Tao Tea Leaf
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Recent Tasting Notes
This morning’s exciting review covers a brand new (to me) pu’erh for which there is always much rejoicing at Built from Ink and Tea. We love our pu’erh, and getting to try new pu’erh is a treat. The company from which it came, Tao Tea Leaf, primarily focuses on Chinese teas, and this vanilla mint-flavored shou pu’erh is no exception. Having taken what appears to be a young, ripe pu’erh and added vanilla bean and mint leaves, the result is an smooth and refreshing beverage.
I begin by adding leaves and just-boiled water to my gaiwan for a quick rinse. While the directions for this tea make suggestions for a western brewing style, I have chosen to prepare it in a gong fu style with a gaiwan in an attempt to bring out even more flavor over time. As I pour the water over the leaves again for their first, thirty-second steep, the aroma wafts from the gaiwan to my nose. It is intoxicating, smelling strongly of mint. Sweet, smooth notes from the vanilla temper the sharpness of the mint. As the first cup of pu’erh is prepared, my only concern lies with just how much the mint will dominate the flavor of this tea. Too much mint would defeat the purpose of having vanilla and pu’erh in the mix!
The first sip puts aside all of my concerns. The mint flavor hits immediately and with strength, but is smoothed by the vanilla. The vanilla enough sweetness the tea goes down easily but not so much that it tastes sugared by any means. Quickly, cup one is gone, and I steep the second cup. In the second cup, the mint and vanilla are more balanced. While not overwhelming, the mint had been fairly strong in the first cup. Now, the two are evenly spread throughout the flavor. And how is the pu’erh? Its earthiness makes for a good base to these two natural flavors, vanilla and mint. I would have been okay with the pu’erh flavor being stronger than it is, because the flavor is not very prominent. Mostly, the pu’erh can be tasted in the aftertaste and if one seeks-out the earthiness below the cool mint.
By the third and fourth cups, the mint and vanilla flavors have diminished. They are still present, but now the pu’erh has come forward and reveled in its earthiness. This cup tastes delicious. This is the cup for which I was waiting. All three flavors are now balanced, and, while I would not call the pu’erh “rich,” it is earthy enough to provide an excellent addition to the flavor profile. I highly recommend this tea. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate it a 95/100.
This one is much better with a normal steep time. It still tastes the same but not as bold and thick and dark.
I’m getting malty flavours of bread, sweetness, honey like flavours, dates, no so specifically stone fruit though.
It is very light and smooth with no bittness or astringency but at the same time I would say it is a moderate boldness on the black tea scale.
Recd this one from the generous Scribbles.
The dry tea smells strongly of bread and dates. Very thick stone fruit scent. Also a slight alcoholic fermented smell, but a pleasant one.
I accidentally oversteeped this one by quite a few minutes becuase I am at work and got distracted. On first sip it is super bitter- I am blaming this on the over steep. But after it cools significantly the bittness mellows a bit.
This is a strong black tea, bold, slightly malty. Strong flavours of bread. Not so much stone fruit or date flavours. It is reminding me of burnt coffee grounds actually.
Reserving the rating for when I make is one properly. I am thinking the strong flavours are a byproduct of the steep time.
Thank you Momo for the sale! I thought this was a one serving sample but it looks like it had 2 1/2 or 3 tsps. Into the infuser they all go anyway. I’m not sure why this even has ‘golden’ in the name – the leaves are equal parts gold and black. The mug was surprisingly dark very shortly after the infuser went in.. a deep red cup in the end. Fitting, as there is a wine like quality to the flavor. Hints of honey and malt. Definitely not one of those super honey golden yunnans. This one is dark. A little like molasses too. Very different from other Yunnans I’ve tried, unless it’s just the amount of leaves I used. The second steep tasted exactly the same.
Steep #1 // few min after boiling // 3 min
Steep #2 // few min after boiling // 3 min
OK, scribbles, this was worth it, if for nothing else, to watch my husband’s face when I stuck the cup under his nose. (Ewwww! Smells like feet!)
It does not taste like feet.
The rice scent is strong with this one, padawan. I’m not catching the usual pu-erh earthiness, just savory starchiness. For a breakfast tea, maybe not; for an accompaniment to stir fry or pad thai, fine and fitting.
I wonder if second steep would cooperate with a little sweetener…
3g 200F 3min
this tea is great. its chocolaty and earthy, some spice and touch of smoke, just a bit. some people who dont like smoky teas should not be afraid to try it. Not much sweet potato detected, just tiny hint.
For some reason this tea reminds me (i could be wrong)
Im so glad i picked this tea on the legendary 50% sale in July. it was a joint order and Marzipan made it happen.
Will pick it on next sale( i got 1oz size just to try)
Well. I am am going to give this review thingy a try. Steepster hasn’t been working in such a long time. I can’t even remember the last time I reviewed a tea on here. Becuase I am part of generation impatient I am only going to give this one try.
This tea is from the lovely Scribbles. When I first opened the package, the smell of malty tobacco wafted over me. I love it. It kind of makes me laugh becuase it is titled a Gongfu tea but the instructions call for 1tsp steeped for 2-3 minutes. Ha ha. But that is ok, I don’t gongfu anyway.
The tea brewed up really light. My mug this morning is clear, so the colour looked extremely pale. I was a bit worried I either did not use enough tea or that I didn’t brew long enough. The taste of the tea is wonderful. It is a very nice gongfu tea. Malty, with some sweetness. A hint of honey flavour. There is a really nice light, sweet aftertaste. Even though the colour of the brew is light, there is a moderately bold flavour.
I am really liking this one.
This is my last untried Tao Tea Leaf “sample” (it’s a big pouch) from scribbles. I’ve enjoyed the other three teas, so I had reasonably high hopes for this one. The leaves reminds me of a Keemun – they’re thin and short to medium in length, and very dark in color. Dry scent is musty/dusty hay or straw with some oats. I let the leaves steep for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
The aroma definitely says “Fujian” to me – it has that dill note along with bread and maybe a touch of fruit. Hmm, flavor-wise this tea has a lot going on. I taste bread and sweet potato first, and the sweet potato has a touch of cinnamon on it. The bread seems to be rather buttery and has dill sprinkled over the top. There’s some fruit here as well, and it’s reminding me of raisins, either regular or golden. Deep in the background, I can taste some dark unsweetened cocoa. And in the aftertaste, I get a mild vegetal note, like a cooked-to-death green bean. The overall texture is very smooth and creamy, yum! This tea kind of reminds me of a combination of Yunnan and Fujian teas, maybe a touch more toward the Fujian side.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Creamy, Dill, Green Beans, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes
This tea was really tasty, I had a sample. It tasted roasted for sure, so it was good for the cool weekend we had here in PA. I see it isn’t cheap, which makes sense, as the ones that steep this well many times usually aren’t. That said, I am not totally sure I would purchase it. As good as it is, there are many I have tasted with similar “tasty roasty oolong” flavor (for lack of better adjectives in my arsenal to explain it) that are less expensive. But, I recommend people give it a try if they can.
Yesterday I enjoyed gongfu session of this tea. its not my first try, but didnt log it for some reason. i picked 1 oz size with that crazy 50% sale in August? Marzipan organized that join order. it was an awesome experience.
back to the tea.
6g 100ml gaiwan 195F
rinse/ 5/7/10/10/10/15sec etc
This DHP is exceptionally smooth and sweet. Its not heavily roasted, so no ashy charcoal taste. wet leaves smell heavily of burnt sugar and caramel. Yum.
Well, I had a selection from Blodeuyn’s swap, now there must be a contender from scribbles’s! Just kidding, ladies. :P But for serious, this came from scribbles. I’ve had a Tan Yang from TeaVivre, so I was curious to see how this one compares to it. The leaves are small, thin, and slightly curly. They’re dark chocolate brown all over with just a few smatterings of gold. Dry scent is very musty hay and grain with a touch of honey sweetness. I steeped a heaping teaspoon of leaf for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
Once brewed, it smells like dark toasted wheat bread with molasses and fruit preserves. As it cooled, I started to smell a very slightly floral note. Yum, this tea is so rich and creamy! It’s very grainy (oats?) and pastry-like with a strong nutty influence. It’s definitely a richer nut, maybe macadamia? I dunno, but it’s tasty! There’s also sweetness with a touch of floral, like wildflower honey. And perhaps the teensiest touch of golden raisin? Lastly, a very mild herb/spice note, something similar to cinnamon or anise, but it’s hard to say since it’s so light. Delicious, creamy goodness!
Flavors: Anise, Cinnamon, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Floral, Honey, Nutty, Oats, Pastries, Sweet
This cup scared me a little bit with its dark brown color. I haven’t had great experience with darker puerhs, but I’m trying to branch out a little. The scent is familiar: rice, hay and a little bit of something fishy. I typically stay far, far away from fishy puerhs, but once it’s cooled a little bit, this tea loses a lot of that fishiness.
Sipping… this tea seems to be dominated by two main flavors: rice and earth. I don’t necessarily taste that fresh hay that I’ve had with the greener rice puerhs, but this one is very smooth, starchy and sweet. It’s far more tasty than I thought it would be. I’m really surprised at how smooth and sweet it is. The earthy flavor is nice in that it isn’t too much like dirt. Given the choice between this one and a green rice puerh, I’d likely still pick the green one, but I’m very happy to have seen what the other side is like.
My sweetie has a random sore throat that started yesterday. He thinks it must be from pushing himself too hard on the treadmill and sprinting too much. So this morning he asked me to make him a tea with honey to soothe his poor throat. He wanted a black tea, so I was a dear and made him one of my favorites – Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black. He says he really likes it! :)
Anyway, this tea! Scribbles sent me a sample in our swap, she is lucky enough to live near the retail store! These large pouches are too big to fit into my “bag o’ black tea samples” so I actually chose this tea deliberately. The leaves themselves are rather thin and of medium length. They’re very dark brown, almost black in color. Dry scent reminds me a lot of white tea – hay, raw grains, honey. I steeped a teaspoon of leaf for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
Once brewed, this tea smells just like fresh-baked bread! It’s very rich and buttery, yum. The taste is also quite bready and reminds me of pastries. There’s a raw grain note that makes me think of oats, and just a smattering of honey over the top. I’m picturing some lovely puff pastry concoction with oat streusel and honey glaze! I’m getting a slightly dusty mouthfeel, but it’s not enough to give me any bother.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Hay, Honey, Malt, Oats, Pastries, Sweet
This lovely black tea “sample” (aka entire pouch) came from scribbles. Thanks dear! Now I don’t have a lot of experience with Keemun, but I have enjoyed those that I’ve tried and I’m always on the lookout for more. The leaves of this tea are super tiny! They’re short and wiry and quite broken up. Dry scent is sweet bread with some hay-like notes. The first time, I steeped it for 3 minutes, but it came out a tad bitter. So I made another cup and shortened the steep to 2.5 minutes. Perfect!
This tea is very tasty! The main flavor I get is tasty bread and raw grains (oats?) along with an almost hay-like flavor similar to white tea. There’s the smallest hint of mineral or smoke in the background which helps to ground this tea. Then in the aftertaste, I get a mouthful of honey! Om nom nom. Definitely a very light-bodied and refreshing black tea for the afternoon or early evening. :)
Flavors: Baked Bread, Creamy, Grain, Hay, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Smoke, Sweet
This tea very much fell under what I expected. It has a rather simple flavour on the tongue: light, yet smokey. The aroma was fairly mild and reminded me of a weak incense. The after taste in my throat had a slight bitterness: it is quite pleasant for those that enjoy this sort of flavour (I do). The leaves are good for multiple steepings without losing flavour.
If you are seeking a fruity/perfumed/complex flavour, then there are much better options. But if you are looking for a tea to refresh and cleanse your palate after a savoury meal, this is a great choice.
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I stopped by the shop on Friday whilst running errands and picked up a cuppa. So much yum!!!
Now, I could have very well brought home a whole bag of it for double the price of one cup but I really didn’t wanna bring MOAR tea into the house when I am trying my darndest to sip down my (slightly damp, but still, I can’t bear to throw it out) supply as it is. Atleast not until I know if I like it or not.
Either way, now I know that this is a highly delish tea filled with dark chocolate and malt notes, with a very slight hay-ish backround. There were also moments where I thought I detected a subtle pepper but then it was gone faster than I could blink so don’t quote me on that!
Would love to try this in my gaiwan :)
I’m not sure I possess the adjectival vocabulary needed to pinpoint the differences between Jin Ping Gong Fu and Tao’s Tan Yang Gong Fu black teas: both are wonderful, scribbles! There’s a few days’ distance between my samplings of both, but the unsweet chocolate personality that made Tan Yang so tasty is stick-to-your-tongue sweet in this Jin Ping. Lip-licking sweet, but not artificial or cloying. I continue to be amazed at the spectrum of flavors that can be pulled out of simple black teas.
This tea smells so good! I’m picking up on a syrupy sort of sweetness, some dark berries and sweet potato. I love it when teas have a really delicious scent, it makes it that much more exciting to drink!
Sipping… mmm, this is just as I thought it would taste. Sweet potato, black pepper and honey. It almost reminds me of water crackers with pepper. It is on the verge of being perhaps a little bit too peppery for me, but it’s not enough to scare me away. There are times when I pick up on a more creamy note, but it fades quickly and leaves behind that sharp, spicy taste. I still think this is very enjoyable and would drink this again. Thank you Tao Tea Leaf!
When I received a packet of tea treats from*scribbles,* my first thought was, “No…I shall be noble and drink up the dribs and drabs that are already open.”
Yeah, that lasted about 30 seconds.
I like this one! The leaves are long and ribbony, first steep was as bright and coppery as a brand new penny, and plenty of lightly sweet malt and chocolate to think about. Second steep (western style; sorry, I’m a barbarian :) at twice the minutes was still tasty, just had to think a little harder.
This is on the lighter end of the wake-up scale; be sure you’ve had a decent night’s sleep if you drink it in the morning, but if you’re already somewhat awake, you’ll be sufficiently alert to enjoy its subtleties.