409 Tasting Notes
I actually meant to prepare the Smoked Wuyi Black from this month’s TotMC, but accidentally grabbed this instead. I’ve had this a number of times already and it’s been a hard one to evaluate, because it’s so unlike what I’m used to from yunnan black teas. It’s not really sweet, or chocolatey, or spicy in the usual way. I can’t fathom putting milk or sugar in it.
I always notice the olive oil flavors, and it usually makes me think of Mediterranean food in general: olive oil, grape leaves, preserved lemons, savory spices. It’s very good! But I have to be in the mood for a grown-up tea, and I don’t usually prepare it in my yunnan yixing because it’s so atypical. It’s smooth like honey but not so sweet. Not very bitter, either. Just very distinctive all around.
I probably have more of this than I will ever drink – PM me if it sounds like something you’d love and I’ll get a few samples together to give away.
I didn’t read the description on this tea before trying it, so I was impressed with myself for being able to tell the style (lightly oxidized rolled oolong) just from smelling the dry leaf after tearing the packet open, before looking :D
Brewed, it smells very much like a Tie Guan yin, floral and creamy and sweet, but the flavor is more buttery, reminiscent of Samovar’s Four Seasons (also a lightly-oxidized Taiwanese oolong, that one is actually cultivated from a Tie Guan Yin varietal). I’m also getting a bit of vegetal green flavor on the front now, on my 3rd steep, though the back-end and aftertaste are still very floral. Think water lilies.
This is lovely, I was going to say it’s a bit weak, but the 3rd steep actually has a lot of character – maybe my 2nd was just a bit short. I’m still planning to do the other sample gong-fu style, for comparison’s sake.
1 sample pack, 8oz water, 3 steeps so far
Dry leaf: ooh, that does smell nutty! And looks like what I’ve come to expect from a quality Dragonwell, large green leaves pressed flat and slightly shiny, with the dustiness you get from a Silver Needle or Yunnan Gold (not fannings). Nice color, a little yellower than the sencha from earlier today. Smells sweeter, and lighter.
Flavor: mineral, and a little drying with that. Crisp, and yes nutty. Very nice! Will update with later steeps.
1 sample pack, 8oz water
Mmm, it’s been awhile since I had a good Japanese green. From the bright green of the wet leaves and the rich spinachy smell this seems more like a gyokuro than a sencha to me (not that I’m complaining!)
The liquor is a lovely green-gold, and the flavor is surprisingly mild, not very bitter. Like dark leafy greens, lightly steamed steamed, or miso soup. This is very comforting on a winter morning
On steep 2, there’s definitely a sharp flavor that may be the sorrel? I don’t actually know what sorrel tastes like :P but I’ve been noticing this tang that’s almost fruity but not as sweet.
Mm, dry leaf smells chocolatey, and little like H&S’s Florence, so I guess I’m getting hazelnut? Brewing in my 5oz gaiwan again, since that worked so well for the last Steepster select.
And, just broke my gaiwan saucer, so I’m going to have to finish this later!
Edit: I ended up chilling most of this to drink later – it was very tasty iced. I don’t think I was getting the chocolate in the liquor that I noticed int he dry leaf, but it was pleasantly roasty in the way that chocolate, coffee, nuts etc. are
3g leaf, ~4oz water, five steeps
Brewing the second pack of this at home, in a 5oz gaiwan. Measured the dry leaf first this time – almost 5 grams! That would definitely explain why 3 minutes in 8oz water seemed like too much last time.
This is really really good. I’m on steep 8 now, I think, starting to lose track of the number. It’s rich, and honeyed, a little like an Assam, a little like a Darjeeling (but not quite as floral, more spicy). There’s some astringency, but not in a bad way – it provides a nice counter to the thick mouthfeel.
This is just what I wanted this afternoon. It tastes like nothing more than sun-warmed veggies, fresh out of the garden: warm, sweet, green, rich. Green beans, or sugar snap peas, or maybe even tomato. A little taste of sunshine on a cold day :)
To think I used to find green teas always too weak and/or bitter!
~2tsp/8oz, 6 steeps
I had actually forgotten that I signed up for Steepster select until I got the email that it had shipped! Must’ve been a black Friday or holiday sale? I went for the darkest, most warming tea first, because it’s really really cold today.
I used one full sample bag (there are two of each tea, and the bags are not resealable; I’ll measure the quantity when I get home) for 8oz water. They suggested boiling water, so I heated my mug over the kettle to avoid the temperature drop from pouring into a cold vessel.
First impressions: dry leaf is big, dark, and twisted, like a wuyi oolong, but they list this as a red/black tea. Liquor: very red! Smells like… an assam? Yes, an assam. With all the rich honey notes, but also a hint that the taste might be more tannic. Taste: oddly muted, definitely a little bitter on the front, then mellows out into something more chewy, like a dark wheat bread. I’m not getting any of the cinnamon or clove spices – will have to see if they come out on later steeps.
So far, I’m not too impressed. I will try the other sample of this gongfu style, it seems like it might benefit from shorter, more intense steeps. This manages to be mild and muddled at the same time. It smells delicious though! Maybe milk and sugar? I try not to do that to good teas, but I also don’t drink a lot of black teas completely straight.
Edit: I like the second steep better. I’m getting more of the subtle spice notes now. I think the first steep was just too much leaf/time/temp and got muddy. I ended up steeping this 4 times, steeps 2 and 3 were the best, though the first steep was also improved by a dash of milk and sugar. Fans of Assam and Darjeeling might appreciate this more than I did.
I’ve been missing blends now that they have their own monthly club and the “classic” tends to be all pure teas, so I decided to join the “Blend” club for a month or two. I was a little taken aback by this month’s theme – Tulsi is not one of favorites, though I don’t dislike it either. But, I really like this one. Especially on later steeps it tastes like marshmallows! Something about the sarsaparilla in combination with a well-suited oolong? I don’t know, but it’s awesome. I usually get a little annoyed with the way flavors taper off on later steeps but this is one where the balance just gets better. I’m on steep 4 or 5, with 2tsp(roughly 5g)/8oz water