164 Tasting Notes

85

I just realized I had one sample left from TeaVivre’s very generous offerings that I have not reviewed yet. Since it was time for morning tea, I figured it was time to get to it!

Method: 3.3 g, 3 oz, 205 degrees, 15-20-25 seconds, ru kilk gaiwan

Aroma: Roasty scents, with some hints of floral and fruit, and also a mineral note

Flavor: Toasty yum. This tea has some pretty floral notes, but the main show is the roasty toasty flavor. There’s also a bit of sweetness and a slightly dry finish. This has a very pleasant aftertaste that really stays awhile. I blended the first 3 steeps into a mug and I’m having some difficulty not just chugging it all at once! Thanks to TeaVivre for the sample!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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87

First, I’d like to apologize to TeaVivre. I was sent several lovely samples to review and I posted this review under the incorrect tea! So I am moving the review to the correct tea listing.

Method: 1.5 tsp, 8 oz, 208 degrees, 3 and 10 minutes, ForLife brew in mug strainer

Dry Leaf Aroma: The leaves had only a very faintly floral scent.

Brewing Aroma: Oh, THERE you are! This smells gorgeous! There’s a very strong floral aroma, like jasmine, but not exactly jasmine.

Flavor: Smooth and floral. I steeped for 3 minutes and the flavor was nice, but not that strong. I put the brew cup back in, intending to try again after 2 min, but I got distracted and another 7 minutes had passed!

The flavor was definitely stronger now. The floral is in your face, but I personally like that, so I’m happy. There was a little astringency, and a bare hint of bitterness, but nothing crazy. I will undoubtedly buy more of this to keep at work for grandpa style brewing. It holds up to long steeps extremely well!!!

Thanks to Angel @ TeaVivre for the sample!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Cheri

That does sound good. I’ve never actually done grandpa style brewing.

Sarsonator

I like it for work because my water heating options are limited, but we have a water filter thing that puts out hot water at around 185 degrees.

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94
drank Black Beauty by Mandala Tea
164 tasting notes

So this tea went down in the following way:

TTF posted about it this AM, so I made one cup made with a one minute steep time. Then I made two more cups (2 and 4 min steeps), and put them in a travel mug.

Then I promptly left the travel mug at home when I left to go hiking with Brian. We hiked and picked wineberries. We filled all of our containers and the shrubberies were still completely full. It was glorious! Here’s a small portion of our haul:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/124304184@N02/14781160523/

We saw some turks cap lillies:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/124304184@N02/14781161023
and some beautiful streams:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/124304184@N02/14574608300

When we finally arrived home, I reheated the two cups of tea. Normally I don’t like to do this, but I also hate wasting tea. Anyways, it’s still delicious. What an interesting tea! It’s very obviously sweet, and no additives are required. Perfect for a little pick me up before our friends arrive for Sunday TV night. It’s also a perfect compliment to the lovely thunderstorm currently raging through the city.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
mj

Nice pictures! That stream is gorgeous! And now I know what a wineberry looks like heh. Enjoy your Sunday TV night :)

Sarsonator

Yeah, they pretty much look like shiny raspberries, but they have their own flavor. Thanks! I hope we don’t lose power!

mrmopar

Wine berries make some good jelly. 2 gallons in the freezer already. Our season is about over though.

MzPriss

I want wineberries.

Sarsonator

Oh wow! 2 gallons!!! We got closer to 1 gallon. Gotta bring more containers next year!!!

Do you guys have those in TX, MzP?

MzPriss

I don’t think so. I’ve never heard of them before. But they are so pretty and luscious looking.

Sarsonator

I guess they’re a northeast thing. Originally from China, though.

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94

Good morning, my little tea lovelies!!!

I am drinking this beautiful tea with my breakfast this morning! I was asleep by 10:30pm or so last night and the dogs and Chairman Meow let me sleep til 7:45! Wooo! I am ready to face the day!

Brian and I are going for a hike to pick wineberries which I will use to make wineberry wine, an amazing treat. It turns a beautiful dark fuchsia when done. We are down to only one bottle from last year’s batch. Time to make more!

I love the gentle jolt this tea provides, and it tastes really lovely with toast and butter. Or pancakes. Or french toast. You get the idea…

Have a wonderful day!!!! <3

TheTeaFairy

(Or cherries…just saying)

Have fun berry picking :-)

Sarsonator

:p

I should make a cherry wine…

TheTeaFairy

Oh ya!!!! Booze and cherries, now you’re talking. That would be amaaaazing. I drink very little, but wine is my thing.

Sarsonator

Maybe I will make a Foxy Roxy cherry tea wine in your honor. Oh yeah, I absolutely do make wine out of teas!!!!

apt

the YS one is supposed to be good

Sarsonator

apt: YS has a what?

apt

ailaoshan black. they call it ai lao mountain black which is the same thing

Sarsonator

Thanks, apt! I am going to get some pu’erh from them soon. I’ll add a bit of their ai Lao to try!

TheTeaFairy

You’re going to get some what sarsy???

MzPriss

I usually make some Cherry Bounce before all the cherries are done for the season. It’s ready by Christmas!

Sarsonator

I’m not buying any tea, if that’s what you’re implying, TTF. :p

What’s a Cherry Bounce?!?!?! HoneyBelle! Sounds fun!!!

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45

Not a review, so skip it if you don’t care about my awesome day :p

I went to Harrisburg’s Pride Fest with my mom, my friends, and a wee little baby. We had a blast. I love the drag queens! There was one lonely protester, and I felt a little sorry for him. Anyways, after that, the crew came back to my place and we watched Mean Girls.

Then that group of friends left and two more friends came over, with two 5 year olds. We decided to go for a swim up at the swim club. That was wonderful! It was later in the day, so there weren’t many people. We went to the longest dinner ever after swimming. The food was good, but everything just took about 1000 years.

I am finally home and am very likely to pass out before Brian even gets home from work. I figured this tea would probably do the trick, since it’s pretty much just chamomile, IMO. I hope you all had a wonderful day!!!

Dexter

Good food, good times with family and friends, sounds like you had a wonderful time!!!

Sarsonator

It was a very lovely, but very long day! I am going to sleep really well tonight!!!!

Dexter

There is something satisfying about a good nights sleep after a fun busy day. :))

TheTeaFairy

That sounds lovely, glad you had such a good time :-)

Marzipan

The only thing I dislike about drag queens is that they are better at being girly than I am.

Sarsonator

It was so much fun. I have a bunch of gay boyfriends, so I used to go to Pride all the time. I haven’t been in a few years though, so this was extra fun.

Marz: for realz. Some of those queens looked so amazing today. My fave was in this huge Elizabethan dress that looked like something out of the Ren Faire!!! It was absolutely amazing!

yyz

Thats awesome. I used to work with a guy who used to do a really good Cher and Celine Dionne.

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Holy cheese doodles, I used to live in the Harrisburg area and will be going back there for my yearly three month visiting of family this late fall. Small world hehe!

Also I am sad that my entire ten years living there I never went to a Pride Day, I always wanted to but it seemed that something always happened and I couldn’t make it.

That sounded like an awesome day :)

mj

Sars, I spent a summer in Carlisle, PA and visited Harrisburg then :). Also, almost all my friends here in Minneapolis are gay so I also have a ton of gay boyfriends. They’re the best! I went to Pride this year and we got free donuts and mimosas, plus there was a ferris wheel. Winning

Sarsonator

Wow, I wouldn’t think so many people would be familiar with Harrisburg! I know it’s the capital and all, but it’s tiny compared to Philly and Pitts.

Amanda, you’re visiting for three months? That’s awesome. You probably know more about where to get good tea around here than I do!

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Let’s see…I know there is One Good Woman in Camp Hill, and of course Wegmans has a decent supply of teas…still one of my favorite places to get decent and fairly cheap Japanese greens. Other than that, I got most my teas online (frightfully boring) but plan on hunting some more tea places down while I am there.

Sarsonator

If you want to meet for a tea party, let me know!!! I’d love to meet and say hi. I swear I’m not an axe murderer or anything.

TheTeaFairy

(She’s a pick pu’erh cake murderer though…watch out!)

Sarsonator

Holy crap! I can’t even defend myself against that. I will indeed stab the cakes so we can drink the sheng! Too funny, TTF!!!

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92

I did this as a tea tasting with Cameron B. We prepped the tea similarly and then compared notes. Here are mine -

Method: 3 g, 3 oz, 208 degrees, rinse-5-7-10-10 seconds (blended to one cup), ru kiln gaiwan

Aromas: dried apricot, raisins, steamed rice, something roasty

Flavor: This is a winner, fo sho. This has a lovely and very pronounced fruity flavor and a really intense sweetness that lingers. As I said to Cam: I am pretty much chugging this because it’s so good.

The 5-6-7th steeps (10-15-20) are super also. These have less fruit and more of a brothy flavor. They’re very comforting. These steeps are more buttery. Cam said she gets some specific herbs. I can’t pick out the specifics, but this reminds me of a light soup.

It’s kind of like starting with dessert and then having your dinner. Which totally works for me! Thanks to Cameron B for tea tasting with me!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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88

My name is Kristie, and I’m a sheng addict.

It started innocently enough. I just tried a few, because my friends were doing it. I wanted to fit in. To be cool. It just escalated so quickly.

I was even scared of the tightly packed cakes at first. But now… I can’t keep from busting them all open. I say things like: “Come here, you little cake of yum yums! I am going to poke you with a pointy stick and make drinks from your tasty flesh!”

Some days it’s hard for me to concentrate on other things. I think about sheng in the morning, all through the day, and then again when I go to bed at night. Sometimes I sheng 4-5 times per day. I’ve already shenged twice today and I don’t show any signs of stopping.

The other day, I looked into my boyfriend’s eyes and said: “I love you, Sheng. I just love you so much.” My boyfriend replied, “my name is Brian, you crazy tea fiend!” Then he called Teahab and asked if he could have me committed.

The End. Or is it….

Also, this tea tastes like smoked apricots. Is smoked fruit a thing? Because it totally should be!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Cwyn

I smell it when I am at work. From nowhere.

Garret

I’ve tried smoking fruit, but it just wouldn’t stay lit!

Sarsonator

Cwyn: Maybe we should start a support group. :p

G: Maybe you need a totally different kind of support group. Just sayin’ :)

apt

little chunks of tightly compressed puerh can look like weed

Sarsonator

All I can think about is teeeeeeaaaaaa!!!!

TheTeaFairy

Hey, we do nothing wrong here…it’s all legal. For now.

Ans sarsy…that was hilarious. Really.

Sarsonator

Thanks, my little croissant!

Tea had better stay legal! I need my sheng. Precioussssss….

Sarsonator

I am going to end up living alone in a cave, with 8000 cakes of sheng, a kettle, and a pu pick, aren’t I?

TheTeaFairy

It’s a possibility sarsy. i might be around in a cave near you. We’ll both have our durable mandala picks to carve some pupu cakes on the cave’s walls….and in a million years from now they’’ll know we were there…and they will wonder about those flying saucers carved on the walls…only us will know they were pupu cakes… The end. (I am totally tea drunk)

Sarsonator

Hahahahaaaa!!!! That actually sounds like a pretty decent life to me.

Cwyn

I am just afraid of kicking the bucket and someone stealing my stash. Or my son throwing it out. I will haunt him from the grave if he does.

Sarsonator

Oh my. Well I hope you have many years to come, but you could always bequeath your tea to Steepsterites, just in case!!!

Sarsonator

I think we should all be allowed to live as long as we have teas in our cupboards!

boychik

In this case we gonna live forever, we keep buying tea almost everyday or swap

Sarsonator

Exactly!!! :p

mrmopar

I am the official bail you out of puerh jail man. I will only as for a small portion of your tea to do this for you. I will let chairman meow decide which ones.

Sarsonator

LOL. Worth it! Chairman Meow is real, BTW. He’s my boyfriend’s cat. :)

Marzipan

I am still in the intimidated by pu phase :(

Sarsonator

Oh Marz… Jump on in. Join us !!!

Sarsonator

Chairman Meow, AKA The Most Interesting Cat in the World says: Pu’erh yumz!!!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/124304184@N02/14742665251/

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84
drank Golden Stars by Butiki Teas
164 tasting notes

These are so cute! I don’t know why I didn’t try them as soon as I got my Butiki order. But whatevs!

Method: 6 stars, 10 oz, 180 degrees, 5 minutes, Dr. Who Mug

Aroma: mmmmm grassy!

Flavor: This is kind of interesting. I’m not a big fan of greens, so I really don’t know why I bought these. Probably just because they are so darn cute, if we want to be honest here. And they’re certainly adorable and spiky as they steep and open a bit.

I’m surprised and impressed by the flavor. They SMELL grassy, but I don’t find the taste to be overly grassy. They taste freshly green, but mildly so. There’s a buttery feel to this tea also. I’ll be adding this to the short list of green teas that I really like!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML
TheTeaFairy

One of the prettiest tea ever! So girly :-)

Sarsonator

These are so portable, too! I’ll probably take them to work since the water out of our water filter system thingie is around 185 degrees. Perfect for little stars!

MzPriss

They sound yummy.

Sarsonator

They’re super! If you want to try some, holla back!

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75
drank Paris by Harney & Sons
164 tasting notes

Thanks to Cameron B for the sample!

This is my first H&S tea, and I’m a little sad because I don’t love it. I use one sachet in 208 degree water for 4 minutes. The instructions said boiling for 5, but I always get a little nervous about long steeps at high temps, so I bumped it down a bit.

This one has some pleasant flavors, but it’s rather bitter on the finish. So the sip starts nicely, but then I go BLARGH! at the end.

I have one more sachet, so maybe I will try a low temp, short steep, for the heck of it!

Edit: So, I lied. I did this for 5.5 min at 200 degrees using Cam’s suggestion and it IS less bitter. Mind=blown. How does that happen? I still wouldn’t call it a fave, but it’s definitely better, so I am bumping up the score a bit. TEA TWILIGHT ZONE!!!!!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Cameron B.

With this tea, I find it bitter if I steep for less than 5 minutes. Weird, right?

Cameron B.

But I never use boiling water for anything but herbal, I generally do 200 for black teas.

Sarsonator

Wow that’s so strange. I’ll try 200 for 5+ minutes next time! Thanks for the info!

Cameron B.

I have the same issue with Tower of London, which is a very similar tea. It’s the weirdest thing ever.

MzPriss

I don’t love it either Sars

Sarsonator

Yeah, this was really crazy. I’m glad I got to try it, though!!!!

Dexter

(I don’t like this one either – ewww blerg, but I too like H&S flavored blacks, Florance, Soho, Boston, etc at 95C for 5 minutes… if that helps at all)
It’s ok Sars you don’t have to love them all. In fact your wallet will probably be happy that you can rule a few out from swaps. :))

Sarsonator

Well that is true, Dex. I did love the other tea Cam sent. And I still have one more to try!!!

TheTeaFairy

Haha! This also work way better for me with longer steep!

Dinosara

You used one sachet for 8oz of water? I’m not sure why they don’t publicize this more, but the sachets are really designed for 12oz of water. They contain 2tsp of tea, not one.

Cathy Zheng

Ah, I too will try it at a lower temp for longer. Didn’t entirely love it at boiling for five minutes. Thanks guys

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89

I’m having a lovely evening at home, relaxing with my dogs, reading some Joseph Campbell. You simply haven’t lived if you’ve never read “The Power of Myth”. It’s a life-changer, swearsies!

Method: 3.3 g, 3 oz, rinse, 10-15-20 seconds, 200 degrees, ru kiln gaiwan

Aroma: fruit and new leather. Hey, dried apricots! This also smells like dried plums! And spring forests!

Flavor: This is so mild and pretty. I think this one has a slightly more astringent finish than some of the other shengs I’ve tried. It’s kind of refreshing. It definitely has some fruity flavors, but is a little less sweet.

The only things missing from my wonderful evening are my boyfriend, who is at work, and a huge, puffy reading chair which I do not own. Yet.

I think I am going to work out some kind of goal to read at least one chapter of a chosen Joseph Campbell book per week, and to do so while drinking a pretty sheng. JC and sheng are pretty much a perfect match. I really have to work on that puffy reading chair, too…

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Cwyn

I remember the original TV show for The Power of Myth back in the 80s, read the book back then. I recall his favorite was the Rose window in Notre Dame.

Sarsonator

I have those on DVD and I love to watch them. The first thing I ever read from JC was TPoM, so it has a special place in my heart. I always say that I am going to someday read all his books. I should really get moving on that!

MzPriss

He had very much wisdom and I’m grateful he shared so much of it

Sarsonator

Couldn’t agree more. Is it possible to miss someone you never knew? It must be because I do!

MzPriss

Yeah he’s one of those people who leave the world much poorer when they ;eave it. I will feel the same way when Willie Nelson checks out.

mj

Have you read “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”?

Sarsonator

Ha! MzP, Brian and I were just talking about him on Sunday!

Not yet, mj. I’ll tackle that one next!

mj

I think you’ll like it :). I did!!

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Profile

Bio

I live in PA and I enjoy tea. I also make and drink both wine and beer. Someday I want to be completely self-sufficient.

I’m also a practical vegan. This means that I never eat meat, and do my very best to avoid products with animal ingredients, but I’m human and I not only make mistakes, but in some very occasional situations, I intentionally may consume something containing said ingredients. I make the best choice I can, when presented with all my options.

I like: Dr. Who, shengs, dark beer, dark teas, my three dogs, oolongs, springtime, barbecues, sunshine, industrial music, happy things, men with beards, science, and learning new things.

I dislike: politics, politicians, inequality, the Vegan Police, teas that are flavored with mint or melon, heavily cinnaBLARGH teas, and anti-intellectualism.

Rating Scale (Stolen from Cam B), effective 7/25/14:

90-100: Spectacular, a staple
80-89: Delicious, might buy again
70-79: Pretty good, won’t repurchase
60-69: Just “okay”
00-59: Undrinkable!

Location

Harrisburg, PA

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