Just barely enough of this left from my original sample to have one more cup. I’m tasting the malt much more this time around, and though there was a fair bit of dust left in the bottom of the bag, the tea didn’t end up too bitter, and had a pleasing amount of astringency. I’d like to have this one around as a single variety black tea as I’ve found it versatile – good on its own, with cream and sugar, and withstands a variety of steeping parameters.
237 Tasting Notes
Time for another serving of the Darjeeling that’s not a Darjeeling, as I’m beginning to think of this one. It’s got a very similar caramel/muscatel scent and flavor to it, and today I tried to puzzle out how the two varieties differ. From what I’ve tasted so far, I think the Bai Lin Gong Fu has more of an earthy and starchy sweet potato-like sweetness to it, similar to what I’ve found in The Simple Leaf’s Dawn or Samovar’s Hawaii-Grown Black. I also think that the Darjeelings I’ve had have been a little more astringent than this tea, which is very smooth, even at fairly long first steepings (four to five minutes). One of these days I’ll have to do a side-by-side tasting and see what I find out.
I forgot that I had a little sample pack of coconut tea thrown in when I went shopping at Demmer’s a couple months ago, so it’s time to give this one a go. It’s dark leaf mixed with lots of little coconut bits, and definitely displays that distinctive and sweet aroma.
Five minutes of steeping and I’ve got a medium-dark liquor with a present but not overpowering coconut scent. I know I’m going to like this one better with cream and sugar, but I’ve got to try the first few sips straight up. The black tea base is malty and strong enough to stand up to the coconut, and the coconut itself is sweet without being toasty. Comparing it to Tea Frog’s Coconut Pouchong here, which has a great buttery texture to it and little bit of toastiness. Demmer’s coconut is milder and sweeter, and not as deeply flavored. With cream and sugar it’s much more like a dessert tea, sweet and rich, but still not super strong on the coconut flavor.
I’ve been drinking a fair bit of pu-erh lately, and this one still stands out. It has a sweeter, brighter flavor than most, without losing the earthy quality that draws me to this style of tea in the first place. There’s something almost fruity about it which I’m really enjoying, as well as a mildness which makes it easier for me to want multiple steeps. Nicely done.
The last portion of this sample, and this time I’m trying it at a slightly lower temperature to see how it turns out. I think it works well this way – the tartness is toned a bit, which helps the white tea flavor and texture make itself felt. I’m going to bump it up a few points based on these parameters.
Today’s warm rains have put me in the mood for a taste of the islands. Still sweet, starchy, rich and fragrant and a fantastic way to whisk myself away. A couple infusions today, each one wonderful. Once again I’m impressed by the size of the leaves as they unfold – they get up to several inches long and a couple inches across – and the pie-like aroma as it steeps. So good, so good.
Looking forward to this one, since I’ve had such an interesting time tasting Samovar’s other blends featuring lapsang. The smell of the dry leaf immediately brings to mind jerky; it’s clearly on the beefy/salty end of the scale.
Once steeped up, it’s a little milder in aroma than the other Samovar lapsang blends, perhaps because it doesn’t contain any other elements to compete with the smokiness. The first sip is surprisingly mild – it’s smokey all right, but not sitting next to a campfire smokey. It’s not as savory as I would have expected, but still very tasty. I drank the first half straight up, then added cream and sugar to see where it went from there. With the additives it’s considerably quieter in personality – this is one I think I’d prefer on its own.
Back to having this straight up (after a quick rinse in boiling water), as I had it last time with cream and sugar. I think I may have used too little leaf this time around, as it came out a little underwhelming compared to previous tastings. I still got strong earthiness, but the spicy territory it displayed before was missing. Slowly but surely I’ll come up with the ideal parameters for this one.
After being wowed by Samovar’s blends, it’s time to try one of their purebreds. The company’s notes remark on a raspberry flavor in this one, which definitely sounds enticing. The leaves are very dark, and have a light but distinct malty and fruity aroma.
The liquor is also dark, and has an unusually light scent after four minutes – just some hints of bread and jam. The first sip throws me a bit because it’s also very light. Yes, it’s black tea! But what else is wrapped up in there? I am searching for the elusive raspberry but not getting very close to it. I am finding a juicy feel that brightens up the flavor, and I like that a lot. As it cools flavors in the spice/malt direction are coming to the fore. It’s a very tasty cup, even if I can’t find the raspberry bushes…
Three infusions this afternoon of this gentle, sweet tea. Today’s highlighted flavor was sugar snap peas, mixed with hints of grass and just a tiny bit of astringency. I can definitely see ordering more of this when the sample runs out, as it’s a tea I consistently get a smile out of.
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Earl Grey – it was the first non-PBTB (plain black tea bag) I ever tried, many moons ago, and I instantly fell for it. Since I started expanding my horizons far and wide on the tea map though, I haven’t often come back to this old favorite.
This one is definitely welcoming me back into the Earl Grey fold with open arms. Instead of finding something you remember from long ago be smaller and less impressive when seen again in the present, this one is actually just as vivid, if not more so. The bergamot sings, and the black tea hums. A powerful and memorable duet.
Next to the last serving of one of my all-time favorite teas from my all-time favorite tea house. It’s vanilla with an overlay of malt and at least one other flavor I have a hard time fully ID’ing – could be brandy or whisky, or even pipe tobacco. Something sweet but sharp, heady and aromatic, and truly irresistible. Excellent with cream and sugar.
After a light lunch, this is serving as a very nice dessert cup, with the addition of cream and sugar. I’m really tasting the cashew this time around, and also noticing more astringency than I did last time around. No new orders though until I pare down my current cupboard to a more manageable size…
This one sounds really intriguing – blending lapsang and lychee again, but with bergamot and rooibos in the mix too. The dry leaf looks pretty much as one would expect, with a good proportion being rooibos and a smell that has both smoky and sweet notes.
Steeped up after four minutes, I’ve got a medium dark brown clear liquor that has a very complex scent – if I concentrate I can pick out all the elements, though the bergamot is the furthest in the background. The taste is similar to the lychee/Lapsang blend, but with the characteristic sweet/woody rooibos flavor along for the ride. Again, very little bergamot, just a shade I get now and then. I drank the whole cup without additives and think I’d probably prefer it that way than with cream and sugar. I enjoyed this one, but not as much as some of Samovar’s other varieties.
I have to give Samovar credit for coming up with blends that would never occur to me (like lychee and Lapsang) but end up being really good. This is another one – teaming up light, refreshing lemongrass with rich and spicy Yunnan. Before trying it I thought, “No way is this going to work!”, but it actually does. The high note of the herb and low note of the tea really play together well, each one highlighting the other’s strengths. It helps that the overall impression is smooth and mellow while at the same time fresh and uplifting. The scent captures both members of the team well.
It was nice watching it steep – the lemongrass floats on top of the water while the tea sinks to the bottom.
An afternoon pot of this tisane as a nice way to exit the work week. Today I’m tasting more of the honeydew melon in it along with the usual flavors I get from it, lemongrass and apple. One of these days I’ll have to try it iced and sweetened.
Picked up during a recent hotel stay and becoming part of today’s “wind-down Friday” routine. I’ve always associated chamomile with an apple scent and taste, and while this one has that element, it also features a sweet grass/hay note which is nice. It steeps up to a bright golden color, and smells very fresh and floral.
The taste is naturally sweeter than other chamomile I’ve tried, and I like that. It’s really juicy, especially as it cools down, and between that and the meadow-like smell, I’m finding it a very relaxing cup. I don’t think I’ve tried specifically Egyptian chamomile before, so maybe that’s where this nice blend of characteristics is coming from.
Working through several steeps on this cold and rainy afternoon, it is clear that this is becoming the “cup-a-soup” of my tea cupboard. It is rich and savory, to the point where it can sometimes feel like I’m drinking gravy or a hearty broth. I’m not in the mood for this style of tea very often, but when I am it really hits the spot.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.