100 Tasting Notes

88

The Towkak Tea garden is situated on the banks of river Towkak, which also acts as a natural boundary for the garden on its western side. Towkok in Tai language means “dancing tortoise.” In those days it was heard that Towkok river was full of dancing tortoises when the first tea plantation in the area was established on its banks in the year 1885.

I have had a variety of Towkok teas over the years and was really impressed when I picked up a few ounces of loose FTGFOP tea this week from A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, NC. The price is very reasonable, regular price of $4.25 and ounce, on special now at $3.00 an ounce.

Brews up a beautiful color and aroma typical of orthodox Assam teas. Bold, hearty and with biscuity notes that make this a great morning start to the day.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Caramel

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

A very fine Oolong from Taiwan with a lightly sweet and floral aroma—without being cloying or overpowering. Multiple steeps yield consistently good cups of yellow/light green liquor. After 3 steeps, the flavor gets noticeable notes of osmanthus flowers and melon. Very pleased with this tea, which is somewhat reminiscent of the Taiwan High Mountain Oolong of TeaVivre.

Flavors: Floral, Melon, Osmanthus, Sugarcane

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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91

I drink a lot of Japanese green teas, and am partial to the deeply steamed (fukamushi) senchas, so I was very pleased to see this sample in my first Steepster box. Kabuse is steamed for a shorter time, and the tea plants are shaded before picking to produce a sweeter, deeper flavor.

Upon opening the bag, the first thing you notice is the beautiful deep green leaves and hearty marine like aroma. A very good sign of the brew to come. I steeped the sample in my favorite Tokoname Kyusu teapot, at the recommended time, temperature and proportions, and was greeted by a slightly murky but bright yellow green infusion. Nice!

Flavors are bold, filled with notes of corn, peas, and the sea. Umami flavors predominate with a very slight sweetness to finish, and a very full, hearty mouthfeel. Not at all what I was expecting (I thought it would be lighter and more subtle), but definitely a tea I want to taste more of. This tea would go wonderfully with a meal but is flavorful and distinct enough to be enjoyed alone.

Flavors: Corn Husk, Dry Grass, Seaweed, Umami

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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95

Such a wonderful tea. Opened a fresh bag that arrived from Mandala Teas yesterday, and remembered why I loved this tea. Nice mellow nutty aroma and flavor, with tones of sunshine on green grass. A great tea to sit down and appreciate through two or three steepings.

Flavors: Grain, Grass, Nuts

TeaBrat

yes… I have had this before and it is wonderful!

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96

One of the best Yunnan teas I have had this past year, filled with spicy tones on an earthy background typical of this type of tea. The golden tips make up a bold and smooth brew with a wonderful aroma. Multiple steeps brings out more soft smokiness that haunts your taste buds long after the tea is gone.

I enjoy this tea steeped for less than the recommended time, and it works wonderfully for both western and gong fu brewing.

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Leather, Malt, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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73

Not my usual morning tea, just wanted something more robust and brisk to go with my oatmeal. Light aroma, but good flavor and pleasant color. Enough kick to get me going this Monday morning…

Flavors: Malt, Mineral, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85

Such a nice blend for an afternoon cup of tea. I was watching a mini marathon of 1954-55 Sherlock Holmes TV programs yesterday, so of course had to have a pot of this. The blenders created something really special here with just a touch of smokiness that does not cover the base of keemun and darjeeling. Whole leaf blend actually holds up well to a second steeping and tastes good iced as well.

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95

On the rare occasion when I have a guest for tea, this seems to be the one most gravitate toward. I have to admit, it is one of my favorites as well, from the gorgeous little pellets of rolled leaves, to the heady aroma (both dry and brewed), to the amber brew with flavors of malt, honey and fields of grain and wildflowers. Had to add this to my shopping list since there was barely enough left in my stash for a mug this morning…

Preparation
1 min, 45 sec

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95

Over the past month or so I have been slowly working my way through the few ounces of this wonderful tea, enjoying the bright, mellow, impressive flavor and aroma. There are slight nutty hints like a good dragonwell tea, but more herbaceous notes that linger as an aftertaste. A nice buttery quality with no astringency or bitter aftertaste.

I first began brewing this in a small gaiwan, yielding at least 4 good short steepings, but also tried it in a tea thermos, adding 175F water over the leaves several times. Both methods worked well and there always seems to be flavor left in the leaves. Another very interesting and impressive tea from Mandala Tea!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Nightshifter

Sounds lovely!

Garret

Meeting these growers was a real joy – one of the greatest parts about my last tea buying trip. We had to drive an hour out of the village I was staying in, park and then walk an hour up the side of the mountain to get to the Wang’s garden. This was the tea they treated me to when I got to their home. Magical memories everytime I sip this tea. So very happy you are digging this, my brother! Thanks for the write up, too!!

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92

A very nice smooth Oolong with nice subtlety and gentle flavor and aroma. Slight nutty and floral tones blend nicely for a well rounded brew.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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Bio

I have been drinking tea for most of my life, and enjoy learning about Tea Culture from all around the world. I learned early about Russian and British traditions first, since my parents came from Europe, followed by the teas and culture of Ceylon/Sri Lanka and India. Since I have been a practicing Buddhist for the better part of 25 years, I have strong ties to Asia, and have slowly been learning about the teas from each part of the world I encounter. It is a wonderful and interesting journey.

Location

Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

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