7 Tasting Notes

82

~5g/100ml

Dry leaves appearance – in between modern, bright green TGY and typical roasted ball-rolled oolongs that I’ve had, though it means closer to the former. There is a beautiful orangey-red tint.

Dry leaves smell – right away, I got the overpowering scent of Rice Krispies right after they’ve had milk poured over them. It reminds me of my bad childhood breakfasts lol. Strangely enough, I also got a slight, slight hint of sun-dried tomatoes.

Wet leaf smell – Rice Krispies again, but this time the milkiness is much more pronounced and there is a lovely undertone of spring wildflowers; there was also a slight hint of cacao from the second infusion onwards

Liquor – a bright yellow on the first infusion that gradually evolved into a lovely sunset orange as the session progressed

Texture – somewhat thin in the mouth, but extremely soft and creamy

Taste – the taste really translates to the smell on this one, and I can barely sense anything else, besides a sweetness as though I added sugar to the milk in the Rice Krispies. The taste takes me right back to drinking the last bit of sugary milk from the bowl. This is an interesting one.

Empty cup – a light creamed corn scent like good Ali Shan, but not quite as potent and obvious

Mouth finish – very, very lubricating; as soon as the sip goes down, the milkiness explodes on the palate and leaves a lingering sweetness

Wet leaves – beautiful and full rusty-red leaves that look thin and delicate, but are actually quite hardy. They almost feel like wax paper between the fingers.

Body feel – a strong, grounding qi that came on midway through the second cup; very calming and centering; a good tea to drink if you need to take a step back from life and reset yourself.

This tea is right up my alley; in fact, it may even be my favourite ball-rolled oolong I’ve ever tried – and that’s saying a lot. Though it’s a pretty straightforward tea that doesn’t evolve too much throughout the session, every aspect of it is so enjoyable that I don’t mind at all. I’m kicking myself for only getting 100g of it.

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76

7g/100ml

Dry leaf appearance – medium-small, wispy leaves, relatively light compression. I’m far from an expert, but it doesn’t look as highly fermented as some ripes either. The leaves are still well-defined and “alive” looking.

Dry leaf smell – date syrup, maple syrup, forest floor in spring, raisins, rye bread, brownies/blondies

Wet leaf smell – cinnamon bun with caramel and pecans, hazelnuts, Nutella, buttery brownie batter, cookies and cream, the slightest hint of coconut

Liquor – a tiny bit cloudy; deep dark with a beautiful brandy-ish red undertone

Texture – quite thick and pretty soft, yet there is an edge to the softness. It’s not quite snappy going down, but it still makes its presence known.

Taste – the earthiness really comes out in the flavour, but it is tempered by a light sweetness that tastes a tiny bit like candied pecans to me; an interesting interplay between sweetness and bitterness

Empty cup – a tropical rainforest smell with a hint of wet pile smell leftover (I didn’t really notice it throughout the drinking process other than this, but for some reason I seem to be immune to it most of the time.)

Mouth finish – it leaves a thick coating on the tongue and palate with a pleasant bittersweet taste that brings a slight increase of saliva production

Wet leaves – of all the different mini-cakes, this one seems to separate the most easily, and it is mostly nice, full, healthy looking leaves. Though I don’t really know what I’m talking about, I stand by the earlier statements I made in the dry leaf section.

Body feel – this tea has a very light, chill energy, which makes it a great morning tea, because who wants to get slapped in the face with an overpowering with first thing in the morning?

All in all, this is a solid shou, though I admittedly prefer others like Waffles and Smoove Cocoa. It’s the least sweet of the three, so it’s probably better for those who prefer a bit more bitterness in their ripes. Either way, it’s worth a try, and I am a huge fan of all the W2T mini cakes. They are perfect for travelling teaheads.

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79

~7g/100ml
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Dry leaf appearance – medium-sized leaves and a fair number of silky, golden-haired buds distributed throughout

Dry leaf smell – menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, tobacco, dried apricots, slight hint of wintergreen

Wet leaf smell – boiled plums, raisin bread pudding, golden raisins, dark bread dough, slight tartness, raisin bread french toast – the smell of it caramelizing on the pan, autumn leaves, slight smokiness, burnt tobacco,

Liquor – deep golden yellow that is well on its way to becoming a nice orange hue

Texture – thick and very soft; gentle going down the throat; coats the tongue and palate and leaves the slightest tingle

Taste – immediately sweet like some kind of light nectar or syrup but it leads into a relatively standard raw taste; flowery, but I’m not sure what – perhaps orange blossoms; there is a hint of a Grand Marnier-ish flavour; very sweet at first, moves into a savoury bready taste, but finishes in a slight almost pharmaceutical bitterness – but not in a bad way, as strange as it sounds. Each sip is like a little journey

Empty cup – it’s like a simple syrup that has been lightly infused with a citrus zest

Mouth finish – the coating lingers and the tingle intensifies – especially on the tip of the tongue – as the pharmaceutical bitterness quickly subsides to produce a very sweet salivation that closely matches the initial taste of the liquor itself

Wet leaf – beautiful, healthy-looking and full leaves and buds for the most part; the few broken leaves are likely my fault since I’m away from home and don’t have access to a proper pick or knife.

Body feel – a light, heady feeling followed the first infusion, and it brings a nice focused feeling. This is another nice one for reading. Edit: by the eighth infusion, I no longer feel capable of reading… This is one strong tea! It’s really turned me inward and I’m now just sitting here staring into space and contemplating life and the nature of reality.

I bought this tea on a whim and it seriously paid off – I love it! I thought it would be interesting to try, especially since I’ve never had a raw in this age-range, but I wasn’t expecting this much! It’s a really engaging tea that goes from sweet and innocent to a burly powerhouse throughout the course of the session, though there is no unpleasant bitterness or astringency. It is a well-rounded and enjoyable daily drinker, though I may have to get another cake to see how it ages out.

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82

7g/100ml

Dry leaf appearance – A decent ratio of glossy, hairy buds to medium-small leaves (I don’t know much about the grade of leaves yet, apart from gong ting and huangpian, so I can’t give an accurate assessment.) Very good-looking material.

Dry leaf smell – dried grass, timothy hay, alfalfa, high quality tobacco, steamed zucchini

Wet leaf smell – more of the above, but the tobacco is more pronounced, herbaceous, sage, tarragon, turkey stuffing, basamati rice with saffron, sour notes

Liquor – goes from a light champagne to a beautiful golden yellow as the steeps progress

Texture – thick and juicy with a nice snap as it hits the back of the throat and goes down; lubricating, but not much of a coating

Taste – a perfect interplay of sweet and savoury; surprisingly tastes more like semi-aged sheng that I’ve had than other yearlings; virtually no astringency, but I do a lot of flash-steeping with this one so I avoid most of it.

Empty cup – there is a slight hint of the Timothy hay from before, but it is married with a delicate floral/bready aroma, almost like something one would expect from a leafier white tea

Mouth finish – coating bypasses to guess and palate and warms the back of the throat as it carries it down; leaves a slight tingle in the tip of the tongue

Wet leaves – the mini-cakes separate much more easily than others (specifically those in the white tea Basics samplers). From what I’ve found in my 5 mini cakes so far, he vast majority of the material seems to consist of a bud and a leaf joined together by a small stem.

Body feel – this tea has a surprisingly strong qi that comes out of nowhere around the second or third steeping and just keeps going and going. It is slightly more energetic than I usually like, but there is a sharp focus that comes with it. I’d imagine this would make it good for gamers and the like, but it also carries a strong creative energy that makes you want to write, paint, or play music. It’s also very good for tarot interpretation if you’re into that sort of thing.

Final thoughts:

This lovely young sheng is like Thanksgiving dinner in a cup, minus the pumpkin pie and noisy relatives. It is an absolute pleasure to drink on every imaginable level, so if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, look no further – this is an incredible tea for the price. It’s one of my favourites right now, and I plan on grabbing a few more mini-tongs as soon as this one is done.

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83

7g/100ml

Dry leaf appeaance – shiny, leathery slickness; slightly bigger, well-defined leaves

Dry smell – earthy, spring forest, cocoa, packed brown sugar, cookie butter, brownie batter

Wet leaf smell – dark chocolate, forest floor, dark caramel, hazelnut truffles, pumpernickel bread, double chocolate cookie dough

Liquor – dark, blood orange, almost burgundy brandy colour; quite opaque but minimal cloudiness

Texture – velvety smooth, quite thick, coats the mouth and throat nicely

Taste – sweet and light, dark chocolate/hazelnut spread over typical earthy shou taste; a tiny bit of a bitter bite at the end that adds a nice balance

Empty cup – light maple syrup

Mouth finish – when the chocolatey sweetness ends and the slight note of bitterness kicks in, the mouth coating sort of explodes and produces a lubricating salivation. A light hint of maple syrup at the back of the throat just like the empty cup smells

Wet leaves – nice, full leaves; a tiny twig or two per mini cake, but it is quite a negligible amount

Body feel – heavy in the head, but it does spread downwards throughout the whole body ending with a nice tingle in the feet. It has a nice, relaxing qi that is nice for kicking back with a good book.

This is probably my favourite Shou that I’ve had so far in my gong fu journey. It has basically everything I could hope for, from the lack of wet-pile taste, to the sweet, well-balanced flavour and velvety texture. Smoove Cocoa has something to offer all the senses, so it’s a great tea to enjoy in a mindful session. I typically like to drink shous when I don’t have much investment in the session itself and just want something nice to sip on, but this is a clear exception.

Kittenna

Forgive me if this has been discussed before but – do you smell the empty cup post-drinking (e.g. “Empty cup – light maple syrup”) or post-pouring-tea-between-vessels? At one point, I noticed that with some teas, after pouring them into my travel mug, the original mug would have an absolutely enchanting aroma, often deliciously sweet, even when the tea itself wasn’t particularly sweet. The smell was kind of addicting, actually. Doesn’t happen for all teas, and is most noticeable with straight blacks/oolongs. Also, only noticeable when I pour a piping hot tea out of one mug into another (maybe something to do with evaporation?)

Anyways, sorry for the ramble; I just don’t recall ever seeing anyone mention that before!

BrewWhatThouWilt

I usually give the empty cup a bit of time to settle after drinking before I smell it, but if I don’t get enough of a scent from that, I try the empty pitcher, which is a good deal wider and deeper. You’ve made me really curious though, so I’m going to try doing it in between pours with the Golden Monkey I’m drinking right now. Thank you!

And no worries at all! I’m always up for tea discussion :) I’m still quite new at this and I don’t have any tea friends offline, so it’s nice to connect with people like this. Happy sipping!

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77

7g in 100 mL gaiwan

Dry leaf appearance – probably made up of lots of broken, smaller leaves, but hard to tell. Good, solid compression but not like a Xiaguan ripe where you have to break the pick to get enough tea to drink.

Dry smell – maple syrup, light chocolate, damp, humid forest in summer months, earthy

Wet smell – sweet, caramelized sugar, creme brule, coffee cake, cinnamon, cinnamon buns, freshly baked old fashioned donuts with glaze, plums, cinnamon raisin bread

Liquor – dark red, almost rose colour on first steep before fully opened. Almost opaque but not yet. On third steep a dark, semi-opaque plum-like colour, almost like a cola

Texture – soft and thick, velvety and smooth

Taste – very, very sweet. Light and sugary, maybe a bit of maple syrup on a sweet waffle or other kind of pastry. Extremely pleasant. Second steep even sweeter. I get a serious baked good taste, maybe a maple donut. A tiny bit of maple sugar candy

Empty vessel – syrupy, but there’s almost a kind of fruitiness along with it, a tiny bit tart. Like blueberry compote. Brandy-ish after third steep

Mouth finish – tingly palate, light coating but not significant. Produced a bit of saliva on the tip of the tongue

Wet leaves – pretty much what you would expect from a typical shou.

Body feel – a bit intense, but almost scattered and confusing Qi, maybe due to the blend or something. Still, not unpleasant.

A solid daily-drinker; definitely a great value for such a low price. Be warned of the possibility of a slight funk, however, as my S.O. thought it smelled fishy (though I didn’t get that myself).

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79

6g in 100mL gaiwan

Dry leaf appearance – tippy, nice blend, rather consistent sizing between leaves

Dry leaf smell – fruit cake, dried fruits, raspberry tart, tart cherries

Wet leaf smell – fruit cake, dried raisins, figs, dates, prunes, plums, maraschino cherries, pipe tobacco, autumn leaves, hint of almond extract, sweet tart candies

Liquor – darker champagne with a little bit of an orange/blush tint. Closer to semi-aged in appearance. Nice clarity

Texture – soft and juicy – incredibly juicy, relatively thick and syrupy.

Taste – soft and sweet, a little bit of pipe tobacco rounded out with honey and date syrup, tiny bit of almond, tart finish, but not astringent. Very well-rounded. Some sort of semi-sweet bread

Empty cup – date syrup, pecan tart

Mouth finish – slight puckering but produces so much lubrication that you don’t even notice. Juicy, bittersweet hui gan. Tingle on the tip of my tongue that spreads down the centre towards the throat. Almost numbs the palate. Candy necklace aftertaste.

Wet leaves – quite a few nice, full buds, relatively small leaves, intact for the most part, but a little bit broken in places – probably my fault from my hack-job with a puerh pick

Body feel – softer qi that feels like it will intensify, but it never seems to come. Mostly in the head, but a light sensation in the joints and muscles.

An extremely well-rounded young sheng. There is almost zero astringency, and the flavour only gets cleaner and softer as you go. I didn’t find too much evolution between steeps, but I enjoy the initial flavour so much that it doesn’t even matter to me. One of my favorites so far, but I’m not very experienced yet.

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Bio

A longtime tea-drinker but a relatively new gong fu enthusiast. My preferred teas are floral, aromatic oolongs, savoury/sweet black teas, young and semi-aged sheng pu-erhs, and well-rounded shous, but I also enjoy the odd white and green teas. As of right now, my personal favourites are Honey Orchid Milan Dan Cong, Moonlight White, Golden Needle, and White2Tea’s Poundcake.

Brew what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law!

Location

Toronto, Canada

Website

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