Flavor and aroma descriptors are fascinating.
Take two people drinking the same batch of tea steeped for the same amount of time in the same cup and both could still pick up different nuances. Step beyond that though and think about some of them.
Tar. Granite. Compost.
Not many who say that a tea has these characters but even if they do you have to wonder, so… did you chew on some tar? Lick some granite? Perhaps it comes down more to the aroma seeping into ones nose and enveloping the liquid flavor? Why get so philosophical?
This tea is intense, that’s why. It teases with a toasty earthy aroma that quickly dissipates the moment th water is poured on the leaves. High minerality in flavor.
I probably did like a rock or two in middle school. Master Zhang has perfectly roasted this tea to create notes of honey that pair so deeply with the toast notes. Steeped for over three minutes and it gives me hints of bourbon! Stop playing with me!
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Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
“Mi Xiang” is literally honey fragrance, and a few sips give credence to the name. In other finishing styles, honey usually takes a backseat to more powerful florals and fruit flavors in Tieguanyin, but Master Zhang here has brought out the subtle, thick and rich honeyed quality of Tieguanyin through his precise roast. We have so much respect for Master Zhang’s values in roasting tea. So many workshops will roast to impart heavy handed roast flavor, and in doing so, burn their tea and compromise its original integrity. Master Zhang roasts slowly and with perfect precision so that even a tea this dark tastes only of itself and not of roasted flavor. The result is a tea full of honey, toast and oak, a cozy delight in cold months.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Stone Leaf Teahouse
Taiwan, Summer 2012
A medium bodied, roasted oolong from the famous mountains of San Lin Ci, near the traditional tea producing region of Lugu. This is a unique and hard to find variety of rolled Dong Feng Mei Ren, or Eastern Beauty. Yields a slightly earthy, sweet, and savory rose aroma with a smooth woody-bamboo body and a delightful lingering honey aftertaste. Energizing and strong with a bit of a bite.
Learn more about this tea here.
Gui Fei Cha from Stone Leaf Teahouse is a more earthy tea but the honey note is one of the first things I tasted and the note that tends to linger along with the rose. I do pick up on the floral aspect of this tea and it is reminiscent of rose but I would not really consider this a floral tea. This may sound strange to some, but the taste of the rose in this tea is more like the way a fresh rose scent lingers in the nostrils. It is clean, crisp, refreshing, but subtle. There is a very green leafy aspect to the rose note, but then rose has always been one of those aromas that is quite clean and refreshing so it comes over very well in the flavor note here. So okay I am one of those people who will try eating their tea leaves, and I am no different when it comes to flowers. I tend to want to taste them. Before you think I am a total freak consider please that I am very much into natural medicine, herbs, and natural perfumery, therefore really being one with the herbs, flowers, and plants I use is essential. Regardless, and aside from all my weirdisms, this tea is quite lovely in its floral nature, however I don’t want anyone to pass this tea up for its floral nature if you are not inclined to enjoy a floral tea – as there is so much more to this tea than its rose accent.
Gui Fei Cha has a wonderful note of bamboo, tropical rain soaked trees and plants, notes of honey and a slight spice note. And as for that bite as mentioned in the description, think of it like an astringency type of bite. Not bitter, but just this kick at the end of the sip.
The mouthfeel is on the heavier side but the finish of this tea on the palate is bright and cherry. It is truly a tea you can’t be in a crabby mood while sipping as it will lift you right up out of your funk and place you on a fluffy cloud and leave you floating gleefully. So if you are in a crabby mood and want to stay there – don’t sip this tea!
With each sip I feel a little smile creeping over my face and by the time I am tasting the lingering notes that are left behind the sip, I am beaming.
Now there is a darker side to this tea interestingly enough … some of these heavier notes of wood, of spice, the savory notes of fresh herbs from the garden, they tend to be very calming and grounding. So the after effect is a tea that brings you up and makes you feel joyful but keeps your core essence firm and secure. This could make it a very nice meditative tea perhaps, or a tea for those days you need a little boost of confidence, say before a presentation, or before a big date night because the tea is a little bit of mystery, a little bit of romance, and a little bit of strength and confidence all rolled into one.
Of course I always try to assign personalities to teas but that is how I feel about this one from Stone Leaf Teahouse and again, as always, they have a winner in this tea!