550 Tasting Notes

75
drank Ancient Gold by Samovar
550 tasting notes

Backlogging…This tea is a very nice black tea, but I’m not sure I would order it in bulk.

When I first tried it, I thought it was very bitter. I waited a day and brewed it again, this time in the afternoon. I found it wasn’t bitter at all. Maybe my drowsy, morning tongue thought this was bitter, but I can’t comfortably assign that quality to this tea now.

However, it is definitely strong! You can’t call this watery. This kind of reminds me of Twining’s English Breakfast, just as Samovar’s Breakfast Blend reminded me of Twining’s Irish Breakfast.

I can taste faint cocoa notes. But there’s definitely nothing malty in this, especially when compared to Samovar’s Breakfast Blend. Now, that tea is malty!

Nor is it particularly shocking or surprising. It’s just a good, standard black tea. But lately I’ve been preferring more subtle, white teas to loud blacks.

However, I fear I’m being a little too harsh on this tea. It’s smooth, strong, and even-tempered and handles two infusions with ease. I can readily say it’s a high-quality Yunnan.

So, don’t let me deter you from trying it out. I think it’s just not my cup of tea.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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68

I find I like this tea best with less leaf. It makes the tea less perfume-like but still remains floral, light, and lovely. Upping the rating from 52 to 68.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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8
drank Earl Grey by Samovar
550 tasting notes

I read E Alexander Gerster’s review here, and I either got the same shipment or this tea is just bad to start with.

The leaves looked just like Samovar’s Breakfast Blend, but there was a weird yellow tinge to the packet. I didn’t think much of it and assumed it was from the bergamot oil.

I opened the packet and took a deep whiff. Phew!! What is this? It smelled heavily of lemon-scented, toxic cleaning chemicals. Not what I was expecting from Samovar, and I had been warned by the reviews here that it’s heavier on the lemon than most Earl Greys.

Now let me explain the setting when I first tried this tea. I just received a permanent job offer and have to attend a New Employee Orientation. It’s 5am, and I am not a morning person. The only reason I’m ever up this early is if I never went to sleep in the first place.

So, it’s 5am and I am in dire need of caffeine! I decided on a classic Earl Grey & steeped this for 3 minutes. I was already wary from the aroma of the dry tea leaves, but I took a tentative sip. Blech! It was extremely bitter and nasty and had no redeeming qualities. I added a little bit of Stevia and it only made the toxic lemon bitterness more pronounced. I added some milk and literally had to force myself to finish the cup. After all, I needed the caffeine.

So now it’s two days later, and I’m brewing the second half of the sample. I made myself follow the same steeping parameters. It yielded a gross, bitter cup of toxic lemon. I promptly poured it out and went on to the second infusion, hoping it would be better.

Well, it is a little bit better. I only steeped it for 2 minutes this time and immediately added milk, no sweetener. The toxic lemon effect is less pronounced but still present. It’s much easier to drink this cup without gagging.

But really Samovar, what happened? This isn’t Earl Grey; it’s Hurl Grey.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
E Alexander Gerster

Sorry we both had bad experiences with this tea — but I love the name of “Hurl Grey” ! :)

CHAroma

At least the tea is inspiring, haha!

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85
drank Monkey-Picked Oolong by Teavana
550 tasting notes

I stopped by Teavana in the mall today on my way to GameStop to buy another Sims 3 expansion. Finally, they’re releasing Pets!!! I can’t wait! And it’s going to have horses!!!!! AHHHHH!!!!

But anyway, I need to concentrate my excitement on tea now. I tried a handful of different samples they had out, most of them iced. As usual, I found them either too sweet, too watered down, or just otherwise not very enjoyable. But then they gave me a sample of this.

Finally, a great tea from Teavana that tastes like real tea should! This actually tasted really familiar. Before I could draw the connection, I almost walked out with a couple ounces of this. But something told me to hold off. Boy, am I glad I did!

This is a Ti Kuan Yin tea. A few days ago, I tried Life in Teacup’s Tie Guan Yin. They are quite similar indeed but have substantial differences.

The biggest difference is the price. Teavana’s is a whopping $12.50 per ounce, while Life in Teacup’s version is only $2.70 per ounce! That’s right, an incredible $10 per ounce difference!!! I couldn’t believe it myself and double checked the prices several times. How is this even possible?

But even when I compare taste, it’s a bit of a surprise. Honestly, Life in Teacup’s tastes better to me. It has more complexity, a more buttery mouthfeel, and an overall richer taste. I’ve only had the Moneky-Picked Oolong in the store so I couldn’t compare this, but Life in Teacup’s held up to multiple infusions better than any other tea I’ve had. This is a no-brainer.

Plus, I feel good supporting a smaller company like Life in Teacup. They state on their site that they don’t have money to spend on tons of marketing and advertisements. They let the tea sell itself and entice new customers with three free samples per online order!

Does Monkey-Picked Oolong taste good? Sure. Is it worth the money? Pretty much. But is there a cheaper, tastier alternative? Yep!

So, here’s the big question: which would you rather drink?

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81
drank Momoko by Lupicia
550 tasting notes

After a not so great Formosa Oolong experience, this tea really hit the spot. I’m enjoying its sweetness and floral notes a lot more now than the first time I tried it. I think I might have judged it too harshly. This tea is winning me over. I made three infusions and every cup was as good as the last. What a lovely green tea! Raising the rating from 67 to 77.

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

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40
drank Formosa Oolong #8 by Adagio Teas
550 tasting notes

The more I drink this, the more I realize I don’t want to. That salty peanut shell taste is just not at all appealing.

It’s sad when the only reason you make a tea is to use it up so something else can take its place in the cupboard. Luckily, there’s not much of it left. Lowering the rating from 49 to 40.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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92
drank Bai Mu Dan by Samovar
550 tasting notes

The dry leaf smell is very similar to Adagio’s White Peony, but the hay aroma is more in the background. The liquor is the same light brown color, and the brewed tea has almost an identical aroma to Adagio’s version.

Hmm, the taste isn’t quite as strong, but maybe that’s because I used a little less leaf. I’m actually surprised how similar it is. I expected a bigger difference because I thought that Samovar was higher quality than Adagio.

It tastes a little bit woodier and nuttier, with more flavor coming in the aftertaste than what’s present during the sip. It’s definitely delicious, but I’ll probably keep buying Adagio’s version because it’s significantly cheaper (Adagio $5/ounce, Samovar $12/ounce).

I wonder if my palate isn’t refined enough to notice the subtle differences, or if there simply isn’t much of a difference.

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

Only difference I’ve spotted is that the 3rd infusion of Adagio’s White Peony is usually my last. It gets pretty astringent by that cup. But the Samovar 3rd infusion wasn’t astringent in the least. Still, I don’t think that’s enough of a justification for the more than double price. I’m sticking with Adagio on this one.

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92
drank White Peony by Adagio Teas
550 tasting notes

This tea is so delicious. I can’t help but drink it and smile. It’s sweet and floral, and I just can’t get enough! Darker and stronger than the Silver Needle, it’s definitely my favorite from the Adagio white tea sampler. Overall, a wonderful well-balanced white tea. You can’t go wrong with this! Now, to compare it to Samovar’s white peony…

To see that review, go here: http://steepster.com/Charoma/posts/87632

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94
drank Breakfast Blend by Samovar
550 tasting notes

Wow, this is malty! I need more English muffin with strawberry jam just to wash down the rest of my tea! This is what Twining’s Irish Breakfast was trying to be. If anyone wants to pinpoint what a “malty” flavor is, start and end your journey right here. This is fantastic! The leaves actually hold up to a second infusion pretty well too.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
wombatpete

It’s not THAT malty. After this build-up, it was very disappointing. I fell for the ecstatic first comment.

CHAroma

I’m sorry that you were disappointed with this tea. Although I haven’t had it in over a year, I remember it being very malty and others have described it as such too. Perhaps increasing the amount of leaf will yield a cup more to your liking.

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90

I’m so excited to try my first Life in Teacup tea!!! I bought a bunch of samples for a friend and one for myself. I was going to choose a puerh because I’ve never had that before. But after reading a review on here where someone described puerh as “fecal tasting,” I opted for this oolong instead.

The dry leaves smell scrumptious! I’ve been having a lot of weird oolong experiences lately with Formosa oolongs from Adagio. They’re missing that classic “oolong” vegetal taste, so I’ve started to question if that “classic oolong taste” is something else. Do I even know what oolong tastes like?

Well, this tea confirms that my instinct was correct. This has that classic oolong flavor and so much more! It’s silky smooth and buttery. The aftertaste is where the floral notes come out to play. It has a very interesting taste that I can’t quite describe. If someone made an edible wax candle out of vegetables, I think it would taste kind of like this tea. That probably sounds really gross, but it’s a good taste. Extremely unique.

The liquor is so pale that I can’t label it with a color. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I always drink my tea out of a lime green mug, haha. I actually really like that comparison someone made to a baby’s milky breath. That’s a very accurate description of this tea. I’m also getting grass, but not the same kind of grassiness of a sencha. It’s a completely different type of grass, like an autumn dry grass.

And did I mention what a cute little bag my sample came in? It’s a shiny gold & silver, vacuum-sealed bag with Chinese script all over it. Oh, how I wish I could read Chinese! I used the entire 5-7g sample to make this cup. I’m not sure I needed quite that much. The leaves may start out tiny, but they unfurled to fill my entire tea infuser! And it’s not a very small infuser either.

Wow, just so good. Buttery popcorn! That’s what that unique flavor is I couldn’t describe earlier. It just hit me on the second infusion. Buttery popcorn, mmmmm! One of my favorite foods. Just for that, I’m upping the rating.

1st infusion: 185 degrees for 2 minutes
2nd infusion: 185 degrees for 2.5 minutes
3rd infusion: 185 degrees for 3 minutes

Each infusion was exactly as tasty as the previous one. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a tea before that holds up to infusions this well. It’s simply amazing. It’s late now though, so I’ll continue testing the infusions tomorrow morning.

BTW: I’m enjoying this tea while watching my boyfriend play Dark Souls. Has anyone played that game? It’s insane! My boyfriend is an elite gamer, so he’s doing a fantastic job. But still, this is the hardest game I’ve ever seen in my entire life. He got cursed by some weird, giant-googly-eyed, curse-spitting, anorexic frog thing. And apparently there are only three ways to be healed. Two require speaking to NPCs in the game that he’s already killed. The final way is to find an item and give it to another NPC. But he can’t find the item anywhere! I tried searching online for about an hour and could never find the location. Now he has to try to beat the game with half his hit points, which is what the curse does to you. Oh, and it can stack too. Ridiculous! But entertaining to watch. :)

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °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).

Location

Maryland, USA

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