471 Tasting Notes

85

I did it, I braved another sample. This one is from Shmiracles again (it’s the never-ending box (^^) ). I’m getting to the point where I have to talk myself into getting into my sample box rather than going for the old favorites. All that work to heat the water and dirty up an infuser or teapot not knowing if it’ll be a cup worth drinking. . . especially considering how little time I have to devote to my tea rituals. . . it takes courage! and today I found some ヽ(^。^)丿

And what do you know, for the second time in a row, a sample turned out to be fantastic! I was worried about this one as it had so many so-so reviews, but at least nothing too negative. So I brewed it up and watched my second ever episode of Dr. Who (I actually sat down for the full 45 minutes this time! I know, No way right?)

I like this one quite a bit. The dry leaves smell so yummy and the final flavor doesn’t disappoint. I like the tea base in this and I like that the fruity apple flavor isn’t so strong to cover it up. I am always a fan of subtle flavor.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Shmiracles

i love this! i’m still struggling with this tea, but you quickly made it your pet! hoorah!
i can totally relate to your sample box dulldrums. i think we all may have gone overboard a little. (we sure know how to tea party!) (i figure i’ll feel a bit daunted and challenged at times, but in the end i’ll be very glad for all the experience.)
also, maybe i psychically channeled Doctor Who interest into the tea? i do have a desk tardis and some bowties for cosplay…
have you started the series from the beginning? (i’ll go back and read your recent posts to see what i can find.)
your post made me happy.

Shelley_Lorraine

hey now we didn’t go overboard. You went and piled up the mystery swaps on yourself after I went on hiatus from orders and swaps! You were also so generous to send me extra samples, warning me that they include some teas that no one should drink so that every time I pull one out I have to wonder if its one of those teas. lol. I’ll tell you what, it’s that warning that makes me scared to dig into that box too often (^o^)

Shelley_Lorraine

And what’s this? you aren’t keeping up with my posts. how rude! haha j/k. The Dr. Who thing started when I asked in a comment to you what the big Dr. Who deal was on Steepster. The rest is indeed explained in previous tasting notes. That’ll learn you for not keeping up :p

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85

Shmiracles sent me the never-ending box of samples. It’s like a bowl of spaghetti that doesn’t get smaller no matter how much I eat! haha.

There are many left in there that I haven’t been brave enough to try yet, but this one didn’t look too scary.

I don’t know what Osmanthe is supposed to taste like, but this tea doesn’t taste too far off from most of the other floral oolongs I’ve had. The floral isn’t too overwhelming, but i wish there was more vegetal flavor too. Nonetheless, this is a pretty good Oolong and worth the full-size mug that I brewed it in.

Update: as this tea cools, the texture gets creamier. Quite lovely.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85

trying to fit in a cup of tea before I leave to see my piano teacher for a short rehearsal. So hard to find quality tea-time ;_;

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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When this tea arrived in the mail, the envelope smelled like diesel fuel. I’ve had a package or two in the past the smelled like it traveled under a truck rather than in one, so I wasn’t too surprised, but I was concerned about how this would affect the flavor of the tea. The envelope was not as well sealed as it could have been, leaving room for debris to potentially enter at the edges. I transferred this tea to another container and put off sampling it for a while because I was afraid of how it might be after such a journey.

I used all 8g that I received and brewed in a gaiwan (I don’t have a yixing pot yet!)

Wet leaves after 10s rinse smell like spinach and dirt

1st infusion 10s: first cup brews golden yellow. Taste is vegetal (like spinach) and mineral; also bitter and astringent.

2nd infusion 15s: brews slightly darker than before. Smells more earthy and less vegetal. taste is more bitter and astringent than before, masking the other flavors. But not so much so to be unbearable. There is something citrus and possibly floral, but it could just be the tartness making it seem so.

3rd infusion 20s: So bitter! I hope it gets better as the other reviews have suggested.

4th infusion 25s: less bitter (thank goodness!) but mineral flavor dominates. I’m really not too fond of strong mineral flavor in my teas, so I’m not enjoying this too much so far. there is some other earthy flavor lingering in the aftertaste, but I can’t describe it precisely.

5th infusion 35s: more bitter again, still mineral flavor. I don’t know where the rest of you are getting the other flavor notes that you describe. Maybe my tea really was affected in transit. I just don’t feel much like steeping this one anymore.

I’ve had a couple other green pu-erhs and there were sweeter and not so bitter. Maybe this one is better suited for aging rather than immediate consumption.

EDIT:
Nicholas just sent me a rather novel-ish response to my review, concerned that my opinions will affect the reputation of his tea and asked that I might edit my review. While I appreciate his concern and the time taken to write and to answer previous questions of mine, I feel that his “concern” was unnecessarily accusatory. I realize that my novice tea brewing skills as well as the poor packaging of the tea affected my review of it, so I did not give this tea a numbered rating because I knew that wouldn’t be fair. I gave my honest opinion and I don’t see how I can ‘edit’ my personal experience with this tea other than to note his suggestions for improvement so that the rest of you won’t make my mistakes:

Water temperature: He suggested that I used the wrong temperature of water and said that he took an effort to instruct us how not to ruin the tea so that this wouldn’t happen. He said I should have used cooler water (I actually never said what temperature I used, so I don’t know how he should know). No where in the original instructions did it say so. this is quoted from the instructions: "The water temperature of 195 degrees (F) boiling, or just boiled, water is preferred. Unlike Green teas and other delicate tea leaves, Pu’er has the strength to endure boiling or very hot water. "

The reply I just got says “Spring water at about 180 degrees, not boiling, will be most suitable for a green pu’er”

Admittedly, I found it difficult at times to distinguish when the original instructions referred to sheng or shu or green puerh. It was not clear and even contradictory in a few places. Still, absolutely nowhere other than the quote above did it mention water temperature. Also, if this green puerh is to be treated like a green tea, then why did I receive such lengthy instructions on how to brew shu or aged puerh?

Water type: he says "As for the mineral taste, perhaps the water you used caused this. " I have a water filter attached to my faucet and if the tea should be so ruined by my filtered water, then I don’t know what else to do.

Steeping time: I am now told that: " Soaking the tea for more than a second or two its first steepings takes the good out of the tea and you end up with several steepings more of already-injured leaves." Original instructions: “The first wash should simply be 5 seconds or so. Whereas the second can be as much as 10.” so sure, I did more than 5, but the instructions also say “Steeping times: This is a wonderful example of when personal preference plays a role.” And I have always done my first pu-erh rinses this way and I liked them quite fine.

Amount of leaf: I learn now that “8 grams is far too much for one sitting of Pu’er, no matter how big your pot or what kind of preparations you are using. We usually recommend starting with 2 grams to 4-5 grams…anything more will only make an astringent tea”
Original instructions: “If fewer people, it is best to use around 5 to 9 grams, for many people 15 grams is perfect.”

I get the impression that the original instructions sent were generic. If there were different or special considerations to give this green pu-erh, they should have been noted and the superfluous information omitted.

UPDATE 5/24: All confusions have been cleared up and all is well between Misty Peak and myself. I am still not certain what was up with the original erroneous instruction, but hopefully those of you who haven’t brewed it yet will see this review and know how to get the best out of your samples.

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100

Backlog:
I don’t know what it is, but ever since summer break started for me, I feel like there is less time in the day than before, and I don’t even have homework to do! I can rarely brew tea and actually sit down with it. I am up and down doing house chores or tending the dogs and cats or running errands. I think chores are inventing themselves now that I have time for them.

I brewed a cup of this yummy kukicha, determined to force a proper break on myself. My husband watched Top Gear during his lunch break and I left the television on after he left and I went to the grocery store. When I came back, I brewed this tea and sat down on the couch, planning to change the channel at first. But I was curious about what was already on. It was Dr. Who!

I commented somewhere recently (somewhere on Shmiracles log I think) that I am not a Dr. Who fan as it seems so many steepsterites are. There was some strange show on the TV a few years ago and after watching it for 5 or 10 minutes, I asked my husband what it was and he said that it was Dr. Who. He also said that he wasn’t a big fan of the series (I think he refers to the older/original shows that his mother liked to watch). I don’t know exactly what episode was playing, but I think it might have been part of the 1996 movie. Whatever it was seemed creepy weird in an x-files sort of way (and I am not a fan of that type of sci fi). Since my husband didn’t have a a gloating recommendation for it, I never considered watching any more and wrote it off as an “other people” show.

Thanks to leaving the TV on after my husbands guy-tv lunch break, I discovered that I might actually enjoy Dr. Who. I added the 2005+ series to my Netflix cue and had time to watch half of the first episode before my break had to be cut short for more chores. Stupid chores! and stupid OCD that wont let me leave them be!

But lovely tea. I will always remember Kukicha now as my Dr. Who tea (^^) and now I wonder if I should watch some of the older shows too…

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Kittenna

Hahaha, I love associations like that! I have a couple… although they aren’t coming to mind at the moment.

Shelley_Lorraine

And just so fitting that I should associate a Japanese tea with a British program :p

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15

I brought this sample from Shmiracles over to my parents house and shared small cups with everyone. I was really excited to try a coffee pu-erh as I’ve had my eye on a few from other companies for a while. I didn’t know this had other flavors in it too, so we were all surprised by the caramel flavor. I was hoping I’d detect some coffee notes, but I did not. For the most part, I don’t like sweet/dessert flavored shu pu-erh. The unique earthy mushroom qualities really don’t seem a good match for most sweet flavors. There has been only one sweet flavored pu-erh that I liked (just a little). it tasted like the original dentine gum and hardly like pu-erh at all. I think that’s the only way a sweet pu-erh can work for me: the flavor has to completely mask the pu-erh. Otherwise, sugary mushroom flavor just makes me feel nauseous.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Shmiracles

basically if you ask me, the david’s pu-erhs that i sent you are the ones that nobody should be drinking. (except chocolate orange. that one is pretty tasty.)
but if someone told me that, i’d still wanna taste them. curiosity always gets me hah.

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75

I just realized that I haven’t been adhering to the recommended brew temperature. I was brewing this like most oolongs at ~195-200. I did try a shorter steeping this time. I did 2min30sec this time for 3 tsp of leaves in a 20oz pot.

It is sweet now without the musty characteristic from before. I wish the sweetness was more pronounced though. I might up the rating after I try a 170deg steeping, we’ll see.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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85

After surviving that last batch of samples, I needed to reward myself with a trusted tea so that i could be all (*^◇^)_旦

I sure hope the new Irish Breakfast blend is just as good!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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45
drank Caramel by Kusmi Tea
471 tasting notes

Oh gee, look at all the fancy ratings for this one!! There must be something wrong with mine. What’d you do to it Shmiracles?! lol j/k (^^)

This tastes like a cheap bagged tea with artificial funky caramel flavor. Yuck!

It’s drinkable, but definitely not to my standards.

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

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I sum this one up best as a burley man tea. It’s definitely reminiscent of Thorin, but not the tea for me. Thanks anyway Shmiracles!

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

perhaps it’s like drinking beards!
ah perfection a dwarf can appreciate.

Shelley_Lorraine

are you a dwarf?

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Profile

Bio

Name: Shelley Lorraine Limegrover
Location: Wyoming
Occupation: Student and Evil Genius
Ward: 3 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, 1 Cocker spaniel, 1 super cranky but lovable siamese cat, one bipolar black turkish angora, and my husband’s black and white cat.

Hobbies: Learning, reading books, math, physics (have a degree in it), literature (have a degree in it too), anthropology, traveling, piano, and making TEA, of course (^o^)

Future plans: World domination >-)
Graduate school for Comparative literature (in German, Latin, and Greek) – Update: I’m going to the University of Colorado in Fall 2014!! yay me!

Favorite teas: Kukicha, Green teas in general, aged oolongs, charcoal roasted oolong, taiwanese oolongs, Assam . . .

Don’t like: Genmaicha, Earl Grey, Darjeelings, ginger, coconut, smokey teas (even mild ones), nut flavors, overwhelmingly strong floral flavor (esp. Jasmine), most della derra and adagio teas. . .

My Rating System

100 My happiness absolutely depends on it

95 Will definitely repurchase

85: Might repurchase (teas that depend on my mood)

75 Won’t repurchase (but I would drink it again if offered).

65: meh

45: I reluctantly finished a cup.

15: Couldn’t finish a cup.

I simplified my ratings to single numbers rather than ranges because I can’t precisely compare so many teas with a system more detailed than this.

An unrated tea is most often one that I recognize as having significant notable quality, but that does not suit me personally. Sometimes, I leave teas unrated for other reasons, such as I am undecided or I brewed it wrong, etc.

Note: Boiling temp. barely reaches 200 where I am (and a few times it sticks at 195, I assume due to unexplainable shifts in altitude or the position of the moon. . .aliens?. . .).

Location

Wyoming

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