943 Tasting Notes

90

Well, I’m finally back to post some reviews for the first time in three weeks. I still cannot force myself to get back into the swing of posting regular reviews for whatever reason. I keep trying though, so here I am once again. I’m hoping that if I just knock one or two out every other day or so, posting regularly will once again become a habit. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see about that. Here goes!

This was one of my last sipdowns of 2020, a year that I cannot wait to put even further behind me. And while the year as a whole, and especially the last two months of the year, were a total slog for me, the teas I drank during those two months were largely lovely. This one was definitely a winner. I finished it on Christmas day, and I doubt I could have asked for a better wrap to the day than flopping on my couch and sucking down some good black tea.

For my review session, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After quickly rinsing 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water, I started my session off with a 5 second infusion. This infusion was followed 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. I did not vary the water temperature over the course of the session. It remained set at 194 F.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of straw, cinnamon, malt, cedar, and honey. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and smoke. The first infusion introduced aromas of cream, butter, and baked bread. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of straw, baked bread, cinnamon, butter, malt, cedar, cream, and roasted almond that were balanced by subtler impressions of honey, rose, sugarcane, smoke, and strawberry. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of rose, cherry, strawberry, orchid, orange zest, orange blossom, and rock candy. Stronger and more immediately detectable flavors of rose and strawberry appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, cherry, elderberry, lychee, elderflower, orange blossom, tangerine, orange zest, pear, lemon zest, orchid, roasted peanut, and rock candy. I also noticed a cooling menthol impression that lingered at the back of my throat after each sip. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, cream, malt, sugarcane, orange zest, pear, elderflower, and roasted peanut that were balanced by lingering hints of rose, lychee, orange blossom, elderberry, strawberry, cream, cherry, roasted almond, rock candy, baked bread, and menthol.

This was a very unique, pleasant, and satisfying Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. Normally, I am not huge on extremely sweet black teas, but this one impressed me. At this point, I have had a ton of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, so it’s hard for one to surprise me, but this one had some aroma and flavor components that I had either never previously picked up in any other Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong or had not picked up consistently in other offerings. This was definitely a tea that was very much worthy of a serious review, and I’m kind of kicking myself because I waited so long to try it. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for some fresh Hua Xiang Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong this year. I would recommend that anyone reading this review strongly consider picking some up too.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Candy, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pear, Rose, Smoke, Straw, Strawberry, Sugarcane

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Izzy

I hope your 2021 is much better than 2020 :)

eastkyteaguy

Same here.

mrmopar

Yeah it has to be better than 2020…

Kawaii433

Here’s to a better year 2021.

Evol Ving Ness

Hi eastkyteaguy!

I was thinking of you just yesterday! Good to see you!
And also good to see you posting a bout teas I am familiar with.

No doubt about it, the past while has been grim (happily with a few bright spots here and there). Sometimes it’s just hard to lift yourself out of the muck. Absolutely understand.

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90

Before I begin this review, just allow me to state that I did not expect typing the review I just posted to go as quickly or as smoothly as it did. If I don’t write something new at least every 2-3 days, I get out of the rhythm of typing, and it usually takes me a long time to sit down, focus, and get to work. That was not the case with my last review, which is more than a little impressive to me. Anyway, getting back on track here, this was another of my November sipdowns. I generally do not like Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Grade Bai Lin Gong Fu as much as their Classic Bai Lin Gong Fu, and it seems that I am not alone in that. This spring 2018 Imperial Grade Bai Lin Gong Fu did not quite buck that trend, but it did at least give the Classic Bai Lin Gong Fu a run for its money.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After setting my water temperature at 194 F, I quickly rinsed the 6 grams of loose tea buds I had set aside for reviewing purposes. I then started my session in earnest by steeping the rinsed buds in 4 ounces of the 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds emitted aromas of baked bread, honey, dark chocolate, pine, malt, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of butter, cream, plum, cherry, and vanilla. The first infusion introduced a subtle roasted almond aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented me with notes of sweet potato, brown sugar, honey, baked bread, malt, and butter that were balanced by subtler impressions of pine, dark chocolate, cinnamon, cherry, and vanilla. The majority of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of minerals, brown sugar, sweet potato, molasses, orange zest, and lemon zest. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of cinnamon, dark chocolate, cherry, and vanilla appeared in the mouth alongside notes of earth, minerals, grass, molasses, orange zest, plum, cream, roasted almond, and lemon zest. I also notes hints of leather, grapefruit, and smoke. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, cream, earth, and grass that were balanced by lingering roasted almond, honey, lemon zest, leather, brown sugar, cherry, vanilla, dark chocolate, and sweet potato hints.

This was a very pleasant and drinkable Fujian black tea. Usually, the Imperial Grade Bai Lin Gong Fu offered by Yunnan Sourcing strikes me as being overly dry, stuffy, and reserved, but this struck me as being a much warmer, mellower, and more engaging offering overall. It very much made me look forward to trying a few more imperial grade Bai Lin Gong Fu offerings in the near future.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Grapefruit, Grass, Honey, Leather, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pine, Plums, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

Alright, I’m finally back on here. It seems that I have very little motivation to type tea reviews these days. This was one of my sipdowns from the second half of last month. It was a very nice, likable Wuyi black tea, but it did not quite measure up to the spring 2018 Premium AA Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong offered by Yunnan Sourcing.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. I set my water temperature at 194 F and did not raise or lower it over the course of my review session. After briefly rinsing the 6 grams loose tea leaves I had set aside for the session, I started things off by steeping them 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 baked bread, malt, pine, cocoa, and smoke. After the rinse, I detected aromas of brown sugar, roasted almond, roasted peanut, and sweet potato. The first infusion introduced a subtle creamy scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented me with notes of cream, malt, baked bread, pine, cocoa, roasted almond, and roasted peanut that were balanced by hints of plum, smoke, pear, orange zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, and sweet potato. The majority of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cinnamon, orange zest, plum, red apple, pear, marshmallow, lemon zest, minerals, and roasted chestnut. Stronger and more immediately noteworthy impressions of plum, pear, smoke, brown sugar, orange zest, and sweet potato appeared in the mouth alongside notes of red apple, earth, minerals, roasted chestnut, and lemon zest. I also detected hints of lychee, marshmallow, tangerine, butter, red grape, leather, and roasted walnut here and there. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor shifted to emphasize notes of minerals, cream, malt, baked bread, roasted peanut, roasted chestnut, lemon zest, and leather that were balanced by subtler impressions of brown sugar, butter, sweet potato, pine, red grape, orange zest, plum, pear, and roasted almond.

This was a nice Wuyi black tea, but as mentioned in the introductory paragraph, it did suffer a bit in comparison to the Premium AA offering. Still, it had a very respectable mix of aromas and flavors and displayed more than admirable longevity in a lengthy and intense drinking session. Had the tea liquor been just a bit smoother and thicker and had some of the flavor components been just a little more deftly integrated, this would have been a great offering. As is, this tea was very good, but it just lacked those little extra somethings that would have pushed it over the top for me.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Chestnut, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Grapes, Leather, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plums, Red Apple, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
LuckyMe

I have this unsmoked Lapsang too and agree that while tasty, it seems to lack a little something. The Teavivre version of this tea though was amazing.

eastkyteaguy

I still have yet to try any of the Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong offered by Teavivre. I did, however, try their Tan Yang Gong Fu and Imperial Bai Lin Gongfu earlier in the year and both struck me as being very good. Once I get the backlog a little more under control and get my cupboard a little more cleared out, I will probably place a few small orders from them. I’m hoping I can do this right around the time the spring 2021 teas are being listed.

Leafhopper

LuckyMe, I’m glad to hear that Teavivre’s unsmoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is good. I was going to order it during the Black Friday sale, but was worried I’d have 100 grams of bad tea. I did, however, get their Tan Yang Gong Fu and look forward to trying it.

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93

For my final review of the day, I’m going to dip a little further into the backlog than I did with my last two reviews and look back to my last sipdown of October. The Classic Bai Lin Gong Fu Black tea of Fuding is always one of Yunnan Sourcing’s regular offerings that I look forward to every year, primarily due to it almost always providing a great drinking experience. This spring 2018 offering proved to be no exception. It was a fantastic Fujian black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. For my review session, I set the water temperature at 194 F and neither raised nor lowered it over the course of the session. After quickly rinsing the loose tea leaves, I started off with a 5 second infusion. This infusion was chased by 18 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, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, cinnamon, baked bread, cedar, chocolate, and raisin. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond and roasted peanut. The first proper infusion introduced aromas of honey and sweet potato. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented me with notes of malt, chocolate, cedar, cream, baked bread, and sweet potato that were balanced by subtler impressions of roasted almond, roasted peanut, raisin, honey, cinnamon, and brown sugar. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, brown sugar, earth, plum, butter, grass, and roasted walnut. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and brown sugar appeared in the mouth alongside earth, orange zest, mineral, vanilla, butter, and roasted walnut impressions. I also detected hints of plum, pear, smoke, red apple, green bell pepper, and grass. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, cream, malt, earth, and roasted almond that were chased by lingering brown sugar, honey, grass, vanilla, roasted peanut, chocolate, and raisin hints.

This was a very smooth, sophisticated Fujian black tea that remained very approachable despite its complexity and depth. It also displayed tremendous longevity in a fairly extended drinking session. Since Yunnan Sourcing has batted 1.000 with offerings of this type, and this one did not buck that trend, I fully expect that the two most recent productions of this tea were also more or less just as good as this one. If you happen to be looking for a great and versatile Chinese black tea that is both easy and fun to drink, look no further.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Raisins, Red Apple, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Martin Bednář

I am always saying to myself it must be curious to meet you in person and listening to you how you notice all those notes. It’s amazing as always and it is always a pleasure to read them. Thank you for your amazing job.

eastkyteaguy

Thank you, but I assure you I am a very boring person. There are way more interesting people out there to meet.

Martin Bednář

Well, you know, I am boring as well. Maybe you don’t think so, based on my tasting notes. We all are kind of boring :)

Leafhopper

I think I got the spring 2019 version of this tea based on your recommendation. I’m glad to know its 2018 sibling is promising. I had a lackluster experience with the imperial version of this tea, which I thought tasted a lot like a generic teabag, but that was several years ago when I was less experienced.

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85

This was another of my more recent sipdowns. It was also a tea for which I did not have particularly high expectations. For whatever reason, Jin Jun Mei never really seems to stick with me, and also, the various Jin Jun Mei offered by Yunnan Sourcing tend to strike me as being ridiculously hit or miss. The Pure Gold Jin Jun Mei of Tong Mu Guan Village has never struck me as being bad (usually it is quite good), but it also has never been one of the regular YS teas that excites me either. Fortunately, this 2018 production was good, probably the best of the comparatively few productions I have tried.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. I set the water temperature at 194 F and neither raised nor lowered it over the course of my review session. After quickly rinsing the loose tea buds, I steeped them for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds emitted aromas of cedar, malt, smoke, baked bread, molasses, and tobacco. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and brown sugar. The first proper infusion brought out aromas of maple syrup, butter, cream, and chocolate. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented me with notes of cedar, malt, baked bread, grass, roasted almond, and brown sugar that were balanced by hints of roasted peanut, cream, butter, smoke, and molasses. The bulk of the subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of vanilla, marshmallow, brown sugar, honey, leather, sweet cherry, and orange zest. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of cream, butter, and roasted peanut appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, earth, honey, pine, orange zest, vanilla, ginger, marshmallow, leather, and chocolate. There were also some hints of nutmeg, maple syrup, red apple, pear, plum, sweet cherry, and tobacco that popped up here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor shifted and emphasized notes of minerals, butter, malt, cedar, cream, chocolate, and honey that were chased by fleeting hints of baked bread, smoke, roasted almond, orange zest, vanilla, ginger, sweet cherry, brown sugar, and maple syrup.

Overall, this was an enjoyable tea with a lot to offer, but if I had one serious complaint, it was that it grew very sweet and rich over the course of every gongfu session I did with it. There were instances in which the tea liquor struck me as being almost cloying. Even though I am not a huge fan of sweeter teas, this one was still enjoyable for me. It’s just that it would have been more enjoyable had the sweetness not been almost overpowering at times. To be clear, this tea was far from bad, but it was not really for me. At least I can say that it was more memorable and enjoyable than some of the other Jin Jun Mei from Yunnan Sourcing have been. I have no doubt that fans of sweeter black teas would love this offering. I could also see it working as a good point of entry into the world of unflavored tea for regular drinkers of flavored teas.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cedar, Cherry, Chocolate, Cream, Earth, Ginger, Grass, Honey, Leather, Malt, Maple Syrup, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Red Apple, Smoke, Tobacco, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

Okay, gang. Here is the review of my latest sipdown. I’ve had to take a break from drinking tea for the last couple of days due to seasonal allergies rendering me barely able to smell or taste anything, so I have nothing better to do in my spare time than try to free up some space in the backlog. Surprisingly, this was a tea that was totally unfamiliar to me. I have tried a ton of Yunnan Sourcing’s offerings over the course of the past 4+ years, but I had never gotten around to trying a Da Jin Ya prior to trying this one. I knew it was probably going to be radically different from the other Yunnan black teas I had tried, and that turned out to be the case, though naturally, there were some similarities imparted by the terroir and processing. Overall, this was a very interesting, satisfying, and unique black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. I set the water temperature at 194 F and neither raised nor lowered it over the course of my review session. After rinsing the loose tea buds, I started off with a 5 second infusion. This infusion was followed by 19 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, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds emitted aromas of cocoa, cream, sugarcane, pine, and smoke. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted cashew, lemon zest, and geranium. The first infusion introduced eucalyptus and orange zest aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, malt, pine, baked bread, roasted almond, and butter that were balanced by hints of geranium, cocoa, orange zest, lemon zest, honey, sugarcane, roasted peanut, and plum. The bulk of the subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of juniper, malt, camphor, green bell pepper, grass, black pepper, grapefruit, caramel, and plum. Stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of cocoa, geranium, plum, orange zest, sugarcane, lemon zest, and roasted peanut appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, roasted cashew, pear, red apple, green bell pepper, camphor, eucalyptus, grass, black pepper, watermelon rind, and caramel. I also detected hints of juniper, apricot, smoke, grapefruit, mulberry, and blackberry lurking around the fringes. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, roasted almond, lemon zest, orange zest, cream, pine, and roasted peanut that were chased by fleeting hints of roasted cashew, butter, sugarcane, red apple, pear, watermelon rind, green bell pepper, camphor, and caramel.

This was something of an odd tea, and certainly not one I would want to have every day, but taking the time to drink it made for a wonderful break from the more typical Yunnan black teas. I also appreciated that it did not get me so amped up that I had difficulty sleeping or sitting still. If you’re looking for an interesting and challenging black tea that is also a lot of fun to drink, definitely consider picking up some Da Jin Ya with your next Yunnan Sourcing order.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Blackberry, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cocoa, Cream, Eucalyptus, Fruity, Geranium, Grapefruit, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Melon, Mineral, Nutty, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plums, Red Apple, Smoke, Sugarcane

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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94

Okay, I am finally back on Steepster after a hiatus that proved significantly longer than planned. I was making pretty steady progress on cleaning out my backlog of tea reviews going into November, but I ended up getting busy with some other projects and losing focus and motivation. Hopefully, posting this review will be the start of me getting back on track. I’m dipping further into the backlog than normal with this review. I know I finished what I had of this tea sometime during the first half of the year. I’m pretty sure I had all of my notes on it written out and ready to go sometime between the middle of February and the end of April, but as usual, I cannot be more specific. What I can offer is that this was an excellent tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. The water temperature for my review session was set at 203 F and was neither raised nor lowered during the session. After rinsing the rolled leaf and bud sets, I started my session with a 10 second infusion. This infusion was then followed by 17 additional infusions. The steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 leaf and bud sets emitted aromas of char, smoke, caramelized banana, toasted rice, roasted barley, roasted almond, and vanilla. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of longan, lychee, sugarcane, and roasted carrot that were underscored by a subtle orchid fragrance. The first proper infusion introduced aromas of cream and butter. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of char, smoke, roasted barley, toasted rice, cream, butter, coffee, roasted carrot, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of daylily, sugarcane, orchid, lychee, longan, and caramelized banana. The bulk of the subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of plum, grass, spinach, coffee, balsam, and roasted hazelnut. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of longan, orchid, caramelized banana, and daylily appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of plum, peach, daylily shoots, spinach, minerals, vanilla, grass, roasted hazelnut, Asian pear, and balsam. I also noted hints of earth, sweet corn, and roasted chestnut, as well as a strong peanut shell presence in the aftertaste of each sip. As the tea faded, the liquor shifted to emphasize notes of minerals, butter, cream, roasted almond, grass, daylily shoots, and toasted rice that were supported by hints of roasted hazelnut, sugarcane, daylily, longan, spinach, balsam, roasted barley, sweet corn, plum, and vanilla.

As stated earlier, this was a great heavy roasted oolong. It produced a liquor that was extremely complex and sophisticated while also remaining very drinkable and soothing. Nothing was out of place. The mix of aromas and flavors was not only unique and fantastic, but it was expertly balanced. Overall, this was just a fantastic offering. If you happen to be the sort of person who is not sold on heavier roasted oolongs, then this tea may not be up your alley, but if any tea were capable of converting you, I would say that this would be the one. Naturally, people who are established lovers of heavier roasted teas would very likely find a lot to love about this one.

Flavors: Almond, banana, Butter, Carrot, Char, Chestnut, Coffee, Cream, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Hazelnut, Lychee, Mineral, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Spinach, Sugarcane, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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80

This was one of my sipdowns from the last week of October. I think this was also the last of the spring 2018 golden needle black teas that I had in my cupboard. Of the bunch, it was the least appealing, but it was still a more or less very good tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds emitted aromas of malt, cinnamon, chocolate, baked bread, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and smoke. The first infusion saw no change to the tea’s bouquet. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, cream, butter, cooked green beans, and sweet potato that were balanced by hints of smoke, cinnamon, baked bread, chocolate, and sugarcane. The bulk of the subsequent infusions coaxed out additional aromas of cooked green beans, orange zest, and roasted walnut. Stronger and more immediately discernible impressions of baked bread, chocolate, and sugarcane made themselves known in the mouth alongside notes of banana, caramel, roasted almond, earth, orange zest, roasted walnut, minerals, and cooked peas. There were also hints of marshmallow, raisin, and fig lurking in the background of each sip and swallow. As the tea shifted and faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, cream, earth, roasted peanut, roasted almond, and sweet potato that were chased by fleeting hints of cooked green beans, caramel, chocolate, marshmallow, raisin, roasted walnut, lemon zest, and sugarcane.

Overall, I found this to be a rock solid and very likable tea, though compared to the previous Yunnan golden needle black teas produced in the spring of 2018 that I had tried, this tea struck me as being a bit generic. It offered pretty much everything you would expect a Yunnan Assamica golden needle black tea to offer, and it did a very good job of that, but that’s really all this tea did. I’m glad I tried it, and I could see it working out great as a daily drinker or as an introduction to Yunnan golden needle black teas, but it didn’t compare all that favorably to some of Yunnan Sourcing’s similar offerings from the same year. I certainly would not reach for this tea over something like their Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black Tea.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fig, Green Beans, Lemon Zest, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Peas, Raisins, Smoke, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

Yay, I’m back on Steepster after a hellacious three days of work. I put in a 10 hour day on Saturday followed by an 8-9 hour day Sunday and then another 10 hour day yesterday. Today is the closest thing I have gotten to an off day in the last week, and I am technically still on the clock now. Anyway, this was one of my most recent sipdowns, as I finished the last of my 50g pouch of this tea Saturday morning. I have always perceived Jingmai black teas to be floral and citric in character, but this one was very nutty, herbal, and spicy. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it struck me as lacking some of the more typical characteristics of the Jingmai terroir.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of roasted walnut, roasted peanut, raisin, earth, tobacco, cinnamon, and cocoa. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of malt, roasted almond, and butter. The first infusion introduced aromas of baked bread and vanilla. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of roasted walnut, roasted peanut, earth, cooked green beans, tobacco, cream, malt, and baked bread that were balanced by subtler impressions of butter, raisin, honey, roasted almond, and cocoa. The bulk of the subsequent infusions coaxed out additional aromas of honey, sugarcane, black pepper, roasted hazelnut, and nutmeg. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of butter, honey, raisin, roasted almond, and cocoa appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of caramel, molasses, sugarcane, minerals, orange zest, roasted hazelnut, red apple, nutmeg, and ginger. I also detected hints of cinnamon, marshmallow, black pepper, vanilla, and lemon zest. As the tea shifted and faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, earth, malt, cream, butter, cooked green beans, orange zest, roasted hazelnut, roasted peanut, and roasted walnut that were chased by hints of honey, raisin, cocoa, caramel, vanilla, baked bread, tobacco, and red apple.

This was a very rich, soothing, gentle black tea with tremendous depth and complexity in the mouth. While I would have liked to see some floral character and more of a citrus presence, this was still a very nice, refined offering overall. Fans of dark, nutty black teas would undoubtedly be thrilled with this tea.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Ginger, Green Beans, Hazelnut, Lemon Zest, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Raisins, Red Apple, Sugarcane, Tobacco, Vanilla, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
mrmopar

Time for a break and a hot cuppa my friend. My work has been crazy as well with the long days.

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50

This was one of my summer sipdowns. It was also a tea that was totally new to me at the time I tried it. I had tried most of Yunnan Sourcing’s regular white tea offerings at least once or twice prior to trying this one, but I had always passed on the opportunity to try the Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle for one reason or another. I decided to rectify that situation in the spring of 2018, but I ended up putting off trying this tea until either June or July of this year. Well, how did it stack up to Yunnan Sourcing’s other white teas? Honestly, it was frustrating to drink. It struck me as being a very mediocre tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing them, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 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, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of apricot, hay, straw, sugarcane, and marshmallow that were underscored by a subtle corn husk scent. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of malt, butter, sour plum, and baked bread as well as a stronger corn husk scent. The first infusion introduced a lemon aroma and a subtle woody scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of hay, straw, grass, butter, malt, corn husk, lemon, and sour plum that were balanced by hints of bamboo, sugarcane, and wood. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of green peas, coriander, grapefruit, bamboo, kumquat, green bell pepper, and grass. Stronger and more immediately notable bamboo and wood impressions appeared in the mouth along with sour apricot, mineral, green apple, pear, green pea, coriander, cooked lettuce, green bell pepper, kumquat, and grapefruit pith impressions. I also detected hints of marshmallow. As the tea faded, each sip emphasized notes of minerals, hay, grass, corn husk, and butter that were chased by hints of malt, cooked lettuce, wood, lemon, green bell pepper, green pea, and bamboo on an astringent and biting fade.

I tend to be a big fan of Yunnan white tea, just in general, but this tea did not do much of anything for me. Yunnan Sourcing described it as occupying something of a middle ground between a white tea and a green tea, and I can say that seemed to be a pretty accurate description of it. Unfortunately, it seemed to frequently embody the aspects of both white and green teas that I find to be the least appealing and came off as a muddled, quickly fading mess after a certain point. Overall, this tea was very much a mixed bag. It had some nice characteristics, but there were aspects of it that I greatly disliked. I doubt that I will be in any rush to try more Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needles from Yunnan Sourcing.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Baked Bread, Bamboo, Butter, Citrus, Coriander, Corn Husk, Grapefruit, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Lemon, Lettuce, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Pear, Peas, Plums, Straw, Sugarcane, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Bio

My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

Location

KY

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