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Recent Tasting Notes
Continuing to work my way through what-cha’s discover collection, and I saved this one for a cool Sunday evening at home.
Tried 30-45 second steeps @ 185.
First steeping had a wonderful floral aroma and I can see why what-cha mentions corn in the tasting notes.
Second steeping started to get a subtle melon flavor, but the corn was still dominant.
Third had a slight jasmine taste.
Overall, would drink again, will wait to get a larger sample till I’m done drinking my way through all the oolongs though.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Jasmine, Melon
This was a very pleasant darjeeling. Slightly vegetal, a bit roasty, I haven’t had too many first flushes, so I’m curious to see how this compares to some of the others in what-cha’s sampler.
I don’t know if I’d buy a full tin just yet. Variety is more interesting.
Finally trying my Malawi Zomba Pearls!!!
I’ve found quite a few teas from What-Cha that I really, really enjoy but this is the one that originally made me take a look at the company and actually place an order. The leaf just looks so interesting and the flavour notes sound so intriguing!
Before trying this tea, I actually tried the Zomba Pearls that were limited edition from DAVIDsTEA first because I wanted to have a vague idea what the tea would taste like. In my head, I pictures the DT version being like learning to ride a bike with training wheels and this version to be more like upgrading to like a BMX or something. Visually, there’s not actually a huge difference in the appearance of the two kinds of leaf. The only major thing I noticed was that the What-Cha pearls were definitely larger. Gong Fu in my glass gaiwan, this was a treat to watch brew. Unfortunately, I was also watching a movie and the tea kept stealing my attention and I struggled to follow along with the plot. Oops.
I didn’t get as many infusions out of this as I would’ve liked before I felt like there was too much flavour loss; maybe four in total? Possibly five. I was a tiny bit distracted, as I’ve mentioned. I did really enjoy the infusions I did get though, and definitely drew comparisons between this and the DT version: both were very buttery with hay/straw and lemon notes! This had the distinction of having a more unique vegetal taste as well though: I definitely tasted cucumber peel (not the flesh/pulp but the peel specifically) and in the last infusion
and only the last infusion a tomato-y note as well. I wasn’t eating or drinking anything else during this session so I didn’t confuse the flavours or anything like that. That’s just how I interpreted the taste. But it was nice! Just really unexpected. I look forward to finishing the sample.
Flavors: Butter, Cucumber, Hay, Lemon, Straw, Umami
Well this is a weird one to me. The steeped leaves smell like puerh. Im guessing this is part of the age/storage/fermentation process. I dont know enough about Puerh to comment what type of storage or fermentation it is there, (to me its just a pu smell) but it is there. Not in a great deal, and adds a nice old character to the tea.
Its very mellow. Im not getting any plum yet, but its a pleasant flavour. light-medium thickness. There is a dry wood thing going on, and an aftertaste which is again dry and woody. The aroma from the leaves and liquor has a short sharp tail which is interesting. cant work it out, but never had that before. some chocolate.
As this was my first taste of this im still getting my head around aged oolong, and will score and add to this review when I have drank & understood more when the winter 2015 group buy gets underway.
Any green tea lover would be very satisfied with this. It has the smokiness of a Gunpowder Green, yet the vegetal green feel of a Dragonwell and the sweet salt-dripping essence of a Sencha’s ocean breeze. Really, this is the epitome of popular green teas. I partially preferred the Russian because it was sweeter and a lot more like a Sencha, but this one by no means comes from less quality. Both are excellent and I would highly recommend this to newer tea drinkers just because of its familiar character. I would say this is perfect for those of you who can’t decide between a Sencha, Dragonwell, or Gunpowder: this tea combines the best of them all.
Flavors: Grass, Green, Ocean Breeze, Salty, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal
This tea is delightful!
I really like the balance of the sweet, floral and vegetal. When a tea strays too into that green/veg taste, or maybe too umami its generally not to my liking. This was balanced with a thick almost pearlescent petal taste & aroma that really tasted good to me. With perhaps just a hint of soft nuts over the top of it, culminating in a very beautiful experience.
Multiple steeps were rewarded well, and the (half of a) cake unfolded nicely as I progressed, It never veered into ‘too green’ territory, was always soft and lovely. slight creaminess.
Really very nice. The balance is extremely well done. If there was a tiny touch more nut it would be incredible, but the fact it was there in the first place made it extra enjoyable.
pearlescent pink & soft green loveliness.
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Nutty, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal
It is immensely windy today, with nice 50mph gusts and constant 30mph blusteriness. Any leaves left on the trees are going to totally be gone come morning, though I am feeling a great deal of disappointment with the weather. See all yesterday I kept getting notices on the book of faces and on my phone about how the weather today was supposed to be all sorts of hellish, with even the amusing ‘a tornado’ along with the storms, all we got was wind. And no, I don’t find tornadoes amusing (I FIND THEM EPIC!!!) but Accuweather has this hilarious way of wording future weather alerts, if there are severe storms, not chances for tornadoes, no, just severe storms, hail, and ‘a tornado’ and for some reason that cracks me up.
Did you know that Australia grows tea? I did, or it would make today’s tea rather confusing! What-Cha, being my go-to source for rare and hard to get teas is where I decided to go when I wanted to try some Australian grown tea, grown specifically in the style of Japanese teas, using Japanese tea cultivars and using the expertise of Japanese tea experts. Presenting Australia Houjicha Green Tea from Two River Farms in Victoria, a nicely roasted green tea, roasted teas make me happy…especially on blustery autumn days. The aroma, well, it is a roasted tea! Notes of gentle smoke and roasted walnuts, a touch of toasted kelp, and a finish of sesame seeds. It is one of the more smoky Houjicha have I have, and I am ok with that, me likes the smoky teas.
Into my single serve (aka small) kyusu the toasty little leaves go, and I am glad this kyusu has a small screen because tiny leaves are tiny. The aroma of the soggy leaves is savory and toasty, umami toasted kelp notes and strong nutty, smoky notes, much like toasted walnut shells. The liquid is toasty and smoky, with notes of toasted nuts, a bit of sesame seeds, loam, and a touch of roasted kelp giving the brew an umami edge to it.
Tasting time! Using one of my Japanese cups for somewhat thematically appropriate tea gear…alas I lack any Australian tea gear. The tea starts with notes of smoky slightly burnt toast, grainy and a touch bitter, much like a strong grain heavy bread. This moves to toasted nuts, lots of walnuts and pecans, with a bit of sesame seeds. The finish is a toasted kelp, somewhat seaweed savory note that lingers until it finally fades into sweetness. I admit, this is not my most favorite of Houjicha out there, I have had better…and much worse…but what I love is that it is from somewhere totally new and exciting, showing how vast the tea world is.
One of my favourite things about my Dad is how supportive he’s been about my getting heavily interested in tea. More so than any other family member.
When my interest went from more casual to quite serious he was certainly surprised but also very on board. He’s the one who suggested seeing if my education fund (which had just been sitting unused) would apply towards Sommelier classes, and when it comes to my birthday and major gift giving holidays he’s really enabled me to taste teas I wouldn’t normally be able to afford/and get better, more expensive/traditional teaware because he’ll ask what I need to upgrade or what I’m missing and will then not only buy me that specifically but let me pick it out as well. That’s how I first got into yellow teas, and how I got my fancy chawan!
All this is basically to say that the other night he actually suggested my coming over to his house for supper and bringing over some nicer teaware and a fancier tea and actually showing him how to brew Gong Fu and doing a nice, longer sit down tasting with him! Since I’ve been meaning to dig into this sample for a while, and I thought he might like the described flavour profile I brought this along and we brewed out half of the sample (5g) until the leaf was spent. Probably around nine or ten infusions? Not counting the first one which we fed to Zak, though.
This was a very smooth, light bodied black tea with no astringency or bitterness. I almost feel, looking back, like I was perhaps even a little too conservative with the steep time I allowed each infusion to have? I think I could have likely pushed out/drawn out more flavour if I’d even tacked on an extra 5-10 seconds with each infusion. The liquor was a really lovely gold colour as well; I wish I’d brought along my glass gaiwan but instead we used one of my tea celadon ones. We still got to enjoy the appearance of the liquor in the cups, but watching this leaf brew would have been even more gorgeous.
As for the taste; I found it fairly simple and straight forward. Sometimes I love really overly complex and nuanced teas but something like this which wasn’t “plain” but more easy to decipher is appreciated just as much! I was definitely expecting honeydew as that’s the flavour that What-Cha kind of drove home would be apparent, but this definitely didn’t taste like any sort of melon to me. However, it was very fruity in a light, refreshing way. Kind of a “summer fruit” type flavour? Nothing very prominent though: certainly not a tropical fruity note or anything stonefruit like. Some sort of light red berry maybe? It’s so hard to pinpoint and I don’t feel like you need to in order to enjoy the tea itself. This is also very floral and malty, which makes sense as those are flavours typical of the Ceylon growing region in Sri Lanka.
A very lovely tea overall.
I was feeling like a new new experience today, as I’ve been drinking a lot of the 2015 harvest shengs lately. Pull out this mystery fermented tea from Japan, had forgot about it until I added some of my teas to the steepster cupboard the other day. I don’t drink a lot of shu, but I could not resist putting this in the cart when I saw it..
Immediately clear that this is something else. Dry aroma is a unique combination of .. dried bark, earthy/mushroom notes with a stingy nose. 90ml gaiwan and give it a ~15 second rinse plus a little rest. Product page recommends 4-5 minutes brew, seems a little excessive… but let’s trust it and go with 4 minutes.
.. Wow, amazing sour citrus aroma! The liquor is much lighter than expected, nothing like a shu at all, more like a sheng with a few years of age; clear bright orange/brown-ish. The taste is very pleasant, sour citrus with stonefruit and umami/salty quality with slight astringency. Light fermentation, but not at all unpleasant, no “funk”.
3 steeps so far; it’s lost potency but otherwise not a lot of change. My first impression is that it’s not very dynamic, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. Absolutely worth trying.
Flavors: Citrus, Pleasantly Sour, Stonefruits, Umami
Very enticing sweet aroma from the dry leaves; it’s loosely compressed so I carefully break it apart to fit a ~160ml glazed teapot. It’s actually the second time I brew this tea, last time I dropped and shattered the gaiwan on first steep, so I’m using something with a handle today, just in case the tea is cursed.
Quick rinse, roast/charcoal dominates the wet leaf aroma; let it rest for about 5 minutes and the aroma settles at floral/orchid-ish with the roast clearly evident but not as dominating.
First brew at ~95C for ~20s. Immediate wet leaf aroma is charcoal, but returns to the sweet floral/orchid notes quickly. The liqour is nice and and clear orange/brown, leaving a tiny bit of charcoal in the strainer. It has a thick, full body, buttery consistency that covers the mouth and throat immediately. Slight astringency on the tip of the tongue, with long-lasting citrus-y/floral aftertaste.
A few steeps in, the tea is more balanced with the roast mellowing out slightly. I will be steeping this all evening by the looks of it. Recommended if you like (heavily) roasted teas; good leaf quality, good overall balance,
good excellent longevity.
Flavors: Char, Citrus, Floral, Orange, Orchid
This was a fairly decent cup of breakfast blend. A bit of bite with some woody notes and a little tang in the background, I mainly get the Ceylon tastes. I was careful not to oversteep as breakfast blends lend themselves to astringency, in my experience. I don’t remember what I thought of Harney’s Scottish blend so I can’t really compare at this time, but I do still have enough left of this to do it next time I snag samples from Harney.
I found nothing objectionable here, though as with a lot of breakfast blends and me, nothing to especially recommend it over the non-blended versions of the teas that comprise them. I think it would stand up fine to milk and sugar if that’s how you take your blends of this type. :)
I got this from, I think, Marizpan so thank you!