165 Tasting Notes
First of all, I want to thank Big Daddy for suggesting we split the Nilgiri sampler from Teabox. I’ve had a few basic Nilgiri teas over the years but nothing like the offerings from Teabox, which delves deeply into the Nilgiri terroir and unearths some true gems.
I hesitate to call this autumn tea “black” because the liquor is so light-a pale orange akin to some slightly aged raw pu-erhs. The flavor is reminiscent of a Taiwanese black, herbal with a strong fresh tomato essence, but also fruity and sparkly like a Ceylon. The tea is slightly bitter, but it’s offset by an equal amount of sweetness.
A very singular experience! Gorgeous dry and infused leaf. If you think you’ve tasted everything under the sun, give these Adderley Twirl teas a try.
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Ineffable rock-candy sweetness with notes of corn and hay, the broth generously lubricates the mouth and is quite persistent in the throat. I’m really amazed at the consistency of this tea that steep to steep pumps out consistently sweet, clean, full-bodied mouth-watering liquor with no ebb in flavor and no bitterness. People talk about price per gram of tea, but maybe there should be a price-per-excellent-infusion category in which the Guang Feng Zhai would challenge for supremacy.
This is a dynamic, complex and powerful young tea that starts out sweet and almost buttery with a pleasantly lubricious mouth feel. Make no mistake, this is a bitter tea, but it’s a productive bitterness that coaxes out the flavors of the tea (apricots, nuts and maybe a hint of anise) in the same way that the right amount of salt enhances good cooking. It’s tongue numbing in the middle steeps, and the flavor slowly morphs from fruit to vegetable as the session continues. Another delicious young sheng in the $50/cake range from Yunnan Sourcing. I shared this with some sheng-newbies at work and they loved the mix of drinkability and complexity.
I’ve developed a sweet tooth for many of the YS wild arbor black teas (which often hail from the same villages and mountains as their raw pu-erhs), so I thought I would check out a different kind of black tea. I was rewarded with a really nice cup, albeit one that is a little tough to characterize. In one sense it reminds me of a red robe oolong, a tea that I’m not particularly fond of, but wedded to a creamy, cannabis-scented maltiness and you get a delicious and forgiving tea that can handle a longish steep and extra leaf. It’s very nice to drink in the evening on the cusp of autumn, when the perfume and dried fruit seem to presage the coming season.
Next up on the YS sample tour is another excellent young tea from Bang Dong village. The aroma of the dry leaf is uniquely toffee-like and reminds me of my favorite candy bar: Skor! The first steeps are floral with a caramel sweetness and a nice mouth-coating viscosity. A luxurious creaminess emerges around steep three or four along with a tip-of-the-tongue sweetness that persists through the 10 or so steeps.
This tea really performs best when pushed to 30 seconds or so; the creaminess and floral notes are allowed to shine while the bitterness is still kept at bay.
Another very satisfying raw pu-erh which deserves a place in my decidedly lo-fi storage area—a kitchen cabinet that my wife grudgingly sacrificed to my addiction.
Scott Wilson is spot-on with his description of this high-elevation tea, which coats the mouth with a pleasant lubricating sweetness and remains balanced and free from bitterness and astringency through many steepings. Prominent mineral, hay, and soy notes linger in the throat. I feel joyful, calm and focused after drinking this tea; any caffeine effects are sublimated in favor of positive energy.
This is a very fresh tasting and delightful tea that is an absolute pleasure to drink right now and a bargain to boot! If I had any kind of influence I would fear that broadcasting its under-the-radar excellence may cause a run on this sheng, but as it is, I urge anyone interested in a daily drinker to give it a try.
I’m a big fan of Man Zhuan shengs and this one in particular. It starts out soft and minty with a hint of lemon. The mid-steeps present a flavor reminiscent of icy-cold mountain spring water with a sweetness that coats the throat and a pleasant touch of bitterness to keep you honest. The tea has a calming energy and good endurance.
This is an exquisite black tea with a flavor profile unlike any other I’ve tried. A trinity of flavors (spearmint, candy-apple and fresh tomato) in perfect harmony create a really special brew which leaves a wonderful tingling sensation in the mouth. I might shorten the steep next time to eliminate the modicum of bitterness. I’m looking forward to trying the Wild Elephant from TS soon.
My love for mountains and cold weather draws me to high elevation teas and for no other reason than that (and the entertaining session on teadb.org with Crimson Lotus) I bought a cake of Whispering Sunshine. I’m glad I did—it’s a lovely tea to drink now with a pale pinkish yellow broth and a nutty, evergreen profile that coats the mouth and tongue with a light effervescence.
I pushed the middle steeps to about 30 seconds and was presented with a subtle smokiness that perfectly complements the rock candy sweetness on the tip of the tongue. The energy in the leaves is perfect: buoying but not overwhelming. An excellent tea at this price point and one I’ll surely reorder.