213 Tasting Notes
Good morning Steepster! Okay, so it’s almost noon, but this is my first cup of tea so too bad! :D This is out of the pile of Harney samples that I realized I still haven’t tried. I can be such a slacker… I wanted a straight black and this was the first one I saw, so voila! I think the name describes this tea very well, the leaves are small and curly, half golden and half dark brown. I can totally imagine these being the coat of some adorable curly-haired monkey. Okay, that doesn’t make much sense but too bad! The smell is unlike any other tea I’ve had so far. It’s extremely strong malt and almost savory, but there’s definitely a hint of honey in there too. It definitely piqued my interest. Kind of followed the average parameters on here and steeped for 4 minutes at about 200 degrees.
It’s interesting, as soon as I took the lid off of my brewing basket, I definitely smelled a strong fruit note. However, when I took the basket out and sniffed the tea, it wasn’t there. I discovered that it was coming from the leaves, which I thought was interesting. The brew itself smells strongly of crusty bread with a small bit of cocoa and maybe some honey. Oh my goodness! This tea is just like eating that dark wheat bread that steakhouses serve you with honey butter! I was floored by how spot-on it is. Needless to say, it has a very strong bready flavor, specifically dark wheat bread. There’s also a strong malt taste, which makes perfect sense as the yeast in the bread! And then a touch of cocoa just to make it a tad rich. I got a sesame seed note at one point, but it wasn’t something I picked up on during every sip. The aftertaste is all malt. I know honey is a very common descriptor for this one, but I didn’t really get that. There was definitely some sweetness but I guess I associated that either with the dark bread or cocoa notes. Sweetener might have brought that out more but I wouldn’t dare with this tea!
I think Golden Monkey may have been one of the five free TeaVivre samples I chose, and now I really hope it was because I would love to try another version of this tea! So yummy and satisfying.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Malt
This was one of the two flavored teas that I chose when I ordered samples from Harney & Sons, mostly because I love vanilla and it seemed to have rave reviews around here. And I’m always up for more caffeine-free options! The dry leaf looks fairly unremarkable – there are generic small black leaves with some strange tiny white specks mixed in. Some kind of flavoring, I assume? Anyway, it smells divine. I would describe it as a creme brulee kind of smell. It’s sweet and creamy vanilla custard mixed with a bit of caramel and coconut. Steeped for 5 minutes.
The brewed tea smells like creme brulee too! Sweet vanilla and cream with a caramel note and a hint of frosting. Yum, yum, and yum. Tasting, I get definite notes of custard and lots of creamy vanilla. I also catch the taste of buttercream frosting, which needless to say is delicious. I don’t really get much from the base tea, but I don’t suppose that’s the point with a tea like this. From what I can tell, decaf black tea bases tend to not taste very impressive anyway. I did get a touch of bitterness toward the end, so maybe I should try a shorter steep. Thanks, Steepster, for bringing me and this delicious tea together! :P
Flavors: Cream, Custard, Frosting, Vanilla
Yay, one of my samples from Butiki! I’ve been looking at this tea since I found their website, and I’m way excited to try it. :D I have to say this is the most beautiful tea I’ve seen thus far. The leaves are so dramatic – crazy long and twisty and spindly like the roots of some ancient tree. And they’re pretty much pitch black which makes them all the more gorgeous. There are a few cream-colored dry flower petals in here as well, as a nice contrast and accent to the leaves. The smell is not what I expected: I get a lot of yogurt scent for some reason. Maybe I’m crazy, heh. But it’s definitely vanilla yogurt with some caramelly drizzle on top. I’m glad the sample is meant for one serving because I can imagine this tea being a pain in the butt to measure. :P
The leaves get so huge when this steeps! It reminds me of steeping oolong in terms of how much it expands in the water. Amazing! This aroma is much more what I would expect from this tea. I can smell caramel and vanilla goodness mixed with a lot of raisin and little bit of yogurt (?!). Drinking this is like eating raisins! Which is fine with me because I happen to love raisins. So raisin is definitely the most prominent taste for me, with a little hint of cocoa. I didn’t seem to get much caramel or vanilla at first, so I added a tiny bit of sugar to the second half of the cup and they came out immediately. Yum yum yum. I don’t have any experience with Taiwanese assams so I think I would have to try a plain one to really be able to pick up on the flavoring in this tea. I suspect it blends so well with the base that I can’t pick it out individually, which is a good thing!
For some reason, this tea has a very tart or sour aftertaste for me… Anyone else experience that?
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Raisins, Vanilla
This is a backlog from last night. I got a sample of this tea with my David’s order. I was pretty happy to see a couple of the carnival teas since people have been talking about them so much around here. The dry tea is a jumble of stuff – popcorn, nuts, candied pineapple, apple, etc. It smells tasty – like popcorn and caramel and butter. Yum! I steeped the whole sample for 5 minutes.
It smelled super yummy! Similar to the dry leaf, but with depth. I actually thought this tasted very much like caramel corn, but perhaps with a bit more butter. It’s like a mix of caramel corn and buttered movie popcorn. Mine came out kinda weak, so if I did purchase this I would definitely use more tea per cup than they recommend. Overall, thought they did a good job of emulating caramel corn with this one. :) I really want to try Cherry Snowcone!
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Popcorn, Salt, Toffee
I’m not generally a fan of all-fruit teas, but I received this one as a sample when I purchased some cups from David’s. There is no apple or hibiscus in it, so we were off to a good start. The loose tea is mostly chunks of fruit with red and yellow flower petals mixed in for visual interest. Mine had a couple big pieces of strawberry and then a lot of smaller pieces of candied pineapple and mango. It smells quite tasty. There’s a very strong tart pineapple and mango scent with orange and strawberry frolicking in the background. I steeped the whole sample (a little over a teaspoon) for 5 minutes.
The brewed tea smells almost exactly like Tang! It’s mostly orange with notes of pineapple and mango. It smells quite tart, just like the dry leaf. I was worried that this would just be an orange tea, but I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted it. The orange is definitely most present, but it blends beautifully with the pineapple and mango flavors to make one juicy, fruity tea. It was tart, so I added a very small amount of sugar just to take the edge off, and this made it much more tasty. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this tea and I would purchase more. :)
Flavors: Mango, Orange, Pineapple, Tangy
H&S included a free sachet of this in my order, which is funny because I ordered a sample of the loose leaf version… So while I wish they would have chosen something else, at least I know I’ll like this. The leaves look like all senchas have to me – little dark green flat needles. The smell is similar also – quite sweet with spinach and squash. I steeped it for 1 minute in one of my new, cute noble cups.
I’m finding that I really enjoy the lighter steamed senchas versus the more heavily steamed ones. The flavor is a bit rougher or more grassy as opposed to super deep vegetal. This tea’s aroma is spinach, but I also find broccoli and carrot in there somewhere. It tastes different than others I’ve tried so far. There is that ubiquitous steamed spinach taste and the broccoli from the aroma, but I also taste autumn leaves. The aftertaste is spinachy but also slightly roasty. It’s almost like this tea has a bit of houjicha mixed in somewhere! Quite tasty.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Broccoli, Spinach, Vegetal
I got a silken sachet of this as a free sample with my H&S order. It looks similar to other jasmine pearl teas I’ve tried. The pearl are small and tightly rolled with very dark green leaves and silvery threads interwoven. There are about 20 or so pearls in my sachet. There is a very powerful and sweet jasmine scent as soon as I open the pouch, along with a touch of light vegetal aroma – maybe lettuce? I brewed my sachet for 3 minutes.
The brewed tea smells similar to the leaf, but in a much subtler way. The jasmine is still the main element, but it does not seem as perfumey now, and I can catch a scent of buttery, mild green tea. Tasting this tea, the jasmine seems more mild than it has been in other jasmine pearl teas I’ve had before, and I definitely appreciate this. The green tea base is mild and sweet, and it reminds me more of fresh leaves than vegetables. There is a slight floral aftertaste.
I don’t know, after trying some straight green teas (admittedly, they’re been mostly Japanese and this is a Chinese tea, so I’m sure there’s a lot of difference) I just don’t find myself enjoying this style of tea as much. It is definitely a calming cup, though.
Flavors: Grass, Jasmine, Sweet
So Stacy from Butiki posted on Facebook that she had a stray ounce of this lingering around and I volunteered to be its new home! Hooray! She was also nice enough to include two samples even though I only spent $5 for this tea (plus the shipping). So yay for Stacy for being so nice! This is my first Butiki tea, although I have been plotting an order since I discovered them here on Steepster a few weeks ago. Soon!
Anyway, this tea is quite beautiful visually, even though it’s just tea leaves with a few golden flower petals. The leaves are nice mix of chocolately brown and gold, and the petals accent their color perfectly. It also smells quite lovely – all nutmeg and vanilla goodness reminiscent of eggnog. I brewed one teaspoon for 3 minutes (Stacy included a note recommending 190 degrees).
The brewed tea smells even better than the dry version. The nutmeg and vanilla have toned down a bit, but they are joined by luscious notes of chocolate and raisin, giving it a richness and depth. I was surprised when I tasted this that I didn’t get a sense of vanilla or cream that many other tasters described. I did get a light but multi-flavored base tea that is well-accented by the addition of nutmeg. The nutmeg hits me most at the beginning and end of the sip, while in the middle I taste lovely hints of raisin, wood, and honey. Quite tasty, and I didn’t miss the cream at all.
I drank this one au naturel, but I can definitely see it being a decadent eggnog treat with added milk and sugar. Thanks again, Stacy! :)
Flavors: Honey, Nutmeg, Raisins, Wood
The first of my three free samples from Nina’s Paris. Thanks to Laurent and Dorian for sending these my way! :) These samples came in the most adorably tiny zipper bags… I knew I wanted to try one of the zodiac rooibos blends and this one seemed like it was well-liked on Steepster. My sample didn’t have any dried strawberry pieces in it, which makes sense because it’s a small amount. It just looks like plain rooibos. The smell is delicious though! There’s a very tart, bright strawberry scent coupled with a sweet, candylike strawberry scent, in addition to sumptuous vanilla and cream aromas. My sample doesn’t really have enough for two cups, but I didn’t want to risk overleafing when I only get to try this once, so I didn’t use the whole thing. I used a slightly heaping teaspoon and brewed it for 5 minutes.
The brewed tea smells quite lovely. There’s a very juicy strawberry scent – like natural strawberry flavor that has been pumped up with a bit of artificial candy flavor. I also get vanilla and a bit of rooibos in the background. Tasting this, the strawberry flavoring reminds me of Kusmi’s Strawberry Green. It’s a somewhat “jammy” strawberry flavor, meaning it tastes deep and almost cooked with a natural sweetness. Although I don’t really get cream from this, the vanilla is a nice substitute and produces a similar effect. Then there’s that tart, interesting strawberry aftertaste, which is exactly the same as in the aforementioned Kusmi tea.
I very much enjoyed this tea, being a liker of red rooibos and strawberry things in general. I feel like milk would go well, but I was afraid it would overpower the flavors. I’m really interested in trying all of the Nina’s zodiac teas, and I wish they offered a sampler… As it is, I’ll probably just buy one of them, then when I drink it all replace it with another, and so on. :P
Flavors: Candy, Jam, Rooibos, Strawberry, Vanilla
Oh, the infamous Tower of London, much beloved around these parts. I had high hopes for this one after hearing its praise sung in many a tasting note. The dry leaf pretty much looks like a “generic” black tea – very dark, short, slightly twisty leaves. However, the smell is not at all generic. It’s a powerful and tart-smelling combination of peach, vanilla, and bergamot. I actually brewed this twice.
The first time, I did a teaspoon for 4 minutes (which was the average steep time according to Steepster). It came out quite bitter and I couldn’t finish the cup, even with sugar. I’ve had the exact same problem with Paris before.
The second time, I did a 5 minute steep instead (which seemed to solve the problem in the past). It came out much better at these parameters. It has a sweet and tantalizing aroma with a lot of vanilla, accented by peach, plum, and honey fragrances. The taste is similar but a bit more complex. The vanilla hits my tongue first, followed by the bergamot, then a jumble of peaches and dark sweet cherries. Finally, the honey comes in at the end, right before a slightly unpleasant bitterness. Not sure what I’m doing wrong there. I found this tea to be quite similar to Paris, perhaps with a touch more bergamot and with a slightly brighter fruit flavor compared to Paris’s more jammy one. A tasty tea with a bit of sugar added.
Flavors: Bergamot, Cherry, Honey, Peach, Vanilla