618 Tasting Notes
The dry leaf aroma is pure almond extract. The brewed tea aroma is almond and green tea. The flavor? A delicious, buttery, almond green tea. It’s nothing unique or out of the ordinary. It’s just almond. But that’s why it’s perfect.
This is a welcome change from DAVIDsTEA’s tendency to over-flavor their teas. There’s nothing complicated going on in this cup. The ingredients list is green tea, almonds, marigold flowers, cornflower petals, and natural almond flavoring. That’s it!
DAVIDsTEA, keep on this track because this is what tea should be. Added flavoring that is natural and complements the base. Nothing artificial. Not an overabundance of stuff that masks the tea and overwhelms the cup. Just good tea. Yum!
The dry leaf aroma is overwhelming. It smells cloyingly sweet. There are lots of scents in here: lemon peel, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon. I’m not sure what to think. The leaves also look dirty. By that I mean that there is a lot of flavoring dust in here. There’s chunks of things you’d expect to see in chunk form: cardamom pods, coriander seeds, bits of lemon peel, and the leaves themselves. But what’s all this granular sand looking stuff? Some of it is sugar, clearly, but is all of it sugar? That’s a lot of sugar! Note: If you buy this tea, shake the tin/bag before measuring out the leaf. DAVIDsTEA recommends doing this to help distribute the flavoring evenly.
The brewed tea aroma is spot on French toast. I can smell the egg and the cinnamon. This is promising! One of my favorite parts of 52teas’ French Toast with Cardamom Maple Syrup tea is that you can actually smell and taste the egg, which is what gives it that distinctive French toast flavor. Without the egg, it becomes plain old bread.
First sip! Hmm, the flavor is overwhelming. There’s a lot going on in this cup! It tastes like French toast made in a lab instead of a kitchen. There’s a bit of artificiality that I’ve come to expect in DAVIDsTEA blends. But it’s not all bad. It’s actually quite good, although I think it could use some maple syrup. That’s not to say it needs sweetener. It’s quite sweet on its own. In fact, I wish they wouldn’t have added so much sugar. But it’s missing that maple flavor component of real French toast.
I added a tiny dollop of maple syrup and skim milk. It’s much more to my liking now. But I have to say that 52teas’ version is significantly more natural tasting and therefore significantly yummier. I really need more of that one. This one strikes me as a good latte tea. I think its artificial abundance could be tempered with lots of milk. Plus, who doesn’t love creamy lattes?
I tried a second infusion for seven minutes. There’s much less flavor, which is actually an improvement. But now I think it’s a tad too weak. Maybe I’ll try a two minute steep followed by a five minute steep next time. I think it might turn out better if the first steep is shorter.
My last comment is about the skinny tin that this tea came in. It is so cute! It’s much smaller than I expected considering they stuffed a full 50g in here. It takes up no space in my cupboard at all! I love small cute tins. I’m not sure I’ll be able to reuse it though because the tea was put directly into the tin. There’s no barrier between the leaves and the metal. So I think this tin might smell like cardamom and coconut sugar forever. But when I’m done with the tea, I’ll try washing it out with vinegar and water to see if I can get the aroma out.
The final verdict? This tea is good not great. I’ll enjoy what I have, but it certainly won’t be replacing 52teas’ version in my cupboard and I won’t be buying more.
The dry leaf aroma is strong, yummy peppermint with noticeable cocoa. Mmm! I’m excited to try this one! When I took the brew basket out of the cup four minutes later, my husband took in a deep breath and said, “Something smells good!” Haha, well it’s all mine! :P
It certainly is a fragrant tea. It’s filled the whole room with a lovely peppermint aroma. Wow, this is super strong! It’s mostly mint with chocolate lingering in the background and especially in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is cooling minty refreshment.
As it cools, there’s something rather bitter that makes its appearance. And the aftertaste is fairly artificial tasting now too. Sadly, I’ve found that many of DAVIDsTEA blends can taste artificial. It’s their fault for not using natural flavors. So I can’t say this tea is a complete winner. But it was a fun sample to try, if for nothing other than the peppermint patty potential and those sweet snowflake sprinkles! Yeah, alliteration!
The dry leaf aroma smells like red rooibos. The brewed tea aroma smells about the same. The flavor? Sweet rooibos. Where the ginger? Where’s the mate? Where’s the cookie? This is disappointing. Maybe I shouldn’t have followed the brewing instructions, which call for 185°F water. I’ve got to say that surprised me. I expected it to be boiling.
There’s a bit of maple in here. No pineapple, currants, or white chocolate even though the ingredients list says those are in here. I don’t know what kind of gingerbread cookies DAVIDsTEA staff are used to eating, but you wouldn’t find any of those ingredients in MY gingerbread cookies. And why did DAVIDsTEA label this as a mate tea when it’s mostly rooibos? This whole tea confounds me. It’s not bad it’s just nothing like what it’s advertised to be. If you like sweet rooibos teas, then you’ll like this. For myself, I’m glad I only got a free sample and not more.
Flavors: Maple, Rooibos, Sweet
Yay! Tea #2 from my Li Xiangxi Special Sample Pack! The dry leaf aroma is strong and kind of smells like a roasted Tie Guan Yin. I opted not to do a rinse. The first steep was for 3 seconds. It smells bizarre and slightly rancid, like sweaty underarms. The initial flavor is a bit like dirty, sweaty socks but the aftertaste is okay and more tea-like. It tastes strongly of passion fruit.
The second steep for 5 seconds was much improved. Do yourself a favor and rinse this tea!! The brewed tea aroma is no longer rancid sweat and the flavor is pure delicious tea. It’s much more enjoyable now. This has very strong floral and fruit notes. I swear it tastes exactly like a cross between honeysuckle and passion fruit. The flavor is so strong and thick that it almost tastes like I’m drinking pollen. A fruity pollen.
Wow, I really don’t think I’ve ever had such a fruity, floral unflavored tea. This is quite remarkable. Verdant’s notes say this is orchid, honey, melon, and aloeswood incense. I’m not getting much in the way of honey or sweetness. Orchid? Maybe. Yeah, I could see orchid. But to me, it is screaming honeysuckle pollen and passion fruit.
Third steep for 10 seconds. Okay, now I’m tasting honey. I can see the melon note as well, although I still prefer to define it as passion fruit. I don’t know what aloeswood incense is, but I would say this tea has very little spice to it. I’m also getting a bit more of the dark, woodsy, rocky minerality that I would expect from this type of oolong. But overall, there is not much minerality to speak of.
Fourth infusion for 15 seconds is just as delicious. The tea liquor is slowly darkening but still pretty light. It looks like liquid rose gold. :)
Next I had a small cup of 200 degree water. I read on Verdant’s site to drink plain hot water after every few infusions to clear your palate. I’m honestly surprised how much this plain water tastes like tea! As the water touches my palate, it seems to reawaken the aftertaste of the tea! It’s really a remarkable and fascinating thing to experience.
Fifth infusion for 20 seconds. The tea’s losing its bite, its punch. Still good but not quite as flavorful as the first few cups. It seems to build on my tongue though and the aftertaste lingers for a long time.
Sixth infusion for 30 seconds. The tea liquor is getting lighter again. There’s a bit more rocky minerality to it followed quickly by floral and fruity notes at the end of the sip. I’m starting to understand why this tea is so expensive. Special Grade? Yes, it is truly special indeed.
I really had a terrible day. One of the worst days I’ve had in a long time. The kind of day that makes you wonder why life is worth living. What’s the point of it all? What’s the point of living if you’re just in pain and causing pain to those around you? Am I supposed to just soldier through and pray that one day the pain will disappear? Am I supposed to hope that I’ll wake up one day and miraculously be whole again? What’s the point of living if I’m going to be broken forever? Life isn’t all bad. I have many things to be grateful for. But when there’s something physically broken about you that impacts your very identity as a woman, it’s really hard to see past that to the good things in life. You can try to ignore it but you can’t keep that up for long. This tea magically transported me out of that dark mindset, at least for a few minutes.
Seventh infusion for 50 seconds. Still good but definitely losing flavor. I think I’ll try a couple long steeps and then call it quits. Sorry that I took this note to a dark place at the end. I’m just devastated and I need an outlet. But back to the tea, this is truly special and definitely worth your time (and money) to pick up a sample. At $29/ounce, I don’t think I can afford a large quantity of this. But I am very glad that I was able to get a great deal on the Li Xiangxi Special Sample Pack so that I could try this tea. It’s an experience worth having.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Honey, Honeysuckle, Orchid, Passion Fruits
This is an old sample from Shmiracles. Thank you! Why I haven’t tried it till now, I couldn’t tell you. Samples have a way of getting lost in my cupboard after a few months.
The brewed tea aroma is peppermint, sugar, and cream. Despite its age, this tea is deliciously minty! Wow, this is really incredible! It’s got a great balance of mint and vanilla. Add vanilla and cream flavors to just about anything and I’m sold! This is no exception. Plus, it’s got those cute little candy canes. :)
Mmm mmm! I am really enjoying this. I know it’s late to be drinking black tea, but this is hitting the spot. There’s a bit of an odd aftertaste that’s not too great, but the main flavor is so delicious that I think I’m going to pick up some more this holiday season!
Flavors: Cream, Peppermint, Vanilla
My Li Xiangxi Special Sample Pack finally arrived! I paid $35 and waited about 5 weeks, so this better be worth it! The dry leaf aroma is rocky and mineraly. The brewed tea aroma is similar but saltier and more developed.
The flavor is really special! It’s rocky and mineraly with notes of honey and butterscotch sweetness. It definitely has lots of spice notes. I love spicy notes in teas. They’re probably my favorite. I also feel like there’s a blood orange note in the aftertaste. Looking at Verdant’s description of this tea, I’m spot on! That’s exciting. :)
This is a truly lovely rock oolong. The flavor is crisp and clean. There’s no bitterness or astringency. I know I say that for a lot of Verdant teas and that’s true for them all. But this one has a cleanness to it that is unique. You definitely know you’re drinking the best of the best. The aftertaste lingers long after the sip, like several minutes later kind of long.
This is a tea that should be savored and appreciated early in the morning when all is quiet. I suggest enjoying it gongfu style because it benefits from lots of infusions. I found myself quickly making the steeps longer though. I pretty much doubled the infusions each time till I was up to a couple minutes. Honestly, this is the best rock oolong I’ve ever tasted. I highly recommend it.
Flavors: Blood orange, Butterscotch, Honey, Mineral
The dry leaf aroma is sweet and floral. It’s also almost fruity. The brewed tea aroma is a floral green oolong. This is my kind of tea!
I got this sample from a co-worker/friend. I have no idea what company this is from as the red, vacuum sealed package is only covered in kanji. I tried translating 茗典茶藏 and determined it says: “tea for ceremony, tea to have.” Anyone come across this before?
The leaves fully unfurled after the second infusion for two minutes. It’s a shame I can’t identify the source because this is a great tea! The leaves have more stem attached then I’ve ever seen before, but the resulting tea is delicious! It’s probably an unflavored milk oolong. This second infusion is creamy! Mmm, yum! This is soooo good! It’s really hitting the spot. I’d rate it a 92.
This is completely unacceptable. Malnourished children are dying on tea farms in India! I absolutely love tea but I am absolutely appalled at the horrible living conditions of these tea workers in Assam. We need to demand better conditions and higher wages for these workers. Stop the child labor! I will no longer buy tea from the following companies: Twinings, Lipton, Tetleys, Yorkshire Tea, Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, Doomur Dullung, and PG Tips.
The dry leaves have virtually no aroma. That’s interesting for a roasted tea. I’d expect there to be a nice roasty toasty aroma dry or wet. Wow, the brewed tea aroma is so unexpected! Again, I expected something roasted like houjicha. But instead I was greeted by a baked squash aroma! It really smells like freshly roasted vegetables. It smells like food! Not tea! Pumpkin. Yes, this tastes like baked pumpkin. There’s a tiny bit of saltiness too that reminds me of toasted pumpkin seeds.
The flavor deepens in the next infusions. It’s rich and malty, full-bodied with a round mouthfeel. I’m definitely getting the chocolate notes now and they’re only getting stronger. I brewed this in my gaiwan and didn’t strain the leaves with a strainer. I just used the gaiwan lid to keep the majority of the leaves out of the cups. I read somewhere on Verdant’s blog that not using an additional strainer can change the mouthfeel of the tea. So I decided to give it a try. Little bits of leaves do end up in each cup, but it’s not bothering me. I wonder if the sediment and leaf bits are steeping the tea longer or if they’re too small to make much of a difference.
This tea definitely benefits from lots of quick steeps. Infusing these leaves for even a few seconds too long can result in a bitter cup. I’m not very familiar with roasted oolongs, but this strikes me as more of a black tea than an oolong. Drinking this when it’s piping hot results in a very nice mouthfeel. It’s like that prickly sensation you feel when you first get into a hot car that’s been sitting in the sun for a few hours and the warmth of the air prickles as it rushes over your skin. I like the sensation and it lingers after the sip.
I think this is the first time I’ve detected a cherry note in a tea. This is really good! It reminds me of Laoshan Black. They’re quite similar teas. In fact, I wish I had some so I could do a side-by-side comparison. I think I like this more than Laoshan Black actually. This is truly chocolaty in a way that many unflavored teas claim to be but aren’t. I love this! Thank goodness I have one more sample. I’d be sad if this was my first and last cup. And let me say that these leaves go for a long, long time! I’m getting many more infusions than I usually do with any tea and they’re staying flavorful. After approximately 15+ infusions, I’ve lost count. These later cups are chocolate and caramel with a silky finish. I think the sandalwood is peaking out a bit more now too. Oooh, yes! This is my kind of tea!
Flavors: Butternut Squash, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Malt, Pumpkin, Vegetables, Wood