543 Tasting Notes

79

Okay, I admit my taste buds might already be compromised. The fiancé decided to cook steak and habanero peppers in his cast iron skillet. Basically, he poisoned the air. I had to retreat into the bedroom because the air was so peppery I couldn’t stop coughing and sneezing. My nose is now running like crazy, so I’m not sure how reliable this tasting note will be.

The dry leaves smelled like tea. Yeah, I know, not very descriptive. But really, there wasn’t much to it. No overtly recognizable scents. The brewed tea aroma is a similar experience. It smells like Teavivre’s other black teas.

Now let’s see if I have any better luck describing the taste. It’s much stronger than I anticipated. It tastes like it could be a great base for blending. No bitterness or tannins detected. I feel like it’s a little peppery, but then again that could just be from the air. Toasty might be a better description.

It came in pre-measured, individual, little, red packets. So, maybe it tastes strong to me because the leaf is more proportional. When I measure the tea leaves out myself, I almost always err on the side of too little. Still, I think the Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea was more to my liking. It just had more flavor.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t flavorless. It just tastes kind of standard to me, like something I would drink as my morning cup of tea. Oddly enough though, the Teavivre site says it has minimal caffeine (less than 15% of a cup of coffee). I guess that’s a good thing since I’m drinking it at 8pm on a weekday.

But I usually choose black tea for its taste as well as caffeine content. So, if this doesn’t have much caffeine in it and the taste is lacking, there’s not a whole lot of point for me to drink it. It is a good cuppa, just not my favorite. Despite its high quality, the taste just isn’t enough to my liking for me to reach for it often. So, if you like Bailin Gongfu, you’ll like this one too!

Now it’s time to peek out tentatively like Groundhog Phil and see if it’s safe to come out yet.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Cheryl

Haven’t cared for this one either, but going to try a 3rd time to make sure… the pressure of not liking the #1 Steepster tea, huh? : )

CHAroma

Wow, I didn’t even realize it was the #1 Steepster tea! Now I feel more gratitude that I had a chance to try it. I mean, it’s good high quality tea. But the BEST tea? It’s too generic and plain for me to label it the best tea.

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60
drank Tochiotome Green by Lupicia
543 tasting notes

YAY!!!!! I’ve been waiting for this tea to return for an entire year!!! It’s seasonal, and I missed it last year. I’ve been keeping an eye on the website ever since, not knowing when exactly it might pop up again. Then I read a recent review of this tea by Amy oh who mentioned it came in the monthly newsletter.

So, I knew I’d be getting my newsletter shortly and the long wait for Tochiotome would soon be over! I ripped open the package and was assailed by the dry leaf aroma, which is succulent fresh strawberries! The brewed tea is the same mouthwatering strawberry with the added aroma of verdant sencha.

Sadly, the flavor is little bit of a letdown. It’s very grassy with a touch of bitterness. The strawberry flavor wanes on the end of the sip, and the bitterness takes front stage in the aftertaste.

I guess I built this tea up in my head for a year, so I was expecting heaven. The beginning of the sip may be close to heaven, but the tail end ruins the illusion. It’s too bad Lupicia doesn’t use a nicer base. I was expecting something more like 52 teas’ Strawberry Pancake Green Tea minus the maple flavoring. I suppose if I liked sencha more, the grassiness wouldn’t bother me.

Well, if nothing else, this tea gave me the idea for an interesting quest for when I go to Japan. I’d love to try one of these tochiotome strawberries for myself (sans tea)!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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5
drank Cozy Chamomile by Bigelow
543 tasting notes

This will be my first experience with chamomile tea. I’ve never been very big on herbal teas. There’s no real tea in it! But here we go anyway.

At first blush, I thought the aroma was awful, like strong damp weeds. But I had my nose less than an inch from the cup, so maybe I was just smelling it too closely. I stood up and stared off into space while I waited for it to steep. I was breathing deeply and inhaling the tea without meaning to. Oddly enough, now it smelled good! I bent down and wafted the aroma towards me. But again, when I stuck my nose near the cup…phew! Stinky! So, who knows what that means.

The taste is similar to the aroma but stronger. When it’s actually on my tongue, it tastes great! Kind of like how the aroma is great when I’m standing over the steaming mug. But then I swallow and the aftertaste gets me. Blech! Strong, too strong. Icky. I can’t help but shake my head.

No no no. I don’t think I like chamomile. Or at least, this bagged version of it isn’t going to fly. It has potential, those little moments when I thought I liked it. But then it got squashed by yuck.

It’s really too bad. I’m so stressed out I can hardly function. I haven’t slept in 3 days. So, I thought the most recommended stress relieving bedtime tea would do the trick. Sadly, I think I’m going to have to rely on something else. I thought I could finish the cup, but I’m afraid this dirty floral tea is going down the drain.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec
TeaBrat

that’s too bad you don’t like chamomile. I find tulsi is helpful for stress. Valerian will help you sleep but it is REALLY smelly…

Ninavampi

Hugs!! Positive thoughts and wishing the best possible out come with the most hugs possible!

Ninavampi

Oops… Wrong post… But still send you hugs and possitvie thoughts!

DaisyChubb

Oh man, try a real chamomile sometime because this bagged version is nothing like the real thing

CHAroma

@DaisyChubb, ok I will! Thanks for the comment!
@Ninavampi, You are so adorable!!! Thanks for the accidental hugs! :)

CHAroma

@Amy oh, I tried the valerian and it didn’t make any difference. :( But thanks for the tip, and the warning. Valerian IS incredibly smelly! Hahaha!

TeaBrat

that’s too bad! I hope you find some relief soon…

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87

Uh oh…I think I already messed up the preparation of this tea. I’m not sure I used enough leaf. The liquor is almost clear! Clear!!

The aroma of the dry leaves was great: soft, clean, not overly grassy. The dry leaves themselves were a long, thin, crispy, mixture of green and yellow leaves and stems. The brewed tea aroma is very very soft, a little too soft. Again, probably because I didn’t measure the leaf correctly. I hate when I mess up brewing a new tea. It makes me not even want to write a note about it.

But here we go anyway. I apologize for my incompetence in advance. I’ll add a little more leaf to the second steeping and let you know how that turns out. This first cup is surprisingly good, even though it’s a little watery. I can tell that this is fantastic tea if brewed correctly.

Okay, second cup! I steeped this one for 2 minutes 45 seconds at 176 degrees. The liquor is still basically clear, but the flavor is stronger now. For some reason, this tea reminds me of the way cotton candy melts in your mouth. It’s sweet, but not too much so. This must be what people call umami. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced a texture like this in a drink. Simply exquisite.

This is my favorite green tea from Teavivre so far, although the Silver Jasmine Green Tea (Mo Li Yin Hao) is a pretty close second.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec
sherapop

It looks as though underleafing is a common mistake for first-time drinkers of this tea, myself included!

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83

I’m so excited to try this tea!! I suggested a flavor combination to Frank recently (maple pecan granola), and this is pretty close to that! Plus, I love maple and brown sugar oatmeal. It’s my favorite kind of oatmeal, and almost the only kind I eat.

I do have to say though, I’m not sure the picture on the package is adequate for this blend. It looks kind of…unappetizing. But this is uncharacteristic for 52teas. Usually Frank’s pictures are mouthwatering and make me go over my allotted tea budget. But clearly, the picture made little difference in my decision to buy it.

Anyway, the dry leaves smell really good! It’s hard to describe why, but I’ll try. It smells very similar to the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie blend, but minus the raisin. So, what’s left? This wonderful oatmeal, black tea, sugary sweet fragrance.

The funny thing is the brewed tea has a completely different aroma! It still smells amazing, but so different. I think the black tea itself is more pronounced now and masks that overwhelming sweetness. I can still make out faint traces of oat, but it’s softer now. As for the maple? I didn’t forget. I just can’t find much of it in the aroma. Hopefully, it will be there in the taste.

Mmmmm, the taste is wonderful! There’s none of that tannic bitterness common to black teas sans additions. I’m not sure how much it matches the description, but it tastes wonderful regardless! It’s not nearly as sweet as the aroma makes it out to be.

I added a tiny bit of unsweetened almond milk and a little brown sugar too. It’s still very good. I think I like it about the same with or without additions. Unfortunately, I’m still missing that maple syrup aspect. I wish that were significantly stronger. But like I said, it’s a delicious tea nonetheless! So, if you happen to not like maple and brown sugar oatmeal, give this blend a try anyway! You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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77

These leaves are beautiful! Long, narrow, perfectly straight, vibrantly green leaves. They’re quite large actually and thus hard to correctly measure. But I think I did all right. The aroma is lovely, fresh green tea.

The taste is even lovelier than the aroma. Light, fresh, vegetal, and sweet. Light is the perfect description. It’s not heavy like Dragonwell.

There’s also virtually no aftertaste (as in the taste doesn’t linger). I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad yet. But it is definitely a noticeable characteristic of this tea. The aroma is grassy, but luckily for me that grassiness doesn’t make it into the flavor much.

Overall, this is a wonderful green tea. The second steep for two minutes was just as flavorful as the first, and I’m sure it could keep going for several more infusions, if I was so inclined. This tea is quite affordable for such high quality. It’s deserving of my stamp of approval! I highly recommend!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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66

I’m looking forward to trying the huge stock of green teas I have from Teavivre. They’ve sent me tons of samples, and I haven’t gotten around to trying all of them yet. But I’m on a green tea kick, so bring it on!

This is my second experience with gunpowder green tea. Although the first time I tried some, it was a mint, bagged concoction. So, that’s probably not the most representative of this type of tea. I’m confident that Teavivre will give me the best possible experience with gunpowder.

The dry leaves smell exactly like the alfalfa hay I used to feed my pet bunny, Jasper. He was the cutest white bunny in the whole world with a few light grey spots on his back, grey ears, and grey spots around his eyes that made it look like he was wearing eyeliner. Sooo cute!! I had to get rid of him when I moved across the country from LA to D.C. But he was a birthday present for an adorable little girl, so at least I know he went somewhere he’ll be loved and cared for.

But I digress. Ah, I never get over how certain smells bring a rush of memories. Anyway, the liquor is a pale yellowish green. The brewed tea aroma is less hay now and more…hmmm, interesting. It has a little kick of something that’s tugging at my memory, but I just can’t quite place it. Maybe it’s just a green tea smell. Man, how long has it been since I drank a high quality green tea?

Okay okay, on to the taste. Wait! Puer!!! That’s what the aroma reminds me of!!! Wow…really? Puer? Yep! I admit it’s strange. But my nose isn’t lying to me. Finally, the first sip…okay it tastes nothing like puer. Thank God! :)

The taste is back to the dry leaf aroma: fresh, green, alfalfa hay. It does have some kick to it, similar to the puer aroma. It almost reminds me of red hots. Not because it’s spicy. But because of that initial burning when the red hot first hits your tongue. But this sensation is a fleeting one and quickly dissipates.

I wish I could describe the aftertaste. It’s not like anything else. It’s also somewhat palate cleansing. This is a very interesting and unique green tea experience. It’s not like your standard green tea. Really, the thing it reminds me most of is puer. Except it’s muuuuuch more stomachable than puer.

The second steep for two minutes at just below boiling yielded a much darker brew, almost murky (excuse the lack of a better descriptive word). The leaves fully unfurled during this second steep. The taste is basically the same as the first cup, maybe a bit more flavorful.

I wonder if anyone has ever made a flavored gunpowder green tea. I think it could be really good if you found the right ingredients to add to it. It would make a very unique base. Despite its distinctive flavor, it’s not quite to my liking. But I highly recommend that people try this one of a kind tea!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Ninavampi

I used to have a pet bunny as well. His name was Jedi Ninja and my best friend and I loved him. He was great! Sadly we also moved and he had to be rehomed….

TeaBrat

Gunpowder is supposed to be smoky I think. Did you get any smoke in this one?

ps – pu-erh rules!!!!! :-P

CHAroma

@Ninavampi, awwww Jedi Ninja! What a cute name! I feel your pain with having to find him a new home. It’s never easy.

@Amy oh, perhaps there is a slight smoke to this one. That could be the element I don’t particularly like. I really don’t care for smoky teas, but I can drink this one just fine. It’s not a very drastic smoke.

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88
drank Strawberry Orange Scone by 52teas
543 tasting notes

So much for not buying more tea. Didn’t I just explain how much tea I have? How do you do it to me, Frank?! I just can’t say no!!

I’m sooo excited to try this blend! I don’t know what happened, but one day it magically reappeared on 52teas’ in stock page. It had sold out in less than 24 hours! I was sure I’d never get to try it. But then 2 pouches showed up, and I snagged the last one!! Yipee!

I’ve been exhausted all day, so I can justify drinking black tea at 7pm tonight. I’ve already had a total of four shots of espresso and one grande coffee. What’s a little more caffeine?

The dry tea smells heavenly! The perfect mix of strawberry and orange. The brewed tea has a very similar aroma but more citrus-y. Others described this tea as largely orange, but I’m hoping the strawberry will be equally present. First sip without additions…mmm, it is a good mix of strawberry and orange. But I prefer black teas with milk and sugar.

Second sip with additions…wow! This is really delicious! It’s not very scone-y. And it’s a fairly light black tea as black teas go, but that’s a pro in my book. This is full of flavor and reminds me of liquid Starburst, if such a thing existed. Yum yum!! I’ve discovered a new favorite!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

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75
drank Strawberry Zabaglione by 52teas
543 tasting notes

This is my first from 52teas’ permanent collection, and I can’t wait to try it! Although it looks like Cinnamon Roll Honeybush and Pancake Breakfast finally made it into the permanent collection! WOOT WOOT!!!!! HIP HIP HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!! GO 52TEAS!!!!!!!! YAAAAAAAAYYYY!!!!!!!

Ahem. Excuse me. I’m just really excited about Pancake Breakfast being around indefinitely. But on to this tea…

The dry leaves smell strongly of strawberry. Like insanely strong strawberry! The brewed tea has the same aroma. Okay, I think it’s cool enough to try now. ((Takes a huge swig & splutters.)) Ugh! This is the bitterest black tea I’ve ever had! Blech!

I rushed off to the kitchen and added milk and sugar. Thank goodness, that took away the overwhelming tannic bitterness. Hmm, now it’s just a cup of really sweet, really strawberry tea. I think I need to use less leaf next time. This is quite strong, and I’m afraid not in a good way.

Overall, it’s definitely a strawberry tea. There’s no mistaking it for something else. If you’re in the mood for strawberry, this is the way to go. But I think I like the green tea version better (and by that I mean Strawberry Pancake Green Tea).

I’ll try this again later and let you know what happens then. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad. I just didn’t do a very good job of preparing this first cup, and now I’m a little scarred.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
GiggleGoddess

What temp water did you use? I see other reviews stating a slightly lower temp and a quick steep time. I, myself, from a reccommendation from Starfevre used water between 175 and 180 and steeped for about 2.5 min…it’s yummy goodness!

CHAroma

I’ve tried it a lot of different ways. It’s best for my tastes with just a splash of skim milk, no sugar, and steeped for 2.5 minutes in roughly 8 oz. of water with 2 tsp of leaves. It’s been a while since I tried it with a low water temp though, so I may try that again. Thanks!

GiggleGoddess

My pleasure!

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87

It’s been a long time since my last tasting note. Life has been hectic to say the least. But now it’s the weekend, and I can relax and play video games! I guess I just needed a break from tea and blogging about it. It’s been almost a second job with as much time as I put into it. I woke up not feeling very rested and with a queasy stomach. So, I decided a green tea would be a nice start to the day.

I know, I know, I have way too much tea. I probably shouldn’t have bought this (along with the four other pouches of 52teas I recently acquired). But I just can’t help myself!! Cherry cheesecake genmaicha!!! How can you say no to that??

This smells a lot like the Strawberry Pancake Green Tea from a few months back. Except the strawberry aroma is now cherry. Actually 52teas’ strawberry flavor is very similar to their cherry flavor, and quite frankly almost indistinguishable. I never did find much pancake or maple syrup in that tea, but it sure was delicious anyway! I’m hoping this will be a similar (or better) experience.

Mmmm!! That’s the closest to creamy that a 52teas blend has gotten for me! My tongue is being assaulted with flavors! Assaulted! There’s an overwhelming creaminess, with a touch of saltiness too. Butter and cherry are there. I’m not sure about the toasted rice aspect. But maybe that will come out more on the second steeping as it did with the Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha.

Oh yum! This is just fantastic!! Even better than I expected and completely worth the impulse buy! I have to admit, the flavor almost fades the more you drink it. Or maybe that’s because I’m getting used to the way it tastes now so it’s not as much of a surprise. Either way, I’m a fan! What a fantastic way to welcome me back to the world of tea. Why did I ever stop drinking you?

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 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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