688 Tasting Notes

85

You know what Steepster? This tea is going on four years old and I still have 50 grams left. You know what else? It’s still really good. I get grapes, I get raisin, I get a bit of natural sweetness and a hint of white tea. I don’t get bitterness or astringency. I don’t get bubblegum. I don’t get anything overly artificial. This was a really well balanced white tea blend that Davids put out for Christmas nearly four years ago and I really liked it. I still like it. I wish they would return to these less flavoured blends that hold up to a bit of abuse. I am so happy with this right now. Trying out whites and green oolongs lately has inspired me to broaden my tea horizons, on occasion at least. Usually the beau takes care of everything that isn’t a black tea in our house but I’ve been on a sampling role lately and I will be keeping this one at work with me for the times I want a flavoured or light tea.

By the way, the grapiness of this is like purple grapes I find. No tart, not aggressive, not fake or candy-like. Really nice. A white base was the way to go. Way better than the newer grape tea they did a while ago.

Flavors: Grapes, Raisins, Sweet

Ysaurella

a tea never really dies…

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79

I’ve opted to do a follow-up note on this tea as I am steeping it Western style and am curious how it will hold up. I am also happy to report that this samples doesn’t have any of the crushed leaves or powder that I encountered in my earlier sample. I feel badly for suggesting that it is a broken leaf tea when I apparently experienced an anomaly.

As per Teavivres Western instructions, I am steeping the whole pouch in my Perfect Tea mug for one minute in boiling water. I’ve got to admit that despite my innate specticism about some of these steeping parameters, Teavivre is REALLY good about making them accurate to the specific tea. I tend to brew per my own general guidelines but following the exact directions for each tea yields a different (and sometimes better) result for the Teavivre teas. The dedication to optimal brewing per tea and per batch is remarkable, and much appreciated – even from a brewing sinner.

After this minute in the boiling bath, I have a boldly aromatic tea with hints of cinnamon, spice, hay. I can smell it from across my desk, it has a note that suggests a potential bitterness, but is generally appealing. It also maybe smells a bit roasty, and perhaps a bit floral.

First sips reflect the flavour quite well. Some sweet baking spice flavour, some roastiness, no bitterness or astringency. It reminds me of the Taiwan Oriental Beauty I sampled the other day. Very nice!

EDIT: Second steep: As usual, I got distracted with work and this went 2 or possibly closer to 3 minutes with boiling water. This results in some astringency, a very dry tongue with the start of bitterness. I don’t like that, but I know it is my fault so I shan’t try a third. If I can get past the self-inflicted astringency, it tastes much like the first. Bakey and roasty with a bit of sweet and spice. Like snickerdoodles or cinnamon buns.

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75

I received some white tea samples for review from Teavivre the other day and on this nearly rainy Saturday I am sitting down with the beau to try this one out. Thanks Teavivre! We are brewing Western style according to the Teavivre directions with the full packet of leaves at 90 degrees for about a minute. We’ve got three samples of each tea, so we can try with a gaiwan at another time. For now, my liquor is a light yellow and smells faintly of hay and maybe something cucumber related, but I think that is because I accidentally saw the flavours list on Steepster before beginning my review.

Since it only steeped at 90, I am able to try it fairly quickly. This is the advantage of lower temp teas, I swear! First sips are mild. A light note of hay but not as sweet as the green oolong I had the other day. It is flavourful but light, if that makes sense. Not like weak tea or lightly favoured water but not a bold flavour either. My non-tea drinking brothers might not find any taste here at all, but the beau and I do. It is hard to describe, but hay and a bit of floral are present. I always worry that people will think hay means unpleasant, but it’s not. I love the smell of fresh hay. I am getting some residual sweetness that I think is a result of my earlier Jolly Rancher. Whoops.

The beau reports: “This is good. I like it. It has less of the earthy taste you get in other whites. More like jasmine but less in your face.” He says it has “a hint” of floral. I don’t notice, but I rarely do. We both like it, he more than I as whites are more his forte. For me, as a Chinese black tea drinker, this is a nice cuppa occasionally but not something I’m likely to enjoy regularly. He says it might be under-steeped and isn’t strong enough to get a high rating from him right now. I will do another steep in a bit and put a number on it after that one. I think he is right and a bit more time would have boosted the profile here. Will report back then!

EDIT: Second steep was forgotten in the pot which yielded a more flavourful brew but (surprisingly) no bitterness. It was enjoyable, but maybe a bit too much white tea in one day for me.

Flavors: Floral, Hay

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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72

This, my tea-drinking friends, is a leap of faith. I rarely drink green oolongs but here I am with some green oolong samples and an urge to try them. I looked up the Teavivre guidelines for Western steeping and they seem crazy but I’m giving it a go. The full packet in boiling water for one minute (in my Perfect Mug). The leaves are initially tightly rolled and look like small pebbles of tea. It doesn’t seem like much, but after steeping they are nearly 10 times the size. They went from a slight layer in the infuser of a few MM to a 4/5 full infuser. Wowza! There were some crumbs as well but they were large enough that they didn’t sift out so in they stay.

The resulting liquor is quite yellow and smells like boiled corn on the cob with butter melting down the side. I’ve been having corn on the BBQ lately and it’s not quite like that because it smells SWEET. This is not a typical aroma for ME in tea, but I do like it. It takes a bit of a mental reset to associate it with a beverage rather than food, but I’m okay with it. I’m getting to a point where I enjoy green oolongs on occasion, though I don’t tend to seek them out or stock them.

So, for taste I do get the sweet corn quite strongly, and also a bit of spice that again reminds me of cinnamon (like the Taiwanese oolong I had the other day). I do also get some astringency, some dryness on the tongue. It doesn’t manifest as bitterness and it isn’t too overpowering but it isn’t ideal. This is why I was leery of boiling water on an oolong, but hey – ya gotta try everything once! It’s not as bitter as I feared, so I think it is likely be being sensitive rather than burnt tea.

I will definitely do more steeps of this, I think the leaves have a lot more to give. I might prefer it with a gaiwan, and if I can remember I will try that with my other sample. As it stands, it is light, sweet, corn-y with a bit of dryness. It is pleasant, but not in my wheelhouse so it is hard for me to get more out of it. I enjoy it, but i wouldn’t seek it out. For those who prefer greener or lighter teas though, this is likely one to try.

As it cools I am getting new tastes in the aftersip, sort of fruity or berry-ish. The dryness/astringency becomes more pronounced as it cools, so I am off to finish this cup up for now.

Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Corn Husk, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 8 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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75
drank Glitter & Gold by DAVIDsTEA
688 tasting notes

This is a very popular tea from Davids that I have sampled in store but never purchased. My youngest brother recently got me some on a trip to Toronto with his mother and our brother though, so here I sit with a beautiful gift of tea. The clove smell is strong initially, and (for me) a bit off-putting but I have decided to think of it like a chai, which then makes it smell pretty good. I am interested by the idea of an (unnamed) Chinese black base as Chinese blacks are my favourite, and tend to be less bitter so this could be a nice spicy black for me. I used to love chai teas, but they tend to have strong bitter bases that I don’t enjoy, so this is something different.

As many others have noted, there are little candy balls in the tea which impart some sweetness and also an interesting look. It feels like a party! I steeped it for three minutes in 96 degree water (exactly!) in my perfect tea mug. The result is a rich amber cup of tea, that reminds me strongly of chai. The clove smell seems cinnamon-y to my nose, and the sweetness from the sugar crystals and the little balls contributes to the chai trick. I also get a smell like chocolate, maybe baking chocolate in something with a spicy kick. I don’t often encounter cinnamon and chocolate together, but this is what my brain believes.

First sips are pleasant. Still getting chocolate (what’s up with that?) and also some distinct sweetness and a cinnamon sort of taste at the end of the sip which must be cloves. The aftertaste is sweet and spicy. Where is the chocolate coming from!? I don’t get any bitterness (big thumbs up!) and the spice builds with each sip. After a few, I have a slight tingle at the back of the throat that I presume will remain throughout the cup. I gotta say, I like it. Hot, at least. We’ll see if it is as appealing at cooler temps.

The sugar in it doesn’t seem to have released too much sweet. I haven’t dug through the used leaves to see if the little balls stayed intact but I assume they didn’t dissolve completely. Maybe they would with agitation but I don’t tend to like my tea sweetened and wouldn’t want any more than this. I remember that there is some citrus peel in here, but I don’t notice it. i am sure it is doing something, it’s just doing it quietly. Fine by me!

EDIT: Man, did I misunderstand this tea! I have been drinking this slowly and the remains are room temperature (and surprisingly good!) BUT, I gave it a little shake AND THE TEA IS GLITTERY. That is what they mean. The little balls give off their tantalizing glitter INTO THE TEA. I feel like it A-Can’t be healthy and B-Is AWESOME. I am so happy about this. What a lovely surprise for a cynical (mostly) unflavoured tea drinker

Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Sugar, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML
Nicole

Isn’t it pretty? :)

Marzipan

Sparkle pony tea!

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80

Another go at this one! We obtained another sample or two somehow – I thinkin a prize we won at some point. Between free samples for review, samples with orders and prizes in competitions I have an awesome collection of Teavivre samples, yay! I don’t often turn to oolongs but I faced my sample collection at work and found it consisting entirely of whites and oolongs. Say what?!

I remembered having success with this one and believing it to be more roasted than some other options on hand. Roasty is good, in my world! Because I am at work, I had to grab the kettle somewhere before the boil. No idea the temp, but the tea is not burnt at all (half the sample = 4ish grams @ ?? temp in 12 ounces of water for approximately 3 minutes). The result is really nice, sweet like the aftertaste of cinnamon sugar. This would be amazing with a cinnamon bun. I also think it would be great with something substantial and savoury or even a great cheese bun. I work across from a great bakery so these thoughts are always on my mind.

I don’t find this tremendously floral BUT it may well be as I like floral teas but never recognize it as such until someone tells me. For me, this is a lighter tea as I am used to blacks, and I think it could appeal to fans of both lighter and darker teas. It isn’t bitter even under my weirdo steeping parameters but I think it could be if you don’t watch leaf amount and temp. These leaves have expanded way more than I am used to and take up nearly half my infuser pretty densely. They seem to be in thirds or halves, but not crushed into dust. EDIT: a couple steeps later they have swirled all around and I have found a good portion of intact leaves, in addition to the half leaves. No astringency, but some good flavour. Going on steep number two once I clear the masses of paper off my desk. Mmm!

Flavors: Cinnamon, Hay, Sugar, Sweet

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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I have a brick of this because it was a good price on Verdant’s site and I had impulse control issues at the time. Since buying it, I haven’t tried it. I was drooling over Mandala’s site earlier and thought to break into the one brick I do own. I don’t have the right tools so I picked a sharp slim paring knife with a good point and tried to gently squeeze it in various spots as I recalled from David Duckler’s video. In general it worked but I also broke leaves that I might not have if I had a better tool or more experience. Lots of fun though! Excavation with my tea.

Rinse of 15 seconds, 90 degree water.

Steep 1, 15 seconds @ 90 degrees, Light yellow, smells floral and sweet like hay. Reminiscent of greens and green oolongs. Taste is very mild, a little bitter. Not much, not enough to feel drying. Nothing really stands out or lasts.

Steep 2, 20 seconds @ 90 degrees. Deeper yellow, more like watery apple juice. Smell is similar, but a little less fresh hay and more like older hay that got damp. Flavour is stronger but I still have a hard time naming it. Definitely astringent, my mouth feels dry. Not a fan of that.

Steep 3, 25 seconds @ 90 degrees. Similar colour, aroma has faded. No more hay, no more sweet. Smells a bit like a barn. I know, I always use the same words with pu-erh. I need a class or something. Taste is not as astringent or drying. No sweetness, no floral, not much at all. I like this better though I do notice more bitterness lingering.

Might be a good time to mention I am fairly inexperienced in puerh and that sheng is not my favourite of the options. I prefer black teas and others that are similarly flavoured. So, shu.

Steep 4, 30 seconds @ 90 degrees. Hardly any aroma at all, but what is there is back to sweet hay. Say what? Flavourwise, it’s still not sweet but also less astringent again. Perhaps it’s mellowing out? I see people saying that young sheng mellows after the first few steeps. Am I experiencing that?! More pleasant, for sure. Beau says it’s the best.

Steep 5, 35 seconds @ 90 degrees. More sweet hay in aroma, which was finally represented in the taste. I get sweetness. Yiss. Nicer again.

Steep 6, 40 second @ 90 degrees. Not much aroma, unless I really get into it. Maybe a little spicy. Obviously, mild. Taste took a turn toward earlier flavours with a hint of astringency and a dearth of sweetness. Oh, you. Stop that!

Steep 7, 45 seconds @ 90 degrees. Completely unobjectionable but not interesting for me either. I’m calling it quits. I’m sure I’ll learn to like this, I’m just used to the boldness of black tea. This is not that.

I can only imagine what this would be like at boiling. I will try shorter times at boiling some day and see if I prefer it. I certainly have enough to experiment with. For now, this doesn’t impress me at all but I won’t rate since I don’t know how it holds up for what it is, only that I prefer blacks and shu.

PS – I just read all the other tasting notes. i don’t get any citrus or cabbage or apples or anything fun like that. Oy vey.

Sarsonator

I need a class, too. I’m warming up to pu’erhs, but I still have a way to go!

tantonino

‘ve never had a pu’erh, but I will try one and see how it goes. Can you link the video that you mentioned?

Uniquity

I’m pretty certain this is the one, though it’s been a while: http://verdanttea.com/tv/how-to-break-apart-puer/

Verdant/David Duckler have come great videos to walk you through the process of gongfu steeping with some good explanations of why things are done a certain way – for the ceremony, and the practical reasons as well.

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86

O-Kay! This took me by surprise. I remembered trying it before and not finding it much better than the standard Yun Nan Dian Hong that Teavivre offers (which I love). I won the Teavivre sampler in their recent contest so I have two more samples of this to try again. I used about half of the pouch as this is a very full leaf tea and 7 g seemed a bit much at one time. Plus I am stingy. This is still priced at 3 times the standard Yun Nan so in my world this is a premium tea (at $15.90 CAD for 50 grams).

The dry leaf was a slap in the face of molasses. Oh my, does it smell good. Like I’m about to make brown bread and I’ve got my molasses, shortening and water mixed up and cooling with the aroma filling the house with sweet hot molasses! First sips do retain some of the molasses flavour but it has morphed more into finished brown bread with some ‘bakiness’ and a bit less sweet. Very tasty and smooooth. No bitterness anywhere ever. I think I could steep a pound of this for an hour and all it would be is strong.

I will definitely give this another steep or maybe two and will enjoy the rest of the samples. I am grateful for the opportunity to try it again (in a punctual manner, haha). It is too expensive for me to stock regularly but this is a nice change from my usual Yunnan rota. Mmm!

(Rating increased because apparently I was insane last time. I am not factoring in the price though, if I were I would have to put it down a bit. Cuz I’m still stingy.)

Flavors: Baked Bread, Molasses, Sweet

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76
drank Watermelon Mint by DAVIDsTEA
688 tasting notes

My hubby picked up some watermelon mint for me to try because even though I know that most new DT blends taste like bubblegum to me, I wanted to try it. I’m a sucker! I also like mint a lot and have had reasonable success with fruit based herbals, so it seemed worth a go.

The dry leaf smells very artificially sweet and bubblegumy, I don’t get the mint at all. I scooped from the bottom of the sample to get some mint in there but it must be a small amount compared to all the fruit. Steeped, I have a light pink/peach brew that smells slightly like watermelon with a hint of something that may be mint but I can’t be sure. It doesn’t smell as sweet or as artificial as it did dry, which is nice.

First sips actually do taste of watermelon, but only a bit and not tremendously artificial. Still no mint, but I get some coolness afterward. I never tried the previous watermelon tea that people loved so much so I can’t say how it compares but this is quite nice. Gentle watermelon, gentler mint. No bubblegum, and not too in your face. Of course, I likely used less tea than DT recommends, but I know my tastes and almost always ignore the company recommendations. Works for me! :)

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Cattibrie

I have had this a couple of times as the tea of the day and it is too minty for me. I guess to each their own.

Uniquity

I am a mint lover, so that could be a factor. You also never know how good of a mix you get, so mine might be light on mint. I accidentally steeped it 10 – 15 minutes today and found it much more minty. I thought about making another note, but was lazy.

TOTD teas are often really strong as well, I find. Often stronger than I make things. :)

Cattibrie

I did not mention though that my son loves it. He has had it as his iced tea twice when we stopped at the store.
I often find that the tea of the day is not a good indicator of the tea. Some I have not liked as tea of the day I have enjoyed when I have prepared it. I do however find that if I like the TOTD my opinion does not change when I am making it at home.

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85
drank Forever Nuts by DAVIDsTEA
688 tasting notes

This is one that I had originally tried years ago when I first got into tea but haven’t really had since. My in-laws LOVE this one and I gave them all we had left, and replenished them a couple times a year. My mother-in-law says it tastes like Strawberry Quick when she adds milk and sugar. After listening to them rave I decided to buy myself another 50 grams last time I was in the city, and I don’t regret it. I was worried it would be too sweet for me now, or otherwise unappealing but I’m thoroughly enjoying this cup.

I steeped it hot and long to maximize flavour from a teaspoon of “leaves.” The result has a bit of tart – beetroot? There is also a distinct nuttiness that is hard to compare. It has a decently thick mouthfeel that makes me think of some sort of blended smoothie with nuts though I don’t know how practical that is. The aftertaste is sweet and also nutty, as if I’ve had a nut flavoured ice cream. I’m on a trail mix kick again lately (we mix our own depending on our moods) and this tea is an excellent complement to that. I also found the BEST honey roasted peanuts at Bulk Barn for cheap. This kind of reminds me of them a little bit, actually. Sweet and nutty with a bit of tart. Yum!

Flavors: Almond, Nuts, Sweet, Toffee

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Bio

I am a lover of many things, but my passions include my records, tea and books (not necessarily in that order!) I embrace local food and good cooking as much as I can, and place great value on time with family and enjoying the bounty of nature. As of January 2014 my husband and I finally moved to the country to be closer to family and continue our journey in a family home. We have been wanting to do this for a couple years, so we are very excited to follow our hearts. We also have a wonderful kitty named Emma that is the princess of the house.

I am drawn toward good Chinese blacks, enjoy some herbals and the odd roasted oolong. Greens and whites can make me nauseous, but I will have flavoured ones on occasion. While I don’t yet adore puerh, I am giving it my best effort. Chamomile and coconut are the devil though, I wish they didn’t exist. Mint has been a particular favourite of mine since childhood, and I enjoy both flavoured and pure teas though unflavoured blacks are tops for me.

As for ratings, I try to only log teas once or twice because I drink a lot of the same ones repeatedly. My rating is based on my perception of the tea at first tasting and is adjusted if anything notable occurs in subsequent cups. I may also factor in the price and customer service but try to note that when I can.

81 – 100: WOW. This is the cream of the crop.
71 – 80: This is a solid tea. I enjoy it, and would recommend it to others, but may not repurchase.
61 – 70: Just okay. I can drink it, but it doesn’t stand out to me. May try again to improve.
41 – 60: Bleh. Might finish it, but it’s not to my taste OR just doesn’t impress me at all.
0 – 40: No thank you, please. Take it away and don’t make me finish the cup.

Location

Canada

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