Old Ways Tea

Edit Company

Recent Tasting Notes

93

This was another of my sample sipdowns from early in the year. It is also a tea that I did not really know anything about prior to drinking it. I still don’t know anything about it other than it was the 2019 version of the traditional Shui Xian that Old Ways Tea seems to stock every year. In truth, I was not expecting much, but as it turned out, this was a great offering. It was not as durable as some of Old Ways Tea’s specialized or higher end Shui Xian, but it offered tremendously enjoyable aromas, flavors, and texture.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were 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 emitted aromas of cinnamon, pine, charcoal, blackberry, and black cherry. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, smoke, baked bread, and rock sugar. The first infusion introduced a pomegranate aroma underscored by subtler grass and cannabis scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, pine, smoke, charcoal, roasted almond, grass, blackberry, and black cherry that were chased by subtler flavors of tobacco, nutmeg, baked bread, roasted peanut, and pomegranate. The bulk of the subsequent infusions gradually added new aromas of dark chocolate, plum, tobacco, and red grape. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of tobacco, roasted peanut, and baked bread appeared in the mouth alongside fresh notes of minerals, red grape, orchid, caramel, rock sugar, plum, earth, black currant, orange zest, and violet. Hints of black raspberry, dark chocolate, peach, and cannabis could also be detected here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, baked bread, caramel, roasted almond, black cherry, grass, tobacco, pine, and red grape that were balanced by lingering hints of earth, roasted peanut, charcoal, blackberry, orange zest, black raspberry, black currant, and dark chocolate.

For a standard Shui Xian, this was very interesting. It was very heavy on dark fruit flavors, possessing a more pronounced sweetness than I would generally expect of a tea of this type. There were also one or two truly unique notes in this tea. In particular, that lovely violet flavor that was so noticeable in some of the middle infusions was really something special and unexpected. Despite its lack of durability and refinement compared to some of Old Ways Tea’s higher end Shui Xian offerings, this one was a winner. I now kind of wish I had bought more.

Flavors: Almond, Black Currant, Black Raspberry, Blackberry, Bread, Cannabis, Caramel, Charcoal, Cherry, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Pine, Plum, Pomegranate, Smoke, Sugar, Tobacco, Violet

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

78

Well, I’m back after a long absence. My time has been eaten up by work and health problems for the last three months. A bout of COVID in late September left me unable to smell or taste much of anything for an extended period of time. It was so bizarre. I couldn’t smell or taste anything save for tea while I was sick, but then afterwards, tea was the only thing I could not smell or taste. I’ve noticed that I am still not quite as perceptive to certain aromas or flavors as I used to be, but for whatever reason, I am now much more sensitive to texture. I have no clue when or if I will be able to fully work my way back to where I was before I got sick, but for now, I’m easing my way back into things and starting off by posting one of my backlogged reviews from much earlier in the year. As Bai Ji Guan goes, this one was not bad, but it was far from the best I have ever had. I certainly did not think it measured up to Old Ways Tea’s 2018 offering.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 10 seconds, I kicked things off with a 5 second infusion. 18 additional infusions followed. Steep times for these infusions were 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, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of hay, straw, honey, apricot, earth, and golden raisin. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted chestnut, roasted peanut, and grass that were underscored by a subtle smokiness. The first infusion added aromas of bread, dandelion, and dandelion greens. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate notes of hay, grass, straw, earth, dandelion, roasted carrot, roasted chestnut, and baked bread that were chased by hints of smoke, golden raisin, apricot, honey, pear, butter, apple, dandelion greens, and roasted peanut. The bulk of the subsequent infusions gradually introduced aromas of roasted carrot, minerals, butter, mushroom, roasted almond, and parsley. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of roasted carrot, butter, pear, apple, and roasted peanut appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, cream, roasted almond, white grape, spinach, mushroom, parsley, and lettuce. I also picked up hints of watercress, orange zest, caramel, and sugarcane. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize lasting notes of minerals, grass, hay, butter, parsley, roasted almond, spinach, baked bread, and roasted chestnut that were underscored by rather fleeting hints of mushroom, lettuce, watercress, pear, honey, sugarcane, earth, roasted peanut, smoke, and golden raisin.

Compared to the 2018 production of this tea, this offering did not come off as being as deep or as complex, yet it was also oddly not as approachable. The aromas it offered seemed a bit flat and muted, while the mouthfeel of the tea liquor was not as sharp or as crisp as I was hoping it would be. Still, this was far from a bad tea. It did offer some truly nice aromas and flavors. It just could have been more elegant and better balanced.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Apricot, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Carrot, Chestnut, Cream, Dandelion, Earth, Grass, Hay, Honey, Lettuce, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Parsley, Peanut, Pear, Raisins, Smoke, Spinach, Straw, Sugarcane, Vegetal, White Grapes

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Martin Bednář

Always happy to read your vast notes! Bizzare how Covid affects everyone differently.

ashmanra

Wow, that must be a powerful impact for you as I have always thought you must be a supertaster. I hope it all come back to normal.

tea-sipper

oh no! I’m so sorry Covid hit you so badly as a supertaster. Covid: still weird.

Nattie

Happy to see you back! Hope you recover your tastes soon.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

70

A yancha that just barely falls short for me. I got the 2021 harvest of this tea from my OWT order, and it’s good but not good enough. Leaves that were beautiful but quite heavily dusty, rich aroma especially in the wet leaf and vibrant liquor. The flavour is decent, good roastiness paired with mineral and fruity notes. Texture is decently smooth as well, with a relatively average character, with average steep variability. Finish & aftertaste is average to decent, nice mineral lingering note. Cha-qi is non-existent, and steep longevity is poor to average, lasting up to steep 8-10.

Flavors: Alkaline, Charcoal, Cinnamon, Limestone, Marine, Mineral, Roasty, Smoke, Smooth, Spices, Stonefruit

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

both reviews for ~4 steeps before i mugged. yancha brewing never peaks past the first couple of steeps for me and I’m lazy and don’t care enough to do long drawn out sessions for a lot of teas anymore. since I don’t drink yancha often enough to seriously evaluate, this is a much better approach to get a handful of decent steepings, and then I’m happy enough usually with the grandpa results.

3.7g/90. have been doing lower ratios recently, but this was also bc I was wary from the last time I tried something from OWT that was much lower roast than I expected and was far too much with low ratio. I shouldn’t have worried. I couldn’t find the 2020 page anymore, but this is medium roast and the minimum level acceptable roast for my preferences. overall, not too sweet or too much aftertaste. some vegetal, floral, and light medicinal woody notes. not too standout at low ratio, but usually I’d use a higher ratio, so I’ll give it that. prelim. judgement is that for the .53c/g I purchased at last year, this is acceptable, and better than any of the similarly priced steeping room options.

4.6g/60. woody, slightly medicinal taste, with vegetal hint. sometimes crisp sugary, sometimes floral aftertaste. again, not terribly sweet or lasting, but I enjoyed the higher ratio more than yesterday’s.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

80

Golden Key clearly hails from the same heavily roasted family as Red Robe but offers a more perfumed, playful edge than its austere older brother. Having never smelled an orchid I cannot verify its purported “orchid aroma,” except to say that Golden Key is ever-so-slightly “brighter” than the Robe; not in literal color, but in synesthesia. If Da Hong Pao is a cello, Jin Yaoshi is closer to violin, though it remains deep and masculine despite the flowery flourish. If David Bowie’s sex appeal was tea, it would be this one – a man with makeup, perhaps, but still a man.

There is some caramelized fruit interwoven with orchids – definitely stone fruit and not tropical. Do not be misled into thinking this tea is “woody” like a kukicha, although there might be some hints of hojicha from the roast. Most clearly, however, “woodiness” here expresses itself as a hard-to-pin-down character reminiscent of something aged in, perhaps, a bourbon barrel. Think darkened wood chips, heated almost to the point of burning but then cooled and tossed into a caramelized apple bochet. Red apple skins slightly toasted on dry cast iron, along with some ineffable accent like juniper berries.

Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers, Spices

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 8 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

73
drank Dan Gui (2021) by Old Ways Tea
119 tasting notes

Not too bad of a yancha. I got this tea from my OWT order, and it comes acrossme as a decent and normal rock oolong overall. Beautiful leaves albeit slightly broken, rich aroma in the wet leaf, beautiful liquor with a nice golden sheen, the flavour was decent but quite prototypical of a yancha. Texture was decent, character was average with a unidimensional session displayed throughout. Finish & aftertaste was decent, slightly juicy with a slight mineral aftertaste. Cha-qi was slightly noticeable, coming in with a bit of headiness, and finally steep longevity was average, topping out at steep 10.

Decent but not something to shell out the wallets for, objectively it passes, but you could save the money on more expensive yanchas.

Flavors: Acidic, Citrus, Fruity, Jam, Juicy, Mineral, Molasses, Spices, Star Anise, Stonefruit, Straw, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

74

Promising but short-lived hope with this tea. I got this tea from my OWT order, and it was yummy but fell short. Beautiful leaves with a rich and nuanced aroma, vibrant liquor, very rich taste that balances the floral and mineral of yancha, texture that is smooth yet juicy. Character fell short quite hard as the tea fell to mediocrity as steeps went on. Finish & aftertaste was decent with a prominent minty and airy aftertaste, cha-qi was almost non-existent, and steep longevity was poor, topping at around steep 8.

Flavors: Alkaline, Coconut Husk, Floral, Juicy, Limestone, Marine, Mineral, Smoke, Spices, Stonefruit

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

76

Decent yancha. I got this tea from my OWT order, and it’s nice but not extraordinary. Beautiful leaves albeit slightly broken, rich dry and wet leaf aroma, liquor is vibrant in colour, flavour is quite nice, rich in minerality and roast, texture is smooth yet slightly bitey, character is average, finish & aftertaste is also average, cha-qi almost non-existent, and the steep longevity is pretty good (steep 11+). Overall, decent but nothing wowing generally.

Flavors: Alkaline, Charcoal, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Mineral, Oily, Roasty, Spices, Stonefruit, Sweet, Thick

Preparation
8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

72

Nice yancha. I got this tea from my OWT order, and it really does remind me of a Bai Jiguan as what the description mentions. Beautiful albeit slightly broken leaves paired with a rich aroma in the dry and wet leaf, with a vibrant liquor to boot. The flavour was pretty nice, light and citrusy yet boasting a roasty body to it. Texture was smooth and juicy, and the character was decent. Finish & aftertaste was average, with cha-qi relatively unnoticeable and steep longevity mediocre, peaking around steep 9. Overall, a decent yancha but nothing too amazing to shout about.

Flavors: Alkaline, Citrusy, Fennel, Fruity, Malt, Roasty, Spices, Woody

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

68
drank Qi Lan (2020) by Old Ways Tea
119 tasting notes

Not a very good yancha. I got this tea from my recent OWT order, and it lacked quite a bit in my opinion. Beautiful leaves with a beautiful wet leaf aroma, with a semi-vibrant liquor, the flavour was okay and took me by surprise as it was less roasty and more green than I thought. Texture was smooth and semi-juicy, character was pretty one-dimensional, finish & aftertaste is mediocre to decent, the tea had a slight digestive cha-qi, and steep longevity was relatively poor.

Flavors: Acidic, Bitter, Floral, Jasmine, Juicy, Limestone, Marine, Mineral, Pine, Pineapple, Roasty, Smooth, Sour, Stonefruit, White Wine

Preparation
0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

64

A disappointing yancha. I got this tea from my OWT order, and it started off well but fell off a cliff very quickly. Beautiful leaves albeit a bit broken with a nice, rich aroma and a vibrant liquor that was slightly cloudy. The flavour was nuanced on the first steep with many different flavour parties coming to play from the prototypical mineral yancha to a more body-centric fragrant yancha, this tea also came with some yanyun. However, that flavour only really lasted for like 3-4 steeps before degenerating into the taste of a mediocre low quality oolong. Texture was alright, nothing special, character was impacted severely by the lack of prominence in the tea after steep 3-4, finish & aftertaste was nothing special either. There was a complete lack of cha-qi and the steep longevity wasn’t too great either. Overall, a tea that promised a lot (which I will give points for), but ultimately failed spectacularly.

Flavors: Bark, Blueberry, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Marine, Mineral, Spices, Wet Rocks, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

74

A decent yancha. I got this tea from my recent OWT order, and it had some really good points and some not so good. Beautiful leaves with a rich aroma and a vibrant liquor that produced a wondrous golden sheen. The flavour was quite nice and nuanced with a brilliant juicy yet smooth texture. Decent aftertaste & finish paired with an okay-ish character are the remaining plaudits that this tea has. When it comes to cha-qi, there was literally none and this tea had relatively poor steep longevity, losing its rich flavour and texture past steep 5-6. All in all, a decent tea but just not good enough.

Flavors: Fruity, Juicy, Marine, Mineral, Plum, Prune, Spices, Stonefruit, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

78
drank Fo Shou (2021) by Old Ways Tea
119 tasting notes

Quite a nice yancha! I got this tea from my recent OWT order, and I think this is the best tea from them I’ve had thus far. Beautiful big leaves with a very nice dry and wet leaf aroma that is rich yet nuanced, decent liquor with a decent flavour that encompasses warmth and richness, yet bringing about a nice nuance paired with delicate creaminess. Decently medium-thick texture with a nice permeating astringency, paired with an okay-ish to decent character. The aftertaste is quite nice and present, with a slight juicy finish. The tea also has relatively excellent steep longevity. The one main thing this tea lacks is cha-qi, having almost none of it at all. The flavour could’ve been more potent and complex, and the session in and of itself is quite simplistic and one-dimensional, lacking variability between steeps. Overall, a nice tea that I don’t mind drinking more of (I just saw it went out of stock :/), but it’d need to step up a notch to really get to the ‘high-end/top tier’ teas.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Juicy, Malt, Marine, Marshmallow, Marzipan, Mineral, Pastries, Plum, Roasted, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

70

A tea that promised a lot but just fell short. I got this tea from my recent OWT order as part of a free sample. Leaves were beautiful but a bit broken, weak dry leaf aroma but nuanced enough for the wet leaf and empty cup aroma to redeem it, beautiful, vibrant but slightly cloudy liquor. The flavour was nice for the first few steeps but it felt like it was lacking something, a bit of nuance, body, potency, I’m not sure. It just felt like something was missing. Texture was smooth yet juicy, providing a good foundation for the finish and slight mineral aftertaste. Mediocre character in my opinion, and it didn’t really set itself apart from other Rouguis I had. Decent-ish warming cha-qi and a poor to average steep longevity rounds off an interesting yet slightly disappointing tea session.

Flavors: Beer, Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Juicy, Leather, Limestone, Mineral, Roasty, Spices, Stonefruit, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 5 OZ / 135 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

65
drank Qi Dan 奇丹 by Old Ways Tea
119 tasting notes

A promising but ultimately mediocre yancha. I got the Spring 2020 harvest of this tea from my OWT order, and the first few steeps were going good, but it fell off a cliff quite quickly. Decent leaves albeit slightly broken, with a nice and rich aroma full of complexity, topped with a decent liquor that was relatively vibrant. The flavour was quite nice and packed a bit of complexity and richness to it, which was great. However, the flavour only lasted for the first 4 or 5 steeps, before it became blander and thinner, with the complexity dropping off one by one. This tea also has average steep longevity along with no noticeable cha-qi, a lack of character to it, and an average texture, finish & aftertaste. If this tea was able to hold up its flavour for longer, or even better have its flavour transform throughout the session, this tea would’ve gotten plaudits from me. However, this tea just couldn’t hold up for long enough and became a mediocre tea.

Flavors: Acidic, Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Gardenias, Lily, Malt, Mineral, Nutty, Salt, Spices, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

70
drank Shi Ru by Old Ways Tea
119 tasting notes

Unique in a good and bad way. I got the 2021 harvest of this tea from my OWT order, and this tea was in a way, somewhat disappointing. Wonderful, rich and potent wet leaf and empty cup aroma paired with a decent liquor and dry leaf, this tea had my hopes up at first. A better than average texture I feel, smooth but uninteresting, accompanied by a decent aftertaste and a nice, warming cha-qi. However, this tea had a flavour that while unique, lighter and more creamy & citrusy than most yanchas, it just lacked potency and nuance in a way that I expect a yancha to have. It also lacked much finish, character, and had a horrendous steep longevity, dying out at steep 7. Not a great first Shi Ru experience, to be honest.

Flavors: Alkaline, Apricot, Citrus Zest, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Milky, Mineral, Papaya, Smooth, Stonefruit, Thin, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

66
drank Jin Mu Dan by Old Ways Tea
119 tasting notes

A mediocre Yancha. I got the 2021 harvest of this tea from my recent OWT order, and it is just about mediocre, maybe on the better side of it. Potent wet leaf aroma and a decent steep longevity, with a nice liquor and decent texture. This tea was just about bang average in everything else, and it noticeably lacked any cha-qi, and potency and character in flavour. It also lacks a noticeable “yan yun” that I like in yanchas.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Leather, Mineral, Peony, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

90

Okay, while I still have the energy, it’s time to post another previously unposted review from 2021. This one I think came from either late summer or early fall, but I have no way of being certain about that. The Old Tree Shui Xian that Old Ways Tea offers each year is usually great stuff, and this 2018 production was another winner.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 produced aromas of cinnamon, earth, blackberry, black cherry, charcoal, bread, and smoke. After the rinse, aromas of tar, ash, mushroom, and roasted peanut emerged. The first infusion added roasted almond and black raspberry fragrances along with hints of rock sugar. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, charcoal, black cherry, roasted peanut, smoke, ash, and tar that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, blackberry, mushroom, bread, and earth. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of pine, tobacco, minerals, orange zest, and roasted barley to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of roasted almond, mushroom, earth, bread, and blackberry emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, tobacco, pine, cream, butter, orange zest, rock sugar, black raspberry, plum, and roasted barley. Hints of red apple, blueberry, grass, fig, and toasted rice could also be detected. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, roasted almond, cream, butter, orange zest, and roasted barley that were chased by lingering hints of cinnamon, earth, toasted rice, grass, charcoal, pine, mushroom, roasted peanut, black cherry, and blackberry.

This tea was kind of a typical Old Tree Shui Xian in many ways. It produced a liquor that frequently emphasized sharp mineral texture over aroma or flavor and provided a warming, soothing, subtly invigorating energy. I was a little surprised that it gave out when it did and probably could and should have tried to push it a little harder, but I also kind of appreciated that it did not overstay its welcome. Compared to some of the previous versions offered by Old Ways Tea, this one was very rich and smooth with slightly more pronounced earthy, savory, nutty, vegetal, and roasted characteristics and less fruity and/or floral character. Actually, floral character seemed to be totally absent in this tea, allowing other characteristics to shine through and an even greater emphasis to be placed on the all-important texture of the tea liquor. Though it did not really surprise me in any way, this was a more or less great tea. I have had better Old Tree Shui Xian, but this was still a tremendously enjoyable offering overall.

Flavors: Almond, Ash, Black Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Bread, Butter, Charcoal, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fig, Grass, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar, Tar, Toasted Rice, Tobacco

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

70

This was yet another of my late 2021 sipdowns. At the time I set about giving this tea a fair shake, I had been looking forward to trying it for some time despite being preoccupied with finishing off a number of other teas in my possession. Qi Dan, on its own, can be hit or miss, but as Old Ways Tea handles Rou Gui very well, and Qi Dan is or can be remarkably similar to Rou Gui, I had high expectations for this tea prior to setting about reviewing it. Unfortunately, it was something of a disappointment for me. While it was not a terrible offering by any means, it also did not offer a consistently compelling or enjoyable drinking experience.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 18 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 minutes 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of bread, cinnamon, pine, black cherry, and blueberry that were underpinned by a subtle smoky scent. After the rinse, I discovered the emergence of roasted almond, rock sugar, and cannabis aromas that were accompanied by a slight charcoal fragrance. The first proper infusion added subtle orchid, grass, and blackberry presences. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of cinnamon, blueberry, black cherry, charcoal, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of smoke, grass, cannabis, pear, blackberry, roasted peanut, and orchid. The bulk of the subsequent infusions gradually provided fresh aromas of roasted peanut, orange zest, and earth in addition to noticeably stronger grassy scents. More immediately detectable impressions of smoke, blackberry, grass, and roasted peanut emerged in the mouth accompanied by notes of minerals, butter, rock sugar, orange zest, plum, earth, and pine. Roasted walnut and bitter, oily hickory nut notes thrived on the back of the throat. Hints of peach, red grape, and bread could be picked up here and there. As the tea gradually faded, the liquor continued to pound my palate with notes of minerals, orange zest, blueberry, black cherry, roasted almond, and roasted walnut before a mix of subtler impressions of grass, earth, pine, red grape, blackberry, charcoal, rock sugar, bread, plum, and smoke made themselves known.

What an odd tea this was! It was all over the place. It started off seemingly confused and unfocused. The impressions it offered were somewhat scattered and unclear, but then as it quickly evened out, that bitter, nutty, and somewhat odd aftertaste became ever more noticeable. The best sipping this tea offered came towards the end of my drinking session. If this tea had one standout characteristic, it was its clear and consistent minerality, though I would describe the texture of the tea liquor as being slippery and thin, even for a Wuyi oolong. At this point, I know it may seem like I am really slamming this tea hard, but it was not unenjoyable. It had a lot of nice flavor notes. I just wish it had been more consistent and balanced from the start. Overall, this was an okay offering. It just wasn’t what I was expecting it to be.

Flavors: Almond, Bitter, Blackberry, Blueberry, Bread, Butter, Cannabis, Charcoal, Cherry, Cinnamon, Earth, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Smoke, Sugar, Walnut

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

93
drank Que She (2019) by Old Ways Tea
1048 tasting notes

Now that I once again have some time to get a few more reviews posted, I wanted to start off with one of my more recent sipdowns. I only had a sample pouch of this tea, but it took me forever to get around to drinking it. It was actually the last of the 2018-2019 Old Ways Tea samples that I had clogging up my cupboard, and I think I took so long to get around to trying it because I know very little about Que She. I had only tried one other Que She previously, and it did not strike me as being very good, so I had virtually no expectations of this tea. Well, it turned out to be an excellent offering and a hidden gem among Old Ways Tea’s 2019 product lineup.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was chased by 19 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, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of charcoal, bread, pomegranate, blackberry, pine, dark chocolate, black cherry, raisin, and prune that were underpinned by a subtle smokiness. After the rinse, aromas of roasted almond, tar, roasted peanut, roasted barley, and toasted rice appeared along with a more pronounced smokiness. The first infusion added a subtle mineral scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered delicate and often elusive notes of charcoal, pine, bread, black cherry, pomegranate, raisin, blackberry, tar, smoke, roasted barley, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of raspberry, dark chocolate, roasted peanut, earth, and roasted walnut. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of blueberry, raspberry, peach, hibiscus, roasted walnut, orange zest, juniper, and grape leaf to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of dark chocolate, earth, roasted peanut, and roasted walnut appeared in the mouth alongside mineral, orange zest, blueberry, rock sugar, red grape, caramel, grape leaf, hibiscus, black currant, and cream flavors. Some hints of toasted rice, peach, prune, juniper, and gooseberry could also be detected at times. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, pine, bread, roasted barley, roasted almond, roasted peanut, roasted walnut, orange zest, grape leaf, earth, and cream, though often ghostly impressions of black cherry, blackberry, red grape, pomegranate, hibiscus, juniper, smoke, tar, black currant, peach, and gooseberry still hung around in the background.

An interesting, challenging, and incredibly complex offering, this Que She was difficult to compare to any other Wuyi oolong I have tried. Though very aromatic and flavorful, it frequently emphasized texture over any of its other attributes, and while many Wuyi oolongs produce a liquor that possesses a very sharp or crisp mouthfeel, this tea produced one that was light, slick, and only slightly prickly. Overall, it had a very coy and playful presence and produced a very subtly invigorating energy. The way this tea balanced its odd blend of aroma and flavor components was also incredibly impressive. At this point, I can only conclude by stating that it was a winner and deserved a chance from me long before I decided to give it one.

Flavors: Almond, Black Currant, Blackberry, Blueberry, Bread, Caramel, Charcoal, Cherry, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Gooseberry, Grapes, Hibiscus, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pine, Pomegranate, Prune, Raisins, Raspberry, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar, Tar, Toasted Rice, Vegetal, Walnut

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

2021 harvest. Just exactly what I like in a yancha, heavy honey-like stickiness, toasty notes that don’t taste too much like smoke or overwhelm the floral aftertaste.

Flavors: Gardenias, Honey, Mineral, Toast

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

90

It’s after midnight, and I’m somehow still keeping the tea review train rolling. I have no clue when I finished my lone sample pouch of this tea. It was probably either late 2021 or very early this year. After being slightly disappointed by the 2018 Old Tree Black Tea from Old Ways Tea, I was not sure what to expect of the 2019 production. Well, it turned out that this was a noticeably better offering overall.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 5 second rinse, I started my review session by steeping 5 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 20 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, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of honey, grass, straw, malt, bread, cinnamon, pine, and cedar. After the rinse, I picked up on fresh aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, green wood (oak?), and butter. The first infusion then added a delicate creamy scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, grass, malt, bread, straw, butter, green wood, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of cinnamon, raisin, pine, honey, and sugarcane. The subsequent infusions primarily added aromas of minerals, smoke, raisin, and moss to the tea’s bouquet, though subtler scents of earth and chocolate also made themselves known. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of cinnamon, raisin, pine, honey, and sugarcane emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, roasted peanut, red apple, orange zest, moss, earth, and lemon zest. Hints of caramel, pear, plum, smoke, cedar, and chocolate were present as well. Once the tea started to fade, the liquor began more heavily emphasizing notes of minerals, malt, bread, cream, pine, roasted almond, orange zest, green wood, and sugarcane that were chased by subtle hints of grass, straw, honey, lemon zest, cinnamon, earth, moss, raisin, butter, pear, and caramel.

A very complex and heavily textured black tea with tremendous longevity, this tea was both a challenge and a joy to sample. It retained some of the dryness of the 2018 production, but it offered better texture and depth, coming off as being somewhat more akin to either the 2016 or 2017 offerings. The Masu Old Tree Black Tea is clearly a must-try offering from Old Ways Tea in most years. It’s definitely a regular offering to check out if you are looking for a balanced Wuyi black tea with tons of complexity, depth, and texture.

Flavors: Almond, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grass, Green Wood, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Red Apple, Smoke, Straw, Sugarcane

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

90

Alright, I’m just going to keep going. I’m in the mood. I might as well. This was another of my sipdowns from late last year. The 2018 Da Bo was one of the more pleasant surprises among Old Ways Tea’s 2018 black tea offerings, so I expected this one to impress as well, and it did.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick 5 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 19 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, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, straw, pine, cedar, cinnamon, and sunflower seeds. New aromas of green wood, butter, bread, and malt came out after the rinse. The first infusion then added a nutmeg aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted almond, sunflower seed, malt, bread, cream, roasted sweet potato, straw, pine, and cinnamon that were chased by subtler notes of roasted peanut, honey, red apple, pear, plum, nutmeg, and green wood. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of cream, minerals, moss, oats, and raisin to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediate notes of roasted peanut, honey, red apple, and nutmeg emerged in the mouth along with impressions of minerals, moss, oats, raisin, and orange zest. I noted hints of grass, cedar, blackberry, mulberry, and black cherry in the mix as well. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, malt, cream, oat, bread, roasted almond, sunflower seed, butter, and green wood notes that were balanced by lingering traces of cinnamon, straw, orange zest, grass, cedar, roasted peanut, raisin, and red apple.

This was a unique Wuyi black tea. Many black teas from Wuyishan have pronounced chocolate, honey, and dark, rich fruity notes, but this tea leaned heavily on woody, nutty, savory, and grainy characteristics while also frequently emphasizing texture over aroma or flavor. It was a very subtle tea and often a bit challenging to dissect. Once I developed a feel for it though, it was very rewarding. I’d definitely recommend it to experienced drinkers of Wuyi black teas looking for something a little different.

Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Bread, Butter, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Grass, Green Wood, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Nutmeg, Nutty, Oats, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Red Apple, Straw, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

84

While I’m at it, here is a review of a tea that I’m sure I drank late last year. I had a ton of sample pouches of various teas from Old Ways Tea that had accumulated from 2018 to 2020 just sitting in a box in my bedroom. I rediscovered it while cleaning last year and made a point of trying to go through anywhere from one to three sample pouches per week from that point forward. I finally finished all of them last month. I think I drank this one in either November or December of last year. The Wild Style Black Tea is a regular offering from Old Ways Tea, and until I placed a moratorium on tea purchases, was a tea I purchased yearly. In my experience, it tends to be tremendously variable from year to year. I greatly enjoyed the 2016 and 2017 offerings. I recall the 2018 version not being as good. I thought I had reviewed it on Steepster, but looking back through my notes, I must have never gotten around to it. This production did not rival the 2016 and 2017 teas, but it was rather enjoyable overall.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse (about 5 seconds), I kicked things off by steeping 6 grams of the loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 19 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 minutes, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of honey, cinnamon, pine, straw, cedar, bread, plum, black raspberry, and red grape. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond and roasted peanut. The first infusion added a pronounced green wood aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of roasted almond, bread, green wood, cinnamon, pine, and cedar that were balanced by hints of honey, straw, red grape, oats, pear, cream, and butter. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of minerals, cream, oats, butter, roasted cashew, chocolate, caramel, grass, orange zest, and malt. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of straw, cream, oats, butter, and pear emerged in the mouth alongside notes of roasted cashew, minerals, roasted peanut, chocolate, grass, caramel, orange zest, and lemon zest. Hints of plum, black raspberry, earth, malt, raisin, and nutmeg were also present. As the tea faded, the liquor shifted to primarily emphasize lingering notes of minerals, cream, butter, bread, straw, roasted almond, grass, lemon zest, and orange zest, while hints of roasted peanut, oats, raisin, pine, green wood, earth, malt, pear, and cinnamon remained to provide balance.

This was undeniably a tea with considerable depth and complexity. It started off a little uneven, but it quickly found its footing. If I had one real gripe about it, it was that some of its most interesting and enjoyable components were too muted and/or too short-lived. In the end, this was a somewhat flawed but still quite likable offering. I’m not sorry that I gave it a go.

Flavors: Almond, Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cashew, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grapes, Grass, Green Wood, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Raspberry, Straw

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.