378 Tasting Notes
Man, it was a struggle getting through this tea. I don’t do well with darker oolongs in general but this one was rougher than most. It has a thick, oily mouthfeel and a taste that can best be described as drinking tar. Can’t taste much beyond the roast other than a little licorice and an odd medicinal note that reminds me of Tylenol. After about 4 steeps, the oiliness fades and you get a nice toasted nut flavor. No sweetness or discernable fruity flavors.
I steeped this for 5 times, starting at 185 F for steep times of 2, 3, 5, 7, and 10 minutes.
Flavors: Char, Medicinal, Tar
Just when I thought I’d seen and tried all things jasmine, along comes this tea to dispel that notion. And what an incredibly good jasmine tea this is! It’s quite similar to Verdant’s White Jasmine which I also enjoy with its clean, fresh, and sweet jasmine fragrance and taste. Here the jasmine is accented with a little malt and caramel sweetness in the aftertaste. Its flavor is soft yet prominent. A lovely tea and one that’s great for grandpa steeping.
Flavors: Caramel, Jasmine, Malt
Picked this up during Verdant’s Black Friday sale. I wanted their High Elevation Mi Lan Xiang which was pretty epic, but since it was out of stock I ended up buying this one instead. Later I realized that I had purchased this tea once before but forgot since I didn’t get around to leaving a tasting note. That’ll teach me not to be lazy about writing. Anyways, after tasting it I remembered why this wasn’t so memorable.
As far as Mi Lan Xiangs go, this one is very average. It’s got the usual honey profile with occasional hints of narcissus flowers and a bit of fruitiness. The roasting is just enough to bring out the warmth and sweetness without adding any char. Flash steeping prevents bitterness and carried me through about 6-7 steeps before I had to add time.
My problem with this tea is the lack of any standout qualities. It’s missing those wonderful peachy and fruit flavors that I love in a good Mi Lan Xiang. Although the flavor does change through steeps, it’s mostly one-dimensional. It’s comparable to Yunnan Sourcing’s entry-level Mi Lan but with a lighter roast. With Dan Congs at least, it seems you get what you pay for.
Flavors: Fruity, Honey, Narcissus
I wasn’t expecting much from this inexpensive sample but the taste and aroma of this tea really caught me by surprise. Out of the bag, an explosion of dark chocolate and molasses hits your nose. Placed in a heated pot, the dry leaves emit aromas of ovaltine and s’mores. The steeped tea has a complex and wonderful chocolatey flavor that reminds me of Laoshan black tea. But there’s so much more to it than just chocolate. I also detected hints of rose, berries, and a little sweet potato earthiness in the finish. Normally I don’t care for the sweet potatoey note found in Dian Hongs however here’s it’s subtle and balanced. There’s no smokiness to this Lapsang at all, just a lingering caramel like sweetness.
The flavor does fade quicker than I’d like. By the fourth steep most of the flavor had been drained. Nevertheless, this is really an exceptional tea for the price and one that I will definitely repurchase.
Flavors: Berries, Caramel, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Rose, Sweet Potatoes
This is a green dan cong that has more aroma than flavor. Big floral notes hit the nose along with honey, mint, and lemongrass. The brewed tea is thick and has a savory flavor. There’s a vegetable soup quality to it along with some floral and a bit of astringency. The taste reminds me of the later steeps of a green TGY. It remains extremely aromatic steep after steep, but flavor is somewhat uneven. To me, this lacks the refinement of a Taiwanese oolong or even some of the better Chinese oolongs. A decent tea for easy sipping when you want something simple that you don’t have to think too much about.
Flavors: Astringent, Chicken Soup, Floral, Herbaceous, Vegetal
Many of this year’s high mountain oolongs fell below expectations, but this was one of the few standouts. Super floral, sweet, and fruity. The smell and taste of the beginning steeps is like tropical flowers and morning dew on a spring day. Very crisp and refreshing. It drops off a bit towards the middle before transitioning to a sweet, fruity flavor with a thick body and some mineral notes. I got 9 good steeps out of this gongfued and about 4-5 western style. When western steeped, the florals are intensified.
Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Orchid, Sugarcane, Tropical
I know it’s only genmaicha but I really love this one. I had previously bought genmaicha dusted with matcha, but the matcha added extra caffeine that I didn’t need at night and made the liquor murky. This is a high quality genmaicha that’s just regular sencha mixed with puffed brown rice and these popcorn looking pieces. Taste is very smooth and clean. Liquor is a clear, yellowish-green color. Good balance of toasty and grass flavors. It gives several tasty infusions and can easily be blended with matcha or plain sencha for some oomph.
Flavors: Popcorn, Toasted Rice
Wow, this stuff packs a serious lychee wallop. If someone took the essence of lychee and distilled it into tea, I imagine this is what it would taste like. The aroma out of the bag is intoxicating and very powerful. I had a feeling the flavor would be similarly powerful and I was right. This is a very, very sweet tea. It tastes like drinking fruit juice. As it continues steeping, it develops a very perfumey quality that reminds me of rose water and oddly enough, Indian paan masala (a concoction of betel leaf and areca).
I grandpa steeped this in a 10oz glass teapot with just 1.3g of leaf. But this tea is so potent that even this small amount of leaf gave a ton of flavor. As much as I enjoyed the lychee flavoring, I felt it dominated the tea. Next time, I’ll blend this with straight black to balance out the lychee.
Flavors: Lychee, Rose
Brewed this tea following package directions by steeping it like gyokuro style at low temperatures for the first steep and then like Sencha at higher temperature. First steeping tasted like kabusecha, earthy raw grass taste but mellower and without any umami. The next 3 steeps were citrusy with notes of wheat grass, kale, and yuzu.
This tea falls into the earthy category which I find hard to get into. It’s not terrible, but lacks the freshness and sweet grassy flavor of a good sencha.
The first time I tried this tea, I gongufed it and didn’t like the musky, brothy flavor. But not every tea is made for gongfu and in this particular case, generic western steeping actually worked best. I dropped about 7 pearls into a 200ml teapot and brewed it for 3 minutes or so until the leaf began to unfurl. The tea had a lovely sweet incense like aroma. Soft, creamy flavor with a faintly floral aftertaste that reminded me of white tea.
I can see why this is used as a base in jasmine scented tea. The subtle flavor works well in many blends. I added a dried persian rosebud and the tea complemented the rose very nicely.
Flavors: Creamy, Smooth, Sweet