341 Tasting Notes

82

I was delighted to find this three-year-old sample in the vaults of my tea museum. I enjoy Laoshan black tea, but haven’t had any in quite a while. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain pot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of cocoa, rye bread, honey, and malt. The first steep has notes of fudgy cocoa, dark chocolate, rye bread, honey, cream, and malt. The second steep adds faint cherry, minerals, and wood, but this tea is all about the cocoa. The next couple steeps are more roasty with hints of caramel. Steeps five and six are mineral, woody, and roasty with some sourness, but still, the cocoa makes it quite drinkable. The cocoa continues into the tenth steep, after which the tea has notes of wood, earth, minerals, and roast.

For such an old tea, this Laoshan Black stood up rather well. I appreciated its cozy, somewhat simple profile on this dull day. It didn’t change much over the gongfu session, but for a comforting chocolate tea, that’s okay.

Flavors: Bread, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Pleasantly Sour, Roasted, Rye, Wood

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

This sounds yummy, I might have to go find my favorite Yunnan for a chocolatey cup.

Leafhopper

It’s the perfect time of year for this tea! I’ve had LB from Yunnan Sourcing, but can’t really compare it to this tea because I drank it so long ago. I’ve never had LB from Verdant or Whispering Pines.

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77

I decided to get a bunch of new first and second flush Darjeelings this year, even though I still have a few from years past. Maybe I should have waited, since I’ve heard that weather conditions during the second flush harvest weren’t that great. I steeped 4 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 4.5, 6, and 8 minutes.

The dry aroma is of raisins, figs, malt, autumn leaves, spices, and wood. The first steep has notes of raisin, fig, muscatel, rye bread, autumn leaves, chili, spices, honey, tannins, malt, and wood. It’s a little drying, though I may have used a bit too much leaf. The next steep emphasizes raisins, rye bread, autumn leaves, cream, malt, and wood, though the aftertaste is nice and fruity. It also, predictably, becomes more drying. The final steep adds caramel and grass, and is bready, malty, and tannic without much fruit.

This is a nice daily drinker Darjeeling that I probably won’t remember a couple months from now. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t pop with lush fruit and florals like some really good SF teas.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bread, Caramel, Chili, Cream, Drying, Fig, Grass, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Raisins, Rye, Spices, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 355 ML

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92

I’ve been looking forward to trying this Shan Lin Xi for a while, and finally finishing a 150 g pack of another Shan Lin Xi gave me the perfect opportunity. (I actually forgot to post a note on that tea, but fortunately, I have another bag.) I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot using boiling water for 55, 45, 55, 65, 75, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus several uncounted steeps.

The dry aroma is of pineapple, orchids, and grass. The first steep has orchid, pineapple, coconut, woodsy, and grassy notes, with some other unidentifiable florals mixed in. The next steep has a touch of astringency and the sappy quality I get with many teas from Shan Lin Xi. I also notice cream, green beans, and sweeter florals (narcissus?), and as Daylon said, it kind of reminds me of a fabric softener sheet. The aroma at the bottom of the cup is particularly floral and fruity. Steeps three and four are full of cooked pineapple, herbs, orchids, sweet pea flowers, beans, grass, and veggies, with maybe a hint of citrus. The tea is becoming increasingly vegetal and green. The next couple steeps feature more coconut and pineapple in the aroma, but more spinach and grass in the taste. The final long steeps are mostly vegetal with hints of florality.

This is a highly drinkable tea, as shown by the fact that I’ve had three sessions with it in the past few days and will finish my 25 g bag shortly. I love the tropical fruit and sweet florals, but the strongly vegetal flavours and lack of longevity bring my rating down somewhat. Nonetheless, this is a tea I will consider buying again, if only because it’s substantially more affordable than the SLX Wild Garden.

Flavors: Citrus, Coconut, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Narcissus, Orchid, Pineapple, Rainforest, Sap, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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It’s always nice to get tea from Whispering Pines, since shipping costs from the U.S. to Canada are so high. Thanks to Daylon for the generous sample! I steeped 6 g of leaf in 120 ml of water at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some uncounted steeps.

The dry aroma is hard to pin down, with elements that remind me of cranberry, grape, hay, malt, tobacco, tomato vine, and wood. It smells like a wild Yunnan tea, if that’s helpful. The first steep has notes of earth, forest floor, minerals, grapes, squash, honey, hay, malt, and wood. The next steep is sweeter, with molasses, tobacco, bread, red grapes, cranberries, pine, and maybe some spices. In the third and fourth steeps, I get bread, honey, sweet potato, raisins, hay, malt, cream, pine, earth, smoke, wood, and minerals, and the tea is a bit drying. The aftertaste is particularly sweet, though this is a savoury tea overall. I get berry and cherry notes in the next couple steeps, and the tea is a bit sweeter. As the session goes on, the tea becomes more like a standard Yunnan tea, with notes of bread, honey, pine, tannins, malt, and wood. The final steeps feature malt, wood, tannins, minerals, honey, and raisins, with some red grape sneaking in on the longer steeps.

This is a rustic, wild Yunnan tea that is nonetheless nuanced and complex. Its sweet, earthy flavours really do evoke a forest, particularly in the first few steeps, and I had fun trying to detect everything that was going on. I don’t usually gravitate toward these types of teas, but would highly recommend this one.

Flavors: Bread, Cherry, Cranberry, Cream, Earth, Forest Floor, Grapes, Hay, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Spices, Squash, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin, Tobacco, Tomato, Wood

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

I’m really glad you appreciate that one. I love having it on a rare occasion, but I have to really sit down to enjoy the tea fully. IF I rush it, it’s just an earthy black tea.

Leafhopper

Agreed! I’ve had two sessions with this tea, and on the first, less attentive one, it tasted like a Yunnan purple tea to me. I paid more attention during the review session and got more out of the leaf.

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84

If I make a purchase from a vendor that carries a Mi Xiang black tea, chances are good it’ll end up in my cart. It was an extra draw that this one is from Shan Lin Xi. 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 dry aroma is of honey, raisins, dates, pastry, malt, and wood. The first steep has notes of honey, raisins, dates, plums, pine, pastry, malt, and wood. As expected, the honey is the dominant presence, especially in the aftertaste. The next steep leans more toward plum and nectarine, and is quite sweet with a bit of a drying finish. Steeps three and four have hints of cinnamon, though that might be the honey, fruit, and pastry notes playing tricks on me. Steeps five and six introduce grass, cream, florals (orchid?), and more of that piny/sappy quality typical of SLX and bug-bitten teas. In the next two steeps, the fruit starts to fade and the malt, wood, and grass get stronger. There’s a touch of astringency in the finish, though this is still a very soft tea overall. The final steeps lean into tannins, raisins, malt, grass, and wood.

This is a nice Mi Xiang that is quite similar to others of its kind. I liked the stonefruit, though it could have lasted longer. The pine and florality indeed remind me of Shan Lin Xi. I would definitely consider buying more of this tea, though I’d be equally happy with the ones from Camellia Sinensis or Cha Yi, which are easier to find and possibly cheaper.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Dates, Drying, Floral, Grass, Honey, Malt, Nectarine, Orchid, Pastries, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Sweet, Tannin, Wood

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

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94

I tried this tea earlier this year and it was so good that I’ve been hoarding the last couple sessions’ worth. However, green oolongs never respond to this well, so I’ve decided to finish it before 2022 comes to an end. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some long, uncounted steeps.

The dry aroma is of coconut, pineapple, orchids, honeysuckle, custard, and grass. The first steep is floral and grassy, with orchid, honeysuckle, custard, cream, and hints of pineapple and coconut. The next steep is still very green, with the kind of coconut water taste that Daylon describes. I’m getting other floral notes that I can’t pinpoint, though it could be lily as the vendor says. This oolong comes into its stride in steeps three and four, with coconut, lime, custard, milk, headier florals, and grass. It’s still a little green for me, but the coconut and florals are lovely. Steeps five and six retain a lot of these flavours, but the spinach and grass are becoming stronger. I also get a bit of herbaceousness along with the coconut, lime, custard, and florals. The tea starts to fade after this, with the next couple steeps featuring florals, custard, faint coconut, spinach, and grass. The rest of the session is greener, with notes of grass, spinach, and faint florals.

This is an excellent tea with many of the flavours I like. It’s a bit green for me, but that’s a minor quibble considering everything else it has to offer. Thanks to Daylon for sending me such a generous sample!

Flavors: Coconut, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Green, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Lily, Lime, Milk, Orchid, Pineapple, Spinach, Vegetal

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

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92

This is part of the High Mountain Experience Set I bought from Wang back in 2021, and I wanted to try this tea before it became eligible for a spot in my tea museum. I haven’t had many Cui Feng oolongs. Of the two I can remember, one was not that great and the other was very floral. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot using boiling water for 55, 45, 55, 65, 75, 90, 120, 180, and 240 seconds, plus a few uncounted steeps.

The dry aroma is of orchids, cookies, cream, and grass. The first steep has notes of orchids, cookies, cream, honeysuckle, other florals, and grass, with faint peach in the aftertaste. Orchids continue to be the dominant flavour in the second steep, with cookies, grass, cream, citrus, peach, and other florals in the background. This tea is quite sweet. The next couple steeps have lots of orchid, honeysuckle, orange blossom, grass, cream, citrus, peach, and something I’ll call woodsiness that also recently appeared in their Alishan. Steeps five and six are a bit more grassy, though with plenty of orchids, other florals, cream, and fruit. The next few steeps become even more grassy and a bit vegetal, though I still get orchids, cream, and sweet florals. The final long steeps are floral, grassy, herbaceous, and vegetal.

This tea measures up to Wang’s high standards, though I was a bit distracted by all the grass. Steeping it in my clay pot highlighted its grassy aspects and toned down the fruit, which is why I prefer it in porcelain. The sweet florals and hints of fruit make up for any downsides, and like other teas from this vendor, it has good longevity. This isn’t my favourite tea from Wang, but I’d highly recommend it.

Flavors: Citrus, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Daylon R Thomas

They have a 15% off sale. Really contemplating on getting more of the Jasmine Oolong, but I’m also interested in the Lishan Competition and the GuiFei…

Leafhopper

Yeah, I saw that and was tempted, but I have way too much oolong. I think that Lishan Competition oolong is roasted, but the Gui Fei and Red Jade sound good.

Daylon R Thomas

It’s lightly roasted. That’s why I’m on the border. I’d love a sample, but I’m not sure if I could commit to 75 grams of it.

Leafhopper

Yes, 75 grams is a lot. If only this sale was a few months from now when my oolong stash will be less extensive! I’m tired of opening tea that’s already a year old or more.

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Some Darjeelings seem to last for years, but others definitely don’t. This is what must have happened to this second flush from 2020. I steeped around 3 g of leaf in 355 ml of 195F water for 5, 7, and 9 minutes.

The dry aroma is of faint cocoa, muscatel, and grass. The first steep has notes of muscatel, cocoa, caramel, wood, honey, citrus, orange blossom, grass, and paper, along with some astringency. The flavours are a little muted, though still detectable. The next steep adds autumn leaves, bread, and malt. The final steep is bready and malty, with tannins, autumn leaves, and hints of muscatel.

This is a nice tea that has faded with the years. I’m not giving it a rating at this point. I also could have done shorter steeps to cut out some of the astringency.

Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bread, Caramel, Citrus, Cocoa, Grass, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Paper, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 355 ML

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90

Of the two unsmoked lapsangs from Trident that Daylon sent me, this is the one I was most looking forward to trying. Anything with “fruity” in the name sounds promising to me! I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain pot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some uncounted steeps.

The aroma of the dry leaves is of blackberry, lemon, roses, lavender, malt, soy sauce, and wood. The first steep is soft, with notes of blackberry, lemon, honey, roses and other florals, malt, soy sauce, and wood. The tea has a nice, thick body. The second steep is sweeter, and orange, molasses, lavender, more honey, and some tannins are noticeable. The orange, lemon, and blackberry/generic red berry notes are more pronounced in the next couple steeps, though the honey in the aftertaste is a little cloying. I also get whisps of pineapple in the aroma. In the next few steeps, the sweet blackberry, citrus, and honey remain constant, and I get more rose, florals (orchid?), and grass with some tannins. The fruity, floral flavours persist through many steeps, after which the session fades into malt, minerals, tannins, and wood.

This is a lovely lapsang that lives up to its name. I didn’t find it quite as compelling as the Wild Lapsang because I didn’t think it was as well balanced or complex. I liked the rose and blackberry, but it verged on being too sweet in places and the range of fruit wasn’t as wide as that in some other lapsangs I’ve had. Still, it has great longevity and is overall a very nice tea. It’s also from 2019, so the fruit may have been more vibrant a couple years ago. Thanks to Daylon for the sample.

Flavors: Berries, Blackberry, Citrus, Floral, Grass, Honey, Lavender, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange, Orchid, Pineapple, Rose, Soy Sauce, Sweet, Tannin, Wood

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

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98
drank Spring 2022 Baozhong by Bok
341 tasting notes

After enjoying a nice spring 2021 Lishan earlier this year, I purchased a whopping 825 g of Taiwanese tea from the same supplier. I’m swapping 75 g with another Steepster member, but the rest is all mine! If the other four teas I bought are as good as this Baozhong, I made the right decision. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 150 ml clay teapot at 195F for 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus many uncounted steeps.

The dry aroma is of lilac, orchid, honeydew melon, apricot, cookies, and egg custard. The first steep has saline, mineral, grassy, and egg custard notes, with lilac, orchid, butter, and honeydew melon. Where the tea really shines is in the lingering aftertaste, which features perfectly ripe apricot, pear, and dewy melon notes. The next steep introduces coriander, herbs, cookies, and something similar to menthol, plus more spring flowers and that same lovely aftertaste. Steep three adds even more florals like sweet pea and gardenia, plus honeydew, peach, apricot, and pear. The smell in the empty cup is wonderful! As the session goes on, salt, minerals, grass, butter, and florals continue to appear at the front of the sip, while the fruit blooms in the aroma and aftertaste, which can last for minutes. The fact that the fruit doesn’t show up as much in the tea itself is a little annoying, but that aftertaste makes up for it. The tea continues to be floral, saline, and sweet until the end of the session, with the honeydew, stonefruit, and pear in the aftertaste. I can also leave it overnight for one final steep without tasting any bitterness.

I’ve steeped this Baozhong in both clay and porcelain using temperatures from boiling to around 185F and various infusion times. Lower temperatures brought out more of the fruity notes, though boiling water never made the tea bitter. Clay seemed to produce slightly better results, though maybe that was due to the longer pouring time of my pot.

This is a fantastic Baozhong! I’ve rarely encountered such dewy, pronounced fruity notes in a tea, combined with such longevity and lack of bitterness. I wish more of these notes had shown up in the body of the sip instead of the aftertaste, but this is a minor quibble. This is one of my favourite teas of 2022 and I’m sad to say goodbye.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cookie, Coriander, Custard, Egg, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Lilac, Melon, Menthol, Mineral, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Salt, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
Daylon R Thomas

825 grams…wow…I know you already told me about it, but wow.

Leafhopper

Yeah, it was a big order. :) I’m sending 75 g to someone else and just finished another 75 g, so I’m down to 675 g. I have a feeling I’ll get through it fairly quickly.

Daylon R Thomas

I just sipped down quite a bit of my Taiwanese oolong too, and am about to finish the Jasmine Shanlinxi from Wang. I really want to get more and keep some for a future swap so you can get to try some of the ones I’ve been writing about. I’m also very tempted to try some of the Zhena Magic Hour tea. I don’t like the health nut marketing, but I used to really like Green Coconut Chai and Mint Tea. They’ve become more ambitious with blends and have a vanilla doublefolded pu-erh black blend with pomegranite and other flavoring that could be really interesting, along with so many others. They still lean towards Ti Kwan Yin for bases and blending for the oolongs, but have a Gaba and a Golden Monkey for other blends. I’m trying to figure out the best samples to get, but they are a minimum of $8 for roughly more than an oz.

Leafhopper

That Jasmine SLX sounds interesting, and they also have an Osmanthus Alishan. I tend to avoid scented teas because I don’t want to have anything mask the flavour of the base and I worry that they might use inferior leaf, but I don’t think this would be a problem with these guys. It would be interesting to try the Jasmine SLX if you end up getting it. I just opened a bag of spring 2021 Cui Feng, and wow, is it good! I get lots of citrus, pineapple, and maybe even stonefruit, plus cream, orchids, and other flowers. As with their other teas, it doesn’t get bitter with long steeps.

Those Zhena teas look interesting, though as you said, the health claims are a bit much. Maybe it’s a California thing. They do have some unique blends. I wonder how Tie Guan Yin works as a blending tea.

Daylon R Thomas

It’s a pretty common base. Fraser Teas in Michigan uses it for most of theirs, and it blends better with fruitier flavors than more vanilla ones imo. As for the Jasmine Shanlinxi…it’s easily one of my favorites since their regular Shanlinxi is the base. Cui Feng is always a win in my book too.

Leafhopper

Interesting to hear that TGY is often used for blending. It would be fun to try one of these teas sometime.

The final few steeps of the Cui Feng were a bit grassy, but overall, it was great! I’d say it was up there with the Shanlinxi Wild Garden. Of the five Wang teas I’ve tried, I’ve enjoyed this one, the DYL, and the SLX Wild Garden the most. I have many more to go!

Leafhopper

Yes! :) I kind of intended to send some of it in swaps, but the temptation to finish it was too great. It was also starting to fade a bit by the end of the bag, so I think I made the right decision.

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Bio

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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