240 Tasting Notes

73
drank Genmaicha by Harney & Sons
240 tasting notes

I’ve been neglecting my H&S samples a little bit because I keep getting more and more teas in the mail. :P But I was in the mood for a genmaicha so I thought I’d give this one a try! Dry leaf is a mixture of broken-up leaves and a decent amount of toasted rice. There aren’t any popped kernels in my sample. Smells like grass with a little bit of sweetness.

Mmm I love the smell of genmaicha – it promises so much toasty rice flavor! However, this one didn’t deliver well on that. The tea is quite grassy and tastes like dried leaves. I would describe it as rough-tasting. The toasted rice is more of a background note and an aftertaste, which makes me sad because that’s my favorite part! Okay, but not something I would purchase.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grass, Toasted Rice

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Tamarindel

I was wondering about that one. So glad H&S sells those little samples.

Cameron B.

Definitely. I bought a bunch of samples when they had their free shipping promotion. :)

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80

Yay, another Star Wars inspired blend! Oh Han, you rascal… :) This seems to be a very chai-like blend. The tea leaves are jet black and there are a ton of cloves mixed in, along with a few pieces of dehydrated ginger. It smells very strongly of clove and ginger, so much so that I can’t really pick up on anything else. Followed the directions and did a 5 minute steep.

Mm, the aroma is very comforting. Clove with a sweet edge, warming cinnamon, and a little hit of ginger. Chai always reminds me of the holidays. :) Clove is definitely the most prominent flavor in this tea, but it’s not overpowering as I expected it to be from the scent. The ginger adds a little bit of sharpness and there’s a lovely warm note from the cinnamon. I don’t know what cardamom tastes like so I can’t comment on that. :P

Next time I think I would use more tea as it tasted a bit thin to me. Would be excellent with milk and sugar!

Is this tea Han? I would say it’s a pretty good representation. A strong man represented by black tea, his mischievous personality in the spicy clove and ginger, and his warm heart in the comforting cinnamon. I wish I would’ve tasted caramel in this to reinforce that aspect. Not bad, Elizabeth O.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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From Simple Loose Leaf’s July box. I expected this to be covered in powder, like other ginseng oolongs I’ve seen online, but there’s no trace of powder at all. It looks like a dark yellow-green rolled oolong. It smells quite grassy and sweet, and for some reason like peanuts in the shell? Lol. The package suggested 3-5 minutes, so I did 4.

I’m always amazed by how big oolong leaves get when steeped. It’s like magic! :D I’ve only tried one green oolong, but this smells similar to how I remember it. It’s rather sweet-smelling, with fruity (peach?) and floral notes. There’s also a vegetal scent similar to sencha. This is an extremely light-tasting tea. All of the flavors are subtle and I found them a little hard to pick out individually. But here goes! I could definitely taste a light vegetal note, but it was so mild that I can’t really be specific. The tea is lightly sweet in an almost fruity way, and I taste a mild and fresh floral note, especially in the aftertaste. And it’s really quite buttery which is nice. :)

I’m not going to rate this because I’m not sure I’m getting all the nuances here. I may try this again with more leaf or a longer steep but for now, I wouldn’t purchase it.

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Peach, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Sarsonator

Hey, no fair! My box didn’t arrive yet! LOL. I love oolongs, so I am really looking forward to this one. :)

Cameron B.

It was a bit mild for me, but I think trying more tea or a longer steep would help. :)

Sarsonator

Duly noted. I like stronger teas, so I’ll use more and let it go a little longer when it arrives!

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75

I got this sample from TeaBrat in our recent swap. I don’t have a lot of experience with green rooibos, so we shall see! There are also a few white and red flower petals in this blend. It smells very strongly of peppermint with a slight sweetness. Candy cane indeed! I brewed for 5 minutes.

The brewed tea has a lovely aroma. The peppermint has grown milder and I pick up on a sweet vanilla note. However, when I taste this plain, I pretty much just get a mild peppermint tea. In a lot of other notes, people mentioned sweetness from stevia but I didn’t get that at all. I’m not sure what green rooibos tastes like but clearly it’s very neutral because I don’t really pick up on any other taste besides peppermint. When I add sugar, it helps to bring out that vanilla sweetness. This is quite tasty with milk and sugar, but kind of unremarkable on its own.

Flavors: Peppermint, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Marzipan

I really like green rooibos, mostly because it doesn’t taste like much.

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80
drank Yunnan Noir by Adagio Teas
240 tasting notes

Hooray, another Yunnan to try! :D I picked this up in my recent Adagio order because I had a $5 coupon and the sample was $5, so I figured that makes it free! ;) Do not question it! The leaves are very cute. They’re all curled up into little loose balls, bi luo chun style. Mostly dark with some golden tips in there too. The dry scent is strong malt with honey and a hay accent – pretty much what I expect at this point. I brewed this twice, first at 4 minutes and then at 3 (not a resteep, with separate leaves each time).

I did 4 minutes first, because it’s the average time for this tea on Steepster. The leaves get pretty big when they unfurl! :D Smells mostly malty with some bread and honey notes mixed in. The taste seemed kind of one-note to me. It was a ton of malt with a little earthy smokiness in there. Meh. Trying again.

Then I did 3 minutes in hopes I would get some other flavors. The aroma was similar, with more honey and some hay as well. I still taste mostly malt, but now there is some honey in there and none of the earth and smoke taste. Still not a super complex flavor profile. I added a bit of sugar and I felt it helped to round out the taste for me. I found this tea pretty good but not great. Somewhere between H&S Tippy Yunnan and Yunnan Golden Tips.

On another note, I saw several reviews for this on Adagio in which people said it didn’t have the normal Yunnan taste. This confuses me a bit because in all the Yunnans I’ve tried so far, the predominant flavors have been strong malt, bread, and honey notes. And this tea definitely has some of those. So I guess I don’t get what the “typical” Yunnan taste is supposed to be. :P

Flavors: Earth, Honey, Malt, Smoke

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
boychik

I make Yunnan blacks only gongfu. With short multiple steeps you can notice diff flavors. Just my 2c ;)

Cameron B.

I will definitely keep that in mind, although I don’t have any kind of gong fu equipment yet. Soon maybe.

TeaTiff

On the gong fu front… a smallish dish/bowl about 4oz with something to strain. I used a glass cooking dish I had for a while with a ziplock plastic lid. Worked just as well, wasn’t pretty, but no body was looking.

boychik

I used to make in Pyrex cup with saucer on top and strainer;)
This easy gaiwan is the best, I use it daily
http://m.ebay.com/itm/350927580204?nav=SEARCH

Arshness

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dragon-Phoenix-Porcelain-Gongfu-Tea-Set-6-Pcs-/271333384037?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f2cbadf65
That set is cute and damn cheap for what it is.

I remember being warned tho about buying painted dishes from China. Something about lead in paint. I wonder how to be sure they are safe.

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65

Aw, one of the best characters ever… Beep boop beep! This tea is a mixture of broken-up green and white tea leaves, lots of dried apple pieces, some rose hips, and a few blueberries. I see some small pieces of hibiscus, so hopefully they won’t factor into the taste (I hate hibiscus, and rose hips for that matter). It smells very apple-y, with some tartness and a sugary scent. Brewed for 3 minutes at 190 degrees.

It smells pretty good – a mild blend of blueberry, vanilla, and the hay scent of white tea. The taste is quite weird though. It feels like the flavors are fighting one another and not melding very well. I can taste a generic green tea taste with a little bit of bitterness and some musty hay from the white tea. I also taste quite a bit of apple and little to no blueberry. Sigh… I hate it when companies include apples as filler. There’s a really weird tart aftertaste from the rosehips that linger unpleasantly at the back of my throat. Overall, pretty meh. Next time I’ll try a lower temperature, since the recommended 190 seems high to me for a blend with green tea in it. I could see trying this cold-brewed too.

Is this R2D2? I don’t think so. I have a sneaking suspicion that the creator chose this combination because it involves a lot of the colors white and blue. I am always so disappointed when fandom blends are created this way… R2D2 is such a go-getter! He definitely needs a caffeine punch in his tea!

Flavors: Apple, Blueberry, Hay, Rosehips, Vegetal

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
mj

My friend and I used to fight over who got to be R2D2 when we played Star Wars. He was one of the best!

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75
drank Sakura Sencha by Den's Tea
240 tasting notes

Another tea from KiwiDelight’s Japanese green sample extravaganza package. It’s a sencha tea with the teensiest cherry blossom buds in it. Cute! The smell is a bit odd… I don’t really smell the sencha, just a strange vinegar scent?

After the tea is brewed, it smells more like a sencha, albeit a mild one. It’s grassy and spinachy in a very light way. There’s a light floral note, and that weird vinegar odor is still there in the background. It tastes similar to the smell – mild grassy sencha with just a wisp of floral taste. I taste vinegar in the back of my mouth at the beginning of the sip – strange but not wholly unpleasant. I asked my boyfriend what he thought, and he said it reminded him of apple cider (what?! weirdo). It seems to me that the floral note is mostly in the aroma.

This was definitely a very delicate tea. I don’t think it lent itself very well to western style – either that or I should have used more leaf. Interesting, but I’m not in love. :P

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Sweet

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Stephanie

The sakura is basically a salted cherry blossom…that could be the vinegar element you are describing. Did you steep at a low temperature? Just curious :)

Cameron B.

I did it at 180. Kiwi sent me a note with steeping recommendations. :)

KiwiDelight

I thought it would be best to send you Den’s instructions. Personally, I don’t like them because the sencha and sakura come out too bitter. Totally recommend a cold-brew of this.

Stephanie

I LOVE THIS COLD BREWED! And lightly sweetened ;)

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85

I got this sample from KiwiDelight. I’m not really going to go into the dry leaf, because I think most of us know what dry sencha looks and smells like (at least, anyone who reads my notes will know by now). Steeped for 1 minute as per usual.

The aroma is pretty standard but still nice – a mixture of spinach and alfalfa with a buttery edge. Tasting this, I assumed that this was a heavily steamed variety because it has more intense flavors. However, it’s actually because it’s not harvested until autumn (I don’t know how steamed it is, it didn’t say). It’s a nice balance between the intense and sweet flavors of gyokuro and the more savory flavor of sencha. I get notes of spinach, zucchini, and butter with a little touch of savory seaweed. Overall, quite tasty and I would definitely drink it again. :)

Flavors: Butter, Grass, Seaweed, Spinach, Zucchini

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

This is the first tea I selected to try from my brand spanking new Star Wars fandom sampler from Adagio. To be honest, I’m not expecting much from these teas and I mostly bought the sampler for the cute tins (I love Star Wars…). I chose this one because it smells fantastic! It’s very strong marzipan/sweet almond scent with other roasty nuttiness mixed in and a few spices. The dry leaf is a mix of a ton of various tiny brown things. Only a few tiny chocolate chips, which makes me happy because I generally don’t like chocolate in teas. On to the tasting! BRRWHHHAARGH! …sorry, I don’t know how to spell a Chewbacca roar…

The aroma of this tea is yum and yum! It’s a more toned-down marzipan mixed with hazelnut and nice roastiness. The taste is also more yum and yum! It’s much more subtle than the smell, but the flavors blend beautifully. There’s a lovely roasted nutty taste with little hints of sweet almond and spice. It also seems a little vanilla-like to me, but there is no vanilla in this so I guess it’s just the almond! I don’t taste chocolate, hooray! This is a very warm and comforting tea, and it reminds me of the holidays. I found myself inhaling with each sip to smell that amazing marzipan goodness. I added a bit of sugar to the second half and I think I may have liked it better without. I can see this being good with milk too!

Now, to the really important part… does this represent Chewbacca? I would say it does a decent job at least. Chewbacca is generally laid back, warm and fuzzy, just like this blend. Then there’s the hints of spice and the caffeine kick from the mate to represent his outbursts. Bravo, I say! I am so pleasantly surprised by this one!

Flavors: Almond, Marzipan, Roasted nuts, Spices, Toasty

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Sami Kelsh

This sounds so CUTE. I’d be sorely tempted to get this sampler for Gentleman if I could persuade him to like anything more exotic than breakfast tea, bless.

Cameron B.

Hah, yeah he definitely wouldn’t like it then! There’s only one black tea and it’s a chai basically. :P

Sami Kelsh

Maybe I should get it, drink the teas, fill the tins with English Breakfast, and THEN gift it to him. Such a thoughtful partner. :p

Cameron B.

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but you can’t get it anymore after the weekend. :(

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78
drank Tippy Yunnan by Harney & Sons
240 tasting notes

My last new Yunnan to try from H&S. I was a little intimidated to try this one, and I’m blaming boychik! ;) I believe she used the word “gross”… Eep. The dry leaves are kind of short and slightly curved, and they’re mostly black with some scattered golden tips. The smell is similar to the Yunnan Golden Tips I tried yesterday morning – very malty with scents of honey and stonefruits. This one also has a sort of musty hay note to it. I did a 3 minute steep because it seemed to be what most people suggested after trying this one.

Well, this Yunnan is definitely very different from the other couple that I’ve tried so far. It almost seems like a completely different type of tea – the only note that really ties them together is malt. While others I’ve tried have been bready, this tea is very earthy and has a fair amount of smoke taste to it. There’s a light honey flavor that I augmented with a small amount of sugar. The sweetness also helped to cut the earth and smoke flavors slightly. I also get an aftertaste that definitely reminds me of leather, but in a mild way. Boychik had warned me that this made her mouth very fuzzy, and I definitely do get a dry mouthfeel from it (that’s what astringency means, right?), but I didn’t have to brush my teeth after. :P

Overall, I realize this is a lower grade tea than the others but I feel it has a similar level of complexity but with largely different flavors. I quite enjoyed it. :)

Flavors: Earth, Honey, Leather, Malt, Smoke

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
boychik

Is is possible that I got wrong tea in a right labeled sample haha
I run it thru finest strainer and it was full of tiny blackish fuzz. Not astringent. Anyway i may or may not try another time, western only.

Cameron B.

I can send you some of mine to compare if you want! :P

Cameron B.

I didn’t see any particles in mine at all. I brewed it in my Finium basket.

boychik

Maybe we can swap in Sept, I’m in Poconos till Labor Day;)

Cameron B.

Definitely. Although I’m going to predict that we will have forgotten by then! ;)

boychik

Not necessarily. I got lots of good samples and I want them in good hands. I like your reviews and I like that you are not afraid of experimenting ;-)

Cameron B.

Aw, thanks! :D You’ve been such a great help since I started on here a month ago.

Nicole

I have also found that if you can drink dairy, and you have a Yunnan that is on the edge of good but not great that you didn’t pay a lot for… about a tablespoon or less of cream in a 12 ounce mug improves it a lot for me. Evens out any bitterness or dry astringency or harshness.

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Profile

Bio

Hello, my name is Cameron. I’m 24 years old and currently living in Saratoga Springs, New York with my lovely boyfriend (a software architect). I am currently not employed, which leaves plenty of time for cooking and tea-drinking! I am a staunch lover of pugs and other squishy-face dogs, although sadly I do not currently have one. :(

I originally got into tea a couple of years ago. My sister introduced me to Teavana (there was a store in the nearby mall) and I was hooked. I have just started to drink tea again and I am very grateful to have found this community where there are so many with experience and wisdom to share!

Currently trying to move out of the flavored tea phase and into those tasty straight teas!

I love swaps! If you see something in my cupboard that you’d like to try, shoot me a private message and we’ll work something out!

My general tea info:

Likes:
Flavored Blacks
Golden Yunnans
Genmaicha (traditional or otherwise)
Blueberry
Vanilla

Currently Exploring:
Chinese Blacks

Not A Fan
Licorice Root
Hibiscus
Rose Hips
Most fruit blends (they all taste the same to me…)

Rating Scale:

90-100: Spectacular, a staple
80-89: Delicious, might buy again
70-79: Pretty good, won’t repurchase
60-69: Just “okay”
00-59: Undrinkable!

Location

Saratoga Springs, New York

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