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Recent Tasting Notes
I feel like I’m a little late to the hype train when it comes to this tea but oh well…
Had a very pleasant fifteen infusion gong fu session with this tea after getting back from filling out passport information today. Trey had a friend over and the two of them sat with me during my session and we had a very intense conversation about American politics throughout so no tea and music pairings for this session
the few people who regularly read my tasting notes all collectively breathe a sigh of relief. In the same vain, I didn’t take my normal amount of notes while drinking this either because I was with company and I can’t ever really let them know how insane I am when it comes to tea. If I whipped out my laptop or a pad of paper to take physical notes then Trey would NEVER let me live it down. Also, just because I was talking politics doesn’t mean I want to talk politics now: I firmly believe talking about politics is important but it also gives me a headache because of all the stupid shit going on. And, for me at least, this tea community is my moment of peace/zen during the day – so the fewer headaches the better.
So, from memory…
Infusions one to four(ish) were a bit rougher; they had a very mild sort of roast to them, and underlying honey notes. Kind of what I originally interpreted as a wood flavour; but now that I’m thinking on it more consciously it’s a bit more like the smell of crunchy autumn leaves. Which, I know, makes NO sense as a flavour but that’s EXACTLY what it is. Fucking poetic flavour descriptors being so… poetic.
Infusions four to like eight(ish) were much lighter on the already light roast notes and then eventually not even really roasty at all. Lots of mild sweetness/honey though! But not really just honey; also kind of an agave like flavour, which is to say it tasted just a tiny bit caramel like/caramelized. Underlying fruit flavors such as raisin and lemon/lemon peel. All quite soft in terms of presence, though.
Infusions eight to fifteen were so delicate overall. Still a lot of honey in regard to flavour, just very lightly delivered in the sip. Finish was just the slightest bit lemony which was nice alongside the honey notes. Infusions twelve and thirteen were given to Trey and Gauge (Trey’s friend who was over talking politics with us) and they both found it very lovely although weren’t able to isolate any flavour notes. I’m not surprised; infusions fourteen and fifteen were SO soft to me that the flavour was barely detectable at all. Had I pushed for a sixteenth infusion I’m certain it would have just tasted like water.
Overall, very much liked this tea – it’s not often I push for so many infusions when brewing Gong Fu. I am surprised that I barely registered the “creamy” flavour that so many seemed to have observed. But the honey aspect was definitely DEAD on. There weren’t really any infusions that lacked that flavour.
EDIT: Also forgot to mention that my
small Bitterleaf tea order came today so I got to enjoy this session using one of my new teacups. This probably isn’t the best place for a teaware review, but…
This is the cup in question: https://www.bitterleafteas.com/shop/teaware/cookies-and-cream-partial-glaze-teacup
I have to say that it’s just a BEAUTIFUL cup aesthetically speaking. I loved the way the liquor looked in the teacup, and the glaze itself is so charming and perfectly named. It’s also well balanced in my opinion, and sits very nicely which IS something I was concerned about because of the shape of the base. Only complaints are pretty small all things considered: it’s pretty heavy as far as other cups in my collection go, which is a very small thing. The other thing is that the ‘lip’ of the cup is very thick and it felt just a smidgen awkward drinking out of.
But that said, I still want like four more, so…
Whoa, I totally understand why this tea is so highly rated and popular! It’s amazing! I didn’t want to wait for the tea to cool before tasting, so I I took a sip with a spoon, and before I realized, I had sipped almost half of the cup! I taste honey, butter, and cream. There’s a floral aftertaste that has me going “mmmm.”
Unfortunately, this tea doesn’t re-steep too well – I was only able to get 2 steeps (1 and 2 min) out of it. However, this is definitely going on my re-purchase list!
In terms of taste, I’m not really saying more than what has already been written. Here’s what I can add: this tea has a butterscotch thing going on along with the massive amounts of lilac florals. Maybe plumeria, but that’s my longing talking. It is sweet and buttery, but not as vegetal as other flavored milk oolongs. Maybe cooked spinach comes close, but that’s it. The sweetness and the florals dominate.
The balance between the flavoring and the natural floral qualities this tea has impresses me. What impresses me even more is the considerable complexity it has western. You maybe could brew this gong fu for a flower power sweet buttery oolong, but it might be too light for some. Either way, I wish I had more of it myself especially considering the price.
It actually stacks up against one of my favorite teas which is impressive. It’s not AS thick and sweet like toffee, but the smooth, thick, yet silky body is very welcoming. I would recommend this to someone just getting into tea for sure, and as something to try among more experienced addicts-I mean- drinkers as a decent flavored tea. The very natural florals and tropical coconut milk sweetness would be the appeal- the lightness and high leaf load for gong fu may be a deterrent. I could be wrong. I could also try it myself, but I do not want to squander it.
Hmm…really wasn’t feeling this tea. It seemed like it was lacking all the bright/vibrant flavors that make green tea good. The wet leaves had a salty vegetal or seaweed aroma. The first couple steeps were alright, with some light corn sweetness and a bit of astringency. As the little balls started to open up, the tea got quite bitter, to the point where I had to lower my steep times back down. I got some vegetal notes and a brief citric note at one point. I will try this again with lower temp or cold brew.
I don’t know if this tea is just a little old for green tea or what, but it was pretty flat, bitter, and just meh overall.
This tea was exceedingly light compared to the Taiwan Milk Oolong last night. I definitely got the mango in taste, texture, and smell with thick mouth feel and a transparent light quality. I was not sure what else I missed.
So I brew it up again, and more or less the same thing, only the creamy quality was sweeter. Like a sugar cane sweetness-maybe cotton candy-but sweetness is one of those subjective notes to me.
Oddly enough, it was not that vegetable to me. It did have a light grassiness to it along with a thick, and again, creamy body, but not as buttery as other flavored milk oolong. Coconut oil is the closest fat that I can really parallel this to. This may or may not appeal to people who have a hard time with buttery and spinachy jin xuans, especially flavored. I personally quite enjoy it for the light simplicity.
The notes on here pretty much describe it well: a lightly balanced malty Earl Grey with neither the tea nor the oil dominating-just the way I like my Earl Grey. I got three solid steeps western using 190 F and Alistair’s recommendations. I have a feeling this is better as plain, but I will add some cream and sugar to try it out.
This one is interesting. I definitely get the nutty finish and tangerine body that Alistair mentions with a savoriness that I did not expect. Like a mineral, green tea savoriness. I’m thinking seaweed like other reviews wrote. It was a tad bit salty, but still pretty good. I can adjust for that through shorter steeps, but not too much since it worked out for me.This one is unique, and it looks like a lighter roast to me. It does have the nuttiness that I associate with lighter roasts along with the honeyed aftertaste that I’ve often seen describe them. The combo with the tangerine fruitiness is what makes this stands out. That said, not exactly sure who’d this appeal to other than a person trying different kinds of tea. You’d have to try it yourself to see if you like it. The bitter, salty quality could be off putting for some, but the natural sweetness is welcoming.
I’m glad Alistair was nice enough to offer this sample. Samples make my world go round.
I’ve guzzled quite a few samples of my What-Cha order. I could not resist opening every package and then smelling every bag.
This one spoke to me the most so far. Oh so creamy, and oh so fruity and floral.
If any one reading this has ever had a good Li Shan, I don’t need to preach to you, the choir. This is a representative of that calibre. It is light and full bodied. I will update the full details later, but know that I enjoy it.
So happy that my What-Cha order is here!
Well, this would be a decent daily drinker. Very floral. Imagine the mega floral profile of a Tie Guan Yin with the bitter after taste of green tea. I’m also getting the lemon in the aftertaste that another review described. The body is interesting because it is very, very watery. Like a water chestnut.
My only complaint that it was not as sweet as I thought it was going to be. It’s still good, and could make a good blend. I would recommend a try of this for sure, but Alistair has some better options of the many he offers.
So after trying this gongfu yesterday and finding the flavors rather light, I decided I’d try it western style using some longer steep times. I used 5.2g in an 8oz teapot with steep times of 2m, 4m, 10m. If anything, all three steeps were even weaker than my gongfu session! So, I must conclude that this is just a very light tea. Nothing wrong with that – it’s also smooth and quite easy to drink. It never got bitter, even when steeped for ten minutes. Just a little light and a touch boring to my palate. Glad I got to try it though :)
Flavors: Malt, Plums, Smooth
I think between group buys and swaps, I have three different Georgia Black teas to try. This is the first I’ve gotten to – acquired in a swap with JK7Ray I believe.
The dry leaves had a sour plum aroma, a little lesser after the first steep, surprisingly. This tea was light in flavor and body and quite simple as well, but I wouldn’t consider those negatives. Just different. I got 11 steeps with this black tea, starting with a couple at 12s, then 20s and increasing by 10s at a time until the last few where started increasing steep times faster. As I said, the flavor was consistent through most of the session – Malty plums, with an occasional sour note, not quite citrus fruit, more like an herbal lemongrass flavor. Only got it on like two steeps, and not consecutively. May try it Western style next time, as I’ve heard these Georgian teas can do better that way. So annoying to get out my big teapot and stuff though ;)
Flavors: Lemongrass, Malt, Plums
This was my sample in my last what-cha order.
I did 2 min at just under boiling water. It had a pleasant spicy flavor with a bit of tannic brightness. The tannic bit wasn’t unplanted but coated the inside of my mouth and made the taste lingers bit. There’s also a woody almost meaty note in the background. I ended up steeping this a few more times without any bitterness. I think the 2nd steep was even spicer, but the subsequent ones less so than the 1st. I might try brewing it for longer next time.
1st steep 160 35 sec
Brews to a light green color. Taste is grassy but not bitter. There is a sweet corn taste, like the fresh green husks of the corn, and corn silk. Steeped leaves a fantastic bright green color.
2nd steep 160 45 sec
Color of the tea is still lighter than I would expect of the leaves. There’s more grassiness here and less of the corn. A bit of a savory seaweed note has appeared.
3rd steep ~150F ~1.5 min
Sweeter, a light bitterness that coats the mouth
Very sweet, less bitterness
Flavors: Corn Husk, Grass
Since trying a smoky Lapsang Souchong, and even a Golden Monkey which had some smoke to it and finding them quite off-putting, seeing smoke in a tea’s description worries me a tad bit. More and more, I’m finding that there’s a type or level of smoke that I can tolerate, and one which I cannot. There’s the horror that is BBQ-Tea and the more subdued kind of smoke flavor, which usually meshes pretty well with the rest of what a tea has going on. I’m glad to report this tea is one of the latter.
I actually didn’t pick up any smoke in the first couple steeps, just a sweet vegetal flavor. A couple steeps in, the smoke started to manifest as a light and wispy aftertaste. As it went on, it became one of the two main flavors I was getting – smokiness with a nutty sweetness. I tried, but I wasn’t feeling any fruitiness as the description claims there is. The smoke along with the nutty flavor made for a savory-sweet tea to drink. Throughout the session, the tea left my mouth decently dry, though there was little to no bitterness in the flavor. On my first session, I treated this tea a little too harshly and did get some pretty off-putting bitterness. This is a pretty good tea, if a little simple. Just glad it wasn’t meaty BBQ tea – blech.
I believe this is the last one I had kicking around from the Discover Vietnam collection on What-cha. I definitely encourage people to try some of the Vietnamese teas on What-cha. Along with the Red Buffalo oolong of some internet fame, the Wild Boar black and Fish Hook green tea were of particular note to me. Not really sure which of those are currently in stock, as I think they all ran out at the end of last year, but get ’em if you can. Worth a try at the very least!
Flavors: Nutty, Smoke, Sweet
This is one of those lovely golden fruity assamicas that ive luckily had the pleasure of – not your average Assam you would buy in the supermarket..
Assam & fruit aroma sorta melts in my mind into amber & black treacle. There is a lovely perfect not-too-sweetness & a every-so-slight Assamica malt character thats present when the leaf is pushed giving it a robust body & glossy edge.
Citrus/nectarine sweet n sour hidden away as well, and the first few steeps had a lovely lingering fruit aftertaste. Lovely body in the mouth & lovely clear qi energy.
Beautiful red purple green leaf as well.
Im not really much of a straight Assam drinker but this is really good quality stuff
Edit* found out its ‘historic Sinensis with newer Assamica, Dum Dum Manipuri and Cambodia’ So not just straight Assam
Flavors: Apricot, Honey, Malt, Orange, Sweet
This is for the Spring 2016 harvest.
Wow this tea is amazing! I really love high mountain teas, so I ordered a sample of this – should’ve gotten a larger bag! The liquid is a very pretty light glowing amber color. It’s very smooth and slightly floral. Had me going “mmm” every sip! I bought a tumbler of this to my all-day test and it got me through the day.
I western brewed this, but I will try gongfu with the rest of my sample to reveal the complexities of the flavor.
Actually, this is my first jasmine scented tea! The dry leaves smelled soooo bright and flowery. I steeped it according to package instructions – 1tsp at 80C for 2.5min. The resulting tea was really flowery. I don’t know what jasmine is suppose to taste like but it reminded me of lychee! I really liked it, but it was slightly overpowering. Maybe I’ll try a shorter brewing time or less leaves next time. I cold-steeped the remains and the resulting brew had a light jasmine taste that was amazing. I will have to try more jasmine-scented tea in the future!
I had wanted to become more familiar with Korean tea when I placed my last What-cha order so I grabbed a few including this one since I’ve never had a Korean black tea.
Opening the package the first think I notice is the small thin delicate tea leaves. They smell a bit like chocolate, and dark raisins, and…Corn Pops? I spent a few minutes trying to inhale the bag, but it was uncannily just like the Corn Pops cereal.
1st steep: ~35 seconds at around 175 F
Brews orange gold. Smells like raisins and tastes like raisins. It very much like the sweet water left over from soaking raisins which I’ve tried many times from baking something or other. It also had a bit of a corny cereal flavor like fresh ground whole grain corn meal. The texture had just a bit of silky come out.
2nd steep: ~1 min 175F
Brewed to a deeper orange color. Now tasting more (I guess anything) like a black tea with a bit of brisk astringency that coats the mouth. There’s a malty sweet taste to it and also a mint like mouth tingle thing going on.
3rd steep: ~160F lost track of time switching over laundry.
This was so Corn Pops.
Subsequent steeps were much lighter and sweet flavored. I think I did up to six with increasing time and temps. I rather liked trying this tea as it was pretty unique to anything I’ve had previously. I’m glad I got only 10g though because I can’t see myself drinking such a sweet tea on a regular basis. I rather prefer blacks with more of a punch or greens that balance out any sweet flavors with bitter. I’ll probably use the rest of it in trying a cold/ice brew and maybe a cup with a longer initial steep time.
Flavors: Malt, Raisins, Sweet
This tea is great! The dry leaves have a strong aroma of sticky rice – mmm! We’re off to a good start! =D
I steeped 1tsp (2-3g?) in a cup at 80C for 2min, adding 30s for each subsequent steep. It tastes exactly like sticky rice! I was concerned that the aroma/taste would be overpowering, but it’s perfect for me. The tea is sweet and comforting. It would be perfect for the wintertime! Or really, any time!
No notes yet. Add one?
Flavors: Malt, Nutty, Wet Earth, Yams
Appearance- silvery green twisty leaves. Smell malt and hay, fresh. This year’s tea. 2tsp, 8oz, westren. Lazy today.
Taste- green, fruity with citrus finish. Got fruitier as it cooled. Fruit lingered in aftertaste. Subtle. If I hadn’t been paying attention I’d have lost the flavor. Coating and thick. Flavor fairly consistent throughout all 5 steepings. Enjoyed this tea a lot. 89
I’ll be interested to see what comes out of brewing gong fu. Going to cold brew spent leaves now.
Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Green, Hay, Malt, Thick