215 Tasting Notes

85

Another tea from Nicole! Jeez, I think half of my stash is from her… ;) The black tea leaves almost look like they’re rolled, which is interesting. It smells very honey-sweet, with some vanilla and caramel in there too. Yummy! I steeped for 3 minutes. When I saw the wet leaves, I immediately thought that I was wrong about the base tea. They look very similar to oolong leaves to me. So I double-checked the description and it says Indian black tea. Hrm…

It’s odd, I feel like I taste oolong, too! There’s that slight autumn leaf thing going on, which is something I would attribute to roasted or oxidized oolong (or houjicha). Strange! I guess I just don’t know what Indian black teas taste like! That being said, I like this tea very much! It has a very strong honey flavor (yum) along with some vanilla and caramel goodness playing around. I get a definite fruitiness, especially in the aftertaste – it reminds me of tart apricots and plums. Delicious! And overall, it’s very creamy, and the base tea itself is quite light in flavor.

Nicole, I may have to buy the rest of this from you! We shall see…

Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramel, Cream, Honey, Malt, Plums, Vanilla

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

Your tea is having an identity crisis. :p

Sure sounds good, though!!!

Cameron B.

Hah. I just don’t know jack about Indian teas. :P I wonder what kind it is!

Nicole

I’m so glad you liked this one!

Cameron B.

Me too, Nicole! I still think it’s lying about being black tea! :P

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80

This sample came from the lovely and generous Nicole. There’s quite a bit of gold in these leaves, more so than the others I’ve tried recently. The leaves themselves are quite thin and twisty. I can’t really say much about the dry scent, because it smells like milk oolong. HAH! Clearly some cross-contamination there. :P

The brewed aroma is light malt with honey and that lovely stonefruit note I’ve been missing. Confession, I kind of forgot about this tea while I was browsing stuff online… Oops! Luckily for me, it didn’t get bitter or astringent or anything. Definitely a mark in its favor! It has that lovely light malty toast flavor that I’ve come to expect from lighter Yunnans, drizzled with honey. There’s a little hint of raisin in the background, but it’s more of a golden raisin. I also get a bit of stonefruit, yum! I suspect I’m getting more fruit because the tea has cooled so much, so I would assume it’ll be less prominent when hot. Still delicious though! I would have a hard time differentiating this from other similar teas. It’s not unique, but it has all the things I love about Yunnan!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Honey, Malt, Raisins, Stonefruits

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

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80
drank Florence by Harney & Sons
215 tasting notes

This sample is from Nicole. It was one of the teas that she doesn’t like or doesn’t reach for enough, so I asked her to send me some. I haven’t been a huge fan of chocolate teas in the past, but this one seems to have a good reputation around here and I do love nutty teas. Dry, it smells quite lovely – sweet and very hazelnutty. I steeped it for 5 minutes because I’ve had bad experiences with Harney & Sons flavored teas if I try to steep them for less time.

Overall, I found this to be a perfectly nice tea. The chocolate is definitely the dark variety, more like cocoa powder than actual chocolate. It’s very nutty, which I love. I’m not sure my palate is quite good enough to pinpoint the exact types of nuts, but hazelnut sounds close enough. The nuts give it a nice creamy flavor.

I expected this tea to be like liquid Nutella, but the chocolate flavor is definitely more of a bitter cocoa than a milk chocolate. I added sugar to mine and it was quite tasty, especially with the creaminess. I tried adding some half-and-half at the end to see if I could bring out a milkier chocolate, but it totally ruined it. Stupid half-and-half, why do you always do that? :P

Flavors: Cocoa, Cream, Hazelnut, Roasted nuts

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

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80
drank Yunnan Buds by Palais des Thes
215 tasting notes

This tea’s first review! No pressure or anything. :P

Another Yunnan specimen from Nicole! Looks similar to the Steven Smith version I just tried – mostly dark grey/brown leaves with a few golden buds mixed in. Dry scent is mildly malty, somewhat musty, and quite sweet, although I’m not sure I’d describe it as honey.

Whoa, powerful aroma! Very malty with an earthiness that’s mineral and almost smoky. I can catch a little hint of raisin in there somewhere. The taste is way less intense than I expected from the aroma! Primarily malt and dark bread. There are some earth and wood flavors, but they’re not overpowering. I also taste slight leather and tobacco notes. There’s a little bit of sweetness, but in a rich way, similar to molasses or dark caramel. I was very surprised to find an aftertaste of sweet honeyed toast!

I was very pleasantly surprised by this tea! I had expected it to be very intense and “manly” based solely off of the aroma, but it tastes much milder. I feel like this tea represents a good happy medium between the darker, rougher Yunnans and the light honeyed versions. A nice everyday tea! :)

Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Earth, Honey, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Toast, Tobacco, Wood

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

I’m glad you reviewed this one. I still need to try another couple methods and take some time with it before I was going to put down my thoughts. Thus far, it doesn’t bear up to the price for me. There are less expensive that I like more at this point.

Cameron B.

Holy crap, that is so expensive! Yeah, there’s no way it’s worth that price. The description also says it’s all buds, which isn’t true? Weird.

Nicole

Yeah, not sure what they are defining as “buds.”

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85

I’m kind of a grumpface today… Our new roommate (and my boyfriend’s friend and coworker) has only been here a week, and he already bought tickets for some girl to come visit him. For a week. And they’re not even dating, and she’s 19 to boot (no offense meant to the younger people on here, but I generally do not like or get along with teenagers)… Seriously? And since he and my boyfriend generally work from about 8 to 5 during the week, I will most likely have the pleasure of entertaining this person all day long. Seriously? I am at a loss as to why this is going down… But you know, clearly my opinion doesn’t matter as long as he asks my boyfriend about it, who is never going to say no. So yes, grumpface.

So, on to the tea then. The leaves are what I would call “medium-sized” and twisty. They’re mostly dark with little spots of gold. They smell mildly malty with honey sweetness, yum. I did a 3 minute brew just out of habit.

The aroma is quite dark. Very malty, with a syrupy deep raisin note and something somewhere between honey and molasses. Wow, the flavor here is deep. I definitely agree with Terri about this being a manly tea. That dark raisin aroma carries over into taste, but it’s not sweet at all. Needless to say, this is quite malty. There’s tobacco and soft leather, maybe a touch of earthiness. There’s also an interesting almost bitterness that I feel is inherent to the tea (meaning not a result of incorrect brewing). It melds nicely with the leather and tobacco notes.

Nicole mentioned maybe a bit of smoke in here, and although I wouldn’t call it smoke, I can see what she’s talking about. It’s definitely dark and intense, and the earthy quality could definitely be described as almost smoky.

I quite enjoyed this tea. It’s amazing to see (or rather taste) the wide range of flavors and experiences that can come out of one region (Yunnan). The golden, fuzzy Yunnan teas are light with pastry and honey-sweetness, while the darker varieties can be very assertive and rich, with deep and developed savory flavors. Amazing! I’m so glad I’m getting the chance to try all of the different kinds, especially since most of them were from swaps! Thanks everyone, and Nicole in particular, who provided this sample, along with many others! :)

Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Raisins, Tobacco

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

You know the saying, fish and guests stink after three days.

Cameron B.

HAH! I have never heard that, but you made me laugh with it. :P

mj

Totally justified in your grumpface, in my opinion! I had a friend who was in a very similar boyfriend + roommate living situation and it is tricky to say the least!

Sami Kelsh

One of my flatmates currently has her parents visiting, and while I super don’t mind at all (as I’m barely home myself on weekdays) I have to be super noise-conscious as it means my flatmate’s sleeping on the living room couch. And her folks decided to stay on an extra week, poor dear!

TeaBrat

ugh, maybe you should go somewhere while she’s here. :)

Nicole

That would make me a grumpface also. That’s just rude.

Cameron B.

Honestly, I’m sure it’ll be fine, hopefully the time will go by fast. And after talking to my boyfriend about it, I think they might work from home while she’s here so I don’t have to babysit all day. I’m just a bit peeved over the whole thing. :P

sherapop

I would recommend spending the week visiting all of your local tea houses! Carpe Diem! ;-)

Ost

Oy. Yeah, teenagers suck. Good luck you ya!

apt

teenagers are horrible

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85

I purchased this tea from Hapatite in her stash sale! Any time I see anything Fauchon, I have to jump on it. This was definitely the one I was most excited about, as I love almond. However, I did not realize that it’s an oolong base… For some reason I guess I assumed it was black like the others. I don’t know enough about oolongs to tell you what kind this is… It’s loosely rolled and still somewhat green, but seems partially oxidized, so I guess maybe tieguanyin? I don’t know! There are also flower petals, orange peel, and almonds, along with some stems. The dry scent is very sweet almond, which got me excited! There’s definitely some orange there too. I didn’t really know how to steep it, so I just went with my general French flavored/scented tea method – 3 minutes at 200 degrees.

I didn’t write any notes while I was having this tea, so I don’t really remember much about the aroma besides that it was citrusy and I could smell the greenness of the oolong underneath. I was pleasantly surprised by this tea! . The orange in it is quite nice. I’m not sure that I would call it completely authentic, but I find it does taste similar to real orange with a little extra tartness and a touch of candy flavor. The best of all worlds! :) Unfortunately for me, I didn’t find much of the almond in here, which is a shame. But I find that it doesn’t necessarily need it (although it would be nice). The base is very mild, I don’t really get any vegetal or overly floral taste like I do with green oolongs. It just kind of adds a nice mild autumn leafy, slightly toasty sort of flavor. There is a bit of floral here, but it’s very light and serves only to accent the orange.

This is a very lovely tea, and another win from Fauchon. I did drink it with a bit of sugar added, as I almost always do with flavored teas. I will definitely be keeping this tea in mind as an afternoon or early evening option (I’m unsure how much caffeine this type of oolong contains…). Thanks again, Hapatite, for giving me the opportunity to try this delightful tea! :)

Flavors: Almond, Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Orange

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

This is a traditional tieguanyin base, which means that it is lightly roasted. I’ve really come to enjoy this type of oolong, glad you enjoyed it too!

MzPriss

I will confess that I have new tin of this along with the Pear one as I found them at TJMaxx. I’m sort of afraid to try them as I don’t usually like flavored tea that isn’t some sort of natural (for example real actually vanilla beans) flavor, but we’ll see…

MzPriss

OK, I just made this. I have to say – not heinous. I would drink this from time to time maybe, but not a whole tin and especially not a whole tin before it goes stale. But I will for sure finish this cup – which is saying something for me and a flavored tea. I like oolong base.

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85

Hello everyone, I hope you’re all having good weekends! I decided to do gong fu with this tea today because I felt like I wasn’t getting the full potential when I tasted it western-style. I mostly used TeaVivre’s parameters, but adjusted the amount of water to 4 ounces and then used 4 grams of tea, which turned out to be 4 pearls. I also used 200 degree water instead of boiling.

The method: 4g tea per 4oz water, 200 degrees, 10s rinse/30/50/70/90/120s

Rinse (10s): very light, woody, golden raisins (the pearls puffed up but held their shape)

Steep 1 (30s): strong bitter cocoa with some woodiness, burnt sugar (the pearls fell apart completely!)

Steep 2 (50s): very earthy in a mineral sense (licking a rock comes to mind), bitter cocoa

Steep 3 (70s): mellower earthiness, autumn leaves, dark but not bitter cocoa

Steep 4 (90s): very similar to steep 2, earthy and highly mineral

Steep 5 (120s): similar to steep 3, mellow earth with autumn leaves, buttered toast!

So, I was not a big fan of those highly earthy and mineral steeps… In fact, I didn’t finish either of them. Just blegh. My favorites were the first and last steeps, which suggests to me that maybe I should try this again with shorter steeps? Or maybe I’ll just stick to western-style with this one.

Any suggestions for a gong fu method that won’t bring out so much earthy/mineral flavor would be greatly appreciated! I only have enough of this left for one more cup or session… So I want to get it right! :P

I also noticed that there’s a tad bit of water left in the bottom after I drain the leaves. I’m assuming this is okay, since I don’t see how I would get all of it without dumping into a strainer. Would love to be corrected if I’m wrong!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Burnt Sugar, Cocoa, Earth, Mineral, Toast, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Stephanie

This is a great tea! Hope you are having a good weekend too! I’m at work actually, boo.

Cameron B.

Thanks Stephanie! What’s your favorite way to brew this one? And I’m sorry you have to be at work! :(

Stephanie

I like it semi-western! Long and super rich steeps for me :)

I usually only get 2 or 3 steeps that way though. Sorry it’s not tasting like you’d hoped!

Cameron B.

How long do you usually let it go for? The website recommends 5-10 minutes, sheesh. :P

Stephanie

4-5 mins usually

Stephanie

It DOES take a while for those pearls to unfurl!

Sarsonator

I am dying to try this!!!!

MzPriss

Oh Sars – I have a shitload and I don’t love it so I can send you plenty

Cameron B.

MzPriss, I don’t love it either so far. Going to try the Stephanie method last and hopefully that makes it for me!

MzPriss

I can try the Stephanie way – people seem to love it, but I havent so far

Sarsonator

Cam sent me some, MzP. I’ll try it and report back. :o)

MzPriss

It sounded like just the kind of thing I would love so I got one of those Teavivre tins of it. I can’t get it to the point where it tastes the way others describe it tasting.

Cameron B.

Luckily mine was one of the free samples I chose, so I didn’t pay for it. It’s not bad, but it seems fairly nondescript to me, and I don’t seem to get chocolate like others do. :(

Sarsonator

I used 4 pearls in 6 oz. for 5 min. Seemed to work pretty well. I thought it was good! I definitely found a little cocoa.

Stephanie

Interesting that everyone’s experience is so different!

MzPriss

Stephanie it always surprises me how differently people experience tastes and smells in tea

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75

SIPDOWN! (101)

This tea was given to me by TeaBrat. She added it to a swap just out of the kindness of her heart. :) Overall, I find it pretty good, and caffeine-free options are always nice in the evening. I did a shorter steep this time around so the peppermint flavor would be a bit less intense. My only issue with this blend is the stevia – it adds a weird faux sugar aftertaste that I don’t like. I wish they would leave that out and allow people to sweeten it themselves if they choose to. I think a little bit of vanilla would be helpful too, just to give it that sweetness that candy canes obviously have.

I’m happy that I got the chance to try this blend, but it’s not something I would restock. But I’m not the biggest mint fan either, especially peppermint. :P

Edit: I hope I’m not annoying anyone with all of these sipdown notes… I realize they don’t have much substance! Don’t worry, I’ll go back to writing meaningful tasting notes soon.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Dexter

If the tasting note conveys your thoughts on the tea then it’s meaningful. :))

Cameron B.

You know what I mean! :P Smarty-pants.

Dexter

I was trying to say that we are interested in your thoughts and impressions – this style of note is just as meaningful as the more technical style.
(I’m also not a mint fan…..)

Cameron B.

Well that’s sweet of you to say. I was mostly concerned because of the volume of these notes I’ve been posting. Don’t want to spam up anyone’s dashboard!

Sarsonator

I just dropped by to say: “Eeeeeew MINT!!!” :p

Dexter

LOL no worries, my dashboard was a little slow tonight – I actually enjoyed the “spam” ;))

Sarsonator

OMG. I just realized that this makes me a troll.

A MINT TROLL!!!!!

TeaBrat

Agree, most of the time I don’t like stevia in things either.

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75

SIPDOWN! (102)

This one wasn’t roasty enough for me before, so I figured I’d try a longer steep this time around and see if that intensified the toasted rice flavor. Noop. I still taste too much grassiness and not enough nommy roasty toastiness. This was my last traditional genmaicha, but I’m not too upset about it, considering I still have the lovely Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha! And hooray, I’m almost under a hundred teas!

Too bad I have more on the way… hangs head.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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78

SIPDOWN! (103)

Meh, returning to this tea after trying many Yunnans over the past couple (few?) weeks and finding it sub-par. I have clearly been ruined by all of those lovely tippy, golden Yunnan teas I’ve ordered and received (all Nicole’s fault). This just can’t compare. It’s very harsh and somewhat bitter compared to what I’m now used to. I’m not really getting honey, just strong malt and “tea” taste. I tried this one yesterday with the 1/2/4 steep method and while it was improved, it was nowhere near my new favorites…

Oh no… I’m a snob!

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

LOL sneaky snobbery

TheTeaFairy

Haha! Tea snobbery is a sneaky little thing, isn’t it?

TheTeaFairy

(Haha! Had not seen your comment mj, we said almost the same thing!!!)

mj

Well, you know what they say, great minds think alike. This proves it :)

Cameron B.

I’m just an incognito tea snob… Like a ninja. ;)

TheTeaFairy

Haha! NinjaCam, sounds great!!

whatshesaid

Oh no! ;)

(The way I look at it is my money can go towards teas I love instead of “meh” teas)

Cameron B.

I jump from roof to roof! …and get my friends free cable. Badass.

mj

Can you please come jump to my roof then because I pay way too much for internet!

boychik

What does it make me? This tea is GROSS. Period. Enough said.

Cameron B.

boychik I thought it was the Tippy Yunnan that you despised. :P And I totally got a little fuzzy aftertaste from this one this time.

boychik

Oh my bad. You are absolutely right. Not enough caffeine, should drink something ASAP.

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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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