543 Tasting Notes

76
drank Imperial Earl Grey by Ikaati
543 tasting notes

Another raided complimentary sample tea bag. For more info on the story of Ikaati and my finding it, see my Black Orchid tasting note.

The dry leaf aroma here is very perfume-y bergamot. The brewed tea aroma is classic dirty diaper Keemun followed by bergamot. Unfortunately, the dirty diaper aroma has made its way into the taste. This is just nasty. Blech. :( You know, this tea says it has Yunnan and Keemun in it, so you’d think I’d like it better than the all Keemun Black Orchid tea. But I’m really only getting Keemun here. Weird.

I’ll have to add milk and sugar to see if this cup is at all redeemable. I added quite a bit of milk and only a little sweetener. This seems to have killed most of the Keemun yuckiness. Now I’m left with a pretty good cup of earl grey! If you like Keemun, then you’d most definitely like this tea. There’s nothing wrong with the Keemun here. I’m just not a fan of that particular base.

The bergamot oil is not overdone either. It’s blended nicely and reminds me of my visits to Paris. OMG! I’m going to Paris again in less than 6 months!!! Ahhhh!!!! I better buy our plane tickets! :D Damn, prices have really gone up lately. I should have bought them in March. Dang it! I knew they were good prices back then! Agh!

Oooh, but flying into London is cheap! Hmm, I need to go revise our travel plans. Maybe we’ll do London AND Paris. ;)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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79
drank Black Orchid by Ikaati
543 tasting notes

First cup of the day! It’s time to continue drinking down all of these one sample tea bags!

This is a sample I grabbed up at the Spa Terre at Hotel Viking in Newport, RI. I went the day before the wedding to get a French manicure with my mom. It was just the two of us, and the total bill came to $132! Needless to say, I felt a little cheated. So on the way out, I raided their complimentary tea stand. ;)

I’ve never heard of Ikaati. And apparently neither has Steepster, as I was the first one to add these teas to the database. I grabbed two black teas, one green, and one herbal. My hopes were a little dashed as upon Googling the black teas, I discovered they’re both Keemun. Blech! My nickname for Keemun is “dirty diaper tea.”

I went ahead and brewed them up anyway. First up, Black Orchid! The dry leaf aroma is just weird. I can’t really tell what’s going on here. It’s not bad necessarily, just unidentifiable to me. The tea bags are hand-tied pouches. Honestly, they didn’t seem particularly stable. Think taking a square piece of mesh fabric, putting some tea leaves in the center, and then pulling all the edges together and tying it off by wrapping a piece of string around it. O_O

But upon steeping, they held together well. Ooh boy, that Keemun is making itself known! I’m getting a lot of dirty diaper scent in the brewed tea aroma. (Sorry to all of you who actually enjoy Keemun.) I’m actually a little afraid to take this first sip…but the more I sniff it, the more recognizable it’s becoming. In fact, I think this smells a little like strawberry Twizzlers! Or Red Vines.

Okay enough stalling…first sip…hmm…second sip…this is surprisingly not bad! It does kind of taste like Red Vines too. Interesting. Hmm, I rather like this! The vanilla is coming through strongly, followed by a glimmer of orange, and then finally what must be a ylang ylang flower. I can’t say I’ve ever tried that before, but it’s rather tasty and leaves a wonderful aftertaste: a natural, soft sweetness with no bitterness or astringency.

Yay! This tea is a winner! Oh, I’m so relieved! I’m even enjoying the cup sans additions, which is rare for me. What a treat! I can now say that I recommend Ikaati to the Steepster community! Well, this tea at least. ;) It’s very unique.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Sil

that’s really neat… the wesbite has a picture of the little bundles as you describe them: http://www.ikaati.com/our-story/origins/ heh looks like they’re more about partnering with spas and hotels than selling direct to ppl too bad!

CHAroma

Yeah, I guess I got lucky finding them. It was a complete accident. They should make it easier to find retailers who stock their tea though. I have no idea how to find them again! (‘Cause there’s no way I’m going back to that overpriced spa). :P

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81
drank La Belle Epoque by Lupicia
543 tasting notes

I think this is the freshest of my randomly found Lupicia samples. This is surprisingly good! It’s a nice balance of smooth and brisk. The Darjeeling comes through strong, but the other teas in the blend are equally present. I usually hate drinking black tea straight, but I drank the whole cup this way! Yum! This is a solid choice if you like Darjeelings. I’m thoroughly enjoying this. :)

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Wedding by Lupicia
543 tasting notes

Another randomly found Lupicia sample. I actually bought this one with Kotobuki as a trial wedding favor. They both came in one white, mesh, organza bag with a drawstring closure. Each sample was packaged in its own plastic slip colored cream and gold. Overall, I like the favors. But at $2.50 each, I decided it wasn’t worth it. My mom ended up making cookies for our favors. :)

Anyway, I digress again. This tea is DELICIOUS! The dry leaf aroma is fruity, floral, and yummy! The brewed tea aroma is simply mouthwatering. And the taste? DE-LISH! It has a natural sweetness and can be drunk straight, which is the way I enjoyed it. I highly recommend this one, and I don’t even like Keemun! This tea is great!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec
canadianadia

Homemade cookies sound like a great favor – you really can’t beat the personal touch of something homemade

CHAroma

She made two cookies for each favor bag: my husband’s favorite cookie (Snickerdoodle) and my favorite cookie (Candy Cane Cookie in the shape of a heart instead of a cane so it would be more spring wedding appropriate). :)

canadianadia

What a nice mom, and such a well thought out favor – I’m sure your guests loved it

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59
drank Budou Green by Lupicia
543 tasting notes

Another randomly found Lupicia sample. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a sipdown since it’s only this one tea bag. I guess since I have so many one sample tea bags floating around, I won’t count them as sipdowns. Anywho, on to the tea!

The dry leaf aroma is grape and green tea. The brewed tea aroma is the same and yet different. It smells sweeter now. Mmm, the flavor here is lovely! It’s a nice mixture of grassy green tea with grape candy. The end of the sip is slightly bitter, but that’s counteracted nicely by the grape flavor which lingers long after the sip.

I’m content with this one. It’s definitely more enjoyable to me than Lupicia’s Happiness tea I just tried. Still, it’s probably not something I would re-stock. But I do feel confident in recommending it to others!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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49
drank Happiness by Lupicia
543 tasting notes

This is a sample I received forever ago in a Lupicia Monthly Newsletter. I actually forgot I had it as it wasn’t even recorded in my virtual cupboard here on Steepster. I literally stumbled across 5 Lupicia tea samples in my quest to organize my non-virtual tea cupboard. Score! This is the first one I wanted to try as I’ve had it a couple other times, but I’ve never really formed an opinion about it.

For those of you new to Lupicia tea bags, it’s important to note that the instructions say to brew them in only 5 oz. of water. I’ve made the mistake many times of brewing them in 8 oz., and they taste like barely flavored water. No mistakes this time! ;)

The dry leaf aroma is very fruity. It does strike me as happy fruit, if there can be such a thing. The brewed tea aroma is purely green tea with just the smallest hint of fruit. The taste is the same as the aroma here: green tea with a hint of fruit. The fruit is largely unidentifiable to my palate. I looked up the ingredients to see what it is supposed to be: peach and grapefruit. I suppose it does taste faintly of those, but it’s not obvious. I’m not getting any recognizable green rooibos flavor either.

I’m sad to report that this tea does not evoke any happiness in me. Rather, I find that it’s a lackluster tea and largely forgettable. I suppose that’s why I’ve had it three times and can never remember what it tastes like or whether I like it. The longer I sip it, the more generic it tastes. It also has a very drying effect on my mouth. I feel positively parched! Lowering the rating from 60 to 49.

This is not a winner in my book, but I’m glad I can finally put my mind to rest about this one. Farewell, Happiness tea! May you be loved and appreciated by others!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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96

SIPDOWN!

Thanks to LiberTEAS for generously sharing this one with me. It’s been in my cupboard for a loooooooong time. I held on to it because I couldn’t bear parting with it. But what’s the use of tea if you don’t drink it? I’m super sad to see this one go finally. :( See my other note.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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82

SIPDOWN!

Thanks to the lovely LiberTEAS for providing this one. It’s a solid Darjeeling. I’ve really enjoyed it! :) See my other note.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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92
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
543 tasting notes

This tea has 315 tasting notes! Wow. That’s hard to compete with. Well, here’s #316!

I have a sample of this thanks to Verdant Tea’s awesome 5 teas for $5 promotion. Woot! What a deal! I’ve only tried Verdant before through swaps, so I’m excited to try fresh tea directly from the distributor. Each packet has enough for two brewing experiences. So, I’m going to make one Western style and one Gongfu style. ;) First up, the Western style brews!

The dry leaves smell pretty good. Hard to describe, but good. I’ve never had Laoshan anything before, so I can’t wait to try this one! I hope it’s as good as Yunnan teas. I’m in love with Yunnan teas. WHOA! The brewed tea aroma smells exactly like salted sunflower seeds!!! That’s crazy!

The first sip is AMAZING! No wonder people are raving about this tea. The initial sip definitely echoed the salty sunflower seeds from the aroma. But that was quickly followed by chocolate notes, and then something sugary, creamy sweet definitely akin to caramel. Yum! What is this magical substance? The very end of the sip leans towards bitterness but doesn’t quite reach it.

I’m interested to see how subsequent steeps turn out. Second infusion was for 3 minutes. This time the aroma is less sunflower seed and more dark Formosan oolong. There’s less bitterness now and more caramel sweetness. This is the first time I’m getting honey notes too. Mmm, how yummy! I’m really enjoying this cup. It’s very different from the first infusion. The end of this cup was just slightly astringent.

On further reflection, that sunflower seed flavor I’m getting could be interpreted as a roasted grain flavor by others. It’s hard to know for sure. On to the third infusion for 4.5 minutes! There’s much less aroma to this cup. Flavors are still going strong in the taste though. There are even less chocolate notes now, replaced fully by caramel and honey. There’s a little more grain flavor and a super silky smooth mouthfeel. This just gets better and better!

My husband just came home, so I gave him the cup to try. He sipped it and said, “Oooooh!” Then sipped it again. :) I don’t really have any idea how to rate this. It’s definitely very special, but it’s not quite as consistently enjoyable to my palate as Yunnans or Tieguanyins from one infusion to the next. The first steep was probably my least favorite. I’m really enjoying this third one though. So, I guess I’ll give this a 92. Thanks to Verdant Tea for offering this great promotion! First tea was a complete success!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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83
drank White Orchard by Mighty Leaf Tea
543 tasting notes

Backlog…I had this tea on my mini-moon last week.

My new husband and I were walking around Newport, RI on a very windy, rainy day. We stopped in a Starbucks and the line was long and unmoving. So back out into the rain we trudged. A couple blocks down was an independently owned coffee shop. We walked in and BAM! I spotted some Mighty Leaf teas!

I decided on this one because I didn’t really feel like a green or black tea. White tea really is one of my favorites. After trying 52teas’ Stone Fruit White Tea this morning, I think I probably prefer that one. But this Mighty Leaf tea wasn’t bad!

I recall that I oversteeped it, and it turned pretty bitter. But the earlier sips before the oversteeping incident were really good! I definitely got lots of melon and peach flavors, balanced nicely with what I think was a Bai Mu Dan base. I’d recommend this tea to any white tea lovers. It’s quite enjoyable. :)

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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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