200 Tasting Notes

97

The stores where I live carry a very limited and standard selection of loose leaf teas (e.g., basic green, jasmine, english breakfast). So, if I want to branch out into more exciting blends, I have to order them on-line or take out a loan at the local Teavana store. The Republic of Tea on-line collection has some of the most imaginative flavors around at reasonable prices. The Coconut Pu-erh tea sounded like it was right up my alley- bold, black, and sweet- all of my favorite attributes.

I steeped this tea at 212 degrees for five minutes. While brewing, the scent that filled the kitchen was like an Almond Joy bar. It made me concentrate to try to will the tea maker to process faster.

Sometimes the teas smell great and sweet but the flavor is flat and expressionless. Not so with this little gem! The flavor is exactly as advertised by the aroma. It is sweet and wonderful, more like a dessert tea than a breakfast stimulator. The usually dominant pu-erh taste follows merrily behind the sweet coconut flavor leader. The color is like dark mahogany.

This tea would be fantastic to sip at all times during the day. For me it had the double benefit of waking me up and satisfying my sweet tooth. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I have already added this selection to my “Don’t Run Out!!!” list.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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70

I’m very familiar with The Republic of Tea tea bags, having tried a slew of different varieties last year before I entered the wonderful world of loose tea. I enjoyed all of the ones that I bought. I was anxious to see how the loose leaf versions compared.

I steeped the Blackberry Sage tea for five minutes at 212 degrees. The brewing aroma was incredible. It was very (or should I say, “berry”?) sweet and fruity. I couldn’t wait to see if it tasted as great as it smelled!

The brewed color of this tea is a golden amber. The flavor is fabulous! My first sip reminded me of Knott’s Berry Farm shortbread cookies. The taste is sweet and fruity without bitterness. The tea flavor undertones are subtle and supportive. A very nice aftertaste also lingers on my tongue. I imagine that this blend would also be terrific iced.

This is a very nice black tea. It isn’t the boldest black blend that I’ve tasted, but it really doesn’t need to be. The flavor is full and steady and delicious. That’s all I require for my afternoon black tea fix!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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92
drank Peachy White by Adagio Teas
200 tasting notes

I haven’t had a lot of experience with white teas. I stick to the bold blacks most of the time. However, I found this one at a bargain price and thought it was worth a try. I was very glad that I did!

I steeped this tea at 180 degrees for seven minutes as recommended on the package. This produced a dark golden yellow beverage that smelled like fresh orchard peaches in the Spring. Even with the elongated steeping time, the flavor was very well balanced, mild, and fully bloomed.

The fresh peachy taste was dominant but not overbearing. The white tea flavor was mild and secondary, but it did not take a back seat or play second fiddle to the wonderful fruity presence. It seemed to more accurately play viola with or sit in the front seat next to this terrific fresh peachy zing.

This is only the second Adagio tea that I’ve sampled (the other being Vanilla Rooibos), but this company is so far batting 1000 with me. Both teas have had exceptional flavor and very modest pricing.

I’ve wanted to create a line-up of afternoon teas that are mild and tasty, but low in caffeine, so I won’t feel like running a marathon at two in the morning. Peachy White is the leadoff batter in my line-up! (“Peachy White” would be a GREAT NAME for a baseball player!…“Coming up to bat with a .350 average is the mighty crowd favorite, Peachy White!!!”…as the crowd roars!)

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 7 min, 0 sec

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85

My experience with Twinings has been that, regardless of the variety or blend, I can always count on a solid nice tasting tea at a very reasonable price. Such is the case with the Gunpowder Green tea.

This tea, when steeped at 195 degrees for three minutes, produced a color similar to apple cider. The flavor was a full green tea taste without any bitterness whatsoever.

I’m not a huge green tea fan, but I do enjoy the finer teas of this classification. I would definitely add this selection to that list. The little rolled up pre-steeped tea “pellets” (from which the “gunpowder” name originates) are fun too!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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88

This loose leaf tea was another selection that I picked up at the local Earth Fare market. In the store, it was very loose, as it was contained in large clear cannisters from which you could scoop out as much (or as little) as you wanted into clear plastic bags.

Other reviews that I read about this tea said it was a little on the weak side. To minimize this potential characteristic, I steeped it for five minutes at 212 degrees. The golden red beverage that resulted had the conventional breakfast tea scent.

In spite of the heavy steeping, the flavor was not strong, but adequate. The taste was mildly malty with perhaps just a hint of spice. There was no bitterness and the aftertaste was pleasant. Although I wanted to crank up the volume on the flavor, I still found it to be complete and tasty.

Even if you prefer your tea on the mild side, I would recommend that you steep this blend for at least five minutes to obtain the full flavor effect. With this method, you might have a satisfying selection to add to your breakfast tea assortment.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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94
drank PG Tips Loose Leaf by PG Tips
200 tasting notes

I read many good things about PG Tips, England’s best selling tea, and I’ve wanted to try it for several months. I finally found it at our local Earth Fare market.

A lot of the reviews that I read stated that this was not a wimpy tea and quite a bit stronger than the American brands. Even though I’m a “bolder is better” black tea drinker, I decided to go easy on the steeping, just in case I had met my match.

Just three minutes of steeping at 212 degrees produced a dark reddish amber brew. A potent and familiar British tea aroma wafted from the pot.

The flavor, true to the hype, was audacious and brassy. It immediately reminded me of the great cups of tea served by my cousins during my visits to Scotland. The taste is not complex but doesn’t need to be. It is simply solid, full, and clear. I experienced no bitterness. The aftertaste also contained no astringency. Although I always drink my tea straight up, I imagine this blend would hold up very well under the cover of milk and sugar.

After months of searching for this tea, PG Tips did not disappoint me. It is everything that it was advertised to be. It is a solid hitter and a great addition to my morning black tea lineup.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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83

Although China seems to be primarily known for its green teas, I think it also produces some of the best black teas in the world. I’ve enjoyed English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast teas very much in the morning. I was curious to learn how Chinese Breakfast tea stacks up against them.

I brewed this blend for five minutes at 212 degrees, the end of the range specified on the package. This produced a tea with a maple syrup color. The aroma was similar to that of European breakfast teas.

The flavor was quite strong and malty. The aftertaste was just a tad on the sweet side. Perhaps that was the influence of the cacao ingredient, although there was no discernible chocolate flavor.

World Market recommends that you use one to two teaspoons of tea leaves per cup. To compromise, I loaded six teaspoons for four cups. This made the flavor slightly astringent. I will use my normal one teaspoon per cup next time.

This is a nice tasting breakfast tea. It’s the type of tea that I enjoy most in the morning to turbo charge my slumbering senses.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Angrboda

I think it also produces some of the best black teas in the world
I totally agree! All my favourite blacks are Chinese.

ashmanra

Same here! I drink almost exclusively Chinese tea when it comes to black and green. Oolongs may be Chinese or Taiwanese, of course! A favorite tea from Teavivre was their Yun Nan Dian Hong. Wonder if this is the same tea?

Stoo

The Chinese teas are great stuff! I just sent off for an order of several Teavivre black teas. I also like Rishi’s Earl Grey, another fine Chinese tea! Thanks for checking in, Angrboda and ashmanra!

Stoo

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70
drank Ancient Pu-Erh by World Market
200 tasting notes

This is only the second Pu-Erh product that I have tried, so my realm of experience is very limited. I think it would be unfair to make comparisons until I expand the field some more. I’ll instead judge this one on its own merit.

Since I prefer strong robust teas in the morning, I brewed this tea for the full five minutes at 212 degrees. The aroma reminded me of newly tanned leather. Images of mahogany wood also came to mind. The color was a rich dark brown, like black coffee.

The flavor was not as strong as I would have liked. It had a medium-power malty, earthy, and leathery taste. No bitterness appeared, even after the maximum steeping time.

I said I wasn’t going to compare the two Pu-Erh teas that I’ve tried, but I can’t deny that I found the previous brand (Teavivre) to have a much fuller and more complex flavor. The World Market offering, though, is not bad and is reasonably priced. I will drink the 50 cups that I paid for but will continue my search for better entries in this arena.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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52
drank Chai Spice by THE BRIGHT TEA COMPANY
200 tasting notes

This is another selection from the office Flavia machine. I am starting to fall into a pattern with Flavia’s undercover brand of teas. I don’t much care for their standard tea offerings, such as English Breakfast, Earl Grey, etc., but I do find their flavored teas somewhat interesting and tolerable. The Chai Spice blend also falls into that category.

I didn’t experience any recognizable tea flavor, but the full spicy taste was rich in cinnamon and ginger. I also didn’t detect the muddy flavor attribute that I’ve encountered with several Flavia selections.

I would summarize this product by calling it a decent spicy “beverage”. I wasn’t quite fond of it enough to classify it as a tea.

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92
drank Assam by Newby Teas of London
200 tasting notes

I stumbled upon this tea the other day while my fiancee and I were strolling through the local Asian food market. It’s a fun and interesting place to visit.

The fish that you can buy there could be no fresher. They are alive and swimming around in huge tanks. When you select the one that you want, the staff bops it on the head with a mallet, wraps it up, and sends you (and it) on your merry way. I wondered if it would be a huge (and dangerous) shock to the purchaser if the fish were only knocked unconscious, and it woke up and started flopping around your car while you drove it home for dinner. But I digress…

I’m obviously still a newbie in the world of teas. I had no idea what Assam tea was and had to look it up so I would know what I was drinking.

For those as uninformed as I was, Assam is a black tea grown in India that is used for English, Scottish, and Irish Breakfast teas. The leaves are dark green in color and are glossy and fairly wide compared to those of the Chinese tea plant.

As recommended on the package, I brewed this tea at 212 degrees for five minutes. It may be due to my recent cataract surgeries, but this tea seemed to produce a unique brownish orange color.

The aroma of this tea is both nutty and malty. The flavor is bounteous and powerful without bitterness. The taste is very much like the smell, nutty and malty. The aftertaste doesn’t seem to hang around for as long as some of the Chinese morning teas that I frequent, but it is pleasant just the same.

This is an excellent blend and I enjoyed it a lot. I will definitely rotate it with the other members in my collection of morning teas.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Cheryl

As I was reading, the “oh!, what if it isn’t really dead?” thought popped into my head too.

Angrboda

Well, even if it was initially only unconscious, it would most likely die of suffocation anyway before it could have had time to wake up. Being unable to breathe air and what not.

Stoo

They bop them pretty hard, Cheryl. I’m pretty confident that they won’t revive, but great minds think alike! ;-)

Stoo

You’re right, Angrboda. Even if they were to wake up with only a headache, I doubt they could hold their breath that long to survive. :-)

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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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