296 Tasting Notes
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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