Shang TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Well, I don’t know the full story behind this one, but if I’m not mistaken it’s from the tea farm of Shang’s friend, which is no longer an active tea farm, but the trees there are let to grow on their own now, so they go over to harvest the wild tea from them sometimes. And I think that’s where this oriental beauty is from, if I remember right. I’m brewing this gongfu style.
The aroma of the leaves after the first infusion is really floral and lovely. It’s a light kind of floral like roses and lychee. The first infusion is sweet and has some of the same quality in its flavor, in addition to honey notes.
The second infusion has more of the honey and floral notes, and also tastes like really sweet squash, like delicatta squash or kabocha. There are dried autumn leaf notes as well.
The third infusion is more honey like and rich in flavor. It has a bit more woody and fallen leaf notes in the flavor now.
I really enjoy this tea. In fact, it might be the best Oriental Beauty tea I’ve had. I haven’t particularly cared for the type in general in the past, but this one has the notes I love.
A friend of mine tells me this tea is a bit sensitive to heat and will become bitter if brewed too hot. I am brewing it at 85C/185F and there’s no bitterness here, so that seems like the right temperature. :3
Edit: I came back to this for another infusion and brewed it more strongly and it gave me more unexpected flavors. It had a really strong presence of nutmeg, clove, and other autumn spices. Totally unexpected! I had some food in between. It may have effected how it tasted to me.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Butternut Squash, Honey, Lychee, Rose, Wood
Today’s cold brew. 30oz water, leaf added until it looked good.
Juicy, crisp and thick. Reminds me of clouds and cotton. Flowery at end of sip – probably the peony. Flavor coats mouth for a while after.
Good staying power. I’ve refilled once and leaves still had flavor to give. Leaves are intact, so no little bits up the straw like yesterday. 94
Flavors: Floral, Thick
This is a new tea from Shang Tea, just produced last month, and I invite the Shang Tea staff to edit and update this page’s info as needed since I don’t have a lot of the info to add myself.
Shang produced this tea from the same plants that they harvest for his Special Reserve Green Tea (my favorite tea of his, one of my top favorite teas ever). These are plants from an abandoned tea farm that has been growing on its own for some years now (I forget how long). Unlike their previous yellow tea produced from these plants, this one is not pressed into a cake. It is loose.
Yellow tea involves heaping the leaves after firing, and wrapping them in cloth to swelter in their own aroma and heat. This is done two or three times if I remember right and is an all-night process, done at intervals over the nighttime hours. The intention with yellow tea is to remove some of the bright grassy flavors that some tea drinkers don’t enjoy and to highlight the more mellow, smooth notes of the tea.
Theoretically, you should be able to tell yellow tea from green because the leaves look yellowed. With teas that have a lot of white hairs this is more obvious but with darker green leaf teas it looks more like an olive color. This tea from Shang has that tone.
After the first infusion, the aroma of the leaves is really nutty and mellow, and reminds me a lot of zucchini tempura. The taste of the tea is really mellow too, and quite sweet. The flavor tastes a bit like cooked zucchini as well, it’s dewy and vegetal. It’s a little bit grassy too, but not much.
I’m brewing this in a gaiwan, Gongfu style, and the second infusion is much like the first but more rich and full flavored. I’ts still really sweet and mellow though, with no bitterness at all.
By the third infusion there’s a slightly toasty flavor that reminds me of the crust on a creme brulee, but it’s a background note. Toasted hazelnut might sound like a more accurate description to some people. It’s got a little more of a vegetable broth taste now too, and reminds me a bit of sugar snap peas. Still getting cooked zucchini too.
I really love this tea. It isn’t a cheap tea because of the production method, but it is worth it. This is one of the best teas I’ve had, honestly, and easily the best yellow tea I’ve had.
One note here, I brewed this at 176F/80C, not a very hot temperature, and the same one I use for green teas. I’ve had it brewed at 85C and it was a bit more “zesty” and bright tasting. Also I’ve had it brewed at around 90c and it had a much stronger flavor. There was some bitterness every time except for this current session at 80C, so I think I prefer it this way. It depends on how much you like some bitterness in your tea.
Flavors: Broth, Garden Peas, Hazelnut, Sweet, Toast, Zucchini
Pao blossom, if you hadn’t read the story from Shang Tea, is a flower that was once used more commonly to scent teas, but in recent memory is almost unheard of, at least here in the West. The flower is a relative of grapefruit and supposedly only grown on 3-5 square miles in the world now.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the aroma of the tea leaves does remind of grapefruit. There’s a hint of toasted creme brulee in the aroma of the wet leaves, as well as some juicy white grape, and a hint of anise. If you’ve tried Shang’s Tangerine Blossom Red Tea, the aroma has some similarities. It also reminds me somewhat of the aroma of orange blossoms. Alas, all the citruses are related.
Where this floral scented tea parts from most others I’ve tried is that it isn’t particularly sweet. In fact it has a lingering mild bitterness that fans of grapefruit might enjoy. The taste is creamy with hints of anise. Some will say this tea is similar to jasmine, and while that connection could be made, I’d have to grumble at any claim that this is more extraordinary or delectable than jasmine. Pao has a more “down-to-earth” presence than jasmine, not as heady and floral, though just as aromatic. The bitter tones and lack of sweetness ground the flavor in a way that jasmine isn’t grounded, and in the opinion of this reviewer, there isn’t the complexity achievable with using jasmine to scent tea. I would wager that this is a major consideration for why jasmine tea is now ubiquitous and pao blossom is not. This is nothing bad on Shang Tea, of course, as they produce both types.
This tea needs to be brewed rather light or the taste may become a bit bitter, drying, almost soapy. Of course, this is a matter of preference, but among my circle this is the preference.
As for tasting notes, there are hints of cucumber in the background from the white tea, but the predominant flavor is that of the pao blossoms, which is creamy, reminding me of a combination of coconut milk and hints of anise. If you’ve ever eaten lotus or had lotus tea, it is reminding me a lot of that.
This tea’s nature is rustic to me. It’s not a bright, spring-like, vibrant tea, but an earthy, calm, grounding one.
Flavors: Anise, Citrus, Creamy, Cucumber, Fruit Tree Flowers
The flavor of this tea varies greatly depending on how you prepare it. If you follow the package directions it’s strongly floral with hints of an almost orange-like citrus. I actually found it to be a little overpowering this way, even though I love floral teas. Instead I prefer to cut the amount of dry leaf I use in half, which produces a lightly floral cup with strong hints of citrus and a slightly sweet undertone. This is one of those teas that gives you a lot of wiggle room in terms of preparation, so it can be prepared to fit a variety of tastes, but brewing it at a higher temperature tends to bring out a somewhat astringent note. If you’re a fan of floral oolongs or even jasmine scented teas this will be right up your alley.
You can read the full review on my blog:
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Here I am sitting on my Quetzal waiting for a new Anklyo to tame, she is a level 72 (not as high as I would like but the level 96 I was going to tame was accidentally killed by a fellow tribe, oops) I have three of the beasties, but they are all pretty low level, so she will be part of my current project of making everything super efficient. Taming is a very good time to have lots of tea and to write/paint, especially if I get lucky and I am taming a creature with slow dropping torpor, I can keep an eye on things while also doing other things.
Today I am looking at Shang Tea, a local tea shop that I do not spend enough time at, I am hoping to go back and visit before the Midwest Tea Fest in May (everyone should go) but I am saving my money to spend there. If I am able to go stock up I will definitely be getting their Autumn Red, the tea I am covering today! Unlike the other red teas from Shang that I have tried, this one is super fancy, harvested in autumn of 2011, so not only is it a harvest from a time not usually used, it is also aged a bit. This tea first showed up in the Special Reserve Club, so I was very stingy with my stash, but recently I found out it is in the shop as well, so yours truly binged on the last of it and now needs more! The aroma of the small curly leaves is something else, notes of sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts blend with molasses, sweet stewed tomatoes, bamboo, molasses, autumn leaves, and a finish of dried fruit. It blends sweet and savory, rich and light all in one aroma profile, I admit it took me a while trying to put to words what all was going on in this tea…the stewed sweet tomatoes being the hardest to pin down.
Into my celadon gaiwan the leaves go, red tea in celadon is a guilty pleasure of mine, the colors are so pretty! The aroma of the leaves is still malty and sweet, though not nearly as much so, it takes on more richness. Notes of starchy yams and bamboo blend with molasses and just a touch of peanuts and honey. The liquid is intense sweetness, stewed plums and dried peaches mix with malt and yams with a definite molasses and earthy roasted peanuts and autumn leaves. I am a little amazed at the sweetness and fruitiness, it smells so good!
The first steep has a light earthy almost mineral start to it, mixing with a smooth almost slippery mouthfeel it reminds me strongly of rain water. There is a lot more to this tea than just rainwater, there are strong notes of yams and peanuts with a hint of cooked plums and a touch of molasses. The finish is honey sweet with a lingering aftertaste of honey and starch.
For the second steep the aroma somehow manages to be richer, still just as sweet but with an addition of cocoa like richness that blends well with the fruit and yams. The taste does not really deviate much in notes from the first steep, in changes in intensity and mouthfeel though! No more the slippery rainwater feel, it is all smooth and with a slight thickness. Another quite enjoyable thing about this tea is the aftertaste, strong yams and honey that lasts for quite a while.
The aroma of the third steep is strong in the malt and yam, but light on the fruit and peanut notes, though it certainly stays strong on sweetness and richness. This steep is still quite smooth, but not quite as thick, the taste is stronger in earthy peanut and autumn leaf notes with a strong malt in the middle and finish of sweet fruit. This tea was quite the treat, really quite delicious with an excellent personality (teas totally have those, I swear) that captured the essence of autumn!
Fuzzy leaves, strongly scented with jasmine. Taste – jasmine, soft taste of whit tea with buttery mouthfeel. Relatively thick taste. Well scented – not too much, not overpowering like some jasmines can be. It never tastes overdone or over-jasmined. Scent hold through the second infusion. Taste fainter, still buttery, more of whit tea present in taste. I really like this tea. Very well done jasmine tea.
Flavors: Butter, Jasmine
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. It also has been air dried rather than sun dried.
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