Tao Tea LeafEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
This was part of my huge Tao Tea Leaf haul at the end of 2015, though I just opened the package a few months ago. Given my love of almonds, I had to add it to my order, even though I remember it being fairly expensive. (It helped that I ordered during a sale.) I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 13, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The first steep has notes of almonds, hay, tobacco, and cream, with a scratchy astringency that reminds me of almond skin. In the second steep, the roast becomes more prominent. The bulk of the sip is almonds and roast, but grapefruit and florals come out in the aftertaste. The almond gets less intense in the next couple steeps and the orchid and jasmine florals and citrus show themselves more clearly. The florals disappear around steep seven, leaving roast, nuts, minerals, and astringency until the end of the session.
To me, this tea lives up to its name, which doesn’t seem to be the case for many other almond Dan Congs. It’s a bit more astringent than I’d like, but that’s possibly my fault. Most reviewers aren’t overly impressed with it, and with my haphazard approach to brewing, I’m surprised that it consistently works out for me. I’ll definitely buy more, if only during a sale.
Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Grapefruit, Hay, Jasmine, Mineral, Nutty, Orchid, Roasted, Tobacco
The first time I drank this tea, which was also the first time drinking Golden Monkey, it didn’t hit the right spot mostly due to its fairly light body. Today however, its smooth and delicate nature was exactly what I needed. The tea has a light, but pleasant smell. Dry leaves have a bit of a leather aroma with hints of tobacco, while the wet leaves are more malty. The taste is nutty, moderately sweet and quite woody in the finish. In the aftertaste I also get some chocolate notes emerging.
I definitely wouldn’t make this my default choice as far as hong cha goes, but once in a while it can be nice.
Flavors: Chocolate, Leather, Malt, Nutty, Sweet, Tobacco, Wood
First thing I noticed is an unusual smell of the dry leaves, which somehow reminds me of old leather. Wet leaf scent also has that quality, together with a tobacco note. The leaves are actually quite broken up, but there is no dust really. The tea brews a very clear liquor. It is quite fruity with a short bitterness at the back of the mouth. The mouthfeel is interesting, even though not as thick as I would expect. It starts off coating, but becomes a bit powdery and dry in the finish. The aftertaste is fairly acidic and only a touch astringent.
Overall, the tea somehow strikes nice balance between being delicate and powerful. It is tasty and clearly of good quality. Nevertheless, I feel like the price is too high. Maybe I am just not the one to properly appreciate a premium Keemun black tea though.
Flavors: Fruity, Leather, Sour, Tobacco
A decent albeit quite light bodied Baozhong. The mouthfeel is super light, the liquid seems to almost vanish soon after it hits mouth. Once it cools down, it becomes a little bit more velvety. The smell seems fairly complex, but not so appealing to me personally. I noticed a strange mix of aromas, although not necessarily all at the same time – papaya, coconut milk, caramelized onion and citrus. The taste is floral in the first few infusions, with sweet and sour undertones. Interestingly, the aftertaste actually becomes quite savoury. The later steeps are much more grassy and citrusy overall. It’s a good tea once in a while, but not my favourite.
Flavors: Caramel, Citrus Fruits, Citrusy, Coconut, Floral, Grass
I prefer this tea as a casual brew rather than a focused session. Unfortunately, it is not priced as a daily drinker.
Today I drank it while working so no detailed notes this time. However, I can say that it is quite balanced and refreshing. There are no obvious drawbacks. The smell is nice and strong, it has a decent body and is tasty for sure. A good dessert tea I would say. It’s just that none of its aspects really caught my attention when doing a focused session.
Flavors: Bitter, Caramel, Mineral, Sweet, Wet Rocks
Discovery Tea Box – Tea Six
So, when I saw this in the box I sort of simultaneously had thoughts of excitement and cringe because, on one hand, a really good and fresh tasting coconut oolong can make for the BEST cold brew but also if it’s an older coconut tea that has spoiled it can also be the most gnarly thing ever. So, I cautiously cracked open the package of it and gave it a whiff. Well, the angels were singing because this smelled heavenly.
I decided to pop a tablespoon of it into my cold brewing mason jar, leave it overnight and just see what would happen – and that was a great idea. Man, this one really took me back to some of the amazing coconut oolong and white teas I used to cold brew on a near daily basis back when I was living in Saskatoon still and was really getting into tea. Like, that sweet sweet ‘peak’ when I was drinking 15+ cups of tea a day and would brew up no less than three cups of tea at a time. Huge nostalgia factor, here.
It’s just really fresh tasting and light with some very strong, buttery sweet coconut notes. Kind of like a really well done coconut water!? Like, it’s just that hydrating and seamlessly perfect. Hints of florals, because it is an oolong base after all. Kind of reminded me of pouchong oolong (though I’m not sure if it actually is) – lots of orchid/lily notes and that super delicate, fresh floral thing going for it with just a TINY LITTLE BIT of “green” flavour.
Yeah, I’ll stealing the rest of the bag of this out of the box. I refuse to feel bad for doing so; gotta clear out some things to make room for new things and this is just gonna be one of them. That’s how life is sometimes.
This is the best Tie Guan Yin I have tried until now. The dry leaves smell of fruit, most prominantly peach. However, in the wet leaf aroma, I found more of floral, grassy and egg yolk notes. The taste is bright and balanced, something that I lacked in other TGYs. Mouthfeel is very soft and lubricating, not much astringency to be found here.
Overall, I enjoy this tea a lot, and I am glad I found a TGY I can appreciate.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Peach
I would rather drink either a decent quality sencha or a fresh ginger tea any time. You can feel the ginger mostly in the smell, the taste is light with some mild spiciness. It doesn’t really have any qualities I would want from a sencha unfortunately.
Mmm, this is a perfect oolong for winter. It has a really pleasant roasted, nutty flavour that comes close to a coffee when you brew it strongly. There are more subtle hints of maybe burnt sugar or molasses, and a slight woodiness that reminds me of a bonfire. The liquor steeps thick and makes the mouth salivate. Really great feeling while drinking this, I just get super cozy and sleepy-stupid-happy.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Campfire, Coffee, Molasses, Nuts, Roasted
I bought 25 g of this Dan Cong during Tao Tea Leaf’s semi-annual sale at the beginning of 2016 and just cut open the bag a couple weeks ago. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 212F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, and 240 seconds.
The first steep has aromas of honey, orchids, roses, and stonefruit. In the mouth, the roast predominates, although there are notes of honey, orchid, rose, nectarine, minerals, and wood. There’s no bitterness, although the end of the sip is drying. Baked bread and lichi become apparent on the second steep.
During the middle steeps, the roast and floral notes become more prominent and the fruit falls into the background. By steep six, minerals and grass begin to appear, a sign that the tea is fading. By the end of the session, it’s all minerals, roast, char, and walnut shells, with faint orchid notes in the background.
This tea had a beautiful start, but petered out quickly. If all the steeps had been like the first few, I would have rated it in the nineties, but as is, it’s in the mid eighties for me.
Any advice on how to get your Dan Congs to last longer?
Flavors: Baked Bread, Char, Floral, Grass, Honey, Lychee, Mineral, Orchid, Roasted, Rose, Stonefruits, Walnut, Wood
Though it’s a very popular type of tea, this is the first Golden Monkey I’ve tried. I was put off by the profile, which I recall emphasizes malt, leather, tobacco, and other burly flavours. However, I picked up a pouch of this from Tao Tea Leaf in their Christmas 2015 sale, and am just getting around to it. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, and 240 seconds.
The first couple steeps are a surprise, offering notes of milk chocolate, brown sugar, caramel, mild sweet potato, roasted almond, and wood. Combined with the fact that it has almost no astringency, this makes for a tasty brew! Malt starts to emerge in the third steep, but it doesn’t overpower the chocolate and other flavours. I do get hints of earth and leather in the last few steeps, but the chocolate doesn’t disappear.
Either this Golden Monkey is atypical, or my impressions of the type were way off. Though not the most complex tea in the world, its smoothness and chocolatey sweetness made me enjoy it much more than I thought I would. One tiny drawback is that the thin, wiry leaves fit perfectly through the holes in my gongfu teapot, regularly ending up in my cup. Still, this Golden Monkey was well worth holding onto.
Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Chocolate, Earth, Leather, Malt, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
At first, I did two quick infusions, which yielded a nice and easy to drink tea with a good balance of woody, malty and sweet flavours.
For the third infusion I upped the time and temperature, as a result of which the pine notes were enhanced and the tea possesed a very enjoyable bitterness to counter the sweetness.
The cocoa and coffee notes I only noticed in the smell (cocoa in wet leaf, coffee in the liquor), not really in the taste.
The aftertaste has a bit of a sheng vibe to it, very vibrant with hints of fresh herbs like thyme.
Overall I found it to be much fresher than the smoked versions of LS and I prefer that. Also, this tea has a fairly strong cha qi for a black tea I reckon, it can warm you up on cold days (like today).
Flavors: Bark, Cocoa, Coffee, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Plant Stems, Sweet, Thyme, Wood
Damn. This is good tea.
Oddly enough, this tastes almost exactly the same as Jiri Horse Balhyocha by teabento that I’ve been enamoured with recently. Same dark chocolate notes. The difference here is that the sweet potato is more pronounced and there’s a slightly bitter aftersip.
Really really good. And local even, so yay! Not cheap, but local—reminder to self.
I will be stocking more of this, likely soon.
I can totally see why this is Dexter’s favourite.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
I picked up this sample a few years ago in my “try all the teas” phase. The leaves are somewhat broken, and there’s just enough for a single gongfu session. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
In the first steep, I get notes of honey, grapes, malt, flowers, cocoa, and tannens. I don’t know why, but some Chinese blacks make me think of a much better version of your standard English Breakfast. The tea loses the floral and grape notes by the fourth steep, becoming more malty, metallic, and astringent. The honey continues throughout the session, which makes it more enjoyable. Still, the first four or five steeps are the best.
Although this tea isn’t bad, I’m not in a hurry to get more. Compared to other, admittedly more expensive, Guangdong black teas I’ve had, this is just okay. I think I like black teas with distinctive floral, fruity, or chocolate flavours, and this one doesn’t tick enough of those boxes consistently.
Flavors: Astringent, Cocoa, Floral, Grapes, Honey, Malt, Metallic, Tannic
I think this is from 2015. It’s been getting colder, and this is definitely a winter tea. 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.
The first steep has notes of tobacco, caramel, roast, and dark wood. There are also hints of sandalwood, banana, and strawberry, but they’re very much in the background. I let the second steep sit a couple seconds too long, and it dialed the darker flavours up to eleven. The tobacco predominates in the early steeps, perhaps a bit too much for me.
By steep five, this oolong becomes less aggressive, but also starts losing its complexity. It has a generic Wuyi profile of roast, earth, minerality, and caramel.
Due to its earthy roast and caramel flavours, this oolong would be a perfect introductory tea for coffee drinkers. For me, it was decent, but not something I need to immediately buy more of.
Flavors: banana, Caramel, Dark Wood, Earth, Mineral, Resin, Roasted, Tobacco
No notes yet. Add one?
I’ve been aging this since April 2017, (not exactly aging ;) )
First steeps were amazingly buttery smooth and savory.
A bit thin in the tea soup aspect but enjoyable no off flavors or anything bitter or astringent.
Subsequent steeps are all relatively the same; a walnut or nutty taste hints at some kind of astringency or bitterness that is not there which impacts the huigan, showing up only after quite a few steeps and is not even that noticeable, hinting that you would require much more leaf then what I used.
The rest of the palate reminds me mostly of a veggie pilaf with a hot butter mouth feel it really is very smooth butter kind of tea, this is huge highlight for me and reminds me a little of gyokuro, butter savoriness and i expect there would be more of this flavor if i used much more leaf.
I quite like this tea, but can also understand some of the negative reviews here. The amber liquor smells of strong sweet hay, while the wet leaves smell of sweet hay, a hint of tobacco, and another strange sweetness that I can’t really place. I brewed with about 225ml of water, and poured the water slowly from some height to help the tightly compressed leaves open up. That worked really well. The liquor is smooth in the mouth, with just a bit of astringency and the hay flavour is strong. I found the qi to be substantial and enjoyable.
Another sample from GCTTB
Unfortunately I strongly disliked this one. The sickly sweet licorice root was disgusting and I wouldn’t finish the cup. From what I did taste, this blend is heavy on the licorice root which gives it a metallic root flavour. Something roasty (the licorice root?), some lemongrass, a hint of lime flavour, and something fruity (apple or lemon). Even licorice lovers might find this undrinkable. It tastes like stevia in water with some lime and lime essence.
Flavors: Citrus, Lemongrass, Licorice, Lime, Medicinal, Metallic, Mint, Sweet, Taro Root
I’ve discovered that the secret to bringing the cinnamon out of this tea is to use a lot of it. I used to put about 4 or 5 g of tea in a 120 ml vessel, but adding a couple extra grams makes all the difference. I steeped 7 g of tea in my 120 ml teapot at around 195F for 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 120, and 160 seconds.
In the pot, the dry leaves smell like cereal, roasted spices, and char. The first steep has initial impressions of wood, roast, cereal, honey, and char, with the cinnamon lurking at the end of the sip. The cinnamon is more roasted and mellow than spicy, and I might not have classified it as such if I hadn’t been looking for it. The tea is a bit drying and has a reasonably long aftertaste.
The roast really ramps up in steep 2. I don’t think I oversteeped it, but it sure tastes that way. Gone are the cereal and sweetness, and the cinnamon is relegated to the aftertaste.
Steep 3, at 15 seconds, isn’t so roasty, and the original notes come through again. Still, this tea is a little too roasted for me. The sweetness gradually diminishes over the next three steeps until, by steep 6, it’s not nearly as complex. The cinnamon has virtually disappeared by this point. By steep 10, when I called an end to the session, the tea was just charcoal water.
This Rou Gui was good, with a nice cinnamon note if I use enough tea. However, I’m just not as fond of Wuyi oolongs as I am of greener ones.
Flavors: Char, Cinnamon, Drying, Grain, Honey, Mineral, Roasted, Wood
I have really liked some other purple leaf sheng that I’ve tried, so I was pretty excited to grab a little baggie of this from the TTB last time it came into my possession. Unfortunately, this one was a bit of a let-down. The dry leaf had a slightly fruity aroma – after a rinse, they smelled sweeter with a bit of a vegetal note and another something that was really familiar, but which I was unable to place.
I didn’t get a whole lot else from the tea. Some bitterness and vegetal sweetness, maybe just a touch of raisin-y fruitiness. The tea was pretty drying from the start and got more so as the session progressed. Pretty meh the whole time. I only had about 4g of this one, so I don’t have enough to try it again, so that’s that I guess!
Flavors: Drying, Fruity, Vegetal
Bought this a few weeks ago when Tao Tea Leaf was having a sale. It is a fairly nice tea. It is probably not as strong as I expect a breakfast tea should be. It has a malty note and I would say a bit of a fruity note. Overall a nice tea. I am being lazy this morning and steeping my tea western style. But breakfast teas were really meant for this kind of steeping anyway.
I brewed this tea one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.
Flavors: Fruity, Malt, Sweet
Just the perfect amount of floral today, in the first few infusions. Seriously. Really needed that.
And I finally noticed that same roastiness from the High Mountain tea version, in this one. Funny, my last cup didn’t have it at all.
Later steeps have a much more complex nature to it. Less floral and more mineral and apricot. Also getting what they mean about sugar cookies. There is a sweetness in all the infusions that hangs out through the whole sip. Oh and a lovely tartness, like plums just before they ripen. Yum.
Made it to the seventh one (long steeping the final one now) and it has a bit of a stale note. I guess I’m wringing out those leaves pretty good!
Heh. My tongue is burning in a pleasant way, but methinks that may be from the stir fry I had with dinner. We added a lot of garlic :D