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Recent Tasting Notes
Snuck in a session with this Wild Blueberry Leaf this morning, a tisane from Georgia that has been processed as if it was black tea!! I have to admit that the dry leaf visual is impressively close looking and, were I not actively looking for differences, I definitely would have assumed this was Camellia Sinensis!! Steeped it was interesting as the liquor wasn’t as full bodied and tannic as “true tea,” though still more thick and round on the palate than the average tisane by quite a lot. I would describe the taste as subtly mineral yet sweet, with a fresh petrichor earthiness that made me think of rain water and dew. It was also fruity in a way reminiscent of wild blueberries, with their more subtle and muted notes and that sort of floral undertone – I quite enjoyed how those quiet (yet not dull) notes coupled with the earthiness. Made me think of foraging for berries in the still, quiet hours of the morning when everything is still cool and crisp outside!!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CtHwcTFOao4/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqIAr4uOSwc
This was our last tea of the guided tasting – it’s also Lincang material so Geoff had pulled it for us to compare with the sheng we had just finished tasting made using the same material. It was my favourite of the three teas served. From steep one I found it so aromatic and flavourful with rich notes of spices and jammy red fruits. Those red fruit notes only got increasingly more potent with an almost over ripe pungency and tangy quality to them. Plums, red apples, pomegranate molasses, and tamarind. Actually, lots and lots of tamarind. Maybe even a bit of a tomato-y kind of umami explosion with both sweetness and a sort of acidity.
I really wanted to pick some of this up after our tasting, but the shop was sold out of sample sizes and only had full 200g cakes left. At $265 for a cake, the price was a little steep for me considering this was only the second tea shop we’d visited on a list of over a dozen, so I passed on the cake. In hindsight I really regret that because I’m still drooling thinking about this tea, and unfortunately it looks like it’s now sold out in the week since this tasting – at least according to their website…
This was the second tea brewed for us during our O5 tasting. To be honest, I found the first two steeps to be somewhat forgettable tasting however I did really like the thick yet smooth texture of the liquor. The later steeps were more to my taste with a mineral woodiness alongside peachy fruity notes and a little bit of a floral lychee kind of undertone. I’ve been loosely interested in Lincang as a region lately, so I did appreciate getting to add another lincang production to my Rolodex of teas I’ve tried.
What was really interesting to me was that my mom, who generally HATES pu’erh, actually really liked this one. In fact, it was her favourite of the three and I think actually one of her favourites teas she tried of the whole trip. If I genuinely thought she’d have brewed it for herself I probably would have picked some up for her, but instead I think it’s best for me to make a mental note that she might have more of an interest in similar sheng to this so I can brew something like it for her when I visit later in the summer.
One of the activities we did on our first full day was a tea tasting at O5 with the store manager Geoff. We pretty much gave him free range to pick out any teas he wanted to brew for us, with the exception of green teas which we asked to avoid.
This was the first of three teas served. For each tea we had four steeps brewed for us. My mom really doesn’t like pu’erh (shou in particular) so this was a challenge for her to start off with. However, I think Geoff did a really excellent job with picking out a shou that I would enjoy (as a more seasoned shou drinker) but that would also be really approachable for my mother. Very, very smooth liquor without really any obvious fermentation notes at all. I would describe it as a “clean earthiness” with a bit of a sharper top note that made me think a lot of roasted chicory root. Also just a bit of an interesting greener/under ripe banana note which I’ve observed before in some other Yiwu shou productions I’ve tried.
Overall this was my second favourite of the three teas served, and I did end up picking up a small sample size of this for myself too – it’s very accessible, and I could see it making for a really excellent grandpa style option for work days.
A friend spent some of the last few months in BC and was kind enough to bring back some teas for our lab team to try, including this one. I haven’t tried much from O5 – someday I’ll get out there in person though.
This honestly smelled amazing – the type of dry leaf aroma that immediately resonated with me enough I would probably blind buy a considerable amount of this if I were to have been smelling it in shop. It was dark and sweet with woody notes mixed with aromas of red wine, syrupy stewed red fruits, and dark chocolate.
We steeped it up in a cupping set so that a bunch of us could all try it, but I feel like it would be just blissful gongfu. It wasn’t quite a rich as the dry leaf aroma but I’m sure that was in part due to the steep method we chose. The liquor was thick and full bodied with smooth notes of syrupy candied cranberry, sweet red wine, leather, peanuts, and maple wood. So many of my favourite black tea flavours were present that it was basically impossible to not get immediate heart eyes sipping on my small tasting cup that we’d split between the five of us.
Sipping this in a mug as well. Tart and tannic. Cranberries, honey, a faint woodsy undertone. Subsequent sips, the sticky honey note gets stronger. After some thought on it, I agree ‘maple’ probably works, but I wouldn’t have thought about it if I hadn’t scanned the description first.
As it cools, it gets a bit more oaky woodsy. And an acidic taste that sits on the back of the tongue, and maybe vanilla as I exhale.
Flavors: Cranberry, Honey, Maple, Wood
I’ll always spring for trying my black teas gongfu, but I always enjoy them better in a mug. Waste of leaf or not.
I got a dry cocoa immediately, subsequent sips sweetening it to a dark chocolate. There are subsequent notes that remind me of Sri Lankan blacks. Right off the tasting notes, oak is there. Sweet woodsy. Fruit… Not quite. Maybe within the cocoa. A sweet nuttyness that reminds me of Keemuns, but without the smoke. A baked sweet potato taste, more than fruit. With the slightest floral aroma when I breath out?
Flavors: Cocoa, Oak, Sweet Potatoes
I got a sample of this tea, the first Balhyocha I’ve ever tried, in Vancouver’s amazing O5 tea bar. The tea reminds me a lot of Oriental Beauty with its very fragrant and nectar-like quality, but it’s not as sickly and I find it more woody.
The aromas that this tea presents are a mix of fruits and wood. There are notes of cocoa, stone fruits, papaya, and orange. The taste has a similar character, with more of floral sweetness in the finish and aftertaste. The body is full and the mouthfeel smooth and thick.
I liked it, but I wish the tea lasted for a longer time both in terms of the steep count and the aftertaste.
Flavors: Cocoa, Floral, Nectar, Orange, Stonefruit, Sweet, Tropical, Wood
This FF Darjeeling smells a lot like dried herbs. It has aromas of courgette flowers, grass, hay, thyme, citrus zest and there is also a subtle sweet spiciness in the dry leaf scent. When wet, further notes of garden peas, acacia flowers, and sage emerge.
The taste is savoury and slightly bitter with a lemon sourness in the finish. There are flavours of green wood, courgette, clear smoke, orchid, sweet grass and others. Aftertaste is also somewhat vegetal and floral, but much more on the sweeter rather than sour & bitter side of the spectrum. I get hints of various spices, vanilla, and cocoa powder, among other fleeting flavours.
Overall, I find the tea to be quite balanced and dynamic at the same time, which is not that common. It is worth noting that it is very much on the green side with little oxidation, even for a FF Darjeeling.
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus Zest, Cocoa, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Garden Peas, Grass, Green Wood, Hay, Herbs, Orchid, Pleasantly Sour, Sage, Smoke, Spices, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Thyme, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal, Zucchini
This is an unusual FF Darjeeling in the sense that it doesn’t have a very distinctive aroma. However, it makes up for that with a very nice texture. The taste is strong and delightful, but again not very complex.
Today I prepared it gong fu style with 2.5g in a small gaiwan. The dry leaves smell of citrus, custard, and chicken meat, while the wet leaves have a floral, woody aroma with a thistles like character. Taste is a mix of citrusy, grassy, bitter, and umami flavours. There is very little astringency. It has quite a herbaceous aftertaste. Liquor has an extremely smooth, oily, and mouth-watering mouthfeel, which is the highlight of the session for me.
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Custard, Grass, Meat, Smooth, Thick, Umami
During my recent visit of Vancouver, I checked out the O5 tea house. They have a very interesting bar like setup. It is pretty cool, although I guess personally, I would prefer to be able to prepare the tea myself. I also grabbed a few samples of the teas they source, in particular two Korean ones and two FF Darjeelings.
This Sejak can be characterized as having a light aroma, but strong flavour. The smell is medicinal/herbal with notes of green peas and gardenia flowers. I found the taste to be similar to Anji Bai Cha, but more robust with some bitterness, floral and creamy qualities. Unfortunately, the texture is not very noteworthy. However, the tea has an impressive longetivity for a green tea.
Flavors: Bitter, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Garden Peas, Gardenias, Herbaceous, Medicinal
I’ve had this in my cupboard for a while. It’s a weird tea. It’s dark, intriguing, smooth, peaty and fermented like a weirdly fruity shu. The smell is like nothing I’ve ever really smelt in tea before—overripe fruit, maybe?
The tasting notes say ‘oak’ and I get what they mean by that; a drier black tea note, slightly bright, lingers on the back of the tongue. Honey not so much… Three is an overhanging sweetness, definitely more fruity. Not floral. Like the fruit notes of lapsang. Drop fruit? I’m not sure the term.
I gave this one a few steeps (~20-30 seconds) and later steeps felt thicker, raisin/juicy fruits with a subtle sour note. Thirdish steep the overripe fruit sensation was strong; sweet and wine/alcoholic almost when I breathed out. Slurping sort of brought about a more honeyed sensation; not quite floral. Warming.
Flavors: Alcohol, Fruity, Honey, Oak, Peat, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins
The taste is unique and very calming. The broth is very light but also slightly viscous or thick in the mouth if only a little. There is weight to the broth which douses the tongue full of nostalgic memories of night skies. The taste is very balanced and round. The aroma is very flowery and somewhat dewy like grass in the early morning. This tea brings me a sense of calm.
Flavors: Anise, Floral, Flowers, Perfume
Gorgeous cake, mix of leaves and buds that alternate between being almost white to a dark olive color. Medium compression, I think (I haven’t had much experiences with cakes yet, but it seemed pretty middle of the road), with the ability to break off some nice full leaves.
Recommend western steeping over gong fu, but y’all feel free to do your own thing. My default was 3g tea for 240ml water (8oz), 3 minutes the first steep and then add a minute to both steeps 2 and 3. That being said, I went as high as 9g for 240ml, and while it was a bit intense, it never developed any astringency.
For Gong Fu I tried 6g in 100ml, still at 175F, but for one reason or another I could never get it dialed in. As I really dug the western steeps, I eventually abandoned the attempts.
Flavors: Apricot, Hay, Honey, Licorice, Raspberry
I smelled this one in the shop in Vancouver and was like yes. It smelled a lot like a laoshan black in store, but since I am still in vancouver visiting family I don’t have my teawares here, I’m brewing in my mom’s .. one of those all in one gongfu pitchery things, with unfiltered vancouver water at who knows what temperature, off-boil.
O5 is a bit weird, they have their tea bar as the main focus, where you sit and pay for a session that they make for you, and then also sell the teas in tins. The problem is that the tins are prepackaged in 40 and 80g tins, this is the second one I’ve gotten now, and this one was really broken leaf compared to what I saw in the stuff they would’ve used at the bar.
It was a little upsetting, however my package smelled just like those truffle chocolates, and so I wasn’t as upset.
thick, decadent taste, cinnamon or nutmeg, plus this sugary sweetness, maple and earth
It’s weird, the second steep is quite a bit mustier, still sweet, earth? I don’t know. all of that. A little dry and bitter too. Lingering aftertaste of something similar to .. I don’t know, like dragonfruit or something. It’s familiar and I can remember eating it but it was when my dad brought home some weird fruit for us to try when I was young…
I lose a lot of body in the third, very thin and light and musty and dry. Some chocolate.
4: sort of a minty chocolate covered in dirt
5: It’s almost flavourless? I don’t know man. kind of generic root vegetables, and darker sweet fruits
6: sorta stewish, more muddy, chocolatey, thick with this cooling sensation
7: bad. thin, beany, medicinal weird.. stale feeling
8: pretty much the same
It’s a familiar flavour profile, some good moments, I appreciate the dynamic flavours, overall it was decent.
Happy new year guys :) Here’s to some good harvests this year!
I.. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to review this because I wasn’t really in the mood for writing but then I smelled the aroma in the warmed gaiwan and It’s this incredibly distinct and unique aroma, it has like this gummy blueberry aroma, but there’s also this.. shellfishy thing and it’s wonderful I’m so excited.
Anyways this isn’t on the website, it’s a taiwanese black tea, from Yuchi Township. O5 describes the flavour as “spun sugar | fruit”
https://www.instagram.com/p/BMLGpufDRsa/?taken-by=mackie_tealife&hl=enThe wet leaf has a very burnt, charcoal aroma, with some raisin and dates,
Oh wow it is incredibly sugary, and like cotton candy, with lovely malt and cherry, orange, and like stawberry ice cream,
The second steep is super different, like the strawberry ice cream is still there, but it’s more cocoa, milkiness, woody,
I get like a deep raisin loaf in the third steep, maybe even acai and like lemon, a bit of cocoa, some tangerine.
Fourth is more malty, rye bread, buttery, maybe like chocolate covered raisins, it is very dry, that could be more .. me. I haven’t eaten in a while and my mouth was a bit weird before starting this, some lingering acidity in the aftertaste.
I get cooked apple and cinnamon in the 5th, honey, malt.
I get the same apple, but it’s a bit fresher, no cinnamon, it invades a bit into the aroma, not much else in that one.
It’s becoming like milky apple cider.. Why are all these teas milky all of the sudden lol I’m starting to think I might be crazy. I think this one’s creamier than the other milkies.
I also got some cerealy grains later, it’s like drinking cereal with milk :DThis was wonderful. Genuinely, super tastey, super interesting, I highly recommend. Also O5 is a really cool shop, check them out if you’re ever in Vancouver!
First time trying this oolong from Korea in its Spring 2015 version. This is a new universe for me. The dry leaves smell nutty and remind me of high quality chocolate with a high cacao concentration. The wet leaves smell sweet with a hint of wood bark and blond tobacco leaf. The first infusion was really special with a very powerful cacao note that is very dark and has some sweetness to it, some clover honey at the end. Very long tasting note in mouth after this. This tea stays with you a while. The second infusion developed some white flower surrounded by cacao notes still. The sweetness slightly disappeared to give place to some green leaves of raspberry. the soup is orange and clear. the third infusion has some more oak honey this time and drifts on blond tobacco leaves and some spices developing very light clove and some freshness appearing at the end of the sip.
Flavors: Bark, Cacao, Honey
Brewing korean greens in japanese teapots. What a world.
Worked out fittingly, since the first note I get is seaweed. It’s not bitter, but I was pretty careful about the water. Seaweed with something else vegetal. Definitely not sweet, and it tapers into a very mineral aftertaste.
Drinking a Shui Xian tonight from O5tea.
This is heavily roasted, tons of mineral notes, and a little drying. I think it’s too much for me. I don’t mind heavily oxidized, and this isn’t really smoky – it’s more of a burned taste. Will try a few more steeps and see if it mellows, but at this point, not my favourite.
ETA: Steeps 5 and 6 are much softer and more to my taste, but this still isn’t my fav oolong.
First tea from my new O5 order. Pedro sent so many amazing teas. Eeeeeee! So excited.
So this one is lovely. Smells like apricots and other fruits. There’s a smidge of bitterness once in awhile, and ooooomg… nice Qi. I’m feeling a little woo. And maybe a little woo. Of happiness. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!