160 Tasting Notes

90

I stumbled upon this little gem at our local Provisions store. This tea comes from a company that I was familiar with for its herbs and spices, but not teas. These folks knew what they were doing when they decided to whip up a blend of black tea and mint herbs.

When I opened the two-ounce packet of leaves, a very fresh spearmint/peppermint (both herbs are in this blend) aroma was present. There was such a generous portion of mint in this selection that I had to read the ingredients on the packet to verify that this was black tea and not green tea. The leaves were very short, almost like pipe tobacco.

There were no steeping instructions on the packet so I brewed the tea for three minutes at 205 degrees. I thought maybe I should go a little easier on the mint than full steam boiling. The color of the steeped tea was a golden reddish mix.

Although there wasn’t a strong mint aroma spewing from the cup, the taste of this tea was just loaded with mint. The spearmint/peppermint infusion was perfect. It was fresh and potent without becoming obnoxious. I couldn’t identify a tea taste per se, but it didn’t matter. The flavor was just a wonderful waltz of mint. The aftertaste was a pleasing mint symphony that I wished had lingered longer.

I thoroughly enjoyed four cups of this tea in the morning. The next time the leaves hit my tea maker will be in the afternoon. I’m going to pour it over ice after brewing. I’m sure this will be an excellent iced tea to which Southerners I know will happily say, “Y’all come back, hear?”

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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78

Thanks once more to TeaVivre and Angel for this sample!

Again I must preface this note with a disclaimer that I am not a green tea aficionado. As an allergy sufferer, I need strong smells and tastes to penetrate my constantly tormented sinuses and taste buds. A lot of green tea selections seem to have flavors that are much weaker than the black tea powerhouses that I prefer. Plus, I require a more electrifying caffeine jolt in the morning to bring me back to life.

When I opened this package, I noticed the fresh quality of the long green tea leaves. This is probably because the harvest was less than two months ago. The unbrewed odor was very faint and somewhat grassy.

I steeped the leaves for two minutes at 185 degrees as directed on the package. The color of the brewed tea was an extremely pale greenish gold, just a tad darker than clear. I didn’t detect any aroma emanating from my cup, even when I pushed my snozz deep inside of it.

The flavor was…there…but it lacked definition, depth, and power. It wasn’t unpleasant. It wasn’t bitter. It was illusive. After really concentrating and focusing hard during a cup and a half of sips, I was finally able to register a ghostly sweet and lightly grassy taste on my palate.

If green teas are your preference, and your sinuses are in much better shape than mine, you probably won’t find anything dislikable about this selection. However, if you are olfactorily challenged (as I am), you may find yourself pining for TeaVivre’s Premium Keemun Hao Ya or Yun Nan Dian Hong – Golden Tip black teas (as I did).

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

It has been good to see you back in Steepster, Stoo!

Stoo

Thanks, ashmanra! It’s very kind of you to say that! I’ve missed being here! My birthday is coming up in a few months. Hopefully I’ll get more new teas to write about! :-)

Stoo

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93

Thanks again, Angel And TeaVivre, for this sample!

It appears that I wrote a tasting note about this tea a year ago. After I finish this note, I’m going to go back and read last year’s note to see if I’ve become wiser or just more crotchety.

A strong but nice grassy aroma emerged from the sample packet when I opened it. The unbrewed green tea leaves were long, bright, and flat.

I steeped this tea for two minutes at 175 degrees (one degree lower than the recommended 176 degrees due to tea maker limitations). The brewed color was a fairly vibrant golden green. The odor was grassy and sweet.

As you may have seen me write ad nauseam, I am not a green tea banner waver. However, I’ve got to say, I REALLY like the taste of this one!

The flavor is fresh, sweet, and grassy, like a newly mowed Spring meadow. Absolutely no bitterness is present. The aftertaste lingers delicately on your palate.

It’s hard for me to rank green teas since I tend to dismiss them after tasting them. But, if forced to do so, this selection would definitely be near the top of my list!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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90

Thank you once again, Angel and TeaVivre, for another sample!

OK. I don’t want to beat a dead horse (or tea leaf) but green teas and I aren’t close. I’ll try them and any other variety of tea, but I’m a black tea kind of guy.

When I opened the sample package for this selection, a fairly strong grassy aroma burst forth. The leaves were full, bright green, and flat.

I steeped this rascal for two minutes at 175 degrees. The brewed aroma was again grassy and a touch sweet. The color was a fairly golden green (which became bright gold after 30 minutes of post-brewed heating).

I was pleasantly surprised by the moderately full taste of this tea. Sometimes green teas don’t contain enough flavor to completely register with my taste buds. This selection had a very recognizable grassy and sweet flavor. The taste was light and lively with an equally affable aftertaste.

I’m not ready to replace my stash of black teas with green blends, but I did find this variety quite pleasant to sip during the early afternoon. I’m sure I would also enjoy it during my days off from work when my brain doesn’t require as much kick-starting.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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83

Thanks again to Angel and TeaVivre for this new sample!

Let me quickly again sum up my feelings about green tea: not much into it. However, I am always willing to try new varieties, and have found a few that I’ve liked, not enough to make them a daily habit, but they’ve been tasty.

The flat bright green leaves in the sample package of this selection had a sweet grassy aroma. I steeped them for two minutes at 175 degrees as recommended in the instructions (176 degrees was recommended, but close counts).

The brewed liquid was an extremely pale golden green. The steeped aroma was very faint and slightly sweet.

It took several sips before my brain and taste buds could process enough flavor information to classify it. Then, I began to discern a sort of sweet, slightly spicy, kind of grassy taste. The flavor was smooth, very light, and too delicate to produce any bitterness.

This tea was pleasant to drink and may be a fine late afternoon or early evening selection, but I prefer stronger and more robust flavors. To be fair, I should also mention that we are now in peak pollen and allergy season here in South Carolina, so my tasting apparatus isn’t as sensitive as it is at other times of the year.

Having said that, there is nothing at all wrong with this tea’s amiable flavors. The volume just isn’t pumped up enough for my preference.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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90

Thank you Angel and TeaVivre for this sample!

I am always excited to try new black teas. The black blends are definitely my favorite. I love their robust and powerful flavors as well as the extra jolt of caffeine that they give me in the morning to launch my day.

This selection from TeaVivre worried me at first because of the word “fragrant” in the title. I tend to not enjoy blends that include flowery or perfume-like tastes and aromas. However, I was immediately encouraged when I noticed that there was no flowery or perfume smell when I opened the sample packet.

I steeped the thin black short leaves for three minutes at 195 degrees (one degree more than the instructions recommended due to tea maker limitations). The brewed color was a dark amber. There was no “fragrant” aroma wafting from the cup (which was fine with me).

The taste of this brew was slightly sweet and malty. It also had the earthy quality that I’ve grown accustomed to with other Keemun teas. I did not detect any floral or fragrant attribute in the flavor either.

The aftertaste was pleasant and a tad sweet. Bitterness was completely absent.

This is another very nice tea from the folks at TeaVivre. In my opinion, the absence of anything “fragrant” makes it even better!

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

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90

More thanks go out to Angel and TeaVivre for another sample to taste!

I’m never very confident that I will like new green tea selections because I prefer robust and potent black teas to bring me into consciousness each morning. I was even more leery of this sample for two reasons:

1) Well…It’s green tea. :-)
2) The recommended steeping time is only 1 minute! How much flavor can possibly be wrung from the tea leaves in that brief period?!

But, always game to try new varieties, I marched on. The full green leaves in the sample packet had a slightly sweet and grassy odor. I followed TeaVivre’s instructions and brewed this tea for 1 minute at 175 degrees (176 degrees was actually recommended but the tea maker has no setting for it).

The brewed liquid was a pale golden green, which surprised me. I was expecting little color at all after only one minute of brewing! The aroma was grassy and sweeter than the unsteeped leaves.

When I sipped this tea, I did so very slowly and purposefully at first, not wanting to miss any of the quickly brewed flavor. I was quite pleased to discover that an ample and satisfactory sweet, grassy, green tea taste existed! The flavor also contained undertones of something extra, not quite floral, but like an echo of honeysuckle. It was very smooth with not even a trickle of bitterness.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, I liked this selection. It didn’t make me a green tea convert, but I will re-steep this blend for a few more cups. It is smooth, light, and airy, and probably has everything in it that I would love…if I loved green teas. :-)

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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96

It’s great to be tasting and reviewing new teas again after my three-month hiatus! Since I’m the only tea drinker in my house, it became urgent for me to go into self-imposed exile, to whittle down my accumulating stash before it needed a room of its own.

Thank you, Teavivre, for putting me back in the game with more free samples!

I’d already tried a few other brands of Lapsang smoky tea and liked them all, so I was anxious to experience Teavivre’s variation on this familiar theme. Bring it on!

Upon opening the two-cup sample package of full tea leaves, my nostrils immediately detected the smoky aroma that I remembered from the other Lapsang smoky selections. However, this scent was not nearly as powerful as the other brands had been.

In accordance with Teavivre’s instructions, I steeped the tea at 195 degrees (the instructions specified 194 degrees but my tea maker is not quite that precise – close enough!) for two minutes. The brewed liquid was a light golden color. A slightly smoky aroma was emitted from my cup.

At first sip, the smoky taste was definitely obvious but it did not slap me silly like the other brands. The other selections gave me flashbacks of sitting by a campfire.

With my second sip, I contemplated whether the more subtle smoky quality was a good or bad thing. But…then it happened. A mellow and sweet taste began to emerge from the smoke. The extra flavors added an interesting complexity that I hadn’t experienced with this type before.

The aftertaste of this tea was complex, mellow, and sweet without bitterness. The smokiness was discernible but did not scream for attention.

I like this selection very much. I realize now that, with tea (like other things in life), what you are used to is not always the best, and more is not always better. This tea has everything that you would expect and desire in a Lapsang Souchong smoky black tea, and so much more, without shouting. This blend should be savored, not gulped!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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78
drank Ginger Peach by The Republic of Tea
160 tasting notes

This was another bagged sample obtained by my lovely wife at a high-class hotel during her business trip. I am no longer a big bag advocate but I am always more than willing to sample new tea selections.

I steeped this tea on our office Flavia coffee machine by pouring the machine’s boiling water over the bag into a paper cup. The Flavia aparatus does include a “tea” setting to do this, but the setting is no more designed for tea than it would be for instant oatmeal.

In any event, I let the bag sit in the boiling water for five minutes. The resulting color was a reddish golden brown.

As I raised the cup to my lips, I detected a peachy aroma. This made me anxious for my first taste since I rarely smell anything with brewed tea bags. However, the party ended when the flavor hit my taste buds. I did not think it was possible but the taste was actually weaker than the aroma.

The flavor was lightly peachy. The ginger was missing in action, up to about my twentieth sip. Then, I tasted the hidden ginger behind the peach attribute.

This tea does have a natural (instead of chemical) peach taste. There is no astringency to note. I would have liked it more if the flavor was bolder and the ginger was allowed to assert itself. The bag package claims that it was made from the “finest black tea leaves.” If so, let them shine, Republic of Tea! This selection had about the same amount of black tea flavor as herbal tea.

Did I hate this tea? No. Will I go out of my way to try it again? No. However, I would give it another shot if I had the opportunity to test this blend as a full loose-leaf and properly infused incarnation.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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80

I have become a tea snob and don’t drink bagged tea anymore unless I am in the office. Such is the case this morning as I sample this “Eco Bag” obtained by my thoughtful wife at an upscale hotel during her business trip.

I have to admit, the bag looked pretty cool. It was extremely clear so you could thoroughly see the chopped full-leaf tea particles inside. The package boasted that it was “made of renewable resources, including bamboo, its open weave design allows optimal full-leaf infusion.” That sounded impressive but I was more concerned about flavor.

I tossed the bag into a paper cup and set our office’s Flavia Creation 400 coffee machine to run boiling hot water over it. I let the bag soak for five minutes. (Oh, how I missed my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker.)

As has been my experience with most bagged teas, there was no discernible aroma emanating from the cup. The color was a reddish golden brown.

My first sip only produced a mild black tea taste with a touch of astringency. I needed several more gulps before I could begin to identify the Assam, Ceylon, and Darjeeling flavors that comprised this blend. After that, the taste settled into a mild but slightly shrill breakfast tea.

All in all, this selection was not bad but it did not excite me or make me want to add it to my shopping list. Perhaps the full loose-leaf version, brewed in my tea maker and gently poured into my layered glass mug at home, would thrill me much more (location…location…location).

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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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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