18 Tasting Notes
12s(rinse)/8s/10s/10s/10s/12s/12s/15s…goes for a while
Dry leaves are long, emerald green with white hair, and spindly—the smell is overwhelmingly of dried apricot. Once rinsed, the leaves include a generous amount of twigs but the leaves are small/medium and a few whole leaves can be found but are mostly partials. The tea appears to be machiene processed off of a reasonable quality product. Broth is glassy and clear, starting at a very pale yellow but deepening into a more `mustardy` tone. The mouthfeel is deeply buttery and the taste is soft and sweet. In early infusions, it tasted of honeysuckle and zucchini.
Brewed in 65 ml ceramic gaiwan, this tea is #2 of the 10 included in the Chinese Tea Discovery set on offer by the Tong Xin She teahouse
Flavors: Apricot, Dried Fruit, Honeysuckle, Zucchini
Tuocha is tidy and dark and basically looks like every ripe tuo cha. The dry leaves don’t have much scent beyond a vague dry earthiness. The wet leaves smell like leather while the broth is sparkling and richly amber instead of going that full coffee dark you sometimes get in a shou although it does go more darkly opaque in the 3-5th infusions before settling into a ‘black/red tea’ color. The flavor has elements of cedar and sawdust and some wet wood. This tea is an excellent daily drinker or work tea. Its maybe a little shallow and it doesnt have some of the staying power but I think a lot of that has to do with it being a tuocha with more of a dust elements. The tea is (expectedly) a lot more broken up which just lets it brew out faster but it delivers a punch for the fist ~8-10 infusions which is pretty good. While it doesn’t have a complex or nuanced series of infusions, it is pleasant to drink, has no hint of musk or funk, and even has some prominent flavor notes.
Brewed in 100ml purple clay teapot.
Flavors: Cedar, Earth, Leather, Sawdust
Dry leaves are flat and spring green with hints of purple at the base of some stems, small/medium in size and unbroken. The smell inside the gaiwan is strongly vegetal with hints of hay, seaweed, and a slight wet rock minerality. Once the leaves are rinsed, the aroma transforms into a stonger barnyard scent with more compost elements. The first (rinse) steep yields a glowing pale yellow broth with exquisite clarity. The yellow tends (very mildly) towards a green and has no red or umber undertones which is maintained through the first 5-6 infusions before softening into a barely tinted broth.
In early infusions, the flavor is also vegetal and resides in the back of the throat with hints of straw and broccoli but lightens and sweetens into something softer and more floral with a buttery mouthfeel. While the tea description promises a delicate orchid fragrance, I think the closest I got was a hint of geranium on the tip of my tounge at the end of the later steeps. The flavor does linger in the back of the throat but it certainly resides more strongly in the vegetal family.
Brewed in 65 ml ceramic gaiwan, this tea is 1 of the 10 included in the Chinese Tea Discovery set on offer by the Tong Xin She teahouse
Flavors: Broccoli, Geranium, Straw, Vegetal
Dry leaves are ropy, long, and richly mahogany colored with a strong scent of chicory and molasses. After rinsing, the smell is slightly fruiter shifting into dried cranberries but still with those dark sweet elements. The taste is spicy with hints of clove and tobacco, along with something subtler of dried cranberries and apricots.Despite such strong and potentially cloying flavor profiles, the taste is smooth and balanced, rich without being agressive or astringent. It has a huge impact on the tip of the tounge with some floral tingles and then slides through the back of the throat with a spicier profile. Broth is red orange and glowing and the tea seems to be forgiving of experimental steeping- stong enough to give decent quick steeps but patient enough not to punish a long (or forgetful) brewtime—I think the sweet spot (pun intended) is about 10-15s. It has a lot of character in common with a Do Hong Pao, if perhaps a little quieter and sweeter. This tea does run out a little more quickly, unable to sustain infinite steeps.
Brewed in an 80 ml Porcelain Gaiwain.
Flavors: Chicory, Clove, Dried Fruit, Molasses, Tobacco
Dry leaves are tightly rolled and olive green, smelling lightly vegetal. Once rinsed, the vegetal scent deepens into something that is still ripe, but has less ‘compost’ elements. It smells roasted and rich and the leaves unfold into a fresher looking green. The broth is a pale yellow with slight green undertones and very very clear. The mouthfeel is righ and buttery, complementing a very complex, warm, and sweet taste without any astringency. It is mellow with some subtle jasmine and honeysickle undertones but very full flavored and rich with some green notes on the tip of the tounge and some cooked carrot on the back end. More agressive steeping encourages amber tinted broth and the richer/vegetal notes while a light steep leads to a paler broth and a more perfumed character. Once brewed several times, and the leaves unfurl, they are medium size and remarkably whole although there is a decent percentage of stem (10% ish?). This is a beautiful and emminently drinkable oolong that is smooth and lovely and complex. Well worth a try and some dedicated time to unpack.
Brewed in 80ml Porcelain Gaiwain
Flavors: Butter, Carrot, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Nori, Vegetables
Loose puerh which does not come in a cake and whole leaves are few and far between. It is mostly broken leaves and bits, though larger than dust. The rinsed leaves (not sure a rinse is totally necessary here, but I do it for consistency) are black with small moments of mahogany and smell like fresh soil out of the bag when you’re starting a new garden. A clean, almost dry earthiness, rather than the earthiness of compost of a forest floor which have some elements of decomp.
Rinse broth emerges as a strong red but quickly deepens to a coffee-like rich sable brew, which persists across the next 10-15 infusions before starting to lighten up, and has a little swirl of something that runs across the top like the fat layer in a bowl of good ramen—some of that viscosity and opulence. The flavor is also hearty, like compost and rich dark earth with some clove spice on the back end and it holds onto that intensity of infusions for a ridiculously long time and doesn’t have a hint of astringency regardless of brew times, although it brews almost instantly in a gaiwan or yixing pot. This is my daily drinker since its incredibly affordable for a puerh, it goes for ever with a nice hit of caffeine, and it does not require attentive steeping. I’ve never met someone who doesn’t react well to it after I coax them into a sip and its the tea I use to seduce coffee drinkers onto the dark side (pun intended).
Flavors: Butter, Clove, Compost, Earth, Soil
Dried leaves are tightly rolled into pea-sized balls, whose aroma is softly perfumed— hints of jasmine, orchid, and honeysuckle— when rinsed. Broth starts as a very pale yellow with red hints but emerges into a stronger honey color with green undertones as the leaves unfurl with continued infusions. As the leaves unfurl, you see some leaves and some tips (leaf/bud combos) of medium size. The green is mossy with occasional spots of a clearer emerald. Flavor is comparably soft but sweet and floral like honeysuckle in the height of summer, with a note of fresh green vegetables (asparagus?) on the back end. There is no astringency. The tea is smooth and easy to enjoy, relaxed without falling into the categories of either bright or warm. Its most comparable to those dazed moments in the sun on an early warm day, under trees and listening to the wind blow. I’m sorry I’m waxing a little overly poetic here but get this tea. Its so incredibly lovely.
Brewed in 80ml porcelain gaiwain.
Flavors: Asparagus, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Orchid