371 Tasting Notes
From the Pu’erh Plus TTB. My first Huang Pian sheng. I’m entering new territory.
Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf a flash rinse and a 5-minute rest. Steeping times: 5, 5, 3, 3, 3, 3, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30; 1 minute, 2, 4, 9.
Note: I unfortunately don’t have an un-biased 100ml brewing vessel. I realized that 5g of sheng in a 60ml vessel would produce a very bitter soup, so I tried to minimize the potential bitterness brewing a number of flash steepings in the beginning.
The dry leaf smells mostly of grass and smoke, and there is some sweetness. After I let the leaf rest in the pre-heated gaiwan, the leaf purely smells sweet – the familiar apricot. Same with the wet leaf.
The soup is light in color and has a medium body. The first infusion tastes very light and sweet, with notes of marshmallow root and vanilla, and just a bit of apricot. Immediately there is huigan. The marshmallow root and vanilla don’t quit. The second infusion is bittersweet, and this is where I step in with the 3-second times. Infusions 3-8 are stronger with flavor, still tasting sweet with the marshmallow root, vanilla, and apricot notes. Same huigan continues. The marshmallow root and vanilla disappear, so 9-15 taste solely of apricot. The huigan still continues, with an added menthol note. Overall, the soup felt airy in my mouth. No qi felt.
From the Regional Group Buy. I had difficulty experimenting with this, especially getting the temperature right. I should have divided the leaf better. I first brewed 5g gongfu-style in a ceramic gaiwan and then the other 5g semi-Western in a glass test tube steeper.
The dry leaf smells woody, sweet and herbal. Letting the leaf rest in the pre-heated gaiwan brings out fruity notes. The fruits are much stronger in the wet leaf aroma. I couldn’t pick out any specific fruits – I smelled nondescript jams, but they were very sweet.
The liquor is the color of apple juice and and has a medium body for both sessions.
No rinse. Steeping times: 30, 20, 40; 1 minute, 2, 6. The first infusion is sour and fruity. Urgh. Thankfully, the sourness disappears after that. The second and third infusions resemble Bai Hao in that they have similar sweet and fruity notes. Four, five and six also resemble Bai Hao and have an additional malty, astringent flavor that I usually taste in lighter Assams. There is also a consistent sweet aftertaste.
Steeping times: 1 minute, 1.5, 2.5, 5. Kind of disastrous. It wasn’t until too late that there were a lot of broken leaves in this batch. Basically, the liquor tastes tannic, sweet, and sour all at once throughout the session.
If I had another shot at this oolong, I’d experiment with the gaiwan again. Still, as much as it tasted better then, it was only OK for me. (I do think that I had problems with leaf amount. I find myself at wits end when it comes to not brewing teas with a non-gongfu approach, Japanese greens excepted.)
Sample picked from the Pu’erh Plus TTB. The label said 2013 Year of the Snake, “picked up in Hong Kong,” but since there is more than one entry for this shou, I’m placing my review here.
There was also another note on the packet: “Xin Cha: tea tree Lincang”.
Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf two 5-second rinses and a 2-minute rest. Steeping times: 8 seconds, 10, 8, 10, 10, 15, 20, 40; 1 minute, 2, 5, 10.
The dry leaf smells of leather and chocolate, and after resting in the pre-heated gaiwan, it smells like those little Brookside chocolate-covered fruits (the pomegranate and blueberry/acai ones specifically). Nothing like inhaling a ghost of a dessert.
The soup is clear and dark red, full-bodied, and smells of brown sugar. Even after resting in a zip baggie for at least a month, the leaf still has signs of plenty of humid storage. It was until infusion 6 that the fermentation taste went away completely, but there was some interesting development until then. 1 tastes sour, completely of fermentation. 2 is bitter-ish but also fruity, with a silky texture. 3 through 6 are much sweeter, but only on my tongue – the back of my throat tastes like coffee grinds. A cocoa aftertaste follows. These flavors are quite robust.
For infusions 7 through 11, a woody note replaces the fermentation and the intensity of flavor lightens (still sweet). The coffee grinds are still present in the back of the throat. The texture is creamy. The 12th infusion – the last one, very long steeping time – completely tastes of wood.
Additionally: I felt a little sluggish in the middle of the session. Relaxed sluggish.
I purchased a sample myself when I last ordered. The leaf amount in the packet ended up being 5.1g rather than a rounded 5. I prepared this is a 120ml gaiwan. Gave it a flash rinse to wake up the leaves. I followed the infusion times on Teavivre’s website: 60 seconds, 65, 70, 60, 65, 70, 80, 90, 120.
A Moonlight White with only buds is certainly pretty! It looks like Silver Needles. This is only me second Moonlight White, and I totally taken aback by the dry leaf aroma since it’s incredible different from my first. It smells like a cooking herbs mix and tomato sauce, which is what I sometimes get with Dianhong. But once the leaves are washed and steeped, the wet leaf aroma is what I remembered: blueberries and cream oatmeal, very fragrantly fruity, barely sour. Aaaaaaah.
The liquor – also notably fragrant – is pale yellow, medium-bodied, and clean. This takes a bit to warm up, but from the third infusion onward, it tastes much like the wet leaf aroma: sweet and blueberry-like. The texture is thick and silky.
I didn’t quite like this Moonlight White as much as the first (that one was more powerful), though this is good quality and I enjoyed drinking the more flavorful infusions. I love tasting fruits in unflavored teas as opposed to fruit-flavored teas – they’re so much more like the real McCoy. Surprises my brain every time (“Wow this is really happening???”) Moonlight Beauty is no exception to this. And I have to note again that the liquor is so fragrant that even my cups smells after I finish drinking! I don’t get that much from non-oolongs. I recommend it for those who are interested in trying it for themselves.
This was the free sample of the month when I made my recent order. I love kukicha but never had a roasted kukicha before. Adventure time! I prepared this in a shudei kyusu. Steeping times: 30 seconds, 15, 30, 45, 120.
The dry leaf smells like roasted grains (barley came into mind fast), and the dark leafy veggies char and kale. The wet leaf smells sour and bitter, very much like kale fried with apple cider vinegar.
The liquor is golden brown and full-bodied. The first cup, at first, is broth-like, tasting of grains and nuts (nuts in generally – perhaps cashews?). Very smooth texture. After I become used to this new tea, I begin to discern that it’s actually somewhat sweet. The aftertaste is even sweeter. The second cup and beyond are similar to the first in taste, but they taste even sweeter and feel silky.
I sampled this tea the day before Halloween. I wish didn’t put off writing the review since I like to sample and review on the same day – having the feeling of the tea in mind. I do recall that it tasted and felt like an early autumn tea, when the air is crisply cool, when the leaves are beginning to turn and rot on the ground after they have fallen. This was a good first experience with roasted kukicha. I don’t prefer it to green kukicha, but to houjicha? Perhaps if I didn’t want something so intensely roasted. I liked this one!
Sampled from the Pu’erh Plus TTB.
Prepared 4.6g in a 60ml ceramic gaiwan. I generally followed BLT’s instructions. Rinsed once for 7 seconds and let the chunk rest for 2 minutes. Steeping times: 10 seconds, 15, 15, 22, 22, 29, 35, 45, 60, 90; 2 minutes, 4, 8, 15.
The dry leaf aroma smelled earthy and leathery. Sitting in the pre-heated gaiwan brought out sweetness. The aroma of the wet leaf was also sweet and leathery initially, and became chocolate-like and even sweeter the more the leaf was steeped.
I should have given the chunk a second rinse. It was more pressed than I thought, so it didn’t completely fall apart until after the fourth steeping. As a result, cups 1-4 were too light in taste: sweet and earthy with an aftertaste of dates and raisins. Beginning with the 5th and till the 1oth cups, I experienced very much what BLT describes on their website. Right on the money! That is, overall, this was a clean, clear, and gentle shou. The soup is the color of dark orange. Though lighter in feel and taste than I prefer in shou, Grizzly Brown was full-bodied, very creamy in texture, and had a pronounced sweet earth note. The date/raisin aftertaste was more rounded and lasted longer, and I also noted a prunes. At cups 11 and 12, the sweetness faded and I tasted wood and leather. However, 13 and 14 surprisingly returned to fruity sweetness, even tasting somewhat tart.
Sample pulled from the Pu’erh Plus TTB.
Brewed in a test tube steeper. I’d call it Western method because I had little leaf (going by what is suggested on the website) and did long infusion. 3 minutes, 10.
It’s a given that the leaf smells of rum (dark rum specifically), but it’s worth note that even after the leaf is spend, I can still smell rum. And from the shou, I pick out sticky rice. The liquor is cloudy (unexpected but not unexpected, considering) and full-bodied. Note: I strictly drink wine and beer, no hard liquor. Not to my taste. That includes both kinds of rum. Maybe in baked goods. I pulled this tea from the box out of curiosity. I can definitely taste the rum and in know way it is overpowering or overwhelming. It works very nicely with the shou, which itself is excellent and adds an earthy, sweet note and a creamy texture. I enjoyed both cups greatly.
From the Regional Group Buy.
Brewed in an infuser mug: 3 minutes, then 6.
The dry leaf aroma is a surprise: smells like apple cinnamon! The wet leaf aroma is more typical of a black tea: malty and with a little chocolate. The liquor has a thick and silky texture, and tastes like an 85% chocolate bar. Very delicious!
Prepared in a ceramic gaiwan. I followed the steeping times from the website: 15 seconds, 25, 35, 50, 80, 130, 210 (I tacked on a 10-minute last steeping to completely tire off the leaf).
I’m jumping on the bandwagon on having been taken by surprised by this hongcha. All of my expectations were flung out the window when I first evaluated the aroma, and then the taste of the liquor.
To begin, the aroma doesn’t undergo metamorphosis when the leaf is hit with heat and water. Overall it smells incredibly savory, like tomato sauce with dried oregano, rosemary, and basil. I’ve had wet leaf of black Bi Luo Chun smell like tomato and herbs, but this one has a much more complex aroma, and it was easy for me to pick out multiple specific notes.
The liquor – which is the color of deep gold – is clear, clean, and medium-bodied. For roughly the beginning two-thirds of the session, this hongcha resembles Oriental Beauty. Again, WHAT. I thought I would taste malt, sweet potatoes, and spice. But it has that fruity flavor that I associate only with Oriental Beauty. Very sweet and flavorful, practically like juice. Which fruit(s) I exactly can’t pick out since I haven’t had that many OBs. Later, the last few infusions taste more honey-like.
The session lasted only a morning but it was enjoyable. Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong Ancient Wild Tree Black Tea matched the mood created by today’s weather: gray sky, continuous rain, bright autumnal foliage, warm air.