Popular Teas from What-ChaSee All 87 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
What-cha is having a 20% off sale, and so far I’ve quite enjoyed everything from my last order, so it’s time to try out the last couple of things and see what needs restocking.
The dry leave is dark green and quite twisted and needle-like. The fragrance is quite mild.
Steeped 1tsp in 76C water for 1.5 minutes. The steeped leaf and liquor smell amazing. Butter, roasted nuts and seaweed. On the palate, there’s a bit of a tang, some seaweed and a hint of the roasted nut flavour at the back of the mouth. There’s a light grassiness that builds through the finish, and a faint floral note.
Nice cold as well. I had to run out in the middle of this cup for lunch plans that I completely forgot about.
The second steep, again for 1.5 min, is pretty much the same as the first.
I’m not sure I would stock up on this, but it’s about a bajillion times better than the sencha I had from DAVIDs recently.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Grass, Roast nuts, Seaweed, Tangy
What a cool and interesting tea! Had I not read it was a Kenya white, I would have believed it was a Yunnan Dian Hong. The leaf is absolutely spectacular. The nose is caramel and malt with a scent that reminds me of corn growing in the field. The first cup is all malt and caramel deliciousness. In the second cup the malt steps way back with the caramel right in front. The corn type grain moves front and center. The aftertaste which was malt and caramel, now has a floral air that is not over the top. It is pleasant. I cannot associate it with a know scent but definitely floral. This is worthy of your investigation if you were planning an order while the sale is going on. Almost everything from What-Cha has been excellent.
Alistair of What-Cha sent me a sample of his Darjeeling First Flush 2014 Rohini Emerald Green Tea with my recent order knowing of my last disastrous attempt at Indian green teas this year. Generally I don’t care for Indian green teas, I feel they overbrew to easily and become bitter; drinking Indian greens makes me feel like that particular type of tea novice who likes all teas except greens because they had a bad experience with them. I like to think that I am not prejudiced against Indian greens, but I do know that I can be overly critical of them. So take anything I say about this with a grain of salt.
The dry leaves are not particularly interesting; there is a lot of variation in the shapes, size and color of the leaves although this is fairly common in Indian greens. Generally I prefer tea that has a uniform shape and size so I always cringe a little when I see Indian greens.
For my first infusion I brewed at 176°F for two minutes. Even before it was done, I could smell the hay aroma. It had a very pure grassy taste, there was a little fruit notes, something like unripened apricot. It almost had an umami taste, but not exactly.For my second infusion I brewed at 180°F for two and half minutes. This time it had a stronger wet straw scent, although I could still get whiffs of hay. As for taste, it still was grassy, but not as pure; this time it had a slightly ripper (but still unripe) apricot taste.
I decided against doing a third infusion, I didn’t feel it had much more to offer and in my experience Indian greens don’t make it past the second stepping. It wasn’t a bad green tea, but it definitely benefits of adding some form of sweetener to it. While I didn’t use anything in my tea, this teapot easily serves two, so I served the extra cup to my guest who happened to add a little honey to hers, and hers tasted considerably better.
I don’t think I would try this again, I much prefer second flush Indian greens, the muscatel taste in later harvests make Indian greens so much more interesting than first flushes. I don’t think this is a bad tea, just not one for me. I am not a fan of ratings, but if I had to give it a score I’d probably place it somewhere between seven and eight (out of ten).
We’re a funny bunch on Steepster…..we love strange and unusual teas with unusual flavors…complicated teas with secret histories….there is such mystery in the flavors that are unlocked in our cup that we go on mental journeys with our palate…sometimes quiet contemplative journeys, sometimes raucous wild rides. But we travel…. These days
I love to “cup” travel to Assam. I love the subtle simplicity of the notes in a cup of Assam loveliness. Not many on Steepster travel to this region to fill their cup, but I’m a frequent flyer these days….and this 2nd flush Assam sourced from Heritage Tea Plantation is exactly the reason why I fill my cup with Assams so often.
The dry leaves are long and dark with just a few light golden tips interspersed. The smell of these dry leaves is vibrantly malty with a touch of cooked stone fruit. Wet, the leaves are whole and broken, but much larger than those found in many Assams. The coppery infusion is deliciously and straightforwardly malty and incredibly smooth. There is little astringency here when steeped at 3 minutes, just a lovely round mouthfeel and medium body that leave the taste of wonderful malt in your mouth. the stone fruit note is still present, but what is most noticeable is the smooooooooth……
The differences between Assams isn’t as pronounced as the differences between, say, Keemuns or Darjeelings….but it is there. What-Cha has offered a wonderful assam for any tea drinker who would like a wonderful example of what a tea from this region can be….and IS. Recommended.
Flavors: Malt, Stonefruits
Cannon Ball! Love the name. Some of the balls are monstrous (I wanted to spell it monsterous but spellcheck said that is not a word – should be). Some of the balls are only the size of average oolong nuggets. The dry scent I got I have not seen in any other review. It was bread and honey, kind of malt with sweet hay. Thought maybe I didn’t get the press thoroughly clean but the pouch had the same awesomeness.
The first cup was crisp, vegetal, and savory. Dryness builds as the cup cools. It had a bite that was the good bitter. The aftertaste had a citrus note that to me wasn’t obvious at first.
The second cup I used less water – 8 oz with the same leaf (the first was a 10 oz mug using 7 balls). The scent is highly lemony. I did not notice the dryness, but because of the amount of leaf and the 2 1/2 minute steep, the bitterness was kind of intense. I added a little sweetener and it balanced right out. Now it tastes very nutty. The sweetener made the citrus really pop and there is a good dose of grassy vegetal late in the sip that along with some floral notes drift right into a healthy citrus aftertaste.
I don’t have time for a third cup at the moment but according to the review on SoriTEA Sisters it will be the best cup yet. I hope to find out for myself later.
Unique and worth a try.
The dry leaves are a remarkably bright shade of green for a Long Jing, the leaves are a little broken up, but I most note that the box that my What-Cha order was shipped in was really banged up; even my postman apologized for the shape of it. I haven’t encountered any of What-Cha’s teas being that broken up, so I am confident saying this happened when it was in transit. There is a little yellow on some of the leaves as well; the most notable part of this tea is the scent. It has a really intense Chocolate-Mint aroma, not chocolate and mint, or chocolate mints, but the chocolate-mint plant; this was quite interesting, I don’t think I have ever encountered a Dragon Well with dry leaves that smell like mint. Already I knew this was going to be a really interesting tea, although I should have known it was going to be interesting when it said “What-Cha” on the label.
For my first steeping I brewed at 176°F for two minutes. I was greeted with a nutty aroma, I was a little disappointed that it didn’t have the chocolate-mint aroma from the dry leaves, but I won’t hold that against this tea. This tea had a very dominant nutty taste, think lightly roasted nuts, but there also was a green bean undertone to it that was quite lovely. The liquor was very light, although if I used a white cup rather than a clear glass cup it might have been easier to see.For my next infusion I brewed at 185°F for three minutes. While it still had a nutty aroma, this time I could also distinguish some vegetal notes to it, a little bamboo and peas. The taste was similar to the last, but less roasted nuts and a new wet wood taste that lingered. The liquor was still light, but I think I enjoyed this infusion more than the last; it’s not often that I taste a wood element in a Long Jing.
For my third and final infusion I brewed at 190°F for four minutes. The aroma was very weak at this point; I could only get the nutty scent this time. The strongest flavor this time was peas, and then a very generic nutty taste.This was quite an interesting Long Jing, if What-Cha stocks the 2015 spring harvest, I’d buy again, I am interested if the grower and roaster can duplicate the chocolate-mint aroma the dry leaves had. I don’t think What-Cha mentioned what Tea Estate this tea came from, but I wonder what side of the West Lake it is situated, although in the title it says it is wild growing which leads me to believe it may have been in one of the mountains as it doesn’t taste like Dragon Wells grown in some of the more polluted areas of Zhejiang and that it is wild growing makes me think it comes from a more affluent tea growing areas (of Zhejiang). Overall it was a very good tea that I am looking forward to having again.
(Pictures are on my blog http://rah-tea.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-chas-zhejiang-wild-growing-dragon.html)
Very buttery and sweet to the nose when dry. Slight seaweed notes when smelling the wet leaves. The brewed tea liquor was straw yellow. The unfurled leaves were whole, not CTC.
A very pleasant velvety seaweed/vegetable notes. I fully enjoyed it and wish I had more than 10 grams to try (I had to share it — only was able to enjoy 8oz of it).
Flavors: Butterscotch, Seaweed, Vegetal
So, I totally missed last night’s eclipse, boo! I woke up at an obnoxious hour to look at it and it was cloudy, or I was too out of it to find the moon, that is always a possibility when I stumble out of bed. Then when I went back to sleep I dreamed about the eclipse, so maybe I did see it after all. This eclipse was particularly awesome because it was on my Grandmother’s birthday, how awesome is that? I hope I get an eclipse on my birthday some year, but I also hope for a blizzard too, and thunderstorms…I don’t ask the weather for much.
Today’s tea from What-Cha might win the award for the most unique terroir I have experienced! Azores ‘Encosta de Bruma’ Premium Green Tea is, as the name says, from the Azores and is from the oldest European tea estate, the Gorreana Tea Estate. They have been producing tea since 1883, they have been pesticide free for 130 years, that is some old school organic practices! The thing that infuriates me is none of my tea history books mention this tea estate, or if they did it was so brief that I forgot about it, tsk tsk, I was not even aware that the Azores produced tea, so being able to be educated about a new tea producing region makes this tea extra special to me. The aroma of the green leaves is gentle, with initial notes of fruit and vegetal. This transitions to sea air and a touch of tomato leaves. I would say that the aroma is both interesting and non-assuming, so it is not like getting hit in the face by a wave or sitting in a pile of fruit. It balances its sweet and savory notes quite well.
I decided to steep this tea Western Style, as it fitting for a European tea. The steeped leaves are still quite gentle with their aroma, it is savory too, with notes of tomato leaf, a bit of tomato, and a nice pinch of sea air. I think it is safe to say that these leaves have some serious umami going on. Which is a total contrast to the liquid! Its aroma is a great blend of fruity notes, specifically apricots and a bit of orange, along with fresh tomato. I will be honest, I had to do a double take sniff, because it caught me a bit off guard. It is a strange aroma, but not an unpleasant one, it reminds me a bit of a salad.
The taste is delightfully mild, sometimes you want a tea with a bold in your face taste, other times you want a tea that is mild and delicate, this is definitely that tea. It starts out fairly savory with notes of sea air and tomato leaf, this slowly transitions to sweetness until it is like taking a full bite out of a fresh apricot. Drinking this tea reminded me of standing on a sea side cliff in Maine while eating an apricot, the refreshing sea air and lush vegetation with fruity sweetness make for a very refreshing cup. I could certainly see myself reaching for a cup of this tea when I have a headache and I want a light, refreshing, tea with very clear and crisp flavors that do not overwhelm.
Flavors: Apricot, Fruity, Ocean Air, Vegetal
I’ve been looking forward to trying What-Cha’s Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea since it was added to the site. The dry leaves are rather large even compared to the already large Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Cannon Ball Green Tea and the smaller Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Dew Drops Green Tea. Like the Dew Drops and Cannon Ball, this tea has a rather strange shape and is wonderful to watch as it slowly opens up. I am not sure if I would describe this tea as Lovecraftian, but if Cthulhu drank tea I wouldn’t have trouble imagining him drinking this particular one. As this tea opens up it transform from large tea pearl to embryo-like monstrosity insect emerging from a cocoon.
I began with a short ten second rinse with boiling water, then for my first infusion I brewed at 176°F for thirty seconds. Their was a peppery aroma and hints of a very dry wine. It had a very light apricot taste, that seems to be common in many teas from Nepal, as well as cherries.For the second infusion I brewed at 185°F for forty five seconds. The aroma changed slightly this time, while pepper and sweet dry wine was still there, the wine scent became more prominent and the pepper scent became murky. This time I tasted a strong muscatel, and sweeter apricot.
In subsequent infusions I added five degrees and ten seconds each time, while the liquor became considerably darker around the five infusion, the aroma disappeared in the third. This tea kept getting sweeter and sweeter as I went on. Because I was so fond of this tea, I almost immediately (okay three hours later) brewed it again. I brewed it at 176°F for four minutes and was meet with slightly different results.
This time the liquor was a beautiful dirty golden color. While it still had an apricot taste, it was riper and generally more enjoyable. It also had a slight tart cherry undertone and a completely new hay taste. The aroma was a little hard to recognized, there was a little murky white wine smell to it, as well as a something similar to wet stone.
I rather enjoyed this tea, I think I prefer longer steeps on this tea while not as complex as either the Cannon Ball or Dew Drops it certainly warrants trying. I still have a large amount of What-cha teas to look at.
(Want to see my amazing photography skills? http://rah-tea.blogspot.com/2014/09/what-chas-nepal-monsoon-flush-2014.html)
Today I was really in the mood for a smokey green tea and I felt like trying What-Cha’s Yunnan Graceful Purple Zi Juan tea, although I mistakenly grabbed the Zhejiang Purple Bamboo Shoot ‘Zi Sun Cha’ Green Tea package without realizing it (and even when I brewed the tea I completely ignored the name on the bag). So I was a little confused during my tasting when I thought I was brewing a purple tea. I didn’t realize my mistake until I brewed it a second time and looked at the bag.
I tried to do a gongfu session with this tea, but the liquor was very light so I decided to skip that and go straight into western brewing. I know the liquor color is not always indicative of the brewed tea, but I decided to be vain and judge the tea by its appearance.
For my first infusion I used water at 176°F for three minutes. I couldn’t really discern an aroma while the aroma of the dry leaves was very intense (spinach, mushroom and spinach). The liquor was very light I tasted a very dry hay taste and slight nutty undertones.
For my second infusion I brewed at 180°F for four minutes. This time I was getting a very slight orchid scent. The liquor was still light, but not as delicate as the last infusion. This time it was nuttier than anything else, although it was vaguely vegetal.
For my third and final infusion I brewed at 190°F for five minutes. It still had the orchid scent from the last infusion, but it also had cherry hints. The taste was pretty much identical to the last.
(I was confused here, because I had not realized that this was not a smokey tea. Ok in my mind I knew it wasn’t a purple tea, but I have yet to have a mislabeled tea at What-cha.)
I decided to start again (still did not look at the name on the bag) and steep the tea even longer than before. With my new leaves I brewed at 185°F for four minutes. This time I was getting an orchid and vegetal scent. As for the taste, it wasn’t drastically different from my first infusion, it still was nutty, and the hay taste was the star.
For my next infusion I brewed at 195°F for five and half minutes. This time it was very different. The liquor was pale like all earlier tries, but the taste was amazing. This time it had a sweet edge as well as being nutty. The sweetness tasted raw like freshly picked sugarcane.
(At this point I finally discovered that this was not a smokey purple tea)
I am rather fond of this tea, even though before my realization it confused me while it is a lot lighter than my everyday type of green tea. I found it enjoyable. This Zi Sun Cha feels like a white tea drinker’s introduction to greens, as well as the reverse. Although if I blindly tasted this I might think it was an oolong because of the floral notes to it. This is too light of tea for me to recommend gongfu brewing this; it becomes interesting the longer it is steeped. I also found it interesting that the leaves feel like they can be continuously reused even though I had relatively long steep times, it never felt watery or thin. I feel that I can serve this to any guest without them complaining about the bitterness (all my guests are unenlightened plebeians who mistake astringency with bitterness).
(Underexposed pictures at http://rah-tea.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-chas-zhejiang-purple-bamboo-shoot.html)
I’ve had a few purple teas from Kenya before, but all that I have had before were closer to black teas then greens let alone a purple tea from Yunnan, so What-cha’s Graceful Purple Zi Juan really interested me. Because of my little mix-up yesterday I did not have a gongfu session with this tea, but I may return to it at a later date.
This is a wonderfully smoky green tea, the dry leaves smell like beef jerky and dry gourd. The leaves are very dark for a green tea, but even with the pungent smoky smell, I could smell it was a green tea. The dry leaves remind me a little of a long jing crossed with a very tippy white tea.
For my first infusion I brewed at 176°F for two minutes. Instantly I was greeted with a very smooth texture. It had moderate (if it was a black tea, I have never had a smoky green tea before), but it also had a tangy grape taste as well. It had a mild smoky aroma, also a little vegetal.
My next infusion I brewed at 185°F for three minutes. This time it had a very silky creamy texture. While it was still smoky, I was starting to taste very mild floral notes, there was also some fruity notes and a little earthiness at the end.
Overall I found this tea to be really nice; I enjoyed the lingering smoky taste while the initial smell may stop a veteran green tea drinker, if you take the plunge and brew it I am sure you’ll love it. It almost reminds me of an oolong/Hei-cha hybrid, but in the back of my mind I could always see how it is a green tea.
(Originally post on http://rah-tea.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-chas-yunnan-graceful-purple-zi.html)
Flavors: Earth, Grapes, Smoke, Tangy
This is the tea I threatened after the rough start to my tea day. It did not flinch. I’m thinking is it stupid, or just arrogant? Turns out neither. This is in my opinion an exceptional white tea. The leaves (buds really) are fuzzy white and beautiful. They smell of fresh grassy hay and malt with a hint of fruit. Steeped the leaf aroma is fresh bread and the buds turn green and alive looking. The tea is the faintest yellow that is clear and bright. The taste is a mix of light malt and fresh hay with melon or cucumber notes late in the sip. I also catch hints of fruit. All of this is surrounded by a fresh mineral taste at the beginning and end of the sip. The aftertaste is fresh, lingering, and of hay and malt. Subtle by usual black tea standards but if you love white tea, I think you will be impressed by this one. Yes! My day is looking up.
This is an incredibly mellow and smooth black tea. I am brewing it Gongfu style in a gaiwan. The first infusion is very mild and a bit floral, there is a lingering caramel sweetness on the tongue. It’s wonderful. There is ZERO astringency and I mean zero.
Oddly enough the first brew for 15 seconds was a burnt orange color and the second brew for 30 seconds is a muted gold color. Interesting. I’ve never seen a black tea get so much lighter in color on a repeated infusion. This time the brew tastes very honey like with floral notes. The third infusion was more delicate and pale with subtler floral notes.
This tea is delicious. It lost it’s spark pretty quickly with Gongfu style infusions but would make a wonderful western cup. I really enjoyed this. Very sweet and mellow for a black tea.
Flavors: Caramel, Floral, Honey, Sweet
As I type this I can say I am feeling some improvement, I am certainly not back to ‘normal’ but I am getting there. Also as I type this there is a massive storm raging outside, power keeps flickering on and off, and the wind is howling. This could be the last storm I experience this year, it makes me a little sad since storms are my favorite kind of weather to experience. If I am lucky I will get to have some snow storms while I am visiting Pennsylvania.
Since it is Wednesday, that means it is time for a tea from What-Cha! Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Sencha Green Tea is a fascinating green tea from Greenland Organic Farms in Nepal, and I admit, I had some confusion on what to do with this tea. Did I want to brew it like a Japanese Sencha in my Kyusu, Western Style in a teacup, or like a Chinese green in a gaiwan, not gonna lie, I sat for a few minutes with tea gear paralysis trying to decide what method to go with. I realizes my Kyusu was practically pouting from neglect so I decided to brew it Japanese style. While I was trying to decide, I spent this time admiring the shape and color of the leaves, they are beautiful, looking like a pile of pine needles on my tea dish, very impressive. The aroma of the needles is as beautiful as the leaves, very light and delicate with notes of chestnuts, fresh hay, mown grass, and an ocean breeze. I have such a weakness for teas that have a marine note to their taste or aroma, it instantly transports me to the beach and that makes me immensely happy. I think I am just going to sniff these leaves while I wait for my kettle to heat up.
Oh man, steeping the leaves makes the aroma so green! Like a delicious pile of grass, spinach, and kelp with a strong sea water note wafting out of the now warmed and soggy leaves. It has a great savory umami quality to it. The liquid is incredibly mild, with clean water and algae notes, it reminds me of the aroma of a clean mountain creek with vibrantly green algae growing in it.
The first steeping is very light! It tastes refreshing and clean, starting with a sea air and algae note and fading to grass and kelp at the middle. The end is a lingering taste of spinach, giving the whole tea a great mildly savory tone, good for people who only want a little umami.
As predicted I went for another steep, the aroma is a mix of green grass and kelp with a tiny hint of sweet nuttiness at the finish. The taste is very similar to the first, but instead of being delicate it has strength, like a refreshing sea air viking…ok, not like that, but you get the picture (I hope.) Leaving this tea to sit and chill (totally by accident, I fell asleep in my chair for about half an hour, happens to the best of us) I noticed it had an incredible sweetness at the finish of fresh chestnuts. This gave me an idea.
Cold Steeping Time! I really do not cold steep enough, I wanted to go all out this time and so I left my tea to cold steep in the fridge for a whopping 20 hours. The first thing I noticed when taking a sip was it had no taste, after realizing I was being kinda dumb (it was first thing in the morning) I shook it up and took another sip, ok that is some flavor! It is richly green and refreshing, like dew drops off of freshly cut grass mixed with kelp. Add in a nutty, yet surprisingly unsweet finish, and you have a delicious tea. I think my cold steep method might need some work still, since I bet if I steeped it for a shorter time it would be sweeter, or that could just be a product of chilling already brewed tea. Either way, this Sencha from Nepal was what I needed to clear my head on a hot autumn day.
The dry leaf smells earthy and smokey, and there’s a touch of sea weed. I’m reminded more of a lapsang souchong or pu’erh than a green tea. The leaf is dark, uniform and tapered – very elegant looking.
My first steep is at 80C for 25 seconds. The liquor is a kind of washed out amber colour, very pretty and unique. The taste is light and delicate. Forefront is the taste of smoke, and then in behind that is a lot of earth and some creamy, nuttiness. As I drink this steeping, a sweetness develops at the opening of the sip. A bit of smoke lingers on the finish.
Second steep 79C, 25 seconds. The leaf is starting to smell sweeter, and the colour has shifted to a yellow green colour. Still smokey, a touch sweet and this steep has some flora notes, primarily jasmine. The mouth feel is quite light and just a touch drying.
Third steep, 80C, 30 seconds. Smokey, floral, a bit more bitter. The sweetness has faded out somewhat.
Fourth, 80C, 25 seconds. The smoke is diminishing, and the floral notes are coming out stronger. A bit astringent.
This is nice, but it’s not an easy drinking tea. I think there’s a fair bit more left in these leaves, but I’m done.
Flavors: Astringent, Creamy, Earth, Jasmine, Nutty, Seaweed, Smoke
Hey, guess who is about to lose their internet for one day for reaching the cap? That’s correct, little ol me. It’s just silly but if it makes Verizon happy to do so, go ahead. I am not giving you another dime.
This Nepali tea is an obvious green from the first sip. Dry it reminds me of gunpowder green in appearance but there is no smoke or roasted notes. Instead it smells grassy. The taste is crisp with a bite – the good kind of bitter. There is a citrus note that became obvious when I sweetened the cup. It doesn’t need sweetened, I just wanted to see what would happen. It reminds me of a Chinese green in many ways.
The downside for me was the wet leaf appears shredded. I have been so spoiled by whole leaves from China that I had to remind myself that is not the norm in other growing areas. I just wonder, how they managed to roll pieces into those little nuggets?
See you in October!
I’m surprised I am the first to review this tea, and this should be a little interesting because I’ve been developing a Gongfu brewing method for Darjeeling tea lately, so this tea was one of my Guinea pigs for that.
The first infusion is a honey-gold color with a sweet, mild flavor and a clean mouthfeel. There are slight aromas of oats and malt and the flavor is a nice all-around mellow sweet taste with very subtle hints of spice. The signature muscatel grape aroma that Darjeeling is known for is very present when smelling the wet tea leaves, but as of the first infusion, I’m not detecting it yet in the brewed tea.
The second infusion looks like a citrine crystal caught in sunlight. Now I can taste some floral notes and the muscatel that the leaves were hinting at and a little hint of tannin. There’s more depth and boldness to the flavor, but it is still overall sweet. there’s a lasting sweetness and tang on the tongue which accompanies the hint of dry texture from the tannins.
Third steeping is even richer in flavor. It’s become more difficult to describe but it is starting to taste more like a black tea with a bit more of the tannin and malt flavors and the accompanying sweetness more in the background. It has a very full mouth feel that feels heavy and thick in the mouth. There is very little dryness or bitterness in the finish.
The fourth steeping is very rich and mellow with notes of butter and oak along with the muscatel and subtle hints of floral. The fifth steeping is starting to mellow out some and has a similar flavor. I could keep going with this tea, and I imagine doing so will produce even mellower brews from here on out.
All in all this is a nice Darjeeling if you’re looking for something very thick and buttery feeling. That was the most prominent feature to me that I think would make this one appealing. It’s not quite as floral as some others I’ve had and the muscatel note is not as strong. It’s really sweet in a sort of honey-like way, rather than in a light way like nectar or sugar. There is very little drying or astringent quality to this tea. It leaves a long-lasting flavor in the mouth.
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Oak wood, Oats, Spices
I have a slight conundrum, earlier in the week I decided to paint a Cthulhu (yes it will show up in my tea reviews alongside my tea frog and Prowlers) and I am so pleased with it. I might add some slime to his raggedy wings and tentacles, but if I left it untouched as it is now, I would be content. Problem is, this is the first of the miniatures I have painted that I consider finished, and now I am for some reason terrified to work on any of the other ones. It is silly, I am so convinced that I am going to screw them up, that all my creative talent went into my Eldritch Horror…I am sure it will pass in a day or so, but it is a very odd feeling. Any other artists ever have that feeling when they complete something?
Today’s tea for What-Cha Wednesday is Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong, silver oolong just sounds pretty, like the oolong is made of moonlight or something incredibly whimsical. Grown at Greenland Organic Farm in Nepal, near Mt Kancghenjunga at an altitude of 3,000m, looking at the photo of the farm on What-Cha’s page for this tea, perhaps this oolong is made from snow, clouds, and silvery mist. I find myself pleased to try more teas from Nepal, expanding my tea education is a joy! The aroma of these fluffy and silvery leaves is summed up as light, with notes of orange blossoms, cane sugar, a touch of undefined flowers, and a tiny hint of herbaceous green. It is like a blend of white tea, oolong, and delicate green tea, when I say that it is light, the aroma itself is very defined and has a presence, just the notes themselves are very light and airy.
Into the gaiwan it goes! I felt bad for my first gaiwan, poor chipped thing has been mostly replaced by my auspicious bat gaiwan, so I decided to give it some love, plus the delicate white porcelain seemed perfect for such a delicate seeming oolong. The aroma of the now steeped leaves is a mix of orange blossom, sage, and lettuce, again with a distant hint of floral. The liquid is very similar to the brewed leaves, except there is more of a green, fresh vegetation aroma that accompanies the flowers. I am especially fond of of the orange blossom aroma, I do not run into that very often.
The first steeping is delightfully light and clean tasting, with a start of cane sugar and orange blossoms, this transitions to fresh vegetation and steam. Ok, steam, yeah that sounds weird, but have you ever been in a conservatory or greenhouse that is steamy and it is that mix of flowers, growing things, and water that you can taste when breathing through your mouth? That kind of steam, it is quite evocative and refreshing. This steeping reminds me of white tea, oolong, and green tea took their most delicate and mellow notes and combined them into this cup.
For the second steep the aroma is very sweet, like orange blossoms and orange zest, after that it fades to fresh vegetation. The taste of this steep has a definite boost of body in comparison to the first, it starts a bit dry and sharp with a definite taste of fresh spring water, complete with minerals. This transitions to a mix of spring water and orange blossoms, with a tiny hint of kale. At the finish you get a sweet burst of orange and cane sugar that lingers for quite a while. Like the previous Nepalese oolong, I feel clean and refreshed after sipping this tea.
Flavors: Floral, Green, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest
6g of tea in my 160ml gaiwan (about 150ml of water used due to volume of leaf in the cup)
I stuck my nose into the bag of dry leaves and took a sniff. Imagery of summer time gardening swirled in my mind. I remembered when I was young and my dad had just cut the lawn with his ride-on lawn mower. The freshly cut blades laid under the South Florida sun for a few minutes before he raked it into a thick green bin which he used only for gardening. I remembered putting my head into the half filled bin and smelling the grass.
It didn’t smell like a freshly cut lawn which smells humid and green. Sun dried grass smells steamed and sweet.
I also got other notes from the dry leaves. A nutty sweet, like walnut and honey, note made it into my mind.
The tasting reinforced my nose. A creamy taste of sun steamed grass clippings, walnut, and honey that melts all together into a soft velvety finish is what I sensed. The flavor felt as if it were kissed by the sun, warm.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Honey, Walnut
I have really missed my time with tea and I am happy I picked out a good one today to get reacquainted. The last week has been basically Tetley and Lipton Citrus Green RTD. I like them fine but there is no depth. So yeah, for the good stuff today. I haven’t had Sencha in a long time. This one is a Nepali version of Sencha. Since I have no real working knowledge of Sencha I can only comment on the cup, free of all outside comparisons. Well except I don’t operate in a vacuum so I guess that can’t be true.
This has a steamed spinach aroma after pouring and the taste reminds me of either Chinese Mao Feng or Xinyang Maojian. It has that good bitter bite up front that fades into smooth grassy. What is different here is the grassy begins to be overtaken by a mineral note but before it completes the mission, the sip moves into a bright finish. I like this one. It is nicely complex and has many of the elements that amuse me in a green tea. It does have moderate mouth drying but doesn’t burn the stomach like astringent black teas.
Guess who has perfectly dyed vibrantly teal hair? Yeah, ok, no guess really, it is me, for the first time in a long while my hair turned out perfect, it practically glows with the level of brightness. I have Minecraft diamond hair now, which is awesome. What isn’t awesome is I went nocturnal and I am spending today staying up very late in hopes that I can flip my schedule back to diurnal, the constant struggle, of course this means I might be a bit more rambling than usual.
It is Wednesday, meaning it is time for another tea from What-Cha, today’s lucky leaf is Kenya Premium White Tea. Alright everyone, stop, collaborate, and listen…this tea might be the most unusual tea I have ever had (that is actually Camellia sinensis and not some strange herbal concoction) seriously, go out and buy yourself some, heck buy me some, because I went through my sample of this unique tea in record time. Looking at the dry leaves, it doesn’t look like a white, it looks like a fuzzy golden tea from Yunnan…sniffing the leaves it has the sweet corn notes of a Kenyan Silver Needle, the heady floral notes of an oolong, and the malty, sweet potato, and caramel notes of a golden Yunnan tea. I am confused and totally in love, Ben thought I lost my marbles because of the maniacal giggling coming from me while sniffing the leaves.
After a moment of contemplation on the best way to brew these mysterious chimera like leaves and inevitably settling on my gaiwan, I gave the leaves a good steeping. The aroma of the now quite soggy leaves is delicious, a blend of sweet corn, malt, sweet potatoes, and flowers (specifically peony and orchids) waft out towards my nose. The liquid is much yum, very sweet with notes of peony flowers and sweet corn mixing with malt and cocoa. It is like someone did a cocktail of half Yunnan Gold and half Kenyan Silver Needle…two of my favorite teas, oh dear this might undo me.
If you do heed my advice and buy this tea to try yourself, make sure you are sitting down because this tea will sweep you off your feet. It tastes just like the liquid smells, it starts with sweet corn and peony with delicate mouth tickling trichomes and then transitions to malt, caramel, and cocoa notes. It is quite unlike any tea I have ever experienced before.
Second steep time! The aroma is so wonderful, the sweet corn, peony, and malt notes work really well together, no note overpowers. This steep has more in common with the Yunnan Gold aspects of its personality than the Kenyan White, with notes of malt, caramel, cocoa, and sweet potatoes. At the end there is a strong note of peony and a hint of sweet corn with a lingering aftertaste of molasses.
For the third steep the aroma is very sweet, lots of sweet corn and caramel with a touch of malt. This time the tables turned, the taste is more focused on the Kenyan Silver Needle with more delicate notes of sweet corn and a burst of peony. This fades to a blend of caramel and molasses with lingering sweetness.
Alas I did not take official notes or snap a picture because I was in a hurry and grabbed the first tea off my desk (this lucky one) to toss in my travel infuser for sipping while out and about. Using slightly cooler water (180) and an obviously longer steep (several hours) I noticed that it started out with sweet corn and peony, very delicate and sweet. This grew into malt and molasses notes until the finish of my sipping which was quite robust and very sweet. Teas like this really make me happy, not only do they taste fantastic, they are outside the ‘norm’ for that type of tea, it reminds me to never go into a tea expecting something, to treat each tea like an adventure…sometimes you get a few new and unusual flavor or aroma notes and sometimes you get something completely unusual and unique.
Flavors: Cocoa, Floral, Kettle Corn, Malt, Molasses
Prepared this two days ago and again today. First attempt was 12 oz. It was supposed to be 8 oz but there were 4 ounces left in the kettle from a previous gongfu session. The tea was very smooth with no bitterness or astringency. It had a mildly thick creamy feel. The flavor was rather straight forward and reminded me of fall leaves. My brain recalls it tasting very similar to a Formosa oolong I had a couple years ago. My brain very often remembers things quite wrong.
I thought maybe if I tried this again with less water I would get different results, and I did. The second time (today) I used 6 oz and 3 g of leaf. A squirrel named Google distracted me and I steeped this five minutes. Holy Cow! This was bitter! Except for that, the flavor was still light and woodsy.
If you are a big, bold, highly flavored, tea drinker, you will not get this one. I prefer light notes even in flavored teas – except my beloved Earl Grey, which must be able to peel paint when needed. This is a simple, light in taste cup, good for a quiet afternoon like today.
After a few other cups, I’m revisiting this one today, with a second steep of the same leaves.
And steep two is so completely different from the first steep. The first was all fresh garden veggies. On the nose is something that I can’t quite identify… hay, corn husks, soy milk and clean furry animals? Weird but not bad.
On the palette the start of the sip is very floral with rose petals, and then moves to cucumber and melon. A touch of tang and astringency on the finish.
Very nice! I’m very intrigued by how this is developing, and how unexpectedly.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Cucumber, Floral, Fur, Hay, Melon, Rose, Soybean