107 Tasting Notes

86

I steeped this western style in order to permit multiple cups from a sample. Thanks to Tea at Sea for the sample.

I’ve been trying to reduce my stash lately so this is my first new tea since Christmas. I’m excited. The dry color is quite green. The aroma is grassy, with a hint of veggies. Feels very full and rich in the mouth, even with a small sip. Very green in style, with grass and straw flavors but not the spice I usually see in an oolong. Clean and balanced in style with a bit of astringency but not a hint of bitterness. Not overly complex. Long but modest finish.

I’m not a big fan of green teas, so this tea is on the wrong side of the oolong style spectrum for me. However, it is very well made and would be a good oolong for a fan of the greener style of oolong.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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77
drank Ceylon Pekoe by Tea At Sea
107 tasting notes

I haven’t had much luck with Ceylon teas in the past, largely I think because they are relatively simple compared to the Darjeeling and Chinese blacks I usually drink. Still, I took advantage of Tea at Sea’s generous offer of free sample in hopes that maybe this would be the one.

The aroma in the cup wasn’t strong but held hints of malt and vanilla; a promising start. However, I couldn’t fine those flavors in the taste: just a relatively straightforward breakfast tea style. Not bad, but not the sort of tea I crave.

Thanks again to Tea at Sea for the sample

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec 1 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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78

Welcome to phase 2 of Monkey Monday. This tea has a nice grassy nose. The taste is more straw than grass. I’m not a fan of veggie-flavored tea, so like this one. It has a good mouth-feel and finish.

This is a good, solid tea, but doesn’t really stand out in the crowd. I probably wouldn’t purchase.

Thanks to Little Red Cup for the sample. BTW: as someone who owned a copy of Chairman Mao’s Little red book in college, I love the company’s playful name :)

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML

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87
drank Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavana
107 tasting notes

Welcome to Monkey Monday

I’m sorry, but when I was doing sipdowns this weekend, I realized that I had a number of small samples of teas with the word “Monkey” in the name, and "monkey Monday is so much more alliterative than Monkey Saturday, so I brought several of them to work to drink down today.

So, on to the tea: The aroma is earthy with hints of cocoa. The taste isn’t terribly strong, but that may be due to the low density of the tea (I usually weigh my tea but don’t have a scale at work, so guestimate with a tea-spoon. The tea is very smooth and blends nicely into a medium-length finish that has the same flavors as the taste.

I tend to require complexity for a high score in a tea. This tea is reasonably complex, but is a bit more restrained than I would like. Still, a very good tea overall.

I had about half a cup in the teapot that I let steep for several extra minutes. This second cup was quite a bit stronger, as one would expect, but lost the cocoa nuance and had more of the earthy flavor, which i didn’t like as well.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML

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82
drank Keemun Mao Fang by Art of Tea
107 tasting notes

I’ve been too lazy to write up tasting notes, but it’s too cold to go outside today, so I’ll write some notes.

This is a sample I bought on BF. I’m a big fan of Keemun, so was looking forward to this tea, but this tastes more like a Yunnan to me. It is a cross between a leafy, forest floor taste and chocolate, with only a bit of smoke hiding under the other flavors. The tea is well-made, but I’d prefer more smoke.

As the tea cooled, it became somewhat bitter. Overall, a bit of a disappointment. However, the last time I drank this tea I saw enjoyed it more. My rating is an average of the two scores

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

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97

An aptly named tea: truly a delight!

1st steep: Lovely stone-fruit smell with hints of honey and orange marmalade. The aroma is so good that I just smell the tea, not bothering to drink it! The taste is soft and full and continues the stone fruit flavors with an earthy undercurrent. The taste seems to grow in the mouth, leading to a very good, very long finish. The flavors changed subtly as the tea cooled, but in no way diminished in quality.

This is the way tea is meant to be. I should probably give this a score of 100, but the earthy flavors contain a hint of bitterness, and the stone fruit doesn’t carry all the way through the finish. Also, the cup finished with some bitterness.

2nd steep: Same basic flavors but more subdued.

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

darjeelings don’t often tempt me but your review has….. hmmm.

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87
drank Himalayan Quest by Art of Tea
107 tasting notes

I’ve been remiss in logging teas. I’m trying to taste every tea I own (this is number 87) so I’m moving fast and taking brief notes. It’s now after Christmas and I can relax and enjoy some of my new tea.

This is one of my Black Friday teas, brewed with water from my Cuisinart temperature-controlled pot Christmas present, and it just seemed right to write up a note (particularly when I discovered that I’m the first reviewer.

The aroma from the fresh cup was really pleasant: a classic Darjeeling mix of stone fruit and leather. The taste had similar qualities. I really liked this tea, but as it cooled it became somewhat bitter in the finish, which was disappointing.

2nd steep: Nose is richer, with less fruit. The taste is still reasonably powerful but not as complex as the first steep. This time as the tea cooled the stone fruit came forward, but there was no bitterness. I may need to experiment with time and temperature for this tea.

A note on weight: Art of Tea doesn’t give weights for their samples, just saying “5-7 cups”. I bought a number of samples and most were at least 15 grams, which for me is more like 10 cups. I was happy to get this much tea, and love the little tins that their samples come in.

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

i got the same kettle for my birthday in november. good to know about the art of tea too!

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84
drank Qing Pin by Yezi Tea
107 tasting notes

I’m sipping down the last of my samples from Yezi Tea

First steep(3 minutes): Rich aroma of damp forest. The flavor is more like old leather with undertones of chocolate and cedar. Very powerful, yet balanced and well integrated. Good finish.

The second steep was significantly less powerful, yet held all the same flavor components. It seemed more refined; almost like tasting a Bordeaux wine after a California Cabernet. I preferred the first steep, but only slightly.

This isn’t my favorite style of tea, but it was of such high quality that I enjoyed it a lot, so gave it a good score.

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

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78
drank turkish apple by Art of Tea
107 tasting notes

My black Friday shipment arrived yesterday and so I’ve started to enjoy the teas (I’m letting my wife put some of the teas away as Christmas presents but I couldn’t stand to wait for all of them).

This tea was a bit disappointing. I tried it first without any sweetener, and the only flavor was cinnamon. The aroma reminded me of the “Atomic Fireball” candies I used to eat as a kid, and that probably influenced my impressions, but I couldn’t taste any tea or apple: just the fireball.

I tried adding NutraSweet, and the sweetener brought out the apple flavor, but the cinnamon still overpowered the apple. This tea might work for someone who really likes cinnamon, but it isn’t for me.

Note added two months later. This time I liked the tea much better. The cinnamon dominated, but I accepted the tea for what it was: a cinamon tea. I also noticed that the cinnamon faded faster than the other flavors so the second and third steeps were much more balanced. The current rating is an average of 73 and 82.

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

Apple tea’s are really hard to get right I think.

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94
drank Li Shan Oolong Tea by Yezi Tea
107 tasting notes

I’ve been sipping down teas in anticipation of Black Friday, and decided it was time to try this sample from Yezi Tea. I used the entire 3 grams in 6 oz of water in a series of 60 second steeps.

1st steep: Nose is soft and spicy with hints of straw. Flavor is light and grassy with milky texture. Finish seems more powerful than the taste. As the tea cooled the flavor opened up and became quite buttery, but the spice disappeared.

2nd steep: the nose is more grass than straw, with just a hint of spice. A bit more powerful than the first steep. The first sip just exploded in my mouth: tremendous power! It has an incredibly rich mouth-feel, with flavors dominated by straw and grass, with undertones of spice. The taste transitions smoothly into a long, powerful finish.

3rd steep was less powerful than the second. Mildly spicy nose. Same flavors, but much less buttery texture in the mouth. Finish is still good, but not quite as good as the second steep.

Many thanks to Yezi Tea for providing the sample

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Profile

Bio

Retired engineer/physicist.
My ratings will usually be based on multiple tastings. Green and oolong teas are generally 3 grams of tea in 6 oz water for 1 minute. Black teas are 1.5 grams of tea in 6 oz water for 3-4 minutes.

My numerical ratings are all based on how much enjoyment I took from the tea. Since I prefer blacks and oolongs, they will receive higher scores. I also give a couple of extra points to decafs, just because I can drink them in the evening without staying up half the night. I don’t dislike flavored teas, but find that they lack the complexity of finer teas.

90-100 = superior, worth a high price
80-89 = Excellent. Will buy again
70-79 = Good tea, but probably won’t buy
60-69 = Nothing really wrong, but…
Below 60 = Wouldn’t drink again

Location

Massachusetts

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