282 Tasting Notes
So at long last, I finally got my hands on some duck shit oolong. I have long been intrigued by this funny sounding tea, but couldn’t bring myself to commit to a 50g bag. Thankfully I was able to get a sampler recently from Teavivre. The ability to sample any tea is another reason why I love this tea shop.
This tea has a honey-gardenia flavor profile. It’s on the greener end of the oolong spectrum but has an ever so subtle roast that brings out hints of warm spice, honey, and almond. I enjoyed the crispness and mellow florals of this tea. Mouthfeel is rich and buttery. However around the 4th steep, it began shifting to a more savory flavor. It develops a bit of pungency and leaves behind a leathery aftertaste.
I had mixed feelings about this tea. It starts off great, but eventually turns soup-like with some odd flavors. Nevertheless, as a green oolong lover the roast on this tea is on point. It retains the delicate flowery notes and has a caramel edge without ever tasting roasty. I’ll likely revisit this tea somewhere down the road, this time with a fresher batch and/or a higher grade of duck shit.
Flavors: Butter, Fruity, Gardenias, Honey, Leather
An interesting experimental batch from Verdant. This is their laoshan roasted oolong blended with osmanthus flowers. I’ve loved the osmanthus scented Taiwanese oolongs I’ve tried so far, but those were green oolongs. This blend is quite different from those floral-focused teas. It’s darker, more savory and the osmanthus plays a supporting role rather than a leading one.
I brewed this grandpa style. The tea appearance is black curled leaves interspersed with orange flecks of osmanthus. Upon sniffing, all sorts of interesting aromas pop out. I detect incense, eucalyptus, spice, and dark soy sauce. The taste is more akin to a laoshan black. There’s the signature chocolate note along with malt, osmanthus, and a hint of orange zest in the finish. As it continues steeping, the flavors begin to round out. The sweetness and osmanthus flavor grow stronger. Mouthfeel becomes soft and a tad oily. A hint of cinnamon spice dances in the background.
Though I enjoyed this tea, it wasn’t a favorite. The roasted notes of the laoshan oolong didn’t really play well with the osmanthus. I think a green or light roasted oolong would complement osmanthus flowers better.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mineral, Osmanthus, Spices
Weird is how I would describe this tea. It’s got this strange wood and menthol taste that I found off-putting. No aroma in the dry leaf. Wet leaf smelled like Vicks Vaporub and had some darjeeling woodsiness. The first steep tasted exactly like how it smelled. As it cooled, the menthol lessened a bit and I tasted more of the woodsy, bug bitten flavor. The next two steeps had the same medicinal taste.
I gongfued this tea and could have kept going but decided to stop after the 3rd steep. I really disliked the minty/menthol taste which seemed all that this tea had to offer. There wasn’t any depth nor did the tea change from steep to steep.
I’ve heard great things about Taiwanese black tea so my experience here was a letdown. This was one of four black teas in my Taiwanese black tea sampler pack from TTC. Hoping I have better luck with the others.
Flavors: Menthol, Wood
While I love high mountain teas, I am fairly ambivalent towards Da Yu Lings. In my experience, they tend to be good but are seldom worth the high price they command. This one came highly recommended by the vendor.
Out of the bag, the plump green leaves had a forest green aroma and some floral hints. There was also a bit of seaweed aroma, a not so good sign that the tea is beginning to lose freshnesss. The warmed gaiwan brought out osmanthus and orchid which changed to melon and tropical fruit after the rinse. The first infusion was thin and vegetal with a light floral sensation on the tongue in the finish. Second steep brought our more florals, but also the stale seaweed note. The third steep was the best one of all. A thick flower nectar with a prominent note of orange blossom and less of the seaweed. The fourth infusion was similarly floral but also brought some brothiness. The texture become softer and gives the tongue a gentle floral tingle as it goes down. In the next 5 steeps, the tea flattened out a bit as it settled into a pleasant floral/vegetal taste.
So much like past Da Yu Lings, this ended up being a good but unspectacular gao shan. Nice mouthfeel and texture, but lacking some depth. I would like to have seen some of the fruity aromas in the taste.
Flavors: Flowers, Forest Floor, Orange Blossom, Orchid
Over the years, I’ve developed an affinity of sorts for winter harvest bao zhongs. I find the taste cleaner and smoother than the spring harvest. A little ironic considering how its fresh floral character so epitomizes spring. Recently I was fortunate enough to receive a sample of Floating Leaves’ Winter Competition Bao Zhong with my order and wasted no time brewing up a cup.
Bao zhong is a tea whose aroma should be savored as much as the taste. For this reason, my preferred method of preparing this tea is grandpa style. It also helps stretch those expensive competition grade teas. Upon opening the bag, I was greeting with a lovely sweet floral aroma of orchid and hyacinth. I steeped 1g of tea in an 8oz mug using water heated to just under 190 F. The first sip was slightly floral but thin and weak, probably because I started drinking too soon. After waiting for a few more leaves to drop to the bottom, I took another sip and got a sweet pea like flavor accompanied by notes of honeydew and gardenia. At the same time, delicate lilac and vegetal aromas wafted from my mug.
When the mug was halfway empty, I topped it off with boiling water and took a sip. The sweet pea tones were stronger this time and came with notes of orchid and warm morning dew. This was a floral-vegetal affair with a lot more sweetness. A third top off resulted in a similar tasting tea, though simpler due to the flavors having melded together.
Overall, I enjoyed this tea though it wasn’t quite the flower bomb that baozhongs I’ve had in the past were. It leans slightly vegetal with a sweet pea taste interspersed with florals. Doesn’t have the ethereal flavor of my favorite competition bao zhong from BTTC’s, but still hits the spot for me.
Flavors: Flowers, Peas
This is the third of the “Tian Mu” green tea varietals I tried from Teavivre and bears some resemblance to the other two.
The dry leaves are long spindly blades, forest green with flecks of white. It has the same sweet aroma as Tian Mu Yun Wu and Tian Mu Mao Feng. The first steep produced a light brew that tasted a lot like silver needle white tea and accompanied by vegetal tones reminiscent of crisp lettuce and cabbage. More of the grassiness came through on the second steep. There was some fruitiness present along with an aloe like sweetness characteristic of Tian Mu teas. The tea got lighter with the next two steeps though the taste was basically the same.
All of the 3 Tian Mu teas I tried were good but I would rank this behind the other two. It has more of a white tea taste profile and isn’t as robust. They are also much lighter than other green teas. Had to use more leaf than usual to get any flavor out of it.
Flavors: Fruity, Lettuce, Pine
I seldom review a tea twice but I feel I was too hard on this tea in my first review. The house was freezing today and I was craving something roasty to warm me up. Normally I time all my steeps, but was feeling lazy and decided to wing it on the steeps. I really enjoyed how it tasted today. The spice and roasted stone fruit notes provided some much needed warmth and comfort. Bumping up my rating for this tea.
Flavors: Peach, Roasted, Spices, Stonefruits
This is a green tea that has a very similar profile to another Teavivre favorite, Tian Mu Yun Wu. It’s got a sweet aroma of fresh cut flowers. When brewed, it’s light bodied and fruity with notes of crisp lettuce and sweet pea. There’s a nectar like sweetness to it and no bitterness even when the temperature is pushed.
Compared to Tian Mu Yun Wu, it doesn’t have quite the same depth nor resteeping power. Regardless, this is another stellar offering from Teavivre. I wouldn’t mind buying some more if I hadn’t already bought a 100g bag of the other tea.
Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Garden Peas, Lettuce
After hearing so many great things about Floating Leaves, I finally got around to trying them this year. I generally favor Taiwan Tea Crafts for the value and quality, but at this point I’ve tried every single green oolong in their lineup and was ready for something new. I ordered the Winter High Mountain sampler pack and this was the first tea to go into the gaiwan.
I steeped about 3.5g of tea in a 80ml gaiwan. The dry leaves had a light orchid aroma. A rinse intensified the orchid and brought out notes of lilies, custard, and cream. The first steep was a little light, probably because my water temperature wasn’t high enough. On the second steep, I was able to taste the flowery notes in the aroma and some honeycomb in the finish that was very nice. The next two steeps were juicier with crisp florals, sugarcane, snap pea, and a hint of cucumber. Mouthfeel wasn’t as full as other high mountain teas but very clean and refreshing. I was able to push this to 10 steeps in total and despite fading a little, it maintained a pleasant orchid/lilac profile throughout.
This was the first Ali Shan in a long time that’s really wowed me. A bright, fresh, and flowery tea with some serious staying power. And a great start to trying out my samples. Hoping the other teas in the sampler are as impressive as this one was.
Flavors: Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Flowers, Orchid, Peas, Sugarcane
I consider this to be a connoisseur’s tea. This is an elegant dan cong full of nuance and texture that’s best appreciated by a seasoned palette. It has less of the juicy characteristics usually seen in dan cong and is more akin to a refined high mountain oolong.
It begins like a fairly typical dan cong with some honey and spice in the mouth. There’s a gentle floral hint in the finish. The roast is soft and doesn’t have that oily/mineral sensation of dark oolongs. To be sure, the minerality is there but it’s light and caresses your throat as it goes down. By the third steep what little roastiness there is clears up. The tea becomes sweeter and has a bright floral aftertaste reminiscent of magnolia and honeysuckle. There’s a linen like softness to the texture and a playful tickle in the back of the throat. Mouthfeel is incredibly smooth and supple like silk. As it progresses it becomes fruity with subtle hints of lychee and saffron.
I really enjoyed how this tea evolved over steeps. You don’t often see that in dan cong. It had an almost ethereal mouthfeel that was so soft and airy. Just a wonderful tea that you need to slow down and relax in order to savor its delicate flavor.
Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Lychee, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Pine, Saffron, Spices