Featured & New Tasting Notes
I’m still plowing through some of the oolongs I acquired earlier in the year and toward the end of last year. This was one of them and I have to say that to this point in my life, this was the absolute worst oolong of this type I have tried. Normally, Four Season oolongs are very floral, sweet, smooth, and pleasant, but this one was thin and watery with an uneven mix of flavors and little staying power.
I gongfued this tea. After a flash rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions that I had to more or less force myself to get through. 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 produced subtle aromas of sugarcane, violet, and orchid. After the rinse, new aromas of cream, butter, vanilla, and grass were revealed. The first proper infusion more fully brought out the floral character on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor offered hints of grass and spinach on the entry before giving way to subtler hints of cream, butter, vanilla, sugarcane, and orchid. Subsequent infusions brought out vanilla and spinach on the nose and violet in the mouth. I also discovered notes of green apple, Asian pear, lettuce, lily, lilac, seaweed, and minerals. There was a slight graininess to these middle infusions as well. It seemed more than a bit out of place in a tea like this. I noted that the floral aromas had a tendency of turning pungent before suddenly fading, leaving me with a thin, uneven, and unpleasant mix of savory, fruity, and vegetal characteristics coupled with something of a gritty graininess. The later infusions were buttery, though mineral, grass, seaweed, and lettuce notes remained in play. I could detect no lingering fruity or floral sweetness.
I may be being a bit harsh here, but I found this tea to be nothing short of a disaster. I kind of think this was a bad tea to begin with, but I also think it had started to fade by the time I got to it. I even noticed that the leaves looked a bit weird when I first opened the pouch, as the dry leaves were an unusually bright, dusty green. In terms of aroma and flavor, there was surprising complexity, but none of it ever came together and there was little depth. A horribly uneven drinking experience and also a flat-out bad one, I would recommend that curious drinkers pass on this tea. There are plenty of better Four Season oolongs on the market. In my opinion, What-Cha, Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company, Taiwan Tea Crafts, and Floating Leaves Tea all offer much better examples of this type of tea.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Grain, Grass, Green Apple, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet
Yesterday, I may have spoken too soon when I posted on this tea. Today, it was ashtray like and really quite drying with an overlay of sunflower seed flavour and no caramel. Gah! Really not great.
The smoky was not a good smoky, but possibly could have provided a base flavour for the caramel to knit the smoke and the nuttiness together, but nope. Instead, it was these two disjointed flavours.
I will keep trying, of course, but I am wondering why I am having such a fickle experience when all the parameters are the same.
I don’t think I could drink another cup of something like what happened in my cup today.
Bought this in a small paper bag from my local shop (Ming Ming Tea, who generally has pretty good tea) about a year ago. I drank it once, thought “eww” and put it into storage until now. Here goes it’s second chance.
Brews a nice deep burgundy color. Tastes of cardboard, mineral water, and rich soil. Not bad per say, just nothing enjoyable enough to make me want to keep drinking it. I choked down two infusions and then tossed the leaves.
It’s better than I remember, but still not good.
Flavors: Cardboard, Dirt, Mineral
I totally forgot about the five autumn flush Darjeelings I tacked onto my last Teabox order. The 2016 autumn flush teas had been marked down and I had been meaning to try a few more, so I figured that would be the perfect opportunity to pick up a few. I ended up with teas from Oaks, Gopaldhara, Goomtee, Giddapahar, and Jungpana, all producers whose work I greatly enjoy. This tea from the Oaks Estate was the first one I tried. Surprisingly, it was the one I enjoyed the least.
I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. No additional infusions were attempted.
Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted interesting aromas of dried fruit, aged leather, and cured tobacco. After infusion, I picked up on aromas of wood, leather, tobacco, raisins, malt, and cooked greens. In the mouth, I found that the liquor opened with surprisingly prominent notes of aged leather, cured tobacco, and wood before giving way to subtler notes of brown toast, smoke, nutmeg, malt, violet, raisin, plum, and Muscatel. Notes of cooked greens gradually revealed themselves, becoming more powerful as the liquor lingered in the mouth. The finish was fairly short, emphasizing notes of malt, wood, raisin, and Muscatel, though a touch of cooked greens also remained.
After being impressed by a recent first flush tea from the Oaks Estate, I was expecting to enjoy this one equally, if not more. Sadly, that was not the case. While this tea was not bad, the way the cooked green notes built in the mouth made it seem awkward as they muddied some of the more enjoyable, nuanced notes the tea offered. Still, one trait that I found to be rather detrimental to the drinking experience did not ruin this offering for me. This was an enjoyable tea, just a rather odd and somewhat awkward one. While there are certainly more enjoyable autumn flush Darjeeling teas out there, this one was still worth a try.
Flavors: Brown Toast, Leather, Malt, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Plums, Raisins, Smoke, Tobacco, Vegetal, Violet, Wood
Husband knows I’m a sucker for most of Bigelow’s seasonal teas, so he grabbed a box for me at the one local store that carries them. I married an enabler.
This is foo-foo tea instead of get-your-sleepy-hindquarters-out-the-door tea, but it’s good foo-foo. The caramel scent and flavor are just right—not much “salted,” but no great loss in my opinion.
My winter wardrobe desperately needs me to start losing interest in pastry and pie, so I foresee this as a tasty and comfortable pacifier when I am craving something sticky and sweet.
FDT is all about the texture! The broth is weighty and sticky, like drinking a bone dense stock, making for an interesting body feel of a tea session.
Flavor note wise, it is light. FDT leans on the savory side with sweet grass, vegetal, and sticky rice. It does get stewy tasting in the later infusions, but it very much drinkable. I think leafing harder than normal gives the best result, and I wouldn’t go under boiling as you’ll lose the texture and the flavor would be too weak.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2017-farmer-direct-tea-sheng-puer-white2tea/
So, I am finally getting to a tea that was finished less than a week ago. Isn’t everyone proud of me? I ended up buying a sample of this tea and rushed to try it ahead of schedule because I was intrigued by What-Cha’s description of it. It was presented as a low cost first flush Darjeeling “with vibrant floral notes and an apricot finish.” Not only did that sound lovely to me, but the Gopaldhara Estate has such a reputation for quality and consistency that I was eager to see how one of their lower end teas would compare to some of their rightfully lauded luxury products. All in all, this was not a bad first flush tea in the least, though I did find it to be significantly less refined and less flavorful than some of Gopaldhara’s higher end teas.
I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any subsequent infusions.
Prior to infusion, I noted subtle aromas of Muscatel, herbs, straw, and grass. After infusion, I found aromas of straw, grass, Muscatel, herbs, and hay. In the mouth, I noted fairly delicate flavors of herbs, cream, butter, grass, straw, hay, apricot, Muscatel, violet, dandelion, pine, almond, and spinach. The finish was smooth, yet fleeting. I noted very subdued impressions of cream, pine, Muscatel, grass, and flowers that did not linger all that long in the mouth after the swallow. I failed to note apricot on the finish. Maybe it was just me.
As stated above, this was not a bad first flush tea. I recall trying several other first flush teas from Gopaldhara and I recall them striking me as being somewhat hit or miss. At this point, I suppose I just tend to naturally favor their summer and autumn flush teas. Overall, this tea displayed admirable complexity compared to some other Darjeeling teas I have tried at or near this price point, but it did not display enough strength or longevity for my taste. Still, I could see this being a decent daily drinker or an adequate introduction to first flush Darjeelings.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Butter, Cream, Dandelion, Grass, Hay, Herbs, Muscatel, Pine, Spinach, Straw, Violet
Yes, I love unsmoked Lapsangs! This LS is deep woodsy, orange, creamy, and malty. It reminds me of a chocolate orange. It does get dry and bitter in the later infusions. I got 7 reinfusions.
Full review, along with other Teabento black tea reviews, on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/black-teas-teabento/
Now that I have had some time to rest and have my head on somewhat straight again, let’s kick off this Sunday with a blast from the past. This was yet another tea I reviewed last month, yet like quite a few others, I never got around to posting a formal review on Steepster. So, without further ado, here goes.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 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, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of char, wood, caramelized banana, and graham cracker. The rinsed leaves presented new aromas of coffee beans and toasted rice. The first infusion showed hints of grass and fruitiness on the nose. In the mouth, I found flavors of sweetgrass, watercress, cattail shoots, cream, butter, char, graham cracker, cinnamon, wood, and caramelized banana. Subsequent infusions saw the notes of coffee and toasted rice appear in the mouth. I also picked up on hints of vanilla, elderberry, and blackberry. Subtler impressions of squash, minerals, orchid, roasted walnut, and honey flitted in and out of focus in the background. The later infusions demonstrated a more pronounced minerality on the nose and in the mouth. A touch of buttered popcorn emerged toward the end of the session, while lingering traces of wood, char, and cream remained on the palate.
As charcoal roasted oolongs go, this one was very nice. It was a complex tea, yet it was also very subtle. Each aroma and flavor component was integrated very well. If you are the type of person who prefers toasty, mellow teas, I could see this being a perfect fit for you. Personally, I greatly enjoyed this tea, but I ended up wishing that it were not so even-tempered throughout the session. In places, it was almost too mellow and balanced for my taste.
Flavors: banana, Blackberry, Butter, Char, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Fruity, Graham, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Orchid, Popcorn, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood
This was a pit stop along a brief hei cha journey that actually began over a year ago. I sampled some tian jian a while ago and enjoyed it, so I invested in another tian jian, some liu bao, and some fu just to get some bearings on the hei cha world.
Much like my liu bao experience, my fu experience has required some getting used to. It is very yeasty and grainy – almost starchy – and not at all what you get from any other tea.
It’s not bad; in fact, it is intriguing because of how different it is. I had an easier time aligning tian jian with hong cha (sort of), and liu bao with ripe pu’erh. This guy, though, stands alone. Imagine putting a little brewer’s yeast into a black tea breakfast blend and you get sort of close.
Anyway, I would certainly recommend this to anyone who really enjoys exploring the breadth and depth of Chinese teas. Because it is so different from everything else, it is a necessary pit stop. It took me a full year to wrap my head around it, and I still am, to be honest. Probably not a re-purchase for me, but I’m holding a little back so I can revisit it in another year or so.
Dry leaf: brewer’s yeast, black tea breakfast blend. In preheated vessel – stronger aromas as before, with notes of starchy cooked yam, and hints of grape syrup and bruleed sugar
Smell: brewer’s yeast, cooked yam, dry spices
Taste: brewer’s yeast, milky mild black tea breakfast blend, hints of dark caramel. Aftertaste of hardwood, cream of wheat, with hints of lemongrass.
Wow, this makes for an excellent grandpa style tea. The tea was like drinking dew on top of fresh linens near a lemon tree. As in, it was a typical white tea with a fresh, pure, sweet, and floral profile. I continue to recommend this one for white tea lovers, and it is something that I will continue to try to bring to work-because it is relaxing.
On the same note, What-Cha has MANY new offerings that I am highly willing to try; it’s just difficult because I need to minimize my finances to essentials, and hopefully investments and new skills…and following through on those efforts. I gotta admit that this week was not great, but pretty average for a teacher. Let’s see if I can get through a year.
I’m not normally a huge green oolong fan. Probably explains why I’ve taken so long to try this one.
And while the tropical notes described are faint and more prominent on the aftertaste, this IS a very creamy and drinkable oolong. My son keeps stealing away sips. I’m pleasantly surprised.
Flavors: Creamy, Smooth
You know, I took notes for a review of this tea nearly three weeks ago, but must have forgotten to post a review. Oh well, better late than never, I suppose. I know I have mentioned it before, but I am a big fan of the teas produced by the Castleton Estate, and not surprisingly, I greatly enjoyed this one.
I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped about 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not attempt any subsequent infusions.
Prior to infusion, I noted a mixture of hay, grass, nut, and herb aromas produced by the dry leaf material. After infusion, another sniff revealed green pepper, herb, nut, grass, wood, and malt scents. In the mouth, I found flavors of grass, hay, straw, green pepper, wood, malt, lemon, green apple, pear, roasted almond, and freshly cut flowers. The finish was smooth and pleasant, offering lingering notes of grass, hay, herbs, malt, and lemon. Unlike many Darjeelings, I did not get any Muscatel character at all. This tea was maltier, nuttier, and much more vegetal.
This was one of the most interesting first flush Darjeelings I have ever tried. I don’t really feel that it had all that much in common with some of the other teas from this region that I have been drinking lately. And as odd as the aroma and flavor components may have initially seemed, they worked together beautifully. I would definitely recommend this tea to fans of first flush Darjeelings, but I would do so with the caveat that if you are expecting an overtly fruity tea with any noteworthy amount of the telltale Darjeeling Muscatel character, you may be in for a shock.
Flavors: Almond, Flowers, Grass, Green Apple, Green Pepper, Hay, Herbs, Lemon, Malt, Pear, Straw
delicious stuff. Lovely ‘wild’ fruit taste, with less bitterness than others I have had from around this area. A hint of steamed darkened fruity leaf in there.
It just goes and goes with limited change to the taste of the steeps. Robust good leaf. Soft gummy plump mouthfeel and more candy huigan. So good :)
I’ve surprised myself by developing a craving for this one over the last couple of weeks. Pu’erh is a thing my brain is still afraid of, even though I’ve tried enough by now to know that I actually quite like it. My first experience with this one was good, as far as I can recall. My reacquaintance with it was, possibly, even better. It’s the sweetest pu’erh I’ve ever tried, with a really prominent sugar cane flavour and a decent dose of creaminess. It mellows with successive steeps, the initial heady sweetness fading as more earthy, mulchy flavours develop. It’s kinda perfect for this time of year, and I’m just a little bit addicted. I’m nearly done with my pouch, and this is one I’m (quite unexpectedly) going to miss.
I got a turtle chocolate vibe from this. (here in western Canada we have a chocolate shop called Purdy’s that has the world’s best version of a turtle with high quality milk or dark chocolate, salted pecans, and amazing caramel. This is what I think of when I consider chocolate/caramel/pecans, but I suppose Turtles are a well-recognised brand in the US)
-dark chocolate and cocoa
-very nutty pecan flavour
-the second and third steep had more sweetness to them
-a complex base made from a bunch of teas that go very well together
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Nuts, Nutty, Pecan, Sweet, Tannin
First ripe purchased in almost a year! https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ4pBGLgrBG/?taken-by=liquidproust
When you see quality leaf being fermented without the use of shovels and feet, it’s got to be worth trying right?
Well today I went into this tea after it settled for a few days and I really enjoyed it’s subtle notes. The rinse was clear and by time I hit the first brew, there was a nice ruby red tint to the liquid. Brewing this was really fun because it wasn’t harsh on the mouth. From my experiences, this will become a very lovely tea for someone with my sort of taste buds in just a few more years. As someone who enjoys aged sheng, this will approach that taste a lot better than other shou have that I have tried.
Really looking forward to trying this once a month to track it’s ability to drink on cold nights and with certain foods!
Tea Swap Session
I was sipping this tea for 4 days prior to quitting. When I had opened the sample bag, I saw that it was incredibly compressed. I gave it a few rinses to ‘open’ up more, but due to the compression, it mocked me by looking the same as it had when I first started the session. I steeped it a few times after the first two rinses, but nothing much happened to the compression. The flavor was a little weak, too, so I had to force the chunk apart with my fingers; which seemed to help bring the tea to life.
Day 1 Notes (4 steeps): Nothing much going on with the tea. Pretty light in flavor/color. After brewing this a few times there is still a very tight chunk of tea, so I broke it apart with my fingers and will brew tomorrow.
Day 2 Notes (3 steeps): A little more flavor. Definitely an aged tea. Has that slight basement note, but not your grandma’s basement note/smell. More like, when your mother becomes a grandma, but that hasn’t happened, yet smell/note. Nothing really mind blowing…
Day 4 Notes (Day 3 wasn’t noted; 6 steeps): Starting to lighten up again, but started out bold. Thick mouthfeel, dark liquor. Uncooked pea pods notes (?), still a hint of your mother’s basement (mildew?), and leather (?). Reminds me of a ripe (fake ‘aged’ raw).
My notes were rushed on Day 4, so I’m not really sure what I was writing/thinking. Ha-ha.
Great to drink now grandpa style or daily drinker, or age for later. This brick is compressed very tightly and you will need to be cautious. White tea bricks are always a disaster.
The notes are hot forest floor, honey, paperback book, light molassess, and malt. Grandpa styles gives you more of a meld of malt, milk, and floral, almost like a dian hong with 6 infusions.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2017-turtle-dove-white-tea-brick-white2tea/
Home sick today…
I figured I’d make myself a hot cup of tea; I thought that would be really nice and comforting! The problem is that I made the tea, brought it to my room and then fell asleep before touching it. When I finally did wake up, the tea was of course cold. It still tasted delicious; like pistachio pudding! It even had a thicker and more viscous mouthfeel which emphasized that pudding quality. It just wasn’t the soothing, hot cuppa that I had envisioned…