12 Tasting Notes
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
Another from my swap with miss Eva. Apparently I’m on a bit of a black tea kick. I’ve had a lot of different Earl Grey over the years, both bagged and loose leaf. I only recently started to try the offshoots of it, such as Lady Greys, Earl Grey Cremes, etc. When I brewed this one up, I was surprised at how subtle it was compared to its predecessors. The flavor was light and silky, with the bergamot immediately making itself known on the palate. The creme part was also present, but I feel like it presented itself mostly in the aftertaste. It reminded me, strangely, of marshmallow: sugary and creamy all at once. The hints of all that decadence made me wish that the flavor was just a little stronger. I suspect I’ll have to adjust my brewing technique and see if I can wrangle more out of it.
Another sample courtesy of jump62359. As a caveat, I haven’t had much in the way of assam before. My experiences with Adagio have also been fairly mixed, but I actually enjoyed this one. This had a malted flavor, almost chocolate-y in its strength and smoothness. I expected more bitterness after I let it sit for a bit, but it seemed to maintain that same level of flavor fairly well. I don’t think it’s necessarily a unique taste sensation or anything, but it held its own. My friend recommended a homemade chai recipe to me recently that requires some black tea as its base. I think this would be a decent candidate for it, since it wouldn’t overpower the spices.
The very generous jump62359 included a sample bag of this along with a few other tasty treats. I’ve never had anything from Lupicia before, but I knew I was in trouble from the moment I took a big whiff of the pyramid-shaped bag. I brewed it up in short order, but found myself too impatient to let it sit and cool. Turns out a slightly scalded tongue was worth it when it comes to this tea. The flavor is nutty and vaguely reminiscent of quality popcorn, with sweet notes playing beneath it from what I assume is the white chocolate. The fruitiness comes out as well, and conjoins with the other tastes to produce a really lovely tea. If this is par for the course in terms of quality, I suspect I’m going to be placing an order with Lupicia very soon.
Got this from my swap with Eva. I was a little leery of more pumpkin-flavored tea, as the last one I had was not to my taste. This one surprised me by being rather chai-like in terms of flavor and spiciness. I may have oversteeped a bit, since the liquid ended up being very dark and the initial flavors were stronger than I’d anticipated. There wasn’t much creaminess to it – which, again, maybe have been a victim of my chronic oversteeping tendencies – but I can’t say I missed it much given the flavorful punch that was delivered instead. The clove is prominent, with the sweetness of the molasses/caramel being slightly more subdued, but still present. Even though I expected the leaves to be spent after my initial (long) steep, I was surprised that it still retained enough flavor to make a second steep worthwhile.