300 Tasting Notes

83

Wanted a comfort tea after a busy day at work, and somehow I just didn’t feel like anything green, white, or oolong. So I’m drinking a black tea at 11 PM against my better judgment.

This is quite decent. The blend of lavender and bergamot is smoother than expected. I had one other EG lav by Adagio, and that one just tasted like soap, so I was glad to find that this one doesn’t, at least not as much. Still don’t think I like this one quite as much as the EG cream, though. I like Mahamosa’s EG’s; they’re kinda smooth, at least compared to what others I’ve had.

Thanks to Nicole for the sample!

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96

A rare second day off in a row, so I’m considering this a do-over from yesterday. Woke up pretty sleepy, and exactly in the mood for some kind of earl grey. This was the first one I grabbed and I thought, “Eh, why not?”

This is my first earl grey cream. I really didn’t know what to expect, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting to like the combination of cream with bergamot. But I took one sniff of this tea and went, “Whoa!” Turns out I really, really like the combination of sweet with citrus. The tea tastes a little milder than it smells, but it’s still really enjoyable. It’s reminding me of something I’ve smelled or tasted years and years ago, some pleasant association… I can’t put my finger on it. Kind of perfume-y (which I actually like in my teas.) Is this the best earl grey cream out there, I don’t know. But this is one flavor that’s definitely going to become a fixture in my cupboard!

Thanks Nicole for the sample!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Tea Sipper

Yeah! A new earl grey cream fan!

TeaKlutz

OMG yes! This is the first tea I’ve had since the black dragon pearls (which is now my golden standard) that I started craving again RIGHT after I finished the cup! It’s a little brisk, yet comforting.

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88

Day off wound up being a little bit of an off day. Nothing went quite as intended, and I’m just left feeling kind of frustrated and slobbish rather than relaxed.

Finishing off with this tea, one from the oolong sampler. I’ll have to give it another try on a day I haven’t left the water to cool so long. So far, I’m getting a light, pleasantly floral/vegetal oolong with a bit of… not maltiness, not roastiness, but a somewhat savory effect. Refreshing and relaxing.

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82

Still feeling sluggish at almost 4 in the afternoon on a Sunday off, so sipping this while putting away laundry and watching Slayers.

Once again, I get the feeling I accidentally underleafed this. I keep pouring 2 cups of water into the kettle, then taking out one cup’s worth of tea. Oh well. Item descrip says combination of Assam, Ceylon, and some other types of tea. I’m definitely getting a combination of mushroom malty and bright floral-y vegetal-y, although it’s hard to pin down flavors since I think I underleafed. A little on the astringent side, but enjoyable.

Thank you to Nicole for the sample!

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85

Another one of my Teavivre samples, did it with the gaiwan. I’m feeling a little lazy, so I’m not going to log the individual steeps.

I know this flavor but I can’t put my finger on what it is. It’s not quite chocolatey. It’s like a combination of slightly earthy and some dark fruit thing, with a bit of smoky thrown in for good measure. The aroma of the wet tea leaves is really smoky. It’s very smooth.

I think it’s gonna be a little too much on the smoky side for a restock, but it’s definitely worth a try.

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88
drank Mi Xian Black by Butiki Teas
299 tasting notes

This was a sample sent to me by the wonderful Nicole! Works out, because this was a tea I’d already been wanting to try based on some of the reviews I’ve read. So I sipped some of this tonight as I tried out my neato little bass guitar that I bought from a coworker. I feel kind of bad because I got it at most half of what its new value is, but I couldn’t pass up an offer this good on a bass so different from the one I have right now. Plus the guy who was selling it is a total sweetheart, and I have to admit part of my motivation was just helping him out…

We were busy at work today and I talked a lot all day, and this feels really good on a dry, clenched throat. I get a bit of the maltiness, but I get more of that dark fruity/sweet potato flavor. Okay, honey. Very sweet and smooth, no astringency whatsoever. Creamy mouthfeel. I think I underleafed a bit (I did 1-1.5 tsp instead of the recommended 2), but I wanted to make the sample last as long as possible. Yep, this will most likely be a restock.

Terri HarpLady

Yay for getting great deals on musical instruments. They best part of being a grown up is that the toys just keep getting better!

TeaKlutz

So true!!! Although they do start getting more expensive, too…

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90

Made this the first go-round in the teapot.

Cup 1: This is like an overture of Chinese black teas. The first time it hit my tastebuds, it was earthy, like Bailin gongfu, and a little smoky, a hint of good lapsang. But the longer it stays on the tongue, the maltier it gets. On my first taste, there was a hint of sweet that went with the malty. A bitty bitty hint of black dragon pearl.

Cup 2: Forgot to take the infuser ball out of the teapot and left it steep for 45 min to 1 hour – whoops! But it’s still very drinkable. Very, very malty and good. It’s getting astringent from steeping so long, but not enough to make me stop drinking it. I’m only getting a phantom hint of cocoa, and that mostly in the aroma.

Good, good tea! Can’t wait to try in the gaiwan!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85

MY TEAVIVRE ORDER CAME TODAY!!! MY TEAVIVRE ORDER CAME TODAY!!! And I have a day off! And I have my gaiwan! Happy happy happy!

This was the first tea I’ve been wanting to try. I did this in the gaiwan. Dry leaf is dark and twisting, somewhat fine. Earthy scent.

Steep 1: 1 tsp, slightly under boiling, 10s. Wet leaf smells dark and mossy. Tea tastes very similar. Very smooth, little to no astringency, bassy flavor.

Steep 2: 12 s. Not getting a ton of difference in the flavor, but the mossiness is more pronounced. There’s something atmospheric and evocative about teas that taste like this.

Steep 3: 14 s. The mossiness has mellowed. There is the littlest bit of malty in the background.

Again, I had what barely qualifies as an excuse for breakfast, so I’m reluctant to do too many steepings on a relatively empty stomach. I prefer malty over earthy when it comes to black teas, and this was definitely the latter. Nonetheless, a well-made and enjoyable tea.

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75

So after my bizarre Laoshan green affair, I decided to try this, since it’s another reason I’ve been waiting for my gaiwan. I do have to admit, while this tea’s not quite my thing, I am much more in favor of it!

Steep 1: 10 s. Verdant says to do this with boiling water. I let the water cool a lot below boiling, so this is probably underdone. Flavor in the cup is softer and more subtle than what I’m used to with this tea. If I concentrate, I get a bit of the caramel center in the item notes. But the most surprising part of all was when I smelled the wet leaves in the cup. Is it just me, or did I pick up some pine scent?!? Not that I’m complaining…

Steep 2: 12 s. Barley aroma a bit more pronounced in the wet leaves this time. Same with the taste. There’s some floral-fruity note that I can’t pin down. I keep staring at “honeydew melon sweet orchid” and trying to figure out if that’s it. I still don’t think it is.

Maaaaaan. I’d wanted to do at least a third steep, if not a fourth and a fifth, but I haven’t eaten in a while and my stomach is starting to get a little peeved with me putting all this greeny liquid in it without any food. (siiiiiiiiiiiigh) Welp. ’Til next time, gaiwan!

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50

OK. I have been holding off on doing a legitimate review of this tea because I was convinced I was doing something wrong. Every time I try to make it, I feel like I oversteep it. I take one sip, and then can’t even finish the cup. So this evening after work, I decided to make this one my inaugural gaiwan tea.

I’m still on a learning curve with the gaiwan, but I’ll get there. I think I have the gist of it though?

I’m going to rain on the Steepster parade with a brutally honest account of my personal experience. I don’t know what the issue is with me and this tea. I don’t know if I got a weird batch, or if I’m still making it wrong – or if this particular flavor profile just doesn’t sit with me. Dry leaf smells like fake chocolate flavoring on top of a green base, and the two aromas do NOT jive together for me. It’s the same fake chocolate flavoring I tasted in the Laoshan black, but unlike black tea, it does not go well with green. When I make it – even with a gaiwan, with water that is even cooler than what Verdant’s website calls for – it always tastes like I overdid it. The thing is, I’ve done it so many times now, and the taste so resembles the smell, that I’m doubting it’s my error, I think it’s the tea. The wet leaf aroma and flavor are completely unappealing to me. There’s a light vegetal taste, which is fine until it’s overpowered by a burnt, sickly sweetness that legitimately makes my stomach turn.

Suggestions?!?!? My gaiwan steeping was ~1 tsp of tea at 170 degrees for 10 seconds (although I may accidentally have gone a little over, which may partly account for the burnt quality.) Am I doing it wrong or do I just have an aversion to this particular flavor profile?

Fjellrev

It just may be your taste buds. Nothing wrong with that. :)

Dexter

I agree, you don’t have to love a tea just because it’s popular. Everyone has their own tastes/preferences.

Lily Duckler

My other suggestion would be to try brewing in glass and not to cover your tea as it’s steeping. Covering increases the brewing temperature even over short brewings and can make greens more temperamental. Brewing in glass is also a good option as the material is so good a dissipating heat.

I generally brew green tea with my nose. Just like green vegetables are done cooking when they look most beautiful, green tea usually tastes the best when it smells best. With this tea, for example, I usually pour my water against the side of the glass (so as not to shock the leaves), swirl for around five seconds, and smell. If it smells good, then it’s done brewing: I pour out into a new glass through a strainer.

Have you seen David’s brewing videos about Laoshan Green? I’ll leave the links here for reference. Though the videos are using different harvests, the same methodology still applies.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jO0wH7vTpQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlDwPs4_Dm8

All of that said, the flavor profile of Laoshan Green tea is very distinct. In Chinese, we refer to it as “dou xiang wei”.. (soy) bean fragrance/aroma flavor. It is a decidedly sweet vegetal flavor that leans more towards sweet-savory (soy bean, green bean) rather than more leafy // chlorophyl (grasses, fresh leaves). In that way, your comparison to chocolate makes sense- cocoa is after all made from a particularly sweet bean. However, just like some people do not enjoy chocolate (cocoa bean) while others do not like cream or milk or the flavor of vinegar or the flavors of red meat, it’s possible that this flavor is just not something you enjoy. Given all of this, I want to thank you you taking so much time with the He Family’s tea! Because I love what Mr. and Mrs. He are able to get out of their land and their leaves, so I always really appreciate seeing people take the time to try and taste their tea.

If you’re ever in the Midwest, I hope you’ll be able to come and visit us in Minneapolis. I’d love to make this tea (and others) for you and drink it with you!

TeaKlutz

Folks, look at the above comment; if this isn’t the height of professionalism, I don’t know what is. Lily took the time and patience to respond to an abnormally negative and blunt review of one of her company’s signature teas with steeping suggestions, links, and an explanation of how the flavor profile is created, without getting defensive. She then went on to thank me for trying her company and even went so far as to invite me to their store! It’s commendable to go the extra mile for an appreciative customer, but to do it for one who complains about the product is truly a cut above.

Lily, thank you for your thorough feedback – I hadn’t considered how covering the tea would affect the steeping temperature! I’ve still got some of this tea left, so I’m going to revisit it with your advice. I also want to let you know that although the Laoshan green wasn’t my cup, I enjoyed your Laoshan black tea, and I fully plan on restocking that as well as trying some of your other selections.

Lily Duckler

Thank you, TeaKlutz! I hope you have better luck next go-around, but if not? The autumn harvests are coming up soon, and every season brings a different quality to each tea.

Happy sipping!

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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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