Black Cat Bytes

Tea reviews for the common cat!


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What-Cha’s Taiwan Sheng Cha Oolong Tea

Hello, all! πŸ™‚ It’s hard to believe winter is so fast approaching! It’s certainly been a crazy year. As the nights draw on ever longer, I’ve been keeping close company with hot cups of tea and scary movies (don’t ask) to pass the time. Have you guys seen “The Babadook”?! HOLY NUGGETS! So good! Real, solid, suspenseful horror without any jumpscares. Hopefully it starts a trend of better scary movies.

Anyway! I’ve been happily sipping some of What-Cha’s Taiwan Sheng Cha today, and am eager to share my thoughts on this unique oolong with you fellow teacats. According to the package, this tea boasts an “unusual walnut-shell taste”, and admittedly is not a typical tea I would choose on my own- so a big thanks goes out to Alistair for including it as a sneaky little surprise in my order! πŸ™‚

Taiwan Sheng Cha Oolong

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As I open the packet, a toasty, barley-like scent rises from the leaves. You might not be able to immediately discern the notes of walnut, but if you know what you’re.. smelling for, the scent quickly becomes apparent and will cling to your nose long after taking a whiff. It’s strangely invigorating!

Shop Link: Taiwan Sheng Cha Oolong

Brewing Guidelines: 185 F / 85 C | 1-2 minutes | 1 tsp | 200 mL

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With the first steep, the leaves, tiny cannonballs at first, unfurl beautifully and will completely fill your brewing vessel. The quality of the tea What-Cha sources never ceases to amaze me.

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The light emerald-colored brew tastes rich and nutty, savory and sweet. It doesn’t taste quite as toasted as I was expecting, having more of a dominant sweet seaweed flavor instead, though that peculiar walnut flavor mischievously lingers.

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The second steeping results in a richer, more golden brew, with a stronger seaweed taste. I also seem to detect a flavor similar to soy sauce- this tea would be a perfect accompaniment to sushi! The drink is smooth and savory without any astringency, and (sadly) I don’t taste the walnut much anymore. Ultimately, Sheng Cha reminds me of a darkly roasted genmaicha: rich, savory, and filling. I loved the unexpected walnut taste and wish it had lasted longer, though its brevity encouraged me to really appreciate what I was tasting.

Check out Taiwan Sheng Cha Oolong for yourself!

Sip slowly, and enjoy the remainder of this chilly autumn, my friends. πŸ™‚

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What-Cha’s Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Dew Drops Green Tea

This grey, windy weather has been driving me mad! 😦 Recently I’ve found myself staring sadly out the window as if it was Christmas time I was waiting for Santa come- but it’s summer I crave! Spirit of Summer, I beg you ride your fiery chariot of sunshine and blisteringly hot weather across my sky sometime soon! PLS!! D:

Anyway, I’ve been keeping company with many a cup of green tea as of late, wildly daydreaming of warmer days. As such, today’s review will be on What-Cha’s Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Dew Drops Green Tea. Cue the sexy tea photos!!

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As you can see, this tea clearly lives up to it’s “dew drops” name. The shape of each leaf is gorgeous, and really has me wishing I had a glass gaiwan to watch them unfurl in (I’ve lost the lid from the one I’ve used previously) 😦 . Ali Express, here I come!

WhatCha suggests to brew the tea at 75 C- since my teapot will only heat up in increments of 10 degrees, I decided it would be best to try one infusion at 70 degrees, and the next at 80. For science!

1st Infusion

Brewing Temperature: 70 C

Leaf Amount/Steep Time: 1 tbsp per 400 mL of water/1.5 minutes

IMG_1772The resulting brew has a soft green and amber color, the perfect dreamy shade I had hoped for. The taste is perfectly simple- fresh and grassy with almost no aftertaste. The flavor is so sweet and refreshing.. it literally reminds me of the Windows XP default desktop from back in the day. πŸ˜€

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Awww yissss

I’ll be honest, if I had enough of this loose leaf to make a whoppin’ pitcher of iced tea- I would probably be a jerk about it and not share it with anyone.

2nd Infusion

Brewing Temperature: 80 C

Leaf Amount/Steep Time: 1 tbsp per 400 mL of water/2 minutes

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Decided to up the steep time slightly to allow the leaves to fully unfurl. The scent wafting off the brew was noticeably toasty and vegetal, and the tea’s flavors were much stronger than the first infusion with a slightly astringent aftertaste. It was still delicious, but I loved the clean taste of the first steep far more.

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Thoughts

When in doubt, definitely stick with a cooler brewing temperature! I found Nepal 2014 Dew Drops to be a deliciouslyΒ  sweet and mild grassy brew- exactly what I want in a summery green tea. No frills and no fuss here, just simple and fantastic flavour. πŸ™‚ I hope you’ll give it a go!

If you’re interested in trying this tea (it is on sale right now!), I urge you to order it from What-Cha within the next month. To quote What-Cha’s website:

“A devastating earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday, killing over 4,500 at the current count. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and in desperate need of aid to help the injured and rebuild the country.

What-Cha has a close connection to Nepal as one of the first countries we sourced our tea from and we want to do our part to help Nepal by pledging to donate 50% all Nepali tea revenue for the rest of April and May, to the British Red Cross Nepal Earthquake Appeal.”

Enjoy great tea at an awesome price, and help give aid to those in Nepal who most desperately need our support. It’s a win-win!

Check out Nepal 2014 Dew Drops Green Tea here!


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What-Cha Tea’s Nepal First Flush 2014 Emerald Green Tea

Hi there wonderful readers! Apologies for my recent delay in putting out new reviews- I’ve been in England since January and I’ve been a busy little bee in this wonderfully soggy country! Cat sitting, house renovating, fried bread making, and castle exploring are just a few of the things on my perpetual to-do list since arriving here. πŸ˜› Can’t tell you how much I’ve missed writing reviews and tasting new teas, and I’m so happy that things have finally quieted down to the point where I can settle in and get writing again. That said, today I’m going to be having a look at What-Cha Tea’s Nepal First Flush 2014 Emerald Green Tea! Despite being such a well loved tea company of /r/tea, this is the first time I’ve ever tried What-Cha’s tea for myself! Exciting stuff! IMG_0122

This review will be a bit different to my previous posts- unfortunately I did not think to bring my gongfu-style teapot with me from the States, so I brewed this tea both with a standard Western teapot and Grandpa style in a hotel coffee cup (my tea goes everywhere with me :P) and my observations will be based on those methods.

As I opened the package, I was immediately taken back by the light, airy quality of the leaves- their unprocessed look resembles white tea far more than most greens I’ve seen before. The first time i brewed this tea was in a ~2 cup teapot, steeping 3 heaping teaspoons of leaves for approximately three minutes. The flavor was subtlety fruity and smooth, with very few vegetal or grassy notes- I was reminded of Pai Mu Tan (White Peony) or a similarly sweet white tea. Yum!

IMG_0122Brewing the tea grandpa style for roughly two minutes brought out quite a different flavor profile, to my surprise. The first sip was dominated by nutty and sweet flavors with fruity notes becoming the aftertaste. As the leaves unfurled more fully in the cup after an extra minute on the second steeping, both flavors became stronger but retained their previous prevalence. While using the leaves a third time, I accidentally left them to steep for over ten minutes, though the resulting brew had no bitterness! However, the nutty taste of the tea now easily overpowered any lingering suggestions of fruitiness even as an aftertaste. Subsequent steepings produced the same results.

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Simply stated, this tea is a pleasure to drink and can be prepared as simply or as complex as you have the desire for and will still produce delicious results. If more care and precision is taken with its preparation, it is easy to coax out the fruity and slightly floral subtleties of the leaves, but the resulting tea is still a pleasure to drink even the leaves are thrown into a teacup and left to steep. This Emerald Green Tea is a delightful departure from the grassy vegetal taste of many green teas I’ve tried, and its light, sweet flavor along with its forgiving steep time makes it a perfect introduction to greens for a loose-leaf beginner.