Floating Leaves Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

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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82

Sipdown from August 2017 :

I really liked this cold brewed. Cucumber, sweet, thick, melon. I need to order from Floating Leaves again because I’ve really enjoyed their teas.

I stopped reviewing teas here in the last 6 months. Often I was drinking, but not recording any notes. Maybe I’ll do better in the new year? It’s definitely gotten me through the holiday season. My brother asked for some tea for Christmas so I sampled from my stash – gotta spread the tea love – plus it’s an easy way for a newbie to sample a large amount of teas at once.

Flavors: Cucumber, Melon, Sweet, Thick

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82

4.5g/gravity steeper/195-200F
2 min – floral, clean – no off flavors, gets sweeter and thicker as it cools; 2nd and 3rd steeps were repeats of first steep.

Flavors: Floral, Sweet, Thick

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70

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

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

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87

GCCTB

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.

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90
drank Red Peony by Floating Leaves Tea
10 tasting notes

This tea is as delicious as it is unique. This tea is made from ruby 18 varietal leaves, and processed as a white tea. The tea is smooth, sweet, and a little bit minty. I brewed it gong fu style and enjoyed every steep.

Flavors: Mint

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C

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72

Here is another oolong that I have rested for a little while. 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. I could definitely appreciate this tea, but I found myself wishing at numerous points that the sweeter, fruitier, more floral qualities would have provided 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

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

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98

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

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

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drank Red Peony by Floating Leaves Tea
1261 tasting notes

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/

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 1 g 1 OZ / 20 ML
McNally

You’ve piqued my interest on this one! Thanks for the great review.

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91

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

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

Ugh. Long boring days at work are the worst!!! gamify everything haha

Evol Ving Ness

Sorry that your job does not spark whatever needs sparking within you. Soul-destroying stuff. Hope something better is coming your way.

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90

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

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

Four seasons need more love. I’ve either had really fruity ones or really flat, floral grassy ones.

eastkyteaguy

I haven’t had many myself, but the few I’ve had I’ve really liked. I also think baozhongs and jade oolongs need more love. Muzha Tieguanyin and traditional Dong Dings could use a little more attention too. I am about at the point where my interest in Taiwanese oolongs tends to lie mostly outside of the high mountain teas. I like them, but good ones tend to be so pricey.

eastkyteaguy

Oh, and by the way, I’ve noticed the same thing with four seasons. The one I had prior to this one was over-the-top fruity. It was a random sample. I have no clue where it was from, so I didn’t bother reviewing it. This one is both very floral and very grassy, but there’s some other stuff going on too. I’m beginning to find that some of Floating Leaves’ less expensive teas (their four seasons, Jin Xuan,and big leaf) are worthwhile. I think I got this one for $4.50 plus shipping. It was definitely worth it.

Daylon R Thomas

Awesome. It sounds like it. I loved the crap out of the Jade sampler Floating leaves had and really enjoyed the Dong Sing. As for now,Alistair is mixing in some similar varietals in my next What-Cha order, a Thailand Ruan Zhi and a Vietnam #12.5 mix between a Jin Xuan and a Cui Yu. He wrote that they might be good everyday teas, and I can’t wait to see how they hold up against Taiwan oolongs.

Daylon R Thomas

Dong Ding
Curse bad typing

eastkyteaguy

I have yet to try their jade Dong Ding. I know it tends to get strong reviews here and elsewhere. I’ll probably spring for it and the charcoal roasted Dong Ding the next time I order from them. I have samples of the Thailand Ruan Zhi and the Vietnam #12.5, but I haven’t tried them yet.

Daylon R Thomas

Nifty. :) I look forward to seeing how they compare for you.

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77

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

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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65

Very strong jasmine scent, but a delicate jasmine flavour.
Brews to a very pale liquor, with a slightly visous mouth feel.

Flavors: Floral, Jasmine

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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74

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

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

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