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Recent Tasting Notes
This tea is causing me to rethink my preference for jasmine silver needles. Most jasmine pearl teas taste more or less alike to me and often have a sharpness in the green tea base that clashes with the florals. I was pleasantly surprised with this one. The jasmine is bright and fresh, not overpowering and with no bitterness. I love the full jasmine flowers which open up and float around in the gaiwan enhancing the visual aspect of brewing.
Just a scant 2g of leaf got me 6 excellent infusions. I used 175-180 F water in a 150ml glass gaiwan starting with 1m and then adding a minute to each steep.
I’m upping my rating after trying this gongfu with more leaf and shorter steep times. Normally I don’t steep greens gongfu but it gave a nice flavor boost to an otherwise light tea. Using 3g of leaf and 10-15s steeps in 160-165 F water, it has a luscious, creamy flavor with a wisp of vanilla and a silky soft mouthfeel.
Flavors: Cream, Soybean, Vanilla
This tea needed a little tinkering to get right. It’s similar to white tea, and in order to get the best flavor you need to brew it as one. Initially, I tried steeping like a standard green tea using temperatures of 175 F and above and got a salty marine-like flavor. Eventually I discovered the best flavor came from lower brewing temperatures, between 160 – 170 F.
The dry leaf is beautiful, thin, pine needle like leaves covered in white down. Scents of soy milk, lima beans, and creamed corn. When heated, it gives off a savory aroma of cooked chard and mustard greens. The color of the tea liquor is almost clear, similar to silver needle tea. The taste is delicate and soft, with creamy soybeans in the front, light vegetable broth, and a gentle hint of chestnut in the finish. Its flavor profile resembles huang shan mao feng a lot.
This tea was a nice departure from the grassy greens I usually drink. I like a nice zippy green tea in the morning. This one isn’t brisk enough though to be a breakfast tea, but it’s low in caffeine which is great because it gives me another option for night time tea drinking.
Flavors: Cream, Lima Beans, Milk, Soybean, Vegetable Broth
Received this as a sample with my Grand Tea order. I’ve largely moved away from Tie Guan Yins in favor of Taiwanese high mountain oolongs. Still there are times when a nice flowery tea can be enjoyable.
As far as TGYs go, this is one of the best I’ve come across. The bright emerald green leaves are nearly all pristine and unbroken. It has an aroma of fragrant orchids and vanilla. The liquid is a clean, well balanced orchid flavor accented with cream and a subtle sweetness in the aftertaste. This is a very smooth tea without any astringency or off flavors. There are no vegetal notes, butter, or minerals here, it’s all about the exquisite floral taste.
I steeped 4g of this tea in 120ml using water just off the boil. After a rinse, I steeped it 8 times starting with 6s and then adding 3s to each successive infusion.
Flavors: Cream, Orchid, Smooth, Vanilla
GCTTB Round 6
Finished this one off from the GCTTB early in the week.Are you guys noticing a theme between the teas I’ve had this week? Pretty well all floral things…
I realized when I saw this one that I don’t think I’ve ever had a tisane that was all rose petals/buds and so I was curious to see how that would steep up; both colour wise and flavour wise. I imagined it’d look a little pink and then be quite potent. I was wrong on both front though…
The liquor visually was like a soft yellow hue and then flavour wise it was somewhat medium bodied? Very, very refreshing and natural tasting without even the smallest hint of perfumey levels of floral notes, or anything chemical/artificial. And I mean, you woulldn’t expect artificial because it IS all rose buds and nothing else but still mentally I was picking intense, slap you in the face rose notes. Also relatively sweet overall too, honestly.
I’m quite happy with the pick.
See my full review on Sororitea Sisters:
Flavors: Citrus, Dark Chocolate, Mineral, Roasted, Toast
I was positively surprised to taste this tea and I wasn’t expecting its strong full-bodied taste. The color of its liquor is a beautiful copper, reminding me some expensive whiskey. First thing that you’ll notice once you brew it is the clear and strong scent of roses that the leaves emanate. The smell persisted on the lid of the my gaiwan making me think about rose wood. Even if doesn’t taste woody at all the sensation of a warm wooden room is present in my mind due to the soft but persistent flavor of it’s liquor. The taste profile remain more or less the same but, maybe for a my mistake of brewing, it drop drastically of consistence after 3-4 brews and it reveals a slightly metallic flavor. Beside this it remains a very good tea perfect to give sense to a boring afternoon.
Flavors: Caramel, Rose
GABA black tea is weird. Tastes like spicy warm apple cider for the most part, with notes of hay, chocolate, dandelion, root vegetables, sourness, chocolate, ginseng, apple toffee, there’s a bit of a soapiness, alcohol, not too much complexity after the first bit. Very different from everything I’ve ever tried though. Not entirely for me, but not objectively bad. I have nothing really to compare it to.
Blog post with a whole bunch of pics:
Very good floral rose smell and flavour, and also very cheap! I recommend brewing three times to get all the different rose nuances out of the flowers. I brewed twice. 250 mL + hot water (not boiling) + 5 rose buds and left the teabag in. Then I made a cup with cold water and left it for 15 minutes. I think three cups of any temperature water would be fine.
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Herbaceous, Rose, Sweet, Vegetal
A really complex and deep, oily, juicy, thick oolong. Really really enjoyable tea, I went through stages where it reminded me of dancong, of TGY, of dahongpao, it even started out similar to taiwanese black tea, so many desserty notes leading into fruity notes, leading into floral notes. Complex and delicious, grandtea kindly sent me this sample so I did a full review on my new blog:
Very nice surprise from Grand Tea. This black tea was supposed to be a inferior quality from the classic ones of the Yunnan province but it hit me hard with his fantastic flavor!
Is basically pure liquid chocolate, a dark one, delicate black chocolate. I tries to get the most out of it and during a gong fu brewing, forcing the second infusion I could get among the cacao also a clear note of licorice. If I should find a defect, this tea is lacking a bit of complexity but surely is a lovely treat to yourself when you need something good!
Flavors: Cacao, Dark Chocolate, Licorice
I owe Grand Tea an apology, it has taken me forever to drink the sample of the Raw Pu-erh Cake- Simao 1998, and my reason is a little silly. I liked the 1999 Simao, but something that that tea and this one had in common is the smell triggered something in my brain to avoid it. Now don’t get me wrong, I liked the smell, but everything in my brain screamed ‘do not put this in your mouth’ which is an odd reaction for me (what with my strange compulsion to taste non-food things) but it happens sometimes. Usually my reaction to mushrooms (the common Agaricus bisporus, aka button mushrooms, portobello, and cremini is the main culprit) is like this, I had to retrain my brain to recognize them as food, same with yogurt and blue cheese. I decided to let the sample rest for a while before digging in, to see if the more swampy quality would mellow out. I love swamps, have spent large portions of my life playing in them, but swamp water is a microbial nightmare so maybe that is why my brain freaks out.
The minute I stuck my nose in the sample I knew I had made the right call. The aroma was not one of Swamp Thing’s basement, instead it smelled a LOT like beets. Juicy, freshly cut and slightly sweet while being rooty and earthy beets. I swear it smells so much like I just ripped a beet out of the earth, brushed the soil off, and took a bite. There is a faint note of old books and wet soil and wood, but it takes a serious backseat to the beet note. Can you tell I am really excited by the beets?
Into my baby gaiwan the compressed leaves go. When I first opened this sample months ago it had a bit of fuzz on it, said fuzz has vanished, now the leaves are dark and compressed, and could sneakily pass for a shou for those not in the know. I hit the leaves with boiling water for a rinse and gave it a flash steep for steep number one, and the aroma of the leaves is pretty fantastic. It is a blend of gentle fresh mushrooms, wet mushroom soil, a very distant note of woodsmoke, wet slate, and of course lots of beet goodness. The aroma of the liquid is sweet and earthy, with notes of mineral, beets, and a light medicinal camphor quality.
The first couple of steeps are pure undiluted beet goodness. Earthy and rooty with an intense sweetness that starts light and sugary at the first steep and is intensely sweet by the the third steep, it is like drinking a sugar beet, or a beet covered in beet sugar. The first steep is pretty much all beet all the time, but the second and third steep bring out notes of wet soil and a bit of a medicinal valerian root bitterness and wet wood. As for physical reactions, the mouthfeel is pretty light, a slight dryness at the back of the throat and sides of the mouth, and a bit of a heaviness in my limbs. One odd thing I noticed is I got a strange pressure feeling in my belly, like I had a massive burp stuck under my lower esophageal sphincter and pushing on my diaphragm. It was not necessarily uncomfortable, just weird.
On to the next several steeps, usually this would be steep four through six, but it is actually all the way through steep ten, since that is when I noticed any real change. The sweetness of the first several steeps is still present, intensely sweet beet and sugar blend with wet wood and a bit of a bitter dry cocoa, like I ate a brownie and found a pocket of unmixed cocoa powder (yes this has happened, I haven’t always been a decent baker.) The sweetness reaches its peak at steep five and stays at the same level until steep ten, with underlying shifting notes of wet wood, medicinal herbs (specifically valerian and sweet wormwood) and a bit of wet leather. The mouthfeel is light, no real intense textures except a bit of dryness at the back of the throat and sides of the mouth, creeping up the tongue as well in later steeps. That pressure in my stomach has bloomed into vague nausea and I am starting to get really hot and dizzy, but I had been battling with insomnia and my Fibromyalgia flaring up so it could be unrelated, but since these effects didn’t show up until I was drinking this tea I feel it is safe to at the very least mention it.
I went fifteen steeps with this tea, and it didn’t seemed to be finished, though by steep ten it was starting to fade, just fade very VERY slowly. I could have probably pushed this tea at least couple more steeps, but honestly I was starting to get bored. I liked the notes present in this tea, especially the beet (which was the dominant) but just because I like beets doesn’t mean I want to eat an entire bushel of them in one sitting. Even though this tea was not terribly nuanced I found myself enjoying it, I think this would be a good introductory tea for someone who wants to experience a Sheng with a bit of age on it…or someone who really likes beets!
I’m not a big green tea drinker because I do not prefer grassy “green” teas, but I actually really enjoyed this one. While it is a distinctly green tea, the flavour was very full bodied and full of tannins. I found it similar to many yellow teas I have enjoyed in the past, which seem to have a lot of flavour tannins, yet are never bitter or astringent.
First steep: 7 minutes, 90 degrees C water. Liquid was medium amber and full flavoured. Surprisingly, I noticed malt, which is the last thing I expected to find in a green tea.
Second steep: I just let the tea bag in for at least 45 minutes, cold water. Liquid had less flavour and tasted a lot like a typical green tea. I don’t recommend using cold water to brew this, but it was my only available option.
Flavors: Green, Malt, Round , Tannin
I do believe it is time to admit defeat, and then immediately yell at myself internally for calling it a defeat! Having this blog be daily has been a goal of mine since I started it, but I have never made it a month without missing at least a day, usually due to health problems but also due to electronic glitches, kettle woes, things just happen. Not being able to reach this self imposed goal has caused me more stress over the last few years than I would like to admit (because I am ridiculous) so starting in September this blog will update every other day. I am super excited about this upcoming change and I had to share!
Today I am taking a look at Grand Tea’s Yunnan Pure Gold Black Tea a beautifully fuzzy golden Dian Hong, and you all know how much I love my golden fuzzies. I wasted no time sticking my nose into the needles and enjoying the aroma. Notes of dried tomatoes, malt and cocoa blend with light yams, dry cherries and a bit of woodiness at the finish. The aroma is not too potent, fairly light and fluffy much like the leaves themselves.
Ok, I managed to stop ogling the leaves and tossed them in my gaiwan, I am always a little sad to steep the fuzzy golden leaves since they are not quite as pretty after they are doused with water. The aroma of the now soggy needles is malty and a bit rich, with accompanying notes of dried tomato, black pepper, dry oak wood (hello tannins) and dry cherries. The liquid, wow, it is super delicate and light, I almost dipped my nose trying to pick up notes. All I detected was a faint malty sweetness and a touch of cocoa.
The first steep is really quite light, but despite its lightness it is very thick in the mouth. I was quite surprised by its thickness and smooth quality, even though the taste was very light the texture kept me entertained. The front taste is delicate malt and honey, then moves to yam and peanut with a slightly lingering yam aftertaste.
So the aroma of the second steep is pretty light, but it does pick up more. Notes of gentle yam, malt, and cocoa dance in my nose as I enjoy the steam from my cup. Like the first steep, the mouthfeel is pleasantly thick and smooth, though the taste is a bit more robust this time around. It starts with a strong malt and peanut sweetness, then moves into a mellow yammy sweetness with a hint of cocoa. The finish is woody, a bit brisk, with a sweet note of honey that lingers.
On to the third steep, it is still fairly light in the aroma, with the same notes of yam, malt, and cocoa but with an extra little burst of molasses as well. This steep had a lot in common with the second steep, sweet, mellow, and very smooth. This is not a real stand out Dian Hong (granted I drink a lot…) but it is solid, I would say this is a great daily drinker with a very pretty aesthetic.
For blog and photos (I got a killer droplet photo this time): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/grand-tea-yunnan-pure-gold-black-tea.html
I tried this sample from Grand tea (thank you!) and I’m so surprised how much I liked this tea!
I brewed it on 80’C, started from 1-2 minutes, in the first infusion, to 5 minutes on the fifth and last infusion.
Just in the first infusion I can taste the floral and honey notes.
Accentuated notes but at the same time it’s delicate, sweet.
The colour of liquor is very light yellow and clear, the body of the liquor is smooth and creamy. The taste persists in the mouth for some minutes.
From the first until the third infusion is equilibrate and static, from the fourth infusion it start to lose notes.
It’s fantastic, I would so much drink this tea also in the future. I recommend it! ____
Flavors: Flowers, Honey, Sweet
Another sample from Grand Tea
This brews up a similar dark color to the Simao 1999. This one however is much more enjoyable for me. There is little storage taste and and ever so slight bitterness. The flavor is primarily earthy with slight camphor, cinnamon, and old book notes and a mild brown sugar sweetness. It’s very easy drinking and reminds me of shou but with a cleaner and more mineral taste and mouthfeel.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Camphor, Cinnamon, Mineral, Wet Earth
A free sample from Grand Tea
Fluffy and pure gold buds with a slightly sweet aroma
This is a very soft and mild black tea. Lightly sweet with slight citrus and floral notes. Light bitterness and a slight savory musty quality, a bit like yue guang bai or a silver needle. Definitely on the lower end of the oxidation spectrum for a black. The second steep has a nice thick, molasses-like quality
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Molasses, Musty
A free sample from Grand Tea
It didn’t come with brewing parameters, so I brewed it at 195F like I would an Oriental Beauty oolong as it sounds like something similar.
The dry leaves are curly and medium-small. Mostly medium brown with some redder and greener leaves and white tips. The aroma is slightly sweet and herbaceous.
It brews a light yellow-orange. It’s got a strong note of ripe, juicy peach and dried herbs; sort of mint-basil-cinnamon-spice cabinet. Slightly floral with a honeyed coriander sweetness. A very enjoyable tea, even my non-tea drinking father approved.
Flavors: Coriander, Honey, Mint, Peach, Spices
A free sample from Grand Tea
This is the oldest sheng I’ve yet to try and my first Hong Kong stored pu’erh. Brews a dark, coffee-like brown. The first steep tastes of damp earth and menthol with a sweet tangyness like beets. There is no bitterness or astringency to speak of. Also no off flavors. I hoped that the flavor would evolve with subsequent steepings, but the flavors stayed more or less the same; wet earth and beet root. While it was unoffensive, I wasn’t as impressed with this tea as I hoped I would be.
Flavors: Tangy, Wet Earth, Wet Wood
This tea was excellent for an aged tea. It was also not for the feint of heart. This was a wet stored tea. There was a strong and ever present note of wet wood in this tea. It was present in the first steep, it was present in the sixteenth steep. I did not notice any other unpleasant storage flavors. I did not notice taste of leather and tobacco for instance. It was a very smooth tea throughout all sixteen steeps I gave it. In it’s own way it developed a sweet note of sorts. Not in any way the apricots of a young sheng though. I liked this tea. As to qi, I may be feeling a little, but it is not a tea with powerful qi like a Yangqinghao tea. It is a long lasting tea. I steeped it sixteen times. And all indications are it would have gone five or ten more steeps. However I can’t allow myself that much caffeine. I liked this tea when I do not like a lot of aged teas. I think this one fairly well aged provided you don’t mind the wet storage taste. It was not too powerful but was always present.
I steeped this tea sixteen times in a 50ml gaiwan with 4.4g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, 2.5 min, 3 min, 3.5 min, and 4 min. I would recommend this tea for people not averse to wet storage taste. This managed to be a smooth tea despite this taste.
Flavors: Wet Wood
So, it is probably not a secret, what with my occasional rambling on Instagram and my constant painting of various undead things…I want to be a necromancer. When I was a kid I brought the class hamster back to life, so clearly I have the talent for it, and just think of all the use you can get out of well trained (and clean) zombies? They can carry things, do the cleaning you don’t want to do, there are so many uses, plus it is like recycling and who doesn’t want to help the environment? Of course what kind of tea would a necromancer want to drink?
The obvious answer is Puerh, specifically one that has some age on it, doubly so for a traditional Hong Kong stored one. So that brings me nicely to today’s tea, Grand Tea’s Raw Pu-erh Cake-Simao 1999. The reason I say this is the tea that necromancers drink is two-fold, first this kind of tea has some sweet microbial action going on thanks to being in a wetter climate, a lot of ‘wet’ stored pu can have a bit of fuzzy mold (I didn’t see any on my sample) and it certainly speeds up the fermentation. Blame Magic The Gathering and my penchant for loving the Golgari (hello green black mushroom zombies) but that is where my head goes. The other reason is the smell, the aroma of this tea is like deep earth, wet cave, a bit of swamp, wet books, wet decomposing wood, leaf mould, and mushrooms. It smells like the kind of place a necromancer would hang out, I love the smell, though I admit my brain did this whole ‘wait, you are going to consume this’ moment, which was a bit funny.
Gaiwan time, I am using my baby Sheng gaiwan since I am always leery of a new Sheng Pu hurting my guts, though supposedly the older and wetter the easier it is, so maybe the tiny gaiwan was unnecessary. After a rinse and first steep, the leaves have opened a bit. The aroma us potent stuff! Strong notes of beets, leather, wet earth, old wet wood…and a bit of swamp and medicinal roots. Specifically a bit like Valerian root or one of those nasty TCM blends I drink when I have a nasty cold, it is pleasantly pungent. The liquid is sweetly medicinal, pungent roots mixed with a touch of the herb sweet annie, there are also old books, wet cypress, and a bit of wet leaves.
The first steep is surprisingly sweet, like wet wood, sweet annie, wet leather, wet leaves, and swamp. The real standout thing from the first steep is its incredibly thick mouth and long lingering aftertaste. For the real party you need to go to the next couple of steeps where it ramps up in intensity. Strong bitter medicinal roots, beets, and wet wood with a sweetness that shows up at the finish and lingers for a bit.
Steeps in the middle are something else, I feel like I am going spelunking! It tastes like cave, and roots, and fermented soy beans. It starts to have a tiny bit of a savory quality and a thick almost oily mouthfeel. I feel as though every inch of my mouth has become a cave and this is some sort of transcendent communication with bio-luminescent fungi. It tastes old and wet, it is pretty fun!
The final steeps (and that is many steeps later) it takes a while for the medicinal bitterness to fade back to sweetness, and even the sweetness reminds me a bit of medicinal herbs and the sweetness of wet leather. There is a savory quality of mushrooms and fermented soy beans, along with wet leaves and old books. I can see this being an acquired taste, it is very earthy and wet, conveniently I love the taste of caves and deep soil, wet wood and swamp…I spent a large chunk of my younger days playing in a swamp and playing in the dirt, so this tea evokes a lot of nostalgia for me.
This Rose bud tea is a great herbal alternative for the evening. I love floral teas and this one is elegant rose with a sweet finish. It’s pretty pricey for a herbal tea and compared to other companies that have rose bud tea. I’d like to try out rose bud tea from some other companies too but this one is really good.