Old Ways TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I had to dig through my review notebook for this one. I knew I had a few reviews from July that I still needed to post, and this was one of them. I think I finished what I had of this tea around the end of the month, but I could be wrong as it’s been a while. I do know that I found this tea to be on par with Old Ways Tea’s 2016 Huang Guan Yin, perhaps just a little bit better.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cream, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry that were accompanied by subtle scents of cinnamon and plum. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, roasted almond, rose, and roasted grain as well as a subtle scent of smoke. The first infusion introduced a slight earthiness to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, roasted peanut, and roasted grain that were balanced by hints of cinnamon, mushroom, smoke, earth, roasted almond, and rose. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of dark wood, grass, charcoal, and roasted beechnut as well as subtler scents of roasted hazelnut, malt, and strawberry. Notes of black cherry, minerals, grass, charcoal, dark wood, plum, roasted beechnut, roasted hazelnut, and brown sugar appeared in the mouth along with slightly stronger rose and roasted almond notes and hints of green olive, malt, tar, and strawberry. As the tea faded, the liquor took on stronger malty and earthy characteristics while also emphasizing notes of minerals, cream, roasted peanut, grass, and roasted grain that were balanced by hints of green olive, roasted hazelnut, roasted almond, blueberry, and brown sugar.
This was such an interesting and complex tea. Compared to the 2016 offering, this tea struck me as being both fruitier and nuttier. It also offered some unexpected twists and turns over the course of my gongfu session. It was very satisfying and struck me as a truly excellent offering, but I could also see it not being for everyone.
Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Wood, Earth, Grain, Grass, Hazelnut, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nutty, Olives, Peanut, Plums, Raspberry, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Strawberry
No rating, so far.
Grandpa, 2 grams, almost boiling water.
Is it too hot? Not enough leaves? Answer for both is nope. It was awesome tea! So smooth. And taste? Well hard to describe actually, it reminded me cream, but with wood and wet forest. Bit of minerality was there too. Astringency? Yep, but just a little bit.
Autumn tea. At least for me.
Derk; I have waited for good weather for this tea. And as it is typical autumn; wet, cloudy, rainy, unpleasant weather, I think it was just perfect. THANK you a lot for this experience!
Gongfu Sipdown (706)!
A mid afternoon session – really pleasant, decidedly somewhere in the middle (experience/taste wise) of all the other Old Ways Teas I’ve tried thus far. I did have this same tea type, I believe, not too long ago from Lazy Cat though – and if my memory isn’t totally failing me I liked the one from Lazy Cat a bit more than this one.
I don’t remember the steep count – but, like the Lazy Cat one, I brewed this out…
Dry leaf aroma is intense – smells of heavy roast accented w/ sharp grass notes!! Steeps up bold & takes a beat to soften/mellow out but then has a complex profile of grilled/roasted nuts, sweeter peanut brittle, full bodied roast, minerality, greener undertones and hints of orchid, slight cinnamon notes in the finish and… herbaceous and slightly creamy dill!?!?
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rmZPJA3Py0
(OBSESSED with this band – been listening to them nonstop all week…)
(From my backlog)
Tasted during the Labor Day holiday in America.
I’m very happy with the teas from Old Ways Tea that I’ve picked up. This is a 2008 Aged Da Hong Pao that’s been re-roasted a few times.
There’s deep roasted flavors of tobacco, burnt wood, and smoke; lighter flavors of chocolate and coffee with milk; then it rounds out with High notes of vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel. Early infusions were interesting — tobacco followed by the cooling effect of mint (without any mint)
It’s very well balanced and robust. The roasted flavors don’t overwhelm the palate. It’s super smooth to drink with a surprisingly light viscosity and clean finish.
The cold brew of this tea is just as tasty.
Tea amount: 5 grams for HOT
Temp: 200 F
Brewing times: 20,30,30, 45, 60
Cold Brew: 3 grams
Water: 300 ml of water
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Chocolate, Coffee, Cream, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wood
I’m catching up on my tea reviews.
I like trying different teas that might not be in my preferred flavor profile.. Trying different things is an exercise in growth. It lets you understand WHY you like something, appreciation for those differences, as well as teaching that differences aren’t bad. Just like life.
This tea is not in my preferred flavor profile (i.e. I do not enjoy very strong smokey/roasted flavors such as lapsong souchong), but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was a good look into how you can really make something balance out without overwhelming the palette with a single flavor …..I’m looking at you, micro-breweries, that make IPAs too damn hoppy!
Flavors: Smoke/Roast/Charcoal followed by a mild sweetness of cooked stone fruit (apricot? peach?). The smokey/roasted/charcoal notes is ALMOST overpowering but is countered by the sweet of of the fruit. It’s a viscous liquid that coats the tongue with little to no astringency. It has a very clean finish.
For anyone who enjoys the smokey roasted flavors, this is a really good tea to try. This tea brings those out without overwhelming the drinker, giving them a good look at how these flavors can be balanced out.
Tea: 5.02 grams
Water: 150 ml
Temp: 200-201 F
Brewing time: 20-20-30-45
Vessel: Porcelain Gaiwan
Flavors: Roasted, Smoke, Stonefruits
Upon opening the pack, I tried to discern aromas from the dry leaf. There was a faint hint of floral (maybe rose) and a dry, roasted scent. A warmed gaiwan brought out these smells a bit better.If I had only drank the first infusion, I would have passed on this tea. It has a roasted flavor - almost burnt wood mixed with sweet grass -- with a decent body, and a “roughness” around the tongue that I wasn’t sure that I liked. There are very “smooth” teas to drink and this wasn’t one of them. However, it has a decent body, a mild viscosity, and very little astringency that made up for the roughness. Perhaps the 20s infusion was too long? Perhaps it needed a wash? Or perhaps it needed a lower temp?
However, I was committed to seeing this tea out.
Subsequent infusions changed my mind about this tea. Infusions #2+ smoothed out the roughness of the initial infusion. The milder flavors of sweet grass / florals come out to play alongside the roast. While still not as smooth to drink as some other teas, the ‘roughness’ evens out and counterbalances the sweet grass/florals. The tea broth remains consistent in color, body, flavor, and viscoscity, and I was able to get a fair number of infusions out of it.
When I drink this, it has an extremely mild cha qi. I felt the warmth going down my throat and expanding in my chest, and finally in my head. It’s short-lived but there.
Are there better teas out there? Yes.
But for the price @ $0.19 USD / gram, it’s a helluva bargain.
If you need a tea that’s decent, but you don’t really have time for a full session, are traveling, drinking your tea on-the-go, or want a decent enough tea without breaking the bank, consider this tea. For the price, it’s worth checking out.
General Brewing info:
Rinse: I did not do a first wash as I did not think this tea needed it.
tea amount: 5.05 grams (entire pack)
water: 150 ml
general water temp (F): 199-204
Brewing times (seconds): 20-20-30-45-60-90….
Color: orange amber
Flavors: Floral, Sweet, warm grass
A very lazy morning always requires tea and I wanted to do a tasting session with a new-to-me tea. However, I think I made a mistake with this morning’s selection.
Lao Cong Shui Xian tea from Old Ways Tea is NOT a morning tea. My very first cup hit me full in the face…..
This tea is like an old growth forest where the trees are ancient and the moss & lichen growing on them are just “old”. This is a Tea you enjoy in the late afternoon when you sit down to reflect on life and write down your memoirs. It’s that single cask whiskey that’s aged in that one barrel, forgotten about, then found a dozen decades later.
This is what I’d imagine mahogany to taste like — complex flavors but with a mellowness that doesn’t bog down the taste and keeps you from sinking too far into the complexity.
This tea will GROUND YOU. This tea will tell you about it’s long life as a tea tree starting with the present day as an ancient tree, then with each subsequent steep goes into the past about its mid life then its beginnings as a sapling then take you back full circle. Wow.
The cha Qi is slow moving. At first, almost imperceptible, then filling your head like a water fountain while keeping your feet rooted to the ground.
The dry leaf of this tea smells like dry roasted peanuts and wood.
The wet leaf has high notes of stone fruit & sweet grass.
The liquid smells of fresh air and leaves.
The broth itself is the taste of old forest/mahogany. It is thick and viscous on first sip and coats the tongue before sliding effortlessly down your throat. There’s no earthy taste in this tea; it’s all about the tree, wood, and forest.
By the second steep, I felt a warmth building in my chest with a quiet sense of calmness.
By the third steep, the cha Qi hit my head like tree branch on the head.
Subsequent steeps just built on top of that.
Everything just feels calm and collected. Despite it being early morning, I’m ready to take a nap. This is not a tea you drink on a daily basis. (I mean, you can, but it’s about $0.85 / gram) This is a tea you drink when you want something special, when you have time to savor it, and or when you want to experience it with friends.
STEEP INFO (Each pack is about 8 grams)
Tea: 5.06 grams of tea.
Water: 200F/150 ml.
Steep times (in seconds) :20,30,40,60,90,…
I cold brewed 2.85 grams in 350 ml of cold water. It’s just as good as the hot broth
Flavors: Roasted nuts, Sweet, warm grass, Wood
With this review, I am finally moving on to a tea I finished earlier this month. Looking over my rough draft of this review reminded me that the Rou Gui oolongs offered by Old Ways Tea always do it for me. I am not a huge Rou Gui fan, but I have been impressed by every Rou Gui from Old Ways Tea that I have tried. This tea did not even come close to breaking that trend. I found it to be yet another very enjoyable Rou Gui.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of charcoal, smoke, red wine, pine, black cherry, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, star anise, blackberry, and earth as well as some subtle grassy scents. The first infusion introduced suddenly amplified earth and cinnamon aromas as well as a pleasant ginger scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, pine, black cherry, roasted almond, smoke, and charcoal that were balanced by hints of red wine, earth, grass, pear, orange zest, and blackberry. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of minerals (almost like mineral water), orange zest, black raspberry, and pomegranate as well as even stronger earthy aromas and some somewhat amplified grassy scents. More earth and grass notes came out in the mouth alongside subtle impressions of roasted peanut, ginger, and star anise. I also picked up on slightly stronger blackberry notes, subtle notes of black raspberry, and impressions of minerals, pomegranate, peach, orange zest, rock sugar, and apricot. The previously noted hints of red wine morphed into a flavor akin to that of red table grapes, while some unexpected notes of roasted barley also appeared. Though it may sound odd, I even picked up on some fleeting notes of peat and dark chocolate in the aftertaste. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, roasted barley, roasted peanut, roasted almond, earth, and pine that were balanced by suddenly emerging popcorn notes and hints of charcoal, orange zest, grass, pomegranate, blackberry, red grape, cinnamon, and black cherry.
This was an extremely challenging yet enjoyable Wuyi Rou Gui oolong. Teas of this type have a tendency to be very earthy, nutty, spicy, and heavy with prominent charcoal and smoke aromas and flavors, but this one was often more delicate, and it was always changing. The flavors had a tendency to suddenly mutate into something else, often while shifting in intensity. Throughout my review session, I could not shake the feeling that this tea was challenging me to keep up with it, and quite frankly, I am not certain I was always up to the task. That should be obvious in the description of its aromas and flavors I provided in the above paragraph. I quickly reached a point where all I could do was settle in for the ride and try not to think too hard about what was going on with this tea. Ultimately, I guess I picked it apart the best I could, but this tea very well may have withstood my probing without giving up all of its secrets and charms. In the end, I loved what I was able to get out of this tea and relished the challenge it presented, but I feel that it may be a bit too much for those new to Wuyi Rou Gui. Definitely try some of Old Ways Tea’s other Rou Gui offerings before moving on to this tea or one of their other higher end Rou Gui.
Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apricot, Blackberry, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Ginger, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Peat, Pine, Popcorn, Raspberry, Red Apple, Red Wine, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar
I bought a sampler set as I was curious and I just happened to like the name of it.
Dry leaf aroma from bag: It’s a lovely sent of roasted oolong with hit of herbal medicine. I really love this smell. It reminds me of my grandfather’s tea cabinet.
Leaf in warmed gaiwan: There’s a hint of sweetness — fruits & florals — with that smokey charcoal scent.
Wet leaves: High notes of sugar & fruit (peach?). Deeper notes of roasted charcoal. As the steeps increase, the high notes become more prominent.
Brew times: 60s, 75s, 90… I was able to do about 4-5 steeps before I felt the tea gave out. YMMV with brew times & water temps.
Water temps: 196 – 200 deg F
(Since this was a roasted WuYi oolong, I felt comfortable brewing it at a higher temp and longer steep time than a Dan Cong oolong.)
Color: It starts of a deep rich red amber, but decreases in color/intensity with each subsequent steep until it was about a mid-orange amber.
Tea broth: This is an extremely easy tea to drink. It starts off slightly sweet which counteracts the mild bitterness that follow on the tail end; it’s fairly balanced. It’s got a medium-body at the first steep and drops of with subsequent steeps (which I attribute to my longer steep times and extracting most of the flavors)
The flavors of this tea aren’t complex, but they are well balanced and gives you enough to enjoy the tea without feeling like it’s missing something (which I find often happens). There’s a mild tongue drying after drinking the tea, but it’s pleasant as it also causes a mild watering on the tongue. There’s also a very mild cha qi in the mouth & throat that is refreshing.
Honestly, it reminds me of my grandfather’s tea, so there’s a bit of nostalgia at play here.
I would NOT brew this Grandpa style as I think it might get very bitter over time.
Overall, I think this would make an excellent travel tea to have in your valise. It’s got enough flavor to be enjoyable but not so complex that you need to sit there and think about what you just drank. The small pre-sized packets are handy for traveling (although not convenient if you want loose leaf tea.)
The pack comes in 8 grams. I brewed up 5 grams and will be using 3 grams in a cold brew.
Flavors: Fruity, Roasted, Sweet
Folks, here is my final review of the day. This was another of my July sipdowns. Some of you may recall that I was extremely impressed by the 2016 version of this tea, and once I dug through my sample stash to find this offering, I was excited to try it. Well, I am happy to report that I found this offering to be even better than the one from 2016.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of roasted almond, rock sugar, cream, char, pine, raisin, and dark chocolate. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of orchid, blueberry, and raspberry as well as subtle scents of grass and baked bread. The first infusion introduced a slightly stronger baked bread scent as well as a subtle blackberry aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of orchid, cream, char, blueberry, baked bread, blackberry, roasted almond, pine, and rock sugar that were balanced by hints of grass, butter, raspberry, smoke, raisin, and black cherry. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, roasted peanut, cedar, rose, black cherry, butter, banana, cinnamon, and roasted grain. Stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of raisin, grass, butter, and black cherry came out in the mouth alongside very subtle hints of dark chocolate and slightly amplified raspberry notes. Impressions of cedar, roasted peanut, minerals, plum, rose, orange zest, and pomegranate also appeared alongside subtle roasted grain, cinnamon, banana, and nutmeg notes. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, cream, grass, butter, roasted almond, roasted peanut, roasted grain, and orange zest that were underscored by hints of pine, char, rock sugar, raisin, black cherry, blueberry, orchid, and pomegranate. There were also some hints of popcorn that came out late.
This was a tremendously enjoyable Qi Lan that yielded a liquor with a smooth mouthfeel and incredible depth and complexity on the nose and in the mouth. Fans of the cultivar should find a lot to enjoy in this tea. Considering that Old Ways Tea is batting 1.000 with their roasted Qi Lan oolongs, I cannot wait for the 2018 and 2019 versions.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Cedar, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Grain, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pine, Plums, Popcorn, Raisins, Raspberry, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Sugar
This was another of my July sipdowns. I’ve been on a quest the last couple of years to develop a better understanding of Rou Gui. It is apparently a super popular oolong overseas, but I have had great difficulty seeing the appeal. To me, it often seems very woody and heavy, though I have managed to try several Rou Gui that have shown tremendous depth and character. This was one of them. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, rock sugar, mushroom, cream, vanilla, pomegranate, and blueberry. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, black cherry, earth, and pine. The first infusion introduced aromas of smoke, char, and plum. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, rock sugar, cream, vanilla, roasted almond, and blueberry that were chased by hints of pine, smoke, char, earth, black cherry, nutmeg, and pomegranate. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of red apple, red wine, blackberry, and tobacco as well as stronger smoke and char scents. Stronger and more immediately noticeable smoke, char, earth, pomegranate, and black cherry notes appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of mushroom, roasted almond, and plum. I also found notes of blackberry, red wine, minerals, and tobacco as well as hints of grass, cooked spinach, cocoa, red apple, and orange zest. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, pine, smoke, black cherry, earth, cinnamon, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of grass, red apple, cocoa, pomegranate, tobacco, red wine, mushroom, and blackberry. There were even a few hints of roasted barley that emerged on the last two or three infusions.
This was a very nice Rou Gui. It was not quite as nutty or as woody as I was expecting, but it displayed tremendously enjoyable spice and fruit notes. It’s rather hard to get me to give an overwhelmingly positive review to a Rou Gui, but this one was delightful. Old Ways Tea continues to impress me with their offerings.
Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Pine, Plums, Red Apple, Red Wine, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Spinach, Sugar, Tobacco, Vanilla
I’m moving on to a more recent sipdown with this review. I’m pretty sure this was either the last tea I finished in July or the first one I finished in August. Those of you who are familiar with my reviews of Wuyi oolongs will realize that I am more than a bit of a Shui Xian nut as I purchase and try tons of different Shui Xian oolongs. Normally, I find it to be a tea that is hard to screw up, though it is certainly possible to get hold of a bad one (there was a Zheng Yan Shui Xian from Yunnan Sourcing a couple years back that still makes me cringe when I think about it). Fortunately, this was not a bad Shui Xian. Old Ways Tea generally does Shui Xian really well, and though this was not the best Shui Xian I have tried from them, it was a very good, solid one.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 208 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of charcoal, smoke, pine, pomegranate, cinnamon, raisin, cranberry, and dried blueberry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of tobacco, black cherry, and strawberry. The first infusion introduced aromas of dark chocolate, orange zest, and black cherry. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, charcoal, smoke, rock sugar, cinnamon, raisin, cranberry, pomegranate, and black cherry that were chased by hints of malt, pine, dried blueberry, blackberry, grass, and orange zest. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of grass, rock sugar, roasted peanut, and tar as well as subtler scents of malt, mushroom, and earth. Hints of strawberry, tobacco, and dark chocolate appeared in the mouth alongside stronger notes of grass, orange zest, pine, malt, and blackberry. I also picked up hints of tar, mushroom, and honey as well as stronger impressions of minerals, earth, and roasted peanut. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, earth, cream, charcoal, pine, orange zest, and grass that were underscored by hints of roasted peanut, tar, raisin, rock sugar, butter, pomegranate, mushroom, black cherry, blackberry, and tobacco.
This was a very pleasant Shui Xian that was something of a grower in the sense that I found myself growing fonder of it the more time I spent with it. I was extremely impressed by how balanced its flavors were as well as the pleasant body and texture it displayed. It did fade a little quickly, however, and there were a few moments where I thought it got just a little muddy in the mouth, but aside from those relatively minor gripes, I did not find there to be much wrong with this one. It was definitely a worthwhile Shui Xian overall.
Flavors: Blackberry, Butter, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cranberry, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Strawberry, Sugar, Tar, Tobacco
No notes yet. Add one?
Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Leather, Lemon, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Nuts, Oats, Raisins, Rose, Rum, Spicy, Wood
I’m reminded daily of resiliency and grateful to be situated where I am.
Brewed this gongfu to compare to the 2018 Grass Fragrance Black. This one is very similar, though with a deeper, more savory, fruitier aroma and taste, bolder flavors early on and greater longevity. Like the Grass Fragrance, it has a solid backbone of baked bread, malt, sweet potato and cedar. Some light bitterness on the sip that becomes more apparent if oversteeped. The finish is a tad drier yet more robust with osmanthus and the returning sweetness darker like brown sugar as opposed to red grapes. The tea also has a nice medium body with a pleasant astringency and the same clean minerality and salivation. The Fruit Fragrance Black seems to have an instantaneous calming and cooling energy. Overall, an excellently structured tea for its price range and such a pleasure to sip.
Song pairing: Toro y Moi — Rose Quartz
[5.5g, 100mL porcelain teapot, 200F, drink the flash rinse! Very short steeps starting at 7s]
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cedar, Cherry, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orchid, Osmanthus, Peach, Pine, Plums, Stonefruits, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetables
This was a mellow and smooth, yet complex and round rock oolong such that I had a difficult time pulling out distinct flavor notes. General impression was a brew composed of well cured cherrywood-scented tobacco with touches of charred vanilla marshmallow and peanut caramels later flowing into rock sugar, orange blossom and grass but always maintaining a cherry/wood-tobacco and cinnamon undertone. The minerality of this tea was more along the lines of petrichor and river rocks than something deep and dark. Highly fragrant, thick and active in the mouth with light astringency, moderate salivation, a looong sweet and lightly floral finish and a quick returning sweetness. Warming and relaxing in the body yet cooling in the mouth and chest. Also some nice lemon zest tingling later in the session. I’d love some more of this.
Flavors: Camphor, Caramel, Char, Cherry, Cherry Wood, Cinnamon, Flowers, Grass, Lemon Zest, Marshmallow, Orange Blossom, Peanut, petrichor, Round , Smoke, Smooth, Sugar, Sweet, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wet Rocks, Wood
I have a spread of 4 Shui Xian rock oolong teas from Old Ways Tea that I’ve been working my way through since the past few mornings have left the town blanketed all day in a breezy and chilly coastal fog. The weather became more like winter and as said in my last review, an almost out of season rainstorm blew in last night.
Here we go. This yancha has an understated power. My body feels full after drinking it, like everything under my skin is pushing outward. Much more caffeine than the 2017 Shui Xian from OWT but not jittery in its effect.
The dry leaf was incredibly fragrant with marshmallow, vanilla, strawberry, citrus, dark chocolate and almond. It smelled like dessert! A strong, sweet and creamy cocoa with a high note white floral came out above a fruity strawberry base after warming the leaf. I drank the rinse of this one and I’m glad I did. It was already incredibly mineral with a thick body, like a cross between maple syrup and congee. The aroma and taste, underneath a tongue-electrifying minerality, was all sweet and floral cinnamon mixed with cloves in melted chocolate and of course some yancha woodiness. Very much like a floral-vanilla Mexican hot chocolate. I’d say the minerality was more pronounced than the flavors on the tongue, but the tea presented a long-lasting finish and lingering retronasal florals. A sourness like very dark chocolate hung around in the back of the mouth. Plenty of salivation to balance the light astringency. Warming and cooling at the same time, camphoresque in the throat and chest, leaving both with a full feeling.
Later the thick liquor moved from syrupy-porridge to glassy while almond, marshmallow, butter, orange blossom, fresh grass and coffee came forward in the mouth. The long finish showed no signs of giving up. Orange zest like feeling on the tongue. I lost track of steeps… great longevity.
A western preparation of 2g, 8oz, 212F yielded 2 infusions with a great balance between floral, nutty, woody, chocolate, mineral and vanilla marshmallow characteristics.
Super tea, masterfully roasted. I feel that, compared to eastkyteaguy’s review over 9 months ago, some more resting time has allowed this tea to shine. Too bad its gonegonegone.
[6g, 100mL clay gaiwan, 212F, rinse (drank) followed by 12+ infusions starting at 7s]
Flavors: Almond, Camphor, Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Cocoa, Coffee, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Marshmallow, Mineral, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Strawberry, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Vanilla, Wood
The hills have already begun their browning out for the dry season yet a rogue rainstorm has come through, ensuring that I have several days off of work and both the time and the mood to drink up some of my Wuyi rock oolong.
This is a pleasant, short-lived Shui Xian that makes it appropriate as an everyday drinker. I suggest drinking the rinse because it had already presented a blast of aroma and flavor. Otherwise it will seem like the tea quickly falls off the cliff, which it does, but why not delay the inevitable?
Aromas and flavors of dark milk chocolate, dark chocolate, oak wood, faint roast, dark brown sugar, indistinct florals, red and black raspberries, orange and faint herbs. Mostly dark woody, mineral and chocolatey with a bright fruity backing that keeps it from being too heavy of a tea. Light bite in the back of the throat in first steep after the rinse quickly transformed into returning sweetness. As the session progressed, the darker flavors dropped away quickly and the florality and minerality of the Shui Xian cultivar came forward. I understand Shui Xian is meant to have a narcissus fragrance, but I picked up on something more akin to orange blossom. The session finished somewhat bright and creamy but so very close to drinking hot water.
Price is an accurate reflection of its performance. It also performed well as a one-steeper western style with 2 grams per 8oz, 5+ minutes. Dominant characteristics were a roast not overplayed, woodiness, florality and minerals with an undercurrent of dark chocolate.
[6g, 100mL clay gaiwan, 205-212F, rinse (drank) followed by 8 short steeps starting at 7s]
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Creamy, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Herbs, Mineral, Oak wood, Orange, Orange Blossom, Raspberry, Roasted
This is the first time I am drinking a tea from Old Ways Tea, thanks derk for sending me the sample :)
I don’t think I can add anything to eastkyteaguy’s review in terms of flavours present. However, I want to point out that the mouthfeel of this tea is absolutely phenomenal. It is thick like a maple syrup, super soft and silky, unlike anything I ever drank.
This is not an easy drinker for sure. The complexity in flavours is exceptional, the body is super full and the qi is electrifying. Unfortunately, the price reflects that as well.
Flavors: Anise, Bark, Bitter, Cedar, Citrus, Cream, Dark Wood, Herbaceous, Hops, Lavender, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Rosehips, Smoke, Spices, Thick, Wet Rocks, Wood
Gongfu Sipdown (602)!
I’ve hit that ‘wall’ that I always hit when writing tasting notes on the weekends; it’s just what happens when you’re 30+ tasting notes in and those tasting notes generally also happen to be multiple paragraphs long…
This was a freebie sample that I received when I ordered my sampler from Old Ways Tea a while back; and I’ve had some good sample success as of late because I think I actually enjoyed this sample the most out of everything I’ve tried from this company!?
Here’s what I wrote on instagram:
Heavy roast, with smoky grilled nuts (peanuts), charcoal, dark chocolate, mineral, cinnamon, and tree bark notes. Perhaps a hint of leather? Introduction of poached peach notes mid session. ONly started to notice a hint of heady floral notes in the finish of the sip pretty late into the session.
Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me at all that my favourite sample from OWT that I’ve tried so far has been the one that, arguably, has the strongest roast. That deeply fits inline with my favour preferences…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bjD1tarzr4
I’m pretty sure I received this as a freebie several orders ago and have finally gotten around to it. Thanks for the sample, Old Ways Tea!
Given the price point of $0.18/g I should’ve brewed this hongcha western, knowing that it would probably fade quickly when prepared gongfu but I decided to go against better judgement.
Dry leaf did indeed have an almost grassy aroma at the forefront along with orchid. A deeper huffing of the leaf in hand revealed blackberry, red grape, baked bread, malt and cedar.
Teapot time: 4.4g, 100mL, 200F, flash rinse which I drank followed by 8 steeps of 10/12/15/20/30/40/60/120 seconds.
Warmed leaf and rinsed leaf had the same aromas, with the baked bread overpowered by the stronger malt and cedar notes.
The tea started light in taste and had an appreciable aroma with grass, honey and orchid. Tastes of honey, sweet potato, undefined stonefruit and osmanthus led the way, getting stronger in the second and third steeps where additions of brown sugar, asian pear, and orange blossom appeared. Clean minerality with some salivation. Aftertaste was lingering with subtle smoke and honey, orange blossom and peach. By the fourth steep, the flavor began dying and in retrospect, I should’ve pushed the tea harder at this point. It did have a nice body with good astringency and a moderate red grape returning sweetness in the back of the mouth. There was absolutely nothing off-putting about the brew.
This tea is a nice Wuyi black and worth it for someone who wants an introduction to teas from this region at a respectable price. I may pick up another bag of this to try it western style.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Cedar, Grapes, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Osmanthus, Peach, Pear, Smoke, Stonefruits, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
Gong Fu Sipdown (607)!
Trying another one of the yancha samples from my Old Ways Tea sampler; this time the Light Roast Shui Xian. To be honest, I knew I would enjoy this tea – but I also knew right away that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as some of the others in this sampler. I really enjoy heavily roasted teas – so in general light roast oolongs can be a bit frustrating for me since it’s like being teased by the flavour profile I crave so deeply in an oolong.
This was a nice tea though – I steeped it in my yancha dedicated yixing pot and it brewed up very smooth and consistently. I did find that it was not an oolong I could brew for an extended period of time though; after only the sixth infusion the flavour of my infusions was getting pretty rough and tapped out. However, that short session turned out to fit perfectly into my evening schedule and I didn’t have to feel like I was cutting it too early/short and losing out on good tea since the flavour had dwindled so badly already.
This is probably my least favourite thing I’ve had from Old Ways Tea so far, but it was still quite nice overall and I’d definitely drink it again – though this isn’t a yancha that I’m considering repurchasing, unlike their Rougui (as an example).
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USY602Ft98M
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Maple Syrup, Mineral, Orchids, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Walnut, Wet Rocks
My last tasting note was my second ever one. It has been three or so days since created that note and I have learned much about this tea since. In the previous note, i mentioned that Shui Xian means `narcissus` which is, of course, the beautiful flower. well, it also means `immortal water` and i bring this up for a reason.
i have been steeping these same leaves now for 3+ days, bout 12 or more times. each time i steep the leaves just a little bit longer. so far i am still receiving the powerful aroma and a quality taste. i am very impressed.
there are a couple lessons i have learned from drinking this tea about tea in general:
1) it is important that you know how to properly steep your tea. the directions on the packet/label/tin whatever… are meant to be guidelines and you should feel free to experiment. in doing so you will increase the enjoyment and longevity of your tea and i believe it is respectful to do so.
2) proper storage of your tea when you are done enjoying it for the moment is an imperative skill to hone. tea can be very expensive. if you don’t take care of it- it will go to waste! the best advice i have for that is to store the tea spread out on some kitchen roll/towel and leave in an oderless, dry, dark, environment.
overall this tea is fantastic, and i urge you to buy some.