1810 Tasting Notes
I think this may actually be the last un-tested tea of my high-altitude sample pack from Naivetea. Woah, progress! This has been great because I feel like I know a little more about different types of green oolongs, though I have a ton more to learn. My goal is to have a decent sense of the most popular types of green oolong and which ones I like most before I go to China in late March, knowing that when I get there I will likely be overwhelmed in varieties I’ve never heard of. :)
The dry leaf smells green and vegetal and a hint floral. Steeped, the florals come out more and are joined by a light creamy/buttery aroma. The flavor is a nice balanced between fresh green leafy notes and soft florals. There is the slightest hint of sweetness toward the end of the sip which gets stronger as the tea cools. There is maybe the slightest hint of butteriness in the flavor, but this is really a much more fresh, green floral tea than some others.
I do admit that it’s difficult for me to keep all these Li Shan/A Li Shan/Shan Lin Shi green oolongs separate in my mind! They are all very tasty but none of them has really stuck out as spectacular to me. Maybe I’m a more of a Tieguanyin kind of girl. :) I have some others to try from thepuriTea, so my oolong journey is far from over.
I usually don’t drink green tea in the morning, but this isn’t your regular green tea… this is jasmine pearls blended with maté. I recently had a groupon-style deal for Sanctuary T that was expiring, so I went shopping to figure out what teas to buy. They offer samples for a few of their teas, but none that I was really interested in, so I had to go for a couple of 2oz teas. They had a number that sounded interesting until I took a closer look and realized that I had tried a bunch of them under different names from other companies. This was one that I had never seen anywhere else before and it appealed to me.
The dry leaf smells minty and green, with a hint of jasmine underneath. I think that maté can smell a bit minty, and it definitely reminds me of my recent travels to Argentina. The tea came without a temp for steeping, but I used a green tea temp because of the jasmine pearls. Also, I don’t know how hot the water is that Argentinians usually use for their maté, but I’m pretty sure it’s not actually boiling (at least, it wasn’t for one girl I stayed with). I steeped it for 1.5 min (based on their 1-2min recommendation), but I’m pretty sure I’d be happy with 2 minutes.
The tea smells more jasminey after steeping, though not overwhelming. Still green minty and that herbaceous maté aroma. It’s pretty faithful to that in the taste as well, though the jasmine is just a hint. Looking in my infuser it looks like the jasmine pearls didn’t get much chance to expand, so I guess I’ll be resteeping this one! The flavors remind me of an Argentinian herbal tea I brough back with me (not a maté blend), actually. It’s not a combination that I would expect to like, but it’s pleasant and I do really like it.
Second steep was a tiny bit hotter (180°F) and for 3 minutes. The jasmine pearls are really unfurling now. It’s decent but I liked the first steep better; there seems like there’s less flavor in this one. I think using these parameters for the first steep might yield my perfect cup of this tea.
This is the last of my infused oolong sampler from Naivetea that I have yet to try, though I do have a few of the high-mountain ones left. I put this one off at first because I remembered not being totally taken with the aroma of the dry leaf, but then when I just smelled it now the scent was a strong, lovely floral. I’m not super familiar with osmanthus as a flower, though I’ve had a few different osmanthus oolongs that I believe I’ve enjoyed. I feel like they all taste pretty different, though, so I never know what to expect.
They weren’t kidding about the intense osmanthus aroma. Steeped, this tea is incredibly floral to the point of being perfumy. There’s a slightly buttery vegetal aroma hiding somewhere underneath those flowers, but it’s being swamped! The level of florals reminds me of the Rose Violet Calendula Oolong. The flavor of the tea is slightly sweet and super floral. Wow, it’s even a little strong in the florals for me, and that’s saying something. I feel like I am drinking a bouquet, or perhaps even some osmanthus perfume. After reading Amy oh’s tasting note for this, I’m thinking that this is one that definitely needs multiple, short steeps. One long steep brought out so much osmanthus that the rest was kind of overwhelmed. As it cools, the florals calm down a little (or maybe I’m just getting desensatized to them), but it’s not so perfumy. I’m defintiely tasting more sweet, buttery, creamy notes. Not my fave from the pack by a long shot, but I think once I get my oolong gongfu set up, it will be a great tea for that.
ETA: I’m starting to wonder if somehow my samples of the floral oolongs were more heavily scented than others have tried… all these tasting notes talking about light osmanthus, hah! The Rose Violet Calendula oolong seemed stronger than I had before, as well. Odd!
Tea #2 of the Tea from Taiwan Jin Xuan (milk oolong) sampler. This is an all natural, no flavoring whatsoever milk oolong, although based on my experiences with the “flavored” one of this pack I am not really expecting this to remind me of a milk oolong.
This time I threw the entire package in my mug, which is a little more leaf than I would normally use, but I realized I wouldn’t really be able to get another cup out of the sample with the leftovers. To compensate I steeped it for 2 minutes instead of my usual 3, and I don’t think it came out too strong. It does have a slightly milky, slightly buttery aroma to it, but that definitely doesn’t come through in the flavor. The first thing I think of when I take a sip is a big pile of sauted spinach. It’s very vegetal, and some florals come out in the tail end of the sip, but not many. Honestly, this is really not the oolong for me. But they can’t all be the tea for me, otherwise my cupboard would explode!
I just got a new infusing basket in the mail last night, and I couldn’t wait to try it out! I use a Tea Forte Kati Cup for 90% of my tea, but the handle on the infuser basket for it broke off a while ago, so I’ve had to pry the basket out with the tip of a dull knife at the end of each tasting, and sometimes it’s really hot! Finally I broke down and ordered a new ForLife infuser basket (this one: http://preview.tinyurl.com/7we6l5v) that is kind of a tall, narrow, use-it-in-any-mug deal with a nice sturdy handle. I’m also excited that since it’s a ForLife the holes are way smaller than the metal screen of the basket I had before, so that should mean less bits in my tea now.
This is a pretty decent tea to try it out with because the leaf is CTC and very small. And indeed, only the finest of tea dust escaped the basket. This tea is just amazing to me because it totally doesn’t look like much, with it’s tiny little pieces of leaf, but it is so tasty. Last time I brewed it for some unknown time because I forgot to start the timer, but I think I could actually brew it for longer and not get bitterness because this time it seems a tiny bit weak. Still, I love the combination of flavors (bergamot, jasmine and red currant), and when I run out I will probably have to make a blend myself since it is unlikely I will find it again. But for now I have a pretty decent sized tin that will likely last me a while, yay!
Ah, white tea, my old nemesis. Hah, not really, but still, I haven’t had a ton of luck with white teas in the past. Not that I have brewed white teas that I’ve actively disliked or couldn’t finish the cup, but I have always been a bit disappointed. But this is a tea that a lot of people who say they have had problems with white teas have liked, so I am interested to try it.
To me the dry leaf smells a bit like alfalfa hay. The leaves are fluffy and I used about 2.5 perfect teaspoons in my 12oz cup, though of course the fluffy leaves mean probably less leaf ended up in there, but hopefully it was a decent amount. Steeped, the scent of the tea reminds me of fresh-cut grass, and a bit of cooked vegetables. This is definitely a smooth, relaxing, and pleasant tea. The flavors are light but distinct; a little grassy/hay-like, a tiny bit floral, and a very smooth mouthfeel. Am I a white tea convert? Maybe not quite, but at least now I “get” more of what it’s all about. Thanks again to Angel Chen & Teavivre for the sample! (Finally, one of my boxes of samples that I got over the last couple of months is all tasted! I am running far behind on trying my new teas…)
I used the rest of my sample of this for my lunch-time cold brew. It made a really nice cup of iced tea; very jasminey but not overwhelming. As much as I missed the golden buds flavors in the hot tea, I really didn’t get any here… it was hard to tell I was even drinking a jasmine black as opposed to a green, even. Somewhat surprising! Still, it was a tasty cup of tea.
I can honestly say that I haven’t been bowled over by my samples from thepuriTea like I was expecting to be. However, I had yet to try this tea. See, thepuriTea is the source of what is still my very favorite passion fruit black tea; none of the others I’ve tried have really compared. And apparently, there mango black is just as good.
The dry leaf smells like dried mangoes. There aren’t any dried mangoes in the blend or anything, and it’s nice to smell a fruit flavored tea that doesn’t smell like fruit candy, but rather the fruit itself. The addition of hot water has turned the dried fruit to fresh, because the steeped tea smells like a lovely, ripe mango. Not one I would get in the grocery store here in NY, but rather one I would get from a market in Africa. Turns out that I brewed this one a little hotter than I brewed the Passion Fruit Black for some reason, but this tea still turned out super smooth without a hint of bitterness. The mango flavor is juicy and lightly tart without being too tart, and the black tea base adds to the honeyed, lovely taste. Totally awesome. Even if I find no other teas from thepuriTea to buy, these will always have to be in my cupboard.
So a little while ago I was going through old discussion threads about milk oolongs and I saw the Tea from Taiwan Jin Xuan (milk oolong) sample pack discussed. As I have found out most milk oolongs are “flavored” by subjecting the growing plants to various things, but because this is done on the growing end of things almost all places that sell milk oolongs don’t mention it, if they know. Personally I don’t really think of that as “flavoring” in a normal sense since it’s all done while the plant is growing, nor do I have a problem with flavoring tea anyway. I was curious about the difference, though, and this pack has samples that you can actually compare. It has three milk oolongs: two that are all-natural, no flavoring added at any point, and one that is flavored. This is the flavored one.
The dry leaf does smell nicely creamy, slightly fruity, with a hint of greenish florals… in short, not unexpected. The steeped tea builds on those, with more florals and a definite buttery note. If I breathe in really deep I get a distinct vegetal note. At no point does this tea smell like acutal milk or sweetened condensed milk, which some people say is a tip-off that it’s been flavored. This is clearly a very lightly flavored one, so I’m interested to see how the unflavored ones compare. I can tell it’s a milk oolong from the aroma, but you could have fooled me by the taste. I probably steamrolled over the nuances in flavor by brewing it western style, but that’s how I brew all my oolongs. It’s fresh, green, vegetal and a bit buttery. I don’t really get a creaminess from this… actually almost the opposite as it’s a hint astringent. There is certainly none of the light sweetness you find in some oolongs (whether they’re natural or not!). I was honestly expecting a bit more from this one, and certainly expecting something a bit different. Oh well, it’s still pretty tasty.