Floating Leaves Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

61

Since my focus in recent months has been on posting reviews of teas I drank ages ago, I figured it was time to take a break and highlight something I drank a little more recently. This ended up being the last of the winter 2016 Floating Leaves oolongs I got around to trying. I finished a pouch of it at the end of last week, and while I did not find it to be stale or anything (I usually take my time getting around to roasted oolongs because I want the roast to settle), it did not strike me as being particularly vibrant or likable. Compared to the spring 2016 version of this tea, which I loved, this one was just kind of lacking in comparison.

Naturally, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of baked bread, vanilla, cream, and wood. After the rinse, I noted emerging aromas of honey, caramelized banana, bruised plantain, and orchid. The first infusion saw the orchid scent grow stronger. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered light notes of baked bread, vanilla, cream, wood, and orchid. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on aromas of roasted cashew, chocolate, roasted almond, and mango. Flavors of caramelized banana, honey, and plantain emerged in the mouth while new impressions of roasted almond, butter, roasted cashew, nutmeg, mango, chocolate, steamed milk, brown sugar, apple, minerals, golden raisin, cinnamon, and toasted rice also emerged. The last infusions offered lingering mineral, nutmeg, vanilla, cream, and toasted rice notes balanced by subtler impressions of baked bread, steamed milk, cinnamon, and caramelized banana.

There was a lot going on in this tea, and while I loved the way the flavors and textures kept changing, nothing really came together in a way that was fully satisfying for me. There were some flavor components that oddly and noticeably clashed with one another, causing some of the tea’s most appealing characteristics to get lost in the mix on a number of infusions. This tea seemed like it was missing some aspect (a little vegetal character, perhaps?) that would have evened it out and provided some much needed balance. Roasted Dong Ding oolongs (even those with a very light roast) have a tendency to age gracefully in my experience, so maybe this tea had just hit an awkward phase when I decided to drink it. I’m not certain what was going on here, but I do know that this tea did not quite stand up to some of the other roasted 2016 Dong Dings I have tried very recently. In the end, I will not necessarily caution others to avoid this tea, but since it is out of stock and out of season, I won’t bother to recommend it either. There are much more appealing and immediately likable Dong Ding oolongs out there anyway.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Honey, Mango, Milk, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orchid, Raisins, Roasted nuts, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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93

Backlog.

This was a solid Li Shan with a typical fruity-floral profile but what stood out to me were the texture and mouthfeel. I started off brewing this in the 189-200 range and didn’t care for the results. It tasted like a flavored Jin Xuan, with milk and vanilla bean tones. Once I bumped up the temperature about 10 degrees, that’s when the tea really began to reveal it’s character.

The tea begins sugarcane sweet and buttery. Very full and luscious mouthfeel, gentle florals in the aftertaste. The flowery notes take center stage around the 3rd steep. I detected daffodils, hyacinth, and a hint of tropical fruit. Soft texture and long, sweet aftertaste leaving behind almost a tingling sensation in the mouth. The fruitiness intensifies as it continues to steep with a smooth body and a mouthfeel like thick nectar.

Although this was a good tea, it wasn’t compelling enough for me to want to repurchase. I’ve had so many excellent high mountain teas that it takes an extraordinary tea to appear on my radar these days.

Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Tropical

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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77

This was the third of the 2016 winter oolongs to be polished off over the past couple of weeks, and in all honesty, it was my least favorite. This particular tea was a jade Dong Ding oolong crafted exclusively from the Qing Xin cultivar. Those of you who research tea cultivars are probably well aware that Qing Xin (Green Heart) is very similar to Ruan Zhi (Soft Stem), a tea cultivar commonly used to produce rolled oolongs, and is used in the production of Bao Zhong oolongs. Presenting Qing Xin as a rolled oolong, however, is nothing new. In essence, this tea was produced from a widespread, well-known, and highly versatile oolong cultivar, one with which I happen to have a good bit of experience. While I expected to be impressed, I ended up slightly disappointed. This was a pleasant, approachable tea, but it was also somewhat plain and even a little flat.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cream, butter, vanilla, custard, and lemon. After the rinse, I found an emerging aroma of grass and a stronger custard scent. Oddly, the lemon seemed to disappear. The first infusion then saw the lemon aroma reappear alongside a new scent of spinach. In the mouth, I noted flavors of cream, butter, and custard backed by subtle impressions of grass, cinnamon, and lemon. The following infusions brought out the notes of spinach and vanilla in the mouth as well as slightly stronger grass, lemon, and cinnamon flavors. New impressions of minerals, sugarcane, tangerine, orchid, narcissus, kumquat, pear, and seaweed appeared. I also noted a slightly brothy umami note, and bizarrely enough, hints of daylily shoots. I only ever seem to pick up daylily shoot notes in Jin Xuan oolongs, so this impression was particularly out of place. I have no clue why I kept finding it. The longer final infusions were dominated by notes of minerals, cream, and butter balanced by subtle hints of citrus, grass, and daylily shoots, though on at least one or two of these infusions, very vague vanilla notes poked through on the finish.

Kind of an odd tea and most certainly something I would have to be in the mood for, I could not see myself wanting to come back to this one frequently. Even though most of the aromas and flavors I found were not out of place in this type of oolong, for some reason they never struck me as fully coming together in a compelling fashion, and that, coupled with the fact that the texture of the tea liquor was very static throughout, is what led to my earlier assertion that this was a boring, flat tea. The tea steadily evolved in the mouth and on the nose, but it never fully blossomed, never developed into something new and unique that pulled me in all the way. Again, it was pleasant, drinkable, and fairly well-constructed, but unfortunately, I never found it to be anything more than pleasant, drinkable, and fairly well-constructed.

Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Custard, Grass, Lemon, Narcissus, Orchid, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

Alright, here is the third and final review of the day. I have some real world things to do and I can keep catching up over the weekend. This was another recent sipdown. I think I finished the last of what I had of this tea toward the middle of last week. Just as I tend to be kind of ambivalent toward Floating Leaves Tea’s Jin Xuan oolongs, I tend to love their Si Ji Chun oolongs. This one was certainly no exception. It was a tremendously aromatic, flavorful tea with wonderful texture in the mouth. Oh, and it only cost $4.50 per ounce.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted wonderful aromas of cream, vanilla, butter, gardenia, and honeysuckle. After the rinse, I noted the emergence of custard and sugarcane aromas. The nose did not seem to change at all on the first infusion. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, butter, custard, vanilla, gardenia, and honeysuckle backed by subtle hints of sugarcane and vague grassy notes that appeared on the swallow. Subsequent infusions brought out stronger impressions of grass and sugarcane as new notes of violet, honeydew, green apple, pear, minerals, spinach, and garden peas made themselves known. There were some subtle notes of coriander that lingered in the background as well. The later infusions saw the butter and mineral notes swell alongside a broth-like umami character which seemed to belatedly emerge (I failed to notice it earlier in the session.), quickly superceding scattered, lingering notes of violet, green apple, spinach, and sugarcane.

This was more than a pleasant, drinkable tea; it was a tea that consistently evolved in fascinating ways over the course of a session. That brothy, buttery, mineral-heavy fade was really something, while the floral and fruity notes it displayed earlier in the session were clear and framed wonderfully. This was a tea in which nothing was ever out of place. It was also a tea that was never boring, dull, or flat. I know I said it earlier, but Floating Leaves Tea does a great job of sourcing Si Ji Chun oolongs. This tea was more proof of that.

Flavors: Butter, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Garden Peas, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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79

I am once again so far behind on reviews. It is going to take a bit of time to get caught up again. The sad part is that my inconsistent posting has had nothing to do with being busy-the issue has been that I have been too lazy to post anything here for the better part of the last week. It finally started eating at me earlier in the day, thus I’m now beginning to get some reviews posted. I actually finished a one ounce pouch of this tea over a week ago. I found it to be a rock solid, yet fairly standard Taiwanese Jin Xuan and also very typical of the Jin Xuans consistently offered by Floating Leaves Tea. In other words, I was not wowed by it. I am a huge, huge fan of Floating Leaves Tea, but their Jin Xuans have never quite done it for me. My experiences with them suggest that the folks at Floating Leaves Tea tend to prefer sourcing Jin Xuan oolongs that are more savory and vegetal, while I prefer those that are sweeter, fruitier, and more floral.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cream, vanilla, butter, violet, and orchid. After the rinse, I found an emerging aroma of custard. The first proper infusion then yielded a sugarcane scent. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of cream, butter, and vanilla balanced by hints of violet, orchid, and sugarcane. I also noted a fleeting impression of spinach around the swallow. Subsequent infusions brought out notes of minerals, grass, seaweed, coriander, lettuce, pear, honeydew, and green apple to go along with stronger, more developed spinach notes and the odd hint of custard. The floral notes popped briefly on a few of these infusions, but quickly receded into the background before disappearing altogether. The later infusions mostly offered notes of minerals, grass, spinach, and seaweed with vague touches of cream and green apple here and there.

As Jin Xuan oolongs go, this one offered a nice range of flavors, but I found that it lost too many of its appealing savory, floral, and fruity qualities too soon. I was also a little nonplussed that it did not display any of its buttery qualities on the longer infusions. These days I tend to favor some of the green Jin Xuan oolongs coming out of the Southeast Asian countries over those produced in Taiwan due to the unique quirks they often display, so this tea was likely not going to impress me as much anyway. Still, one could do far worse trying other teas of this type.

Flavors: Butter, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Very tasty! The dry leaf has an interesting smell, reminding me of fried doughnuts. The texture of this tea is definitely the highlight for me – super silky and buttery! Flavor is nice – floral with hints of bitterness and herbs but overall sweet. I’d assume that backing off temperature would reduce the hint of bitterness and would add sweetness but I liked it as it was. I chose to drink first as this because it was the cheapest of the high mountain oolongs I bought but I was not disappointed at all!

Flavors: Floral, Herbs

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Shiuwen reminded everyone on the last live stream that reviews help so I’m going to revisit a bunch of teas and post the reviews. I managed to catch the first baozhong livestream a month or so ago and it was so interesting I bought the box with 5 baozhongs before it ended and I hadn’t even had a light oolong I liked before this purchase!
Only two of them are regular items as far as I know and being competition style this one is floral, buttery (texture and to an extent taste as well), and has a hint of citrus which really makes the tea more enjoyable for me. This handles boiling water very well, which Shiuwen recommends, and I tend to always use boiling water so that works out well. It also holds up for plenty of infusions. All of the baozhongs are distinct but this one is as enjoyable as the competition winning ones.

Flavors: Citrus, Floral

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87

Those of who you read my reviews may know by now that Shan Lin Xi oolongs are often hit or miss with me. I either really love them or find them to be just pretty good at best. Normally, I look for a lot of floral and creamy notes underpinned by grassy, vegetal character in teas of this type and often tend to pass on teas that strike me as being mostly savory and/or vegetal. I say I often pass on teas like that because every now and then I find one that appeals to me. This tea ended up being one of those.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of butter, cream, vanilla, and sugarcane. I could just barely detect a hint of orchid too. After the rinse, I found a hint of custard and some vegetal character on the nose. The first proper infusion then brought out stronger vegetal scents and something of a brothy umami aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of butter, cream, sugarcane, and vanilla balanced by surprisingly well-defined vegetal notes of grass, coriander, and spinach. When I focused in, I could detect a little umami character and some hints of orchard fruit on the finish. Subsequent infusions brought out clearly defined notes of white peach, green apple, and pear, a stronger umami presence on the nose and in the mouth, and subtle, belatedly emerging custard and orchid flavors. New impressions of honeydew, minerals, parsley, cucumber, lettuce, and seaweed also emerged alongside distant, often barely detectable baked bread and garden pea notes. The later infusions mostly offered a smooth liquor with notes of minerals, cream, spinach, coriander, and butter chased by vague seaweed and umami impressions.

I’m used to Shan Lin Xi oolongs that are creamier, more citrusy, and more floral and often make attempts to avoid those that are more vegetal, but this tea surprisingly hit the spot for me. Maybe it was a case of the tea being perfect for this unseasonably warm and sunny day or maybe I just needed something that felt more substantial in the mouth. Heck, a bit of both could have been at play here. Though this type of tea would normally not be my thing, I found this particular tea to be very enjoyable. If you are a fan of some of the more savory, vegetal high mountain oolongs, I would not hesitate to recommend this tea to you.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Garden Peas, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Parsley, Peach, Pear, Seaweed, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

While I love high mountain teas, I am fairly ambivalent towards Da Yu Lings. In my experience, they tend to be good but are seldom worth the high price they command. This one came highly recommended by the vendor.

Out of the bag, the plump green leaves had a forest green aroma and some floral hints. There was also a bit of seaweed aroma, a not so good sign that the tea is beginning to lose freshnesss. The warmed gaiwan brought out osmanthus and orchid which changed to melon and tropical fruit after the rinse. The first infusion was thin and vegetal with a light floral sensation on the tongue in the finish. Second steep brought our more florals, but also the stale seaweed note. The third steep was the best one of all. A thick flower nectar with a prominent note of orange blossom and less of the seaweed. The fourth infusion was similarly floral but also brought some brothiness. The texture become softer and gives the tongue a gentle floral tingle as it goes down. In the next 5 steeps, the tea flattened out a bit as it settled into a pleasant floral/vegetal taste.

So much like past Da Yu Lings, this ended up being a good but unspectacular gao shan. Nice mouthfeel and texture, but lacking some depth. I would like to have seen some of the fruity aromas in the taste.

Flavors: Flowers, Forest Floor, Orange Blossom, Orchid

Preparation
0 min, 45 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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90

Over the years, I’ve developed an affinity of sorts for winter harvest bao zhongs. I find the taste cleaner and smoother than the spring harvest. A little ironic considering how its fresh floral character so epitomizes spring. Recently I was fortunate enough to receive a sample of Floating Leaves’ Winter Competition Bao Zhong with my order and wasted no time brewing up a cup.

Bao zhong is a tea whose aroma should be savored as much as the taste. For this reason, my preferred method of preparing this tea is grandpa style. It also helps stretch those expensive competition grade teas. Upon opening the bag, I was greeting with a lovely sweet floral aroma of orchid and hyacinth. I steeped 1g of tea in an 8oz mug using water heated to just under 190 F. The first sip was slightly floral but thin and weak, probably because I started drinking too soon. After waiting for a few more leaves to drop to the bottom, I took another sip and got a sweet pea like flavor accompanied by notes of honeydew and gardenia. At the same time, delicate lilac and vegetal aromas wafted from my mug.

When the mug was halfway empty, I topped it off with boiling water and took a sip. The sweet pea tones were stronger this time and came with notes of orchid and warm morning dew. This was a floral-vegetal affair with a lot more sweetness. A third top off resulted in a similar tasting tea, though simpler due to the flavors having melded together.

Overall, I enjoyed this tea though it wasn’t quite the flower bomb that baozhongs I’ve had in the past were. It leans slightly vegetal with a sweet pea taste interspersed with florals. Doesn’t have the ethereal flavor of my favorite competition bao zhong from BTTC’s, but still hits the spot for me.

Flavors: Flowers, Peas

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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93

After hearing so many great things about Floating Leaves, I finally got around to trying them this year. I generally favor Taiwan Tea Crafts for the value and quality, but at this point I’ve tried every single green oolong in their lineup and was ready for something new. I ordered the Winter High Mountain sampler pack and this was the first tea to go into the gaiwan.

I steeped about 3.5g of tea in a 80ml gaiwan. The dry leaves had a light orchid aroma. A rinse intensified the orchid and brought out notes of lilies, custard, and cream. The first steep was a little light, probably because my water temperature wasn’t high enough. On the second steep, I was able to taste the flowery notes in the aroma and some honeycomb in the finish that was very nice. The next two steeps were juicier with crisp florals, sugarcane, snap pea, and a hint of cucumber. Mouthfeel wasn’t as full as other high mountain teas but very clean and refreshing. I was able to push this to 10 steeps in total and despite fading a little, it maintained a pleasant orchid/lilac profile throughout.

This was the first Ali Shan in a long time that’s really wowed me. A bright, fresh, and flowery tea with some serious staying power. And a great start to trying out my samples. Hoping the other teas in the sampler are as impressive as this one was.

Flavors: Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Flowers, Orchid, Peas, Sugarcane

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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95

I am always impressed by teas such silver needle and this Oriental beauty that drastically depart from what I grew up thinking how tea tasted. Early on there is a definite floral almost Roses flavor to the tea. It reminded me of This one blend of black tea my friend bought from England that was blended with rose.

Flavors: Floral, Honey

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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95

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90

As mentioned in my most recent review, I am finally making a truly concerted effort to clear out the backlog of reviews that has accumulated over the past several months. I finished a pouch of this tea shortly after finishing the last of Floating Leaves Tea’s exceptional Winter 2016 Farmer’s Choice Baozhong. This competition grade tea also struck me as being exceptional, just not quite the value represented by its counterpart.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by infusions of 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas reminiscent of baked bread, lilac, violet, grass, and butter. After the rinse, I found new aromas of cream, custard, and vanilla balanced by hints of spinach, lily, and sweet pea. The first infusion brought out a touch of gardenia. The liquor offered surprisingly clear floral notes of lily, lilac, sweet pea, and violet on the entry that were soon deftly balanced by somewhat unexpected touches of green apple, Asian pear, baked bread, butter, cream, custard, and vanilla. There were some slight vegetal hints on the finish too. Compared to the previous tea, there was a lot more going on up front in this one. Subsequent infusions allowed the gardenia, spinach, and sugarcane to come through in the mouth while touches of grass, saffron, orchid, snap peas, minerals, honeydew, and cantaloupe emerged. I also began to notice hints of cucumber on the finish. The later infusions displayed notes of minerals, butter, cream, green apple, and Asian pear backed by subtle hints of lime zest, grass, snap peas, and ripe honeydew.

This was perhaps a slightly deeper, more complex tea than the farmer’s choice offering, but of the two, I kind of preferred the farmer’s choice tea. While I appreciated that this tea had more going on in the initial infusion and retained a greater number of its aromas and flavors over the course of the session, I honestly loved the salty, brothy fade of the farmer’s choice tea and that pushed it over the top for me. Still, this was an exceptional baozhong, one of the best I have had, and perhaps the best of the very small number of competition grade teas I have tried to this point in my reviewing journey. Definitely check this one out if you are a fan of higher end baozhongs.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cantaloupe, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Lime, Mineral, Orchid, Pear, Peas, Saffron, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

Here is yet another review from the backlog. I have recently gotten serious about finally clearing this thing out and will be making a concerted effort to do so this time. If I can make the time to type two reviews a day, I should be able to finish it within a couple of weeks. That being said, I finished the last of this tea and wrote a review for it like two weeks ago or something like that. Naturally, I’m just now getting around to posting about it here. Like the previous Floating Leaves baozhongs I have tried, this was a quality tea. I’m always surprised how well their teas hold up in storage, and truth be told, their stuff may be a little pricey compared to some, but you almost always get your money’s worth.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted lovely aromas of butter, custard, grass, and fresh flowers accompanied by a slight breadiness. The tasting note provided by Floating Leaves Tea suggested there was a clear pineapple aroma present on the dry leaf, but I did not get that at all. After the rinse, I picked up on emerging aromas of sugarcane, vanilla, and spinach. The floral aromas began to intensify and separate. I definitely detected scents of lilac, violet, and gardenia. I thought I may have picked up a touch of something like magnolia at one point, but I was never certain about that. The first infusion then brought out a touch of lily. The liquor expressed delicate, yet very nice notes of baked bread and cream which quickly gave way to subtler hints of grass, spinach, flowers, and oddly enough, ripe melon. Subsequent infusions brought out stronger floral impressions, and I was able to pick up a touch of sweet pea. Notes of honeydew, cantaloupe, minerals, green apple, lime zest, Asian pear, and zucchini emerged, as did touches of fresh peas and sea salt on the brief, umami-accented fade. The later infusions were mostly dominated by notes of minerals, butter, and cream, though I could still detect hints of Asian pear, melon, peas, grass, zucchini, and sea salt.

I almost always really enjoy the baozhongs offered by Floating Leaves Tea. Their farmer’s choice teas, in particular, are often an incredible value. This one was certainly no exception. For the price, the leaf quality was exceptional and the tea had a ton to offer both on the nose and in the mouth. To be honest, I finished a pouch of this tea and a pouch of their Winter 2016 Competition Baozhong fairly close together, and I thought this tea represented a better value overall. Both were great, but at the end of the day, I preferred this one. I would definitely recommend it highly to baozhong fans.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cantaloupe, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Lime, Mineral, Pear, Peas, Salt, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Violet, Zucchini

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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96

It seems that the deeper I get into tea, the more impressed I become with the black teas produced in Taiwan. I ended up purchasing a pouch of this tea after seeing several good reviews for it. I almost exclusively associate Floating Leaves Tea with high quality oolongs, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after trying this, I can only say that it was a truly exceptional black tea.

I normally gongfu Taiwanese and Chinese black teas, and that is how I ended up preparing this one. After a flash rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced clear aromas of honey, baked bread, wood, and stone fruits. After the rinse, I found an emerging aroma of brown toast. The first infusion brought out a vanilla aroma coupled with a rather perfume-like floral scent. In the mouth, the liquor expressed light notes of baked bread, brown toast, honey, and wood underscored by very subtle touches of brown sugar. Surprisingly, there was nothing in the way of any sort of fruitiness or floral character. Subsequent infusions brought out stronger notes of baked bread, honey, brown toast, and brown sugar, as well as distinct notes of cedar, pine, roasted almond, apricot, peach, nectarine, malt, spiced pear, red apple, vanilla, black licorice, raisin, and minerals. The floral notes emerged too but they were elusive. They kind of reminded me of both marigold and geranium, but I could be way off base. They were very difficult to place. The later infusions offered lingering touches of roasted almond, malt, minerals, pine, cedar, baked bread, and black licorice balanced by fleeting impressions of brown sugar and stone fruit sweetness and a hint of floral character.

This tea was so ridiculously deep and complex. I honestly wish I had gotten around to trying it sooner. Some of the aromas and flavors it offered reminded me of both Taiwanese GABA and Gui Fei oolongs, but with much more of an edge. Definitely seek this out if you are a fan of Taiwanese black teas. I doubt it will disappoint.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Cedar, Floral, Fruity, Geranium, Honey, Licorice, Malt, Mineral, Peach, Pear, Pine, Raisins, Red Apple, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

This was another tea I kind of forgot I had. Fortunately, this was a roasted oolong rather than a green oolong. Aside from this tea being roasted and processed in a strip style, I do not know much about it. I don’t know whether or not it was a baozhong. All I know is that it was both very unique and very good.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of char, roasted grain, and roasted vegetables. After the rinse, I noted stronger aromas of roasted vegetables coupled with emerging impressions of flowers and nuts. The first proper infusion brought out scents of wood. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of grass, wood, roasted grain, char, and roasted vegetables. There were hints of flowers too. Subsequent infusions brought out rather subtle impressions of nuts, cream, butter, blueberry, blackberry, elderberry, minerals, lilac, violet, lily, banana leaf, and cattail shoots. It was an interesting mix of aromas and flavors. The tea liquor most definitely offered something of a heavy, broth-like umami presence overlaid with unique floral, nutty, fruity, woody, and vegetal tones. The later infusions offered lingering touches of minerals, butter, cream, wood, roasted grain, banana leaf, grass, and roasted vegetables.

A super unique Taiwanese oolong and also an incredibly tasty one, I found it difficult to compare this tea to many of the other oolongs I have tried recently. Furthermore, I noted that it held up very well in storage. Prior to brewing this tea gongfu, I had experimented with it as an iced tea and also tried a couple of Western preparations. All worked quite well. I would recommend this tea highly to curious drinkers, but unfortunately, it has been out of stock for some time, and since no newer harvests have been offered, I get the impression that a newer version may not be offered in the near future, if at all. Should that end up being the case, it will be a shame.

Flavors: Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Char, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Grain, Grass, Mineral, Nuts, Roasted, Umami, Vegetables, Vegetal, Violet, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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I drank this along with the 2016 Oriental Beauty.

This Oriental Beauty is dark. It is woodsy and has an interesting cinnamon note. Later steepings get dark honey like and could be confused for a black tea. The colour of this tea is dark too. Very good grandpa style, but is great gongfu style too.

Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2016-vs-2017-oriental-beauty-comparison-floating-leaves-tea/

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 1 g 1 OZ / 15 ML

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I drank this along with the 2017 Oriental Beauty.

The 2016 is more fruity, tasting of green grapes and pears along with floral notes. The later infusions get honey and woodsy. It is best gongfu style as you can taste the more delicate fruity notes.

Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2016-vs-2017-oriental-beauty-comparison-floating-leaves-tea/

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 1 g 1 OZ / 15 ML

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86

Looking back through my reviews by month, it seems I almost always manage to review some sort of Tieguanyin each month. I guess that should not come as a shock considering that Tieguanyin is one of my favorite cultivars and has been for some time. I noticed, however, that I do not often review Taiwanese Tieguanyins and decided to rectify that. In truth, I didn’t have to go out of my way to do that considering that I had been working my way through a pouch of this tea for the better part of 2-3 weeks and was starting to run low. With that in mind, I figured it would be a good idea for me to go ahead and review this one while my most recent session was still fresh in my memory. I did not want to end up forgetting about it, finishing the last of the tea, and then trying to recall details and make sense of vague session notes days or weeks after the fact. So, without further adieu, here goes.

This Tieguanyin is a true Taiwanese Tieguanyin. It was harvested in late 2015 and the final roast was applied in April 2016. I acquired this tea directly from Floating Leaves Tea in either late summer or early fall of 2016. I prepared this tea gongfu style. As I managed to break my favorite 4 ounce gaiwan and cup earlier in the day, I used my 5 ounce easy gaiwan and cup set to conduct this review session. I utilized 7 grams of loose tea leaves for the session. After my usual brief rinse, the leaves were steeped for 8 seconds in 195 F water. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of char, dark wood, earth, and raisin. The rinse brought out aromas of caramelized banana, mango, papaya, and vanilla bean. I though I caught hints of butter and very light coffee as well. The first infusion brought out the butter and coffee on the nose, though I also began to detect hints of peach and custard. In the mouth, the liquor was initially very earthy and savory, offering gentle notes of moist earth, dark wood, char, butter, and vanilla bean balanced by barely perceptible touches of raisin, caramelized banana, and peach. Subsequent infusions better brought out the caramelized banana, raisin, and peach in the mouth. I also noticed that the coffee, mango, and papaya showed up as well. New aromas and flavors of wet stones, minerals, plantain, mild cinnamon, nutmeg, custard, cream, and yellow plum appeared as well. The later infusions mostly offered fleeting impressions of butter, cream, moist earth, dark wood, char, and minerals. When I really dug deep, I thought I could detect a touch of lingering fruitiness, but it may have just been me.

This came across as a very refined oolong. My experience suggested that it is best approached slowly, as its aromas and flavors are very layered and can oftentimes be extremely subtle and subdued. While I enjoyed this tea, I am not entirely certain that those new to roasted oolongs, especially highly roasted Taiwanese Tieguanyins, would be all that impressed with it. It takes more than a bit of work to get into it, but it is rewarding. So, all of this being said, I can offer the following: I would recommend this tea to those looking for a quality Muzha Tieguanyin at a decent price, but just be aware that this tea and others like it require work to appreciate. In the end, it was quite good, though I also found it to be somewhat labor-intensive to analyze.

Flavors: banana, Butter, Caramel, Char, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Custard, Dark Wood, Fruity, Mango, Mineral, Nutmeg, Peach, Plums, Raisins, Vanilla, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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The 2017 Spring Silver Needle at FLT is killer this year!

It is super fuzzy and fresh tasting. The notes are syrupy sweet, aloe, sweet grass, crisp asparagus, and lychee. The texture is on the heavy side too.

Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2017-spring-silver-needle-white-tea-floating-leaves-tea/

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 g 1 OZ / 18 ML

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80

Had a belly ache this morning, not pushing it, look there in the back, past all the oolong and pu erh, silver needles, alllll right. Used quite a bit of leaf at 180° for a minute +, with a decent brew of slightly peppery, marigoldish yumminess. It pays to have a stash.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec 8 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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This Dong Ding has been roasted 3 times.

I pushed this tea to 23 infusions, but I likely could of gotten more if I had used a yixing tea pot and didn’t take the night off.

This dong ding is great – it has lots of nutty, mineral, caramelized sugar, umami, and roast flavor. The roast here is not ashy, sharp, or burnt. The tea is never bitter, only with a little dryness way late in the reinfusions. The body in this tea is very heavy and thick.

Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2016-winter-charcoal-dong-ding-aka-3-roast-floating-leaves-tea/

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 1 g 0 OZ / 13 ML

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Backlog -
Smells of honey and looks roasted
5.2g/2012F
I rinsed it and gave it a 2 min rest.
Creamy honey and smooth with a faint hint of roast. This roast was not a strong as the other tea I have from them. I like it.

Flavors: Creamy, Honey, Roasted, Smooth

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