Featured & New Tasting Notes

81

Sloppy Gong Fu.

- Four infusions
- Really smooth; thick mouthfeel and no astringency
- Malt, cocoa, sweet potato, grains, honey, stonefruit
- In that order!
- Also some red fruit undertones
- Some of the most gorgeous dry leaf I’ve seen in literal months!

Really enjoyed it; will try to do better notes next time.

Daylon R Thomas

Sloppy Gong Fu. I love it.

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98

Sipdown (231)!

Second hard sipdown of the week…

Finished this one off hot, straight and pure. That back to basics style of finishing it off seemed the most appropriate way to honor this tea – my first Butiki tea. It’ll be missed, always. The best watermelon tea I’ve EVER tasted, and likely ever will.

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100

At 7 am, I was awoken by the noise of metal clanging against metal, closely followed by drilling and hammering, at what felt and sounded like inches away from my head. Oh, contractors ordered by my neighbours to do whatever on the roof and eavestroughs and drainpipes and what all else.

A couple of hours later, I receive an email from one of the neighbours stating that the contractors will be at work today and tomorrow. No mention of what they are doing and where they will be working so that I can plan for that. The vagueness gives two options: stay and be woken and/or disturbed and have your day disrupted or stay gone.

And oh yeah, thanks for letting me know.

I am wondering how challenging it is to be considerate of other people, really? Truly I am at a loss to understand this lack of connection and understanding towards the people around you.

Am I asking for too much here? How difficult is it to shoot an email a day or two in advance saying, hey, it’s going to be noisy from when to when and where and where because blah blah blah is going to be happening. Just wanted to let you know so that your day won’t be disturbed.

Bah!

Thankfully, I reached for this this morning. I just happened upon it and boom, stellar!

I am having it with sriracha peas for breakfast.

Three steeps of deliciousness.

Flavors: Earth, Peach

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
teepland

Even though the day started off badly, at least you had a tea that good to make it better. Hopefully, that made you forget about the inconsiderate neighbors. :(

CrowKettle

Are these the same terrible neighbours that are inconsiderate at night or a whole new set?

Your situation would drive me wild, but I’m glad you at least have awesome tea!

Fjellrev

It’s always something, eh? When will it ever stop…

Evol Ving Ness

Yes, indeed. These are the same ones with the crying/shrieking infant, 24 hour beeping and ringing devices in the bedroom, the early morning exercise on wooden floors that sounds like jackhammers, and so on.

Things appear to be getting somewhat better after extended communication on my part. But forethought, consideration, and reaching out to communicate do not seem to be fortes.

Evol Ving Ness

And yes, the situation does and has been driving me wild.

mrmopar

sriracha says it all. Good stuff!

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90

My sample is a nice, loosely pressed piece of cake with medium sized green leaves. Smells very “green.”

Brews a medium yellow. This is a medium strength young sheng with medium-low bitterness. Super strong honey aroma and flavor, the bottom of my cha hai smells just like warm honey. Other notes of green wood, clay, wildflowers, and grain/baked goods.

This is a very nice tea, especially for being on the cheaper end of YS’s 2016 lineup. It’s a shame though how pu’erh prices have gone up since I started the habit, I remember when I bought the 2012 Wuliang in 2012 it was only $25-ish.

Flavors: Clay, Flowers, Grain, Green Wood, Honey, Mineral

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 90 ML
tanluwils

I really liked this one. Very clear and pale liquor. Clay is an interesting note!

tperez

It’s a good tea! I guess you could also call it a “mineral” taste, but it reminded me of the smell of the clay when I took some ceramic classes.

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60

Not feeling this one. I like the berry aspect. I like citrus. I like spice. The combination of this, however, in my cup is not working for me. The berry is there. However, the citrus I am getting is the bitterness of lime rind. And the spice I am getting is mostly clove. The base is nice though coming through with occasional creamy notes. I’d like more berry. And possibly vanilla to sweep in and soothe the what to me are discordant flavours.

Flavors: Berry, Clove, Lime

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 2 OZ / 59 ML
Fjellrev

Oh no, I ordered this but haven’t tried it yet.

Evol Ving Ness

Perhaps your experience will be different! This one has fans.

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There is no way to describe how clear and clean tasting this is other than to say it reminds me of a non roasted Taiwanese oolong. The two leaf and a bud pieces within this tea is beautiful.

Highly recommend grabbing a sample of this if you like easy going new sheng :)

Liquid Proust

This is the raw puerh and not the white tea.

Daylon R Thomas

Okay, that’s what I thought. I tried to see if I could find it on their website and had a hard time finding it.

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80

I’ve been holding off on this review for most of the day, but I finally decided to just go ahead and post it. This is apparently intended to be Whispering Pines’ house green tea, the sort of basic tea one may generally refer to as a “daily drinker.” I do not know much about this tea’s origin-the Whispering Pines website did not go into specifics-but I’m willing to bet this tea is Chinese in origin. A glance at the leaves revealed that this is a Bi Luo Chun, so this has to be Chinese, right? Teas of this type traditionally come from Jiangsu Province, but these days they also come from Yunnan, Sichuan, Zhejiang, and even Fujian Provinces. If I had to place it’s origin, I would guess Yunnan Province, but beyond asking the vendor directly, it’s not like I can be sure. Regardless of this tea’s origin, I found it to be a basic, pleasant, drinkable green tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. I usually do not rinse green teas, but I decided to do so here. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 175 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 35 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of grass, asparagus, bamboo, sorghum, and smoke. After the rinse, I detected wood and straw. The first infusion brought out hints of nuts and spinach. In the mouth, I detected mild notes of smoke, asparagus, grass, straw, wood, bamboo, and sorghum underscored by traces of nuts and spinach. Subsequent infusions brought out spinach, chestnut, hazelnut, seaweed, mandarin orange, lime zest, pine, green pea, corn husk, and mineral impressions. The later infusions were dominated by straw, mineral, seaweed, spinach, and wood notes underscored by subtle smoke, pea, grass, and citrus impressions.

This was not a bad tea. It would most definitely do the trick as a reliable, basic house green tea. I, however, had difficulty giving it my full attention over the course of a session. In truth, I found it kind of predictable. It did not surprise me much at all. I expect a lot out of the offerings from Whispering Pines Tea Company, so maybe I’m being somewhat harsh, but I just don’t think this tea compares to many of their other offerings. Also, I feel that while it is a quality green tea, I think it may be a hair too expensive for what it is. In the end, I would say that this tea is worth a try, but there are better teas of this type out there, and it is certainly not representative of the best this particular vendor has to offer.

Flavors: Asparagus, Bamboo, Chestnut, Citrus, Corn Husk, Grass, Hazelnut, Lime, Mineral, Peas, Pine, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Straw, Wood

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I think Whispering Pines is better for the blends or pure tea that you rarely see. The other stuff is overpriced for me if I can find an equivalent for cheaper. I enjoyed the mouth feel of that particular tea for how clean it was along with its overall crispness. I’m also looking forward to the Jade and Four Seasons Oolong from What-Cha. I’m so close to pulling the trigger on them lol.

eastkyteaguy

Daylon, I used to order from Whispering Pines rather frequently, but I have increasingly turned towards other vendors over the last 6-8 months or so. I adore their Yunnan black teas, some of their oolongs, and their blends, but their catalog is small and I have not been favoring the kinds of teas Whispering Pines tends to offer lately. Yunnan Sourcing, Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company, and What-Cha are my favorite vendors at the moment.

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78

Bought this because I thought it would be interesting to try a tea from Georgia, the former Soviet Province, not the US State. This tea is relatively good. It is slightly bitter and it has a strong malt flavor to it. There is more depth to this tea though and I would say it has a bit of a fruity character largely in the background. Overall I like this tea.

I steeped this tea on time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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85

I picked the most generic looking Tieguanyin to start me on my +15 guanyin journey.

I did a short rinse, and a first gongfu steep of about “how long it takes to open up a little and for the water to change colour.” The aroma is incredibly floral, like jasmine with a smudge of lilac. This carries over into the flavour profile, which is a buttery floral bouquet.

Second and third infusions are incredibly sweet, with a vegetal element. Just to show that my family doesn’t have a flower nose, my mom said this cup smelled like “rose, dandelion, sweet, orange blossom.” Name all the flowers and eventually one will be right. We can all agree it smells and tastes “beautiful” though.

Fourth and fifth infusions became increasingly mellow and smooth. The floral notes have taken on a backseat role and become more of a soft honeysuckle. The vegetal sweetness is front and center.

I had to cut this session here, which is too bad because this was slowly becoming more and more delicious.

Steep Count: 5

(2016 Harvest)

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Jasmine, Peas, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C
tea-sipper

psst… I think you started with the best Tie Guan Yin. :D

CrowKettle

I suspect you may be right, but there are many more oolong samples to work through!

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90

[Note: I just realized that the version of this tea I have been working on is the 2016 harvest from Yunnan Sourcing. I have deleted the previous review that I mistakenly posted under the Yunnan Sourcing US heading. Please note, however, that the content remains unchanged.]

After mowing down a couple of smaller samples, I decided to take a break and spend some time with a tea I had been looking forward to reviewing for at least a month. Of the Wuyi oolong cultivars, Shui Jin Gui is one of the most revered, and it is also often one of the most expensive. Apparently, Shui Jin Gui is very sensitive and does not yield in large quantities even in the best of years, making it one of the pricier Wuyi oolongs and one of the more difficult to obtain. I found this particular Shui Jin Gui very appealing.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 additional 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. While I enjoyed the tea, I was not totally happy with my gongfu method this time around and I will be attempting to tweak it a bit in my next session.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves produced aromas of char, wood, smoke, spices, and dark chocolate. The rinse saw the previously mentioned aromas intensify. They were also joined by hints of damp grass, stone fruits, rock sugar, and coffee. The first infusion brought out touches of vanilla bean, roasted almond, caramel, and distinct impressions of cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet ginger. In the mouth, I picked up notes of dark chocolate, wood, char, sweet ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, rock sugar, caramel, and smoke underscored by coffee, damp grass, and stone fruits. Subsequent infusions brought out the vanilla bean and stone fruit impressions. I began to get distinct notes of yellow plum and apricot. I also began to note emerging mineral, butter, and tobacco notes, as well as touches of camphor, clove, hay, and eucalyptus. The tea was quick to wash out, which is not all that unusual for Wuyi oolongs, though I am fairly certain that part of it was due to the brewing methodology I employed for this session. The mineral notes became much more pronounced and I began to detect notes of butterscotch and buttered popcorn. When I really focused in, I could still detect traces of tobacco, damp grass, char, wood, smoke, vanilla bean, and perhaps a touch of dark chocolate at one or two points. Yunnan Sourcing’s product description insisted there were notes of sweet potato in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find them. Yunnan Sourcing was, however, right about this tea being difficult to describe.

This was a fun and interesting tea. I am not certain my description does it justice; the aroma and flavor components were mellow, well-integrated, and constantly shifting. Every time I dug into it, I got impressions of something new. I would definitely recommend this tea to fans of traditional Wuyi oolongs. It’s not exactly a bargain, but it’s not nearly as expensive as other examples of this cultivar I have seen, and for the price, it has a ton to offer.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Butter, Butterscotch, Camphor, Caramel, Char, Cinnamon, Clove, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Grass, Hay, Leather, Mineral, Nutmeg, Plums, Popcorn, Smoke, Sugar, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Ken

I have some of this tea on its way to me, from YS last oolong sale, so im kinda curious, what did you feel didnt work right, too little lead, too much leaf? 6 to 120 seems about standard at 1 to 20.

eastkyteaguy

Ken, I felt the amount of leaf used was appropriate, but I could have paced this session better. In the future, I plan on starting with a longer first infusion and spreading out the middle infusions in order to hopefully prolong the tea’s peak.

Ken

Gotcha, Ill let you know my thoughts when it gets here in about 2 weeks.

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80

This is a very nice tea. It is a complex mix of malt, dark chocolate, and a certain amount of fruity flavor. It is very good. So far all the teas I have gotten from Vahdam Teas have been good teas. None of them were bad at all. This one is not as nice as their first flush Darjeelings but is very good. Tasates more like a black tea than the first flush that is for sure.

I brewed this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper witih 3 tsp leaf and 190 degree water for 3 minutes. I will probably go back for a resteep.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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85
drank Mudslide by DAVIDsTEA
1412 tasting notes

“Oddly accurate” as my mother describes it. The rooibos base is great (flavours of honey, cake, sweet and rooibosy goodness), creamy mocha coffee, carob, rich cocoa, milk (despite no milk ingredients in this blend), and coffee beans. The cocoa + cream + coffee + sweet rooibos is just perfect for the name of the blend. I’m impressed at the unique blend, as I’ve not had coffee flavoured tea before. Plus, this is low caffeine (trace amounts from the coffee beans and chocolate chips, but not the same levels as a black base.

This is sweet enough on its own, but it is fabulous iced or hot. Both ways would be good with milk, especially almond or cashew milk for a nutty taste.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee, Creamy, Espresso, Honey, Milk, Mocha, Rooibos, Sweet

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 1 tsp 19 OZ / 550 ML
Michelle

I love it iced with soy milk :) Yummy

Fjellrev

Oh, interesting that they came out with this one. Will need to try it too!

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83

This scented Jin Xuan is slightly more nuanced and subdued than the other Milk Oolong I’m drinking alongside it. It distinctly and consistently smells and tastes of creamy mango pudding. Sometimes that mango morphs into peach yogurt, which is equally fun. The pink-orange stone fruits with cream vibe make for a nice springtime cup.

Oddly enough, I find this one to have a powdery texture, but that may be my relationship with those particular fruit notes.

Steep Count: 3

I had some roasted seaweed with the last cup and somehow that doubled the mango flavouring. Food pairings work in mysterious ways.

(2016 Harvest)

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Mango, Peach, Umami, Vegetal, Yogurt

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Evol Ving Ness

Why only an 80? For me, mango pudding is definitely a win. And then morphing into peach yogurt? Could it get any better?

CrowKettle

In a nutshell, a) the scented nature means it doesn’t resteep as well as I’d like and the flavours get static b) I don’t find myself wanting to drink it too often, c) it’s low on the reorder list, especially compared to the other amazing what-cha teas I’ve had.

But it is tasty, and I seem to like it more every time I drink it so I may tweak it. Ex- I started today preferring Teavivre’s milk oolong in a pinch, but now that I’m done I think I prefer how this one’s unique and less brutal flavouring progressed. This is my ongoing Steepster rating struggle and probably why no one should take me too seriously. XD

Daylon R Thomas

I remember it being on the light side Evol,especially compared to the Taiwaneese one, but I’m gonna double check.

Daylon R Thomas

Yeah, my note confirms it. I was debating on retrying it in my next What-Cha order, which is more than likely going to be A LOT of green oolongs with a few Darjeeling blacks.

CrowKettle

Yes! It’s currently the lightest scented jin xuan in my cupboard, which isn’t a bad thing but I was a tad underwhelmed when I tried it for the first time. :)

Evol Ving Ness

Thank you both for unpacking that.

Totally feel your pain with the ongoing Steepster rating struggle, CrowKettle.

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80

Over the weekend, I came to the realization that I still have far too many tea samples lying around the house. I get bored with things pretty quickly, so I tend to mostly order samples rather than larger amounts of tea. Rather than keeping the amount of tea on hand low, however, I just end up with mountains of 10 gram samples. So, I am now working feverishly toward reducing the number of tea samples I have. I started working on this one last night and finished the last of it this morning before going to work. I found it to be an interesting oolong, but I do not think it would be something I would want to have on a regular basis.

I tried preparing this tea two ways. First, I conducted a three step Western session in which I steeped 4 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 195 F water for 2, 3, and finally 5 minutes. I was not impressed by the results. I was expecting strong aromas and flavors due to the amount of leaf I was using, but the liquor was very mild and subtle each time. I then used the remaining 6 grams for a gongfu session. After a very quick rinse, I steeped what I had left in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by infusions of 12 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. The results were much more interesting this time around, so I will be limiting this review to a description of the results of this session only.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted subtle aromas of honey, cream, cinnamon, and grass. There was a floral presence too that I could not identify. After the rinse, I detected clear aromas of lilac, hyacinth, lily, and honeysuckle. The cream, cinnamon, and grass were still there, but I also began to catch hints of spring honey and vanilla frosting. The first infusion produced a similar bouquet, though the vanilla frosting, cinnamon, honey, and floral aromas were stronger. They were also now joined by hints of saffron and coriander. In the mouth, however, the liquor was extremely mild. Flavors of cream, butter, grass, cinnamon, and vanilla frosting were evident and there were traces of flowers and honey toward the finish, but not much else. Subsequent infusions saw the honeysuckle, lily, lilac, and hyacinth appear somewhat more clearly on the palate while the already noted impressions of cinnamon, butter, cream, vanilla frosting, and grass strengthened. The coriander and saffron arrived as well. I also noted the emergence of impressions of hay, cucumber, beeswax, and an indistinct nuttiness. Interestingly enough, the tea, despite its complexity, was dominated by a clean, pure honey tone that sat atop the other aromas and flavors. The final infusions briefly featured clean, pure honey notes, but were soon dominated by cream, butter, grass, and a mineral presence that emerged later than anticipated. At points, I thought I could detect cinnamon and vanilla frosting lingering in the background.

This was a very complex oolong, but the dominant honey impressions made it seem lighter and simpler than it was. Fans of very honeyed aromas and flavors would probably love it, but I was hoping to see the honey integrate more with the other aromas and flavors. Still, this was a quality tea (glancing at the lovely, full leaves was confirmation of that) and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a respectable high mountain oolong. It just was not what I was expecting. In the end, I liked it, but it did not offer what I tend to look for in Ali Shan oolongs.

Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Frosting, Grass, Hay, Honey, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Nuts, Saffron, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
teepland

I always enjoy reading your reviews—you have so much detail in them. Very helpful!

eastkyteaguy

As always, thank you for the kind words.

Evol Ving Ness

I second that. Thank you for the care and effort you take in your reviews. Much appreciated.

Daylon R Thomas

Third that. They are helpful, especially for oolongs because people tend to use the same descriptors for them after a while whereas you are much more specific.

CrowKettle

I love your reviews too. Next time I get in head to go on an oolong shopping spree I’m giving them their much deserved weight :)

Daylon R Thomas

Wow, thanks! People do better reviews for their favorite types of tea anyway lol.

CrowKettle

eastkyteaguy & Daylon R Thomas: currently my main references for everything oolong related.

eastkyteaguy

Thanks everyone. I appreciate the feedback.

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82

Before I begin this review, allow me to state that I do not normally go out of my way to buy old tea. If I buy an older tea, I will always buy from the most recent harvest. Well, I guess I should say that’s what I almost always do. This was an impulse buy a month or two ago. I was placing an order with Yunnan Sourcing US and wanted to tack on another tea just for the sake of justifying the shipping cost a little more in my head. I couldn’t find anything else new and interesting, but then I saw this tea. It sounded interesting and I had been trying to spur myself to become more familiar with Dan Cong oolongs, so I bought it. I figured the worst case scenario would be that I wouldn’t like it or that it might be a little weak. Fortunately, neither ended up being the case and that should not have surprised me. Yunnan Sourcing always seems to do a great job maintaining and storing their teas and I found that to once again be the case here.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 7 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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. I’m still trying to get used to that whole pack the gaiwan to the brim thing that many Dan Cong enthusiasts do. I’m also still trying to figure out a gongfu method that works for me when it comes to brewing these teas as I’m not so certain that what I do for other teas brings out the best these oolongs have to offer. I’ll keep playing around with it in my spare time.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off subtle aromas of butter, cream, citrus, and honeysuckle. After the rinse, the bouquet intensified slightly. I could pick up stronger hints of butter, cream, and honeysuckle coupled with distinct impressions of pomelo and lemon. I also began to catch hints of lilac, gardenia, and vanilla. The first infusion produced a bouquet that brought everything together. I now got extremely robust floral tones. I was reminded of a mixture of honeysuckle, gardenia, lilac, and magnolia. There were big aromas of vanilla, butter, and cream too. I also thought I began to catch hints of nuts, lime, and grass. In the mouth, however, the tea liquor was surprisingly flat, offering muted notes of grass, lemon rind, pomelo, cream, butter, and vanilla underscored by traces of bitter, oily nuts and fresh flowers. Fortunately, subsequent infusions upped the ante considerably. The cream, butter, vanilla, grass, pomelo, and lemon rind notes were still there, but they were considerably stronger. I was now better able to pick up that bitter nuttiness (it kind of reminded me of fresh black walnut at points, but that comparison is far from exact) and the notes of lilac, gardenia, honeysuckle, and magnolia really began to pop. On several of these middle infusions, I could detect notes of lemongrass, daylily shoots, yellow plum, bitter orange, lime, and orchid. I also began to detect a growing minerality. The later infusions were very subtle, almost to the point of being flat. Minerals, grass, and nuts were the dominant impressions available to me, though I could still detect ghostly citrus, butter, and cream tones on the swallow.

This was an enjoyable tea overall. It peaked quickly and faded just as quickly, but I think part of that may have come down to my brewing method and part of that may have come down to the tea’s age. Whatever the case, this still had more than enough life left in it to be thoroughly enjoyable on several levels. I guarantee that I’m going to keep playing around with the remainder of this tea over the next several days.

Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Plums, Vanilla, Vegetal, Walnut

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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86

Morning tea to kick the day off with an oldie. I have a long day ahead of me with a ton of work, a visit to the dr and a job offer than i need to accept or turn down. On top of that we put in an offer on a car yesterday since there’s no way we’ll ever afford a house in toronto. bah! i hate adulting. :) enjoying this year’s harvest of this one. I think 5 pearls is about right for my jumbo mugs.

Super Starling!

Are you planning to live in the car? I feel confused by this post.

cuddlesmom

Sounds like maybe you have some heavy duty commuting to do?

Evol Ving Ness

Adulting is hard. Yep, most days, it is hard.

Sil

Starling – haha I can understand the confusion. No, no living in the car, but spending some of the money we saved as a down payment instead. :)

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65
drank Ben Shan by Verdant Tea
726 tasting notes

It’s floral, flavourful, and smells good, but I don’t think it’s going to stick out from the 15 or so Tieguanyin samples I have right now… and before you ask, no, I don’t know why I have that much Tieguanyin, especially since I’m a simple Milk Oolong person.

Steep Count: 4

The second steep brought the sweet and lilac cream custard Verdant advertised, with lingering tart fruit notes.

Third steep I left a minute over. The liquid’s aroma has taken on a quality like powdered sugar on light pastry, with a dash of tart. It’s sort of dessert-like and light.

(2016 Harvest)

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Lime, Pear, Powdered sugar

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Evol Ving Ness

and before you ask, no, I don’t know why I have that much Tieguanyin, especially since I’m a simple Milk Oolong person.

It’s like every time I go to the grocery store, I imagine that I need capers and so I buy some. In my cupboard, I have something like seventeen jars of capers.

Daylon R Thomas

Lol but capers are so yummy, especially on pizza…or that’s just me.

CrowKettle

Nah, you’re not the only one; I love capers on everything. There are far worse *food items to keep in bulk supply. At least capers keep! :P

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91

Here is another tea that I have been meaning to review for some time. I bought this one during the second half of last year, but I don’t remember precisely when. I finally tried it for the first time last night, finishing the remainder of my 10 gram sample this morning. I found it to be a quality oolong highly reminiscent of Taiwanese Gui Fei.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 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 aromas of dates, raisins, spices, honey, and roasted almonds. After the rinse, scents of osmanthus, peach, apricot, apple, butter, malt, and wood emerged. In the mouth, I picked up on notes of honey, osmanthus, apricot, dates, raisins, malt, butter, roasted almonds, and wood underscored by gentle spice, apple, and peach flavors. Subsequent infusions saw the spice notes separate into distinct impressions of cinnamon and nutmeg while the wood notes became reminiscent of cedar and pine. Impressions of rose, brown sugar, vanilla, and minerals also began to express themselves on the nose and in the mouth. The later infusions were milder, offering lingering notes of minerals, butter, malt, almond, vanilla, and wood balanced by increasingly distant impressions of honey, peach, osmanthus, dates, and rose.

Both extremely approachable and surprisingly complex, this oolong made for a great late morning/early afternoon session. I appreciated its strength and the tenacity of its aroma and flavor components. If you are a fan of traditional Taiwanese bug-bitten oolongs, I’m willing to bet you would also appreciate this tea.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Apricot, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cedar, Cinnamon, Dates, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Osmanthus, Peach, Pine, Raisins, Rose, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
cuddlesmom

I really love how thorough your reviews are!

eastkyteaguy

Thank you.

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92

Alright everyone, we have another sample sipdown to celebrate. I polished this one off earlier in the evening. At this point, I am beginning to think that I’m starting to get a better handle on what to expect from first flush Darjeelings. This one was interesting. It reminded me a little of the Goomtee Exotic (a tea that wasn’t bad, but didn’t do as much for me as the others I have recently tried), but I found it to be much smoother and more floral.

I prepared this tea Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves produced subtle floral, grassy, nutty aromas. After infusion, I detected scents of grass, hay, malt, rose, and nuts. In the mouth, I immediately detected mellow, surprisingly refined and well-integrated notes of almond, chestnut, nutmeg, malt, butter, cream, grass, coriander, and hay that were soon balanced by impressions of spring honey, rose, Muscatel, and wood. The finish was gentle with a slight astringency. I was still able to detect faint, lingering impressions of butter, cream, malt, Muscatel, rose, and wood.

This was such a nice tea. At first, I was a little uncertain about it, but once my nose and mouth became accustomed to it, it really grew on me. I came to see it as a subtler, sweeter, more sophisticated version of some of the Gopaldhara and Goomtee Darjeelings I have tried recently.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Chestnut, Coriander, Cream, Grass, Hay, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Rose, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Teatotaler

After reading this note on Namring Upper Imperial Darjeeling First Flush and teepland’s note on Goomtee Exotic Darjeeling First Flush Organic, I am about ready to go into a Darjeeling frenzy! I’d take a bath in Darjeeling tea if I could! Better place my Vahdam order quickly!

teepland

^^ hahahahaha!!! :)

Ken

They have a sampler for first flush darjeeling.

Teatotaler

Thanks, Ken! I saw the sampler – Still…….. These two sound so incredible, and there is the 20% off. Oh me! Darjeeling decisions!

teepland

Teatotaler: keep in mind that eastkyteaguy wasn’t as impressed with the Goomtee Exotic Darjeeling as I was, and he is much better at noticing the subtle flavors than I am. If you’re trying to decide which Vahdam products to buy, you’re safer going with his reviews than mine… :)

Teatotaler

Thanks, teepland. I really appreciate that. I do, however, like that the Goomtee is organic. On the other hand, as Ken pointed out, there is the sampler, so that may be a better option after all. :)

Teatotaler

Update I just signed up with Vahdam and ordered the Arya Diamond Darjeeling First Flush Organic. I can’t wait to drink it!

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90

I feel like utter crap today. I couldn’t sleep at all last night. It had little to do with caffeine intake either. For one thing, I got my on-call schedule confused. I thought I was on-call this week, but I’m not. I spent the last week getting myself in the proper mindset for that and now my body and mind still want to remain alert when I’m free to get some extra rest. Secondly, I have started dreading going into the office so much that I now have difficulty relaxing when I’m at home. If I didn’t need the insurance and the extra income, I would go ahead and quit, but that won’t be a possibility until July or August at the very earliest. Anyway, I was milling around the house in the wee hours of the morning and ended up using the last of my sample of this tea to calm my nerves.

I prepared this tea Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted pleasant fruity, grassy aromas with floral underpinnings. After infusion, I noted scents of grass, hay, malt, almond, citrus, herbs, and Muscatel underscored by hints of dried flowers. In the mouth, I picked up notes of almond, malt, nutmeg, straw, grass, lemon balm, tangerine, apricot, peach, mango, rose, and Muscatel. I also thought i caught hints of chrysanthemum and dandelion petals, but that may have just been me reaching. The finish was smooth, though slightly astringent, offering lingering traces of almond, straw, grass, malt, and Muscatel underscored by a ghostly, indistinct floral quality.

This was another nice first flush Darjeeling. To me, it was more flavorful than the Glenburn Classic I recently reviewed, but not quite as smooth and approachable. Of the two, I can safely say that I preferred this one. It had a little bit of bite, as well as a pronounced muskiness that I enjoyed. I would have no issue with recommending it to fans of first flush Darjeelings.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Citrus, Dandelion, Floral, Grass, Herbs, Malt, Mango, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Peach, Rose, Straw

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
teepland

Sorry you’re feeling miserable, but at least you weren’t disappointed with the tea!

Teatotaler

I can relate to your situation, eastkyteaguy. I am on vacation (staycation) from my high stress job this week, but I still feel that I need to be doing this or that for work. Insurance benefits play a large part for me putting up with a broad spectrum of horrors at my job. Darjeeling tea, for whatever reason, relaxes me more than any tea bar none. I definitely need to check out Vahdam. This tea sounds like a must have – Love Glenburn! Hang in there, my friend, and keep on sipping Darjeeling!

Fjellrev

That’s horrible, eastkyteaguy. I can only imagine how long it’ll take for you to get your sleeping schedule back on track and start to feel normal again.

cuddlesmom

I sympathize. Before my current teaching assignment, discipline issues created a lot of stress in my work life, causing many sleepless nights. Hope the tea helped.

Evol Ving Ness

Totally get it as my neighbours torment me with their screeching and cooing infant, television, ringing phones, exercise, social lives, and general lack of decency and respect and intrusion on my sleep and home tranquility. It has become stressful being or even thinking of being at home, so I wake up at the drop of a pin now, especially, of course, with their baby, their exercise, and their cellphones ringing or vibrating against our shared walls.

Evol Ving Ness

I am sorry that you are suffering. May these next few months pass quickly and easily.

eastkyteaguy

Thanks for the kind words everybody. My biggest issue with my job is that it is not what I was led to believe it would be. It was supposed to be an autonomous, school-based position implementing a curriculum that could be personalized, but it’s actually an office-based position and the curriculum is set in stone. There’s even a script that I have to follow for each lesson. There’s not a lot of direct implementation either, so many days I just end up sitting in my office all day doing nothing. I’m basically on-call. I have to find ways to keep myself occupied, and then when I go home, I’m mentally exhausted and frustrated. I’m so sick of it. If I don’t have anything to do, why do I have to go to the office? Wasn’t this position supposed to allow for autonomy? WTF?

eastkyteaguy

Oh, and Evol, I totally sympathize. When I was in college, my now ex-girlfriend and I used to have an absolutely horrible neighbor. She was this really bitter old woman who hated younger people, especially young men. The walls in our building were thin and her living room was on the other side of our bedroom wall. She used to turn the television way up and leave it on all night and all day. She also had this horrible little weiner dog that never stopped barking. Her middle-aged daughter used to live with her too, and was not only extremely loud herself, but kept weird hours. She worked nights or something and we would constantly hear her traipsing up and down the stairs at all hours of the night. She and her mom would have vicious arguments at random times, and sometimes we would even get the pleasure of listening to her scream at her boyfriend over the phone on our front stoop. We tried to be polite, we asked them to be considerate and keep the noise down, but we would be ignored, mocked, and would get ridiculous complaints brought to the building management about us harassing them. Let’s just say we found a way to get them back. They never bothered us again.

Evol Ving Ness

Oh dear. Having a script for each lesson alone sounds like hell. The cool thing about teaching is the improv, creativity, and personalization of it. Often it is the admin that stifles it. Being stuck in an office for little reason is a painful thing.

Thank you for sharing your neighbour horror story. Now I am curious about your retaliation tactic.

I think in my case, the people are not particularly evil, but rather self-and baby-obsessed and clueless. And likely feeling entitled. Maybe that counts as evil, but I am making an effort to see things in a different perspective than my own.

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90

I wrote a review for this tea last night and tried to post it at least four separate times, but it got eaten each time. Steepster was hungee!!! Anyway, this was another of the samples that Vahdam Teas so kindly sent to me. I had long been aware that the Arya Tea Estate was one of the most consistently acclaimed tea producers in Darjeeling, but until I tried this tea, I had yet to try any of the teas produced by this estate. If this one was representative of their offerings, I guarantee I will be trying more soon.

I prepared this tea Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted a pronounced Muscatel aroma underscored by grass and sweet corn. After infusion, I again picked up a strong Muscatel scent balanced by sweet corn and grass, but this time I also picked up nice aromas of citrus, malt, herbs, and peach. In the mouth, there was a strong Muscatel note from the entry to the swallow. Notes of white peach, tangerine, sweet orange, grass, herbs, malt, cream, honey, and sweet corn provided balance. The fade offered lingering traces of Muscatel underpinned by citrus, honey, grass, sweet corn, and malt.

This was a seriously impressive offering. Of the first flush Darjeelings I have tried, this one probably offered the clearest and strongest Muscatel presence. Fortunately, there was a lot more to this tea than that. I would recommend this one highly to those looking for a sweet, fruity first flush Darjeeling with a well-defined Muscatel character.

Flavors: Citrus, Corn Husk, Cream, Grass, Herbs, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Orange, Peach

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
teepland

Your reviews of Vahdam teas inspired me to place an order for their black tea sampler yesterday. I am looking forward to trying some of these that you especially liked!

eastkyteaguy

Teepland, I hope you enjoy the Vahdam sampler. Honestly, I slept on Vahdam for some time. I found out about them last year, but never bothered placing an order. Then, out of the blue, they offered to send me some free samples to review. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity. I have had several recommendations for Teabox as well, so I’m thinking that I will give some of their offerings a try this summer (I’m trying to avoid buying any more tea for the next couple of months. I have to get the hoard under control.).

teepland

Funny that you mention Teabox—I was actually going to make a purchase with them first but changed my mind after reading your reviews of Vahdam. I came across Teabox initially through their blog and have been wondering about the quality of their Darjeelings. Please let me know if you place an order—I’d be interested in what you think of their product.

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86

I need to hit up Kensington Market more often. This place made it to the tea festival in January, but I didn’t get a chance to see their teas because it was swarmed with people all the time. I’d been meaning to visit ever since.
I chatted with the owner for atleast half an hour before picking some of this up. He recommended this one, highly. and he was right.
I’m finding notes of sweet potato, molasses, maybe corn? second infusion had a slight menthol effect, and the third one has a bit of smokiness to it.
Very sweet on it’s own. Reminds me slightly of a baked ham, with brown sugar (sans pineapple and saltiness haha)

On a more personal note, I had some disturbing news from the doctor yesterday. This tea purchase was my aftercare. Still processing things. Nothing life threatening but I don’t think it will go away and it has me questioning every decision I’ve ever made. and the medication… seems I have more decisions to make now. Sorry for the vagueness. Sighs. Curveballs suck.

tea-sipper

I’m wishing you the best, Indigo!

Evol Ving Ness

Damn it, had I known, I could have taken Dex when we were there. I will have to check it out the next time I am in the vicinity.

Evol Ving Ness

Ouf! I have just read down to your last paragraph. So sorry that all this angst is crammed together with self-doubt. I hope a couple of good night’s sleep and a bit of reflection sorts and clarifies things. If I can be of help, holler. I have a lot of good contacts in the the world of alternatives.

Evol Ving Ness

My first stop would be a naturopath to see how to balance and reverse things if possible. I’ve got a good one if this is of interest.

Indigobloom

@tea-sipper thank you <3

@Evol – he’s got really good stuff. Most of the sample packets are the standard intro ones for beginners, but might still be good to try. $20 for five. Tempting but I just got this one and a TGY. Right beside the Witches Brew if you know where that is. And Little Pebble coffee (Japanese desserts!)

mrmopar

I will put you on the prayer list as of now. Hopefully it will be something that can be treated easily.

Maddy Barone

Thinking good thoughts for you.

Teatotaler

Sending prayers your way.

gmathis

Praying that you’ll have great peace, patience, and perseverance

Evol Ving Ness

Perhaps my other comments are not coming through. If I have said something untoward, my apologies. Hoping that the sunlight is making things easier and kinder.

Indigobloom

@Evol Strange, I only saw the one comment the other day – haven’t logged in since. I’ll msg you on fb. Thank you! <3

Indigobloom

@ mrmopar, Maddy Barone, Teatotaler, Gmathis: thank you all so much for the kind thoughts. I didn’t expect to get so much love. Your words have made me feel better, truly xox

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85

Another tea added to the “favorite black teas” list. The tea had a slight yellow/golden hue to it. The mouthful was surprisingly thick. The flavor had a nice malt, cocoa-wheat, and slightly astringent body. Definitely a tea that could become a daily drinker once I get some samples out of the way!

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Wheat

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74

Having ever tried the original Snickerdoodle, I won’t be able to compare versions, but here we go. As a preface, I haven’t had snickerdoodles before either. Seriously. My family never made them and whenever I had the desire to make a spicier cookie, I opted to make pepparkakor instead. Although I’ve always been curious to see what the big deal is about them, that curiosity never truly pushed me to go out of my way for one. Even whenever I saw them at bakeries or coffee shops, I never bothered grabbing one because there was always something more intriguing to try if I were in a dessert mood. My guess is it’s basically a sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon sugar, so I’m going into this tea with that in mind.

This is also the fifth or sixth time drinking this tea before writing a note, I believe, and I have enough leaf for one more cup so I realized this morning that I better write my thoughts before it’s gasp too late. The dry leaf smells like cinnamon bark, basically, with maybe a slight hint of sweetness on the brown sugary side.

In regards to flavour, it’s a little weaker than I would have liked. Again, gentle cinnamon sugar, with more emphasis on the cinnamon, but still quite muted. If I think cookie, I can semi-trick my brain into thinking that this kind of has a vague bakery note in the background but I’m thinking that that also may just be the whole milk adding that element to it. Also, to note, this is a ground cinnamon profile rather than cinnamon red hot candies. While I prefer this type of cinnamon in tea, this still leaves me wanting more, and only reminds me how I haven’t had Tea Desire’s Cinnamon Star in ever, which has been a favourite of mine for over ten years already. That one has the same ground cinnamon vibe but with distinct bakery and icing notes supporting the spice.

Arby

I had to look up “pepparkakor” but apparently that’s ginger snap/ginger cookie in English. I’ve never had a snickerdoodle either, our family makes ginger cookies when we want a spiced cookie. I’ve been meaning to try a snickerdoodle some day, but I’ve never heard of it outside of the states. Similarly, I’ve never seen Julekaker (Norweigan Christmas bread) or Nanaimo Bars outside of where I live. I wonder how many things I think are normal parts of everyday bakeries/restaurants are unheard of elsewhere?

Fjellrev

Yeah, they’re more complex than a ginger cookie though, at least the version I make, which also contains cinnamon and cloves, with orange zest. Julekaker is next to impossible to find anywhere! Nanaimo bars are everywhere here in Alberta but granted we’re relatively close.

I know it’s totally off-topic from desserts, but are green onion cakes popular where you live? I never noticed them when I lived in Victoria, but here, they are everywhere.

Tamarindel

No you have to try snickerdoodles! Even though you’re technically correct about it being a sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon sugar, that somehow doesn’t capture the experience of eating a snickerdoodle at all. It’s more than the sum of its parts. Don’t buy them from the grocery store though. They are best just a bit cooled out of the oven.

Fjellrev

You raise an excellent point! I’ll have to whip up a batch someday.

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