173 Tasting Notes

70
drank Roasted Black Tea by Williams Sonoma
173 tasting notes

As Donald Trump would say, I’m not H-U-U-U-G-E on spicy and floral teas. So, it was with trepidation that I took this blend for a ride.

When I slit open the plastic bag of tea inside the metal tin, I was immediately slapped with a strong cinnamon aroma. I brewed the dark brown leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The finished product had a weak cinnamon smell. Nothing else stood out.

The taste of this tea was almost completely cinnamon. The flavor also contained leathery hints of pu-erh. With everything that is said to be going on in this tea, I was surprised that the taste was medium-strength at best without a lot of accents from the other ingredients.

This brew is also claimed to include mushrooms! I’m not sure how to discern mushrooms from other flavors, so I guess I failed that test. The aftertaste was all cinnamon and lingered on my palate for a good while.

I’m one of those folks that actually likes the full leathery taste of pu-erh. In my opinion this brew would have been better if the pu-erh characteristics were allowed to at least slightly make their presence known.

I didn’t hate this tea but it didn’t wow me either. I won’t write off Williams-Sonoma just yet.

Flavors: Cinnamon

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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77

I ran across this tea at a little welcome center while driving through Fort Lawn, South Carolina. I enjoy trying out the local teas because there is something very cool about having fine teas in my own backyard.

When I opened up the tin, a very strong bergamot aroma burst forth. I thought, “Now you’re talking.” Inside were long brownish black leaves with sprinkles of YELLOW blossoms which I guess must be the BLUE mallow blossoms.

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes at 212 degrees. I now steep almost all black teas using those parameters. “Robust” is what I always strive to wring out of every tea.

After reaching critical brew, the tea had a fainter bergamot aroma than it did at pre-brewing. The color was a light brownish gold. The flavor at first taste was a hodgepodge of sensations, none of which were distinct.

The orange pekoe flavor was definitely waving to me. A slight bergamot-like taste also peeked through. Other than those two flavors, the rest were unrecognizable.

This isn’t a bad tea but I can’t call it an exciting one either. I will continue to drink it until the tin is empty but it won’t be the first one I reach for when I’m looking for a brew to exhilarate my morning.

Flavors: Bergamot, Tea

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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70
drank Chocolate Pu-erh by Numi Organic Tea
173 tasting notes

This was my first foray into Numi’s Pu-erh and I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I opened my one pound bag (another good deal), I was surprised by the strong spicy aroma that burst forth. Having a mouth full of sweet teeth, I was hoping that the dominant smell would be chocolate. However, so far the chocolate was missing in action. There also were yellowish chunks of…something…mixed in with the muddy brown leaves.

I steeped the leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The brewed color was a very dark amber, close to brown. The aroma that wafted from the pot and cup was full of spice, similar to ginger.

At first sip, the flavor seemed almost like I was drinking liquid potpourri. After a few more gulps from my cup, I kinda, sorta, maybe, tasted very faint accents of chocolate. The one thing I am sure that I did not taste was the expected leathery and earthy presence of Pu-erh.

I also thought that the overall flavor could have been bolder. The taste had no astringency while drinking or afterward.

Give this selection a try if you are in the mood for a Pu-erh tea that doesn’t taste like a Pu-erh tea. If you are craving a strong Pu-erh offering that is bursting with chocolate flavor, you might be a bit disappointed.

Flavors: Chocolate, Spices, Tea

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 40 OZ / 1182 ML

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77
drank Aged Earl Grey by Numi Organic Tea
173 tasting notes

I decided to take advantage of Numi’s advertised 15% off sale and grab a few of their teas. I don’t believe I’ve had any Numi teas since I switched from bags to loose leaf four years ago.

When I opened the one-pound bag (yeah, when I see a good deal I buy it by the pound and hope I like it), I could instantly detect the Assam aroma blended with a bergamot scent. I brewed the leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The brewed aroma was again Assam-ish. The color was dark amber.

At first taste, I was deluged with the Assam flavor. The bergamot undertones frolicked underneath but not as strongly as I expected.

The flavor was not bad. I’d rate it as being medium-power. I would have liked more bergamot, though. It could be that my taste buds have been hypnotized by the extremely heavy bergamot presence in Rishi’s organic earl grey selections. I’ve been drinking Rishi’s earl grey offerings almost exclusively for the last two years.

In any event, I like this tea enough to continue drinking it (especially since I do have a pound of it to imbibe). If I purchase it again, it will be in smaller quantities.

Flavors: Bergamot, Tea

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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70
drank Nilgiri Blue by The Tao of Tea
173 tasting notes

Sorry. I’ve been out of (brewed tea) commission for a while since I started a new job in April. I’ve been working long hours at an office where I haven’t time or an apparatus to brew and review new teas.

Enough with the excuses. Here I am, ready to get back into the swing of things by trying out this Nilgiri Blue tea that I picked up in the bargain bin at a local discount store.

When I opened the brown paper bag packaging (which a Teavana store associate once told me is a barbarous mechanism to store tender tea leaves – while she tried to sell me a thin metallic can for $12), a Darjeeling-like aroma wafted upward. I brewed the short mostly black leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees.

The brewed color was a deep reddish amber. The odor was mostly nondescript but slightly sweet.

My first few sips were not very powerful. After 1/3 of my cup was history, I began to discern a less-than-robust tea-like flavor with a faint sweet attribute.

This tea is not bad. It isn’t bitter. I just didn’t find it exciting or compelling (much like this review). The after taste had no astringency. It also was “ho-hum.”

I will drink this tea again but I won’t be brimming with anticipation to fire up the tea maker for it. Oh well. Can I take a nap now?

Flavors: Sweet, Tea

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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60

This is my second foray back to the past today as I test another free sample from The Republic of Tea. Since I am in the office today, my tea choices are my Republic of Tea bag samples or mud-like selections from the company Flavia machine. Although I am grateful for the free fringe benefit, just about any alternative wins over the machine in my mind.

The unbrewed scent of the bag was kind of like peppermint and kind of like chocolate but there was something very chemical or artificial about the smell. I had a feeling that this was not a good sign.

I steeped the stringless round Republic of Tea bag/disk for five minutes in boiling water. The smell had a faint mint attribute. The color was dark amber.

When I put the cup to my lips, my mood was negatively affected when I peered into the cup and saw that there was mucky dark sediment at the bottom of the brew. I don’t even experience debris from my loose leaf tea maker, so another warning sign was chalked on my wall.

The first sip of this tea caused me to stand back and analyze what my taste buds were experiencing. Finally I determined that there was some mint to the flavor with a mouthwash like aftertaste. Another peculiarity was also present that I believe was disguised as chocolate. There was no astringency really but I didn’t find the aftertaste something that I wanted to hold on to.

In short, I found the flavor of this brew to be less than desirable and way off the mark of what usually reminds me of chocolate and mint in a tea. Additionally, the rubble in my cup that apparently leaked from the tea bag was visually distasteful and a foreshadowing of this product’s other flaws.

Flavors: Mint

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 6 OZ / 177 ML

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88

I’m back to bagging it today. I never look a gift tea in the mouth (or bag). So, when I received this sample in the mail from The Republic of Tea, I ran with it!

Before my eyes were opened by the universe of complex and splendid flavors in loose leaf tea, I confess that I bagged often; daily, as a matter of fact (you are my Steepster friend so I am confident that you will not judge). One of my favorite bagged teas at the time was the products by The Republic of Tea. However, that was almost four years ago so I was curious to see if my taste buds had now become elitist.

When I opened the sample package, the strong berry smell slapped me in the nostrils. It was sweet and like fresh berries, but maybe too strong for folks with sinuses that are less allergy-clogged than mine.

I steeped the Republic of Tea trademark “environmentally friendly, round, unbleached tea bag – free of wasteful strings, staples, and tags” in a cup of boiling water for five minutes. The brewed aroma was berry-like but not as powerful as before. The color was a reddish dark gold.

The taste was definitely full of berry flavor. It was also sweet and surprisingly smooth. In addition, the taste was as potent (without being obnoxious) as the flavor of some loose leaf teas. However, this flavor was a single-dimensional, one-trick pony. No intricacies or mysteries were contained within. The aftertaste was smooth, sweet, and berry pleasant (sorry, couldn’t resist).

To sum up my experience, there was nothing that I disliked about this product. If you evaluate it only by its own merit as a bagged tea, it is a superior offering. I will definitely reach for it again…if they send me another free sample.

Flavors: Berry

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 6 OZ / 177 ML
RiaDarling

Good to know! I saw this at World Market and wondered if it was any good. I too need tea bags for the office and then brew the loose at home.

Stoo

Happy New Year, RiaDarling! Let me know if you try this tea, I would love to know your opinion of it!

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80

I’m itching to sample another Pu-erh tea. Thanks to Angel, that itch will be scratched this morning!

I cut open the silver sample package and snorted deeply. The familiar earthy smell was present but there was also a musty attribute to it. It reminded me of when I open a drawer filled with old clothes.

I don’t know if it’s old age catching up to me but I am finding it increasingly more difficult to read the tiny directions on Teavivre’s sample packaging. I couldn’t quite make out the recommended steeping time so I brewed the dark brown matted and clumped leaves and “cake” for three minutes at 212 degrees.

The brewed color was a dark brownish amber, like maple syrup. The aroma was earthy and leathery, what I expected from a Pu-erh tea. The musty attribute had disappeared from the smell.

I didn’t find the flavor as robust as some of the other Pu-erh teas that I have sampled recently. I wondered if this was a result of the shorter steeping time, the more recent processing time, or a combination of both.

In any event, the flavor was mostly smooth and unmistakably Pu-erh. As I slurped more and more from my cup, the attribute that I had earlier tagged as musty in the unbrewed odor began to creep into the flavor. This peculiarity lingered on my taste buds as a slightly bitter note. The quirk didn’t ruin my experience with the tea but it wasn’t something that I cherished either. After almost a full cup of the brew, my brain (and buds) seemed to learn how to push most of the musty trait aside.

I can’t deny that I would have been more enthusiastic about this tea without the flavor foible. I also would have appreciated a richer and more powerful Pu-erh taste. However, that being said, this is still a decent Pu-erh offering from Teavivre.

Flavors: Earth, Leather, Musty

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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97

I have the day off from work today! Not only is that a great thing by itself, but it also means I can really concentrate on this new tea sample from Teavivre. Thanks, Angel!

When I opened the sample package, the “cake” had the expected matted, grassy, compost-like appearance. The aroma was strong, leather, and earthy, but there was also a sharp edge to it.

I steeped the entire sample package in 16 ounces of boiling water for eight minutes. It seemed like a long brewing time at that high temperature but I was game since I like strong robust teas.

The brewed color was a muddy brown. The odor was, surprisingly, much milder than the unbrewed smell. It was undeniably Pu-erh, but not unpleasant.

My first sip was loaded with the unmistakable Pu-erh taste that I’m accustomed to and actually like. It was deeply earthy and leathery. This selection also had a slightly sweet attribute that I found quite enjoyable. The whole concoction was very smooth. Each swallow streamed gently down my throat with delightful bliss. No astringency appeared on my taste buds and the aftertaste was equally sweet and pleasing.

In summary, this is a very nice Pu-erh from Teavivre. It’s not the strongest one I have encountered (even after brewing at 212 degrees for eight minutes) but it is among the sweetest and most satisfying that I have experienced. Great flavor with no face-scrunching bitterness.

Flavors: Compost, Earth, Leather, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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98

Ah. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood because it is time to taste another Teavivre tea for my first time! Thank you for this sample, Angel!

After black teas, the Pu-erhs are my second favorites. I was excited to try this variety from way back in 2008 when I was a bit younger and had a few less aches and pains. :-)

I opened up the little silver sample package, scanned the brown clumped tea leaves, and stuck my nose inside. Not only did the appearance of the unbrewed tea remind of the clumped mud and grass that I pull out from the blades underneath my lawnmower, but the aroma was not unsimilar either.

I am not one to judge a tea by its appearance, so I merrily began to steep the “cake” and cake pieces at 212 degrees for eight minutes. The brewed color was a dark mud brown. The aroma had the familiar Pu-erh leathery quality. My tea drinking experience has shown that, usually, the darker the color, the heartier tea. I love the robust teas so I was excited at this point!

At first sip, I noticed that the flavor was quite strong and very leathery and earthy. This is to be expected from a fine Pu-erh. There also was a twinge of sweetness to the taste. What impressed me most was that the flavor, as powerful as it was, was also incredibly smooth. There was absolutely zero astringency to the taste. Even the aftertaste was sleek and silky.

Teavivre has once again produced a magnificent tea. I know a tea is terrific when I have to force myself to take sips and not gulp it all down. This is definitely one of those brews for me. My only sadness is that 2008 will never return. However, knowing Teavivre, they will follow this winner with something equally great (if not better) in the years to follow.

Flavors: Compost, Cut grass, Earth, Leather, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Bio

I ventured into the world of serious tea drinking in the Summer of 2011. I started out slowly and gently with bagged tea but climbed to the incredible flavorful heights of loose leaf teas in October of that year. Once you go leaf, you never go bag (except when you get free samples)!

Location

South Carolina, USA

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