Taiwan Tea CraftsEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Second sample of our TTC order that we got around to trying. Steeped this one up at work last week as well. The first thing I noticed—and something I noticed throughout the entire session—was that it smelled kind of like kids’ bubblegum. A tropical fruit, sweet kind smell. This came through in the flavor as well, for me, as well.
The liquor steeped out nice and gold in this one, becoming more amber a few steeps in, and the texture was nice and smooth. This seems like it would taste really good cold.
I continued with leaves these into the following day, and they produced a second day steep that was sweet and cooling in the mouth, warming in the body and a very nice flavor to start the morning with.
Flavors: Fruity, Smooth, Sweet, Tropical
Made a very specific selection of teas to try to TTC recently and this is one of them. Steeped 8 grams of this at work last week with just a quick rinse to help wake up the leaves. The liquor came out an extremely light yellow and produced an immediate camphor flavor and sensation. Very smooth with a sweet, nutty baked goods flavor.
I drank some the next day as well, and got a more golden liquor that was thick and viscous. The flavor was crisp and nicely vegetal, and some of the cooling sensation still remained. I look forward to playing around with the rest of this sample.
Flavors: Camphor, Mint, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet, Thick
This is a bug bitten oolong that shows a lot of different faces as its steeped. Lower temperatures, around 185-190, give a honey-like sweetness, notes of orchid, and a rich syrupy body. At higher temperatures, the tea has more fermentation flavor and the taste and aroma of spiced roasted nuts. As the tea progresses, the toasted nut flavor amplifies and it develops some cinnamon and woodsy notes.
Being a bug bitten tea, there are similarities between it and Oriental Beauty. But the floral honey and fruitiness of Gui Fei give it a greater depth of flavor. I would describe the flavor profile as a bug-bitten Dan Cong. Really enjoyed this lovely, soothing tea.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Fruity, Roasted nuts, Spices
So this is from the GCTTB, but the fifth round. So, I’ve had it for a while now and it’s a little old. There are so many times I’ve gone to drink it but then been enticed by newer things or fancier things, or just stuff that’s a little more convenient. I figured enough was enough, it was time to drink it.
I made this one as an iced tea today, nothing added. It was my first tea of the day, and I really thoroughly enjoyed it. I scribbled notes on my cup in sharpie as I drank it, because I got a lot of nuanced and layered flavour from this one and I knew I’d want to be able to note that properly. So my cup scribbles:
- Light roast, some peanut like notes in there along with that
- Honey top notes and finish but not body
- Body is more fresh cut grass
- Fruity undertones; nectarine, quince, fresh apple
Admittedly, I wish I’d gong fu brewed this BUT it was still really enjoyable for how I did end up steeping it!
This is my third Shan Lin Xi from TTC. Their other two varietals, Shibi and Long Feng Xia, were outstanding and Shibi has become a perennial favorite of mine. This was good, but the least impressive of the bunch. Lighter in flavor and hits less of the high notes.
Dry leaf: dark, dull green. faint hint of citrus in the aroma
1st steep: tangy and crisp with floral overtones
2nd steep: thin body, a bit weak. might not have steeped this long enough.
3rd steep: fruity with some citrusy notes. soft mouthfeel. good flavor, but more subtle than other SLXs
4th steep: a little vegetal with an ever so slight hint of bitterness punctuated by undertones of daffodils and cream
5th steep: creamy and light vegetal flavor. hint of vanilla detected.
Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Vegetal
This is smooth, buttery tea with a nice balance of vegetation and flowers and a rock sugar finish. All good stuff, but nothing that really sets it apart from other Taiwanese oolongs. It has more or less a standard gao shan taste and aroma. The first couple of steeps are light, and then the tea develops more viscosity and body. However it doesn’t hold up to multiple infusions as there is a noticeable drop in flavor after the 3rd steep. This particular harvest seemed a bit weaker in aromatics and flavor than past Ali Shans.
While I enjoyed it, I consider this squarely a middle of the pack green oolong. It had its moments but didn’t blow me away.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Sugar, Vegetal
I bought this tea instead of the winter competition bao zhong which unfortunately wasn’t available this year. TTC assured me that it was on par with the higher grade teas. After tasting it, I have to say they were mostly right.
This tea starts out with a medley of different floral aromas: orchid and lilacs, honeysuckle, and osmanthus. The first steep is gentle, and very sweet. The sweetness grows stronger int he second steep, into a sugarcane like flavor. Around the 3rd steep, the tea shifts to a pleasant green tea-like flavor that I would describe as sweet morning dew.
Though I enjoyed the tea’s progression through steeps, my favorite method of brewing bao zhong is grandpa style and sadly, it left a lot to be desired. The tea’s flavors become muddled and its nuances are lost.
Flavors: Flowers, Vegetal
I didn’t even realize I had this one! It was a 10g sample pack, graciously added in with one of my orders. Can’t complain!
I’ve downed most of this while not really realizing just how quick it was disappearing. That’s always a sign of a tasty tea. Or a busy mind. Let’s go with tasty tea.
This one has a smooth flavour with the most subtle hint of astringency. Usually I’m not huge on astringency, but here it works great. There is a definite stonefruit flavour and something else familiar I can’t quite put my finger on. Overall quite the tasty tea. I’m happy I had this sample.
I brewed this at 97C with 5gr, first in a 150 ml porcelain gaiwan with steeps starting at 45 seconds and then in a 75 ml yixing pot with steeps starting at 20 seconds. I think it responded slightly better to the latter, bringing out the spice notes, but both very pleasant. Full of sweet spices, baked peaches, lychee and citrus peel with a very long and lingering aftertaste that is distinctly a bug-bitten note.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Hazelnut, Lychee, Peach
An interesting tea and enjoyable, even if it runs a bit medicinal for my tastes. The combination of a pronounced wintergreen freshness coupled with sweet potato & tobacco, followed by maple syrup that lingers on the palate long after the cup is finished, it offers a spectrum of almost contradictory notes.
Flavors: Hazelnut, Maple Syrup, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Wood
Enjoying this with my girl, in our beautiful teapot.
1st steep of 1 minute: almost smelling cinnamon from cup. Very light, sweet flavour. Very subtle flavour with short steep time.
2nd steep of 1 minute 45 seconds: roasty oolong scent, delicious. Slightly deeper flavour, not quite as light, but still light for drinking.
3rd steep of 3 minutes: roastier still and even more delicious. This may be my favourite steep.
Taiwan Tea Crafts is just amazing. I have so many black and oolong teas from them that I haven’t even opened yet, but already I want to place another order. I can’t say enough good about them!
Edit: This deserves a re-review!
Baked flavor is much more pleasant when drunk in the afternoon. It still has that medicinal vibe, but it is carrying more depth and flavor than when my previous session. Hard to put into words, but is becoming increasingly enjoyable.
Also, the fruit flavors on this are outstanding. This tea has the strongest and most flavorful hui gan I have ever had in a tea.
Definitely allow time for the tea to breathe and settle down from its baking. Open the package to clear the vacuum seal, then close and allow it to breathe a little. I would also recommend drinking this in the late morning or afternoon. The flavor is much more approachable that way.
The fruit flavors on this thing are incredible. I am really starting to enjoy the give-and-take from the slightly bitter, medicinal bake and the fruitbasket that is the hui gan.
[PLEASE SEE SECOND REVIEW BELOW. KEEPING THIS REVIEW UP TO SAVE INITIAL THOUGHTS AND FLAVOR NOTES]
Dry leaf (NUT, HERBAL): roasted peanut and peanut shell, dill, bitter green
Smell (SMOKE, MEDICINAL, VEGETAL): antiseptic, burnt toast, baked rolls, bitter greens; notes of buttered green beans; hint of apricot
Taste (MEDICINAL, BAKED, VEGETAL, FRUIT): burnt toast, baked rolls, cinnamon-raisin bread; pleasant bitter greens, buttery, green beans, cilantro. Aftertaste is thick and fruity – stonefruit (apricot) and tropical fruit (pineapple and mango)
Not quite sure where to place this one. The leaves are certainly “deeply baked.” By the end of the session, you have black – BLACK – leaves. The real question, I think, is does this baking improve the standard tieguanyin experience?
I’m going with no. The baked flavor is weird. It is noticeably antiseptic-like and medicinal, with some burnt-toast thrown in. I don’t mind char or smokiness when it works, but this just didn’t. It wasn’t awful or unpalatable, but just weird and sort of flat. The bake/roast/char flavors did not carry other flavors and develop complexity.
That said, there were some nice TGY flavors happening. The aftertaste, in particular, was thick and fruity. A very nice treat. So, overall, certainly not a bad tea. It was an interesting experience, but not one I’m going back to.
As a final note, I’m not ready to write off roasted/baked TGY just yet. Thinking of trying another vendor to see if different processing makes a difference. But, frankly, I’m missing the rich experience of a green TGY. A lot of the complexity, I feel, was killed or overridden by the bake.
So…we decided to have this in case it was on that we needed to “get out of the way.” Got it from Haveteawilltravel’s stash. We rip open the 5g sample and it smells like…yard work. I say it smells like yard clippings, SO says it smells like yard clippings and sweaty man. I cannot entirely disagree. Keep in mind, neither of us has had ginseng before. The cat flees the room. There’s no turning back now.
The leaves are dark and rolled. I decide to treat this like any other oolong. Wash. 20 second steep. Slightly reddish, darker amber color. We sip. It basically tastes like it smells. It just leaves a weird, unidentifiable taste behind. Whether this is the taste of ginseng or aged oolong, I have no idea.
I refill the gaiwan with water. The SO asks why. This is our only sample. Gotta follow through!
The flavor is stronger in the next steep, and there is some bitterness. The following steeps just taste the same. This tea has been an experience, but it’s not one we feel a need to repeat.
I bought a sample of this tea along with a little clay pot from Taiwan Tea Crafts. I’ve determined that this pot will be for darker oolongs, including wuyi and yancha. Still in the hunt for a clay pot that pours quickly enough for young sheng. The dry leaf of this tea has an aroma of a dry autumn leaf pile – a note I often pick up from roasted teas. After a rinse, the leaf smelled roasty with a bit of a hint of coconut.
Rather awesomely, the first three steeps tasted quite a bit like toasted coconut. Maybe I was tasting the orchid note that Shui Xian is supposed to have, but I was just getting toasted coconut. I also picked up on a bit of a mineral taste and maybe some honey sweetness as well.
For the rest of the session, the coconut drops out, replaced by a floral note which makes me think that I may have just been tasting and interpreting an intense floral flavor as coconut – but that’s still what I got from it for sure. Flavors get a little bit lighter but remain balanced and sweet. The occasional nutty roasty note reminds me that this is a very well roasted tea – done with a lot of skill I’d say.
The first really good shui xian I’ve had and it’s from Taiwan! When I make another order from Taiwan Tea Crafts, I definitely might pick some of this up, as it’s a very fair price. I got in a bit of trouble for encouraging people to pick this up in teachat by claiming that it tastes like toasted coconut ;)
Flavors: Coconut, Floral, Honey, Nutty, Sweet, Toasted
Really excellent, complex baozhong. Not overwhelmingly floral like some tend to be, but still far more flavorful than average. Delicious!
Flavors: Almond, Bitter Melon, Cinnamon, Cream, Dried Fruit, Earth, Eucalyptus, Floral, Gardenias, Honey, Mineral, Pear, Pecan, Spices, Sweet, Vegetal, Zucchini
I’m surprised Shibi tea has managed to fly under the radar for so long. IMO, this is one of the most underrated Taiwanese oolongs out there. It encompasses the flavor characteristics of some of the best high mountain teas.
The scent of the wet tea leaves is floral with subtle notes of coconut and tropical fruit. The first couple of infusions are quite light and merely tease your tongue with hints of flavor. Around the 3rd/4th steeps is where the tea really begins to show its stuff. A creamy body rich with flowery nectar, stonefruits, apple, and a hint of coconut in the finish.
I tried this alongside the spring harvest, and enjoyed the fuller, more luscious flavor of the winter crop. In fact, I’m finding myself preferring the winter harvest for Taiwanese tea in general for the clean and smooth taste.
Flavors: Apple, Flowers, Nectar, Tropical
I finished off this tea 3 weeks ago and still can’t stop thinking about how good it was. This is an elegant oolong, light but full of subtlety and depth. The dry leaf smells flowery and bright. Strong notes of hyacinth waft out from the wet leaves in the teapot. The tea itself is a delicious medley of lychee like fruitiness, flowers, and mineral sweetness leaving behind a long lasting aftertaste. There’s are undertones of tart citrus and lingering balsamic notes. The taste is fresh, clean, and delicate. I enjoyed how the flavor changes with every sip of this tea. Definitely a tea you need to sit down and pay attention to in order to fully appreciate it.
Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Lychee
Thank you Andrew! I’ve been meaning to try this.
The other two reviews are pretty close, though this is not quite sweet as I thought it could be. It’s a little bit drying, and it’s fairly vegetal along the creamy plantain body gong fu. Think banana leaves vegetal with a typical Jin Xuan texture. I am getting the first flush Darjeeling taste big time in its grassiness, which is pretty impressive though that taste is hit or miss for me. The smell is fruitier than the taste, though not by much. First steep was 10 sec, and I’ve been in the tens all morning. I liked it more in the first few steeps. Next time, I should do it western to see what I get. I also should not be sick. Maybe then I might get more dessert and fruit qualities.
I’ve had this tea sitting for two months unopened. So finally got around to trying it out today.
This tea is AMAZING!!!
When I opened the bag the fragrance of the tea was sooo good. Kind of a bit like a black tea, a bit like a green, fruity and fresh. I couldn’t stop sniffing it.
I brewed this at 80C for 2 min. I usually brew my whites at 90. Some use 70C. I figured I would change things up and go inbetween.
First infusion was intoxicating. Sweet and creamy (like in the Jin Xuan oolongs), with a fruity flavour (a bit like grape) and slightly malty. The sweetness was not overly strong but it had caramel notes. There was a little fruity tang to it too. I also got nutty notes like in green tea.
2nd infusion was more caramel and fruit. Less creamy/nutty.
There were elements of this tea that was like black, then white, and then green. What a unique tea! Glad I bought this one!
Flavors: Caramel, Creamy, Fruity, Malt, Nutty, Sweet