121 Tasting Notes


This 2017 harvest is actually DJ-16, which I think means that it’s a slightly earlier invoice. In the bag, it smells like dried flowers, herbs, and stonefruit. After a 3:30 steep at 195F, these flavours become more prominent. There’s not a lot of astringency, and the peach and muscatel make this tea pleasantly sweet, balancing out the herbaceousness that I think is characteristic of FF Darjeelings.

A five-minute second steep is surprisingly good, though I’ve learned from experience not to push it beyond that to “extract all the flavour!”

Flavors: Drying, Floral, Herbaceous, Muscatel, Peach, Stonefruits

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 476 ML

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This is my first time trying this oolong. Scott recommended it to me as fruity, so I’m hoping for the best. I steeped 6 grams of tea in a 120 ml porcelain teapot.

25 and 20 sec steeps at around 195F: I really had to work to detect the flavours here. Vegetal, heavy bodied, no astringency, that “jade” type of taste. There’s some sweetness if I squint, but nothing I’d say is fruity.

40 secs with boiling water: I upped the temperature to try to pull more out of the tea. There’s a tiny bit more astringency, but it does have a stronger vegetal flavour and a nice aftertaste that could be guava or some other tropical fruit. The sip itself doesn’t taste fruity though.

50, 60, 90 secs with boiling water: I let the leaves cool after the fourth steep and they smelled like marjoram or some other herb. Wish I had names for all these flavours/aromas! The taste and aftertaste remain pretty consistent. One thing I like about the oolongs I’ve tried from Taiwan Sourcing is their consistently long aftertaste.

So is this tea fruity? Kind of, though I don’t think that’s its primary attribute. I’ll need to experiment with the rest of my sample.

Flavors: Guava, Heavy, Herbaceous, Mineral, Vegetal

6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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I’ve sampled every harvest of this oolong since I started drinking loose-leaf tea in 2015, so you could say it’s an all-time favourite. There are teas that are more complex, last longer, and get more attention online, but I keep coming back to this one because of its approachability.

Just as the description from Camellia Sinensis promises, it hits you with strong cherry, coconut, and wheatgrass notes. (I probably couldn’t have put my finger on the wheatgrass flavour if the website hadn’t mentioned it, but once you know what to look for, it’s unmistakable.) Unfortunately, the tea doesn’t have staying power, usually losing its fruitiness and turning vegetal by around the sixth gongfu steep. Alternatively, I can get three good Western infusions out of it. At $20 CAD for 50 grams, it’s also a decent price for an oolong from this area.

This is a wonderful everyday tea—not so complex that I need to think about it, and bold enough to stay interesting.

Flavors: Cherry, Coconut, Floral, Sweet, warm grass

0 OZ / 0 ML

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This is an oolong from an area best known for producing black teas. The first things I notice about it are its honey-like sweetness and buttery mouthfeel, combined with a mild astringency. It has a long, floral aftertaste and seems to pack quite a caffeine punch. In later steeps, I get umami and spinach notes, but the sweetness never really goes away. This is a good tea, though it lacks the fruity flavours I look for in jade oolongs.

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Honey, Spinach, Umami

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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I agree with the high ratings people have been giving this tea. I’m drinking the spring 2016 harvest and am down to my last couple sessions.

The fuzzy golden leaves produce a copper brew that evokes rye bread with dark chocolate chips. It’s possible to oversteep this, but even when it’s bitter, it still tastes good. I’ll definitely be restocking this tea.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Dark Chocolate, Peanut, Pleasantly Sour, Yeasty

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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I wish I had sufficient experience with Dan Congs to distinguish the 53 separate aromatic molecules this one apparently has. Nevertheless, I can tell it’s good. The leaves are somewhat broken and there’s not a lot of roast. In the bag, it smells fruity and herbaceous.

I filled my pot about halfway full of leaf, since I don’t have a small enough vessel to stuff it completely. With short steeps in boiling water, this tea has a lot going on. The first thing I notice is the orange blossom aroma, mixed with something that seems to combine citrus and tropical fruits. There’s also a nutty roasted undertone that gets more persistent in later steeps, plus a long fruity aftertaste. I’m now on my tenth infusion at 50 seconds and while the tea is winding down, I’ll probably get a lot more from it.

Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Floral, Herbaceous, Lychee, Orange Blossom, Roasted, Tropical

Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Shan Lin Xi is one of my favourite oolong growing areas, so this tea from the top of the mountain appeals to me. It’s on the floral rather than the fruity end of the jade oolong spectrum.

For such a good tea, I’m having trouble describing exactly what’s going on. It has a noticeably heavier body than other green oolongs I’ve had recently. It’s sweet, floral, grassy, sometimes with a hint of stonefruit, and though these are the typical descriptors for this style of oolong, it’s somehow just a bit better. (The empty cup also smells like fabric softener in the best possible way.) It’s a comforting and refreshing tea for a Sunday afternoon.

Flavors: Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Heavy, Sweet

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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This tea starts out with notes of raspberry and dark chocolate. In later steeps, the Assam character emerges, with smooth, malty, sweet flavours predominating. I’ve had this tea twice in a row now and still can’t make the more interesting (to me) flavours last much beyond the fourth infusion. Maybe it’s getting old?

I steeped it for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, and 80 seconds.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Raspberry

190 °F / 87 °C 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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This is from the autumn 2014 harvest, meaning that it’s been in my cupboard for almost three years. (Time to sip down some old teas!) To be honest, I know why it’s been there so long—there’s always a more interesting option around.

This tea is a superior version of something you might find in a regular tea bag. It has a smooth, slightly sweet taste with just the right amount of astringency. It isn’t bad by any means; it’s just kind of one dimensional. I’ve had many other great blacks from Yunnan Sourcing that I’d restock before this one.

Flavors: Smooth, Tannic

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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This is my first review on Steepster! And, since offbeat variations on well-known tea types tend to interest me, this black tea from Guangdong is a good place to start.

Other than having tart, berry notes and long, twisty leaves, however, this doesn’t remind me much of a Dan Cong, but instead recalls some other Chinese black teas I’ve had. It’s sweet (Camellia Sinensis’s mention of barley sugar is accurate), peanuty, slightly floral, and most importantly, forgiving. It’s comforting and balanced, and I’ll especially enjoy this as an autumn brew.

I steeped slightly more than 3 teaspoons of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 195F for 25, 15, 25, 40, 55, 70, and 180 seconds.

3 tsp 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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