107 Tasting Notes
1) I can’t wait until Christmas is over, and it’s not even December. We are all dead walking.
2) This tea. I can’t decide if I like it or not, to be honest. I feel like there’s nothing wrong with it, nothing to complain about, yet I don’t decisively feel as though I like it.
When I smelled the dry leaf in the store, I went right ahead and picked up the 50g bag rather than a 10g sample. It just smells that good, smooth and sweet and creamy. (Also, I really liked the mellow TOTM packaging. The last packaging I liked this much was when Southern Belle was TOTM.)
The leaves are quite large and unbroken when steeped, really something to see! A teaspoon pretty much explodes in my Tea Master.
Taste-wise, it is not overwhelmingly, artificially vanilla. There’s a creamy vanilla that rides at the back of the sip, not up front, while a floral green oolong is first and foremost. There’s a slightly sharp note to this cup that I haven’t had before, but I think that must be because I lost track of the steep time and gave it a few more minutes than usual while I was getting together some breakfast.
And maybe that’s what makes me a little unsure about it, the floral notes with the vanilla. Do I like that? Or not? Still can’t decide, but I’m still drinking it, so it can’t be bad. If I were more in love with oolongs, I’d probably adore this, but I’m still courting oolongs with some hesitation, like maybe we need to get to know each other a bit better before we move in together and split closet space.
So I had an incredibly stressful day at work yesterday. If I said that a girl went home sick and we had to re-do the zoning schedule on the fly and my best hour on the wall got cut, that would make no sense to most of you. But that is what happened – although it was okay in the end, I still kicked butt. We all did, so we’re going to have fun beating that by ten percent next year. But my day started out on that bad note.
And then someone at work cheerfully told me (as a joke? I guess?) that they had a dream about making out with me and I reacted by stiffly freezing and slightly panicking because I am horrible with social interaction stuffs which are not work related. So we both ended up horribly embarrassed and not looking at each other, and they apologized for freaking me out, which they did not in the way I think they mean – I think they think it is a sexual orientation thing because of that comment, which means they may be offended in that, “oh that was threatening to you, was it,” way, but I am actually bi and just a huge goober SO WHAT A MESS. And I do not want to talk to anyone else at work about it to sort it out in my head because I am in a leadership position and that is the worst position to be in and spread gossip.
And then I came home and binged (which I actually have not done in I-don’t-know-how-long, I have been good about fishes and veggies and fruitses and moderation) on baklava, macaroons, popcorn, ice cream, chocolate, brownies, candy, Turkish delight, 7-Up with vanilla syrup and orange extract (tastes like orange cream soda), and a donair in there somewhere to pretend I was actually eating dinner and then I fell asleep.
Then I got up this morning and was like, KILL ME. And I can’t even drink a detox tea because I have to work. Oh, and I forgot about the time change, so I’m up super early when I could have slept in.
If nothing else, I can calm my stomach because it’s making threatening twinges like it wants to go into murderous spasms of betrayal. I mean, like I said, I’ve actually been treating it well lately. It took me forever to find the 10g of this I have, and now I really know the ridiculous number of teas I have. Wow.
I probably should have read the other tasting notes before I brewed this up. Other people are saying 30-60 seconds. Um. I left this steeping on the counter for like, 10 minutes. Well, now I know why people say only a few seconds. OH MY GOD, THE MINTY BURN. coughs
I might actually have to stop drinking this because the mint is so strong that I’m getting that funny feeling in my stomach you get when you accidentally swallow toothpaste. It’s just such a huge kick-to-the-face peppermint taste.
Some weeks ago, my mother took me out for dinner for my birthday, and since the waiter wouldn’t tell me the brand of tea they offer, I played it safe with a peppermint. I remember that pot very fondly, but the difference between that bagged tea and this is mind-blowing.
I don’t want to rate this until I’ve tried it at a shorter steep time! It’s not unpleasant taste-wise (I absolutely love both peppermint and spearmint), but it’s a bit tough to handle at this strength.
Steep time, beware!
Bit of a backlog: My mom needed me to come in to her store today and price-sticker stuff for their grand opening on Saturday, so I did that. On the way there I picked up some steamed milk at SBUX to make this one into a latte when I got there.
I had nearly forgotten how good this one is. It basically remains the best chocolate tea I’ve ever had.
What’s really weird about that is that this is also a chocolate mint tea. And I hate chocolate mint, to the point that the smell of it can literally bring bile to my mouth if it’s strong enough.
But I like this one. Why?
I guess the mint is soft enough, perhaps? It’s like the mint is cushioned in a soft blanket of cashmere chocolate, while other chocolate mint things are like I’m being stabbed with peppermint and cocoa. Ugh.
Also, I picked up a bottle of caramel syrup from Second Cup on the way home (haha, gotta spread out my small bit of coffee-shop business) so I can mix it up with my vanilla syrup. I’m currently having a caramel matcha latte made with vanilla almond milk. HOLY BALLS, it’s amazing!
When KaiMatcha first appeared on Steepster with a win-free-matcha promotion, I was quite harsh on them. Not because I am out to be a mean person, but because I prefer to give criticism to any tea companies that may be genuinely trying rather than simply let them do something I do not like – I want as many tea companies to be successful as possible. I think that helps the tea-drinking community.
I did not like their website. I still don’t. In fact, I hate their website. I do not object to a focus on health benefits so much – I think tea should sell itself on taste alone, but I also really believe in the health value of tea, and I know some people have been put off by bad experiences with tea – but I do not get a welcoming feel from the site. When I look at it, I feel like I ought to be ordering a StairMaster and getting some free knock-off Tupperware because I ordered NOW!
Am I wrong about that? Am I wrong to think the general public will feel the same way? Perhaps. Maybe they will look at it differently. I don’t know. I did not offer criticism to KaiMatcha on the basis of, “you suck,” but on the basis of, “I am suspicious that you might suck; this looks sketchy to me.”
But I did see KaiMatcha say in the tea vendor’s thread that they felt they have a very quality product and were disappointed no one was interested in trying it yet. Their confidence in their product was interesting. I ultimately felt that I would wait to see what Steepster said about this company and its product. I kept the review page for KaiMatcha Premium open in a saved tab, and refreshed it every day to be there for the first reviews.
When they rolled in and were highly positive, I immediately ordered a can to see for myself. (The one good thing about their website: they take Paypal, hah.)
It arrived today. I shouldn’t drink any THIS late, but I am really upset about some drama at work I will have to deal with, and I having been wanting to know for myself what it is like. So I decided to whisk up a quarter-teaspoon to try it straight and then just dump half of it.
The can is nice. It is sealed much like the Teavana matcha I’m already used to, with a pop top and a screw cap. When I opened it, wow! What a fantastic, fresh, sweet smell. I mean, really sweet.
It didn’t foam up that great, but I’m 100% sure that this is because I’m not whisking it in wide enough bowls. I really want a good stoneware matcha bowl! With a spout, preferably. I can’t seem to get a darn thing to foam at home, even when I get beautiful foam at work (so it’s not my technique). So “low foam covering 70% of the surface” is actually doing better than all the other matcha I’ve tried so far.
I had this straight, no sweetener at all, and…
It’s totally drinkable. Now I finally understand what people mean when they say that good matcha should not be bitter. This must be good matcha, because it’s not bitter in the slightest and it’s very smooth. A bit sweet, a bit creamy. It tastes like green veggies and not like bitter grass drenched in dog urine. It’s not my thing in the sense that I will never be a big green drinker; but I can tell that it is a very good green even though it does not personally excite me. The very fact that I can drink it straight immediately pushes it above a 90. That it is this good at its price point puts it at least on par with Jade Dragon (one of my few actual green tea loves). This is only a few sips worth, so I will give it some more experimental time and report back if I am adjusting the rating or have more to say about it.
…Oh wait. It’s gone stone cold now (haha, so much typing) and I managed to slurp it (which you can’t do when it’s hot) and discovered an intense creamy sweetness at the back. I’m tired, so I just realized that I was not trying to really aerate my sips for the best taste. Of course, I never remember to do that 100% of the time; but if I drank it more thoughtfully, this would be a very rich and drinkable green. Also, this tells me that this matcha would also be good iced.
I think that’s enough for 100.
Wooow, this tea is not faring well in the tasting notes on here, is it? Too tart, sour, tastes like soap, weird clashing flavours, etc…
I accidentally over-steeped this one like whoa. I have no idea how long it steeped for before I got back to it, but from the deep dark reddish color and the fact that I could smell hibiscus across the kitchen(!) I knew it would be tart beyond saving with sugar.
And it is. But…I don’t mind it! Normally I wouldn’t be able to stand hibiscus overpowering a tea, but this time the hibby is so strong that I actually can’t taste anything else, and…as one note by itself, I weirdly don’t mind it. I said something derisive about teas that taste like sour gummies recently, but I actually like sour gummies sometimes. This is like that. It kinda makes me think I might like plain hibiscus tea sometimes, too.
I won’t rate it though, because I literally can’t taste anything else here except maybe a faint hint of cinnamon; and I’m sure that’s not what DT would consider this tea to be at its best, so I don’t think that’s fair.
So. I expected to be able to review a bunch of samples today and yesterday. My plan for my day off yesterday and today was to sit down happily with some tea and play my new copy of old-skool Riven.
That did not happen.
You see – work before play – I decided to first update some Ops forms I created for work and print off more. We absolutely need some for Tuesday. Which was the point when I discovered that the ENTIRE Microsoft Office Suite had mysteriously vanished from our computer.
My sister – in a stunningly self-centered move – uninstalled it because of a minor, annoying, Word-related prompt that appears at start-up. (This is left over from a tech-stupid, failed attempt on our part to install a more complete language pack to Windows.) My sister – who is disabled and does not work or go to school, unlike the rest of the family – somehow decided, “No one uses this, anyway,” and deleted Word, Excel, Powerpoint…
So I spent all of yesterday trying to System Restore and whatnot to fix it. De nada. We are now stuck with no working word processing/spreadsheet programs except crappy free ones. So unless we can borrow old installation discs off someone, we will probably need a new computer. Like we can afford that. Oh, and in the process of trying to fix that, I temporarily couldn’t get Riven to work, either. What a day. I had to vent, guys.
But my 52teas order came today! That’s such an improvement over yesterday, seriously. Just that. Huge improvement.
I decided to try this one first. When I cracked open the bag, wow, what a great smell! It’s very lemon-y on top, but there’s definitely something like butter and cake underneath that. Very promising.
I steeped this up – about 12oz worth with a scant teaspoon of rock sugar – and…the taste is…the taste is… Hmm. Um.
I’m not sure what this tastes like. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to taste like. Does cake taste like this? It’s pleasant enough, but I don’t get “cake.” It’s quite lemon-y.
Overall, it’s pleasant, but I wasn’t sure what to think of it. There’s a quality to it that’s almost like a tiny bit of sourness or astringency, and a tiny note of bitterness. I decided to add just a touch more sugar (white sugar, so that it would dissolve) and some milk. My instinct was that the milk would mellow this one out.
Wow! Did the milk ever help! I’m not so sure about the sugar because I can really taste it; but mellowed with milk, the better notes of this tea really shine through. It’s got a nice balance of lemon and sweet to it. I definitely think I taste something closer to “cake” at the bottom of the sip now (not the back, mind you, the bottom, let’s be specific here), but…damn that white sugar! Seems to be killing things. Man, why did I ever put this nasty stuff in my tea?! Never again, I swear. I’ll just suffer through it not being as sweet! Blech!
VERY nice with a bit of sugar and milk, anyway. Definitely has a “comfort food” factor to it, a good gaming tea!
No tasting notes? I guess this one is that boring, huh?
I’m not feeling well, so I’m drinking cup upon cup of this with a bit of honey. I’ve always liked plain raspberry leaf as a “wellness” tea – it re-infuses decently, you can steep the crap out of it, and it’s so light that a little bag of it goes a long way. I bought this from Teaopia way back when, and it still seems fine – not stale or anything. Admittedly, it looks like grass clippings, and how do you know if grass clippings have lost a lot of flavour? Still, I’ve been told that raspberry leaf keeps very well, and it seems to taste about the same to me!
It’s kind of bland, I guess, but if you’re drinking nothing but this, it seems tastier after a while. I’m guessing that’s because the memory of more exciting teas simply fades from your mind.
…No, seriously, this is very simple and comforting to drink. Very hydrating as well! Yesterday was the first Saturday in a while that I didn’t go home from work with a dehydration headache. (Yes, I know, that’s really stupid when you work in a liquid store, but weekends are usually so busy that I don’t get a chance to drink much as it is, and then I usually end up drinking something with a lot of caffeine and sugar, so that doesn’t help.)
Even given how light it is, I still appear to have used up at least 25 of my original 50 grams. I really need to find where to buy plain raspberry leaf loose now, because I don’t want to give this up, and I don’t want to resort to raspberry leaf TEA BAGS! /snob
(It needs to be a place that takes Paypal…anyone know of one?)
I should note that this is awesome to just put in the cup and sip through a bombilla as well, and just keep topping up the cup until it’s tasteless to get the most goodness from the leaves. A bit of a pain to clean, but hey. No pain, no gain.
Edit: Oh yes, and I got a huuuge haul from DT the other day that I’m excited about! I should have time in the next couple of days to try some saaamples!
Heads up guys, I got some lawyers on my tail about reviewing Teavana teas on here (apparently it looks like statements endorsed by the company if you have lawyer goggles on), so I will not be doing that for the time being. Sorry, you all will have to taste them yourselves!
Don’t be surprised if some of my reviews vanish, or for this blog to vanish entirely…but I will be contacting people personally if that’s the case. I’m not completely sure what’s going to happen yet, or what I may have to take down, but I will not be touching Teavana teas for the near future. I have a HUGE backlog of samples from other tea companies, so I may get to that some evenings instead. Otherwise, since Teavana teas are mostly what I’m drinking now (and I am not around as much to comment on other people’s tasting notes), I may appear to disappear. I’m not actually dead, never fear.
P.S. To whoever is watching me so closely, could you do me a favour and pass on to the appropriate department that we need more Earl Grey/Earl Grey Creme on a continual basis? MUCH APPRECIATED, KISSES.
Not a terribly exciting blend.
It’s got no “wow” factor to it, but it also doesn’t have anything terribly wrong with it. It’s quite tart without sugar of course, but you could have guessed that just from the name. Citrus, right? Turns out this blend actually has both grapefruit and hibiscus, which just has to be sour overkill. Not a good one to drink if you like unsweetened tea…unless, I guess, you’re a big fan of either grapefruit or hibby.
With a small bit of sugar I’m finding it pleasant enough to drink…a calmer, citrus-themed morning tea is how I’m thinking of it, and I’m having it with toast and eggs. (I’ve been trying to review these apart from meals so that there’s no taste interference; but that’s not possibly lately with my hours since I’m only ever home long enough to eat and sleep, so feel free to bear in mind that I’ve had egg in my mouth.)
I think it’s mostly the grapefruit that puts me off this one. I truly dislike grapefruit, but at least it’s not the strongest note here.
Unfortunately, I’d have to say that this one strikes me as having a “flavour hole” in the middle of it, much like DAVIDsTEA’s entire spring collection (for those of you who tried and remembered the way that collection oddly lacked). I think it’s just too one-note, really.
I had someone asking about this…yesterday? Saturday? the past crazy weekend is a blur…but since I hadn’t tried it yet, I called over a co-worker of mine who is big into greens. He stated that he loved it, and said that it reminded him a bit of gyokuro, but that it is quite a bit sweeter. Which all made me more curious to try it myself. Since I’m feeling a bit under the weather at the moment (although I think now it might just be some inexplicable allergic reaction), green tea sounded nice.
And hey, this is quite nice.
I’m pretty sure my water was a smidge too hot when it hit the leaves, but nothing that made them un-salvageable. I’m drinking it unsweetened, but it doesn’t have a strong vegetal or grassy taste to it that would normally put me off the taste of an unsweetened green.
There’s a few sweet notes in it
Oh my god, okay, it’s cooling now, and there’s some notes coming out that are really awesome. Scratch “some sweet notes,” there’s actually a lot of sweetness around the edges and maybe three-quarters back in the sip (is a spacial designation that specific utterly ridiculous? but I swear that is where it is) that is very pure, like golden honey. It’s kind of heavy, like cream…if you don’t mind sweetener, I bet a few drops of actual honey would really make that pop.
There’s another taste here though which is dominant, but which I was at a loss to describe. Autumn Hearth is the only other person who has reviewed this tea so far, and she described this tea as having a “umami” taste to it. I admit that I had no idea what that was, but I’ve seen several people describe green tea with it. It is clearly an important taste to understand, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Wikipedia sez:
“A savory taste […] Now it is widely accepted as the fifth basic taste. Umami represents the taste of the amino acid L-glutamate and 5’-ribonucleotides such as guanosine monophosphate (GMP) and inosine monophosphate (IMP). Although it can be described as a pleasant “brothy” or “meaty” taste with a long lasting, mouthwatering and coating sensation over the tongue, umami has no translation. […] Umami has a mild but lasting aftertaste difficult to describe. It induces salivation and a sensation of furriness on the tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof and the back of the mouth…"
Well! That must be it! That’s what I’m tasting. Thanks, Autumn! (Also, a combination of “sweet” and “umami” basically describes my entire diet…)
…Oops, work just called me in. On my day off, sigh. (We have a guy who is quitting, he probably won’t ever show up again.) So I gotta go, and cannot review a re-infusion of these leaves, so it will have to wait.
Still, I’m happy! I think I finally found a green tea that I like enough to replace that orchid-infused green from Teaopia.