372 Tasting Notes
Found myself at DavidsTea today after what felt like ages. Feeling thirsty and wanting something less sugary than the usual fare at the mall food court, decided to get a cup of this iced. For some reason, this reminded me of Mountain Dew but without the sugar. It was citrusy, with heavier pineapple than mango and tropical fruitiness in the background. The tea was sweetened but just barely so. Enough to bring out its natural sweetness without tasting sugary.
For an herbal, this was really tasty and worked perfectly in iced tea. I’m curious as to what it would taste like hot and unsweetened. I’d also like to see how it does blended with a straight tea. I may revisit this one once my Murchie’s Mango Green Tea runs out.
Flavors: Mango, Passion Fruits, Pineapple, Tropical
It’s been a while since I’ve had a Four Seasons Tea. I remember it being my first introduction to Taiwanese oolongs years ago. But I’ve had little reason to revisit it since then because as the saying goes, once you go high mountain you never go back. Or something like that. Anyways, this one came to me in my Tea from Taiwan sampler pack.
This is a flowery tea through and through. The smell of the dry leaves is like a sweet floral bouquet. Following a rinse, notes of hyacinth, kettle corn, and fresh spring vegetation appear. The first steep is light-bodied with a green tea like taste and mellow oolong sweetness. The second steep is thicker and has a honeysuckle finish that hangs on to the back of the tongue. Third steep brings a more complex floral taste with hyacinth notes. The flavor drops off by the fourth steep, but the tea still gives a good sweetness mingled with a little astringency.
The biggest difference I noticed between this and the more expensive high mountain oolongs is the texture. While it has decent flavor, it lacks the fullness, body, and viscosity of better Taiwanese teas. It also doesn’t last very long, peaking by the 3rd steep. But I can’t be mad at it though this is a budget oolong after all.
In short, this is a serviceable jade oolong with a pleasant yet simple flavor. It was fun revisiting an old favorite but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it since there are so many better Taiwanese teas out there.
Flavors: Flowers, Honeysuckle
Spring 2018 harvest.
This is a tea that I just could not get to taste right no matter how much I tried. Tried gongfu, grandpa, and western steeping and all I got was a very pale, tasteless liquor.
Although this is classified as a green tea, it looks and smells like an oolong with its balled up leaves and rich, buttery aroma. In a heated vessel, it emits a sweet, pastry-like aroma which turns to toasted nuts when the leaf is introduced to hot water.
The flavor though is a different story. The brewed tea is colorless and nearly tasteless with a vague vegetal flavor. It feels like drinking hot water. Upping the water temperature and steep times made it taste like russet potato skins. Unlike other GABA teas I’ve had, it doesn’t produce any feelings of calm or relaxation.
However cold brewing was the saving grace for this one and prevented me from throwing it out. When steeped overnight in the fridge, it transforms into a different tea – sweeter, more robust, with a fruity freshness. There’s a chestnut like nuttiness and sweet potato in the finish.
Flavors: Potato, Vegetal
Tea from Taiwan is a company that I’ve known about for a while but passed over many times until a couple of weeks ago when I was out of new options for Taiwanese oolongs and this generic named vendor was the only one left. They had a sale on samples and I bought two sampler packs. The Feng Fu sampler which contains teas from the typical high mountain regions of Taiwan (Long Feng Xia, Ali Shan, Shan Lin Xi, etc) and the Da Yu Ling and Hua Gang sampler, consisting of these two super premium teas.
Hua Gang from the description is a tea grown in the Li Shan mountain range. I don’t know if that technically makes it a Li Shan but I used Li Shan tea as a comparison point. The dark green leaves were rolled into large nuggets and had a sweet orchid aroma. When dropped into a heated gaiwan, the aroma becomes buttery and sweet corn like. Following a rinse, the leaves turned emerald green and delicious aromas of vanilla, custard, and flowers wafted out.
The tea began light and fresh with notes of sweet pea and lily of the valley. The body became thicker and the florals more prominent starting with the second brew. I picked up notes of lilac, honeysuckle, citrus, and green apple along the way. There were a few times when grassiness and a slight astringency crept in but overall, pleasant floral tones and a lingering sweetness dominated throughout the 6 or so steeps.
My sample was 7g so I only managed 2 sessions with this tea. The first time, I brewed it following my usual method for oolongs: water temperature starting at 190 F, gradually increased to boiling and steep times of 50s, 40s, 50s, 1m, 70s, 90s, 2m, and 3m. The tea however peaked a little early. The next time, I steeped according to the instructions on their website which recommend cooler water temperatures (185 – 195 F) and steep times of 30s, 45s, 1:30, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes. This brought out a lot more of those lovely floral top notes but also a touch of astringency, nothing off-putting though. Decent endurance however I received fewer infusions from it than other similar gaoshans.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a good green oolong and really enjoyed this sample. After my Taiwan Sourcing disaster, I was worried about how this order would turn out. Thankfully, this one had been sealed properly in oxygen-free packaging and tasted very fresh.
Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Citrus, Custard, Green Apple, Honeysuckle, Kettle Corn, Melon, Orchid, Vanilla
This was a really nice dan cong. Smooth, syrupy, and with interesting flavor characteristics that evolved throughout the steeps.
The dry leaf had potent aromas of plums, wildflower honey, and rocks. Following a rinse, these turned into camphor, eucalyptus, and toasted nuts. The tea started off roasty with a touch of honey. The roast soon faded and gave way to a maple like syrupy flavor and hint of cinnamon. More spice came in later, specifically nutmeg and cardamom. The body thickened and there was an orchid note in the finish and later on hints of eucalyptus/mint. Towards the end, the mouthfeel became quite drying though the tea itself remained nice and smooth.
Dan congs can be challenging to brew but this one was unfussy and extremely forgiving to brew times and temperatures. I enjoyed its balanced taste and mellow sweetness. My sample was nearly 2 years old so I can only imagine how good it must have been at its peak.
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Maple Syrup, Nutmeg, Orchid, Wet Rocks
Bleh, really wanted to like this tea but I could barely stomach it. I don’t know what Goji leaf is supposed to taste like – goji berries are the only goji food I’ve ever had – but this smelled and tasted like overcooked vegetables. I didn’t get any of the honey, biscuit, or fruity notes that Verdant described. My significant other though liked it better and remarked that it tasted like cauliflower to her. I guess it comes down to individual taste preferences, but this one has a weird vegetal taste that doesn’t jive with me.
This came as a sample with my last TTC order. Its a Taiwanese wuyi tea pressed into a small puerh like brick. I had no idea how to brew it so I decided to steep half of the 10g brick in a 120ml gaiwan with short steeps starting at 10s.
The dry leaf had a tobacco and wet rock aroma. I caught a whiff of sandalwood and incense following a rinse. The first steep produced a clear, sorta greenish light golden liquor. Smooth, tobacco-ey, and slightly smokey. The color turned a darker amber with the next steep which was again smooth and roasty but also had hints of black currant and bamboo. Third steep was more or less the same. The fourth steep though was thick, oily, and somewhat pungent and this is where I lost interest and ended the session.
Not a bad tasting tea, but isn’t something I would pick out on my own. It might be appealing to those looking for something aged without the funk of puerh. I’ll just stick to regular yanchas when I’m in the mood for this type of tea.
Flavors: Bamboo, Smoke, Tobacco, Wet Rocks
The lone bright spot from my Taiwan Sourcing order. This is an excellent dong ding with a salted caramel and pumpernickel bread aroma and a subtle roast that brings out a crisp, light character. It starts with floral notes and then quickly transitions to a smooth toasted pecan flavor with a little fruitiness kicking in later. It’s a great tea for grandpa steeping. Never gets muddled or bitter as long as you don’t hit it with full boiling water.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Pecan, Toasty, Walnut
Meh, yet another let-down from my Taiwan Sourcing order. So far I’m 0 for 3 with their green oolongs. All of the ones I’ve tried have been incredibly underwhelming. This one has a flat, nondescript oolong flavor. It’s brothy and mostly vegetal with a touch of green apple. There is a lot of broken leaf and dust in the bag leading to messy and uneven infusions. It only goes for about 4-5 steeps. Pretty disappointing overall.
Flavors: Apple, Broth, Sour, Vegetal
Attended a seminar last night where dinner was served. I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting for a while now – fast for 16 hours, eat within a 8 hour window – and have become accustomed to having dinner no later than 4:30pm on most days. Eating this late made me feel heavy and desperate for some tea to help digest it all.
The only option was the Keurig machine in the lobby and since beggars can’t be choosers, I grabbed a K-cup of this and went for it. It’s been ages since I’ve had Celestial Seasonings. Even in my heathen days of tea bags, I was never impressed by it. The Keurig brewed up 6oz of a tongue-scalding, murky amber liquor. This tea isn’t grassy like a typical green tea. It’s brisk and has the familiar roasty taste of gunpowder green tea – another tea I used to drink a long time ago. Not one that I would normally go for but sipping it felt nostalgic and helped calm my stomach. Decent in a pinch and would be nicer with a squeeze of lemon.