779 Tasting Notes

79

Here is my last review of the day. This was another recent sipdown of mine. I finished the last of this tea Monday afternoon. For the most part, I am a huge fan of Georgian black teas, but I quickly came to the conclusion that this one was never going to be one of my favorites. Though it was a good tea for the most part, I did not feel that it compared favorably to some of the other Georgian black teas that What-Cha has stocked in recent years.

Rather than gongfuing this tea, I opted to brew it in the Western style. After rinsing the leaves, I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. Normally, I do not resteep black teas that I brew in this fashion, but I opted for a second infusion with this one. The second and final infusion was 7 minutes, and 194 F water was again used.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced subtle aromas of raisin and pine. After the rinse, I found aromas of roasted almond and malt that were underscored by a faint smokiness. The first infusion brought out aromas of cream and steamed milk along with subtler scents of cinnamon and orange zest. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of raisin, malt, roasted almond, cream, steamed milk, butter, pine, toast, cinnamon, oats, and nutmeg that were accompanied by hints of date, smoke, pear, and orange zest. The finish was very smooth, emphasizing cream, raisin, malt, oat, and toast notes. The second infusion offered steamed milk, cream, malt, roasted almond, toast, butter, raisin, pine, and petrichor aromas. The liquor was thinner and slicker in the mouth, as softer, subtler notes of pine, malt, cream, steamed milk, roasted almond, toast, butter, and raisin flitted across the palate. I also noted some subtle mineral impressions, hints of petrichor, and touches of brown sugar and vanilla here and there on the finish.

As stated above, this was not a bad tea. Unfortunately, it was also really nothing out of the ordinary for a Georgian black tea. Just about everything one would normally expect to find in such a tea was here. If you’re a fan of Georgian black teas, then you will probably like this tea to a certain extent, as it would be the sort of tea you could always fall back on when you need your Georgian tea fix. If, on the other hand, you are just getting into Georgian black teas or are looking for a more unique Georgian tea experience, there are teas out there that are considerably more interesting and appealing. In the end, I would very likely pick something like Natela’s Gold Standard Black Tea over this one if given the opportunity.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Dates, Malt, Milk, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Orange Zest, Pear, petrichor, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Toast, Vanilla

Preparation
8 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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92

This was another recent sipdown of mine. I think I finished what I had of this tea either Friday evening or Saturday morning. I worked through most of what I had of it alongside the spring 2017 Jingmai Purple Needle black tea because I wanted to compare them to one another. Both were quality teas, but this more traditionally styled Jingmai Mountain black tea ended up being my favorite of the two.

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 followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of baked bread, malt, chocolate, brown sugar, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, cream, and butter alongside an even stronger chocolate scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of rose, orange zest, straw, and violet as well as a subtle scent of smoke. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of malt, cream, butter, baked bread, earth, and chocolate that gave way to impressions of rose, roasted peanut, sweet potato, brown sugar, and orange zest before impressions of wheat toast and some vague vegetal notes took over on the swallow. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of pine, wheat toast, caramel, anise, cinnamon, marshmallow, menthol, and earth as well as some subtler scents of black pepper. Roasted almond, straw, and violet notes came out in the mouth along with stronger and more immediate impressions of wheat toast. I also detected cooked green bean hints and impressions of minerals, cinnamon, anise, menthol, caramel, red pear, pine, and lemon zest. There were even hints of leather, smoke, sour apricot, red grape, black pepper, and marshmallow lurking around the fringes. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, lemon zest, orange zest, malt, earth, roasted peanut, and cream that were balanced by hints of pine, roasted almond, sweet potato, chocolate, and brown sugar. Some menthol coolness remained in the mouth and throat after each swallow.

This was a very nice Jingmai Mountain black tea. It expressed a ton of character on the nose and in the mouth, and unlike quite a few other Yunnan black teas, its energy wasn’t overwhelming. I could see this making a great tea for Yunnan black tea connoisseurs and neophytes alike, since it had a ton to offer yet was never confusing, awkward, or overpowering.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apricot, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grapes, Green Beans, Leather, Lemon Zest, Malt, Marshmallow, Menthol, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Rose, Smoke, Straw, Sweet Potatoes, Toast, Violet, Wheat

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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89

We’re coming to one of my more recent sipdowns now, as I finished the last of my pouch of this tea back on Friday. It had been some time since I had tried a Jingmai Mountain black tea when I first decided to tear into this one, and it reminded me of why I have such a soft spot for Jingmai blacks. This tea yielded a very complex liquor that was also very approachable and balanced.

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 followed by 18 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, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cedar, raisin, pine, prune, cinnamon, and honey. After the rinse, I detected aromas of malt, roasted almond, baked bread, brown sugar, and tomato. The first infusion added aromas of cocoa, grass, straw, and green bell pepper. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of malt, roasted almond, cedar, pine, and cinnamon that were backed by hints of grass, straw, tomato, baked bread, green bell pepper, and brown sugar. I also picked up some vague impressions reminiscent of stone fruits, citrus, and flowers. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of rose, butter, lemon zest, blood orange, violet, plum, and red grape. Impressions of raisin, prune, honey, and cocoa came out in the mouth along with stronger and more immediate notes of tomato, straw, and baked bread. Impressions of rose, violet, minerals, plum, blood orange, butter, sour cherry, lemon zest, red grape, pear, cream, and nutmeg also emerged in the mouth. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, roasted almond, butter, cream, lemon zest, blood orange, pine, red grape, and rose that were underscored by hints of violet, cocoa, brown sugar, pear, cinnamon, and raisin before a stronger baked bread note re-emerged on each swallow.

This was a very nice, very likable Yunnan purple black tea that fell just a step or two short of greatness. I would have liked to see a slightly stronger, thicker tea liquor and a little more integration of the flavor components in some of the earlier infusions, but these are fairly minor quibbles overall. To be clear, this was a very good tea. There are better Yunnan black teas out there, but one could do far worse than giving this one a shot.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blood orange, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Dried Fruit, Grapes, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pear, Pine, Raisins, Rose, Straw, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

I am so happy to be back on Steepster. Work and class have been crazy lately, and quite frankly, I just haven’t had the time or the energy to do any reviews. Fortunately, I am still working my way through some of my larger tea purchases, so the backlog isn’t huge these days. I finished what I had of this tea a week or so ago. Prior to trying this tea, I did not have much familiarity with Hong Shui oolongs, so I did not really know how to score it. Overall, though, I found it to be a very nice yet challenging tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of dry tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 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, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of raisin, prune, pear, cinnamon, and roasted almond. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of vanilla, cream, roasted peanut, butter, and roasted pecan as well as a subtle scent of old leather. The first infusion introduced aromas of cedar, smoke, candied ginger, and nutmeg. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of raisin, prune, honey, cinnamon, roasted almond, vanilla, cream, and butter that were chased by hints of cedar, nutmeg, candied ginger, and pear. There was also a little leatheriness in the mouth after the swallow. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of blackberry, toasted rice, chocolate, roasted barley, pine, straw, black cherry, and blueberry. Stronger candied ginger, pear, and nutmeg notes came out in the mouth alongside roasted pecan notes. Impressions of minerals, straw, toasted rice, roasted barley, black cherry, oats, chocolate, caramel, blackberry, blueberry, red apple, grass, baked bread, and pine also emerged with hints of licorice and smoke in tow. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, cream, butter, vanilla, honey, roasted almond, and roasted peanut that were balanced by softer notes of raisin, blackberry, cinnamon, pine, baked bread, toasted rice, grass, and black cherry.

This was a very interesting oolong. Its aroma and flavor components were constantly shifting, rendering the experience of drinking it very difficult for me to accurately describe. In terms of aroma and flavor, it struck me as being almost like a cross between a lighter roasted Shui Xian and a traditional Dong Ding oolong. Anyway, there was a lot going on with this tea. If you are looking for something a little more challenging, this would definitely be a tea to consider.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Dried Fruit, Ginger, Grass, Honey, Leather, Licorice, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Peanut, Pear, Pecan, Pine, Raisins, Red Apple, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Straw, Toasted Rice, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Lovely to SEE you back!

Mastress Alita

I know those feels, February ate me alive and I just now feel like I’m getting some of my stride back. Nice to see you back!

eastkyteaguy

Thanks. It’s good to be back.

Daylon R Thomas

I had my break too because of work and sickness. I also had to get my personal laptop fixed, so I had to wait to post…never mind I drank at least six new teas. I gotta say that the Moondrops from What-Cha kicks butt.

LuckyMe

Welcome back! Returning to Steepster after a break is always an invigorating experience for me.

Kittenna

Welcome back!

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85

This was my third sipdown of the week. It seems that I have been really motivated to finish some of the teas I have been holding on to for a while. Going through my tea stash to locate this tea also made me realize that I have a larger number of 2017 and 2018 Yunnan Sourcing black teas than I thought, so expect many more black tea reviews in the coming months. Anyway, I decided to work my way through what I had of this tea mostly because the previous two Yunnan black teas I had finished were dragon ball teas, and well, I wanted to get back to brewing loose leaf black tea. I recalled liking the autumn 2016 version of this tea and knew that I had this spring 2017 version somewhere, so I went through my stash, located it, and started working my way through it. I found it to be a very satisfying and likable Yunnan black tea, but I did not enjoy it quite as much as the previous offering.

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 followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, cedar, sweet potato, tobacco, pine, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, I detected aromas of baked bread, honey, orange zest, black pepper, molasses, and brown sugar. The first infusion brought out aromas of cream, cinnamon, earth, and camphor. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of malt, cedar, cream, baked bread, pine, sweet potato, earth, and orange zest that were chased by hints of honey, tobacco, cinnamon, and eucalyptus. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of vanilla, roasted almond, chocolate, and caramel along with some subtle smoky scents and even stronger herbal and spicy components. Camphor, brown sugar, molasses, and black pepper notes came out in the mouth with stronger and more immediate tobacco, honey, cinnamon, and eucalyptus impressions. New impressions of minerals, vanilla, roasted almond, lemon zest, caramel, and chocolate also appeared along with some subtle hints of smoke. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering mineral, baked bread, malt, cream, chocolate, roasted almond, and earth notes that were supported by accents of honey, molasses, sweet potato, camphor, tobacco, and eucalyptus.

This was another very good, very solid Yunnan black tea in a long line of very good, very solid Yunnan black teas offered by Yunnan Sourcing. I noticed that this tea revealed more on the nose from the very start than the autumn 2016 offering, and while both teas were similar in the mouth, the autumn 2016 offering struck me as being more pungent and prickly. This was a smoother, subtler tea in comparison, and though it was more or less as good as its predecessor, I actually enjoyed the prickliness of the other tea and found myself missing it in this one. Still, this was a rock solid Yunnan black tea, one that fans of such teas would likely enjoy.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Michelle Butler Hallett

Oh, this sounds lovely.

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82

This was another sipdown from earlier in the week, my second of the week overall. Prior to trying this tea, I had never tried a jasmine aroma dancong oolong. Since I love jasmine, I was eager to break this one out and finally got around to it this week. Unfortunately, it did not wow me as much as some of the other dancong oolongs I have polished off over the course of the past two months. It was still a very good tea overall, but it struck me as being subtler and more challenging while also being a little less distinctive than the others.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of orchid, nectarine, cream, vanilla, and roasted almond as well as a subtle jasmine scent. After the rinse, I detected aromas of honey, spinach, grass, peach, and candied orange. The first infusion introduced a slightly stronger jasmine scent as well as a lychee aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of grass, spinach, cream, butter, vanilla, and roasted almond that were backed by hints of candied orange, orchid, and honey. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of plum, cherry, butter, white grape, orange zest, and wood. Stronger and more immediate honey and orchid notes came out in the mouth along with impressions of lychee, peach, and nectarine and hints of jasmine. I also detected notes of minerals, pear, cherry, plum, lychee, wood, white grape, orange zest, green bell pepper, and grape leaf. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, wood, roasted almond, cream, grass, and grape leaf that were balanced by hints of butter, orange zest, plum, jasmine, white grape, and cherry.

This was a very different tea compared to the other Yunnan Sourcing dancong oolongs I have been drinking in recent months. Its liquor was not as sweet and nectar-like, coming across as woodier, more vegetal, and more pungent in many places. In many ways, it was a more challenging and more unpredictable tea. I enjoyed it a great deal, though I would not reach for it all that often. I also feel that it would likely not be a good introductory tea for those new to dancong oolongs given its complex, subtle, and rather challenging profile. In my opinion, this would more be a tea for well-established connoisseurs of dancong oolongs who are looking for something a little different.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Candy, Cherry, Cream, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Jasmine, Lychee, Mineral, Orange, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Plums, Spinach, Stonefruits, Vanilla, Vegetal, White Grapes, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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81

This was my first sipdown of the week and a tea I had kind of been planning on trying for some time. I know I mentioned in a previous review that I am not usually a huge fan of dragon pearl teas, but I am a huge fan of Feng Qing black teas, and this was a dragon pearl black tea from Feng Qing. Naturally, I couldn’t pass it up. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it, but ultimately, I found it to be a very good, very solid Feng Qing black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of balled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 infusions at the same temperature. 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, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes. After this series of infusions was completed, I steeped the mostly spent tea leaves in 212 F water for 30 minutes just to shake things up a bit.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea balls emitted aromas of malt, cream, sweet potato, honey, and pine. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, vanilla, and sugarcane. The first infusion introduced aromas of chocolate and baked bread. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, cream, sweet potato, vanilla, sugarcane, and pine that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, chocolate, and baked bread. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of fennel, eucalyptus, black pepper, caramel, and marshmallow that were accompanied by subtle scents of clove and cinnamon. Stronger and more immediate roasted almond, chocolate, and baked bread notes emerged in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging honey and roasted peanut notes. Impressions of minerals, butter, fennel, eucalyptus, marshmallow, caramel, black pepper, clove, and orange zest also emerged along with hints of cinnamon. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor started to emphasize notes of minerals, malt, cream, chocolate, caramel, orange zest, marshmallow, fennel, pine, butter, and baked bread that were backed by hints of eucalyptus, black pepper, clove, vanilla, and sweet potato. The final infusion brought back strong, muddled woody, spicy, and herbal flavors that were balanced by cream, malt, and chocolate notes.

This was a very nice Feng Qing black tea that was missing the pronounced earthiness and distinctive vegetal characteristics of many other such teas. On the one hand, I missed these characteristics, yet on the other hand, I greatly enjoyed the smooth, silky, and long-lived tea liquor these dragon pearls yielded. One issue I had with them, however, was that I could not get the pearls to completely crumble on their own. Prior to the final infusion, I noticed that there was what appeared to be white thread running through the middle of each pearl, so I picked them up to investigate, and sure enough, there was thread holding them together. I then pulled it out and went back to work, but I was surprised by this because I had literally never had dragon pearls with thread still in them. And I should also note that I was at least somewhat familiar with Feng Qing dragon pearls and had some experience with them prior to trying this tea. Oh well, the thread surprise did not take away from the tea. It was very nice overall, but I think this tea would probably work best for grandpa brewing on the go or as an introduction to Feng Qing black teas since it was missing some of the more challenging aspects that a number of other such teas bring to the table.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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77

This was another of my sipdowns from last week. I only had one of these dragon balls, so I had to be careful with it and try to get the most out of it in order to do a thorough review. Since I had already tried the spring 2017 Big Snow Mountain black tea a month or so ago, I was a little curious as to how this dragon ball would differ from the loose leaf offering. I can safely say that this tea did strike me as being slightly different, though I preferred the loose leaf offering over this formed version.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped the entire dragon ball (Yunnan Sourcing claimed that each of these were around 8 grams, but my scale put my dragon ball at right around 9 grams) in 160 ml of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 dragon ball emitted aromas of malt, honey, sweet potato, brown sugar, and tobacco. After the rinse, I detected aromas of orange zest, pine, banana, and sugarcane. The first infusion introduced aromas of roasted almond, cinnamon, cream, molasses, and eucalyptus. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, cream, sweet potato, orange zest, tobacco, honey, and eucalyptus that were chased by hints of pine, sugarcane, roasted almond, and banana. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cedar, red grape, cocoa, baked bread, and earth. Notes of cocoa, baked bread, cedar, red grape, lemon zest, earth, and minerals came out in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging impressions of cinnamon, brown sugar, and molasses and somewhat stronger notes of pine and sugarcane. I also noted some hints of black pepper that were generally most noticeable right around each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized impressions of minerals, cream, malt, earth, pine, and lemon zest that were chased by hints of baked bread, black pepper, roasted almond, eucalyptus, banana, and sweet potato.

This was a rather satisfying Yunnan black tea dragon ball. Much like the loose leaf version of this tea offered by Yunnan Sourcing, this one did not impress me much at first but steadily grew on me. I did note, however, that this formed version of the spring 2017 Big Snow Mountain black tea was a little more powerful on the nose than its loose leaf counterpart. I also found it to be smoother and subtler in the mouth while also taking a little longer to open up and reveal its charms. If I had to pick between the two, I would definitely pick the loose leaf offering, primarily because I am a huge fan of strong, flavorful black teas, and I admired the strength and quirkiness of that offering’s liquor. I am also just not the hugest fan of dragon balls. This dragon ball was not much of a step down from the loose leaf offering, though, and its consistently stronger bouquet and smooth, subtle tea liquor were very appealing. Overall, this was a pretty solid offering. Even though I would not likely be in any rush to revisit it, it did not disappoint me in any way.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Grapes, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pine, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco

Preparation
9 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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54

My new schedule is killing me. I made the decision to take a master gardening course with my parents, and it really sucks. Actually, I enjoy the course, but it meets every Monday night, and well, Monday used to be my long, slow day at work. Now, I have to get everything done by 5:00 p.m. so I can hop in the shower, get dressed, and make it to class by 6:00 p.m. I don’t make it back home until sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. I figured, however, that I would try to get a couple of reviews posted before I left. This was one of my sipdowns from last week. Though I tend to love teas produced from the Si Ji Chun cultivar, this one was a letdown. It was not terrible or even really bad in any way, just more or less mediocre and kind of forgettable.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 tea leaves produced aromas of raisin, plum, cedar, straw, honey, and plantain. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of malt, cream, and cherry that were accompanied by hints of vanilla. The first infusion brought out stronger vanilla scents as well as an oat-like aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of plantain, honey, raisin, cream, malt, vanilla, and straw that were framed by undertones of wood, baked bread, flowers, and cherry. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of baked bread, toasted rice, rose, and pear as well as subtle scents of roasted barley, orchid, and violet. Cedar, plum, and oat notes came out in the mouth alongside stronger and more upfront impressions of baked bread, wood, and cherry. Clear impressions of rose and violet were also present along with some very subtle hints of orchid. Furthermore, I detected impressions of minerals, caramel, pear, toasted rice, butter, and rose along with some subtle hints of roasted barley and cinnamon. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering impressions of minerals, plantain, cedar, raisin, plum, malt, and cream that were balanced by hints of cherry, vanilla, butter, oats, and baked bread. At the very tail end of my review session, I also caught some suddenly amplified pear and cinnamon notes.

This was a pretty standard roasted Taiwanese Four Seasons oolong in just about every way. I will note, however, that it did possess respectable longevity, a smooth body, and a very nice, creamy mouthfeel. Unfortunately, those were the only qualities of this tea that stood out to me. Taken on its own, this tea wasn’t bad, but it also just wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. If you are at all familiar with roasted Si Ji Chun oolongs, I doubt this one will surprise you. In the end, I suppose I would not caution others to avoid it entirely, but if one were to choose to skip it, they would not be missing all that much.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Orchid, Pear, Plums, Raisins, Roasted Barley, Rose, Straw, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Violet, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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94

I think this was the last of my sipdowns from the previous week. I know I finished like four or five teas I had been working on for some time over the course of the week, and I seem to recall finishing this one last. As much as I enjoyed the spring 2017 Premium AA Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong from Yunnan Sourcing, I expected this tea to be at least as good if not a bit better. Well, as it turned out, this tea did not let me down. I found it to be an excellent Wuyi black tea.

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 followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of honey, pine, peach, rose, baked bread, cinnamon, cedar, and raisin. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, malt, and cream. The first infusion introduced a strong aroma of orange zest as well as subtler scents of violet, grass, and chocolate. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of honey, peach, malt, cedar, baked bread, roasted almond, and cream that were balanced by hints of orange zest, pine, chocolate, pear, violet, red apple, and grass. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of apple, pear, plum, lemon zest, butter, earth, and menthol plus stronger scents of grass and violet and some subtle juniper touches. Impressions of cinnamon, raisin, roasted peanut, and rose emerged in the mouth along with stronger pine, orange zest, violet, red apple, pear, chocolate, and grass notes. New notes of minerals, lemon zest, juniper, butter, earth, apricot, menthol, and oats also appeared along with subtle impressions of brown sugar. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, butter, cream, malt, roasted peanut, orange zest, and lemon zest that were backed by hints of baked bread, brown sugar, earth, honey, menthol, and pine.

This was tremendously deep and complex for a Wuyi black tea. I also especially appreciated the harmonious interaction of the aroma and flavor components, the sharp, crisp mouthfeel of the tea liquor, and the tea’s longevity. In my opinion, there was not much of anything to dislike here. If you have had quality Wuyi black teas in the past, this one probably won’t surprise you in any way, but more importantly, it will not disappoint you in the least. All in all, this was just a really, really good Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Oats, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Red Apple, Rose, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 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.

Location

KY

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