185 Tasting Notes
all hell has broke loose round here….many things feel unresolved and “messy” at best, the weekend is going by too quickly. The irresponsible neighbor got 2 feral kittens from someone around here and one got out yesterday and they haven’t found it yet. Emotionally I feel like a cork in the ocean….. and if any tea can get me centered and ready to begin my day of unknowns and potentially unthinkables, it’s Crimson Horizon.
I’m glad I bought a boatload of this tea prior to the demise of Butiki. This tatty looking ctc from Kenya is the perfect tea for me to gather my mind this morning. A deep biscuity malt flavor with a wonderful round mouthfeel and a wholesome quality to the flavor profile, this tea will be my guide for the day.
Keep your fingers crossed for the kitten……..
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt
It was odd that in the middle of my quest for the best chocolate tea that this was offered by 52 Teas….I’d never ordered with them and hey, chocolate! So it was ordered. There were several things I really liked about 52 Teas: The shipping is reasonable for a small amount of tea, which will actually make me look at their offerings closer in the future. Also, their packaging in small amounts is ideal, so you can try without the fear of adding to your tea stash too much. The packaging itself is attractive and well thought out which I also appreciate. On to the tea….
When I opened the packet, the immediate smell was of cacao nib. The problem with cacao nib is that there is a sour-like smell that comes with them that my nose immediately picks up on and sends straight into the flavor profile. After a 3 minute steep I found that this was the case. The black tea used is nondescript in this blend…it almost reminds me of the base that Lupicia uses for their Au Chocolat blend. There’s no astringency, but the mouthfeel of the tea is rather flat. The marshmallow root adds a touch of vanilla-esque sweetness to the blend, but it doesn’t really have all that much to work with. I did take this with milk, and it did bring out the “silk” that is in the title, but I think there are much better chocolate teas to be had out there. What was attempted by Black Silk chocolate Milk Qu Hao is obvious in the cup, but somehow it seems to fall short of it’s goal for me. I will try again with a longer steep and update this review in the very near future.
Flavors: Cacao, Marshmallow, Sour
Well, here’s another to add to the “hairy chest” list. Canton Tea Co makes a lovely alternative Breakfast tea (Canton Breakfast Tea) that I’ve reviewed on several occasions and so I included this “traditional blend” in my most recent order to the company….curious. When I opened the packet I was surprised to see a CTC blend…not all CTC mind you, but definitely CTC and broken leaves. Ok, then….we’ll do a short steep. Canton recommended 2-4 minutes, so I went with 2 and I’m glad I did.
Holy Macanoley is this tea strong! Robust is the PERFECT word to describe this tea. It is straight up English Breakfast. There is a ton of malt, biscuit and a touch of citrus. It is bold, kick your butt and if steeped for 4 minutes would probably stain your teeth in a week! The Yunnan is completely lost to me in this blend. It is the kenya, assam and rwanda that fill my mouth with all the flavors you expect from a traditional english breakfast tea. There is astringency here, but not puckerville…just enough for your mouth to want the next sip, which it’s easy to do.
This is a tea that english breakfast blend lovers should not miss. Bold, robust and strong, it is Builders in a business suit. It will stand up to breakfast, lunch or dinner with loads of flavor to spare. This won’t be my only cup of this today. Guaranteed.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Citrus, Malt
….so here it is already, my last day of spring break. I knew it would come speeding in like a rhino, crashing into my now-relaxed life sooner than I expected. Boom. Today is the family event that is 2 hours away in holiday traffic, so for that reason I’m up before dark again, looking to combat the rhino with solace and a cup of tea. It’s working.
My original review of Hattialli Golden Paw Assam is here:
I stand by it all, an am happy to see that I am consistent with what I smell and taste with this tea. It still tastes like an Assam dressed up as a Yunnan for Halloween. It is the best of both, and on most days I’d swear you’d given me a perfect blend of the two teas. It’s ability to stand up to milk is beautiful. If you have this tea in your stash, revisit it. And if you are returning to work from spring break, may you avoid the rhino!
Flavors: Apricot, Malt, Stonefruits, Yams
My last day of spring break, and I am staring out into the darkness outside my window, pondering tea. Of course. Fujian teas, to be exact. I started by exploration of Fujian teas with TeaVivre’s Bailin Gongfu. It’s bold flavor profile left no question in my mind what notes I should find in a Fujian black tea. This morning I am warming my hands around a mug (not so delicate, I know, but I’m greedy with tea that way) of Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu from TeaVivre and thanks to Bailin Gongfu, appreciating the delicate subtleties of this tea.
The first thing is the dry leaves! They’re sooooo scrawny! Ok, in tea language you wouldn’t normally say scrawny, you’d probably use the word “superfine”….but these are weensy refined long scribbles of tea leaves. Superfine. Wet in the mug they’re not much bigger, but the smell of Fujian Black tea rises up to meet my now happy nose and they seem much bigger…… I adore the raisin note that these Fujian teas present, and this Tan Yang Gong Fu brings it in a tender and aromatic way….which is very different than the “in your face” raisin note of Bailin Gongfu. Other notes follow in quietly and gracefully: yam skin, toasted grain, a touch of rye/cannabis and a touch of molasses. The debate with this tea is whether there is a note of “grass” involved. I think there is, but it is not unpleasant nor obvious. It’s just a hint of drying hay that sits almost as a floral note at the top of the flavor profile.
Everything about this tea is truly “superfine”, from the delicate dry tea leaves to the tender notes that tell the story of this Fujian black tea in the cup. Refined, graceful and gentle to the palate, even in it’s complexity, this Tan Yang Gong Fu is just plain lovely.
Flavors: Grain, Hay, Molasses, Raisins, Yams
I am always quite cautious about teas when they list cinnamon in their flavorings. For me, like cumin, it overpowers all other spices that are present, and leaves subtlety to waste. I was hesitant when choosing this tea for my Tippy’s order, but I saw the star anise and the nutmeg in their photo and I thought it worth the gamble….I’m a sucker for nutmeg.
The dry leaf is extraordinarily fragrant when the packet is opened. From that first sniff it is apparent that this is not your average “chai” blend. When spices are blended with skill, it should be difficult to pick out the individual components of the blend. Such is the case with North Pole Estate.
In the cup, this is a very smooth tea with a satin quality to the sip. The spice blend does not overpower the quality tea ~ it does what it is intended to do by enhancing the richness of the keemun and assam. There are fleeting moments where a single spice in the blend (particularly the star anise and nutmeg) gently takes the lead, but then it recedes into the blend again with grace and deliciousness. The cinnamon is NOT mowing everything down in it’s path. The clove is delicate and supporting of all the flavors in the cup. I have remained intrigued from the first sip to the last sip….. and that, for me, makes a glorious cup of tea. Completely and utterly enjoyed. Thank you Tippy’s.
Flavors: Anise, Cinnamon, Clove, Earth, Malt, Nutmeg, Smooth
One sip and I know this is a Verdant black.
When I first started out on Steepster, it seemed that Verdant’s Laoshan Black was a darling of the crowd….so I ordered it based on the praises of others. There was a note within the Laoshan Black that I struggled with. It hit my senses…well….it was just like standing next to a pot smoking crowd at a concert. I’ve been to loads of concert….boatloads. Arena rock in the late 70’s, Punk in the early 80’s, and everything in-between since then. Definitely pot.
So, here I am with a cup of Yu Lu Yan Cha Black and guess what note is the first to rise up and clock me in the schnoz? Yep, pot. Except that I’ve learned in the last year that some folks identify this hashish-y note as rye, which I think interesting, because if I focus on it in my head, I CAN see the similarities between the 2 notes! I once had a friend who came over from Ireland who thought that root beer and wintergreen were interchangeable…..I’d never thought about it, but now whether I’m having an A&W or a LifeSaver, I am reminded how similar they are once I focused on their similarities.
Sorry, back to the review. Pot/rye. It is what I feel is the quintessential note of Verdant Blacks, and it is at the forefront of this tea for me again. The cup holds lots of grain notes, a toasty deep grain that compliments the rye/pot note nicely. Joining the grain are a sweet potato and sweet earth note that anchor that toasty deep grain nicely. Top notes in this tea are a weensy bit of smoky floral…but just a touch….
As this cup cools, I’m finding myself rather liking this…rather liking this more than Laoshan Black, which is quite a complement, as from what I read this tea was a “hail mary” pass made in an attempt to save a neighbor’s tea crop. It is a luxe and flavorful cup of Verdant that carries with it more subtleties than Laoshan Black but as beautiful of a flavor profile.
A big thank you to TeaTiff for sharing!
Flavors: Cannabis, Earth, Grain, Rye, Sweet Potatoes, Toasty
Spring break! I LOVE having the time to break out a new tea to explore before the sun comes up, listening to the birds slowly join into the cacophony of country morning noises. This morning a second assam from Taiwan Tea Crafts is the choice. I seem to be having some struggle getting the flavors in Taiwanese assams to come to the front of my palate…I’m guessing due to my steeping parameters. I almost double-leafed this, so here goes!
There is something about Taiwanese assams that I deeply enjoy. The flavor profile is so very different from Indian assams that it is often hard to believe they come from the same cultivar. This cup is no exception. Heritage Assam Lot 334 leads with the gorgeous raisin note that is not to be ignored (nor would you want to!). It is accompanied by the taste of grain, which gives this Taiwanese assam a lovely full mouthfeel. There is a slight tanginess to this tea that is gently nudging the sides of my tongue and oddly making the smoothness of the malt flavor more noticeable. The fruitiness and sweetness of Heritage Assam Lot 334 is very apparent, but what makes this tea charming is the slight woodsy note to the grain that reminds the drinker that it comes from older trees with heritage….history. This is where the magic lay in this tea. Heritage Assam Black Tea Lot 334 is a beautifully balanced tea, full of fruity and grainy sweetness with a touch of history that is shared in the cup.
Flavors: Fruity, Grain, Malt, Raisins, Wood
I’ve held on to this sample from a What-cha order for quite some time, as I believe I think like the rest of most Steepsterites about Kenyan teas. Well, in general, they’re not very exciting. They’re used in Breakfast Blends because they are affordable and don’t really offer any nuances…they’re just straight strength and malt. Well, I need to learn to rethink my groupthink, as this is not your mamma’s bagged tea in leaf form…..
Using the steeping parameters set by What-Cha, I found myself looking into a cup of golden tea and smelling all sorts of floral delicacies. I live near orange groves in Southern California and the smell from this flowery orange pekoe black tea is similar to orange blossoms…white, delicate and sweet. The maltiness of the cup is well balanced by this sweet floral note and a woodsy mid-note that gives the tea a nice round mouthfeel. There is some astringency here, but it isn’t the typical “how’d my socks get blown off” astringency of Kenya CTCs….. (I’m still missing some socks from earlier steeping experiments with Kenya CTCs.) This Orange Pekoe black tea is much more refined in it’s astringency. It elevates the flavor profile to an afternoon tea. An afternoon tea that would feel at home accompanying cucumber sandwiches as well as PB and J sandwiches. One that I would serve my non-tea enthusiast friends and they would recognize as really nice and refined tea without any “weird flavors”.
With the scorching summer approaching quickly here near San Diego, I will be glad I have the rest of the sample package from What-Cha for mornings when I think I just might not be able to bear the thought of a heavy cup of tea….that’s when this previously forgotten sample will be remembered and enjoyed again, wholeheartedly.
PS: I can’t believe there are only 2 of us that have reviewed this tea…. anyone else own it but haven’t gotten around to drinking it yet?
Flavors: Astringent, Flowers, Malt, Wood
My first day of spring break….the BEST day to choose what tea I want on any given morning is the one that starts a vacation! (or in this case a stay-cation!) I reached into the trusty (but overflowing) tea cupboard and out this came. I’m not gambling today… I KNOW I’ll have a great cup of tea with this one in my cup.
Canton English Breakfast is a hard one to nail down. The description states " A sophisticated blend of high grade black teas from prestigious estates in Assam, Ceylon, Rwanda and Yunnan." Intriguing? Very much so. Throw the words ENGLISH BREAKFAST in there and I’m all over it. But is a blend of too many teas too much of a good thing? After the first sip, this thought is gone from my mind.
I can easily identify 2 of the teas mentioned: the Yunnan, which gives this breakfast blend a nice solid base note of earth, topped with honey. The Assam states is presence with the malty/grainy midnote. Perhaps the Ceylon is the brightness that holds the honey as a top note. so what is the Rwandan tea doing? Probably the happy dance, because it’s included in this unique and pleasurable breakfast tea! (my guess is actually the Rwanda adds the biscuit note, but I’m just guessing) This is a tea that all breakfast blend lovers should try. It is a hearty and smooth alternative to traditional breakfast teas, that tastes like no other. If you think you want to try this tea, you WANT to try this tea.
The above was from an earlier review, and I stand by every word. This is a solid citizen in a cup. If I lived in the UK, this would be my “everyday” go-to. The full flavor palate (without being too complex) and the round mouthfeel create a lovely breakfast blend with depth and deliciousness. It’s a happy morning already.
Flavors: Earth, Honey, Malt