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Recent Tasting Notes
I found this tea in one of my overflow drawers and felt it was overdue a try. Steeping in my ManaTea steeper and a large mug. (Easy steeping while I cross stitch).
This tea bares a wooden and smokey scent in both the raw and steeped forms.
Flavour is smokey with some astringency and a sweet after taste. Wood, leather and burnt bread notes.
It’s actually nicer than I expected. Like a mild Lapsang with a sweet finish. Very autumnal!
Well, I guess I can’t claim that I had an unproductive day anymore since I literally just powered through over twenty tasting notes that I had backlogged from the week…
Phew; that took so long. It feels good to be starting fresh, though.
This was a cup that I had at work a few days ago; I found it less tasty than the first time I had it. It was definitely a little bit astringent and really woody tasting, and the combo made me feel a little bit like I kept licking a block of wood in between drinking cups of nutty, malty oolong tea with undertones of plum. Would have been nice, if it weren’t for that “wood licking” imagery…
Acquired this one awhile ago from Starfevre and just not getting around to trying it…
It took me a REALLY long time to place what the dry leaf smelled like, but it had this very intensely familiar aroma tinged with nostalgia. I knew it smelled a bit like chocolate to me; not super high quality, but more like the waxy kind used in candies and such. However there was definitely something distinctly “other” and that was something I couldn’t put my finger on. Finally, a few days ago, it smacked me right in the face. The tea smells exactly like Glosette’s Raisins, with like maybe just a couple of the Glosette’s peanuts tossed in as well? I actually hated BOTH of those as a kid, but as an adult have developed a deeper appreciate for them. I still prefer the peanuts, though. Raisins are kind of icky…
Steeped up this loses a lot of that waxy chocolate/raisin sort of quality though and whats left is much more of a sweet but very nutty/toasty and mineral note heavy oolong flavour with an undertone of prune and stonefruit like flavour. I find it interesting that those are the fruit notes I’m tasting, given that there is actual fruit in this blend – and it’s something COMPLETELY different from prune/stonefruit. Perhaps whisps of chocolate at the top of the sip, but not anywhere close to the same way I was getting in the dry aroma of the leaf. It’s honestly somewhat medium to light bodied and not exactly bursting with flavour. Likely because it’s really old. The finish is a little bit metallic.
All in all, I’m still really enjoying it though – I like that darker oolong roastyness and nutty combo, and since I’ve been reading most of the afternoon it’s been quite comforting having something with this sort of profile to sip away at slowly.
This is a belated review of the 2016 harvest of this tea.
I’m having trouble formulating a thoughtful review of this tea because I adore it so much. It’s very reminiscent of Verdant’s Golden Fleece, but it’s a bit more approachable and comforting. If I wanted to treat myself or have an especially contemplative session I’d still reach for Golden Fleece, but this Jin Jun Mei is something I could see being closer to a daily drinker.
Every time I take a sniff of the aroma of this tea I catch something different: lemon, mushroom, wood, moss, jasmine, cinnamon, nutmeg, yeast, bread. The mouthfeel is slick and smooth with a medium body. Not nearly as thick and textured as Golden Fleece.
This is a tea where the scent very much matches the taste. Some infusions taste so strong of honey and lemon I’d swear I’d put some in after brewing the tea if I didn’t know better. The savory flavors of mushroom and bread are present in this tea, but less prominent than in Golden Fleece — they’re a nice counterbalance to the sweetness rather than trying to steal the show. The cinnamon and jasmine hints in the flavor are fleeting and accompanied by an even more fleeting hint of mint. Towards the end of the session a note minerality and creaminess arises to compliment and mellow the other flavors. I’ve had sessions where I leafed a bit heavier and got a chocolate note, but I’m actually preferring this lighter session that lets the other flavors sing.
I will note that the flavor of this tea needs to be appreciated when warm. I let the end of one cup go cold and it was very bland and unremarkable compared to the warm sips.
This tea also has a shocking staying power. I only used 3.8 grams in 4 oz of water for a gongfu session starting with a 6 second infusion and adding 3 seconds every time. Right now I’m on round 8 and haven’t needed to start pushing the increment beyond 3 seconds. (I’m curious to see how it holds up further, but I’m trapped under a sleeping cat I can’t bear to wake)
This is not a tea that I feel evolves much over a session. Given more sips I find more notes I hadn’t noticed before, but it feels less like the character of the tea has changed than my own perception has changed, given more time to explore what the tea is offering. I think in some ways this is a positive and why I could see it as a daily drinker — there’s a lot available in this tea, but I know what I’m getting from steep to steep.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Creamy, Honey, Jasmine, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Mint, Moss, Mushrooms, Nutmeg, Peppercorn, Smooth, Vanilla, Wood, Yeast
I’ve been rekindling my tea love and unearthing some of the long owned teas I have in the back of my cabinet. I started with some solid favorite genres of mine like roasted oolong and shu puerhs, but I want to see if maybe I can appreciate sheng in a way I couldn’t before. Finishing off this reserve club sample seems like as good a way to do it as any.
5 sec wash
1st steep, 5 sec: The wet leaf smells like what I tend to not like in sheng flavors — bitter vegetables, but there’s a smoky smell hiding behind it. The liquor smells much more promising. A bit doughy, sweet, and a hint of the hay in the back. The flavor is a surprisingly pleasant combination of baking spices and hay. The mouthfeel is delightfully thick and mouthwatering without being too astringent.
2nd, 7 sec: The smell is smokey and the flavor is quite bitter and vegetal. Very astringent. Maybe I overcooked this round? This is what I think of sheng tasting like and why I’ve never been able to get into it. I dumped this cup.
3rd, 7 sec: Still vegetal but a bit more mellow and with a little bit of sweet dough flavor hiding in there.
4th, 7 sec: Mildly vegetal, but not getting much depth beyond that. Perhaps my tastebuds are just not calibrated to appreciate sheng.
5th, 9sec: I’m getting something a little fruity here like wine grapes, but it gets quickly overwhelmed by the vegetal flavors again.
Well, I think I’m going to admit defeat with this tea. I had hoped that many years after my last sheng experience I’d have gotten to a point where I could appreciate them, but at least with this particular tea there was still not a lot there for me to enjoy.
Flavors: Fruity, Hay, Spicy, Vegetal
This is another one from my stash. I’m trying to break up the stash teas that I have at work a bit so you don’t constantly get the same ones in a row. I can taste a bit of the peppercorn and some kind of berry. I can also taste a bit of tulsi but it mixes well with the peppercorn taste so I almost missed it. Some sips have the chamomile taste on the finish but it’s light enough that I don’t mind.
Flavors: Berry, Peppercorn, Tulsi
Another sampler from Verdant. Their tasting notes are on point here. It has a rather savory flavor profile. It smells and tastes of steamed buns and sausage which sounds worse than it actually is. The malt is light and there’s a bit of cocoa. It’s more of a savory flavor than sweet. The taste wasn’t bad, but just not my style of black tea.
So this time I’m doing it without the leftover matcha in the cup. I’m working the night shift and the coolest thing was watching the owl and a tiny (baby?) skunk face off right in front of the door. Now for the tea I get a nice warm feeling from drinking it. I definitely taste oolong. I would probably taste more if I hadn’t burned my tongue in my impatience to drink it…
To be honest I made this in the same cup as my vanilla matcha from earlier. Some of the Madagascar Vanilla was still in there. I only had time to fill a bag and add some hot water before my break was over. With that in mind I’m not sure how long I acutally steeped it… Tastes yummy though.
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.