224 Tasting Notes

99

This is the most expensive tea I’ve ever bought and came in such a tiny amount (only enough for one cup) that I’ve been reluctant to try it in the course of my normal days. Today is the day I break open this excessively expensive packet of tea and see what the fuss is about.

The dry leaves are very similar to my favorite Upton tea, Bohea Select, which is not surprising since this is Bohea Select’s bigger and more elaborately hyped sister tea. The smell is similar to keemuns I’ve tasted with that slightly book-dry, slightly caramel smell. Upton says that there is a floral note there as well and I can barely smell it. As the tea develops in the cup it takes on greater sweetness. It brews into a paler color than my Bohea, but that just may be because I normally use a lot more tea than I received in this sample.

The taste is complex with the same keemun-like book dry and caramel notes as well as as a sweetness. There is no bitterness or astringency. It is a very enjoyable tea with a great deal of complexity that would be fun to explore. But is it worth $988 a pound to me? Probably not.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Angrboda

Sounds like me and the uber-special Pu Ti Cha a while ago. I’ve still got the other half of that lying around and can’t make myself use it.

LENA

wow…that’s not a cheap one! at least it scored a 99 in your book!

Carolyn

@Angrboda think it is exactly the same situation.

@LENA Yes, because of the price it will never score a 100 sadly. But it is a very tasty and complex tea. Wouldn’t be wonderful to have all the money you needed to buy any tea you wanted over and over?

takgoti

When I win the lottery, I’ll buy you a couple of pounds.

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94
drank Hawaii-Grown Oolong by Samovar
224 tasting notes

This is such an amazing tea with a panoply of fragrances and flavors as well as a wonderful sweetness. This is the last bit of the sample takgoti sent me and I’m so grateful to have it to help me get through today. It brings joy and sweetness.

The flavor is lovely with notes of resin, mango, and flowers. I need to order this tea.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 3 min, 0 sec
takgoti

I need to get more, too [I’m down to maybe two or three cups worth?], but they’re out at the moment. I just put a huge Samovar order through, and I still didn’t get everything I wanted, so this shall wait for next time!

Cecilia Tan

Ooh neat. I will have to keep my eye out for it. I haven’t ordered from Samovar yet, but I’ve been to their tea lounge(s) in San Fran and liked them a lot.

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91
drank Golden Yunnan by Rishi Tea
224 tasting notes

The leaves are beautiful with black and gold interspersed. The tea itself is black as coffee but smells like resin and what I have come to identify as the elusive malty fragrance and something else. It tastes marvelous with notes of caramel, cocoa, malt, and sweet tea. It is what I need this morning before my run.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Andrea in New Mexico

Nice! I have a 3oz tin of this, which I love to open and stick my nose into. I’m avoiding black teas—trying to avoid black teas—while I’m pregnant, and this one will probably be the first I’ll go for after the baby comes! Happy to see such a nice review for it!

Carolyn

It is a wonderful tea and I imagine it would be good as a celebratory post birth tea. In fact, I suspect you may need the stern dose of caffeine to get through your days with a small baby.

takgoti

I just ordered some of this! Wheee!

And yay for the forthcoming baby! Congratulations! I have a friend whose husband had sushi waiting for her after the birth.

TOMMMMMM

Mine is a nice copper color… how does yours turn out black?

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83
drank Gyokura by Upton Tea Imports
224 tasting notes

I woke last night with an anxiety attack and during my nocturnal research (with heart pounding) I came across the information that gyokura has the highest quantity of theanine (a calming component of tea). First thing this morning I fixed a cup of Gyokura (and ordered more). It has a nice nutty vegetal taste and it worked. I do feel calmer. Now on to something sterner.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Cofftea

Thanks for the info!:) This is one Japanese green I haven’t tried yet but am definitely looking forward to it.

Carolyn

This was from a sample from Upton. When I ordered more this morning though, I ordered from Den’s because I’m really impressed by the quality of their Japanese green teas. I also used Den’s instructions (15 seconds at 160 degrees) instead of Upton’s.

I think you would like this and, if nothing else, it would give you the calmness to face those bad days you’ve been having. I certainly needed it this morning after yesterday and last night.

Andrea in New Mexico

(What an endorsement! This sounds like something everyone should have on hand!)

Andrea in New Mexico

Did you add anything to it?

Carolyn

No, I didn’t add anything to it. It really doesn’t call for anything. The taste is vegetal and wouldn’t match either honey or milk and it’s a fairly mild tea.

I agree, it is something good to have on hand, especially if one is prone to stress or anxiety. (Which I unfortunately am. I should probably meditate more.)

takgoti

Wow. I’m going to have to keep this in mind. You are just a fountain of information. I mean, seriously.

Carolyn

During a panic attack it’s pretty much a choice of run to the hospital, leave state, or frantically do research on the Internet. I’ve found that running in a panic to the hospital is expensive. My beloved is not amused to be called in the morning from two states away with my explanation that it just seemed like a good idea to drive to Florida at 2 in the morning. So I do the frantic research. Maybe next time I’ll go downstairs and make the gyokura during the panic attack. (Though it may prove to be a bad idea to be that close to the car keys.)

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76
drank Chloe by The Simple Leaf
224 tasting notes

The tea has a lovely apricot and nutty fragrance. The tea itself has a sharp taste that means that I oversteeped it I suspect. It’s been a crazy, unpleasant morning and my tea-brewing skills have clearly suffered. I will probably have to rebrew it and revisit. So I’ll wait to rate it until I do so.

Update: I rebrewed it with fresh leaves. It is no longer sharp. It has a taste I associate with Darjeeling, which is not a surprise since it comes from Darjeeling. I am beginning to realize that I don’t care for Darjeeling teas. This is quite sad since they are so well-regarded it makes me feel like some boorish lumpenproletariat destined to dislike this “champagne of teas”. Well, I’m sure I’ll get over it.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec
takgoti

Boo for unpleasant mornings. I hope your day improves.

Peggie Bennett

Not every taste is for everyone. I can’t stand lobster. :-)

Carolyn

@takgoti Thanks for your good wishes. You know what they say, “Tomorrow is another day” and tomorrow starts with a run instead of a run of bad luck and clumsiness so it has to be better.

@Peggie Bennett So we can be unfashionable together. ;)

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100
drank Dawn by The Simple Leaf
224 tasting notes

I am wondering how I could possibly be good enough to deserve this tea and my mind is humming over trying to give examples (I cleaned out all the kitchen cupboards yesterday, I finished a significant task at work last week, etc.). But the truth is that no one is good enough to deserve this tea. It is a work of grace that this tea exists and we mortals can enjoy its warm cocoa taste with complex notes of tea and caramel. So now I’m blissing out on grace.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec
takgoti

O rly? Damn it. Now I’m going to have to get it, Carolyn.

Carolyn

Hold tight and I’ll send you a sample. (I do have a pound of this tea now.)

takgoti

I heart you. Give me a few weeks to order some stuff and then I’ll ask you if you want anything from me.

Carolyn

I really don’t need anything right now. My teas have been exiled to the dining room table awaiting reorganization before I can put them back in the kitchen. My beloved says he is tired of my teas taking over the kitchen and preventing him from preparing what he likes. So what I really need right now is less tea or a bigger cabinet or some sort of mind-bending technology to use on my beloved to convince him that he loves being attacked by tea.

Micah

This looks pretty amazing I must say. Those leaves are so beautiful. Into the shopping cart it goes. I’m becoming more and more intrigued by the teas on The Simple Leaf website. They look really nice!

chana

Oh, this sounds so nice! Too bad the company only ships to the US, Canada and the UK. I do plan to write to them to ask about adding another country to the list ~_^…

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79
drank Canadian Berries by TeaFrog
224 tasting notes

It’s an interesting chunky blend of fruit that looks like something I might put on meusli or oatmeal. It brews up into a fruit punch colored liquid that smells like fruit juice and honey. The taste is like tart fruit punch. This is one tea I’m tempted to sweeten with a drop of honey. I can see that this would be excellent iced with orange slices floating within it.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
takgoti

Ooooh, now I want fruit punch. Blerg!

Angrboda

Oh yum, that sounds lovely. Reminds me that I’ve got a small bag of something or other just labeled ‘wild fruits’ in my ancient-and-forgotten-stuff tin. I’ve never got around to trying it, but maybe I should give it a go.

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67

OK purists, shutter your eyes now. This is not real tea. This is a melange of roasted chicory, chocolate, pepper, and ginger. It brews up black like coffee with a strong ginger smell. In my teens I was quite taken with herbal experimentation and this smells like one of my experiments. It brings me back to my mispent youth. It tastes fairly close to coffee with a ginger chaser. It’s not terrible and I can see it as an option for evenings when I want something dark without the caffeine.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 15 sec
Angrboda

Chicory, isn’t that that stuff they used during the war to make replacement coffee? I’ve never had that, I’m imagining something kind of earthy and woodsy.

Carolyn

If you are talking about Europe in WWI and WWII, then yes, roasted chicory was used as a coffee substitute. It basically tastes like a milder form of coffee, not woodsy or earthy at all. In New Orleans they have a chicory-coffee combination that they serve that is very good.

Angrboda

Yes, that’s what I meant. I forgot coffee wasn’t difficult to get everywhere. :) I’ve never had it myself, but I know of at least one place in the city where I work where you could get Richs Replacement Coffee until recently. It was the most common brand in Denmark during the occupation and it was even sold in the same package design as in the forties. But they’ve stopped making it now, I think. People would mix it with real coffee and stretch the beans that way. I think I’ll try and keep my eye out to see if I can get a sample of it and see what it’s like.

Carolyn

@Angrboda I had to ask my beloved (who is a military historian), “Suppose you were Danish and were talking about using chicory as a coffee substitute in ‘the war’. Which war are you talking about?” He immediately said, “World War II” and then corrected himself, ’Well, World War I also. She could be talking about either one. Hmmm. Denmark, huh? Probably World War II. The real question is how she feels about Brussel sprouts. That would tell us which war."

He’s very handy to have around.

There are three kinds of coffee substitutes: those made from roasted grains (typically barley), those made from roasted roots (like chicory); and those made from roasted fruit (figs are popular). When you pick up Rich’s, check to see what they’re using.

Angrboda

I did mean WWII, yes. Since we were occupied by the germans, that’s the big one for us. Interestingly, during that whole climate todo in Copenhagen, the police had to borrow police cars from Sweden and Germany to cover everything, and while the swedish police cars still said ‘Polis’ on them, the ‘Polizei’ on the german cars had been covered with the danish ‘Politi’. Even now over 60 years after the end of occupation, they couldn’t have cars with ‘Polizei’ on them driving around in Copenhagen. Too sensitive when there are still people alive who remember the occupation. And as for Brussel sprouts, I don’t much like them. I think they’re too bitter. But then I’m not one for most sorts of cabbage anyway.

I passed the shop today where they had it, but I forgot to stop in and check the package. I think it’s a 250g package or something like that. Bit too large to buy in case I don’t like it. :)

Anyway, I think it must have been either of the first two, or possibly a combination. I think the fruit variety would have been even harder to come by.

Carolyn

@Angrboda That’s a fascinating story about the German police cars at the conference in Copenhagen. I’ll have to tell my beloved. He will be interested to hear it.

As to the Brussels sprouts, he maintains that anyone who lived through WWII in Germany and the areas occupied by Germany hates Brussels sprouts because they were amongst the few foods that were available to the populace in the late war. I personally think that this is just his gambit to avoid eating Brussels sprouts, which he hates and I love. But since he is the historian, I can’t say much.

Angrboda

He might be on to something, actually. My dad likes it and I don’t know about my mum. It’s not something that was ever served in my family. I’ve never seen my grandparents serve it either as far as I remember. On my mum’s side, my grandparents were only children at the time, but on my dad’s side my grandparents are some ten-twenty years older, so I could imagine that they at least had eaten enough brussel sprouts to last them a life time.
With the exception of my dad’s mother, all my grandparents are out of farmer families, though, so they’ve likely had a bit of an advantage there since they could grow the vegetables they needed themselves and they had cows too so they probably almost always had butter too. A while ago we came to talk about it somehow and my grandmother told of how the german soldiers would come up to their house to buy eggs and milk and such, and how in hindsight it had probably been pretty problematic to trade with them. What if the resistance movements discovered it, would they consider it some form of collaboration? Or, on the other hand, did they dare say no to the occupational force? She said they never had any trouble though. She must have been barely ten or so at the time, and if she was alone in the house she would hide when they came and pretend no one was home because she didn’t dare talk to the soldiers.

It’s difficult for me to imagine the occupation and what it meant to the daily lives of people then, in spite of having learned about in great detail in school and a number of films and tv-series and what not having been made about it. It seems like it’s so long ago, but it’s still less than a lifetime for some people.

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83
drank Tankha by The Simple Leaf
224 tasting notes

This tea has large, beautiful, multi-colored leaves that brew into a golden liquor with a sweet fragrance with hints of incense. The tea is from Darjeeling and I detect in it that same Darjeeling floral fragrance. The taste encourages a kind a lazy sensuality as it spreads its floral complexities across my taste buds. It is surprisingly light in taste for an oolong. As it cools a bit, the incense begins to come out in the taste as well as the aroma.

Preparation
155 °F / 68 °C 3 min, 0 sec
teaplz

You’re making The Simple Leaf sound so delicious, Carolyn! Always a pleasure to read these reviews.

Carolyn

I cannot believe how much I love The Simple Leaf’s teas (especially Dawn). They are a fantastic company: a true gem.

takgoti

No. No more new tea companies I want to buy from.

Buzzer Sound

I’m sorry, but your application for purchase has been denied. New applications are being accepted during February of 2010. Please hold all suggestions and posts until otherwise notified. Further details will be announced as they are determined.

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99

Welcome back to my cup, sweet Bohea. We’ve been too long apart. I’d forgotten your raisin sweetness, your handsome golden tipped leaves and your pretty copper liquor. Let’s just sit here for a while and get re-acquainted.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec

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Bio

I’m a suddenly enthusiastic tea aficionado. I had no idea how varied and delicious teas could be. Also I’m a dairy-free vegetarian, so if you see me say “cream” or “milk” it means soy milk or soy cream.

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