Dazzle Deer

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Recent Tasting Notes

85

Summer Vacation! It’s late, and I seem to be having good luck drinking greens in the evening, so my Chinese tea today is another of my stashed Dazzle Deer samplers from last winter. This is another Chinese green I’ve never tried, a Dragonwell green.

The dry leaf just smelled very grassy, but the light yellow infusion is surprisingly sweet, floral, and even a little fruity in aroma. I did let this one steep just a little longer than I left my Bi Luo Chun last time (two minutes) but it is very smooth and doesn’t have any of that vegetal astringent bite at the end of the sip, so I think I’m in the clear. It’s quite nice. It’s a very naturally sweet green tea, that is a bit buttery, very smooth, and starts off with a sweet floral note that quickly settles into a vegetal flavor that tastes like warm grass mixed with a peapod/edamame/greenbean note. I really like the somewhat thicker, buttery mouthfeel of this green, while still having a sweeter flavor profile. I think I found the Bi Luo Chun I sampled a more relaxing sipper, and while I’ve enjoyed both teas, I think I enjoy this one just a bit more. With its more savory flavor, I may prefer this one more right after meals, though, than just before bed.

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Green Beans, Peas, Smooth, Sweet, warm grass, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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99

Summer Vacation! I’ve been meaning to try this one for some time and had yet to get around to it. My first experience with a Lapsang Souchong was awful and I never drunk the stuff (even in a blend) ever again — the experience was like trying to drink a cup of black tea while sitting next to a campfire while a strong Idaho wind was blowing the smoke right into your face the entire time. Since smoke is a very strong migraine trigger for me, the aroma alone was enough to actually give me a migraine from drinking just one cup. It was very unpleasant. But when I saw this included in a sampler package I got during a Veteran’s Day deal from Dazzledeer last November, then read the description, I was intrigued. Lapsang Souchong that isn’t smoked? Such a thing exists? I really wanted to try it. Since my head problems were linked entirely to the smoke-aroma and taste, it seemed a viable way to get to enjoy the tea. Not to mention I was curious to get to actually taste the tea without the overwhelming smokiness getting in the way.

Opening the 5g sampler packet, all I could smell was dark, bittersweet chocolate. Oooooooh, now that is already a good sign! Yes, definitely excited to brew this to drink with my breakfast while watching the episode of Ducktales I have waiting on my Amazon account this morning. Aah, Sunday mornings are the best. I prepared half the sampler (2.5g) in 350ml of water @ 200 F, steeped for 3 min. western style.

Brewed up, the cup still smells very sweet. It has a malty aroma, and is a little savory, like sweet and sour mandarin sauce, but I can also make out honey, cinnamon, and dark chocolate. It has such a pleasing scent it took me a bit to even take the cup from my nose to take a sip. The tea liquor has a stronger maltiness than the last few blacks I’ve sipped on, with a deep, sweet fruitiness to it. It actually reminds me of chocolate-covered oranges. Towards the tip of the tongue I get that sweet honeyed taste that I find so pleasant from many Chinese blacks, and late in the sip I get a deep cocoa note with a slight peppery spice that lingers on the tongue. The whole cup is extremely smooth, lacking astringency.

This is a fantastic cup of tea. Easily one of the best black teas I’ve ever tasted, and one that is going onto my, “I need this back in my cupboard!” list, since this 5g sampler will be gone by the end of the day. I’m a little sad to see Dazzledeer is currently sold out, but then, I’m not surprised, either; tea tastes good, yo, who wouldn’t want to buy it? And better yet, I’ve finally found a way to enjoy stinky lapsang souchong.

Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Orange, Smooth, Spices

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML
Bluegreen

Unsmoked Lapsangs (aka Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong) are one of the best Chinese blacks in my opinion. Especially the wild ones. If you liked this offering from Dazzle Deer and can’t find it anymore you may want to check Yunnan Sourcing, Teavivre or Verdant: they offer quite a few.

Mastress Alita

I’ll admit one of the advantages I get from Dazzledeer (besides supporting a small vendor) is that it ships within the US, but it looks like taking a second look at Verdant they ship from within the US as well, so I may take that option to tide me over. Thanks! (Unless I am placing a massive tea order, and I just have no need to be making any massive tea orders at this point in time, I tend to avoid international shipping). I would have to agree with you, this is probably not only one of the best Chinese blacks I’ve had, but just one of the best black teas in general I think I’ve ever tasted. I’m pretty smitten in tea love at the moment.

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87
drank Bi Luo Chun by Dazzle Deer
315 tasting notes

Small, furry, twisted green and silver leaves. Dry aroma is nutty and vegetal. Brews a very light yellow-green. The taste is very mild without being weak. Strong chestnut note, edamame, sugarcane, and a pineapple fruityness. Great lingering flavor and aroma in the mouth. A nice tea!

Flavors: Chestnut, Green Beans, Pineapple, Sugarcane

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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87

This is a fairly nice Bai Mudan. Mellow and sweet with a slight vegetal note and a light menthol-like cooling effect. It is good, but I’ve been spoiled by the awesome Bai Mudans from Wuyi Origin and Yunnan Sourcing. This one just isn’t quite as flavorful.

*Edit: Rating increased as it gave me a REALLY good tea high, wow….

Flavors: Green, Menthol

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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98

Four, count them, four samples down and reviewed in one day, which is very unusual for me.

This tea has fairly small leaves for a Dragowell. Nice, yellow-green coloration. Brews almost clear and I wonder if I should have steeped it longer, but the taste reveals that that is not the case. Very smooth and buttery, slightly vegetal (edamame and a bit of asparagus), and just a hint of floral. A second or so after you sip you get hit with a nice round sweetness that I can’t quite pin down. The aroma lingers in the mouth a lot like a good sheng. Very clean tea with a lubricating mouthfeel.

I would say that this is the best tea I’ve sampled from Dazzle Deer, and probably the best Dragonwell I’ve had. The only think I can knock it for is that the tea soup gets bitter quickly if allowed to cool. Unfortunately it’s out of stock…

Flavors: Butter, Soybean, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 OZ / 120 ML

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96
drank Golden Tree by Dazzle Deer
315 tasting notes

Third sample of the day; I’m trying to empty my sample bin to make room for incoming Black Friday orders.

This is the Dazzle Deer sample that I was most excited about; I like my oolongs roasted and the degree of roasting appears similar to my beloved Mountain Tea Amber Oolong.

Looks like a nice medium-heavy roast. Brews a medium-light orange. I used water at the recommended 212F temperature and the tea handles is just fine. The taste is indeed quite similar to the Amber Oolong! Strong rock sugar sweetness, dried fruit, barley, resiny cannabis-like quality, baking spices, and a slightly tart pineapple finish. Warm, mellow, roasty aroma. I don’t get any floral notes, which is surprising for being an Anxi TGY-related varietal.

I like this tea a lot, and will have to get some more so that I can do a side-by-side tasting with the Amber Oolong.

Flavors: Cannabis, Dried Fruit, Mineral, Pineapple, Resin, Roasted Barley, Spices

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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92

Loose leaf shou: the very thought strikes fear into my tastebuds. My first puerh was a loose leaf shou and it very nearly completely turned me away from puerh and I’ve had a bias towards cakes ever since. This one proves my bias unfounded as it is very tasty and clean.

Fairly small leaf material, but not a lot of buds. Smell its typical shou. Brews a dark brown-burgundy. Tastes of clay, nuts, and earth with a molasses sweetness. Nice, velvety feeling in the mouth. Lasted plenty of infusions and even the longest ones turned out tasty. Very clean shou; absolutely no fishy flavors or funk. Nice overall, not the most unique or complex but very easy drinking.

Flavors: Clay, Earth, Mineral, Molasses, Nuts

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
mrmopar

I remember those days. As well as the tea leaf as big as your hand.

tperez

Would you believe that that’s been five years ago? Thanks for being a great tea buddy!

mrmopar

Yep we have been in this thing for a while now! A buddy not necessarily so, an enabler, yes!

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94

Very small leaves for a Yunnan black, covered in golden fur. Almost looks like a Jin Jun Mei or other tippy Fujian black. Tastes of sweet potato and wood with a marshmallow-y sweetness and thickness, almost buttery. Sweet potato casserole tea? This would have been a perfect tea to share on Thanksgiving! This is smooth and mild tea, but can get a little sour if overbrewed.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I completely overdid it on the tea orders over Black Friday Weekend… I ordered from:

-Teavivre: Hong Song Zhen black(haven’t tried before) and Tanyang Gongfu black(super yummy), four little ru yao cups, and some samples. Everything I bought was 20% off, I had a ten dollar off coupon from the “lucky draw” and ten dollars worth of rewards points. Got over $50 worth for under $20 including free shipping.

-Mountain Tea Co.: 10.5 oz of their Amber oolong at 10% off. Most of their teas are decent but the Amber oolong is a killer roasted oolong for the price. Stocked up as a daily drinker. $40 dollars shipped, but it will last me a long time.

-Yunnan Sourcing: This is where I went overboard. I had told myself no more YS orders this year. However, I ended up ordering two aged sheng cakes that I had sampled and liked, three (cheapish) ripe cakes, three blacks at 100g each, three tian jian hei cha 50g each, and eleven 25g puerh samples (mostly 2016 autumn and 2017 spring sheng). Over two kilos of tea!

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Marshmallow, Nutty, Oak wood, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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94

I’m not the biggest fan of floral oolongs, but this one is quite nice! Comes in a nice 8g “pillow” cake shape, leaves are a mix of green and brown. Brews a dark gold color. Very strong floral aroma. Flavor is honey, flowers, and raw green bean. Lasts a good number of infusions.

Flavors: Floral, Green Beans, Honey

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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90

Small wiry black leaves with a strong chocolaty aroma. Brews a light orange. The chocolaty taste doesn’t carry over into the taste, it’s more molasses, persimmon, and sweet potato with hints of cinnamon and licorice. Nice tangyness.

It seems there is a lot of variation in Lapsang Souchong teas, and I’m enjoying all of them!

Flavors: Fruity, Licorice, Medicinal, Molasses, Sweet Potatoes, Tangy

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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84

Big burly leaves with a typical “sheng-y” smell. Brews a golden yellow. Low-moderate bitterness and astringency. Tastes of minerals, citrus, melon, and green wood. Nothing mind blowing, but a pretty good and reasonably priced young sheng!

Flavors: Citrus, Green Wood, Melon, Mineral

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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82
drank Wuyi Da Hong Pao by Dazzle Deer
315 tasting notes

Got this in Dazzle Deer’s 11.11 sampler deal. It’s a pretty good, pretty standard Wuyi oolong. Fruity, roasty, mineral, slight cannabis note. Doesn’t last many steeps.

Flavors: Cannabis, Fruity, Mineral, Roasted

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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