Featured & New Tasting Notes
I am finally beginning to work my way through some of the What-Cha samples I have been holding on to for awhile (read that as I’m drinking a few teas I forgot I had). This unique green tea was today’s selection. I found it to be pleasant and intriguing, but it also was not quite what I expected it to be.
What-Cha described this tea as possessing a “vegetal taste with sheng qualities.” I found that to be sort of true in the sense that the tea demonstrated a consistent underlying saltiness and sour funk. I would emphasize, however, that there was much more to this tea than that.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a short rinse, I steeped approximately 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 12 subsequent 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.
Prior to the rinse, aromas of carrot, sweet corn, cream, grass, hay, elderflower, millet, and sorghum expressed themselves on the nose. After the rinse, traces of wood, briny funk, smoke, and sea salt began to emerge. The first infusion produced a nearly identical bouquet with slightly more salt and funk. In the mouth, I experienced a rush of carrot, millet, sorghum, sweet corn, wood, malt, cream, grass, hay, and elderflower notes underscored by brine, smoke, sea salt, and a hint of nuttiness. Subsequent infusions grew more intense, offering up forceful impressions of beech nut, chestnut, lemon, and at various points, kumquat and/or bergamot. The later infusions saw a mellow and comparatively restrained mineral presence merge with lingering impressions of sweet corn, hay, grass, wood, brine, smoke, and sea salt, while hints of vegetables, nuts, sorghum, and a touch of tart citrus remained in the background. The way the sweet corn, wood, brine, and smoke notes lingered on my palate reminded me a bit of a sour mash.
This was an extremely complex, deep, and interesting tea. Fortunately, it was not so busy as to be overwhelming or cumbersome. Like quite a few Vietnamese green teas, it displayed a pungency and astringency that some people may find off-putting, but to be honest, it did not bother me all that much. Those qualities could probably be mitigated by using slightly less leaf anyway. Definitely check this one out if and when What-Cha manages to bring it back, but just be aware that it is more likely to remind you of a high quality Yunnan green rather than a young sheng.
Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Carrot, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Grain, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Malt, Marine, Mineral, Salt, Smoke, Wood
Drinking this one again. I guess the question now is how is it doing in my storage. I don’t feel the teat has degraded in what is fairly low humidity. I don’t know exactly what it is but it cannot be higher than 50% or so if that much. It seems to me that shou is not as susceptible to low humidity as sheng. This one tastes really good with a bittersweet note at the start and a fair amount of fermentation flavor. Neither of these notes lasted too long and were replaced by a sweet note. Sort of a dry fruit note. I am noticing a little bit of astringency, just a very small amount. This is good tea and for the price I paid it had better be.
I brewed this twelve times in a 160ml solid silver teapot with 14.6g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 minutes. I could have gotten a few more steeps out of these leaves.
A friend of mine came over to teach me calligraphy. I was never that interested in this Coffee Cake tea, but she saw it and showed immediate interest. which is also interesting because she doesn’t really like coffee.
And the experience of drinking it together and having her enjoy it so much, gave me a very positive opinion of this tea as well.
it always smelled good to me, and my favorite teas are always the cookie and cake types (vanilla, brioche, chocolate, french toast, etc), so my liking it wasn’t a big leap.
now, a few weeks later, i find myself coveting the last oz i have. i might have to place an order. (and maybe buy one of those new tea cups.)
Guess what! I’m back again. It has been way too long. I was forced to spend the majority of last week in a caffeine-free funk due to a work-related training in Louisville. This is the first opportunity I have had to try a new tea since before I left. I, of course, had to pick an oolong.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased 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.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced lovely aromas of honey, apricot, red osmanthus, raisins, dates, and prunes. After the rinse, I picked up stronger honey, raisin, and date scents accompanied by emerging impressions of fig and wood. The first infusion produced a nearly identical bouquet. In the mouth, I detected slight notes of dates, fig, raisins, prunes, apricot, nectarine, honey, and red osmanthus with an underlying complex of malt, toast, and wood. I should have gotten thicker, more expressive flavors, so this steep was clearly too short. The second infusion offered some improvement in the flavor department, but nothing new. The tea did not really hit its stride until the third or fourth infusion in the series. At that point, I was picking up everything previously mentioned plus hints of hay, butter, cream, and eucalyptus. The following infusions grew ever gentler, milder, and more savory as malt, toast, butter, eucalyptus, cream, hay, and wood began to increasingly define the tea’s aroma and flavor profiles. Later infusions were mostly a wash of wood, hay, cream, and butter underpinned by minerals and hints of dried fruit, red osmanthus, and honey.
Let’s ignore the fact that I botched the start of this session for a moment and concede that this came across as a very smooth, pleasant, approachable tea. Unfortunately, it also struck me as being all of these things in a fleeting and superficial sort of way. Its most appealing aromas and flavors faded fast, and while they never entirely disappeared, I did not find enough to hold my interest later on in this session. Indeed, I could have probably squeezed at least one more infusion out of this tea, but I did not see much of a point in attempting it. The tea had already said all it had to say. Overall, this was a decent, likable oolong, but it was not really my kind of tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cream, Dates, Eucalyptus, Fig, Fruity, Hay, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Osmanthus, Raisins, Toast, Wood
I finally figured out what puts me off. While I don’t think this is a bad tea… the addition of apple seems to ruin the balance. It really doesn’t do much for me without milk, not unless I’m especcially in the mood for it, which is rare, but with milk, the apple bits just don’t seem to fit.
Once I get through the first few sips it kinda grows on me a teeny bit. Slightly remnicent of what I’d imagine an apple pie latte would taste like?
Also, the base tea is highly astringent in the sour ish way. So between those two factors, I’ll easily finish the sample…. but I won’t be replacing it in my cupboard!
Revisiting this sample as I’m dreaming up a big order from the YS China site. Overall it’s cleaner and tastier than I remember it being when I last drank it. Still a little bit “dank”, but slightly more positive tasting notes of damp wood, burning incense, and mineral-rich mountain spring water. While mostly aged out, there’s still a hint of something green and cooked vegetable-ish.
It’s good, but not fantastic: I’m still undecided on wether or not I need a cake of it.
Any Yunnan Sourcing recommendations? I’m looking for a bit of everything; sheng and shu samples, blacks to refresh my stockpile, fresh green teas, and some cheap-ish Wuyi or Dancong oolongs.
Flavors: Mineral, Vegetables, Wet Rocks, Wet wood
This tea started off with a very herbal and grassy taste. Couldn’t pin it down to a particular herb and it was not all together positive. This lasted well into the sixth steep. After that it was a little bit better. It did not develop a taste of apricots or that sort of thing. I guess I could say it got sweeter. But overall this tea was not as good as the Bing Dao I reviewed from Meimei Fine Teas the other day.
I brewed this ten times in a 150ml gaiwan with 9.7g leaf and 190degree water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min.
Flavors: Grass, Herbaceous
This was a sample Christina gave to me some time ago and I didn’t get around to trying it until now.
I did two quick rinses on this tea and brewed 10sec. This puerh is very sweet and creamy tasting and stayed that way for a few infusions (or at least as many infusion as I could drink , which is only 4). This is one I would like to have a cake of but it’s sold out AND I have too much puerh right now. I am trying to go through any samples I have to reduce my quantity. I plan on trying to get my count down to 15 or less for puerh in my collection.
Flavors: Creamy, Sweet
This is goooooood. Highly malty and bold with a slight astringency that comes across as sour, in a pleasant way. It lingers in the aftertaste. More astringency comes out as the tea cools. And when I say malty, I mean… enough to fill a malt ball. Ahhhh love it!
There is a slight dustiness underneath it all. Not in a bad way… more like the tea is covered in velvet, or rather the tea is sipped through a velvet cover? It’s an interesting sensation!
I love how complex this is. The molasses type note in mid swallow is fun as well, not something I see that often in an Assam, not this strongly anyhow! :)
Thanks for the sample Nicole!
Finally a sipdown. This was my first experience with bamboo leaf, and I’m not inclined to try some more blends that use it. The problem with such a light tea is that you get so much in your sample that it isn’t really just a sample any more. My sample was only 15g I think …this did about 15 pots of tea. Anyway, I didn’t want to get rid of it, it is a lovely tea and all. I’m a bit bored with the flavour right now, but I’m sure I’ll be back.
Overall, very fruity with lots of mellow (not acidic) flavours of lemongrass, bamboo leaf, some sort of berry? (it isn’t generic berry flavour, but I can’t pinpoint which distinct berry it is), goji, and tropical fruits (papaya, pineapple, banana).
Flavors: Bamboo, banana, Berry, Dried Fruit, Fruity, Goji, Lemongrass, Pineapple, Sweet, Tropical
I love watching these pearls unfurl in my clear glass steeper: like teeny delicate question marks tinting the water as they steep. Beautiful tea, delicate and fragrant. The jasmine scent is just the right balance for the tea itself. My afternoon had been moving along rather nicely and yet this fragrant tea has made it even better.
Thank you, Angel, for the sample.
Drinking this lovely tea throughout the afternoon brought me back in spirit to this lovely lovely town that I stayed in for a time in China and the teahouses that I spent hours contemplating life in. The teahouses I am talking about and the town that I am referring to are pictured here. (To be clear, this is not my blog.) One of my very favourite places in China. http://www.bootsintheoven.com/boots_in_the_oven/2012/03/zigong-sichuan.html
Flavors: Green, Jasmine
Golden flat needles, of a lighter shade.
Aroma of hay, earth, and wood.
Taste of Malt, earth, wood, Bamboo…
This tea has a smooth mouth, a fulfilling feeling about it, and a satisfying earthy depth, almost like chocolate or coffee, almost like a shu puerh, although that may because I went a little heavy on the leaf, since this is a sipdown.
For me, this is a more savory Dian Hong, not as sweet as some, a little more earthy and Manly, but perfect for this morning, when I’m prepping to go out to play in my garden.
Ensemble: Bass, cello, viola, bass clarinet, clarinet, Bassoon, English Horn, Bamboo flute, wind chime, wood block.
GCTTB Going to be a few of these today if i can have quick breaks while working.
This was sort of middle of the road for me. Not a bad tea, decent cup of slightly honeyed brew…but nothing out of this world. it was smooth and enjoyable, but not a tea i must have in my cupboard. Happy to drink it again if it comes around though :)
Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep….
Seriously, insomnia is at full throttle tonight. GM is the best thing to keep one from going insane. Thick, creamy, earthy, mineral-y, smooth, & rich.
Mmmm mmmm mmmmm mmmm.
Ooo, this is lovely! Reminds me of Mandala’s Yellow Buds which I tried a while back and really enjoyed. It brews up to a pale yellowish green color with a scent like freshly mown hay. The flavor is light, smooth and sweet with notes of hay and corn. (That tastes better than it sounds, I promise!) I would definitely consider re-purchasing this one when my sample runs out.
Flavors: Hay, Smooth, Sweet
Noms. Mellow, smooth but with a little bite if left to steep for a long time. Not a bad bite, mind you. The first thing that hits is the malt and, wow. A bit of sweetness in the sip but not as strong as the malt. Can’t wait to try again with a bit shorter steep and see if that takes out the bite. Thanks, Indigobloom for sharing this one!
Alright, this respiratory infection has got to go. At first I thought it was just a run-of-the mill sinus infection, the kind I get around this time every year, but no, it had to be something more. Now it’s day six and I’m done with feeling miserable. I decided to break out some sheng and hopefully move on with my life. Before I formally go about introducing the denizens of Steepster world to my impressions of this tea, however, I am going to devote a little time to an issue that seems to weigh on a number of folks in such a way that it brings out the worst.
This seems to be the time of year when people get riled up over statements concerning the age of a bunch of trees in a distant land. I understand and share this concern, at least to a certain extent. Do I think this mao cha actually comes from 800 year old trees? No, I don’t. Seeing as how I am most certainly not an expert, have never seen the trees, and possess no actual scientific data backing up the age statement, I have no reason to believe the veracity of such a claim. I could be wrong, but I still remain skeptical. How much do I care about the claim itself? I’m not really sure yet. Clearly my doubts did not prevent me from buying this tea. To be honest, I don’t feel suckered and don’t regret purchasing it in the least. I saw it as a product on the market that I could purchase and review, and anyone remotely familiar with my proclivities should know how near and dear to my heart reviewing stuff lies. It’s kind of what I do. Also, we are all aware that our beloved tea world is filled with falsehoods, especially the nether regions occupied by pu’erh and similar teas. Teas are often deliberately or unintentionally mislabeled, misnamed, misdated, and otherwise misrepresented. The degree to which piracy and other such tomfoolery runs rampant is truly impossible to accurately determine. We should all know this by now. Believe me when I say that if some of you get upset (and not entirely unreasonably I may add) by what you see as potentially dishonest, or perhaps we should still give the benefit of the doubt and say intentionally naive, marketing on the part of one vendor who currently seems to be quite popular, you have probably either excused it or just not noticed it elsewhere. I could be wrong, but I would just about guarantee it because it doesn’t only happen with tea. If I can now offer a point to all of this medicine-headed rambling, I would offer this one: ranting about it on a discussion board is probably neither going to change the business nor the buying habits and preferences of one’s online peers. At the end of the day, does it really matter how old the trees are? Can a tea not still be enjoyable even if it is misrepresented in some way? Do we really need to continue piling on certain vendors who have a habit of making such claims? In situations like this one, I kind of can’t help thinking that all we can do is express our doubts, either try the tea or avoid it, and move on with our lives. Oh, and for the record, I do not think that deciding to buy a product whose marketing is more than a bit fishy can always be boiled down to some sort of moral deficiency on the part of individual buyers or to lack of knowledge and experience. So many of these exchanges prove unproductive when the primary position of one side can be reduced to wondering “why don’t all of these other people feel like me with regard to this issue? What’s wrong with them?” Maybe it really is not a matter of people who choose to purchase such products being morally lacking compared to you. Maybe they are just curious and/or see themselves as giving something controversial a fair shake and then share their thoughts with the rest of the world to provide a balanced perspective. That, in and of itself, can be valuable too.
Enough of that. I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this up with infusions of 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off muted, musty aromas of tulsi, straw, and citrus. After the rinse, I noted that the citrus aroma grew more powerful. I could not quite place it though. I also started to pick up on flowers and honey. The first infusion produced a nearly identical bouquet. In the mouth, I was able to detect mild notes of brine, straw, tulsi, lemon and honey with a slight minty note on the finish. Subsequent infusions introduced impressions of bitter orange peel, jasmine, and osmanthus while the menthol note on the finish turned into a distinct impression of wintergreen. They weren’t kidding about that. I kept waiting for the apricot to show up in a big way, but I only started to catch a subtle hint of it around the seventh or eighth infusion. I also started getting a sharp, chalky mineral presence on the finish. Later infusions were thin, but still had a little life to them. The dominant notes were of minerals, lemon, bitter orange peel, and tulsi balanced by cooling notes of wintergreen and apricot. Bizarrely enough, I thought I just barely detected a fleeting note of lemongrass at this point, but it may have been me.
Though I wish the floral aromas and flavors stuck around longer, this ended up being the type of sheng that appealed to me. On the rare occasions I decide to drink sheng, I often go looking for teas with some combination of spicy, herbal, and citrusy notes. This tea had all of that. The fleeting floral impressions and the pronounced honey tones just added more appeal for me. I’m sure the fact that it soothed my aching throat while greatly reminding me of a milder version of the honey menthol cough drops I have been wolfing down for the past 3 days only strengthened its appeal. All in all, this one got over with me, dubious claims and all.
Flavors: Apricot, Honey, Jasmine, Lemon, Menthol, Mineral, Orange, Osmanthus, Straw, Tulsi
My first tasting of the day is Yunnan sourcing Ye Zhu Tang raw pu’erh cake. THis was the second offering in the raw puerh tea of the month club. I started with using 110 ml of water in a my Yixing pot. I started with a quick rinse of the tea leaves to open them up, there was almost no dust, but the leaves were a little stubborn in opening up so I did a second wash. I did sip the second wash to see what I would be getting, and was surprised it had nice honey and sweet notes and the bitterness was really mild.
The first proper infusion I got a clear pale yellow liquor that was sweet, astringent, with floral, vegetal and bitter notes. It has a wonderful mouth feel and is a bit sweeter than might be expected for a young raw. I really liked this.
The second proper infusion the leaves started to open up proper now, again giving a clear yellow liquor with a bit more of the bitterness coming out now, but not overpowering it. And the honey flavor also became more pronounced, this was my favorite infusion.
The third infusion the bitterness creeped up on it a bit more. It was still sweet, but it had citrus notes at this point, sweet, astringent and bitter, it also lost some of the honey flavors. I have a feeling those will come back in the later infusions.
The fourth infusion was spectacular, the bitterness mostly vanished and the honey notes came back much stronger now. It also darkened slightly looking more apple juice color than before. I havent started increasing the time yet either, this is 1 , 2, 3, pour and let the yixing steep as it pours.
Im going to go steep out the rest of this wonderful tea. I have a feeling I will get 10 from this easy. A very nice young raw with a bit more sweetness.
PS First to post again, Im on a roll!
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Floral, Honey, Vegetal
Oh my. This is some serious Assam nums. Very malty and with a smooth sweetness. The malt tends to fall off at the cooling end of the cup and a hint of bitter creeps in. The leaf appearance is stunning. Thanks to Indigobloom for sharing some of this delicious tea!