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Recent Tasting Notes
This was an interesting one from the tea box. I grabbed a few of the huge leaves and cold brewed them overnight, then drank it grandpa style. The flavor is light and sour, but in a pleasant way. I didn’t sweeten it (rare for me), and it was the perfect thing for my workout. Probably too light a flavor for me to seek out again, but it was pleasant. I’ve already passed the tea box along, but I kind of wish I’d grabbed a few more of the leaves, just for another cup or two.
Hualien County, Taiwan
Mi Xiang/honey aroma black tea
4g, 130mL gaiwan Poland spring bottled water (quarantine water edition provided by school hah)
After reading Jay’s descriptor on his own site, it’s worth noting that my pack was a gift and also opened and says packed 12-19-2020 so I’m not alone in not smelling much dry leaf aroma. I got a small note of dried plum but that’s about it. My review will be nowhere as flowery as Jay’s, but overall this was a fun experience! Kudos to Jay for the brewing parameters which I plan to continue to adopt for Taiwanese oolongs down the line. Brews are generally a golden brown, characteristic of 红茶.
Probably caught sugarcane, but confused it with the honey notes. Didn’t really catch the agarwood, cinnamon, umami, and savory meat that Jay notes but I’ve been away from black teas for a long while so if it wasn’t patently obvious I probably missed it. I don’t like 红茶 too much in general since to me most taste fairly similar.
45s first brew:
-leaves smell of smoke and honey which is interesting to say the least
-brew is pretty thick, which is apparently the minerality (i have never licked wet rocks and can only go off what the fine folks on teachat have described it as)?
-tastes lightly sweet and pleasant, a little bit of smokiness
30s second brew:
Leaves have basically the same smell, sweet potato note I associate w a lot of black teas is present
Light bitterness, slightly sour (acidic?) and floral notes present in taste. Pleasant aftertaste that is a bit drying but also refreshing
Still pretty thick brew
45s third brew:
Tastes more smoky again
1 min 15s 4th brew:
Gonna stop w the leaves because they’re the same and probably will continue that way
This brew has a more obvious sweet aftertaste than the previous ones
1 min 45s 5th brew: not much to note
2 min 15s 6th brew: nothing else, tastes like crisp water at this point, will stop here lol
After stopping gongfu, I tossed the leaves into a thermos with boiling water. I later drank it a few hours later and it tastes exactly like honey water, but watered down. If I hadn’t been the person brewing the tea, so a blind taste test, I would not know that it was tea. I let a dormmate do a blind taste test, and she also thought it was honey water (yay for Asian home remedies!). Still retains a slight thickness like earlier brews, with a slight drying aftertaste. This was my first mi Xiang tea I’ve ever tried, so I’m not sure if every Taiwanese Mi Xiang is like this or if this is top notch or whatever. At any rate, though I do not intend to purchase more since I’m not big on black teas, this was a fun experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Honey, Smoke, Sour, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
This is by no means a cheap tea, at 60c/g I believe it’s my most expensive yancha at this time, however it’s so good that I believe the price is justified. The first infusions brew up a dark red, with dark chocolate, woody, and liquorice notes. I find that one of the most interesting things about this tea is the mouthfeel, it’s kind of oily in the best way possible. Later infusions are dominated by a smooth, creamy aroma.
Flavors: Creamy, Dark Chocolate, Licorice, Roast Nuts, Wood
This tea has a lot in common with Yang Qing Hao’s 2006 Shenpin Chawang, but at one sixth the price. It has a full, dark body and explosve fruitiness. The dry leaves had almost no smell to them, but as soon as the water hit them, a perfumy fruity aroma hit my nose.
Flavors: Camphor, Overripe Cherries, Stewed Fruits, Vanilla, Wood
This is the only tea that has given me a strong calming effect in every session, on top of this it has fresh notes of strawberry and grass. Steeping it hotter than recommended gave me notes of beetroot.
Flavors: Grass, Nuts, Rice Pudding, Strawberry
This isn’t a bad tea, but not an exciting one either. The body reminds me a lot of premium tianxia from the same vendor, but this lacks the citrusy edge that I really enjoy from the tianxia. As they’re the same price per gram, personally I would much rather have tianxia. In fact, if you buy a whole cake, tianxia is actually cheaper per gram because it’s 400 grams.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Mushrooms, Sweet, Yeast
This is a really good aged sheng at a reasonable price point. I finished up 100g before ordering a whole cake, note that the cake is 400g as opposed to the more traditional 357g. Brewing in a large nixing pot from the same vendor really brings out the citrusy notes, and I get a lot of finished tea from 8g.
Flavors: Blood Orange, Citrus, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
Backlog. From the oolong group buy – that has a lot more roasted oolongs than I thought.
200F, 2min, 12 oz
dark malt, stout, high roast, nutty sour
The roast on this has chilled, but it’s still too roasted for me. The level of roast is very high. I don’t find this level enjoyable.
Flavors: Malt, Roast Nuts, Roasted, Sour
No material from 1600-year-old trees in Banzhang went into this, I’m pretty sure, but that’s not the claim. It says it’s good for brewing in a mug infuser for daily drinking, and damned straight that’s what it is. I like to make it at about 5g/300ml, and steep 3 times for 3, 4, and 5 minutes. By the end of the 2nd steep I know I’ve been drinking raw puer.
I don’t like it so much for small-pot brewing, though if you leaf it heavy and push it hard that could work. Don’t think you’d get more than 10 steeps at most though. It’s not the strongest tea out there.
Tried it a few different ways. Never get much taste out of it. Its alright, not bad. I get a burnt sugar taste from it with a bit of woody aftertaste. It goes a lot of steeps I’ll give it that. Can’t recommend it, cause there is a lot of better options for orange herbal teas.
Flavors: Burnt, Burnt Sugar, Wood
Another decent offering from TealifeHK! The traditional charcoal roast makes all the difference to similar offerings. Quite different profile compared to high roast TGY from Taiwan.
I would advise to use not too little leaf, otherwise it can not show its true potential.
As usual the sellers description are spot on.
I have ordered this tea twice already as it is a pretty decent daily drink. The description of the seller matches pretty exactly what I tasted as well.
It can be a bit rough, so a slightly muting teapot will benefit this tea and make it more balanced.
Needs to be steeped quickly.
For the record I have never tried the lychee berry but to me it smelled exactly like hops when I opened the bag.
1st Steep: Very fruity, not surprising. But it tastes a ton like hops to me. That must be what the berry tastes like I guess? Extremely strong and almost sour like.
2nd-3rd Steep: The brew darkens some in both taste and look. Becomes smooth and loses the strong sour taste. The fruitiness gets toned down a touch but is still there. Making it much easier to swallow. I get a bit of a… roasted type flavor, maybe on the nutty side that sets it off. Very nice.
4th and Beyond: Seemed to lose its flavor fast but kept a nice smooth taste. I went about 8 deep.
Overall I do recommend it as its a very unique and interesting tea. Personally not my favorite combo of flavors but am very happy I bought it. I feel like this would be love it or hate it for most people.
Flavors: Fruity, Hops, Lychee, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Sour
- Update 3/19/18: After having this a few more times I am boosting this from an 84 to a 90. This is surprisingly becoming a favorite of mine. -
These come in individual bags of 8g which I like. The leaves when opened look and smell very fresh. I am not super into green teas usually but this one is just so fresh I enjoyed it. So maybe I am just picky rather then outright not liking them.
1st-2nd Steep: It starts with a very light sweet and smooth taste with a fairly bright yellow/gold liquid. The wet leaves smell beautiful.
3rd-6th Steep: The sweet taste became stronger and a bit of a dry feeling appeared. I get a sort of fruity and flowery aftertaste that’s pleasant.
7th and Beyond: A slight astringency started to appear. I went 10 deep before stopping and the sweet taste was still around.
Extremely fresh stuff. I highly recommend it.
Flavors: Drying, Fruit Tree Flowers, Smooth, Sweet
The leaves smell like roasted charcoal.
1st Steep: The color is very light only the slighest hint of yellow. The taste has a slight sweetness.
2nd Steep: The taste of charcoal begins the appear.
3rd, 4th Steep: The taste of char gets empowered and keeps an underlying floral taste to offset it and keep it smooth.
5th & Beyond: The taste slowly gets weaker. I got to about 10 steeps.
Overall its decent and I recommend it. Not super unique but good quality.
Flavors: Char, Floral, Roasted, Sweet
1st, 2nd Steep: Starts with a little burnt wood scent. Has a light yellow color. I get the light taste of char and goes down very smooth leaving behind a pleasant sweet floral taste.
3rd, 4th, 5th Steep: It darkens up to a beautiful red color. The charcoal flavor grows stronger.
6th and beyond: The floral taste returns and it grows weaker through the steeps. I went 10 deep.
Flavors: Burnt, Caramel, Char, Floral, Smooth
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.