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Recent Tasting Notes
Another Andao tea that I never opened before. I take it that Qimen is an alternative spelling for Keemun?
In the packet, the dry leaves are dark, curly and fine and smell like dark chocolate! Really rich dark chocolate.
The steeped tea doesn’t smell like chocolate, so much as baking bread with smoky pepper around the edges and a dark, sweet note, like molasses. Its a tawny red color, and quite gorgeous.
The tea is deep, full bodied, and malty, and it has a stout aspect to it, like a dark beer. It’s almost chewy in texture. As it cools, some chocolate comes out in the aroma and a-dare I say- coffee note, almost. Like a mocha note, which is fascinating. I think this is the first tea I’ve had that wasn’t flavored that reminded me of coffee, but without really tasting like coffee.
Quite an interesting tea with a lot of character. If this tea was a person, I’d want to invite it to dinner. It isn’t overly smoky for a Keemun, which is part of its charm. I must do some sleuthing to see whether I can determine if anyone else is selling it since Andao as a company is no more.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Mocha, Molasses, Pepper, Smoke
Another of the Andao teas that I never got around to opening before the company went kaput.
At least I had the foresight to buy some yunnans.
This one has really pretty dry leaves. Long and twisty, with more dark than blond but still a nice variation in color from the tips. A malty, cocoa scent from the dry leaves.
The steeped tea is clear and brandy-colored, and it smells bready with a hint of pepper.
The flavor carries some of that breadiness over. It’s medium bodied, with a bit of perk to it. It isn’t sugary sweet like some yunnans, but it does have a gently sweet aftertaste. More cocoa than honey.
I’m going to enjoy sipping down this one.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Pepper
Another tea company that sadly, is no more. I have a number of never opened teas from them and this is one of those.
Continuing to explore the Yunnans in my stash, and I was delighted to find that the leaves on this one are almost as golden as the Adagio ones and quite pretty. There’s a peppery, malty note to the dry leaves that makes me think this one holds a lot of promise.
The tea is a clear maple color and smells terrific. Chocolate, cocoa, malty, a little pepper, sweet molasses. It tastes just like it smells. A little drying on the tongue, very smooth and clean in the finish. Pleasant, sweet arboreal aftertaste.
Very lovely indeed.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Malt, Molasses, Pepper, Sweet
I went to go enter this into the database and I couldn’t find Andao online. From which I conclude that this is another now-defunct tea company.
I’m pretty amazed. I didn’t think I was out of the tea loop that long.
But that means there’s no picture and no real description of this that I can upload. I did find out by looking at Wikipedia that the name means Green Snail Spring and it’s because the leaves are rolled into a snail-like spiral.
I didn’t have much time to pay attention to the leaves when I made this this morning. I just steeped it, poured it into the Timolino, and jumped in the car.
This is a light but flavorful, buttery, vegetal green tea. It’s more “green” and less vegetable in flavor, lighter on the vegetable side than the mao feng and the mao jian I’ve had recently. I can’t say I like it more or less than those. It’s about the same in terms of how much I like it, just different in flavor.
I think I’ll have to rejigger the ratings on all of these as I see I rated the mao jian a 78 and yet I like it better than some of the black teas I’ve rated the same. For now, though, keeping this the same as the mao jian. I’ll fix them all later.
Wonderful, wonderful tea. I could drink this every day. Delicious caramel-y, malty, and burnt sugar…-y flavors. Just plain good. Andao is 2 for 2 on awesome teas in my opinion. I finished up all of my oolong from them and this pack of Yunnan is about 1 cup from being gone. It would hurt me to de-cupboard them…so it looks like I’ll be placing an order tomorrow. Good thing it’s payday. :)
Move aside Jackee Muntz! There’s a new caramel tea in town and he’s not NEARLY as finicky as you are. I’m not hating on Jackee…I enjoyed him while he lasted. But I never managed to coax that elusive caramel flavor out of him. With this Yunnan Golden Needle, it’s no problem at all. The more you play with temperature and time, the better this tea gets. Right off the bat I tasted smooth malt and a slight smoky/pepper note, typical of most Yunnan black teas. “Brisk” would be a good description. There was a slight bitterness, but it was not unpleasant at all. My first few sips tasted of burnt sugar and hot, drizzly caramel. Mmmm! The caramel taste disappeared halfway through the cup, but perked up a little for the last bit of cooled tea. I’m impressed. This is a very good cup of tea.
Andao is the same company that offered the Organic Wu Yi Rou Gui (aka: Bake-y Oolong) that I loved so much. Their teacups are also reasonably priced…but several are sold out. I fully intend to try more of Andao’s teas. They are currently 2 for 2 on delicious teas in my opinion. :)
Well, the Traveling Tea Box certainly did its job for me. With this wonderful tea, I have now found a company that I never knew existed AND I will soon be placing an order with them. This oolong is classic. It’s soon to be a staple oolong. It smells delicious, tastes delicious…and it’s the first oolong I’ve tried in which the second steep is bake-y. A bake-y oolong! Oh yes. Ready the debit cards, folks.
The tea isn’t overly complex; it simply has a no frills, traditional oolong taste. And it’s great! Lightly roasted and smoky tasting, I just love it. No vegetal taste, just how I like it. I’m all giddy! I usually refrain from eating while drinking tea (other than the occasional cookie or sweet getting dunked in), but I would love to eat several traditional Chinese dishes with this tea in hand. It’s so good.
The sample from the TTB ended up just where it was meant to be.
I typically do not have an affinity for green tea. The problem lies not in the tea, but rather in my limited palate. A bad green tea tastes like nothing to me. Just warm water. A good green tea, and I suspect that this is one of them, opens up a world of vegetation in my mouth.
“Spring Snail Shell” tastes like the smell of a really funky warm rainy day in Florida when the heat and water brings out the vegetable smell and the air smells like burgeoning fecundity. It tastes rather like lounging in deep meadows (much like a snail might do) and taking in the green, grassy, aroma that is part funk, part fresh with a dash of sweetness and clarity.
I did think of Andrew Marvell’s line: “A green thought in a green shade” from “The Garden” when I drank this. I suspect that green tea aficiandos would really like this tea. And, as I finish my cup here and now, I start to think that perhaps I should purchase some and maybe I should make certain to keep green tea on hand. It’s a nice change, and it makes me feel like a “back to nature” person which is pleasant because my inner essence is so very library and bedroom.
Edited to add:
Three days later, I have sent this Spring Snail on in the Travelling Tea Box. Yet somehow I long for it. I keep thinking maybe I could just have some spinach—but yet that isn’t it. Maybe I do want some more of the grassy, vegetable tastes? I simply will have to order some. I’ve got a Jones and his name is Mr. Spring Snail.
I’ve seriously had my nose in my mug for a good ten minutes. Beautiful. It smells smoky-sweet and amazing. Huffing tea is much more entertaining than studying for a gigantic Japanese test I have tomorrow. >__<
After two minutes the liquor was already a bright honey color, making me pour the first steep too soon. The flavor is good, but I have to go looking for it a little. Smoky and floral, which sounds kind of weird, but it’s tasty. As it cools the smokiness seems to dissipate somewhat, letting the sweet floral step forward. Actually, I think the sweetness and the floral are two separate entities. Floral and a fructose sort of sweet. I can’t decide what kind of fruit it is or even if I could tell in the first place. I don’t feel like this would be good iced, since the little bit left in my cup that cooled completely is pretty flat, with a grassy sort of taste to it. I don’t even know if oolongs can be grassy…oh well. Not unpleasant, but not comparable to what it had been.
Alright, I left the second infusion for 3 minutes. The color is slightly paler, but not by a lot. The nose is similar, but lighter on the smoke. It’s baked goods rather than campfire. As I was thinking that, when I pulled away from the mug to type, I swear it smells like donuts. My roommate thinks I’m nuts as I’m leaning over and sitting up like one of those sippy bird figurine things. I’m getting, very specifically, donuts, but only in the first few seconds after I move away from the steam. How perplexing. Now, the smell of donuts always makes me happy, but whenever I eat them I decide never again. They’re never as delicious as they smell, plus fatty food tends to make me feel a bit sick (taste aversion learning, perhaps?). It never seems worth it to eat one, but I adore being in a place that makes them. Even if it’s completely ridiculous that I think this oolong smells like donuts, I’m ecstatic.
My first impression of the taste is that it isn’t as rich as the first cup, which I felt could have been stronger. This makes me think that I didn’t use nearly enough leaves. I seriously need a scale and/or the sense to stop being so stingy. There’s a really slight smokiness, but mostly there’s a baked goods type of caramelized sweetness. It’s delicious and I wish I could taste more of it! I don’t think I’ll get a third steep out of it, but I’ll do one anyway, just in case. I think I’ll do quite a long steep, just to try and get everything out of the leaves, but I’m not too hopeful.
I’m giving it a rating based on the assumption that I messed up by not having enough leaves. I’ll reevaluate the next time I have it, but as far as I can tell I really like this!
They’re furry and adorable!..and delicious. The tea leaves, that is.
I was so excited that the inside of the package actually had some silvery dust and that the leaves were pet-able and feel lovely to the touch. Okay, maybe I’m just creepy. I know the cuteness has nothing to do with the taste, but I like it, so there. The scent in the package is sweet, floral, and herb-y/green/fresh/something I don’t have a word for.
Infusion one (2 minutes) is delicate, sweet, and floral(?). It seems I find flowers in everything, so maybe not. Something makes me think of honey which, I suppose, is floral tasting in its own right. Towards the bottom of the cup, though I’m not sure why, everything gets more intense, especially the sweetness. The sweet taste and curiously strong aroma combined with the thick texture made me think that I must have left something in my mug or something. That’s actually why I didn’t log this until I drank it again, with a freshly cleaned mug, and got the same results. Wow.
The second steep (2 minutes 30 seconds) was similar. I was in class at the time, but wrote a note to myself that it had a sweet, floral scent and an aftertaste I couldn’t quite place. It was mildly herb-y and I asked if it was pungent. I really don’t know. Smooth and delicately sweet strengthens and has whatever quality that is towards the bottom of the cup. Soothing and quiet.
I think I got 2 or 3 more good infusions after that, the last one steeping for around 8 minutes without any bitterness anywhere. I heard so much hype about silver needle, but I honestly didn’t believe it. I’m really glad I decided to give it a try. I was actually a little disappointed with my first sip, since I didn’t taste much for a few moments. After a couple seconds, though, it started to become clear. The dregs at the bottom are my favorite part! It seriously tastes and feels like I added a significant amount of honey or something else thick and sweet. The way the experience changes from the first sip to the bottom of the mug and between steeps is mesmerizing. I’m a fan.
I’m not sure what about it was from the silver needle-ness and what was because of the yunnan-ness, but I really want to take the time to find out. I’m finding it difficult to pace myself with this tea since I want to drink it often, but don’t want to run out quickly. Love.
Does it count as backlogging if I’m copying something I wrote earlier? Part of the reason I write real, paper notes is so I don’t get stuck on steepster when I’m supposed to be doing student-y things. Also, sometimes I’m conducting mini tea tastings in class…>__< I can’t have school getting in the way of tea, come on!
Anyway, I like green tea, but I don’t drink all that much of it plain. Usually my greens are scented and I want to explore the genre more thoroughly. That’s why when I placed my recent order at Andao I was sure to order at least one green to try out. I don’t know how much I’ve actually paid attention to the flavors before. As far as I can remember I’ve never had green tea I didn’t like, yet I’ve never really been in love like I have with scented or flavored varieties.
As I was sitting in class, I noted that this particular tea (when steeped for 1 minute with quite cool water) was pleasant, rich, and nutty. I think of nutty as something like almonds, but without the toasty quality…which could be totally wrong, but oh well. There is a sort of sweet aftertaste that I had trouble putting in to words. I settled on “green”. There are some really slight hints of what might be bitterness, but I can’t decide, that appear towards the bottom of the cup. I’m not sure if that’s from cooling, settling, or buildup of flavors as I drink. Even though I avoid eating while drinking something new, I had this urge to eat something savory and salty…which I did, and it was fantastic!
The second infusion was milder. The nuttiness is toned down, but is still the dominant flavor. Smooth. There’s a slight astringency that makes it feel clean…is there such a thing as an after-feel? Maybe there’s a bit of sweetness, but it could just be the absence of bitterness. I’m not sure if that’s possible, since I also get some slight bitterness simultaneously. There is definite sweetness coming out as it cools, after which the astringency/bitterness come out. I know I use such strong words, but this tea is not jarring at all. The second steep was actually quite gentle.
Overall I found this tea interesting and enjoyable, but I wonder if it’s because I’m still learning and I don’t know better. Either way, I’ll have no problems finishing and enjoying the rest of my 50 grams of it, but I want to do more exploring before I come back again. Now that I think about it, I’m finding it rather difficult to rate teas…I’m terrible at scoring anything, but I feel like I have too much stuff between the two green smileys! What to do?! Am I not being critical enough? Maybe I tend to only drink things I think I’ll enjoy…or maybe I’m just ignoring what I don’t like so much. Argh.
Alright, I’m not caffeinated as of yet and I’m feeling unmotivated. I think I’m fighting off yet another cold, which is infuriating. I usually only get sick once a year, in the spring, so it’s already annoying enough that I was sick two weeks ago. Now my roommate is hacking up several lungs and I think I’m starting to also.
Even though I’m being lazy I want to log this ASAP. I should have just done it as I was drinking, but I didn’t so oh well. These are essentially just the tasting notes I took.
water heated until small bubbles began to rise.
dry leaf-sweet and slightly toasty
wet leaf-roasty, smoky?
1- 3minutes.Should have given more time, leaves, or higher temperature. Pleasant, but I think it’s a bit weaker than it should be. Smoky, but not overwhelmingly so, and sweet in the sense of dried fruit. Slight astringency. Pleasantly toasty aftertaste. A gulp as opposed to a sip gives a slightly floral quality in the aftertaste. Either I’m getting used to it or the smokiness mellows as the liquor cools. Sweeter. As I get to the bottom of the cup it smells sugary and roast-y.
2-4minutes30seconds. More blended flavors. Equally sweet and smoky. Really pleasant. There’s a flavor I can’t quite place. Nuttiness, maybe? Kind of weak, I’ll need to increase time for the next infusion.
3-6minutes30seconds. Predominantly sweet with hints of smokiness. Probably last good steep, but may be able to get one more.
4-8minutes30seconds. Weak, but drinkable. Sweet with a faint whisper of smoke.
Enjoyable, but I think it needs tweaking. I think there was something else trying to come through in the first or second steep that needs different preparation.
The update is awesome!
I was a little worried about whether I was rating correctly. I like the slider since now I can show just how much I like something, rather than whether I did or not. It is going to take me a while to get over the numbers, though. Since I’m a student, I keep thinking “75 is a C! I said I LIKED it!”. Having the smileys there is a really clever solution. They help me let go of that mentality of needing a 60 to even be passable.
I’ve been hearing a lot about Yunnan teas and have been meaning to try some. Whenever I heard about the expected flavor profiles it sounded like something I would really enjoy. I feel like I already have too much black tea, but I wanted to try out different types of white tea anyway…I ordered some yunnan gold along with the other stuff…you know, just to get the free shipping.
The dry leaves smell earthy and sweet. It reminds me of molasses. My first steep was for 2 minutes at just below boiling. Gaaah I was so excited! Finally, I’d been waiting for this moment! I thought that after spending the next 10 minutes more or less snorting the wet leaves (they smelled like sweet potato!) that the tea would be cool enough to drink. Nope, I burned my tongue. cry. But that gave me a chance to take in the aroma of the tea. It reminded me of brown sugar or something caramelized.
So when I finally get around to tasting it, it was still a little too hot for me, but I was impatient. At first it wasn’t nearly as sweet as I had imagined, but it did get sweeter as it cooled. I think I know what malty is now, but I don’t know how to explain it. It was kind of like being sweet, like something baked, but not quite. There was something about it that made me think “starchy”. It was really really smooth. I had to go hunting for astringency. I found some, but it was only enough to give the sweet aftertaste a clean finish.
I actually got a total of 5 infusions from this tea! I increased the time with good results. My favorite was probably the second or third one, actually.
2nd steep, 2minutes45seconds- Similar to the first cup, but with more subdued flavors. I wouldn’t say it was weaker, just that the flavors blend together more and don’t come out as much. As I neared the end of the cup I noticed that it smelled really deliciously caramel-y.
3rd steep, 3minutes30seconds- Sweet like something caramelized or brown sugar. So tasty. It was sweet as if I’d added sugar or honey. Any astringency is gone by now.
4th steep, 4minutes30seconds-Still really good. Pretty much the same as the third one, but slightly lighter in color and weaker. It had enough flavor that I had hope for a fifth. There was none of that unpleasant “I give up” flavor that tea leaves give when you won’t get anything else from them. The wet leaves still smelled of tasty.
5th steep, 6minutes- Pleasant, but weak. Still quite sweet, but tasted more like sweetened water than tea. The wet leaves smell like what they are, wet leaves. I think they’ve given me everything. No bitterness anywhere, just smoothness.
I really enjoyed this. It’s actually been the only tea I drank all day, since I could get so many infusions out of it. I’m pleasantly surprised. I thought I wouldn’t be able to justify the cost if I could only get one infusion out of it, but there was nothing to worry about. I thoroughly enjoyed it and want to try every kind of yunnan out there if they even vaguely resemble this one.
ETA- I wish I’d made the first infusion longer or with hotter water. I feel like I didn’t get as much out of it as I could have. Now that I know there’s really no danger of it getting too bitter I can be more confident.
Ugh. Sometimes it feels like the only thing that’s pleasant during my day is tea. >__<
Yay Thanksgiving (hostess training) and finals time (when YOU get to pay other people to enslave you)!
I know I’m just whining, but I seriously needed this cup. Sweet and gentle.
This smelled alarmingly meaty as it was steeping this evening. I’m a vegetarian partly because I dislike meat…so I’m not sure that would be pleasant.
Fortunately that didn’t carry over to the flavor. It’s as buttery and herb-y as ever. Now that I think about it, saying “buttery and herb-y” makes it sound like I’m talking about mashed potatoes or something. I don’t even like butter in real life, but somehow in a tea it’s just fine. I would say “grassy”, but to me that’s a different, sharper flavor.
I think this tea benefits from reeeeally low temperature and shorter steep time. I couldn’t tell if the water was heated or not and wondered if I was about to pour lukewarm water over the leaves. Either way, one minute and cooler water really seems to bring out a good deal of sweetness. Maybe this just shows that I have quite the sweet tooth when it comes to tea (although I rarely add any sort of sweetener). Maybe this is my ideal preparation or maybe it’s growing on me, but I’m really enjoying this.
You know, I really wonder if I’m crazy. I’ve been playing with the idea of doing a swap, but I don’t want the other person to think I’m nuts (or that I’m lying to try and sound smart) or feel obligated to agree with me if they taste something completely different from the same tea. Maybe I’m over-thinking it.
I found that lowering the water temperature (I could feel, but not see steam) brought out my favorite qualities. It was creamy/slightly buttery with a chlorophyll sweetness and herb-y rather than vegetable-y. The sweet and savory were more in balance, the sweetness slightly more prevalent. Really good. o
ETA- I got three infusions out of it with the same sort of trend as the first time. The savoriness decreased with each cup, making it taste sweeter. Also, the buttery quality in the first infusion(1min) became milkiness in the second(1min30), being only slightly present by the third(2min30).
White tea and I are acquaintances. Whenever I have it I think it’s pretty awesome in a superficial sense, but I really don’t know. I hear so much about the complexity and nuances that it sounds thoroughly entertaining. As I’m trying to hone my taste buds I thought now would be as good a time as any to get to know white tea better. I’d really like to become friends.
What worries me a bit, though, is that I can’t get rid of my idea of white tea being soooo serious and entirely to refined for me. I want so badly to get everything out of it that I almost kept waiting for that perfect moment when my palate (which I spell wrong about 2/3 of the time) is developed and the stars are aligned. But I’m impatient, so that didn’t really happen. It’s a lot like how I’m writing this at 3am instead of waiting until I’m coherent.
The wet leaf smelled like some sort of cooked vegetable, which kind of made me worried. I didn’t expect there to be such a savory aroma, so I was pretty confused for a few moments. By the time it got cool enough to drink without burning myself (I’m a wimp, I know) I had worked myself up into a person-shaped pile of apprehension. Maybe I’m not classy enough for this tea. What does it mean if I don’t like it?
But it was fine.
I was fascinated. There were so many flavors in my cup! The first steep (30 sec slightly steaming water) surprised me at its strength. The thick, creamy texture combined with an almost buttery quality reminded me of drinking broth. It was somewhat sweet, but mostly in the aftertaste. The sweetness was more of a sweet vegetable or herb rather than sugary. There may have been a hint of floral as well, but I couldn’t decide if I was really tasting/smelling it or not. Overall quite savory and creamy. I was definitely taking more tea notes than on the film I was supposed to be watching for a class. Oops.
The second steep (1 min) lost some of its savoriness. Without it the sweetness began to come through more. There’s still some of the viscosity, but more along the lines of “milky” than “creamy”. I swear there’s something floral in there. I get the impression of sweet, fragrant herbs.
One mo’ ’gain. I added another thirty seconds for the third and last infusion based on the package directions. Smooth and sweet. Pleasant and easy to drink, but as far as I could tell the complexity was gone.
Overall I was impressed. This tea managed to keep me entertained for quite a while. I’m probably not getting everything out of it, so If anyone has any general white tea tips, or specific ones for white peony I’d really appreciate it.