61 Tasting Notes

Filtered Santa Monica tap water just off the boil throughout. Poured from a pear-shaped purple clay tea-pot into a glass cha hai, and served in a porcelain (“peony”) cup.

6 infusions (20sec, 20sec, 40 sec, 1min, 2min, 4min) Jasmine to pale gold liquor; mild grassy/floral aroma; grass/wildflowers/weeds on the palate leading into a medium-dry, not quite dusty finish. Roast/fermentation are mellow. Low bitterness; Medium thick mouthfeel.

My personal tastes lean towards more robust expressions, but there are no glaring faults from this leaf material if one prefers a mild, low roast oolong.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 8 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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Prepared in my Jian Shui gaiwan, and served in my porcelain tea cup via my glass cha hai. Filtered Santa Monica municipal water just off the boil throughout.

I have limited experience with sheng, but I’ll share my untutored impressions:

Early infusions result in arylide liquor with a gentle mineral/grassy aroma, a similarly subtle flavor, with hints of burdock and toasted seaweed in the finish which leads to a distinct hui gan. Vegetal/woody elements (along with hints of menthol, weeds, and wildflowers) and thickness of mouth-feel increase as the leaves unfurl and infusions are extended past 10 – 15 seconds. Astringency emerges, though bitterness is low (at first). Somewhere between 7 and 10 infusions, I suddenly found it difficult to steep long enough to extract flavor without that initially mild bitterness supplanting any other notes; so my sessions with this tea ended fairly abruptly (as will this review).

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Generous sample kindly provided by the proprietor. ~25g yields about two lengthy sessions.

Prepared in my Jian Shui gaiwan, and served in my porcelain tea cup via my glass cha hai. Filtered Santa Monica municipal water just off the boil throughout.

5 flash infusions: Butterscotch liquor; stone fruit, figs, wood, honey, and yam are all hinted at, but the aromatic sum, which amplifies the scent of the dry leaf, is something more concrete and distinctive even if I can’t name it; sweet palate entry, creamy with hints of licorice, leading into a faintly spicy/woody finish suggesting pink peppercorn; slippery, almost thick mouth-feel with low tannins and bitterness.

Well crafted, subtly unique red tea with impressive longevity (I expect to get another 5 infusions out of this session when I return to it tomorrow morning), although the nectar-like sweetness makes me prefer this as a dessert tea rather than a daily drinker.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 12 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Winter 2019 harvest.

Filtered Santa Monica tap water just off the boil throughout. Poured from a pear-shaped purple clay tea-pot into a glass cha hai, and served in a porcelain (“peony”) cup.

5 infusions (10, 20, 30, 40, 60 seconds) – flax/pale straw liquor; moderate roast, faint grain, wildflowers and grass in the nose; mild creamy flavor with hints of vanilla, corn silk, and a subtle floral presence. Faint residual sweetness hints at toasted rice or waffle batter. Clean, medium-thick mouth-feel. No bitterness. Linear flavor progression from palate entry to finish and largely from steep to steep (although 30 – 40 seconds seems to be the sweet spot here).

Refreshing, mild, medium-roast oolong that would likely do well iced – while well crafted, it lacks the complexity that you can find in some high grown or mainland varieties (I wouldn’t normally dwell on these sorts of comparisons, but the hubristic name suggesting the highest rank of nobility seems an open invitation to criticism).

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 8 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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Briefly noting that I’ve found the Autumn 2019 batch of this tea to be gorgeous to look at, but that the aroma and flavor are at best, so subtle that I am incapable of evaluating much less appreciating them. I found this to be bland and flat for all but the initial infusion (which was itself weak), and only gaining some bitterness and a vague woodiness when truly pushed. Disappointing Dianhong. Not my cup of tea, as it were…

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
derk

Ten grams of tea and still weak. I can understand your disappointment.

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Prepared in my Jian Shui gaiwan, and served in my porcelain tea cup via my glass cha hai. Filtered Santa Monica municipal water just off the boil throughout.

Lasts maybe 6 – 8 infusions brewed gong fu style:

Rust liquor; dense aroma suggesting charcoal-baked Murasaki sweet potato, and a touch of burnt toast if pushed. Very slight floral/vegetal notes emerge in later infusions as the core yam notes soften; sweet, rich, malty palate entry with hints of chestnut and longan leading into a medium-dry, lightly earthy finish with a whisper of smoke; smooth, medium body with hints of starch more than cream.

While the processing doesn’t taste “artificial,” it is difficult to believe this aroma/flavor was achieved without any additives to the tea given how prominent the “sweet potato” notes are from the aroma of the dry leaf on through multiple infusions in the cup. While lacking the chocolate notes I sometimes get from Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, this remains an indulgent, almost dessert-oriented tea.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Wrote up my impressions of this only to realize I had already done so for the Spring 2016 crop, which I found to be much the same.

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No review, just a brief note to myself that I found this to be a clean (maybe a vague mushroom quality without a first rinse, but no fishiness, or other off notes from the fermentation), mellow, earthy shou with plenty of longevity (10 – 15 infusions over 2 or even 3 days) and moderate caffeine. Probably better as part of a meal, but not bad on its own. The first ripe puerh I’ve considered picking up a cake of (which ended up being sold out in any case)…

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Prepared in my Jian Shui gaiwan, and served in my porcelain tea cup via my glass cha hai. Filtered Santa Monica municipal water just off the boil throughout.

The compressed cake is easy to break up by hand, and if done gently, the leaves mostly untangle into long even wiry strands. The dry leaf aroma brings to mind a clean stable or feed-store, faintly grainy/grassy and equine.

6 infusions from 10 to 60 seconds.

Mahogany liquor; floral/spicy/grassy/lightly oxidized aromatics – subtle, complex, and difficult to parse; Earthy, almost leathery palate entry with a bit of peach pit. Slightly tannic, not quite brisk. Low fruitiness with a hint of cream and perhaps cocoa emerges from the dusty finish; medium-bodied, energizing (plenty of caffeine).

Curious if this one will develop more character with age or become too bland – right now it strikes a nice balance and I’ll probably drink up this cake in a month or two. While I don’t have much experience with purple varietals – this blend is a pleasant, unoffensive introduction.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Bio

Converted to Oolong and beyond starting around ’98 or so when I was hanging out at the Tao of Tea in Portland.

Expanded my experience with green teas when I moved in with room-mates who were Chinese scholars, workers at the Japanese Gardens (including the tea room), etc.

Always looking to improve my education, but will concede my pedestrian tastes (e.g. breakfast teas brewed strong enough to stand your spoon in).

Trying to focus more on the qualitative over the quantitative in my reviews, so you won’t see me give too many scores/ratings at the moment…

Location

North Hollywood

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