Eco-Cha Artisan TeasEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
This tea made me join the club. I was a month late to it, but they fortunately had some leftover, so I got it when I could and I am very glad that I did. The company’s description is pretty awesome, and it is very close to some of the traditional Dong Dings that I’ve had. This is a Dong Ding from Phoenix Village after all.
I got all kinds notes from the smell and the taste, but I think the websites description gives it justice.
“The aroma is strikingly reminiscent of fresh scones, cinnamon and brown sugar. The brewed tea offers a thick, smooth mouth feel, with notes of Swiss Chard sauteed in butter. Overall, is has a balanced, sweet and mildly astringent character, with pronounced buttery, brown sugar and savory dark green leafy vegetal qualities. "
This was true gong fu and western. Western was a little bit more savory, whereas gong fu highlighted more vegetal and sugary notes. I got something similar to squash every once in a while in the middle of the body, but the Swiss Chard butter notes with the consistently sweet finish was true in every brew.
I was impressed with this one because it occasionally bordered on dessert like, but was never too sweet and always finessed. I actually liked it over the Da Yu Ling that I have which is saying something. If you can grab it, get this one on their reserved teas section of their website. This one and the Honey Fragrance are my favorites from the club so far.
(Only seem to have time for western & cold brewing these days. As with several others I’ve sampled recently, I hope to try gongfu with this tea soon and will update.)
Tea is from summer 2016.
Western (5g/200ml/95 C) – pkg directions for western brewing call for pretty heavy leaf of 8g/300ml, so tried to stay close to that ratio.
Dry leaf is very fragrant & pleasant, but hard to describe. Smells bright, reminds me of dark cherries and some spice?
3 min – Very pretty red brew. A little malt up front, quickly moves to some dried cherry fruitiness and some earth, and wood & floral to finish. Maybe some hints cinnamon & vanilla? Smooth with some tannins on the finish, but no bitterness. Had to work hard to pick out these flavors, though – overall impression is pleasing but limited.
4 min – Similar, though flavors are lighter.
6 min – Ditto.
No changes between infusions, no real complexity – just generally ok brew that grows weaker.
Cold brew (1g/100ml; 1 resteep @ 1g/50ml blended in – a little too weak on its own)
Nice sweet black tea aroma with cane sugar notes. Taste is lighter version of “darker” flavors like cocoa powder, dried fruit like prunes. Unfortunately resteep on its own has a strange wet cloth aftertaste – it blends nicely into the first infusion, though. Like with western, flavor is good but not very interesting.
The September box surprised me as a green Da Yu Ling instead of the darker teas the company tends to release this month, and it was a pleasant surprise. The company wanted to introduce a fall harvest Da Yu Ling with a higher oxidation of 30%, and I am glad they did because it was personally successful.
I will say that my notes today are not going to be too deep in detail, but I’ve brewed this a few times differently. I’ve done gong fu with a 20 sec beginning, 15 sec 2nd steep, and 20 increasing over time and something more basic like 30 increments. The notes changed more here, and the tea has flavor, albeit mild overall. Eco-Cha’s description is on spot about it being vibrant and fresh-this tea is definitely floral and green like apple skin, but the deeper fruity qualities are in the aftertaste of the second and later steeps. The vegetal flavor matches fresh yellow squash. I personally got lemon balm and kiwi in most of the finishes and lilies in the florals, with some orchid, hyacinth and a little bit of osmanthus. Although the say it’s heady, that is moreso true again in steeps 2-4 without it being overwhelming and perfumy. Otherwise, it is a very mild tea with a smooth and full mouthfeel, and a dry finish.
Western was not as successful so far. It tasted more like a general jade or jin xuan than a Dayuling, which was a shame, so Gong Fu is the better way to go. The notes remained more floral than anything else, and the fruitier notes were lost out and more herbaceous. This tea is flexible and can hand some rough housing, but I’ve lost some of the more subtle notes going that way, so precision is the way to go to master this tea. I was hoping for sweeter fruit notes from the higher oxidation, but the evergreen, squash, lily, and watercress notes took over western and gong fu.
I have to say that tasting this tea made me think of the earlier notes on the company’s main supply of Dayuling here on steepster since this was such a mild tea. I am happy as a club member that I got to have a tea from one of my favorite terroirs at a good price, and that I got to try a fall version. I’m also happy to have 75 grams of it, and I will definitely enjoy drinking it. My only nitpick is the lack of strength, so I will give it my rating of 88-the designation for something that I could have easily loved, but was only steps away from receiving it.
Flavors: Apple Skins, Drying, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Green, Lemongrass, Orchid, Pine, Smooth, Sugarcane, Sweet
I am surprised I did not review it earlier. Anyway, this was the recent club batch that I’ve been anticipating. I’ve seen posts on the earlier batches with slightly different names, and the few that have been written always rave about the flavors that come out of the leafhoppers’ bites. Leafhopper of course waxed poetic about the earlier renditions of it, and now that I am tasting this year’s, I can see why. I’ve brewed it western 3 grams and 3 minutes per cup and 6 grams for 5 fluid oz gong fu using my 15-20 second standard with a few mess ups.
Honey is the prominent flavor of this tea and it is incredibly heady and forward no matter my brewing method. The dry leaf smells like honey roasted graham crackers, and the brewed leaf has the honey note bursting with fruits and other florals like papaya in the aroma. The western brews are incredibly unctious, with a vanilla floral leading the way into honey, cinnamon, graham-cracker, rose, apple,and another honey-crystal return. The Gong fu method divided the same notes, albeit sweeter and cleaner with ever present viscousity. Short steeps are bright amber yellow that transition immediately into a sunny orange. The second steep in both methods was also a little nutty, more akin to chestnuts, but fruity like peaches and yellow plums among other stone fruit. I also got some of the woodiness the company describes, but it was kinda like maple. The middle steeps also become a little woodier with the maple followed by noticeable pecan notes with some fruity peach accents in the end. The dryer notes are at the bottom of my tongue in every sip, and the sweeter ones coat the roof of my mouth with honey crystals in taste and texture. One person even described caramel on the blog page for it.
Going further into the tea, it was basically a lighter, sweeter version of the company’s Dong Ding staple. That used to be my fall tea for my cabinet, and I was happy to have a return of it in some form or another. This tea is very flexible and complex despite its honey forwardness. This tea is one of my favorites in my stash right now because of its complexity and fully developed flavor. I practically use it for my desert cravings, though it has kept me up at night a few hours, so I tend to drink it in the mornings and afternoons. It satiates my pallete, but stimulates my appetite, so I keep brewing more and more of it.
I’ll probably write another note because this tea has a great combination of lighter and darker qualities from the roast and the heady honey flavor. I wish I paid better attention while brewing, but it is so good that I just let myself enjoy it without the fuss of isolating every note in precise detail. There were times where I could not tell if my brain registered apple or peach for the obvious fruit tones. I hope that I gave you a decent idea of this sweet viscous baby anyway.
Tried a number of variations and found that whether brewing gongfu or western, water should be very hot to boiling (definitely no lower than 90 C) and start out with a fairly long first infusion – 1 min in gaiwan, 3 minutes western. Lower temps and shorter brewing times just don’t bring out the flavors.
Gongfu (90 C, 3g, 50ml) – start with 1 min steep, then 30, then adding 10/15 seconds after. First infusion has a light, buttery aroma & flavor at front, then sweet florals, then creamy finish. Aftertaste keeps creamy, sweet, floral. Second steep brings out honey/syrupy aroma, and honey is now present with the buttery florals. Finish is honeysuckle & a little cashew? Third steep keeps these flavors & adds a hint of grassy bitterness in the middle, which then complicates the previously smooth finish. By steep 5 the creamy flavors & textures are receding, giving a “cleaner” finish. By 7 & 8, the grassy florals are growing, a bit more bitterness, but still pleasant. Steep 9 has first hint of dryness. These impressions remain through 10-12, but it seems like a tiny bit of smooth creaminess returns on the finish with these. Flavors overall are growing weaker by 12, so stopped there.
Western (boiling, 4g, 250ml) – start with 3 minutes, adding 1 min after.
Has pretty much all the same flavors & aromas as in gongfu, but not as layered. Starts creamy & buttery floral, sweeter florals in middle, lingering aftertaste of sweet floral & buttery cashew nuttiness. Second steep has less floral, less butter, but still creamy, nutty, and a little grassy sweetness. Steeps 3 & 4 are about the same, just growing a little thinner & losing flavor by 4.
Cold brew – 1g/100ml, overnight chill. Quite nice flavor, though creamy butter might be a tiny bit rich as iced tea. Florals present but not as strong, very smooth overall.
My first of the club, and I so wish I joined before they sent out the Phoenix Village Dong Ding, because man, that one looked good. As for this one, it is certainly unique and the kind of tea my palette likes.
First off, the leaves are very unusual and very colorful. They have a blue black color tented by splashes of auburn red and highlights of yellow and white in the stems. The dry leaf has a great plantain juicy fruit smell with some headiness, and the same can be said for the wet leaf, but it draws out a raw honey sweetness in the process. I went lighter with this tea at first, going 4 grams in 5.5 fluid oz, and got mostly fruit and heady honey notes. The taste starts out faint, and then thickly explodes into juicy papaya and banana notes with a mega honeyed and sticky finish. It was almost like I was eating raw honey straight from the comb. I only got three brews of it gong fu, however. The notes fluctuated in the later two steeps. The front end was sweeter in the second cup, and then it broke out into more floral fruit notes in the middle, then back to honey with another citrus splash. Honey and light papaya were more prominent in the third steep.
Although the advice online was to brew this lightly, I got personal better results from longer steeping western with 5 grams to 10 oz after 3 minutes the first time. The texture was thicker with the same notes I described, and it got me glowing. It also kept me up because I was very focused, but hey, I got good sleep anyway.
I’m playing around with it right now with more leaves, 6 grams in my 5.5 oz vessel, and the first was a little overdone at 45 sec, but it was still good and a little woodsy like an Oriental Beauty. It is like other GABA’s I’ve had in that it had the immense fruit-candy notes, almost bordering on grape candy but beyond the horizon of dried papaya, but it really stands on its own because it has little astringency and no bitterness. It’s also so frickin sweet. I personally have not detected a lot of subtleties other than the weird florals and the flavor explosions, so it is not a complicated tea and very easy to drink.
I will say that I’ve had one better GABA tea, this one does outrank a lot of the others because it does not have the overripe funk that others can have. The fruit notes are very fresh and juicy, and I can a lot of people enjoying it because it is very refreshing. My only knit picks are from my experience with other teas.
I forgot to mention that I gong fu’d it last time. This time, I brewed it western and the tea’s body was better because of it. Artichoke, and creamy jin xuan texture with some light but heady Alishan florals, and a slightly green apple aftertaste. Overall, the tea is still fairly vegetal and milky. I am glad that I tried it, but I personally would not reach for this any time soon. Not a bad example of a Meishan, however.
Thank you Eco-Cha!
I got this sample as a club member, and it was pleasant. I was a little underwhelmed overall despite some nice florals and texture gong fu. It was certainly milky and green, starting on a weird high floral note that was almost like plastic, going into honeysuckle, spinach, hyacinth, vanilla, green apple, mint, and ending with a vegetal but crisp finish. There were some shifts in later steeps with a little bit more green apple, but the tea did not change all that much. I am going to have to try this one again because I was too bored.
For my most recent session with this tea, I just about doubled the leaf:water ratio. Short steeps from about 5-15 seconds (20 max). It seems like 90 C water works best in this case. I’m really enjoying it. The flavors are about the same, maybe slightly more complex, but overall more intense and linger longer. There is a very slight added astringency but it’s so mild. Later aftertaste is mildy mint-like. The cha qi is again calming but more intense. Meditative and focusing. Honestly, this tea seems underrated to me. Maybe the summer 2017 batch is just better than previous years.
Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Licorice, Sweet Potatoes, Umami
I wouldn’t say this is a complex tea, but I think it’s very good. I used about 5 g for 120 ml gaiwan, and just under boiling water. The dry leaves are very dark and crisp. Beautiful and intact. I steeped with fairly short infusions, starting with 5 seconds and ending with about 20 seconds.
The aroma mostly consists of a light cinnamon, deeper notes of caramel (especially the gaiwan lid and dry cup), and possibly toasted almonds. The flavor has a touch of caramel and maybe a sweet and slightly savory baked scone. After swallowing, the flavors can be sensed again when exhaling, and there is a nice light lingering astringency on the middle of the tongue. I think these flavors can be found in about five steepings, and it gets more astringent with more, longer infusions. I tend to get a very calming effect from this tea. The brewed leaves are a deep red/reddish-brown color.
Even though the tea is not extremely complex, the notes it does have are all good and balanced making for a satisfying daily drinker. I would consider having this tea in my stock at all times so it’s always an option.
Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Cinnamon, Roasted nuts, Sweet
Gongfu, 5g/100ml at 80-90C. 2017 harvest
I previously tried this a bunch of times between 90C and 100C and i have to say…this just cannot take it. On the very first steep it tastes like stewed leaves and is astringent. At 100C there is an AMAZING aroma from the wet leaves though—like a rich browned butter: nutty and savory.
I now repeat this at a lower temperature, and wow it is a huge improvement. I can actually taste the flloral oolong notes, and get a sweet buttery taste, sweet and fresh with some savoriness. The lasting texture is oily and pleasant. However, the dry leaves dont smell quite as amazing as at 100C :(
Once the leaves have unfurled, there is more of floral taste with some ongoing buttery taste and aroma.
Unfortunately shortly after, the butteriness starts to fade. Now I’m noticing a really fresh menthol/mint/wintergreen in my throat, which is really refreshing!
Overall this was a pleasant tea but a little bit finicky. This is my first jin xuan and even as a newbie have had both much creamier (in texture AND taste) and butterier lightly roasted oolongs not of jin xuan variety. This is good and I recommend it, but probably not something I’d order again because its best qualities are just beat out by others in my small stash.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Nutty, Spearmint, Sweet
My nose has been kind of stuffed up lately and I’ve been trying to finish older teas, so I’ve been rather inactive on Steepster. This tea has been open for a while and, though I’m not head over heels for it, as I’ve been for some other Eco-Cha Tea Club offerings, it’s still pretty good. I steeped 6 g in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 180 seconds.
The first thing I notice about this tea is how sweet it is. I get notes of custard, cream, flowers, and grain in the first steep. The second reveals more floral notes (osmanthus?), honey, and a kind of tart green apple flavour. The roast on this tea is very light, letting a lot of the greenness show through.
Floral, honey, and creamy custard notes persist throughout the next few steeps. The tea also has a thick, heavy mouthfeel that seems to make the slight roast more palatable. By the eighth steep, the tea is roastier and drier, but still engagingly floral.
This tea combines the floral freshness of a green oolong with the sweeter character of a slightly roasted one, and as such, is very pleasant to drink. But I don’t have the desire to hoard it for special occasions like I did with their Tie Guan Yin or their bug-bitten tea club selections. This might be a tea for those who dislike the grassier notes of greener oolongs.
Flavors: Cream, Custard, Floral, Grain, Green Apple, Honey, Osmanthus, Roasted, Round
I don’t have much experience with Hong Shui oolongs, although with the three I’ve received thus far in the Eco-Cha Tea Club, this could soon be rectified. The dark, loosely ball-rolled leaves look fairly different from the oolongs I’m familiar with, and don’t give off much of an aroma. I steeped 5 g of tea in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 200F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The first three steeps taste exactly like spiced banana-nut bread, with notes of grain, cooked banana, roasted walnuts, honey, and spices (nutmeg?). The tea loses some of its nuttiness after this and takes on a sesame flavour. It also acquires a peachy finish and a mineral note reminiscent of Chinese Wuyi oolong, although this could be just my imagination. The leaves consistently smell more peachy in the teapot than they taste in the cup.
A perfect dessert tea, this Hong Shui is rich, mellow, and indulgent. If it had come through with a bit more of that peachy flavour, it would have been among my all-time favourites.
Flavors: Baked Bread, banana, Honey, Mineral, Nutmeg, Peach, Roast nuts, Spices, Walnut
This has been my favorite tea from the eco-cha tea club so far! (I’ve been a member for the past year and a half or so.) It’s such a warm thick roasty treat. It’s mellow without being mild, deeply flavorful in a very relaxing sort of way. No bitterness, nothing challenging to it – it just makes me feel good all over. Gotta admit, I especially appreciate that it’s delicious when drunk grandpa-style at work throughout the day.
Just getting around to this steepster select (RIP) sample from probably 2013 or 2014.
1st, 2 min:
The aromatics of this tea are as beautiful as you’d expect from a green oolong. Floral and creamy with a front of lavender that fades to sweet cream as the tea cools. The flavor is really striking. Floral with a rather sweet vanilla flavor. As I keep sipping the vanilla adds notes of cardamom and a very gentle cinnamon.
This tea is a little too singularly sweet to be something I would drink regularly, but it’s a nice treat, perhaps as a desert tea.
2nd, 2 min 30 sec:
By the end of this steeping the leaves have really unfurled and are lovely whole leaves with light visible bruising. I’m very happy this round is less startlingly sweet than the first. The vanilla flavor has faded a bit and has left a nice combination of florals and cardamom/cinnamon. This pairing with less of the sweet vanilla is much more to my liking.
3rd, 3 min:
The spices are starting to fade and I’m left with just the florals. Definitely not an unpleasant cup, but I think thats my sign that this session is done.
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Cream, Floral, Sweet, Vanilla
I can’t be alone in wanting to keep the teas I love indefinitely, even when it means drinking them rarely and possibly having them deteriorate. This is one of those teas. Despite not caring for honey, fruitcake, or Christmas all that much individually, this oolong is like honey-covered Christmas cake and it’s fantastic.
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 one more long soak to get all the remaining flavour.
In the warmed teapot, this smells like spiced honey with floral undertones. The first steep has notes of honey, dried fruit, baked bread, roses and other flowers, spices, and something I’ll call bug-bitten sourness. The aftertaste is mostly honey and it lasts for a while. In the second steep, the bready, honey, and fruit notes get stronger, resolving into dried dates, prunes, currants, and other fruitcake-y ingredients. There’s also a touch of bitterness and dryness, but this tea is so good that it doesn’t bother me.
The honey, spicy, and baked bread notes get even stronger in the third steep, and the rose is pronounced at the end of the sip. This tea has also gotten darker, both in terms of the liquor and in taste, with walnut shell and more grain notes showing up. This profile holds steady through the fourth, fifth, and sixth steeps. Although it gradually becomes less complex as the session progresses, that overpowering honey sweetness never leaves.
This is a ridiculously good oolong that justifies how much I’ve spent on staying in the Eco-Cha tea club for over a year. I’ll hang on to it as long as I can!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Currant, Brown Sugar, Dates, Dried Fruit, Floral, Honey, Pleasantly Sour, Rose, Spices, Walnut
I’ve had this oolong for about a year and am nearing the end of the bag. According to Eco-Cha’s website, this is a combination of the heirloom Tie Guan Yin and Jin Xuan varietals, processed and roasted in the traditional manner. I steeped 6 g of tea in an inexpensive 120 ml clay pot I recently bought in Chinatown, which actually does seem to take the edge off roasted oolongs. I used 200F water for two steeps of 30 seconds, four steeps of 40 seconds, two steeps of 50 seconds, and a couple longer infusions.
The first steep is dominated by Graham crackers, with orchids, smoke, and honey in the background. The tea gets smokier and tangier in the second steep. I can imagine it being roasted over an open flame, although that’s probably not what happened. In spite of the smoke, it’s sweet, substantial, and comforting, with a Graham cracker and honey aftertaste that lasts for minutes.
Steeped at 40 seconds, the Graham crackers morph into wood and caramel, but the smoke, florals, and honey stick around. There’s a bit of a bite to it now at the end of the sip. Steep four is nearly identical. By steep five, the smoke is beginning to dissipate and there’s a grassy note in the aftertaste. (Could this be the Jin Xuan?) The tea gets softer and drier over the next few steeps until it starts losing flavour in the tenth.
This is the ultimate autumn tea. You can tell it was made with care because the roast adds to it rather than making it one-dimensional. I’m not sure how similar it is to the Tie Guan Yin Eco-Cha offers in their regular line-up, but I’ll definitely consider giving it a try.
Flavors: Caramel, Graham Cracker, Grass, Honey, Orchid, Smoke, Tangy, Wood
Very nice refreshing tea, lots of notes of orchid and sweetness with a good creamy background. Almost an undertone of vanilla as well. At first I thought it was pretty light but I did a longer first steep and it’s delicious.
Flavors: Floral, Orchid, Sweet, Vanilla
A great mild tasting tea. Takes a while for leaves to fully unfold, but even as the taste gets stronger as the leaves open it’s still a nice mild tea. Relaxing and easy to keep drinking. Also has a mild smell. Smooth tea, great for everyday.
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine
So yesterday, I cracked open the mosaic travel mug that I purchased months and months and months ago and never used. Today, I cracked open the variable temperature Breville teakettle that I bought months and months and months and months ago and never used.
You see a pattern developing here?
My Bodum teakettle has been on its last legs for a long while. Still, I liked it and was quite attached to it. It was simple and boiled enough water for one 12 ounce travel mug. No fancy settings, just boil and stop. Despite that, I got to be quite good at creating my own variable temperature controls by adding an appropriate amount of cold water to steep oolongs, greens, and rooibos to best effect.
Enter now the variable temperature kettle. Temperature controls are not all that as I had figured out how to do it my way and make it work. However, the four travel mug or more capacity is shaking my tea world up :)
I seem to have quite the collection of travel mugs and thermoses. I use them for cold steeps for refreshing post-exercise beverages. I carry and misplace them in various bags for various purposes I carry throughout my day. And I often use them at home, keeping one or two with me wherever I am and whatever I am doing, to warm up my cup to ideal drinking temperature.
Now with this new teakettle’s capacity, I am able to steep a lot of tea, and fast. So, I am able to fill one, two, three, four travel mugs in one go. This ease extends to enjoyment of oolongs as well.
So about the tea now. The first steep is fruity sweet, caramelized sweet potato, with a roast undertone. There is that some of Wuyi tangy bitterness, not bitter exactly but metallic vegetal earth. Hard to describe. The scent is a walk in the woods with stewing caramelized fruit wafting in the breeze. Magnificent.
The roast mineral aspect comes through with more force in subsequent steepings. The caramel sweetness of the longan wood carries through to about steep four and then begins to fade but is still present some eight steeps later.In the later steeps, a peach flavour emerged while the roastiness subsided. The tea was still giving, but at eight steeps I was pretty much done. I could have done a cold steep with the leaves to enjoy the peach flavours the next day. Quite exceptional.
The box says “buttery, savory, soothing.” That is absolutely the case.
Gaiwan brewed. Dry leaf smells just like good heavy cream! First steep has a delightfully smooth texture and sweet cream flavor with a little sweet fresh corn juiciness. Other milk oolongs I’ve tasted were a little heavy on the savory characters but this one has a perfect balance, the creaminess in later steepings not unlike fresh unsalted sweet cream butter. The first steep was all sweet cream with subtle honeysuckle notes, the second steep strengthening the floral notes and bringing a delightful crisp green character like cucumber peel and sweet peas, nicely balancing the cream without adding any bitterness. Later steeps find the sweet pea character staying strong with a very lightly oaty buttered green flavor lasting deep into a dozen steeps.
What a fantastic milk oolong!
Flavors: Butter, Corn Husk, Cream, Cucumber, Peas