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Edit tea info Last updated by Terri HarpLady
Average preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec 6 g 10 oz / 302 ml

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132 tasting notes

So, I have a bag of Japanese green tea. I have NO idea what kind it is. The bag is all in Japanese, my sister gave it to me with the only instructions being, “My friends husband was in Japan and brought back this tea and she gave it to me and I thought you would like it.” With that being said, I am leaning towards it being a steamed sencha? Maybe? It is a very delicate and silky green that has the propensity to turn very bitter, very fast when over steeped. I’ve been doing 170 degrees around 45-60 seconds per first steep. Anything more than that and it goes bitter.

Anywho, I had some extra ginger root and I really wanted a ginger tea this morning. So, I cut up some of the ginger root, a few grams worth, and added it in with this Japanese green and steeped it by my normal parameters for this tea. It turned out really well! The tea and ginger blended nicely. The ginger was there but not too strong (though I wouldn’t have minded if it were stronger). The green tea was its normal silky green flavor with just a hint of bitterness.

Pretty pleased with myself!

Flavors: Bitter, Ginger, Grass, Smooth

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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282 tasting notes

After reading Liquid Proust’s review of the YQH Bulang a few days ago, I decided to try it myself. This was my second session, and the first try was underwhelming (which is pretty much what he said). During the 1st steep, I got a bright idea and pulled out a 2006 6FTM Bulang sample from Tea Urchin to do a side-by-side tasting. These are my notes.

The dry leaf was what you would expect: the YQH had beautiful full leaves that came apart easily and the 6FTM was tightly compressed. The small bits and powder probably are more inherent in the tea than due to my technique in breaking off my sample. First steep (10 s): surprise: the older tea has significantly lighter color than the younger tea. Second surprise: They tasted quite similar; the YQH had more complexity but wasn’t as potent as the 6FTM.

Second steeps (10 s): The colors are now very similar. The initial darkness in the 6FTM is probably due to the powder that’s now in my strainer. Both teas have that smoked meat aroma I associate with Bulang. The YQH is stronger. The YQH also has more flavor. The 6FTM seems just a bit washed out after I tried the YQH. On an absolute basis, the 6FTM is fairly full in the mouth, has good flavor and a bit of complexity. I liked it well enough to buy another sample but not a cake (this is about my 5th session). When I go the the YQH, though, it is just a bit more powerful, has bigger mouth-feel, and is more complex. Kind of like that kid in school who did everything just a little bit better than you did. It’s a bit hard to judge the finish when you go back and forth, but the 6FTM seemed to have a very good finish. After waiting a couple of minutes to let it fade (though it was still pretty good after 2 minutes) I finished the slightly cool YQH. The taste had opened up to be a bit stronger than I remembered, and was showing some stone fruit at the finish. There is a slight astringency I didn’t notice in the 6FTM but otherwise the finishes are comparable, though the YQH seemed to last longer, though of course it is building upon the 6FTM finish.

3rd steep (20 s): This is usually my best steep. I waited 10 minutes for the finish to fade. Very similar visually. Excellent nose on the YQH; less on the 6FTM, though it is quite good on an absolute basis. I like the 6FTM a lot; it is showing some sweetness and the smokiness is less obvious. The taste glides gently into a smooth, pleasant, finish. The finish is slightly astringent, but not really bitter. The YQH is also less smoky, but I’m having a harder time finding the flavor: It is what wine drinkers call “closed-in,” which means you can sense flavor but it’s hiding. When I aerate the tea in my mouth, it shows a slightly vegetative flavor. For this round, I’m favoring the 6FTM slightly, just because it is more approachable. I’m noticing a big, astringent finish that I suspect is due to the combined effect of the two teas. Hard to separate things at this point. The qi is also starting to affect my judgement. Time for another break.

4th (30 s): 6FTM is really nice. Sweet and smooth with a bit of fruit. Fruit especially obvious in the finish. Some astringency. Probably wants even more age. The YQH is very similar to the 6FTM at this point. Slightly stronger, and more astringent. I think most of the finish is coming from the YQH, but it’s impossible to separate the effects, when the finish lasts for 10 minutes and I have 30 sec between tastes. The flavor of the YQH is a bit lighter, with citrus elements, while the 6FTM is more straightforward. I still have a slight preference for the YQH, but it IS slight.

Steeps 5-8: This is where I abandon myself to a tea-drunk to see which tea lasts longer. The 6FTM grew more bitter in later steeps, while the YQH just faded away gracefully.

Bottom line: the YQH is the better tea, but not by a wide margin. The 6FTM is definitely the better value.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 g 2 OZ / 59 ML
DigniTea

Interesting notes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these two Bulangs.

Dr Jim

It was fun. I think I’ll be doing more of these side-by-sides.

Liquid Proust

Would you say it isn’t the best to draw thoughts on YQH bases on this specific cake? I know I have a few more samples, but as this was my only one I have tried it was like… ’eh

Dr Jim

I’ve tasted several now (and bought 1.25 cakes) and my overall impression is that they are consistently good, but not thrilling in the way that some of the W2T teas excite me. I’m sorry for all the wine analogies, but these are kind of like aged Bordeaux, which is just good drinking but doesn’t excite the way a 3-year-old California wine might.

jschergen

@LiquidProust this is a highly atypical one as far as YQH is concerned. 85% of their tea is Mengla County from 2004-2007. Try one of those and it should be far more indicative.

mrmopar

I think the difference in age 5 years I think can make a difference. In another 5 years the YQH will be more mature and have a fuller experience.

jschergen

And a completely different terroir. Bulang vs. greater Yiwu area.

mrmopar

I agree. I think there is good potential in the YQH over the years to come.

Cwyn

Well written analysis and very helpful.

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89 tasting notes

When I found out I wouldn’t be able to attend the Midwest Tea Festival I decided to look into some of the vendors from last year that I would be missing. I decided to order samples first from Singe Origin Teas because I’ve seen good things (plus they have a chesnut tea, which I needed). I ended up “throwing in” the Waverly Tea Estate tea grown in Florida because 1) I’m a plant person and I’ve always wanted to grow my own tea and 2) it would be nice to have premium tea here in the US. I figured I have spent more on Kickstarters that didn’t pan out so I might as well try this.

http://www.singleoriginteas.com/Waverly_Tea_Estate_p/florida.htm

My tea was picked 5 days ago, and I got my 6 oz in the mail yesterday. I didn’t give any parameters other than “green” so I got a medium rolled and medium pan fried green. I wasn’t sure what to expect and went really conservative for my first brewing temp since I thought it could be a super bitter spring green.

1st steep: 4 grams, 8 oz water, 100 F, 1.5 min infusion

The tea looked really dark in the package so I almost was going to treat it like a toasted tea, but when I got it out I noticed it was actually dark green and had a really fresh green smell like a sencha so I was afraid of going too high with the temp. It brewed a light green gold color and started to smell a little toasty. It ended up having a super silky mouthfeel and tasted sort of light and buttery.

2nd steep: 8 oz water, 125 F, 1.5 min infusion

The first seemed a bit light so I decided to up the temp for this one. It brewed to more of a green color. There was a bit of a butteryness still there but now with more vegetal spinach notes. The toasty notes are now coming out and it’s like a cross between a summer dragonwell and a lightly toasted oolong.

2nd steep: 8 oz water, 125 F, 1.5 min infusion

I kept the brewing parameters the same here. It was very much like the second steep but now with a slightly dry finish.

4th steep: 8 oz water, 160 F, 1.5 min infusion

Whoops, I wanted to up the temperature a bit, but didn’t mean to go this high. I honestly I thought I ruined it. It turned a dark gold color and tasted like a smooth hojicha or even a darkly toasted barley tea, it was a little bizarre. I had a bit more of the dryness at the end.

5th steep: 8 oz water, 140 F, 1.5 min infusion

I just had to find out. It’s gold with a green undertone. It’s still very full flavored and now has a buttery mouth-coating ending followed by a fuzzy dryness.

Assesment: An aromatic, full flavored, chimera of a tea. Not quite like anything I’ve had before, and really resilient to my playing around with brewing parameters. I’ll use up the remainder in a gaiwan session once I have the time. Now that I’m not afraid of getting a super bitter cup I’ll probably start with a temp of at least 140-150.

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 30 sec 4 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Xxxxx

American grown tea. I read the link; this is really exciting!

Nicole

Single Origin/Waverly is just an awesome company to deal with. And supporting US grown tea is a plus. I hope his plants grow fast!!! :)

Gooseberry Spoon

It’s certainly got a lot of promise!

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41 tasting notes

2016 Sheng Olympics

As part of the #2016ShengOlympics organized by LiquidProust, I decided to do a side-by-side tasting of all three Verdant “old tree” shengs. I figured with 50ml gaiwans it should not be overwhelming (I was not entirely correct; it’s still a lot of tea!)

Here’s the teas before the start of the session:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BBePGVTFi—/

And here’s the aftermath showing the most intact and largest leaves I could find:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BBe44bnliwW/

I took each tea through 11 steeps over several hours in round-robin fashion using 3.5 grams of leaf in each 50ml gaiwan with 205F (+/-2F) bottled spring water heated in a clay boiler. I let the tea guide my steep times, ending up with 10/10/10/15/20/30/40/60/90/120/300 seconds for each one.

All of the teas were quite mellow with mild aromatics and easy on my stomach. And the energy imparted was moderate; I never felt too wired.

Summary:

300 Year Tree: Light yellow liquor. Aromas of pine in the first half of the session, turning tart and fruity in the latter half. Medium bodied, slightly oily mouthfeel. The flavor started fruity, turned to sweet-tart citrus with slight spice in later steeps. Some faint astringency in the beginning and again near the end when I pushed the steep times. Overall a decent mild young sheng.

1000 Year Tree: Medium yellow liquor. Aromas of pine in the first half, turning to old books, then spicy-tart near the end. Medium bodied, fairly oily mouthfeel and a soothing feeling coating the throat in most steeps. The flavor was primarily sweet-tart with slight spice and pine notes appearing at times, and citrus and herbs arising in the later half. Faintly astringent in the longer steeps. I liked this one just a little better than the 300 Year, mostly because of the feeling in my throat.

1800 Year Tree: Medium-dark yellow liquor (but not quite amber). Aromas were primarily tart, sweet, faint pine, woody, turning fruity sweet in the long steeps. Medium bodied, slightly oily mouthfeel. Flavors started as a sweet-tart balance with faint pine, citrus emerging in the mid-steeps, some herbal notes, ending with light sweetness and slight pepper. No astringency. This one edged out the other two in terms of flavor, but just barely. My notes repeatedly show “a mellow, smooth cup”.

Any one of these would be a good beginner’s sheng since they were all quite mild and well behaved. In truth I cannot pick a winner since they were all so similar. I had to really focus to pick out the differences. Also I did notice some slight camphor mid-session, but since that can carry over in the mouth from one tea to the next I could not attribute it to any one tea.

So what did I learn after drinking about a liter and a half of tea in one night?

(1) When I closed my eyes I felt I was swooping around the cosmos with “Rocket Man” playing in my head.

(2) Drinking this much tea leads to truly epic pee sessions. (Wife: “Did someone leave the water running?” Me: “Go back to sleep dear”).

(3) A few of my Steepster friends keep weird hours on Instagram as well.

(edited to add “2016 Sheng Olympics” at the top)

curlygc

Thanks for the review! I don’t think my palate is quite evolved enough to pick out such subtle differences between the teas, but I will try. When I tried their regular non-old tree sheng, “beginner’s sheng” was my take on that one as well.

Ubacat

That sounds like good news for me. I like mild shengs. I haven’t got my Sheng Olympics package yet but enjoying reading the reviews everyone has started leaving.

Lindsay

Yay, thanks for doing the side-by-side taste test. :)

TeaExplorer

Thanks! It was an interesting and fun experience. I’ve never tried more than two teas side-by-side, and after this I think three at once is about my limit.

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2183 tasting notes

A friend asked to come over and make cards together. We had leftover Snickerdoodle cupcakes that my youngest daughter the awesome baker made. I asked my friend what kind of tea she would like it, as I usually serve sweets with a plain black tea unless I have a fruity tea that matches the flavor of the dessert. She said she normally liked fruity flavors but that didn’t seem like a good match with dessert, so I mixed Hot Cinnamon Spice half and half with Queen Catherine to tone it down a little. I don’t want to scare away tea newbies!

It went together really well, the cinnamon was present but not as “in your face” and the more cupcake I ate, the better the tea tasted with it. I think it came out as a really great pairing.

And yes, I just did a review that said we are all sick with a bad cold, but I did tell her and give her the option not to come, and she said, “I’m not afraid of a cold!” :)

gmathis

OK, I’m thinking that recipe just needs to be shared. But only if it’s easy for us culinary incompetents :)

Teatotaler

Sounds like a brilliant combo!

ashmanra

Just google Snickerdoodle Cupcakes and find the one from Sally’s Baking Addiction! We make outs with freshly ground wheat, don’t know how they would be with store bought but surely still good. And we use Penzey’s cinnamons – always! They are the freshest and strongest!

ashmanra

And we don’t frost with half and half frosting, we just go all cinnamon. And no little cookie. But this is the recipe other than that! LOL

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90
212 tasting notes

Random cheap eBay Tie Guan Yin, was originally for trial for bulk alcoholic tea making, it turns up and its a roasted version. bummer. Didnt mention that in the listing. I was presumptuous :D

But – its not too bad, hints of milk, chocolate & hazelnuts in the medium-light roast, if steeped strongly the floral/vegetal tgy comes through and while isnt the best ive had it isnt bad either. Quite sweet, so it reminded me of cadburys dairy milk or even galaxy (shudder) type of chocolate (but only hints). Later steeps became a mix of vegetal and lighter roast, aroma was hard to place. Nice though.

£8/200g, pretty cheap. I dont really drink roasted TGY. I always wonder about perceived quality when drinking cheap or expensive tea but I havent any other to compare it to so I just have to judge on whether I liked it or not. It was ok – Im not knocking it, and probably nice if you like sweet chocolate milkshake :)

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/272144512168

Flavors: Chocolate, Hazelnut, Milk, Roasted, Sugar, Sweet, Vegetal

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89 tasting notes

Drinking that one unlabelled tea I have from the Christmas gift box my mom gave me. It’s black tea with coconut flakes. Pretty good in my opinion. The tea is a little bit astringent, but if I put in enough leaf and don’t leave it to steep for too long then it can be avoided (mostly). The coconut comes in as a subtly sweet aftertaste, also helping to combat the bitterness. Pretty average tea, but unique and good enough that I would drink it until it’s finished.

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223 tasting notes

On the 17th day of sipdowns…

I got this in a swap but I’m not actually sure what it is… It’s in an Adagio tin labeled “Pearl” but the list I received from the swapper said there were two other Adagio teas but no Pearl. I decided this must be Strawberry Shortcake from the list (though it doesn’t taste like it.) It was good, but not as wonderful when iced. I’m not terribly let down that I can’t figure out what the tea is but it was interesting to try to decipher the tea without having an ingredient list.

Flavors: Berry, Cream, Fruity, Spices

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326 tasting notes

Beorhthraefn included a sample of 8 Immortals Dancong by Sereni-tea in the Secret Pumpkin package. Thank you!

Brewed in an infuser mug. Steeping times: 2 minutes, 4, 8. The wet leaf smells muscatel and like wet rocks. The liquor is clearly golden, full-bodied, and juicy with white grapes. Can’t really evaluate the quality considering my lack of experience with Dan Cong, but this was nice to drink.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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220 tasting notes

Today I reorganized the tea cupboard and logged all my teas. Since November, I’ve increased tea count by about 100 teas. Crazy. Gotta work on reducing my cupboard by half.
In pursuit of this goal, I tried to drink my small samples today.

Tea- Artic Fire by Anna’s Tea Shop from Midwest Teafest

Smells fruity. 212F 8oz, 3min
Tastes vaguely fruity black, nothing memorable.

Flavors: Fruity

Fjellrev

If it makes you feel any better, I used to be at like 120 and have since gotten down to under 40, so you can do it!

hawkband1

Thanks! Part of the problem is that I have large quantities of some teas. I’ll need to dredge my willpower up and not order tea.

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