104 Tasting Notes
A very lovely dancong! The dry leaves are dark and spindly, with a fragrance similar to other dancongs I had tried—citrus, honey, and incense, but with more of a floral perfume that was unique to this one. The brewed tea is intoxicatingly fragrant. In terms of flavor, in addition to the very clear honeyed citrus sweetness, there’s also a hint of roasted nuts, and a different sort of quality that I associate with other oolongs like shui xian—a kind of sweet, aromatic roastiness. It’s not a “heavy” tea, but somehow an intense one.
This tea has grown on me a lot. I’d said a while back that I couldn’t get an enjoyable Western-styled brew out of it, but that has changed since then, and it’s become a very nice tea to have on hand at work. Love the cocoa, malt, and the overall “texture” of it—it’s rich without being sweet, complex without being challenging. It’s taken me a while to love, but it’s a really lovely cozy tea as the weather is slowly getting cooler.
The dry tea for this one comes in little fuzzy golden coils. The name is very accurate! The dry aroma is earthy, with pumpkin or squash notes, like a lighter version of Verdant Tea’s Golden Fleece, which is the only other experience I have with a “golden” Yunnan black tea.
During brewing, the little snails unfurl fully, and the liquor becomes a golden orange color. The taste is rich, again having some mellow pumpkin in the profile, which becomes quite harmonious with delicate sweetness, a hint of something cocoa-like, and an identifiable, crisp and clean black tea fragrance. The finish is very smooth.
Being curious, I brewed Golden Snail and Golden Fleece side by side. The biggest difference might be color—Golden Snail leaned warmer while the Golden Fleece liquor was more green-tinged. In terms of taste, they are very similar, with Golden Snail having less of that lingering buttery finish. But the best qualities of both teas are very close to each other. After trying to compare, I poured the remainders of the two cups together, and that was somehow even better. In order for them to balance each other, there had to be a difference, I just haven’t put my finger on it yet.
I may cold brew this one later to see if I can bring out the full extent of its attributes, and any subtle differences. (After all, cold brewing got Golden Fleece its 100 point rating so it’s only fair!)
New tea from Whispering Pines, and 100th tasting note!
This tea is very pleasing to look at, coming in the form of little buds with silver down on them. Once brewed, the buds open up slightly. The aroma is, surprisingly, a lighter version of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, with musky pine and longan fruit sweetness. The taste is much more subtle and faintly sweet. It reminds me of a southern California garden in full sun with the fragrance of drying herbs, but not many flowers. Looking at the description later, rosemary was probably what I was thinking of, we have plenty of that around here! A very enjoyable light tea that I will experiment more with.
(This tea is now sold as Yabao on the website instead of Winter White Buds.)
New tea (hooray!) but one that I can’t add to my cupboard or the database, because, well…it just says “tea” on the package. It’s a green tea from China, and while it comes in a tin, the packaging is not very pretentious or gifty, which raises my hopes.
The leaves are flat and pressed-looking, with fine silver hairs. There’s a warm, vegetal and bread-like aroma. The brewed liquor is pale gold, and the taste is initially very subtle and light compared to what the aroma might suggest. Mellow and lightly grassy, with just a hint of richer flavors, and something I can’t quite put my finger on that is the most surprising note in the background, which leads to a stronger finish. This morning I just can’t seem to think of the right word for it. It’s a good standard green tea to have on hand.
With no new teas for a while, I’ve had some time to experiment with the existing (and slowly decreasing) supply of teas I already have. And I can safely say that of the ones from Verdant Tea, this is the one that I would order again. It’s complex, but in such a way that every note in the complexity is enjoyable. Slower brews were the key here; I’d previously noted that it could be too sweet with gongfu-style infusions, but that’s not an issue with my regular steep times of three minutes or so in a large cup. The little bit of astringency that comes out balances the sweet notes, and isn’t unpleasant at all. As for the other components, they are all still there and I love them.
Sample cube 18/18!
This one had a very intense citrus aroma as soon as I opened the package. The sachet contains not only green tea bits but also very finely chopped pieces of something lighter, which I think is lemongrass in spite of it not being labelled on the package. (Later I checked the website and lemongrass was indeed one of the ingredients). The brewed tea still has that very strong citrus scent, almost like lemon drop candies. The flavor is quite mellow, not really sharp or vegetal for a green, with that familiar lemongrass zest. It’s not bad, though not something I’d seek out often.
And that’s it for the sampler! Now back to being busy…