Eco-Cha Artisan TeasEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
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
This was one of those teas that smelled amazing but the taste didn’t match the aroma. The plump dark green nuggets have the fragrance of creamy vanilla orchids. Following a rinse, there’s a sweet aroma of custard, coconut, and wildflowers. Sadly, none of the aromas come through in the flavor of the brewed tea.
The first steep is thin and vegetal. Sweet buttered peas with floral undertones. The florals become a bit brighter in the 2nd and 3rd steeps but the flavor is still mostly vegetal and there’s just very little to it. No mouthfeel to speak of and it tasted weak, making me think that I underbrewed. Overleafing and increasing steep time and temperature did little to improve the flavor.
I would describe the flavor of this tea as closer to a green tea or four seasons spring. Not a bad tasting tea, but very light and not as good as other AliShans I’ve had.
Flavors: Cream, Custard, Floral, Peas, Vegetal
Fascinating material. Slightly looser than average balling on the leaf. About ⅘ of the leaf material looks heavily oxidized: dark-matte black, with just a hint of shine. The slight shine could be due to a very slight roast. The remaining ⅕ of the leaf material is green. Not jade green, mind you. Rather, the material is a matt green/yellow. This contrast of heavily oxidized, with comparatively green leaf, is really fascinating. It’s the first time I can recall seeing a wulong processed this way. Dry leaf gives off a very mild, roasted aroma. Steamed aroma is a typical roasted smell, with a hint of wood.
Brewed aroma is very faint. Some bakers spice, and a continuation of the woodsy roasted note. I must say, the leaves brew up in an absolutely gorgeous manner. The contrast of muted green and brown remind me of observing a forest. Tea liquor is a crystal clear, light gold. It has the look of a great depth. First sip reminds me of rum raisin. It’s got this slightly alcoholic, cinnamon, sweet raisin thing going on. Towards the back of the mouth, I get a slightly tannic sensation/taste. This tannic note provides a nice contrast to the comparatively higher notes I mentioned previously. Finish is long, with the tannic note starting to slowly dominate the palate. The tea liquor is thick. This is one of the few teas that I would call meaty. It’s worth mentioning, that this is a high energy tea. I feel more than a bit spacey.
With the second brew, I start seeing even more hongshui character. Tea liquor is a golden red. Taste remains relatively stable. Only noticeable change is an increase in Taiwanese red tea character. IE tannic sensation, slight bitterness, menthol like sensation in the throat.
Third brew changes things up again. The golden color of the first steep is only present in the top ¼ of the liquor now. The rest is a nectarine red. Interestingly enough, the aroma has gone in the opposite direction. It’s gotten very floral. In a way that reminds me of an unroasted jin xuan. Taste is moving towards the darker notes. There is some remaining alcoholic cinnamon, but it’s almost entirely in the finish now. A strong, dark chocolate note has taken over. Bitter like cocoa nibs. Beneath that is a lingering woodiness, and raisin tartness. A tannic sensation can be found in the back of the mouth.
It’s worth noting, that my head is entirely in the clouds right now. I feel a strong “lifted” sensation in my facial muscles. It’s euphoric in nature.
Fourth brew doesn’t evolve any. Which is okay. I’m enjoying everything this tea is doing, so I’m okay with it staying on its current path.
Fifth brew is somewhat lighter. Liquor looks like it’s transitioning towards the gold of the first brew. The ratios are now inversed. Now it’s ⅘ golden, ⅕ red. Aroma is very sweet, and mildly malty. Taste is also very sweet now. Almost all the bitterness is gone, and just a hint of tannic sensation remains buried in the finish. I’m a bit conflicted with this development. It is a smoother tea now, but that’s because it’s lost a lot of its complexity.
I predict the tea will continue to taper off from here. It might not have longevity, but this tea does show a lot of evolution of color, flavors, and aroma.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Menthol, Raisins, Rum, Tannic
Eyeballed this one, maybe about 5-6g to a 100ml, boiling water and a rinse to preheat.
I’ve tried only one hong shui style oolong other than this one, and so far I have to say I am an avid fan of this style of tea! This particular tea was intensely sweet at the start, but underlaid with a rich, complex soup that reminded me of tomato broth. The first sip fills the chest with a steamy aroma when I inhale after drinking and continued drinking coats the throat strongly, leaving a long lingering feeling and warmth in addition to sweetness,. The color is a beautiful, rose gold tinged copper.
The other hong shui I tried was less sweet and more intensely thick and tomato-ey, but this is also quite good and I find myself drawn to the depth of this tea, which resteeps remarkably well as I got at least eleven steeps out of one session, although the first three steeps are my favorite.
Flavors: Broth, Fruity, Mineral, Sugar, Sweet
I have to admit, this tea smelled and tasted a bit off-putting to me when I first brewed it. Maybe it was the unfamiliar roasted nuttiness in an oolong that seemed strange to me? But the more sips I took, it really, really started to grow on me. It is truly unique and sweet and smokey and nutty, and I ended up really enjoying it.
Ah, this is such a great daily drinker, and exactly why I love oolong tea so much. It’s green and vegetal, with a perfect level of floral notes without being sickeningly perfume-y. It’s a crisp and uplifing tea.
Flavors: Floral, Green, Sweet, warm grass, Vegetal
I’ve had this sample sitting around for a quite a while and no longer remember whose stash I acquired it from. I need to start making note of that.
Anyhow, poured the whole sample into my gaiwan, which ended up being just about 9 grams. Did a quick wash and let the leaves sit while I refilled and heated the kettle before the first steep.
Light gold liquor, light and sweet in flavor, with the characteristic creaminess coming through more in the second steep. Light florals start to push through in steep three.
All in all, this was a good one!
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Sweet