61 Tasting Notes

50

I tried this tea again when I was in Chicago, and it tasted a lot better than the other times I had it, so I’m bumping up the rating. Not sure what made the difference, the fact that I was using unfiltered Chicago city water, or that I used a little more leaf. Anyway, it was more robust and had a deep, distinct, earthy flavor.

It still isn’t my favorite black tea, but at least it had a richer flavor this time, and was good enough that I could finish drinking it, and even enjoy it to a point!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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82
drank Kilimanjaro by Gong Fu Tea Shop
61 tasting notes

Mmmm, a bold black tea perfect for busy days! It’s not incredibly complex with lots of different flavors, but it’s a nice solid tea when all you want is a no-nonsense dose of energy. I prefer Gong Fu’s Kenyan Safari a bit more, as it’s more silky-smooth and super rich, but this is definitely robust and good-tasting as well.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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82
drank Kilimanjaro by Gong Fu Tea Shop
61 tasting notes

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89

This is one of my summer favorites! I’m really enjoying floral & fruity black teas lately, and although this one does not contain any actual fruit, it still has a very nice light berry aroma and flavor—just a hint that goes right along with the light floral aspects of this tea. The black tea base is great too—not too strong, not too weak, but just right. A great way to wake up on these sunny summer mornings!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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95

After reading TeaTiff’s review of this one not too long ago, I thought “hmm that sounds good!” and added that at the last-minute to my summer tea order at Gong Fu. What a great unexpected addition it turned out to be! It totally hit the spot! Full-bodied, fruity, vanilla: NAILED IT! This tea is just so satisfactory. It’s elegant, lovely, quite dashing with that nice fruity current taste (and smell! Oh the scent that this tea exudes! I seriously spent pretty much the whole five-minutes while it steeped with my nose practically plastered to the bag, inhaling the delicious aroma).

If this tea were a person, it would be that “tall, dark, and handsome”, smooth, clean-cut dashing gentleman in a spiffy black suit at a party . He’d be French, of course. And if you stand close to him under a starry sky in Paris, you are totally drawn in by the fantastic fragrance of his cologne. Ah, Paris. Ah, strong sweet fruity black tea. I am in love. (If I knew French, this is where I would insert the perfect French phrase). Okay, I know, this all is sounding pretty cliche, but this tea is not cliche. It’s just….wonderful.

The only thing wrong about it is it’s name, in my opinion. I would definitely pick something more romantic than Le Tour de France. Not that Tour de France is not a good association—it’s just that it doesn’t represent the elegance and smoothness and finery that is this tea. I would call it something along the lines of “Moonlight in Paris.” Ooh la la!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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50

Hmm I didn’t care for this tea. It just tasted really bland to me, lacking the complexity and depth of flavor I like—and come to expect—in really good black teas. There is just not much to say about it. I even tried steeping it for a shorter period of time (3 minutes instead of the typical 5) because the description said it was good for gong fu style drinking, but that didn’t change anything taste-wise. As a last resort, I finally tried cold-steeping it, and that also did not bring out anything new in terms of flavor. Oh well, I’m glad I gave it a try, though.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
TeaTiff

Oh man. By the name I thought this one would be tasty.

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81
drank Mao Feng by Gong Fu Tea Shop
61 tasting notes

This is a nice green. It is lightly warm and vegetal, with a teensy bit of asparagus and possibly nut, and a faint smoky taste reminiscent of gunpowder green tea, and with a slight smoky sweetness on the finish. The first thing I noticed, though, was the gunpowder taste—nothing strong or bold, but just enough of a presence to bring to mind my old habit of drinking 4 cups of gunpowder green tea before my morning run during marathon training. That sure did get me going!

Anyway, this is a perfect tea to keep me going these days, when I require a different sort of energy…not a bold burst like a cannon, which the gunpowder used to supply, but a more low-key, substantial, and sustainable energy to keep up with my toddler all day! And yet the tea needs to be mellow enough to keep me calm and patient. This fits the bill most afternoons. It’s an enjoyable yet practical green, nothing too fancy or lofty for everyday, yet not hum-drum or boring. It has enough complexity to keep me interested, but nothing I would feel obligated to forgo on the basis of “not having enough time” to appreciate it.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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82

This is another great spring green tea! Deliciously sweet and juicy cherry and sencha combine in an exquisite and vibrant duo. The scent of the dry leaf is incredible: it will make your mouth water the minute you stick your nose in it, and brings to mind super juicy cherry candy like a Starburst or Jolly Rancher. The liquor itself, though, has a more natural cherry flavor which is nicely balanced and doesn’t taste medicinal (I was a little apprehensive it would taste too much like cough syrup). Additionally, this tea has a light, almost faint vanilla wafting in the background. All in all, it’s fresh, fruity, and faintly floral—as if you were sitting among cherry trees in full bloom. Very tasty!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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100
drank Earl Grey Cream by Zen Tea
61 tasting notes

I received this pleasant surprise in the mail yesterday from TeaTiff, who is providing me with a welcome distraction from all my green-tea tastings lately! (Gotta throw in some black teas here and there, because, let’s face it, there’s nothing quite as good as a deep, dark, rich cup of black tea to help one wake up and power through the day!)

I decided I couldn’t resist trying this sample first, because for some reason without intending to I have ended up being sort of on a little Earl Grey kick…I first tried that green EG, then the one by Williamson, and now, this fabulous cup of perfection. I am so spoiled to have enjoyed these really nice Earl Greys over the past two weeks, and this Earl Grey Cream is the icing on the cake, the piece de resistance, the…(okay, I think you get the point, haha) It’s AMAZING!

Oh gosh, the flavor: SO good! It does not have a super strong Ear Grey flavor, but that’s not to say it’s weak. It just tastes as though the bergamot has taken a respectful step to the side to give the cream more of the spotlight on center stage. (This is CREAM Earl Grey, after all) The bergamot is there, it is present, singing out it’s lively citrusy notes in harmony with the star of the show: the lovely cream! Mmmm that vanilla cream flavor is outstanding, belting out its melodiously rich, smooth song just like a famous opera singer! The cream mellows out the citrus and astringent black tea qualities, but is delightfully well-balanced with the other flavors. A nice sweet robust black tea flavor still shines through, so you don’t forget you’re drinking a black tea!

Overall this is deliciously rich and robust, yet sweet and creamy; it has no bitterness or sharp notes. It has a light citrus flavor, calm and soothing, like orange blossoms. Simply superb!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
TheTeaFairy

Lovely review Charissa, I share your enthusiasm, this is my favourite earl grey :-) I love that the creamy part is not overly vanilla, just perfectly balanced.

Charissa

Thanks, TeaFairy! Yes, it’s hard to contain the enthusiasm on this one…it’s just so good. :-)

TeaTiff

This is my go to tea these days. If I am not feeling excited about anything tea wise, or just have had too many disappointing cups, this one always brings me back to that zen tea place.

I think you should be a description writer for tea companies. I think you could sell me about any cup with how you world things. Love it!

Charissa

Thank you so much for sharing a sample of this with me, TeaTiff! I am completely hooked. And I’m glad you enjoy my reviews, though I don’t think they’re nearly as good as some of the things other people have written here. But I’m glad my English major is coming to good use! haha

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87

I had tried this sample from TeaTiff a while ago when I first got it, but refrained from writing about it until I could have another cup. This morning is rainy and cool, and Full Steam black is just the thing to get me going. It’s sweet, malty, roasty, and robust. I think someone else had mentioned it had some rye bread flavor, and I would agree. Mmmm nice notes of cocoa and rye bread, warm and roasty! Very good! I will have to check out Hugo’s other teas as well because I just might need to place an order!
Thank you, TeaTiff for introducing me to this!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Terri HarpLady

Tony is in Kansas City this week. I should have him pick some of this up for me.

looseTman

It’s also available online:
http://www.hugotea.com/collections/organic-tea/products/full-steam
$9.89/1.76 ounces
When does Hugo typically have sales?

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Bio

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
― C.S. Lewis

I have been enjoying and obsessing over tea since my college days, when a good cup got me through a long night of studying. Later on, tea helped keep me energized and hydrated for my long runs when I was marathon training. I was (and still am) a complete health nut, and researched all of teas’ wonderful benefits and to this day value the beverage not only for its outstanding flavors but for its antioxidant and health-giving properties.

After a torturous nine-month hiatus from tea while I was pregnant (I tried not to drink too much because of the caffeine) I am back to enjoying it without guilt once again! Although I’m nursing my son so I still have to limit my intake (Bummer! Guess my days of downing 4 cups of gunpowder green tea in the morning are long gone…) I’m just savoring the 1-2 cups per day I do allot myself. Now tea has once again come to the rescue at this time in my life, granting me moments of peace and pleasure and helping me keep my sanity after many long sleepless nights with the baby. Oh thank God for tea.

Favorites: Yunnan, Kenyan, and Assam black teas, White Peony (Bai Mu Dan), Pu-erh, and Milk Oolong.

I really need to try other kinds of tea, and not just stick like glue to my favorites! However, it can be hard with a limited budget, and I tend to buy my favorites repeatedly instead of trying something new because I honestly just love what I have!

Location

Iowa

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