470 Tasting Notes

90

We meet at last, Candy Cane Lane. As a peppermint junkie I’ve wanted to try this forever: I went to 6 different grocery stores during the holiday season and not a single one had the CS seasonal blends! What the heck. But thanks to a swap with Marcel Duchamp I am finally trying this one out!

Piping hot this really just tastes like peppermint, I was a little disappointed. No vanilla, definitely no cinnamon! But I let it cool a bit as I was reading and once it was hot but not too hot the magic happened. Peppermint, vanilla, cinnamon, oh my! This reminds me of Santa’s Secret and Della Terra’s Peppermint Bark, only a bit softer (because of the green base instead of black) and the cinnamon gives it a really warming feeling.

This is so good! Like, outrageously good for a bagged tea. I usually have Twinning’s Peppermint on-hand for when I need a bagged mint but I think I will be swapping it out for this. I mean, it has everything! Super minty and refreshing, smooth vanilla, warming cinnamon, plus it’s decaf. Yum!

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86

Have you noticed that sometimes a tea will get a whole lot of tasting notes in a few days? Not even a new tea or one in a tea subscription. That is what happened with this one, I saw some notes on it and was suddenly hit by a craving. Thanks to my swap with Marcel Duchamp, which was perfectly timed, I get to try this one!

I love spiced orange teas. Not cinnamon orange, which can quickly become overpowering, but that kind of melded ginger-cinnamon-anise blend that’s not quite chai. This tea smells SO good while it is brewing, rich and wintry and divine.

The orange and spice are definitely strong here! I don’t know if the oolong really stands out at all, maybe it’s a little woodsy but honestly it’s Teavana, I don’t expect the base to shine. I just want a nice orange cinnamon cup!

But, lurking in the background… hibiscus! What. Not in the description at all! I don’t even know why it is here! The orange flavoring is tart enough as is. I think without the hibiscus I would be head over heels in love with this blend but as it is I just like it. Well, actually I really enjoyed my cup! But I’d like it more without the hibiscus. I’ll be cold brewing my leaves though, which I’ve found lessens the hibiscus (especially if they’ve been brewed once already).

Marcel Duchamp

Yes, 2nd steeping does hold back on the hibiscus. This is also good cold.

Tamm

You’re killing me with this one. I haven’t tried it yet because of the cost, but it sounds right up my ally; even with the hibiscus.

Alphakitty

I think I will be stocking up on this one during this year’s big sale! It’s a long wait, but I could see myself powering through quite a bit of this next winter.

Marcel Duchamp

Tamm, we could always do a small swap if you want to try it. Just PM me.

tattooed_tea

I loved this one enough to suck up teavana’s prices & buy 50g. I know I’ll need more.

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98
drank Golden Fleece by Verdant Tea
470 tasting notes

Ah the mythical Golden Fleece. It’s been built up to such levels of epicness by fellow Steepsters that I’ve been hesitant to even open my sample. I had convinced myself that I needed to refine my pallet more so that the beauty of this tea wouldn’t be lost. I mean, it’s such a rare tea and people love it so much… I honestly almost felt guilty having it, like I knew I wouldn’t appreciate it fully and someone else who could was missing out.

Three days ago I decided that was the stupidest thing ever. Tea is about the journey, not building any single leaf up to be some mythical destination. Golden Fleece is not the endgame, it’s a step on my teaventure! So I ripped open the packet with glee (okay, I carefully cut it up, but that is not as dramatic sounding) and inhaled the delicious aroma. Malt! Chocolate! Like fancy chocolate cake. Flourless chocolate cake, the “so dark and decadent it should be illegal” kind. And that just from the smell~!

So far I’ve brewed up 4 steeps in my gaiwan. I tasted them all individually and in the end mixed them together into a mug. There was not a huge amount of variation in steeps 1-4 so I feel like it’s okay to do! 1-2 had some faint vanilla notes that weren’t present in 3-4, and 3-4 were a bit deeper in color and flavor (though I chalk that up to the longer steep time).

I love Yunnan blacks, and this is a delicious one! Malt and caramelized sugar are the predominant notes, the sugar flavor bordering on almost bitter but the brew is smooth enough to make up for that. Oddly enough there is no cocoa or chocolate in the steep even though it smelled so heavily of it! My cup is leaning more towards yeasty bread, rye bread, maybe even pumpernickel! Very dark and deep.

There are also some citrusy orange notes similar to what I got from Teavivre’s Yunnan Dian Hong. Blood orange!

I’ll be honest: I like this tea, but so far it’s not showing me any “wow” qualities that I haven’t seen in other high-quality Yunnans. Of course I have many steeps left in these leaves and half the sample to go, so the journey’s not over yet! I will hold off on a rating until I feel like I have really “gotten to know” this tea: I brewed it at near-boiling as per the instructions on the back but some of the notes (caramel, orange) verged into bitter territory and I think this tea would benefit from a lower temperature. Also going to try out cold brewing, because why not? Gonna get as much use out of these pretty leaves as I can!

Sil

I prefer laoshan black. This one is tasty but I think my flavour preferences lean towards LB more :) nice that you got to try it though! I haven’t tried coldbrewing mine. Look forward to your notes on it! :)

Terri HarpLady

I think the first time I drank Golden Fleece was a little bit of a let down, especially after all the hype. I tend to prefer my teas to be dark & bold, like Laosan black. I don’t know if I had ever drank a Dian hong before that. Probably had, just didn’t know it. So I bought some from other companies & started drinking them. I compared their looks, smells, textures, flavors, & tried to keep an unbiased mind. I’d say GF wins in pretty much all DH categories, for me, including re-steep-ability. However, it’s not a ‘breakfast tea’, not my first cup of the day. That’s usually gonna be Laoshan black, an Assam, or something else that’s bold. GF is more of an afternoon tea for me, I think. It’s a different flavor profile, but I do love it.

Sil

Terri – that’s probably the reason that I favour LB :) look at you being all specific haha

Terri HarpLady

;) That was Ms Theresa talking, she likes to get all analytical & stuff. Everyone else was still asleep at the time :D

Alphakitty

It definitely is a lighter brew than Laoshan Black (which I also prefer, that tea is just perfection). It’s definitely growing on me, cold brewing brought out a totally different flavor profile that I am loving.

whatshesaid

You are making me want some of this! Sounds like a good way to try a straight black :)

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75

My neighborhood is the exact opposite of a food desert. A food oasis! It’s so packed with places to get delicious goodies that I honestly don’t know about even half the places within a 2 block radius. Might sound like I am exaggerating but it’s the truth! For example, 2 weeks ago I discovered a Chinese bakery literally around the corner from me that has been there for years. Yet I missed it! Considering that I am addicted to red bean buns this is like the best news ever.

Plus, everything is insanely cheap. Spent $4 today (no taxes since it’s cash only!) and got a red bean bun, a taro bun, a pastry cream stuffed croissant and a raisin & cream cheese pastry. Yum! Of course I can’t eat all of those in one day, I’m so stuffed from my late lunch of homemade korma that I don’t even have room for a bite right now. But they smell so delicious! I keep sticking my face in the bag and taking big whiffs.

Um, yeah, so this is supposed to be about tea. Whoops, I got carried away by my love for red beans! Can you really blame me? I made this last night while planning my bakery trip (see, they are connected!) thinking that a citrusy jasmine would go well with heavy desserts. This tea isn’t really what I expected, though. It’s floral and citursy but not in any identifiable way. I’d never go “oh, this is jasmine and lemon!” Really, it might as well be rose and lime or lavender and orange on the label.

It’s weird that the flavor is so vague. I am usually really good at identifying floral scents—we had all kinds of flowers in the garden when I was little and I spent a ton of time gardening with my dad (or rather, running around with the kitties while he worked ^^;) so I can generally tell the difference between lilac, magnolia, violet, hyacinth, rose, etc. But here it’s just… kinda generic floral. Like walking by a flower shop—you get hit by all these flowery smells but none of them are distinct. And the citrus is the same way! What kind of magic is this?

It’s not a bad cup of tea, it’s just… weird. Well, not weird tasting, but it’s frustrating not being able to identify smells and tastes. Ah well, lemon jasmine tea does sound really good so now I am thinking about hunting one down!

Mercuryhime

Oooh taro! If they have good flakey egg tarts there then I am officially jealous. ;)

Alphakitty

They do have egg tarts! They are quickly becoming my favorite too, they go very light on the sugar unlike some places so you can really taste the eggy goodness.

Mercuryhime

With the flakey shell or the pie crust shell? Pie crust is okay but a light flakey crust is heaven. Mmm…now I want one.

Alphakitty

Both kinds! They alternate day to day. Which, of course, means I want to go twice as often.

Mercuryhime

Marketing genius. :)

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86
drank Secret Garden by SerendipiTea
470 tasting notes

I have been on the hunt for a rose, lavender and peppermint herbal blend for a while, so when I got home from my meet with Mercuryhime and saw that she’d put a whole ounce in my goodie bag I nearly squealed with joy. Secret Garden, are you the tea I’ve been looking for?

This is not a pure rose/lavender/mint blend—there’s chamomile and rooibos in there as well. The chamomile I don’t mind at all since it’s good for getting sleepy, and there’s so little rooibos it’s not enough to trigger a headache. So far so good! I made up a cup of this last night and actually fell asleep before I could finish it so I guess that is definitely a good sign.

This is a really floral blend. I mean it has 3 floral elements! The rose is quite strong but there is not a ton of lavender, just a soft backing note. The chamomile is more in play than the lavender I think. The mint is almost as strong as the rose, which being a peppermint fan I love! And then finally there’s my old enemy Mr. Rooibos, which thankfully is doing little more than making the cup kind of red. There are some woodsy notes that I associate more with honeybush and no gross medicinal taste (or headaches, yay!).

All in all, a success! I would eventually like a blend that is just mint, rose and lavender… though probably it would be easier and cheaper to blend it myself. Thanks Mercuryhime!

Mercuryhime

I’m so glad you like it so much! I personally am not a fan of chamomile or lavender in tea so I was hoping you would give it a loving home. Otherwise I probably would have trashed it after it got too old. :)

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90

Blueberry coffee cake! That is what this tea tastes like. It’s not as in-your-face cake-y as Pineapple Upside Down Cake, but the flavoring is still there. Soft cinnamon backs up a very natural tasting blueberry flavor for a really wonderful cup.

While this is a green/black blend it tastes like a pure green one to me—and looks like it too, it brews up very pale! I’ve been looking for a good cinnamon & blueberry tea and this is most definitely it. The cinnamon isn’t hot and spicy like in some other Della Terra blends, but warming and soft like you’d find in baked goods. The sprinkles add a little sweetness so you definitely don’t need any added sugar in the cup!

Plus it’s such a pretty blend, the pink sprinkles and green leaves really make me think of Easter and the egg hunts I used to do as a kid. My cousin’s neighbor had a HUGE farm and she would hold a massive Easter Egg hunt there. Eggs filled with candy, not real ones! It would take all day to find them all, they would be everywhere: tucked down rabbit holes, hidden in tree branches, even some in her house hiding under table legs and in teapots! There would always be a few in the chicken coop too snuggled in with the real eggs. It’s a miracle we never broke anything (both her china and our limbs from climbing around so much!). Some of my favorite childhood memories are from that farm and for whatever reason this tea is bringing me right back there. A lovely blend!

jessiwrites

I was kind of interested in this one, I might just have to order it now. :)

Alphakitty

If you like blueberry I think you won’t be disappointed! The more I drink this, the more I think it might actually be the best blueberry blend I’ve tried

Tealizzy

I was interested in this one too! Sounds delicious!

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43

Another holiday blend from the Traveling Tea Box! It’s funny that Candy Cane Lane seems to get such amazing reviews (and I finally have a sample of it to try, hooray!) but the rest of them have low ratings. I was disappointed in the Nutcracker blend but I must persevere!

This is, hmm, interesting. Doesn’t taste a whole lot like gingerbread, though there is definitely ginger and cinnamon in here. But I am tasting this odd almost chocolatey element which sounds like it would be good but it’s oddly fake and waxy. And at the end of the sip it’s sour for some reason? I greatly prefer the Bigelow Gingerbread one, this is just a little funky.

Cavocorax

I found it made a decent latte – a nice treat on cold evenings!

Alphakitty

This probably would make a nice latte, but I am spoiled I think by better gingerbread flavored teas (like Red Leaf’s Gingerbread matcha!). It is pretty decent for a bagged tea, just not what I was expecting.

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94

I cold-brewed my leftover leaves from last night on a whim, and oh man am I glad I did. This is one of the best cold brews I’ve ever had! And very different from the hot tea.

The maple is still there but in the background, and the pecan is what really pops. And it’s not just generically nutty, but very identifiably pecan! It’s like an ice cold liquid pecan pie… which, yeah, may not sound that appetizing but it is beyond delicious. Bumping up the rating a little!

Fjellrev

Wow I never thought of doing that with this. Sounds awesome.

Lariel of Lórien

I had that hot today. What is cold brew?

Alphakitty

Cold brewing involves steeping the tea for a long period of time (anywhere from 5 to 24 hours, my usual range is 10-12) in cold water in the fridge. It tends to bring out different flavor profiles, and it is almost impossible to make tea bitter this way!

It’s my go-to method for iced teas, I make 2 cups every night a few hours before bed and they are ready when I get up! It’s also great for getting a last steep out of already-used leaves, since they are in the water for so long you can extract a lot of flavor.

Butiki Teas

Interesting idea to cold brew this one. I think I need to try that.

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80

The blueberry black I tried from the same company wasn’t so hot, but this one from the Traveling Tea Box smelled a lot better! Well, that makes it seem like the blueberry black was gross or something—it wasn’t, perfectly palatable, just not blueberry at all.

This one is a lot better! The blueberry still is not that strong, but subtlety is nice in a green blend. It’s a little floral as well, just like the blueberry black. For some reason there are no real floral blueberry blends, but I think it’s a flavor that would go well with rose! Perhaps I should try mixing some of my own, hmm.

Anyway, this is a nice blueberry tea. Not too strong but not weak either. It seems like one of the harder tastes to get just right for some reason, often it’s just not quite as strong as I’d like!

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This one smells like absolute heaven. Malty, chocolatey, I want to eat it! Funnily enough, the file name for the image is “Whopper” so the fact that it smells just like the candy is intentional.

However, I think the licorice in my last tea messed up my taste buds (there’s still that weird sweetness in the very top/back of my throat) because I am getting…. tomato broth. No joke, like a malty tomato. Uh… I don’t think that is normal! It’s malty and I can taste the chocolate but I think I am going to have to pop this one in the fridge for later when my taste buds aren’t completely flipping out.

UPDATE: Let this chill out in the fridge and added a splash of cream. No more tomato! Either it was because of the licorice or somehow my brain made it all up. But seriously, I’d swear there was tomato in there at first. Ah well!

Now that it doesn’t remind me of tomato soup this tea is delightful! Very strongly chocolate-y, probably one of the strongest chocolate flavors I’ve tried in a tea. And the malt is so good! But I really think this one would be best off hot so I am holding off a bit on a rating until I can brew it up right. Maybe even as a latte!

LiberTEAS

But … me loving tomato the way I do, I’m thinking that malty tomato actually sounds good and I think that Frank should make this blend.

Alphakitty

If it turns out to actually be tomato-y, I’ll send you the rest of my sample! XD

whatshesaid

I hope your tastebuds are messed up because I orderd it too!

Kittenna

Interesting. I’ve had odd tomato-y flavours before in teas that should not be like that. Also, sad to hear about the licorice. I need to read ingredient lists more thoroughly…

Kittenna

Glad to read the update!

Fjellrev

I wonder if there is a vanilla note that is giving off a random tomato flavour? I recently tried a vanilla black that smells like stewed tomatoes for some reason. It luckily doesn’t taste like that though!

Alphakitty

Hmm, maybe it is the vanilla taste! That seems to be a common thread in the “this tastes like tomatoes” notes. I thought it was totally crazy until I experienced it myself, it’s bizarre.

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Bio

Tea has always been a passion of mine, though I got away from it during college. A lack of cupboard space and a constant influx of people into my suite made me pretty much abandon my teas at home. But now that I’m done with school, it’s definitely come back with a vengeance—to the point where I’ve purchased about 65 different kinds in the past 3 months!

I like most kinds of teas—yes, even peach, which I used to think I disliked!. Oolongs are definitely my favorite, and I’m an avid fan of earl grey, floral teas, and chai blends along with anything melon. The only kind of teas on my “no” list are rooibos blends (which gives me headaches) and banana flavored ones since bananas are public enemy #1 in my mind.

The best thing about tea for me is how you can be passionate about it and still have it integrate into all of your other hobbies. I like a lot of things: writing, video games, books, sewing, figure collecting, astronomy… it’s a long list. But whatever I’m doing, I can have a cup of tea in hand!

Location

New York

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http://www.plastikitty.com/

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