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Recent Tasting Notes
Here is another review from the backlog. I was waiting to get through a couple more sipdowns before posting anything else here on Steepster, but I may as well just go ahead and get some more reviews out of the way. I kind of forgot about this one. I finished a 25g pouch of this tea a couple weeks ago, but at the time, I was focusing on getting some green tea reviews out of the way and decided to hold off on posting a review of it until I finished them all. I then ended up moving on to other teas, posted reviews of them here, and completely ignored this one. This all reminds me that I really need to get into the habit of reviewing teas in the order I finish them.
This particular tea was a pleasant surprise, especially considering that I was not expecting much from it. I used to buy from Tealyra regularly, but after finding the customer service to be a little lacking and the freshness and quality of the teas occasionally suspect, I started buying less from them and more from other vendors. With that and the fact that Chou Shi is far from one of my favorite styles of Dancong oolong in mind, I figured this tea would provide a pretty forgettable experience at best. Boy, was I wrong! Not only did the leaf quality appear to be very high, but this was an extremely pleasant, aromatic, and flavorful tea to boot.
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 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, I detected pronounced aromas of sweet cream, vanilla, orchid, sweet pea, honeysuckle, and gardenia coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I found an emerging scent of custard. The first proper infusion then introduced a violet scent to the tea’s bouquet. In the mouth, I found expected notes of sweet cream, vanilla, gardenia, and sweet pea as well as a note of butter. The subsequent infusions introduced butter to the nose while notes of custard, orchid, violet, and honeysuckle quickly appeared on the palate. New impressions of minerals, grass, green apple, pear, orange, and sugarcane also started to make themselves known. The last infusions displayed soft and rather muted impressions of cream, butter, vanilla, grass, and minerals balanced by fleeting gardenia, sweet pea, green apple, and violet notes.
Chou Shi Dancongs can often be temperamental little beasts. Water temperature and quality, age of the tea, and even the brewing vessel used can wreak havoc on them, perhaps even more so than many other types of oolong. Sometimes they can be wonderful despite anything and everything working against them, while other times a tea seemingly in its prime with everything going for it can come off like little more than hot, sweet grass water. That being said, this proved to be an immediately gratifying tea on a number of levels, and though I am only discussing and rating the gongfu preparation here, I tried this tea Western and iced and both preparations produced fine results. As Chou Shi Dancongs go, one could do a whole lot worse than giving this one a shot.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Pear, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vanilla, Violet
I brewed up a small cup of this and it smelled amazingly chocolatey. Unfortunately, I got caught up with a bunch of things and this was left to cool completely. Cold, it is a bit like dirt tbh so I will definitely be waiting to rate this for when I try it hot. Thank you Evol Ving Ness for the share though and I look forward to trying this properly because if the smell is any indication, it has potential.
I got this tea from tea-sipper in a cupboard sale recently, and will admit that the name alone sold me (though I am a fan of TeaLyra’s teas and have several of them in my collection… shame they don’t seem to carry this one anymore, which seems to be a blend from their old Tealux days). I’ve been craving maple teas lately, so I decided to have this one with my breakfast this morning. (I almost made the Maple Houjicha from 52Teas since that would’ve fit my “Green March” theme, but the higher caffeine content of a black tea was speaking to me this morning!)
I’m not exactly sure what the popcorn is supposed to be adding to this blend, but I do love the caramelly sweet scent from the bag. Brewed up it has a lovely caramel color with some reddish tones, a medium body with a very smooth mouthfeel lacking of astringency, and a sweet maple flavor with a nice hint of cinnamon in the finish. I really enjoyed that tingle of cinnamon which was a nice compliment to the sweet maple, and found myself adding a little extra cinnamon to my infuser to really emphasize that flavor.
This is a nice tea. Even with a steep a lot longer than I typically give blacks, it came out sweet and smooth, rather than developing an astringent bite, and I really enjoyed the maple/cinnamon flavor combination.
Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Malt, Maple Syrup, Smooth
This is an interesting tea. I’m a huge pumpkin fan, so if I can find teas with pumpkin in them (that aren’t just pumpkin spice blends) I get pretty excited. Especially if the pumpkin isn’t paired with banana (as I don’t do banana). This one actually fit the bill.
The scent of the tisane is really strongly spicy though… I’ve never had turmeric before, but since I couldn’t place the scent, I had no doubt that had to be it (it was like a more pungent ginger, and from everything I’ve read about turmeric, that seems to be pretty accurate). Brewed up, more spices come out in the aroma. The turmeric still has a very strong scent, but I can make out ginger, cardamon, and something sweet, like hints of vanilla. The aroma does evoke a sense of pumpkin pie, but far more spicy and earthy.
The flavor, however, was not what I was expecting. It didn’t really taste very… pumpkiny. There was a sweetness to the base, likely from the apple, but the turmeric dominates the flavor way too much, and it just isn’t a flavor note that makes me think of “pumpkin pie.” It gives the tea a somewhat earthy taste that seems a bit out of place. That said, the blend isn’t bad… it is not the “perfect pumpkin pie,” that I was hoping for, but it does have a nice, savory, autumn spiced cider flavor. Past the strong turmeric there is a nice gingery flavor, with some cinnamon and peppery spices that close out the sip. There is a nice warmth to the spices, but it doesn’t linger, and instead a sweet orange-apple flavor is left lingering on the tongue.
I tried the tea as a latte, but the flavor easily gets overwhelmed by the milk, so if making it this way either make a very strong infusion of tea, or only add a small dash of milk. The warm milk does add a nice, creamy dimension, once I found a good tea-to-milk ratio.
I’d say this is a decent spice herbal blend, and a good “autumn flavor” tea… but a horrible pumpkin pie tea. If you are ordering it based on the name, you’ll be disappointed! This definitely is more of a savory blend, not a dessert blend, and just doesn’t have much of a pumpkin flavor.
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Earth, Ginger, Orange, Peach, Spices, Spicy, Sweet
I originally tried this blend as a sampler from Art of Tea and really enjoyed it, but decided to restock it from TeaLyra since they have more sizing options available and better pricing. This tea has a suprisingly smooth base; I was expecting a lot more astringency with this one, but it is very sweet and the flavor is fantastic! While I’m not much of a fan of the texture of lychee fruit, I love the flavor, and this tea has a great, rich lychee taste, with a softer peach note in the finish. I also notice this slight floral note which just rounds out the fruity flavors nicely. This is one of my favorite black teas to prepare iced as well, since it has a nice strong flavor and I find the stonefruit notes really refreshing and naturally sweet enough to hold well as a cold tea, as long as it is prepared as a hot steep first and then chilled.
Flavors: Floral, Lychee, Peach, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet
When I steeped this up, I expected exactly the same thing as what DTs delivers, or used to deliver. And nope. I don’t know how much of this is due to whatever is going on with my tastebuds and this flu-like thing that I have developed. I am not getting that beautiful tart berry thing accompanied by a bit of creaminess, but rather a kind of generic red herbal. It’s ok, but very whatever.
Love You Oolong Time! This month I’m trying to sample some of the oolongs I haven’t gotten to yet in my stash (as well as revisit old favorites) and this is one I haven’t tried yet! I brewed this up at work, where I’m only able to do western brewing, so I haven’t tried it gongfu style yet — this was done in 190 degree F water with a three minute steep, and the resulting brew had a nice caramely color, but had a musky, earthy, roasted aroma. The flavor of the tea reminded me of roasted nuts (I was actually reminded a lot of TeaSource’s Roasted Chestnut tea), and the liquor was very smooth with a sort of sweetness that left a somewhat honey-like aftertaste on my tongue. The tea had subtle notes of deep, rich, earthy minerals beneath the sweeter, toasty, roasted nutty flavors. I found the tea very enjoyable! Smooth and nutty, with many of the appeals of a darker tea without the astringencies or bitterness. I think this would appeal to fans of nutty, earthy flavors that don’t like flavored blends.
Flavors: Earth, Honey, Mineral, Musty, Nutty, Roasted nuts, Smooth, Sweet
Unlike the Spiced Apple Cider by Nil Organic Tea I sampled, this tea has a very strong, full, fruity apple flavor! It has a very mild tart taste and tastes like Granny Green apples, evoking a warmed apple juice or apple cider feel. There is a hint of light cinnamon in the finish, but personally I wish that the spice notes were just a touch stronger; since the Nil Organic Tea Spiced Apple Cider blend was all spice and no apple, and this blend has a nice apple base but is lighter on the spice than I prefer, I find blending the two teas together creates a very solid, apple-and-spice cider experience. But even plain, if you want a tea with a good apple flavor, this is a good choice.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Green Apple, Sweet, Tart
I’m been falling back alot on these lately, just because I have a bag at hand, and really, it’s a staple, I should just move it to a tin next time I restock. I usually don’t feel the need to review jasmine teas, they’re so normal, and this one is just about as run of the mill as most of the others. I like watching these unfurl in my steeper, and I usually resteep these a minimum of three times, for me that’s just about when they open up fully.
Today I did 1.5 tsp/16oz rather than my normal 1 tsp/16oz because I was feeling generous. The addition makes it more green tea tasting, rather than letting the floral jasmine carry the tea. It’s nice on the occasion, but the jasmine tealyra uses is nice. Its floral, but more on the sweet side of floral rather than perfume-y.
It amuses me that the package says 1tsp/8oz, the effect of that much tea/water is a bit too much for the depth of this tea, I would rather underleaf this than overleaf.
Thank you Evol Ving Ness for the share! I tried this iced and though it was enjoyable enough and had a nice dessert vibe to it, I don’t know if I got pie and I definitely got far less tartness than I expected from a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie tea.
Check out my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2017/10/12/strawberry-rhubarb-pie-from-tealyra/
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