381 Tasting Notes
Surprised to see the low ratings for this tea. I sampled it yesterday at World Market and thought it was delicious. And that’s coming from someone who’s not exactly a fan of bagged black tea, sage, or berry flavoring. But the combination is really well executed in this tea.
The tea begins with a very natural blackberry flavor balanced with a mellow black tea base. The sage isn’t as easy to detect because its not up front and center. Instead it makes an appearance towards the end of the sip to impart a subtle herbal note that contrasts nicely with the fruitiness.
Bet this would make an awesome cold brew/iced tea.
Flavors: Blackberry, Fruity, Herbaceous, Sweet
Winter 2018 harvest.
The weather was finally nice enough to have a tea session outdoor on my patio the other day. This tea was the last of my Tea from Taiwan green oolong samplers and was the perfect tea for the occasion. The fresh air, smell of peonies wafting from my neighbors garden, and surrounding greenery perfectly captured the essence of this tea.
Upon opening the pouch, my nose was greeted with the smell of fresh vegetation, flowers, and apricot. A rinse released sweet, more distinct floral aromas of daffodils, lily, and honeysuckle. The first 5 steeps were delicate yet intensely floral with the aromas coming through nicely in the taste. Silky texture, sweet, and light bodied. As the session wore on, the flowery notes started to dwindle and a pear like fruitiness emerged. The tea became thicker, brighter, and I got some of that great high mountain taste.
I steeped 2g in my 50ml shibo and got 8 excellent infusions out of it. Steep times were 30s/45s/1m/2m/3m/5m/7m/10m. I brewed at around 185 F except for the last few steeps which were at or close to boiling. Even with the longer steep times, it was super smooth with zero astringency.
Flavors: Flowers, Honeysuckle, Orchid, Pear, Sweet
Here’s the second tea from my Yuuki-Cha shincha order. I usually buy just one tea during shincha season since a 100g bag lasts awhile but with so many interesting teas at Yuuki-Cha this year, I went a little crazy and picked up 2 different senchas, an asamushi and this fukamushi, as well as a kamairicha. So yeah, it’ll be a while before I purchase any more Japanese greens. Anyway, I decided to check out Chiran Sencha after seeing it everywhere on my IG feed.
This is a pretty good Sencha with the deep steamed grassy flavor typical of the fukamushi style. Dry leaves have a fruity and sweet umami aroma. Wet leaf smells like a fresh ocean breeze. The tea starts off grassy with bold vegetal notes of broccoli, edamame, and asparagus. It becomes more savory as it settles, finishing with a little chlorophyll. Second steep is something like a thin matcha. Dense green, both in color and taste, and has a wheatgrass-like taste. Third steep is similar but flatter. This tea infuses quickly so best to keep steeps short to minimize bitterness. Don’t get much umami from it although for that I should probably drop the temperature. That may also help bring out more sweetness as it’s a tad savory.
Like shincha #1, this is a very good, classic tasting tea but there’s nothing really memorable about it. It’s got that in-your-face grassiness I love yet lacks complexity. Still have 85g left so I’ll continue experimenting.
Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Grass, Soybean, Vegetal
Man, it’s already June and the weather in Chicago is still wonky. Seems like we never quite recovered from the brutal -50 F windchills this past winter. It’s supposed to be summer now but here I am with the furnace on and wearing a sweater. WTH?
The unexpectedly cool weather calls for a roasty tea so I pulled out this sample I received with my recent Jade Leaf teaware order. I grandpa steeped 1.2g in an 8oz glass using 195 F water. The dry leaf had an appetizing smell of chocolate, toffee, and butterscotch. Wet leaf though didn’t have much aroma, kind of had the standard roasted oolong smell.
I got busy with other stuff which gave this a chance to steep good and long. The leaves unfurled to release an incredibly smooth texture and taste of flowers and caramel. Roast was gentle without any char and lent a sweet fruitiness to the tea. It was a tad lighter than I like but that’s likely because I slightly underleafed.
An excellent medium roast oolong, perfectly roasted to give it a nice warmth and sweetness. Eager to try this gongfu next time.
Flavors: Caramel, Flowers, Heavy, Honey
Still no luck after tinkering around with this tea. Upping the leaf quantity from 1.5g to 2.5g did bring out more flavor but the taste still left a lot to be desired. It’s brothy with notes of seaweed and green bean. And once again bitterness set in quickly despite lowering the temperature.
Am now convinced that it’s not me but the tea as it doesn’t respond well no matter how it’s brewed. It makes a decent cold brew though so that’s how the rest of my stash will be used.
Flavors: Broth, Green Beans, Seaweed
Meh, this was a pretty lousy tea all around. It’s supposed to be a Pear Mountain / Li Shan oolong, something which I would never mistake it for. There’s none of those distinctive fruity and floral notes that Li Shan is known for. Instead, this is rough and vegetal with a washed out flavor that lasts for only a few steeps.
So far this has been the only real dud in my Tea from Taiwan sampler pack. It’s also a reminder of why I don’t like to commit to more than 25g of any tea, especially expensive high mountain teas that can be very hit or miss.
Flavors: Butter, Vegetal
Now here’s a good example of a tea that’s all aroma and no flavor. I was super excited when I opened the bag and got punched in the face with intense perfume florals and tropical fruit. However the brewed tea was a different story. This is the mildest baozhong I’ve ever tasted, to put it politely. It has a very subtle, barely there flavor. Mostly vegetal throughout with faint hints here and there of jasmine, sweet pea, and violets.
This was my second time having a baozhong oolong from Baguashan and it just doesn’t hold a candle to the more prestigious Wenshan Baozhong. It’s got explosive aromas but tastes washed out. This is nearly half the price of Baozhong from Wenshan however as with most things, you get what you pay for. Hard pass on this one.
Flavors: Floral, Peas, Vegetal
And the spring green tea marathon continues. I’ve been drinking green tea almost every day this month while my 2019 teas are still fresh and haven’t grown tired of them (yet). My shincha order arrived the other day and I wasted no time diving right in.
This is an asamushi (light-steamed) sencha that’s described as subtle and aromatic. The leaves smell like flowers and grass, not fresh cut grass but grass that’s been outside drying. Wet leaf smells like spinach and cruciferous vegetables. First steep produces a pale yellow-green liquor with floral and umami notes. It becomes brothy as the tea cools. Second infusion is a brisker cup with a greener color and a refreshing grassy flavor. By the third steep, the flavor lightens and has a faint citrus hint.
A solid but unexciting sencha. Mellow flavor and very drinkable, but nothing really pops out at me.
Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetal
This is a newly offered Laoshan tea from Yunnan Sourcing. It’s a early first flush tea picked before their normal first flush Imperial Grade tea. Not sure what makes this one Competition Grade but the flavor has more in common with the Imperial Grade than Classic Laoshan green tea.
I steeped 2.5g in a 120ml shibo 4 times starting with 180 F water and then the temperature was raised to 190 F. The dry leaves have a pleasant aroma of cilantro, lima beans, flowers, and milk. Wet leaf smells like asparagus mingled with an oat like nuttiness.
First steep (25s): crisp and delicate with notes of soy and green bean
Second steep (30s): same but with more body. it has a nice, clean taste without the strong oat and fennel flavors that Laoshan greens sometimes have.
Third steep (40s): used hotter water than I normally do yet tea was unaffected. no drop in flavor, but it hasn’t really evolved either. still has a nice freshness to it.
Fourth steep (50s): mellows out a little bit. still smooth and tasty
As expected, this was on the softer side flavor-wise, a typical characteristic of early picked tea. It holds up very well to hot water and has excellent staying power. Though I steeped it four times, I could have easily gotten another infusion or two out of it. The flavor remained constant throughout which is both good and bad. Good because the flavor doesn’t drop so soon, bad because there’s no evolution of flavor. Although a great tea, I do slightly prefer the second flush for its less refined but more assertive flavor.
Flavors: Green Beans, Oats, Soybean
Man, if only this tea tasted as good as it looks. The beautiful long green blades of this Tai Ping Hou Kui are quite a sight to see but the flavor is just sorta meh.
I grandpa steeped about 3 or 4 leaves which is 1.5g in an 8oz glass using 180 F water. The smell of the leaves is briny like kelp and seaweed salad, and slightly marine. I won’t lie it’s a litte off-putting. Thankfully, the smell doesn’t make it into the taste. The liquor is almost colorless and has a very subtle, barely there flavor. There are some vegetal and light grass notes that appear after it steeps for a while but the taste isn’t really distinctive and almost feels like you’re drinking hot water. When it does finally develop some flavor, astringency appears shortly thereafter.
Honestly, I’m kind of annoyed by super delicate green teas such as this one. Huang Shan Mao Feng is another famous tea with a similar flavor. They might be better suited for occasional green tea drinkers who don’t like grassiness but I find them really bland.
I did have a Tai Ping Hou Kui from Teavivre last year that was decent so I’m sure there are better versions of this tea. This is my first time trying it from Yunnan Sourcing and unfortunately this one just doesn’t do it for me.
Flavors: Green Beans, Salty, Seaweed