Yunnan Sourcing

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Recent Tasting Notes

87

First session with this tea is a familiar one. I have loved several iterations of the loose version so I decided to get a cake for easier storage.

Being already more than a year old, I would say that the bitterness is quite a bit weaker than what I would expect from its fresh state. The taste juicy and grassy initially and then sweeter and fruitier in later steeps. Aftertaste, on the other hand, is savoury and spicy/warming. Notes like parsnip, eucalyptus, garlic scapes, and sourdough bread remind me of previous sessions with these teas. Additionally, I found some new aromas of rum and candy floss in the dry and wet leaves respectively.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter, Cotton Candy, Eucalyptus, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Mineral, Parsley, Rum, Spicy, Sweet, Tart

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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83

I snagged 25g of the autumn 2021 version of this tea, and am writing from November 2021. The leaves are a dark and vibrant green, more vibrant even than a Taiwan high mountain oolong; they’re not the biggest, and are a bit roughly cut, but they expand substantially, and 5g quickly filled my 150mL gaiwan to the brim. This tea has a full body and pleasant fruit sourness- green apple or grape. I’d highly recommend it if you can get it fresh, but it seems like something that would suffer from age.

Flavors: Grapes, Green Apple, Sour

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50

Once broken apart, the brick had quite a few fine grains of tea which ended up in the cup. It was difficult to find the sweet spot between being too weak and too bitter and I preferred the latter because I could taste the tea. It had a dryer, vegetal, malty hay taste.

Flavors: Hay, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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78

Absurdity day Sipdown. It’s an oolong with a strange name.
This was in a tea mail from Shae, thanks! Brewed this western style, the whole sample in half a pot. The first steep is roasty hay up front with a lingering fruity melon sweetness underneath. Its quite nice, and I had forgotten how lovely a Dan Cong can be. Second steep is a bit weaker, but becomes more floral as it sits and cools. I’m not sure I need this in my cupboard, but I’d be tempted to add it to an order.

Flavors: Floral, Hay, Honeydew, Toasted

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92

A tea I have received from derk, thank you!

Decided for gongfu, as again, I haven’t done it for long; and I had mood for that today. And what to brew? Why not something absolutely new in my stash?

When I took the sniff from the pouch, I thought it is some kind of lapsang, as it is smoked tea. And then some mushroomy aroma appeared. It is pu-erh? As it is quite cold today here; I decided to go through and preapare it. I saw lots of small branches and and it freaked me a little. I thought it will be boring; or not so great at all.

Boy, I was wrong!

I preheated the gaiwan and added dry tea in. That release of the aromas brought me again to the birch covered sauna 5 years back in Finland. It was so cozy aroma. So mellow and a bit of agressive too. A little of meaty note, but that was okay!

I did 10 second steep. Too short? Maybe! But hey… it is already full of flavour. And it is so mellow-creamy, but on the other hand it is woody and lightly smoky. Sweet aftertaste and mouth coating qualities. I wish my tea stays longer warm; I use too big bowl for it. Nevertheless, it is tasty even lukewarm.

Second steep, 15 seconds long, reminds me even more that sauna experience. But instead using my noste, I am using my mouth for feeling it. It is woody, but creamy in same time, again mouthcoating and some light and refreshing note there. The smokiness is low, but decent in the flavour profile. Derk said it is comforting and I have to agree. Of course, I have opened map of Japan to see where my shipment is heading and how far it is from the Japanese plant, but I am rather checking the tea plantations nearby. It is in the Shiga prefecture and not even Yunomi is helping much with teas from this place.

It’s a bit drying, but so highly drinkable. You never feel complete dryness in the mouth, because, as I have wrote, it is mouth coating and creamy.

It doesn’t hold for long. I felt in fourth steep it loses its power, and goes more into fruity notes. It is not a flaw though. Maybe my steeps were just too short. I feel it is redfruits. Not present too much, but they are there? Not stonefruit in my opinon.

Unique.

Flavors: Creamy, Red Fruits, Smoked, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

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97

This was another of my sipdowns from early in the current year. I wasn’t really sure what to expect of this tea when I set out to work my way through what I had of it. I was not all that familiar with Xiong Di Zai (I’m still not), and I had been a bit perplexed by the spring 2017 version of this offering when I tried it around two years prior. I was expecting a challenging, complex tea that offered hit or miss drinking experiences, but I didn’t get that. I found this to be a very pleasant, soothing tea, one that was far smoother and more approachable than anticipated.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 presented aromas of roasted almond, plum, pomegranate, vanilla, and nutmeg that were underscored by a much fainter baked bread scent. After the rinse, I discovered new aromas of grass, cannabis, candied orange, and orchid. The first infusion then introduced aromas of violet, wood, and sugarcane. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of grass, cream, roasted almond, orchid, candied orange, pomegranate, violet, and wood that were chased by hints of sugarcane, cherry, baked bread, vanilla, nutmeg, butter, peach, plum, and cannabis. The majority of the subsequent infusions gradually added aromas of peach, nectarine, butter, steamed milk, butterscotch, pear, coriander, white grape, and lemon zest. Stronger and more immediately apparent notes of butter, cherry, sugarcane, and peach came out in the mouth alongside mineral, orange zest, pear, earth, steamed milk, white grape, coriander, lemon zest, and green apple impressions. I also found hints of cinnamon, nectarine, spinach, and butterscotch. As the tea faded, the liquor continued emphasizing notes of minerals, grass, wood, cream, steamed milk, lemon zest, roasted almond, green apple, pear, and white grape that were deftly balanced by lingering hints of coriander, orange zest, peach, baked bread, spinach, cherry, sugarcane, butterscotch, and vanilla.

This tea should not have worked in theory. It produced a tea liquor that was very buttery, creamy, and milky but also full of tart, acidic fruit notes and pronounced earthy, woody, and vegetal qualities. Somehow everything worked well together and never clashed. That was a marvel considering that the tea’s sweet floral qualities faded quickly. I was expecting this to be one of those teas that wowed me with how well it integrated seemingly sharply contrasting elements before steadily coming unglued, but that never happened. Even as the middle infusions added what should have been increasingly incompatible aroma and flavor components, the tea remained pleasant and balanced. Also, while many Dancongs can turn sharp, slick, and soapy, this one remained smooth, thick, and creamy throughout my time with it. Overall, this was a truly impressive tea. I wish I had gotten around to trying it sooner.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Butterscotch, Candy, Cannabis, Cherry, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cream, Earth, Grass, Green Apple, Lemon Zest, Milk, Mineral, Nectarine, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Plum, Pomegranate, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet, White Grapes, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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77

Time to shake off the weekend laziness and get a few more reviews posted from my backlog. This was the last review I logged in my 2020-2021 notebook. I’m almost finished with that one. Then I only have three more notebooks to get through plus the one I’m steadily filling now. My plan is to hit this one hard and finish it and the 2018 notebook up before the end of the month. We’ll see how that goes. Anyway, this was one of my sipdowns from early in the year. I basically found it to be a gentle, unfussy black tea. It was nice, but it wasn’t exactly a favorite.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 minutes 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of baked bread, earth, smoke, malt, raisin, and dark chocolate. After the rinse, fresh aromas of sugarcane, roasted almond, butter, and roasted peanut emerged. The first infusion introduced a definite brown sugar aroma that was underscored by subtler scents of pine, eucalyptus, and orange zest. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up smooth notes of cream, baked bread, malt, butter, cooked green beans, roasted almond, and dark chocolate that were chased by hints of raisin, earth, roasted peanut, smoke, and sugarcane. The majority of the subsequent infusions brought out aromas of black pepper, cream, vanilla, roasted walnut, and sweet potato. Stronger and more immediately apparent notes of earth, roasted peanut, raisin, and sugarcane appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of orange zest, minerals, brown sugar, roasted walnut, roasted chestnut, grass, and sweet potato. I also noted hints of vanilla, pine, eucalyptus, black pepper, leather, plum, red apple, and marshmallow. As the tea faded, the liquor continued emphasizing impressions of minerals, cream, butter, roasted almond, roasted walnut, baked bread, brown sugar, and orange zest that were backed up by a mellow melange of grass, sweet potato, vanilla, raisin, cooked green bean, earth, roasted chestnut, and sugarcane hints.

This tea displayed a lot of depth and complexity, and it was very smooth and pleasant in the mouth. At the same time, it was not tremendously captivating due to something of a lack of liveliness and a lack of one or more standout components. While there was nothing wrong with it, there was not anything about this tea that was truly memorable in its own right. I came away wanting to like it more than I did. In some ways, this tea was similar to the Man Gang Village and Yi Wu Mountain black teas that were also offered by Yunnan Sourcing, but I thought it was a little better and more consistent overall.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Chestnut, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Eucalyptus, Grass, Green Beans, Leather, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Red Apple, Smoke, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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86

Happy Hug a Musican Day! Today the prompt is to do a tea/musician pairing.

I know it’s crazy, but I actually don’t listen to music often. Not that I don’t like it, but when you’ve had constant migraine headaches for around two decades, you kind of adapt to having quiet spaces. I’m coming off a COVID-booster triggered migraine that just lasted me two days, so I’m not particularly in the mood to put on any music right now, either.

But I am a fan of Symphonic Metal, and picked this tea because I felt the robust Yunnan black and the sweet and delicate floral rose sort of represents that juxtaposition of the metal instruments and the classical instruments coming together. Even the rose itself has a sort of duality to its imagery of being beautiful, but also covered in thorns. It just seemed right for a musical genre that is a mashup of older and newer musical styles. (My favorite group? Within Temptation, but I’m a fan of Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, and many, many others!)

This dragon ball was a (now very long-ago) gift from Derk; thank you Derk! I steeped the whole dragon ball in 500ml 205F water, let it steep for 3-4 minutes (using a chopstick to help separate up the ball about halfway through), and then strained into the cute little black cat teapot my mother gave me as a housewarming gift.

The steeped tea smells glorious, of honeyed cream and roses. On the sip, I’m getting warm cinnamon bread slathered in honey, and a strong, sweet floral rose that is lacking both the “peppery” note I often get from rose and also any “perfumy” qualities. The tea is silky smooth, but a touch drying after the sip. Some sips I get just the slightest hint of a citrusy note, which is equally smooth and pleasant with the other flavors, and a non-descript fruitiness left on my tongue after the sip, which I can only describe as “sort of grape, sort of cherry, not really either.”

I haven’t had a rose black tea in a while as I continue to make strides on my “all-sipdowns-no-new-orders” mandate, and am finding that sweet floral/Chinese black combo is something that I’ve missed dearly, and is really hitting the spot!

Thanks again, Derk!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Cinnamon, Citrus, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Honey, Rose, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 g 17 OZ / 500 ML
derk

You’re very welcome.

Evol Ving Ness

Haha, all sipdowns, no new orders. sad laugh

AJRimmer

I also almost never listen to music. If I’m going to listen to something, I have too many podcasts I’m behind on to have time for music.

CrowKettle

I wanted to find a tea that I could dedicate to a metal band today but apparently I drank those up last month – nothing good like a “rose mountain dragon ball” tea (that is so perfect) XD

tea-sipper

I listen to too much music to have time for podcasts, AJRimmer. :D

Mastress Alita

I tend to put on YouTube videos that are easy to just “listen” to where I don’t have to actively pay attention to the “video” in them, and then color or knit at the same time, heh.

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94

I have a little bit of a lull in the evening and didn’t get as much posted as I wanted when I was on here earlier in the afternoon, so I’m going ahead and posting another review now. Like the four teas I reviewed earlier, this was another of my 2020 sipdowns, but it was from the summer rather than late winter or early spring. I had never tried a Hou Zhong Dancong prior to trying this one, but I found this to be a greatly enjoyable tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 cream, custard, orange blossom, gardenia, orchid, cherry, and nectarine that were underscored by a faint scent of jasmine. Fresh aromas of roasted almond, grass, spinach, and apple blossom appeared after the rinse and were underscored by a subtle cannabis scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of pear, vanilla, longan, and rose. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, butter, roasted almond, grass, orchid, orange blossom, pear, apple, and sugarcane that were chased by hints of jasmine, cherry, spinach, longan, nectarine, cucumber, lychee, plum, and rose. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of cucumber, candied pomelo, and fresh apple to the tea’s already impressive bouquet. Stronger and more immediately apparent flavors of cucumber, cherry, spinach, plum, longan, and rose emerged in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, custard, lettuce, coriander, orange zest, and candied pomelo. Hints of vanilla, cannabis, and gardenia were present as well. As the tea faded, the liquor continued emphasizing notes of minerals, roasted almond, grass, butter, cream, orange blossom, sugarcane, pear, apple, rose, and orchid that were backed by a swell of more delicate orange zest, lychee, plum, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, and longan impressions.

This was a very smooth, creamy Dancong oolong that offered tremendous depth and complexity on the nose and in the mouth. I found very little to fault with it. It didn’t turn as astringent, bitter, and/or soapy as many Dancong oolongs seem to do, and it retained its wonderful aroma and flavor profiles throughout my review session. A fantastic tea overall!

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Butter, Candy, Cannabis, Cherry, Citrus, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Fruity, Gardenias, Grass, Jasmine, Lettuce, Lychee, Mineral, Nectarine, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Pear, Plum, Rose, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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81

I did not want to create another sparsely reviewed harvest entry, but for those who are interested it was the 2020 harvest.

Camellia Taliensis is not tea, but it is closely related to the all-to-familiar Camellia Sinensis. It grows in Yunnan and its leaves are still collected and processed to produce tea.

It is a very niche type of “tea” and the reason for it became clear as I was drinking it. The strongest point of Jinggu Camellia Taliensis is that when brewed it smells heavenly of rose and other flowers. The aroma is intense and builds the anticipation that never delivers: the dark tea soup tastes of vague, undifferentiated floral sweetness. It sorely lacks any harder backbone of malt, tannins or anything else. Very, very muted and underwhelming. I actually have trouble finishing my 50g bag as I never in the mood for what this tea delivers.

I still scored this tea in the 80s, but this is purely for its aroma.

ashmanra

Very interesting! Sorry it didn’t deliver for you.

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90

Fancy Grade Yunnan Yellow (Certified organic yellow tea) – Yunnan Sourcing
2020 Spring, 6.03g / 150ml gaiwan
10s rinse, 10s +5s for each consecutive infusion. 175°F

TLDR: Excellent tea. Anyone who enjoys white and green tea should try this. It’s glorious iced and serves as an excellent palate cleanser and food pairing for most dishes. I recommend brewing a large batch of iced tea to drink over the course of several days. Take it everywhere and drink it with everything. It creates an interesting experience that benefits most dishes and cuisines.

Dry tea:
The leaves are beautifully coiled and completely intact. There is no tea dust or broken leaves.
They smell sweet, delicate, almost like dried flowers and undergrowth. It’s creamy like oat milk with notes of cut hay. It strongly reminds me of dried honeysuckle. It smells a tad like nutmeg with a strong prune smell. The prune notes remind me of this delicious golden monkey I once tried from tealyra. I’ll review that one in the future.

Wet tea:
It took several steepings for the tea to uncoil completely.
It smelled of candied fruit and prunes. It smelled like the light undergrowth of a forest floor. The buds we’re almost tangy, with notes of wet hay and maple water.

The first few infusions were sweet with notes of prunes, dates, dried honeysuckle, and wet hay. They were creamy with a soft yet lightly astringent mouthfeel. There was no bitterness. It got more buttery each time.

From the third to fifth infusion, it became less complex and developed a slight bite. It stayed sweet with a nice candied fruit taste. It completely lost complexity at the fifth infusion.

So it peaked at 2-3 and fully degraded at 5.

I really enjoyed it and will be keeping some around from now on. If you like naturally sweet teas, I’d pick this up. Yellow tea is a remarkable tea and everyone should try it.

ICED TEA:
2 1L infusions, 175°F, 3 and then 4 minutes (5g per 1L). Infusions were mixed together into 1 pitcher.

Appearance: brownish amber, clear
Smell: kind of sweet, light floral and vague fruitiness
Taste: Sweet, light indistinct dried fruit notes, vaguely floral like fresh flowers, crisp and refreshing mouthfeel

It has a delightful light floral pungency. It’s a beautiful and delicious iced tea that needs no additions. I’ve been drinking it for days and it goes well with various foods. It tastes a little awkward with brightly sweet apple, but does well with more savory dishes.

FOOD PAIRING: Iced yellow tea with Teriyaki beef bowl, Tonkotsu Ramen, mochi

I got some takeout from Wasabi Sushi PDX yesterday and paired it with a batch of the YS yellow I brewed a day beforehand.

The mild sweetness of the iced yellow tea does not overwhelm the creamy savory nature of the ramen. It’s quite refreshing after the ramen and serves as a palate cleanser so you can relive the flavors of the foods every time after you drink the tea. The cooling and refreshing qualities as an unsweetened iced tea gives the preferred hydration in between heavy foods.

I’ve noticed through the last few days that the yellow tea compliments and contrasts most foods. It’s mild sweetness and savory notes pair with a surprising amount of foods of various cuisines. It’s also delightful when out and about in place of water.

When consumed with mochi ice cream/sweets, it adds a lightly savory nature to the experience with a slightly contrasting tone which accents the sweetness of the ice cream. The natural sweetness of the tea blends with the sweetness of the ice cream and serves as a structure. It does not overwhelm, it simply adds some nice tones to the otherwise simple experience.

By drinking yellow tea in place of water or soda you are adding complexity to the experience that accents the best qualities of the food. It just is and coexists peacefully with the foods around it.

These are some of the reasons yellow tea is my favorite tea.

P.S. Wasabi Sushi’s N Failing location has fantastic, modern, and affordable food. I pick up food from them often.

Food pairing: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUWOoR-FCOK/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Flavors: Creamy, Dates, Dried Fruit, Flowers, Fruity, Hay, Honeysuckle, Maple, Oats, Prune

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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40

Feng Qing #17 Pure Bud Golden Needle Black Tea -Yunnan Sourcing, Spring 2021
4.96g, 150ml ceramic gaiwan

Dry tea
Appearance:
Fully gold with some dark brown accents interspersed
Mostly full intact buds, very fuzzy leaves
It’s one of the prettiest black teas I’ve seen.
Smell: Deeply fruity, prunes, figs, candied stone fruits, sweet

Wet tea
Appearance:
Dark khaki brown with dark brown accents
Intact fuzzy golden buds
Smell: Almost musky, Figs, Prunes, sweet, light animal notes, brown sugar, creamy

Infusion 1: 212°F, 150ml, 10s
Appearance: golden amber, rich, bright, clear, almost jewel tones
Smell: light animal notes, light prunes, sweet
Taste:
Prune retronasal action. Creamy taste, crisp mouthfeel, candied fruit, a little musky on the finish/back end. Almost savory, sweet, no bitterness

Really nice, pleasant. I like this a lot. It’s fruity and crisp. Pleasant drying astringency.

Infusion 2: 212°F 15s 150ml
Appearance: bright vivid amber, clear
Smell: deeply fruity, candied stone fruits. Fruitier than the first infusion. Light muskiness, sweet. Dates? Prunes? Not quite prunes. Richer, brown sugar
Taste:. No retronasal smells before swallowing. The finish was sweet, lightly fruity with indistinct stone fruits. Sweet, but a little hollow and watery. It lacks body. It’s still crisp, but empty and not mouth-filling. It feels like a fourth infusion of a medium quality tea.

Infusion 3: 212°F 30s 150ml
Appearance: rich amber, vivid, clear
Smell: sweet figs, watery. Lacks body.
Taste: Empty retronasal. Very weak finish. It basically tastes like nothing. It’s vaguely sweet water. It doesn’t even taste fruity. Extremely weak body, crisp mouthfeel, thin, watery.

The first infusion is amazing, but after that it completely falls flat. I’ve never had a tea fall apart like this and it makes me sad because it started phenomenally.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Fruity, Muscatel, Prune, Stonefruit, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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91

Gongfu Sipdown (1535)!

Thank you Togo for the sample! I think this is my favourite, so far, of the sheng samples you shared with me!

It’s been a lazy, mellow kind of day and I’m finding this sheng rather peaceful and approachable. The dry leaf aroma was sweet and fruity which is why I picked it, and stacking infusions two at a time in this larger teacup I’m getting a lot of those same characteristics. The liquor is so thick and syrupy with sweet notes of overripe apricots drizzled in honey, and fresh floral white peach pushing to the forefront of a more simple grassy and playfully vegetal backdrop. I’m not sure if it’s something I would appreciate at all times, but currently it’s mirroring my mood and the beautiful stillness of this moment as if it was made just for it. I really don’t think there’s anything greater you could ask for out of a session…

Ten steeps total.

Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CVyIxV7F5uU/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx6kZLxRL3w&ab_channel=YokeLore

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88

Here is another review of a Yunnan white tea that I drank back in the spring of 2020. This was the last of those teas that I drank before moving on to a whole bunch of Chinese black teas and oolongs. Interestingly enough, this was also the first loose leaf Yue Guang Bai from Yunnan Sourcing that I tried. I had tried some of their Yue Guang Bai dragon balls in the past, but never their regular loose leaf version. I found it to be a very good offering. I have no clue why I never got around to trying any of the previous productions.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 180 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 minutes 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 leaves emitted aromas of hay, wood, marshmallow, cinnamon, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, new aromas of peanut, butter, and straw emerged. The first infusion introduced aromas of cream, oats, and cucumber. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of hay, wood, straw, grass, cream, oats, wheat toast, and cucumber that were balanced by subtler impressions of peanut, malt, butter, and eucalyptus. The majority of the following infusions added aromas of malt, grass, coriander, lemon zest, basil, apple, and wheat toast to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of malt, peanut, and eucalyptus emerged in the mouth with mineral, coriander, basil, watermelon rind, vanilla, honeydew, plum, marshmallow, apple, pear, almond, lemon zest, and sugarcane notes in tow. A hint of cinnamon was left on the back of the throat after each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor continued emphasizing notes of malt, minerals, wheat toast, wood, hay, cucumber, cream, lemon zest, and sugarcane that were chased by hints of grass, almond, oats, apple, plum, pear, honeydew, and watermelon rind.

This was not the smoothest or most balanced Yue Guang Bai I have ever tried, but it was extremely aromatic and flavorful. The tea liquor displayed good body and texture in the mouth, and the tea also displayed incredible longevity in a lengthy gongfu session. This one was a winner in my book.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Basil, Butter, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Eucalyptus, Grass, Hay, Honeydew, Lemon Zest, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Oats, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Straw, Sugarcane, Toast, Vanilla, Watermelon, Wheat, Wood

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

Okay, time for another review from the incrementally shrinking backlog. This one comes from either April or May of 2020. I was drinking a ton of white tea at the time, so unlike some of my other recently posted reviews, I have a relatively good idea of when this one was initially composed. With regard to the quality of the tea, it was more or less great. I am a huge fan of Feng Qing Silver Needles, and this was a production that was well worth my time.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 fluid ounces of 180 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 buds emitted aromas of malt, hay, marshmallow, straw, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, aromas of wood, peanut, lemon, and sugarcane appeared. The first infusion introduced aromas of butter and cream, while the previously noted peanut aroma intensified. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate notes of peanut, wood, cream, hay, butter, and straw that were chased by hints of lemon, malt, marshmallow, and eucalyptus. The majority of the following infusions were responsible for adding aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, oats, lychee, and honeydew to the tea’s bouquet. Slightly stronger and more immediately detectable notes of malt, lemon, marshmallow, and eucalyptus emerged in the mouth, while impressions of minerals, puff pastry, vanilla, white pepper, cinnamon, sugarcane, oats, lychee, honeydew, and plum made themselves known. I was also able to pick out hints of apricot, pear, watermelon rind, cantaloupe, and white peach. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, wood, straw, peanut, cream, butter, oats, and eucalyptus that were backed up by fleeting hints of sugarcane, lychee, honeydew, cinnamon, hay, white pepper, pear, vanilla, and watermelon rind.

Feng Qing Silver Needle is almost always a pleasant and approachable tea with a lot of subtle depth and complexity, and this spring 2018 offering was very much a tea in that particular mold. While it did not surprise me in any way, I found it to be a very drinkable, easygoing tea with considerable and surprising longevity and gently invigorating energy. It would be hard to find a better Yunnan Silver Needle of any sort at this price point.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cantaloupe, Cinnamon, Cream, Eucalyptus, Hay, Honeydew, Lemon, Lychee, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Oats, Pastries, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pepper, Plum, Straw, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Watermelon, Wood

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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70

This is a good tea for brewing grandpa style! Honestly there isn’t a whole lot special going on here, but it’s a solid tea. I wouldn’t spend a lot of time or effort to gong fu it, but its an amazing one to throw in a mug and brew over and over. Beautiful to look at as well.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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89

This was another of my fall 2020 sipdowns. I wanted to end my day with a review of a very unique tea, and I figured that posting this one would do. This black tea from Feng Qing Dian Hong in Lincang was produced from a hybrid of local Feng Qing Assamica and Shui Xian plants from Wu Yi Shan. The result was a very interesting and satisfying tea that maintained some of the characteristics I typically associate with Wu Yi Shui Xian and stood apart from the more familiar Feng Qing black teas.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 cinnamon, straw, honey, sugarcane, and malt. After the rinse, new aromas of smoke, roasted almond, and roasted peanut emerged along with a subtle geranium scent. The first infusion then introduced a pear aroma and a subtle apple scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, baked bread, butter, straw, honey, malt, and roasted almond that were backed by hints of red apple, smoke, blackberry, plum, sugarcane, horehound, and red grape. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of red grape, blackberry, mulberry, blueberry, plum, baked bread, violet, and chocolate as well as a subtle scent reminiscent of horehound. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of red apple, blackberry, red grape, sugarcane, and plum emerged in the mouth alongside mineral, earth, violet, roasted peanut, pear, cream, chocolate, mulberry, caramel, and orange zest impressions. There were also hints of geranium, blueberry, and menthol that were especially noticeable on the back of the throat after each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor persisted in emphasizing notes of minerals, malt, cream, baked bread, roasted almond, roasted peanut, earth, orange zest, red grape, and pear that were chased by lingering hints of cinnamon, sugarcane, honey, red apple, plum, caramel, blackberry, and menthol.

This was one of the most unique Feng Qing black teas I have ever tried, and that is saying something considering that Feng Qing cranks out some of the most unique and consistently appealing black teas that Yunnan Province has to offer from year to year. I especially appreciated this tea’s unique mix of fruity, floral, and herbal qualities. I am not certain that this tea could stand shoulder to shoulder with some of Feng Qing’s most celebrated offerings, but it was a very likable and appealing tea in its own right. I will definitely be trying more recent productions of it when I get the opportunity.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Geranium, Grapes, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Red Apple, Smoke, Straw, Sugarcane, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Sierge Krьstъ

I am looming forward to weird red teas that originated during pandemic. As folk retreated, nature went into overdrive. That in theory would spur unique varieties never to be repeated again

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87

I’m dipping a little further into my 2020/2021 review notebook for this one. This was one of my sipdowns from the spring of 2020, probably from either April or May. I was drinking a lot of white tea at the time, so I’m guessing that this review comes from that time of the year. It might actually be from March. I have no way of knowing. Anyway, this was a very good, very solid Yunnan Bai Mu Dan.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose leaf and bud mix in 4 fluid ounces of 180 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 leaf and bud mix emitted aromas of hay, grass, straw, eucalyptus, cedar, and sugarcane. After the rinse, new aromas of peanut, celery, malt, and butter emerged on the nose. The first infusion introduced aromas of oats and lemon rind. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of hay, grass, malt, cream, peanut, oats, and butter that were balanced by hints of cedar, celery, straw, and eucalyptus. The majority of the subsequent infusions added aromas of tree bark, vanilla, cream, and mint. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of celery and straw came out in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, lemon rind, tree bark, almond, honeydew, pear, sour apricot, watermelon rind, and plum. Hints of vanilla, mint, wintergreen oil, and marshmallow were also present. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, hay, malt, grass, lemon rind, peanut, watermelon rind, cream, and butter that were chased by hints of vanilla, almond, straw, celery, honeydew, and pear.

This was a pleasant and incredibly drinkable Yunnan white tea. Compared to the previous spring’s production, this offering was sweeter, fruitier, and better balanced. I liked them both, but this one was noticeably better.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Bark, Butter, Cedar, Celery, Cream, Eucalyptus, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Lemon, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Mint, Oats, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Straw, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Watermelon

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

Here is a review of another of my sipdowns from the summer of 2020. I generally find this tea to be one of Yunnan Sourcing’s most approachable and consistent Dancong oolongs from year to year, and this spring 2018 version was no exception. Though I have had better Mi Lan Xiang and generally tend to be picky about such teas anyway, this was a very good offering overall.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This initial infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 produced aromas of honey, orchid, cinnamon, peach, plum, sugarcane, cream, and cherry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of spinach, roasted almond, and orange blossom. The first infusion introduced aromas or baked bread and vanilla. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of orchid, cream, vanilla, peach, sweet cherry, sugarcane, roasted almond, and orange blossom that were chased by hints of honey, spinach, grass, nectarine, lychee, baked bread, orange zest, and cinnamon. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of grass, butter, orange zest, custard, nectarine, lychee, pear, violet, and coriander. Stronger and more immediately presented notes of honey, lychee, grass, orange zest, baked bread, and nectarine emerged in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, pomegranate, butter, candied pomelo, pear, green apple, earth, violet, cucumber, coriander, and white grape. I also picked out some occasional hints of custard. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, coriander, roasted almond, white grape, orange zest, green apple, pear, butter, and grass that were chased by a swell of subtler impressions of spinach, sugarcane, orchid, lychee, cucumber, peach, plum, and baked bread.

Compared to the Classic Mi Lan Xiang, this was a sweeter, fruitier, and more syrupy tea with a heavier, thicker mouthfeel. Its comparatively fewer quirks and rough edges made it the more approachable of the two, though that also had the effect of making it seem slightly less unique. Still, this was a very good tea. People who are into sweet, floral teas or those looking for a high quality entry into the world of Dancong oolong would love an offering like this one.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Candy, Cherry, Cinnamon, Citrus, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Earth, Grass, Green Apple, Honey, Lychee, Mineral, Nectarine, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Pomegranate, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vanilla, Violet, White Grapes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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88

Okay, I’m back for another round of posting some reviews from the giant backlog of death. I had hoped to get at least two or three posted yesterday, but I ended up volunteering to scare children at my cousin’s haunted corn maze. I can’t turn down the opportunity to terrorize children, so Steepster got put on the backburner for the day. Anyway, this was one of my sipdowns from late summer of 2020. Though I found the spring 2017 version of this tea to be just kind of decent, this version was actually very good.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 produced aromas of orange blossom, custard, pomegranate, nectarine, and orchid. After the rinse, new aromas of honey, smoke, sugarcane, pear, and roasted almond emerged on the nose. The first infusion introduced subtle aromas of wood and spinach. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of grass, butter, spinach, wood, roasted almond, honey, orchid, and cream that were backed by hints of baked bread, smoke, sugarcane, orange blossom, nectarine, pomegranate, and sour cherry. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced new aromas of lychee, peach, grass, sour cherry, plum, and green bell pepper to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately presented notes of baked bread, smoke, sugarcane, pomegranate, and sour cherry emerged in the mouth with notes of minerals, custard, violet, earth, peach, plum, lychee, cantaloupe, orange zest, watermelon rind, pear, and green bell pepper. Hints of white grape and vanilla could be detected as well, while interesting and unexpected impressions of beeswax, wintergreen, and cannabis lingered on the back of the throat after each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of orchid, orange zest, cream, butter, baked bread, green bell pepper, roasted almond, sugarcane, grass, and wood that were chased by fleeting hints of honey, peach, pomegranate, lychee, violet, spinach, sour cherry, plum, watermelon rind, and white grape.

In the 2017 version of this tea, the vegetal notes started to become awkward and overpowering late in my gongfu sessions, but in this spring 2018 production, they were more balanced and integrated. This tea was much deeper and more complex than its earlier counterpart, and it was also much less bitter and astringent. This was a much better tea overall. What a difference a year can make!

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Cannabis, Cantaloupe, Cherry, Cream, Custard, Earth, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Herbaceous, Honey, Lychee, Mineral, Nectarine, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Plum, Pomegranate, Smoke, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet, Watermelon, Wax, White Grapes, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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84

Another one from a traveling tea box earlier this year – I’m not sure which year this tea is from. It’s pretty rich and malty. I used skim milk, but actually, I think soy milk would complement this really well. It’s got depth – I’m enjoying it! To sweeten my second steep of this, I used horchata powder I bought at an international market, and those flavors were fun together.

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90

Well, I was planning on going to bed after I posted my last review, but I can’t sleep, so I’m doing laundry and sneaking in another tea review. Insomnia sucks, by the way. Funny enough, it’s not caffeine related. I go through seasonal bouts of insomnia, and I have no clue why. Anyway, this was another of my late 2020 sipdowns. I noticed that previous reviews for this tea were kind of hit or miss, but I pretty much loved this one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 minutes 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of baked bread, orchid, malt, black cherry, honey, cinnamon, and pine. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of orange zest, roasted peanut, and roasted almond that were underscored by a subtle smoky aroma. The first infusion introduced aromas of cream, butter, and geranium. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of baked bread, malt, cream, butter, cinnamon, orchid, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of smoke, honey, sugarcane, oats, black cherry, orange zest, pine, and pear. The majority of the subsequent infusions added pear, chocolate, red apple, plum, sugarcane, violet, and grape leaf aromas to the tea’s bouquet. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of sugarcane, pine, oats, orange zest, and pear emerged in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, red apple, violet, roasted peanut, plum, grape leaf, caramel, and lemon zest. Subtler impressions of peach, anise, chocolate, red grape, and geranium were also present. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, orchid, malt, baked bread, sugarcane, violet, and orange zest that were balanced by lingering hints of butter, honey, red grape, red apple, plum, caramel, roasted almond, grape leaf, and lemon zest.

This was a very nice Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. Its dominant syrupy, floral, and fruity characteristics made for a pleasant change of pace from the other Wuyi black teas that I was drinking at the time. While this was primarily a very sweet black tea, it was not unbalanced in any way, remaining drinkable and appealing over the entirety of the span of time I spent working my way through what I had of it. At this point, all I can really offer is that I thoroughly enjoyed this tea, but I can kind of understand why some people may not have been as into it. You would have to either be into sweeter teas or able and willing to overlook this tea’s dominant sweetness to appreciate the nuances it offered to find it enjoyable.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Geranium, Grapes, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Smoke, Sugarcane, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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