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Recent Tasting Notes
I was honestly convinced this tea had some scent contamination when I first opened the package. I mean, it’s a white tea – why is it smelling like raisins and cocoa? I sniffed the outside of the package and it smelled like plastic, and then moved some leaf to the gaiwan and inhaled again. Raisins and cocoa. Okay. So, not contaminated, and also completely unlike any white tea I’ve ever had. Should be interesting, then.
Steep one notes: 3 minutes, boiling water, 2 g. leaf to 5 oz. water.
The leaves are HUGE. Huge and very minimally processed, which is to say they are unevenly shaped and sized. The liquor is now trying to be much more…green oolong. It’s buttery and floral to taste but there’s still some underlying malt and raisin. WHAT IS THIS TEA??? It is really smooth, is what it is. And curiously addictive – I can’t seem to stop sipping it and I almost feel buzzed. Hmm… maybe this is what the phrase “tea drunk” means?
I like it. I like it alot.
Steep two: 4 minutes
A thinner, lighter brew this time. This was sweeter, less heavy on the florals but still really good. I truly do feel lightheaded- I’m writing it down if only to see if this happens the next time I drink this as well. Must be something about the Hawaiian terroir.
Steep three: 5 minutes
Now the liquor smells flowery again. Specifically, rose, which is awesome because I much prefer rose to jasmine in tea. This infusion is more floral in taste as well. This steeping is more of what I consider an oolong flavor profile. If I REALLY concentrate I can sort of get notes of hay that I associate with white teas as well. It’s quite the chameleon!
Steep four: 7 minutes
I let this steeping cool longer than I should have, but it was still nice. Same floral notes and an undertone of wood as well. I probably could get more steeps out of this, and I may try, but Tea Hawaii recommended only 4 so I’m stopping here for now.
What a fun tea! I loved how complex and variable it was. It is definitely a luxury tea and way too expensive to keep around in large quantities (especially with my inconsistent drinking habits) but it’s a great palate expanding adventure and I will savor my last two servings of this for sure!
Flavors: Cocoa, Hay, Raisins, Rose, Wood
JoonSusanna sent this one my way and since my cupboard is going to explode when things get here this month, i figure i better get a move on some of my smaller quantity/sample size teas. no one seems to be certain if this tea is the right listing or the other. as a general rule, this tea is less a tea for me than it is a tea for me but i don’t dislike it. after a couple steepings this morning to see if later steeps changed enough for me, i can say that this DOES have a sweet potatoe like flavour to it…there’s a mineral note in here that is what i’m not agreeing with. it’s sweet and just slightly malty. over all a decent cup….makes me want to try more teas from this company. thanks joon!
Okay, trying anyway, just with less water and for 7 minutes. I’ll take it as a good sign that I didn’t want to be done with this tea yet – this is not like me at all.
Scent of the wet leaf:
Very faint maltiness.
Scent of the steeped tea:
Quite faint as well – it smells like the wet leaf, just a tinge malty and like a watered down syrup.
Much like the 3rd infusion. Yes, the flavor is definitely done here. It is just a weak malty black tea.
Overall this was really unique – I love anything from Hawaii so there was no way I’d pass up drinking tea from there. I don’t think it was necessarily a complex tea, but it was a solid one that I will have no problem enjoying the rest of.
And now that I have logged it maybe I’ll be more prepared for next time!
Scent of the wet leaf:
Baked sweet potatoes (each time it smells like some different version of sweet potatoes, so weird)
Scent of the liquor:
Malt, but otherwise indistinct.
This steeping is lighter than the last, in flavor, in texture (mouthfeel is a lot thinner), and in color. The beautiful aftertaste is much more faint as well. I still have a decent flavor but I don’t think I’d be able to get another steep out of this…
Scent of the wet leaf:
Roasted sweet potatoes
Scent of the liquor:
Still sweet potatoes and syrup, though more syrupy and less potatoey. The liquor is a deep red brown.
The notes of grain and bread are still predominant. The best part of this tea so far is the honeyed syrupy aftertaste it leaves behind. I don’t get any real sweetness except way after I’ve already swallowed. This tea LINGERS, like my beloved Dan Cong. There’s no bitterness or astringence either, just…amazing tea in its purest form.
I know I’ve had this before because the bag is opened, but I did not log it. UGH. I think the main reason I didn’t log it is because Tea Hawaii has TWO Makai black listings on here, and it isn’t clear which this is. The leaves are spindly and black, but not as long as the Assam ones are reported to be, so maybe it is just the Sinesis? I think that’s how I’m going to log it.
(I don’t know and its really messing with my need to have my entire cabinet neatly labelled. This is why I don’t like blends, and unlabelled teas for the most part – I don’t like when things can’t be organized into their own definitive categories.)
Anyway, I’m sending some of this to Sil in a swap so I figured I should fully explore it since I had it out. And each steep is going to have its own tasting note only because otherwise this note would be a BEAST.
NOTE: I used 1.5 g. leaf. Steepster won’t let you record decimal points in the “amount” box.
Scent of the wet leaf:
Cooked sweet potatoes.
Scent of the steeped tea:
Sweet potatoes drenched in syrup. I’ve never eaten this per se but that’s what this smells like.
Kind of light, actually. I treated the steeping directions of “1 cup” as 8 oz. but maybe I should have gone with a cup as being 6 ounces and added leaf accordingly. I think I’ll add in a bit more to make it 2 g. tea for 4 oz. water and see what happens.
Hmm, as I’ve been drinking this I get this interesting taste – like if bread were condensed into a thick syrup. It has a lovely honeyed texture but isn’t overly sweet. Maybe what I’m thinking of is malt syrup, even though again, it’s not something I’ve had to even know what that is?
There is a sweetness in the aftertaste but the tea itself is mostly what a good, hearty bread would taste like. No bitterness or astringence at all. Well, on to the second steep…
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt
Well today was a much needed “clean up the tea cabinet day”. As evidenced by this tea, which was unlabeled in a tea bag and OPEN TO AIR (I know- I have no idea what the heck I was thinking either).
I only was able to find out what it WAS through going through past tea orders and looking at the other packages that came with it, and then remembering that I had a coworker who said to me, one day “I think I like oolongs” and well, that must have spurred me giving her the bag with the label/steep instructions and keeping the small amount (OPEN TO AIR – WHAT WAS I THINKING??) to get around to eventually.
Ugh, so that was forever ago and I don’t hold out much hope for this sample that was way too pricey to have treated so callously.
The dry leaf didn’t smell like much of anything (gee, I wonder why) but once steeped according to Tea Hawaii’s directions (3 minutes, 208 degrees) the aroma of both the amber liquor and wet leaf are surprisingly nectary/honeyed, a la my beloved dan cong.
First sips are honeyed and grainy, but then there are unmistakable flowers. Honeyed floral notes – if ever I doubted this was an oolong these flavors have convinced me. I normally don’t like floral flavors but it works here. It walks the line between a lighter black tea and brings in the florality of the green oolongs but is its own self. Maybe the fact that it is Hawaiian grown vs. China grown is what makes a difference? I swear the floral character is different – honeysuckle and hibiscus vs. jasmine. Given my love for all things Hawaii, it doesn’t surprise me that I would prefer a Hawaiian oolong if given the choice.
So yes, this is a good tea. Even as weakened as it was – I liked it. I am glad I got just a sample of it though, as I don’t see myself reaching for it regularly. Quite fun to sip on as I work on making heads or tails of my poor neglected tea closet…
Flavors: Flowers, Honey
i’m not sure if this is the right listing – tastybrew brought us this from hawaii. I feel like this isn’t the right listing, but it’s where terris put hers soooo yeah. lol this package says Johnny’s garden. It’s a lovely cup that’s seriously smooth with a bit of sweetness in the background. It’s not overly strong or malty but it is delicious and that’s all that matters. and it’s a sipdown soooo 3-4 left to go for today…except i have a ton of things to do outside the house! gah!
Here’s what I drank so far today:
Bukhial – Tea Emporium (from Sil) Sipdown! I needed something bold…
Numalighur – Mariage freres (Sil) Sipdown! I needed more bold…
French Toast – 52teas (BBBB Grab bag, Tasty Brew) -just not for me
Russian Caravan – Upton – back down to earth
Butter Brandy Cake – 52teas (BBBB Grab Bag, Tasty Brew) – even less for me
Then there is THIS tea, which Tasty Brew included in the Grab Bag in our BBBBox, purchased on her trip to Hawaii. There is just enough for me & Sil to each sample it.
This is very different from any other black tea I’ve tried ever, & defies description, & yet I will try…roasted rye, with a hint of grilled pineapple, & an aftertaste of unsweetened cacao.
Does that sound terrible? It’s NOT! It’s an interesting tea, very unique & I wish I had more, just for a change of pace.
The very last thing that I should be doing right now is drinking tea. I have had a tremendously difficult time sleeping the last few nights, and this is not going to help. It wouldn’t be so bad for me if I were capable of writing creatively when my schedule gets bent out of joint, but it seems to knock the rest of me from kilter as well…but it’s late, I’m sore and headache-ridden, malcontent about another late night. I need to snuggle some tea, and this has been lying around and tempting me.
What a very strange oolong.
First, the leaves.
They don’t look like any oolong leaves I have ever seen before. I will grant you that I am not the most experienced tea-drinker in the world and that there are probably many varieties of oolong that I have yet to try, but these leaves look — I am being entirely literal in my description — like something I might have raked up in the yard in autumn. Not dirty or grungy, mind you — like clean, glossy, well-dried autumn leaves – - but nevertheless very much like that, in many shades of brown, a bit broken, not particularly curled or rolled. They smell wonderful and distinctly oolong-y, more on the green end of the spectrum than otherwise.
The package recommends brewing at 208 for 3 minutes. I don’t usually brew my oolongs with water this hot, but I imagine that Eva knows best, so I followed the instructions. The resulting cup of tea is not, in fact, a light yellow-green as described above, but an amber that could easily have resulted from a very timid Ceylon. As it was initially brewing it smelled very much like a green, floral oolong; those scents have deepened quite a bit to something more earthy, as though the tea is actually really somewhere between a dark oolong and a green one.
The other tasting note’s reference to balsam seems appropos. I’m not sure if it’s balsam or cedar, or the pine in the description, but there’s definitely a forest-y element here. The end of the sip is sweet on the edges of my tongue, and astringent in the center, but the astringency isn’t lingering. It seems almost tart, but I’m not sure that it is. The mouthfeel is full-bodied.
My description is completely inadequate. The tea does not push an overwhelming amount of flavor onto you — I was afraid it was a bit underwhelming — but what flavors are there to be sensed are many and varied, and trying to pin down the elements individually is proving very difficult for me. A complex, unusual oolong for me. Citrus! No, floral! No, pine! No, it smells like butter!
I would like to try it at 175 in order to see if that changes things, but I’m pretty sure that I would be reckless if I had another 16oz cup of tea this late (alright, more reckless), so that is an experiment that will probably have to wait for the morning. Leaving the rating off for now, but it would be set somewhere in green-happy territory, I think.
This oolong comes by way of my Bosses who recently toured the tea gardens of Hawaii. The leaves look like a a cross between mao cha and a lazily rolled oolong. Wet leaf aroma smells like a medium roasted Tie Guan Yin and brews a light amber similar to a Bai Hao oolong. After the first infusion, the roasty qualities fall off completely and leave the more floral notes I would expect from some high mountain (volcano) teas. The body of the tea I would describe as being more similar to a Bai Mu Dan than anything else. The flavors are smooth and a little dry, although not as dry as the other hawaiian teas I tasted (maybe it’s my water?) there’s hints of butter and a bit of oats or maybe a barley like taste. Interesting to say the least, I’m about to post a more detailed version of this tasting on my blog with some pictures added.
As some one who prefers oolongs with more diversity of flavor notes and less astringency, this is one of my favorite oolongs. A full flavor that never gets too sharp, with a nicely bright yet humble flavor (which some people may interpret as lacking). I can see where the cedar description comes from, but I trust there is a better word. Well done.
There are two version of this in the database, one with a sinensis variety leaf and an assam leaf variety. Unfortunately I have no clue which one of them I actually have so I ended up just picking one, and this one seemed more standardised.
Right, I’m a little distracted while writing this as I’m sharing it with the boyfriend and trying to have a conversation of sorts at the some time.
The aroma of the cup is a bit agricultural, sort of spicy and hay-like. A bit grassy as well.
Flavour-wise, it’s gone a bit cold because as mentioned, I’m distracted, but I seem to find some honey-ish and raisin-y notes in here. A bit floral on the finish, but I’m plocky plocky wock-wock (The boyfriend told me just fill it in with that when I couldn’t remember the last half of that sentences). Anyway, a little floral on the finish, but not overly so.
I’m wondering actually if I picked the right variation from the database at this point because the honey and raisins remind me rather of assams when done right.
Another lucky dip. Actually it’s just the first of many but when I took this one I wasn’t convinced it was the one I wanted. I just didn’t want any of the others I randomly picked out either, so I stuck with the first one up.
First thing that struck me about it was the that leaves are not rolled or shaped at all, but simply dried in whichever shape they happened to have. Secondly, I didn’t know from the bag what type of oolong to expect but the the leaves made me think it was probably mostly a green type. But then the picture on the tea here at Steepster clearly shows a dark type. So I’ve decided that it’s probably an in-between thing.
They have a strong aroma, a bit spicy and rather hay-like. It reminded me a bit of Darjeeling, to be honest, which has me a little concerned as I don’t really care for Darjeelings all that much. After steeping I’m a little less worried about that however, as the spicy hay note is gone and replaced by something strongly floral and somewhat fruity. Apples and pears seem to be a common sort of note to find in greener oolongs and this is no exception. There is also something very herbal about the aroma, reminding me a little of chamomile.
Hm, there’s a certain amount of Darjeeling-esque spiced hay in the flavour, but again I’m getting a strong association to sweet apples, or the slight sourness of apple juice perhaps. But that spiced hay note… No, I can’t say I’m really that much of a fan of that. There is an almost minty-cool freshness about the aftertaste that is really quite nice. It lends a perky quality to an otherwise not impressive tea.
I’ve heard super-awesome things about these Hawaiian grown teas in general, but this being my first meeting with them doesn’t have me totally convinced. Or maybe it’s just the degree of fermentation in this particular oolong that doesn’t speak to me. I tend to prefer them either on the dark end of the spectrum or the deep green end. None of this half-way stuff, please.
I am so pleased to have a chance to try this varietal from Tea Hawaii, not only because I love (love love love) their Assam varietal but also because I’ve got less than 10g of that tea left with no hopes of buying more until next year. So much thanks to sophistre for the chance to try this one!
The leaves of both types are long, twisty and defy any measurement other than weight. But these seem to be a bit thinner and a little blacker than their Assam cousin’s. The smell of the dry leaves is different too, but it’s hard to exactly pinpoint how. This one might be a little lighter/higher in tone.
Brewed up, the smell is totally wow. While the Assam seems to be rye bread syrup, this one is more yeasty and sweeter. Sweet potato preserves spread over fresh baked bread or maybe sweet potato casserole. The sweetness coats my mouth in a very delightful way.
Compared to the Assam varietal, this is lighter in flavor (in overall tone that is, not intensity as it is very flavorful) and sweeter. The other is probably the richer, darker flavor and a bit heavier feeling. So they are fairly different though there are similar notes, particularly bready and sweet (though different types of both). It’s hard to pick a favorite, though so I’m giving the same rating for now. That might change since I’m determined to have a side-by-side taste test to figure out which of these beauties I love more. Of course, regardless of the answer to that one, it still means that, yeah, Tea Hawaii is going to get more of my money.
I’ve been SO EXCITED to get this order in.
The recommendations have been so glowing around here that it has been hard not to be curious. What held me back for so long, you ask? Not my overflowing tea cupboard (I will let it take over my counter, and don’t care in the least), but my lack of a check book. By the time I finally wrote Eva Lee to inquire as to whether or not her company could take a debit card (they can!), she was sold clean out of the Makai Black in the Assamica varietal, which is (she told me) the tea that all of you lovely steepsterites have been giving such high marks of late. They won’t be harvesting more of that until the fall.
She informed me that she did have the Sinensis varietal on hand, however, and could send it out immediately. How could I not take her up on that? I ordered a few bags of that and one of the Mauka Oolong to try, and spent the last week buzzing around wishing my tea could be teleported here instantly.
The leaves are unusual. They’re long, but not quite as wide as the ones in the picture (to be expected, given the difference in the size of the leaves between the varietals) and much more…squiggly. I have no other word for it. The liquor produced is much lighter (at three minutes)…but because the leaves are so…squiggly…and because I have no scale, I hesitate to say that this is absolute fact, since my estimates could have been off on the quantity of leaf.
How should I describe what I’m tasting? It’s difficult to sort out. I don’t know that I can recall what barley on its own is like, which may be an obstacle to writing a proper review. The comparison to roasted sweet potatoes is instantly identifiable, but there’s something in the aroma that is…more than that. I thought about it for a long time before deciding that it reminds me a little of the smell of miso soup…
Or maybe it’s soba…
Or maybe it’s both.
My second steep — something I don’t usually try with blacks save for the first time I have them, just to see if it works — the leaves literally inflated to fill my little wire basket infuser (because, yes, I broke my glass one, sadface). They fattened up, saturated, unfolded to fill every last bit of space like they had pretensions toward being oolong leaves. I have to think that a longer steep time than 3 minutes for the first infusion would produce a different cup than the one I had, therefore, and am eager to try it…or upping the leaf quantity, one or the other, though I’m not sure where I would expect them to fit had I added any more.
This cup is darker than the first. I’m not sure on my steep time, because I was too fascinated by the leaf expansion to pay proper attention, but it smells delicious. The ‘roasted’ part of ‘roasted sweet potatoes’ is much more prevalent now.
Anybody who has the assam varietal who feels like parting with some of it in exchange for some of mine, lemme know. I’m eager to try more of what they have to offer!
Rating is soft for now, cos I left this review sitting all day after getting distracted by other things.
Fresh from the World Tea Expo I attended a focused tasting of White & Oolong teas hosted by Jane Pettigrew. Hands down this is the best White Tea I have ever tasted. Selling at $300 a pound it is without a doubt a luxury tea. The Mauka Oolong was way up up there as well. Worth checking out this great farm!
I can hold myself back no longer. I have to try this tea. I’m going to use Auggy’s time and temperature settings and see if I get rye bread to form in my cup.
The leaves, as has been said, are unbelievably, almost freakishly, long. I just had to take a ruler to them. Here’s the measurements on a random sample of 3 leaves. Understand that this is from end to end, and they twist and curve like climbing rose vines, so their actual length is longer.
1. 1.75 inches
2. 1.5 inches
3. 1.75 inches
They’re basically rake-able length leaves. Imagine that. Or maybe don’t. Wouldn’t want anyone inadvertantly to induce a catatonic state while contemplating such pure tea rapture.
They are a very dark green. Like a few shades closer to black than olive drab, and intensified. There are some amazing, silvery buds in there. The leaves have a patina that gives an impression of softness. Really gorgeous. A+ for the look of the dry leaves.
Their smell is toasty, roasty, nutty, green (!), fruity, sweet and there is even a coffee-like note in there. Fragrant, complex, deep. A+ for the smell of the dry leaves.
I’m steeping them in the Breville for 4 minutes at 205. It’s like watching grass grow. I can’t wait! It occurs to me that I may not have put in enough leaf. The Breville comes with its own scoop, which it suggests you use. However, the scoop doesn’t really accomodate leaves that are almost 2 inches long. So there was a lot of white space in there. I’ve decided that if I don’t get a terrific result this time I’m going to call a do over and use a scale measure instead before proceeding. I don’t want to short change this tea.
And the verdict is, I’m not sure. The liquor is very light in color, rather oolongy. I’m thinking that’s not how it’s supposed to be. So I’m going to do it over and make sure I use 3g per serving on the scale. Here goes.
Fascinating. I used 6g for 500ml this time. And I still get a liquor about the same color. This is the yellowest, most un-black-tea-colored black tea I’ve ever brewed! It’s not what I would describe as “crystalline amber” but it does reach amber, on the lighter end of the scale. Do I give it an F in liquor color for not being an example of its class, or an A+ for being different and interesting and true to its description? Pass for now.
The aroma is like the smell of the dry leaves writ small, plus it opens up to give a preview of what one might expect in the taste. I totally get the rye bread! I don’t know if I could have identified it that specifically on my own, but I get the unsweetened bready, grainy aroma (which could also be the barley identified in the description), and right at the beginning there’s a dry, almost sharp note that is very reminiscent of rye. And yet, there’s a fresh, almost green smell as well as a lovely, soft, sweetness around the edges. And gosh, I still get something roasty that’s a little like coffee. A+ for aroma.
Light bodied, but deep flavored. Smooth, but slightly astringent. There’s a complexity that is suprising given the body of this tea. I usually associate complexity with full body, but that association has just been defenestrated.
There’s a sweet, bready, flavor and a dark, black tea taste that sneaks up on you to remind you what this is, just when you thought you were drinking something else. A sweet, coffee-like aftertaste.
Random wet leaf measurement: 2.5 inches! Wow!
I haven’t ever given a perfect score and I’m not sure I’m ready to. But this is definitely an A+ of a tea.