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Recent Tasting Notes
Before I start this review, allow me to state that I did not brew this tea gongfu style and I probably should have. I tried a couple different brewing methods for this one. The first was a modified three step infusion that I tend to use on a lot of Chinese, Indian, and Sri Lankan teas. The second was a traditional one step Western infusion. I am really not certain that either of the methods I used did this tea justice.
The first infusion yielded a pale golden liquor with an earthy, woody, and slightly floral nose. In the mouth, I detected delicate notes of moss, wood, and grass with underlying herbal notes of tulsi and mint. The second infusion yielded a dark golden liquor with an even earthier, woodier nose that also yielded impressions of chocolate, honey, and toast. In the mouth, delicate, yet heavier notes of wood, moss, and grass were rounded out by flavors of chocolate, honey, toast, and malt. The third and final infusion yielded a dark golden liquor with a pronounced malty, toasty character on the nose that was underscored by impressions of wood. Notes of malt, earth, and wood were noticeable on the palate. These flavors were underscored by subtle impressions of chocolate and toast.
As for the one step extended Western infusion, the liquor produced was a dark golden amber. The nose showed aromas of malt, honey, toast, grass, chocolate, herbs, and wood. In the mouth, I detected woody, honeyed, and malty notes underscored by herbal, grassy, and somewhat chocolaty flavors.
Overall, I was not exactly blown away by this tea, but as I stated earlier, my brewing methods may not have done it justice. Still, I am not certain I will revisit this one. The overall impression I am left with is of a subtle, smooth, soft, and clean tea lacking in the rustic characteristics I typically expect from wild picked teas. For me, it is not that there is not enough going on flavorwise with this tea- it is that there is not enough going on at once to hold my interest. Honestly, I found this to be kind of a boring tea. I may try it again when I am equipped to brew it gongfu style, but then again I may not. We’ll just have to see about that.
Flavors: Chocolate, Dry Grass, Earth, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mint, Moss, Toast, Tulsi, Wood
Finished off the last of my stash of this tea as a cold brew the other day and I’m sure going to miss it. This is by far the best jasmine I’ve ever had and that’s saying a lot. It has a soft, silky jasmine flavor that just tastes divine. The little petals of jasmine floating in there are a nice touch. I feel white tea pairs better with jasmine than green or oolong and really allows its floral character to shine. I tried this side by side with Yunnan Sourcing’s jasmine silver needles – an excellent tea in its own right – and found this one slightly more enjoyable. But I also find most high quality jasmine teas taste pretty similar, so while I would buy this again I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way for it.
Flavors: Creamy, Jasmine, Vanilla
From 2016 Dark matter group buy:
Tried this again, this time with a gaiwan much to the annoyance of my cat. She can’t sit on my lap while I fumble with my thermos and pouring and whatnot so she sat in another chair and glared at me until it was time to hold her again. Oh well
Used just under boiling water in a thermos so it gradually cooled as I went along. I lost count of the steeps but it was upwards of 10 to be sure. 1st steep was the same toasty flavor as last time. On the 2nd one I got a lot of char flavor and it was actually rather unpleasant. 3rd steep started to open up with the malty black tea flavor with the toast at the end. Subsequent steeps were similar with the toasty end becoming slightly astringent as well. At the end I was brewing multiple minutes and getting light yellow infusions. The toast was gone and it was now smooth and warm and sweet.
Well it’s probably a little too heavy on the roast for my tastes. The ending was a great experience however.
From 2015 Dark Matter group buy:
I finally get to try one of these dark matter teas! I’ve been rather busy so I’ve been trying to sip down some of my older teas and sample packs rather than to rush through these and forget what I’ve tasted. I chose this one since unless it wowed me it doesn’t really sound Ike something that I would be interested in and I wasnt quite able to give in 100% attention anyway with making dinner and whatnot.
I was expecting something like a darker TGY but the leaves were in small smooth compact irregular balls with a ruddy dark chocolate color. It definitely smells toasty like hojicha or roasted barley tea. The tea unfurls into very nice whole leaves a only slightly lighter chocolate color than the dried.
I brewed this for 3 steps western style. Just under boiling water with about 1.5-3 min infusions. The first one was mostly toasty. Like pure toast, with an edge to it that almost suggested burnt or charcoal. It wasn’t bad but I started to question if there would be much of a taste difference if any plant matter was so thoroughly toasted. Later steeps still had a lot of toast but actually had some identifiable tea flavor although it was more like a malty black tea than a green oolong flavor.
I think this tea would probably benefit from some shorter steeps to tease some other flavor out from the toast. I’ll probably brew the remainder of the sample in a gaiwan and do so at a time I can pay more attention to it. As is though it’s pleasant enough to drink but not something I would ever buy for myself.
This is supposedly a very late autumn tea, picked November 6, 2015. Typical northern profile, floral but with decent bitterness. The tea is very young with thin stems, can’t say these trees or bushes are very old at all. But the tea is clearly different from the 1800 cake with the thin stems and fragile leaves, compared to the thicker stems. Not much thickness here in the brew at all, color is a yellow tinging to orange which seems consistent with an autumn picking.
I brewed all six grams of the sample generously provided to me by Steepster pals in the recent Sheng Olympics group buy. About 100 ml or less. Did about seven steeps and our unseasonably warm weather turned my leaves a bit mucky on day 3 of sitting in the gaiwan, so I decided to toss them after getting a murky looking cup.
Couldn’t find any information on the price tag as the tea is now sold out and was available on pre-order only. Still, my benchmark remains the Chawangshop Hekai at $36 for 200g. This Verdant tea is not a bad autumn brew, pleasant enough and would have steeped much longer than the seven steps I gave it. Can’t see any reason to complain about it as a drinker, aside from the thin brew. But spring tea can be had in the $30 price range for 357g from places like Yunnan Sourcing, so the budget-minded have better choices than this. The 300 year is a boutique romp for people with cash who already have everything they want from the 2015 season.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, White Grapes
This sample comes from Kittenna and I believe this is the correct one? There are a few versions here on Steepster…
Brewed this up Gong Fu today; kind of a lazy Gong Fu though where I just poured infusions into a bigger pitcher, so the flavour notes of each infusion got all mixed up and what not. Personally, I didn’t find this one to be mind blowing or anything – pretty typical of a Tieguanyin, actually. It had that sort of sweet vegetal/grassy combo note in the forefront of the sip and characteristic floral and slightly fruity body/finish. The floral notes were kind of in line with lilies and orchids, and the fruit notes were peachy but in a way that was almost a touch under ripe?
Also, this had a mild roastiness to it that, in combination with the grassy/vegetal component, treaded the line of tasting like sort of crisper, crunchy Autumn leaves. It wasn’t quite there though. More so, I’d say it evoked a feeling of that cusp right where Summer is transitioning into Autumn and the green leaves on the trees are just starting to go orange. I really enjoyed that quality in today’s session.
I’ve only had a couple of roasted Oolongs before. Maybe the ones I’ve had were poor quality, even though one I had was supposedly good. They mostly tasted like tire fire or burnt rotting wood to me. Not that there’s not a place for that, like having a tea to satisfy an immersion in self contempt, or an occasional anomalous craving, but certainly far from my favorites. This tea… Yeah. This one is delicious.
The first steeps were all intense dark chocolate. The smell, the flavor, everything. I pick up a lot of chocolate in most Keemun, and some ripe Puerh but this is uncanny. If someone blindfolded me and told me that I was drinking hot chocolate made with water instead of milk, I would believe them!
As the steeps went on, the bitter dark chocolate (a very good thing) started to sweeten up. The chocolate was still undeniably present but milder than at first. All of the flavors really lingered a long time, chocolate and sweetness going on forever. The tea started picking up some sweet potato skin flavor. The body, smooth, and creamy.
This beauty was still going, the sweet potato flavor was now in full tuber mode, meaty interior, skin and all. And what better to accompany sweet potato than with marshmallow. Favors of marshmallow roasted over a campfire were now present and picking up with every infusion, as was the sweetness already present in earlier steeps.
The main flavors were now a ghost of their former selves, but the sweetness still held on. The whole time through, the tea was never overly tannic, the dryness being somewhere along the lines of a gentle Keemun, rather than a green Oolong, or a typical black. And I had brewed it up at a higher temperate range, 200 to 205F. Just to see what it’s like, I’ll go lower next time, 180-185. I have to thank LP for including this in the Dark Matter buy, I was pretty close to giving up on roasted Oolong. I could have kept this going for a few more rounds of hot water with lingering sweetness, but it’s time to stop watching Star Trek and get outside. Even if it is taking my taste-buds to strange new places, where I have never gone with a roasted Oolong before, it’s beautiful outside!
I used 2.7g of leaf in a 160ml Easy Gaiwan, a little less than half full, so about 60ml or 70ml. I steeped it at 200F to 205F. The infusions were flash steeps for the first 4 steeps, between 10 to 30 sec for the next 6, then a minute and up for the remaining 6 to 8, the last few being a few minutes each. (I didn’t do an exact count)
I’m still working my way through the Sheng Olympics teas.
I was fully prepared to dislike this tea. It didn’t help that I’m drinking it the morning after a session with 2014 Last Thoughts, which is one of the best teas I’ve ever had. However, this tea stands up to the comparison.
I started out a bit disappointed. The dry leaves consist of fairly tightly compressed small chunks. Not the whole leaves I’ve come to expect from premium teas. The first steep was light in color, with a mild aroma reminiscent of butter. The taste was light and viscous, with an incredible feel in the mouth. As I sipped that first cup the tea just grew on me. Every sip seemed a bit better than the last. I’m sure this was in part due to the extremely powerful cha qi, which started in my chest and arms and is now a whole-body experience, on a par with the Last Thoughts.
The flavors are mild, reminding me of some green-style oolongs I’ve had in the past: butter, straw, and hints of flowers. Strong, long finish, which is probably part of the reason why each sip seemed to improve.
Third steep is a bit darker: medium straw. Nose is still modest, but now is spice rather than butter. The taste is completely different: strong spice character, with the older, buttery flavor barely visible underneath. I like this flavor almost as much as the first, and give the tea credit for added complexity. The viscosity is still there but there is a bit of sharp bite riding on top, and a subtle bitterness underneath, which extends into the finish. I’m not a fan of bitter teas, but this is just a hint, adding interest. The fourth steep had the same characteristics as the third, but more integrated.
I don’t recall the exact price this tea sold for, but recall it was reasonable. I suspect that purchasers got fair value despite the marketing hype. If it hadn’t sold out I’d be buying some.
Thanks for this in your sale, TheLastDodo! I thought this sounded decent, as the base gets a high rating, but I’m not sure I like the base or the blend. I usually like smokey teas but this one isn’t for me. It’s not too smokey but the black tea itself is light. The other ingredients weren’t very noticeable but otherwise quite odd and didn’t seem to play well together. Hmm. Maybe I just don’t get these ingredients.
Steep #1 // 2 tsps // few minutes after boiling // 3 min steep
Not my favorite cup of tea. The more and more raw pu er I try the more and more I’m not sure I like it. This one has a strong tobacco aroma from my gaiwan, although there is little to no aroma from the liquor. The first infusion has a light color and a light, sweet taste. There are hints of dark fruit. Perhaps plums or cherries. The second infusion brings forth a tobacco taste and slight dryness in the mouth. The taste increases and the liquor darkens ever so slightly to a muddy green. The third and fourth infusions brought forth an almost smoky green tea flavor much like a gunpowder. Anyways, we’ll see what my next sheng brings…
Flavors: Plums, Smoke, Tobacco