Tea from Taiwan
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Recent Tasting Notes
From the Lewis & Clark teabox a while ago… gradually making progress! Sadly, this oolong seems to be a good one, but the flavors are never distinct enough for me. It’s a tough one to figure out. The flavor stays pretty consistent throughout three steeps. The scent of the cup makes me think it will be a sweet oolong, but the flavor is a little savory. It seems to lie in the middle of sweet and savory though. A little buttery, salty, seaweed, but also fruity (maybe something mild like mango?) and sweet. Not as savory as some oolongs tend to be, but also not as sweet. Kind of disappointing… I’d rather it decides what it wants to be! Perhaps this one needs other steeping parameters though. Definitely never was over astringent… very smooth throughout.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsps. // rinse // 8 min after boiling // 1 1/2 min steep
Steep #2 // 8 min after boiling // 2 1/2 min steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 2 min
Method: Gongfucha with 7 grams of leaf to 120 ml of water with a quick rinse
(The pot I’m using is my porcelain oolong pot with a pour of around 10 seconds, so subtract 10 seconds from the steep time to get the tea’s “idling” time.)
TeaFromTaiwan Sample #2!
I would like to start by pointing out that the TeaFromTaiwan website says that this tea was grown at an elevation of 2,650 meters, which is basically the peak of Alishan (2663 meters, if Google can be trusted). The leaves themselves seem very dark for a gao shan tea. There are some red-ish tones in there on a backdrop of a very deep grey-green. The scent of the dried leaves is almost sickly sweet, with a slight creamy note on it.
1st Steep (15 seconds): The Color of the liquor is definitely not what you generally expect from a Taiwanese tea that was grown at such a high elevation, its orange-yellow. The Smell coming off of it is odd as well, like red tea and sugar. The Taste is very light, it’s actually fleeting. It has a fruit sweetness, but then, it’s gone, leaving only a lingering sweetness in the mouth as an Aftertaste, which is definitely reminiscent of a red tea, but different.
2nd Steep (20 seconds): I want to say that the Color is sort of like that of Oriental Beauty, a deep orange-yellow that seems on the verge of being classified as a red tea. The Smell is now very sweet, with fruit undertones, it’s actually very nice. This is weird, the Taste is like a red tea! It’s got those characteristic “red tea” tastes, but it’s also fruity and I can almost taste the gao shan creaminess. The Aftertste is clean, it leaves a sense of invigorated cleanliness on the palate.
3rd Steep (20 seconds): The Color’s orange, there’s no yellow left. This looks like a red tea. The Smell, though, is sweet and lightly fruity. It lures you in. The Taste is like a red tea as well, like the fourth and fifth steepings of a Dian Hong, though the color’s lighter than Dian Hong. The Aftertaste isn’t much, just a clean lingering taste like you get from straight red tea.
4th Steep (30 seconds): The Color is still like either a weak red tea or an Oriental Beauty. The Smell is still sweet, but it’s still got a light fruitiness to it. The Taste is like a red tea all the way, but the Aftertaste is fruity, with a slight bitterness in the finish.
Summary: This isn’t a bad tea, and for the price ($26 per 150 grams), it’s not too expensive. tea has red tea notes mixed with some darker oolong notes, which you don’t usually see in Taiwanese gao shan. GABA tea is reputed to have all these additional benefits due to it being processed with nitrogen gas in order to alter a chemical (glutamic acid) that’s naturally found in the leaf into GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is also naturally found in the human body. It doesn’t have an unpleasant taste, so if you believe that this tea is ultra good for you, by all means buy some. I won’t not recommend this tea, the main people who would purchase it (I believe) are the health junkies, and they’re not in it for taste, but for health benefits.
Method: Gongfucha with 7 grams of leaf to 120 ml of water with a quick rinse
(The pot I’m using is a porcelain pot I use for Oolongs. It has a pour of aorund ten seconds, so subtract 10 seconds from the steep time to get the tea’s “idling” time)
TeaFromTaiwan Sample #1
Be warned! This is the first of MANY Taiwanese Oolong reviews. I just got in a bunch of smaples, so I’ve got TONS to review.
On opening the sample pouch, the leaves are very tightly rolled, they’re much smaller than the other teas I’ve gotten from TeaFromTaiwan, and are mostly deep green in color, with a few lighter streaks mixed in there. The smell coming off the dried leaves is very milky with just small hints that this is actually tea (not too surprising since this is a milk oolong), but it caught me off guard since this is my first nai xiang (milk oolong).
1st Steep (15 seconds): The Color of the liquor is a pale green-yellow. The Smell is light, but is slightly creamy; it’s a pale rendering of the strong smell off the leaves. The Taste is actually very sweet, kind of like the creamer that you’d put in coffee. The Aftertaste is just that same mouthwatering sweetness that lingers in the mouth.
2nd Steep (20 seconds): The Color has darkened and become somewhat greener. The Smell is definitely milky, a creamy sweetness in the nose. The Taste is MILK! It’s actually very delicious, and has a satiny mouthfeel. The Aftertaste is just a lingering milkiness.
3rd Steep (25 seconds): The Color has taken on a slightly greener cast, but it’s still pale and beautiful. The Smell is incredibly sweet, sort of like the taste of milk with sugar in it. The Taste is, incredibly, even sweeter. It’s sort of like drinking liquid sugar with a touch of oolong and milk in there, or maybe some kind of mellow Halloween candy. The Aftertaste is sweet, but there;s a twinge of bitterness in the finish, it’s not bad, it’s just a bit different after the flood of sweetness.
4th Steep (35 seconds): The Color’s now verdant, like a very green green tea. The Smell is almost sickly sweet, like I’m breathing in crushed up Smarties. The Taste is still very sweet like those Smarties with light hints of that green oolong flavor. The Aftertaste is a touch sour, it’s not unpleasant, but it’s not something I particularly enjoy.
5th Steep (45 seconds): The Color is starting to yellow up a bit, so now it’s more like an actual oolong. The Smell has also mellowed out a good bit, it still has a sharp sweet smell. The Taste has finally regained some of that milk taste, and the Aftertaste is almost gone.
Summary: This is a very sweet tea. I find it amazing that this doesn’t have any added flavorings. While this tea is very sweet in the first steepings, it does mellow out in later steeps. This is my first nan xiang, but I have to assume that there are others that are less intense than this one. It’s not my favorite tea, I’ll admit. If you have a sweet tooth, I guess this tea would be for you.
Method: Gongfucha with 7 grams of leaf to 120 ml of water with a quick rinse.
(The pot I’m using is the porcelain pot I use for Oolongs. It has a pour of around ten seconds, so subtract 10 seconds from the steep time to get the tea’s “idling” time)
The leaves are shaped much like other Gao Shan teas I’ve had, large, dark green balls with gold-green stems connected. The smell coming off the leaves is great, a mouthwatering creamy, fruity, sugary smell. Can’t wait!
1st Steep (15 seconds): There’s a lot of green going on in the Color here, and the Scent, while still light, has that mice mouthwatering effect. It smells sweet, with hints of that Gao Shan creaminess. Te Taste, especially for the first infusion, is very good. There that creaminess that just rides on a silken mouthfeel. The Aftertaste is sweet, like water with just a bit of sugar in it.
2nd Steep (20 seconds): The Color has a deeper green-yellow color, which is actually quite nice to look at in the cup, but the Smell is gorgeous, flowery fruit scents everywhere. The Taste is a bit floral with a slight astringency, but there’s a nice slick mouthfeel, like it’s just gliding along the tongue. The Aftertaste is lasting, a sweet creaminess that simply lingers on the middle of the tongue.
3rd Steep (20 seconds): The Color’s gotten a bit darker, now it’s more like a yellowed jade color. The Smell is great, floral with some creaminess, but the Taste, God, the Taste. Sweet, floral, creamy, perfect, it’s incredibly smooth and has a wonderful viscosity, not too thick, but not weak at all. The Aftertaste is splendid, a sugary floral taste with a very pleasant bite. This might be my favorite steeping since I started recording my tastings. :)
4th Steep (25 seconds): Color’s holding up very nicely. The Smell is like I’m sniffing a flower, I just have no idea what that flower is, it’s beautiful, though. The mouthfeel is the first thing I’m noticing, it’s still slick (TeafromTaiwan calls it “buttery”), but’s it’s effecting a different part of my mouth, the sides of my toungue and the back part of the roof of my mouth. The Taste has homogenized a little, it’s still smooth and sweet and floral, but the tastes are running together a bit. Te Aftertaste is really long-lasting.
5th Steep (35 seconds): Color, still just being beautiful. The Scent’s weaker, a light flowery-thing with come Gao Shan cream in there. The Taste, though is drastically different. It’s sugary. you feel it on the tip of your tongue when you first take a sip. It’s ultra smooth, though, with a sweet fruity-ness in the Aftertaste. It’s wonderful. :)
Summary: Please do not stop at 5 steep, I beg you! This tea has much and more to offer in terms of taste and mouthfeel development. I am in love with this tea! It’s not ultra cheap, but it’s not super expensive. At $25 USD for 75 grams, I’m running around $2.33 USD for a gongfu session. While it’s coming up on double the price of the Ali Shan Four Seasons ($1.21 per session), it’s not wholly unreasonable or even something to save for special occasions (think Da Yu Ling). I like this tea, it has all of the qualities of a wonderful Gao Shan without the “Mega-Ultra-Super-Price” of a Da Yu Ling ($46 USD per 75 grams). I recommend this to every one! Beginners, this is grown at 1900 meters, if you want to get higher up the slopes without breaking the bank, this is a good place to start. Veterans, this is a Great stand-by, not super expensive, but of impeccable quality!
Method: Gongfucha with 7 grams of tea to 120 ml of water with a quick rinse
(The pot I’m using is a porcelain teapot with a pour of about 10 seconds, so subtract 10 seconds from the steep time to get the tea’s “idling” time)
The leaves are very nice, dark green in color with dusted-gold stems connecting the leaves. The dried leaves smell interesting, a little like oatmeal cookies with that high mountain creaminess mixed in (not surprising since this is grown at 1300 meters). The wet leaf after the rinse has more of that green oolong-ey smell, but the weird cookie smell is definitely still there.
1st Steep (15 seconds): The Color is a light green-yellow, and has a fair depth for a first infusion. The smell is sweet, with only a little bit of that high mountain cream. The taste is pretty light (not surprising, first infusion), but it’s light and refreshing, with a bit of that “green-ness” that comes out in green tea. The Aftertaste is also really light, but it is slightly lingering.
2nd Steep (20 seconds): The Color is significantly more vibrant, with a twinge more green in it. The Scent is elegant, with just a little high mountainy-ness. The Taste is great, like I’m drinking the smell of fresh baked cookies (if that makes any kind of sense :) ). There’s not much of an aftertaste, but that’s okay.
3rd Steep (25 seconds): The Color is still that nice yellowed jade. The Smell is nice, like your average green oolong, but the Taste is wonderful. like the oatmeal raisins I was smelling on the dry leaf, but with a nice, thick moutheel. There’s some slight bitterness in the aftertaste, but that’s probably just the work of me using slightly hotter than normal water on this steep.
4th Steep (35 seconds): The Color of this is holding up very nicely. The Smell is still very nice, but it doesn’t jump out at you. The high mountain creaminess is definitely coming out a lot more in Taste here, and the mouthfeel has become more silky. Not too much of an Aftertaste, just a lightly lingering feeling in the mouth, which I promise isn’t bitterness or astringency.
Summary: A very nice Taiwanese oolong. Thoroughly enjoyable to the veteran and the novice alike. As an intro tea for Taiwanese oolong, or even just higher elevation, you can’t really go wrong. The price, at $13 USD for 75 grams, is probably too reasonable for the quality that you’re getting. I heartily recommend that a beginner in Taiwanese Gao Shan start with this tea (or at least something similar), but for the “pros” out there, this is an inexpensive standby for you high mountain cravings! :)
Tea From Taiwan is right to call Dong Ding Ming Xiang (loosely translated as “fragrant tea from the frozen peak”) a dark-colored oolong. I immediately notice the difference with the dry leaves. These tightly curled pellets aren’t various shades of green, but a blackish brown with streaks of green. And while most oolongs produce a golden liquor, Dong Ding Ming Xiang results in an alluring dark amber that grows more lustrous with the longer brew times.
Aroma is another area where Dong Ding Ming Xiang deviates from its fellow oolongs. The dry leaves give off a slight forest scent that strengthens with the first steep. Instead of the usual orchid base, moist earth, wood, and hints of coffee lilt from the liquid and wet leaves. It’s not an unwelcome change. In fact, the mix of smells reminds me of early fall in New England. I wonder if the tea will taste like autumn, too.
And it does! With my first steep of 45 seconds using the instructions above, Dong Ding Ming Xiang offers an autumnal flavor foliage. Earthy and faintly tannic, it carries accents of coffee, caramel, and – as Tea From Taiwan described – honey. Not a dominant honey, but it’s there in the aftertaste. The second steep (about 90 seconds) highlights the honey without becoming overly sweet and introduces wood and roasted tones. This is when Dong Ding Ming Xiang reminds me of the current season. If I sit back and sip this tea, I can picture myself strolling along a tree-lined road, surveying the red and orange leaves, and savoring the crisp, bonfire-tinged air.
Longer brew times for Dong Ding Ming Xiang lead to a more outdoorsy infusion. My fourth and fifth steeps (about 3 and 4 minutes, respectively) bring out more of the earth and wood flavors. The honey and caramel notes have also disappeared. These later brews are more like a soft black tea than a typical oolong. They also lack the clean or creamy finish and orchid currents that most oolongs have. (So did the earlier steeps.) While I miss those familiar qualities, I can’t complain about Dong Ding Ming Xiang’s departure from the norm because I enjoyed every drop of it.
Read my full review here: http://bibliophilesreverie.com/2014/10/23/tea-from-taiwan-dong-ding-ming-xiang-oolong/
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramel, Coffee, Earth, Forest Floor, Honey, Wet Earth, Wood
From the Lewis and Clark TTB.
Prepared gongfu method with gaiwan. 5 second rinse. Steeping times: 5 sec, 5, 5, 5, 10, 10, 10, 10, 20, 30, 45, 60.
Dry leaf aroma: initially floral and mineral, then fresh fruit such as persimmons, clementines, and Asian pears.
Wet leaf aroma: Much simpler, though not any less lovely. Sweet, buttery, mostly floral.
Liquor: Light yellow, clear, full-bodied, and smooth. The leaves unfurl sooner than I expected – during the first infusion -, allowing to pour forth flavorful sweet, floral notes, which are consistent throughout the session.
Lewis & Clarke TTB
Okay, I admit it… I’ve been avoiding this one. I took a sample out of the TTB and now it’s been a week or something since I sent that off, but the little baggie was still sitting on my kitchen counter, conspicuously outside of my normal sipdown box. I just can’t get excited about green oolong, as I find they all taste basically the same to me. The only reason I took a sample of this one was that there was definitely enough of it for everyone to try, so why not? So anyway, here goes! Looks similar to other green oolongs, although my pellets are abnormally small because my sample was from the end of the package (this tea was in multiple small packets). Dry scent is the usual – peaches, cream, slightly vegetal note. I steeped it for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
The aroma is actually a bit strong on the vegetal side, which makes me at least mildly excited to try this! I actually like this tea better than a lot of other oolongs I’ve tried. It has a fairly strong almost spinach/butternut squash-y vegetal note which is lovely and almost fools me into thinking it’s a green tea. But then that nice peach (definitely fresh peach) flavor pokes its head out and yells, “Hey Bozo, this is an oolong! Get your head out of the clouds!” There doesn’t seem to be much floral, which is a nice reprieve, and I’m not getting much of that creamy taste and texture either. I actually rather like this one! Who’da thunk it?
Edit: As this cools, it’s getting more and more floral. BLECK! :P
Flavors: Butternut Squash, Floral, Peach, Spinach, Vegetal
Lewis and Clarke TTB
I decided to do this one in my cute little clay teapot with my new tea tray and cup.
Boy, is my tummy sloshy now.
But that’s a good thing.
The first few infusions were a little minerally tasting, along with a touch floral, a touch green. Tasty.
Then it got even better. Sweet, floral, vegetal, no longer mineral. I was hoping for a creamy mouth feel, or buttery, but it never was really either of these.
It was just nice. Not overwhelming. Easy drinking.
I’m sure some of the flavor was stolen by the pot since it’s still really new, but that’s what happens with new clay. Someday, it will give back.
I got a sample from TFT and was very suprise by the quality and the complexity in flavor of this nice blended tea.
I did 6 steeping around from 15 up to 1 minute increasing the steeping time at each steeping.
the first two steeping was very mild with a little smoky, nutty and a bit buttery creamy note in aroma that reminds Jin Xuan tea (but that is all in comparaison) especially when the leaves starts to open after the second steeping.
The third and fourth steeping get more interinting as it develops some sweet flowery aroma combines with a very light spinach and mountain fog. The after taste last long and it’s very interesting.
A combination of the sniff in the gaiwan, a sip and the feeling of the after taste gives you a very enthousiastic feeling.
Very good and balanced tea indeed
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Nuts, Smoke, Spinach
So I just got this Oolong from a very nice gentleman who sent me a few. I instantly broke out the tea maker and danced around like I had a bag of weed in my hand, I was excited. At first I didn’t smell it in the bag, but I could already tell it was going to be good. I love how it can actually be resteeped for full benefit.
So out of the tea maker I notice it has a spinach smell to it, and a bit of a spinach taste, but do not let this deter you! There is a creamy buttery, floral orgasmic taste that flows down my throat, letting me know that life is good and tea is the key to happiness. I cannot express my gratitude towards the man who introduced this to me, let alone be able to part with such an amazing tea.
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Spinach
Method: 1 tsp, 8 oz, 182 degrees, grandpa style
Dry Leaf Aroma: milky and buttery, with a hint of floral
Brewing Aroma: more floral
Flavor: Solid. It’s not my fave oolong, but I really have no complaints. The flavor is mild, as is the astringency. It has a dry finish, but nothing crazy. I would definitely drink this one again!
Method: 1.5 tsp, 182 degrees, grandpa style
Dry Leaf Aroma: lightly floral with a hint of seaweed
Brewing Aroma: The seaweed is gone, and there’s a very quiet floral scent. I can also detect what smells like a buttered spinach.
Flavor: This tea has a very pleasant mouthfeel, soft and buttery, with minimal astringency. The buttery spinach comes through in the flavor, also. There are some indeterminate florals, but none of the fruits from the description. The tea doesn’t taste bitter, but I wouldn’t call it sweet either. I think mellow is a good word.
Method: 1.5 tsp, 205 degrees, 3 minutes
Dry Leaf Aroma: powdered milk, popcorn topping, butter. Back in the day, my parents used to buy this powdered faux butter popcorn topping. You would pop your corn and sprinkle it on. That’s what these tea leaves smell like!
Brewing Aroma: Milky and sweet, with a hint of floral
Flavor: This isn’t as creamy as I expected, and the texture is thinner than I thought, but it’s still quite good. I’m not sure that milky oolongs are my thing, but I like trying them out. This was even better with some tea biscuits. They gave the whole endeavor a sort of milk and cookies feel.
Method: 1 heaping tsp, 182 degrees, grandpa style
Dry Leaf Aroma: Floral and Fruity. Sweet. Smelled a little like baking cookies.
Brewing Aroma: Vanilla and lightly citrus
Flavor: This had a very thick and buttery feel. It reminded me of a very light vegetable broth. This was a very hearty tea! I think it would be especially well-suited to cooler weather drinking.
Method: 1 heaping tsp. @ 182 degrees, grandpa style
Dry Leaf Aroma: Floral and sweet, like honey
Brewing Aroma: Green and vegetal
Flavor: This has a lightly buttery taste, and a very slight bitterness. I can taste some of the floral from the aroma, and this also has a nutty finish in the first cup. The second cup was fascinating and had a light vegetable flavor. Then there were some fruity hints in the third cup, like grape. This tea was a chameleon!
This is a great every day drinker. Very nice leaves, lots of stems if you like that. I’m noticing that with the 2 or 3 teas I’ve tried so far from Tea from Taiwan.
The dry leaves have a kind of buttered popcorn smell to me with a little bit of a floral background.
I’m getting some sweet corn taste in the liquor, real nice pale yellow color. I get about 6 or 7 solid steeps Gaiwan style.
Nothing spectacular overall, but very solid all around and great deal for the price.
Flavors: Floral, Popcorn, Sweet
The dry leaf aroma smells very much like powdered milk to me. Once brewing begins, I can smell the creamy aroma, and definite hints of jasmine.
The flavor is sweet, but a little too faint at first. I try longer steepings, and I can detect a very light buttery flavor. I was hoping for more milky flavor in the brewed tea, but it wasn’t there for me. I did enjoy the creamy texture!
I purchased the Spring 2014 batch in a sample pack. The tea has a lovely flavor and has a creamy feel, but I didn’t get the milky flavor I was hoping for. To be fair, I did eat recently, so I am going to brew this again and see what I come up with. I liked this tea, but I am hoping a second try will give me the chance to pick out more aromas and flavors.
I’ve had this sample for awhile.. at least a year? I’m trying to get through some of my older samples that I never got around to.
I found Wu Ling’s first steeping to be really great – sweet, light floral, buttery and a little melon flavor. With each further resteep, it got more and more spinach vegetal, ontop of the buttery flavor. I wish I had more for a cold steeped!