133 Tasting Notes
This was a sample in my last Mandala order! I can’t believe it took me this long to try it.
First steep: 1min 30sec
Second steep: 1min 45sec
Third steep: 2min
Wow, this tea is intensely sweet! I usually add a smidge of sugar to my cup but the first steep was almost too sweet to drink. It has a very soft, smooth texture. It’s silky without a hint of astringency. The tea is gently floral, medium bodied, and has the taste of both honey and dark chocolate. There is also the suggestion of fruit but it isn’t fully developed yet. It really emerges in the second steep as a thick, jammy sort of flavor that’s like stone fruit and apricot. Cocoa and roast are the notes that follow. This tea is also earthy in a way that’s herbaceous—not like wood, or leaves, or mushrooms. It leaves a mineral note on my tongue after sipping. There are similarities between this tea and a high quality Keemun, but it lacks the characteristic smoky notes and is more honey/caramel than sweet potato. In my final steep cocoa, roast, and apricot are the dominant notes. There is a delicious syrupy caramel-honey finish that makes my tongue tingle like I’m sipping something carbonated. That completely caught me off guard. I’ve only experienced it maybe once, or twice with different teas. It has an indescribable “bubbliness” to it. Mineral and stone fruits remain in the aftertaste, though my tongue is still tingling. This tea was absolutely delightful! I’ll have to pick some up in my next order.
Flavors: Apricot, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Grain, Herbaceous, Honey, Jam, Mineral, Roasted, Smooth, Stonefruits
This is a solid oolong. I received a sample in my last VT order. While I’ve learned that I generally dislike Wuyi mountain oolong, I went ahead and gave it a try.
First steep: 1min
Second steep: 1min 15sec
Third steep: 1min 30sec
Fourth steep: 3min
It opens with a sweet, nutty, kettle corn flavor that I identify with roasted TGY or Alishan. It’s a bit like toasted rice. There is a light mineral taste and a clean freshness that makes me think of river stones. The reason most Wuyi oolongs turn me off is the overbearing mineral/metallic taste I’ve found in every one that I’ve tried. Rather than being a dominant flavor, here it acts as a subtle middle note. It supports the equally mellow flavor of wood—it reminds me of tree bark. The finish is creamy vanilla and soybean, and it leaves the lingering taste of honeysuckle flowers on my tongue. The second steep has stronger notes of roasted nuts and light woodsmoke. By the third steep the heavier, roasted flavors, minerals, and nuts have receded. It leaves a floral and refreshing liquid that bears faint memories of rice and pine. The finish is clean, though traces of vanilla bean and honey remain. In the last steep there are notes of stone fruit and a playful, tangy, citrus-like tone. Again the finish is clean and it leaves a cooling sensation in the back of the throat. Powdered sugar and crushed flowers follow, but the cooling sensation lingers. Overall this was a very pleasant surprise. Not at all what I expected, and the first time that I’ve sincerely enjoyed a straight oolong in a very long time.
Flavors: Citrus, Creamy, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Nutty, Pine, Powdered sugar, Roasted, Smoke, Soybean, Stonefruits, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Wood
First steep: 2min
Second steep: 3min
The first steep is very fruity and bright with notes of stone fruit, raisins, honey, and a heavy malt/caramel aftertaste. Most of what I taste here is fruit. It’s tart and has this bitter-nut-skin quality to it that’s not overly bitter or unpleasant. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten chestnut or had many things flavored like it, but it reminds me very much of SOT’s Candied Chestnut, so I suppose that’s the flavor I’m having trouble naming. There’s a hint of sourdough as well. The second steep also contains notes of chestnut, honey, and plums, though it is comparatively light. Slight caramel aftertaste, not much in the way of malt or chocolate. I will try the recommended 3:30 steep next time to see if I can coax a deeper and maltier flavor profile.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Chestnut, Dried Fruit, Honey, Malt, Plums, Raisins, Sour, Stonefruits, Tart
I received a small sample of this tea about two years ago, when I received my first order from Verdant. It was the first white tea I can remember ever liking. Up until then my experience had been limited to bagged white tea; flavored, more often than not. (And not flavored in any way that added to the tea.) I picked up a couple of ounces of this last month, although I hadn’t drank it in some time.
This is a review of the 2014 Spring harvest.
First steep: 35sec
Second steep: 55sec
Third steep: 1min 15sec
Fourth steep: 1min 40sec
The first steep is laden with the taste of fresh jasmine, cream, and a hint of banana with a silky texture. It makes me think of vanilla custard. There’s an almost bubblegum candy-like sweetness. In subsequent infusions it develops notes of pine, spice, and honeysuckle. The mouthfeel is thick and the flavors juicy. I don’t enjoy it as much as I expected to. My tastes have changed; I don’t generally prefer light, floral teas. I knew it would be floral because of the jasmine, but in the first couple of steeps it’s nearly all that I taste. Flowers.
I tried brewing it a different way. This time I used 2tsp of leaf, water somewhere between 160-170 degrees, and steeped for five minutes. I much preferred this method. The jasmine isn’t as overwhelmingly strong, and I’m able to pick out notes of cereal, marshmallow, whipped cream, and pastries. The flavors of light banana pudding and pine are also present. It’s like a light, fluffy dessert with buttercream frosting. There’s a thick creamy finish that lingers long after sipping, and it’s paired with the faint flavors of grain and oat—like oatmeal. I might try grandpa style brewing with this tea eventually.
Flavors: Banana, Candy, Creamy, Custard, Frosting, Grain, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Marshmallow, Oats, Pastries, Pine, Spices, Vanilla
Trying out my newly seasoned yixing, which I fear I’m already madly in love with. ;)
So far I’ve brewed:
Ailaoshan Black (Whispering Pines)
Tanyang Gongfu (Nannuoshan)
Heaven’s Trash (Butiki)
Qi Hong Xiang Luo (Nannuoshan)
I cannot get over how delicious everything that I brew in this vessel turns out to be. They are all very very good teas but the yixing imparts a lush, juicy, fullness that I can’t describe. It enhances the natural flavors of the tea and also adds to them. There is a lot of honey because I seasoned it with a combination of Honey Black (Green Terrace), Coonoor Nilgiri (Single Origin), and Laoshan Black (Verdant). Many of the teas I’ve brewed contain elements of grain, malt, stone fruit, cocoa, caramel, and honey…Essentially a combination of all of my favorite flavors. Every cup I’ve brewed has been perfect. I wish I still had thicker, maltier, more chocolatey teas around, but I sipped many of them down in an effort to downsize my cupboard. It will have to wait until my shipments begin arriving. Until then, I’ll be sitting in the corner, clutching my new teapot and making crazy eyes at anyone who gets too close.
Seasoned my first yixing! Yes! It was gifted to me over a year ago by some tea-drinking friends. It took me a year to get over how intimidated I was of using yixing teaware. I believe it was purchased at Teavana, and as I’ve never used a yixing pot before I can’t speak for the quality. It should do just fine. I rinsed it with boiling water several times, then left some of GTT’s Honey Black steeping overnight. Later in the day, I rinsed again with boiling water, then left it in a pot of hot water with some Laoshan Black and SOT’s Coonoor Nilgiri. Waited several hours, then removed it and rinsed with boiling water again. There’s no residual clay smell that I can tell. The maximum capacity is just under 8oz, if I fill it nearly to the brim. I decided to test brew some Ailaoshan Black in this little pot. Maybe I should stick to lighter teas, teas with strong notes of honey and baked bread? I haven’t decided. I might simply use it for my favorite black teas; they share many of the same qualities, though not all.
Anyway, there is an intense honey sweetness to this tea that wasn’t present before. Brewing in the yixing also upped the buttery, baked notes that the tea already had. There’s cocoa and malt but it’s a little subdued. The stone fruit, cherry flavors are also barely present. The finish has a touch of caramel; it’s creamy and full, then it recedes into a more crisp, floral aftertaste. I’m wondering if some of the chocolatey notes are hiding in the yixing somewhere, to reappear later in a different cup, with a different tea.
This was more a record of my first yixing experience than the tea itself. For a better description of the tea, see my other tasting note.
If anyone has advice or opinions about yixing dedicated to black tea, leave a comment. I’ll be happy to hear it!
Finally getting around to reviewing this one. I think it’s from the Marco Polo TTB.
First steep: 1min 45sec
Second steep: 2min
It’s light on the tongue and very floral on the front end. There are notes of apricot, cream, and sweet potato. The finish is honey, honey, and thick delicious honey. Serious honey-mouth. Later steeps develop a tinge of malt. There’s a buttery, bake-y quality to this tea that makes me think of lightly toasted bread or pastries. It’s a good tea, but it’s a tad on the light/floral side for my tastes. I like something a little more robust!
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Cream, Floral, Honey, Malt, Pastries, Sweet Potatoes
First steep: 1min 55sec
Second steep: 2min 45sec
Liquid is a clear, pale yellow. Mineral and stone fruits are at the forefront of each sip; toasted rice, vanilla bean, cream, and flowers on the back end. The second steep developed some really nice, buttery, bread-like flavors that were absent from the first. I suspect that the strong roasted mineral notes were a result of my not watching steep time carefully enough. This is why you don’t use steep time to keep studying for an exam!!! You take a break. The plan was to begin steeping at 1min 15sec, and increase by increments of 20-30sec. Next time I will treat this tea more gently. Thank you very much nannuoshan for the sample.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cream, Floral, Mineral, Roasted, Stonefruits, Toasted Rice, Vanilla
First steep: 1min 30sec
Second steep: 2min
Third steep: 2min 30sec
The color of the infused liquid is a thick reddish gold. This tea is smooth with a lovely honeyed sweetness; grain, malt, and a gentle smoked flavor all dance across my tongue. There’s a tiny hint of cocoa as well as fruit. It’s like longan, or perhaps apricot. Difficult for me to identify. Finish is sweet and a little drying; it reminds me of flowers. Though it isn’t a heavy tea, it’s savory and has a full, syrupy feel on the tongue. With other Keemuns I’ve tried there is at least a little astringency or bitterness. Some have an assertive “brassy” quality to them. Not so with this tea. It’s bold, but gentle. It’s nuanced and perfectly balanced. I can tell that it’s of high quality and I’m very impressed. Thank you nannuoshan.
Flavors: Apricot, Cocoa, Fruity, Grain, Honey, Malt, Smoke, Smooth, Thick, Wood
First steep: 1min 05sec
Second steep: 1min 45sec
Third steep: 2min 30sec
Fourth steep: 3min 30sec
The dry leaf is gorgeous. Dusky, olive toned leaves are interspersed with vibrant green and umber. They’re covered with soft silvery hairs. The aroma of the tea liquor is intoxicatingly fresh, green, and sweet. It’s medium-full bodied with a thick mouthfeel. First infusions contain notes of fresh flowers, vanilla, rice pudding, sourdough bread, and some unnameable “greenness” that is neither vegetal nor fruity. (My first instinct was to say melon, but that’s not quite right.) I’m stumped. The closest approximation would be to say that it’s like taking a walk through the forest in late spring, after the rain. It’s lush and thirst-quenching. In later steeps a subtle spice note emerges and a taste like evergreen trees. It leaves a clean, cooling sensation in my mouth. It’s a delicate tea with flavors that were difficult for me to discern, at first. Not as hearty or “musky” as I expected it to be. I wonder if I should have brewed it differently. I have enough left that I will try a different method next time. As an aged tea it went straight to my head, and I find myself feeling warm, relaxed and a little tipsy. Great tea to end the night with.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cedar, Cream, Flowers, Green, Rice Pudding, Spices, Vanilla