559 Tasting Notes

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
559 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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100

So glad I bought another pouch of this tea, especially in the midst of this brutal cold spell that’s hit Chicago and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon (thanks Polar Vortex). The windchill was -15 F the other day and I knew my usual morning green tea or green oolong wasn’t going to cut it. I was craving something warm and toasty and this tea came to the rescue.

It’s been a year since I last had this tea which was picked nearly 3 years ago. Despite the age it was still mind-blowingly good. Credit to TTC’s hermetically sealed foil bags…I wish every company packed their tea like they do.

Grandpa steeped 1.3g of leaf in my 8oz mug @ 200 F. I was immediately greeted by that familiar yet delicious honeyed flavor. Nectar sweet with notes of wildflowers, toasted pine nuts, and caramelized minerals. As the tea steeps, wildflower honey gets mingled with a subtle bug bitten sweetness. A wonderful example of a skillfully roasted tea that brings out complex flavors without tasting roasty.

Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Mineral, Muscatel, Roast Nuts, Toasted

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 8 OZ / 236 ML
Courtney

We’re at -40 C here brrr. Also, I can’t seem to enjoy this one no matter how hard I try!

LuckyMe

@Courtney OMG, spring can’t come soon enough. I was honestly puzzled reading all of the negative reviews for this tea. The only explanation I find is I won the Gui Fei lottery and got the lone good batch from this picking.

Courtney

You must have! Mine is far too floral for me, sadly! I still have an unopened bag that I can’t bring myself to open and try haha!

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84

I was excited to try this tea as I haven’t had kukicha in ages. This sample was once again courtesy of Cameron who has been broadening my Japanese tea horizons.

Just looking at the leaves, I could tell this was different from the twiggy kukichas I’ve had before. In fact, it looked more like a standard Sencha with its mostly forestry green leaf and absence of any thick twigs and stems.

The leaves themselves have a very light grassy aroma but upon heating, emit a strong aroma of steamed asparagus. Sure enough, the asparagus came through in the first steep along with umami and edamame. The second infusion is kabusecha like and heavier on the grass. More specifically dry grass on a hot summer day. Last infusion was earthy with a light brothyness and notes of edamame and chestnut.

This was a really interesting tea that evolves over steeps. It’s decidedly more vegetal than Sencha and adds a unique spin on familiar flavor profile. This is a high grade kukicha that holds its own against any Japanese green.

Flavors: Asparagus, Chestnut, Dry Grass, Earth, Soybean, Straw, Umami

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 10 OZ / 300 ML
Cameron B.

Kukicha really is a huge range of different teas! The greener ones like this are a byproduct of matcha production. I’ve had the twiggy kind too and like both!

LuckyMe

Very cool, didn’t realize kukicha was such a broad spectrum. It’s definitely on my radar now!

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86

Mountain Stream Teas offers 3 different grades of this Li Shan. All of them sourced from the same farm and processed the same, but on different days. The earlier the picking the better the tea is supposed to be. This is their “B” grade which was picked 6 days after the first harvest.

It has similar floral-fruity aromatics as Pear Mountain A with added notes of dried peaches and orchid. I would not recommend following Mountain Stream’s steeping instructions though as I ended up ruining my first cup. Not every tea takes well to boiling water. Anyway, the steeped tea is buttery and thick with mild floral undertones. It leans slightly savory and at time edges towards bitterness which goes away once the water temperature is lowered. Overall, it’s smooth and buttery though not very complex or nuanced.

Now the ambient brew was a totally different story and super delicious. Creamy and elegant, with jasmine like florals and a fruity note akin to strawberry. It had such a clean, effervescent quality to it like fresh water from a mountain spring. I wish I had the finesse to coax out this same flavor from hot steeping.

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Jasmine, Orchid, Peach, Strawberry

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 2 OZ / 68 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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