596 Tasting Notes
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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