Shang TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I haven’t liked this tea previously. Trying to steep it shorter and with hotter water just left me with an upset stomach. I poured out the rest of my mug. I don’t get any orange flavour at all. And I love citrus teas.
Unfortunately when I last ordered, I bought more….oops. I have a sealed 1oz/29g package I’d be willing to trade. I’d like someone to like it.
I have to give myself a little credit for being one of the handful of people to convince Shang to market and sell this tea. I was at the shop in spring of last year asking about the recent harvest just a few weeks prior when he happened to have a sample of it, and he brewed some of the freshly harvested white tea for us. We loved the flavor so much we sort of begged Shang to offer it in the store. Green Peony may not be what you think it is by the name. It’s not a green tea at all. Rather, it is actually a white tea. His White Peony King tea normally gets aged for two years before he puts the tea on the store shelves. In these two years, the tea leaves take on a much browner hue and develop a more mellow and complex flavor that white peony tea is known for. Green Peony is what the company is calling their White Peony that is freshly harvested and has not undergone this aging.
Green Peony is a limited tea from Shang Tea that he decided to sell around the winter holidays last year alongside a limited Holiday Red tea. It’s from the 2014 harvest of White Peony, and without the usual aging the leaves are a vibrant green. The aroma of the wet leaves is bright, dewy, and lush in comparison. It reminds me a lot of green grapes with hints of melon and cucumber.
The brew tastes very sweet and light, more grassy and fresh than the usual white peony, with a champagne-like green grape flavor and an unmistakable finish of peach. It’s also quite sweet, especially in later infusions brewed in a Gongfu style. It gets very peachy and unexpectedly sweet by about the 6th infusion or later, when you’d expect the flavor to be dying out rather than strengthening.
This tea is a beautiful one to look at and just as wonderful to drink. I’m not certain of its availability at this moment, as it is not currently on the website (they may have some at the store if you’re local), but I really hope Shang Tea will be selling a 2015 batch of this around the winter holidays like they did with last year’s harvest. Only time will tell. I think this tea is a wonderful addition to the Shang Tea repertoire, especially for those with a taste for green teas. It has a bit of the vegetal vibrance of a freshly harvested green tea, but the lightness and exceptionally clean taste of a white tea.
Flavors: Champagne, Cucumber, Grapes, Grass, Peach, Sweet
Nicole sneaked some Shang Tea samples in with my TeaLeaves order… I’ll pay her back soon enough though :)
To me, which is probably going to be different from others, the taste of this tea is like a strong white tea had a child with some Oriental Beauty and this is the child. The taste is brisk and reminds you of what you are drinking with a slap across your taste buds, but that slap is packed with flavor so it is welcomed.
The best part about this tea, for me at least, is watching the color come to life as you steep this tea. I steeped my sample size three times and then half steeped another to see if the dark liquid still came about. Almost a solid brown color unlike Shang Tea’s website, however preparations could be different as I used 190’ish. Yes, this is good; however, I am not a fan of Oriental beauty (which this is not) so the notes of ‘spice’ that come through the brisk flavor of this tea don’t appeal so much to me. The word rich does describe this tea :)
Thanks for this one, Nicole! No tasting notes for this one and it doesn’t exist on Shang’s site, so this is uncharted territory. I went with a teaspoon and a half. The leaves look most like a Bailin Gongfu to me. On the small side, completely black in color. What little description there is on the page mentions High Mountain and the High Mountain tea I had recently was very plum. The flavor is a little bit of plum but mostly it’s like an ancient tree/ wild tea to me, with that tangy flavor I love. It also might have some of the characteristics of the Bailin Gongfu I mentioned it looks like. The brew is light but the flavor is fantastic. It’s another one similar to Teavivre’s Nonpareil Ancient Wild Tree – tangy plums though the leaf is very different. The second steep held that flavor pretty well. I’d steep it this way again. I’ll certainly enjoy the serving I have that remains! I wish I had more to report on this one, as it looks like not many others will ever write about it. I wonder why this is considered ‘Holiday’ though?
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsp // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // few min a.b. // 3 min
This is an exciting moment for me. I’m finally getting to sit down and try this June’s harvest of Special Reserve Green tea from Shang Tea, the tea that held the title for my hands-down favorite tea for quite a long time until I discovered Silver Needle tea from Kenya (which is basically a tie for best at this point).
Every year, I have the pleasure of drinking this wild-harvested tea from Shang, and every year the nuances are slightly different. Last year’s had an unexpected lotus or star anise note, an interesting twist, but far from my favorite harvest, as prior years had a much more buttery, savory, creamy umami richness with more subtle notes. This year, upon opening the bag, I didn’t get the lotus hints, but warm scents of chestnut, forest wood, cherry, and almond. I’m already loving it. After the leaves have sat in a warm gaiwan, a bit of green pea note is coaxed out.
After the first infusion, the leaves have a really unexpected scent, really bright and sweet this year with a berry note, generous aromas of pastry cream and an almost cheesecake scent. Of course behind this is the familiar bed of leafy green and vegetal flavors.
The texture of the brewed tea is incredibly buttery and smooth. The taste is generous and creamy, nutty, a bit vegetal, and having a long-lasting umami that is slightly tart. There’s a hint of malt flavor. This tea is on the sweeter side than previous years and certainly has caught me by surprise. The vegetal notes might be akin to peas and asparagus this time around, and grass as with most green teas.
Upon cooling, I’m getting really bright berry and tropical fruit aromas from the leaves in the gaiwan. It reminds me of a sweet white wine or a blush wine.
The second infusion is a little more tangy and bright, more vegetal throughout the sip, but again the tanginess that registers in the end of the taste kind of gives me the impression of the tanginess you get after taking a bite of cheesecake. There’s a sugary sweetness that lingers there too.
Third infusion is really, really sweet, sugar snap peas, and I’m getting a tiny hint of roast flavor, but it is sort of an overtone or afterthought. There’s a hint of spice that I had also caught in the scent when opening the bag, either nutmeg or cinnamon.
The taste, sweetness, and clean feeling in the mouth that lingers after drinking this is superb. There’s a cooling hui gan sensation.
By the fourth infusion, the flavor is backing down a bit and becoming a touch drying/astringent, which is common for green tea in my experience. I find they perform best in the first three infusions and beyond that it’s just not as complex or full as most other tea types. Still, the taste is good, much more vegetal now, less sweet. The way it lingers in the mouth is not quite as enjoyable as before. Just a bit drying.
Fifth infusion tastes a little more fruity and tangy again, but has just a hint of the drying quality as well. I’ll end the review here and update if anything surprising occurs in the last few infusions I pull out of it.
Overall, this was a really unique change for this tea. Since it is wild grown, changes in weather and terroir probably affect the tea more than it would on a controlled tea farm, so each year I have noticed some pretty distinct changes, but the last couple years it has really surprised me with its qualities. I would say this is the second best crop I’ve had the joy of trying (from the four they’ve produced 2012-2015). Nothing beats the incredible richness of that 2012 batch, but this fruity and sweet twist is definitely a change, and a great one. It’s the most complex batch. I love it. Perfect rating for this tea, as usual.
Flavors: Berry, Creamy, Nuts, Sweet, Vegetal, White Wine
I received this sample from Boychik. Thank you so much.
This isn’t a moonlight, but I’m having a hard time not comparing it to the many that I’ve been drinking lately. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. It’s good. There is no doubt that it’s a high quality tea. The first couple of steeps, it seemed more like a medium oxidized rock oolong. A little mineraly, a little grassy, sweet, just a hint bitter. It was a beautiful golden orange. The colour really didn’t change from steep to steep. The later steeps mellowed out, it became more subtle more what I expect from a white tea. Steeps 5 and 6 were pretty fresh and bright. Steeps 7 and 8 were sweeter almost fruity and juicy.
I don’t think this is my favourite aged white, but it was really interesting with lots going on and it changed quite a bit from steep to steep. Really happy that I got to try it. :))
No D&D for me tonight, my DM’s wife has a sickness and with my immune system being the way it is, I screamed PESTILENCE and ran the other direction, declaring his house now the residence of Papa Nurgle. He assures me that Nurgle will have to fight Cthulhu and an especially large Draco Lich for dominance, so that means she should be better in no time. I do still have Seafall playtesting today, and of course my sleep schedule being what it is, and Ben’s need for the computer being what it is, oh the work load waiting for me when I get home. Honestly the visit from Nurgle might turn out to be a sanity saver for me, who would have guessed?
Since the Midwest Tea Fest is in a couple days (the hype is real, yo!) I decided to review one of my favorite vendors (yes, favoritism, but we all know that I love Shang Tea, I mean I have a yixing teapot dedicated to Tangerine Blossom Red for Pete’s sake!) and since this is Thursday, that means it is also a #TBT review, this tea I bought when I visited their Grand Opening event over a year ago, logged in my notebook more or less a day later than the event since I wanted to try the new tea samples I purchased immediately! Presenting Shang Tea’s Wild White! This tea is harvested from the Tai Mu Mountains in China, the plants left to grow wild before being plucked, cultivated tea fields are beautiful, but there is something that cries out to the nature lover in me who loves frolicking in the forest, foraging for wild edibles, my soul gets soothed by the knowledge of wild growing tea plants. The aroma of the rather fluffy leaves with their blend of fuzzy tips and large unfurled leaves, is delicate, no overpowering notes, just a dance of fresh vegetation, honeydew melon, a touch of thyme, and a finish of cucumber. If you stick your nose in the leaves long enough you pick up a hint of honey and loam as well, but it is super faint and at the end, more like the dream of a scent than a defined note.
Into ye old fish gaiwan the tea went. Ah this gaiwn, adorably tiny and perfect for travel, well except the drippy cha hai, but oh well. The aroma really wakes up once the tea gets its soaking, sweet notes of fruit and fresh vegetation drift out of the gaiwan. There are notes of delicate melon and fresh grapes (like white table grapes specifically) a touch of lettuce and cucumber, broken leaves, and a finish of lettuce. The liquid is honey sweetness and flower nectar, honeysuckles and a touch of muscatel at the end, a tiny bit of tartness as well.
Well that turned out to be a fun adventure, Seafall was canceled last minute so Ben, Fish, and myself wandered around 888 International store for like three hours. I procured ingredients for the pre-Tea Fest party the night before, by party I mean I am making Hot & Sour Soup, my new specialty! Also I finally tried Tea Eggs and have fallen utterly in love, but back to the tea at hand! The mouthfeel starts out slightly fuzzy (hello trichomes) and moves into smoothness pretty quickly. The taste is sweet, surprisingly muscatel, almost like a Darjeeling, but much, much lighter. There are also more familiar White tea notes of cucumber, lettuce, and a slightly herbaceous peppery finish.
I hear the sound of distant rumbling, and if the radar is to believe, we are about to be slammed with storms! Exciting! The aroma of the second steep is very sweet, blending honey and grapes with a delicate finish of lettuce, giving a level of crispness to a heavy sweetness. No fuzzies this time, just all smoothness, with a start of raw honey and grapes, and just a hint of spicebush. This moves on to lettuce and fresh vegetation, with a finish of hay. This tea tastes very fresh, in a way it reminds me of laying under a tree and watching dappled light through the leaves, very much so a tea that evokes memories in its taste!
I do get orchid notes from this tea, in both scent and taste. It reminds me of a qi lan oolong. I think it has been fermented and roasted more lightly than most dark oolongs, yet it develops a nutty aroma and even a touch of smoke. It is light-bodied and a clear amber hue. Because it is less roasted, it will not have a dark color unless oversteeped or use extra leaf. Easy, very enjoyable drinking. I rank the smell even better than the flavor. I drink tea as much for the aroma as anything else, and I love floral teas, so this one scores high for me.
Flavors: Caramel, Malt, Orchid, Roasted nuts
My favorite thing, hands down, about the weather having warmed up is being able to have my windows open. I love sitting at my desk feeling the fresh air, hearing the birds sing…and hearing my weirdo cats chirp at things like they are aliens. Tao only occasionally chips, Espeon sounds like a crazy noise machine, but she is just a much noisier cat. We frequently have conversations and pretend we have some idea what we are saying to each other.
Well, it is official, today marks the start of ticket sales for the Midwest Tea Fest, and to celebrate I am going to take a look at a tea I really should have reviewed ages ago, Shang Tea’s Tangerine Blossom Red. I say that I should have reviewed it ages ago because (spoilers) it is one of my favorite teas, belonging to the surprisingly short (for me anyway) list of teas that I HAVE to have on hand. It is also a tea I have been afraid to review because I was afraid of not doing it justice. Of course the really sad thing is as I review this, this is the end of my supply, so I guess we know what I will be buying very soon. The aroma of the leaves is nothing short of decadent, it blends rich cocoa, roasted peanut, and a tiny dried cherry note with intense heady tangerine blossoms. Me being me, I have spent a lot of time sniffing citrus flowers, tangerine flowers are one of my favorite because they are so heady, blending citrus notes with honeysuckle and gardenia, those combined into one slightly sharp heady flower makes me swoon. Honestly I have a hard time describing it because my brain goes all happy fuzzy while experiencing this tea.
The brewed leaves are so delightfully heady, the tangerine blossom is definitely the dominant note, It reminds me of a pile of plucked flowers on a hot day, if you have ever gardened and had a pile of flowers to deal with, you will notice there is a massive heady note that drifts out from the pile of flowers, now mix that with cocoa, dried cherries, and sweet tangerines. The liquid is a blend of tangerine blossoms, citrus fruit, and a rich cocoa and roasted peanut note. It smells delicious, this is almost a tea I have to sniff and sip solo, because it is a little too sensual.
First steep, oh man, it is so good! A perfect balance of sweetness, richness, and heady floral. Pardon me while I let out a contented sigh, because this tea is intense and lovely. It starts out with a cocoa and dried cherry sweetness and then moves to a heady rich tangerine blossom. It blends the taste of citrus with flower nectar sweetness reminiscent of honeysuckle. The finish is rich cocoa and roasted peanuts with a floral note that seems to linger on my tongue for an eternity.
And now I decide to have a second steep, which is no surprise, the aroma of this steep really ramps up on the sweetness front, the floral notes are intense and the cocoa notes mouth watering. And not just because my doctor said no chocolate and I am having some hard core cravings! The taste starts off intense and it stays intense till the end, and most of that intensity is floral, though it is not like perfume or soapy like some floral teas can be, it is like nectar and sipping a slightly earthy, cocoa, and dried cherry note red tea while sitting next to a bouquet of tangerine blossoms.
Third time and last time, usually I can get four steeps, but the fourth steep is fairly weak, and I let it steep for a while. If anyone is curious, yes I have steeped this tea Western style and it is pretty good, though it does seem to lose some of its more subtle nuances, and even my staunchly western tea drinking boyfriend thinks it is better gongfu style. The aroma of the third steep still has a very strong floral presence, along with cocoa and dried cherry, but it also has a creamy note as well. The taste is a bit milder than the previous one, but there is still a strong tangerine blossom flavor, the nectar like notes are so delicious, though this steep the tea itself really shines. The notes of roasted peanuts, cocoa, sweet dried cherry, and a bit of malt at the finish. I have such a weakness for floral teas, especially citrus flowers of any variety, and I really love that this is a red tea rather than a green or white like I usually run into, Tangerine Blossom Red is one of a kind and delicious, also I love I can go to the shop and talk to its creator when I visit, the personal aspect makes me enjoy it even more.
This tea is unlike any other tea I’ve had… and it surpasses most in quality and just the sheer depth of the experience one has in drinking this tea.
It is a very hard tea to describe. On appearance, it looks like a Chinese strip-style oolong, similar to Wuyi Yancha. The scent is incredibly fragrant, very fruity, floral, honeyed, sweet. This is the most robust and fragrant fruity-smelling tea I’ve had.
The flavor is quite complex and very sweet. The best I can describe it is that it taste like a really, really, really good Yunnan red tea with its lofty floral and fruit notes underscored by darker tones… mix that with a fruity/floral softly sweet wuyi oolong (with all its delicious roasted flavors) and a buttery high mountain oolong with its creamy, fruity, green and floral qualities. There’s a very sweet floral smell about this tea, and I believe orchids may be a flower that smell similar. Maybe something like magnolias even? I’m not a flower scent expert, but this is more sweet than perfumy as far as that goes.
I had the honor of enjoying this tea with a friend the other day, and I hear the process for creating it was quite an elaborate one. Sadly, Shang Tea does not produce this tea currently, but with this many high reviews, I wish they would consider re-creating it! I believe that a tea like this could be sold as a premium tea for much higher prices than Shang Tea had originally charged, to make up for the high cost of producing it.
I will skip brewing parameters, since I wasn’t the one brewing it, but it was brewed Gongfu Style in a gaiwan, basically quick infusions like a Wuyi oolong.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Sweet
Rummaging through my tea cupboard, I found a single teaspoon of this left that I must’ve hoarded away! Ifjuly sent this to me in one of her lovely packages (she’s one of my favourite people on the planet). I can not believe that I have this to drink today!!!!! EEEEEEEK!!!
This has to be my favourite white tea I have ever tried… It’s buttery and nutty and so very wonderful!
I get pistachio notes along with cream…and the mouthfeel.. Oh, the mouthfeel! It’s fabulous.
So, after finding this tea, I don’t care that the snow is now higher than my neck outside my window (my nice neighbor came through with his snow blower and did my walkway… I think he does this more for the postal worker than for actual neighborly kindness, but it’s still very much appreciated—-so that the postal worker can walk a straight path for a row of houses and not have to keep walking up and down driveways and sidewalks… for clarification. lol).
Anyway, this tea is one of my favourites, and I’m over the moon that I’m sipping it right now!
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Hay, Nuts
Thank you TeaTiff for this one a while back! The sample pouch had a not-at-all full two teaspoons so I went with that. I thought this was supposed to be one of those golden teas because of the name, but it almost looks like Teavivre’s Bailin Gongfu. The leaves are dark with only hints of gold occasionally and smell very grassy. The flavor seems to be the Bailin mixed with a high quality keemun. There is a lovely almost floral like fragrance even before taking a sip from this rusty colored cup. Keemun is always tough for me to describe. But the flavor is delicious — a medium bodied taste, but no smoke like a keemun. It’s like flowers, wine, biscuits, hay. Really it reminds be of Teavivre’s highest quality keemun mixed with their Bailin. The second steep seemed a little too much at those parameters. I thought it was a mistake on the packaging that is called a white tea and a red tea but it’s actually made from a white tea plant? But I thought all tea comes from the same plant anyway? It was good and then it was gone.
Steep #1 // 2 tsps. // 12 min after boiling // 2 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 min
I received a sample of this tea from Nicole. I’ve been meaning to try honeysuckle tea, but this is the first chance I’ve had to sample it. It has a lovely floral scent, and the taste itself is sweet like flowers with a hint of a grassiness. I haven’t had many white teas, but as it stands, I think this could be my favorite. I’ll have to consider buying this tea next time I buy more tea.
It reminds me of toasted green beans.
I’ve had this tea quite a while. I usually don’t think to review Shang Teas because I am impressed by really everything they offer and have at one time or another owned most of their teas. I don’t need to rate and review them to know them well. I’ve become pretty connected to them. I forget that others might like to know about their qualities. This review comes in the wake of a yixing crisis that led me to rediscover this tea.
If I’ve caught any of you yixing lovers’ attention now, what I mean is that I recently got a new yixing pot. I’ve been using it a few weeks now with some Gui Fei oolong, and while it has built up the most caramely, rich, sweet aroma and flavor, I have to admit I found myself wondering if the tea was really as good as I remember it from when I first brewed it in a gaiwan, so I got out my gaiwan and tried it in there. Sure enough, it was better than in the yixing pot. Whaaaat? I was sure I’d used it enough to be seasoned and not still extracting flavor?
Research led me to find that the type of yixing pot I have is thick-walled and low fired, so not only is the heat retention a bit too high for greener oolongs, but it is porous enough to steal their aroma. I had to put a lot of thought into how to re-season my yixing pot as the shape and thickness and clay type of it make it ideal for high-temperature teas, particularly red tea or puer. I don’t really drink a lot of either, so I had to decide which one I’d enjoy having more often and enjoy exploring more of (and sharing with friends). I went with red since I thought it would be better complemented by the sweetness already built up in the pot from the Gui Fei, and a friend mentioned the red color of the tea would complement the blue yixing clay well, which I agree with immensely. I’m reminded of Icelandic volcanoes when pouring the deep red-orange drops from the deep blue pot that is etched with a golden crackle design.
So out comes the golden needle to re-season the pot. It took to it well and blended well with the sweetness from the gui fei as I thought it would. I did the “un-seasoning” process of boiling it in just water for about half an hour to get the original tea scents I used in it out, but it only half did the job. I knew it wasn’t all gonna come out. Either way, it works well and in time it will grow to be more distinctly “red” and less “sweet oolong”.
As for this golden needle, it is really a mellow tea, even when using a lot of leaf. The flavor is light and there is really no bitterness or astringency in it like you might find in some Yunnan red teas. It’s just smooth and zen, the slightest bit tart. The flavor is malty and really this is one of those teas that isn’t super flashy with elaborate notes. This is a tea that tastes like tea and in that since it is humbling and simple, easy to appreciate. It has a little note of lychee, though that may be a lingering effect of the Gui Fei I had in this pot before, which has strong lychee notes.There are also little hints of dried fruit.
The second infusion of this tea is my favorite. It is rather sweet and syrupy. Really flavorful and forgiving. No bitterness or drying sensation. It’s a very juicy red tea, a real joy to drink. This could easily be a real favorite of mine if it was a hint sweeter, but I’m not about to go make it in a mug with some sugar. It’s great just how it is.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Lychee, Malt, Tea
Thank you TeaTiff for the sample. The black with hints of golden leaves are very similar to Teavivre’s Bailin Gongfu. It’s an odd flavor, hard to describe. I’d say it’s like a mild keemun: hints of smoke, chewiness, breadiness, a bit of tobacco, a little like something alcohol.. not sure which one as I don’t have enough knowledge in that department! Haha. Very intriguing flavors though! I used a teaspoon and a half but I think this one would have been fine with two teaspoons. It certainly was tasty as it is though! The second steep was almost identical to the first cup – the brew being a very light brown color.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsps. // 10 min after boiling // 3 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 min
This Wu-Long is made from white tea cultivar (Da Bai), the only one of its kind I’ve ever come across. Shang makes two varieties of this, and of the two this one is superior. Out of curiosity I had one of the folks at the shop fix me a sample of this and the other one and not tell me which one was which so I could decide which was better without a bias. I tasted both for a few infusions and compared to see which one I’d like more and this one was the winner for sure.
It’s been about a year since I purchased this tea and it has become even better with age. I have to say I made a major discovery with this tea today that I wish I had made earlier. That is that you should brew it at hotter temperatures like you might with any other oolong. I had always brewed it at 185F, the temperature I brew white teas. Oh foolish me! I tried it at 194F today while pondering on some info I have come across lately that talks about how oolongs get their distinct flavor from polyphenols that require high temperatures to dissolve. What a difference nine degrees makes!
The leaves smell a lot like golden raisins when dry and have a sort of wine-like scent after brewing. It reminds me of a second flush Darjeeling in many ways. The brew is incredibly buttery, sweet like dried fruit and has a splash of saltiness. In the second infusion there is an incredible spritz of floral notes along with it that sort of tingles the tongue and stimulates the saliva glands. The brew color is a beautiful apricot and the scent gives off notes of allspice and autumn forest. The tea is very wet and thick feeling in the mouth, not drying at all. The lingering aftertaste is honeyed floral and just sits in your mouth for a long time.
This is an all-star tea. It had been silently tucked away on my shelves for quite some time after I had gradually come to feel it wasn’t one of my preferred teas, but with age and some hotter water, this produced something absolutely transcendent. Way to go Shang Tea for pulling this off! White tea as oolong is a really unique concept in the tea world.
I’ll be coveting the rest of what I have of this. What a wonderful and appropriate tea for Autumn too. Really suits the atmosphere.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Flowers, Honey, Salty, Sweet
My new openness to jasmine lead me to buy a sample pack of this when I was in Sheng’s last. I followed the instructions on the sample pack and I probably should have just ignored them. This is a very strong Jasmine. I steeped 3.5g in 8oz of water for 1.5 mins. That was a little strong for me. The next infusion was much nicer I did the same but only steeped for 30 seconds. This was a sweet jasmine tea, but not as sweet as I have had in the past. I like this, but I think I have enjoyed a few others a bit more.
Shang Tea is my favorite tea haunt, so I am not sure particularly why I haven’t reviewed more of their teas. It may be because I have a sentimental attachment with Zehua Shang’s teas. They were the first teas that led me into the world of high quality loose leaf tea, and with the exception of one tea they have, I have loved every tea they sell. The one exception is simply due to a matter of tastes too, not a fault of the tea’s quality.
That said, let’s get on with reviewing this very unique red tea (what black tea is called in China). It’s made from Da Bai tea leaves the varietal used for true white tea in Fujian province. If I’m not mistaken Shang is the only teamaker in the world (or at least in the Western market) who makes Tangerine Blossom tea.
Despite the name, I’m not sure I would describe this tea as citrusy. The note I get if you brew it strong is almost a licorice or cardamom flavor, not far off from the scent of orange blossom water, but completely lacking the bitterness of orange blossom tea (my sole nemesis at Shang Tea who I try to get along with but fail miserably). It’s also mildly floral. The red tea base is very mild and forgiving. It’s mellow and slightly sweet, a bit nutty. It isn’t earthy or dry or bold like a lot of other red teas. It’s closer to what you’d get with a golden needle. The infusion is a rich amber or deep gold depending on how you brew it. There are subtle notes of pepper in the finish. You could brew this tea very dark for a very bold and zesty tea or very light for an incredibly relaxing and subtle floral tea.
This tea is unique and there is simply nothing else out there like it. If I had to pick one tea from Shang Tea that you just have to try it’s this one, for just that reason. I know it’s not his prized White Peony that is definitely his most precious baby to him, but it is his best-selling tea and probably the customer favorite. I guess this just appeals to Westerners’ preference for bold flavors. Delicate and light do not hit our palates here enough for everyone to appreciate the beauty of white tea.
This is only my 7th perfect 100 scored review out of nearly 100 reviews on Steepster.
My favorite brewing method is Gongfu style in a gaiwan, 3.5g/100ml/194F for 15 seconds, then add 15 each time.
Flavors: Cardamon, Floral, Licorice, Orange Blossom
I went for a long walk tonight that happened to take me by the Crown Center, once at crown center my little legs couldn’t help but make a stop by Shang’s. I mean they did move to the first floor and all so I didn’t even have to climb 3 flights of stairs:) Once in the store there was no hope. I had to make a purchase.
This tea is one I had seen recently on the web site that caught my eye. I have recently been trying more sheng and white teas so this seemed like a fun one to try. Boy am I glad I picked up an ounce of this. This tea is really sweet. There are lots of hints of honey. There is a slight tang, and hints of clementines. This tea is so smooth. There is something else in there but I can’t tell you what. I guess I will just have to have another cup!
Yeah to more Shang tea. I am so blessed to have such great tea in my backyard!
I must say, while this is definitely a delicious black tea with the aroma of honey, it is a little bit too ‘dark’ for my tastes. By ‘dark’ I probably mean bold, but also slightly bitter and tannic-y? I wish I knew what I mean most of the time.
Anyway, there’s just something about this tea that doesn’t sit well with me. I think what happened is that I actually brewed it wrong, overleafed or oversteeped. I am not sure. I think I will try to resteep the leaves for a rather short time and see what comes out of it.
EDIT: Okay, so I let the re-steep brew for 2 minutes. Now the tea came out a little on the bland side but it doesn’t have these bitter elements in it that I didn’t enjoy. I think I will have to brew it at a slightly colder temp next time for a shorter time with less leaf. I am not rating it yet either.
I seem to be rarely in the mood for white teas, so much so that I think I need to make myself try one every day, just because I have quite a few samples to get through. I believe this is my very last sample from my visit to Shang, and I have certainly enjoyed all of their teas so far. The leaves look similar to other bai mudans I’ve had – a varied mixture of sizes and colors with some silvery buds mixed in. Dry scent is lovely grain and hay with sweet honey. I only did a 2-minute steep because there was so much leaf (I used the whole packet, as they recommend on the instructions).
The brewed aroma is a mixture of oats and sweet hay with a lovely honey scent and just a hint of either melon or cucumber. Yum yum yum! This tea is deliciously grainy, like all of Shang’s teas have been. The flavor seems most similar to oats in my opinion. There’s also hay, but in a mild sense. Overall, it’s quite sweet and creamy and feels lovely in the mouth. I thought I tasted a hint of cinnamon in a couple of sips, but I never really got any of that melon/cucumber from the aroma. Overall, very delicious if you enjoy grainy teas. :)
Flavors: Creamy, Grain, Hay, Honey, Oats, Sweet