Tao Tea Leaf
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Recent Tasting Notes
I bought this a while back during their 50% off sale, and yesterday Stephanie was here, saw it and commanded me to drink it. So, I am!
Karsten came in right after the first rinse and said it smelled like feet. It really did! And, at that point I was a little worried because I’m not so big on feet. I ended up rinsing three times and letting the leaves rest for a while. The fourth steep was really good though! It doesn’t taste like it smells. It’s a little odd, but odd in a good way. I am always proud of myself when I try something new and then like it. It’s like all that preaching I have done to my kids wasn’t a big lie. :D
It’s noon and this is my first tea of the day, and people are lucky they haven’t died by now because I was feeling pretty beastly. But, after a couple of infusions of this I am feeling much better. I could see me restocking this.
I had this yesterday in-store from Tao himself, and he told me later that he was surprised by my choice since he didn’t recall seeing me in his store before, and he doesn’t consider Jin Jun Mei a “beginner” tea. (Ooh, so flattered!)
I’ve had only one other Jin Jun Mei, and that one had a really rich chocolate/cocoa note. This one was a bit more malty and molasses-like. I don’t know if that’s because of the difference in vendors or because there was a substantial amount of leaf in my cup – far more than when I brew at home. However, it was quite tasty!
Dry leaf is light in colour, smells like hay, animals, barn yard, slightly musty.
Steeped leaf is green. Hay, smoke, sticky rice, must.
Liquor is clear and gold. Rice is the dominant fragrance.
Rinse, let sit, 30s, watery, rice, like congee. Hint of sweet, touch of earth. A touch of vegetal on the finish, very subtle.
35s, Tuo is starting to break up more, very similar to first steep but there’s fermentation flavour on the finish
45s, 50s, 35s combined. Earthy, rich, mushrooms, astringent. Pretty intensely bitter.
30s, sweet, mushroomy, rice
Flavors: Astringent, Barnyard, Bitter, Earth, Hay, Mushrooms, Musty, Rice, Smoke, Sweet
In the birthday package Albertocanfly sent me over a month ago, she included this tea. She mentioned not being able to figure out the best way to make it (though I think she figured something out eventually), and wanted to see if I liked it or could find a way to make it better. xD
Well, the answer to both of her questions is, no. xD
Honestly, this one just tastes like wood to me. Nothing else at all. Didn’t even oversteep it. It’s just…just one of those black teas. :P
Glad I got to try another from Tao Tea Leaf though! One thing I won’t have to order from them! XD Thanks for the sample, Albertocanfly!
The dry leaf is long, wirey and dark. It doesn’t have a strong smell, just faint floral and vegetal notes. The steeped leaf smells much the same, but unfurls to pieces of green leaves with a reddish tinge.
The liquor is a clear, bright amber, and smells sweet, nutty and floral. I steeped this according to the package directions, 3g in boiling water, for 2:30.
The taste is sweet and floral, with a hint of bitterness, and a sharpness that I associate with astringency, but the mouth feel is smooth and round. There’s traces of nuttiness, but not as much as I was expecting – I can maybe pick out some almond on the finish, but it’s not distinct enough to name as almond if that’s not what I was expecting.
As it cools though, the flavours improve, become more full mouth, and the promised almond is showing itself more.
I tried a second steep of the leaves in 88C water, but even with quite a long steep, the flavour is rather flat.
This was nice, but not as unique as I was expecting, and from what I recall, quite expensive. I’ll have to try my first cup steeped in cooler water, and maybe try this gongfu style, but right now, I don’t feel like this was very good value for the money.
Flavors: Almond, Bitter, Floral, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet
Thank you so much boychik for the sample!
I really love rice shou. This is a particularly nice one. It may not be as fancy or have as many layers of flavor as you get in other shou, but something so satisfying about the rice essence. It’s almost like having something full of carbs, you know? Like when you are craving comfort food! It’s like a hug in a cup :)
Time to try another lapsang! I must say, I’m a bit nervous for this one after not liking the lapsang from TeaVivre, but too bad! This is a sample from Dexter. The leaves are extremely small and short, and quite thin as well. They so smell quite smoky, but it’s a pleasant smoke like a campfire combined with smoked meat.
Hm… The steeped tea has a much stronger smoke smell, and it’s veering more toward charcoal but still has some of that savory character. Hm… Well I definitely prefer this one to the other lapsang I tried. I still don’t love it, but it’s better. There’s a strong woody flavor (which makes sense) and it reminds me of scotch a bit. I wish there was more of that smoked meat that was in the aroma, the smoke here is much harsher and it’s almost mineral. I added a touch of maple syrup, and it definitely does make this much more tasty.
Flavors: Mineral, Smoke, Wood
This sample is from Dexter. I’ve had a couple of golden needle tea before, and I must say this one looks completely different visually than the others. When I heard golden needle, I expect to see pure buds that are slightly puffy with pointed ends with an allover golden color. This tea is definitely not that. The leaves are medium size and quite thin and wiry. They twist and curl around quite a bit, and they’re half golden and half dark grey/brown. Dry scent is slightly sweet and bready with malty notes.
Mm, the steeped tea certainly smells very Yunnan. It has that slightly savory bread and sweet potato combination with perhaps a touch of smoked meat. Wow, this has quite a powerful flavor after 3 minutes. It’s not bitter, but it’s approaching those lines. Definitely a savory tea, with the substantial sweet potato notes that I generally find in a pure bud Yunnan. There’s a bready thickness along with a touch of smokiness. I can taste a touch of raw oats in the aftertaste.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Meat, Oats, Smoked, Sweet Potatoes
Okay,first off, I’m watching this documantary about animals with fake legs. It’s on Netflix. Called “Nature: My bionic Pet”. If you are ever sad or bored, you seriously have to watch it. It’s just so cool and the animals are adorable!
Also, this freakin’ video is amazing, and It just really makes me want a handicapped pig. xD Just watch. Kinda long-but worth it! It’s just adorable!
It just really makes me want a pig now…I love their “oinks”!
Now about the tea! Sorry, but it was just important that I posted that video. Totally made my night!
This tea is pretty freakin’ good too! I love the bready aroma and taste this one has. There’s a lot of sweetness to it, much like honey. There’s no bitterness whatsoever. A really enjoyable cup. In a super good sale I’d definitely pick up more of this!! Thank you soooo much for the sample, Boychik! :D
Flavors: Baked Bread, Honey, Smooth, Sweet
Well, after having that lovely bai hao earlier, I wanted more! This sample came from Blodeuyn, and I’ve had it for a while as well. Clearly I’m a slacker when it comes to tasting swap teas in a timely manner. The leaves look almost identical to the other bai hao – they’re medium-length and twisty and quite fragile. Dry scent is hay and autumn leaves with a touch of sweetness.
Steeped aroma has strong hay notes, but also something resembling pastry and some honey. The flavor is also strong on a combination of hay and pastry notes. There’s also a roasty autumn leaf flavor here. I must admit, I’m missing the strong honey notes that I found in TeaVivre’s version, and it’s hard to enjoy this tea as much after trying that one. This isn’t a bad tea, it just can’t hold a candle to the other. :(
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Hay, Pastries, Roasted
I went into Tao Tea Leaf today and picked up far more teas than I was planning. This is the first of that lot.
My first sip was kind of meh. A touch of bitterness and astringency, and that sort of generic black tea taste. My second sip I burned my mouth. I was feeling a bit disappointed, but then third sip… oh my. The sip itself is nothing too interesting – same as my first impression, but the finish on this tea is magnificent. Sweet potato and corn and sweetness and malt. I wanted to sip this slowly, to savour the lingering finish, but I also wanted to keep sipping it the moment the finish started to fade. Suffice to say this cup didn’t last long.
Fingers crossed that I can get a second good steep out of these leaves.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Corn Husk, Malt, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
A generous sample from Tao Tea Leaf that I’m delighted to have received because it is so good. I’ve actually only rated a few teas this high. It has a fairly rich flavor and extra smooth and satisfying mouth feel. Deep fruit notes, apricot and lychee. Since I don’t sweeten my teas, when I run across one like this that’s naturally sweet it is extra special. Honey-ish sweetness but softer and smoother than honey. Compared to this tea, honey seems tart. It’s a beautiful flavor, not a lot of complex notes but more like beautifully harmonic chords. I’m putting this in my favorites box for times when I can use a flavor-smile.
The second steep had a consistent flavor profile though far more subtle than the first.
Thank you Boychik for this sample. This is a nice tea. The strong note is roasted barley but it is not too strong. It has a very pleasant taste to it. I am afraid I was too lazy this morning to brew this gongfu style. I brewed it western style.
I brewed this once in an 18oz teapot with 6g leaf and 190 degree water for 3 min.
Flavors: Roasted Barley
Since I already mentioned nausea in my post, I figured I might as well just post this one. xD
I have been SUPER excited about trying this tea, so a few days ago I gave it a shot…
And apparently my timing was super wrong because I started getting sick in the middle of drinking it, and by the end of the first cup I felt too bad to re-steep.
I have been pretty sad about not being able to fully enjoy this tea. But from the few minutes I wasn’t sick, I gathered that this tea tasted a lot like honey and malt.
That’s pretty much all I had a chance to notice, sadly :(
But I really did love this tea for those few minutes!
If they ever have a super good sale again I have to order this one! It was absolutely divine! Just wish I could have enjoyed it more! D:
Edit: Forgot to say! TONS of thanks for the generous QueenofTarts for a sample of this tea! ^^
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Sweet
Both dry and steeped leaf smell musty, like old books.
One quick rinse and then first steep, 100ml, 40 seconds, boiling water. The liquor is very dark brown.
My first impression is bitterness, followed by earth and must. Not really feeling this steep at all.
2nd, 15 seconds. Not great yet, but developing. Less bitter, a bit richer tasting, with the puerh numbness starting to peek in. Still missing some dimension.
20s, 25s, 30s. This isn’t developing much with subsequent steeps. It’s totally drinkable, just really boring. You know how sometimes a black tea just tastes like tea and there are no real discernible notes that aren’t “tea”? This is kind of like that – it tastes like generic puerh.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Musty
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…