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Recent Tasting Notes
Super cheap Da Hong Pao I picked up from Dragon Tea House on Ali on 11/11 I believe. It’s…passable, but I wouldn’t give it any higher praise than that. Some decently nice mineral and roasty notes for the first few steeps, but within just three or four steeps, it starts picking up a bit of a funky note that I kind of associate with steeped out roasted oolongs. Kind of a rotting floral/wood note or something – normally it’s not bad, because it only sort of appears at the end of a session, but in this tea it showed up early and made the second half of the session a bit unpleasant. Drinkable, but definitely not very good in my opinion.
Flavors: Floral, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet
I had relatively high expectations for this top grade TGY from DTH. However, the smell in the bag does not produce much fragrance and the taste was definitely lacking as well.
It was a nice emerald color and the leaves unfolded well when steeped but the flavor was very light….. 3 infusions and just a hint of mineral a little sweet on the tip of the tounge but not much beyond that.
Flavors: Mineral, Sweet, warm grass
Very light flavors and almost no smell out of the bag for this tea.
3 steeps, light mineral flavor , surprising hint of roast, and a nice fresh mist taste that I wish was more pronounced.
All 3 steeps were quite light on flavor.
This review is for the premium grade.
Flavors: Mineral, Rainforest, Roasted
This is the regular grade dong ding offered by DTH. The smell out of the bag is mild, faint hints of roast.
The tea brews up and the aromatics of the heavier roast set in. Flavor wise the tea is balanced with a nice caramel, roast flavor and light mineral taste. Surprisingly good for the lowest grade of dong ding.
Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Mineral
Not the best Bai Mu Dan I have tasted. It is 85% brown leaves 15% green, with a few silver needles.
The taste is soft and creamy but not a lot of depth for “Supreme”.
Still an enjoyable white tea, but far from top grade.
Flavors: Cream, Floral
This is my first experience with Da Hong Pao and I thought the taste profile of this tea was good but didn’t amaze me. I enjoyed 3 steeps out of this tea.
Notes: smoky, sweet, mineral, cinnamon and yeast fla flavor notes
Flavors: Cinnamon, Mineral, Smoke, Sweet, Yeast
I want to state that this cake contained some very random finds, such as corn kernels and some sort of crumbling red stone. Yet I still kept and tasted the tea. While it has some nice large leaves and silver tips it’s also very easy to split the cake and it bares a soft wood scent.
In terms of taste it’s subtle but pleasurable enough. Soft, sweet floral highlights mixed with dry, sour wood and a touch of stone fruit.
It quickly runs out of flavour though and is suited to every day drinking. While it may not be special at least it’s drinkable, even if it does come with some surprises.
The Taiwanese love a good tea competition dont they.
So glad I tried this one blind as I do often wonder if my taste gets swayed by slapping a gold star on a tin of tea, but apparently it doesnt, as I gave this one an award without knowing what it was.
I found it dark-green fresh (a bit like cooked spinach) & with a fruitiness thats a bit like cherry, or something. Anyway, it totally works, coming together to form a really refreshing drink. Even the smell coming across the room is a good one, you just can tell.
Nice pungency coming from the steeped leaf in the gaiwan, again, dark leaf, nuts & cherries. some straight sugar taste as well.
Really clear soup, not bags of flavour but there is just something about it thats right.
It isnt fruity like a really fruity tea, its still a green oolong, but there is just enough sweetness & the flavour is good. Refreshing and makes you feel good to drink it…
I defo think this is worth it, and am now very interested to try their other award winners, as in my limited experience when there are a selection of competition grade oolong about, the gold one does do something special compared to the 2nd & 3rd prize, and I would be interested to see if that trend continues in Dragon Tea House, even if Im presuming its likely to be a very subtle difference if the teas are from the same company or competition/area.
Edit* Just checked and the other award winners are dong ding, not Shan Lin Xi.. oh well :) its a 2016 from Nantou, I’m going to have a google to see who won the 1st prize & try some of that one :)
Flavors: Cherry, Nuts, Spinach, Sugar
This is a weird one. Isnt good but if you let it cool down a lot it sweetens and becomes something ok but still meh.
Its just a bit weak in its strength. I can get a bit of fruity aroma, some honey sweetness, a bit salty, slightly thick. but its all a bit jumbled up and lost in the background behind the Dan Cong oily bitterness, which is also not that strong tbh. .
The best Dan Cong I have had have been the ones that are so pungent that flash steeping is necessary & any oversteeping can ruin them, but once brewed quickly & correctly there is an explosion of (insert whichever amazing taste & aroma you have brewed) that just takes it from being ‘tea’ to being ‘wtf-tea’.
This one doesnt really have that. You just sorta steep it and leave it to cool down and its ok but not great. Sorta bitter & salty without any strong aroma or taste to lift you out.
Its actually a lot more expensive than other vendors who sell decent Feng Huang too. Meh, not very good.
Interesting thing about my reviews which I noticed since the latest blind test, is that once I know what a tea is I shift into comparing it to others I have tasted, rather than just scoring it by itself…
This is quite nice if you are into these roasty wuyi yancha – slightly nutty woodsy savoury. Hint of smoke in the roast, a bit mineral, usual Iron Arhat stuff. Tastes like drinking a recently put out forest fire
What I found about this one is that its less thick & smoothly rich like chocolate , but more coffee-like, like the raw bean of coffee or an espresso, slightly bitter & sharp but in a nice way. Aroma is good, Its a strong tasting one. Slightly rough perhaps, less of the subtle florals or fruits, but more of the ‘GIMME SOME COFFEE’ morning vibes.
This is in no way a bad thing if you want something with a bit of punch, Qi is nice, ive had four steeps and im pretty buzzy but not jittery.
Price in the medium range, £15/$20/100g and defo worth trying out if you like roasted tea that wants to be coffee.
Flavors: Burnt, Mineral, Nutty, Roasted, Salt, Smoke, Wood
So I’m trying this thing, I figured out how much water to boil so that I could fill the rest of the kettle with cold water and it’ll be like I can have any temperature I want! it’ll be like a variable temperature kettle just cheaper :D so uh yeah I’m doing about 70 C here :)
Anyways I better get to it before the temperature lowers and there was no point in me doing any of that, so uh there’s like.. a lot of minerals, and some roastiness, like a genmaicha taste, toasted rice; I had it western the first time I tried it because.. well it’s a long story. Anyways, that time it wasn’t very good. It’s surprisingly good now..well it was for the first 2 or 3 steeps, it’s bitter on this steep. It could be the time, I left it a bit longer than I probably should’ve. I flashsteeped the next one, and there’s no bitterness. It’s quite a sweet tea, and a bit buttery. .. for a little while, it was really nice for.. like 2 steeps it really isn’t that good anymore. it’s very astringent and .. can I say powdery feeling? Bleh powdery feeling that sounds disturbing.. It’s not as bad as it sounds.. I mean this might be fine for you if you brew western and uh do a rinse and then steep it for like .. 15 seconds and dont resteep but uh.. thats very specific and uh yeah so uh.. k well thats it :)
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Creamy, Mineral, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Vegetal
A tea re-visit. Whilst preparing some tea tonight I found myself stuck with what tea to have. This was one of the front teas in my cupboard so I thought I would refresh my memory of it. Reading my previous SororiTea Sisters review I mentioned it was too light. So this time I am gaiwan steeping it.
Original try – 200ml gongfu teapot with 3 nuggets.
Today – 100ml gaiwan with 4 nuggets.
From what I remember there was little difference between the two sessions. The cream was at the front with wood and earth tones behind a soft sweetness. All very smooth and easy to drink. Not something you could over steep by taste. It’s inoffensive yet the creaminess makes it desirable.
My husband rarely drinks tea outside of a standard tea bag (much to my dislike) but even his average pallet mentioned tasting cream. Not to put him down but I think coffee has ruined most of his taste, he usually tastes very little in things.
I will have to keep this on stand by as it’s one of the only Shu I can bring myself to drink these days.
Opening the packet I am now face to face with small Pu Erh nuggets, they are highly reflective with a lot of golden tips present. A cluster of earthy brown tones in one little nugget. They are compressed quite tightly, similar to a cake. Each nugget is unique in size and shape but they all contain the same level of golden tips.
On sniff-spection I can detect damp wood, earth, smoke and musk tones. Truthfully it’s also perhaps a little fishy but I think that is down to the age of the tea.
I will be using 3 tea pieces (roughly 4-5g) in a 200ml glass gongfu teapot vessel with boiling water. Usually I like to dedicate a lot of time for Pu Erh but I only have a couple of hours before I have to help my parents with something, so for that reason this will be across six steeps.
Rinse time of 10 seconds due to the size of the nuggets.
First Steep – 1 minute
The nuggets have not broken apart but after the rinse they are soft and giving off more colour. The tea liquid is cloudy red brown with a sweet and earthy scent. Similar to it’s raw scent but much sweeter and thankfully not fishy.
The first few sips reveal a soft and creamy base with delicate wood and earth notes. There is some dryness but not much. As subtle as it is the creamy effect is a wonderful surprise and very easy to drink. The after taste was earthy and dry clay like.
Second Steep – 2 minutes
The nuggets are still rather firm but they are softening up, I could easily pull them apart if I desired to. The scent is smokier but still rather soft.
Flavour is still soft but stronger than the first steep. The sweetness has toned down but the cream persists through the light wood, earth and smoke elements. The after taste is dry with a wood flavour. Also an element of malt that reminds me of golden tips.
Third Steep – 3 minutes
The nuggets are now breaking apart slowly but surely.
This steep is still creamy but the musky earth tone is peaking through a little more than the previous steeps. It’s now a more traditional style Pu Erh but it’s aged very nicely.
Towards the end of this steep it had some sourness coming through toward the after taste which lingered with the musk.
Fourth Steep – 4 minutes
The sweetness has come forward again among the cream, it’s almost honeyed. But the musky earth is still dry and slightly sour in contrast. It still reminds me of golden tip black tea but much more subtle.
Fifth Steep – 5 minutes
The sourness has softened and again the tea is losing the slight thickness that it began to get around the third steep. The cream is still the main flavour at this point.
Sixth Steep – 6 minutes
This final steep resembles the first, expect there is an edge of bitterness in the after taste at this point. The cream is the only notable flavour that is left.
Conclusion: It’s subtle in strength but the cream and sweet wood notes carry this into an easy to drink Shu. I prefer Sheng usually for the creamy taste but this equals a very creamy Sheng but without the grass and floral notes on the side. Also the smoothness of this worked in it’s favour for me.
Given that this tea boasts it can be steeped over 15 times I think they must mean via gaiwan as it started to lose colour and flavour around the fifth steep.
Next time I may try and add another nugget and see if it changes once it’s slightly stronger, but the colour of the tea was dark enough and I believe it’s just one that needs to be experimented with. Perhaps a gaiwan steep would bring out more flavour, but it could be even softer. I will try and experiment another time.
Some quick notes on this while I catch up on Game of Thrones. I’ve almost finished the second series (yes I’m that far back) and I’m going to storm through it over the next two weeks.
This tea is called silver bud yet it doesn’t actually have many of them in the raw Sheng. I suppose that is what I get for trying a cheap sample. It smells musty and damp, very earthy for a Sheng and rather sour.
In taste it’s at least nicer than it smells. It tastes of dry leaves and damp earth with some sweetness and astringency which lingers in the after taste. The bitterness does leave some dryness over time on the tongue.
This tea gets bitter very quickly and the astringency is getting to be too much after only a few steeps. I do like bitterness in a Sheng sometimes but I think this is a touch too much for my liking. I can drink it but honestly it will be wasted on me.
Oh well, another sample reviewed at least. I may just end up seasoning my tea pets with the rest of this, which is around 45g.
Life is too short to drink bad tea.
This is definitely a really low quality milk oolong, the milky flavour lasts maybe 2 steeps in gongfu, and for those two it isn’t milky enough in my opinion. It tastes kind of bitter and too leafy, and the leaves unfurl after like 30 seconds of steeping, plus they’re all broken and unevenly picked, the leaf base itself is really low quality; you get what you pay for. It’s too bad because I reaally love milk oolongs, and this is the only one I have atm. I don’t really know why I got this.
Do yourself a favour and get your milky oolong elsewhere
This is a very tightly balled Oolong, somewhere between 25% and 50% oxidized. I’ve steeped this up a bunch of sessions, and had trouble getting serious flavor out of it. I used as much as 10g in 110 ml Gaiwan, more than I usually would for an oolong. For temperature I used 195 F – 200 F, also higher than usual. (I generally use lower temps than most people) To get any real flavor out of it, I had to steep it for at least 30 seconds, even up to 2 minutes.
The description from the producer says naturally sweet, fruity, creamy, full bodied. The body was medium-full bodied, so I’m with them on that one. I didn’t taste fruit or creamy-ness. On the early brews I detected some malt , although not a lot, also some floral flavors. Actually, there was never a lot of any flavor. The malt faded right away, and was replaced by an asparagus/spinach vegetal flavor. The floral notes stayed throughout. The tea also picked a peppery flavor on the second or third infusion, which stayed until the end. A really nice aspect of the tea was a sweetness that appeared about 20 seconds after I took a sip, and lingered for a few of minutes. There was medium amount of dryness, nothing too crazy. I liked the tea but it definitely wasn’t amazing.
This tea makes a decent pairing partner with cheese in general, but nothing spectacular. A cheese called Equinox (by Birchrun Hills Farm), similar to an Italian Asiago (young Asiago Presatto DOP), brings out the floral notes and balances the pepper. Aged Gouda was good, but neither had any transformation or effect on the other. I didn’t like it with a 3.5 yr aged Parmigiano Reggiano. I was ambivalent to a pairing with fresh goat cheese. In previous sessions I thought it went nicely with an old-world style farmhouse cheddar, but this time around I was more ambivalent. The exception being the cracks in the rind with mold/cheese-mite growth (sounds bad but is normal with this style cheese). The tea balanced the bitterness of the rind fissures, giving a flavor of fruit, walnut, and a little horseradish.
I coaxed more than 10 steeps out of it. And the tea smelled great throughout, sweet and floral!
Not sure I’d say this is my favorite snaily yum, but it’s pretty good. Smells smokier dry than it actually is. It’s mostly a soft malt with some hay in the aftertaste and an overall sweetness. Pretty good all in all. Steeped Western as I find I don’t care as much for the snails done in gong fu steeps.
Another in the quest to replace Min River Tea’s JJM.
According to the website, this is from the originator that Chris suggested – Junde – the originators of JJM. So it should be pretty authentic at least. However… it’s still not Min River, sadly.
This is a good cup. A moderately malty, mildly chocolatey cup with some buttery mouthfeel when not using a metallic cup. :) In a silvered cup, it becomes very bright in feel and somewhat thinner. Still a good cup, though, and I do notice the coppery finish when using the silvered cup. I probably won’t keep this particular one around, but I may eventually try other variations from Dragon Teahouse to compare.