26 Tasting Notes
This tea I had tried awhile ago but forgot to post the review for it, so this is the second time I have ordered it and reviewed it. I have to say I was in love with it immediately. I will confess this is the only liu bao tea I have tried so I have no basis for comparison. However, I find this tea incredibly interesting and both robust and delicate. For me it conjures the image of willy wonka, if he had a tea (instead of an everlasting gobstopper) that turned from chicken soup and then into a flower. Odd image and not very professional ‘tea tester language’ I suppose but that’s what I keep getting with this tea on separate occasions of review.
Gongfu’d (but have steeped it western style before and noticed no real difference)
First steep (no wash). 30ish seconds 195 F lilac body with orchid notes immediately hit palate and it smooths out and leaves a slight floral , mostly lilac, flavor lingering. The brewed leaves and tea soup smell interesting, like creamy chicken noodle soup. Very savory and wonderful; there is the surprising twist of the tea being floral and sweet. A nice copper tea soup color.
2nd steep, 200F 30 seconds: the lilac is out in full front, the orchid is still there as well. Conjuring past memories of fresh ‘hawaiian orchid lei’ . The tea has developed some bitter notes, but doesn’t detract and is still very pleasant (and this from someone who normally hates bitter tastes). It pairs well and brings out the lilac flavors. (Anyone who has tasted or smelt lilacs knows that there is that slight pugnent bitterness to it, and that’s what I am getting here).
3rd steep, 195 30 seconds: Smooths out a little bit, flavors less pronounced but I wanted to bring the bitter down a little bit afraid that it will develop in a negative way. The orchid comes out a little more here. Still drinkable and floral but the flavors are dying down a little bit. Orchid notes lingering on the tongue. I would probably stay at 195 F in the future, but 200 works as well.
4th steep, 205 50 seconds: Experimenting at a higher temperature. Tea still drinkable and floral with orchid lingering on tongue with slight pleasant bitter notes. This is probably where I will drop off but it might be good for another 2 or 3 rounds I am just avoiding more caffeine intake at this late of an hour.
This tea is not very long-lasting; however, for myself, the ‘thick creamy chicken soup’ smell of the brewed leaves contrasting against the delicate and floral tea itself is kind of a novelty which I happen to enjoy. I find the price to be extremely en pointe (16.50/250 grams). I had planned on ordering more of this but ended up ordering other samples instead. Will probably order a larger batch in the future.
Flavors: Chicken Soup, Floral, Orchid, Pleasantly Sour
I will say within the first sip of this I could tell that I wasn’t the intended target audience for this tea.
Unfortuntely, I must have read the description wrong as YS was very accurate in describing it now that I am rereading it.
The tea itself is obviously good quality: it brews many steeps, and is nice and viscous in the mouth. Be very careful not to over steep this tea if you are going western style; I did a 20 second wash and followed with a 30 second gongfu at 200-205F and it was already very dark at that point.If you enjoy bittersweet chocolate or dark chocolate 85% and higher or if you have semi-developed palate then this tea is for you.
It has very consistent bitter notes, not something I enjoy in tea, with some slight orange notes and light pepper taste. Overall, bittersweet chocolate is a good way to describe this tea.
It is very strong, dark and of a thick consistency. It was not an easy drinker for me, and it felt like the tea version of biting into high quality chocolate. I ended up drinking the 5th steep with a high fruit/hazelnut (sugary) breakfast and it kind of sat in the background and brought out the nuts; it was very nice taken that way but probably not what it was designed for. I’ll most likely just drink alongside food after this review.
There is a nice, slight tingling sensation that occurs in the mouth area. It does leave a lingering, chocolate aftertaste though; which I can admit was pleasant.
In my own personal book this tea would be about a 65 as it’s going to be a hard drinker for me and the cost was rather high; however, it is my fault for not reading the description properly and the tea obviously clocks in at a higher rating based on the factors I mention above.
This is probably obvious but don’t get this tea if you do not care for bittersweet
chocolate (cooking chocolate).
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Orange Zest, Pepper, Thick
An interesting tea. I received this as a sample but had been eyeing this type of tea before and was unsure of whether or not to take the leap. Gongfued and started out with a 20 second steep at 195-200F, move to 30 seconds, 1 minute and then 2-5 minutes in the later steeps at 200F.I will say that I thought this would be a little more ‘smoky’ (a flavor I happen to like) but there is nothing of that in the actual tea; it is sweet with a starchy, roasted presence generally speaking . I would probably avoid this as a ceremonial tea due to how offensive the leaves smell when the hot water hits them but otherwise a great little oolong that I would order again. It maintains a nice mustardish color through all of the steeps ( I did 6). Overall mild smoothness, no bitter notes that I could detect.
It starts off with very noticeable honey notes intertwined with a roasted flavor, the honey trickling through throughout. Again, the actual leaves (not the tea itself) smell awful, strongly burnt dates /molasses throughout the 6 steeps. Would not advise smelling them; probably the worst I have encountered. Probably to be expected due to how this tea is made though.
With the 2nd steep , roasted flavor comes out to the front a bit more the honey notes die off somewhat. They are still there but more to the back.
3rd steep: honey notes come back, the roasted flavor emerges as the main body of this tea; subtle apple undertones.
4th: 2 min. steep A thick roasted nut flavor barges out front to take the lead with a subtle creme brulee burnt sugar taste (the good kind of burnt) now trailing it with a crisp mouthful finish and lingering honey notes. I would say this is probably my favorite state of this tea, nice complexity.
5th steep: 3-5 minute steep at 200ish F. roasted flavor dies off quickly, the sweetness is left over and is more floral but the actual specific flavors are not as
tangible now. Goes pretty weak after this steep and just has a light mild roast flavor. Still drinkable as of the 6th steep but nothing worth recording as the complex flavors have all died off at this point. Finished at the 7th steep mark but had to spike it pretty good to reach that point. Surprisingly this tea left those crisp apple notes lingering well after I had stopped drinking it. Wonderful.
Flavors: Honey, Roasted, Sugar
I’m mixed on this tea. On the one hand it has a good medium body with a roasted peanut taste and great viscousness in the mouth. However, a couple imperfections which will keep me from investing in a brick. It has an acrid aftertaste which lingers on the tongue; it’s not an unnatural taste that feels wrong or chemical but I don’t particularly care for it. It is an easy to deal with tea and is not picky and brews many steeps. There are underlying notes of sweetness which never fully form into a particular flavor and they go on to create that bitter aftertaste . This tea was first brewed at 185 steeped until I found the taste pleasant (3 minutes apx) with a large amount of leaf and taken out and resteeped at 195 F for 5 minutes or so. I’ve had other Hei Chas and this one does not have the sweetness I really enjoy. The flavors are simultaneously too flat and too complex. Yu initially expect great things of it with the robust, sweet flavor coming immediately to the forefront but it never evolves and instead leaves you with contradicting flavors and a bitter , lingering sour note. Normally I don’t mind teas which are little basic but this does not work for me.
Flavors: Bitter, Peanut, Sweet
I’ve had good milk oolongs and bad oolongs, I’d say this is one of the more flavorful ones I’ve had. The milk taste is very obvious and it has a coconut tinge to it with some mild lilac undertones on the second steep. Smooth and fragrant. I didn’t experiment too much with it, but following vendor instructions yielded excellent results: 1 tsp, steeped at 190 for about a minute. It was good for multiple steeps. I got a very nice uplifting energy from this as well, which was unexpected.
One trait that I value in a tea is that it holds its taste and doesn’t become bitter if I accidentally forget about it. This tea, surprisingly, is not picky at all. There were a couple cups that I left steeping for much longer then I should have and it retained its original taste very well.
The cost of the tea itself is very nice – affordable and good value. I’ve paid much more for much worse. I felt that the money I paid for was well spent and will buy again.
Flavors: Coconut, Floral, Milk
Having now sampled a large variety of purples I can safely add this one to my long list of ‘favorites’. This one is incredibly fragrant out of the box. The tea is very well balanced in all aspects: flavor, color, smoothness,etc. The overall body is medium; not overwhelming bold but has a backbone. The main body is fruit; I get red grapes from it with a hint of roasted flavors and very slight citrus notes. It has a crisp texture to it; alert but neither smooth nor bitter. Normally I brew purples at 185 F but I found that this one does better at 180F for 3 minutes or so. A very simple but nice tea. I think it might make great iced tea.
Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Grapes, Roasted
This tea seems to have good reviews so take mine with a grain of salt. I let this air out for a couple days, gave it a good ten second rinse. It has a beautiful deep brownish red colored soup. That’s about all I find pleasant about this tea. The scent of the brew is a black strap molasses (I like molasses but does not flatter this tea). The overall taste is dark and deep. The base flavor is a dark dark chocolate (90% cacao) with hints of tobacco. The overall tea is very bold and smooth but there is a bitter ashy/chocolate aftertaste that lingers on the tongue. The complexity is medium. This tea is not for me, but others might enjoy it. The dark chocolate in a bold cup sounds good in theory, but this tea is just not a good balance of flavor. Unique yes. Delicious? No. This tea gives my tongue nightmares.
Flavors: Ash, Dark Chocolate, Molasses, Tobacco
Excellent tea. I am not the most stringent rinser, but, this tea does require it. I rinsed for 7 seconds. It should brew a dark golden liquor for the 1st ‘drinking’ steep. It starts off with a spicy, woodsy (carpenter’s shop) taste. The spice taste ends abruptly but the woodsy taste stays consistently and develops honey notes in the middle. The ending is what makes this tea special; the spice taste returns and the honey notes evolve into green apple. This spiced apple (cinnamon + nutmeg or apple spice) aftertaste lingers on the tongue for awhile. The tea has a medium boldness, and is fairly smooth but with subtle astringency as well (which becomes more pronounced in later steeps). I thoroughly enjoyed the intense complexity, and ‘nature’ flavors present in this tea. There is no noticeable wet soil taste, just a deep wood flavor. In the later steeps the spice/apple flavors diminish and the ‘woodsy’ flavor remains strong. A great tea for anyone who is looking to expand their aged tea repertoire….though I wouldn’t recommend it as someone’s first crack at fermented/aged teas. Might add more to this later.
Flavors: Green Apple, Honey, Spices, Wood
Another tea I put off reviewing. Kind of mediocre. It’s fairly smooth with some light astrigency and bitter notes. Not much complexity here, and a touch on the bland side, but I won’t hold that against it as I prefer my ‘staple’ teas to be smooth and basic. I agree with another reviewer in that it tastes like a black (basic assam) tea….and actually reminds me of lipton tea but with a tad more complexity and some sweet honey notes that finish up at the end. Honestly, this tea isn’t all that memorable or enchanting (no cha qi) so I won’t order again because there are too many teas out there which have more to offer. What could be expected for the price? ….. the economical price might make it good for Kombucha or as a basic staple. It held many steeps.
Flavors: Astringent, Honey, Pepper