105 Tasting Notes
This was part of my huge Tao Tea Leaf haul at the end of 2015, though I just opened the package a few months ago. Given my love of almonds, I had to add it to my order, even though I remember it being fairly expensive. (It helped that I ordered during a sale.) I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 13, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The first steep has notes of almonds, hay, tobacco, and cream, with a scratchy astringency that reminds me of almond skin. In the second steep, the roast becomes more prominent. The bulk of the sip is almonds and roast, but grapefruit and florals come out in the aftertaste. The almond gets less intense in the next couple steeps and the orchid and jasmine florals and citrus show themselves more clearly. The florals disappear around steep seven, leaving roast, nuts, minerals, and astringency until the end of the session.
To me, this tea lives up to its name, which doesn’t seem to be the case for many other almond Dan Congs. It’s a bit more astringent than I’d like, but that’s possibly my fault. Most reviewers aren’t overly impressed with it, and with my haphazard approach to brewing, I’m surprised that it consistently works out for me. I’ll definitely buy more, if only during a sale.
Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Grapefruit, Hay, Jasmine, Mineral, Nutty, Orchid, Roasted, Tobacco
This is a sample from a giveaway Teavivre hosted this spring. I haven’t had many of their black teas, so I was eager to try this one. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot according to the website’s instructions: 185F for 10, 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 seconds. I then prolonged the session with steeps of 60, 90, and 240 seconds because the tea was so good.
First of all, the dry aroma from these gorgeous tight, fuzzy golden curls is floral, malty, and faintly spicy. . The first steep, which disappeared in under a minute, is a wonderful balance of malt, sweet potato, and cocoa. The body is slightly velvety from all the trichomes. The second steep, which was also for 10 seconds, has a bit of earthy Yunnan astringency, but it, too, vanished in record time.
The third and fourth steeps have even more intense notes of malt, sweet potato, caramel, baked bread, wood, and earth. The aftertaste is now fairly drying and astringent, but there’s a lovely sweet potato aroma left at the bottom of the cup. The sweet potato fades a bit into a smooth, earthy, caramel Yunnan black in the next couple steeps, and though the astringency gets stronger in my “bonus” rounds, it’s still a darn good tea.
Given that I find many Yunnan black teas too malty and tend to use them for morning fuel, I’m surprised how much I enjoyed this sample. If Teavivre’s other black teas are like this one, I’ll have to try more of them.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Caramel, Cocoa, Earth, Malt, Smooth, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
I received this tea as a free sample with my last Camellia Sinensis order. It’s slightly pricier than the Namring Darjeeling and Temi Sikkim teas that were part of the Indian sampler pack, and the fluffy, bud-heavy leaves seem to be of high quality. I steeped two teaspoons of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 3:30 and 5:00 minutes.
While the Namring was very herbaceous, this tea has more of the muscatel and peach notes typical of a second flush Darjeeling, with fainter notes of florals, herbs, spices, and grass. (I have no idea what amber tastes like, so I can’t say whether that part of the website’s description is accurate.) The second steep is sweeter, more floral, and ever so slightly astringent. There’s a lovely herbaceous and muscatel aroma left in my Finum infuser, but I know by now that the third cup of Darjeeling is always disappointing.
This tea has a great balance of fruity, floral, and herbaceous notes. My only complaint is that even with two heaping teaspoons, it’s very subtle and the flavours never really pop. Next time, I might try it with more leaf.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Muscatel, Peach, Spicy, Sweet
I bought this tea as part of a three-oolong sampler in March 2017. There’s no longer any info about it on the website, but I remember that it came from San Jing Farms, that it’s organic, and that it was described as jammy (which made me want to try it). I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
“Jammy” is a good descriptor for this tea. The first steep has tangy notes of blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries, with a base of grass and faint florals. The second gets even more intense, with cream and maybe a bit of vanilla complementing the jammy raspberry profile. In the next couple steeps, a GABA-like funkiness creeps in, though this isn’t a GABA tea; still, it’s very tasty and has no astringency. The jam fades into faint raspberry and grass after the seventh steep.
Though it faded a bit too quickly for my liking, the profusion of berries made this tea very enjoyable. One caveat is that you do have to use a good amount of leaf, as 4-5 g isn’t enough for its jammy character to fully emerge. As someone who loves fruity oolongs, I’ll have no problem finishing the 10 g or so I have left.
Flavors: Berries, Blackberry, Cranberry, Cream, Floral, Grass, Jam, Pleasantly Sour, Raspberry, Tangy, Vanilla
I got this sample in Teavivre’s Mother’s Day giveaway and wanted to try it while it was still relatively fresh. I steeped 4 g of the long, wiry, slightly fuzzy leaves in a 120 ml teapot at 185F for 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, 45, 60, and 90 seconds.
This is a savoury and vegetal tea. The first steep has notes of green beans, umami, spinach, and a honey-like sweetness, while the second introduces kale, asparagus, and cut grass. These flavours last into the sixth steep, then gradually diminish into that vague vegetal/grassy profile that all green teas seem to get near the end of a session.
I don’t have much of a palate for green tea, but this seems to be a good one. I have three more grams to experiment with Western style, and will add to my tasting note if this method gives me anything different.
Flavors: Asparagus, Beany, Cut grass, Honey, Kale, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal
This is my one hundredth tasting note on Steepster! To celebrate, I’m reviewing a tea that I bought in 2016, but that I only opened a few weeks ago. It was ridiculously inexpensive for a Da Yu Ling, and I’m sad that the business appears to be closed. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
This tea is very sweet for a Da Yu Ling, and has notes of cream, honey, florals, spinach, vanilla, cucumber, and Granny Smith apple in the first steep. It also has a heavy, viscous body and no astringency. Some citrus and slightly herbaceous notes appear in the second steep. A previous reviewer noted that the sweetness is like agave, and this is an apt description; I’d swear there was some form of sugar in this.
The florals all but disappear by the fifth steep, leaving a combination of sweet, vegetal, and creamy. Though the vegetal notes increase in subsequent rounds, with lettuce and spinach predominating, it still retains its sweetness until the end of the session.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable tea, though its sweetness reminds me more of a green Dong Ding than of other Da Yu Lings I’ve had. I enjoyed my sample of IdesTea’s Li Shan a bit more, but this bag will be easy to finish.
Flavors: Citrus, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Green Apple, Herbaceous, Honey, Lettuce, Spinach, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetal
This is from a spring tea sample assortment that TeaVivre generously gave me earlier this year. The long, olive green, still supple leaves are a joy to behold. I followed the website’s instructions as closely as possible and steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 185F for 30, 60, 90, and 120 seconds.
In the teapot, the aroma of the leaves is vegetal and floral. These flavours come out in the first steep, with notes of wildflowers, green beans, and bok choy. Peas and other veggies appear in the next two steeps as the florals subside. I sneaked in a fourth steep, which was completely vegetal.
This was a pleasant green tea that would probably do well cold steeped. It was also the shortest gongfu session I’ve ever done. Thanks, TeaVivre, for allowing me to try it!
Flavors: Bok Choy, Flowers, Green Beans, Peas, Vegetal
As someone who loves teas with natural rose notes, when I saw this Dan Cong on Yunnan Sourcing’s website, I immediately added 50 g to my shopping cart. Then I sat on it for a month because I didn’t want to be the first to review it. However, since there seems to be some curiosity about this tea, I decided to go ahead. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
In the bag, this tea smells like generic florals and grass. But in the first steep, it lives up to its name, with rose, grass, cream, and other florals. (The grassiness becomes very prominent when it cools, so it’s best to drink this tea hot.) The rose is stronger in the next steep, but so is the grassy background note. I think there are some orchids and other flowers in there as well, but the rose is the most apparent, especially in the aftertaste.
By steep three, this tea has come into its rosy glory, but that astringent grassiness is still in the background. It’s kind of like a spicy pink tea rose—or maybe that’s just the power of suggestion. There are hints of cream, honey, and gentle apricot in the later steeps, but really, it’s all about the rose. The rose lasts well into the ninth steep, after which the tea returns to grass and florals.
A complicated tea this is not, but it does deliver on its promise. I kind of wish there was more to it, though. I gave it such a high rating because the rose is lovely, but I can see people getting bored with it.
Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honey, Orchid, Rose, Sweet, Vegetal
I bought this tea in 2015 during my “I need to try everything immediately” phase. Eventually, around 2020, I hope to have worked through my stash of old purchases. This was a pretty reasonably priced Jin Jun Mei, so I’m not sure how representative it is.
I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The first steep has notes of malt, honey, and Triscuits (weird, I know), with a punch of tannins and astringency in the finish. The next few steeps add notes of wood, grain, cardboard, and minerals, with an intriguing tomato vine aroma that doesn’t make it into the taste. I find this tea to be very drying in the mouth in spite of its honey-like sweetness. By steep eight, the liquor is mostly malt, tannins, and minerals.
While I enjoyed the honey and mineral notes, this tea is quite astringent if you use too much of it. It’s also rather long in the tooth. That having been said, I’ll have no trouble finishing this JJM and will consider buying another one in the future.
Flavors: Astringent, Cardboard, Grain, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Tannin, Wood
I enjoyed the 2016 version of this tea so much that I bought 25 g of the 2018 harvest. Using the same steeping parameters, I got the same jasmine, citrus peel, orange, guava, and vegetal (broccoli, spinach) notes as were present in the 2016 harvest, making this a refreshing Dan Cong for what I hope will be the last hot day of the summer. I got a good seven steeps before the inevitable vegetal fadeout.
If you like greener, floral- and citrus-heavy Dan Congs, I highly recommend this tea.
Flavors: Broccoli, Citrus, Gardenias, Guava, Jasmine, Orange Zest, Perfume, Spinach, Vegetal