62 Tasting Notes
Thanks to gmathis for this sample and the lovely handmade card that came with it! Very fancy.
Been sitting on this for a couple weeks because I haven’t had the time to properly enjoy it, but it got cracked open today. The smell of the dry tea is delightful—strong and dark like European coffee with hints of bittersweet chocolate and Chinese black tea. Didn’t expect that to carry over to the actual taste, but it did! Sipping on this while I cleaned out all of my external aquarium filters made the whole process much more pleasant. Probably the best execution of a mocha tea that I’ve had so far.
Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Mocha, Smooth
Sipping a cup of this right now. Tried it on Friday and it didn’t taste like much, but then a conversation with a friend lead me to try it with 4-5 grams per 8 ounces of water instead of my usual 2-2.5 grams that I use for blacks and whites. Well, I feel like a fool now because there’s so much more flavor in my teacup.
The liquor smells like warmed clover honey, and it looks about the same. Toasted grains, hot almonds skins, and a dry vanilla are all present in the body. A bit juicy from an unidentified fruit. The aftertaste is sweet and buttery, like a less sticky version of the creamed butter/brown sugar mixture when you’re making cookies from scratch. It mellows down to a distinct floral note after a few moments; I want to say orchid. Lovely.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Grain, Honey, Toasted Rice, Vanilla
For a moment there, I was running low on good loose leaf. Only had a few tins with more than 20 grams of the good stuff in them. Probably won’t see my pre-existing orders from Hatvala and YS for a couple more months, at this rate. Thanks to Whatcha and their weirdly fast shipping to US, I’ve got 100 grams of this and a few other quality teas to replenish my stash. You’re my hero in these trying times, Alistair.
This is a lovely tea for the price point. Softly sweet with hints of caramel and raw sugar, cherry notes in the body, and a pronounced cinnamon aftertaste. Red Buffalo is still my favorite red oolong with it’s heavier flavor and chocolate base, but the light character and simplicity of this makes it a better casual cup. Don’t have to worry about brewing it multiple times so you aren’t wasting the leaves, just throw them right into the compost bin after the first Western-style steep.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon
Two months of waffling around on this while trying to use up all 100 grams and now I’m head over heels for it. Thought I’d get bored after a few cups, but no, I have to stop myself from grabbing this when making tea for work because I’ve developed something of an addiction. It tastes like orchids and chocolate and honey and I can’t stay away. Never liked a tea enough to reorder 8.8 ounces of it, but here we are.
Flavors: Cherry Wood, Cocoa, Honey, Orchid
Jasmine tea has always been my mother’s favorite, so I got a bag of this with the intention of splitting it with her. She indiscriminately drinks Twinings jasmine green, Stash jasmine green, and whatever nice jasmine dragon pearls she has on hand with the water at a full rolling boil and the steeping time usually around 30 minutes to an hour. Then it gets heated back to temperature in the microwave. It’s almost physically painful to watch her make good tea that way, but that’s the way she likes it, so I try not to mind.
Well, she ended up liking this about as much as she likes her Stash 1 pound bags of hastily made and very crumbly jasmine green, so I’ve taken this back for myself. It’s a beautiful tea all-around, with dried jasmine blossoms nestled in big velvety tips, a delicately pungent aroma—the intensity rivals a jasmine perfume—and a sweet, pale liquor that balances the fragile silver needle flavor with the heavy floral taste. One of those teas that makes you stop and enjoy the moment whenever you take a sip.
I’ve tried it both hot and cold, but cold brewing has been my favorite so far. Hot jasmine teas tend to coax out that bubblegum note a bit more than cold ones. You know what I mean? It’s a lovely flavor, but too much of it becomes soapy and artificial-tasting.
I’ve had a big, chilled glass thermos of this nearly every day for the past week and I’m still not tired of it. Absolutely lovely if you want a fine jasmine tea but don’t want to mess with the current shipping delays on packages coming from abroad. Probably won’t see my Yunnan Sourcing Spring 2020 teas until late July or August, but that’s alright, because Tea Trekker has been scratching my itch in the mean time.
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Sweet
Came across this company in my search for more Nepal blacks that aren’t pretending to be Darjeelings.
Definitely got this one for the name. The leaves are nicely rolled into oblong shapes, a dark wiry raisin hue with golden patches. They smell earthy, like an aged tea, with a touch of that classic toasted oolong scent.
Brewed, they smell perturbing. I think “hot wet yeti” is an apt descriptor. If you let it cool down a bit, it starts to smell like a heavily oxidized oolong. First steep has that same forest floor earthiness of raw pu’erh, which is odd, since this is a recent harvest without any signs of aging. Not unpleasant, though! Hints of leaf litter and mild mushrooms.
On the second, longer steep, it tasted more like a full-bodied oolong. A bit tannic, a bit toasty. Some dry stone fruit notes. Probably meant to be steeped longer than what I originally did so those two different flavor palettes run together into a more polished one. Overall, it’s an interesting tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Forest Floor, Mushrooms, Toasty, Wet Earth
Ooh! Thanks for this one, gmathis. Had just enough to make a little pot of it before bed.
After a day of approximately 5 other pots of pure oolongs and blacks, this was a much-appreciated reprieve. It’s a calm, unfussy black base with a heavy helping of rich strawberry and cream flavors. Doesn’t even taste artificial, and I appreciate that they didn’t try to make it sweet. This was an excellent one to sip on while starting a new book. Think I’ll be getting an ounce or two of it for when I want a flavored black—my usual Lady Londonberry is good, but sometimes the lemon mixed in with that strawberry can be a bit much!
Flavors: Cream, Strawberry
Back to the good stuff. This is very much a dessert tea: the sweetest unadulterated one I’ve ever had, gui fei oolongs included. Smells a bit like hojicha after it’s brewed, which is off-putting if you’re like me and not typically a fan of savory teas in that vein, but the taste is almost a polar opposite. Saccharine, chocolatey, spiced goodness. It reminds me of a tea version of those Abuelita rounds of chocolate that you break apart and melt into milk on the stove. Aromatic baking spices mixed with creamy cocoa and the flavorful sweetness of raw sugar. Mmm, this is an excellent cup that you can’t go wrong with.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Honey, Spices, Sweet
Another tea that I wish I liked more than I do. The first time I made it, I did what I normally do with the light, delicate blacks I’m so fond of: 2.5 grams for a mug, steeped in water just below boiling for 2-3 minutes, dunking the infuser basket up and down a few times to make sure it fluffs up and infuses properly.
That made a cup with…. vague tea flavor. Mainly hot water flavor, though. Which was confusing since it was a darker hue than most fully brewed Chinese blacks.
Second round was this morning, at 7 grams for a two cup teapot, brewed for 7 minutes and then allowed to sit inside there since the first cup tasted only slightly more flavorful. I think I’ve been wrong about what the “malty” flavor note really is, because the only flavor present was intense malt. And somehow, it still managed to seem weak. The tannins started to creep in here.
That last oversteeped cup didn’t get used until an hour later, and when I poured it into the dredges of the earlier cup, it almost made me gag. Completely sour and astringent. You know the taste of pure, unbridled tannins that you get from a cheap bag of extra strong English-style black dust? That, that exactly. I actually found myself adding milk and sugar to this one in a desperate attempt to be able to drink it. If there’s one thing this tea has going for it, it’s that it takes milk and sugar really well while still tasting like a strong tea.
So that’s where the phrase “strong enough to trot a mouse on” comes from. Gotta stay away from Assams in the future, I suppose. Nilgiri is more of my style as far as Indian blacks go.
Time to dig into the ggmathis teabox for something good to chase this down with.
Flavors: Astringent, Malt, Tannic