282 Tasting Notes

82

This second flush is from 2020, which makes it relatively new in my tea collection. It caught my eye because Camellia Sinensis noted it was representative of the style, and even though I’ve had many SF Darjeelings, I still look for benchmarks of what they’re “supposed” to taste like. I steeped 4 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5, 7, and 10 minutes.

The dry aroma is of caramel, nuts, and flowers. The first steep has notes of autumn leaves, nuts (yes, hazelnut seems accurate), caramel, butter, wood, flowers, saline, and a hint of muscatel. The finish is rather woody and drying, especially if the tea is held in the mouth for any length of time. The tea also has some tannins. The next couple steeps are heavier on the nuts and caramel and lighter on the fruit and florals. I get some minerality in the third steep.

This tea is a good deal more restrained than the luxuriantly fruity, floral second flush Darjeelings I gravitate toward. However, I think it is indeed a high-quality, well-made example of the type, if not one that really wows me.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Caramel, Drying, Floral, Hazelnut, Mineral, Muscatel, Nuts, Salty, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 355 ML

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90

I thought I’d posted a note about this tea, but apparently not. Thanks, Derk, for the big pouch. I’ve had it a few times now, and while it won’t replace the peppermint from Zen Tea in Vancouver, which is sadly unavailable, it comes close. I steeped around two teaspoons in 355 ml of water at 200F for 3, 5, and 8 minutes.

The aroma in the pouch is of strong, sweet mint, and the steeps bear this out. I taste sweet, clear mint with a kick of menthol and a bit of earth. I don’t get stewy or vegetal notes as I have with some other mint teas. The flavour stays pretty consistent over the three steeps.

If I have one quibble with this tea, it’s that I have to use more leaf (two teaspoons vs. one of the Zen Tea mint) and a longer steeping time (three minutes vs. one) to get the same intensity. However, this is a pretty minor issue. Overall, this is a nice peppermint tea I can reach for at night when I don’t want any more caffeine.

Flavors: Earth, Menthol, Peppermint, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 355 ML
derk

The bag of loose leaf I got did not seem as potent as the various sachets I’ve had over the years. Still great but not GREAT.

Leafhopper

I’m beginning to wonder whether the Zen mint had peppermint oil to make it so potent. I’ve had to use two teaspoons of all the other mint teas I’ve tried.

tea-sipper

I miss Zen tea!

Leafhopper

Me, too. I only placed one order with them before they stopped selling tea, but most of what I bought was really good and affordable. In hindsight, I wish I’d bought a pound of their peppermint!

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93

I’ve wanted to try Wuyi Origin for a while, and a free shipping offer a couple weeks before Black Friday 2020 was the perfect excuse. I picked up three Dan Congs, three Lapsang Souchongs, a black Dan Cong, and two Wuyi rock teas (as I wanted to try some higher-quality versions before giving up on the style entirely). This was the most expensive Lapsang in my cart, and I remember buying it because the description mentioned it was fruity. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot in boiling water for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of sweet potatoes, gooseberries, honey, wood, and malt. The first steep has notes of gooseberries, sweet potatoes, honey, maple syrup, malt, baked bread, oakwood, and florals. Although the dry aroma wasn’t that promising, I can immediately tell that I like this. The next steep adds zucchini, more wood, orchid, and pine. The third steep becomes more fruity, with lemon and strawberry accents and a vegetal and grassy backbone that lingers in the aftertaste. The fruit lasts until the fifth steep, when the tea once again becomes dominated by sweet potato, maple syrup, oak, malt, and honey. This continues well into steep ten, when earth and mineral notes emerge. The tea remains sweet until the end of the session.

I love the combination of oddball flavours in this tea, as well as its thick body, good longevity, and persistent aftertaste. I can tell this is a high-quality Lapsang Souchong. I wish the fruit had lasted longer, though. I look forward to comparing it to the other two Lapsangs I ordered from this company.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Berries, Earth, Floral, Grass, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Maple Syrup, Mineral, Oak, Orchid, Pine, Strawberry, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tangy, Vegetal, Zucchini

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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87

As a growing fan of Lapsang Souchong, I was delighted to find this one in my swap package from Daylon. I’d never heard of Trident Tea, which has a large selection of stuff I’d like to buy if my cupboard was smaller and they shipped to Canada. I steeped roughly 5 g of tea 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 jasmine, other flowers, and malt. The first steep has notes of jasmine, malt, caramel, and grass. I kind of regret not using my 85 ml teapot to get a more concentrated flavour. The second steep gives me other flowers, maybe orchid and rose, plus more caramel, hints of chocolate, and that sappy note Daylon mentioned. I get oakwood in the third and fourth steeps, which makes for a slightly strange combination with the florals. The tea comes off as a bit drying and tannic, but I like the balance between the sweet caramel and florals and the heavier wood and malt. I get brown sugar and more caramel in the next couple rounds. The session fades into malt, brown sugar, tannins, wood, and minerals.

This tea is sweet and floral without being perfumey, which makes it a winner in my books. I wasn’t quite as taken with it as Daylon, mainly because it was a little drying and the florals faded somewhat quickly. Still, I’ll add Trident to the long list of companies I’d consider buying from in the future.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Chocolate, Floral, Grass, Jasmine, Malt, Mineral, Oak, Orchid, Rose, Sap, Tannin

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

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90

Here’s yet another tea from What-Cha, whose catalogue I seem to be slowly and methodically going through. Thanks, Derk, for sending these dragon balls for my further white tea education! I steeped one 6 g ball in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 105, 120, 180, 240, and then 5, 7, and 10 minutes.

The dry aroma is of jammy raspberries and other red fruits, apricots, honey, and autumn leaves. The first couple steeps have strong apricot and red fruit notes, plus honey, hay, autumn leaves, oats, malt, pine, and wood. The next couple steeps put the apricot at the forefront, with more honey, oats, and sweetness. I can see where Derk is getting marshmallows! By steep five, the oats, autumn leaves, and malt are starting to become more pronounced. By the one-minute mark, this tea has lost most of its fruity sweetness and has notes of malt, honey, oats, wood, autumn leaves, and tannins. The session ends with metal, wood, and tannins, though with some berry fruitiness returning in the long final steeps.

I was delighted by how sweet and fruity this aged white tea is. It also goes forever—perhaps too long. I tend to wring every scrap of flavour I can out of my leaves, so this session lasted from yesterday afternoon into this morning. However, this is hardly a complaint. I can see this being a better-than-average tea that can take oversteeping well.

Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Berries, Hay, Honey, Jam, Malt, Marshmallow, Metallic, Oats, Pine, Raspberry, Red Fruits, Sweet, Tannin, Wood

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

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92

I don’t have much experience with Jin Jun Mei, and the few I’ve tried weren’t good enough to justify the price. Thanks, Daylon R Thomas, for sending me this version from What-Cha. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 190F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

In the bag, this smells like chocolate, bread, rose, and dill pickle chips. (Yes, I know, I’m a barbarian.) I think this is an association with a certain floral, herbaceous note over the grainy base, but it’s very pronounced. The first steep has notes of chocolate, malt, bread, butter, sweet potato, rose, other flowers, smoke, and, sigh, slightly vegetal, salty pickle. The pickle dissipates in the second steep, where I get tobacco, smoke, chocolate, bread, rose, and more sweet potato. The next few steeps are more bready and malty, with rose, lavender, sweet potato, and faint smoke. Earth and minerals come in on steep five. The session goes on forever, and though the body thins out, the honey, bread, floral, and smoky notes continue. The session ends with malt, earth, minerals, smoke, dill, some vegetal notes, and slight florality.

This is a beautiful bready, chocolaty, rosy tea that goes many rounds. I have to say that the dill was a fun distraction, and I wonder what it is “supposed” to be for people with better palates. This tea has improved my opinion of Jin Jun Mei. I might have to try a small amount of the really pricy stuff to see how it compares.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Chocolate, Dill, Earth, Floral, Grain, Herbaceous, Honey, Lavender, Malt, Mineral, Rose, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I liked this one more than previous versions. I was so let down when it went out of season. The $1 per gram ones tend to be too vegetal for me, but this one is so good and complex. I am glad you liked it!

Leafhopper

This JJM and the Lapsang must have been very popular, since to my knowledge, they were only on the site for a couple months. I do wonder what those pickle notes were supposed to be.

Daylon R Thomas

The roast????

Leafhopper

Maybe, though I haven’t made that association with other roasted teas.

derk

Can’t remember which ones but I’ve gotten pickle in some black teas. The only jin jum mei I can remember having is Old Ways Tea 2017. It was deep and low, complex with great fruity/citrusy and orchid accents, not at all chocolatey for me. Their 2017 Premium is a scary $4USD/g.

Leafhopper

Yikes! That tea sounds amazing, though. It makes the 2021 fruity JJM from Wuyi Origin seem downright affordable at $19 for 25 g.

tea-sipper

Sounds like the jin jun mei I should try! Except for the…sigh…dill pickle. :D

Leafhopper

LOL, maybe you wouldn’t get that note, tea-sipper! I really liked What-Cha’s Jin Jun Mei.

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74

I was pleased to see this unusual type of Dan Cong in Camellia Sinensis’ catalogue. This is the April 2020 harvest. I initially steeped it as I normally would a Dan Cong (6 g, 120 ml, 195F, 7/10/12/15, etc.), but it tasted like roast, apple, and fake movie popcorn butter. I’m hoping the parameters given by the Camellia Sinensis team in the 2020 summer sessions will produce better results. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 203F for 25, 10, 25, 40, 55, 70, 85, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of roast, chocolate, honeydew melon, flowers, and caramel. Roast is the dominant note in the first steep, along with caramel, toast, butter, wood, honeydew melon, kiwi, and faint florals. The next steep resolves the florals into lilies, orchids, and other flowers, though the tea is a bit sharp. The third steep has notes of honey, malt, and faint apple, with the roast still being the most noticeable quality. By steep five, there’s a funky rye bread sort of note, combined with strong roast, charcoal, honey, caramel, toast, and faint flowers. This steep has a nice floral aftertaste. The final steeps have flavours of strong roast, charcoal, tannins, honey, and nuts.

Using the steeping instructions from Camellia Sinensis produced a much nicer session, though the prominent roast detracted somewhat from my enjoyment of this tea. I like its thick body and interesting florals, but wish they’d stand up to that roast a little more. I need to find some more lightly roasted Dan Congs, or even some unroasted ones if that’s a thing.

Flavors: Brown Toast, Butter, Caramel, Char, Chocolate, Floral, Honey, Honeydew, Malt, Nuts, Orchid, Red Apple, Rye, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Leafhopper

Steepster has been hanging all day for me, especially when I try to post tasting notes with flavour descriptors. I’ll try to come back and add them later if/when Steepster starts behaving.

Daylon R Thomas

There are lightly roasted and unroasted Dancongs. Most of the lighter ones I’ve had were Yashis,Dawuyes, and I’ve had a lighter Yulan. Snowflake on White2tea is an example of one. I thought I’ve had it, but I may have forgotten to write it. I tend to find them sharp. I have a huge stash of Iris Orchid Fragrance that is extremely creamy and milky.

Leafhopper

Thanks! I’ve had a couple Ya Shi that I found were more roasted than I liked, but they were kind of budget teas. I have had a few unroasted or lightly roasted teas from Yunnan Sourcing, including a Bai Ye and a really nice Ba Xian. The Mi Lan Xiang I sent you from Wuyi Origin has a roast I like. I’ve always been meaning to get a Yu Lan Xiang.

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75

In 2019, I bought a sample set of two fall Li Shan oolongs picked several days apart on the same farm. This is the one that was harvested later in the year. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

This tea has a stronger cookie aroma than the Li Shan A, along with citrus, cream, flowers, and spinach. The first steep has notes of cookies, butter, orchids, honeysuckle, other florals, cream, honey, faint citrus, grass, broccoli, and spinach. I get a strong mandarin orange note in the teapot, but steep two just offers more of the cookie and vegetal flavours. I get a strongly vegetal aftertaste. Orange and peach appear faintly in the aroma and taste of steeps three and four, but I really have to look for them. I also get more veggies and the high mountain herbaceousness I found in Li Shan A, along with a lovely apricot/peach aftertaste. The next couple steeps have a soft peach note that’s kind of overwhelmed by spinach, broccoli, kale, and grass. As in previous steeps, the aftertaste is the best part of this tea. The final steeps are a little floral but mostly vegetal, with broccoli, kale, spinach, and some astringency.

Judging from the very similar smell of the dry leaves, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to distinguish this tea from its earlier-harvested counterpart. I needn’t have worried, though, since most of the aroma didn’t make it into the cup. I might need to experiment with cold brewing like LuckyMe to pull out more of the fruity flavours.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Broccoli, Butter, Citrus, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Kale, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Spinach, Vegetal

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

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84

In 2019, Mountain Stream offered a set of two Li Shan teas produced a few days apart on the same farm. This is the first of these teas. Mountain Stream used to have a long description for both of them, but I can no longer find it online. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma of these large nuggets is of cookies, orchids, other flowers, butter, and citrus. The first steep has notes of mandarin orange, orange blossom, orchid, honeysuckle, butter, grass, spinach, and cookies. The second adds peach and more intense florals; it has a thick texture while still being sort of drying. I get canned peaches and nectarines in the aroma of the third steep, but the tea also becomes more savory, with umami, veggies, and that herbaceous note I tend to pick up in high mountain oolongs. The vegetal notes of brussels sprouts and beans are more prominent in steeps four and five, though the lovely peachy aftertaste persists. The next couple steeps see the veggies tip the balance, and the session ends with notes of broccoli, beans, spinach, and grass.

This tea peaked fast, but those first few steeps were great. It’s on the burlier side for a Li Shan and the vegetal notes are more pronounced than I’d like, but overall, I’ll have no trouble finishing it.

Flavors: Beany, Broccoli, Butter, Citrus, Cookie, Drying, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Savory, Spinach, Stonefruit, Thick, Umami, Vegetal

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

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I’m drinking this tea for Mastress Alita’s St. Patrick’s Day challenge, as I either forgot about the other theme days or didn’t have appropriate teas for them. I don’t have an Irish breakfast tea, so I decided to go with a very, very old green. I bought this poor, unloved, and sort of pricy gyokuro around five years ago, then “archived” it because I wasn’t sure I was steeping it properly. (Camellia Sinensis only gives instructions for the first three steeps.) I also thought I’d posted a note on this tea, but I must have had it in my pre-Steepster days. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml clay kyusu at 160F for 25, 10, 15, 30, 45, 60, and 120 seconds.

There’s a reason you shouldn’t keep green teas for five years! The originally vibrant raspberry notes are there but muted, and the sunflower seed note is a bit stale. I also get spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cream, and umami. Later steeps add asparagus, green pepper, and minerals to the mix, and fortunately the stale sunflower seeds aren’t as prominent.

I might consider buying this tea again, but only if I can finish it in a reasonable time!

Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Cream, Green Pepper, Lettuce, Mineral, Raspberry, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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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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