632 Tasting Notes
I’ve tried this particular sample three times before writing this note. I bought Red Leaf Tea’s new flavored matcha sampler. In total, I bought 12 teas for $25. This was the first one I tried because I’ve had it before and I loved it back then! That time it was robust flavoring with the classic base. Apparently, the entire sampler is made with delicate flavoring on the classic base. That flavoring level really makes a big difference.
I thought the dry leaf aroma was recognizably strawberry. But the brewed tea aroma was a little gross. Sadly, the first time I tried this sample, it was a bitter yucky mess. I prepared it with 175 degree water in my Nespresso Aeroccino. I waited a few weeks and then prepared it this way again. It was much better the second time so I must have done a better job at getting the right water ratio. However, it still just wasn’t quite right. There’s barely any strawberry flavoring to this at all, which is a huge disappointment. It tastes like the matcha powder isn’t dissolving in the water. So I’m drinking warm water with powder floating around in it. Yuck. I even put it through the Aeroccino twice so it was definitely whisked enough, and that’s the way I’ve prepared it in the past when I did like it and drank matcha frequently.
The third and final time, I decided to try out Red Leaf’s recommended cold latte. I still used the Aeroccino and I didn’t add ice. I also did start with warm water to get a paste going since the matcha dissolving in cold milk could be a problem. It frothed up huge this time, but I actually find the matcha foam off-putting. Drinking the cold strawberry matcha latte is weird. I can taste the matcha about the same as I could in the warm water. There’s no additional strawberry flavoring making itself known. Now there’s just the added flavor of skim milk.
Honestly, I am not a fan. I don’t know if it’s purely to blame on the flavoring level or what. I guess time will tell on that front because I have A LOT more samples to go through. So far, I’m really disappointed though. I spent a lot of money on this sampler and I could have just gotten a couple 30g packages at robust flavoring that I would have actually enjoyed. I think this sampler was a mistake. I’m leaving the rating unchanged from a few years ago, but I cannot recommend this sampler or flavoring level. I would probably rate this a 27.
ETA: I take back my negative review of the flavored matcha sampler. This particular matcha appears to be an outlier. The others I’ve tried are delicious.
This tea has been on my wish list for YEARS! So a BIG, HUGE, GIGANTIC thank you to TeaBrat for giving me a sample!!
The brewed tea aroma is equal parts vanilla and caramel. Mmmm, this smells like a dream! A decadent, delicious, dessert dream! The flavor is a lot like the aroma but a tad bitter. I added some skim milk and Truvia and now it’s perfect! It’s heavily vanilla and heavily caramel and I am in love! Mmm, yes! This can replace the hole in my heart left by Butiki Teas’ Caramel Vanilla Assam being no longer available since they closed shop.
I’m always on the lookout for a great vanilla tea and caramel is an added bonus. Now I wish I had more! A lot more! But alas, an order will have to wait until I’ve sipped down my overflowing cupboard. I still have two Mariage Frères teas in there: Marco Polo, which I’ve only had probably twice, and Eros, which I have never tried. :P I’m pretty silly, aren’t I? Oh well. I LOVE THIS TEA! Thank you, TeaBrat!
My order of Golden Fleece arrived today!! Yay!!! Literally seconds after I just placed another Verdant order too. I think the universe is trying to send me a message that I need to stop ordering tea, but I can’t help myself! Is tea buying an addiction? ‘Cause if so, I think I have a problem.
ON TO THE TEA!
I started with a very quick 3-4 second wash and then a 7 second infusion. This tea has a wonderful umami. The mouthfeel is super silky smooth. It’s a little light on flavor in this first steep because I was trying to be conservative with the leaf. The cocoa and bread components are still there, just very faint. Oh no! It’s a tea disaster! I just spilled tea everywhere trying to pour the second infusion into my new red lotus teacup. :( Oh, and this second infusion is so good too!
I’m adding some pictures of my new teacup and the awesome bamboo tea scoop I splurged on. :) This is the tea that keeps on giving. Infusion after infusion are tasty and illuminate different nuances. This tea is as delightful as I remember. In fact, it may be even more delightful than I remember. It has lovely bread and cocoa notes that embody tea from the Yunnan province of China. There’s also a bit of spice in the aroma and flavor. I love it so much! Increasing the rating of 93 from three years ago to 96.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Spices
Thanks to TeaBrat for sharing this sample! I believe I last had this tea about five years ago, which predates my finding Steepster. The aroma is familiar and comforting. Milk Caramel is a lovely tea. It doesn’t taste like a flavored tea. Rather, it tastes like an unflavored tea that just naturally has this amazing flavor.
It’s a houjicha base, which is a roasted green tea. It has a lovely roasted, warm aroma and flavor that is very representative of high quality houjicha. The added flavoring listed is just almonds. Well, that’s why I love this tea so much. Give me almond anything and I’m in Heaven!
Milk Caramel is an interesting name because while this tea doesn’t have overt milk or caramel flavorings, it does evoke these notes. There’s a creaminess and a sweetness that is reminiscent of both milk and caramel. Mmmm, toasty and delicious! I am definitely a fan of this one! Maybe I’ll pick up some for the office…nooo! I must resist!
I’ve done a good job of resisting Verdant Tea’s latest sale and clearance and now they’re sold out of the teas I wanted. :( Sad for me but good for my wallet. I’ve already placed three orders with them over the last few months! I simply have no budget left for more tea. That’s why I’m especially thankful to TeaBrat for making this tasting possible. I’ve found a good tea friend in you! :)
Flavors: Almond, Creamy, Roasted, Sweet, Toasty
The dry leaf aroma is a dark, misty jasmine. It reminds me of fog and high mountaintops. The brewed tea aroma is a good mixture of oolong and floral jasmine. The first infusion is much more flavorful than previous reviews would have led me to expect. I wouldn’t describe this as light on jasmine flavor. Perhaps it’s the oolong base that confuses the taste buds. I believe green and white bases are more prevalent for jasmine scenting. But it’s a beautiful addition to this oolong!
I followed the gaiwan brewing instructions but opted to use my Teavana Perfectea Maker instead of my new Verdant Tea gaiwan. I’ve found that if I’m brewing a tea that calls for boiling water, I just can’t handle the heat with my fingertips on the delicate porcelain. The Teavana Perfectea Maker also allows for easy resteeping and controlled pouring into the Tea Ave cups.
I must say, I was blown away by Tea Ave’s generosity in their initial marketing campaign. I received two identical teaware gifts and sample teas, along with reusable totes and coupons to redeem on a future order. I gave one of these sets to my doula as a thank you for helping me through my tough birth experience. I kept the other for myself.
At first, I thought the aroma cup (the tall skinny one) was going to be a bit useless. But I figured there’s no harm in trying it, so I attempted to keep an open mind. And you know what? It actually does enhance the aroma of teas! The shorter, wider opening of the more traditional tea cup allows the tea to cool faster for quicker drinking but also allows the aroma to escape. I found it much easier to appreciate the aroma using the aroma cup, and it had the added bonus of keeping my refill hot. :) Once I finished one cup, I could immediately pour another from the aroma cup while a second infusion was steeping in the Teavana Perfectea Maker.
BACK TO THE TEA!
I detected a hint of pepperiness at the end of the first infusion. Latter infusions didn’t have that note though. I thoroughly enjoyed infusions 1-3. I allowed the fourth to cool a little too much while writing this note and a bitterness appeared that wasn’t in the earlier infusions. This tea is best enjoyed piping hot. I rinsed the leaves before the fifth infusion and that seems to have eradicated the bitter note. So it’s quite possible that letting the wet leaves sit exposed to air is what caused the bitterness. The tea itself is lovely. Funny, I just read the description of this tea on the package and it talks about fog too. That element really does come across in the aroma!
Overall, I found this tea to be a lovely balance of floral jasmine and buttery, creamy oolong. I don’t think I’ve had a jasmine-scented oolong before and I really quite like it. Oolong is one of my favorite teas. It’s pretty interesting and fun to me that there’s a new company completely devoted just to oolong teas. If I didn’t already have so much tea, I’d definitely consider placing an order. Hopefully I can drink through my stash enough to use that coupon before it expires. If not, I promise I’ll pass it along to one of my fellow Steepsterites. It definitely should not go to waste! I still have two more samples to try, but I think I can confidently say that I am a Tea Ave convert.
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Jasmine
The dry leaf aroma is potent, in a good way! Early infusions are smoky, dark, and woodsy. There’re strong tobacco and leather notes, I’m assuming from the puer. Later infusions are lighter with more caramel and chocolate. I am definitely not a fan of the early infusions. I poured infusions 2-4 into a separate cup for my husband. He likes strong, dark flavors and drinks his coffee black. I, on the other hand, prefer blond roasted coffee with milk and sugar.
These later infusions are much more my style. I’d probably rate the early ones a 45 and the later ones an 80. Averaging the two gets me a rating of 63. I feel bad giving such a harsh rating to this tea though, so I’ll up it to 69. I think if you like these dark, strong, formidable flavors, then you’ll love this! If you’re like me and prefer to avoid smoke and tobacco notes in your tea, then you’ll probably want to steer clear of this one. (Unless you want to do like I did and give the early infusions to someone else. I’d hate to recommend throwing out the early infusions because this is a high quality blend and someone should enjoy it!)
Overall, I’m glad I only bought a sample size again. And wow, what a generous sample it is! I may give the rest away to a friend of mine. Although I do like the later infusions, I’m happy with ending my experience with this tea here. There’s just too much tea in the world (and in my cupboard) to drink something you don’t love!
Note: I last tried this blend two years ago and appear to have really loved it back then, seeing as it garnered a rating of 81. Therefore, I’ll leave the rating of this tasting note unchanged. However, I would like it to be known that I rate the 2015 blend of this tea as a 69. That’s probably largely due to the fact that I wasn’t a fan of this year’s Zhu Rong Yunnan Black harvest. See my note on that tea for more details.
And now for some pictures!
Flavors: Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Leather, Smoke, Tobacco
This is a free sample with my teaware purchase. Woot! The dry leaf aroma is heavenly. I love green oolongs. The leaves are tightly furled and dark green. I’ve only ever had Tieguanyin brewed Western style, so I am going to make this in my gaiwan!
I did a quick rinse and then a 3 second steep. The liquor is a pale yellow. The brewed tea aroma is salty. It’s so hot it’s hard to taste. It tastes slightly salty too but mostly it’s green and a bit grassy. It’s naturally sweet. I probably should be straining this because little bits of leaves are getting in my cup. I’m also finding it difficult to handle because it’s so hot. I’m wearing a rubber kitchen glove to hold the cups. :P
The second infusion is a bit more floral. I’m getting lilac I think. The leaves have unfurled quite a bit and some have long stems attached. Third infusion is a lot more developed now. I’m getting a lovely sweet grass flavor that’s surprisingly similar to Long Jing. The lilac is more pronounced as well. No longer a pale yellow, the liquor is getting progressively darker with each infusion. There’s also a bit of a metallic tang to it that I’ve tasted in past harvests of Verdant Tea’s Autumn Tieguanyin.
I’m still making quite the mess with these Gongfu brewing sessions. There’s just no easy way to do this without getting water everywhere. This is a lovely tea but I don’t think anything special is added to it by Gongfu brewing. I think I’ll stick to Western style brewing in the future. In fact, I think these leaves have a long way to go. I’m going to switch over to Western style brewing now! I seem to recall getting as many as four Western style infusions out of it in the past.
This really is lovely! I enjoy floral green oolongs, although maybe not as much as I used to. This one is less creamy and more metallic than some others I’ve tried. Not to say those are negative things, but they are worth mentioning. I actually don’t think this is creamy at all. I’m sure this tea would have been even better when it was just picked. As it is, these leaves are from the Autumn 2014 harvest and I’m enjoying them in Summer 2015. Phew, someone hit me with a tired stick! I’m off to bed!
Flavors: Floral, Green, Sweet
I have SO MUCH TEA! Not of this one in particular. Just in general. I felt like a green tea so I pulled this one out of my never ending stash. The dry leaf aroma is that sickeningly sweet strawberry flavoring that they put in medicine. Yuck. I hope it doesn’t taste like that. The brewed tea aroma is a lovely green tea marred by that medicinal strawberry again. Uh oh. I’m not so sure about this one.
Oh thank, God! Luckily, the flavor is not medicinal at all. First there’s a lovely green tea with a nice grassiness. Next the strawberry flavor comes in and it’s not bad. It is surprisingly sweet sans additions. Then the green tea comes back in to make the aftertaste light and grassy.
This is okay after all! Maybe not a favorite but I like it better as it cools. This tea definitely benefits from the high quality base. I like it much better than the Chinese sencha that Frank usually uses for his green tea blends. This is a good one. I think it would make a great iced tea. Maybe I’ll try it that way next time!
I just read the other notes and I have to add my two cents. There is nothing in here that is even slightly like banana, mouthfeel or flavor. I’m not sure why others tasted that. I’m very sensitive to banana-flavored things because I pretty much hate them (with Butiki Teas’ Hello Sweetie being the only exception). I can confidently say that this is a high quality green tea with strawberry flavoring and nothing else.
Flavors: Grass, Strawberry
My second tea from the newly managed 52teas! The dry leaf aroma is maple, coconut, and cardamom. The brewed tea aroma is maple and spices. I wasn’t so sure about all those huge cardamom pods (or the coconut for that matter) but you know what? This really does taste like French toast! Much more so than Frank’s 52teas blend from
a few months back. (Strike that. Apparently it’s from a few years back. Man, time flies!)
I think the thing that’s really incredible with this one is that Anne has captured egg in the tea. French toast is many things: bread, butter, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg spices, and EGG! This actually tastes like French toast coated in egg! Color me impressed!
The maple is very strong and there’s a little bit of everything else you’d want: butter, bread, sweetness, and overall tastiness. The coconut adds a nice sweet component that blends well with the maple flavor. I’m actually surprised and delighted that those two go together so well. And with every sip there’s that lovely bready egg flavor that just screams French toast. This is a home run!
I added some Truvia and skim milk. It doesn’t need it but that’s the way I often enjoy black teas. This is delightful! I am really enjoying this! The base is a bit strong but that’s probably because I overleafed it. Even though it’s strong and assertive, it’s not bitter. Yum! I love this so much, I wonder if I can justify purchasing another few ounces to my husband…I don’t want to run out! I really can’t though, ugh. I’ve already spent more on tea than my budget allows.
The second infusion for four minutes is still flavorful and delicious. That’s a nice bonus! I used to get only one good infusion out of 52teas’ blends. So far (and no offense meant to Frank whatsoever as I have loved the company under his stewardship as well), this change in management seems to be a change for the better! Grab this tea while you can!