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21 Tasting Notes

35

This tea is so beautifully green! The aroma is peppery and mostly exhibits roasted nutty tones above all.

The dominant flavors are of algae and seaweed, with obvious toasty notes from the toasted rice. At first this tea tastes very briney, oceany, even fishy almost, but as I drink more of it and become more familiar with the taste, this effect diminishes and it is mostly just vegetal. The aftertaste is a little astringent, but not very noticeable.

This tea is a little on the uninteresting side for me. I brewed it in a 10 oz porcelain mug with a built-in porcelain infuser basket. I almost always brew gongfu method with a gaiwan but thought this would be more appropriate for this tea because of the matcha and because the packet just recommends to use 10 oz of water.

All that considered, I feel the taste is rather forward and not very deep or complex. I feel sort of unmoved.

Flavors: Fish Broth, Grass, Ocean Breeze, Seaweed

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML
Amanda Wilson

I wonder if I would like it since I love seaweed heavy teas, but usually I like my genmai-matcha on the sweeter side. Who knows?

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74

This is my first Lapsang Souchang! Yay Steepster Select always introducing me to new things!

I went on the light side for brewing this because I was a bit scared of overwhelming myself. I don’t consider myself much of a dark tea person (though they are growing on me). The scent of the dry leaves immediately reminds me of a campfire. The aroma of pine and smoke is very dominant, and the tea leaves themselves smell very similar to the type of black tea used in Thai tea. The taste is of pinewood and smoke, and yet again the taste of the black tea is very similar to the type of tea used in Thai Tea. There’s a peppery, spicy quality at the end of a sip. I’m guessing the similarities are there because both tease use “lower quality” leaves (4th and 5th leaf) to make the tea, then blend it with flavors to make it more palatable. Chai can be in the same boat.

I can’t say this is a favorite for me. It doesn’t really gain complexity with repeated steepings like higher leaf teas due, but it induces a nice warm nostalgic feeling that reminds me of a campfire glow and all the memories of nature and the outdoors associated with it.

So you have to kind of take it for what it is. The best premium tea out there? Not really. Still good in its own right? Definitely. I think it earned a few extra points just for nostalgia factor though.

Flavors: Pine

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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The look of this mini toucha is adorable. After an initial rinse, I steeped for 10 seconds and got a very bitter brew. I think this may be because in the course of trying to hold the gaiwan lid tight so that the tiny pieces wouldn’t come through, it took about 20 seconds total to pour. I softened it with some extra water. The leaves smell very oceany and vegetal, while the liquor smells smoky, slightly floral. In the liquor scent, I’m reminded of my aunt’s house growing up… dogs, cigarettes, and leather… they were farmers. Might sound odd, but it’s all coming back to me now. (duh-duh-duh dun dun duuun)

The tea tastes mineral, green, vegetal. By the second steep I’m getting more sweetness, but still rather bitter in the finish. Third steep is pretty mineral and oceany, still somewhat bitter, a little less sweet, kind of tart with a subtle pear-like note. Fourth steeping, still very mineral, green, oceany. That bitterness is killing me though. I’m beginning to think this tea needs special parameters outside my normal Puerh steeping guidelines. By the fifth steeping I’m kind off worn out on it. Mostly just tasting mineral and bitter.

Anyone feel free to reply to my review with brewing tips if you think I screwed up. I brewed this tea 10 seconds, 20, 30, etc. I’m going to not rate this tea because my rating would be very low and I don’t particularly want to taint the results not knowing if I just brewed it wrong myself.

Flavors: Metallic, Mineral, Ocean Breeze, Seaweed

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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55

I am back to review this tea for a second time, after initially disliking it and giving it a meager 15 rating. I learned some things about Darjeeling tea which I wish I’d have known the first time around and now that I’ve learned how to brew it properly, this has bumped my rating up to around a 55. That’s probably still a meager score to some, but I try to use the full range of the scale in my reviews, so that to me is fairly neutral, erring a bit on the higher side. In other words… it was enjoyable to drink, but I wouldn’t buy more of it.

But I do want to stress that it WAS enjoyable to drink. Brew this tea around 194F/90C and you are in for a treat! The flavor is rich and warm. There is an apricot-like taste up front, especially in the second steeping. It is backed by some darker bittersweet tones underneath. I brewed this tea many ways trying to find a good combination, and I can say that brewing it at any temperature above 194 made it have a very dry finish and a good deal of astringency. At 194 these are for the most part not present, though still there a bit.

This is a good tea if you treat it right! Don’t scorch it! Really, try it at a lower temp than the typical “black tea gets boiling water” and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Flavors: Apricot, Dark Bittersweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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60

Forwent my gaiwan for this one in favor of a western style teapot.

The scent of the dry buckwheat berries is exactly like puffed wheat cereal (In the USA, think Golden Crisp, Honey Smacks, etc.) It also reminds me a bit of roasted soy nuts. What surprised me is how mellow this tea is. I was expecting an in-your-face experience like my last run-in with Houjicha.

The taste is pretty straightforward. Roasted, nutty, bready, grainy. The one element of the flavor that I wasn’t expecting is there is a sweet floral note above all the darker flavors. It is evident in both the taste and aroma. I’m not sure what type of flowers to compare it to. Maybe dandelions?

Either way, I really enjoyed this tea. I have to love that Steepster Select educates us by sending regional teas that are well known in their area, but many people outside have never heard of. Now I just need to go put some soba noodles and Worcestershire in the skillet! This tisane would pair wonderfully with them!

Edit: Tried it. Awesome. thumbs up

Flavors: Baked Bread, Nuts, Roasted Barley

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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77

This was quite a nice tea indeed, very mellow for a black, and possibly the biggest perk was it had no astringency! Just a nice warm, roasted earthy tasting finish, very hearty and mellow. The noticeable notes aside from the usual taste of red tea were of vanilla and cream. This tea’s scent and flavor reminds me somewhat of Thai tea, which is usually spiced with vanilla and other spices, so considering this was just pure tea, that’s quite an achievement. I feel this red tea was mellow enough to be a daily tea for black tea drinkers, and makes a great tea for traditional Gongfu Cha with a gaiwan.

I really enjoyed it. It’s certainly not the most interesting or unique red tea I’ve had, but definitely an elegant one.

Flavors: Cream, Malt, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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95

The look of these leaves are incredibly unique. I have never seen or heard of Ya Bao tea before, which is one huge reason I signed up for Select, so I could learn about new teas. After an initial steeping, the buds have a very strong scent of peaches and a bit of cut wood. I prepared these in a gaiwan. The liquor is very pale, almost clear like water but with a gold sheen. I love white teas like this. They just look so ethereal.

Steeping Notes:

1. Notes of dry grass and very subtle earthiness at first, then becoming a sugary sweetness with a very pronounced peach flavor. There’s a very subtle spiced note like clove or cardamom.

2. More like the first steeping, a little deeper and more well rounded, more full-bodied and creamy. Lingering peach aftertaste. Slightly dry finish.

3. Mellower and softly sweet, more of a dry prairie grass background and less of the fruit flavor, though it is still present and lingers a bit at the end still. Still a very subtle spice note.

Aside from the qualities already mentioned, this tea has a sort of fizzy or “sparkling” quality, that’s hard to describe, but it was evident in the scent even before I tasted the tea itself. The only con for me at all is there is a bit of lingering dryness when drinking this tea. However, is is really quite a unique tea in so many regards and I am so happy to have had a chance to try it. I will definitely be adding some to my collection soon. Oh, and by the way, if you steep it gongfu style with short infusions, you can get many more steepings out of it before the flavor wanes.

Flavors: Cloves, Grass, Peach

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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97

Whoa! This rivaled my favorite oolong teas and really opened me up to something new and worthwhile! There were so many layers to this tea, it took me through quite a journey through 5 steepings! I brewed it gongfu cha style in a gaiwan for 1:30, adding 30 seconds each additional steeping. The aroma overall is of vanilla and a really sweet dewy floral. There are forest notes in there as well.

Steeping notes:
1. Floral and nectar tastes dominated the brew and it ended in a fruity peach or nectarine taste that lingered quite a while.
2. Now the overall flavor is of honey, a slight vanilla hint and with a slight astringency
3. More of the nectar flavor, lighter and sweeter than any of the steepings before with a hint of fruit flavor and a dry finish.
4. Even sweeter now and very mellow! There’s a lingering aftertaste like cantaloupe.
5. Sweet all around, toasted sugar and nuts.

This tea is simply wonderful. The diverse bouquet of scents and flavors is just tantalizing. There was so much diversity from one steeping to the next, and though the only downside in my opinion was the slight astringency in a few of the brews, overall this tea was very enjoyable and very unique.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
CelebriTEA

What a lovely tea~ sipping it now!

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92

I’ll preface my review by saying I have never had a loose leaf hei-cha before and after trying my best to find steeping suggestions from multiple sources, I decided just to brew this like a pu-ehr. I used the gongfu method in a gaiwan and steeped for 10 seconds, adding 10 seconds each time for infusions 2-4. Infusion five got a minute and then I added one minute each time for infusions 6 and beyond. Due to the shorter steepings, the liquor color is a golden-orange.

Immediately I notice the scent of grapes, smoke, minerals and something very creamy, like buttercream or vanilla. What a complex start!

- The first steeping has a mellow, slightly sweet flavor with just a slight bit of tartness, much like grapes. There’s a honey-like flavor on the back of the tongue and almost no astringency.

- Second steeping I’m smelling lots of mineral and french vanilla. Wonderfully creamy aroma and brew. The taste of the brew is just creamy and luxurious, less tart, more smooth. I’m reminded of a melted vanilla malt. That may be a stretch, but this is seriously creamy. There’s a malty finish and just a bit of dryness, more evident as the brew cools.

- Third steeping was quite mineral, still very smooth but less creamy and with a very long lingering aftertaste that is somewhere between salty and metallic. No astringency.

- Fourth steeping, I’m falling in love with the “vanilla & mineral” smell. It’s really a nice combo. The flavors at this point are all quite mellow and hard to individually discern. Things are backing off a bit, but still an enjoyable brew. Light aftertaste like dry grass.

- Fifth steeping, creamy and light, slight malt and honey flavor. That sort of tangy lingering aftertaste is back. I’m surprised how varying these steepings are. Sometimes an element of the taste will hide for a steeping or two then come back!

- About 8 steepings in it developed this really nice sweetness that reminded me of a Jin Shan Yin Zhen yellow tea I’ve had. I’m thinking kind of like funnel cake with a bit of the fried dough flavor and powdered sugar sweetness. Again, maybe a stretch, but that’s what comes to mind for me!

Overall, this tea was very, very pleasant, and I highly recommend it. It’s a great entry point to dark teas for those who haven’t tried them and is quite a pleasure to brew.

Flavors: Cream, Grapes, Mineral, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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75

This tea is pretty accurately described by most of the reviews here. It has a lot of preloaded sugar, so get this if you like your matcha sweet.

The price was modest due to it being mixed with quite a bit of sugar. The downside is that the amount of matcha powder you get is ultimately somewhat small since it takes a tablespoon of it to make an 8 ounce drink. You won’t be making more than 5-10 drinks out of this, but it sure beats paying five bucks a drink at the coffee shop.

The flavor is very grassy and vegetal, no bitterness at all, really a very lovely matcha. I drank two tumblers full just as soon as I had brought it home. The only downside is, as other reviewers have mentioned, this comes with quite a bit of sugar. It’s not overpowering to me, but if you want to strengthen the tea flavor the sweetness will become too much. I’d settle for a little less sugar premixed in because you could always add more sugar yourself, but you can’t take any away. So far though, I mostly use matcha for matcha lattes and prefer mine a little on the sweet side and with a moderate tea flavor, so this works well for me. This matcha blends very easily and does not settle on the bottom of the cup clump up like some other matchas do. It also mixes just as easily cold as it does hot.

Flavors: Grass

Preparation
3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Bio

I love brewing Gongfu Cha with a gaiwan. To me, tea offers a time of peace and reflection in solitude, and a time of sharing and enjoyment with friends. My favorite tea experience was drinking farm-fresh packs of rooibos that I bought while visiting the Cedarberg Mountains in South Africa, where rooibos is grown.

Location

Kansas City, USA

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