468 Tasting Notes

85

Morning everyone! I’m trying this same tea again today because I felt like I didn’t really get all it had to offer when I tried it before. scribbles gave me some steeping parameters to try (thanks!) so today I’m trying a 4 minute steep using 4 pearls.

I really love the smell of this tea! It’s very honeyed and has a nice raisin or fig note. I would be in heaven if it tasted exactly like the smell! Sadly, that is almost never the case with tea. :P

Today it tastes quite malty with maybe a touch of honey in there. I maybe get a little bit of cocoa? But it’s definitely bitter cocoa with no sweetness. In fact, I’m getting a little bitterness out of this tea today… That honeyed dark dried fruit that was in the aroma is also there in the aftertaste, yum.

In other news, my boyfriend and I are going to have a new roommate soon. His good friend from California recently graduated from college and my boyfriend managed to get him a job at his workplace. So he’s going to be living with us for a bit at least, which I don’t mind. However, our spare bedroom is full of boxes of shit, basically. So my boyfriend has to go through that and sort out what needs to be tossed, etc. Which means now there’s a humongous pile of empty boxes near the front door, which I will have the pleasure of breaking down and taking to the recycling room today… Hooray? :P

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML
Cameron B.

I really hate it when I underestimate the amount of tea left in the cup and dump it all over myself when I go to down it… Just saying. :P

TheKesser

My husband and I had a friend live with us too last year. I really hope it works out for you. My only advice, set a deadline of when they need to move out. That’s something my husband I didn’t do, and unfortunately we basically had to tell him to leave at a certain point…

Cheri

I agree with TheKesser. Set a deadline or you will have a roommate for forever.

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88

I got a sample of this from Nicole (I also have a sample from Whispering Pines and I have another ounce coming on Wednesday). I’m kind of anxious to try it since it seems to have quite a following around here. The leaves are very dark and spindly – like a miniature version of Taiwanese black leaves. They smell of raisins and cocoa, with some malt, tobacco, and honey notes. Brewed according to the package directions.

The brewed tea smells strongly of sweet potatoes, with a malty edge. There’s a deep molasses scent, and a lighter raisin note that makes me think of golden raisins. The taste is pretty similar to the aroma. Lots of sweet potato with strong malt taste. There’s a fruitiness that reminds me of plums and raisins. I don’t get any chocolate from this at all. And there’s a floral aftertaste that kind of seems soapy to me? The body is lighter than a lot of other Chinese blacks I’ve tried, maybe a little bit thin.

Now I know that this will probably get me pelted with rotten vegetables, but I don’t love this tea. And I’m unhappy because I feel like I didn’t get the flavors that a lot of other people mentioned, like chocolate and caramel, and it makes me feel like I’m at fault somehow in my tasting of this. Frustrating…

Holding off on the rating until I give it a couple more tries.

Flavors: Floral, Malt, Plums, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
whatshesaid

I didn’t go mad over it either, though I did enjoy it! ’Twas no Golden Orchid though. Nor north winds.

Cameron B.

It just makes me sad when I feel like I’m somehow not getting the full potential. Maybe my concept of chocolate is just too ingrained in sweetness, I don’t know. :/

Whispering Pines Tea Company

I’ve noticed that the flavor of this tea changes DRAMATICALLY based on the quality of water you’re using. What kind of water are you using?

Cameron B.

Brenden, that’s a good idea. I generally just use tap water, but I’ve never had issues before. I can definitely try this one again tomorrow using bottled water and see if that makes the difference. I really want to love it! :(

Whispering Pines Tea Company

I know how that goes. I feel the same with about Laoshan Black. haha.

I have also noticed that sometimes when I have this tea, I don’t get any of the notes either. To me, it seems that this tea needs everything to be just right (mood, water, etc) for the best taste. I’d also recommend drinking this outdoors. :)

Dexter

(Cameron – I’m probably going to get pelted too, but sometimes I find that a lower steep temp and long steep time will bring out the chocolate notes in back tea – I haven’t actually tried THIS ONE – but when I’m having problems “finding” the chocolate, I try about 85-90 for 5-6 minutes. If the bottled water doesn’t help, that would be my suggestion – or at least that’s what I would do….) Good Luck – hope you find steeping parameters that work for you….

Cameron B.

Thanks for the helpful advice, everyone! I’ll be sure to try this one again in the morning and see if I can’t get it to taste like chocolate somehow. You’ve definitely cheered me up at least. :)

Whispering Pines Tea Company

:) You might also have luck trying to find the salted caramel and going from there. Search for the salt and then for the cocoa :P

TheTeaFairy

Cameron, nothing to feel bad about. You just need to find your sweet spot, like everybody said, try different ways. And maybe it just won’t work for you, it happens.

For me personally, the water makes a huge difference, I never use tap. I agree with Dexter about the lower temp. I’ve had it almost every morning for the last couple of weeks and my favourite way to brew is 5 min at 190F. The first thing I smell and taste is salted caramel, and it’s very sweet. The cocoa notes are there but not as dominant, at least not to me. I think everyone gave good advices, good luck on your next attempt :-)

boychik

Cameron, if it makes you feel better no chocolate for me either. It’s more fruity to me, even grapes or longan,plums. Let’s blame it on NY tap water which is very good by all reports. We have perfect alkali

Terri HarpLady

I’m gonna chime in on water. Next week I’ll be going to visit my folks in FL, & although I usually avoid bottled water, I’ll go through a case or 2 while I’m there, because the tap water is so disgusting to taste & smell, plus it makes me swell up. I’m sorry to say this, but most bottled waters also suck, I never feel hydrated by it, & it tends to make tea taste flat, but better than having them taste like sulphur.

Mandy

Terri you know FL water is bad when you go on a cruise and the water on the ship does wonders for your poor torchered hair. The first night I didn’t understand why my hair suddenly felt so much softer. I’ve also had family from New York complain about the water in Florida ruining their hair. As far as bottled water, I so agree. I can’t stand Dasani, especially. Zephyrhills is pretty decent though.

CameronB I found that with some teas with cocoa notes, loudly slurping a sip almost like your gargling it helps to draw out the cocoa note. This sort of aerates the tea and something about causing molecules going up the back of the nasal canal and improving the aroma and flavor or something. I don’t know I read something about it once a while back and it seems to help me.

MzPriss

I don’t think you’ll get pelted with anything. You like what you like and nothing tastes the same to anyone as it does to anyone else. Play around with it and see, but if you don’t love it in the end, you just don’t love it – not a thing in the world wrong with that. I feel the same way about several teas that get lots of rave reviews. There’s lots of tea out there to love :)

TeaTiff

I completely agree with MzPriss. I have my favorites and they seem to be hit or miss with Steepster favorites. No pelting with tomatoes ever on here. For instance LB and Golden Fleece… I can’t rave over these like others can, but my favorites seem to be hit or miss with others. I really like this tea but I didn’t get chocolate out of it at all, it was more of a creamy malty taste for me and it seemed to be a mood tea for me. The first time I had it, it was eh, the second time it was really good. We will see what the third time brings.

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83

I needed a little break after drinking new black teas all day! This sample is from KiwiDelight. I checked the Den’s website to see what exactly fukamushi sencha is. Turns out it just means that this is a deeply steamed sencha!

The aroma is very mild and sweetly vegetal with a little bit of wet grass. This is definitely the most seaweedy tasting tea I’ve had yet. And I don’t necessarily mean that as a bad thing! The primary taste is definitely seaweed, but there are also spinach and grass notes common among most senchas I’ve had. The flavor is quite mild, which I wouldn’t expect from something “deeply” steamed. I guess it has the opposite effect of what I would assume! Not to be confused with shaded sencha! :) Tasty, but not my favorite sencha ever.

Flavors: Grass, Seaweed, Smooth, Spinach

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

Sounds yummy!

Cameron B.

It was definitely exactly what I needed after all that tasting and thinking earlier! :) Sencha is such a nice refresher, I definitely need to find my favorite and keep it in stock.

Cheri

Exactly! It’s nice, easy to drink, flavorful but not overwhelming. I need to do the same.

Mandy

Ooh, I just got a sample of this today, I need to try it. I don’t know if I’ve actually tasted seaweed in a tea before, but it sounds like a note I would enjoy.

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80

Yay, the last of my provided TeaVivre samples! And I only have one Green Terrace sample left, but it’s slated for gong fu style since it’s a milk oolong. And then that’ll be it for review-required samples for me until I get the ones from Good Life Tea! So, this one. The leaves are dark and slightly twisty, and there are a (very) few golden tips. Mm I love the smell! Very malty with sweet honey and a lovely tart stonefruit aroma. I did a 3 minute steep here.

Brewed aroma is… alarming. Lol. Completely different from the dry version! I immediately detect smoke and earthiness with the ubiquitous malt. Maybe a tiny hint of those stonefruits? Woah, this is quite smoky! There’s also earthiness and the taste of wood. A tiny bit of bitterness that goes well with these flavors. Not as malty as I would expect from this type of tea. There’s a little bit of a deep rich flavor that I would associate with molasses. And when I least expect it, there’s a lovely stonefruit aftertaste! Similar to plums and apricots mixed together.

I can see definite parallels between this tea and the Harney & Sons Tippy Yunnan, which is a good sign because they are both lower-grade. So maybe my taste buds are halfway decent! Lol. I definitely added sugar to this, it’s too powerful for me without it. And it would definitely take milk well if you chose to add some. A definite kick-in-the-pants morning tea! :)

Flavors: Earth, Malt, Molasses, Smoke, Stonefruits, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
boychik

I disagree, Tippy Yunnan I just couldn’t stand while this one is decent no frills everyday affordable tea

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88

Hooray for TeaVivre and their lovely free samples! I’m telling myself that I need to try all five of my samples before I start drinking all of the swap tea I’ve gotten lately. Seriously, it’s taking over the kitchen! Since I promised reviews for these samples I feel like I’m making someone wait if I take too long… Which is a weird thing to think. :P

This looks similar to the other golden monkey tea I’ve had (Harney & Sons). The leaves a thin and slightly curly, mostly dark with some golden tips. It smells extremely malty, which is not a bad thing! There’s also some honey and tart stonefruit in there. I walked on the wild side and brewed it for 3 minutes.

Wow, the brewed aroma is even more malty than before, which I didn’t think possible! There’s also a smoky tobacco note along with honey and sweet potato. Oh my… If I had to choose one word for this tea, it would be “masculine”. This is manly stuff! All this maltiness and then that smoky tobacco taste as well. Plus I can taste leather and a dark richness that reminds me of molasses without the sweetness. Sweet potato adds a little cream and butter that helps smooth it out. It’s not super strong but the flavors are bold and really catch your attention! MAN TEA! But women enjoy it too. ;)

Flavors: Leather, Malt, Molasses, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Cameron B.

I seem to have had a different experience with this one than other people… :P Most of the other notes described a lighter tea with a lot of sweet potato. Hmm! I enjoyed it though.

Nicole

I really do like this Golden Monkey. It is definitely on my list for my next Teavivre order.

MzPriss

I like this one too

whatshesaid

Which of the two golden monkeys did you like best?

Cameron B.

whatshesaid, they tasted completely different to me so it’s hard to compare… I need to taste the Harney & Sons version again first. :P

whatshesaid

Just curious because I loved them both but never did a side by side either!!

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88

I have so much tea to try right now, but I figured I should probably get through the teas I have that were provided in exchange for reviews. Don’t want to make anyone wait! Confession: I have never had an oxidized oolong before. However, I have great faith that I will enjoy this category of teas since they seem similar to some black teas. The dry leaf for this one is very beautiful. The leaves are large and dark, and they’re slightly twisted. They seem so light and fragile in comparison to black tea leaves. The scent is quite mild but sweet, with fruit and honey notes. I checked Green Terrace’s website for parameters, and I used the middle of both temperature and time.

The aroma reminds me of raisins, sweet but with deep and dark flavor. Maybe a bit of dried cherry too, along with some honey. This tea just says “autumn” to me. There’s something about the taste that reminds me of the autumn leaves, kind of woodsy but in a mild and slightly toasty way. It seems so full of dark dried fruits – raisins, cherries, dates, figs… Yum! And there’s a lovely burnt sugar note somewhere in there too.

Such a great experience for my first dark oolong! I have enough left to do some gong fu, so I’ll add this one to that list… Before boychik yells at me! ;)

Thanks again to Green Terrace Teas for providing this sample for review.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Burnt Sugar, Dried Fruit, Raisins

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Marzipan

I got so tea drunk on this yesterday. It was an amazing feeling.

Cameron B.

Hah, we’ll see if it makes me feel that way too. What were your steeping parameters for your gong fu session?

Marzipan

I did it at 195, steeps from 45 seconds and up. I sort of went by their website.

Cameron B.

Okay, thanks! I’ll be sure to look there. :)

Marzipan

It’s a little confusing because they have one page with all of their brewing instructions, instead of them being with each tea.

boychik

I hear ya;-)

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93

Another of my samples from TeaTiff. I wasn’t really sure what region this tea was from, so I looked it up on their website. Turns out it’s actually fermented from white tea buds which seems unusual. And it’s from the Fujian province. The leaves are quite small and thin, and very dark with a few golden spots. I can’t really tell you much about the smell because everything from this package smells like milk oolong! Heh. I brewed mine for 2 minutes.

The aroma reminds me of a Yunnan tea. There’s a definite bread scent with honey and malt, and something else… Maybe a touch of creaminess? But wow, this doesn’t taste like any other black tea I’ve tried. I can definitely tell that it’s made from white tea. It has that lovely smooth hay flavor, but mixed with some malt and a little bit of a bread. There’s a deep flavor in the background that reminds me of molasses, but without being sweet.

While I did enjoy it, I found the flavor a bit light. I have enough for one more cup, so I think I’ll hold off on a rating until I try this at a 3 minute steep! :)

Flavors: Baked Bread, Hay, Malt, Molasses

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
boychik

This tea is gorgeous

TeaTiff

Oh man, note to self, wrap milk oolong in tin foil when I send it next time. Sorry to have smell contaminated everything. I hope it isn’t affecting the taste.

Cameron B.

TeaTiff, I haven’t had any problems with the taste, and I happen to like the smell of milk oolong. :P So not really a big issue!

Nicole

I will admit I am a total Shang fan-girl. This is so amazingly smooth it blows my mind.

Cameron B.

Nicole, it’s definitely a hybrid of white and black teas for me. And I did really enjoy it! Will try the 3 minute steep soon.

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90

I’m jumping on the MzPriss and TheTeaFairy bandwagon this morning with this tea. This is one of my free samples from TeaVivre that I hadn’t tried yet and I figured now’s as good a time as any! This is my first time trying a Fujian black tea. The leaves look very different than the other blacks I’ve been having lately – they’re very thin and extremely dark with a few scattered golden tips. The smell is quite unusual, it’s quite musty and earthy with dark bread and malt notes. I decided to be brave and steep it for 3 minutes! :P

Wow, the brewed aroma is very different from the dry! It smells like a completely different tea. Very sweet honey or caramel over baked bread with raisins, mmm… This would definitely be a breakfast tea for me, as the overall taste is quite bold and strong. It has a grain-like malty quality about it without quite tasting like bread. I seem to get a little tiny bit of smokey savoriness at the beginning of the sip. I was surprised to not taste the caramel or honey sweetness that a lot of others mentioned… Then I added a touch of sugar to the second half of my cup and a lovely dark honey or molasses flavor came out. I wouldn’t necessarily call it caramel because I don’t get any butter. This tea leaves an aftertaste on my tongue that reminds me of strong coffee!

Overall, quite good and a nice bold tea to take for breakfast. Would definitely stand up to some milk, although that’s not something I generally add to tea. Thanks again to Angel at TeaVivre!

Flavors: Coffee, Grain, Honey, Malt, Molasses

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
MzPriss

Cameron – you will fall in love with Fujians

Cameron B.

I included the Fujian Black Tea in my Whispering Pines order, so I’m excited to try that one, too. :)

MzPriss

That is a good one :)

Cameron B.

Oh please, everything from Whispering Pines is a good one! :P

But yes, I am very impatient to get that order… I chose several straight blacks than I’m anxious to try!

boychik

Gongfu !

Nicole

Has anyone sent you any Bai Lin Kung Fu from Shang? Like all their teas, it’s made from fermented white. I really like Teavivre’s but I may prefer Shang, I can’t decide.

Cameron B.

Nicole, I think the only Shang tea I’ve tried is the Golden Needle King, and I just tried it today. :P But I really don’t need any more samples right now! I blame you! Lol.

Nicole

LOL… I’d highly recommend getting Shang’s sampler when you decide you need some more to try. :)

MzPriss

@Nicole teaTiff sent me some Shangs and I’ve loved what I’ve tried. There is a Shang order in my future

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50

I’ve had this for a while now and haven’t written a note on it yet. I’ve actually made it twice before, but both times I came out weirdly bitter so I figured I’d give it a couple more tries before rating it. It’s a mixture of chamomile flowers, cinnamon bark, and pieces of dried apple with peel. It smells very strongly of apple and only lightly of spice. I steeped it for 5 minutes.

The aroma is nice. I get a lot more cinnamon than in the dry leaf, then chamomile and the sweetness from the apple. Unfortunately, I got the same odd bitterness this time as I have before. I can only assume it’s from leaving the peel on the apple pieces, although no one else has mentioned this in their notes so… I’m not sure what’s going on there. It makes it hard to drink, even with sugar added. So disappointed… :(

Flavors: Apple, Bitter, Cinnamon

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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65

I got this sample for free with my Adagio order. All I had to do was share on Facebook, and since I changed the setting the “private”, no one even had to see it. Win/win! Dry tea looks like honeybush with yellow flower petals and a few dried fruit pieces. It smells very artificial – like apricot candy. Steeped 5 minutes.

The aroma is fairly ho-hum… Just honeybush and apricot candy. The taste is even more so. There’s not enough apricot flavor, even with added sugar. So it mostly tastes like peppery honeybush and a little fake apricot. No thanks. :P

Flavors: Apricot, Candy, Pepper, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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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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