412 Tasting Notes
I got a sample of this one in the Chawang Group buy I participated in earlier this year. I found this to be a pretty powerful tea. Flavors I noted were floral and slightly piney; this tea absolutely possesses a good amount of astringency and bitterness (more bitter than astringent though). This can be mitigated by brewing with a very light hand (or likely by using cooler water, though I did all my sessions at a boil).
The tea’s texture was quite thick in my mouth and as it went down my throat. I perceived a slight bit of energy, at points during the session, but only when I was really focused on it. This one seems like it would take well to aging. From what I’ve heard, Chawang selects more for teas which will be good with age rather than ones which are good young. While this one is tasty at this age, I think it would benefit from aging for sure.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Floral, Pine, Thick
I’ve recently been rediscovering an appreciation for shou, which I’ve put on the back-burner since I started getting really into sheng shortly into my tea journey. It seems to be coinciding with my coming around to more dankly stored aged sheng. This is a sample I bought around Black Friday or so I believe. I smelled a bit of fermentation on the dry leaf, but I didn’t get much of any in the flavor, though that is likely aided by the fact that I generally double-rinse shou.
I have heard some tea-friends mentioning that this tea tastes like almost nothing, or that they found it difficult to illicit strong flavor from it using more conventional parameters. I would certainly agree with that. I used about 8g:100mL in my sessions, which is pretty standard for what I do with shou. The flavor was lighter than I would expect with those parameters, but I think that’s kind of just how this tea is. For me, this one is much more about texture than flavor. It had a thickness which did remind me a bit of cream. The flavor was pleasant and unintrusive – a light chocolatey sweetness with a bit of a deeper earthy flavor just slightly present. It was good, but didn’t ever really take precedence over the thick and creamy texture.
Another teafriend told me that this one does well with super-high brewing parameters, that it comes out like brownies. I can definitely see that considering the chocolatey notes I got here and the creamy texture.
Flavors: Chocolate, Creamy, Earth, Sweet, Thick
Found this old “Dark Matter” sample the other day and figured I’d brew it up. The leaves had a bit of a honey, roasty aroma. Pretty sweet smelling.
The tea was thick and a bit floral, with a pretty nice honey note throughout the session. As I progressed, the tea started to taste just a bit rough/sour, likely due to the roasting. It would probably be better with a year or two more rest. Also might have helped to brew with slightly cooler water.
This tea was alright, but I’d definitely go for a good roasted TW oolong over this. Or maybe Red Buffalo if you’re set on something a little different.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Roasted
Another pretty good Shui Xian Pillow from Hello Teatime. I think I can probably skip these green ones if i ever order from them again, though I wouldn’t mind having a few. They remind me of a mix between Tieguanyin and Taiwanese Gaoshan. This one had a notably sticky floral flavor to it. It did get a touch bitter at times, likely because I used the whole ~8.5g square in a 100mL gaiwan with boiled water, but I enjoyed it even when it did become bitter.
Flavors: Floral, Narcissus, Sweet, Thick
I got a small amount of this tea from a teafriend with whom I swapped. The leaves are spindly and pretty long. Perhaps in part due to their age, I didn’t pick up much aroma from the dried leaves.
The tea was vegetal in flavor for the most part, reminding me most of sugar snap peas. Despite the fact it was definitely not a fresh green, the finish was crisp and refreshing, trending towards grassy as the session progressed. This tea did not get astringent or bitter when oversteeped.
I was pretty impressed with how this tea was, considering it’s a 3.5 year old green tea.
Flavors: Grass, Vegetal
I received a free sample of this one with my last FLT order. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too impressed by it. I did two sessions. In the first one, the flavor had a bit of an unpleasant sour characteristic to it, though that was likely not helped by the fact that I overleafed it a bit. I kept steep times down, so I wouldn’t have expected it to impact the flavor to that level, but it definitely could have been user error.
On the second session, I got more of what i would expect from a DHP. It was smooth and mineral-y, with a slight bit of fruit distantly detectable in the aftertaste. On this session, though, the flavor was very light – even when I steeped it rather hard – and the tea did not have very impressive longevity.
Certainly possible I just didn’t brew this well, as I’ve come to expect pretty good teas from FLT, but this one was not a particularly good one for me.
Flavors: Mineral, Roasted
One of a number of samples I got of more affordable (i.e. not $600/cake) HLH sheng. The dry leaf on this one had a nice and pretty classically Yiwu-smelling profile. After a rinse, it was more savory, with some soft sweetness underneath.
The tea had a good balance of astringency and sweetness, with mostly softer vegetal flavors on the front of the sip, followed by a nice and sweet huigan which fills the mouth. The liquor was thick and comforting. This was an easy tea to drink, though interesting enough not to be boring. I noticed some good throat-feeling from this tea, especially in the mid steeps when it was really opened up and giving its all.
The combination of the thick texture and the vegetal notes I was getting occasionally reminded me of potato – like plain mashed potato, oddly enough. A good one to try, but not much of a standout. Texture was its strongest quality with pleasant flavor to go alongside it.
Flavors: Floral, Potato, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal
Received this tea in whichever w2t club package gave us three little oolong packets a little while ago. This one’s name definitely suited it. The dry leaf has a sweet, milky aroma which was somehow cool and airy to me. The wet leaf smelled like sweet/salty kettle corn with a bit of a milky underpinning.
The flavor starts off slightly vegetal and green, but still floral – I’m thinking floral stems – with a slight fruity finish, like peach rind. As the session progresses, the vegetal start builds sweetness until it evens out into just a sweet and creamy flavor with a strong, but not punchy, lingering floral finish. The tea had a strong and noticeable throat-tightening feeling. Interestingly, the floral finish got more intense and faster rising as I got closer to the end of the session. The last few steeps had a soft vegetal note, like cucumber, still in front of that floral finish.
I also tried the tea with slightly hotter water (205F vs 195F), and found it to be a good deal more vegetal, almost sharply so, especially in the early session. The finish was floral and creamy from the get-go. As the session progressed, the heavy vegetal note smoothed out, and the floral finish got deeper even than it had in the previous session – almost sticky as well. The session with hotter water just kept going and going as well.
I’m not sure which water temp I preferred it at. I really would’ve preferred to get a bigger bag of it so I could to some more experimentation. The little club packet was barely enough for two small sessions. Might consider picking up 50g of it in my next w2t order.
Flavors: Creamy, Cucumber, Floral, Milk, Vegetal
One of a few sheng samples I picked up from BTT a little while ago. I have heard that some of their stuff is really dank, so I was sort of prepared for that going in. The dry leaf definitely does smell a little bit humid, and also has a slightly sweet woody character. After a rinse, the aroma was much more musty/humid.
The flavor, unsurprisingly, started off pretty dank. It was only really up front about it for the first 2-3 steeps though. After that, it was a much more mellow woody, earthy flavor. It’s evident this tea wasn’t super-humidly stored, as it still has some youth to it. The steeped out leaves still show a bit of a green hue, and the tea can definitely get astringent (even a little sour) if oversteeped. The tea brews out for a decent while as well. Texture is pleasantly thick. I didn’t pick up much of any qi off of the tea.
Potentially a good daily drinker type of cake for somebody who prefers aged sheng. It’s not complex, but it’s pleasant and at $79 for a full-sized cake, is a pretty good value for decent (not amazing) 15 year old tea.
Flavors: Earth, Musty, Sweet, Wood
Another little packet I ordered from Hello Teatime last 11/11. I was hopeful when I smelled the dry leaf – it was sweet, like a lightly burnt sugar. After a rinse, the scent was more prominently roasty, with a bit of an underlying fruity sweetness – almost like red wine.
Unfortunately, once I got to tasting the tea, it only disappointed. A lot of the characteristics I sometimes get in Tie Guan Yin that makes me think it’s not one of my favorite styles of tea. The flavor started off nice and bready, but very light. Against my expectations, the flavor didn’t really start to pick up anymore after the first steep. I started to get some really unpleasant sourness on the finish, magnified as the tea cooled a bit. I get that more often in green TGY than roasted. Other than that, the flavor was pretty flat. There was sometimes a nice grassy sweet aftertaste, but it didn’t last long and was usually overshadowed by the sourness.
Flavors: Roasted, Sour, Sweet