124 Tasting Notes

92

Well, I can’t speak for what the dry leaves smelled like because I was in full on “stagger mode” to get tea made this morning. Last night I lay awake until 7am thinking about different scenarios for location scouting for my film. Which was a waste of time either way because “bleary baffled middle of night insomniac” me didn’t convince any of my imaginary conversation partners to let us shoot on their imaginary locations.

SO!
I have no clue what the leaves smell like.
The liquor though smells awesome! It’s like an egg pastry… some kind of bavarian creme egg pastry. A-ma-zing.
I started out drinking this neat without milk.
The flavor is nice and nutty with a full mouth feel. Even better, it’s astringent in a good way! Instead of just making my mouth feel like I sucked on a desiccant packet, the dryness adds to the nutty flavour.
This does not need any milk at all.
So, like an idiot, I said “I’ll add milk! And see what I think.”
Well, let me tell you. Milk totally kills it. All the subtlety is gone.
So I did a second brewing of the same leaves.
The second brew smelled nuttier and slightly more bitter. The liquor is still thick and it’s still creamy, but in more of a roasted nut kind of way. It kind of reminds me of the first cup of coffee I ever had (it was also the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had). We were camping and it was kona coffee brewed in a percolator, drank under tall pines in Maine. It was pretty perfect. This tea has the same nutty aftertaste.
Overall – I love it! Next time I won’t ruin the first steeping with milk…

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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81
drank Gunpowder by Adagio Teas
124 tasting notes

The leaves (I love the shape by the way) smelled smoky and buttery and herby all at once. Nothing in your face, just a really nice green tea scent.
The leaves unfolded so beautifully when I brewed this! I love it when tea is visually appealing as well. The surprise of the little balls unfurling into pennants was delightful :)
The liqueur smells like caramel! I was so surprised by that. It has notes of brown sugar as well. It also smells like warm toast. I love buttered toast-like green tea!

Right before I could taste this I noticed a flea on my dachshund. I freaked out and sprayed him down with enough clove oil flea treatment to drown the bloodsuckers.
Consequently, I had to wait around 20 minutes for the clove scent to leave my nose. Note that my tasting might be affected by this!

Okay, finally getting to taste this!

The scent as I sip it is very present and wonderful. The initial flavor is kind of boring – the slightly metallic generic “green tea” flavour.
The immediate aftertaste was the nice toast flavor. Maybe slightly burnt toast. Not too bad. The lingering aftertaste is more like the initial flavor but with some sweetness. It’s almost sweet in the way artichokes are sweet on my tongue.

I made a cup for my sister too and she thought it tasted burnt, but in a good way.
The more I drink this, the more I decide I like it – Not bad, and certainly interesting enough!

ETA: I did a second steeping of the leaves, same temperature and time.
Wow – the scent really improved this time. I swear, it smells just like caramels. Magical caramels that you would eat on a rainy day in one of the forgotten rooms from The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. Seriously. It’s that good.
The flavor is more astringent than before and a little sharply herby. The liquour is still really nice and thick.
The aftertaste is really nice though. It goes back to the caramels. There is a seriously sweet flavour that just keeps lingering on my tongue, and again, the artichoke kind of sweetness at the back of my throat. The actual drinking of the tea is a mediocre flavor but the tastes/scents before and after make it absolutely worth it.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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68

The loose tea smells incredibly like chocolate on first whiff.
After that, it smells very strongly of cinnamon – I don’t have a lot of fondness for cinnamon to begin with but this smelled more like a christmas candle. I wasn’t sure how that would bode for the drink.
I mixed up a combination of milk and water 50/50 and brought it just to a boil. I added two heaping teaspoons and set the stovetop on low. I let it simmer for 3 minutes and then strained it.
It still smelled pretty strongly of cinnamon.
The taste was pretty good. I just really don’t like how strongly this smells of cinnamon (I’m just going to keep harping on this), but the flavor was surprisingly light on cinnamon. The milk being brought to the high temps is really sweet and mellow. There isn’t any bad aftertaste at all. It’s fairly pleasant but nothing like the Thai Chai which I really enjoyed. And it really has no chocolate taste to speak of.

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

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86
drank Yunnan Gold by Adagio Teas
124 tasting notes

The first scent I got of this was kind of earthy and mellow. Again, it kind of reminded me of stables.
The leaves were so pretty and golden brown!
I did a shorter steep than the package recommends because I’m finding that Adagio’s suggestions make a brew that is more bitter than I would like.
I tried the liquor black first and it was very smooth – not metallic like Keemun. I did add milk, but it really didn’t need it. With the milk it had smokey vanilla flavours. This would be a really great morning cup of coffee (but I’m enjoying it now too, at 8:00PM. It’s my “I have tons more work to do and I’m taking a short tea break” time).

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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68

This smelled like a riverbank. Like… with marsh grasses and shade. Really really nice, really green, really sweet.
The scent of the liqueur has a really nice buttery hay scent.
I might brew this at a lower temperature and for a longer time. I think the way I brewed it I missed out on some of the more subtle flavors. I’ll see about the second brewing.
It has a really nice buttery aftertaste!

ETA I did a second steep, this one with 180 degree water for 3 minutes, kind of winging it. The liqueur smelled more buttery rather then green to me and the flavor this time was a lot nuttier. There was still a fairly vegetal aftertaste. The liqueur had a really nice mouthfeel too. I think in the future I’ll go for the cooler temp.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85

I decided to go for black tea over yerba mate – I like the yerba mate but it makes me too jazzed for writing. Saving that for later in the day when I’m flagging…
So, I opened up the bag of the Keemun Encore – wow, the leaves are so tiny! I really like the scent of this. It’s creamy and smokey in this wonderful dark way like the back of a cool cabinet.
After brewing it, I’m getting really strong smooth overtones of cream and honey. I tried it black first. Drinking it was… interesting. None of the sweetness of the scent translates into flavour, but the smokiness definitely does. It is pleasantly astringent, with a funny aftertaste that lingers. It’s almost metallic, along with the smoke. I’m actually picturing a soldier from the 1930s opening a cigarette case in a cave. How’s that for oddly specific tea imagery?
In its favour, the liquor is really really nicely thick. I’m not sold on the taste – going to add some milk to this cup and then try a second infusion. Not bad, the scent is great, the taste is slightly un-complex and a little “funny”.

ETA – I added milk and have completely changed my opinion. The milk brings all the creaminess and smokiness from the initial scent right to the front and takes away the metallic flavor. With milk, it is a really really nice drink. Still not wildly complex or anything but just really pleasant. Wow, what a difference!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Skulleigh

If you like this, definitely try Keemun Rhapsody and Concerto. Rhapsody is my (nearly) every day tea at work (I alternate with a jasmine oolong) and Concerto is my treat. It’s so tobacco-y and chocolate-y. I love them both.

BlueKittyMeow

Oh, neat – I’ll add them to my list of things to try. I love the tobacco/earthy flavors. Thanks for the rec :)

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80

When I opened the package it immediately smelled like: Hello! I’m Mango! It wasn’t too artificial smelling and I really like the way the sweetness of the honeybush complimented the mango sweetness.
After brewing it, I still liked the scent and it still smelled really balanced. I like how it’s not a sharp mango scent but the really nice rounded smell of really nice ripe mango.
This is an excellent tea to just drink. It’s relatively uncomplex tasting, but that’s okay. It’s not hiding any secrets, it doesn’t really have the flavors unfold, but it is very smooth and has an awesome mouth feel – it’s very thick. As I let it cool (I really hate drinking super hot things) it seemed like it good sweeter and even more mellow. I should really try it iced.
All in all, it’s not anything surprising, except that I like it a surprising amount :)

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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91
drank Thai Chai by Adagio Teas
124 tasting notes

This smells incredible! Immediately upon opening it I got a huge whiff of coconut and lemon, but in a really natural way – the really nice scent of coconut that isn’t overpoweringly sweet.
After I brewed it, it smelled just like Tom Kha Gai soup, which is one of my favorite flavours ever. It smells of coconut and lime and lemongrass with a perfect sweet and sour tang, all on top of the typical chai scent.
I added milk because in my world chai is always drunk with milk.
Wow, and one sip and I am in love! I can really see this being one of my go to teas. It is smooth and milky and creamy and the coconut plays so well with the milk. The lemongrass notes are defined but are perfect in the blend. Nothing is overpowering.
I am so glad that I decided to give chai a second chance!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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82
drank Masala Chai by Adagio Teas
124 tasting notes

I was surprised by this tea – mainly by how much I liked it!
I really really hate chai tea. So, naturally, when I went on my tea buying spree, I ordered a chai sample :) I’m the kind of person who will keep trying new things even in the face of evidence showing it might be awful!
When I opened the bag I got a mix of scents I love and scents I hate. The clove was kind of overwhelming, but I liked the other spices.
I added milk to this (because seriously, if I don’t usually like chai there is no way I’m drinking it without milk) and I actually really liked it! It wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy and sharp like other chai I’ve had. The milk mixed with the spices giving it a nice and balanced nutty flavour.
In the future I might brew it shorter as the black tea seemed to get slightly bitter. Maybe 4-4.5 minutes would do it.
Overall though, I love it!

I made another steeping of this for only 4 minutes. Wow, this tea does not resteep well. It’s much more one-dimensional after the first steeping and pretty bitter. The sweetness of the spices is gone leaving a flatter tart brew.
First cup: wonderful.
Second cup: almost undrinkable.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Skulleigh

This is the main chai that I drink, I agree that it’s quite good. I keep meaning to try prepping it the “authentic” way, simmering it in milk on the stove. But I’m so lazy… :D

BlueKittyMeow

That is absolutely on my list of things to try – possibly later tonight actually if it doesn’t seem daunting by then! Do you have a good reference you could point me to for how long to simmer it? I wouldn’t want the actual tea in it to get bitter.

Skulleigh

I don’t, sorry! I usually don’t bookmark things like that until I am actually ready to try it. I’ll just forget I have it, so I generally Google it when I am ready to start.

BlueKittyMeow

No worries – I have so many bookmarks it would take ages to go through them and I still just google things I need. I’ll mess around with it and post my results :)

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68

Wow, this smells delicious! So nutty and smooth.
The scent brewed is very chocolaty with hazelnut also being a very strong scent – it actually kind of reminds me of nutella.
The yerba mate keeps it from tasting heavy – it still has the grassy hay like flavours. The flavours that I had scented are more in the background, they just make it very smooth. It actually overall has a very light nearly mineral flavour.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I’m a writer and as such, am obviously an emotional rollercoaster. I used to drink tea a lot more, but kind of stopped and switched to coffee. Now, after too much stress, I’m completely unable to drink coffee anymore, so I figured tea would fulfill some of my “awake” needs as well as calm my emotions. I’m working my way through a huge selection of samples of pretty much everything, leaving notes so I remember what I like.
I love being adventurous and trying new things, even (especially?) things that sound strange or off-putting. Aside from tea I also enjoy tasting wines. The last really interesting one I tried was a dandelion wine! (And yes, it actually was delicious. Extremely bizarre and herby, but delicious).

I don’t have a set of numerical ratings set down yet, mainly because I’m very intuitive (read: disorganized and opinionated) about how I rate things. Basically, If something is in the 70-85 range, it’s pretty good, totally drinkable. Below that, in the 50-69 range, it was probably incredibly boring. I really hate boring tea. Below 50, I wouldn’t drink it again and might not have finished it (I actually really hate leaving ratings below 50, it makes me feel bad. I’m probably too nice). If it’s above 85 then I really liked it. Super high ratings are reserved for teas that totally blew me away.

Location

Massachusetts

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