Taiwan Tea Crafts

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Recent Tasting Notes

81

An interesting experimental batch from TTC. This is a scented tea made using local Taiwanese Bergamot instead of the familiar Italian variety found in Earl Grey tea. Tasting it, however, I can say there’s a world of difference between the two. Real bergamot has a distinct perfumey flavor. Even though it’s a citrus fruit, bergamot flavored tea isn’t very citrusy. This on the other hand is more citrus forward and would not be mistaken for bergamot. Smells and tastes like juicy tangerine and citrus rind. Occasionally, it gives impressions of lemon scented kitchen cleaner and Hi-C. When ambient brewed, the bergamot mingles with the underlying Jin Xuan to produce delicious rose and gardenia florals.

I think this would appeal to people seeking a citrusy or orange scented tea but doubt it will win over too many Earl Grey afficionados.

Flavors: Citrus, Lemon Zest, Orange, Tangerine

Preparation
Iced 5 g 20 OZ / 600 ML
Evol Ving Ness

What does ambient brewed mean?

LuckyMe

@Evol Ving Ness it means steeping at room temperature for a few hours then adding ice. It’s my short cut method for cold brewing.

Evol Ving Ness

Ah, ok. Thank you for explaining. I do that overnight and no ice.

LuckyMe

Cool. I ambient Brew for only a few hours though. Any bitterness from steeping that long?

Evol Ving Ness

No, but I am cautious about the teas I steep this way. I go light on leaf with those that are prone to bitterness.

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81

Y is for… Yuchi Wild Mountain Black, Lot 864

Thank you Sil for sharing!

This one is good. At first I was like this is super jammy and sweet. But then as I kept drinking I was getting more fresh baked bread. Maybe sweet potato that’s slightly caramelized. Whatever it was, it was delicious! Yum!

Courtney

Looove this one, so glad you got to enjoy it as well! :)

Sil

it’s consistently delicious. I’ll let you know when/if i order more…likely be a large bulk order

Leafhopper

I’ve ordered this tea, but haven’t tried it yet. Sounds great!

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81

Didn’t enjoy this one as much as the regular Wenshan Baozhong from the same harvest. This is a rather basic, one dimensional baozhong. Floral/lilac overtones, medium body, and a vegetative brothy flavor. No real depth to it though and taste doesn’t evolve much either.

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Lilac, Perfume, Strawberry, Vegetable Broth

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97

There’s a reason why this is my favorite high mountain oolong. It’s a sublime and refined tea that’s been consistently good year after year. This latest crop was no exception. It has those lush florals I love. Big hits of magnolia, orchid, and lily of the valley. This is balanced with tropical fruit, vanilla, and pastry cream. Full bodied with a silky texture and lingering floral finish. It also has good staying power. I got 7 quality steeps from it.

About a month after opening the pouch, I noticed there was a noticeable degradation in flavor. Not in a bad way but the tea had lost some of its nuance and tasted more vegetal and savory. Switching from gongfu to grandpa style helped rescue the tea. This brought out a whole new character and tropical flavor that I hadn’t experienced with gongfu.

Instagram photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CSASh1PLmzP/

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Nectar, Orchid, Pastries, Pineapple, Tropical, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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Sipdown 145-2021
I’m actually drinking lot 892….but close enough. It’s a nice unfrosted oolong. A bit of a floral/lilac flavor. A bit of a buttery vegetable thing going on as well. Fine, but not particularly memorable.

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98

After a string of subpar Baozhongs recently, this spring’s harvest has once again restored my faith in this tea. It’s deliciously fresh and teeming with complex florals.

As I always do with baozhongs, I brewed this one grandpa style. The leaves emit a very fragrant aroma of hyacinth, lilac, and violet. The tea has an exquisite floral flavor. At first sip, I’m greeted by sweet lilacs followed by granny smith apple and lingering flower nectar. Fresh. Mouth coating. Really smooth and luscious.

When my cup got down to 1/3, I topped it off with boiling water. This dropped all of the leaves and produced a brighter green color. New floral notes of orchid appeared in my cup along with melon and sweet pea making the tea more luscious and perfumey.

Enjoyed this one immensely!

Flavors: Flowers, Green Apple, Lilac, Melon, Orchid, Peas

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 g 6 OZ / 179 ML
tea-sipper

Great to hear the new harvest of Wenshan is so good!

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70

I ordered this tea not realizing that it’s a Baguashan grown tea. This region in Taiwan is known for producing budget oolong and the quality is usually reflected in the price.

It suffered from similar problems as the Ali Shan oolong I had prior to it. Namely, it was an unremarkable tea with a very weak/watery taste. It offered some tantilizing aromas of tropical fruit and flowers, but none of it came through in the tea. I did have better results cold brewing it but otherwise this was another dud.

0 for 2 so far with 2021 high mountain oolongs. I have bunch more TTC teas to go through so wish me luck!

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70

I ordered this tea not realizing that it’s a Baguashan grown tea. This region in Taiwan is known for producing budget oolong and the quality is usually reflected in the price.

It suffered from similar problems as the Ali Shan oolong I had prior to it. Namely, it was an unremarkable tea with a very weak/watery taste. It offered some tantilizing aromas of tropical fruit and flowers, but none of it came through in the tea. I did have better results cold brewing it but otherwise this was another dud.

0 for 2 so far with 2021 high mountain oolongs. I have bunch more TTC teas to go through so wish me luck!

Flavors: Tropical, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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62

First spring 2021 oolong and a rather disappointing one at that. This one is practically flavorless with zero body or depth to speak of. Vaguely floral with a little citrus and honey notes here and there but that’s it. Tried it gongfu, cold brew, and grandpa style and no matter what it’s just flat and insipid. Luckily, this was only a sampler so no big loss.

Flavors: Honey, Lemon Zest, Vegetal

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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Sipdown (201)

Thank you for the share, Sil!

This one was nice and to me tasted like raisins and honey. The honey I’m supposed to get but I don’t see raisin or muscatel or anything of that nature in the description. So perhaps that’s just me. I enjoyed it though.

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Lot 802 (Spring 2019) blew me away. This one seems to lack the deep intensity of Lot 802 and is more temperamental, though the Red Jade white tea trademark still presents fully. Western style brewing was ok, a little too drying for my likes.

With longer steeps in a small teapot, the flavors became more complex in an already complex style of tea. The more aromatic components of the tea arrive on the sip and include flowers along with pungent herbs like bay leaf, wintergreen, fenugreek and anise. The body has some moderate, gripping woody tannins. The main taste is of straw and strong minerals, supplemented by a fruity and malty guava-berry-orange-cinnamon tone. I notice the cinnamon more in the bottom of the cup smell. Later steeps smooth out the drying quality, tannins and minerality. It does take long steeps well but if overbrewed, a medicinal, fresh plant resin bitterness is noticed before anything else. Because of this bitterness and the drying quality, I do not think this is suitable as a grandpa style brew.

I opted for only a 10g sample of this since I also bought a 25g bag of last year’s harvest (Lot 901, Spring 2020) for a sweet deal. Like the Sanxia white tea I logged the other day, I wish I had gone for a larger package. This is a good tea to play around with to learn how different temperatures and steep times can alter a tea’s structural profile. I do wonder how more resting will affect this tea.

Flavors: Anise, Berry, Biting, Bitter, Cinnamon, Drying, Flowers, Guava, Herbs, Malt, Medicinal, Menthol, Mineral, Orange, Resin, Straw, Tannin, Wood

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88

Sipdown! (13 | 217)

My last TTC black tea sample!

This is a lovely tea, with loads and loads of rich brown sugar flavor. There’s also light, fluffy bread and slightly tart yet syrupy dried fruit, perhaps cherries and prunes. Some light woodiness, and a whisper of floral at the end of the sip. But that caramelized brown sugar is definitely the star of the show, with a touch of honey on the side, playing a supporting role.

Nommy nommy brown sugary goodness. This was an experimental tea when I got it a few years back, I think their Organic Heritage Wuyi Strand black tea might be the equivalent now? Maybe I’ll find out one day, when I’m allowed to order some straight black teas again…

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Dried Fruit, Floral, Hay, Honey, Prune, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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75

Sipdown! (7 | 211)

Out of Chinese black tea samples and into Taiwanese now!

I’m not sure how I feel about this one. It’s not what I typically think of for a Taiwanese black tea, which usually brings to mind honey, cinnamon, fruity, malty sort of notes.

This does have some of that, but for me it leads with a strong overcooked green bean flavor and notes of olives?! Very savory at the beginning of the sip, which I was not expecting at all. I do get some of those dark, sweet muscovado sugar and molasses notes starting mid-sip, and a bit of the expected fruitiness. Definitely very dark and syrupy dried fruit, like prunes with a touch of fig. Malty, yes, that’s there as well, and some bready chewiness. A hint of menthol in the aftertaste…?

So I suppose the second half of the sip is more what I would expect, ha ha! But the beginning just completely throws me off with its strong savory, almost briny vegetal notes. Not one that I would reorder, but still very fun to try!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Dried Fruit, Fig, Green Beans, Malt, Menthol, Molasses, Olives, Prune, Savory, Smooth, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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80

Sipdown! (37 | 110)

I haven’t been drinking many straight teas lately for some reason… I should really rectify that, as a yummy plain black tea is one of my favorite ways to start the day.

This one is very light but tasty. It’s sweet, bready, malty but also has an interesting cooked green bean note that I didn’t expect from a Taiwanese black tea. There are little hints of the usual honey and cinnamon, and a touch of dried apricot. A very light floral note pokes its little head out near the end of the sip.

The body is extremely light though, which honestly isn’t my favorite for this type of tea. I find with a smoother black tea like this, I always want a thicker, richer body to go along with it. Whereas with teas that are a bit more assertive or brisk, I prefer a lighter body.

Anyway, it’s yummy! Just a bit too light for me. I definitely prefer their Yuchi Wild Mountain black tea.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Floral, Green Beans, Honey, Malt, Molasses, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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83

This is my first time trying pressed tea! Thanks, Derk, for sending me something I had previously considered buying from the TTC website. If there’s a trick for breaking these things without making a mess, I don’t know what it is, but I eventually took about a gram off my big piece of this cake so it was around 6 g. After a rinse, I steeped it in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, and 60 seconds, then 1:15, 1:30, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 10 minutes.

The dry aroma is of faint berries, honey, and malt. The giant piece of cake stuck out of my teapot, so I did a 15-second rinse to try and soften it up enough to make it fit. It had faint notes of tart gooseberry, honey, and dried fruit. I could smell menthol in the teapot but couldn’t taste it. The first real steep has notes of menthol, autumn leaf pile, dried fruit, honey, and minerals, plus a long wintergreen aftertaste. This is absolutely a Red Jade tea! I get more of the tart cranberries and gooseberries in the next three steeps, along with menthol, tannins, lemon, vague florals, and increasing bitterness.

By steep five, this tea is asserting its black tea character, with the menthol predominating and malt, autumn leaf pile, cream, and hints of fruit in the background. By steep seven, I get woody and incense notes, plus sassafras, raisins, berries, and dried fruit. Near the end of the session, the menthol notes disappear, leaving malt, dried fruit, wood, minerals, autumn leaves, and lots of tannins.

I found this tea to be a fascinating expression of the Red Jade cultivar, with the typical menthol and sassafras notes but a lot more fruit than the standard black tea. Although it did get bitter at times, I think the short steeps helped tame it somewhat. (However, like my last white tea, all those short steeps made for a longer-than-usual session.) Although I’m not sure I need an entire cake, I might keep my remaining sample to see if it changes with age.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berries, Bitter, Cranberry, Cream, Dried Fruit, Floral, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Raisins, Sarsaparilla, Tannin, Tart, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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79

I added this tea to my massive TTC order because I was intrigued by the stonefruit and citrus notes they described. They also mentioned that they made Bai Hao, one of my favourite teas, from this cultivar. The first time I made this tea, I accidentally steeped it like an oolong (25/20/25/30, etc.) because it was early in the morning and my brain wasn’t fully online. This time, I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

Dry, these long, dark leaves smell like honey, raisins, apples, and peaches. The first steep reveals the typical notes of cinnamon and sassafras found in Taiwan black tea, along with raisins, honey, malt, apple, tannin, and a hint of peach. There’s a good balance of tangy peach/apricot/raisin and honey in steep two, plus that sassafras note. The third steep leans more heavily toward apricots and peaches, and the citrus makes a welcome appearance. Cream, wood, and malt become more noticeable in the next couple steeps, though the other flavours are still strong. By steep seven, the citrus and stonefruit are almost gone, leaving raisins, malt, sassafras, wood, earth, and tannins.

While it is not mind-blowing, this is a very drinkable black tea that has many of the flavours I enjoy. I’m getting a bit tired of its amorphous raisin/stonefruit/tangy profile since I’ve had a lot of teas featuring it recently, but that’s more my fault than the tea’s. I’ll have no issue finishing my remaining 15 g and recommend it for those looking for an easy-drinking experience.

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Earth, Honey, Malt, Peach, Raisins, Sarsaparilla, Tangy, Tannin, Wood

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

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71

Not usually a fan of heavily roasted teas, but they’ve occasionally surprised me and in the interest of expanding my tea horizons, I decided to pick up a sample of this tea.

It does indeed have a deep roasted flavor and aroma. You can taste the roast but it’s not smokey by any means. I get notes of firewood, pumpernickel bread, and toasted nuts. These are ancillary though and the tea is predominantly dark and toasty

This may appeal to those who like dark tea but I prefer the subtle caramel taste of lightly roasted oolongs.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Fireplace, Nuts, Roasted

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2021 sipdown no. 80

I really focused on sipping this one down this week. We’ve had some major upheaval the last couple weeks and I’ve been gravitating only towards EGC and non-black teas? It’s weird, but I’m just trying to go with it.

I was hopeful for this one, but it was always just slightly too floral for me. I’m grateful that I quite enjoy the Gui Fei from CS and enjoy other teas from TTC!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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2021 sipdown no. 69

This is a wee sipdown of a 25g package of this one. I have another unopened 25g package, but I’m still counting at least this package as a sipdown.

Today this has less floral overall, but a slight edge of bitterness mixed with the mineral. I’m not getting any honey today at all, sadly. Perhaps a shorter steep time or lower temperature would be beneficial here.

1st steep 4 minutes
2nd steep 5.5 minutes

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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Hmm, the floral here is just too much for me. It’s more in the scent than the actual flavour, and I’m sure someone else might really enjoy this. I want so much to enjoy this tea, but sadly, I really don’t. The Gui Fei from Butiki I recall enjoying. I was hoping for more honey here, but alas, I can’t seem to find it. There is the oolong mineral-ness, but it’s very faint and seems to add nicely to the tea.

I steeped this with 3g of tea for 2 minutes. I’ll resteep a couple times to see if I can find some different flavours.

On the upside, we just took vegan and gluten free mint things out of the oven to cook, and we’re watching Star Wars!

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Sipping away on this one now and getting a mix of floral (somewhat reminiscent of jasmine but it’s not jasmine) and (maybe?) honey.

I seem to prefer the second steep of this one, but I’ll have to experiment with different steeping parameters.

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I had this one over the weekend and saved the leaves for a second steep, which was my first cup of tea this morning. Work is off to a rough start this morning, but here’s to tea making it better!

I actually preferred the second steep to the first, though the first flew by without much memory. This morning this had a very faint cardboard quality that I often get in oolongs, but not in a negative way. This was paired with a hint of sweetness, especially as it cooled.

First steep 3 minutes
Second steep 4 minutes

I also may have edited my Bird & Blend order to add more teas before it ships…:P

Cameron B.

MOAR TEA!

Courtney

Hahah right? Oh my goshhhh. I already have no space and I just tidied the tea cupboards over the weekend!

Cameron B.

Tidied… meaning you made room for more tea! ;)

Leafhopper

I’ve never Western steeped a Gui Fei, though if it’s the same one Derk and I reviewed, it’s not much of a loss. Glad you enjoyed it!

Courtney

Thanks! How do you steep them normally? I only do Western steeping, but perhaps one day I’ll branch out. :)

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88

Sample sipdown!

Used the remainder of my sample to steep up a big ol’ mug of this to sip on during an all-day virtual workshop (ughhhhh). At least the election is looking better (in my opinion), yaaaay!

What a lovely cinnamon-butter-toast tea this is. And I really like the balance in body as well, it’s heavy enough to give a nice chewiness and sense of satisfaction, but still very easy drinking with zero bitterness or astringency.

Nommy nommy toasty tea. I’m sure I won’t order from TTC again for quite a while given my current cupboard situation, but this will definitely be on the list when I do.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Honey, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Toast

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML
jessiwrites

Dang, this sounds fantastic!

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88

Cracking open my sample of this after seeing a recommendation from Courtney. I made an order of sample sizes from TTC a while back, luckily they’re all sealed or vacuum sealed, so I’m sure they’ve held up marvelously.

Dry scent was a dried fruit explosion, some sweet and sticky but also with pops of tartness.

The steeped aroma is quite different, all cinnamon and creamed honey. Yummy. The honey and cinnamon are also present in the flavor, thank goodness. They meld perfectly with the soft bread note to make me think of thick homemade wheat bread toast slathered with creamed honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. There’s also a lovely sticky dried fruit note, so perhaps a touch of fig jam as well.

Yummy, sweet, fruity, bready, cinnamony tea. Breakfast in a mug! ;)

Starting with a conservative rating until I’ve had some more Taiwanese blacks to compare this to!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Cinnamon, Cream, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet, Thick

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Courtney

Yay! So glad you enjoyed this one. :)

Cameron B.

I love Taiwanese black teas. :D

Courtney

They are the best! My favourite for sure. I’m always on a quest for them.

derk

Cameron B.: Taiwanese blacks tend to have a distinct lack of heavy malt which I find absolutely intriguing and complementary to my tastes. I hope you do explore them more!

Cameron B.

@derk – I love their rich honeyed fruit notes. I have a small pile of sealed TTC samples, but I’m trying to sip down some open teas before I allow myself to open anything else! :P

Courtney

The honey is the besttttt. I have their Golden Dragon Black Pearl Oolong (lot 799) that’s also tasty (much more like a black tea than an oolong)!

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