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345 Tasting Notes

93

a beautiful blend to behold in the bag, but as i pulled it out on the spoon the hugely long assam fingers would fall off. and once i finally got the pieces into my tea ball i realized there was zero chance i was going to get the lid on… i also didn’t have nearly enough of the blend into the ball. what’s a boy to do? in short commit butiki sacrilege in the form of crunching the bag.

in my tea mad brain i got a lecture from bonnie as i crunched, approval of my critical thinking skills from scribbles, and a moderate wince from stacy when/if she reads this.

the potential for this tea to have been lacking or imbalanced in any number of ways was huge, especially on the part of the assam base. this creation makes me wonder if butiki teas architects are required to have studied gestalt art theory briefly summarized as ‘perception as the product of complex interactions among various stimuli’ and that a whole is worth more than its separate parts. lol.

this tea is a very successfully blended whole—less a caramel vanilla assam to me, and more a spun vanilla sugar highlight laid over a delightfully smooth black.

having been at art school for a very long time i tend to equate the world around me with complimentary senses: so a smell may trigger an image, and a taste may draw out a sound. for me this tea is imagery.

https://www.google.ca/search?gs_rn=18&gs_ri=psy-ab&tok=oUoYdeX6mbIz0UJ3c0MKaQ&cp=11&gs_id=eo&xhr=t&q=spun+sugar+recipe&biw=1366&bih=576&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=JG7KUbn-AeSKjAKtsoG4AQ#facrc=&imgdii=&imgrc=ISlvkoAER3KIzM%3A%3BPcFGENVLcS_etM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Ffc08.deviantart.net%252Ffs70%252Ff%252F2012%252F103%252F0%252F3%252Fspun_sugar_birds_nestbycakecrumbs-d4w2yj7.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fcakecrumbs.deviantart.com%252Fart%252FSpun-Sugar-Birds-Nest-295750483%3B500%3B500

which translates to: skill, diligence and if you weren’t careful as you built it then it all comes tumbling down and leaves you with nothing more than a puddle of goo that you spend the next year trying to scrape off your floor!

very nice! i think in my next cup i may use a bit of brown sugar to draw out just a little bit more of the spun sugar taste, although that will have to be tomorrow as it is already 10pm and i do need sleep!

UPDATE: okay, brown sugar maximizes this tea. my mouth is very happy!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 15 sec
Butiki Teas

I did wince a tiny bit. Hahaha. Oooh, that spun sugar looks very challenging.

JustJames

your blend must have been very challenging! i am sorry for my crunching… but my tea ball is a vicious taskmaster regarding what will and will not fit! if it helps i did not (would not) pulverize… just snapper the larger lovelies in half.

Bonnie

As soon as you can ditch the tea ball…do it. The leaves are not happy in such contraptions. A stainless basket where water can flow around the expanding leaves is best or for a by-the-cup portion a finum infuser.

OMGsrsly

I’ve been known to use a pyrex measuring cup (since it has a spout) and a somewhat fine kitchen strainer in a pinch. :)

JustJames

@Bonnie…. yeah, i was going to look for a basketed cup today. just have to watch the budget!

JustJames

okay… i got a proper mug. with a basket strainer. yay stokes! they’re always reasonable and everything in the store was 25% off!!!

Bonnie

Great!

CHAroma

You’ll be soooo much happier! I started my loose leaf tea adventures with a tea ball and quickly discovered that the teas didn’t taste very good if the leaves couldn’t fully expand. A brewing basket makes a world of difference!

JustJames

it gives me an excuse to go back and reassess, lol. i am discovering that the taste is more sincere.

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85

EDIT: after having butiki teas’ lychee oolong this highly placed tea has to drop a few notches…. i find it comforting, but it is nowhere near as pristine as butiki’s lychee oolong. sorry david…..

Cavocorax

I’ve fallen out of love with David a bit since I met Harney&Sons and Butiki. And Verdant. m not as amazed as I was.

scribbles

Is funny how tastes change….I used to love David’s, but I have found that I love roasted oolong’s and pu’erh (pu’erh addiction due to you, JustJames :D!!) Won’t give up on David’s dessert teas… but I think have found my tasting preference. Although, still looking into black tea nuances.

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100
drank Lychee Oolong by Butiki Teas
345 tasting notes

i’m having a dramatic moment.

in my mind’s eye i am standing at the lip of a great chasm… perhaps the grand canyon, perhaps a crevasse that has opened while climbing k2. in my left hand is my tea cup; oversized, plastic (because i’m forever dropping things)… i sip and become a human incarnation of edvard munch’s ‘the scream’ http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/asset-viewer/the-scream/eQFdRTFKDtVQ1A?projectId=art-project&source=kp&hl=en . ‘noooooooooooooooooooo!’ i shriek (though much more tastefully than macaulay caulkin in home alone).

this lychee and i were destined to meet. we have been reaching across time and space and infinite galaxies in order to be together… i have been looking for so long. i have found teas named lychee, but they were all lies. this THIS is a lychee tea. i am certain that stacy lim has sent mass quantities of this blend to dr. who to stock the tardis. to me that is the degree of infamy this blend has achieved!

why am i screaming ‘no’, bouncing the word over and over off the walls of an impressive hole in the earth’s crust? because it was only a sample and i’m out now. and i made a stupid promise to myself (that i may deliberately have articulated out loud to my wife) that i would purchase no more tea until the middle of july at least. and then even after i order i have to wait for shipping time.

people say that life’s not fair. i will now take the opportunity to be far more specific: life without tea is not fair.

relevant tea review information outside of drama: tidy rolled balls of oolong that don’t smell dry even when they have not yet been immersed in water. they smell rich and light and floral. this tea doesn’t taste like lychee, it is lychee. i have a series of unusual adjectives i apply to exceptional teas. the most common one is ‘honest’— meaning it is exactly what it says it is. this tea leaves ‘honest’ in the dust and grabs another atypical descriptor: ‘accurate’. this tea is a cup of perfect lychees harvested at the ideal time. not a one was dropped, no bitter peel sullied the fruit.

there is no lychee aside from this.
and i am out.
‘noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’.

p.s. thank you stacy for the sample.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec
Stephanie

I gotta order this one next time :)

Lala

Hopefully you can win is Stacy’s upcoming contest, then it doesn’t really count as buying tea, does it?

JustJames

contest? what contest?

Terri HarpLady

James, you are awesome! I love this review! Thanks!
And yeah, I guess I’ll have to try a sample of this one too.

Cavocorax

That is an amazing review! Woah. I hope Stacy sees this. :)

Butiki Teas

^Indeed it is! I had a very good laugh! :)

Bonnie

You’re so funny James! I’m loving your discovery of pure flavor. So much different than flavors with the awful alcohol bitter aftertaste so many other companies use. I think there’s a thread in the discussion boards on who uses organic or natural and vegan products in tea blends. The three I’m familiar with are Butiki, Steapshoppe and Verdant but I’m sure there are more. This matters to your health issues too for maximum positive effect as it does to me.

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91

thank you stacy for my sample. i have no problem admitting that i chose this sample as a test, lol. pineapple cilantro cream? sounds lovely… but how would one bring such an unusual blend to fruition? understand that my motives came not at all from maliciousness… stacy of butiki teas has been declared the very best in flavoured teas to me. not by one or two of my steepster friends, but by all of them! imagine the skill sets of one woman being the common point of people all over the planet with disparate tea tastes and backgrounds… lovely! thus, as i perused the butiki website trying to narrow my millions of choices down to three i looked not only at the teas that appealed to me, but also for a single one that i felt would be challenging to execute. this is it!

how do you blend a summer flavour like pineapple, most frequently paired with tropical compliments like coconut, with an asian flavour (that i equate with awesome peanut sauce over noodles) like cilantro without tasting like a take out tea from noodle box? a challenge… that ms. lim met head on.

the bai mudan base has no astringency. it is light and sweet and was an inspired choice for this blend. the pineapple is not overpowering and does not have an overripe flavour. interestingly enough it has a vague roasted flavour to it. the cilantro is subtle, but clear… but it has an unexpected effect: it cools the tongue!

this is the truest summer blend i’ve ever tasted. it is refreshing and light without a hint of bitterness or acid.

brilliant….. just think! this was only the first sample, and i haven’t even started into my order proper!

thank you again, stacy!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Cavocorax

I’m happy to see you haven’t been disappointed by the Butiki teas! :)

Cavocorax

(It’s hard sometimes if people are building it up in your head)

JustJames

nope… zero disappointment. and i’m about to have the lychee oolong now. =0)

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62
drank Fantasy by Lupicia
345 tasting notes

right off the bat i’m going to say that i’m a bit off today: it was infusion day which segued into physio and all this linked by stop and go traveling through gong show traffic. REALLY… vancouver island is small enough… i have a very hard time believing that we have enough people to turn a freeway into parking lot! in any case, infusion day often leaves me a bit fuzzy with it all blurring together.

the dry tea is choppy, but not equivalent to pieces as big as in a verdant teas blend. i smell apples, but don’t see any. the only bits i see aside from black tea are gold coloured petals. it smells very sweet.

followed the instructions on steeping (what a strange day… i am being very well behaved!)… got a very dark tea from a short steep time, but the smell is still inviting.

overall, not bad. it’s not unforgettable but then outside of the really brilliant companies most aren’t—they’re different versions of something that any number of other vendors have by the same name just with a slightly different spin to it.

my only criticism would be that after a 3 minute steep i had a significant amount of bitterness from the tea! that’s the biggest drag down in terms of marks.

thank you cavocorax for this sample…. i will also thank sil as sil’s name is also listed on the sample bag! lol.

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

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75
drank Amandine Rose by Teavana
345 tasting notes

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57
drank Pu-erh Vanilla Mint by Tealux
345 tasting notes

Not bad. i liked the puerh base, but i found myself wishing somewhat for more of a flavour commitment. i like peppermint tea, and i like vanilla, but despite there being 3 significant taste contributers i still didn’t really get a solid flavour direction or blend. not bad, but just kindof there.

a vanilla based mint where the mint is strong and the vanilla subtle so, a 60/40 mix. or the same ration with a vanilla with a fresher taste of mint? hmmm…. wonder if the puerh was responsible for the murkiness? might be more successful with a black instead….

i any case— not bad, but not great.

OOPS! forgot to thank cavocorax for this insightful sample! i am having one of those days!!!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 30 sec

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23

without intending to my eyes flashed to the vendor’s description as i hit the ‘tasting note’ button…. ‘it would be impossible not to love this tea.’ well then i am an impossible boy.

dry it swells like sweet pipe tobacco, not quite what i was expecting, but as long as it’s not too heavy on the smoke i’m game to try it. as it steeped the smell evolved: tobacco and vanilla. however, once i moved to sipping my adjectives and taste palate vocabulary devolved to just one word ‘NOPE!’.

i must seem exceptionally uncharitable creating an adjective out of such a word, but candor saves time and ‘nope’ is shorter than ‘absolutely not!’.

in order to steep the black tea the higher temperature burns the white. i tasted no cocoa nibs or vanilla, although i did spy little black specks. i taste no malt as was described. what i do get is an on again off again flash of sea weed with tobacco ash.

i understand wanting the best of both worlds from the black and white teas, but i think that when you’re looking at such different steeping temperatures that the calamity that befell my teacup was very predictable.

not sure i will finish this cup. i am certain i won’t finish this sample…. what i will do is go and gargle with sTEAp Shoppe’s cinnamon swirl bread because that one is outstandingly executed.

for the second time this week my score is coming in far lower than the steepsters above me and i do feel the need to reassure those that are reading: i do not have a cold, i do not smoke, i am not terribly picky about foods and i have a freakishly good olfactory sense (nose). i even followed the directions! (not the way i usually roll).

Thanks cavocorax… i didn’t like the tea, but i greatly appreciated the experience. AND if you are someone looking to try a tea that all but one raved about send me a note and we can swap!

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

Hmm. I don’t think Kittena and Sil were crazy about it either. I actually haven’t tried it yet, but I’m a bit apprehensive. Maybe buying a small tin was a bad idea? It was probably cheaper for a reason.

JustJames

i can understand the ideas behind the impulse but the steeping temps just threw the whole thing out of whack. still… the experience was valuable. thank you!

Cavocorax

Well maybe I can play around with it. I ’ve got enough of it… :P

JustJames

please let me know your conclusions… if you have any more miracle tea treatments i might try it again!

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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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