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Recent Tasting Notes
After a very nice South Indian lunch I made today, I felt like having a darker Taiwanese oolong, so this sample I have from derk came handy :)
Even better, this turns out to be the best Hong Shui I have tried thus far.
The tea smells of cocoa and peach cake. It has a very interesting tart and metallic quality on top of the expected notes of rock sugar and stonefruits. There is a strong lemon flavour too. The liquor is silky and medium bodied, but not coating, an intriguing texture. After swallowing, it leaves my mouth salivating for a while, which enhances the aftertaste. I can also see some strange mix of warming and cooling effects like derk noted. Overall, the tea enhances my perceptions and makes me more focused, which is good, because I should get back to work now :)
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8b4-6E8zjA
Flavors: Alcohol, Cake, Cocoa, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Lemon, Metallic, Pleasantly Sour, Stonefruits, Sugar, Sweet, Tart
ORGANIC CHINGJING HONG SHUI (RED) OOLONG SPRING 2018
Today, I blew through the sample of this Hong Shui I purchased at the SF Tea Fest. This was my first time tasting a Hong Shui and I’m finding it difficult to pin down. In some ways it reminds me a lot of the Taiwan Amber GABA Oolong I love from What-Cha, especially with its rock sugar sweetness. This tea though, has more of an understated nutty, grainy, baked or dried stonefruit vibe than roasted pear and apple. Maybe a little nut/grain milky quality? The liquor is thin and silky and leaves a surprisingly full and warm feeling in my throat and chest but remains cooling in the rest of the mouth and body; strangely refreshing for a roasted oolong. Long dried fruit/floral aftertaste. Complex and beyond my focus today. Perhaps I’ll come back for a rating after I try the other two Hong Shui in my cupboard.
Seems to do better with higher leaf:volume and short gongfu infusions.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Floral, Fruity, Grain, Mint, Roast nuts, Stonefruits, Sugar
Purchased at the SF Tea Fest. This organic gaoshan was offered as a replacement for the Spring 2018 harvest that had already sold out by the time we rolled around on Sunday afternoon. Tillerman Tea was probably my favorite booth at the fest. He and his partner were full of answers when I unloaded with questions, they presented not one gimmicky claim and I felt like there was no pressure to buy. I appreciated that given the overwhelming nature of the event. Most importantly, they let the tea speak for itself.
Gone gaiwan: 6g, 150mL, 212F, rinse (drank) plus 13 steeps starting at 10s.
The dry leaf is very fragrant with a range of florals including lilac, daffodil, hyacinth, gardenia and lily. It is also typically vegetal with some cream and butter. Warming brings out a hit of vanilla and fresh sugarcane. The rinse opens up the vegetal aroma into scents of spinach, pine, watercress and white pepper.
The first steep is thick, smooth, oily and round with no bitterness nor astringency despite using boiling water. The leaves open almost completely after the first steep. Daffodil and pine and very light vegetal and sweet lemon notes lead the way. These transition into stronger floral notes with additions of osmanthus and faint macadamia and dried coconut. Puff pastry presents as a long, coating aftertaste. I get a faint whiff of popcorn in the aroma and something spicy in the mouth, a tinge of cassia. Very relaxed and sweating.
With the fifth steep, the liquor lightens into fresh vegetal-herbaceous flavors including sugar snap peas, raw corn, fresh herbs, squash blossom and flower stems. A faint astringency becomes noticeable, along with some cooling menthol that coats the back of the tongue and light minerals which make my tongue tingle. I notice a pleasant bite in the throat and the sugarcane returning sweetness. Butter comes through moderately in the aftertaste.
With the eighth steep, the florals finally begin their fade and give way to a thinner brew highlighted by cream, light sweet vanilla, cooked yellow corn, minerals and some lemon still noticeable around the salivary glands.
This seemed like a standout tea even almost 2 years past harvest. While predominantly a heady floral tea, the non-spinachy vegetal base provided a nice balance and the liquor was well rounded by sweet, buttery, pine/herbal, and citrusy qualities along with that slight spicy bite. I would definitely recommend this tea to somebody looking for a high-quality, organic gaoshan.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Citrusy, Coconut, Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Garden Peas, Gardenias, Herbs, Lemon, Menthol, Nuts, Osmanthus, Pastries, Pepper, Pine, Plants, Popcorn, Round , Smooth, Spinach, Squash Blossom, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal
Here’s the last high mountain oolong sample from my Tillerman order. I was underwhelmed the first time I brewed this tea. The flavor was a little weak and it didn’t have much oomph. Slight upping the leaf to water ratio really gave it a big boost in flavor.
This tea is packed with lots of bright flowery notes. It opens with sweet pea and orange blossom before giving way to narcissus, daffodils, and a hint of vanilla. Aromas of meadow flowers, butter, and something like clover honey waft out from the gaiwan. The tea has a thick body and a creamy mouthfeel, leaving behind a nice little tingle on the tongue as it goes down.
I’ve been impressed overall by the quality of the teas I’ve had from Tillerman Tea. The bao zhong was good, and the Ali Shan and Li Shan were both stellar. Oddly enough, as a jade oolong enthusiast, it’s their “Sweet Scent” Dong Ding that I find myself craving the most.
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Honey, Narcissus, Orange Blossom, Peas, Vanilla
This is a solid, if not spectacular, baozhong. It does better gongfu’ed than grandpa style, which is my usual method of brewing this type of tea. Dry leaf aroma is a sweet medley of lilac and hyacinth. The first steeping was thick and TGY-like, brimming with heady lilacs and orchid. Second steep was more or less the same with a little egg yolk in the finish. At the third steep, the tea softened and gave a rush of wildflowers that lingered on the tongue. The tea faded in the last 2 steeps but still had good flavor. An enjoyable tea, but I’ve been so spoiled by drinking so many great baozhongs that this one just doesn’t excite my taste buds much.
It’s been an exhausting week and a half. I’ve been busy cramming for a certification exam that I should have started studying for 3 months ago except life and summer got in the way. In the process, I’ve gone through a lot of different teas to help fuel my long study sessions.
This is the first dong ding I’ve had in a long while. Normally I am not a fan of dark oolongs with the exception of fruity dan congs and some yanchas. When I bought this, I misread the description and thought it was a light roast. Turns out that although this tea has an assertive roast, it was anything but charcoal-like. Out of the bag, the aroma was very mouthwatering. I smelled roasted nuts, baked bread, flowers, a little spice and a hint of hazelnut. After a rinse, the aroma became s’mores like. First steep greeted me with toasted nuts and a little char. The second steep was a green/dark hybrid with baked and floral tones. The roastiness softens by the 5th steep and I get pleasant spice notes. When grandpa steeped, it’s smooth and warm. Starts off woodsy and popcorn like before turning into a nice graham cracker taste.
True to its name, this tea has a fantastic aroma and excellent flavor. The fact that it grandpa steeps so well is an added bonus because it’s another tea I can throw in my tumbler for work or while studying.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Flowers, Graham Cracker, Marshmallow, Roast nuts, Wood
This was a marvelous Li shan and one of the better jade oolongs I’ve had in a while. The scent of the leaves is a real treat for the nose. The aroma is an intoxicating mix of hyacinth, daffodils, wild flowers, and melon. I kept smelling the gaiwan over and over again to take in all the loveliness. The brewed tea is a juicy, flowery nectar with notes of orchid, sweet pea, apricot, and jasmine. Later on, it settled into a nice sugarcane sweetness, some vegetal tones but still remained lush and floral. I steeped this about 7-8 times and it definitely could have been pushed further.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Garden Peas, Jasmine, Melon, Orchid, Sugarcane
I should have written down the notes the one time I gong fu’d it. The other two times were more improvised, and today, I started off with 30 sec, then 45, but then 3 minutes on accident. The third steep was super thick and viscous, but smooth and salvageable. I felt like I was drinking an apple covered by an excess amount of cool whip. I continued to play drink this one and enjoy my sessions for the sake of enjoying sipping my tea. Western might not be a bad route given this bad boy’s resilience. I actually preferred this one over the aristocratic Tian Chi. Unfortunately, I’ve used my acumen while salivating for this tea, so I am not going into all of the nuances of the first, mid, and finishing tastes. I’ll just say this is a good frickin’ tea that you can do almost anything with, and deserves a little bit of roughness and tenderness when brewing. All it needs is love.
I deeply enjoyed this one last night and this morning, for it lasted me eleven brews gong fu. Unfortunately, I was not super precise in how I drank it, so I am not going to be as descriptive as usual. I started off precise, and then I improvised the rest of it. It was immensely thick, viscous, fresh, floral and fruity. There were some definite honey, lemongrass, apple, lilac, blossom, and other green notes. I actually got something that resembled watermelon later on…weird. Expensive, but very durable. You always know that you have an awesome quality tea if it tastes good despite the abuse you put it through.
I finished it off and got some evergreen notes that I’d typically get from a Bi Lo Chun or Dragon well. Beads of sweat dripped from my forehead as my chest warmed. My fingers wiggled as my neck and abdomen tensed. I don’t know if that was from the sheer heat of the tea or the after burn of an intense workout, or if I was getting a tea drunk buzz. Nevertheless, the tea was floral and alpine.
I finally got to try the tea regarded as the Taiwanese president’s choice of oolong, so I took care to follow the directions carefully, and treat this tea with well time respect. I actually took written notes for this one.
So here it went:
Water just under boiling, 6 grams to my Manual Tea Infuser of 5 oz, or 125 ml.
20 sec initial rinse
Not too much in the aroma, distant florals. The taste is nice, having something like rice milk in flavor and creamy texture with a little of greenness to it. The pectin maybe? Otherwise, some florals coming up like honeysuckle and perhaps hyacinth.
The leaves themselves had a ripe fruit smell like pineapple before I refilled the vessel with hotwater. It had me looking forward to the future.
Lilac smell, not too much taste, so I let it cool down. Tasting after letting it sit for a little bit, intense CREAM notes, lilac, lime hint, maybe something like cucumber, and a clementine finish with a lovely and silky mouthfeel.
More cool down made the tea a little softer.
20 sec brew
Fuller flavor with a sweet lilac smell almost bordering on lavender. This steep had a bit of an fresh evergreen note with a long lasting floral finish as well. The leaves definitely opened up this time, and as it cooled down, more fruity notes popped up. It was something between pineapple and asian pear, but it was not nearly as ripe as before. It was almost like a pineapple that was a hair to young to cut, almost white in color. More cucumber flavor and texture in the cool down.
Before brewing, the leaves had an asparagus like smell.
25 second brew
Great nuanced aroma, more lilac, and an almost breeze like presence through evergreen forests before the ocean. The flavor was sweet touching on brown sugar, but more like agave. There was a floral explosion of lilac, lavender, hyacinth, and honeysuckle. I’m surprised I did not taste osmanthus.
25 sec again
The last steep was a little heavier than I wanted, so I went with a lighter approach. It was still generally the same: creamy, floral, lime, cucumber in that order.
30 second brew
Pine, more fruit notes like honeydew and light coconut milk in the texture. A little bit more nectary.
The next three more brews were pretty much the same in flavor edging on a fruitier profile towards the last steep. I got a fuller body of flavor giving me some magnolia finally, and something milky like iris. It was unctuous overall, and the last few brews were quite sweet and surprisingly my favorite.
I was going to make this my 1000th note, but I was a little disappointed with this one despite its longevity and rich mouthfeel. It was without a doubt an excellent tea with host of nuances, but I paid nearly a dollar per gram for this tea and would have liked a more forward flavor. This might change the next and perhaps last time I drink it, but I was expecting more power with the same sophistication I got since I’ve had other Lishans that were just as finessed and flavorful for cheaper. I know I am being brutal to an exceptional tea, but I’ve had better. Perhaps I do not appreciate this tea as much because it is more subtle. I do, however, still recommend it. I got this tea for the sake of experiencing it, and I am glad that I did it once, and I also know that this tea could have been much more expensive anyway.
I had the opportunity to try this one in a new drinking vessel, a lovely easy clay gaiwan my Aunt sent. I was able to isolate the flavors of this Cuifeng because of it, and enjoyed this tea all the better. I think that the vessel is super small, not exceeding three ounces, perhaps less. I just used enough leaves to fill it up.
So breaking it up, I brewed this starting off with 20 sec. Not to much except coriander and sugarcane, albeit sweet and crystalline. Next was fifteen, and immensely sweet. Brown sugar, lilac, more coriander. Third was 20, and immense lilac and lavender. Four was as lovely as three, being creamier and more lavender like. Five was surprising: cedar. Yes, cedar or something spruce like and sugarcane. Six at 40 sec cucumber, and something vaguely fruity, and hyacinth. Seven-no idea, maybe 50 sec, osmanthus. Eight-one minute or more-rose. Nine- I do not know other than green oolong or cucumber, maybe mineral. A bit of a minty mouthfeel at the back of my throat. Lovely either way. Ten after five minutes: custard, but then mineral water with florals, nutmeg, and lemon hints.
The tea is still going, and it is my favorite of my Tillerman order. This is the owners favorite, and hopefully the power of suggestion is not a cause of my preference. I am going to try the others in this vessel to see how they do in my vessel. Hopefully, I’ll be able to isolate the individual flavors as I did with this one for them. I did not get the “spice” that the owner describes, but the spruce note was awesome. It is a little pricey, but not bad for a good quality Li Shan. A part of me preferred this one to the other Li Shan, nevermind that one is more fruity overall.
This is a very easy drinker, and something that I can see experienced drinkers and newer drinkers enjoying.
Not a bad Lishan. I did not quite get the pine notes that were described in the smell, but I got a nice evergreen smell with a little bit of brown sugar and nutmeg. Much of the same could go for the tasting notes yesterday. It was not as fruity as other Lishans I’ve had, but it was certainly sweet with some great nuances in the viscous texture gong fu. The brown sugar, nutmeg, and osmanthus notes were fairly nice and welcoming. It was very soft overall, and I will write more about it in the future since my time right now is kinda limited.
I did this one in my new gaiwan gong fu, and it just kept on delivering. The texture each time was milky and ever floral with some of the apple notes and a vast majority of liquid lilac custard ones. Later steeps were a little fruitier, more akin to mango or a sweeter apple variety like fuji or honey crisp. I actually think I’m on steep twelve right now making this a great tea for your buck at $15 for 2 oz with free shipping. I’ve had other Alishans at the same price that did not quite deliver as much.
I should write more about this one, but I will keep it simple until I find more original adjectives to describe this tea. I got 8 great infusions out of this one, and thank heavens it was an Alishan that had some desserty notes to its back bone. I got this one because I knew it would not be subtle, and like Dave wrote, this is a good converter tea. Drinking this easy beauty was like drinking floral custard, with some nice fruity accents like asian pear and honey crisp apples. There was some lilac, but the florals were a little bit sunnier and more tropical than that note alone. Looks like I’ll have to take my time with it. But hey, this is a tea that I have zero complaints about for its price point.
I gotta be honest; Charissa did a much better review of this one in the 2017 Spring Harvest. I got a lot of pine and sweet corn notes with this one, more so than peach until the later steeps. It is buttery, but more akin to buttercream. I was trying to figure out the floral in the third steeps aroma, and it was certainly tullip. Yes, I did gong fu it properly this morning using the 20 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 35 sec, 40 sec so far occasionally bordering on flash brews, but I am able to pin point the complexity and get more yield out of the tea. Never underestimate a good gaiwan.
I am so glad I placed a mega Gaoshan order with Tillerman, and I can safely recommend their green oolong selection for their price point and their free shipping policy for all U.S. orders. I did not regret a singe one of these samples, and I highly recommend using a smaller gaiwan and serving set to get the most out of them. Still leave some room for the babies. These teas also work well in a French Press albeit for western, and technically speaking gong fu if you are super precise.
As for me ranking the teas out of the order, this one is one of my favorites. I prefer the Cuifeng ever so slightly, but I can easily see myself coming back to this one if I am in the mood for it. I also appreciate that I had the opportunity to drink a gaoshan that does not come from the Ali and Li mountains. I also liked this one a little more than the Ali Shan, never mind I deeply enjoyed that one’s longevity. Intermediate drinkers might get more out of this one although it is a very easy gaoshan introduction for newer drinkers. In the end, yes, try this one.
This is the 2018 Spring Version that I am backlogging, and I was quite pleased with it. I do not think that I’ve had tea from this mountain before, but the second I saw “peach” in the notes, I knew to get this one.
And I also need to write another note on this because my description is going to be limited. As usual, I improvised the brewing in accordance to the intensity of the aroma and smell with a 10 sec rinse. These gradually opened up, but the scent was similar to blossoms. It was creamy, vaguely fruity, and green. Well, the color of the tea has a little bit of a gold hue to it making it somewhat darker than the other greens I’ve drank which makes me like this one more. The same could be said for the taste of the rinse. It was light, but had a great accent of flavor telling me this would be good. The first and second steeps were the best, starting off creamy vanilla, then going into a great peach note ending in a the slight spice note amidst the buttery Gaoshan body. The second steeps aftertaste had a more pronounced cinnamon note that I would have expected from the Dong Ding, but it was very nice. The later steeps were much the same with the nice peachy note becoming stronger with a nice dryness that picked up especially in the latter steeps six and the final seven after 5 minutes.
The only complaint that I had about this one was the mouthfeel. The flavor was perfect and the viscosity was good, but the texture was thin despite the coating I got. I will brew it again with a more precise temperature, but otherwise, this is something that I could see myself getting. It is fruity enough for a new comer and a great standard for a gaoshan. I gotta say, though, that the peach and spice notes kinda made it standout from the many Goashans I’ve had which are usually floral and buttery. Here’s to the next time I write about this.
Better texture and more vanilla notes along with some Gaoshan Green Sugarcane. This makes me happy. So in the end, I recommend this one to fruity Gaoshan Lovers. It is a little bit pricy, but it is very flavorful with its own nuances.
Not a bad light roast. This was the first I sampled of the Tillerman teas, and I was pleased. The notes online describe nutmeg and cinnamon in the notes, but I did not get those until the third steep after 50 sec gong fu. I was not super precise in my brewing, but I did get a 10 sec rinse in, 30 sec, 45, 50, one minute and two minutes. The first steep was vaguely floral with an orchid note, but definitely buttery and oddly drying. The second steep was much more pronounced having an overall walnut like flavor, even having a bit of dry film in the mouthfeel like a shell which was likely from the light roast. The orchid was more in the smell that time, but it was nice with a bit of a smoky aftertaste. The third steep was the best starting off with an oily butteriness that went directly into a higher floral mid sip, having a vanilla hint, but ending with a spicy nutmeg note. This was good. There was more nutmeg and roasted vegetal notes in the last two steeps making me a little bored.
I liked this one, but I am a little curious about it western. It might be better with heavier leaves gong fu, but my 14 gram sample is not super impressive to say the least, so western might be the way to go. This is daily drinker tea, and it would make a very good one because the roast is very nicely balanced with the florals in the tea. I might rate this higher, but for now, it’s an 85. I think this is more of a fall tea anyway, but I could drink it again and be totally wrong.
So in my opinion the Dong Ding is purchase worthy. I just finished a session with it and I think I will buy a couple of ounces of it.
The front and center of this tea is a perfume type of flavor. The type of perfume that you taste and smell simultaneously that bears some cinnamon and nutmeg in it. It is sweet which balances out the perfume and supports the spice. There is a slight smokiness and a little nuttiness. It has some complexity but in an everything works together kind of a way. Quite enjoyable
This review is for the Spring 2017 Gaoshan.
This Gaoshang is great quality. The flavor is buttery, fresh corn, pine, tulips, and daisies. I got 9 infusions and the leave expanding into giant monsters as wide as my palm.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/spring-2017-organic-chingjin-gaoshan-oolong-tillerman-tea/
This is the Summer 2016 Oriental Beauty.
This OB tastes very competition style. It is sweet, light, and very floral. The floral and oxidation buzzes together to a peachy like flavor. Later infusions get woodsy, sweet orange, and a bit dry in texture. I got 8 infusions.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/tillerman-tea-oolongs-tea-review/ along with 2 other Tillerman Tea oolongs.
Ben and I play a fun game, while he is at work either he or I will pick some random subject and I will send him a long winded ramble on the subject. Usually, it is science or history related since that is my specialty, but sometimes it is something totally random. Today it was all about Shocked Quartz, a very fascinating form of quartz where the rock is deformed from impact, usually from space rocks meeting the ground in a dramatic fashion, but also from nuclear blasts too. Just looking at the rock, it looks like any other quartz, but if you toss it under a microscope you see the difference, Planar Deformation Features, aka stripes (really easy definition, I am pretty sure I am making scientists cringe) which kinda look like the patterns in some of my teacups’ glaze.
Geeking out of rocks aside, it is time for tea! Today I am looking at Tillerman Tea’s Dong Ding Spring 2016, an unroasted Oolong grown from the Qing Xin cultivar, yes dear friends, this is an unroasted Dong Ding, something I rarely drink. Not sure why, but my brain draws a blank and always thinks Dong Ding is roasted, like it just magically comes from the tea bush perfectly roasted…which is a bit silly. I rarely have the stuff, so it is a pleasant escape from the norm, especially since the other teas I have had from Tillerman Tea I have really enjoyed. The first thing I noticed is that those are some big leaves, the second thing I noticed is wow, that is sweet! Strong notes of chestnut, sesame seeds, sweet oat cakes (ever had British flapjacks, because if so that is what this tea starts off smelling like) with an accompaniment of sugarcane, spicebush blossoms, and tulip tree flowers. Gently floral and nutty sweetness makes for a happy nose.Into my ever hungry for tea Xishi Yixing teapot the leaves go to steep and start their unfurling. Notes of sweet yeasty bread, freshly cooked oats, sesame halva, spicebush, lily blossoms, and a hint of very sweet tulip tree blossoms. The aroma of the wet leaves is almost intoxicating with its sweetness! The liquid has a starchy, yeasty sweetness of freshly baked farm bread drizzled with honey, sitting next to it on this imaginary table is a dish of sesame halva (a wonderful dessert made from sesame and honey) and a blooming bouquet of spicy Asiatic lilies. I feel as though the aroma is very transportive in its nature.
Whoa! That first steep is thick and buttery! I think I need a minute, too distracted by texture to focus on anything else. Ok, I have had my moment to be in thick tea bliss, the taste is quite simple while intense, now this sounds odd but bear with me. The notes present are halva, spicebush, lily flowers, and buttery yeasty bread. These notes are so distinct and strong that even if there are other lesser notes they are powerfully overshadowed by the intense primary notes. For the aftertaste the lily and gentle spicebush note lingers around for quite a while, and I feel like the mouthfeel sticks around for quite a while too!
The golden liquid is so thick that I think calling is both luscious and viscous is totally reasonable, it is so buttery and dense! The taste sends away some of the nuttier tones and brings in more floral, keeping the spicebush and lilies and adding distant orchid and tulip tree blossoms. There is a slight yeasty quality to the finish that dances with the lilies at the aftertaste. It is almost hard to pay attention to the taste because the mouthfeel is so outstanding.
This tea just goes and goes…and goes. Towards the end of steeping the leaves have expanded so much that I can’t fit my lid on my teapot, they want to escape! The viscous mouthfeel also sticks around forever, when the taste has faded by steep 14 (I told you it sticks around) the mouthfeel is still buttery. I was very pleased with this tea, this little adventure out of my usual roasted Dong Ding safety net and into a greener pasture, the taste and longevity were great, but that mouthfeel was something else!
With luck, as of tonight, my Christmas shopping will be done. This will be the first time I have completed Christmas shopping early and didn’t make gifts, it feels incredibly refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, I love making gifts, but every year I get myself worked up, then I burn out, and then I can’t go back to that craft for a while. After almost burning myself out of painting Ben put his foot down and said that this year we are going the route of commerce. Granted, I think part of the reason is because as soon as the Kickstarter is fulfilled he will have a giant five-headed dragon as big as one of my cats he will want me to paint for him…so priorities!
Today I am looking at Tillerman Tea’s Muzha TieGuanYin Spring 2016, I adore this style of tea, in a way it is the tea that pushed me from drinking junky bags as ‘just a warm drink’ to appreciating tea as an art. I was a teenager when I first discovered it and went through a bit of an adventure from that point to now, but whenever I am given to opportunity to drink a Muzha TGY it is a fantastic nostalgia. It is, also, a perfect tea for the encroaching chillness of autumn! The aroma of the dry leaves is wonderfully roasted, strong notes of walnuts, woodiness, char, pipe tobacco, acorns, and baking bread. Honestly, the blend of walnuts and sweet baking bread reminds me of a slice of freshly toasted walnut bread, with a hint of black walnut along with regular walnuts.
The aroma of a steeped Muzha TGY reminds me of sitting in a personal library, complete with comfy leather chair, the old smell of slightly fruity pipe tobacco (or grilled peaches), an old wooden desk…and a slice of walnut bread. The nutty and roasted gentle char notes blend well with the sweet fruity notes, it is a strong roast but not smoky at all, so if you like a strong roast but not smoke this is a good choice. The liquid smells much like a delightful walnut cookie with a hint of brown sugar and grilled peaches, the char is not as strong in the liquid, but the notes present are thick and heavy, reminding me of sinking into a comfy chair after a long day.
The first steep starts smooth and round in the mouth, coating the inside of my mouth but finishing with a sharpness that keeps the senses alert. It starts sweet, with notes of walnut bread, freshly toasted bread, brown sugar, and a touch of distant peach. There is a hint of char that reminds me of charred oak wood and a touch of maple syrup, the aftertaste is a lingering sweetness reminiscent of toasted walnuts. I find roasted teas to be very comforting as well as delicious, and this tea is a perfect combination of both aspects.
The first steep was strong in both aroma and taste, but the next steep increases in strength and richness, which makes sense as the leaves unfurl but at times surprises me with the intensity. The mouthfeel is very smooth, no finishing sharpness this time, just smooth and thick, with a touch of dryness along with the aftertaste. For this steep the char makes itself known, like burnt oak wood and grilled peaches alongside walnut shells, like a campfire the next day, no lingering smoke but a healthy and tasty amount of char. This steep is not as sweet as the first one, instead showcasing the nuttiness and char with just a hint of sweetness, and that walnut note is fantastic, I adore walnuts, even the subtle bitter quality you get in black walnuts, I think their taste is complex and I adore when it shows up as a note in tea. The aftertaste is sweet, in fact I would say it is the sweetest part of this tea, with a brown sugar note that lingers with a hint of black walnut.
I found that this tea did not fully open and release the oomph of its taste until the fourth steep, steep three was more intense than the second, and the fourth the same, but after that it stayed stable for several steeps before it began the transition to fading. This is a fantastic example of a Muzha TGY, definitely the best I have had in a long time, it reminded me why I fell in love with it and by extension high quality tea all those years ago.
I think I might finally be done with Ark for good. They had promised that this year Xbox was also getting the Halloween event, not only would I be able to enjoy the spooky atmosphere, I could finally have an army of skeleton dinosaurs and zombie dodos, I was so unbelievably hype. Today with the release of Fear Evolved on PC they announced that nope, sorry, no fun for Xbox, again. I love dinosaurs, I love the concept of Ark, but I am so done with the incompetent development team, the constant broken promises, and the frequent broken game. I know it is in pre-alpha and expect a lot of bugs, but really it is the constant saying they are going to do something and just not doing it, I can only take so much and it seems a lack of Skelesaurs is the straw that broke the Rex’s back. Probably I will try playing again when the game has actually been released, til then, I guess it is just Minecraft for me.
Ok, clearly I need something to cheer my up, and I have just the thing, because I discovered a new favorite tea. Tillerman Tea’s Bai Hao (Oriental Beauty) 2016 is by far the best I have had, and I have had quite a few Bai Hao (or whatever name you wish to give them, it has several) and while many I have enjoyed I frequently feel they fall flat, I love the flavor notes that are present but wish they were more intense or lasted longer, so usually I just end up going for this tea’s cousin Gui Fei. If you put Tillerman Tea’s Bai Hao next to my favorite Gui Fei, chances are I would pick the Bao Hao, and here is the lowdown. First off, that aroma, it is super sweet, notes of apricot, pumpkin, acorn squash, peanuts, carrot cake, and magnolia nectar waft out of the leaves as I bury my face into them. Usually I find Bai Hao to be super autumnal, largely because it blends notes of squash and pumpkin with autumn leaves, this one lacks the autumn leaf note but still captures that autumnal bliss with pumpkin and carrot cake. Yes carrot cake, it is autumnal because it was often my birthday cake and I am an autumn baby. I had such a hard time pulling my nose out of the leaves, I think I could have sniffed them for hours, but I was thirsty and my kettle was ready to do its job.
Into my Bai Hao teapot the leaves go, yes I have a Bai Hao pot because of course I do. The aroma of the steeped leaves is something else! Notes of magnolia, gardenia, and orange blossoms blend with carrot cake, pumpkin, and acorn squash. It is very sweet and aromatic, again I had a hard time pulling my nose away. The aroma of the liquid is amazing, notes of honey, magnolia, pumpkin, acorn squash, caramelized sugar, and just intense sweetness. The magnolia notes are so awesome, I love that flower so much so it is much appreciated.
You know, this tea is almost too good to write about, I don’t feel I can do it justice! The smooth and thick mouthfeel is joined by a sweetness that washes over my mouth. Notes of orange blossom and magnolia start the tasting out, then it moves to a more earthy and rich pumpkin and squash, both drizzled with melted brown sugar. Towards the finish a gentle autumn leaves and golden raisins blend with a delicate lingering floral note. All the notes are intense, and the aftertaste sticks around for a long time, I found myself getting lost in this tea very easily.
Honestly this is one of the hardest teas I have written about, the notes present are not at all hard to identify, they are familiar and very clear, but trying to accurately represent the level of intensity is where the difficulty is. It transcends mere taste and mouthfeel and moves into something more like trying to describe why two pieces of art which are similar can have very different emotional impacts to a person who has seen neither. I want to sit down to a session with this tea and share it with everyone, but since I can’t do that I have to try to convey how good it is with words. This steep increases richness and the notes of orange blossom, peaches, and apricots. Like an exotic dessert of stewed fruits in orange blossom water, reminiscent of Persian food. The notes of squash and pumpkin are still present and wonderful, as is the autumn leaves at the end. Like the first steep the aftertaste takes a while to fade.
I have a confession, Tillerman Teas sent me a generous sized sample, and it is already gone. I got a whopping nine steeps out of this tea, but I loved it so much that when the leaves were done I started over again with a new pile of leaves. Then the next day I pulled my larger bug bitten oolong pot out and brewed up the rest to share with Ben, who absolutely loved it. He totally supported my plan to get 2oz of the stuff after holiday shopping is done and I can go back to indulging in tea shopping! Honestly if I could afford it I would buy the largest amount the store was offering and drink it in enormous quantities. This tea continues getting richer and sweeter until steep seven where the strongest notes are pumpkin and autumn leaves with a gentle sweetness, but even at the end that sweet aftertaste lingers.