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Recent Tasting Notes
Only three teas or so left from the Swap Box.
Again, stoked about a Wuyi Origin Tea. This note will be shorter since I decided to test it out in my Phoenix Spirit Tea Tumbler, which was an early birthday gift. I know it’s a risk to grandpa a dancong, but I divided up my sample so I’d have just enough for a smaller vessel gong fu….don’t get me started on the teaware I have that is incomplete because a cup or a piece of it was broken in some divine accident.
This dancong actually took quite a bit of time to fully diffuse, starting off floral and lightly fruity-like honey and lemon in fresh hot water. The fruits further developed 8 minutes in, going back and forth between a floral orchid to honey, apple, apple juice, nectarine, and guava. Despite writing “lemon” in the beginning of this paragraph, this tea grandpa is not as citrusy as other Dancongs I’ve had, and I haven’t gotten the usual lychee note, though I may gong fu. There are some roasted nuts in the profile and some acidity, but it’s a heck of a lot smoother. It must be the 12 oz to 3 grams ratio.
I’ve gotten 3 brews of it so far, the first one having the most change and diversity in the notes. The other two are fruitier and a woodsier orchid, but still sweet and honeyed leaning more into apple as far as fruit goes, with some tartness or flavor acidity you get in things like peppers. There’s a little bit of “moss covered earth” rocks, and mineral for me, but it could be due to steeping in the vessel long. It’s super light and likely superfluous, yet I don’t see a lot of people getting it as a note for themselves. I think it’s my imagination popping images from my other senses, and I could just use "wet rocks "that’s already in the pre-set notes for steepster.
Overall, this one is very easy going and very mellow. Astringency or bitterness never showed up. I’ve seldom had a Dancong that works this well as tumbler fuel, though it could be because I lowered the ratio. I’m satisfied either way and very pleased. Not sure what to rate it, so I’ll wait until I gong fu it.
Flavors: Apple, Apple Skins, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Guava, Honey, Mineral, Nectar, Nutty, Orchid, Roasted Nuts, Wet Rocks, Wet wood, Wood
One of the top teas I was looking to from our trade!
I’ve only had Wuyi Origin a few times, and always miss out on the season of teas I like from it due to indecision with shipping and which tea to pick. Most of the Wuyi Origin Teas I’ve had were from swaps, though I have a feeling that some of the black teas I’ve had from Trident were Wuyi origin teas.
First off, the dry leaf gave me some deeply woody impressions of maple and oak treas, and deep savory qualities of freshly baked crescent rolls. Testing it out after 10ish seconds, the flavor combo was awesome. Transitions were from floral, to oak, to maple, and then some lemon rind thrown just before the finish as it returns to malty and bordering breadsy. Second steep was 4 seconds longer, close to 14 sec, and the same flavors continued but with a really nice malty quality, being mostly savory and sweet. They pegged potato, which I can taste a little off like yams or sweet potato.
It inspired me to cook some maple miso teriyaki tempeh slices. It complimented the third brew of the tea so well, with some of the malt notes matching the weird salty sweet savory white miso and the dark maple I added in the sauce. As for the steep, it’s got a interesting minty finish after the floral oak, malt, pine in that order.
I ran out of drinking water, so I lessened the serving to 2.5 oz and released after 20 sec, and have yet to exceed that amount in brew five. I could have let it steep longer, but it was still rich. The oak and pine were heavy, bordering on resin or tree sap,. This tea reminds me a lot of the Floral Lapsang I had from Trident, which of course was more floral than what I’m drinking as the malt is heavier in what I’m currently drinking.
I’m going to push out more of this tea, but I’m really digging the malt and tree combo. I get picky with woodsy notes, but this one has such a nice combo between the florals, mint, and lemon rind notes that makes it really nice. Looks like I’m going to have to get more Wuyi in the future.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Lemon Zest, Malt, Maple, Maple Syrup, Mint, Oak, Pine, Resin, Sap, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
[Spring 2019 harvest]
I am not a big fan of Yancha, but I made an order of some decent grade ones from Wuyi Origin some time ago. One reason was to see whether I just don’t like “cheap rock oolongs” and also to understand the category better.
This particular tea didn’t wow me overall, but I have to say it has pretty spectacular aromatics, especially now that the roast has calmed down. Many of the aromas were muddled when I drank it last year. Specifically, dry leaves smell of cherries, rose flowers and sweet wood at first, with some additional notes of ripe bananas, tropical rainforest and limestone in a preheated gaiwan. The wet leaf aroma has a lot of depth and pungency with notes such as hibiscus, peat and chard.
Some of these are quite present in the liquor itself too, notably the flowery and woody ones. Its texture is buttery and metallic, while the taste is bitter and fruity with hints of cranberry, red wine and oak, among others. I found the cha qi to be nice and mellow with a focusing quality to it.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h7jfUUSj3M
Flavors: banana, Bitter, Cherry, Cherry Wood, Cranberry, Flowers, Fruity, Hibiscus, Metallic, Oak, Peat, Rainforest, Red Wine, Rose, Sweet, Wood
This tea is like a good MLX with heightened woody notes. It has a very perfumy aroma with hints of apricot pits and olives before the rinse. Afterwards, I get a sweet, woody and floral aroma, reminiscent of apricot jam, muscat grape and rhododendrons.
The taste is again of similar character, followed by a mildly sour and fairly drying and cooling aftertaste. There is a unique mint flower fragrance and after a while, a fruity sweetness emerges too. If pushed, the bitterness that we know from a classic MLX also appears, but otherwise it’s fairly muted.
Liquor has a full body with a soft and a little powdery mouthfeel. The body effects mostly show up as an intense chest warming sensation as well as a very mild and pleasant high. It’s more of an attention-channeling rather than focus-dissolving tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Drying, Flowers, Fruity, Jam, Mint, Nutty, Olives, Perfume, Pleasantly Sour, Sweet, Thick, Wood
On the surface, this particular dan cong oolong doesn’t seem all that remarkable. It doesn’t have a spectacular tropical or floral aroma, or the fascinating bitter qualities of a nice yashixiang or juduozai. I really, really like it though.
It’s just… nice. Thick, warm, mellow and sweet, a perfect dan cong for winter.
It’s still unmistakably a dan cong though; there’s quite a bit of bitterness and some astringency in there, but it’s much more gentle in those characteristics than most others. It passes the “mom/tea newbie test”, I’ve tested it (everyone likes this tea).
The tropical fruit flavors aren’t as bright and clearly defined as in some other dan cong (“peach! mango! lichi!”), but they’re obviously there. At center stage however is thick honey sweetness, sugarcane, hay and a perfectly balanced touch of charcoal that’s the cherry on the cake. I’m usually not a big fan of charcoal, but it really ties everything together here. In some steeps I also noticed ripe, sweet orange and peach.
At its best gong fu style, but western and grampa steeping works too. I experimented a bit, and this also turned out surprisingly well: 250ml glass teapot, 4g tea, steeped overnight in room temperature water. Served in little cups or glasses it’s perfect with a chocolate dessert.
At ~€0.30/g it’s not exactly what I would consider cheap tea but I honestly think you get quite a bit of value for your money. Good dan cong just isn’t cheap and this is a pretty good dan cong. It’s also currently the most affordable one they sell on Wuyi Origin.
The following might be relevant for people with a sensitive stomach (like me): I love dan congs, my stomach does not. This one seems to be fine though.
Flavors: Alcohol, Hay, Honey, Smoke, Sugarcane, Tropical
A simple (unsmoked) lapsang souchong, done well.
This lapsang doesn’t feature a lot of fancy fruity or floral accents, but instead focuses entirely on that characteristic base lapsang souchong flavor.
Taste is strong but balanced. The bitterness in particular is very pleasant, balanced by subtle sweet notes and a hint of refreshing citrus and cardamom on top. Earlier steeps are dark and comfortable with notes of hay and beans, later steeps get lighter and show a bit of plum.
Some astringency is always present but it stays in the background.
I really enjoyed this one gong fu style. The leaves pack a punch, in one session I did 14 steeps and could’ve gotten a few more out of it. Western style steeping tends to make a more boring, one note brew in my experience, so it doesn’t seem like very versatile tea.
The price is very fair I think, one of the cheaper teas on WuyiOrigin. If you like lapsang souchong, I would recommend it.
Flavors: Beany, Cardamom, Citrus, Honey, Plums, Wood
Wuyi Origin’s MLX is more bitter and woody than average I’d say. It’s really nice, one of the most memorable things about it is the very sweet and long-lasting aftertaste.
When dry, the aroma is fairly standard, but also very pungent. You get stone fruits, honey, pumpkin seeds mix there. The tea remain fragrant throughout the session, with notes like vanilla, green pepper, and flax flowers present in the wet leaf aroma.
The mouth-watering liquor is juicy and has a vegetal bite to it. There is a quinine-like bitterness as well as mild woody sweetness. At times, I also get a peppermint note in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is generally warming, bubbly and a little chalky, while the cha qi is of the sedating/defocusing kind.
Flavors: Bitter, Flowers, Green Pepper, Honey, Peppermint, Stonefruit, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood
Despite its fame, I haven’t had many ya shi xiang oolongs to date. This one is amazing though! It has a very sweet, bitter and mineral character, which is hard to pin down exactly. The aftertaste is very attention seeking without being overpowering in any way. It feels like it should be well-defined, yet I am unable to find the right associations to describe it.
Likewise, the aromas are very complex and elusive. Some of the notes I noticed in the dry leaf aroma include caramel, cream, and honeysuckle. After the rinse, the smell is sweet, floral with milky and vegetal undertones. Additionally, there are also hints of fish and bread.
Similarly, I also noted a mild yeasty flavour in the taste, especially in the finish. Another interesting flavour that kept reappearing is that of white currants. Overall though, as I already mentioned, it is a sweetness dominated tea with just a bit of floral notes that nevertheless intensify over time. Aftertaste is again very sweet – a bit like brown sugar – as well as mineral. Fennel and butter are among the new flavours that emerge after swallowing.
As seems to be the theme with this one, the mouthfeel is also hard to describe. At first, the liquor is both soft and chalky, and rolls around the mouth very easily. It gets pretty thick and cooling in the middle of the session too. I’d describe it as active yet elegant overall. The cha qi is warming and very pleasant; and one can get a lot of tea from these leaves in the course of one session.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Berries, Bitter, Black Currant, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cream, Fennel, Fishy, Floral, Honeysuckle, Milk, Mineral, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal, Yeast
This is not a tea I would think of as being complex, but in fact over the course of multiple sessions it shows sufficient depth of character. It is just that you won’t be able to get it all at once. Overall, it is very easy to drink tea with a medium body and strong woodiness. The cha qi is mild and chest warming, while the mouthfeel is at first foamy and later on somewhat oily.
From the dry leaves, I get the sensation of smelling dry coffee beans and old wooden furniture. After the rinse, notes of magnolia, curry leaves, nectarine, honey, and multiple other woody and vegetal ones appear. The taste profile is not too different either. It starts off being very woody with a herbal, nettle-like impression. The latter lingers on to generate a cooling and quite vegetal aftertaste. Middle of the session gives a sweeter, thicker and earthier liquor with notes of blackberries, citrus and stone fruits. These flavours are then followed by rum, custard and charcoal towards the end.
It is certainly a nice tea that I see myself coming back to often. However, as it lacks any sort of ‘wow factor’ and doesn’t yield much more than 120ml/g, I cannot really rate it above 80, especially given that it isn’t cheap either.
Flavors: Ash, Blackberry, Char, Citrus, Custard, Earth, Flowers, Forest Floor, Fruity, Herbaceous, Herbs, Honey, Rum, Stonefruit, Sweet, Vegetal, Wood
This Ta Fu Hou has a classic Dan Cong aroma that’s a mix of floral and stone fruit notes. Various flowers and parsnip emerge after the rinse, but it’s nothing fancy. In the empty cup, I can mostly detect wood and honey.
The taste is quite nice, but once again not overly complex. The profile is nutty, grainy and vegetal with notes of butter and honey. It is similar to a raw pu’er in a sense. The aftertaste is sickly sweet with alcohol-like burning sensation and a bitter bite that turns into lasting and more pleasant sweetness. There are also some malty and yeasty hints emerging over time.
The mouthfeel is bubbly and viscous, but with a lower surface tension that makes it fairly easy to drink, coupled with the fact that the astringency is not over-powering.
The most remarkable is the cha qi, however. It is very strong and heady at first. After a while a strong warming sensation spreads throughout the body as the tea makes its presence felt. It’s a good tea to get lost in your thoughts to.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Flowers, Grain, Honey, Malt, Nutty, Parsley, Stonefruit, Sweet, Vegetal, Yeast
This was another of my more recent sipdowns. This tea was interesting in that I did not know what to expect out of it, yet it ended up being tremendously enjoyable for me. I would venture to say that this is my current favorite Wuyi Shui Xian. Would anyone have guessed that a Tong Mu Shui Xian would ever become my favorite?
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 19 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, pine, baked bread, malt, charcoal, and smoke as well as a subtle blueberry scent. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and roasted barley as well as even stronger scents of smoke and charcoal and subtler scents of grass and straw. The first infusion introduced aromas of rock sugar, black cherry, and blackberry. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of pine, roasted peanut, baked bread, malt, charcoal, roasted barley, smoke, and black cherry that were balanced by subtler impressions of grass, blackberry, straw, cinnamon, and dried blueberry before a long, cooling herbal finish took hold. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of caramel, strawberry, orange zest, ash, butter, pear, juniper, moss, and minerals. Roasted almond notes came out in the mouth alongside slightly amplified impressions of straw and grass and hints of rock sugar. Mineral, butter, cream, caramel, strawberry, raisin, cocoa, earth, juniper, moss, ash, nutmeg, orange zest, butterscotch, and pear notes were also evident. I even picked up on some hints of roasted hazelnut and toasted rice. Each swallow left an absolutely gorgeous, relaxing cooling sensation in the mouth that remains impossible for me to accurately describe. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and began to emphasize notes of minerals, moss, earth, grass, roasted barley, pine, roasted peanut, malt, and cream that were balanced by subtler notes of roasted almond, straw, baked bread, toasted rice, raisin, charcoal, black cherry, orange zest, cinnamon, and caramel as well as some late arriving vanilla impressions before the pleasant cooling sensation returned and once again took over after each swallow.
This was an absolutely incredible tea. There is no other way for me to describe it. I loved that it offered some more unique aromas and flavors compared to some of the other Wuyi Shui Xian oolongs I have tried in recent months, and I also was extremely impressed by the depth, texture, complexity, and balance of its liquor. It even threw in a few surprises during the second half of my gongfu session, impressions that I could not find on the nose but were certainly there in the mouth. This was just a superb offering. I wish I had purchased more of it now that it seems to be gone forever.
Flavors: Almond, Ash, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butterscotch, Caramel, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Grass, Hazelnut, Herbaceous, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Raisins, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Straw, Strawberry, Sugar, Toasted Rice, Vanilla
This was the last of the three Wuyi Origin Shui Xian that I finished a little earlier in the month. Unfortunately, I did not know much of anything about this tea prior to working my way through what I had of it, and I still know virtually nothing about it. I know I purchased it sometime in 2017. I’m pretty certain it was part of my first order from Wuyi Origin. I do not recall whether this was a 2016 or 2017 tea, but I seem to recall it being sourced from Da Shui Keng. I could be wrong about that though. Anyway, this was an awesome Wuyi Shui Xian. I wish I knew more about it.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, cedar, pine, straw, smoke, charcoal, and black raspberry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, roasted almond, cannabis, mushroom, and earth. The first infusion introduced a clear aroma of roasted barley and subtler scents of orchid and dried blueberry. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, malt, cedar, pine, straw, charcoal, smoke, baked bread, honey, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of dried blueberry, black raspberry, cannabis, orchid, and roasted barley. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of plum, minerals, orange zest, baked bread, nutmeg, black cherry, honey, and blackberry. I also picked up a stronger and more clearly defined orchid fragrance and some fleeting hints of narcissus here and there. Notes of earth, mushroom, and roasted peanut came out in the mouth alongside slightly stronger impressions of roasted barley, orchid, and black raspberry. I also picked up on notes of pear, grass, nutmeg, black cherry, blackberry, minerals, caramel, orange zest, peach, lychee, plum, moss, hibiscus, and rock sugar as well as hints of narcissus pollen that were most noticeable in the aftertaste. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, earth, malt, baked bread, roasted barley, grass, charcoal, mushroom, and roasted almond that were underscored by hints of cannabis, straw, pine, black cherry, moss, dried blueberry, hibiscus, pear, orchid, plum, and black raspberry before a cooling, somewhat herbal aftertaste that faded to reveal a subtle steamed rice impression.
This tea did not quite display the staying power of the 2017 Shui Xian (Narcissus), but it was a more consistently engaging and less predictable offering with a somewhat better afterglow. I ended up loving both, but honestly, I would pick this one over the other tea if I absolutely had to pick between the two. This one struck me as being more fun to drink.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cannabis, Caramel, Cedar, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Earth, Grass, Hibiscus, Honey, Lychee, Mineral, Moss, Mushrooms, Narcissus, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plums, Raspberry, Rice, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Straw, Sugar
I have been so unmotivated lately. Granted, I have not had much time to do anything due to my work hours expanding, but when I have had free time, I have not been able to force myself to use it to contribute to Steepster. I’ve zapped some spammers here and there and have been reading the contributions of others, but I have not been posting any reviews of my own for the past 2+ weeks. With my backlog once again building back up, I figured I may as well take a moment to post something, so here goes.
This was a tea I finished a little earlier in the month. I went on a big Wuyi Shui Xian kick during the first couple weeks of December, sipping down several teas I had been wanting to try for some time. This was the first of the group to be finished and still sticks out in my mind as a quality tea. It was kind of a typical Banyan Shui Xian, but it delivered all of the expected characteristics of such teas with aplomb, so there is no reason for me to fault it. That being said, let’s move on to a more in-depth discussion of the tea itself.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of cinnamon, baked bread, malt, clove, black cherry, dried blueberry, and strawberry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, cannabis, smoke, rock sugar, and charcoal. The first infusion introduced aromas of minerals and cocoa coupled with some subtle narcissus scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, malt, baked bread, rock sugar, mushroom, earth, smoke, charcoal, cannabis, roasted peanut, and narcissus (if you have ever been in a field of blooming daffodils on a windy day and have smelled and tasted the pollen in the air, you will understand this specific flavor component) that were balanced by hints of dried blueberry, cocoa, grass, straw, and minerals. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of orchid, grass, cedar, pine, earth, straw, butter, roasted barley, and juniper. Notes of clove came out in the mouth alongside hints of strawberry that grew stronger on each swallow and amplified notes of grass, straw, dried blueberry, and minerals. I also picked up flavors of orchid, juniper, pine, red apple, butter and plum as well as subtler sensations of black pepper (noticeable mostly on the back of the throat after each swallow), cream, vanilla, roasted barley, and cedar. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and began to emphasize mineral, roasted barley, malt, butter, baked bread, charcoal, and roasted peanut notes as well as a latecoming impression of toasted rice. Underlying hints of grass, smoke, cream, earth, vanilla, juniper, cinnamon, black cherry, rock sugar, strawberry, narcissus, and clove could still be detected, though they were almost always fleeting and elusive.
As Wuyi Shui Xian goes, this one produced a liquor that was very pleasant, and it also displayed respectable depth and longevity to go along with good body and texture in the mouth. It was clearly harvested and processed with great care and professionalism, and the obvious attention to detail on the part of this tea’s producer allowed its considerable gifts to shine. Though it was not the most surprising or intriguing Wuyi Shui Xian I have encountered to this point in my tea journey, it struck me as being one of the most lovingly crafted, and I could see it making an exceptional everyday tea for more experienced Wuyi oolong drinkers.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Black Pepper, Blueberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butter, Cannabis, Cannabis, Cedar, Cedar, Char, Char, Cherry, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Clove, Cocoa, Cocoa, Cream, Cream, Earth, Earth, Grass, Grass, Herbaceous, Herbaceous, Malt, Malt, Mineral, Mineral, Mushrooms, Mushrooms, Narcissus, Narcissus, Orchid, Orchid, Peanut, Peanut, Pine, Pine, Plums, Plums, Red Apple, Red Apple, Rice, Roasted, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Smoke, Straw, Straw, Strawberry, Strawberry, Sugar, Sugar, Vanilla, Vanilla
Figured I’d do a comparison tasting with another Lapsang Souchong that Togo so kindly swapped with me. The one I reviewed last night from Tao Tea Leaf was likely old and very different in character, striking me as similar to a Laoshan black but much more muted.
This one from Wuyi Origin has blown me away and further emphasized my adoration for Wuyi hongcha.
There is so much going on in this tea when prepared gongfu. Wild and fragrant dry leaf, penetrating aroma, clear liquor that’s light-bodied, excellently structured and full of flavor, the obvious Wuyi minerality, long layered aftertaste, warming and spicy in throat with a dark returning sweetness while cooling in chest. Good longevity and never misses a beat even with a few oversteeps. Lovely energy. Most importantly, the tea is clean.
Dry leaf smells of molasses, dried sour cherries, a light-colored wood, herbs, lemon, raspberry, forest floor. Warming the leaf brings forth osmanthus, eucalyptus, malt and cherry. The rinsed leaf smells more woody and earthy, though with a deep, dark pungency. Something about these aromas really stimulates my stomach.
In the mouth is an intense perfume and flavors of osmanthus, rose, guava jelly, peach, nectarine, apricot with cream after the swallow. Sweet minerality that cascades over the sides of the tongue and instantly tingles my salivary glands. Other notes include damp foggy forest, eucalyptus, cedar, pine, malt, lemon, baked bread, nuts (notably pecan), butter, dark red chili pepper, camphor, damp and rich forest floor with accompanying florals like violet and iris.
What a treat. I feel indebted to Togo. Fantastic job, Wuyi Origin.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Camphor, Cedar, Cherry, Cream, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Floral, Flowers, Forest Floor, Fruity, Guava, Herbs, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Molasses, Nuts, Osmanthus, Peach, Pecan, Pepper, Pine, Rainforest, Raspberry, Rose, Spicy, Tangy, Violet, Wood
Like derk, I found this tea imbalanced in the past, with the roast muting its character. However, today it seems much more lively and pleasant. I suppose this evolution could be compared to some lighter roasted Wuyi oolongs. It is still a heavy tea though – in its taste profile, cha qi and also the texture.
The dry leaf scent is fruity with a strong peach note to it, while the wet leaves smell of forest floor, vegetables and some flowers. It is a much less sweet aroma after the rinse.
Taste is now quite well-balanced with a strong woody, spicy, and bitter character. There are notes of fish meat, burnt food, crickets as well as some metallic ones. The woody bitterness persists into the aftertaste, which reminds me of a conifer forest at first. Over time, a sweetness develops that moves the profile more towards honey, milk and raisins. Eventually, pronounced stone fruit flavours come back from the grave too. It is a very long aftertaste that remains interesting for more than 30 minutes after drinking the tea.
The liquor has a medium body, but feels very heavy in the mouth. It has a drying, slightly foamy, oat milk like texture. Topping off the experience is a sort of dizzying and sedating cha qi that is somewhat psychedelic.
Flavors: Bitter, Burnt Food, Fish Broth, Flowers, Forest Floor, Fruity, Honey, Meat, Metallic, Milk, Mineral, Oats, Peach, Pine, Raisins, Roasted, Spices, Stonefruit, Vegetables, Wood
This is a tasty Mi Lan Xiang. It has an awesomely pungent scent, but unfortunately the taste pales in comparison. The liqour is viscous and very oily. For the main infusions, it has a full body and a bubbly texture to it.
The smell is initially mineral, very sweet and fruity, the closest to it may be a mix of nectarine and guava scent. In a preheated vessel, I also notice woody and flowery aromas. Once wet, the leaves smell more earthy but retain a sweet woody character. As for the taste, I find it hard to place, but it is definitely quite mineral with a floral bitterness in the finish. I catch some fleeting flavours of red apples, hay, apricots and later on in the session also various flowers.
All in all, this is not a Dan Cong that would wow me like some others do, but it’s a pleasant one to drink for sure.
Flavors: Apricot, Earth, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Hay, Mineral, Nectar, Red Apple, Stonefruit, Sweet, Wet Rocks, Wood
This dancong oolong seems to have been pretty heavily roasted and is still hanging on to that character. Beyond the roastiness is a dark honeyed taste with grilled yellow nectarine secondary note weaving in and out, burnt sugar, hints of orange blossom, metallic, alkaline. Dark honey aftertaste. Texture never caught me, maybe on the thin side.
This tea is much heavier both in taste and the way it sits in my stomach than the Song Zhong I had recently. The Chi Ye also has a deeper bitterness and the astringency comes in early. The bitterness is its own entity, not integrated well with the sweetness. Body heavy and brain fuzzy energy. The overall weightiness combined with exhaustion had me stop at 4 steeps with the intention of brewing it out the following day, but I didn’t really find myself looking forward to it.
I don’t know the harvest/roast year but maybe this tea needs more time for the roasty char notes to settle. As it is, this Chi Ye is an ok tea but doesn’t jive with me, hence the lower rating.
Flavors: Bitter, Burnt Sugar, Char, Drying, Honey, Metallic, Orange Blossom, Roasted, Stonefruit, Sweet
Togo did a great review for this tea. He got more out of it than me but that doesn’t mean I didn’t really enjoy this dancong oolong.
Lovely tropical and white/yellow nectarine aroma. This tea tastes like the essence of ruby red grapefruit with honey and a touch of butter. Bright and light but heavy and bittersweet at the same time. Smooth and light-textured in the mouth later turning oily. Long grapefruit and wafting white floral aftertaste.
It has the expected dancong bitterness but it doesn’t feel separate from the sweetness and fruitiness. Even though the dominant flavor note for me is grapefruit, the bitterness isn’t like citrus pith. Practically no astringency unlike some others I’ve had. A little sour and highly mineral, tasting like glass if that makes any sense? Really good roast and no bright green unoxidized leaf in the spent material. The cha qi left me fuzzy but with a lot of energy such that I found myself mowing the lawn all of a sudden despite feeling ill for most of yesterday.
A refined, balanced dancong to change my mind about dancong. Recommended if you like the taste of ruby red grapefruit.
Interesting that this tea went from China to Colorado to Ontario then landed with me in California :P
[7g, 100mL clay gaiwan, 200F, drank rinse, flash steeps starting at 7s, good longevity]
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cream, Flowers, Fruity, Grapefruit, Guava, Herbs, Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Peach, Roasted, Stonefruit, Sweet, Tart, Tropical, Vanilla, Wood
I’m drinking the Qi Lan 2018 harvest of this from WuYiOrigin.com. The dry leaf smell on this is incredible. Orchid scent and fruity but also rich and dark like a brownie and it makes you wish you could eat the tea. This batch is highly aromatic. When pouring the rinse into the glass pitcher, I could smell it a couple of feet away. The wash from the rinse smells floral and a little smokey. The wet leaves smell great, too. I was expecting to smell roasted notes, but it’s not in the least. What I get is the strong orchid aroma and some grapefruit tanginess in the aroma.
The first infusion is very sweet and delicate. The orchid aroma is so strong, it permeates the tea taste. Not all teas taste like they smell, but this one carries it off. Smelling the lid, I get what I would describe as something similar to buttered popcorn. That doesn’t appear anywhere else. The wet leaves don’t have it. The liquor doesn’t have it, and I definitely do not taste it.
Second infusion and the unexpected buttered popcorn is no longer to be found on the lid. The wet leaves still smell heavily perfumed. Wow! I mean this is knock your socks off perfume heavy. Tea liquor is a light amber color. Super sweet in the mouth. Still comes across as delicate and thinner, which for this heady orchid scent works well. It’s very smooth and not watery at all, but it is not very thick and viscous. After swallowing, there is some menthol cooling effect and the mouth remains very wet. It is not a drying tea. The aftertaste lingers with the orchid aroma and a little bit of the grapefruit tang. It’s definitely heavily sugared grapefruit and not sour in any way.
Third infusion – losing a little orchid aroma now. The leaves smell slightly more roasted but the orchid aroma is still very much present. The tea is delicious. The taste is remaining constant. This is a tea that should be enjoyed slowly, I think. The orchid perfume is so dominate, it can act much like a strong perfume or cologne on a person, and can be overwhelming if not careful. I can get a headache from some colognes and so taking it slow keeps the aroma from becoming overwhelming. Slowing down also gives one the opportunity to enjoy this tea’s long lasting aftertaste.
I went back and put my nose back into the dry leaves bag, and it is so awesomely good. Where the tea stays in the higher perfume register, the dry leaves go richer and darker.
Fourth infusion — just amazed at how long the sweet orchid aroma is lasting. It just keeps giving. Very long lasting aftertaste.
I recommend this one heartily. It’s a winner.
Flavors: Char, Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Orchid, Sweet
Teas like this are the reason I love Dan Cong, although I am not that often in the right mood for it. These teas are attention seekers. If you are in the right state of mind to let go, they grab you and take you on a roller-coaster ride through the land of flavours you never knew existed.
Anyway, I have to thanks the extremely generous Peter Jones from Trident cafe in Boulder, who gave me this tea along with a few other Dan Congs sourced by Wuyi Origin (I believe). The complexity of this Song Zhong is absolutely phenomenal. If I had to place it, I would say it is slightly on the fruitier side of the spectrum as far as particular notes are concerned. However, in terms of broader taste profile, it is very balanced actually.
It is a full bodied tea with a velvety and slick texture that’s very smooth to drink, also thanks to being slightly less viscous. The cha qi is very focusing and somewhat calming yet strong. I feel the blood through my vein, I am swimming through the waves of music, I am falling through space.
Ok, now here are a few specific notes that I picked up. I don’t think they paint a very coherent picture of the tea, but that’s common with these teas that are super complex. The dry leaves from afar smell like guava, but when I come closer, it’s more like papaya and nectarine, but nevertheless quite a tropical smell. In a preheated gaiwan, I can also smell cream. During the session, I also get a petrichor scent complemented by aromas of fermented fruits, agar wood and later on popcorn. The liquor itself smells of peach and various flowers.
The 80°C rinse is very mineral with herbal bitterness. There are flavours of flowers (lavender), red soil, cape gooseberry (physalis) and I can taste longan in the aftertaste. In the actual infusions, there is more sweetness and the cape gooseberry returns often. Second steep is slightly earthy with a roasted nut note and a sour finish. The aftertaste is mineral, drying in mouth, and very cooling in throat. It has flavours of almond, lychee, apricot, cloves and a strong huigan.
New flavours keep appearing basically in every infusion, including ones of bread crust, nut grass, flowers I am not even going to try to pinpoint (because I cannot), persimmon, basil, guava and grapefruit skin. The tea has often a nectar like, syrupy feel to it, but the sweetness and bitterness are well balanced.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylTY9WbMGDc
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Berry, Bitter, Cloves, Cream, Dark Wood, Drying, Earth, Flowers, Fruity, Grapefruit, Grass, Guava, Herbs, Lavender, Lychee, Mineral, Nectar, Peach, Petrichor, Pleasantly Sour, Popcorn, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Stonefruit, Sweet, Tropical
I got this Wild Lapsang in Boulder at the Trident cafe. It is definitely up there with the other premium black teas I have tried recently and has a distinctive character of its own. Specifically, it is an incredibly fragrant and floral black tea, at times reminiscent of red jade black teas.
The smell is very deep and complex, I find it hard to describe or compare. There are aromas of tomato vine and various spices and herbs. The taste is well balanced with savoury and bitter flavours complementing the natural sweetness. There are notes of bread crust, pecan skins and rock sugar. Aftertaste is long and very fragrant. The main flavours are those of wood, incence and beeswax. The weakest aspect of this tea is the mouthfeel I think. It’s not bad, but nothing exceptional either.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Herbs, Nuts, Pecan, Spices, Sugar, Wood
This was a more recent sipdown of mine as I finished what I had of this tea back around the beginning of the month. I’m normally not huge on Xing Ren Xiang Dan Cong oolongs and will not often go out of my way to spend money on them, but I received a free 8g sample of this tea with a Wuyi Origin order in the spring and finally ran out of reasons to put off trying it during the first week of the month. Though I did not find it to be a perfect offering, it still kind of blew me away. This was easily the most powerful Xing Ren Xiang Dan Cong I have tried.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of almond, cream, and custard that were underscored by hints of orchid and citrus. After the rinse, I noted a much stronger orchid aroma as well as scents of orange blossom, vanilla, and geranium. The first infusion brought out aromas of pineapple, peach, and tangerine that were underscored by subtle rose scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, vanilla, almond, tangerine, orange blossom, orchid, pineapple, and geranium that were chased by hints of rose, peach, violet, and grass. The subsequent infusions brought out violet, grass, wood, and nutmeg aromas. Stronger and more immediate rose, peach, violet, and grass notes appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging custard notes and new impressions of nutmeg, wood, minerals, steamed milk, and pear. I also noted hints of blackberry, cucumber, honeydew, and roasted chestnut. The bulk of the infusions also saw the tea liquor finish very dryly with pronounced notes of almond and wood in the aftertaste. By the end of the session, the tea liquor was offering impressions of minerals, grass, cucumber, cream, steamed milk, almond, and wood that were chased by subtler notes of roasted chestnut, vanilla, pear, and tangerine before the expected dry finish that saw impressions of wood and almond reassert themselves.
Though this tea displayed a consistently dry, astringent finish, it was very enjoyable nonetheless. I have a feeling the astringency was due primarily to the tea’s youth anyway. Otherwise, this was a mostly nutty, creamy, fruity, and floral tea, one that produced a liquor with exceptional depth, complexity, and longevity. The other teas of this type I have tried do not really compare to it. Check this one out if you are looking for a quality Xing Ren Xiang Dan Cong.
Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Blackberry, Chestnut, Citrus, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Geranium, Grass, Honeydew, Milk, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Rose, Vanilla, Violet, Wood
Here is a review for another fairly recent sipdown of mine. I finished the last of this tea prior to attending a concert with one of my best friends last week. The concert was pretty good. It was Harm’s Way, Hate Eternal, and Cannibal Corpse in Lexington, KY. Aside from Harm’s Way really sucking hard (unless you’re into tough guy metallic hardcore with some groove metal and superficial industrial elements), the rest of the show was great, even though it was a brutally cold, snowy night and the mosh pit got way too rough and rowdy. I am pretty sure that this tea kept me awake during the proceedings since I was exhausted, slightly sick due to sinusitis, and had to endure a very lengthy, taxing drive to get to my friend’s house prior to attending this shindig. Anyway, getting back on track here, my appreciation of this tea grew considerably as I worked my way through what I had of it. This was a Tong Mu Guan old tree black tea, one that was even subtler and more richly textured than most. Generally, I am more about Wuyi black teas that are bigger on aroma and flavor, so I tend to appreciate many of these texture-heavy old tree black teas more than I tend to outright enjoy them, but in the end, I came to love this one.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves (this tea was produced from an absolutely fantastic picking, by the way) emitted aromas of straw, honey, blueberry, blackberry, pine, and stone fruit. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted peanut and roasted almond that were underscored by subtler scents of grass and smoke. The first infusion did not offer anything new on the nose aside from slightly stronger grass and smoke undertones. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of straw, pine, honey, blueberry, and blackberry that were chased by impressions of roasted almond and roasted peanut along with some hints of grass, citrus, and smoke. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of citrus, bamboo, rose, roasted chestnut, malt, and baked bread. Impressions of orange, cedar, rose, cherry, beeswax, roasted chestnut, roasted walnut, cream, golden raisin, bamboo, brown sugar, malt, and baked bread appeared in the mouth along with subtle hints of grass and cinnamon. By the end of my review session, I could still detect notes of minerals, golden raisin, baked bread, malt, and straw that were chased by hints of orange, pine, bamboo, and roasted chestnut.
This was a ridiculously sophisticated, layered black tea that demonstrated tremendous restraint despite its almost over-the-top complexity and depth. Like the other Tong Mu old tree black teas I have tried, it consistently emphasized its mineral-heavy texture over its flavor components, meaning that I had to push myself to determine what was going on for me flavorwise. Just to be clear, teas like this are, in my mind, more meant for patient, measured, highly focused sipping than any form of quick, easy consumption as they require time, patience, and effort to appreciate. In my opinion, this tea was more challenging than your normal Tong Mu old tree black, but it had more to offer and thus a considerably larger payoff for the drinker. In the end, all I can really offer is that I found this to be a more or less great black tea, but it was something of a challenge. I would recommend it to anyone who has tried a number of similar teas and is looking for something more advanced.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Bamboo, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Chestnut, Cinnamon, Cream, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Rose, Smoke, Straw, Walnut
Alright, here is the final review from the backlog for the day. I finished a 25g pouch of this tea back around the third week of June. At the time, it was a tea I did not know much about, and unfortunately, I still know very little about it. I forgot to save or jot down production information for this tea before it went out of stock. All I know is that it was a spring 2016 tea, likely harvested in May, and most likely originating from a garden in either the Banyan or Zhengyan area. It seems that most of Wuyi Origin’s offerings come from one of those areas. I know that their 2018 Baijiguan is a Zhengyan tea, but since they source from both areas, I have no clue if the same can be said of this earlier offering. It seems likely, but I cannot be sure. Regardless, I found this to be an extremely high quality Bai Ji Guan. Like most Bai Ji Guans, I would not want to have it every day, but I could see this making a more or less dynamite special occasions kind of tea.
Predictably, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of roasted grain, rock sugar, mushroom, honey, and raisin. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, watercress, longan, and wood. The first infusion brought out some faint dandelion and rose aromas along with a stronger mushroom aroma and hints of roasted chestnut and orange peel. In the mouth, the tea liquor opened with notes of roasted grain, mushroom, honey, and golden raisin before transitioning to showcase longan, wood, and roasted nut notes. Cream, butter, and rock sugar impressions then made themselves known on the finish. Interestingly, I failed to pick up any vegetal character. The subsequent infusions saw cream, butter, hay, and celery aromas begin to appear. Dandelion, watercress, orange peel, and rose notes belatedly appeared in the mouth alongside new mineral, coriander, hay, moss, lemon zest, popcorn hull, umami, grass, carrot, sour plum, and caramel impressions. The final infusions were soft, smooth, and subtle, offering lingering salty, brothy umami, mineral, cream, butter, roasted peanut, popcorn hull, wood, and golden raisin notes underscored by fleeting notes of coriander, mushroom, celery, lemon zest, and caramel.
I know the above description made this tea sound weird, but to be perfectly honest, Bai Ji Guan is kind of a weird tea. Fortunately, the strange combination of floral, savory, earthy, nutty, vegetal, fruity, creamy, buttery, and sugary sweet characteristics that this sort of tea typically offers works most of the time. I know that everything worked wonderfully in this tea. I would not recommend that a tea like Bai Ji Guan be one’s first Wuyi oolong, but if you just have to jump in the deep end with a tea of this type, an offering like this would be one with which to do it. Even though I swore that I would not spend any more money on tea this year, I now may have to use part of my next paycheck to acquire the 2018 Bai Ji Guan offered by Wuyi Origin. I just have to see how it compares.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Caramel, Carrot, Celery, Chestnut, Coriander, Cream, Dandelion, Fruity, Grain, Grass, Hay, Honey, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Moss, Mushrooms, Orange, Peanut, Plums, Popcorn, Raisins, Rose, Sugar, Umami, Vegetal, Wood