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Recent Tasting Notes
Wow, this tea is awesome. What you’d expect from a charcoal roasted Big Red Robe, only better. definitely higher quality leaf and attention to picking. the smell of leaf after rinsing is amazing… smoky, sweet, rich and smooth. This tea i only grabbed 25 grams of because it is a bit on the more expensive side and i wish i had more. Lasts through more infusions than your typical oolong and doesnt sacrifice much in flavor, other than losing some of its smokiness. the liquor is really clear as well.
The dry leaves smell very sweet with an undercurrent of sugarcane, malt, and grape juice concentrate. I know purple tea… am I making up the grape smell? I drank through 60 grams to try and prove myself wrong before writing this.
I brewed up 6g in a 120ml gaiwan using 190F water and roughly 30 second steep times ( I dont time my black tea just have a feel for starting at about 15 seconds and by steep 10 I’m at 45 seconds to a minute)
The liquor smells like one of those malt sodas with grape flavoring, quite unique. It has a deep satisfying sweetness of frozen grape concentrate mixed with malt powder. I DO NOT usually like fruity black tea, but the grape isn’t sour or overpowering, it flows smoothly with the malty sweetness. I would compare it to a good Indian breakfast assam very malt forward, exactly what I want in the morning with grape must to keep it interesting. I find that I don’t get as much traditional Jingmai character from this tea. The mouthfeel is smooth with a hint of oil and a lasting sweetness.
I always get about 10 infusions out of this tea with the last infusion at a rolling boil, and the second to last infusion at 200F. The flavor stays with the tea remarkably well, not changing too much or getting markedly weaker.
This is a very unique and delicious tea. It’s not a tea I would want every day, but I want to always have a tin in stock. It satisfies the cravings for a grape tea that I didn’t know I had before trying this. The tea makes me want to experiment with brewing a malt heavy beer with the addition of dark grapes.
Flavors: Grapes, Malt, Sugarcane
Before I begin this review, allow me to state that I do not normally go out of my way to buy old tea. If I buy an older tea, I will always buy from the most recent harvest. Well, I guess I should say that’s what I almost always do. This was an impulse buy a month or two ago. I was placing an order with Yunnan Sourcing US and wanted to tack on another tea just for the sake of justifying the shipping cost a little more in my head. I couldn’t find anything else new and interesting, but then I saw this tea. It sounded interesting and I had been trying to spur myself to become more familiar with Dan Cong oolongs, so I bought it. I figured the worst case scenario would be that I wouldn’t like it or that it might be a little weak. Fortunately, neither ended up being the case and that should not have surprised me. Yunnan Sourcing always seems to do a great job maintaining and storing their teas and I found that to once again be the case here.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 7 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes. I’m still trying to get used to that whole pack the gaiwan to the brim thing that many Dan Cong enthusiasts do. I’m also still trying to figure out a gongfu method that works for me when it comes to brewing these teas as I’m not so certain that what I do for other teas brings out the best these oolongs have to offer. I’ll keep playing around with it in my spare time.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off subtle aromas of butter, cream, citrus, and honeysuckle. After the rinse, the bouquet intensified slightly. I could pick up stronger hints of butter, cream, and honeysuckle coupled with distinct impressions of pomelo and lemon. I also began to catch hints of lilac, gardenia, and vanilla. The first infusion produced a bouquet that brought everything together. At this point, I got extremely robust floral tones. I was reminded of a mixture of honeysuckle, gardenia, lilac, and magnolia. There were big aromas of vanilla, butter, and cream too. I also thought I began to catch hints of nuts, lime, and grass. In the mouth, however, the tea liquor was surprisingly flat, offering muted notes of grass, lemon rind, pomelo, cream, butter, and vanilla underscored by traces of bitter, oily nuts and fresh flowers. Fortunately, subsequent infusions upped the ante considerably. The cream, butter, vanilla, grass, pomelo, and lemon rind notes were still there, but they were considerably stronger. I was now better able to pick up that bitter nuttiness (it kind of reminded me of fresh black walnut at points, but that comparison is far from exact) and the notes of lilac, gardenia, honeysuckle, and magnolia really began to pop. On several of these middle infusions, I could detect notes of lemongrass, daylily shoots, yellow plum, bitter orange, lime, and orchid. I also began to detect a growing minerality. The later infusions were very subtle, almost to the point of being flat. Minerals, grass, and nuts were the dominant impressions available to me, though I could still detect ghostly citrus, butter, and cream tones on the swallow.
This was an enjoyable tea overall. It peaked quickly and faded just as quickly, but I think part of that may have come down to my brewing method and part of that may have come down to the tea’s age. Whatever the case, this still had more than enough life left in it to be thoroughly enjoyable on several levels. I guarantee that I’m going to keep playing around with the remainder of this tea over the next several days.
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Plums, Vanilla, Vegetal, Walnut
I don’t know if this sample is the Light Roast or what, but it is pretty good. I think my friend Chris might have gave me this or Andrew-I cannot remember. It’s a good black tea anyway on the plummy/cherry side of things. There some dryness and eucalyptus, but emphasis is on the fruit side with some malt and cocoa as lighter after tones. It kinda reminds me of some red wines. I would not buy this in bulk like I used to, but it is perfect for this cloudy day and it was good enough for my mood. I need a straight up quality black every now and then.
This one goes in the amazing column for me, wonderful complexity and really kept going.
Nose; peach, ginger, slight mandarin, osmanthus, round, paw paw, plantain, parsnip, baked squash, slight herbal note.
Palate; peach, mandarin, osmanthus, roasted summer squash, parsnip, mint, sweet.
This was interesting, very different from most Dancongs I have had, almost a cross between a white tea and an Oolong.
Nose; Roasted barley, kumquat, plantain, savory yam, water cress.
Palate; very delicate, savory, molassiss, clover hay, sweetness on roof of mouth, narcissus, slightly bitter, yam, celery, kumquat.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted delicate aromas of hay, sweetgrass, roasted almond, watercress, minerals, and stone fruits. After the rinse, a floral quality reminiscent of a mixture of dandelion, chrysanthemum, and marigold emerged. I also thought I began to catch hints of burdock and mushroom. The first infusion produced a similar aroma, but I was now able to pick out a definite touch of burdock. In the mouth, I picked up on subtle mineral, burdock, watercress, roasted almond, hay, sweetgrass, and mushroom flavors underscored by hints of flowers and a touch of golden raisin. Subsequent infusions introduced more defined aromas and flavors of golden raisin, as well as longan, apricot, nectarine, lemon, mandarin orange, and Asian pear. I also caught fleeting impressions of roasted chestnut and spring honey. The later infusions were dominated by minerals, though touches of sweetgrass, hay, roasted nuts, mushroom, honey, pear, and lemon were still detectable in the background.
This was a very complex tea-it was hard for me to get a handle on at first because it was so mellow. The aroma and flavor components worked so well together that it was hard to separate them at times. Every time I began to get bogged down in the little details, however, the tea would always pull me back down to earth with its smooth body and sharply focused mineral texture. I may be overselling this one a bit due to my fascination with this particular cultivar, but I do not have much of a problem with giving it a high score. This tea has really grown on me and I expect it to continue to do so as I work toward finishing up the remaining amount.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Chestnut, Dandelion, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Lemon, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange, Pear, Raisins
So, it’s about time I review something from Yunnan Sourcing, right? Truthfully, I ordered this tea because I was confused by its description. If you read the description for this tea, it mentions that this is a cross between Dan Gui, itself a newer hybrid cultivar, and Qi Lan. Now, this sounded strange to me. I always thought Qi Dan was an old cultivar most famous for being processed into Da Hong Pao. Was this product description total crap or are there two cultivars known as Qi Dan? Further reading proved even more confusion. At one point, Yunnan Sourcing mentioned that the Dan Gui is sourced from the Zheng Yan area. Was that a typo? Should that not have been Qi Dan? Is this actually a traditionally processed Dan Gui that has been misrepresented? What exactly is this tea?
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted interesting aromas of wood, char, cinnamon, dates, figs, prunes, and raisins. After the rinse, hints of clove, nutmeg, and roasted almond appeared alongside a ghostly floral impression. The first infusion emphasized spice on the nose, though I also caught hints of cream and camphor. In the mouth, I detected a rush of golden raisin, prune, date, fig, wood, and cinnamon notes backed by touches of camphor, char, roasted almond, and a somewhat sweet, almost buttery creaminess. Subsequent infusions brought out the roasted almond, clove, nutmeg, camphor, and cream notes, while also introducing the typical Wuyi minerality accompanied by wisps of osmanthus, nougat, and licorice. At one point, I even thought I caught a touch of hibiscus, but it may have just been me. The later infusions increasingly emphasized mineral, wood, roasted almond, light char, and cream impressions, but interestingly enough, I could still detect underlying impressions of camphor, spices, and a vaguely fruity sweetness. It seemed that every time the minerals faded, I was left with a cooling sensation on the back of the throat and a blend of sweetness and spiciness on the tongue. There was also that weird buttered popcorn note that I sometimes get out of Da Hong Pao.
I got more complexity out of this tea than expected, but then again, I was really pushing it hard. Since I did not have any clue how to approach this tea and had doubts about how it was represented, I wanted to dig into it. I could definitely pick up the Dan Gui influence (the telltale spice and osmanthus notes), but the Qi Lan influence seemed to be lacking aside from the smooth creaminess I sometimes associate with the cultivar. I should also point out that in the time I spent typing this review, I took a research break and stumbled upon some additional information related to Qi Dan. Apparently, Qi Dan is traditionally used to make Da Hong Pao, but not all Qi Dan is used for this purpose. There have also been multiple hybridization programs involving Qi Dan and/or a significant number of similar cultivars, so some tea designated as Qi Dan (like this one) is not necessarily even remotely the same as the Qi Dan used to make Da Hong Pao, though these new hybrids apparently can technically still be used to make Da Hong Pao or some approximation of it. Further confusing matters is the fact that some taxonomies do not make distinctions between classical Qi Dan and some of the contemporary hybrids that are derived from the original cultivar. I am now even more confused. Allow me to just state that this tea wasn’t bad. I would not want to have it every day or hold it up as a shining example of what I feel best represents the Wuyi style, but it was far from bad.
ADDENDUM: Apparently, “Qi Dan” is really just an identifier for this hybrid cultivar. It is shorthand for Qi Lan+Dan Gui and is not the same thing as the classical Qi Dan that is used to make and also sometimes referred to as Da Hong Pao. The quotation marks in the name should have tipped me off, but…
Flavors: Almond, Camphor, Char, Cinnamon, Clove, Dates, Fig, Floral, Fruity, Licorice, Mineral, Nutmeg, Osmanthus, Popcorn, Raisins, Smooth, Wood
While my experience has been very good with tea from YS, once in a while one misses the mark for me. All of this is so subjective though YMMV.
Nose; honey, malt, freshly baked bread, plums, wet leaves.
Palate; slightly bitter, plums, slightly tannic — astringent, malt, cocoa at back of palate, was unusual and had a very dry mouth feel. I did not like that aspect.
Tastes like a moderate quality Yunnan black tea, it is very good, but not as good as the loose Yunnan blacks I have had. Sweet and smooth with chocolate overtones, gets easily astringent with higher temperatures.
Very good tea, but I would 100% order loose leaf Yunnan black tea over this, the highly compressed cake is a real pain to break apart and I end up turning a lot of it into tea dust.
Flavors: Astringent, Chocolate, Cocoa
Another tea I put off reviewing. Kind of mediocre. It’s fairly smooth with some light astrigency and bitter notes. Not much complexity here, and a touch on the bland side, but I won’t hold that against it as I prefer my ‘staple’ teas to be smooth and basic. I agree with another reviewer in that it tastes like a black (basic assam) tea….and actually reminds me of lipton tea but with a tad more complexity and some sweet honey notes that finish up at the end. Honestly, this tea isn’t all that memorable or enchanting (no cha qi) so I won’t order again because there are too many teas out there which have more to offer. What could be expected for the price? ….. the economical price might make it good for Kombucha or as a basic staple. It held many steeps.
Flavors: Astringent, Honey, Pepper
I find this one to be more complex than the other reviewers here. On the nose I got typical sweet potato, malt, also got dates, dried apricot and a buttery aroma with marigold flower. On the palate very similar to nose, slight allspice with Assam tea quality also. Some of the flavors were quite delicate. Not a big and rich tea, but very nice
I decided on something good today, which was the 2014 Yunnan Sourcing Ai Lao Mountain which comes in convenient mini tuo format. Very much a gushu tea with not that much sweetness in it. Darker heavier flavor of Bulang chocolate, grains, chalky note. There are subnotes of berries and florals here and there. Clean and sharp huigans. The viscosity tends towards a thicker soup, on par with the 2004 YQH Dingji.
There is a moderately high level of astringency that should help this tea improve over the decades if stored well. The aftertastes largely tend towards woodsy Menghai florals. Qi is moderately strong and very relaxing as expected in a high quality gushu tea like this one. The leaves lasted about twenty two brews before I put them aside, and there seems to be enough flavour left in them for several more long steeps tomorrow.
This is a remarkable tea, reasonably priced but performing at the premium level, easily as good as Verdant’s authentic Ban Zhang but without that tea’s sticker-glue aftertaste. This tea has some minor flaws compared to superpremium brand Menghai teas, of course, but you can’t beat the price. I’ve ordered a few tongs for the tea cellar.
Flavors: Cherry Wood, Chocolate, Floral, Grain
This Dan Cong was a joy, also my first experience with Dan Cong. It has a slightly milky texture, sticky like sweet potato sap or nectar. I’d recommend getting a larger sample than I did (regretting the 10g purchase, should have been 250.)
10/10 would steep again…
Flavors: Campfire, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Wet Rocks
I don’t usually drink tea at this time, but I wanted something to drink while doing homework and straightening up a bit tonight. I’ve had this one for quite a while and haven’t tried it yet, so no time like the present, right?!
Put 7g into a 100ml gaiwan and did a very quick steep to start, no wash. Pretty deep colored liquor in steep one, and it smells quite robust. Definitely getting wood and roasty notes in the beginning. Not so much nutty as grainy, and a sweet finish that has a hint of cream and a mineral aftertase and building tropical notes. I can tell my tastes are evolving, because I don’t think I would have liked this a few months ago.
A few more steeps in I get a cooling sensation that lasts for a couple of steeps before the tea settles out into a fairly consistent, light blend of rocky, tropical sweetness. I find that it doesn’t really affect my energy levels much at all, which is perfect for this time of night. I’m able to stay focused on my homework and don’t feel overly alert, so I should still be able to sleep without an issue.
Flavors: Grain, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet, Tropical, Wood