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Recent Tasting Notes
This tea had a distinct flavor progression:
Soft wet autumn leaves → cherry → chocolate → coffee
I think this tea was medium ripened/fermented because it has some underlying aged sheng qualities. My friend and I got pleasantly tea drunk!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cherry, Chocolate, Coffee
3.4g in 65ml Yixing, 1 rinse.
I really liked this. Day 1 had no hint of smoke, but a minty tingle in the mouth afterwards.
Day 2 was less minty and a bit of aged smoke taste instead (I think the minty is what I get from fully aged-out smoke). Not smoky as such, and still some mouth tingle. I still liked it.
I’m on day 3 and nearly steeped out, I think.
Seemed fairly energetic, as much as these things affect me (which isn’t much).
I didn’t really pick out any particular flavours as the main thing that stuck out to me was the mouth-tingle, and I’m recovering from a cold so my tastebuds aren’t at their best.
If you told me that you liked charcoal-roasted teas, I would point you in the direction of this tea. The roast is strong but approachable, and the other flavors beyond the roast are nice, with a powerful and lingering aftertaste.
Personally, i’m not a fan of charcoal roasting. I just don’t like the flavor. I started a bit of a discussion to try to figure out the appeal of charcoal roasting, which you can see here: https://steepster.com/discuss/16026-regional-oolong-group-buy-discussion?page=2
Please add your two cents. There is quite a selection of these sorts of teas, and they seem well-regarded. I keep feeling like I’m missing something.
Anyway, approachable roast with a thick, sweet, and fruity aftertaste.
Dry leaf: pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, dark cocoa powder, peanut shell, dill, roast coffee beans. In preheated vessel: coffee beans, prune, raisin.
Smell: charcoal briquette, baking spices, char, hints of honeydew melon
Taste: charcoal, generic nuttiness (peanut shell), Italian roast coffee bean. Aftertaste of char, some dark chocolate, thick melon sweetness, citrus, lemongrass, coriander.
Regional group buy, and this one was impressive. It had a natural caramel-vanilla thing going on with the char roast in every profile. Char, earth, cedar, and some bitter sweetness were the overall notes in the pinkish amber liqour. I love how there was a little bit of a rise in the taste with each steep being warming at the same time. It also gave me some energy.
This tea was one of the better roasted oolongs that I had and would recommend it for those looking for this kinda roast. I am not sure that I would have more than the sample size personally, but I do think that it is an excellent roast tea that is worth trying.
For some time now I have been rather busy and using a lot of my time revisiting teas I’ve had before, and not so long ago that I would consider them to have changed sufficiently to warrant a new note. Today, however, I decided to try my first puerh from this vendor, a prospect I met with some excitement and a tiny frisson of dread.
Regular readers of my tasting notes (both of you) may recall that I have, on occasion, had some unkind verbiage to describe the ichorous nature of wetter stores cakes I have tried. However, Jay has described many of his traditionally stored cakes as being on the milder side of the sort. Is this just because Hong Kong has inured him to the inherent dampness he is surrounded by, or would I, a Midwesterner who is mostly familiar with Kunming storage and points even drier on the spectrum, agree? Only one way to find out!
I sessioned this in a gaiwan, as I was unwilling to risk introducing funk into my clay pot reserved for aged tea. This could shed a harsher light on the tea, but it was a sacrifice I need to make, as truly nice teapots aren’t all that easy to come by around here.
I went with the double rinse protocol as suggested on the site. The rinse liquor came out a deep amber, then on the second go almost ruby. The clarity was definitely impressive for its age and storage, but there was definitely a noticeable whiff of storage about the gaiwan lid and rinse vessel. Still, the brew looked so inviting I was hardly deterred from promptly proceeding to a first brew.
There was, in the initial stages, an ever-so-gentle reminder of the origin of this tea. The flavor held just a soupcon of humidity, but was immediately overwhelmed by the smooth, pleasantly viscous sensations provided, and a lasting, enjoyable finish. There was more “tea” left to it than some unfortunate examples I’ve had previously, but barring excessively hard brewing, the bitterness was all but gone.
I don’t know how many brews I made of this tea, although doing math with gaiwan size and water consumed would imply it was solidly in the teens. It was incredibly easy to drink, while not being boring at all. There was not a lot of variability throughout the session, other than a very gradual tapering of some characteristics as the steep numbers piled up.
In short, I find this tea to be exactly as advertised, and a wonderful example of a selection which has been curated by someone who seems to really understand both the Western facing audience and the holes in the market which could be filled. I consider this to be good value for the money based on my admittedly limited knowledge of the market, and I am tremendously excited to see what else is on offer.
That being said, however, this isn’t precisely the tea that is just for me. I suspect the 8653, touted as “light traditional storage”, might be more prone to grab that title as while I will have no problem happily quaffing the remainder of this tea and enjoying it thoroughly, I suspect I want just a hair more initial character to remain. This is really nitpicking, though, as the texture and flavor of this tea opened my eyes to new possibilities for aged sheng.
The only thing this session has left me regretful about is that I didn’t buy more of his oolongs to try as well!
I received this tea from the 2017 regional oolong group buy hosted by Liquid Proust
The dry leaf is a very tightly rolled dark brown to black balls that have a strong roasted smell with the expected biting oolong scent following close behind. I brewed up 5g in my 200ml kyusu with 190F water and 30 second infusions.
The liquor is a clear dark orange/light brown reminiscent of a black tea. It smells sweet and roasty, more like a light roast coffee than any tea I have ever smelled. I want to accentuate that the sweet smell is overpowering like I have my head over a pot of burning sugar, but with the promise of some nice umami flavor behind the sweetness. The mouthfeel is like a thin vegetable broth with no lingering sweetness, but rather, a lingering char. The taste is heavy upfront charcoal, with sweetness but less than I was expecting, like vegetables that I meant to char on a grill but burnt instead. You can feel the granules of char on your teeth like a charcoal toothpaste I used in the past. Not what I was expecting but not bad with a high fired tea and no rinse. Sitting with the tea for a while I get some caramel out of the sweetness.
The second infusion is a notably darker color an amber/medium brown. The aroma looses a bit of sweetness trading off for more umami savory notes. The char is still upfront but loses some of it’s overpowering nature while the sweetness is more pronounced. I’m tasting fresh honey roasted peanuts and the traditional oolong flavor is shining through. The aftertaste has a smooth roast that I get from good coffee.
The roasted smell dies down a bit more on the third infusion, as do the umami notes, with the sweetness still there in force. The taste is much lighter/smoother and I get the caramel notes others have described more than the previous burnt sugar. This is my favorite infusion so far… maybe ill rinse it next time and see if I get these notes out of infusion #2
The fourth infusion looses more char and gains more sweetness, it’s now close to indistinguishable from coffee now. Turned the temperature to 200F for the fifth infusion, and it was like a slightly more flavorful #4. The sixth infusion on are all very similar as well, with the tea dying off around steep number 9.
This is a tea for coffee drinkers… seriously I think I can convert a coffee fanatic with this. For me it was an interesting complex experience with a tea that is a bit all over the place in it’s smell and flavors. I would definitively give it a good rinse and time to fully unfurl before my next session with this tea.
SECOND TEA TASTING (follow up a few weeks later)
I followed TeaLifeHK’s advice this time with a boiling rinse, and 200+F water using 30 second steeps in my 200ml ceramic kyusu with 5.5g of tea.
The wet leaf smells like sweet roast, I wish I didn’t already bias myself, but again I get fresh roasted coffee beans with a nice oolong backbone coming through.
The liquor color is a STRONG reddish-brown with a pleasant roasted sweetness reminiscent of honey roasted peanuts. The taste is very nutty again being similar to peanut brittle with a nice burnt sugar aftertaste. This session is more pleasant with the rinse allowing the leaves to open up before my first steep letting the caramel notes come through.
The tea continues to produce good flavor for about six steeps slowly loosing it’s sweetness. I think this tea is unique among roasted oolong’s for its sweet profile, where in most roasted oolongs I would be looking for grilled vegetables or a savory soup.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Char, Coffee, Peanut, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Vegetable Broth
I got this tea as part of the Liquid Prost Regional oolong group buy.
At first the flavour was really light, I started with the water at 185 but bumped it up to 190 after two steeps. The smell of the wet leaf made me think of walking along a dirt path in a dense forest. Earthy, slight campfire smell. The taste for the first 4 steeps was pretty much like it smelled, but at the end of the 5th steep I noticed a faint floral sweetness begin to develop
Flavors: Ash, Burnt, Campfire, Char, Earth, Floral, Forest Floor
Delicious – I would happily drink this all day. Roasty and very smooth, feels buttery in the mouth. I see what the description means by a little sourness – this comes in at the end and is not at all unpleasant.
Drank from a gaiwan, starting with very short steeps (5-10s) as it was picking up colour and smell instantly for the first couple, then lengthening.
Felt I’d finally given the puerh from my Tealife HK order some time to air out and acclimate, so it was time to start tasting.
Did 7g of this one, quick wash and flash steep. The liquor started out fairly amber in color, with a bit of a mushroomy taste, but light and clean overall. The texture was smooth and a bit airy.
Busy times at work interrupted my session, so I returned to this tea two days later and was met with a redder liquor, similar aroma with more of a piney flavor. It also had a bit of a grapefruit-like bitterness and some enjoyable sweetness.
Very enjoyable, and a very valuable tasting experience for me!
Flavors: Grapefruit, Mushrooms, Pine, Sweet
While sick on Saturday I remembered that I still had some of this sample left. I threw the rest of it (a 10 gram chunk of roasted orange, oolong and herbs caked together) into my kyusu and steeped this all weekend, including Monday when I stayed home sick. The chunk wasn’t even falling apart and still had flavor after all that so I brought it to work Tuesday. I’ve been grandpa-ing it for the past two days. That is 5 days of steeping so far.
No joke, this tea is a beast when it comes to longevity, it’s soothing, and it’s got a distinct taste without being overwhelmingly medicinal. I am seriously considering buying a full orange since it’s pretty well priced and can be resteeped so many times.
Flavors: Medicinal, Roasted
I knew that I wanted to give this one a go at home, so I waited until the weekend to try it with rhinkle. As recommended, I steeped this in a larger pot that I have—a porcelain kyusu—and more or less went at it western style.
It doesn’t take long to tell that it’ll be an interesting experience. This tea smells like maple syrup with a hint of citrus. The first steep tastes a bit like an aged oolong with a medicinal twist. Quite interesting considering this is really not old at all. The texture starts out a bit syrupy, as well, with a slight sweetness at the end that I assume is probably licorice.
I only get to steep this out once before I have to head out, but I steep it again in the evening and then brought the leaves in to work today, where I’ve steeped it a few more times. The leaves still seem to be nowhere close to fully opening up, and I’m still getting a very nice aroma off of the liquor.
I’m not sure of the exact blend of herbs in this, but they remain pretty consistently apparent across steeps. I decide to take a whiff of the leaves and they smell super roasty! Almost like char. Funny enough, this doesn’t carry over into the flavor at all.
I like this one, and could definitely see it being a nice go to for when feeling under the weather, or even when I just want to drink something in a larger quantity to warm up. No one flavor in this is too overwhelming for me and it’s just soothing and comforting to drink. I think it’s at least worth a try for anyone interested!
Flavors: Citrus, Licorice, Maple Syrup, Medicinal
Second of the samples that I got that I’m getting around to trying.
The dry leaves smell quite chocolatey, and I proceed with this session without doing a wash since the leaves aren’t tightly rolled or anything. The darkness of the liquor from the very first steep is shocking. I’ve never had an oolong that steeps out so dark!
The texture is extremely smooth, and the flavor is a blend of dark chocolate and roast, though it lacks any harshness whatsoever. One steep has a very sweet finish, the next a slight sourness, the next simply clean and smooth.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed this one, and I’m pretty sure I can get some more out of it, so I’ll come back to it tomorrow.
Flavors: Chocolate, Roasted, Sour, Sweet
This is my first time trying something from TeaLife HK, and I’ve really been looking forward to it. Since I ordered a bunch of samples I’m doing smaller sessions with these, so I put about 5 grams in the gaiwan. There’s not a very strong aroma off the dry leaves, but I do get a faint whiff of roast and minerals.
The aroma of the roast really emerges with a quick wash to wake the leaves up, and the liquor is a lightish brown in steep one.
The flavor starts out as sweet roasted nuts, light in flavor—clearly the tea is still waking up—and there is a hint of butter in the aftertaste.
The brown darkens in steep two, with notes of chocolate emerging. rhinkle is getting mint, which I also get a hint of at the bottom of the cup, but not with any cooling sensation, just the actual raw flavor of chocolate mint leaves.
These flavors strengthen and sweeten in steep three and last pretty much throughout the rest of the session. Definitely enjoyed this!
Flavors: Chocolate, Mint, Roasted, Sweet
Tea swap sampleUnfortunately, I cannot tell you exactly every profile in the flavor due to my inability to properly taste/smell. I did notice a deep mineral flavor, with a hint of charcoal. My wife said it smelled like “burnt popcorn over charcoal” so these flavors/smells are obviously playing on the senses (which I can hardly obtain them through the taste). I didn’t brew this as long as other samples, but I totaled to 8 steeps (5s, 10s, 25s, 30s, 60s, 90s, 90s, 120s). The tea seemed to start heavy and end heavy; the middle of the session was mild/light.
I may have liked it less (or more?) if my sinuses weren’t out of control, but it helped relieve some issues considering taste. So, with that said, I can only rate it upon my session today.
This is an outstanding tea. The vendor, Tealife Hong Kong, is one of our own in the Steepster community, who is making some unique Hong Kong teas available to us. I purchased 4 oolongs. Today I sampled the first, the Hong Kong-Roasted High Fire Three Stamp Shuixian. I am a big fan of roasty oolongs, so I was excited to try this. On the website, the picture of the brewed tea looked like shu, and it was described as having an uber roast. All of this made me very interested…
The website description of this tea is spot on. The first steep was like thick chocolate soup, with a touch of astringency that was perfectly balanced. It tasted of raisins and cinnamon. Velvety smooth. The roast is all about bringing out new and interesting flavors rather than creating a roasty flavor. You can tell this tea was roasted by a craftsman, it is a deep dark brew. Very complex flavor profile, it already tastes almost like an aged oolong in some respects. This is going to be an excellent tea to store for aging. The tea energy was popping – I am so wired right now after only two steeps that I had to put it down and wait until I calm down a bit. I’m posting this in the meantime so I don’t know how this will steep out, but the description says I should get maybe 4 good steeps. This is a big tea…
Liquid Proust, I bet you will enjoy this one…
I will be purchasing more to age. I’m in love…