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Recent Tasting Notes
I finished this one off last weekend, while having a nice conversation with an instagram user named miklovestea973 – if you’re reading this, Mike, I haven’t seen you yet in the Slack Chat group! If you’ve not yet done so, send Owl and email! It’s an awesome group and I think you’ll get a lot out of it!
As for the tea, this was given to me by Apr tea – and it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t impressive in anyway either. A good tea, actually, for exactly what I was doing: sipping on as a backdrop during a nice conversation! You needs teas in your stash that serve that purpose, for sure. Here’s what I had to say about it on instagram:
This tea definitely has some nice peach skin notes, accented by a light and pleasant bitterness – possibly because I PACKED this teapot. Aside from that lovely peach skin notes, this tea has a mix of clotted cream, hot hat, and snow pea notes. It’s not the most amazing Silver Needle I’ve ever had, but definitely works for a good, casual sipping sort of tea for a relaxed Sunday.
Also, as someone else pointed out, this had some thick/plump buds! Very beautiful little fuzzy boys…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7_UJRRoHxA
Thank you to AprTea for giving me this free sample – I do love a good golden bud hongcha, and this one is really fucking pretty. Of course, pretty doesn’t always = delicious but, well, in this case? Well, it does.
I’ve had mixed success with the teas from Apr Tea Mall, but this is probably the nicest one so far. I brewed it in a black tea dedicated yixing pot, and while I did find it brewed out REALLY quickly (significant decline by steep four) it was quite tasty! The more prominent note was this interesting sort of “golden syrup” kind of flavour that was pleasant, especially in combo with the other flavours. I also got lots of malt, and some sweet potato and lighty burnt toast/French Bread. In the third steep I also note a hint of cocoa and red fruit, which weren’t really so present in the others – especially the red fruit notes.
Really liked this one!
The last of my free samples from AprTea. Thanks so much! These types of oolongs are usually tough for me to describe, but I’ll give it a try. The leaves are dark and twisted, but wide, with a red/purple tinge to them. The flavor is certainly very sweet with a caramel note, almost like a minty cooling feel after the sip. There is also a roasted flavor, not too much but noticeable. (The roasted flavor might be why I don’t gravitate towards teas like these, but it is pleasant enough here.) Almost a starchy quality too. The flavor is definitely CARAMELIZED something or other. It’s very much like maple syrup over roasted maple leaves, if I had to describe the flavor. With the third steep, the roasted flavor is mostly gone and I’m left with an incredibly sweet and smooth drink. I don’t think this one can be oversteeped, and I think I could have kept steeping past three mugs. If I had to stock up on this TYPE of tea, it’d probably be this one. Though again, I don’t have much experience with these types of oolongs because they aren’t my favorite. But this was certainly an enjoyable tea drinking session.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug // 11 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 3 min
Flavors: Caramel, Maple, Maple Syrup, Roasted
Note: I realized this might not be the correct tea. AprTea might have labeled the tea wrong… so the note is for ONE of the oolongs they carry…
I received this free from AprTea a while ago. Sorry it has taken me so long, but thank you again for sending them! I expected a dark roasted, brown in color oolong. But no, my leaves look green. This also REALLY doesn’t look like the photo for the tea. The photo looks like a charcoal oolong, my tea does not. I guess I have a different concept of ‘roasted’ teas than AprTea. Then what do they call the roasted teas, because this also has ‘charcoal’ in the name? It might be a darker green oolong, but still green. The dry leaves have a great sweet aroma. The flavor is also tasty, but nothing I would call ‘roasted’. It tastes like a green oolong to me, with a sweet flavor that could be considered caramel. When cooled, a hint of peach. Possibly I’m not steeping this perfectly for the best flavor, as I’m not noticing distinct notes.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for my smaller mug // rinse // 15-20 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 13 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 2-3 min
I wanted to try another steep session with new leaves, as I wasn’t tasting distinct notes with my parameters last time. Maybe the infuser or leaf amounts weren’t ideal. The infuser I was using previously lets tiny pieces of leaves into the mug (not to say that was the problem) so not ideal for reviewing any teas. So I’m using my netted infuser this time, where nothing gets through. I’m not sure it made much difference in the flavor! But I also used more leaves and different steep times. The oolong is very smooth and the flavor lingers wonderfully. It’s hints of peaches and cream. Very sweet. I’d say the third steep was the best, so I went for a fourth. There is no way these leaves can be oversteeped. They stay sweet with a thick mouthfeel throughout all steeps. Maybe this is where the ‘caramel’ in the name comes from. In a blind taste test I would never call this one charcoal/roasted but I’ve had some very charcoal tasting oolongs in the past. So this one is still tough to pick out distinct flavors, but it’s a very tasty oolong. It tastes like OOLONG.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // rinse // 14 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // 5 minutes after boiling // 2 min
Steep #4 // just boiled // 2 1/2 min
TLDR: Sweet, smooth, thick mouthfeel, never bitter, can’t oversteep it. I wouldn’t call it charcoal/roasted at all.
Gong Fu Sipdown (601)
Thank you Apr Tea for giving me this sample to try!
I found that this tea leaf didn’t have the longest steep life – after about five infusions it was pretty tapped out. Of course, black tea isn’t exactly know for being the best in terms of Gong Fu rebrew-ability, but it’s still a little sad when the leaf dies out quickly during a session you’re enjoying.
The tea was very brisk and full bodied; to me is tasted like a mix of smoke and wood chips, with a bitter cocoa note sort of like unsweetened baker’s chocolate. Note; smoke and wood chips as seperate notes – NOT a “smoked wood chip” sort of taste. In my mind, those are two different and distinct things. It was also just a little bit resinous.
I enjoyed it though; definitely a nice unsmoked Lapsang Souchong.
This was a free sample that I got from Apr Tea in exchange for a review. Within this package was two different tuochas – one was a lotus leaf one, that I’ve recorded in its own tasting note under that tea’s listing. This was just the plain shou tuocha without anything else in it, so I’m going to write the note for it here since that seems to be the default listing for the plain version?
It’s unfortunate, but I think that this may have been the worst shou that I tried in all of 2018? I tried very much to give it a fair shake, but there was this super intense/penetrating fishy/dankness to the taste and the mouthfeel was all kinds of oily. It was so, so unpleasant – I couldn’t even finish the mug. I have no idea what about this was so specifically off; but I’m not even sure what I could have done to salvage the cup.
So far the teas I’ve had from this company have either been quite nice or perfectly average: this was the first big swing and a miss…
This was… not good.
I opened up my little same bag with the randomized two different tuochas that I received a little while back from Apr Tea today, and I did try both today. Of the two, this was definitely better but it had a weird, lingering and coating taste to it that, while not “fishy” in the sense that a lot of bad pu’erh is, wasn’t pleasant. Very muddy and gross tasting. In fact, I’d wager the only reason it was less unpleasant that the first that I tried was probably because it was essentially “cut” with the lotus leaf.
Kind of a disappointment, as this was my first lotus leaf pu’erh and I really wanted it to be a good experience.
Thank you to Aprtea for this free sample
The dry leaf smells like a toasty yellow or green tea and all of the tiny leaves are intact and not broken at all. The leaves are quite small and only 1-2 cm long.
I think this is the first longjing I’ve had that isn’t fruity. This is more nutty and lightly vegetal (soy bean and chestnut) but very little sweetness. No bitter or sour notes. I would not say I tasted any of the toastiness I smelled in the dry leaf, however I think this tea is almost savoury in that it is not super sweet/stone fruit like many longjings. The chestnut flavour is characteristic of longjing, however, and from the look and taste of the leaves I can tell they are of high quality and have been handled delicately.
Flavors: Chestnut, Soybean
A light oolong with hints of watermelon, caramel, spearmint, and a buttery mouth feel. Very nice tea.
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Melon, Spearmint
I got it as a free sample among with several others from AprTea which is really appreciated. Da Hong Paos are probably my favorite oolong so I have high expectations when I meet a new Da Hong and this tea while not wowing me totally met them.
This tea has all of the necessary flavor components: roast, mineral, a touch of bitterness, some grass, and a coda of floral sweetness. A nice and long aftertaste is present. Finally, this Da Hong Pao is very pleasant for enjoying its smell from the cup in front of you: it is strong and balanced.
And this is the strongest quality of this tea: while not especially complex it is very well balanced in both taste and aroma, with all of its components coming seamlessly together. Now about the negatives: not the most complex (which, by the way, it does not pretend to be that since this tea is openly marked as a basic Da Hong Pao), the taste does not last for many infusions with the regrettable astringency appearing fairly soon.
While not likely to become one of the all-time favorites this tea can successfully perform the role of a daily Da Hong Pao for a budget-minded tea drinker.
Flavors: Bitter, Campfire, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet
Light on taste with standard Keemun notes – I couldn’t find much more than that going on with this one. My Hao Ya “B” from Harney and Sons outshines this one by a kilolumen, at a lower price point and easier shipping options. I am grateful for the opportunity to try this one out for free, but I will not be ordering this anytime soon. There are plenty of more interesting teas at AprTea, though.
Thank you so much for the samples, Aprtea.com! I’m a fan of sticky rice tuochas. The pairing of the sweet sticky rice with the deepest of ripe pu-erh is always fantastic. This pu-erh is pretty dark, almost to the point of being bitey which I hardly ever find in a ripe pu-erh. The flavor of the rice is very consistent between steeps. The depth of the pu-erh itself is also very consistent between all three steeps. The second steep has almost exactly the same flavor as the first steep, as does the the third steep, so I probably could have had a decent fourth mug. I guess I’m at a loss to describe what this pu-erh particularly tastes like. Maybe that is why it has the sticky rice added, it isn’t distinct enough on its own. I do know that I’m enjoying this dark and earthy brew. Delicious. The price is very reasonable too.
Steep #1 // 1 tuocha for a full mug// 15 minutes after boiling // rinse // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 7 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 5 minute steep
Syrupy and buttery and sweet, this is nice. I am still recovering from a cold, so I think it was a mistake to try this one out. My tastebuds and sense of smell are shot. This one brews up clean and is definitely enjoyable, but I can’t really describe any nuances beyond that right now. Accidentally brewed this with too much water, and I still felt it was noticeably thick – so I guess that says something.
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // rinse // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep#3 // 12 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #4 // 10 minutes after boiling // 2-3 minute steep
Very nice. Burnt sugar and caramel flavors predominantly, with hints of peach, walnut, and maybe a touch of saltiness. This tea is pretty mellow, but the slight touch of campfire/smoke lends it a bit of excitement. I did not find much astringency after a 3 minute steep, and no bitterness. In fact, if I had some more, I would give it a shot at 4 or 5 minutes. The campfire is mostly in the aroma, and it doesn’t really translate strongly into the cup. It is not anything like a smoky lapsang souchong.
Tea was received as a free sample from AprTea Mall, in exchange for my writing a review. It was nice to find 8 different tea samples, about 50 grams total, in my mail yesterday. This is the first one I have sampled, and my first ever Dahongpao-style tea.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Campfire, Caramel, Honey, Peach, Salt, Walnut
I got a box from a teafriend last night, hooty hooo. Thanks Togo!
Really nice looking leaf. Unfortunately, for me this wasn’t a prelude of things to come.
I prepared this western with 3.5g, 8oz water, 175F and 2 steeps of 1m15 and 2m.
In the wet leaf after the first steep, I could smell mostly umami broth with some anise and sugar cookie or maybe it’s just an anise cookie :P The aroma of the liquor was identical which was pleasing. In the mouth, it was medium-bodied but terribly astringent and lacked much flavor. Some zucchini and nuttiness with a very faint aftertaste of buttery nuts, like macadamia. There was also a persistent tartness emanating from the throat. The second steep was nearly the same, albeit with a little more flavor including anise and some vague fruitiness. I’m not sure if it was more astringent or if the first steep totally dried my mouth out. If it had just a hint of sweetness, I’d be inclined to rate it higher. Might make a good cold brew or do well grandpa but I won’t be seeking out more in order to try.
Apr Tea sent me free samples and I was so thankful for that. Thank you Apr Tea! I have been awhile getting around to writing up my reviews and trying all the teas since I was on a special diet and caffeine was reduced for awhile.
Brewed this gongfu. It’s got a predominate fruity honey sweetness that is very tasty. It was also a bit creamy with a slight nuttiness to it. Either this tea doesn’t brew up too strong or the leaves were not quite as fresh because I needed a good amount of leaves to water. I drink a lot of green teas so a fruity tea is quite a pleasant change for me. I really enjoyed this tea.
Flavors: Creamy, Fruity, Honey, Nutty
This sample from AprTea was marked as Zhang Ping Shui Xian, which it clearly isn’t. Like the previous one, I am fairly confident I could identify it from the selection they offer. When I opened it, it had a distinctive charcoal roast aroma that has dissipated after the few weeks that I gave the tea to air out. Now the dry leaf smell is a kind of generic greenish oolong scent. However, the rinse does smell like a lightly charcoal roasted oolong again. The wet leaves have an enticing smell that is indeed somewhat floral and cooling, but also fairly heavy and earthy at the same time. It reminds me of clay bricks a little bit.
The taste is balanced – sweet, grassy and floral with the characteristic TGY sourness. Overall, it’s a little flat and somewhat boring though. The body is medium to light and the mouthfeel is slightly milky. I get some astringency in the finish, but only in the mouth.
To sum up, this is a balanced and easy to drink light to medium roasted TGY that’s anything but exciting.
Flavors: Char, Clay, Floral, Milk, Sour, Sweet