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Recent Tasting Notes
Another sample courtesy of derk.
My session was kind of rushed so I didn’t take the best notes. The enormous green leaves had a faint floral aroma which turned cucumber-like and fruity after a rinse. Took quite a few steeps for the flavor to develop. Mellow with gentle florals, a pear like fruitiness, and a candied sweetness once it cools. Being a year old, some of its oomph is understandably lost but it still gives a nice glimpse of its past glory.
Cold brewing brings out a much livelier flavor. Clean, fruity, and refreshing with a green grape crispness and lingering floral aftertaste.
Flavors: Cucumber, Floral, Fruity, Grapes
1 packet brewed in a large glass teapot.
Copied directly from the description because it’s spot on:
“Eight Treasures Herbal Tea (Ba Bao Cha) is a clean and balanced non-caffeinated herbal blend featuring freshly sourced longan fruit, tangerine peel, snow chrysanthemum, Chinese licorice, bamboo leaves, jujube (red date), goji berries, ginseng, and hawthorn berries. The taste is refreshing and gently invigorating, with an herbal/firewood initial aroma quickly followed by a naturally sweet and citrus liquor.”
The mix of ingredients looks balanced is a pleasure to see in the glass pot. It tastes clean, fresh, gentle and just sweet enough; feels supportive and healthy. The brew is rather body warming but cooling to the lungs. Would gladly keep this in my cupboard.
Another trip to Upper Assam courtesy of derk.
This is a very non-traditional Assam. Nothing builder-y about it. Straight off the steep, I was picking up a little mineral-water tang (which always makes me wonder if the tumbler wasn’t washed properly—around our house, you never know), but after it cooled a bit, there was definitely a little peachy flavor tap-dancing in the background.
Enjoy this in a proper teacup, not a beat-up and questionably handled work tumbler ;)
Long-standing tea prejudices are hard to grow out of…like associating “Orange Pekoe” with Lipton restaurant grade floor sweepings. However, you put a “tippy” in front of that and things start to get interesting, and with a “hand-rolled” in front of that, we’re talking downright elegance. No cheap fannings here—the leaves were rangy and long as half my pinky. With a conventional southern Missouri farmhouse steep, these leaves yield a smooth, fruity cuppa with no sharp acidic edges.
The Steeping Room’s advert mentions maple and citrus…it was a little more plummy to me. It resteeped well a second time.
Thanks to derk for this little excursion to Sri Lanka!
Hot water from the 5-gallon dispenser at work left to cool in a mason jar. A small cupped palm of leaves floated on top. Slurp and refill.
Better (not nearly as mouth-parchingly dry) as last time because of cooler temperature water? Filtered water? Or perhaps because I was pre-occupied?
Wrote some tasting notes in my work notebook and took a picture with my brain. Trying my best to recollect:
Spicy-dry, sweet-cool, gentle prickly tannins
Marigold, dry leaves, green chile, peanut, hot hay, leather, agarwood
Yellow plum, muscatel, nectar, brown sugar
Hot baguette, cocoa, violet, vanilla, thinned sweet cream, marzipan
Feeling: hot and hilly pastures, sun-dried spicy earth, sun-ripened fruit, cool stream, sweet cocoa
Flavors: Bread, Brown Sugar, Chili, Cocoa, Cream, Dry Leaves, Drying, Eucalyptus, Flowers, Hot Hay, Incense, Leather, Lemon, Marzipan, Muscatel, Nectar, Peanut, Plum, Spicy, Spring Water, Sweet, Tannin, Vanilla, Violet, Wood
So happy to have found a stateside supplier of Jun Chiyabiri Nepali teas! What-Cha, located in England, also carries this garden’s teas from time to time.
This first cup came out rather astringent and drying but tastewise, it’s everything I love about Nepali teas. So aromatic with a certain delicacy, truly engaging and complex if one want’s to explore. I’d say one has to be confident in their brewing or at least willing to be patient to figure it out. In that way, Jun Chiyabari’s teas aren’t necessarily daily drinkers.
I’ll come back with a more comprehensive note once I dial in the brewing – thinking of going down to 185F next time. Just throwing some associations below for now because I’m getting a ton! Nepali teas are truly something special to me, so much like Darjeeling teas but uniquely their own.
Feeling: dry heat, cool sweet
Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Baby Powder, Bread, Caramel, Cedar, Chili, Chocolate, Cream, Drying, Earth, Floral, Geranium, Graham Cracker, Hay, Lemon, Lime, Marzipan, Mineral, Muscatel, Musk, Nectar, Orange Blossom, Peanut, Pear, Peppermint, Pine, Plum, Rose, Spicy, Straw, Sweet, Tannin, Vanilla, Violet, White Pepper, Woody
Your beautiful descriptors make me feel ashamed of my frustration with Indian and Nepali teas… but also provide some encouragement to keep exploring. :)
The leaf transforms the frantic energy of boiling water into the slow and deliberate process of a lily in bloom. Subtle and soft, absolutely stunning! Perfect bowl tea with long steeps, many refills. The deeper notes come out much later. Curious how a gongfu session presents.
A repurchase for sure. I remember having a Yu Shan oolong from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company early in my journey. This one lives up to the memory. Some of it will be coming your way, Leafhopper :)
Feeling: contemplative, soft and soothing, yin
Flavors: Butter, Caramelized Sugar, Coconut, Cream, Egg, Floral, Ginger, Grass Seed, Honeydew, Kabocha, Lily, Lime, Mint, Nutmeg, Pine, Smooth, Soft, Spinach, Spring Water, Sugar, Sweet, Vanilla
3.6g, 90 mL gaiwan, brita tap. Similar notes as before, but more pleasant. Light cocoa and sugar in the taste. Something borderline grassy medicinal in the wet leaf, almost vetiver-like that perfumes can have, but not as sharp. Not standout, but perfectly acceptable. Will probably stick with this 1:25 ratio going forward for these light roast oolongs.
4.2g, 90 mL, boiling Brita tap. much more approachable at this ratio. smells nice. tastes like tomato and mint. aftertaste can be floral tinged mint. Moves to the base soapy notes quickly. First cup cooled at the edge has a slight bitter medicinal hint, and chocolate then minty. During session, the taste is not very exciting and while not terrible or bad necessarily, it is also not particularly special or noteworthy in any way. the aroma of the soup is enjoyable, though that is not something I value over taste. It is also not something I tend to pay particular attention to, so hard for me to judge. I will try to stop comparing price points and instead simplify my judgements to a “would I repurchase at current price?” No.
Very forgettable, but will need to redo with lower ratio instead of 4.5/60. Bad oolong habit of filling gaiwan that simply doesn’t work for these light roast greener oolongs. The greenness and roast tends to coalesce in the worst ways. Seems from the description on the dancong that SR is dropshipping Wuyi Origin teas, so this is probably the same, so if anyone has better ratio/temp. suggestions from those, do share
4.65/90. 212 with PS origin water and was surprisingly quite decent? Very fragrant. Not something I’d really reach for often, but infinitely more palatable than with my usual water. Maybe due to low TDS of PSO. too bad it’s so darn expensive and somewhat morally problematic to give more money to nestle/blue triton.
5.1g, in Kamjove with water poured about 3/4 of the way. palatable, but in a peachy and watery way initially, and then devolves into the boiled minty taste with some charred note immediately thereafter in subsequent steeps. Sometimes drying in throat. Will finish this bag out of spite. Annoyed that it’s not even cheap relative to shous I actually enjoy for how unimpressive it is!!
4.5g, boiling, Brita tap in YS 60 mL gaiwan. One rinse. First steep was a watery floral, followed by just astringent minty tastes (not bitter, just a bit dry unless really pushed like one steep where I forgot about it for several minutes) with some barely there peachy and floral notes, so I moved it to a 90 mL gaiwan in hopes that it would improve. My hopes were dashed. Maybe I’ll cold brew the rest, but it feels wrong to do so.
forgot to add this before.
1g:50mL boiling water, overnight, test for water between Brita filtered and Poland Spring bottled water since I was humbled by the TS oolong experience with different water.
An imperfect comparison bc I forgot about seasonal differences…. That or this newly installed Brita filter unit is messed up because I’m certain when I swapped in the earlier one in the summer that it was reading in the 36-40 PPM range. I also forgot that I could’ve filtered an extra 2 times to get where I wanted, but oh well. TDS readings were taken in a separate cup just prior to boiling.
- PS water: dark, mostly roast. some harsh aspect. Aftertaste is initially floral, then vegetal, then a dominant crushed mint. All in front of tongue. Had bland thermos shou in btwn to “reset” palate.
- 96 TDS Brita filtered tap: less harsh upfront, brighter. Notably stronger floral aspect. Aftertaste more vegetal, then shifts to crushed sugar. more active in the mouth, perhaps less concentrated working to its advantage here.
- 73 TDS new filter: similar to the other. Strong osmanthus. Not as much sugar in aftertaste, but still pleasant. More of general sweetness + vegetal leaning.
Well that was also the last of my Old Bush Shui Xian from the Steeping Room. Pretty fair value I’d say. Having tried this and TShop’s LCSX (which tbf is like 5x the per gram price of this), this is the obvious loser, so take “Old Bush” whatever with a grain of salt, but it’s not a bad tea. Can’t compare to the SXs I tried from TXS now that I know using PS water was flawed but excited to try out the remaining ones I have from OWT and EoT in the next few weekends. I don’t think I’ll buy more of this, as I generally find puer better bang-for-buck wise, and also more or less more forgiving of casual brewing.
Had a last session with this. 4.4g, 60mL YS gaiwan. Serviceable, but extremely unlikely to repurchase. Not sure if I’d just want a stronger roast version, since this session had some harsher vegetal edge than usual. Leaves were fairly green, but I’m not sure if I’m just getting used to seeing heavier roasted material lately.
4.1g, 90 mL gaiwan, 212f, Brita filtered tap.
Mainly light honeyed florals. Had an excellent 1st steep (complexity, but layered in a nice way, with fruit, some sour, chocolate) that was amazing and yet tapered off into a steady and unexciting profile the rest of the steeps. Not sure how many steeps or timing, but mainly shorter steeps. I never particularly enjoy steeping out yancha like I do for sheng.
I tried a 1:22 ratio only at the suggestion of a YT video I saw on yancha, and I’d bet the friend I drank with would’ve liked this more, though I found it lacking. I am used to a 1:12 ratio for yancha at this point. A weaker ratio renders the profile quite differently, coming across as floral, soapy, and honeyed in a steady fashion that your average drinker who prefers yancha might find unexciting and a waste vs. w/ a stronger high ratio that would make for a bolder brew. However, for those not as into it, this is probably more welcoming and likeable.
7.9g in same 100 mL duanni, since I didn’t feel like gaiwan brewing. No specific notes since was drinking with a friend, but basically the same thing to me as the 2019 Lotus Peak Zheng Yan Shui Xian from Tong Xin She, since from notes on that and compared to memory, it all tracks pretty well. This seemed a little sweeter to me, less bitter, slightly drying. Caused by a slightly higher ratio? 7.9g vs. 6.2g in the same pot. Who knows.
At any rate, for roughly 82% of the cost, the two seemed about the same to me, pretty classic Shui Xian, nothing earth shattering.
strong osmanthus, sweet potato aromatics in both dry leaf and tea.
1g in 8 oz. mug, boiling, Brita tap, grandpa. All I do is complain about my hate for hongcha here, but I was suckered by the name as Tong Mu village teas have been more renowned as of late and I’ve been curious as to why. I ordered a pack with my last order from SR. Anyway, I’m more than happy to be proven wrong. I’m taking a break from sheng for a bit, more so out of necessity than desire. My stomach hasn’t been able to handle it lately, even mid-aged, and I’m terrified after reading posts from old puer bloggers who had to take years-long breaks (Hster specifically, I think?) due to drinking too much young tea.
There’s a light floral vegetal aftertaste and lingering floral honeyed aspect in aftertaste in early steeps; nothing overbearing. In the thermos after tasted like the dining hall’s sweet potato and squash mix, which is not a criticism, just an observation. A gentle tea and probably on the pricier side for a hongcha, again probably bearing name in mind. I’m not sure I could distinguish it from other hongcha taste-wise. Not bad, just won’t be something I reach for.
On the notes of peach and citrus in the description, I can sort of understand why. But after the time I tried the osmanthus black from ORT, the osmanthus note really stuck and it’s hard to perceive it as anything else if encountered afterwards. Some oolongs have a floral note bordering on it, but what distinguishes it for me vs. more sweet potato-like note is a soapy floral aspect I find unique to it. And again, that could just be still osmanthus, but lighter. I’m not sure. I don’t love it, but it’s interesting. I would not buy any perfumes with osmanthus notes.
I bought a Kamjove! I’ve downgraded in terms of setup I suppose, but I’ve come to terms that tea will remain near incompatible with working life without something like it, and it makes me sad to only get to have tea on the weekends. Also, using the thermos for everything was getting old. Anyway, the KamJove is pretty great. Some water gets trapped in the bottom sometimes, but whatever.
5.1g, K201 (about 175mL functional volume w/o leaf). Lower temps. today ranging from 190f-200f. No green tea taste but basically akin to the bottled fruity “teas” (the Brisks and Snapples) I was obsessed with as a kid. I still won’t buy more, but good hit of nostalgia and much more enjoyable than at the boiling temps. before.
boiling, Brita filtered tap, 3.1g in 80 mL shibo, 20s steeps, 1,2, 3 (10s), 4 (10s), 5th (10s), 6,7,8, 9 – 16 (untimed)
initially, strong medicinal aspect underneath the hongcha malt. Nice floral sweet aftertaste.
some steeps have a sharp bitterness that is quick, but unpleasant. Another steep is soapy.
9 and 10 taste like soapy sugar water but in a pleasant way
11 brings back the sharpness. I don’t know what it is exactly but not pleasant
12 is back to sugar water.
13-15: all the same at this point. it’s like when you keep steeping green tea and it just tastes like vegetable water, except this is a tad sweet
16 was a bit drying. Finally done.
Maybe I’ll actually take the temperature down a notch next time, since I didn’t appear to listen to my own advice to brew with a lighter hand last time I took notes on this. This was okay, but certainly isn’t winning any competitions any time soon. I don’t know how people brew hwang cha, so maybe I’m evaluating it unfairly, I don’t know.
Brita filtered tap both.
SR directions were to 200-205f for 2-4 min. No tea:water ratio was given though, so I just did 1.3g to 120 mL, 200f. Taste was, broadly, slightly smoky honeyed hongcha profile, though slightly lighter. Steeps of 2 min., 3 min., and 4 min. before I got bored. Aftertaste is sweet and sugary, with slight floral aspect, not really grainy per description though.
4 min: died down into something like a light shou-mei and reminiscent of chrysanthemum tisane. I didn’t really get the nuttiness and creaminess in the description either. Left tongue slightly dry on 3 min. steep.
Did a different steep too, with 2g:50mL with 180f.
10s: light green tea-like taste, very soft with slight malty floral, sweet aftertaste. 15s: more of a malty taste, though still decidedly soft. some raisin in taste. Crisply sweet aftertaste, same with slightly tongue drying as in the more lazy brew style before.
20s, 25s, 30s: pretty similar. light floral and honeyed malt taste. Not much in the way of change. Shorter steep times and lower temp. seems to bring out a lighter green tea-like profile. Could’ve continued but was bored and tossed in with the other leaves into thermos. Thermos brew yielded a nice brew reminding me of coffee in some ways. I guess I do understand the nutty and creamy note here, though there is a slightly sharp, but quick disappearing bitterness present that is enough that I’d recommend initially brewing with a lighter hand and watching temps. here.
It seems like Korean Hwang-cha is one of those difficult to pin down teas, and though called yellow tea, very different from Chinese yellow teas. Dry leaf definitely smells like a hongcha, with its alternating notes of raisin, chocolate, slight roast, and floral. The wet leaf shows a slight roast presence, and the raisin-like note along with the usual malty hongcha-reminiscent base.
I have a pretty strong aversion to hongcha generally, but I will say that of this being the second Korean hwang-cha I’ve tried, these are somewhat more palatable to me though I wouldn’t repurchase once I finish my packet. Not terrible for the price. I don’t purchase much hongcha (the description really suckered me for this one, alas), so I have no idea what’s good value or not. I’d guess it might be on the more expensive end for them at about $0.43/g, but Korean teas seem more expensive than Chinese in general.