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Recent Tasting Notes
Earlier in the evening I really wanted to make something in my gaiwan, but I ended up with a rich latte instead. But the gaiwan bug wasn’t leaving, so I decided to just go for it! At 2:30 in the morning. Maybe no the brightest idea, but my packet of this from TeaEqualsBliss was calling out to me.
Rinse: 10 seconds. Okay, I know you are technically not supposed to drink this, but to heck with it! I tea how I want to! Yes, I just used tea as a verb. I was amazed at how fast the leaves unfurled. After a mere ten seconds in hot water they were fully expanded! And so pretty, all of them fully intact like they just fell off the tree into my cup. I almost overestimated the capacity of my little gaiwan, they’re right up to the lid.
This “steep” was like a punch of floral nectar, rich and thick like honey. Orchid and jasmine! Also a wee bit vegetal.
1st Steep: 20 seconds. This smells like vegetables, fresh buttered spinach. It’s still floral, orchid but now with a hint of lychee. Sweet, fruity.
2nd Steep: 20 seconds. Buttery! This steep has a creamy mouthfeel, not sweet but quite savory. I’m smelling kale! It’s less floral but still with the orchid element. More honey.
At this point I stopped, for some reason green oolongs (and ONLY green oolongs) have the tendency to make me a bit nauseous. I still love them, but 2 steeps + a rinse is my limit.
There’s such an interesting mix of sweet/savory here: butter, honey, spinach, flowers. It’s so complex, I saved my leaves and can’t wait to see what the next steeps bring tomorrow!
The initial aroma is rather strong, especially if you’re not used to lavender. However, I find that once steeped, the lavender settles down and doesn’t overtake the oolong’s natural notes, which is both surprising and pleasant. Quite relaxing for a late-night tea, as anything with pure lavender usually is.
What a wonderful tea! I had forgotten that I had this one. This has many roasted, bread like notes mixed with an almost herbaceous sweetness. There are also some underlying green notes that I really love. As an introduction to both dong ding oolongs and Naivetea in general, this is really wonderful.
This is another tea that I won recently! This is the first tea that I am trying from Naivetea. I’m having this after some popcorn (plain-ish) so hopefully that doesn’t interfere. This smells lovely dry. There is something about it that I can’t quite put my finger on; woodsy maybe?
I’m having a hard time letting this cool! It smells lovely; roasted and sweet. Wonderful! It is very roasty without too many malt tones. It has a sweet edge at the back of the sip. There are green notes midpoint in this that remind me of deep spinach. I really enjoyed this one!
Sipdown, 228. This is one that I have for some reason have had for a while but never got around to sipping down.
Oof, first sip was a little too hot… usually I am not so impatient but I wanted something to drink right away. I feel like there is something stuck in my esophagus low down and it won’t go away, but clearly there is not.
I enjoy this tea, even it if is on the roasty-toastier side of things. I don’t know why I am not a big fan of toastiness in tea, but it seems to be generally the case. Still, this one is toasty in such a way that it works for me, accompanied by a light sweetness. A pleasant afternoon tea.
I had one Dong Ding oolong and really liked it, so I asked for some samples of others and luckily Amy Oh sent me a sample of this one! I tend to love the teas from Naivetea, so I am definitely excited to try it.
This one smells way more toasty than the dong ding from thepuriTea. The roasted grains aroma reminds me of some of the darker oolongs I’ve tried. When I breath in deep I get a nice autumn leaves aroma. The flavor is not unexpected based on the aroma but not exactly what I was expecting based on thepuriTea’s. That one was basically unroasted, but perhaps it is unusual? In any case, I do enjoy it a lot. It’s a bit vegetal, nicely roasty, a tiny bit sweet.
Thanks so much for this sample, Amy, I’m glad I got to try it!
Dry Leaf Aroma: The dry leaf has a refreshing toasted wheat like kind of smell if that makes sense. There is another smell too but I can’t describe it but it is not a bad smell.
Wet Leaf Aroma: I get a toasted smell that has a sweet smell I almost associate it with honey with a woody under tone to it.
Liquor: Has like a amber type of color.
Taste: I get like a toasted flavor with a woody maybe even smoky flavor with like a honeyed sweetness.
My Score: This is a 94 This is the best Ti Guan Yin to date I have ever tasted. This one is pricey but she is good.
This is really a wonderful A Li Shan in my opinion…
It’s a bit floral-y but also very buttery, exceptionally creamy, smooth, rich. One taste of this and my mouth feels like it’s on vacation. I’m picking up some other things too, like a slight mango and perhaps a bit of vanilla. Not as light as some other A Li Shans I’ve had.
I seem to like this the best when it’s steeped at around 180F for 2 minutes but I would like to do some gong fu sessions with my remaining sample. If you’re looking for a good A Li Shan you might try this one. I would certainly buy this again. :)
Tea of the afternoon……
I decided it was time to go forth with another new oolong. I have had this from the second Steepster Box?, but am just getting to it now.
It is similar in mothfeel to other oolongs; It tastes thick. It really kind of reminds me of Genmaicha as there is a little bit of a toasted rice taste. But it has a sweeter finish than Genmaicha. Good, but I tend to prefer a more floral type oolong. We shall see what subsequent steepings bring to the table.
Steeped according to the label (even though I see better suggestions on the main page for this tea…will try that next time)…. 2 tsp tea in about 12 oz. filtered boiled water for 3 minutes. No additions.
This is not my first Wen Shan Bao Zhong, but it’s close to it. I had a pot of Harney’s at their tea room in Soho once, and I wanted to buy a couple of ounces of it, but alas they do not sell it by the ounce, only in a tin! Being told “no, we can’t sell you this tea in bulk even though we have it loose in bulk right here” discombobulated me so much that I didn’t even think to look at the tin, which is only 1.5oz anyway.
So my point is that I liked that one, but I haven’t tried any other since then. The dry leaf on this one smells lovely, with a nice floral oolongy aroma. Steeped, a much more buttery aroma shows up. The flavor is very pleasant; floral, vegetal, a bit buttery. There’s an ever so faint whisp of sweetness that shows up at the end of the sip. Really, a lovely cup.
I’m getting around to slowly finishing off and logging all of my Naivetea samples – I believe this is the last one?
My first steep I think I accidentally steeped this in water that was too hot. I got a very vegetal buttery cup but not quite what I was expecting…
For the second steep I tried to use water that was around 170 or 180 F. Now I am getting some of the more subtle notes I would be expecting from this tea. It is indeed very floral and delicate but I wish it had a bit more… oomph? It’s very relaxing and sweet however.
Third steep, I did let this one go on for about 2 minutes. I was hoping to get a bit more flavor out of this tea although that probably just killed it… lol
This is lovely but I’m not finding a way to make it work for me today. I wish I had more at home to play around with, but alas…
Sample stashbusting! I am steeping the remainder of my sample of this oolong gong fu style, in my ru teapot. I am basically steeping by the included instructions for this tea, with the exception that I did a rinse to “wake up” the leaves and I only did my first steep for 30 seconds instead of 50.
The resulting tea smells pretty different than I remember my western-style steeping of it. It’s way more vegetal, and even a little salty, like the smell of the ocean. I was just at the beach yesterday so it smells very familiar to me. And more buttery as well, which I think goes with the saltiness a bit. There are pretty much no florals in the aroma of this first steep. The taste is strong and vegetal… perhaps 30 seconds was even still too long for the amount of leaf I used (a little more than their recommended amount at a bit more than a Tablespoon for my 6oz teapot, but it seemed like a good amount). But there’s also a touch of sweetness and even a tiny hint of the oolongy florals. This steep is also a bit astringent in that way that green oolongs get, but moreso because of the slight oversteep, I think.
Second steep, following their instructions, 40 seconds. This steep smells way more floral and buttery. Still very fresh, but with a hint of that honeyed sweetness. The taste of this one is weird… almost perfumy in it’s florals, and just about none of the sweetness its aroma promises. At this point I’m wondering if I just don’t know how to steep gong fu style properly. I mean, I’ve watched people do it plenty of times and know the routine, so I don’t know what the deal is now.
Third steep, 50 seconds. This steep smells a lot like the last steep. Pretty much tastes like it, too, though as it cools it is not quite as perfumy and a little sweeter. Still there is something a little unpleasant about it.
The fourth steep, at 60 seconds, brings out some melon flavors that are really interesting! This steep is possibly the sweetest, but sometimes I can’t tell if it’s more of a sweetness that has built up over all the steeps. I think the note that is both perfumy and vegetal from before must be inherant to this tea because it is not going away. It’s just not something I tasted when I brewed this western style, and not something others have noted, so I feel like it’s somehow a fault with my steeping.
Fifth steep, 70 seconds, and this oolong is really hitting its stride now. Sweet, a bit fruity, floral without being perfumy. This is by far my favorite steep so far. It’s amazing how much a tea can change over the steeps! Sixth steep, at 90 seconds, is almost identical to the fifth steep, as is the seventh steep, at 2 minutes, all sweet and floral and fruity. It’s not really buttery or creamy at all, but it is very nice. I’m glad I stuck with it to this point, because I wasn’t really feeling the earlier steeps at all. This was a good lesson in how a tea can change a lot over gong fu steeping, which I hadn’t experienced at all before this. I am interested to try all kinds of teas this way now!
I think this may actually be the last un-tested tea of my high-altitude sample pack from Naivetea. Woah, progress! This has been great because I feel like I know a little more about different types of green oolongs, though I have a ton more to learn. My goal is to have a decent sense of the most popular types of green oolong and which ones I like most before I go to China in late March, knowing that when I get there I will likely be overwhelmed in varieties I’ve never heard of. :)
The dry leaf smells green and vegetal and a hint floral. Steeped, the florals come out more and are joined by a light creamy/buttery aroma. The flavor is a nice balanced between fresh green leafy notes and soft florals. There is the slightest hint of sweetness toward the end of the sip which gets stronger as the tea cools. There is maybe the slightest hint of butteriness in the flavor, but this is really a much more fresh, green floral tea than some others.
I do admit that it’s difficult for me to keep all these Li Shan/A Li Shan/Shan Lin Shi green oolongs separate in my mind! They are all very tasty but none of them has really stuck out as spectacular to me. Maybe I’m a more of a Tieguanyin kind of girl. :) I have some others to try from thepuriTea, so my oolong journey is far from over.
This is the last of my infused oolong sampler from Naivetea that I have yet to try, though I do have a few of the high-mountain ones left. I put this one off at first because I remembered not being totally taken with the aroma of the dry leaf, but then when I just smelled it now the scent was a strong, lovely floral. I’m not super familiar with osmanthus as a flower, though I’ve had a few different osmanthus oolongs that I believe I’ve enjoyed. I feel like they all taste pretty different, though, so I never know what to expect.
They weren’t kidding about the intense osmanthus aroma. Steeped, this tea is incredibly floral to the point of being perfumy. There’s a slightly buttery vegetal aroma hiding somewhere underneath those flowers, but it’s being swamped! The level of florals reminds me of the Rose Violet Calendula Oolong. The flavor of the tea is slightly sweet and super floral. Wow, it’s even a little strong in the florals for me, and that’s saying something. I feel like I am drinking a bouquet, or perhaps even some osmanthus perfume. After reading Amy oh’s tasting note for this, I’m thinking that this is one that definitely needs multiple, short steeps. One long steep brought out so much osmanthus that the rest was kind of overwhelmed. As it cools, the florals calm down a little (or maybe I’m just getting desensatized to them), but it’s not so perfumy. I’m defintiely tasting more sweet, buttery, creamy notes. Not my fave from the pack by a long shot, but I think once I get my oolong gongfu set up, it will be a great tea for that.
ETA: I’m starting to wonder if somehow my samples of the floral oolongs were more heavily scented than others have tried… all these tasting notes talking about light osmanthus, hah! The Rose Violet Calendula oolong seemed stronger than I had before, as well. Odd!
Gong fu oolong of the day. I am following Naivetea’s instructions exactly for this one, including amount of leaf for my 6oz pot since they are explicit on that point.
No rinse, first steep 50 seconds. It certainly smells nice, floral and buttery and a bit vegetal. Geez, apparently I can’t take a sip today without inhaling tea along with it! I just did it twice in a row. Bah. Ok, finally got a good sip. It’s fresh and green, like fresh sweet sugar snap peas. There are a little florals, but they’re not really very present. No sweetness, really just a pleasant green flavor.
Second steep, 40 seconds. Honestly, this steep is kind of meh. Very underwhelming. At once low on flavor but what is there is strongly vegetal. It’s tempting to give up on it right now, but I remember what happened with the last Naivetea oolong I gong fu’d (I got great steeps toward the end). I’m afraid the third steep, back to 50 seconds, is the same way. Fourth steep, 60 seconds, weaker but otherwise same. I’m afraid there doesn’t really seem to be anything more coming out of these leaves. Fifth steep, 70 seconds, same.
I’m not really dropping my score on this one because I did like the western style steep of it back when I first tried it. But following the instructions they sent exactly? A big ol’ meh. Even the first steep wasn’t really that impressive. Oh well.
I has been sooooo long since I’ve had an oolong. I miss them! I knew I had to dive back into my sample packs from Naivetea when I got back home and finish trying all the high altitude teas. The aroma of the dry leaves on this one convinced me to try it first… leafy and floral and just a hint of that savory buttery note.
The smell of the steeped tea is even better. The buttery note has come forward and mingles with the florals in a lovely way. The taste of my first sip surprised me, acutally! From the aroma I was expecting something creamier, but the vegetal, leafy notes actually took the foreground, followed by some florals (not super flowery, though), with a light sweetness. It’s definitely on the greener, fresher end of the spectrum. Really quite nice.
Taking a break from my standard afternoon pu-erh routine to focus a bit on finishing up these oolong samples. I really loved this one when I gong-fu’d it, but drinking it in the office in my infuser mug it really isn’t the same, alas. Also I think I got a big load of the osmanthus flowers in this cup. It is still quite good. I was very happy with the Naivetea sample packs.
hmm. I don’t know why I like this one so much as I normally don’t like flowery teas. Apparently it depends on the flower and the blend. This osmanthus tea doesn’t suck. I also like roses in certain teas sometimes… it’s very sweet and relaxing today. I’d buy more. :)
see my previous tasting note.
Diary of a tea addict: time for one more tea before I head to the airport and will be most likely be stuck with teabags for 10 days… :-/
I don’t believe I have ever smelled an osmanthus flower and I don’t really like strongly floral teas. So why do I have so many? who knows. ;-)
Brewing method: short steeps in the gaiwan
First infusion: very light, creamy and custardy. Not a lot of flowers, good!
Second infusion: osmanthus coming up a bit more and it is getting a bit sweeter. A little vanilla-y, a little buttery. Very smooth mouthfeel and sweet lingering aftertaste. It’s a bit like a cookie. teee heeee.
Third infusion: tea is getting very assertive. Some vegetal notes are coming up a bit here. I am surprised. I may have oversteeped it.
Fourth infusion: steeped for only 20 seconds. Tea is happier and is back to sweet buttery lightness.
Fifth infusion: getting lighter still but now the floral is retreating and the oolong is emerging more as a clean, bright spring bud.
Now I am running out of time…
Even though I am not that fond of floral teas I would definitely like to keep this around. If you keep the steepings under control the flowers are very light. I was a skeptic but she has managed to charm me with her seductive ways. I could write a poem abut this experience. la la la – love!
I thought I would try these oolongs again before I go to China to get a reminder of their flavors, and what I might want to look out for. I know I’m going to be completely overwhelmed, so I’m trying to restrict the actual kinds of teas that I will specifically look for while I’m there. I’m hoping I can also discover a some teas I’ve never heard of while I’m there, so keeping all the varieties straight in my head is going to be tough. :)
This is a nicely balanced floral and vegetal oolong. It’s got a smooth texture throughout the sip, and then there’s a light astringency and a sweetness to the aftertaste. I don’t find this one particularly creamy or buttery in flavor this time. It’s light and fresh and floral and pretty springy, which is appropriate for the warm, lovely weather we’re having today.
Also, I am completely obsessed with the new Frozen Planet penguin livestream webcam. It’s of the penguin enclosure at Sea World San Diego, and there are a lot of penguins in there! They are hilarious, and I love watching them while I’m working. My favorites are the Adelie and Gentoo penguins. Fortunately my screen is big enough that I can have a small window with them open at all times.
Of the three remaining unflavored high-altitude oolongs from my sampler, the dry leaf on this one had the most butter/cream in the aroma. That’s not to say it was a lot, more like a whisper of those notes among the greenish oolongy scent. Brewed up, there’s a lot more of those buttery/creamy notes in the scent, though they’re not really sweet like a milk oolong. Somewhere in between very vegetal and very sweet, like the aroma of sweet corn. And now I just sneezed a bunch and totally clogged up my nose so I can hardly smell anything! :( Sickness not allowed, go away!
Ok my nose as cleared a bit. The flavor is richly vegetal, like thick, leafy greens. It’s very smooth and a bit buttery. I feel like it’s a bit strong (it seems a little “overcooked”) for me at these steeping parameters, which is surprising since I went with a 2 minute steep (usually I use 3 minutes for green oolongs), but it’s not bitter or unpleasant, really. There’s a hint of florals (osmanthus?) at the end of the sip. Overall a very pleasant oolong, and I do want to try it at 1 minute to see how it turns out then. I also plan on trying all of these in a gaiwan (hopefully I’ll get one soon!) with the steeping instructions Naivetea gives.
Sipdown, 240. This is among the last of the Naivetea samples that I got ages ago… a few of them are on my definite reorder list.
Oof, I have no idea how long this has been steeping, because when I checked my phone timer I didn’t notice, twice, that the timer was actually set to 2 hours and 3 minutes, not just 3 minutes.
Well it worked out ok. Love the base they use for their flavored oolongs… it’s so buttery and floral at the start, and then subtley flavored in a very masterful way. Drank this cup down quickly and am sad to see it go.