255 Tasting Notes

74
drank Royal Garland by Samovar
255 tasting notes

I liked this tea but was not in ecstasy. I think it’s a great oolong but it fails to win top grades with me simply because its identity is a bit too diffuse. I can tell and taste that this is a tea of great quality but drinking it feels as if I am standing in the middle of an enormous gallery at a fine art museum and I can only get impressions. I would want to move towards an individual painting to get a closer look but instead I cannot do that. It’s a vast canvas of a tea with a lot going on in the scene, but I cannot see if all.

It’s all true: buttery, vegetal, malty, yeasty, like wine, like fruit of various kinds. I think what I’m wanting is some sort of dominant note to ground the tea so that it can define itself more clearly.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec
Lori

This one was a blah cup for me. I loved your review as you described what I was thinking perfectly…. I was suprised it got such high reviews….

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20
drank PBJ Rooibos by 52teas
255 tasting notes

I like 52teas a lot; I like the concept and I like some of their wild and crazy blends that turn out to be not the least bit crazy when you drink them. I have subscribed for almost 6 months and will probably continue my subscription, although I worry that they have a silo full of rooibos someplace.

I like the classic PBJ combo and I generally like what 52teas does with peanut flavors. But this “tea,” as others have noted, was a disappointment. I could not find the flavor. I hope that 52teas will start a subscription program where one can simply opt out of rooibos. I have so many of their rooibos packets dismally waiting for the love they will never find at my house. How did rooibos get to be a tea anyhow? Would the world of wine permit cranberry juice or Kool-Aid to be counted among its vintages?

Oh, 52teas! Please lavish your love and your ingenuity on the black and green tea blends that I love so much.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Rabs

I love the image of them having a silo full of rooibos! And I think I know where in Wichita they’re storing it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Keeper_of_the_Plains
One must also be aware that when the article says “Arkansas Rivers” the way a Wichitan (having been one myself) pronounces the river (versus the state) is Are-Kansas River (not Arkinsaw). Believe it or not! ;)

gmathis

We are looking to go to Wichita for a family gathering around 4th of July…this may bear further investigation! No doubt they’ll be closed, but maybe I can at least drive by Zoomdweebies and look longingly in the window.

wombatgirl

I’ve been thinking of heading that way, but they’re only open on Tuesdays or some such and I’ll pretty much only ever be down that way on weekends. Sigh.

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73

Random Selection from Golden Moon Tea Sampler—perhaps #18? I have lost count.

I had read the reviews of this previously and when I opened the package I was initially enchanted by the aroma. At last a Golden Moon Tea sample with some real character—which I have not seen since their wonderful Melon tea. Then I thought of a comment that Rabs had made about how this dry tea smells like Pledge furniture polish—-the thought popped into my head—I had read her review but it seemed like a long time ago.

So there i was with the proverbial mixed emotions: wanting to try a tea that kept oscillating in aroma between a good strong bergamot and Pledge. A sequence of ancient Pledge commercials paraded before my eyes and then led to a vision of that Ty-D-Bowl guy—-a miniature of the actor who played Murray on the Mary Tyler Moore Show—navigating the waters of a toilet on a small raft singing an eerily awful prototype of a raggastan number.

So I had digressed mentally but my nose had ferreted more deeply into the aroma and I was set to enjoy the tea—visions of New Lemon Pledge and Ty-D-Bowl notwithstanding. (The thing about popular culture is that it wraps itself around society including those virtuous people who don’t watch television but yet have somehow learned by magical Osmosis that Cyndi Lauper and Sharon Osbourne are on the Celebrity Apprentice kow-towing to Donald Trump—-and yet there was not one single mention of Britain’s parliamentary elections of yesterday in my local newspaper).

Another digression. The brew was a fairly decent Earl Grey but not one that made me want to sit up and salute. It’s a good Earl Grey but I continue to search for the definitive Earl Grey that I will want to always keep in my cupboard. There are a couple of candidates thus far, but this one just does not quite make it—sort of like the political parties in England—there is no clear winner yet and I will keep on trying Earl Grey teas but I don’t think I will end up with this as my standard of Earl Grey Excellence.

Not at all a bad effort, just not a stunner.

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec
Rabs

I was both horrified and laughing so hard while reading your note. Sorry to have implanted such a negative association regarding a tea. But your digressions were brilliant. I am so happy that you were able to move beyond my neophyte earl grey nose!

gmathis

I’m still adjusting to new media shifts myself … teenager never watches TV, but has introduced us to a plethora of cult-hit Internet-only videos and sing-along blogs (anybody ever see Dr. Horrible)? Smiling at your cleaning-product description.

Rabs

I’m a HUGE Dr. Horrible fan! And pretty much a fan of all things Joss Whedon :)

Ewa

Sigh, sadly I could not get over my initial soap impressions like you did. I tried! but I failed. On the plus side, I have no idea what Celebrity Apprentice is. I doubt I’d care though. Dr. Horrible on the other hand, is awesome.

gmathis

Not only are y’all educating me about tea, you’re educating me about pop culture!

__Morgana__

Ewa, it’s Apprentice, but with celebrities. Bwahahaha.

Ewa

nooooooo, I have been contaminated with mainstream pop culture knowledge!
(see, Dr. Horrible is ok because it is geek pop culture knowledge)

ashmanra

Douton, have you tried Earl Grey Supreme by Harney and Sons? In the book he says it is black, oolong, and silver tip tea blended together. It is my favorite Earl Grey thus far.

ashmanra

By the way, another Dr. Horrible/Firefly fan here!

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47
drank White Ginger by Golden Moon Tea
255 tasting notes

Plucked at random from Golden Moon Sampler Basket
Tasting Note circa #18 or 19

I tried to make this a success. I really did. I try to meet a tea and its demands 100%. I don’t think I can spin gold out of cat food but I do think I will try my hardest to bring out the best in the tea. I had a small sample and therefore only used about 3 ounces of water. The dry tea smelled faintly like one of those very mild soaps that they sell for use with babies. I could not pick up on the ginger at all.

Brewed, the golden tea looked ok but still did not present itself with a discernable aroma. Maybe if I conjure up vegetation in my mind it’s slightly vegetal but that might have been one of my Jedi Mind tricks (the limits of my Jedi Mind tricks are remarkable: pretend that the spinach has a romaine overtone—that sort of thing).

Ultimately, I think that I still prefer big, bold flavors and I like my ginger to be all full of huff and stuff. This is probably my least favorite of the Golden Moon Teas I’ve tested thus far.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Rabs

ROFL: spinning gold out of cat food! And Jedi Mind tricks with tea! I love it!!!

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93

I really like Vanilla so I ordered a fairly large bag (3.5 ounces) of this from the American Tea Room. Imitating JacquelineM I cut up a fresh Madagascar vanilla bean and allowed it to sit in the bag for about three weeks. The result is a deep, rich vanilla tea. I am certain that the flavor has been well-enhanced but also it may well have been quite strong before my addition.

Because of the strength of the vanilla, my tasting note may be a bit off. The black tea support seems to be excellent but also chosen as a backdrop to promote the vanilla.

If you like vanilla I would highly recommend JacquelineM’s method and get the best vanilla bean you can find and doctor the tea. I did not taste the tea previously, because I put the smallest hole in the bag possible to add my vanilla bean segments. It’s delightful and not the least bit ersatz!

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec
LiberTEAS

That is an excellent alteration idea for vanilla tea lovers. Tea leaves are extraordinarily absorbent of flavors, this is an excellent way to rev up the flavor of a vanilla tea (which is often lacking even in some of the best vanilla blends)

Doulton

I agree. I’ve had another cup and I think that the vanilla taste is fantastic.

Veri-Tea

I make my vanilla tea by chopping up vanilla beans finely and scattering them through the tea, as well as putting a couple of chopped pods in there to infuse… so yummy. Vanilla and tea is just one of the best combinations ever.

Ricky

Where do you recommend purchasing some beans? There are too many companies out there selling madagascar beans :(

JacquelineM

Ricky – I got mine from Williams Sonoma. There are a TON of places online, but I’ve heard good things about http://www.amadeusvanillabeans.com/ from various food bloggers.

Ricky

Ohhh, how is the quality or are they all about the same?

JacquelineM

I like the ones from Williams Sonoma – they are Nielsen Massey – great quality and very delicious! (plus right up the street from where I work!) I think the ones on the internet are high quality and cheaper in the long run – I just didn’t want to mess with a large quantity and shipping when all I needed was 2 vanilla beans :)

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67
drank Birthday Tea by Adagio Teas
255 tasting notes

Thank you so much to RICKY for sending me a sample of this tea. It’s sort of “meh”. The sprinkles are a nice touch, but they are a superficial bauble. The tea itself is too “generic black” to get me really interested—but it’s not a weak black. I think that the overtones of vanilla are a little too muted for me to appreciate them. Ditto with the caramel.

It’s a personable tea and a nice idea, but I don’t feel tempted to purchase it.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
TeaEqualsBliss

Believe it or not…I still haven’t tried this one!

threewhales

Ok, it is just not me. Ricky sent me a sample of this too! I totally agree with your review Doulton! I tried adding milk and sugar and still just Bleh…

Ewa

I just want to say that the phrase “superficial bauble” is awesome.

Ricky

I agree too! But I had to get it since it was Adagio’s signature blend =P

I had to see what the commotion was all about. Sprinkles are fun =P

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92

After a busy Monday, I wanted a nice green tea with its lower caffeine and its characteristic buttery taste. Knowing that Dragon Well (Lung Ching) has a reputation for being the champagne of Chinese green teas and that it’s known as being a fairly light tea, I thought that this was the ideal time for me to try this tea.

The dry leaf is long and pretty and fairly flat. It’s green but not the neon green of some Japanese greens. It smells a but nutty with hints at complexity that will arise with steeping. Brewed at approximately 175 degrees, the results are very pleasing. The brew is mid-yellow in color and the aroma is both vegetal and nutty. It is not particularly sweet on its own but I will use some sugar crystals when I’m half way done.

The tea is a great drink unfolding layers of nuttiness and some vegetation—not so much that you can call it a “spinach” or an “artichoke” tea but enough so that the vegetal taste plays a strong second fiddle to the primary taste of roasted or toasted nuts—I’d like to say roasted walnuts more than other kinds of nuts. It’s very satisfying and would make a great accompaniment to a meal or as an after-dinner tea. It would also be a great afternoon tea.

SECOND infusion: This Dragon Well has not lost anything but has gained perhaps more of a nutty focus. I added a few sugar crystals and the added sweetness was nice. There were not enough crystals to take away from the tea’s essential flavor. I would serve this to myself without the sugar but would offer some sugar to guests.

The rich toasty nuttiness and the deep flavor make this tea well-worth trying. I think it will become a staple at my house.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 15 sec
Stephanie

“rich toasty nuttiness”…yummy!

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53
drank Sencha by Golden Moon Tea
255 tasting notes

I thought that this tea was acceptable but I would not buy it. I have had senchas that are more vegetal (which I like) and more buttery (which I also like). This one did not have a lot of distinguishing characteristics. “Meh” is not a very high accolade, but I want to put it a few rating points below “a’ight” and some point above “hate”. I don’t see any reason why I would invest money in this tea when I’ve tried other, better senchas or flavored greens.

Although I was careful about time and water temperature, I got a bitter taste. It shouldn’t be that difficult to brew even the most delicate tea unless the pay-back is sensational.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 15 sec
gmathis

Agreed…I don’t like to have to coddle my teas that much.

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83

This is a very satisfying afternoon tea. The wisp of smoke is very restrained and I am certain that this tea would be perfectly acceptable to those who do not like smoky teas.
Upton offers good teas at decent prices. I think that I’ve tried much more costly Keemuns which have spoiled me a bit for their more pedestrian siblings. This smooth tea is really a delight. After drinking some Hao Ya Keemuns this tea certainly seems like a step down, but I feel a bit churlish writing this.

It might be analogous to eating a lobster dish after you’ve sampled caviar (not that I’ve had a lot of experience there). What might have seemed like a wonderful tea a couple of weeks ago seems a little simple-minded compared with more brilliant teas.

What am I getting at? If I were grading papers I would give this one an “A” even if there were another paper that went miles and miles beyond the outer reaches of what I know to be an A+. Excellent tea, Upton!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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96
drank Hao Ya 'B' by Harney & Sons
255 tasting notes

The dry tea has a fragrant and fruity slightly charred aroma. Trust me—when I say “charred” I mean an accolade of the highest order!

I’ve fallen in love with smoky charred teas,
The full-bodied drink that never gets stale.
A Yunnan or Keemun will eternally please
Me and send my soul on a rhapsodic sail.

I don’t think my taste-buds and nose are discerning or well-developed enough to select the gradation between this and a Hao Ya A I recently sampled. I truly love these full-bodied teas. This is not nearly as smoky as a Lapsang Souchong, but it’s a bit seared with notes of chocolate and chestnut and date. I think I’m moving more and more in the direction of teas that are not blended by the tea-makers but that have some natural taste-treats from their surroundings of origin. Very well done! After I’ve sampled my various Keemuns I’ll have to break my “buying diet” and spring for a pound of this Hao Ya goodness.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 45 sec
Lori

I am glad that you loved it- I ordered that one so I am looking forward to it….

sophistre

I’ve been debating about these. Keemun appeals to me quite a bit, and I’m so intrigued by oolongs that I always forget to try new keemuns, so…this is a good reminder! I’m with you, though…the flavor of tea as tea is so varied and amazing that flavored tea is really a completely different experience. I don’t really compare the two — one is good for cravings, perhaps…but nothing, to me, quite compares to the incredible depth of really good leaf, as a tea-drinking experience.

S

sophistre, I totally agree with your comment. :)

And this is going on my to-buy list right now! mmm

Lainie Petersen

Yeah, this is a really good tea. I may even prefer it to the Hao Ya A. Excellent review!

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Profile

Bio

I really love big, bold, brash teas. Smokiness enthralls me. I don’t seem to do subtle.
I don’t do rooibos.

My rating system:
0-30:
Never again in a hundred million years

31-55: This tea probably has some redeeming qualities but I won’t would not seek it out again.

56-70:
Shows some promise but also has a fundamental flaw. I probably owe these a second taste but am unmotivated.

71-80:
Good with at least one strong quality; I probably would not buy it but would drink it cheerfully.

81-90: Worthy contenders; they might be ranked 100 on somebody’s else’s scale. I like them a lot but have not fallen in love. Will probably buy and use.

91-95: These are the true loves, the chosen ones, the ones I dream about and crave. Unless they are in a limited edition—la! how you tease me!—I will always keep in my cupboard.

96-100: I cannot be separated from these teas and would develop a panic attack if I were to run out.

-

“She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain.”

Elderly dowager. Quintessential cat lady.

Tea which must be in stock always:

Black Dragon LS by Upton Teas: My choice every morning.

Florence & Lapsang Souchong by Harney & Sons

a good Gen Maicha

Samovar: Russian Blend, Maiden’s Ecstasy, Ryokucha

Mariage Frères: Confucious, Vivaldi, Eros, Aida, Marco Polo

American Tea Room: Brioche

Leland Teas: Bogart

Life in Teacup:
An Xi Tie Guan Yin Grade II modern green style & also Charcoal Style

Location

In the midst of the middle of the heart of nowhere in particular.

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