2036 Tasting Notes

68

Got a sample of this one in a package from SimplyJenW… yay for continuing my black tea education! I’ve had one other Golden Monkey before, and that was Harney’s. That one I first tried way back when I really wasn’t into unflavored black teas at all, but I liked it pretty well (but not enough to seek out others).

The dry tea for this smells malty and hay-ish. When I smelled this and the Harney version back to back, this one smelled brighter and the Harney one smelled more caramelly. When steeped, this tea has a nice depth to the aroma. It smells honeyed and yes, a bit like dried apples. Also some toasty grains, a bit. Other people have said “tart apples” in tasting notes for this one, and I think I get that… it’s definitely kind of fruity as well as a bit alfalfa-y. There are some light chocolatey notes there, but they’re definitely not the main event. All in all I really enjoy the flavor of this one… except the fact that there is a layer of bitterness over everything. I’m very sensative to bitterness in black teas and this one is oversteeped to my tastes. I definitely need to drop my water temp a smidge next time and see how it goes.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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95

When I made my order for the Golden Fleece I threw in an ounce of this as well since it was labeled as “low stock” and I always wanted to try it. Western brewing as instructed on the Verdant site. Unfortunately I don’t have time to wax poetic about this tea today but safe to say I would if I could! It is a really delicious tea.

The dry leaf smells jasminey in a sweet, fresh, honeysuckle-y way, and the steeped tea smells a little more pungently jasmine. The flavor on this one is so sweet and fresh. It’s almost juicy, which is mind blowing from a jasmine tea. That’s really the most prominent thing I take away from this tea, that lovely juiciness. There is definitely a good amount of natural sweetness to this, which really brings out those honeysuckle notes. It is super smooth and silky in the mouth, and altogether a real pleasure to drink. Yum.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

Looks and sounds awesome! :))

Autumn Hearth

I think you hint this one right on the nose and so concisely too!

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92

I wanted to come back to this tea since it really was pretty much the tea that sparked my interest in unflavored black teas. I’ve tried a lot lately and this one has always been in the back of my mind when trying them, but the memory of it was starting to get muddled.

I love the honeyed, caramelly notes in this tea. It’s a bit grainy, and a tiny bit chocolatey, and a tiny bit sweet, but not nearly as chocolatey and sweet as the Fengqing Black Dragon Pearls I had yesterday. Still, I need to boost this way up in my ratings because it remains one of my favorites after I’ve tried quite a few varieties. This one really exhibits the honey notes that I like in Fujian black teas.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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75

Backlog from earlier today when Steepster was down. I logged on to find steeping suggestions for this tea and there was no Steepster! So glad it’s back up. I took a few notes with this one, which I am also glad to have gotten a sample of from Fong Mong Tea. Thanks!

It’s been a while since I’ve had a really floral oolong, and I was looking forward to it. I used the entire sample in my 12oz mug because it was close to what I usually use for oolongs. The recommended steep time was 6 minutes which seems really long! I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, and I went with 3 minutes instead. The dry leaf smelled lightly floral and green, and when steeped it smelled really fantastic, very floral, with nice saffron buttery notes. Definitely an aroma I like in an oolong.

The taste was surprisingly light… light enough that I wonder if I should have gone the full 6 minutes! But what was there was very pleasant, nice and floral and a bit green. It was just asking for a hint of sweetness there, but it didn’t come out this time. Or maybe a thicker, butterier background to the florals. I bet you could play around with steeping parameters on this one and make it really sing. Glad I got a chance to try it!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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98

I was excited when Angel said this one would be in my next round of samples because I’ve never had a black pearl tea before, but (not to sound like a broken record), since I am getting into Chinese black teas lately I really wanted to try them.

The pearls are so big! Compared to jasmine pearls, that is. They dark with lots of golden streaks and they smell kind of molasses-grainy, but also like hay. I kind of used my perfect teaspoon to dish them out (3 per scoop!) and ended up with 5 pearls for my 12 oz mug, which seems to be similar to what others have used and is in the middle of Teavivre’s brewing recommendations.

My pearls pretty much completely unraveled after two minutes, which I didn’t really expect! Brewed, I smell toasted semi-sweet chocolate, like when there are chocolate chips on the bottom or edge of the chocolate chip cookie and they get a tiny bit burnt. And maybe there’s a bit of that hay in the steeped aroma, too. I am sipping it while it is still too hot for me to taste much of the tea itself, but there is an incredible sweet aftertaste to it. Cooling, cooling… I just can’t help but keep coming back to it before it’s cool enough. Now I’m getting definite sweet chocolate flavors, actually incredibly sweet, which is funny because as I have been smelling the steeped tea I have decided it doesn’t smell sweet at all. But it tastes very sweet, and honeyed, which I love. There’s some other note there coming out now that seems familiar but I can’t place. There’s almost a savory note underneath the sweet note, oddly enough, and it works well.

Love it, love it, love it. I also love that I know that Teavivre has such great prices and quality that I don’t need to shop around for other black pearls. In the end this would probably just be my favorite anyway. Thanks so much for the sample, Angel!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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94
drank Golden Fleece by Verdant Tea
2036 tasting notes

I feel like I’ve been avoiding this tea subconciously. As if it’s too much of a big deal or something… I went ahead and order 2oz of it, but I don’t want to mess it up or anything. I mean, those two ounces cost me a pretty penny. But I’m going to go for it now, and I’m going to steep it western style (following the instructions on Verdant’s site) because it’s somehow less stressful to me at this point.

The dry leaf is beautiful and smells like very fragrant sweet potato chips. I took a big whif and was like, woah! sweet potatoes! Someone came into my office moments after I poured the water on these leaves and asked if I could unlock a door for them, which put me in a panic because I only had a minute to play with. I had a moment of indecision: do I tell them to wait one minute until the steep is done, but the door is just around the corner and that would sound odd anyway. So I walked briskly and I arrived back at my office with 5 seconds to go! Whew.

The steeped tea has some of that sweet potato-y aroma, and maybe the slightest hint of vanilla and spices. First sip, after it’s cooled a bit: woah. woah. Sweet, like brown sugar on a baked sweet potato. Sooooo smooth. Just a luxurious, silky, creamy feel to it. With a little tingle in the aftertaste. In the first part of the sip its straight up sweet potato, one that’s been baked to perfection and still has those fresh notes. Then the brown sugar and spices come sliding in… I mean, not spices so much as the faint hint of allspice perhaps. The after taste is light, and more of a sensation than a taste, a light tingling that is really intriguing. Really an amazing Dian Hong, and if you are a fan of that varietal you owe it to yourself to get a bit of this tea. Can’t wait to gong fu this one and see its performance there!

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec
CHAroma

I see your hesitation. At $30/2 oz. I’d be afraid of messing it up too! I just might have to make a purchase too though…your tasting note has sold me, and I love Dian Hong!

TeaBrat

The price tag of this scared me away…

Bonnie

So worth it! I’ve gone to a movie and spent money in 2 hours that is less satisfying and gone faster! $30 for this…it really is special! Some new tea’s are coming out…a White and a Pu-er.

TeaBrat

I have a serious need to slash my tea budget unfortunately. Need to stay away from the fancy pants stuff until I drink more of what i already have. :-/

Fjellrev

This sounds so awesome. But it really does put things into perspective when you start comparing the price to how much people would spend when going out to a movie and/or restaurant. Sounds like it would be money well spent here.

Dinosara

Yeah, I haven’t been buying new tea lately (or much of anything, actually!), so I didn’t feel so bad about dropping the money on the tea. There are certain teas that are just worth it.

TeaBrat

Hey, no judgments here… :)

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69

I definitely jumped on the chance to get some free samples from Fong Mong Tea, especially after early reviews for their teas were coming back really positive. I asked for this one in order to further my education of black teas! I’ve never had a black tea from Taiwan. The leaves are very long and spindly and difficult to dish out, but hopefully I got the right amount in my cup. They smell kind of chocolatey, but also kind of roasted and they remind me a bit of a dark oolong in aroma.

After steeping the scent is fairly different from the black teas I’ve been drinking regularly. Almost floral? It’s kind of weird, but I think it’s just cause I’m not used to a black tea smelling floral. What a unique tea! It’s like I can taste more standard black tea flavors underneath it, but over top there is a flavor profile I am just not used to. I agree that I get the sensation of mint without actual mintiness. The chocolatey-ness comes out, but there are some… florals? I guess? It’s hard to put my finger on. Maybe piney and minerally, the way some dark oolongs are piney and minerally. Maybe a bit resin-y, like a retisna wine. I think I might have used a little much leaf as this cup has the tiniest hint of bitterness to it, mostly in the aftertaste.

I reall appreciate the chance to try this tea, thank you Fong Mong! It isn’t a flavor profile I normally go for but I am definitely enjoying the cup.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Scott B

Wow, it seems their shipping is really fast.

Bonnie

It must be something in the soil or trees or I don’t know… that is giving this mint coolness illusion in these tea’s…so interesting.

CHAroma

I’ve had that cooling sensation in an oolong before but not a black tea. I’ll have to check this one out! Unfortunately, I was one day too late for the free samples. :(

Dinosara

Yes it’s very oolongy for a black tea!

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87

I couldn’t help it, I had to try this one right away in comparison. First off, the dry leaf smells much less strongly milky and creamy; it’s more fresh and green. You can certainly tell which one is flavored by smelling the dry leaf!

This one smells more floral as well, and I do have to say that I think this one has more of an inherant sweetness and creamy mouthfeel that is just not as present in the flavored variety. Though both are tasty, I do prefer this one. I think these two are very good illustration of flavored vs. unflavored milk oolongs and what shows up in each variety. The flavored was very similar to lots of milk oolongs I’ve had before… all flash in the high notes with not much to back it up. This one is more reserved up front, but overall sweeter and creamier when brewed the exact same way. I’m also interested to see how they both fare in gong fu (but that’s for another day!)

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Cheryl

Thanks for the comparison. This is the one I chose to test, so more hopeful now : )

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80

I recently received another round of free samples from Teavivre… Angel Chen and the folks at Teavivre are really too generous! And with such great tea. Anyway I’ve had their unflavored Jin Xuan before and loved it, but I was wondering how this one would taste. It’s not often a tea company specifies about milk oolong flavoring, and I am excited to try this one.

In the pouch the dry leaf smells incredibly milky, buttery, a bit fruity, as expected. Even milk oolongs that brew up pretty un-milky start out smelling milky, but this one is more amped up than usual. The steeped tea smells more floral, almost magnolia-ish, with a nice sweet creamy background note. If I smell really deeply I get a cooked-greens note in the lingering about as well. It doesn’t have a really rich baked-buttery aroma to it, it’s a bit fresher scented.

Early sips of this yield a nicely sweet-cream, slightly peachy flavor. You know, for all the flavoring it’s pretty light, and it tastes much like some of the other milk oolongs I’ve tried in the past. It’s pretty tasty, but I’m also pretty sure I prefer their unflavored variety. I will have to try that one again now (I still have some sample packs left from my sample of it) to compare because I am curious. I can’t say exactly why except this one seems less creamy which is surprising because it’s the flavored one! But it just kind of seems like the creaminess is on the surface, not melding with the flavor of the tea itself. I’m unsure because it’s been a while since I’ve had the unflavored.

Thanks so much for the opporunity to try this one, Angel and Teavivre!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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97
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
2036 tasting notes

Ah, back to my tea. Some day I will have a variable-temp tea kettle at home, and maybe air conditioning for hot days, and I will drink more tea at home. Right now its way easier for me to drink it at work!

Once I started getting into black teas I knew this would be high on my list of teas to try. I mean, just looking at the notes on Verdant’s site were enough make me excited. The dry leaf has those molasses-grainy notes I love from Fujian teas, so that’s a good sign already. I followed the instructions for western brewing of this tea on Verdant’s site exactly, which means I used a lot more leaf than I usually do (1 Tbsp per 8oz), but the leaf was pretty fluffy so it probably evens out.

After steeping the tea smells really great. Chocolatey, or maybe more properly cocoa-y, like the smell of my dark cocoa powder. Also a bit grainy, but mostly cocoa-y. The flavor is also very cocoa-y, in that same, unsweetened cocoa kind of way. There’s definitely an immediate aftertaste of having eaten something chocolatey. It’s certainly not bitter in the typical way tea is bitter, but it does give the impression of bittersweet chocolate. It was kind of a distracting morning so I didn’t get to spend a ton of quality time with this tea like usual, but it’s definitely delish. Wish I could have written a more thorough review, but I guess I can save it for next time!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Profile

Bio

I am tea obsessed, with the stash to match. I tend to really enjoy green oolongs, Chinese blacks, and flavored teas with high quality bases, especially florals, bergamot-based teas, and chocolate teas.

In my free time I am a birder, baker, and music/movie/tv addict.

Here are my rating categories, FYI:
100-90: Mind-blowingly good, just right for my palate, and teas that just take me to a happy place.
89-86: I really really like these teas and will keep most of them in the permanent collection, but they’re not quite as spectacular as the top category
85-80: Pretty tasty teas that I enjoy well enough, but definitely won’t rebuy when I run out.
79-70: Teas that I would probably drink again, but only if there were no preferrable options.
69-50: Teas that I don’t really enjoy all that much and wouldn’t drink another cup of.
49 and below: Mega yuck. This tea is just disgusting to me.
Unrated: Usually I feel unqualified to rate these teas because they are types of teas that I tend to not like in general. Sometimes user error or tea brewed under poor conditions.

Location

Ohio, US

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