16 Tasting Notes
So after a few disappointments with my more recent tea hauls, I finally brewed this bad boy up. And wow, what a good little milk oolong this is. Creamy, buttery, with a confusing but lovely burnt caramel/fresh gardenia finish that shouldn’t work half so well together. It reminds me a little of creme brule. I’m a little baffled that it isn’t flavored, to be honest, given the sheer depth of flavor and how well it holds up under repeat steepings. It does seem to evolve into a more floral brew over time, but nothing overpowering.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Butter, Creamy, Gardenias
I bought this when I was stocking up on White Christmas, mostly based on the reviews. When I opened the bag, I was immediately surprised by how sweet it smelled. I suppose I expected a nuttier profile based on what I read and the ingredients in the tea itself. My assumption was that the saccharine scent would wear off once it was brewed up. Not so much. This tastes like sugar to me with a warm, grain-like undertone. I tried a second steep with pretty much the same result, and puzzled over what it was this tea reminded me of. After a few more sips, it occurred to me: Lucky Charms, the breakfast cereal I occasionally indulged in as a kid. It’s like a spoonful of the marshmallows with that weird, cardboard-ish oat grain that’s been soaked in 2% milk. It isn’t bad, per se, but after that HIMYM-style glass shattering revelation, I can’t really bring myself to drink it. Fortunately, my sib really seems to enjoy it, so I’ll just pawn it off on her.
Flavors: Grain, Marshmallow, Oats, Sugar
Ah yes, listening to the Journey OST and drinking tea at two in the morning. This is my life, these are my choices. Regardless, I am pretty well smitten with this new oolong. My first steep was definitely overbrewed, and the (distinctly cinnamon) flavor was overpowering against a bitter backdrop. I almost dumped out the leaves, but shrugged and gave it a second, shorter steep instead. The cinnamon that had before proven so repugnant now uplifted the soft, green notes and the sweet, vaguely floral finish. And it’s so creamy? I don’t know how they manage to cram all those flavors into a single sip, but I’m not about to complain. I am a little miffed with Green Terrace Teas for having two of my favorite oolongs on record, but a new order should fix that.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Green, Jasmine
I’m not a hundred percent sure what I did to this tea to make it hate my tastebuds. I resteeped and tried it on a different day to see if maybe I was at fault, with much the same result. There’s definitely chocolate notes, and the dry leaf smell isn’t super fragrant, but it is lovely with sweet undertones. However, upon brewing this up and taking a sip, honey was not the first thing that I detected. Instead there was a strange, almost pickled flavor to it that was, frankly, not at all appetizing. I don’t know if this is some twisted play on the sweet potato notes that other people have mentioned, or if I completely missed the steeping parameters when I made it. Whatever the case, it was a far cry from my previous experience with Green Terrace Tea’s extraordinary Shan Lin Xi Oolong.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Sour
Upon brewing this tea up and tasting it for the first time, all I could do was whisper a quiet, “Oh no,” into my cup. This is pretty much everything I love in an oolong: buttery, creamy notes against a strong, vegetal background. The mineral hints toward the end are different, a little more astringent than I’m used to, but very complimentary to this Shan Lin Xi overall. So why the overdramatic cup-whispering? This was a sample that Green Terrace sent me. Had I but known what a delicious little cup you make, my darling, I would’ve bought bulk in a heartbeat. Sadly, I will have to go without until my next order, which will likely take quite some time, given the amount of tea in my cupboard. I’ll savor every sip until then.
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Green, Mineral, Vegetal
I put off trying this sample quite sometime for a variety of reasons, at least one of which was an abbreviated ingredient list. I love American Tea Room to an almost shameful degree, but their lack of specificity as to what constitutes, say, “maple,” always leaves me a little skittish. However, this blend in particular is organic, and in an effort to start depleting my overfilled cupboards, I decided to give Canada a shot.
I was surprised (and a little uneasy) at how dark a green the resultant liquor turned. Honestly, I was expecting a mouthful of artificial sweetness that made my stomach clench up. But after the first sip, I was forced to admit that I had wronged this delightful little tea. There is a nuttiness present in the brew that evens out the maple notes, and I believe it’s further mellowed by the base. The maple itself isn’t the overpowering stuff that you drown your morning waffles in, but a more subtle, nuanced flavor.
After I drained it down, I peered dubiously into the bottom of my mug, wondering if maybe my low expectations had skewed my opinion. Not so, apparently, as the second steep was just as tasty, if a little less vibrantly green. While I probably wouldn’t purchase this tea in bulk, I certainly wouldn’t shun it if it happened to show up on my doorstep again.
Flavors: Caramel, Maple, Walnut
From my impulse grab bag purchase! I’ve only ever had some sad, been-sitting-for-hours-on-end horchata before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, let alone in a genmaicha. First of all, the brewed smell is… not great. My sibs were making gagging noises as I brought the cup (with no small amount of trepidation) to my lips. The first sip let me know that I had stepped it for too long, as it had some bitter notes. But to my surprise, it quickly mellowed to a softer, much sweeter taste. The mix of cinnamon and rice was compelling, and made for an almost creamy, aptly spiced flavor. It reminded me a great deal of what an eggnog tea should taste like, as I have been disappointed by branded “eggnog” teas in the past. I think the overt rum flavor played into this comparison a great deal as well. All the same, this is a tea you have to be in the mood for, much like eggnog itself.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Creamy, Eggnog, Rice, Rum
Let me start this review by stating that I did not buy this tea. After a bit of a mix up with my order, DavidsTEA very kindly sent it to me as a “surprise” gift. Having said that, this is not a tea that I would have purchased myself. I like my tea straight, occasionally flavored, with no milk, sugar, or honey added. I also do not enjoy rooibos, so this tea had a lot working against it from the very beginning. Still, I decided to give it a shot and see if maybe my mind could be changed. To call David’s Cotton Candy sweet would be a colossal understatement. The flavor reminded me of those hard little marshmallows I used to paw out of my Lucky Charms cereal and eat by the handful as a kid. In that respect, it was good for a little nostalgia, but definitely not to my adult taste. Still, I appreciate that the company went out of its way to make things right. As for this tea, I gave it to my sister for use in future lip scrubs.
Flavors: Cotton Candy, Sweet
I’m not sure how I missed the fact that this had cocoa kernels mixed in when I first purchased it, especially since it’s such a prominent flavor. When I opened the bag to sniff? Chocolate. When I steeped it? Chocolate. First sip? Yup, still chocolate. It kind of reminds me of a chili infused chocolate, very smooth with a little kick from the ginger and the peppercorn. It has all the elements of your traditional chai, but – for me, at least – the chocolate is somewhat overwhelming. I’ll have to adjust steeping time and see if the more subtle notes can be brought to bear.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cloves, Ginger, Peppercorn
Pretty much my favorite from the lot I’ve tried via Red Leaf. Full disclosure, I drink this with milk (either 2% or oat), and it’s really lovely, though I believe it’s something of an acquired taste. The caramel flavor isn’t overpowering, so you get a good feel for the earthiness of the matcha itself.
Flavors: Caramel, Earth, Vegetal