559 Tasting Notes

96

My spring greens from Teavivre arrived at last after being stuck in customs for nearly 60 days. I was worried about the delay affecting freshness but if this Anji Bai Cha is any indication, they seem to have held up pretty well.

Upon opening the pouch, I was greeted with a potent aroma of freshly mowed grass, straw, and green beans. I steeped just under 2g in an 8 oz glass, grandpa style. Super delicious. Notes of warm grass and fresh spring vegetables. Thick with gentle chestnut and a green pea like sweetness. Clean tasting and has a light and airy quality to it despite being full bodied. Just a wonderful tea all around and well worth the wait!

Instagram photo: https://bit.ly/3feLfXN

Flavors: Chestnut, Freshly Cut Grass, Green Beans, Straw, Vegetables

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 g 4 OZ / 131 ML
gmathis

That sounds nice and summery!

LuckyMe

@gmathis Indeed, tastes like a basket of veggies from the farmers market :-D

ashmanra

Anji Bai Cha is soooooo good.

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97

Thank you Cameron for this sample.

Made the best iced hojicha of my life using this tea! I cold brewed 2g for 16 hours or so. What resulted was an incredibly delicious, refreshing iced tea. Super smooth, luxurious texture with caramel notes and a deep raisin sweetness. Ambient brew wasn’t quite as amazing as the cold brew though. It was a little murkier and had oily mouthfeel.

As an unroasted green tea fanatic, I’m usually not big on hojicha. But with teas like this, it won’t be long before I’m pulled to the dark side.

Flavors: Caramel, Raisins, Tobacco

Preparation
2 g 8 OZ / 251 ML
gmathis

What a lovely description!

Cameron B.

Come to the dark side! ;)

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91

This year’s Laoshan green is once again a stellar tea. It’s sweet and savory with an interesting interplay of soy milk, honey, toasted grain, and fennel. Deliciously creamy and nutty with mild vegetal tones. Enjoyed this a lot more than the pricier Laoshan Reserve Bilochun.

Flavors: Fennel, Grain, Honey, Nutty, Rice, Soybean

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 240 ML

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92

This was a sample I got through last year’s Lupicia group buy. It came in one of those silky pyramid shaped tea bags. I don’t like the idea of plastics in hot water so I cut open the teabag and dumped half of the 4g of leaves in a brew basket. The leaves had a wonderful floral-woodsy aroma.

Steeped it for 2 minutes in an 8oz teacup using water on the cooler side, 187 F, for the 1st infusion. The brewed tea had a gentle woodsy, roasted aroma. Pleasantly smooth flavor reminiscent of butternut squash with a light maltiness. Upped the temperature to 195 F for the next infusion and doubled the brewing time. The tea had a very nice fruitiness this time and an almost grape-like flavor.

Lupia describes this tea as green, fresh, and spring breeze like. To me that sounds like a green tea or light oolong, something I’d never mistake it for. Darjeelings are often described as floral but I’ve honestly never tasted any such qualities in any darjeeling tea I’ve had. To me, it tasted like a lighter, slightly fruity black tea with woody tones. More autumnal than spring to me.

Flavors: Butternut Squash, Grapes, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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98

After a string of subpar Baozhongs recently, this spring’s harvest has once again restored my faith in this tea. It’s deliciously fresh and teeming with complex florals.

As I always do with baozhongs, I brewed this one grandpa style. The leaves emit a very fragrant aroma of hyacinth, lilac, and violet. The tea has an exquisite floral flavor. At first sip, I’m greeted by sweet lilacs followed by granny smith apple and lingering flower nectar. Fresh. Mouth coating. Really smooth and luscious.

When my cup got down to 1/3, I topped it off with boiling water. This dropped all of the leaves and produced a brighter green color. New floral notes of orchid appeared in my cup along with melon and sweet pea making the tea more luscious and perfumey.

Enjoyed this one immensely!

Flavors: Flowers, Green Apple, Lilac, Melon, Orchid, Peas

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 g 6 OZ / 179 ML
tea-sipper

Great to hear the new harvest of Wenshan is so good!

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82

Spring 2021

There are some teas that are phenomenal the first time you try them but then are never able to recapture the same magic. Such is the case with this tea. I was over the moon excited when I first tried it some 5 years ago and have been ordering it every year since then. But for whatever reason, it’s always felt lackluster. Last year, I struggled to finish my stash. This year’s crop unfortunately didn’t fare any better.

Initial steep is colorless and bland. When the flavor comes through, it’s fennel heavy with the usual Laoshan soybean taste and some honey. Notes of raw zucchini, spice, and dandelion along the way. There’s a lack of freshness and depth to the tea.

After two sessions, I’ve relegated it to my stash of less loved teas that are used for blending and cold brewing only. This year’s regular Laoshan green is far better. Not likely to repurchase in the future.

Flavors: Dandelion, Fennel Seed, Honey, Soybean

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70
drank Scarlet by Rishi Tea
559 tasting notes

Here’s a nearly 2 year old tea I found buried in the back of my cupboard. A happy discovery as I’m exploring more low caffeine options for the evenings.

I blended it with a little white silver needle since these fruity teas are usually too potent for me on their own. Served in a tulip shaped Turkish teacup which showed off its gorgeous scarlet red color. The tasting notes on the Rishi website were spot on. It tasted like tart cherry or pomegranate juice thanks to the hibiscus and berries. The cranberries in the mixture accentuate the tartness and blueberry is also prominent in there, especially upon resteep.

Not usually a fan of tart teas especially hibiscus but this was decent. A little sweetener would have enhanced this tea too.

Flavors: Blueberry, Cherry, Pomegranate, Tart

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93

Polished off the last of this a few days ago and I’m really going to miss this one. It came as a sample with my Sazen order. This is a lightly steamed sencha that has a clean and fresh flavor.

Forest green needle shaped leaves brew up a clear light green liquor without any cloudiness. Smooth, buttery, and rich in umami . There’s a lima bean creaminess which coats the mouth and leaves a lingering umami aftertaste.

Resteeps are more or less the same. Lima bean / cashew creaminess and lots of umami.

Flavors: Cashew, Grass, Lima Beans, Umami

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
tea-sipper

I wish I found more teas tasting like cashews

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70

I ordered this tea not realizing that it’s a Baguashan grown tea. This region in Taiwan is known for producing budget oolong and the quality is usually reflected in the price.

It suffered from similar problems as the Ali Shan oolong I had prior to it. Namely, it was an unremarkable tea with a very weak/watery taste. It offered some tantilizing aromas of tropical fruit and flowers, but none of it came through in the tea. I did have better results cold brewing it but otherwise this was another dud.

0 for 2 so far with 2021 high mountain oolongs. I have bunch more TTC teas to go through so wish me luck!

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70

I ordered this tea not realizing that it’s a Baguashan grown tea. This region in Taiwan is known for producing budget oolong and the quality is usually reflected in the price.

It suffered from similar problems as the Ali Shan oolong I had prior to it. Namely, it was an unremarkable tea with a very weak/watery taste. It offered some tantilizing aromas of tropical fruit and flowers, but none of it came through in the tea. I did have better results cold brewing it but otherwise this was another dud.

0 for 2 so far with 2021 high mountain oolongs. I have bunch more TTC teas to go through so wish me luck!

Flavors: Tropical, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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Profile

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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