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Recent Tasting Notes
From one of the group buys (dark matter?)
Maybe it is my brewing parameters, or queued in my senses due to current life events, but when I steeped this up and the first two steeps, this tea tastes just like that weird plastic sweet scent of new black garbage bags. SERIOUSLY.
Later steepings is malty and coconutty. It did not resteep well though, I got 5 and it died. The flavor is light despite the high gongfu ratio.
I think this would of been better western or 1g / 10ml or jam as much leaf as you can in the gaiwan and flash.
Smooth, buttery in flavor and mouthfeel, notes of melon and cucumber w/slight honeysuckle florals. Part of “A Week of Tea Exploration” suggested by Lion on Steepster, day one of seven, white tea. Paired with some French bread, goat cheese and strawberries, (unusual as I rarely ever eat during a session). Very enjoyable and relaxing tea session.
2.5g, (6 pearls), 150ml white crystallized celadon gaiwan, 175F for 3m, first infusion then 3.5, 4 at 175F and one 5m infusion at 185F.
The evolution of leaf:
Sunday / Day 1 – White Tea
I’m doing the week of different teas challenge Lion is doing.
The loose tea smells like dry tea leaves and like the inside of a store that sells high end furniture and home décor. The leaves are thin and small, they look like rosemary (no herb or rosemary flavour though) but are light silvery green and have short white hairs.
First steep: 2 minutes, 450 mL of fairly hot water (not boiling)
Steeps very light , almost clear
Smells very sweet and fruity
Tastes like candy and apricot, absolutely delicious and very sweet. I taste light tannins so it does taste like a tea, but it has a natural fruity sweetness I love.
Second steep: 3 minutes hotish water (not boiling)
Smells a bit floral and like white tea
I taste raspberry and apricot, very subtle sweetness, light tannins, delicate and clear tea taste. This is a phenomenal tea, probably the best unflavoured white tea I own.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Fruity, Raspberry, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tannin
Great fresh black tea from Nepal, purchased through What-Cha. The tea itself is quite similar in aroma to a fresh first flush Darjeeling black tea. The leaves, however, are whole and thus are a bit more sturdy than a CTC Darjeeling. The flavor is smooth with a bit of crisp astringency, and the aroma intense and satisfying.
From Dark Matter 2016:
I brewed this in a gaiwan with short steeps. I probably should have looked at recommendations first, but it came out fine. The tea itself smelled strongly just like granola to me. It even tasted like it on the first steep. The next few steeps brought out the roasting flavor and this was just on the edge of being unpleasant for me, but I’m very sensitive to it. Later steeps mellowed out to just toasty as well as having good unroasted oolong flavor. There was also a bit of mineral in there that seemed to fade in an out on what seemed to be based on steeping time.
I’ve been brewing this for a good part of the day now so add “decent staying power” to the list.
Flavors: Grain, Mineral, Toasty
Got this as part of a swap with JK7Ray – Thanks! Used 3.2ish g in a 60mL gaiwan with 175 degree water.
This is one of the most intensely aromatic teas I’ve encountered. I was surprised by the aroma the first time around – smelled like cinnamon and fruit, maybe raisins, plums, or apples (that might be cuz of the cinnamon, so my mind went to apple pie). The aroma was incredibly vivid and intense – it seemed like some kind of fresh-baked pastry. I couldn’t wait to see what the tea tasted like. Unfortunately, I was a little bit disappointed, not because it tasted bad, but because the intensity of the flavor didn’t come close to the intensity of the aroma. I got sweet, tangy fruity flavors with the cinnamon barely apparent in the first couple steeps. After that, it had some malty sweetness accompanied by dry fruity notes. The leaves looked like black tea once brewed, but I’m not sure whether that was because they were highly oxidized or due to the fact it was made from a purple varietal.
I tried this tea with 185 degree water as well, but it just muddled the flavors a bit, burying the high notes. I should have tried with almost boiling water too, since it looked like a black tea, but I didn’t. It doesn’t seem to be available on What-cha’s site anymore, and I’m not sure I’d want to buy more of it if it was. Aroma was the best part of this tea by far. I smelled the wet leaves for quite a while. Certainly interesting and I’m glad I got to try it.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Fruity, Malt, Plums, Raisins, Sweet, Tangy
I purchased this tea for use in masala chai off of the recommendation of Alistair of What-Cha. It has been great for that. This morning, rather than my typical Yunnan black, I had a hankering for a malty, deep black tea. I remembered I had this on my shelf and tossed a big pinch into my gaiwan. Hitting the leaves with hot water released a plume of malty sweetness. The brew is a deep golden red color that is smooth with deep malty flavor, some sweetness, and almost no astrigency or bitterness. For me, this morning, this tea is hitting the spot.
Backlog from Dark Matter 2016
Yesterday I drank this while studying for this week’s finals. I haven’t had time to sit and thoroughly write reviews, but I have been jotting down notes on the various teas that I’ve been drinking. Unfortunately, I have a short explanation of this tea….
Dark roasted oolong with a sesame, nutty, mineral, and slight floral notes. I enjoy the deep complexity of a roasted oolong tea. The Indonesia Harendong is as complex, unique, and satisfying as I expected it to be just by the way the dry leaf had smelled. I will be purchasing this one in the future.
Note: I was a little biased while trying this oolong. Oolongs have a special place in my heart, since they are what made me into the tea enthusiast that I am today. However, I did find this altogether enjoyable, and will love to have more eventually.
Flavors: Earth, Floral, Mineral, Nutty
8:10 pm Monday Indianapolis, IN
Sometimes you just really love a tea. I really loved this stuff for whatever reason.
Smelled the malt from the first steep.
Tasted smooth honey and almost sheng puer-like earthiness.
A light, fudgy rich aftertaste.
Right now this is at the top of my to buy black tea list. 100!
Flavors: Earth, Honey
The dry leaf is long and twiggy, but somewhat broader across. Some of the dry leaf is so brightly green and wide that it makes me think of a white tea, actually. This is some pretty aesthetically pleasing leaf!
When I first opened the packet of tea, I was greeted by an intensely vegetal aroma that reminded me of Chinese tea. It was buttery and beany, but underneath there was a surprising undertone of sweetness.
I brewed it for 80°C for 2 minutes, as recommended on the package, and that resulted in a tea that was a pale straw green colour. The smell of the brewed tea was pretty similar to the taste of the dry leaf: vegetal, nutty, and buttery, like a dragonwell tea.
This held up upon the first sip, too, but that sweet undertone made comeback — underneath the vegetables and the butter, I sensed an intensely sweet note that, rather than being fruity, reminded me of the neutral, inert sort of sweetness that you get from syrup or icing sugar. Weird!
Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/05/russia-host-tea-estate-what-cha/
The dry leaf looks long, dark brown, and twiggy, and smells richly of citrus and raisins.
I took about 2 grams (enough for larger mug) and steeped it for 4 minutes at 90°C, as per the instructions on the package.
The resulting tea was a cool umber colour and smelled malty, robust, citrusy, and raisiny. It reminded me of a Ceylon tea, but it wasn’t quite as sharp. The first sip was a surprise, though: it was somewhat thin-tasting, but also floral — it made me think of lychees.
I brewed the remaining leaf in the packet a few weeks later and it was similarly thin, fruity and floral; it reminded me then of cherries.
Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/05/russia-host-tea-estate-what-cha/
10:55 am Sunday Indianapolis, IN
Reviewing my first tea from the dark matter group buy.
I seem to be getting into the habit of only reviewing a tea when I find something about it that I don’t prefer. I must like being the bad guy ; ) or I am too picky. Or I don’t want to see you get burned if you buy a tea because you read only good reviews, but then are stuck with something you may not like for a reason no one mentioned.
And this tea is the first one I would not recommend. It’s not that bad, but I tasted a very off putting taste in the first couple steeps, which ruined most of the following steeps for me. It could have just been me (my friend enjoyed the tea) or it could have been my batch, as this can happen.
I started off gongfu-ing this for 4 steeps. Then went into 10 min, 20 min, 30 min steeps. I would recommend brewing with western parameters. It made the weird chemically taste that I have tasted before, but can’t describe, seem less noticeable. It was either the roast (is this tea roasted?) or the high level of oxidation. First rounds very noticeable, last three less noticeable. The off flavor never totally went away.
One thing I did like, the smell towards the end was like real oatmeal raisin cookies. I did like that. I plan to experiment more with oxidized and roasted teas in the future.
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.
Revisiting this because my last note on it was along the lines of “I liked it, but I don’t remember specifically why”. So, taking it nice and slow! This is a complex but not overwhelming tea. The initial impression from sipping is a roastiness that floats off the top, then a good, substantial dark-oolong feel. And then there’s a lingering sweetness that has a surprisingly fresh quality. For a while as I tried my first few What-Cha teas, I’d feared my palette was just very different from Alistair’s, as I rarely got what was in the written description of the tea, even though I found them all enjoyable. This time I’m happy to say I do get a plum note from this tea, and it’s a fresh juicy one. When I think of plum notes in conjunction with tea, I usually mean Chinese dried/candied plums (hua mei) or green plums, but in this case it reminds me of something entirely different!
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.