618 Tasting Notes
5/5 ESP Emporium Teas
I’m finally reviewing the last tea from my recent ESP Emporium purchase. And I’m finally feeling a little better after a horrendous two days of P90X. Yesterday was Yoga, and even though I can’t do half the moves and generally harbor a strong dislike of yoga, it really made me feel better. It stretched out all my sore muscles so that I am actually capable of walking today! Hooray!
On to the tea, this smells luxurious! The dry leaf aroma is pure roses. It’s like I stuck my nose in a giant bouquet and took a deep breath. It’s also slightly perfumey, but mostly it’s a natural rose scent. Mmm, the aroma translates well into the taste. This is definitely genuine rose!
The black tea base is pretty subtle and nondescript. It definitely doesn’t taste like the Orange Pekoe I know. It adds a slightly metallic zing to the taste. I added a tiny splash of milk, but the zing was still there. Then I added an even tinier bit of sweetener. Not enough to make the tea taste sugary, just enough to make it lean towards sweet and distract from that weird metallic zing. Of course, I could also be imagining the zing. I did just eat egg whites with cheese, so maybe my taste buds are compromised.
With sweetener added, it reminds me of a lychee tea. It tastes a lot like honey! But I can tell it’s still rose and that’s just my imagination wandering in search of ways to describe the taste without saying “rose” a hundred times. Oh well, it is a rose tea after all. So, I suppose it’s fine to be a little lacking in the adjective department this morning. Rose rose rose! :P
It’s a little strange to be drinking liquid roses, but I’m really enjoying this! The floral aftertaste is quite lovely, with roses softly lingering on my tongue long after the sip. I feel like I’m sitting in a rose garden in the midst of summer with a light breeze ruffling the rose bushes and birds chirping from branches overhead. Maybe it’s a secret rose garden hidden behind high ivy-covered walls with nothing to give it away save for the lovely scent of roses on the air. Mmm, this is a lovely tea. And now I really want to go watch The Secret Garden. :)
EDIT: I think I probably was imagining that metallic zing. I no longer get that sensation from this tea.
4/5 ESP Emporium Teas
Oh, the pain! The pain! Day 1 of P90X was bad. Day 2 was worse. I haven’t even done Day 3’s workout yet, and I honestly don’t see how I’m going to. My whole body hurts. Plyometrics is a b****. Who came up with twelve different versions of jump squats for an hour and decided it was a good idea? Ugh, someone put me out of my misery! It’s time to have a nice cup of tea and try to relax. Operative word being try.
The dry leaves smell exactly like strawberry fruit roll-ups. The leaves are slightly flattened, long, and vibrantly green with lots of large dried fruit pieces and only a couple stems. The suggested steeping parameters are quite broad, so this might take some experimenting to make perfectly. I went with a quick 2 minute steep at 180 degrees.
The flavor is light and fruity. It reminds me of drinking the juice out of a fruit cup. Sweet and sugary, but not in an overpowering way. It’s a natural fruit sweetness. The base is somewhat buttery with a touch of floral, reminiscent of a green oolong. It’s not grassy though. The aftertaste is only slightly vegetal, which tells me this is definitely a Chinese sencha.
I’m going to try a second steep for 3.5 minutes at 185 degrees. The berry notes are quieter in the second infusion, but the green base is still going strong. The fruit taste comes out more as the cup cools. It’s not distinctly any one fruit, rather it’s just generically fruity. A slight astringency is becoming apparent at the end of the sip.
This is good! I love the buttery oolong-like qualities. I think I’ll really be able to enjoy this. :)
My plans for a tea tasting extravaganza got cut short yesterday. My fiancé and I are doing P90X together, and yesterday was Day 1. At one point, he turned to me and said, “Okay are you ready to start?” And I responded, “Umm, I’m practically sloshing with tea. I think I would puke if I worked out right now.” So, what did he say next? Solution = stop drinking tea! I started to protest and he thought I was just trying to get out of the workout. So alas, I stopped drinking tea way before I wanted to.
But today is a new day, so I’m picking up where I left off! I’m a little stuffy today, which means I’m not going to be able to describe the aromas or flavors particularly well. But so far, I’m loving this Darjeeling! I’ve only tried a bagged Darjeeling from Twinings once and it was awful. I’ve been afraid of trying it again ever since. But this is great!
It reminds me of Bailin Gongfu and Yunnan Dian Hong, with this being somewhere in between. I’m excited that I can enjoy this sans additions because that’s a rare event for me and black tea. I think I also might be starting to understand what muscatel means in a tea. It does slightly remind me of grapes and wine. But it’s also still prominently TEA. Time for a second steep!
This infusion was for 3 minutes, and I added skim milk and Truvia right away. Mmm, still delicious! Now I understand the hype over Darjeeling. This is a thoroughly enjoyable cuppa. Smooth and bright with no bitterness or even astringency to speak of. Thank you LiberTEAS for sharing this and re-opening my world to Darjeeling teas!
On to the next tea from LiberTEAS! I probably used more leaf than was necessary, but I didn’t want to have a weak cup of tea. I’ve only tried one flavored yerba mate before, so this will be my first unflavored version.
After being told Guayusa was similar to puer and then discovering it was nothing like it, I wonder if anyone mixed Guayusa and Yerba Mate up. Now this reminds me of puer! It has a very puer-esque aroma: earthy and slightly medicinal with a touch of salt. Uh oh. I’m definitely more intimidated now than I was with the Guayusa.
The liquor is fairly light though. So, I can’t imagine it’s going to be too much like puer. Only one way to find out! Whoa!! I was not expecting that punch of flavor!
This is yet another very unique taste. I definitely like it more than puer and maybe more than guayusa too. It’s interesting because it’s so intense, but only when it’s still in your mouth. As soon as I swallow, it has barely any after taste at all. In fact, it’s kind of palate cleansing.
I wish I could describe the taste better. It has a black pepper quality to it. Hmm, that’s all I can come up with. The description says light body and clean finish. I think that’s accurate. There’s no bitterness or astringency.
I probably wouldn’t drink this unflavored on a regular basis as it is somewhat bland. But I’m definitely going to revisit the 52teas’ flavored yerba mate I have now that I’ve a better understanding of what the base tastes like. But there’re still two more yerba mates to try in my package of samplers first! Thanks LiberTEAS!!
Thanks to LiberTEAS for sharing a whole bunch of awesome teas with me a while ago that I am only now getting around to trying. I apologize for the delay in my tasting notes, but today is going to be a tasting extravaganza!! I have so many new things to try, and I can’t wait to get started!
First up, Ecuadorian Guayusa! This is supposed to be extremely caffeinated, so it’s my first cup of the day. I’m trying it without additions first. The aroma is earthy and a little bit woodsy. The liquor is very very dark. I’m slightly intimidated. Hmm, the taste is interesting. It reminds me of an earthier version of a Ceylon-based English Breakfast. I wasn’t anticipating making that comparison!
Okay, second sip is with a dash of skim milk added, which made the cup turn a sickly shade of grey green. That’s an unexpected and not entirely appetizing color…Anyway, it tastes smoother now although it was smooth to start with. But the earthiness is definitely still present. Third sip is with a small amount of Truvia added. There’s the sweetness I was missing. I usually drink black tea with milk and sugar, but I wasn’t sure if you could prepare Guayusa that way.
It’s not bad. The earthiness is just something that would take some getting used to. I keep imagining damp leaves being scraped off the forest floor and then used to make tea. And really, that’s not a fair comparison to make with this tea. It doesn’t taste dirty or gritty or anything, so why I keep forming that mental image, I have no idea.
There’s no bitterness or astringency at all. But there really must be a wallop of caffeine in here because 10 minutes after drinking the first cup, I got a splitting headache! Oof! I’m going to need some Advil to help make this go away. Wow, maybe it’s unrelated…It’s hard to think that one cup of tea could give me a headache like this, especially because I’m not usually sensitive to caffeine. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention it.
I know a lot of people compare this to puer, and I have to say I don’t find many similarities. It brews up dark and has a distinctive, unique flavor. But it doesn’t taste anything like puer in my opinion. It’s much milder and not fishy or muddy or, for lack of a better word, gross. (Sorry puer lovers.) But it’s a pro in my book that this is nothing like puer. :)
I also think I would enjoy this more if it were flavored. I’m still getting an earthy Ceylon quality from this, but it’s also not as enjoyable to me as a cup of Ceylon. I bet flavored Guayusa would be a completely different experience! But I’m also grateful that I got to try this unflavored version so that I know exactly what Guayusa tastes like. Thanks again to LiberTEAS for introducing a completely new tea to me!
I found this hidden in my cupboard, and MAN does it smell good!! I can smell both strawberry and lemon in the dry leaf aroma. Ahhh, it smells heavenly! It reminds me of something too…candy perhaps? Maybe Starbursts? Yeah, that’s it! Starbursts! Mmmm!
I can’t wait to try this, but I promised myself I would drink it iced. Since there’s only a little bit left, I’m going to have to brew it normally and then stick it in the fridge. Adding ice would only dilute it. So…how long do I need to wait for it to cool? Maybe I should stick it in the freezer instead…I don’t want to crack my mug though. Ugh! I’m so impatient!
A few hours later…wow! This is fantastic! I was unsure a white tea would be good iced, but this is really great! Strawberry lemonade, mmmm!! This is, wow, just wow. I’ve never been made speechless by a tea before.
This is only okay as a hot tea. I usually prefer my white teas to be unflavored unless it’s a jasmine white. Wait, strike that. I love 52teas Ginger Ale Bai Mu Dan and that’s a flavored white. Hmm, what was it about this tea that didn’t make me swoon the first time? Maybe it was just my mood…Whatever it was, I judged this tea a little unfairly when I first tried it last December. I’m raising the rating from 74 to 90!! This is definitely a tea that needs to be enjoyed iced. I honestly just can’t believe how good this is.
It’s iced tea season, and I finally found an iced tea worthy enough to make me want to brew an entire pitcher! And there’s still 10 packets left from the revival?! WOW!! How is that even possible??! I need to stock up immediately, and I suggest you iced tea lovers do the same! Did I mention I kept this sample in a ziplock bag for about 6 months? And it still tastes this good!!!!! This tea needs some lovin’ and I’m happy to oblige. :D (Make that 9 pouches left over from the revival).
3/5 ESP Emporium Teas
I tried this twice before reviewing and rating. I really wanted to like it. I did. But I’ve had similarly flavored teas that were much better. It’s like the difference tasted between a Hershey’s kiss and a Lindt truffle.
I tried this sans additions and it wasn’t very flavorful. It pretty much requires milk and sugar. But the overall flavor is like plastic infused chocolate. It’s slightly chalky too. Definitely not milky, creamy, mocha goodness.
The tea base is really weak, and I had even doubled the recommended leaf amount. The brew is very light brown, almost muddy brown. There’s a bit of oil and scum from the artificial additives. I tried a second steep too, and the chocolate was much quieter. It was mostly weak tea with coconut, even though I steeped it for about 8 minutes. Maybe it’s just the fact that they’re artificial flavors that makes me not like this? I’m not sure.
It’s not bad tea that I would turn down, just like I wouldn’t turn down a Hershey’s bar if I really wanted chocolate. But would I seek this out over another chocolate bar? Probably not. I’d probably go out of my way to get the Lindt because I’d enjoy that more. That’s exactly the way I feel about this tea. It’s good and I’ll drink it. But I won’t re-stock it.
It was pretty cheap though, so no complaints there. I’m open to swapping it if anyone is interested. I know others have enjoyed this much more than me.
2/5 ESP Emporium Teas
After the unexpected but awesome caramel popcorn tea, I’m wicked excited to try this one! I’ve been eyeing the Ryokucha tea by Samovar for probably a year now. But the price is kind of steep and they were sold out of sample sizes for months. So, by the time they re-stocked, I had moved on. Still, Ryokucha was calling my name. This looks just like it!!! I’m hoping it’ll be similarly yummy since everyone loves that one so much.
The dry leaves smell pretty much like genmaicha. There are lovely, large pieces of rice but not as much matcha as I would have expected. The resultant brew is slightly green, but not bright matcha green. It pretty much just tastes like genmaicha too. It’s a little disappointing, but maybe I used too little leaf. It does taste slightly watery. I’m going to start over!
Take two! I doubled the leaf amount this time. Muuuuch better! The overall mouthfeel is silky smooth, which is actually quite interesting. There’s slightly more matcha flavor now, but still it’s much less than what I expected. I can also taste a mildly grassy sencha underneath the toasted rice. Mmm! There is some astringency near the end of the sip, but it’s tolerable in small doses. i.e. don’t chug this down!
If I treat this like it’s just a genmaicha, then it’s great! But I really wanted a matcha genmaicha, and in that respect, it’s a little lacking. Still, the silky smooth texture and lovely toasty grassy flavor is pretty yummy. I will definitely drink and enjoy this! Hey look at that, my cup is empty! :)
Soooooo…I think I might have found my wedding dress!
I tried on so many dresses yesterday, it was a whirlwind of a day! For unidentifiable reasons, I started to freak out after the second dress at Kleinfeld. The consultant put me in the third gown and left the room to pull more dresses, leaving my mother and me alone. Once I started to calm down and actually see myself in the third dress, I was so surprised!
It was beautiful and romantic and looked great on me. But it was nothing like what I came in wanting. At the very end of the appointment, I tried on a highly detailed, bead encrusted, satin ball gown. My mom burst into tears and cried, “OMG! That’s your dress!” That’s when I became really confused. It was, in truth, everything I had ever thought I wanted. It was a corset, lace up, dramatic, “wow” factor, dropped waist ball gown that fit me like a glove. But I couldn’t get the lace romantic gown out of my mind. I never thought I would pick a romantic, tiered lace, fit and flare gown. But it really made me feel like a bride.
Now, I’m sooo confused! I don’t know what I want. Should I go with my original vision of the dramatic, “wow” factor ball gown? Or should I go with the romantic lace dress that kind of snuck up on me? I don’t know. I’m still trying to find a picture of the ball gown online, but here’s a link to the Tara Keely gown for anyone that’s interested. http://www.jlmcouture.com/Tara-Keely/Bridal/Spring/2012/Style-2206
The dry leaves smell very chocolaty. I brewed it up and brought the cup into the living room where my fiancé was playing Diablo III. I launched Steepster to start blogging and he said, “That smells good whatever that is.” Then he started taking exaggerated deep sniffs of the air. He’s totally right. This tea is powerful! It’s the first time my apartment has actually been flooded with a tea aroma.
Oh. My. God. This is insane! It tastes exactly, I mean exactly, like chocolate dipped strawberries!!! I’m getting creamy chocolate. I’m getting fresh, juicy, ripe strawberry. And I’m getting just a hint of floral rose. This is one of the best teas I’ve ever had. EVER! The aftertaste is just as luscious and delicious as the tea itself, which is incredible!
And this is all without additions! I didn’t want to mar the tea’s inherent beauty. And you know what? I can’t bring myself to want to change anything about this. There’s a rich tasting tea base underneath the flavor of chocolate covered strawberry and no bitterness or astringency or anything to complain about whatsoever.
After a few minutes of enjoying this tea, the following conversation ensued between me and my fiancé…
“Let me try some,” says he and takes the cup without waiting to hear my response. He takes a swig (yes, the boy doesn’t sip; he swigs) and says, “It IS chocolaty.”
“Well, what did you think it was?”
“It’s chocolaty,” he repeats. I sigh.
“It’s chocolate covered strawberry tea.”
“Ohhhhhhh, that’s what it is!” He says with a giant knowing grin and winks at me. Hahaha, he’s so cute! :)
I’m in love. I’m in love with Love Tea #7 (and my fiancé of course ;) but he’s a given). I’m so glad I chose to brew the entire 5g sample. I thought about cutting it in half, but then I thought one strong cup of tea is better than two weak cups of tea. So, I forged ahead and found something glorious! *heavenly sigh This is perfection! Be generous with the leaf and you’ll be in love too!
I did a second steep for 6 minutes and added milk and sugar this time. It was still great, but the first steep sans additions is my absolute favorite.