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Recent Tasting Notes
Yet another episode of “Didn’t I write this note last year?” I could have cheated and wrote it somewhere else.
Anyway, an okay backlog. I got this last year as a sample when Hugo started to release more of their loose leaf. It’s softer than most Yashi’s I’ve had and a lot creamier, but like Cameron notes, it got almost too floral in the later steeps. I did it gong fu to, and the lily, longhan, lychee(the site mentions rambutan), milk, LOTS of nutty almond, and peach were the reoccuring notes. The roast was there a little bit, but extremely bare to be noticeable when drinking the tea. It’s more noticeable in the dry leaf.
It’s butteriness also compared to some Taiwanese teas, but this tea is not at all vegetal-only fruity, nutty and floral. It can get sharp and bitter if it’s oversteeped, and I actually got some light minerals in steep five. There are some similarities to Bitterleafs 2016’s ducktales in it’s light fruitiness and minerality, but this one was more nutty and thicker in texture.
I actually debated on getting more into it, but again, I have too much Dancong I’m behind on. Then again, I might get more. But I’m saving. We’ll see how financially dumb I’m feeling.
I personally recommend it as a really affordable Dancong of this varietal and as one that was surprisingly durable. It was also very fruity and nutty, and I liked how it balanced out with the roast. It is a on the greener side without being vegetal, so that’s a welcome sign. I’d be curious to see what other people on here think about it. Also, they are going to sell out of this season, so if you want to try it, now, as for the days before easter in 2021 on this good friday, timing is of the essence.
So memorable, but this is not my best note since it’s a really old backlog and I’m bordering on unreliable narrator. To simplify things though, it’s a fruitier dancong that is pretty easy to drink for new drinkers and great for intermediate-to expert, and is decently priced for a durable Yashi. It can get bitter if oversteeped and border on biting if you’re not careful, but not as harsh as other dancongs in general. I can’t rate it because I’m siphoning memories of it last spring, but I remember enough to at least write about it.
Flavors: Almond, Biting, Bitter, Butter, Floral, Fruity, Lychee, Milk, Peach, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet
Sipdown! (8 | 212)
I had a tiny bit leftover after my gongfu session the other day, so I figured I’d finish this off Western-style.
It was a good choice, because the taste is actually fairly close to the first steep of my other session, which was my favorite! Very creamy and silky with peach notes, quite reminiscent of a Taiwanese high mountain oolong. A touch of oats and only a hint of floral, mostly just peaches & cream goodness!
Farewell, tasty tea, you were fun to try and definitely outside my comfort zone!
Flavors: Apricot, Creamy, Floral, Milk, Oats, Peach, Smooth, Sweet, Thick
Doing a bit of gongfu cha today!
Highly unusual for me, but I’m doing a tea-themed spring countdown box on Instagram, and this was the item for today. I figured it would be silly to steep it in any other way, so out came the gaiwan!
I did 10, 15, 20, 20, 25, 30s steeps. I’m sure I could’ve kept going, but I got bored.
To be honest, this just isn’t my kind of flavor profile. The first steep was delicious, very milky and buttery with some nice dried stonefruit and grain notes, and lush but light and sweet floral notes. But from there, the floral notes sort of took over, and we all know that strong floral isn’t my thing. Still some nice peach notes, but mostly floral.
It was fun to try though! And I have a little bit left to try steeping Western-style another day…
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Floral, Grain, Milk, Peach, Perfume, Smooth, Sweet
Gotta be impressed with the wonders of the internet and its ability to connect people. I got a message from Logan, the marketing director, on instagram because he liked my reviews and wanted my input for this tea. I was kinda thrown off since I’m used to being relatively isolated on social media, but it was a happy surprise. I’ve been looking for a Qi Lan, and I really like Hugo Teas, so I was pretty ecstatic. Logan already upfronted some description of it being floral, woodsy, and fairly smooth. It was from Banyan material from his source, maybe wild, from the year 2018. So then I got 50 grams, and here’s my input.I personally am into this tea.
Yancha was something I’d be really into at the beginning of my tea journey since I was a black coffee drinker looking for some alternatives, but I moved away from darker oolongs to the more floral, namely Qi Lans and Dan Congs….nevermind I also moved away from Chinese TGYs.
Qi Lans are my favorite yanchas since they tend to be more on the floral side of higher oxidation and roasting, and they can have similarities to Dan Congs. I did semi-western gong fu, beginning with 45 seconds, and adding 10-30 second depending on color and aroma. Qilans also tend to have a mixed reaction from people depending on processing and roasting. Some like it dark, I tend to like it greener, or a balance of both. I also noticed you never get the same flavor for this kind of tea, and it heavily varies from season to season even from the same producer. This makes Qilans a little bit more niche in who drinks it.
This tea has ample floral aroma, heavy with almond, jasmine, bamboo, florals, and minerals. The first steep emphasized almond, but steeps 2-3 were heavy with jasmine and orchid. Steeps 4-5 became weirdly fruity and a little spicy, edging on sweet-tart strawberry, ginger, and plantain with its continued woodsy, mineraled, and floral profile. I’d be curious if I get the fruity notes again since I usually don’t get them from a Qi Lan. Overactive imagination messing with my palette, maybe? Logan mentioned maybe lavender and prune. I’m going to have to see what I get next time. Otherwise, immensely floral and sweet.
Later steeps were long, and had the jasmine, banana, and wood, but with a drying slightly bitter aftertaste kinda like dried bamboo and dirt. It was a little astringent, but not overly so. I stopped there.
I’m not sure how I’d market this one since it’s a lot softer than some other teas, but I think some people might be thrown off by the plaintain woodsiness. I do think that you were right, Logan that it could have used a hair more roast, but at the same time, this is pretty close to how I like my Qi Lans. I like being able to taste the florals, and the weird fruit notes appeal to my inner tea snob. As for other people’s preference, I’m not sure. My mom was into this one because it tastes like a jasmine tea in some ways, but she was not into it when I gave her a later brew since she thought it was too bitter. I also do not see Qi Lans be written about that often here. A good chunk of the Qi Lan notes are mine, my friends, recommended in our little circle, or from older bloggers and posters. I very rarely see Qi Lans even on blog sites, so I’m throwing out the question to you for fun, the audience in the digital ether:
What do you think about Qi Lans, and what kind of people would drink them?
I curiously wait for your reply. In the mean time, I’m going to experiment more with this one to see what I think.
Flavors: Almond, Bamboo, Bitter, Floral, Ginger, Jasmine, Mineral, Smooth, Strawberry, Sweet, Wood
I’ve been meaning to do this one a while. I may have cheated and described it on another note for another tea. Oh well, here’s the story about how I changed my mind on this tea.
This one is interesting. I tried it two years back as a looseleaf to see if I would get it as a daily sachet work oolong in bulk. Their description is really interesting for when I purchased it in 2018 and in 2019- wild honey- sandalwood-and white pepper. Since it was oddly specific, I figured the notes weren’t off, and they weren’t. It’s profile is very close to a Tie Guan Yin type of tea with a little bit more sharpness and complexity. I wasn’t in love with it at first since it was kinda thin, water-cresty and too intense with the tangy orchid florals. I decided against buying the 100 bag pack and Hugo’s Jasmine would become my staple.
Trying it now after sorting through the teas I need to drink through, I dumped the sample in my Yuppy version of a Gaiwan that’s called the Manual Brewer from Spirit Tea, which I pronounce Man-U-El everytime I read the description in my head. The durability and double wall of the Gaiwan and cup are great, but the lack of filtration and the glass make my teas taste a hair more astringent than they do in porcelain or clay.
Aside from the mini-teaware review aside, the sampler dumping ground combo with terse steeps of 10-15 second increments did the trick really well. The texture was fuller and thicker, and the honey cascaded nicely with the orchid florals, some very light roast, and a nice sharp edge of spiciness like ginger and the white pepper described. I kept on going back to it and it evolved. Earlier steeps were more honey and orchid forward, middle more pepper, and later ones get spicier followed up by the water chestnut flavor I’ve personally associated with Tie Guan Yin similar Chinese oolongs.
This one is very green, but not too beeny green. It’s very floral, and very sharp. I swear Hugo teas differ season to season. For example, earlier years and seasons of the jasmine where more citrusy last time, but this past years was more grapey and on the dryer side with the jasmine. The previous season of Earl Grey taste was more acidic, but the recent one was more pithy and malty as a sachet. The tasting notes have actually changed in the last few years for most of their teas. A part of that is marketing since the company is slowly catering more to a Gong Fu Cha-Consuming crowd, but this particular 2019 Spring batch does taste sharper and fuller than the 2018 one did. That one was almost too floral and watery, which could be due to how I brewed it, but it was fuller this time and well balanced. The sharper notes clashed with the sweeter honey notes making me grimace like it was sour or tart last time, but the thicker honey and the tangy sharper spicier notes made the orchid florals less intense.
Anyway, while this is still not my favorite tea just due to my Taiwanese, Dan Cong, and Nepal preferences, it stands out compared to many much more generic oolongs I’ve had. I dig the natural spiciness to it, and it’s actually pretty easy to drink. I still much prefer Hugo’s Earl Grey and Jasmine Green right now and recommend them stronger, this one is a great foundation for an oolong and it might not be a bad staple.
The only challenge is that this one is in a weird crossroads for who might like it. I think newer drinkers would be into it, but I could see some be off put by the orchid profile and the weird spicy kick this tea has, putting it more into tea snob territory. It’s also a bit more experimental since it’s a Taiwanese varietal grown in China and styled like a Tie Guan Yin from the same region that specializes in Dragonwell and Jasmine, so that’s another point to tea snobs and tea nerds. It’s also fairly durable, but I think Gong Fu is the way to tame this dragon, nevermind I think this is a good example of most Chinese Oolongs since many have both spicy, sweet, and floral qualities. This one just combines it into one, making a good education tea I’d use on a noob to say “THIS IS OOLONG”. I do highly recommend and prefer the more oxidized Dong Fang Mei Ren version of this one, the Champagne Long Lou, but this tea is a solid and fun oolong.
I apologize for my verbosity. You don’t always get a tea that makes you change your mind like this one, and I do think that a Chinese Fan Style Qin Xin that is sold as both a loose tea and a sachet tea is more than noteworthy.
Flavors: Floral, Ginger, Green, Honey, Orchid, Pepper, Sour, Spicy, Sweet, Tangy, Vanilla
I wish that you could just copy and paste images…
Anyway, I finished off a sample of this oolong today, and it surprised me. This is a Gaungxi Chinese take on the Oriental Beauty, and it stands out as a better than the original mimic. It really looks and tastes like a great quality Bai Hao, and the notes of rosewater, fruit punch, and juicy notes really pack it. It does have some grapey and drying qualities, but this is one of the fruitier ones I’ve had to date. The rose water notes are extremely pronounced, but they do not make the tea perfumy in a short western style of 2 minute increments. There are also some aspects of mineral water, light tannin, and fructose sugar, reminding in part of some Taiwanese blacks, but the medium body and floral notes makes it heavily more oolong.
Hats off to you, Hugo Tea, for a really good loose leaf. If I didn’t already have some of this varietal, I’d be tempted to get more of it. I personally think this is a great summer/autumn tea, because it evokes summer florals and fruits that extend into fall. It really suited the fall weather we’ve had in Michigan, though. Either way, I highly recommend this and this company for those looking for a good mix of sachets and loose leaf, especially if you are looking for teas that do not have heavy flavoring.
Flavors: Drying, Fruit Punch, Fruity, Grapes, Passion Fruit, Raisins, Rose, Wood
Rebranded as Hugo Grey. Opening the back was a little overwhelming-bergamot bambed in my face. I opened it again a day later, and the peppery yunnan black base came through. Here are there notes:“grapefruit peel | applewood smoke | lemon zest” and that is more accurate in tems smell. In terms of taste, it’s doubtless Earl Grey, but with a scotch caramel body accented by cocoa, caraway, and pepper notes amidst a malty body. It could be a little drying like biscuit, but also pleasantly bitter sweet.
My only criticism is that the bergamot is a hair too strong. Otherwise, this tea does resemble some higher rated teas like Whispering Pines Earl Gold, which is impressive to say the least. This one is good western or gong fu. I’d love to see it in sachet form for the convenience of having an affordable high grade leaf.
Okay, I have a hard time letting go of this one. I need to drink it everyday to remain satisfied with life.
I’ve got this song stuck in me head.
I have it as the rebranded Jasmine Bai Hao. I’ve slowly re-acclimated myself to green teas for budget reasons, and this is one of the best Jasmine Sachets for the price I’ve had so far. The green tea is in a snail style, and they resemble a half curled Dragon Pearl, even in the sachet. It’s ranged from 5.99-6.99 for the 12 sachets, which is not bad. The company describes the notes like this : “sweet pea | hawthorn honey | nectarine” and it’s on point. You know it’s jasmine, but it’s got a citrus edge and a little bit of astringency that’s not overwhelming. I do recommend keeping the tea light to two minutes, or using 12 ounces of hot water if you want to brew it longer. I do like Stephen Smith’s Jasmine a little more, but for the cost, this tea is great for work, company, and meditation.
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Green, Jasmine, Nectar, Orange, Peach, Peas, Smooth
Tried it rebranded. Great mouthfeel and aftertaste great for the most particular, but super weak. They use gardenia, brown sugar, and snickerdoodle in the notes. I get more snickerdoodle and tulip, with the usual light peony body. I can see it being great as a daily sachet tea, but I still like the Jasmine tea the best from this company so far.
So my final pot of this tea didn’t have the problems I’d noticed with previous cups- namely that it is a bit soapy and leaves the mouth feeling dry.
No, as is typical, I got the steep time right at this last moment. Grumble.
This was a decent Earl. Not an exceptional one, so I doubt I’ll get any more of this, but it was nice enough to have.
First two shows down!
They went fine. Both had sections that could have run smoother, but I’m fairly pleased with how my part came out. Next weekend is the final set of shows, and thats always a bittersweet time.
A pot of this for breakfast. Its a decent earl, but it gets a little soapy with its bergamot. Next time I’ll watch the steep time, and see if it makes a difference.
So there are some thrilling tea cupboard developments. For starters, 18 teas. 18 teas! I cannot remember when I last had only 18 teas!
18 teas fits on a single page. 18 teas has made it obvious which teas I’ve never actually tried.
This makes me very happy, as I’ve been working towards getting all the teas in my cupboard tried, and working on finding the perfect balance of old favorites and new things.
I don’t normally drink Earls for my breakfast cup, but I gave it a shot here.
This is a very strong Earl. Not unpleasant, but very, very strong. Not great as the first cup of the day, I’ll be honest. Next time it will be the second or third cup of the day, and I feel that I’ll really be able to appreciate it then.
I’ve brought my tin of this to my desk at work, and it’s been a really lovely part of my work day.
This is a lovely black tea blend, with a hint of something coco-y, and a light and refreshing brew.
I’m getting much more interested in unflavored blend, and its really nice to discover the complexity that can be found in tea.
Time of waking- 4:00 a.m., to take someone to the airport.
I managed to come home and sleep for about an hour before I had to get up to go to work.
It is going to be a very very long day, with me floating through the world.
This tea is nice, but rather more mild than I expected it to be. Theres a somewhat woody note to it.
I am going to need a near permanent stream of tea today to stay functional.
(Skip this part; the review will be buried a couple paragraphs down.)
First day post-funeral. It was sweet and simple (Dad would’ve said it was 10 minutes too long), and the funeral director took a wrong turn on the way to the cemetery. Nobody upset about that—it’s twelve miles beyond the back of nowhere and six miles beyond anybody’s cell signal. My brother said it was appropriate to give Dad one more long ride through the country.
I recognize the need to merge back into real life, but I’m stalled at the top of the on-ramp.
(OK, now the tea review.)
Somewhere in the chaos of the past week, we stopped inside our new Natural Grocers with a $10 grand opening promo coupon in hand. Tins of Hugo Tea caught my eye; had never seen it on retail shelves before. Was impressed by the pull-tab top on the tin—they want this stuff to come to you fresh!
And it was. Malty, toasty and bready; some reviews have mentioned a burnt caramel essence which was there—everything that signifies a really fine tea. And the fact that it made an impression on me when I was vague and numb and bewildered says a lot. Second steep was a nice echo of the first.
Pricey, it is; around 10 bucks for a dozen sachets, so it’s not for your morning commute. But a lovely extravagant treat for a morning when you need to pause and ponder.