296 Tasting Notes

96

Just when I thought I was getting tired of green oolongs, along comes this tea to pull me back in. I honestly didn’t have high expectations for this regular grade baozhong given how the high end versions have failed to excite me lately. But this easily surpasses much of the competition grade stuff I’ve had this year.

It’s got a silky, smooth texture and notes of sweet pea, gardenia, lilac, and jasmine. It doesn’t have the egginess that some baozhongs have which I find off putting. Decided to cold brew it today and it was heavenly. It became thicker, sweeter, and more intensely floral. About the only difference I can discern between this and TTC’s competition grade baozhong is the latter is a bit more fragrant. But in the end the taste is what matters.

I must commend Taiwan Tea Crafts for how well-packaged their teas are. I opened this tea after it sat on the shelf for over 4 months and it smelled and tasted very fresh. The oxygen absorbers and vacuum packaging used by reputable Taiwanese and Japanese vendors really makes a big difference. It helps preserve optimum freshness. Green oolongs are the most perishable of all teas and nothing annoys me more than tea shops that throw them in pouches or otherwise improperly package them. The aromatics suffer and tea develops a telltale stale seaweed note.

Flavors: Flowers, Gardenias, Jasmine, Peas

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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73

It’s shincha time again. Last year I ordered a bunch of shincha samples from Yunomi but found none of them to be particularly interesting. So this year I returned to Yuuki-Cha, which has been my go-to vendor for Japanese greens for years. I had just finished a 100g bag of excellent Kirishima Asatsuyu sencha and wanted to try another medium steamed green tea. I picked up this one because of the promising reviews and because it came from a cultivar (yutaka) I hadn’t tried before.

The aroma out of the bag is deeply grassy and floral. Leaves are slightly more broken up than a normal chumushi sencha. I tried steeping this many different ways before settling on 2.5g/150ml for 45s using water at 158 F. Second and third steeps were for 15s at 168 F, and 30s at 162 F respectively. The first steep was very pale, almost colorless which is somewhat unusual for a Japanese green tea. Wet leaves had the aroma of roasted spinach. The taste was soft, lightly grassy with a hint of astringency in the finish. Pleasant but not terribly assertive. The second steep had a similar flavor but thicker and slightly more astringent. Liquor had a nice emerald green color this time. Surprisingly the last steep was the one I liked best. It was vegetal and grassy, a tad sweet without any bitterness to it. The reviews claim this is floral however that was far from my experience. Only at lower temperature with less leaf do I get a faint floral hint. But then the tea is so light it tastes like you’re drinking hot water.

I went through 25g of this tea, drinking and tinkering before I sat down and reviewed it. Despite Yuuki-Cha’s great track record, this one was kinda meh for me. It had little depth, no umami, more astringency than usual, and what little flavor there was faded quickly after the initial steep. I’ll cold steep the rest of my stash in the meantime and see if I have better luck with this year’s kamairicha.

Flavors: Astringent, Grass

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 OZ / 150 ML
Ubacat

I used to order from Yunomi too because they offered lots of samples but most were a miss for me. Last year I ordered from Yuuki-cha and loved every one of them so I’ve been putting stuff in my cart while waiting for some of my favourites to get posted. This one doesn’t sound to good so I’ll make sure not to get that one.

tanluwils

Yuuki-cha occupies a special place in my little tea universe. They’re reliable and always provide great value for the price. I’m definitely interested in the Kirishima Atsuyu, so I may pick up a bag.

Ubacat

tanluwils, I had that one last year and loved it. It’s on my list of favourites but I just placed an order a few days ago for some I haven’t tried. I place another when all my favourites come in.

LuckyMe

tanluwils, same here. I’ve been ordering from them ever since I starting drinking green tea and even though this one wasn’t great, their teas are overall good quality

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90

Just got my spring greens the other day from Teavivre and this was the first tea I tried. Tai Ping Hou Koi is a tea I’ve had before but it wasn’t particularly memorable. However I attribute this mainly to stale tea and not knowing the correct brewing procedure. After reading tea reviews online, I settled on grandpa steeping 12 leaves or about 1.5g grams in 10oz of 180 F water.

First impression, the leaves of this tea are freaking beautiful. The 4" long pristine forest green blades are stunning to look at and half the tea’s charm. Initial taste is of chestnut and then it becomes a spring vegetable medley. I picked up notes of grass, spinach, sweet pea, and asparagus. Soft and delicate with a bright, crisp mouthfeel. It does not get bitter even after steeping for a long time making it a great tea for grandpa style brewing.

This is a light, airy, and very spring-y green tea. I liked it better than the recent dragon wells I’ve had. It’s not the most flavor packed green tea out there, but one that’s fresh tasting and very easy to drink.

Flavors: Asparagus, Grass, Peas, Sweet

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C

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93

Backlog.

This was a solid Li Shan with a typical fruity-floral profile but what stood out to me were the texture and mouthfeel. I started off brewing this in the 189-200 range and didn’t care for the results. It tasted like a flavored Jin Xuan, with milk and vanilla bean tones. Once I bumped up the temperature about 10 degrees, that’s when the tea really began to reveal it’s character.

The tea begins sugarcane sweet and buttery. Very full and luscious mouthfeel, gentle florals in the aftertaste. The flowery notes take center stage around the 3rd steep. I detected daffodils, hyacinth, and a hint of tropical fruit. Soft texture and long, sweet aftertaste leaving behind almost a tingling sensation in the mouth. The fruitiness intensifies as it continues to steep with a smooth body and a mouthfeel like thick nectar.

Although this was a good tea, it wasn’t compelling enough for me to want to repurchase. I’ve had so many excellent high mountain teas that it takes an extraordinary tea to appear on my radar these days.

Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Tropical

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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61

This was an impulse buy at Trader Joe’s the other day. It was cheap ($3 for 51g) and the dark curled leaves interspersed with blue and yellow petals were quite attractive. While I’m glad to see grocery stores stocking more loose leaf teas, the flavoring on this one was too heavy for me.

The tea smells very powerful, almost medicinal. Vanilla is the dominant note but I also pick up bergamot, lavender, and licorice. When steeped, it tastes like a floral cherry coke or root beer.

Seeing as how it was unsuitable for drinking straight, I tried using it to make a london fog latte which I found a little more drinkable. I steeped 1.5 tsp in half a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes then combined with 2/3 cup of steamed milk and a teaspoon of sugar. The milk helps temper some of the medicinal flavor but there still remained a cough syrup like quality to it. As it cooled, the lavender and vanilla notes became more prominent.

I’ve had a couple of bergamot scented teas before which I found very cloying. Unfortunately this falls into the same category. Will continue searching for a subtly scented Earl Grey that doesn’t taste like potpourri.

Flavors: Cherry, Lavender, Licorice, Medicinal, Root Beer, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Lexie Aleah

I generally prefer strong bergamot teas I’ll have to check if my local store has this to try. Maybe you’ll have better luck coldbrewing it perhaps.

LuckyMe

Thanks, I hadn’t thought about cold steeping. Given the warmer weather recently, I’ll try that and see if it tames the tea.

Also I find blending with a straight tea helps when the flavoring is too strong.

Bluegreen

Good to know: I was tempted to buy this tea at TJ’s as well. But to be honest, I am tempted to buy most of the things at Trader Joe’s: they just KNOW how to get you interested.

Evol Ving Ness

Is it the liquorice root that has taken it over the edge do you think?

LuckyMe

Evol Ving Ness, I didn’t see licorice root in the ingredients list. But there is that mysterious “natural flavoring” that could be the culprit

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87

My third tea from the TTC Taiwanese black sampler. Dry leaf had an intriguing aroma of raisin and black licorice. Wet leaf though smelled slightly off putting. I’d describe it as a pungent earthy-malt aroma mixed with that of a bug bitten oolong. Thankfully it didn’t taste like how it smelled. This one reminded me of golden fleece with it’s mellow baked sweet potato/pumpkin flavor. There’s also some malt and faint hints of cocoa here and there. The pumpkin peaks early and the tea become sweeter and smooth in the next cups.

While this was a nice tea, it’s not something I will rush to re-order when there are other comparable Chinese teas that offer similar flavors. My impression of Taiwanese blacks so far is they don’t really stand out from the crowd. It could be that I haven’t had found the right one yet, but Yunnan and Fujian blacks seem more robust and flavorful to me.

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Pumpkin, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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88

The change in flavor between harvests can be quite interesting. This winter’s bao zhong was very TGY-like. There’s the usual heady lilacs you find in bao zhong but it also had the floral character of TGY.

I steeped this tea grandpa style, as I normally do with competition bao zhong teas. I started with 190 F degree water and topped off with boiling water once the glass was 1/3 – 1/2 full. The tea started off light but with an pleasant floral flavor. It tasted like the early steeps of TGY. Notes of violets, orchid, and egg custard were detected. After a few more steeps, the egginess subsided and the tea developed a fuller, more rounded floral sweetness. Following the first top off, the tea became lilac heavy with a rich mouthfeel that coated the entire tongue. Some vegetable broth and notes of sweet pea appear later on.

Though not as sublime as past bao zhongs, this was a solid tea with an interesting flavor profile and good longevity. It’s got nice flavor, but I expected more from a competition grade tea. I have the regular winter TGY from TTC and will be tasting it soon to see how it stacks up.

Flavors: Floral

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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95

Revisiting this tea after first trying it during my pre-gong fu “dark ages.” It definitely tastes different this time around. Part of it may be due to the variance in last year’s harvest, but ever since I adopted the gong fu approach – high leaf to water ratio and short steeps – my tea brewing has improved across the board. Japanese greens are no exception. I used to brew them the generic western style: a teaspoon per 8 oz of water for 1 minute or longer. But cutting steep times and doubling the leaf quantity really brings out their character.

This tea is very fragrant out of the bag. Wonderful sweet grass and fruity flavor. I begin by steeping 2g in a 150ml pot for 30s for the first infusion. This infusion packs a nice fruity punch. Reminds me of kamairicha but with warm grass in the background and umami. Texture in the mouth is like silk. The second infusion is a flash steep with water a tad cooler which produces a bright green liquor and deeper vegetal flavor as the fruitiness shifts to the background. Next 2 steeps are 40s and 55s at higher temperatures that give more of a standard sencha flavor with a good sweet/savory balance.

Teas like this are why Yuuki-Cha remains my favorite Japanese tea vendor. I really enjoyed the unique fruity-umami profile of this tea. It was a nice change of pace from the string of deep steamed senchas I’ve been drinking. Portioning out the 100g bag into foil zip pouches and refrigeration helped it retain a lot of freshness since I bought it over 4 months ago.

Flavors: Fruity, Sweet, warm grass, Umami

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
tanluwils

Love Yuuki-cha’s senchas. They were my first online tea vendor. Too bad they don’t sell any more teas from Shizuoka like they used to, though. I think the Uji one is their only tea from Honshu.

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90

This review is for the Autumn harvest laoshan bilochun.

Another solid Laoshan green from Verdant. This one is fruity and smooth. It’s got that signature laoshan soybean taste – which seems more pronounced in the autumn harvests – along with toasted grains and light herbaceous notes of cilantro and fennel. Nice full mouthfeel and moderately thick, brothy body. A tad on the savory side.

This is the 3rd bilochun from Verdant I’ve tried so far. The spring reserve laoshan bilochun was outstanding, one of the very best greens I’ve ever had actually. The regular spring harvest, at least year’s, was rather disappointing. This autumn harvest is right on par with Verdant’s other high quality green teas. That being said, I preferred the regular autumn laoshan tea to this one for its cleaner, more well rounded flavor.

Flavors: Coriander, Fennel, Soybean, Vegetable Broth

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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72
drank Ye Lai Xiang Dancong by Verdant
296 tasting notes

Meh, this dan cong didn’t really do anything for me. The aromas were tantalizing but the flavor didn’t match up. The leaves were dark, lightly twisted ribbons with an orchid and chocolate malt aroma. Once steeped, the aroma changes to sandalwood, spices, and wet rocks. The brewed tea has a fairly generic dan cong taste profile. There’s a bit of honey, some spice, woodsiness, and roasted tones. A little fruitiness comes out as it cools. The roast on this tea is light and reminded me of a light baked Taiwanese Jin Xuan oolong. First couple of steeps were okay, but it quickly went flat and by the 4th steep, it was mostly woodsy and had a slight oily mouthfeel.

Flavors: Roasted, Spices, Wet Rocks, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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Bio

Fell into tea years ago, and for a long time my experience was limited to Japanese greens and a few flavored teas. My tea epiphany came a few years ago when I discovered jade oolongs. That was the gateway drug to the world of fine tea and teaware.

With the exception of a handful of lightly scented teas, I drink mostly straight tea. I love fresh green and floral flavors and as such, green tea and Taiwanese oolongs will always have a place in my cupboard. After avoiding black tea my entire life, Chinese blacks are beginning to grow on me. I’ve dipped my toe into a few puerhs now but it’s still relatively new territory for me. I also enjoy white tea and tisanes but reach for them less frequently.

Other non-tea interests include: cooking, reading, nature, MMA, traveling when I can, and of course putzing around on the interwebs.

IG: https://www.instagram.com/melucky

Location

Chicago

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