119 Tasting Notes

82
drank Russian Morning No. 24 by Kusmi Tea
119 tasting notes

Never been a fan of tahini, always choosing the hummus that has the lowest amount of it, but that changed when I tasted a ‘craft’ tahini at this year’s veg fest in DC… “Soom” Tahini (from Philly) was sampling theirs at a booth and the flavor just floored me: it was superb, malty/roasty/nutty, and almost sweet. Delicious right off the spoon!

So I picked up a jar as a treat for my sis-in-law, who’s Israeli, but then she confessed she’d never use it so it sat on my counter for a few months just taking up space as I mulled over who else might enjoy it. Yesterday I said whatever, opened the jar and spread it on toast with my favorite local honey. OMG so good, and it’s mine. This morning it went on toast with fig butter, another Win.

So about this tea. Trying to clear out my ‘just pretty good’ teas since I don’t have enough space, pulled out the Russian Morning planning to flavor it with a little brewed Vanilla Commoro left in the fridge last night. Went a little heavier on the leaves and steeped it longer, about 4 minutes, and found it tastes great plain – - so boosting my rating and the Commoro goes back in the fridge. Plus, ends up it is a surprisingly perfect accompaniment to my new breakfast toast. If I ever open a bed & breakfast, this tea/toast combo goes in the rotation, no question!

(Good flavor for one steep only.)

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81

Nosegasm. More than the visceral “mmmm!” that spontaneously accompanies an exploratory inhale of a new tea, this was actually an “ooooh!” I think this is my highest rating ever for the brewed fragrance of a tea. Seriously as much as I wanted to taste it I was impelled to just continue inhaling it for a minute. In a sublime zen-pleasure kind of way.

Ok, moving on … I wanted to compare this to another Fujian today, Teavivre’s Bailin Gongfu. Brewed both at 3 minutes at recommended temps and quantities.

The Bailin Gongfu was more chewy and caramelly, and had a bit of a lychee note. The WP Fujian was more malty. Where the BG was chocolatey, the WP is a cocoa nib (as Dinosara noted) or much darker chocolate, as well as a noticeably lighter flavor and mouthfeel. The slight smokey note of the BG was absent in this one.

Both evolve well both with cooling down and on the second steep, though the BG held more flavor on the latter. The BG has a longer, richer aftertaste with a bit more astringency to it.

The WP Fujian maintains a malty, cocoa nose while the BG has as a bit of what I can only identify as a whisper of earl grey fragrance that I find in some non- earl grey teas. Why does that bergamotish perfume appear when i’m not expecting it?

Side by side tastings would’ve been a good move but I ended up brewing them sequentially by the cup to keep it simpler. Next time!

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90

A generous sample from Tao Tea Leaf that I’m delighted to have received because it is so good. I’ve actually only rated a few teas this high. It has a fairly rich flavor and extra smooth and satisfying mouth feel. Deep fruit notes, apricot and lychee. Since I don’t sweeten my teas, when I run across one like this that’s naturally sweet it is extra special. Honey-ish sweetness but softer and smoother than honey. Compared to this tea, honey seems tart. It’s a beautiful flavor, not a lot of complex notes but more like beautifully harmonic chords. I’m putting this in my favorites box for times when I can use a flavor-smile.

The second steep had a consistent flavor profile though far more subtle than the first.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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75
drank Palm Court by Harney & Sons
119 tasting notes

Boosting my rating for this one by 10 points, which is a first since my palate stays pretty consistent… so I’m getting on board with Brittany’s observation that this tea changes from one brew session to another.

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83
This has a lot of flavor and smooth richness, a high quality black tea. It has a dense layering of flavors, ripe peach, some honey and malt, and breadiness and a medium, not dark, broth. If only it had a little less of a perfumey bergamot-like note in the mix. If the rest of the description sounds good and you like bergamot, you will probably have found a true favorite in this tea, because it is really delightful. I enjoyed it even though I dislike strong bergamot, so that says a lot for this tea!

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75
drank Palm Court by Harney & Sons
119 tasting notes

A bit seductive that this is the tea served at such an upscale NY hotel, and it was recommended at the Harney store, but it’s my least favorite of their teas that I’ve tried. To me, it lacks interesting flavor, kind of, as Marlena mentioned, bland. I like the concept of blending different types of teas together, but it just fell flat in the cup.

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75
drank Gui Fei Oolong by Green Terrace Teas
119 tasting notes

This is the second bitten-leaf tea I tried from Green Terrace, and I loved the other, Eastern Beauty, rating it one of the best teas I’ve had. Not so much a fan of this one, though. Brewed aroma is a nice honeysuckle that somewhat carries through to the flavor, however I am finding the flavor to be somewhat thin. Plus it has a fair amount of astringency.

Writing this review in exchange for Green Terrace’s “Tea for Reviews” sample offer, so I regret not being able to write a more positive review but have to be straight with my fellow Steeps. I did also love the 3rd sample I tried, Li Shan Black, review forthcoming, so overall I am definitely glad to have had the sampling opportunity from Green Terrace.

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88
drank Eastern Beauty by Green Terrace Teas
119 tasting notes

I didn’t want the first steep to end. So enjoyable. I think CameronB nailed it with golden raisin, and to that I’d add cooked golden raisin, maybe simmered in a very light rum then baked into one of those slightly custardy raisin croissants, only not that sweet. A bit of malt and very faint dried apricot. But not that sweet. Almost umami. Smooth with just the faintest passing astringency.

2nd steep (Western) is quite a bit weaker and picks up a bit of fresh apple.

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83
drank Silver Needle by Adagio Teas
119 tasting notes

This was a surprise in a package from Queen of Tarts, and a good one. It is smooth and gentle without being wishy-washy. There’s a clear, sweet honeysuckle note that surprised me, as if it were a jasmine white but softer and sweeter. It all comes together well and is peace-inducing.

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91
drank Yunnan White Jasmine by Verdant Tea
119 tasting notes

This. Tea.

I think I got a dopamine or endorphin spike from this!

Delicious, fresh, smooth, elegantly complex because the jasmine is perfectly toned. As Dinosara said, “juicy.” If you are looking for a lift, drink this. If you want to be self-indulgent, drink this. If you want to make someone you care about feel well-cared for, make them a cup.

Giving this my highest rating of about 100 teas rated so far.

Flavors: Caramel, Honeysuckle, Jasmine

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Bio

Strong preference for exploring teas au naturel, and unflavored (except for unprocessed ingredients, e.g., cocoa shells/nibs, vanilla beans, flowers, fruits…). Favorites lean in the direction of rich caramelly, malty blacks, any puerh, fresh floral oolongs and whites that have some dimension.

I am always up for swaps.

Beyond the experience of tea, I’m interested in exploring its medicinal aspects. Other interests … yoga, creative veggie cooking, environmental issues, animal welfare, music/guitar, lefty politics, preventive health/nutrition, biking, swimming, foosball, photography.

Here’s how I rate ’em:

95+: euphoria-inducing, le petite mort
91-94: extraordinary, exhilarating
85-90: delicious
81-84: definitely enjoyable
75-80: good, solid stuff
65-74: I’ll drink it, but without enthusiasm
45-64: something redeeming about it, but not much
31-44: just barely drinkable

Location

Metro DC

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