514 Tasting Notes

78
drank Genmaicha by Kusmi Tea
514 tasting notes

I reached into my still large pile of samples from Shmiracles and randomly selected this tea. The dry leaf aroma is surprisingly floral. Last time I checked, there’s nothing floral about genmaicha. It’s simply a medley of bancha green tea leaves, popped corn, and roasted brown rice.

Luckily, once the water hit the leaves, a nice roasted rice aroma floated up into the air. Oh thank goodness! You had me a bit worried there, genmaicha. ;)

The flavor is roasted rice with a very light green tea background. There’s something floral in the taste as well. Strange. Floral notes do not belong in my beloved genmaicha. It’s fighting the roasted note, which now only emerges in the aftertaste.

It’s nice for what it is, but it’s not my perfect genmaicha tea. How interesting to find a floral genmaicha though. I’ve definitely never come across this before. Thanks to Shmiracles for the sample!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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98

Mmmm, these two were made to be together! The sweet, buttery caramel blends so smoothly with the creamy, tangy cheesecake. I am loving this! It’s a fantastic combo!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C
Sil

mmm i like mixing these together often.

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95

SIPDOWN!

I drank 3 cups of this one tonight just to make it a sipdown. :P I’ve enjoyed its spun sugar yumminess, but I don’t think I’ll re-stock it. I’m ready and excited to continue my Red Leaf Tea adventures with some new-to-me flavors. There’s so many I want to try! How do I choose??

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C

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85

SIPDOWN, and a Gongfu brewing session!

According to Verdant Tea’s website, you should steep this tea for 3 seconds and then increase the steeping time after the third infusion by 3 seconds or to taste. Three seconds seemed like an awfully short amount of time. So, I opted to start out at 10 seconds. The resultant liquor is an unsettling yellow color. I won’t tell you what it reminds me of…

But the flavor is incredible! So very different from what I remember from the Western steeping. It tastes like snap peas and butter. It’s very flavorful and very delicious! Second infusion also for 10 seconds was similar but a little bit greener. There’s more of a grassy note apparent now.

(Start unrelated rant). Why do people fight you on stuff when you’re the expert in it? I know what’s best. You don’t. You came to me for my assistance, not the other way around. If you think you know best, then do it yourself and leave me out of it! I had to waste an hour of my time for people to come to the same conclusion that I told them in the first 5 minutes. And then they try to give me an extremely unrealistic deadline. I can’t work on 4 different projects at once and get them all done in 30 days. Are you serious? They can’t all be at the same priority level! Some things are just more important than others! And if this is really that important, then hire more people to work on it! I shouldn’t be the only one! Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. And now I have to wait for the water to boil again. Ugh. (End rant).

I don’t know what I did wrong, but the third infusion for 10 seconds was bitter. Blech. Ironically, the fourth infusion for 13 seconds had no bitterness at all. The cup returned to its beautiful creamy, buttery, vegetal self. I wonder what happened? Maybe taking a break in the brewing session allowed the wetness in the leaves to sit and create bitterness. That’s the only explanation I can think of that makes sense because the fourth infusion picks right up where the second one left off. Weird.

Fifth infusion for 16 seconds was less flavorful. The liquor color remained strong though, and the aftertaste was a nice buttery grassiness. Sixth and final infusion for 19 seconds was pretty much the same as the fifth. I think this tea is done. The first two infusions were definitely the best. I had hoped that the interlude wouldn’t color my opinion of this tea, but I think it has. Phooey. So much for relaxing with a nice cup of tea this afternoon. :/

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C

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88
drank Osmanthe D'Or by Dammann Freres
514 tasting notes

The dry leaf aroma is floral oolong. Oh yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! I woke up craving a nice green oolong, and I think this tea will assuage my craving nicely. I wasn’t entirely sure what brewing parameters to use, so I opted to do what other Steepsterites here did.

The brewed tea aroma is more developed but otherwise the same as the dry aroma. The taste? Ohhhhh yeaaaahh! This was exactly what I wanted! It’s a lovely quintessential example of floral green oolongs. Buttery, silky smooth, and full of flavor!

I agree with Dinosara’s assessment that this is an unscented oolong with natural Osmanthus-like qualities. It tastes very naturally floral to me as well and not flavored with real Osmanthus flowers. I’ve only tried one other Osmanthus oolong and that one definitely had more of a flavored feel to it. It was from Lupicia, and it was a very long time ago that I had it. But I do remember it being lovely and quite enjoyable.

Second infusion for 4 minutes was equally as delicious as the first infusion! As the cup cools, it loses luster. This is definitely best enjoyed piping hot. Third infusion for 5.5 minutes was less floral yet still tasty. This is a great green oolong, and I’m very happy that I had the opportunity to try it. Thank you to Shmiracles for passing along this sample!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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98
drank Cheesecake Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
514 tasting notes

I’m really enjoying this one today. Creamy cheesecake in matcha form. Tangy and delicious! This one is a keeper and almost better than the real thing. :)

First, I made this with only hot water. Then I tried my first ever cold matcha latte with skim milk! It wasn’t bad! But I do think I prefer matcha with just hot water. It’s less calories that way too. ;)

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C

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76

The dry leaf aroma is bergamot and hazelnut, which is kind of a weird combination to my nose. It’s definitely very unique and unlike any other tea I’ve smelled. This is a tea that requires milk. I added sweetener too, which may have been premature.

The dominant flavor is definitely hazelnut, followed by bergamot and something floral, and then finally a little caramel. I don’t particularly like this Adagio base. It’s fairly bitter even with milk, and normally I don’t find it so. Hmm, I want to like this. I really do. But it’s just…

I think it’s the hazelnut that I’m really not a fan of here. It’s very heavy and artificial. No, this is just not my cup of tea. Oh well. Thanks to Shmiracles for the sample!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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89
drank Caramel by Kusmi Tea
514 tasting notes

My first Kusmi tea thanks to Shmiracles!! The dry leaf aroma is caramel but not in an overly sweet, sugary manner. The brewed tea aroma is much more tea heavy than I would have thought. The taste is more tea and less caramel as well. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if you’re in the mood for a dessert tea, this may not hit the spot.

The caramel flavor is light and tastes almost syrup-y. Yes, that’s it. It tastes like caramel syrup. The base tea flavor dominates the sip. The aftertaste is where the caramel shines. With sweetener added, there’s much more caramel flavor noticeable in the sip rather than exclusively in the aftertaste. Now this is more to my liking!

I can understand the caramel chew similarity now. This does have an interesting mouthfeel. The base is really a lovely complement to the added flavoring. There’s just the tiniest hint of malt, which I’m really digging. This is a wonderful tea and one that grows on you the more you sip it. Thanks Shmiracles for sending a sample my way!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
CHAroma

Second steep for 4 minutes was a little watery but still good.

Angrboda

This one is my most favourite caramel flavoured black. :D

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85

This smells and tastes amazing! I’m not sure what else there is to say about it.

Artichoke and green bean are the primary vegetables present. There’s lots of butter and a touch of creaminess. This is luscious and silky and just plain delicious. It reminds me a lot of one of Teavivre’s green teas. I can’t remember which one because I’ve tried so many. But it tastes almost identical. If I figure out which one it is, I’ll update this note to let y’all know.

This was brewed Western style. As the cup cooled, it seemed to lose its complexity and grew slightly heavy on the tongue. Of course, part of this sensation could be because I’m very very full right now. I ate French toast for breakfast and had probably twice as much as I should have. I’m stuffed!

Second infusion for two minutes was less vegetal and more creamy. Third infusion for three minutes was still flavorful but had even less buttery veggie notes. The first infusion is definitely the best. It’s not my favorite unflavored green since it seems to get less tasty with each subsequent steep. To me, this tea is good but not rave worthy. Still, I’m glad I got a chance to try it!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec
TheTeaFairy

awaiting for the spring harvest (pre-ordered), can’t wait!

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83
drank SBT: Lime Jello by 52teas
514 tasting notes

I really feel like lime right now. Not sure why, but lime just sounds so good. I also want to do something that is minimal effort so I don’t have to keep washing out my tea paraphernalia to brew another cup of something. Plus, it’s finally summer weather!! Iced tea sounds like just the thing!

This tea bag was purchased last year, but I don’t think that’s affected its quality or strength since it’s been sealed in the original, airtight packaging. The dry leaves smell really lime-y! Ooooh, I can’t wait!

I certainly have gotten better at making iced tea since my first time with SBT’s Cotton Candy. This was super easy! Why don’t I make iced tea more often? For whatever reason, I bought 7 of the 8 flavors released last year and then didn’t make half of them! Silly me. But the time has finally come for Lime Jello!!

Mmmmm, this tea is pure lime goodness! I added sweetener and that’s when it really came alive. Lime and black tea were just made for each other! Waaaay better than lemon and black tea. ;)

Looks like Frank hasn’t re-released this one yet. I hope he does! This is a GREAT tea, especially for only $3!!! This tea really doesn’t get enough credit. It’s super lime-y (and not in an artificial way), amazingly tastes just like jello in liquid tea form, and is simply super delicious! Thanks for making this Frank, now bring it back!!!

Preparation
Iced 3 min, 0 sec

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Bio

Entering the sweet blissful world of tea aromas!

Having discovered this website at the end of July 2011, I’m so excited to share my tea adventures with all of you! I grew up with my grandmother serving Twining’s English Breakfast with cream and sugar.

But on a trip to Seattle in 2010, I stumbled into a Chinese teashop and tried my first oolong tea. I was forever changed! I embarked on a startling new love for green and white teas.

With a world of teas to discover, I was inspired to keep a tea journal to record my thoughts and new favorites. Let’s get brewing!


My ratings are completely subjective and 100% my opinion. All ratings are given in relation to each other (ie. teas are rated in the order of my enjoyment of them). Therefore, my ratings will constantly change as I try more teas.


I love swapping!!! If you see something in my cupboard you’d like to try, just send me a message. If you’d like to trade, anything on my shopping list will do or feel free to send something else entirely. I’m willing to try almost anything (although I’m not really a fan of honeybush, red rooibos, pu’erh, Lapsang Souchong, & banana-flavored teas).

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Maryland, USA

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