183 Tasting Notes

87

This really does resemble a Laoshan green tea in its taste, color, and aroma. To the unacquainted, it might be difficult to tell that this is an herbal…it tastes more like camellia sinensis than any other herbal tea I’ve ever had.

Since I only had a 5g sample, I decided to steep this western style and it worked out well. This is a pretty potent tea. Steeping 1g in a 150ml gaiwan for 1 minute produced a rich brew with a thick liquor, deep green moss color, and fruitiness reminiscent of bi lo chun. As it goes down there’s a mix of soft, oat like nuttiness and lentils.

I am impressed by the longevity of this tea especially considering the small amount of leaf used. The flavor remains strong after many steeps. I quit after the 5th steep but the tea still had a lot left to give.

Worth checking out if you’re a fan of green tea seeking a caffeine-free alternative.

Flavors: Fruity, Grain, Nuts

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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76

My first O-Cha order in a long time. O-Cha used to be my go-to online tea shop back in the day when I started drinking tea. As other tea stores sprang up, I eventually moved on. Still I have an affinity towards them and wanted to see how they stack up against Yunomi and Yuuki-Cha, my current favorite stores for Japanese tea.

When I opened the bag, I was surprised at the amount of broken and crushed leaves which resembled matcha more than sencha. It also meant more sediment in the cup than usual. The tea leaves in a warm gaiwan were fragrant with a deep, enticing aroma of fresh cut grass and spinach.

First steep was for 1 minute at 165 F. Pale green liquor. The flavor was buttery, slightly vegetal, and grassy. Pretty standard sencha taste.

Second steep was 30s at around 170 F. Grassy with a bit of astringency.

3rd and 4th steeps were 1:15 and 1:45 respectively using 175 F water. Flavor mostly faded, harsh bitterness.

I found this to be a very average tasting green tea. There’s some grassiness to it and that’s about it. It doesn’t have the depth and character of high grade senchas. It also doesn’t resteep well. The second infusion was ok, and the ones that followed were pretty terrible.

Flavors: Bitter, Grass

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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84
drank Dan Gui by Verdant Tea
183 tasting notes

This is an interesting tea with a rather atypical profile for a green oolong. Unlike other teas in this category, it’s not floral and instead has a savory/fruity character.

It’s hard to believe at first that this is an unroasted tea. The dry leaves in a heated gaiwan smell very spicy. There are also mineral and burnt wood aromas. The first steep is toasty and savory, with some spice from the aroma in the aftertaste. In the second steep, the taste of the tea becomes clearer. A melon like sweetness begins to settle in and it finally tastes like a a green oolong. There’s a savory undertone to it that helps balance the tea. Third steep onwards it becomes smoother and more fruity as the melon sweetness intensifies.

While I liked this tea, I found it to be quite similar to Verdant’s Ruan Zhi. Overall, a light and balanced tea that’s a welcome change from flowery teas.

Flavors: Melon, Spices

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 135 ML

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77

Backlog. The second of my Bitterleaf puerh samples.

This tea had an inviting wet earth and woodsy aroma. I detected a little fruit as well – plums, or maybe raisins?

The 1st steep was rich and earthy. I get wet wood and autumn leaves. Very smooth with no off flavors. It helps to have a cookies or other sweets nearby to counter the small tinge of bitterness that creeps in towards the end. Matcha pocky paired well with this tea.

In the 2nd steep, the earthiness softens and notes of tobacco emerge. In later steeps, it develops a more vegetal, green tea like character.

While I liked this tea, I preferred the Spring Yiwu Puerh more. Compared to it, this is less sweet and earthier. It also lasts longer without becoming metallic.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Earth, Tobacco, Wet Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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94
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
183 tasting notes

If chocolate existed in tea form, I imagine this is what it would taste like. The aroma and taste of this tea is of pure chocolate. The first steep was warm, sweet hot cocoa goodness. There’s a soft toasted marshmallow going on too. Almost no tannins to speak of. As the tea progresses, the chocolate moves to the background and faint notes of toffee and caramel appear.

This tea really deserves the hype its received on Steepster. It’s very delicious and comforting. I’ve already set aside a permanent tin for it because it’s going to be a perennial buy for sure.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Malt, Marshmallow

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Erm, I see that you are now moving into black teas.

LuckyMe

Yep, just dipped my toe into black teas recently. Greens still remain my favorite.

Evol Ving Ness

I ordered the black one from YS that began to sway you. I figured that if it had brought you back from the green side, well then.

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93

This is a rather fussy dan cong that is easy to mess up if not brewed with precision. Flash infusions using very hot water are the way to go here. Verdant’s generic method of 20s steeps plus 10s guarantees bitterness. Hojo’s brewing instructions for dan cong worked best here: 3g of tea for a 120 ml gaiwan, quick rinse followed by a 10s steep and “touch and go” from there on out.

When steeped right, the flavor is smooth and very refined. Juicy white peaches and honey greet the palette in the early steeps. Later infusions have sandalwood, a little minerality, and fruitiness. The roasting is here is subtle and doesn’t hit you over the head. Compared to Yunnan Sourcing’s Mi Liang Xiang, it’s not as roasty and has a bit more depth.

A lovely, exquisite tea that showcases what dan cong can and should be.

Flavors: Fruity, Honey, Peach, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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90

For as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve hated black tea. Although I grew up in a family of chai drinkers where the kettle was always whistling and strong black tea with milk was served all day long, I was the odd one of the bunch that could never stomach the stuff. The smell and taste of it literally made me sick to my stomach and my aversion to it continued well into adulthood. So after spending over 3 decades assiduously avoiding black tea, my turning point came recently when I discovered this Yunnan black.

I picked this up with my Yunnan Sourcing order for my father who enjoys Golden Monkey tea but had been paying nearly 4x as much for it at Teavana. Out of curiousity I took a whiff of the tea leaves and was intrigued by the delicious malty smell, which was nothing like the black teas I’ve experiencd. So I set aside a small sample for myself.

The first time I brewed this tea it was too tannic and it reaffirmed all of my misgivings about black tea. I stashed it away for a future tea swap and forgot about it. A few months later as I was organizing my stash, I stumbled upon it and decided to give it another go.

This time I under leafed, using a scant teaspoon of leaves for 110ml of water off the boil, steeped for 3 minutes. First steep there was rich, yummy maltiness and chocolate. A moderate amount of tannins but not too off putting and they went away after the 1st steep. The second steep had strong notes of caramel, maple syrup, and some cocoa. The third infusion was sweeter with an astonishing brown sugar like flavor. The later steeps threw off even more brown sugar and left a maple-like sweetness in the throat.

I’m very impressed by this tea. It’s robust flavor, natural sweetness, and low bitterness make it a winner in my book. It’s quickly becoming a part of my regular tea rotation and marks the beginning of my adventure into the world of black tea.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Fruity, Malt, Maple

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
Evol Ving Ness

This is some sort of miracle. It gladdens my heart that you have found your way back to the, potentially, glorious world that is black tea.

LuckyMe

Haha, indeed its a minor miracle. I think low quality teas had clouded my perception of black tea. Happy to finally discover the good stuff!

Evol Ving Ness

:)

I am putting this tea that prompted your conversion on my list of things to order the next time that happens.

Gooseberry Spoon

Now you have an entire section of YS to catch up on!

Evol Ving Ness

Thank you, LuckyMe, for telling us about this tea. Mine arrived the other and omigoodness, delicious delicious delicious. My addiction for this one is all on you.

Daylon R Thomas

It’s something I might want to try to, isn’t it Evol and Luckyme?

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70

Backlog.

When it comes to scented teas, some flowers translate into better flavor than others. I was excited to try this blend because I love the fragrance of gardenia and had never experienced it in tea form before.

I brewed 4g in a 120ml gaiwan using almost boiling water for 1 minute, adding 20s to each subsequent steep. In a heated gaiwan, the tea leaves have an alluring aroma of perfume and flowers. The taste is like jasmine and rose combined, sweet with notes of warm spice. It reminds me of a high grade jasmine green tea but lacks the clean and delicate taste of a real jasmine tea. It’s pleasant enough though not particularly remarkable. The heavenly, lustrous aroma of gardenia flowers unfortunately can’t be found in the taste.

Flavors: Flowers, Spices

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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86

The first time I tried this tea, I didn’t care for it at all. Despite the enchanting cream and honeysuckle aroma, the tea itself was flat, insipid, and utterly lacking in flavor. It tasted muted, like a stale TGY and was more savory than sweet. Mind you, this was following the flash steeping instructions from Verdant.

Luckily I had a second sample because otherwise I might have never bothered with this tea again. This time I brewed it longer with steep times of 50s/40s/50s/60s/90s/2m/3m/5m. The first couple of steeps were bitter, probably because I used boiling water . But from the 3rd steep onwards, I used water just under boiling and that’s when its flavor began to come out: a honey graham cracker savory-sweet flavor with some vanilla and light maple. The aftertaste was syrupy and later steeps became sweeter but lost a bit of the biscuit taste.

This is one of the better Chinese green oolongs I’ve tried. It’s not obnoxiously floral as some of them tend to be and in many ways, actually resembles a Taiwanese Jin Xuan.

Flavors: Cream, Graham Cracker, Maple, Sweet, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 135 ML

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69

This was my second wuyi from Yunnan Sourcing and it’s quite different than others I’ve tried in the past. I would describe the flavor profile as wood-spice and black licorice. It has a thick mouthfeel and a sharp cinnamon taste that really hits your palette. I don’t get the floral notes that YS describes. Not a bad tea, but just not my style of yancha due to the pungency and heavy spice flavor.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Licorice, Roasted, Spices

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 2 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Profile

Bio

Fell into tea years ago, and for a while my experience was limited to Japanese greens and a few flavored teas. My tea epiphany came a couple of years ago when I discovered jade oolongs. That was the gateway drug to the world of fine tea and teaware.

I mostly drink straight teas however there are a handful of flavored teas that I can’t go without. I’m on an oolong kick these days but will always have a soft spot for green tea. Love fresh green and floral flavors. I also enjoy white tea and tisanes. I am slowly beginning to explore black and puerh tea. I lean towards Yunnan black teas and young sheng.

Other non-tea interests include: cooking and being a foodie, reading, traveling when I can, nature, alternative medicine, and of course putzing around on the interwebs.

Location

Chicago

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