Old Ways Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

This was another of my older sample sipdowns. It was also a tea that I struggled to rate. In general, Rou Gui and I are not the best of buddies. I often find it too woody and chewy, but for some reason, I do better with the Rou Gui offered by Old Ways Tea than that offered by many other vendors. I knew I liked this one as soon as I tried it for the first time, but I had difficulty determining just how much I actually liked it and how I would rate it compared to some of the other Old Ways Rou Gui I’ve tried.

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 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 emitted aromas of char, smoke, pine, cinnamon, blackberry, and black cherry that were underscored by a subtle tobacco scent. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, roasted almond, tar, and ash in addition to a stronger tobacco scent. The first infusion added aromas of black raspberry, blueberry, and oddly enough, celery. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of char, smoke, ash, pine, cinnamon, tobacco, dark chocolate, tar, black raspberry, and blackberry that were chased by hints of grass, black cherry, blueberry, and caramel. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of nutmeg, dark chocolate, red grape, plum, baked bread, roasted walnut, and roasted barley to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of grass, black cherry, and blueberry appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, pomegranate, orange zest, celery, roasted peanut, roasted almond, plum, roasted walnut, baked bread, red grape, and roasted barley. I also found some hints of fig, nutmeg, earth, coriander, and pear here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor started emphasizing mineral, baked bread, grass, roasted almond, roasted walnut, pine, char, and roasted barley notes that were supported by a complex mix of orange zest, earth, roasted peanut, smoke, black cherry, blueberry, pomegranate, blackberry, and red grape hints. Interestingly enough, I also found a very late emerging hint of popcorn that just kind of appeared out of nowhere.

Looking back on my notes as I write this review shedded a lot more light on this tea for me. It’s really no wonder I struggled to score it because it was very deep and complex and took a few interesting twists and turns. This was a very good Rou Gui, though it was at times daunting to analyze. I am now very much looking forward to the 2019 Handmade Rou Gui that I have yet to try.

Flavors: Almond, Ash, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Caramel, Celery, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Coriander, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Fig, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Pomegranate, Popcorn, Raspberry, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Tar, Tobacco, Walnut

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Alright, I’m back with some new reviews. This was one of my late 2020/early 2021 sample sipdowns. Starting around November of last year, I noticed that I had a miniature mountain of samples from Old Ways Tea and started sporadically working my way through it. This was one of the first samples I drew out of the pile, but at this point, I cannot more precisely date my notes from the review session. As derk noted in the only previous review of this tea, it was very similar to the 2016 Smoked Black Tea offered by Old Ways Tea. I, however, found more nuances and less of an overpowering smokiness, since my sample had been rested longer.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of 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 emitted aromas of smoke, pine, ash, and charcoal. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted peanut, roasted almond, butter, cream, and tar. The first infusion introduced subtle aromas of cannabis and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of smoke, pine, ash, charcoal, tar, roasted peanut, roasted almond, malt, and baked bread that were chased by hints of butter, cream, cannabis, and raisin. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of raisin, hay, juniper, and roasted barley to the tea’s bouquet, though infrequent scents of straw and an amplified maltiness could also be found. Stronger and more immediately detectable butter and cream notes appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, straw, grass, hay, juniper, and roasted barley. I also detected hints of caramel, vanilla, and earth. As the tea faded, the liquor started emphasizing notes of minerals, pine, smoke, malt, baked bread, tar, charcoal, roasted barley, grass, roasted almond, and cream that were chased by subtler notes of butter, raisin, roasted peanut, ash, caramel, and juniper.

This tea surprised me because I was expecting it to be less smoky than it ended up being. I would have thought that 2+ years would have been more than enough time for the smoke to fade, but that was not the case. Still, this tea was not unpleasant to drink. It was very similar to the 2016 Smoked Black Tea from Old Ways Tea, but with a deeper, stronger, and more vibrant smokiness. Fans of smoked black tea would very likely love it.

Flavors: Almond, Ash, Baked Bread, Butter, Cannabis, Caramel, Charcoal, Cream, Earth, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Malt, Mineral, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Straw, Tar, Vanilla

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
derk

I bought 6 bags of 2021 and after trying it, I think these teas are best left to sit for several years. It’s not that the smoke is too strong for me, but I enjoy what is revealed underneath with some age.

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90
drank Jin Mu Dan by Old Ways Tea
220 tasting notes

This tea is heavily roasted, but it is less austere and dry than a typical Da Hong Pao (my measuring stick for roasted Wuyi oolongs). It is more desert-like with floral sweetness and some minerals. The strongest point is the lovely fragrance of osmanthus and orchids.

A solid choice for those liking roasted oolongs or just as a change of pace for the rest of us.

Martin Bednář

Happy to see you here again!

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92

Posting it here despite the fact that it is a 2021 harvest: there are not enough reviews for Old Ways Tea to split them by year.

Since I did not buy a lot of it I prepared it western style and was rather stingy with the amount of leaves. However, this tea performed quite well. Huge leaves produced a very satisfying aroma of dried fruit, apricot and bread. The soup was on the paler side.

The taste has been captured well by the previous reviewers: dried fruit (apple, apricot, peach), dark honey, nuts, sunflower seeds, some satisfying dryness. There was plenty of complexity and a long pleasing aftertaste. A lot of energy too. It reminded me of Jin Jun Mei (dryness), teas with snow chrysanthemum, and Red Temple from Whispering Pines.

All in all, this is a tea without any obvious flaws, with a unique and well-balanced taste. It comes to the personal preferences: some folks may find it solid, some – great, and I would be surprised if anyone will be outright disappointed.

Flavors: Apricot, Dried Fruit, Drying, Honey, Nuts, Peach

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90

Here is another of my summer Old Ways Tea sample sipdowns. I had actually forgotten about buying this tea. My reaction to finding the 8g sample pouch of this was utter bewilderment. Then I went back through my records and realized that I bought it along with a bunch of other 2018 tea samples from Old Ways Tea. Anyway, I am a huge sucker for light roasted Shui Xian, and this one was very much worth my time.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 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 emitted aromas of cinnamon, cedar, cream, baked bread, roasted almond, and black cherry. After the rinse, I detected wholly new aromas of roasted peanut, smoke, and grass as well as a subtle orchid scent. The first infusion added a rock sugar aroma and more of an orchid presence. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, cream, roasted almond, baked bread, orchid, black cherry, and roasted peanut that were chased by hints of grass, smoke, cedar, blackberry, and blueberry. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of blackberry, minerals, orange zest, caramelized banana, and roasted barley. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of grass, blackberry, and blueberry appeared in the mouth alongside mineral, orange zest, rock sugar, moss, caramel, plum, and roasted barley impressions. Hints of black raspberry, caramelized banana, butter, vanilla, and red grape were present too. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, moss, grass, cream, orange zest, and roasted almond that were balanced by subtler notes of butter, black cherry, red grape, blackberry, rock sugar, and roasted barley.

This was a very pleasant and drinkable light roasted Shui Xian with a ton to offer. Compared to some of the other teas of this type that I have tried, the roast that was applied to this tea seemed much lighter and more delicate, but that impression could have been at least partially due to the tea’s age. Anyway, this was definitely a very nice offering. I could see it being an especially great option for those who are exploring Wuyi teas and want to get an idea of what the Shui Xian cultivar has to offer before exploring the heavier roasted variants of Wuyi Shui Xian and/or established fans of Wuyi oolongs who are looking for something a little lighter than the average Shui Xian.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Moss, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Plum, Raspberry, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar, Vanilla

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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95

While I’m at it, I may as well crank out another of these review things. This was yet another of my summer Old Ways Tea sample sipdowns, Before I get into the meat of this review, allow me to state that I almost always love the Jin Jun Mei offered by Old Ways Tea. While Jin Jun Mei is not my favorite style of Chinese black tea (it’s not even my favorite style of Wuyi black tea), the Jin Jun Mei Old Ways offers just consistently does it for me. This tea did not buck that trend. So far, it has been my favorite of the Old Ways Jin Jun Mei I have tried.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse (about 5-6 seconds), I steeped 5 grams of loose tea buds in 3 ounces of 194 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 buds presented aromas of baked bread, clove, pine, caramel, molasses, cinnamon, malt, and juniper. After the rinse, aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, tangerine zest, butter, and lemon zest appeared. The first infusion added a slight black pepper aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered strong notes of baked bread, roasted almond, pine, juniper, tangerine zest, lemon zest, malt, and marshmallow that were balance by hints of caramel, grass, butter, cinnamon, and black pepper. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of chocolate, marshmallow, honey, violet, candied orange peel, and minerals, as well as a subtle grassy scent. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of caramel, cinnamon, butter, and roasted peanut appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, honey, chocolate, pear, red apple, cream, violet, and candied orange peel. I also noted hints of plum, clove, and molasses. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to offer notes of minerals, cream, baked bread, tangerine zest, malt, lemon zest, and marshmallow that were chased by fleeting hints of roasted almond, grass, caramel, butter, black pepper, chocolate, and roasted peanut.

This was very much not what I was expecting. I figured that I would get a very balanced tea with a ton of baked bread, honey, and spice notes, but instead this tea was floral, sweet, fruity, and almost syrupy in places. I know that the previous reviewer felt this tea had almost a bug-bitten quality, and well, I can kind of see it. It also reminded me of both a wild Jin Jun Mei and a Mei Zhan Jin Jun Mei. Whatever the case may be, this tea was very different from the standard teas of this type. Aside from being unique, it was also very enjoyable and memorable. I am now hoping that the 2019 Old Ways Jin Jun Mei will be able to compete with it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Candy, Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Clove, Cream, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Pear, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Violet

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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54

I think? this was a freebie provided a few orders ago.

Dry leaf in the bag has the strong floral aroma other Old Ways Tea’s hongcha — sunflower and orchid plus a nut butter and eggshell undertone. Once in my hand, I smell the same florals, malted barley, old wooden furniture and a tangy cranberry tone.

Warming the leaf brings, in addition to the florals, nut butter and cranberry, aromas of oatmeal cookie and artichoke. Hm. I don’t like that vegetal note.

The aroma is woody, vegetal and sour like canned artichoke hearts on wooden furniture.

The taste is very, hm, vegetal tangy, rather savory-leather. No sweetness is present for me. A mild alkalinity stays at the back of the back of the mouth and in the throat, where a strange bitterness also arises.

Despite drinking several more steeps, I ended my notes here. Can’t say I’m a fan of this one, even though Roswell Strange and Togo seemed to really enjoy it. I feel like the tea fell from it’s dry leaf aromatic grace once brewed. The strong artichoke vibe , or I can see olive as Togo mentions, was very strange. It’s like a disjointed amalgamation of an aging sheng, a first flush Darjeeling and a Wuyi red tea. Oh well. I’m glad other people are enjoying it!

Flavors: Artichoke, Bitter, Cookie, Cranberry, Floral, Flowers, Leather, Malt, Nuts, Oats, Olives, Orchid, Savory, Tangy, Vegetal, Wood

eastkyteaguy

I didn’t purchase any of the 2020 Old Ways Tea offerings because I had so many of their 2018 and 2019 teas to get through, but had I done so, I probably would have avoided this one. It may just be me, but I have noticed a huge step down in quality from 2016 forward. I loved the 2016 tea and thought the 2017 tea was also very good if a little lacking compared to the previous version. The 2018 tea was still enjoyable for me, but it felt like a noticeable step down from the 2017 tea. I haven’t tried the 2019 version yet, but I have seen mixed reviews from several sources.

derk

I remember being impressed by the 2017 and a little less so with the 2018. In general, though, I feel like the quality of Chinese teas has gone down in the past several years. The decline in quality also coincides with when I started really paying attention to tea characteristics and tastes, though. I think areas of China (and Taiwan) have been experiencing droughts and/or flooding during this time as well. If Old Ways Tea’s offerings that I really enjoy continue declining in quality, I don’t know what I’ll do. I think they’re a great vendor and want to support them since they’re located in my region. For now, I’ll stick it out and hope this is just part of nature’s cycle and not other factors.

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77

Here’s another review of one of my summer sample sipdowns for everyone. I think I finished what I had of this tea in either June or July, but at this point, I can’t remember. It doesn’t really matter anyway. At the time, I was plowing through as many 2018 and 2019 Old Ways Tea samples as I could, and this was one of the ones that impressed me the least. It should be noted, however, that medium roast Shui Xian is not my favorite thing in the world. If I’m drinking Wuyi Shui Xian, I almost always favor light roast or heavy roast variants over the medium roast teas.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 rinsing, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, baked bread, roasted almond, butter, and earth. After rinsing, aromas of roasted peanut, pine, smoke, and char emerged. The first infusion brought out black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, and elderberry aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, char, smoke, cream, pine, black cherry, and blackberry that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, butter, earth, and baked bread. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of black raspberry, minerals, roasted barley, and toasted rice. Stronger and more immediately noteworthy impressions of earth, butter, roasted almond, and baked bread appeared in the mouth along with mineral, moss, elderberry, blueberry, rock sugar, black raspberry, orange zest, grass, roasted barley, and toasted rice notes. Very subtle hints of plum, nutmeg, and roasted peanut could also be detected at times. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, grass, baked bread, cream, butter, roasted almond, moss, and earth notes that were chased by hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, toasted rice, roasted barley, roasted peanut, blueberry, blackberry, and orange zest.

This was such a perplexing offering. Compared to many of the other 2018 and 2019 Shui Xian offerings from Old Ways Tea, this tea stood out in a couple of ways. First, it consistently emphasized its grainy qualities and its heavy minerality over more typical spicy, earthy, woody, and roasted notes. It also displayed an absolutely lovely fruitiness. That unexpected elderberry presence was truly wonderful. Unfortunately, there were many times in which the tea did not pull all of its components together harmoniously, and some of the tea’s most appealing, memorable qualities disappeared or were too greatly muted by the end of my drinking session. Overall, this tea was enjoyable, but it was also a mixed bag. I wanted to like it a little more than I did, and part of me feels like it could have been so much more than it was.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Elderberry, Grass, Mineral, Moss, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Plum, Raspberry, Smoke, Sugar, Toasted Rice

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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96

Okay, I’m back with some more reviews. I thought I was going to have time to post a couple yesterday afternoon, but I ended up driving to Flemingsburg for a job interview with the KY Department of Transportation. Truthfully, I did not want to go due to not feeling particularly well, but I decided not to turn down the opportunity. It was cool. I got to hang out at the Fleming County Public Library and see a pretty covered bridge and lots of attractive farmland. I also stopped in Morehead to wolf down ice cream and greasy food at Cook Out. I then drove home and immediately went to bed. Is it normal for a 35 year old man to go to bed at 7:23 pm on a Monday? Probably not, but it was enjoyable. I would do it again. Anyway, let’s move on and talk tea. This was another of my sample sipdowns from the summer. I had no clue what to expect prior to trying this tea, but it ended up being an excellent old tree Shui Xian.

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

Prior to rinsing, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of char, blueberry, black cherry, baked bread, red grape, cinnamon, and black raspberry. After the rinse, aromas of orchid, smoke, plum, grass, and roasted almond emerged. The first infusion introduced an aroma of rock sugar and a much subtler roasted peanut scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of char, cinnamon, orchid, black raspberry, mushroom, toasted rice, blueberry, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of baked bread, blackberry, plum, smoke, rock sugar, grass, caramel, wood, and red grape. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, blackberry, toasted rice, roasted barley, and mushroom. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of baked bread, wood, blackberry, plum, red grape, and rock sugar appeared in the mouth alongside mineral, orange zest, roasted barley, black cherry, and roasted peanut notes. Hints of earth, peach, moss, black currant, and pear could also be found here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor started emphasizing mineral, wood, roasted almond, blackberry, red grape, blueberry, toasted rice, baked bread, and roasted barley notes that were chased by delicate hints of earth, grass, moss, mushroom, orange zest, plum, black cherry, roasted peanut, caramel, and cinnamon.

This was an incredibly interesting and satisfying old tree Shui Xian with a ton to offer. I picked up some notes in this tea that I do not often find in Wuyi Shui Xian, but they worked. I also noted that this tea produced a liquor that had an incredibly lively presence and tremendous longevity on the nose and in the mouth. Everything about it just screamed quality. At this point, all I can really add is that I wholeheartedly recommend this tea. It may very well be among the best Shui Xian I have ever tried.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Currant, Blackberry, Blueberry, Caramel, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Moss, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Raspberry, Smoke, Sugar, Toasted Rice, Wood

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
derk

oooohhh, I’ll have to pull this out when I get back home.

Good job getting out and about. Interviews are taxing. Hope you got some good rest.

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80

Okay, here is my final review for the day. This one comes from a little further back in my 2021 review notebook, but not from the first half of the year. I only had an 8g sample pouch of this tea, and I finished it back in either late July or early August. At the time, I was prioritizing some of the 2018 and 2019 teas that I needed to finish, so getting through the small amount of this tea that I had represented a quick sipdown. Prior to trying this tea, my experiences with Old Ways Tea’s Old Tree Shui Xian were largely great, and I had very high expectations for this offering. Though it did not live up to those lofty expectations, it was still a very satisfying, solid offering overall.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This initial infusion was chased 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 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 cinnamon, wood, blackberry, black raspberry, and black cherry. After the rinse, aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and pomegranate emerged along with much subtler aromas of char and smoke. The first infusion introduced very faint scents of grass, chocolate, and orchid. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of roasted almond, orchid, cream, wood, roasted peanut, blueberry, and blackberry that were chased by hints of black raspberry, black cherry, pomegranate, butter, grass, chocolate, cinnamon, char, pear, and smoke. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, roasted barley, cream, minerals, plum, blueberry, and red grape. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of butter, black cherry, char, grass, pomegranate, and black raspberry appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, earth, plum, orange zest, red grape, roasted barley, and popcorn. Hints of butterscotch and toasted rice could also be detected. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, earth, cream, wood, roasted almond, grass, roasted barley, and orange zest that were backed up by lingering hints of black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, red grape, popcorn, pomegranate, char, cinnamon, and butterscotch.

This tea produced a liquor that displayed a great deal of depth and complexity as well as good body and texture in the mouth, but I felt that some of its aroma and flavor components were slightly unbalanced. There were sips on which certain aromas and flavors seemed to pop out and dominate, and that produced a very up-and-down drinking experience. I was also hoping to get something new and unique out of this tea, since each of the previous offerings of this variety that I had tried from Old Ways Tea had differentiated themselves from one another in terms of what they had to offer. That wound up not really being the case with this tea. In terms of aroma and flavor, it reminded me of the 2018 Old Tree Shui Xian, but pricklier and more uneven. Still, this was far from a bad offering. As a matter of fact, I found it to be a more or less very good tea. I was just hoping for it to strike me as being a more or less excellent tea like its predecessors had, and it did not do that.

Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butterscotch, Char, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Popcorn, Raspberry, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Toasted Rice, Wood

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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88

2021 harvest.

Powerful aroma that spans floral, woody, grassy, fruity and baking-spicy. First steeps were silky smooth swallowing juicy with tastes that spread across the tongue and coated. After that, it developed such a full, creamy oats mouthfeel that I found it distracting, creamiest I’ve had from Wuyi hongcha.

The florality is probably the second strongest characteristic. The tastes scream apple, tea rose, chamomile, orchid, yellow cedar. Vibrant golden flavors. Hints of barley malt, leather, dried fruits and apricots soaked in brandy and honey, rosewood, mineral, grass, lemon, lemon zest, cooked vegetables in no particular order of prominence. Camphor in chest, along chin and jawline.

Stronger and more complex aftertaste than the 2020 counterpart I had recently — apple, chamomile, apple flowers; then cinnamon, tea rose and rosewood. Another Old Ways Tea hongcha with great longevity.

The mouthfeel was a little too prominent for my liking, so if that’s something you seek in a floral-heavy red tea, I’d highly recommend this. On my preference scale, I give it a 88; on a snoot scale I’d go as high as 96.

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Black Currant, Brandy, Camphor, Cedar, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Cream, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Floral, Fruit Tree Flowers, Grass, Honey, Leather, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Orchid, Rose, Smooth, Tangy, Thick, Vegetables, Wood

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92

Foggy morning <3

Dry leaf has the characteristic scent of Old Ways Tea’s hongcha – very floral orchid-sunflower, grassy, woody, malty. I can see the lichen impression they mention. It smells like being inside the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco, or within a misty mountain forest. Their hongcha is magical <3

Warming the leaf amplifies the aromas of the dry leaf and adds a deep richness akin to sunflower butter.

The brewed aroma, taste and aftertaste are very structured and seamless. The anchoring impression is a clear, fresh yellow cedar with nuances of almond, leather and malt. Mixed in is the tanginess of golden apple with lesser notes of lychee, honey, lemon and zest, orange zest. I attribute oats to the creamy impression. And of course, there is the orchid-sunflower grassy florality that lies atop all of this and spreads itself throughout. A hint of camphor. The bottom of the cup smell is very rich and sweet with golden syrup, almond, maybe something berry and tiny sparks of cinnamon and chocolate. The progression of taste sees the rise of the citrusy notes while still retaining the others with less intensity.

The tea is medium-bodied, smooth and swallows juicy with later steeps bringing out a coating mouthfeel and some tannins before going smooth again. The minerality is clean and induces salivation with the first steep.

This is a very durable tea. I usually brew Wuyi hongcha at 200F and get sometimes only 6 good infusions before it’s depleted. This one I started at 200F and later pushed it to water off the boil. I was able to get 14+ pours from this tea. Western brewing gives three good cups with the first 2 having a richer feel than brewing in a gaiwan.

Call me a fangirl.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Berry, Camphor, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Honey, Leather, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Mineral, Nuts, Oats, Orange Zest, Orchid, Smooth, Tangy, Tannin

Sierge Krьstъ

Can’t beat wuyi. They should have their own crypto. The brainwashing
screenshot to tune humanity into singularity, designed by we know who, for
2nd day in a row was soliciting me into clicking picture of some bridge in
a valley with Chinese roofs. I said, nah, it’s a trick. I changed my mind
after overdosing on couple of decades old heicha. It was wuyi. I couldn’t
believe it. Waiting for this to come, first order after brexit, EUR 5 vat,
OK, EUR 3 post processing fee.

https://www.curioustea.com/tea/black-tea/fuji-yumewakaba-wakocha/

And that considering they returned 140 EUR worth bricks with prepaid duties.

So I am buying from purple cloud in auburn California. I would never buy
anything that has purple as a reference.

But why Fuji.

https://tea-expert.net/magazin-kitajskogo-chaya/tyomnyj-chaj-hej-cha/30005-zhong-cha-5101-liu-bao-cha-wai-mao-2020

The guy is based in Hainan, the only meteorite crater acknowledged
in nanyang.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/travel/2020/04/27/hainan-resorts-to-visa-free-access-for-tourism-payoffs.html

That is some surveillance experiment to exclude ultra tea junkies

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62
drank Wuyi Black Tea (2020) by Old Ways Tea
1104 tasting notes

Prepared western. Dry leaf smells like sandalwood in the bag; in my hand, like malted barley, brown toast, currants and cinnamon. The brewed aroma is full of orchid with honeyed and brandied stonefruit, and that moves toward orange-honey and orange zest with the second steep. The cup is tangy, slightly syrupy and bright with sweet potato, leather and orange tones. As the orchid returning aroma persists and grows after the swallow, so does a distinct dryness that I find troublesome. However, as the orchid fades in the coming minutes, a dry, perfectly ripe peach aftertaste develops – my gourd is that awesome!

I can see why this is the least expensive black tea offered by Old Ways Tea. While it has a face-filling aroma and drawn-out and developing aftertaste, there are some flaws. One being the disconnect between the aroma and aftertaste. Between those two lies the tea, and what’s there isn’t necessarily complex in taste or mouthfeel. Another issue being how dang drying it is. After the second cup I feel like I’m chewing on wood.

Okay, okay, so I haven’t brought this tea into the most positive light, but it is after all a budget Wuyi black. And because I’ve tried so many of Old Ways Tea’s more costly black teas, I’ve developed a snobbish baseline for Wuyi hongcha. In the case of their black teas, price does seem to correlate directly with quasi-objective quality. HOWEVER! This tea’s aroma and aftertaste have so much going for them with their strength and freshness that I believe this would be a good, affordable step into OWT’s catalog. This is worth getting a few bags to play around with temperature.

Flavors: Black Currant, Brandy, Brown Toast, Cedar, Cinnamon, Drying, Floral, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Stonefruit, Sweet Potatoes, Tangy, Wood

ashmanra

I have had a couple of their teas and they were great. I need to look into having more of them on hand. Love your descriptions here.

derk

Their teas are great for a treat!

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71

Okay, since I have been rained out for the remainder of the day (no outdoor work for me), I figured I may as well pop back on here and post a review or two. I had to go back and add this tea to the database, though I could have sworn that I had already added it at least once. I couldn’t find any information about this tea online, and I could only get close with the photo. All I know about it is that it was the light roasted version of Old Ways Tea’s 2019 Gao Cong Shui Xian. I can’t provide any other information about this tea. I only had an 8g sample pouch to work with, and I ended up trying it alongside some of Old Ways Tea’s other 2019 Shui Xian oolongs several months back. Of the bunch that I tried at the time, this one was the least satisfying of the lot, though it was not exactly a bad offering. In truth, Gao Cong Shui Xian is always rather hit or miss with me.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 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 cinnamon, roasted almond, wood, char, roasted barley, and black cherry. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted peanut, blueberry, blackberry, and orange zest that were underscored by a subtle orchid scent. The first infusion introduced something of a red grape aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of wood, roasted almond, grass, char, cream, and butter that were balanced by hints of orchid, daylily, red grape, cinnamon, and blueberry. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of caramel, rock candy, cream, butter, baked bread, minerals, and toasted rice. Stronger and more immediately apparent notes of orchid, red grape, daylily and cinnamon appeared in the mouth alongside mineral, roasted peanut, blackberry, roasted barley, baked bread, orange zest, black cherry, and toasted rice impressions. I also detected subtler notes of pomegranate, plum, rock candy, lemon, caramel, straw, and earth. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor started emphasizing notes of minerals, roasted almond, grass, roasted barley, orange zest, and toasted rice that were chased by notes of caramel, red grape, blackberry, blueberry, baked bread, roasted peanut, lemon, black cherry, and surprisingly enough, popcorn.

This was a pleasant enough Gao Cong Shui Xian, but it did not exactly captivate me. It did not offer anything that struck me as being unique, and there were numerous times in which I found the tea liquor to be a bit flabby and the balance of the flavor components to be somewhat out of whack. It was far from a terrible tea, but so far, it has also been the least appealing of Old Ways Tea’s 2019 oolongs that I have tried.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Candy, Caramel, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Lemon, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Plum, Popcorn, Roasted Barley, Straw, Toasted Rice, Wood

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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82

A full-bodied yancha is always welcome. This one is quite herbaceous on top of being mineral. There is also a whiskey-like bitterness to it. In terms of aromas, I mostly got notes of caramel, wood before the rinse; orchids and milk afterwards. Thanks for the sample, Ros!

Flavors: Bitter, Caramel, Herbaceous, Milk, Mineral, Orchid, Thick, Whiskey, Wood

Preparation
5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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92
drank Jin Mu Dan (2020) by Old Ways Tea
701 tasting notes

This is one of the samples Ros so generously sent me home with when we met up in Montreal recently. Thank you my friend, I very much appreciate them! In particular, I am really happy I can try some tea from Old Ways Tea, a company I’ve been meaning to try for a while.

This tea is really lovely, I had it with my family in the morning today. The roast is not too strong and well-balanced. The roasting also seems a little uneven. Some of the leaves have a significant greenish hue to them.

Specifically, I love its cooling mineral aftertaste with its neverending sweetness.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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88

I drank this one a while back, but I didn’t have time to write a note then. It’s another one from my recent tea swap with Roswell Strange. I have generally enjoyed the samples from Old Ways Tea, but this one might be my favourite, even though I haven’t tried all of them yet.

Dry leaf aroma is perfumy with notes of nectarine, dry wood, hookah and brownies. Afterwards, the wet leaves smell of cranberry, wood, fenugreek seeds, leather and watermelon. It is truly a a grab bag of scent sensations.

The taste is sweet and it reminds me of plant roots, olives and za’atar. I also really liked the sticky, full bodied liquor with a well integrated astringency.

Flavors: Cookie, Cranberry, Leather, Nectarine, Olives, Plants, Sweet, Watermelon, Wood

Preparation
5 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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For being once-roasted, the dry and warmed leaf have a surprisingly dry, dark and rich aroma. I catch aromas of dark chocolate syrup, pomegranate, raspberry, osmanthus and cannabis in the dry leaf; caramel sauce, brown toast, woodiness, black raspberry preserves, blackberry, black grape skin and canned bamboo shoot in the warmed leaf.

The tea itself doesn’t retain much of those impressions. The first few steeps beyond the rinse are alkaline. A strong mineral backbone supports the brothy body. The fragrance is light and sweet, reminiscent of caramel with a touch of cocoa, flowery. In subsequent steeps, the brew becomes somewhat tangy while still presenting very mineral. If left to cool, it becomes a little sour.

The tea finishes with a quickly disappearing floral bitterness on the back of the tongue, and after the swallow, the sweet fragrance returns and rises high, sometimes smelling like perfume. Later steeps bring more of the roast character to the fore as the minerality fades. Notes of coffee, caramel, char and wood are most prominent.

The rinse drank the next morning is sweet, brothy and alkaline with a caramel-hazelnut-cocoa taste.

I’ve read some other reviews for purple da hong pao which is consistently offered by Yunnan Sourcing. I’d say my impression of this leaf falls fairly in line with others’, though I wouldn’t necessarily compare it to a dancong oolong as a few people have; it’s still very much a Wuyi oolong to me. If I’m going to have a da hong pao, I’d personally like a stronger roast and a mix of cultivars as opposed to one composed of only a purple leaf varietal.

Flavors: Bamboo, Bitter, Blackberry, Broth, Brown Toast, Cannabis, Caramel, Char, Cocoa, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Flowers, Grape Skin, Hazelnut, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Osmanthus, Perfume, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Roasted, Sour, Sweet, Tangy, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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79

Gongfu Sipdown (1429)!

Sipdown and lazy session with this “white Cockscomb” 2020 Bai Jiguanthis afternoon!! I think this is my first time trying this varietal, and it’s really interesting to me. It’s definitely a lighter leaning roast compared to my normal yancha preferences, but the oily soup is coating on the palate in a pleasing way to me. Early steeps have notes of perfectly toasted golden pecans, grilled corn, hazelnut oil, and gradually the tea picks up more of a fresh floral character amidst the session with some delicate undertones of white peaches. It’s pretty nuanced, and blowing my mind a little how it’s so different and so similar from the Wuyi oolong that I typically gravitate towards.

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CRKD_EqBJK0/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrZzWpSLK1o&ab_channel=NineSparksRiots-Topic

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drank 2019 Fo Shou 佛手 by Old Ways Tea
1104 tasting notes

Finally in the mood for yancha after the recent heatwave passed.

Bright (citrusy? stonefruity?) with mellow caramel-hazelnut-mineral taste. I found it difficult to balance some sourness, either from the roast or related to the citrusy taste. Rising floral on the swallow followed by a creeping, low-lying pithy bitterness. Dry aftertaste with guava and peach skin. Camphor sensation in chest.

Can’t say I’m fond of this one — it might be too green for me, disjointed, the bitterness is weird. It does have good longevity.

Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Cannabis, Caramel, Chocolate, Citrusy, Drying, Floral, Guava, Hazelnut, Herbs, Milk, Mineral, Peach, Pear, Pecan, Sour, Stonefruit, Sweet, Wet Rocks, Wood

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88

Gongfu Sipdown (1407)!

This sample is one that I somehow managed to miss finishing off from an older order, but it’s serving me well today! It’s nice and roasty with some really well defined notes of dark maple, tree sap, lucuma, and walnut!! Some of the midsession steeps had notes of cooked golden peaches as well, and a finish of plum skins! Really complex & beautiful – great inaugural session for this stunning gaiwan!

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CPYy83JBAr7/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn3l3XH—XM&ab_channel=TheRubensTheRubensOfficialArtistChannel

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Gongfu!

Dry leaf aroma of this smoked black tea is so enticing with its notes of pipe tobacco, syrupy golden raisins, and ash! Clouds are rolling in and it’s looking like it might rain; hopefully part of this session overlaps with some heavy rain so I can really capitalize on that super cozy feeling of a robust and cozy smoked tea during a storm – it’s the tea equivalent of sipping a Scotch under a giant flannel blanket in a log cabin the the middle of the woods!!

Steeped, it’s very similar to the dry aroma but vastly more fruity – brandied stonefruits, overripe red fruit, and the same raisin notes. Very, very syrupy in terms of mouthfeel as well – each sip was viscous and coating, leaving a lovely lingering smoke and overripe fruit note on the palate to enjoy between steeps. Sadly died off pretty quickly – five steeps total.

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/COtVI3TAi86/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phGdPoBcxqs&ab_channel=JelaniAryeh

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drank Que She (2019) by Old Ways Tea
1104 tasting notes

Wuyi yancha of the uncommon Que She (Sparrow Tongue) varietal. A first for me! This is a sweet, smooth and subtle rock oolong that Old Ways Tea calls ‘elusive’ and I have to agree. It’s different.

The dry leaf gives sweet and milky notes, caramel with darker notes of black currant and oak wood, a minty undertone. First impression from the warmed leaf is a very dark and strong mocha coffee with trails of caramel as I pull away. When I go back in for more, I notice dark brown toast and cardboard. Rinsing brings out the gentler characteristics of the tea: herbal, orange blossom, woodiness, wet vegetation, eucalyptus. I still notice coffee. It’s all so complex.

I gave it some intuitive brewing because that’s what it asked of me after the first short steep.

The flavor and aroma components are very active but the tea is overall very soothing. It’s at first a little alkaline I think from the roast, then opens up into a milky-woody-floral profile, a little caramel. It’s soft and somehow the deep and dark Wuyi minerality does not overplay. Balance. It travels in a minty cool stream down my throat and lingers there but not in my mouth.

With the next few cups, I notice the rich and sweet aroma that carries the same floral, milky character. The brew has more of a sunflower seed nuttiness to it. It’s interesting to breath the tea out of my nose – it seems to stick to every receptor and every hair. Aftertaste develops into a kind of incense, more sweet herbal than woody. My sinuses open completely. I notice cannabis. A few cups later and my throat is very warm, my body feels like a furnace yet my neck feels like ice in the sun. Hints of unripe apricot in the aftertaste.

I did many short steeps in the beginning and it was just this amazing tea. Once I started getting into late steepings, it became rather citrus-acidic and bitter. Drank the rinse this morning, cold. Despite sitting all night, it was fantastic, rich and sweet. No char or lingering roast notes at all.

It has this medium-oxidized/medium-roasted character but then it also seems like low-roasted. I would need several more sessions of this tea to figure out its nuances and understand its nature better. The subtleties of the tea don’t require your attention to appreciate it, though. It’s clearly a high quality tea.

Flavors: Apricot, Black Currant, Brown Toast, Cannabis, Caramel, Chocolate, Coffee, Creamy, Eucalyptus, Floral, Herbs, Menthol, Milk, Mineral, Mint, Nutty, Oak, Orange Blossom, Plants, Smooth, Spring Water, Sweet, Wood

Daylon R Thomas

The last Sparrow’s Tongue I had was from Verdant, and it did some weird things too.

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83

Gongfu Sipdown (1372)!

The dry leaf aroma was so interesting to me; chocolate covered peanuts and a big hit of freshly mowed summer grass. Most of those notes also translate into the infusions as well, with greener top notes of the same hot summer grass and complimentary notes of dill and cannabis. The body is a bit more nutty and mineral, with notes of lightly roasted chicory root, salted peanuts, semi-sweet dark chocolate, and alfalfa grass all throughout the session. The first few steeps also had a starchy green banana note as well. This is a really interesting oolong tea and I half wish I had more than just this tea sample because it’s an interesting one to wrap my head around!

Need to try more Ban Tian Yao – this may have been my first one? It’s not a style of yancha that I’ve seen widely available and it was very cool!

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CM7sRRZhQin/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMEFtbf-FFA&ab_channel=RainbowKittenSurprise

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