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Recent Tasting Notes
Side-by-side brews! Same leaf:water ratio, water temps (205 F), steep times (10 + 3 seconds), etc. First one is the 8582 803 I have from Puerh Shop (https://steepster.com/gyokurohead/posts/441904). Second tea (this one) is the 8582 801 I just got from TWL. Time for judging!
Differences are clear from the get go. Smell of the dry and wet leaves is much less potent in the 801. Liquor of the first brew is darker for the 801 as well. The 801 has a much more rounded, subtle flavor in the first brew than the 803.
Second steep is darker still for both batches, but the difference in darkness is less now. The 803 at this time has developed a bit of an “off note” compared to the still weaker 801. The 803 has a bit of bitterness at this point. Honestly, not getting much flavor from either, but the 801 is better at this time. Main note is some hay. Both showing a bit of mouthfeel that is not very different between the two.
In the third steep, colors of the liquors have evened out fairly well now. 803 still slightly bitter. 801 staying smooth. Wet leaves are noticeably darker for the 801. More hay from both and a bit of pepper from 801. Cha qi already setting in heavily.
4th steep: 801 slightly darker again. Sweetness poking it’s head through in 801. Bitterness fading in 803. Less hay now for both. Still a hint of pepper in 801.
5th steep: Liquor color unchanged. 803 still with off note, also some smoke now. In my first note on 803, it took 10 infusions to get honey and white grapes. Wondering if they’ll appear sooner in 801 if at all…
6th steep: Where’d the smoke go? 801 sweeter still with better aftertaste and bit of honey now. Hay is gone in both.
7th steep: Off note is dissipating.
8th steep: Hint of sweetness in 803 now. 801 even better now, but hard to say how.
9th steep: Off note still there in 803. No changes.
10th steep: 803 sweeter now. Off note mostly gone. Differences becoming less noticeable.
11th steep: White grapes now in 803. 801 suddenly sweeter as well, with predominant honey, hints of almond butter (think Justin’s almond butter/honey packets).
12th steep: Even more white grapes in 803. From experience, this is a greener note, so makes sense it isn’t found in 801. Out of personal preference, 803 beats out 801 in this steep.
13th steep: 801 back on top. Less white grape.
14th steep: 49 seconds each. 803 getting worse. White grape gone. 801 losing flavor, but could still go a bit further. That’s enough tea for now, though :).
Overall a fun experiment! I definitely prefer 801, although most of the difference probably lies in storage. 801 was > 10 yrs in natural Taiwan storage. 803 probably drier although not much info about storage of either. Is it worth almost twice as much ($60 for 803, $110 for 801)? No. But 801 is noticeably better for sure. Both okay to drink now, but certainly neither has peaked.
Flavors: Almond, Hay, Honey, Pepper, Smooth, Thick
Not as good as the Jiaji. A very different tea overall. Most obvious difference is the intensity is a good bit lower. This one is also sweeter but less complex.
Moderate bitterness in middle steeps. No astringency. Longevity is 10-12 infusions. Mouthfeel is like drinking petroleum jelly. A bit off-putting. Cha qi is present and very mild.
Not a bad tea by any means, but won’t be buying anymore of these.
Harvest: Sep, 2004
Storage: Malaysia 17 yrs → Taiwan 2 years
Dry leaf: Not much
Wet leaf: Smoke
Flavors: Smoke, sweet, wet wood
Flavors: Smoke, Sweet, Wet Wood
I am incredibly surprised how much I like this tea!! From my prior experience with Xiaguan, I was expecting a fairly bland, potentially bitter tea. Don’t get me wrong, the characteristic smokiness is there in boatloads. But the other negatives are nowhere in sight! Perhaps the storage is much better on this one (Malaysia for 17 years) and that has made all the difference. Seems to be just entering it’s drinking window. Hard to say if it will improve with age as there is not much to mellow out in the balance and the flavor is still strong.
I get absolutely no bitterness and mild-medium astringency. Mouthfeel is fairly thick and very oily. Aftertaste is smoked sweetness that is striving to be umami in the vein of mushrooms/steak, and lasts 1-2 minutes. Character is best described as warming. Drinking this tea feels like your insides are resting by the fireside; it would be perfect on a cold winter’s eve. Cha qi is heady, mild, starts by 3rd-4th steep. Longevity is 10-12 infusions.
This tuo (my first!) is a welcome addition to my growing collection. For the price ($0.20/g), it’s really quite good. I’ll be picking up more of these with my next TWL order. On to the Teji tuo soon…
Produced: March, 2004
Storage: Malaysia for 17 years → Taiwan for 2 years
Dry leaf: SMOKE
Wet leaf: SMOKE, barbecue sauce
Flavor: Smoke, sweet barbecue sauce, pork, meat, oily, wood, hickory, astringency.
Flavors: Astringent, Meat, Oily, Smoke, Sweet, Thick, Wheat, Wood
Brewed last 5.3g of sample in a pot today and seemed transformed. Admittedly I have been distracted by other things in the past few sessions, but there’s a fullness that wasn’t present in previous sessions. I’ve used roughly the same ratio at 5.1-5.4g w 90 mL, just in a gaiwan and never felt like it was dialed in properly. Always too hollow and light/floral, or just too bitter/sour, and I couldn’t understand the hype for it. Today’s felt more full and balanced, and the smokiness was a nice complement. I would’ve been tempted to cake with the recent discounted price, but I think it’s too late now and based on the past sessions, seems like too much of a gamble based on my preferences and brewing style.
5.2/90. wet leaf. initially fruity aroma, then smoky bbq and a darker dried fruit aroma.
1st: thick and rich. dried hawthorn candy taste and then somewhat floral and candy like in mouth. returning sort of white pear in mouth and throat.
2nd: pear, juicy sort of plummy note, and woody base. calm and warmth in shoulders and then slowing after, a la jinhao chawang, though maybe not as sedative. still wouldn’t be a good work tea.
3rd: very sweet upfront. had to cap overnight here and resume 2 days later, after which it was pausing still and very sweet overall for those steeps. Admittedly was not the best time of year to pick this to drink during a loaded finals season.
this is definitely one of the best tasting teas I’ve tried. Do I advise everyone to run and buy a cake, given the price, maybe not, but it’s very good.
5.4g, 90ml. boiling, Brita tap.
dry: damp, sweet. wet leaf: salty, grainy rice. shou-like, but maybe a woody incense note.
1st: nothing particular.
2nd: slight medicinal note. calming, cozy, almost sinking feeling. no clear notes after.
A tea that brews and brews, but was clearly not impressive for taste. no clear progression in taste, just lightening after some time, and cozy still. The first time in a while I’ve really felt caffeinated by a tea too, interestingly enough. Also, marco’s notes indicate a lot more sweetness and aftertaste than I got, but it’s probably a water thing.
5.1g, 90mL gaiwan. wet leaf: smoky, w sourness. Initially slight fruity. good texture. woody with sugary floral background initially. buzzy, pausing feel with stomach/back warmth. also slightly humid in room today. something cherry-like in taste. borderline TCM leaven taste with fine astingency in florals that works surprisingly well to its benefit. slight lethargy. past a few steeps, moved back to the mushroom in aftertaste, which I didn’t like as much. astringency not as strong today. some throatiness and dried apple in aftertaste. kill steep was woody medicinal bitter end, but had a goji berry soup smell, which I don’t think I’ve encountered before, or maybe I haven’t noticed.
I’ve heard NY is a cake that can be very inconsistent and so sessions can be a wild card. While I haven’t really gotten a sedative feeling others have noted from either two sessions (though having slept well the night before can heavily influence perception as Phyll has noted somewhere, and it’s close to finals so…), the taste has been interesting enough to keep my attention rooted during the session. Assuming the price is same as before ($168/357g), it’s definitely more interesting than any of the YQHs I own. Will need to pick up a cake or two once TWL restocks.
5.7g, 100 mL roc zini. still quite bitter and sometimes astringent, even given that I am extremely congested today. quite warming, and I was sweating, but it was also very humid in my room. bright floral and evolving into mushroom aftertaste initially. End steeps had some jujube in the taste. leftover in a glass overnight was fruity and had a haw flake candy sort of taste that felt familiar but I couldn’t place fully
edit: on further reflection, the mold may have just been tea dust. Oh well. Doesn’t hurt to be safe.
Thanks Kar for the sample!
I drank part of the sample some time ago grandpa’d in a mug and I don’t remember much other than that it was okay. I’m pretty sure I didn’t rinse, and it looked fine. Tasted like aged sheng mushroominess, nothing special.
I’ve kept the rest of the sample with a Boveda pack in a Mylar with some other to-drink-soon samples and so you can imagine my horror upon taking the rest of it out to brew and seeing small yellow mold spores. Did I do the smart thing and toss it? No, I just gave it two 20s rinses instead of one and hoped for the best.
I didn’t take notes for it, but it was a bit over 8g in a 90mL gaiwan, steeped like I usually do. Smell had sour, leather, and mushroom-y aged sheng notes. Broadly, tastes were pretty strongly bitter (not LME level, but still bitter) and mushroom-y, sometimes sour and lingered for a while in mouth and sometimes throat, which I know is a good marker of quality, but in terms of personal preference for what constitutes pleasantness/enjoyment is a different story. Sometimes cooling on tongue. Some shifting woody herbaceous notes along with hints of dark fruitiness and smoke. I didn’t particularly like this and would not purchase a cake, but it was interesting to try.
Right off the bat this is one of the thickest blacks I have had. The nose is floral but the taste is much more fruity and creamy, with undertones of cinnamon and sea salt, and a bit of Ruby 18-style mintiness. There’s some noticeable astringency, and the finish is long and dry. The flavor dies off earlier that I would have hoped, but the texture remains strong. At 50 cents a gram I can’t quite say it’s worth the money, but it’s at least quite a nice tea.
Flavors: Astringent, Cinnamon, Floral, Mint, Salty