Shang TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
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
I really liked this tea and feel it would also appeal to those who enjoy Jasmine black teas as it shares some characteristics with the more fruity, candy like style of jasmine that I enjoy.
The dry tea of my sample has dark tightly wound leaves with some golden tips. It smells a little like orange starburst candies( a creamy almost vanilla tone mixed with a soft sweet orange), mixed with a creamy green floral.
I brewed 1 TSP in 150 ml of 95°C water.
The broth is a pretty golden red orange colour.
1 min: a floral tinged orange that tastes a little like a sweeter more candy like orange blossom toner. It smells and tastes like orange blossom water over dissolved dark brown sugar. It is very smooth at first. As it cools a tart malt note appears underneath and it finishes with a bready note created by the malt, tannins and a mild astringency.
1.5 min: A candy grape like note is mixed into the scent. It is slightly more malty. The overall taste is of orange blossom water over a hint of honey and less brown sugar.
2 min 10 s: The candied floral is evolving into an almost candied jasmine note. The sugar and honey notes remain. The malt is fading.
3 min: Orange blossom water over honey and very light malt.
4.5+ min: The tea smells like candied rose petals. The malt, floral, and honey tones are well blended into each other.
All together this is a really enjoyable tea for those who enjoy sweet floral teas!
Thanks Nicole for the chance to try this tea. I really enjoyed it!
Another lovely Shang tea! The leaves are twisty and dark with a few silver tips. They smell of grain and slightly vegetal. I steeped the whole sample pack for 3 minutes.
This is really rather lovely. It’s sweet and grainy like the other Shang teas I’ve tried, but it has a noticeable vegetal or grassy element. Kind of like a combination of a white tea and a mild green. I’m ashamed to admit that I let half of the cup get stone cold, as I was playing a game. Oopsies? But it’s really delicious this way, which makes me think it would be great iced. It’s quite sweet and creamy and lovely! :D
Flavors: Grain, Grass, Honey, Sweet, Vegetal
I’ve been holding onto my Shang white tea samples for a while, and I’m not sure why. I guess I’m just not always in a white tea mood. Well, today I am! There is a ton of tea in this packet and it seems like way too much for one cup, but I’m going to trust the instructions and go for it anyway. The leaves are large and overall, this tea looks similar to bai mudan. Dry scent is lovely sweet hay and oats. I decided to go with a 2 minute steep – I would generally go longer, but I was afraid considering the volume of leaves.
Oh, honey honey! The aroma smell deliciously of honey, which is not something I’ve really found in white teas before. There’s also an interesting sweet and slightly fruity scent that reminds me of juicy sweet grapes or a sweet Moscato. The flavor is classic white tea, but with a little bit of extra. It has the usual hay or straw flavor, along with a nice light graininess that reminds me of oats. The texture is creamy and lovely, it reminds me almost of soy or almond milk. Over everything is that amazing sweet honey that I was smelling in the aroma. I can taste the honey throughout the entire sip, from beginning to end, but it’s not overpowering of the other flavors. There’s a wee little bit of cucumber that pokes its head out near the end, and it adds a nice refreshing element.
Overall, a lovely and delicious white tea with an amazing amount of (unexpected) honey flavor. :)
Flavors: Creamy, Cucumber, Grain, Hay, Honey, Oats
From HH TTB 2.
This was a white tea? Huh. I totally didn’t get that. I had it pegged as a black and was comparing it in my head to other medium bodied blacks.
But hey, if it’s a white, I think it reminds me a bit of White Rhino. I liked it, and I was excited to try it since this brand is new to me but usually reviewed well on here. I drank the last little bit in the box so I’ll try to get another steep out of it.
Yay, I feel much more comfortable tasting these Shang teas now that I’m home with my variable temperature kettle. My mother doesn’t really have a thermometer that lends itself to measuring water temperature – she just has the “instant read” variety that you normally use for meat, and they take too long to measure the temperature, allowing the water to cool somewhat in the time it takes to find out the temperature. Anyway, hooray for kettles! I did have good experiences with the Shang teas I tried at her place as well, so no harm done there.
So, this tea. The dry leaves are very dark and rather small and wiry, and there are a very few golden tips mixed in. Their scent is mostly raw, chewy grains (if you don’t know what I mean, chew on a little bit of raw oats or other cereal grain). I get a little whiff of peanuts in the shell also, which is interesting. I was considering doing a 3-minute steep, but I ended up stopping at 2 (which I think was the correct decision).
The brewed aroma is dark multigrain baked bread studded with dark dried fruits (raisins, cherries, prunes) and drizzled with a touch of molasses. I love the bready teas, so it was making my mouth water! Yum, this tea! It definitely has both the chewy raw grain flavor and the dark baked bread flavor as well. Best of both worlds! That dark fruitiness from the aroma is also present in the taste. I get just the tiniest hint of cinnamon near the end of the sip, and I love it in this tea! Funnily enough, I can taste the peanuts from the dry scent, hah! No shells this time, just raw or lightly roasted peanuts. Of course, there’s a coating of honey/molasses over the top of the whole darn thing! Overall, this is a very “thick” tasting tea with a heavy mouthfeel. I’m quite glad I didn’t steep it longer, because it’s quite flavorful even at 2 minutes!
I think this might be my favorite so far of their red teas. I have another packet of Golden Needle so I’ll drink that later to compare! :D
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Grain, Honey, Molasses, Peanut, Raisins
I was feeling like a nice black tea this morning (I miss all of my Yunnans!) and I thought I’d try something new instead of drinking one of the few teas I brought with me from home. So out this one came! I actually think this was one of the teas we sampled in-store, but I’m not positive on that… Anyway! The leaves are dark, medium-sized, and twisted. I didn’t see any flower petals in mine, but it was a small sample size, so that doesn’t surprise me. It smells very sweet and floral, like some kind of flower-scented candy! Somewhat similar to the Violet I tasted yesterday, actually. I considered steeping it for 3 minutes, which is my usual time for black teas. After poking around on Steepster, I saw that the average was 2 minutes and decided to go with that! God, I miss my electric kettle something fierce… :P
The floral in the brewed aroma has toned itself down, which I appreciate. It still smells quite sweet, almost vanilla-y. There’s a little bit of citrusy something in there, too, tangerine I suppose!
Hmm… I’m not sure about this one. I do like the base tea a lot, it has that nice almost chewy grain flavor that I’ve found in all of Shang’s teas so far, which I adore. There’s a little bit of citrus in here, but I find the floral element to be quite overwhelming. I am not a huge fan of floral teas in general, and I think this one is just a little bit much for me. I would probably enjoy this more with either less tea used or a 1-minute steep, unfortunately I only bought the one sample. This probably isn’t one that I’ll purchase, just because I’m not a floral tea person. I’ll try some shorter times for the resteeps and see how they come out! :)
Not going to assign it a rating because I feel I’m biased and I don’t want to drag its overall rating down for people who do like floral teas. :P
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Grain, Hay
Yay, another of my Shang samples! I pretty much picked up all of their “plain” white teas, meaning the non-floral variety. So that includes this one, their White Peony, and their Wild White. I don’t have much experience with white teas in general, so I thought it would be fun to try all of them. So I plucked this little packet out of the cupboard this afternoon when I felt like having one of those white teas. The packet recommended a 1-2 minute brew, but I left it in for an additional 30 seconds after tasting it. I actually did four brews total with the same leaves: 2.5 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes.
This tea is very delicious, and I can definitely see the similarity to their Golden Needle King. It has that same amazing grain/oats taste that I love, but this one is a tad lighter. The texture and lightness conjured up visions of marshmallows (although this isn’t really a sweet tea). I also got a very lovely pastry note that reminded me of my favorite Yunnan teas. Yum! There was, of course, the ubiquitous hay flavor that I have tasted in every white tea so far, I find it to be so comforting and it melded beautifully with the grainy oat flavors.
Overall, this was very similar to Shang’s Golden Needle King, but with a lighter touch and a lovely marshmallowy soft texture. Love it! :)
Flavors: Grain, Hay, Marshmallow, Oats, Pastries
The mail lady was putting my box from Shang on my porch when I got home today. I had to try this straight away, and I’m impressed :-)
The whites I’ve tried lately are so boring. This one has nice flavor, and the liquid is more like black tea. I brewed it for 2 minutes in my new lucky baby kungfu cup.
I can’t really describe the taste, but I love it!
This year’s Special Reserve Green Tea from Shang Tea is unlike any I’ve tried before it. While the common basic tastes and aromas that inhabited this tea in earlier years are present, creating a buttery, brothy, sweet and vegetal brew, the nuances have changed quite a bit. This year, rather than more the dark roasted seaweed tones I’ve gotten from other incarnations, there’s an incredible floral tone in the scent that reminds me of lotus. It reminded a friend of mine of anise/licorice, which I’d say is in the same aroma family, but I’d say it’s a little lighter and more floral than that, hence the lotus. The brew itself is as buttery, rich and umami as any other year, but there’s a note that reminds me quite a bit of broccoli and the subtle lotus tones also inhabit the flavor.
I absolutely love this tea. Special Reserve Green from Shang Tea has been my #1 favorite tea for a while. Man, I can’t get enough of this.
Flavors: Broccoli, Flowers, Umami, Vegetal
This really is a lovely tea. A very nice combination of white and black tea elements, with a nice chewy grain element. This cup is on the cusp of being bitter, I think maybe it was a little overleafed but I just used the whole sample packet. I would consider stocking this one on a permanent basis, but I think I like the Bai Lin just a little bit better, and they’re a bit too similar to have both. :P
Nicole recommended that I go visit Shang Tea while I’m in Kansas City, so we drove there this morning to see what they had to offer. There was a very nice man working there who brewed us up some samples to try and seemed very knowledgeable about their teas. I noticed later that there was a photo on the wall of him in the tea fields. Apparently he goes there about 2 or 3 months out of the year, he told us. I’m not sure whether he was the owner or not, but he was very nice and I wish I had asked him his name. I ended up buying samples of several different teas and a box of some interesting-looking instant mix.
So I ended up steeping this tea three times throughout the day, the first at 3 minutes, then 4 and 5 for the other two. I think this may be the first tea I’ve had that I’ve enjoyed the second and third steeping more than the first. Honestly, I don’t remember that much about the first, as it was in the afternoon. I would describe it as a mixture of black and white teas. The second and (especially) the third steepings were fantastic, with an amazing creamy grain note that reminds me of something, but I can’t quite place it. I would call it similar to rice or cereal grains, and there’s a bit of a hay note as well. The texture is creamy and light. Yum! I may have to try for a fourth steep in the morning…
Flavors: Baked Bread, Grain, Hay, Honey, Molasses
Another of my samples from TeaTiff. I wasn’t really sure what region this tea was from, so I looked it up on their website. Turns out it’s actually fermented from white tea buds which seems unusual. And it’s from the Fujian province. The leaves are quite small and thin, and very dark with a few golden spots. I can’t really tell you much about the smell because everything from this package smells like milk oolong! Heh. I brewed mine for 2 minutes.
The aroma reminds me of a Yunnan tea. There’s a definite bread scent with honey and malt, and something else… Maybe a touch of creaminess? But wow, this doesn’t taste like any other black tea I’ve tried. I can definitely tell that it’s made from white tea. It has that lovely smooth hay flavor, but mixed with some malt and a little bit of a bread. There’s a deep flavor in the background that reminds me of molasses, but without being sweet.
While I did enjoy it, I found the flavor a bit light. I have enough for one more cup, so I think I’ll hold off on a rating until I try this at a 3 minute steep! :)
Flavors: Baked Bread, Hay, Malt, Molasses
I received this in a swap from TeaTiff. Thanks so much for introducing me to Shang! This is a really interesting tea. According to Shang this is made from a white tea bush, which likely explains the “difference” I taste in this. It’s a bit hard for me to describe that difference, but it is so very good. It brews up a reddish amber cup with with a bready, sugary aroma. The first sip is sweet. Brown sugar sweet with a pleasant malty note that becomes a bit more prominent as it cools. This is pretty tea. It tastes pretty and it is starting my stupidly early morning in a lovely way – letting me coast into full consciousness on a sweet note. Thanks so much TeaTiff. This goes on the shopping list.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Malt