Tao Tea Leaf
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Recent Tasting Notes
Thank you Boychik for this sample. This was quite good. I only steeped this four times because I have to watch my caffeine tonight. It started out with a strong roasted taste, not sure if I should call it roasted barley or just roasted. This flavor began to evolve and dissipate over the four steeps I put it through. There is still some roasted taste on the fourth steep. I think this a high quality oolong.
I brewed this four times in a 180ml teapot with 6g leaf and 185 degree water. I steeped it for 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, and 20 sec. If I wasn’t watching caffeine today I am sure I could have gotten four more steeps out of the tea.
Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!
After cleaning, writing, and baking some banana bread, I figured this tea would be a good way to relax. Many thanks to Tao for giving me a sample when I visited his shop a month ago.
For some reason, this tea isn’t listed on the Tao Tea Leaf site – so I have no idea what the correct steeping parameters are. For now, I just did my standard thing for greens: 1 tsp per 8 oz, 80C, for 3 minutes.
The results were surprising. The dry leaf was sweet and fruity – I didn’t get the raspberry note that Polly mentioned below; instead, it seemed more to me like stonefruit.
The dry leaf is long, dark sage green, and tubular. Because of the length, it was difficult to measure, so I might have overleafed this.
Once the tea was done steeping, I was greeted by that same fruity scent.
The liquor was fairly light but darkened as the tea sat and cooled. I took my first sip after it had a chance to cool down and….
Interesting! It reminds me an awful lot of Nina’s Paris’s “Demain” tea – the green tea with raspberry and strawberry flavouring. It’s got that same musty, dusty undertone I’ve sensed in that tea, and the fruitiness is definitely similar. I would not be surprised at all if this tea variety (Liu An Gua Pian) were revealed to be the base of Nina’s greens.
I have enough left for maybe a largish cup. I’m not quite sure if I’ll restock this, but I’m glad I got a sample.
Sweet, super malty, sweet potato, a bit meaty, slightest trace of bitterness. Smooth, medium body. A touch of astringency that builds very slowly. Toward the bottom of the cup, a honey note starts to peek out.
I’ve been drinking a lot of very similar Chinese black teas lately, and they are all different but in such subtle ways that I’m not sure I can capture those differences in my tasting notes, in a way that’s meaningful (particularly for me, when I look back and decide what to restock.)
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Meat, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
There is a good amount of mango and cream present in the fragrance and flavour, but also a bunch of hibiscus, which just seems unnecessary and out of place.
This isn’t bad or anything – as far as mango tisanes go, this one has one of the stronger mango flavours – but I’ll probably pass it on to my sweetie, who actually likes hibiscus in tea.
Flavors: Cream, Hibiscus, Mango, Tart
This tea is incredible.
The dry leave is small, black twists, and smells very faintly sweet and fruity.
Steeped, an intense bouquet of flavours and fragrances comes out. The start of the sip is just a touch bitter, with notes of smoke, tobacco and lots of dried fruit- apples, apricots, plums and sour cherry. There’s a tartness that’s mellowed beautifully by the bitterness and tobacco, and then toward the end of the sip a wonderful sweetness blossoms.
By the third steep the tartness has mellowed even further, leaving mostly pleasant bitterness and sweet. There’s also a pine note that’s emerging on the nose – not quite smoked pine, but not quite fresh cut either. Evocative of an old, pine panelled cabin in the winter, warmed by a wood stove.
This tea is really intense and thick, without even a hint of astringency. I’m making it in my little gaiwan, and sipping it from a tiny cup, but I kind of wish I just had a big mug of this that I could drink in big gulps.
I will definitely be stocking up on this when I make my next Tao Tea Leaf purchase, because my 10g sample is going to go fast.
15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 90s After seven steeps I think these leaves are about done.
Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Bitter, Cherry, Dried Fruit, Pine, Plums, Smoke, Sweet, Tart, Tobacco
This is beautiful. Intensely floral – lilac and peony, very smooth, medium body, with some tangy grassy vegetal notes on the finish that intensify after the sip is done. Hints of sweetness.
I haven’t had a tieguanyin recently so I can’t really say how this compares to other ones, or lower grades, but I’m really enjoying this cup a lot.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Smooth, Tangy
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
My last cup of Black tea before I take pain killers. D:
But this was a great tea to start my morning out with. As horrible as I know I’ll feel today, I still feel comforted by the fact that I have so many awesome teas to brighten up my day. Yeah, I know it’s not like a person or anything. But when you don’t have much else to enjoy, the little things become the big things. (: And instead of just thinking of the bad, I’d rather enjoy the good while I still can. And this tea and Read My Lips have been greatly enjoyed today! :D
Also!! It’s cloudy today-which also helps! ^^
Anyway, this is the last of my sample, sadly. I really do love how bready and sweet it is. Not sure that I tasted grapes in this one before, but I do today! It’s a nice touch (:
Thank you again for the sample, Boychik!
I will have to pick up more of this soon!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Grapes, Honey, Sweet
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
Well crap, this was in my untrieds box, but I have tried it before. I steeped this for 3 min at 96C, and it’s totally mediocre – a bit bitter and astringent, kind of generic tasting. But I see that last time I had this it had a really amazing finish, which this cup does not have, and that Ubacat recommended trying a lower temperature.
Might need to try resteeping and/or making a fresh up when I finish this one up.
Hrrm, resteep of these leaves isn’t much better. And I think I want something else for my next cup.
I really need to check Steepster before making… anything, really. Might as well take advantage of the collected wisdom here (and sometimes my own notes!)
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.