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Recent Tasting Notes
With the weather absolutely abysmal, I’ve been hiding inside most of the day. The heat and humidity here have been awful. Avoiding the sun, however, has allowed me plenty of time to catch up on chores and drink tea. Today I allowed myself the opportunity to try a new Dan Cong. I’m still very new to Dan Cong in general and I’m still figuring out what I like and what I think is good. This was my first Ya Shi, and while I liked it well enough, it had a few quirks that caught me off guard.
Naturally, I prepared this tea gongfu style. As usual, I kept my rinse short (no more than 8-10 seconds). After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted a unique combination of aromas that reminded me of cream, butter, violet, rose, tea flower, and ginseng. After the rinse, I began to detect damp grass, almond, anise, and gardenia. The first infusion displayed a powerful bouquet that allowed for the emergence of pomelo and mild ginger. In the mouth, I did not get the soapiness mentioned by at least one other reviewer. Instead, I discovered a light body and gentle notes of almond, damp grass, ginger, ginseng, tea flower, cream, butter, violet, and rose. Subsequent infusions briefly brought out the gardenia and pomelo on the palate, as well as touches of pomegranate, licorice, golden raisin, vanilla, hay, cashew, caraway seed, rye toast, candied lemon peel, and something distinctly vegetal that put me in mind of watercress. With each infusion, the minerality built and the stereotypical Dan Cong soapiness gradually appeared. The tea washed out fairly quickly, and by the time I got to the later infusions, the liquor was heavy on minerals, grass, cream, and butter underscored by ghostly herbal and nutty notes.
I am not sure I have any clue how to rate this tea. It was a little odd. I seemed to get more floral complexity, more graininess, and more herbal and vegetal characteristics than other reviewers, but I am not certain my breakdown of this tea even remotely comes close to passing muster. I found this to be an exceptionally difficult tea to describe. My lack of familiarity with Dan Cong oolongs no doubt also put me at a distinct disadvantage when it came to analyzing this tea. Right now it falls into a gray area for me. I didn’t dislike it, but it also didn’t blow me away. Once the floral aromas and flavors started to fade and I began to pick up more ginseng, licorice, anise, and caraway, I began to lose interest since I tend to dislike all of those things. In the end, I have to grade this one conservatively. Given my preferences, somewhere in the 75-78 range feels about right.
Flavors: Almond, Anise, Butter, Citrus, Cream, Fruity, Gardenias, Ginger, Grass, Hay, Herbs, Lemon, Licorice, Mineral, Nutty, Raisins, Rose, Rye, Toast, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet
The appearance of this tea’s leaves is really nice. Small, twisted black and furry golden leaves with a sweet malty scent. In a warm gaiwan, the scent leans more towards savory malt with some spices.
The liquor is floral, sweet, and heavy in the mouth. There’s some honey/sweet potato sweetness and it’s surprisingly full-bodied and moderately thick. It’s bitter in a way that reminds me of good coffee. It’s there but it rounds out the flavor really well. There’s also some light astringency on the tip of the tongue but it doesn’t detract from the overall flavor too much.
After 5 or so steeps, the sweet flavors begin to fade and the malt takes over. It’s still nice, but I wish the sweet notes had stuck around a bit longer. The thickness has continued to improve, however.
Another steep or two (now with boiling water to wring out whatever flavor’s left) and I think that’s it for these leaves. This is a good tea but I think you can do better for the price elsewhere.
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Sweet Potatoes, Thick
I don’t really feel like writing, but I need to put these notes down before I forget.
I’m always a little skeptical of Verdant’s descriptions because they are sometimes so out there. However, when comparing my notes to what they have described, there is usually one or two things that they have in common.
My notes for this tea included roast, grapefruit, wild funky flavor, and dark chocolate. Does that sound gross? It does to me, and that’s pretty much how the tea tasted. I think I need to stay away from fruity oolongs. I haven’t seemed to like them.
When I read Verdant’s descriptor “yuzu,” it hit me. I have never had a straight yuzu (the fruit) before, but I have had a yuzu honey tea. It tasted grapefruity and wild funky to me, so there you go. I was surprised to find chocolate as a descriptor because I thought I was crazy when I tasted it.
Anyway, not the tea for me.
2016 harvest. When I first read their description about this tea having notes reminiscent of steamed buns I was like, “Yeah, ok.” But actually, I can easily see that comparison now that I’m drinking it.
Very light bready flavor with some possible vanilla notes in there. This is not a “knock your socks off” type of tea. It is subtle and meant to be slowly savored.
I looked this tea up and apparently it translates to Beautiful Golden Eyebrows so that is pretty neat and I can see how that name came about. I mean, thin eyebrows, but I get it.
Overall this isn’t my favorite black tea but I;m glad to have tried this style and I think it makes for a good tea when you get to sit and savor the subtle flavors. I’m interested in tasting more teas in this style to see how they compare.
Flavors: Baked Bread
1.25 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped 5 minutes 15 seconds.
I know, I know: what’s with that criminally long steep time?
I got distracted.
Much longer, and the tea liquor might bite back with a soapiness. It does bite back a little, clinging to the tongue. But that’s okay, because it’s also offering florals and spices and fruit and some faint incense and …
A thickness, too, almost creamy. Ginseng notes.
A rewarding tea. I really like this one.
My favourite perfume in the world utilizes sandalwood and vanilla. Burberry Classic, in case you were wondering.
Jumped on the opportunity to buy a 15 Year Aged Tieguanyin because it listed sandalwood and vanilla as prominent notes. Also, being new to aged teas, it fascinates me that people are so patient as to store a bunch of leaves for as long as this.
I can’t imagine putting anything aside for fifteen years and thinking so far ahead for something in the physical realm. And I know there are teas and wines people keep for decades and decades.
Anyway, brewed this in my roasted TGY yixing and I’m really enjoying it. Part of the enjoyment is knowing how old it is, haha.
I always feel like I have to overbrew roasted TGY to bring out that fruity tang unique to this varietal. Does anyone else know what I mean? Otherwise, it can taste a bit like water-logged wood to me.
The raisin note is quite enjoyable here, even though I don’t like raisins, the sweetness level is perfect with everything else going on. Also lists a marzipan note, but I haven’t tried marzipan.
I found this to be a worthwhile purchase.
I got my kettle today!!!!!! http://bonavitaworld.com/products/10l-digital-variable-temperature-gooseneck-kettle — This one! IM SO EXCITED TO PLAY WITH IT! It’s so beautiful, I love it.
Anyways, this tea!
Very roasty woody aroma, with a jumble of spices and a hint of cocoa or baking chocolate on steep one, with the second steep aroma bringing in deep floral that I want to say is violet? But I dont know my flowers, that’s just what I immediately thought of, so maybe that’s what it is. It brews up a pale mustard yellow, and a taste that makes me reminiscent for a moment of vanilla ice cream. Of course, there’s mostly roasty chocolate notes, with the wood and earth from the aroma, but I also get notes of rice, orange zest, florals, vanilla, cranberry, lime zest, coconut, cream, and grapefruit. This is some pretty complex tea. Also I’m on like steep 5, and I feel extremely tea drunk already. It’s very thick and creamy with a bit of astringency and some bitterness (which may or may not be my inexperience brewing dancong showing its face), further notes of asian pear. It has an amazing bittersweetness thing going on, I’m also getting a hint of sour candy, like sour keys.
I didn’t really notice any other flavours past steep 6 or 7. The creaminess steeps out shortly after, then slowly the roasty chocolate, earth and wood which dominated the taste begin to fade, though never are completely gone, leaving a nice, mostly fruity (apple/pear), lightly astringent, still very nice and drinkable tea. I absolutely love this one.
No rating because this is my third ever dancong.
I did a 7-8 second rinse (woulda been shorter but I’m not used to the new kettle, it pours slow) and then I used 100C water for the first steep, 99 for the second and 98 from there on out. I’d estimate I did about 5g of leaf in my 120ml gaiwan, but I don’t have a scale so I don’t know. It was filled about 2/3 of the way to the top
Flavors: Apple, Candy, Chocolate, Cocoa, Coconut, Cranberry, Cream, Floral, Grapefruit, Lime, Orange Zest, Pear, Rice, Roasted, Toast, Vanilla, Violet, Wood
Okay so I have very little experience with Dancong, and this was the first one I drank from the august 2016 club box, which I tried to do at like 90 degrees, which.. really went pretty bad, but then I did a whole bunch of reading about brewing dancongs and now I’m trying again and this went much better.
At first, I get a lot of apple and pear, mixed with woody earthy cocoa, honey, lychee, there’s a hint of a sort of rainforesty-wet earthy taste .. I think the Chinese have a word for that taste but I don’t know what it is.
It’s interesting because the tea’s aroma is very different from its taste, like it smells like a da hong pao with the toasty dark roasty rock oolong flavour, but the taste is sweet and fruity with honey. I can’t really detect much other than honey and lychee now, with the toasty roasty aroma, maybe a bit of milky chocolate, hints of some other fruit I can’t quite place.. kinda like pear plus orange.. plus uh.. cranberry or raspberry or .. blackberry.. uh well anyways,
It has a really satisfying body, full but not too thick, with a slight bitterness and slight astringency, even a slight acidity. I think I could get really into dancongs. This is great.
It’s not reasonable for me to rate this, cause I have no expectations or baselines. Really tasty though :)
Flavors: Apple, Chocolate, Cocoa, Fruity, Honey, Lychee, Pear, Roasted, Toast, Wet Earth
As those of you who read my reviews know, I am a huge fan of Verdant Tea’s He Family Collection of teas. These teas originate from Laoshan in Shandong Province, and at least in my opinion, comprise an astoundingly consistent and tasty collection of green, black, and oolong teas. While the oolongs tend to be my favorites, the black teas are not far behind. This particular black tea is is actually the first picking of the He family’s regular Laoshan Black from 2015. I picked up a 5 g sample of this tea as part of a recent Verdant order. I wanted to see how it compared to the 2015 Autumn Laoshan Black I enjoyed so much.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. For this session, I followed Verdant’s suggested brewing method to the letter. I initially steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this infusion up with 10 additional infusions, with an increase of 8 seconds per infusion. The steep times were as follows: 10 seconds, 18 seconds, 26 seconds, 34 seconds, 42 seconds, 50 seconds, 58 seconds, 66 seconds, 74 seconds, 82 seconds, and 90 seconds.
After the initial infusion, the liquor showed a clear, dark amber in the cup. I easily detected a rich aroma of cocoa underscored by cream, toasted almond, and black cherry. In the mouth, delicate notes of cocoa, cream, malt, caramel, toasted almond, and black cherry washed across the palate. Subsequent infusions saw the malt, cream, and almond notes increase in strength, as well as hints of minerality begin to emerge. The last 3 infusions heavily emphasized mineral, caramel, and cream flavors, though the tea never fully lost its nutty, chocolaty character.
Honestly, I am a little perplexed by some of the ridiculously high ratings for this tea. I just can’t seem to muster as much enthusiasm for it as a number of previous reviewers. It’s not that this is a bad tea or anything, it just seems a little bland to me. Understand that this is coming from not only a huge fan of Verdant’s Laoshan teas, but also someone who adored the regular 2015 Autumn Laoshan Black. While this tea is smoother than the regular Laoshan Black, it is neither as deep nor as complex. Again, it’s not bad, though I was expecting so much more from it.
Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Malt, Mineral
No notes yet. Add one?
Flavors: Butter, Fruity, Vegetal
I decided to brew this western style, as I didn’t feel like running up and down the stairs all day refilling my tiny gaiwan.
The first steeping of this tea tasted predominantly of corn. As a matter of fact, my husband said that it tasted like the water you have at the bottom of a corn on the cob container at a buffet. While it WAS very similar to drinking corn water, for me, it was a pleasant corn water. There were also some hints of beans and hay in there. It kind of reminded me of a very light gyokuro at times.
The second steeping was completely different. So much so that I wondered if I didn’t accidentally brew another tea. The corn was almost completely gone, and it was replaced with a roasted barley sort of flavor. Then as the brew cooled, that toastiness started coming back.
The third steeping was a completely different color from the first two, and I am starting to wonder if this tea has multiple personality disorder. It’s all hay with a little bit of mushroom. As it cools, it tastes oddly like cucumbers.
Flavors: Cucumber, Kettle Corn, Mushrooms, Roasted Barley
Old sample from Tea Sipper. Thank You!
I think this has lost most of it’s flavor, since it pretty much tastes like a smooth woody rooibos to be. Kind of a shame since it sounds like it was one a very interesting tea. Every reviewer seems to have had a different experience with this tea, which is interesting. I’d try it again if I had the chance.
This was from a swap with Zennen. Thank you!
I picked this up before I discovered that I don’t like Tulsi, but figured I should still give it a try. The dry leaf smells strongly of Tulsi and Pepper. It’s a little intimidating smelling. The first sip is savory and spicy with a hint of sour fruitiness. It’s not nearly as intense as the smell of the leaf would lead you to expect, which is actually a relief. I’ve never had Chartreuse so I can’t tell how accurate the flavor is, but it’s interesting. I don’t know that I’ll want more than this cup of it, but it’s definitely interesting to try!
Finally broke into this tea which I’ve had for quite a few months and haven’t even tried. Unfortunately , I was busy when I drank it and can’t leave a detailed review. I know it was really chocolatey and it went down pretty fast. :-) I’ll try to leave a more detailed review for next time but I do know I loved it!
This is a dark, dark black tea, pitch black shiny black small leaves. the broth is nice orange/brown and the flavor actually to me is more of a strong rock big red robe than most blacks. this one is fruity with a bite, caramel and savory fruit notes like plum and blackberry with a brown sugary roasted chestnut flavors as well. but there is a sharpness to it that’s very clean, almost mineral which vanishes quickly leaving the fruit notes on the palate. increased brewing time as usual in later steeps
After trying this gong fu style and not being blown away by it, I tried this again, western style. Much more to my taste. Brewed it 2:30 at 180 degrees. Almost a buttery mouthfeel, light grassy notes with floral overtones. Delicious.
I’m using this tea to try gong fu style for the first time. All steeps at 205 degrees with 3.5 grams of tea and ~4-6 ounces of water.
1st (30 seconds): Light-bodied with floral notes.
2nd (45 seconds): Still light-bodied but with more vegetable overtones. Just barely sweet. Almost silky in my mouth.
3rd (60 seconds): The liquor has a more intense color, which I find more aesthetically pleasing than the pale liquors. The aroma is stronger and more grassy. The flavor is more grassy and full-bodied. Of the three so far, I like this one best. It’s just a more satisfying cup of tea.
4th (75 seconds): The liquor is about the same as the 3rd steeping, and the aroma is similar to the 3rd but a bit weaker. Flavor is a bit weaker than the 3rd.
Conclusion: The third steeping was by far the best. I should either tweak my gong fu style, or stick with western style.
Thanks for this in your sale, TheLastDodo! I thought this sounded decent, as the base gets a high rating, but I’m not sure I like the base or the blend. I usually like smokey teas but this one isn’t for me. It’s not too smokey but the black tea itself is light. The other ingredients weren’t very noticeable but otherwise quite odd and didn’t seem to play well together. Hmm. Maybe I just don’t get these ingredients.
Steep #1 // 2 tsps // few minutes after boiling // 3 min steep