601 Tasting Notes
I quite liked Simple Loose Leaf when I had the subscription, but I just have too much tea to handle a consistent monthly shipment of more. Their packaging was excellent – opaque, lined, semi-waterproof, and with an air valve like on fancy coffee packages. As a result, this tea has kept pretty well over the two years I’ve had it.
Steeped hot, gong fu style, it’s fairly unremarkable. Just a gently smoky, grassy green. Better than a teabag but not particularly complex. To be fair, it may have been more interesting when it was fresh, so I am foregoing a rating.
Cold brewed overnight, this is very refreshing. The dominant flavor is more hay than grass. There’s just a hint of sweetness. The mouthfeel is simultaneously dry and juicy. Something about the texture reminds me of biting into a grape. I liked it so much I even tried doing a second cold brew with the same leaves. Alas, it didn’t really work. I just ended up with vaguely sweet, dry water.
Shamefully, I am just now getting around to this tea from last year’s Japanese tea box organized and shipped by Liquid Proust. I know senchas are best enjoyed fresh but this is quite tasty even a year later. I will say that there’s no notable cherry/cherry blossom flavor at this point. Sencha’s trademark grassiness is definitely here though. I got four solid steeps out of this leaf. I saved the used leaves to mix with some soy sauce and eat over rice later. I have only tried that before with gyokuru but I have high hopes for it with this sencha.
I wanted to fancy up the experience so I made myself a little snack tray to go with the tea: https:[email protected]/27303333216/ Clockwise from top left: seedless green grapes, rose-flavored Turkish delight from Turkey, strawberries drizzled with vanilla agave, Japanese mini Milanos, Rainier cherries, and Frango dark chocolates. To avoid messing up my palate for tasting-note purposes, I drank one cup of each steep, followed by a snack, followed by the second cup of that steep, and ended with a few sips of water to clear my palate. I found that the fresh fruit complemented the springiness of the tea better than the cookies and candy did.
First steep: 160f for 2 minutes. The brew is thick and grassy with a hint of sweetness. I regret not using a kyusu because small bits of leaf did make it into the cup. Thankfully, the impact was mostly visual – the leaf settled at the bottom of the cup and did not impact the taste or texture of the brew.
Second steep: 175f for 20 seconds. I was surprised that the first flavor to hit me was a slight bitterness. The grassy flavor didn’t really come in until the aftertaste. It’s not quite fresh-cut grass; more like grass in springtime the day after it has been cut. There’s a nice thick mouthfeel to this steep.
Third steep: 175f for 45 seconds. This might be my favorite steep. Thick mouthfeel, smooth flavor throughout, mellow grassy flavor, and no astringency or bitterness whatsoever.
Fourth steep: 180f for 60 seconds. This steep is about the same as the third, which is to say quite lovely. The brew is slightly thinner but the flavor is the same.
Thanks Liquid Proust!
Thanks to JustJames for sending me this! I was not a fan of this blend when I first tried it, but it seems to have improved substantially with age. The leaf looks like a bouquet and smells like fresh, sweet lemon. I got three gorgeous, consistent steeps out of this. Each one was a perfect balance of lemon and almond with just enough of a bready note to evoke a delicate pastry. This tea makes me feel all fancy!
Flavors: Almond, Cookie, Lemon, Marzipan
Another sipdown! Carrot cake seems to be a particularly tough flavor to reproduce. I’ve never had a carrot cake blend that was completely spot on. Alas, I still haven’t. I only had a sample size of this blend so I was not able to play around with it too much. Using the suggested parameters of 1-2 tsp/6oz, steeped for 60 sec at 200F, I mostly got burnt rice and a bitter note. Some rice milk and vanilla sugar smoothed out the bitterness. It did nothing to bring out any carrot, spice, or bread/cake notes. I tried doing the second steep at 180F for about 3 min with some brown sugar. The brown sugar brought out some carrot flavor and the faintest hint of ginger, but I suspect most of the flavor was imparted in the first steep and overwhelmed by the bitterness and burnt rice. I am not completely writing this off – mostly because Quarter to Tea’s blends are generally pretty solid – but I was not able to get it to taste anything like its namesake.
Sipdown! It took me about 6 months to get through about 2 oz of this blend. The trick to getting the most flavorful experience with this blend is to overleaf, steep long (5+ minutes), and add rice milk/sugar. At its best, this is a nice chocolatey blend with a bit of kick. At its worst, it’s a woodsy rooibos with more spice in the scent than the flavor. In other words, it’s never bad but not consistently great. I wouldn’t turn it down but I won’t be seeking it out either.
I’m planning to do a fuller review of Pique tea, conceptually, when I review the sencha. However, I only had two packets of the Earl Grey and have now used them up, so I wanted to write this tasting note while my memory is fresh.
I don’t drink black tea much. I actually used this to make iced tea for my partner. Same recipe both times: honey in the bottom of a glass, add hot water and mix, add the powdered tea, add cold water, mix. It was quick, easy, and tasty. The bergamot is very notable. It’s not overwhelming or too tart, but it is about half the flavor. The other half is a smooth black base that isn’t particularly complex but makes for a solid iced tea. My partner was pretty pleased with it too.
I just reviewed this three weeks ago, but I was going through my notes and found another tasting note for it that I never posted. Here it is!
Thanks to TeaVivre for the sample! Honestly, I think the leaf is about two years old at this point. It seems to have held up well, though. I got about ten steeps out of it, gong fu style (natch), following website suggestions (185f, steep times: 5s,5s,10s,20s,30s,35s… after that I just winged the timing). The liquor is a vibrant orange. The flavor is savory, with strong yam and charcoal/borderline smoky notes. There is a gently astringent aftertaste that lingers on the palate. This is not my usual cuppa but I can see it being pleasant on a cold winter’s day. Bonus: this black tea doesn’t hurt my stomach the way many of its peers do. [Edit: This did hurt my stomach slightly during subsequent sessions when I didn’t eat first.]
I spent twenty minutes last night writing up a review of my trip to Alice’s Tea Cup. Then I accidentally closed the tab without saving. So that’s twenty minutes of my life wasted, plus the time I am taking to write this otherwise unnecessary tasting note. Here are the highlights:
My partner and I celebrated our 12-year anniversary with a trip to Alice’s Tea Cup. We like to linger over their unlimited tea service. It’s called the Jabberwocky, because of course it is. We were surprised to see that the price has gone up – it’s now $100 for two people – but we had been looking forward to it and decided to treat ourselves. We ended up going through four rounds of sandwiches, scones, and tea over the course of 2.5 hours. Did I mention we had barely eaten all day?
The sandwiches are fabulous, but you’re here for the tea. I had the Alice’s Tea blend, champagne oolong, French vervain, and Evening Comfort blend. My partner had the Mauritius and one of the berry blends. He enjoyed those teas, especially the berry one, but I did not get around to trying them.
I was completely enamored of the Alice’s Tea blend a few years ago. It was my happy-place tea at a particularly hectic point in my professional life. There’s something about the natural sweetness and lingering rose flavor of this blend that just centers me. I was very happy to revisit it. If I ever get my stash under control (famous last words), I’d like to keep this blend in stock.
The champagne oolong was interesting. I remember thinking that it would probably be better enjoyed on its own, gong fu style so I could focus on the flavor profile and how it develops. It was good though.
The French vervain was a new flavor for me. It tasted like a mix of lavender and lemongrass. Not quite lemon but lemon-adjacent and slightly savory. Not something I would go out of my way to buy but quite pleasant.
The Evening Comfort blend is an herbal combination of peppermint, lemon peel, and ginger root. It made for a good, stomach-settling, refreshing post-meal drink. But the real winner was a blend of the already-steeped French vervain and Evening Comfort. The resulting beverage had the slightly sweet apple and savory notes of a good chamomile up front with a minty note that came in mid-sip and lingered. The savoriness was a little deeper and more complex than chamomile, though. I think this would be really tasty iced.
My precious Butikis! Most of them have been in very careful storage for the past 5 months while we were between places. Now that we’re officially in the new apartment, one of my first priorities was unpacking all of my teas and teaware. This blend is a year old and still fantastic. It’s sweet and savory, floral and soothing, and all around happy-making.