540 Tasting Notes

92

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.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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88
drank 2017 Four AM by White2Tea
540 tasting notes

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.

Preparation
Boiling 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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90

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.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 OZ / 100 ML
brutusK

Okay well I’m glad I’m not the only one that picked up roast lol. I liked this one but I unfortunately didn’t get body feels like you did! Sounds like you should be getting more…

derk

I don’t respond well to trees in my advanced age. This is a decent and cost-effective replacement. Sorry you didn’t get the feels. I hope somebody else can corroborate my claim.

Leafhopper

If I ever order from MST, this tea will be on my list. I’m not crazy about body feels either, but I love honey/fruity black teas!

brutusK

It tasted like slightly toasted raisin cinnamon bread to me—good stuff and you should totally order some

Girl Meets Gaiwan

I have some of this on the way – unfortunately seems to be hanging around in customs for some time. Looking forward to trying.

gmathis

You had me at Honeycombs (flashbacks to 5th grade with a mountainous bowl near one hand and a book in the other)>

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70
drank Jasmine Green Tea by Trader Joe's
540 tasting notes

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

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML
Mastress Alita

That is a really beautiful quote. I always love the silly instructions Steven Smith Teamaker puts on their tea boxes, too, like this one from their Meadow blend: “Bring filtered water to a rolling boil. Steep 5 minutes while pretending you’re Van Gogh painting in Arlos.”

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74

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.

Preparation
5 g 34 OZ / 1000 ML
Mastress Alita

I think when I tried cold brewing it came out way too thick… I may have overleafed it, I have vague memories now. I’ll have to try another cold brew now.

derk

I tend to go light on the leaf with cold brew compared to other people This amount turned out damn near perfect.

Mastress Alita

I have a mason jar with 5g in the fridge right now! Actually using a scale is a relatively new thing for me, so before there is a good chance I just put four teaspoons in for the four cups of water and called it good, and thus overleafed it terribly; now I measure everything if I’m at home with access to my (incredibly finicky) scale, and only “teaspoon it” if I’m at work where I don’t have access to my scale.

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95

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.

Preparation
Boiling 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Girl Meets Gaiwan

I’ve been eyeing this one for a while. Good to have the endorsement, I’ll have to give it a try!

Mastress Alita

I absolutely love those gummy orange slices. If my supervisor puts them in her candy dish, they will be gone by the end of the day, and she’s giving me the stank eye because everyone in the office knows who is responsible for it.

derk

There’s always a candy thief in the office. I’m that way with Smarties.

eastkyteaguy

I loved these things. I didn’t get citrus, gummy orange slices, or ginger out of them, though I got dill, green bell pepper, caramel, grass, and pickle brine out of them. How long were you able to keep them going? Once I got to the 20 minute mark, I just gave up because I could not seem to exhaust them. I have no problem admitting that these little flower buds defeated me.

derk

Brewed western with just 1 flat tsp (~1.4g), I was able to get 4 untimed, 8-oz infusions before I fell asleep, so roughly 1L:1.5g. The citrus was the most prominent note for me in taste, smell and aftertaste but I admit I haven’t spent much time around chrysanthemums besides what people put on their porches around Halloween. I just brought out the bag for a sniff and I can pick up on the dill, green bell pepper and pickle brine you mention. I suppose that’s what I labelled as ‘pungent’ in my tired state. I’m really impressed with their longevity!

derk

For me, the ginger came out in spiciness rather than in flavor.

eastkyteaguy

Do you have the chrysanthemum flower tea as well. I still have about 40g of last year’s production that I am working my way through. They make for an interesting contrast with the buds. I find the flowers smoother and a little sweeter with a fruitiness that I did not get out of the buds.

Mastress Alita

I don’t have plain chrysanthemum but do have chrysanthemum flowers mixed with white tea. Oddly enough, I remember it reminding me a lot of butterfly pea flower…

eastkyteaguy

derk, yeah, the latter is the one. I always intended to pick up the Emperor’s Yellow Chrysanthemum, but have never gotten around to it.

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87

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.

Preparation
8 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
__Morgana__

Everyone I know who has been to Vietnam has had similar things to say about their trips. Sounds like a really special place.

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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.

Kawaii433

I had it sitting in my cart for a long time until I read this. I ordered it. Thank you :) for the review. I’m always looking for a good gaiwan. The smallest one I have is 100ml so this is going to be great.

derk

You’re welcome. Hope you enjoy it!

I should’ve added before that it’s actually eggshell color not pure white.

Kawaii433

Omgosh Derk I got it today and I love it. It’s almost 10 pm and it is absolutely perfect for those late nights, 3g half servings instead of 6g. I’ve been taking it in and out of my cart for months lol. Thank you <3

derk

It is a nice small brewing vessel to have on hand, especially for the price. May you have many pleasant sessions with it :)

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91

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.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
Girl Meets Gaiwan

Sounds lovely!

eastkyteaguy

This is a great silver needle white for brewing Western. So far, I have been truly impressed by the white teas coming out of the African countries.

eastkyteaguy

This is a great silver needle white for brewing Western. So far, I have been truly impressed by the white teas coming out of the African countries.

__Morgana__

Wow, I wish I could appreciate white tea this way.

derk

Morgana: you say whites are tricky. They are for me, too, along with greens. You mentioned in your review today of a White Peony about your noob phase and searching for flavors. This one… idk, I didn’t have to search for flavors. They were pronounced and distinctive while retaining a sense of delicacy. It just worked for me. I think it’s worth a try.

__Morgana__

Sure sounds like it!

derk

eastkyteaguy: I’ve been eyeing the other Kenyan and Malawi white teas since my first order from What-Cha but since I’m not a big white tea drinker, I put them on the backburner. I have a lot of teas to work through over the fall and winter but I’ll reconsider those African whites next spring!

Daylon R Thomas

I was iffy about the Malawi teas I’ve had, but you might have a different experience. The White Rhino is super good, but very close to a Dianhong while retaining its unique flavor that is parallel to the same one here. The Ruby White from Taiwan is incredible in its menthol notes.

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94

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.

Preparation
5 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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Profile

Bio

Always up for a trade. I keep an updated cupboard. Check it out. Don’t be shy — message me if you want to try something! I send international :)

Most enjoyment:

Wuyi and Taiwanese oolong, sheng puerh, Yunnan and Wuyi blacks, GABA oolong. I also appreciate Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Darjeeling and Nepali teas, bagged tea and herbal teas/tisanes.

I take my teas without milks or sweeteners except sometimes chai and the rare London Fog, matcha latte and golden milk.

I’ll try anything once because it helps me learn. Not opposed to well placed herbs, flowers, fruity bits and flavorings, just nothing cloying. And no added sugars, sweeteners, candy or chocolate.

I abandoned both my preference reference and the recording of detailed steeping parameters in January 2020, favoring a focus on qualitative descriptions. At this point, I am still comfortable toggling the “Not/Recommended” button.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be daily drinker teas.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.
59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.

Location

Sonoma County, California, USA

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