282 Tasting Notes
This is the final tea review from my big Camellia Sinensis purchase in 2018. (I repurchased the Gyokuro Okkabe and Feng Huang Hong Cha, but I’ve already reviewed these teas.) Camellia Sinensis regularly stocks three Dong Dings: Mr. Chang, Mr. Nen Yu, and Ms. Lin. The last of these is more often out of stock than available, so I decided there must be something to 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.
The dry aroma is of char, roast, honey, flowers, and plums. The wet leaves in the teapot smell like charcoal and roast, which makes me wonder why I have such a penchant for buying roasted teas that I can’t appreciate. The first steep has notes of roasted grain, honey, plum, caramel, wood, and roast. The plum becomes more pronounced in the second steep, and I also get orchid, other flowers, roasted walnuts, charcoal, and cream. The next couple steeps are more roasty, with roasted nuts, walnuts, honey, baked bread, roast, wood, and charcoal predominating and some florals and plum in the background. The tea is starting to get drying in the mouth. As expected, the session becomes increasingly focused on the roast and ends with charcoal, roast, wood, roasted nuts, earth, and minerals.
I understand why this Dong Ding gets snapped up so quickly. While it’s a little too roasted for me, I love its sweet, toasty, slightly fruity profile and think it would be a great tea for fall or winter.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Char, Cream, Earth, Floral, Grain, Honey, Mineral, Orchid, Plum, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Walnut, Wood
I bought this tea on clearance back in March 2020. It’s not what I usually go for, but it was something like $3 for 50 g and I thought I’d give it a chance. I steeped around 1.5 teaspoons in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 3.5, 5, 8, and 10 minutes.
Dry, this tea smells like tart, floral, berry bubble gum. The first steep is surprisingly gentle, with cranberry, floral, lemon, chamomile, rosemary, and faint ginger. Happily, the apple and licorice aren’t in evidence, though sadly, neither is the white tea. There’s a lingering sweetness in the aftertaste. I’ve never had sea buckthorn, so can’t comment on its presence. The licorice is a bit more noticeable as the cup cools. The flavour doesn’t change in the next couple steeps, although the ginger and rosemary are stronger in the fourth.
This tea is much more subtle than I expected. Though there’s a lot going on, all the flavours work together to create a fruity, floral, herbaceous blend that fits its spa moniker.
Flavors: Cranberry, Floral, Ginger, Herbaceous, Lemon, Licorice, Sweet, Tart
I bought this premium Meishan Alishan to compare with the regular Meishan version. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 20, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of heady spring flowers, honey, cookies, and grass. The first steep has intense notes of lilac, sweet pea, narcissus, and other flowers, plus butter, corn, bok choy, spinach, herbs, and grass. The second steep has green tea–like veggies balanced with herbs, flowers, and faint sweetness. The predominantly vegetal notes continue into the next few steeps, although there are plenty of floral, honey, and herbaceous notes as well. The end of the session focuses on kale, spinach, broccoli, bok choy, and other veggies, with a slight floral sweetness.
I was not expecting this tea to make such a swift and merciless descent from sweet Alishan florals to veggie soup. Maybe it was my brewing parameters, although I did my best to follow Tillerman’s instructions. I’ll keep experimenting to see if I can justify giving this tea a higher rating.
Flavors: Bok Choy, Broccoli, Butter, Cookie, Corn Husk, Floral, Grass, Green, Herbaceous, Honey, Kale, Narcissus, Spinach, Vegetal
This is my second Tillerman Tea review (the first was posted during the Steepster website mess). I bought a sample of this tea to compare it to their premium Alishan. Following their brewing times, I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 20, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of heady flowers, cookies, and grass. The first steep has notes of honeysuckle, lilac, daffodil, grass, butter, spinach, and cookies. The second steep is even more floral, though with some vegetal flavours. I also get honey and an herbaceous aftertaste. The herbaceous notes get stronger in the next couple steeps, but so, unfortunately, does the spinach and grass, with the honey, cookie, and florals fading into the background. A hint of citrus appears in the lingering aftertaste. (I think these long aftertastes are becoming a theme for Tillerman’s tea selection.) The end of the session is vegetal, creamy, and floral.
As the website claims, this is a straightforward tea that provides a good introduction to high mountain oolongs. I kind of wish it had more complexity, but will gladly finish my 12 g sample. I also wish the website gave timing instructions for more than the first two steeps, as I feel it might have done better with different brewing parameters.
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Cookie, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Narcissus, Spinach, Vegetal
This is part of my huge 2018 haul from Camellia Sinensis. All of you know my fondness for bug-bitten teas, and based on my rave review of their Bai Hao, I thought I’d like their Guei Fei as well. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of intense honey, flowers, and stewed fruit. The first steep has notes of honey, baked bread, flowers, sweet apple, and other stewed fruits. (Camellia Sinensis says “red fruits,” which I kind of agree with.) A tart berry note emerges in steep two. The tartness, stewed fruits, flowers, and, most of all, the honey characterize the next couple steeps. This is definitely a dessert tea. The honey and baked bread just keep getting stronger in the fifth and sixth rounds. Sadly, I don’t notice any cinnamon, which both Roswell Strange and the website point out. The flavours become slightly attenuated as the session ends, although the honey and red fruit are still present. The final steeps have a bit of astringency and are somewhat vegetal.
This is a sweet, luxurious Guei Fei that’s easy to drink. Though it lacks the complexity of the Bai Hao, this is kind of expected given the nature of this type of oolong. I’ve had a lot of bug-bitten oolongs recently and the flavours have become somewhat predictable, but this oolong executes them very well.
Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Berries, Floral, Honey, Red Fruits, Stewed Fruits, Tart, Vegetal
I just received a bunch of 2020 first and second flush Darjeelings from Lochan Tea, and, impatient as I am, I’ve already cut open one of the bags, even though I have some 2019 first flush on the go. Let me say that their foil vacuum-sealed bags are great for keeping tea fresh, but also sadly prevent me from trying all the teas at once, which I would totally do if I had enough empty tins. I steeped around 4 g in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5 and 8 minutes.
I forgot how nice fresh Darjeeling is. The dry aroma of these fluffy, still slightly springy leaves is of flowers, autumn leaves, muscatel, chili, and stonefruit. The first steep has notes of herbs, chili, grass, honey, flowers, autumn leaves, muscatel, cream, and wood, with some stonefruit (apricot?) coming in on the aftertaste. This first flush is more savoury than sweet and has some pleasant astringency in the mouth. I wish Eastkyteaguy had access to this tea because there are flavours I can’t pin down that he’d probably get. The second steep has more wood and tannins, but still has the muscatel, spicy, grassy, and floral profile of the first steep.
This is an excellent way to begin my exploration of Lochan’s 2020 offerings. It reminds me a bit of the Guranse Spring Hand-Rolled Floral Black Tea from What-Cha I reviewed a few months ago. I gave the 2019 version of the Giddapahar Spring Wonder an 84. To my mind, the 2020 harvest is substantially better. There could be a number of reasons for this, including the AV2 cultivar, the possibility that I used more leaves, and the tea’s freshness. Regardless, I’m delighted I have 50 grams and look forward to trying the other teas I purchased.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Muscatel, Spices, Stonefruit, Tannin, Wood
I believe I bought this tea in 2016. I’m drinking the last of it, having put it off for months because I suspected the session would be underwhelming. I really should have finished it years ago, and as such I’m not rating it, although even in its prime, I didn’t love it. I steeped the remaining 6 g in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
Dry, the tea smells faintly of GABA funk and flowers. The first couple steeps have notes of malt, sourness, custard, wood, nuts, and faint flowers. The next couple steeps add pencil shavings, tannins, and grass. That GABA sourness persists in the aftertaste. The tea has a heavy, viscous body into the next few steeps. The flavours don’t evolve much over the session, although the grass, tannins, and sourness increase.
I’ve had a few GABA teas now and have come to the conclusion that I’m not too fond of them. I don’t notice any relaxation benefits, and they all have a sour note that I find off-putting. This was kind of a tuition tea for me, and while I don’t regret buying it, I’m also not sad to see it go.
Flavors: Custard, Floral, Grass, Heavy, Malt, Nuts, Pleasantly Sour, Tannin, Wood
This is the last sample from Tea Side I was given to review. Thanks for allowing me to try this Bai Hao, as it’s one of my favourite types of oolong. I’ve tasted Bai Hao from Taiwan, China, India, and Vietnam, and am glad to add Thailand to that list. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 30, 20, 30, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120, 180, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of autumn leaves, peach, and muscatel. The first steep has notes of apricot, peach, muscatel, stewed pear, autumn leaves, wood, and malt. The fruit intensifies in the second steep, and it indeed begins to taste like a honey black oolong, as Arby noted. The next couple steeps reveal sap and more honey, though also more malt and black tea-type flavours. There’s a tiny bit of citrus in the sixth steep, along with the pear, peach, and muscatel notes, but at this point, its transformation into a black tea is accelerating. By steep seven, it’s a malty, slightly fruity tea with some tannins, although it never loses its muscatel and stewed fruit notes completely.
While I found much to like about this Dongfang Meiren, it has more black tea notes than I’m used to in this type of oolong. Still, this is a minor complaint and it’s overall a pleasant tea. I imagine it would take well to Western or cold brewing.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Citrus, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Peach, Pear, Sap, Stewed Fruits, Tannin, Wood
After my marathon gongfu session with Tillerman’s Shan Lin Xi, it was too late to have any more caffeine, so I chose this herbal. I don’t usually buy bagged tea, but keep some of this on hand since it’s simple and convenient. I steeped one bag (no idea how many grams) in a 355 ml mug at around boiling for 4, 6, and 10 minutes.
The flavour is predominantly vanilla and chamomile, with a bit of mint and possibly some sweetness from the blackberry leaves (though the vanilla is also sweet, so who knows?). The rose gets completely lost. The flavour doesn’t change over the three steeps and the tea is soothing and pleasant.
Sometimes you need something comforting and uncomplicated, and this tea fills the bill perfectly!
ETA: How can Steepster not have chamomile in its list of flavours?
Flavors: Honey, Mint, Sweet, Vanilla
Well, I finally caved and got six teas from Tillerman, just in time for no one to be able to read my notes. That figures. I was also certain there were some reviews of Shan Lin Xi oolongs from this company that I could use as points of reference, but I can’t find any, possibly due to all the Steepster glitches. As I’ve probably said before, Shan Lin Xi oolongs are among my favourites and this one was affordable, so into my cart it went. More or less according to the vendor’s instructions, I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 30, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus a few long steeps.
The dry aroma is of resin and sweet flowers. The first steep has heady notes of orchid, lilac, and sweet pea, plus slight resin, custard, grass, and butter. The second steep has herbs, spinach, lettuce, grass, custard sweetness, and flowers. This tea has gone vegetal really quickly, and I wonder if I oversteeped it. The body is still smooth and heavy, and maybe this is what is meant by “good grip?” The third steep gives off a waft of some sort of “mountain glade” air freshener, which is probably a combination of flowers and sweetness and is actually kind of appealing. The tea achieves a good balance of vegetal, floral, and resin in the next three or so rounds, and there’s a tiny bit of cooked pineapple in the liquor and at the bottom of the cup. The next couple steeps introduce more veggies, including spinach and kale, and a condensed milk sweetness. As expected, the final few steeps are more or less grassy and vegetal.
This tea fits my idea of what a Shan Lin Xi should be, though it has fewer fruity notes than its counterpart from Floating Leaves. (They’re both somewhat pricy U.S. companies made even less affordable by the exchange rate, so I naturally tend to compare them.) As the session progressed, my rating went up from an 80 to an 83 to an 86, which is a fair indication of its quality. Surprisingly, Tillerman’s steeping parameters worked, and I might start subjecting all my high mountain oolongs to boiling water now.
Flavors: Butter, Custard, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Kale, Lettuce, Milk, Orchid, Pineapple, Resin, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal