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Recent Tasting Notes
From Dark Matter 2016:
Near boiling water, gaiwan, rinsed once, steeped starting at 5 seconds and increasing.
I love the large leaves on this. I grabbed one out that was longer than my pinky. The tea brews to shades of dark dusky amber never getting truely dark. I found the flavor to be rather subtle, not in a bad way just not what I was expecting. It stated with a bit of briney flavor and a few steeps in had a nice earthy funk. Got some woody and mineral flavors in later steeps and some sweetness at the end. Pretty refined for something with both “Tibetan” and “Hei Cha” in the name.
Flavors: Earth, Marine, Wood
From Dark Matter 2016
I wanted to write a second review on this tea because I’ve spent the past two days drinking it (approximately 25 cups). As I mentioned in the previous review, this tea didn’t come to life until the fifth steep, with the help of increased water temperature/longer steep times (15s, 30s, 45s, 50s, 60s, etc). Once the tea was able to open up, though, it was so complex and delicious. It had that nice deep earth flavor that I enjoy in a ripe. A bit of a wet moss, “dirt,” slight mushroom, wood, and various minerals on the tongue. I rated it too soon before I was able to really hit the tea much harder than I had. Overall, I’m impressed, and will probably add this to my increasing wishlist.
Side Note: Finally finished with the first half of school….It only took 5 years…Anyway, I have two semesters left until I completed the History/English part of it all. However, considering that I am hopefully going to get my MA at UNC in the next two years, I wanted to start working on my entry level “Historical Account” of an era that most suits my interests; therefore, I’m researching topics about the American Civil War and 20th century. Just so that you’re aware, I LOVE writing research papers…So, there’s the most recent update in my life.
Flavors: Earth, Mineral, Mushrooms, Wet Moss, Wood
Dark Matter 2016
Pretty good. Deep Earth. Really picked up after steep 5 (increased temperature to near boiling, longer steeps at 20 seconds). 80/100.
PS. Got pretty tea drunk.
From Dark Matter 2016
1st steep: Very rich chocolaty notes, with a hint of floral undertones. The mouthfeel is slightly drying. These flavors linger on the tongue whilst brewing a second cup.
2nd steep: There seems to be a honey note to the second infusion. A little bit of malt and hay as well. Still sweet, though.
3rd, 4th, and 5th steep: On the go…I’ll add a comment later…..
Note: My mother’s cousin passed away this week (Thursday). I didn’t know him that well, but my mother is taking it kind of hard, since they were close and he was the same age as my dad. The tea is mostly for the drive there…Anyway, sad day.
Flavors: Chocolate, Floral, Honey, Malt
I like heicha on cloudy days, so the weather told me that it’s time to drink this tea. The brick is lightly compressed consisting of brittle twigs and black leaves. The little guy had a fragrant aroma of dry mahogany, slight grassy tones, and some musk in the background. I warmed up my gaiwan and placed a chunk inside. The scent deepened to a wet forest moss, some tobacco, and a sweet raisin undertone. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The taste began as very sweet with some light spiciness, A heavy wood base lifted these flavors up and crafted a soothing heavy brew. The brew became slightly more sweet and an underlying roasted tone became apparent in later steeping. This tea was a very easy drinker, but it lacked any complexity or deep character. The brew finishes with a quick drop off to mineral tones alike copper, iron, and dry stone. The drink in it’s red liquor form and metallic taste reminded me a little of blood… Anyways, hahah, it was a good drinker, and for the right price I could see it as a nice rainy day brew; however, I’ll learn next time to not push the tea so far into the vampiric territory.
Flavors: Dark Wood, Metallic, Mineral, Raisins, Roasted, Sweet, Tobacco, Wet Moss
From Dark Matter 2016:
Brewed this western style, boiling water, 3 min in a ceramic mug. First off this tea smelled Chocolatey amazing. In the past I tried finding ways to make rich dark hot chocolate by melting dark chocolate squares into hot water. This was how this tasted without the greasy mouthfeel, unmelted clumps, or watery flavor. It had a bit of malty sweetness and lingering full mouth flavor. I steeped again for 4 minutes and it was now brighter with a bit if astringency more like “regular” black tea. A third infusion was similar but lighter.
I wished there was more staying power to this tea, but I enjoyed this so much I looked on Life in teacup to see how much it would set me back, but I didn’t see it listed. Anyone know if it will be available?
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt
With around 6g of beautiful chocolate chunk, a 150ml celadon gaiwan with boiling temperatures, one quick rinse and 10-15s infusions counting up for about a dozen times before one last 2m steep of happiness. This is such a smooth hei cha with a milky mouthfeel and enough cha qi to push you right into happy town. Beautiful large leaf and a dark orange liquor and sweet bamboo flavor notes. Great tingling sensation on the tongue. Traditional methods often add dairy and sugar or salt but personally I love this just the way it is. One of my favorites from Dark Matter 2016.
Another tea from the Dark Matter 2016 group buy. 5g , 150ml celadon gaiwan, various times and temps to bring out the entirety of the leaf. Beautiful sweet floral aromatic dry leaf and honey when wet. Too subtle with 15-20s short infusions and slight bitterness when moving into 45s. Enjoyable around 35s with just under boiling temps. This reminded me of a mellow bug bitten honey oolong. Fades quickly with multiple infusions. Beautiful large leaf both wet and dry. Love the aromatics just wish the flavor was as heavy. Still enjoyable but would probably continue to experiment with parameters.
I gong fu’d the last of this sample into a very creamy Yunnan malt cup. The qi was in the first two steeps-15 sec and 30 sec. I also got a little bit of the allusive chocolate note that I constantly obsess over, and later got more hay, but very LIGHT hay. Five cups in total, the later two kinda weak. Overall, light, smooth, malty, and creamy. Really good, but the later cups could have been stronger for me. Maybe if I adjusted the temperature higher in the later steeps I would have gained better results. I normally do anyway.
I would not mind having this again, but I would not reach out to get it only because I’ve had some Yunnan’s I prefer…and oolongs are my world and oolongs typically=$$$. I may, however, say hi to this sweet in the future.
I was surprised that this tea needed to be brewed Western style. I also need to try it again to really pay attention. I can say a few things, however. Malt predominated the cup, but a smooth caramelized malt with hints of a few other notes. It was fairly usual for a Yunnan Black, but the caffeine effect or really the qi was not. I’ve never been more alert from a black tea before. No jitters were felt. No head pressure endured.
I will write more about this tea, but for now, I’ll say thank you again to Whiteantlers. Now I need to divy up my tea and distribute it.
Oh Shit! This is Really damn good!
Malty,chocolatey with notes of dried fruit and hay, maybe even some honey notes in there and a slight caramel note comes through after a few steeps. Very smooth and kinda velvety, very delicious, No astringency or bitter at all. Severals very bold strong steeps, it just didn’t seem to want to play out, lost count of how many steeps because I was watching daredevil on Netflix.
A wonderful tea, Perfect for the Dark Matter.
I’m really enjoying this one, Thank You.
Flavors: Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Hay, Honey, Malt, Smooth
My 3rd tea from 2016 Dark Matter. After seeing no real reviews except for LP’s raving, I decided to give this one a go as it had caught my eye from the moment I first saw “Pine Needle”. Forgive my still-developing pallet if I can’t do it justice with my description:“That’s an odd name,” I thought, but the taste is a far cry from anything pine. It has a nice, creamy mouth-feel and it goes down silky smooth. I heard of all these chocolate flavors and smells in other reviews on other teas but I had never experienced one until now. There’s a definite, strong dark chocolate smell to the tea that was so surprising I had to ask my girlfriend to smell the lid of my gaiwan to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating it. The malt and hay flavors are present throughout and compliment the chocolaty flavors nicely. It ends light and sweet and left a chocolate covered cherry smell in my little 50ml cup. I lost track but got almost 10 solid steeps out of it as far as I can figure. This is my favorite of the 2016 Dark Matter so far and I will inevitably buy more when I can find it on the Life in a Teacup website (halp?). It’s just that good.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Hay, Malt
This is the second tea I’ve tried from the dark matter group buy!
I’m sad that this tea has an under-eighties average, because I think it deserves better than that. Hopefully the average will rise as it gets more reviews. I like it. It has a light, refined, sweetish flavor and is still distinctly post-fermented. I have no idea if I steeped it correctly or not, of course. I just used almost-boiling water, watched the leaves unfurl for a minute or two, then decided it was time to drink it, lol.
Hiya! Puerh Noob reporting in.. but in this case it should be Hei Cha Noob :P This is the first tea I chose to try from LP’s Dark Matter Group buy. It’s also my first Hei Cha! Whee! Excited and a little scared with not knowing what to expect other than it’s different from puerh.
7 or 8 steeps in and I know I’m going to have to revisit this tea, originally I didn’t think the flavor changed to big extent, but upon further reflection as I stare into my tea cup making mouth smacking sounds… I have to accept that this tea has just been very sneakily morphing it’s flavor profile through the steeps. I’ve noticed the change in scent more than in the flavor of the tea.. but it’s there… yes it is…
Scent wise my first cup made me think of a light roasted oolong – last cups the scent is much more marine like (meh, me no likey marine stuff).
Sooo this tea sorta confounds me (in a good way.) The first taste that i get is like the scent of fresh lumber from a hardware store, which in my book isn’t bad.. after all I’ve been drinking and liking puerh that tastes like dark damp wood and earth. What has COMPLETELY distracted me from the aforementioned subtle flavor morphing is how I’m experiencing this tea…Sounds crazy but this is a fast tea… It hits with the fresh lumber flavor and bam that gone and I’m hit with a really high pitched sweet experience, like an artificial sweetener, but then that disappears and I’m left with a pretty clean palette and my mouth is left salivating for more.. W. T. F???
10/11 steeps in – yes, I’m floating and starting to visit the bathroom alot.. gah.. I want a bigger bladder installed?? And I’m getting lazy soo other points of interest for me:
Steep 3 – added milk, was pleasantly surprised, milk goes very nicely with this, I’d do it again if I were in a milky tea mood. (I’ve tried to add milk to some shu and not been successful with that.)
The marine flavor is definitely getting stronger and deepening the wood flavor, so the flavor starts as a darker wood, super sweet bam and then a very faint nori end flavor that morphs into a lingering sweet/savory feeling in the mouth that lasts quite a while.
This tea is making me think waaaaaaay too hard, I’ve tossed the leaves that I’ve used into a mason jar since I think they still have alot of flavor to them and Life In a Teacup mentions that Tibetans like to drink the brew the next day.. not sure if they drink it cold or hot, but I like cold tea so I’m going to try it. :)
I’ve found that puerh lets me eat onions and things I’m not supposed to eat, without having to take an antacid with my meals… crossing my fingers that hei cha will do the same thing for my digestion and that I won’t wake up in the middle of the night in pain. Yes, I’m willing to live dangerously and be a guinea pig test subject. Will edit this with my results.
Would I recommend this? I think this is interesting, so yes. Would I buy it… that I’m on the fence about, only because I’m not a fan of marine-ish notes in my tea, though somehow I find this works and it’s not over the top. Based on steeps 1-7 or so? I was definitely interested, it’s the later steeps that are making me think harder about wanting more. Thankfully I can have another session with the sample I have to better evaluate how I feel. :D
Flavors: Marine, Sweet, Wet Wood
This is my 3rd session with this tea. As it was described as “purely dry stored” by the vendor, I was nonplussed the first time I drank it, as it had an overwhelming damp basement flavor. Now that I’ve allowed it to air out for a few months, the dry leaf no longer has the musty scent it had when I obtained it. It is the oldest sheng I have found which is reasonably affordable, but I’m glad I didn’t buy more than a small sample.
I gave it two rinses of about 10 s each with boiling water.
Earthy, slightly sweet, somewhat astringent. Whatever bitterness might have been present when the tea was young is entirely gone, as are any vegetal notes in the lid scent. The damp basement taste and astringency become more pronounced with later infusions. A woody note and an almost ethereal mouthfeel emerge around the 5th steep. The dry cup scent is floral perfume, strongly reminiscent of the better grades of shu.
By the 8th steep there is a profound mouth-drying astringency and the dominant flavor is of wet stone with a faintly sweet aftertaste. While still a deep clear copper color, the soup is beginning to thin out. I’m giving up after about 14 infusions, though there is more damp stone and astringency still in the leaf.
Flavors: Wet Rocks, Wood
I’m pretty sure this is the black tea I reviewed a few days ago after much deliberation by my fellow steepster friends. And the description just fits from the other tasting notes.
Here’s the review that belongs here:
“Whiteantlers, the Red (Black) Tie Guan Yin you sent me is fantastic. The dry leaf reminded me of a Laoshan Black. The leaves themselves were black strings tipped by gold. This is exactly the type of Black Tea I prefer. 30 sec, then 55 sec, 1 min 15, 3 min, and 5 min. First, I get cocoa, malt, thickness, berries, jam, and a little bit of astringency. Second, more jam and cocoa. Third a leathery quality comes out with the berry jam. The same can be said of the fourth. The fifth just has light berry jam and cocoa in light water. This is good. Really good. Thank you so much!”
I am happy to repeat this review again and this tea is incredible for today’s lovely Easter afternoon.
Flavors: Astringent, Berries, Chocolate, Cocoa, Creamy, Jam, Malt, Thick
Dark Matter 2016, taste test
I bought over $40 of samples from Life in Teacup and they were nice enough to just take my money and pick out what they thought would be best :)
I was constantly reminded of the ‘Pine Needle’ tea from Yunnan because it highly suggested from them. Currently it is not being sold online so I feel a little special to try it. At first I drank it at work on break and played with the leaf: https://www.instagram.com/p/BBqREXaRYOj/
I’m now drinking it at home and decided that there is no way I could leave this out of the 2nd group buy I have going on this year: Dark Matter. This tea absolutely wonderful. It’s not often you’ll hear me say such a thing about a Yunnan black tea because they are all malty and lovely. What sets this apart? The mouth feel lingers for over 30 seconds and the taste just hits your brain like ‘woah’. No complains from me. No doubt in my mind that this is going to cause people to go over to Life in Teacup after trying this when they get it :)
It’s surprising really how much of a difference 10°F can make in a cup of tea. At 185°F this tea was slightly sweet with only the barest hint of a floral note. The strong earthy flavor obscured any of the more complex notes I was expecting, leaving the tea tasting more like pu’erh than oolong. Increasing the water temperature only accentuated the deep earthy flavor of this tea. If I had started out with a blind sample prepared with boiling water I never would have guessed I was drinking oolong. I also found it fascinating that unlike fresh tea, this tea didn’t turn bitter or develop an astringency when I chose to use hotter water or an extended steeping time. The flavor only became deeper and more earthy, with a slight mineral note at the end.
You can read the full review on my blog:
Out of all the teas I could drink when I’m upset, I chose this one. This is one of the teas I bought a sample of for the next group buy; which I am going to make quite special because I’m going to arrange all the taste and quality by testing the products first.
So, the only time I’ve ever had a black TGY was from Verdant when they had the experimental oolongs they sent out for one of the monthly subscriptions. This one, in comparison, is lighter which helps bring out the life of the TGY in it. I brewed this one with 90c instead of 100c because I wanted to pull out the subtle notes; such as floral and sweetness. Thankfully it worked out :)
This tea rebrewed over six times and probably could go more, but I moved on to sheng which had me switch.
Overall: This is a surprising tea with lots of sweet notes at the end of the taste while still having the upfront black tea taste and smell. The look of the leaf isn’t rolled/balled which was odd, but as a black tea I suppose it makes sense. This is something that I will be comparing to three other products that in the same category (it’s actually number 2) and right now I’m unsure of which of the two takes the spot… I’ve got a few months to figure this out :)
This is an inexpensive shou that Life in Teacup is selling at $1/15 g. sample in order to introduce pu’erh to the public. Toward that end, the name is appropriate and kind of cool and made me interested in trying it.
The tea itself is…not that exciting. It’s similar to other inexpensive shous I’ve tried that are advertised as “easy to drink” teas for new pu’erh drinkers. It smells and tastes overwhelmingly like hay, making me feel like I’m on a hayride or in a horse barn. This doesn’t appeal to me. I think whenever I get through the pu’erh samples I currently have on hand, I’ll go for slightly better quality than I have so far. Increasing each steep by 15 seconds, you get tons of hay tea infusions, which is… Bleh. The complexity I’m told pu’erh brings to the tea world is conspicuously absent. I guess it’s true that it’s easy to drink in the sense that it’s mild and doesn’t have any particularly offensive flavors. Just not exciting.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the sample from Life in Teacup. They’re a cool company to order samples from. I think I just bought this one sample for $1.00 and and paid shipping, and they shipped me 3 oolong tea samples (which were really what I wanted in the order). I would not recommend or buy this. I’m thinking my strategy of starting out on communist tea is a bit misguided — next time I shop for pu’erh, I’ll go for middle-range prices and higher quality.
I don’t know that I’d say I recommend it per se. It’s certainly worth the dollar charge that got me all the other free samples. I wouldn’t advocate buying more than the sample size though.
Sipdown no. 191. A sample, and the last Life in Teacup oolong sample. (Sniff.)
At least they went out with a bang. The leaves smelled grassy green in the packet but did some amazing things after steeping. I steeped this in the gaiwan starting with 15 seconds and increasing in 5 second increments.
1. Pale yellow tea with a milky, floral scent. Flavor is light, more floral/grassy than vegetal, something that initially presents with a slightly bitter edge but quickly smooths into a sort of green nutty flavor like chestnuts.
The cup smells very fragrant, a distinctive floral smell. I’m guessing this is why it is called osmanthus.
2. Same color, similar aroma but deeper. Flavor is fascinating. Starts as green floral and ends as green nuts. Along the way it morphs into various things too fleeting to pin down and describe. Really wonderful and, dare I say, fun.
By the end of the second steep, the leaves have almost tripled in volume.
3. Greener color. Nectar in the aroma! Nuttiness is forefront in the flavor now with floral afterwards, but the nuttiness returns in the aftertaste, light and raw and reminds me of Brazil nuts.
4. Greener again, nectar has become milder. Flavor similar to 3.
5. Similar to 4 but the nuttiness is now milder and the floral aroma/flavor is much more noticeable.
Aftertaste is sweet and fresh for a while after drinking.
Flavors: Chestnut, Floral, Green, Milk, Nectar, Nutty, Osmanthus