542 Tasting Notes

94

This Kabuse Sencha was the best tea from my Floating Leaves order. Kind of ironic that a tea shop specializing in Taiwanese oolong sells a low profile green tea that outshines some of their more high end teas. I picked this one up not only to meet the free shipping threshold but also because I enjoyed the Obubu Tea Farms sample of Kabuse Sencha that Cameron gave me recently. I have no idea whether this is sourced from the same tea farm as Obubu but both are sublime teas.

The leaves are dark green and shaped like pine needles. Not quite as pristine as Obubu’s but still handsome. At least by sencha standards anyway. The leaves emit a deep, sweet grassy aroma that changes to a marine like dashi scent upon being heated. Clear, yellowish green liquor. Wet leaves have a slightly marine aroma as well but it’s more oceanic, like fresh caught steamed whitefish.

First infusion is fresh, crisp, and invigorating. Bright, balanced umami with notes of sea shells and snap pea. Second infusion is similar. Smoother and more buttery with light grass and seaweed notes. Flavor drops a bit over the next two steeps. More savory this time with a slight marine finish and a bit more astringency.

Instagram photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CMari68APv9/

Flavors: Butter, Grass, Lettuce, Marine, Ocean Air, Seaweed, Spinach, Umami

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 15 sec 2 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Cameron B.

Looks like this tea is from Satsumasendai, Kagoshima, while Obubu is in Wazuka, Kyoto!

LuckyMe

Ah, that’s good to know. Thought this style was specific to a certain tea growing region.

Cameron B.

I’m not sure if it’s regional, it’s just a shaded sencha that’s not quite shaded enough to be gyokuro.

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81

Backlog.

This was a good tea but seemed to suffer from a loss of freshness. Partly a result of Covid related shipping delays and partly due to sitting in cold storage for several months. I feel like delicate greens such as first flushes don’t hold up to refrigeration as well as dragonwells and sencha.

At standard green tea temperature (170 – 175 F) the tea has an odd note of overly ripe pear and banana. Upon bumping up the temperature, it went away and the familiar Laoshan flavors of soybean, fennel, and green lettuce appeared with an underlay of nuttiness.

Not terribly complex and as mentioned had lost some freshness yet still a pleasant drinking experience.

Flavors: Fennel, Lettuce, Pear, Soybean

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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86

Backlog.

Another FLT oolong that I wanted to like but didn’t quite work for me. It had some nice floral elements for sure, but was affected by an underlying stale taste. A frustratingly common issue with green oolongs, unfortunately. I really wish all vendors packed their tea in oxygen free packaging like Taiwan Tea Crafts to avoid this problem.

Back to the tea at hand. I gongfued this for 6 infusions. It starts somewhat disappointingly with a stale vegetal taste mixed in with flowers and an unusual chamomile note. The second steep though is clearer with more distinct flowery notes of daffodils and honeysuckle rounded out with hints of vanilla and cream. The next two steeps present a thick, lingering flower nectar, the intensity of which reminds me of lily of the valley. The flavor peters out over the final couple of steeps yet retains a candy like sweetness and the odd chamomile note from the initial steep returned.

All in all, this was the best oolong from my Floating Leaves order although that’s not saying much since all of them were lacking. That’s not a reflection on the vendor though. I’ve had good tea from Floating Leaves before. I suspect it has more to do with the quality of last winter’s harvest.

Flavors: Chamomile, Cream, Flowers, Vegetal

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
Leafhopper

I’m kind of relieved I didn’t buy any winter 2020 oolongs.

LuckyMe

Yeah they’ve all been duds so far

Daylon R Thomas

What did you guys think of the 2020 spring?

LuckyMe

Spring 2020 was okay, better than this winter’s crop but no real standouts aside from an AliShan from Mountain Stream Tea. I ordered from Mountain Stream Tea, Green Terrace, and Taiwan Tea Crafts.

Past favorites weren’t as good last spring. There were several teas that were very aromatic but lacking in flavor.

LuckyMe

Fingers crossed for spring 2021!

Leafhopper

I’ve had a few nice spring 2020 oolongs (Cha Yi’s Alishan and What-Cha’s Li Shan come to mind). Most of the others I had were decent, though as LuckyMe said, they were stronger on aroma than flavour. I ordered from Cha Yi, Tillerman (haven’t tried all of the ones I got), What-Cha (the Jade Oolong was surprisingly good as well), and Camellia Sinensis.

Also, I just had a sample of What-Cha’s Li Shan Tie Guan Yin from Daylon, which I think was a winter 2021 harvest, and it was awesome!

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85

My second Floating Leaves Baozhong. Between this and the Farmer’s Choice, this was the better of the two but not by a whole lot.

Dry leaves have a slightly staleish aroma of grass and turnips. When steeped, it changes to egg yolk and buttered lilacs. The tea starts off with a soupy, brothy flavor mingled with lilac and violets. Second steep is clearer with more sweetness and water lily like florals. The next steep is similar but with a thicker body. Eventually, it flattens a bit and settles into a floral-grassy flavor.

This tea lacks the thick mouthfeel and depth of better Baozhongs but is still serviceable.

Flavors: Broth, Flowers

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
tea-sipper

Egg yolk! That’s a new one.

TeaEarleGreyHot

I always associated the scent of lilacs with insect spray. So we’ve got stale grass, turnips, sulpherous egg yolk and Raid in this tea. I think I’ll pass. LoL!

LuckyMe

@TeaEarleGreyHotabout Lol! It’s more creamy yolk than sulfur. A bug spray that smells like flowers? I gotta get me some!

TeaEarleGreyHot

@LuckyMe, yeah I was just joking around! Your descriptions are vivid, and I am sure helpful to those who may enjoy this tea. Egg yolk is, after all, the basis of delicious pudding/custard. I had never smelled lilac blossoms until moving as an adult to an area where they were common, and then I instantly recognized the fragrance as that used in a some bug spray. Unfortunately, the connection is firmly established for me. :-)

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75

Backlog. This was a free sample that came with my Floating Leaves order. I only managed a couple of sessions with it but the flavor didn’t leave any notable impression.

The tea has the aroma of taro, coconut, grass, and subtle flowers. The brewed tea tasted of steamed vegetables with faint, murky florals. There were a few fruit and citrus hints here and there along the way but overall just a little bland and undistinguished. The description notes that due to weather, the Winter harvest this year lacked intensity which I can affirm.

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Vegetables

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I have been trying to avoid the 2020 winter harvest. The spring was actually good, but I’ve also focused on more new developments from Wang Family Tea and from Trident. They have a ShanLinXi grown ShuiXian that is really good.

LuckyMe

Thanks the recommendations Daylon and yeah my experience of the winter 2020 harvest was the same. I’ll have to check those vendors out as I’ve had everything from my usual tea shops and want to try something different

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88
drank Tencha by Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms
542 tasting notes

Another unique tea from Cameron’s Obubu Tea Farm’s collection. I’ve always been curious to try tencha, the precursor to matcha, but it’s not an easy tea to find.

The familiar smell of matcha, those deep vegetal and umami notes, greet you upon opening the pouch. The leaf looks like a typical sencha although it has more broken leaves and small particle than other Obubu teas. The steeped tea tastes indeed like matcha. Soft peat moss earthiness, umami, and assertive notes of broccoli and spinach. It tastes like a thin matcha but without the intensity and chalkiness. As someone who finds straight matcha too aggressive, I appreciated the lighter, more delicate flavor of this tencha.

Thanks Cameron for once again expanding my experience!

Flavors: Broccoli, Earth, Grass, Spinach, Umami

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Mastress Alita

I’m with you, I like matcha but find it too assertive/bitter to take it plain. Since I have to have it in baking, lattes, or smoothies, I rarely see the reason to get “fancy” matcha over culinary.

LuckyMe

I usually buy the cheapest ceremonial grade for lattes as I haven’t found a good culinary grade matcha yet. What culinary matcha do you recommend?

Cameron B.

I still need to try this one, I’ve never tried tencha before either! Glad to hear you enjoyed it. :)

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80

Been a while since I’ve posted here. Still drinking plenty of tea, just been too lazy to export my tasting notes from MyTeaPal to Steepster. I’ve already polished off nearly everything from my recent Floating Leaves order and wanted to share my impressions while still fresh in my mind.

This was the first of two Baozhong oolongs I bought from FLT. I love Baozhong but have been disappointed by a string of mediocre ones as of late. I specifically sought out Floating Leaves as they have a reputation for sourcing excellent Baozhongs. However, I can’t say I was blown away by this one. The flavor is somewhat muddled. Buttery florals, though not your usual BZ lilacs, mingled with herbaceous elements and a slightly savory underlying vegetal body. It’s not roasted yet oddly has a light amber liquor instead of green. At times, it exhibits yancha like characteristics with sandalwood and pine notes and a little spice.

All in all, this was an atypical baozhong with slightly dissonant notes that lacks the freshness and sensuous florals this kind of tea usually has.

Flavors: Floral, Herbaceous, Savory

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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91

Backlog. Another share from Cameron.

This was an exquisite tea. Soft and creamy with mellow grassy notes and a taste that’s reminiscent of mountain mist and tender spring vegetables. It develops a rich, hearty body over successive steeps while remaining well-balanced and smooth. Notes of soy milk and cream along the way before ending bright and fruity. It’s also got staying power as I was able to push it for 4 good steeps.

Flavors: Soybean, Umami, Vegetables

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Cameron B.

Yum, so glad you liked it! Your note is making me hungry. XD

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90

The last tea from my Mountain Stream order before I move on to Floating Leaves. This one turned out to be the best one of the bunch. I had a very similar Orange Blossom from Mountain Stream a couple of years ago – it might even be the same tea – and there are a few differences in this one. It’s cleaner tasting while the other was more rough around the edges with a sharper orange taste.

Grandpa steeped 1.2g in an 8oz glass using 200 F water. Dry leaf smell is very inviting and juicy. Creamy with citrusy notes of tangerine and bergamot. The brewed tea tastes like perfumery orange blossom water and apricot. The taste is evocative of baklava with its sweetness and exotic floral flavor. After topping off with boiling water, the orange fades and gives way to jasmine like florals. Doesn’t become bitter as long as you don’t overleaf.

A great scented tea if you’re looking for a citrusy floral oolong.

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Jasmine, Orange Blossom

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 g 7 OZ / 197 ML

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81

Winter 2020 picking.

Another Mountain Stream Teas oolong that had tremendous promise but didn’t quite deliver. The aroma of the tea enchants the senses with a fruity fragrance of papaya and granny Smith apple followed by buttered flowers when the leaves are placed in a warmed gaiwan. A rinse reveals more complex aromas of custard, coconut cream pie, and meadow flowers.

The brewed tea though is a pale shadow of it’s aroma. Fairly light and nondescript, with vague florals and a little fruitiness here and there. There are echos of the heady aroma but they are faint and not much if any of it comes through in the tea itself. I haven’t tried cold brewing it yet, but I suspect that like the other Mountain Stream oolongs, this too will taste better cold brewed.

Flavors: Apple, Coconut, Custard, Flowers

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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Bio

My Rating Criteria:

95 to 100: Top shelf stuff. Loved this tea and highly recommend it

90 to 94: Excellent. Enjoyed this tea and would likely repurchase

80 to 89: Good but not great. I liked it though it may be lacking in some aspects. I’ll finish it but probably won’t buy again

70 to 79: Average at best. Not terrible but wouldn’t willingly drink again

60 to 69: Sub-par. Low quality tea, barely palatable

59 and below: Bleh

Fell into tea years ago, and for a long time my experience was limited to Japanese greens and a few flavored teas. My tea epiphany came a few years ago when I discovered jade oolongs. That was the gateway drug to the world of fine tea and teaware.

With the exception of a handful of lightly scented teas, I drink mostly straight tea. I love fresh green and floral flavors and as such, green tea and Taiwanese oolongs will always have a place in my cupboard. After avoiding black tea forever, Chinese blacks are beginning to grow on me. I’ve dipped my toe into a few puerhs now but it’s still relatively new territory for me. I also enjoy white tea and tisanes but reach for them less frequently.

Other non-tea interests include: cooking, reading, nature, MMA, traveling when I can, and of course putzing around on the interwebs.

IG: https://www.instagram.com/melucky

Location

Chicago

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