509 Tasting Notes

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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95

(SAD) SIPDOWN! (104)

Aw, my very last cup of this tasty tea (for now). Gotta love the light and delicious pastry notes, the honey, the mild fruitiness. Sigh… Soon it will return to me! I want to try gong fu brewing with this one, since the name pretty much demands it.

I also found out today that Tan Yang Gong Fu (also called Panyang Congou apparently) comes from the same varietal as Golden Monkey! They’re also processed in the same way, apparently Tan Yang is slightly higher grade though. Interesting! They were listed as the same tea in The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook, so I looked it up and found more information here:

http://www.cantonteaco.com/blog/2013/07/a-trip-to-fuan-and-golden-monkey-tea/

Gotta love learning! I will definitely be repurchasing this tea when TeaVivre’s black and oolong sale starts! SOON.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Sarsonator

I want pastry notes. I hear people talk about them, but I don’t often find them myself. :)

Cameron B.

I’ve found them in this tea and the very tippy Yunnans so far, especially with shorter steeps. I also got pastry when I did that Eastern Beauty gong fu style! Yum yum yum!

whatshesaid

Thanks for the learnin’!

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88

Sipdown! (105)

Another lovely fuzzy tea from Nicole. I did the 1/2/4m method tonight, and all three steeps basically tasted the same to me, which is interesting. They all had that nice cucumber/honeydew in the beginning of every sip, and then turned into lovely light bread and pastry notes. There’s definitely a very light floral at the end somewhere, maybe a mild lilac? Overall, this is definitely a unique tea. I would absolutely consider stocking this just because it’s nice and light and refreshing. Lovely for afternoon or early evening. Thanks Nicole! :P

Flavors: Pastries

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
MzPriss

I love the fuzzy gold teas!

Cameron B.

Me too! At least I’ve loved them all so far. I still need to try your Golden Fleece, sorry! :P

Cameron B.

By the way, do you have a recommendation for gong fu parameters for that?

Sarsonator

Lilac! Wow!!!!

Cameron B.

Sarsonator this one is very interesting. I’ll be sure to send you some if/when I order from Yunnan Sourcing.

Sarsonator

Super, Cam! Update for ya: Lady Gaga should be here Saturday, according to the USPS site. The tracking info finally showed up!

Dexter

Did I order this one? (Massive YS black tea incoming – pretty sad when you don’t even know what’s included) Probably, I too LOVE Gold Yunnan teas…

Sarsonator

Uh oh… Someone needs a tea time out. :p

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93

Sipdown! (106)

This tea is so delicous. :3 I used water within the recommended range this time around. I’m definitely getting a fruity note that I don’t remember from before, it’s kind of like a golden raisin (sweet and syrupy, but not as intense as a regular raisin). Very lovely. I will definitely be adding this to my list of teas I must repurchase! And I would like to try this with the 1/2/4 method or as a gong fu session. Thanks so much to Nicole for introducing me to this tea and to Yunnan Sourcing in general! :D

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

I’m so glad you are finding teas you like from the Yunnanapalooza box! I blame/thank boychik for Yunnan Sourcing. :)

Cameron B.

I’ve definitely loved all of the big fuzzy golden ones. I am seeing a pattern. :P

boychik

Don’t mention it;)

Terri HarpLady

Yeah, this tea is wonderful!

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85

Sipdown! (107)

Used the yyz method (1m/2m/4m) although I didn’t actually do the third steep this time around. This tea is still very unique, it has that fennel seed herbaceous flavor that I’ve found in a couple others. But I feel like this one is more savory. It’s very dark rye or pumpernickel bread with the seeds over the top. Butter, maybe, but not honey.

Delicious, but not something I absolutely need. :P Thanks to TeaTiff for the sample..

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

Sipdown!

I finished this one off this morning using the new method that I got from yyz! It’s a 1 minute steep, then a 2 minute steep, followed by a 4 minute steep. I am really liking this method. I guess it’s somewhere between gong fu and western-style? I tend to love the lighter/more golden Yunnan teas and this kind of emulates that flavor even with a darker Yunnan. I will definitely be trying this with a lot of my other black teas. Thanks so much, yyz!

As for this tea, it’s a good one. But there are other Yunnan teas that I like as much or more that are cheaper (and more accessible, there is only one tin of this left and then it’s gone forever). Thanks again Nicole for letting me try this one! :)

My stomach is sloshing from all this tea!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
yyz

Your welcome!

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78

Sipdown!

This is definitely my favorite of the Della Terra teas I ordered a few weeks ago. A few of the others had really artificial flavors, which were okay for the first try, but after that I found they made me a bit nauseous. This one does have flavoring, but I actually enjoy it. The blueberry is more of a blueberry jam flavor than fresh. The cream is kind of vanilla-ish and it’s definitely stronger than the blueberry, which is okay, but I would prefer if the blueberry were stronger. It’s not overly rooibosy, and I don’t taste the black tea at all.

Overall, a relatively good dessert tea but not a very good blueberry tea, which is what I’m looking for.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Sarsonator

The hunt continues…

Dexter

http://www.teavivre.com/blueberry/
(If you have some of this in the house, you can add a little to save disappointing teas like the one mentioned – or you can just add it to your favorite base and make your own blueberry teas…)

Cameron B.

Ehhhh I see hibiscus… :(

TheTeaFairy

(You can trust Dexter, she’s her own little tea-mixologist in her spare time :-))

Dexter

Shrug – the hunt continues…. :(

Cameron B.

Do you like hibiscus? Or can you just not taste it much in that blend?

Dexter

I like hibiscus – so it’s hard for me to say. I don’t think this is overly tart, but I’m not really sensitive to it. IMHO – if blueberry teas don’t have a little hibiscus they end up being too sweet and “jammy” like you mentioned – if you want the “fresh” blueberry taste you need a little tart to balance the sweet.
If you don’t like hibby – then that blend is probably not for you…

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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 Black
Yunnan (esp. Pure Bud varieties)
Mild Sencha/Kabusecha
Genmaicha (traditional or otherwise)
Blueberry
Vanilla
Fig
Almond/Marzipan
Most “Dessert” Flavors (caramel, toffee, butterscotch, cake, cookie, etc.)

Currently Exploring:
Chinese Black
Oxidized/Roasted Oolong

Not A Fan
Green Oolong
Overly Floral (esp. Rose)
Licorice Root
Hibiscus
Rose Hips
Strong Bergamot

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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