It being St. Patty’s Day, I decided to make this my morning cup. Gah! SO good. Still! While it’s been pointed out to me that a “true” Irishman would have “actual” whiskey in his tea for the morn, I will settle with a mildly peaty substitute. Love this grand experiment.
313 Tasting Notes
I guess this first flush Darjeeling is technically cheating, since it is a blend of both first and second flush leaves. That said, I wanted to try it anyway. I was at Smith HQ with my mother (which seems to be the recurring pattern), and noticed it was one of the black teas I didn’t remember trying. Why that is, I know not; for it possessed a character that was surely memorable. Like other Marybong offerings I tried, it was strong in it’s “jalapeno”-spicy notes and floral lean. I prefer my blacks on the light side, and this certainly was. Time went by so fast, I didn’t realize I was finished ’til I poured drips out of the pot. A habit-forming Darjeeling.
I love me some berry medleys, and this quite the berry boat. It brews blood-red-dark thanks to copious amounts of hibiscus. Unfortunately, that also affects the taste. I like hibiscus, but I can agree that it has too sour a profile when overdone. Lucky for this blend, it only shows up in the forefront of the taste but segues to a deliciously fruity middle. Pretty darn good.
This was exactly as it purports to be. A blueberry-flavored white tea. Ingredients are White Peony, cornflowers (for show), and natural flavors. (Or “flavours” if you’re Canadian like the company.) It brews up like a normal white tea but retains a loud blueberry presence in the aroma. Same goes for the taste. This does not – I repeat, does not – need to be sweetened. It tastes like fruit candy on its own. If you’re looking for subtlety, don’t look here. If you want BERRY! This is your cup.
Full Review: Pending on www.itsallabouttheleaf.com
Their menu said it was actually a 5-year-aged pu-erh, but no matter. I had a li’l tea date this evening, and decided to give this a go. I’ve had sheng tuo cha elsewhere and ended up liking it quite a bit. This one wasn’t quite as excellent as the others I’ve tried – lacking some of the wine-y/grape-y note – but it more than made up for that with an earthy/floral presence. I would gladly select it again.
I stopped by Stash HQ while running errands of a sort. While perusing their rather large loose leaf wall, a new white tea caught my eye. Rwandan in origin. Now, I’ve had Kenyan whites and Malawi whites, but not one from Rwanda. I inquired about it at the desk, and they mentioned that it was new. That and they had it out for tasting. I gave it a go.
Aside from the temperature of the water being lukewarm, this was a very flavorful tea. I had noticed that African whites – like Indian ones – have a distinct “grape-y” profile about them. Also shades of maple. This had a grassy forefront that transitioned to the fruit note quite smoothly. A very delicious amber cup. So glad I happened by it.
Hiya Steepster…it’s been awhile. How ya been?
On to the taster note. The Shang Tea sampler was my frivolous “Tea WANT!” purchase for March. The main reason I got it was for one particular tea, their Tangerine Blossom “red” tea. As the description stated, it was white tea leaves (Dai Bai) that’d been lightly fermented, then blended with tangerine blossoms.
The result was a dry leaf scent that smelled at first like a jasmine green, but imparted a light citrusy profile. The liquor brewed to – what I can best sum up as – “oolong amber”. The scent also echoed the oolong comparison. The taste? A black tea-ish forefront followed by a strong citrus tang in the middle, and a smooth aftertaste. I can find no fault with this tea. At all.
When one looks for a tea, the last thing they’re thinking is “I want to drink CAKE!” Well, NecessiTeas will help you rethink that leaning. Then again, I’m always thinking about cake, so I’m probably not the best judge. That said, this green tea blend is exactly as it purports to be. The pineapple chunks are huge, and the natural flavors don’t mute on spashdown. Tall praise for a blend.
Vicony Teas is the end-all/say-all to Keemun excellence. Heck, they were there at the drink’s inception. So, I think they have a heads-up on what’s good and what’s not. This is a new type of Keemun – only about ten years old – processed in a way similar to Bi Luo Chun (a famous green tea). And there are similarities. The flavor profile is creamy, sweet, smokey, woody, and a bunch o’ other things. I just can’t think of ‘em at the moment. It’s a very complex cup that only slightly deviates from the Keemun norm. I’m okay with that.
I like rooibos. I like chamomile. I…uh…have to be in the mood for peppermint. These don’t quite mesh here. Rooibos and chamomile “could” work well together, but only if the former was the green/un-fermented form. Peppermint…is un-blendable. Nothing goes with it. Perhaps that’s just my subjective palate talking, but the only things I’ve found that work with it are other mints and (maybe) lemony herbs; none of which were on display here. I approved of this for the most part, but it’s not something I would devote my sleepy time to on a regular basis.
I don’t consider myself a high-brow tea taster by any stretch, but I do have a rather informed opinion about Yinzhens. They were the first loose leaf tea I ever tried, so – naturally – I have a pedestal in which to reference. This Silver Needle took said pedestal, spat on it, and ordered a completely new chair – an ottoman, I think. (I.e. It was superb.)
Full Review: Pending on www.itsallabouthteleaf.com
This is a regular sencha with a complicated name. Make that, a regular “rough” sencha somewhat mimicking the “aracha”-style of green tea. The leaves were long, reedy, and not quite as uniform as ordinary refined sencha. In truth, it looked like the Chinese sencha used in many green tea blends. Suits me just fine, I loved the stuff. Put analogously, this tasted like a celery stick lathered in honey-flavored peanut butter. Sure, it’s grassy like senchas are, but there’s more at work here than just that – a fruity lean, a nutty nuance, a sweet finishing act. Worth a visit even with the long-arse name.
This is a Ceylon green tea blended with a strange Ayurvedic flower called Sepalika Mala. It also goes by “Night-flowering Jasmine”. Not to be confused with regular jasmine. The petals sorta smell like lotus. As a tea, combined with a remarkably dark green tea base, it imparts a liquor that is oolong-ish gold with a taste that resembles a sheng pu-erh in its even-textured – almost wine-like – notes. Probably the first green tea blend in a long time I’ve been absolutely floored by.
This – to me – was more green tea than pu-erh in taste. Something about it echoed the “unfinished” aspect of its name, kinda like it needed pu-erh-like composting to bring out its full potential. Other than that, what it did impart was a wine-y foretaste, an earthy middle, and a green tea-ish vegetal finish. Not quite as good as Norbu’s Nan Nuo mao cha but still decent.
Saved the best for last. Of the three Pure Matcha products I sampled, this was the one I saved for the tail end. The wonderfully odd wares took point, but now it was time to sip the flagship. I even bought a chashaku (bamboo spoon) for the occasion. The powder alone looked wonderful – bright, vibrant green. It was even loudly sweet-smelling. Prepping it was easy. It frothed up wonderfully when whisked. To the taste…wow…without exaggeration, this was the best matcha I’ve ever had. Sweet, kelpy, slightly-vegetal excellence. It was like hot, liquid green tea ice-cream.
Full review: Pending on www.itsallabouttheleaf.com
I’ve only ever had lapacho – or Pau D’Arco – once. And felt it tasted pleasant but mediocre – like a lot of herbals. This was an interesting take on the beverage. Lapacho is the base for many requisite chai spices. And vanilla. LOTS of vanilla. Or at least lots of vanilla flavoring. Right outta the gate, vanilla dominates. I love vanilla, but sometimes too much is too much. That didn’t translate to taste, though. On the flavor front, it resembled a cross between hot apple cider and…TheraFlu. I found the oddity delightful.
On first impression, one would think they were looking at hot cocoa mix. It has the look and smell of it, after all. Sweet yet robust. Only after pouring hot water and whisking the heck out of it, does one find its black tea-ish-ness clear. Of the blended Assam and Darjeeling profiles, the former dominates. This is more malty than muscatel, but it also possesses a nutty middle and a sweet finish. Astringency is thankfully mild but still there. Only gripe I have is that this clumps quite easily, a pre-sift with a strainer is required. Other than that, a very good new take on an old school form.
I’ve been on the hunt for a matcha substitute (informally) – that didn’t possess the caffeine kick – for some time. I ran across this product from TeaEqualsBliss ‘s review, and I was immediately captivated. I echo her thoughts that this is a quality rooibos, you can tell from smell alone. Very sweet. Smelled like the long-cut variety. I prepped it like I would any matcha – chasen, miso soup bowl, whisked the heck out of it. It frothed up a little, but not much. Taste-wise, it was a damn good tasting rooibos but with a thicker consistency. Quite a successful for an unusual delivery. If I had one gripe – and it’s a small one, it’s that I want to see a GREEN rooibos matcha. Beyond that, good show.
Full Review: http://www.lazyliteratus.com/1173
I forgot I even had this in my cupboard – both the real one and the Steepster one. Found it while hunting for a white tea to imbibe. White Peony isn’t always what I go for. I usually skip her over for her Silver Needle sibling. Jing’s, though, was something special. And sipping it again, I was reminded of how much I loved it. Notes of citrus and raisin, as well as a general floral and fruity presentation. Glad I found this again. Like a revisit with an old friend.
I loooooove me some Nan Nuo Shan pu-erhs. This marked the first time I was able to sample a maocha (i.e. “proto”-pu-erh). The leaves looked like Hawaii-grown green tea, but with an aroma akin to beef jerky. Taste-wise, however, they had the wine-y note of a pu-erh twice its age. Impressed? A smidge…
This is my second superb white tea in two days. I’m starting to feel blessed or something. This is unique in that the varietal used is often only used to create raw pu-erh. The leaves can only be harvested in early spring. The buds smell like wilderness – milky, minty, wild. That experience also translates to the taste yeilding a cup similar to Greek Mountain “tea” but far more nuanced. White tea is back on its pedestal next to Yunnan Golds…in my mind.
I dug the heck out of this Japanese black tea (or “kocha”). It reminded me more of a Taiwanese black with a kukicha consistency and a mild fruit note. What I greatly appreciated was the lack of black tea astringency and/or a bitter foretaste. It was all honey and metaphorically reminded me of sweet tree sap in texture. Quite good.
This was almost a rating for a perfect white tea. So close. The flavor possessed notes of honey, chrysanthemum, lotus, pale grapes and wilderness. It was wonderful. But the presence of an unwanted “ingredient” in the sample knocked it down a notch…and made it not-so-virginal, per the tea’s description. That said, I can see why it is a rare treasure. It tops most of the Silver Needles I’ve tried.
I love Silver Needle whites, but they can be a temperamental b**ch of a tea, lemme tell ya. One minute off on your steep, and you’re looking at spinach broth. That was certainly the case here on my first attempt. On a second try with a fresh batch of leaves, I lowered the brew time by thirty seconds. The results were an only-slightly vegetal cup with melon and nut notes. It also had a creamy aftertaste that was mostly unexpected. Decent by Yinzhen standards, which – for me – are quite high.