540 Tasting Notes
I received this as a freebie with my last order, which Alistair graciously handled after an unrelated to this tea request. Incredible customer service.
I’ve been enjoying my few days alone and the long weekend. Phone off – sorry friends and family, no Labor Day activities for me. Just catching up on some physics and engineering coursework, interspersed with furry meowmeowkittymeowmeow bonding and more tea than usual. I should get outside after this, though. It’s a beautiful day, cool and not so sunny that I want to stay in the apartment with curtains closed. I guess it’s not quite summer here yet. This tea seemed like a natural pick for the weather.
June 2018 harvest. Gone gaiwan. 3g, 60mL, 195F, 10s rinse, initial steeps at 10/12/15s then felt my way through the rest. 13 steeps total.
I can’t even begin to describe the floral component of this tea. I’m not there yet with high mountain oolongs but I think I can recognize this as a remarkable tea. I was floating while sipping and the tea managed to float above me.
The dry leaf smells like spring bulb flowers such as daffodil and hyacinth. The tea presents as thick and sweet in its aroma, its hour-long aftertaste and in the bottom of the cup. The liquor itself is fairly light-bodied. It starts out mellow with a bouquet of unplaceable-as-of-yet florals, citrus, asian pear, light vegetal, and mineral. Sugarcane, vanilla, sweet cream and a kind of nuttiness like macadamia move in and get cozy, with a cooling sensation showing up in later steeps. The tea seems to just keep ramping up over the course of the session with no extreme changes and never a question of whether I should change the temperature. Very intuitive – I never timed anything beyond the first 3 steeps. It flows incredibly well. Really pleasant energy.
Drank this, was it last night or a few nights ago? I found it to be a mellow and balanced tea. My sample was about half cake, half loose leaf and smelled like plums and hay. Warm leaf was stongly prune and that carried through into the rinsed leaf, which had the addition of wood and coffee grounds. The prominent taste was a bitter, airy but lightly resinous floral supplemented here and there with a light stonefruit (apricot and plum), sourness and minerality. Some astringency but nothing overpowering. A very clean menthol (not camphor) and sweetness showed up in the later steeps with a kind of stevia aftertaste. The tea provided a barely noticeable but sustained, calm energy that kept me awake into the night without anxiety. Spent leaf was cut/chopped quite a bit, looked a little aged already. Several long, leafless stems.
This is a good sheng to drink now but probably not something I’d buy again since I’m looking for a little more oomph in terms of fruitiness and bitterness. I’m a sucker for that light resinous taste and menthol, though.
Received as a freebie with my order, thanks!
I have to preface this review by stating I… don’t really care for honey blacks. :$
Real-time review. I’m preparing this according to MST’s gong fu guidelines. About 4.5 g, 100mL, 195F, steeps of 30/45/60/+5-10.
MST be throwing me off. Nothing says this is roasted but that’s what I taste.
Dry leaf smells like, well, imagine Honeycomb cereal. Rinsed leaf scent is hard to pick out because it seems perfumey above all else but hiding in there is roast, wood, and a mix of citrus-red cherry-rose. The brew starts out very light in the first steep and gets successively stronger in aroma, taste and texture. It moves from light roast and sweet into a progressively darker but light-bodied liquor with notes of citrus-cherry-honey. The light roast flavor underpins it all. It’s a bright tasting tea considering it tastes roasted, with a long and brilliant citrus and honey aftertaste. The bottom of the cup is retaining a scent of honeycomb. There’s an incredible body buzz that comes with it, too. I feel like I’m puddling, spreading out, then sucking parts of myself back in. Imagine the movement of an amoeba. A grinning tea-stoned amoebaaaah.
Oof. Don’t drink this before a work meeting or a test. I can’t even finish my review.
Edit: Got 6 steeps by letting the last one sit for 5+ minutes. There’s also a very strong tangerine zest feeling throughout my whole mouth. Added a rating.
This was the very first box of tea I bought back around 2002 once I started venturing away from the unsweetened Lipton iced tea brewed by my friends. I used to keep a box at my grandma’s to drink while she’d teach me how to cook Greek dishes and pastries. I’ve gone through many boxes since then.
Honestly, it’s not bad. The jasmine is not overwhelming and the liquor is kind of tart like elderflower and a little biscuity. Kind of a golden brown cup. Good in a pinch as long as you have low temperature water, otherwise it’s Bitter City. Good cold-brewed 2 bags to a liter overnight. The best part about the tea is the quote on the back of the pouch: “…She had that brand of pragmatism that would find her the first brewing tea after Armageddon.” —Clive Barker, Weaver-World
It’s growing on me. Really good cold brew 5g to a liter overnight. The cool thickness soothes my parched morning throat. Continues to lubricate after finishing. Nutty, grassy, sweet and bitter. No hint of salt or seaweed to be found. 2.5g left to try another small gaiwan tasting. Bumped from 60 to 70.
Edit: In the spirit of a sipdown, I already brewed the remaining 2.5g as prepared earlier this week. This time I let it cool before drinking and it was much better. I think something about the mixture of hot liquid with intense umami green turned me off last time. Sitting well after eating a breakfast of leftover homemade stir fry. I let the third steep sit for too long but it turned out pleasantly bitter and floral. I enjoyed this flavor so I kept steeping the leaves. Glad I did. Bumping again to 74. My persistence and flexibility has produced good results.
Brewed western. Dry buds smell like a pungent tangerine. Liquor has the added scent of clarified butter. Cat does not like the smell. Tastes like, hm, definite tangerine or tangelo, mango chutney-ish, noticeable black pepper and ginger spice, kind of sweet, a pungent green herb (curry leaf?), a scintilla of citrus blossom (look at me using thesaurus.com like I’m in middle school), a cooling minty whisper. Aftertaste of those gummy, sugared orange slices that remind me of old people in my childhood. Kind of a thick mouthfeel, not thin at all like a lot of herbal teas. Tongue tingles. Many resteeps. Warming, calming. They grow north of Tibet, neat. Best caffeine-free I’ve ever had. Crazy. Awesome. Get some.
I’m pretty sure it’s officially summer in the city for the next 2 months. 10-day forecast shows no fog and all sunny days getting into the 70s next week. Good for drinking down my white teas and fruity and/or lighter-bodied greens as well as small amounts of other teas I have left to make room for what’s coming.
My lover left last night for his annual 2-week vacation in Vietnam. I went with him a few years ago and was kind of awestruck at how comfortable and easy-going it is there, at least as a Western tourist. We made friends with a local woman who was excited to come across a few English speakers she could practice with since the city we were staying in has a majority of Russian and Chinese tourists. It was incredible having her show us around. We accompanied her on a long bus and scooter ride to her family’s home in a small village on the water where we feasted on bowls of fresh fish noodle soup, some kind of bitter legume, sugarcane and mango leather. It was a spur of the moment trip to her family’s, so we didn’t have any tokens of appreciation to offer. I wish I could go back and give them a gift, but I’m stuck here trying to improve my lot in life. Anyway, his layover is in Guangdong, China, so I’m hoping he finds some tea at the airport to bring home. Somebody else he made good friends with in Vietnam has some tea connections, so I’ll at least be getting some new Vietnamese teas to try.
Oy. I’m highly caffeinated and rambling.
This is obviously a Chinese tea!
I tried brewing this in my thermos long ago, and like the silver needles dragon ball, it was undrinkable due to bitterness and astringency. Today I revisited the tea, using a 150mL glass gaiwan. I did an initial steep/rinse at 190F for 30s which was drinkable and followed up the next 3 steeps with 195F at 30s. I upped the temperature to 200F once the ball started opening up about halfway and brewed based on color instead of time. Got 11 steeps before calling it quits. Lots of needles and nice whole leaves, very little broken material. It’s very compact so I left the lid on in between steeps to steam it.
Given all that information, I didn’t actually take any detailed tasting notes. It started out light and flowery and sweet and once I upped the temperature to 200F, it turned into a ridiculously good beeswax and honey with a little astringency, a little bitterness, a little citric sourness, a viscous texture leading into a waxy mouth coating and a very strong aroma of beeswax. SOLID. I’ll be purchasing more for now and for aging. I enjoyed this much more than the silver needle dragon balls.
I’m gonna go ahead and throw a 100 on this, too. In addition to Girl Meets Gaiwan’s review, I’d like to add a little more. The saucer is a thicker porcelain than the gaiwan, with six stylistic indentations around the edge and has a divot that keeps the gaiwan in place. The underside of the lid rim is lightly textured, I suppose to keep the lid in place. The porcelain is thin and allows some light to move through, but it’s not so thin that I burn my fingers when using high temperature water. I consider this a very worthwhile purchase.
Oy, I found my new silver needle. Don’t worry, Feng Qing, I can accommodate you, too.
I had success yesterday with brewing the Kenya Steamed Purple Green Tea in a gaiwan. I chose today to brew these silver needles with the same method.
Gone gaiwan. 3g, 60mL, 195F, no rinse, 10s/12/15/20/25/30/35/45/1m/1m15/1m30. 11 infusions. I’m impressed. September 2017 harvest.
The dry leaf smells like some kind of fruit I haven’t yet tried. I know once I taste that fruit, I will go AHA! that’s the smell of the Kenya Silver Needle White Tea. The closest I can get with my current palate is a vibrant mix of white grape, pineapple, honeydew and fresh green hay. The needles are elegant – long and skinny – and attest to the taste of the tea. Unlike the steamed purple green, this tea had a pronounced evolution. I noticed my tasting notes are very similar to eastkyteaguy’s despite me using a higher temperature. That indicates to me this tea’s versatility and production of a consistent experience when brewing gong fu.
In the first steep, I picked up sugarcane, dry hay and phyllo dough. In the following steeps, the liquor became full and smooth. There was an addition of honeydew, cucumber, butter, white sweet corn, vanilla, cream, a muted ceylon cinnamon and faint malt wIth a persistent aftertaste of butter, white peach and sugarcane. Later steeps lightened in mouthfeel and the tastes moved into sweet lemon, mineral and phyllo dough. Toward the end, butter reappeared and eucalyptus, along with a slightness of its cooling properties, made a presence which I love in this style of tea. The bottom of the cup retained a strong scent of sugarcane throughout the session. There was a slight astringency brewed at this temperature but it did not take away from the experience. Afterwards, I noticed the feeling of a light layer of wax lining my mouth. I checked the scent of the wet leaf in between steeps and was surprised that it smelled very similar to YS Feng Qing silver needles with a note of cantaloupe that I did not pick up on in taste.
This is a tea elegant and somewhat delicate in flavor. It has an appreciable complexity and longevity. I look forward to trying this tea in my thermos at a lower temperature and also western style. These silver needles will have a permanent home in my drawer.
I finished up the 10g pouch of this yesterday since nobody took me up on my offer and it was beckoning me. I just dumped the remaining 5g of balls into my 20oz thermos with unknown temp water from the cafe (I should have asked them by now) and sipped on it for several hours. Never got bitter or astringent and was wonderfully full-bodied. It has a different flavor profile this way, mostly tasting and smelling of overripe strawberries and really good sweet fruitiness. The funkiness came out but it melded perfectly with the flavors. At the end, there was a faint cooling sensation in my mouth. The energy was never overwhelming. Probably could’ve gotten another 20oz out of the leaf but I didn’t have access to a hot water refill.
This tea jives with me and is versatile. Sticking with the 98.