108 Tasting Notes

87
drank Bao Zhong by Dobra Tea
108 tasting notes

A great tea for a rainy afternoon. I’ve been to Pinglin, Taiwan, where this tea is grown. Aroma of sweet pear and caramel. A gentle roast if any. Light and subtle mouth-feel but there’s some real texture in there. The first infusion holds a certain sharpness and crisp green-tea taste, but then it mellows. Rich and mouth-filling if allowed to steep a bit longer on later infusions. I think that this is one of those leaves that would really benefit from a dedicated yixing pot.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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81

Made a light gaiwan tonight, as I don’t want to be up too late: probably half the number of leaves I would usually use.

The liquor is golden and the wet leaves smell incongruously like a Dan Cong tea: a hint of charcoal roasted stone fruit. The taste is light and gentle, just as I had hoped. A touch salty and mouth-coating but without any deep aromas.

Well into the third infusion the deeper flavors begin to appear, but the mouth feel is still subtle and comforting.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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88
drank Tie Guan Yin by Dobra Tea
108 tasting notes

Bright and bold but charming and sweet at the same time. The leaves are toasted just to the crispness of a winter day.

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81

Dry leaf: white downy pearls. Just as one would expect.
A great sample I received from Teavivre. I set up a proper tasting with degustation sets for each of the teas. Well, I didn’t do the traditional 6 minutes, but I did my best for the type of tea. Here’s my notes.

Brewing method: 3g, tasting set, 75C for 3 minutes
Aroma: Aroma is straight jasmine. Like holding a flower in your hand.
Infusion: Nearly clear, light green liquor.
Taste: Sweet and bright with a brisk mouthfeel. The jasmine aroma sticks to the roof of the mouth. Slightly drying. A classic Jasmine Pearls tea. Not overpowering, but perhaps more jasmine than I like these days, although I used to be addicted to the style and this is as good a representative of it as I can recall.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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83

A great sample I received from Teavivre. I set up a proper tasting with degustation sets for each of the teas. Well, I didn’t do the traditional 6 minutes, but I did my best for the type of tea. Here’s my notes.

Dry leaf: wiry and thin black with a good amount of gold tips
Brewing method: 3g, tasting set, 85 for 1.5 minutes
Aroma: Aroma of a damp forest: earthy and sweet.
Infusion: Amber-gold liquor.
Taste: Light body, candy sweet, not drying. Very similar to a Bai Mu Dan, actually, although more chocolatey. This is likely due to the fact that they’re both a Fuding, Fujian leaf, possibly the same cultivar?

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Jim Marks

That’s a great insight. It isn’t often you find leaf from the same cultivar which has been processed in radically different ways. Fascinating that one can taste the similarity despite that processing.

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82

A great sample I received from Teavivre. I set up a proper tasting with degustation sets for each of the teas. Well, I didn’t do the traditional 6 minutes, but I did my best for the type of tea. Here’s my notes.

Dry leaf: wiry and thin for a golden buds tea which in my experience tend to use larger leaves (perhaps this is a different cultivar than I’m used to). This does not bear to judge the tea, as the leaves are still very uniform and beautiful.
Brewing method: 3g, tasting set, 90 for 1.5 minutes
Aroma: Aroma of cinnamon or bitter chocolate.
Infusion: Orange liquor.
Taste: Drying taste as it hits the roof of the mouth. Not as sweet as the aroma implies, but very rich. The taste of earthy sweetness that accompanies a bitter chocolate.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Jim Marks

A golden “tip” should be very small, because anything “tippy” is supposed to be the terminal, unopened leaf bud. So, I would, somewhat cautiously because I am not a true expert, suggest that these smaller leaves means this is better quality rather than potentially lower.

Payton

Well said, Jim. I agree that leaf size is far from a measure of quality and that indeed smaller leaves can carry amazing flavor (Tai Hu Bi Lo Chun, for example). Yunnan is well known for its big leaf varieties, though, even in the “buds”, and often I find all-tips Yunnan teas that seem more akin in size to a Silver Needle (well, that’s a wholly different region). Anyway, I only mentioned the size for comparison to other Golden Buds tea. Many thanks for the comment!

Jim Marks

But… Lipton insists that smaller is better…!

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A great sample I received from Teavivre. I set up a proper tasting with degustation sets for each of the teas. Well, I didn’t do the traditional 6 minutes, but I did my best for the type of tea. Here’s my notes.

Dry leaf: rolled, but not really into balls. Irregular and with various stems. Perhaps this points to hand-rolling?
Brewing method: 3g, tasting set, 90 for 1 minute
Aroma: Very green aroma with a light touch of sweetness.
Infusion: Yellow-gold liquor.
Taste: Very light. Probably could be infused longer to good effect. Taste of spring flowers and grilled zucchini.

I infused this another time with a longer infusion to try and capture more flavor. It was much more bold, but still with a light body. Definitely good, and definitely a spring Oolong. I tend to lean toward winter harvests, myself, so perhaps this is just too young for me. I may let some rest in the packaging for a time to see if it improves (a trick taught to me by some tea friends in Taiwan).

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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92

A great sample I received from Teavivre. I set up a proper tasting with degustation sets for each of the teas. Well, I didn’t do the traditional 6 minutes, but I did my best for the type of tea. Here’s my notes.

Dry leaf: very fluffy and downy. Much more so than other White Peonies I’ve tasted recently. Good quality leaf.
Brewing method: 3g, tasting set, 85 C for 1 minute
Aroma: Classic Bai Mu Dan aroma of gently roasted walnuts.
Infusion: Light green-yellow liquor.
Taste: Very sweet and thick. Filling like – don’t take this the wrong way, because it’s really pleasant – white beans. Tastes like Bai Mu Dan should, bringing back memories of my first experiences with the style many years ago when I would drink the tea every morning.

This was the best of all the samples that I received. Definitely worth drinking in the future.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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81
drank 2011 Bai Hao by Dobra Tea
108 tasting notes

Oh so happy to see this beauty return. After experiencing Bai Hao in Taipei my whole perspective on the tea was shifted to properly honor this unique treasure. Dobra’s new batch does not disappoint. Not quite as sweet as the tea I found at Hua Tai, but with a delicate honey flavor that soothes the mouth and the stomach. The second infusion was much more round, although still with that light touch in the mouth-feel. I suspect that this is a harvest that is best infused for longer than my customary 1.5 minutes. Next time I’ll try starting off at 2 minutes and moving upward from there.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Ben Youngbaer

interesting how we’ve all flocked to this before tasting the new ali shan

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85
drank 2010 Qi Hong Mao Feng by Unknown
108 tasting notes

A crisp, sweet black. Flavors of pineapple and rose petals with an aftertaste of brown sugar that names it an Anhui tea. The liquor is brown-gold with a medium body. This is the last of my batch.

The second and third infusions held up quite well for the age of this tea. The third may have been the best at around 3.5 minutes. A rich chocolate flavor on the front of the tongue appeared out of nowhere to light up the finish.

Brewed in a small gaiwan.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Bio

A tea geek (and also general geek) in Burlington, Vermont.

I’m drawn to the beauty of a steaming cup with snow falling outside. When I see a tea leaf, I see the long road and hundreds of hands that have brought it from the sun and soil to my pot.

I think that tea can be a way of life.

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Burlington, VT

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