52 Tasting Notes
Whew! It seems like forever since I posted a review. Time to get back in the saddle and the Oriental Beauty from Tea Ave seems like a good place to start. Tea Ave specializes in Taiwanese oolongs and this may be the best of their offerings. The leaf aroma is of fresh grass and the flavor over several steeps follows a perfect arc (I started at :30 and added :15 for each subsequent steep). The first smells rich and slightly sweet; the flavor is a bit watery but has a long finish and hits those glands at the back of the tongue. The second steep smells and tastes notably more honey-like, but with a slightly shorter finish. The third steep has a rich and soft mouth feel with more honey flavor up front and less in back. The flavor arc heads down after that, getting progressively drier on the tongue and less sweet. Tea Ave’s hype says that you can get up to ten steeps, but I found it pretty tapped out after six. Still, six steeps of lovely, sweet, lightly roasted oolong is nothing to sneeze at. I got this as a sample and I’ll definitely be ordering more.
Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Honey
I don’t have a lot to say about this tea except that it’s nicely balanced and extracts a lot of flavor in short steeps (15/25/35). The flavor was peachy sweet, but not too, balanced with just a bit of smoke. It was entertaining to watch the liquor go from reddish gold to dark, then darker orange.
Flavors: Peach, Smoke
I had high hopes for this tea that were not realized. The wet leaves were nice and earthy, redolent of warm spinach, and that first steep was pleasant, but clearly not developed. It woke up a bit more in the second steep, but still nothing to write home about. The mouth feel softened somewhat in the third steep, but there was still not much there. Either I underleafed or this is a very subtle oolong. Worth another try, but it didn’t do much for me. Hey, they can’t all be fabulous.
I didn’t know what to expect from this because I could have sworn that the dry leaves smelled a bit of rubber along with the floral. Each steep was pretty distinct. First had a mild astringency, soft mouth feel, and tasted a bit of almond husks. Second was soft and warming, but no nut or much of any other strong flavor. The nuttiness came back a very little bit in the third steep and there was an aroma of clean laundry. I was not blown away by the overall taste – it was not as nutty as I might have expected – but I have to say that the chachi was lovely after the second cup. I felt calm, full, and relaxed, and it made me sit up straight and smile.
Flavors: Almond, Lemon
In additon to tasty homework for my tea sommelier class, I’ve been tasting lots of other new teas, but have not had time to write them up. I’ll try to catch up over the next couple of days, starting with this absolutely delightful Taiwanese oolong that came as a sample from Tea Ave. Wow, what a brew! I only regret that it took me this long to try it. The first steep smelled nutty and spinachy, but the flavor was dry, a bit floral, and kind of citrusy. By the third (1 min) steep, it had really come into its own: rich, dry, still citrus, but also with honeysuckle. That citrus kept going and going and going until I lost track of how many steeps I’d done (I started at 30s and added 15s each steep). There were at least eight and it was not tapped out. Sample not enough – need more of this deliciousness.
Flavors: Honeysuckle, Nutty, Spinach
This seems like pretty quintessential Golden Monkey. It’s got the dry scent of clean forest floor with malt overtones. The wet leaves are even maltier, but the steep is more sweet than malt. Go figure. The monkey has always been a house fave and this one fits right in. Yum.
Flavors: Malt, Sweet
How lovely! This one made me sit up and smile. The dry nose caught my attention right away with its deep keeemun richness. The flavor has a firm base, with definite malt, but balanced with a lighter, slightly sweet topnote. Definitely a keeper.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt
I’m not sure whose “choisest” this is, but it doesn’t seem like mainline oolong to me. The first steep had a bit of that oolong nuttiness, but not the creamy texture I look for and it was sweeter than I expected. It got even sweeter on the second steep, and by the end of the third, it was fading. I’m glad I got a sample size so I could try another variant on oolong, but I won’t be ordering more.
Flavors: Nutty, Sweet
Someone spent a lot of time tearing up these leaves into small chunks. The result is a honey gold liquor with a smooth lightly sweet tea. Not full bodies, but still reasonably satisfying. I wouldn’t drink this to get me fired up in the morning, but it’s satisfying to come home to when relaxing at the end of the day.
Flavors: Smooth, Sweet
Every time I offer someone yellow tea, I get the same reaction, “I don’t taste much” or “This tastes like water.” Yeah, ok, so yellows are pretty subtle, but that’s what I find appealing about them. Sometimes. The wet leaves on this one are a bit nutty, almost like warm cookies. Subtle, yes, but cozy. By the second steep, the leaves were bright and pretty. They looked like what they are: pretty much unadulterated tea. The taste was already drying out, but still tasty in that low-key yellow way. This doesn’t stand out, but it’s nice if you want a quiet, smooth tea.
Flavors: Cookie, Nutty