780 Tasting Notes
Two very nice gongfu sessions, one with shorter steeping times and one with longer, closer to Leafhopper’s parameters. I’m finishing off this swap tea brewed 2g in a 100mL teacup and think I prefer it this way!
There are 2 layers of aroma in the dry leaf. The first layer is perfumey florals while a closer whiff presents sweet cream and fleeting peach and pine. With a deeper smelling of the leaf in my hand, these notes all sit on top of the second layer: a molasses ginger cookie. Warmed and rinsed leaf are similar to each other with daffodil, gardenia, spinach, walnut.
Intense, heady and sweet indolic daffodil, gardenia and orange blossom florals well integrated into a clean and soft mineral water broth. Body has notes of dewy grass, crisp lettuce, mild spinach, walnut, cooling fir and the light acidity of sweet lemon mixed with sugarcane. Spices are revealed as clove, sweet cinnamon and a hints of allspice and nutmeg when brewed longer. Light butter on the swallow gives way cleanly to an aftertaste of peach skin, grass, candied orange rind and orange blossom with intense sugarcane returning sweetness. Spiciness and warmth is felt in the throat and chest. Bottom of the cup smells like sugarcane, tarragon and cherry blossom.
Leafhopper, this tea is from 2017? It’s incredible and balanced despite the intense florality. This tea reaffirms how an expert light roast can take a high mountain oolong to a stratospheric experience for me. Thank you <3
Flavors: Butter, Cherry Blossom, Cinnamon, Clove, Cookie, Cream, Fir, Floral, Gardenias, Ginger, Grass, Herbs, Lemon, Lettuce, Mineral, Molasses, Narcissus, Nutmeg, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Peach, Perfume, Pine, Spices, Spicy, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Walnut
“Trip to Changtai, vol. 2”
Natethesnake nailed my experience with this tea. Good dry storage, fairly mild aged sheng that is a relaxing after-dinner brew. Antiquewoody, orange zest citric with some mild pithy bitterness, orange blossom floral without being heady, fleeting brown sugar sweetness and baked bread. Incense tone, like light wafts have embedded themselves in porous wood furniture. Light aftertaste and a cooling mouthfeel that turns into side-tongue tingling and mouthwatering.
In general, mostly antique woody, citrusy, a touch airy — and mellow but with a background both heavy and bustling.
The the previous day’s tea, 2018 Changtai Wild Menghai was like… arriving to a large city and being enamored with your new surroundings. A loud and long, grating bus ride later (the excessive rattling, bouncing and abrasive chatting of both the jalopy you’re an almost unwilling passenger in and the foreign souls surrounding you), you realize the seat spring that pushed its way into all the wrong places was actually the success of a pickpocketer (sucker only got some folded-up papers)… And your love for your new surroundings quickly turns bitter. But you reach your destination (2006 Changtai 65th Anniversary of Tong An Teahouse) and everything that picked and poked and rubbed you raw earlier becomes a distant annoyance, fading away as you step into a dark, wood-adorned tea house with a mild scent of orange blossom in the air. (I wonder what the Tong An teahouse is or was? like!)
Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Camphor, Dark Wood, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest
Prepared this morning as bowl tea in my largest teacup. 1g, 140mL, ~185F. From a sealed sample packet, best before date of a little over two years ago.
The dry leaf smelled floral-sweet with nutty-sweet chocolate overlaying a very light vegetal-earth tone. The brewed aroma was chestnut-floral with hints of citrus and earth.
I realized with the first few sips that this tea is not to be had as a flavor experience. This tea is gestalt. By the second pour, my usual approach was dissolved by the delicate, silky-oily broth. Gentle in every way. It was cleansing with astringency and mineral salts. Beany-vegetal sweetness mingled with a very mild, underlying bitterness. The tender leaf and bud sets left a strong, sweet smell of tarragon in the bottom of the cup. I realized then that I had been misattributing as anise this aroma in other green teas. A gentle calm emerged with the arrival of returning sweetness. With the third pour, a sun-warmed sweet apricot aftertaste emerged.
Prepared in this way, the tea was perfectly balanced. Highly recommended.
Thank you for sharing Leafhopper :) What a pleasant experience. I am looking forward to drinking the remaining amount in this manner.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Beany, Broth, Chestnut, Chocolate, Citrus, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Hay, Herbs, Mineral, Nutty, Salt, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vegetal
Had with a splash of unsweetened almond milk which completely flattened all the spice except for some cinnamon and allspice. I basically chugged the muted brew, not because it tasted bad but because it went down so easily. Now it’s like the almond milk was never added and I can taste all the spices rising up from my throat. Still no rooibos taste, though. Never once have I tasted the rooibos. Goodbye Rooibos Chai. I’ll miss the way you smell.
and a pinch of this: https://www.rosemarysgarden.com/collections/herbs/products/lavender-organic-1oz
steeped in a cup of hot whole milk for 10 minutes. It smelled like milky Froot Loops cereal and lavender. Awesome!
Then I added 6 Tbsp of this: https://www.coracaoconfections.com/products/cacoco_80-extra-dark-1-75-lb-790-g that I found in our baking chocolate drawer. It had a BB date from 2014. A few tsp of Costco OG shugga and stirred over medium heat until most of the cacao mix melted.
Decadent! but the cacao nearly overrode the Earl Grey and lavender.
I’m so pumped right now.
Both grossly sweet and kind of flat, like it didn’t ferment well. Tastes like sweet alcohol with a floral and alkaline feel, not the vinegary-acetic acid taste of a strongly fermented kombucha. A touch of oak and a yeasty aftertaste. I wonder how their other kombucha fair, if they all have the same general quality.
Flavors: Alcohol, Floral, Oak wood, Sweet, Yeast
Smokey, light and bright with underlying mild sweetness and creaminess. This one’s a sneaker hours later with its caffeine effects.
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Tonight I chose a tea that I thought would fit the supposed muting characteristics of a pot made of what was sold as benshan duanni clay (I think it’s benshan lüni based on color and texture; that topic may find its way into the Discussion board at another time). My first ever session with fu zhuan tea, and this is a smokey one.
I was unsure of how to prepare it. I put probably a bit over 8 grams in the pot and filled with boiling water to roughly half capacity, 100 maybe up to 120mL and left the lid off to brew based on color. First steep was 45s, followed by 5 more at 30/30/45/60/120s.
The dry leaf smelled like sharp, bitter-dry woodsmoke which transferred over into taste. I couldn’t taste much beyond that, maybe a slight nutty-fruity sweetness, straw and minerals but it was very comforting. The body of the tea was light with some fleeting oiliness and later numbing to the tongue, no astringency, rather smooth. Cooling in the mouth, with the smokiness lingering on the palate. I felt my body relax a little while sipping, with some warmth and heaviness creeping into my limbs. First, I feel comfort, followed by a sneakier narcotic feeling, then the discomfort of lying in bed halfasleep/halfawake with an overactive mind and thumping heart.
The liquor was always clear, golden turning red later. Not that I was really expecting anything from a first time with a new type of tea, but knowing this is a fermented tea, I was prepared for a dark and potentially murky brew. The dry leaf of the brick was dark and stemmy, while the spent leaf revealed only light fermentation. I did not notice any of the golden flower mold in my chunk off the brick.
Overall, I’d say it’s a pleasant drink with no glaring faults and I’ll enjoy drinking what I have. It is quite smokey, though, so if that’s not your thing I’d steer well clear of this one.
“Trip to Changtai, vol. 1”
I asked the mechanic friend to pick a card, any card. He drew the youngest Changtai tea in my stash.
Dry leaf has lots of bitter woodsmoke overlaying sour plum and smoked flowers with a slight custard undertone. Warm leaf: woodsmoke, vegetal-buttery-caramel, sour plum. Rinsed leaf: smokey-sour, aged wood, floral and pungent
First steep starts off interesting with a very fluffy, rich, sticky sweetness (caramel-honey-overripe melon-marshmallow) that clings to every crevice in my mouth. Then whoosh, second steep brings massive greenwoody body. Green bitterness comes out as I swallow and it lingers. The sweetness is like sticky spiderwebs. The liquor is slightly coating and moderately drying. Smokeysweet aroma. Floral, light caramel, hint of blueberry perfume in mouth exhales through nose. Somewhat metallic in the aftertaste.
Third steep, mechanic friend says “witch hazel.” Fourth, the wet leaf smells very pungent and fruity. The bitterness dies down a bit. Fifth, sweetness is only available on the sip and somewhat in the retronasal aftertaste. Taste is general green astringency and bitterness. Some slight mouth cooling but overall body warming. Returning sweetness finally makes a meek presence. Sixth becomes very metallic in character. My gut’s a’gurgling so I’ll call it quits.
For a wild tea, this tastes very different from the others I’ve tried and I wonder if it’s due to processing methods. The sweetness gives me an Yiwu vibe, not Menghai, though a walnut-sour plum impression does draw me back toward Menghai. I’m only postulating since I don’t have a ton of experience but this seems like the kind of young sheng that would benefit from aggressive, humid storage. It is one of the greenest sheng I’ve ever had.
Addendum: I think the sweetness might actually be embodied as jujube but I haven’t eaten them enough to be sure.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Blueberry, Butter, Caramel, Custard, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Green, Green Wood, Herbs, Honey, Marshmallow, Melon, Metallic, Plums, Smoke, Sour, Sweet, Tannin, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood
Dropping this note here because I’m fairly certain What-Cha is the origin of this tea I received from White Antlers. That was ONE BIG BALL in a sealed foil packet with Chinese script. The only English characters on the packet alerted me that what I had in my possession was Zhang Ping Shui Xian Cha. The date of the only review for this tea matches White Antlers’ timeline of teas.
So. The ball weighed almost 8g. Steeped in my generic 500mL Chinese pot… for 4 pots! That’s a lot of tea! No surprises between the aroma and taste. Carob, tangy plum, raspberry, chocolate syrup, with hints of geranium, pine, and pomelo and a licorice root type sweetness, very mineral. It was a pretty mellow 4 pots. Flavors became stronger as the tea cooled. Overall smooth and mineral, perhaps a bit of a watery body. The spent leaves look very healthy and a lot of them are sets with two leaves and a bud.
Not exactly to my tastes and I can’t pinpoint why. It does taste a lot like https://steepster.com/teas/what-cha/89012-china-fujian-zhangping-heavy-roasted-shui-xian-oolong-tea-cake but with more developed flavor and aroma. This is a black tea, the other one is an oolong. Thank you, White Antlers, for sending this my way :)
And to my American friends here, please make wise decisions for your health and your families’ this coming Thanksgiving weekend. My grandfather in Ohio passed a few nights ago due to COVID and only COVID. It is sweeping through his nursing home despite tight restrictions. My mom made it sound like he came to terms, accepting that it was his time and that he would pass soon. He was an eccentric man not a family man, a greaser type of guy, a drag car racer, a lover of Pepsi and Butterfingers. His dining room was a dancefloor and at one point he had a yellow station wagon with Bart Simpson images and quips painted on the windows — The Bart Mobile. RIP Dr. Cool.
Flavors: Chocolate, Citrus, Geranium, Licorice, Mineral, Pine, Plums, Raspberry, Smooth, Sweet, Tangy, Wood