420 Tasting Notes
Now that this tea has mellowed from the fall the roasted notes have combined fortuitously with the other flavours in the tea to create a flavour note that reminds me at first taste if carob. I could also see it tasting like charred sweet potato skins to others. This is mixed with cream and a dryish cocoa note. Once the carob settles back it reveals a beautiful mixture of caramel, cinnamon, and an amber note with a hint of vanilla orchid and a creamy plum note. It is soft, sweet, and spicy at the same time. The tea feels creamy on the tongue but this dissolves to a bubbling light astringency to reveal a slightly cooling and drying sensation which could be interpreted as woodiness. My leaf is slightly glossy and slightly twisted flat blades. They have the same char and carob smell as the initial flavour. A pleasant and easy to drink tea and quite different from my other wild black tea.
I just lost this note when my tablet froze and reset itself grrr.
This is a lovely tea!
In celebration of their upcoming launch on March 1st, I decided to spend time with the samples that Tea Ave scent to me. Thank you very much! They were beautifully presented and the teaware will be much loved. I decided to try the Magnolia oolong first as Jasmine is a bed-time tea for me and I have more time to dedicate to the Lishan tomorrow.
This tea is traditionally scented and uses Alishan Jin Xuan grown at 1200m altitude as it’s base tea. I like Jin Xuan but I prefer when they are on the fruitier side versus the milkier side. This one appears to be more fruity so I am happy.
I used less leaf than the 8g recommended because I usually prefer to under leaf green Oolong’s. I find that it tends to minimize the vegetal flavours and maximized the floral notes which I love. I used 4.5g of tea which covered the bottom of my 120ml gaiwan.
the dry leaf’s scent was fruity and fresh with fruit and floral notes, as well as hints of second cut hay ( alfalfa) mixed with clover and a hint of something that reminds me of jube jubes.
The leaves were mostly a darker green that was slightly muddied but not quite olive. They were tightly rolled with some stems visible. The tea also included some strips of dark brown which I assume are bits of Magnolia flowers.
After a sixty second steep at boiling the tea yielded a scent that was soft, floral and warm. It was slightly candy like and reminded me of the sugary smell of cotton candy. There was a crisp green scent above the sugar which was a blend of grape hyacinth and blanched snap peas.
The first sip tasted very smooth and slightly vegetal but the tea quickly became very sweet and candy like. Also present were warm and enveloping floral notes mixed with a cool creamy magnolia note. This was accompanied by the flavour of sun warmed grapes mixed with the tropical warm juices of warm melon and pineapple. As it cooled a green crisp vegetal note appeared. This steep reminded me of German and Alsace white wines.
A 90s second steep yielded a scent that was more intensely fruity in nature and had the addition of cream. There was more melon in the fruit flavour, which was a mix of grape, pineapple and melon. Also present was cream and a spice note that included a mix of spicebush, cinnamon and pineapple chamomile, and a less distinct hyacinth note. The tea remained creamy with a cool crisp undertone. There were crisp greens and sweet floral tones in the aftertaste.
After a two minute steep the tea had a good balance of fruit, floral and vegetal notes in the scent. The vegetal notes moved forward in the flavour and was a little bit bitter, but it opened up quickly to a creamy tropical fruit mixture that then opened up to a warm creamy floral. This floral note really tasted like magnolia in this steep. A chamomile note remained present and a bit of bitter cocoa mixed with the vegetal note.
The last good steep I had was 4 minutes. This one was more floral in scent with hints of lilac mixed with magnolia. It had a sweet vegetal taste with notes of artichoke and corn mixed with lilac, magnolia, hints of tropical fruit, cream and vanilla, but the flavour was fading.
The spent leaf clusters had up to 4 leaves and a bud on them and were a good size, but were not as large as some I have had. There was very little to no colour on the leaf margins.
Altogether I very much enjoyed this tea. Thanks Tea Ave for the sample!
This tea has the dark thin flatter leaves of the traditional gongfu tea with occasional bits of gold. The dry leaf smells grainy and malty with cocoa underneath.
I followed Nannuoshan’s recommended parameters if 3g/150ml which is slightly more leaf than I normally use but it did not make the tea taste bitter.
First steep: 45s the broth is light copper brown, when steeping I smelled a waft of malty chocolate. The steeped tea also had hints of tart fruit, caramel and cinnamon in its scent.
The flavour top notes were a mix of barley, tart fruit and malt, with cocoa, cinnamon and caramel underneath. The taste captured all the notes of the scent.
As it cooled, the caramel notes and malty chocolate notes intensified. A sweet spicy floral note also appeared. Hints of warm plum and a faint hint of mandarin appeared in the taste as well.
2nd steep: 60s : Malt opened up to caramel floral spice and tart sweet fruit, caramel and chocolate in the aftertaste. Strong flavour of floral spice and caramel at the end of the sip.
3rd steep: 60s more grainy with slightly citrus like fruit tones added to the other flavours. Again floral, and slight tropical fruit note in aftertaste.
4th steep 90s heavier malt with deeper darker tones, floral, caramel, spice tones still present.
Altogether this was quite a nice tanyang. The fruit was quite balanced in it( sometimes I find them too bright and need to let the tea age a bit before I enjoy it) and it is maltier than some examples I have had which gives it a nice body.
Thanks Nannuoshan for the opportunity to try this tea!
Mystery Shou Tuocha aka as Chinese Apothecary Tuocha
Herb Depot Toronto
Sadly, this is my first and only tea for the day.
However, this tea is easily drinkable, very cheap, and is a pretty good entry into shou and is cheap enough that I don’t feel guilty if I don’t steep it into exhaustion.
The tuocha itself is composed of the broken leaves you expect from cheap tuocha. There are flecks of gold among the dark leaves.
The scent of the tuocha is pretty innocuous, a little bit barn yardy, but no fishy smell. I have always rinsed the tuocha, but I think I could get away without it with this tea.
The first steeps brew very dark and gradually fade to a peachy brown, gold colour.
I usually steep it in a 120ml gaiwan.
The brewed scent includes: camphor leather, smoke, red fruit, cocoa, a bit of a yeast note.
My first steep is usually between 2-5s and I increase in 2 second intervals until it weakens at which, I increase intervals. This tea has lasted me over 16 steeps before, though I have had more resilient Tuocha before.
The first steeps can be dense in texture and coffee like, but the tea yields flavour notes of : cream, red fruit, cocoa, earth, caramel, ash, insence smoke, smoke, camphor, cedar, loam, a slight marine vegetative note and malt and yeast.
Towards later steeps the tea becomes sweeter with cream and fruit and caramel notes having higher prominence. The tea is quite smooth though there is a cooling spice sensation that develops in the aftertaste.
Altogether easy to drink and it makes me less afraid of trying their Sheng.
This turned out to be my favourite Yancha of this sample package provided by Gabriele and Nannuoshan. It had Avery nice nix of fruit, spice, floral and wheatgrass notes and made me think of spring.
The leaves ranged from olive green to brown with hints of rust. Once I put them into a preheated pot they released a scent that was quite fruity and spicy with hints of cherry, papaya and berries.
I steeped 2g of tea in a 100ml yixing at temperatures between 90-95°C. This tea yielded 10 steeps for me ( 2*60, 2*90, 2*120,150, 210s, 4 and 5min).
In early steeps the scent was fruity with hints of melon, white peach, and cherry mixed with cinnamon, wheatgrass and a bit of vanilla.
Early steeps yielded a wheatgrass flavour opening up to a cantelope cherry blend with cinnamon, cream, clover nectar. The tea had a fruity floral aftertaste with clover nectar and cantelope.
By 90s the tea had a flavour where the notes were well blended and a minetalnote became apparent.
Towards the end the flavour faded towards mineral notes, honey, sweet veg and a bitter sweet cacao note.
This tea was a nice antidote to the wintery weather we’ve been having.
This tea was sourced from the originating village for this type of tea and is the traditional large leaf variety. This tea was pine wood smoked which is a practice becoming more and more regulated in China due to environmental reasons. This tea was smoked. It was from the 2013 harvest so part of the smoke essence has dissipated but the footprint that is left on this tea suggests that it was expertly done as the smoke itself becomes an insence like aspect of the flavour which enhances and does not overpower the other flavours in the tea.
The leaves are quite large and loosely twisted. The leaf is a dull light grey brown to a charcoal black with hints of gold tips.
I steeped 3g of this tea in a 150ml gaiwan over 6 sessions ( 45, 60, 60, 70, 90, 120s)
In scent texture and flavour it is most similar to a tea I have from a Wuyi producer from Aliexpress. It is neither as sweet, fruity or chocolatey as some teas I have had of this type, but all of these are present as well as a floral note and a insence like note that lends a bit of a savoury note to the tea.
The dry leaf smells of a mix of tart fruit, malt and grain, raisins and a bit of smoke.
Once steeped the tea smelled of cocoa, caramel, hints of smoke and ash, a spice note that was partially cinnamon and partially a note of dressed leather, hints of longan and a fruit note that was chocolate mixed with blackcurrant.
The tea retained a nice level of roasted light smoke notes in the flavour that contributed to a spice note like that of a chipotle sauce that mixed well with cocoa and caramel notes. There is a floral note that mixes with the caramel that intensifies as it cools. Also present is a bitter note that is a bit vegetal and a bit malty.
Later steeps exhibited a bit more of the tart fruit notes found in the dry leaf with stone fruit, longan and currants appearing. The caramel fruit and floral notes switch prominence as the tea cools. The tea has just enough astringency to come off as refreshing when steeped at 90°C. Towards the end the tea became more grainy with a bit of cream. The tea had a nice body but was not as creamy or oolong as some teas of this type have been for me.
My favourite steep was probably the third steep as the scent of the brewed tea was very beautiful and the caramel and floral notes were perfectly balanced and were countered by the smoke and cocoa.
Altogether an interesting and more savoury example of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong.
Thanks Nannuoshan for the sample!
This was an interesting and subtle Yancha. Later steeps reminded me of a perfume I have with mineral tones, hints of bergamot with its citrus, spicy floral tones, spice and hints of aromatic wood. I prepared it gongfu style (2g/100ml) in a yixing pot but I think next time I would choose a gaiwan to better appreciate it. The dry leaf smelled very fresh and grainy. They were very large and thick and were loosely twisted and ranged in colour from dried up moss yellow green to dark grey toned chocolate.
My first steep was 60 seconds. The resulting broth smelled floral, a green cool floral like lilies or some orchids, with hints of hay cocoa and cream. This steep had a rather interesting mix of flavours with a mix of floral notes, wheatgrass, and plum with cream and cocoa underneath at first. As it cooled the tea added a hint of cinnamon, cherry and a very faint bit of mango to the flavour. The tea created a cooling sensation in the mouth.
The second steep (also 60s) was sweeter with more fruit and a bit of honey underneath. The floral notes were also stronger and mixed with the mineral notes to create a flavour that was slightly herbal. The spice and cream remained whereas the cocoa weakened significantly. I found a bit of peach in the aftertaste.
By the third steep (90s) the herbaceous floral blended with the fruit in a way that was subtle and quite perfumy. The cream was missing and hints of citrus appeared. The tea was spicy on the tongue and the peach once again appeared on the aftertaste.
This flavour profile continued into lasted steeps (90, 120, 180s) with the tea maintaining a mineral, floral, citrus, spice profile. The later steeps yielded a bit of aromatic wood and vegetal notes as well.
The flavour was never intense and I found the mineral notes to be quite intense at times with this tea, but I enjoyed the blend of fruit, floral, and mineral notes in this tea. Thank you very much Nannuoshan for the opportunity to try this tea.
This tea tastes very much like a brighter lighter cousin of a Xiang luo Keemun I have. It has bright winey fruit tones on top, which come off as plum and blackcurrant in early steeps, mixed with the upper tones of malt underneath this is bitter cocoa, Ovaltine, barley like grainy notes, that open up to the light and bright floral notes I find in Keemun which are kind of a cross between a lemony green floral and spicy carnation. There are also nice touches of spice and burnt butter toffee notes especially in the first steep. The tea is very light in body but is given texture by the sharp upper notes and a bit of astringency which emphasise the light bubbly note of the tea. The tea has a moderate tone of caffeine which contribute to the tea making me feel alert and refreshed.
The dry leaves are very thin twisted needles that are dark brown with thin lines of gold and copper. The leaf smells of bright citrus and grainy notes.
I steeped 1.5tsp (2g) in a 150ml gaiwan. Altogether I steeped it 5 times ( 45, 45, 60, 90, and 180s) at 90°C. The first three steeps were significantly consistent in flavour profile and texture after which the flavour faded significantly.
I really enjoy the sense of well being this tea leaves me with as well as the bright, sunny nature of this teas flavour profile. I definitely wouldn’t mind revisiting this tea in the future. Thanks very much Nannuoshan for sharing it with me!
I once had a seller tell me that this was a man’s tea in China, just like Lapsang Souchong ( generally the low t no smoke iteration) is a woman’s tea. I’m not sure why specifically, maybe it has to do with the scent of cinnamon from baked goods after all that is why many women’s perfumes have heavy doses of vanilla and spice, or maybe it has to do with the heat it can create in your mouth? I took this with a grain of salt as I am a woman and I tend to like this style of tea and currently have a few in my cupboard, and was more than happy to select this tea as a sample during Nannuoshan’s offering.
This particular style off oolong is one of the Wuyishan yancha ( rock teas) which are bar type Oolong’s famous as a group for having mineral notes and often floral, fruity, cream, and cocoa notes. The cream in these teas is often distinct and often creates the sensations in my throat that I get when I have dairy vs the taste of cream I get in rolled Oolong’s.
Rou gui is also known as cinnamon or cassia rock tea and often exhibits distinct cinnamon like scents and at times in the taste and spiciness of the tea itself.
This tea from Nannuoshan is from a 2013 harvest because of that most of the flavour and scent notes from its roasting have dissipated leaving a tea that smelled distinctly floral when I first opened the bag, and then settled into a fruity vegetal fragrance. The leaves are large and relatively wide and range in colour from cocoa brown with a tinge of burgundy to an off black.
This picture shows Nannuoshan’s tea in comparison to the teas I have from other companies.
I steeped 2g of tea in 100ml yixing pot at around 90°C for this sampling.
My first steep was 45s as I usually find 60s to be too intense for me when I steep dark Oolong’s.
The colour of the broth is a slightly peach toned golden brown. The initial scent is quite fruity with notes of peach and a hint of lychee deepening to notes of bittersweet chocolate, cherry, a hint of roasted grain, vanilla, cinnamon and a very faint hint of nutmeg.
The tea tastes of stewed peaches and cherry with cream, a roasted char note, mineral notes and a green vegetal note which is a cross between cut grass, hay and roasted vegetables. There is a hint of clover and spice in the initial taste. At first the tea leaves a tingling on the roof and back of my mouth. This feeling of spice intensifies in the aftertaste which is mostly of cream, spice and fruit notes with a bitter cocoa undertone. The spice is cooling at first and then becomes peppery and warming.
I resteeped the tea another 6 times (45, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 300s)
The heady fruit tones dissipated by the 4 the steep with mineral, floral, spice and grainy tones moving forward in the profile. The floral notes ranged from sakura, to rose and Osmanthus. I also tasted notes of honey and a bit of musk in later steeps. The spice at times is mixed with a hint of bitterness that can emphasise the mineral notes in the tea.
This tea seems to lie somewhere in between the flavour profiles of the rou gui’s I have samples, being neither as floral or as fruity as the others. It does have a nice balance of flavours and creates a strong spicy sensation in the mouth which I find pleasant. It is not as resilient as some I have sampled but the first 4 steeps were really flavourful and memorable.
Thank you so much Nannuoshan to the sample. I always appreciate the chance to try another offering of one of my favourite styles of tea.