61 Tasting Notes

85

Oh my, this is such a delightful treat! This would be a perfect black to pair with dessert, although it is so good I think it is dessert in and of itself! These delectable Ceylon black tips have a wonderfully smooth and sweet taste. I especially enjoy the lovely, lovely chocolate notes. The leaves themselves even smell of chocolate before they are steeped! How unusual to find a “chocolatey” tea that is naturally that way and not with added flavor. Yet the chocolate notes are just that: light notes that dance on the tongue in tune with the other flavors. Excellent!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Nicole

I need to get back up to Des Moines to hit up Gong Fu Tea Shop again for some of the teas I’m seeing reviewed on here. I was kind of overwhelmed by the wall o’ tins last time and stuck with what I was reasonably sure I’d like. :)

Charissa

Yes, their monstrous “wall of tea” is a bit daunting! That’s why I have to spend several days before I go there browsing their tea catalog, reading the descriptions of the tea offerings and narrowing it down by marking the ones I’m interested in trying… Then when I’m at the shop I can make my final selection(s). It’s always hard, though, because there are so many I want to try! :-)

Nicole

What I need to do is go with 3 or 4 other people and we all get a pot of something different. And then another pot of something different. :) I guess I’ll be there for awhile… :)

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94
drank Nilgiri by Gong Fu Tea Shop
61 tasting notes

Very nice! A light, tasty tea that is faintly reminiscent of Darjeeling but stands apart with its own flavor. Its taste is of a smooth, mellow black tea with notes of pine and a sweet blackberry finish. It leaves a slightly dry lingering taste on the tongue that, for me, is rather pleasant.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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I just received my tea order last week and, after first enjoying some of the delicious Indian black teas I have been craving from Mountain Rose Herbs, decided to have a refreshing cup of my favorite white tea. As soon as I opened the bag, I was disappointed. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My precious White Peony, which I have ordered before many times, was no longer whole leaf!! I was so shocked to find all those lovely leaves and buds all chopped up to smithereens, my beautiful baby hacked to oblivion…! Why, why, why??? I can’t believe they would do that to this wonderful tea, which was so perfect when it was whole! Why couldn’t they have left it as it was?

Trying not to panic, I proceeded to make my cup of tea (using less leaf than I used to when it was whole—I used to use a large heaping tablespoon but figured because it’s broken leaf I would need only the standard teaspoonful), hoping against all hope that perhaps it would still taste the same as I remember it: sweet and slightly floral, like honey and flowers… So I held my breath and waited for the infusion to finish steeping.
and poured it into the cup. It was darker in color, like a darker brownish yellow (unlike the lovely golden honey-color I fondly remember). I took a sip. It was not the same. My worse fears had been confirmed. Something in this tea had been lost—the delicate taste was gone, replaced by a stronger, more bold and flat vegetal flavor. I wanted to cry. (And then I somehow managed to keep it together, reminding myself that I am an adult, and that there really are worse things in life than a disappointing cup of tea! Ah, perspective.)

Anyhow, I am now left with an 8 oz bag of the Shredded White Peony. What to do, what to do? I knew I could make this tea for my husband, who is most definitely NOT a tea snob like me and who gasp! thinks all tea “tastes basically the same”, and therefore is my typical go-to person for disposing of sub-par tea so as not to waste it. But I felt I should not give up on my poor peony so easily. It used to be too good of a tea to waste on my husband. So…

As with all things, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I decided that this tea could possibly be blended with something else and produce a decent cup. Fortunately I had also just bought a bunch of MRH’s peppermint leaf (I will have a separate tasting note on that because it is SO good!) and thought the flavor of the white peony would actually work well with some nice crisp, refreshing mint. I resolved to try it and made 3 cups of an infusion from 2 teaspoons white tea + 1 teaspoon peppermint leaf. The result: VERY GOOD! It was light, minty, slightly vegetal but not too strong, the white tea flavor came through and was not overpowered by the mint, and overall I would say it made a fine blend. I call this tea, “Winter’s Breath” as its taste brings to mind that moment when you step outside on a snowy winter day and inhale the crisp clean air. It should provide the perfect drink for Christmas morning, or on any winter day when the snow is falling outside. As I seem to always get in the mood for mint around the holidays, this should be good for all my intents and purposes this year.

As to why MRH decided to cut up their white tea, I have no idea and am curious to find out. I might call the company and just ask about it, because I do miss how it was sold before. I love MRH, they have excellent teas and this is the first time I have ever been disappointed with their product. I’m sure they must have a good reason for not selling it whole leaf. Oh well. Don’t cry over spilt milk. Or in this case, broken leaf.

Because this tea was always good before, and the essential taste is still there (although it is much stronger and less complex than before) I will hold off rating this for now. I am going to experiment a little and try steeping it at different temps, for different times, and see if I can’t get closer to the taste I love and remember before.

Hesper June

Oh, dear! How disappointing:(
I have not ordered from them in last couple of months, however I have never had a “bad” order.
This saddens me and makes me wonder “what’s up MRH?”
If you do call and receive a reason, please share.

Charissa

Hesper, I did contact MRH via e-mail and have not received a response yet. Will keep you posted if I get any info! (I have never had a bad order either, and I’m really happy with all the other teas I got with this recent shipment so that’s a positive.)

Charissa

I received a very pleasing response from MRH this afternoon that goes as follows:
“Thank you for contacting us Charissa! Our last lot of white peony tea was indeed milled differently than those in the past, cut into smaller pieces as you observed. After speaking with representatives of the purchasing department, I can assure you that this change was temporary and we will be returning to the old cut after this particular lot runs out. I am sorry that the tea has disappointed you, and I would encourage you to return any product to us that does not meet your standards. I have included our return policy information for your reference…”

Oh good! Thank you Mountain Rose Herbs! :-)

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100
drank Milk Oolong by Gong Fu Tea Shop
61 tasting notes

My husband and I were in Des Moines this weekend because I was running a 5k, and lo and behold it just so happened that the race was practically right next to my favorite tea shop: Gong Fu Tea! Naturally, as soon as the race was over we headed over there to splurge on some tea (gotta have my post-run “recovery” beverage, of course!)

I ordered a cup of this milk oolong and thoroughly enjoyed it to the last drop. Admittedly I am not a very knowledgeable or experienced oolong drinker so I don’t have much to compare this to, but in my opinion is was very wonderful and unique. My son had fallen asleep in his stroller, the tea shop atmosphere was perfectly relaxed and soothing, and I just sat in their comfy chair and had a peaceful moment all to myself as I savored each sip of this tea, letting its warmth envelop me and its exquisite taste take me away to another world. Every so often I would open my eyes between sips and jot a note on what mouth was experiencing.

This tea’s flavor consisted of pleasing, warm, mellow notes reminiscent of coconut milk. It was rich and buttery with a lovely light sweet lingering finish. It was delicious, like a homemade butter cookie right out of the oven, yet at the same time it was not at all too heavy or rich. Mmmmmmmmm. I REALLY would have liked to purchase more of it in bulk to take home, but I had some other teas I’ve been wanting to try and my budget was limited. Alas, I will just have to wait to get it another time.

Preparation
4 min, 30 sec

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95

I usually like black teas to get me going in the morning, but occasionally I will be in the mood for something lighter to start my day. This morning I got out my Dao Ren green tea—which is what I like to think of as my “breakfast green tea” because it fuller-bodied than other green teas and thus makes for a perfect breakfast cup. It is smooth, thick, nutty, and sweet, but not strong or astringent, and has a “gentleness” about it that makes it quite comforting. It brews up a slightly cloudy golden-green color, with a nice warm vegetal scent. It is a pleasant way to wake up and ease into the day, suitable for when you don’t need to be jolted awake (as when drinking a brisk, black tea). It is very satisfying and holds its own for breakfast—but also serves for the afternoon too.

I was surprised that one person had commented they steep it for only 1-2 minutes, although I know that is the case typically for green teas. I just can’t understand how that is long enough to taste anything though! Maybe my water is hard and that is interfering with my ability to taste the subtle notes? (I use regular tap water, usually filtered although I need to change the filter on our purifier so maybe that’s the problem?) but any tea flavor is barely detectable for me at 1-2 minutes, and I’ve tried different water temperatures. This goes for virtually all my teas. If it is not a water issue, then perhaps it’s simply that my palate just isn’t sensitive enough (and thus why I tend to prefer black teas over green in general). Perhaps I need to try more green and white teas and work on developing my tastebuds to pick up on their subtleties! I don’t know. Does anyone else have this problem?

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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95

I happened to get this tea on a whim during Teavana’s big annual tea sale, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! I would agree with others who have noted that they couldn’t really detect any chocolate flavor, but it was sweet and malty and altogether wonderful so I can’t complain.

I only wish I had more…sadly that stash of tea is long gone. I enjoyed each and every cup I drank, and the fond memory still remains with me. I will have to get this one again someday, although my priority is for teas that are organic, whenever possible, so we’ll see.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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83

This is a very unique and delicious tisane! It’s tart, yet has some sweetness to it too. I usually don’t add anything to my tea, but this tastes really nice with honey. Just don’t over brew it. In my experience, anything longer than 5 minutes and it tastes horribly bitter.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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82

Light, sweet, well-balanced mint and tea flavors (in other words, the mint did not overpower the delicate green tea). Very good!

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67

I liked this tea, although as one other person commented it tastes “thin.” the flavors are all there—nice chocolate, cinnamon, earthy puerh, but it just isn’t as strong as I would prefer. Compared to The Tea Spot’s Bolder Breakfast, this is rather light. (Although I suppose that is not quite a fair comparison because the Bolder Breakfast is a blend of black tea and puerh, so of course it would taste stronger than just pure puerh.)Anyway, as far as chocolatey teas go, this is good but not my favorite.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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90

I think the company’s description of this tea is correct, and it is absolutely delicious! I love black teas with notes of cacao, and this one definitely has that.

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec

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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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