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Recent Tasting Notes
My weekend was excellent, even though my sleep schedule is totally off now! I enjoyed fighting games and worked on painting, who can ask for more? Sadly though, my happiness is at an end, sort of. The basement has a hellish flooding problem, so there is going to be a lot of noise and a lot of mess this week, with the warning ‘anyone with lung problems shouldn’t be here.’ Bah. So I am going to spend a lot of time outside, meaning no painting, though I am going to hopefully spend a lot of time at the zoo.
Today I am looking at Tealyra’s Da Hong Pao Superfine, specifically it is a Ban Yan Da Hong Pao (because if it was Zheng Yan it would cost a small fortune) see the term Ban Yan comes from Ban Yan Cha, or semi-rock tea (as contrasted with Yan Cha) meaning it is grown outside of the Wuyi National Scenic Area. It is still a Wuyi ‘Yancha’ in style and spirit, but being grown outside of this rather fancy region means us mere mortals can afford it. Good for people who want to drink Da Hong Pao everyday and not as a special treat. So how do these long twisty leaves smell? Like a Da Hong Pao, strong notes of char and tobacco with undertones of cocoa and lots of loam. It smells like the remnants of a campfire on an autumn’s day, a campfire where someone was smoking a pipe and eating s’mores and the air still holds both of those memories.
Time to use ye’ol Yancha pot, and the aroma of the tea leaves is still fairly char heavy, giving the tea a sharpness. There are also notes of loam and black walnuts with a finish of wet limestone. Not terribly nuanced but certainly very strong. The liquid for the first steep has mellowed out a bit on the char, smelling like wet coals and molasses with an accompaniment of walnut shells and a very faint creamy candy note, not unlike molasses candies…something which I am craving suddenly.
The first steep is surprisingly mellow, it starts with a loamy mineral note, like wet limestone and damp autumn leaves after a rain and then bursts into molasses and scotch. The finish is loamy and gently sweet but does not linger long. It was a good first steep but very mild for a yancha, which is usually balls to the walls from the first sip.
For the aroma of the second steep, there are notes of sweet molasses and chocolate with wet limestone and a nice burst of wet coals at the finish. It is stronger than the first steep, but sadly has lost the walnut shell notes. The taste reminds me of strong dark chocolate, just a touch sweet and nicely bitter with a coal and mineral finish. Often when these rock teas have a strong coal and dark chocolate flavor it reminds me of the burnt edge of a s’more you let catch on fire. Tasty but burnt chocolate!
The third steep’s aroma is faint by comparison, just notes of wet leaves and wet coal with a ghost of molasses. The aroma made promises of faintness that the taste fulfilled, this tea has given up the ghost. All that is left is the ghost of burnt chocolate and mineral, like rainwater more than wet limestone. If you want a tea that lingers for a while I say look elsewhere, but if you want a nice char heavy DHP for a fairly cheap price then this one works and fulfills that craving if you are running low on the higher end stuff.
This morning has been lazy but I needed it after my few pints of Guinness last night (I can’t drink like I used to, I’m too old for it now). I hoovered my carb (husband is very messy) and now I’m watching Jurassic World. My treat for doing anything so far is a large pot of tea and I chose this one.
Steeping Western style with roughly 10g combined with 800ml boiling water. Something I intend to keep re steeping throughout the day.
Colour is dark brown.
Scent is toasted hay with flowers and tree bark.
Taste wise it’s rather chocolate like with elements of toasted nuts and a sweet yet light and milky floral aftertaste. Much nicer than I expected and the chocolate similarity is very pleasant. It’s not too strong or sour either considering it’s age.
I had been feeling a bit better and stronger, but things are dipping again. Yesterday, I attended a qi gong class, which should fill me with vibrancy and something positive, but no. Instead, I woke up feeling exhausted and weak. Chronic illness sucks.
I did have a fantastic breakfast though. Leftover Horiatiki salad from Greek Town and some grilled squid I picked up in Korean town. Bizarre but good. I love living in a city where it’s all available in a day’s outing.
Followed breakfast up with this lovely lovely tea.
Perhaps this is a new batch of limited edition Milk Oolong compared to that of previous reviews. The label doesn’t indicate limited edition, but there don’t seem to be other options.
My first steeping was milky cream with the barest hint of vegetal. The second steep, which I left a wee bit too long, is coming through with a very pleasant oolong green, but not too green, flavour with a bit of creamy backup. No sense of mineral or imitation flavours. I look forward what the next steeps bring.
Flavors: Butter, Corn Husk, Cream, Vegetal
Sipdown. I used the last of this packet on a cold-brew. (Though technically a room temperaure brew. It sat in my water bottle in the car for at least 4 hours.) Probably over-infused at this point, though still pretty drinkable.
Sharp, woody, astringent, with a little bit of cinnamon chaser. This wouldn’t be my choice to cold brew again.
I did bring this tea with me to KC because it wasn’t one I liked much. Therefore if time, temp, and water were weird I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Can’t wait for the Midwest Tea Fest tomorrow!
Flavors: Astringent, Cinnamon, Wood
Gaiwan. Dry leaf smelled like roasted peas or maybe soybeans.
10s lightly roasted, light peas, slightly sweet brown sugar
15s drying, brown sugar, soybeans. This flavor profile continued 3 steeps before I stopped as the drying effect was getting too intense for me.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Drying, Soybean
This is a queued tasting note.
Had this one as a cold brew, which is a method that overall I enjoy although hot brews are better. It had such a strong, floral lychee flavour that it was a little challenging picking anything else out. However, in the finish I observed a cross between a wood-like flavour note and the taste of dark chocolate/cocoa.
This is a queued tasting note.
So, I woke up Sunday morning to get ready for work and I had the biggest craving for lychee. I can’t even express how amazing it felt to not only have one lychee tea in my cupboard but two to pick from! Options, motherfuckers!
So this was my commute tea on Sunday: it was brilliant! The bright, juicy lychee top note satisfied that lychee craving in every possible way and the black base tea underneath is phenomenal as well. It’s natural, sweet and smooth honey, malt and cocoa notes are both a stunning contrast to the juicy, floral lychee but also a wonderful compliment. You’re matching not only the intense rich flavour of the lychee but the intense rich flavour of the black tea. Mmmm!
This is a queued tasting note.
This tea comes from Liquid Proust’s stash sale! A while back we were talking lychee teas and he highly recommended this one to me, so when I saw he was selling it I had to jump on the chance to try it!
I made this in a teacup, using five of the tiny little pearls, and resteeped it twice after the initial infusion. The first was very smooth with an incredibly light, bright and juicy lychee/floral top not practically bouncing off notes of malt, cocoa, and honey from the base tea that composed the body of the sip. It was absolutely delicious, and the juxtaposition of flavour was quite lovely and intense. Subsequent infusions were much the same, though we the lychee flavour fading fairly substantially throughout infusions. The more it faded, however, the more I noticed the floral and honey notes.
Truly, this was a wonderful tea though. Quite worthy of LP’s praise, for sure. I particularly loved the intensity of the lychee flavour that definitely stayed true to the flavour of actual lychee fruit. Mmm!
Today’s the day for trying tea that I didn’t like in the gaiwan to see if a different style of steeping changes the flavor. And I’m mostly over the death cold.
Dry leaf- caramel? Small rolled balls. Dark roast off wet leaves.
30s- sweet caramel, no roasted taste. 45s- more roast, sweet. After that, I got a lot of roast but lost the sweetness of the early steeps. 1min30s serious astringency on the roof of my mouth and tongue. I wish the taste had panned out more. I got lost in the roast.
Flavors: Caramel, Roasted
Jan 25th: You know those teas you buy because the tasting notes sounded good online. This is one of those teas. I think I’ve found out that I don’t care for chai all that much. And caramel doesn’t belong in tea. Dry leaf smells: carmely, sugary, chai. This tea is okay when hot though the flavors don’t come through well. However, once the tea cools, the chai part is fine. It’s the caramel artificial flavoring that is not good. It pretty much ruins the tea for me. I might try it with sugar to see if it can fix the fake flavor.
This is the first disappointing thing I’ve bought from Tealyra. To be fair, the website does say it’s a milder tasting tea, but I found it to be just too bland. Also, I underestimated the sweetness of the honeybush in this… I definitely recommend adding less sugar than usual, as this tea is naturally sweet.