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90 Tasting Notes

89

The dry leaves of Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong come with a musty hazelnut smell, so it would seem that we’re steering away from the vegetals and the florals. There’s a touch of dried fruit in there as well, perhaps black cherry. This coalesces in the cup as some true fruitiness overlaid with cooked nuts–caramel apples at the peak of the holidays. Dare I call this a Thanksgiving tea? The aroma gets more and more savory as it sits; at least now we know where the turkey got to.

Luckily, the tea itself has no poultry notes. (Could you imagine the audaci-tea?) Rather, the first infusion brings in all those apples in full force, pummeling your mouth with that fructose flavor. The other main player here is… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/09/14/snooty-tea-review-tea-setter-round-2/

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92

Although Ethical Agriculture’s Pu-erh is “wild grown,” it bears a very un-wild, refined aroma before you steep it. You couldn’t call it “sweet”–more like quietly dignified. A tea with self-respect. It won’t dump you in a Cabin in the Woods, as might happen with the others. It’s only when you have the drink steaming in your cup that you can go back and say, “Yep, we’ve got sweetness here!” The dusky gold liquid gives Sweet Fragrance a run for its money.

Your first infusion is pretty airy, but be on the lookout for endearing little fruity hints. We’ve got the usual pu-erh smoke setting it all off, but don’t be surprised when some tangerines take you for a mango tango, bumping into guava on the way. It’ll make you forget how dry pu-erhs can be. (Don’t forget to hydrate with these!)

On the next few cups, your now-darkened tea really puts those initial flavors out on the dance floor. If you let it cool a bit… Full review: http://snooteablog.com/2013/09/11/snooty-tea-review-tea-setter-round-1/

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88

The Old Capitol Pu-erh starts off with a loamy dry smell in the bag. You’re settling in around the campfire with a trusted friend or two, and your butt’s going to be a little damp as you perch it on the wet leaves from last night’s little thunderstorm. Not much to say for the steeped aroma, though.

The sip-’sation is a lot more subtle here. With that post-rain vibe, you’ve lost a lot of the smoke that characterizes most pu-erhs. This leaves you free to explore the other first-infusion flavors hidden in their bath of peachy rose. We’re talking Fuji apples sitting on a tray of balsa wood–light stuff, not the kind of tea you’d worry about when serving to friends. Tea Setter is hoping to bring less popular teas into the game, and for those of us who struggle to even say “pu-erh”–let alone steep it–this one is a good place to start.

Once again, the liquor does that color-switching thing with your following infusions, so the drink is now… Full review: http://snooteablog.com/2013/09/11/snooty-tea-review-tea-setter-round-1/

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89

The dry leaves of Sweet Fragrance, amusingly, don’t have much fragrance. It’s only when they hit the cup that your nose gets nudged awake. Since this is a pu-erh, after all, “sweet” is going to be in the eye–or nostrils–of the beholder. Beneath the usual brassy smoke, there lurks a bit of honey that’s been charred by the flames. Something fruity wants to come out, but it’s just not quite there.

That undertone makes a better case for itself once you taste it. The fruit and honey melds into something more substantial: roasted, caramelized rosehips and just-before-ripe cherries. We’ve got a touch of fish in here, but it’s ignorable knowing that it’ll fade in successive infusions. That’s the nice thing about pu-erhs and oolongs–treat them like the Energizer Bunny and they just keep going and going… (The other nice thing about these teas in particular is that the steeping times are mere seconds. Pu-erhs and other “exotic” teas usually put off the casual tea drinker, but in fact, the quick prep means that you don’t even need to hack ‘em when you’re on the go.)

The next few infusions… Full review: http://snooteablog.com/2013/09/11/snooty-tea-review-tea-setter-round-1/

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66

We start off the Liquorice Herbal Blend with the same reaction as the previous herbal teas. Simpson’s dry bags are shy things; seems that even if a blend bears a specific ingredient in its name, there’s no guarantee it’ll make itself known in the aroma or even in the tea itself. So here it’s another round of rustic cooking-type herbs at your olfactory–a great chicken soup seasoning. (Licorice? What licorice?)

But then you taste it, and holy moly so that’s where the flavor went! That silly licorice was hiding amid the leaves of your kitchen garden, waiting to spring out and catch you in a tight squeeze. Each progressive sip takes the flavor deeper and deeper… Full review: http://snooteablog.com/2013/08/13/snooty-tea-review-simpsons-tea/

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44

There is no chamomile, however, in the Rose Herbal Blend. This is a good thing, since the rose scent is so faint that it’s already drowned out by the other herbs in the dry bag, resulting in a first impression of Grandma’s perfume, which might put off those who were expec-tea-ng a sweeter blend. As it steeps, this morphs into an aroma that is at once floral and savory, like someone left out a basket of tomatoes next to their wedding bouquet.

The feeling continues in the drink itself. If you’re at all familiar with the flavor of rosehips–especially popular in Eastern European tea–then this will be a pleasure to sip. Otherwise, you’re going to be left in the middle of Flavor Nowhereland without a map. This is another one that fares better being left alone to do its thing, so let it steep for as long as you have the patience. The more substantial herbs prevent the rose from bringing in the whole flower brigade; other than that, this tea lacks any defining characteris-tea-c until it’s gone nearly cold and all you’re left with is the tart, tired hibiscus. If you had this in a café and later someone asked what you had drunk… Full review: http://snooteablog.com/2013/08/13/snooty-tea-review-simpsons-tea/

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Bio

Tea blogger and pun-dit at the Snooty Tea Blog.

At the moment, I don’t have enough time to keep Steepster cup-dated with reviews, so if you’re looking for the latest leaves in my Snooty cup, hit up snooteablog.com. Most of the teas I review end up on there.

Some people drink tea because they think it has nine thousand-plus health benefits and saves the rainforest while eliminating world hunger and solving the energy crisis.

I just drink it because it’s good.

Location

New York

Website

http://snooteablog.com

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