630 Tasting Notes

80

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! :)

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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100
drank Love Tea #7 by DAVIDsTEA
630 tasting notes

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.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Indigobloom

congrats on finding THE dress!! that’s happened to a few people I know, finding the ‘one’ that is nothing like what they expected lol

IllBeMother221B

That dress is stunning! When you know, you know. I ended up getting a dress that never crossed my mind when I went dress shopping too. I say go with your gut! I also think I REALLY need to try some of this tea out…once I drink more of the tea in my tea cabinet that is.

TeaBrat

What a beautiful dress! Congratulations…

LiberTEAS

That wedding dress is gorgeous. I think you should choose the wedding dress that you feel is right. This is a day about emotions, so go with the one that your heart tells you to.

Mercuryhime

That is a lovely dress. The dress i got wasnt what i envisioned either. Life can be surprising that way. Whatever you choose, you will be radiant from the inside out. :)

Hesper June

Beautiful Dress!
Don’t let the fact that it isn’t the dress you had envisioned in your head, stand in the way that it may be the perfect dress for you.
Like the other ladies that commented, I left the Bridal Dress Shop not only in a dress that I hadn’t envisioned for me but I actually hated it….on other people, but once I put it on….well, it was lovely.
If you felt beautiful in it, than its “the one”
Congrats!!
(the tea sounds divine too;)

tigress_al

My wedding dress wasn’t what I had thought I would get either! And also a great tea!!

Angrboda

Absolutely go with the one you liked best ON you! When I picked mine I also came out with the complete opposite of what I thought I would choose and the lady who was helping me said that sort of thing happens all the time. In my case it was to do with decoration and whatnot. I just wanted something simple, but she made me try some on anyway because it always looks different on a hanger or on a model than it does when you’re actually wearing it. And she was absolutely right.

Pick the one you liked best when you were wearing it. This is really not something you want to regret later, because you stubbornly clung to what you had initially imagined.

Right now when I think of mine I’m in a sort of ‘what was I thinking?’ phase, but I’m not really worried that I’ve changed my mind, because I saw it myself on myself in the mirror. I’m going for a fitting later this week, and I have all the confidence in the world that when I see it again, I’ll still think it was the right choice.

CHAroma

You guys are awesome! Thanks for all the advice and well wishes. You really made me feel better after my unexpected freak out. I’m trying the dress on again this weekend, but I’m pretty sure it’s the one. Choosing the guy was so much easier than the dress, hahaha!

Ninavampi

You have the guy and the dress picked out! Almost all the way there!!! :)

Congrats on picking out the dress! I am sure you look beautiful in it!

Invader Zim

How’d I miss that picture?! That is beautiful! As others have said, go for the one that makes you feel beautiful, like a bride, even if it doesn’t fit with what you thought you had wanted.

CHAroma

I FINALLY made a decision on my wedding dress! I decided to get this one: http://www.jlmcouture.com/Tara-Keely/Bridal/Spring/2012/Style-2200 but I kept the belt from the first dress linked above because I prefer the jewels to the flowery thing that comes with my dress. AHHHHH!!! I’m so excited!!!

Angrboda

It looks like you managed to find a compromise between the one that surprised you and what you thought you wanted. I think it was a good idea to keep the other belt. I had some sort of flower-y things on mine that were sewn onto the hip, but I had them removed partly because they weren’t really to my taste, but mostly because I could feel them against my arm all the time. It would have annoyed me so much, and it’s not something you would consider a problem until you notice it. But it’s just so hard to un-notice.
I have six sleeps left now, how many sleeps do you have left? (Or have you not come that far yet?)

CHAroma

Thanks Angrboda! I do think this dress is the perfect compromise. It actually has the exact same top as the lace dress, only the bottom is different. But the tulle bottom has that extra drama I was looking for. What’s a “sleep?”

Angrboda

Very very simple, actually. Six sleeps left = I have to sleep six more times. :)

CHAroma

Do you mean you’re getting married in only 6 days??!!

Angrboda

Five sleeps now. :D This saturday. We decided it was easier to count sleeps than it was to count days, since that takes out the discussion of whether you should count the day it happens, the day you’re ‘on’, only the days in between or all of the above. :)

CHAroma

OMGGG!!!! That’s SO EXCITING!!!! I’m so happy for you! Best wishes!! (I haven’t gotten to counting sleeps yet. We’re still about 10 months away).

Angrboda

Yeah, I can see that’s a lot of sleeps. :) I was tricked by the fact that you had gone to find your dress. I saved that task for last, but then again I’ve hated all this organising stuff from day one. I’m just not an organiser. A friend of my dad’s will be driving us, for example, and I emailed him the other day with a couple of questions. His answer? “you can have it whichever way you prefer.” What I really wanted him to do was to tell me what he was going to do and make the decision for me. :p My brain is getting a bit planning-fatigued at this point. All my thoughts are wedding-this, wedding-that. I’m looking forward to being able to think about something else. I don’t even know when we’re leaving for the UK, because there just hasn’t been room for that detail in my head.

Gosh, I didn’t mean to do all this complaining at you… O.o

Mercuryhime

Wedding planning is so stressful. It was the worst with my husband. At first he was all “whatever you want.” and then when I decided on something he suddenly had all these opinions. Argh!
Anyway, I hope you both have a beautiful wedding day! The memories will be worth the stress!

CHAroma

@Mercuryhime, hahaha! My fiance is exactly like that too! Doesn’t care one bit until I make a decision. ;)

@Angrboda, no you’re not complaining at all. I understand. I wanted a designer dress so you have to order that about 8-10 months in advance or it won’t be ready in time. I’ve only started to get wedding planning fatigued, but mostly I’m still in the excitement stage! :)

Barb

Oh, it was YOU who said brew this long and dark! Very good advice.

And the dress you chose is gorgeous.

CHAroma

Aww, thanks! I can’t wait now that I’ve finally found the dress. Only 277 days to go!! (Or sleeps as Angrboda says). :)

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76
drank Luscious Watermelon by DAVIDsTEA
630 tasting notes

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!!!

Preparation
Iced

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92

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!!!!!!!!!!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

good luck!

Indigobloom

have fun shopping!

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88

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. :)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
LiberTEAS

get your hands on some of the birthday cake tisane from David’s Tea. Seriously, it tastes so much like a cupcake that you won’t crave the sweets or miss the carbs! Sure … a cupcake IS better, but, if I must avoid cupcakes, the Birthday Cake tisane is definitely a good alternative.

CHAroma

Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve been following all the recent tasting notes on that one, and it does seem universally liked. Only thing is I’ve never been a rooibos or honeybush fan because of the strong medicinal taste. Can you taste much of the base in it, or is it heavily flavored?

Kittenna

If I recall correctly, the base is not an issue in that one, and I usually notice when a tea tastes medicinal due to rooibos. It’s really quite good!

CHAroma

Thanks, Krystaleyn! I’ll try to get my hands on a sample. :)

Kittenna

I’m sure I could pass some on if you’re interested and don’t have a DT near you :)

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79

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.

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

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75
drank Green Apple Tea by Ovation Teas
630 tasting notes

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! :)

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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83
drank Caramel by ESP Emporium
630 tasting notes

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!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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85

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!

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

Not sure if tea infused with the odor of dragon is worth all the trouble Mr. Baggins had to go through. haha

CHAroma

ROFL!!! Probably not, but then again an awful lot of people showed up to fight over it! ;)

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100
drank Cotton Candy Black Tea by 52teas
630 tasting notes

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!!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 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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