308 Tasting Notes

Backlog from Thursday night, since my computer was Down With the Sickness.

THIS is the oolong I effed up the first time I tried it! So I attempted it once more the other night after I got home from work. Recently, I found this article that’s actually from Verdant Tea’s website, written by David Duckler. It’s about how to best enjoy tasting a tea, and I found it so enlightening that I’ll leave it here if you haven’t seen it: http://verdanttea.com/how-to-taste-tea/ What hit home the most with me is that, rather than being the Tea Critic who jumps to figure out what I’m tasting, how it compares to what I’m told is in it, and how highly I would rate the tea, the most important thing is just being present in the experience of the tea and enjoying what I’m drinking.

With that article in mind, I took a bit of time to do some gaiwan brewings and tastings of this oolong. This time, I used a thermometer to gauge the water temperature so that I was sure I did not burn it.

I’m not sure I liked the tea itself, it reminds me too much of other oolongs I’m not crazy about, but it was a very enjoyable experience. I did four steepings. The first two had a roasty, slightly “burnt” flavor, but I did find that on the third steeping, the roastiness had subsided and I was getting more of the fruity/floral tone. I’ve rarely had luck with multiple steepings, so I enjoyed finally being able to discern a difference. I also enjoyed smelling the flavor of the wet tea leaves in the nose cup, if that’s what you call it.

But my favorite part about doing gaiwan steepings, honestly, is the auditory experience. Working in a music store, I relish the lack of background noise that I get in a quiet room (we live in what I’d call a rural suburb, so it is possible to achieve complete silence.) There’s something about the sequence of pouring water and the little clacking of the lid on the cup that’s exquisitely soothing, in this way I can’t really describe. I think I would quite enjoy having a whole gongfu set, which I plan on putting on either a birthday or Christmas wish list.

So the tea? Eh. The tasting? Mmm!

keychange

Oh, thanks for sharing that link. And I completely agree with you about the auditory experience and how important it is. As someone who’s blind, sound (and smell) matter a great deal to me.

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drank Anastasia by Kusmi Tea
307 tasting notes

Pretty sure this is the last of the untried samples from Nicole – thank you!

For once, I made sure I didn’t underleaf the tea. However, this is still really mild for some reason. I might have understeeped? I’m kind of getting the bergamot flavor but not really (it’s more prominent in the aroma.) It’s more some vague mix of floral/citrus tones. I can’t help thinking it reminds me a bit of soap.

Underwhelmed. I can see how people would find this enjoyable, but its personality isn’t quite pronounced enough for me.

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98

This is a backlog from Friday because Cup 2 proved my review of Cup 1 to be a boldfaced lie. :P And 1) my computer was Down With the Sickness and 2) I was busy helping my parents last-minute clean the house for a rare visitor. For the longest time, my parents were self-conscious about the house, but since we’ve gotten a lot of things redone, it’s a much nicer-looking place.

You know how I said I couldn’t taste the Dian Hong flavor progression? Lies! Once the tea had the chance to cool and mellow a bit, I realized the brightness I was getting at the beginning of the sip was partly due to that Bailin Bongfu-esque earthiness, which tastes slightly citrusy or something when you have rose flavoring. As it stays on the tongue, it does darken and malten (it’s a real word now!), you just still have that floral overtone. And even that mellows out a bit as it cools. It’s really quite a pleasant cup. I’m considering it for a restock once the sample’s gone.

But my favorite part? The wet leaves with the rosebuds. They really do smell like roses!

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98

Writing this on my phone because my computer is Down With The Sickness. Oh nooooo…

There are little rose buds in the tea! Not just leaves, but full-on rose buds. It’s precious! I even had to show my mom. Apparently rose hips are a source of Vitamin C?

The dry leaves definitely smell sweet and rose like; the tea smells like a sweet Dian Hong. The flavor of the rose is unexpectedly bright. It’s kind of perfume-like, but there’s also some vegetable it’s reminding me of. There is maltiness late in the sip, but besides that I really don’t get the Dian Hong chameleon-flavor in this tea, although I can tell it’s a black base.

No numbers for now. This may be one to get used to.

Cavocorax

Sounds interesting!

I hope your computer recovers! :O /0\

TeaKlutz

Thanks, me too! :/

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88
drank Mi Xian Black by Butiki Teas
307 tasting notes

Sipping down my sample from Nicole this morning.

It’s been an odd morning – slept really hard and had weird dreams, woke up tired even though I slept for 8.5 hours, it’s rainy as heck, and I was going to practice my bass but then decided at the last minute that I should probably help get the house ready for my friend coming over tomorrow.

I underleafed it again. Good thing I’ve still got some wet leaves to resteep for work. This flavor is exactly the bold, smooth, comforting thing I need this morning. I’m so glad tomorrow’s Friday.

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80
drank Earl Grey Cream by Zen Tea
307 tasting notes

Earl Grey Cream? Good LORD it’s Earl Grey Cream! Smell it out of the bag and the first thing I smell is CREAM! Super super sweet CREAM!

I have more of this tea than I originally intended. I was just going to buy a little bit, but then shipping was $5, and I didn’t know/see that other samples would be included, so I bought a bigger bag. I read several reviews on Steepster to find the highest rated EGC, and this one swept them away.

I’m trying to decide how I feel about this tea. The bergamot is pretty punchy, and the vanilla is REALLY REALLY SWEET, and the two flavors put together are kind of like that photo of Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon shaking hands:

http://images.usatoday.com/life/_photos/2007/01/08/nixon.jpg

OK so drinking tea is a little more fun than they look like they’re having. But like, the two flavors both have such distinctive reputations and personalities, but put together with both flavors turned up to the max, it’s a bit of an awkward combo, at least to my tastebuds. I think it’s the vanilla’s fault; it’s a little too sweet for me. Which was what I was afraid would happen. Maybe it’s something I’ll get used to, but I think I prefer Mahamosa’s version.

I feel like I’m the Simon Cowell of Steepster Idol! I keep having cynical things to say about teas everyone else raves about!

That said, however, I have a side question. Pumpkin flavored teas. I want access to pumpkin flavored beverages without always having to go to Starbucks for their pumpkin spice latte, which I find delicious. What are your recommendations? I’ve heard numerous good things about Butiki’s Pumpkin Creme Brulee.

Dexter

Of the ones I’ve tried, Della Terra Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie was my favorite. Tealux Pumpkin Spice Rooibos is really good but is more cantaloupe than pumpkin. Fusion Tea Pumpkin Mate is good, but the mate isn’t the best base (but I like it better than their rooibos). Sleepy Hollow Pumpkin Chai – Culinary Teas is too spicy, drowns out the pumpkin. Butiki Pumpkin Creme Brulee didn’t taste like anything (but I know others loved it). Davids Pumpkin Chai had candies in it, and I found that made it taste artificial to me – again others really like it. I’ve tried two from 52teas, and thought they were pumpkin pie spice, but without the pumpkin flavor. That’s all I can think of right now. This is just MHO, you will need to try a few to find what works for you. Good Luck :))

Anna

The Presley/Nixon thing really cracked me up. I wish I got the Cowell feeling – I tend to mostly get very paranoid when I despise a much beloved tea; ‘Am I wrong? Are they wrong? Is this the right tea? Are these people BOTS?!’.

Anna

Also wow, Dexter, that’s a good list!

Fjellrev

That really is a great post, Dexter! I found the same with the ones that I have tried, but never bothered with Della Terra’s Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie since I thought it may be too close to David’s Pumpkin Chai. But now you have me thinking otherwise!

TeaKlutz

Thanks, Dexter! Now, which one to try first? :D

Anna, don’t worry, I feel the exact same way that you do a lot. There are one or two teas in particular that everyone else considers the Nectar of the Gods that I find absolutely disgusting, and I can’t help wondering, "What am I doing wrong?!? Are we even drinking the same tea? "

Terri HarpLady

I love the Simon reference. I’ve been feeling a bit like Simon as I work my way through the Here’s Hoping Traveling Tea Box (HHTTB). I’ve had very few nice things to say about any of the teas I tried, & I keep reminding myself that (with some obvious exceptions), most of the teas in there are people’s rejects.

Terri HarpLady

The love of my life, Tony, doesn’t hardly ever like any of my teas, & I don’t care much for his favorites either. But we are each entitled to our own opinions, & as I pointed out a long time ago, disagreeing doesn’t make anybody wrong! What’s right for me just isn’t right for him, & I can live with that! We can agree to disagree :)

Tea Sipper

Nixon and Elvis shaking hands. I think this tea will remind me of that now! haha.

For pumpkin, my favorite is Della Terra’s Grandma’s pumpkin pie because they put something like dried canned pumpkin pie filling in it!

Dexter

Wow, how did I miss the rest of these comments. Thanks guys, I too am questing for the best pumpkin tea. I keep trying them. I’ve ordered more of Della Terra Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie – it’s the current winner, and I added some of the chocolate pumpkin pie. I’ve also arranged a swap for some of Harney & Sons Pumpkin Spice. Will see how those go.
I think it’s AMAZING how different people have different experiences with teas. I agree with Terri that it doesn’t make anyone right or wrong, they just have different opinions. That’s one of the things I LOVE about Steepster is seeing those differences.
My pumpkin tea experience may be different than yours. I might hate a tea because it’s too spicy, but that spiciness might be what makes you love it. Best advice, try as many as you can – don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. Enjoy the teas that you love. :))

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85

Backlog from this morning.

One of the samples from Nicole again. Was more careful about proper leafage this time, as well as only steeping it for 3 minutes. It was better. More honey-esque Assam-y flavor as well as more body. I dunno, I read things about Assams and I haven’t found one that matches up to my mental image of what I get when I read those things. I keep picturing a REALLY boldly malty and rich cup, and all the ones I’ve tried are not as bold or as malty as what I imagine. Then again, I haven’t tried all the Assam samplers I have yet… :D

keychange

I know what you meana bout not finding one that has matched up with your idea of what it ought to taste like given reviews and such. I’ve found I enjoy my assam a lot more when I steep it for like, ten minutes (I had butiki’s PTA this morning and did just that, and it worked wonders).

Nicole

Yeah, you might give Butiki’s Assams a try. 10 minutes on this one would probably be enough to pucker wood. :) Hattiali Golden Lion Assam from Butiki is pretty fab.

Nicole

Might also look for tippy Assams. I sometimes find those to be maltier.

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88

Wait a minute I logged this before? When??? I don’t remember this tasting note. I remember there was one oolong I tried to do, but I crapped it up so much I didn’t even bother with a tasting note, and I thought this was it. Apparently not, because it appears I’ve rated the damn thing, and quite highly too. Argh! My short-term memory SUCKS!

I’ve found I don’t much care for the roasty-oolong flavor I get a lot, so I did this for about 1 min 15 sec (especially since the water was still a little on the hot side.) It’s quite pleasant. I need to stop comparing everything to bai mu dan, but honestly, that’s what it makes me think of out of the other teas I’ve tried. It’s grassy, but it’s also a little floral and sweet in a delicate, enjoyable way. A bit of brightness on top of that sweetness too, in a way I really can’t quite define. I’m wondering what would happen if I tried it for a little longer?

Also, for the love of god, somebody please start reminding me to use bottled and/or filtered water for my tea. I’ve been trying to be more careful with all the other variables in my tea-making, but for some reason, water is the one element people talk about making a big difference, and I’ve just always been kind of punk rock about it. We get well water out here, or we used to, and I’ve found it to be the most “neutral” tasting of the waters I’ve tried, but I’ve never given really good filtered water a try.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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34
drank Arabian Night by Zen Tea
307 tasting notes

It’s busy season at work, and as of today it’s gone from “this is busy but manageable and surprisingly fun” to “this is busy and I’m starting to get really mad and I want to yell at someone.” So it’s what I call #@%&$! Tea Time.

This is a sample that Zen Tea Life sent along, and I will never complain about getting free samples, especially ones I don’t expect! The dry leaves smell AMAZING. It’s this fresh, floral, citrusy thing that Cher-slaps you and says, “Snap out of it. You are GOING to relax now.” The tea, however, falls a little short. The thing is, the flavors are all so distinct from one another that when you put them together, it winds up tasting like something that’s not really any of them. It tastes like an artificial version of the dry leaf smell. Then, right before the end of the sip, this slightly cherry-cough-syrup note comes in and it’s not at all present in the dry leaf aroma. And the aftertaste… it’s some weird combo of the cherry-cough-syrup motif and lemon. This kind of reminds me of how I always think fruity/flavored teas are going to taste and why I stay away from them.

I wouldn’t quite call it unpleasant, just pretty unimpressive, especially given how wonderful the dry leaves smelled. Glad to have tried it, though.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 15 sec
JustJames

aw, that’s like when the dough tastes better than the cookies. =0(

TeaKlutz

Yes! I should just use the tea as potpourri and eat the cookie dough and the salmonella will be worth it. :P

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96

Got my Zen Tea Life order of this this morning, along with some free samples that I wasn’t expecting! Sweet!

But I still have a couple cups of the sample left, so I shall work on that first. Still delicious, still comforting. Mouthfeel is SO creamy.

Aaaaargh! Why is it so warm in the house this morning?!? I’m gonna go take a shower and play trumpet in the basement!

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Bio

Tea is my happy place. I drink tea when I’m at home, when I’m at work, when I’m waking up in the morning or winding down for the night or when I need a little boost in the afternoon. Tea is my official side hobby, and I couldn’t be happier that I’ve discovered such a vast world of flavors, aromas, varieties, and traditions – encapsulated by a beverage that I used to shrug at.

My taste in tea always seems to be changing!

Black teas are far and away my favorite. Great Chinese black teas are one of my weaknesses. I also like a lot of the Earl Grey relatives and I have an affinity for floral teas, especially rose-flavored ones.

I don’t drink green teas as often, but there are a few I quite enjoy.

Same with white teas.

I have some experience with oolongs, but not much. Most of the ones I’ve had taste the same to me, and I’m not huge on the roasty-green flavor. I kinda like the juicy-green ones, though.

I’m exploring pu erhs. I haven’t had many, but the ones I’ve tried have been really intriguing when done right, and it seems like the pu erh universe is a rich and complex one once you get past “IT TASTES LIKE FISH!”

I like rooibos, but I have to be in the mood for it. And it HAS to be in a sachet or a bag. Loose rooibos is more of a pain than it’s worth.

I go through different phases when I’m trying teas. Sometimes, I really want flavored stuff; sometimes I just want to try pu-erhs; sometimes I’m on a rose tea kick, etc. I enjoy building up my base of tea knowledge and even more the experience of finding a new and unexpected thing I love.

I have a tendency to ramble in my tasting notes. Sometimes it’s on topic. Much of the time it’s not. You have been warned.

As for me, I’m 25 years old and I work at a music store and play various instruments. Besides tea, I love bicycling, writing, teaching myself French, watching things from everyone else’s childhood, ASMR, Star Trek, cats, and awful puns. I’m an INFJ and a Libra too, for all it’s worth.

Steepster is absolutely the most positive, kind, and intelligent online community I’ve ever found, and I love meeting fellow tea enthusiasts through here. I look forward to meeting you!

P.S. Any rare soul who recognizes the profile pic gets bonus points forever.

Location

One foot’s on the Holodeck. The other’s in Lancaster, Ohio.

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