CHA YI Teahouse

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Recent Tasting Notes

88
drank Mi Xiang Hong Cha by CHA YI Teahouse
1005 tasting notes

Very aromatic and full-flavored. In the mouth, a bright and fruity peach-apricot-osmanthus note melds perfectly with the rich and deep cocoa-honeyed plum body that’s balanced by woody tannins. A touch quieter pasty-french bread note tempers, creating a cohesive flavor profile. It made such a great morning tea that I never bothered to sit down and pick it apart. My only issue with this one is that it needs to be brewed long western to get my preferred cup, giving only 1 truly excellent steep; a shorter brewing time leaves it a little too high-pitched with a tart blood orange tone.

Thanks for the share, Leafhopper :)

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Blood Orange, Cocoa, Dark Wood, Honey, Mineral, Osmanthus, Pastries, Peach, Plum, Round , Smooth, Tannin

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93

This is the last of the six teas I bought from Cha Yi. It’s a darker Taiwanese oolong from spring 2020, which I grabbed near the beginning of June when this year’s teas were few and far between. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus three or four uncounted infusions.

The dry aroma is of berry jam, honey, and cookies. The first steep has notes of stewed raspberry, blackberry, currant, other red fruits, plum, honey, and cookies. The second steep adds some malt and mild tannins, mimicking the bite in raspberries and other berries. The third to sixth steeps are a lovely combination of peach, plum, muscatel, honey, cookies, and berries and have a long, fruity aftertaste. Honey and roast become more prominent in the seventh steep, although there’s still lots of berries and muscatel. The final steeps have notes of berries, muscatel, malt, pastries, butter, roast, earth, and minerals.

This is a fruity, crowd-pleasing oolong with many of the flavours I like. Featuring the typical jammy, stonefruit notes of Hong Shui oolongs, this tea is really enjoyable and is well worth the price. It’s also incredibly persistent, lasting well beyond the number of steeps I had planned. Definitely consider getting it if you buy from this company.

Flavors: Berries, Black Currant, Blackberry, Butter, Cookie, Earth, Honey, Jam, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Pastries, Peach, Plum, Raspberry, Red Fruits, Roasted, Stewed Fruits, Tannin

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
derk

Woof. Sounds good!

Leafhopper

It was. I’m developing a fondness for Hong Shui oolongs.

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83
drank Cui Feng by CHA YI Teahouse
278 tasting notes

This is my penultimate tea from Cha Yi. The owner told me it’s from winter 2019, although harvest dates aren’t shown on the website. I’ve had somewhat lacklustre experiences with Cui Feng oolongs before, but this tea was relatively recent and available, so I bought it. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma of these unevenly sized, loosely rolled nuggets is of roses, other flowers, honey, and cookies. The first steep has notes of roses, peonies, orchids, honey, grass, and cookies, and as expected, it’s somewhat sweet. The honey and florals continue to get stronger in the next three steeps, and there are hints of grape and maybe honeydew melon. The sweetness and florality continue until almost the end of the session, joined by increasingly prominent notes of grass, spinach, and other veggies.

This is an elegant, undemanding oolong with lovely rose notes that persist throughout most of the session. If it didn’t entirely grab my attention, neither did it present any off flavours. Of the three high mountain oolongs I tried from Cha Yi, the Ali Shan was my favourite, which surprised me given my ambivalence about oolongs from this region. I’d highly recommend this company, particularly for Canadians who can’t order directly from Taiwan for the time being.

Flavors: Cookie, Floral, Grapes, Grass, Honey, Honeydew, Orchid, Rose, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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86

This tea is from spring 2020. The curly leaves still have some give to them, which testifies to its freshness. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of honey, cocoa, and stonefruit. The first steep features honey, raisins, malt, muscatel, and peach. The second steep adds plum and more peach and muscatel, making it a jammy peach/raisin combination. This tea just keeps getting fruitier. In the third and fourth steeps, the stonefruit really takes off and the plums/peaches balance the grape/raisin notes. The honey and faint malt bring it all together. Steep five sees a return to the raisin/grape notes, and honey, malt, wood, and slight tannins gradually take over as the session goes on. The final steeps have notes of honey, wood, tannins, and minerals.

The love child of Doke Black Fusion and a black Dan Cong, this is a fantastic tea. If it has one fault, it’s that the stonefruit disappears too quickly, but the remaining steeps are still tasty and interesting. I’m glad I picked this one up.

Flavors: Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Peach, Plum, Raisins, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
White Antlers

Such a pleasure to see your enjoyable, intelligent reviews again.

Leafhopper

Thanks! I’m hoping to get to 200 reviews while the site is still usable. (Or maybe I’m panicking over nothing and IE will continue to be supported.)

White Antlers

Better safe than sorry, right? : )

Leafhopper

Exactly! It’s also an excuse to break into some of the expensive teas I’ve been hoarding.

White Antlers

Good for you! Take it from an old lady-don’t hoard the good stuff!

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79

After years of neglect, Steepster suddenly changing comes as a surprise. I hope that with the new owners, the community will get some love and some of the spam and posting issues will be resolved. However, I have an old computer and use IE11, neither of which are great for a flashy new site, so I thought I’d better post some reviews while I still can.

According to the owner, this oolong is from spring 2019. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of cookies, flowers, and candied orange. The first steep has notes of cookies, honey, orchids, lilacs, spinach, and cream—no orange to be found. The orange makes a slight appearance in steep 2, along with the promised cocoa butter, though I would never have made that leap without the website description. The third steep has notes of orange, honey, spinach, cookies, cocoa butter, and faint flowers. The orange continues in the next three steeps, and is joined by orange blossom, veggies, and grass. The tea fades quickly after that, though the steeps are still enjoyable.

This is an above-average oolong that I wouldn’t immediately peg as a Shan Lin Xi. I loved the complexity of flavours, though as with many high mountain oolongs, I only got five or six really good steeps. Contrary to my usual preferences, I liked the Alishan better, perhaps because it’s newer.

Flavors: Cocoa, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honey, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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77

Each spring, I get caught up in the hype around the new green teas, even though I know I don’t particularly care for their vegetal, grassy profiles. This year, I managed to prevent myself from ordering large amounts of tea I’d feel guilty about not drinking, but still couldn’t resist the pull entirely. Hence this 25 g pack of Liu An Gua Pian, which is something that I liked before, even when I accidentally dumped boiling water over it.

That brings me to the other reason green tea and I don’t get along: I have a terrible time brewing it correctly. I don’t have a variable temperature kettle, so getting the water to 176F is a waiting game. I also don’t have consistent gongfu parameters. And I only have huge mugs or small 150 ml teacups, so I don’t even know where to start with bowl brewing. Also, I probably have the wrong water because everyone seems to have the wrong water.

I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot using water cooled to 176F for 40, 20, 25, 30, 40, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds. The first three times came from the owner; the last few are just my guesses.

The dry aroma of these long, curly, rolled leaves is of toasted pumpkin seeds, seaweed, and veggies. The first steep has notes of pumpkin seeds, spinach, cabbage, green beans, and iodine. The iodine and cruciferous vegetables get a lot stronger in the second steep, which also reminds me of zucchini. This somewhat sweet, vegetal profile remains strong in the next couple steeps, and then takes over as the session goes on, with highlights of spinach, broccoli, and kale. Nonetheless, there is not much astringency.

Although it has not made me into a green tea convert, this Liu An Gua Pian has the profile I remember and is nuanced enough to be interesting. Still, however, it’s a lot of work for flavours I don’t particularly gravitate toward. Maybe I’ll finally stop buying these types of teas every spring, or maybe I’ll eventually learn to like these vegetal notes. Only time will tell.

Flavors: Bok Choy, Broccoli, Green Beans, Iodine, Kale, Seaweed, Spinach, Zucchini

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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86
drank Ali Shan by CHA YI Teahouse
278 tasting notes

I sipped down the last of my 25 g of this tea yesterday. I finally got up the nerve to use the clay houhin that Mrmopar sent me a while ago, and much to my surprise and relief, it didn’t break. Maybe I’m not a degenerate teapot murderer after all! This tea was extra floral and cookie-like because I used a larger amount in what I think might be a 100 or 110 ml pot. Sadly, the fruity notes weren’t as evident as they were in a porcelain vessel.

I’m sad to see this tea go and regret not picking up more in the company’s recent sale. (But then, if I restocked all the teas I enjoyed, my cupboard would be even fuller than it is now.)

Thanks again, Mrmopar, for the teapot!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
White Antlers

mrmopar is an unsung hero.

Leafhopper

Absolutely!

mrmopar

Welcome and enjoy!

Leafhopper

Thanks again! The pot is easy to handle, though it does get hot if you don’t use the detachable base (which I initially didn’t).

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86
drank Ali Shan by CHA YI Teahouse
278 tasting notes

This is my first oolong from the 2020 spring harvest. Yay! I ordered some tea from Cha Yi a week ago Friday and it arrived the next Monday, which is amazing in this time of long shipping delays. Canada Post is really doing its job! I usually don’t go for Alishans, but the owner recommended it and it was the only spring high mountain oolong available, so I took a chance. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of heady flowers, egg whites, candied tropical fruit, and honeydew melon. The first steep has the buttery Alishan florals (orchid, lilac), plus sweet melon, cookies, and grass. It has a nice, heavy texture and no astringency. The second steep continues to be floral, sweet, and a bit vegetal, with slight tropical fruit. The description mentions cocoa butter, and I can kind of see where they’re coming from. The next few steeps continue with the fruity/floral/buttery profile, although the vegetal notes get stronger. By steep six, the spinach and umami are starting to overpower the fruity florals, but this tea retains some sweetness until the end of the session.

This is a high-quality Alishan with many of the fruity notes I like. Although the oolong fades quickly, those first few steeps are great, which is sort of what one can expect from this type of tea. I look forward to trying the two winter 2019 oolongs I purchased from this company.

Flavors: Butter, Cocoa, Cookie, Floral, Grass, Honeydew, Orchid, Spinach, Sweet, Tropical, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
derk

Good to hear you were able to get some of this year’s oolong!

Leafhopper

Yes, I was very excited! To my knowledge, Cha Yi is the only Canadian company that has 2020 oolong in stock, since everyone is so behind due to the pandemic. Frustratingly, they don’t include harvest dates on their website, so I had to ask the owner. Apparently everything in the New Arrivals section is from 2020. They have two Taiwanese oolongs and a black tea, all of which made it into my cart.

CrowKettle

Good to know! I’ve never heard of this company before, and it’s painful buying outside of Canada with the current exchange rate.

Leafhopper

Indeed it is! And to make things worse, we can’t buy from the slightly more affordable Taiwanese vendors unless we use a courier. I was hoping to get the high mountain oolong blind tasting box from Floating Leaves as I did last year, but they’ve raised the price from $10 to $20 and shipping is $18—naturally, all in USD! That would work out to $50 CAD for around 60 grams of tea, which is a bit much. Shipping from the U.S. is really killing the oolong love right now.

Nattie

Yay for new tea! This is the first 2020 harvest I’ve seen reviewed I think.

Leafhopper

Let’s hope we see more 2020 teas being reviewed as shipments start to arrive. I’ve heard that the tea is good this year.

Nattie

I hope so! I’m looking forward to buying new teas.

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86
drank Earl grey by CHA YI Teahouse
19 tasting notes

After trying a few kinds, this is my favourite Earl Grey! It makes an amazing London fog too, just throw a couple of lavender buds in the mix while steeping.

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72

Taste is a bit artificial with a strange aftertaste. I bought this to try as a latte and it won’t be replacing their earl grey for me anytime soon. Will give it a try traditionally brewed to compare.

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First tea of the morning today!

For the most part my body is still very used to getting up for work at the normal, pre corona virus hour that I used to have to get up at. As I’ve discussed, I’m working reduced hours right now to avoid higher traffic commute times on the metro so I technically have an extra hour and a half in the AM to either sleep in or do other stuff. I’ve mostly been using that time to have actual, proper breakfasts and a first mug of tea at home for the day…

Last time I drank this tea was Gongfu and it wasn’t quite working for me, but this time I followed the instructions on the sample bag for making it as a Western mug and it came out insanely good! Light to medium body and very soft, gentle mouthfeel without any bitterness/astringency. Flavour was delicate fresh florals like gardenia, lilac, and peony mixed with sweet vegetal notes like snow pea/garden peas with this sugar cane sweetness on the tip of the tongue. I don’t think I could have asked for a nicer cup to start my day with today, and this is exactly the lovely profile I remember the tea having when I first had it at the Montreal Tea Festival that shocked me so much and convinced me to buy this tea in the first place.

Mmmm….

Martin Bednář

It’s indeed amazing how different it can be when different preparation method is used! I found that in Guria Likhauri as well.

Just delicous. And tea itself? I can imagine drinking that!

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Gongfu!

This is something that I received at the Montreal Tea Festival, and I’ve previously reviewed it as well since it was being served during the festival. I’ve been meaning to brew this up Gongfu ever since getting it, but there’s just so many teas and so little time that it took awhile for me to finally get to it…

I’m actually livid about how this session turned out though – and to no fault of the tea. I was about two very lovely, very floral infusions in when I started to smell the worst smell ever from the kitchen. It got so bad, so quickly that I started to feel like I was going to throw up. I very cautiously left my tea table and ventured out to where one of my roommates was cooking, and the smell in the kitchen honestly smelled like someone was boiling cat piss on the stove. I know that sometimes that are, shall we say, “cultural differences” in how different people perceive the cooking of ethnic cuisine different from what they grew up with so I tried to ask my roommate what in God’s name she was cooking as tactfully as I could…

“Hey – what are you making? It smells… uh… unique!?”

“Oh, it’s apparently the world’s smelliest pasta! I thought it would be a fun and unique experience to try it out!”

Like – if you’re going to cook the “world’s smelliest” anything don’t you think it should be common courtesy to at the very least give your roommates a head’s up!? I’m two closed doors from where you’re cooking and the smell coming into my room has me on the cusp of vomiting. How long is our house gonna smell like ammonia and dead people!? Maybe turn a fucking fan on!?

So, suffice to say, I did not finish my tea session. The whole experience was ruined. Instead I sprayed Fabreze around my bedroom door and hid under my blankets for twenty minutes until the smell went away. I felt sick for hours afterwards though…

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/B5gSsQcAzua/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YVxT-Wg_h4

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Montreal Tea Festival – Tea #10

This was another new to me tea company that I saw while I was at the festival – though their booth was absolutely packed. In fact, I think it was one of the most crowded booths at the whole festival, and consistently too. We waited probably a good twenty minutes to shove our way to the front of their booth to get a clear look at exactly what they were selling – which seemed to be a mix of high(er) end traditional teas, some sort of flavoured tea in prepackaged boxes, and teaware. They also had a large tea table set up at the end of the booth where they were brewing about four different straight teas Gongfu and sampling out the teas to anyone who wanted to try them.

While I saw a bunch of traditional teas on the table that interested me, this was the one that jumped out the most to the person I was attending the festival with and I’ll admit that my knee jerk reaction was kind of to roll my eyes because, really, how nice could a Japanese Oolong tea really be!? I was feeling pretty certain it was mostly being showcased for the novelty factor, since it is an uncommon find.

However, this turned out to be one of the four teas that they were brewing Gongfu so we both decided to give it a taste and much to our surprise it was actually really good. Definitely light bodied, but fragrant and fresh with very smooth and silky notes of fresh spring flowers and an edge of something greener, but well rounded. I was definitely much more intrigued than I had been prior and, ultimately, I ended up grabbing a small bag of this one (and another tea that caught my eye) so that I could try to steep it up at home and attempt to recreate the lovely tea we were served.

I wish I had inquired more about the ratio of leaf to water they were using, and their water temperature but it totally slipped my mind in the moment. So it looks like I’ll have to put in the work to figure out the best method for this tea on my own!

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92

This tea actually tastes pretty much exactly like the description on the website…it’s buttery and vegetal and each steep is a little different but always extremely pleasant. I think I’m at my 6th steep now and it’s still flavourful.

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90

No notes yet. Add one?

Flavors: Mineral, Wet Wood, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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91

Intoxicating notes of orchids and lilac flowers, light, sweet and refreshing brew. Nice velvety texture. A great tea that reminds us that Spring is near!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 45 sec

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