Floating LeavesEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I was excited to see this tea in my package from Daylon. I can’t remember whether I didn’t get it last year because I’ve had mixed experiences with milk oolongs or because it was out of stock, but either way, I’m happy to try it. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain pot using 195F water for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some long, uncounted steeps.
The name is promising and so is the aroma: violets, honeysuckle, milk, and other florals. The first steep is subtly milky and pleasantly floral, with honeysuckle, lilac, violet, and maybe some gardenia. I get a buttery honey note in the next steep, along with grass and that floral bouquet. I notice honey, milk, florals, grass, nuts, and whispers of roast in the next couple steeps. This tea has a thick body and is easy to chug. The next few steeps are very floral, with lilac and honeysuckle predominating, with milk, honey, nuts, and very light roast providing a balance. The nuts and roast get stronger near the end of the session, though they never become too sour or aggressive.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this tea. The roast was just enough to get rid of the grassiness I often find in milk oolongs, and the florals and honey were lovely. I didn’t detect any fruit, but the flavours that were there made up for it. I particularly appreciated the ethereal violet florals in the first couple steeps.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lilac, Milk, Nuts, Roasted, Thick, Violet
Peanut M&Ms: roasted peanuts, darkly toasted peanut skins, milk chocolate.
I’m perfectly content to drink this, but I’m a little shocked at how underwhelmed I am by it. It’s solid and feels good, just not my bullseye cuppa. I will, also, always have my heart’s eye trained squarely on FL’s Lala Shan Hongshui. Guh guh guh guh. Not all Hongshuis, turns out!
Flavors: Milk Chocolate, Peanut, Roasted Nuts, Roasty
I’ve eyed this one for a while, and decided to gert 30 grams of this. I contemplated getting 60, but it would have been 14 bucks more, and I’m trying to be more frugal right now….meaning I’ve already spent more money on other stuff. Instagram got the better of me, and I bought a Matcha preworkout that’s extremely tasty along with a variety pack from a Canadian company called Gogonuts with boba milk tea flavored whey protein packs that are insanely good. Many of the bases of the powder have tea in them.
Back to this one! It’s exactly as Shiuwen described, and super easy going and forgiving Jin Xuan with the best combo of florals and mouthfeel. There’s a light roast to this one that you can’t really taste, but it gives off a very nutty and cookie like aroma in the dryleaf. Tasting it, it’s vaguely nutty like a macadamia and high in the buttered milk notes. The honey is there more like honeysuckle, and the teas florals lean more in a purple direction of the flower category, bordering between plumeria and hyacinth in hints, and violet later on.
I’ve only had it western in a mug and in longer steeps gong fu with my Manual Tea Brewer (Spirit Branded Gaiwan) 20 sec rinse, 35 sec, 45 sec, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, then essentially grandpa. I got more nutty tones western style after about 3 minutes and 15 seconds. Gong fu, there were more floral qualities and more viscousity.
I felt like it stood up even to my flavored oolongs, and a lot the Jin Xuans I’ve had lately are up to par with some of the higher mountain stuff. This teas only down side is the lack of longevity for 3-4 grams. I went lighter so I can share more with Leafhopper, though I have a strong feeling that this would do really well in the 7 gram serving territory gong fu. I preferred Western ever so slightly because I got more nutty and savory qualities with the sweeter florals that way. I’d definitely recommend this one in a green oolong rotation for sure, and what’s unique about it is how balanced in smooth it is. This is the oolong that you’d expect to taste through the way companies try to sell Milk Oolong in the first place, and like Shiuwen, it’s got all the qualities I look for in my oolongs too. Easily a tea I’d place between a 85-92% rating.
Flavors: Floral, Green, Honeysuckle, Lilac, Macadamia, Milk, Milky, Nutty, Smooth, Violet, Viscous
I opened this box of adventures-to-come from derk and about went catatonic with indecision. I finally snapped out of it and — having just tried Mountain Stream’s Wintergreen White Ruby — decided I’d start by pulling a couple of gifted 18s and splashing around in some ruby puddles this afternoon.
The steaming leaves already have me off and running to understand wintergreen… they smell like those pink chalky candies and Euthymol toothpaste. I’ve always been quite drawn to this flavor, so I’m stoked. Also a bit medicinal/herbal. Celery became the prominent scent after several steeps.
For the nerds: wintergreen is an essential oil from the Gualtheria procumbens plant; the specific compound that creates the smell is methyl salicylate. Wintergreen is not a true mint. The sassafras descriptors in others’ notes make sense, as wintergreen is the oil most often used in root beer these days (sassafras itself got outlawed, so we replaced it). Anyway.
Pours a reddish caramel, and the liquor first and foremost smells like wet dog — persistent through all steeps. Also red fruit, and a spearminty scent that isn’t quite wintergreen.
Middling weight in the mouth — not light or full. Cooling taste and big ol’ wintergreen, dried red raspberry, lightly tannic and crisp. Sweet, but a light fruity sweetness that doesn’t read caramel/molasses/honey to me… distinctly herbal, which is probably the wintergreen but feels like it could lean toward fresh fennel… a touch of toastiness toward the final steeps.
I stopped around eight steeps — the last two sat quite a long time and, though the character was still pleasant and the mouthfeel good, the tannins started vying for too much attention. I cut ‘em off. I’m really enjoying the Ruby 18 cultivar (aka Sun Moon Lake!). Thank you, derk <3
Flavors: Crisp, Fennel, Fruity, Herbal, Medicinal, Raspberry, Red Fruits, Spearmint, Tannic, Wet Dog, Wintergreen
A winter oolong sipped down during one of Steepster’s winters…
I finally prepared this in a tiny teapot to experience a greater range of aromas and flavors.
The scent of the dry and warmed leaf is a treat! Take your time with it.
First steep is young grass with slatey minerality and a full body. Second steep on is plenty of lily of the valley, young grass and milder minerality with many shy nuances. Light and silky body with some gentle tannins. Perfumey floral aftertaste transitions to squeaky-grassy tulip. I notice the bottom of the cup smells like sugared cherry blossoms. The overall feeling reminds me more of a spring harvest than winter. A pleasant send off :)
Flavors: Cherry Blossom, Cream, Egg, Flowers, Gardenias, Grass, Kale, Lily, Macadamia, Mineral, Mung Bean, Perfume, Pineapple, Silky, Spinach, Sugar, Sweet Corn, Tannin
Not counting Baozhong, this is the only green oolong I picked up in my big Black Friday Floating Leaves haul. How will it compare to their good but not amazing spring 2021 Shan Lin Xi? I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain pot using 195F water for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, 180, and 240 seconds, plus some uncounted final rounds.
The aroma of the dry leaves is of orchid, sweet pea, pineapple, green apple, honeysuckle, pine, and spinach. The first steep has notes of orchid, sweet pea, sweetgrass, butter, citrus, pineapple, and green apple. The next steep is more herbaceous and vegetal, with that sweet candied pineapple I found in the first steep. Steeps three and four add minerals, pine, and honeysuckle florals, and remind me of grassy cotton candy in a good way. Sweet florals, minerals, and pineapple persist over the next few steeps. The session has a predictably vegetal and grassy ending, though the florals have lots of staying power.
I’d say this is a step up from their 2021 offering, both in terms of longevity and taste. Oolongs with pineapple notes always make me happy, and I finished this one quickly.
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Cotton Candy, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Orchid, Pine, Pineapple, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
Spring 2022 harvest
Not wanting to brew this in glass or porcelain, I decided to use a clay pot normally used for sheng pu’er only. The tea turned out very well. Maybe the clay softened some tannins that Leafhopper experienced.
Complex aroma hangs close to the cup, vacillating quickly and quietly between fleshy geranium and marshmallow and other niceties.
Taste is savory, crisp and clear, juicy and bright, dark earthy tone.
Wintergreen and sarsaparilla, dried cherries, malt, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, cedarwood.
The third steep got away from me. When I came back to pour, the tea did not nip at me. I took it for another 4 or 5 pours after that.
I’ve had a Ruby 18 like this before and greatly appreciate this one’s flavor profile today.
Flavors: Bright, Cedar, Cherry, Crisp, Dried Fruit, Earthy, Forest Floor, Geranium, Juicy, Malt, Marshmallow, Olives, Sarsaparilla, Savory, Tangy, Tomato, Wintergreen
This is my third Ruby 18 in the past few months. The one from What-Cha was so good that I now consider picking up samples of other Red Jades, even though this is a tea type I often find too tannic and astringent. This version is from the 2022 harvest. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of sweet potato, caramel, malt, menthol, sassafras, and tomato vine. The first steep has notes of sweet potato, raisin, menthol, sassafras, malt, tomato vine, and brown sugar. The tea is a bit drying and already has some astringency. The next steep has even more raisin, sweet potato, and menthol notes, with tannins, malt, caramel, cream, sassafras, and wood in the background. Steeps three and four emphasize menthol, sweet potato, earth, raisins, and caramel, with increasing levels of tannins and a hint of something floral that I can’t name. More malt, tannins, and raisins appear in the next few steeps, though the tea is still quite sweet in spite of its astringency. The sweet potato persists into the end of the session, though the tea also becomes more tannic, earthy, woody, and mineral.
A solid Ruby 18, this tea nonetheless falls short compared to my beloved What-Cha version due to its higher levels of astringency and less complex palate. However, I liked the sweet potato and caramel, and this is a nice example of the type. I’m now completely out of Ruby 18 and I’m not sure if I mind. I think I like Shan Cha and Taiwanese high mountain black teas more than Ruby 18, in spite of its intriguing sassafras/menthol elements. Aside from the What-Cha version, it’s just too tannic for me to really enjoy.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cream, Drying, Earth, Floral, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Raisins, Sarsaparilla, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin, Tomato, Wood
7.2 G tea leaves
oolong-seasoned yixing white jade teapot
I rinsed this tea in near boiling water for 5-10 seconds and steeped for 30 seconds to start.
My first brew was light colored which reflected the amount of flavor imparted initially. Notes for the first brew are marshmallow cream and syrupy with vaguely vegetal aftertaste. I’ve been sick for some time so my tastebuds may not pick up nuanced flavors as well.I’d enjoy a richer flavor so I reduced the volume of water to 110 and increased steep time to 45 seconds. The broth was marginally deeper colored, still a mix of faint gold and light lemon. this time, notes of stone and minerals gently wafted on the nose. if i searched hard enough, i might have detected a trace of kiwi. the taste presented an unexpected experience of what i can only describe as rain or even a thunderstorm — perhaps due to a limestone undertone. maybe thats why they call it smooth water?
Flavors: Kiwi, Limestone, Marshmallow, Spring Water
What an amazing tea! I love high mountain oolongs and Floating Leaves has many great options, but I hadn’t been such a big fan of baozhongs because they are usually a little too light/mild for me. This one is not! At its apex, it has a rich honeydew melon-like sweetness and a pleasant bitterness that is distinct from the higher elevation oolongs like Lishan. It tastes much greener, as well. I brewed it gong fu in a ~140 ml yixing-style clay pot with ~96C water for 30 seconds each infusion. The first 2 infusions were very floral and not all that rich, but by the third infusion it had opened up a lot! Significant body high feeling, as well. Brews strong for easily 6+ infusions, increasing time slightly after infusion 4.
Flavors: Butterscotch, Cut Grass, Floral, Honeydew, Tannin
As I enjoy Floating Leaves oolongs thought I’d try one of their black teas.
I expect Keemun/Qimen leaves to be tiny having purchased previously from a different source, but I was taken back by the coffee grind size of these leaves. As it is really bitty I am using a filter when pouring from a small Nixing teapot to cup. So far I am not a fan but I don’t want to waste tea.
If anyone else has had this tea recently perhaps they’d share their method of brewing and tasting notes.
Edit: A small porcelain teapot worked well so I had a few sessions with this tea.
Perhaps it is just this particular production but I found it to be very sour.
An interesting tea that can be quite tasty, but is easily overbrewed, drawing a strong artichoke and chrysanthemum flavor that is a bit odd, but not entirely bad. It’s a long-lasting tea with a silky mouthfeel that’s well rounded in sweetness and tannin, but the artichoke flavor makes this more of a novelty that’s interesting to try rather than a tea I would love to sip on all day.
Flavors: Apricot, Artichoke, Caramel, Tannic, Wet Wood
Great value tea from FLT. Not an overly complex oolong, but very enjoyable regardless. Aroma and flavor are both mostly roasted nuts, coffee, and a strong caramel-sweet finish. This one does a good job of toeing the line – it tastes pretty heavily roasted, but isn’t sour or dominated completely by roasty notes. Texture is smooth and full throughout the session as well. Really pleasant daily drinker type of tea.
I didn’t bother measuring; just covered the bottom of 60ml gaiwan and went from there. Ripe plums and strawberries on the nose meld with bittersweet dark chocolate on the tongue. Fills the mouth and finishes long. No astringency; instead produces a slight salivatory effect. Well processed and medium roasted, flavors harmonize on the palate. Massive, pleasingly plump leaves after steeps six or seven.
Flavors: Cacao, Dark Chocolate, Plum, Roasted, Smooth, Strawberry
For reference, I used the following steep times (gongfu brewing): 10 s wash, 10s, 15s, 20, 30s, 45s, 4-5 one min steeps, and a final 3 min steep.
The dry leaves smell chocolatey and sweet. Once awakened, they take on a malty, yet almost fruity scent that causes some salivation.
The first few infusions are smooth, yet heavy and thick in the throat. The liquor is a deep reddish gold. The tea has structure and body, leading with sweet, honey-like notes that give way to a malty aftertaste.
Towards the final infusions, the heaviness of the tea seems replaced with creamier notes that linger in the back of the throat. The tea is fruitier — perhaps reminiscent of dried cranberries? Some astringency can be tasted. Overall, a stronger tea that can be taken with food as its flavor is not dampened easily.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Cranberry, Fruity, Honey, Malt
Late Night Session
I have had this tea in my stash since last December from a Secret Santa gift exchange/tea swap. I have reorganized my stash to start drinking the older teas first, rather than breaking into the “newer” stuff. I figured that with my new system in 2018, I might as well start with the old and work my way to the “new.”
This was from a swap/tea exchange from 2016 (thank you again, Matu); which I’m currently finished drinking/sampling/sipping. This tea is the last of the stash! :)
Rinse/1st Steep: Buttery, crispy, & fruity.
2nd Steep: Creamier/milkier, buttery, & refreshing.
3rd Steep: Creamy & fruity
And the notes end there.
I received a free sample of this one with my last FLT order. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too impressed by it. I did two sessions. In the first one, the flavor had a bit of an unpleasant sour characteristic to it, though that was likely not helped by the fact that I overleafed it a bit. I kept steep times down, so I wouldn’t have expected it to impact the flavor to that level, but it definitely could have been user error.
On the second session, I got more of what i would expect from a DHP. It was smooth and mineral-y, with a slight bit of fruit distantly detectable in the aftertaste. On this session, though, the flavor was very light – even when I steeped it rather hard – and the tea did not have very impressive longevity.
Certainly possible I just didn’t brew this well, as I’ve come to expect pretty good teas from FLT, but this one was not a particularly good one for me.
Flavors: Mineral, Roasted
Backlog April 30th -
So this note is actually for the 2016 Spring Tea.
6g/100ml gaiwan, 200F – smells buttery
rinse – floral, faint sweetness. I let it sit here a minute for the leaves to start to open.
15s – slightly sweet, soft florals, delicate taste, not sweet like sugar, but honeysuckle or clover
25s – pushed it more timewise and it turned vegetal and buttery
I dropped back to 15s and it returned to floral sweetness but was still pretty faint. I did a couple of more steeps at 15s. It’s a pretty delicate tea and I feel the need to play around with the temperature so more to see if there is a sweet spot. It’s not as nearly strongly flavored as I expected given the tea style versus the other two I’ve had.
It’s got staying power since I’m 5 or 6 steeps in but the flavor’s are delicate.
I tried raising the temperature to boiling just to see what it’d do, but the flavors are not significantly different. I need to play with this some more.
Flavors: Floral, Honeysuckle, Sweet
Backlog – April 30th
5.5g/100ml gaiwan 200F (most likely)
dry leaf – hint of roast, minerally, pretty big leaves
rinsed – smooth, roast is mild and not overpowering
10s – roasted wet rocks (?) seriously though, smooth, slightly roasted, minerally
20, 25, 30, 45, ?, flavor profile doesn’t change. The roast lingers in my moth. I think that this is a good tea that’s a little more roasted than I prefer. Though it is quite mellow.
Flavors: Mineral, Roasted, Smooth, Wet Rocks
I’ve been meaning to try Ruby 18 for some time and finally ordered this one from Floating Leaves.
The tea has a strong note of sweet potato which I really like and a thick somewhat malty mouth feel.
The cooling sensation was just the ticket as I burnt my tongue last night on hot soup.
It is an interesting tea, I will look for other samples of Ruby 18 to experience the differences.