435 Tasting Notes
Perfect for a refreshing morning/mid-afternoon brew! Bold and bright.
Gone Western. 2 tsp/8oz/200F. 3 steeps at 3/5/8 minutes.
Dry leaf is various shades of dark browns to black, twisty, shiny and hard. Some leaves look slightly powdery. Smells like pure, bright fruit stone fruit and muscatel, lightly pungent.
Over the course of the three steeps, I got mostly baked apricot, muscatel, woodiness, warm spice, light orange- and rosewater. Pleasant astringency. Thinned out nicely. Red-amber liquor turning to gold-amber. Flavors don’t really stick around making for a nice, clean quaff. Did I really just say quaff. Very aromatic.
Spent leaves large, sturdy, quite narrow. Found a few that were longer than my middle finger.
Yum :) Thanks for the sample.
I’m getting really bored reviewing for the GRE coming up in a week and a half.
I want to preface this review by stating that if you want bold flavors, this isn’t your tea. Very delicate, light flavors beyond the roast. This is the last of my 25g bag. 4g in 100mL jianshui gaiwan. I waltzed right through the first 21g enjoying the tea’s lightness and minerality but not really paying attention. So here I am, taking my time tonight.
WARNING self-indulgent, reminiscing tasting notes ahead. These will be few and far between since life is about to get bizzay.
Large, shiny, reddish brown nuggets.
Dry leaf: roast, dried blueberry, mission fig, caramel.
Warmed leaf: still edible burnt wheat toast with a bright red high note like a smear of raspberry jam, burnt sugar.
Ten second rinse, let sit for 10 minutes.
FIrst steep 10 seconds. Leaf: proper wheat toast, brown paper bag, raspberry.
Liquor: like chewing on a maple twig without the bark, raspberry, cream, tingling mineral tongue, viscous.
Second steep 15 seconds. Leaf: brown paper bag, raspberry, cream, vanilla. My left nostril got very personal with a random leaf plucked from the gaiwan and I could smell benzene. Really pleasant.
Liquor: smells like raspberry and cream, taste woody peach, creamy at the back of the mouth, mineral carries through, salivation starts.
Third steep 20 seconds. Same as second. I’m breathing out peaches and cream. Lingering taste.
Fourth steep 25 seconds. Leaf: heady, dark resin, black raspberry. Walk back to my desk and it smells like raspberries in here. I’m relaxed. Sighing feels good.
I used to live in this old house in Ohio. One of five houses that still had well water in a town of 13,000 people. I actually found that statistic once when I was concerned about having water during power outages. Funnily enough, I later moved to another of the five well-water houses in that town.
Anyway, that first house was old and had such a great energy. The lot next to us was vacant. An old foundation and light pole remained, choked with weeds and 20-year-old tree saplings. I checked town records for some info but came up empty.
Somebody long ago planted three different hedgerows to separate the two houses. One plant was some stupid shrub I had to trim every year because it encroached on the side of the gravel drive. Couldn’t remove it because we were renting. Another plant was trumpet vine. Dear god, talk about invasive and impossible to get rid of without pesticides. The third plant was black raspberry that had grown out of control as brambles usually do. The black raspberry brambles, in fact, rimmed the entirety of the vacant lot next to us. I suffered every summer diving into those thickets. Stained fingernails for days, thorns for weeks, jam for months. Haven’t come across black raspberries since.
Liquor: I forgot to sniff. Tastes, well, like black raspberries and cream :) Minerals fading but tongue still tingling.
Fifth steep 30 seconds. Leaf: wheat toast, brown sugar. Liquor smells like Cow Tails candy, tastes like fresh spring lawn grass with the minerals returning.
Sixth steep 45 seconds. My room smells yeasty now. Leaf: still wheat toast now with sugar plum prune, benzene.
Liquor: there’s that heady, dark resin again. Taste is fresh grass and mineral. Breathing out peach again. Noticing a light astringency at the back of the mouth.
I think I’ll leave it at that. My senses are spent. Rating later, maybe never.
Update: Finished the tea the next day after many more steeps. Ended on a definite kombu note. I love this tea. I tossed the package but I think it said gets better with age. It’s a cheap price to buy a good amount and try different aging techniques.
I would be all over this tea if I lived an area with a pronounced autumn.
May 2017 harvest. The dry leaf is gorgeous shades of brown and auburn cut leaves with some downy beige tips thrown in. It has that pungent, spicy darjeeling smell accompanied by a woody cocoa powder.
Going western, following recommended brewing parameter of 2 tsp at 195F. I tend to brew western in glass canning jars. 8 oz water. I got a solid 4 steeps this way at 3/5/8/12? minutes.
Liquor is very clean and soft, there’s some down floating around but I don’t think it adds a thickness. Definite notes of muscatel and orange blossom, followed by some cocoa, malt and freshly fallen autumn leaves. Poking through are mace, coriander seed, violet, gooseberry? Smells bright and juicy but also pleasantly musty/musky. The final steep remained lightly fruity but had a drying quality like that of straw or oak tannins.
This tea can go two ways: drink it quickly or take some more time to enjoy its nuances. It’s not so nuanced that it requires serious contemplation, though. I imagine it would be a perfect daily morning drinker on sunny autumn days when the deciduous trees are preparing for the impending cold. Or take a full thermos on a long hike in the woods. Autumn is approaching :)
Recently finished a 50 gram box of this.
I’ll start off by saying White2Tea offered no picking or roast date on the box or website but I could probably email the vendor requesting the info.
Qilan Trees was the first yancha I ever tried and was what made me fall hard for highly mineral rock oolongs. After receiving the package sometime in 2017, I immediately consumed a few brews western style, allowing no resting or airing out of the material. At the time, I wasn’t aware of this style tea performing well gong fu. I remember using about a tbsp of tea to 8 oz of water just off boil. The resulting liquor, believe it or not, was amazing. It was very floral (which I now can place as orchid) and sweet with notes of light honey, graham, butterscotch, milk chocolate and small, sweet Champagne grapes. The minerality was very strong but never biting; more smooth and cool like limestone. The most striking quality of this tea was the salivation it induced. To this day, I’ve never experienced it so strongly in any other tea.
I brewed Qilan Trees a few more times western before exhausting the remaining supply over the course of a year in my 100mL jianshui gaiwan. Usually eyeballed 6-8 grams with water just under boiling. Orchid and milk chocolate were highly pronounced in both aroma and taste, but the liquor itself was never milky but rather both glassy and viscous. The cool limestone minerality and salivation remained. With this method (and maybe it had to do with the clay), I lost a lot of the nuances. I’d say I got 3 amazing steeps with the above qualities before it quickly fell off the cliff and turned into what was just a watered down floral black tea for a few more steeps. Also, over the course of a year, the dry leaves lost a lot of fragrance despite being stored in a tin in the dark. It was a crappy tin to be fair.
Overall, I have an immense soft spot for Qilan Trees. It’s hard to wrap my thoughts around so I’m avoiding rating it. Should I ever purchase more, though, I think I’ll stick with brewing it western style and of course store it it a more airtight container.
So tonight I finished off the 4 or 5 grams I had left. The tea became much softer and the liquor was viscous with hints of vanilla, cream and fruitiness with florals dominating instead of the minerals. What a difference a heavy leaf makes! I’ll up the rating based on this tea’s versatility even though it doesn’t quite fit my favored profile, but I do recommend it! Maybe 6 grams per 100mL would bring out the best this yancha has to offer.
My review from What-Cha’s website:
“This tea! Did not expect such quality for a yancha of this price. The leaf is darker than I expected for Bai Ji Guan but it was treated so well. The spent leaves were stunning and whole.
8 grams in a 100 mL clay gaiwan with water either boiling or just off gave me up to 10 steeps. Everything worked so well in this tea. The light roast level, the sweetness and thickness of the liquor, the literal mouth-watering minerality, the florals. The lid of the gaiwan never stopped smelling like sweet chocolate. This tea kept me focused yet calm while studying for hours.
As of this review it’s out of stock but here’s hoping some more is found!"
Flavors: Butter, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Citrus, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lychee, Menthol, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nutmeg, Orange, Pleasantly Sour, Roasted, Round , Sweet, Thick, Wood
Going through old written reviews.
This tea has prompted me to write my first ever review.
Brewed western style with about 1 tbsp of leaf to 8 oz. Boiling water really brings out the astringency, so I decreased the water temperature to 200F. That’s where this tea shines for me. Reminds me of fall in the Napa Valley of California, walking in the woods along the river.
Initially a nice light mouthfeel with complex flavors of blueberry, pomelo, red grape, old wood, earthy green herbals and muted forest understory white florals ending in red cherry and light astringency. Juicy aroma. The flavors become more prevalent as the tea cools. Subsequent steeps fade into sweet potato with a bit more astringency.
This tea seems high in caffeine.
Now that I’ve spent more time with this tea, I can say for me, it’s a tea to have every once in a while. Too much of a frenetic energy to relax with it but still really enjoyable and complex. I can not imagine ensuing derkish craziness that would result from brewing this gong fu.
Going through old written tea reviews.
3 steeps at 1m, 1m30s, 2m.
What a weird tea. It looked not so fresh despite being 6 months old when I received it. The saponins were strong in this one. Soapy bubbles hugged the circumference of my glass after every brew. Tasted mostly white peppercorn which was interesting. Probably much different drank closer to harvest.
Tolerable cold brew and that’s how I finished it.
Dry leaf smells like roasted nuts and sesame seaweed snacks. Leaves flattish but curled up around the edges. Lots of broken leaf running the range of various greens with dark green, purple, brown and yellow tones. Small amount of hairs still present on leaf.
First steep, 1m10s. Light in flavor: roasted nuts, light sweetness and silky mouthfeel immediately gives way to drying and tingly mineral like sichuan peppercorn. Also getting lemon and anise, something vegetal yet bright – yellow squash? Breathing out toasted anise seeds. Liquor smells like buttery roasted nuts and light florals. Wet leaf now smells like roasted chestnut reminiscent of a long jing.
Second steep, 1m45s, about the same minus the anise. Salivating now. I like that. Light golden yellow liquor in a glass ball jar. Spent leaf is a mix of bright and dull green with a yellow tint.
I remember doing a cold brew with this when I first got it. It was really interesting. 3 tsp to a half liter overnight. The result was quite dark and heavy in flavor. Very prominent with the roasted nuts and butter. A bit bitter. Could’ve used less leaf.
Not much depth to this tea but it’s nice and light. I think it would be good for those who like greens but don’t want something fruity or grassy.
Going grandpa this morning.
This year’s imperial grade has a perfect astringency that complements its brothiness which reminds me of the lightness of the homemade dashi stock I added to a Japanese beef curry last night. Curry from scratch is a lot of work to roast and grind the spices and not burn the roux. I bet the flavor meld of the stew after sitting in the fridge for 24 hours will be amazing.
Back to the tea. Strong aroma but not as heavy and cloaking as the 2017 Classic Laoshan I’ve tried. I taste raw green beans, spinach, roasted chestnut, mineral, hints of sugar cookie and marine air, the cooling sensation of fresh cypress woodchips. Calming, energizing. Beautiful leaves dry and wet.
Great tea for this foggy, brisk morning.