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Recent Tasting Notes
When it comes to Taiwanese oolongs, I sometimes get the impression that unflavored Jin Xuan oolongs may get a little overlooked. I just don’t see them as frequently as I see their flavored counterparts. Of the four Jin Xuan oolongs I have tried from Tealyra in the last year, this is the only one that was unflavored. I found it to be a light, approachable oolong that would work well as an introduction to unflavored Jin Xuan.
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 12 subsequent 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 produced mild aromas of spinach, grass, seaweed, and cream. After the rinse, I found new aromas of butter, vanilla, and sugarcane backed by a hint of orchid. The first infusion introduced a hint of citrus on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor offered mild notes of seaweed, cream, butter, spinach, and grass underscored by ghostly impressions of vanilla and orchid. Subsequent infusions brought out stronger vanilla and orchid notes as well as impressions of Asian pear, lettuce, daylily blossoms, orange zest, daylily shoots, and minerals. The sugarcane also showed up in the mouth around this time. The later infusions were heavy on mineral and cream notes, though traces of daylily, lettuce, seaweed, spinach, and butter were still detectable.
Overall, this tea was not bad. It was more vegetal than expected, but honestly, there was not much of anything that struck me as being off or out-of-place. I would not call this the best unflavored Jin Xuan in the world, but one could do far worse than reaching for this when one is in the mood for such a tea. I wouldn’t make it a regular or anything like that, but I wouldn’t caution others to avoid it either. Try this tea if you are looking for an accessible and affordable unflavored Jin Xuan.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Grass, Lettuce, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal
Thank you for sharing Evol Ving Ness but it seems I was not destined to enjoy this tea. I iced it twice and the first time it got left in the fridge and forgotten until someone dumped it and the second time I chugged it while drowning in work and deadlines. I remember hibiscus and not much else. Sorry this sample was wasted on me.
I’m still plowing through some of the oolongs I acquired earlier in the year and toward the end of last year. This was one of them and I have to say that to this point in my life, this was the absolute worst oolong of this type I have tried. Normally, Four Season oolongs are very floral, sweet, smooth, and pleasant, but this one was thin and watery with an uneven mix of flavors and little staying power.
I gongfued this tea. After a flash 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 that I had to more or less force myself to get through. 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 produced subtle aromas of sugarcane, violet, and orchid. After the rinse, new aromas of cream, butter, vanilla, and grass were revealed. The first proper infusion more fully brought out the floral character on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor offered hints of grass and spinach on the entry before giving way to subtler hints of cream, butter, vanilla, sugarcane, and orchid. Subsequent infusions brought out vanilla and spinach on the nose and violet in the mouth. I also discovered notes of green apple, Asian pear, lettuce, lily, lilac, seaweed, and minerals. There was a slight graininess to these middle infusions as well. It seemed more than a bit out of place in a tea like this. I noted that the floral aromas had a tendency of turning pungent before suddenly fading, leaving me with a thin, uneven, and unpleasant mix of savory, fruity, and vegetal characteristics coupled with something of a gritty graininess. The later infusions were buttery, though mineral, grass, seaweed, and lettuce notes remained in play. I could detect no lingering fruity or floral sweetness.
I may be being a bit harsh here, but I found this tea to be nothing short of a disaster. I kind of think this was a bad tea to begin with, but I also think it had started to fade by the time I got to it. I even noticed that the leaves looked a bit weird when I first opened the pouch, as the dry leaves were an unusually bright, dusty green. In terms of aroma and flavor, there was surprising complexity, but none of it ever came together and there was little depth. A horribly uneven drinking experience and also a flat-out bad one, I would recommend that curious drinkers pass on this tea. There are plenty of better Four Season oolongs on the market. In my opinion, What-Cha, Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company, Taiwan Tea Crafts, and Floating Leaves Tea all offer much better examples of this type of tea.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Grain, Grass, Green Apple, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet
I have to start cleaning out the backlog again. Fortunately, it’s not nearly as bad as it was in September and the first part of the month. I was starting to make good progress on it, but being out of state and also not having consistent internet access for a couple days put me a little behind schedule. Anyway, I purchased this tea shortly before Tealyra discontinued it. I know virtually nothing about it. I don’t know what the leaf grade was supposed to be and I have no clue what the date of harvest was. I went into this one not knowing what to expect. I found it to be oddly mild for an Assam. I could not determine whether it was due to the tea being a bit stale or it just being naturally mild.
I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped one teaspoon of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 205 F water for 5 minutes. No additional infusions were attempted.
Prior to infusion, the dry leaves emitted mild aromas of prunes, figs, red apples, and spices. After infusion, I picked up on stronger red apple and prune scents as well as emerging aromas of malt and wood. On the palate, I noted somewhat muted flavors of cream, malt, oatmeal, wood, toast, caramel, anise, nutmeg, prune, fig, clove, red apple, and molasses. The finish was short, smooth, creamy, and malty. There were some lingering red apple and spice flavors once the cream and malt notes began to recede.
I’m not certain this tea was all that stale. I figure that it was a bit on the old side, but it seemed to have a little too much life left in it to be all that stale. Maybe this was a very mild Assam. I’m still not entirely sure. I enjoyed the aromas and flavors the tea offered, but they just came across as being weak and somewhat flat. Overall, I suppose this was not really a bad tea, just a somewhat boring, overly timid one that was not representative of most Assam black teas.
Flavors: Anise, Caramel, Clove, Cream, Dried Fruit, Fig, Malt, Molasses, Nutmeg, Oats, Red Apple, Toast, Wood
Picked this up from a Steepster stash sale and it turned out to be a good one. Being a flavored milk oolong, the milkiness is definitely assertive but not cloying or fake. The tea has a pleasant aroma of cream and dairy. Taste matches the aroma exactly. A soothing, creamy milk flavor that lasts through many steeps. Eventually the milkiness fades into the background and the tea becomes fruity and sweet.
The milk flavor is natural and doesn’t clash with tea’s own flavor. Not much else left to say except this a simple yet incredibly smooth and delicious tea.
Flavors: Cream, Milk
The brewed fragrance is a strong orange oil (maybe even tangerine oil) scent. The brewed tea is a rich orange brown – a pretty color I don’t usually see. The very hot brew is kind of a one-note, but as it cools a bit, I pick up more flavors and they are better balanced. Slightly bitter but not astringent; definitely more of an orange peel than a juicy orange taste; jasmine is definitely present, and there is a nice underlying tea flavor. IIt leaves a very clean taste in my mouth, too. think I like this one, although it won’t be a repurchase. (I think it’s probably a very good tea, I just tend to like other ones better.)
Flavors: Bitter, Jasmine, Orange Zest
This sounded so good! Chai and oolong, two of my favorite flavors! And my favorite chai “flavor” is usually cardamom, which is listed 3rd in the ingredients, so I should be happy, right? Nope. This has a light chai scent, and it tastes like boiled water. There is a faint, faint cinnamon taste if I try to find it, and an almost green tea flavor (equally faint). I brewed according to directions, and used twice as much tea than it called for, but nope.
Sometimes I buy a tea just because I think there is something up with the way it is marketed. When I saw this tea on Tealyra’s website, I was immediately confused and intrigued. Huang Shan is located in China’s Anhui Province, but this oolong was marketed as being produced in Taiwan. I figured I was either missing something or that something did not quite add up, so I bought the tea and set about doing a little research. It turns out that there is an area in Taitung County, Taiwan popularly referred to as “Little Huang Shan,” or more properly as Xiao Huang Shan, just outside of Beinan Township. Further exploration revealed the presence of the Jia Fang Tea Plantation nearby. Apparently, it is pretty popular with tourists to the area and is mostly known for a lightly oxidized strip style oolong similar to the more familiar Wenshan Baozhong. If you search for images of Jia Fang products, you will most likely immediately stumble upon the same image I found-a very green loose leaf oolong packaged in a green box with a cartoonish smiling person on the side. I would be surprised if this were not the same 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 subsequent 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 offered gentle aromas of cream, custard, honeysuckle, and hyacinth. After the rinse, I found new aromas of gardenia, butter, vanilla, violet, and lilac. The first proper infusion offered slightly stronger butter and cream aromas coupled with an emerging sugarcane presence. In the mouth, I found barely perceptible notes of wood and grass which quickly gave way to cream, butter, vanilla, and floral notes. Subsequent infusions brought out the grass and wood on the nose. I also began to pick up stronger floral flavors and emerging magnolia, pear, green apple, mineral, spinach, leaf lettuce, and honeydew impressions. Notes of sugarcane also showed up on the palate. The later infusions were heavy on mineral notes, though I could also detect touches of grass, spinach, cream, and butter, sometimes with distant background notes of green apple and flowers.
This was a very light, delicate oolong with a nice mix of savory, vegetal, floral, and fruity characteristics in the mouth. It did a reasonably good job of approximating the character of a traditional Wenshan Baozhong, though it was missing a little of the depth I tend to get from really good examples of that type of tea. Fans of lighter, greener oolongs would undoubtedly be satisfied with this tea, especially considering that the cost is more than reasonable. All in all, this was a very solid, enjoyable drinking experience. I doubt I would turn to this over a respectable Wenshan Baozhong, but it was a nice tea nonetheless.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mineral, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet, Wood
Until I tried this tea, this was a type of green tea on which I had slept. Hailing from the Emei Shan region of Sichuan Province, Zhu Ye Qing is a Chinese high mountain green tea known for its sweet, nutty, vegetal, and often bamboo-like aromas and flavors. Zhu Ye Qing is also produced elsewhere in China, often in Yunnan Province. This particular Zhu Ye Qing is from Emei Shan in Sichuan Province. Having never tried this type of tea before, I was impressed by the strength of its aromas and flavors as well as its versatility.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 175 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 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 infusion, I noted that the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, wood, hay, and bamboo. Aromas of grilled corn and roasted chestnuts emerged after infusion. Mild, subtle flavors of malt, roasted chestnut, wood, grass, hay, and bamboo were present in the mouth. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas and flavors of minerals, grilled lemon, honey, smoke, and straw with hints of hazelnut, leaf lettuce, and seaweed in the background. I also noted the emergence of grilled corn notes on the palate. The later infusions mostly offered impressions of minerals, grass, lettuce, malt, and nuts.
This was a very nice green tea that made for a wonderful introduction to Zhu Ye Qing. At another point in time, I prepared this as an iced tea and it was fantastic. I would definitely recommend this tea to anyone looking for a flavorful, refreshing green tea.
Flavors: Bamboo, Chestnut, Grass, Hay, Hazelnut, Honey, Lemon, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Seaweed, Smoke, Straw, Vegetal, Wood
I tried this one for the first time last night. Delicious! But the dry leaf is so so heavy. It is one of those that likely I have to think and rethink several times when it comes to reordering because of the weight of it. The weight + the cost = insufficient cups of tea for the price. But we’ll see, we’ll see.
Flavors: Apple, Cherry, Cinnamon, Dates
Here is yet another sipdown. I have been quite busy polishing off some of the black teas I purchased last year. I think I have also come to the conclusion that I am not much of a Nilgiri person. I tend to like Nilgiri teas relatively well iced, but they do not often do all that much for me when served hot. As Nilgiris go, I found this one to be quite nice, but I also did not find it to hold my attention all that much either.
I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 205 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.
Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted malty, woody aromas with hints of fruit, sorghum molasses, and flowers. After infusion, I detected more intense fruity and floral aromas underscored by a hint of what I can only describe as leafiness. In the mouth, I picked up a nice mix of toast, sweet potato, sorghum molasses, brown sugar, malt, wood, autumn leaves, roasted nuts (chestnut and walnut or something like that), red apple, sweet orange, fruit leather, and fresh flowers. I kept trying to come up with which flowers I was reminded of, but the closest I could get was a combination of rose, violet, and tea flower. Tealyra also insisted that there was a blackberry note to this tea, and while I did get some fleeting berry-like impressions, I found them to be more reminiscent of black raspberry than blackberry. The finish was smooth, offering lingering traces of sweet potato, toast, malt, nuts, sorghum, orange, and flowers.
Overall, this was a smooth, flavorful Nilgiri. There was nothing really wrong with it, it’s just that I have finally come to realize that Nilgiri teas are not my favorites. Nilgiri teas are often used in commercial tea blends, the sorts of blends I have had easy access to my entire life. When I drink Nilgiri teas, I almost always think of generic restaurant tea blends. That might not be entirely fair, but that’s what I think of when I drink Nilgiri teas. Again, as Nilgiri teas go, this one was far from bad. The problem is these sorts of teas just don’t excite me much.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Floral, Fruity, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Orange, Raspberry, Red Apple, Roasted nuts, Rose, Sweet Potatoes, Tea, Violet, Wood
And here we have yet another blast from the past. I think this tea has been discontinued by Tealyra because I could not find any information about it anywhere on their website. I apparently bought this tea sometime last year (probably summer or early fall), stored it in one of my tea cabinets, and forgot about it. I discovered it the same day I discovered the Tarry Lapsang Souchong Superior and started working my way through both around the same time. I finished the last of this one yesterday evening. I found it to be a decent second flush Darjeeling, but was not impressed enough to really recommend that anyone go out of their way to track it down.
I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 205 F water for 5 minutes. As usual, no additional infusions were attempted.
Prior to infusion, the loose tea leaves emitted mild aromas of malt, straw, flowers, and Muscatel. I did not find the aroma to change all that much after infusion, though I did start to get some hints of golden raisin and roasted almond. In the mouth, I picked up on subtle notes of malt, roasted almond, straw, toast, wood, Muscatel, plum, golden raisin, dandelion, rose, and violet underscored by a somewhat unexpected minerality. The finish retained a slight mineral edge, mostly offering lingering notes of flowers, raisin, plum, roasted almond, and malt.
Honestly, I have never been wowed by Tealyra’s second flush Darjeelings. I have not had many, but I cannot recall a single one that excited me. They always seem to taste kind of stale. I guess I should have expected that given this tea’s age, but at the same time, it was only about a year old and was stored carefully. I have had Darjeelings of a similar age or older that were much more enjoyable. While this one was drinkable, it was not all that flavorful or unique.
Flavors: Almond, Dandelion, Floral, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Plums, Raisins, Rose, Straw, Toast, Violet, Wood
Here is yet another tea I totally forgot I had. I discovered it while reorganizing one of the tea cabinets and broke it open earlier in the week. With the onset of my most recent bout of sinusitis, I have not been able to drink any green teas or oolongs as my senses of smell and taste have been going in and out of focus. Black teas, for some reason, have still been able to reach me to a certain extent, so I have focused on sipping down some of the black teas I have had a little longer. I finished this one yesterday. I found it to be a solid, likable lapsang souchong.
I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped one full teaspoon of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 205 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.
Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of pine smoke, char, leather, and brown toast. After infusion, I noticed hints of malt, cedar, and molasses. In the mouth, I picked up strong notes of pine smoke, pine tar, char, leather, brown toast, cedar, roasted nuts, and malt balanced by touches of molasses, caramel, and light tobacco. The finish was malty, smoky, and leathery, though I could also detect touches of molasses and caramel sweetness that cut through the murk.
I knew this would be a smoky tea and it most definitely was. Honestly, I kind of expected it to be less nuanced, but the little underlying touches of sweetness made for nice additions. They made the tea more approachable while also making it seem somewhat lighter than it was. Overall, I enjoyed this one. Though it was neither the smokiest nor the most complex lapsang souchong I have ever tried, it did not disappoint. If you’re a fan of this style, you will probably enjoy this tea one some level.
Flavors: Brown Toast, Caramel, Cedar, Char, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Pine, Roasted nuts, Smoke, Tar, Tobacco
Alright, time to finally catch up on some reviews. In case anyone has wondered where I have been, I have been out of commission the last couple days due to illness. My chronic sinusitis has continued to cause me a lot of problems. From where we have had such a wet summer with up and down temperatures and because there is so much pollen and mold in the air, I have been pushed beyond the breaking point. I actually finished the last of a pouch of this tea two days ago, but had little energy to actually post a review. I found this to be a rather unique green tea, but I also have to admit that I don’t think this style is my thing.
Prior to trying this tea, I had never before tried Tai Ping Hou Kui. I had read about it, but I had never tried it. I was not actually prepared for how huge the leaves were. When people say that the leaf size is impressive, they really mean it. That also presented me with a challenge. How in the world was I going to brew it? I had resolved to gongfu it, but I was concerned that the leaves would not actually fit in my gaiwan. Lo and behold, I was right. I had a mountain of fat, flat leaves sticking so far up above the rim of the gaiwan that I could not even pretend to be able to get the lid on correctly. I did, however, find a solution when I decided to rinse the leaves. I did a flash rinse of the leaves after I got them into the gaiwan and they immediately softened and curled into a mass resembling seaweed, allowing me to successfully place the lid on the gaiwan. After the rinse, I steeped the mass of monstrous leaves for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was then followed by 7 second, 10 second, 15 second, 20 second, 25 second, 30 second, 40 second, 50 second, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 second, 1 minute 30 second, 2 minute, and 3 minute steeps.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted mild aromas reminiscent of bamboo, grass, and hay. The rinse brought out some floral and nutty qualities. The first infusion saw the emerging floral scents take on more definition. They reminded me a little of orchids and violets. I also began to get more defined scents of chestnut, as well as touches of peas and seaweed. In the mouth, the tea liquor mostly presented notes of chestnut, grass, straw, and bamboo underscored by hints of floral character. Subsequent infusions brought out the orchid and violet notes in the mouth. I also began to get flavors of peas and seaweed. At various points, aromas and flavors of minerals, malt, squash blossom, nectar, spinach, asparagus, and broccoli appeared. The later infusions were mild, offering mostly a wash of grass, hay, seaweed, asparagus, spinach, and minerals while ghostly floral impressions lingered in the background.
This was an interesting tea and I did love the huge leaves, however, I am not entirely certain this style is for me. While I loved the impressions of nuts and flowers, this was also a very grassy, vegetal tea, and it became increasingly grassy and vegetal over the course of the session. For me, the first 3-4 steeps were the best and most interesting. After that, the tea held no real surprises. In the end, this was not bad, but I have had better, more consistently appealing green teas.
Flavors: Asparagus, Bamboo, Broccoli, Chestnut, Floral, Grass, Hay, Malt, Mineral, Nectar, Orchid, Peas, Seaweed, Spinach, Squash Blossom, Violet
Alright, I’m still finishing up some of last year’s green teas. I finished the last of a pouch of this tea a couple days ago, sketched out some notes, and then forgot to review it. Overall, I found this to be a rock solid green tea.
I gongfued this one. After a very quick (on/off) rinse to wake up the leaves, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 175 F water for 5 seconds. This was followed by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were 7 seconds, 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 produced aromas of nuts, grass, and honey. The rinse brought out impressions of asparagus and bamboo shoots. I also thought I could detect a subtle underlying maltiness. The first proper infusion produced hints of cream and fruit. In the mouth, the liquor was grassy and vegetal, but also nutty and sweet. Grass, hay, chestnut, and honey balanced by extremely subtle asparagus, malt, and cream notes seemed to be what struck me. Subsequent infusions introduced ever so slightly more pronounced creaminess and maltiness alongside stronger asparagus notes. The bamboo shoot flavors emerged in the mouth as well, though they remained rather elusive, more in the background than anywhere else. I also noted additional aromas and flavors of hazelnut, pecan, minerals, green apple, cantaloupe, honeydew, oats, and spinach at various points. The later infusions were mostly about mineral, chestnut, oat, malt, grass, dew, nectar, spinach, and asparagus aromas and flavors, while subtle melon, hay, honey, and bamboo impressions lurked in the background.
This was an intriguing green tea. I rather adored the honey sweetness and the pronounced nuttiness. I also appreciated the fact that it appeared to have lost little, if anything, in storage. It challenged me as well. The sweetness somewhat disguised the tea’s other characteristics, making it rather difficult for me to pick out aromas and flavors. I got as close as I could, but kind of doubt I was entirely successful. In the end, this was a fun tea, but I do not think I would want to reach for it regularly. Still, I could see people who enjoy sweeter, nuttier green teas being into it.
Flavors: Asparagus, Bamboo, Cantaloupe, Chestnut, Cream, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Hazelnut, Honey, Honeydew, Malt, Nectar, Oats, Pecan, Spinach
This is really good. Such a sweet smell, like lemony spun sugar. The flavor is also sweet but not as much as the smell. Which, in this case, is probably a good thing. The candied lemon flavor does come through though and it is delightful. Being caffeine free, my kids are also digging this.
That smell though… I would love a candle that smells like this.
Flavors: Cream, Lemon, Sugar
I was impressed by Tealyra’s Wenshan Baozhong Reserve, so I just had to snag some of this too. I was also a little curious because I was totally unfamiliar with baked baozhong. Based on my experience with this one, I will definitely be trying more.
I prepared this tea three different ways. First was a cold brew using approximately 16 grams of loose leaf material in around 38-39 ounces of water in the refrigerator overnight (the steep time was about 12-13 hours). The second preparation was a gongfu session in which I started off by steeping 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds (after a quick rinse, of course) and then followed that up with infusions of 7 seconds, 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. The final preparation was a three step infusion in which I started off by steeping about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 195 F water for 2 minutes, then 3 minutes, and finally 5 minutes.
First up was the cold brew. The nose emphasized char, roasted nut, baked bread, and butter aromas. I picked up on flavors of cream, butter, char, roasted almonds, grass, baked bread, and flowers (mostly orchid and lilac) in the mouth, with hints of spinach emerging on the finish. For the gongfu session, I got aromas of butter, grass, char, baked bread, and flowers before the rinse. The rinse brought out cream and vanilla, as well as touches of roasted almond, spinach, and deeper, more detailed floral scents, while the first infusion began to bring out some fruitiness. In the mouth, the tea was initially all about cream, baked bread, butter, char, grass, roasted almond, and spinach with floral and vanilla notes providing some depth and balance. Subsequent infusions began to bring out caramel, baked apple, peach, apricot, minerals, and spiced pear while the vanilla, orchid, and lilac notes more fully emerged. Around this time, I also began to get touches of hyacinth, lily, osmanthus, and some stemmy, almost woody qualities. The later infusions were more vegetal and offered a more pronounced minerality, though savory qualities and touches of roasted almonds, orchard fruits, and flowers remained, at least in places. The three step Western session very much followed the gongfu session, though the liquor struck me as a bit more floral and vegetal and slightly less nutty and fruity overall.
I’m not certain how well this tea would compare to most higher end baked baozhongs, but I can say that, for me, it made a wonderful introduction to this style of tea. Though on some level I kind of doubt this qualified as a truly high quality baked baozhong, it still smelled and tasted great. More importantly, it remained approachable and proved itself rather flexible. In this situation, there was not much more I could have demanded or expected. For the price, this was a smashing success.
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Char, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Orchid, Osmanthus, Peach, Pear, Spinach, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood
Here is another tea I have been working my way through over the past couple of days. I expect to finish the remainder of it this afternoon. I think I ended up purchasing this tea because I was going through a phase where I was obsessed with trying oolongs from each high mountain terroir of Taiwan. I don’t recall ever trying a proper Mei Shan tea prior to this one, and if this one was anything to go by, I am not certain that the Mei Shan terroir does it for me.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were a 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 subtle aromas of butter, cream, and bread underscored by a vague floral quality. After the rinse, I began to pick up on hints of vanilla, custard, and sweetgrass. The first infusion brought out pronounced lilac and orchid scents as well as touches of orchard fruit. In the mouth, I picked up on mild notes of cream, butter, custard, vanilla, bread, sweetgrass, lilac, and orchid undercut by a touch of green apple. Subsequent infusions better brought out the green apple, although I also began to pick up crisp hyacinth, mineral, pear, sugarcane, spinach, nectar, cucumber, honeydew, and daffodil tones. The later infusions were very quick to wash out, as I had to focus to pick up lingering traces of minerals, sweetgrass, green apple, spinach, pear, cream, and butter balanced by ghostly floral impressions.
As high mountain oolongs go, this one was very crisp and light in the mouth. The aromas and flavors did not separate all that much until close to the end of the session, and even then, they were not as distinctive as other high mountain oolongs I have tried. Overall, this was an extremely light, sweet, and vegetal tea. It was not really my thing, but it wasn’t bad. I could see it being a decent introduction to high mountain oolongs.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Mineral, Narcissus, Nectar, Orchid, Pear, Spinach, Vanilla
I have so been dragging my feet on this review. I haven’t really had a good reason either. I just haven’t much felt like writing lately. I conducted a gongfu session with this tea a couple days ago. I found it to be a nice, light milk oolong.
As mentioned above, I gongfued this one. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 subsequent 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 heavy scents of butter and cream underscored by a subtle vegetal character. After the rinse, I began to detect something of a grassy scent accompanied by scents of vanilla, custard, and fresh flowers. The first infusion brought out a subtle fruitiness. In the mouth, I mostly detected notes of butter, cream, custard, and grass balanced by indistinct hints of flowers and fruit. Subsequent infusions brought out the vanilla, while distinct impressions of pear, pineapple, green apple, tangerine, daylily, honeydew, coconut, and honeysuckle made themselves known. I thought I caught a hint of passion fruit at one point as well. I also began to pick up daylily shoots, minerals, and cucumber. The later impressions were smooth, offering lingering impressions of cream, butter, vanilla, grass, and cucumber balanced by gentle minerality and fleeting impressions of tangerine, pineapple, daylily shoots, and pear.
Normally I dislike flavored oolongs, but I found this one appealing. It had a pronounced fruitiness that balanced the fairly over-the-top creaminess and butteriness. It was a good thing, too, considering that I did not find this tea to be as floral as many teas of this type, and it is the floral qualities that often provide a semblance of balance in them. Though it’s still not something I would go out of my way to have regularly, this was a rock solid flavored oolong. I could see both fans of Jin Xuan and newcomers to milk oolongs liking this one.
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Coconut, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Passion Fruits, Pear, Pineapple, Vanilla
I finally managed to finish the last of a 50 gram pouch of this tea a couple days ago and have been putting off writing a review ever since. I don’t know what has come over me, but the past couple of days has seen my motivation and focus slip in all areas of my life. I think a lot of that may have to do with me growing increasingly frustrated and restless in my current career and feeling jittery about the upcoming career change I have planned, but who knows? All I know is that I need to get myself back on track. I’m going to carve out some personal time this weekend and hopefully go into the workweek with my head back on my shoulders. With all of that out of the way, this was the tea I drank during the bulk of my current bout of listlessness. It kind of fit my overall mood and state of mind, but all in all, it was just a predictable, filling gunpowder green tea.
I prepared this tea Western style. I started off by steeping 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 175 F water for 2 minutes. Afterwards, I conducted a 3 minute infusion and stopped there. I think the next time I decide to drink a gunpowder green tea, I may gongfu it. I have yet to try that on this type of tea.
Prior to infusion, the dry tea pellets did not emit much of an aroma. I got a little bit of lemon and roasted vegetables, but that was about it. After infusion, I detected more pronounced scents of grilled lemon, grass, hay, asparagus, seaweed, garden peas, roasted Brussels sprouts, and pine. In the mouth, I picked up mostly roasted Brussels sprouts, pine, asparagus (I seem to be picking this aroma and flavor up a lot in the green teas I have been drinking over the past couple of months), seaweed, peas, hay, damp grass, and grilled lemon. I could also pick out a few other vegetal notes, perhaps something along the lines of bok choy and/or napa cabbage. There was a hint of smoke too. The second infusion was a little more robust both on the nose and in the mouth. The smokiness strengthened and I began to definitely pick out something along the lines of napa cabbage and bok choy. There were also subtle notes of cauliflower and broccoli, as well as a touch of minerals. Otherwise, all of the other aromas and flavors from the initial infusion were there in varying amounts.
This really was not a terrible tea, but I found that much like everything else in my life, it could not sustain my interest for any length of time. I do like gunpowder teas, but I often tend to find them boring, so I suppose that should not have been surprising. I feel like I got a lot out of it, but lately I have been tending to push my nose and palate more with regard to green teas than just about any other type of tea. Overall, I cannot say that this was bad, but I also cannot claim that it impressed me. It failed to offer any surprises or challenge me in any way. How much one likes this tea will probably depend on how one feels about gunpowder green teas in general.
Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Mineral, Peas, Pine, Seaweed, Vegetal
Either the bag wasn’t that fresh or Tealyra embellishes heavily in its descriptions, since it tasted neither floral nor particularly berrylike. “Creamy and vanila-like?” Not at all. It was weak, with a tart, almost citrusy taste. I wonder if all that orange peel had any part in that. The almonds are just a decoration, and even after cracking the cardamom pods I couldn’t taste any.
I’d wanted to try this and bought some when it was discontinued. Unlike the much better Oatmeal Cookie, I won’t regret not being able to get any more.