489 Tasting Notes


Yay, I’m first to rate this one! All the more special considering that it’s the first loose tea I ever purchased (on january 30, 2012). The bagged teas that I drank before were mostly green teas and I wanted my first loose tea experience to be close to what I was used to. However, it took me a while to fully appreciate this tea. In fact, I left it alone for a few weeks, thinking I just don’t like Sencha. I never worried about steeping times with my bagged teas. I’d just leave the bag in the tea while I drank it. If I didn’t like it, I blamed it on the tea, not on the over-steeping. I followed the recommended brewing instructions for this loose tea, but I wasn’t too fond of the result. As for a second steeping, yuck! The tea kept giving, what I described as a muddy/dirty flavor. I suppose that’s supposed to be the bitterness? I never thought of it as bitter though.

After much research into ‘proper’ tea brewing techniques, I found one that gives me a really good result: Fill my (glazed) kyusu with two or three times as much tea as recommended and steep for 50 seconds with water at 165deg. I finally discovered what Unami must be! yummy

165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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Still really like this tea. Tried a second steeping this time (1st for 2min, second for 3min). The second cup isn’t as sweet, but the sweetness is still there. I like that it is muted the second time. Although I really like the sweet honey-like flavor, it could be too much of a good thing to have two strong cups of it in a row. I am particular about excess in scent and flavors. I need to try a gong-fu type session next time if I have the time to spend with it.

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I’ve already brewed up three of these cute little cakes, but this is the first time logging it. Puerh is one of my favorite teas, though I’ve only tried some four different ripe and three raw varieties. Of these, I have three favorites and this is one of them :) It’s the perfect size to brew in my Gaiwan; super convenient!

All previous ripe puerhs I’ve tried have been in loose leaf form. I realized after the first time brewing this, that a few-second rinse is not sufficient enough to open the leaves for a good first infusion. I did a 20 second rinse this time followed by the recommended 1 minute infusion. While the cake doesn’t open up fully the first time, it is enough to produce a flavorful cup. I really like the subtle first cup. It’s as if its preparing me for the experience. The next infusion I did for 10 seconds; the liquor becomes super dark almost immediately now that the leaves are open. The third infusion I did for 20 seconds, and it was slightly lighter in color than the second. The fourth I did for 30 and a fifth for 40. I obviously intend to play around some more with exact times. The package suggests 10seconds for all, but I havent tried that yet either. I find the third infusion of my current parameters to be a bit more flat (lacking in complexity of flavor) than the others. Then the flavor comes back. Here is a picture of the first three infusions. The light in the room wasn’t perfect to show the difference between the second two, but oh well :)


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I had never heard of Guayusa before I saw it on the Butiki site. I bought some out of curiosity and also hoping my husband might replace a few cups of coffee with it once in a while. This morning, I brewed it for the third time since I received it, while getting ready for class. I was short on sleep and had a quiz to look forward to, so I thought it would be a good choice. I also had it last week just before bedtime. It didn’t give me any lucid dreams as the rumors go, but it also didn’t keep me awake (it’s like magic!).

It brews up very dark, possibly green, but it looks black in my cup. The flavor is pleasant. It almost tastes like a good evening drink, being smooth, not bitter or astringent, a bit fruity. But the caffeine must have helped because I did not fall asleep in class ^^

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I’m totally loving this oolong. Very generous free sample when I bought a teapot from Enjoying Tea. It smells vegetal in the bag, but very roasty after brewing. I don’t like a strong roasted flavor (not a fan of dark-roast oolong or genmaicha), but the flavor of this is wonderful. It’s sweet and mildly roasty (I do like a pinch of roastiness).

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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Just got home from my advising appointment for next semester. Going to be taking Three German classes (taught in German) and one English class (taught in English, of course ^^). Its going to be a really busy Fall semester.

Brewed up some Watermelon Xylophone. Waiting for it to cool a bit, as recommended, for better flavor (we’ll see). I haven’t yet added sugar to my teas and I don’t have any right now anyway. I did try honey once, and that did not turn out well for me. I had a mouth full of pure toasty liquid honey on my last sip of the tea.

Well, I think its cooled down enough now. First impressions: smells faintly sweet, mildly of watermelon. I like that it doesn’t smell too strong to be overbearing or artificial. The first taste I can detect is the watermelon, immediately followed by the familiar flavor of white tea (I love white tea). It’s a weird sensation like putting the tip of my tongue on a sweet watermelon, but what actually passes over my tongue is white tea. I actually like this one a lot better than the Cantaloup cream, although I was thinking I might not as I prefer my watermelons to be cold too (^.^) I put off trying this one for a while because of the cantaloupe one. It might have been the cream flavor of the latter that really put me off, I don’t know for sure. I had another tea that seemed to have a creamy texture, but not with a fruit flavor and I liked it. Still havent tried enough teas and flavor combinations to decide what part of a blend I like or don’t like.

The cooler this tea gets, the sweeter it seems to become. I bet this would be a good iced brew too. Even though I don’t like cold drinks as much, I’m a lot more motivated to try brewing this one cold than I was for the cantaloup.

This was a free sample with my Butiki order, I might just have to order some more :p

ETA: I did end up ordering some more, mostly so I could share it with my parents (neither of them liked it). It doesn’t taste better iced IMO (but I am biased to hot tea, so take that as you will).

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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I tried this tea before I joined Steepster. I won’t be trying it again. I love ripe pu-erhs, though I’ve had some bad ones. However, it was the coconut that insulted me in this one. I just don’t get it though: I love coconut on my my cakes and pastries and in candy bars and chocolates, but liquid coconut flavor does not agree with me. I had another coconut tea that, while somewhat more tolerable than this one, was still not to my liking

The first sip of this tea tastes like pu-erh, The coconut is more of an aftertaste, so I thought I liked it at first. After 4 or 5 sips, however, I realized the nasty left over flavor and felt sick to my stomach. I drank a whole bunch of water and brewed a favorite blend right away to cure me.

Incidentally, my husband likes this tea. He doesn’t drink a lot of tea and he refuses to try plain Puerh because of the smell, but he liked this one.

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First a summary of my preferences:
*I love dark chocolate, not a fan of milk or white except as a pairing with something else
*I absolutely love the smell of cherry, artificial or not.
*I have yet to find a chocolate-only flavored tea that I’m crazy about
*I absolutely hate black forest pie (the one with the cherries and chocolate). . .go figure, but something about putting the cherries in there produces a chemical-like flavor that, apparently, only I can detect.

Yes, my taste-preferences are contradictory. But I am that way about a lot of things ;)

So, as for this Chocolate Cherry Bomb tea. I bought a sample for my husband, more so than for me. He loves cherry and not as sensitive to flavor peculiarities as me. But I always try any thing I get for him too because, why not?

So today is Easter. We don’t have children, but we don’t want to miss out on the childish fun of the holidays, so we always give a small basket to each other on Easter. Mine had a box of chocolates, See’s candies (the only chocolates worth buying lol). What a perfect time to brew up a dessert tea, I thought. It was soooo worth it. Seriously, you all have to have this tea with a piece of chocolate and remember to convince yourself that its not a sin. haha.

It has a very smooth, almost creamy texture like a hot chocolate (as far as a tea can be anyway) and the blend of chocolate and cherry comes out absolutely perfect. Neither overpowers the other.

Yay for trying my husband’s samples. (^o^)

Apparently, this tea only tastes good when I’ve been eating chocolates (which probably adds to the perceived creaminess). By itself, it’s not so great. However, as far as chocolate teas go, this is one of the better ones.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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I don’t like a lot of oolongs, but this is one of the exceptions. It’s very sweet, like honey, and not too floral for me. I can’t stand strong florals at all. I don’t know what different flavors subsequent steepings might yield, however. I’ve just done boiling (195deg where I live) for 4 minutes. The previous time I had this tea, I did a 5 minute steeping and it was about the same.

ETA: I’ve completely lost my taste for this oolong (the last tasting note indicated my declining preference). The honey notes that I thought I loved are making me queasy, and not just in this tea. I have a similar reaction to strong honey notes in many other teas too. so strange to suddenly develop this response. oh well. My mother absolutely loves this tea, so I gave the rest of mine to her.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Drinking this tea now, doing some homework. I read through the previous reviews for this tea and, wow, what a lot of discrepancy. Some say it’s woody, earthy, not woody, more like a green, more like a white, etc. Well, here’s my own take on it: It’s very grassy and vegetal to me. Much like a Japanese Sencha, but not as finicky about brew time and temperature. I feel that it has a bit of the Japanese-defined unami flavor. But now I have to wonder if all the batches are consistent, given the variation in reviews. As it is for my batch, I really like it.

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Name: Shelley Lorraine Limegrover
Location: Colorado
Occupation: Graduate Student and Evil Genius
Ward: 2 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 >-)

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?. . .).



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