22 Tasting Notes
I got up very early this morning so that I’d have plenty of time for making tea before I have to leave for work – because in the past few days I’ve had tons of parcels and packages arriving from China.
The appearance of this is wonderful – loads of bright yellow buds among dark brown, soft leaves. It doesn’t have a strong scent, but it has a fine and very muted one – of hay and a hint of sweet roastedness.
5g in a 90ml gaiwan for 30-60 seconds with off-the-boil water – about 90C. It has a very mild and mellow taste, with a nice astringent kick. My first impression of this is that it’s not strong enough for my preference, but I do like the roundedness of this one, so I think I might try adjusting the amount of tea and steeping time to see if I can get a little more depth to the taste.
The wet leaf of this has an amazing scent, and the brewed tea liquor tastes high and sweet with a caramel note, and a lovely malty taste and smell. It’s a mild tasting black tea, but has a lot of flavour in there – with hints of roast sweet potato, malt and honey. I’ll enjoy this as a nice, sweet, easy-drinking afternoon tea.
I used about 5g in a small gaiwan, using near-boiling water for 30-60s.
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
I found a couple of unopened sample packs of Dragon Pearls in one of my tea tins. The weather’s turned icy today where I am, and it’s just about perfect for black teas and oolongs, but I’m almost out of all my autumn and winter teas. So I’ve been brewing these pearls up and trying to decide what to make of them.
The dry tea is gorgeous – tightly made pearls with a scent of chocolate, fresh bread, malt, and a hint of new leather. I like to steep about 4 pearls in about 200-250ml water for quite a long time; 5 minutes or more, and add a very small splash of milk to temper the slight astringency from the long steep time, and to enhance the chocolate and malt notes.
And it’s delicious – sweet and light with a mildly floral and honey aftertaste, but I feel like I’m missing the dark and mature, black-tea-taste.
Really didn’t like this tea – I bought a few teabagged black teas because I’ve run very low on loose-leaf black teas and I won’t get my latest orders for a couple of weeks, but this one was a mistake.
It tastes and smells to me very strongly of bonfire smoke, and very faintly of fish. The underlying tea-taste is too watery and disappointing.
I’ve been too busy lately to take time for much tea beyond mass-market teabags, but I had a couple of hours free today, so I thought I’d spend the afternoon with this one.
The dry leaves, when I first opened the pack, gave a little dry-forest-floor burst of scent, and after rinsing, the wet leaves smell very strongly of damp trees and wood, and old, smoky leather.
The first steep of this after rinsing a couple of times tasted a bit flat, and a clay-taste overwhelmed the other tones, but from the second steep darker, leather and loam comes through and turns it into a whole other kind of drink, with an aftertaste like sweet butter. From the fourth steep, the taste becomes very strong, and there’s a thickness to the aftertaste – almost like the thickness after eating chocolate; there’s no cocoa taste, exactly, it’s more of a satisfying feeling of ‘fullness’. The later steeps became very light and sweet.
I got a nice, sleepy little buzz from drinking this all afternoon – I’ve had that once or twice from drinking puerhs, but only very occasionally; all in all, it’s a nice and long-lasting tea (through about 8-10 short 20s-1m steeps) for a lazy afternoon.
Flavors: Butter, Forest Floor, Leather, Loam, Sweet, Wet Wood
I’ve had this a few times now, and I like it more and more every time. It has a thick, almost creamy mouthfeel, scents and tastes of aged leather, pipe tobacco and woodsmoke, and a salty-sweet aftertaste.
This afternoon, I’m steeping it in a gaiwan with about 100ml boiling water for 10-40s a time, and for me that brings out its best – not too strong but with all its aromas and tastes intact.
I’ll definitely be buying a cake of this for my winter stock-up.
Flavors: Leather, Salty, Smoke, Sweet, Wet Earth, Wood
I’ve been drinking this with my mum over the last couple of days, and she found it very nice, quite light, and calming.
I didn’t enjoy it as much, but I’m not sure why – it has a lovely earthy-leather scent, and the early steeps were nicely sweet – a little syrup-ish (in a nice, caramel way). It wasn’t too overpowering (very strong puerhs aren’t to my taste much), but it didn’t quite come together for me; the shous I’ve enjoyed the most have a woody or woodsmoke undertone, so maybe I’m just missing that darker note.
Flavors: Caramel, Earth, Leather, Maple Syrup
Brewed according to the instructions on the package…
Probably like most people, I don’t read the brewing instruction manual on my tea packets, and in the ordinary way of things, I brew 5g of everything with 100-200ml water, adjusting the amount until I find equilibrium.
But since I’m currently well-stocked with 200g of Bailin Gongfu – my favourite black tea – I thought I’d give the instructions a try.
The instructions on the ziplock bag the tea comes in are 2 tablespoons of tea leaves, to 17oz water. By UK measurements, that’s 30g of tea and a gnat’s under 500ml water.
OK, I compromised, and used 1 tablespoon – 15g – and 250ml water.
It was delicious. Malty, delicious, wonderful, floral and just … the best tea I’ve ever had. Like Bailin Gongfu Plus. Super Bailin Gongfu. The Breaking Bad of Bailin Gongfu.
‘course, I then spotted the instructions on the website, which are subtly different to the ones on the package. On the website, it recommends for western-style brewing: “2 tablespoons/6 grams”. So I’m guessing the tablespoons thing is a typo for 2 teaspoons, unless Chinese or US tablespoons are very, very different from mine.
But I have to admit that if I were rich as Croesus, I’d drink it like this all the time.
Flavors: Floral, Malt, Tea