Tao Tea Leaf
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Recent Tasting Notes
Not exactly a leisurely Saturday, but after a week of work insanity, elder care runs, and a phone…that…never…seems….to…stop…ringing… I can at least back off from full throttle to a gentle chug-chug. And while doing so, I’m really digging this tea scribbles sent me. With milk, it turns rich and caramelly. Very, very nice.
This is my second time trying this tea, and I have to say I’m not a fan. The first time I tried it, I used about 2/3 of the sample package to brew 1 small pot (24 oz) of tea. This time, I used the remaining portion of tea (probably 1-2 tsp) for a single 8-oz cup, and it’s still not much to write home about.
I’m really surprised by the dustiness and lack of vegetal notes in this tea. It’s a tad sweet, perhaps, but that’s about it – no brightness at all, or even any astringency.
I purchased this sample from Tao about a week and a half ago. Unfortunately, the sample package didn’t contain any steeping instructions so I had to play it by ear.
Dry leaf: Long and spindly, and green-brown. It was hard to measure, but I think I used about 1/2 or 2/3 of the sample packet for a pot of tea. The dry leaf smelled sweet, faintly like figs or honey.
Steeping Parameters: No instructions were provided, so I made things up as I went. I think about 2 tsp of leaf for 24 oz of water. 1st steep for 4 minutes, 2nd steep for 5. Both steeps were around 82-83°C.
Liquor: The colour was a dark tan both times. What surprised me about this tea was that it lacked a lot of the bright, vegetal notes I normally associate with green teas. If I hadn’t have known better, I would have thought this was a black tea, or even chamomile. There was a sweetness to it, but it tasted thin and woody, like cedar. Other than that, not much to write home about.
Verdict: I’m really not sure what to make of this. I think I underleafed it. It wasn’t bad, but this sample is leading me to think that Mao Feng greens are not the thing for me. I’ll see what it’s like when I finish off the rest of the sample. No rating for now.
I had a cup of this at Tao’s last night, and here’s what I remember:
- this was the Premium Shi Feng variety of Dragon Well
- long, thin, bright green leaves; very fresh-looking
- It smelled marine-like, buttery, fishy, kind of green-bean-y
- green-gold, light amber liquor
- the taste was very light and not astringent at first, but as I drank it, it got more and more astringent (that “crinkly tongue” feeling)
- very vegetal taste with a long, lingering aftertaste
It was nice, but I’m not sure if I want to try it again. I think I just may not like Dragon Well teas that much.
Thank you so much scribbles for sending me a sample of this tea.
I don’t normally do well with ginger teas. They are normally way too gingery for my tastes. This one is pretty well balanced. It is definitely ginger, but it’s not overwhelming.
This is just warm and comforting. I’m not sure I love it, but it’s quite nice…..
I don’t think this is the correct photo for this tea, but anyway….
I LOVE it, awesome, fantastic, amazing, everything I think a dark oolong should be.
I’m not getting any cinnamon as suggested by the company, but it does have WuYi characteristics. Not getting much floral either, but it does have some sweet/honey notes.
Reading the description I was a bit apprehensive, but what I experienced didn’t really match the description and for me that’s a good thing.
Thanks so much scribbles for sending me another fabulous tea from Tao.
Second experience with this one confirms that it stays on the light side of the Assam spectrum—but as weather attempts to mellow out some, I tend to gravitate that direction with morning teas anyway.
Been one of those weeks where I’ve had to gulp without tasting, so a slow-down cup this morning before long day of elder care errands is very welcome. Thanks again to scribbles!
Ok, I steeped it 3 times today! 1st steep at 80°C for 3 minutes, then the 2 following steeps for 4 minutes apiece.
1st steep: buttery, vegetal, and slightly astringent, with a hint of sweetness.
2nd steep: amber liquor, slightly astringent, but surprisingly sweet with very little butter/vegetable taste.
3rd steep: halfway in between the first 2: sweeter than the first steep, but more astringent than the second.
Of the three, I prefer the 2nd steep the best. It was like honey!
No notes yet. Add one?
It’s Monday, and I’ve got a cupboard bursting with untasted teas! I’m going to try comparing some milk oolongs later this week, but for now, this seemed like a nice way to start.
I got this as a sample from Tao Tea Leaf when I met up with Indigobloom last week – just a little paper pouch.
Dry leaf: Long, dark, and quite spindly. It smelled faintly sweet, but I couldn’t quite compare it to anything. They were a bit hard to measure, but I tried to get 3 tsp of leaf as closely as I could. There should be at least as much leaf left in the sample.
Steeping parameters: The sample didn’t come with any instructions, so I fell back on the default green steeping parameters that I’ve seen others use: 1 tsp for 8 oz of water, 80°C for 3 minutes.
Liquor: The wet leaves smelled very heavily of salt, butter, and vegetables. After steeping, they were a nice olive/jade green, and I hope to get at least one more steep out of them. The liquor is a pale golden colour that shades down to a deeper amber as it sits in the pot. The taste is similar to the wet leaf aroma: buttered vegetables (I’m getting asparagus) with a slight taste of honey at the beginning of the sip. There’s also a bit of astringency as the sip progresses, leading to a bit of dry throat.
Verdict: I quite like this! It’s smooth and slightly sweet, while still retaining a lot of the crisp flavours I associate with green tea. I hope that this tea turns out to be characteristic of Bi Luo Chuns in general. I’ll edit the note once I get a second steep out of the pot.
Flavors: Asparagus, Butter
Malty is the general go-to descriptor for Assam teas, but in my vernacular, toasty fits much better. Not burnt toast, mind you; lightly toasted. A “3” setting on my well-used and crumby Oster.
This Assam from Tao Tea Leaf is just that with a little sweetness on the tip of the tongue. Enough black tea kick to noodge me awake (I hate daylight savings time. Sorry, night people. I want my extra light in the morning!)
Thanks to scribbles for this morning’s cuppa.
(Updated tea info with the description currently on Tao Tea Leaf’s website)
Scribbles is my tea hero this week, sending some treats I definitely couldn’t find in these parts and might not think to seek out. I am absolutely reveling in this one. The tea description says this contains the same leaves that grow up to be pu-erh. You totally get that.
But the first thing this cup made me think of this morning was this: melt butter in skillet. Stir in about a tablespoon of brown sugar. Grab a slice of dark wheat or rye bread and brown both sides until nearly burned. Lick the crust. That’s it.
Steeped plain ol’ western style, about 3 minutes, no milk or sugar. This is gooooood.
Still exploring Dexter3657 ’s samples. Thank you so much for all these samples !
This one really earthy and roasty and has a strong burnt taste,. It even has almost a smocky taste when you have it very hot, not at all when it cools.
It is medium bodied. I think I would have prefered it a little stronger bodied due to the notes it reveals : earth,roast requier to my opinion and to my tastes a robust body.
Whatever, it is really a very good tea as it is.
Thanks again for sharing Dexter3657
Yay! Today I got my super giant mason jar mug from DAVIDsTEA!! I’ve been eying it for a while and finally decided to buy one.
I love it, I love it, I love it!!! There’s something so rustic and comforting about drinking from this big old fashion recipient.
It retains heat pretty well, the tea was still warm at the end of the 24oz I just finished!
To inaugurate it, I chose this generous sample from lovely Sil.
I like vanilla tea as long as it’s not “sickening vanilla”. When it’s done right, it can be really good.
This tea is interesting, it’s actually a very decent caramel tea. No mistake here, I said caramel cause that’s what it tastes like, yes very toffee like and burnt caramel. a good base tea, probably Assam I’m guessing, but can’t call it a vanilla tea at all. It’s somewhat creamy, but not in a vanilla kind of way. Anyways, that’s my impression.
Nonetheless, I still enjoyed it a lot and I’m glad I got the chance to try it in my super mug, thank you Sil!!!
I love how these leaves look when steeped! So soft and fluffy.
The taste follows suit, with a light airy sortof long jing profile. A hint of grass, leading into a rather sweet and nutty finish. I went for a second steep as well, which was more or less the same, only the sweetness took on a mild sort of mallow flavour.
Overall, quite enjoyable!
For me, this is what oolong should be. It’s nice and dark, but not over roasted, it’s nutty and a little metallic, but everything is nicely balance.
If I ever say – you know that classic oolong taste – this is what I’m talking about. This is awesome. I really, really like it.
Thank you so much scribbles for sending some of this my way. Always enjoy trying Tao Tea Leaf – and this is a great example of why I love them. :))
Mucked this one up yesterday latteing it too—if I’d seen ahead of time online (or just assumed based on TTL’s tendencies, which by the way often jive with my preferences) that the tea base was a starring player I’d have though twice about diluting that with milk. Alas, I know a lot of the charms of this tea were lost in a sea of foam, and I don’t have any of my sample left to give this its proper tasting. Even mishandled though, this was ok. Not remarkable, but fine. Whoops.
I only slightly oversteeped this one this time, however I think I preferred it with a longer steep time – it seemed to mellow it out more and bring out the vanilla better. For some reason, I’m getting a nutty feel to this, and something slightly metallic from the vanilla. The base is interesting, yet I feel like I’ve either done something wrong, or it’s just a base that’s different from my liking. I want to have more, and then the metallic comes in, and a weird aftertaste. Hm. Going to chalk this up to user error again – I left it a touch too long to attend to my 6-year-old who hacking up a lung while playing games on my phone.
Thanks to Sil for generously sharing some of this with me!
1.5 tsp in 12oz.
Flavors: Metallic, Vanilla
Thanks to Indigobloom for picking up a sample of this tea for me. I LOVE ginger so I was pretty excited to try it. I think I may have underleafed this tea because it came out very light in color, not what I’d be expecting for a sencha. The flavor is pretty light, mildly vegetal with an almost floral note. I get the ginger in the background but when I make ginger herbal tea, I usully steep it for 5 minutes or more.
I wish I had more of this to play with, I bet it would be perfect cold steeped which would really allow the ginger to come through without oversteeping the green. I feel like I can’t really give this a proper rating dur to user error… :-)
I’m sorry to report that I really blew it with this tea :(
I got sidetracked while it was steeping, forgot to set my timer, & it must have steeped for 10 minutes. This is especially disappointing because Sil bought this for me so I could sample it (she’s awesome that way). So I drank a few sips of it, & although it was bitter & kind of sharp, I know I would have enjoyed it if I hadn’t screwed up. It has that awesome Fujian character that I love about Jin Jun Mei & others. I can’t really describe it, but I love it.
Had this last night while starting Elementary (which BTW I’m immediately fond of—it’s like a breath of fresh air antidote to a lot of the problems I have with Sherlock). It was lovely and I’m going to enjoy drinking my little pouch down for sure (I love bilochuns!), but Verdant’s still takes the cake (definitely no slight on this though—I’m hardpressed to think of more than maybe 5 teas I’ve had as or more delicious). Resteeped a couple times, but not endlessly potent like Verdant’s either.