103 Tasting Notes
I’m going to start with a little story. Yesterday, members of my local family (my Momma, Grandma, Aunt), went for Mother’s Day brunch and we had a good time. I passed on the horrible restaurant tea and opted for….wait for it…COFFEE!! Egads! It was bad too-only a little sugar made it tolerable. As the conversations moved along, occasionally, I thought of my good tea at home and my fellow Steepsterites. Then it occurred to me-while I am not a huge fan of Facebook (extremely rarely on), I love Steepster. :)) Steepster IS my Facebook! Then I smiled. :)) I spent the rest of the day with my Momma.
I am sending a huge Thank You to JenW for this delicious sample. :)) Beautiful long and slender leaves that are a combination of colors-some black, some black/beige, while most are a tippy golden beige color. The aroma is terrific, with a sweet honey aroma, and lighter chocolate notes.
The wet leaves exude a toasty, woody, medium to dark chocolate sweetness. The thought of sweet potatoes crossed my nose (maybe a little). Then came the smell of musty/earthy fallen leaves. Ahh….the sweetness…I inhaled so deeply, so many times, I was nearly hyperventilating! Is it true? I was picking up on a lighter candy sweet cherry note. Maybe it was just the lack of oxygen to my brain, because as the leaves cooled I couldn’t detect it. Now, I was detecting toasty and wood-like sweetness.
The cup was a dark brown. Where was the bottom of my cup? The cup revealed aromas of sweet honey (raisins?), combined with a musty, earthy aroma. The flavor was quite malty, earthy, and dark chocolatey, with a mild sweetness. The feeling on my palate was smooth, with no bitterness.
Then other aromas in the kitchen invaded my senses :-//, so the review will be continued…….
At 9:30 PM tonight, the Horseshoe Casino is opening in Cleveland. I’ll get there sometime soon. I steeped the leftover leaves from my last steep with about 2 tsp of additional leaf (190 for 3 min.). I hope my leftover tea leaves aren’t too much of a gamble for my intestines! :-//
My second steep unearthed honey, earthy sweetness while steeping. The wet leaves also had honey earthy aromas, cooling to a more earthy than honey sweet aroma. The cup was even darker-or seemed to be. I was thinking, “Is there anybody in there?!”. Oh yeah….there was…I saw my own reflection! :)) My sinuses were really bothering me, so my cup aromas were hampered. I did detect darker honey, slightly earthy yunnan mustiness, and some malty aroma. The flavors I noticed were slight & thin (sinuses), with some mild astringency-not bitterness. This is in large part due to steeping the previous leaves again.
This was not quite the review I was hoping for, but I will review this tea more after dinner with my Dad and a friend of ours at a local sports bar called Bootleggers. For now, I have to bolt (as in Thunderbolt). :)) Steep on steepies…….
Had a great dinner on an outdoor patio with lots of sunshine, but it did get cooler before we left. It was also very calming listening to a water fountain. :)) Good conversation, laughter, and music (Led Zeppelin, Journey, America, Def Leppard, etc.).
So for my third cup (2 tsp, 185 for 2:20), I did read some reviews after my first cup. Some people got (baked) sweet potatoes, or a raisin quality. Dry leaves smelled of honey, malty sweetness with chocolate notes. My sinuses were clogged AGAIN, so the wet leaves smelled mainly honey sweet (possibly raisins), mild chocolate, and some sort of baked sweetness. The cup smelled malty sweet, chocolatey, and earthy. Flavors in the cup were mainly malty, chocolatey, and earthy.
My last cup was similar (boiling for 3 min.), and I added the rest of the sample to the steeped leaves from the third cup. I tasted less sweetness, and it was mainly full of musty earth, and less chocolate. I was hoping to taste some of the baked qualities. :-// The feeling on my palate was smooth and quite full without bitterness!
What a great and delicious tea! I will definitely be ordering some more. This tea reminds me more of Autumn, but it is awesome anytime! Thanks again JenW-this was much appreciated. :)) A perfect end to another beautiful day! I’m gonna go…….seems I keep rambling on…and on….and on. :))
Cupped & Reviewed: Monday, May 14, 2012.
I am supposed to be asleep right now. :// I must drink too much tea late in the evening, although it doesn’t usually keep me up at night.
I tasted this tea many, many blue moons ago, and I was positive I had posted a public review on Upton’s website. At the very least, I was sure I typed a personal rating (private) of this tea years ago. I’ve purchased so much tea from them, that maybe that had to limit some of my ratings; or, because it is out of stock, perhaps any public review is gone. At any rate, I can’t find it so I’ll do my best. :))
To aid in my review, I have pasted my comments for what is this tea, from Amy Oh’s review of #TT51-a slightly differnt Formosa Keemun.
2 days ago: WOW…….This one takes me back at least 8 yrs, and it was $2 cheaper, so not really a huge price increase. Anywho, without giving a full review (and I really do remember this one), I thought it was really good. I must have used more leaf, because I remember a fuller falavor.(<==sp. flavor) It is definitely different than a Chinese Keemun, I distinctly remember it being woody (oaky perhaps), but definitely woody. I don’t remember the Oolong note, and there is no smokiness like some Chinese Keemuns.
Hey wait…….this is turning into a full review…….me done. :))
Well, I’m not quite done yet. It turns out I purchased this tea nearly 9 years, 7 months ago. The more I think about it, the Oolong quality probably was present, but more like that of a darker oolong, and even at that, the oolong characteristic was light in comparison to the woody aspect of the tea. I wasn’t getting any smokey notes either.
Based on the other reviews of the newer Formosa Oolong (#TT51), I believe this tea did have a fuller flavor. Also, if you look at the leaves of this tea, they don’t appear to be as long & uniform. Another way of putting it is #TT51 Superior Formosa Oolong is more a whole leaf tea. Whole leaf teas tend to be smoother in character to smaller, less uniform, or cut teas.
This tea was a very good, full flavored tea, and even though the brewing info below is as correct as I remember, the tea wasn’t astringent or bitter. Thanks Amy for jump starting my memory! I’m glad I remembered enough to post this review, because this tea really was unique and delicious. :))
Cupped: October & November, 2002.
Reviewed: Sunday, May 13, 2012. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!
I love the month of May, and today was such a beautiful day. Warm and sunny, and a good day to get a haircut. :)) There are lots of family Birthdays in May too.
My cousin and his twin niece and nephew celebrate on the 5th. We took in four kitties last year born on the 10th (Blackie didn’t make it :(( ). My Mom’s sister’s is the 11th, my special Beagle, Cookie was born on the 12th-she was born on Mother’s Day! My Dad’s is the 13th, his sister’s is the 14th. Then there’s [EH-HEM], Yours Truly, on the 15th. :)) A dear friend of mine is one day younger than me -the 16th. My Grandma’s was the 17th, & I miss her sweet, loving soul. I’m sure there’s a few others as well.
So yes, I love the month of May. Cookie was a black/white Beagle & Cocker mix; although, I didn’t notice much Spaniel in her. Everyone wanted me to call her Oreo, but I refused to think of a brand name every time I called her name. She was such a loving girl, and really special to me! She LOVED WALKS….WE loved walks, and we spent many happy hours together! :)) She always slept in my room with me like Lotis does now. He’s snoring at my feet right now.
It’s always so fun to celebrate my Birthday with Dad, as it was with Cookie. I wanted to remember her today by wearing my black Pittsburgh Steelers hat, a white T-shirt, and drinking a special tea. On with the review my friends.
When I opened the bad I noticed a stunning dark brown and furry (tippy) beige leaf- very tippy, the colors are intertwined. The aroma….SNIFFFF!! MMMMMMM….MMMMMMM…OMG!! That was my first reaction. The dry leaves smelled like a malted milk shake! Seriously….I was sniffing, until at some point I realized I had to stop and drink the tea. :))
I steeped per instructions using 2.5 -3 teaspoons of leaf. When the leaves hit my warmed glass press, the aroma intensified. Definitely malt milkshake aromas. The cup was a medium brown hue. In the cup, I smelled lighter choco-maltiness, with a light brown sugar sweetness (not dark). The wet tea leaves smelled chocolatey, toasty, with a medium (more mild) roasted marshmallow aroma. The cup flavors were malty , with a nice light (yet full mouth feel) chocolate goodness. My tongue and palate were satisfied without being heavy. I really didn’t detect the sweetness I noticed from the wet tea leaves and cup aroma.
After dinner, I added about 2 tsp leaves to the previous leaves and steeped for 5 minutes. The wet tea leaves smelled similar, but with more of a dark brown sugar sweetness. The cup itself was also slightly darker, more malty, with similar sweetness. Then I fell asleep and woke up to a cold cup of tea. :-// Well, it was still really good and malty, with slightly more chocolate flavor. I’m convinced you cannot oversteep this tea, as it was still smooth, mild-yet full flavored, and not bitter at all! :))
I’m glad I cupped this delicious, Pre-Chingming Golden Pekoe on this beautiful day and evening. A perfect tea to remember Cookie, my sweet dog, and all my family and friends-who I love, and celebrate. ’Here’s to us all’, and to the beautiful and special month of May! :))
Cupped & Reviewed: Saturday, May 12, 2012.
It’s rather late tonight, but I really wanted to log this tea. The leaf is truly beautiful-flat, sort of like a miniature pea pod. The leaf looks closer to an olive green, with white tips surrounding the leaf edge. There is also a light sweetness to the dry leaf.
I used close to 1 1/2 tsp for my 8 oz cup. The steeping leaf initially smelled lightly of corn. The leaves were floating on top of the water, with a few being daring and taking a verticle dive for deeper waters. The wet leaves smelled of fresh cut grass. Not like right there next to me, but like when I’m taking a walk or a bike ride, and the fresh air carries the aroma to me from a distance.
The cup is a light yellow, with a faint aroma. The flavor is very light, with similar green flavor. I feel like I need to use more leaf, so I will add more leaf to the already steeped leaves! I’m not giving up on this one, and I figure by the time I get this right the tea may be nearly gone. :-// Stay tuned…….
Cupped & Reviewed: Friday, May 11, 2012.
I decided to do a second tasting adding 1.5-2 tsps. of fresh tea to the previous steeped leaves. A slightly deeper corn aroma (although still on the mellow side), was evident as the leaves steeped. A 3.5-4 minute steep at around 180 degrees was used. A slightly deeper, grass in the air aroma from the wet leaves teased my nose. The cup was a slightly darker yellow color, and a sweeter, mellow corn aroma was present in the cup. The flavor on my palate was clean, fresh, and bright. There is quite a bit more of a nice, smooth green tea flavor, and no bitterness-despite the longer steep.
Pre-Chingming teas are harvested in early Spring, on or before April 5th, so the leaves are tender, and the aromas and flavors are more gentle on the nose and palate. That’s just the way it is. Overall, this tea is very beautiful, and the aromas and flavors are very enjoyable, gentle, smooth, and sometimes elusive.
I’m sure there are better teas if you want a tea with more flavor, and consider that more important. For me, this tea is worth it once a year. It is a very pleasing tea, with unique qualities not found in most Chinese green teas.
Cupped & Reviewed: Saturday, May 12, 2012.
I’m glad I bought some samples before this one sold out. The leaf alone is beautiful-the dry leaves being green and black, with white furry tipped leaves too. They smelled lightly fruity and creamy.
I decided to dump the 5 gram sample in my glass press as noted below. The cup color reminded me more of an oolong, and the aroma was fruity, milky, and creamy. As my cup cooled, I inhaled the wet leaves. WOW! They smelled very lightly smokey, but there is more of a deep toasty note-like roasted marshmallows….perhaps…but not that intense. Also noted was a fruity, cantaloupe note somewhere in the mix. The colors of the wet leaves intesified, with brighter green, white, and black leaves (with black stems). The cup can only be described as smooth, creamy, and delicious! It also had a milky texture to it, and a sweet, lightly fruity quality.
My second cup was steeped for one minute, at around 190 degrees. The wet leaf aroma was similarly noted, but seemed more toasty and fruity. The cup was slightly darker, and was slightly more fruity and creamy-so smooth. :))
I tried a third cup with boiling water for 3 minutes. A dissipating, toasty aroma still greeted my nose from my glass press. The cup was darker still, but lacking in aroma and flavor. I did notice light green tea flavors with little else. All three cups were smooth and without bitterness.
Today I drank another sample vowing two steeps. I used half the sample and steeped at 180 for three minutes. The wet leaves were very lightly smokey, but with a deeper toasty aroma I noted the night before. The fruity, melon note was secondary, but deeper as well. As I was looking at the bright colors of the wet leaves, it reminded me how when I look at a beautiful woman, she is beautiful! Her hair shimmering in the sunlight. When the same beautiful woman is wet-say in a pool, or on the beach, her beauty (hair and body) only intensifies, as the water reacts to the sunlight, reflecting her beauty even more! So does the light intensify the beauty of the wet tea leaves. :))
The cup is a deeper oolong color, with deeper creamy sweetness in the cup. Flavors follow in toe-so fruity creamy, milky smooth, and delectable. My last cup (190-200 for 3 minutes), was the best of the five. I added the rest of the dry leaves to the wet ones. The only thing I can add is that the sweetnees coming from the cup was so sugary sweet, and the fruit notes were strongest as well.
Golden Jade is a great tea. Not a WOWZAA, in your face, aromatic, palate pounding delight. This tea is still quite delicious! Like the beautiful lady coming out of the water on a bright, sunlit day—she may be a WOWZAA; but, once you get to know her, her real beauty lies in her many layers-diversity, sweetness and subtlety.
Cupped: Thursday & Friday, May 10-11, 2012.
Reviewed: Friday, May 11, 2012.
I know I haven’t been reviewing as many teas lately, but I’ve been trying to drink teas in my stash & finish swap samples. This green tea was received just a few days ago & is from the 2011 season.
It is still very fresh. The dry leaf aroma is somewhat vegetal, and it smells really creamy! So inticing and delicious smelling. I used about 2 tsp for my 8-9 oz cup, in my glass press. The steeping liqour smelled like spinach, and reminded me somewhat of a sencha. The surface of the steeping liquid had a white foam on top, giving it a brothy charactristic of a sencha. Again a creamy aroma greeted my nose. The wet tea leaves smelled great-vegetal, with a mild smokey character. They are also tender, if that makes any sense?
In the cup, the medium yellow liqour had that vegetal spinachy aroma, again with a creamy sweetness, and I didn’t notice any smokey aroma in the cup. The flavor was very full with a really creamy sweet, mildly vegetal goodness on my palate. Guess what? Are you ready?…….Now, are you ready?? OK….OK…There is no astringency (ie bitterness) that is associated with most senchas-not as prepared below! BRB…….Ok, where was I? Oh yeah-there is no cupped bitterness or smokiness that I noticed in the wet leaf aroma. I really liked this great cup of tea.
Sometimes, I resteep the leaves (which I did here), but added another tsp of tea for the second cup. Steeped at 180 for 4 minutes. Still a good cup…vegetal….but the tea lost most of the creamy sweetness of the first cup. Still minimal astringency….I’d say it had a moderate “pucker” factor, but not overly astringent-and not bitter!
The next night, I had two more cups. The first one steeped at around 185 for3 minutes. This cup was much the same-mild smoke in the wet leaves, vegetal (spinachy) and creamy. In short, it was quite delicious. :)) I must not have used quite as much leaf though, because I wasn’t getting the brothy character from the first cup the night before. I steeped a second cup around 180 for 3 minutes adding another tsp to the wet leaves. Again it was very similar-vegetal & delicious, less creamy, and less “pucker” due to the reduced steep time. This second cup was better for that reason.
I’ve been trying to drink more green teas-especially at night. This tea is so good-and at a good price! :)) It is nearly (or may be) sold out. :// I hope Upton’s is able to restock it, because at the rate I’m drinking it, my Gu Zhang will not last long at all! :// As a matter of fact, I’m going to go have a couple more cups right now! Peace fellow Steepies. :))
Cupped: Thursday & Friday, May 3-4, 2012.
Reviewed: Sunday, May 6, 2012.
Arrgh!! I just lost my complete review before posting! What the He** happened?! Many thanks to JenW for this delicious sample. :))
Well it was 5 years ago today [May Day], that I fell and broke my right shoulder blade. What a horrible few weeks that was! I always tried to stay positive during my recovery though. So, today I needed a special tea to make this day more special, and this tea did the trick. :))
I couldn’t detect much dry leaf aroma, but the steeping leaves immediately reminded me of a Keemun. The wet leaves were long & slender with a good amount of tippy white leaves. The cup aroma was mildly smokey, and a molasses like sweetness filled the air. The cup itself was dark brown in color, and again, smelled mildly smokey and of sweet molasses.
This Hunan tea was very flavorful, with a thick, chunky mouth feel on my palate. The mildly smokey, molasses sweetness coated my tongue, and is so smooth-with no bitterness at all! :)) I was also experiencing light berry like nuances on my tongue, which I can only describe as black raspberry. These flavors stayed on my palate for several minutes after the cup was gone.
What a great, comforting tea to start the month of May. I want to buy this tea again somewhere-even if Harney & Sons doesn’t restock it. It is really delicious, relaxing, and comforting. Thanks again Jen for this tea, and for making today a better day! :))
Cupped and Reviewed: Tuesday, May 1, 2012.
I couldn’t wait to try this tea. :)) It is an organic Sri Lankan green with ginger-LOVE IT!!, & organic honey-LOVE IT!! I feel the price was decent for 25 teabags so I snatched some.
The teabag is neat-it is tagged without a staple, so when you pull on the tag the string emerges from inside the teabag. I let the kettle temp get away from me a little, so I steeped my tea a little shorter than usual. I smelled the ginger more than the honey in the wet teabag, but the honey more than the ginger in the cup. The aromas in the cup were rather light, which was just fine. The green tea and the honey, had slightly more presence than the ginger, which was lightly aromatic.
The flavors are not….WOW!!…KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF DELICIOUS!!, but more of a mellow flavor. The green tea was smooth, the honey added a little soothing sweetness, and the ginger a little tang on the edge of my palate. While mellow, you know you’re drinking green tea, with the honey and the ginger showing up nicely, but not showing off. While being mild, the honey and ginger stayed a short while on my palate after swallowing the tea.
I’d surely drink this tea anytime-it has a juicy quality, and was warm and soothing for my throat. See, I can drink a tea bagged tea, and enjoy it! Je ne suis pas un snob du thé! :))
Cupped & Reviewed: Saturday, April 28, 2012.
Thanks so much TeaNSympathy for this delicious Chai! I’m glad I sampled this one. :)) I sampled this first on April 7th-two cups at 3.5 and 5 or 6 minutes, and again today, (with similar results), so I’ll focus on today’s cuppings.
I really like Chai tea, so I thought this one was pretty good. I could definitely smell the cardamon, clove, ginger, and the cinnamon was there to a lesser extent. The caramel aroma came through nicely. At times, I thought I could smell the vanilla-yes….no…I wasn’t sure. The other aromas seemed to overpower the vanilla.
The wet leaf aroma and the aroma in the cup is very nice. All the flavors mentioned are noticeable and well represented. The caramel flavor was soothing, and delicious. :)) The 3.5 minute steep seemed perfect. I really couldn’t smell the vanilla in the cup or taste it. Again, the other flavors masked the vanilla. My second cup at 5 or 6 minutes was very flavorful and not bitter. I thought the vanilla would come through with a longer steep time , but I couldnt smell or taste it.
Truthfully, I didn’t miss the vanilla. Too many dessert blends use vanilla, and usually it is overdone or artificial tasting anyway. Not noticing the vanilla made this chai better! The caramel was a nice addition though. I wouldn’t buy this chai myself, but it is a really good chai that I am glad I got the chance to sample. Thanks again TNS! :))
Cupped: Saturday, April 7, & Monday, April 23, 2012.
Reviewed: Monday, April 23, 2012.
WOOF!! WOOF!! Hello…….My name is Lotis. Six years ago today, I was adopted & brought home…….NO FOOLIN’! I was rescued & kept in a cage for long hours until I found this nice home (or it found me)! I didn’t trust such a strange place, and I even bit Scott a few times-I didn’t trust him either. I was so confused & scared, but he never hit me. :))
Woof!! Woof!! He let me bark, and played ball with me. I played with my squeaky ball, and I played with & ate icy cubes! We still like to do these things, and more! Sometimes we go for walkies, and I still like to chase outside kitties! Lately, I haven’t done that…….sometimes my leg hurts. :// I really like to eat my food with Scott, and sometimes he mixes treats with it. When I go potty outside he gives me even MORE TREATS! :))
Woof!! Woof!! After I eat, I lay under Scott’s feet and sometimes I get sleepy, and catch myself snoring. He pets me alot. I like when he rubs my head, puppy ears, my moustache, and sometimes I let him rub my belly! He always says I’m sssoooo soft, and a good puppy, good buddy, and a good boy. He tells me I have pretty eyes.
Woof!! Woof!! Sometimes, when he drinks tea, I lay by him. Sometimes he drinks tea for a llooong time. He must have had some good tea today, because “good” is a word I understand, and he kept saying it over and over. Sometimes, I look at him & think, “ARE YOU TALKING TO ME??” [Head tilt]
Woof!! Woof!! So, now I am very happy, and I know I make him happy too! We really are good buddies. I even have a soft, warm puppy bed next to Scott’s. I really like sleeping on it, but I haven’t been too often lately. I’m trying to tell him I need a new puppy bed!
Woof!! Woof!! So, we’ll keep doing what we do-eating, playing & chasing kitties (as much as I can), walking, sleeping, snoring, AND I like riding in the car, and so much more! Scott will keep drinking his good tea. I’ll do my best to be a good boy, and we will ALWAYS be good buddies! :)) WOOF!! WOOF!! :)) [wags tail] WOOF!! WOOF!!
Sunday, April 1, 2012.
What the ??…….I’ll have keep an eye on Lotis! I never knew he was so good with computers! :)) I agree with everything Lotis said. Now for a more in depth tea review.
I just heart Darjeeling teas, and this one is no exception. From the bag the aroma didn’t wow me, but while the tea was steeping that changed greatly. I was smelling artichoke characteristics in the steeping cup. In the wet leaves this is more apparent. The leaves are the greenest I’ve ever seen for a first flush Darjeeling, with only a sparse amount of brown leaves. I thought I also noticed a light nuttiness in the wet leaves.
The cup was a light orange color with a sweet aroma emanating from the cup. Darjeelings can sometimes be tough for me to describe. This one was fresh, with mint-like qualities, and fruity like a beautiful Spring day. There is something about this Goomtee though, and I wanted to pin it down-be more descriptive.
As I swirled this tea over my palate it really seemed to sparkle, and POP! Like a sparkling beverage (soda or cider). Sparkling, not like carbonation, but in relation to the way it reacted to my palate. The artichoke aspects were present, but there was (IS) more. Fresh minty qualities came through. Fruity…….but what fruit? The best or closest fruit I can come up with to accurately describe this is LIME, or lime zest. I’ve heard it described in FF Darjeelings before, but I’ve never came close to tasting it until now. :))
This Goomtee is very flavorful. On the palate there is good presence, without being heavy or overly astringent on the tongue. After swallowing, there is only mild astringency in my mouth! What I taste and remember most is sparkling, minty limes, like tropical heaven.
I could drink this 24/7, but I will pace myself and savor every sip-every moment! Like Lotis, this tea is a wonderful gift in my life! :))
Cupped & Reviewed: Sunday, April 1, 2012.