922 Tasting Notes
Rasseru, you have made my life just a little better by letting me get a sample of this excellent tea.
This Qilan is great-it has lot of fruit, a lot of green creamy florals, and a great balance with the textured minerals and hints of charcoal from the roast. This is definitely on the greener side of yanchas bearing, but the fruit notes and the minerals are the things that make it really stand out along with its clear and well composed notes.
I agree with you Rasseru, that the first five steeps are higher quality and the later are typical of a yancha, but I still would come back to this again for its sheer balance of notes. This is a great example of this cultivar, and I recommend buying it while it is still on sale because it is good, and I have rarely had a yancha that is so green and so balanced.
“Hot, flat lemondae.” Thank you Rasseru for letting me try this. For me, it was like sprite in tea form, but it stood out in its citrus -flower power combo. I like my oolongs citrusy and floral, and this served that purpose, and the florals stretched out in later steeps. It was doable gong fu, and western that bordered on grandpa style for late steeps of 6 minutes. I personally got orchids, honeysuckle, lemongrass, and hints of jasmine and violets in the florals, and tart and lush bergamot pervading in the body.
I will likely get another sample, or perhaps 50 more grams of this because I did enjoy it. The flat lemonade tendency may bug people, but I highly recommend this for a unique alternative to Earl Grey. Maybe I can whip up my own version of the Earl of Anxi with this? I honestly have to try it again to see what I would realistically rate it, but I do think that 85 is the minimum.
I have so many teas to backlog. And Rasseru, I owe you for the other ones. For now, I’ll write the review for this sampler.
This was a happy accident. Mom was looking for Christmas presents, and needed to order something pronto, so she accidentally bought this when she went to her cart. She could have canceled it, but then said screwed it. I am so glad that this was only $12.
I have wanted to try New Zealand Zealong teas for a while. If it were not for the price, I already would have mini staples of them since they compare to high quality Taiwan teas, but they are more expensive than even those same calibre teas. A sampler was the way to go to at least try what this terroir can offer.
I greatly enjoyed every sample, with some teas being more enjoyable than I anticipated. I am just going to describe each tea in a few sentences, and I am going to describe them using the same notes as their Taiwan counterparts. Each tea was 3 grams, I did a improvised gong fu for each, so I will not always be specific. Reviews for 5 teas at a time, here it goes:
Zealong Dark-not an oolong that I thought would be the first to try, and not an oolong that I thought would have been as green as it was. I expected something more like a ruby oolong, a dark Dong Ding, but the roast was more on the medium end. Dry leaf had a distinctly chocolate chip cookie like aroma followed by a series of woody roast and florals, and the tea brewed up after a good 30 seconds was very similar. The roast is definitely pronounced, but very balanced with the noticeable background of florals. It was a hint woody, but the charcoal hints and general florals were much stronger. There were some that bordered on violet, but I really cannot go much further than that floral note from what I remember. I liked it more than I thought I would, and would not mind trying it again. I rate this one 80-85.
Zealong Aromatic-very similar to a Dong Ding. Definitely greener than the previous one, but like a traditional style Dong Ding, there was enough roast to caramelize the fruity notes at the end of the creamy florals. The fruit notes were actually comparable and as sweet as strawberries with just enough green grassy notes in the oolong to compare to the stem. It was not really aromatic until the second steep gong fu, but it was bordering on being the favorite of the sampler. It is very well balanced, and it has a very nice sweet note at the end of each steep. It’s just a shame that it was expensive.
Zealong Black-ooooooohhhhh this one was good. It was almost the same as a Shan Lin Xi black-it had prevalent blackberry and currant notes with a few sage like hints in the after taste. It was malty and had some of the chocolate notes that are so common for black teas, but the fruity and herbal notes were the most prevalent for me. The later steeps were actually closer to a Shan Lin Xi oolong because of its ever sweet fruity notes, and its sneaking florals in the background. It was definitely honey sweet, and very, very silky. If this were not more expensive than a Shan Lin Xi black, I would definitely get myself a good 50 grams of this minimum.
Zealong Pure-what I thought would have been my absolute favorite, but it came in the place of third overall. Like other people have reviewed before on separate pages, this one tasted like Gaoshan more than anything else. Although it was an excellent one at that by combining the creamy florals of a Li Shan with the immensely grassy and thick pineapple notes of a Shan Lin Xi, it was still as nuclear green and pungently spinachy as it was floral fruity sweet. It certainly deserves its “pure” title, but all of the teas in this collection were clean and pure, and I honestly would love to have this one again, but I could be just as fine with a Taiwan Li Shan. I still think this one was excellent, just not as nuanced as the black or the aromatic were.
Zealong Green- this one was a huge surprise. I have not really liked a pure green tea in a long time. It was like a cross between the fruity notes of a Mao Feng, the creamy green notes of a Dragonwell, and the florals of a Baozhong. The dryleaf had the same violet-chestnut notes of a Baozhong, but drinking it gong fu was incredibly pure and sweet. There was not doubts that this was a green tea, but the fusion of dense florals, the chestnut middle notes, and the strawberry sweet aftertaste was incredible. The only other teas that could match would be a Hawaiian green tea, but otherwise, this tea stood out of the samplers as being the most distinct and well rounded. I would not drink this tea often because green teas can mess with my stomach a little, but man would I savor and meditate to this beauty. This tea was the terroir favorite, but not the type favorite overall.
All of the teas were excellent, but they were overpriced. That’s why I recommend this tea as a gift for a tea lover who wants to try this terroir and who likes Taiwaneese/pacific style teas. The Black, Green, and Aromatic were my favorite. If you want to find out more about these teas, type up the name of each tea on steepster. You will find that there are a few copies from different companies never mind it is in fact the same tea from the same farm at Zealong. Like the other reviewers, I thought that they were excellent but not sufficient replacements for Taiwaneese teas because of price despite their equal or higher quality. At minimum, I recommend everyone try these teas at least once to say that they have because they are good. I recommend getting them through the Kiwi Importer personally.
Just as I was about to re-order this, it is out of stock. This tea has seriously been one of my favorite oolongs to date just because of how flexible, easy drinking, and tasty it is. I’m still savoring it, but I can make it last for so long, or I need to drink it less often.
I am getting the baked apple and brown sugar notes Lucky Me was talking about. It was especially delicious after a bite of caramel ice cream.
Wow, this makes for an excellent grandpa style tea. The tea was like drinking dew on top of fresh linens near a lemon tree. As in, it was a typical white tea with a fresh, pure, sweet, and floral profile. I continue to recommend this one for white tea lovers, and it is something that I will continue to try to bring to work-because it is relaxing.
On the same note, What-Cha has MANY new offerings that I am highly willing to try; it’s just difficult because I need to minimize my finances to essentials, and hopefully investments and new skills…and following through on those efforts. I gotta admit that this week was not great, but pretty average for a teacher. Let’s see if I can get through a year.
Sip down. I needed something thick like a black tea, and nuanced like a white, so this was the best option I had to finish. Cocoa and bready goodness is present dry, and enhanced brewed. First few steeps had light amber, malt, and honey in the profile. Caramel came up in steep two, and the grain notes typical of a Shang Tea popped up. I got the lychee in the third steep, but the rose quality was not really there, but there was an aftertaste that reminded of rose water texture. The tea was always viscous, and as everyone else has said, this hong cha is a refined lighter one.
Again, I think that this tea is something that everyone on here should try especially if you are looking to see what Black can offer. My only hesitation is the price, but then again, you would not want to drink this tea all the time. I personally can only drink it if I am in the mood for it.
This is one of the better hong cha’s I’ve had, but it’s not the best in my opinion. I agree with the consensus on this one and will rate it an 88.
I swear I added a note to this one. Whatever.
Sipdown, and a huge thank you to Nicole! The other notes pretty much describe what’s going on with this tea: it is a combo between a white tea’s grainy-melon dryness and an Oriental Beauty’s starchy-honey sweetness. Dry oats, flowers, honey, and malt are what I get in every cup but in slight varieties. The first two steeps were the thickest, and the last few were the faintest and the most floral. Butter best describes the general texture.
I am glad to have tried this very unique tea, but I would not buy it again. Though the quality is bona fide, the dry profile is not something I would want to pay money for again and again. I would not say no if I were offered it again, however. This is a tea belongs to a crowd intentionally expanding its palette for sure, and while I think it is easy to drink for someone newly getting in to tea, the starchy floral dryness might detract them unless they have a very dry palette. This tea would be more comparable to say a sweeter Chardonnay or a medium White Zin….if that remotely makes sense. Please correct me if I am wrong. In the end, I recommend a sample of this tea before you decide to add this to your collection, or if you are a white tea lover, this oolong might suit your tastes just fine for novelty.
Thank you for the sample Jeff!
I’ve been wanting to try some Unytea again, and their oolong selection was especially good this year. There was another pre-sale of the Qi Lai Shan that I had to participate in since I’ve always wanted to try that tea-a gaoshan off the bucket list in other words. The Qi Lai was actually cheaper compared to other vendors, and though it was expensive, I decided to get a decent amount to enjoy in case I want more later…like I always do with the tea I am writing about now.
Again, I was very tempted to get a few ounces of this one because it is one of the better Alishans I’ve had so far, especially in how it gets sweeter and fruitier in the later steeps. I’ve seen a lot of writers talk about that for this kind of oolong, but I’ve experienced it seldomly. This particular batch has the development in folds. The first steep was typical floral creaminess undertoned by thick grassiness at 20 seconds, then the second 35 sec. brew yielded something that almost resembled the texture of bubblegum. Think fruit tree flower flavored bubblegum. The next few steeps get sweeter and more honeydew melon like, and sometimes, there were sweater notes that reminded me of a sweet kiwi. Does anyone else get that?
Anyway, this is a fabulous tea that I wish I could afford more of. I think everyone should try it at least once, and though experienced drinkers will definitely like it, there are a few that might be pickier when it comes to this tea.
Why do oolongs always open up a month after you open the bag? Seriously, every gaoshan oolong becomes 10% better after I first try it.
Anyway, I grandpa styled this at my placement school last week and the fruit and floral notes were heavy amidst crisp lettuce ones. Basically, the rating would go from a 75-80 based on how it lushly improved. It also gave me a little bit of a caffiene rush, especially considering the earlier Fog Cutter cuppa joe pumpin’ through my veins…I’m a student teacher, don’t judge me.
I figured out that very quick flash steeps with later escalations Gong Fu in drier fall weather is the best way to drink this tea. I swear that the humidity of the past few months intensified the apricot and grassy notes making it harder to drink, but it was incredibly easy to drink this morning.
I broke the brick into rough thirds, and began with a rinse not longer than 15 seconds and not shorter than 10 using 185 F water. Creamy sweet florals lead on, starting off with a lilac-vanilla rise and going down a butter-scotch honeysuckle end of its wispy body. The second 30 second steep was more intense, painting more florals that I could not identify well amidst its creamy body. The later steeps beginning from brew three at a 35 seconds developed the apricot-citrus note from there on to the rest of the session while maintaining its dry creaminess. I partially see the nut thing that Alistair describes because it goes dry, wet, dry in the body. I also got more mineral throughout, becoming stronger in later steeps.
It finally had the Taiwaneese Gaoshan similarities and uniquely green Shui Xian Character that I love, but I am glad that I did not bulk on the cakes. It is a more nuanced version of the Floral, yet I personally found it more delicate to brew. That might change in the future.
I think that this tea is more approachable for oolong lovers and intermediate or advanced drinkers that are used to brewing Gong Fu. I’ve yet had a successful western session and only one mediocre Grandpa One. New drinkers might have a harder time brewing it, and it might be too close to delicate for some though it compares to heavier Lishans. I also got a charge of qi one night with it, so some may be able to find some qi from this tea especially if their tolerance is lower.
I rate this a 90 though I do not think I’d buy this tea too often despite my usual enjoyment of the variety and this seasons popularity for it. I admit that there are other teas that I prefer to this one, it is one that I think is better to savor and meditate with rather than a daily tea injection. Hence, this tea is ultimately for someone looking to try it in smaller quantities and to expand their horizons.