363 Tasting Notes
Super cheap Da Hong Pao I picked up from Dragon Tea House on Ali on 11/11 I believe. It’s…passable, but I wouldn’t give it any higher praise than that. Some decently nice mineral and roasty notes for the first few steeps, but within just three or four steeps, it starts picking up a bit of a funky note that I kind of associate with steeped out roasted oolongs. Kind of a rotting floral/wood note or something – normally it’s not bad, because it only sort of appears at the end of a session, but in this tea it showed up early and made the second half of the session a bit unpleasant. Drinkable, but definitely not very good in my opinion.
Flavors: Floral, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet
This was a pretty interesting tea. I found it to be a bit better western, but worked alright gongfu as well. The hand-tied bundles come apart pretty easily. The leaves have a slightly grapey aroma, and this flavor is pretty prominent in the flavor as well. Perhaps could be described as a muscatel note. It’s just a little bit sour at some points, but not really unpleasant. I also pick up occasional spice notes – not really cinnamon, but kind of close. I didn’t take very good notes drinking this tea, so I don’t remember a whole lot aside from those couple flavors. It interesting enough that I enjoyed drinking it, but not good enough that I need to go buy more of it or anything.
Flavors: Muscatel, Pleasantly Sour, Spices
Got a sample of this tea from Hokdor as part of the slackchat Secret Santea tea exchange. The leaf didn’t have much in the way of aroma when dry, but after a rinse, it smelled wonderful. Slightly damp and musty woodiness and a touch of camphor.
I only rinsed it once, and perhaps paid for this as the first steep was a little bit funky tasting, but that went away mostly by the second steep and fully by the third. The flavor started off with some damp woody sweet notes (not dank, just a bit moist) – as it progressed, the woodiness got a little stronger and cleaner. The texture was nice and thick, as shou should be. I didn’t really taste any of the camphorous notes I detected in the aroma. This was a really solid shou, very little fermentation or funkiness to it.
Flavors: Smooth, Thick, Wood
Tried this yesterday as my first flavored Milk Oolong. The scent from the leaves was milky and sweet, but also had a bit of a buttery popcorn or caramel corn vibe to it. That taste came through pretty strongly for the first three steeps, after which it tapered off for a couple more. I have heard that these flavored Jin Xuan are often pretty low quality leaf, but this seemed to transition into just a pleasant and slightly creamy floral tea after the flavoring was mostly steeped out of it. Not bad, but personally I think I prefer unflavored Jin Xuan.
Flavors: Caramel, Creamy, Floral, Milk, Popcorn, Sweet
I had a very strange few sessions with a tea I received in some reddit swap a few months ago over the weekend and into today. The tea was an oolong which the person I swapped with told me came from a friend of his in Taiwan – it was labeled only as “Floral Oolong Green Tea.” It was a green rolled oolong – no roasting involved. When I first smelled the leaf, I instantly though “Jin Xuan.” It had a floral, slightly milky and almond sweet scent. I had enough for three sessions. The first two were very different from the last one – a testament to samples which are large enough to get multiple attempts at a tea, though this was a drastic example.
My first two sessions used 5.5g of leaf/100mL with water at 200F and 185F respectively. In both these sessions, the leaf had a strangely mariney, seaweed aroma after the rinse, with a touch of floral remaining. This carried on into the flavor as well. It tasted quite a bit like seaweed, and it was a savory flavor as well, with a bit of saltiness to it. During some parts of the session, a nice floral sweetness would poke its way through, but it seemed to last only a couple steeps before the marine flavors returned.
Today’s session, in which I used 6g and boiled water, was COMPLETELY different. The tea had a more familiar notes for green taiwanese oolongs in my experience. Very sweet floral with a bit of honey in the taste as well. The only thing at all like the seaweed of the previous sessions was a bit of a vegetal note that popped up here and there, but did not have a marine character.
This tea confused the crap out of me. If it hadn’t been two sessions on two different days, I would have totally written off the whole seaweed thing as an off-tasting day for me, but it doesn’t seem that was the case. I almost wish I had more of this so I could find out which profile was enigmatic and which I could bring out consistently. Did the boiled water make that much of a difference? I feel like I’ll never know. Definitely a funny tea to spend the weekend with.
This is the second of these Shui Xian Pillows I’ve tried from Hello Teatime. It was not as good as the “Pleasure” series one I had before. I used the whole 8g in my 100mL gaiwan with boiled water, and the flavor was pretty shockingly weak. There was some nice and sweet floral flavor, but not much else, and it wasn’t too strong. After making it through 8 or 9 steeps, I dumped the whole 8g into my 12oz mug which I use for grandpa style, hoping I could pull some more flavor out of the leaves this way, but the strength was no greater than when I was steeping it in the gaiwan. Not sure if this one just happened to be a bit old or stale or whatever, but pretty disappointing compared to the previous one I tried.
Flavors: Floral, Sweet
Note: This is the version W2T sent out in a recent teaclub box – I think a new version from their previous stock.
This was quite an interesting tea, and certainly different from any other Da Hong Pao I’ve tried. The dry leaves have a nutty sweet aroma, augmented by a bit of mineral and maybe chocolate. After a rinse, they smelled roasty and medicinal, with the notable stank of weed as well. I kind of thought I was imagining it, and that part of the aroma didn’t stick around for the whole session, but I’m pretty sure it’s there at least in the early-going.
Even having three sessions of this tea, I found the flavors a bit difficult to describe and pick out. I think it’s a pretty complex tea. It started out a bit lighter in texture than I expected, with a mineral note and a very sweet, slightly fruity aftertaste. It also produced some pretty immediate and strong (especially for a non-puerh tea) body feeling.
The tea smoothed out a bit as the session went on and the flavors seemed to meld together into a bit of a sweet mineral and medicinal taste. The tea also packed a solid qi punch. The longevity is not particularly impressive, but it’s also not abhorrently bad.
On my final session with this tea, some of the leaf was a bit crushed up. This, along with the fact I used just a bit more than I normally would to finish off the sample, led to a sort of oversteeped tea which I found pretty unpleasant and funky, especially in the early steeps. Other yancha, including Da Hong Pao, have been more suited to this kind of heavy brewing than this one seems to be.
While I did enjoy this tea, I can see it would not appeal to everybody, including people who are fans of a more typical Da Hong Pao. I’m not sure it’s one I’ll really consider buying more of, but I think it’s a good one to have tried, and I’m sure will really appeal to some people a lot.
Flavors: Fruity, Medicinal, Mineral, Nutty, Roasted, Sweet
Yesterday’s last tea was another out of my Liquid Proust Mystery Grab Bag. It was labeled “Pear Mountain,” which I’m pretty sure is what Lishan translates to, and it certainly looked like a high mountain oolong. The leaves had a nice sweetcorn aroma with a bit of greenness and floral notes as well.
I tasted a lot of corn sweetness in this one for the first steep, with a slight floral finish. After that, the front of the sip transitioned to a bit of a greener vegetal note, but still quite sweet, with that crisp and refreshing floral finish so often found in greener Taiwanese oolongs of a high quality. The tea had a pleasantly thick and creamy texture as well. Not sure where this one came from, but it was a pleasure to drink.
Flavors: Floral, Green, Sweet, Vegetal
I was pretty lukewarm about this tea the last time I tried it – I think my tastes are changing enough that I didn’t think the basementy aroma from the leaf was too egregious, and maybe was even a good thing. I just finished off the last of my original 50g of this tea, and I might have to order some more next time I place a YS order.
It does taste a bit damp and musty, like an autumn leaf pile, but I also got a lot of sweetness and a bit of spiciness from it. There were also vegetal and muddy (in a good way of course) notes. The tea was decently thick, but not like shou when it comes out like motor oil. It was warming and had a slight calming qi to it. I was pretty put-off by this when I first tried it, but after getting a bit more of a feel for heicha, it’s cool to sort of bear witness to my own tastes changing.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Mud, Spicy, Vegetal
This was a pretty nice tea – I got a packet with around 7g…can’t remember if I paid for it or if it was tossed in as a freebie. The leaves had a sweet and floral smell with just a touch of peach.
The flavor, especially in the first few steeps, matched the aroma. Lots of high floral notes with a bit of peachy fruitiness to round out the flavor. Probably orchid for the floral, but I’m really still not too great at picking out individual floral flavors. After a few steeps, there was a bit of a milkiness working its way into the flavor, which I appreciated. There wasn’t a whole lot of bitterness, though some of the middle steeps did seem to fall a bit flat in the finish. Seems like it would be a good daily drinker for Dancong lovers as long as the price is right. Not particularly interesting or eye-opening, but tasty and easy to appreciate.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Milk, Orchid, Peach, Sweet