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Recent Tasting Notes
The last Andao in my cupboard that hadn’t been tasted and written about.
In the tin, it has a roasty aroma, mostly mild but with a sharp note that is common in my experience of dark oolongs.
Gaiwan. Rinse. 195F, 15 seconds plus 5 seconds for each steep thereafter.
The tea is a light amber color and clear, and it has an amazing, amazing smell and flavor. I think the amazing part is mostly because this flavor is so surprising from the smell of the dry leaves.
I totally expected one of those roasty toasty dark oolongs. This has almost nothing in common with those flavors except in the dry leaf.
The overwhelming impression I got was of sweetness in the aroma, and something fruity. But sweet to the point of almost being candy like. My first thought was ripe pineapple, but it doesn’t have the sharpness that’s present even in a sweet, ripe pineapple.
The second steep gave a darker amber color and an equally sweet and fruity aroma and flavor. This time I thought of plums, though that’s also not quite right.
The description from Andao mentions orange floral tones — not sure what those are like and whether they are like oranges. I tried to find a citrus note in this but that’s not what I’m getting.The third and fourth steeps delivered a lovely honey note.
This is a special one.
Flavors: Fruity, Pineapple, Plums, Roasted
This is a darker oolong — the leaves are a dark, chocolate brown for the most part. They’re of medium length and a little twisty. In the tin, they have a roasty, sharp smell.
Gaiwan, rinse, 195F, 15 secs + 5 cumulatively for later steeps. I did four because I am pressed for time.
The color is really pretty — coppery amber and clear. The tea smells just slightly roasty toasty. That’s not the dominant aroma, though. Mostly what I smell is honey.
And that’s mostly what I taste as well, through all steeps. There’s a hint of roastiness but no smoke, and the sharp note smooths out in the steeping.
I had expected peaches, apricots, stonefruits, but got honey. I’ll take it.
Plus the name is awesome!
Flavors: Honey, Roasted, Toasty
I got this as a sample a long time ago and never opened it. Now it is part of my continuing pu-erh adventures.
The leaves in the packet smell earthier than those of the other shengs I’ve had recently. A little roasted, slightly smoky even.
I used boiling water, rinsed and let the leaves sit for 15+ minutes before steeping in the gaiwan at 5/5/7/7/10/10/20/30/40/60
It’s pretty late in the day for me to be having caffeine, so I’m feeling a little internal pressure to finish up the day’s tasting. I’m also feeling as though by the steep note taking isn’t really necessary for the reasons I mentioned in the Bana Orchid Charm note, namely that I’m not noticing a lot of change from steep to steep. I had expected more in general, but that’s not what I’m tending to get. Maybe I’m doing something wrong?
This tea starts pale yellow and becomes golden in color with later steeps, similar to the others I’ve tasted recently. Its aroma and flavor are subtly different — rounder somehow, richer. Not so much linen/flax as sweet tobacco and cocoa. Duskier but still smooth.
Middle steeps made me think of pralines — sugary-nutty.
Another general note. I expected the shengs I have to taste more different from each other than they do, but so far they’ve all been very similar. I might like one a little better than another but really, it feels like splitting hairs.
Maybe my palate isn’t developed enough yet.
Flavors: Earth, Nutty, Roasted, Smoke, Sugar, Tobacco
Starting with oolongs again today. This may be the new normal.
This one is fascinating and wonderful. I don’t think I’ve had anything like it before.
It’s also pretty surprising, starting with the smokiness of the dry leaf. The typical sharp, roasty dark oolong note is not present at all, but a definite smokiness is.
I steeped in the gaiwan, five steeps in five second increments starting at 15 seconds after rinsing.
The first steep was lighter in color than the others — a light yellow, while the others were a more medium golden color.
The tea is smoky, not roasty-toasty, and it is sweet. It starts sweet in a floral sort of way and since it is named rare orchid, I’m going to say that’s the flower.
On subsequent steeps, something fruity appears, but it’s not the woody-fruit flavor of some other dark oolongs, what I think of as stonefruit because it reminds me of sucking on peach pits. This is, instead, the fruit itself, and I am having a hard time putting my finger on which fruit. I want to say peach, or maybe a sweet melon. There’s still some smoke, and still some nectar-like sweetness.
I went for a fifth steep with this and I could have gone more. Toward the end, I started to get something confectionary, like almond pastry. I must emphasize that for me, there is no toastiness here but there is smoke.
Fascinating, surprising, and delicious. Too bad Andao is no more.
Flavors: Floral, Melon, Nectar, Orchid, Peach, Smoke
Last caffeine of the day, but first let’s play count the pu-erhs that I have in my cupboard but haven’t written about.
This is going to be a lot because I’m sort of afraid of pu-erh. Not of how it tastes, but of making it correctly.But I’m thinking that when I’ve made it through all the blacks in the cupboard I’ll have to gird my loins and go after these.
It’s not as intimidating as I thought. I have 21 untasted, unwritten about pu-erhs in the cupboard. However, I have many, many more samples that I have not entered in the cupboard.
What I’ve been doing with the oolongs is probably what I’ll do with the pu-erhs. I’ll taste a max of 2 per tasting a day, one a sample and one in the cupboard, until I get to the end of either of those groups.
This one has beautiful, chocolate to black colored leaves that are big and twisty. They have a sharp wood-mineral-stonefruit note in the tin.
Short steeps after rinsing. Starting at 15 sec at 195F. In the gaiwan.
The color is a really pretty apricot, and clear. I smell apricot-like stonefruit as well, and something darker and sweeter, like brown sugar. The sharpness of the dry leaf aroma isn’t apparent in the sip. It’s quite smooth. The tea has an earthy, slightly sweet flavor that also brings in a note of rocks after rain.
The second steep brought out an unexpected floral note and a hint of something that straddles cocoa and smoke. There’s a deceptiveness to this tea. It seems pretty straightforward, but the more you taste it the more it reveals its complexity.
The third steep heads back to the stonefruit notes but still with a floral aspect. If asked, I’d say I prefer green oolongs to dark. But when I drink something like this, I am reminded that I also quite enjoy dark oolongs. The aftertaste of the third steep has something about it that makes me think of masculine decor and hunting lodges. Dark wood, leather, cigars. I don’t really taste leather, I just think of it. But I do taste a wood note, and a tobacco one.
The fourth steep makes me think of dark sweet things like molasses, though I don’t think it really tastes like molasses so much as caramelized sugar.
I was so enjoying the flavor parade that I went for a fifth steep (I’m really fighting impatience here, as I must must must get on the Peloton imminently or I won’t have time to exercise before my haircut). I could do more were I not short of time.
The last steep didn’t change much from the previous one, which makes me feel less bad about not sitting with this longer.
This is all kinds of interesting and complex. For that, I give it high marks.
Flavors: Apricot, Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Earth, Floral, Mineral, Molasses, Smoke, Stonefruit, Tobacco, Wet Rocks, Wood
The BF is sick. He has some throat thing. So I am making extra of this so he can drink something hot.
In the tin, these furry little guys smell like sweet hay. They give off an interesting pink tinge to pale yellow tea after steeping. It’s very, very slight, but noticeable.
Oddly, there’s something a little on the bready/pastry side about the steeped tea’s aroma, though that’s not coming through in the flavor.
I don’t get a nutty flavor, though I can see that it might tend that way. What I get is cotton candy. Spun sugar with a little bit of hay behind it, a bit like sugarcane.
Which is sort of a first for me with silver needles. So yay.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Hay, Pastries, Sugar, Sugarcane
Sipdown no. 119 of 2018 (no. 475 total).
The last of this is cold brewing in the fridge as we speak. I didn’t have enough for a full pitcher, so I supplemented with Golden Moon Snow Sprout. Actually, this last pitcher is slightly more than half Snow Sprout.
I did have a pitcher that was pure White Peony, though. As usual, the cold brew brings out the flavor of white tea for me in a way that I just can’t seem to get with hot water most of the time.
It was a refreshing and tasty cold tea.
As I promised myself, I am trying this again first thing (at 10 — how did that happen? Oh wait, I know — I spent last night talking with No. 1 until after midnight, and I don’t stay up that late anymore).
I think the “undefined fruitiness” of yesterday was a holdover from the Todd & Holland. I’m not getting that today. I am getting a hint of butter, strangely enough. And a slight vegetal flavor, which is also surprising. The characteristic white tea flavor I have trouble describing is the most prevalent of the flavors.
I’m going to try another white peony after this and see how it compares.
Moving right along through the white tea stash…
Andao is no more, but I still have a number of teas left from my one and only order back in the day, including a couple of white teas.
Because the company is kaput, I couldn’t find a picture of this. The dry leaves are prettier than most — I love the variegated colors, sizes, and shapes of white peony leaves and these are particularly attractive ranging from silver to dark brown and from long, thin, rolled leaves to short, flat, irregularly shaped ones. They smell earthy/planty with a sort of a darjeeling-like sharpness.
The tea is golden yellow and clear. If I poured it into a wine glass, I’d think it was chardonnay.
Flavor is tricky for me, as always with whites. Just when I think I’m finally starting to get them, I get stumped again. It probably doesn’t help that I had a cup of the Todd & Holland Champagne Raspberry right before this.
I’m getting as sweet smell from the cup, kind of like warm, spun sugar. Oddly, there’s a bit of undefined fruitiness as well. Flavor-wise, I get neither of those. But fortunately, I also don’t get the dead plant flavor that I sometimes get with white peony. There’s definitely and earthy/leafy flavor that screams “tea” — that flavor that makes me understand why people compare white tea to back tea even though they don’t really taste anything like each other.
Tomorrow I’ll try it first thing, even before food, and see if that makes a difference.
My highest rated white peony appears to be Adagio’s with a 72. I think this deserves higher. In reading my note on the Adagio, I think I was still in my “noob trying to understand stuff and really searching for what I think should be there” phase rather than the more experienced and blunt place in which I now find myself.
Flavors: Earth, Sugar
Another Andao tea that I never opened before. I take it that Qimen is an alternative spelling for Keemun?
In the packet, the dry leaves are dark, curly and fine and smell like dark chocolate! Really rich dark chocolate.
The steeped tea doesn’t smell like chocolate, so much as baking bread with smoky pepper around the edges and a dark, sweet note, like molasses. Its a tawny red color, and quite gorgeous.
The tea is deep, full bodied, and malty, and it has a stout aspect to it, like a dark beer. It’s almost chewy in texture. As it cools, some chocolate comes out in the aroma and a-dare I say- coffee note, almost. Like a mocha note, which is fascinating. I think this is the first tea I’ve had that wasn’t flavored that reminded me of coffee, but without really tasting like coffee.
Quite an interesting tea with a lot of character. If this tea was a person, I’d want to invite it to dinner. It isn’t overly smoky for a Keemun, which is part of its charm. I must do some sleuthing to see whether I can determine if anyone else is selling it since Andao as a company is no more.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Mocha, Molasses, Pepper, Smoke
Another of the Andao teas that I never got around to opening before the company went kaput.
At least I had the foresight to buy some yunnans.
This one has really pretty dry leaves. Long and twisty, with more dark than blond but still a nice variation in color from the tips. A malty, cocoa scent from the dry leaves.
The steeped tea is clear and brandy-colored, and it smells bready with a hint of pepper.
The flavor carries some of that breadiness over. It’s medium bodied, with a bit of perk to it. It isn’t sugary sweet like some yunnans, but it does have a gently sweet aftertaste. More cocoa than honey.
I’m going to enjoy sipping down this one.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Pepper
Another tea company that sadly, is no more. I have a number of never opened teas from them and this is one of those.
Continuing to explore the Yunnans in my stash, and I was delighted to find that the leaves on this one are almost as golden as the Adagio ones and quite pretty. There’s a peppery, malty note to the dry leaves that makes me think this one holds a lot of promise.
The tea is a clear maple color and smells terrific. Chocolate, cocoa, malty, a little pepper, sweet molasses. It tastes just like it smells. A little drying on the tongue, very smooth and clean in the finish. Pleasant, sweet arboreal aftertaste.
Very lovely indeed.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Malt, Molasses, Pepper, Sweet
I went to go enter this into the database and I couldn’t find Andao online. From which I conclude that this is another now-defunct tea company.
I’m pretty amazed. I didn’t think I was out of the tea loop that long.
But that means there’s no picture and no real description of this that I can upload. I did find out by looking at Wikipedia that the name means Green Snail Spring and it’s because the leaves are rolled into a snail-like spiral.
I didn’t have much time to pay attention to the leaves when I made this this morning. I just steeped it, poured it into the Timolino, and jumped in the car.
This is a light but flavorful, buttery, vegetal green tea. It’s more “green” and less vegetable in flavor, lighter on the vegetable side than the mao feng and the mao jian I’ve had recently. I can’t say I like it more or less than those. It’s about the same in terms of how much I like it, just different in flavor.
I think I’ll have to rejigger the ratings on all of these as I see I rated the mao jian a 78 and yet I like it better than some of the black teas I’ve rated the same. For now, though, keeping this the same as the mao jian. I’ll fix them all later.
Wonderful, wonderful tea. I could drink this every day. Delicious caramel-y, malty, and burnt sugar…-y flavors. Just plain good. Andao is 2 for 2 on awesome teas in my opinion. I finished up all of my oolong from them and this pack of Yunnan is about 1 cup from being gone. It would hurt me to de-cupboard them…so it looks like I’ll be placing an order tomorrow. Good thing it’s payday. :)
Move aside Jackee Muntz! There’s a new caramel tea in town and he’s not NEARLY as finicky as you are. I’m not hating on Jackee…I enjoyed him while he lasted. But I never managed to coax that elusive caramel flavor out of him. With this Yunnan Golden Needle, it’s no problem at all. The more you play with temperature and time, the better this tea gets. Right off the bat I tasted smooth malt and a slight smoky/pepper note, typical of most Yunnan black teas. “Brisk” would be a good description. There was a slight bitterness, but it was not unpleasant at all. My first few sips tasted of burnt sugar and hot, drizzly caramel. Mmmm! The caramel taste disappeared halfway through the cup, but perked up a little for the last bit of cooled tea. I’m impressed. This is a very good cup of tea.
Andao is the same company that offered the Organic Wu Yi Rou Gui (aka: Bake-y Oolong) that I loved so much. Their teacups are also reasonably priced…but several are sold out. I fully intend to try more of Andao’s teas. They are currently 2 for 2 on delicious teas in my opinion. :)
Well, the Traveling Tea Box certainly did its job for me. With this wonderful tea, I have now found a company that I never knew existed AND I will soon be placing an order with them. This oolong is classic. It’s soon to be a staple oolong. It smells delicious, tastes delicious…and it’s the first oolong I’ve tried in which the second steep is bake-y. A bake-y oolong! Oh yes. Ready the debit cards, folks.
The tea isn’t overly complex; it simply has a no frills, traditional oolong taste. And it’s great! Lightly roasted and smoky tasting, I just love it. No vegetal taste, just how I like it. I’m all giddy! I usually refrain from eating while drinking tea (other than the occasional cookie or sweet getting dunked in), but I would love to eat several traditional Chinese dishes with this tea in hand. It’s so good.
The sample from the TTB ended up just where it was meant to be.
I typically do not have an affinity for green tea. The problem lies not in the tea, but rather in my limited palate. A bad green tea tastes like nothing to me. Just warm water. A good green tea, and I suspect that this is one of them, opens up a world of vegetation in my mouth.
“Spring Snail Shell” tastes like the smell of a really funky warm rainy day in Florida when the heat and water brings out the vegetable smell and the air smells like burgeoning fecundity. It tastes rather like lounging in deep meadows (much like a snail might do) and taking in the green, grassy, aroma that is part funk, part fresh with a dash of sweetness and clarity.
I did think of Andrew Marvell’s line: “A green thought in a green shade” from “The Garden” when I drank this. I suspect that green tea aficiandos would really like this tea. And, as I finish my cup here and now, I start to think that perhaps I should purchase some and maybe I should make certain to keep green tea on hand. It’s a nice change, and it makes me feel like a “back to nature” person which is pleasant because my inner essence is so very library and bedroom.
Edited to add:
Three days later, I have sent this Spring Snail on in the Travelling Tea Box. Yet somehow I long for it. I keep thinking maybe I could just have some spinach—but yet that isn’t it. Maybe I do want some more of the grassy, vegetable tastes? I simply will have to order some. I’ve got a Jones and his name is Mr. Spring Snail.
I’ve seriously had my nose in my mug for a good ten minutes. Beautiful. It smells smoky-sweet and amazing. Huffing tea is much more entertaining than studying for a gigantic Japanese test I have tomorrow. >__<
After two minutes the liquor was already a bright honey color, making me pour the first steep too soon. The flavor is good, but I have to go looking for it a little. Smoky and floral, which sounds kind of weird, but it’s tasty. As it cools the smokiness seems to dissipate somewhat, letting the sweet floral step forward. Actually, I think the sweetness and the floral are two separate entities. Floral and a fructose sort of sweet. I can’t decide what kind of fruit it is or even if I could tell in the first place. I don’t feel like this would be good iced, since the little bit left in my cup that cooled completely is pretty flat, with a grassy sort of taste to it. I don’t even know if oolongs can be grassy…oh well. Not unpleasant, but not comparable to what it had been.
Alright, I left the second infusion for 3 minutes. The color is slightly paler, but not by a lot. The nose is similar, but lighter on the smoke. It’s baked goods rather than campfire. As I was thinking that, when I pulled away from the mug to type, I swear it smells like donuts. My roommate thinks I’m nuts as I’m leaning over and sitting up like one of those sippy bird figurine things. I’m getting, very specifically, donuts, but only in the first few seconds after I move away from the steam. How perplexing. Now, the smell of donuts always makes me happy, but whenever I eat them I decide never again. They’re never as delicious as they smell, plus fatty food tends to make me feel a bit sick (taste aversion learning, perhaps?). It never seems worth it to eat one, but I adore being in a place that makes them. Even if it’s completely ridiculous that I think this oolong smells like donuts, I’m ecstatic.
My first impression of the taste is that it isn’t as rich as the first cup, which I felt could have been stronger. This makes me think that I didn’t use nearly enough leaves. I seriously need a scale and/or the sense to stop being so stingy. There’s a really slight smokiness, but mostly there’s a baked goods type of caramelized sweetness. It’s delicious and I wish I could taste more of it! I don’t think I’ll get a third steep out of it, but I’ll do one anyway, just in case. I think I’ll do quite a long steep, just to try and get everything out of the leaves, but I’m not too hopeful.
I’m giving it a rating based on the assumption that I messed up by not having enough leaves. I’ll reevaluate the next time I have it, but as far as I can tell I really like this!