1282 Tasting Notes
I haven’t had a straight-up comfort tea in a while, so I decided to brew some Harney & Sons Vanilla Comoro this evening. Sure, it feels like a sweat shop downstairs, but with the aid of air conditioning in my third-floor space, Vanilla Comoro becomes a year-round treat! I always drink this blend with cream, which happily I had on hand. I suspect that this would be good au naturel, but by force of habit I adulterate before finding out. Maybe next time…
I only have a couple of sachets left, but I’ll undoubtedly be purchasing this tea again—in the loose-leaf form. Definitely on my wish list for a future Harney & Sons order!
Another aesthetically pleasing tea from Yunnan Sourcing, this Jasmine Silver Needles White Tea smells and tastes just like fresh jasmine—and well it should! The dried needles are very lightweight and shimmery pale greenish yellow in color. Upon infusion they become more smooth and green and look a bit like stalagmites and stalactites, as some point up from the bottom of the glass pot, while others float at the top pointing down.
A truly beautiful infusion: visually, gustatorially, and olfactorily!
The “Spring Snail Shell” dried tea from Yunnan Sourcing is some of the most beautiful I’ve seen. The shape really is snail-shell-like, and the colors range from white to dark green with stunning silken yellow shimmers interspersed. Each piece looks like a tiny sculpture!
With infusion, these tiny snail shells bloom into full leaf sets. This tea is picked as two leaves and a bud. The volume must have quadrupled by the second infusion, with the leaves now large and a striking yellowish green hue. Even if the tea weren’t so tasty, it would be worth infusing just to witness the metamorphosis!
But the tea is tasty, so I have two reasons. I just read the fascinating chapter on Bi Lo Chun in The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea, where I learned that this tea is quite rare, as it is produced only on a small island, Dongting on the Tai Hu (Tai Lake). It’s a very special tea in that it is harvested only once in early spring, before the Qing Ming festival.
One caveat offered by Michael Harney is that this tea goes stale easily. I guess that means that I’d better make this my first green of the day (GOD) more often!
To me the flavor is more subtle and less vegetal than Mao Feng or just about any other China green. The texture is smooth and silken. I have no idea how to describe the scent. Does it smell like roasted endive? What a great comparison (by Michael Harney), but perhaps not that helpful, since for many people it’s bound to be a clear case of obscurum per obscurius!
I’m giving this bedtime brew from Two Leaves and a Bud another try. My last glass was not very effective, as I was penning my tasting note near 5 am. Tonight we’re pushing 2:30 am. With any luck, I’ll be asleep before 3:30 am.
What to say about this tisane. Lots of aniseed and lemon grass, not very much chamomile. I almost feel that chamomile was thrown in as an afterthought, or maybe to satisfy everyone’s concept of “bedtime brew”. I don’t even taste it. In fact, I’d recommend this infusion more for settling one’s stomach than as an inducement to sleep.
Despite the undeniable inclusion of stinky valerian, I’m not sure that the dose is high enough for me. Perhaps I’d be better off with two glasses, but then I’d have to descend from my chambers in the middle of the night. Oh well, this was my last bag, I believe.
A final question: why in the world did this company change their name to Two Leaves? It would be like Starbucks changing their name to Bucks. Hmmm… come to think of it, that name rather fits!
It’s hard to believe but true: I now find myself craving The Republic of Tea Milk Oolong! I went to their website and found that tons of reviewers are completely obsessed with this tea, so maybe it’s not my imagination that it is so good.
It takes like food—so rich and satisfying. This seems like it could be an effective diet aid. As in: a milkshake replacement tea! The entire experience is very positive, from lifting the lid off the tin and being literally hit with the enticing aroma, to admiring the shiny gnarled nuggets, to watching them partially unfurl in the first infusion, producing a golden elixir.
Then there’s the second infusion, almost as good as the first.
I brewed up a glass of this gringo pu-erh blend today, after yesterday’s first ever pure pu-erh experience. I was happy with my little tuo cha, which seemed to want to be reinfused over and over again. I called it quits after three servings, but I am pretty sure that it would have lasted many more.
I was thinking about pu-erh blends such as this Wisdom Pu-erh Chai, which present some questions to my mind. For one thing, how can they be rinsed without removing some of the flavors? Or perhaps they do not require a rinse? It’s strange because the chunks of tea in this sachet do look like broken off pieces of Pu-erh from a cake, along with some dried leaves. So it does look like pu-erh to me.
Another question is whether pu-erh blends should be adulterated with cream. My understanding is that people drink pure pu-erh straight, without any adulterants. Is that right? I ask because this blend tastes better with cream, so I gave it a bit of a douse.
The color is much redder than most black teas I’ve seen. It’s not a red amber, but more like a reddish gray liquor—once the cream has been added. It tastes pretty good, but I think that I’ll probably refrain from buying many more pu-erh blends in the future, given my positive experience with pure pu-erh yesterday.
I purchased this Vanilla Earl Grey limited edition at Amazon.com, unaware that it had been created specifically for Amazon by The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. There was some sort of promo, and somehow I ended up paying about $8 for six cans. Now they are selling exactly the same thing for $35. It seemed like a good gamble at the time, given my love of Earl Grey cream teas.
So the tea. From appearances, this should be fantastic: full-leaf single estate Ceylon along with an abundance of dried rose petals! There are also chunks of unknown stuff. I wish that I could figure out what they are, since they look like neither bergamot nor vanilla to me. What else could they be?
Artificial flavoring numbers among the ingredients, and unfortunately I find the scent a bit overwhelming. This does not smell like roses or vanilla. It smells like something else. I was hoping that the aroma would evaporate off and I’d be left with a lovely Vanilla Earl Grey. Sadly, the aroma is also a strong flavor.
I have had negative experiences with this company before in the past. They use a lot of artificial ingredients which seem to ruin otherwise good compositions. I’ll pass on their deals at Amazon in the future. I drank this glass but did not enjoy it very much. I’ve been spoiled by so many excellent pure teas of late. The superficial charms of flavored blends are becoming less and less appealing to me, and all the more when they boast black box artificial ingredients which do not add to but detract from the taste of the tea itself.
Fortunately, I love the sleek tins. I’ll be peeling off the labels and using them for more noble teas.
Perhaps Jeff Bezos should consider reining in his hyperactive diversification activities. Drones, the Washington Post, $500 million dollar contracts with the CIA, “My Habit”(a social-shopping company), limited edition teas? What next?
For today’s tetsubin of Zen Tea Curled Dragon Silver Tips, I used 5 grams for a 17 ounce vessel. Last time I used 5 grams for 26 ounces and found the taste a bit weak.
This is definitely the right dose. Now the more vegetal flavor is more obvious. The liquor is pale peachy green and reminds me of a cross between Bi Luo Chun and Mao Feng. The dried form looks like snipped yarn which has been tied with knots before being cut.
A good midday green.
These cute but eminently stinky Tuo Cha from Upton Tea Imports were my very first purchase ever of this type of tea. That was more than a decade ago. Seriously. They sat in a drawer alone, neglected and scorned for all this time, never to be infused until today. They aren’t nearly as stinky as I recall, but I figured, how can pu-ehr go bad, really? Perhaps they have improved with age!
The strong scent of the initial sample (which contained 6 tuo cha, now 5) left such a lasting impression on me that I completely avoided this entire category of tea. Why would I want to drink such a thing? I asked myself most logically.
After seeing the throngs of pu-erh devotees out there in the world wide web, some of whom spend time here at Steepster, I realized, at last, that first impressions might deceive. Perhaps it’s really true:
Don’t judge a book by its cover or a tuo cha by its stench!
I tossed the first short infusion and proceeded to brew this tea using near-boiling water, which swiftly produced a dark brownish amber liquor with not a trace of its former stinkiness lingering in the air. To be honest, and a bit surprisingly (or not!) the flavor strikes me as a cross between a Yunnan black and a Lapsang Souchong tea. Does anyone else find similarities between pu-erh and Lapsang? Or is it just this particular batch?
Anyway, it’s good, and now I’m off to the races for many new adventures in the vast land of pu-erh! I needed to clear this hurdle before I could try any other pure pu-erhs. Mission accomplished, and happily, too!
As a part of my oolong literacy campaign, I recently ordered a sample of Li Shan from Harney & Sons. Must have been the luck of the draw, but this envelope contained 14 grams, while the others contained from 4 to 8 or 9 grams. Luck indeed, because this tea is delicious!
I was looking forward to trying another new oolong near the green end of the spectrum, and I simply assumed that Ali Shan, which is covered in The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea was the same as Li Shan. Apparently this is not the case, as the author explains that Li Shan is now competing with Ali Shan.
In some ways, it was a relief, as I really did not detect the listed tasting notes for Ali Shan: gardenia, lilac, key lime pie, … what?
Instead, I found Li Shan to smack vaguely of something half-way between tarragon and licorice! It also smelled floral, but I was unable to identify any particular flower.
The flavor was (past tense, since I already downed the whole glass!) so delicious, and the texture reminded me of milk oolong. Now I see that honey and cream are the company’s tasting notes for this particular oolong, so probably this is similar to milk oolong. The gnarled dark green nuggets do bear a resemblance to the unflavored milk oolongs I’ve tried so far. Even though I still have 11 grams left of this tea, it’s already going on my wish list.
The liquor is bright yellow with a slight tinge of green. What a joy to imbibe!