389 Tasting Notes

90

This was part of my massive Black Friday haul. I’m increasingly realizing that there is a law of diminishing returns for good sales on tea. The more tea you buy, the less likely it is that you will be able to enjoy all of your teas at their freshest and tastiest. Pu’erh can be the exception that proves the rule.

Anyway, I can tell from my first tasting note that this tea is capable of being very good. And I would expect it to be, since I still adore Della Terra’s cream flavoring. Alas, I think this tea’s gone bad. I have brewed this up several times over the past few days and always run into the same problem: no matter how much leaf I use or how long I steep, I can only eke out the tiniest bit of flavor from this blend. Mostly it just tastes like rooibos. I had this happen once before with a chocolate-flavored rooibos from another company. It was delicious when I first got it, but when I came back to it again after a few months it had lost all its chocolaty goodness. Neither blend actively tasted bad. It’s just that the flavoring had gone bye bye.

I mixed 2 tsps of this with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon chips and let it steep for 20 minutes. The result was a smooth, slightly spicy, woody brew. I think the best use of this tea now may be as a base for playing with add-ins. Perhaps some dried orange peel next time?

I’m not changing my original rating because the loss of flavor is my own darn fault for letting it sit in a cabinet for 6 months.

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71
drank Cinnamon Magic by Wissotzky Tea
389 tasting notes

Of course it took me until the last two bags to figure out how to make this taste like more than just cinnamon water. The trick is to use 2 teabags/8 oz and steep it for at least 10 minutes. Suddenly the cinnamon kick is backed by a lovely juiciness. Hibiscus, apple, and a hint of tanginess. The cinnamon is still strong and it definitely lingers sharply. I really wish I had figured out sooner how to brew this properly. Oh well. sipdown

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88
drank Caramel Oolong by Della Terra Teas
389 tasting notes

Mmm. I overleafed so I could start the day with a sipdown. It worked out quite nicely. This is just a lovely caramel tea. It was probably my favorite caramel tea until I tried Golden Moon’s Sugar Caramel Oolong last week. The caramel flavor is pretty comparable in both blends, but the base tea in the Golden Moon just blows the Della Terra base tea out of the water. Still enjoyable though.

Thanks to teamore for sharing this tasty treat!

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drank Gui Fei Oolong by Butiki Teas
389 tasting notes

The dry leaf is tightly rolled. It smells moderately roasty. I used 2 tsp of leaf in ~4 oz of water in my little glass gongfu teapot. 5 second rinse. Four steeps, all at 212f.

First steep: 30 sec. The brew is a pale yellow. It smells sweet, but there’s something a bit off about the smell. Almost ammonia-like. This steep tastes sweet, as if there’s a lot of sugar in here with a hint of apple. That weird aspect of the smell is in the taste too, though. Looking at the tea description, maybe this is a bitter almond note?

Second steep: 45 sec. The brown-green leaves start to unfurl. The color of the brew is deeper – a light orange color. There’s that weird smell again, only…warmer? deeper? That bitter almond (?) flavor is stronger than in the previous steep.

Third steep: 1 min. The orange color is very similar to that of the previous steep. The unpleasant odor is fainter, dominated now by a honey scent. There’s a stronger almond taste in this steep, less bitter but more astringent if that makes any sense.

Fourth steep: 2 mins. The leaves continue to unfurl. I can see now that they are a deep green with brown, torn/jagged edges. The brew is the same light orange color as the previous two steeps. The scent is now faintly sweet with a hint of roastiness. The almond flavor is sweeter but the bitterness is still present.

I really, really don’t like this one. Like, I’m actually surprised at how little I like it. I have never found a Butiki tea actively awful before. Did I mess this up somehow? Reserving a rating until I try brewing this Western-style, but based on this session I would rate it a 60.

Butiki Teas

Hmmm, there should be no bitterness in this one. I would try a 180F degree steep and see if that works.

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82
drank Demain by Nina's Paris
389 tasting notes

I tried this tea without looking at the description or reviews. I enjoy doing that from time to time, to see what flavors I can make out for myself.

This brews up a lovely pale gold. The taste is fruity… berries? peach? apricot? Yup, definitely apricot. Dry mouthfeel. Not bad hot, but so much better iced. The apricot stays natural tasting, with a hint of astringency that evokes the apricot pit. There’s a lingering dryness, but it’s pleasant.

Apparently this is supposed to be a berry tea. Looking at the other tasting notes, seems like I should try again at a strict 3 min steep to see if I can get the berry flavor. Or the parameters Lala suggested: “1.5 tsp for a 8 oz mug, 3-4 pieces of brown rock sugar, 190F (definitely hotter than what would be recommended for a green), 1-1.5 minutes.” (Hope you don’t mind my quoting your tasting note, Lala!).

Thanks for sending me some of this, Christina! I did enjoy this tea, even if I got the “wrong” flavor out of it. Thankfully, I’ve got enough left to play around with.

P.S. I used 2.5 tsps, but the tasting note thingy won’t accept decimal points.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Christina

Hmm, apricot is interesting. I’m not a big person for iced teas, but perhaps I should try this iced. One of the times I tried it hot, the aftertaste reminded me of fruit roll-ups!

Jude

I just tried this today and had the same experience: when hot it’s just ok but iced it really pops!

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92
drank Vanilla Orchid by DAVIDsTEA
389 tasting notes

I know I’ve already written about this tea twice recently, but I have new data to add. I accidentally oversteeped this by 15-20 minutes. Just totally forgot about it while I was getting ready this morning. And it didn’t get bitter or gross!

So, to sum up my tasting notes: add honey to really make the vanilla pop, try this iced, and rest assured that it’s very forgiving.

Christina

I’m so glad you liked this.

Did you know there’s a custom Adagio blend called Kaylee? Thought you might want to take a peek: http://steepster.com/teas/custom-adagio-teas-amy-zen/46213-kaylee

Kaylee

Squee! That is totally going on the wishlist. Thanks for the heads up!

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92
drank Vanilla Orchid by DAVIDsTEA
389 tasting notes

My darned cat just sneezed right into my mug. Ugh. I had to pour out the first steep and switch mugs. The second steep didn’t have much vanilla flavor, so I added about two tsps of honey. Niiiice. It really brought out the vanilla! Good to know.

whatshesaid

Mmmm I’ve always enjoyed this one!

Cat sneeze…funny

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92
drank Vanilla Orchid by DAVIDsTEA
389 tasting notes

Christina didn’t like this one. Good news for me, because I liked it quite a bit and she sent me the rest of hers. Thank you!

This is a nice oolong with a strong undertone of vanilla. It’s good hot, but I’ve just accidentally discovered that it is amazing cold. The smooth vanilla comes to the fore without drowning out the oolong. Man oh man this is going to be lovely as the weather warms. Whee!

Hello.Kiki

I have a bit of this left from my sample- I’ll have to try it iced now!

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85
drank A Day in Provence by Tay Tea
389 tasting notes

I don’t think I’ve ever had a floral rooibos before!

Based on the smell of the dry leaf, I did not think that I would enjoy this. It smelled very artificially floral. Once brewed, this becomes a veritable bouquet. If this is what a day in Provence feels like, then I need to book a flight. The lavender and rose play nicely with the woody quality of the rooibos, which keeps the florals in check. As this cools, the berry flavor comes out. It’s almost like a different tea actually.

Overall I find this very soothing and expect to finish it off quickly. It’s just a lovely lovely bedtime tea.

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72

I’m really enjoying this tea right now. The lemon and hibiscus are playing nicely without being too tart. Sort of soothing and energizing at the same time. Enough so that I’m actually upping my rating by a few points.

sipdown

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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