386 Tasting Notes
Yay, I feel much more comfortable tasting these Shang teas now that I’m home with my variable temperature kettle. My mother doesn’t really have a thermometer that lends itself to measuring water temperature – she just has the “instant read” variety that you normally use for meat, and they take too long to measure the temperature, allowing the water to cool somewhat in the time it takes to find out the temperature. Anyway, hooray for kettles! I did have good experiences with the Shang teas I tried at her place as well, so no harm done there.
So, this tea. The dry leaves are very dark and rather small and wiry, and there are a very few golden tips mixed in. Their scent is mostly raw, chewy grains (if you don’t know what I mean, chew on a little bit of raw oats or other cereal grain). I get a little whiff of peanuts in the shell also, which is interesting. I was considering doing a 3-minute steep, but I ended up stopping at 2 (which I think was the correct decision).
The brewed aroma is dark multigrain baked bread studded with dark dried fruits (raisins, cherries, prunes) and drizzled with a touch of molasses. I love the bready teas, so it was making my mouth water! Yum, this tea! It definitely has both the chewy raw grain flavor and the dark baked bread flavor as well. Best of both worlds! That dark fruitiness from the aroma is also present in the taste. I get just the tiniest hint of cinnamon near the end of the sip, and I love it in this tea! Funnily enough, I can taste the peanuts from the dry scent, hah! No shells this time, just raw or lightly roasted peanuts. Of course, there’s a coating of honey/molasses over the top of the whole darn thing! Overall, this is a very “thick” tasting tea with a heavy mouthfeel. I’m quite glad I didn’t steep it longer, because it’s quite flavorful even at 2 minutes!
I think this might be my favorite so far of their red teas. I have another packet of Golden Needle so I’ll drink that later to compare! :D
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Grain, Honey, Molasses, Peanut, Raisins
Continuing my re-tasting of these chanakara teas that I bought a year or more ago. Luckily there were a couple of boxes that were still wrapped in cellophane, and the flavor seems to be very present so far. When I wanted a caffeine-free tea to sip on, I went for this one. I’m not terribly familiar with dragonfruit itself. I’ve seen them for sale before, but I’ve never actually tasted one. The dry tea bag smells very gingery… uh oh. I steeped for 5 minutes in boiling water.
The brewed aroma is fruity and quite tart from the hibiscus. I can definitely pick up on a kick of ginger. Because of the smell, I added a teaspoon of sugar before I even tasted this tea. I am actually pleasantly surprised by it considering the number of ingredients in it that I don’t generally enjoy (ginger, hibiscus, licorice). Most of the flavor is a lovely fruitiness that is accented but not overpowered by the hibiscus. The fruit definitely reminds me of other “exotic” fruits, such as mango and papaya. I taste the ginger and peppermint only at the end of the sip, and even then they’re quite mild and play nicely off of the fruit.
Overall, I’m quite impressed with the fruit flavor in here, and the restraint on the hibiscus! This would make a super delicious iced tea, too. I might have to order more of this one, and perhaps the loose leaf version this time around!
Flavors: Fruity, Ginger, Hibiscus, Peppermint, Tart
Jeez, I’m really going through the teas I got from Roswell Strange. Every time I go into the kitchen to choose a tea, I end up with one of hers. This one is “generic” black tea leaves with a few slices of almond and some red flower petals. It smells of sugar and caramel with some almond and cinnamon in there too. I did a 3-minute steep at 200 degrees, next time I may go for longer.
The brewed aroma is cinnamon and honey roasted almonds. Yum! I added sugar to mine, and it’s lovely brown sugar-candied almonds with just a little touch of cinnamon. There’s a definite caramelized taste here, and a little hint of buttery pastry. Mine came out just a little bit weaker than I would have liked, so I will probably try a longer steep for the other half of my sample. Overall, I love the flavors here. :D
Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Pastries, Sweet
Another tea from Roswell Strange! And another tea that I was curious about, although it didn’t quite make my Butiki order last weekend. The tea itself is quite beautiful – silver tips mixed with a few pink flower petals. It smells like lovely refreshing watermelon. I followed Stacy’s instructions and did 185 degrees for 4.5 minutes. I may have used a bit more than two teaspoons, maybe closer to a tablespoon.
The brewed aroma is very faint, but it’s the same juicy watermelon from the dry leaves. Yum, this tea! It’s definitely the most convincing, most authentic watermelon flavor (or any fruit flavor really) that I’ve ever tasted in a tea. I did add sugar to mine, just to amp up that lovely flavor. Stacy was right in her description, I did start to get more and more honey notes as the tea cooled. Yum, honey-drizzled watermelon! I didn’t get any floral, but I certainly don’t miss it. In the background, there’s a bit of that lovely hay and grain white tea taste that I love. Yum yum! And I can definitely see this being amazing as a cold or iced brew.
Flavors: Grain, Hay, Honey, Melon, Sweet
I’ve been wanting to try this tea for a while now, since I love blueberry and I’m always on the lookout for the perfect blueberry tea. Luckily, Roswell Strange was kind enough to send me some in our recent swap. Visually, it’s generic black tea with dried blueberries and random flower petals. The smell is jammy, sweet blueberry. Yummm…
Hm… I do enjoy the blueberry flavoring used in this tea, it’s sweet and jammy and delicious. I also enjoy the addition of elderberry in here, it adds a lovely depth. I get a hint of mintiness near the end of some sips, which is odd since there’s no mint here. My problem with this tea is the stevia – it adds that weird artificial sweetener aftertaste that I hate. And I don’t find that the stevia actually makes it very sweet, I added sugar to mine. I also find it a tad bit astringent for some reason.
So close, but not quite. Poo on stevia! :(
Flavors: Berries, Blueberry, Jam, Sweet
This sample came from Nicole (sorry it takes me so long to get through your packages – you send me so much! :P). I have no idea what a jackfruit is, or what it would taste like… This tea is a mixture of rather large and straight green teas leaves and little stubby black tea leaves. There are sizable pieces of orange peel along with some fruit chunks and flower petals. The dry scent is… odd. It’s quite sour and reminds me of pickle brine with a fruity edge. That kind of worried me, heh! I went for a 5 minute steep (recommended is 4-5).
Oh thank goodness, the brewed tea doesn’t smell sour or pickly at all! Just very fruity (similar to mango) with some vanilla and little bit of green tea. Wow, this is delicious! :D It has a lovely creamy fruit flavor, like a mango smoothie. The vanilla is a lovely addition. The green tea base tastes a little bit like autumn leaves in the background. Near the end, I get a flavor that I originally thought tasted a bit like banana taffy, but after reading the description, it’s definitely almond extract. Really lovely!
Overall, this tea reminds me of a mango smoothie with vanilla almond milk. Yummy!
Flavors: Almond, Autumn Leaf Pile, Fruity, Mango, Sweet, Vanilla
This tea came from Roswell Strange. I always jump on any chance I get to try French teas, since they tend to be a pain in the ass to get here in the US. So anytime I’m browsing someone’s cupboard for swap requests, these always jump out at me. I’ve definitely had good experiences with French flavored/scented teas so far! This one smells like black walnuts, hah! So clearly there’s something that contaminated the teas around it, maybe the Candied Almond tea? Not sure, but I don’t really care as long as it doesn’t carry over to the taste. :P I brewed this one with a very level teaspoon because I wanted to get two servings out of the little baggie, but I also did a tad bit less water than I normally use.
The brewed aroma is very mild – it mostly smells like a mellow black tea with caramel elements and maybe the tiniest hint of spice. I do get a little bit of a licorice smell for some reason, although I don’t think there’s licorice flavor in here. I added a scant teaspoon of sugar. Hmm… this is a very subtly flavored tea. I think I taste the black tea base before anything else. There’s some caramel sweetness swirling around, and I definitely get a touch of sweet orange and lemon (more of a candy lemon than a fresh one). The cinnamon manifests as a lovely warming sensation, and I’m tasting something that reminds me of anise or licorice, although it’s extremely mild. The apple comes in at the very end of the sip and combines with the caramel for a lovely aftertaste.
Overall, I think this is the most subtly flavored French tea I’ve had yet, and even though there are several flavors involved, they do merge and play beautifully together. Very nicely done, Dammann Freres!
Aww… I am getting a little bit of a black walnut flavor as it cools… Sad day. I’ll be sure to drink the other half of my sample while it’s still hot!
Flavors: Anise, Apple, Caramel, Lemon, Licorice, Orange, Sweet
I got this tea in a swap from Ost. She sent me a huge amount of it, I guess she didn’t like it much. Well, more for me! I’m not really a wine person, but I do like some sparkling wines (the sweet ones). The tea itself is mostly leaves with some silvery buds mixed in along with some thin red flower petals. It smells like candy! Very sweet and slightly tart raspberry with a definite effervescent quality. There’s white grape juice in there as well. I followed the instructions on Red Leaf’s website and did a 4 minute steep at (about) 180 degrees.
The brewed aroma is very similar to the dry but a bit milder. Woo, this tea! The first thing I notice about it is the effervescent champagne quality it has. Very bubbly! The raspberry flavor is still very candy-like in my opinion, but that’s okay. I’m definitely getting that white grape juice flavor that I smelled before. I added sugar to mine, as the tea wasn’t as sweet as I expected plain.
I can see this being fantastic and refreshing iced! Must try that later! :D Thanks Ost!
Flavors: Candy, Champagne, Hay, Raspberry, Sweet, White Grapes
Hooray, another tea from my 3rd anniversary sampler! I had totally forgotten which teas I chose as my optional ones, and I ended up ordering a sample of this in my sale order the night before last. Oops. I sent them an email asking to change it, just because I would rather try a different tea than one I’ve already had. If not, I won’t be too upset, because this tea is tasty. :D The dry leaves are long and sort of twisty, but more flat than I normally see. They’re quite dark, similar to a black tea. Their smell is a combination of musty hay, sweet honey, and dried apricots.
Mmm, roasty goodness. The brewed tea smells like autumn leaves and stonefruit, with a definite roasted note. I also get roasted leaves as the main note in the taste. It is accompanied by lovely ripe stonefruit drizzled with honey, and a touch of dark, rich raisin. There’s a little bit of a floral note that appears mostly in the aftertaste – I’m not a huge fan of floral, but I don’t mind it here. I also get a lingering roasty taste after the floral dissipates, and it lingers for quite some time. My brew came out a teensy bit bitter, but I think I overleafed it a bit and I probably should have stopped the steep at 2 minutes. Good to know for next time!
Overall, a lovely dark oolong. I can definitely see the similarities between this one and Oriental Beauty-style oolongs. Can’t wait to try more of this type of tea! :D
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Honey, Malt, Raisins, Roasted, Stonefruits
This is a tea that I’ve been really curious about for a while now, so I’m so excited that I got some in my swap from Roswell Strange! Thanks so much! I love marshmallow treats, and I love genmaicha, so obviously this one is a must-try. Visually, it pretty much looks like any other genmaicha, but with the addition of some mallow root pieces. There are a lot of rice kernels, along with a few popped ones. For some reason, the dry leaf smell like black walnuts to me, and I hate black walnuts. Possibly some scent contamination since there were several flavored teas in the envelope, but I’m not sure! None of the others really smell like black walnuts to me, so… Who knows? Anyway!
The brewed tea mostly smells like toasted rice, maybe with a little touch of vanilla in there. I tasted it sans sweetener and I found it mostly tasted like a plain ol’ genmaicha, albeit with extra toasty rice. So then I added sugar, and that definitely helped it to taste more like its namesake. The sweetness really helped the marshmallow/vanilla flavor to come out and play, yum! There’s a buttery taste – I’m not sure whether it’s flavoring or from the green tea itself. The green tea is there a little bit in the background, it mostly manifests as an autumn leafy taste and a slight grassiness.
Overall, I can definitely get the marshmallow treat reference once sugar is added. After all, marshmallows are mostly just sugar themselves. This is toastier than a marshmallow treat, but I think I would very much enjoy one made with toasted grains! Thanks again, Roswell Strange! I really appreciate the chance to try this one, since it’s discontinued. Luckily, I don’t quite love it enough to try to get ahold of some.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Grass, Marshmallow, Toasted Rice, Vanilla