218 Tasting Notes
This is a reliable Assam with the distinct aroma and taste. The dry leaf aroma was not much to write home about: some maltiness and dry stone fruit. The tea that I prepared in the Western style, though, had a quite distinct fragrance that is hard to describe: wet leather, figs, golden tips… but something else that eluded me.
The taste was pleasant, with the dreaded Assamica maltiness being quite restrained and not overpowering other flavors present: baked bread, apricot, chocolate, plums, honey. This tea was not that far from some dianhongs I had tried. The expected malty aftertaste rounded out the impression.
To be honest, there was nothing in it to wow and excite, but also absolutely nothing offputting and disappointing. Plus some character. This tea is a good choice for a breakfast tea that does not clobber you, but rather offers an opportunity to explore its personality while simultaneously giving you a jolt of energy.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Chocolate, Fig, Leather, Malt, Plum
I bought 50g off the original 1 kg brick. The pressed tea crumbles easily and is getting infused fast. Not much of a smell besides some vague decay.
The taste is dark and gloomy: decayed wood, old leaves, cocoa, muted dark chocolate, some undetermined expired spices. A barely perceptible touch of the honeyed sweetness mercifully enlivens this somber affair. Finally, this tea has a powerful and lasting aftertaste of stale dark chocolate and last-year leaves – for those who are into this kind of things.
This is decidedly not my kind of tea. Drinking it on on a cold, clammy November morning is coming uncomfortably close to the monastic mortification of the flesh and spirit.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Decayed Wood, Spices
This is a fu made by a well-known Yi Qing Yuan factory. The golden flowers are clearly visible, which is while not essential is still visually pleasing.
This tea is not tightly compressed and can be broken off by hand easily. However, it does require some time to absorb the water and get going and its taste improves with subsequent steepings ( I had it Western), which you can get quite a few out of it.
The liquor is pale and the tea itself has a typical fu taste of a very light decay, metallic sourness, minerals, light berries, figs, tobacco and gentle melon-like sweetness. It produces a very long pleasantly sweet-and-sour aftertaste. The flavors are nicely balanced and complimentary. I enjoyed drinking this tea at different times and in different moods, i.e. the versatility is strong.
In summary, it is not a showy knock-out but a very reliable and solid performer for those of us who appreciate dark teas.
Flavors: Berry, Decayed Wood, Fig, Melon, Metallic, Pleasantly Sour, Tobacco
This is a nice Darjeeling-type tea. It’s quite green. and aromatic – in fact, its aroma was the strongest point for me with intense meadow, hay and fruit fragrances. Prepared gongfu the taste was similarly intense, sweet and floral, with a typical Darjeeling profile. Muscatel was not too prominent, but flowers and stone fruit notes came out quite strong. Eastkyteaguy and Leafhopper identified individual flavors well enough, so I will not go in there.
The disappointing parts in my experience is that the complexity of taste fades quickly – I could not get many quality steepings. Oh, and also it was quite horrible Western style: just a bland undifferentiated sweetness that turned me off enough that I could not finish my cup (which is rare for me). It probably requires a very high leaf-to-water ratio to shine.
After trying it Western I prepared it gongfu and have to bump my rating up a bit. It is way better gongfu. To be certain, it still comes out as rather simple, straightforward tea: the taste is dominated by the bittersweet chocolate, complemented in the first couple of infusion by baked potato and starting in the 5th – by honey and sugared fruit.
There are way to many chocolaty teas to get overtly excited, but it does acquire a certain depth, balance, and pleasant aftertaste – all that I did not find when I steeped it Western style. Also, it produced a remarkably large number of infusions (8 or 10) without tasting tired: actually, I enjoyed the late infusions the most – when the bitter chocolate got muted and honey+fruit intensified.
Flavors: Fruity, Honey
It is a simple, unpretentious tea. The delicate fine leaves produce the brew with floral and “tippy” aroma. Th e taste is quite typical for a Jin Jun Mei: chocolate, sweet potato, clover, light fruit. Not complex at all, but clean, light and hits all the right notes for this type of tea. Regrettably, not much of an aftertaste, but at least it re-steeps well (I had it Western).
Edit: I bumped this tea’s rating up a bit after having it gongfu – it was way better that way.
After trying it I have not been neither disappointed nor excited. Given that Jin Jun Mei is the current rage and the prices it commands are often exorbitant this is not a bad deal at all for someone who wants its taste profile on a budget. I will gladly finish the ounce I had purchased but unlikely to order it again.
Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Sweet Potatoes
A Japanese black, which is an intriguing rarity for me. It is broken in tiny pieces with generous helping of stems and tinged with black around the corners: like a weird bancha trying to be rebellious and hip.
Not much of a dry leaf smell: grass, hay, roasted nuts. The wet leaf and the brewed tea itself has a very distinct smell that is hard to describe: there is certainly grass, leafy greens, but also seafood/seaweed and some kind of East Asian spices (soy sauce?). The taste is spicy, umami, pleasantly sour and pungent. Very Japanese, to be sure. It lingers in a big way.
In summary, it is quite distinct and unusual in many aspects. Memorable too. This is probably one of those love/hate teas – and I loved it.
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Pleasantly Sour, Roast Nuts, Seaweed, Soy Sauce, Spicy, Spinach, Umami
This is a typical tea from East Africa, the only differentiating trait is its dry leaf appearance: the leaves are small and twisty, which reminded me of some Chinese reds like Keemuns.
Everything else is rather typical: not much of wet or dry leaf smell besides vague maltiness. The taste is robust but not rough: malt,bread, clear astringency. It is pretty much Lipton but how Lipton would taste if it prioritized taste and storage as much as cost-efficiency.It takes milk and sugar well and if one craves for that traditional English tea experience this is the tea that would suffice. On the other hand, this tea offers nothing original and interesting, so it would probably disappoint more adventurous tea drinkers.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Malt
I agree with most of the previous reviews for this tea: it is indeed smooth, not astringent at all and full of stone fruit (plum, apricot, cherry), raisins and baked apples. The best part is the dry leaf appearance: very intricately rolled into wavy, twisty curls.
When I took a first sip (Western style) I thought “Whoa, that’s a unique taste with its combination of sweet and sour!” – but that feeling dissipated quickly: this tea does not grow on you much as you drink it . The main flavors, why pleasant, come as somewhat underpowered, and the tail of the taste is disappointingly sour. It is not a bad tea, but I had decidedly more balanced and lively teas with the stone fruit profile.
Flavors: Apricot, Candied Apple, Cherry, Plum, Raisins, Sour, Stonefruit, Sweet Potatoes
I had it Western style. The dry leaf is long, remarkably wiry and gnarly, which is pleasant. Its smell is restrained, with notes of fresh hay,malt, honey and pepper. The wet leaf acquires undertones of ash, earth, molasses and overripe berries.
The liquor is pale and it takes some time for it to darken appreciably. The taste is similarly understated: baked bread, malt, molasses, smoke, dark cherries, citrus zest. It has a good lasting power and could be sipped for a long time at different temperatures. A nice and balanced aftertaste.
Overall, it is a very enjoyable restrained tea with the profile of mostly baked bread + cherry/molasses sweetness. No astringency whatsoever. It could be a reliable daily drinker.
Flavors: Ash, Baked Bread, Berries, Cherry, Citrus Zest, Hay, Honey, Malt, Molasses, Smoke