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Recent Tasting Notes
Note: I am very new to pu’er and am mostly writing a review for my own records. My opinion is not that of a seasoned veteran.
The brick is very dark and very dense, difficult to break up. I used an oyster knife and had to put a lot of weight behind it to get anywhere. In the little chunk I broke off, I found a bit of red string and a human hair. Not a great first impression.
The gaiwan lid smell after the rinse is pretty fishy and a little burnt. Rinse soup was pretty light and thin. The first steep (~6s) gave a much deeper colored soup and the smell of the lid lost a lot of its pungency, it sort of smelled like nothing other than a faint hay smell. Pretty weak flavor, it reminds me of the tea you get served free at a Chinese restaurant but with a little hint of fishiness. Second steep (~10s) brought some of the smokey smell back. I can barely see light through the soup in my 200ml glass cha hai. Flavor is coming through a little. I taste chalk and wet earth. There is a bit more aftertaste happening as well but it’s shallow in the throat and not very strong. Third steep (~15s) got rid of the smokiness but I got back a little fishiness and new tennis ball can on the lid aroma. Smelled like waking up in a tent after the sun has been beating down on it. Similar color in the soup. Flavor is going a little more vegetal, like boiled tubers you didn’t wash the dirt off of. Aftertaste is even weaker than the second steep, I don’t think I’ll get it back. Fourth steep (~20s) and the smokey aroma is back. It smells like burnt firewood that you left in the pit and it got rained on. Soup is lightening up a little bit. Flavor is very light again and the body has almost disappeared. No aftertaste, no throat feeling, just boring tea. We’re back to the flavorless Chinese restaurant oolong. Slight mushroom creaminess to the flavor.
I’m going to keep drinking this I guess but I’ll stop writing it down, it’s just boring at this point. At $0.09/g, I would not buy again. It was an impulse buy while I waited for an order from China since I live down the street from a TeaSource.
Has a strong umami character with green veg, grass, and corn notes. There is also a scent of burnt rubber in the gaiwan. Has a very light sweetness that decreases with each steeping. Brewing Gong Fu style, it’s good for 4-6 infusions, starting with 15 sec and increasing the time from there. Not sure about the quality of this tea compared to any other Bi Luo Chun. Dry leaves are almost brown and turn a very pale green after brewing. It’s a nice tea that can be brewed many different ways but one that I have to be in just the right mood for.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Grass, Smoke, Sweet, Umami
I bought this tea a few years ago, and mostly forgot about it. At the time, I had a pretty narrow idea about what tea is “supposed” to taste like, and this didn’t fit.
Now that my perspective has changed, I dug it out again. I’m glad I did.
1 cute little pressed heart in my 120mL gaiwan, with boiling water. 5 sec rinse, then started infusing at 5s.
The result is sweet, floral, and smooth. No discernible bitterness. The rose mostly comes through in the scent and the aftertaste.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt, Rose, Tea
I have a fondness for Nilgiri teas…iced. Most are a bit abrasive hot (with the exception of the lovely Conoor Estate Nilgiri I had from Single Origin Teas). But they do have those brisk tannins that stand up to ice in a way “nicer” teas can’t. During a sample day I tried this hot and of course didn’t quite care for it. But it had a lovely raisin flavor I just had to try cold so I brought some home. At around $2/oz I couldn’t really go wrong. I’ve been too lazy to properly ice it, but it has been fantastic cold brewed. Brisk and crisp with a dark raisin maltyness at the end. So good for the first time this summer I am cold brewing absolutely nothing else.
The leaves on this are also very lovely. Long, thin, wiry, and very dark.
“Roasted seaweed” is the best description I can come up with for how this tea tastes. A little bit grassy, a little bit salty, and just a hint of smoke. The leaf is also very finely shredded, escaping through the holes of my infuser and leaving behind a thick layer of residue in the bottom of my cup. This was an interesting tea to sample, but probably not something I would ever re-purchase.
Flavors: Grass, Marine, Seaweed, Smoked
I had this at the tea tasting on Tuesday and it left quite the impression on me. I didnt take any notes on it other than “very good, fresh, *”, but I remember being impressed about how clear and green it tasted without being grassy. Also there really wasn’t a hint of astringentcy in my cup. I keep regretting not picking up 2 oz of it, but I’m currently on a tea buying hiatus until I can sip down some of what I have…and errr…get a job.
Flavors: Green, Sweet, Vegetal
This tea has a nice toasty seaweed taste that’s perfect as an afternoon splurge. It steeps a light yellow and has a pretty seaweed smell to it with flat pan roasted leaves. I haven’t tried re-steeping it yet since I’ve only had it twice. I’ll update my review later after I try steeping it for a second time.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Grass, Roasted, Seaweed, Vegetal
I received 2 oz. of this tea for free after ordering several other teas from Tea Source and so far I’m relatively happy with it. While it doesn’t really smell like much in the bag (basically it just smells like generic black tea), it has a nice smooth taste that first time tea drinkers would enjoy. Even as a bit of an old hat with tea I still find drinking this tea enjoyable. I let it steep for about 10 minutes, since I like my black tea nice and strong and then doctored it with a little bit of local honey and lactaid. It stands up to the ‘milk and sugar’ very well and has a smooth robust flavor that sits surprisingly gently on the palate. When left to steep this long it comes out in a beautiful mahogany color that turns into a gorgeous tan when milk is applied. While it wouldn’t be my first choice for my early cuppa, it is perfect for those who don’t want a ‘blended’ tea first thing in the morning. Or for somebody new to tea.
Flavors: Earth, Peat, Smooth, Thick
An excellent example of the form, Earl Grey White Tip is by far my favorite EG.
Yesterday I tried it gongfu cha style. The resulting brew had a strong bergamot flavor, more forward than the western style brew. I started at 30 seconds and increased it a bit each time, until about 2 minutes for the final, 5th infusion.
Flavors: Bergamot, Tea
I bought this months ago, but finally remembered to buy a can of sweetened condensed milk so I could try it this weekend! This is an interesting product: basically, just a blend of fresh spices that you are instructed to mix with sweetened condensed milk and then add to black tea. I followed the directions on the bag to the letter, mixing 1 tablespoon of the chai into a can of sweetened condensed milk and letting it sit overnight, then mixing 1 tablespoon of the resulting “goop” into a brewed cup of their Breakfast Assam. This resulted in a sweet, creamy, spicy cup of tea with a fair amount of heat…a bit more ginger than I would personally prefer. While this is definitely an easy way to make a chai latte, the flavor leaves something to be desired for me. I prefer their (sadly discontinued) Reena’s Chai tea over this one.
Flavors: Ginger, Milk, Spicy, Sweet
I bought this for making Chai, but decided to try drinking it straight yesterday. It’s a CTC tea, so I was expecting a strong, bitter flavor. I was pleasantly surprised! The flavor is definitely robust and malty, but only slightly bitter. With a splash of milk, it made for a lovely breakfast tea! Still need to try it with their Chai mix, though.
I’ve tried this one both hot and iced and really haven’t been impressed. It brews up to a beautiful lime green color and it smells like limes, but that distinctive lime flavor I was hoping for just isn’t coming through for me. Instead, I get a bit of the herbaceous green base, a touch of indeterminate citrus, and a lingering tart aftertaste. Disappointing.
Flavors: Citrus, Herbaceous, Tart
Several years ago, I sampled an Irish Breakfast tea from a (now defunct) Etsy shop called The Great British Tea Store. It turned out to be one of the best breakfast blends I’ve ever tried: rich and malty with an unexpected note of sweet caramel in the aftertaste. While this one isn’t quite up to that standard, I am enjoying it! It has a robust, slightly bitter flavor that is perfect with a generous splash of milk. This one will get you going in the morning!
Flavors: Bitter, Malt
I got this as a sample during my last purchase. This is a nice flavored and fragrant tea but it finishes with a floral lotus taste I don’t care for at all. I tried cold brewing this and it was crisp and refreshing but it brought out more of the lotus flavor. Bummer.
SUMMER SIPDOWN! got a packet of this in some long-ago Steepster Select box, intended for iced tea – so that’s how i made it. although i must admit the instructions called for 1 tsp/4g tea to 18 oz of water, i just used ALL the tea (8 grams) to an entire IKEA pitcher (3/4 gal?) of water, let sit overnight, served cold. i must say quite a nice iced tea, very refreshing here in the land of SweetLiptonIcedTea. however, as i’m not the biggest iced tea fan, this was most likely a one-off. i’ll enjoy while it lasts.
I got this as a sample with another purchase a few weeks ago. I then had it as a prepared cup for their sample day. They brewed it western style for that and while I thought it was good but not nessesarily “choicest” and I didn’t find it interesting enough to buy 2 oz. Now that I had a chance to try my sample brewed gong fu style I can see what all the fuss is about. The leaves have a very fruity smell reminding me of either a type of candy or dried fruit snack…can’t quite put my finger on it. The first steep was light and very fruity and sweet and in subsequent steeps toasty notes from the roasting started to come out.
I’m cold brewing my other half of the sample now since I saw that recommended and I could definately see this one as refreshing.
Another tea I had as a sample and had to buy. I’ve passed over this before because of the name as I thought it was some sort of flavored tea, but one sip showed me how wrong I was. It’s very oxidized so it’s wonderfully dark but doesn’t have the astringency of a black tea. I found it to be a bit peachy without much roasted flavor. I was a little put off to the description mentioning Ruby 18, but after trying the two side by side they do share some of that complexity that makes Ruby 18 so wonderful just without any of the liqiorice notes.
I had this as a part of a sample day sampler and walked out with two oz of it. Going in there I definately did not expect to be walking out of there with such a green oolong, but it had such a super silky mouthfeel I had to take some home. It’s very fragrent and floral with a bit of green tea bitterness. And.so.very.silky.
I’m also shocked by the number of resteeps I’m getting out of this. It’s like enough that I’ve lost count. Not bad for a green.
Flavors: Floral, Green
Picked a small bag of this up at the Tea Source after hearing intriguing descriptions of milk oolongs.
The tea taste is quite green, and mostly buried by the milk flavors. They impart a buttery, creamy flavor and texture. It’s an enjoyable drink, but not in the same way that most teas are enjoyable to me.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Tea, Vegetal
I love pearled tea. So easy to travel with and measure out. Nice large leaves when it’s all done. I’ve been looking for a black version for awhile so I had to snag some of this, and it ended up being an interesting tea in its own right. First off it smells rather amazing like dark dried fruit. In playing with this in the past few weeks I’ve found it to brew kind of light so I go heavy on the leaf and steep for at least a full five minutes. It has a bit of tannins that keep it bright, but don’t seem to make it undrinkable if oversteeped so this is definately a travel infuser candidate. The tea has a bit of cocoa notes and dark sugar plus a long lingering aftertaste as well as the feeling of a bit of tannins on the teeth.