426 Tasting Notes
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.
I had no intention of buying a Taiwanese oolong when I went to this teashop on Monday but the owner and I started discussing teas we enjoy and she wanted to show me this one. Once I smelled it I was sold. It smelled like candy; a slightly floral, fruity candy with hints of melon and stone fruit and spice.
The dry leaf is a tightly rolled glossy blue spruce green with bits of yellowish olive.
I used enough leaf to cover the bottom of 150 ml gaiwan and gave the leaves a rinse. I used water @96°C.
I hoped for a resilient tea as the seller suggested this tea could be steeped 6-8 times even using western style brewing and so far it’s delivered. I am still enjoying this tea after the 11 th steep and it is still imparting a well balanced sweet fruity spicy floral tea that has a creamy body and produces a tingling in my mouth. I started with short steeps because of the intensity of fragrance. My times so far have been 5,7,10,12,15,20,25,30,40,60,80s.
Flavour notes I have noted are: cream, tart peach, melon, papaya, pineapple stewed pears, and apricot which appears more towards the end; honey, candied rose petals, gardenia, a bit of lilac, and magnolia, with the floral notes heading towards a nutmeg spice later on mixed with a creamy cool magnolia and orchid; corn, sweet vegetal notes with a bit of artichoke later on, and occasional hints of sandalwood and citrus notes. The sweetness and floral spice mix often intensifies in the aftertaste. Overall this tea is leaving me feeling balanced and cleansed and I look forward to continuing this session. What I have noticed is this tea appreciates a rest between steeps. Once I have allowed it to rest this tea tends to have a more balanced flavour profile. This tea is also very well balanced between it’s floral and fruity elements with both being well present but with neither overpowering the other. I’m looking forward to continuing this session and am enjoying my impulse purchase.
I’m finishing off this session after 19 steeps. (The final ones being 130, 180, 240, 300, 300, 360, 600 and 600s). The tea still retained a fruity honeyed sweetness with spice and still produced a tingling in my mouth.
This tea is a nice resilient tea with a lively cream, and sweet vegetable flavour that became sweeter and spicier towards the middle grouping of the 11 steeps I gave it ( 45s, 25s, 30s, 40s, 45s, 50s, 60s,90s,110s, 3min, +5min (after a rinse). It also taught me that I think I prefer fruitier Jin Xuan’s ( this is quite a nice tea but I am finding I prefer either really fruity or really floral green Oolong’s).
The leaves were a bright colour with noticeable attached stems and smelled of cream, peach, and clover.
This tea needed a noticeable longer first steep than some of my green Oolong’s. I tried 25s at first and found it to be quite weak. The broth is a light yellow that deepens in later steeps.
The tea smelled of corn, milk, and peach and citrus.
I found the following flavour notes: corn, peach, cream, sweet coked vegetables, citrus, honey, a light soft floral, lilac, and indistinct spice.
The tea retained a thick creamy body throughout the steeps without much of the tingling sensations I get in my mouth from green rolled Oolong’s.
Altogether a nice tea that delivers the notes promised.
Thank you Angel and Teavivre! This sample has taught me a bit about my preferences when it comes to Jin Xuan. I appreciate the opportunity.
The first time I tried this tea its beautiful, soft floral flavour and the beautiful colour of the tea stayed with me. It was not as biting a floral as I usually prefer in green Oolong’s but it had distinct lilac, gardenia and magnolia notes that remained distinct above it’s other notes despite its soft creamy nature.
It’s been awhile since I first tried this tea but I recently had time to revisit it and what I stated above still stands.
The dry leaf ranges from a pale milky green to spruce green and has a bright floral scent tempered by citrus and green notes. tightry leaf ranges from a pale milky green to spruce green and has a bright floral scent tempered by citrus and green notes. Then leaves are a bit more loosely wound than some rolled Oolong’s I have seen.
The following are my impressions of this session:
40s colour pale gold green tinged yellow.
Scent, bright yet soft green and citrus tinged floral, with hints of lilac, the creaminess of magnolia, and a bit of gardenia.
Soft but rich flavour. Citrus note on top opening up to a green floral note that is almost freesia, and then suddenly dissolving into honey with a bit of peaches and cream. Hints of cut grass mixed with the green floral, and the slightly drying citrus note dissolves into cream. Aftertaste of creamy green floral and honey.
20s. Above plus a hint of spinach in the scent. The event is also sweeter.
Citrus with a hint of spinach immediately opening to lilac and honey. There is much more spice in this steep. Cream, peach, and cool green notes become apparent as it cools. It leaves a tingling on the upper roof of my mouth. There is a floral spicy and cooling aftertaste.
22s. More blended a fragrance with all of the above notes plus magnolia.
Sender in body with cream, green,spicy floral notes, and a hint of spinach up front. The spice lingers and builds with the following honey notes. The aftertaste is a spicy floral that is first warming than becomes cooling.
26s good blend of all the flavours with green floral and honey up front with a hint of vanilla opening up to a slightly bitter spice note that tastes a little bit like chewing on cinnamon sticks. This sweet spice is mixed with a bit of spinach. Cream blends the early and later notes together.
30s the floral is a little bit warmer and more enveloping it is still a green floral but is more gardenia like with its rich heady fragrance and is full of spice, the honey, cream and vegetative notes are very much in the background. I love this steep.
35s. Creamier in mouth feel and taste and sweeter with honey, cream and magnolia opening to cream, honey and spice with a very faint hint of vanilla and spinach and a hint of stevia, warming opening up to cooling and a lingering mix of honey and spice. Another wonderful steep.
40s similar to above with the introduction of a mineral note and nutmeg. Lingering honey and cooling spice.
50s spice and a soft floral up front opening to green notes and nutmeg mixed with honey and spinach with hints of mineral notes and cream. Creamy on the tongue.
70s similar to above with mineral and nutmeg notes moving forward and slightly less honey.
110s cream, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon and spicy warm flowers.
180s cream and honey with nutmeg and vanilla dominant with lilac in the background. The tea still has a creamy and thick body.
320s cream, spice, gardenia, hints of cornsilk, honey, spinach and a mineral tone and a brighter green note. The tea is still yielding a dense creamy body.
This is a really lovely tea for when your craving a soft creamy floral. I would definitely consider picking up some of this in the future.
Thanks too Angel and the ever generous Teavivre for the chance to sample their tea.
This is an Assam that reminds me of a Darjeeling it smells of muscatel, honey, peaches, and pastry and brews to a copper gold red.
Top notes are peaches and muscatel with honey opening up to malt and grainy pastry notes and an indistinct bitter note. It is a bright and light tea with enough astringency to give it body. It resteeps very well with a consistent flavour and a little more body. This is an interesting tea but not at all what I expect in an Assam. The leaf is not fully oxidised and contains green and light yellow blades among darker pieces. I have never had an Assam processed in this way and it’s an interesting experience.
The following is an interesting article on the history of this estate and Assam teas in general.