905 Tasting Notes

76
drank Bao Tang 2017 Spring by Tea Urchin
905 tasting notes

This sheng is mild and pleasant. The flavors are not strong but the body of the tea is thick with a satisfying swallow. It starts off low-pitched, somewhat mung beany and savory, clean and mineral with a gentle sweetness. Floral-brown sugar aftertaste appears with the first steep and soon a mild minty quality in the throat and chest. Later some bitterness develops as the grassy-vegetal youth of the tea with a hint of astringency expresses itself and a returning sweetness presents. As that fades, it becomes more floral and manages to maintain its thick, softly sweet character until the end.

The energy is noticeable within the first few infusions — calming and I can feel all the muscles in my body relax, not only specific muscle groups. The spent leaf looks great, like most of Tea Urchin’s teas. At this point, I can tell it’s aging albeit slowly with my storage. The liquor is close to a light orange-brown and the wet leaf is generally dark olive with a brown tint.

It’s a gentle tea, one I’d recommend to beginners since it’s easy sipping and doesn’t necessarily need much attention paid to have a satisfying session.

Flavors: Beany, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Mint, Nectar, Nutmeg, Powdered Sugar, Rice, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal, Winter Honey

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70
drank Nepal Pearl Oolong Tea by What-Cha
905 tasting notes

Wow, what a beautiful, intense tea.

I started drinking this in the early morning and then got to work pulling weeds, root and all. When I needed a break, I’d come in for another short steep. From the get go, this tea’s aroma and taste were both thick with deep honey balanced by dancing pink rose florality on top of a demure violet, pure vanilla, sweet cinnamon, toast-pastries-baguette, meadow-dandelion flowers-hay. What else… cream, creamed honey, straw, green wood type of astringency, cleansing minerals. I lost count of steeps (15?+). A few of the pearls still hadn’t completely unfurled so I chose to cold-brew from there.

This beautiful tea fueled 12 hours of hand weeding in silence followed by mowing. It exposed my insanity, that tunnel vision developed from 5 years’ work of removing invasive species. I don’t know what happened. But it was good. Cathartic, even. Thanks, Leafhopper :)

Praise aside, the effects of the tea were much too overwhelming to likely consider ordering if ever available again, thus my lowish rating. Still very much recommended, especially since it has aged so well.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Cream, Dandelion, Floral, Flowers, Green Wood, Hay, Honey, Mineral, Pastries, Rose, Straw, Sweet, Thick, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
gmathis

Oh, my aching back!

Martin Bednář

Sounds so tasty, especially after that hard work!

White Antlers

That kind of yard work becomes almost like a religious experience. I remember 10 hour days similar to it in my big backyard in Oakland. By 7 p.m., totally wiped out and dehydrated, I’d be having visions. Good fun!

Leafhopper

Wow! I’m glad this old tea is still holding up.

gmathis

We just do a container garden on the back patio, and I am far from a competent gardener, but there is definitely something soothing about uprooting last year’s dead heads and playing in fresh potting soil with your bare hands.

mrmopar

Long day for sure.

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Dry leaf aroma is strong but at the same time also muted with a range including floral sweet pea, lily and lilac, baked goods, lemon curd, creamy peas, artichoke. The sip is upfront very floral with mostly lily. This leads into a sharp mouthfeel with tang. I taste crisp lettuce, high-pitched citrus, dry grass, a dark lemon curd, earth and wood. The aftertaste explodes with apricot-peach which gives way to a green sugarcane returning sweetness.

The astringency and bitterness come out after several steeps, leaving my tongue rough and numb. As each steep becomes more astringent, it also grows metallic. If you don’t mind astringency, this tea does have good longevity. Overall, this tea has a good range of flavors and mouthfeels but it was tough for me to appreciate after 4 or so short infusions. This one is flavorwise steps above the very tame Tie Guan Yin that can be had at Chinese restaurants. I’m guessing it’s merely past its prime.

Thank you for the sample, Leafhopper :) It’s been a few years since I’ve had a green Tie Guan Yin. It’s always nice to go back to one of the first loose-leaf style teas I bought – I think it was once of those large canisters offered by Tao of Tea.

Flavors: Apricot, Artichoke, Astringent, Baked Bread, Bitter, Citrusy, Cream, Dry Grass, Drying, Earth, Floral, Flowers, Garden Peas, Lemon, Lettuce, Metallic, Peach, Sugarcane, Tangy, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Leafhopper

Hmm. I haven’t tried the TGY yet, but it’s from spring 2020. Too bad it seems to be astringent in later steeps.

derk

Maybe I needed to brew it differently.

tea-sipper

Years since a green Tie Guan Yin! whoa.

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82

Second flush, May 2020

This makes a nice morning cup. It oversteeps well in the morning fog. The liquor is smooth, fairly light for an Assam. Malty and leathery but not overpowering, with a gentle cocoa base note that is more apparent in the fruity aroma. Enough astringency and balanced bitterness to brace my senses. The taste is also quite fruity with notes of pear and yellow cherry, perhaps some other fruits. I’ll try soon to pick this one apart a little more.

Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Candy, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Fruity, Honey, Leather, Malt, Pear, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins, Smooth, Tea, Wood

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81

The previous try of this tea was from a June 2018 harvest forwarded my way from White Antlers. Alistair from What-Cha included a May 2020 sample with my latest order, thank you :)

The dry leaf smells like cherry fruit leather: high-pitched and tangy with a dried fruit sweetness. Once brewed, the aroma is of dried cherries and fresh apricots, bright with a rich chocolate note that hides beneath a more general ‘stonefruit.’ The liquor has a pleasant medium body with a balanced astringency. The taste is very smooth with cherry, leather and gentle malt. The tea swallows juicy where much more of the flavor comes out and is particularly fruity. I notice cherry wood, cherry, walnut, fig, red plum and fleeting impressions of caramel and butter. A tangy feeling is left in the mouth and a peach aftertaste hangs around for several minutes, followed by a caramel-like returning sweetness.

I seemed to get more from this harvest than the one 2 years prior. I had described that one as ‘zippy’; there is a little more heft to the 2020 but it’s still a bright tea. Its smoothness really helps it go down quickly, a good thirst quencher.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Butter, Caramel, Cherry, Cherry Wood, Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Fig, Fruity, Leather, Malt, Peach, Plums, Smooth, Tangy, Walnut, Wood

Martin Bednář

I thought I have tried this tea before. Maybe I did before my Steepster times?

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78

Dry leaf is long, thin mostly dark green needles with some of of the typical white hairs. I smell some musty hay, faint smoke, rich undertone of white chocolate or cocoa butter.

Taste is full of white chocolate, hay, melon and minerals with slight herbaceous-vegetal-zucchini tone. Nectar sweetness that I find typical of silver needles. Creamy lychee-oat aftertaste. Rather drying.

I had this a week ago and my notes were rushed, my recollection fuzzy. The flavor profile was unique and I can’t remember enough to say why. Maybe the tea had a deeper, earthier feeling to it… I really enjoyed this one, though, especially the white chocolate note which I was not expecting after reading Leafhopper’s review. It seems like our experiences with this tea differed a bit. Thanks for the share, Leafhopper :)

Note 900

Flavors: Creamy, Drying, Hay, Herbaceous, Lychee, Melon, Mineral, Musty, Nectar, Smoke, Sweet, Vegetal, White Chocolate, Zucchini

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
Leafhopper

Congratulations on 900 tasting notes! I definitely don’t remember getting white chocolate from this tea. Did you brew it differently?

Courtney

Woot, 900!

White Antlers

Thank you for being so wonderfully prolific,derk.

gmathis

^ my sentiments exactly.

ashmanra

Ditto ^!

derk

Thank you all for bringing some kindness to the internet :)

Leafhopper: gongfu with steeps starting at 10s. Not much different than you. This tea had me spinning in place.

Martin Bednář

900! Woot woot! Let’s go to 1000 (and even more!)

mrmopar

Big number there!

Leafhopper

Derk, yes, I also found this tea to have a lot of caffeine. I remember being pretty buzzed after my long session.

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65

From Martin, thank you!

I haven’t gotten much of a lemon note from this despite containing lemon peel, more a tone of it, and it’s mixed with a savory-tending-alkaline Chinese? sencha base that’s also toasty in flavor. It does swallow juicy which is satisfying. The ginger presents after the swallow and is very mild.

Because the base is so savory, it almost reminds me of a vegetable broth spiked with lemon juice. Something reminds me of mayonnaise?? Mixed with an almost sweet, toasty flavor and a juicy swallow, I’m left confused. I’ve had it while eating grapefruit both times to amplify the citrus. It’s an overall average green-herbal blend, for me at least. Martin seems to really enjoy it :)

The theme of this tea is ‘Almost.’

Flavors: Dry Grass, Ginger, Lemon, Smooth, Sweet, Toasty, Vegetable Broth

Martin Bednář

You are welcome! Well, last few sessions weren’t that great, maybe it’s age, maybe a bad mix (you got the rest I had)… but well, “mayo” isn’t expected flavour profile! :D

derk

I’m grateful to have some green teas right now (even those with surprise mayo impression) since I’ve been craving them. Come on, fresh harvest!

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95
drank Peppermint by two leaves and a bud
905 tasting notes

Every coffee counter at every large medical facility is the same: oversized Costco muffins and pastries and bagels, bags of chips and M&Ms, ‘granola’ bars. You’d think with the way Kaiser promotes healthy eating that such items wouldn’t be available inside their facilities. I opted for a breakfast burrito from this fine establishment. I knew it would be the most basic egg, potato and cheese log ever crafted by a human but I was HONGRAY.

My radar is always pinging for tea and the innocuous ‘two leaves and a bud’ sign pinged back. The Doctor Coffee counter had a selection, even! But only 1 bag left of Peppermint. I hesitated. You know when you’re sharing an appetizer and the lone piece of cripsy calamari remains? The “No, no you take it” back-and-forth bullshit, and that poor squid who gave its life for your sustenance gets cold and soggy because everybody’s too damn polite to pop the last piece in their mouth. Yeah, no. Do not hesitate. Give me that last Peppermint sachet! It’s mine! I have to settle the upcoming gurgles from a subpar burrito and the ensuing intestinal rot from these antibiotics waging war. You know what I’m talking about and I’m not sorry. We’re all human.

There’s a reason why this is my absolute favorite peppermint leaf. It is by far the cleanest, least herbaceous and stewy, most mentholated and sweet peppermint I’ve ever had. Powerful stuff. Not for sissies.

Flavors: Menthol, Peppermint, Sweet

Martin Bednář

I agree, it’s one of the finest peppermint I had. Close behind is Celestial Seasonings I brewed myself (second bag from you) JUST yesterday. Need to finish this one too. Once I will cook something heavy again, as yesterday deep fried celery root (experiment by other family members)… it will come.

gmathis

Well, you just shot my “eh, peppermint is peppermint” assumption to smithereens!

Cameron B.

Mmm cheese log! XD

White Antlers

Agreed. I always have a box of this in the pantry. It kicks ass.
Hope you get sorted out and feel better soon.

Mastress Alita

I’m the asshole that will unabashedly take the last of whatever is sitting in the breakroom. None of that slicing it in half BS either.

Leafhopper

Your review inspired me to finally try this tea! I enjoyed it, though I may need to use two teaspoons instead of one.

Lexie Aleah

I really likw some of the teas from this company.

ashmanra

I need to buy this for Superanna, then. She loves peppermint tea,

Cameron B.

I looked for this at the store today! They had a few teas from this company, but unfortunately this wasn’t one of them… :(

TeaEarleGreyHot

But M&Ms are healthy eating…

derk

Gosh, I’m way behind with these comments. Leafhopper, the loose leaf isn’t as fresh as I would have liked. The past few nights I’ve been brewing 2tsp to 300-350mL and it’s been up to par.

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70
drank Pretty in Pink by Cuppa Geek
905 tasting notes

I’m getting around to having a cup of this myself. The last time I tasted this was when I had a few sips from Kiki’s advent grab bag cup. It was very subtle. This is clearly a fresh batch that I ordered.

The dry goods smell so fruity and sweet. It’s all clumpy and sticky fun. I used to laugh at Kiki’s descriptor of strawberry jello for these CuppaGeek teas but I totally get it in the aroma here. The body in this batch is noticeable, almost syrupy but the mineral-acidic quality of the green rooibos with hibiscus keeps the cloy at bay. It does taste like the smell of hot strawberry jello liquid. Appley. Yum.

Flavors: Apple, Grass, Mineral, Pleasantly Sour, Raspberry, Strawberry

gmathis

This one tastes best in a teacup with flowers on it. :)

derk

I can imagine. The frilly tea cups are lacking in this house but maybe the Mexican-crafted hibiscus punch mug will finally get a christening with this.

DrowningMySorrows

I thought Pretty in Pink smelled like the strawberry instant oatmeal I loved as a kid.

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69

Another 2016 harvest in a sealed sample packet from Leafhopper!

Very sweet, very gentle. Full-bodied and silky. Basically liquid powdered sugar-melon-sweet beany with mild floral and vegetal accents that gives way to a sweet corn, mouthwatering and mineral swallow. Mouthfeel turns creamy right as the aftertaste shows up with sweet corn and apricot, some mild bitterness emerges on the back of the tongue.

So sweet. Simple and very easy to drink. Rating is in accordance with my preferences – I like less upfront sweetness and more bite – but I know many will love this :)

Flavors: Apricot, Beany, Bitter, Butter, Cream, Creamy, Flowers, Kale, Kettle Corn, Melon, Mineral, Nectar, Powdered Sugar, Smooth, Sweet, Thick

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 6 OZ / 190 ML
ashmanra

This one is very good.

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Profile

Bio

Tea Habits:

Among my favorites are sheng puerh, Taiwanese oolong, a variety of black (red) teas from all over, all teas Nepali, herbals, Wuyi yancha. I keep a few green and white teas on hand. Shou puerh is a cold weather brew. Tiny teapots and gaiwans are my usual brewing vessels when not preparing morning cups western style and pouring into my work thermos. Friend of teabags. Hold the milk and sugar unless we’re talking masala chai.

In my late teens, home-brewed unsweetened Lipton iced tea was the drink of choice to combat cottonmouth. The following years saw the appearance of the odd box of tea from Trader Joe’s. About 4 years ago, walking out of the parking garage where I kept my motorcycle, I came across a move-out dumpster treasure: single serve packets of what I can look back now and say was Wuyi yancha. Yes, I drank dumpstered tea and honestly, that’s what blew the doors wide open.

Preference Reference

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.

89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be great daily drinkers.

79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.

69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.

59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possesses off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.

Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.

Character Rundown:

Boring pandemic hermit whose only current hobbies besides tasting tea are skateboarding and learning herbalism. Will update as the times change.

Location

Sonoma County, California, USA

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