150 Tasting Notes

82

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.

Method:
3tsp/10oz
Pre-boiling
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

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74

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.

Stephanie

I love my yixing too, want another one so bad!

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97

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!

Dexter

congrats on seasoning your new pot :)) I waited forever seasoning my first one too – then quickly added several to the collection. They aren’t as scary once you start using them regularly

kimquat

Thanks! I think my friends may have unwittingly given me a new obsession. I’ve brewed many cups of several different teas, and every one has been a perfect cup. Lush and rich and absolutely delicious. Do you designate your yixing to certain flavor profiles, or more general types of tea? It’s too soon to tell what my preferences would be, but I’m curious.

Dexter

I have one for dark oolongs – but really I mostly drink DHP.
I have one for sheng – I don’t drink a lot of it so that’s fine
I have one for shou – I drink most shou from the pot with no issue
I have one for Special Dark – this pot is larger and I LOVE Special Dark western steeped – I also don’t really want those heavy chocolate notes in my regular shou pot
I have one for blacks – I really only drink Yunnan and Fujian blacks – so I’m not too worried about that (if I was into Darjeeling – I would do that in a separate pot)
I have 3 more that I haven’t seasoned – I think I’m doing to do one for aged sheng…. but I haven’t really gotten into that yet… Probably do another one with just general shou.
I just like them – they are so cute and I like how the tea steeps in them…. :))

kimquat

I agree. And I can definitely see myself getting overly attached to my teaware this way—like each one has its own distinct flavor and personality. They are cute!! I drink mostly Yunnan and Fujian blacks too, so I don’t see it being a big problem. I will probably get several more in the future and season them for different things. And wow, you seem to have a lot of teapots. :P

Dexter

I have a bit of a problem….. I also have 2 glass and a ceramic and a ru kiln and a couple of gaiwans – those are all small for gongfu. I don’t want to talk about cups – :)

Dexter

https://instagram.com/p/wpvh-POE4n/?modal=true
https://instagram.com/p/wpvUVuuE4Q/?modal=true
I’ve bought more since these photos – I’m just hanging head in shame and checking myself into rehab….

kimquat

Can you say “best problem ever”?! I’m so jealous of your collection. Now that I’m past the “MUST TRY ALL OF THE TEAS” phase and comfortably settled into what I know I like, I’m beginning to enter an “I NEED MORE TEAWARE NOW” phase. There is a coffee shop near me that hosts handmade pottery shows/sales every few months. When they have their next sale, you know where I’ll be…

Dexter

Should I admit that I actually started taking a pottery class thinking it would be cheaper to learn to make my own than continuing to buy….. ((LOL it’s NOT – really really hard to make cups – fun but HARD) I’ve bought some amazing pieces locally. Go to the sale and let the addiction begin….
I did that too – stopped buying ALL THE TEA – needed to cupboard reduce so stopped buying tea and just moved right into teaware. Oh well it’s fun and it could be worse…. :)

kimquat

Oh, yeah. Making pottery is not easy. I’m a fine arts student at a university; I’m considering taking a course in Advanced Ceramics next semester so that I can fuel the addiction. All I would make is teaware. And everything I make would probably be off-center, because making pottery is HARD. It’s fun and meditative but wow. There are a couple of people here who are fantastic potters. I’ve considered commissioning a tea set from one of them, but it’s hard to justify the expense. (Though I will probably end up spending loads of money on teaware in the long run, anyway…)

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Finally getting around to reviewing this one. I think it’s from the Marco Polo TTB.

Method:
~2tsp/10oz
Pre-boiling
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

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Method:
2tsp/12oz
Pre-boiling
Rinse: 10sec
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

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92

Method:
~1.5tsp/10oz
Pre-boiling
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

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drank Bai Mu Dan 2008 by Nannuoshan
150 tasting notes

Method:
~2tsp/10oz
Pre-boiling
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

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96
drank Tanyang Gongfu by Nannuoshan
150 tasting notes

Method:
~1.5tsp/10oz
Preboiling
Rinse: 3sec
First steep: 1min 15sec
Second steep: 1min 45sec
Third steep: 2min 30sec

Rinsed for three seconds before steeping. Liquor is a dusky reddish orange and the smell calls to mind grain, malt, cocoa, and cherries. It’s a deliciously bold tea. Not bold enough for breakfast, but perfect for midday. It has a playful fruitiness balanced by light notes of cocoa, malt, bread, and a sweet caramel finish. There are hints of stone fruit. It’s heady, thick, and syrupy. So delicious. SO Delicious. I quickly gulped down my first cup and made another. The second infusion smells strongly of freshly baked sourdough bread, chocolate, and honey. Not very much chocolate or cocoa in this infusion. It’s mostly fruit, honey, and grain with a slightly nutty aftertaste. It’s a tad lighter in body but the finish is still thick and syrupy. Caramel and pudding flavors dominate, coating my tongue. (Drooool.) By the third steep, it’s become noticeably lighter with honey and baked bread being the most prominent flavors. Wow. This tea was a definite win with me! I don’t recall being this impressed the last time I tried a Tan Yang. Thanks very much nannuoshan for the sample of this tea!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Cocoa, Fruity, Grain, Honey, Malt, Nutty, Stonefruits, Sweet, Thick

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Method:
~2tsp/10oz
Pre-boiling
Rinse: 3-5sec
First steep: 1min 45sec
Second steep: 2min
Third steep: 2min 30sec

A quick five second rinse releases the aroma of smoke, stone fruit, and honey into the air. The liquid is a lovely gold, medium bodied and slightly viscous. Wow, is this really a smoked tea? It tastes of sweet honey, stone fruit, and light mineral. It’s dries the tongue just a bit. Faint notes of muscatel are present. The only evidence of a smoke flavor is the taste that lingers behind after swallowing. It’s perhaps more pine wood than smoke, but it’s there. It becomes more obvious as I sip through my cup. In the second cup I notice subtle notes of cocoa with a light caramel/cream finish and a touch of roastiness. The body, again, is light-medium and less viscous than the first cup. The third cup has a stronger caramel flavor, but overall it’s much lighter and starting to weaken. I don’t think it’s a tea I’ll be buying, but it was certainly a lovely one to try. Thanks nannuoshan!

Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Honey, Mineral, Muscatel, Pine, Smoke, Stonefruits, Wood

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drank Dian Yin Zhen by Nannuoshan
150 tasting notes

Since I tried the Yin Zhen first, I have some frame of reference. The dry leaves are much longer and spindly. As Tealizzy put it, they look like a cross between a silver needle and a golden needle Yunnan. They have a mild, perfume-like scent.

Method:
~2tsp/10oz
Pre-boiling
First steep: 2min
Second steep: 2min 30sec
Third steep: 3min 15sec

The liquid is very, very pale and clear. It’s a creamy shade of yellow. The scent is floral with strong notes of oakmoss and spice that sets the back of my throat tingling before I’ve even taken a sip. Evergreen is the first flavor to hit my tongue. It’s very much like the camphor you’ll find in a sheng puerh. The spice gives my tongue a pleasant tingling sensation as the taste melds into a long, sweet creaminess. Immediately following is a flavor that to me is distinctly Yunnan. It’s a thick, syrupy, caramel pudding flavor that seems to stretch on forever. As the tea cools I catch hints of cut wood—pine, maybe—beneath the creaminess. The wood-like flavor grows a bit stronger in the second steep. It leaves a fresh, almost minty feeling in my mouth. Long creamy finish is again present and accented with a juicy fruit flavor that I can’t identify. The final steep features thick, dairy notes at the forefront with earth, evergreen and wood underneath. It’s a very tasty tea! Thanks to nannuoshan for giving me the opportunity to sample this one.

Flavors: Camphor, Caramel, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Milk, Pine, Spices, Wood

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Bio

I am still relatively new to loose leaf, as I have only been drinking it since 2013. I’m amazed at how much my tastes have changed just over the past year. I have met such lovely, kind individuals on Steepster and am so glad to have become a part of this community.

Pure black teas are my favorite. I drink black tea daily and I try to keep a variety on hand. I also enjoy white tea, puerh, and the occasional oolong. Matcha is something that I love though I haven’t tried a large variety. The very good matcha that I’ve had is quite expensive. In general I try to stay away from flavored teas—especially those with artificial flavorings—but I will make rare exceptions, and I do enjoy a well crafted blend of straight teas. Things I (usually) don’t like: green oolongs, rooibos, straight green teas.

Rating System
90+ The very best! Teas that I always need in my cupboard!
85-89 Teas that I enjoy immensely and will try to keep around.
80-84 Makes a very pleasing cup. I will enjoy drinking them, but won’t necessarily try to keep around. (There are exceptions.)
70-79 Decent, but could be better.
60-69 Mediocre.
40-59 Gross. I might still try to finish the cup.
39 & under Undrinkable. I probably dumped this cup. Depending on the specific rating, I probably threw the rest of the tea out as well.

Some of my favorite tea companies are:
-Whispering Pines Tea Co.
-Verdant Tea
-Mandala Tea

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