; I seem to prefer most black teas at less than boiling anyway. And today this tea is really quite delicious. I’ve lost a lot of the “harsh” fruitiness, that overly fruity quality that I dislike. Instead it is sweet, honeyed, caramelly, and the grains come out way more. Last time I said it smelled like a cross between a Fujian and a Taiwanese black. At boiling, the flavor was all Taiwanese black, but at 195°F, those notes relax a bit and the Fujian makes itself known. There is still a bit of fruity Taiwanese black hanging out, though.
All in all, this is a way more interesting and way more delicious tea. Glad I made it with these parameters.
This is the only tea that I ordered from JK Tea Shop in larger than a sample size, namely because they didn’t have a sample size option. But I just had to try it, so 50g it is! A black tea made with Jinxuan cultivar? It sounded awesome.
The dry leaf is dark with some golden flecks. It’s not long and wiry, but not quite balled-up either. It smells awesome, like molasses and toasted grains (like molasses-based horse feed if you’ve smelled it… I say that and people think that sounds weird but that stuff actually smells amazing). Anyway, it’s definitely a smell that I enjoy, and one that many of my favorite black teas have.
I decided to do a western steep first, and my default black tea parameters since I’ve never had this type of tea before. The steeped tea smells sweet, a bit honeyed, with some dried apricot notes. It is not unlike some Taiwanese black teas that I have had before, though with a grain undertone. Like some kind of mix between a Taiwanese and Fujian black.
The flavor is sweet and a bit fruity. Definitely reminds me of a Taiwanese black, which I suppose isn’t that surprising considering it’s a jin xuan cultivar, even if it is being grown on the mainland. As it cools there is a hint of bitterness that is creeping out; I’ll have to mess around with the steeping parameters of this. Overall this is pretty nice but not overly special. There is not much to it that would make me choose it over a Taiwanese black.
Ok, after having my gongfu session with this tea today, I can say that I am kind of disappointed in it considering it is supposed to be very high grade.
So first off, the flavor is not very complex or interesting. I look for butteriness, florals, perhaps a hint of fruit, and fresh leafy flavor. The first couple of steeps (post rinse) were kind of bland and almost savory, which is just wrong in an oolong like this IMO. As it progressed I steeped a bit longer and got some florals to peek out, but the savoriness got stronger as well. Then the florals left and there was only spinach soup. When I steeped this western style I thought I had oversteeped it and masked the delicate flavors, but now I see there just weren’t really any delicate flavors to begin with.
Also, I pulled a few leaves out and they were not whole, but rather with raggedy edges and missing ends. No attached leaf-bud pairs, and no intact, non-shredded leaves. Yeah, not the quality I was expecting. Disappointing, but there are plenty of other TGYs in the sea.
Another JK Tea sample! I ordered this one because although I am totally satisfied with my TGY options from Teavivre and Verdant, I was curious. JK Tea Shop sells by a grade system from 1A–6A, 6A being the most expensive and high end. My sample has two vacuum-sealed packets, one of which I am using for western-style brewing now and the other I will use for gongfu.
Unsurprisingly, the dry leaf looks and smells lovely. Tight little balls of dark green shot with streaks of light green, smelling fresh, green, and floral. Steeped up, the florals recall lilacs, thick and heady. A slight vegetal note, and a hint of butter underneath.
I do wonder if my leaf to water ratio was too high this time. I feel like the cup is “too packed” with flavor—bordering on too vegetal—to allow the more delicate flavors to come out. For sure it is floral and very nice, but it’s not as buttery and sweet as Teavivre’s. Will be interested to see how this one comes out in gongfu. I also wish I could try their 6A autumn picking… perhaps another time!
Sipdown for this one. This was a very tasty Tan Yang, and I’m glad I tried it out. I will say that I don’t think that it’s necessarily spectacular; it’s quite delicious, obviously high quality, and I drank it up pretty quickly, but it doesn’t make me go WOW. It has nice grain flavor, molasses, honey, and a hint of raisin.
Overall my experience with JK Tea Shop has been that their teas are all really tasty and high quality, but nothing unique enough to drive me to order regularly from them. This Tan Yang has been my favorite, and would be a contender for a future order had anything else also caught my tastebuds. But I’m glad I’ve tried some of their teas now! I was always curious about them.
A day for penultimate cups. Pretty much everything has one cup left after the one I am drinking, including this one. I still have to try this one back to back with my Tan Yang that I brought back from Beijing, so I guess I will be doing that next time I have it! This is nice; sweet, malty, honeyed, grainy. This time I used a bit more tea in my cup and I was afraid it might come out too strong, but it was quite delicious. Certainly a high quality tan yang.
I drank this one yesterday but didn’t log it. I still think I need to drink this one back to back with my Beijing tan yang to properly evaluate it. It’s a really tasty tan yang, it hits what I normally expect from a tan yang. Wish I had some of Harney’s Panyang Golden Tips to compare as well! So this is a lame placeholder tasting note to basically say that I did drink it in my chronology.
So! Finally healthy enough that I feel like trying some of my new teas. I ordered from JK Tea Shop around Black Friday because I have wanted to try them for a while, but the package came right before I left to travel for the holidays (much like my ATR order) so I haven’t tried anything from it. I’ve wanted to try JK Tea Shop for a while since they are a direct from China seller, and they offer some unique Chinese teas that you don’t find elsewhere. Fortunately they also sell 15g samples on most of their teas (something a lot of sellers in China do not do!). I ordered a number of black tea samples and a few others.
I am in love with the Tan Yang I brought back from China almost two years ago now (Yong Sheng), but I haven’t found another that I love as much to restock once I run out. There are some other good ones (Teavivre’s, Harney’s golden tips), but none that really replace my Maliandao purchase. I am brewing this one like I have brewed the others in the past as a first run.
The dry leaf is promising. Very golden, and smelling like sweet, rich, molasses-y grains. Steeped, the scent is similar… grainy, a bit sweet, and a bit of raisin or prune notes to it. The flavor is good but not strong enough; however, I think that’s a steeping parameters issue primarily. I will definitely use more tea next time. This one is pretty much different from all the other Tan Yangs I’ve tried so far, perhaps most similar to Harney’s, and somewhat reminiscent of Teavivre’s Bailin Gongfu. Fairly malty, leaving a light sweetness in the aftertaste, though lighter than some others (again this may be a steeping issue, however). Molasses notes, primarily, not quite caramel as in the Yong Sheng. More raisin than apricot. A bit of nuttiness (missing in others besides the Yong Sheng).
This is quite good. As for pricing, this is nearly identical to Teavivre’s (both being nearly half the price of Harney’s); unfortunately I don’t have any of Teavivre’s Tan Yang to try back to back with this one, although I will have to dig out my Yong Sheng soon. This one may be a slightly better match.