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Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve tried this type of oolong twice before, both from TeaSpring and with a couple of years in between. The first time I thought it was wonderful so a few years later I bought it again and was faced with abject disappointment, because I really didn’t care for it any more. I believe I ended up giving the rest of it away. Recently(ish) this type of oolong had a lot of enthusiastic reviews on Steepster, in many cases this one from Teavivre in particular, so as I was putting in an order anyway, I figured I would try a sample of it. Even better, because my order reaching the price that it did, my sample was free. Ha! Win.
The leaves have a peculiar aroma because they don’t smell like an oolong at all. They smell like a black tea. I can’t actually pick much out in the way of notes, other than that high-grown-ish tobacco-y one, which was rather far from what I’d expected to find in an oolong. Try as I might I couldn’t actually find any of the notes I normally associate with oolong at all.
After steeping it’s more oolong-y and slightly floral and wooden. It’s less perplexing now and even has a faint note of fruit somewhere in there. Something peach-y, I think, but I might be influenced by the fact that I remember at one point reading about this particular type of oolong being characterised by having a note of peach. So I might be picking up some peach.
The flavour is very floral, which is a little unfortunate because I don’t much care for floral. It often comes off as a bit soapy or perfume-y to me. Oh well. Looks like the second time was I tried this type of oolong was not a fluke. Neither, mind you, do I think my first go with it was, but it was during a time where I also greatly enjoyed Darjeeling. My tastes simply changed in between the first and second time. And clearly they haven’t changed back yet. When I start drinking Darj by the liter, I’ll know to try this type of oolong again as well.
Anyway, apart from the floral notes, there’s definitely a note of fruit now, and it’s not something I’m imagining this time. It’s definitely there and it’s quite strong once you get through all the flowers. Again, I’m thinking a juicy peach. There are also some notes of wood and a slight hint of grass.
Well, the floral aspect rather put me off, so I’m glad I just got me a test sample. For someone who enjoys high grown teas, I imagine this would be excellent. For me… Well, I prefer something darker and earthy.
I tried brewing this two different ways today, in a porcelain gaiwan and a terracotta clay teapot; I’ve always found a bitter taste to (most) oolongs, and a friend suggested I try brewing them in clay to reduce that, which I think works, but I’ve not tested side-by-side with the same tea ’til now.
3g-4g in a gaiwan using 95C water at about 30 seconds per steep. I re-infused the leaves about five times, and both my housemate and I tasted the liquor of each infusion. He found it pleasant, mild and sweetly vegetal; I found it mouth-puckeringly, nose-wrinkling bitter, and getting worse with each infusion until I couldn’t drink any more of it.
7g in 500ml of 95C water in a terracotta clay teapot, 5-minute steeps for 3 infusions. Again, my housemate and I shared the liquor. This time we both found it mildly grassy with a pleasant sweetness, a faint earthy undertone, and a slightly spicy aftertaste. The final infusion was brighter and milder than earlier steeps, and it had lost the earthy undertone entirely.
I’m rating this tea on my clay-brewed experience of it because the extreme bitterness is something I seem to get with a lot of porcelain/glass brewed oolongs, and which most people don’t seem to find (or at least not to the same extent).
Brewed to my own peculiar tastes, this is an oolong I’d drink day-to-day; it’s not astonishingly captivating, but it’s nicely refreshing with mild flavours.
I drank this yesterday – about 7g brewed in 500ml of water at 95C in an unglazed terracotta clay teapot for 5 minutes per infusion for 3 infusions. The teapot has a little stand with a tealight to keep the tea hot so that I can sip it all day long; I was expecting, but didn’t find, that standing candle-warmed for an hour or two significantly altered the flavour – it deepened and softened it a little, but I found that quite enjoyable.
I usually use a gaiwan or glass jug to brew my teas, but a friend suggested using clay for oolongs because I get a very bitter taste with a lot of them (though looking at the other reviews here, bitterness doesn’t seem to be an issue with this tea, so I might try brewing it in a gaiwan the next time I drink it).
With so much water, even with fairly long steeping times, I was expecting this to be quite weak, but even on the third infusion it had a delicate but full flavour, floral with a vanilla-ish hint, and a rich, sweet and quite heavy scent.
A subtle but nicely flavoured tea that’s very pleasant.
Free sample from Teavivre. Thank you.
I like Alishan, so I was really pleased to be sent this for review. I had a friend round for games last night (yes, I am a gamer), so I made a pot for both of us to see how he, a non-tea drinker, enjoyed it.
Upon opening the packet I was faced with little dark green nuggets of tea leaf. They had a slightly milky aroma to them. Upon steeping they opened up to fill the pot with huge leaves, some with large bits of stalk still attached. It’s a wonder there was still space in the pot for water! Did I mention that the leaves are huge and whole? Beautiful.
As the hot water hit the leaves, a waft of honeysuckle sweet oolong smell filled the room. The tasting notes from Teavivre mention gardenia scent. I’m going to have to sniff some gardenias for comparison. Whatever, the scent is brilliant. It’s sweet and floral and brings to mind all the good things about a springtime garden.
Drinking the tea, I was most struck by the creaminess of it all. It was smooth, sweet and clean, but also round and creamy. It brought to mind sipping nectar from honeysuckle, when I was a child. The sweetness extended into the aftertaste, which was great while it lasted, although I did not find it endured as much as other teas. The tea itself was also very relaxing. I felt very much at peace after drinking it. If you like floral, full-bodied teas, then I think this one is for you. Well, it’s for me, anyway.
Oh, and my friend? He said that I had spoiled him with a really great tea. Job done, I think.
I’ve tried several White Peony varieties lately, and this is one of the better ones. Thank you, RogersCK for the sample!
It is very similar to Adagio’s White Symphony. It is fuller-bodied than many other white teas I’ve tried, but still very smooth with no astringency or bitterness. Like the White Symphony, it’s slightly sweet with a hint of nectar that reminds me of the nectar we sucked out of field clover as a child (I’m guessing this is probably what many describe as honeysuckle).
I steeped at 185 degrees for about two minutes (maybe slightly longer – I like a bolder taste) and added just under 1 tsp of table sugar.
Edited to add: Second steep – even better than the first! Brews to a deeper golden color and the flavor is even a touch more robust. I could be way off here as it’s been a while since I’ve had black tea, but the flavor almost reminds me of a good English Breakfast (but far more delicate).
I was too ambitious when I brewed this as I was making three cups at once (all of which will be sipdowns —>105) and so I over-steeped this a bit. I will definitely have to reorder another sample of this when I do my next teavivre order. I can see the potential in this although this result is just a touch too strong for me. It smells fruity and sweet and I get bits of that in each sip. Had I not over-boiled it, I might have tasted it more.
Time for another oolong sample!
Now this is what I think of when I think of oolong – very green, light, slightly buttery and very floral. It’s bright and refreshing. I usually start with a black tea in the morning but this is very good. It’s much like a gentle wake-up, a tingling on my tastebuds, instead of the usual slap-to-my-face from the stronger alternatives. (Bolder Black & Tiger Assam to name a few!)
I think I prefer roastier oolongs over floral ones, but there is a time to appreciate these ones too. And I think the Iron Goddess variety is one of the most popular? I’ve had a few versions of this, and I think I’m happiest with this one from Teavivre!
There’s a slight seaweed aftertaste here – I think I may have oversteeped it just a tad, so next time I’ll try 2, or 2.5 minutes.
I’ve heard tell that Oolong is an ancient Chinese remedy for hangovers, so, in the interest of science, today I’m looking for empirical evidence in my teacup.
It was movie-and-harissa-chicken night in my house last night, which is an excuse to break out the beer, because harissa is made almost entirely of chilis, so something is needed to put out the fire, or at least numb the inflamed senses.
I got a couple of hundred grams of this Ali Shan in the TeaVivre anniversary sale (along with too many Puerhs to count, or to fit in my tea-tins, or, probably, ever manage to drink). I was introduced to Oolong by TeaVivre when Angel sent me some free samples last year, and this one was the best tea, hands-down, I’ve ever had.
On my 3rd steep of this, I’m only halfway through my research. It’s a double-blind placebo-controlled study but for the control-group results I’ll have to wait for my housemate to get home from work and ask him how he feels.
But so far, I feel no better than I did a couple of hours ago, though the tea tastes as delicious as ever, and its warm butteriness and autumn-leaves smell is making me care less about my fuzzy head.
Interestingly, Wikipedia cites some research that claims alcohol ‘has been found outside the solar system, in stars and planetary-forming regions of space.’ By a staggering coincidence, the movie we watched last night was War of the Worlds.
Flavors: Butter, Milk, Sweet
I received some samples of Taiwan oolongs from Angel at TeaVivre this morning, and this was the first one I tried. I made it in a gaiwan with the whole of the sample pack (5g or 7g, I think; the weight wasn’t on the packet), and steeped for just half a minute or so each time with water of about 90C.
I haven’t had a lot of oolong before, and I’ve always found them a bit bitter for my taste, but this one was incredible – it’s been elevated to my favourite tea of the moment. It has a warm and very distinct sweet flavour that has a gentle spicy hint, and an addictive aroma of sweet-mellow autumny grasses.
I got about eight full-flavoured infusions out of the leaves before the flavour started to weaken, and I was tempted to try to squeeze a couple more out. Will definitely be buying a stock of this, I’m smitten with it.
Backlog: Catching up on reviewing samples today. I was sent this tea as part of Teavivre’s spring collection and have not yet written them up. This is a shame, because I enjoyed all the teas in the collection. I’ve also just realised that I sampled this tea two years ago. So, how is the 2015 picking?
The leaves are tiny curls that expand a little in the pot to create a grassy bed in the teapot. It’s times like these that I am pleased that I use a glass teapot for these teas.
The dry leaf has a savoury spinach aroma that is evident in the liquor too. The liquor is a lovely yellow-green colour. It has notes of spinach and nuts with that savoury edge to it, but the flavours are delicate rather than strong. The aftertaste has a slight minty note to it, cooling in the mouth. The vegetal notes dominate the aftertaste while the savoury element lurks on the edges. This is a lovely refreshing tea.
Flavors: Nutty, Spinach, Vegetal
I received another parcel of samples from Teavivre yesterday. This is the first one I picked out to write about. Thank you, Teavivre.
The dry leaf is amazing. It is dark green and looks like little twisty shavings of green. It also smells amazing, a really strong and enticing vegetal smell that is a little reduced when it has been steeped. The liquor is a delicate light green colour, again with the vegetal aroma. Perhaps spinach or green beans? It’s certainly something like that. Then comes the real surprise. I was expecting something strong with a hefty kick but the first couple of sips were incredibly delicate instead. It was only as the tea cooled that the flavour developed more towards what I expected. The liquor was heavy but sweet and the nutty element came out as I continued to drink. It was sweet with a lovely slightly spicy aftertaste. Another good one from Teavivre.
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
Tasting from the first steep, much of my expectations are met. The liquor tastes sweet and creamy, vegetal properties stand out, and the roasted flavour is good and continues to linger on after I’ve finished drinking.
From the second to fifth steeps, the roasting and the bold flavour really peaked. The third seemed a bit heavy, but not overwhealming.
Wrapping up with the sixth and seventh steeps, much of the flavours from the previous cups continued. Unfortunately the seventh had a dry effect on my mouth, but was otherwise enjoyable.
I enjoyed this more than the Qing Xiang Dong Ding oolong. But that’s because I usually prefer roasted oolongs. I intend on trying the samples using a gaiwan and later on with a teapot. If I were to short steep this tea again, I’d probably stop at six, because those were the most satisfying.
Steep parameters (Teavivre’s website suggestion):
100ml gaiwan, 7g sample, rinse and 7 steeps (15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 60s, 80s)