New Tasting Notes
I’m dipping into the backlog with this review. I finished a sample pouch of this tea late last week, but as I have not had consistent access to a computer, I have held off on posting a review of it until now. I tried another of What-Cha’s Harendong Jin Xuans last month and found it enjoyable. Since I have been a fan of the very few Indonesian oolongs I have tried and was curious to see how a dark roasted version of the previous tea held up, I dug out the sample of this tea and spent a good chunk of a day contemplating it. Of the two, this one was the clear winner in my eyes, but then again, I am willing to bet that I am more of a fan of the more heavily roasted Jin Xuans than many other people on Steepster.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of honey, raisin, and plum coming from the dry tea leaves. There was something of a woody quality on the nose as well. The rinse brought out a stronger wood scent as well as new aromas of char, peach, and orchid. The first proper infusion then brought out a baked bread aroma. In the mouth, the liquor offered smooth notes of raisin, plum, and peach underscored by indistinct berry tones on the entry. These notes soon gave way to hints of orchid, char, wood, cream, and honey. Subsequent infusions brought out the orchid on the nose and I began to pick up somewhat stronger notes of char, wood, honey, and cream in the mouth. New impressions of vanilla, minerals, dried blueberry, and black raspberry emerged alongside hints of grass, cooked greens, toasted grain, brown toast, and coffee. The later infusions offered lingering notes of minerals, cream, wood, and char balanced by fleeting hints of vanilla and coffee with occasional traces of honey and fruit sweetness after the swallow.
As dark roasted Jin Xuans go, this was very nice. It displayed admirable longevity over the course of a gongfu session as well as very respectable depth and complexity both on the nose and in the mouth. The body and texture of the tea liquor were both very satisfying, as the liquor displayed an appealing smoothness while still feeling substantial in the mouth. If you are at all interested in more heavily roasted oolongs, I am willing to bet that you will find a lot to love in this tea. Even if your preferences when it comes to oolongs run more toward the greener side of things, I will assert that this tea would still be worth a try for you.
Flavors: Blueberry, Brown Toast, Char, Coffee, Cream, Grain, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Orchid, Peach, Plums, Raisins, Raspberry, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood
I finished a pouch of this tea earlier in the day. I’m not sure which harvest it came from, but I want to say spring 2016. I could be wrong. Anyway, I seem to be an outlier when it comes to my opinion of this tea. I am a big fan of Shui Xian, but I was not all that sold on this one. I did not find it to be bad, but I did think it was a bit rough and perhaps a hair more astringent than it should have been. Some of that may have been due to the leaf quality. I noticed a lot of crushed and broken leaves in my pouch, and that troubled me, especially since this tea had been very carefully stored since I purchased it last year. It had not been placed near anything heavy. It had not even been handled or opened between the time it had been placed in storage and the time I first opened it last week.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves (more like a combination of leaves and leaf material) in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 4 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 6 seconds, 8 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of sandalwood, pine, rock sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg coming from the dry leaves. After the rinse, I found emerging hints of orchid. The first proper infusion then brought out a hint of roasted almond on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor expressed mild notes of sandalwood, orchid, pine, cinnamon, nutmeg, rock sugar, and roasted almond backed by hints of raisin, cream, and dandelion. Subsequent infusions brought out notes of smoke, tobacco, earth, cedar, juniper, charcoal, minerals, vanilla, orange, and narcissus. The finish really irked me on a few of these infusions. It would start off sweet and relatively fruity before turning acrid and astringent. The aftertaste was like a mixture of charcoal, dandelion leaf, dried tobacco, and smoke. Oddly, it softened and then smoothed out completely toward the end of the session, as the later infusions mostly offered notes of minerals, cream, charcoal, and pine balanced by hints of rock sugar, smoke, raisin, roasted almond, and orange here and there.
I don’t know about this one. Something was off here and I have no clue what it was. The tea clearly was not stale and still displayed more than enough depth and complexity to satisfy. It did not seem to have been contaminated by anything. I’ve had other Shui Xians from Verdant Tea in the past and all have been very enjoyable, and again, this was not remotely terrible or anything, it just was not wholly up to snuff in my eyes. I know I have been more than a bit spoiled when it comes to teas produced from the Shui Xian cultivar since I started with some extremely expensive old bush teas. I know the less than exceptional leaf quality I received in my pouch also likely played a part in the opinion I formed of this tea. I, however, still feel like I should have enjoyed this tea more than I did. Oh well, I suppose everyone has a number of teas they don’t enjoy quite as much as other people. I guess this ended up being one of those for me.
Flavors: Almond, Cedar, Char, Cinnamon, Cream, Dandelion, Earth, Mineral, Narcissus, Nutmeg, Orchid, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Sugar, Tobacco, Vanilla
Medium bodied with beautiful fruity smell (passion fruit). It really makes you feel like you are in a fruit orchard and evokes the feeling of sunny days.
There are strong grassy and mineral notes in the first few brews. Generally I found it to be very mineral. The sweetness is mostly present in the smell, not so much in the flavour. The taste is a little bit more more on the savoury side, but fairly complex. It does have some subtle egg yolk sweetness though.
There is a noticeable cooling effect and the tea gives a buzz that builds up slowly but peaks fairly strong.
Flavors: Eggnog, Fruit Tree Flowers, Grass, Mineral, Passion Fruits
Sipdown no. 31 of 2018 (no. 387 total).
The version I sipped down was called Homemade Apple Pie, but as I’m pretty certain I ordered it after tasting the sample I recorded in my original note, I am logging the sipdown here.
I thought I preferred the Canadian Maple Cream to this, but over time, perhaps my tastes changed. This isn’t bad. It does have an apple pie filling essence to it, but no crust. So I can’t give it full marks for living up to its name. Still, it was decent enough.
I drank this as a 50/50 soy milk/water latte and think chais are best steeped with milk. I liked this with milk a lot more than plain (plain I gave it a 38/100 rating before). It isn’t the best chai I have had, and the metallic licorice is really weird in it. Fennel, coriander, and anise are better chai ingredients IMO. I still have about 2 cups left, but I’m going to use it all up at once I think. It isn’t bad, and I’d drink it again if it was offered to me, but I wouldn’t buy it again. I don’t like that almost smokey base used in this blend, it adds nothing for a chai blend.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Licorice, Metallic, Mineral, Smoke, Spices, Sweet
Green apple, a nice green base (for short steeps only-will get very astringent and bitter if you brew for 3+ minutes). Slightly creamy, fruity, natural sweetness in the base. It makes a nice coldbrew if you can get the timing correct. I found more than once I ended up getting a lot of astringency before the majority of the flavour had steeped out of the leaves.
Flavors: Fruity, Green, Green Apple, Sweet, Vegetal
I seem to be having a good tea day. All of my cups have been fantastic so far.
I drank this as a latte, so I used a bit more leaf than I normally would (2 tsp). With the soy milk is is super creamy, smooth, and decadent. The richness is mostly the spices (nutmeg) in the tea, but soy milk is relatively thick and makes the tea richer. I don’t know if there is quite enough nutmeg for me (perhaps a sprinkle of nutmeg dust on top next time) but I do enjoy this blend.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Green, Nutmeg, Spices, Sweet
When I steeped this up, I expected exactly the same thing as what DTs delivers, or used to deliver. And nope. I don’t know how much of this is due to whatever is going on with my tastebuds and this flu-like thing that I have developed. I am not getting that beautiful tart berry thing accompanied by a bit of creaminess, but rather a kind of generic red herbal. It’s ok, but very whatever.
Sipdown no. 30 of 2018 (no. 386 total). A sample.
This time, I steeped at 212 for 3 minutes and it was a vast improvement. The rose was more muted than last time (which was fine, because it was too strong last time), and there was more flavor of the underlying tea discernible.
I’d drink this again, but unfortunately, they no longer carry it.
I’m literally having a cup of this right now after months, and I’m happy all over again! It smells and tastes exactly like its namesake – LEMON POUND CAKE! So magical, so nice, I have no complaints. But be sure not to add too much water if you’re using only one heaping teaspoon because then it tastes like nothing but hot water which is no fun lol.
Very fine, delicate, wiry leaves.
Prepared in my Jian Shui gaiwan, and served in my porcelain tea cup via my glass cha hai. Filtered Santa Monica municipal water just off the boil throughout.
Deep bole liquor with copper highlights; faintly floral and flinty aroma; brisk palate entry with hints of raisin and smoke (or nearly-burnt toast); dry almost chalky finish; low, raw, dusty cocoa flavor lingers on, especially with longer steep times (e.g. starting with 40 seconds rather than 15-20).
Refined and potent (caffeine is very present) but this tea has a certain “arid” quality to it so it isn’t one I would turn to for comfort.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a Yunnan I didn’t like. I cracked this one open because I’d forgotten I had it and I seem to be on a bit of a Rishi kick lately.
This one has small, dark (almost black) twisty leaves, with golden ones for highlight and contrast. It smells sweet and bready in the packet.
It smells wonderful. It has that rich, dark (smoldering, really), malty, chocolatey, baked bread, peppery thing going on that gets me every time. The smell is the same smell that gives the ATR and Samovar breakfast and Earl Grey blends their depth and complexity over that of others.
It’s not quite as chewy in the taste as those, but it’s smooth and sweet with a bit of molasses and pepper.
It’s a sexy tea. :-)
Flavors: Baked Bread, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Molasses, Pepper
This tea has unbeatable dry leaf aroma. The wet leaf smell is also very enticing, sweet and soothing. It reminds me of beef broth, leek and some kind of cookie which I couldn’t identify.
The taste is a mix between nutty/floral taste of Long Jing and vegetal/umami taste of Sencha. At low temperatures it is more brothy and floral at higher temperatures the astringency and nuttiness is more present.
If you like green tea, you absolutely shouldn’t hesitate with this one. You won’t be disappointed.
Flavors: Broth, Cookie, Leeks, Nutty, Sweet, warm grass, Vegetal
I had this before and didn’t enjoy it because I believe I messed up my sample so luckily Evol Ving Ness was kind enough to share and that along with the sample I purchased was able to make a latte (the prep method for this tea that Evol suggested).
Unfortunately, this is once again falling flat. I get creamy milk, a grassy quality from the base and something that is coming off very buttery. Not my favorite and definitely what I am hoping for from this cup. Perhaps the milk is drowning out the tea. Perhaps the comparison to the actual carrot cake I had recently is too hard to compete with. Or, perhaps this just isn’t for me.
Thank you Evol for the chance to revisit this :)
I am coming down with something flu-like: burning chest, raspy throat, headache, nose thing. Today is Family Day here. Hopefully, these unpleasant neighbours of mine will be off doing family things somewhere else. Their toddler woke me at about 2 am this morning and I had difficulty getting back to a solid sleep after that. Their 8 year old started playing some sort of pinball sounding video game this morning with the accompanying pings, dings, dongs, and shrieks when he got a goal or whatever on the thing. I pray that his attention span with this thing is short. Really short.
I try not to curse these people, but truly, it is hard. Really hard. Spending time at home is no longer pleasant for me because I can’t predict what my ambiance will be.
Is today going to be another drunken adult party with laughter and liquored up joking and screaming? Or will I be eating my lunch to the tinny sounds of video games and soccer game type cheering of the kid and his whole extended family? Or is the toddler going to be having a tantrum while I attempt to make my way through my cup of tea and a novel?
This tea though is fab. Despite my nasal and possibly tastebud issues from this emerging flu, I am getting a dense bread, like banana bread but peach, baked good type flavour, supported by rich black tea base and peach and berry and something slightly caramelized. Masterful combination of flavours. And the warm tea is doing wonders for my throat.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Berry, Peach
Still a very good tea, even with how old it must be now (I’m afraid to check). The raspberry is a little bit up front and much more in the aftertaste and it’s quite creamy. The rooibos is pretty subdued to my taste buds, which is good because I’m not a huge fan of it.
Such an enormous task list at work today, hopefully this tea will help me get through the morning items.