94 Tasting Notes
I’m not sure if it’s because 2022 was a bit of a rough year weather-wise for tea crops or if maybe my expectations were unrealistically high, but the 2022 Tiltshift doesn’t seem as amazing as the previous couple years. It’s not BAD. But I’m not getting the same sort of tropical fruity flavors or that weird soft powdery mouthfeel. It’s not like drinking a delicious smoothie but hot. It’s just…okay. I could drink it regularly, maybe even daily. It just lacks the pizzazz of past versions. It’s like when I tried a sort of western/grandpa-style mashup steeping of one of the previous years in a tea press and it lost all the wild and crazy fruity flavors and was just…tea. It’s drinkable but not life-changing. I don’t usually like to eat while I drink nicer teas, especially if I’m brewing gongfu, because I feel like a lot of the more subtle flavors and the changes between steeps get lost. I’ll have a snack before/after my tea or take a little snack break and then go back to the tea if I need to. I really missed the strong fruit flavors in this version of the tea, though, so after a couple of steeps I started nibbling on freeze-dried pineapple while I sipped. The tea and pineapple went together nicely and it got me a little closer to the flavors I remember being in past Tiltshifts.
I could see myself grabbing a few more to see if they improve with age, but I’m not really upset that there are only minis and no cakes for the 2022. When I asked Paul of White2Tea if there would be cakes or only minis he mentioned there would be a bamboo Tiltshift coming…I like the idea of that but with the way I feel about the 2022 Tiltshift, I’m not sure I’d make an order just for the bamboo version of it.
I bought this for my jasmine-loving mother, decided to try it first to advise on brewing parameters and ended up drinking through the entire tin. Bought another and it’s going the same way. Oops.
It’s not my favorite jasmine pearl but it’s a nice one when I feel like jasmine but don’t want to put as much thought or effort into the preparation as a higher quality tea deserves. It’s better than the average grocery store jasmine tea, always in stock at my local natural/organic foods store, and cheaper than the jasmine pearl my local tea shop carries (the tea shop’s is tastier so the higher price is probably somewhat justified). The jasmine flavor and aroma is nice and strong. It’s not as smooth as the pearls from my local shop or Yunnan Sourcing but it’s perfectly drinkable brewed any style. Lately I’ve been doing grandpa style in a Fellow Carter travel mug. The splash guard thingie (that absolutely looks like a kitchen sink drain plug) that comes with the mug works really well for keeping any floaty leaves out of the way for grandpa style brewing. It keeps my tea hot for ages so it’s been my go-to vessel while sewing and embroidering.
I spotted this in the grocery store around New Year’s and grabbed it on a whim (don’t we all browse the tea aisle even though we have a lifetime supply of tea waiting for us at home??). I’m not usually a big fan of Numi’s teas but like this one. I’ve been drinking it semi-regularly over the last couple months. It’s been reasonably forgiving of temperature and steep time mishaps. I’ve been making up a big travel mug of it to help me through the never-ending hours of hand embroidering a baby blanket for my latest niece (115+hrs into it, remind me why I thought this was a good idea). It takes about 4 teabags to get a decent strength brew in my 16oz mug but the tea is a nice light, sweet green. It did get bitter the time I forgot it was steeping and then realized the teabags were still in there a couple hours later but that’s kind of to be expected. Leaving it that long, it was the citrus that became bitter and overpowered flavor of the tea leaves. At that point it reminded me of a citrus tea I have that’s supposed to be like digestive bitters, one of the Traditional Medicinals ones, I think (Blood Orange?).
The one small thing I’m not crazy about with this tea is the smell of the used teabags. When I remember to, I try to collect my used tea leaves in a bucket and then they go out to the compost pile when I’ve accumulated enough to be worth the trip up the hill. Most other teas are fine if the leaves sit for a couple days before they get taken out but the Yuzu Bancha has a tendency to become rather stinky quickly. I’d blame it on the yuzu peel but I don’t have this problem with chenpi or other citrus teas.
I think we’re due for another drop in temperature this week but I’m starting the new year with Spring Peach anyway. I think this is the last one I need to taste from last February’s yancha box. Between the first box getting lost in the mail and not drinking much tea over the summer, it’s taken me a while to get to it. As with the others, I’ve saved enough for a more structured session with the teeny gaiwan later.
Glass gongfu bottle thingie, didn’t weigh the tea leaves, filling the water side of the bottle about halfway (100-ish ml, I think?). Dry leaves just smell roasty to me. Wet leaves after the first steep have an unappealing burnt grassy smell when hot but start to smell more fruity as they cool…peach? Apricot? Pineapple? Brewed tea is more fruity when hot and the roast flavors come out more as it cools. This really makes me want some peach pie. Slightly too much water or too little time on the second steep, tastes a bit weak. Still getting the peachy flavors as a sort of aftertaste as I exhale after a sip, though. Curious if I would have picked out peach if it wasn’t in the name or if the suggestion really pushes me that direction. Can’t decide if I think it’s more fresh peach or baked/grilled/canned/something-ed peach…almost seems to alternate between but it’s been ages since I last had a peach or peach baked goods. The problem with drinking tea in the evening, especially on holidays, is that all my local bakeries are closed and I can’t make an “emergency” pie/donut/croissant run when the tea makes me crave something. I think I need some peach pie and a peach cobbler fritter to see which would go better with the tea. Third steep is stronger but seems rather astringent compared to the previous two. Perhaps not quite enough water this time? You wouldn’t think filling a bottle to the same level each time would be so difficult. Aftertaste is still sweet and syrupy, like I just took a drink of fruit juice. If the next steeps are dramatically different, I’ll come back and edit my note. Not sure it’s very productive for me to sit here daydreaming about pie and donuts while I try to think of more things to say about the tea.
I’ve been so bad about writing tea notes! I’ve been drinking tea before bed and thinking I’ll do notes the next day and never getting around to it.
Citramalt Black was included in my Black Friday weekend order as a freebie. I couldn’t find it on White2Tea’s site to check their notes about it. I dumped several quick gongfu-ish steeps into a thermos and meant to sip it last night while working on projects but it was so cold that I just buried myself in my blanket nest and went to sleep instead. Luckily, the tea was still the perfect temperature when I came back to it today. From the name I guess I was expecting a lot of citrus type flavors. I mostly get dried cranberry or tart cherry, maybe a little bit of prune. I like it. Not as strong of a lemony acidic feeling in the mouth or stomach as I’d feared. I usually love citrus so I’m not sure why I was worried about this tea. It has a bit of a drying, astringent feeling in the mouth but nothing extreme, and I may have overbrewed it a little. The brewed tea is lighter colored than I was expecting (yeah, I know, color is a terrible indicator of “done-ness”) and like a lazy person I didn’t measure the amount of tea I used (three good pinches looked about right). I checked the first steep at about 20 seconds and it looked awfully pale (<3 glass teaware) so I let it go another 10 seconds or so to see if that helped (trying to count without getting distracted, because that’s soooooo much less effort than setting a timer). Even with haphazard brewing its tasty. It would probably be good with a snack of dried fruit or good homemade fruitcake (not that weird store bought stuff that looks a little too much like it’s made of Play-doh and plastic fruit and never seems to go moldy even after years of hiding in the back of your cupboard).
Teas that never got notes:
White2Tea Tiltshift 2021 mini (was supposed to be the new 2022 one, didn’t notice I was sent the wrong ones until I was unwrapping one…their customer service has been great about taking care of the mishap)
White2Tea Judy mini
White2Tea Ban Tian Yao oolong
White2Tea 2022 Green Hype
White2Tea 2016 Fortune Teller maocha (yum!)
White2Tea 2016 Mengku dragon ball
2019 Zu Xiang Wu Liang Moonlight White (drank LOTS of this)
Small glass pitcher/cha hai – got clunked in the sink while rinsing
Flavors: Dried Fruit
Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve had a raw pu-erh. I meant to do a bunch of gongfu steeps and dump them all in a big travel mug (Fellow Carter Move, love travel mugs with the ceramic lining!), but sniff and taste each steep before it went into the mug so it still felt like gongfu and I could see the differences between steeps and stuff. The big mug of tea was so I could have something hot and tasty to drink while working on a baby blanket for my on-the-way niece (? I only have a two-year-old’s word that it’s a girl). The steeping went according to plan and tea made it into the mug but then I fell asleep. I don’t know what it is about raw pu-erh that makes me sleepier than most other teas. The few sips from tasting each steep and drinking the last bit of a steep that wouldn’t quite fit in my mug knocked me out. It was pretty late at that point, but still. Luckily, the Fellow mug is more like a thermos than a regular travel mug and my tea was still hot and enjoyable today.
Dry leaf kinda just smelled like raw pu-erh to me. Like slightly spicy hay or something. I love that they double wrapped the cake even though it’s a tiny one. I think all tea cakes should be double wrapped or at least wrapped with the thicker type of paper. I’m always worried about destroying the wrapper way before the tea is gone when I get a huge cake wrapped in one layer of that thin tissue paper type paper. I also appreciated that this cake wasn’t super tightly pressed so I was able to gently pick out leaves with my nails instead of hunting down my tea pick. Did I measure my leaf? Probably should have, but no. I think I was on the lighter side leaf-wise but I’m a bit out of practice and this was my first time with this tea. Brewed tea has the sort of spice aroma and flavor that can be hit or miss with me. I can never pinpoint exactly what kind of spice(s), there’s just something that seems spice-like to me. Maybe a teeny bit of citrus. Bitterness comes out more as it cools. Empty cup smelled exactly like honey, which was kind of weird. Aftertaste is sort of lemon honey. This needs a proper gongfu session but I suspect this is one that will not play nice with my stomach with more leaf.
I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about oolong. I thought I didn’t like it but it’s looking like maybe I just don’t like it steeped western style. Every western style cup of oolong I’ve had has been disappointingly weak and boring, even the ones where the dry leaf smelled amazing. My opinion of oolongs has greatly improved since I started gongfu-ing them but there have still been several that are just okay and I haven’t tried a huge variety of oolongs yet. I really liked Yunnan Sourcing’s aged Da Hong Pao so I was excited about White2Tea’s February subscription box featuring yanchas…and then my box got lost in the mail and the replacement didn’t arrive until late summer. I’ve tried a few of the teas from the yancha box and been kind of meh about them. They’re not bad, they’re perfectly drinkable, they just haven’t wowed me. I like this one, though.
I brewed and drank through most of my session with it without reading White2Tea’s description. The dry leaf smelled almost chocolatey to me. Maybe more like the kind of chocolate flavoring sometimes added to teas than actual chocolate. The brewed tea had a lovely floral scent. Not really sure what kind of floral. Kinda darker and heavier than the clover blossom floral I get from the green teas I like. There’s another flavor that I think must be that rocky mineral flavor people talk about. It’s somehow familiar…but not? I don’t spend a lot of time licking rocks but I can maybe see how that description would fit. Maybe a little metallic? I don’t know. Kiiiiinnda reminds me of the well water we had in the place I grew up (no idea what the mineral content of that was but it was definitely different from what we’ve got in our current house…the water here smells like a dirty fish tank and leaves rust colored scum on everything). Metallic rock water SOUNDS gross but it’s kinda working for me. The wet leaf does not smell appealing to me at all. Weird how I can like the smell of the dry leaf, the brewed tea and the empty cup but hate the smell of the wet leaf. Looking at the tea’s description afterward…wood, red fruit, honey. Hmm. MAYBE I get some honey sweetness with the florals and a hint of fruity tang in that sort of metallic-ness?
I’m glad this tea seems to be part of White2Tea’s regular offerings and not a special production for their subscription club. I’d consider getting a bag next time I order. There’s always a struggle figuring out what to reorder while leaving plenty of room for new things and staying within budget.
Didn’t drink much tea over the summer. I’m not really a fan of cold tea so I switch to iced coffee when it’s too hot for life and I can’t bear the thought of hot drinks. It’s starting to cool down a bit so I’ve been making tea more often lately but haven’t been keeping great notes. Mostly stuff from White2Tea subscription boxes, I think. I’ve tried to save enough of each for at least a teeny baby gaiwan session later to make more detailed notes.
Chuan Huang yellow
Chuan Zibai slightly purple white
Coal Mtn Green maojian
Cloud Mist Green from Sichuan
The oolongs were okay, nothing life-changing but did help confirm my suspicion that I don’t hate oolong, I just hate oolong brewed western style. First yellow tea I’ve tried…seemed a lot like a green to me? Would like to try more because the type of greens it reminded me of are the sort I like. The greens and white were tasty. The Cloud Mist was more tropical fruity and the Coal Mountain more of the floral beany thing that sounds weird and gross but kinda works for me. Sorta snap peas and sunflower sprouts, maybe? With a fistful of clover? The tiny leaves of the Coal Mtn are cute.
This was in the November 2021 W2T tea club box. I’ve had a few heichas but I think this might be the first of this style I’ve tried. I’m not sure it’s for me. Maybe my brewing needs adjustment? It wasn’t gross but all I really got out of it was a kind of grassy flavor. Not not fresh young shoots of grass, more like old grass clippings. Slightly smoky smelling…just a little, not like an actual smoked tea. I did 3g in a 50ml porcelain gaiwan with just boiled water. Really short steeps at first because I wasn’t sure what to expect, then a little longer after tasting the tea. It seemed to last on and on without much change or fading of flavor (lost count of how many steeps I did before giving up), which would have been awesome if I’d been into the flavor. I only had 15g but there should be enough left to experiment with a few more tiny gaiwan sessions. Interesting to try and I’d be willing to taste other Fu brick teas if they’re included in club boxes or free samples are given with orders but, unless my experimenting produces a different taste, I don’t think it’s something I’d deliberately seek out.
I’ve been drinking teas but nothing really new or needing a whole note of its own.
Aiya Ceremonial matcha – as usucha/thin tea, not life-changingly good or anything but it’s drinkable, definitely worth the $8/tin clearance price, froths well when whisked, it becomes bitter if you veer into thick tea territory (didn’t measure, just dumped some in my bowl), lacking traditional Japanese tea sweets I’ve been having it with little maple sugar leaf shaped candies
Bonne Maman Serenity – my favorite of the Bonne Maman teas, nice before bed tea
Bonne Maman Dream – second favorite BM tea, nice before bed
Tea Drops Glow Sprinkles – much better than the sugary Tea Drops, cinnamon very prominent, grabbed several boxes when I thought this was being discontinued but it looks like they were just changing it from the powder packets to a solid “drop” like their other teas
White2Tea Planetary Shark Feed dragon ball – these are aging nicely, less young ripe wet pile flavors now, more yummy sweet molasses-y flavors
Yunnan Sourcing Taiping Houkui – always a favorite!
First teaware casualties of the year :’(
Matcha whisk holder died in the sink while I was rinsing teathings
Dragon yixing pot now has a small chip in the top edge from clumsily dropping the lid