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345 Tasting Notes

i adore creme brulee. so much so that i tend to focus in on that word and not observe the words before or after it. sigh. face to palm.

i really don’t like orange peel in teas. well, usually. it’s often bitter and that’s all i taste. the caramel would balance it out though, right? yup, if i could taste it. i have no idea what my problem is but other than butiki’s caramel vanilla assam i can’t taste it.

i’m sorry ShortSorceress and i’m sorry della terra… this was all my oops. note to self in future: maintain level of literacy previous to identifying the presence of the word ‘brulee’. no numbers. my bad.

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

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let me begin by saying that the arrival of ShortSorceress’s mammoth swap (i know i have never done one on this scale) was perfect. i have had a rotten week. nothing remarkable about that fact, we all have bad stretches, they come… they go… we survive… ideally we thrive. i was late for a doctor’s appointment last friday. it was the appointment where we were going to review the images of the MRIs taken to diagnose my injured right arm. because i was late i was handed a copy of the report by the receptionist and shuffled out the door.

depending on how you weight the value and application of information then i was in both a fortunate and unfortunate position. i have extensive experience with advanced first aid, and i have a neuro-transmission disease, which simply translates to: i know more than most regarding trauma to the vital systems and the nervous system especially. the only doctors that trump my knowledge base are very specialized.

unwisely i read the report (if only i had a tardis and could undo that fact)! the words lesion, lesions, cervical spine, atrophy and dubious were bandied about. this horrible diagnosis, these terrible terrible pictures were me. and i have more than enough education to know how serious everything APPEARED to be.

what about school? what about the future? sleep was elusive. food was disgusting. in a second my life had become a terrifying thing.

it took me a couple of days, but this is generally the way i exist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H5uWRjFsGc (the getting up again, not the booze) that and Concentrated Power of Will. nervous system diseases are always evaluated clinically: your images can light up like a christmas tree, but it’s your physical presentation is what’s most important. i found my feet. sometimes we get knocked about and forget what we know, namely that the piece of paper that i never should have been handed, that i never should have read may be me technically, but it is not at all how i present. the report does not accurately reflect my function.

it is very likely i have been like this for months, even years and the fall poked a previously dormant plaque. it’s the nature of the disease. somehow in my stress i had stopped drinking my tea. my horror had stopped me dead and i strove for a sense of control. tell me friends, how does eliminating a ritual that gives comfort help anything? it doesn’t. i’d like to say that i came to that conclusion myself, but a friend very reasonably pointed it out.

i’ve had teas arrive this last week. i’ve been storing them with the mental note ‘for a day better than this one’. counterproductive! and so when the mailbox door thumped and it became obvious that it was crammed full i retrieved the package from our miss ShortSorceress.

it was meant to be. there was a lovely sample of adagio’s tardis blend. the closest thing i can get in time travel aside from a massive graphic f/x budget or concurrent degrees in thermonuclear dynamics and theoretical astrophysics.

this tea is so smarta**. it will get a nice high mark because it hit so many points all for me. timing: yes, it is getting a nice mark because it arrived when i needed it. i don’t care if that isn’t as a result of adagio. it has a timelord smell palate (bear with me, no i am no crazier than usual, lol)… the dry leaf smells musty, but no unpleasantly so. makes me think of a ship full of rooms that haven’t been visited in a few years but are filled with good things. it also smells like something it really isn’t! for a half second it smells like an earl grey, but then i got a tea based round, orange, autumnal that segued into a berry muscat. so very appropriate! dr. who looks human, but really isn’t…. a perfect tea metaphor for a blend of this name.

steeps up to a lovely amber (again, very appropriate… amber freezes time after a fashion). makes me think of an earl grey/lady grey hybrid with some unseen twists.

i guess the last determining feature are the little blue flowers… they were tardis blue. neat! and then i added water… the became translucent with the flower bases weighted downwards. they looked very much like the opening sequence when the tardis goes sailing into roiling space/time. OH VERY GOOD!

i really can’t thank you enough ShortSorceress… if it had arrived yesterday or the day before it might not have given me what it did which is my first real grin in days. and thank you adagio teas (watch it folks, i intend to spell without stars this time…) for being such outstanding smart asses. the metaphors of taste and smell, the cheeky visual, and an elegant refined taste

btw: i am not normally a fan of earl grey… but this one was truly great.

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

Sorry you had to go through such a stressful and awful experience, without the presence of a doctor…it should not be permitted at all.

Short Sorceress

I’m glad to hear this arrived at the perfect time for you :)

JustJames

appropriate, don’t you think? that your timing with the TARDIS blend was so perfect? almost as though you knew i would need it that day…. are you and dr. w cousins? XP

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drank Cashew Turtle by 52teas
345 tasting notes

there is something in this tea that is not alright with me. the ingredients list doesn’t give me a hint… my only thought is that perhaps coffee (which i am nastily allergic to) might have been added as a chocolate enhancer?

in any case… i believe i am done with tea drinking today as everything i put in my mouth makes my stomach hurt. =0(

has anyone else had this experience with this tea?

Lala

Oh no! Tea tummy is the worst!

Stephanie

ugh, that sucks :(

52teas

No coffee. Not only do I despise the stuff, but I don’t put anything in my teas that is not on the ingredients list. Local ordinances require me to list all the ingredients in order by weight (I have to weigh each ingredient in a blend and whatever constitutes the most weight is listed first, etc.).

I do hope you feel better.

52teas

There ARE cashews in that blend. If you’re allergic to coffee, maybe you have a nut allergy too?

JustJames

no, i’m fine with nuts… love cashews actually! but i do have an autoimmune disease which, sadly, does generate allergies. maybe a new one has crept up =0(

CHAroma

Aww, so sorry this one didn’t agree with you. :(

JustJames

it was just very unexpected… i do have new allergies crop up. it smelled lovely!

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92

this one surprised me… thus far my experiences with 52teas have been very western: not subtle, not layered (my interpretation). if the name is ‘pancake breakfast’, then that’s what it strives to be. so imagine my surprise when i found myself filing this one under ‘other’.

the white tea, predictably, is very gentle… but the forest berry essence caught me offguard. it’s virtually undetectable when you think about it… but when you don’t think about it it’s absolutely clear. the word i will choose is nuanced which is not a word i have applied towards 52teas before.

it is a non denominational forest berry… it is logan berry, blackberry, strawberry and even a hint of salal. again, when i was paying attention to my tongue i got hardly a hint…. and then i realized something. it wasn’t a taste, it was a smell.

now this is a guess on my part… the timing of the tea hitting the upper back of the tongue diffuses the scent that i perceive as taste. however, when i alter my swallowing to try and capture the taste more clearly i shift the blend to the front of my tongue where i can’t detect the aroma at all. that is my layman’s guess. how frank managed to pull this off (if i’m correct) is far beyond my understanding.

very cool. i enjoyed my sample from CHAroma hugely of this one… thank you so much!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec
TheTeaFairy

Silver needle being so delicate, from your nice description I’m guessing 52teas did a good job not to overpower it…

JustJames

they did indeed! i think frank was flexing his i-can-do-anything muscles. it’s the estimated timing of the teas arrival on certain spots on the tongue that boggles my brain!

CHAroma

You’re welcome! :)

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i think, in retrospect, i must have started with the worst possible choice of teas from 52teas— lime jello salad. if you take a look my review it was outstanding! and while the other teas are good, nothing has yet achieved the same standard as the lime jello salad.

granted, as always, it could be my failure… but i don’t think so in this case. the flavour is there…. not the intended one i don’t think. i get cotton candy from this! nice, but definitely not strawberry lemonade.

i think 52teas is a very creative vendor. i also think as with any producer not every product will please every customer (ie: this is no lime jello salad)… and quite possibly the fact that my samples are fairly old (very carefully preserved by the grand CHAroma, but still) play a role.

i reserve numerical judgement because i just don’t have all the information. i will say that teavana makes an awesome tisane by the same name. were my sample fresh, and if i had the chance to compare i have no idea which would prevail!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec
CHAroma

I prefer this one iced. The flavors seem to really pop then.

JustJames

alas, i have no more! i did wonder about that though…. i watch the 52teas website though now, lol. i have the rootbeer float black on its way!!!

CHAroma

Oooh, let me know how that compares to Butterbeer.

JustJames

your advice here would be aqwesome… iced? or not iced?

CHAroma

I prefer Butterbeer hot, but read others’ notes too. I think lots of people have enjoyed that one iced. I prefer 99% of teas hot, so I’m biased. :)

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89
drank SBT: RadioactiviTEA by 52teas
345 tasting notes

this was a gift from the awesome CHAroma… and i can’t even tell you what it tasted like!

this last january my wife and i were dismayed when a steady drip of water started through the ceiling in the living room. the last three weeks have been comprised of my wife and son clambering up and down scaffolding making the necessary repairs (while i stayed below in a cast).

this tea kept them going on a black asphalt roof last weekend when it was crazy hot. they both loved it. thanks frank!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
CHAroma

Wow, it’s cool that you’re family can do the repairs themselves! My husband and I are not at all DIY type people.

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i am a puerh lover. die hard (could i be any more clear?). i will love loose leaf for my whole life. i am genuinely contrite that it took me so long to find it: shame on me! while i will study and love and review and resteep tea forever (and build extra sections for tea storage into our kitchen so it knows how much it is loved), puerh will be a special study for me.

these tuocha are ripened. which means (i am simplifying this because i am still wrapping my own head around it) that as opposed to being dried in the sun the leaves go through a man made imitation of the ideal oxidation conditions… sortof like a natural emerald versus a spinel; one happens naturally the other not. now tea, like gemstones holds separate camps of favour. some favour the bricks and tuocha others the more nature reliant method. i fall into the latter category.

because of my allergy to coffee i am very sensitive to caffeine. when i say in a review that there ‘stickiness’ or a ‘lack of stickiness’ on the tongue from caffeine that’s because i am so sensitive to it i can actually get a physical sensation of it when it’s too heavy. my experience with the ripened puerh has been much too much caffeine and a significant amount of harshness. i literally cannot stomach it. so i avoid them.

i have heard great things of teavivre of late, so when angel asked me which samples i wanted i included this as one of them. i cannot love puerh and commit to an endless study and then refuse an opportunity to try one from a company i’ve heard good things about. (that’s not the way it works)

this is a column A/ Column B review:

*i was expecting harshness and it was quite mellow =0)
*i was expecting rose and didn’t get a single hint even after varying my technique and 3 steeps =0(
*i was expecting the flavour of puerh and also did not detect it (or not in the manner that i adore) =0(
*i was not expecting it to fall apart or ‘blossom’ because many of the brick types i have tried where too ripe and too compressed for it to happen, even after soaking, but it did =0)

i will refrain from a numerical assignment.

if you like the ripened puerhs this one is quite gentle! early on in the steep you get a deep amber coloured elixir (as opposed to some i’ve had that go as dark as turkish coffee).

thank you angel for this puerh nest… it was a much improved experience from my other ripened puerh samples!

Short Sorceress

I tried this one earlier in the week, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I also found that it was very mellow and lacked any rose flavor.

JustJames

always nice to know you’re in good company!

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87
drank Green Dragon by Silk Road
345 tasting notes

i was out snagging some of silk road’s teas for swaps (they’re local and awesome) and grabbed this one for myself.

i didn’t know how it was going to work— puerh carries a warmth for me, while mint really does not. i couldn’t see that it would work halfway: it would either succeed or fail. success!

very nicely balanced between the warmth of the puerh and the cool crispness of the mint. Very simple. Lovely before bed. Yields a very deep green just a few seconds after the steep begins. It can be resteeped over and over using very little (3/4 tsp for a 16 oz cup with punch). Very smooth, very crisp, no caffeine stick. The soothing effect of a herbal with the longevity of a puerh!

on a completely separate note…. man did i miss steepster! i don’t do facebook or any other social media sites… just this one. it felt awful being cut off!!!

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

I ALMOST purchased this one the other day but walked out empty-handed. I missed Steepster too! Just seems like it’s still a little dead here though.

JustJames

agreed on the deadness factor… but it’s summer and being cut off from the place you love means seeking other distractions. then once it’s up again you can stay inadvertently distracted. this tea was awesome. and for what… 3.99$??? i can tons of it because it goes so far! an awesome purchase for sure. and i’m totally planning on buying more.

OMGsrsly

I don’t generally do mint, but that sounds so intriguing!

JustJames

it really is lovely.

Fjellrev

ZOMGsrsly (sorry, can’t resist…), if I can come down to Vancouver next month, I’ll be sure to pick some of this up and give you some to try. :)

Actually, Baroness are coming at the beginning of September so I’ll definitely be there by then.

OMGsrsly

Oh, that would be lovely! And then you can FINALLY get your tea! :)

JustJames

aw, i want to come! well, oversteep, cream and sugar for me in my absence, lol.

Fjellrev

Haha well if you like metal, then you’re more than welcome to come join me! Concerts give me an excuse to ferry over there. :p

JustJames

i do like metal… who’s playing?

Fjellrev

Baroness. They’re playing on September 4th at Venue. If you haven’t heard them, check out the Blue album, but they’re all fabulous.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb3ep6YW0JI

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59

thank you to angel for this sample.

jasmine is a favourite of mine… not just the tea, but also the flowers that climb, their scent wending its way in through windows echoing the motion of the vines. jasmine has an interesting caffeine effect i find… i can drink it anytime without fear that it will keep me awake so it has become a lovely warm nighttime beverage.

to be honest i think the most striking aspect of this tea is that it unrolls… as an artisan tea, the pearls meet the requirements nicely. each ball is reminiscent of fiddlehead ferns as it uncurls. aside from that though it’s a nice jasmine, but it doesn’t stand out remarkably aside from that. nice, but not something i would pay shipping for.

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

Did you use the parameters listed there? 195F for five minutes is waaaaaay more than I give this one. I wonder if you would like it better at 175F for three? I actually prefer the cheaper premium pearls they sell to this one, though I like both. Their Jasmine Silver Needle is aaaaaawwwwwesome!

JustJames

i did try it both ways; their way and mine. i preferred mine. tbh flavourwise i thought it was about on par with the boxes of stash jasmine my wife takes to work. the unfurling is a whole different ball game…. a lovely thing indeed to watch. sadly, the taste didn’t follow the visual for me.

JustJames

fair or not i compare everything to verdant teas yunnan white jasmine which is the most astonishing i’ve ever had.

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100
drank Lychee Oolong by Butiki Teas
345 tasting notes

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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

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