20 Tasting Notes

quick rinse, smells nice and fruity

12s/17s: Creamy texture, brief nice vegetal wonderfully refreshing bitterness. Some floral aspect, I think. Hint of pineapple. Heavy warm sweetness lingering in my mouth and down my throat. Ears pop and crackle. Sleepy now.

23s: Still lovely creamy same initial good bitterness, but going maybe a bit beany (in a nice warm savory yums way) towards the end of the sip. The sweetness is a bit fruity after, lingering a nice long time deep in the throat.

30s/35s: That sort of savory hearty beany broth flavor sensation hits earlier now. Very tasty. I’m feeling a little floaty. (But see also paint fumes, exhaustion, and a bit of a cold. So who knows.)

40s/45s: Still pretty beany, but lighter, so it’s become very chuggable and refreshing.

51s/1min/1m10s/1m23s/1m30s: Sweeter and a bit floral again (melding with still some bean brothiness). No more bitterness anymore. Clearly winding down, but in a really enjoyable way.

1m40s: Definitely more wound down now.

Flavors: Beany, Floral, Pineapple

Boiling 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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quick rinse, smells uniquely delicious – some gentle wood smoke but mostly luscious charred toasty nuts and burnt sugar and something other unidentifiable wonderful

7s: Bitter. I totally see what they’re saying about grapefruit (yeah, I’ve been primed, but yummmm so whatevs). And some juicy trees and toasty nuts. Strong sweet cool after, no numb or tingle, just like sweet cool ice water on the palate. Delicious. My ears just popped.

12s/18s: The bitter is a little more subdued, a little woodsier, with an immediate tingle on the tongue and hard palate. The aftertaste is cool grapefruit. Sweet saliva over my teeth. Feeling a lot more awake, but not in a jittery way. A heaviness in my neck but my skin feels alive. Pressure between my eyes. Scalp is tingling.

24s: Long delay before this one while I went through piles of paperwork (a task I’ve been dreading). My nose is tingling. The tip of my tongue feels spicy. My torso feels flushed, warmth spreading down my neck and over my chest. Happy citrus bitters in the aftertaste. After I sit and bask a while, my head is pulsing and the back of my neck is sweating, heat spreading down my back.

29s: A bit less delicious at first, the tart overtaking the bitter more than I’d like. But there are shivers racing through the warmth down my back and I don’t care, it’s worth it, it’s worth it.

35s/40s: Flavor more integrated, aftertaste more grapefruity again. That sort of default rich mellow woodsy tea flavor is starting to rise, but still some interesting citrusy bitterness elevating it. I’m started to feel the energy a bit more manic. Sweating further down my back. Wow.

45s: Bitter sorta took over a bit, briefly.

50s/50s: Slightly mellower bitter on the sip, slowly fading out to citrus aftertaste. Not so much body feels anymore.

64s/70s: I’ve been drinking this all day, taking big breaks to do chores. It’s still nice. My nose feels clean and tingly. Only stopping because it’s getting towards bedtime.

(If this were less expensive, I’d definitely buy a cake of it. As is… I’ll probably buy another sample someday and feel sad and yet ecstatic all at the same time while I wibble on whether to splurge.)

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Grapefruit, Nuts

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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Lots of lovely cedar wood for the first few steeps, with a some pleasantly tart stonefruit adding interest around the back edges of my tongue. Really nice cool cedar aftertaste, though it didn’t last as long as I’d like.

Then it went through a bit of a brief hay/straw/fruitier phase with a softer almost floral aftertaste, before getting mellower and richer and smoother and losing the aftertastes as it wound down.

I’m really sleepy now, but I can’t tell if it’s the tea or just that I woke up too early this morning and have been tired all day anyways. There was a moment halfway through where I felt facial pressure like my cheekbones were trying to push their way out through my skin, but it passed fairly quickly.

Boiling 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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I tried the gold dragon ball today:

It started out tasting like flowers and green herbs together, nice backbone of bitterness, really intensely flavorful. The aftertaste quickly turns cool at the tip of my tongue and the front roof of my mouth, while I continue to feel those big flavors deeper in my throat. After a short delay, my throat starts to turn cool and almost numbing, too. This tea tastes like a big burly guy dressed in some sort of delicate Brian Froud faerie costume and pulling it off in a super sexy study in contrasts sort of way.

The next few steeps were more bitter and dry brown medicinal herbal instead of green fresh herbal. Verging on exhilarating old books. Fuzzy numb tongue after. Dry thick herbiness sticking to tongue, my throat feeling tight.

Later steeps mellowed out in rich savory bean broth. Not much aftertaste or astringency anymore, just savory yums with eventually some bitter vegetal notes joining in.

I got a lot of housework and stuff done in between steeps – it kept me chill and productive and happy for hours and hours today. Might have to grab a few more.

Boiling 7 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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I got a sample of the 2017 version.

Gongfu’d at home, 1g:15ml, 200F:

There was a bit of toastiness with the first steep and then the rest were big flowers with just enough tangy salt blown on them to keep things interesting, with sometimes a surge of salt/acid immediately afterwards, always finally fading into a long lingering sweetness.

By the 6th steep or so, my mouth had gone pleasantly fuzzy.

I didn’t get much energy or flavor transformations, but it was enjoyable to drink, just sort of endless flowers growing near distant ocean breezes.

Grandpa-style at work:

Started out as slightly spicy wood with some flowers, then settled down eventually into sweet straw for the rest of the afternoon.

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Deep forests, happily not too dank. A trace of chocolate for the first couple steeps, too. Huigan is fairly mild, but ohhhh I’ve felt dreamy since the second steep or so. Not much of a flavor journey here, but I’m finding the qi strong so who cares – it’s just floaty dreamy forests forever.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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quick rinse, smells sweet and strongly of GUAVA, of all things

7s: Still smelling guava, but mixed with something else now. Light sweet barnyard orchid guava? The infusion is very pale, and the taste is, well, light sweet barnyard orchid guava. Truth in sniffs right there. Faint dryness after, just the barest pinching in of the cheeks, and after a delay the tightness fades out and cool breath fades in.

12s: The scent is now floral straw, the guava seems to be gone. There’s a brief roughness across the roof of my mouth with the sip, and then again with the pinched cheeks but now they’re kinda sticky (which has bothered me in other teas but for some reason I’m kinda into it this time). This time my cheeks stay a bit sticky even when after a delay the brief huigan comes in.

15s/17s: A bit of the guava has returned to the scent, and finally even hit the flavor a bit! The texture is a bit astringent from the start of the sip now, but the huigan is coming in sooner after and feels more floral. I wish it lasted longer. I think my lips are vibrating.

20s/26s/30s: Hay with slowly decreasing flowers. The texture is maybe a bit less sticky dry than before, instead getting just barely a bit fuzzy now. Feeling sort of little muscle twitches at various places around my body. Jumped up after each steep to do chores around the house. Definitely more of a bwee! tea than a sneepy tea.

40s: This is the first bitterness I’ve gotten from this tea. Not really sharp, a sort of floral scented front-loaded dull bitterness that’s fading into into slightly stickyfuzzy cheeks and oh hey the sweetness afterwards is going further down my throat now. Then it finally lingers for longer as sort of an airy floral note by the roof of my mouth.

50s/1min/80s/2min/5min: Floral hay, with vegetal bitterness getting a bit stronger each time (still fairly mild, though), and flowers in the huigan. Could go longer, but gonna stop now just because I’m hungry.

Flavors: Flowers, Guava, Hay

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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30s rinse, then tried to press the gaiwan lid into it (uselessly), smells a bit sweet. Then I followed the actual instructions and waited for a few minutes before trying to press the lid into the ball again, at which point I was able to basically break it in half with the lid.

30s: Weirdly long, but the instructions recommend that for the first steep to finish breaking it up before brewing normally afterwards. Looks cloudy. For the first time, I’m totally getting what folks describe as “beany”. No other word fits better. (I want the Rancho Gordo folks to try this tea!) Smooth, and there’s a nice huigan that shows up eventually.

9s: Even beanier, with a bit of vegetal bitterness adding some interest. This is so weird and savory, a light but flavorful bean broth. I think this is the best go I’ve had at a dragon ball, gotta remember that this really is the right technique! Makes me more open to them, though I still dislike how big they are (I often prefer 4g to 8g when drinking alone!).

15s: Notably more bitter. It’s not overwhelming, more like instead of plain beans I’m having collards and beans for breakfast. It’s actually pretty yummy, in an unusual way. Maybe I should make actual beans with collards and pork for dinner, that’s sounding really good right about now. After the sip, there’s way more sweetness in the back of my throat than before, and very light stonefruit in the gently cool huigan. I keep liking it more and more.

20: A bit less beany, maybe some… citrus? And the start of mild astringency, very light mouth fuzziness and then brief stickiness.

25s: The citrus is early in the sip, then it’s beans again, and the astringency is getting a bit stronger. The end of the cup as it cooled a bit had some more bitterness, briefly. Then, again, sweetness in the back of the throat and maybe an earthier cool breath after.

30s: The savoriness has become just sort of a muted base. Some citrus remains. The fuzzy stickiness remains mild but present. The ending bitterness goes further down my throat, takes a bit to fade into moderate dryness. My forehead is starting to feel a bit heavy.

Later steeps became sort of citrusy (but without being sour!), with everything else about it becoming less intense. I didn’t get much energy or body feels aside from that bit of head heaviness, but I really liked the flavor and the aftertaste for a while there and could imagine maybe grabbing a few more at some point just for the yums.

Boiling 8 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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This one started out with light bitterness in the front, then gentle deep flowers on the exhale. It felt SO BIG – it’s not that the liquid is thick, exactly, it’s that the lingering aroma in my mouth felt like huge flowers physically just crowding my mouth full. I felt like I was suffocating on giant petals, and what a way to go!

In later steeps, the bitterness lingered a bit longer and the aftertaste got correspondingly sweeter. Eventually I started getting a touch of woodsiness in the sip, some fuzziness in the mouth, and the aftertaste lost its flowers and moved towards sweet straw.

tldr so very worth it for the bizarre and beautiful sensation of a mouth crammed full of enormous flowers.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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1 rinse, smells sweet and light

8s: Salty! A little buzzy feeling on the tongue, like licking a battery. Light woods linger, not actually particularly sweet but pretty nice. Texture was fairly soft.

12s: Still super salty and more clearly acidic. Roof of my mouth feels dry after, then oh hai huigan. Cool dry breath.

17s: Mostly the same, but a bit of woodsiness is the first flavor creeping in, and I feel like I’m starting to get overall buzzy too.

25s: Feeling wild-eyed. I don’t love the dry sensation, and the buzz is starting to veer a bit manic (though the huigan is getting milder). This one is purely about sensation and texture for me – I’m getting almost no flavor to speak of.

32s: Less salty by far, smoothing out, though some of the acidic buzziness remains.

40s: I’m stopping here because the dryness has reached my throat and is starting to bug me, and I don’t want to feel any more buzzed right now. I have a bit more sample and a dragon ball of this, think I’ll put them aside for a few years then check in again.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

Bring on the awesomeness.

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