The Tao of Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

drank Kali Cha by The Tao of Tea
319 tasting notes

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90

Okay, here comes the final review of the day. This was another recent white tea sipdown. I think I finished the last of my one ounce pouch of this tea two or three days ago. Some of you may recall my disdain for The Tao of Tea’s entry level Bai Mudan, but this one was great. I had no serious issues with it.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf and bud mix in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 18 additional 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bud blend produced subtle aromas of hay, cinnamon, pine, and smoke. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of almond, straw, and cream. The first infusion brought out a hint of peanut on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, hay, pine, cinnamon, almond, and peanut that were backed by smoke, oat, and eucalyptus hints. Subsequent infusions saw a peony-like floral aroma make itself known alongside mineral, eucalyptus, and autumn leaf scents. There was a stronger cinnamon presence as well. In the mouth, I found stronger, more distinctive eucalyptus notes as well as impressions of golden raisin, autumn leaf pile, butter, minerals, birch, date, apricot, white grape, and lemon zest. The lengthier later infusions retained mineral, autumn leaf pile, straw, cream, and hay notes that were balanced by subtle lemon zest, butter, almond, peanut, and golden raisin characteristics.

This was another wonderful Fujianese Bai Mudan. It is a shame that it is either out of stock or no longer offered. Considering that I only paid around $4.00 for it, I was expecting another grassy, overly smoky, and relatively unattractive tea with plenty of broken leaf and bud material, but instead, I ended up with a gorgeous, silvery leaf and bud mix that was mostly intact and produced a wonderful, easy-drinking tea liquor with tremendous character. Go figure.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Dates, Eucalyptus, Hay, Herbaceous, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Oats, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Straw, White Grapes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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77

Here is another tea review from the backlog. I think I finished my one ounce pouch of this tea around the middle of June. This is the third Dancong black tea I have tried to this point in the year, and so far, I have come away with the impression that such teas are not and likely never will be for me. I have found each of the ones I have tried to be too sweet for my liking.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of pine, blood orange, lychee, and nectarine. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of malt and honey coming from the tea leaves. The first infusion introduced aromas of butter and toast. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, lychee, nectarine, honey, and toast that were balanced by impressions of cream. Subsequent infusions saw hints of cream, violet, and cherry come out on the nose. Stronger cream notes and new flavors of cherry, roasted almond, pear, violet, roasted walnut, and minerals appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging notes of butter, nectarine, pine, and blood orange. I also noticed some subtle hints of brown sugar, cocoa, and nutmeg in the aftertaste on several of these infusions. The final infusions emphasized lingering mineral, butter, cream, and toast notes that were offset by sometimes vague impressions of pine, pear, and violet.

I know that some people like Dancong black teas quite a bit, but each of the ones I have tried has been too rich and sweet for me. To be fair, however, I am pretty sure that each of the Dancong black teas I have tried have been produced from the Mi Lan cultivar, so maybe I just need to try some Dancong black teas produced from other cultivars. With this tea, I quickly grew tired of the overwhelming fruity and creamy/buttery qualities. That being said, I do not think this was a bad tea. It displayed nice depth and complexity and respectable longevity, especially for a tea at this price point. In the end, I just don’t think that this is a sort of tea for me.

Flavors: Almond, Blood orange, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pear, Pine, Stonefruits, Toast, Violet, Walnut

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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88

Here is yet another tea review from the backlog. I cannot remember exactly when I finished the one ounce pouch of this tea that I bought back in the summer of 2016. I’m guessing I went through it either at the end of May or start of June. Surprisingly, this tea had mellowed without losing much of its complexity. I found it to be a very nice black tea that was quite similar to many of the Yunnan black teas I have tried over the years.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered aromas of brown toast, malt, honey, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I picked up aromas of butter and cream. The first infusion then brought out an aroma of brown sugar. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented mild notes of brown toast, malt, honey, butter, cream, and sweet potato that were balanced by notes of brown sugar and molasses toward the finish. Subsequent infusions saw molasses emerge on the nose alongside some subtle scents of cocoa and citrus. Stronger molasses notes appeared in the mouth on these infusions as did new notes of orange zest, cocoa, smoke, minerals, and roasted walnut. A rather subtle camphor impression also became notable on the swallow. The final infusions offered impressions of minerals, malt, butter, cocoa, and molasses that were backed by orange zest and sweet potato hints and a slightly heavier camphor presence.

Compared to a typical Yunnan hong cha, this Guangxi hong cha was a much more mellow and much smoother tea. I have been meaning to investigate some of the black and green teas produced in Guangxi for at least a couple of years now, but just have not gotten the time. This tea made me want to resume that investigation, but I have no clue when I will get around to it. I definitely need to try a more recent harvest of this tea at the very least. If you are a fan of the Yunnan hong cha flavor profile, I am willing to bet that you would enjoy this tea. At least consider giving it a shot if you are a fan of Yunnan black teas.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Butter, Camphor, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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This particular tea I didn’t end up liking. So I used it in a dinner recipe for Green Tea Crusted tofu. It gave the tofu a great texture on the outside and added a slight green tea flavor as well. The family really liked this recipe a lot.

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60

Alright, it’s time to start blasting through some more of the backlogged reviews. I’m planning on posting them all by Monday, but we’ll see how that goes. In case any of you think that I have almost exclusively been drinking green teas lately, I just want to inform you that I have a number of oolong reviews coming down the pipe aside from this one. They have been piling up in the backlog as I have been mowing down samples and I am at a point where I need to start posting them to keep the backlog from getting out of hand (like it did a few months back). This was one of my more recent sipdowns. I do not know all that much about this oolong aside from the fact that it originated in Zhushan Township, Nantou County, Taiwan. I found it to be pretty decent, not the sort of Taiwanese oolong I typically lose my mind for or anything like that, but certainly drinkable enough.

I gongfued this tea. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 13 additional 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 aromas of cream, butter, vanilla, narcissus, and gardenia. After the rinse, I noted the emergence of a honeysuckle aroma. The first proper infusion then yielded hints of custard on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered delicate notes of cream, butter, vanilla, and custard underscored by hints of narcissus, honeysuckle, and gardenia. Subsequent infusions allowed for the emergence of stronger narcissus, honeysuckle, and gardenia notes in the mouth. New impressions of bamboo, sugarcane, green apple, pear, honeydew, and minerals also showed themselves. The later infusions offered lingering notes of minerals, cream, vanilla, sugarcane, and green apple. There was hardly any lingering floral character that I could detect. I also kept expecting some grassier, more vegetal notes, but oddly never found any.

In a sense, this was a pleasant, but also very two-dimensional tea. There was a pretty even split between the fruity and floral characteristics and the tea’s more savory qualities. I think had this tea offered some of the vegetal characteristics typical of many Taiwanese oolongs, it would have been much more satisfying for me. Throughout the session, I could not shake the impression that it was lacking in depth because it was missing those qualities. Overall, this was a decent enough tea, and while I am glad that I took the opportunity to try it, I would not go out of my way to order it again.

Flavors: Bamboo, Butter, Cream, Custard, Gardenias, Green Apple, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Narcissus, Pear, Sugarcane, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

The Tao of Tea included a free sample of this oolong with one of my orders in 2017. A Nepalese oolong, this tea was produced in the spring of 2016 by the Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden in the Dhankuta region. What-Cha also offered a Jun Chiyabari oolong from the spring of 2016 that I enjoyed greatly. I cannot be certain, but I am pretty sure this was the same tea, though clearly subjected to different vendor storage conditions (Portland vs. London) and stored for varying lengths of time and sampled at different times by me. Once I finally got around to trying this tea (last week), it had not lost a step in storage. This was every bit as good as the aforementioned What-Cha oolong, though this one struck me as being somewhat sweeter and fruitier. I’m thinking the additional storage on my part may have done it some good.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes. Yes, in order to make a direct comparison between the two, I employed the same brewing method I used for the What-Cha tea.

Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of orange, plum, and butter coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I noted emerging aromas of violet, dandelion, daisy, chrysanthemum, marigold, malt, and wood. The first infusion brought out hints of straw and rose on the nose. In the mouth, I found fairly robust notes of butter, malt, grass, straw, plum, orange, wood, and all of the flowers mentioned in the preceding sentences. Subsequent infusions brought out impressions of vanilla, minerals, lemon zest, pungent herbs, almond, and nutmeg. The later infusions offered lingering notes of minerals, straw, grass, wood, and pungent herbs underscored by traces of butter, violet, orange, and rose.

In terms of both smell and taste, this tea was near identical to the Nepal Jun Chiyabari ‘Himalayan Bouquet’ Oolong Tea previously offered by What-Cha . Again, I am willing to bet this was the same tea. I know I have said it before, but I liked the What-Cha offering quite a bit, and I liked this one just as much.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Dandelion, Floral, Grass, Herbs, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Plums, Straw, Vanilla, Violet, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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70

This was my latest sipdown. I bought an ounce of this tea last year because I was looking for an affordable Dong Ding oolong suitable for regular consumption. While this tea did not end up being bad by any means, it wasn’t complex or substantial enough to fulfill the role I intended for it. As Dong Ding oolongs go, it was rather lightweight.

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 followed by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cream, sugarcane, vanilla, and baked bread underscored by hints of grass. After the rinse, I found hints of orchid and fresh bamboo shoots on the nose. The first infusion introduced a slight aroma of banana. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of butter, cream, vanilla, baked bread, sugarcane, grass, and bamboo shoots. The subsequent infusions introduced a definite orchid note on the palate. New impressions of violet, daylily, daylily shoots, minerals, banana leaf, cucumber, and custard also emerged. The later infusions retained notes of minerals, cream, sugarcane, and grass with the occasional hint of banana and/or daylily shoots.

I would be interested in finding out more about the origin of this tea and how it was produced. I know that both Cui Yu and Jin Xuan among other cultivars are grown in the area that produces Dong Ding oolongs. I have also read that many producers of high mountain oolongs often utilize a blend of cultivars in the crafting of each of their seasonal releases. Due to this tea’s creaminess, subtle floral qualities, and largely vegetal character, I would be willing to bet that this is either a Jin Xuan or a blend with a heavy Jin Xuan presence. I could be wrong, but this tea kept reminding me of a lightly roasted Jin Xuan. Overall, I could see this tea perhaps making a decent introduction to Dong Ding oolongs, but to be honest, it is not something I would go out of my way to reacquire. Though it was certainly drinkable, there are better Dong Ding oolongs on the market.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Bamboo, banana, Butter, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Orchid, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

I normally don’t post more than two reviews per day, but I wanted to keep making headway in my effort to clear out the new backlog, so I decided to go ahead and post this one. Much like the Phoenix Song Dynasty, I know very little about this tea. I again have no clue which cultivar was used in this production nor do I know which harvest produced this particular tea. Honestly, I have no clue if The Tao of Tea will ever be restocking this tea because it was not listed anywhere on their website as of my last check. Regardless, I found this to be a more or less excellent Dancong oolong (part of me wants to say this may have been a Da Wu Ye or something similar, though it also reminded me a little of a Ya Shi Xiang in places.).

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 additional 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 noted aromas of roasted almond, toast, malt, cream, and custard coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I found emerging orchid and roasted peanut aromas accompanied by hints of grass and citrus. The first proper infusion brought out odd, yet interesting scents of strawberry and plum to go with a more clearly defined violet scent. In the mouth, I detected notes of roasted almond, toast, malt, cream, orchid, plum, and strawberry backed by subtle notes of sweet orange and unexpected hints of caraway and anise. Subsequent infusions brought out the violet, grass, and roasted peanut notes on the palate as well as somewhat stronger notes of sweet orange. I also began to detect impressions of minerals, pomelo, lemon zest, earth, rye, tea flower, golden raisin, butter, lychee, and peach accompanied by occasional hints of red raspberry. The later infusions mostly offered lingering notes of cream, malt, toast, minerals, and violet with some nutty and citrusy impressions in the background. Oddly, I never found any custard-like notes in the mouth.

This was yet another very respectable Dancong oolong from The Tao of Tea. I would like to know more about it and do hope that it makes a comeback at some point, but I’m not sure that either will happen. I would recommend it to any curious drinkers out there, but with it being unavailable, there really is no point. Still, for the record, I found it to be a very good tea.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Butter, Citrus, Cream, Custard, Earth, Floral, Grass, Herbs, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Plums, Raisins, Raspberry, Rye, Strawberry, Toast, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

I polished off the last of a one ounce pouch of this tea earlier in the week. Aside from the fact that it was a Dancong oolong from the Wudong Shan area, I knew nothing else about it and have been unable to uncover any further details. Obviously, I have no clue what cultivar was used in this production nor do I know when this tea was harvested. All I know is this struck me as being a very drinkable, approachable oolong with more than enough depth and complexity to satisfy.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 additional 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 noted aromas of honey, peach, tangerine, orange, and cinnamon coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I found emerging orchid and orange blossom aromas underscored by hints of nuttiness and vegetal character of some sort. The first proper infusion brought forth scents of vanilla, cream, and almond. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of honey, cinnamon, orange, orange blossom, peach, and tangerine underscored by hints of sweetgrass, cream, and almond. Subsequent infusions brought out new impressions of plum, malt, pear, red apple, sweet cherry, lemon zest, minerals, and brown sugar as well as subtler hints of grapefruit, ginger, wood, and butter. The vanilla appeared in the mouth around this point and the cream, almond, and sweetgrass notes grew stronger on these middle infusions as well. The later infusions primarily offered lingering notes of minerals, malt, cinnamon, red apple, pear, wood, and grapefruit.

A very surprising and interesting Dancong oolong with a lot of character, I have to admit that I was not expecting all that much from this tea, but walked away highly impressed by it. Compared to the last Dancong I tried from The Tao of Tea as well as the last two Dancongs I tried from Yunnan Sourcing/Yunnan Sourcing US, the leaf quality was excellent. This tea also displayed respectable longevity for the style. This was well worth the $6.00 I paid for a single ounce; in fact, I think this was pretty much a steal at that price. Consider checking this one out if/when The Tao of Tea restocks it.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Ginger, Grapefruit, Grass, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Pear, Plums, Red Apple, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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60

I thought it was okay. Pretty average but nondescript tea. It tasted like oolong tea, but there wasn’t much more to discern. I like oolongs on the greener side, but this lacked the brightness that others I’ve tried have exhibited. Had it with food and it was fine for that, but not a particularly interesting tea on its own.

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74

Here is yet another tea I forgot I had in my collection. I went ahead and polished off it at the end of last week. I think I have now finally finished all of the green teas from last year. Drinking the Keemun Maofeng and this back-to-back meant that I spent a couple days overloading on teas from Anhui Province, but hey, it was fun. I used to really love Huangshan Maofeng, but now I’m not so sure. Since I have been gravitating more and more toward green teas from Shandong, Fujian, Zhejiang, and Yunnan Provinces, it seems that I have been losing interest in many of the green teas produced elsewhere. By the time I finally got around to this one, it oddly did not seem like it had faded all that much, but I could not muster much of an opinion of it. It wasn’t bad, but unfortunately, it just struck me as being the sort of tea for which I would simply have to be in a certain mood to fully appreciate.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a flash rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 170 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 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.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted pleasant, though fairly fleeting aromas of butter, grass, and green beans. After the rinse, I began to pick up scents of chestnut and pine. The first proper infusion brought forth a slightly malty aroma. In the mouth, I found hints of malt, grass, and chestnut backed by touches of butter, green beans, wet stones, and bizarrely enough, flowers. Subsequent infusions brought out strong pine impressions coupled with more robust notes of chestnut, green beans, butter, malt, grass, and wet stones. The floral impressions remained elusive, though I was reminded somewhat of both chrysanthemum and marigold at times. I also began to note emerging impressions of soybean, minerals, straw, and lettuce underscored by a slightly smoky presence. From the start of the session through its conclusion, the mouthfeel grew more and more mineral-heavy and alkaline. The later infusions were heavy on mineral, wet stone, and malt notes, though I could still just barely detect impressions of chestnut, lettuce, and grass.

A rather interesting tea, I enjoyed its very sharp, hard mouthfeel and pleasant mix of aromas and flavors, but I must knock it somewhat since it faded so quickly. Also, while I enjoyed the sharper, harder-edged mouthfeel for the most part, I would be willing to bet that it won’t be for everyone. If nothing else, this session reminded me of why Huangshan Maofeng normally seems to be a cult tea in the West. In the end, this was pretty good, but I would not want to have it regularly.

Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Smoke, Soybean, Straw, Wet Rocks

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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80

One of my goals in the coming year is to try a few more Keemun black teas. To this point, the vast majority of my experience with such teas has been limited to Hao Ya, so Keemun Maofeng is something of a new frontier for me. I finished a one ounce pouch of this one last week and found it to be likable.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 200 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I noted aromas of malt, smoke, apricot, and honey coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I found new aromas of cocoa, roasted nuts, and brown toast. The first infusion introduced a stronger roasted nut aroma and hints of spice on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of honey, malt, smoke, cocoa, and roasted nuts. Subsequent infusions brought out the brown toast, apricot, and roasted nut notes in the mouth. With regard to the latter, I was reminded of both roasted almonds and roasted chestnuts. I also began to notes emerging impressions of cinnamon, nutmeg, pine wood, cream, leather, and minerals. The later infusions were dominated by a mix of mineral, pine, malt, cocoa, honey, smoke, and roasted nut notes.

This was not a bad tea at all. It was extremely mellow and approachable for a Keemun black tea, and perhaps most surprisingly, I did not get much, if anything in the way of bitterness or astringency out of it. Though it faded pretty quickly, I very much enjoyed it. It served its purpose as an introduction to Keemun Maofeng. I imagine that it could do the same for others.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Brown Toast, Chestnut, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pine, Smoke

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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36

One thing I hope to accomplish in the upcoming year is reviewing a few more white teas. I have largely ignored them to this point in my reviewing journey. Though I went through a brief white tea phase back in college, white tea has never really been my favorite type of tea. I have always been more drawn to green, black, and oolong teas. I still hope to become more familiar with white teas, however, and have been taking tentative steps toward accomplishing that objective. I appreciate the fact that they tend to age gracefully and also often work really well iced. I first encountered this tea in iced form and I recall enjoying it. Unfortunately, trying it as a hot tea was a disappointing experience for me.

I noticed prior to brewing some of this up that I was forced to revisit my most frequent complaint with the teas I have been receiving from The Tao of Tea; the leaf quality appeared to be utter shit. There were tons of chopped and broken leaves and a lot of dust. I do not know whether this was a shipping issue or a storage issue on my end. This morning I broke open a pouch of their Nepali Oolong and Keemun Maofeng and the leaf quality looked great in comparison, so it may just be an issue with select teas.

Anyway, I prepared this tea in my familiar, personalized form of gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 170 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. I normally stop at either the 5 or 7 minute mark with white teas, but I just did not want to press on with this one.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of herbs, hay, straw, and honey. After the rinse, I picked up touches of grass and nuts. The first infusion did not really bring out anything new on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor expressed notes of straw, grass, and hay backed by touches of herbs, nuts, and honey. Subsequent infusions introduced impressions of dry leaves, tree bark, butter, malt, candied orange peel, lemon zest, rose, and minerals. I also picked up on clearly defined notes of chestnut and almond as well as more distinct herbal impressions (thyme, basil, eucalyptus, and rosemary). The later infusions were mostly dominated by notes of malt, minerals, and hay, though I could occasionally pick up fleeting impressions of nuts and herbs.

I know this is supposed to be The Tao of Tea’s introductory white tea, and I do have to give it some credit for working well as an iced tea and having a lot of aroma and flavor components, but I think they can do better than this. The tea lacked longevity and was more astringent than a Bai Mudan should be due to the poor leaf quality. Also, good Bai Mudan should not have much of a grass presence-it has always been my understanding that grassiness in a Bai Mudan is the mark of a lower quality picking. If this were a Shou Mei, I would not be as hard on it, but all I can say is there are much better teas of this type out there at more than reasonable prices. Consider seeking them out first.

Flavors: Almond, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bark, Butter, Chestnut, Eucalyptus, Grass, Hay, Herbs, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Rose, Straw, Thyme

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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74
drank Genmaicha by The Tao of Tea
1687 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 13 of 2018 (no. 369 total).

First day back at work. I set up the Breville with the last of this to steep tomorrow a.m. along with some extra sencha as I didn’t have enough of this.

It was particularly nice as a work tea today, what with the constant rain and the constant grey skies and all.

P.S. I said in my original note that I was going to count the two packets of this as separate sipdowns, but in the end I combined them in a single tin. So I’m only recording it once.

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74
drank Genmaicha by The Tao of Tea
1687 tasting notes

I also have two packets of this and I’m going to count them separately for sipdown purposes.

It has been a while since I had a genmaicha. It’s one of those things where I never find myself sitting around going, “you know, a genmaicha would really hit the spot now,” but when I have it, I enjoy it.

Usually, when I have genmaicha, the mix also has matcha in it. This one doesn’t, and the tea’s color isn’t green. It’s a medium yellow color and clear. The aroma is as expected — toasted rice.

The flavor isn’t as robust as I recall genmaicha being, but that could be because of the matcha factor, or it could be because the leaf is old (but it was stored in a dark, dry place, and hermetically sealed).

I quite like it, though. It’s a gentler version of a genre I enjoy from time to time.

Flavors: Butter, Grass, Rice, Toasted Rice

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 500 OZ / 14786 ML

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72
drank Jade Bamboo by The Tao of Tea
1687 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 40 of 2018 (no. 396 total).

Nothing to add to previous notes here.

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72
drank Jade Bamboo by The Tao of Tea
1687 tasting notes

I didn’t rate this the first time I tried it, but I think I’m ready now.

I tried it the past few days as my take it to work tea, steeping at the full 4 minutes suggested.

Even with the additional steeping time, this isn’t among my favorites. It’s tasty enough, and does have a very interesting bamboo shoot-like flavor and aroma. But it’s not a strong enough flavor for me.

Sometimes a less than amazing flavor is perfect for a work tea, because you aren’t distracted after each sip with the thought of how good it is.

In this case, the distraction is me constantly asking myself whether there’s something else I could have done to make a stronger flavor come through.

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72
drank Jade Bamboo by The Tao of Tea
1687 tasting notes

Don’t look now, but this is the 666th individual tea I’ve written a note about.

Steepster says otherwise, but that’s because there are three mystery teas in my log (teas I never tasted nor possessed, nor even came into the same room with as far as I know). I can’t get rid of them no matter what I do. I’ve written to the Steepster overlords, but I fear that, like the two mystery private message notifications that won’t go away, this is a break that no one knows how to fix.

I have two packets of this. I’m treating them as separate for sipdown purposes because it’s container space I’m really counting.

I didn’t believe the directions when they said that this should be steeped for four minutes, but next time I’m going to try that. 1:30, my usual green tea steeping time, is probably giving this short shrift.

I smell the bamboo in the aroma, a sort of green, woody smell. But this isn’t, right now, giving off as much flavor as I expected and the liquor is very pale. It has a very interesting rose gold color.

I’m not going to rate it yet.

Flavors: Bamboo

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Roswell Strange

I also have the mystery message notifications; for the most part I’ve just gotten used to them, but every now and then I have that moment where I go “Oh, I’ve got a message” and there’s nothing there.

__Morgana__

I know, it really messes with my OCD tendencies. ;-)

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84

Time to make another effort to reduce the number of backlogged reviews. I polished off a one ounce pouch of this tea a couple weeks ago. I found it to be a very respectable, approachable Yunnan black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 200 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of honey, cedar, and citrus. After the rinse, I discovered new scents of roasted nuts, wood, cream, and malt. The first proper infusion brought out touches of spice and pine. In the mouth, I found notes of citrus, malt, cream, wood, roasted chestnut, and honey with slight undertones of smoke and chocolate before a mostly nutty, malty finish. Subsequent infusions brought out the cedar and pine in the mouth, as well as clear touches of orange zest and stronger smoke and chocolate flavors. I also began to pick up notes of caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, dates, bread, minerals, and red apple. The later infusions offered fleeting impressions of bread, malt, and minerals with hints of roasted chestnut and orange zest. There was a brief hit of brown sugar sweetness that lingered on the tongue after the swallow.

For the price, this was a rock solid Yunnan black tea. Though it was not quite as smooth or as sophisticated as some others I have tried, for what this was, it was very nice. I didn’t take notes, but I also brewed this as an iced tea and it was good. I definitely think this could make a very good introduction to Yunnan black teas for those who are curious or a reliably good, consistent budget brew for regular consumption.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cedar, Chestnut, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Dates, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Pine, Raisins, Red Apple, Smoke, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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