374 Tasting Notes

76

okay, i really need to review my personal standpoint on stubbornness. i did this tea SUCH a disservice yesterday. overleafed, oversteeped…… i wonder if admitting that and having the brilliant new fancy kettle permits me to buy teas i might have muddled….? lol. ah, life is full of justifications for loose leafers!

WHEN IT’S DONE RIGHT and you aren’t being a know-it-all-jerk (that would be me i’m talking about)this tea is: light and sweet. almonds, but not marzipan. reminds me very much of amaretto the alcohol. if you OVERLEAF it it will come across much more like amaretto but with a harsh acrid bitter kick. which i totally deserved. …. ……. …….. i might have put in 2 tbsp. …. ……… and left it for 6 minutes. possibly. lol.

light, sweet. very smooth! i’m not used to ceylons (heh heh, the sci-fi dork in me wants to say cylons) being so agreeable! the tea base is warm and round on its own, separate from the flavour level. it gives me a light amber flavour, though a darker colour steep.

very nice.

back to lab 5. we’ll see how up to date my human geography professor is with sex ed is in sub saharan africa. i think my analysis may catch him a tad offguard, lol. but i always get good marks. partly because i citation him to death.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
OMGsrsly

Yes! Cite everything! One of my friends is marking for a first year class, and it’s an automatic D if they don’t cite. You wouldn’t believe (or maybe you would) how many students don’t cite their sources. :/

JustJames

we have three pages of citations. for a lab. it makes it much harder to argue with us. our information is rock solid…. if he disagrees with our opinions or my somewhat shocking analysis then that’s a different thing, but our numbers and our data are BACKED UP.

(hmmmm….) we’re evaluating the 5 best and 5 worst countries for child under 5 mortality and i stumbled onto a fascinating piece of information…… not sure i should reveal it here, but i don’t think he’s expecting it.

my lab partner and i like to be bullet proof. =0)

OMGsrsly

Awesome. :)

JustJames

nothin’ like a PAIR of bullet proof smarta…. well you know how that word ends. =0)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

91
drank Jardin Bleu by Dammann Freres
374 tasting notes

ah! my first birthday review! i’ve been 38 for a whole half a day and nothing….. i feel no different. then again, it’s always like that =0)

after last year (when my mother bought me a huge amount of wine most of which is still kicking around our kitchen) i went out on a limb and discussed with her the concept of going a different direction this year: if she really wanted to pour a couple hundred dollars into beverages in honour of my birthday, could we go with something that I like? please? are you imagining me tap dancing dear friends? can you imagine how dicey that conversation that might have been? she laughed, said that if i wanted my GRANNY’S habit indulged she SUPPOSED she could. granny? really? what part of tea says senior citizen? i mean i’d have thought she could have gone for grampa at least….

anyway, as always, i digress!!! when the box from dammann freres arrived my mother could have called me anything she wanted. the smells drifting up from the box after i carefully opened it! berry and biscuit, chocolate and nuts….. separate blends that somehow all played together happily; separate but still comprising a mutual fan club. this one was the first of my day….. i sipped it in a daze on the way to school. what a way to wake up on your birthday!

this in my cup with music that was likely way too loud, smile wrapped around my head two times. i worked all weekend on a lab that i only got half done until i ran it by my prof who said i could stop with what i had because i had done so impressively much. it’s been a good birthday so far!

sushi coming up for dinner, new kettle kettle humming in the background…. a buffet of spoiled boy teas to chose from. why is it i shouldn’t like birthdays again?

my wife refuses to try this tea…. though she says she might consider wearing it as a perfume. =0)

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec
caile

Happy birthday!

JustJames

=0) thank you! it’s a good day to be 38!!!

ifjuly

Yay, happy bday!

JustJames

=0) what better way than to celebrate with friends?

Fjellrev

Happy happy birthday!

JustJames

thank you! they wrote ‘happy birthday’ with a smiley face on my sashimi container and i swear it tasted better than usual, lol. maybe they reserve the best stuff for birthday boys?

keychange

Happy birthday, you!! I’m so glad your mom got you a ton of tea!

JustJames

okay, i cannot express the value of a temperature programmable kettle!!!! wow stuff tastes amazing!!! i feel very spoiled. and i found out at about 3 this morning that i got 90% on my big psych project and she’s offering me 100%. THAT is a hell of a birthday!

Cavocorax

Happy Birthday! :) (belated – whoops!)
And that’s great about the new kettle and the awesome marks!

JustJames

thanks and thanks! say….. anything interesting in your mail box?

Cavocorax

No…. not yet. :( I’ll let you know as soon as I see something!

Ysaurella

Bon anniversaire + 1 jour !

JustJames

merci! est-ce-que votre cadeau est arrive?

Ysaurella

non pas encore mais peut être demain ou samedi :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

100
drank Hello Sweetie by Butiki Teas
374 tasting notes

i love this tea…. go figure, it was made for me! but it’s not just the blend i love…. it was the whole process.

stacy is brilliant. we all know that, but working with her one on one that is absolutely reinforced. we tried tons of combinations. we were all over the map! she listened to every idea i had and added in her experience, what did we get? a delightfully NOT tropical coconut/baked banana praline invention that makes me feel like i’m eating dessert even though i have very proudly (and honestly!!!) been off sugar for 2 weeks now.

the banana level is deep, very reminiscent of when i make baked bananas with butter, lemon juice and a pinch of brown sugar. the hint of lemon is there, i swear. the coconut is beautifully balanced by the banana and praline. not to mention the taiwanese assam! i love that the blend has a brilliant tea to back it!

if you have dreams of tea i cannot recommend stacy lim highly enough. the person, the process and the result. she even allowed for my particular fondness of cream and sweetener (formerly known as sugar, lol). it’s great with, without. hell, it’s just great.

thank you so much stacy…. i have sent a bunch of it out, though only two know it’s coming, lol!

of course it gets 100%! oh, and in case you need the reference that stacy and i geeked out over: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-q3_XoS2T8 …. believe you me, there were many, MANY discussions about dr. who tea names!

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

Sounds delicious!

JustJames

it was alot of fun. at a certain point stacy said ‘it needs a fruit balance’. i disagreed. i finally conceded with ‘bananas’ to which she disagreed but agreed to make up a batch with prejudice (LMAO) then she wound up loving it and so did i. which is amusing because i usually have a hefty banana bias. it was awesome.

CrowKettle

I might have to request some of that sometime.

JustJames

absolutely! i have an immense amount, lol!

Terri HarpLady

That sounds delicious!

JustJames

truly my friends…. PM me your addresses, i’ll shove a sample in an envelope and shuffle it your way. i have a ton of tea, no swaps, but you are more than welcome to try it. i have zero problem buying some US stamps and sending a sample your way. obviously same for my fellow canadians. =0)

ifjuly

that does sound really good!

Amariel

OMG, a River Song tea. Are the bananas from a grove in Villengard, by chance? Heh. PS I want to try some, and apparently we live in the same city? How’s that happen? :P

JustJames

I JUST NOTICED THAT 30 SECONDS AGO, lol. yay powers of observation. well, we’ll just have to meet up so i can hand you over a sample. not sure about the origins of the bananas, but i can tell you this much….. if stacy has access to a TARDIS or an atypical presentation of time and space in any way whatsoever then i want in!

Amariel

Yep. Anyhow, it won’t be in the next week, since I am traveling stateside to visit friends, family, and go to Long Island Who. :P But after that, for sure.

Butiki Teas

This blend was soooo much fun to make! This was the first time working with someone where we just let the flavors go wherever they wanted to go. The only two requirements were coconut and complex flavors. We even tried a lime, rose, coconut. In my head that one sounded so good but in reality it tasted like musty curtains.

JustJames

HAHAHAHAHA….. that is an awesome taste metaphor!!! i have sent a bunch out. i will be sending more. appropriately my dear you are brilliantly appreciated and not just by me! xoxo

CrowKettle

I’ll PM you too in a bit but we also live in the same city. Maybe I’ll snag some off of Heather :P

JustJames

whichever is easiest for you =0)

Amariel

We can plan something when I get back. :)

Sil

i might just love you a lot for making this tea.

VariaTEA

I don’t even know how I got to this tasting note but this tea sounds amazing

JustJames

i’m not sure if i get to say thank you or not….. my wishlist our con-joined fussing, stacy’s work? lol!

Sil

justjames..i want it all. I’m so excited for our swap heh

JustJames

me too!! am i waiting for nina’s to arrive? or am i sending today/tomorrow?

Sil

Send it whenever lol. I’m in no rush. Like i said, I don’t need Nina’s :) stacy teas on the other hand…

Hello.Kiki

This sounds amazing!

JustJames

it’s quite excellent! stacy is amazing =0)

Amariel

Can’t wait til I can try some.

MissB

Stacy will be selling it soon, it sounds like. :) Then we can all get our fix.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

i don’t know what i expected from this tea…. but is is most certainly not what i got.

as a rule, things that are are harvested in canada in fall like the grapes for ice wine and winter like maple syrup are viscous and have an intense potential for sweet. playing off the word ‘frost’ i think that, paired with the colder weather, had me expecting something with an element of sweetness. i was entirely wrong.

while i smelled a light floral from the dry, the strangest thing i have ever encountered happened with the water added: nothing. well, almost.

i have an autoimmune disease that impacts my nervous system primarily. i have some abilities that could be called rather rare, though certainly not unheard of— like being able to smell the metal UNDERNEATH the plating metal. weird. i know.

this tea is cold. it smells like ice. yes, for me temperature can have a smell. screaming hot, steaming away, scalds my tongue….. and it is ice. pure ice. i have never encountered such a thing!

i don’t know if i like it… i don’t DISlike it, but i want a repeat performance. thinking that i might be having an early moment of dementia i wrenched the top off my tea cup in class today and shoved it under my lab partner’s nose. (she’s used to this by now)
‘what do you smell?’
‘i….nothing?’ (perplexed look) she grabbed the cup and took a more serious sniff. ‘how can it smell like nothing?’
‘it smells like ice to me.’
‘james, ice doesn’t have a smell!’
‘yes it does.’

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
CrowKettle

Oh, that’s curious! On to the list this one goes.

JustJames

quite, quite unique! distinctly striking…. i just have no idea how to classify it yet! lol.

Ysaurella

sounds really interesting, as your ability to smell metal and ice !

JustJames

i guess everybody needs a skill? lol

OMGsrsly

Thinking about the Maple Pecan Oolong, I totally get where you’re coming from. I wouldn’t have phrased it the same way, but I do get it. Now I want to try the base tea on its own! :)

Amariel

I agree, ice does have a smell.

JustJames

i will let my lab partner know. … …. AND my wife, lol.

Amariel

I admit I am super sensitive to smells. I smell things at work that no one else does.

Amariel

Which is bad because it often results in a migraine or a headache of some annoyance at least. :(

JustJames

me too… mine’s a nervous system disease byproduct. i don’t get headaches, well, barometric if there’s a real swing….. but i can usually smell it, before it happens lol!!!!! although i get clogged up really easily from stuff too and i wind smelling nothing. sigh. everything is a coin toss: the up side, the flip side.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

87
drank Golden Turtle by Mandala Tea
374 tasting notes

ooooh, very nice mandala! simply complex.

very smooth, reminiscent of a tie guan in, or yellow…… i really don’t think i would have guessed it was anykind of oolong had it not been on the packaging. robust but in a light hearted kind of way.

on a completely separate note, i wanted to thank your group for your product excellence. i had lunch with my mum today. often we don’t get on, but life has been a bit tough on her lately and the place where we meet always has great food but ghastly tropical flavoured bagged green teas. i brought my bag of yellow buds with me and made her a pot at the table. she loved it! she was very surprised at the steep time, the colour, the taste. i know things are going to be difficult in her life for a while longer, so i sent her home with the tea and told her i’d get her more when she ran out.

your company really is a class act. and while my mother doesn’t know you at all, on behalf of us both i will thank you.

i find these days i bounce between paris (mariage and dammann) complexity and manadala’s understated simplicity. but that’s like calling a circle simple to someone whose only ever drawn straight lines. thank you for the introspectively quiet circle.

most sincerely, james.

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

James, thank you so much for not only taking time to write the reviews, but for the kind words about our humble endeavor here at Mandala Tea. I am honored to have earned such accolades from you. This makes my day. Truly.

Grateful,
Garret

JustJames

most welcome and well earned, garret.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

85
drank Demain by Nina's Paris
374 tasting notes

this tea is grand, i mean truly exceptional.

dry it reminds me of ripe strawberries and raspberry jello, but once the water goes in there is a premeditated tartness from the green base that negates any thoughts of jello whatsoever.

my unsolicited advice (as someone who thoroughly messed up their first attempt), believe the 3 minute recommendation on the bag. nina’s has been doing this long enough that they don’t recommend halfheartedly.

the green they have chosen is very smart indeed…. it has a sharp tang that is absolutely timed to the minute. the berries are balanced against a three minute time…. like a smartypants i figured more was better and went for 4 the first time and got no berries whatsoever. when correctly timed you get a perfect equation with perfectly (not over) ripe berries with a medium strength green tea. this is a flavoured green, there is never any doubt that it is a tea. with some flavoured blends the tea essence is lost, but not here.

very nice. little doubt i will buy again!

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

43
drank Black Pearl by Mandala Tea
374 tasting notes

this tea has frustrated my intelligence. true i can be stubborn and do things in my own manner, but i have followed the instructions for this beautiful tea. i love the smell, i love the appearance….. but i get a mediocre taste!

1 minute, 1.5 minutes…. 4 minutes. hotter, colder. nope.

it is so highly sought after, and there is no more to be had this year at least and with every steeping i am wasting my supply.

i will rate this one… i do not believe it is a failing on my part or my other teas would be impacted. very sad…. i really did want to love it as others do….

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Stephanie

Bummer. I am still curious to try it !

Dexter

It makes me sad that you are having issues with this tea.:((( I LOVE it. I knew it was discontinued, and I’ve heard a rumor that Garret isn’t sure he will ever be able to get more. That also makes me very sad :(( I’m hoarding what I have. I don’t even know how I steep it. I would have said that you can do anything to it and it just works.
Do you like Teavivre Black Pearls?

JustJames

actually, i also found them lacking. interesting. i wonder where the glitch is?

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

90
drank Grand Amour by Nina's Paris
374 tasting notes

i was curious, so i looked up the history: nina’s paris, (named after the founder’s wife mme nina diaz) was founded in 1672 as the furbishers of fragrance to versailles. it shows.

this tea is red, and round. it actually creates a spherical shape in my mouth. i am not referring to the natural process of swallowing here, i feel the flavour in a spherical shape, over my tongue and against my cheeks.

this blend is an exercise in just enough and not too much; had the raspberry been stonger it may have evolved from a balanced tart to sharp or bitter, but it did not. the red currant adds the round component i think, as well a classic element. the caramel is very quiet… three fingers brushing one time lightly between your shoulder blades after a long day. soothing.

this tea is lovely. i was surprised at first when i learned that the french tea apothecaries were also frequently parfumeries, but it makes perfect sense now. how the two vocations could ever be separate is a foreign thought to me now because it is. so. logical.

while she did not send me this tea, i really must thank ysaurella for playing the part of brilliant catalyst for this part of my tea journey. our swap caught me so offguard i think my heart may continue to dwell in parisien tea houses.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
gmathis

Ooh…thanks for the reminder that I haven’t tried my sample of this yet.

JustJames

nina’s paris is one of two companies where caramel even registers with me…. the rest i can’t detect at all. this blend was so very well done!

Bonnie

I was enamored with the sense of being transported by the tea to the Orient Express for some reason. Nina’s reminds me of elegance…brocades velvet, polished wood, leather, perfume, plumes and jewels. Bowls of fruit, flowers and silver samovars.

gmathis

Yum. Bonnie, you’ve missed your calling—you should be writing Victorian novels!

Bonnie

Well, my grandmother was born in San Francisco in 1883. (Not great-grandmother). My mom singing Opera when I was young had some effect on my being a dreamer and a string of exotic travelers in need of lodging in the 1950’s…friends of my linguist Aunt. In other words, I’m old.

gmathis

Suddenly I’m craving Agatha Christie :)

Bonnie

Haha! I still remember dancing with my grandfather at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill in S.F. on my 13th birthday…1961. A scene out of Mad Men, evening gowns and furs.

keychange

Jaaaammmmmmeeeeessss! How much do I have to pay you/what combination of favours would let me snag a teeny teeny sample of this from you? Feel free to say "there’s nothing you can do, keychange, and I’ll politely eff off.

JustJames

lol, you’re already going to be getting some. no begging required (though it is amusing) =0)

Aimee Popovacki

THIS ONE SOUNDS SO GOOD!!

JustJames

hey! how are you feeling?

Aimee Popovacki

not so good!

JustJames

oh no, pm me!

keychange

You are a kind person!

Bonnie

He loves me more than you! Hahahah!

ashmanra

I adore this tea. I plan to give it to my future son-in-law as a wedding gift soon, as it is precisely the flavor profile he likes, and the name is perfect! It reminds me of a tea he and my daughter bought for me when they were in Budapest. It is exquisite.

Ysaurella

thanks 4 the big up James :)
but you know the French tea houses were NOT frequently parfumeries (I think Nina’s is the only one – and I may be wrong but this is probably more a question of new business acquisition rather than an historical link – up to Laurent to tell us)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

87
drank Polo Club by Mariage Frères
374 tasting notes

struck by the sheer terror of midterms after nearly 2 decades i behaved very badly and broke into my birthday tea with the intention of piping this mate directly into my brain if need be for my exam yesterday.

the exam the night before had been a NIGHTMARE. because of the impairments i do my exams on a PC….. which halfway way through my psyche exam timed out, drop kicked me and ERASED all of my answers.

… …. …… they called a tech from the library and shuffled me to a different spot to keep working. they did not shuffle me far enough….. i heard every groan of despair.

‘the bad news is your work is gone and i can’t get it back…’ and thus a debate about what to do. i’ll admit it, i had a brief (although polite) moment where i lost my cool.

FOLKS! the option is exactly ONE! i need some quiet and i need to get the exam done. PERIOD.’ and i did, because there was no other choice. especially with an exam the next morning first thing.

thus, with the advent of a new exam and a palpable frisson of fear STOMPING through my heart, i broke into my birthday tea and grabbed this mate hoping it would turn me into a genius and that i wouldn’t have a repeat of the night before. it was a risk folks…. i have mentioned several times that i don’t tolerate mate well. it usually curdles my stomach and makes me jittery.

seeing as i’m sure you are all waiting with baited breath i will tell you about exam 2: my prof will hate me. i wrote and wrote and wrote. i am expecting an A, but i’ll settle for an A+, lol.

my glitches with mate? apparently only with ones from this continent.

this tea has marshmallow notes that soften a beautiful balance of fruit and flowers. very light in colour as well in taste. it is complex, but not complicated, and not the least bit imposing. beautiful, smooth, cleared the fuzz out of my head in record time. i will absolutely buy mate from mariage and dammann.

by far the best mate i have ever had. by leaps and bounds! and i will keep one in the house for as long as i’m a student.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec
yyz

Eek! Horrible to have to start all over again! Exams are stressful enough.

JustJames

agreed! hopefully i’m not completely cracked though and i did as well as i think i did on exam #2!!!

yyz

Fingers crossed, at least you feel positive about it!

JustJames

=0) true!

keychange

Oh god, reading this reminded me of all the horrors of writing adapted exams in the accessible tech labs at school. The computer would crash; the screenreading software would turn out to be a demo 40 minutes in; I’d lose my work and want to throw things. Good for you for keeping it together, because that’s legitimate melt down teratory. i’m glad the second one went better, but uggh ugggh ugh.

JustJames

oh no! there’s this hope that someone gets what you’re saying when this junk happens, but then you feel bad when they really really get what you’re saying.

i have been talking back and forth with my prof, the disabled student resource center has yet to report anything to her. all i keep screaming in my head is ‘SERIOUSLY??? GET IT TOGETHER!!!!’

OMGsrsly

Oh geez. In my befuddled state I thought your terrible experience WAS a nightmare! Kudos for making it through. You might want to actually mention to the centre that your prof needs to know about this kind of thing ASAP. I would have thought they would have been phoning your prof and cancelling and rescheduling your exam for when they had their act together.

keychange

Well, and the suggested remedies are never anything you’d want to deal with. Re-write the exam? Are you effing kidding me? go through that again because they’re inept and don’t ensure a method to back up stuff?

JustJames

my dear keychange…. we should discuss who the owner of the page that we are both on is, lol. shared custody do you think?

JustJames

update! i got my A+ on the one exam, but the nightmare situation? i got an A on that too…. must have been the tea!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

i find myself at a cross roads with this puerh. on one hand there are aspects that i find vastly superior, on the other i find some elements disconcerting.

i really like the fact that it isn’t musty as some puerhs i’ve tried lately are. there’s a healthy but not overpowering astringency that balances the flavours out so that i am certain i am drinking tea and i haven’t been whacked in the mouth with a moss pillow.

what i find odd are the smell and taste. it smells like popcorn, and it tastes like sticky rice. makes a certain amount of sense, it’s a rice shu…. but sweet rice in my tea cup is new for me and i don’t know what i think of it yet!

thank you very much to tao tea leaf for the sample. i always enjoy an opportunity to try.

no numbers, not yet. i’ll try another steep and see if i can come to a conclusion!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Stephanie

LOL moss pillow

JustJames

seriously, haven’t you had that experience with puerh? good flavour but then it turns into a fuzzy diffusion that tastes like moss?

Stephanie

Haha totally, I love the way you described it

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Profile

Bio

Time For A ReWrite!

A good friend of mine on here kindly asked me to do the Steepster world a favour and list my allergies front and center (fair enough, lol):

-COFFEE … rare, nasty, not even a bit funny if i’m exposed. (call me original)

-ROOIBOOS … is a new appearance. under certain circumstances i’m okay with it (ie if it’s GREEN and paired with mate) but because i have an auto immune disease i try not to poke at things.

*NOT an allergy, but an abnormality that drives my tea buddies bananas, i AM INCAPABLE OF TASTING CARAMEL AND TOFFEE. so i thought i’d list it at the top too. it’s very annoying. they smell great!!?

Hi! I’m James!

I’m a student: double major of human geography and psychology with the intention of chasing a double doctorate. (reading that over it occurs to me again that i must be crazy).

i’m a live and let live sort. i look and see alot of silver linings. my discovery of tea has only served to further that viewpoint. for me tea is art and nuance, watercolours and bold brushstrokes….

swaps are grand things! the element of surprise in a tea swap completely trumps forrest gump’s chocolate box life metaphor, lol.

favourites: french teas dammann freres, mariage freres and nina’s paris especially.

i have recently discovered a german tea company that has romanced me: tea gschwendner (sp?)

mandala teas is brilliant and a company i count on.

justea and tealet are companies i study because of both their exceptional products and and business models, as well as their work with farmers who are TOO POOR for fair trade certification. this is highly relevant to my studies.

90-100 i need more
80-90 i might need more, or it might be a respect vote
below 75? it was likely an oops buy. my evolution into french teas has vastly focused what i like!!

however, i’m always open to trying things.

dislikes so far: guayasa, darjeeling, most peach teas.

Location

Victoria, BC

Following These People