312 Tasting Notes
Part 4 of my 2016 CWS review. First steep had a pleasant straw/apricot flavor. Slightly sweet. Silky in the mouth. 2nd (10s): Straw/tobacco nose. I’m already feeling the cha qi from the first steep. Nice tobacco/straw flavor and silky texture; Similar to first steep. 3rd(20s): Still rich, but the flavor has shifted from sweet and silky to slightly bitter, tannic and acidic. 4th (30s): Initially sweet, then bitter, then sweet again in the finish. Very powerful finish. Strong cha qi. 5th was an oversteep (90s). Strong without excessive bitterness.
This tea is what I think of when I thing of Chawangshop teas: solid and good value, but not the highest quality. Having said that, I have to note that two of the teas I’ve tried so far, were in fact of the “highest quality” according to my rating system >=90.
After finishing my review I read other reviews that talked about the bitterness of the tea. It certainly became more bitter in later steeps, but I didn’t find the bitterness excessive. I also found that the bitterness was reduced if I used shorter steeps in later cups, yet the straw flavors still came through nicely.
I’ve been tasting my way through the entire 2016 ChawangShop line, thanks to a group buy. This is my favorite so far.
The first steep was disappointing: light straw nose and taste. The 2nd steep started light; mostly straw. However, as the tea cooled, it developed more flavor and texture in the mouth, particularly near the finish, which was long. I’m not noticing much cha qi at this point. The 3rd steep was when it started to shine. It was very full in the mouth. The taste was a mix of broth, weeds, and leather with some bitterness at the finish. Long, long, finish; the finish is definitely the best part of this tea, though the texture in the mouth is a close second.
In the 4th steep I was finally feeling some cha qi. The nose and taste are weedy, with hints of grass. Really full texture in the mouth; slightly astringent. For me, a tea normally peaks in the 3rd steep, but I liked this steep better. I want to just keep rolling it around in my mouth. Then, the finish keeps it going. 5th steep (40s): The nose is full and rich. Taste is too. Huge finish. The 6th steep finally showed a bit of weakness; still quite good, but less so than the 5th.
This was my second tea of the group buy tasting. I didn’t like it nearly as much as the Jinggu You Shang gushu.
The first steep had a weak nose. Sweet straw flavor is light in the mouth. This may be partly because the cake was relatively solid, so I did a poor job of breaking it. Waited 15 minutes for next steep to let the chunk loosen. After 4 steeps, it was fully separated. The tea never really developed: decent flavor but straightforward, and slightly astringent. A longer steep just produced bitterness. I gave up after 5 steeps. Not really a bad tea, just average, which is no longer what I am hoping for.
I’ve decided to go back and review all of the samples I got via the 2016 group buy. I’ve had the samples about 6 months, stored in a room that has averaged 60% humidity. This was the first sample, and the good taste is what inspired me to try all the others. I may have to place an order.
The first steep didn’t have much nose, but the taste is good: straw with some stone fruit underneath. Nice chewy texture. 2nd steep (10s): Much nicer nose shows spice and old leather. Powerful taste with full body in the mouth and strong finish. Strong cha qi. Strong, yet elegant. Slightly acidic, but not very tannic or bitter. 3rd (20s): Big and spicy and beginning to get very tannic (my mouth is all puckered). 4th (30s): Still very good, but I’m seeing less flavor; just tannin, though less than before. 5th (1m): Nose is rich and spicy. Excellent taste also shows spice. Much less tannic. I got another 6 steeps or so (much more than I normally get from a 4 gram sample. They were all very enjoyable, with good taste, not much bitterness, and gradually becoming less complex.
This was an interesting tea. It started out with a light straw flavor with just a hint of mint in the nose, but around the 3rd steep it suddenly got quite aggressive, powerful and woody. Both guises were fairly complex and enjoyable. From the first, the cha qi was pretty close to overwhelming. I’m getting a full-body effect and general lassitude.
Flavors: Straw, Wood
From the Here’s Hoping TTB.
The nose is lovely with apricot/floral flavors. Taste is also very good, with the fruit more subdued, but the tea flavor is good as well; a good balance between the two flavors. It may just be I’m getting used to it, but the fruit seemed to fade as I sipped, and a strong astringency began to dominate in the finish. Not bitter, but my whole mouth is puckered up.
The fruit is less obvious in the second steep, but I find that I still enjoy the tea. The fruit is there, just less obvious. I’m also picking up the flowers more, and seeing less astringency in the finish. Overall, a very good tea.
From the Here’s Hoping TTB
This was a very interesting tea. I was initially put off by the strong roasted aroma, but the taste was an unusual balance between the heavy roast (not nearly as strong in the taste as in the nose) and a sweet maple flavor. The light, sweet, maple flavor rode over a heavy dark roast, and the contrast was very interesting.I brewed it using gong-fu style, which was a mistake, since the maple faded faster than the roast. Surprisingly, this didn’t seriously affect my enjoyment of the tea. It subtly changed to a more tobacco flavor over the course of about 3 steeps, but maintained the same character of a light flavor riding over a heavy one. I liked it so much that I’m keeping the last 7 grams, so I can try it western style.
From the Here’s Hoping TTB. This is my first real disappointment from the TTB. This is a CTC tea, but I’d at least hoped for a good strong breakfast tea. However, it was weak and bland. I suspect this may have just be too old; either too long in the box, or maybe an older tea that was added. Second steep of 7 minutes: nothing there.
From the Here’s Hoping TTB. I should almost write two different reviews for this tea. My first cup was OK; not terribly strong, but with pleasant spice flavors. Nice but not special.
For the re-steep, I tried to approximate the directions on the package, and mixed the steeped tea with hot milk. It was really good! I don’t think I’ve ever actually tried chai with milk before. It reminded me of a weak latte but with spice rather than coffee flavor. BTW: I couldn’t taste the coconut at all.
From the Here’s Hoping TTB. This tea has a very unusual flavor. I asked my wife, who is better than me in identifying aromas, and she said miso soup. It’s not an exact fit, but it’s close. There’s a lot of other stuff in there too: smoke, spice. Reminded me a bit of chai. I found that the more I drank the less I liked it; it was just kind of funky.