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Recent Tasting Notes

87

This was another recent sipdown of mine. I finished the last of two sample pouches of this tea last night when I had difficulty settling down and going to sleep. I liked this one much more than I expected considering the black tea What-Cha sources from the same producer did not do much for me.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 167 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 emitted aromas of toasted corn, soybean, and grass that were underscored by fleeting hints of honey. After the rinse, I noted the emergence of a stronger toasted corn aroma alongside a more delicate roasted chestnut scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of sugarcane and zucchini. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate notes of toasted corn, grass, roasted chestnut, zucchini, and soybean that were underscored by hints of sugarcane, seaweed, and spinach. Scents of seaweed, spinach, and peas emerged on the following infusions. Honey notes appeared in the mouth along with impressions of umami, minerals, toasted rice, butter, peas, cream, and green beans. The final few infusions offered delicate mineral, grass, spinach, and seaweed notes that were balanced by toasted rice, toasted corn, cream, and butter impressions.

This struck me as a very interesting tea. In terms of aroma and flavor, it reminded me of some of the Japanese and Korean green teas with which I have been experimenting. It, however, did retain the strong vegetable and soybean notes as well as the subtle sweetness I often associate with Laoshan green teas. I also must state that I was surprised and impressed by this tea’s longevity. Overall, I found this to be a high quality offering.

Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Cream, Grass, Green Beans, Honey, Mineral, Peas, Seaweed, Soybean, Spinach, Sugarcane, Toasted, Toasted Rice, Umami, Zucchini

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

This was another of my recent white tea sipdowns. I think I finished this one around the start of last week. On a related note, I am finally getting into white teas They do not seem to get a ton of love here on Steepster, so expect more white tea reviews from me in the future. Even though I have had Bai Mudans that have looked better, this one produced an absolutely fantastic gongfu session.

Clearly, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf and bud material in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bud blend produced aromas of cedar, pine, cinnamon, hay, and smoke. I also noted a very subtle honey presence. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted peanut, malt, and straw. The first infusion brought out a hint of lemon on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate flavors of cinnamon, hay, smoke, straw, lemon, honey, and malt that were underpinned by even subtler notes of pine, roasted peanut, and cedar. The following infusions saw a stronger lemon presence emerge on the nose alongside subtle scents of cucumber, zucchini, and lettuce. Stronger lemon and cedar notes made themselves known in the mouth alongside new mineral, zucchini, cream, butter, lettuce, and cucumber notes. There were also some fleeting hints of asparagus, pear, and vanilla that occasionally showed themselves. The final few infusions emphasized lingering notes of cream, lemon, malt and minerals that were backed by impressions of straw, hay, cucumber, zucchini, pear, and vanilla.

Quite honestly, this was one of the most aromatic and flavorful teas of this type I have ever tried. It also displayed wonderful body and texture in the mouth. Unlike many classic white teas, it came off as lively, playful, and engaging as opposed to restrained and fragile. If you are not sold on traditional Chinese white teas and do not feel they have much to offer, seek out this tea. It will very likely change your mind.

Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cream, Cucumber, Hay, Honey, Lemon, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Smoke, Straw, Vanilla, Zucchini

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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83

This was the last tea I drank in August, and of course, I only managed to motivate myself to review it today. On a positive note, I actually have very few reviews left in the backlog for July and August, so getting completely caught up is more of a possibility now than it has been for several months. I found this tea to be a very interesting and satisfying green tea, but I can’t say I was surprised by it as Toba Wangi teas always seem to fascinate me.

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 tea leaves emitted aromas of sticky rice, grass, and chestnut blossom. After the rinse, I picked up aromas of chestnut, corn husk, malt, and hay. The first infusion then introduced a subtle spinach scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of corn husk, hay, malt, grass, chestnut, and sticky rice that were chased by impressions of butter and lemon rind. The following infusions saw umami, cooked lettuce, and seaweed come out on the nose. The tea liquor was smoother in the mouth. Stronger notes of lemon rind, butter, and chestnut appeared alongside new impressions of minerals, seaweed, umami, and cooked lettuce. I also noted a cooling herbal presence on each swallow that reminded me of eucalyptus. The final few infusions presented mineral, seaweed, spinach, and cooked lettuce notes that were balanced by impressions of malt, butter, sticky rice, and eucalyptus.

This was a very unique green tea, and I initially was not sure how to rate it. I think I went into the review session expecting something smoother, sweeter, and creamier, but instead got a very malty, nutty, herbal, and vegetal Indonesian assamica green tea. After some consideration, I determined that this tea was very good, though I would not likely choose to seek it out regularly. Check it out if you happen to be looking for a unique green tea with some bite and punch.

Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Eucalyptus, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Rice, Seaweed, Spinach, Umami

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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57

Blergh.

Cold brew 4g to a liter was nutty-bright honey yum but had an off-putting gritty texture. Four grams to 20oz brewed in a thermos, unremarkable and again with the grit. Going to finish this tea brewed western. Dropping the rating – it’s just lacking for my tastes in so many ways.

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57

August 2017 harvest.

I’ve tried brewing this tea both western and gongfu so far. I also have a a liter cold brewing in the fridge and am planning on doing a grandpa test in my thermos to judge the tea’s viability as a ‘school brew.’ I’ll update the review and rating after trying the other 2 methods, but for now:

Western: 3g, 8oz, 205F, 3/4/5min. Light-bodied and a little viscous, tastes of honey and light roast. Some light astringency and a ruby red grapefruit aftertaste. Pretty average tea. Third steep wasn’t worth it as the astringency became overbearing.

Gongfu: 2.5g, 60mL, 195F. 10s rinse followed by 7 steeps at 10/15/20/25/30/45/60s.
In an attempt to reduce the astringency present when brewed western style, I dialed the temp back 10 degrees. Dry leaf smelled of mostly roast and honey, warmed had the addition of wheat toast. A 10s rinse allowed citrus to come forward in the leaf. The tea started off very light and citrusy in flavor with some astringency. It thickened up quickly. Ruby red grapefruit and some salivation came out and there was a short-lived honeyed grapefruit aftertaste. The astringency was a mainstay even with a lower temperature. Drinking it while having a snack did keep the astringency at bay and allowed the flavors to pop out more.

The tea does have a nice, light taste that would make this a good beginner’s oolong but I hesitate to recommend it as as such due to the astringency. I’d point somebody to What-Cha’s Vietnam Gui Fei over this tea especially since the Vietnamese version is at the time negligibly more expensive.

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I’m going to hold off on a rating until I get to experiment a bit more, but I wanted to get my initial notes down.

Tea is from July 2017.
Brewed western-ish, based on pkg directions (3.5g/175ml, 70 C), 3 infusions in all.
Dry leaf smells straight-up savory, with strong aroma of toasted seaweed.
45 sec – Light green/golden brew also has the toasted seaweed aroma along with green vegetable notes. Taste is smooth, savory, and meaty with some nutty, grassy, and lightly steamed green vegetable notes. Age of tea might be showing – no freshness that I associate with greens, though flavors are otherwise good. Pleasant & soothing, but lacking strength overall.
30 sec – Slightly darker brew, a little less seaweed aroma & flavor. Leaves have much sweeter aroma, but taste is about the same (smooth, savory), just without the strong seaweed note.
1 min – not too bad, but flavor very diminished.

I’d like try with more leaf, as I feel this was lacking a certain punch. Certainly not bad, but not very intense, and infusions petered out quickly – though that might also be the age of the tea, as noted. I also might play around with temperature.

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85

(I am pretty sure this is my first taste of tea from Nepal, though I’ve heard them recommended often. This one is May 2017.)

A lovely, delicious tea. I’ve been able to try western and cold brews so far, and I’d like to try gongfu with the last of the sample.

Western (3g/175ml, 95 C), got 5 infusions in all.
Dry leaf is sweet, fruity, malty, a little brown sugar & milk chocolate; lots of fine downy tea hairs. Wet leaves smell very sweet, strong aroma of burnt sugar with some raisin, and earthy tobacco.
3 min – Brew is a pretty, reddish amber; smells sweet & earthy, touch of woodsiness. Taste is layered, quite nice, smooth, rich & a little thick, some very light tannins – a little malty, tobacco, muscatel moving into raisin, fig. Florals come out as it cools (rose?).
4 min – Still very tasty, dark woodsiness balanced with smooth sweetness and a little floral on the finish.
6 min – Same, though a bit muted.
10 min (reduced water to 150ml, increased temp to boiling) – aromatic wood bordering on cedar more prominent, but flavors overall diminishing. Still smooth & pleasant, just not as flavorful.
15 min (150ml, boiling) – Same.

Cold brew (1g/100ml)
Quite good. Many of the same flavors as hot – brown sugar, malt, light fruitiness, hints of fragrant wood – but lighter, refreshing rather than rich, and the floral is much more prominent.

Thoroughly enjoyed, and will update when I try gongfu.

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68

This was the last tea I tried before I was knocked out of commission for a time due to that snakebite in the latter half of August. That would mean I probably finished my sample pouch between August 16th and August 19th. At the time I was finishing this tea up, I recall thinking that it was pleasant enough to drink though somewhat boring and forgettable overall. Indeed, if I did not have session notes to go by, I would have been able to recall absolutely nothing about the review session I conducted. In my opinion, this tea lacked the mineral bite, spiciness, woodsiness, and/or strong, thick sweetness that frequently make many Wuyi black teas so compelling, and it also lacked the strong fruity and herbal qualities that make many contemporary Taiwanese black teas so memorable and endearingly quirky.

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 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 emitted aromas of cocoa, raisin, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted peanut and blueberry to go along with an odd banana-like aroma and a considerably stronger cocoa presence. The first infusion then introduced some mineral hints to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cocoa, cinnamon, raisin, honey, roasted peanut, and blueberry chased by a subtle banana impression. The subsequent infusions introduced smoke, pine, malt, baked bread, and citrus aromas as well as a stronger mineral scent. New notes of cream, leather, baked bread, pine, caramel, orange zest, and malt appeared in the mouth along with strong, belatedly emerging mineral impressions and some subtle smokiness. The final infusions offered mineral, caramel, orange zest, malt, and cocoa notes that were accompanied by faint cream, baked bread, and roasted peanut accents.

All in all, this was a respectable tea, but it ended up not being one I could ever see myself tracking down and trying again. Its quirks were a little too subtle for my taste, and since it did not offer the thick, robust sweetness of many Wuyi black teas or the pronounced fruity and herbal qualities of many other Taiwanese black teas, it ended up falling into a gray area for me. It was simultaneously reminiscent of both a Wuyi black tea and a Taiwanese black tea, but it had too few of the best qualities of either to truly impress me. I could see people who like very smooth and often very subtle black teas being into this tea, but quite frankly, I am not one of those people. Overall, this tea was not bad; it was just not for me.

Flavors: Baked Bread, banana, Blueberry, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Smoke

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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60

Sampler Sipdown September! This is a sampler I grabbed from the last Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thanks to tea-sipper for organizing and to all who contributed to it!

I only kept 1.5g, so I just steeped it western style in 300ml for a quick minute. The brew was a pretty pale yellow a smelled a bit like tobacco and mint; it reminded me of gunpowder green tea or yerba mate in aroma. The flavor of the tea had dominant dry grass and hay notes, followed by a light spearmint sort of taste (while completely lacking that cooling menthol sort of effect to the mouthfeel), with a slightly smoky finish. It gave me a strong deja vu to the one time I tried an unflavored yerba mate, though was completely lacking the astringency I got from the mate; this is a very smooth green tea.

It’s all right; it has a lot in common with gunpowder green, which is my least favorite green tea, mainly because the smoky notes just aren’t really my thing. The smoky notes are lighter in this, and I do like the grassy flavor and subtle minty notes, so it’s pleasant enough for a single cup. Not the sort of thing I’d care to keep around on my own, but I certainly am glad I got the experience to try it!

Flavors: Dry Grass, Hay, Smoke, Spearmint, Tobacco

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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Sipdown.

Fruity, smooth, malty, little sweet. Vanilla? I’m not sure, I had to make-shift a Keurig cup to get my hot water. Different water than at home too.
If I could get it to taste like this all the time – I’d order more.

Flavors: Fruity, Malt, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla

gmathis

Ugh. Keurig. Sorry.

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89

Okay, this was the last of the teas I drank in June. Fortunately, I do not have many reviews left from July and August, so I should be able to get things caught up fairly quickly from this point forward. I recall drinking what I had of this tea the day after I finished the last of the China Guizhou ‘Dew Drops’ Green Tea, and I have to say that I found this tea to be the more impressive of the two. Both were very good, but if I could only have one of the two, I would choose this one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of green tea pearls 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: 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 pearls emitted aromas of hay, grass, malt, and corn husk. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of bamboo and spinach. The first infusion offered nothing new on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate notes of hay, malt, grass, and corn husk that were chased by subtler impressions of smoke, apricot, and sugarcane. Subsequent infusions saw sugarcane and apricot make themselves known on the nose. Stronger notes of smoke, sugarcane, and apricot appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging bamboo and spinach notes and new impressions of minerals, sour plum, asparagus, cream, and lettuce. The final few infusions emphasized soft mineral, cream, grass, asparagus, and bamboo notes that were balanced by impressions of stone fruits and malt as well as a faint pear-like note that came out at the very end of the session.

This was very much a straightforward, easy-drinking green tea equally suited to solo consumption or pairing with a variety of foods. I could see it making an excellent introduction to Guizhou green teas or a fantastic daily drinker for those who like heartier, less subtle green teas. I would love to see how this particular tea pairs with jasmine because I bet it would make a knock-out jasmine dragon pearl green tea. Anyway, try this one if you are looking for a regular drinking tea and/or are curious about the green teas Guizhou Province has to offer.

Flavors: Apricot, Asparagus, Bamboo, Corn Husk, Cream, Grass, Hay, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Pear, Plums, Smoke, Spinach, Sugarcane

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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62

Pale but strong, with an apple hint. Has a good syrupy feel in the mouth. The taste is not my preference but it’s definitely not bad – lots there for someone.

Flavors: Apple, Rosehips

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 25 g 14 OZ / 400 ML

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82

I prepared this tea western style (according to package directions) and it just didn’t do it for me – not bad, but nothing really stood out. So I used the rest of the sample for cold brew and really enjoyed it.

Cold brew (6g/600ml):
Though this brewed up light and the flavors are subtle, they are sneakily complex! The aroma is sweet, malty, with notes of bitter caramel and maybe even some coffee. Taste is smooth and sweet with some very light floral notes making a nice counterpoint to the malty, caramel flavors. I think I’m even getting a little muscatel note in the aroma and flavor, too, which I didn’t pick up at all in the hot preparation. There’s an earthy note in the aftertaste that I can’t quite pin down – again, it’s light and sweet, but adding interest. Made a lovely, refreshing iced tea.

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87

Okay, here is the third and likely final backlogged review for the day. This was yet another mid-late June sipdown. At the time I was working my way through what I had of this tea, it was very likely the first tea from Guizhou province that I had tried. Regardless, I found it to be an extremely pleasant green tea with some interesting herbal undertones.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief 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 tea leaves emitted aromas of hay, lemon, seaweed, and malt. After the rinse, I detected a subtle cream aroma. The first infusion then brought out scents of grass and straw. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate notes of hay, lemon, seaweed, grass, straw, and cream that were chased by hints of honey sweetness. The bulk of the subsequent infusions brought out scents of toasted rice and umami along with subtle mintiness and nuttiness on the nose. In the mouth, I detected subtle, belatedly emerging malt notes as well as impressions of chestnut, barley, toasted rice, bamboo, minerals, and lettuce. When I really focused, I could also detect very subtle spinach and mint notes, though the mint presence did eventually strengthen to a limited extent. The later infusions emphasized mineral, grass, seaweed, and spinach notes that were underscored by vague umami. There were also traces of mint and honey on the swallow.

I found this to be a very unique Chinese green tea in the sense that I did not find it to have much in common with many of the other Chinese green teas I had recently consumed. It may have just been me, but this tea’s body and texture coupled with some of its aroma and flavor components reminded me a little of some Japanese green teas. Overall, this was an interesting and very satisfying green tea, one that I am fairly certain fans of subtler, more mellow green teas would enjoy.

Flavors: Bamboo, Chestnut, Cream, Grain, Grass, Hay, Honey, Lemon, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Mint, Seaweed, Spinach, Straw, Toasted Rice, Umami

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

This one has been sitting in my What-Cha wishlist for a few months and if it’s still in stock, will likely move into my cart in the spring. Thanks for the review.

eastkyteaguy

No problem. I hope you enjoy it.

eastkyteaguy

derk, I just checked the website and it appears that the 2018 harvest of this tea is available. It was only like $4.62 for 25g.

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92

I received this as a freebie with my last order, which Alistair graciously handled after an unrelated to this tea request. Incredible customer service.

I’ve been enjoying my few days alone and the long weekend. Phone off – sorry friends and family, no Labor Day activities for me. Just catching up on some physics and engineering coursework, interspersed with furry meowmeowkittymeowmeow bonding and more tea than usual. I should get outside after this, though. It’s a beautiful day, cool and not so sunny that I want to stay in the apartment with curtains closed. I guess it’s not quite summer here yet. This tea seemed like a natural pick for the weather.

June 2018 harvest. Gone gaiwan. 3g, 60mL, 195F, 10s rinse, initial steeps at 10/12/15s then felt my way through the rest. 13 steeps total.

I can’t even begin to describe the floral component of this tea. I’m not there yet with high mountain oolongs but I think I can recognize this as a remarkable tea. I was floating while sipping and the tea managed to float above me.

The dry leaf smells like spring bulb flowers such as daffodil and hyacinth. The tea presents as thick and sweet in its aroma, its hour-long aftertaste and in the bottom of the cup. The liquor itself is fairly light-bodied. It starts out mellow with a bouquet of unplaceable-as-of-yet florals, citrus, asian pear, light vegetal, and mineral. Sugarcane, vanilla, sweet cream and a kind of nuttiness like macadamia move in and get cozy, with a cooling sensation showing up in later steeps. The tea seems to just keep ramping up over the course of the session with no extreme changes and never a question of whether I should change the temperature. Very intuitive – I never timed anything beyond the first 3 steeps. It flows incredibly well. Really pleasant energy.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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90

From the dry leaves I get aromas of hay, honey, old leather, courgette and animal fur. In the wet leaf smell, notes of cooked vegetables and strawberries are more prominent. The floral aromas appear mostly in the empty cup and the liquor.

Taste of this white tea is very delicate and balanced. It is somewhat sweet with a little bit of a fruity (peach, nectarine) edge to it. There are also sour, grassy and savoury flavours complementing it though. The aftertaste is long, very floral and warming in the throat.

As for the mouthfeel, it is light, velvety and mouth-watering. In later steeps, slight dryness in the finish appears as well, which makes them not as delicate as the first infusion say. I wouldn’t say it’s for the worse though.

This is most probably the best white tea I have tried to date. Furthermore, the leaves are so pretty! Both dry and wet, when you can see the interplay of the different colours – yellow, green, purple and brown.

Flavors: Dry Grass, Fruity, Fur, Honey, Leather, Peach, Pleasantly Sour, Stonefruits, Sweet, Vegetables, Zucchini

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec 4 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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65

eastkyteaguy’s endorsement of gongfu-ing this tea gave me the encouragement to give it a try with the last of my sample. I enjoyed the different experience I got from gongfu vs western here, but I think I actually prefer western after all in this case. It’s hard to tell if I can be fair to this tea, however — as I mentioned in the previous review, the leaf was pretty well broken up, lots of very small pieces, and as I feared, I think there was a good bit of harshness contributed simply by that fact. It was the end of my sample, too, with inevitably even smaller bits. It could be that a sample with more intact leaf would have fared better.

Anyway, I did 3g/50ml/95 C. Flash rinse was a very pretty red amber, and when I tasted a bit of it, it was surprisingly strong for just a couple seconds’ contact with the leaves. I did 10 steeps in all – 10 seconds to start and adding 5-10 seconds following. Throughout, the dominant aroma and flavor was earthy, woodsy cedar. (Side note: I broke in a new tea tray with this session, and it still smells very strongly of cut wood, which only heightened the aromatic wood notes of this tea!) Pretty astringent, good bit of drying tannins, decent amount of bitterness. In the middle steeps I started to pick up some rosemary or maybe eucalyptus notes, and possibly something very faintly citrus. A bit of minerality in these middle infusions, too. Toward the end I started to get very small hints of cocoa powder and vanilla, but these were not accompanied by any sweetness at all, which was quite interesting. I realized a couple infusions in that I was getting pretty much no sweetness whatever, though I did get some decent sweet notes from this tea in western and cold brew.

What this tea taught me is that I prefer more sweetness of some kind in my black teas. I’ve enjoyed some savory greens that had little to no sweetness, but when it comes to black, I think I need more of that sweet/bitter balance.

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65

I found this solid. As others have noted, it reminded me of a very nice breakfast-style black tea with plenty of body and flavor, but not much variety or interest.

Western (4g/250ml, 95 C)
Dry leaf is sweet & malty, but otherwise “normal” black tea aroma. Appearance of leaves worries me a bit – smaller/broken pieces of leaf, kind of chewed up. Aroma of wet leaves a bit more brisk, a little Raisin Bran, but faint. First steep 3 min – dark red liquor, pleasant sweet aroma. Flavor is good, fairly balanced, enough bitterness for brisk finish, could definitely stand up to milk. Overall pretty one-note. Second steep 5 min – wet leaves are more earthy now, with aromatic woodsiness – close to cedar, though not quite that strong. Tastes about the same, but maybe a bit more tannin, a bit less smooth, but not unpleasant. Third steep 7 min – maybe a touch of cocoa powder, otherwise about same. Final/fourth steep at boiling – no real change, just a little weaker.

Cold brew (1g/100ml) is solid, if unexceptional – good body (not too thin), balanced flavors of a little sweet, a little malty, a little bitter, but none stands out or overpowers. Faint whiffs of coffee & cocoa powder. Pleasant, lightly sweet aftertaste.

I’m wary of trying gongfu with the broken leaf of this tea, but I’ll update if I decide to give it a go.

eastkyteaguy

This is one of those teas that seems to be hit or miss for a lot of people. I loved it, but then again, I am a huge fan of malty, woodsy black teas like this and enjoy a lot of the higher end Vietnamese teas in general. I also think this is one that you have to gongfu in order to fully appreciate. If you insist on brewing it Western, I found that a longer initial infusion (like 4-5 minutes) was the way to go.

Girl Meets Gaiwan

Good to know, thanks! It was only a 10g sample, so I have just enough left for one more preparation. I’ll probably give gongfu a chance, then.

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91

Oy, I found my new silver needle. Don’t worry, Feng Qing, I can accommodate you, too.

I had success yesterday with brewing the Kenya Steamed Purple Green Tea in a gaiwan. I chose today to brew these silver needles with the same method.

Gone gaiwan. 3g, 60mL, 195F, no rinse, 10s/12/15/20/25/30/35/45/1m/1m15/1m30. 11 infusions. I’m impressed. September 2017 harvest.

The dry leaf smells like some kind of fruit I haven’t yet tried. I know once I taste that fruit, I will go AHA! that’s the smell of the Kenya Silver Needle White Tea. The closest I can get with my current palate is a vibrant mix of white grape, pineapple, honeydew and fresh green hay. The needles are elegant – long and skinny – and attest to the taste of the tea. Unlike the steamed purple green, this tea had a pronounced evolution. I noticed my tasting notes are very similar to eastkyteaguy’s despite me using a higher temperature. That indicates to me this tea’s versatility and production of a consistent experience when brewing gong fu.

In the first steep, I picked up sugarcane, dry hay and phyllo dough. In the following steeps, the liquor became full and smooth. There was an addition of honeydew, cucumber, butter, white sweet corn, vanilla, cream, a muted ceylon cinnamon and faint malt wIth a persistent aftertaste of butter, white peach and sugarcane. Later steeps lightened in mouthfeel and the tastes moved into sweet lemon, mineral and phyllo dough. Toward the end, butter reappeared and eucalyptus, along with a slightness of its cooling properties, made a presence which I love in this style of tea. The bottom of the cup retained a strong scent of sugarcane throughout the session. There was a slight astringency brewed at this temperature but it did not take away from the experience. Afterwards, I noticed the feeling of a light layer of wax lining my mouth. I checked the scent of the wet leaf in between steeps and was surprised that it smelled very similar to YS Feng Qing silver needles with a note of cantaloupe that I did not pick up on in taste.

This is a tea elegant and somewhat delicate in flavor. It has an appreciable complexity and longevity. I look forward to trying this tea in my thermos at a lower temperature and also western style. These silver needles will have a permanent home in my drawer.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
Girl Meets Gaiwan

Sounds lovely!

eastkyteaguy

This is a great silver needle white for brewing Western. So far, I have been truly impressed by the white teas coming out of the African countries.

eastkyteaguy

This is a great silver needle white for brewing Western. So far, I have been truly impressed by the white teas coming out of the African countries.

__Morgana__

Wow, I wish I could appreciate white tea this way.

derk

Morgana: you say whites are tricky. They are for me, too, along with greens. You mentioned in your review today of a White Peony about your noob phase and searching for flavors. This one… idk, I didn’t have to search for flavors. They were pronounced and distinctive while retaining a sense of delicacy. It just worked for me. I think it’s worth a try.

__Morgana__

Sure sounds like it!

derk

eastkyteaguy: I’ve been eyeing the other Kenyan and Malawi white teas since my first order from What-Cha but since I’m not a big white tea drinker, I put them on the backburner. I have a lot of teas to work through over the fall and winter but I’ll reconsider those African whites next spring!

Daylon R Thomas

I was iffy about the Malawi teas I’ve had, but you might have a different experience. The White Rhino is super good, but very close to a Dianhong while retaining its unique flavor that is parallel to the same one here. The Ruby White from Taiwan is incredible in its menthol notes.

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65

I’ve tried brewing this tea 3 different ways: cold, western and gong fu. Dry leaf looks like a purple black tea and smells like tangy purple fruit – fruit snacks, chewable vitamins, grape flavor that’s not sickeningly sweet or has preservatives – spicy, earthy and dark green vegetal.

Cold brew: 4 tsp, 1L, overnight produces a very light purple-tinged liquid that tastes a little earthy and lightly purple-fruit. It’s refreshing.

Western: 2tsp, 8oz, various steep times starting at 60s. I’d say it’s good for 2 steeps. Immemorable, unnoteworthy. Lightly grassy and fruity.

Gong fu: This is where it’s at. 2.5g, 60mL gaiwan, 175F, no rinse, 10/15/20/25/30/40/50/60/75s. It’s a very consistent brew this way without much complexity. Very pretty light-colored liquor that’s a sparkling mix of lilac, peach and pink and green. Light scent wafts from the cup. The fruitiness of the dry leaf comes forward in the liquor which produces a light mouthfeel that gives a slight tongue-numbing astringency in later steeps. The taste is quite light with stonefruits, grape, tangy purple berry and floral and is most prominent when breathing out. There are also notes of grass that start light and turn darker as the steeps progress, ending on a spinach/seaweed note. Not much of an aftertaste. Reminds me a lot of a fruity, young sheng puer but not harsh on the stomach. I think eating a few small sweet champagne grapes would be complementary and enhance the fruitiness. The spent leaf smells very purple tangy.

I don’t know much yet about Kenyan teas or the growing conditions, but I think this tea has a lot of potential. Overall, it’s a very approachable green tea and I definitely recommend brewing it gong fu.

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86

Turmeric is a polarizing flavor. I’m in the love camp but don’t let my bias discourage you from reading further. If you 100% hate it, consider moving on.

I started off my morning with this tea and some toasted steiner bread topped with fried eggs. I felt like I could conquer whatever came my way after that.

Gone western. 2tsp, 195F, 8oz, 2/5/20m while I showered.

The base of this tea is the India Nilgiri First Flush Black which I reviewed some time in the past month since I’ve been here. I found it to be a very fragrant, clean and refreshing tea.
Mixed in with the black tea are chunks of turmeric root. The tea leaves are covered in powder but I don’t think it’s turmeric powder added separately but just what has rubbed off of the pieces. The scent of the dry leaf is pure turmeric. Not some ancient grocery store yellow turmeric powder but powerful, bright orange, warm, medicinal, spicy, earthy. It’s crazy strong!

All three brews were fairly similar to each other in aroma, taste, color and texture – mostly tasting of that awesome turmeric. The black tea served as a great base, yielding nicely to the spice. If you read the review for the India Nilgiri First Flush Black, you can see how the tastes I picked up on work well with the turmeric. There were no interfering flavors between the two ingredients. In terms of texture, the turmeric chunks did not disintegrate and the powder did not create a grainy mouthfeel at all which is appreciated. This tea remained as smooth as it’s counterpart black. No bitterness and the slight astringency I picked up on in its counterpart was masked by the turmeric. It was a very clean and warming cup.

If you’ve had a bad experience with turmeric but are still curious, I’d recommend you give this a try. It’s completely different from the typical bagged turmeric blends. Much more assertive and a taste that is true to the freshly ground root. I’m not going to claim any medicinal benefits, but I will keep this around for when I’m bound to catch a cold later this year and need a moderate dose of caffeine. It just feels right for that occasion. I think I might like the blend better than the black tea alone.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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78

The most interesting aspect of this Gui Fei is definitely its smell. It is very invigorating, sweet and fruity. I could identify hintsof honey, peach, apricot, cloves, nectarine, faint nutmeg and rosemary. Not too dissimilar from a second flush Darjeeling actually. The texture of the liquor is somewhat thin, a little milky and not too exciting. It becomes a bit better in later steeps though. Taste is quite sweet, with notes of fermented nectarines and lemon skin. The aftertaste is fairly sour and a little drying.

Flavors: Apricot, Cloves, Fruity, Honey, Lemon Zest, Nectar, Nutmeg, Peach, Pleasantly Sour, Stonefruits, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
derk

I’ve already hit up Roswell Strange’s tasting note on this tea and I’m going to do it to anybody that posts a new review… After discovering I didn’t like this tea gongfu, I tried it cold-brewed and ended up railing through the remaining amount that way. It just did something for me. Highly recommended if you’re into that.

Togo

Thanks! I will try that next time. Actually, maybe tomorrow already :D

How do you usually cold brew ball rolled oolongs? I would normally hit them with some boiling water for about 30s to help them open up. After a few minutes I add cold water and the wash to the leaves and let sit at least overnight in the fridge.

derk

Yeah, that’s what I typically do for balled oolongs. I don’t remember how much of this leaf I used, though. I prepared it as one long 24-hour brew or two overnight steeps, both methods with good results.

Girl Meets Gaiwan

I’ve had good results starting with room temp water (my tap water is awful, so I’m usually pouring bottled spring water anyway) & leaving the vessel out on the counter for an hour before I move it to the fridge for overnight. That period at room temp seems to help everything open up.

derk

Cool, I’ll have to give that a try.

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94

eastkyteaguy and Daylon R Thomas nailed the tasting notes of this tea.

Nov 2017 harvest.

This tea is fabulous. Incredible aroma, taste and aftertaste but too intense for me to be a daily drinker. It’s super floral without being entirely heady, green, fruity, citrusy, sweet, creamy and buttery. Long-lasting. Does well with a range of leaf amount and temperatures, today being 5g/150mL and 190F. I’ve used a gaiwan every time and will venture into western someday. I’m looking forward to drinking this baozhong on a cold and clear winter day. Even though it doesn’t snow here, I’d recommend it as a stunning accompaniment to an early spring snowmelt. Sitting outside, feeling the long-forgotten warmth of the sun, birds chirping. Oh yeah.

Edit: get all you can out of these leaves by doing a cold brew with the spent material. Oh yeah.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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89

Received as a 50g mystery tea.

Gone western. 2 tsp, 205F, 3/5/8min then 10min simmer.

Dry leaf is fragrant, smelling of cacao, caraway seed, roast, wood. Wet leaf after first steep smelled like raspberry, red cherry, roast, caraway seed and green pickle.

A stable and consistent, smooth tea brewed western. Liquor smelled of red fruit, malt, cocoa and orange? and produced a very clear light amber cup, turning to dark amber then light again. The taste had notes of nuts (closest I could get was roasted pecan, maybe brazil nut?), roast, wood, red fruit, cocoa and light mineral with a light sweetness and lingering pleasant aftertaste. The mouthfeel moved from glassy and milky (skim) to thinner and a tad drying, then thicker and slick in the third steep.

Simmering the leaves produced a brilliant and dark orange-red cup smelling of lactose, brown sugar, honey and roasted grains and/or nuts. Hard to say but I couldn’t stop sniffing it. It tasted and felt a lot like boiled milk with the addition of honey and roasted nuts, a hint of cacao and sweet citrus making an appearance in the back of the mouth. No hint of bitterness or astringency. Very comforting. Taste hung around for a long time and my tongue was left tingling. Really interesting! I’m glad I decided to experiment with simmering the leaves of a roasted jin xuan.

I’m pretty impressed with this tea! Check it out. I saw it’s on sale, too. I wish I wasn’t so stocked up at the moment with other teas (plus 2 big pu’er orders coming) or I’d buy more for the winter.

Preparation
2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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