Floating Leaves TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
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
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
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
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
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
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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
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
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
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
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/
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/
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/
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
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 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 Jin Xuan 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 it 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