Taiwan Tea Crafts

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Recent Tasting Notes

91

I’m continuing to make progress on the backlog here. This was the last tea in my Dong Ding sampler that I got around to trying mostly because I was a little intimidated by its reputation. I did not want to try it until I was certain that I would not screw it up, finally getting to that point in mid-late June. Naturally, I am just now finding the motivation to review it on Steepster. Anyway, this was an excellent tea, and I could easily see why most other reviewers loved it. That being said, I tend to feel that these super high end competition teas do not represent the best value to regular tea drinkers and would not recommend a tea like this over some of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ other Dong Ding oolongs. Honestly, it was not even my favorite in that particular sampler tin despite its quality.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, I detected aromas of char, wood, toasted rice, and vanilla. After the rinse, I discovered a new roasted grain aroma. The first infusion then introduced a hint of cream to the nose. In the mouth, I picked up light notes of cream, roasted grain, and toasted rice that were chased by impressions of butter, wood, and maple candy on the swallow. The following infusions introduced clear spruce and pine-like aromas with some sugary maple candy touches and hints of pear, apple, and roasted nuts. Stronger butter notes and vanilla came out in the mouth. New impressions of banana leaf, coffee, grass, minerals, apple, pear, roasted almond, roasted cashew, pine, roasted hazelnut, sour plum, and roasted walnut also appeared along with some fleeting sugarcane hints. The final infusions were very smooth, offering lingering cream, vanilla, and toasted rice notes up front before transitioning to reveal subtler notes of minerals, butter, grass, and roasted nuts. Interestingly, I also got an uptick in pine character on the swallow that was accompanied by belatedly emerging juniper and olive oil hints on the lengthiest infusions.

This was a very complex Dong Ding oolong with a gradually shifting mouthfeel and nice body in the mouth. Its profile was interesting, steadily evolving, and very appealing overall. Even when I cut the review session off, I got the impression that this tea still had a little life left to it, so I have no clue what else it would have revealed. It was an excellent tea, though it was definitely something more suited to special occasions or situations in which intense focus must be maintained during the brewing and drinking processes. So, while I loved it, this probably would not be a tea for everyone or one I would choose to have on a regular basis if it were available to me. I don’t know. This was a great tea, but there are funner, more accessible, and less intense Dong Ding oolongs out there.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Butter, Char, Coffee, Cream, Grain, Grass, Hazelnut, Herbaceous, Maple, Mineral, Nutty, Olive Oil, Pear, Pine, Plums, Roasted, Sugarcane, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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88

Here is another tea from the backlog. It was the last tea in my Shanlinxi sampler that I ended up trying. I think I either finished it around the end of May or start of June. Shanlinxi is quite famous for its jade oolongs, and admiteddly, those are the Shanlinxi teas with which I am most familiar. I have to say, though, that I found this roasted oolong to be very good. It was certainly a pleasant change of pace from the more typical Shanlinxi offerings.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 char, baked bread, wood, and roasted peanut. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of cream, butter, and toasted rice. The first infusion did not really add anything new. In the mouth, I detected subtle notes of char, cream, butter, toasted rice, and roasted peanut that were chased by vegetal undercurrents and some vague sweetness on the swallow. Subsequent infusions introduced hints of umami, stone fruit, and sugarcane on the nose. Wood came out in the mouth along with new flavors of minerals, umami, cooked lettuce, grass, cucumber, sugarcane, vanilla, pear, and plum. The final infusions offered lingering mineral, toasted rice, cream, and butter notes that were backed by hints of grass, pear, and belatedly emerging juniper.

All in all, this was a very good roasted oolong. The roast was not that heavy, so some of the tea’s more vegetal qualities were quite evident. It was very well-balanced in the mouth with good body and respectable longevity too. I suppose I will have to try a few more teas of this type in the near future because this one surprised and impressed me.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Char, Cream, Cucumber, Grass, Herbaceous, Lettuce, Mineral, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Sugarcane, Toasted Rice, Umami, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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87

This is like the chicken noodle soup of black tea. It’s gentle and delicate, bordering on bland but enjoyable for what it is. Although its technically a black tea, it’s processed similarly to a oolong hence the name. The leaves are loosely rolled like an oolong and the steeped tea is a very light amber color. There’s almost no malt here and no bitterness. It’s got a sweet honeyed taste with notes of berries, rose, and buttercream. Very soft and light bodied.

I gongfued this but have a feeling western steeping may coax out a stronger flavor and perhaps the citrusy notes TTC mentions. Black tea aficionados will probably be bored by this tea however as a fan of light teas, I find this a good choice for relaxed casual drinking.

Flavors: Berries, Cream, Honey, Raisins, Rose, Wet Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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72

Call me weird but drinking a tea that not only tastes good, but also has bang for the buck adds a certain satisfaction to the experience. Though I enjoy fancy high mountain oolongs, they can be expensive and I’m always on the look out for good value teas. I love being surprised every once in a while by a humble jin xuan or some other inexpensive low elevation tea. One such tea was BTTC’s Old Style Dong Ding from a few years ago.

I picked this up in the hopes of finding a good daily drinker and maybe something more but unfortunately this one did not pass muster. This has a very basic oolong taste. Actually its vegetal taste makes it more like a green tea and it suffers from a lack of aromatics. There’s a honeyed sweetness to it but no real depth, texture, or mouthfeel to speak of. The washed out taste reminds me of the last steeping of a higher quality oolong. It does cold steep well so that’s how I’ll drink the rest of it. The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ certainly applies here.

Flavors: Honey, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 80 ML
Bluegreen

Hi LuckyMe. What do you think about Taiwan Tea Crafts? I noticed that I reviewed quite a few teas from them and your ratings have been oscillating widely from low 60s to 100. I am considering ordering from them and I am curious if such a wide variation reflects your exacting personal preferences or if their teas offerings are really uneven.

LuckyMe

Bluegreen, TTC generally has good quality tea and I would recommend them for Taiwanese oolongs. That being said, single origin teas can vary wildly from one harvest to another and last year’s teas were generally not as good as the ones I’ve had in previous years. It was true not only of TTC, but Taiwanese teas from other vendors as well.

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Sipdown (642)!

This one was passed along to me by Kittenna a little while ago, and I decided a couple days ago to dig into it with a brand new grogged clay shiboridashi as a Gong Fu session. I was sort of loosely taking the advice of some Slack tea chat people about what type of tea might work in that type of clay, and based on that advice this seemed like a good starting point!

This was definitely one of those sessions where I didn’t really worry about being technical or precise; I just used the whole sample from Kittenna and went with infusion times/steeps that just sort of felt right. I also didn’t track the number of infusions, but I’d estimate about eight or nine? I went until there was no more defined flavour notes in the tea; so the leaf wasn’t 100% spent, but pretty close to it.

It was a really nice session overall; this was a really sweet and flavourful tea right off the bat. First infusions were definitely a little more woody and malty, but then they started to give way to this beautiful array of sweet/jammy fruit notes. Lots of initial red fruit elements, like currants and berries, but most delicious to me was this orange note that really lingered on the tip of my tongue – like a mix of caramelized orange, sweet marmalade, and fresh orange juice! Light notes of honey also.

Just a really pleasant session; the tea felt so well rounded and balanced while maintaining that great sweetness! I’m going to experiment with other things in this shibo, but I think this was a great first selection – I’ll definitely be trying other Taiwanese blacks in it to see if that’s something that consistently brews well!

Thanks again for the share, Kittenna!

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91

This was the other tea I received in my Longfengxia sampler tin last year. Like the winter oolong from that set, I finished my sample of this tea back around the start of May. Oddly, I reviewed that one first on Steepster, but I actually tried this tea and wrote a rough draft of a review for it prior to the winter oolong. Even though this was not the last tea I tried from that sampler, it is the last of the trio to get a review here on Steepster. Like the other two, I found a lot to love about this tea, and that is really saying something considering I normally prefer the high mountain oolongs produced from the winter picking to those produced from the spring picking.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of sugarcane, cream, butter, and vanilla with some vague floral hints in the background. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of custard, violet, and lilac. The first infusion introduced some umami character and stronger, fuller floral aromas to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, and sugarcane chased by grass, spinach, coriander, kale, umami, and vanilla impressions. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn more vegetal, as the vegetal notes I found in the mouth at the tail end of the initial steep made themselves known on the nose. Violet, lilac, and custard belatedly emerged in the mouth alongside new impressions of lychee, Asian pear, pineapple, green apple, minerals, orange zest, steamed rice, and seaweed. The last infusions offered lingering notes of minerals, cream, and butter backed by hints of umami, sugarcane, steamed rice, and spinach.

Of the three Taiwan Tea Crafts Longfengxia offerings I sampled, this was by far the quirkiest, liveliest, and most fascinating overall. It was not my favorite of the three (I still have a huge soft spot for the winter oolongs), but it was the most memorable since it stuck with me longer than the others. I know I expressed this viewpoint in my review for this tea’s winter sibling, but make a point of checking out some of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ Longfengxia offerings. The few I have tried have all been more or less exceptional.

Flavors: Butter, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Kale, Lychee, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pear, Pineapple, Rice, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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93

Here is another blast from the past review. I finally got around to drinking my sample of this tea back around the start of May (I received it as part of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ Longfengxia sampler). Naturally, I have been sitting on this review, like so many others, ever since. Though it is now very much out of season and out of stock, I found this tea to be an excellent high mountain oolong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of cream, butter, sugarcane, vanilla, and gardenia. After the rinse, umami came out on the nose alongside a subtle custard scent. The first infusion then brought out a somewhat stronger umami character. In the mouth, I noted flavors of cream, butter, vanilla, sugarcane, and gardenia accompanied by unexpected sweet corn, orange blossom, and grass notes. Subsequent infusions introduced hints of orange zest and orange blossom to the nose. New impressions of minerals, honeydew, orange zest, hyacinth, narcissus, spinach, pear, tangerine, coconut, and steamed milk appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging custard notes. The final infusions emphasized lingering mineral, umami, tangerine, coconut, and orange zest notes balanced by subtle touches of butter, cream, pear, and custard.

As stated earlier, this was a very nice high mountain oolong. Longfengxia is rapidly becoming one of my favorite terroirs; I have not had a bad tea from the area to this point. Definitely check out some of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ Longfengxia offerings. My limited experience with them indicates that they are all very much worth trying.

Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Coconut, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeydew, Milk, Mineral, Narcissus, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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96

Just when I thought I was getting tired of green oolongs, along comes this tea to pull me back in. I honestly didn’t have high expectations for this regular grade baozhong given how the high end versions have failed to excite me lately. But this easily surpasses much of the competition grade stuff I’ve had this year.

It’s got a silky, smooth texture and notes of sweet pea, gardenia, lilac, and jasmine. It doesn’t have the egginess that some baozhongs have which I find off putting. Decided to cold brew it today and it was heavenly. It became thicker, sweeter, and more intensely floral. About the only difference I can discern between this and TTC’s competition grade baozhong is the latter is a bit more fragrant. But in the end the taste is what matters.

I must commend Taiwan Tea Crafts for how well-packaged their teas are. I opened this tea after it sat on the shelf for over 4 months and it smelled and tasted very fresh. The oxygen absorbers and vacuum packaging used by reputable Taiwanese and Japanese vendors really makes a big difference. It helps preserve optimum freshness. Green oolongs are the most perishable of all teas and nothing annoys me more than tea shops that throw them in pouches or otherwise improperly package them. The aromatics suffer and tea develops a telltale stale seaweed note.

Flavors: Flowers, Gardenias, Jasmine, Peas

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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97

Mmm, this is deliciously sweet and roasty. It reminds me of eating a roll hot from the oven! I’m glad to be getting around yo more of the samples I bought from this company.

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87

My third tea from the TTC Taiwanese black sampler. Dry leaf had an intriguing aroma of raisin and black licorice. Wet leaf though smelled slightly off putting. I’d describe it as a pungent earthy-malt aroma mixed with that of a bug bitten oolong. Thankfully it didn’t taste like how it smelled. This one reminded me of golden fleece with it’s mellow baked sweet potato/pumpkin flavor. There’s also some malt and faint hints of cocoa here and there. The pumpkin peaks early and the tea become sweeter and smooth in the next cups.

While this was a nice tea, it’s not something I will rush to re-order when there are other comparable Chinese teas that offer similar flavors. My impression of Taiwanese blacks so far is they don’t really stand out from the crowd. It could be that I haven’t had found the right one yet, but Yunnan and Fujian blacks seem more robust and flavorful to me.

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Pumpkin, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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88

The change in flavor between harvests can be quite interesting. This winter’s bao zhong was very TGY-like. There’s the usual heady lilacs you find in bao zhong but it also had the floral character of TGY.

I steeped this tea grandpa style, as I normally do with competition bao zhong teas. I started with 190 F degree water and topped off with boiling water once the glass was 1/3 – 1/2 full. The tea started off light but with an pleasant floral flavor. It tasted like the early steeps of TGY. Notes of violets, orchid, and egg custard were detected. After a few more steeps, the egginess subsided and the tea developed a fuller, more rounded floral sweetness. Following the first top off, the tea became lilac heavy with a rich mouthfeel that coated the entire tongue. Some vegetable broth and notes of sweet pea appear later on.

Though not as sublime as past bao zhongs, this was a solid tea with an interesting flavor profile and good longevity. It’s got nice flavor, but I expected more from a competition grade tea. I have the regular winter TGY from TTC and will be tasting it soon to see how it stacks up.

Flavors: Floral

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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96

It seems like spring has finally arrived here in Kentucky. We have been having warm, sunny weather for the past three days. It’s been great. Naturally, I wanted to celebrate the belated arrival of pleasant weather with a nice high mountain oolong, so I broke out my sample of this tea. I’m going to violate my Dayuling oolong rating rule again here, but I’m going to do it for a different reason this time. I’m doing it this time because this was a truly spectacular tea, one worthy of an exceptional rating in every way.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cream, butter, custard, vanilla, hyacinth, and gardenia. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of sugarcane, violet, and grass. The first infusion then brought out hints of cinnamon, steamed milk, and green apple on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of vanilla, cream, butter, custard, hyacinth, gardenia, violet, and green apple underscored by hints of cinnamon, sugarcane, steamed milk, and grass. Subsequent infusions revealed even more floral complexity and fruitiness on the nose with a slight uptick in vegetal character. New impressions of orchid, osmanthus, narcissus, minerals, pear, tangerine zest, coconut, spinach, and umami emerged in the mouth alongside subtle notes of pineapple and lychee. The previously subtle notes of sugarcane, steamed milk, cinnamon, and grass were also a little stronger, but not much. The lengthier final infusions offered lingering notes of minerals, green apple, grass, vanilla, and sugarcane accompanied by stronger pineapple notes and butter, umami, spinach, and pear undertones.

This ended up being the sort of Dayuling oolong for which I had been searching. I loved the powerful fruit and flower notes and the perfectly crisp vegetal impressions. This was an intensely aromatic, flavorful tea with wonderful body and texture in the mouth, yet it never seemed over-the-top or otherwise unbalanced in any way. Though it is now unavailable, I would have been willing to buy a larger amount of this tea had I gotten to it sooner. I will be on the lookout for other Dayuling oolongs like this one in the future.

Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus, Coconut, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Lychee, Milk, Mineral, Narcissus, Orchid, Osmanthus, Pear, Pineapple, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Ice and sleet storm here. Ugh.

Daylon R Thomas

There is supposed to be one coming into Port Huron, too. Hope you take care up there Evol. And curse our entirely too similar and pricey tastes, eastteaguy!. BTW, the Iris Orchid Dan Cong from Golden Tea Leaf is impressive.

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93

Alright, here is the final review of the day. I’m clearly still working my way through all of these high mountain oolong samples from Taiwan Tea Crafts. Hopefully I can finish them within the next month. I have to say that the quality of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ offerings has greatly impressed me thus far. Like the vast majority of the other teas I have tried from them, this one was both excellent and unique.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of butter, cream, violet, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I found new aromas of custard, vanilla, and honey. The first infusion then revealed aromas of puff pastry and lemon zest. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, butter, custard, and sugarcane that were chased by touches of violet and puff pastry. The honey and lemon zest had yet to reveal themselves on the palate at this point. The following infusions then revealed honey and lemon zest in the mouth while new impressions of grass, spinach, coconut milk, minerals, coriander, almond, lychee, tangerine, seaweed, osmanthus, magnolia, pear, honeysuckle, and green apple emerged. The longer infusions at the tail end of the session offered lingering notes of minerals, cream, butter, and sugarcane underscored by hints of coriander, spinach, pear, seaweed, and green apple.

I’m beginning to get into Longfengxia oolongs and teas like this remind me of why that is. This was an extremely aromatic and flavorful tea with a ton of complexity and great body and texture in the mouth. I’m willing to bet that fans of high mountain oolongs would find a ton to enjoy in this tea. Here’s hoping that the remaining teas in my Longfengxia sampler will rival this one.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Citrus, Coconut, Coriander, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Milk, Mineral, Osmanthus, Pastries, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

Before I get to the meatier bits of this review, allow me to explain my numerical scoring of this tea in advance. My review session for this tea was interrupted by work. I started working my way through a sample pouch of this tea last Sunday, ended up having to leave my house in the middle of my review session to help my dad with some farm work, and then came back home between two and three hours later. I resumed my session at that point, but ended up having to leave again shortly thereafter to run errands for my mother. This occurrence necessitated me setting this tea aside for another hour before I could finally finish my session. These two lengthy interruptions caused something that should have taken a couple of hours take most of the day. Normally I will not assign Dayuling teas scores over 90 unless they really blow me away, but since this tea proved so resilient and adaptable, I bumped up what was going to be a score in the high 80s by a couple points. I found it to be a very good tea, but since it rose to the challenges presented by terribly fragmented, sloppy, unfocused brewing, I decided that it was only fair that I be a little more generous than usual.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by at least 13 subsequent infusions. In theory, steep times for these infusions were 10 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, and 3 minutes. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that no infusions were repeated due to the interruptions to my review session chronicled in the above paragraph. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure at least two or three infusions were repeated.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of butter, cream, vanilla, orchid, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I found emerging custard and narcissus scents underscored by some vague vegetal character. The first infusion then introduced spinach and umami scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of butter, cream, vanilla, and sugarcane that were chased by subtler notes of orchid, narcissus, grass, spinach, and umami. Subsequent infusions introduced new impressions of minerals, lychee, apricot, peach, pear, green apple, coconut, lettuce, and cucumber. There were also some stronger umami notes plus a vague coriander presence here and there on the swallow. The series of longer infusions at the tail end of the session offered mild notes of minerals, butter, cream, and sugarcane balanced by fleeting impressions of vanilla, umami, lettuce, and green apple.

I am usually more of a fan of winter Dayuling oolongs as I find them to be more robust, but this tea offered more than enough to please me. I was kind of surprised that it did not strike me as being more floral, but that also could have been due to my usual spring stuffiness and the disruptions to my review session that limited my ability to consistently focus on identifying aromas and flavors. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to try this tea under less chaotic circumstances, but honestly, I still greatly enjoyed it. Life may have gotten in the way, but hey, it did not sink this tea.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Coconut, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Green Apple, Lettuce, Lychee, Mineral, Narcissus, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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87

I’m still working my way through all of the sampler packs I bought from Taiwan Tea Crafts last year, but I’m making good progress. I think I only have nine of the 10g sample pouches left at this point. I finished this one sometime last week. I took a couple of days to work my way through a bunch of smaller oolong samples and this was one of the first teas I drank. I very much enjoyed it, but like many Dayuling teas, it would not be the sort of tea I would go out of my way to purchase often.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of butter, vanilla, cream, orchid, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of grass and cucumber. The first infusion then brought out a touch of violet on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered light, delicate notes of cream, butter, vanilla, grass, and sugarcane. Subsequent infusions revealed orchid, violet, and cucumber in the mouth. I also began to detect emerging notes of custard, narcissus, lemon zest, lettuce, spinach, umami, pineapple, tangerine, yellow/golden apple (kind of like Golden Delicious), Asian pear, and minerals. In addition to the previously listed components, I also noted much stronger sugarcane impressions as well as subtle sweet corn notes. The later infusions offered lingering notes of minerals, umami, cream, and butter balanced by subtler notes of vanilla, custard, citrus, and apple. Fleeting impressions of spinach came out on the swallow.

This was a very nice high mountain oolong with admirable depth, complexity, and longevity. Unfortunately, while it did offer some rather unique flavors (the yellow apple notes were a nice touch.), not much else separated this tea from the many other Taiwanese high mountain oolongs I have been drinking lately. Authentic Dayuling teas tend to be very expensive (this one being no exception) and I could not see myself purchasing a tea like this over two similar teas from elsewhere. As a drinking experience, this would be like a 94 for me, but in terms of value, it would be like an 80, so I split the difference and assigned this tea a numerical score of 87. Dayuling has to really wow me before I’ll assign a score of 90 or higher.

Flavors: Apple, Butter, Citrus, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Grass, Lemon Zest, Lettuce, Mineral, Narcissus, Orchid, Pear, Pineapple, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I felt the same way about Floating Leaves Dayuling…never mind it was excellent.

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65

Fairly decent. Strong roasted flavour with a little sweetness. No bitterness. A little one note though, not much here apart from the roast.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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30

Beware, tastes nothing like the 1993 Family Reserve the website compares it to (and which I very much liked).

Went through about 6 gongfu infusions. Quite a lot of bitterness. A nice buttery scent with hints of same in the taste. Otherwise very little here. Definitely none of the interesting aged flavours in the older versions of this from the vendor. Would not recommend at this point (will update after trying it a few more times and playing around with brewing parameters).

Flavors: Butter

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
loganrah

Grandpa brewed: This is much better. I would adjust my rating up to about 65 this way. Some hints of the cooling/menthol aged feeling as well as more interest in the flavour. Still a little bitter, buttery scent completely absent. Suggests that a longer ageing time might actually help here (will have to get a vacuum sealer…)

loganrah

I keep trying to like this tea, and underneath the bitterness I can just about detect something nice. But the bitterness is just crazy strong and ruins it. I’m putting most of what I have into storage in the hope that it might turn into something good in 10 or 20 years, but for the price you could buy tea that is that old now, or just much better younger oolong.

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88

As a fan of this terroir, I bought the Shan Lin Xi, Long Feng Xia, and Shibi winter harvests for comparison. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, and 120 seconds.

In the teapot, the leaves have heady aromas of flowers and sweetness. The first steep offers notes of wildflowers, orchids, and lilacs, although my palate for flowers is not too great and I’m kind of guessing. I also get grass, cream, and resin. The body is a bit thin, but the aftertaste is persistent.

The next few steeps are even sweeter and more floral, though I wouldn’t have identified this sweetness with corn. The balsam note is also very prominent, as is the “greenness” that accompanies it. Although this greenness gradually increases, there’s enough floral and sweet notes to keep it tasty. It only starts getting overwhelming around steep nine.

If you like floral oolongs with strong balsam notes, you’ll enjoy this tea. It also has good staying power for a green oolong. I highly recommend it!

Flavors: Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green, Orchids, Resin

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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96

This is my 6th straight harvest of Shibi oolong from TTC and once again it’s a magnificent tasting tea. There are some interesting changes from last winter’s super tropical, pina colada-y harvest. This year’s crop is all about the intense florals which hit you as soon as you open the pouch.

Dry leaf smells of fresh vegetation, cream, and daffodils. Following a rinse, wildflowers and magnolia appear along with vanilla cream and citrus notes.

The tea liquor has a bright green color. First steep tastes of sweet grass and orchid, teasing the tongue with glimpses of what’s to come. Subsequent steeps reveal thick, luscious flowers, and a faint hint of coconut cream. As the steeps progress, it becomes fruitier, gaining a nice syrupy viscosity and honey-like sweetness. The longevity of this tea is astounding. It simply doesn’t want to quit. I can easily push it to over 10 rounds and still get great flavor.

One thing to note about this tea is you need to be gentle with it. I start off most green oolongs at 195 F or so and crank the heat to boiling within a few steeps. For this one, you want to stay in the 185-190 F range and carefully increase the heat to coax out the delicate flowery notes otherwise it punishes you with astringency.

Officially my favorite tea from TTC and one of my top 3 Taiwanese high mountain oolongs of all time.

Flavors: Flowers, Fruity

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 90 ML
teepland

Sounds like an amazing tea! I will have to try the lower temperatures with green oolongs to see if that helps maintain the flavor.

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88

Second tea of my Taiwanese black tea sampler. The Sun Moon Lake T-18 was bust but this one did not disappoint. The long, graceful yancha like leaves are interspersed with orange twigs and smell like a mixture of cocoa, flowers, berries, and dark molasses. I brewed 3g in a 160ml teapot following my standard gongfu method for black teas: 30s initial infusion at boiling followed by flash steeps.

The first steep opened with sweet potato and then as it cooled, revealed chocolate and a hint of blackberries. Subsequent steeps were noticeably lighter. The second steep tasted of cocoa with overtones of vanilla bean and buttercream. The remaining 3 steeps were similar with prominent notes of berries, vanilla, and cream.

This was a mellow and tasty black tea that doesn’t hit you over the head with anything. The flavor profile was similar to some wuyi black and lapsang teas I’ve had. Enjoyable but doesn’t really set itself apart from other Chinese black teas.

Flavors: Berries, Cocoa, Cream, Molasses, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
Daylon R Thomas

That still sounds good.

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98

It’s time for a blast from the past. I finished a sample of this tea back around the end of January and stalled on posting a review until now. My fetishization of traditional Dong Ding oolongs should be apparent to all by this point in time, but I am willing to bet that the following statement will surprise at least a few of you: this may have been one of the best oolongs I have ever tried. I am making that statement in all seriousness. I found this tea to be that good. Just check out my numerical score. I may be rather liberal in my ratings at times, but you do not exactly see me handing out scores of 94 or higher all that frequently, now do you?

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I noted aromas of baked bread, toasted grain, praline, and vanilla coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I found emerging scents of roasted peanut, brown sugar, coffee, and sugarcane. The first proper infusion brought out touches of cinnamon, honey, and something rather floral on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented gentle notes of cinnamon, vanilla, sugarcane, coffee, toasted grain, praline, and roasted peanut underscored by hints of orchid, grass, orchard fruits, banana leaf, and graham cracker. Subsequent infusions brought out the orchid on the nose and the honey, brown sugar, and baked bread in the mouth. Distinct notes of apple and pear appeared alongside stronger impressions of grass, banana leaf, and graham cracker. New notes of cream, malt, orange zest, butter, roasted almond, cooked spinach, steamed milk, cantaloupe, seaweed, minerals, wood, cocoa, and caramelized banana emerged. By the time I reached the end of the session, I was mostly finding lingering notes of minerals, cream, cinnamon, apple, pear, toasted grain, malt, and vanilla infrequently backed by fleeting roasted almond, roasted peanut, grass, banana leaf, cooked spinach, wood, sugarcane, and seaweed impressions.

Holy Hell! This was a mammoth of a tea! Every time I dug in, I found something new and interesting. Not only that, but I am willing to bet that I could have kept going with this had I not been utterly exhausted both mentally and physically by the seven minute mark. What would this have had left at ten minutes and beyond? I still wish I could have pressed forward and found out. If you cannot try this, at least consider picking up Taiwan Tea Crafts’ newest iteration of it. I will very likely be doing the same. Their Dong Dings have now officially made my yearly purchase list.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cantaloupe, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Coffee, Cream, Graham Cracker, Grain, Grass, Honey, Malt, Milk, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Toasted, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Wow! Clearly, this rocked your boat.

Daylon R Thomas

Interesting. I may have to try it.

LuckyMe

It’s been a while since I’ve had a dong dong, but this review piques my curiosity. I’ll have to pick up a sample on my next order

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62

Backlog.

Weird is how I would describe this tea. It’s got this strange wood and menthol taste that I found off-putting. No aroma in the dry leaf. Wet leaf smelled like Vicks Vaporub and had some darjeeling woodsiness. The first steep tasted exactly like how it smelled. As it cooled, the menthol lessened a bit and I tasted more of the woodsy, bug bitten flavor. The next two steeps had the same medicinal taste.

I gongfued this tea and could have kept going but decided to stop after the 3rd steep. I really disliked the minty/menthol taste which seemed all that this tea had to offer. There wasn’t any depth nor did the tea change from steep to steep.

I’ve heard great things about Taiwanese black tea so my experience here was a letdown. This was one of four black teas in my Taiwanese black tea sampler pack from TTC. Hoping I have better luck with the others.

Flavors: Menthol, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
Chrysostom

I’m a big fan of their Yuchi Wild Mountain Black

LuckyMe

Thanks for the recommendation. Luckily I’ve got that one in my sampler pack. Will be trying it next.

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90

Drank this recently and greatly enjoyed it, although I can’t really write much. Basically, a delicious, sweet, toasty baked oolong. This is lot 364, for future reference.

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93

I ran out of this tea about a week ago, so won’t be writing a super-detailed review, but it’s a favorite black tea for me right now. I love the low-astringency blacks, and this one was rich and kind of sweet and starchy and its memory haunts me. I am definitely buying more in my next order (once I’ve tried my other TTC samples)!

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