237 Tasting Notes

87
drank Ancient Gold by Samovar
237 tasting notes

Another Samovar sampler – something strong to start the day with. The leaves are mixed dark and golden, cut into medium-small pieces. They smell of spice and roastiness, and just a hint of earth or perhaps smoke. Perfect for a fall day!

After four minutes, the liquor could fool the casual onlooker into thinking it was coffee. It’s got that same dark brown, can’t see the bottom of the cup hue to it. The aroma is malty, spicy, and sweet all at the same time, which I find very promising.

The taste has an engaging mix of elements. There’s a breadiness, cinnamon at the back of the throat, and a top note which reminds me of dried cherries. I also get a little catch on each swallow as the residual bitterness (not strong, but it is there) passes down my gullet. The main flavors though for me are bread/yeast and spice. I’m out of cream at the moment so I won’t be trying it with additives, which is fine – it’s very enjoyable as is.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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96
drank Jasmine Pearls by Canton Tea Co
237 tasting notes

This is such a nice, well-rounded tea. The pearls are a delight to watch as they unroll in the water, the liquor is a light golden hue, the aroma is redolent of jasmine without being cloying, and the taste is smooth, sweet, and just the right amount of floral.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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88
drank Yunnan Golden Buds by Samovar
237 tasting notes

I’m enchanted by the look of this tea, both in its dry leaf and liquid forms. The leaves are long, thin and twisty, and very, very golden in color. Never seen anything quite like it before. The aroma is very light, just a little sweet and caramel note.

It looks like others have gone two ways on steeping this up: either 175 or boiling. I went for 175 because it felt like this was a good tea for erring on the side of caution. The resulting liquor is a beautiful dark honey color, with a corresponding sweet smell.

Flavor – at first I’m surprised by how subtle it is. With comparisons to other teas that exhibit sugar/caramel/sweet potato flavors, I was expecting big leaps in those directions, and instead got baby steps. Still there, make no mistake – I can taste the burnt sugar and earthy elements, but it’s all scaled back to a much lower volume. Once I get used to that, I really enjoy this tea and understand the devotion others feel towards it!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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57
drank Plum Berry by Rishi Tea
237 tasting notes

One more cup of tea to round out the workday, this time a white/fruit blend. As I noted in a previous review, the fruit flavors outweight the tea, but stop short of becoming too tart to be enjoyable. It’s not a knock-my-socks-off cup, but a good wind down choice with a pleasant flavor.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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81

Another go with this one, which came in the Canton Tea Co sampler pack. I wanted to give it a try with cream and sugar this time, but first had a regular infusion of two minutes in boiling water. I noticed in particular this time how clear the liquor is compared to many other pu-erhs I’ve tried, which often turn out cloudy. And though pu-erh is known for being earthy, I find this variety to be earthier than average, which I like.

Second infusion was four minutes, and I put in a little sugar and cream. The tea started out smooth and naturally sweet, so adding these elements made it a very rich-tasting cup. The aftertaste was great, still very earthy but at the same time not at all overwhelming. Probably not for everyone, but I enjoyed it this way.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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75
drank Lychee Black by Samovar
237 tasting notes

Samovar sampler pack – rather nondescript black loose leaf, with a nice sweet and floral aroma from the lychee. It steeps up to a medium dark clear brown liquor which has a light sweet smell to it, no longer immediately recognizable as lychee. The first taste is more floral than anything else, and if someone told me this was rose tea I’d believe them. It’s quite mild, with very little astringency or bitterness even after a fairly decent steep.

With cream and sugar, the flavors are most present in the aftertaste, where it’s now finally starting to really come through as lychee flavor rather than rose or generic “floral”. It’s lighter tea than I expected, but still very enjoyable.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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50
drank Chamomile Lemon by Numi Organic Tea
237 tasting notes

Winding down a busy week, so I’m sticking with tisanes today. This is the last Numi sample bag I picked up somewhere along the way, and it feels like time to try it. The smell is straightforward chamomile/lemon, and it steeps up into a apple juice-colored liquor with a pleasant herbal aroma.

The taste is not surprising or unexpected – it’s chamomile, and lemon, and it’s pleasant enough. The two flavors go together well with the apple-like quality of the chamomile and citrus high note of the lemon myrtle, but it doesn’t make me crave more.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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91
drank Bai Lin Gong Fu by Canton Tea Co
237 tasting notes

Second tasting of this sample from Canton Tea – this time I’m really struck by the sweet, dried fruit aroma of the dry leaf. The liquor steeps up to a lighter brown; between that and the lighter color of the leaves themselves I’m really reminded of the Darjeeling style.

The tea is so wonderfully sweet, and lacks any astringency or bitterness. The flavor is deep in fruit and has a little malt too, and I’m once more getting an aftertaste reminiscent of dried peach/apricot, as I did last time. Straight up, it is such a soothing and delicious cup that I don’t think I’ll be trying it with additives for fear of losing any of its best traits.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Tabby

This sounds really interesting. Might have to check it out!

Adham

One way to think of it – if you like Darjeeling, this would be a nice side-step from that style.

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92

I love vanilla and am picky about teas that include it. I have fairly high expectations going into this one since Samovar seems to be angling more at the high end of the tea market. The dry leaf is very dark and has noticeable snips of vanilla bean mixed in, which is a good sign, but the aroma is not as deeply soaked in the spirit of vanilla as others I’ve tried, most notably Mariage Freres.

After four minutes I have a dark brown liquor with a pleasant level of vanilla scent. I almost always put cream and sugar in vanilla tea, but I’ll taste this first without to see what comes across. The tea base is quite strong, with quite a bit of astringency but lots of vanilla too. There are malty and spicy notes in there, pepper and nutmeg. With cream and sugar, the vanilla really blooms. It all works really well together to create a hot vanilla malt-like experience which is very tasty. High marks!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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85

Second try at this tea, and I’m starting off with a longer first steep, 2.5 minutes, than I tried last time. Maybe this was the key to unlocking more enjoyment of this time, because I’m getting a much more floral scent and a rounder, fuller flavor of green vegetables and fruit juice, with a noticeable background of natural sweetness. Better this way so I’m bumping up the score a bit.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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Bio

Grandma introduced me to tea as a kid (lipton with milk and sugar; a bit poured into the saucer to cool it down and then sipped from there), and I’ve never looked back. Still have a slight preference for teas that go well with milk (or even better, cream) and sugar, but since Grandma’s day I’ve branched out to appreciate green and white teas, rooibos and pu erh. Absolutely love Mariage Freres!

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Washington, DC

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