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84

5g leaf, 12 oz cup of hot (but not boiling water

Steep 1: 45 seconds
Lightly sweet, very light roast (but no char or bitterness associated with baked and heavily roasted oolongs). Some floral vegetal notes. I can definitely taste/smell orchid. Slight tannin and bitter flavours in the aftertaste, slightly drying in the mouth.

Steep 2: 1 minute
Sweeter, lighter, almost no toasted flavour (more like a jade oolong)

Flavors: Floral, Orchid, Sweet, Toasted, Vegetal

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79

I received this as an extra with a tea order from What-Cha. It’s a pleasant oolong with a slightly nutty smell and taste. I’m not sure if there is a name for it but I have found that there are oolongs that are a bit closer to green tea and some that are a bit closer to black tea. This one is closer to a black tea. It is not at all astringent. I think this would be an easy tea for anyone to drink. It’s very approachable.

Flavors: Nutty, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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88

This is a sweet and medium bodied tea, whose smell reminds me of baked figs and honey a bit. There are some notes of cocoa and also melon in the aftertaste. The taste is balanced with a good depth.

Overall, Red Tiger is a great fruity oolong that is also very affordable. Highly recommended!

Flavors: Cocoa, Fig, Fruity, Honey, Melon

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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70

(Gaiwan, 30 sec infusions for first 4, +5 sec following, 13 steeps total)
Very interesting – had no idea what to expect! Wet leaves smell lightly toasted, touch of butter & starch. Pale yellow brew to start. Steeps 1-2 are delicately savory, buttery green vegetable flavors with just a little sweetness. Not getting “rice” so much as general toasty starchy notes. Interesting to see the bright green “sticky rice” leaves open up while oolong leaves are still fairly tight. Steep 3 has tiny additions of bitterness and dry finish. Steeps 4-7 get a light floral aroma, though taste isn’t really there yet. Steeps 8-11 gradually lose flavor, especially buttery notes. Final steeps 12-13 get a slight boost of floral aroma and flavor, but all other flavors are receding.

Next day followed pkg directions for western brewing; had most of the same flavors as gongfu, but not as distinct. Pleasant and generally comforting.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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87

I think I am long past the point where I need to take a break on some of these backlogged reviews from May and June and move on to some of the teas I have consumed more recently. This review marks my decision to do just that. I have made it no secret that I have been trying more white teas recently in order to gain more of an appreciation of them. To that end, I bought quite a few white teas at the end of 2017 and earlier this year. I wanted to try a range of white teas, and I have been slowly getting around to working my way through a number of them. Interestingly enough, I ended up with several identical teas from different vendors. This white tea (a Feng Qing tea from Yunnan Province) is the same tea from the same harvest (spring 2017) as the Silver Needles White Tea of Feng Qing * Spring 2017 that I purchased from Yunnan Sourcing. What-Cha and Yunnan Sourcing recommended different water temperatures and preparation methods, however, so I decided to try the two teas back-to-back using an identical preparation method (gongfu), but with different water temperatures (What-Cha’s recommended temperature vs. the temperature I use for Yunnan Sourcing white teas).

Obviously, I prepared this tea gongfu style. I literally just said that at the end of the preceding paragraph. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf buds emitted aromas of hay, straw, marshmallow, sugarcane, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of wood, malt, and lemon. The first infusion then added aromas of vanilla, dried leaves, and cinnamon. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, hay, straw, sugarcane, marshmallow, and eucalyptus balanced by impressions of wood, malt, and vanilla. A hint of maple candy appeared on the swallow. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn creamy, buttery, somewhat nutty, and spicier/more herbal. Cinnamon and dried leaves finally emerged in the mouth alongside new notes of minerals, camphor, tree bark, oats, apricot, fennel, nectar, honeydew, date, peanut, and cantaloupe. The final few infusions emphasized lingering mineral, oat, cream, butter, eucalyptus, and wood notes, though I could still occasionally note fleeting hints of honeydew, straw, peanut, and sugarcane in the background.

This was a very satisfying white tea, but I wish I had purchased more than a 10g sample pouch so I could have tried preparing it with a lower water temperature. I generally go with a water temperature around 176-180 F for Yunnan white teas, and I since I went with a temperature of 176 F for the Yunnan Sourcing tea, I would have liked to have tried this one at the same temperature to see if the results were identical. I noted that this tea had considerably less longevity on the nose and in the mouth at 194 F, though it thankfully did not display the bitterness or astringency the Yunnan Sourcing Feng Qing silver needles yielded during the longer infusions. I preferred the Yunnan Sourcing tea to this one, but I think that was a result of the difference in water temperature more than anything else. In the end, I would recommend this tea to fans of Yunnan white teas, but I would also advise such individuals to play around with the water temperature a bit in order to get the most out of this tea.

Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bark, Camphor, Cantaloupe, Dates, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Hay, Honeydew, Malt, Maple, Marshmallow, Mineral, Nectar, Oats, Peanut, Straw, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

Alright, let’s get another review out of the way before I get back to work. This was another of the What-Cha samples that I finished last month. I seem to recall working my way through this one around the start of the third week in June. I was on something of a mini green tea kick for several days around that time, so I am pretty sure that’s when I drank this tea. To be honest, I am not the hugest fan of jasmine green teas, but found this one to be rock solid. It was a pleasantly fragrant tea with admirable balance in the mouth.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled leaf and bud sets in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry phoenix eyes emitted a strong jasmine aroma underscored by a subtle grassy scent. After the rinse, the strong jasmine aroma was still present, but there was a little more of an underlying grassy scent and a new hint of cucumber. The first infusion saw the jasmine mellow a tad and a hint of zucchini emerge. In the mouth, I found notes of jasmine, grass, cucumber, and zucchini. There was a hint of umami there too. Subsequent infusions saw cream, butter, and umami appear on the nose. New impressions of cream, butter, hay, spinach, minerals, and sugarcane emerged in the mouth and were chased by subtle impressions of asparagus and apricot on the swallow. The final infusions offered lingering mineral, butter, and umami notes balanced by subtler impressions of jasmine, grass, and zucchini.

This was not the deepest or most complex jasmine green tea in the world, but it was very drinkable and pleasant. I appreciated the fact that the jasmine was neither consistently overpowering nor artificial. Overall, this was a very nice tea. If you are a fan of jasmine green teas, you will probably find a lot to enjoy about this one.

Flavors: Apricot, Asparagus, Butter, Cream, Cucumber, Grass, Hay, Jasmine, Mineral, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Zucchini

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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50

Whew, I usually like florals, but this was just a little too much for me! It unfortunately made me feel like I was drinking perfume. Tried several infusions but just couldn’t get past it.

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75

Used about 1/3 of cake (3g) in small gaiwan that holds about 50ml. 200 degrees, 10 second wash to start. Dry leaves were very fruity with sweet florals. Went 8 infusions (30 sec, 45, 60, 75, 90, 2 min, 2.25 min, 2.5 min). Lovely golden brew that got darker over the steeps. First was very smooth with a creamy mouthfeel and honey sweetness at the front and strong floral finish (but not too perfume-y). Lid of gaiwan after second steep smells just heavenly, creamy floral aroma; taste is sweet flowers – honeysuckle? Starting with third infusion, sweetness gradually recedes, but still pleasant smooth floral; starts tiniest edge of dryness. Lingering milky floral aftertaste becomes more pronounced. Flavor mostly held steady through steeps 4-6. Steeps 7 & 8 began slight flavor loss and mouthfeel on finish was dryer & thinner – but not weak or unpleasant at all. Put spent leaves in 8 oz water to cold brew & try out tomorrow.

Update: those “spent” leaves still had quite a bit of flavor left in them! Cold brew had prominent creamy florals, refreshing & pleasant

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 50 ML
Tea for Tamzen

Tried the remaining cake (~6g or so) in 10 oz just-off-boiling water for 2 minutes. Aroma is strong & lovely, much more honey giving way to floral. Color is honey, too. Flavor is nice; at first I feared it was weaker & less complex than in gaiwan, but it’s actually just a different experience – maybe “gentle” is a better word. Brew is lightly sweet at first, then gives way to very smooth, slightly milky, lingering honeysuckle floral, but not quite as strong as in gaiwan. Definitely picking up notes of fruit this way that probably were overpowered with gongfu – hints of mild white peach or perhaps Asian pear. (Prepared this way, reminds me very much of the “Snow Pear Oolong” from Silk Road Teas I tried at a restaurant.) Second steep (8 oz water, 2.5 minutes) brews up a little darker & aroma is less floral. Flavor has much less floral, though smooth honeysuckle is still there in the lingering aftertaste. Hint of dryness creeping into aftertaste as well. Overall very nice. While gaiwan preparation was lovely, I think I prefer it this way – should have followed the package instructions to start with!

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87

This was one of my more recent sipdowns, as I think I ended up finishing what I had of this tea around either the end of the third or beginning of the fourth week in June. At the time I started working my way through it, it was a tea that I had been wanting to try for some time. As mentioned several times before, I am a huge fan of Feng Qing teas, and this green tea was yet another Feng Qing product. I found it to be a very good Yunnan Mao Feng green tea, maybe not quite the best or the easiest-drinking I have ever had, but certainly very good.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bud combination presented aromas of smoke, malt, corn husk, hay, and sorghum molasses. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of lemon zest, chestnut, and squash blossom. The first infusion then introduced aromas of bamboo and spinach. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of smoke, malt, corn husk, hay, lemon zest, and chestnut chased by bamboo shoot and spinach notes on the swallow. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on a heavier and more complex citrus character as well as some apricot-like fruitiness. Notes of sorghum molasses and squash blossom finally appeared in the mouth, and lime zest, lettuce, umami, mineral, cream, grass, straw, seaweed, and green wood notes made themselves known as well. There were also some subtle fennel and sugarcane impressions lingering in the background. The final infusions offered mineral, malt, umami, grass, lettuce, spinach, and seaweed notes balanced by subtle sugarcane and corn husk impressions.

Compared to some of the other Yunnan Mao Feng green teas I have tried, this one was better balanced with less astringency. It also offered greater depth, complexity, and longevity both on the nose and in the mouth. Despite these positives, however, it was also a bit too robust in places and was a very filling tea. Still, this was a very good Yunnan green tea, one certainly worth a try for fans of such teas. I would recommend it to fans of Yunnan green teas who are looking for something a little busier, more complicated, and fuller-bodied than many standard Yunnan green teas.

Flavors: Apricot, Bamboo, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Cream, Fennel, Grass, Green Wood, Hay, Lemon Zest, Lettuce, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Squash Blossom, Straw, Sugarcane, Umami

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

Here is yet another review from my slowly shrinking backlog. I finished a sample pouch of this tea sometime around the end of May. Prior to trying it, I had never tried a purple oolong, but came away quite impressed. Though I found it to be a somewhat temperamental tea, I enjoyed trying it and would most likely be willing to buy more of it in the future.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of chocolate, plum, and malt. After the rinse, new aromas of blood orange, raisin, and fig emerged. The first infusion saw the plum aroma strengthen while subtle aromas of butter and cream also emerged. In the mouth, the tea liquor started off with a pronounced plum note before transitioning to reveal chocolate, butter, cream, malt, fig, and golden raisin flavors. Plum notes then reappeared on the swallow. Subsequent infusions saw the nose develop some bready, floral, and nutty characteristics. New flavors of wood, cinnamon, ginger, lemon zest, minerals, roasted beechnut, tart cherry, pear, baked bread, and roasted chestnut appeared in the mouth. Notes of blood orange belatedly emerged as well, and I even noted some floral impressions reminiscent of a combination of rose and violet on several infusions. The last infusions presented mineral, cream, butter, and pear impressions balanced by subtler wood, golden raisin, and plum notes.

A seemingly rustic tea with surprising depth and complexity, this made for a nice drinking experience. It certainly made me want to try some more Kenyan purple teas because, if this one is any indication, they have plenty to offer. I know I am the most extreme outlier with regard to my rating of this tea, but I really did find it to be that good. It reminded me of a lighter, sweeter Chinese purple black tea, but without the astringency and bitterness that those teas seem to frequently display. Definitely give this one a shot if you are open-minded and looking for something new and different.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Blood orange, Butter, Cherry, Chestnut, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Fig, Ginger, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Pear, Plums, Raisins, Roasted nuts, Rose, Violet, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Blood orange was a note? Dang that is specific, and also a taste I love.

Daylon R Thomas

And I might try that one. The other purple varieties are usually too bitter for me, even if they are a moonlight variety.

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71

The dry leaf has a mild scent of cookies with a hint of chocolate. After the rinse, the smell is different – very fruity. It has a little bit of Longan fruit note to it. As the leaves open up, it becomes even more prominent and oolong like, but never too pungent.

The taste is also akin to fruity dark Taiwanese oolongs, fairly sweet, fruity and nectar-like. The finish is actually somewhat savoury, although the sweetness then returns in the aftertaste. Unfortunately, I found the body to be quite light, despite the large amount of leaf I used. Definitely thinner than I am used to with Taiwanese teas.

I would say that this might nevertheless be a good choice for casual drinking, especially if you like darker Taiwanese oolongs.

edit: This tea also works really well with a 10 minute simmer as the last infusion. It brings out the roasted notes a bit more and creates a more balanced and richer brew with a little bit of bitterness. The smell of this infusion somehow reminds me of blueberry cheesecake :D

Flavors: Cheesecake, Cookie, Fruity, Nectar, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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75

The smell is quite amlty and honey like with some hints of cardamon. The maltiness is even more present in the taste, which is quite sweet. There are notes of citrus peel, resin and molasses on top of the malty base. The mouthfeel is very soft and only a little astringent in the finish and aftertaste. As far as Assam teas go, this is a very good one I reckon, albeit nothing special or surprising.

Flavors: Astringent, Cardamon, Citrus Zest, Honey, Malt, Molasses, Resin, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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96

June Wedding! This is another borrowed tea from the last Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox (thanks so much to tea-sipper for organizing and to all that contributed teas to the box!) I’ve never sampled a tea from Georgia, so I was happy to get the opportunity to try this. I only kept a single serving of this, and prepared it as a hot cuppa. It was that first cup of the day, as I thought a black tea would be a good choice after a rough night of sleep.

The aroma from the cup was very malty and honey-sweet, reminding me immediately of some of my very favorite Chinese blacks (like Black Dragon Pearls), so I had a good feeling before even taking a sip I was going to enjoy it. The taste confirmed this! The tea had notes of malt, apricot, a hint of warm cherry at the back of the tongue, and a honey sweetness and very subtle smokiness that lingered in the aftertaste. It was a very smooth cup, lacking bitterness and holding only the most subtle of astringent drying of the tongue after the sip. Overall, this is the exact kind of black tea that is to my tastes, and now I’m very interested in trying more Georgian teas!

Flavors: Apricot, Cherry, Honey, Malt, Smoke, Smooth

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML
Bluegreen

I wanted to try Georgian teas for a while but was deterred by their historic reputation of being cheap and mass-produced. Yours is the second or third very complimentary review of Georgian What-Cha teas. And if they truly taste more like Chinese and not Indian teas – I must try it!

Thank you for such a detailed review, that’s Steepster at its best.

Mastress Alita

I certainly want to try more too, since I’ve only tasted a single cup, but this one came off with a lot of similarities to Black Dragon Pearls or TeaSource’s Hunan Black Reserve, both China blacks I really like. I’m not as much a fan of Indian blacks (at least not Assams) and it certainly didn’t fall in that spectrum of black teas for me.

Steepster is great, though sometimes I feel like my Wishlist after reading reviews each morning is getting as out of hand as my actual tea shelf, hahahaha!

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91

You know, as I started hammering out this review, it occurred to me that if I could manage to get at least one or two backlogged reviews posted each day for the next month, I would be all caught up by the first of August. I have no clue if I can manage that with demands on my time being what they are, but I’m going to try to get all caught up on my reviews by the start of the fall semester at the very latest. I finished a sample pouch of this tea around halfway through May. I recall trying this and another roasted Taiwanese Tieguanyin back-to-back and ended up being impressed by both. I especially appreciated this tea’s complexity and depth.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of wood, char, cinnamon, raisin, and banana. The rinse brought out a roasted peanut aroma as well as stronger aromas of wood and char. The first infusion then introduced aromas of cream and vanilla. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, cream, dark wood, char, raisin, and caramelized banana backed by butter, pine smoke, and spruce tip impressions. Subsequent infusions saw the nose steadily become creamier, grainier, sugary, and more buttery. Stronger butter, pine smoke, and spruce tip notes appeared in the mouth alongside new flavors of minerals, plum, toasted rice, coffee, roasted barley, malt, and brown sugar. Notes of vanilla, raisin, and roasted peanut belatedly appeared, and I was just barely able to detect some hints of nutmeg as well. The final infusions offered mineral, dark wood, pine smoke, char, and cream notes backed by subtler impressions of roasted barley, toasted rice, malt, and raisin.

Though I have only found one or two dark roasted Tieguanyin oolongs that truly disappointed me, this was still among the better ones I have tried. It displayed great body and texture in the mouth to go along with tremendous depth, complexity, and longevity. I loved what the roast brought to the table, and I was even more impressed by the fact that it did not overpower the tea’s subtler qualities. An impressive offering all around, I think fans of heavier roasted oolongs would find a lot to like about this tea.

Flavors: banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Char, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Dark Wood, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Peanut, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Toasted Rice, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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72

This green tea was something of a curiosity buy for me, as it was produced from a cultivar normally reserved for the production of Wuyi black teas. As everyone who reads my reviews is likely aware, I am a huge fan of traditional Chinese green teas. I, however, also have a big soft spot for odd and/or experimental teas, thus I simply could not pass on this one. In the end, I found it to be a rather likable, if somewhat delicate and temperamental, green tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. What-Cha recommended a water temperature of 167 F for this tea, but I normally brew Chinese green teas around 176 F, so I opted to go with my usual water temperature. The initial infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of grass, hay, malt, and corn husk. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of smoke, straw, and roasted chestnut. The first infusion then introduced a slight creaminess to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented corn husk, grass, hay, straw, roasted chestnut, and cream notes chased by hints of sugarcane sweetness. Subsequent infusions saw a citrus presence develop on the nose alongside hints of spinach, herbs, and sugarcane. New flavors of butter, lemon zest, spinach, hazelnut, seaweed, and minerals appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging malt and smoke notes and hints of fennel and umami. The last few infusions were dominated by mineral, cream, spinach, and seaweed notes, though some underlying impressions of sugarcane, roasted chestnut, and fennel could still be found.

After reading What-Cha’s description of this tea, I was expecting it to be minty or at least a little more herbal, but I found it to be more grassy and nutty with a pleasant sweetness and pronounced seaweed notes. That may have just been me, or it may have been due to my decision to use a water temperature that was higher than the vendor’s recommended water temperature. I cannot say for sure. What I can say, however, is that this was a pleasant enough green tea. If it were ever to be restocked, I have no clue if I would go out of my way to acquire more of it, but I did enjoy it for the most part. The only real complaints I had were that it faded rather quickly, and it was neither unique enough to consistently hold my attention nor powerful enough to hold its own against some of China’s other Bi Luo Chun green teas. Honestly, I am glad that I took the opportunity to try this tea, but I doubt I would ever rush back to it. Others who enjoy milder, nuttier, and/or more marine green teas may love it though.

Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Cream, Fennel, Grass, Hay, Hazelnut, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Straw, Sugarcane, Umami

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Short review: I didn’t like this tea no matter how I brewed it, in stark contrast to What-Cha’s Vietnam “Fish Hook” Green Tea, which I really love. I recommend that one if you’re looking for a good Vietnamese green tea.

Long review: I received a sample of this with a recent order from What-Cha. This is the March 2018 crop. I really loved the Shan Tuyet black tea from Vietnam so I’m surprised that this green tea produced from the same mountain (same tea plants too maybe?) is unremarkable.

The tea is so very light in flavor, taking much more leaves than usual to extract a good amount of flavor. Even the color of the brew is quite pale compared to other green teas. Overall, the flavors are somewhat typical of green tea: vegetal, nutty, hints of green beans and peas.

The color of the leaves after brewing them is odd, kind of a sickly yellow-green, with some definite yellow areas on the leaves.

After wondering if I did something wrong in brewing this tea, the second time I made it I skipped my usual 80C/176F brewing temperature for green teas and followed What-Cha’s suggestion of 75C/167F (strangely low for a non-steamed green tea). In fact, that made it even more flavorless, and I feel I’d have to use way more leaves to extract much flavor.

What is wrong with this tea? Why do the leaves look so yellow once they’ve been hydrated and unrolled? It doesn’t look right to me. Maybe there’s nothing wrong and it just isn’t my tastes. I’m a connoisseur, not an expert. The leaves might be rolled too tightly. They don’t open up easily at the lower water temperatures required for brewing green tea.

Third time’s a charm right? I tried brewing a new batch with almost twice the amount of leaves. Flavor was still very light. It’s hard to describe, as the notes are not very pronounced. Almost tastes like a very young sheng puerh (and not a good one), vegetal, very mild floral, high amount of bitterness.

I honestly can’t recommend buying this tea. No way I could brew it seemed to do it justice. I always try different ways of brewing to see if I can find a way to enjoy a tea that I don’t like at first, as I really do not want to waste anything people worked hard to produce, but I have to sometimes come back to what an old Steepster friend once told me “Life’s too short to drink bad tea”, and just give up on it. That’s what happened here. Hopefully just a problem with this crop. I’ve heard there were horrible droughts last winter in parts of Asia.

Flavors: Bitter, Vegetal

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95

Here is yet another review from the backlog. I finished a sample pouch of this tea back around the start of May, and at the time I started working my way through it, I had been looking forward to reviewing this tea for some time. The white teas produced by the Kangaita Tea Factory seem to enjoy a great reputation, consistently garnering high reviews on Steepster and elsewhere. After being highly impressed by Kangaita’s White Rhino back around the start of the year, I knew that I had to make time for this tea at some point. I finally managed to do that in May, and honestly, I ended up finding this tea to be better than the White Rhino. I’m just throwing this out there, but this may be the best white tea I have tried to this point in my life.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds produced lovely aromas of hay, straw, eucalyptus, puff pastry, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of butter, wood, and wheat toast. The first infusion did not strike me as presenting anything different on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered very mild, delicate notes of hay, straw, sugarcane, butter, wheat toast, and puff pastry chased by an unexpected note of sweet corn that popped out briefly on the finish. The subsequent infusions saw the nose turn fruitier as well as more savory and more herbal. Wood and eucalyptus emerged in the mouth while new notes of vanilla, malt, cream, minerals, cucumber, honeydew, cinnamon, tangerine zest, wintergreen, menthol, celery, and fennel also appeared. The final infusions offered mineral, cream, butter, sugarcane, celery, and fennel notes backed by fleeting hints of hay, straw, wintergreen, and eucalyptus.

A beautifully complex and satisfying tea, this is one of those teas that just has to be tried. Even if you are not the hugest fan of orthodox white teas, there is a good chance that you will find a lot to appreciate about this one. The Kangaita Tea Factory truly hit a home run with this tea. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Flavors: Butter, Celery, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Cucumber, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Hay, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Pastries, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet, Toast, Vanilla, Wheat, Wood

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

That one is one of my favorites too. If I didn’t spend so much on oolongs, I would probably make that one a staple.

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80

Alright, I have once again returned after a break that was longer than expected. School has been eating up an unbelievable amount of time. My internet access has also been spotty due to terrible weather, but here I am. This was yet another one of the black teas I finished while on my recent black tea kick, but unlike the others, I actually finished this one earlier in the month. The last of the What-Cha Jingmai teas I got around to trying, I found this tea to be rewarding, but I also found it to be perhaps the least appealing of the bunch. I associate floral sweetness with Jingmai teas, and this tea quite simply didn’t have it, instead presenting a range of fruity, malty, nutty, savory, woody, and herbal/spicy notes.

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 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered aromas of cedar, pine, raisin, fig, and honey. After the rinse, I found new aromas of roasted walnut, cream, and malt underscored by hints of cocoa. The first infusion brought out a somewhat stronger cocoa aroma as well as somewhat smoother, more balanced roasted walnut and cream aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented very subtle notes of raisin, fig, malt, cocoa, roasted walnut, honey, pine, and cedar before a somewhat buttery presence emerged on the finish. Honey and raisin sweetness lingered in the mouth after the swallow. Subsequent infusions saw the nose quickly turn woodier, spicier, and more herbal, while something of a buttery presence also emerged. Stronger butter notes appeared alongside new flavors of black pepper, minerals, camphor, eucalyptus, caramel, and orange zest in the mouth. In addition to these new flavors, subtler impressions of toast, dried tobacco, smoke, and roasted chestnut also emerged. The final infusions presented lingering mineral, malt, roasted nut, orange zest, and cream notes balanced by subtler impressions of camphor, tobacco, caramel, honey, and raisin.

Most of the Jingmai black teas I had tried prior to this tea were notable for their floral, fruity sweetness, yet the roast that was applied to this tea decreased the sweetness and brought out a range of other flavors while eliminating any obvious floral characteristics entirely. A drier, subtler black tea than many of the other Yunnan black teas I have tried over the course of the past several years, this would be a great tea for someone who has perhaps grown tired of the typical Yunnan black tea profile. I, however, love the fruitier, sweeter Yunnan black teas, so this tea was not quite what I was expecting. Even though it did not offer everything I look for in teas of this type, it was still a very nice black tea and an excellent change of pace from the Yunnan black teas to which I am more accustomed.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Chestnut, Eucalyptus, Fig, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Toast, Tobacco, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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87

(this review is for the 2016 harvest)

It is definitly a light roast – more akin to an Anxi jade oolong than a roasted oolong.

Creamy, sweet, very smooth. Lightly vegetal (in a jade oolong kind of way), but strongly reminds me of other Anxi oolongs I have had. Namely, milk oolongs from the region with their creamy buttery mouthfeel.

Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Smooth, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 22 OZ / 650 ML

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90

I increasingly find myself being drawn to the teas produced by Feng Qing Tea Factory. Their black teas, in particular, seem to display some unique qualities that I do not always get out of other Yunnan black teas. I know that some people find Feng Qing teas to display floral qualities, but I almost always perceive vibrant vegetal and herbal tones. Now, what does any of this have to do with this particular tea? Well, this tea was a Feng Qing black tea, and given my love of Feng Qing teas, it should not come as a surprise that I ended up loving this one. As a matter of fact, I found it to be a stellar example of a Feng Qing black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I detected pleasant aromas of pine, honey, malt, and cocoa coming from the dry leaf buds. After the rinse, I found emerging scents of burnt toast, herbs, and sweet potato. The first infusion then brought out stronger piney and herbal scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, pine, burnt toast, honey, cocoa, and sweet potato chased by a subtle herbal note reminiscent of eucalyptus and a slight caramel sweetness. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on more complex herbal qualities and some spiciness-I detected aromas of black pepper, cedar, juniper, and fennel. There was also an earthiness that emerged on the nose along with some vegetal qualities reminiscent of celery and green beans. In the mouth, notes of earth, camphor, butter, black pepper, minerals, fennel, cream, cedar, nutmeg, celery, cinnamon, green beans, grass, and juniper appeared. The last infusions offered subtle notes of minerals, malt, earth, cocoa, and cream backed by fleeting hints of camphor, fennel, eucalyptus, black pepper, celery, and green beans.

An interesting, satisfying, and extremely complex black tea, this would be the type of black tea to turn to when one is looking for something highly aromatic with loads of flavor. This tea also displayed respectable longevity in the mouth as well as great body and texture. If you are a fan of Yunnan black teas and looking for one that is more challenging and more rewarding than many others, do yourself a favor and give this tea a shot. While you’re at it, try a few other Feng Qing teas too.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Burnt, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Celery, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Grass, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pine, Sweet Potatoes, Toast

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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I bought this tea as a curio due to it being a wild cultivar and described as having a strong blackberry note. Brewing this gongfu style, after the first infusion the wet leaves smell unmistakably fruity, like blackberries, black plums, and figs. The color of the first infusion is a rich amber color and I’m really looking forward to tasting it.

The flavor of the first infusion is really unique. The brewed tea tastes kind of leafy (almost in the way that shiso or mint leaves taste, but without the distinct flavors of shiso or mint, if that makes sense). It’s mellow, sweet, and smooth, with a mulberry-like flavor (rather than blackberry). The aftertaste is sweet and reminds me of spices (cinnamon, clove). Second infusion is more of the same with a much more rich flavor. This tea has a bit of a dry finish to it, but it’s still very pleasant. Later infusions have a bit of that autumn leaf pile quality that some good white peony teas have.

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90

This tea is exactly what you expect if you like A) good Jin Xuan and B) the flavor and aroma of Thai sticky rice. It’s scented with an herb that has that flavor and aroma. It’s delicious and enjoyable. Nice floral notes of a good Jin Xuan. Not a lot to say because this is just what I imagined it would be. I will say the Jin Xuan is a stronger and less neutral base than I expected, so the flavor is pretty balanced between the tea and the sticky rice herb. I expected the sticky rice flavor would be stronger than the tea. That was the only thing that differed from my expectation. Either way, I love it. Been looking for a good sticky rice tea for a while now and this one hits the spot!

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Scent of the dry leaves is roasted and floral. Scent of the wet leaves after infusing is rich, honeyed, and reminds me of cooked cherries (I think I saw this in the product description too, so if so, then that is spot on). Taste is a nice warm, roasted honey-floral with a bit of tartness and hints of cooked cherry. Later infusions have a nice camphor note. Mouthfeel is fairly drying.

I brewed this Gongfu Cha style. To me it was a fairly enjoyable everyday drinking kind of tea, with not a lot of variance from one infusion to the next.

I am going to try brewing this differently and may update the review if it turns out too different. I thought this tea was highly roasted but it turns out it’s just highly oxidized so I’m going to try more leaf and lower temperature water per my usual handling of less roasted oolong and see if that makes a big difference.

EDIT: It did make a difference, with most infusions tasting more sweet and honeyed and less tart. It does still have some of that drying mouthfeel though.

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