200 Tasting Notes

93
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
200 tasting notes

Another BIG THANKS to Steepster Bonnie for this sample!

About the only tea that I enjoy more than black tea is flavored black tea. I love them all- fruity, sweet, nutty, chocolate, coconut, you name it! So, this was another variety that I was excited to try when it arrived in the mail.

When I opened the packet, a wonderful sweet, chocolatey, coffee-like smell emerged (I don’t like the taste of coffee but I love its aroma) from the packet. I had a feeling immediately that this was going to be good!

I followed Steepster Bonnie’s recommendation and steeped this tea for three minutes at 212 degrees. The color was a light amber. I thought that was interesting for black tea.

At first sip, my palate was instantly pummeled with a terrific sweet taste. I could also detect a slight fruity attribute. Altogether, the flavor is evenly spread with sweetness, tea, and fruit, in perfect harmony. One sensation does not overpower another and there is no bitterness. This tea is extemely pleasant and tasty.

On the packet, with the instructions, Steepster Bonnie summed up this tea in one word: “YUMMY!” I couldn’t have described it any better myself so I’ll leave it at that.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Glad you enjoyed the yummy tea (which you can infuse 4 times from each brewing if I failed to mention that) .

Stoo

You were very thorough. You mentioned that too. I’m on infusion #3 as we speak…uh…type. ;-)

Bonnie

Slosh!

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89

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to sample some great pu’erh teas lately. I’m becoming a huge fan of the variety and would now place pu’erh as one of my favorite classifications. At the top of my pu’erh tea list (so far) is Teavivre’s Ripened Aged Pu-erh Mini Tuocha. I was anxious to see how the Mengku Palace Ripened Golden Buds Loose Pu-erh Tea measured up.

I steeped this tea at 212 degrees for two minutes as instructed on the sample package. A rich molasses-colored brew developed.

The flavor of this tea is earthy, woodsy, and leathery. This follows the pattern of the other pu’erh teas that I’ve tried. The taste is somewhat milder than the Mini Tuocha blend. I also found the flavor to have a nice twinge of sweetness to it. As with all of the Teavivre teas that I’ve sampled to date, there is no bitterness.

This is another solid tea entry in the Teavivre family. If I were forced to choose between Mengku Palace and Mini Tuocha, I would have to go with the more robust Mini Tuocha. That does not diminish the quality of Mengku Palace. I’m just a strong tea kind of guy.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

I like the bold pu-erh’s too!

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94
drank Chocolate Orange by DAVIDsTEA
200 tasting notes

Another special THANKS to Steepster Bonnie for sending me this sample! The title of this tea had my name written all over it. Chocolate Orange Pu’erh! Well, that’s not really my name…though…Stoo C. O. Pu’erh…hhmm…it does have a bit of class!

Anyhow, this tea sounded like it had all of the ingredients that I love, in tea, or anything! Chocolate and orange are a great combination. I was extremely psyched to brew this baby.

I steeped it at 212 degrees for six minutes. The instructions said 98 degrees celsius (208.4 degrees fahrenheit) but my one-touch tea maker isn’t quite that versatile. No matter, what’s 3.6 degrees between friends?

The aroma that emerged from the steeping brew was interesting. I could detect the somewhat fishy aroma of the pu’erh mixed in with a sweet orange attribute.

The color of the steeped blend was light brown with orange hues. This is what I would expect if I put orange juice and pu’erh tea in a blender.

At first taste, the pu’erh flavor comes roaring through like a freight train. Then, the orange caboose begins to bring up the rear. As I guzzled more and more, I could discern the orange/pu’erh hybrid qualities of the flavor. The taste is smooth, sweet, and fruity, with the pu’erh presence complementing it perfectly. Bitterness is completely absent.

This is a fantastic tea. I’ve already enjoyed pu’erh with coconut. I now know that orange also is a great mate for it. I am looking forward to trying more pu’erh combinations in the future!

These two flavors are actually a great match. Besides tea, this would be a great selection in a box of chocolates. Are there any mad scientist chocolatiers out there? :-)

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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92

I was excited to try this new tea from Teavivre. Teavivre’s products are consistently great in taste and value. The little unbrewed leaf balls, which I assume are hand-rolled, are also a fun concept.

I followed the recommendations on the package and brewed it for two minutes. There was no suggested tea amount listed so I filled my official tea spoon as I normally do with loose leaf. This came out to about four balls per eight-ounce cup. When the steeping process had completed, a brew with a rich amber color appeared.

At first sip, I could detect a little sweetness and the familiar woodsy taste that accompanies most of Teavivre’s black teas. In the beginning I was a little disappointed with the flavor power. However, the taste seemed to amplify and become more pronounced with each sip. By my sixth swig, I was really enjoying the blend and thinking that THIS is what I’ve come to love and expect from Teavivre.

I can’t say that I noticed a chocolate taste as some reviewers noted. To me, the sweetness was more like honey. Of course, you can’t go wrong with either flavor.

This tea is a great new addition to the Teavivre collection. It most likely will be on my order list the next time my Teavivre supply diminishes…soon!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

Stop, I didn’t get chocolate, either! Just like you’ I associated this with honey. It was DELISH!

Stoo

Hi Ashmanra! I guess great tastebuds taste alike! ;-)

ashmanra

LOL! And I had typed Stoo and autocorrect changed it to stop but I didn’t notice until just now! Sorry about that! :)

Stoo

No problem, Ashmanra. I’ve been called worse. :-)

ScottTeaMan

Hehehehe…….me too.

Bonnie

Ya’ll are trippin

Bonnie

To tell the truth I use 5 for 8oz and use sweetening and cream to bring out the cocoa chocolate.

Stoo

That sounds great too! I used 5 for each cup today and it did seem to provide a somewhat richer flavor. This is really wonderful tea. I have it on my shopping list for my next order!

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90
drank Pistachio Ice Cream by Butiki Teas
200 tasting notes

A very HUGE THANKS to fellow Steepster, Bonnie, for sending this sample to me! I LOVE ice cream! If I could keep my weight and cholesterol down, I would a la mode everything, maybe even Brussels sprouts. So, I knew that ice cream flavored tea would be no stretch for me.

When I opened the little package, a wonderful sweet and nutty pistachio aroma emerged. I couldn’t wait to plop the sample into the tea maker!

I steeped this tea at 180 degrees for 2 1/2 minutes as recommended. A pale green brew was the result. I didn’t notice any distinctive pistachio smell but that could be because it’s allergy season.

The flavor of this blend is amazing! It is sweet and nutty. The pistachio taste lingered on my tongue after each sip. The flavor is smooth and totally absent of bitterness. There is also more than a hint of vanilla in the taste and a slight milky quality.

Although I prefer black tea over green tea, primarily due to the shock therapy that black teas give me in the morning, I could easily make this tea an afternoon habit!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Bonnie

Happy adventures!

Stoo

Thanks, Bonnie! I can’t wait to try the next sample!

Bonnie

Me too. The next best thing to drinking tea is other people drinking tea and writing about it….which brings us all here!

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89
drank Caramel by Kusmi Tea
200 tasting notes

I have an insatiable sweet tooth. In fact, I probably have a mouth full of sweet teeth. If you put sugar on asparagus, I’m interested and there! I was very excited when I read about Kusmi’s Caramel Tea. This blend sounded like it would combine two of my favorite indulgences, sweets and tea.

I brewed this tea for four minutes at 195 degrees. A broth with an amber color emerged.

I expected (or was hoping for) an aroma that would be similar to a caramel apple on a stick. This was not the case, though. The faint smell was more like pipe tobacco. It was sweet but unlike my recollection of caramel.

When the first sip hit my tastebuds, I found myself asking, “Where’s the caramel?” There was a pleasing tea taste but I didn’t experience the presence of the advertised confection. However, with each sip, more sweetness and a slight caramel taste began to emerge and linger. Maybe I don’t detect a major caramel attendance because I’ve bombarded my senses with candy, cookies, cakes, pies, and ice cream for my entire life. If you partake of the sweeter things in life with more self-control than I, perhaps you will find a stronger and more luscious caramel occupation.

Either way, this is a nice pleasant tea with no bitter aftertaste. I’m not sure that I will drink this tea in the morning. Its attempt to be a “dessert tea” may make it more suitable for the afternoon.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Cheryl

This came in mail last week and after quickly trying it, I got the same impressions as you. Need to retry it with different parameters maybe (my plans).
p.s. Werther’s has a new chewy Caramel Apple flavor (but haven’t tried it…been purposely avoiding candy aisle for a while now) : )

Stoo

Thanks for the tip, Cheryl! I’ll have to check out the Werther’s. I try to avoid the candy aisle but I haven’t been too successful lately. :-)

Cheryl

I was googling to find out what their creamy caramel version was called (to suggest), and spotted the caramel apple (like you mentioned). I’m hoping to forget this finding, before I go to the store next : ) Oh, and forget that Milky Way has a “Simply Caramel” version now too (arggggg). We bad.

ScottTeaMan

Good review Stoo! I was going to say welcome back, but apparantly you’ve been posting reviews. I’m followong you, but your recent activity doesn’t always show up in my dashboard. ://

Stoo

Thanks for checking, Cheryl! I see a Milky Way in my near future! :-)

Stoo

Thanks, Scott! I’ve been around but I haven’t had a lot of new teas to review lately. I’m enjoying the old teas but I didn’t want to bore you with reruns. :-)

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91
drank Darjeeling by Hampstead Tea
200 tasting notes

Some of the best teas that I’ve tried, I’ve stumbled upon accidentally. Hampstead’s Darjeeling is another nice surprise that I just happened to notice on the shelf at our local Earth Fare market.

I steeped this tea at 212 degrees for three minutes. A reddish orange brew was the result.

There was no aroma to speak of so I didn’t have my hopes up for an explosion of flavor. However, at first sip, I was instantly struck by the mild but very pleasant and sweet taste of this blend.

Although the flavor is a tad lighter than I prefer my black teas to have in the morning, this blend left a delightful sweet and almost fruity taste on my tongue. Bitterness was nowhere to be found. It was also a perfect partner to chase down a couple of Scottish oatcakes.

I’ve only tried one other Darjeeling tea and that was in bagged form. It wasn’t bad but it didn’t pack enough punch for me to seek out other variations of the same theme. Now that I’ve tasted one of the finer loose leaf blends, I’m looking forward to the next Darjeeling discovery!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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91

The Republic Of Tea seems to consistently release great tasting teas, regardless of whether they are loose leaf or processed in bags. Their limited special edition teas are also habitually well thought out and formulated. I was therefore very excited to experience the loose leaf blend that they selected to represent their 20-year anniversary of “leading the tea revolution.”

I brewed this tea at 212 degrees for five minutes as recommended on the package. An aroma similar to grape juice wafted from the pot. The color was orange-gold.

The flavor is full of the grape. It’s not tart or tangy. It is sweet and fruity and in the forefront of the very subtle tea taste. There is a sweet grape aftertaste without any bitterness.

The product is also advertised as being “infused with the essence of champagne.” Maybe if you close your eyes and really use your imagination, you might be able to detect the champagne attribute. I must not be imaginative enough. But, no matter, this is still a very tasty and creative blend.

I first tried this tea in the morning. I think I would have appreciated it more in the mid-afternoon.

I believe that The Republic Of Tea does have a fine selection to represent its milestone 20th anniversary. I’m already looking forward to see what they roll out for the 25th!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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84
drank Earl Greyer by The Republic of Tea
200 tasting notes

I see that the tasting notes for this selection include a mix of tea bag and loose leaf reviews. Let me specify that my tasting note is for the loose leaf version of Earl Greyer tea. I feel that is important to note because I’ve tried both the bagged and loose leaf versions of other Republic of Tea products, and I’ve found the taste to differ significantly.

I steeped ol’ Earl Greyer for five minutes at 212 degrees. This resulted in a brownish orange brew.

When I first opened the can and scooped the chopped leaves into my infuser basket, I thought I was in store for one of the strongest bergamot teas that I’ve encountered to date. The unsteeped citrus aroma was very potent and fragrant.

After brewing, I was surprised and disappointed to experience a less than colossal bergamot presence. The bergamot flavor is there and it’s smooth, but the citrus taste is overpowered by the black tea flavor.

The black tea taste is fine. There is also a little maltiness thrown in. There is no bitterness or astringent aftertaste. I guess I have just come to expect more from Earl Grey teas after some of the supercharged varieties that I’ve tried. (For example, if you desire a mighty Earl Grey tea with intense bergamot flavor that will stay with you throughout your day, I highly recommend Rishi Organic Earl Grey Black Tea: http://www.amazon.com/Rishi-Tea-Organic-Black-3-3-Ounce/dp/B001E5E20O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333545907&sr=8-1.)

If you like the citrus flavor to hang in the background of your Earl Grey tea, this selection will more than fit the bill. But, if you prefer bergamot on steroids, you (like me) may find yourself asking, “Is that all there is?”

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
yssah

so the bagged is stronger? which do you like better?

Stoo

Hi yssan!

Overall, I like the loose leaf tea better. The flavor is more robust and full. However, the Earl Grey taste is more prominent in the tea bag version. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe the flavor of bergamot is harder to squash than the tea flavor when ground up into a bag? You may want to do a taste comparison yourself. Thanks for your comment!

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96

As a Southerner, barbecue sauce is in my veins. In these parts, we like just about everything smoked except ice cream. In fact, if you ever pass through my neck of the woods, let me know. I’ll hook you up with the best barbecue restaurant in the universe!

I was, therefore, very intrigued when I read about the Lapsang Souchong tea on The Republic Of Tea web site. A smoky flavored tea sounded very desirable to me.

I steeped this tea at 212 degrees for five minutes. I didn’t detect a smokehouse aroma coming from the tea, but I imagined that four cups of tea wouldn’t produce as strong a smell as 500 pounds of smoked pig.

Without a strong smoky smell, I was wondering if I would be able to detect smokiness in the taste. Well, it was there and at the perfect level! The smoky flavor of this tea is wonderful and quite bold. The black tea flavor is subdued but not to the detriment of the total taste. There is no artificial chemical aftertaste that you sometimes experience with smoky sauces. The flavor of this tea makes you fantasize about the broad tea leaves drying and curing in the smokehouse NEXT TO 500 pounds of pig!

If you don’t like smoky flavors, you probably won’t like this tea. But, if you crave barbecued pulled pork and ribs as much as I do, you will LOVE it!

This is another great tasting tea from The Republic Of Tea. This organization has just been added to my list of favorite and most reliable tea companies.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Hi, I hope you try some loose Lapsang Souchongs and play around with them in the future. I add a pinch to other tea to make them smokey…like…smoked Earl Grey or a Maple with a dash of Lapsang Souchong and a pinch of Applewood Smoked Salt from my cupboard…oh yes! I have a really strong one and a moderate one from a local store here in Fort Collins. If you ever want some, give me a halla and I’ll send you samples.

Stoo

Hi Bonnie. Actually, I did review this one in loose leaf form and it was great! Thanks for the idea to add this tea to other varieties! I’m sure it’s a wonderful complement to many different blends! I’ll definitely give that a try! If you don’t mind sending samples, I’d love to try them! That’s very nice of you! Thanks!

Bonnie

Could you PM me and then I’d have your address. Love to send you a sample and note of how I use this in cooking. (I put it in the water to steam broccoli too and the house smells good) I cooked pasta with it in a tea ball…wow good!

Stoo

Thanks, Bonnie! That is extremely nice of you! I’ll send you my address!

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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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