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Recent Tasting Notes
This is a very nice toasty, nutty, mellow tea. I do find it a bit weak and unimpressive unless it is steeped a bit longer. It is great on the second and third steeps, much more flavour. I find it starts t get astringent and a tiny bit bitter after that.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Nutty, Toasted Rice, Toasty
Honey! A delicate honey smell and flavor. It seems pretty balanced with only the slightest hint of toasty. The 3rd steep turned a red gold color that may just be one of the prettiest cups of tea I’ve seen (alas, no pictures!). I brewed this in a gaiwan but there wasn’t much of a change until the very end steeps where a bit of mineral came out. It was pleasant but I’m not sure how often I would want to come back to it as opposed to a bolder tea.
I saved this for a weekend, as work has been kind of hectic lately (= super short notes) and I wanted to sit down and take more time with this one. Well, that was a few hours ago and I’m afraid most of the lovely descriptors that came to mind when I tried this tea have fled from memory. At least that’s reason enough to enjoy another cup soon!
This tea arrived still stored inside a desiccated bitter melon, and I brewed with a piece of the melon added to the leaf. I’ve often eaten bitter melon while growing up; it’s part of traditional Chinese cuisine, although it is one of those vegetables infamous for being unpopular with kids. I was kind of a weird one for enjoying it! There isn’t any recognizable flavor from the melon in the tea, which is a very enjoyable dark oolong, with a smooth roastiness that is very well-rounded. It used to be that oolongs were my favorite teas, but I’d become disenchanted with overly green tie guan yins and even da hong paos I tried over the last few months. (Most of these were unknown/unknown from family friends, so they are not logged here.) With teas of this type, the roastiness can be quite harsh and the effect is not very harmonious when the base is still noticeably green—plus the effect from drinking it can be like a kick to the head, whether you want to call it cha qi or caffeine. This tea, I am happy to say, is the answer to those problems, and everything a dark roasty oolong should be. A great example of something well prepared and well aged. So even if I can’t taste the bitter melon, I’m sure it contributed its part to the process.
And well, that’s about as much as I remember. No specifics this time, but I did enjoy this one greatly!
From dark matter 2016
Brewed this western style. Didn’t see the instructions for 194 F water until after I poured the boiling in. Steeped 5 minutes and wondered if I may have a bitter cup. But it looks like this tea is about foolproof. Completely smooth, dark fruit like raisins, and a bit of malt and the finish. I even got two more steeps a at five minutes and then a fourth one that sat awhile. The last was a bit light but also had a bit of cocoa which was nice. No bitterness or astringency here, but still brighter in flavor than some Yunnan blacks.
It was great for yet another cold rainy day.
Flavors: Malt, Raisins
Got a free 10 gram sample of this on my last tea order (What-cha FTW),
And was quite excited as I’ve only ever had greens from Australia so thought this would be quite interesting.
After brewing the 1st infusion for about 30-45 seconds it had an incredibly sweet, malty, yeast flavour that reminded me a lot of the drink Horlicks.
After a couple more infusions it got a bit less malty and developed a slightly bitter cinnamon molasses taste that I found more enjoyable.
The brew itself has a very zesty orange colour, and the smell is like a very sweet molasses. the leaves were a little more broken than I expected but I got about 5-6 infusions out of just 5 grams of them which I was quite happy with.
While I usually prefer more refreshing black teas this was still quite a nice brew,
And would recommend to any one that enjoys very strong, sweet, malty teas.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Malt, Sweet, Yeast
Digging once again into my Dark Matter 2016 stash, this time an exceptional oolong from PT Harendong Green Farm via What-Cha. This dark oolong has everything one could want from sweet fruit and florals, (personally I got slight jasmine), to just the right amount of mineral notes and even more surprising given the heavy oxidation much of its luscious green self still coming through too. There was an almost rye bread meets cocoa aromatic coming off the dry leaf that had me salivating for this from the get go. Absolutely beautiful leaf as it opened up and a golden liquor that seemed to go on forever infusion after infusion. Though What-Cha recommends a more western style longer infusion style of brewing with this tea I chose shorter steep times at around 15s and counting up though at the end I did steep for a few minutes to get the rest of the mineral goodness. I might even let this soak for some hours to get one last enjoyable taste. 6.5g in a 180ml jingdezhen teapot at 190F moving upwards to 200F with later infusions. I loved this tea.
Took a gamble and bought 6 of these cakes and I’m very impressed with the results,
First 1-3 infusions had a very smooth honey and rose taste, and the infusions after that got a definite sweet chocolatey taste as described.
After finished drinking it left a very mellow aftertaste without any dryness left on the tongue. Definitely a favourite black tea of the tea drinkers in my family and it being in a sealed cake is a nice convenience.
Flavors: Honey, Honeysuckle, Rose
I’m still a bit undecided on this one. It really took me playing around with different parameters to get full on flavor from this tea and even then it seemed to wane quickly. The sweet spot for me was 190F and 10g of leaf with longer steep times of 45-60s and up to fully extract flavor with boiling temps at the end to draw it all up. Too little leaf or quick infusion and the leaf was just too subtle in flavor. No super strong aromatics but there was some fruitiness and malt present. This reminded me of some of the morning Assam I enjoyed early on in my tea adventures, nothing magnificent but comforting nonetheless. Given I have another sample perhaps I’ll give it another go around with different parameters. 120ml bone china teapot, (I almost always use glazed teaware when first trying new teas). Another Dark Matter 2016 selection.
As a I have recently become a big fan of the P.T Harendong tea estate, I was very excited to try this tea and I am not disappointed at all with the results.
After doing a quick rinse of the leaves to wake them up a bit, a brewed it for about 45 seconds then poured it into my porcelain zen monk tea cup.
Although quite a seemingly pale infusion it didn’t lack any flavour and was quite a refreshing and incredibly clean tasting tea as described.
After around four or five infusions in it seemed to have a smooth sweetness develop to it that was still quite enjoyably clean tasting.
Overall I would recommend this tea to someone that wants quite a refreshing dependable green tea that isn’t particularly grassy, PLUS the fact that its organic is always a bonus.
Flavors: Alcohol, Fig, Floral, Smooth
Sweet, malty aroma. Very smooth and light-bodied black tea, with a faint citrus-floral note that might be best described as orange blossom. Petrichor note after longer steeping. The malt/baked-good quality is much more unassuming than I imagined from the aroma. Not strong as far as black teas go…I’d call it “pleasantly dainty”!
I find this to be an incredibly warming and relaxing tea which is why I usually drink it in the evenings.
It seems to have a slight damp wood taste and a very subtle sweetness to it that I always love in dark teas,
and Although Its very thick tasting tea it doesn’t seem to be sickly at all.
I very much like pattern and colours of the wrapper and it seemed quite easy to pry apart the cake itself with a dirk that I recently ordered from Teaware.house
All in all, this is definitely one of my favourite ripe dark teas I’ve had so far and would recommend it to anyone who wants quite a substantial ripe dark tea.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Earth
Vietnamese teas, you rock. Unique, memorable, and often delicious, every Vietnamese tea I’ve tasted has been a charmer. And this one’s exotic name made me smile before we even met.
What-Cha sources this tea through the Vietnamese wholesaler Hatvala, who with a few creative leaps christened it “Tiger Monkey.” In Hatvala’s own words: “Most of the tea produced is sold at the colourful local market which is held on the Monkey and Tiger days of the Lunar week from where our name for this tea derives.” I’m somewhat familiar with the lunar calendar, which from what I can tell makes a whole lot more sense than our Gregorian calendar. I found some information about a lunar week – which varies from six to eight days – but could uncover no reference at all to Monkey or Tiger days in this context. I’ll keep looking. The “Wild” part of the name was apparently added by What-Cha, which I find super fun as a preface to “Tiger Monkey” and at the same time most appropriate and informative, since the leaves are from wild trees.
“Like other wild green teas it is naturally sweet with little bitterness,” states Hatvala’s Tiger Monkey sales sheet. Which makes me wonder about tea made from “wild” (or at least abandoned) trees as compared to more recently cultivated and tended tea gardens. Surely there could be differences, and perhaps even differences that are consistent, such as wild green teas tending to be sweeter, per Hatvala’s nonchalant claim. Though I could also imagine the opposite, or that inclusion of the “wild” adjective is somewhere between description and marketing. I’d be curious to hear what others have to say, but in the end, what matters is what’s in the cup.
I do notice some sweetness in the dry leaf, sweetness that is intertwined with smokiness. Both characteristics are fairly light in the dry leaf and all the more subtle in the cup; during my first session I didn’t notice smoke at all. It’s there, but nothing like the smokiness of, say, a Russian Country blend. As a green tea the overall flavor and body is on the light side of the spectrum, but deeper than the bright, fresh-picked grassiness of, say, Fish Hook. Here and there I noted some enjoyable creaminess to the body, and a bit of the wood and nut notes others have mentioned.
When brewed at What-Cha’s parameters (1-2tsp, 80C/176F, 45-60sec) there wasn’t any of what I’d consider bitterness or astringency. During my second session I experienced a dryness at the back of the throat which I enjoyed so much that I resteeped probably eight times. I had that soft astringency in mind during my third and final sessions, but within the 60sec steeps, it was nowhere to be found. “No man steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.” I love that expression of life’s ever changing nature, and I love that tea illustrates it so readily. What was that astringency? Was I imagining it? Was it my own body’s particular chemistry on that evening? Whatever it was, it was of that moment. In the later two sessions I didn’t experience anything close until I increased the steep time to two and then three minutes, which yielded the slightest bitterness but still really no astringency to speak of.
“Typically, the Vietnamese prefer to brew their tea very strong and bitter and like to appreciate the sweetness in the after-taste experienced once the initial bitterness has subsided,” says Hatvala. Still curious, I upped the temperature to 195F; even after a 3min steep the tea remained mellow and enjoyable.
I also found it interesting that this tea is grown at a 1500m altitude. It’s 1200m above Hatvala’s Fish Hook and high enough to be considered high mountain, by many standards.
This was a 10g sample that Alistair included with a What-Cha order. Like many teas that I’ve received as samples and in trades, this was an awesome surprise that may have taken me awhile to get to on my own. That’s the end of the sample, but certainly not the end of my love of Vietnamese tea.
150ml gaiwan, 5gish,
Dry-light roast, apple
15s- still pretty balled, hint of fruit. 30s- roasted, fruit. 45s- roast/caramel, fruit, sweetness in after taste. 1min- astringency starting.
Caramel seems to be a hard flavor to pick out. I just lose it under the other flavor or it comes off as sweet. The roast level of this didn’t work for me either. Not a tea for me. 70
Flavors: Astringent, Caramel, Fruity, Roasted
195F, half cake to 150ml gaiwan.
15s- sweet, smooth. 30s- fruity, sweet. 30s- chocolate. 45s- chocolate, fruity. Continued with this for 6 more steeps. I have the other half of my cake, but I’m sad I didn’t order more of this. Just got the one cake to try. 90
Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Smooth, Sweet
An absolutely awesome tea from What-Cha care of Dark Matter 2016. From the moment I broke the seal I knew this would be incredible. From the early infusions there were heavy cocoa aromatics coming from the leaf and the liquor had a beautiful toast and honey character to it that soon morphed into lavender. As the leaf opened up it too moved from the cocoa to lavender in aroma. This tea kept giving infusion after infusion never bitter even with longer steeps. Towards the end caramel notes were present which matched the color of the liquor perfectly. 180ml Jingdezhen teapot, 7g leaf, 190F. 30s infusions counting up maintaining same temperature. Gorgeous heavily scented leaf both wet and dry. This is a tea worth repeating as it was a totally enjoyable tea experience.
Definitely one of the most interesting-looking and -sounding teas I’ve tried! The dry stems have a sweet, honey-like aroma. I let the stems steep freely in a cup, and many of them stood up straight like a little forest of tea. The flavor of the tea is initially mild and subtle, with a some honey sweetness and a touch of earthiness. After some steeping, an intense floral-sweet aroma starts getting released. Just leaning in close to take a sip is like taking a deep breath of a summer garden full of flowers after a rain. The flavor feels more complex at this point as well. Very different from other white teas out there, and a highly sensory experience.
I haven’t had the time to sit down and enjoy tea in the Gaiwan lately. However, I’ve decided to skip class and relax today (shame, shame). The professor admitted that “We wouldn’t be doing much, and would probably get out two hours early;” therefore, instead of wasting an hour, I came home to drink tea.
Flash Steep: Cocoa, Raisins, Apple (?), dark color, sweet, and smooth aroma.
1st steep: Light, with a nice sweet malty raisin flavor; there’s a touch of apple in the aftertaste.
2nd steep: Light, the flavors are blending together throughout each sip. However, we’re introduced to a touch of cocoa within the aftertaste.
3rd steep (3 minutes in the Gaiwan): “Aunt Gerry’s Apple Raisin Pie.” Meaning: layered with raisin, a bit of caramel, apples, and slightly doughy.
I’ve dumped the other 4 steeps into a thermos for work. I have a late meeting tonight, to get ready for summer camp. I’ve told the students that I’m also ready for summer, and by showing them what I meant, I decided to wear a clown nose, while performing somersaults and “other daring feats!” A student told me that this was her “favorite day” with me; yet, she tells me this every day before she leaves. It felt good to have all of the students, even the wild ones, giggling their little heads off. I must admit, that there are days when I need to act crazy and wild as they do.
p.s. This is from the Dark Matter series!
Flavors: Apple, Cocoa, Malt, Raisins, Sweet