219 Tasting Notes
My first shincha of 2017. This tea promises a unique flavor that’s rich in orchid florals. The orchid flavor makes a brief appearance but is muddled with persistent bitterness which reminded me of sheng puerh.
I steeped 2g of leaf in a 120ml teapot.
Leaf appearance: dark, broken leaves that turn an unappealing yellow after steeping. barely any aroma.
First steep: 60s @ 160 F. Light bodied, pale yellowish liquor. it has some gyokuro umami and melon like fruitiness.
Second steep: 20s @ 170 F. A nice hint of sweet orchid clashing with the tea’s astringency.
Third steep: 85s @ 170 F. Sharply astringent
At $8 for 10g, this was the most expensive sencha I’ve ever tried and not worth it when a quality gyokuro can be had for half the price.
Flavors: Astringent, Orchid
This is the most coconut-y tea I’ve ever tasted. It’s like eating a delicious coconut cream pie or coconut macaroon. Intermingled with the coconut are notes of tropical fruit – pineapple, passionfruit, and lychee – and a burst of sweet flowers. The body is rich and the mouthfeel buttery. I got 8 excellent steeps out of it.
Shibi tea might just be my favorite tea from TTC. It’s consistently good and although the coconut was a little more intense in this harvest than usual, it had the juicy fruit and floral tones that really set it apart from other teas.
Flavors: Coconut, Flowers, Nectar, Tropical
Dragonwell sample #2 from Verdant.
This is a second flush longjing #43 with a stronger vegetal flavor than the first flush. Leaf appearance is similar but not as aromatic. I detected notes of creamed corn and light vegetable soup in the aroma. When brewed, the leaves produce a liquor that is light golden, almost clear. The taste is vegetal, notes of asparagus and cabbage. I also get a little matcha type chalkiness here and there. The mouthfeel is thick, smooth, and clean. It’s got a stronger toasty flavor as compared to the first flush with a touch of astringency.
This one worked better grandpa steeped than gongfu. It’s a decent dragon well but nothing to write home about.
Flavors: Asparagus, Vegetal
A downside of single origin teas is the flavor varies from season to season. Last year’s harvest was one of the best green teas I had in 2016. This year’s crop is less robust and not quite as satisfying. It’s missing the deep vegetal (spinach) flavor and fruitiness. It tastes mostly of fennel and little floral. Still a good tea, but not as amazing as it used to be.
This was one of 3 dragon well samples I picked up from Verdant with my spring green tea order. These are the new dragon well varietals they added to their lineup this year. Normally, dragon well isn’t my favorite kind of green tea but I still like to sample the first harvests each spring. I appreciate this tea more for its visual appearance and preparation than flavor.
The leaves are pale forest green blades and smell of creamed spinach and edamame. When heated, the aroma changes to buttered beans and stir fried vegetables. Since I only had a 5g sample, I decided to first brew it grandpa style and use the rest of the leaves for a gongfu session later. Steeped in a tall glass, the taste is a bit weak and not terribly impressive: savory cooked vegetables and a chalky matcha like texture with a vegetal finish that sticks to the back of your throat. I liked it much better gongfued. Loosely following the instructions on Verdant’s site, I steeped 3.5g in a 150ml gaiwan for about 30s. The first steep had an buttery, silky smooth texture. There’s a clover honey like sweetness, some fennel and a nice floral note. I enjoyed this steeping a lot as it was very different from the typical chestnutty flavor of most dragon wells. The next couple of steeps though didn’t fare so well. I was hoping for more of the flavor from the first steep but what I got instead was a somewhat dry taste of smokey, pungent green vegetables.
This was another interesting tea from Verdant. It had its moments but didn’t blow my socks off. I still prefer their Laoshan greens to dragon wells.
If Lipton made green oolong tea, I imagine this is what it would taste like. Having been spoiled by quality Taiwanese and Chinese oolongs, I found this to be a rough tea. Lots of broken leaf, astringency, and no complexity in flavor.
The dry leaves are pale green and twisted with a mild fragrance of orchid and gardenia. The wet leaf has a pleasant gardenia and lilac aroma. Unlike Chinese oolong, the leaf isn’t intact. The broken leaf and debris made brewing in a gaiwan a mess. It also clogged the filter of a regular teapot. A metal brew basket or a teapot with a mesh strainer is the way to go.
The flavor of this tea is similar to jin xuan and baozhong but not nearly as refined. It’s buttery with light gardenia florals and a fair amount of bitterness. Short infusion times are key to minimizing the ever present astringency. It can only steep about 3 times which is pretty disappointing. When it comes to judging green oolongs Taiwanese teas are the gold standard for me. I feel this is missing many elements of the flavor, texture, and rich aroma that characterize Taiwanese oolongs. Amongst other things, it lacks the fresh, clean taste, the minerals, and thick mouthfeel.
I had high hopes for this tea but found it to be really subpar. Glad I got to try it, but I see no reason to order it again given all the high quality oolongs out there.
Flavors: Bitter, Gardenias, Vegetal
I don’t really drink much flavored tea anymore with the exception of naturally scented tea with flowers. Over the past year or so, Sakura has officially dethroned jasmine as my favorite floral flavor in tea. Den’s Sakura Sencha has been my cherry blossom tea of choice for a while now and I eagerly anticipate it’s release every spring. This year, they made the bold move of changing their winning blend and went all natural. The cherry flavoring was removed and matcha was added. While I applaud their effort, the new blend isn’t quite as satisfying as the previous one.
The matcha dusted green leaves are less visually appealing than the old blend with its long needle shaped leaves interspersed with elegant pink flower buds and sakura petals. The smell of the tea is also different. It reminded me of salt pickled cherry blossoms. The flavor is true to the aroma – a subtle taste of cherry blossom and umeboshi pickled plums. More savory than sweet and a bit drying in the mouth. The base of the old blend was a deep grassy green tea which I preferred. This one although good, seems to be more brothy.
Overall, while I enjoyed this tea I rate it lower than last year’s blend and Yunomi’s Sakura Sencha with Sugared Sakura Leaves. It’s briney, salty taste wasn’t my favorite and I missed the sweet sakura flavor of those other two. The matcha is an interesting idea but doesn’t add anything here. I hope Den’s tweaks this blend or goes back to the old formula.
Flavors: Plums, Sakura, Salty
Thus far in my puerh journey, my nose seems to enjoy it more than my tastebuds do. I love the fresh earthy aroma of sheng but the flavor tends to get overpowered by bitterness. This tea epitomizes that experience. It has a wonderful sweet clay smell with floral and grassy notes. It’s mellower than most puerh teas and produces a nice golden amber liquor. Early steeps are soft and full of sweet fruity tones. A bitter melon flavor mixed with fresh dirt emerges around the 3rd steep. The sweetness peters out fairly quickly giving way to strong astringency that was too tannic for me. This would be a winner if only the initial taste could extend further than just a couple of steeps.
Flavors: Bitter Melon, Clay, Wet Earth
I’m down to my last serving of this tea and still am not sure how I feel about it. This tea gives me fits because it’s so finnicky. More often than not I miss the optimal steep window. But occasionally when I hit the target, the tea is amazing. Intensely grassy with a zesty vegetal flavor and a fresh ocean breeze aroma. There’s some umami, mineral notes, and even occasional hints of floral. It hits almost every flavor note I like.
However resteeps are less spectacular. Harsh sulphur-like bitterness mixed with a cooked broccoli aftertaste. Brewing in a clay teapot helps remove some of the bitterness and rounds out the taste.
Flavors: Grass, Green, Moss, Ocean Breeze
I had this tea when I wasn’t feeling sick and thought it was okay. The mint hits pretty hard. It has a peppermint candy taste and a strong eucalyptus aroma. This is probably by design though so you can taste it through a cold. I’m not usually a fan of overly mint tisanes but I can see how this could help soothe a cold or clear your sinuses. This herbal blend seems to be missing an element of spice. It could definitely use a little ginger or warm spices to balance out the flavor.
Flavors: Eucalyptus, Mint