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Recent Tasting Notes
Gongfu from this morning, drank at work.
It was only a 1/2 day today at work which was very fortunate for me – with my ear infection I don’t think I would have lasted a full day, I was already doing mad at my desk with pain and restlessness by hour two of the day.
I wasn’t very happy with this session – but I’m going to revisit the tea since I have a gut feeling that all the tea I consume throughout the course of this ear infection are going to be perceived more negatively than they otherwise would be.
I did stretch the session out over the course of the whole morning – and the taste was actually alright; kind of a honeyed sweetness, bit of a baked bread note, and a higher noted red fruit profile (pomegranate, red apple?). I would normally really enjoy that combination of flavours so I’m not particularly sure why I didn’t today. The finish was a little smokey and had a sort of aggressive dryness about it, and that was really the nail in the coffin.
As I said, I’m going to rebrew this when I feel well – and we’ll see how I feel about it then,
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI34LYmJ1Fs
Very, very busy week at work – so I didn’t get to do a lot of more involved tea drinking during my work days (like Gong Fu/lattes/etc). In fact, in between all the hustle and bustle it was actually pretty damn challenging finding the time to make a mug of tea – but I did manage to enjoy this tea steeped Grandpa style for a few hours on Thursday! I found it tasted pretty smooth, with a nice mild and consistent earthiness with a sweeter undertone and hints of lovely stonefruit flavours (plum/raisin) in the undertones. This is probably one of the nicest aged Sheng teas I’ve ever tried, to be honest. It was very rich and smooth, and unlike a lot of other Sheng that I’ve tried.
Shared with me by a coworker…
I wanted to really enjoy this one because I do quite like what feels like a lot of aged oolong; and the smell of the dry leaf was actually incredible. Toasty and warm, with a sweet cocoa and nutty quality and a hint of cooked/stewed fruits? Intriguing!
Steeped, I did find I was underwhelmed with the taste though. The roast level was pretty nice; sort of medium to high roast with some cocoa element and nutty qualities; like a heavily roasted hazelnut/chestnut mix with some mineral elements. I didn’t really get any “plum” or fruitiness at all from the cup; in fact really the only other note was that weird sort of semi-creamy and herbaceous dill note that I sometimes get from more heavily roasted/oxidized oolongs that no one else ever seems to notice. Plus, the whole infusion just felt a little bit flat/dull. I think I just needed more; more nuance, “levels” of flavour, and some bitterness or acidity or something to give more life to the body of this sip. All in all, it felt kinda one note…
Short little Gong Fu session after work on Thursday night…
I didn’t want to brew too many steeps of this since I wasn’t in the mood for a caffeine buzz at eight or nine at night, but I had maybe five steeps and since I was very heavy handed on the leaf I used all of them were quite strong/flavourful. Very similar though – brisk, full bodied tea with strong chocolate notes, a bit of malt, and some raisin/smoke undertones.
Just saying, The Taxpayers are my current music obsession right now and I HIGHLY recommend checking out their music. It’s so good.
It’s been a while since I last had a really good Golden Monkey, but this was a good Golden Monkey!! I brewed it up Gong Fu last weekend and drank it at the same time as I was enjoying a baked brie with crab apple topping on Parmesan crisps, with slices of asian pear. I could wax poetic about how amazing the tea was and how amazing the food was for, well, forever but to keep it simple…
The pairing worked VERY well because, throughout all thirteen steeps, the tea tasted strongly and deliciously of milk chocolate – and chocolate just really compliments all of the different elements of the food: creamy cheeses, red apples, pear. Like, it ALL just went together in a super fluid way. I don’t want to be completely immodest, but this pairing was basically a stroke of genius on my part.
10/10 – would drink while enjoying baked brie again.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cream, Malt
Exciting news — I’m within a weekend tasting fest or two of completing the taste-and-write-an-initial-note-about-all-the-teas-in-my-cupboard project! After today, the count is:
pu erh: 4
This isn’t my entire tea universe as there is still the random selection of pu erh samples to taste and a few newly arrived teabag and other single serving samples, but it will be another little tea project accomplished.
I may be out of town next weekend, though, which means accomplishing the goal will need to wait until later in the month. But I’m pretty excited about being within striking distance.
The dry leaf of this one has a lovely creamy-floral green smell.
Gaiwan. 195F, rinse, 15 seconds plus 5 for each additional steep.
The tea is a pale yellow with a green tinge. It has a natural dairy smell that does not seem to have been artificially enhanced, with some floral notes as well. It is light bodied and smooth.
This is different than other “pouchongs” I have had, which tend to be more oxidized. This one is very green, and although it isn’t as floral as some of my favorite green oolongs, it’s really lovely.
Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Floral, Green
While I don’t think this is a 100 like some others who have rated it, I agree that it’s a really special tea.
In the packet, it smells like roasted peanuts or cashews. In any case a legume-nut roasted smell. The leaves look like a typical green oolong rolled green leaves, and they unfurl to a volume that is significantly greater than their dry volume. But that’s where the comparison stops to other green oolongs I have had.
Gaiwan. 195F. Rinse, then steeped starting at 15 seconds and adding 5 to each subsequent steep.
The roasted nut smell is primarily the smell of the steeped tea, except for a very strong, sweet, floral note. The tea is more golden-amber in color than a typical green oolong, but not as dark as a dark oolong.
The taste is also roasted nuts (heavier on the nuts than the roasting) and sweet flowers, with a bit of a fruity note around the edges. I wouldn’t call it peach though I can’t pin it down. The flavor isn’t heavily stonefruit in the way of some dark oolongs. No cream, no butter, no milk in the way of some green oolongs.
Basically, it has a flavor that is different than a lot of other oolongs I’ve had. Not as different as the Hawaiian one I had earlier today, but also very tasty.
Untasted, un-noted cupboard update:
Pu erh: 6
Herbal (rooibos): 1
Blooming single servings: 5
I’m going to remove the blooming ones from the cupboard. I think they’re more like samples since they are one of each.
Which means 12 teas left to taste and write notes about, not including the tea bag samples, the blooming teas, and the sample pu erhs.
I don’t think I’m going to be writing more notes today since it is after 11:30. But at this rate, I should be through my cupboard by the end of the month (or before).
It may take longer to get through the pu erh samples.
Flavors: Floral, Peanut, Roasted nuts, Sweet
So, I finished this one off Gong Fu last weekend – and despite knowing in the moment that I should write about it right away or I’d forgot a lot of the details of the session I still put off writing that tasting note. #chronicprocrastinator
I do remember that the flavour was very similar to what I observed when I drank this Western style – just more nuanced, and developing over time. Just so incredibly sweet and smooth; primarily this thick and rich honey note but also different intensities of florals, jammy fruits, and sweet potato through the very long, drawn out session. Like – eighteen infusions long! It’s been quite a while since I’ve brewed up a black tea Gong Fu with that much staying power!
Thanks again to the coworkers, and chaolystea who recommended this one for me! It’s probably the first tea from Red Blossom that I’ve been deeply impressed by and that I would actually purchase for myself!
So this tea was actually recommended to me by three different people – Chaolystea on instagram, and two separate people at the office. One of the office people actually had some of this in their personal tea stash, and was nice enough to bring me a sample bag of it to try for myself.
Quick side bar just to say how weird it feels to say/type “my office” as I really never pictured myself as the kind of person who would ever end up working in that sort of environment – it feels strangely and absurdly “adult” of me to say it and almost a ‘Ha! I fooled you into hiring me and thinking I was an adult worthy of working in an office!’ type of situation…
But anyway; as per coworker recommendations I brewed this first cup strong – a little extra leaf, and a longer than normal steep time for a Western cup. I was surprised that the infusion was actually super light bodied and smooth, even with all the extra brewing. Also, I suppose, glad for the advice because based on the infusion that I yielded this would have tasted very weak following my usual Western style preparation.
As light bodied as it was though, it was deeply delicious and I ca 100% see why so many people had encouraged me to try it. The body was a beautiful mix of soft floral notes and creamed honey, and the undertones were delicate caramelized peach and oter stone fruit notes with a tiny, tiny hint of cinnamon. It tied together beautifully as an overall profile and made for a very nuanced, balanced profile. I especially liked the lingering sweetness on the tip of my tongue following finishing a sip; like that sticky sweet residue you get after eating a good piece of toffee – only flavoured like honey instead of caramel.
I have some more of the coworker’s sample left – and I was told I should Gong Fu what I have left so that’s what I’m going to do. SUPER excited about how lovely that Gong Fu session will probably be though!
It was bound to happen. As I started to get to what looked like the last few oolongs, I found I hadn’t entered this one into my cupboard. Sigh. So now I have more tea than I thought I had.
But perhaps the good news is that I may have less than I thought I had. I haven’t been able to locate in my stash a couple of the teas that were already in my Steepster cupboard. Unless they’ve been put somewhere I wouldn’t ordinarily put them by someone else in the household, I’m throwing in the towel on them, on the theory that I sipped them down before without recording them. Or just entered them by mistake, which seems more likely. One was a Lupicia “milky” oolong and it’s possible I entered that under a more generic entry at first and then entered it under its actual name later. Same with a Chicago Tea Room tieguanyin. Who knows.
In any case, this tea. You’re going to think I’m weird, but when I stuck my nose in the packet, I thought “peanut butter.” There’s a nutty smell that has a toasted edge to it. On further consideration, it is likely almond. This is all very interesting, because the dry leaves look like your standard green oolong. Varying hues of green, rolled into balls.
Gaiwan. Rinse, 190F (still can’t get the Zo to heat up to 195F today for some reason), 15 seconds +5 for each subsequent steep.
This is a really, really nice tea. It’s color is definitely that of a green oolong, a medium yellow, rather than that of a dark oolong.
It smells a little nutty, a little fruity (peach?), and a lot honey — not roasty toasty like a dark oolong or floral buttery like a green one. It seems to exist in a sort of in between the dark and the green. The flavor is just like the smell. It’s mild, light bodied, and easy to drink.
Giving it high marks for being unusual (and tasty).
Flavors: Almond, Honey, Peach, Peanut, Roasted, Toasty
When I read “infused with the creaminess of milk” I thought I would dislike this. I’ve not had the best of luck with so-called milk oolongs with an exception or two. I have come close to gagging on some of the heavier ones.
So when I smelled the dry leaf of this in the packet, I was prepared for the worst. It has a sort of sprayed on buttery thing going on, like the butter flavor in butter flavored popcorn. In the packet, it smells to me like white rice as a butter delivery vehicle.
Gaiwan. 190F (for some reason my water isn’t heated all the way to 195 in the Zo), rinse, steep for 15 seconds plus 5 per steep for four steeps.
The first steep is pale yellow, which darkens to a champagne yellow and is clear. The third steep darkened to a yellow that was as buttery as the aroma.
The steeped tea’s aroma is also very rice-butter but the flavor is much milder.
There is definitely milk and cream, and maybe a little butter, in the flavor but there’s a sweetness that keeps it from heading toward buttermilk. It’s actually a pretty unique flavor, one I can’t recall tasting in other oolongs. It doesn’t really present as fruity to me, but perhaps that’s what I’m tasting, the hints of passionfruit and mango, and I’m just not recognizing it as such. The caramel is more apparent to me.
It’s always fun when you go into tasting a tea expecting to be horrified and you’re pleasantly surprised. While this is a shadow of the The O Dor, it’s one of the better milk flavored oolongs I’ve had, even with the “infused” bit.
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Cream, Milk, Popcorn, Rice
So it turns out that I had another of the Red Blossom Phoenix oolongs in my collection. Cool.
In the packet it has a sharp, dark oolong smell that has some roasty-toasty elements but also a metallic/rock one.
Gaiwan. Rinse. 195F, 15 seconds plus five for each subsequent steep.
It’s an apricot color and clear, and definitely has honey notes in the aroma and flavor. I also get something that’s a little like rice? On the first couple of steeps I don’t get anything particularly floral, but there is something fruity. When I first saw someone else’s note about passion fruit I was skeptical, but it actually could be that!
Also, there are hints of something nutty in the later steeps.
It’s a very interesting and complex little tea. I can imagine it being the sort of thing you can taste differences in depending upon when you drink it, whether you’ve had other teas or food earlier in the day, and other factors.
Rating it the same as the almond version. It is different — more subtle, more complex — but I like them about the same.
Flavors: Honey, Metallic, Nutty, Passion Fruits, Rice, Roasted, Toasty, Wet Rocks
Dammit. I hit the wrong thing and lost the note I wrote on this. I’ll try to recreate.
I started by saying something self-deprecating about how I was still drinking tea even though I said I was going to stop given the hour. It’s a rainy, cold day that begs for curling up with something to warm your hands and your chest. So I am cheating. I hope I don’t stay up all night as a result.
Then I’d said that I found nothing really different about the smell of the dry leaf, which is roasty-toasty and has a sharp note like a lot of other dark oolongs I’ve had.
But then, I said, that all changed in the steeping. Gaiwan. Rinse. 195F starting at 15 seconds and adding 5 seconds for each subsequent steep.
The tea is a rich amber and clear. The first steep brought out a surprising cherry note, and a cinnamon note, that I did not expect. Really interesting change up from other teas of this type.
The second steep brought out caramel-toffee notes, as additions, not as notes that supplanted the others. The cinnamon note was in the fore in steep 3.Reading some of the negative notes about this I feel as though I was tasting a completely different tea than they describe. My experience was awesome.
Flavors: Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon, Roasted, Toasty, Toffee
Getting a very late start to the morning.
The family wanted to eat dinner before going to the concert last night, which resulted in us having to rush on the other end to find parking. Who knew there were so many parking lots around the SAP center? Anyway, after finally finding parking we had to hustle to walk what seemed like about half a mile to the venue.
We were walking down the stairs to ours seats when Bennie and the Jets started. The usher kind of gestured us to where we were supposed to go with the result that we ended up in the wrong seats — we were actually supposed to be several rows forward of where we were, which we found out during All the Girls Love Alice. So the entry was a bit chaotic. I had wanted to get there early enough to get drinks and maybe a T shirt, but c’est la vie. I was so thirsty by the end of the concert I bought four bottles of water from a street vendor and drank two of them on the walk back to the car.
By the way, we forgot where we parked. So we wandered around a bit before finding a kindly police officer who gave us some suggestions. We finally got home around 12:30.
Anyway, not sure I’ll drink much tea this morning since it’s almost noon.
But this one is very mellow and nice. The dry leaves have a rice-like aroma in the packet along with a very green note. The leaves are green to yellowish green and tightly balled.
Gaiwan. 195F. Rinse. 15 seconds +5 through four steeps.
This is really lovely. A gentle, primarily floral aroma and flavor. Along with the floral, there’s a surprisingly pleasing vegetal flavor (spinach?). The wet leaves smell like spinach.
The tea is a rather deep yellow and clear. Later steeps have a quality that is brothy, not savory, just satisfying in a way that feels nourishing on a cold rainy day.
Flavors: Broth, Floral, Green, Spinach, Vegetal
Red Blossom’s site has some interesting info about Phoenix Oolongs and how they are from single groves grown to emulate the flavor or fragrance of a particular fruit or flower. This one is “almond,” and so of course I was looking for the almond fragrance when I stuck my nose into the freshly opened packet.
And yeah, it’s there. It’s in and around the roasty-toasty, sharp, dark oolong dry leaf fragrance and to some extent overpowered by that aspect, but it’s there. The leaves are dark brown, twisty, and after a rinse look a little like birds nest material.
Gaiwan. 195F. Rinse. 15 seconds + 5 for each subsequent steep.
The tea is a light amber color and clear. It definitely has an almond note in the aroma and the flavor, which fascinates me. Having had a lot of almond flavored teas, that a tea can have this sort of flavor naturally is really cool.
The tea is fairly mild compared to what I was expecting from the sharp note of the dry leaves. That sharpness is filed off in the flavor, leaving a smooth roastiness.
I’m finding it a comforting tea for a winter morning. It didn’t change for me over four steeps, other than to become a bit stronger and rounder in flavor after the first steep, but the almond note sets is apart from other darker oolongs I’ve had. It makes me want to try the other Phoenix oolongs on Red Blossom’s site and see if they all do justice to the fruits or flowers they are meant to emulate.
Flavors: Almond, Roasted, Toast
Yesterday I tried an aged Tung Ting from Red Blossom and the difference between the two is remarkable. In look and smell, the dried leaves are much greener than those of yesterday.
I steeped in the gaiwan after rinse at 195F starting at 15 seconds and increasing by 5.
The tea is a pale yellow color and has a floral note as well as a diary one. It’s much more like some other green oolongs I’ve had than the Tung Ting of yesterday.
The flavor is somewhere between that of a milk oolong and a green ali shan to my taste buds. Not as milky as the milk oolong, not as floral as the ali shan.
A very pleasant tea that I could sit with for a long time. It hadn’t faded by steep four, but I needed to move on to other things today.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Green, Milk
I didn’t expect this to be as dark as it is. The leaves have a green oolong roll going, but they’re more of a brown color and they smell pretty roasty.
Gaiwan. 195F. Rinse. 15 seconds +5 each time for subsequent steeps.
The liquor is an amber color and the tea smells mildy roasty. Interestingly, the wet leaves gave off a whiff of something very honeydew like.
The tea tastes very mild. It’s not a strong flavor, but it does have something interesting about it. There is a cocoa note of sorts, mocha maybe. But it’s a suggestion more than a flavor and it’s mixed with something fruity. The cocoa note is quite pronounced in the cup after the tea is gone.
I’m not sure I’ve had a candied plum, but if the fruity flavor I’m tasting is what they taste like, they’re delicious! This is a really special tea. It has a lot of complexity to it, just when I think I have a flavor pinned down it morphs into something else. I see that some other folks got dates — not really getting that but I’m on the look out for it. It is, though, a really wonderful combination of confectionery chocolate family flavors and fruity flavors.
What a lovely way to start the day!
Flavors: Cocoa, Fruity, Honeydew, Mocha, Plums, Roasted
Somewhat delicate for a black tea. Very easy to oversteep this tea or use too hot of water, both of which hide the flavor complexity. Would recommend stepping down the temperature to the 190-195 range to better bring out the complexity.
Flavors: Caramel, Honey
Either 2017 or 2018 Spring Harvest; not totally sure.
Drank this one Grandpa style yesterday all throughout my lunch break and then for a few hours afterwards as I did some data entry type stuff…
This was amazing! Incredibly fresh tasting, with a beautiful body to the flavour and very creamy, silky mouthfeel. The predominant flavour was this sort of fresh/fragrant mix of florals that evoked this sort of “Spring time flowers in bloom” imagery for me; osmanthus/magnolia/lilac/etc. Also some creaminess in terms of flavour as well and then a tinge of sweet nutty notes (almond/marzipan-ish) in the finish. Just very rich, in a Spring-y kind of way.
Gorgeous leaf too! Giant, full leaves in a rich emerald colour. Kind of in love with this one, not gonna lie!
The last white tea in my cupboard now has been tasted and written about!
Whew. Tomorrow I should complete the oolong samples. After that, I’m not sure what will be next to finish. I think I may have more pu erh samples than pu erhs in the cupboard, so perhaps it will be cupboard pu erhs next.
In any case, this is an excellent note to end on. I love the shape of the little “eyes” and they smell positively juicy with jasmine in the packet.
I steeped a bit hotter and longer than usual after reading some of the notes here. That gave me a golden yellow, clear tea, that smells wonderfully of jasmine.
While I’m not getting the buttercream frosting reference at all (the tea isn’t particularly sweet other than the standard jasmine floral sweetness) and the mouthfeel isn’t creamier than usual, it’s a really delicious jasmine that meets all of my “this is good jasmine” criteria. Because it’s a white tea, I don’t really taste any tea — just the jasmine.
But that’s not a bad thing.
I forgot I even had this. It was in a sealed, never opened packet.
When I first started drinking green tea I didn’t get dragonwell. But now I love it. And despite its age, this one smells wonderful in the packet. A little juicy-vegetal, a little sweet grass/hay, a little nutty. After steeping, its a pale, clear golden yellow and smells like sweet grass.
It’s slightly sweet, slightly nutty, and a little grassy in flavor. I think I’d also taste the asparagus everyone else tastes if not for the fact I just ate some asparagus for lunch.
It’s hitting the spot after today’s special Pokemon event. Alas, I didn’t get a shiny Gengar. :-(
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Nutty, Vegetal
Continuing with the project to get through all the teas in my cupboard and write a note about them, this is today’s green. After yesterday’s disappointment with frothless matcha, I am thinking I will skip the matcha candidate today and go directly to oolongs after this.
The dry leaves in the packet smell wonderfully sweet, like fresh mown hay. Which makes me think of Elton John’s Skyline Pigeon for the first time in years.
The steeped tea is, remarkably, colorless. The only thing that indicates it isn’t just water is some suspended solids in the tea. The aroma, too, is very faint. A tinge of sweetness and butter.
The flavor is subtle, but lovely. A freshly grassy, slightly nutty, slightly buttery flavor. I would like to taste this one on a rested palate, as I believe there is more to it that I am missing having had a couple of heavily flavored teas already this morning.
Flavors: Butter, Hay, Nutty
Sipdown no. 110 of 2018 (no. 466 total). A sample.
The sample packet contained just enough to both try this and sip it down. Made in the gaiwan at 195F.
I accidentally knocked the gaiwan over and a lot of the leaves spilled out right after the rinse. I got discombobulated and started the steeps at 30 sec. instead of my usual 15.
I’m deeply disappointed to note that Red Blossom no longer has this on their web site because this was awesome!
The aroma of the steeped tea is almost equal parts delicate floral and roasted, sweet depth. The flavor is reminiscent of caramelized sugar and raw, dark honey. The tea is light amber in color and clear.
The second steep, a bit longer (45 sec) , highlighted the roastiness. The tea has a soft mouthfeel and leaves a bit of freshness in the mouth as well. Someone else mentioned pine, and I think it is more that than menthol or camphor — the freshness is like what comes out of a broken pine needle.
Steep 3 (1 minute) is similar to steep 2, and at this point I’ve decided to just savor and enjoy through another steep or two rather than interrupt the enjoyment to take notes.
This tea has a lot of character, and a smoothness and lingering sweetness that makes it extremely easy to drink.
I want more, and alas, it appears that isn’t in the cards.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Floral, Honey, Roasted
Sipdown no. 105 of 2018 (no. 461 total).
As a cold tea, it’s not just water and indeed is rather tasty. This is a pattern for me. Cold brew probably brings out the flavor of white tea in a way that hot water is supposed to but doesn’t for me. Which makes me wonder whether I should just heat up the cold brew to understand how white tea is really supposed to taste?