140 Tasting Notes

This one arrived two days ago. It’s a very comforting tea that, to me, differs somewhat from its description and that can be a good thing. I don’t get anything that reminds me of citrus or fruits (as described by Yuukicha) which I actually think is fine since I prefer more warming-savory flavors this time of year.

This has roasted notes possessing a savory-sweetness that reminded me of naturally sweet chestnut and acorn. This is reflected in the aromas of the wet leaf, which is much closer to deep steamed sencha, as there aren’t any intact leaves here (Yuukicha describes the leaves as mostly intact).
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There’s a depth and complexity in the aroma and aftertaste that reminds me of a primordial forest. It has that certain rustic charm that I think is unique to Japanese sencha. It’s perfect for those early autumn mornings.

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The tea soup is quite clear and pale green in color. Its sweet, mellow flavors were pretty straight forward and enjoyable, but there are other hidden flavors that can be picked up if the drinker sits quietly with the tea.

The light vegetal notes remind me of fresh young spinach from the garden, young fern, and alfalfa. Oceanic notes are reminiscent of roasted Korean nori. It just feels very clean and pure. The tea coats the tongue with a luxurious softness and subtle vibration as it goes down the throat, which I attribute to how well it was processed.

I haven’t had gyokuro for over a decade. Mainly due to it’s overly seaweed-like and umami-heavy flavor. I’ve definitely had pleasant oceanic notes in sencha, but the way these flavors are expressed in most gyokuro weren’t enjoyable and felt artificial to me. However, Yuuki-cha sells very reliably good green tea. Period. Thus, I thought I’d give gyokuro another try, especially since their Kirishima Gyokuro Saemidori was $13/50g at time of purchase. I wasn’t disappointed!

Nowadays, I find myself reaching for this tea more often than my young sheng pu’er. In all it’s subtly and softness, I find I don’t have to pay attention to this tea to enjoy it. It’s perfect for work as well as relaxation.

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I’ve had this sample lying around for over a year. I tried it the year it was pressed and didn’t like the sweet fruity rum, dates, prunes, and molasses flavor combos I was getting then. I’m sure those notes sound nice to some folks, but it reminded me too much of Christmas fruit cake – something I strongly dislike.

Well, here I am revisiting this one on a cool, rainy Sunday afternoon…and I’m happy with where it’s at. It’s a lot more subtle and complex. Much less boozy and sweet. There’s a little brandy and dried fruit in the front, but it quickly moves into the background, allowing more subtle notes of brown sugar, green wood, Chinese dates (hence the “zao” in tea’s name), and sandalwood. The tea’s bitterness and astringency comes through as the liquid cools in the cup. It’s not overwhelming, but just enough to add interest. In a way, the bitterness exhibits the tea’s clean nature. It transforms into a very nice huigan, which mingles for a while with some residual bitterness on the tongue and in the back of the mouth.

These subtle notes allow the drinker to enjoy the tea’s less tangible aspects — warming qi, tingly and cooling sensations on the tongue, and strong mouthfeel. The qi is felt in the chest and back of the head. It’s got a nice calming energy that lasts a while, making mundane tasks, such as vacuuming, more meditative. All in all, the tea has become more subtle, but definitely distinct and more pleasurable. It will stay with the drinker throughout the day.

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(If you don’t want to read my thoughts, skip down to the last three paragraphs for flavor notes.)

I’m under the impression that most of us in the West have yet to experience really good white tea. For whatever reason, white teas just aren’t popular outside the Chinese cultural realm. And Westerners who practice gongfu-stlyle tea drinking gravitate towards oolong, black, pu’er, and green teas.

White tea is comparatively more subtle, which requires more attention from the tea drinker to appreciate its nuances. You’d be hard pressed enough patience in a post-modern Western society to generate a market for something as soft-spoken as authentic Fujian white tea.

I think of white tea as naked tea. It cannot impress with flavor and aroma alone like, say, an Assam black tea or Taiwanese high mountain oolong. Therefore, leaf quality and skilled processing will have to speak for themselves – which my fellow sheng pu’er drinkers understand can be expressed via: mouthfeel, aftertaste, sensations (cooling/tingling/silky), viscosity, qi, and throat / body feel.

Cindy emphasized the strength of this tea, and I can see why. I haven’t had a white tea like this before. This tea has all of the above, including strong aroma (ripened peach and pear and fresh chamomile flowers) and subtle, sophisticated flavors (Korean pear, chamomile, sweet grass, raw sugar cane juice, and a hint of nutmeg).

What’s really incredible about this tea is it’s very strong mouthfeel, which combined with qi will take the drinker for a nice euphoric ride. The leaves are quite green and non-uniform compared with regular silver needle – which to me makes them more attractive.

I drank this at work with a tumbler and at home using a gaiwan. Maybe my office’s water filter was recently switched, but I enjoyed my office session a lot more. I had to actually step away from drinking it because the combo of qi and mouthfeel was so intense. It made the world stop for a moment.

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This is the kind of green tea I’ve been looking forward to all winter. I sort of internally celebrate each year’s harvest – it’s really my chance to experience different tea regions. Based on the description, this one is from Zheng He county in Fujian, where Cindy sources her Advanced Bai Mu Dan white tea. I think it shares many similarities with that tea.

The dry leaf aroma is intoxicating – ripe fruit and orchids. It has good structure to it – beyond just flavors, as it’s more subtle than other green teas, with a sweetness that is closer to mineral than vegetal. It somewhat resembles the Laoshan imperial green tea (of which I am a fan) in appearance and Huangshan maofeng in its flavor characteristics, but I this one wins in terms of qi, mouthfeel, and depth. It also feels more refined and can for at least 7 steeps.

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For me, black teas need to be outstanding for me to bother with them. I just find other teas more agreeable taste-wise. This was one of those exceptional black teas that has me coming back for more. It’s got that typical malty black tea thing, but there’s so much more going on here. Very nice mouthfeel and feeling in the throat and body. It’s gentle, yet assertive in its uniqueness. Great depth and viscosity as well. The leaves look “wild” – spindly tendrils with a maocha-like appearance.

It’s highly fragrant, both dry and wet leaf – musky floral and sweet forest mist – and not smoky at all (huge plus in my book). This is reflected in the flavor, which has an intriguing character – mellow mineral sweetness with notes of dried cherries, wild flowers, molasses, and moss. This is one of those feel-good teas. Cindy has been sourcing these leaves and processing them herself for a long time. I think it’s this combination that makes this tea extra special. Black tea-lovers should definitely check out Wuyiorigin and try this one.

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Among all of the YS 2017 presses, this was my favorite for several reasons.

1. It has an intriguing complexity that reminds me of some Yiwu teas, yet it’s distinctively Jinggu. That complexity is well described in the tea’s description, but I would add that there’s good depth and a mellow qi. There’s a brothy richness that reminds me of truffles and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, but that doesn’t matter since the tea is less than 1 year old at the time of this writing and flavors change most rapidly during the first few years. I expect this will develop very nicely.

2. The price is right. I think this was $74, which will go up in a week or so as YS gets ready to welcome 2018 teas. It’s not cheap tea, but it’s very reasonable considering the current market.

3. I don’t have other teas like this in my collection.

I finished this sample quickly and ordered a cake.

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I’ve been returning to senchas after having consistently drank raw pu’er and to a lesser extent, Chinese greens, Taiwanese and Wuyi oolongs, and heichas. That’s not to say I’m done with these teas. I’ve just been craving that distict combination of steamed bitter greens, brininess, moss, and floral and piney notes that are unique to Japanese sencha. I’m definitely a green tea kind of guy and I consider senchas to be at the greenest end of the spectrum in both taste and color.

I began my tea nerd journey with sencha, so maybe this is my baseline for all teas? I find them to be the most comforting of all teas. Maybe it’s that final roasting stage that makes this so, or maybe it’s the lack of fuss with regards to tea ware? No need for a chahai and no fussy filter, tea table, tea pets, or anything like that. Just a kyusu and mid-sized cup. Done.

There’s nothing remarkable about this tea. It’s even less fussy in nature since it’s aracha and tea stems and tea dust have not been sorted, making it a cheaper but IMO just as tasty. It’s seems to be mid to heavily steamed, as some of the leaves are in tact, but most are in pieces. The initial steeps are sweet and savory grass with faint hints of young pine shoots and wild flowers. I like it.

Mid steeps reveal more sweet grassy notes and roasted zucchini and broccoli. The tea soup begins an attractive light lime green with tea bits settling in the bottom, but mid steeps yield a more swampy dark green. So this isn’t the most visually appealing tea, but it’s still quite tasty and comforting. I’ve been wanting this for a while. I found myself in a slightly more meditative and focused state for the rest of the day.

The fifth and sixth steeps were lighter of course, but still revealed similar roasted veggie and sweet grass notes to those mid-steeps and was never unpleasant in its astringency. Perfect way to celebrate Daylight Savings Time and the coming of spring.

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I wanted to see how similar this was to the He Tao Di, since they shared a very similar description. The teas are indeed quite similar in flavor profile (see YS description…it’s spot on), but less so in structure and body feel. There is a lovely brinyness and orchid essence in both flavor and fragrance. This one, however, has more depth and saccharin-like sweetness without going overboard. It’s medium bodied while the HTD is more viscous and floral. My wife first thought she was drinking a Dan Cong oolong!

Less qi than the HTD, but still not bad at all. My whole body is relaxed after 2 cups. There’s more sweetness, a very nice, prolonged mouthfeel. and a pleasant feeling in the throat. The leaves are highly in tact and have a pungent floral/chocolaty scent. Nice structure in this tea. I can feel it in the back of the throat, yet it’s still gentle. I would describe the mouthfeel like a blooming sensation while also penetrating. It’s a very fine tea, but a little over my budget.

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drank 2017 Bellwether by White2Tea
140 tasting notes

This was a surprise. I inadvertently did a blind tasting with this and I really like it. What I appreciate most about this tea is the combination of good depth, power, and interesting flavors that are not one particular note. The liquor is a clear, pale yellow and the leaves have a smoky and wet, old-growth forest scent. Immediately, it displays great depth and three-dimensionality. It’s quite smooth with medium viscosity. The mouthfeel sits very nicely and is accompanied by powerful qi after the 3rd steep. I agree with Paul’s description of “subtle strength”. It sneaks up on the drinker and then takes the driver’s seat.

Fantastic subtlety, yet with a boldness conveyed through the huigan, mouthfeel, and qi. This tea doesn’t exude very much of that Yiwu-sweetness that I am used to. The sweetness lies in its high floral notes which are coupled with strong bitterness and notes of tart/dry grape skin. I’m sure there’s a lot more going on in there I am not covering, but there you have it. There is that mossy, old-growth forest note (not simply earthy) that I found in the Colbert Holand and 2 Late. This is noticeable right away, here. The hay and tobacco are gentle, but are probably the key indicators of the tea’s eastern Xishuangbanna provenance. It’s an excellent blend that I wish I could afford.

JC

I should have sampled this one. lol

tanluwils

it’s really really yummy stuff. There is more depth and dimension than the FDT and Poundcake.

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Bio

My ever expanding list of obsessions, passions, and hobbies:

Tea, cooking, hiking, plants, East Asian ceramics, fine art, Chinese and Central Asian history, environmental sustainability, traveling, foreign languages, meditation, health, animals, spirituality and philosophy.

I drink:
young sheng pu’er
green tea
roasted oolongs
aged sheng pu’er
heicha
shu pu’er
herbal teas (not sweetened)

==

Personal brewing methods:

Use good mineral water – Filter DC’s poor-quality water, then boil it using maifan stones to reintroduce minerals。 Leaf to water ratios (depends on the tea)
- pu’er: 5-7 g for 100 ml
(I usually a gaiwan for very young sheng.)
- green tea: 2-4 g for 100 ml
- oolong: 5-7 g for 100 ml
- white tea: 2-4 g for 100 ml
- heicha: 5-6 g for 100 ml
(I occasionally boil fu cha a over stovetop for a very rich and comforting brew.)

Location

Washington, DC

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