634 Tasting Notes
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.
I tried an iced sample of this in the NYC Bleecker store. It was a little watered down, but it did taste exactly like fruity, juicy, watermelon. I was surprised how much it tasted like watermelon. There’s no doubt that’s what it was. An expertly crafted iced tea.
By the way, the staff in this store is AMAZING!! So knowledgeable and soooo nice! I was blown away. It was definitely a highlight of my trip, and I’m very happy I decided to go. Plus, I got the best glass, double walled tumbler with infuser and bamboo lid. Yipee!!!
I have had a stressful couple of days, and then came home to find some chocolate tea waiting for me in the mailbox! Boy, did I need this!
I wasted no time boiling water and brewing a cup. The aroma is chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! It reminded me of Milk & Cookies, which brought a smile to my lips for the first time in days. I took one sip without additions, and it tasted like watered down chocolate. I mean literally, like someone had melted chocolate and added water. I couldn’t believe how chocolaty it was! The only thing that was off was the viscosity. It’s too liquidy to be a chocolate bar. I crave the texture of solid chocolate when drinking this.
But, I added some Truvia and skim milk and prayed for the best. Mmmmmm!!!!!!! This is really yummy chocolaty tea! It’s hard to even think of it as tea! It’s pretty much just liquid chocolate. I’m going to wait a little while now to let the flavors meld into the tea leaves. I bet the next I try it, it’ll be even better!
Thanks to LiberTEAS for suggesting and Frank for blending! Now, I’m off to NYC first thing tomorrow morning to go wedding dress shopping!!!!!!!!!!
I’m really craving something bad for me, like cupcakes or cookies. I’m trying really hard to avoid these things (and carbs in general) because I’m going wedding dress shopping on Saturday!!!! I really want to look my best, and I can fluctuate as much as 7 or 8 pounds in a week depending on what I eat. So, alas, the sweets will have to wait until after dress shopping.
I decided to blend together some vanilla and cream teas to make a black tea version of whipped cream! Mmmm, this turned out delicious! It definitely benefits from the addition of Truvia and skim milk. It’s just not quite right sans additions.
I’m really enjoying my spontaneous creation. Nothing in my cupboard sounded quite right, but this is hitting the spot nicely. :)
The first time I tried this tea, I was a little harsh on it. I wasn’t in a particularly good mood because my fiancé was cooking habanero peppers and poisoned all the air in the apartment. I sequestered myself in my bedroom where the air was marginally more breathable. But I don’t think I was in the proper mindset to fully appreciate the #1 highest rated tea on Steepster.
So, after reading an enthralling review by jason I decided to give this tea another chance. The dry leaves are very small and very dark with a few sporadic golden tips. The dry leaf aroma is scrumptious. It’s like smelling fresh, warm baked bread hot from the oven.
I started with the same steeping parameters as the first go around. The resultant brew was light and yummy sans additions. I wish I had the words to adequately describe its taste. But I’m afraid I’m still a fairly inexperienced tea taster when it comes to high quality Chinese blacks. All I can think of is that it reminds me of a grainy, seed-riddled loaf of bread in liquid form.
The second steep was at 185 degrees for 4 minutes. Hmm, honestly there’s not a whole lot of difference between this infusion and the first. I’m going for a third steep! Less water this time and 6 minutes. It’s still not earth shattering. It’s good, but I guess I’m just not enraptured by Fujian teas the way others are. It doesn’t have a memorable flavor to me. The first infusion is definitely the best.
The thing I like most about this tea is that it’s not even the slightest bit bitter. Normally, I have to add milk and sugar to black teas to mask the tannic bitterness. But this is smooth and delightful on its own, and I can’t bring myself to mar its beauty with additions. A slight astringency only peeks out at the tail end of the third infusion. But it’s not an unpleasant level of astringency.
Funny, I stopped writing my note to read some other reviews and see what exactly everyone loves about this tea. So many other people described it as grainy! I’m impressed with my taste buds. Maybe they are more developed than I thought they were. Pretty cool if I do say so myself. It does have some caramel and cocoa-esque notes, but those aren’t entirely prominent in my opinion. I also wouldn’t consider this malty or beer-like at all. Grainy, yes. Malty, no.
Hey, we can’t all adore the same things or the world would be a pretty boring place. Nonetheless, I’m raising the rating from 75 to 79.