Taiwan Tea CraftsEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Lot 802 (Spring 2019) blew me away. This one seems to lack the deep intensity of Lot 802 and is more temperamental, though the Red Jade white tea trademark still presents fully. Western style brewing was ok, a little too drying for my likes.
With longer steeps in a small teapot, the flavors became more complex in an already complex style of tea. The more aromatic components of the tea arrive on the sip and include flowers along with pungent herbs like bay leaf, wintergreen, fenugreek and anise. The body has some moderate, gripping woody tannins. The main taste is of straw and strong minerals, supplemented by a fruity and malty guava-berry-orange-cinnamon tone. I notice the cinnamon more in the bottom of the cup smell. Later steeps smooth out the drying quality, tannins and minerality. It does take long steeps well but if overbrewed, a medicinal, fresh plant resin bitterness is noticed before anything else. Because of this bitterness and the drying quality, I do not think this is suitable as a grandpa style brew.
I opted for only a 10g sample of this since I also bought a 25g bag of last year’s harvest (Lot 901, Spring 2020) for a sweet deal. Like the Sanxia white tea I logged the other day, I wish I had gone for a larger package. This is a good tea to play around with to learn how different temperatures and steep times can alter a tea’s structural profile. I do wonder how more resting will affect this tea.
Flavors: Anise, Berry, Biting, Bitter, Cinnamon, Drying, Flowers, Guava, Herbs, Malt, Medicinal, Menthol, Mineral, Orange, Resin, Straw, Tannin, Wood
Sipdown! (13 | 217)
My last TTC black tea sample!
This is a lovely tea, with loads and loads of rich brown sugar flavor. There’s also light, fluffy bread and slightly tart yet syrupy dried fruit, perhaps cherries and prunes. Some light woodiness, and a whisper of floral at the end of the sip. But that caramelized brown sugar is definitely the star of the show, with a touch of honey on the side, playing a supporting role.
Nommy nommy brown sugary goodness. This was an experimental tea when I got it a few years back, I think their Organic Heritage Wuyi Strand black tea might be the equivalent now? Maybe I’ll find out one day, when I’m allowed to order some straight black teas again…
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Dried Fruit, Floral, Hay, Honey, Prune, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Wood
Sipdown! (7 | 211)
Out of Chinese black tea samples and into Taiwanese now!
I’m not sure how I feel about this one. It’s not what I typically think of for a Taiwanese black tea, which usually brings to mind honey, cinnamon, fruity, malty sort of notes.
This does have some of that, but for me it leads with a strong overcooked green bean flavor and notes of olives?! Very savory at the beginning of the sip, which I was not expecting at all. I do get some of those dark, sweet muscovado sugar and molasses notes starting mid-sip, and a bit of the expected fruitiness. Definitely very dark and syrupy dried fruit, like prunes with a touch of fig. Malty, yes, that’s there as well, and some bready chewiness. A hint of menthol in the aftertaste…?
So I suppose the second half of the sip is more what I would expect, ha ha! But the beginning just completely throws me off with its strong savory, almost briny vegetal notes. Not one that I would reorder, but still very fun to try!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Dried Fruit, Fig, Green Beans, Malt, Menthol, Molasses, Olives, Prune, Savory, Smooth, Sweet, Vegetal
Sipdown! (37 | 110)
I haven’t been drinking many straight teas lately for some reason… I should really rectify that, as a yummy plain black tea is one of my favorite ways to start the day.
This one is very light but tasty. It’s sweet, bready, malty but also has an interesting cooked green bean note that I didn’t expect from a Taiwanese black tea. There are little hints of the usual honey and cinnamon, and a touch of dried apricot. A very light floral note pokes its little head out near the end of the sip.
The body is extremely light though, which honestly isn’t my favorite for this type of tea. I find with a smoother black tea like this, I always want a thicker, richer body to go along with it. Whereas with teas that are a bit more assertive or brisk, I prefer a lighter body.
Anyway, it’s yummy! Just a bit too light for me. I definitely prefer their Yuchi Wild Mountain black tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Floral, Green Beans, Honey, Malt, Molasses, Smooth, Sweet
This is my first time trying pressed tea! Thanks, Derk, for sending me something I had previously considered buying from the TTC website. If there’s a trick for breaking these things without making a mess, I don’t know what it is, but I eventually took about a gram off my big piece of this cake so it was around 6 g. After a rinse, I steeped it in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, and 60 seconds, then 1:15, 1:30, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 10 minutes.
The dry aroma is of faint berries, honey, and malt. The giant piece of cake stuck out of my teapot, so I did a 15-second rinse to try and soften it up enough to make it fit. It had faint notes of tart gooseberry, honey, and dried fruit. I could smell menthol in the teapot but couldn’t taste it. The first real steep has notes of menthol, autumn leaf pile, dried fruit, honey, and minerals, plus a long wintergreen aftertaste. This is absolutely a Red Jade tea! I get more of the tart cranberries and gooseberries in the next three steeps, along with menthol, tannins, lemon, vague florals, and increasing bitterness.
By steep five, this tea is asserting its black tea character, with the menthol predominating and malt, autumn leaf pile, cream, and hints of fruit in the background. By steep seven, I get woody and incense notes, plus sassafras, raisins, berries, and dried fruit. Near the end of the session, the menthol notes disappear, leaving malt, dried fruit, wood, minerals, autumn leaves, and lots of tannins.
I found this tea to be a fascinating expression of the Red Jade cultivar, with the typical menthol and sassafras notes but a lot more fruit than the standard black tea. Although it did get bitter at times, I think the short steeps helped tame it somewhat. (However, like my last white tea, all those short steeps made for a longer-than-usual session.) Although I’m not sure I need an entire cake, I might keep my remaining sample to see if it changes with age.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berries, Bitter, Cranberry, Cream, Dried Fruit, Floral, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Raisins, Sarsaparilla, Tannin, Tart, Wood
I added this tea to my massive TTC order because I was intrigued by the stonefruit and citrus notes they described. They also mentioned that they made Bai Hao, one of my favourite teas, from this cultivar. The first time I made this tea, I accidentally steeped it like an oolong (25/20/25/30, etc.) because it was early in the morning and my brain wasn’t fully online. This time, I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
Dry, these long, dark leaves smell like honey, raisins, apples, and peaches. The first steep reveals the typical notes of cinnamon and sassafras found in Taiwan black tea, along with raisins, honey, malt, apple, tannin, and a hint of peach. There’s a good balance of tangy peach/apricot/raisin and honey in steep two, plus that sassafras note. The third steep leans more heavily toward apricots and peaches, and the citrus makes a welcome appearance. Cream, wood, and malt become more noticeable in the next couple steeps, though the other flavours are still strong. By steep seven, the citrus and stonefruit are almost gone, leaving raisins, malt, sassafras, wood, earth, and tannins.
While it is not mind-blowing, this is a very drinkable black tea that has many of the flavours I enjoy. I’m getting a bit tired of its amorphous raisin/stonefruit/tangy profile since I’ve had a lot of teas featuring it recently, but that’s more my fault than the tea’s. I’ll have no issue finishing my remaining 15 g and recommend it for those looking for an easy-drinking experience.
Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Earth, Honey, Malt, Peach, Raisins, Sarsaparilla, Tangy, Tannin, Wood
Not usually a fan of heavily roasted teas, but they’ve occasionally surprised me and in the interest of expanding my tea horizons, I decided to pick up a sample of this tea.
It does indeed have a deep roasted flavor and aroma. You can taste the roast but it’s not smokey by any means. I get notes of firewood, pumpernickel bread, and toasted nuts. These are ancillary though and the tea is predominantly dark and toasty
This may appeal to those who like dark tea but I prefer the subtle caramel taste of lightly roasted oolongs.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Fireplace, Nuts, Roasted
2021 sipdown no. 80
I really focused on sipping this one down this week. We’ve had some major upheaval the last couple weeks and I’ve been gravitating only towards EGC and non-black teas? It’s weird, but I’m just trying to go with it.
I was hopeful for this one, but it was always just slightly too floral for me. I’m grateful that I quite enjoy the Gui Fei from CS and enjoy other teas from TTC!
2021 sipdown no. 69
This is a wee sipdown of a 25g package of this one. I have another unopened 25g package, but I’m still counting at least this package as a sipdown.
Today this has less floral overall, but a slight edge of bitterness mixed with the mineral. I’m not getting any honey today at all, sadly. Perhaps a shorter steep time or lower temperature would be beneficial here.
1st steep 4 minutes
2nd steep 5.5 minutes
Hmm, the floral here is just too much for me. It’s more in the scent than the actual flavour, and I’m sure someone else might really enjoy this. I want so much to enjoy this tea, but sadly, I really don’t. The Gui Fei from Butiki I recall enjoying. I was hoping for more honey here, but alas, I can’t seem to find it. There is the oolong mineral-ness, but it’s very faint and seems to add nicely to the tea.
I steeped this with 3g of tea for 2 minutes. I’ll resteep a couple times to see if I can find some different flavours.
On the upside, we just took vegan and gluten free mint things out of the oven to cook, and we’re watching Star Wars!
I had this one over the weekend and saved the leaves for a second steep, which was my first cup of tea this morning. Work is off to a rough start this morning, but here’s to tea making it better!
I actually preferred the second steep to the first, though the first flew by without much memory. This morning this had a very faint cardboard quality that I often get in oolongs, but not in a negative way. This was paired with a hint of sweetness, especially as it cooled.
First steep 3 minutes
Second steep 4 minutes
I also may have edited my Bird & Blend order to add more teas before it ships…:P
Used the remainder of my sample to steep up a big ol’ mug of this to sip on during an all-day virtual workshop (ughhhhh). At least the election is looking better (in my opinion), yaaaay!
What a lovely cinnamon-butter-toast tea this is. And I really like the balance in body as well, it’s heavy enough to give a nice chewiness and sense of satisfaction, but still very easy drinking with zero bitterness or astringency.
Nommy nommy toasty tea. I’m sure I won’t order from TTC again for quite a while given my current cupboard situation, but this will definitely be on the list when I do.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Honey, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Toast
Cracking open my sample of this after seeing a recommendation from Courtney. I made an order of sample sizes from TTC a while back, luckily they’re all sealed or vacuum sealed, so I’m sure they’ve held up marvelously.
Dry scent was a dried fruit explosion, some sweet and sticky but also with pops of tartness.
The steeped aroma is quite different, all cinnamon and creamed honey. Yummy. The honey and cinnamon are also present in the flavor, thank goodness. They meld perfectly with the soft bread note to make me think of thick homemade wheat bread toast slathered with creamed honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. There’s also a lovely sticky dried fruit note, so perhaps a touch of fig jam as well.
Yummy, sweet, fruity, bready, cinnamony tea. Breakfast in a mug! ;)
Starting with a conservative rating until I’ve had some more Taiwanese blacks to compare this to!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Cinnamon, Cream, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet, Thick
My sample remnant of this is actually from Lot 712, but there is no entry for that and I don’t want to make one just for my pitiful note, and I’m not going to rate this anyway. Steeped this Western-style in a big mug.
I’m going to agree with what derk said about this a few days ago, the roast is too strong and it overpowers any other flavors. I remember Gui Fei I’ve had in the past being much more complex, with honey, fruit, and floral notes. This one is mostly just the roast.
That’s not to say that it’s not pleasant to drink. It has a comforting houjicha-like flavor of autumn leaves and roasted grain. I catch a bit of clear sweetness and perhaps a suggestion of honey coming out at the end of the sip, but otherwise it’s rather one-dimensional.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grain, Honey, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet
This was the oldest tea in my stash. It’s from Sil from back in September 2017. Thanks for sharing Sil! but no commenting on how old my teas are!
This one was so good and so fruity. Unfortunately I don’t remember specifics because I had it while steepster was once again acting up. I just know it was so delicious!
Tried the last of this brewed at 1g:30mL instead of the usual 1g:20mL and at 195F to attempt to mitigate the overwhelming roast.
I did enjoy it more, even though it wasn’t as complex and had a thinner body and very mild aftertaste. It was still very nutty with supplemental notes of thin wildflower honey, vanilla, sandalwood, ginger, orange zest and orange blossom. The roasted taste was much lighter. The taste-texture devolved pretty quickly into this very particular astringency and bitterness, neither of which sits right with me.
Revoking the “Not Reccomended” status. It’s not a bad tea for the price (of the newest lot), just the nuttiness is too much for my tastes. Also, maybe I’m spoiled but I do expect more longevity before encountering the impassable astringency and bitterness.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Flowers, Ginger, Honey, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Roasted, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
And yet another tea courtesy of White Antlers. Thank you :)
The session starts with a thin, brown sugar sweetness and a hint of vanilla. Really strong roast, so much that most of the time I taste mostly roasted nuts, roasted barley and brown toast. Past that I can taste apricot, peach, orange blossom honey, and orange zest. Strong mineral taste and tingles, light apricot and orange blossom aftertaste. In subsequent infusions, the fruitiness and sweetness are overtaken by malt, wood, straw, astringency and bitterness tasting much like a washed-out black tea.
Unlike LuckyMe, I didn’t find this oolong to be easy-drinking. The roast easily dominated the session for me. The leaf seems temperamental, unforgiving. Then again, I don’t have a finessed hand. I thought with the level of roast aroma in the dry leaf that I would brew this with water off the boil; based on the unfavorable results, the next session I will try with lower temperature.
Not recommended… for now.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Fruit Tree Flowers, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nuts, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Peach, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Roasted Nuts, Straw, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
**I had mistakenly added this tasting note for the wrong tea, so I’m correcting now.
This is one of the teas from the great Steepster freeze of 2020 that I’m getting around to logging now. My memory is a little hazy because I only had a couple of sessions with it, but I remember it being a solid SLX with the usual alpine florals and tropical notes. A little lighter and lacking the full mouthfeel of previous harvests. Good for 6-7 steeps.
Flavors: Coconut, Flowers, Tropical, Vanilla
Though I don’t often opt for Jin Xuan teas, this one was recommended to me as fruity so I gave it a try. It’s from spring 2019. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of milky sweetness, grass, honeysuckle, and other flowers. The first steep has that note I interpret as cream corn, plus honeysuckle, orchid, other florals, spinach, condensed milk, and grass. The next steep introduces heady gardenia and coconut, and is great! However, this tea is almost too sweet. The next couple steeps are more balanced, with corn, coconut, cream, custard, spinach, arugula, herbs, and those heady flowers. The next two steeps are similar, though with more spinach and sweetness and sadly less coconut. The trend toward spinach, grass, and other veggies continues in the next few steeps, though the condensed milk sweetness persists.
This is a rather nice Jin Xuan whose coconut and floral notes I appreciate. The sweetness, however, is slightly overwhelming. Given its price, I’d consider buying this tea again.
Flavors: Coconut, Corn Husk, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Milk, Orchid, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
I absolutely love this tea. It’s sweet, floral, and full of incredible honey flavor. If I could only drink one straight tea for the rest of my life, this would probably be it. My brother and his friend came over for vegan Thai the other night, and I made this for them post-dinner. It was such a treat. Having it again this morning, because I couldn’t resist. It’s also extremely cost efficient, which I appreciate.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Sugar
Not as good as last winter’s harvest or the regular Wenshan oolong from this spring. This tea has sumptuous aromas of hyacinth, melon, and pear but actual flavor is somewhat lacking. It has a standard buttery, mellow TGYesqe floral flavor. Little to no depth or richness to it.
Flavors: Butter, Orchid