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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown of this sample, which I have really enjoyed. If brewed improperly (too hot of water), it’s a bit too roasty (at least that’s what I remember from months ago).
This is a slightly roasted green and tightly-rolled oolong with a sweetish osmathus scent that tends more towards jasmine than did the Osmanthus Tea. The base is much better, though: a decent oolong with a nice long aftertaste that is minerally, like cucumber. A very pleasant cup.
I got two steeps out of it, just so the leaves would unfurl all the way, but the second wasn’t as sweet.
Flavors: Mineral, Osmanthus, Sweet
I really hated this tea when I first tried it. It was bitter and awful, with the overwhelming flavor of burnt flower petals, like someone boiled away a generic Chinese restaurant tea until nothing but the bare kettle remained.
I realize now that I was just destroying a perfectly fine green tea with boiling hot water. Now that I have my fabulous fancy kettle, this is a decent osmanthus scented cup.
The osmathus is not terribly strong. It reminds me of a less perfume-y jasmine, much sweeter, but I still wound’t describe this tea as sweet like I would some oolongs. More like the memory of sweet, like how you can almost taste a sweet smelling flower without physically doing so. The flavor is also most prevalent on the sip. The aftertaste is slightly astringent but strongly reminiscent of steamed veggies. Like you ate stem of a steamed artichoke.
Pretty good overall, I’d like to find it at an upscale restaurant, but nothing I would buy quantity of. Now that I have the brewing temp right, I think I will enjoy the rest of this sample.
Flavors: Artichoke, Osmanthus
Made a mug of this. It’s got a nice, light flavor to it, good for my morning tea: it is not an ‘in-your-face’ tea, but that’s fine for me . Sometimes I don’t want to be kicked in the pants. It’s rather unspectacular, tasting a little ‘foresty’. You know, what you smell when you walk in a pine forest (albeit it does NOT taste like pine trees). It has a nice lingering sweetness. It’s a very unspectacular tea, but it’s certainly drinkable and not a bad oolong for drinking daily.
The first time I drank this I found it a little too light, but after a bit more than the recommended amount of leaf I fell in love with it. I was thinking of adding honey but ended up not doing so because it is so sweet already.
This tea brought back memories of the time I asked a fellow of Irish descent which teas are used in Irish breakfast blend. His reply? Black tea.
Very standard black tea profile, as in: Lipton, Red Rose, Tetley, if that’s what you’re after (and many prople are), then you may as well just head on down to the grocery store. Nothing wrong with a stout and economical midafternoon caffeine jolt, of course!
Perhaps the Irish fellow thought that I assumed that everything Irish somehow had to be green?
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Flavors: Mineral, Wood
For the first time in what seems like ages (it really hasn’t been that long, just feels like it) I got mail! There was an adorably tiny box sitting by my door with China Post labels and a list of the contents inside, which was a teapot! A while ago I did a thing on Influenster that landed me a $25 ebay gift card (and I have another on the way, happy dance) and I was browsing on ebay right before Chinese New Year…for teapots…like I do…and found a shop having a sale on a beautiful little Zi Sha Xi Shi, claimed to be handmade, so I said, why not? I have wanted a Xi Shi for my Green Oolongs for a while (my original Green Oolong pot shall be repurposed for either Bao Zhong or Osmanthus Oolong, I love that pot, but the top handle makes it a giant pain to clean, so using it for a tea I do not drink as much of works for me) because this pots are adorable, I call them sphere pots and have decided that mine is a dude for some reason. Perhaps I shall call it Baron Harkonnen because I am not a good person.
So, it is Thursday, meaning I am cracking open an older notebook and reviewing a tea from my mysterious past (aka, last year) specifically Upton Tea Imports’ “New Style” Fairy Oolong, a 2014 Pre-Chingming Oolong that I had the pleasure of ordering the day it came out (conveniently I was going to place an order with Upton soon and I got an email saying there were new Oolongs, because of course I get alerted when there are new Oolongs) from Hunan. Not really sure why it is called a fairy oolong, it does look similar to a vibrantly green Shui Xian, so maybe that is why? Regardless, I am a sucker for whimsy and Oolongs, so I tossed it into my cart. Holy moly, this is one massively floral oolong, rather heady, with notes of sweet honeysuckle, orchid, and hyacinth. There is also a note of mineral (specifically spring water) and a touch of buttery vegetal, like lima beans. Mmm, lima beans, I really want some now, my mom makes the best and I am hungry.
Into the gaiwan the leaves went, aw, this was back when I only had the one chipped white gaiwan, I now have eight gaiwans, how things have changed in a year! The brewed leaves are so vibrantly green, and very floral. Strong notes of orchid waft from the steamy leaves, there are lesser notes of honeysuckle and hyacinth, but oh man that orchid! The liquid is a blend of buttery, orchid, and a touch vegetal, just a tiny bit of distant beans sneaking in at the end.
The first steep, as expected, starts out rather light and fairly smooth, not as smooth as some oolongs, it has a bit of a vegetal sharpness similar to green teas. The taste is super sweet, like honeysuckle nectar, this moves to mineral and a touch of green at the finish.
Second steep’s aroma is light, sweet, and very orchid heavy, so much flower! The taste is also super floral, it starts out orchid and hyacinth and then moves onto sweet honeysuckle for a delicate finish. This steep was not as complex as the first steep but that flower explosion made up for a lack of complexity.
For the final steep the aroma is still super orchid heavy, but now it is joined by delicate mineral notes, like water being poured on a slab of limestone. The taste starts out buttery and sweet, with notes of lima beans that fade to honey and orchid. Lastly the tea ends with a lingering mineral note with a touch of honey. I really liked this tea, it was super floral and sweet, and that mineral note was awesome, I do not find that in teas as often as I would like. Because apparently I like licking rocks or something like that.
Another sample from Sil that’s been sitting in my cupboard for awhile…quite awhile.
I’ve had a few yellow teas before, and admittedly, I don’t crave them, but I’d never turn down a cup :)
This one started out a little soapy tasting, but then that passed & it is bringing to mind a few things:
oceanic minerals & kelp
That pretty much covers it. It’s a little vegetative, a little sweet, not something I’d probably ever add to my collection, but a pleasant change of pace.
Fruity and sweet. I may order more of this for work. It doesn’t have the heaven, nut and spice aroma I like so much in a TGY, but if this holds up thru multiple infusions, it’s a pretty good value for your oolong buck.
There’s even a hint of a malty-ness, like a black. But there’s so much honey and sweet… Edit: it loses something magical after the 2nd steep or so. Maybe this would be better for the morning when I don’t have time for more than 1 or 2 steeps.
Sample from Kaylee. Thank you!
Some time ago I mixed hibiscus flowers with ground vanilla beans and brewed it for my husband, who really likes both flavors. He actually didn’t like it much, but I really enjoyed it. The combination of the earthy sweetness of the vanilla with the tartness of the Hibiscus made for a very interesting combination. This tastes much the same, except I think the vanilla flavor is boosted a bit by the artificial flavors, but it’s pretty similar. I like it. It’s something I would happily include in my rotation of hibiscus teas.
Flavors: Earth, Hibiscus, Tart, Vanilla
Delicate, not too vegetal, mostly sweet. The tiniest hint of toasted.
I like this more an more the more I drink it. Since green tea is supposed to be the healthiest for you, I keep trying to find ones I enjoy. This is holding up to a second steep more and seems more forgiving than some others, in terms of not getting gross if you oversteep by a few seconds. It’s more like a cross between a white tea and a green oolong. It doesn’t have super complex flavor notes that crop up and the flavor doesn’t last for days in your mouth. So I’m giving it full credit for pleasing flavor (not overpoweringly artichoke or spinach), aroma and forgiveness to under/oversteeping. But it doesn’t get the few final stars for transcendence.
There’s a little hint of a smoky/bitterness I’m picking up. But it’s also a bit like miso/umami. Just a hint. Overall sweet, not overly vegetal.
Edit: I’ve found that if I do a quick rinse of the leaves with hot water (basically immediately discard the first steep) the bitterness is gone, but the toasty/smoky remains, as does that umami-like smell and hint of flavor. I enjoy the tea much more following this method. But then you get to the last sip/swallow in the cup… bitter again.