11 Tasting Notes
This is one of the best jasmine teas I have had. The flavor is quite delicate and easy to enjoy. The jasmine notes are sweet and mild, not too bright or “in your face” and they intermingle beautifully with the green tea, which is also quite light in flavor and on the sweet side, just a little bit vegetal. This reminds me of the Jasmine Snow Dragon White Tea from Shang Tea, mostly in the sense that the jasmine flavor comes through quite delicately and the tea itself has a light and clean flavor. This is not a really hearty green tea. It works very well. Simple and clean.
This black tea has a nice red orange liquor and a very full flavor. The mouthfeel is incredibly thick, almost like half and half, and I’ve added only water to the leaves! The initial taste is quite fruity. I’m getting more of an orange zest flavor than anything, but there’s a red fruit flavor underneath like grapes or a tart strawberry. The finish is somewhat astringent and dry with a slight woodiness. This is definitely a robust tea, leaning on the tangy and tart side. Quite unique, but a bit too bangin’ for me.
This was my first time with Houjicha. I can appreciate the idea behind this tea, but it’s not for me.
I brewed for only a minute and a half and the first steeping was very strong. It actually tasted more like coffee than tea to me. This being the first time I have brewed Houjicha, I’ll take the blame for that first steeping. I probably used too much leaf. On the second and third steepings the liquid was less orange and more gold and had a much more mellow taste, so I feel it tasted how it was supposed to in these steepings. The overall flavors and scents are of popcorn and roasted nuts, and yes there is a very strong hay or straw aroma as other reviewers have mentioned. There was a very subtle sweetness in the later steepings. Seeing that this tea is made from the twigs and stems of the leaves, it has a very different flavor than other teas. Though it is a green tea, the picking and roasting of this tea makes it taste nothing like other green teas. It’s much more like an herbal tea in flavor.
I enjoyed this tea enough to drink three steepings of it, but the scent lingered in my room for hours after I finished, and I did not enjoy that. It smelled like someone had burnt a bag of microwave popcorn in my room. I wouldn’t suggest this tea unless roasted flavors are your thing. I’ve had light roast coffees with more delicate flavor than this tea.
I have absolutely no complaints about this tea. I seldom give teas a perfect score but this tea is exactly what I was looking for. I absolutely love the taste of lavender and yet it is a surprisingly rare flavor to come by in foods and drinks. Short of buying a bottle of lavender bitters or using dried lavender itself to flavor other foods, there aren’t many options out there for lavender lovers. This tea from Rishi is exactly what I wanted, and, not to discredit other people’s reviews, but unless you think lavender just tastes soapy in general, there is nothing soapy about this tea. The lavender scent is strong, but the flavor is delicate. It pairs wonderfully with the bergamot and both are equally pronounced.
There is no bitterness to this tea, though I specifically bought this to use as an iced tea and I sweeten it with simple syrup, so that may make a difference as opposed to preparing it hot. I used the suggestions on the package of 1 tablespoon of tea per 8 oz of water, steeping for 4 minutes and it was perfect. Since I made it iced though, I actually used half the amount of hot water and the same amount of leaf, that way when I iced it down immediately after brewing some of the ice melted and diluted it to the right consistency.
At the time of writing this review, this tea is also certified organic, so that’s a plus.
This red tea is deep, dark, and rich, and the red liquor it creates is definitely alluring. I’ll come right out and say that I am usually more drawn to lighter, fresher tasting teas than to dark highly oxidized ones, so keep that in mind while reading my review.
The scent really captivated me from the start. There’s a heavy aroma of malt and a fruity sweetness that to me most resembles dried apricot. I brewed this Gongfu Cha style, with the first infusion yielding a very up-front taste of cinnamon backed by flavors of dried apricot and date, finishing really malty and astringent. Definitely a dry finish to this tea. By second steeping, the cinnamon taste had nearly disappeared and was replaced by a very evident minty quality like unsweetened wintergreen, still underscored by the apricot. By the third brew, the flavor was similar to the second but sweeter and mellower overall and rather than gradually changing throughout a sip the flavors all blended together at once and I could taste them all throughout the sip.
I believe I may have overbrewed this tea. I used 203F/95C water and put 2.5g of leaf per 100ml of water into my porcelain gaiwan. Steeped for 3 minutes like the package suggests. I’m noticing in Eco-Cha’s notes also posted here they recommend much less time for the Gongfu method, which is making me wonder if the strong astringency at the end of a sip is because I brewed this tea too strong. I will say that the flavors didn’t seem overpowering at all until the aftertaste, and the brew color looked correct, so maybe this tea just has a naturally astringent finish.
I’m trying to remain neutral in my review because I’m not too into heavy bold red/black teas like this one. The complex flavor really impressed me at first, but I felt myself waning in enthusiasm as I drank more simply because the brew was a bit overpowering to me in its dry, malty finish.
Some more experimenting took place and I believe I’ve hit the sweet spot for brewing this tea! I went with my usual guidelines for brewing red tea gongfu style. Try 2g leaf per 100ml water and steep 3 minutes at 203F/95C, add 1 minute for each steeping after. This combo results in an orange liquor, not quite the deep red-orange that is so beautiful, but the flavor has a wonderful balance between the dark and light, letting those spicy notes come through with the fruity tones and that hint of mintyness. There’s little astringency to the finish this way, though it still finishes a bit dry. I feel this tea had very enjoyable qualities when brewed this way. It’s still not entirely my tastes, but I could see other tea drinkers really enjoying it.
This puts the TEA in complexiTEA. (rimshot)
Honestly, this tea made me feel like a novice trying to decipher its complex offerings of layered flavors and aromas. For a while I wasn’t sure how to describe them, but some reflection and time with the tea made it clearer, and the later infusions brought out hidden qualities that were present in the earlier infusions but I couldn’t quite put my thumb on before.
This is my first time with a Red Robe. I had high expectations since it is a rather well-known and prestigious tea. I can say my expectations were well met.
The aroma has consistent notes of cinnamon, and for the first several infusions was very woodsy with notes of amber and hay. The amber notes are especially evident when smelling the wet leaves. As for the flavor, it really evolved a lot from one steeping to the next. The common denominator was the sweet cinnamon taste. In earlier steepings it was very woodsy with flavors of sunflower seeds. Later steepings mellowed out and revealed nutmeg and sandalwood. The sweetness accompanying this tea throughout started out like molasses but gradually got lighter with each steeping, moving to an unmistakable caramel note, then becoming more like honey by the fourth or fifth infusion.
These notes all come together to make a really complex cup that is very warming and very “red”. It’s a wonderful and unique tea. Not exactly my tastes, as I tend to be lured by more bright and fresh tasting teas and this one is definitely deep and bold. I couldn’t see myself drinking it often, but I would definitely like to revisit it every once in a while.
As for preparation, I used 2.5g of leaf per 100ml of water, 194F/90C, steeping for 1’30 and adding 0’30 each time.
Let me start by imparting this wisdom: If you are going to try to prepare this the traditional way for New Year’s with umeboshi and kombu in it, you will definitely be getting some aroma from the kombu and a good bit of salty vinegar flavor from the umeboshi. I could not taste the tea much when I prepared a cup this way, so in short, if you want to do the ritual for fun, go for it. If you want to really appreciate the tea, don’t add anything!
Alright, onto the real review. The first thing that really struck me about this sencha was the incredibly creamy aroma of the dry leaves once added to a warm gaiwan. The aroma of the tea itself is vegetal with hints of ocean. Through the first three steepings of this tea the flavor was pretty consistent, with the first taste being that of cream, then transitioning into the more hearty brothy flavor, very vegetal with hints of seaweed. Finally, it finishes with a mineral or ocean note. On the third and fourth steepings, however, there was a sweetness that emerged in the middle note which was very pleasant.
I brewed in a glass gaiwan using 2g of leaf per 100ml of water, 176F/80C with the following steep times: 1’00, 0’30, 0’40, 1’00. Just a tip: It’s really fun to watch this tea brew in glass! Very green and very pretty!
Overall, this tea was pleasant. It’s cloudy spring green liquor seems to glow and really enhances the “Spring” vibe of this tea. As for flavor, it was not outstanding or terribly unique as a green tea, but on the other side of that coin it has a reliable flavor, making it easy to enjoy.
Shan Lin Xi means “Pine Forest Stream”, named for the region this tea is grown. I learned this after doing a little research online. Not surprisingly, I already had this image in my mind, as the aroma and taste of this tea evokes thoughts of pine trees damp with mountain rain.
The aroma seems to me an infusion of pine and rose. On the first couple steepings, the flavor starts with sweet rose and pine notes then gradates to a malty taste, then finally it finishes in a very peculiar aftertaste that is slightly astringent and I’d even say a little salty. It really lingers on your tongue. By third steeping the flavor has deepened away from the heady floral notes and down to a more fruity pear-like taste. The transition to the more malty taste is less pronounced and overall the flavor is more mellow, less astringent, and the aftertaste has become a bit tangy.
This tea is incredibly calming and definitely brings to mind thoughts of the outdoors, so for that alone this tea has value to me. It’s like a fine incense that transports you out of the confines of your dwelling and into the open air of nature. I am very impressed by the changing flavor and the complexity and highly recommend this Wulong. My only regret is that I didn’t think to use my aroma cup sets that are typically used to enjoy Taiwanese Wulong. Luckily Steepster Select sends two samples.
As for brewing, I decided to ignore the recommended brewing strategy on the sample and brewed it the way I brew most rolled green Wulongs, so I brewed this in a porcelain gaiwan for just 1’00, adding 0’30 for each additional infusion. I used 4.5g of leaf per 100ml of water and 194F/90C water.
This is only my second experience with Long Jing, also known as Dragon Well tea. My first was unfortunate and was very bitter no matter how I brewed it (Republic of Tea). However, this magnificent tea from Steepster was exactly what I expect from one of China’s 10 famous teas.
The mouthfeel of this tea is thick, juicy and wet. It has a very lush, full flavor, green and vegetal with notes of earth, quite savory. There’s a top note of lemon. The finish is smooth, slightly sweet, and lacking in astringency. Upon a second infusion the tea is more mellow, more sweet, and nutty tones of almond come through.
White tea was my favorite type for years, but green teas like this one have recently won my favor and I find myself just craving them more and more. I’m glad that with Steepster Select I was able to add another tea to my repertoire and enjoy a very famous and well known tea the way it is meant to be enjoyed (minus yixing pot, anyways).
As for brewing, I eschewed the suggested 180F for a bit softer 176F/80C. I steeped it in a porcelain gaiwan with the lid propped open for the suggested 2’ 30, adding 0 ’15 for repeated infusions and using 1.75g of leaf per 100ml of water.
I’ll admit it has taken me some time to fully appreciate Butterfly Pea flower tea. I was initially drawn to the gorgeous natural blue color these flowers produce. While the scent of the dry flowers is intoxicating and sweet like dried apple chips, the flavor is less than remarkable.
But if you spend some time with this tisane you’ll find that it has a mysterious power to draw you back in for another cup, another sip. It is mild and calming, easy to drink at night, and it is full of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant.
Depending on how you brew this tea you can get a beautiful cerulean liquor or a very deep indigo with shimmers of purple, and certainly its color holds a great deal of this drink’s allure. Simply looking at a cup of this as you enjoy it is very, very relaxing. Adding a few drops of lime juice is not only a nice flavor addition, but causes the tisane to undergo a reaction that turns it red-violet. Drinking it over ice will give you an interesting blue-violet gradient, though it tends to mute the flavor.
I’ve found that I prefer to brew Butterfly Pea on the light side where the liquor is cerulean. For this, use one dried flower for each ounce (or 30 ml) of water. For a stronger taste and to get the deep indigo color, add one extra flower for each 6 ounces or so. That’s usually all it takes.
As for the flavor, contrary to its sweet dried-apple aroma, the taste is woody and earthy, almost smoky even, but pretty mellow. It has some umami flavors that are similar to tomato.
My favorite brew of Butterfly Pea Tea follows this formula: Brew 1 flower per ounce (30 ml) for 2 minutes with water just removed from boiling. Add 30 seconds for additional infusions.
If you’ve never heard of this tea before or haven’t tried it, it is certainly worth a try. It’s inexpensive and very healthy, and you can find it organic from several dealers online. Tip: try brewing it in glass. It’s beautiful to watch the color infuse.