2074 Tasting Notes

99

On the road again. This morning I woke up far, far too early to go to an airport far too far away. I bougt a cup of hot water at a cafe but decided to forgo their lackluster teabag selection. I packed a variety of sachets for this trip, and fortunately its a short one. When I was getting them together I found that I had three more sachets of this one left… I thought I was either out or down to the last one. It’s been a long time since I’ve had this tea, and I miss it! So delicious.

Angrboda

where to this time, globetrotter?

Dinosara

This time, a short jaunt to Canada.

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83
drank Da Yu Ling Oolong by Naivetea
2074 tasting notes

Gong fu oolong of the day. I am following Naivetea’s instructions exactly for this one, including amount of leaf for my 6oz pot since they are explicit on that point.

No rinse, first steep 50 seconds. It certainly smells nice, floral and buttery and a bit vegetal. Geez, apparently I can’t take a sip today without inhaling tea along with it! I just did it twice in a row. Bah. Ok, finally got a good sip. It’s fresh and green, like fresh sweet sugar snap peas. There are a little florals, but they’re not really very present. No sweetness, really just a pleasant green flavor.

Second steep, 40 seconds. Honestly, this steep is kind of meh. Very underwhelming. At once low on flavor but what is there is strongly vegetal. It’s tempting to give up on it right now, but I remember what happened with the last Naivetea oolong I gong fu’d (I got great steeps toward the end). I’m afraid the third steep, back to 50 seconds, is the same way. Fourth steep, 60 seconds, weaker but otherwise same. I’m afraid there doesn’t really seem to be anything more coming out of these leaves. Fifth steep, 70 seconds, same.

I’m not really dropping my score on this one because I did like the western style steep of it back when I first tried it. But following the instructions they sent exactly? A big ol’ meh. Even the first steep wasn’t really that impressive. Oh well.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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81
drank Golden Monkey by Harney & Sons
2074 tasting notes

I have a recent new appreciation for unflavored black teas, especially Fujians, so I decided to revisit this one, which was a sizeable sample from JacquelineM a while ago. I still have enough in the tin for another cup after this one, even!

Mm, I definitely appreciate this one more than I did the first time I had it. I’ve really come to love those Fujian flavors. This one has lots of those caramel, honey, bready notes. I like this a lot. I tell you, I never thought I would get into unflavored black teas because they didn’t really appeal to me, but I am definitely enjoying them now. Of course, that usually means that suddenly I need to try all the different kinds, like when I first got into oolongs.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

lmao – I know the feeling! why do we go through these different phases with tea? :)

ScottTeaMan

The real problem hits you when you realize that usually the more expensive teas are better, and your stuck-because who wants an ordinary Keemun after you’ve tasted a really great Golden Monkey.

ScottTeaMan

I doubt I’ll ever have a prolonged Rooibos phase…….SERIOUSLY DOUBT!

SimplyJenW

My rooibos phase was short…..and now I pretty much just have ones where you can’t taste the rooibos itself (chai and hot cinnamon…)

Dinosara…have you tried Harney’s Keemun Mao Feng? (I know I am not helping your sample reduction…..)

Scott B

“now I pretty much just have ones where you can’t taste the rooibos itself” — That’s my kinda Rooibos, SimplyJen!

TeaBrat

After tasting so many God awful rooibos blends I think I like the taste of plain rooibos just fine!

ScottTeaMan

Just about the only blened one I may try is a Chai Rooibos.

Angrboda

Oh Fujian. :) I wish there was a Fujian Drinker’s Society, I’d join in an instant. :)

Dinosara

Scott, Scott and Amy — I’m kind of ambivalent about rooibos, but I don’t anticipate going through a rooibos phase!

Jen — I haven’t tried that one, actually I don’t think I’ve tried any straight Keemun. That’s a whole ’nother can of worms!

Ang — I think I would be joining you!

ScottTeaMan

If you put some Mezcal in your tea, then ‘can of worms’ would be truly appropriate! :))

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91
drank Black Currant by Harney & Sons
2074 tasting notes

Ugh, computer problems. It is annoying that probably my whole day will be taken up trying to fix and repair things. I need a comforting tea, and preferably one that helps me bust my sample stash. This fits the bill, as I only have a little of it left after this cup. Probably only enough to throw in a cold-steep blend.

I recently discovered some local-ish black currant juice in my grocery store, which was very exciting as I love black currant but it’s not a common thing here in the states. So I guess it’s kind of a black curranty day since I’m having this tea after I had my black currant juice with breakfast. Mmm, there is something just so utterly comforting about black currant (and thus this tea) to me, which is funny because it’s not like it’s a flavor from my childhood. But it is delicious.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85

Gong fu of the day. I’ve had this one once before but I think I mistakenly put the review under the organic version; I checked, and I have the non-organic. Whoops. Anyway I used one of the vacuum-packed sample pouches for my 6oz teapot; I measured, and it was a little over 1 Tbsp. I’m going to try this one a few short steeps to start and see how it goes. Side note: there are a lot more tiny tea bits in this pouch than I remember the last one having. Thankfully I have my ultra-fine strainer for my ru tea set, so no bits in my fairness pitcher.

After a quick rinse I did a 20 second steep, and it smelled and tasted delicious. Floral, sweet, a bit buttery, just overall delightfull. Really, basically everything I look for in a TGY, except for maybe I like a few more buttery/creamy notes, but that’s not a big thing. Second steep was also at 20 seconds, and the florals and sweetness have faded considerably from the aroma, while the vegetal greenness has become much stronger. The taste is pretty enjoyable; not as good as the first, but perhaps a bit better than my previous second steeps with other oolongs. Still some sweetness, still some florals, perhaps more butteriness, along with the increased vegetal notes. Third steep at 25 seconds is down to mediocrity. Maybe I do need to use way more leaf for my pot. I will certainly burn through my stash quickly that way!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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87
drank Passionate Rose by Tea Palace
2074 tasting notes

I was in a rosey mood this morning, so I went for this one out of my stash. I feel like I hoarding what is left of my plain rose black tea (not much) so that I don’t run out before I can buy more (it will be a while). I thought maybe I could find a nice rose congou in china, but I didn’t have any luck. This is a nice tea that will give me a hit of rose along with some tasty passionfruit.

I love how the combo of passionfruit and rose almost make lychee… fruity and floral! Lychee has such rose notes anyway. And I am also currently out of lychee black, so this is kind of satisifying that urge, but also kind of making me want more lychee black. :P Nevertheless this is super tasty on its own merits. I’m really loving the black tea base on this one today.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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82
drank Hand Picked Bao Zhong by Samovar
2074 tasting notes

This is my chosen gong fu tea of the day. I got this sample from Amy Oh… thanks! This is my first tea from Samovar, which is a tea company I’ve always wanted to try. I have enjoyed the bao zhongs I’ve had before, but I’ve never had one gong fu.

There isn’t much info about this tea online because it is not on Samovar’s websites, so I used approximate brewing parameters from Naivetea for their bao zhong. I also didn’t rinse this one. In the first steep, 30 seconds, I definitely smell buttery asparagus notes, which are really the main fragrance here. It is definitely sweet, fresh, spring asparagus like we’re getting now. The flavor, though is first sweet and fruity (one of Amy’s posts said there are supposed to be notes of mango in here, and I can see it), then followed by some spring vegetables. Really, really lovely.

Second steep (45 seconds) is much greener in color, and it smells more buttery. But the taste is kind of meh? Not exciting. Same with the third. Same thing as has been happening with most of the oolongs I try to steep gong fu. I dunno, I think maybe I am increasing my steep time too fast? Maybe I should stick with similar timed steeps for the first few at least? I mean, the third steep isn’t bad but it’s nothing to write home about. Why do I get great first steeps and then mediocre steeps for the rest of them in seemingly all the oolongs I try to steep gong fu? Especially when I’ve read so many times that people think the second steep is often the best. Not for me. Gotta figure this out.

A hotter, short fourth steep (boiling, 20 seconds) hints at the notes of the first steep, but they are weaker. An improvement over the second and third, though.

Rating this one on the delicious first steep, which was delightful. Thanks for sharing this with me, Amy!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec
ScottTeaMan

I really liked this one too. :))

TeaBrat

hmmm. whenever I gong fu a tea I tend to use a higher leaf to water ratio than I would otherwise, could this be part of the issue?

ScottTeaMan

I should be more precise when I steep goggfu style- sometime I use too much, sometimes not enuff. What I mean is that I tend to use less leaf than most people.

Dinosara

That may have been a problem with this tea (although it’s the same tea:ratio as Naivetea recommended), but with the other oolongs my pot has been bursting with oolong after steeping so I couldn’t add too much more! I’ll definitely be playing around with the parameters.

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91

This is the third tea I bought at Maliandao in Beijing, at the same tea shop where I picked up the Tan Yang Gongfu. I guess I am in kind of a jasminey mood so I am having a cup of this brewed western style instead of gong fu as I had it when I first tasted it in the shop.

When I was tasting jasmine teas there, this was the mid-grade between the basic jasmine and the jasmine pearls. The jasmine pearls were tasty, but not super special… they tasted like lots of other jasmine pearls I’ve tried. So even though I went there thinking I was going to buy some pearls to bring home, I ended up with some jasmine green instead. I think this could probably be properly called jasmine silver needle as there are a lot of silver needles, along with jasmine petals and parts, in the mix. I would normally steep this at 180°F since it is a green tea, but having just followed Teavivre’s instructions to brew their jasmine silver needle at 195°F and reading Life in Teacup’s plea this morning not to brew greens very cool, I decided to keep this one at 195°F as well.

The resulting cup is very yellow, and smells so much like a full-blossom honeysuckle bush. I often find similarities between jasmine and honeysuckle, and I love honeysuckle qualities in a jasmine tea. Here, they are present in spades. And the taste! Better than a non-pearl jasmine has a right to be, or at least better than most non-pearl jasmines I’ve tried. So sweet, like drinking honeysuckle nectar. It even has a smooth, thick mouthfeel that seems like it should be more than only tea in the cup. As it cools, the green tea comes through more a little strongly, making me think that for western style I could drop the steep time to only a minute. Still, this is a super delicious tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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84

Honestly I don’t have a lot to say about this one right now because I had it with lunch so some of the nuances were lost and I wasn’t really paying attention to it. It was delicious, however, and a 1 minute steep definitely suited it with no loss of flavor. A nice, simpler jasmine to have than pearls.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

Do you like this better than pearls Dsara? I find the Yin Hao to be less fragrant & it doesn’t multi steep as well. but it is still areally good Jasmine tea.

Dinosara

No, I definitely prefer pearls when I want a really jasminey tea, which is usually what I want when I want jasmine tea. :) I do enjoy having a less pungent jasmine green with a meal, though, and I wouldn’t have pearls for that. I did bring back a non-pearl jasmine green from China that I love as much as pearls, but it’s an exception to most things I’ve tried.

tigress_al

Is it as sweet as their jasmine pearls?

Dinosara

No, not as sweet as pearls… this one nice but not on the level of pearls when it comes to sweetness. Teavivre’s pearls are really good, though.

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73

Today is a two-tea kind of morning. I got this sample a while ago from TeaEqualsBliss, but I had put off trying it. For one, I thought it was a kukicha (it was the “twig” in the name), but it turns out it is not. I have enough for a cup, so I’m hoping I get this steeping right. I looked up directions for green tea on Life in Teacup’s site and have a decent idea I think. I am steeping it in my 12oz glass mug filled halfway (so about 6oz), just leaves in the cup, no strainer, leaving them in. The directions say that when the leaves fall to the bottom the tea is ready to drink, but then again I also read that this tea sinks to the bottom right away, so I don’t know exactly when to try it. I suppose when it’s cool enough for me!

The liquor is slightly darkening and the leaves are opening. It smells nutty and vegetal, with some lovely sweet notes, and the flavors are similar. Except now some bitterness is creeping in as it sits here still steeping in the mug. I have just a little liquid left, so I’m going to resteep as suggested. This steep is less vegetables, more grassy, with some other note I can’t place. With a name that includes “Orchid” I would normally expect some florals, but there are none to speak of here.

This is a fairly nice green tea, but I do feel like I’m not getting everything I could out of it. Maybe another time I will encounter this varietal again.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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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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