106 Tasting Notes

I have had an awful lot of black tea lately, I’m not sure how this happened… I think I’ve had something like six different black teas in the past week and that’s roughly perhaps half of the ones I’ve acquired this past couple of weeks somehow. Anyway, moving on, got this in the $5 sampler that WP is now offering to try their teas, awesome deal.

Threw about 4.5 grams in an autobrewer since my attempts at gong fu black tea so far have been a bit discouraging (I think I may be too heavy a steeper). This had a nice, surprisingly floral scent coming from the leaves, which were a bit moist feeling and yet a bit crunchy as well, very unique and pretty. The liquor was an attractive orange brown, the taste was a surprisingly moderate malt flavor that shifted into chocolate with a malt body as you sipped. There was a definite flavor of sweet potato or yam in the second steep along with that touch of raw sour that seems to accompany black tea and potato. The aroma turned floral again, surprisingly, around the third steep, and it became lighter, with a bit of hay. I probably could have pushed it more, but ran out of time and ended this there. I’m going to have to revisit the rest of my sample with a gaiwan soon to see what all I missed out on.

Overall, it was quite pleasant and much lighter than I’ve come to expect of black tea, not to mention the surprisingly floral aromas I caught. I’ll need to revisit my other samples to see if this is due to the auto brewer or a character of this tea. There is indeed quite a bit of buzzy energy from this tea, though (either that or a helluva lot of caffeine), as I was a bit frenetically enthusiastic and dropped the lid to my pot a couple of times (thankfully not far) while refilling after the second cup.

Additional note amendment, when you push it past three steeps in a gaiwan, it really opens up a crazy sweet sweet potato/yam flavor explosion in the back of the mouth and throat I was NOT expecting on steep 4 as I thought the flavor was fading in the third steep. Floral tastes start standing out late game as well, flavor is more delicate overall. I quite preferred the later steeps, honestly, especially as they lent well to the heavy steeping my intuition generally wants, haha

Flavors: Cocoa, Floral, Hay, Malt, Sweet Potatoes

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 11 OZ / 325 ML

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I used about 4.5 grams to 11 oz of water in a Smacha autobrewer (feeling lazy today). This brewed a beautiful deep orange color with a malty spiced aroma. It turns almost neon orange on the second steep, crazy color.

Taste was a good balance of black tea malty body with a pinch of cinnamon, cocoa nibs, and a light creamy character. Nicely balanced and aftertaste of something kind of like sweet potatoes, although a bit bitter and raw in later steeps, closer to raw potato. A nice, pleasing tea to get you started on a rainy day.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cocoa, Creamy, Malt, Sweet Potatoes

3 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Fake Mead by Liquid Proust Teas
106 tasting notes

Interesting aroma, more floral than I was expecting for a black. The first hot steep I had was on the short side, about 1 minute, and it was a light, sweet taste, similar in base profile to Darjeelings and Nepal grown oolong teas I’ve had before from Teabox, although with a heavier floral scent, more body with a bit of malt, a hint of beeswax, and honey-like sweetness to the smell. Second hot steep I left for much longer, maybe three to five minutes. Somewhat less sweet, more malt this round, but a little more of a beeswax taste, still a predominately floral body.

The cold brewed version I made (as recommended to try with this tea on the outer packaging, :P) of this (about 17 g per 2 liters for ~10 hours) was stronger with a hardier, more bitter body (which I thought was actually a good bitter) and low (almost no) sweetness, but had a much deeper flavor, bordering on fruity. Very refreshing. Astringency was somewhere between mild and moderate for the hot steeps, quite low for the cold brew.

Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Perfume, Sweet

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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5 grams to ~90 ml with ~200 F water, +/- 5 degrees. A darker yellow gold liquor than the Spring and Autumn from the basics set, it appears to be slightly cloudier as well. Initial aroma smelled of honey sweet grass, although the taste had only a touch of sweet to it. The first steep was thin, almost, with a lingering sweet note I enjoyed.

Second steep may have been for too long as it definitely hit a bit hard with the bitter tobacco taste and astringency. Third steep was overwhelming tobacco, bitter, and astringency—my best succinct description of the taste of the later steeps is if you took tobacco, stuffed it into an old shoe for a day, lit the shoe on fire, waited a minute to rescue the contents and then were to brew the results into a flavor. I tried a couple more steeps just to see where this went from here, the answer was not very far. With short-ish steeps, the tobacco bitter becomes tolerable, but still a predominant note. A little more hay and light, but nothing I particularly enjoyed.

The aftertaste was a nice, smooth pu erh savory taste. So far, I’d say I preferred it over the Spring 2015, which I had a hard time noticing much else besides the raw/sour bitter and the tart astringency. The Autumn had some of that raw edge still as well, but definitely more mellow with some sweeter characteristics and grass hay tastes becoming stronger, although still not something I’d want to drink for pleasure. The Huangpian was less of an immediately enjoyable flavor to the others even, but is something heavier, with more depth and flavors that I am more curious about to see what the magic of time does to it.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Grass, Honey, Smoke, Tobacco

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

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drank Little Red by white2tea
106 tasting notes

Amazing bitter dark, dark chocolate aroma. Taste does NOT taste like chocolate whatsoever, really, despite the aroma, :(. It has strong malt base, color is not as dark as I would have expected from the smell. Definite earthy bitterness (almost musty in the same way very dark chocolate starts to taste like musty dirt), but it doesn’t really increase across steeps and is very manageable, the taste was kind of similar in profile to mild/moderate strength coffee in a lot of ways in my opinion. Didn’t really get much cumin or cinnamon until the fifth steep (started catching a tingle of cinnamon or something on the tongue at that point). Held up a lot better to resteeping than the other two I tried so far.

I think what I’m starting to learn from this month’s White2Tea club is I don’t really like black/red tea very much, heh.

Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Malt, Musty

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 90 OZ / 2661 ML

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Beautifully clear golden liquor with a strong savory pu erh scent. I really enjoyed this one, it had a good, meaty mushroom/earthy flavor throughout most of the steeps that really accented the sour apricot/stone fruit flavors that showed up in the middle.

At ten grams per ~90-100 ml, this had a nice savory, cleaaaan mineral body that served as a good background for the plethora of interesting flavors that played across the steeps—I detected a bit of smoke and some wood at the beginning, something like barley and mushrooms and earth in the early to middle steeps, and then various stone fruit, sour apricot, and hay for much of the rest, emphasizing the mild sweetness.

Many of these flavors revisited and played in and out in various strengths and roles with some mild to moderate astringency across steeps. Not much of a body buzz, but it had a nice relaxing energy.

Flavors: Earth, Hay, Metallic, Mineral, Mushrooms, Smoke, Sour, Stonefruit, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

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drank Swann's Way by Liquid Proust Teas
106 tasting notes

The dry leaves are aesthetically fun and autumn looking with a syrup and toasted nut smell. The liquor is a rich dark liquid that lightens to amber shades in later steeps with a delicious aroma that really screams maple syrup to me.

The taste is a full and rich body that isn’t as heavy as a standard black tea and a lip licking full sweetness that doesn’t taste like the maple syrup it smells like, haha. My first impression, in fact, was the sweet, warm comfort of a blanket next to a fireplace on a rainy autumn day. Which was pretty awesome. But, this was actually a complex enough tea that I’m still noticing new things every time I decide to have a session with it, mainly in the way the flavors play in and out and with each other.

Things that consistently stood out to me as strong pros were the meaty nut fullness, even up through the sixth steep, the depth and richness of the black tea base which manages longer staying power and a lack of bitterness I’ve been seeing in other blacks when resteeped a few times. Resteeps well and good balance of flavors, with the varying highlights per steep making for a pleasant change with each pour.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt, Nuts, Toast

Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Wild Tree Black by white2tea
106 tasting notes

Second, back to back with Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Spring 1 for comparison (shout out White2Tea club, :P!). Much more tempered, lighter malt aroma compared to the Spring1, hints of wood and mineral. A pretty, but confusing shade of red orange or orange red, it is less cloudy than the Spring1 as well.

Much smoother in taste than the Spring1 with a shockingly sweet back of the throat taste comparatively. Still malty, but more rich chocolate in tone with a mineral fullness (not getting any pine, really though, despite the description…), much more enjoyable than the Spring1. More noticeable astringency due to the taste, but not really that much overall. Slight hint of bitterness to the aftertaste, becoming stronger with increasing steeps again.

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Mineral, Sugar, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

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drank Wild Tree Black by white2tea
106 tasting notes

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Rich aroma with strong chocolate tones. Beautifully bright red orange color with a hint of opacity. Leaf is black and long, a little twisted. Flavorwise, strong and rich with a malty base and a hint of pine at the back. Earthy vegetal taste (yam?), surprisingly bitter and raw aftertaste to the back of the throat that gets stronger in later steeps, perhaps due to it being processed only about 3 weeks ago (kind of starts approaching the taste of dirt and 100% dark chocolate, honestly). Overall, quite bracing. Not a lot of astringency, but what’s there lingers in the wake of the bitterness with a bit of a cool tingle.

Lazy, so I’m putting my notes for Spring 2 here too:

Spring 2 was definitely the better of the two. The leaves were floral in aroma over the standard malt, which is a trend I’m starting to notice with some of the higher quality blacks. The liquor was a more orange, less red color than many black teas. Still had quite a bit of a raw, sour potato quality that the Spring 1 had, although less intense (I’m guessing this is due to how new these teas are at a few weeks, as it also exudes a rather exuberant energy despite/because of this). This may be more due to my having more practice at brewing blacks, though, at this point then the teas themselves…

Anyway, the yam flavor is definitely stronger and more prominent on this one. It stands out and perseveres throughout the steeps, although the malty, earthy cocoa-ish profile is here as well and most prominent in the beginning, giving way to that really distinct earthy sweet tuber-ish taste after a couple of steeps.

It was interesting and more pleasant to drink than Spring 1 with a lighter taste overall and better balance of flavors, I can see why it’s higher quality. I’ll have to try the Spring 1 again tomorrow just to make sure this is a fair assessment, though, haha.

Flavors: Chocolate, Earth, Malt, Pine, Potato

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Favorite Tea Type: Darker oolong and sheng puerh

Rating Scale:

90-100: Amazing. Will buy and keep on hand all the time if finances and circumstances allow.

80-89: Strong argument for keeping it around all the time, even more than the prospect of trying more new tea. It’s that good.

70-79: Pretty solid. Glad I tried it, several factors that were unique or that I highly enjoyed.

60-69: Nothing that stands out for the most part, but with a quality or two that speaks to me.

50-59: Fairly run of the mill, pleasant but not much more to be said.

40-49: Something here is off putting in an otherwise decent tea.

30-39: There are a few things wrong with this tea. I did not enjoy.

20-29: Disliked this, could maybe see something, some redeeming quality in it others might find worth drinking without spitting back out.

10-19: Begin to question whether any tea is actually, in fact, better than no tea.

0-9: This causes actual food poisoning.



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