67 Tasting Notes
I recently got a glass gaiwan which at first seemed something that I would use often but at first try I noticed that it’s hard to handle as its rim doesn’t fold outwards like with my other porcelain ones. Nevertheles, I use it every now and then, especially when I have a beatiful leaf to look at while steeping.
This Long Jing is a beauty, the leaves are more wholesome than any other I’ve had so far and the smell or roasted chestnut is amazing. Since my glass gaiwan is 4 Oz in volume i used a whole 5gr sample bag to prepare it according to Teavivre’s instruction, and after a first rinse just by the quick sniff I was sure that this wasn’t an ordinary Dragon Well.
Quick first steep brought out clear and bright emerald tone, and the first sip revealed medium body with initially rich and tad bitter vegetal note of squash and finished off with toasted chestnut. Lingering aftertaste is very savoury.
Second infusion was fuller and richer in taste, and vegetal note was especially prominent. After a few sips I got a certain ‘umami’ feel to this tea. Most pleasant.
Third infusion was particularly sweet and nutty, it’s amazing how the taste evolves with each steep.
Fourth steep showed that the tea was starting to lose its potency but the nutty component was still delivering like in previous three.
Fifth steep was a nice epilogue of mild nutty notes paired with prominent minty element.
To summarize this tasting note, this is the best Dragon Well I have had so far.
Flavors: Chestnut, Mint, Roasted nuts, Squash Blossom, Sweet, Vegetal
Tie Guan Yin is one of those teas that are getting increasing popularity in the west, but when it comes to me I drink it seldom. The reason why I ordered this tea is that I wanted to compare it to the Taiwanese version of the same grade, labeled Monkey picked. I heard stories that monkeys were trained in the past to pick the hardly accessible leaves for this tea but more rational approach suggests that it was a metaphor superior leaf material that distinguishes it from an average.
As I’m nearly finishing a pouch of this tea I learned that I like it prepared in a small porcelain teapot the most. I use about 4 grams and 180-200ml and steep it in 2min-1min-2min fashion. The infusion has a bright green tone with slightly warm (close to toasted) aroma at the top with bright flowery notes. First infusion is refreshing, mildly grassy and ends with toasty goodness. As the tea cools down the flowery element gets more prominent and almost to the point of being rough, also I get a long moist sensation in mouth as I finish the cup.
Second cup is more balanced as flowery note loses its domination and for a short period between the sips I could sense a crisp sweetness lingering in the back.
Third cup if more floral than the previous but the sweetness is persistent. I can sense some buttery hints in the background if I focus a little bit.
A very nice tea, refreshing, quenching but a bit too flowery for my taste. I enjoy the Taiwanese version more but I wouldn’t mind having this one every now and then.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Sweet, Toasty
I don’t usually drink light-tasting teas, but Huang Shan Mao Feng is one of my favourites during the hot summer days. What’s really amazing about this particular tea
is that it can be steeped many times before loosing all its flavour. I remember tasting this tea for the first time back in 2011 when Teavivre was starting and Angel contacted me on Steepster and offered to send me a sample of this tea along with three others.
Since then I haven’t had any of this tea from Teavivre and I took the opportunity to get it in a limited offer in April.
Upon opening a sample bag an intensive fresh spring peas aroma was revealed and what I noticed with this tea is that it has a somewhat curly leaf shape compared to 2011 harvest which had voluminous leaves as well but more of a straight shape. As the sample contained 4gr of leaf, an exact amount for Gongfu method, I decided to steep it in gaiwan with the instructions at Teavivre’s site. I was a bit boggled by that it’s only a three steep show but I guess it’s for a reason.
Upon rinsing the leaves I savoured the fresh vegetal aroma for a while before steeping it for 30 seconds. Moments after I got a very light emerald tone liquor, which is typical for this kind of green tea. First sip revealed light but rich taste of steamed peas followed with sugary note that lingered in the throat for a while. Second sip brought out a light flowery too as well and some tingling on the tongue moments after as well.
Second infusion introduced additional note of stone fruits with moist, juicy sensation in mouth that was briefly put to an end with herbaceous finish. Very thirst quenching.
With the last infusion I noticed some dryness and general absence of vegetal element with floral component leading through with a tad of sweetness. With last, cooled sips I savored some stone fruit notes and I realized that there was no place for a fourth steep.
Very pleasing experience, I only wish it lasted a bit longer.
Flavors: Herbaceous, Peas, Stonefruits, Sweet
I’m an avid black tea drinker. I know there are many kinds of tea out there that asked to be tasted but i tend to stick more with black tea than any other. The reason for that is that I like full-bodied tastes, but at the same time I dislike the bitter elements in black teas. Now when I think about it, I prefer bitter elements in green teas, it’s funny actually.
That’s why I’d rather have a cup of Chinese black tea than Indian and the ones from Yunnan are my favourite.
Dian Hong is my cup of morning tea, and I’ve been through at least 400 gr of this one in particular (through 2012 and 2013 harvests) and I find it to have very good quality/price ratio. This tea brews an average impression with Gongfu preparation style (Full-leaf and Golden tip grades prove much better this way) but it really shines with western preparation method. I normally use 3 gr with my 250 teapot and steep if for 4 minutes and boiling water.
The infusion comes out in the cup with deep red-brown tone and aroma of molasses and faint citrus at the top. The taste is full and deep, rich note of molasses is touched by a slight sweetness and are finished with a light notes of citrus and freshness. After a few sips I might have a slight stiffening sensation in the throat (I never figured out why this happens to me with some teas), and peppery element slowly sets in and rests at the tongue along with a smooth coating. What I like with this particular tea is that it doesn’t get bitter easily. Actually, that could be said for greater part of Chinese black teas, Keemun is a perfect example of this.
Since this is a review based on 2013 harvest I’m anticipating on trying the 2014 one, which I really hope to be closer to 2012 one which had more buds and more prominent citrus-sweet note.
Flavors: Citrus, Molasses, Orange Zest, Sweet
On a hot summer day there are few teas that I can quench my thirst with. On the light bodied side there’s Huang Shan Mao Feng, and on the more intensive side there’s Xin Yang Mao Jian. Mao Jian has an interesting leaf for a green tea – it’s needle shaped with dark green tone and abundant white buds which makes leaves stick to each other easily.
Although I enjoy this tea most of a time in tall glass style during my working hours, for the sake of tasting I prepared it in a western teapot fashion. According to the instructions I used 4 gr with my 250ml glass teapot and steeped for 4 minutes at 85 Celsius.
What I got was a bright golden-green infusion with deep vegetable elements lingering at the top along with some smokey notes which brings out a clear association with Lapsang Souchong. First sip presents itself with somewhat brisk medium body, smokey element in the middle and sweetish finish. Both smokey and sweet notes linger in the back for some time. Following sips bring out the complete picture of this tea with prominent spinach-eggplant vegetable note and a slight salty-like sensation combined with a touch of vegetable bitterness. The tea itself quenches thirst and has a good palate cleansing property.
What’s especially noticeable with this tea is that it keeps its characteristics (barely evolves) as it cools down.
I got this tea on pre-order at a bargain price, now I wish I got more.
Flavors: Pine, Smoke, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
I was going to try and make this one in a gaiwan but I got a last minute notice that prevented me from that and instead I did a single long steep in a 250ml teapot. What’s interesting with this ‘mini’ type of pressed Pu Erh is that it’s really convenient for trips and I use that advantage to the fullest. The disadvantage with this type of Pu Erh is that the leaf is coarsly broken (I’ve seen the fragments from few millimeters to an centimeter or two) which in return results in less steeps and sometimes more bitter taste than the usual pressed ripe Pu Erh.
A good part of these ‘mini’ Pu Erhs are pressed really hard and it takes some time for the leaf to expand and release its active components, but this particular one did it in a minute or so. I wanted to strain it to the cup at that moment but I really didn’t have time to steep the leaves again since I was in a hurry. After five minutes of steeping I got a deep black infusion with brown-red rim and a wet clay-like note at the top mixed with molasses. The first sip revealed a full body with a freshness and element of clay. The finish is more complex with notes of orchid and molasses. As the liquor cools down the elements are getting harmonized and there’s a certain smooth and oily feel in the mouth and lips (actual oil from the leaf, I guess). At this point the aftertaste gets a minty element to it as well. What’s really nice about this tea that it doesn’t develop bitterness or briskness that’s present in some of the ‘mini’ types of Pu Erh.
All in all, very nice and balanced tea for its ‘kind’, the only potential turn away is that it has a certain clay accent that some people don’t like.
Flavors: Clay, Mint, Molasses, Orchid
I haven’t had any tangerine-stuffed Pu Erh since 2013 New Year’s Eve. I remember getting questions by my friends in a “what in earth is that” fashion but as I explained them how the tea got inside the tangerine they gladly accepted to try it. Some expected full flavour of tangerine, but in the end everyone was at least glad to have tried it.
About two months ago I saw this tea introduced at Teavivre and I didn’t wait long to order a sample along with some other recently introduced teas. I got this Pu Erh with some broken tangerine peel and it was quite unusual to me that the label said ‘steep 6 to 8 minutes’. My guess was that it’s meant for western-style steeping, in a large tea pot. I used one sample bag (10 gr) with my 250ml borosilicate glass teapot and set timer for 6 minutes.
First steep had a really deep black tone to it (due to 6-minute steep) with red-brown rim in my white porcelain cup. At the top there was a certain herbaceous, thyme-like note. With first sip I got a mild sweetness head on, which soon dissipated and morphed into very thick and mouthful molassy sensation with tad bitter end. Not long after swallowing the sweetness reemerge and sits for a short period. After a few sips the senses get acquainted with the bitter element which blends in with the rest and gets almost unnoticeable. Tangerine element is present, blends in very nice but can’t catch up with the rest when it comes to intensity.
As the brew cooled down I noticed more of freshness along with minty aftertaste, and what makes this tea uncommon when it comes to Pu Erh is that it didn’t had any elements associated to earth or dirt, but wood.
Second infusion (8 minutes) came out a bit weaker but with more balanced elements – tangerine was more prominent and minty aftertaste was ever-present.
In conclusion, a very good tea for it’s type (Tangerine-stuffed Pu Erh), which can get pricey and fishy in taste depending of where you get it (this one wasn’t).
Flavors: Citrus, Mint, Molasses, Sweet, Thyme, Wood
Leaf: 6 gr
Porcelain teapot 180 ml
Infusions: Rinse – 30s – 45s – 65s – 90s – 120s – 180s
Dry leaf – The leaf is unevenly and spontaneously curled with brown tones that remind of the withered autumn leaves. Some long and woodsy stems catch the attention of the eye. In this heap I sniffed subtle notes of flowers and something close to cocoa.
Wet leaf – Wet leaf bears a darker shade of red clay, reminding more of Sun Moon Lake black tea than the Oolong. Leaves are pretty much intact and almost leathery. Final sniff reveals mild notes of apples and cocoa.
Infusion I (30s) – Bright amber tone with rich aromas of baked apple, vanilla and cocoa on the surface. It sits easy in the mouth with the freshness that leans toward fruity acidity type and ends up in a mild sweetness in the throat. After a few sips in the middle of the smoothness is revealed with flowery and honey notes develop with additional sips.
Infusion II (45s) – Aside from the notes that followed from the first steep there’s a certain bake-y touch present in the cup. The mouthfeel is a bit fuller, sweeter and notes more pronounced notes of honey and smoothness. As the liquor cools an interesting development occurs as there’s even more smoothness in the mouth that moves in the front and give even a sticky sensation on lips. Immediately after swallowing notes of apple pits and vanilla came to presence and mingle with other elements, allowing to be savored for a long time.
Infusion III (65s) – Pronounced fruity touch of freshness and acidity like followed from the previous infusion.
Infusion IV (90s) – The fourth infusion came to be unexpected and quite a surprise as it balanced between the first and second infusion.
Infusion V (120s) – Prominent freshness, starting to notice a decline in taste and aroma.
Infusion VI (180s) – Liquor goes further into decline with some accent to long lasting silky smoothness on the tongue.
Cold Brewed: 7 gr and 750ml in the refrigerator for about 7 hours
Initially has an intensive peach aroma that fades out after few sips and rest on the palate in subtle manner. It has a medium body with strong vegetable notes (peas mostly) with a refreshing dry and bitter edge.
Adding German rock sugar (brown)
When sweetened, peach component is pronounced more and strong vegetable body is mellowed out while the dry edge persists. A good impression of bottled peach flavored iced tea (minus the bad stuff you get with it)… I like it.
I’m not going to rate this tea until I taste it in a classic way.
A month ago or so, Fong Mong Tea offered a free sample of this year’s pick of this tea on their Facebook page. It was a really pleasant surprise when I saw that I got three more samples so I spent that weekend (and the next one) in tasting them.
For you that don’t know about Fong Mong Tea, it’s a eBay seller of Taiwanese teas, ranging from 150 gr to 600 gr pack.
I borrowed a nice Canon DSLR for that weekend as I planned to spend that weekend in tea tasting and taking some nice pictures for a change (I usually use my phone camera for that. See my blog – link at the bottom).
I didn’t hesitate but emptied the whole sample bag (6 grams) in 3 Oz gaiwan, and poured 85-90C water over it. Prior to that I took a short glance at the dry leaf, it was big for an average Taiwanese rolled oolong, with some woody stalks attached to them. The initial aroma of the dry leaf is subtle fresh with grassy-herbaceous elements, and after blowing some hot air additional milky and buttery notes are revealed with a warm background.
After a short rinse I started with 45s steep, followed by 60s, 75s, 90s, 105s, 120s.
My current experience with Jin Xuan Oolongs is that they bear a nice milky element, and this one has a decent amount of it, not too much of it to be taken as ‘milky’ but not too little either. Flowery note is dominant in this cup, being present all the way as the liquor enters, slides and finishes, it even has a little bite at the tip of the tongue (pretty unusual for a flowery component). Finish is characterized with warm milky-buttery coat and some vegetable notes. The liquor has a bright jade green tone.
Following steeps show immediate decline of flowery element, leaving room for vegetable elements to take over, milky notes are still there but are better pronounced when liquor cools down a bit. Along the way there can be sensed a certain etheric component lingering in the background and getting more pronounced in the second half of the session.
Wet leaf is pretty much wholesome with a long stalk with up to four leaves attached, including some buds as well. Notes of old peas (dried, stored, then boiled) air of the olive green heap with a slight freshness wrapped around it.