437 Tasting Notes
Green tea has been marketed as a distinct Rizhao Brand in Rizhao, Shandong,
China since the 1998, though tea has been grown here on a wider commercial basis since the 60’s. It is often referred to as Sunshine, sunfall tea. Sometimes it is referred to as jiangbei ( north of the river tea) as well ( though this many not be unique to Rizhao tea). It is a popular enough tea in China that it has been subject to the problem of fakes ( with some
counterfeiter going so far as to dying tea, and some sellers cutting it with
tea from the south of China).
Rizhao tea is often marketed as a “health tea” because it has been shown to have higher levels of Catechins, amino acids, and selenium than other green teas produced in China.
It usually is known for having a blue green colour ( though those grown under green houses can be a lighter colour) and a chestnut/pea/fruity flavour. It is produced in xueqing ( curled ) form, a lonjing type form and a needle like form, over 4 seasons. It is one of the more northerly teas produced in China.
Some good sources of articles are ( when viewed by translator):
Currently I have two greens from the same plantation, both picked in late
winter/early spring and grown under greenhouses ( if the taobao site is to be believed: http://chayedian.taobao.com/category-334660585.htm?spm=a1z10.4.0.0.Lc8DRm&search=y&parentCatId=323244125&parentCatName=%C8%D5%D5%D5%C2%CC%B2%E8&catName=%C8%D5%D5%D5%C2%CC%B2%E8+%B4%F3%C5%EF%B2%E8#bd )
The first one sold as snow sunshine on aliexpress and early spring on the taobao site was harvested on 20/03/2013.
The second one was sold as Xianshuang type ( a thick and dense aroma/flavour
type) or spring tea and was harvested on 01/04/2013.
The snow sunshine tea is thick and loosely rolled coils with the leaves seeming wider than the xianshuang type. Short white hairs are visible on the leaves with the colour ranging from deep blue, green , through spruce green to a lighter grass green colour. The scent of the dry tea is fruity, with a touch of a roasted scent and touch of alfalfa/legume type scent. It smells less intense than the xianshuang type.
The xianshuang type is more tightly rolled with the leaves appearing smaller and slightly more coiled. The colour is a deeper spruce to blue green with pale green patches from furry buds and hairs. The scent is more of a fresh green scent rather than fruity, with a hint of a roasted savoury note.
They both steep to a pale greenish yellow, with the first steep appearing quite light after 45s at 82*C and with the colour intensifying and yellowing in later steeps (55, 70s).
The snow type smells very fruity with melon tones accompanied by chestnut, a
hint of smoke, and cooked peas, while the Xianshuang type has stronger chestnut notes with peas, and a faint floral/fruit plum note.
The snow type taste of a refreshing honeydew melon , a hint of fresh snap pea with a bit of chestnut underneath, accompanied with faint flavour from
roasting. In later steeps it remains fruity but savoury notes of chestnut, a roasted note and a slightly bitter spinach note develop more prominence. This is a refreshing, smooth, fruity green.
The Xiansuang type tastes of chestnut, spinach, and alfalfa/peas, along with a tone of warm, ripe, plum with a hint of papaya ( the small, rounder, sweeter ones). It is buttery, heavier, and more savoury than the earlier harvest tea with a denser broth. It smells and tastes fruitier as it cools.
Later steeps taste heavier and denser. This tea is refreshing but leaves a more tingling feeling in the mouth and has a bit more bitterness than the earlier harvest.
These teas both make really nice fruity greens with chestnut notes and with
references to peas and other legumes. I really enjoy the melon tones of the snow type and appreciate the more savoury notes of the later harvest.
**These teas were bought from aliexpress store Chinese Tea Distributor.
Which appears to be an online seller for Qingquan Yu Ming ( Yu Ming Springs
also known as Imperial Ming Cha), a company which has been buying and selling tea within China since 1984 and seems to be specializing in Kim Chun Mei, Jasmine teas and Teas from Shandong( mostly green, but some Laoshan black teas).
This tea smells of sweet cooked apple and a fruity base tea with pastry like hints.
I find it benefits from a 5 minute steep. The base does not overpower the flavouring and the fruit is stronger than when I steeped it with shorter steeps. The rose blends with apple flavour in such away that the tea reminds me of spring with a reference to apple blossoms ( which makes sense as they are in the same family), and at other times it reminds me of fall as I get an aftertaste of cooked apples. The base has enough tannins and astringency to give the tea a certain thickness and a reference to baked goods, but taste wise it is quite fruity, and freshening. The bite of Rose becomes more apparent as it cools. It’s quite nice.I think I prefer the brightness of Nina’s Marie Antoinette with its crisp granny smith apple like reference and it’s lighter base, but this is still very pleasant and enjoyable.
I picked This up on sale at Winner’s today after Dexter’s review of 100 Mysteries last night. I figured it was worth a chance.
It makes a pretty nice tea for the holiday’s. It smells of cinnamon and raisins when dry and once brewed it is a pretty red colour and smells like a Christmas pudding.
It smells strongly of cinnamon, raisins and dried fruit. The taste is pleasant and is less sweet and spicy than it smells. The rooibos is smooth and
disappears in a vanilla like note. The cinnamon and fruit combine with a pastry like notes that remind me of a spicy french toast made with brioche. The rooibos is well hidden, with cinnamon being the dominant flavour and with the fruit underneath. A nice, cinnamon fruit tea for the holidays.
This tea produces a nice rich and brisk brew. It brews up to the colour of coffee and smells of biscuit, spice, and red fruit. This tea is smooth, with good bitter malt notes, and a nice briskness. It tastes of cocoa and biscuit which sweetens to honey, spice,a hint of sandalwood and cherry and blackberries. As it cools the bitter cocoa notes mix blend nicely with the sweeter top notes and the red fruit becomes more apparent.
This tea makes a nice morning cup with the malt, cocoa and biscuit notes nicely apparent and well blended with a fruity Ceylon. Very enjoyable.
Having had this tea a couple of times this tea tastes and smells to me of hazelnut caramels with some coffee notes.
The caramel flavour is dominant and it tastes like the kraft caramel squares from halloween, with nutty hazelnut underneath. The hazelnut is pretty authentic those with allergies should stay away as it leaves me with an itchy throat. It brews to a dark red amber. The base tea is sweet and fruity with some spicy slightly leathery notes and subtle bitter coffee like notes underneath and and is smooth if brewed around 90-95. It becomes bitter if steeped at boiling.
The packaging is cute, a tall metal canister with a music box built in. The tune is unfamiliar to me but is pleasant and cheerful!
I have four Rizhao blacks in my cupboard right now and each of them are quite different. One tastes almost exactly like hot chocolate, another of caramel, another of light smoke honey and cocoa and then there is this one. This one is the most robust of them so far and most similar to the Laoshan blacks I’ve tried, but it is unique in it’s own right. It also delivers a pretty potent dose of caffeine, which is currently buzzing through out my body.
It brewed to a red orange amber colour. The first steeps smelled of roasted grain, honey, cocoa, mash from making malt, plum, cinnamon and a lemon note.
At 70s it tasted of a lemon plum top note, opening to cocoa, honey,caramel and cinnamon flavours. As it cools malt becomes more apparent, and exhibited some tones you can get from a honeyed ale. It is smooth and slightly buttery with a reference to cream, yet has a brisk feeling from a good dose of caffeine. The aftertaste has good cocoa with light grain/ Ovaltine notes, and is slightly spicy on the and peppery on the tongue.
Subsequent steeps ( 2, 2.5, 3.5m) have exhibited similar tones along with the introduction of a light vanilla into the mix. As it cools the tea becomes very sweet with the honey notes this tea contains becoming very apparent. I think I’ll be nursing this tea for a few more steeps at least!
The flavouring in this tea is like a cross between Italian Torrone and Turkish Delight. I quite like it, but I find that if you want the flavouring to pop brew it for less than the recommended four or 5 minutes. I can definitely taste the marzipan which blends well with a slightly fruity, slightly bitter rose and Jasmine. For those who hate floral teas this is not overly floral, it’s more candy like. The almond flavour is part marzipan, part nougat and part cake ( if you’ve had a cake baked with almond flour). It is not overly sweet, which is nice as I prefer to be able to sweeten a tea to my own tastes. The Tea is quite pretty with a scattering of rose buds, jasmine pieces and sliced almonds. The base is a chinese black but it brews up to that thick sort of consistency that assams often have.
The tea brews up to a dark amber and smells of a rich white cake. The base tea underneath brews up to a thick, slightly tannic and malty fruity tea. It adds a slightly bready texture to the tea and would handle milk or cream well. I find that if allowed to brew too long the base overtakes the flavouring of the tea.
The tea re-steeps nicely. The more I sip this tea it reminds me of cake, which is nice and fitting since it’s my ‘jour de naissance’.
When I first opened this packet the scent of the dry leaves was very intense, with sharp, bright, notes that seemed almost harsh and pungent at first, but mellowed to notes of grape, lemon, spicy, earthy, biscuit notes with a hint of woody sandalwood.
The leaves are fairly large, and are mostly various shades of brown, with some sage to olive green silvery tips.
Because of the intensity of the dry leaf scent I used slightly less leaf than I normally do and instead used 1 tsp/225ml which I brewed at 3 minutes at 90*c.
The tea brewed to a copper amber colour. The scent of the brewed tea was awesome with hints of fruity white wine, lychee, pink grapefruit, spice( fall leaves mixed with carnation), with a hint of biscuit underneath.
The first flavour note was bright and fruity, followed by biscuit with a fall leaf note accompanied by a light astringency that opens to fruit notes of wine, grapefruit , a hint of melon, and a light syrupy note. I found this to be a relatively smooth and bright darjeeling.
The tea finishes with a bright clean feeling in the mouth that fades to a spicy note that lingers in the mouth. The fruit and spice dominate over the earthy tones.
The 2nd steep at 4 minutes produced a smooth, and a bit heavier and deeper flavoured liquor with spicy, leaf note, over more distinct, wine note with slight woody sandalwood. nutty note, followed by citrus notes and syrup.
A 3rd steep at 5min was slightly floral, with lychee, citrus, and syrup notes over faint sandalwood.
The spent leaves were entire and were mostly brown with some green ones.
Altogether this tea was very enjoyable and I could easily see myself keeping a little bit of it in my collection. Thanks again to Capital Tea Ltd. for this generous sample.
Of the two Rizhao blacks that I have at the moment this is one is probably the less complex but on the other hand it tastes strongly of hot chocolate and because of this I am pretty sure it is my favourite of the two at the moment.
This tea brews to a reddish brown and has flavour notes of hot chocolate over malt with honeyed grain, caramel and cinnamon, with faint roasted notes. It smells like hot chocolate with a touch of Ovaltine.
This time I brewed 1.5tsp/225ml for about 1 min at around 90*C.
I think it does a little better brewed for a little less time if you want the chocolate to dominate over the malt. However it was still good. Resteeps well for 4-6 steeps.
I bought this through Aliexpress.
I bought it at this store http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Black-tea-2013-tea-top-small-250g-bulk/1170792688.html
but I am pretty sure this is the same item
and this company is offering a chance to try a sample pack.
This tea is quite different than the Chinese blacks I’ve been drinking lately. For one thing the spent leaves are huge, with the one I measured being 5.5cm long or around 2.25 inches. Secondly it’s flavour profile reminds me a little bit of a cross between a Indian and a Taiwanese( I haven’t had many of these though) assam. It has the thick rich texture of an Indian assam, replete with malt and biscuit, combined with the bright fruit and spice notes, of mint, nutmeg and cinnamon I’ve had more in the Taiwanese versions. Really interesting and nice flavour notes which were not exactly what I was expecting as the dry leaf smells mostly of chocolate and cinnamon.
The leaves themselves look exactly like the picture, dark, thick, glossy and twisted. I used around 1.5 tsp for 225ml and brewed at around 95*C.
50s brewed to a rich reddish brown
scent: red fruit, malt, cinnamon, nutmeg note, hint of biscuit, honey,
flavour: fruit ( a cherry, currant like note), honey, malt, slight floral note, hint of chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg.
faintly astringent, rich makes a nice breakfast tea,
45s above notes with a slightly minty fruit note (reminds me of creeping snowberry (northern peat bog plant with white berries tasting of blueberry and mint)). It’s smoother with more cocoa and a stronger nutmeg note. Feels cooling.
60s spice, nutmeg, cinnamon fruit, cocoa, malt fruit and honey.
90s faint fruit malt, biscuit, hint of cocoa.
Next time I’d like to try a longer western style brew to see what notes come out.
This was a really interesting tea that I think would make a nice breakfast tea. Thanks again to Capital Tea for their generous opportunity to sample this tea. http://www.capitaltea.com/shop/product.php?productid=224&cat=6&page=1