Tao Tea LeafEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I was in the mood for shu (cooked) pu-erh and walked into the Tao tea leaf store. These are definitely shu as others have noted, and the retailer confirmed it. By the third drinkable infusion it really seemed to get deeper and richer in flavour, and it’s smooth, sweet, and full bodied. I really liked this but thought the leaves should have been bigger, not mulching and broken as they were as soon as they were steeped. After I tossed the first wash, I steeped for 30sec a few times, then 40, 50 and a minute. I’m on my 6th steep and it is as good if not better. There is a mouth feel and the taste lingers in a pleasant way, stimulates saliva so-to-speak. The only negative thing I’ve noticed is that after the first couple of steeps the effect it has on me is overly stimulating. I feel really buzzed in my head and some tightness in my chest, a bit of nervousness. I’ve not had this type of reaction to other puerhs. Don’t know if anyone else has found this with this tea.
Flavors: Sweet, Wet Earth
The tea is good! light, refreshing, and a bit spicy. Just what I wanted.
I seem to be fighting a bug. Only it isn’t like any bug I’ve had before. 99% of the ones I have involve a sore throat/stuffy nose/cough/fuzzy brain. This time? slightly elevated temp that I wouldn’t even call a fever… and exhaustion. Oh and I’m sore all over. Nope I haven’t done anything resembling exercise recently. Confusing! I don’t know what to do with this thing, whatever it is. I know how to fight my normal sick battles! Not impressed I say.
Sorry for the rant. I get grumpy when I feel like bleh,apparently.
Sipdown from this morning – I originally wrote about this tea here: http://booksandtea.ca/2015/12/toronto-tea-festival-tasting-set/
Another one from Nicole – thank you! The leaves here just look like they will make a delicious cup. Mostly amber with black here and there… mildly fuzzy twisties. The dark amber brew is quite delicious but it’s tough for me to describe. It’s malty, honey, not really chocolate, a little on the lighter side of the flavor spectrum. Hints of tomato soup. Not the most distinct flavor with this type of tea, so it isn’t my favorite of this type, so I’m glad Nicole only sent me a little to try of one of her favorites. :D
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
I forgot if this was from a tea box or if this was from a swap, but either way, I got this from Sil!
I have too much tea and I’m going to drink as much as I can bc I need to get rid of them all.
- Smells like a subtle and light black tea with more hits of coco and vanilla.
- Tastes like black tea. Nothing too special. The vanilla and chocolate aroma was lost
With milk and sugar, that helps the bitterness of the tea. Love the creaminess and I think the vanilla is coming back :)
Cries bc I’m just about to take my last final of undergrad. Beer final, here I come!
Thanks to TheLastDodo for this one a while back! The dry leaves look like twisted needles of green tea. The flavor is just what I love with a green tea: sweet, nutty, a little vegetal, with hints of fruit. Superbly well balanced between all four of those notes, almost like each one is present in the perfect amounts. This is exactly the way I love green teas to be. This would be a perfect green…. IF the second cup was at all like the first. It seemed like any of the flavor notes in the first steep were gone in the second, leaving just a slightly astringent and dry plain green. The parameters were similar to the first steep, so I’m not sure why it would make such a difference. The first steep is worth it though. After trying a few Mao Feng teas, they are certainly some of my favorite greens.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// 30 minutes after boiling // 2- 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 30 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
The first steep of this was amazing. Very vegetal, buttery, and mildly floral. I really don’t like florals at all and barely noticed it so that was fine by me!
The buttery part does lend itself to “popcorn” but I would never have picked out that descriptor without looking at the notes above. I consider Genmaicha to be closer, but in a different way of course. If you could combine the two, you’d definitely have a great snack alternative. And since popcorn IS my fave indulgence, well I’d be in heaven.
Also, first steep was rather drying. The second was less so, but then I found it to be more flowery, so not as tasty IMO. Even still, I really enjoyed it overall. Very tasty! Too bad I only had a sample. I may see if they have any next time I’m at the shop.
I decided to finally break this out. The dry leaf is super compressed. I was reminded of a XG iron cake. The cake gives a dry vegetal aroma with some faint sweetness. I placed a bunch in my warmed yixing and waited a little bit. The yixing gave a smoke and roasted vegetables aroma. I washed the leaves once and began brewing. This was not a great tea session. The cake took about four rounds of steeping to finally open up, and it didn’t give off any great flavors. This tea has no complexity, and it sticks with some basic tones. For instance, each steeping yielded the slightly yellowed liquor with tastes of roasted veggies, smoke, astringency, and bitterness. I did flash steeping this whole session, and the bitterness would not fade. I experienced a little bit of huigan in one sip, but it quickly faded away. The whole session gives a drying feeling in the mouth. The leaves consist of mostly chop and don’t yield any great experience. However, the qi is present, and is of decent strength. The feeling is somewhat uncomfortable and is centered at the head and back of the neck. I didn’t really enjoy this session. I might be spoiled with my regular offerings. This tea may interest others who have a palette for these sort of things.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Grass, Smoke, Vegetables, Vegetal
Holy fuck, people. HOLY FUCK. Trudeau didn’t just win the election, he punted the Conservatives to oblivion. I was convinced that despite the Liberal uptick in the polls, Harper was going to pull one last rabbit out of his hat and still win the election. For the Liberals to not only win, but get such a commanding majority is a highly pleasant surprise.
I drank two steeps of this tea to give me caffeine for the election results. I got a nice scent of cinnamon from the first steep, and a nice fruity undertone from the second steep. Overall, a decent cuppa for the evening; the roastiness was a nice complement to the crispness of the outside air.
Currently watching Mulcair’s concession speech. Still picking my jaw off the floor. I wonder when Harper will do the dignified thing and concede as well. I guess hiring a fancy Australian campaign fixer that traffics in using racism as a divide-and-conquer tactic didn’t turn out so well, did it? :-D
I had this from awhile ago and some cinnamon sounded pretty good. I opened it up and took in a pleasant warm and spicy wood aroma. I had good hopes for this session. I placed a good amount in my warmed gaiwan and gave it a shake. The spiced wood aroma deepened to roasted spices. This scent was close to a chai aroma. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The flavor was heavily tannic and unpleasantly bitter. I’m unsure if I did something wrong. I tried to do flash steeping and the result was the same. The taste was like sucking on a cinnamon stick. I was reminded of when I was younger, and I did the “cinnamon challenge”. However, the session improved in later steeping. The tones softened to a burnt sugar taste and light roast aroma. This took quite a bit of steeping. This rock oolong carried no sweet aftertaste and was very rough. This might not be the tea for me.
Flavors: Bitter, Burnt Sugar, Cinnamon, Dry Grass, Roasted, Spices, Tannic
I think I need to give up on the dream of a black cloth on my tea desk, oh sure it looks fantastic day one, but as of the first time I turn my back on the tea table, it is the cat’s table. So, either I need a tortie cat colored tea cloth that will also not show ALLLLL the stains from my tea spillage or I need to get a tiny tape roller to collect all the cat fuzz since she keeps insisting on sleeping on it. Clearly she is jealous of the tea pets and wants to be the alpha pet. Of course I could get one of those cool wooden tea trays with the drain, but it would make accessing my desk’s cubbyholes nigh impossible…maybe I should just turn my antique secretary desk into a draining teadesk…that would be so metal. And also really hard!! For those who remember my other tea desk WIP it is currently on hold until after I move…someday.
Today is, unless my notebook is a big ol’ liar, the last of the pile of samples from Tao Tea Leaf, their Precious Ali Shan-Premium, though reading the description, I am not sure if the Oolong from Ali Shan or an Oolong from Li Shan, I though about trying to figure it out through taste (or being sensible and contacting the shop) but then decided, maybe I spend too much time getting bogged down in the details, maybe I should just enjoy the tea and let it be the guide, not any preconceived notions of location. So tea, what do you have to tell me? The aroma is creamy, like all sorts of creamy, we have milky notes, sweet cream, honey butter, and almond milk. Underneath that sweet creaminess is a touch of gentle spicebush blossoms and faint papaya fruitiness.
Into my gaoshan pot the leaves go! The aroma of the now steeped and slightly unfurled leaves is gentle almond and chestnut at first, this moves to a nice burst of honey and flowers, honeysuckles, lilac, and that tropical fun burst of papaya at the finish. The liquid is where all the creamy action went, chestnuts and sweet cream with a nice burst of almond milk and distant honey drizzled bread.
First steeping is very creamy in the mouth (I am seeing a bit of a theme here) nice and smooth, one of my favorite thing about gaoshan Oolongs, they have some of the best mouthfeels in the tea world. The taste is sweet and creamy, almond milk and papaya notes mix with gentle flowery undertone. As the sipping continues the flowery notes build to a distinct honeysuckle note, and the finish has that same note with a lingering honey and chestnut aftertaste.
Second steeping, the aroma of the liquid has a nice spicebush note at the first, that moves to sweet cream and nutty notes of almond milk and chestnut. I am really liking the almond milk note, being one of my favorite non-dairy milks. The taste really ramps up the sweetness this steep, creamy and gentle nutty with a blend of chestnut, almond milk, coconut milk (specifically the milk substitute, not the super heavy stuff you get for cooking delightful Thai food, or coconut juice, the coconut note is very light in that stuff) and a touch of actual sweet cream. The finish is a lingering honeysuckle note that just keeps on going.
The third steep taught me something very valid, never rely on an internal timer (fun fact, any teas that require less than a five minute steeping time, I just keep watch on the leaves, count it out, or just wait til it feels right) for steeping tea while playing Terraria, I oversteeped the third steep by a good two minutes. Way to go, Amanda! The liquid was dark compared to the previous steeps, but the aroma was all flowers, no more cream, just a bouquet of lilacs and honeysuckles, very sweet and spring like. The taste was not at all bitter, not a bitter note to be found, hooray! The taste is intense creamy notes of chestnut and almond milk and then BOOM flowers! So many flowers, like I just fell face first into a lilac bush and got all its tasty nectar into my mouth. Well played, Oolong, well played!
[Backlog] – I find myself reaching for hot teas despite the rising indoor and outdoor temperatures. Iced tea certainly has a time and place, but for me, nothing can replace the comfort of a hot cup of tea. I tend to drink black or darker teas in the morning and follow them with greener, lighter teas in the afternoon and evening.
The beginning of the sip reminds me a little bit of sweet butter with corn. It quickly changes into something more floral, but lingers around just long enough to keep me interested. The rest of the sip is very green, almost a bit earthy. Flowers are still quite prominent and the buttery corn is nowhere to be found. I don’t detect a whole lot of fruit as the description mentions.. mostly leaves and flowers. I think that I’d like this cup more if it had creamier, fruitier elements. I do enjoy a floral oolong, but I suppose that I have to be in the mood for it.
This is a very nice choice to drink during the summer. It has a satisfying richness, but is still light enough to sip into the late afternoon or early evening. This tea would be a good choice for someone’s first oolong. It gives you a little bit of everything – flowers, earth, a hint of creaminess – without sacrificing body or the cup as a whole. I like that no single flavor takes over, but that they all contribute something, leading to a very balanced cup.
Alas! It did not storm yesterday, and on second looking at the weather, apparently I misread ‘early Thursday morning’ as early Tuesday, whoops! It is ok, because today was another comfy, blustery, windows open day, a day made for daydreaming about mountain forest frolics and coming home to a pile of fuzzy blankets and freshly baked bread. Ah, daydreaming!
Today we are looking at a tea that is anything but evocative of autumn, it is Tao Tea Leaf’s Shifeng Longjing Green Tea-Premium. Longjing (or also commonly known as Dragonwell, the translation of Longjing) is one of the most well loved teas of the spring harvest, some of us spend all year excitedly waiting the various harvests of this flat pan-fried leaves. The name Shifeng refers to one of the mountain peaks in the Xihu growing region, I think, it might be a mountain range and not a peak, or the name of a region in Hangzhou. As interesting as all that is, the real important thing is whether or not the tea is any good. The aroma is fairly delicate, not an overpowering scent, but it does have very distinct notes, specifically vegetal ones. Blending notes of snap peas, celery, greenbeans, asaragus, and a finish of sweet and sesame seeds. Sniffing this tea it is definitely a dragonwell, blending the iconic vegetal notes and that toasty sesame seed note that to me is very iconic, which I believe comes from the pan firing step of processing.
Dragonwell means time for the dragon gaiwan, just lungs everywhere! Though surprisingly I did not use my dragon cup, opting for my possible Tongzhi era cup instead, because it is still the new hotness in my collection. Now that the leaves have had a steeping, the aroma is heavy and thick in the vegetal department, especially the notes of asparagus, cooked cabbage, and greenbeans, it is a savory aroma with just a hint of nutty sweetness at the finish. The liquid is very light, but the notes that do waft out of my cup are green and fresh, asparagus with a hint of sauteed sesame seeds.
First steep, it starts out very smooth with a nice nutty blend of chestnut and sesame seeds, bringing out just a touch of sweetness at the start. This moves on to peas and edamame with a slightly savory sauteed bok choy and a slightly spicy (like VERY distant allspice) honey sweet finish.
On to the second steep, still a fairly light aroma, with asparagus and sesame seeds, adding a tiny hint of peas with this steep. The tasting experience is still very smooth, a nice light and smooth mouthfeel. The taste is all vegetal all the time, notes of asparagus and bok choy, edamame and peas, and a finish of greenbeans. Even though the notes are distinct none of them are very powerful, this is a delicate tea.
So, this last steep had pretty much no aroma, just a hint of asparagus. The taste was also pretty mild, almost nothing going on, like spring water and a touch of asparagus and bok choy. Even though this tea kinda petered out, I found the first two steeps delightfully light and refreshing. I am certainly fond of these delicate teas once in a while, as for an everyday drinker I prefer a Longjing with more of an oomph that I can just have, a tea as dainty as this needs concentration and complete focus, so not a bad thing on occasion.
Brew it and sit back and enjoy. Appealing, natural tasting coconut flavor at a level that isn’t overplayed. It smells so coconutty that I was expecting it might be overpowering on the palate and be relegated to the stash of teas I use to flavor less favored sip downs, but not so. It’s buttery and not too sweet, balanced by woodsiness and a bare whiff of smoke at the end.
Second steep: coconut fades to mild but butteriness is more pronounced and something vegetal, approximating spinach, appears.
Full flavored, bit of a complex profile, keeps your interest while also being a comfort tea. Great bonus that it’s organic.
Good morning all, and by good morning I mean it is 10 PM, yep, sleep schedule went all pear shaped again, but I honestly don’t care overly much. It currently is where I go to sleep late in the afternoon meaning I can still do things early in the day. No matter how nocturnal I am, it will always be a tad uncanny to wake up at night, guess I am not that hardcore! It used to weird me out when I worked night shift, especially in the winter, I would go to sleep when it was dark and wake up when it was dark, it skews the sense of time ever so slightly.
Today is an Oolong day, looking at Tao Tea Leaf’s Bei Dou Oolong. This is a not quite as well known as its cousins Yancha (or Wuyi Rock Oolong) whose name translates to North Star (must resist Fist of the North Star references, must resist!) This Yancha was first created in the 1950s, grown from cuttings taken from THE original very old Da Hong Pao bushes, the very ones that an emperor thought needed a fancy red robe. The creator of this tea, Yao Ye Ming had his research lab destroyed during the Cultural Revolution (thanks, guys, I really could go into such a rant about how revolutions that destroy art, history, religious things and science infuriate me, but I shall spare you all) but he continued in secret, Bei Dou surviving, allowing us to enjoy this tea scientist’s work. The appearance is a typical Yancha, curling and dark, and the aroma sings the song of its people, rich and loaded with char. Strong notes of cocoa, char, a distinct smoke along with the char, and a nice underlying sweetness. The more I sniff while waiting for the water to heat, I also detect a bit of nuttiness, but it is more like a nutshell, the sharp aroma of black walnut shell.
I have to apologize for the lack of photos. My camera corrupted the images, on the camera they look fine but after uploading they are unable to view, I desperately need a new camera, hopefully I can get one before it dies and this becomes a very sad blog. Help! I don’t want to just use my phone! Into my yixing the leaves go for their short steep. The aroma takes on a bunch more layers now that it is a pile of soggy leaves, along side the notes of char and cocoa are delicate notes of distant flowers, wet slate, cooked stone fruit, and a finish of black walnuts (not the shell this time.) The liquid is a three way tie between stone fruit (more plum than cherry, but there is a cherry hint too) wet slate, and char. At the finish is a distant crushed orchid sweetness as well.
First steeping time, the first thing I notice is the strong mineral presence, this Yancha puts the rock in rock oolong and I love that. Seriously, it reminds me of licking rocks, a hobby I have on occasion, since they have their own distinct flavors, wet slate and quartz being among my favorites. After that initial mineral burst the taste moves to a blend of cocoa and char with a touch of sweetness, the finish is woody and has a building sweetness that reminds me a bit of jaggery.
Onward to the next steep, I feel a pleasant tingling from the last steeping, Yancha has such great Qi! The aroma is roasty toasty, notes of char and smoke with roasted black walnuts and mineral, there is also an underlying sweetness like burnt sugar at the finish. The taste this time is less char and more burnt toast, there is a definite bready note to the empyreumatic notes this time. There is also a strong mineral presence and cocoa, again the finish is like jaggery with also a touch of lingering dark chocolate. I now want to melt dark chocolate and jaggery and drink it.
Third steeping time, the aroma is mostly gentle char, toast, and mineral. A hint of underlying sweetness remains, but the aroma is not as potent as before. Whoa, where did the mineral and char go? I am left with a smooth mouth full of jaggery, dates, cooked plums, and a touch of cocoa. I think the tea became sad that I wanted melted chocolate so turned on the sweetness factor in a plea to not leave. Don’t worry tea, I won’t leave. I got one more steep before it fizzled out, usually I find Yancha ends in mineral, so I found it fascinating that this one started with mineral and ended in sweetness.
I decided to be a real showoff last night, and I am immensely pleased it worked out. Ben has had to hear my complaining about boss fights in Terraria for a while now, they are the bane of my existence in that game, and having recently heard my lamenting of the Mechanical Bosses, I needed to redeem myself. It is hilarious how in Terraria once you beat a boss and get an upgrade, they suddenly become a cake walk, so I summoned all three in one night and killed them with time to spare! Sadly I am going to have to upgrade my armor before I can take on Plantera, so the spider queen will have to not have quite so many spiders. Always tragic when you have to have fewer spiders fighting for you. I will be going green with Chlorophyte Armor, specifically the ranger set, though I will have to retire my Daedalus Stormbow for that fight, which makes me immensely sad, that bow is the best thing ever.
Today I am taking a look at a tea that kinda changed how I thought about tea. Well, not this very specific tea, but the same tea type. Glorious green Anji Bai Cha by Tao Leaf Tea, a green tea from Anji, China, land of beautiful bamboo forests and apparently some famous historical bridges I just learned. Anji Bai Cha is the tea that taught me to be more adventurous with my tea brewing, to think outside of the gaiwan and to just toss some leaves in a bowl and see what happens. Specifically this is the tea that introduced me to the fine art of glass steeping, aka throw some leaves in a clear glass, add water, and enjoy the eye candy. Whether you pour off part of the liquid and drink from a glass or from the steeping glass itself is up to you. The aroma of the delicate and fuzzy leaves is very vegetal, notes of edamame, lima beans, crisp and fresh bell peppers, mix with wildflower honey, pollen, and a very gentle nuttiness. The aroma is not overwhelming or very potent, it is gentle and green, like a summer morning.
For the first steeping I decided to decant some of the tea into a glass, too many leaves floating on the top, makes for harder sipping! The aroma of the leaves and tea mixed together in my elegant new glass (pretty sure my friends accidentally made off with my previous glass….glass) is vegetal and nutty. Delicious notes of edamame, bell pepper, kohlrabi (do not get that one often) cooked broccoli, and a sweet butter bean and lima bean finish.
The tea starts out richly vegetal and sweet, a smooth and gently tingly mouthfeel (hello trichomes) makes this a refreshing beginning. I love Anji Bai Cha because it always tastes so clean, and I do not mean as in other teas are pesticide covered or something like, I mean clean like a mountain stream or first snow, it is a purity in its flavor notes, having them blend while being distinctly separate. It is a tea that never tastes muddled to me. The notes that are present start with honey and chestnut and move towards bell peppers and lima beans, with a gentle spiciness at the finish.
As I top off the glass with more water, most of the now very plump leaves have floated to the bottom, so I can enjoy the tea by drinking it straight from the glass. It starts out fairly similar to the first steeping, but the longer it sits the more intense the vegetal notes become, bringing in cooked broccoli, cooked and raw bell pepper, lima and green beans, and has a finish of sesame seeds and honey. Even later on the only bitterness that is ever present is similar to Brussels sprouts, so it is very light (unless you are one of those people that hates Brussels sprouts, I am not) and I find very tasty.
Flavors: Bell Pepper, Broccoli, Chestnut, Honey, Lima Beans