501 Tasting Notes
I gave this tea another go, as I sometimes like to do with teas that have unique characteristics that don’t immediately turn me away. Last time, I had trouble detecting what part of the tea was the flavor and what part was the base. This time around, it seemed blatantly obvious. I think it’s because I’ve had a lot of different black teas (flavored and unflavored) recently, that differences stand out stronger now. I didn’t drink so many black teas in the beginning of my tea journeys, so it has taken some time to get familiar with them, but I’m far from an expert on any type of tea.
Unfortunately, the tamarind flavor didn’t agree with me this time and I didn’t finish my cup (thought I drank most of it). Oh well.
My Mantra Tea order came with two samples of bagged tea. This was one of them.
The leaves were crushed up some to be suitable for a tea bag, but is available to buy in loose form.
This is a very delicate and sweet green tea, quite the opposite from heavier astringent vegetal greens that I usually have. I really love the flavor of this one, but wish that it was stronger. I would probably use more leaf than provided in the tea bag to obtain better flavor.
It looks like this tea is not available for sale on Mantra’s Etsy site, but it is on the main site.
I finally bough myself some of this tea after enjoying a swap sample from GiggleGoddess.
The huckleberry flavor seems a lot more fresh and sweet than before. The base isn’t as malty and bold as I remembered, but it still comes through nicely.
ETA: The black base is indeed a touch bitter and astringent as my husband described (see first note), but it is hardly noticeable while the tea is still hot. This is also when the huckleberry flavor comes through the best IMO.
So far, I’m not having any luck with sheng puerhs. Only once did I ever have an aged sheng that I really liked. Young sheng has been too bitter and heavy on the mineral notes for me. This aged one is not bitter at all and the flavor is best described as earthy, but still not quite to my liking. The one aged sheng that I liked was only a couple of years older than this one and I got it from the Bana Tea Co. as a free sample with another purchase. I don’t know exactly which one it was or if it was aged in loose or compressed form, but maybe that makes the difference?
As I’ve been doing a lot lately, I brewed tea to share with my parents and sister. My father wanted coffee, but he sampled some of this from my mother’s cup and said it was a superb tea but that he didn’t think that my mother was going to like it. My mother tries it and immediately associates it with “tea brewed in the environment of diesel trucks and manly stuff,” not as an insult to the tea so much as an affirmation that it is definitely my father’s kind of tea more-so than hers. Nevertheless, she finished her cup, asking only that I provide her with a couple of tea cookies to help it go down :)
My little sister claims to love every tea I have ever given her with the exception of Lapsang Souchong. She gave the thumbs up to this one too, but she traded with my father for his coffee half way through her cup.
I gave the rest of the bag of tea to my father, where it will be much better appreciated.
This is a pretty good fruit blend. So far, I’ve preferred strong hibiscus flavored blends, while other fruit tisanes have been too artificially sweet or too heavy on berry flavor (which makes me feel sick).
This tea contains hibiscus, but it does not take over. The apple comes through as well as a cherry-like flavor, though it doesn’t list cherry in the ingredients.
It’s not a stellar cup, but it’s worth drinking again.
My parents were supposed to have been on the road with the Uhaul a few days ago, but it is taking them longer than expected to get all packed up. Most of their house is empty now and the TV is all packed up, so they came to my house to have an evening break and watch some Stargate SG1.
I brewed this tea for my mother and sister, a different tea for myself, and coffee for my father and my husband. As my last note indicates, I brought this tea for them to sample a few nights ago. That time, I brewed it according to the package instructions for 1min30sec. This time, I was too busy serving people to be careful about brewing instructions. I steeped it for 3min. My mother didn’t recognize the tea at first and she let my father sample from her cup. He said it wasn’t bad (he didn’t like it last time and he has never liked any green tea or jasmine tea). So I was thinking, hey, this longer steep time must make a difference and I tried it for myself just now (for 2min30sec). And hey, what do you know, I like it better this way too! It’s much creamier and the pine needle flavor that is supposed to be reserved for second steepings is probably affecting the flavor too, though I don’t recognize it specifically. The jasmine flavor was obviously jasmine in a shorter steep, now it is more of a general sweet flavor that doesn’t give away it’s source without some contemplation.
Never fails to amaze me how a few seemingly trivial parameters can make such a big difference.
Hmm, I’m confused about this one. It does not smell or taste like a charcoal roasted oolong. It’s seems extremely similar to an oriental beauty and if it is, then its a really good one (and that means something as I am not a big fan of oriental beauty). However, the leaves for this are tightly rolled unlike those of oriental beauty, so I dunno what to make of it.
Either I got the wrong tea in the package or this is a style of roasting that I am completely unfamiliar with. At any rate, it is a good tea, whatever it is! :D
I just did a second steep for 45seconds (first was 1min15sec) and the flavor is significantly different than the first steep. I can now recognize the characteristics of a roasted oolong, but still not as strong as I thought it would be. In the first steep, I didn’t detect any of the smoky notes that it is supposed to have. I only detected honey with a hint of floral, much like oriental beauties I have had before, but it had a distinct nutty attribute that made it different. The second steep brings out hints of all that I expect from a heavier roast, but they are not all in-your-face.
I wouldn’t mind having more of this tea in my cupboard, but quality teas are pricey and I am saving my funds for Mantra Tea’s über-awesome Ruby Black. We’ll see how disciplined I am with my money when the time to order comes around :p
I brewed this again today, just as I said I would. I followed these steeping guidelines posted on the Mantra Tea website:
water temp 95C
2nd 30 sec
3rd 60 sec
4th 120 sec
I stopped at 4 steeps.
The 70sec steep produced a decadently sweet cup. The sweetness came through like raw cane sugar and caramel, though the floral notes from whence they likely came were still on the nose.
The 30sec steep brought the roast flavor into full effect, but not so much as to drown out the flavors from the first steep
The last two steeps lost most of the sweetness, but added hints of mineral as do all teas when I steep them more than twice, but they were not as strong as I am used to in a 3+ steeping.
I liked this tea a lot more this time around, but only for the first two steeps. I would be very unlikely to try for more in the future. I think my perfect cup would be a single steep in a mug for about 2 min (when I brewed this yesterday, I did it for 3 minutes).
I’ve had two tieguanyin teas before, both of the very green variety. I didn’t know that iron goddess was traditionally a roasted oolong until now.
The flavors of this one are quite different from other roasted oolongs that I have had. I am quite fond of super dark charcoal roasted oolongs and haven’t yet decided where this fits in with my personal preferences.
To better explain the character of this tea, I will relate to you my family members’ responses:
My husband hasn’t yet liked any roasted oolong that I have served him. He can’t stand the smell of them and says that the flavors are only slightly better. I gave him a sample of this Iron Goddess tea, not at all expecting a positive response, but was surprised when he told me that he gives it a rating of “90.” Really, I don’t get it. I mean, it’s different, but not that different, from the other teas that he has tried. . .
My mother, who has a liking for most roasted oolongs, said that she can detect some floral notes through the roasted flavors and that it was a very nice change of pace from what she is used to.
My father and I are about the same in our preference for a heartier roast, but we both enjoyed this tea. I am going to brew the rest in my gaiwan tomorrow and get to know it better before deciding if it will be a repurchase.
I was trying to decide which of my Mantra Tea samples to brew first, and this is the one I picked. I’m taking the Iron Goddess to share with my family later this evening.
Onto the tea:
This is an exceptional black tea. I’ve had a ruby black before, but it was not like this one. I don’t at all have the tea vocabulary and trained palate to describe it properly, but I can say for sure that you all have to try this! It’s not bitter and astringent, but I certainly wouldn’t call it a delicate black either. It’s so smooth! I can definitely detect the woody flavor noted in the description as well as a a sweetness that I don’t recognize as orchid, but it could be. I’m also not picking up specifically on notes of peppermint and cinnamon, but I can definitely see how this tea would be a good match for an afternoon tea cake that includes these flavors. This tea is definitely going on my re-order list :)