The Tao of Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

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
1374 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
1374 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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drank Jade Bamboo by The Tao of Tea
1374 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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76

Revising this to add that I finished it and it’s sipdown no. 4 of 2017 (no. 285 total) because the page appears to be broken. The note below was from tasting last week.

When I last got derailed from my serial obsession with tea into some other obsession for a while, I believe I had picked this one as my next “take it to work” tea.

When I started my new job, which isn’t so new anymore (I’ve been there more than 18 months), I started taking a Timolino of green tea to work every day. Then I discovered that the company made Numi teas available in bags, and they had a couple of greens so I got lazy and stopped making the tea before I went into work. Instead, I started making it at work. After a while, I started to get tired of the two greens, then I stopped drinking tea for a while.

Which brings us to yesterday, when I went back to trying to establish the Timolino habit. I think I had had this before but I hadn’t ever written a note about it.

Now, unfortunately, like pretty much all of my tea it is rather far past it’s “tastes best by” date, but I’ve never let that stop me before. The dry leaves range in color from a medium-dark green to a silvery green and they’re geometric and stick like. They remind me of what herbals with lemon grass in them look like. They have a sweet, grassy, almost haylike smell.

The tea is a dark golden color and clear. It has a grassy, sweet aroma.

It tastes pretty much like it smells. Rather refreshing without being too drying in the mouth. It’ll be a pleasant commuting tea for as long as it lasts. I could see buying something like this again, maybe. Hard to know at this point as I don’t ever see myself buying more tea given how much I still have.

Flavors: Grass, Hay, Sweet

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

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80

Today was rough. I ended the previous day with a very strong beer (DKML by Founders Brewing Company, a 14.2% abv malt liquor aged in bourbon barrels) and woke up feeling loopy and weak. By the time I took my morning tea, I was feeling even worse. The tea hit my stomach like a very large fist and I ended up nauseated. After a couple unhappy and unproductive hours at the office, I called it a day and went home to recover. To be fair, I think my rough go of it today was more due to the night before and general fatigue though, so I can’t really place all of the blame on this tea. It was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Now, before I go any further, let’s back up a bit. At some point late last year, I started buying up Dan Congs like crazy because I realized I was not very familiar with them. I bought this one, two other Dan Congs, and a roasted oolong blend from The Tao of Tea at the same time. After receiving them, they were all stored in one of my sealed tea totes. I broke open said tote over the weekend and began cleaning it out. I had and still have so much tea on hand that I decided to sort out some stuff to give to friends and family. Pretty soon, I found myself developing a thirst and decided to try this tea on a whim. I had been doing some research on traditional Dan Cong brewing methods anyway and couldn’t wait to try to adapt some of them to my preferred gongfu procedure. Upon opening the bag, however, I was crushed when I discovered that it contained mostly broken Mi Lan Xiang leaves. Soldiering on, I plucked out 8 grams of the most intact leaves, primed my 4 ounce gaiwan, cleaned and primed my cup, rinsed the leaves, and proceeded to brew. The first infusion was only 5 seconds. It was followed 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted fruity, slightly floral aromas with a hint of woodiness. The rinse allowed me to pick up distinct impressions of honey, wood, damp grass, butter, nectarine, peach, and yuzu. The first infusion brought out vanilla, orchid, and grapefruit pith. There was a hint of nuttiness too. In the mouth, stone fruits, honey, butter, grass, and wood ruled the day, though I could kind of pick out some underlying nutty and floral impressions. Subsequent infusions brought out the vanilla, orchid, yuzu, and grapefruit pith impressions in the mouth. I also began to pick up impressions of roasted almond, chestnut, cashew, cattail shoots, apricot, sour plum, lemon, pomelo, osmanthus, marigold, and petunia. Minerals showed up too, as did something of a muddy, almost clay-like earthiness. The later infusions were earthy, woody, and grassy with a more distinct mineral presence and faint wisps of citrus, roasted nuts, butter, and stone fruits.

Despite the lower-than-expected leaf quality (to be fair, I did purchase this tea very shortly before it went out of stock), this oolong delivered a lot of flavor at a very reasonable price point. The slick soapiness one would generally expect from this type of oolong was there, but it wasn’t all that distracting. It also had a little more staying power than I would have expected. I would almost be willing to bet that a full leaf version of this tea would be amazing. As is, this was rock solid and would make a very nice introduction to the joys of Mi Lan Xiang.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Astringent, Butter, Chestnut, Citrus, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Grass, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Osmanthus, Peach, Plums, Roasted nuts, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 8 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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40

I think everyone who has been reading my reviews realizes that I have been going to great lengths to finish the green teas I have bought over the past year. This was one of my later acquisitions and I recently bumped it up in the rotation since I tend to like Yunnan Mao Feng green teas. I seem to recall buying this because the price was ridiculously low for an organic tea. That should have tipped me off to the possibility that this may not have been the highest quality organic green tea, but I could not resist. I learned a lesson from that. This was the most boring Mao Feng I have ever had by a long shot.

I stuck with a Western-style preparation for this tea. I simply could not motivate myself to gongfu it. For one thing, most of the leaves were broken, so I figured it would make a mess. Also, it just was not that interesting. I started off by steeping a teaspoon of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 175 F water for 2 minutes. I then conducted a second infusion at 3 minutes and stopped there.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted mildly smoky, grassy aromas with a hint of nuttiness. After infusion, I picked up aromas of hay, smoke, grass, and pine with touches of chestnut and citrus. In the mouth, I mostly picked up fairly weak notes of malt, hay, grass, lemon, chestnut, pine, smoke, and minerals. The second infusion produced a slightly stronger nose with greater citrus, smoke, and pine presences and a touch of indistinct floral quality. The mouth followed suit with stronger chestnut, pine, smoke, malt, and lemon notes to complement a growing minerality and lingering touches of hay and grass. I got a little bit of floral character, but could not place it and quickly gave up trying. I also picked up hints of asparagus and seaweed.

This was a disappointment. I cannot do much more than reiterate that I found this tea to be boring. Actually, I will go a step further and call it unengaging as well. I definitely would not recommend this to anyone looking for a good example of a Yunnan Mao Feng.

Flavors: Asparagus, Chestnut, Floral, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Seaweed, Smoke

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
eastkyteaguy

Loudao, I take it you are speaking of the moldy cakes you received from Puerhshop?

eastkyteaguy

I have oddly yet to have a problem from Puerhshop, but I know others who have. You may want to reach out to the owner. My experience suggests that he is pretty good about working with people. As far as regulars go, for me it would be any sort of Li Shan oolong or fresh Baozhong. Those are both like a sunny day in a glass. I also love the Laoshan greens, blacks, and oolongs sold seasonally by Verdant Tea.

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90

This is an absolute morning favourite of mine. I always gaiwan this tea.
It’s beautifully light and refreshing, nice lingering nutty and autumnal notes with a light caramel finish.
Wonderful tea, I normally get about 3-5 infusions with a 2-3 tablespoon serving.

Flavors: Almond, Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramel, Nutty

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 45 sec 2 tsp

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45

I really like the idea – to preserve old-growth tea “forests” by harvesting their uniquely-flavored tea leaves. But this was simply not the tea for me, unfortunately. I’ve stated before I’m not much of a black tea drinker, but I do typically like Earl Greys. This one, however, had a far too dry character, and much too little bergamot to be among the few black teas that I enjoy. I hope others like it to keep the preservation project going but I won’t buy it again

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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75

Backlog/Sipdown

I had this one on Sunday night after coming home from a mini tea trip. I wanted something to drink before my friend had gone home, so we pulled this sample out to finish. We mainly talk about the teas we have and rarely spend too much time writing notes. I find that working something out verbally with another is much easier than writing. We do take brief notes on the tea (I’ll take a lot more when I’m alone), but there’re times when neither of us want to write, so we just enjoy the tea with a vinyl, board games with my wife, or outdoors on a hike. Either way, it is better to share tea with little to no notes, rather than alone with an abundance of notes, I suppose.

Notes: I noted that the tea took a little bit to “open up.” After the third steep, there were hints of “fruit in the aftertaste,” but we were unsure what fruit we were tasting. Finally, we concluded at steep # 7 that throughout the session, the tea became smoky, but less of Lapsang and more of burning cigarette in the distance; while tasting a pear almost immediately on the tongue (which faded just as quickly).

I thought that this was a nice tea and I am grateful to have tried it. Thank you again eastkyteaguy!

eastkyteaguy

No problem. I’m glad it wasn’t just me who thought this took awhile to open up. This was also one of the tightest bricks in terms of compression I have ever seen. When I was breaking it up, none of my picks could find purchase anywhere. I had to tap the pick in and then flake little bits off until I could start breaking off larger chunks. I found this tea both smoky and salty with distinct herbal and black cherry character. It’s definitely a tart, smoky tea and I have no clue how it will develop. I’m hoping it evens out a little. I have the rest of the brick broken up and it’s
aging in one of my cabinets. I plan on trying this again in a couple months.

mrmopar

I agree as to still too young.

S.G. Sanders

It might get pretty interesting after a while, eastkyteaguy.

mrmopar what is a good age for sheng puerh? I believe the youngest I’ve had was a ‘94? I think Liquid Proust had some at a tea party, I’m not sure; could’ve been a shou, too.

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87
drank Lotus by The Tao of Tea
533 tasting notes

This has been my evening tea for the past several days. I bought this one some months ago, but just never made the time to crack it open and try it. By the time I got around to it, I wondered whether or not it had started to fade. Fortunately, this tea lasted very well in storage. It was lively and flavorful in the mouth, demonstrating no obvious signs of age.

I prepared this tea using a two step Western infusion process. Per The Tao of Tea’s recommendation, I used two full teaspoons of loose leaves rather than one. It isn’t actually necessary to use that much, but I found that the additional teaspoon really focuses the already powerful lotus aroma and flavor. Rather than steeping at the recommended 160-170 F, I opted to steep this tea at my usual 175 F because I personally find this temperature to work best for me when I am brewing non-Japanese green teas. Anyway, the first infusion was 2 minutes in 8 ounces of 175 F water. The second infusion was 3 minutes.

Prior to infusion, I noted that this tea emitted a powerful aroma of lotus. It was still there after infusion, though aromas of corn husk, damp grass, hay, and malt from the tea base were apparent. In the mouth, the lotus was quick to make its presence known. By mid-palate, gentler notes of cream, malt, damp grass, corn husk, hay, and straw arrived to provide a semblance of balance. The finish was short, smooth, and packed with creamy, malty, and exotic floral tones. The second infusion was predictably milder and smoother. The grainier, grassier, and maltier notes were more pronounced, though the lotus was still front and center. The only real difference that I noticed was a hint of minerals on the tail end of the finish.

As far as flavored/scented green teas go, this one was quite nice. I especially appreciated that the tea base was just aromatic and flavorful enough to provide some depth and balance. Too often I find that teas of this sort, especially those offered at lower price points, can be painfully one-dimensional. That was not the case with this tea. At the price I paid, it was pretty much a steal. Check this one out if you enjoy floral teas.

Flavors: Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Grass, Hay, Malt, Mineral, Straw

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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73
drank Black Dragon by The Tao of Tea
308 tasting notes

This is a nice toasted oolong; the kind i mean when I say “Chinese Restaurant Tea”. It is mellow and has some notes of plum when sipping. There is a bit of an aftertaste that is reminiscent of green apple tartness. I think i either need to steep it longer or add more tea. It was a little weaker than I like based on instructions on Tao of Tea site.

Flavors: Plums

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 11 OZ / 325 ML

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85

This is a very well rounded and savory Green Tea with a lot of subtle flavor if brewed correctly. It is very smooth almost silky and leaves a wonderful moist aftertaste lacking astringency. I don’t get as much of the “buttery” mouth feel as I have had in other similar Greens which is a little disappointing but the tea is still very satisfying nevertheless. I would purchase this again for sure.

Flavors: Butter, Cucumber, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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81

Another buy from Amazon. I fell in love with green oolongs this past summer after trying some great Oolongs from a fantastic teashop in a small town in British Columbia, Canada- owned by a Taiwanese guy. I’ve been desperately trying to find the same quality of an oolong I got there named “Gao-Shan”. It was $13.50CAD for 100grams, very cheap considering the amazing quality. I tried this Jade Oolong, at about $8.50 for 105grams from Amazon. It was good. I enjoyed it, just not the same amount of deep, floral flavors and soul as the Gao-Shan. I would buy this again, it comes at a very decent price. Still better than the more expensive oolongs I got from Adagio Tea.

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78

Alright, it’s time to celebrate another sipdown. I started working my way through a one ounce sample packet of this tea a couple weeks back, but only managed to finish it a couple days ago. I found this to be a nice green tea for everyday drinking.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped approximately 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 175 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this infusion up with 10 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I picked up on a slightly smoky, grassy aroma from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I picked up more clearly defined aromas of grass, corn husk, and smoke. The first infusion produced a similar, though slightly stronger aroma. In the mouth, I was able to detect mild notes of corn husk, hay, grass, wood, malt, and smoke underscored by a hint of minerals. Subsequent infusions saw nutty and fruity qualities emerge. I began to pick up on aromas and flavors of roasted chestnut, hazelnut, tangerine, green apple, honey, and lime zest. Cream and oat notes also began to emerge. Later infusions were very malty and vegetal. I mostly noted aromas and flavors of corn husk, grass, hay, malt, cream, and oats underscored by roasted chestnut, minerals, citrus, and smoke.

This was a solid, approachable Yunnan green tea. It was not the deepest or most complex Yunnan green I have ever tried, but I still found it to be respectable. As mentioned above, I think this would probably work best as an everyday green tea, though I could also see it making a great introduction to Yunnan green teas.

Flavors: Chestnut, Citrus, Corn Husk, Cream, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Hazelnut, Honey, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Smoke, Straw, Wood

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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