Taiwan Tea CraftsEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Oh boy, my cupboard is just… Can you say ‘explosion’?
This sample came from Kittenna – it’s something that, if I were looking to place an order with Taiwan Tea Crafts, I could actually see myself being interested in ordering so I was excited to try it out. I believe I have tea from lot 364, for what it’s worth.
Normally this is something I’d likely look to try Gong Fu, but I don’t have quite a big enough sample to give it a proper go as a Gong Fu tea so I’m just drinking it Western instead. I think it still gives me a pretty good representation of the flavour though. It’s actually really good, and quite smooth! More of a full bodied flavour for sure. I’m getting a mix of notes including heavy roast/toastyness, whole wheat bread, and a little bit of char in the body and finish, honey top notes, floral and raisin undertones, and wood in the aftertaste. It’s a good balance of more umami type tasting notes, and overall natural sweetness.
Received this tea as a sample with my massive December order. Normally don’t drink a lot of black tea with the exception of bud teas like Jin Jun Mei or Dian Hong, so I was excited to give this a try. Happy to say that Taiwan Tea Crafts has impressed once again!
The dry leaves were surprisingly aromatic. Notes of candied apricots, plums, and fruit leather. The wet leaves, however, were much more interesting with a spicy/sweet combination reminiscent of cinnamon rolls beneath a familiar black tea earthiness.
I took this for five steepings at 6/3/6/8/10 seconds accordingly. I was starting to get a little jittery after five, since I was drinking alone, but could very easily have taken this tea for more. The liquor was light amber with a medium body and an immediate hit of stone fruit sweetness on the palate. Plums were the dominant flavor to me but dates, figs, and candied apricots all came through as well. There was a spiciness like cinnamon beneath the surface if you looked for it. Flavor was consistent through the first four infusions with maybe a slight shift toward the teas spicier notes in the fifth.
Overall, a pleasantly sweet black tea with no overwhelming or imbalanced flavors. I could definitely see this tea becoming one of the go-to black teas in my shelf.
Have I mentioned that I harbor something of a ridiculous obsession with Dong Ding oolongs? I have? Good. Trying the Dong Ding Oolong-Heavy Roast from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company got me craving more Dong Ding, so I just had to crack open the Dong Ding sampler tin I got from Taiwan Tea Crafts last year. After a little hesitation, this was the tea I ended up trying. All I can say is, “Wow!” In my estimation, this was a fantastic Dong Ding oolong.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick 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, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of roasted peanut and cashew. The rinse brought out aromas of butter, toast, wood, vanilla, cream, and hints of something like ripe melon. The first infusion was a bit fruitier on the nose, though I still could not determine what exactly I was supposed to be picking up. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of roasted nuts on the entry (almond, cashew, and peanut) that gave way to smooth impressions of vanilla, cantaloupe, cream, butter, wood, and toast. In the background, I detected delicate hints of coffee and cocoa. The fade was vegetal with a slightly brothy umami quality. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of caramelized banana, grilled pineapple, toasted rice, brown sugar, coconut, and minerals. The coffee and cocoa notes were somewhat stronger. On the finish, the umami note was slightly amplified and the vague vegetal notes began to resemble a combination of damp grass, watercress, banana leaf, seaweed, and spinach. I also began to detect a slight citrusy kick just before the swallow that initially reminded me of lemon zest, but eventually morphed into more of a lemon candy note. The later infusions offered lingering notes of minerals, butter, cream, and toasted rice with some subtle nutty and vegetal undertones as well as a slight milkiness.
Extremely deep and complex, but also expertly balanced, superbly layered, and approachable, I can see why Taiwan Tea Crafts claims this as one of their signature offerings. This was easily one of the best Taiwanese oolongs I have ever had. For those of you who may not be sold on Dong Ding oolongs, give this one a try should you get the chance.
Flavors: Almond, banana, Butter, Cantaloupe, Cocoa, Coconut, Coffee, Cream, Grass, Lemon, Milk, Mineral, Nutty, Peanut, Pineapple, Seaweed, Spinach, Toasted Rice, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood
It’s taken nearly a year, but I think my little purple clay teapot is finally starting to give back flavor. And that presents a real dilemma sometimes when it comes to rating teas. This was one of those situations where the gaiwan and clay teapot resulted in two very different tasting teas.
The dry leaves are large and dark green with a green apple and orchid aroma. When wet, they emit fruity cucumber-melon and vegetal, slightly herbaceous aromas. The tea starts off fruity, some green apple sourness initially along with little floral hints in the background. This is where the gaiwan brewed tea stops and the other begins. In the tea brewed in clay, the depth of flavor is far greater. I detected notes of narcissus, hyacinth, egg custard, and pineapple in the finish. As it continues steeping, it gains thickness in the body and develops a sweet floral-fruity flavor. There’s a slight funk in the smell of the steeped leaves that thankfully doesn’t make it into the tea.
The main difference that I can tell between the porcelain and clay brewed teas seems to be the clay teapot did a good job of minimizing the sourness that cropped up here and there and amplified the flowery notes. The gaiwan brewed tea was a good, serviceable gao shan but nothing memorable and far from the better Li Shans I’ve had such as the recent one from What-Cha.
Flavors: Custard, Flowers, Green Apple, Melon, Narcissus, Sour
Here’s another backlogged review from a little earlier in the week. The third tea from my Shan Lin Xi oolong sampler, I found this one to be the least engaging of the group thus far. It was not a bad tea by any measure, it just lacked some of the depth and character that made both of the Shibi oolongs so appealing.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 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 floral, fruity aromas with hints of cream and vanilla. After the rinse, I found aromas of cream, vanilla, butter, and sugarcane balanced by hints of fresh flowers and orchard fruits. The first infusion brought out aromas of pear, gardenia, and magnolia. In the mouth, I found notes of cream, butter, vanilla, and sugarcane underscored by subtle hints of magnolia and gardenia. There was something of an indistinct vegetal character there too. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of orchid, lily, honeysuckle, green apple, white grape, grass, lettuce, custard, spinach, seaweed, and minerals to go with hints of cantaloupe and a slightly brothy umami note. Oh, and the pear eventually managed to show up in the mouth as well. The later infusions were mostly a wash of minerals, butter, lettuce, and spinach with hints of umami, seaweed, green apple, and pear.
This was not a bad tea, but I could not muster all that much enthusiasm for it after a point. I found that the floral notes faded quickly and I could not find enough in the later infusions to hold my interest. In the end, I’m glad I took the opportunity to try this tea, but it did not hold up to the stronger, sweeter Shibi oolongs Taiwan Tea Crafts offers.
Flavors: Butter, Cantaloupe, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, White Grapes
Dry leaf smells immensely like candied mango, the kind that you would get in china town. A lot of sweetness coming off of the dried leaf’s aroma.
The wet leaf has much more of an assamica aroma but with a lot of sweetness.
The liquor is a nice red color. Lots of spices on the midst of this tea with a wonderful maltiness that is not overpowering at all. This is a really good tea that is super solid but requires some attention. Not because it over brews easily but because in order to decipher all of these flavors you will want to pay attention.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Honey, Malt, Mango, Pear
This was the second of the Shibi oolong samples that were included in my Shanlinxi High Mountain Oolong Tea Exploration Sampler that I purchased from Taiwan Tea Crafts back around March. I know I was raving about the Winter 2015 Shibi oolong I tried several days ago, and my fondness for that tea spurred me into making time to try this one. I found this to be a lighter, more vegetal tea. It was very pleasant, but lacked some of the sweetness, complexity, and staying power of the other tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 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 leaves emitted aromas of butter, cream, and sugarcane that were backed by hints of fresh flowers. After the rinse, I found hints of melon, orchard fruits, and vanilla on the nose. There was not much of an increase in floral presence. The first proper infusion introduced hints of cinnamon, lily, and violet on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor offered delicate, somewhat unexpected green apple and pear notes on the entry. These were chased by notes of sugarcane, butter, cream, some sort of melon, and hints of lily and violet. Subsequent infusions brought out cinnamon, vanilla, and more robust lily and violet notes which were joined by emerging impressions of orchid. I also began to note a slightly soupy umami note in the mouth, though I also found notes of parsley, spinach, grass, and minerals. Big sugarcane notes were present throughout the middle infusions, and I also started to find a distinct impression of ripe honeydew melon on the finish. The later infusions mostly offered notes of minerals, sugarcane, and butter as well as the umami presence I noted earlier. At times, I could find little underlying notes of parsley, spinach, grass, green apple, and pear as well.
As I noted in the introduction, this tea was not as sweet, complex, or long-lived as the Winter 2015 tea from the same producer. This one was also not quite as smooth and silky in the mouth, yet it was still a very pleasant, likable tea all the same. In fact, I am rather used to lighter, more vegetal Shanlinxi oolongs and this was more like what I have either rightly or wrongly come to expect of these teas, especially the spring harvests. So, even though I did not enjoy this tea as much as the Winter 2015 Shibi oolong, I still would not caution others to avoid it. If you are looking for a light, delicate high mountain oolong, this one will probably hit the spot.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Mineral, Orchid, Parsley, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Violet
Back around March, I ordered a bunch of samplers from Taiwan Tea Crafts, and naturally, shoved them in the back of one of the tea cabinets and forgot about them. Earlier this week I took a peek inside both cabinets, saw them all, and ended up cursing in frustration. I should have made a point of drinking those teas quickly, but no, I had to leave them sitting, waiting to be discovered like landmines. The Shanlinxi sampler was the first one I opened and the first thing I discovered was this winter 2015 tea in a vaccuum-sealed pouch. I carefully opened the pouch, expecting a faded, vegetal mess, yet what I found was a lovely jade tea that emitted powerful buttery, floral aromas. Since it was obviously still good, I made a point of drinking it immediately. That was a great decision on my part, as it ended up being wonderful.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 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 surprisingly powerful aromas of cream, butter, lilac, gardenia, and honeysuckle. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of cinnamon, custard, magnolia, and orchard fruits. The first infusion offered a hint of pear on the nose and light notes on the palate. A grassy, vegetal entry gave way to hints of pear, citrus, cream, butter, and fresh flowers. Subsequent infusions offered stronger butter and cream notes, while impressions of custard, cinnamon, grass, and tangerine fully emerged on the palate. The floral notes showed up in a big way too. It was like a bouquet of lilac, violet, gardenia, magnolia, and honeysuckle. Impressions of lettuce, coriander, green apple, vanilla, sugarcane, coconut, pineapple, and minerals also emerged. The later infusions retained more complexity than expected. I found impressions of minerals, butter, sugarcane, and cream balanced by notes of vanilla, pineapple, and orchard fruits.
This was a tea that absolutely floored me, and to be completely honest, I do not always like teas from the Shanlinxi and Alishan growing regions (from what I understand Shibi borders both and Shibi teas are sometimes classified as either Alishan or Shanlinxi by a number of vendors). Rather than fading quickly to focus on vegetal notes, this tea was very fruity, savory, and floral throughout virtually all of the session and retained a very smooth, creamy texture in the mouth from start to finish. The sort of tea that is capable of spurring me into investigating Shibi oolongs more thoroughly, I will undoubtedly be trying some of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ other Shibi offerings in the near future.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus, Coconut, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mineral, Pear, Pineapple, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet
When I saw a black tea made from the Four Seasons varietal, I had to try it. I soon discovered that it’s very different from your standard Ruby 18, and not necessarily in a way that I enjoy. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 200F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The first steep tastes like Red River cereal, with oats, grain, cream, and honey notes. The second steep is similar, although there’s a floral, tangy aftertaste that reminds me of Four Seasons oolong. Four steeps in, this still tastes like breakfast cereal. The aftertaste is the most interesting part of this tea, where its Four Seasons character emerges. Although the Taiwan Tea Crafts website mentions citrus fruits, I don’t pick them up consistently, although I do get hints of citrus from time to time in later steeps.
This is a unique black tea that I’m happy to have crossed off my list. However, there’s a reason why I haven’t had Red River cereal since I was a kid. Since Taiwan Tea Crafts recommends drinking this tea iced, I’ll see if that brings out more of the citrus flavours.
Flavors: Citrus, Cream, Floral, Grain, Honey, Oats, Tangy
Many of this year’s high mountain oolongs fell below expectations, but this was one of the few standouts. Super floral, sweet, and fruity. The smell and taste of the beginning steeps is like tropical flowers and morning dew on a spring day. Very crisp and refreshing. It drops off a bit towards the middle before transitioning to a sweet, fruity flavor with a thick body and some mineral notes. I got 9 good steeps out of this gongfued and about 4-5 western style. When western steeped, the florals are intensified.
Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Orchid, Sugarcane, Tropical
I tried Long Feng Xia for the first time a year ago and loved its elegant, citrusy flavor. However this batch from TTC reminded me once again of how drastically the same tea can change from one harvest to the next. It gives wonderful aromas of daffodils and tropical fruit but none of it comes through in taste. The flavor is mostly grassy-vegetal with noticeable astringency that hangs around for the first few steeps. Some fruitiness peeks through later but it’s muted and the flavor is flat overall. It doesn’t have the balsam notes nor the delicate floral quality of LFX of past. A very disappointing tea.
Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Orchid, Vegetal
finished this one off today after a morning walk with a couple of our friends and their 4 yr old. They don’t get out much to enjoy nature, so we took them out in to the “forest” to show them a few of the cool places that could take their kid for an adventure. It was a lot of fun, but also a little sad that he really hasn’t been out to explore the great outdoors beyond city parks. We tracked the “bunny” that lives in the forest…saw where the “bear” lives and camouflaged ourselves in the trees to hide from mom dad and uncle ian. In other words…best morning adventure ever!
my other tea from today…i was slacking today. However, this was totally worth it. Like such that i’m tempted to pick up more of this because it’s that delicious honey black sort of tea that i am so happy with. Though there’s another from TTC that i also love, so maybe need to figure out which one is the winner on a side by side tomorrow haha
As much as I love green oolongs, every once in a while I need to switch things up a bit with a baked tea. Most dark oolongs are too roasty for me but light baked teas such as this one fit the bill perfectly: green with a warming personality
The first whiff of the dry leaf reminded me of cream and butterscotch. Wet leaf had a toasted nuts scent to it. It was too roasty gongfued so I steeped it western style and grandpa with good results. First steep was light bodied but very sweet with notes of honey and baked bread. Second steeping brought out toasted barley, nuts, and caramel. Starting with the third steep, the tea begins exhibiting a greener character. The baked flavor diminishes and eventually disappears by the 5th steep leaving a mellow fruity flavor behind.
Overall, this was a satisfying tea without the heavy char you typically see in dark oolongs. I enjoyed its sweet, caramelized nuts flavor but wished it had some more depth and the florals of BTTC’s light baked Alishan. Also the gradual transition from dark to green doesn’t happen as smoothly as the BTTC tea.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butterscotch, Caramel