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Flavors: Butter, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Sweet
Winter 2016 version.
Vernal equinox at hand, and feeling vaguely renewed after attending a wonderful Nowruz family luncheon, I thought this tea might serve me well as a way of demarcating the seasonal shift.
Filtered Santa Monica municipal water, to glass cha hai, to my Taiwanese purple clay tea-pot (mostly used for heavy roast oolong), back to the glass cha hai, into my porcelain cup.
Rinse: Once the leaves are wet the aromatics come to life dramatically: butterscotch, chestnut, fresh bush/wax beans, freshly cleaned wood, etc.
45sec: Greenish lemon chiffon liquor; aromatic but weaker than the wet leaves held under the nose; very delicate nectar-like sweetness emerges from the depths of the finish. Wild grasses, with hints of melon as well.
60sec: More of the same. Fresh cream flavors accentuate the mouth-feel, and suggest hints of butterscotch as well. Lots of floral notes in here, though they largely remain secondary to the gentle sweetness up front and rounding things out.
90sec: Pushing the leaf a bit, liquor darkens slightly to a canary yellow; a hint of spice perhaps (coriander? stale dried mint?) develops, finishes slightly more herbal – otherwise consistent with the initial steeps.
4 – 5 more steeps from 90 seconds up to 3 minutes before the sweetness fades and the floral complexity is diminished/muddled.
Overall – light, floral, creamy, and moderately energizing. Looking forward to trying the roasted version from the same vendor…
Continuing my series of high mountain oolong reviews this morning, we come to this Ali Shan oolong from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company. Curiously enough, I actually used 4 grams of this tea to do a multi-step Western session Saturday evening, but wasn’t thrilled with the results. I spent Sunday focusing on What-Cha’s excellent Ali Shan and then used the remaining 6 grams of this tea for a gongfu session early this morning while preparing for a conference out of town.
After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted subtle aromas of butter, cream, grass, and leaf lettuce. After the rinse, the leaf lettuce scent emerged more fully, while subtle floral and vanilla scents also began to make themselves known. The first infusion produced a more balanced bouquet with slightly more vanilla and more distinct floral scents of lilac, hyacinth, and honeysuckle. In the mouth, I picked up surprisingly muted notes of grass, butter, cream, and vanilla chased by a ghostly floral note. Subsequent infusions were a little more assertive, offering fleeting impressions of lilac, hyacinth, osmanthus, honeysuckle, apricot, coconut, mango, and hay at one point or another. The later infusions were smooth, yet rather bland, offering subtle butter, cream, grass, and leaf lettuce impressions underscored by faint fruitiness and minerals.
Honestly, I have had a few hours to process my feelings regarding this tea and I’m still not thrilled by it. This tea was so soft and clean on the nose and in the mouth and the more interesting aromas and flavors were so elusive that I found it difficult to remain interested in it over the course of the session. I pretty much stopped taking notes a little after the halfway point. Even the feel provided by this one was very timid and restrained. Compared to the Ali Shan from What-Cha, I found this one to be boring. It didn’t strike me as being bad, just boring and somewhat lightweight, maybe even a little bland overall. I would still recommend that curious drinkers give it a chance, but I do have to say that there are better Ali Shan oolongs out there.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Coconut, Cream, Floral, Grass, Hay, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mango, Mineral, Osmanthus
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Flavors: Hay, Sweet
I’m beginning to really enjoy my daily oolong sessions. They calm me, and oddly enough, they don’t give me much trouble sleeping. I dug this tea out of the sample pile last night and decided to go with it. As a side note, every time I think I’m making headway on reducing the number of samples I have on hand, I find two or three more. They’ll all be gone one of these days.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was then followed by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted wonderful aromas of butter, cream, vanilla, hyacinth, lilac, honeysuckle, gardenia, and grass. After the rinse, the floral aromas intensified and were joined by traces of sweet cinnamon and cucumber. The first infusion produced a more balanced bouquet. In the mouth, I easily detected notes of grass, butter, cucumber, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and fresh flowers. Subsequent infusions allowed the tea’s floral qualities to really shine. I began to pick up a hint of orchid, while impressions of pear, peach, and honeydew emerged. Later infusions were mostly buttery, creamy, and grassy. Minerals emerged fairly late in the session. I was able to detect a note of lime that I hadn’t noticed before, as well as traces of honeydew, cucumber, vanilla, and flowers beneath the dominant impressions of butter, cream, and grass.
This was an extremely nice high mountain oolong. It was complex and flavorful without being particularly heavy or overly flavor-forward. It also displayed wonderful body and texture in the mouth. I would definitely have no problem recommending this tea to anyone looking for a quality Taiwanese oolong.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Lime, Mineral, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Vanilla
Received a sample of this with my last Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company order. Being a light baked Alishan tea, it was a little different from the greener Taiwanese oolongs I usually drink. I found this to be right up my alley. It’s got a greener flavor profile and although roasted, the roast is subtle and adds a nice biscuity element that I really enjoyed.
The aroma of this tea resembles a jade oolong. Creamy and fragrant floral with hints of baked bread. Wet leaf aroma is an intriguing mix of florals, roasted nuts, and caramel. The tea brews up to a green liquor with a faint amber hue. Initial steeps have bit a spice from the baking mingled with a juicy sweetness. There’s a savory graham cracker undertone reminiscent of a Ruan Zhi tea I sampled from Verdant. The roast isn’t overbearing nor does it mute the delicate green oolong notes. It just adds a nice tinge of warmth to enhance a good quality Ali Shan. Around the 3rd or 4th steep, the toastiness wears off and it takes on a more green character.
I liked this tea a lot more than I expected to and can see myself ordering some in the future. I think it will appeal to fans of lighter oolongs. It does a great job of preserving the best qualities of Ali Shan while adding a touch of warmth and spice. Another advantage this tea has is once opened, the flavor doesn’t deteriorate as rapidly as green oolongs due to the baking.
Flavors: Cookie, Creamy, Floral, Roasted nuts, Spicy
I recently received a 5 gram dragon ball of this tea as a free sample with an order from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company. Since I’m still sick, I’m trying to watch my caffeine intake. It had been way out of hand for a number of months, and not only had burn out fully set in, but I was becoming increasingly prone to infections. I’m trying to stick with a single session, either Western or gongfu, per day, though I do plan to take at least one off day each week. Anyway, getting back on track here, I found this to be a pleasant white tea with which to close out the day.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped the 5 gram dragon ball in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 10 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea ball emitted mild aromas of honey, nuts, elderflower, and fruit. After the rinse, the aromas of honey, nuts, elderflower, and fruit intensified and a slightly yeasty, bready aroma began to emerge. The first infusion produced a bouquet primarily comprised of yeast roll, honey, almond, elderflower, and elderberry aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor displayed a smooth, silky texture and mild notes of butter, elderflower, elderberry, yellow plum, and yeast rolls. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of sweet cherry, almond, white peach, and rose underscored by barely perceptible traces of hay and menthol. Later infusions maintained the tea’s smoothness in the mouth, while the nose and palate began to increasingly emphasize the almond, butter, and yeast roll impressions. Subtle impressions of honey, elderberry, cherry, and hay lingered in the background. A very fine minerality also showed itself.
This was an interesting tea. I don’t have a ton of experience with Shou Mei, but this struck me as being a very good, very sophisticated one. I got practically no astringency at all. In the end, I would have no problem recommending this tea to anyone looking for a quality white tea.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Cherry, Floral, Fruity, Hay, Honey, Menthol, Mineral, Peach, Plums, Rose
It’s been several days since I’ve posted a review here on Steepster. I ended up sick again over the weekend and cut back my tea consumption to virtually nothing. I think I’m once again starting to recover, but I’m not at a point where I can handle anything heavy. This was the tea with which I chose to break my silence. I figured something mild was in order for this evening.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. I kept my rinse short (only 4-5 seconds). After the rinse, I steeped approximately 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted a soft, mild fragrance of cream, butter, vanilla, lilac, and hyacinth rounded out by something of an indistinct vegetal character. After the rinse, I detected more pronounced scents of butter and vanilla as new aromas of cucumber and puff pastry started to emerge. The first infusion produced a similar bouquet that offered more fully formed scents of puff pastry and cucumber. In the mouth, I mostly found muted notes of cream, butter, and vanilla chased by ghostly floral and vegetal presences. Subsequent infusions offered a little more variety. The butter, cream, and vanilla notes were strengthened. Simultaneously, the puff pastry and cucumber impressions appeared alongside emerging aromas and flavors of honeydew, butterscotch, kale, and leaf lettuce. To be honest, I did not find this to be a particularly floral oolong. There was a faint floral presence in the mouth, but the little bit of floral presence I found tended to most clearly express itself on the nose. Later infusions were mostly buttery and vegetal with a slight minerality towards the finish.
Hmm, this was such a light tea. I have noticed that many of Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company’s oolong offerings over the past year or so have primarily leaned towards displaying soft, full, smoothly textured bodies and mildly savory, vegetal and/or grassy characters with just a hint of fruit and/or flowers to provide some depth. This tea certainly did not buck that trend. I found it to be a very clean, pure, refined tea with a nice mouthfeel.
Flavors: Butter, Butterscotch, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Honeydew, Kale, Lettuce, Mineral, Pastries, Vanilla
What a strange lovely tea this is! It is an oolong that tastes like a honey black. I could have sworn that I was drinking honey black.
The small and medium leaves in my clear glass steeper are perfection. Just loveliness.The tea doesn’t appear to have all that much staying power though. The first two steeps were dark and honey-ed, but the third has already faded to an mineral oolong. I might not go for a fourth steep, but as an experiment, perhaps I should.
Thank you, Ubacat, for adding this to the box.
Flavors: Honey, Mineral
Alishan black tea from the Da Bang village that was rolled like a black tea… excuse me, but why haven’t you bought this is a question for you and your wallet to discuss.
I have always found Taiwanese black teas to be superior to Chinese; and here’s more proof of that. Between my Sun Moon Lake, Shan Lin Xi, and now Alishan, black teas… I find myself drinking more fully oxidized tea.
This stuff is my every day drinking tea at work. Went through two ounces in less then two weeks, which is fast because I have a decent selection of teas at work throughout the week.
This has a very mild taste to it with some notes of honey and then wet cinnamon. Small hints of toast if you sit there and close your eyes and let it work through the mouth. Easy to brew, solid taste, and decent rebrew ability on this unique tea.
I have to be 100% honest: I buy oolongs from BBTC, but some puerh has been coming in to their shop… this is a 9 to 10 gram ball and I am very pleased with it. Probably the best valued tea for a daily drinking or all day work session tea. Brewed 92to95 c in 120ml for 15 seconds over and over. Semi orange color with a developing depth from the start. Some after bite in the touch as it pulls from your mouth with that astringency. Some mild texture to the tea which tells me it’ll get thick over time.
Literally, nothing I can say about this would be bad. I expected it to be harsh to drink with 10g for a session but 10 steeps in and I was like “people should buy this” and thus, here is a Liquid Proust recommendation which I rarely do.
If you like those younger raw teas that will grow into something beautiful over time but are already a crowd pleaser, well here you go: https://beautifultaiwantea.com/collections/pu-erh-teas/products/2015-bing-dao-balls
I’m continuing to mow down Taiwanese oolongs today. I’ve had a 10 gram sample of this tea for several months now and wanted to finish it. I found this to be a subtle and refined oolong that came off as a tad reserved.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off mild aromas of cream, butter, sweetgrass, and fresh flowers. After the rinse, distinct aromas of honeysuckle, lilac, orange blossom, gardenia, and hyacinth appeared. I also caught scents of vanilla, steamed milk, and cucumber. The first infusion produced a nearly identical bouquet with slightly stronger scents of steamed milk and vanilla. I detected restrained notes of cream, butter, steamed milk, vanilla, and sweetgrass balanced by distant floral impressions and a hint of cucumber in the mouth. Subsequent infusions emphasized vanilla, sweetgrass, steamed milk, cream, butter, and cucumber notes. The floral impressions remained faint, though when they were more noticeable, the lilac, gardenia, and orange blossom seemed to be the most prominent. I also began to note hints of minerals, sweet pea, and sugarcane towards the finish. Later infusions emphasized butter, minerals, steamed milk, sweetgrass, cucumber, and sugarcane with hints of orange blossom, sweet pea, vanilla, and gardenia lurking in the background at various points.
This tea had a lot to offer despite its restraint. While the description provided above may give the impression that this was a very busy tea, it really was not. It just happened to offer something a little different with pretty much every infusion. The character of the tea was primarily deep, complex, and savory. It had quite a bit of body and a smooth, buttery texture in the mouth. For a budget oolong, this was surprising. Its emphasis on savory aromas and flavors and its subtlety marked it as being different from virtually all other four seasons oolongs that I have tried. In the end, I would recommend this one, but I cannot help feeling that it would perhaps appeal most to those who are already fairly familiar with Taiwanese oolongs.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Milk, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Sugarcane, Vanilla
As of this afternoon, I can smell and taste again. I didn’t know how long that would last, so I decided to enjoy it while I could. That meant that it was time to break out a high mountain oolong. I had 4 grams of this tea left and decided to finish it off while I had the chance.
Naturally, I opted to prepare this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped all 4 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted subtle aromas of butter and orchid. After the rinse, I detected a pleasant mix of vanilla, butter, cream, and orchid scents. There was also a subtle hint of some kind of mild spice, but I could not place it. The closest I can get to describing it would be to compare it to sweet cinnamon. The first infusion produced a balanced bouquet with a slightly more pronounced vanilla presence. In the mouth, there were mild, balanced notes of cream, butter, vanilla, spice, and orchid underscored by a touch of grassiness. Subsequent infusions did not do all that much different. The vanilla, butter, and orchid impressions swelled. The impressions of grass were also slightly amplified. There was another kind of vegetal presence too. It may seem strange, but it reminded me of banana leaf. I got a hint of green plantain on a couple of these infusions too. The later infusions were typically mild and mellow, but with slightly more flavor than expected. There was not a ton of minerality to this tea. Instead, the later infusions emphasized a balance of mineral, cream, butter, and grass to go along with faint orchid and plantain notes.
I know my perspective may be skewed owing to my inability to do much with teas like this for quite awhile, but I greatly enjoyed this tea. It was not particularly busy or complex, but it had a great deal of charm. Though straight-forward, the blend of aromas and flavors on display was unique and instantly appealing. I also appreciated the texture. This tea had great body and was so silky in the mouth. I’m glad I had the opportunity to snag some of this before it disappeared for good.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Grass, Mineral, Orchid, Vanilla, Vegetal
This one has an odd grassy tone. I can pick up the familiar grassy green tea scent; however, there is a bit of peach and asparagus in there that makes an odd mixture. I pulled out my shibo and brewed her up. The taste is very bean-y. This is an incredible amount of bean. The astonishing beanator. The great gam-beanie. hahah. I could also pick up a bit of lemon grass, but that was about it with this tea. It’s very simple, basic, and not complex at all. It was super easy to drink, brew, and clean up. This is the foundation of a daily drinker. If you like beans, that is.
Flavors: Beany, Lemongrass
Had a sample of this from BTTC. The 10g sample was almost all in one lump, which flaked apart easily with the pick. The dry leaf is very dark, with some golden buds. Warm dry leaf has a generic mature sheng smell, sort of sweet and hay-like.
The leaf was well-separated and after a 5s rinse I got 5 increasingly dark 5s infusions before feeling a need to increase the time. The flavor is smooth and pleasant, slightly sweet but rather nondescript. Good thick mouthfeel, oily, up through about steep #7. There is practically no cold cup scent. I taste no hint or dirt or stone. I kept at it for 18 steeps, with the last one being 2min. The last 6 infusions probably should have been 2, going straight for the long steeps. I was getting a tea sweat around steep 10.
This tea has very clean dry storage with no trace of wetness I can detect, good longevity, and starts out with a strong feel. The flavor is on the boring side.
Old-school factory cake made of varying grades of chop (you won’t find any big fancy leaves or intact budsets) with little stemmy stuff. At some point the storage got damp enough to give it that wet stone smell that never steeps out. Not terribly strong tea, but smooth. Some sweetness from the first steep on. Whatever bitterness was present is aged out. Makes dark red soup for 10+ steeps, gradually trailing off into sweet colored water without ever passing through the harsh “used up” stage.
There’s not a lot of flavor beyond the wet stone and a sort of generic aged tea smoothness.
I have a little buyer’s remorse for having bought the whole cake of this, but not much. I like tea with a stronger feel, and suspect that the collector who sold this to BTTC decided that this one was only going downhill from where it is now.
Recommended, with the proviso that you can get past the damp basement smell.
Flavors: Wet Rocks
I’ve had this tea for awhile, so I finally decided to start digging in. The leaf is a dark green with nice vivid hue. I can pick up scents of rough greens, kale, seaweed, and a sweet nutty undertone. I warmed my gaiwan and dumped the large spindly leaves inside. The scent opens into some green bean with an odd strawberry (?). The strawberry tone is a bit sour, and it is muddled by some kale and crème. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The taste is very grassy along with some slight sweetness. The body is sharp and thick with a light lily floral tone. The aftertaste is sweet, but it does come off as strange. This tea is a peculiar degree of grassy and sweet. I’m not sure what to say about it, but it is unique.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Green, Kale, Nutty, Seaweed, Strawberry, Sweet
I had just a small sample of this from a little swap I did a few months back. I found it to be a good and tasty dragonwell with a little bit more green-ness than others I’ve tried. This was represented both in the flavor and the appearance of the leaves. They were a pretty dark forest-green, and the flavor was nutty with a bit of a spinachy vegetal note. The texture was pleasantly thick with a bit of a buttery feeling to it.
Flavors: Butter, Nutty, Spinach