63 Tasting Notes

Received as a generous sample from the proprietor.

Filtered Santa Monica tap water just off the boil throughout. Poured from a pear-shaped purple clay tea-pot into a glass cha hai, and served in a porcelain (“peony”) cup.

8 infusions (no wash), most around 45 seconds – the first was my favorite:

Saffron to Fulvous liquor; Biscuity/faintly-floral aroma with notes of hay and popcorn; Very low roast grain on the palate with meringue/custard and rice pudding elements as well. Medium finish with residual honey, fleeting malt, and faint apricot notes. Longer infusions/higher temperatures seem to flatten out (or better integrate, if I’m being generous) the flavors – although I also get a faint vegetal note suggesting weakly stewed morning glory or water spinach along with a hint of corn when the tea is pushed. Medium-light bodied; Good longevity.

Reminds me of the bug-bitten oolongs I’ve sampled from Taiwan, with similar levels of oxidation and roast (modest but perceptible). An enjoyable not-quite-medium roast tea, fairly responsive to infusion time/temperature, though not finnicky to brew.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

This one was sooo yummy to me :D

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The dry leaves, twisted, fine-haired, and multi-colored (black, green, yellow, gray, in myriad shades) reveal careful attention and skill on the part of the producer, and emit a subtle perfume of hay, wildflowers, and raw sugar cane.

Brewed in my Korean-infuser cup 5g leaf to a bit less than 5oz (filtered L.A. tap) water @ 195ºF.

Gong-fu style infusions, roughly doubling each steep: 10, 15, 45 seconds, 1, 2, 4, and 8 minutes total.

What Cha’s description mirrors my own experience closely:

Pear gold liquid; creamy/biscuity/faintly floral aroma – quite subtle; initial unripe winter fruit note gives way to a complex gentle sweetness, suggesting alfalfa, honey, and melon. Faint spice (cardamom?), earth (worm casings?), and malt in the finish. Hints of pumpkin and baked citrus emerge at times. Lingering/returning sweetness is notable as well. Full bodied and relatively thick for a white tea, yet still largely clean (only the slightest glimmer of vegetal/oxidative notes, mostly restricted to the wet leaves themselves) and free of bitterness/astringency.

Interesting to see a “hand-made” tea come out of industrial/factory production – Kangaita is setting a high standard here.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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The dry leaf has the appearance of kibble or rabbit droppings.

Arylide liquor turning muddy if over-steeped. Ginseng aroma with hints of licorice, orchid, and a faintly medicinal note. The lightly oxidized base tea disappears on the palate with the ginseng dominating. Soft, almost powdery mouth-feel. Finishes sweet with a long lingering aftertaste. Moderately energizing.

I’ll be sticking with the subtle balance of Ten Ren’s king’s tea as their dark oolongs stand up well to a touch of ginseng – by contrast, this tea has an insipid base overwhelmed by the full frontal assault of the flavoring.

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Filtered Santa Monica tap water just off the boil throughout. Poured from a pear-shaped purple clay tea-pot into a glass cha hai, and served in a porcelain (“peony”) cup.

The large, moderately compressed rolled leaves are a beautiful and mysterious shade of dark purple and yield a distinctive, slightly odd vegetal/weed aroma when wet.

First steep at 45 seconds, and subsequent steeps at around 20 – 30 seconds.

Atomic tangerine liquor (with a drop of carmine when pushed); toasty aromatics with hints of dragon beans and old flat-bed pickups driving down a dusty rural road; gentle, slightly sweet, mineral-kissed palate entry with roast sweet potato skins and chestnuts leading into a smooth harmonious finish. No bitterness, char, or astringency. Creamy mouth-feel. The character remains much the same over a long session, with a floral quality emerging by the fifth infusion or so. By the seventh infusion, I’m feeling the impact of the caffeine more than the GABA.

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Opened up a 50 gram package of this a couple weeks ago in the office – briefly noting my impressions before it disappears:

Prepared in my Jian Shui gaiwan, and served in my porcelain tea cup via my glass cha hai. Filtered Santa Monica municipal water just off the boil throughout.

The dry tea is unique – the finger length buds resemble golden-tipped, black-bottomed spines of some odd desert plant. The aroma from the bag offers a distinctive yam/grain scent.

A very forgiving tea – you don’t have to give much thought about tea weight, steep times, numbers of infusions, etc. That said, it remains flavorful for 8-10 infusions easily.

Starting with steeps around 15 seconds, the liquor is amber to metallic gold, with a sweet/earthy/grassy aroma hinting at plantain and lotus leaf. The flavor follows the nose but with increasing richness and a core malty sweetness (and perhaps a touch of cocoa in the finish).

Hints of alfalfa/hay and oats emerge over the session, reminding me of quality horse feed (not in a bad way!). Low bitterness throughout, very little astringency even if you over-steep.

Round, creamy texture, with slow persistent caffeine build up. An excellent, distinctive “Yunnan Gold” leaf tea from a unique variety of very large leaf plants.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML

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While I ordered the black version of this tea, and indeed Yunnan Sourcing marked my bag as such, what I received is this green version. Well, it’s Spring-time I suppose, so OK, why not:

Picked in April, 2017 (likely a few days after my son was born), this might no longer be at the peak of freshness. I’m also using filtered Santa Monica tap water, no scale, and no thermometer – so my results could probably be improved upon – although this tea seems very forgiving.

Infused at 15, 30, 45, 60, and 90 seconds. The liquor is a a lemon-lime-like shade of chartreuse. Nutty, vegetal, almost briney aroma with notes of wakame, and hay initially. The flavor follows the nose, adding in some fresh herbs (oregano?) and melon in the finish. More sweetness and less complexity towards the end of the session. Dry but not drying – energizing but not excessively so. Fairly rich and clean overall – hard to over-steep.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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I suspect this is from the same source as What-Cha’s Colombian Bitaco “Golden Tippy” black tea, though Upton is charging at least 40% more for it.

The dry leaf is redolent of sweet grain, giving it an assertive but pleasant feed-store aroma.

Los Angeles tap-water, just off the boil throughout. Brewed in a Korean infuser cup. I tried successive infusions, but this is best Western style.

2 minutes: lovely sepia liquor; grain and cocoa throughout, light and gentle in the nose and deep and brooding on the palate. Moderately malty, though the bitter-sweet chocolate notes are center-stage. Toasted grains (oats, spelt, millet, barley) and hints of wood and earth in the finish. Almost like a chocolate brown ale.

4 – 8+ minutes: similar results to the first infusion, just a bit weaker presentation – like good Assam, it is difficult to oversteep.

A proper self-drinker, but I suspect this would be lovely with some cream as well. While it won’t supplant my CTC Assam addiction (especially at this price point), I wouldn’t hesitate to add this to my regular rotation.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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Brewed in my black Korean infuser cup, so I remain largely ignorant of the liquor’s appearance.

New car smell with some floral and dusty sugar notes.
Rich and potent (albeit somewhat generic) flavor, suggesting baking chocolate with hints of banana leaf and river stones in the finish. Vaguely malty. Low vegetal/camp-fire notes in the aftertaste along with a gentle astringency if not briskness if the infusion is pushed.

Medium-thick mouth-feel, but not oily.

A solid, robust, almost “muscular” Kandy offering – while I don’t favor most Ceylons as breakfast teas, I think this one would stand up to a drop of cream.

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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After 22 months, I’m at the bottom of my 5oz bag of this.

Filtered Santa Monica municipal water to my Taiwanese purple clay tea-pot, to my glass cha hai, into my porcelain cup.

1st steep (20 seconds): Butterscotch liquor; floral-backed charcoal aromatics; sweet dark roast palate entry with hints of ash and Ovaltine; velvety medium-thick body.

Subsequent infusions (45 seconds, slowly ramping up to 2min): Rust liquor; smoke and burnt sugar in the nose; dark (not quite French or Italian) roast coffee notes, more charcoal in the middle of the flavor profile, with a dry slightly astringent finish.

While I generally appreciate and prefer heavy fire/dark roast/baked oolongs, there is not much left of the tea’s own character underlying the charcoal here; not a good candidate for aging, but adequate (and inexpensive) as a daily drinker.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Converted to Oolong and beyond starting around ’98 or so when I was hanging out at the Tao of Tea in Portland.

Expanded my experience with green teas when I moved in with room-mates who were Chinese scholars, workers at the Japanese Gardens (including the tea room), etc.

Always looking to improve my education, but will concede my pedestrian tastes (e.g. breakfast teas brewed strong enough to stand your spoon in).

Trying to focus more on the qualitative over the quantitative in my reviews, so you won’t see me give too many scores/ratings at the moment…


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