22 Tasting Notes
This is the first time I’ve had either a GABA tea or a tea grown in Russia, so I don’t really have any expectations going in. This is apparently a red tea but it almost seems more like a heavily oxidized oolong to me. The wet leaves are a pretty bronze color with an enticing smell of berries and chocolate.
The tea itself tastes ‘brighter’ than I would have expected, a strong fruity flavor with a smooth texture. There’s an odd tangyness that I haven’t come across in black tea, reminds me of pineapple juice. Overall it’s almost too fruity for me, but a nice change once in a while.
Flavors: Black Currant, Cranberry, Pineapple
This tea brought back a surprisingly strong memory of planting tomato starters in little jars full of potting soil with my dad – the not-unpleasant smell of dirt with a hint of fresh green things. Intensely earthy with a little bit of bittersweetness and a viscous texture, just the thing to round off a heavy meal. I’m not sure I would have liked this when I first started drinking shou, but the taste has grown on me and at this point it’s downright comforting.
Flavors: Black Currant, Forest Floor, Wet Earth
I enjoy the Jin Guan Yin cultivar but don’t often see it for sale, so I had to pick this one up. The overall impression is of baked goods, lots of sweet and toasty flavors. Moderate body. This tea lacks the depth and intensity of more expensive yancha I’ve tried, but it still makes a tasty drink that is easy and forgiving to brew. The flavor and texture scream ‘autumn’ to me, I’d drink this one in a thermos while apple-picking.
Flavors: Honey, Toast, Walnut
Purchased as part of Yunnan Sourcing’s aged white tea sampler, but I forgot to take notes on most of the other samples :) This tea is in an interesting place, the liquid is thick and dark but the flavor is still greener than I would expect from something 10 years old. Maybe it’s because this is a bai mu dan and most of the aged white tea I’ve had previously has been gong mei or shou mei grade? I found it a little tricky to brew without getting too bitter, but there’s some nice flavors in there, sweet and vegetal.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cucumber, Melon, Pleasantly Sour
A nice pick-me-up this morning. The texture is thin but the taste makes up for it, perfectly balanced between bitter and sweet. The flavor is very much dark chocolate with a little bit of woodiness to it, I’m not getting the fruit flavors that the vendor describes. This tea punches above its weight, it reminds me of much more expensive black teas. Well worth it for anyone who enjoys chocolate notes.
Flavors: Chocolate, Maple Syrup, Pine
I picked this up after reading about it on the Lazy Literatus’ blog because I was intrigued by a caffeine-free plant with more complex qualities than most herbals. The smell and taste are very fruity, almost too much for my taste. There’s also an interesting undertone of something sharper, maybe mint, almost like some Taiwanese black teas. If I drank this blindfolded I would have thought it was a black tea with added fruit flavor or maybe chrysanthemum flowers. The characteristic bitterness of tea is absent, but it’s still a decently strong and flavorful drink. It’s not replacing my daily drinkers, but I’ll keep this around as an herbal option for the evenings.
Flavors: Fruity, Mint, Pine
Much more like a typical black tea than Leaves of Cha’s other purple offerings. The leaves smell very smoky but the roast doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the tea at all. There’s a nice strong malty base note that makes it clear this is an assamica varietal, but balanced by fruity overtones.
Flavors: Blackberry, Malt, Roasted nuts
The coiled dry leaves are very pretty and incredibly soft, like curls of fur, and would be a very visually impressive tea to serve to a visitor. Wet leaves smell like a barbecue, preparing me for a strong-flavored tea. The taste is similar, savory and smoky with a slight aftertaste of sweetness, like a good beef jerky. This tea could stand up to a meal accompaniment, I’m tempted to try it as an after-dinner dessert alongside grilled pineapple. A nice but not overwhelming pick-me-up, but could be too smoky for those who prefer more delicate black teas.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt, Meat, Smoke, Wood
What a surprising tea. The leaves are almost black with a hint of blue, like very ripe blackberries, with a sweet and smoky aroma. Based on this I was expecting something more like a black tea. Instead the first infusion had me thinking of seawater and trees in spring. But those more oxidized flavors of fruit and wood are in there too, later on. The liquid is a dark orange, with a light texture. I’m curious if this unusual flavor combination is typical of purple teas – I have a roasted purple from the same order I’m looking forward to trying now.
Flavors: Pine, Plums, Seaweed, Wood