377 Tasting Notes

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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94

i am a great admirer of verdant teas… my reviews reflect that clearly. it isn’t just the quality of their teas, or their credit given to the He family of tea farmers and traditions, it’s also admiration for their customer service and their understanding of their clientele. this tea, however, expanded my horizon in a manner i wasn’t anticipating.

i joined steepster when i began to take loose leaf tea seriously. i had had a strange series of unfortunate tea events at david’s teas… i’d been back and forth several days in a row with problems ranging from allergies to just not liking what had been recommended to me! my patience was running thin and i was tired of spending my meager budget on gas. i decided to research my teas online before i bought. there through steepster i found verdant teas, butiki, teavana, andrews and dunham… and yes david’s teas (i just improved my margin of error). my eyes were opened and i found myself in love with leaves and flowers across the globe!

i had no idea that the simple act of opening the sample package of this tea would be the start the next stage of my education. the tea was brown as opposed to black, curled, with some leaves as long 2 centimeters. alright, so maybe not a hugely intellectual description, but not too bad either. my real problems arose when i tried to describe the taste.

it was… it reminded me of…. words hadn’t just failed me, they had made mass exodus out of my beleaguered brain. that is a rare occurrence for me! once upon a time i was an english major, i have been an english tutor and editor, always a writer and poet (don’t even get me started on art school). i was very much out of my comfort zone as a digital wordless and stammering goof. time to study.

the taste that was so familiar was a refined echo of a pecco orange black tea…. however, that particular genre can be quite harsh and acrid, whereas this tea was not. why not? because verdant uses (i think my terminology is accurate here) flowery grades… as opposed to many bagged tea blends that use fannings of minute size referred to as dust which are the lowest quality, and quite brutal to drink. i am beyond unqualified to estimate the grade of whole leaf used in this blend, LOL.

back to words i know: i taste earth and ceylon, i taste autumn and not spring, minute traces of citrus. i wonder what crops were planted nearby that vicariously influenced the tea bushes and their progeny. there is also an understated acidity that could have evolved into a harshness but did not and instead added freshness.

i have always been curious, but i can honestly say that A tea has never on its own pressed me into multiple feverish searches through wikipedia.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Verdant has videos and podcasts, lots of info on their website that over time has proved very useful in my tea education.

JustJames

REALLY?!! this i did not know! thank you for the info!

scribbles

Your beautiful poetic words depict images of what a tea tastes like. A tea is not restricted to what it actually tastes like; but also a feeling and imagery that words cannot always express, which is how you often describe a tea. This is not a bad way to convey how you feel about a tea and how it tastes to you.

scribbles

Sorry ’bout double post..thought was editing original post. My bad.

JustJames

LOL… i can fix it! ZZZZZZZZZAP! see?

Fuzzy_Peachkin

I too find it very hard sometimes to come up with the words to describe, especially as I just started trying more quality teas. It’s as if we have to develop a whole new vocabulary!

canadianadia

Hmmm…sounds good. I think I’m going to have to check out the Verdant website

Cavocorax

Fuzzy – I agree. Sometimes it’s hard to fully describe the experience of a tea. And for me at least, sometimes I"d rather just enjoy it than try and quantify it. :)

Justjames – I’m happy you made your way over to Steepster. It makes me sad to think of others like you who might have just given up and missed out on the best teas.

JustJames

this has become a special place for me. i don’t do facebook and i don’t do clubs…. but i always have steepster open and i’m frequently drinking a cup of tea.

Bonnie

Most of the time with spent leaves, good ones, I put them in a bottle of filtered or Spring Water and in the frig it goes to cold brew. Amazing how much flavor is left in the leaves. (If you cold brew oolongs with hard water the flavor can change and become bitter).

Bonnie

Reading my comments I sound like an idiot because I didn’t tell you I liked your review. Stretching beyond the common drinking of the tea to ‘listening’ is what the journey is all about! Not everyone is ready or willing to go there.

JustJames

i look at this exploration as a journey into health (i hardly drank anything in a day before tea) and something that is worthy of my attention. i was at art school for more than a decade among other things and the artistry and technique… the sheer volume of knowledge put into each creation is incredible. when i like something/one and it/they have earned my respect then they have also earned the effort of my data mining. =0)

TheTeaFairy

lovely review.

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72

the great thing about a surprise is the many different ways that it can manifest. it can come in the form of ‘BOO!’, a lottery ticket win, realizing that someone was listening when you didn’t realize it and plugged in your favourite movie or meal. this tea was a surprise!

i am the scrooge that picks through the valentine’s day treats and chucks out the cinnamon hearts. they’re revolting. they burn my tongue and i hate the taste. i’m the one that only buys tins of watkins cinnamon because i genuinely think it’s the best tasting. don’t even get me started on oranges in tea: invariably tea companies dig too deep and include too much of the pith in the sample and my tea tastes bitter.

dry this tea smells like souped up cinnamon hearts. steeped… well, the orange much have been zested exactly right and the cloves of good quality because it works really well! surprise! the orange is present but doesn’t mess with my cream.

honestly the day couldn’t be better for it either because while the date may be june 20th it feels more like december 20th… wind, rain and a long day of errand running while it galed around me.

thanks cavocorax!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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57

thank you so much cavocorax for this sample…. it was my first tasting from 52teas! (very exciting)

when i’m reviewing a tea i make a point of not reading other reviews until after the fact. i am relaying MY tea experience and my interpretation and i would prefer to communicate my strongest thoughts first before i reinterpret with ‘actually, that’s a good point.’ so i have read none of the reviews for this tea but i have seen the rated number… with which i must disagree but will explain why.

the dry leaf has the lovely woody undertone that honeybush alone carries. bits of cinnamon, bits of vanilla, both play a part in the scent profile. the strongest note, however is the strawberries.

strawberries are excellent. they are low in sugar even when they taste crazy sweet, they wear their seeds on the outside (how cool is that?), they are members of the rose family rosaceae, you can dip them in chocolate, whipped cream or put them in tea! strawberries should be at the top of the human edibles food list! (unless you’re allergic and then we could swap it out with melon or i don’t know… mustard.)

even before the waterworks these strawberries were not right to my nose. they smelled very much like the extra ripe strawberries you buy and intend to eat the day of, but then you forget and eat them two days later and you find them over sweet with a turned, almost fermented taste. i was concerned for my cup of tea.

i continued to brew and by the time i got to sipping my opinion had improved somewhat. the strawberries don’t taste right, but neither are they as off as they smelled. if i had to guess i would lean towards the freeze drying as the source of the problem or, perhaps, the harvest time of the strawberries. the berry note is very strongly sweet, but carries with it (to my palate) the distinct twang of ‘damn, i forgot to eat these the other day’. this is not a thing i like.

caveat: as per my post yesterday on cinnamon swirl bread, i was speaking to government ministries all day, so possibly that soured my palate, or perhaps the BRILLIANT cinnamon swirl bread tea made other things seem less than. option 3: steeper error? i will continue to investigate, possibly an iced tea? if my opinion improves i will return and make a note of it.

sorry folks, i have to knock that number down a bit =0(

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 45 sec
Bonnie

Never feel bad if you don’t like a tea or tea brand everyone else seems to like. I tried 52 tea’s 4 times and gave up. The base didn’t taste right to me. Tastes great to everyone else so there you have it.

Ysaurella

+1 with Bonnie !

JustJames

@Bonnie, true… and tea is very subjective… it just seems odd that i’m coming in so much lower than the vast majority!

Bonnie

Example…there’s a popular butiki tea that my taste buds can’t taste at all. Eggnog. Don’t know why. I don’t rate it…I can’t taste the dang tea. This year, I decided not to rate tea at all because I mostly purchase from only a few companies. I haven’t swapped tea in a year. So, seems simpler.

Cavocorax

Don’t worry too much about the ratings. I use mine mostly to signal to myself how much I enjoyed something so that when it comes time to buy new tea, I know which ones and how much.

JustJames

very sensible from both of you!

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91

Dear Cavocorax,

I wanted to write and thank you so much for the cinnamon swirl tea you sent me!

I woke up this morning with (and I’ll be honest) a certain amount of dread in my heart. I knew that today I was going to be stuck dealing with provincial government red tape and that it would probably take hours. Before I even got started I put the kettle on. ‘cinnamon swirl’ I determined as soon I perused the tea stash you sent me. It was the sample I most coveted as we wrote back and forth determining what we would send to one another.

My electric kettle clicked off and I opened the little bag of cinnamon swirl. Long fibers all stuck together reminding me of the tasty goo on top of a cinnamon knot… a vague scent of cinnamon, but not the heavy smell I had been expecting. Well, if there’s anything I’ve learned on this journey it’s not to judge a tea before it’s steeped.

At this point I will confide in you something that I hope you find most complimentary: I followed your written instructions! You always hear about different personality types: A, B, etc. people have always told me that I’m an SC which stands for Serial Contrarian. It’s never my intention to be contrary, and so far as I know I’m not a jerk, I just tend to do things my own way! That said with such a precious sample, did I really want to waste it by serial contrarianing it away? (I just couldn’t risk it especially seeing as I have read frustrations about not tasting what was expected by other steepers). so, 1 tablespoon for 6 ounces of water for 1.5 minutes of steep time…. Really? I thought to myself. Because I am famous for my long deliberate steeps as well as getting distracted and inadvertently making them even longer. Oh well…… instruction following. Yup yup!

The water changed colour and became rust hued, the vapour billowing out of my cup took on a cinnamon slant. I smelled a bakery! Just a second, afk… must take another sip. I’m back. The most remarkable thing happened when I removed my tea ball: mass amounts of red poured out of it! it reminded me of the huge red algae blooms you see in the ocean from space. It just kept pouring out and filling my mug. Wow!

Now, I know the purists would frown, but I added my standard bit of cream and sugar, it is MY cup of tea after all and for reasons that are old and complicated to explain those add ins give me comfort. (and who doesn’t need a bit of extra comfort when dealing with the government all day???)

The verdict: I am drinking cinnamon swirl bread. Cavocorax your instructions were magic! As I near the bottom of my cup there is cinnamon piled there. No floral notes or undertones aside from the warm taste of cinnamon bread. Interesting though because the flavour is warm even as my tea is cooling. This is lovely. Thank you for such a tasty respite from phone calls… and the directions so that I achieved the desired result!

Sincerely,
JustJames

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

Hahaha. Very nice. :) I’m so happy you like it, although maybe Sil is the one you should be thanking! It was her review of it that inspired me to buy it, and she was the one who split the order with me.

I know what you mean about questioning the instructions though – I thought that was a little short, but I guess if you’re going to steep it 4-5 times, you don’t want to put it in the water too long.

Hopefully your dealings with the government go fairly quickly, but who am I kidding. I’ve had to make my own calls and it’s usually always frustrating and tedious. I hope the tea (and resteeps?) make it bearable!

Also, from what Sil and I have so far determined, THIS is the best tea that Steap Shoppe has to offer. They offer generous samples (about. 05 oz), but this one is the best by far!

Fuzzy_Peachkin

OH man! This is another one of those teas that EVERYONE has been drinking. Gotta get my hands on some!

JustJames

@Fuzzy_Peachkin well worth the expense, a very deeply flavoured blend. this tea has overpowered government frustration!

@Cavocorax… i have put a marotorium on tea purchases until the middle of july, here’s to hoping they still carry this tea! it was SO worthy of a public thank you!

Terri HarpLady

I’m still waiting for my sample, but not without patience, as I know it is coming & I know it will be worth the wait. :)

JustJames

alas, patience is a virtue…. but not always one of mine, LOL!

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76

thanks so much to cavocorax for this awesome sample!

in retrospect i think my standard practice of oversteeping may have bitten me a bit because this tea is everything it declares itself to be (ie: i have heartburn and it’s my own fault! lol)

this is a difficult tea to describe: heavy, a thick taste without being viscous or sticking to the tongue, the malt is very detectable as is the chocolate. there are also notes of molasses and is very reminiscent of chocolate stout.

no floral notes, but as i previously mentioned, i did steep for 6 minutes (or so) so it might be that i overpowered them, lol. surprisingly smooth, though at this length of steep a wee bit astringent (again reminiscent of stout!).

if you like artisan ales and are up for a creatively contributed tea, then i’m sure you’ll be satisfied with this one! i especially enjoyed playing up the sweetness with a bit of sugar and adding a drop of cream.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 30 sec

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76

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89

if i had to ascribe this tea an image it would be this: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/black-purple-calla-lilies—1—macro-flowers-fine-art-photography-artecco-fine-art-photography—photograph-by-nadja-drieling.html …this tea unfurls, draws attention, is unusual. you won’t forget it soon, nor should you.

dark chocolate overtones, but no sweetness. molasses. very low acidity. this is a heavy tea that moves and changes in the space between sipping and swallowing.

it metamorphoses in the second steep. it becomes mineral heavy. it has an odd (but not unpleasant) refractive granular quality, but is somehow still smooth.

impressive.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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97

this elegant tea has been driving me bananas all day. multiple cups, multiple steepings and the same disconcerting echo: i know this taste, i’ve had it before, what on earth is it??? i have spent my sips narrowing it down.

the sweet fresh taste from pea shoots, the hollow starchy taste from corn milk when you’re husking it, the woody husks you sometimes find on ripe blackberries. to my palate no part of this is connected to a green, black or puerh tea. i have never had a tea remotely like this. there are no floral notes, only fresh, sweet light tones that echo around and around ‘you know me, what’s my name?’

this excellent tea has had me doing circles today! i even gave up one of my precious sample buds to chew on so i could whittle down the taste contributers.

beautiful clear, lovely with cream…. drat i’ve run out…. must look into buying more….

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 30 sec
Bonnie

This does stand alone. Sometimes I sense nutmeg too.

Terri HarpLady

I also think “malto meal” or steel cut oats with this one…or maybe cream of wheat? It tastes like a cooked breakfast cereal

JustJames

well, i’m out now and have ordered more but i will concentrate on nutmeg and steel cut oats when my new batch comes in! i do believe this one has become my new staple…

Fuzzy_Peachkin

Now I’m wondering if I should have included this in my order last night! Hmmmmm!

JustJames

you were ordering last night too? i was going to add something today (hopefully) but it looks as though their site has crashed =0( —hopefully it’s an update and not something more serious.

Terri HarpLady

yeah, they are probably updating it.

JustJames

hope so… the alternative is stressful!

Fuzzy_Peachkin

Just remember: You can get through this! You will SURVIVE! ;-)

JustJames

lol, i meant for THEM!

Fuzzy_Peachkin

lol! Whoops! Well some people around here do turn panicky if they can’t get their favorite teas. :-)

Lily Duckler

thanks for the well-wishes, James. A bit stressful, but nothing Geoffrey can’t conquer! The site will be back up ASAP- I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s restored.

So glad you enjoyed the Yabao! It was the first kind of tea I fell head-over-heels for, and we actually shared a brick of aged yabao with all of the guests when David and I got married. I wonder what the mystery flavor is for you? Can’t wait to hear what it is if you find out!

Fuzzy-Peachkin: if you like (and if your order hasn’t already shipped out), I can make sure that Yabao is your free sample. Just let me know (or PM me).

Dexter

It’s always exciting for me to read awesome reviews like this for teas I have on the way but haven’t tried yet. Just makes me even more eager for my order to arrive. Nice review James.

Lily Duckler

Quick update: we’re back up and running! To say thank you for all of your patience and support, please enjoy 15% off any of the teas in our shop (good through Monday). Just apply the code UPTIME15 in the cart, and you’ll see the discount applied.

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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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