114 Tasting Notes
Every now and then I like to return to old favorites to see how my palette has changed. This was my very first YS purchase and my first foray into the world of high quality oolongs.
This Taiwanese style high mountain tea from Anxi remains a great jade oolong. It has a creamy orchid flavor and thick vegetal body with hints of vanilla. It’s probably the most vegetal oolong I’ve had in recent memory. It doesn’t take too kindly to long steeps and develops a strong seaweed like taste if oversteeped. The flavor of this tea seems to deteriorate much more quickly than others after the seal is broken and the tea is exposed to air. Compared to a real Taiwanese oolong, it’s more buttery and less sweet.
Overall a solid oolong that gives you great bang for your buck.
Flavors: Orchid, Seaweed, Vanilla, Vegetal
A rare miss for TTC. I bought this accidentally thinking it was a green oolong. I’m glad it was only a 25g sample because this tea misses the mark for me. This tea comes from a Jin Xuan varietal and thus has the unmistakable milky creaminess. It also has a noticeably pronounced baked flavor and smell. My problem is it doesn’t have any taste characteristics other than those. The flavor of the tea overall is malty with hints of cocoa and has a smooth body. There’s not much complexity or depth to it. The roasted creamy flavor dominates steep after steep. It’s palatable but that’s about it.
Lately I’ve taken to adding small pinch of this tea to jade oolongs which really helps the flavor pop a bit.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Milk
Normally I’m not one for roasted teas and always underleaf because I find them too unbearable otherwise. Still I find myself being drawn to darker style oolongs lately for winter comfort. Wuyis are a perennial favorite yet it’s hard to find one that doesn’t taste like an ashtray. One of reasons I love this tea is because the delicate roast allows its wonderfully complex flavor to shine through.
The dry leaves in a warmed gaiwan exude an amazing fruity aroma. Wet leaf changes to a deep earthy aroma, like a wet forest after the rain, and produces a beautiful light amber liqueur. My first steep was smooth and rich. Soft roasted body, much lighter than a regular DHP. There’s some earthiness and mineral flavor there but not over the top. I’m getting some sweetness in there too. A very well-balanced cup.
The flavor really begins to pop at the second steep. This one is sweeter, and more mineral. The roastiness has faded as light florals begin to emerge and there is a pleasant honeyed aftertaste. It’s juicy, crisp, and clean. My favorite steep by far.
The next two steeps are fairly similar. The rock sugar sweetness intensifies and the tea flavors becomes clearer. I’m impressed by how full flavored the later steepings were even though it was brewed western style with just a pinch of leaves.
I had a Dan Cong earlier in the day and was struck by how much this tea resembled it with its honeyed sweetness, floral notes, and light roast.
I didn’t think it could get any better than WP’s regular Da Hong Pao but their Wildcrafted varietal is really on another level altogether. This is truly an incredible wuyi oolong and hands down the best I’ve ever had.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Fruity, Honey, Mineral, Roasted, Wet Wood
Another day, another interesting Teavivre sample to try. I love their vast array of tea and the inexpensive samples which are a great way to try a lot of different teas on the cheap. Green tea, to me is their strong suit and I’ve enjoyed working my way through their offerings.
The latest one happens to be Bi Luo Chun and is the first of its kind for me. This is a light bodied green tea without any astringency and mellow flavor. The dry leaf has a sweet seaweed aroma and the wet leaf has the aroma of grass and steamed vegetables. The first steep is mild, lightly vegetal and brothy. A nice balance of sweet and savory. Later steeps are decidedly vegetal. There is a hint of seaweed as it goes down. Not a whole lot of flavor though. Increasing steep times leads to a marine flavor which I’m not a big fan of.
This is a mild tea that may appeal to people new to green tea. Unfortunately it didn’t do much for me. To me, this is squarely middle of the road and has a very typical green tea flavor. Nothing really memorable about it. I do however like it better in kahva than the gunpowder tea I normally use and it’s also pretty good cold-steeped for a couple of hours.
Flavors: Seaweed, Vegetable Broth, Vegetal
Admittedly, I am far from a pu head. I normally drink green teas and light oolongs. Cannot stomach black tea and the few times I’ve tasted puerh I spit it out because it tasted like dirt to me.
So it was with great trepidation that I tried this sample received in a recent swap. I have to say this one was actually quite nice. It tastes like a strong white tea with prominent hay, grass, and marine undertones. The earthiness is there but it isn’t off putting nor offensive and starts mellowing at the 3rd infusion. The seaweed taste also fades away at this point to make way for light vegetal notes and a hint of pleasant bitterness. The earthiness tamed down by the fourth infusion which was most enjoyable one yet. I wondered if perhaps I was starting to acquire a taste for puerh? Fifth infusion was a lighter, green tea-ish flavor and the final two steeps tasted metallic.
I got a little hopped up after drinking it (in a good way), so this is a good one if you’re looking for caffeine. Overall, this was a great introduction to sheng for a beginner like me. While I doubt I’ll turn into a puerh aficionado any time soon, it’s opened up my tea experience and made me more willing to try other puerhs in the future.
Thanks to Stephanie for a great sample!
Flavors: Dirt, Dry Grass, Hay, Vegetal
I’ve never been a fan of genmaicha but then this tea came along and changed everything. This is a warm and toasty tea with a smooth buttery body that reminds me of popcorn. The liqueur is a beautiful emerald green thanks to the matcha. It’s not burnt or bitter tasting, a problem I’ve had with genmaicha in the past. Changing the way I steep is part of the reason why I’ve come to enjoy it more now.
Most directions tell you to brew genmaicha at hotter temperature than usual for green tea, around 185 F. Personally, I find genmaicha bitter if steeped higher than 175. The best results with this tea came when I steeped it unlidded at 170 for 1 minute. This results in a pleasant nuttiness without the harsh roasted taste and no astringency. I feel the matcha helps take the edge off the roast and gives it a fuller body.
This is a comforting tea to drink for those cold winter days and makes a fabulous iced tea in the summer.
Flavors: Popcorn, Toasty
Picked up this tea during the Black Friday sale. This is a nice jade oolong that’s similar to many Taiwanese high mountain teas. It’s sweet, a little tart, and lightly floral. After experimenting with steeping parameters, I found the best results came from a high leaf to water ratio, short infusions, and lower temperature about 185-195. It’s prone to bitterness if oversteeped or too hot water is used.
I got eight good infusions following the gongfu instructions on Tea from Vietnam’s site, and it still had a lot left to give. The tea is somewhat light bodied and while it does have a floral background, it wasn’t as flowery as I had hoped. There are subtle notes of lily floating in the aroma and finish, but it’s not a flower bomb like say a TGY or shui xian. I noticed the picking date on the package was January 2015. Perhaps some of that floral goodness had faded by the time I got my hands on it 11 months later?
Overall, a pretty darn good if not stellar tea that’s worth trying if oolong is your thing.
Flavors: Creamy, Flowers, Sweet
Every tea goes through what I call a break in period. This is where you experiment with water, temperature, steep time, and leaf quantity to find the optimal brewing parameters for the tea. In my experience, green teas are more finicky than other kinds of tea. Finally hitting that elusive sweet spot is one of the greatest thrills of green tea for me. The downside though is by the time you’ve figured out how to steep it, your stash is almost gone.
This one took me quite a few tries, but I was rewarded with a marvelous cup of tea. It’s sweet and crisp without the typical grassiness found in most green teas. It has a light body with a flavor resembling white tea. The wiry dry leaves smell of seaweed, although that doesn’t come through in the liquor. The wet leaf smells floral and has a rich aroma of fresh spring vegetables.
I tried brewing it many different ways (grandpa style, test tube, cold steeped, etc.) and found it tasted best in a plain old gaiwan, steeped at the standard 175 F with the lid closed.
First infusion is smooth, crisp, and refreshing. Tastes like a bouquet of spring vegetables.
Second infusion is sweet and clean tasting. Some of the nuances of the 1st infusion are lost but still very delicious.
Third steeping was for 90s. The needle like leaves opened fully and the tea broth became lighter and had a flavor reminiscent of sweet mountain spring water.
Fourth steeping. Upped both the time and temperature to 2minutes at 180 F. Much lighter, maybe I should have steeped longer? Still, it had a lot of flavor and evoked crisp salad greens and snow peas.
Fifth steep was for a long 3 minutes. At this point the tea was done, enjoyable but flat.
I was pretty impressed by the quality of this tea. After Dragonwell this is my favorite of all the green teas I’ve had from Teavivre so far. It resembled Verdant’s Laoshan Pine Needle tea a lot, both in its physical appearance and taste. A great tea for when you want something fresh tasting but that’s not too grassy or vegetal.
Flavors: Lettuce, Mineral, Sweet
UPDATE – tried this today with almost double the quantity of leaf I normally use and lower water temperature. Got 4 great infusions out of it with no astringency. The first infusion straight up tasted like gyokuro, full of rich umami flavor. I steeped it at 155 F for 45s. The second steeping was a quick one, 30s at about 165 F. Much fuller, matcha like strong vegetal flavor. There is the slightest hint of bitterness as it goes down, but not unpleasantly so. The third steeping, 45s @ same temperature, was like regular sencha. Grassy and sweet. The tea went flat on the 4th steeping. It had a light, brothy character. Still good, but not as memorable as the earlier infusions.
Upping my rating to 90 as this tea continues to impress me and is a regular in my green tea rotation.
Flavors: Grass, Seaweed, Umami
My search for the perfect wuyi oolong may finally be over, at least for now! I’d been savoring my sample from WP for a while now and immediately ordered some during the Black Friday sale because this tea is just that good.
This is a very smooth and pleasant tasting tea. No harshness or ashy taste like wuyi oolongs often have. The roasting here is exceptionally smooth. The tea has a sweet rock flavor and a clean mineral finish. Notes of burnt sugar can be detected in later steeps.
A warm, comforting tea that’s perfect for chilly winter days.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet, Wet Rocks