Floating Leaves TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
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
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/
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.
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/
For those who are not familiar with the work of Seattle’s Floating Leaves Tea, allow me to just state that this seller tends to specialize in quality Taiwanese teas. Their oolongs, in particular, are well worth checking out, and better yet, they roast some of their own oolongs in house. Their House Oolong is always roasted and is always either a Jin Xuan or a Four Season. You have to respect a tea merchant that gives at least a few of their teas a truly personal touch.
I ordered this particular tea when I was just beginning to purchase from Floating Leaves. I had initially wanted to pick up some of the Winter 2015 House Oolong, but they were out and sent me an ounce of the spring 2016 version instead. I could not find a listing for this tea on their website, but I believe it to be a Jin Xuan-the listing on the website had yet to be updated and was identical to that of the winter 2015 tea. I could be wrong.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 of brown butter, roasted grain, and brown sugar underscored by a slight creaminess. After the rinse, the cream fully emerged and was joined by subtle scents of vanilla bean and mild, sweet spices. The first infusion allowed a touch of red osmanthus to show through the murk. I also thought I caught hints of bruised mango, coffee, and caramelized banana as well. In the mouth, the tea presented a rather dominant note of roasted grain balanced by subtle notes of cream, brown butter, brown sugar, and vanilla bean. I did not find anything else. Subsequent infusions allowed the touches of red osmanthus, coffee, and caramelized banana to shine, while the previously missing spice notes suddenly showed themselves. I was reminded of both nutmeg and sweet cinnamon. The bruised mango appeared too. The later infusions were predictably mild, but grainier than anticipated. I detected lingering impressions of roasted grain, vanilla bean, butter, and coffee balanced by subtle mineral, cream, and spice impressions.
Of the oolongs I have tried recently, this was neither the most complex nor the deepest, but I highly doubt it was ever intended to be. I suspect that this was intended to be a basic, consistent daily drinker, and honestly, I think it succeeds in that capacity. Overall, this tea was a little basic for my tastes, but I still managed to enjoy it. For the price, it was perfectly respectable, and I imagine that it could ably serve as an adequate introduction to roasted Taiwanese oolongs for fellow neophytes.
Flavors: banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Grain, Mango, Mineral, Nutmeg, Osmanthus, Vanilla
I can’t remember who included this in the teabox but i took their recommendation and have been doing a gonfu session with this. I’m not sure though how to describe it as i am REALLY enjoying it. I am a huge fan of this one…sweet, smooth..delicious. More to come if inspiration strikes on one of these rounds.
Here is another oolong that I have rested for awhile. I did my first session with this tea last night. I stayed up late with the intention of cleaning my kitchen, but did not quite get around to it. Instead, I ended up watching television, listening to music, and drinking tea. Compared to some of the other milk oolongs I have tried within the last year, this one was much subtler and came off as being more natural. It was very smooth and savory, though it simultaneously lacked the over-the-top milky, buttery qualities I have recently come to associate with Jin Xuan.
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 10 seconds. I followed this infusion with 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off subtly milky, creamy, buttery aromas. After the rinse, the aromas of milk, butter, and cream intensified and were joined by subtle scents of sticky rice, custard, and fresh flowers. The first infusion produced a similar, though oddly more subdued, integrated bouquet. In the mouth, I detected very thin notes of cream, butter, custard, and steamed milk balanced by notes of grass and a slight nectar-like quality. Subsequent infusions were much more fulfilling, offering more pronounced floral aromas resembling a mixture of lilies, honeysuckle, and gardenia, as well as traces of grass, leaf lettuce, apricot, pear, and pineapple. The same qualities came through in the mouth. I noticed that the tea liquor was initially savory-it was packed with cream, butter, steamed milk, custard, and sticky rice notes underscored by a very subtle hint of vanilla-before introducing impressions of fruit, grass, leaf lettuce, and minerals on the finish. Later infusions offered hints of cream, butter, custard, grass, and lettuce on the nose. In the mouth, I detected thin notes of cream, butter, custard, grass, leaf lettuce, and spinach balanced by a somewhat heavier mineral presence and ghostly floral, fruity impressions.
Compared to many of the Jin Xuan oolongs I have tried within the last 12 months, this one was not nearly as fruity, sweet, or heavy. It presented a delicate, restrained layering of aromas and flavors, and to me, did not come across as artificial in any way. I could definitely appreciate this tea, but I found myself wishing at numerous points that the sweeter, fruitier, more floral qualities would provide more balance to the tea’s smooth, savory and grassy, vegetal polarities. Giving a numerical score to this one has proven very difficult. A score of 72/100 feels like it is at least in the ballpark, if perhaps a bit harsh. I’ll go with that for now simply because this tea was decent enough, but in my opinion was lacking something that would have made it more memorable and enjoyable.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Milk, Mineral, Pear, Pineapple, Rice, Spinach, Vanilla
In recent months, I have gotten to a point with Taiwanese oolongs where I tend to prefer the lower elevation and older mountain teas. Give me a Jin Xuan, baozhong, jade, four season, or especially, a Dong Ding over a Da Yu Ling, Ali Shan, Li Shan, or Shan Lin Xi just about any day. It’s not that I don’t appreciate these wonderful high mountain teas, it’s that there are so many people writing about them who are much more knowledgeable and much better at reviewing them than I am, so I don’t see the point. Also, high mountain oolongs have become so popular that I fear people are beginning to forget about some of the other oolongs Taiwan offers. I know that Dong Ding is generally considered to be the first of the high mountain teas. At one point, it was even one of the most revered of the Taiwanese oolongs, but as tea production moved into increasingly more remote areas, it began to fall out of favor. That’s almost criminal. Dong Ding oolongs have so much to offer. This one, in particular, was absolutely amazing.
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 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by additional infusions at 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, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted fascinating aromas of vanilla bean, coffee, wood, baked bread, and butter. After the rinse, aromas of brown butter, graham cracker, cinnamon, plantain, and oddly enough, petunia emerged. The first infusion produced an almost identical, though more powerful and integrated aroma. In the mouth, I picked up well-defined notes of cream, brown butter, cinnamon, baked bread, vanilla bean, graham cracker, plantain, and wood before a wonderfully textured finish which allowed impressions of coffee, marigold, and petunia to shine. Subsequent infusions took on a fruitier and slightly more floral character. Impressions of lily, mango, pear, and apple emerged at various points, though the tea became increasingly dominated by powerful cream, butter, vanilla bean, graham cracker, and plantain presences. Additionally, a subtle hint of caramel emerged to enhance the tea’s inherent savoriness, while a mild mineral presence began to round out the finish. Later infusions allowed the tea’s woodier, creamier, more buttery characteristics to once again come to the fore. The mineral presence was far stronger. Notes of graham cracker, vanilla bean, and coffee were still more or less present, while less clearly defined fruity and floral characters lingered in the distant background.
This tea was really something special. I got so much out of it, yet I do not feel that my description is adequate. Rather than presenting clearly defined aromas and flavors, this tea presented me with unique tones that were highly reminiscent of what I described above, yet never exact. It was challenging, deep, complex, layered, textured, and quite enigmatic overall. Endlessly intriguing would perhaps be the best and most concise way for me to describe it. As much as I enjoyed Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company’s Old Style Dong Ding Oolong, I liked this one even more. Seriously, this would be a desert island tea for me.
Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Graham, Mango, Mineral, Pear, Vanilla, Wood
Well I owned a total of 10oz of this tea. It is good!
It is a ruby 18 processed into a bai mu dan white. It is pretty bombproof, malty, and heavy, yet juicy melon, floral, and honey sweet like a white tea. I find it shines best in an aged white seasoned clay pot or grandpa style. Grandpa style tends to make the refreshing notes of ruby 18 pop a bit more.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/red-peony-floating-leaves-tea/
I have been dead on my feet today. So far, the usual up-and-down Appalachian winter weather has exacerbated my sinus issues. I have a feeling that it isn’t helping my thyroiditis either. My whole body just feels stressed. After an extremely boring day at the office (I loathe my new job), I was having trouble unwinding, so I decided to spend my evening with this oolong. I have no clue which harvest it came from-Floating Leaves sent it my way I suppose because it contrasted the greener oolongs that comprised the bulk of that particular order and to get rid of it. It even came with a note basically stating that they only had a little of it left and were sending it out as samples.
Not surprisingly, I opted to prepare this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted mild aromas of honey, stone fruits, and roasted grain. After the rinse, a woody aroma began to emerge. The first infusion produced a bouquet that was slightly fruitier and more honeyed. I picked up a subtle osmanthus scent as well. In the mouth, I detected mild notes of wood, roasted grain, honey, and osmanthus balanced by subtle cream and butter flavors and a hint of largely indistinct fruity character. Subsequent infusions were more robust, offering clearer aromas and flavors of papaya, peach, nectarine, and apricot. There was also a hint of prune in the mix, as well as an interesting note of rose. Later infusions were creamier, more buttery, and grainier overall. The woody aromas and flavors remained, as did traces of prune, osmanthus, rose, roasted grain, honey, and apricot that were more notable on the finish, imparting a lingering perfumey quality that was quite pleasant.
I’m a big fan of Gui Fei, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed this one. It managed to combine intense floral and fruity characteristics with buttery, grainy, and woody qualities. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a unique oolong.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cream, Dried Fruit, Fruity, Grain, Honey, Osmanthus, Peach, Rose, Wood
Here’s another of the spring 2016 teas I have been working on finishing. I do not have a ton of experience with four season oolongs, but I know they are generally viewed as being basic teas suitable for daily drinking. I found that to be the case with this one.
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 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, I noted that the dry tea leaves emitted mild aromas of sweetgrass and fresh flowers. After the rinse, I detected strong aromas of hyacinth, lilac, honeysuckle, lily, cream, and sweetgrass. The first infusion saw aromas of magnolia and butter emerge. In the mouth, I detected a strong note of sweetgrass balanced by lily, magnolia, lilac, honeysuckle, and hyacinth. There were also subtle notes of cream and butter. Subsequent infusions grew creamier and more buttery, with less sweetgrass and more floral character. Subtle notes of pineapple and honeydew also made themselves known. Later infusions were dominated by cream, butter, and sweetgrass aromas and flavors, though traces of minerals and distant floral impressions were evident on the finish.
This was about as basic and satisfying as a Taiwanese oolong can possibly be. Though it didn’t display the depth or complexity of many high mountain oolongs, the aromas and flavors on display here worked together perfectly. I think this particular tea would make a great introduction to Taiwanese oolongs or a near perfect oolong for everyday consumption.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Pineapple
At this point, I am still finishing some of the fall 2015 and spring 2016 teas that I bought late in the season. This jade Tieguanyin from Anxi, Fujian Province, China was one of my later acquisitions. It had been awhile since I had tried an autumn harvest Tieguanyin, so I jumped at the opportunity to try one of the previous autumn’s teas while it was on sale.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 14 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute 5 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted very mild aromas of cream, butter, and sweetgrass. After the rinse, the expected aromas of cream, butter, and sweetgrass remained, though they were joined by subtle aromas of lilac, violet, and saffron. In the mouth, the tea was oddly vegetal and grassy up front, offering a dominant note of sweetgrass balanced by flavors of cream, butter, steamed rice, saffron, violet, rose, and lilac. Subsequent infusions grew quickly more floral and savory, offering somewhat more pronounced aromas and flavors of butter, cream, steamed rice, saffron, violet, rose, and lilac joined by subtle hints of vanilla and custard. The sweetgrass aroma and flavor remained and continued to assert itself on the finish where it was joined by a faint hint of minerals. Later infusions grew grassier and more buttery. I mostly noted aromas and flavors of sweetgrass, butter, cream, steamed rice, and minerals joined by cooked leaf lettuce, though hints of vanilla, custard, and very distant floral impressions could still be detected in the background.
From the little bit of research I have done, I am aware that the reputation of the autumn Tieguanyin harvests tends to be variable. Some sources seem to feel that the spring harvests are smoother on the nose and more complex in the mouth, while others seem to feel that the autumn harvests produce the boldest aroma and the more balanced flavor. Generally speaking, most sources I have seen tend to favor the spring harvested teas. Personally, I usually favor the autumn teas. I love the robust aroma profile and the more savory character in the mouth. While I thought this particular Tieguanyin was rather good, I found it to be a little light in terms of flavor. Despite the tea’s age, I could not tell that it had faded all that much either (Floating Leaves’ resealable bags are opaque and do not allow light or much air, the tea was very carefully stored, and it was very lively in the mouth), so perhaps its mild, grassy character was due more to when it was harvested (October rather than November) and how it was processed than its age. Whatever the case, this was a mild, mellow, and subtle Tieguanyin with a very bright character on the nose. I rather liked it, though I have had better autumn Tieguanyins within the last year.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Lettuce, Mineral, Rice, Rose, Saffron, Vanilla, Violet
I typed a review for this yesterday, but it seems to have gotten eaten. Oh well, here we go with the second take. To summarize my introduction from the previous vanished review, this tea is somewhat lighter than the Winter 2015 Farmer’s Choice Baozhong. I kind of like it, but I do have to admit that I prefer the tea from the previous harvest to this one.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. I tried to replicate the brewing methodology that got me such strong results with the winter 2015 tea, and I was mostly successful. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 11 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 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes. I do not recall explaining this methodology in a previous review, but in essence, I am most familiar with Chinese gongfu practices when it comes to brewing oolongs, and I am most comfortable brewing oolongs in this way. That is why I do not normally follow Taiwanese gongfu guidelines. As I learn more about Taiwanese brewing practices, I may try to switch things up a bit, but until then, I am going to stick with the methods with which I am most comfortable and familiar.
Prior to the rinse, I noted that the dry tea leaves emitted mildly floral, grassy aromas. After the rinse, I again noted mild aromas of grass and fresh flowers. The first infusion produced a similar, though slightly more defined aroma. I was able to pick out distinct scents of lilac, honeysuckle, violet, snow pea, butter, cream, custard, and sweetgrass. In the mouth, floral notes of honeysuckle, violet, and lilac dominated the entry before giving way to savory, smooth notes of cream, butter, and custard. Mild vegetal notes of sweetgrass and snow pea emerged on the finish and were underscored by a faint impression of tropical fruit. Subsequent infusions were both fruitier and more intensely floral on the nose and in the mouth. A distinct lily impression began to emerge, as did impressions of pineapple, papaya, and mango. Later infusions were mostly savory and vegetal, offering cream, butter, snow pea, and sweetgrass aromas and flavors underscored by a subtle mineral presence, though I could just barely detect ghostly lily, lilac, violet, custard, and pineapple impressions in the background.
As far as spring harvested baozhongs go, this one could have been much worse. It definitely made for an interesting comparison with the winter 2015 harvest. This one was much lighter with a very unique fruity character. Still, if I had to pick between the two, I would choose the winter 2015 baozhong over this one. My nose and palate tend to naturally favor teas from the later harvests, and I also felt that this baozhong faded just a little earlier than it should have. All in all, I found this to be a pretty good baozhong, and I certainly would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of this type of oolong, but given my preferences, it suffered a little bit in comparison to the tea from the previous harvest.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Honeysuckle, Mango, Mineral, Peas, Pineapple, Violet
This is another tea that I forgot I had. I bought it when it went on sale several months ago in order to compare it to the 2016 Spring Farmer’s Choice Baozhong (a tea for which I still need to post a review). I had heard that the winter 2015 harvest teas were very good and were holding up extremely well, so I figured that this tea would be worth the investment. As it turned out, it was.
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 5 seconds. I then conducted 12 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, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I noted a slightly musty, vegetal aroma emitted by the dry tea leaves. It reminded me of a combination of peas, grass, and spinach. After the rinse, the vegetal, grassy aroma was still there and was joined by floral and citrus scents. On the first infusion, I noticed that the floral and citrus aromas were slightly more pronounced. There were also subtle scents of cream and butter, as well as traces of grass, peas, and spinach. In the mouth, I noted a floral quality up front that was balanced by cream and butter. The grassiness was fairly pronounced. I also noted touches of peas and spinach. I expected more of a citrus note, but all I managed to pick out was a very slight fruity tartness on the finish. Subsequent infusions were far more robust and complex. I noted aromas and flavors of cream, butter, grass, vanilla, tangerine, lime zest, and fresh flowers. Though the tasting note provided by Floating Leaves led me to believe that this baozhong was not particularly floral, I got a consistent floral quality from it. It reminded me of a combination of lily, gardenia, lilac, hyacinth, honeysuckle, and saffron. The floral quality was, however, not overwhelming or dominant in the mouth. Instead, it balanced the more savory and vegetal qualities of the tea. I also noted slight notes of spinach and peas, as well as a touch of minerals on the finish. The later infusions were very mild and smooth, offering mostly subtle aromas and notes of minerals, grass, cream, butter, and lime zest. When I really focused, I could still note a touch of flowers, vanilla, spinach, and peas, though these impressions were extremely distant and fleeting.
This baozhong surprised me. It displayed considerable complexity within its smooth, refined integration of aromas and flavors without an abundance of depth and body in the mouth. Indeed, the texture of the tea liquor was very thin and slick, which took a little while for me to appreciate. All in all, I was very impressed by this tea and think it would make a wonderful everyday baozhong.
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lime, Mineral, Peas, Saffron, Spinach, Vanilla
Guys, it has become fuzzy robe and fluffy blanket season and I am soooo hype!! As it is very well known (really, I never shut-up about it) I loathe the heat, each year it seems to affect me more and my threshold for tolerance drops. All the week the weather has been highs in the mid-70s and lows in the 50s, meaning my windows have not closed. I love the crisp air at night, and it the cooler day air means I can get away with wearing shorts and a sports-bra with a fuzzy robe over it, because stylish! Accuweather says we are going to have another mild winter, which is sad, but maybe I can just leave my windows open all year and never open the heat vent.
Since I am moving into the season of darker teas, I need to get these warmer weather evoking teas reviewed! So, today I am looking at Floating Leaves Tea 2016 Baozhong – Farmer’s Choice, part of the 2016 Baozhong Sampler. Harvested back in May in PingLin, Taiwan, and made from the oh so popular Qing Xin varietal. The aroma of these fluffy leaves (I never tire of looking at Baozhong, such vivid leaves) is sweet and green, a perfect balance of lilac and honeysuckle nectar with herbaceous notes of thyme and sage. It has a very gentle nuttiness adding to the sweetness and a touch of toasted nori seaweed at the finish.
I brewed this tea in my much neglected silver dragon gaiwan, it is a problem with having so much teaware. The aroma of the leaves, which are even more emerald vibrant, is wonderfully late spring in its notes. Lilacs and honeysuckle dance with thyme and sage, but there is a creeping note of lily that starts light and increases with each sniff giving a gentle spice quality. I have a serious weakness for spicy lilies, so much so that they are probably going to be the flowers I use in my wedding. The liquid has wonderfully sweet notes of honeysuckle nectar, peony blossoms, lilacs, and a gentle note of sage and lilies with a finish of sesame seeds.
When I smell and taste a Baozhong and get a balanced blend of green and floral, I know I can settle in for a long session. So many Baozhongs I have interacted with are in the mindset of live fast and die young, and they are almost always dominated by strong flowers and no real depth. This one, however, does have depth! Notes of lilac and honeysuckle blend with gentle thyme and the herb savory (which is more green and herbaceous than actually savory, but it is often used in savory dishes so here we are) The end brings in notes of honey covered sesame seeds and a touch of chestnut with a crisp touch of zucchini in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is light and gentle, with an Oolong’s signature butteriness, just not as intense as say a Shan Lin Xi.
The second steep brings out more of the lily spicy, as well as a stronger honeysuckle quality, which I found very enjoyable. There are notes of thyme and savory, and even a gentle note of sweet snap pea adding to the crispness, these add a more summery quality to a tea that evokes springtime and blooming flowers. Towards the end there is a gentle note of basil which was awesome and blends surprisingly well with the finish of honeyed sesame seeds. The mouthfeel is similar to the first but more of it, and the aftertaste of zucchini and lilacs last even longer.
For the third steep I noticed an increase in the flowery notes as well as sweetness, at this point the green and herbaceous notes have faded to a wisp at the very end. Like walking in a late spring garden with blooming lilacs and succulent honeysuckles with a gentle bloom of spiced lilies. The aftertaste is a lingering lily sweetness with just a touch of nuttiness. This is one of the more green Baozhongs I have had and I loved it, combining the notes of fresh herbs and freshly blooming flowers is enchanting and evocative of a season which has now long passed.
Today was a dreaded day that I have been putting off way too long, it was hair dye day. The blue/teal danger floof was getting faded and my roots were super obvious, I couldn’t neglect it any longer, though let me state for the record I hate the process. I’ve never found a hair dye that didn’t make my scalp burn (doubly so for when I have to bleach) or give me a rash, but I have skin issues so it is not the dye’s fault. I recently went from vibrant teal to dark blue, especially at the roots (my hair is getting super long, even with the death hawk) so that I can get away with not bleaching the roots and only having them be super dark blue. For some reason this time the dye barely took on the roots, looks great elsewhere, so I am going to plan three, blue-black roots! It was my go-to color for years and having a slow fade from blue-black, to dark blue to teal will look super cool.
Continuing on the Floating Leaves High Mountain Oolong Sampler Adventure with a tea that I was both the most excited for and the most apprehensive about reviewing, 2016 DaYuLing High Mountain Oolong. It is one of my favorite Oolongs, but not because of its intensity of taste or rarity, no it is my favorite because it is one of the most sublime of the Oolongs. I have, in the past, compared DaYuLing to a symphony, something about it always reminds me of music, of spring breezes clearing away mountain fog in the morning, of afternoon rain. This is not a tea that simply smells and tastes like other things, it is a tea that fills my mind with memories. But there is more to this tea than esoteric navel gazing, it does have quite the aroma. Notes of sweet honey butter, sugar cane, honey suckles, lilacs, and freshly baked fluffy sweet bread blend with a wonderful light note of pineapple and hyacinth.
For this tea I decided to use my carved serpentinite gaiwan, treasure for a treasure, and my camera does not do the luminous green of the leaves credit. The aroma of the leaves reminds me of baking yeasty bread, sage, sugar cane, a distant whiff of spicebush blooming, and a finish of lettuce and light hyacinth. The liquid for the first steep is pleasantly light and delicate while being quite distinct, notes of honeysuckle and lettuce blend with sweet yeasty biscuit dough.
Holy mackerel this tea is thick, super thick and buttery. The dominant taste note is yeasty starchy biscuits with a drizzle of honey. Alongside this sweet starchy goodness are notes of flowers, honeysuckles and lilacs with a faint hyacinth note. The aftertaste and finish combine a bit of lettuce and spicebush and it lingers for quite a long while.
I should warm that while writing this I feel pretty rubbish, but the idea of leaving a blog half finished seems wrong, so hopefully reading back over this later I will make sense! Sniffing this tea is an experience, savory lettuce and bok choy with a sweet starchy bread note that I have, in the past, compared to the aroma of one of my favorite mushrooms, the Destroying Angel. Yeah, I am a weirdo, but an armchair Mycologist weirdo needs to smell mushrooms, it helps with the IDing process. I cannot say if the tea tastes like these mushrooms since tasting them would kill me, but I can say it balances savory and sweet perfectly. It is a thick steep, immensely buttery with notes of sweet honey butter, cooked bok choy and lettuce, and a bit of cooked bamboo shoots. Alongside that is a blooming finish of honeysuckle and starchy yeast heavy bread that lingers for a long while allowing me to resume my introspective navel gazing before moving on to the next steep.
There is something really magical about this tea, how the flavor notes are so delicate and yet so potent, it is amazing. The notes of honeysuckle, sweet bread, buttery lettuce, and bamboo are so clear distinct but none of them are very potent, it is beautiful in its subtlety. I was able to sit with this tea for quite a while, getting a total of twelve steeps out of it, draining every last bit of flavor from the leaves before they were complete, and let it be said I loved every minute of it. In fact, I think I am going to go have another session right now…