514 Tasting Notes

80
drank Cashew Turtle by 52teas
514 tasting notes

52teas 12 Days of Christmas Sampler 2011 – Day 2

Okay, so I’m really behind on these reviews. I should be on tea 5 right now, but life has been a little hectic.

The boyfriend went missing yesterday. He said he was going Christmas shopping, but he didn’t answer his phone all day and was late to dinner with my Dad. He said he lost track of time, but I could also tell he had been drinking. The boy can’t lie to me. He’s completely transparent.

He came clean later and admitted that he had gone to a bar at some point during the 11-hour shopping excursion. But he also came home with no bags or boxes and acted extremely weird during dinner. He hardly ate anything and couldn’t articulate sentences.

I have no idea what’s going on with him. I have a vague suspicion that a diamond might be in my future, since he disappeared upstairs with my dad before dinner. That might explain his weird behavior. I’m not sure though, and I don’t want to get my hopes up if it turns out to be nothing. But something definitely happened yesterday.

Anyway, on to the reason you’re reading this. Get to the tea review already!!

I can tell this sampler pack is going to be dangerous to my pocketbook. I want to buy pouches of everything I’ve tried already! Wow! I just can’t stop saying WOW! The dry leaf smells incredible! I’ve never had a cashew turtle before, but I think I’d love it! I really had to resist the urge to pick out all the chocolate pieces and pop ‘em in my mouth!

Two and a half minutes later, the brewed aroma isn’t quite as fragrant as the dry leaf. But I can still detect the chocolate and caramel notes. Tasting it…wow! There I go again. It’s just wow!

I can taste chocolate and caramel and even a light nuttiness. The black tea base blends well and adds just a touch of bitterness. It’s not overwhelming, and it went away with the addition of a little almond milk. Really yummy.

I apologize for being behind on these Christmas sampler reviews. I’ll try to catch up today. I’m currently surrounded by a large mound of clothing that needs to be washed. I did about six loads of laundry yesterday, but there’s still a lot left over. So, it’s a perfect day to relax, drink tea, and blog on Steepster!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec
The Purrfect Cup

No worries, I like reading the back story to why people are drinking a particular tea or heck what’s going on in general. Hope the weirdness is what you think it is. Sounds like it could be.

I liked this one, but I need to hold off and maybe order a bunch that I like from this sampler (if there are any left). :)

Camiah

Oooh! Fingers crossed for you! I agree with The Purrfect Cup. Back story is always interesting and appreciated. People are fascinating.

CHAroma

Most of you already know this from following my other tasting notes, but I was totally right! The boyfriend proposed about a week later! :D

On to this tea, 5 pouches of it recently popped up on the 52teas In Stock page!!

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96
drank Buttered Popcorn by 52teas
514 tasting notes

52teas 12 Days of Christmas Sampler 2011 – Day 1

OMG!!!! This tastes EXACTLY like buttered popcorn!!!! Or, maybe like buttered tea…but still! I’m SO impressed!! This is fantastic! I must buy a pouch IMMEDIATELY before it sells out!!! AHHHH!!!

I don’t know what happened to the sample of this I tried several weeks ago. It didn’t taste ANYTHING like this. This time around as soon as I opened the package, I was assailed by a strong buttery scent! That aroma translates perfectly into the brewed tea. Complete and total YUM!

Honestly, I don’t see how this could be any better. It’s a perfect creation! A Christmas miracle! WHOOOOH!!!!! Now if you’ll excuse me…I have to go apologize to my office mates for screaming in delight like a little child on Christmas morning. ;)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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25

Words cannot begin to describe how terrified I am. I’ve been filled with dread ever since I started researching pu’er/puer/pu-erh. What do they do to this tea?? In case you couldn’t guess, this is my first pu-erh experience. Okay, enough’s enough (as my boyfriend always says). Let’s move on to the tea review.

Man, when they said these are mini tuocha, they meant mini. These are itty, bitty, tiny, bite-sized cakes. I wasn’t expecting that. They’re actually pretty cute. I spent all day reading about pu-erh and how to break it apart. I don’t have a tea needle or an envelope opener, so I was contemplating using a metal chopstick. But as it turns out, all that knowledge is useless with these little things. At least it fits in my tea strainer! Problem one solved.

The dry leaves have a very faint, slightly fishy aroma. Of course, part of me only thinks it smells fishy because I’ve read reviews using that word. Now it’s stuck in my head, and I can’t think of another way to describe this. I really like KS’ review where he said, “The aroma is pure ripe puerh (you know that “Eeww, do I really want to drink this?” smell. To which you happily reply, “Well, yeah.”).”

That’s pretty much exactly what I thought when I smelled the brewed tea, except minus the enthusiasm. I’m still not sure how this is going to turn out. I only did a one minute steep because I was so afraid. Did I rinse it enough? Because I mean, I only poured boiling water over it for like two seconds. Oh, the dread!!! The anxiety!!

It smells…kinda’ gross…like mud-covered gym socks or like a musty, dust-covered wood cabin in the middle of the Adirondack mountains. I wish I could place the aroma because it actually smells somewhat familiar. It’s tickling my memory anyway, but I’m not coming up with anything. I definitely get the idea that this is cooked pu-erh as the word “cooked” readily comes to mind. Hmmm, dare I sip it? Oh come on! Why am I so afraid of this? Red rooibos put the fear of the unknown into me, let me tell you. Who’s afraid of tea? I mean really?

Okay, man up! First sip…I’m not sure what to make of this…It’s not 100% off-putting. Only slightly off-putting. It definitely still has that weird, hard-to-describe taste that’s in the aroma. Woodsy, I guess. It’s not bad, just really weird. I’m getting a little bit of leather, but not nice leather. It’s not like walking into a leather outlet or a horse stable. It’s more like riding in the rain and mud and then having to clean the saddle. Or leather cleaner maybe. It’s not entirely pleasant.

This is definitely what I would describe as an acquired taste. I wouldn’t expect the average tea drinker to enjoy this, especially one like me who has a passion for green, white, and oolong teas. But the flavor isn’t overtly in-your-face. I’m not getting any bitterness (or rose, but I wasn’t expecting to since this is my first pu-erh). It’s actually quite smooth. But I think four sips are enough for this first infusion. I can’t bring myself to finish the cup. Let’s see what happens with a second infusion! This one for two minutes.

Phew! This second cup is even more fragrant than the last one. I suppose if I had liked the first cup, this second cup would be better. But unfortunately, that quality I didn’t really like only got stronger. I gave the cup to my cat to sniff. He sniffed it for a good 10 seconds. He kind of perked up near the end, and I thought he might actually want to try it. Then he thought better of it. I made myself sip it, and it was actually sweeter than I expected. But I don’t think I can drink this tea. It’s just not my style.

To finish off the pu-erh night, I gave it to my boyfriend to try. He often likes things I don’t. He took a tentative sip, wrinkled his brow, and took another sip. Then he said, “It’s dry and it tastes like leaves.” “It’s called pu-erh,” I said. He replied, “More like just poo.” The boyfriend concurs; this is not for us.

But I’m sure my first pu-erh experience could have been a lot worse than this. I’m still convinced that this is high quality tea. If anyone would like to take the remaining three mini tuochas off my hands, send me a message!

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec
K S

Oh my goodness, that was hillarious. I am pretty new to puerh but really like it. I seriously think puerh people are wire different or maybe aren’t wired right. thanks for starting my day with a laugh.

Camiah

Loved this! I also recently got a bag of straight up pu-erh and took one whiff of the dry leaves and wondered what I was smoking when I decided to get two ounces. I’m hoping it tastes less fishy than it smells.

TeaBrat

lmao – I like pu-erh myself but not sure I would like it mixed with flowers…

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76

This is actually a lot better than I expected it to be! After all, it is an unbranded, stringless tea bag amidst an assortment of candies and crackers from a gift basket.

The black tea base is recognizable as Ceylon and confirmed on the box. It’s only a tiny bit bitter, but not uncomfortably so. It’s the hint of bitterness I almost always get when I drink black tea.

I added a little bit of sweetener, and it really brought out the cranberry and apple flavors. I’m thoroughly enjoying this afternoon cup at work, while trying to plow through some of the duller assignments. I can’t wait for Christmas vacation!!!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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75
drank Pumpkin Cheesecake by 52teas
514 tasting notes

This is spicy and nutmeg-y and full of flavor! The clove is very strong and makes me think of my older brother for some weird reason…I think he’s the one who always begged my mom to make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, whereas I never particularly liked it.

Anyway, I agree with others that it’s not very cheesecake-y. But I don’t tend to get cheesecake flavor out of 52teas cheesecake blends. I’m not sure what about it makes me miss that flavoring, but I’m missing it here too.

However, I do find this tea delicious! The blend of spices is very similar to what would be in a pumpkin pie. Now I’d really like to try 52teas’ Pumpkin Pie Tea because I feel like I’m drinking it now! Yum!

This is definitely a tea that needs milk. And again with this tea, I find the aftertaste the highlight of the experience. But the more I drink it, the more I like it. It’s actually really great cold too. I’m impressed! Thank you to Ninavampi for sharing this tea with me!! Go Ecuador!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Ninavampi

I am still sooo happy it got to you ok! And now I am even happier because you liked it and also because I share the necessity of needing to try 52teas pumpkin pie blend! : )

CHAroma

Maybe it’ll be in 52teas’ 12 Teas of Christmas sampler!

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75
drank Chestnut by Adagio Teas
514 tasting notes

Oh, wow! This smells amazing as it steeps! I received it as a free sample with my last Adagio purchase. It got mixed reviews here, so I had pretty low expectations. But this is great! It smells like chestnuts and cocoa and immediately made me think of Christmas!

Of course, then my officemates started saying, “Something’s burning! It smells like an electrical burn.” I told them I had just made tea, and they claimed it wasn’t coming from that. Then after I insisted they smell it, they started to think maybe it was the tea. Hahaha!

Well, no matter. I think this tea smells great! And not like electrical burning. The taste is very yum! It’s 100% authentic chestnut to me with a really lovely aftertaste. It’s naturally sweet and almost creamy without any additions. I’m also getting a hint of caramel. This is awesome! I highly recommend!

As I keep sipping it, I’m trying to figure out what others didn’t like. I might have pinpointed it. When I raise the cup to take a sip, I am kind of assailed by something off-putting. And I think the lovely chestnut flavor is most enjoyable in the aftertaste. This doesn’t bother me so much, but maybe it does others.

Still, I think this one is worth a shot. Plus, it was free for me, so I’m sure that’s also a contributing factor to my liking it. Who doesn’t love free tea? :)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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94
drank English Teatime by Bigelow
514 tasting notes

I found this slightly battered tea bag at the bottom of my tea stash. I’m not really sure where it came from or how long I’ve had it. But it’s tea, so why not brew it?

As I poured the hot water over the bag, the tea bag filled up with an inordinant amount of air. Despite my best efforts, I could not completely submerge the bag. Weird.

The brewed tea doesn’t have much of an aroma. Perhaps it’s because it’s so old. The liquor is a deep, dark, opaque brown. I accidently added some sweetener before I tried it out of habit. So, I can’t comment on what this tastes like sans additions.

But I was actually pleasantly surprised by this tea! It’s very smooth and still quite flavorful. There’s not even a hint of bitterness or astringency. I think I added a tiny bit too much sweetener because it’s a bit tart. And I can’t imagine that’s from the tea leaves themselves.

I also almost always add milk to black tea. I usually find it either tannic or bitter. But this is great even without milk! That’s pretty impressive to me.

This is really quite good. My Twining’s English Breakfast may have a contender. Now I have to go pick up a box of this!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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79
drank Thai Chai by Adagio Teas
514 tasting notes

Ugh!! I can’t believe it! I wrote my Thai Chai tasting note and then accidently deleted it! AHHHHH!!!! You can never write the same thing again. It’s never exactly as it was. What a pain! Blurg! This sucks…now how to try and recoup my loss.

I made this tea two ways: a traditional Chai tea latte and a normal cup of tea. I’ve had limited Chai experiences, so there’s not a whole lot of things to compare it to. But this one still ranks pretty highly. It’s not my favorite. Adagio’s Spiced Apple Chai still claims that title.

It’s good though! Just not quite as spicy as I like. The lemongrass and coconut create a much sweeter, softer Chai. It’s a completely different experience. If you love Chai, I definitely recommend you try this one out.

The normally brewed tea tasted remarkably similar to the latte. I couldn’t distinguish much difference. That’s good and bad, in my opinion. Good because you don’t have to expend a lot of effort to make a great cup of tea. Bad because I did expend a lot of effort to make two different cups of tea and that effort was kind of wasted.

But overall, I enjoyed this. You know what? I didn’t like my first review anyway. This one’s better, right? Oh, how would you know. Whatever. Drink more tea!!!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Ninavampi

Argh…. I accidentally erased a review once… It is an awful feeling. At least you have good tea to make up for it! : )

CHAroma

Yeah, it’s always a pain. And I wrote it in a Word document first too. That’s what makes it so much more annoying. Oh well! Live and learn!

E Alexander Gerster

Who ever is blending Chai for Adagio really knows what they are doing to please the American palette. Each one I try is a really pleasurable experience, and their Chocolate Chai is a big hit around here… I love lemongrass and coconut so I might have to give this one a try! :)

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93

Many thanks to the very generous Mercuryhime who was so kind as to give me not only a sample of this tea, but an entire box full of tea samples! I can’t wait to try them all! This being the first of many, I picked a favorite and what’s sure to be a winner.

I wasn’t sure that a Bai Mu Dan existed that was much different than what I’ve tried in the past. I should have known that Andrews & Dunham would manage it.

This is delicious! It has that lovely hay and sunshine flavor of White Peony that I love, plus something extra. I’m not sure how to describe it. My first instinct says this is a greener version of Bai Mu Dan. But I think that might be understood differently than I intend it.

It’s honey-sweet with a bit of unexpected tart. Subsequent steeps yield floral, toasted pumpkin seed-esque, flavorful cups. It really is lovely. I’ve enjoyed this sample very much. Here’s how I brewed it:

170 degrees for 2.5 minutes
175 degrees for 4 minutes
175 degrees for 7 minutes
175 degrees for 14 minutes

No astringency. No bitterness. Just awesome. It’s too bad there’s not more of it. I could probably drink this every day. Thanks again to Mercuryhime for making this great experience possible!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Mercuryhime

I’m only glad to be a source of your tea enjoyment. :)

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84

I’m playing Skyrim today, which means I’ve forgotten to eat or drink anything. I had a light lunch, so now it’s time for some tea!

I’m very excited to try this one! I was digging through my tea stash trying to figure out what I wanted. As I reached for the Teavivre boxes, I could have sworn that I had another plain green tea and here it is! The aroma of the dry leaves is heavenly. I know I’m going to love this one. Just sniffing the leaves is the confirmation that green tea was what I was craving.

The leaves are very interesting. Green curly little things with white tips. As others have mentioned, this tea reminds me of silver needle as well. There’s just a hint of dry hay and sunshine in the aroma that lingers like white tea.

I followed the steeping instructions on the package. The aroma of the brewed tea is…strange. It’s a subtle aroma, but it reminds me of something. Squash maybe? Or perhaps zucchini. Not what I was expecting from the dry leaf smell. EDIT: After 6 months more experience tasting teas, it turns out that subtle aroma is smoke! I usually detest smokey teas, but this one is subtle enough that it doesn’t bother me.

Mmmm, the taste is really good! It does taste remarkably similar to a white tea. In fact, I’m hard pressed to find much of a difference. I’m not detecting any green grassiness. That strange quality in the aroma (i.e. the smoke) has made its way into the taste. But it’s not off-putting, just unexpected. This is a complex cup of tea with layered, subtle flavors.

Long after the sip, there’s a hint of green tea grassiness. But not much, only a hint to remind me that this is a green tea and not a white. How interesting! This tea is just full of surprises. I highly recommend.

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

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Profile

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).

Location

Maryland, USA

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