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Recent Tasting Notes

July 2020 harvest

This tea would be a delight for flavor-focused drinkers, new and seasoned alike. It has all the right malty-but-not-heavy, fruity and baking spice notes, along with a strong florality that melds with those notes so well that it may be imperceptible. While the tea itself doesn’t have a lot of flavor beyond tanginess, the aromatics absolutely coat every surface of the mouth and into nose. That’s where the beauty of this tea lies. I swallow and the vibrant, complex aroma just lingers forever, transforming wildly over the minutes.

I’ve drank this tea both western and gongfu and my experience says western doesn’t do this tea justice. It still has all the notes, however a bit muddled and it must be steeped with more leaf than you’d think based on the aroma of the dry leaf alone. Either method doesn’t seem to amplify the body of the tea, though. It is always medium-bodied. This tea can take boiling water. Wait until it cools for a bit like an Assam black tea to be able to fully taste what it has to offer.

The one thing that keeps me from repurchasing this tea is that I am, without fail, grumpy after drinking it; that or I drink it when I’m unaware that I’m in a foul mood and having a cup of tea brings brings it to light. Either way, I don’t think it complements my constitution. It is a fairly cooling tea, and the feel and flavor profile speak to me as an early fall brew when warm days can still surprise.

I’ve had the Camellia formosensis species processed as an oolong that was not much to my tastes. If this Wild ‘Shan Cha’ is of the same species, I’m inclined to say that black tea processing does the species a great favor.

Flavors: Bark, Black Currant, Blackberry, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Geranium, Ginger, Green Wood, Lemon, Malt, Maple Syrup, Menthol, Mineral, Muscatel, Pine, Plum, Rainforest, Squash, Strawberry, Tangy

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Eureka! Huzzah! I let my husband take a whiff of my first cup from derk, promised him I would not force him to sample it, but he did anyway. First sip: “Well, it doesn’t taste like flowers.” Follow-up sip: “I approve.” High praise indeed!

Other reviews capture this a lot more eloquently, but if you want the quick Midwest farmer version—it’s a very stemmy oolong that tips the needle toward woody and twiggy rather than fruity and floral, especially as it cools. I saw comparisons to houjicha; I get that, and I’d add a similarity to kukicha—in my cup, anyway.

Hoping you are thankful today, even you friends who don’t get the day off! Tea friends are definitely on the list of blessings I’m counting!

Evol Ving Ness

Happy day of thanks to you!

derk

Happy Thanksgiving to you, gmathis.

Rosehips

Happy Thanksgiving!

CrowKettle

Happy Thanksgiving!

Martin Bednář

Happy Thanksgiving!

ashmanra

Happy Thanksgiving!

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92

Spring 2021 Harvest

I love Silver Needle more than words can express. It’s pure calm in a cup, it’s smoothness a balm to a turbulent day. My associations with this tea type are of cool spring rains, early bulb sprouts, new verdant grass, and the bliss of coming in to warm up in the old, red brick and cedar wood buildings in downtown Victoria.

A mouthful is like a timely visit to the spa – it’s clean cucumber water with a dash of lemon. This one has a lot of cucumber, and an increasing amount of thick, sweet melon to finish. On the fourth steep, the sweetness is so prevalent it’s almost jam-like.

Steep Count: 5 – and it was still going strong, even in western style, but then it was midnight, and this tea type actually has a lot of caffeine. I was so buzzed. Also, this tea is adaptable and forgiving – yielding flavourful cups regardless of temperature (ranging from 175F-195F).

Flavors: Citrus, Cucumber, Floral, Hay, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Melon, Sweet

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Mastress Alita

I love Silver Needle as well!

CrowKettle

:)

I was going to ask in my note if anyone else loves this tea style like I do. It’s one of my all-time favourites and I don’t drink it enough.

Evol Ving Ness

I’m putting it on my list.

ashmanra

You got me with melon

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This tea was a gift from the wonderful derk!

Yesterday I tried this western. The aroma is so powerful! I was hit smack in the face with rich, toasty aromas, nuts, a little honey, rich rye bread…so i was surprised at how light the color of the liquor was.

For the powerful scents, it was much more muted in taste and had a rather thin texture rather than the full and robust body I expected from the aroma. It was quite good, just not what I anticipated.

Today I had my first gong fu session in quite a while, sitting in the bow window watching the birds and the rabbits play. (We have had pet rabbits living at our end of the street for a few years now and everyone pitches in and takes care of them. They escaped from a breeder who didn’t care to recapture them. The adult couple was captured and neutered and the babies were given to good homes and to some of my students who we knew would be very good to them. They can not interbreed with our indigenous cottontails so no danger of hybridization.)

This is the best way to enjoy this tea. My first steep was pretty long for gong fu. I began with 30 seconds and detected no bitterness, so I added 15 seconds for each subsequent steep. The aroma is really toasty, almost burnt toasty like some DHP but not quite. How about rich, brown toasted rye bread? Body is a little thicker this way, and there was just a touch of toasted walnut, honey, and something floral – not a lot and more osmanthus or magnolia. I am leaning toward magnolia.

(Bird bath thus far – tufted titmouse, grey squirrel, Eastern bluebird, mockingbird, female cardinal, various sparrows, yellow pine warbler, and a brown headed nuthatch.)

Thank you, derk! I loved the two Huang Jin Gui oolongs I had tried, and it was a real treat to have a black huang jin gui!

tea-sipper

I love the idea neighborhood pets!

ashmanra

I just spotted them sitting by my car. Everyone keeps an eye on them, and there are frequent texts making the rounds some days, “Have you seen Lady? I saw Cowbury this morning but Lady hasn’t been seen since yesterday.” “Jason says Lady is under your truck. Check before you drive off!” Ha ha!

tea-sipper

haha. love it

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Nothing to add. I inhaled the cup without being particularly mindful of details. It was delicious—I remember that much.

gmathis

Speed of disappearance is a pretty good indicator of very good tea at my house!

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Well, this one, as derk noted previously, is very one and done. I tried resteeping and I tried coldsteeping the leaves and nope—very lacklustre.

It doesn’t matter though because that first steep, if you get it right, is glorious.

It gets a teensy bit sour as it cools, but never mind.

This tea I’ve noticed needs to be coddled a bit. Still, well worth the effort.

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I was so taken with this tea yesterday that I am having it again today. And again.

A bit harsh and tannic today, sadly. I may have either overleafed or oversteeped or both. Or maybe the water was hotter than yesterday.

Too bad. The kaleidoscope of flavours I was getting yesterday is mostly missing in this cup. Still a fine cup of tea though despite the bite.

I look forward to fiddling with it to recapture that perfect approach to this tea.

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Lovely. Stonefruit, chestnut, leather, and smooth. A bit of muscatel richness and body. And a slight smoky aspect.

I can’t recall whether I ordered this one or whether it was one of the mystery teas Alistair chose for me. Either way, this one is absolutely my cup of tea. Thank you, Alistair, for stocking this. It is absolutely a winner.

To be continued.

Flavors: Chestnut, Leather, Muscatel, Smoke, Stonefruit

Martin Bednář

I assume it is of the mystery teas, as I never saw it in common part of the shop.

Evol Ving Ness

You could be right, Martin.

derk

It was available for a bit, don’t know if it still is. I bought a bag after Martin shared with me. Really good black tea. If I hadn’t made a masala chai already, you would’ve inspired my morning cup, Evol Ving Ness.

Evol Ving Ness

I’m happy to hear that, derk. I am REALLY enjoying this. Having a cup now. This cup is a bit harsher than yesterday’s. I don’t know whether I overleafed or steeped too long. Not to worry, I predict this will be in my cup often enough to correct what has gone amiss this time.

Martin Bednář

I can just remember how good it was.
Getting tea from the UK seems difficult nowadays :(
I need to focus on EU based shops.

Evol Ving Ness

I suppose it will take a while until the UK figures itself out after the separation. Not easy on anyone, especially those In the UK who didn’t want to be separated in the first place.

Evol Ving Ness

And people who are separated from the teas they love, of course.

Martin Bednář

Not only UK figures. But all non-EU stuff. derk knows… about the tea I am about to get from her sent as a gift!

Evol Ving Ness

Martin, Alistair has posted that EU shipping has resumed.

Martin Bednář

Evol, yes, EU shipping has resumed, but customs in my country works slow (mostly because most of customs officers are helping with Covid-callcenters). And overall, it is rather nightmare to get it cleared through. Czech Post isn’t working much faster, it took them a week to pick up it on the customs to their warehouse; and 3 weeks from them to the customs.
So, nah for now.

Evol Ving Ness

Oh boy. That does sound like a nightmare.

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derk wrote such a well-crafted, detailed, accurate tasting note for this, I definitely can’t improve on it, but a few additional observations:

a) It holds up to my sloppy, ham-handed handling. That’s saying something for a (borrowed phrase) “snoot tea” :)

b) I would never associate menthol or cooling properties to an unflavored black tea, but it has and it does.

c) It just flat smells lovely.

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90

We’re keeping the reviews of these Australian teas coming over here. It’s a productive day on Steepster for me. Anyway, goofiness aside, this was the third of the Australian teas I tried last year. Honestly, I know I have stated that the Arakai Spring Premium Green Tea was my favorite, but I think this one was just as good. It had more of a typical green tea profile, but with some of the floral and fruity qualities that made the Spring Premium Green so appealing to me.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 167 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 emitted aromas of grass, hay, honey, and straw. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of orchid, lilac, zucchini, and asparagus. The first infusion introduced subtle aromas of baked bread and sugarcane. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of grass, hay, butter, zucchini, straw, asparagus, and chestnut that were balanced by hints of baked bread, sugarcane, honey, orchid, and lilac. The majority of the following infusions added aromas of butter, pear, plum, chestnut, green apple, and carrot as well as a stronger sugarcane aroma and subtle aromas of malt and cream. Stronger and more immediately apparent notes of honey and sugarcane came out in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, spinach, seaweed, summer squash, peas, lemon zest, squash blossom, carrot, pear, plum, malt, cream, and vegetable broth umami. Hints of apricot and green apple were present too. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, grass, hay, straw, malt, zucchini, spinach, cream, butter, peas, and seaweed that were chased by subtler impressions of carrot, baked bread, lemon zest, chestnut, green apple, pear, asparagus, and brothy umami.

This was a more powerful and complex tea than the previous Australian teas I had tried. It was also noticeably more energizing. While the other Australian teas were light and delicate, this one was big bodied, soupy, and thick. To me, it was like a mixture of some of the most appealing traits of some of my favorite green teas from Yunnan, Taiwan, and Japan. Though I did find it occasionally overwhelming, this was still a great green tea. I would love to take a second crack at it in the near future.

Flavors: Apricot, Asparagus, Baked Bread, Butter, Carrot, Chestnut, Cream, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Honey, Lemon Zest, Lilac, Malt, Mineral, Orchid, Pear, Peas, Plum, Seaweed, Spinach, Squash, Squash Blossom, Straw, Sugarcane, Umami, Zucchini

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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89

Okay, now we’re going from the first Australian tea I ever tried to the second. This was actually the first Australian tea I ever received, though I did not pay for it. It was provided as a free sample with one of my What-Cha orders from either late 2019 or early 2020, and I figured that I may was well order some of the other Australian teas What-Cha was stocking for comparison’s sake. I was impressed by how pleasant and smooth this tea was, though I also noted that it faded very quickly.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse (about 5 seconds), I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid 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 produced aromas of honey, malt, baked bread, blueberry, black raspberry, plum, and red grape. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, butter, and sweet potato. The first infusion added aromas of chocolate and straw. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, straw, cream, butter, baked bread, honey, roasted peanut, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of sweet potato, pear, red grape, and plum. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, moss, earth, minerals, and grass. Stronger and more immediately apparent notes of pear, plum, and red grape emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of blueberry, black raspberry, earth, minerals, orange zest, lemon zest, moss, grass, red apple, and brown sugar. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, earth, malt, grass, straw, roasted peanut, and roasted almond that were chased by fleeting hints of red apple, red grape, baked bread, honey, and brown sugar.

Though this was not the most complex or most durable black tea I have ever tried, it was definitely one of the smoothest and most approachable. It was aromatic and flavorful but also very gentle and did not overwhelm with its energy. While it may have been a slight disappointment immediately after trying the highly unique and memorable Arakai Spring Premium Green Tea, this was still a very high quality offering that was tremendously likable. Had it been a little more complex and not faded quite as quickly, it would have been a true knockout.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cream, Earth, Grapes, Grass, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Raspberry, Red Apple, Straw, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

This was another early 2020 sipdown. It was also the first Australian tea I ever tried. For whatever reason, I had passed on the opportunity to try the teas that What-Cha had been sourcing from Australia in prior orders, but after receiving a free sample of the Australia Arakai Spring Premium black tea with one of my orders, I decided to bite the bullet and order several of What-Cha’s other Australian offerings so I could compare them. I was not expecting much from them, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. This green tea may have been my favorite of the bunch.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 176 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 produced aromas of hay, grass, orange blossom, and orchid. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of malt, corn husk, raisin, fig, prune, and sour cherry. The first infusion introduced aromas of pineapple and mandarin orange. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of grass, hay, cream, corn husk, orchid, malt, honey, and golden raisin that were chased by hints of prune, fig, pear, orange blossom, green apple, mandarin orange, and pineapple. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of apricot, pear, green apple, spinach, cooked lettuce, plum, and lemon zest to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of pear, mandarin orange, green apple, and pineapple came out in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, apricot, cooked lettuce, spinach, butter, plum, sour cherry, honeydew, and lemon zest. As the the faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, grass, hay, cooked lettuce, and lemon zest that were chased by lingering hints of apricot, plum, green apple, honey, pear, prune, mandarin orange, cream, golden raisin, honeydew, and corn husk.

It’s always been rare for me to find overwhelmingly fruity green teas, but that was very much the sort of tea this was. Prior to trying this tea, I do not recall ever encountering such a fruity green tea. Though it peaked very quickly and faded just as quickly, this tea was incredibly enjoyable from start to finish. Definitely consider giving it a shot should What-Cha ever stock it again.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cherry, Corn Husk, Cream, Fig, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Honey, Honeydew, Lemon Zest, Lettuce, Malt, Mandarin, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Pineapple, Plum, Prune, Raisins, Spinach

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

After a few rough days, I’m back on here again. Yesterday, my car sprang a coolant leak, so that little electrical issue that I wanted to get taken care of is going to have to wait until I can get the coolant leak fixed. I also spent most of my afternoon cleaning out my dad’s goat barn. What followed was a night of sinus trouble. Oh, and I had a job interview at 8:15 in the morning yesterday. It did not go well. I actually got stopped and yelled at by one of the interviewers. Now, I get the experience of helping my father trim hooves this evening and then get to
work on my car in my driveway with my mechanic. My life is full of joy and wonder. Knowing that my evening is going to be hectic, I’m doing some writing now.

I’m dipping into the vast backlog again for this review. This was one of my sipdowns from either March or April of 2020. I still have a bunch from right around the time the pandemic hit. This was the last of the Jun Chiyabari oolongs that I tried during this time period, and though I found it to be a more or less great tea, it was my least favorite of the three.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 6 fluid ounces of 176 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 tea leaves produced aromas of cream, custard, cinnamon, vanilla, and baked bread. New aromas of orchid, grass, violet, spinach, and butter appeared along with traces of lilac after the rinse. The first infusion then introduced a dandelion aroma and very subtle orange blossom scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of orchid, violet, baked bread, custard, lilac, and grass that were chased by hints of spinach, dandelion greens, sweet corn, cream, butter, orange blossom, pear, and green apple. The bulk of the subsequent infusions added aromas of pear, lychee, plum, orange zest, green apple, almond, minerals, and green wood. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of dandelion greens, cream, butter, sweet corn, pear, and green apple emerged in the mouth with mineral, cinnamon, plum, dandelion, almond, hazelnut, green wood, and orange zest impressions in tow. I also found hints of vanilla, lychee, seaweed, and vegetable broth-like umami. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, cream, orange zest, butter, grass, dandelion, dandelion greens, and green wood that were chased by a swell of pear, green apple, plum, baked bread, brothy umami, violet, hazelnut, almond, orchid, spinach, and seaweed hints that lingered in the mouth and throat.

A very complex and unique Nepalese oolong, I was consistently intrigued by the tea liquor’s wonderful aromatics, texture, and lingering energy. It often suggested specific flavors more than it actually displayed them. I could see people who are into very aromatic oolongs loving this tea, but I could also see people who drink tea primarily for the feel and the lingering afterglow getting a big kick out of it. Personally, I’d be happy to try a future production of this tea, though I tend to be someone who goes a little more for aroma and flavor than for feel.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Custard, Dandelion, Grass, Green Apple, Green Wood, Hazelnut, Lilac, Lychee, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Pear, Plum, Seaweed, Spinach, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
CrowKettle

Oh, I liked this tea! (but I didn’t leave a note myself, um..)

I’m sorry to hear about the sinus trouble and the crummy interview! Kind of sounds like you might’ve dodged a bullet with a work environment where it’s normalized for people to communicate by yelling, but still… unpleasant.

Fascinating stuff with the goats. How many does he have?

eastkyteaguy

He has eight.

ashmanra

Hoping for much better days ahead for you!

mrmopar

Yeah don’t let life get you down my friend.

Martin Bednář

Some days are like that. Terrible is way too nice word.

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91

This was another sipdown of mine from very early in the year. I tried this tea a month or two after the First Flush Rohini Exotic White Tea, (which I still need to review), so I ended up trying this tea after its higher grade counterpart. I was not as wowed by the Exotic White Tea as I had hoped to be, so I was not expecting much of this tea. As it turned out, I enjoyed it more than its higher grade counterpart.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid 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 tea leaves produced aromas of roasted peanut, grass, hay, smoke, straw, and sugarcane. Fresh aromas of lemon zest, basil, baked bread, spearmint, and roasted almond emerged after the rinse. The first infusion added aromas of dandelion and violet. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted peanut, roasted almond, cream, baked bread, sugarcane, grass, hay, and vanilla that were backed by hints of violet, dandelion, pear, apple, custard, lemon zest, and straw. The majority of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of pear, apple, custard, minerals, vanilla, and white grape. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of violet, apple, straw, dandelion, pear, and lemon zest came out in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, orange zest, dandelion greens, white grape, spearmint, and basil. I also detected hints of thyme, nutmeg, anise, and smoke. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, grass, dandelion greens, cream, butter, baked bread, orange zest, white grape, and sugarcane that were chased by hints of hay, straw, roasted almond, basil, violet, vanilla, and lemon zest.

This was a very approachable and straightforward Darjeeling white tea with a balanced, likable mix of aromas and flavors. It was also a bit more complex and slightly more robustly bodied and textured than anticipated. It was a high quality offering overall. I had no real complaints with it.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apple, Baked Bread, Basil, Cream, Custard, Dandelion, Grass, Hay, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Smoke, Spearmint, Straw, Sugarcane, Thyme, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet, White Grapes

Preparation
145 °F / 62 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

This was one of my sipdowns from early in the year. I actually forgot that I had this tea in my cupboard and only got around to trying it shortly before its 36 month best by date expired. Fortunately, the tea was still vibrant in the mouth and seemed to have lost little of anything in extended storage. I greatly enjoy Ya Shi Xiang, so I would have been angry with myself if this tea had ended up being stale.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of roasted almond, orchid, orange blossom, cherry, vanilla, cream, and custard. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of smoke and cannabis. The first infusion introduced aromas of coriander, cooked lettuce, grass, and pomegranate. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, roasted almond, orange blossom, orchid, and butter that were chased by hints of custard, vanilla, baked bread, lychee, pomegranate, coriander, grass, cooked lettuce, pear, cannabis, and smoke. The majority of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of minerals, earth, orange zest, plum, peach, steamed milk, lychee, spinach, violet, and green wood. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of custard, vanilla, baked bread, grass, cooked lettuce, pear, and lychee emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of orange zest, honey, oats, peach, plum, caraway, violet, steamed milk, sugarcane, cherry, and green wood. Hints of earth, apple, cattail shoots, and spinach also appeared. As the tea faded, the liquor continued emphasizing notes of minerals, cream, butter, steamed milk, grass, pear, orange zest, sugarcane, green wood, and roasted almond that were chased by a swell of subtler, more delicate notes of custard, vanilla, cooked lettuce, plum, apple, lychee, coriander, orchid, orange blossom, honey, earth, spinach, and cherry.

This Ya Shi Xiang displayed good complexity and balance on the nose and in the mouth and produced a liquor with good body and great texture, but it was not the most vibrant or consistently engaging tea of this type that I have tried. I will say that this was obviously the product of a very high quality picking judging by the appearance of the tea leaves. Maybe I’m being too hard on this tea, but I found it to be a very good, very solid Ya Shi Xiang and nothing more. It did not really surprise me or captivate me in any way, but it was also simultaneously very enjoyable and very far from disappointing.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Butter, Cannabis, Caraway, Cherry, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Earth, Grass, Green Wood, Honey, Lettuce, Lychee, Milk, Oats, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Plum, Pomegranate, Smoke, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Leafhopper

I wonder if this is the same tea as the Ya Shi Xiang I bought last year. If so, you got more fruit out of it than I did.

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Just call me the Grand Dame of Unfinished Projects. By that chair, a rag-tied Christmas wreath, 1/16 done (needed to start it for proof of color concept). By this chair, two crochet projects; a scarf that could travel with me in the car on a trip to Kansas, and a shawl-ish thing that is bulky and can’t be done with a clingy cat on your lap. Down the hall, a folded basket of laundry that I haven’t put up; Mount To-Be-Read in various stacks and piles…

So what am I doing? Feet up watching old Muppets Tonight episodes. I have a crush on Bobo.

And to add a little class to my unscheduled pit stop, a cup of this really nice roasty-toasty oolong, courtesy of our friend derk. It strikes me as being very un-oolongy with a very gentle honey-wheat toast profile. I’ve often joked about my husband’s hyper-tuned floral sensor; I let him sample it and he picked up some jasmine and floral notes, which are confirmed somewhat by other reviews. But to me, those are very much in the background. A little loveliness in the midst of undone housework.

Rosehips

I find this highly relatable. And it sounds like a highly nice tea to enjoy a day with!

Evol Ving Ness

Absolutely with you there. Capture the loveliness! Also, it’s quite cool that you share your life with someone whose tastebuds are wired a bit differently than your own.

Lexie Aleah

Aww, that sounds like a cute wreath!

Leafhopper

That sounds like a lovely break from all the projects! I’m a world-class procrastinator, and the only reason I keep Mount To-Be-Read somewhat under control is that most of my books are from the library. (However, my library stopped charging late fees during the pandemic, so it’s a little less under control than it should be.)

gmathis

We live just outside of city limits, which nixes our library access without a pricey annual fee. (And you can’t read library books in the bathtub.) We have a couple of great used bookstores with very reasonable trade-in policies, and I’m the out of town book mule for a work friend who lives even farther out. She brings me her entire family’s castoffs to read or trade, as long as I pick authors I know she’ll like, too. Pretty good arrangement.

gmathis

Lexie Aleah, the wreath couldn’t be easier if you need to make some inexpensive gifts. A round wire Dollar Tree wreath form and some 99 cent bandanas cut into strips. Pick a color pattern and tie knots around the form to your heart’s content.

Michelle

Not having library access is just terrible, WY has a state wide elibrary with lots of popular books, and not so many obscure ones. E-readers are not so good for the bathtub, but convenient for travel. My mount-to-be read seems to grow without me looking, probably because ThriftBooks keeps sending me emails and their books can be less expensive than some fancy teas.

Mastress Alita

I work in a public library, and we are supported specifically off of our city’s property taxes, hense having to charge an annual fee to residents that don’t live within our city limits. Most of the smaller surrounding towns have their own local libraries, but opt for ours because it is much larger with a better selection. Our yearly fee for non-residents is less than the cost of two new hardback books, so I tell people to gauge off of that whether they think it would be worth it to them or not.

gmathis

That’s exactly how our library calculates the out of town rate—library costs of operation broken down per resident. I’ve considered buying a non-resident card several times…mostly my delays are prompted by personal foot-dragging and sloppy reading habits…if I don’t get bubble bath on my books, I spill lunch on them ;)

Kawaii433

I really like this particular tea, gmathis. I have bought it a couple of times. II still have a little left I think. It is very roasty, toasty, and comforting.

gmathis

I think I have enough left for one more nice sit-down. It has been a real treat!

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93

Okay, time to get another review out of the way and then head for bed. This was yet another early spring 2020 sipdown. I recall it being a tea I had been looking forward to trying for some time prior to actually making time for it. How did I end up liking it? Well, I enjoyed it tremendously. It actually exceeded my expectations. Though Qing Xin is a cultivar that is primarily used for oolong production, it actually is quite versatile, and while I was well aware of that prior to trying this tea, I was somewhat surprised to discover just how well it can work in the production of a green tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 158 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 produced aromas of cream, custard, baked bread, grass, lilac, and snap peas. After the rinse, I detected aromas of butter and zucchini. The first infusion introduced aromas of lemon zest and asparagus. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate notes of butter, cream, grass, zucchini, asparagus, and sugarcane that were chased by pleasant hints of custard, lemon zest, lilac, orange blossom, baked bread, violet, and sweet corn. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of cooked lettuce, spinach, cucumber, sweet corn, and lightly salty vegetable broth umami. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of lemon zest and sweet corn came out in the mouth alongside impressions of brothy umami, cooked lettuce, minerals, spinach, pear, green apple, yellow plum, and cucumber. I also picked up on hints of honey, vanilla, and seaweed. Notes of minerals, grass, cream, cooked lettuce, cucumber, spinach, brothy umami, and zucchini remained obvious as the tea faded, though they gave way to hints of butter, seaweed, lemon zest, honey, sugarcane, snap peas, and asparagus after each swallow.

While I wish that some of this tea’s lovely floral characteristics had been a little more apparent, I really could not find much else to fault with it. This was a truly lovely green tea from a place not typically renowned for its green tea production. The tea was aromatic, flavorful, balanced, firm, crisply textured, and very, very drinkable and relaxing. Overall, this offering was an absolute gem.

Flavors: Asparagus, Baked Bread, Butter, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Grass, Green Apple, Honey, Lemon Zest, Lettuce, Lilac, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Pear, Plum, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla, Violet, Zucchini

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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94

This was one of my sipdowns from the early months of 2020. I want to say I composed the notes for this review in either late March or early April. I know that I was drinking this tea either immediately before or immediately after Covidmania reached these parts. At the time, I wasn’t expecting much. My previous encounters with Doke teas had left me unimpressed. This tea, however, struck me as being great. I enjoyed it much more than the previous two reviewers.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 buds emitted aromas of hay, straw, sugarcane, marshmallow, cedar, and eucalyptus. I also picked up a hint of smokiness in the background. After the rinse, aromas of cucumber, cannabis, butter, and roasted peanut emerged. In addition to the subtle smokiness in the background, I picked up another subtle scent that reminded me of sorghum molasses. The first infusion added mineral, cooked lettuce, pea, grass, and lemon zest aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor initially offered notes of cream, butter, hay, smoke, straw, corn husk, cucumber, cooked lettuce, and grass before hints of cannabis, sorghum molasses, horehound, roasted peanut, and fresh peas started to emerge. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of malt, peppermint, plum, green apple, coriander, white grape, horehound, zucchini, corn husk, and orange zest. None of the previously mentioned flavors immediately faded or intensified, but new impressions of minerals, sugarcane, marshmallow, lemon zest, zucchini, coriander, orange zest, malt, white grape, sour plum, sour apricot, green apple, pear, and lychee appeared. Hints of cedar, peppermint oil, eucalyptus, and white pepper could be found as well. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, coriander, grass, cooked lettuce, green apple, cucumber, pear, lemon zest, sugarcane, white grape, cream, butter, zucchini, and straw that were chased by pleasant, lingering hints of horehound, sorghum molasses, malt, roasted peanut, orange zest, sour plum, hay, and peppermint oil.

Compared to the other Doke teas that I previously tried, this one was much more rewarding and likable. I appreciated that it had a very unique character; it was not all that comparable to the other Silver Needles that I tried prior to trying it. It did not even really have all that much in common with other Indian white teas. I also appreciated its relative lack of bitterness and astringency, characteristics that I had found to be distracting and unpleasant in other Doke teas. While the two previous reviewers seemed to enjoy this tea to a certain extent, I loved it. It was a very worthy offering.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cannabis, Cedar, Coriander, Corn Husk, Cream, Cucumber, Eucalyptus, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Lemon Zest, Lettuce, Lychee, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Peas, Pepper, Peppermint, Plum, Smoke, Straw, Sugarcane, White Grapes, Zucchini

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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70

Good but not a rush to get again. Lovely sample to get though. I can only describe it as a green somewhere between Chinese corn/grass/hay and Japanese broth/vegetal/soupy.

Flavors: Chestnut, Grass, Nutty, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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I used my last few leaves grandpa"ish" in a nice large steeping bag and have been dunking and sipping off and on all day, trying to catch the blackberry notes that keep recurring in reviews. Had to neglect the last half cup and let it get stone cold, but boomph! there it is…the berry-curranty thing I had been chasing. This has been easy to steep and lots of fun to ponder.

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(Moving a note to the correct tea. I got my shan’s mixed up.)

The scent of this long-leafed delectation alone is swoon-worthy. There. I used a big word. Now back to my regular wonky vocabulary. It smelled like fresh-baked pumpkin bread or gingerbread as it steeped. The sweet bread vibe continues in the cup, with something deliciously rich and fruity going on. Essence of stewed sweet black cherries, maybe, that stays in your mouth long after each sip.

Dearest derk, thank you for a tea to think about!

Evol Ving Ness

Wow, this one sounds very lovely.

gmathis

Other reviews don’t mention precisely the same flavor tones that I do, but “fruity” does seem to be a common denominator.

CrowKettle

Mmm, Wild Shan Cha’s are usually wonderful.

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(Oops. removing and correcting a very complimentary note for a completely different tea!)

https://steepster.com/teas/what-cha/79877-taiwan-wild-shan-cha-black-tea

gmathis

Tazo’s on my lap snoozing, so I can’t get up to check the bag…I did write this without the label under my eyes, so I could’ve crossed up the name. I’ll retract or correct soon :)

derk

I want to leave some kind of proverb about lap-napping cats but I got nothin.

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Within three blocks of where I live, there are four bakeries and cafes where I can pick up almond croissants. Thankfully, I don’t succumb very often. Yesterday, I did. The ones I picked up were a bit dry but delicious. I am having them now with this tea.

I could probably drink this tea every day. It has a nice heft, a malty sweetness and depth. It is good hot, lukewarm, and left over from the day before. :)

I’m also looking for a Keemun that is slightly smoky. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

One day, I am going to pick up an almond croissant from each of these places and do a taste-off to find my favourite. As is, I don’t eat croissants often enough to remember that variations which my neighbourhood has on offer.

derk

My town needs more bakeries. Have an almond croissant for both of us, please :)

Leafhopper

Too many sources of almond croissants is a good problem to have. :)

Evol Ving Ness

Totally agree, Leafhopper. It’s quite amazing—even when one Hungarian then another French bakery closes, another one or two crop up. Clearly, this is an area that likes its butter and flaky pastry.

Derk, you don’t need to ask me twice :)

Evol Ving Ness

And you probably have an assortment of killer taco and burrito options in your ‘hood.

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