1031 Tasting Notes
Thank you to Dustin who sent me this a while ago— when Ovation sadly went out of business. I’m sorry I didn’t buy ALL their teas. I was able to try quite a few of them buying an ounce or two here from many kind Steepsters!
I only had this once before, even though I thought it was my favorite chai since I had it. I skipped a tasting note that time. This lovely tea sure smells very spicy opening the bag, even though there is a fair amount of non-CTC black tea leaves here. I saw ginger, cinnamon pieces, cloves, big green things that I had to see the description to tell that it was cardamom and apparently there is also black pepper. The flavor is a nice amount of strong chai but the black base here seems to be different than many of the bases from Ovation – this doesn’t seem to have too strong of a flavor. And there is also no vanilla flavor for me. I would have said this was my favorite chai, but that was before TastyBrew sent me Necessiteas Vanilla Chai. So I guess this makes my second favorite chai that I have in stock right now.
This is why I have only had this lovely chai twice since I acquired it a while ago:
Well, I had time to update my cupboard with tea company samples, teabox scores, and generous packages from other Steepsters. The number went up to 502 (!) before I took all of the teas off that went in teaboxes and the packages I sold. Now it’s at 474. Oh no, that is still too high! They are all mostly smaller amounts, but even if there is only one cup of tea in each sample, that’s still 474 cups… not to mention resteeps. Ah well, I love my tea collection! I certainly have variety though (but it doesn’t help when I want to be drinking six different teas at any given moment!
The final new-to-me Teavivre sample I have to review! I must say that I love Teavivre just for how generous they are. I love the contest they have going right now… I hope I win! I swear whenever I see a Steepster note for anything from Teavivre, it is mentioned as being a free sample! They know their teas are the best! I would probably buy ALL of them if I had the money.
This one is an actual milk oolong, and the milk flavor is in the leaf growing process and not actually flavored with something artificial. I know this because this one is called a Jin Xuan and not just ‘milk oolong’. Teavivre’s instructions are for 212 degrees, 2-3 teaspoons with a rinse and then 1,2,3 minute steep times. One sample package had about two teaspoons (honestly if I used three teaspoons, the unfurled leaves would have been pouring out of the brew basket!)
Steep #1 // few minutes after boiling // 1 min
It’s new to me that boiling will not burn an oolong. It certainly doesn’t ruin this one. I just thought it would be more like green tea and less like black tea. Steep times and temps seem to be the most different with oolongs. The dry leaves are so bright green and actually smell like vegetables. The steep color is a light butter yellow and the main flavor profile is the same. It isn’t floral, fruity or vegetal — it is sweet, creamy, butter. Less like milk, but when it is an ACTUAL milk oolong and not flavored as such artificially, it doesn’t have as strong of a milk flavor.
Steep #2 // a few minutes after boiling // 2 min
More delicious butter! That is still the main flavor profile. So so good. I love the different flavor profiles that oolongs have. I’m surprised this cup stayed so similar to the first cup, since oolongs usually change. The bottom of this mug tasted like cream, even cold!
Steep #3 // just boiled // 3 min
This one seemed a touch too bitter, less butter, though it was still drinkable. It tasted more like orchids this time! I would have went two and a half minutes for this steep. This tea is lovely!
I really love Hojicha, but there aren’t many in my cupboard! I was happy to try this one for free with my Zen order a while ago. This one is NICE. Two teaspoons around boiling for one minute for the first steep. Two minutes for the second steep. Both cups tasted the same and SO GOOD! This isn’t the hojicha with the deepest flavor I’ve tried.. it is lighter and sweeter. It tastes like I added sugar somehow. I love hojicha more than most non-roasty toasty green teas (unless it is a REALLY good one.) I would definitely buy this one as Hojicha staple for my cupboard! Honestly, it reminds me of the Honey Smacks cereal it tastes so sweet (I swear I haven’t had that cereal in forever.) So you’re in luck if you happen to read this review, you are addicted to Honey Smacks, and want something healthier as a replacement. I doubt that will happen though!
Steepster seems slow today, so here is a tasting note! You’re welcome! :D Another I was dying to try that I’m so thankful that Terri Harplady sent some of. Turns out, this is exactly the tea I wanted this morning!
Steep #1 // boiled // probably 3 1/2 minutes
I added a teaspoon and 1/3, mainly so the next steep session is a sipdown. The leaves are dark with just occasional hints of gold. Steeped, the cup color is very red! I love the flavor: brisk, malty, bready. If I hadn’t added an extra 1/3 teaspoon of leaves, I probably would have gotten more of the caramel that others have noticed. This one actually compares to the Ovation black teas I have that I have a ton of, that no one really wrote tasting notes for. They may have rated as high as this one if others had tried it. So I’m glad I have large amounts of the Ovation.. I don’t really have too much quantity of plain blacks and those are my favorite. (Most of my teas are sample sized – not usually any over two ounces!)
Steep #2 // boiled // 4 minutes
This cup was still delicious, yet oaky. I’m trying to figure out why second steeps often have this flavor. It’s either too many leaves or too long of a steep time, BUT I’m beginning to think that it’s since the leaves are already unraveled from the first steep, they might be over steeping. Like I said though, still delicious! A tough tea: wake-up, it’s flavor!
Another lovely sample from JusTea – thank you! It is autumn and autumn is time for chai! There are different ingredients here that aren’t found in Indian chai… but I’m fine with that as long as the base is the lovely Kenyan black that I sipped recently. And rose petals don’t hurt! I wish I knew exactly WHAT ingredients are in here, since it looks like there are more than the three listed in the description when I am looking at the blend itself. Maybe the description just mentions three of the ingredients that aren’t in a typical chai? I steeped a teaspoon and a half just after boiling for 3 1/2 minutes. The brew color is actually lighter than I expected for chai. The black tea isn’t as noticeable as I would like. I guess it’s the spices overpowering the flavor of the black tea, which is probably why some chais use CTC black bases. The flavor is very clovey! I’m not a fan of ginger and I can only tolerate it when it is in chai. It’s spicy in its own way. I don’t know if I taste any rose, but it sure looks nice. This blend certainly stands alone in my chai collection, since it’s so different!
Thanks so much, Terri Harplady! She kindly suggested I use the amount she sent me for one mug. So this one has shu pu-erh nuggets, peppercorn, ginger, licorice and elderberries. A mix that didn’t sound very good until I tried it!
First steep // a few minutes after boiling // two minutes
I did a quick rinse first! Two minutes later the flavor is so balanced with these ingredients! Spicy like a chai, thanks to the peppercorn and the ginger. The top of the mug has a hint of tanginess from the elderberries but that disappears as I drink the rest of the mug, probably because the elderberries floated at the top of the infuser. The pu-erh itself is very mild and sweet, and the steep color isn’t too dark – medium brown. A bit of the licorice flavor and this cup is amazingly balanced. Verdant sure knows what they are doing.
Second steep // boiled // 3 min
This cup is MUCH darker… like a deep maroon red. But the flavor isn’t much stronger… the pu-erh is the same! It’s odd that the color changes but the flavor doesn’t. The flavor is so good! I’m not really getting the pastry flavor that the description mentions, but maybe I’m not eating enough pastries. I must remedy that. I’m actually surprised I’m learning to love pu-erh even more than some other types of teas (like white and green) but nothing will ever replace my black teas.
Third steep // boiled // 4 min
I can really appreciate how well the ingredients blend together as each steep progresses. It’s just perfect. This cup is pretty much the same as the last one, another deep red and the flavor is the same. I almost didn’t have a third cup but I’m glad I did! Since the flavor is the same with this one, I imagine there could be many more steeps with the same leaves. I really like this one, so I’m glad I was able to try it!
Additional notes: I’m having this one again. I think I’m trying to have all of my chai and apple teas this autumn. I may have oversteeped this one (4-5 minutes a few minutes after boiling), but I’m so sad for the apple flavor here! If only Nature’s used a different apple flavor, it would be so much better. The black tea, cinnamon and cloves are so nice, it’s a shame to ruin it with this tangy, perfume-like apple. I’m lowering the rating.
Another one Terri Harplady included in the teabox for me in my special baggie of teas. thank you! :D Dragon pearls again so soon? Why yes. I’m not sure why these are called red pearls… maybe only because in China black tea is called red tea? I used four pearls for these steeps.
First steep // 3 min // 20 min after boiling (deciding which tea)
This one is SPECIAL. It doesn’t even seem like a black tea because there is just a honey honey honey flavor! The texture is even like honey! I’ve never had a tea like this before. I couldn’t guess it was a black tea, honestly. Maybe it is just because of the lower temperature? Definitely no astringency.
Second steep // 4 min // right after boiling
The amazing honey is still here, but now there is a deeper flavor — a bit like chocolate with honey notes, a bit more astringency that is just noticeable (but the first cup was just SWEET.) Still not quite like a distinct black tea. So so good. I’m very amazed that even black (or red) dragon pearls seem to be so unique!
Third steep // 3 min // right after boiling
This cup was much like the second but there was a hint of oakiness that detracted from the honey chocolate! So the light honey flavor from the first cup definitely wasn’t just from the lower temperature, as the other two cups would have had a stronger flavor right after boiling. This has to be the sweetest black tea I’ve tried.
I love these. I have eight more pearls – so two more steeping sessions to savor later!
Additional notes: I wanted to try this hot, since I loved it so much cold in the summer. It may have been my favorite iced, among the teas I tried. I’m amazed that even though I let this one steep three minutes a few minutes after boiling and the leaves are so tiny, there really isn’t a strong astringency to the black tea. I was expecting a very strong flavor, but it doesn’t seem much different than when it is just steeped with cold water for a couple days. The plum flavor is a little bit different though… I can’t tell how. I love it either way though! It is reminding me of Harney’s Tower of London or Paris which I vaguely thought of today, so it makes sense I would pick this one today. I have enough left for a couple steeps!
I’m very excited to get my mysterious perk from the 52Teas campaign. I can’t wait to see which 12 teas they are sending samples of (I really hope one is the Candy Corn I’m dying to try since these are being sent in October). I’m guessing the samples will be much like the one this tea is in that were exclusively sold by iheartteas – Rachel? I think? They are paper pouches that have a few teaspoons in them. I just wish the campaign had been more successful for 52Teas! I kind of feel guilty that I’m getting the samples.
Some more samples! Thank you! I have so many teas to try just with samples from companies. I’ll be able to get to the samples now since the teaboxes are out of my hands! I love the name of this one. (And I’m also wondering what rooibos teas are called when black teas are red.) I was worried that the samples I picked out from Yezi would be like Laoshan black. I was trying to avoid the teas I thought would be like Laoshan Black, though I still wanted to try their black teas. Let’s call that the tea for me that everyone else seems to love and I don’t really get. I just feel there are stronger teas that are more like chocolate since Laoshan black is so light it can’t possibly taste like chocolate. I’m writing so much about Laoshan black, because I couldn’t tell these apart in a blind taste test. It’s very light, not like my favorite deep dark chocolate teas. I can see where many tea drinkers would prefer a lighter black tea to stronger flavors. Two teaspoons at a three minute steep right after boiling, yep, I can’t tell the two apart. Maybe my palate isn’t refined enough, but Laoshan black is certainly very unique enough that it doesn’t really taste like many other black teas… really any other tea I’ve tried before. Well, I failed trying to avoid the Laoshan of Yezi, but I hope the other two samples will probably be more to my liking… and I really liked the name of this one anyway!