314 Tasting Notes

85
drank Crescent Green by Spirit Tea
314 tasting notes

After hearing how I dislike most green teas because of their spinachy, vegetal profile, Derk generously sent me a sample of this Crescent Green, which Spirit Tea says doesn’t have these characteristics. I steeped 3 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 175F for 3, 5, 7, and 10 minutes, followed by a couple long infusions.

The dry aroma is indeed not like most green teas I’ve had, featuring honey and toasted grains and reminding me a little of a roasted Dong Ding. The first steep has notes of toasted grains, honey, minerals, spinach, sesame seeds, and hints of apricot. I would have said it was just woody, but Derk’s mention of sandalwood fits. The next steep has more minerals and something I’d label as hops. The honey and minerals come out a bit more in the third steep, and there’s no hint of astringency, though the apricot has faded. My last couple steeps, one of them overnight, yielded a tea with honey and sweet apricot notes and no bitterness whatever.

This is a fascinating green tea that I actually enjoyed. The long steeps in particular brought out the sweet stonefruit notes and were the highlight of the session for me.

Flavors: Apricot, Grain, Honey, Hops, Mineral, Sandalwood, Sesame, Spinach, Toasty

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 355 ML
derk

Nice to hear this one worked out well enough for you. Grain, sesame, hops — now that you mention it, maybe I’ll pick up on those next time I brew this tea.

Leafhopper

I was kind of reminded of an IPA in some steeps, though without the bitterness.

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96

I thought it would be fun to drink my newly purchased 2021 Wild Lapsang from TheTea immediately after the awesome Wild Lapsang from What-Cha. When I wrote my review for this tea a few years ago, it was among the first Lapsangs that I tried, and I didn’t have too many reference points. Will it measure up now that I’m more Lapsang savvy?

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, plus a few long infusions.

Compared to the aroma of the What-Cha version, this Lapsang has less candied fruit and a milder lemon, plus aromas of orchid, veggies, malt, cookies, wood, orange, and pineapple. Togo mentioned moss, and I can detect it now. The first steep has notes of lemon, cooked pineapple, lychee, apricot, orange, orchids, cookies, moss, grass, wood, and malt. The second steep introduces tart raspberry, cranberry, plum, and cream along with the citrus, pineapple, and pastry. Cooked pineapple, lychee, tart berries, apricot, plum, and citrus are nicely mixed in the next couple steeps, and there are hints of dark chocolate and bread. The tea is soft and viscous with a lingering red fruit aftertaste. Steeps five and six lean toward jammy berries, plums, and apricots, with a growing presence of lemon plus wood, pineapple, tannins, cookies, orchids, other unidentifiable flowers, and minerals. Subsequent steeps are more malty, with lemon, moss, veggies, cookies, minerals, and wood, though the fruit also persists.

While What-Cha’s Lapsang is a showoff, this one is equally pleasant, though a little more subdued. There’s plenty of pineapple and a jammy berry element I didn’t notice in the What-Cha version. The citrus is less prominent, but still runs through almost the entire session. The What-Cha Lapsang has a more typical sweet potato, bready, and vegetal backbone, while this one has a mossy note and perhaps more assertive malt and wood.

I’m giving these Lapsangs the same high rating because they’re both excellent teas. The one from What-Cha is definitely cheaper to access, both in terms of pricing and shipping. Nonetheless, I feel I’d have missed out if I hadn’t tried this version, and will be tempted to buy more when I run out.

Flavors: Apricot, Berries, Bread, Citrus, Cookie, Cranberry, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Grass, Lemon, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Orange, Orchid, Pastries, Pineapple, Plum, Raspberry, Tannin, Tart, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Daylon R Thomas

They are really close and similar, but What-Cha’s is more forward.

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96

Thanks to Daylon for sending me a sample of this tea, which I’ve wanted to try for a while. It’s usually out of stock, and I now understand why. 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, plus another few long infusions.

The dry aroma of this tea is an intoxicating blend of peach, lychee, pineapple, lemon, roasted almond, malt, violets, and other flowers. My nose was glued to these leaves for an inordinate amount of time. The first steep presents lemon first, and then reveals malt, roasted almonds, sweet potato, violet, zucchini, orange, pineapple, straw, and soy sauce. Lemon zest is noticeable in the next steep, as are notes of chocolate, baked bread, rose, cream, peach, and pineapple. Orange comes out in steeps three and four, along with all the other complex notes this oolong has to offer. I also notice malt and wood more in these steeps, along with orchid and orange blossom, though at this point my brain is overwhelmed and is probably just throwing out flavours at random. The next couple steeps are more malty and vegetal, with the same amount of citrus but less pineapple and stonefruit. I’m beginning to detect some minerality, and there’s a noticeable soy sauce aftertaste. By the one-minute mark, all the fruit except the citrus has disappeared and the tea leans on its malty, bready, vegetal, floral, and sweet potato profile, with whispers of tannins but no real astringency. The final steeps give me citrus, malt, pine, wood, minerals, roasted almonds, and tannins.

My whole review of this tea could have been “Wow!” This is what other black teas want to be when they grow up. As Daylon has mentioned, it’s very similar to the Lapsang from TheTea.pl, though I think the range of fruits is even wider. (This would be a perfect opportunity to break out my newly acquired 2021 Lapsang from TheTea for comparison!) This tea has excellent longevity and lovely, complex, comforting aromas and flavours, especially in the first few steeps. Thanks again to Daylon for giving up some of this tea for me to try.

Flavors: Almond, Bread, Chocolate, Citrus, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Pine, Pineapple, Rose, Soy Sauce, Straw, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin, Vegetal, Violet, Wood, Zucchini

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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99
drank Longfengxia by Ethan Kurland
314 tasting notes

I’ve figuratively climbed Shan Lin Xi with Ethan Kurland’s teas, starting with the sweet, Baozhong-like Perfect Oolong, progressing to the headier Shanlinxi, and ending with this tropically fruity beauty. As soon as I opened the bag and smelled the tea, I went to his page on TeaForum to see if he had more. (Nope, it’s out of stock.) 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.

The dry leaf has aromas of coconut, pineapple, melon, orchid, cookies, and grass. The first steep has notes of green beans, orchids, honeysuckle, peonies, white sugar, cookies, honeydew, and coconut. The next steep is grassier and adds a pineapple or green apple tartness. The creamy coconut is the star in the next couple steeps, though the tea is still quite green. The sweet cookie/pastry note is also still there. The next couple steeps have more pineapple and honeydew, with herbs, spinach, cream corn, and flowers in the background. The herbs, florals, and coconut stick around for another few steeps, with the oolong ending predictably but pleasantly with spinach, grass, bok choy, and beans, plus hints of coconut and sweetness.

I think almost anyone would like this oolong. It’s complex, with some of the flavours being hard for me to pin down, while also being very approachable. It’s faded slightly from having been open for over a month, but is still an awesome tea. Flavours can fluctuate from session to session, becoming greener with higher-temperature water, but the coconut is always present. The only drawback is the price, which is $37 for 50 g. However, I’ve had more expensive teas that haven’t offered the same longevity and array of flavours. For people like me who like coconut and other tropical fruit, this tea is a treat!

Flavors: Bok Choy, Coconut, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Melon, Orchid, Peony, Pineapple, Spinach, Sugar, Sweet, Sweet Corn, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Daylon R Thomas

It is expensive, but I think it would be worth it for that kind of tea over some Dayulings.

Leafhopper

I agree. This tea and your Dayuling from Wang are the teas that have impressed me most in 2022, though they’re very different.

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Thanks, Derk, for all the generous Japanese tea samples! This is also my first Japanese oolong, and I was drawn to the ones featured on the Thés du Japon site because they were described as resembling Taiwanese gaoshan, even down to the cultivars used. I had no idea how to steep this, not having a 60 ml vessel, so I filled my 85 ml teapot most of the way and hoped it was okay. TDJ also only gives directions for the first steep. I used my 3 g of leaf in boiling water and steeped it for 30, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of apricot, tart fruit (I haven’t had quince, but that seems accurate), grain, lemon, lilies and other flowers, and sugarcane. The lily, honeysuckle, orchid, and maybe even lilac florals do remind me of a Baozhong, as does the grass, butter, and silky texture. There’s definitely an element of grain that I haven’t found in Baozhong, and the tart quince/apricot/peach comes in on the aftertaste. (That peachy aftertaste might be the best part of this steep!) Spice is quite prominent in steep two, along with flowers, grass, minerals, grain, sap, and tart fruit. I see how Derk is getting mango in steep three, though there’s also some astringency, grass, spinach, lily, apricot, lemon, and minerals. The tea is starting to get a bit rough around the edges. Coconut appears in the fourth steep, though the spinach and grass are getting stronger and the fruit/florals are backing off. There’s still some creamy mango sweetness as it cools. The coconut, mango, and apricot continue in the next few steeps, but this oolong is getting very grassy, vegetal, and bitter.

This oolong evolved throughout my gongfu session and was a bit temperamental, though that could have been due to user error. While it did have some similarities to Baozhong, it took a wildly different direction in later steeps. (Also, keep those coconut teas coming!) Thanks to Derk for letting me try this tea!

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Butter, Coconut, Cream, Floral, Grain, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Lilac, Lily, Mango, Mineral, Orchid, Peach, Quince, Sap, Silky, Spices, Spinach, Sugarcane, Tart, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 85 ML
derk

Haha 3g does not a generous sample make. Sorry bout that. But glad you got some coconut out of it

Leafhopper

LOL! It was nice of you to send me some at all. :) I appreciate all the samples.

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94

I bought this tea in 2020 just before the pandemic. As is true of a few other people here, Shibi is my favourite green oolong from Taiwan Tea Crafts because of all the tropical fruit. Fortunately, the vacuum sealing meant that this tea didn’t lose much of its flavour in the two years it’s been in my tea museum. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, 180, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of coconut, pear, apricot, lilies, honeysuckle, and grass. The first steep has notes of coconut, cookies, vanilla, pear, spinach, orchid, honeysuckle, butter, and grass. The second steep adds citrus, apricot, cream, and wildflowers. The third steep is all about the heavy coconut cream, with heady florals, vanilla, and what might be passion fruit in the background. The florals become more noticeable as the tea cools. By steep five, spinach, grass, and herbs are coming to the fore, though there’s still plenty of creamy coconut and honeysuckle, orchid, narcissus, and other florals. I also get an apricot/peachy aftertaste. The fruit fades by steep eight, though the florals persist until the end of the session.

As always, this Shibi is an excellent tea. Any oolong with so much coconut automatically gets a high rating from me, and the variety of other fruits and flowers is fantastic. My only small complaint is its relative lack of longevity, though that’s only in comparison to the other, pricier tropical fruity oolongs I’ve been drinking lately (the 2021 Longfenxia from Ethan and the 2019 Li Shan from Zhao Zhou come to mind). I highly recommend this tea for aficionados of fruity Taiwanese oolong!

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Citrus, Coconut, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Lily, Narcissus, Orchid, Passion Fruit, Peach, Pear, Spinach, Vanilla, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Damn, that’s a high statement for Zhao Zhous (I finished it too quickly)! I’ve always wussed out of Shibi from Taiwan Tea Crafts because of shipping…which is hypocritical now, but I am.

Leafhopper

I’ve only had the Li Shan from Zhao Zhou once, but found it to be somewhat similar to the Longfengxia. I’m not surprised that you finished it quickly! Shipping from TTC used to be free over US$60, though I think it’s gotten more expensive. They also have a huge selection of teas, which means there are hits and misses for me.

Daylon R Thomas

Yep. They also either had only 5-10 gram samples, or 250 gram servings every time I try to buy it. I need to time it right.

Leafhopper

Yes, it’s annoying that they only have 10, 25, and 250 g sizes. I’ve been tempted to get the 250 g megapack, but there are occasionally less-than-stellar harvests.

Daylon R Thomas

That’s what I saw in your and Luckyme’s reviews. It’s like I need to know the harvest is good, and then I can buy it…oh it’s sold out.

Leafhopper

LOL! LuckyMe is generally more up to date on reviews than me, but there’s definitely a lag time.

LuckyMe

@Leafhopper So glad you like this one! It’s also my favorite high mountain tea from TTC’s lineup. Also, I wish every company packaged their tea the same way. Keeps them fresh practically forever and relieves my anxiety about unopened tea going stale on me.

@Daylon, I’ve been buying Shibi for a few years now and it’s generally a consistent performer as opposed to others like Long Feng xia where I have no idea what to expect from one season to the next.

derk

Woof, that sounds delightful!

Leafhopper

LuckyMe, those vacuum packs do make a whole lot of difference.

Derk, I thought you’d already tried an iteration of this tea. I would have saved you some otherwise.

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Purchased as part of the Eco-Cha Tea Club sometime in 2016, this hongcha has spent too long in my tea museum. Its flavours are very soft and hard to coax out, and I have a feeling that’s due to age. I also laughed at the description of this as small leaf black tea, as the leaves of this tea are wiry and huge! I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 20, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 180 seconds.

The dry aroma is of rye bread, wood, honey, and cherries. The first steep has notes of rye bread, honey, malt, wood, minerals, and tannins, with aromas of cherry and raspberry that don’t make it into the cup. Mild raspberry appears in steeps two and three, and there’s a pronounced honey aftertaste. There could be some sugarcane in there too. The next couple steeps add raisins and spices. The tea fades into rye bread, wood, tannins, and minerals.

I wish I’d tried this tea when it wasn’t over six years old! It has some characteristics I associate with Taiwanese Assam (though I’m not sure this is actually an Assam tea), but I’ll be happy to see it leave my cupboard.

Flavors: Bread, Cherry, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Raisins, Raspberry, Rye, Spices, Sugarcane, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I had a hard time coaxing out a lot of Black Tea flavors from Eco-Cha.

Leafhopper

That’s interesting! I haven’t had many black teas from Eco-Cha, and the ones I’ve had have been older. I think I had a Ruby 18 from them that was flavourful, but I tend to like other Taiwanese black tea cultivars more. I have an old Shan Lin Xi Black from the tea club to try next!

Daylon R Thomas

Oooh, that’s going to be good.

Leafhopper

Fingers crossed! :)

tea-sipper

This one is in my tea museum as well.. I also had a laugh at the “small” leaves.

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87

I usually don’t go for roasted oolongs, but bought 50 g of this Dong Ding due to its many good reviews and low price. It was the right decision, as I’ve been enjoying it all winter. 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.

The dry aroma is of grain, roast, char, walnuts, and flowers. As promised, the scent of this tea is sweet and cozy. The first steep has notes of walnuts, roasted grains, butter, honey, and char. Nutmeg, orchids, other flowers, and grass emerge in steep two, and I can see how it could remind people of popcorn. The next steep has more spices and roasted nuts, but is also a bit drying. Steeps four and five continue with the florals, grass, honey, grain, and walnuts, but the dryness also persists. The roast becomes more noticeable in the final few steeps, though it isn’t too abrasive; I also get wood and minerals.

This is a solid, unpretentious, well-made Dong Ding that lives up to its “sweet scented” name. It’s one of the few roasted teas that I would consider repurchasing.

Flavors: Butter, Char, Drying, Floral, Grain, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Nutmeg, Nuts, Orchid, Popcorn, Roasted, Spices, Sweet, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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85
drank Benefit Tea by Wuyi Origin
314 tasting notes

Wuyi Origin released this “benefit tea” to provide a lower-cost option during the pandemic, and I applaud them for their thoughtfulness. What’s more, it’s actually a tea people would want to drink! 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.

I’ve had this tea several times and still have trouble pinning down the tastes and aromas. The dry leaf smells like squash, sweet potato, cherry, malt, and wood. The first steep has notes of carrot, pumpkin, tart cherry, grass, malt, maple syrup, tannins, and wood, and has a silky texture. The second steep adds gooseberry, cream, sugarcane, and hints of sweet potato. The next couple steeps have more wood and malt, though they still have very vegetal notes of carrot, pumpkin, and sweet potato. The next couple steeps are more tannic and have notes of lettuce along with the orange veggies. The final steeps have notes of malt, tannins, wood, minerals, and roasted veggies.

This tea reminded me in a good way of the most affordable grade of Wuyi Origin’s 2020 Lapsang Souchong. Unlike the Sweet Potato Zhen Shan Xiao Zhong that I had recently, its sweetness was balanced and it had more complex flavours. I’d say it punches well above its price tag of $10 for 50 g.

Flavors: Carrot, Cherry, Cream, Gooseberry, Grass, Lettuce, Malt, Maple Syrup, Mineral, Pumpkin, Roasted, Silky, Squash, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tannic, Tart, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Courtney

What a great idea from this company!

Leafhopper

Yes! I thought it was a very nice thing to do.

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91

I bought this tea when we were still fooling ourselves that the pandemic would stay in China. That feels so long ago now. Fortunately, the vacuum sealing has kept this tea in good condition. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 90, and 120 seconds.

The dry aroma is of lilac, orchid, citrus, grass, and egg custard. The first steep is like a Tie Guan Yin with notes of lilac, orchid, spring flowers, egg custard, coriander, citrus, pineapple, butter, pleasant sourness, and grass. There’s a TGY-like apricot in the second steep, along with heaps of lilacs and other flowers and a green undertone. The next couple steeps have even heavier lilac notes, plus spring flowers, egg custard, citrus, sap, herbs, and grass. The tea gets more custardy and floral with each round, though spinach starts appearing in steep six. By the ninth steep or so, the tea is very green, though the lilac florals persist until the end of the session.

Despite being two years old, this is a lovely Baozhong. I particularly enjoyed its resemblance to Tie Guan Yin, which LuckyMe also noticed in a previous review. I wish the fruit had been more pronounced and had lasted longer, but the lilac notes more than made up for it! I’ll be getting more Baozhong this summer.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Citrus, Coriander, Custard, Egg, Floral, Grass, Green, Herbaceous, Lilac, Orchid, Pineapple, Pleasantly Sour, Sap, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Since I discovered Teavana’s Monkey Picked Oolong four years ago, I’ve been fascinated by loose-leaf tea. I’m glad to say that my oolong tastes have evolved, and that I now like nearly every tea that comes from Taiwan, oolong or not, particularly the bug-bitten varieties. I also find myself drinking Yunnan blacks and Darjeelings from time to time, as well as a few other curiosities.

However, while online reviews might make me feel like an expert, I know that I still have some work to do to actually pick up those flavours myself. I hope that by making me describe what I’m tasting, Steepster can improve my appreciation of teas I already enjoy and make me more open to new possibilities (maybe even puerh!).

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