779 Tasting Notes

94

This was another recent sipdown of mine. Recently, I have been prioritizing finishing some of the 2017 and 2018 Dan Cong oolongs I have purchased over the last year or so, but at the same time, I have also been trying to make sure that I am primarily trying teas produced from cultivars with which I have little or no familiarity. I plan on coming back around to the teas produced from more familiar cultivars once I get the novel stuff out of the way. Anyway, this was a new one for me. Prior to trying this tea, I had never tried anything produced from the Zhu Ye cultivar. Several sources indicated that it was essentially a subcultivar of Zhi Lan Xiang, a personal favorite of mine. After trying this tea, I could see that being true. There were quite a few similarities between this Zhu Ye and the last Zhi Lan Xiang I tried. I ended up liking this tea more, though, as it offered tremendous depth and complexity as well as very respectable longevity for a Dan Cong.

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 chased by 16 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, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes..

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of orchid, orange blossom, tangerine, pineapple, and vanilla. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of almond, butter, cream, grass, and spinach. The first infusion introduced aromas of lychee, pastry, and cannabis. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of orchid, orange blossom, almond, vanilla, cream, tangerine, pineapple, and grass that were chased by pastry and cannabis hints. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cherry, apple, baked bread, jasmine, violet, plum, honey, and coconut. Lychee, butter, and spinach notes emerged along with stronger and more immediate pastry notes. New impressions of baked bread, cherry, plum, jasmine, honey, violet, coconut, apple, minerals, and Asian pear also made themselves known. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized lingering impressions of minerals, pineapple, Asian pear, apple, cream, and vanilla that were backed by fleeting hints of baked bread, orange blossom, plum, grass, tangerine, and spinach.

This tea produced a very aromatic, pleasant, and easy-drinking tea liquor that was a blast to pick apart. It had a ton of natural sweetness, and though I normally do not go for teas that strike me as being very sweet, this one did it for me. I could see people who are into extremely floral and/or fruity teas getting a kick out of this one. If floral, sweet, and fruity are your things, give this one a shot.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Butter, Cannabis, Cherry, Citrus, Coconut, Cream, Grass, Honey, Jasmine, Lychee, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Pastries, Pineapple, Plums, Spinach, Sweet, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

Okay, time to get busy. I have been so lazy for the last three days. For whatever reason, I have just not been able to motivate myself to do much of anything outside of work. At least I haven’t been drinking a ton of different teas. If that were the case, my backlog would once again be out of control. Getting back on track here, I finished what I had of this tea last week. I found it to be an excellent Dan Cong oolong with a lot to offer.

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 chased by 17 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, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, butter, cream, cherry, and wood. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of orchid, roasted almond, honey, and ginger accompanying a vague vegetal scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of spinach, grass, and orange zest. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, cream, butter, wood, and ginger that were chased by impressions of spinach, grass, and coriander as well as hints of honey. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of coriander, baked bread, vanilla, geranium, moss, green apple, and pear. Roasted almond, cherry, orchid, and orange zest notes came out in the mouth along with new impressions of minerals, cattail shoots, macadamia nut, vanilla, baked bread, geranium, green apple, moss, and Asian pear. There were also some hints of earthiness here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, cream, butter, roasted almond, and ginger that were backed by hints of baked bread, orchid, grass, and cattail shoots.

Very different from the other Shui Xian oolongs I have tried, this was an endlessly intriguing, surprisingly long-lived, and incredibly textured tea that also displayed tremendous complexity, depth, and balance. In my experience, many Dan Cong oolongs tend to beat the drinker over the head with floral and fruity aromas and flavors, but this tea was smoother, subtler, and more restrained, often emphasizing its creamy, buttery, bready, spicy, woody, and vegetal characteristics. In terms of style, this tea seemed to exist at the halfway point between a lighter roasted Zhangping Shui Xian and a Wuyi Shui Xian as it displayed some of the best qualities of both. For fans of Shui Xian and Dan Cong oolongs alike, this tea should be a must-try.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cream, Earth, Geranium, Ginger, Grass, Green Apple, Honey, Mineral, Moss, Nutty, Orange Zest, Orchid, Pear, Spinach, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

Okay, I know I said that I would post a review or three back in my first review of the day, but there’s nothing wrong with going over the max by one, is there? I finished a 25 gram pouch of this tea late last week, and I figured that I may as well take the time to review it while I was still sitting at my computer. You do not see a ton of Zhejiang black teas on the Western market, probably because a great deal of Zhejiang tea production and tea culture seems so focused on green teas. Still, the Zhejiang black teas one does occasionally stumble across are often very enjoyable. This tea was certainly no exception as it was very much worth a try.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water. This infusion was chased 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 roasted almond, cinnamon, honey, pine, and chocolate. After the rinse, I detected an aroma of roasted peanut and a subtle baked bread scent. The first infusion brought out a stronger baked bread aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of roasted almond, cream, honey, chocolate, cinnamon, and pine that were chased by hints of roasted peanut, pear, rose, and nectarine. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas of rose, orange zest, cream, pear, and brown sugar. Baked bread notes came out in the mouth alongside stronger impressions of roasted peanut, pear, and rose. New notes of minerals, sweet potato, brown sugar, and orange zest were also present as was an interesting wintergreen note that lingered in the mouth after each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor offered mineral, roasted almond, baked bread, pine, and orange zest notes that were underscored by hints of roasted peanut, pear, sweet potato, and brown sugar. Naturally, there were still notes of wintergreen in the mouth after each swallow, though they were much subtler at the end of the session.

This was a very pleasant, likable black tea. I could see it serving as a great introduction to Zhejiang black teas or as a no fuss daily drinker. Sadly, this tea is now out of stock, and it appears that What-Cha will not be offering it again in the near future if at all. For those who are intrigued by the idea of trying a Zhejiang black tea, I will state that several other vendors do offer at least one or two on a fairly regular basis; Harney & Sons immediately springs to mind.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Herbaceous, Honey, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Rose, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

“…there’s nothing wrong with going over the max by one, is there?”

Ban this guy, he’s out of control.

Daylon R Thomas

I also need to write about that one. I mostly got brisk citrus and malt as I drank it. I can see the rose, since it’s got a little bit of that after burn from rose water. I’ll have to get to writing my notes eventually.

Kawaii433

“Zhejiang black tea, I will state that several other vendors do offer at least one or two on a fairly regular basis; Harney & Sons immediately springs to mind.” Thank you!

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93

This was one of two sample pouch sipdowns from earlier in the week. Even though Ya Shi Xiang can often be incredibly hit or miss for me, I have a huge soft spot for the “King of Duck Shit” offerings Yunnan Sourcing seems to offer year after year. This one was yet another big winner for me. I found it to be an excellent offering overall.

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 cream, vanilla, honey, and orange blossom that were accompanied by vague fruity and nutty scents. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, butter, and grass. The first infusion brought out aromas of rose, apple, tangerine, violet, and baked bread. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of cream, butter, baked bread, roasted almond, grass, and orange blossom that were chased by apple, longan, cherry, and coriander hints. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas of marshmallow, steamed milk, rye, caraway, coconut, green bell pepper, coriander, banana leaf, strawberry, candied orange, and cherry. Tangerine, honey, and violet notes came out in the mouth as did fleeting hints of rose. I also picked up some stronger and more immediate notes of coriander, apple, and cherry. Impressions of cattail shoots, minerals, earth, coconut, banana leaf, candied orange, steamed milk, strawberry, green bell pepper, marshmallow, caraway, and rye also appeared. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering impressions of minerals, grass, earth, cattail shoots, green bell pepper, cream, candied orange, roasted almond, and vanilla that were chased by hints of apple, coconut, cherry, rye, and caraway.

Honestly, this tea was just so impressive. Yunnan Sourcing rarely if ever misses on these “King of Duck Shit” offerings, but this one really hit me hard. I loved the spring 2016 version of this tea, but this one was slightly better. I was left in awe of how well its eclectic aroma and flavor components worked together. I should also note that in terms of body and texture, there was absolutely nothing to complain about with this tea. The tea liquor had just enough heft and firmness to it, and its texture was crisp and never slick or soapy. Had the tea liquor displayed just a tad more longevity, this tea’s score would be much closer to 100. All nitpicking aside, this tea was a standout. Definitely consider trying it if you have yet to do so.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Butter, Candy, Cherry, Citrus, Coriander, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Marshmallow, Milk, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Rose, Rye, Strawberry, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Kawaii433

After reading this, I think I’m going to try the 2018 version again since 2017 is unavailable. I tried the 2018 version 4 months ago, and maybe my palate has changed some.

Arby

I buy it just for the name. When people ask me what tea I’m drinking I can reply “an oolong called King of Duck Shit Aroma”. I think I’ve only tried the 2015 and 2016 offerings, but I’ll be buying 2018 or 2019 pickings on my next YS order.

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85

I think this was my only other sipdown of anything larger than a 10 gram sample pouch this week. I recall finishing what I had of this tea right at the start of the week and before my schedule got crazy. I’m very nitpicky about Mi Lan Xiang, and while I enjoyed this one, it was hit or miss for me. I did two gongfu sessions with it. One was very good and very enjoyable. The other was enjoyable but kind of boring. The same goes for my two attempts at brewing it Western style. Overall, this tea was surprisingly temperamental, but when it was good, it was just slightly shy of greatness.

[Note that the preparation detailed below refers to the better of the two gongfu sessions.]

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: 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 orchid, orange blossom, honey, peach, cream, pomegranate, and vanilla. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, pear, and candied orange as well as a grassy hint and even stronger honey and flower aromas. The first infusion did not bring out any new aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of orchid, orange blossom, candied orange, pear, honey, peach, and pomegranate that quickly faded to reveal impressions of roasted almond, grass, cream, and vanilla. Notes of pear, honey, peach, orange blossom, and orchid lingered in the mouth after each swallow. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas of violet, cherry, apple, baked bread, butter, and sugarcane. New notes of baked bread, butter, minerals, cherry, sugarcane, violet, apricot, nectarine, apple, spinach, and watercress appeared in the mouth. As the tea faded, the liquor offered subtle notes of minerals, baked bread, apple, pear, grass, and roasted almond that were accompanied by almost ghostly wisps of honey, candied orange, sugarcane, orchid, cream, and vanilla.

Though my experience with it suggested that this was kind of an inconsistent, finnicky tea, it was never less than solid, and as the above description of the more successful of my two gongfu sessions indicated, it was very, very good when it was firing on all cylinders. Again, even at its worst, this tea was never really less than a solid offering. Sadly, I did not take any notes during my two Western sessions, but I do recall that they mirrored the two gongfu sessions. At its best, I would rate this tea somewhere between 87 and 90, but I have decided to knock a couple points off my overall numerical rating due to the tea’s inconsistency.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Candy, Cherry, Cream, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Kawaii433

Still waiting for my Dec. 2nd package with the 2018 version of this is in it. Looking forward to it. Great reviews you posted today.

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82

Since I’m currently house sitting and have some free time, I figure I may as well dash off another review or three. As of yesterday, this was my most recent sipdown. I have a few other teas I’m working on and will probably finish within the next couple of days, so I wanted to review this one while it was still fresh in my mind. As Feng Qing black teas go, this one was very good and surprisingly subtle. I, however, would be more likely to reach for some of their other offerings with greater frequency.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 buds emitted aromas of malt, marshmallow, pine, and cocoa. After the rinse, I detected aromas of sweet potato, sugarcane, and cream accompanying an even stronger cocoa scent. The first infusion brought out aromas of cooked green beans, caramel, cinnamon, and fennel. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, marshmallow, cream, butter, cocoa, and sweet potato that were chased by subtler impressions of pine, fennel, sugarcane, baked bread, and roasted almond as well as a slight earthiness. Very subtle, cooling hints of eucalyptus and horehound were also present in the aftertaste and nowhere else. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas of baked bread, earth, honey, roasted almond, eucalyptus, and green bell pepper. Stronger and more immediate baked bread, roasted almond, and pine notes appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of cooked green beans, caramel, celery, honey, minerals, and green bell pepper. I also detected hints of black pepper, cinnamon, orange zest, celery, and candied ginger. There was something of a stronger earthiness too. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, earth, malt, cream, pine, and marshmallow that were chased by fleeting hints of roasted almond, butter, celery, cocoa, baked bread, and orange zest.

This was a very complex and interesting black tea. I feel that I probably could have gotten more out of it with a little more time and patience, but unfortunately, I have had a lot on my plate this week, rendering my ability to do lengthy, in-depth gongfu sessions very limited. For a Feng Qing black tea, this was very smooth and subtle, though it retained many of the little quirks I associate with their work. If I were just beginning to get a feel for such teas or entirely new to them, I would not want to rush into this one due to its subtlety, quirkiness, and ridiculous depth and complexity, but those who are familiar with Feng Qing black teas and appreciate them would likely find a lot to like about this tea.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Candy, Caramel, Celery, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Earth, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Ginger, Green Beans, Green Bell Peppers, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pine, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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84

Now that I have cleared out the December 2018 backlog, I can move on to my first official sipdown of 2019. I finished a 25 gram pouch of this tea on either the second or third day of the month. I wanted to start 2019 out with something light and floral, so this ended up being the tea I selected to fill that role. Though it most certainly served its purpose, I have to say that I have had somewhat better Shan Lin Xi oolongs in the recent past. In general, Shan Lin Xi teas are incredibly hit or miss for me; I either freak out over them and love them, or I end up respecting and appreciating them to a certain extent before moving on to teas from terroir that I find more consistently appealing. The latter was kind of the case with this tea. It was very good for an unroasted Shan Lin Xi oolong, but like a lot of the Shan Lin Xi oolongs I have tried in the past, it was more savory and more vegetal than I would have preferred.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled 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 cream, butter, custard, and gardenia. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of cinnamon and vanilla as well a meaty umami presence and vague vegetal hints. The first infusion introduced an even stronger umami scent and new aromas of grass, violet, and zucchini. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented brothy, meaty umami notes as well as impressions of zucchini, grass, cream, custard, and butter. I also picked up some subtle hints of gardenia before notes of vanilla, spinach, green apple, and daylily shoots took over on the swallow. Subsequent infusions introduced subtle aromas of pear and stronger scents of spinach, green apple, daylily, and baked bread. Stronger and more immediate daylily shoot, green apple, and spinach notes emerged in the mouth along with subtle impressions of cinnamon and violet. New notes of sweet corn, hyacinth, pear, seaweed, daylily, minerals, baked bread, and orange zest also appeared. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering impressions of minerals, umami, zucchini, grass, spinach, daylily shoots, and pear that were chased by hints of green apple, cream, and custard.

This was a very good Shan Lin Xi oolong, but it leaned a little too heavily on its vegetal and savory characteristics for my liking. I prefer Shan Lin Xi oolongs that are creamier, fruitier, and more floral, and while this tea displayed plenty of cream, fruit, and flower aromas and flavors, it often seemed to place more emphasis on its other characteristics over the course of my review session. Still, this was a very good tea. I am willing to bet that fans of teas that are more savory and more vegetal would get quite a bit of enjoyment out of it.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet, Zucchini

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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94

This was my final sipdown of December and thus 2018. This was also the last of the What-Cha Zhengyan oolongs I got around to trying. I tend to be a pretty big fan of Wuyi Fo Shou, and this one did not disappoint. Overall, I did not quite enjoy this tea as much as the Zhengyan Qilan and Shui Xian, but it was still an excellent offering.

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 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 produced aromas of black cherry, blueberry, cinnamon, cedar, and blackberry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, orange zest, cannabis, smoke, and rose. The first infusion introduced aromas of rock sugar, vanilla, and some sort of melon. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted almond, roasted peanut, cream, black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, rock sugar, and orange zest that were backed by hints of smoke, melon, and vanilla. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cream, earth, grass, and mushroom. Notes of rose, cinnamon, and cedar came out in the mouth along with hints of cannabis and new impressions of minerals, earth, grass, baked bread, caramel, malt, and mushroom. Clearly defined watermelon notes also emerged. As the tea faded, the liquor settled, emphasizing lingering notes of minerals, rock sugar, watermelon, earth, malt, cream, and baked bread that were underscored by hints of grass, roasted almond, roasted peanut, caramel, and orange zest.

Compared to What-Cha’s other Zhengyan oolongs, this one was not quite as deep and was also much more front-loaded. A lot of its most appealing qualities came out at the start of the session, and it did not reveal much more or change significantly as the session progressed. Still, this was a very satisfying Wuyi oolong, one that would probably be able to satisfy even some of the most discriminating Wuyi oolong enthusiasts. It can be hard to find good Zhengyan Fo Shou on the Western market, so if you are looking for one, definitely consider snapping up some of this tea if What-Cha ever restocks it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cannabis, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grass, Malt, Melon, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peanut, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Sugar, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

I somehow ended up with 100 grams of this tea in 2017, and quite frankly, I have no idea how that happened. I cannot find any evidence that I purchased more than 50 grams, so I am guessing there was some sort of mistake made when my order was processed. I almost never bother buying a ton of yabao at once because I tend to take my time with it. It’s not something I can drink regularly. Since I ended up with two 50 gram pouches of this yabao, I kept one and gave the other to one of my best friends as a Christmas gift. He’ll be fascinated by it and will get a lot of mileage out of it. At least it won’t go to waste. I actually started working my way through my pouch back around the end of November but only got around to finishing it last night. I found this to be a fascinating and highly enjoyable yabao, but like every other yabao I have tried, it would not be something I would choose to consume frequently.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose buds in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 10 seconds. As a side note, I am never entirely certain what water temperature I should use for yabao. Some people treat it as a white tea and opt for temperatures of 190 F or lower, yet others treat it more like raw pu-erh and brew it at a higher temperature. I am used to brewing yabao at a higher temperature, but I decided to try to brew this one at a lower temperature. Anyway, my initial infusion was chased by 19 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, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and 40 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry buds emitted aromas of smoke, red grape, plum, charcoal, and citrus. After the rinse, I detected vegetal scents reminiscent of asparagus, okra, bok choy, artichoke, and grass as well as a subtle scent of sea salt. The first infusion introduced subtle scents of celery, spinach, and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of smoke, charcoal, malt, spinach, bok choy, celery, artichoke, and sea salt that were chased by hints of citrus. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of pine, cedar, seaweed, and bamboo as well as clearly defined lime and bitter orange scents. Okra, asparagus, artichoke, red grape, and sour plum notes belatedly came out in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, butter, cream, anise, pine, bamboo, sour cherry, bitter orange, lime, seaweed, and nectarine. I also caught some subtle impressions of vanilla on each swallow. As the tea started to fade, the liquor settled, emphasizing mineral, lime, spinach, okra, sea salt, butter, seaweed, and grass notes that were chased by hints of red grape, plum, malt, smoke, and vanilla.

I generally find yabao to be challenging, but this one was more challenging than most. Yabao often tends to have something of a subtle sweetness, but this one emphasized vegetal, salty, malty, smoky, and woody notes alongside tart citrus and sour stone fruit impressions and a heavy, sharp minerality. It was a tough tea for me, but oddly enough, I greatly enjoyed it. Again, I would not want to have this tea on a regular basis, but for special occasions or the times when a lengthy gongfu session is necessary, this would be a suitable tea. Sadly, I do not think the version of this tea that Yunnan Sourcing offered in the spring of 2018 was from the same trees as the listing mentioned that particular production being different from this one. Hopefully, they’ll offer something like this again in the not too distant future.

Flavors: Anise, Artichoke, Asparagus, Bamboo, Bok Choy, Butter, Cedar, Celery, Char, Cherry, Cream, Grapes, Grass, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Pine, Plums, Salt, Seaweed, Smoke, Sour, Spinach, Stonefruits, Vanilla, Vegetal

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

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94

This was the last of the spring 2017 Dan Cong oolongs I finished in December, and honestly, it was my favorite of the bunch. Prior to trying this tea, I had never tried a Song Zhong Dan Cong. Even though this offering was not even listed as Yunnan Sourcing’s most premium 2017 Song Zhong, I still loved it. It had a ton of character and was a tremendously enjoyable tea to drink.

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 7 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 emitted aromas of cream, peach, honey, orchid, pomegranate, and vanilla. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond, grass, and spinach. The first infusion brought out subtle baked bread and sweet potato aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, honey, orchid, roasted almond, and vanilla that quickly gave way to impressions of baked bread, grass, and sweet potato. Hints of spinach and pomegranate were just barely perceptible in the aftertaste. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cinnamon, wood, and steamed milk as well as subtle scents of brown sugar. Peach notes belatedly appeared in the mouth along with impressions of brown sugar, minerals, cattail shoots, cinnamon, steamed milk, orange zest, honeydew, plum, and pear. I also noted interesting hints of watermelon rind, cucumber, and wood. As the tea faded, the liquor settled, offering notes of minerals, cream, orange zest, pear, grass, and sweet potato that were underscored by subtle hints of orchid, brown sugar, cucumber, honeydew, steamed milk, watermelon rind, and roasted almond.

An absolutely fascinating and delightful Dan Cong oolong, I can only wonder how well Yunnan Sourcing’s pricier and fancier Song Zhong holds up to it. This tea produced a liquor that displayed great depth and complexity, wonderful body and texture, and respectable longevity. There were a few points where I thought the layering of flavors could have been a little smoother, but otherwise, I had no real complaints with this tea. Check it out if you are looking for an enjoyable introductory/regular Song Zhong at a decent price.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Cream, Cucumber, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Honeydew, Melon, Milk, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Plums, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood

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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