72 Tasting Notes
I’m taking a brief break from my oolong tastings to have some black teas. It is just that kind of day. A dull, foggy, gray morning that calls for a nice warm, rich, bold cuppa. And according to the forecast we are supposed to have a blizzard this afternoon (even though just yesterday it was sunny, “warm”—that is, above freezing, haha!—the snow was melting…and now we are to have another storm. Oh Iowa, you are funny.)
I received this wonderful sample from TeaTiff—thank you for sharing with me! Of course, I am attracted to anything chocolate, and when I saw this I thought it looked very interesting with the oolong and genmaicha blended in. I was not disappointed. It was the perfect cup to combat the dreary day—warm, roasty, not bitter at all, slightly sweet. It tasted like cocoa rice; as if a pot of steamed rice had been made and a bit of cocoa powder added to it. Yum! Very enjoyable!
I picked this up at my local food co-op on a whim today, and am really glad I did! I have never tried a green puerh before, but have been eager to for a while so…here goes!
1st steep: 4 minutes, ~180 degrees . Light, clean, sweet, tastes of apricot and clover. note I noticed after I removed the infuser that not all of the cake had been completely submerged in the water, and thus the tea leaves had not totally unfurled—they were still in a loosely-held ball. Still, despite this, I got a nice first infusion. Light, but still tasteful.
2nd steep: 4 minutes, ~180 degrees. This time I made sure to gently break apart the ball of leaves with my teaspoon to evenly distribute them in the infuser. The taste of the finished brew was much stronger. It definitely tasted of apricot and hay, but with a decidedly bitter finish. No sweetness detectible in this infusion.
3rd steep: 4 minutes, ~180 degrees. This time the tea was much less bitter (but still had a bit of a bite lingering), and contained hay and a mild apricot flavor.
Overall, the flavors I detected didn’t change much between the infusions. The same flavors were present but at varying degrees, and the extent of the bitterness differed among the steeps. The main undeniable flavor was apricot—which surprised and pleased me. I did not expect that at all. I guess I thought that because it is a puerh, it would taste more earthy/grassy/mossy but it seemed more like a normal green tea. Very interesting! And, I might add, it was a perfect antidote to the rich lunch I ate (turkey sausage with onions sauteed in butter, and a piece of 2-layer buttermilk chocolate cake washed down with a mug of whole milk! Definitely not the healthiest meal, but that’s leftovers and they should not be wasted, haha!)
I am looking forward to drinking this tea again. I think I will steep it at a slightly lower temperature next time and see if that does anything to assuage the bitterness. Also, I think I will have to buy some of the organic green puerh offered at Gong Fu Tea for comparison’s sake.
Another excellent oolong from Yezi! I actually had this tea on two separate occasions. The first is what I took tasting notes on and is what I will report here. The second time, I followed the “proper” way, by doing a rinse, then a brief 1-2 minute steep, followed by another, etc. However, while this was nice, it really didn’t make a ton of difference to me. I did pick up more on the floral flavors with that first rinse, and that actually tasted better to me than the subsequent steeps. Anyway, doing shorter more frequent steeps like that still doesn’t provide a strong enough brew for my own personal preference, but I’m glad I gave it a try.
Okay, so back to that very first brewing, which was for 4 minutes. The liquor was a light pale yellow, and the aroma was soft, sweet, leafy, and slightly floral—kind of like a garden. The taste was light, clean, crisp, and just a little dry on the tongue and throat after it was swallowed. It was very tasty indeed! Yezi is right: it is perfect tea for the afternoon to help get over that post-lunch slump! It gently awakens the senses and brightens the day. Lovely!
I had this tea again this morning and found it to be much more smooth and mellow than the last time I tried it. It seems as though the vanilla flavor has been able to meld better with the Assam. I brewed it the same way I did the last time, so maybe the difference is that it takes a while for the vanilla essence to totally seep into the tea? Regardless, it was good. Not perfect, but still enjoyable. The sweet vanilla seemed to tame the boldness of the Assam, making it a good balance of flavors, yet it was not too dessert-like.
I made a little pot of this Pouchong one afternoon along with another Yezi tea, their Dong Ding Winter Peak. It was fun to taste the two side-by-side. I am just becoming better acquainted with oolongs and figured that doing an “oolong tasting” of different kinds would be a good way for me to pick up on the nuances of flavor between them.
I steeped this Pouchong in a ceramic teapot for 4 minutes. The color of the liquor, like the Dong Ding, was a lovely golden hue. The aroma and taste was of sweet cream, honey and lemon, with hints of vanilla and pine; and it was also slightly vegetal like green tea. Oh gosh it was splendid. I think I was in heaven.
Needless to say, I am really, really enjoying these oolongs that share similarities with green tea. I like green tea, but sometimes it can be a little sharp, a little too vegetal, so I have to be in the right mood for it. Oolongs, or at least the few I’ve tried so far, seem to contain the best of what I like about green tea yet with flavors entirely their own, and they are just oh so mellow and sweet and delicious! How have I not tried these before? Wow, have I been living in a bubble or what?! I am SO pleased with this tea and wish I could make a million pots of it and drink it all day long, morning, noon, and night. Food? Don’t need it. All the flavor I could want is already here, contained in this cup.
Another day when I have time I would like to do shorter and more frequent steeps to separate out and pinpoint the flavors. That should enable me to provide a more thorough analysis. For instance, I think I detect some floral notes, but which flowers?
As a part of my resolve to branch out and explore oolong tea, I made a purchase from Yezi for this lovely Dong Ding. (I also ordered their Pouchong as well and made a pot of it at the same time to compare to this—-review coming soon). This tea was absolutely wonderful—made my taste buds dance! I steeped this in my little glass teapot for 4 minutes, and the color of the liquor was a beautiful gold, the aroma sweet and buttery. The taste was phenomenal: sweet, slightly floral (orchid?) slightly buttery—and overall it was lively, lingering, and lovely! It was very faintly reminiscent of the milk oolong I have from Gong Fu Tea, only less creamy/buttery and with the added floral notes. Aaaahhhh truly a delight in every sense!
I steeped the leaves again, this time for 5 minutes, and could definitely taste more of floral aspects. It was also creamy, a little more vegetal, and dry on the tongue, but not at all unpleasant.
This is a definite LOVE. I will have to order this again. It is such a pleasing and complex tea, so fresh and tasty, you can just tell it is of very exceptional quality. This is truly happiness in a cup!
I received a sample of this from Yezi, and it is a very unique tea. As a lover of black teas, I have never experienced any quite like this before. Now, before I go into my review, I must point out that I did not follow the steeping directions Yezi suggests: making brews every 15 seconds or whatever. I usually can never taste much of anything that early on in the steeping process, so I just made the tea the way I normally make all my black teas: boiling water (which actually I found out cools to around 190-195 in most of my tea ware—which includes ceramic and glass teapots, and in this case, a ceramic mug)—and I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes. So perhaps that is why I experienced VERY different flavors than what others report in their reviews.
Anyway, the aroma of the dry leaves consisted of a lovely chocolate scent. The aroma of the liquor was very different: I know it sounds strange but it totally smelled like dry bread. And the tea tasted like slightly burnt bread crusts. Very strange to me. The bready taste was immediately followed by a twinge of bitterness. Other flavors I picked up on was a very strong roasted flavor with hints of coffee. Actually, this tea reminds me of a stout, with roasted malt or roasted barley flavors. Overall, it had a dark, malty, roasted taste, with no sweetness.
I honestly really didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I think this is the first black tea I didn’t care for! (But then again, I probably ruined it due to my lack of adherence to the brewing recommendations for this tea. Shame on me! haha.) Anyway, I’m also surprised I didn’t enjoy it because it does have the dark coffee and beer flavor aspects I tend to like. I seem to gravitate toward a good dark stout, or a cup of black, strong coffee, or a nice piece of bitter dark chocolate…so this tea should be right up my alley! Perhaps it was the thick bready and roasted part that sort of made it too strange for my liking. I will have to try this tea again sometime and actually follow the proper directions to see if that changes my opinion!
I have been meaning to write a note on this for a while. My hubby and I love this peppermint—it makes an absolutely WONDERFUL cup of strong, sweet, fresh, invigorating, and delicious “tea.” I also enjoy mixing it with my real teas (see tasting note on White Peony).
I have a lot I could say about this peppermint, but I would be repeating everything that Dylan Oxford wrote in his very thorough and very excellent tasting note. He pretty much nails it with his detailed description of the powerful scent of the dry leaves, the fresh aroma of the leaves as they are steeping, and finally, the lovely, full minty taste of the brew itself.
Whether you have this by itself or as a mix-in with other herbs or teas, it is definitely a must-have for mint-lovers. I have tried other peppermint teas (mainly the teabag varieties like Stash, Celestial Seasonings, etc.) but this refreshing leaf is the finest, strongest, and freshest tasting tisane I have ever had.
This is a new one from Mountain Rose Herbs! I was pretty excited because I love the idea of vanilla and black tea. (That, and because I am a total chocoholic, black teas + chocolate is also a marriage made in heaven in my opinion!) That said, however, I really don’t like super “dessert-y” teas with lots of added flavorings. I’m kind of a purist and generally appreciate when I get notes of those flavors naturally from the tea itself. I know there are many, many variations of vanilla or chocolate or caramel dessert teas that are made by various companies, but I just don’t want all of the flavorings they usually add. But on the off chance I do feel in the mood for an added bit of flavor to complement the tea, I like the minimum amount necessary and the more natural, the better! As in, for example, the use of real fruit bits instead of fruit flavor, or real vanilla bean instead of flavoring. (Speaking of flavorings, I know this is a bit of a tangent but does anyone know what those mysterious “natural flavors” are that many manufacturers add? How do they make them? I’m not saying they are all bad, but I just tend to find them too artificial-tasting. Any good articles out there I could read on the topic? I’d really like to know the chemistry of it all…how these flavor profiles are created, etc.)
Anyway, sorry it’s taking me so long to get to the point. This is supposed to be a tasting note and instead I’m turning it into a long story about flavored teas. Sorry!
So this Vanilla Black is pretty good, a little sharp-tasting sometimes and overall very bold. The vanilla taste is there, but it almost has a slight bitterness to it, and the flavor is not as full and rich as I would have expected given that this tea has vanilla beans as well as vanilla flavoring. I like it, but something feels sort of wanting or out of balance—it’s nothing drastic and obvious, but something just under the surface that is hard to pinpoint. I think it might be lacking more of a smoothness and richness from the vanilla? Or maybe the Assam is just too bold to be blended with vanilla and therefore a different choice of a black tea base would be preferable, like a Yunnan black that is more mellow? Not sure.
I do like this but it’s not my favorite. I’m not sure I would order it again. It is a good accompaniment to dessert though—I had it with a slice of pound cake and that was pretty satisfying! Maybe adding cream and sugar would round it out more, but I’m just not a fan of doing that to my tea!
Oh and a quick extra blurb here: I once tried making my own using a Madagascar vanilla bean and adding bits to a black tea I had (can’t remember which kind) but it didn’t really work. The vanilla failed to blend well with the tea and I could barely taste it, even though I had scraped a good amount of vanilla specks into the tea and added the pieces of pod as well to steep along with the tea. Disappointing. Maybe I wasn’t doing it right. Has anyone else tried making their own vanilla tea this way? Or tried adding their own natural flavors? What did you do that worked?