Tao Tea Leaf

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Recent Tasting Notes

59

Very roasty and toasty. I read in the description on the package that this tea is synonymous for ‘cinnamon oolong.’ Thinking back to my favorite Asian Beauty from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co, which tasted so much like cinnamon toast crunch, I was instantly sold.

Perhaps my hopes were too high, maybe I chose the wrong vessel to brew it in, maybe I oversteeped it, or the water temp was too high. I so wanted to love this tea, but I can’t. I get scorched rice, burnt popcorn and sour plums. It was pretty astringent and a I have been slowly warming up to roasted oolong, seeing as they are one of my least favorites. This tea all but dashed my hopes of liking a roasted oolong in a hot minute. Le sigh. I want to try it again with shorter steeps and a cooler water temp. I am not about super finicky teas, but I have a good 25g still to get through. I will give this another shot, and if it does not work, to someone else it goes!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
yyz

How are you steeping it?

TheLastDodo

I brewed 3g in 100C water in one of these:
http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29219-the-tea-shaker
The capacity is about 200ml. I did 4 steeps: 2min/2:30/3/3.
The fourth one turned out the best. All the astringent bitter toast flavor wash almost gone. What am I doing wrong?

yyz

You probably steeped too long. I tend to brew mine for about 30 seconds or less ( usually less) if using small water to leaf ratio. Some teas do need a longer first steep to open up so I might use 20-30s for the first steep and adjust down my second steep 10-20s depending on the intensity of the flavour and then start adding time. If brewing western style use about the same amount of leaf and at least double the water. Having said the rou GUI is sometimes more cinnamon in fragrance than flavour I have three open at the moment one tastes like black forest cake with kirsh, one leans more to the floral spectrum of yancha’s and the other is quite cinnamon and fruity ( unfortunately its from the one Ali dealer I will not do business with again). One young some yancha’s can taste very heavily roasted some do best after sitting for a while. One of my yixing pits does a good job of taming this as well. You may find the first steep a bit too roasty even when you tweak your parameters. Rinsing might help. Too much leaf can cause bitterness as well but I think you should be OK with what you have in a semi gongfu style of brewing. For western brewing one of my sources recommends 2g.

TheLastDodo

I got the tea shaker for semi-gongfu on the go. I read on Tao’s website that a long steep at first (30-50s) can usually take care of any bitterness. I did not rinse that time, maybe I should do that next time. I want to do maybe 2.5/3g in my 100ml gaiwan and perhaps lowering the temp a bit.

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74
drank Tang Yang Gong Fu by Tao Tea Leaf
6287 tasting notes

Another tea from dexter I’m on a mission today to get through at least 10 sipdowns so there will be good times ahead! She sent this one along because it’s one of a small few black teas from tao that i haven’t tried. I figured this would be nice to try shortly after nannuoshan’s similar tea.

Verdict? boooooooring! There is nothing inspiring about this tea or anything that makes me want to order it. It’s just sort of an every day boring black tea. And who has tie for boring!? not me! lol there’s a bit of maltiness to this one, and it IS a smooth tea. it’s just not anything special. I vastly prefer the other teas from tao that i’ve tried.

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Once again, I am looking through today’s tasting notes and I see that all my “likes” are gone, though comments I made are still there. Sorry, everyone, I AM reading your notes.

This is a tricksy little shu. Yesterday it was good but a little weak and didn’t last as many steeps as my usual shu do. Today I simply added the Ernest of the sample packet to yesterday’s leaves which I thought were pretty spent, and I thought I had divided the sample pretty well in half.

Today this is a shu that just keeps going. I made three steps before leaving town and told youngest to have all she wanted. There was no bitterness or untoward strength in what I drank this morning, yet youngest said her next two steeps were as dark as coffee, but still tasty. I think she made one more after that and then left the leaves to me. My opinion of this shu has gone up due to its gentle flavor with the oily high note and it ability to resteep.

K S

Your likes are probably showing up for everyone but you. I try to remember the newest note I liked so that I can know where to start the next time. The little red hearts only show up when they feel like it for me as well.

TeaBrat

the like function has been acting weird for me for a while now.

looseTman

Added to Steepster Bug Status Thread.

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This is a sample that my daughters picked up for me at the Toronto Tea Festival.

I may have under leafed a little but it was still good. It had that oily shu feel that I like, the one that makes me think of cedar oil or Murphy’s Oil Soap. It was milder than a lot of the puerhs that I drink and did not go for as many steeps. I think with more leaf it might have.

All in all, very good. Not really horsey, not at all fishy, nicely earthy. A nice, non-frightening pu for the beginner, I would think.

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95

Oh lord this tea…. Wuyi rock oolong, you do rock!

Beautiful leaves, they render a warm golden amber brew.

So fragrant!

It tastes like grilled honey peaches and almonds.

So sweet, juicy, nutty and toasty!!

A real treat tonight. I won’t be able to save this for special occasions, no I won’t.

I will have it again tomorrow.

Oolongs are just amazing!!

Pics of tonight’s session:

http://instagram.com/p/yyKWXCQh3m/

http://instagram.com/p/yyL3MyQh5t/

http://instagram.com/p/yyNoNoQh8V/

Mikumofu

Lovely pictures! Rock oolong does indeed rock :)

TheTeaFairy

Mikumofu, thank you :-)

Ubacat

Sounds devine! And love your pictures! Will have to add this one to the wishlist.

TheTeaFairy

Thank you Ubacat! I don’t think you can possibly go wrong with this tea :-)

Ubacat

Not the tea but my brewing skills still need perfecting! :-)

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91

(Backlog from 2 days ago)

If you are Canadian like me, you know it’s no fun to shop for tea from our dear American neighbors at the moment. Our dollar is sinking and the exchange is terrible.

I have turned to Tao Tea Leaf recently, they are based in Ontario. My love has grown so much for this company. They offer exceptional quality and you can find many different superior oolongs.

This one is no exception. It’s exquisite and sophisticated.

Baozhong is very lightly oxidized. It tastes like a breathe of fresh air.

Very floral, think lilac.

It’s also as buttery and creamy as can be, with a sweet aftertaste.

I could drink this every day that’s how much I like it. And I might just do that :-)

Pics of the session:

http://instagram.com/p/ytFJDKQhzD/

http://instagram.com/p/ytGPmZwh0c/

DeliriumsFrogs

Breathtaking pictures!!
The tea sounds really fantastic, too. Buttery lilac… mmm!

scribbles

So beautiful :)

Fjellrev

I hear you on the exchange rates! I’ll have to check this company out. :)

TheTeaFairy

Thank you DeliriumFrogs, the tea is fantastic indeed!!

Scribbles, thank you :-)

Fjellrev….sigh yes, damn exchange! You can’t go wrong with Toa. Been ordering also from the wonderful Camellia Sinensis in Montreal.

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100

I can tell my tastebuds are still not back to normal after this recent bout with sinus/bronchitis junk. This one was not as tasty as my previous note indicated. Still really good, don’t get me wrong, but I’m off still. Things are hugely busy these days so I’m not logging many notes as I’m sticking with old favorites that require little concentration.

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100

My goodness, this is good. Sweet, malt, bread, honey… This is one of those teas that leaves what looks like oily film on the cup. I believe those are the oils in the tannins, right? My empty cup is all polka dotty when empty. :)

Man this is good.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Very light peach flavor, deeper peach & apricot scent. The flavor reminds me of peaches that aren’t really ripe. Not fully peach flavored but the idea of peach is there. :)
Overall it’s not a bad cup but nothing I have to keep around after it’s gone. Might try overleafing next time.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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91
drank Golden Monkey by Tao Tea Leaf
631 tasting notes

This is definitely tasty. Sweet, moderate to strong malt, smooth even after a looooong steep time. No mineral notes showing up at the longer times. I am glad to have gotten in on Marzipan’s group order with Tao. Also glad to find that while I like this one, I don’t have to replace it as I have other GMs I like that don’t involve Canadian shipping. :)

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Tang Yang Gong Fu by Tao Tea Leaf
657 tasting notes

I would best describe this tea as slightly malty, slightly bitter, and slightly sweet. There seems to be no one dominant note to this tea but a nice blend. Bought a sample of this with our group order from last month and am just now getting around to trying it. I think I am glad I don’t have 100g. I don’t like it that much. That being said its not bad, just not my favorite style of tea.

I brewed this one time in an 18oz teapot with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 2 min.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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85
drank Lychee Congou by Tao Tea Leaf
657 tasting notes

This tea is quite tasty. It has strong notes of lychee. I can also taste the black tea underneath, but it is a secondary flavor to the lychee. I like this tea. This is of course a first impression but I think it is good, better than the other lychee teas I have tried anyway. There is also a very slight sour note. I think I should brew it at 190 degrees next time.

I brewed this one time in an 18oz teapot with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 3 min.

Flavors: Lychee

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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Thank You Boychik for this sample. I surprised my self by a: liking this and b: not adding milk to it. It has a distinct smoked flavor but it is not overpowering. There is a nice, more sweet flavor behind the smoked flavor. It is not strong and I am not sure how to describe it but its there. It is good that I liked this tea because I forgot I had this sample and bought a 25g sample with our joint order to Tao Tea Leaf. Thanks to Marzipan for that joint order. It must have been a huge amount of work. I steeped this tea once this morning at 6 am before work and am drinking it again now. I liked it enough to resteep it.

I brewed this tea twice in an approximately 20oz teapot with 6g leaf and 200 degree water for 2 min and 2 min 45 sec. I won’t give this tea a numerical rating because I have so little to compare it too as this is only the second Lapsong Souchong I have tried.

Flavors: Smoked

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 15 sec 6 g 20 OZ / 591 ML
boychik

yay, glad you liked it. i love good LS.

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85

Second infusion report: The sweetness is definitely more muted, but still no denying that intense maltiness in the flavour. Astringency is more pronounced this round, thats the downside of it. I couldn’t stop smelling the tea and the leaves though…reminds me of malt chocolate drinks like Horlicks.

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Sweet

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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85

Had a sample of this tea today. The dry leaf didn’t smell remarkable to me, but once steeped, the leaves smell intensely malty, similar to how a craft brewery smells.
The tea liquid was a heady mix of sweet, malty, almost milky flavour. The fullness of the flavour just hits you in the face like…a cashmere scarf – in a good way, not like the way other hard objects do :P
The only thing I didn’t like about this tea was the finish, it felt somewhat dry and astringent. Still, that didn’t stop me from making 2 infusions.

Flavors: Malt, Sweet Potatoes, Yeasty

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Right now I am getting a fair amount of raspberry overload. To say that there are strong raspberry notes in this is an understatement. I can’t wait to try this iced in my Lupica Handy Cooler. It is still good though, just too raspberry in flavor. I didn’t think you could have too much raspberry flavor in tea but was wrong.

I brewed this one time in an 18oz teapot with 3 tsp leaf and 175 degree water for 2 min.

Flavors: Raspberry

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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78
drank Milk Oolong by Tao Tea Leaf
307 tasting notes

This was a sample from last year’s tea festival. I had too much of this for one steep, and too little for two, so I kind of did my own thing here. Thankfully, it seems to have turned out decently.
It has a musty scent and flavour, but not at all in a bad way. There’s an aftertaste that I suppose is a bit like milk, though I’m still not entirely convinced at the naming. Still, it’s a convention, and milk oolong is very much a thing, so I shall not judge outside of my own experiences. (Though at the same time, I will mention that there may be a creaminess to it, though whether that is me thinking about the “milk” connection or not I do not know.)
The second cup, I will note, seems very fragrant. Somewhere between floral and musty again. (And again, not a bad sort of must, it actually goes more with the floral than anything. ah, I need to work on my vocabulary and palate both I fear.)
I think I will be able to get another steep or two out of this still, but we shall see!

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81

Experiment time! I’m home today so i figured it would be the perfect opportunity to compare both of tao’s rice tuo’s side by side.

1st steep – this one remains largely intact versus the sheng…the brew is a light golden liquor and the aroma is slightly rice like and also slightly…sweet? This one tastes like rice at the get go…the brew is a little, almost bitter but not quite, and then mellows almost immediately in my mouth to a smooth brew…

Stephanie

Yum this is a good one :D

boychik

love it

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74

Experiment time! I’m home today so i figured it would be the perfect opportunity to compare both of tao’s rice tuo’s side by side.

1st steep – this one starts to break apart a lot faster than the shou…the brew is darker and the aroma is stronger…this one smells more like rice than the other. the brew is..plain, average…not super intense, but smooth with the rice flavouring being more on the tail end of the swallow than in the initial sips…

hmmmm more to come i’m sure.

Stephanie

Never had the sheng version!!!

Sil

i think i like the shou version better…but i’ve got more steeps to go

TheLastDodo

:( I wanted to compare these as well! But the group order I did left out the shou…

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85

And this is the last of my full-size bags from Tao Tea Leaf! Gotta say, I’m pretty darn happy about my choices, given that I was ordering having never tried any of their teas. :) This one is really delicious. As soon as I opened the bag and the coconut scent hit me, I was pretty sure I was going to like this, and I wasn’t wrong! The leaves are fairly lightly rolled – the 3g that I measured out probably would have come to almost 2 tbsp. The dried leaves are a combination of green and black, but once the hot water hits them they become entirely green. The scent while steeping is a gorgeous combination of sweet coconut from the flavouring, and fresh and vegetal from the oolong. I sat there, inhaling the steam while waiting for it to finish steeping, trying to think of what the combination of sweet + vegetal reminds me of. Sugar-coated flowers? Fresh sweet corn or sugar snap peas? I’m still not sure, but I know I like it. The flavour delivers what the scent promises – sweet, vegetal, coconutty goodness. Yummy. :)

Flavors: Coconut, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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80

I’m working my way through the 26g packages I got from Tao Tea Leaf. I also got a whole pile of samples from them, which I think I’ll be just keeping in the box and grabbing randomly from when I want to try something new. :)
I don’t have a lot of experience with keemun teas, and this one was highly rated, which was what made me decide to try it. The dry tea is small, dark leaves with an intense and complex floral scent. As it brews, the scent is also lovely, floral and fruity. The flavour is really interesting – fruity and floral again, quite complex, with a pleasant tartness. People talk about keemuns having a smokey, piney note, and I can totally see what they mean. It’s not smokey like a lapsang, but it’s definitely there. As the tea cools, it develops a refreshing quality that makes me want to try this cold-brewed or iced.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Pine, Smoke, Tart

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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85
drank Ying De Black Tea by Tao Tea Leaf
241 tasting notes

My plan was to try two similar teas together, for comparison purposes, and then I went and steeped this along with TTL’s ZhengHe GongFu from Jin Ping, forgetting that they’re actually really different teas. Oops. :) They’re both still really delicious Chinese blacks, but this one is a lot less chocolatey. Upping the rating on this one, because I think I do actually like them equally.

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85
drank Ying De Black Tea by Tao Tea Leaf
241 tasting notes

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked this to try this morning, but it turns out to have been a good choice, because it strikes me as an excellent breakfast tea: bold, malty, and full-bodied. To me, it tastes like a really good Assam – I wouldn’t have pegged it as a Chinese tea, necessarily. I’m not sensitive enough to caffeine to be able to judge whether it’s highly caffeinated, but it tastes like something that should wake you up. :) I steeped it for 3min for the first infusion, and 5min for the second infusion. This second cup is still full of flavour, but a bit more mellow than the first. I’m sitting here, sipping, trying to identify flavours when the strongest impression I get is just “black tea”. I get a little bit of grain/bread, a bit of grape/plum, and definitely a lingering sweetness on the aftertaste. Interestingly, I’m not tasting any cocoa in this at all. There’s a bit of astringency but it’s not unpleasant. This isn’t quite what I was expecting, but it’s very good.

Flavors: Grain, Malt, Plums

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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