Old Ways Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

Sipdiwn 45

I didn’t love this. Very muted, earthy flavor.

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drank Xiao Hong Pao by Old Ways Tea
43 tasting notes

2021 harvest. This strikes me as a nice classic yancha – makes me think of some kind of bitter honey, sticky and sweet with strong mineral notes and an astringent aftertaste. Everything I’ve had from Old Ways Tea so far is of very good quality.

Flavors: Astringent, Bittersweet, Chestnut, Cotton Candy, Honey, Mineral

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(I think I have the 2020 harvest of this tea, but I’m not certain of the year.)
I love a complex black tea. This one is both fruity and smoky without being overwhelming, reminds me of applewood smoke. Moderate body. Carries a variety of flavors that are all distinct but blend together really well, I’m struggling to describe it – it’s like the brushstrokes in a Turner painting, individually they’re fuzzy and muddled but together they form a clear picture. Towards the end the tea becomes pleasantly bitter in a way that makes me salivate. This one deserves paying attention to.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Persimmon, Plum, Smoke, Whiskey

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drank Lao Cong Shui Xian by Old Ways Tea
186 tasting notes

Okay so I really need to kick the habit of pouring entire oolong packs into a 90 mL gaiwan because it absolutely does not work for oolongs under a certain level of roast, or at least not with the local tap. While this one is not as green as the ones from the Steeping Room (which I suspect are dropshipping Wuyi Origin teas so I need to look at what ratios others are using for those teas), this was still at best a very subpar experience. The greenness and sharpness is overwhelming. From what I can tell though, the material does seem to be better than the SR ones and worth the slight premium.

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Gongfu!

Early morning yancha session because toasty, roasty oolong seemed perfect for the overnight cold snap and heavy snowfall…

This tea is delicious with an immediate and consistent heavy roast and mineral quality that reminded me of charred barley, coffee grounds, and fire roasted chestnuts with a pretty peanut heavy finish. After a couple infusions I started to get more of a building stonefruit note that leaned a little plum in taste. With floral hints throughout, the overall profile was one of warmth and comfort – a perfect oolong for the morning!

Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CciRIz1OoDU/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wd0lAYvVt8&ab_channel=LorenzoGCook

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90

Thank you derk for this wonderful tea.

I have prepared it gongfu, all (5g?) in my gaiwan and it lasted whole afternoon session from 2 pm to 5 pm — with my thermos from derk as well.

I even preheated my gaiwan, which I do not do every time, but I felt this tea deserved it. It brought aromas of sweet potatoes, malt, a little of tobacco. I haven’t rinsed it and instead I stearted with 10 s steep, which brought aromas of baked bread, rye, but also some floral notes and some other bright aromas. Taste-wise it was rather on the light spectrum, with notes of meadow, but with dark notes as well, considering nuts, thick smoothness and sweetness.
This was a story of most of the steeps.

I lost my track though pretty much soon and after a few 10 seconds increments I did also a few really long ones, mostly because I forgot about the tea — as I was making topics for finals which isn’t a best pairing with gongfu tea brewing, but it delivered me needed caffeine boost and also a little bit of distraction from transport economics.

In conclusion, I say I am happy with this tea and I am glad I have tried it, because it is really good one. However, for such a high rating I expect a little more… on the other hand it is 4 years old tea. Maybe it has faded a bit, maybe I just wasn’t exactly in the necessary attention that it deserves. It’s gone for me, which is a little sad, but every time I finish a box, pouch or a bag, I say to myself, that I have more space for another wonderful teas that will come one day.

Flavors: Bread, Floral, Malt, Nutty, Rye, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 125 ML
derk

You’re welcome :) Are you taking a class again?

Martin Bednář

I will explain in PM :)

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94

Okay, I’m finally back on here to post some reviews. It feels like it’s been forever. My spring coursework is finally winding down, and I’m supposed to be starting my new job next month. I also went ahead and reapplied for the graduate assistantship I turned down last year, and from what I understand, I am being considering for it once again, so if I get a wild hair and decide to move, that might be an option for me. Anyway, I wanted my return to reviewing tea to begin on a positive note and decided to start with a tea that I tried early in the year that impressed me tremendously.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of the loose tea leaf and osmanthus flower blend in 3 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 20 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaf and flower mix emitted aromas of bread and osmanthus. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of minerals, butter, and roasted almond accompanied by an even clearer, stronger osmanthus fragrance. The first infusion brought out aromas of pear and apple with subtle undertones of cinnamon. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of cedar, pine, bread, butter, roasted almond, and surprisingly light, delicate osmanthus that were balanced by somewhat subtler impressions of straw, grass, beeswax, and honey. The tea’s bouquet did not change much on the remainder of the infusions, though I was able to pick up a subtle mossy scent in places. Notes of minerals, moss, caramel, sweet potato, pear, red apple, plum, and earth emerged on the palate and were accompanied by hints of cinnamon, leather, tobacco, peach, green wood, and juniper. Each swallow then revealed subtle impressions of blueberry, birch bark, and wintergreen that lingered on the back of the throat for some time. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, bread, roasted almond, cedar, moss, pear, and earth that were chased by lingering hints of honey, osmanthus, peach, pine, beeswax, green wood, caramel, blueberry, straw, and wintergreen.

Normally, I am not a huge fan of osmanthus black teas, but this one came closer to getting a perfect rating from me than one might imagine. Had some of the tea’s more interesting flavor components balanced the osmanthus in the mouth a little more, and had there been a few more aromas emerge over the course of my gongfu session, I would have had no problem assigning this tea a score of 100. Even with those minor flaws, this was still an exceptional offering. The base tea and the osmanthus blossoms played off of one another beautifully.

Flavors: Almond, Bark, Blueberry, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cinnamon, Earth, Grass, Green Wood, Herbaceous, Honey, Leather, Mineral, Moss, Osmanthus, Peach, Pear, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Straw, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Wax, Wintergreen

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
mrmopar

Sounds like good things in store for you.

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Thank you so much, Derk!

This is one of the teas I hesitate with whenever I want to try it. Opening it up, and using about half of the sample to maybe 3-5 grams, smoke and pine qualities come from the bag. Reminds me of a Lapsang as expected, but softer.

Brewing it up gong fu and in shorter 20 second incremented brews, smoke was prominent in the first one. Cedar came to mind in every brew for me, and the leading floral that contrasted with the autumn qualities was honeysuckle and usual white tea peony. Later steeps got sweeter and more floral.

I enjoyed the complexity of this one. I wouldn’t want to have it as a staple, but my inner tea nerd is happy. Funny enough, my mom is going to Ohio and my girlfriend is coming back from Ohio, so it’s serendipitous I drank this one.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cedar, Floral, Honeysuckle, Peony, Smoke, Smooth, Toasty

derk

You’re welcome :) I really enjoy this tea’s soft, smoked Lapsang-like character as a departure from pretty much all other white teas.

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94

By courtesy of derk I had a chance to try another Old Ways Tea. I remember talking with the owner on r/tea IRC chat (I haven’t been there for ages… just re-logged there now.) It seems lots of changed during the year I haven’t been there. I was busy with my life (finals, thesis, job search…) and I am now very sad about it that I left it without saying goodbye.

I remember we were talking about wrappers. Wrappers of those loose leaf “samples”. And he sent me photos of shop where buys them. Here is the link (I have saved it that I can admire) https://imgur.com/a/g88DE

Anyway to the tea. It was my another breakfast tea and today I was feeling it’s gongfu time. So, prepared all 5 grams in my gaiwan. No rinse, because the tea was such great looking and there were no dust.

It had mild smoke aroma complemented with red fruits aroma. It was good pairing to my bread with aged gouda cheese.

In taste it was quite strongly smoky at first, but soon it started to mellowing and it has ended with smooth minerality with sweet notes of tea, which were again quite similar, to red fruits to me.

The pine smoke was enjoyable all the times, it was never overpowering the flavours. And other notes. I wish I got a chance to try it again. Maybe not today. Nor soon. But Old Ways Tea is always a quality tea.

Damn!
Thank you derk.

Flavors: Mineral, Red Fruits, Smoked

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 125 ML
ashmanra

Wow! Those packages!

derk

Cool picture! Looks like a wall of smokes behind the counter at a gas station. Also, your food pairing sounds perfect.

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Gongfu!

It’s been a little while since I last had a really good Rougui and this one is hitting all the right notes. A sharp fruity sourness to the top of the sip, like tangy fruits or even roasted chicory, before being pulled down into a hug of heavy roast and minerality with the trademark warming cinnamon. The finish, especially as this tea session goes on, is slightly floral with sweet ripe stonefruit notes rising from the undertones and lingering on the palate after each sip. Mostly plum, a little nectarine. So nuanced, comforting, and delicious!

Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CaSip-rOqng/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgV6JDSXhoo&ab_channel=TheJungleGiants-Topic

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90

2021 harvest

A complex and satisfying tea with strength in all facets. Sweet floral-grassy-pine and nutty-malty-grain aromas, fruity aftertaste and lingering retronasal action are pronounced. The body is at first silky, traveling around the mouth and down the throat with ease, where a gentle, warm, bark-like tannic quality stimulates and has me wanting to keep my mouth closed. Chest and sinuses open; energy is mellow and caffeine effects soothing rather than overstimulating. As the session progresses, the tea taste turns more toward citrus qualities and reveals a pithy bitterness. A poke through the wet leaf in the pot does show a picking of buds and 1 young leaf, 1 bud.

I’ve had another Jin Jun Mei from Old Ways Tea that captivated my attention more than this one which suffers from lack of longevity, producing only 4 truly worthwhile infusions gong fu. The leaf overall does require some attention to be paid during brewing.

At nearly $2.20/g for a 4.5g sample packet, it is a nice treat but I’m left wanting something more. Longevity, I guess, knowing what Tongmuguan teas are capable of, like OWT’s Jin Guazi. Maybe the lack of longevity is a result of using such a high bud ratio pick. Is a high demand and hyped tea like Jin Jun Mei worth the price? That’s for you and your personal spending limits to decide.

Flavors: Bark, Blueberry, Camphor, Cinnamon, Citrusy, Dill, Eggplant, Floral, Flowers, Grapefruit, Grass, Honey, Leather, Lemongrass, Malt, Molasses, Nutty, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Pine, Pumpkin, Savory, Silky, Sweet, Tangy, Wheat, White Chocolate

Daylon R Thomas

If it weren’t so expensive, I’d get it. I love Tong mu teas because of how citrusy they can be.

derk

Tongmu/Masu black teas are definitely among my favorites but I feel you on the price. Citrus is one of my weaknesses in tea and yeah, teas from that region can display those notes so beautifully <3

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drank Da Hong Pao 大红袍 by Old Ways Tea
1239 tasting notes

2020 harvest

Wow, this has an intense taste! I imagine it as rum balls filled with a blueberry-raspberry-vanilla bean-dark chocolate liqueur. The Wuyi ‘wet rock’ character is at a good level, letting the sweet and rich aromatics take center stage. There’s a playful oaky tannic-bitter feeling that gives some extra textural taste; later, that turns more prominent along with an astringent-drying quality but still with plenty of flavor. Not until 5 or 6 steeps in do I notice a vibrant osmanthus-brown sugar-vanilla aftertaste. The tea’s a slow bloomer in that regard. Very nice blended tea that I can see aging well!

I started working on my tea tray project again. After a year on the back burner. Bunch of salvaged white oak. Looks like I can make at least 5+ trays once I rip all the pieces. Hoping to have everything sanded this weekend :)

Flavors: Ash, Astringent, Bitter, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Dark Chocolate, Drying, Espresso, Mineral, Oak, Osmanthus, Raspberry, Rum, Sweet, Tannin, Vanilla, Wet Rocks

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
ashmanra

Sounds like an amazing project! Would love to see pics when you are done, or even work in progress ones!

derk

Maybe once I start assembling them but definitely when they’re finished!

mrmopar

Repurposing is such a good thing to do with stuff people toss. Yah, I want to see the pics too. Oak is a good wood to use.

Evol Ving Ness

Me too, please!

derk

Following our big storm a few months ago, some of the wood sat for a week in water that found its way into the garage. White oak has a great grain for my purpose. None of the wood warped and a little sanding took off the water stains. I think I’ll coat the inside of the trays with lacquer and only oil the visible wood to retain its natural modest character.

Martin Bednář

Not sure which oil are you going to use, but my father did a little experience with boiled linseed oil and it is wonderful. Not sure how it will look like on white oak though!

derk

Yup, that’s the one! I’ll test it first. But first I have to learn how to make joints!

Lexie Aleah

Ooh a tea tray project? It sounds beautiful already would love to see some pics at some point. (:

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I think this might have been a freebie included a few orders ago but I’m uncertain. EIther way, thank you Old Ways Tea :) 2020 harvest.

The aroma is moderate, the taste is full and the body of the tea is delightfully creamy and oily. I suppose that means it also lacks the typical astringency or drying character of many Wuyi oolong. It possesses less mineral character than I prefer, so this might be a good introduction to rock oolong — enough minerality that it defines the style but perhaps not so much as to turn people away.

The taste is round and full, nutty-sweet and chocolatey with an orchid top note, and at times expressing a note of pleasant sourness but I can’t nail down which flavor profile matches it. A pithy bitterness arises here and there, giving a hint of edginess. The aftertaste quickly develops after the swallow and blooms into a fruity, airy, rich and sweet combination of white peach, orchid, brown sugar and semisweet chocolate. The throat feels cool.

Between the mouthfeel, tastes and aftertastes, it is a satiating tea that doesn’t have me wanting to drink cup after cup, but rather has me wanting to savor it over the course of a few days. It’s not a tea that was immediately appealing to me because I like more ‘edge’ but it is nonetheless good quality. I could see someone falling hard for this Shui Xian.

Flavors: Almond, Black Raspberry, Brown Sugar, Cacao, Charcoal, Chocolate, Creamy, Dark Bittersweet, Jam, Mineral, Nutty, Ocean Air, Oily, Orchid, Peach, Pleasantly Sour, Round, Sugar, Sweet, Thistle, Wet Rocks

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94

This ‘high mountain old bush’ Shui Xian is a subtle and refined rock oolong. My impression after drinking it is of horchata, like if you took the essences of fresh rice milk, floral-woody cinnamon, floral-sweet vanilla and sugar then combined those with the characteristic minerality of yancha in a spring water-like body, you’d almost have this tea.

I say almost because there is also a prominent orchid florality, a note of dry-roasted almonds skins, some delicate berry tones, and a hint of custard. A feeling of wet moss and mushrooms.

The tea feels good, smells spectacular and drinks with ease. A lingering vanilla-orchid aftertaste completes the experience.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Berry, Cinnamon, Custard, Drying, Floral, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orchid, Perfume, Rice, Roasted Nuts, Spring Water, Sugar, Sweet, Vanilla, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks, Wood

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Old Ways Tea December box.

Mmmm. Tea drunk. Feeling weightless. When I close my eyes it feels like I’m drifting on a cloud. I could barely utter complete words.

Viscous, as was the Shui Xian in the same box that I forgot to write a note on, oops.

I think of funnel cake and Pennsylvania(?).

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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80

This will be my final review of the day unless plans change. I’m dipping into my vast backlog again with this one. The first of the 2018 and 2019 Old Ways Tea samples I polished off during my sample drinking spree that started in late 2020, this one definitely comes from last year. I knew this was basically intended to be treated as a value offering by the folks at Old Ways Tea, but I was surprised to discover that it was actually a very good, solid Wuyi black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of orchid, nectarine, blood orange, tangerine, cinnamon, and pine. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond and roasted peanut that were accompanied by subtler scents of smoke and nutmeg. The first infusion then added a cherry aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of orchid, cherry, tangerine, blood orange, roasted almond, grass, and roasted peanut that were chased by hints of cinnamon, pear, nectarine, and pomegranate. The majority of the subsequent infusions added grass, mineral, red grape, hay, violet, and a stronger nutmeg scent to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of pear, pomegranate, and nectarine emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, cream, malt, orange zest, baked bread, peach, plum, red grape, nutmeg, and violet. I also detected hints of smoke, hay, and pine here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, grass, roasted almond, malt, orange zest, tangerine, and cherry that were chased by lingering hints of red grape, plum, baked bread, orchid, blood orange, pomegranate, roasted peanut, and violet.

This tea displayed a wonderful mix of aromas and flavors, but it was not as refined or as balanced as it could have been. It had everything that would have made it an absolute knockout of an offering otherwise. As is, it was not even remotely close to being a bad offering, but I felt that it could have been much better than it was and represented something of a missed opportunity overall.

Flavors: Almond, Blood Orange, Bread, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Grapes, Grass, Hay, Malt, Mineral, Nectarine, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Pomegranate, Smoke, Tangerine, Violet

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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91

Okay, time for another review of a late 2020 sipdown. I think this one comes from late 2020 at least. I can’t really be sure. I blew through a bunch of samples from Old Ways Tea late last year and early this year, and this was the second that I finished, so I’m guessing I drank it in 2020. Whatever the case may be, I found it to be a great Wuyi black tea. It was subtler than anticipated, but it also had a ton of appeal.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of baked bread, cinnamon, cedar, and blackberry. After the rinse, I detected novel aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and cream as well as a subtle scent of hay. The first infusion saw the hay scent strengthen somewhat while aromas of grass, lemon zest, and pine also appeared. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of baked bread, malt, cream, butter, grass, hay, cedar, pine, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of cinnamon, roasted peanut, and lemon zest. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of butter, cherry, daisy, sunflower, and orange zest to the tea’s bouquet, though I also occasionally noted subtler scents that reminded me a bit of coriander and blueberry. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of cinnamon, lemon zest, and roasted peanut emerged in the mouth along with mineral, blackberry, steamed milk, sweet potato, orange zest, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, and nutmeg impressions. There were also some subtle touches of cherry, allspice, blueberry, and coriander that popped up here and there along with some vague floral notes that reminded me a bit of a combination of daisy, sunflower, and dandelion. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, orange zest, roasted almond, malt, butter, cream, grass, and lemon zest that were chased by fleeting, ghostly hints of pine, cinnamon, roasted peanut, cedar, pumpkin seed, hay, coriander, and flowers.

Plopped in my desk chair typing out this review made me think back to jotting down my impressions of this tea while I sampled it. I was stunned to discover that I recalled drinking it very vividly. This tea struck me as being so unique that the memory of trying it for the first time is now etched into my brain. Even before I sat back down to write this review, I glanced down at my notes and thought, “Oh yeah, that’s the one that tasted like sunflower and pumpkin seeds.” Fortunately, this tea offered more than just an extremely novel drinking experience. It was also an incredibly deep, complex, tasty, balanced, and sophisticated offering. If you don’t mind a tea that offers a bit of a challenge, Jin Guazi would be for you. It takes a little time to get into, but it’s so worth it.

Flavors: Allspice, Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Bread, Butter, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cream, Dandelion, Floral, Grass, Hay, Lemon Zest, Malt, Milk, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Brewed grandpa style! It’s super smooth and fruity with notes of persimmon, beeswax, fermented tangy red fruits, banana, malt, leather, and just a little bit of smoke. So wonderfully complex yet playful!!

Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWrK7ycLGOA/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TJvqYvJ9oM&ab_channel=TheBlastingCompany

As a side note – I’m working on getting back into writing some shorter tasting notes given that Advent Season is less than a week away now and I’m going to be daily posting ALL my advents once again this year. I always feel burnt out by the time Christmas comes, so I really want to take some pressure off myself and kind of get in the mindset of knowing that I’m allowed to write shorter notes…

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93
drank Lao Cong Shui Xian by Old Ways Tea
1239 tasting notes

The experience of drinking a tree, thriving as a part of its larger environment. From the clean air to crowns and fruits. From mosses and lichens and orchids to bark. From grasses and nuts strewn about to root crowns gathering nutrients for transport. It is not an isolated process. And neither are we. This tea grounds me to what supports my being. It is life’s teacher.

I had the 2019 harvest. Please read Jade’s note for this tea as well.

Togo

Lovely note :)

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87

Did I see Old Ways Tea mention that this Rou Gui huang pian is something special?

It is.

Cleanest energy from tea I’ve had in a long time.

derk

Kinda like houjicha with the sweet, roasted aromatics but with a bright apricot background. Very easy steeper western style.

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drank Jin Guazi (2018) by Old Ways Tea
2756 tasting notes

Another gift from derk!

I got all out of whack making my breakfast today. I usually start the tea first so that it is ready when the food is ready and everything is hot. I was nearly done making the bacon when I realized I had not chosen a tea and this pouch was closest. Thus the first steep was western.

It smelled marvelous and was a departure from what most of us think of as breakfast tea, but I don’t drink those much anyway. It was so good that I decided to have another gong fu session after breakfast, even if the leaves were already steeped western once.

Derk was right about the tea having a lot of steeps to give. I didn’t even play them all out, but I kept going for as much water as I had put in the kettle and it was still giving.

Medium body, round mouth effect, building briskness that is not at all sour but simply dries the tongue and makes a nice tingle. I dislike the tingle of many teas, but this is a kind I like, a scrapey feeling like you would get from unsweetened cocoa, but not bitter or unpleasant. Not that I felt there were chocolate notes here, just the sensation cocoa would give.

I sniffed these leaves so hard looking for the elusive grass note derk mentioned, but I concentrated as hard as I could. Deep sniff. Not smelling grass or flowers. Deep sniff. Mental image of my mother’s purse in my childhood. What?

Deep sniff. Aaaaaah, TOBACCO! Her cigaretttes, of course!

Definite sweet-ish tobacco aroma was the dominant scent for me. I suppose that is a little grassy and flowery underneath? But also it is a rich, warm, ever so slightly sweet smell to me.

I really enjoyed this one as I have ALL of the Old Ways tea I have tried, and I was shocked to see derk’s review that said they are in California! For some reason I have always assumed they were in Asia and hard to come by. I need to take a good look at their site now that I know.

Thank you, derk! Another lovely tea session thanks to you!

Michelle

Sigh, another tea site to check out. I might actually drink all the tea I have one day if it weren’t for all you fun enablers here on Steepster.

gmathis

(giggle) That’s why we’re our own support group!

Evol Ving Ness

Hahaha, true that. Times two.

ashmanra

I was doing….fair?…at drinking down some teas but I just got an order with six new ones today. I blame Cameron B for most of these, ha ha!

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87

Final tea from a 3-cultivar sampler from 2018? Again, this is not a 2019 tea like the Tie Luo Han I logged from this sampler.

Lots of aromatics contained within the leaf. Dry, I could smell a distinct charcoal note, dry woodiness, sweetness like brown sugar, peanut shells, hints of osmanthus and floral blueberry. The warmed and rinsed leaf smelled very strongly of red cherry, red wine, dried fruits in general, berry syrup verging medicinal. The fruity character was sharp, not as full and round as what I’ve tasted in Bei Dou cultivar. Oh, and there was gardenia, which I don’t recall experiencing in any other yancha (though maybe Bai Ji Guan?).

This tea had a prominent tangy-mineral-astringent taste and a very dry and warm character that reminded of the few Rou Gui I’ve had. All the aromas of the leaf fleeted through the main tea taste, along with tobacco, blackberry and butter lettuce, which made for a complex, engaging experience. Dry aftertaste of vanilla custard and some residual flat bitterness in the back of the mouth. I did drink the rinse which tasted of cocoa and red wine.

The overall feeling of this tea was quite robust, energetic, active and dry-warming, qualities which would make a good mid-winter’s evening elixir.

Ban Tian Yao was a cultivar I had not tried before. After this session, I can see myself purchasing it again.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Charcoal, Cherry, Cocoa, Custard, Dried Fruit, Drying, Gardenias, Lettuce, Medicinal, Mineral, Osmanthus, Peanut, Red Wine, Roasted, Spicy, Tangy, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wood

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94
*2020 harvest

This is a very charming Da Hong Pao. This type of tea often comes out too dry or too smoky. This one from Old Ways has just enough of quality smoke. And it is so juicy and sweet, with notes of flowers, pear, peach, apricot… The taste is very oolong-y as being somewhat muted and not in your face.
Mellow and so smooth.

If I am forced to find the worse sides this would be the absence of a long aftertaste, but somehow I cannot fault for the lack of it with this flavor profile.
I usually like more pronounced, drier Da Hong Paos with the long aftertaste but I am ready to be convinced that this is a better way to make it.

eastkyteaguy

I think it’s funny that the folks at Old Ways Tea often undersell the quality of their tea. I remember that 2015 Da Hong Pao they referenced in the description of this tea. It was very good and very consistent. Sure, it may not have been a super high end Da Hong Pao made from the highest quality leaves from the oldest, purest, and most storied plants, but it was a stunning example of a basic commercial Da Hong Pao. Things don’t have to be expensive to be great.

derk

Agreed on all counts.

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59

Another oolong from the 3-bag sampler bought maybe in 2018.

Dry leaf smelled very sweet with something vanilla or caramel-like without the dairy tone. the smell of woody-cacao and charcoal backed that up, as well as a dill undertone. Despite being a very sweet scent, it was not much concentrated. Watery?

Warmed leaf had a big aroma of dark chocolate cake and thistle, cooked raspberry.

The taste was fine but nothing special to me. Delicate sweetness, blackberry, hint of mango. Kind of a creamy tropical fruit aftertaste like cherimoya. Cooling huigan. With the third infusion, it became thicker in body than the first two steeps. I picked up on notes of chyrsanthemum and a bright butterscotch. Swallowed tangy and mineral, some tongue tingling. By the fifth infusion, the tea became very mineral.

Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with this Shui Jin Gui. It had some alluring tastes but they always remained watery, lacking the intensity of character that is common in Wuyi oolong. Also with the tea changing gears into full-on minerality instead of releasing flavors in a slow fade, I was jarred out of what could have been a mellow experience. Clunky. Not a tea I’d care to drink again, but I will still keep my eye out for another Shui Jin Gui.

Flavors: Blackberry, Butterscotch, Cacao, Caramel, Charcoal, Chrysanthemum, Dark Chocolate, Dill, Herbaceous, Mango, Mineral, Mint, Tangy, Thistle, Tropical Fruit, Vanilla, Wood

eastkyteaguy

Shui Jin Gui is very hit or miss for me. I’ve had a few that I loved, but I have also had one or two that were very meh. Surprisingly, I’ve had the best luck with Shui Jin Gui from Yunnan Sourcing and Verdant Tea. I tried one from Wuyi Origin a couple months ago that had some lovely aromas and flavors, but it thinned out quickly and displayed some awkward and poorly integrated vegetal qualities. It wasn’t terrible, but I was expecting so much more.

eastkyteaguy

As a side note, I find that I am increasingly gravitating towards specific Wuyi oolong cultivars as I get older. When I first started seriously drinking Wuyi tea around five or six years ago, I was all about Shui Jin Gui, Shui Xian, and Qi Lan. I still love the latter two cultivars, but I have gotten very picky about Shui Jin Gui. I used to not care much for Huang Guan Yin and Rou Gui, but I have come around on both in the last couple of years. Bai Rui Xiang, Ban Tian Yao, Bai Ji Guan, Jin Mu Dan, and Fo Shou are my jams. I can dig a Wuyi Jin Guan Yin too. They’re often hard to find. I also like Da Hong Pao, Tie Luohan, Chun Lan, and Bei Dou. I find that I enjoy Qi Dan greatly when it is processed as a Da Hong Pao, but otherwise, I can take it or leave it. Try as I might, I cannot muster much of a reaction to Huang Mei Gui, Que She, Dan Gui, or Mei Zhan, though Mei Zhan can be used to make some awesome black tea.

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