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Recent Tasting Notes
I liked this tea but if felt a little bit thin in flavor. The aroma coming from both the wet and dry leaves were delightful. The dry leaves had a nice balanced roasted smell to them while the dry leaves had an intense smell of Christmas to it, some nice dark chocolate flavors plus a little bit of cinnamon with it. The mouth feel is quite good and it has a nice taste to it. The only problem with this tea is the fact that there is not a ton of taste past the roast.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Roasted
Wow! The aroma of this tea is crazy. An extreme fruitiness coming from the aroma that is extremely intoxicating. The aroma coming from just the dry leaf and the heated gaiwan make me never want to stop smelling it. Peaches and lovely balanced roasted charcoal flavor a delicious minerality. The first three steeps brewed in red in color and were absolutely delicious. The tea coated my mouth leaving a wonderful sweet aftertaste.
Flavors: Honey, Mineral, Roasted
This is the only Lapsang that I have tried so I don’t have much frame of reference. That being said this is an extremely pleasant black tea its very fruity. Would definitely recommend those who are trying to get into Chinese black tea. Very sweet black tea with almost no astringency, don’t be afraid to push it.
Flavors: Blackberry, Fruity, Honey, Stonefruits
Here’s a secret: Don’t cut the bricks. Don’t try it. You will end up with stitches and weak tea.
So, here’s the scoop: These bricks make Xiaguan compression look like sissy stuff. Honestly, when I broke up one brick I used a meat mallet and a steak knife. A saw probably would have worked too. They are too small and too dense to fiddle around with without resulting in some sort of embarrassing self-injury.
The other reason is that the resulting half-bricks just didn’t have enough oomph to make me very happy with the session. Now, I like strong brews, so this may not be the case for everyone. But, really, these half-brick sessions just didn’t have any decent flavor.
So, I chucked an entire brick (~10g) in a 150ml gaiwan. The difference was night and day. Great flavor, great staying power; very dynamic in-mouth.
So, why get DHP compressed as a brick? I guess if you were going to age it, the compression makes sense. Beyond that, I can’t really say it’s a great medium for your daily oolong drinking. But, that said, this is a great session. Don’t cut the bricks, don’t get stitches, don’t break your cheap steak knives, and you will have a good time.
Dry leaf: cocoa powder, peanut shell, hints of licorice/anise. In preheated vessel – some sweet/sour notes.
Smell: roasted nuts, sweet/sour, hints of dark caramel. Sweet, pungent herbal like anise or sassafras.
Taste: roasted nuts, cocoa powder, baking spices, nice woodiness, mineral, sweet/sour. Aftertaste of citrus and tart raspberry, sweet minerality.
I received this tea through LiquidProuest’s Oolong Group Buy. I have to say this is delicious. I have been drinking this tea for hours now and it is relentless. The tea took quite a bit in order for it to fully loosen up but once it did it didn’t want to stop. I did a whole tab which ended up weighing around 12g in a 150mL gaiwan. The first steeps came out surprisingly strong despite the fact that the brick itself had not loosened up one bit. I think this is a really interesting and nice tea to have around especially to break out if you have any friends that are also into tea.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Honey, Mineral, Sweet
I received this from the 2017 Regional Oolong Group Buy Put Together by LiquidProust.
I woke up early to finish proofing my sourdough cinnamon buns, and wanted a nice savory roasted oolong as a breakfast replacement, this seemed perfect.
The dry brick smells very pleasantly roasty, like roasted malt used in brewing beer. It weighs in at 11 grams so I cut it in half, though I wish I cut it into a thin “top and bottom” instead of just chopping it in two, I think that will leave more leaves intact next time. I brewed up the 5g half brick in my 200ml glass teapot with 190F water for 30 second infusions. Due to the compressed nature of this tea I gave it a 10 second rinse and left it to steam in the teapot for 10 minutes or so. The rinse had a great roasted peat moss aroma, and was a bit too weak to drink but carried the same lovely scotch like notes.
After steaming and resting the brick started to break apart nicely with a bit of a high pour from the kettle. The liquor from this infusion is a nice transparent copper with an aroma of squash blossoms, roasted edamame, and maybe a hint of miso. The Chinese origin of this oolong becomes clear upon the first sip with a bracing rock oolong flavor balanced masterfully by the smooth roast that brings both sweetness and umami. The tea is very clean with not much lingering flavor besides some roasty smoothness, it has the mouth-feel of a heavily clarified broth, this makes it quite refreshing despite its savory taste.
The second infusion steeps a shade redder than the copper first steep and the aroma picks up a notable mineral quality (I keep thinking copper but is it just the color?). The roast dies down slightly as the umami flavor takes center stage, it reminds me so much of roasted edamame I can almost taste the salt, and the rock oolong flavor is still there accented by the increased mineral note in the taste.
The third infusion is a similar color with the roast aroma dying off further and again increased mineral notes. This is the most balanced tasting infusion yet, I still get all the flavors from previous brews yet no individual flavor stands out over the others. I would say this is the “natural state” of the tea as it is now fully opened up and infusions 4-7 (~1.5L H2O) were very similar, getting weaker as the tea gives out more and more of itself in later brews.
This flavors in this tea remind me of Verdant’s DHP, but with a clarity and cleanness that is unique to this tea. You can tell it’s a rock oolong, but the bracing flavor does not overpower; it’s well roasted but maintains delicacy. It has a good bit of finer tea pieces but it does not brew up too strong or tannin heavy. This and the Gold Rose from YS are both wonderful examples of oolongs, while showcasing the flavors unique to Chinese oolongs in particular.
Flavors: Mineral, Peat Moss, Roasted, Salt, Scotch, Soybean, Squash Blossom
This tea peaked my interest with the use of the term Zheng Yan. Zheng Yan, true cliff, is an area with in Wuyi Shan about 18 square miles, that is the most revered location for yan cha. So far only Tea Drunk has used this specific location when talking about their teas, so when I saw Cha Ceremony using it I had to try.
On the rinse I knew it was a Shui Xian and I knew it would be good. Shui Xian is probably the Yan Cha I am most familiar with and can distinguish the best so that is why I choose to start with it.
The roast was good. Often times with Yanchas you get an over roast. An overly roasted tea means that there was a flaw that the producer/farmer tried to cover up with the roast. In Cha Ceremony’s the roast was in balance with the rest of the tea. The body was good too. A full round body. I detected a mineralness on the teeth which is a sign it is from the general region of Zhengyan.
There was only one major flaw I picked out, and that was a sourness. While it was pretty apperent from the first steep, the body and roast of this tea made it not too offensive and did not ruin the tea.
I didnt quiet get burnt caramel, instead I got cigar smoke, sour plum, metallic.
Upon brewing this tea I noticed a scent that threw me back to my earlier days of drinking tea (which was only 2 years ago, I’m still new’ish) which already gave me high hopes for this tea. The taste is smooth with a splash of sweet aftertaste. With most yancha teas, dryness occurs after multiple cups. The brew that this provides is what makes it something that is high up there behind the 09’ oolong from TeaTrekker; which is still the smoothest rock oolong I’ve had to date. I think between the two different RouGui from Cha Ceremony, this is the one to be called premium and I quite enjoyed it.
These are absolutely huge pieces! I have to break mine into fourths to use some at work. With that being said, I get four different session out of each pieces which last me a nice 8 roasty steeps at work. Oolong is probably best when in loose form, but these cake are fun. As long as you use something that will catch the extra material that breaks off: This
provides a nice strong cup or a lighter one if you only go 15s on it.
The size alone makes me something to purchase and have on hand as it will last quite awhile.
Trying this tea again using less leaf. This is I find a heavily roasted oolong, at least to my tastes. It is much improved using less leaf. The roast character was not quite as dominant. I used 6g of leaf in a 120ml gaiwan. The roast flavor was dominant for about the first two steeps. What was left behind afterward was much more pleasant. I’m not sure how to describe the note so I won’t speculate. I ended up giving this eight steeps and it was pretty much played out at eight. Had I used more leaf I’m sure I would have gotten more steeps out of it. I think this is a good quality tea. It took me a couple of tries to get this where I liked it. I am not a big fan of roast flavor but I did manage to enjoy this tea.
I steeped this tea eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 6g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, anad 30 sec.
I just read the description for this brew, and I can confirm that it is lovely for a cold day. Today has been dark and gloomy, and I’m finishing up all my work before my birthday. I took a break to enjoy this and hopefully warm me up. The pouch emits a delicious char aroma, and it is very intense. I placed a generous amount in my warmed gaiwan and gave it a shake. The aroma deepens to a nice toasted wood. I’m loving these warm tones. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The steeped leaves keep the consistent char, embers, and resinous scents. The brew is delightful! The drink carries a nice pleasing roasted flavor. This tone is not over powering, and it soothes the body. The sips contain a light bite present in the aftertaste that keep the mouth alert and the taste buds intrigued. I enjoyed each steep of this. I noticed a slight sweet aftertaste and a well mixture of burnt sugar, roast, and smooth caramel tones. I was able to pull about six steeping sessions from my gaiwan. I sat by the window watching the snow fall on the pond as I sipped away at this roasty treat. This brew made for a very nice moment of peace and quiet. The drink has a nice head feeling and good body to it. The tea carries no overly complex tones, but it’s perfectly okay and makes up for it with a pleasant, fragrant experience. This is perfect for a cold day. I’m glad I had this moment, and I enjoyed this offering very much!
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Char, Roasted, Smooth, Toasty
Awesome, first to review!
I’ve been craving something dark, so I grabbed this to give it a go. The leaves are long blackened strands. They give a nice scent of ash, char, cinnamon, and some smoke, but there is a lingering sweet fruit in the background. I placed a fairly good amount in my warmed gaiwan and shook it up. The scents deepened to more roasted tones. I took in some damp char, roasted cinnamon, and some burnt sugar. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The steeped leaves are smooth and oily with some green spotting. The liquor was thick and bronzed. The initial sip gave some great mouth feeling. I took in a smooth and toasty brew. The drink gave me a lot of warming feelings. The cup was toasty and carried brief mineral tastes. The full mouth feeling began with a light cinnamon, and then it deepens to a more coffee or coffee grounds like taste. The aftertaste was fantastic. My mouth got a “thirst quenching” feeling. The brew itself is very aromatic. My cha hai emitted heavy roast and cooked fruit scents. This was a nice brew. The drink had a decent body and smooth flavors. I also noted a focused head feeling. The flavors were prominent and curbed, but they were not overly complex. I enjoyed this tea, and I feel it would make a great morning starter or coffee substitute.
Flavors: Char, Cinnamon, Coffee, Fruity, Mineral, Roasted, Smoke
This was an interesting session. I opened the package to reveal long slender leaves. They carried a smooth sweet grape and raisin scent. This fruity mixture was on top of an underlining oak aroma. I placed a very generous amount in my warmed gaiwan and gave it a shake. The scent deepened and expanded to other areas. I took in some char, mineral, sweet fruits, and some elderberry. The scent was strong and airy. I washed the long leaves once and prepared for brewing. The steeped black beauties give off a wet ash and grape juice scent at first. Then, this scent progresses to a lake water like scent. It’s a little strange and off putting. The taste is smooth with some sharp char. The brew gives a nice mouth feeling with some lubricating. The initial sip begins with a light grape flavor with an almost Darjeeling muscatel aftertaste. The brew progresses to give off some smoke and a slight bitter. I also noted that each sip gives a nice tang left in the mouth. The tang is unlike citrus; its a pleasant sour note. This was a decent session. The leaves kept brewing for quite some time, and each steep was a nice bronze coloured liquor.
Flavors: Char, Grapes, Mineral, Muscatel, Oak wood, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins
I am a big fan of Yancha, and this one made its way over to me. This DHP has long twisted blackened leaves and gives off a charred wood aroma with some mineral dust. I brew heavy when I brew Yancha, so I stuffed a very generous amount into my warmed gaiwan. The leaves grew damp and emitted a smokey sweet fruit scent. I could take in some ash and a deep cherry note. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The steeped leaves grew into a heavily sweet aroma, but it still carried a deep wood and char tone. This is some strong Yancha. The brew was smooth and silky with quite a kick. The liquor carries a full mouth-feel and lasting flavor. I could take in a slight burnt sugar taste, stone fruit, and mild wood. The brew finished with a crisp mineral and dark fruit aftertaste. The thing Yancha is best known for, in my opinion, is the aftertaste. It should be a lasting and sweet tone unlike any other. This one has a crisp pear and apricot tone. This flavor stays in the back of the throat and follows the drinker throughout the session. The flavors carry on as smooth char and soothes out after the third steeping. These tastes become less sharp and more rounded. The intense flavors are replaced by a soft smoked fruit and mineral. This was a good Yancha, and it’s a great example of a Da Hong Pao. I really enjoyed my session.
Flavors: Apricot, Ash, Burnt Sugar, Char, Mineral, Pear, Stonefruits, Sweet
Nichole generously sent me a sample of this. It sounded interesting from the tasting notes but unfortunately for me, I think this is far too roasty an oolong. I do get the roasty mineral notes but none of the floral notes. I can see where burnt caramel is something people taste. Glad to have tried this but I don’t think my palate appreciates the roasted oolongs still. :)
Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum! (Can you tell I liked this one?)
This is my first step into a straight oolong and not a flavored one. I’m so impressed. I wish I had brought some with me to work so I could have drank this all day. I’m craving it!
This tea produced such a beautiful roasted caramel sweet delight. I was at the 4th infusion before I had to leave for work so I’m excited for 5pm to come around so I can head home and have more!
Flavors: Caramel, Roasted, Sweet
This is a highly tasty roasted oolong. Thank you Marcus Reed for this tea. This is quite good. The roast profile is just right on this tea. Sometimes a roasted Da Hong Pao is noticeably over roasted, not this one. I would describe this as perfectly roasted and I am a hard person to please when it comes to roasted tea, I don’t like many of them. There was also a sweet note behind the roasted note, but it is on the back burner to the roast profile. This is one I would definitely buy myself if I hadn’t received it in a swap.
I brewed this tea six times in a 120ml gaiwan with 5.7g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. This tea was not technically finished at six steeps but I am at my caffeine limit so am stopping. I think an Da Hong Pao enthusiast would get at least ten steeps or more out of this tea. It is available at www.chaceremony.com. Thank you again Marcus Reed for this tea.
Flavors: Roasted, Sweet
I am having a painting dilemma, I have a pile of miniatures on my desk, I have plenty of paint and decent brushes, I have the mood to paint…what I do not have is the ability or inspiration. It is strange, I pick up a model, even on I have started, and I just can’t think of anything creative to do with it, and when I do paint it just looks kinda cruddy. Clearly what I need is to just play Minecraft, and hopefully Ben will have the Xbox put back together this evening, yay! Sadly I had to give up on playing it on my computer, it is just too crappy, but one day I might have access to a decent computer and can play! Even though it is behind the PC and has a limited map, I still enjoy it on the 360.
Today it is time for some Yancha! So do the happy Yancha dance! Da Hong Pao from Cha Ceremony is the tea for today, good ol’ Big Red Robe, possibly the most well known of the Wuyi Rock Oolongs, named because the Emperor really liked this stuff and dressed the original bushes in fancy red robes. Or the tea saved his mom and as a thank you he en-robe-ified the bushes, or maybe it was his wife. Regardless of which legend you choose, this tea is legendary, the original bushes still grow on the mountains, but the tea that we mere mortals drink are cuttings grown on the mountain gardens. The aroma of this Da Hong Pao is pretty robust, blending sweet and woody notes in a potent combination. First off is a strong note of fruity tobacco, cherry and cherry wood with molasses and strong char bring up the middle. Towards there end is the aroma of chocolate and char, giving it an almost burnt chocolate aroma, like if you are making smores and some melted chocolate falls on the fire.
Into the Yancha pot the twisty leaves go! The aroma of the now soaked leaves has a strong char presence, lots of different levels of char, from burnt wood to a touch of smoke, burnt chocolate and grilled fruit, and a finish of pipe tobacco. The liquid is rather sweet, with notes of brown sugar, cocoa, tobacco, and a slight fruity finish. A contrast with the intensity of the leaves, the liquid is more mellow.
The first steeping is intense! Holy crap that is one intense Da Hong Pao, I can see how it cured some ancient royal if the original was anything like this. It starts with tobacco with a slightly fruity edge to it and a nice note of charred wood, this moves to woodiness and cocoa, with a fantastic finish of sassafras. This might be the most intense first steep of a DHP ever.
Onward to the second steep! The aroma of this one’s liquid is a blend of intense char and cocoa, with a nice woody undertone and finish of cherry. This steep’s taste, I notice, is not as sweet as the first, which is funny since the first was not overwhelmingly sweet to begin with. It is intensely woody and filled with the notes of both burnt wood and char, as the initial char fades there is tobacco and cocoa (think dark chocolate over the sweet stuff) and a nice wet slate finish. The aftertaste is where the only sweetness is, molasses lingers for a while.
Time now for the final steep, the aroma is a bit sweet, with a gentle stewed stone fruit note blended with tobacco and char. The taste of this steep can be very easily summed up as the first steep again but much diminished. The char taste has faded in intensity, but the slight molasses sweetness is more prominent, again with a finish of sassafras. Really like that sassafras note, it makes it unique!
I feel overwhelmingly accomplished! My painting desk has of late been a real disaster area, miniatures and paints littered its surface in a complete pile of chaos, so I stopped that. My desk is no organized and almost all my trinkets packed away. I figure if I have to pack, might as well keep the essentials organized while doing so! Truly, one of the great things in life is an organized desk.
Today’s tea is Cha Ceremony’s Shui Xian, yes it is Yancha time! I was sent three samples of their tea and was torn as to which one to review first, I decided to go with the Shui Xian because it was a classic favorite of mine. The name Shui Xian (or Shui Hsien) translates to Water Spirit or Water Narcissus, there is some debate as to it being a reference to a water flower or an actual water spirit, I find this immensely intriguing, because language is a fascinating thing. According to the website, this Yancha (or Rock Tea) is a more lightly roasted Yancha, so good news for you who love the less char heavy Wuyi Oolongs. The aroma is something else, I let out a maniacal giggle while sniffing it because I LOVE the smell of Shui Xian!! There are notes of wet slate, sweet almost creamy molasses and caramel, fruity tobacco, a slight dry leaf pile, and a finish of char and wood smoke. This is, in my humble opinion, a perfect Shui Xian, balancing the aroma of sweet and fruity, woody and char, and mineral notes perfectly.
I brewed this the way I usually brew my Yancha, in my Yixing pot, using a lot of leaves and a short steeps using water just off the boil. It makes for an intense experience, but it is how I like my Yancha. The aroma of the now soggy leaves is intense, strong notes of char and smoke with an accompaniment of mineral and tobacco, with a lingering sweet molasses and slightly fruity finish. The liquid is a heady dance of char, tobacco, and mineral with a sweet cherry finish. I love, absolutely love those notes. It might be why Shui Xian is my go-to Yancha.
And speaking of it being my go-to Yancha, I do love the other ones, but they are like treats, Shui Xian I could drink all the time, in my mind it will always be the comfort food of the Rock Teas. The first thing that really struck me about this tea is how heavenly thick the mouthfeel is, definitely a tea that fits the term soup very well. It starts out with a strong mineral note, like spring water on wet slate, or limestone, because licking rocks is awesome. This moves to sweet molasses and cherry, this then transitions to tobacco and char. The aftertaste is dried cherry and it lingers for a while, eventually changing to delicate floral much later, the aftertaste seems to last for an eternity.
Second steeping time! The aroma blends mineral and cherry notes with delicate char and tobacco, very sweet this time around. The taste reflects the aroma, with a similar very thick mouthfeel that fades to a slight sharpness at the finish. The taste is creamier and sweeter, there are still notes of char and mineral, but that is mostly at the finish. Notes of cherry and molasses dance with delicate cocoa and even a hint of hyacinth at the midtaste.
Third and final steeping, Yancha, at least when it is brewed the way I do it, tends to die by the third or fourth steep, and I once read that is the mark of a good Yancha, really intense earlier steeps and not a tea that lasts. The aroma of this steep is very mineral and delicately sweet cherry, with a slight finish of char. The taste is delightfully mellow, a mildly creamy mouthfeel with notes of cherry and almost entirely mineral notes from start to finish with the cherry dancing around. I greatly enjoyed this tea, it got me pleasantly tea drunk (kinda after the first steep, it is intense) and is a super top notch example of how wonderful Shui Xian can be.
Marcus of ChaCeremony also sent me this to try! Thanks, Marcus!
I did a side-by-side comparison using one other well-known tea vendor’s Shui Xian. I used about 3g of leaf for each, and steeped them 60s/60s/90s.
The ChaCeremony leaf was darker in color, the other vendor’s was more grey. The size of leaf was similar. The color of the rinse water was shockingly different, with ChaCeremony’s tea coming in a lot darker. The color of the liquor was still dramatically different in the first infusion, but became more similar in the second infusion.
The ChaCeremony tea has a nice roasty bite to it, it’s smooth and sweet, and it has a nice complexity. Some teas with good complexity make it feel like multiple flavors are bopping around in your mouth…this tea does that! By comparison, the other vendor’s tea fell flat. Looking at the leaf afterwards, it appears that the other vendor’s tea is not as roasted as the ChaCeremony tea. I guess I know what I prefer! :)