218 Tasting Notes


My review is actually for the May 2020 picking of this Castleton Spring Chinary.

Had this in the morning – rushed to brew and store in a Thermos before taking our puppy to the vet for her spaying.

Absolutely gorgeous, full-flavoured Darjeeling – sweet, nutty, floral, and fruity. Really happy I picked up 100g of this in Teabox’s Cyber Monday sale.

Flavors: Almond, Flowers, Hazelnut, Nutty

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 45 sec 3 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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9 Sep 2020

- 7g in 230ml Yixing teapot [[Hybrid brewing]]

- Dry leaf smells nice.

- Rinsed once. Wet leaves have a mysterious, rich sweetness to them on top of the typical ‘crystal cavern’ clear mineral scent

- First infusion (95˚C, 25s):
- Wet leaves and Tea liquor both have incredibly distinct, beautiful aroma of honey dates. Super flavourful and sweet. The texture of this tea is silky and almost syrupy. Want to rate it a 95 already!

- Second infusion (96˚C, 45s):
- Now got more of that classic ‘astringent green tea’ aroma to it. Might have oversteeped a bit.

- Cold Brew (5 hours): Flavourful though not sweet, lovely body to it and no astringency (unlike another raw pu-erh I’ve cold-brewed).

- My Rating: 91

Notes: Honey Date, Mineral

Flavors: Dates, Mineral

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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18 Sep 2020

6g in 230ml Yixing teapot [[Hybrid brewing]]

Dry leaf fragrance just jumps out at you – so sweet and fruity!

Rinsed once.

First infusion (95˚C, 30s): Wet leaf smells typical raw pu-erh, nothing to write home about. Liquor smells fruity and floral, a bit tangy (green mango). Flavours are really well-balanced and it’s comforting and warming. I like a lot! (But wouldn’t pay more than US$50 a cake – haha it costs US$53 for 400g, I’m spot-on!)

Second infusion (96˚C, 1:05): Liquor smells lovely, combination of florals (orchid, apparently) and toasted pastry. However, it tastes very astringent – I overbrewed. Will maybe go for 50s next time.

Verdict: I’ll try the 2014 Yunnan Sourcing Impression Raw Pu-erh (low-tier daily drinker) again and if I like this better than I’ll get it too as a Mid-tier daily drinker.

My Rating: 84

Flavors: Astringent, Green Apple, Orchid, Pastries

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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- 5g in 230ml Yixing teapot
- Dry leaf smells divine – sweet fruity with subtle floral tea scent like a white tea
- Rinsed once. Wet leaves smell like clear crystal cavern of delights, fresh and sweet
- First infusion (95˚C, 20s).
- Wet leaf smells a little more spicy and peppery, not as sweet.
- Liquor smells faintly musty (like wet clothes left to dry indoors) and not particularly pleasant. Not much flavour or sweetness – I think I should have steeped for at least 30s.
- Second infusion (96˚C, 1:00)
- Wet leaf smells
- Liquor smells pleasant, sweet comforting herbal like grass jelly or something. Maybe this is the orchid scent??!!

- Cold Brew with the leaves (5 hours) Meh, too astringent.

Rating: 83

Flavors: Black Pepper, Herbaceous, Mineral, Musty, Orchid, Spicy

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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1st infusion: Liquor fragrance: gorgeous pungent fragrance cempedak, jackfruit + malt barley. Taste: not flavourful or sweet.

2nd infusion: Now we have flavour!

Rating: 84

Flavors: Malt, Roasted Barley, Tropical

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 7 OZ / 220 ML

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Sampling this in my search for a fuss-free affordable raw pu-erh that I can throw 4-5g into my 230ml Yixing pot on a workday and not feel like it’s a shame to only get 2-3 infusions out of it. Like midway between Western-style and gongfu-style brewing.

Rinsed once.

1st infusion (95˚C, 30s): Wet leaf smells pleasant, fragrant. Liquor glows a beautiful amber colour and has a beautiful fruity-floral perfume to it – apricots, tangerines, green mango. Taste is a bit soapy / frothy though, and flavour is very light. Ooh okay now that it’s cooled down, it tastes really balanced (still subtle) and has a syrupy texture. Delightful!

2nd (96˚C, 45s): Wet leaf smells lovely. Liquor fragrance is fainter and more mellow / less sharp than the first. A browner amber colour, slight astringency.

3rd (98˚C, 80s): Liquor has same fragrance as 2nd infusion, and tastes slightly more bitter and astringent but also with an interesting marked smokiness. It reminds me of some kind of tangy ‘green mango’ green tea, and stimulates the production of saliva in a pleasant way.

Rating: 84

Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Green Apple, Orange, Smoke

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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24 July 2020

Dancong oolongs are shapeshifters (much like sheng pu-erh) – starts off with a light fruitiness that is fairly unique to dancongs (but also reminiscent of a white tea or green tea), then evolves into the mature astringency of a sheng pu-erh and finally, an Wuyi oolong.

1st (181˚F, 15s): Wet leaf so sweet smells like prunes stewed in honey. The liquor is a gorgeous colour – clear champagne-y peach-y liquid.

2nd: (185˚F, 20s): Wet leaves already vegetal, mineral-y, not sweet anymore. The liquor aroma, though, is my happy place. Ambrosial – mangoes, sweet cream, plums, peaches, baking pastries, malt sugar, young florals. Colour is golden honey champagne with hint of redness like the inside of a plum. Tastes like perfumed fragrance, slightly sweet but slightly tart and astringent too.

3 (188˚F, 35s): Wet leaf: faraway smell of flowers in grassy meadow. Liquor smells still slightly sweet, but more mature florals. Tastes a bit vegetal and astringent, but still with some red fruit sweetness – like red grapeskins. Wonderful infusion.

4 (190˚F, 40s): Now a buttery / roasted fragrance has been coaxed from the leaves. Liquor tastes robust, roasty and nutty and bitter chocolate notes like a premium Wuyi oolong or Tieguanyin. Slight astringency and cacao nibs flavour. Liquor colour even resembles an Wuyi oolong now too – medium russet / chestnut colour. Ok a bit bitter and dry-mouth – like a sheng pu-erh.

5 (195˚F, 50s): Mineral spring water flavour and very familiar taste – OMG WHAT IS THIS. Kinda herbal and pleasantly bitter, and so smooth. Omg it tastes like a good craft beer. Has that hoppiness (flavourful but not yeasty), and amazing texture – smooth and astringent-dry and has the full body of a non-bubbly beer. I can’t believe this.

6 (200˚F, 55s): Liquor smell: More buttery goodness came out. Liquor taste: OMG suddenly more fruity sweetness has been coaxed out of these leaves from nowhere! In addition to the existing vegetal “sheng pu-erh” astringency.

7 (205˚F, 70s): Mineral-y.

7.5g in 170ml porcelain gaiwan
Rating: 99

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Cacao, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Grapes, Hops, Malt, Peach, Plum, Red Fruits, Vegetal

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 6 OZ / 170 ML

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12 July 2020

From the dry leaf already I want to give this tea a 100. Smells of incredibly fruity sweetness – expensive Japanese muscats, ripe mangoes, apricot, cherry, peach, some florals, hint of roast / baked goods good ol’ Maillard reaction.

1st (180˚F, 15s): light, fruity, sweet – yum! Wet leaves smell like golden brown baked goods (gingerbread?)

2nd: (185˚F, 25s): slight astringency, fuller flavour. Still smells fruity but tastes less so – tastes more like a vegetal sheng pu-erh.

3 (190˚F, 1 min): Astringent – I pushed it too hard.

4 (195˚F, 3 mins): Wet leaves and liquor smell buttery! But too bitter – pushed it too hard. Will try again another time.

Rating: 90

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bread, Butter, Cherry, Floral, Mango, Muscatel, Peach, Vegetal

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 OZ / 170 ML

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Brewed the last 11.5g of my sample in 220ml Yixing zisha teapot.

1st infusion: wet leaf smells of menthol: fresh and cool and spicy. Liquor tastes like sweet fruit and yeasty.
2nd: wet leaf smells like fruit candy.
5th infusion: The astringency and bitterness keeps me calm and awake and also quenches my thirst. Perfect daily drinker accompaniment to a day of reading and writing.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Candy, Menthol, Mineral

11 g 7 OZ / 220 ML

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Rinse: Wet leaf smells sweet-sour green fruits and floral perfume, arboreal trees – something grander than the typical grassy meadow.

1st infusion (10s, 95˚C): tastes like mineral water, some astringency already, a bit salty briny, hint of bitterness and black pepper spiciness. Medium-bodied and quite creamy / silky mouthfeel. Flavour can’t stand up to my breakfast blueberry muffin: not a good pairing with sweet food.

2nd infusion (15s, 95˚C): This infusion tastes like mineral water + spicy and almost savoury, surprisingly pairs well with the blueberry muffin!

3rd (20s, 96˚C): Wet leaf smells of fresh tangy fruit like yellow plums. Liquor is more of the same slightly bitter mineral spring water – pleasant and drinkable but I’m not getting anything exciting. Tastes refreshingly sour when I drink it to wash down the baked goods. On its own it’s wonderfully solid and well-balanced, spiciness is really coming out now.

4th (28s, 97˚C): WL same green grapeskins scent. Pleasantly astringent (never thought I’d say this abt a tea!), spicy and woody. Ooh I even got a mouthful of fruitiness on my last gulp! It’s like sour, watery wild honey and astringent all at the same time. Goes so well with the muffin.

5th (40s, 99˚C): Body is thin.

6th (120s+, 100˚C): Body is thin. Bitter, astringent, done.

Rating: 86

Flavors: Astringent, Black Pepper, Floral, Honey, Mineral, Pleasantly Sour, Plum, White Grapes

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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