Featured & New Tasting Notes
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Keemun, Laoshan Black, or any other non- What-cha Golden Snail black tea (so good). I’ve forgotten how comforting they are in their cocoa-malt predictability, and subtle but rich profiles. I thought I was over Chinese black teas; it’s probably the time of year? Oolong is out, black tea and white tea are in- I need to draw a better year plan for my tea drinking habits so I’m not struggling at the height of tea-drinking season.
Anyways, this one is really red. Red is good. Red is warm. Red is Christmas. I’m drinking this in a festive red cup too. Lots of red happening.
I’ll write a more thoughtful note later.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Fruity, Malt, Muscatel, Red Wine, Stonefruits
Strong mineral note, a little bit of honeyed sweetness, and a little bit of generic “sheng-y” taste. No “green” or chlorophyl taste. It’s a little bit thick in the mouth, a little bit astringent, and there’s a little bit of lingering aroma in the mouth. Not much bitterness or potency of flavor.
It’s definitely easy drinking for a young sheng, but overall it’s just ok. I was expecting more potency and bitterness from a young Hekai tea. I’m interested to see what the “ancient tree” version will be like.
Flavors: Honey, Mineral
Here is yet another tea I forgot I had in my collection. I went ahead and polished off it at the end of last week. I think I have now finally finished all of the green teas from last year. Drinking the Keemun Maofeng and this back-to-back meant that I spent a couple days overloading on teas from Anhui Province, but hey, it was fun. I used to really love Huangshan Maofeng, but now I’m not so sure. Since I have been gravitating more and more toward green teas from Shandong, Fujian, Zhejiang, and Yunnan Provinces, it seems that I have been losing interest in many of the green teas produced elsewhere. By the time I finally got around to this one, it oddly did not seem like it had faded all that much, but I could not muster much of an opinion of it. It wasn’t bad, but unfortunately, it just struck me as being the sort of tea for which I would simply have to be in a certain mood to fully appreciate.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a flash rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 170 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by infusions of 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted pleasant, though fairly fleeting aromas of butter, grass, and green beans. After the rinse, I began to pick up scents of chestnut and pine. The first proper infusion brought forth a slightly malty aroma. In the mouth, I found hints of malt, grass, and chestnut backed by touches of butter, green beans, wet stones, and bizarrely enough, flowers. Subsequent infusions brought out strong pine impressions coupled with more robust notes of chestnut, green beans, butter, malt, grass, and wet stones. The floral impressions remained elusive, though I was reminded somewhat of both chrysanthemum and marigold at times. I also began to note emerging impressions of soybean, minerals, straw, and lettuce underscored by a slightly smoky presence. From the start of the session through its conclusion, the mouthfeel grew more and more mineral-heavy and alkaline. The later infusions were heavy on mineral, wet stone, and malt notes, though I could still just barely detect impressions of chestnut, lettuce, and grass.
A rather interesting tea, I enjoyed its very sharp, hard mouthfeel and pleasant mix of aromas and flavors, but I must knock it somewhat since it faded so quickly. Also, while I enjoyed the sharper, harder-edged mouthfeel for the most part, I would be willing to bet that it won’t be for everyone. If nothing else, this session reminded me of why Huangshan Maofeng normally seems to be a cult tea in the West. In the end, this was pretty good, but I would not want to have it regularly.
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Pine, Smoke, Soybean, Straw, Wet Rocks
Having been super busy with work over the past few weeks, continual plans to visit DAVIDsTEA to redeem my points for 100g worth of tea kept getting foiled, so of course, when I finally got there today, it was too late as they expired on the 3rd. Damn. I kept thinking I had until the end of the calendar year.
But I was able to still redeem my free birthday cup of tea from last month. I chose this because I didn’t feel like dealing with their sugary sweet blends this time around. It was ok but expectedly astringent, so astringent that it covered up most of the plum notes I was picking up on. Nothing memorable, to be honest.
This was never added to my cupboard count so I am back up to 341 (technically more since the 12 teas of Christmas arrived yesterday) but that’s okay. I made this as an eggnog latte while simultaneously setting up a chocolate milk cold brew of Candy Cane Crush. This really is one tasty eggnog latte and I think because it is two beloved childhood flavors – cotton candy and bubblegum, which is the flavor I sometimes get from eggnog lattes. Yum!
Smoky black teas are not something I reach for regularly, but they have some sort of allure that keeps me coming back (albeit irregularly). Outlaw has a little more allure than most and kept me amused all last night (erm, unintentional Tobias moment).
Honestly though, I think I like this one. It’s something to do with the flat cherry vanilla coke vibe I’m picking up (I mean that in the most flattering way). It also reminds me of the time I got to lick a cave in Poland (mineral notes, kay). It’s a lot of fun, and I’m sitting somewhere in the 80’s on it. I’m going to hold off rating for a bit because I’m not having as strong a reaction to it as I did with the Black Lodge (I think someone thought that name to be nostalgic and homey, but all it makes me think of is some horror story).
And just look at all the parentheses it inspired me to use!
Flavors: Cherry, Mineral, Smoke
CrowKettle wrote yesterday " It’s an unholy merging of pure things that brings one to weeping in disgust and horror." LOL – ok – I just received my tin of this, so of course I had to try it.
While I may not be getting the same notes that she did – not getting the smoked bacon – I’m agreeing with the sentiment in that statement.
My first impression was charred black rotten mushrooms. As it cools that’s changing to 6 hour old burned to the bottom of the pot coffee.
I added a little sweetener and a splash (or more than a splash of milk)…. Now there is some banana in here but I’m not sure that’s a good addition to this party.
There is no doubt that this is an AU smoked tea, they all have something a little odd in the back. This isn’t a little odd…….
ETA: Because I’m a sucker for punishment I did a 2nd steep. I did 95C 4 minutes. I added sweetener and milk. The smoke has been shoved way to the back. There is some caramel banana in here (but some of that might be the sweetener). I’m also getting meaty/mushroom/umami something that I wouldn’t call truffle. This is better but still way too strange……
Free same in our group what-cha order. I tried this one today so i can divy up the rest of it for VariaTEA and Evolvingness. On the whole, not one i’d order for myself, though i generally like roastier oolongs. Had a cup of this while i tried to make wonton soup from scratch! haha. All in all, a decent cup but nothing to knock my socks off. IE. glad i tried it but that’s enough for me.
last cup of the evening i think since i don’t really have any herbals. I’ve been baking this week and for those here who know me..i LOVE orange creamsicles…every time there’s an orange creamsicle tea, i have to try it. Well i found a recipe for orange creamsicle cookies…so i made them and DAMN they are so good. I’ve eaten like 5 already. along side this tea – they were an incredible treat.
Final Count: 36
Dexter sent this to me in another life and i’ve finally picked some up for my cupboard since i had ZERO keemuns! This harvest isn’t smokey, but it is a tea that i’ll be adding a drop of maple syrup to when i take it in the travel mug i think. It’s got a bit of a cocoa feeling to it but not overly so….there’s a depth here that i am enjoying.
So, I woke up today thinking oolong.
I am just starting with the first steep and I have honeyed malt—a bit like honey black— against a floral backdrop. Interesting. Unusual. Nice.
Now, as much as I’d like to continue lounging around in my flannel pjs drinking tea on this massively foggy day, I am revving myself up to go participate in some movement. Part of my inspiration is that yesterday I left one of my travel mugs in my locker at the gym and I need it for my multiple steepings in the coming days. So I may as well go have a workout. You guys can be my witnesses as I get into motion. Getting up now….
Thank you, Crowkettle. A lovely entry into the selection you so generously shared with me.
The steeps will continue. Stay tuned.
Well, I drank this until the steeps gave up almost nothing. So, yay! Deliciousness!
And it’s a sip down! I’d happily order this one the next time What-Cha hears from me.
My friend got this as her tea and honestly I think I just drank her tea more than mine. The consensus was between the four of our teas, this was the best. It was floral and certainly an oolong but a creamy vanilla/buttery oolong with a honeysuckle type floral that was really nice. Plus it held up to the teapot prep method that seemed to lead to the other teas being oversteeped. Not to mention we added more water to the leaves and it still had a lot of flavor. I’d drink this again.
I’ve had a request to start writing tasting notes again. This confuses me, I stopped writing notes because I felt I didn’t have anything interesting to say. There are lots of people here who are more articulate and have a better palate than I do. But as requested, here goes…
Tonight I’m just hanging out at home, watching the hockey game, petting the cat, eating banana bread, drinking this tea.
I normally choose and prefer China black teas, but it’s always nice to break it up with something different. This one is light with the high notes I would expect from a Taiwan black. It’s really fruity – normally I would think grape/wine fruity in this style but these are stone fruit notes. There is also some tannin (?) and a little suck the moisture out of your mouth thing. There is also a little smokiness as it cools. I don’t feel this style will every be my favorite but this was fun to try and I think it’s different enough from a typical Taiwan black to make it interesting.
Thanks Evol for sharing.
Given the various shuffling around DTs has done with its Frequent Steeper program, I wasn’t sure whether the birthday cups of tea were still offered. I have not been patronizing DTs much since their boom of imitation flavours and massive sweetener additions to the dry leaf itself. Not to mention the dramatic price hikes—ouf! The overhaul of the FS/ loyalty point program was the nail in the coffin for me, so to speak. I was done.I still go in to try samples of what is steeping because I remain open to being convinced that they are offering something for someone like me and because generally speaking, I like a lot of their staff, but as a blender/company, what they are doing is not something I am interested in supporting.
Nonetheless, I popped in to see if there was still the FS birthday free cup of tea for me as I am still celebrating my birthday month. And yay, there was.
I chose this one because frankly, it is the only one of theirs that am curious about. And a tea fren was kind enough to send me a What-Cha sample of the same which I look forward to exploring this week.
My lovely DTs server was kind enough to pop my teaspoon of tea into a teabag and into an empty cup for me so that I could steep it up at proper temperature and enjoy it at home rather fight my way through rush hour traffic on public transit with a dripping teabag hanging out of a paper to go cup. Good choice that was.
This tea truly is intoxicating in both scent and flavour. I am on my fifth steep. The sweet sticky rice and the floral oolong flow into a lovely balance of flavours. I predict that I can still get three more flavourful steeps out of this. Let us see.
edit—Yup, still flavourful at eight steeps. Very much enjoyed this one.
I’d like to have this in my cupboard and would if the price were not so prohibitive. Still, it was nice to have the opportunity to spend my day with this.
I would rate this between 90 and 100 based on taste and sipping experience, but based on price, I am lowering that rating.
Just went on their website to check prices and this tea is no longer listed, so I guess they are phasing it out, but based on their other oolongs, 100 grams of this tea would be between 20 and 22 dollars plus tax, so something along the lines of 25 dollars (which for Americans, is approximately 3.5 ounces).
Oh, and it’s a sip down!
Opening the bag I get a roasty and sugary aroma. Reminds me a bit of kettle corn at the state fair. (In a good way) Brews a medium light orange, a bit lighter than the Rou Gui.
Very rich and thick in the mouth. Notes of rock sugar, caramel, minerals, roast, and flowers with a slight “green” quality. The floral note isn’t airy like jasmine, it’s more thick and heavy like bulb flowers; tulip or hyacinth. Besides sugar and caramel, the sweetness reminds me of a really good, really fresh, really sweet raw onion. That may sound like a turn off, but I mean it in the best way possible. This is a very nice tea, but not as much to my personal tastes as the Rou Gui.
Flavors: Caramel, Floral, Mineral, Popcorn
I’m getting to this one later than anticipated. What’s new, right? A couple months ago, I developed a plan to do a shootout of Toba Wangi teas, but I never got around to it and that bothered me. As tea producers go, Toba Wangi absolutely fascinates me. A newer producer, they have established two estates in West Java, one producing cultivars of Camellia sinensis var. sinensis and one producing cultivars of Camellia sinensis var. assamica. While Indonesia is mostly known in the West for producing commercial black teas, Toba Wangi produces a range of high quality teas and is becoming increasingly known for their green teas and oolongs. Since I still had samples of a number of their teas, I decided to revive my Toba Wangi shootout idea last week. I then decided to limit myself to two teas and ended up selecting this tea (produced from the Gambung 7 cultivar of Camellia sinensis var. assamica) and a green tea made from a cultivar of Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, for which I will hopefully be posting a review very shortly. What was the verdict? Both were winners.
I prepared this tea in my familiar, personalized version of gongfu style. I often do not rinse green teas, but opted to here. After a true flash rinse (literally water on, water off), I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered unique aromas of lemon, grass, and something of a restrained sheng-like funk. The rinsed leaves offered stronger lemon and grass aromas coupled with emerging scents of nuts, malt, and hay. A hint of grapefruit was just barely detectable, and of course, the previously mentioned sheng-like funkiness was still present. The first infusion brought out a hint of wood on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor expressed mild notes of lemon, nuts, malt, hay, grass, and a slight funk. Subsequent infusions brought out the grapefruit on the palate as well as notes of straw, spinach, seaweed, herbs, and pine. Clearly defined notes of chestnut, walnut, and beechnut appeared, and I also caught some interesting impressions of tart cherry, sour plum, lettuce, minerals, sorghum, and artichoke lurking around the fringes. The later infusions saw a pronounced increase in mineral presence. Rather faint impressions of nuts, malt, grass, lettuce, seaweed, and spinach were there too, as was something of a subtle funk.
I tend to like green teas produced from assamica cultivars and I also tend to like quite a few non-Chinese green teas. With the previously expressed tendencies in mind, it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed this tea as much as I did. It displayed considerable depth and complexity on the nose and in the mouth, yet it was never overwhelming or unapproachable. I find teas like this to be as fun and engaging as they are challenging and would have no issue recommending this tea to fans of traditional Yunnan green teas or green tea drinkers looking for something a little exotic.
Flavors: Artichoke, Cherry, Chestnut, Grapefruit, Grass, Hay, Herbs, Lemon, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Nutty, Pine, Plums, Seaweed, Spinach, Straw, Walnut