1045 Tasting Notes

84

This was another of my recent sipdowns and a tea from which I expected a little more. Li Shan teas usually do it for me, and What-Cha tends to do a great job of sourcing stuff from Li Shan. While this was still a very good tea overall, I have had better Li Shan oolongs.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the rolled leaf and bud sets in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minutes, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bud sets emitted aromas of bread, honey, sweet potato, and cream. After the rinse, fresh aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, butter, and green wood emerged. The first infusion then added a slight banana scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, bread, malt, honey, roasted almond, roasted peanut, and green wood that were chased by delicate hints of banana, golden raisin, sugarcane, green apple, pear, caramel, and chocolate. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of sugarcane, chocolate, orange zest, lemon zest, caramel, and vanilla. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of caramel, chocolate, pear, sugarcane, and green apple emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, oats, orange zest, lemon zest, and sweet potato. Hints of grass, apricot, plum, cedar, juniper, peach, and cinnamon could also be detected around the fringes. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize lingering notes of minerals, cream, malt, bread, pear, roasted almond, roasted peanut, green wood, orange zest, and lemon zest that were chased by hints of honey, green apple, caramel, chocolate, sweet potato, sugarcane, and grass.

On the one hand, this tea offered a lot of the aromas and flavors I have come to expect of heavily oxidized and/or roasted Li Shan oolongs, but on the other hand, the oxidation was significant enough to bring out several notes I tend to get out of many black teas. Because of this, drinking this tea was something of an odd experience for me. It simultaneously reminded me of both Li Shan oolong and black teas, but it did not walk the line between oolong and black tea well enough to really stand out to me. It ultimately struck me as being a quality tea that had a few awkward characteristics and did not manage to do any one thing well enough to push it to the top of What-Cha’s small pile of consistently amazing Li Shan offerings.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, banana, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Grass, Green Apple, Green Wood, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Raisins, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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77

This was another of my recent sipdowns. Like the review of What-Cha’s Taiwan Shan Lin Xi black tea that I just posted, I am also piecing this review together from the shredded remnants of my handwritten rough draft. Pet ownership is fun. The same cat responsible for shredding my current notebook enjoys making nests or little hoards out of things she steals from me. I’m certain that the pages she wallowed, ripped, and tore loose from the notebook’s binding would have quickly made their way into such a creation, and then there would have been no recovery of any information contained on them. The last time I stumbled upon a Mean Baby cache, I found ink pens, paper clips, bottle caps, rubber bands, cat toys, various coins, and a dirty sock. She had stuffed these items under the base of a floor lamp in my living room. I can only imagine where these notes would have ended up. Anyway, this tea represented something of a first for me, as I’m pretty sure it was the first tea from Sandakphu that I had ever tried. Bizarrely, I had previously tried several teas from each of the other major Nepalese tea producers, but at the time I was working my way through the sole pouch of this tea that I had purchased, I could not recall trying any other Sandakphu tea. It was a respectable enough offering with something of a different character compared to the other Nepalese black teas offered by What-Cha.

I took a break from gongfu brewing with this tea, opting to brew it Western style. I prepared it by steeping approximately 3 grams of loose leaf material in 8 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the tea leaves prior to infusion, nor did I attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced aromas of bread, malt, cocoa, brown sugar, and sweet potato. After infusion, I noted new aromas of earth, butter, roasted peanut, stewed tomato, geranium, and prune. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered a unique mix of earth, cream, stewed tomato, cooked green bean, brown sugar, sweet potato, orange zest, malt, bread, cocoa, grass, lemon zest, pine, roasted peanut, geranium, roasted almond, butter, hay, prune, and roasted walnut flavors. Additional impressions of black cherry, oak, and blackberry were little more than background notes. The finish was creamy, malty, and vegetal, but it also displayed a pronounced woodiness, powerful astringency, fairly heavy roasted nut notes, and something of a lingering fruity character.

Overall, this was a pretty good Nepalese black tea, but it struck me as having some obvious flaws. First, its flavors frequently came across as muddled. There were times where the balance of the tea liquor was lacking. It was also a bit lacking in texture, and the finish was a bit too astringent for me. Still, this was not a horrible offering, pretty far from one actually. I’m happy that I took the opportunity to give it a try.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Blackberry, Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Geranium, Grass, Green Beans, Hay, Lemon Zest, Malt, Oak, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Prune, Sweet Potatoes, Tomato, Walnut

Preparation
3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Leafhopper

I had to laugh at your cat’s hoarding instincts. I’m glad none of your tea has ended up in her nests!

eastkyteaguy

It actually has. She has been known to turn the garbage bin over to munch on spent tea leaves. She will also steal pouches of tea, tear them open, and then wallow and eat the dry leaves.

Leafhopper

Sounds like one determined (and destructive) cat! :)

eastkyteaguy

Oh, she is. Just in the recent past, she has stolen my wallet and hidden it, stolen my car keys, taken food out of my hands and run off with it, and stolen credit cards out of my wallet.

Leafhopper

Haha, she sounds like a toddler!

eastkyteaguy

I think she is a toddler. She’s one of the smartest, most inquistive, and most vocal cats I’ve ever encountered. You can look at her and just tell that the wheels are turning. She is constantly trying to figure out how to get more attention, how to get more food, how things in my house work, and how to get things she isn’t supposed to have.

eastkyteaguy

Just FYI, her name is Mean Baby.

Leafhopper

You named her well! Maybe you should invest in cat-proof bins for your tea, or lock it up and see if opening combination locks is one of her skills. If nothing else, you could post that on YouTube. :) I’m not sure how you’d go about protecting wallets and other important loose items.

tea-sipper

AH, I can’t stop laughing at Mean Baby’s name. And it sounds like a perfect name for her. :D

mrmopar

Too funny. We have one that will fetch a small ball of aluminum foil. Won’t bother with anything else.

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88

This was one of my recent sipdowns, coming from around a month or two ago. I wasn’t planning on reviewing this tea just yet, but Mean Baby, the naughtiest tortie in recorded history, decided to wallow my current review notebook and rip more pages out of it. She nearly shredded the page containing this review, so I am now typing it from loose pieces of notebook paper that have been pressed back together. Anyway, I had huge expectations for this tea after being floored by What-Cha’s absolutely incredible Li Shan black tea. In comparison, this Shan Lin Xi black was not quite as good, but it was still a high quality offering with a ton to offer.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick 5 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of honey, plum, black raspberry, bread, sweet potato, black grape, and cinnamon. After the rinse, aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and roasted potato appeared. The first infusion added aromas of brown sugar and violet. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of honey, roasted almond, sweet potato, pear, bread, roasted potato, plum, cream, and butter that were balanced by hints of roasted peanut, black grape, and brown sugar. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of dark chocolate, red apple, molasses, orange zest, lychee, malt, peach, pear, elderflower, and maple syrup to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of roasted peanut and black grape emerged in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, red apple, caramel, rose, dark chocolate, orange zest, lychee, violet, malt, and elderflower. Subtle hints of cinnamon, ginger, earth, molasses, black cherry, black raspberry, peach, elderberry, and maple syrup could also be detected here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, butter, cream, bread, malt, roasted almond, roasted peanut, roasted potato, dark chocolate, caramel, and orange zest that were chased by elusive hints of brown sugar, honey, pear, earth, sweet potato, red apple, lychee, and maple syrup.

This was an interesting and satisfying tea with tremendous poise, depth, and complexity. I greatly admired the harmonious and sophisticated layering of its aromas and flavors and adored the smooth, silky, creamy texture of its liquor. At the same time, I was hoping for a little more longevity and a more dynamic presence in the mouth. I wanted more intensity, but this tea was consistently mellow, relaxed, and gentle. Perhaps my expectations were unfair. I often find myself wanting a little more out of teas from Shan Lin Xi, even those that I find to be very enjoyable, such as this one. Definitely try it if you are looking for an elegant Taiwanese black tea.

Flavors: Almond, Black Raspberry, Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Elderberry, Elderflower, Ginger, Grapes, Honey, Lychee, Malt, Maple Syrup, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Potato, Red Apple, Sweet Potatoes, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

It’s getting late here, but I want to get at least one new tea review posted before I head for bed. This was my most recent sipdown and a tea I had been looking forward to trying for months. After going through several Yunnan, Fujian, and Guangxi silver needles over the course of 2021, I had a couple pouches of Fujian Wild Silver Needle, this one from What-Cha and one from Whispering Pines Tea Company, left to try. Both came from the spring 2021 harvest in Zhenghe, or at least I think that’s the case. I still haven’t tried the version offered by Whispering Pines, but I finished this one off today. My overall impression was that it was a great offering with a fairly unique character compared to the other Fujian silver needles I have tried.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose tea buds in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 20 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds emitted powerful aromas of almond, peanut, hay, straw, and cinnamon. I could tell that this tea was going to offer a different experience immediately. Silver needle white teas usually offer a very gentle dry bud fragrance, but this tea was incredibly aromatic. Looking at the dry buds, they were also smaller and thicker than other teas of this type. After the rinse, I detected strong aromas of kale, peas, broccoli, and cabbage. The first proper infusion then added a somewhat subtler aroma of fresh green bell pepper. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of almond, peanut, hay, straw, green banana, kale, broccoli, snap pea, cabbage, cream, vanilla, and sugarcane that were balanced by subtler impressions of pear, cinnamon, and minerals. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of white pepper, cream, butter, sugarcane, moss, green wood, and green banana to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of minerals came out in the mouth alongside notes of butter, green bell pepper, chili leaf, white grape, moss, green wood, and watermelon rind. An interesting melange of white pepper, white peach, apricot, macadamia, guava, coconut, pineapple, birch bark, orange zest, and honeydew swirled in the background. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to play up clear notes of minerals, hay, cabbage, broccoli, cream, peanut, almond, butter, and green bell pepper that were underscored by lingering moss, straw, orange zest, green banana, white grape, green wood, guava, white peach, apricot, honeydew, and watermelon rind hints.

This was a very unusual tea. It came off as being a little more rustic than other Fujian silver needles, but it also produced an aromatic and satisfying tea liquor of tremendous depth, complexity, and texture. Definitely one for the connoisseurs, this would most certainly not be a tea for beginners or casual drinkers. In the end, this was a very worthwhile tea, but if you haven’t tried at least a couple of different Fujian silver needles, hold off on trying a tea of this type for now.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, banana, Bark, Broccoli, Butter, Cabbage, Chili, Cinnamon, Coconut, Cream, Green Bell Peppers, Green Wood, Guava, Hay, Honeydew, Kale, Macadamia, Mineral, Moss, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Peas, Pepper, Pineapple, Straw, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Watermelon, White Grapes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
TeaEarleGreyHot You are truly blessed to have such exquisite taste buds and the ability to discriminate so many unique flavors! Every time I read one of your reviews I am amazed!

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90

Okay, while I still have the energy, it’s time to post another previously unposted review from 2021. This one I think came from either late summer or early fall, but I have no way of being certain about that. The Old Tree Shui Xian that Old Ways Tea offers each year is usually great stuff, and this 2018 production was another winner.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, earth, blackberry, black cherry, charcoal, bread, and smoke. After the rinse, aromas of tar, ash, mushroom, and roasted peanut emerged. The first infusion added roasted almond and black raspberry fragrances along with hints of rock sugar. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, charcoal, black cherry, roasted peanut, smoke, ash, and tar that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, blackberry, mushroom, bread, and earth. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of pine, tobacco, minerals, orange zest, and roasted barley to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of roasted almond, mushroom, earth, bread, and blackberry emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, tobacco, pine, cream, butter, orange zest, rock sugar, black raspberry, plum, and roasted barley. Hints of red apple, blueberry, grass, fig, and toasted rice could also be detected. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes or minerals, roasted almond, cream, butter, orange zest, and roasted barley that were chased by lingering hints of cinnamon, earth, toasted rice, grass, charcoal, pine, mushroom, roasted peanut, black cherry, and blackberry.

This tea was kind of a typical Old Tree Shui Xian in many ways. It produced a liquor that frequently emphasized sharp mineral texture over aroma or flavor and provided a warming, soothing, subtly invigorating energy. I was a little surprised that it gave out when it did and probably could and should have tried to push it a little harder, but I also kind of appreciated that it did not overstay its welcome. Compared to some of the previous versions offered by Old Ways Tea, this one was very rich and smooth with slightly more pronounced earthy, savory, nutty, vegetal, and roasted characteristics and less fruity and/or floral character. Actually, floral character seemed to be totally absent in this tea, allowing other characteristics to shine through and an even greater emphasis to be placed on the all-important texture of the tea liquor. Though it did not really surprise me in any way, this was a more or less great tea. I have had better Old Tree Shui Xian, but this was still a tremendously enjoyable offering overall.

Flavors: Almond, Ash, Black Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Bread, Butter, Charcoal, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fig, Grass, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar, Tar, Toasted Rice, Tobacco

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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70

This was yet another of my late 2021 sipdowns. At the time I set about giving this tea a fair shake, I had been looking forward to trying it for some time despite being preoccupied with finishing off a number of other teas in my possession. Qi Dan, on its own, can be hit or miss, but as Old Ways Tea handles Rou Gui very well, and Qi Dan is or can be remarkably similar to Rou Gui, I had high expectations for this tea prior to setting about reviewing it. Unfortunately, it was something of a disappointment for me. While it was not a terrible offering by any means, it also did not offer a consistent compelling or enjoyable drinking experience.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minutes 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of bread, cinnamon, pine, black cherry, and blueberry that were underpinned by a subtle smoky scent. After the rinse, I discovered the emergence of roasted almond, rock sugar, and cannabis aromas that were accompanied by a slight charcoal fragrance. The first proper infusion added a subtle orchid, grass, and blackberry presences. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of cinnamon, blueberry, black cherry, charcoal, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of smoke, grass, cannabis, pear, blackberry, roasted peanut, and orchid. The bulk of the subsequent infusions gradually provided fresh aromas of roasted peanut, orange zest, and earth in addition to noticeably stronger grassy scents. More immediately detectable impressions of smoke, blackberry, grass, and roasted peanut emerged in the mouth accompanied by notes of minerals, butter, rock sugar, orange zest, plum, earth, and pine. Roasted walnut and bitter, oily hickory nut notes thrived on the back of the throat. Hints of peach, red grape, and bread could be picked up here and there. As the tea gradually faded, the liquor continued to pound my palate with notes of minerals, orange zest, blueberry, black cherry, roasted almond, and roasted walnut before a mix of subtler impressions of grass, earth, pine, red grape, blackberry, charcoal, rock sugar, bread, plum, and smoke made themselves known.

What an odd tea this was! It was all over the place. It started off seemingly confused and unfocused. The impressions it offered were somewhat scattered and unclear, but then as it quickly evened out, that bitter, nutty, and somewhat odd aftertaste became ever more noticeable. The best sipping this tea offered came towards the end of my drinking session. If this tea had one standout characteristic, it was its clear and consistent minerality, though I would describe the texture of the tea liquor as being slippery and thin, even for a Wuyi oolong. At this point, I know it may seem like I am really slamming this tea hard, but it was not unenjoyable. It had a lot of nice flavor notes. I just wish it had been more consistent and balanced from the start. Overall, this was an okay offering. It jist wasn’t what I was expecting it to be.

Flavors: Almond, Bitter, Blackberry, Blueberry, Bread, Butter, Cannabis, Charcoal, Cherry, Cinnamon, Earth, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Smoke, Sugar, Walnut

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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83
drank Butter Flower by white2tea
1045 tasting notes

This was another sipdown of mine from late last year. I ended up receiving a free sample of this tea with an order from teaware.house. I had no real information on it at the time and still am not certain whether this tea was a 2018 or 2019 production. I found it to be an odd tea with tremendously intense character, though it did not strike me as being unappealing.

As I only had a 5g sample pouch of this tea with which to work, I opted to prepare it gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minutes, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of pomegranate, red wine, blackberry, plum, and black raspberry. After the rinse, new aromas of orchid, candied pomelo, cream, butter, and honeysuckle emerged along with a subtle spinach scent. The first proper infusion added additional aromas of bread and vanilla. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of pomegranate, butter, red wine, sour cherry, blackberry, orchid, and cream that were balanced by hints of bread, black raspberry, black currant, fig, and candied pomelo. The majority of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of violet, peach, sour cherry, and sugarcane in addition to a much stronger candied pomelo fragrance. More dominant notes of bread and candied pomelo emerged alongside impressions of violet, almond, grass, minerals, earth, sugarcane, plum, and nectarine. Hints of honeysuckle, apple, peach, spinach, and vanilla were also present. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, grass, sour cherry, pomegranate, nectarine, butter, and orchid in addition to a stronger peach-like presence. Fleeting hints of almond, plum, spinach, cream, blackberry, bread, candied pomelo, red wine, and sugarcane continued to be detectable in the background.

I don’t normally write extensive concluding notes for teas I review, but I did for this one. The tea had a boozy presence in the mouth and packed a huge caffeine wallop. The energy it provided was almost overpowering at times. The texture of the tea liquor was typically thin and slippery, but it had a habit of shifting unpredictably, creating something of a chaotic presence that kept me on my toes through the entirety of the drinking session. While I respected this tea’s complexity, vigor, and durability, it offered a lot to process. I doubt it would be suitable for beginners or casual drinkers.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Black Currant, Black Raspberry, Blackberry, Bread, Butter, Candy, Cherry, Citrus, Cream, Earth, Fig, Grass, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Nectarine, Orchid, Peach, Plum, Pomegranate, Red Wine, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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91

This was another of my more recent sipdowns. I’m trying to get some reviews of a few teas I drank recently out of the way because my 2022 notebook is falling apart. Each time a page falls out, I prioritize posting whichever reviews are contained on that particular page. I’m sure this notebook would have held up better if my cats didn’t love to wallow it so much. Anyway, this was the most recent Zhangping Shui Xian offered by What-Cha. In general, I find Zhangping Shui Xian to be very hit or miss, but this was a great one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing the 8 gram cake for 10 seconds in 165 fluid ounces of 194 F water, I kicked off the fun part of my drinking session with a 10 second infusion. This initial infusion was chased by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the tea cake emitted aromas of cream, butter, custard, gardenia, violet, bread, and orange blossom. After the rinse, aromas of grass, sugarcane, and vanilla emerged. The first infusion then added a slight lettuce scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up subtle notes of grass, cream, butter, sugarcane, bread, orange blossom, and vanilla that were backed by hints of lilac, lettuce, gardenia, violet, custard, and orange zest. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of orchid, lilac, honey, orange zest, daylily, and apple to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of lettuce, violet, custard, lilac, and orange zest appeared in the mouth alongside notes of apple, pear, plum, cucumber, minerals, daylily, and white grape. I also picked up on extremely pleasant hints of orchid, honey, white peach, apricot, snap peas, daylily shoots, caramel, and butterscotch. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to offer dominant notes of minerals, apple, orange zest, bread, lettuce, grass, cucumber, and sugarcane that were chased by fleeting hints of butter, white grape, plum, violet, daylily, daylily shoots, snap peas, gardenia, lilac, orange blossom, cream, and caramel.

Zhangping Shui Xian can often be gritty, prickly, astringent, and somewhat bitter, but this was a very smooth, elegant offering with tremendous balance. Had I not already known that this was a premium cake, it would have been easy to tell as the quality of the tea leaves used in its production was clearly very high. Normally, tea cakes will be layered so that the highest quality and most intact leaf material is at the top, effectively hiding the lower grade material below it, but that was not the case with this particular cake. It produced very little grit, and most of the leaves seemed to be intact. Overall, this tea was a winner and a wonderful example of what Zhangping Shui Xian tends to offer at its best. I wish I had picked up more than one cake.

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Bread, Butter, Butterscotch, Caramel, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honey, Lettuce, Lilac, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Peas, Plum, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet, White Grapes

Preparation
8 g 165 OZ / 4879 ML
Skysamurai

Wow!!! The flavors!!!

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93
drank Que She (2019) by Old Ways Tea
1045 tasting notes

Now that I once again have some time to get a few more reviews posted, I wanted to start off with one of my more recent sipdowns. I only had a sample pouch of this tea, but it took me forever to get around to drinking it. It was actually the last of the 2018-2019 Old Ways Tea samples that I had clogging up my cupboard, and I think I took so long to get around to trying it because I know very little about Que She. I had only tried one other Que She previously, and it did not strike me as being very good, so I had virtually no expectations of this tea. Well, it turned out to be an excellent offering and a hidden gem among Old Ways Tea’s 2019 product lineup.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was chased by 19 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of charcoal, bread, pomegranate, blackberry, pine, dark chocolate, black cherry, raisin, and prune that were underpinned by a subtle smokiness. After the rinse, aromas of roasted almond, tar, roasted peanut, roasted barley, and toasted rice appeared along with a more pronounced smokiness. The first infusion added a subtle mineral scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered delicate and often elusive notes of charcoal, pine, bread, black cherry, pomegranate, raisin, blackberry, tar, smoke, roasted barley, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of raspberry, dark chocolate, roasted peanut, earth, and roasted walnut. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of blueberry, raspberry, peach, hibiscus, roasted walnut, orange zest, juniper, and grape leaf to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of dark chocolate, earth, roasted peanut, and roasted walnut appeared in the mouth alongside mineral, orange zest, blueberry, rock sugar, red grape, caramel, grape leaf, hibiscus, black currant, and cream flavors. Some hints of toasted rice, peach, prune, juniper, and gooseberry could also be detected at times. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, pine, bread, roasted barley, roasted almond, roasted peanut, roasted walnut, orange zest, grape leaf, earth, and cream, though often ghostly impressions of black cherry, blackberry, red grape, pomegranate, hibiscus, juniper, smoke, tar, black currant, peach, and gooseberry still hung around in the background.

An interesting, challenging, and incredibly complex offering, this Que She was difficult to compare to any other Wuyi oolong I have tried. Though very aromatic and flavorful, it frequently emphasized texture over any of its other attributes, and while many Wuyi oolongs produce a liquor that possesses a very sharp or crisp mouthfeel, this tea produced one that was light, slick, and only slightly prickly. Overall, it had a very coy and playful presence and produced a very subtly invigorating energy. The way this tea balanced its odd blend of aroma and flavor components was also incredibly impressive. At this point, I can only conclude by stating that it was a winner and deserved a chance from me long before I decided to give it one.

Flavors: Almond, Black Currant, Blackberry, Blueberry, Bread, Caramel, Charcoal, Cherry, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Gooseberry, Grapes, Hibiscus, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pine, Pomegranate, Prune, Raisins, Raspberry, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar, Tar, Toasted Rice, Vegetal, Walnut

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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90

It’s after midnight, and I’m somehow still keeping the tea review train rolling. I have no clue when I finished my lone sample pouch of this tea. It was probably either late 2021 or very early this year. After being slightly disappointed by the 2018 Old Tree Black Tea from Old Ways Tea, I was not sure what to expect of the 2019 production. Well, it turned out that this was a noticeably better offering overall.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 5 second rinse, I started my review session by steeping 5 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 20 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of honey, grass, straw, malt, bread, cinnamon, pine, and cedar. After the rinse, I picked up on fresh aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, green wood (oak?), and butter. The first infusion then added a delicate creamy scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, grass, malt, bread, straw, butter, green wood, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of cinnamon, raisin, pine, honey, and sugarcane. The subsequent infusions primarily added aromas of minerals, smoke, raisin, and moss to the tea’s bouquet, though subtler scents of earth and chocolate also made themselves known. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of cinnamon, raisin, pine, honey, and sugarcane emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, roasted peanut, red apple, orange zest, moss, earth, and lemon zest. Hints of caramel, pear, plum, smoke, cedar, and chocolate were present as well. Once the tea started to fade, the liquor began more heavily emphasizing notes of minerals, malt, bread, cream, pine, roasted almond, orange zest, green wood, and sugarcane that were chased by subtle hints of grass, straw, honey, lemon zest, cinnamon, earth, moss, raisin, butter, pear, and caramel.

A very complex and heavily textured black tea with tremendous longevity, this tea was both a challenge and a joy to sample. It retained some of the dryness of the 2018 production, but it offered better texture and depth, coming off as being somewhat more akin to either the 2016 or 2017 offerings. The Masu Old Tree Black Tea is clearly a must-try offering from Old Ways Tea in most years. It’s definitely a regular offering to check out if you are looking for a balanced Wuyi black tea with tons of complexity, depth, and texture.

Flavors: Almond, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grass, Green Wood, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Red Apple, Smoke, Straw, Sugarcane

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

Location

KY

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