70 Tasting Notes
I hadn’t delved too deeply into the negative reviews before purchasing this kettle. Perhaps part of me stubbornly wanted to believe it would be as amazing and useful as it looks. Now that I have, I’m a little leery, but so far, so good.
The gooseneck spout is a godsend. It allows for a very precise pour and the speed at which the water comes out is just perfect. It takes about 4-5 seconds to fill it up the gaiwan and gives the tea leaves a nice swirl before leaving them to steep. Alternatively if I am brewing a very delicate tea that should not be agitated, the gooseneck allows for a very slow but steady pour that will not rustle the leaves much. In terms of pouring, this kettle is the best I have tried, hands down. The pistol grip is also very comfortable and the 1-liter size is perfect for what I’m using it for. I need a smaller kettle like this one so I can get a more controlled pour. It’s easier to maneuver since it is less heavy. It allows for more elegant motion of the wrists.
I am concerned, however, by the reviews I’ve read about potential electrical problems and rust after repeated use. These problems appear to be so frequent that I am already uneasy about the product and feel like I am using it with anticipation for something going wrong. Lucikly, there is a 1-year warranty so as long as you’re okay with having to wait on the company to replace it, in theory, you should be covered in the event something goes wrong. The 1-year warranty was a selling point for me because my last kettle from another company crapped out after 6 months of use and only had a 90 day warranty.
My biggest complaint from use is that the heating element makes a very noticeable sound, clicking on and off as it tries to reach the set temperature. Sometimes the element will click on and off every few seconds for a while, so the sound can be very frequent. If repetitive clicking sounds annoy you, this could be a bad investment for you. I was put off by this at first but learned to ignore it. I expect some noise from a kettle, and this one roars a lot less as the water heats than previous ones I’ve owned.
I don’t know if this is a real problem or not, but the LED screen flickers when the kettle is heating. I haven’t had this problem with my Pino Digital Kettle Pro, which has almost an identical temperature readout and base. However, as that was the kettle that quit working after 6 months of use, I can’t really compare whether this type of problem is worth fretting over or just a minor glitch. As long as it does not lead to the readout not functioning, I’m okay with it.
The included plastic screen to cover the base is a really nice accessory, though I’m not sure how necessary it is since the base doesn’t really appear to have many seams where water could leak into it anyway. The sticker included did say it is for commercial or frequent use. I guess it is meant to be used in an environment where the potential to spill something on it is high, or where there’s a bit of hustle and bustle or moving around of objects.
The plastic base of the kettle(not the control unit it sits on) is a bit wobbly on mine and does not sit flush with the stainless steel. While this doesn’t seem to affect the functionality or cause the kettle to wobble when seated, it feels like cheap manufacturing and I wonder if water dripping from the sides of the kettle (from condensation inside the lid when you remove it or put it back on) may get trapped in this seam and cause rust over time. In theory, it shouldn’t, since the product is supposed to be stainless steel.
The timer function is nice, but only operates when the kettle is not seated on the base, so prepare to sit the kettle down elsewhere if you want to run the timer. It counts upward from zero so you don’t have to set it, but you do have to pay attention to it as there is no beeper or anything to alert you when it reaches a certain time.
As for the preset temperatures, I feel somewhat misled by the product description. I thought it was possible to have user-defined presets, but it is not. The wording on that should be a little more clear. You can, however, cycle through the presets to get to a temperature close to where you want it and just dial from there to reach the desired temp. It saves time from having to dial all the way from a low temp to a high one or vice versa.
One other thing. I had this plugged into a power strip with some other appliances and it took substantially longer to heat up than when plugged into the wall outlet directly. It may be beneficial to only use this directly with an outlet. The cord is not as short as some reviews say. It is about 3 feet long and can be wound underneath the base to store it away, though this is more difficult than it should be and it can easily get stuck under there, so I’m not sure how useful the function really is or if I’ll be using it often.
It performs the core tasks I need it to: heat water to any specific temperature and hold it there, and offers a very controlled pour. Anything beyond that I would say is bells and whistles, but as far as the bells and whistles go, I’d say it’s important to deliver what you lead your customers to expect they’ll be getting, and not sacrifice quality or functionality for extra features. The preset and timer functions are a little half-assed to me, so not as great a selling point as I originally considered, but still they are handy to an extent. The missing points on the score I gave it are partly due to the features that could be better incorporated and partly due to the questionable manufacturing quality.
I would not really recommend ordering this kettle for the full price of 95 dollars, as I don’t think its quality or track record warrant anywhere near that price. It will occasionally drop in price on Amazon. When I ordered it it was 60 dollars, so keep an eye out. I think 60 dollars is worth the try, but 95 is putting too much burden on the buyer for the questionable quality.
This is my 50th Steepster review! WOOOO! fireworks
I decided to do something special and be somewhat of a pioneer. I haven’t seen any tea pets here on Steepster but since they’ve begun allowing reviews for teawares I figured I’d introduce one of mine and see if this flies. While it is not essential to making tea, it is definitely a tea accessory and is a product made specifically for use with tea, so hopefully this is acceptable.
I ordered this tiger tea pet from a site called AliExpress. It’s an online marketplace where many vendors from Asia sell their wares. I’ve named him Inaba and he is my third tea pet. For those of you unfamiliar with tea pets, they are more often used in Taiwanese Gongfu Cha than in Chinese. They are little companions that sit at the tea table for use when rinse water is poured out from the gaiwan and tasting cups. The rinse water is poured over the tea pet, and in the case of this type, it causes him to rapidly and dramatically change colors! It’s kind of showy and some find that it distracts from the appreciation of the tea, so it is not used by all Gongfu practitioners.
As for Inaba, he is my favorite tea pet so far for a few reasons. First, the dramatic color change is really wonderful to watch. The color changes instantly as you douse him with hot water, so it looks like you’re rinsing him clean, but the dark color only returns over a period of a minute or two so it slowly grows more dark. Second, he is the smallest tea pet I own now. He’s only about 4.5 inches long and 4 inches tall, so he fits very well on even my small personal sized Gongfu table.
He is climbing on a hill of money, so maybe he can bring you prosperity, fortune and good luck if you offer him some delicious tea! Hehe. ;3
All in all, I find this tea pet to be a charming addition to a Gongfu Tea Table. I like that the initial colors make it appear to be a solid colored statue. If you are serving guests, it may come as a surprise when you rinse him and he shows such vivid colors! Tea pets are definitely a fun conversation piece for tea gatherings and can be a nice icebreaker if you are serving new guests.
I’m going to rate this guy very highly but not perfect. If you look at him up close the detail on the painting can be a little off in some spots. That is the only aesthetic downside to him, but it is not really too noticeable and for the price these usually cost, it is totally acceptable to me.
If you are considering getting a tea pet, I highly recommend him, though there are so many types out there it may be your personal preference to get another type. If you are looking for one with a strong color change, however, this one is awesome, and as mentioned before, he is very compact and unobtrusive to the tea area.
He brings elegance and power to the tea table! Rawr!
Oh no, I’m the first to review it. Pressure!
Haha. Okay, so this 88th Night Shincha is kind of magical. It’s traditionally picked on the 88th night of spring , 88 nights after the Vernal Equinox (which puts it somewhere around June 17th most years if I counted right).
This shincha smells a lot like a high quality matcha to me. It is very rich. I’m getting lots of green leafy notes, some pistachio and a hint of green bean in the scent. In the taste it is vegetal and nutty like pistachio, mellow and has a nice sweetness to it, not a sugary sweetness mind you, more of a mild sweetness like you might describe some vegetables as having (carrots for example). There are delicate hints of mint. It’s lacking the mineral and ocean qualities I’ve tasted in other senchas, which is a nice parting from what I’m used to. The color is a beautiful green-yellow.
I’m gonna have to say this is the best sencha I have had yet. I have only had maybe 4 or 5 so my experience with them is not too broad, but this one is definitely the most enjoyable to me, for its mellow sweetness and hearty vegetal taste. Oh, and if anyone is curious, shincha is a first flush (first harvest) sencha, so that’s why I am comparing the two. :3
Edit: I served this tea at an event I held at my house where I served night-themed teas and it was a favorite among the guests. They said it tasted like a green smoothie. I can’t argue with that!
Flavors: Mint, Nuts, Sweet, Vegetal
This Fu Shou Shan has a very flowery presence, some light buttery vegetal notes and is rather creamy. There’s also a good deal of foresty, pine like notes.
All around a pretty solid Taiwanese oolong. Nothing surprising, but pretty good.
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Pine, Vegetal
The scent notes on this one are quite unexpected: rose, perfume, amber, green bean. It reminds me of some shampoos and lotions.
The taste is like… paper, with a hint of hay and malt. Very slight hint of ocean and on later steepings it actually tasted like the smell of amber. Strange.
It’s not bad tasting, but it is kind of bland to me. I feel rather unaffected by it. The perfumey notes are a bit much for me.
Flavors: Hay, Malt, Ocean Air, Paper
Myahaaa! CRAZY CAT ALERT!
Okay, so there are times in my tea journey when I encounter a tea that is… for lack of a better term… catnip… to me. In fact, I am surprised this is happening now, because there is only one tea that does that to me up to this point! To elaborate… I am just so intoxicated and shocked by the flavor… it’s like I’m discovering flavors I never knew existed. I can hardly begin to describe the incredible freshness and enjoyability of this tea… and due to not knowing exactly what to think except “WHOA!” I get this giddy cat-on-nip reaction that makes me make vocal noises of pleasure after each of the first few sips. The next several sips all I do is wildly brag to my guests or friends about just how wonderful it is. I preach and yet I feel rather like just flailing around and doing donuts on the carpet. This is only the fourth tea I’ve tried out of hundreds I’ve tried now that I’ve given a perfect 100 score in my review here on Steepster.
Okay, so, where to begin with this? I’ll start with Stacy’s tasting notes from the website because they are spot-on. Fresh cream, churned butter, roasted cashew, grilled corn, banana, and green bean… it’s all there, though if I were to order them by predominance with the most obvious first it’d go like this… Fresh cream, grilled corn, banana, churned butter, green bean, roasted cashew. I will be honest. I ate some roasted cashews about half an hour before I drank this tea… though I had a few palate cleansing foods and drinks in between, so I don’t think that it masked the cashew flavor in this tea necessarily. Rather, having that close of a comparison… I’d say it may be the one tasting note I’m not really getting much of from Stacy’s observations. I wouldn’t describe it as cashew. I will add one though.
Sugar cookie. Oh yes. I wasn’t expecting anything like this. When I poured the first infusion from my gaiwan to the fair cup, nowhere near me, I was met with a whiff of tea steam that made me do a double take. It smelled INCREDIBLE.
I’d say I have a decently sensitive palate. Really light white teas and even some oolong and green can on occasion taste like hot water with a bit of salt or honey or sugar added and not much complexity. I understand that feeling, but I have found that when this occurs I can usually brew the tea a different way and many more flavors emerge (more or less leaf, different time or temp). Also, I can’t stress enough that for brewing very light teas like whites, you really should be using very neutral tasting water. I used spring water for the longest time until I realized a certain evil monolothic chain grocer here in the US has filtration stations in all their stores that use sediment filters, carbon filters, reverse osmosis filters, and uv filters (all 4 together) to give you some very clean tasting and slick feeling local water for substantially cheaper than spring water. Even with home filtration systems, I often taste a lot of mineral and chemical and that can easily overpower light teas. I even did a blind taste test against the spring water I liked with my favorite teas, and the filtered water from the store won out.
Off my pulpit about water quality, just a tip for those who say they are tasting “hot water”, this tea was very full of flavor and is a totally different creature from any of the Chinese Silver Needles I’ve had before. Those tend to have notes of fruits like peach or melon, sweet honey and nectar notes as well. This tea is creamy, light and yet rich… like a chantilly cake. The ending notes of a sip carry the light vegetal quality, which is a bit like a sweet green bean or snap pea. I can see where others say this is like a mellowed down Chinese green tea.
I used 2 grams of needles per 100ml of water (that’s about a heaping tablespoon per 3 oz). Brewed it gongfu style for 1 minute, adding 15 seconds each time at 185F. There was never any dryness at all on any infusion.
Now I need to see how long I can prevent myself from ordering insane quantities of this tea.
Flavors: banana, Butter, Cookie, Corn Husk, Cream, Green Beans
I’ve begun to feel guilty when I leave poor reviews for a tea. I think because the tea world can be a bit tightly knit and many of our tea vendors are private businesses run by very nice people the relations often feel personal to an extent and I feel like such a bad customer leaving a negative review of a tea. On the other hand, I think the feedback might help vendors decide which teas to continue investing in and which to discontinue, if sales numbers don’t speak for themselves, so I try to just be as straightforward as I can. It’s hard though not to feel a little bad for it sometimes.
As for Golden Stars, there is another review here that mentions the tea having a bit of a “plastic” smell. I am totally getting that. It reminds me of a painted yixing style pot I got recently that was not actual yixing clay, but painted to look more attractive. The paint has a faint plastic aroma to it and when brewing in that vessel you can smell and taste it in the tea. My Golden Stars were brewed in a glazed gaiwan that contributes no aroma or flavor to teas brewed in it and unfortunately they have a similar smell and taste that is sort of… “plastic”.
As best as I can, I will say the notes on this tea are butter, salt and green bean. The buttery flavor comes through most, with the other two backing it.
Rather than dropping a numerical rating bomb on this tea, I’ll just say I would not recommend it. It doesn’t taste clean the way high quality artisan teas should. I have no idea if it’s a part of the processing to due to the materials or process of sewing the leaves into little stars, or improper storage of tea by the manufacturer, or just a flavor present in the tea, but it is unappealing and the other flavors are so subtle they are masked by it. The tea tastes faintly like a salty broth/brine.
Flavors: Butter, Green Beans, Salt
Ooh! This roasted Dong Ding starts out with this wonderful mild roasted nutty flavor like a Houjicha, but then it opens up to the dried fruit and honey like qualities of Dong Ding, with so much lingering sweetness. For a roasted tea, this one tastes very clean and leaves a nice clean feeling in the mouth and a tingly minty kind of freshness.
On the second steeping the roasted flavor has died off quite a bit revealing more of the sweet, nectar-like qualities of the tea. The more steepings in you go, the more creamy and mellow it gets, and the more it gives way to subtle floral, fruit and honey notes. This is a wonderful oolong for enjoying gongfu style to see how the many infusions change.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Floral, Honey, Nutty, Raisins, Roasted
The aroma has elements of cedar, peat, and dry grass. The taste is very slightly of honey and flowers, somewhat like chamomile but is mostly masked by the signature aged taste of puer, woody, a bit peppery and smokey, there’s a slight aftertaste of five spice. and lingering peppery quality. There’s also a bit of green bean in there somewhere. It’s slightly astringent. I’d call it more of an intense puer than a mellow one.
Flavors: Flowers, Green Beans, Honey, Peat, Pepper, Spices, Wood
Now this is a unique white tea. Similar to a White Peony, this wild tea has big broad green-brown leaves that look like little dragon wings.
The flavor of this white tea is somewhat difficult to describe in terms of other things it smells or tastes like. The brewed leaves smell of honey, floral and musk. The taste of tea has a honeyed sweetness and a rich umami, like mushroom or zucchini, yet it remains just as light and smooth as any other high quality white tea I’ve had. The finish is smooth, no astringency and there’s a lingering umami on the tongue. There are tiny hints of clove, cinnamon, and rolled oats in the finish.
This white tea has a generous rich mouthfeel and reminds me of a leggy white wine in that regard. The thing that really sets this wild white tea apart from other white teas of its type is in how rich and umami it is. I am used to more grassy, floral, and even citrus notes in white teas, but this one is really savory. Let it become almost tepid for a really interesting change in flavor. It brings out both the sweetness and the spicy end notes.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves, Honey, Mushrooms, Oats