Eco-Cha Artisan TeasEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
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
Light, creamy, sweet, and predominantly orchid/nectar flowers in my cup, this is a clearing and uplifting green oolong. The aroma tends to retain more of the milky creaminess than the actual taste, but there is definitely a nice milky texture for the first few steeps of this. There’s a slight bit of astringency as the tea goes on, but nothing major or off putting, it actually defines the slight corn silk and flower notes more clearly, I think. There are some nice throat coating feels and sweetness as well.
My takeaway: this is a nice non-flavored milk oolong with more fullness than most green oolongs I’ve tried. More flowery than I’m usually a fan of, but every now and again that’s quite nice.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Creamy, Honey, Nectar, Orchids, Sweet
When it comes to scented teas, some flowers translate into better flavor than others. I was excited to try this blend because I love the fragrance of gardenia and had never experienced it in tea form before.
I brewed 4g in a 120ml gaiwan using almost boiling water for 1 minute, adding 20s to each subsequent steep. In a heated gaiwan, the tea leaves have an alluring aroma of perfume and flowers. The taste is like jasmine and rose combined, sweet with notes of warm spice. It reminds me of a high grade jasmine green tea but lacks the clean and delicate taste of a real jasmine tea. It’s pleasant enough though not particularly remarkable. The heavenly, lustrous aroma of gardenia flowers unfortunately can’t be found in the taste.
Flavors: Flowers, Spices
I think I got this one from a reddit swap or sale. I used 5g in a 100mL gaiwan with 200F water. The dry leaf, which was comprised of larger than average little nuggets, had a nice and creamy “green” aroma. Once rinsed, I smelled notes of sugarcane and popcorn.
The first steep was vegetal with a bit of sweetness – it actually reminded me a bit of broccoli. After that, I got about seven steeps of creamy, milky, floral, sometimes sugarcane flavors. The tea had a nice thick texture to it, matching with the milky flavor. It also had a bit of a throaty feeling for a couple of those steeps. Less regularly, I got nectarine aftertaste and an occasional cucumber note. I gave it three more steeps after that, but those ones were pretty flat and dead. This one wasn’t as crisp as some High Mountain oolongs I’ve had, but it was still quite nice.
Flavors: Broccoli, Creamy, Cucumber, Floral, Green, Milk, Peach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Thick
Thankfully a friend sent some of this to me. ShanLinXi is my favorite type of oolong. All the feels. This one is a bit lighter in terms of thickness than some, it the size of the leaf and the feels are on point.
This is easily one that can sit in the cupboard for who cares how long or short and it will continue to brew nice. Quaility leaf with a smooth taste. Provides an enjoyable session with multiple infusions. I’ll need to try all of their SLX and see if one has the thickness and depth I want, even if this is solid… I’m getting more selective :)
I used a few more leaves this morning mid gong fu-western. First steep was 50 seconds, 2 min, 1 min so far. I still get the florals and the hyacinth, but now I get the sugar cane sweetness to it. Sugar cane is a weird note for me anyway. It’s sweet without crystals tracing into my stomach. I’d describe it more as a grassy, green sweetess-like the smell of sugar, or the air between sugar crystals in your mouth. Or how Vanilla is sweet without it being, well, straight sugar. Those are the more vivid descriptions brought to you by flowery approximate language.
Like the description says on the website, it’s more like fresh greens than anything else with a cleansing aftertaste. It still reminds me of a Tie Guan Yin. But getting that much out of 20 grams of tea for $2 is awesome.
Now it’s time for the teas demographic: a little description I haven’t included in a while. I would recommend this to a newer drinker as something to try just to know how complex, light, and subtle this tea varietal can be. In essence, it would be an educating tea to say “Jin Xuan’s can be flowery and light, but they taste like buttery fresh greens usually. This is a great example of it. Get more if you like it, or make only a few more stops with other teas if you don’t .”
As for more experienced drinkers, I would think this is more for someone who likes their oolongs, and their Jin Xuans light. Or someone who likes delicate teas. After going through MANY Jin Xuans, this is probably one of the better flavored ones. I am biased to the florals, which is another thing that might deter or welcome drinkers.
I’m curious if the winter crop is any creamier or sweeter, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is more floral overall.
Important note: it is a spring crop from 2016.