Received a sample of this tea courtesy of teasipper. It’s my first time trying Ben Shan which is supposed to be closely related to Tieguanyin and is sometimes sold to unsuspecting buyers as TGY. So going into this tasting, my perception was Ben Shan probably tastes a lot like TGY albeit a lower grade version.

The dry leaf indeed had the familiar floral aroma of TGY but additionally, I smelled some eucalyptus and vanilla. The first steep was like a weak TGY. Light orchid flavor. The color wasn’t nuclear green though. It had a slight amber hue to it. The next steep was fuller with TGY like orchid balanced with a nice vegetal backdrop. In the 3rd steep, the florals become brighter, more orchid than lilac. Some vanilla peeks through as well and a little fruitiness can be detected in the background. This was a very well balanced infusion that tasted like an earlier steeping of TGY. The flavor of the tea changes little in later steeps. It just gets thinner as the steeps wear on.

This was a good tea in my book but there’s nothing unique about it. It doesn’t separate itself from other TGYs in any meaningful way. For all practical purposes, it can be considered to be TGY-lite.

Flavors: Eucalyptus, Flowers, Orchid, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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My Rating Criteria:

95 to 100: Top shelf stuff. Loved this tea and highly recommend it

90 to 94: Excellent. Enjoyed this tea and would likely repurchase

80 to 89: Good but not great. I liked it though it may be lacking in some aspects. I’ll finish it but probably won’t buy again

70 to 79: Average at best. Not terrible but wouldn’t willingly drink again

60 to 69: Sub-par. Low quality tea, barely palatable

59 and below: Bleh

Fell into tea many years ago and for a long time my experience was limited to Japanese greens and flavored Teavana teas. My tea epiphany happened when I discovered jade oolongs. That was my gateway drug to the world of high quality tea and teaware.

For the most part, I drink straight tea but do appreciate a good flavored tea on occasion. I love fresh green and floral flavors and as such, green tea and Taiwanese oolongs will always have a place in my cupboard. After avoiding black tea forever, Chinese blacks have started to grow on me. I’m less enthusiastic about puerh though. I also enjoy white tea and tisanes but reach for them less frequently.

Other non-tea interests include: cooking, reading, nature, philosophy, MMA, traveling when I can, and of course putzing around on the interwebs.

IG: https://www.instagram.com/melucky


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