664 Tasting Notes

93

This has to be a turning point for me. With the completion of this review, I will have reviewed at least three teas in the same month I finished them for the first time in what feels like a very long time. To be clear, I finished a 25g pouch of this tea last week. I’m a big fan of Yunnan white teas, but I was especially impressed by this one. It was a very visually appealing tea; those little rings were just so cute. It, however, also produced a very satisfying drinking session.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled leaf buds in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry earrings produced aromas of hay, sugarcane, and smoke. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of malt, cooked lettuce, and corn husk. The first infusion then introduced scents of asparagus and bamboo. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of bamboo, hay, cooked lettuce, malt, smoke, corn husk, and sugarcane that were chased by impressions of apricot and sour plum. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn creamy and buttery, though scents of lemon zest and eucalyptus were also evident. In the mouth, notes of asparagus arrived along with new flavors of artichoke, minerals, butter, cream, grass, marshmallow, lemon zest, straw, and eucalyptus. The final infusions emphasized lingering mineral, cooked lettuce, cream, lemon zest, and stone fruit notes that were underscored by hints of corn husk, butter, sugarcane, malt, and grass. I also managed to pick up a very subtle spinach note that came out towards the swallow on the final two or three infusions.

This was an interesting and very likable Yunnan white tea. I am certain that fans of such teas would enjoy it. Definitely consider giving it a shot if you are looking for a flavorful, aromatic, and visually appealing white tea. I doubt it will disappoint.

Flavors: Apricot, Artichoke, Asparagus, Bamboo, Butter, Corn Husk, Cream, Eucalyptus, Grass, Hay, Lemon Zest, Lettuce, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Plums, Smoke, Spinach, Straw, Sugarcane

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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80

This was another of the Darjeeling oolongs I finished during the first week of September. Honestly, I did not find it to be quite as appealing as the spring oolong from Jungpana, though it was a very appealing, likable tea overall. I appreciated its range of floral, fruity, and nutty aromas and flavors.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material produced aromas of raisin, fruit leather, prune, and fig. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, wood, hay, straw, and citrus as well as a stronger fruit leather scent. The first infusion then introduced aromas of violet and dandelion. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted almond, dandelion, wood, raisin, and hay. There was also something of a sugary presence in the mouth. Subsequent infusions introduced stronger violet and dandelion aromas along with some rose-like scents. New impressions of roasted peanut, grass, green bell pepper, marigold, minerals, rose, and toasted cashew appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging flavors of violet, orange, prune, and fig. The later infusions offered lingering mineral, wood, roasted peanut, hay, and grass impressions along with subtle dandelion accents in places.

Like the other Goomtee Estate teas I have tried, this was a very quirky and often surprising tea. I could see it making a good entry point to the world of Darjeeling oolongs for fans of first flush Darjeeling black teas. My only real knocks on this tea were that it displayed a tendency to get a bit chalky and astringent in the mouth on some of the longer infusions, and some of its most appealing aromas and flavors faded a little too quickly for my liking. This was still a very nice tea, however, and though not previously mentioned, it worked tremendously well when brewed in the Western style. Overall, I would recommend that fans of Darjeeling teas give this one a shot.

Flavors: Almond, Dandelion, Dried Fruit, Fig, Floral, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Mineral, Nutty, Orange, Peanut, Raisins, Rose, Straw, Sugar, Violet, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

Back around the start of September, I took a couple days to work my way through some Darjeeling oolong samples that I had purchased back in late summer and early autumn of 2017. This was one of them, and I have to say that I was impressed by it. Of course, it should also be noted that I am a huge fan of the teas produced by the Jungpana Estate. I particularly appreciated this tea’s depth and complexity.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of toasted cashew, hay, raisin, vanilla, malt, and wood. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of grass, straw, spinach, and roasted almond along with some hints of fennel. The first infusion offered a hint of green bell pepper on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of toasted cashew, wood, hay, malt, vanilla, and roasted almond that were backed by surprising notes of mango and tangerine before impressions of green bell pepper and grass popped up on the finish. Subsequent infusions saw aromas of mango, tangerine, jasmine, and spearmint appear. Notes of fennel, spinach, raisin, and straw belatedly appeared in the mouth alongside new notes of spearmint, minerals, sugar, orange, and jasmine. The later infusions offered some lingering mineral, tangerine, mango, and fennel notes that were backed by impressions of grass, roasted nuts, green bell pepper, and spinach.

This was a complex, challenging, and refined first flush Darjeeling oolong that managed to remain approachable throughout a lengthy drinking session and never turned sour, bitter, or astringent. Fans of Darjeeling teas would probably be very pleased with it. I would have no issue with recommending it to oolong fans looking for something new or fans of Darjeeling black teas who are looking for something a little more challenging.

Flavors: Almond, Citrus, Fennel, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Jasmine, Malt, Mango, Mineral, Nutty, Orange, Raisins, Spearmint, Spinach, Straw, Sugar, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Jungpana’s are one of my favorites, too.

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68

This was the last tea I tried before I was knocked out of commission for a time due to that snakebite in the latter half of August. That would mean I probably finished my sample pouch between August 16th and August 19th. At the time I was finishing this tea up, I recall thinking that it was pleasant enough to drink though somewhat boring and forgettable overall. Indeed, if I did not have session notes to go by, I would have been able to recall absolutely nothing about the review session I conducted. In my opinion, this tea lacked the mineral bite, spiciness, woodsiness, and/or strong, thick sweetness that frequently make many Wuyi black teas so compelling, and it also lacked the strong fruity and herbal qualities that make many contemporary Taiwanese black teas so memorable and endearingly quirky.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cocoa, raisin, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted peanut and blueberry to go along with an odd banana-like aroma and a considerably stronger cocoa presence. The first infusion then introduced some mineral hints to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cocoa, cinnamon, raisin, honey, roasted peanut, and blueberry chased by a subtle banana impression. The subsequent infusions introduced smoke, pine, malt, baked bread, and citrus aromas as well as a stronger mineral scent. New notes of cream, leather, baked bread, pine, caramel, orange zest, and malt appeared in the mouth along with strong, belatedly emerging mineral impressions and some subtle smokiness. The final infusions offered mineral, caramel, orange zest, malt, and cocoa notes that were accompanied by faint cream, baked bread, and roasted peanut accents.

All in all, this was a respectable tea, but it ended up not being one I could ever see myself tracking down and trying again. Its quirks were a little too subtle for my taste, and since it did not offer the thick, robust sweetness of many Wuyi black teas or the pronounced fruity and herbal qualities of many other Taiwanese black teas, it ended up falling into a gray area for me. It was simultaneously reminiscent of both a Wuyi black tea and a Taiwanese black tea, but it had too few of the best qualities of either to truly impress me. I could see people who like very smooth and often very subtle black teas being into this tea, but quite frankly, I am not one of those people. Overall, this tea was not bad; it was just not for me.

Flavors: Baked Bread, banana, Blueberry, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Smoke

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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94

This was the last of the samples from The Teaguy that I got around to trying. Of the bunch, I found it to be the best. It should be noted, however, that I am still a huge sucker for a good, straight-ahead Earl Grey, so it should come as no surprise that I was more taken with this blend than the others I received.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 4 minutes. I neither rinsed the leaf material nor attempted any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted a strong bergamot aroma. After infusion, the bergamot aroma was still heavy and strong, though I could also detect some subtle scents of toast, cream, and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered strong bergamot notes on the entry that were chased by subtler malt, toast, caramel, cream, and orange zest impressions. The finish was dominated by a lingering orange zest impression and a suddenly rejuvenated bergamot note.

As Earl Grey blends go, this one was pretty basic and did not offer any surprises, but it was also a ridiculously aromatic, flavorful, and drinkable blend that was just heavy enough on the bergamot oil to avoid coming off as unbalanced. Truly good Earl Greys seem to be getting harder and harder to come by, so with that in mind, there is no way I could refrain from giving this one a high score. If you are an Earl Grey freak, make a point of checking this one out sometime.

Flavors: Bergamot, Caramel, Cream, Malt, Orange Zest, Toast

Preparation
1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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86

Alright, I’m back again with another review. This was another of the tea samples I received from The Teaguy in the spring of 2017 in exchange for a Steepster review. I finally got around to finishing it during the latter part of August while I was off my feet due to the snakebite I have mentioned in several previous reviews. Even though I have shied away from black tea blends like this over the course of the past year or so, I still found this to make a very drinkable and energizing cuppa.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 4 minutes. I neither rinsed the leaf blend nor attempted any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced aromas of malt, raisin, and wood. After infusion, I detected a smooth, dominant malt aroma underscored by wood and citrus hints. In the mouth, the tea liquor was milder than expected. I detected notes of straw, wood, malt, lemon zest, leather, roasted chestnut, and roasted walnut that faded towards the finish and revealed a very faint raisin note. The finish was surprisingly brisk and astringent though some lingering roasted nut, malt, lemon zest, and molasses notes were still evident.

Generally, Irish breakfast tea is not one of my favorite black tea blends. By the time I got around to trying this one, I had been shying away from blends like this for a considerable length of time, and honestly, I continue to avoid them. If I need a brisk, malty, woodsy, and astringent cup to get me going in the morning, I tend to lean toward single origin black teas from Yunnan Province or Vietnam and very occasionally will still break out an Assam black tea of some sort. Still, this was a very appealing Irish breakfast blend. It took me a couple tries to get it dialed in, but once I did, I could see why the other reviewers enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, I think this may have qualified as one of the best Irish breakfast teas I have tried to this point. If you are the sort of person who enjoys blends of this sort, give this one a shot sometime.

Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Chestnut, Cream, Leather, Lemon Zest, Malt, Molasses, Raisins, Straw, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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60

I received a free pouch of this tea in the spring of 2017 in exchange for a review. Because I am an unfocused slacker, I forgot about it and only got around to trying it while I was recovering from my snakebite in the second part of August. I think this blend was a little past its prime when I got around to trying it because I did not find it to be all that satisfying or memorable. It also could have just been me. I was not in the best of places when working my way through this tea, and anyway, I only drink blends like this sporadically.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I neither rinsed the leaves nor attempted any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf blend produced subtle aromas of raisin, prune, and fig. After infusion, I detected new aromas of malt, toast, cream, orange, and pine. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, toast, malt, orange, prune, raisin, pine, honey, and fig that were backed by hints of black pepper, straw, and nutmeg. The finish was mostly creamy and malty, though I could find some touches of honey and dried fruit here and there.

For the most part, this seemed to be a pretty standard black tea blend. I’m fairly certain that I would have enjoyed it more had I been in both a better physical state and frame of mind at the time I committed to drinking it, but I still doubt that it would ever be something I would choose to seek out on my own. For what this was, I suppose it was decent, but honestly, blends like this are not really for me.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Cream, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Malt, Nutmeg, Orange, Pine, Raisins, Straw, Toast

Preparation
1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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89

Okay, this was the last of the teas I drank in June. Fortunately, I do not have many reviews left from July and August, so I should be able to get things caught up fairly quickly from this point forward. I recall drinking what I had of this tea the day after I finished the last of the China Guizhou ‘Dew Drops’ Green Tea, and I have to say that I found this tea to be the more impressive of the two. Both were very good, but if I could only have one of the two, I would choose this one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of green tea pearls in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry pearls emitted aromas of hay, grass, malt, and corn husk. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of bamboo and spinach. The first infusion offered nothing new on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate notes of hay, malt, grass, and corn husk that were chased by subtler impressions of smoke, apricot, and sugarcane. Subsequent infusions saw sugarcane and apricot make themselves known on the nose. Stronger notes of smoke, sugarcane, and apricot appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging bamboo and spinach notes and new impressions of minerals, sour plum, asparagus, cream, and lettuce. The final few infusions emphasized soft mineral, cream, grass, asparagus, and bamboo notes that were balanced by impressions of stone fruits and malt as well as a faint pear-like note that came out at the very end of the session.

This was very much a straightforward, easy-drinking green tea equally suited to solo consumption or pairing with a variety of foods. I could see it making an excellent introduction to Guizhou green teas or a fantastic daily drinker for those who like heartier, less subtle green teas. I would love to see how this particular tea pairs with jasmine because I bet it would make a knock-out jasmine dragon pearl green tea. Anyway, try this one if you are looking for a regular drinking tea and/or are curious about the green teas Guizhou Province has to offer.

Flavors: Apricot, Asparagus, Bamboo, Corn Husk, Cream, Grass, Hay, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Pear, Plums, Smoke, Spinach, Sugarcane

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

I reviewed an earlier harvest of this tea back around the end of 2016. I think that version was either a 2015 or 2016 production. I greatly enjoyed it then, but at the time, I was not used to autumn flush Darjeeling black teas and had not reached a point where I was fully comfortable identifying subtle aroma and flavor components. Fast forward to the spring of 2018 and I ended up with a free sample pouch of the 2017 version of this tea with a What-Cha order. I then set aside some time at the end of July to try it. I found this more recent production to be more complex and challenging than the earlier version, but of course, I think a lot of that was probably due to me simply being more used to Gopaldhara teas and autumn flush Darjeeling black teas in general.

I prepared this tea in the Western fashion. I steeped 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I neither rinsed the tea nor attempted any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced subtle aromas of raisin and prune that were underscored by ghostly hints of cocoa. After infusion, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, butter, malt, toast, rose, and Muscatel. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of herbs, straw, malt, butter, cream, toast, lemon zest, Muscatel, orange, rose, dandelion, black cherry, and wood that were balanced by subtler impressions of cocoa, prune, grass, and raisin. The finish was very pleasant, offering lingering impressions of orange, black cherry, Muscatel, dandelion, rose, and toast that were chased by fleeting herbal notes.

Overall, I found this 2017 production to be just as enjoyable as the earlier version of this tea. It was fruitier and more complex, but again, I likely feel that way because I have gotten much better at picking out aromas and flavors over the course of the past two years. Much like the other teas I have tried from the Gopaldhara Estate, this one had a ton to offer, though it was often subtle and hinted at specific impressions more than it actually presented them. I’m sure that experienced autumn flush Darjeeling drinkers would love this tea, though I also think that newcomers to such teas should probably start with some of the more robust and accessible autumn flush black teas. The more of these teas I try the more I concur with the general consensus that the Gopaldhara teas are probably not ideal starting points for beginners.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Dandelion, Dried Fruit, Grass, Herbs, Lemon Zest, Malt, Muscatel, Orange, Raisins, Rose, Straw, Toast, Wood

Preparation
3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
So Keta

Wow, so many flavour notes! You really sell this tea, gotta say. Have you tried it gong-fu style? I’m curious if Eastern brewing would highlight any of those flavours more.

eastkyteaguy

So Keta, I have unfortunately not tried this tea gongfu. For the most part, I tend to avoid brewing Darjeeling green and black teas in the gongfu style because I do not believe them to be well-suited to such a process. Others would disagree, but that’s just how I feel. I do, however, frequently brew Darjeeling and Nepalese oolongs gongfu.

So Keta

Fair enough, I too feel that way about many black teas

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93

Actually, I may as well post another of my backlogged tea reviews while I’m at it. This was a more recent sipdown since I finished what I had of this tea around the end of July or start of August. I found it to be an excellent Rou Gui, and that is really saying something since Rou Gui is not usually one of my things.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cinnamon, pine, char, rock sugar, blackberry, and black cherry. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond and roasted peanut to go along with a stronger rock sugar aroma and a slight smokiness. The first infusion saw the bouquet turn spicier and citrusy as aromas of candied orange peel and ginger emerged. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, pine, black cherry, smoke, char, rock sugar, and blackberry that were balanced by notes of cream and roasted nuts on the swallow. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of black raspberry and pomegranate. Notes of candied orange peel and ginger belatedly emerged alongside stronger roasted peanut, roasted almond, and rock sugar notes. New flavors of minerals, pomegranate, black raspberry, and ginger emerged. There were even very subtle notes of popcorn, grass, tobacco, roasted barley, black pepper, nutmeg, and red grape in places. The later infusions emphasized impressions of minerals, cream, roasted nuts, and rock sugar that were backed by hints of pine and smoke.

This was an incredibly complex Rou Gui with tremendous depth and a wonderful body in the mouth. I also loved how crisp and pronounced the mineral impressions were. Honestly, this was the sort of Rou Gui I had been looking for since I first started trying them a couple years ago. Definitely give this one a shot if you are in the same boat. I doubt it will disappoint.

Flavors: Almond, Black Pepper, Blackberry, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Ginger, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Peanut, Pine, Popcorn, Raspberry, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar, Tobacco

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Bio

My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

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KY

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