94 Tasting Notes
A teeny little tuo in a wee gaiwan on a tiny tea tray with itty bitty teacups today. It looks like tea for a large doll or a small child. I think these tuo are supposed to be 3g, 50ml porcelain gaiwan, glass cups were sold as 50ml but I think they’re really only 30ml. The tray just barely fits the gaiwan, small glass cha hai and two cups. I keep a small tea towel folded inside the tray to absorb the rinse and drips because the tray is so shallow I think water would slosh out when I pick it up. Not my first time drinking this tea but it’s the first time I’ve used this combination of teaware and first time making Steepster notes on it.
This isn’t very fancy tea but it’s cute and the individually wrapped mini tuo are good for travel or quick tea sessions. I could see it being an everyday tea, especially for someone without the tools to pick apart large cakes. It smells kind of savory and brothy to me dry. The wet leaf smells a bit sweeter. It comes apart in just a couple of steeps and the leaf is broken up small bits. The sludge in the bottom of my cup is about the same size as what’s in the gaiwan. Maybe it’s just because I’m hungry but something about it smells like an instant vegetable soup mix to me. Flavor seems like pretty generic ripe pu-erh. It’s not bad but it’s not the most fantastic tea I’ve ever consumed. Definitely drinkable but I don’t feel bad about reading and working on stuff while drinking and not just focusing on the tea.
I think Yunnan Sourcing has the 2019 version of this now, as well as the 2019 raw minis. I’d consider buying them if I can squeeze them into an order. They wouldn’t be super high priority for me but they’re okay and I remember them being pretty cheap. And I think all minis are cute.
I started this one last night but dozed off after only a couple of steeps so I’m finishing it today. An advantage to keeping the house so cold and dry, I guess…it’s almost like storing my tea bottle in the fridge overnight, no gross funky spoiled tea flavors/smells if it sits for a while. I might be constantly bundled up in multiple layers of clothing or blankets and have daily nosebleeds from the dryness but at least the tea is still drinkable the next day. Priorities! (Don’t worry, my tea boxes get Boveda packets so they don’t have to endure the 20% humidity with me)
I haven’t met a chenpi tea I didn’t like. Big O v2 smells more orangey than it tastes to me but it’s tasty. It smells really good. I would buy a candle or potpourri or something that smells like this tea. Or maybe a bath product. (You listening, Lush? Enough with the chocolate-orange and citrus with more citrus blends, give me a chenpi pu-erh bath melt). It’s pleasantly tongue-tingly. Compared to Channel Orange, this one falls apart quickly and seems more “normal”. There isn’t anything really mind-blowing or complicated about it, it’s just good. Good, happy, sleepy tea that doesn’t make my brain hurt trying to figure out what I’m tasting.
It’s interesting to see how your tea habits change over time. Last winter I was really into ripe pu-erh with rose petals and raw cha gao. Over the summer/autumn it was more green teas and trying to find a raw pu-erh I really like. This winter I’ve been drinking lots of chenpi ripes and moonlight white.
This is one of my favorite greens right now. If I’m honest, I only bought it because it looked pretty in the pictures. I don’t think it smells great dry. But it’s light and floral and delicious when you use the right water temperature and amount. It smells like clover flowers to me. I think I’ve seen “orchid aroma” mentioned in various descriptions of this tea…I never really knew what was meant by “orchid aroma” because most of the orchids I’ve had (and killed :( it’s too dry here) haven’t had a whole lot of scent…but maybe it’s this clovery smell? This tea reminds me of running through fields during late spring or early summer, when the clover is blooming and before the grass gets all dry and pokey. It just smells fresh and springy. I like to drink it Grandpa style in a glass mug so I can watch the leaves float around. The clover type smell and taste are there for the first fill or two and then it starts tasting a little more beany to me. Someday I’ll figure out exactly how much leaf to use and a precise water temperature. I’ve been pretty lazy with my tea preparation lately. Most of the year, really. I’ve been just eyeballing the amount of leaf for nearly everything that isn’t a pre-measured single-serving ball/cake and filling a thermos with boiling water (the giant Stanley one holds heat the best!), then I dive back into my blanket nest with some Netflix or Audible. I’ve had some not great steeps caused by this level of laziness but for the most part it works for me. If I’m worried about the water being too hot, I just fill my mug or tea bottle before adding the leaves and wait until it seems cool enough. I feel like I should be more precise and keep track of times and temperatures and amounts but I haven’t had the energy for all that.
I don’t have a ton of experience with good black/red teas yet. I used to only drink black tea with cream and, if I was feeling extravagant, a bit of maple sugar, so I only bought “grocery store fancy” black teas. The good stuff is so much different and I can’t imagine adding cream or sugar to it.
I got one mini Redhead, mostly because the minis are cute and the wrapper artwork was interesting. I decided to try it out because I wanted tea but I also really wanted to stuff my face with the ridiculous giant donut I’d picked up earlier in the day (bright blue glaze, rainbow sprinkles and cubes of confetti cake stuck on top! I ❤️ my local vegan donut shop, even if I do feel like a bit of a fraud going in because I’m only lacto-veg). I wanted something with stronger flavor that wouldn’t be overshadowed by the mountain of sugar I was about to eat. I ended up eating the donut while the water was heating so it wasn’t really that big of an issue. I’m glad it worked out that way because Redhead was more interesting than I was anticipating.
The brewed tea is a really pretty clear reddish color. Teas like this make me understand why Chinese black teas are sometimes called reds. Definitely more red than coffee-colored cheapo black teas I drown in cream. It smells lighter and fruitier than the black teas I’m used to. If I didn’t know better I might think it was a berry flavored tea. Berry is in the flavor too. Almost but not quite like a berry oatmeal. And there’s an odd thick feeling that coats my tongue. The only other tea I’ve had that feels this way in the mouth is the Imperial Gold Needle from Yunnan Sourcing. The flavor is pretty different but the mouthfeel is similar. This isn’t one I’d drink every day but I like it. I was disappointed when I saw the other mini cake in the little baggie with Redhead wasn’t another Redhead. I checked my order list. I guess I only ordered one, for some reason I thought I ordered two. The other mini was a freebie of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Exciting that there’s another tea to try that I didn’t know I had but a tiny bit disappointing that I don’t have another Redhead for later. Not sure I’d get a big cake but I’ll probably try to squeeze a couple more minis in my next order.
Oooh, I like this one. A lot. In my opinion, it’s better than Moon Waffles. I’ll have to try them closer together for a better comparison but this might replace Yunnan Sourcing’s Moonlight dragon balls as my favorite Moonlight White. I’m annoyed that I only got a couple of Nightlife balls but my bank account was already whimpering about the size of my order. Definitely going on the re-order list, but should I do more balls or a full cake? I love single-serving balls/mini cakes for their convenience (and they’re just so cute!) and I find big cakes weirdly intimidating for some reason…still, cost per gram…and I still need to try Tiltshift too. I ordered just before this year’s Tiltshift was available or I probably would have gotten a ball or two of that as well.
But anyway…Nightlife is fruity and sweet and smooth. I’m awful at picking out individual flavor notes. Maybe some white grape and a little lemon? Maybe a tiny bit of that creamy vanilla-ness I love so much in the aftertaste? I keep thinking I smell vinegar. I’m not sure if something about the tea itself makes me think vinegar or if the rubber seals of my tea bottle have absorbed some vinegar smell from the last thorough cleaning to remove Tea build-up. Or maybe it’s just my cranky sinuses being weird. Thankfully, I’m not getting any vinegary flavor. I’m using my smaller tea bottle this time. I think the section for Tea leaves is 100ml and the section for water is 200ml but I’m only filling it around 1/2-2/3 full and that seems like a good amount of water. I started the steeps at around 20sec but I didn’t use a timer and I’m horrible about getting distracted while trying to count the seconds. Going a little bit over the intended time didn’t have any negative effects that I could detect. I was distracted by the cat being cute and let one steep get cold before drinking it but it was still tasty. A lot of teas taste a bit harsh and bitter to me when they’re cold but this one was just as delicious cold as it was hot. The flavors and mouthfeel reminded me of drinking fruit juice. After swallowing my tongue feels a little dry but it’s not an extreme “tongue just shriveled up and died” astringency. Which is good! I can’t stand that feeling. I drank half a dozen or so steeps, had a nice little nap and then came back for a couple more steeps. Since caffeine tends to make me sleepy, tea-induced naptime or tea right before bed is pretty common for me.
This one was interesting. I could kind of taste something sort of chocolate in the first steep or two. Not as strong as tea with chocolate flavoring added but maybe like you had a cup of hot cocoa and then decided to make tea in the same cup without rinsing it out very well first. I hoped the chocolatey flavors would last through all the steeps but it became more savory instead. It reminded me of when I’ve added a pinch of salt to my tea…I’m on a high-sodium diet for chronic low blood pressure, there isn’t much I haven’t tried adding salt to. It wasn’t super salty like your average packaged broth/stock but it seemed slightly salty compared to most of the teas in my stash. The really oily mouthfeel was a new experience for me too. It made me think of broth even more, or maybe heavy cream. I was disappointed it didn’t last for many steeps but I think I could probably make it go longer with less water and hotter water. The thermos I had my water in didn’t hold the heat as well as I would have liked and I was using a mug with an infuser thingie, just eyeballing the water level at about 1/3 of a mug. Next time I’ll try a smaller brewing vessel. I think I like Smoove Cocoa enough to finish the cute little mini tong but I’m not sure yet whether it’ll go on my re-order list.
I haven’t had many Moonlight Whites but I think it’s a style I really like. I think this is the youngest one I’ve tried so far. It’s perhaps not as smooth and creamy as older ones I’ve had but it’s still pretty tasty and might improve with age. The waffle shape of the cake makes it super easy to “measure” out a chunk without picks and scales, a definite plus for travel, lazy days or people who don’t yet have an arsenal of tea tools.
I put a couple of squares in my gongfu bottle and enjoyed this tea all day while I cooked and cleaned. I didn’t really keep track of how many steeps or precisely time them. It took several steeps for the squares to come apart. There are nice fruity white tea flavors and some steeps had a hint of that sort of creamy vanilla flavor I’ve gotten from other Moonlights and absolutely love. More careful brewing might be able to bring out that flavor a bit more. I seem to get a zillion steeps out of Moonlights and this one isn’t any different. Although I did take some breaks between steeps, this tea lasted me literally all day. It’ll be a good one for times when there’s not a convenient place to dump dead tea leaves because it never dies. It’s the energizer bunny of teas. This tea, a gongfu bottle and a big thermos of hot water is all you need for hours and hours of delicious tea.
I think I’m going to need at least one more cake of Moon Waffles because I want to keep drinking it now but I also want to see how it ages. The struggle of wanting to re-order EVERYTHING but also be able to afford to try new teas…