520 Tasting Notes
A few final thoughts here, as this is a sipdown. Oversteeping risks the roasted flavor turning into more of a burnt flavor. Some rice milk adds creaminess and sweetness that complements the flavor of the brew but doesn’t really change it – that is, rice milk is nice but not needed. The bag can be steeped a second time, but the results are thinner than the first steep.
Bedtime for me. I haven’t reached my sipdown goal for the weekend. Still, eight sipdowns in a weekend isn’t bad!
Now here’s a company with some serious style. Their preview samples are quite lavish. I didn’t sign up for one, but KiwiDelight was generous enough to send me her second set. It includes three tea samples, a cup & tray set, and a tote bag. I am completely enamored of this cup & tray set. The aroma cup and sipping cup are clean white porcelain. The tray is sturdy and perfectly sized for the two cups (or just the sipping cup and my little glass gong fu teapot). The letter that came with the set identifies the tray as being made of oak. However, the website offers what looks like the same set for sale and says that the tray is made of bamboo. Strange. Either way, I like it.
I inaugurated this lovely set with the Oriental Beauty. This is the first time I’ve used an aroma cup and it really makes a notable difference. It amplifies the fragrance of the tea, but also seems to reveal scents that don’t come through just from smelling the brew directly. I may have accidentally spilled tea on my laptop while trying to use the aroma cup. My laptop may now be damaged and it may cost $174 minimum to repair… this is suddenly a very expensive hobby, folks. The keyboard was all messed up when I first turned the computer on after drying it, but now it seems to be working fine so I am torn about whether to send it in for repairs if there’s no obvious debilitating damage. TBD.
The tea itself is a solid Oriental Beauty. The flavor is all honey and whole wheat toast. It’s very nice, but doesn’t really change over the course of about ten steeps. I have enough of the sample left for another cup. I think I’ll try it Western-style next time.
Thanks to KiwiDelight for sending me this set and Tea Ave for sending it to her!
Flavors: Honey, Toast
This is a nice, roasty herbal. The rest is going off in a swap, so sipdown!
Still can’t quite describe the taste. Smooth, thick mouthfeel. Flavor simultaneously roasty and almost-but-not-quite floral. Savory. I just noticed that the Teavivre website says this can be resteeped. Somehow it never occurred to me to try and I’ve already thrown out the leaf! Booooo! I expect this to find its way back into my cupboard eventually. Hopefully I will remember to resteep when it does.
Happy pi day! I don’t have any pie-flavored teas right now, so I’m going for a pu instead. This one comes to me courtesy of Angel at TeaVivre. Thank you!
I’ve only had a handful of pu-erhs before. I didn’t like them much (too much dirt/leather/fishiness), so I’m entering this tasting with a bit of trepidation.
I am using one of my favorite pieces of teaware today: a gaiwan-teapot hybrid that I picked up in Taiwan for a comically low price. It is the size and shape of a gaiwan, but it also has a spout and handle. Aesthetically pleasing + easy to use = win. I used the whole sample packet, which filled a little less than half of the gaiwanpot. Per packet and website instructions, I used boiling water throughout.
The dry leaf smells ok. Earthy and slightly oaky. After a 5 second rinse, I steeped the leaf for 20 seconds. The brew is a light golden color. It has that earthy pu-erh scent with a hint of floral. The wet leaves smell awful – boggy, almost rotten. The flavor of the brew is savory, darkly bitter, and muddy. Not a very promising start.
The second steep was 30 seconds long. The golden color of the brew is more vibrant this time. The smell is earthy and vaguely floral again, but also peaty. The flavor is bitter bitter bitter and somewhere under there is still some muddiness.
I would normally add 10 seconds for the next steep, but the second steep was so bitter that I don’t want to risk overdoing it. So the third steep was 30 seconds long. The brew looks and smells lovely, but the sharp bitterness is still here.
I did the fourth steep at 30 seconds again. This one came out slightly less bitter, with a tree-ish undercurrent.
I can’t do this anymore. No more steeps. This tea is clearly not for me. I won’t rate it because I have no idea whether this is objectively bad for a pu or just bad to me because I don’t generally enjoy pu-erh. I suppose it’s possible that I overleafed. I don’t think so though. After four steeps, the leaf only fills about ⅔ of the gaiwanpot. I’ve successfully brewed oolongs and blacks that nearly overflow the pot after enough steeps. Alas, the search for a pleasing pu marches on.
Thanks again to Nepali Tea Traders for the sample! I know sachets are problematic, but I quite like them for the convenience without sacrificing the pleasure of loose leaf. This is so yums. The brew is a medium orange. It’s sweet and malty. The cinnamon was actually more prominent when I made this in a travel mug versus the regular mug I’m using now. The spice here is more abstractly warming than dominantly flavorful. I got a solid second steep out of this bag. A level tablespoon of manuka honey added some sweetness but wasn’t really necessary. I wouldn’t recommend this iced though. It just… doesn’t work.
Overall, I’m not running to buy more right this second but would definitely consider buying this in the future. Sipdown!
One of the rewards I received when I backed an SBT Kickstarter was a Strawberry Watermelon black iced tea. Somehow I can’t find it in the Steepster database or on the 52teas/SBT/Zoomdweebie’s website. I swear it exists though. Well, existED, since this is a sipdown.
My partner wanted a sweet iced tea, so I decided to make this. It’s the first time I’ve used an SBT exactly as instructed. Normally I break open the teabag and use the leaf to hot-brew smaller servings rather than an entire pint of tea. We did use a few tablespoons of honey instead of sugar. I found this blend overly artificial and sweet, tasting just like a strawberry-watermelon hard candy. My partner, by contrast, couldn’t make out any flavors at all, even after adding milk (and then whipped cream) in an effort to amplify the taste. That concoction actually ended up tasting like a tolerable strawberry-watermelon milkshake to me but it was way too much dairy and the artificialness was cloying, lingering forever after the sip. I found this blend tasted best as a heavily diluted teapop. The watermelon flavor hit first and complemented the fizziness, while the strawberry flavor lingered long after. Even as a teapop, though, the artificial candiness was too much for me. I didn’t bother resteeping.
Flavors: Artificial, Candy
Thanks to Angel at TeaVivre for the sample! I used approx. 4 grams for 2 oz of water in my little glass gong fu teapot. After a 4 second rinse, I got a solid 9 steeps out of this leaf.
1st steep, 5s – This is a vibrant orange brew. It’s sweeter than I expected; there’s definitely a strong honey note. It’s also bready with a moderately thick mouthfeel. The wet leaf is shades of medium brown and dark green, long and thin, reminding me of vanilla pods in appearance but smaller.
2nd steep, 5 s- The brew is a darker orange, with a richer flavor than the first steep. It smells like dark bread. The flavor is more mushroomy, slightly reminisicent of Butiki’s Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black.
3rd steep, 8 s – This steep has the same dark orange color and robust flavor as the second.
4th steep, 5 s – The color is the same, but this steep is brisker and less savory than the previous steeps.
5th steep, 10 s – The savoriness is back! Definitely mushroomy.
6th steep , 15 s – The brew is ever so slightly paler. The mushroominess is still present but has mellowed out.
7th steep, 20 s – This steep is mellower than the last and more bready than mushroomy.
8th steep, 30 s – This steep is lighter in both color and flavor. This leaf is nearing its steepable end.
I neglected the 9th steep and allowed it to cool. This is actually fantastic cold. Very refreshing! I’ll have to try it cold brewed at some point.