22 Tasting Notes

95

Brings the power and tastes like Limoncello! After trying a few other guayusas this one is my favorite. Girlfriend loves it too.

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95
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
22 tasting notes

Laoshan Black has really grown on me — its a creeper that has slowly and quietly nudged its way into my heart and into my tummy, owing mostly to its bright and unique complexity paired with an overall comforting drinkability.

This tea offers a departure from many flavor profiles associated with traditional “black teas”. To me, Laoshan Black tastes closer to an oxidized “rock” oolong than it does an assam, keemun, ceylon etc. To my surprise, the initial few steeps brew an uncharacteristically bright yellow cup, which I find quite interesting as well. Flavor wise, there is a kind of malty/nutty/saltiness present that really sets this tea apart in my mind, its quite delicious.

Many people have commented on the chocolate taste this tea has. Now i’m a fairly staunch chocolate extremist; an 80-100% cacao kind of guy (none of that weak sauce milk chocolate) sooooo… my take on what constitutes “chocolate flavor” is probably skewed from the general public. I’ll admit, I didn’t initially taste chocolate until someone mentioned cocoa wheats. Yes… cocoa wheats is definitely the flavor i’m getting here, almost to a tee (okay, okay: tea).

In my experience, the first one to two steeps, be it gaiwan (~20 seconds) or brew cup (~1 minute) tend to be the best. I do not prefer to rinse this tea, rather i’m “all in”. Later steepings see the tincture move from bright yellow to an increasingly mellow brown and at this point the tea loses some of its unique salty/nutty/cocoa flavor and settles into a more traditional semi-sweet pleasant maltiness. Brews are fairly consistent with regard to body however the intensity of the “cocoa wheats” chocolate flavor can be a bit finicky, dependent on temperature, brew time and sadly, freshness.

Overall excellent tea. Unique, pleasing, comforting and a capable daily drinker with enough complexity to keep things interesting. I will be ordering more.

TheTeaFairy

This and Taiwanese Assam are probably my favorite blacks. But if you’re into good cocoa black teas like these, you must also try Bailin Gongfu from Teavivre, also one of the best avilable!

Terri HarpLady

How we all LOVE our Laoshan Black!
Nice review!

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58

Not too hot on this one, glad I got it on sale at Tea Dystopia, I mean Vana… Teavana. Yeah. Because the sales staff just radiate happiness… I digress.

This tea smelled really nice (like honey) and the dry leaves look to be of good quality – long jet black twisted needles – but no matter how I brew this tea it turns out less than my expectations. I even gaiwaned it a few times to make sure I wasn’t missing anything… No fireworks here. Fairly generic black tea with a mild honey-like sweetness and tannin astringency. The flavors and body are’t particularly strong and any attempt to beef up the steep time is met with increasingly astringent bitterness, much like an old ex-girlfriend of mine. Hmmm…

Maybe Keemuns aren’t my thing or maybe I’ve been spoiled by really nice teas. Strong possibility there. I often wonder if I am biased, but when really thinking about it, really run the situation through my head, I am confident in a blind taste test of black teas, Teavana’s Keemun would fail to impress beyond “meh”.

Not bad, not good but certainly over priced for what you get. Dedicated to ice tea blends until its gone.

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95

Assam has always been my favorite black tea and this one is astoundingly good. I was quite surprised at the natural sweetness of this tea, almost like maraschino cherries and a bit of sweet almond. Multiple infusions in my trusty gaiwan revealed sweet malty Assam goodness with little to no bitter notes or astringency, even at 3+ minute brew times with freshly boiled water. Remarkable! This tea is so very solid and consistent, it embodies everything I love about strong bodied black teas without any of the negatives and its fairly priced for the high level of quality. A luxurious daily drinker for sure!

This is very very good black tea, I have encountered maybe one or two other black that I could “rate” higher. Easy 95 here, will be buying more of this!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
TheTeaFairy

Loving this tea with a passion! Definitely unique notes that you can’t find in many teas…Go ahead and stock up :-)

Sixie

Ordered 4 oz!

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Had a bromantic date with my gaiwan and some pu’er this morning.

Quick rinse ~ 3 seconds

1st – 20 seconds
Liquid is medium brown and maintaining transparency, this steep is a bit unruly and surly. Maybe I should have let this brew a bit longer, or rinsed it for longer, not sure. Flavor is leathery with some smoke but tastes unstable with a strange salty note.

2nd – 30 seconds
Characteristic of most pressed pu’ers, the color is pure used motor oil, completely opaque! Love it. Mouth feel is silky and the flavors have seemed to stabilize with prominent leather, earth, rocky minerals and cold campfire. That weird unpleasant salty note has disappeared. This is a very good steep and the cold campfire smokiness paired with the mineral rock notes has triggered a nostalgic memory from a whitewater rafting rip many years ago. Enjoyable!

3rd – 45 seconds
The cake has completely broken up. Still opaque and silky, the flavor has edged off just a nudge but it now feels completely mature. This is my favorite steep. All the previous flavors are still present but with a more earthy tone creeping in. This tea would pair nicely with some bbq pork…

4th – 60 seconds
There is light at the end of the tunnel, I am starting to see the bottom of my 2 ounce cup! The flavors are beginning to lighten up as well, but an earthy and smokey taste lingers. Pleasing.

5th – 90 seconds
Back to transparency, noticeably thin with a smokey after taste that reminds me of a watered down lapsang souchong. Still drinkable but I’m going to call it here.

Overall an enjoyable cuppa, and similar to a few other pressed ripe pu’ers I have tried. While its a great representation of the class, this tea doesn’t really blow me away, or bring anything terribly unusual to the table. Aside from the surly first steep – which i’m sure there is a way around – this tea offers a solid and pleasing cup of pressed ripe pu’er.

I don’t feel comfortable rating this tea quite yet until I give it a few more tastings.

Garret

We’ve got a few customers (and one of my biz partners) who drink this tea like it is going out of style. It’s pretty good and I wish we had a bunch more. Sarah is talking about taking it off the site because she wants to keep the rest for herself. And we are talking about 20 pounds of it!! That’s how much some people like this one. I like it and drink it once a week or so. That’s frequent, actually, given that I have hundreds of teas here at the shop and in the vault!! Thanks for taking the time to write it up!!!

Sixie

Gave this another go with a 10 second rinse, shorter steeps (no more than 20 seconds) and slightly cooler water temp ~195. I also opted for store bought ‘spring water’ this time rather than filtered midwest tap…

Much better experience, smooth like rubescent velvet with a noticeably less sharp leather taste and more mellow woodsy, mossy body. I am beginning to understand this tea better :)

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89

This tea appears to be a very high quality Gyokuro. Color is deep green, leaves are mostly full, flattened needles, there is some breakage, but that is no doubt due to the extremely fragile almost crystalline nature of the gyokuro needles, and not an actual knock on the quality of the tea itself. The color of the brew is spot on classic gyokuro, just a beautiful light green, almost highlighter green, its quite amazing.

Flavors on this are as follows:

Uni (sea urchin)
Rocky seaweed
Edamame/Snow peas
Sweet
Grain

Thick mouth feel with lingering subtle sweetness.

I found this tea to be quite enjoyable. It does tend to have a shellfish (or as many other describe, seaweed) flavor profile that is very prevalent in the first brew, but mellows out later. Personally I like it quite a bit and tend to handle these types of flavors like a boss, but I could see how it might not suite some folks. The likening to the taste of uni is quite remarkable, owing no doubt to the high theanine content – a mark of a high quality and properly grown gyokuro. There is almost no astringency at all, especially brewed at low temperatures.

Brew this one low low temperature, close to body temperature for 90-120 seconds and you will be amazed at how well it turns out. Good for about 3 steeps before it starts to lose the the magic.

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 45 sec

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70
drank Six Summits by Teavana
22 tasting notes

I purchased 5 oz. of this tea because it was on sale after the holidays and it smelled like raspberries. Who could pass up a delicious smelling and cheap oolong at the mall? Not this guy!

My version did not have any actual dried raspberries in it (as some have seen) but retained a pleasing raspberry aroma. I was told by an imposing swarm of hawkish Teavana sales staff this was a “natural” flavor and no raspberries or artificial flavor were added to the tea. I think they were confused by this tea as well.

I’ve had a lot of Six Summits to get through so heres the bottom line. The raspberry flavor lasts fleetingly for the first steep. Okay. So its flavored oolong… I wish Teavana would just flat out call it “RASPBERRY FLAVORED oolong” and not skirt around the issue here. Beyond the raspberry flavor (which is enjoyable, adulterant or not) lies a fairly tame oolong: slightly floral, mild vegetal musk, not unpleasant just thin and somewhat unremarkable compared with the rest of the field. Multiple infusions don’t bring out a whole lot more from this tea, I never felt compelled to go beyond 3 or 4.

Overall, the raspberry and mild oolong character lends itself well to blending with other teas – hot or iced – which is always a plus and cannot be said of every oolong. I’m glad I purchased this tea on sale, its tasty, but pretty thin once the novelty of raspberry wears off. Aside for blending, my remaining Six Summits has taken a back shelf to some of the more complex and full bodied oolongs out there.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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67
drank Black Dragon Pearls by Adagio Teas
22 tasting notes

Tasty, well rounded and smooth but somewhat thin and one-dimensional, especially for the price. My scouter shows these dragon ballz lack a sufficient power level to reach super saiyan. Would rate higher if they didn’t drop a spirit bomb on my wallet.

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83
drank Gunpowder by Adagio Teas
22 tasting notes

Every time I drink this tea I can’t help but imagine two wooden ships blowing each other to smithereens with cannon fire. Gunpowder. Yes!

As someone who prefers more full bodied greens I have gone through a lot of this, and it remains a favorite every day cuppa. Malty fried vegetables with a hint of smoke, and just the right amount of bitterness for a green – comforting and invigorating at the same time. Most enjoyable, fairly low maintenance and consistently good.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec
TeaOverlord

When I drink this tea, I like to imagine myself as Robert Duvall’s character in Apocalypse Now. I love the smell of Gunpowder in the morning.

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