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14 Tasting Notes

84

I always enjoy a jasmine tea whenever I’m out at a chinese restaurant with family or friends, and the floral aroma straight out of the packet took me straight back to some of those memories.

I tried one-and-a-half teaspoons of tea per cup (250ml), which produced a pale amber liquor with a strong floral aroma. The tea was light on the palate, with a subtle floral-and-grass note in the finish (to be honest, as a black tea drinker most green teas taste a little grassy to me, but I don’t mind that).

My wife’s verdict: “Tastes like soap”.

My verdict: I enjoyed every last drop of the first three steepings – I would have gone for at least one more steeping, but time got away from me and soon enough it was time to hit the hay.

I was intrigued by how the tea leaves appeared after the third steeping. Rather than a pot full of enormous green leaves (like the oolongs I’ve been trying these past few days), the leaves formed a “twiggy” tangle, almost a sort of birds nest. Each “twig” was a pair of baby leaves with a lengthy stalk, which I found to be quite interesting. I wondered if this type of tea is typically like that, and I wondered if the amount stalk contributed to the (not un-pleasant) grassy note in the finish.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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84
drank Earl Grey (loose leaf) by Twinings
14 tasting notes

I’ve been getting a bit down on my favourite morning brew recently, varying the tea-to-water ratio of my morning Early Grey, and finding the Twinings product to taste a little “papery”.

It finally occured to me that using my twenty-year-old Bodum french press (which was given to me by a friend as an eighteenth birthday present, and is still going strong) might be a contributing factor. A closer look at the filter showed some deterioration of the stainless steel mesh, and I wondered whether some fine particles flaking off the mesh might be contributing to the less-than-satisfactory taste.

This morning I ditched the french press, added one-and-a-quarter teaspoons per cup (250ml) straight into a glass teapot (without the infuser, as I decided it looked a bit suspect too) and steeped for three minutes.

Voila! A much more enjoyable Earl Grey, better than others I’ve had this week. So maybe it was the old french press, or mayble I’m just over Twinings teas. I’d be interested in knowing if anyone else finds Twinings to have a bit of a “papery” or “cardboardy” aftertaste.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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84
drank Tie Guan Yin by Send Me Tea
14 tasting notes

Today I tried a slightly higher tea-to-water ratio of one-and-a-quarter teaspoons per cup (250ml). Last time I was drinking this tea in the cool evening, and probably paid more attention to its subtleties.

Today I’m drinking it in the middle of a very warm day, and I found that the first steeping had good body but I couldn’t really pick up on that subtle floral finish from last time.

Again, the first steeping was enjoyable but the second steeping was my favourite. The third didn’t really do much for me at all.

Will try one-and-a-half teaspoons next time, and I really must investigate using filtered water.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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19
drank English Breakfast by Twinings
14 tasting notes

To be honest, this is probably one of my least favourite teas, and about the only Twinings black tea that I don’t like. Whether it’s teabags or loose tea, whenever I’m given some of this I usually try to palm it off on someone else.

Not sure why, really, I just find it has an unappealing aftertaste. I always drink my tea black with no sugar, so perhaps this one is just better with milk and sugar (in which case, it’s not really the tea for me). I’m always mystified by how popular this tea is!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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100
drank Russian Caravan by Twinings
14 tasting notes

Since experimenting with oolong teas in the last few days, I’m finding that I’ve gone off my old Twinings favourites a little bit. Maybe because I’ve been fooling around with my usual tea-to-water ratio.

In the past, I’ve always gone for one kitchen teaspoon (ie. a more generous measure than a measuring spoon) of tea per cup, plus “one for the pot”. After tasting some oolongs, I tried one measured teaspoon per cup with my Twinings teas, which seems fine for the Russian Caravan but a little on the weak side for the Earl Grey. Tonight I went back to the old one kitchen teaspoon plus one for the pot, and found the strength to be okay but found the aftertaste of the tea to be a little… well… “papery”.

Does anyone else feel that Twinings loose teas have a bit of a “papery” or “cardboardy” aftertaste? Maybe it’s always been that way, and I just didn’t notice until I started drinking some more subtle teas. Or maybe it’s because I just use plain old tap-water (which, judging by many of the discussions on this site, appears to be a big no-no). Or maybe I’m just making the tea too strong.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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84
drank Dong Ding by Send Me Tea
14 tasting notes

I also enjoyed the second steeping of this Dong Ding. My wife, however, claimed it tasted like “wet socks” and preferred the Tie Guan Yin we tried last night.

The third steeping was still enjoyable, but just a little too subtle for my taste.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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84
drank Dong Ding by Send Me Tea
14 tasting notes

This is my second foray into oolong teas, again purchased as a bit of a punt, not having heard of the Send Me Tea company or Dong Ding Oolong before.

Again, I was unsure of the tea-to-water ratio (being new to oolong teas), and I went with one teaspoon per cup (250ml) rather than the one teaspoon plus “one for the pot” as recommended on the pack.

If it was a wine, I’d describe it as a “nutty merlot” – not much in the front end, a soft nutty body in the middle of the palate, and a subtle short finish. Enjoyable for what it is, but my taste in tea is similar to my taste in wine – big and bold (a peppery Shiraz, a big Durif or Grenache in wines, and a wickedly smokey Lapsang Souchong in tea).

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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84
drank Tie Guan Yin by Send Me Tea
14 tasting notes

This is the first oolong I’ve tried. I hadn’t heard anything about the Send Me Tea company before, and I didn’t really know anything about Tie Guan Yin (apart from the fact that it seems to be a popular type of oolong), so I just took a punt.

I enjoyed the whole experience from beginning to end. I broke out an old porcelain teapot we haven’t used in ages, and was glad that I did – I couldn’t believe the enormous size of the tea leaves after a few steepings!

I really wasn’t confident of the correct tea-to-water ratio. The packet said one teaspoon of tea per cup, plus “one for the pot”, but I’d read elsewhere that one teaspoon per cup is sufficient. I went for one teaspoon per cup (250ml), and the result was a pale golden liquor with not much flavour in the front end, but a subtle yet delightfully sweet floral note in the finish. I found myself wondering if I’d brewed it just a little too weak, but my wife enjoyed it just the way it was. I’d be interested to know the tea-to-water ratio that others use for various oolongs.

After my third steeping for the evening, I simply couldn’t imbibe any more tea. The front end seemed to pick up on the second steeping, and then back off again on the third, with a gradual decline in the floral finish over the three steepings. To be honest, I think the first steeping was my favourite.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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100
drank Earl Grey Grand Classic by Lupicia
14 tasting notes

Earl Grey is my “must-have” morning tea. I usually drink Twinings Earl Grey, but if I could afford it I would drink Lupicia’s Earl Grey Grand Classic every morning. Once you’ve tried the Grand Classic, other Earl Greys seem somewhat bland in comparison.

I didn’t find it to be smokey, but then again as a regular Lapsang Souchong drinker most other teas don’t really taste smokey to me.

I certainly couldn’t drink it all day long, as the fruity notes of the Grand Classic seem to accumulate on the palate over a number of cups, but I prefer more robust teas later in the day anyway.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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67
drank Original Chai by Hari Har Chai
14 tasting notes

My wife bought a 100g box for $1 at an in-store supermarket promotion, and I couldn’t wait to open the box when she got home, just to enjoy the aroma. I drink all my tea black, with no sugar, as milky tea often leaves me feeling a little… well… “blah”. Traditional chai is obviously quite milky, but the aroma out of the box was heady and reminded of when I first tried chai back in my university days, I just had to try it again.

Hari Har Chai outline two brewing methods on their box, the “traditional method” and a “quick” method. Following the traditional method, I added cold water to the tea, brought it to the boil, reduced the heat and added an equal amount of milk, and slowly re-heated. I often find that I have to add sugar to milky tea (unlike black tea), and the addition of licorice root in the blend as a natural sweetener didn’t do enough for me. After the addition of a teaspoon of sugar, the result was quite enjoyable.

I brewed up some more today, and thought I’d strengthen the flavour by gently boiling the chai for a couple of extra minutes before adding the milk. Oddly enough, the result seemed less aromatic and less flavoursome than my previous brews (where I reduced the heat as soon as it came to a boil).

Preparation
Boiling

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Profile

Bio

I inherited the tea-drinking gene from my mother and my grandparents. My sister inherited the coffee-drinking gene from my father – unfortunately I couldn’t save her!

In my teens, I thought that Twinings loose tea was the pinnacle of quality tea. It wasn’t until my wife stumbled across the Lupicia store in Melbourne and brought home some Lapsang Souchong (the Twinings loose tea variety seems hard to come by around here nowadays) that I realised there’s a whole world of quality tea out there.

I drink tea every day, although I’ve been trying to limit my intake of black tea – I recently realised that I was downing eight-to-ten cups of strong black tea a day! I love the rituals in tea-making as much as the tea itself, and I always look forward to sharing new teas with friends over a chat at the dining table.

My father was given a gift of some oolong tea in Hong Kong, which he hands out very sparingly, and I’ve just started to explore oolong teas myself.

Generally, however, my taste in tea leans towards black teas that are big and bold, such as Lapsang Souchong. I do also enjoy green tea, but I fear that Lapsang has ruined my tastebuds forever! Ah, Lapsang, you are a fickle friend…

I live in regional Victoria, Australia, with the missus and three little ‘uns. Coming from an Italian background, my wife prefers coffee to tea, but will occasionally try a new tea with me. My tea rituals seem to have captured the imagination of my two oldest children, and the highlight of 2011 (apart from the birth of our third child) was when my six-year-old was asked what he’d like to drink with his evening meal, and he replied “I’ll have Russian Caravan please!”

Location

Victoria, Australia