630 Tasting Notes
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.
The dry leaf smells really interesting! It’s not what I expected, but it’s surprising in a good way. At first sniff, the pomegranate, juniper, and lemongrass combine to create something that does smell very much like a granny smith apple, oddly enough. I wouldn’t think that’d be the case, but it is.
The rose and marigold add a nice floral element. This tea just has so much going on! I don’t think I thoroughly read the ingredients before I bought it. Or if I did, I just don’t remember there being so many ingredients.
Again, the brewed tea aroma smells surprisingly like apple! I know, I shouldn’t be surprised. But so far, I’m just really impressed by how accurate the aroma is. Apple is hard to pull off in tea form. It’s one of those flavors that usually gets suppressed or concealed entirely. I’m hopeful that won’t be the case here.
Now the taste! Oh, wow, the taste!! This is fantastic! It’s a little flaky hot. I think it’d be better iced. But it’s still very enjoyable and a pleasant way to spend the evening. The flavors are fairly muted compared to the dry leaf aroma. But I’ve come to expect that in Ovation Teas after the Green Tea Fruit Smoothie experience. The subtler fruit flavors do allow the green tea base to shine, which it truly does here.
Well, this ends my new Ovation tea notes. I’ve tried everything from my last order. The Cherry Joy Black Tea was my favorite by faaaar. I highly recommend Ovation to people new to or hesitant with green teas. They’re not vegetal or grassy at all. It’s just pleasantness in a cup! :)
1/5 ESP Emporium Teas
This is my first ESP Emporium tea! I just got my shipment yesterday, and I can’t wait to try these! The packaging was very nice and minimalist. I’m not sure how airtight it is because the bags don’t have a ziplock. You just fold them over and secure with a bendy thing, similar to a Starbucks coffee bag just a whole lot smaller.
I chose Caramel this morning because I wanted something sweet. The dry leaves smell like caramel and black tea, so we’re off to a good start. But I couldn’t really find any caramel pieces. The picture on the site makes them seem abundant. I fished around for a while and eventually found one. Hopefully they all just fell to the bottom of the bag or something, and I’ll find more later.
Anyway, I followed the steeping instructions on the bag, even though I don’t usually steep black teas for 4 minutes right out of the gate. The resultant brew is dark and yummy smelling! Oddly enough, the aroma is nearly identical to 52teas’ Buttered Popcorn…really strange.
I think it’s finally cool enough to try. First sip is sans additions. Okay, the flavor is definitely not buttered popcorn, phew! I’m not really getting caramel though either. Oh wait! There it is! It doesn’t appear until the aftertaste. Hmmm, it’s definitely not very strong for a tea that’s supposed to only have caramel flavoring. I expected to drown in sticky caramel sauce. Time to add some sweetener and skim milk to see what happens.
Just as I suspected, the caramel flavor is more pronounced with additions. It is quite yummy. I’m not floored by taste, but it’s enjoyable. It’s just so funny how much this reminds me of Buttered Popcorn. Except now with additions, it tastes like caramel popcorn. That’s really unexpected, but I’m kind of liking it. Maybe it’s the same black tea base or something? I dunno.
If you’re looking for a knock-your-socks-off caramel tea, this probably isn’t it. But am I glad I got it? Yes, siree! Bring on the caramel popcorn!
I totally caved to peer pressure. After all the rave reviews, I just had to buy a pouch of this tea!
The dry leaf aroma is pure berry! Blackberry, raspberry, and yes, even strawberry is detectible in the aroma. The brewed tea aroma is nearly identical, which is very cool! So far, so good.
First taste…hmmm, the white tea actually isn’t overpowered by berry. And the berry is still very present too. The white base adds a slight nuttiness, while the berries are both sweet and tart. Blackberry is the most prominent of the berries in my opinion. This is an interesting blend of flavors and perfectly balanced. I’ve definitely never had another tea like it.
Second infusion was steeped at 180 degrees for 4 minutes. I know it’s a drastic change. Normally, I would only increase the steep time by 30 seconds with a white tea. But I really wanted to see if I could intensify the flavor. I was probably a little light on the leaf, but 1 ounce doesn’t go very far.
Mmmm, I like this better. It’s not a huge difference in intensity, but I can pick up on the difference. This second steep is definitely my favorite. It’s going to be interesting to see how many steeps it can hold up to before the berry disappears. Of course, I usually get full on tea before the flavor runs out. So, maybe I won’t find out the answer.
This is good, but when it comes to 52teas white tea blends, I have to say that I enjoy the Ginger Ale Bai Mu Dan better. Don’t get me wrong; I am enjoying this too! But at the steep price of 52teas’ Very Important Teas, I just can’t afford to restock it. That’s probably better for the Steepster tea community anyway. Gotta’ spread the love around, not horde it like a dragon! Oooh, now I’m totally picturing Smaug sitting on a pile of tea leaves and furious with Mr. Baggins for stealing his prized Darjeeling!
Mmm, the dry leaf smells exactly like cotton candy! At first I thought maybe it didn’t because it’s so floral. But then it really hit me! I’m hopeful the aroma will transfer into the taste.
The brewed tea maintains that sugary cotton candy scent, but the black tea is very present as well. Here we goooo!! Wow, surprising! It does kind of have that melt on your tongue texture like cotton candy. And it definitely has that pink cotton candy flavor, but it’s a little understated. I’m going to add some sugar to coax it out a bit.
Now it’s sugary, but it tastes like a regular sweetened black tea! I added a tiny splash of skim milk and presto! Cotton candy in a cup! It’s perfect!! Oh, this is really lovely. Really really enjoyable! No one but Frank could create a blend like this. It’s 100% original and 100% fabulous!
Also, major complements on the new black tea base! It’s not bitter or astringent in the least, and I like it much much more than its predecessor. It’s an ideal balance of flavors and holds up to re-steeps better too. The second infusion was almost identical to the first, and I’ve never experienced that with 52teas before!
This is definitely a newfound favorite. I never never do this, but I’m going to buy another pouch. I know I’m getting married and I’m supposed to be saving, but this is just too good to only have 1.75 ounces! Shhhh, just don’t tell the fiancé. ;) Look out, Steepsterites; buy this while you still can!!