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Recent Tasting Notes
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, Plums, 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.
Prep: 100cc gaiwan, 4-8g, boiling water. Have steeped short — like 10s increasing by 10 — or long — starting with 45s and increasing by 30.
Sessions with this tea: 6
Taste: Dates, raisins, sour dark fruit and some mustiness.
Body: Mouth puckering when you let the sour brew out in longer steeps. Pretty thick mouthfeel. Energy sits deep in my chest or upper abdomen and radiates slow waves of soothing.
This is A material. The body is great, the flavor is great. If you haven’t had a rich aged oolong and experienced the dark fruit sensation, then this is a good choice. There is just this tiny unpleasant musty note which transiently wafts into some steeps then disappears again, seeming randomly. If not for this note, would be A+. I’ve sampled this before and decided to buy a larger quantity, and I’m glad I did. This tea is fantastic for winding down a day or opening up a calm morning — the energy is just amazing.
Edit: the sour note is unpleasant if you let the tea cool down. This tempers my opinion somewhat, but needless to say drink this one hot.
Last week I went to an interview for a promotion. Didn’t think I’d get it because I was up against people who have been there for 10 years, but.. my skillset and ambition were seen by the three people who interviewed me and I got the promotion!
Really excited about getting to a position that I’ll be in with only 10 months at my company. Next step is training and then a presentation for my MBA; which they pay 100% of admission!
Anyways, I pulled out this tea with my bestfriend over. We started it up and it was like a melted old candy bar. Pretty smooth, some nutty and chocolate tones underneath the interesting caramel notes. Not the pleasant type of sugary drink, but that ‘oh this is interesting’ type of drink. Good, but if you don’t know what you’re drinking it can be very confusing as I tried to experience it with my best friend who doesn’t drink aged oolong at all. The end notes came through quite salty which let me know it was dying out.
A decent amount of infusions off of this. I think the quality of the leaf wasn’t that great which is why it was aged and all; one can tell by the shape, size, and tearing of the leaf as it brews out. Would love to find a larger leaf Muzha that was aged because those tight curls over time could retain some stronger notes which I also want to find with an aged dongding or shanlinxi.
Prep: 100cc gaiwan, covered the bottom with leaf, had to take some out of my gaiwan when it expanded and overflowed one session. Tried boiling water and 190F water both.
Sessions with this tea: 5
Taste: Onions are the king of vegetables. This is soup made with celery and onion and maybe some sweetness of carrot. The thing is vegetal throughout, and is one of the most “soup” tasting teas I’ve ever had. It’s savory and buttery and I might drink it to compliment a meat dish. There was a tiny slice of lemon or maybe a bay leaf added as an afterthought, which imparts a glimpse of citrus. The aroma has some floral fragrance to it, but the taste had none of that. This is a hearty affair throughout. It maintained the flavor very well too, without too much evolution, and only faded after a long session.
Body: Holy moly, bring a spoon. This is thick and amazing feeling in how it coats your mouth. When steeped with boiling water this was very pleasant. Very light, airy energy from this tea.
Summary: I think this is a tea for people who do not enjoy the floral/fragrance end of the oolong spectrum. It’s not really roasty either, but is vegetal and savory and buttery to me. I probably will not buy this again, but I think there is a subset of the drinking population who would love this tea, as it is probably the boldest tea of that particular corner of the flavor spectrum which I have had.
Prep: 60 or 100cc gaiwan, 4-8g, boiling water, start at 5, (10, 15, 20, 30, etc)
Sessions with this tea: 10+
Taste: Boom big caramel to start. Yes sweet potato comes into the picture, as well as some anise. The menthol starts really early and is very cooling and very good. After steep 4 or so the caramel drops out and it turns into a kinda incensy woody sweetness with anise, still with some potato note. Only the late steeps lose the potato note and give a hearty, woody, pine/cedar flavor.
Body: Very thick mouthfeel, slurpy good. Mild, calming energy. The cooling/menthol sensation starts early and gets really intense through the middle steepings. This also retains its body and steeps out a lot longer than I expected for a black tea.
Extremely enjoyable. I continue to love floating leaves offerings. I’m glad I bought a larger quantity of this and look forward to continued enjoyment.
Brewed gong fu style, 4g leaf to 100ml water for about 20s.
Color is a lovely light pale green. Wet leaves smell wonderfully vegetal.
Flavour is a good rich green tea flavour – vegetal and a rich brothiness with slight sweetness and some very slight spicy notes and a very slight nuttiness
Mouthfeel is rich and full with no astringency at all.
Spice flavours start appearing more on the second infusion, and mouthfeel is less full.
Astringency is appearing, but isn’t overwhelming.
Prep: usually 100cc gaiwan, enough leaf to cover the bottom, 190F or boiling water. I give it a long rinse steep plus 5 minutes of sitting with the lid on to allow the leaves to open. Then usually something like 10s, 30s, 30s, 40s, 40s, 60s, 60s, then add time as necessary to chase flavor. I have tried flashing/shorter steeps, and I have tried much much longer steeps as well, but I like this method ok.
Sessions with this tea: 6
Taste: Starts out mildly floral sweet, a vegetal note comes into later steeps. Has a very “open” feel to it. Longer steeps brought out more sweetness, shorter/hotter brought out more veg.
Body: Very thick mouthfeel, slurpy good. Mild, calming energy. Good for early morning I think.
Very enjoyable. I continue to love floating leaves offerings.
Here’s Hoping TTB
There was just enough for a tasting of this one left. I’m still trying to branch out from typical flavored blacks and this one was interesting to say the least. It’s very savory, with heavy sweet potato notes. I’ll have to hunt down some more samples of Ruby 18 – this one intrigued me.
Flavors: Sweet Potatoes
This is the most mint cooling Ruby 18 I’ve had so far. The cooling sensation starts early on, going with a mellow, fruity, woodsy and sweet flavor. This tea has an excellent thick body too.
A ruby 18 for someone who wants all the texture and feels!
Full Review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/pacific-northwest-taiwanese-black-tea-comparison/
Trying this again this afternoon after a very unfair first tasting yesterday where I had it the day after trying an exquisite 3x charcoal roasted dong ding and immediately after trying out a roasted gui fei mei ren (both also from Floating Leaves and appropriately priced more expensively than this modest $4/oz purchase).
While thinner and without the depth and complexity of either of the previous two teas I just mentioned, this is quite the drinkably affordable tea and pleasant enough on its own merits. The roast does not overpower and adds an extra element and nice aroma to the base, which has a nice returning bit of sugar sweetness on the end of a sip.
The tea is a lovely burnished orange color and has a light character, flavor, and sweetness that I would describe as almost cute under that roast. Doesn’t have much longevity (I stopped at about 4-5 steeps as it begins tasting mainly like roast at that point), but for the price point, that’s not surprising. Decent enough, but given the choice, I would pay the extra and spring for their gui fei (closer to $8/oz) to get that extra depth, warmth, and body.
Flavors: Caramel, Grass, Roasted, Sugarcane
I know that I’ve written a note on this before. Anyway Backlog.
I pretty much got the same thing that Amanda did in a less vivid form. This was a complex tea that yielded mutliple steeps with a distinct floral profile of gardenia and plumeria, followed by a growingly savory and buttery body. It had very thick vegetals under the butters with a lemon and pineapple aftertaste. The first sip was the sweetest, crispist, and lightest.
I was actually surprised that this one was almost my favorite of the bunch. It is very similar to the Shan Lin Xi, but Shan Lin Xi did not have the same balance of the same notes. Shan Lin Xi had a bit more fruits veggies and light florals, whereas the florals here were thicker. They were equally buttery to me, and the butters of the Shan Lin Xi sometimes overwhelmed me. This had enough florals to balance it out.
Also, sip down, and I can barely taste it. Grrr.
Mine is Spring 2016 and it is quite pleasant, but I enjoy a green dong ding no matter what.
I used a generous amount of leaves that someone could guess at 6 grams, and doing it gong fu. Steep one was at 45 sec which was a bit of a over brew, but not too bad. I got a brothy vegetal body with a nutty and somewhat lemon-custard like after taste. I could have mistaken it for a fancier green tea if I did not know what it was…though one could argue that for jade oolongs. Just a slight difference in fermentation and elaborate processing is all.
Second more floral and brothy, but that’s it. Needs a cool down.
To make things simple, or more complicated, I’m going to back log what I already thought about the tea. It was more savory than floral most times, but the florals were strong when they would pop up in gradual fluxes. The thicker green notes occasionally out-buttered the florals and hiding fruity qualities. I would recommend it to people who like Dragon Well or those looking for a good Dong Ding to try. My personal criticism was how easily the taste changed with temperature and brewing, easily changing from nutty to brothy with the softer notes in flux. The only other criticism was the price, but hey, I can be a cheapo sometimes.
I did something today that I rarely do, I spent several hours doing nothing. Even though I am disabled and really should spend more time relaxing, I can’t, I always have to be busy doing something even if that something is studying, painting, or just keeping my mind busy…I have never been one to just sit and watch TV, I am the type person who watches TV while also doing other stuff. Lately though I have been feeling pretty icky and really didn’t want to deal with another fibro flair, so I just laid in bed and relaxed. I napped off and on, snuggled the cat, and napped some more. It was surprisingly therapeutic, my pain is not diminished, but for the first time in days I don’t feel exhausted.
And so, with it being Friday, that means it is the last day of the Floating Leaves High Mountain Oolong Sampler adventure finishing it off with the 2016 Spring ShanLinXi High Mountain Oolong, ah ShanLinXi, you guessed it, another Oolong I love. What can I say, I drink a LOT of Oolong, my stash of it and Hong Chas are the biggest in my tea collection for a reason. A lot of my experience with this wonderful tea has been the harvest later in the year, so it is good to see the contrast between spring and autumn. From the first sniff I could tell this was a ShanLinXi, it has that to me iconic crisp alpine air, that blends morning fog, cedar leaves, and mineral notes. Alongside this mountainous goodness are notes of sugar cane, blooming tulip trees, and a gentle note of hyacinth and sesame seeds. A delicious combination to make my nose happy.
Gaiwan time! I originally used this gaiwan for red teas, but decided I had enough teaware devoted to that type of tea and decided this gaiwan wanted to be used for oolongs. The aroma of the leaves after the first steep is great, I say it smells alpine but really it reminds me of the air deep in the Smoky Mountains, you can smell the trees and the misty, cloud heavy air…it is kinda fantastic. Speaking of trees there are notes of blooming tulip trees, hyacinth, lilacs, and a distant note of apples. The liquid has notes of sweet snap peas, distant fresh peaches, sugar cane, tulip tree blossoms, and apple flowers. It is sweet and light, very refreshing.
This is one smooth steep, it has a buttery thickness but instead of being oily it is more smooth, like velvet. The taste is sweet and light, notes of sugar cane and sweet snap peas start it out, then it moves to sesame custard and buttery goodness, but the finish, well that is unique! Notes of fresh pears and gentle peaches with a lingering fruity, juicy, sweetness.
On to the second steep, the aroma is mountainous and blooming trees, on the very end of the aroma is a gentle pear and peach note that I am loving. Like the first steep this one is velvety smooth and light while being quite sweet. This tea reminds me more of spring than any of the others from this sampler, with notes of blooming tulip trees (seriously tulip tree nectar is so delicious) apple blossoms, juicy pears and fresh apples. With a gentle note of growing green mountainous air and snap peas, the majority of the taste is very sweet and delicately fruity.
So where the other two steeps were light this one really blooms. By the point the leaves have unfurled and wow, the aroma is intense! Sweet fruit, blooming flowers, and a touch of fresh green vegetation. The mouthfeel is thick and buttery while being buttery smooth, it compliments the juicy fruit notes and blooming flower notes wonderfully. I went in for many steeps MANY, I lost count. It is wonderfully sweet and refreshing and is a strong contender for favorite from the sampler!
Yours truly did one of the most girly things last night, well girly for me anyway…I was up til five in the morning working on my wedding registry and wish-listing wedding related clothing and things. My desire to dress like a princess, have my wedding dress be something I will use more than once, and to not spend a fortune has made this an exciting endeavor. We still haven’t set a date yet, it will at the least be a year away since we are waiting for Ben’s sister to come back from Peace Corps, and I am kinda hoping for a Halloween wedding as to be an excuse as to why my wedding garb looks possibly like a cosplay of two different characters of mine from two separate RPGs Ben and I play, that is a conversation I don’t want to have a million times, but if it is Halloween that is good enough! Oh man, I am such a dork.
You guessed it, today the adventure through the Floating Leaves High Mountain Oolong Sampler continues as I pretend to travel to these beautiful mountains through the taste of teas. Looking at 2016 Spring LiShan High Mountain Oolong today, and this tea mountain has a special place in my heart. If you travel back in time to September of 2013, it was one of the first High Mountain Oolongs I blogged about, I didn’t have my army of gaiwans or clay pots yet, I was doing pseudo gong-fu with quick steeps using a half filled mug and a steeping basket. Oh how times have changed, three years later and it is still a favorite…and I have more gaiwans/teapots/cups than sense now. I got fussed at by Ben while I was sniffing this tea, mainly because I started making a racket and he has a headache, but the aroma is pretty out of this world. It is very sweet, with notes of chestnut, sugar cane, and a bit of starchiness, but the thing that elicited the noise from me was the distinct note of bananas and pineapples, it smells so good!! I had my nose stuffed in the teapot snuffling like a truffle pig for far longer than necessary.
I decided to give my gaiwans a bread and pull out the green Oolong XiShi pot, I say green but really at this point it is only used for Taiwanese High Mountain Oolongs, TGY and Baozhong have their own pots, because I am a hoarder. The aroma of the leaves after the first steep still has that banana note of happiness, but is also has a savory spinach note, sesame seeds, bok choy, hyacinth, and a general aroma of growing things in summertime. The liquid smells like freshly baked slightly buttery banana bread, and I swear if it wasn’t 100° I would bake some. There are also gentle notes of pineapple, starch, and a bit of green vegetation.
Tasting time! While writing this I am watching Roman Holiday, a good backdrop to musing about fancy teas. It starts light and sweet with a wonderfully buttery viscous mouthfeel, it really lights up in the back of the throat, gentle at the front then a light show at the back. The taste of banana and orange blossom at the back if the throat is joined by a beginning of sweet peas and fresh vegetation. Delicious stuff!
Next steep, woo! The aroma is sweet and green, a really good balance of the two. The taste, well, first let me touch on that texture, it is so thick and buttery, but the thickness is accompanied by a rich sweetness that lingers long into the aftertaste, I swear it is so long in the mouth. The taste, once I finally get my thoughts out of the mouthfeel, is floral and sweet, with distant bananas, pineapples, and orange blossoms.
Third steep, the aroma is still going strong with sweet and green, however there is a building hyacinth note that gets quite strong towards the end of the sniffing. The taste is also quite flowery this steep, notes of hyacinths, lilacs, orange blossoms, and a distant bit of plumeria. Towards the end the banana and fresh vegetation notes show up with a lingering buttery sweetness that stay forever. I pulled many steeps out of this tea, when it nears its finish the notes of lilac and hyacinth dominate til they fade away.
You know what is adorable, Ben snuggling Espeon. She is in one of those super cuddly moods, but alas I am melting from the stupid heat, so Ben to the rescue! Usually I never mind a lap cat, but it is one of those days where it is hot and humid so my skin is all crawly. It is all good though since I get to see cuteness.
Day two of the Floating Leaves Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Sampler specifically looking at the 2016 Spring Alishan High Mountain Oolong! Alishan is one of my favorite mountains for tea, especially the green Oolong style, I always get excited when I get a chance to enjoy it. Made from the QinXin varietal, which means sweet goodness, seriously I have never had a QinXin that was not wonderfully sweet. The aroma is buttery and sweet, with notes of chestnuts, sweet snap peas, sugar cane, and crisp celery. It balances sweetness and that refreshing bit of green for a light yet nuanced blend of notes.
I brewed this tea a couple of different ways, specifically gongfu and cold-steep, and let me start by saying gongfu was AMAZING, it is a star example of an Alishan with a thick texture, sweet taste, and mellow feeling, if you get this sampler (or just this tea) I suggest trying it out this way at least once. Since it is swelteringly hot though I want to showcase how this tea really impressed me, cold-steeped! The day I cold-steeped this tea I knew the night (after my session of gongfu) that I had errands to run the next day and would want tea, so I tossed the leaves in for a morning treat.
Oh my goodness this tea, in the aroma it has crisp notes of sweet snap peas and sugar cane, buttery thickness, and nutty chestnut. These notes are present, but they are joined with ethereal notes of freesia and lilac. I pretty much downed my entire first steep instantaneously, I didn’t even get out of the house with it! It was so wonderfully light while being nuanced, I love that.
So here I am with a pile of leaves and the need for tea, so I go grandpa style and add warm water, let it steep for a few, and then top it off with some ice to inevitably melt in the heat while also keeping the leaves around. This time around it really showcases the green aspect of the tea, notes of lettuce and celery, herbaceous oregano and a bit of parsley. It is so crisp and refreshing while still being sweet and floral. I am going to go on the record and say this is my favorite cold-steeped Oolong to date, the perfect combo of sweet and crisp while never being overwhelming.