167 Tasting Notes


Well, here we have a purple tea. To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of purple teas for the same reason that I am not a fan of scented or flavored teas – the “purple tea” flavors (the funky fruitiness it seems to have) is so strong that it overrides any other flavors. Don’t get me wrong, the funky fruit purple tea flavors are awesome, but they can start to get a little tiresome for me.

That said, Yunnan Sourcing has a great selection of purple teas to explore – different varietals, different styles (including green, oolong, white, black, pu’erh…). Personally, I have had a couple of purple pu’erhs, the moonlight white, and this. I’ll have to revisit the pu’erhs again, but I will say that I think this black tea is a more successful vehicle for the purple tea flavors than the white tea.

The black tea just has more body and stronger flavors that can compete with the in-your-face fruitiness. There is a strong caramel note that cuts through the fruit, and just enough bitterness that keeps things from being cloyingly sweet and one-note.

Finally, there were some really interesting spice notes that reminded me of the spiced oatmeal/streusel topping you would put on cobbler. Really nice.
Dry leaf – fruit (melon, papaya, peach), notes of malt, caramel, hint of milk chocolate, mint. In preheated vessel – funky fruitiness gets stronger, berry cobbler, spiced oatmeal, pecan nuttiness

Smell – berry cobbler, spiced oatmeal, melon, papaya, peach, bitter caramel

Taste – slightly burnt caramel, raw almond, funky fruit (cobbler, papaya, peach). Fruit flavors develop in aftertaste, but are tempered by malt and caramel undertones. Hints of cola as aftertaste develops.

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An excellent choice for a daily drinker Wu Yi. It is packed with flavor and comes in at an unbelievable price of $6 for 50g.

The charcoal roast is present, but arrives as a roasted nut and dark caramel sweetness. Nut flavors arrive with mineral notes, with a chocolate and spice base. Citrus and berry flavors arrive in aftertaste.

Good longevity, giving multiple infusions with solid flavor. Really nice balance of mineral, nut, sweet, and fruit flavors.

Overall, a great experience at a great price. As it stands, this is currently on my list to buy in bulk for my next YS purchase. This is easily one of the best Wu Yi buys out there.
Dry leaf – chocolate, roasted peanut, warm baking spices; hints of red currant, tart raspberry, and blackberry coulee. In preheated vessel – charcoal roast flavors come out, dark caramel, fruit flavors

Smell – chocolate, roasted peanut, raspberry, blackberry, dark caramel, some hints at charcoal roast

Taste – wet rock minerality, peanut shell, heavily roasted nut, warm spice. Chocolately finish. Aftertaste of tart raspberry, and orange peel citrus notes, hints of brown sugar and almond. Some orange-chocolate and hay notes arrive later in aftertaste.

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drank Hibiscus Rush by Vahdam Teas
167 tasting notes

This seemed like a festive thing to try today. I brewed it two ways: 1) gong fu (as ridiculous as that is!), and 2) as instructed – Western style, with sugar, chilled.

Even though the flavors were much sharper and more tart gong-fu style, I have to say that I preferred the kick as opposed to the Western style. Chilled and sweetened, it tasted like a sort of strawberry-lemonade mix that you would make from a powder. Not bad at all – tasty, in fact – but not really something I crave. Gong-fu style, the flavors had more of a tart whallop of citrus and fruit, which is more my style.

I have to say that, whatever your preference is, there are two things that I appreciate about this tea (it does have tea leaves, not just flowers and stuff). First, when you open the packet, you are greeted with big chunks of fruit and cardamom pods. Second, the addition of cardamom is genius. It arrives especially in the aftertaste, picking up just as the tartness dies down, and adds a wonderful savory, herbal sweetness to end on. This addition adds much more depth and complexity to the experience.

There you have it. I’m way outside of my experience and comfort zone here, but it was fun!
Dry leaf – orange balanced with sweetness of pomegranate and cranberry and floral of hibiscus. Some herbal hints of cardamom.

Smell – hibiscus, fruit of pomegranate and cranberry, citrus of orange. Very slight malty and nutty background notes from black tea.

Taste – rush of tart citrus and fruit flavors – cranberry, pomegranate, and orange prevalent. Finish becomes dry and slightly nut shell / husk-like. Cardamom herbal sweetness arrives in aftertaste.

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Overall, OK. There are some nice sweet notes of caramel and toasted marshmallow, but there is a fairly prevalent bitter nuttiness that is not particularly pleasant. Again, I brewed this gong fu style and did nothing in terms of milk or sugar. The bitterness would probably be welcome if you brew Western style and add something to it.

I did my best to adjust my leaf ratio, temps, and steep times, but I think what I have here is simply a good tea for Western brewing. Milk would cut down the bitterness and accentuate the nutty and sweet notes.

Dry leaf: grape leaf, sassafras, red currant, some nuttiness, hints of caramel. In preheated vessel: nuttiness and caramel more prevalent, tart fruitiness.

Smell: green nut, caramel, some red fruit, toasted marshmallow

Taste: green/bitter nut, black pepper, toasted marshmallow, finish of caramel, aftertaste of caramel and some red fruit

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This tea seems to be very susceptible to changes in brewing parameters. It is very easy to get unpleasant “green nut” bitterness if overleafed or oversteeped.

I only had a 10g sample split across two sessions. Overall, I wasn’t terribly impressed; the flavor was similar to an underwhelming Darjeeling black. The green nut-like bitterness was present in many of the brews – BUT, this could be my fault for attempting this gong fu style. The aftertaste, though, was rather pleasant.

My first session yielded more fruit flavors, including muscatel “grape leaf” flavors. My second session had more baking spice and caramel notes. So, I am sure this tea will change depending on your palate. Overall, I got vague nut flavors, particularly raw and slightly bitter nut notes. Nice aftertaste followed.

I would be interested to see what the oolong processing added to this tea – I would like to try it as a green or a black. The whole leaves I could find were all very small – about ¾ inch – not what I’m used to seeing as an oolong. It was processed with very light oxidation and there is no roast to speak of.
Dry leaf – grape leaf, some red fruit (red currant, freeze-dried strawberries), horehound, sassafras. Musty with a noticeable bite of bitter herb. In preheated vessel – nuttiness comes through, noticeable sour fruit notes.

Smell – nutty, grape leaf

Taste – green nut, roasted peanut, citrus-like tartness and sourness. Development has some baking spice and caramel as well as green-nut bitterness. Finish has caramel sweetness. Aftertaste of grape leaf, raw nut, caramel, hints of baking spice and fruit.

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I think this will deliver a fine experience for DHP enthusiasts. Personally, though, I found the first infusion nice – caramel-y thick body and powerful flavors – but then it sort of died off. But, that is a complaint that I have with most DHP and quite a few Wu Yi oolongs in general.

The roast is present but not overpowering. Good lasting minerality. Nice fresh flavors in aftertaste of tart red fruit and coriander seed.

There you have it. I have other Wu Yi oolongs that I prefer, but this does deliver a good hit of mineral flavors with some nice fruit flavors in the aftertaste.
Dry leaf – roasted peanut shell, wet rocks, hints of baking spices, freeze-dried strawberries and raspberries. In preheated vessel – charcoal roast prevalent.

Smell – charcoal roast, wet rocks, hint of raspberry

Taste – arrival of charcoal roast, dark caramel, peanut shell, then wet rock minerality. Develops with some hints of cinnamon and baking spice, but overall dry wood and mineral flavors. Finish of coriander seed. Aftertaste of lemongrass, coriander seed, red currant and raspberry.

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I got a sample of this simply because of the novelty of the huge leaves. There is something really rewarding about holding a giant tea leaf in your hand.

What’s even more rewarding is a session of this tea! Really nice vegetal flavors of spinach and corn, with hints of honey and floral sweetness, all finished up with fresh grass and mint flavors.

In general, fairly familiar green tea flavors, but the added bonus of some green oolong-like floral notes. The finish is also nice – fresh grass and mint. The thick vegetal notes transform into a really refreshing aftertaste.

Priced as a premium tea, but still very reasonable and affordable. Well worth the experience.
Dry leaf – buttered yeast roll, roasted corn, tomato vine, fragrant floral. In preheated vessel – thick roasted corn sweetness and nuttiness, wildflower honey, cooked spinach.

Smell – corn and spinach, fragrant floral sweetness

Taste – roasted corn, cooked spinach, fresh grass, hints of wildflower honey. Incredibly sweet and fresh aftertaste – honey, honeysuckle, fresh grass, fresh mint

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Reviewing Dec. 2017, this tea is not currently listed on Vahdam’s site, but was available in their green tea sampler pack.

Overall, this is a mild, sweet and savory tea with a good body. Although I tend to prefer teas with more punch to them, the balance of grassy, sweet, and savory kept me coming back to it.

It’s fairly mild-mannered and soft-spoken, but still maintains a nice body and a complex development of flavors. It reminds me of a Mao Feng I had a while ago. There’s a bit more of an herbal edge to it, which I’ve come to expect from these Indian greens, but overall a nice combination of sweet and savory.
Dry leaf: dried green herb (parsley, cilantro, sassafras), dewy grass. In preheated vessel: roasted peanut, thick honey sweetness, edamame

Smell: light honey and cooked vegetables (edamame)

Taste: dewy grass, light honey, edamame. Honey and tart red fruit in finish. Hints of green herb/spice in aftertaste – mint, cilantro.

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If you are a fan of scented teas, this should probably be at the top of your list. Personally, apart from standard Earl Grey tea bags, scented teas are not something I have experience with. While I still prefer tea leaves by themselves, with no added flavors, this really blew me away with the controlled development of powerful flavors.

First, I think it is worth noting that the tea itself is a green tea – which I think I could pick up on in the finish – hints of the fruity sweetness you would find in a Xinyang Mao Jian. Definitely a green tea with a nice body and sweet, fresh flavors. Although the tea played a behind-the-scenes role, the flavors were a good vehicle for the strong jasmine and bergamot flavors. Also worth noting that the tea leaf grade was FTGFOP1. Quality stuff.

Second, the jasmine and bergamot flavors were very nice – real stuff used, little bits of bergamot floating around… No fake, chemically flavors at all.

The experience starts with a rush of floral jasmine that blends in a measured development with citrusy bergamot. The citrus flavors finally give way to a sweet, candied orange peel flavor that finally transforms into a bubble-gum sweetness. Really an impressive development from start to finish.

An interesting combination, masterfully blended. Despite my doubts regarding scented teas, this really did impress me.
Dry leaf – bergamot, candied orange peel, jasmine

Smell – jasmine is first scent that is noticeable. Then, bergamot citrus sweetness. Bubble gum sweetness apparent. Cannot discern any noticeable green tea notes.

Taste – jasmine floral that softens and subsides into bergamot citrus. Citrus notes become softer and sweeter in development. Some brief sweet, grassy green tea notes in finish with bubble-gum sweetness aftertaste.

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Well, what a difference a flush makes! Still recognizable as a Darjeeling, with its muscatel notes, but having a more prominent nut flavor. It also has more caramel notes instead of the herbal notes of first flush teas.

First, full disclosure – I continue to gong fu brew these teas. This one was very finicky in this method. My first round I overleafed and the brew was extremely astringent. My second round I reduced the leaf ratio and flash brewed well into the 6th or 7th infusion.

The astringency comes from what I can only describe as a unripe/green nut sort of flavor that is woody, nutty, and bitter all at the same time. However, once you get your brews right, the bitterness is interesting and keeps you coming back, like a good cup of black coffee.

Beyond the nutty flavors, there are substantial grape leaf / muscatel notes, as well as some dark/slightly burnt caramel.

I’m sure the astringency and bitterness could be tamed by adding some milk and sugar – but with only 10g to drink from my sample, I wanted to really get to know the tea by itself.
Dry leaf – grape leaf, peanut shell. Secondary notes of sassafras, dried parsley, and chocolate. Hints of cherry cola. In preheated vessel – roasted nut, dark honey, tart and unripe raspberry, citrus.

Smell – roasted nut, grape leaf, unripe/green nut, dried date and fig, blackberry syrup

Taste – grape leaf, woody, unripe/green nut, astringent. Dark, slightly burnt caramel.
Occasional notes of woody spice – cinnamon stick, coriander seed. Tart red fruit and dried date in aftertaste.

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Rating info:
100 – I haven’t found the perfect tea yet!

92-95 – So good that I will purchase this tea again, guaranteed. Excellent flavor and value.

88-91 – A tea that I would consider purchasing again at some point. Great flavor and value.

85-87 – Tea that was worth the purchase and that I enjoyed drinking, although I probably won’t be purchasing it again any time soon. Flavor may have slight drawbacks, or the price might be a little expensive.

80-84 – A tea that has some good points, but falls a bit short on its price:quality ratio. Flavor is a bit mediocre.

No rating – I did not like this tea and would not drink it, given other options.


Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

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