159 Tasting Notes
So, I am on a lucky streak! Found a second shop (though tiny) in Ecuador that also sells a small selection of loose leaf teas! It is a cute little place called Bigote (which means mustache in Spanish). They serve cups of freshly brewed loose leaf and if you ask nicely, they will let you buy some to brew at home. Also, a neat little detail, all of the cups have a mustache on them so that when you are drinking from them, it sorta creates the illusion that you have a mustache!
I talked to the owner (who happens to be from the US, and has lived in China for years, and now in Ecuador) and she kindly explained to me that all her teas are imported directly from China, so I have no idea from where exactly. I decided to buy a few of the teas they offered so that, if good, I could have a second place to go for tea when I needed it! Sadly, I didn’t have much cash with me, so I only bough about 4 teaspoons of each that I chose so I could try them.
The first one I brewed was this Shou Mei. I have actually never been a fan of white teas. But considering I had never had Shou Mei, I decided to go for it. The leaves where not whole, but in large chunks. The leaves where a nice mix of browns, greens and a bit of furry whiteness here and there. The smell was not very impressive to me. It smelled a bit dull, but I have no other Shou Mei’s to compare it to.
I brewed 2 teaspoons to 18oz of water and ended up with a beautiful golden yellow liquor. Darker than whites that I have had before, but I was really pleased just looking at it through my glass tea cup. It smelled very delicate, picked up notes of steamed rice and something very sweet and honey-like. It reminded me of some chewy rice milk candy I had tried at some point.
The taste fit in nicely with the smell. I tasted steamed rice followed by something vaguely vegetable with a smooth sweet finish and an even sweeter aftertaste. I got three really good steeps out of these leaves, each steep becoming sweeter than the last. I am really happily surprised. I need to get around to trying more white teas… I really enjoyed this one!
I am super happy. Ecstatic. Thrilled. : )
They opened a small tea shop in Ecuador. It isn’t very large, but it is quaint and enjoyable. And honestly, a huge step for tea in Ecuador. I always had to bring all of my tea from the US or Europe whenever someone came to visit! But, now I get to buy some of my own tea, at decent price, right here in Quito!
The tea shop is called Le The, and they sell a decent variety of teas. Most of them flavored, which is all right with me. I asked them what company they imported their tea from, and the store clerk didn’t know. So after I chose a few varieties I came home and went to work on Google! Since they kept the names on the teas I was able to find that all of the teas in the shop came from English Tea Shop! Confirmed! I am so excited! I am going to be able to get some of my tea right in the comfort of my own country! I love trying new teas!
The first tea I tried was this one. I only found it bagged on the site, but I bought it loose leaf. The leaves were small and dark. Didn’t smell very much like maple, but more like a light lapsang souchong. I decided to try it since I loved 52teas pancake tea so much. The blackness of the tea was pretty monotonous, but not really knowing what to expect, I went ahead with my 2 teaspoons for 16oz of boiling water.
The liquor also smelled smokey, and I got a bit worried. I do not like smokey teas. Not at all. They taste like chimney soot to me (sorry to those who enjoy them!)… I decided to go ahead and sweeten it before I tried it, just in case. I used 1 heaping teaspoon of brown sugar. I took my time stirring and dissolving the sugar. I was nervous that it would taste like a smokey sweet mess.
And… Sip… Sip…. Yum!!! I like it! It actually reminds me quite a bit of 52teas pancake blend! Not quite as smooth and a tad bit more smokey, but still enjoyable. It didn’t take me long to finish up my cup with a contented smile on my face. I didn’t get any chimney soot flavor, there was more of a Maple and Camp Fire flavored Cotton Candy thing going on (hope that makes sense!).
I am happy this tea is decent. I am happy that I can go wander around a (even if small) tea shop! And I am happy that I get to write about it and there is a possibility that someone out there has also had the chance to try it!
OK, happy giddy excitedness is all in writing now! : ) I might have to try this tea again and readjust the rating because my excitement might be influencing my taste buds…
Last night was surprisingly cold for Quito, Ecuador. It rained all afternoon and it got so cold at night that I actually put on a jacket inside the house! (We have no need for air-conditioning or heating because it never actually gets THAT hot or cold. In a way, that really convenient, but also I really miss the cold and snow…) I was really happy for the cold because it meant I had a great excuse to curl up in a blanket and sip a hot cup of tea!
I decided to go for this tea. I had tried the version with no berries in it a few years ago (and I am happy to see that the berries have been once again taken out of the blend!), but ordered it last time I got tea from Teavana and I was super sad to see that it was full of berries. Almost as many berries as tea leaves… My first reaction was shock. I couldn’t believe that I had payed that much money for 50% oolong and 50% raspberries… I wanted tea, not fruit… Oh well… After getting over my disappointment I tried to figure out how much dry tea I should use for my usual 16oz of hot water. It was hard for me to figure out because the amount of berries in each spoonful looked so much more plentiful than the tea. I decided to go for 3 teaspoons to make sure enough oolong made it in to my cup.
I steeped the first brew for 2 minutes in boiling water. I haven’t mentioned before that since Quito is at such a high altitude (3000 meters above sea level) water boils at 194F. Which means that all my temps are off by a bit when I talk about boiling water.
The brewed tea was a nice pinkish color, probably all due to the ridiculous amount of raspberries in the leaves. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually did smell oolong and raspberries in my cup!
The taste was better that I thought it would be. My complaint would be the added sour sensation that came with the fruit. After I got over that, there was a delicate raspberry flavor followed by a tiny bit of woody ending a sweet oolong afertaste. I love that I still had the oolong experience in my cup! It could have been much better if the tart, sour pieces of berry weren’t there to interfere.
The second brew (3 minutes) was more oolong and less berry, which I approved of. There still was a bit of tartness that felt out of place, but the oolong was tasty enough to keep me from focusing on it. Thankfully. The first flavor I got was tiny bit grassy, which I wasn’t expecting, but enjoyed. The sweet aftertaste to this oolong was stronger in the second brew.
I had a third brew of it this morning (forgot it brewing so I have no idea how long it brewed… ooops…). Even though the leaves steeped for a while, I didn’t get any bitter. I enjoyed it just as much as my second cup.
So, to sum it all up, it was good, but could be better. It is a decent oolong and as far as flavored oolongs go. I don’t think I will be paying for it again, but I will enjoy it while it lasts. : ) Maybe one day I will decide to try the non-raspberry pieces added version again… Maybe.
Had some more of this tea tonight. I was craving sweet and creamy and figured this would be the perfect solution! I was right! Wowed again! If anything, I liked it even better than last time! I changed the steeping time to only 2’30" and think that this is the perfect time for this tea. Much less bitter and more flavors!
Today I felt a little more of the creaminess and pumpkin in the brew. It really was like drinking liquid pumpkin cheesecake. The smell was delicious and I couldn’t help wishing with every sip and every wiff of the tea that the cup wouldn’t come to an end.
I rebrewed for 3’00" and got a delightful second cup. Almost as good as the first! Just a little lighter.
I sweetened the first cup with brown sugar and the second with Splenda. Brown sugar was far superior… It added and extra “oomph” to the illusion of liquid pumpkin cheese cake in a teacup.
It was so tasty that it has convinced me to order the permanent collection Pumpkin Pie tea. Hopefully it will live up to this one. I love it.
I hope I am able to make what I have left of this tea last for a long while. Or even better, maybe there will be reblend? I really hope so!
I got a shard of glass in my thumb today at work… It hurt. All day I have been fretting and worrying that a tiny piece of glass may still be stuck in my thumb. Also, I still can’t figure out why there were shards of glass on my desk… I work a desk job, how does glass break on your desk over the weekend and surprise you on Monday as you reach for your mouse!?!? Anyway, this ordeal made me get home in less than a great mood. To cheer up I decided to make some tea and eat some butter cookies!
Jasmine and butter cookies turned out to be a better combination than I ever could have imagined! So good I even forgot about my sore thumb for a bit!
The dry tea leaves smelled of fresh jasmine and hints of honeysuckle (I read KeenTeaThyme’s note and smiled to find someone else found honeysuckle as well! I’m not crazy yet!). I love honeysuckle! It was a happy smell to be greeted with as I opened my tin. I used 2 teaspoons for 12oz of water (wanted it strong).
The resulting liquor was a light yellow color which made me think of yellow roses. An appropriate association considering how floral this tea is! The smell was amazing. I felt that it became much more delicate once brewed (2’00"). The jasmine came upfront and left a lingering sweetness behind.
The first sip was a little more bitter than I expected, but with each sip the bitterness was slowly overcome with the sweet jasmine finally to be followed by a sweet honeysuckle after taste. The tea leaves own flavor was in background adding to the ecperience. Each sip was a journey through each of these flavors. I was sad when it was gone… Thankfully I have a tin full of this tea, so another fresh cup followed the first! This time I brewed for only 1’30", resulting in much less bitter and a lot more sweet. Which to me was a good thing, a very very good thing.
I am very happy with this tea. I generally enjoy jasmine and floral teas, and this one is a lot better than most. The flavor is stronger and sweeter than in most jasmines, so if you aren’t expecting the full blown jasmine aroma it may take you by surprise. I can only say that the extra sweet jasmine kick made me like this tea even more. It will be reordered the next opportunity I have to order from Adagio for sure!
Oh Grapefruit… Such a delicious fruit! So delicious, that for the longest of times I actually was positive it was called “Greatfruit”. I finally found out the hard way that it is actually grapefruit when I ordered “Greatfruit” and had a rude waiter stare me down and ask “Which great fruit???”. Hahahaha… Ooops…. So, once I got over being embarrassed and some reading later, I found out that the fruit got its name in 1814 when a botanist saw the Grapefruit clusters on a tree and decided that they looked like grapes. Vivid imagination I guess… Also, I found that the Grapefruit tree is an evergreen (I did not know that…)! Ok, back to the tea…
The small dark leaves that make up this tea are unimpressive at first glance. Broken leaves all a monotonous brown do not make for a beautiful blend. Thankfully, what it lakes in visual attractiveness it makes up in smell. It is sweet and citrus, perfect grapefruit aroma with a subtle woodiness from the oolong. Very appealing.
I brewed the usual 2 teaspoons of tea per 16oz of water. The liquor was a golden brown. The vapor rising from the tea carried whiffs of citrusy goodness.
The taste lived up to the smell. Sweet grapefruit (reminded me of pink grapefruit, which I can’t get in Ecuador…) with just the right amount of citrus, not quite enough for it to be sour which was perfect for me. The Oolong base worked really well with this flavor. The slightly woody first impression and the sweet smooth finish that Adagio’s oolong base has was a great compliment to the grapefruit. A little brown sugar highlights the grapefruit and dials down the woody (which isn’t overwhelming to begin with).
I really enjoyed this cup. It is perfect to go with breakfast it you aren’t in the mood for something creamy!
I only have a sample of this tea, but I believe I will be ordering more the next opportunity I have to put in an order from Adagio!
Also, I still think Grapefruit should be called Greatfruit instead! ; )
Last year my family and I went to Spain for our summer vacation. I had a really good time being a tourist and enjoying everything Spain had to offer (delicious food, art, culture, etc). But, one of the most exciting parts of the trip (for me that is..) was finding the “Tea Shop” in the Madrid airport. Sadly, it was at the end of the trip and I was about out of my Euros so I was only able to purchase 1 tea… This one!
I had made it once a looong time ago, and it got lost in my tea cabinet. Since I am on vacation today and it is beautiful and sunny outside I made an entire pitcher full of this tea iced! : )
I used 8 teaspoons of this tea for 64oz of boiling hot water. I let it cool down (didn’t actually ice it, just cooled it down and refrigerated it) and sweetened it with 3 packets of Splenda.
The dry leaves have fewer pieces of carrot and orange in it than the picture suggests. The smell of the leaves is bursting with orange smell. Smells just like fresh orange juice!
The resulting brew smells just like the leaves with a bit of rooibos in the background. The color is dark orange, a fitting color for orange tea!
The flavor is what blew me away. Just enough sour to make me think of fresh oranges and enough creaminess (from the rooibos) to make it enjoyable as a tea. And the best part, in my opinion, was that you could actually taste the carrots! I love orange juice with carrot juice! It was a pleasant surprise when I found the carrot taste, I actually wasn’t expecting it to be there!
I am glad I went ahead and bought 100g of this tea! I will miss it when it is gone… Maybe one day when I go to Spain again I will be able to get some more…
Ok, time to stop writing about tea and go out and enjoy the sun with my boyfriend! : )
Wow! Really really wow!!! (Picture me jumping up and down and running around an office with all of the other sane adults staring at me as if I has lost my mind…) My 52teas order arrived today!!!!!!! I imagine that this would be exciting anywhere, but me being in Ecuador made it that much more exciting! It was the first test order that I had placed and was crossing my fingers that it would make it through customs… It did! After a short 2 week wait I have my order in my hands! Now that I know that my orders will actually arrive, I will definitely have to place another order… (and another, and another, and another…) I am now sitting at home (after smelling the tea during the entire drive from work) and made a pot of this tea! Yep, it was an entire pot of tea worthy celebration!
The fact that I sniffed the tea the entire drive home (not the safest thing to do considering the way people drive in Ecuador) probably made you realize that I love the way it smelled. Spicy pumpkin pie with a creamy background that lingered behind. Wow… I was in love with this tea. I couldn’t make traffic go any faster in order to get home to try it.
Once I got home, first thing I did, brew it! I was a little worried while I brewed it. I wasn’t getting the strong delicious smell I got from the leaves. 2 large cups of water boiling water, 4 teaspoons of tea, and 3.5 minutes later my worries disappeared. The tea tasted exactly like I wanted it too. First up there was the spiciness. All the cinnamon and nutmeg that should be in pumpkin cheesecake or pie was there. Immediately after there was the earthy pumpkin. I mean to use earthy in the best of ways, meaning that there was just enough of it to equal an unmistakable pumpkin taste. Finally as an after taste, creaminess. Delicious.
There was no bitter or dirt taste. Nothing not to like. Only regret: not getting more of it…
I had a second brew that was not nearly as good as the first, but still drinkable. I think I will stick to a single brew in the future.
All in all, I can’t wait to place my next order. I loved this tea and I am going to be super sad when when I finish it. Thanks Frank for shipping your tea to another continent! You have made me a super happy girl today! : )
Last night I was up late at a company dinner. It was a ceremony were they gave out prizes to the best companies in Ecuador (it is called EKOS awards if you are interested…). It was great to see everyone so happy and proud of what we had achieved this year. Unfortunately, it was really really long… By the time I got home all I wanted to do was get in bed and didn’t get a chance to review this tea. So, when I woke up this morning I made myself another cup and finally am going to write about it!
I am actually glad I waited on it, considering that this second cup I like significantly more than the first one I had! I guess something about the strong black tea flavor is just more enjoyable in the morning after a long night…
The smell of the dry tea is majorly black tea with a hint of raspberry jello. All in all not bad. There were a few dry green leaves in the tea which made it prettier than just plain flavored black tea.
I used 2 teaspoons for 16oz of boiling water, 3 minute steep (once again avoiding the bitterness that a longer steep gets out of Adagio’s black teas) and a teaspoon of brown sugar. As it steeped tea raspberry became more prominent. The cup was dark and rich. The smell reminded me of the filling of raspberry filled chocolates!
The taste was a lot of black tea with a hint of artificial raspberry flavor. It did not remind me of the real fruit at all. There was no tartness, which for me automatically made the flavor a bit artificial. But, artificial raspberry isn’t necessarily bad! I really really like raspberry filled chocolates and the flavor also reminded me of it! Maybe this tea would be great mixed with some chocolate tea!
I don’t think I will buy this again, but I will enjoy what I have left of it!
Just thought I would add this happy little tidbit of info!
A European sweet shop just opened in Ecuador (Quito) about a month ago and I finally had the chance to go and see what it was about over the weekend!
I found Earl Grey Macaroons! I bought some to bring home and enjoyed them with a cup of this Earl Grey Bravo. The combination was heavenly!
I now have the desperate urge to go buy more macaroons to have with my tea! Or even better, learn how to make them myself! : )