Xin Mu Cha

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Nonpareil Taiwan shanlinxi black tea from xin mu cha review

Ru Yao dragon teapot. Gongfucha:

Dry leaf: green, sweet (unlike typical black teas)

Wet leaf: slightly green, sweet spicy and roasted. (Smells more like a black tea now)
(i forgot to take a picture, silly me.)

1x medium steep
Rest: 10min

Light steep: I taste/smell; light —→ sweet, fruit (blueberries), spices, wood, smoke.

Medium steep: I taste/smell strong smoke. Medium —→ sweet, smoke, fruit (blueberries) wood, spices.

Heavy steep: I taste/smell; medium —→ sweet, smoke, wood, spices, fruit (blueberries).

All in all this is quite a yummy tea. It’s like a mix of oolong and black tea.

Since this is a black tea, and I’m not much for black teas, I rate a 90

i recommend this tea for those who want to try something like an oolongy black tea

Flavors: Fruity, Green, Roasted, Smoke, Spices, Sweet, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 7 tsp 165 OZ / 4879 ML

it was yummy, but like i said, i’m not into black tea much :(

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Winter essence. By xin mu cha tea review

Ru Yao dragon teapot, gongfucha.

Dry leaf: fruity (unknown), sweet.

Wet leaf: asparagus, green, floral, sweet, roses, fruity (peach).
1x medium rinse

Light steep: I taste/smell; slight roses. Light —→ green, asparagus, floral, fruity (peaches) seaweed, wet wood.

Medium steep: I taste/smell; light roses. Medium —→ green, asparagus, floral, fruity (peaches and berries), seaweed, wet wood.

Heavy steep: I taste/smell; slight —> roses, seaweed. Medium -→ fruity (peaches and berries). Strong —→ floral, green, wet wood

All in all, this is an amazing tea! The smell, taste and cha qi! Lovely! I rate a 100

a note from sean:

Growing from Li Shan, the middle high mountain area of Taiwan, where the altitude is about 2,400m. This area is the top premium high mountain tea growing place in Taiwan. Our winter essence oolong tea not only has the extremely smooth soft texture, but also layer upon layer floral fruity after taste strike in the throat. This is our top premium and very limited batch of high mountain Li Shan oolong tea.

Flavors: Asparagus, Floral, Fruity, Green, Rose, Seaweed, Sweet, Wet Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 7 tsp 6 OZ / 165 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Rose is an interesting floral for an Li Shan.

Daylon R Thomas

And it had to be sold out. Just right when I was getting into more High Mountain Oolongs.


aww :(. yeah i thought it tasted like roses

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Nonpareil Taiwan Ali-Shan Jin-Xuan tea.

Ru Yao dragon teapot gongfucha

Dry leaves: wine, floral and asparagus.

Wet leaves: wine. Floral and asparagus

Light steep: I taste/smell; light —→
Sweetness. Floral, grass, Fruit (peaches), asparagus.

Medium steep: I taste/smell; medium sweetness. Light —→ floral, grass, fruit (peaches), asparagus

Heavy steep: I taste/smell; strong sweetness. Medium —→ floral, grass, fruit (peaches and berries), asparagus.

All in all this is an amazing tea! I rate a 100 because it is just lovely! The aroma, the flavours. Just lovely.

bonus photo:

Flavors: Asparagus, Berries, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Peach, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 7 g 6 OZ / 165 ML

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ru yao dragon teapot gongfucha style

Dry leaves: I smell floral notes.

Wet leaves: I smell strong floral and slight fruity notes.

Light steep: I taste/smell light floral notes. Barely noticeable mineral notes and barely noticeable fruity (berries) notes

Medium steep: I smell/taste medium to strong floral notes. Medium mineral notes and medium fruity (berries) notes.

Heavy steep: I taste/smell heavy floral notes. Heavy mineral notes. Heavy fruity notes (strong berries and light peach)

All in all this is a great tea. Great for new and experienced oolong tea fans.

Additional info

Growing from La La Shan, the northern high mountain area of Taiwan, where the altitude is about 1,500m. This area is the new top premium high mountain tea growing place in Taiwan. Although the altitude is similar to Ali Shan, Li Shan area, the tea is growing better because of its north latitude and lower average annual temperature. The tea tastes softer, smoother, sweet, and comes with an unique mountain forest after taste.

Flavors: Berries, Floral, Mineral, Peach

200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 6 OZ / 165 ML

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You know what I need, a new Paleontology themed book, my pocket guide to dinosaurs (in case of time travel emergency) is super out-dated. This of course makes me think of the ways that Ark veers away from current accepted theories, like the way the Beezlebufo is ridable. And has become my favorite mode of transportation. Granted the Beezlebufo was a monstrously big prehistoric froggy, though it sadly was not quite as big as in the game, sadly. I wish it were that big…and still alive…and ridable, because I would definitely use the giant frog as a my way of going everywhere. Not that I really ever leave the house, but still!

Today is the last of my sample pile from Xin Mu Cha, their Taiwan Premium Aged Ginger and Brown Sugar Tea, alas not in their store yet. This is a medicinal tea that is made from aged ginger and brown sugar, though apparently this is drink is commonly made with Chinese brown sugar which tastes different from western stuff. Theoretically this tea is used medicinally to treat PMS symptoms and since it is ginger, belly woes. I consume a lot of ginger to help with my chronic vertigo induced nausea, so I am always pleased to try it in a new way. The aroma of the granular powder is a powerful punch of ginger and sweetness, it very strongly reminds me of the gummy ginger candies I get at the local Chinese market (I call them my car sick treat since I always have since I always keep them in the car) though apparently my brand of choice is actually from Indonesia. It is super sweet and very warming, but I absolutely adore ginger.

Blending the powder with water and giving it a stir gives me a rich amber color liquid and fills the room with sweet ginger aroma. Man, this stuff was awesome, a really potent ginger mixed with a wonderful warm and rich sweetness. It tastes exactly like the ginger candies I love, but if you are not familiar it is somewhat like gingerbeer but not cold and certainly not fizzy. I was sent three packets of this and I tore through it super quickly, it was really easy to make (hot water and stir, done) which made for an excellent late night sweet treat for pre-sleep laziness. The only thing I can say is avoid like the plague if you dislike strong ginger, but if you like it definitely get some, it is super sweet and rich and I loved it. I WANT MORE!!!

For blog and photos:


I think this is my long lost ginger tea! I had this incredibly rich sweet ginger tea in a restaurant once and asked the server how it was made. She looked at me like I was nuts and said it was just ginger and sugar. But I knew better! I had never had ginger tea with that depth of flavor before. What if this is it?? Must look into membership.

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Yep, I am still marathoning Ark: Survival Evolved, my obsessive tendencies and a game that is so much fun is just a wonderful combination, but I do occasionally do other things. Like just last I finally talked Ben into watching Beetlejuice, see he is not a huge Tim Burton fan having not grown up with him and lacking the nostalgia and also coming into his oeuvre once it has (at least in my opinion) gone really stale, so he was not really interested in it. This movie was a favorite of mine as a kid, so I was glad I was able to convince him, and it turns out he liked it. Certainly made me nostalgic for days when his style was more unique and not so saturated in itself!

But I am not a movie reviewer, my specialty is why you are all here, usually nerdy intro paragraph aside. Today is an herbal tea from Xin Mu Cha, not yet on their website, it is Premium Fried Black Bean Tea, yes this is another one of those roasted grain teas that are very popular in Asia, and with good reason they taste amazing. Giving this a bit of a look up since it was new to me, I found out it is usually made from Kuromame or black soy beans and is touted as a weight loss aide, but considering I would prefer to gain weight perhaps I will just look at this for its taste like I usually do with teas. These arrived in a teabag but I preferred to brew them in a steeping basket, so out of their little bag they came for a good sniffing. The aroma is super roasted, strong notes of soy beans, burnt beans, and a tiny bit like coffee beans. It is a blend of savory and sweet and even though it smells a little bit like pinto beans left on the stove and burnt a bit, the aroma is mouthwatering, but I really like eating beans.

Into my cup of hot water the basket goes, since this tea is popular in Japan among other places I decided to use my bamboo steeping basket and Somayaki cup, because I can be thematic once in a while! The steeped beans smell, well, like beans, with a toasted coffee and burnt undertone and a subtle sweetness. The liquid is much the same, it is beans all the way down with this brew.

This is an odd thing, but odd in a very pleasant way! The roasting of the beans brings out a sweetness that reminds me a bit of adzuki beans, but with a powerful roasted undertone. It goes from this initial sweet to a richer nuttier roast, again reminding me a bit of coffee’s smell but not its taste. The aftertaste on this brew is very rich, nutty and sweet with a hint of pinto beans that lingers for a while. I really enjoyed this stuff and foresee myself either buying more or roasting my own, there is something just so incredibly comforting about roasted grains on a cold night before sleep/

For blog and photos:

Daylon R Thomas

They sell that in cans at local “Oriental Marts” and I’ve been tempted to try it. Those probably aren’t as good, but probably not bad. And I miss good Tim Burton. The only reason why I’d see Alice if for Alan Rickman now.


The bean tea sounds good. I wonder if they have that at any local Asian markets. I’m curious to try it. I’ve found corn and barley tea, but never looked for beans.

I also did not see Beetlejuice as a kid, nor a lot of Tim Burton things. I watched some of them as an adult. Beetlejuice was one that I definitely felt like a fish out of water watching, lacking the nostalgia factor. I felt the same way about Nightmare Before Christmas. On the other hand, I really liked Edward Scissorhands. I am always finding out that Tim Burton is responsible for movies I didn’t know he was (like Beetlejuice). It may excite you, or make you nervous, to know that a sequel to Beetlejuice has been announced.


I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they sold this at 888, or at the least the beans to roast. I actually prefer his older stuff like Mars Attacks and Beetlejuice, I used to love Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands but got soooo burned out on them (perks? of being a goth kid in high-school I guess)

I had seen there was going to be a sequel and just rolled my eyes, nothing more timely then an almost 30 year sequel! Though if it is as bad as his Dark Shadows remake at least it will be hilarious to mock

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Nonpareil Taiwan Ali-Shan Oolong Tea

Dry leaves: I smell floral and fruity notes.
Note:I forgot to take a picture. Looks like little rolled leaves.

Wet leaves: I smell strong floral notes and a light fruit note.

Light steep: I smell/taste medium floral notes and light fruit notes. (Sort of peachy)

Medium steep: I taste/smell medium floral notes. Medium fruity (peachy) notes. Light mineral notes.

Heavy steep: I taste/smell strong floral notes. Strong fruity notes (peachy) medium mineral notes

All in all this is a great tea :D great for experienced oolong fans and beginner oolong fans alike.

Growing from Ali-Shan, the southern high mountain area of Taiwan where the altitude ranges from 1,000 to 1,500m. The climate and environment is very suitable for tea tree growing.

This Qing-Xing Oolong cultivar has light milk aroma, fresh floral flavor with smooth throat sweetness and most importantly, the Ali-Shan mountain flavor from its growing environment.

This is a recommended must try for a start of Taiwan High Mountain Tea journey

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Mineral, Peach

200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 6 OZ / 165 ML

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I am still very much so enjoying Ark: Survival Evolved, if anyone was curious. Currently I am taming an Ankylosaurus because they are quite utile little spike balls, and then I will be gathering chiton to make a saddle for my Pterandon. Ah, this game, it has re-awakened my never really asleep love of dinosaurs, and for that I am grateful! As a kid it was my dream to be a Paleontologist, it might have been my first aspiration before other history and science obsessions took over, I never stopped wanting to be one though. In fact a year or so ago I got an intro to Paleontology certification from the University of Alberta via Coursera, because it is never to late in life to at least dabble in past dreams!

Today is another offering from Xin Mu Cha, their Winter Essence – Taiwan Premium High Mountain Oolong, an Oolong from Fu Shou Shan, a mountain in the Lishan Range, and made from the Qing-Xing Cultivar. Opening the pouch for this tea is quite the treat, a real powerhouse aroma that instantly greeted my nose. Blending floral and sweet nutty notes, I detected honeysuckle, chestnuts, sesame seeds, sugar cane, and a sweet baked cake note that ended with wonderful sweetness. The only real floral note I got was honeysuckle, and I am totally ok with that because fun fact, it is one of my favorite flowers to sniff.

Gaiwan time, and wow, the leaves are much richer this time around, not only are there notes of honeysuckles, but it is joined with orchid and hyacinth. It smells much like nectar with a sweet sugar cane undertone and a hint of chestnuts. The liquid is buttery sweet nectar, it smells thick and rich with heady tones of honeysuckle, hyacinth, lilac and orchid. The name of this tea is Winter Essence, but it smells like the height of spring time.

The first steep kinda stole my heart, not through taste or aroma, but through the amazing mouthfeel. Smooth and supple, like liquid silk, it coats the mouth but is gentle with it. I honestly was so wrapped up in the mouthfeel I almost forgot to pay attention to how the tea tastes! I did, however finally pay attention, I was greeted with notes of sweet peas and sugar cane, apple pears and butter head lettuce, and the finish, well, it is a lingering mouthful of honeysuckle nectar.

Second steeping, and the aroma is very floral, strong notes of hyacinth and lilac blend with honeysuckles and a touch of spicy lilies. Along side this sweet floral nectar is a green blend of lettuce and fresh spinach, tying the green into the flowers. Again, the mouthfeel of this tea is the real show stealer, thick and supple, it really has quite the presence. The taste is very light, similar to the first steep but with a slightly greener and buttery tone to it.

Third steeping’s aroma is still floral, with the same flowers as before, but at the end it kinda explodes into orchid, it was one of those ‘did I just stick my nose in a flower’ moments, catching myself before I dipped my nose in the tea thankfully. That mouthfeel keeps blowing me away, it is so thick and silky, supple and bordering on oily, it is dense and I found myself wanting to take big gulps of it rather than sipping. The taste is still light and sweet, with a pretty even balance of green lettuce and sweet floral. I kept this tea going for nine steeps, the taste never really gets strong, but that mouthfeel was so intense I find myself relieved that it was not overwhelming, I might have fainted away into a tea fugue!

For photos and blog:


It looks like this vendor sells on a membership basis. Are you a member, or familiar with it?


I am not, alas.


Thx anyway!

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When I smell the beans dry, I smell roasted peanuts.

When I smell the brewed tea, I smell roasted peanuts and spices

When I taste the brewed tea, I taste roasted peanuts and light spices.

I tried eating the beans but it’s too hard without bottom teeth

I rate this tea a 100 because it is just lovely

many thanks to Sean Lau for this free sample. i will order some someday and do a gongfucha review

Flavors: Peanut, Roast Nuts, Spices

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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There’s really no way to brew this gong fu cha style

When I smell the powder dry, I smell sweetness and ginger

When I smell the brewed tea, I smell sweetness and a medicinal smell.

When I taste the brewed tea, I taste spices, ginger, and sweetness. Like a cup of mr. Noodles.

Really heats up my throat lol

I rate this a 100 because it is yummy.

Many thanks to Sean lau for this free sample

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Ginger

200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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We might get snow next week! Yay! Granted it might only be a couple inches, but the way this winter is going it is certainly better than nothing. I love snow, it is one of my favorite forms of weather, rivaled by storms and beaten by the epic thundersnow! Several years ago when I was living in Pennsylvania we had a freak week before Halloween blizzard, it was a photographer’s dream and I indulged fully. While out walking under the large flakes and heavy with snow trees I saw a blinding flash and then a massive crash of thunder, it was not the most epic of thundersnows (several years earlier it was a full on massive storm during a Nor’easter) but it was the only time I was outside during one and it was close enough to make me feel static in my fillings!

Today I am taking a look at another tea from Xin Mu Cha, their Vivid Retention – Taiwan Premium High Mountain Oolong, hailing from high on La La Shan in northern Taiwan. This is their premium and limited edition batch, so seeing how it compares to their other La La Shan Oolong will be fascinating. The aroma of the very tightly curled leaves is immensely sweet and creamy, it is no stretch to say it is mouth watering! Strong notes of cashews, cake batter, sesame seeds, and cane sugar blend with heady notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom, and sweet pea flowers. There is an underlying and distant note of butterscotch which I found really fun, it added a depth to the sweetness.

Brewing the leaves retains the sweet and floral notes but also brings out some green. Buttery snap peas blend with gentle lettuce and sorrel, then comes in notes of honeysuckle and hyacinth, with a finish of cane sugar, cashews, and a touch of pepper at the end. The liquid is sweet and starchy, yeasty cake batter and cane sugar mix with honeysuckle and cashews, with a crisp butterhead lettuce note at the finish.

The first steep starts out gentle and surprisingly green, it is more buttery than sweet. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, mouth coating without being oily, it has just the right amount of thickness. I still think after all these years, the mouthfeel of tea might be one of my favorite parts of the experience. It starts with crisp notes of butterhead lettuce and cooked bok choy with undertones of butter. This moves to sweetness in the form of cashews and honeysuckles, and a finish of honey and a slightly starchy aftertaste that lingers.

For the second steep, the aroma is both buttery and sweet, notes of bok choy and cashew mix with hyacinth and honey, it balances the sweetness making it not overly sweet. The tasting starts with buttery green cooked bok choy and lettuce, with a touch of lotus leaves and cooked bamboo, This moves to a very intense burst of chestnuts and cashews with a strong note of honeysuckle. The finish is a wonderfully sweet note of sugar cane with a lingering accompaniment of snap peas adding a bit of green with the sweetness.

Third steeping time and the aroma has taken on a mostly sweet and floral tone, with notes of honeysuckle, hyacinth, and sugar cane along with a gentle undertone of lettuce. The taste is also more sweet this time around, the green notes of lotus leaf and gentle butter are all that lingers from the previous steeps. After this initial green buttery notes, there are sugar cane and pecan notes, along with sweet chestnut and honeysuckle. The finish has a note of snap peas and cane sugar, both which linger. This was a very enjoyable tea, it had a suitableness to it that I found very relaxing and refreshing, and of course it lasted many more steeps.

For blog and photos (lots of droplets)


Your photos are so good.


Vivid Retention? Wonder if it is a diuretic… (Adds to list)


Thanks Nicole! I am so glad to have a functioning camera, it makes taking blog photos so much fun.

Cwyn it didn’t make me pee more than normal after many many steeps :P

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As you might all know, I have been in a funk lately…SAD getting me down, hand arthritis keeping me from painting, fibromyalgia pain keeping me from being overly intellectual and delving into research…all I have is Minecraft and tea, which honestly isn’t that bad since both of these are great passions of mine. Ben, knowing I am just a pile of grumpiness surprised me today, I had to go to CVS to get some toiletries and afterwards he took me for Greek food! I absolutely love Greek food and could possibly live off of feta and kalamata olives if left to my own devices. The restaurant had a video of beautiful scenery of Greece and I found myself munching on olives while daydreaming about the Mediterranean. A very pleasant treat.

Today I am taking a look at another tea from Xin Mu Cha, their Nonpareil Taiwan Ali-Shan Fo-Shou Oolong. I have not had a Fo Shou in quite some time, this tea is grown both in Taiwan and Wuyi, and its name means Buddha’s Palm, I have seen that this name is both a reference to the fruit due to its subtle citrus notes or because the leaves are really big like the Buddha’s palm. This Fo Shou comes from Ali Shan, a tea mountain I find myself visiting often…and by visiting I mean I have had many Oolongs from there, and they never disappoint. The aroma of this Oolong is very sweet, blending notes of yeasty orchids, honeysuckles, hyacinth, and a distinct orange blossom and grapefruit flower note blended with honey. There is a citrus quality, but to me it smells more of citrus flowers, bringing back happy memories of visiting the local conservatory.

My XiShi has felt sad and neglected lately, so I pulled her off the shelf and stuffed her full of leaves. Wow, the aroma of the wet unfurling leaves is intense stuff! Strong notes of orchid and honeysuckle with an accompaniment of grapefruit blossom and distant lemon zest. There are also underlying notes of buttery green cooked spinach. The liquid is a light blend of sweetness and flowers, bringing in nectar of hyacinth and grapefruit blossom with honey and a touch of buttery sweetness.

For the first steeping I was pleasantly greeted with a very mellow smooth taste, the texture is soft and smooth, bordering on velvety without being thick. The flavor notes start out floral with notes of hyacinth and orchid, this transitions to gentle green notes of lemon leaves and cooked bok choy and butter. For the finish, this might be my favorite part of this tea, the finish is cooked lotus leaves with an aftertaste of flower nectar sweetness.

Second steeping time, the aroma is a blend of buttery bok choy, spinach, lotus leaves and flowery notes of grapefruit blossom, orchids, and hyacinths. This steep is very smooth and thick, not oily like some Oolongs, but velvety and soft while filling the mouth, it is a very pleasant texture. The taste is more green than sweet, though it is not outright savory, very buttery and green like bok choy and spinach with a mineral note at the middle. Towards the end a note of cooked cabbage and lotus leaves pops up, but the finish is sweetness. Blending honeysuckles and grapefruit blossoms, the flowery sweetness lingers well after the sip is finished.

The third steep has such lovely amber colored liquid, the color could fool me into thinking this was a lightly roasted Oolong, but the aroma and taste tell me otherwise. The aroma is green and flowery, balanced in this with notes of lotus leaves and bok choy along with grapefruit blossoms and orchids. The taste this time around has only a hint of the buttery green notes of the previous steep, instead it is zesty and bright with notes of lemon leaves and lotus leaves. This moves to orchids and honey with a lingering note of grapefruit blossom in the aftertaste. The leaves gave me a couple more steeps, getting sweeter as it finished.

For blog and photos:


What a lovely treat! I am sorry you have been feeling down, though. Hope it gets much better soon!

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Espeon is a total goofball! On New Years Day the local thrift stores all had a half-off sale, and I decided to go hunting teaware and more importantly go hunting a new desk chair, because my previous one was barely functioning. The arm grips were ragged messes held together with duct tape, it was missing bolts so it leaned precariously to one side, and it barely rolled right anymore…it was in a sad state. Luckily I found a fantastic new chair, it rolls like a dream, is surprisingly comfy, delightfully retro (it came from 1993 or so the sticker would have me believe) and has a nice high back. This high back has become a favorite perch for Espeon, especially when I am in the chair (I fear for the teaware behind me, her tail is a menace) except she has decided the best way to go about perching is to have her back half on the chair and her front half draped across my shoulder. This is all fine, except when I move she gets sooooo mad at me, she is a spoiled little tortie!

Cat drama aside, it is time to look at another tea from Xin Mu Cha, specifically their Nonpareil Taiwan ShanLinXi Black Tea. This tea is not on their website at this time, so I don’t have much info for it other than it is a Black Tea and from Shan Lin Xi, a region that has produced many teas I have enjoyed. I always find Shan Lin Xi Oolongs to be very aromatic and crisp, so seeing the tea made into a black tea excites me, I have a weakness for teas that are usually processed a specific way being treated differently, it creates some exciting results. The aroma of the rather fluffy large leaves is intense, notes of molasses and malt, leather and apple wood, toasted peanuts, sweet potatoes, and a finish roasted beans. It has a starchy quality and a subtle sweetness.

Into the gaiwan the leaves go for their steeping, the aroma of the now soggy leaves is rich with notes of cocoa and malt, sweet potatoes, molasses. and underlying notes of gentle spice and sweetness. The liquid is quite sweet, malty and molasses notes are dominant with a touch of dry leather and cocoa. It is strong and rich, with a touch of briskness that acts as a good balance to the richness.

The first steep starts with a smooth mouthfeel, and a taste that is rich without being overpowering. The taste starts with starchy sweet potatoes and gentle spice, it has an autumnal feel to it. It then moves to malt and a lingering fruity tobacco finish, the aftertaste is honey and slightly woody and it lingers.

Onward to the second steep! The aroma is a blend of molasses and brown sugar with gentle notes of leather and cocoa. It is sweet and rich, with just the right amount of briskness to wake my nose up. The taste is very similar to the first steep, and just as smooth. Notes of ever so slightly autumnal sweet potato and pumpkin with baked fruit (specifically apple) and gentle spice. It moves to brown sugar and molasses at the finish and has a slight leather note in the aftertaste.

For the third steep, the aroma takes a bit of a creamy note with the notes of molasses and brown sugar, the leathery notes are gone and replaced with gentle fruitiness. The taste takes some notes from the aroma and has a creamy quality, any briskness from the previous steeps has left and it is all smooth sweetness all the times. It finishes with baked apples and sweet potatoes with a lingering molasses note.

For blog and photos:

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Thank my lucky stars, my camera is back and functioning again. Sadly I do have several teas where my only option was to photograph them with my phone, but it is not terrible, just not what I prefer. On a completely unrelated note, Ben challenged me to build Neuschwanstein Castle in Minecraft…ughhh that will be an undertaking. My sky castle is vaguely inspired by it, since it is my favorite castle and that little bit of Bavarian history has been a favorite area of study of mine since I was a youngin’ so you know, why not? It is not like I get tired of ridiculously huge builds or anything.

Shortly before Christmas, new to me company Xin Mu Cha contacted me to review some of their teas, this excited me immensely because they specialize in Taiwanese teas, yes, it is well known I get excited over teas from Taiwan at this point, they were my first love and have stayed at the forefront of my attention since I was a teenager. Today’s tea is Nonpareil Taiwan LaLa Shan Oolong, a green Oolong from not often talked about LaLa Shan in northern Taiwan, and let me tell you, LaLa Shan is gorgeous! From what I can tell (and I might be wrong on this one) LaLa Shan is similar to Da Yu Ling where the majority of the area is a nature preserve and there are only a few tea farms high in the mountains. From the moment I opened the little vacuum sealed pouch I was greeted with a powerfully aromatic tea. Notes of creamy custard and sesame seeds dance with cane sugar and snap peas, with an accompaniment of yeasty sweet cake batter and spring flowers.

Gaiwan time, at first I was torn between brewing this tea in a gaiwan or my XiShi, but I really wanted to see the leaves unfurl, glad I did too because there were some real beauties in this leaf pile. The aroma of the wet and slowly unfurling leaves is a powerhouse of floral, strong notes of iris, hyacinth, narcissus, dianthus, and lotus. The blend of flowers with notes of creaminess and vanilla give it a slight baby powder aroma which I found quite fascinating, it was heady and very sweet. The liquid of the first steep is sweet! Notes of honey and creamy custard blend with lots of heady floral notes, lilac, hyacinth, and dianthus with a touch of honeysuckle and a yeasty sweetness at the finish. Very spring bouquet tea going on here.

First steep is surprisingly thick on the mouthfeel, it is buttery and heavy, I feel as though I am sinking into a warm pile of flower petals. I think that is why I love these floral oolongs, they are vaguely intoxicating, much like being in a hot house full of full bloom flowers but I get to drink it in rather than just smell it. Yes, this tea is sweet and creamy, but it is very floral, strong notes of hyacinth and dianthus with a slight hint of sassafras flowers and lotus. The finish is a blend of sesame seeds and snap peas adding a touch of green to the sweet headiness.

Second steeping’s aroma is intensely heady, strong notes of lilac, dianthus, and hyacinth dance out of my cup. Tasting this tea is quite enjoyable, it starts with a thick and creamy mouthfeel and finishes with a slight dryness. The flavor begins with a strong yet delicate blend of floral notes, it is heady without overpowering with notes of hyacinth, dianthus, and lilac with accompanying notes of lotus, again it vaguely reminds me of baby powder, but you know, without soap or perfume. The finish blends sugar cane and snap peas with lingering sweetness that lasts into the aftertaste.

Third steep, the aroma is still very floral and heady, but with the previous notes of lilac and hyacinth, there are also notes of orchid and freshly broken vegetation. It smells like springtime. This steeping has much stronger green notes, fresh vegetation mix with snap peas and sugar cane. There is still a good bit of floral as well, specifically hyacinth and lilac, but it has become more balanced with green notes. The aftertaste is sugar cane and it lingers for quite a while. I pulled several more steeps out of this tea, it transitioned to green before finishing with mineral sweetness.

For blog and photos:

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