121 Tasting Notes
I got this sample in Teavivre’s Mother’s Day giveaway and wanted to try it while it was still relatively fresh. I steeped 4 g of the long, wiry, slightly fuzzy leaves in a 120 ml teapot at 185F for 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, 45, 60, and 90 seconds.
This is a savoury and vegetal tea. The first steep has notes of green beans, umami, spinach, and a honey-like sweetness, while the second introduces kale, asparagus, and cut grass. These flavours last into the sixth steep, then gradually diminish into that vague vegetal/grassy profile that all green teas seem to get near the end of a session.
I don’t have much of a palate for green tea, but this seems to be a good one. I have three more grams to experiment with Western style, and will add to my tasting note if this method gives me anything different.
Flavors: Asparagus, Beany, Cut grass, Honey, Kale, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal
This is my one hundredth tasting note on Steepster! To celebrate, I’m reviewing a tea that I bought in 2016, but that I only opened a few weeks ago. It was ridiculously inexpensive for a Da Yu Ling, and I’m sad that the business appears to be closed. 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.
This tea is very sweet for a Da Yu Ling, and has notes of cream, honey, florals, spinach, vanilla, cucumber, and Granny Smith apple in the first steep. It also has a heavy, viscous body and no astringency. Some citrus and slightly herbaceous notes appear in the second steep. A previous reviewer noted that the sweetness is like agave, and this is an apt description; I’d swear there was some form of sugar in this.
The florals all but disappear by the fifth steep, leaving a combination of sweet, vegetal, and creamy. Though the vegetal notes increase in subsequent rounds, with lettuce and spinach predominating, it still retains its sweetness until the end of the session.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable tea, though its sweetness reminds me more of a green Dong Ding than of other Da Yu Lings I’ve had. I enjoyed my sample of IdesTea’s Li Shan a bit more, but this bag will be easy to finish.
Flavors: Citrus, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Green Apple, Herbaceous, Honey, Lettuce, Spinach, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetal
This is from a spring tea sample assortment that TeaVivre generously gave me earlier this year. The long, olive green, still supple leaves are a joy to behold. I followed the website’s instructions as closely as possible and steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 185F for 30, 60, 90, and 120 seconds.
In the teapot, the aroma of the leaves is vegetal and floral. These flavours come out in the first steep, with notes of wildflowers, green beans, and bok choy. Peas and other veggies appear in the next two steeps as the florals subside. I sneaked in a fourth steep, which was completely vegetal.
This was a pleasant green tea that would probably do well cold steeped. It was also the shortest gongfu session I’ve ever done. Thanks, TeaVivre, for allowing me to try it!
Flavors: Bok Choy, Flowers, Green Beans, Peas, Vegetal
As someone who loves teas with natural rose notes, when I saw this Dan Cong on Yunnan Sourcing’s website, I immediately added 50 g to my shopping cart. Then I sat on it for a month because I didn’t want to be the first to review it. However, since there seems to be some curiosity about this tea, I decided to go ahead. 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.
In the bag, this tea smells like generic florals and grass. But in the first steep, it lives up to its name, with rose, grass, cream, and other florals. (The grassiness becomes very prominent when it cools, so it’s best to drink this tea hot.) The rose is stronger in the next steep, but so is the grassy background note. I think there are some orchids and other flowers in there as well, but the rose is the most apparent, especially in the aftertaste.
By steep three, this tea has come into its rosy glory, but that astringent grassiness is still in the background. It’s kind of like a spicy pink tea rose—or maybe that’s just the power of suggestion. There are hints of cream, honey, and gentle apricot in the later steeps, but really, it’s all about the rose. The rose lasts well into the ninth steep, after which the tea returns to grass and florals.
A complicated tea this is not, but it does deliver on its promise. I kind of wish there was more to it, though. I gave it such a high rating because the rose is lovely, but I can see people getting bored with it.
Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honey, Orchid, Rose, Sweet, Vegetal
I bought this tea in 2015 during my “I need to try everything immediately” phase. Eventually, around 2020, I hope to have worked through my stash of old purchases. This was a pretty reasonably priced Jin Jun Mei, so I’m not sure how representative it is.
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 first steep has notes of malt, honey, and Triscuits (weird, I know), with a punch of tannins and astringency in the finish. The next few steeps add notes of wood, grain, cardboard, and minerals, with an intriguing tomato vine aroma that doesn’t make it into the taste. I find this tea to be very drying in the mouth in spite of its honey-like sweetness. By steep eight, the liquor is mostly malt, tannins, and minerals.
While I enjoyed the honey and mineral notes, this tea is quite astringent if you use too much of it. It’s also rather long in the tooth. That having been said, I’ll have no trouble finishing this JJM and will consider buying another one in the future.
Flavors: Astringent, Cardboard, Grain, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Tannin, Wood
I enjoyed the 2016 version of this tea so much that I bought 25 g of the 2018 harvest. Using the same steeping parameters, I got the same jasmine, citrus peel, orange, guava, and vegetal (broccoli, spinach) notes as were present in the 2016 harvest, making this a refreshing Dan Cong for what I hope will be the last hot day of the summer. I got a good seven steeps before the inevitable vegetal fadeout.
If you like greener, floral- and citrus-heavy Dan Congs, I highly recommend this tea.
Flavors: Broccoli, Citrus, Gardenias, Guava, Jasmine, Orange Zest, Perfume, Spinach, Vegetal
This is a free sample I received with my most recent order. My web browser and TeaVivre’s shopping cart system do not get along, and I had to e-mail them my choice of samples after the purchase. Without being able to see the list of samples, I asked for their Li Shan, and they gave me this Ali Shan Jin Xuan instead. While I’m grateful to TeaVivre for their excellent customer service, Alishan is the white bread of high mountain oolongs and I would have picked something else if I’d known that the Li Shan wasn’t offered.
I followed their instructions and steeped 7 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 25, 25, 30, 40, 60, 90, 120, and 180 seconds.
The first steep has notes of white flowers, peas, cornhusk, and cream. Even with 7 g, the liquor is sweet and pungent with no astringency. Subsequent steeps have notes of lettuce, kale, and more flowers. By the fifth steep, this tea is entirely vegetal.
Although the first couple steeps were pretty good, this Alishan faded quickly and was fairly uncomplicated. I imagine it would make a tasty cold brew.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Kale, Lettuce, Peas, Sweet, Vegetal
This is a sipdown of a TGY I bought in the spring of 2016. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 seconds.
The first steep is grassy, tangy, and very floral. In the second, notes of orchids, violets, cream, peach, and grass become more prominent. (I never actually thought I’d use the descriptor “sweet, warm grass,” but that’s exactly what this is.) Though the tea isn’t astringent, it has a drying quality in the mouth. The wonderful peachy florals continue for around six steeps, and are joined by herbaceous and vegetal notes later in the session.
I’m finding that the better (and pricier) the Tie Guan Yin, the harder it is to pick apart the flavours. Maybe for this type of tea, quality is measured by its smoothness and consistency rather than its variety or evolution. Anyway, I’m sure this tea also deteriorated somewhat due to age. I look forward to opening my 7 g packet of 2016 Competition TGY.
Flavors: Cream, Drying, Floral, Herbaceous, Orchid, Peach, Round , Sweet, warm grass, Tangy, Vegetal, Violet
I’m surprised this is the first review of this tea. Thanks, TeaVivre, for sending it as part of a free sample promotion earlier this year. I put the entire 7 g sample in a 120 ml teapot, which it filled right to the brim. Steeps were at 200F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 seconds.
This lives up to its name, with honey, orchid, mild roast, and lychee-like sweetness. There’s a slight astringency in the aftertaste, which is not surprising given the amount of leaf. In later infusions, notes of wood, minerals, and veggies emerge.
Although this was by no means a complex tea, its honey and orchid character was pronounced and pleasant. I’ll have no problem finishing the two other samples I have on hand, and would consider buying more if I didn’t already own three other iterations of this type of tea.
Flavors: Astringent, Honey, Lychee, Mineral, Orchid, Roasted, Vegetal, Wood
This is the final Tie Guan Yin in my set of free samples. (Thanks, Teavivre!) I steeped 7 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 seconds.
While the first steep is slightly floral, tangy, and vegetal, the tea really gains its stride in steeps 2-3, with strong grassy, butter, tangerine, orchid, floral, coriander, and tannin notes. Seven grams may have been a bit too much leaf, since the aftertaste is bitter and vegetal. By steep six, a lot of the fruit is starting to disipate, to be replaced by minerals and grass. The astringency is a lot more noticeable in this TGY than in the two others I tried.
Although this Tie Guan Yin had a promising beginning, it didn’t have the staying power of its two siblings. It was also the most vegetal of the bunch. While this would make a good everyday tea, I think TeaVivre offers better options at around the same price point.
Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Citrus, Coriander, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Orchid, Tangy, Vegetal