596 Tasting Notes

88

Spring 2020 harvest.

Spring is my favorite season for many reasons. The blooming trees and flowers, the freshness in the air, and everything awakening and coming back to life. Being a green tea fanatic, spring also means the arrival of fresh picked green tea which to me embodies the season more than any other tea.

The first greens of the year arrived from Yunnan Sourcing a couple of weeks ago. Laoshan tea has been my favorite Chinese green tea for a long time but I finally got sick of it and vowed to expand my horizons this year. This is one of the teas I picked up. I had never tried nor heard of Melon Seed green tea but it sounded cool so I bought it and fortunately, it did not disappoint.

The handsome, dark forest green blades have a pleasing aroma of matcha, mochi, and buttered beans. They unfurl beautifully in hot water into wide lime green leaves. I grandpa steeped 1.5g of leaf in 8oz @ 180 F. First sip tasted similar to dragon well and Anji bai cha. Not exactly the same but the flavor is somewhere in between the two. Full bodied, grassy, and vegetal with notes of asparagus, kale, and snap pea. It reminded me of sencha in appearance and taste. Greener liquor than typical Chinese teas and has that strong grassiness and bitterness of Japanese green teas. However, it turns bland once topped off with hot water so it’s not one that can sit in your thermos all day.

Flavors: Asparagus, Bitter, Butter, Grass, Kale, Lima Beans, Spinach

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 8 OZ / 236 ML

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98

This is an exquisite high mountain tea. Exotic tropical fruit flavors that evolve into elegant florals and sweet pastry through steepings.

Dry leaf has a light floral and green apple fragrance. Following a rinse, intense aromas of mango and pineapple emerge.

The first steep tastes like biting into a juicy, fresh nectarine. Super thick and sweet with a luscious mouthfeel. The second steep brings out a burst of flowery goodness – notes of lily of the valley and jasmine – and a very satisfying silky texture with a distinctive aftertaste. Some light vanilla notes, creme brûlée, and orange blossom encountered as the tea progresses. The flavor begins dropping around the 5th or 6th steep but remains enjoyable.

I sampled pretty much every single high mountain oolong from Taiwan Tea Crafts and this was hands down my favorite from this winter’s harvest. Note that while Long Feng Xia is an amazing tea, it’s sensitive to water temperature. You need to use slightly cooler temperature than what normal gaoshan calls for. It used to give me fits because I would end up scalding it by brewing it my usual way. This time I kept temperature around 185 F, never letting it go above 195 F and it was perfect.

Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Jasmine, Mango, Orange Blossom, Pastries, Pineapple, Stonefruit, Tropical, Vanilla

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

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93

This is my second time trying this tea and it’s pretty much how I remember it from before. Greener than a typical dong ding with such a subtle roast that you might think you’re drinking a green oolong. The baked bread and caramel popcorn aromas are the only clue that this is a roasted tea. It’s fruity with light mineral and butterscotch undertones. Notes of apricot, osmanthus, and tangerine when steeped at cooler temperatures. Higher temperatures will bring out slightly more toastiness. Very refined and delicate with a smooth texture. Doesn’t become bitter no matter how long it steeps. I left it steeping for a few hours in my tea thermos yesterday and it still tasted great.

Flavors: Apricot, Bread, Butterscotch, Citrus, Fruity, Osmanthus

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

Drank this one at work. Didn’t bother measuring or timing anything and just winged it for a change. This is almost a year old but it has kept well in the fridge. Slight fruity with vegetal notes of zucchini, soybeans, and aloe.

With this sip down, I’ve officially cleared out my once massive stash of Verdant green tea. I’m now down to just a few teaspoons of Japanese greens and a YS green tea that hasn’t aged well. As someone who drinks green tea daily, I’m a little nervous about running out soon. Looks like I’ll have to reach for my oolongs, whites, and blacks more frequently until new spring greens are available.

Flavors: Fruity, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C
ashmanra

Teavivre has three greens ready to ship, and one of them is a favorite of mine – Huang Shan Lao Feng. I can hardly wait to get the fresh batch, but I am trying to sip down LOTS before ordering.

ashmanra

*Mao Feng

LuckyMe

Thanks, I saw a bunch of green teas on Teavivre too but was bummed to see that they’ve stopped offering samplers. 50g-100g minimum is a bit much :-(

Yunnan Sourcing has quite a few greens including Anji Bai Cha which was my favorite one last year. I might just order from them once a few more teas roll out

tea-sipper

Yeah, I was wondering about Teavivre not having samples anymore… maybe it’s temporary because of the virus?

Kittenna

I hope it’s temporary!

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94

This was a yummy Ali Shan. Juicy, fresh, and clean all around with big floral bursts and a rich buttery flavor. Finishes smooth and bright. It peaks a little early but good while it lasts.

Flavors: Butter, Floral

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 69 ML

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78

Finished off my sample of this tea last week. This Dayuling was nothing special given the prestige and high price tag attached to it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad tea by any means but I’ve had other high mountain oolongs and inexpensive low elevation tea that tasted better.

It’s got subtle florals with a wisp of nectar sweetness but lacks depth and fullness. Fairly thin and doesn’t go for many steeps.

The bad weather in Taiwan this past winter may be partly to blame here but in general, Dayuling seldom seems to justify the hype.

Flavors: Cream, Green Apple, Jasmine, Pear, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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91

Sipdown, though not much of an achievement since this was just a sampler. This was a very good Bi Luo Chun – spinachy and herbaceous with a peppery arugula note. Onto the spring version of this tea now to see how it compares.

Flavors: Grass, Herbaceous, Lettuce, Pepper, Spinach

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 96 ML

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86

It’s a sunny 81 F in Chicago today and the summer like weather makes this lockdown feel a little less miserable. It also calls for cold brew which is what I did with my last spoonful of this tea. This reminded me of peach cobbler. It has a sweet, jammy peach flavor with some brown sugar notes and a slight roasted edge.

Flavors: Peach

Preparation
Iced 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
gmathis

We’re enjoying a short stretch of 80’s, too; then back into sweatshirts and blankies for Easter weekend. That sounds like it would be lovely on ice with a little mint.

LuckyMe

Mint sounds like a great flavor combo, enjoy the warm weather while it lasts :-)

gmathis

Went a little nuts at the local nursery while it was still open. On deck for this summer’s growing pleasure: apple mint (my favorite), spearmint, and lemon mint

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90

The quarantine sipdown continues. This is another good Baozhong from TTC though a notch below the winter harvest. I steeped it grandpa style as usual with Baozhongs. Nice buttery lilac-y flavor accented with wildflowers, honey, and nectar. Hyacinth lingers in the mouth after it goes down. Some delicate vegetal tones settle in as it continues to steep. There was lots of broken leaf in here which affects how quickly it infuses but still avoids any bitterness.

Flavors: Flowers

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
tea-sipper

That’s it. I’m having a Bao Zhong tomorrow. :D

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81

Received this sample with my YS order almost a year ago. There’s no harvest date listed but most likely it’s from 2018 so this tea is already at least 2 years old. Black teas however seem less prone to going stale the way greens and oolongs do. In my experience, they tend to lose a little of that oomph but still remain quite drinkable.

This one has a rather generic Yunnan black profile. It’s smooth with a light malty flavor and a little sweet potato though not terribly earthy. The aroma is an interesting mix of malt, tobacco, grapes, and raisins – giving a hint as to what this might have tasted like at its peak. A good tea for blending but alright otherwise.

Flavors: Grapes, Malt, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 g 4 OZ / 124 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 many years ago and for a long time my experience was limited to Japanese greens and flavored Teavana teas. My tea epiphany happened when I discovered jade oolongs. That was my gateway drug to the world of high quality tea and teaware.

For the most part, I drink straight tea but do appreciate a good flavored tea on occasion. 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 have started to grow on me. I’m less enthusiastic about puerh though. I also enjoy white tea and tisanes but reach for them less frequently.

Other non-tea interests include: cooking, reading, nature, philosophy, 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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