Eco-Cha Artisan TeasEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I have to say roasted oolongs are fantastic on rainy days.
- Dry, the tea smells to me of dark chocolate with fruit?
- First cup (okay, really more of a rinse) has a really light texture and dark, toasty flavor. It’s an interesting contrast.
- A couple cups in, the tea still feels really light and creamy but is pretty smoky and woodsy. I’m not a big fan of smoke + tea, but this is fairly mild. Tiny campfire in the woods, not a giant bonfire. Underneath the roast there’s a little sweetness I can’t quite place. Is it toffee? Is it apricot? I’ll have to think about it a bit more.
- The longer I drink it the more the smokiness mellows. The last cups I drank felt a bit more nutty and desert-like than at the start. Reminds me a lot of the Dong Ding Cui Yu oolong from a couple months ago, only more roasted.
It’s really a nice warm tea when it’s gloomy out. And could certainly last for several more cups.
Flavors: Apricot, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Smoke, Toffee, Wood
I was excited to see this one because I really liked the honey oolong Eco-Cha sent previously. Here, the honey is less strong, and balanced out by florals, which gives it a little more complexity, if making the overall effect a lot softer and less attention-grabbing. Will write more on this one next time I sit down to enjoy it, but note to self that I did, in fact, try this one.
Flavors: Flowers, Honey
I just found the first blueberries of the season at the market the other day, and to celebrate the beginning of my favorite season of produce, I went for this tea to go with my breakfast for its berry-like flavor…
I’ve made it before and found it to be fairly tart and fruity (definitely berries, probably raspberry), but not unpleasantly so. I’m not a huge fan of the tartness that can go with fruit flavor in tea, so this wasn’t initially one of my favorites. Experimented a little with leaf/water ratio and times in my little gaiwan and was a lot happier with it today! First couple steeps were nice and light, sort of sweet and spicy (or herbal? something warm to tone down the berry, but it keeps shifting on me) with a little bit of a floral aroma. Later cups had a lot more tart/berry, but still retained the other interesting qualities. It’s nice, kind of like a trip to the farmer’s market in summer or a fresh pie. I guess this tea’s growing on me.
Flavors: Floral, Herbs, Raspberry, Spices, Sweet, Tart
I’m slowly and regretfully drinking down my old tea club boxes. This is the first unroasted Wuyi varietal oolong I’ve had, and it seems to be very unusual, especially for something grown in Taiwan. It’s also an heirloom strain with a unique flavour profile, as borne out in this review. I steeped 6 g of tea in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
Prior to the first steep, the dry leaf smells like orchids, herbs, veggies, and cookies. The first steep has notes of orchids, peonies, spinach, herbs, and zucchini, and is not as sweet as the dry aroma promises. The mouthfeel and aftertaste are quite drying. The second steep has more vegetal sweetness, kind of like squash or bok choy. It’s an odd combination with all the florals.
The third and fourth steeps are less sweet and floral and more herbaceous, with some hints of coriander. The aftertaste is almost like a green tea. This green tea feeling continues in the next few steeps, with notes of spinach, squash, and bok choy predominating. The final steeps are almost entirely vegetal.
This tea starts off as a floral and herbaceous oolong, but quickly becomes vegetal and green tea-like. It’s unusual for sure, and while it’s fragrant and intriguing, there are too many veggies for me to love it. It’ll be interesting to compare it with the roasted version that’s also in my cupboard.
Flavors: Bok Choy, Cookie, Coriander, Drying, Floral, Herbaceous, Orchids, Spinach, Vegetal, Zucchini
Yesterday’s at-work tea, just the right amount of green for my tastes. It’s nicely balanced with the sweet cream/butter and floral and just a little bit of a savory green edge. I can’t quite decide which direction the greenness leans – the description says “vegetal/straw aroma,” or “savory scone,” but I’m not quite sure it falls neatly into any particular flavor for me. Whatever it is, it makes a good tea for work; it’s interesting enough to entice me to make another cup, but not distractingly complex. I’m glad I got to try this one in the tea club, as it’s probably not something I would have thought to pick up on my own.
Flavors: Cream, Dry Grass, Floral, Green, Vegetal
January 2019 Club Batch #38, and it’s one of my favorites so far. The tea resembles their staple Shan Lin Xi, but more creamy and savory. The leaves are huge, and can handle long brews. One of the sessions on the blog had an initial rinse of 50 seconds for the first steep, and I’ve found that 3 grams is great for grandpa in a tumbler because this tea is smooth.
Their descriptors were vegetal, creamy, floral, with hints of a savory scone. This is on the savory end of oolongs, but has enough florals to keep it sweet and a creamy profile not dissimilar to macademia milk. The florals are noticeable, but generalized in the creaminess. I’d honestly miss them if I don’t pay attention. I get a faint hit of hyacinth, but more prominent violet flavor, honeysuckle hints, more pronounced vanilla, iris, a tiny bit of osmanthus, and a floral that reminds me of the aftertaste of a blossom tea. Again, they are otherwise negligible in the teas milkiness.The rest of the tea has a smooth butter note and yields an oily body, and the herby vegetals are fresh and prominent, but they do not smack you in the face with spinach or vegetables. I’m not getting fruit notes yet, but I can maybe see some in the future. This tea is otherwise vegetal done right. Thank heavens for the more mature oxidation. I’ll write more about it in the future.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Herbs, Milk, Nuts, Olive Oil, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet
I’m undecided about this one. It’s very woodsy, tangy, heady, and fruity. Sap, plumeria, figs, and mangoes are the notes I keep getting. The combo has been overwhelming so far. It also has the boldness of a black, but the florals and lighter body of an oolong…although it’s super thick and malty. So far, it’s a little bit too sweet for me. Further examination is needed.
I swore I wrote more about this. Anyway, it’s gained traction as one of my best teas, especially for work. Notes are nutty, earthy, and smoothly roasted with a mega buttery profile and texture amidst some char and roasted goodness. There was a little potatoe, some cocoa, perhaps maple, and definite hazelnut and chestnut notes. This was so good and so forgiving to steep. I highly recommend going to the rare teas page and picking some of this up.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Butternut Squash, Butterscotch, Char, Chestnut, Coffee, Hazelnut, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Smooth, Sweet, Thick
This is a nice one. They used nutty and peaty on the descriptor card, and those notes are accurate. It is smoky, earthy, and it does develop a little bit of a stone fruit note in the third brew gong fu, but it is incredibly smooth and very easy to drink. There were times that it reminded me of a smooth yancha. I liked their main Dong Ding on the website a little bit better because it is more caramelized, but this one is so easy to drink western, grandpa, or gong fu. This is earthy roast at its best.
I’m so close to giving this one a hundred because it is doing insanely well with the cold. Melon pressed sweetness accented by viscous notes of violet, chard, nutmeg, and just a bare hint of toastiness akin to fresh scones. In short, the same tea with the same notes, but better this cold fall day by combining the green floral notes amidst the savory ones.
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.
I swear, Gaoshan’s are always the fruitiest at the bottom of their bag. Today was a sipdown of this treasure, and I am a little sad that it is gone. Pronounced sweet notes of melon, lime, honeysuckle, blossoms, and lilac, almost akin to Skittles….I’m tasting the rainbow. Or, I’m just tasting a special tea. It is a shame that the production of these has slowed down. I might get some more Da Yu Ling in general before the bell tolls in the next few years…unless something else happens. This slowly grew into a charitable favorite from the club. I’ve actually drank my Eco Cha club teas daily, to think of it. I’m still waiting on the Fo Shou….it is taking way too long to arrive considering my subscription is about to renew.
…I just got it today.
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