158 Tasting Notes

65
drank Earl Grey Supreme by Rishi Tea
158 tasting notes

I really liked Rishi’s regular Earl Grey because it had a very robust taste and the flavor was just loaded with bergamot. Therefore, I was quite excited to try the Supreme edition of their Earl Grey after I read that it contained “a smooth liquoring Keemun and a bold flavored Yunnan with 100% natural essential oil pressed from real bergamot citrus fruits.” I’m a very enthusiastic fan of both Keemun and Yunnan. (Getting a nice discount on this tea helped too.)

When I opened the package, a strong bergamot aroma with a fresh quality filled the room. I steeped the black leaves at 212 degrees for 5 minutes. The brewed color was a dark amber/gold. The finished odor also was fortified with bergamot.

The taste of this tea was similar to the regular Rishi Earl Grey that I drank and enjoyed semi-regularly for a year. But, that was my gripe with this blend. At a price of roughly $1 more per ounce than Rishi’s standard Earl Grey, I wanted…no…EXPECTED…something in the quality to elevate it from the basic (cheaper) product that I will be going back to the next time I order Rishi Earl Grey. Nowhere could my searching palate locate the Yunnan or Keemun infusion. I could taste black tea but that part of the flavor was unexceptional. Ironically, there also was a twinge of astringency that I didn’t encounter with the lower grade blend. This attribute remained with the strong aftertaste.

Do I like this tea? Yeah, but (surprisingly and perhaps fortunately) not as much as the lower-priced edition. Rishi’s bergamot in both offerings tastes fresher than several other Earl Grey selections that I have experienced. Rishi also seems to supercharge the bergamot presence in their teas.

This is the first time that I have ever subtracted rating points from a tea due to price. However, I feel that it is my duty to do so for two reasons:

o significantly higher price of this version (when compared to the very good basic offering)

o absence of enhancement over the basic Earl Grey (to justify the cost)

I will recover from this disappointment. I don’t mind being humble. I will continue to enjoy Rishi’s no frills Earl Grey.

Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Tea

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

Interesting comparison—thanks! I just picked up a box of the “basic” on sale at Whole Foods. Looking forward to trying it now! ;-)

Stoo

I hope you like it! I bought a pound of it last year and drank it all! Thanks for your comment!

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80

Thanks once again to Angel and Teavivre for this new tea sample!

I sampled another Teavivre raw Pu-erh tea cake last week. It was last year’s (2013) model but quite tasty. I was anxious to see how the 2014 version stacked up against it.

When I opened the package, the same grassy, compost-like aroma encountered with the 2013 rendition was experienced. However, I do believe the color of the unbrewed matted “cake” was a little greener in the new entry than the one harvested last year.

I steeped the leaves for 9 minutes at 212 degrees, again opting for almost maximum strength. The brewed color was a light gold. The odor had a mowed grass trait.

The taste of this tea was much like the 2013 entry. It was quite grassy with very similar flavor attributes as green tea. The main difference that I noticed with this younger offering was a tanginess to the taste. I wouldn’t call it astringency or bitterness. It was probably due to the more recent harvest and processing. The tanginess did eliminate the light and airy quality that I enjoyed in the raw 2013 tea.The tangy attribute also hung around for the after taste.

This is a cordial tea with pronounced flavor. Like the other raw Pu-erh that I sampled last week, this entry tasted much more like a green tea than a black selection. Having said that, though, this one (like the 2013 version) might be a nice tangy alternative for folks who are nauseated by the more robust and ripened Pu-erh teas.

Flavors: Grass

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

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99

Yet another large thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!

Since it is Friday morning and the weekend is ahead as I prepare to try out this new tea, I am already in the mood for something WILD! Ancient WILD Tree black tea will do just fine!

The aroma that oozed from the package when I opened it was malty and bread-like. I steeped the long black leaves for five minutes at 195 degrees. The finished product had a yellow/orange hue. The odor was similar to sweet baked bread.

Even at first sip, this tea had an exquisitely sweet, malty, and velvety taste. There was also a hint of baked bread in the mix. For good measure, a rich Yunnan tea flavor blended masterfully with the other attributes. There was no bitterness. The after taste was peaceful, subtle, and equally delicious. The rest of my cup (which disappeared quickly) had amazingly consistent flavors throughout. I didn’t just drink this tea. I savored it.

This is one of those rare teas that I have to restrain myself from chugging instead of sipping. It is an outstanding new selection from Teavivre. Everything that I want from a black tea is contained within: a robust and wonderful blend of flavors, smoothness, and the extra punch that only black tea can give me.

Congratulations, Teavivre! You have another (WILD) winner!

Flavors: Malt, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Veronica

Nice review! That sounds fantastic.

Stoo

Thanks, Veronica! I enjoyed that tea a lot! I will have to put it on my shopping list! Thanks for your comment!

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95

Again my thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!

Unlike some (or many), I happen to enjoy the Pu-erh teas a lot, particularly in the morning. The strong leathery/earthy smell and taste seem to help my brain kick into gear as I start my day. Maybe this species acts as a form of smelling salts for me. Whatever it is, I like it!

When I opened the sample package, the ol’ trusty leathery smell jumped from within. I steeped the “cake” (which resembled matted brown grass and sticks) for nine minutes. The recommended maximum steep time was 10 minutes so I decided to push the envelope today.

With nine minutes of steeping under its belt, the brewed liquor was a very dark brown that almost approached the black end of the color spectrum. The brewed aroma had Pu-erh written all over it: leathery, earthy, robust.

The taste of this tea, even after almost maximum steeping time, was amazingly smooth and delicious. The expected leather and earth flavors were strong and enunciated. But, there was also a slightly sweet characteristic in the taste. My taste buds detected no astringency whatsoever. The aftertaste was surprisingly smooth and did not linger more than a few moments.

This is a greatly satisfying new tea offering from Teavivre. 2008 must have been a superb year for Pu-erh. Folks seem to either love or hate this tea type. If you already love Pu-erh, you will love LOVE this Pu-erh!

Flavors: Earth, Leather

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

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89

Another hearty thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!

When it comes to Pu-erh tea, people in my realm seem to be divided into two main camps: those who love it and those who (to put it kindly) detest it. Personally, I am a proud card carrying member of the first group so I was anxious to try this new offering from Teavivre. My wife, however, is almost sickened by anything Pu-erh. She hates the smell and taste of it and doesn’t even like to be in the same room when I am brewing or drinking it.

I will start this review by warning you that if you are already predisposed to disliking Pu-erh tea, the initial opening of the package of this one will probably not miraculously endear you to it. The consistency of the dark brown Pu-erh “cake” reminded me of the two-day-old cut grass that becomes dried and jammed in the chute of my lawn mower. The unbrewed aroma is also a little reminiscent of compost. However, do not give up on it at this point! You’ve come this far. Be brave! Steep it!

I brewed the cake and remaining loose leaves for two minutes at 212 degrees. The color was like no Pu-erh that I had ever experienced. Instead of the dark muddy brown that I was used to with the Pu-erhs of my past, this one had a very light gold color. It was almost as light as green tea. The aroma had a grassy attribute that was, again, like green tea. Nowhere to be found was the strong earthy odor that seems to accompany many Pu-erh selections.

The taste of this tea was completely devoid of the expected leathery and earthy flavors that I usually find in the Pu-erh teas that I have tried. The taste of this one was light, smooth, and grassy. The flavor again reminded me more of green tea than either black or Pu-erh. At that point, I decided to stop comparing it to my Pu-erh acquaintances of days gone by and began enjoying it on its own merit.

This tea is quite tasty. The flavor is without astringency and is light and airy. I would liken the taste to a meadow of freshly mowed grass. The aftertaste is very mild and quickly diminishes.

I like this new product from Teavivre. It may be a good alternative to reintroduce the Pu-erh haters to this variety before they attempt to jump back on the traditional robust Pu-erh wagon.

I wonder if the untraditional characteristics of this tea are related to it being advertised as “raw” Pu-erh. It just goes to show you that, as in most areas of life, when you think you’ve seen (or tasted) it all, you haven’t.

Flavors: Grass

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

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92

A huge thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!

As Teavivre continues to add new teas to its ever-growing repertoire, I am always anxious to try them and see what the young company is up to. The black teas are my favorite so I was eager to take this one for a spin!

When I opened the sample package, the strong aroma of the black and slightly curly leaves was quite interesting. It was faintly nutty, a bit fruity, and a lot like bread.

I brewed the leaves at 195 degrees for five minutes. The steeped result was a reddish gold liquid. The aroma was again nutty and fruity with a bread attribute.

The taste of this selection was slightly sweet. All rolled up in the flavor was nuttiness, a very subtle fruity flavor, and that lurking bread quality. When you put it all together, it reminded me of a tasty piece of fruit and nut bread. The tea was extremely smooth with no astringency. The sweet and soft aftertaste lingered quite pleasantly on my palate.

This is another delicious tea from the folks at Teavivre. For a company that is only three years old, they really have their finger on the pulse…or, should I say, tongue…of this tea lover. I will definitely be adding this great new entry to my shopping list in the future!

Flavors: Fruity, Nutty

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Ysaurella

it seems really nice.You’re so right Teavivre has a lot of fantastic teas, it is incredible the way they make their selection for an only 3 years old company

Stoo

Hi Ysaurella! Thanks for your comment! Yes, Teavivre’s teas are consistently excellent. I always look forward to the samples and have purchased several of their teas from the Teavivre website. I seem to use up their teas faster than most of the others in my cabinet!

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81
drank Mountain Wūlóng by World Market
158 tasting notes

I find World Market teas to be reasonably priced with usually adequate flavors. So, I grabbed the Mountain Wūlóng tea while we were browsing through the store on Saturday.

When I opened the silver bag, the clumps of dark leaves smelled very grassy. It wasn’t a freshly mowed aroma. It was closer to the odor that cut grass expels after it ferments in the compost pile for a day or two. The smell was recognizable but not necessarily unpleasant.

I steeped the thick black leaves for four minutes at 185 degrees as recommended on the package. The brewed color was a deep gold. The aroma was like slightly sweet grass (i.e., the yard variety).

The first few sips of this brew produced a strong grassy taste. However, the more I drank, the more subtle the flavor became. By the time my cup was half full (or was it half empty?), the grassy flavor was embedded in a semi-sweet honey taste which I preferred over my initial impression. I didn’t discover any astringency. The aftertaste was smooth with a slightly sweet attribute.

This was a cordial tea and not a bad way to kick off my Monday morning. It didn’t have the caffeine kick that I normally require to jump start my brain. However, this selection did seem to keep me in a calmer state of mind than I am accustomed to when I begin the work week. That’s plausibly not a bad thing!

Flavors: Cut grass, Honey

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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70
drank Ceylon Orange Pekoe by Dean & Deluca
158 tasting notes

We were back at the local Dean & Deluca store this weekend when I noticed the Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea on the bargain rack. I succumbed to the temptation of purchasing it, in spite of my personal agreement to finish some of the teas I already have before cramming more into the cabinet.

The dark black leaves smelled rich and fresh when I opened the container. I followed the instructions on the can and brewed the tea for five minutes at 212 degrees.

The brewed aroma was faint and nondescript. The flavor was mild and slightly malty with a tad of Ceylon converging in the mix. I didn’t encounter the mild astringency that was advertised on the can. The aftertaste was also quiet and unremarkable.

The description on the container states that this is an afternoon tea. I drank it in the morning. My morning teas usually consist of the strongest and most jolting black blends in my arsenal. Could that be why I was less than wowed by this one? It wasn’t bad, but it won’t be moving to the front of the line in my morning rotation either.

Flavors: Malt

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

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70

I received a tea bag sample of this tea in the mail from the folks at The Republic of Tea. I have liked several of their teas so I thought I would drop this one into a cup of boiling water too.

After the round bag was steeped in boiling water for about five minutes, the brewed aroma was incredible. It smelled just like fresh blackberries. The aroma made me quite excited to take a swig.

The flavor of my first sip was…quite mysterious. The very sweet and potent blackberry smell was replaced in the taste by something floral and almost perfumed. The exact flavor was at first nondescript. Then, after several seconds, blackberry began to slowly crawl onto my taste buds.

All in all, this tea wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bitter. I just felt like the cart was put before the horse this time, or perhaps more accurately, the aroma was put before the taste. Maybe I would have liked it more if the flavor had arrived sooner. Even so, I would love it if I could put it in an incense burner instead of a tea pot.

UPDATE: I just discovered that I reviewed this tea two years ago. Either I was in a better mood then or I wasn’t quite the curmudgeon that I am now. Surprisingly, even though I described it more favorably last time, I still gave it the same exact rating, a 70!

Flavors: Berries, Blackberry, Floral, Perfume

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88
drank Le Citron by Le Palais des Thes
158 tasting notes

This was the fourth and (sadly) last of the fancy half-off sale teas that I purchased from Dean & Deluca last weekend. Being a Southern iced tea with lemon drinker for many years, I was anxious to see if this French hot version would reach the same high level of enjoyment for me.

When I opened the classy tall metal container (which was packaged in a somewhat elegant and sturdy outer box), a powerful scent of lemon instantly filled the air. The lemon aroma also smelled like the real deal, and not comprised of artificial components.

Mixed in with the black leaves were little yellow flowers that looked almost like miniature dandelions. I steeped the mixture for five minutes at 205 degrees as recommended on the outer box. The brewed color was dark amber. The odor was like tea. I couldn’t detect any of the lemon scent in the finished product.

My first few sips contained strictly black tea flavors. The ingredients say that orange pekoe is also in the mix, but I wasn’t able to discern it. I rolled the tea around in my mouth a few times to try to squeeze some lemon flavor from the liquid. This technique was unsuccessful, but after a few more sips, I noticed some lemon residue in the aftertaste. There also was a slightly sweet and tangy quality that probably resulted from the combination of the flavors.

This tea became more lemony for me as I reached the half-empty (or was it half-full?) mark of my cup. The wisp of lemon was with me from that point forward.

Here’s how I summed up the experience:

o Nice medium-strength black tea flavor with lemon accents (but don’t expect lemon bombardment)
o No astringency
o Slightly sweet and tangy aftertaste

This was a friendly tea. I would not trade my Southern iced tea with lemon for it, but I will drink it periodically until the container is finished. After all, the price was right. I would also not hesitate to serve it to friends. You might want to give it a try if you are looking for a black tea with quiet lemon accents.

Flavors: Lemon

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 32 OZ / 946 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)!

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South Carolina, USA

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