165 Tasting Notes
Watching this tea bloom was a feast for the eyes. Using boiling water, the bulb slowly bounces around the vessel for a bit before gracefully sinking to the bottom to allow the beautiful flower structure to fully unfurl. It’s pretty tall so you want to use a large enough glass or teapot.
The flowers here are supposed to be amaranth and jasmine. I couldn’t taste the jasmine at all, but the amaranth dominated. The flavor of this tea is sweet, nectary, and honey like. There’s no bitterness to speak of even at boiling, a problem I’ve had with other blooming teas. But I didn’t really care for the resin like taste of the amaranth.
Flavors: Flowers, Honey, Nectar
I had a rough time with this tea. For starters, it was very finicky. Brewed as sencha, it’s bitter with an unpleasant vegetal aftertaste. The flavor improved slightly when I doubled the leaf quantity and steeped in the manner of gyokuro (i.e., lower temperature, slightly longer steep). About 140F/90s worked for me.
The first steep is umami rich and has an assertive vegetal character. There’ some astringency at the end which is pleasant enough. The second steep I brewed like sencha for 1m at 160F and got a more sencha like flavor, grassy and less umami. However, there was a sulfur like bitterness as it went down. Not very enjoyable The third steep was flat and bitter.
Overall, this gyokuro is decidedly less sweet and more umami focused, which is fine but the harsh, persistent bitterness just doesn’t do it for me.
Flavors: Bitter, Broccoli, Grass, Umami
This tea has an amazing, candy-like smell. If I were blindfolded and you told me I was sniffing a Junior Mint candy, I would probably have believed you. The rooibos, mint, and chamomile really work well in this blend and you can taste all three. There’s also a nice hint of vanilla. Mint is definitely the forward flavor here. Although I love all things mint, after a few sips it became too intense and medicinal.
All in all, a good easy sipping, night time herbal. Nice tea if you’re looking for something candy like without sugar.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mint, Vanilla
The winter harvest of this tea is my favorite baozhong ever but I was less enthralled by the spring harvest. This one has some nice pastoral notes and light florals but lacks the heady flowers and nectary sweetness of last season’s tea. The body is heavier and on the vegetal side. It’s not a bad tea, just doesn’t really set itself apart from regular grade Baozhong .
Flavors: Flowers, Vegetables
I’m surprised Shibi tea has managed to fly under the radar for so long. IMO, this is one of the most underrated Taiwanese oolongs out there. It encompasses the flavor characteristics of some of the best high mountain teas.
The scent of the wet tea leaves is floral with subtle notes of coconut and tropical fruit. The first couple of infusions are quite light and merely tease your tongue with hints of flavor. Around the 3rd/4th steeps is where the tea really begins to show its stuff. A creamy body rich with flowery nectar, stonefruits, apple, and a hint of coconut in the finish.
I tried this alongside the spring harvest, and enjoyed the fuller, more luscious flavor of the winter crop. In fact, I’m finding myself preferring the winter harvest for Taiwanese tea in general for the clean and smooth taste.
Flavors: Apple, Flowers, Nectar, Tropical
I finished off this tea 3 weeks ago and still can’t stop thinking about how good it was. This is an elegant oolong, light but full of subtlety and depth. The dry leaf smells flowery and bright. Strong notes of hyacinth waft out from the wet leaves in the teapot. The tea itself is a delicious medley of lychee like fruitiness, flowers, and mineral sweetness leaving behind a long lasting aftertaste. There’s are undertones of tart citrus and lingering balsamic notes. The taste is fresh, clean, and delicate. I enjoyed how the flavor changes with every sip of this tea. Definitely a tea you need to sit down and pay attention to in order to fully appreciate it.
Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Lychee
Tried this tea today after I had a tea emergency at work. My stash ran out and the only thing left in my work tea drawer was a sample tea bag of this. This tea is just…meh. It had that fake citrus kitchen cleaner aroma – not very inviting. The brewed tea had a strong, slightly tart citrus flavor which competes with the smokey green tea base. The citrus is overpowering at first but tames down a bit as the tea cools.
Once more I’m reminded of why I’m drawn to straight and mildly flavored teas. The aggressive flavoring combined with low grade tea kills it for me. If you want citrus you’re better off just brewing your favorite green tea and adding a squeeze of lemon or lime to it.
Flavors: Bitter, Lemon, Lime, Smoke
This is a tasty, serviceable Japanese green tea with a lighter flavor than regular sencha. There’s less grassiness here and more of a smooth vegetal flavor. The color of the tea liquor is a pale yellowish green and the tea leaves are large and flat.
I like more greenness in my sencha so I steeped it a tad longer and at slightly higher temperatures. I usually steep sencha around 160 F but I got better results at 175 F with steep times of 1:10, 0:30, and 1:30. This produced a richer tea and boosted the umami and chlorophyll content in the taste.
Sadly, this tea didn’t survive fridge storage and developed an unpleasant vegetal bitterness forcing me to chuck my entire stash.
While good, this tea and most of what I’ve tried from Yunomi seems to lack the oomph of other Japanese greens. I suspect the lack of vacuum packaging causes some loss of freshness.
Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetable Broth
Bleh. Another Adagio tea bites the dust. At this point I’m something like 0/24 with Adagio flavored teas and should know better, but they are 5 mins from my house and generous with samples so I keep trying them.
This one smelled promising. The dry leaf had a warm aroma of vanilla bean and wood and it brews into a beautiful deep red color. But the taste of the brewed tea is another story. The vanilla flavor really knocks you over the head, overpowering the rooibos. After a few sips, I felt as if I were drinking a bottle of vanilla extract. There is a little spice in there too but none of the other flavor notes are decernible because the vanilla dominates. Perhaps a splash of almond milk might make this is a little more palatable.
Flavors: Vanilla, Wood
I did a big oolong order from Yunnan Sourcing recently and this was the best tea of the bunch. A bit surprising because I’ve struggled with dan congs before and normally shy away from roasted teas.
The roasting on this tea though is subtle and accentuates its honey and fruity flavor. I’m still fine-tuning the brewing, but my experience with it has been amazing. The natural sweetness of this tea is unreal – hard to believe it has no added sweetener. The honey flavor is thick, coating your entire mouth and then finishes with a nice mineral touch. I’m not getting any of the floral flavor that others described. Occasionally, it hits you with a stunning peach flavor that’ll make you swear you were drinking a flavored tea. At present I can only coax it out by cold-steeping the half-spent leaves. I’m sure there’s a way to hot steep it to get even more peach out of it. Currently I’m doing flash steeps with boiling water which works okay. May need to experiment with lower temperatures.
This one makes an awesome cold brew and I can see this being a perennial buy.
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Peach, Roasted nuts, Sweet