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Recent Tasting Notes
Fall 2017 Harvest
I seem to be on a roll with eating a food and tasting the food in the tea. Pear meet pear note in tea!
My first steep was probably too short (1min30s) so I’m attributing the initially light flavour to that. A lot of typical red oolong flavours are coming through though: baked bread, stewed fruits, the aforementioned pear, blueberries (also pretty distinct), vanilla, brown sugar, nuts, and a hint of sweet spice… Despite thinking this a weak and watery cup to start, the typical mi xiang sweetness really smacks me one near the end. Sugar crush!
The second steep (3min30s) cooled down quite a bit before I payed attention to it. It tastes strongly of cherries, and is complimented by vanilla, brown sugar, and bread notes. There’s a bit of tree resin too. I initially thought it was citrus-like, but it’s woodier (pine, cedar, or even eucalyptus). The sweet, cherry-like aftertaste is strong.
Third steep (over 4min) is a smoother version of the second steep. It tastes of cherries, resin, vanilla, and sugar, verging on floral honey. It’s still extremely sweet, with a hint of cinnamon to finish. Maybe even a slight return of the blueberry and pear.
Steep Count: 4, Western Style. This tea also deserves a gongfu session at a later time.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Honeysuckle, Nutmeg, Nuts, Pear, Pine, Plums, Resin, Stewed Fruits, Stonefruits, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Wood
Spring 2020 Harvest supposedly.
For breakfast I had a slice of toast, with butter and pineapple coconut jam. Now, I only bring this up because if I didn’t know better I would think that some of that butter and jam slipped into my cup while I wasn’t looking!
This oolong is relatively buttery, floral, extremely tropical (tangy pineapple, coconut), with a pleasant jam-like sweetness. Like my pineapple coconut jam, which contains a hint of rum, this also has a faint, subtle “bitter-sugar,” flowery undercurrent that adds depth to this first steep. It reminds me of sarsaparilla (vanilla, licorice, green note, etc.) or just straight up bitter vanilla. This vanilla quality softens to a silky fineness in my third steep; the tropical, butter, and floral notes are well balanced here. It’s my favourite cup so far.
This oolong is almost perfect for me, although I do prefer more butter, and less tangy flowers. Still, it tastes like Hawaii in a cup – or maybe it’s fairer to say it’s Taiwan in a cup (there’s a lot of subtropical and tropical goodness in Taiwan too)!
Steep Count: 5 @1 minute each, western style.
Next time I will try it gongfu or grandpa style. My gaiwan hasn’t seen use in years but this tea makes me think it’s time!
Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Floral, Jam, Melon, Pineapple, Sarsaparilla, Tropical, Vanilla
This is one of the teas from the great Steepster freeze of 2020 that I’m getting around to logging now. My memory is a little hazy because I only had a couple of sessions with it, but I remember it being a solid SLX with the usual alpine florals and tropical notes. A little lighter and lacking the full mouthfeel of previous harvests. Good for 6-7 steeps.
Flavors: Coconut, Flowers, Tropical, Vanilla
We had to unexpectedly fly home last Thursday and are here for three weeks (quarantine for two). I only managed to pack this tea, Dandy Blend, Relax & Renew, and some coffee for our time here. We’re juggling work, my new term of classes starts today, and family stuff, so yay for tea!
This one is tasty as always and I’m so glad I had the forethought to grab it in our rush to pack last minute.
Rough start to the workday that started with an email late last night. Sigh. A real lesson in removing my email from my phone.
However, all that calls for only the best tea! So this one I didn’t get to until it was lukewarm, but still so tasty nonetheless. I love how the sweetness comes out as it cools.
Today we decluttered the house and listed some things for sale on Kijiji. I steeped one cup of each lot (641 & 864) and then received a message that someone could pop by tonight for a sale (covid-safely, of course!). Naturally! So, by the time I got to these teas, they were lukewarm, however, my notes are below and I’ll try for a more detailed/at least a hotter cuppa later in the week!
Lot 864: Maltiness and oat-y with a hint of a savoury note mixed in at first sip, a hint of sweetness and no astringency. As it cools (even more), notes of floral come through, though very subtle.
Lot 641: Maltiness and oat-y with a hint of sweetness in the background mid-sip, absolutely no astringency at first sip. I would say this one has the barest hint of floral as it cools (a little sooner noticeable) and some fruits in the background, though I can’t say which fruits.
Overall, very similar in taste with only the barest hint of difference, at least at this temperature. I have only a limited amount of 641 remaining, so I’ll have to postpone any and all things when I steep these two the next time around!
Mediocre Ali Shan. This one is big on aroma but flavor just isn’t there. Intensely fragrant with notes of honey, orange blossom, and vanilla cream in the wet leaf. However none of it comes through in the steeped tea which is fairly bland and has a sort of mild/generic floral flavor. Once again, cold brewing came to the rescue and helped salvage an otherwise boring tea.
I’ve tried a number of TTC Ali Shans now and they all seem lacking. I’ll continue to buy my other high mountain oolongs from there but skip this one next time.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Orange Blossom, Vanilla
The Taiwan Tea Crafts have arrived! Four days early, and no custom fees (Sil)! :)
This one is super tasty! I was interrupted and managed to get half of it in while hot and the other half while ice cold haha — but it was tasty both ways! Such a great ‘mix’ of black and oolong flavours. I saved the leaves for a second steep, so hopefully I can provide a more detailed review soon!
I’m finally polishing off my 250g package of this after hoarding the remaining bits of it during COVID. I bit the bullet and ordered another 250g earlier this week and now I can comfortably finish this off knowing more is en route (unless something happens with the post…).
This is one of my all-time favourite teas and I usually order the 250g package once per year to enjoy throughout the year. I would describe this as waffle-y and delicious. I can’t wait to see what the new lot (864) brings!
Not usually a big fan of bug bitten teas but this one is really nice. I’m struck by how much it resembles Darjeeling. Notes of rose, wood, and muscatel. Light malt and a hint of Dian Hong sweet potato in he finish.
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Rose, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
First oolong of the spring 2020 harvest. Grandpa steeped just over a gram in my knock off the wall style mug from AliExpress. I love me some AliExpress for cheap teaware. Shipping takes forever sometimes but I don’t mind waiting given the deals that can be found.
This one has more aroma than flavor. The scent of the dry leaves is a perfumy bouquet of honeyed flowers. Notes of gardenia, lilac, and violets. Brewed tea is rich and buttery with a vegetal sweet pea flavor. Lilac dances across the tongue in the after taste. Towards the end of the session, it turns somewhat flat.
Good baozhong though nothing earth shattering. Going to brew with lower temperature next time to see if I can extract more subtleties from it.
Flavors: Flowers, Garden Peas, Green Apple, Honey
I bought a 10 g sample of this tea back in February, when Taiwan was still shipping to Canada. (What a long time ago that seems!) I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 190F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of malt, sassafras, raisins, and flowers. The first steep has notes of sassafras, cream, malt, cinnamon, raisins, jasmine, soy sauce, and menthol. The second steep is heavier on the raisins and malt and has a metallic undertone. The raisins become more like grapes in subsequent steeps, and the sassafras, malt, and cinnamon notes persist. The end of the session has malt, tannin, wood, and mineral notes.
I found this to be a fairly average Taiwanese Sun Moon Lake black tea, although the heavy cinnamon and menthol were pleasant. I’m glad I steeped it at 190F, as I imagine the astringency would be greater at higher temperatures. I’m sure I’ll be able to better pick apart the flavour notes in these types of teas when I’ve tried more of them.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Floral, Grapes, Jasmine, Licorice, Malt, Menthol, Metallic, Mineral, Raisins, Soy sauce, Tannin, Wood
Shibi is my favorite high mountain cultivar and a regular TTC purchase. But this particular harvest was a real dud. It had the familiar aromas of wildflowers, custard, and vanilla. The actual flavor however was weak and pretty bland. Don’t know if my sample was old or what but it didn’t even taste like the same Shibi oolong that I’ve come to know and love. Ended up cold brewing the rest of my stash.
I almost never buy rose scented tea. Not because I dislike the flavor but rather I can usually achieve the same thing by blending in a dried rosebud to any tea. This tea basically confirmed it.
The smell out of the bag is very faint with the barest whiff of rose, cherry, and almond. The brewed tea has a soft rose flavor that’s nice but also very similar to my Teavivre dried rosebuds. Can’t taste much of the underlying oolong. Where this tea really shines is cold brew. Here the greenness of the base oolong comes through complemented with a gentle touch of rose.
This could be a good tea for those who are into rose or floral scented teas that aren’t overpowering. I personally would just add a rosebud to regular oolong tea to obtain the same result but this is a nice option too if you want a pre-blended rose tea.
Flavors: Almond, Cherry, Floral, Rose
Dry leaf: sweet, floral and vegetal aromatics — sweet pea, dark chocolate, caramel, roast, cream, fruity peach tone
Warm leaf: roast, burnt sugar, floral, vegetal sweet pea
Rinsed leaf: dominant florals — orchid and sweet pea, some roast
Gongfu 5g to 100mL, 195F: alkaline-marine-vegetal (hint of seaweed), straw, floral. Medium body, peach apricot aftertaste quick to arrive and depart. Sandpaper tongue. Not much longevity and the taste wasn’t up my alley so the leaves got overnight cold brew treatment which turned out floral and pleasant.
Western 2.5g to 10oz, 195F: aroma was very roasty-milky-floral. Taste was dominantly milky-creamy-floral-straw. Combined with the alakaline-marine vibe, it was kind of weird. Decent fruity peach midtone. Somewhat drying.
Pretty basic and enjoyable enough. I liked western prep more even if I found the flavor combo strange.
Flavors: Apricot, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Creamy, Dark Chocolate, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Garden Peas, Marine, Milk, Orchid, Peach, Roasted, Seaweed, Straw, Vegetal
Just finished off my sample packet of this, and really enjoyed it. I’ve actually enjoyed pretty much everything I’ve purchased from Taiwan Tea Crafts, and I desperately want to make another purchase. I’m restraining myself. Onto the tea- very easy to drink. Smooth with notes of sweet potato, caramelized sugar, and chestnuts.
Flavors: Caramel, Chestnut, Honey, Sweet Potatoes
This is an exquisite high mountain tea. Exotic tropical fruit flavors that evolve into elegant florals and sweet pastry through steepings.
Dry leaf has a light floral and green apple fragrance. Following a rinse, intense aromas of mango and pineapple emerge.
The first steep tastes like biting into a juicy, fresh nectarine. Super thick and sweet with a luscious mouthfeel. The second steep brings out a burst of flowery goodness – notes of lily of the valley and jasmine – and a very satisfying silky texture with a distinctive aftertaste. Some light vanilla notes, creme brûlée, and orange blossom encountered as the tea progresses. The flavor begins dropping around the 5th or 6th steep but remains enjoyable.
I sampled pretty much every single high mountain oolong from Taiwan Tea Crafts and this was hands down my favorite from this winter’s harvest. Note that while Long Feng Xia is an amazing tea, it’s sensitive to water temperature. You need to use slightly cooler temperature than what normal gaoshan calls for. It used to give me fits because I would end up scalding it by brewing it my usual way. This time I kept temperature around 185 F, never letting it go above 195 F and it was perfect.
Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Jasmine, Mango, Orange Blossom, Pastries, Pineapple, Stonefruits, Tropical, Vanilla
I haven’t been drinking any flavored teas lately. I just haven’t been in the mood. Because of that, I’ve been going through a lot of my single origin tea sample fairly quickly, which I consider a good thing! I have a few orders that I’m waiting on, but aside from those, I’m waiting until my cupboard falls below 250 to purchase any new teas. Hopefully I can keep to my self-imposed tea band this time.
As for this tea, it’s interesting. Brewing at 200degrees creates an incredible jasmine aroma, a floral flavor, and slight acidity. Lower temperatures yield quite a strong sweet potato flavor, but still with that acidity. Because of the slight sourness, this just isn’t my favorite.
I’m finding that if I’m going to drink a roasted oolong, I want it more heavily oxidized. While this is more pleasant than the deep roast Bao Zhong, it still covers up all of the subtlety and nuance of the unroasted Bao Zhong. I’m finding this to be a nondescript- some artichoke and roasted vegetables, with a bit of nuttiness. But, I’d much prefer the Bar Zhong in an unfrosted format.