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Recent Tasting Notes
This is a tricky little one. I have no experience with aged oolongs. Zippo. This tea right here is it. So, I have no other points of reference. Take everything that follows with a grain of salt!
I struggled with this tea. I first tried it four months ago and didn’t like it. Literally tasted like a charcoal briquette and some lighter fluid. It has been “airing out” and I decided to give it one more chance. I can say that it certainly has improved. Would it continue to improve with more airing out? Yes and no.
Yes – the roast is prominent. Very medicinal, phenolic. This aspect has definitely died down to something palatable after letting it breathe for four months. Probably would continue with more airing out.
No – the flavors simply aren’t there. The point of aging is to add complexity and layers of flavor. The interesting flavors that are here (prune, baking spice, orange-citrus) are light and not particularly long-lasting. It’s as if this tea has simply been aged too long, and the leaf has lost its potency.
There you have it. An interesting experience, but roasting an oolong to hell and back and letting it sit for twenty years is a lot of trouble for a return that isn’t very great.
Dry leaf: charcoal, lighter fluid, medicinal/phenolic, some prune and dry dark fruit sweetness – like some dry, dusty, left-in-the-cupboard old prunes. In preheated vessel – medicinal, lighter fluid, some prunes.
Smell: charcoal briquette, ash, vague dark fruit flavors and dry baking spices
Taste: arrival of charcoal briquette. Development has dry medicinal notes and hints of dry baking spices. Finish has slight creaminess and light hint of prune. Aftertaste slowly builds to orange-citrus, but is very light. Some hints of milk chocolate as aftertaste fades.
For a key to my rating scale, check out my bio.
Similar flavor profile to Taiwan Tea Crafts’ “superior” grade of the tea, but less astringent and even sweeter and more floral. The fragrance of this tea was definitely my favorite part – deliciously complex, juicy honey notes and very spicy but light florals. The flavor was surprisingly less complex than the fragrance, though the mouthfeel was enjoyable (medium-light viscosity, relatively smooth). Clear notes of rose, peppercorn, honey, and grape hyacinth, as well as lavender in the finish. Delicious, though quite similar to the “superior” grade, and for the price difference I would have to recommend that one over this mildly better counterpart.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Lavender, Mineral, Nectar, Peppercorn, Perfume, Rose, Spicy, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
For a key to my rating scale, check out my bio.
I must say I prefer the winter-picked versions of this tea, but this spring Da Yu Ling is still enjoyable. Dry scent in a hot gaiwan delivers intense cream, subtle eucalyptus notes, and a slightly unpleasant stale water smell. After the first infusion, the wet scent brings out gardenias and very fresh, grassy butter. Medium viscosity but very round on the palate. First infusion is crisp and light, with a nectar sweetness, florals, and fresh cream notes. Cream quickly fades to a sour floral note. One of my favorite parts of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ Da Yu Lings is the color of the leaves – they are the most intensely vibrant shades of green (blue-green, lime-green, and the richest dark green tones I’ve seen in any tea). It’s almost as if the leaves are back-lit in the gaiwan. A surprising tieguanyin fragrance comes through in the second and later infusions. The tea actually tastes like a tieguanyin as well, only with the added tropical notes typical of Taiwanese oolong (especially honeydew melon, tangerines, and a piña colada creamy-fruitiness). As the tea loses its floral top notes in later infusions, marine vegetal notes start to poke through (sencha, matcha, etc.) accompanied by a sugarcane grassy-sweetness. Unfortunately, this tea only lasted four infusions for me (I usually expect Taiwanese oolongs to brew at least six infusions before losing flavor).
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Coconut, Cream, Eucalyptus, Gardenias, Grass, Honeydew, Marine, Nectar, Pineapple, Smooth, Sugarcane
For a key to my rating scale, check out my bio.
An awesome value (great flavors for price). Tea starts out with nice creamy / malty / honey aroma and a medium-thick, floral, vanilla, cream, and honey-sweet flavor that gradually transitions to a more tannic (not too offensive), mineral, floral, and spicy flavor. The florals are so intense and linger on the palate and in the nose long after swallowing. This would be a truly amazing tea without the astringency that appears in later infusions, but for the affordable price I am happy to accept the tannins.
Flavors: Celery, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Lavender, Malt, Mineral, Nectar, Peppercorn, Perfume, Rose, Sweet Potatoes, Tannic, Vanilla, Vegetal
This is my second time trying out my sample of this black tea from Taiwan Tea Crafts. I don’t recall having a particularly strong impression from the last time I tried it, though I haven’t been drinking a ton of black tea.
My general impression of this is that it’s not unlike many other Asian black teas I’ve tried thus far, though it trades a little bit of the malty, chocolate notes for lighter, fruitier ones.
Brewing at just under boiling, the main character is mostly it’s mid-focused body and malty taste, which carries on into the aftertaste and maybe hints at a fruitiness in the high notes.
Continuing my brew adventure, the flavor of this tea generally seems to even out into something very smooth, sweet, and cozy. Most of it’s impression is focused around a mellow, mouth-coating sweetness, and a smooth aftertaste, but nothing particularly interesting in terms of higher notes. I can’t say I’m an authority on black tea, but while an enjoyable tea, it’s definitely not one I’m too keen on focusing on and I’ll be enjoying it as an aide to my studying.
First up today is Dayuling high mountain spring oolong by Taiwan tea craft. I started by preparing my Yixing by washing it with near boiling water and then putting the rolled leaves in there for a moment to get the aroma. A nice floral, vegetal and fruity aroma came from the pot. Then giving it a wash I got an incredibly clear light liquor, and giving it just a little taste. I got fruity notes and just a hint of apple I think.
The first infusion opened up the leaves very quickly and still gave a very light clear liquor, the aroma was fairly light once out of the pot and so was the flavor, but it was quite nice and refreshing though not quite as intense as the first aroma. Fruity, vegetal, floral and apple, I got the same flavor profile as the aroma’s from the wash. I was a little surprised how much more intense the aroma was in that initial burst of hitting the hot water.
The second infusion got a little stronger, this isnt too unusual with oolong tea, and the liquor got a little darker as well. The aroma got a bit more intense as well as the leaves fully opened up at this point. Looking at the leaves in the pot, they are large and broad and very lovely looking. This is a high quality tea.
The third infusion was very similiar to the second, and I didnt pick up any different notes, but I suspect I will get at least 6 or 7 steepings from this tea.
I recommend this tea as its slightly pricey, but extremely, light floral and fruity, a great summer tea.
Flavors: Apple, Floral, Fruity, Vegetal
Whether they actually have the effect they were developed to have or not, I have really enjoyed the GABA oolongs that I have had thus far. This is the second I tried from TTC—the first being the (not deep) baked GABA. I have been appreciating baked and roasty oolongs more and more lately, so I was excited to try this one last Friday.
These rolled leaves had a sweet, baked smell that intensified upon being doused with boiling water. The liquor came out a deep brown and smooth, with a roasted, sweet, nutty flavor. The roasty notes intensified in the following steep, without drowning out the sweetness. Overall, this was a simple, enjoyable experience, and I’ll look forward to having more of this soon.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Nutty, Roasted, Sweet
Why do I keep doing this to myself? I have not updated my notes in a week, meaning I am now over 100g in tea and tisanes behind in logging here, and I didn’t even take notes on all those things as I was drinking. Meh.
Fortunately, I did take some notes for this one, though they’re not very detailed. I drank this last Thursday. 8 grams in the gaiwan, the usual, though I may have remembered this day that I need to keep the water a bit cooler when doing these greener oolongs. I think water being too hot may have funked up some of my other recent sessions.
Anyhow. Nice, rolled green leaves that produced a pale yellow liquor. Coconut milk flavor up front, which I found quite interesting and appreciable! I’m a huge fan of just about anything coconut—coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut shavings, coconut water, coconut slices…you get the idea. This was very different from what I am used to getting out of the jin xuan cultivar, as it has always been more of a dairy-milk-esque experience for me in the past. Coconut milk led to a fruity body flavor, which complemented it well. I don’t think I got much flavor evolution out of this one beyond that, as my next tasting notes for it are from revisiting the same leaves on Friday.
Reusing the same leaves produced a more pronounced milky flavor the next day and a very distinct up front sweetness. This was nice overall, but I’ll need to spend some more time with it to get a better feel for it.
Flavors: Coconut, Creamy, Fruity, Sweet
Second sample of our TTC order that we got around to trying. Steeped this one up at work last week as well. The first thing I noticed—and something I noticed throughout the entire session—was that it smelled kind of like kids’ bubblegum. A tropical fruit, sweet kind smell. This came through in the flavor as well, for me, as well.
The liquor steeped out nice and gold in this one, becoming more amber a few steeps in, and the texture was nice and smooth. This seems like it would taste really good cold.
I continued with leaves these into the following day, and they produced a second day steep that was sweet and cooling in the mouth, warming in the body and a very nice flavor to start the morning with.
Flavors: Fruity, Smooth, Sweet, Tropical
Made a very specific selection of teas to try to TTC recently and this is one of them. Steeped 8 grams of this at work last week with just a quick rinse to help wake up the leaves. The liquor came out an extremely light yellow and produced an immediate camphor flavor and sensation. Very smooth with a sweet, nutty baked goods flavor.
I drank some the next day as well, and got a more golden liquor that was thick and viscous. The flavor was crisp and nicely vegetal, and some of the cooling sensation still remained. I look forward to playing around with the rest of this sample.
Flavors: Camphor, Mint, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet, Thick
So, I had intended to buy one sample of this tea…accidentally bought two and due to some miscommunication, wasn’t able to amend that.
I am not quite sure how to feel about this one yet. Session started out normal enough. The leaves were green and very nicely twisted, so I only got about 5g into the gaiwan. Nice, sweet vegetal aroma and a very light yellow liquor.
The flavor started out more or less as I would expect of a greener oolong. A sweet, beany vegetal flavor without too much in the way of floral notes in this case. I enjoyed it will enough for the first few steeps and rhinkle was undecided until she hit one steep that she said tasted like foot odor. I brushed her comment off since she’s got a cold and kept drinking once our break was over.
And then…I got the same thing. Not in the body, but in the aftertaste of a single steep, the odor of sweaty feet filled my nostrils. It was very strange, as after that, the taste evolved into something pineappley, with a tropical fruit blend aftertaste, something I’ve tasted in another sample I tried recently.
Over continued steeps, a mouth coating viscosity developed, and I enjoyed that for a few steeps before the flavor overall started to die off. Going to have to play around with this one more soon to get the best out of it!
Flavors: Beany, Pineapple, Sweet, Tropical
This is a bug bitten oolong that shows a lot of different faces as its steeped. Lower temperatures, around 185-190, give a honey-like sweetness, notes of orchid, and a rich syrupy body. At higher temperatures, the tea has more fermentation flavor and the taste and aroma of spiced roasted nuts. As the tea progresses, the toasted nut flavor amplifies and it develops some cinnamon and woodsy notes.
Being a bug bitten tea, there are similarities between it and Oriental Beauty. But the floral honey and fruitiness of Gui Fei give it a greater depth of flavor. I would describe the flavor profile as a bug-bitten Dan Cong. Really enjoyed this lovely, soothing tea.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Fruity, Roasted nuts, Spices
So this is from the GCTTB, but the fifth round. So, I’ve had it for a while now and it’s a little old. There are so many times I’ve gone to drink it but then been enticed by newer things or fancier things, or just stuff that’s a little more convenient. I figured enough was enough, it was time to drink it.
I made this one as an iced tea today, nothing added. It was my first tea of the day, and I really thoroughly enjoyed it. I scribbled notes on my cup in sharpie as I drank it, because I got a lot of nuanced and layered flavour from this one and I knew I’d want to be able to note that properly. So my cup scribbles:
- Light roast, some peanut like notes in there along with that
- Honey top notes and finish but not body
- Body is more fresh cut grass
- Fruity undertones; nectarine, quince, fresh apple
Admittedly, I wish I’d gong fu brewed this BUT it was still really enjoyable for how I did end up steeping it!
This is my third Shan Lin Xi from TTC. Their other two varietals, Shibi and Long Feng Xia, were outstanding and Shibi has become a perennial favorite of mine. This was good, but the least impressive of the bunch. Lighter in flavor and hits less of the high notes.
Dry leaf: dark, dull green. faint hint of citrus in the aroma
1st steep: tangy and crisp with floral overtones
2nd steep: thin body, a bit weak. might not have steeped this long enough.
3rd steep: fruity with some citrusy notes. soft mouthfeel. good flavor, but more subtle than other SLXs
4th steep: a little vegetal with an ever so slight hint of bitterness punctuated by undertones of daffodils and cream
5th steep: creamy and light vegetal flavor. hint of vanilla detected.
Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Vegetal
This is smooth, buttery tea with a nice balance of vegetation and flowers and a rock sugar finish. All good stuff, but nothing that really sets it apart from other Taiwanese oolongs. It has more or less a standard gao shan taste and aroma. The first couple of steeps are light, and then the tea develops more viscosity and body. However it doesn’t hold up to multiple infusions as there is a noticeable drop in flavor after the 3rd steep. This particular harvest seemed a bit weaker in aromatics and flavor than past Ali Shans.
While I enjoyed it, I consider this squarely a middle of the pack green oolong. It had its moments but didn’t blow me away.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Sugar, Vegetal
I bought this tea instead of the winter competition bao zhong which unfortunately wasn’t available this year. TTC assured me that it was on par with the higher grade teas. After tasting it, I have to say they were mostly right.
This tea starts out with a medley of different floral aromas: orchid and lilacs, honeysuckle, and osmanthus. The first steep is gentle, and very sweet. The sweetness grows stronger int he second steep, into a sugarcane like flavor. Around the 3rd steep, the tea shifts to a pleasant green tea-like flavor that I would describe as sweet morning dew.
Though I enjoyed the tea’s progression through steeps, my favorite method of brewing bao zhong is grandpa style and sadly, it left a lot to be desired. The tea’s flavors become muddled and its nuances are lost.
Flavors: Flowers, Vegetal
I didn’t even realize I had this one! It was a 10g sample pack, graciously added in with one of my orders. Can’t complain!
I’ve downed most of this while not really realizing just how quick it was disappearing. That’s always a sign of a tasty tea. Or a busy mind. Let’s go with tasty tea.
This one has a smooth flavour with the most subtle hint of astringency. Usually I’m not huge on astringency, but here it works great. There is a definite stonefruit flavour and something else familiar I can’t quite put my finger on. Overall quite the tasty tea. I’m happy I had this sample.
I brewed this at 97C with 5gr, first in a 150 ml porcelain gaiwan with steeps starting at 45 seconds and then in a 75 ml yixing pot with steeps starting at 20 seconds. I think it responded slightly better to the latter, bringing out the spice notes, but both very pleasant. Full of sweet spices, baked peaches, lychee and citrus peel with a very long and lingering aftertaste that is distinctly a bug-bitten note.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Hazelnut, Lychee, Peach
An interesting tea and enjoyable, even if it runs a bit medicinal for my tastes. The combination of a pronounced wintergreen freshness coupled with sweet potato & tobacco, followed by maple syrup that lingers on the palate long after the cup is finished, it offers a spectrum of almost contradictory notes.
Flavors: Hazelnut, Maple Syrup, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Wood
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Enjoying this with my girl, in our beautiful teapot.
1st steep of 1 minute: almost smelling cinnamon from cup. Very light, sweet flavour. Very subtle flavour with short steep time.
2nd steep of 1 minute 45 seconds: roasty oolong scent, delicious. Slightly deeper flavour, not quite as light, but still light for drinking.
3rd steep of 3 minutes: roastier still and even more delicious. This may be my favourite steep.
Taiwan Tea Crafts is just amazing. I have so many black and oolong teas from them that I haven’t even opened yet, but already I want to place another order. I can’t say enough good about them!