699 Tasting Notes

81

This is another from my second batch of samples from Teavivre (many thanks!) I was feeling a little Western Gong Fu-ish today, so steeped some up while watching the beau play Uncharted 2 with my brother – I LOVE that we can play games with my family even though we live a couple hundred KMs apart. It is a lovely way to spend the weekend, especially now that we have a headset and can talk the whole time – the internet is a wonderful thing!

Anyway, I’m using my gaiwan and wee double walled teacups, so these are small steeps (maybe 2 oz liquid for each of us per steep?) I am not terribly familiar with oolongs, but I have tried a couple Tie Guan Yin in the past and generally know what I think of them. I tried the regular TGY from Teavivre in my first batch of samples and enjoyed it so thought the honey soaked one could only be better (I love honey! IF I sweeten a tea, it is my preferred sweetener.)

First steep – 80 degrees, 30 seconds. The liquor is not as clear as a typical oolong, though it is a warm yellow shade, almost like sunset with a hint of ochre. The brew smells quite vegetal (a bit more than I might prefer) but there is a hint of sweetness in the aroma which I prefer. The leaves have barely unfurled at all! The taste is very different from the smell – I get sweetness from the honey and typical oolong taste underneath. VERY pleasant, if a bit mild.

Second steep – 85 degrees, 35 seconds. The leaves have opened a bit more, but not nearly at full leaf yet. This steep is not as powerfully sweet from the honey (I assume most of it will dissolve in the first couple steeps) but neither is it a very powerful TGY. Another nice steep, but a bit muted. The beau says this steep tastes more of oolong.

Third Steep – 85 degrees, 45 seconds. Leaves are almost entirely opened now and I imagine most of the honey to have dissolved. This is a bit more vegetal than the first two and the sweetness is more in the aftertaste, like a taste memory. This steep really shows the quality of the TGY underneath the honey and I like it! The beau says this is definitely the best steep and I would tend to agree with him.

Fourth Steep – 85 degrees, 1 minute. This will be my last, as it is getting warm in our apartment as the sun comes out and I hate feeling too hot! The aroma has lost all sweetness and has a bitter/vegetal smell, but the taste is not as powerful as the aroma would have me believe. There is still a bit of honey sweetness underneath the sip and lingering in the aftertaste.

While this could easily go a couple more rounds, I need a timeout for some cold water. This was a lovely experience, I think I might even prefer this to the ‘regular’ TGY. If nothing else, it is a nice change from the usual. The third steep in particular was really nice and balanced the honey and oolong the best. Thanks again Teavivre for a lovely treat!

Bonnie

It looks like you had a better time with this tea than most people. Not the rating but the honey part. Maybe Teavivre is making adjustments. Mine came gooped up with honey and it was pretty hard and strong. Not to my liking. This is a good comment on why having samples and feedback can help a company improve product!

TeaVivre

For this tea, usually I will use 100ºC to brew it. If I use Gaiwan style, I’d like to rinse the tea first for about 5s, then 15s for the second time, and add an additional 5 to 10s to the following steeping times. I guess this is something related in brewing temperature.

Uniquity

I find I am pretty sensitive to bitterness/astringency so I tend to steep teas a little differently than other people. Perhaps the temp/time combo allowed the honey to pair the tea without one dominating the other. I’m just really glad I got to try it, it was a really good tea time! : )

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80

Received my second batch of Teavivre samples today (Many thanks!!) and decided to steep this one up while at switchboard. Because I am at work and only have my perfect tea mug I will be doing this western style – something I typically shy away from with oolongs. I kept the water temperature pretty low though, so hopefully I won’t get any bitterness from the steep time (approximately three minutes). After three minutes, the leaves haven’t really opened up much, so I’m guessing there are several steeps left in this one. I used one of the little foil sample packets, it looks to have a few teaspoons of leaves, but this is a 12 oz cup so I assume all will work out!

The dry leaf smelled quite nice, after inhaling deeply I got a faint aroma that was lightly sweet and very natural. Beyond that, however, it just smelled like tea. I’m terrible with aromatics. I always think I smell a hint of cocoa, but I rarely get much beyond that. I also don’t know what I’m looking for, so this is as detailed as it gets for now! : ) The liquor is really rich in colour, almost orange. It’s coloured more like a pale ale than tea – now I want a drink too!

First sips are surprising. The flavour is bold but mild at the same time. Not necessarily assertive, but complex. At the very end of the sip (and in the aftertaste) I get a hint of natural sweetness, almost reminds me of apricots or apples. I’m loving the aftertaste. This is much richer than I typically think of oolongs being, and I’m quite enjoying it. It tastes more like a black tea, so I am assuming this is a roasted oolog? It certainly doesn’t seem very “green.” That aftertaste really is something special. I have been thinking that darker oolongs are more my thing, and further tasting has really solidifed that belief.

Underneath the main sip I get a sense of fuzzy oolong taste, which may not make a lot of sense but is as accurate as I can get. It’s not bitter at all, but it’s almost like the idea that is could be if I weren’t careful. It’s like a warning from the tea…I wonder what this will be like with the gaiwan. As it cools/I continue sipping, the flavour seems to build up on the tongue and becomes a bit overbearing. I think I might prefer this in smaller quantities, as I’m not a true oolong lover quite yet. This is a nice offering to tempt in an oolong newbie such as myself – I can only hope I haven’t totally missed ALL the nuances. : ) Thanks again, Teavivre!

TeaVivre

Yes, it belongs to a roasted oolog!

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76

Picked up some of this and Perfect Pear today as a Sunday treat – Happy long weekend to any fellow Nova Scotians!! The smell of this was quite appetizing, though not quite shortcake. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never had brittle (other than peanut brittle) and I don’t understand what its place would be in strawberry shortcake.

We steeped this about three minutes, to avoid potential bitterness and also to avoid too much sweetness. This smells like a sweet assault in the dry leaf, even though the sales girl said this is one that isn’t too sweet – I find my opinion on that note tends to differ. Anyway, it smelled lovely when steeped, though still not what I think of as shortcake.

The flavour was quite tasty. There was a great dael of sweetness (more than I would prefer) but I assume that all comes from the brittle. The beau and I both agreed that this might be a bit better with extra TEA under it all, so I think that the next time I will try it with a bit of extra black tea from one of my many samples and see if that lessens the sugar load. There was strawberry flavour, which was great, and if the sugary taste could be diminished, this could be a re-buy. I will need to work with it first, but I hope this can be redeemed a bit more.

This is one of those very rare teas that I would love to try iced – I think the sweetness of the brittle would lend itself to iced tea. Might try it cold brewed if there is enough left after a bit of re-working.

By the way, strawberry shortcake at my house tends to be a homemade biscuit topped with fresh mashed strawberries (a hint of sugar in them if they are too tart) and freshly whipped cream. I want some!!

DaisyChubb

Whoo – Happy Long Weekend indeed!

I’ll have some of that homemade shortcake too if there’s any left? ;)

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76

Of course I still have some of this left – I never finish anything, it seems. I made a cup of this to take with me to switchboard today in my never-ending quest to finish some GD tea! The smell of the dry rooibos is sweet and vague, kind of bubble-gummy (as flavoured things keep seeming to me lately). The rooibos pieces are really large, the biggest I’ve ever seen so there is nothing to escape through my infuser – huzzah!

Steeped, this becomes an orangey amber and has a very sweet faux fruit aroma. I have no recollection of this being stellar but it is hard to imagine it being BAD. Just so-so, I think. The flavour is very similar to the aroma, an imprecise and artificial fruit flavouring. Nothing cranberry and nothing tart. This is the sort of blend that I would to have hibiscus in, I wonder if it might be improved by a hint of hibiscus. I don’t think so though!

ps – It does actually have a hint of craisin flavour to it. Man, I like craisins but only in my trail mix. I wish I had some now, I totally need to make up another batch of trail mix for work!

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70

This is yet another tea that we purchased, sampled once or twice and promptly lost in the back of the cupboard. I decided to try this again today at switchboard because the aroma was SO appealing! I am not a fan of green tea at all and am not much for earl grey’s, as I mentioned in my previous note. However, the aroma of this is so crisp and reminiscent of fresh orange zest (almost like when you peel citrus and the spray comes out everywhere, you know what I mean?) that I couldn’t resist. I like citrus teas and am always hoping for a great one – unfortunately they tend to be paired with greens, so I have yet to find the perfect one.

I steeped this in my Perfect Tea Mug for about 2 – 2.5 minutes, which is about as exact as things get while making tea at switchboard. Thank God I am only here an hour a day, because it would drive me batty for any longer stretch of time! The steeped aroma is muted and a bit flowery/dusty. It reminds me a bit of dryer sheets – this does not appeal. More likely than not, it is the bergamot I am picking up on. I am also getting a sense of froot loops, as I usually do with EGs.

The first sips are a bit of an adventure. A bit too much dusty floral-esque bergamot, but underneath that I get a bit of sweet green tea and a hint of something cinnamony – but here’s the shocker: I’m liking the green tea underneath! Maybe I over-steep my flavoured greens? Something to consider, though I’m still not even close to ready for green tea. This does have me craving a good green oolong though. At the moment, this is hitting the spot, but it doesn’t seem to have lasting appeal. I think I want a bit more citrus in here. Maybe some grapefruit? Oh, how I love grapefruit.. One of the issues with flavoured green tea for me is that the green tea needs less steep time, but the flavours seem to need more (or higher temps). Bah!

I think it’s time I tried the new citrus teas I got at DTs a month or two (or three?) ago.

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72
drank Queen Catherine by Harney & Sons
699 tasting notes

This definitely isn’t the first time I’ve brewed up a cup of Queen Catherine, but it may very well be the first time I did so without screwing it up quite badly. This is part of a swap with Simply Jen W from probably a year ago now. Clearly, punctual tea drinking is not something I put on my resume – though I do appreciate all swaps and samples, very much so!

This time I used a teaspoon of leaves, steeped around 3 minutes and have a much more pleasant seeming cuppa. (Last time it got busy at switchboard while it was steeping and I had a 15 minute steeped disaster). This is an odd duck. It doesn’t quite smell like black tea, there is another edge to it. It smells as if it should be bitter, but the first sips yield a slightly sweet liquor. Again, it’s not quite plain black tea, there is something different here. There is no bitterness (a bonus in my book!) but there’s not really a lot of character either. As it is, I would have no porblem drinking this but I can’t imagine craving it either.

Thanks for the chance to sample, Simply Jen W!

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51

I know I just logged this a week ago but I wanted to share with the tea drinking world in case any packrats have some of this bad boy left. Steep it in a T-Sac. I realized today that there is just too much broken “leaf” in this one to do well in my infuser and prepared it in a T-Sac instead. If only I had thought of this a year ago..

I will be honest though and warn you that using the T Sac really mutes the lemon flavour. I’m okay with that though, as the bitterness from the black tea and the lemon rind aspect were just too much for me. This way I get a lightly sweet lightly lemon flavoured black tea. Kind of blah but much better than bitter! I’m adjusting the rating back up a bit because it is redeemable but a lot of work.

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66
drank Cranberry Pear by DAVIDsTEA
699 tasting notes

I don’t know how I’ve managed to never log this one – especially since we bought it months ago and I am positive that I’ve tried it before now. I recall it being too sweet and bubble-gum as opposed to cranberry or pear – in the way that many DT teas tend to be to me for the last year or so.

On to the tea! Steeped a pot up with the beau and father-in-law, the aroma is very much of bubble gum. I’m starting to worry that my memories are correct. First sips are sweet, but not exactly bubblegum. Maybe artificial pear. Very artificial. LIke a lightly flavoured hard candy or something. There is no cranberry and no tart (I would expect tart in this one!). It’s tolerable but not fabulous. No black tea taste, but I can feel it on my tongue if that makes sense. It’s a supporting role. Unfortunately, this is another middle of the road sweet fruity tea. I’m not so fond of those anymore. : (

Edit: I can’t believe I’m so out of tune with everyone else on this one – what is going on with me?!

Kittenna

How long did you steep it? I definitely find that the cranberry doesn’t come out unless I leave it for quite a while. Or maybe your tastebuds just don’t care for this one :)

Uniquity

This was in about 4 or maybe 5 minutes which is honestly a long time for us. I’m pretty sensitive to bitterness in my black teas, so I usually only steep for about 3 minutes for maximum flavour and minimum bitterness. : ) If I give it another go I will try a longer steep though, thanks!

Scott B

You are not the only one out of tune with everyone else here-I hated the artificial flavoring so much. In fact, I just gave away about 44 grams out of a 50 gram bag.

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78
drank Wild Black Yunnan by DAVIDsTEA
699 tasting notes

Just a quick note to say that this is a tea that can take a licking and keep on ticking. (:D). We had a pot steeping when I was called into deal with a leaking shower emergency by the beau – the tea was totally forgotten and left to steep for 10 minutes or so before I had managed a redneck repair so he could have his shower. Gotta say, sick of living in apartments and even more sick of dealing with repairs myself because my landlord is annoying. We haven’t had an oven door handle on our stove for the entire two years we have lived here! Anyway, the tea is still good. Very thick and rich, almost brothy. Strong cocoa, it’s quite over-powering, honestly. Very decadent. No bitterness to speak of, which is amazing. Way to go Davids!

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51

I’ve been trying to make this tasting note since yesterday (and this tea for a year!) – the Steepster Gods have not been kind to me. Anyway, I have some of this still from a year ago, though I wish I didn’t. I sent the beau off with the tin to drink at work and I am trying to use what’s left in the bag at mine. This was purchased before I realized that you could buy less than 100 grams of something, so I’ve got an awful lot of it.

Remembering that this is a bitter tea, I steeped it for only a minute in less than boiling water and even threw in a bit of sugar (maybe 1/8 teaspoon) in advance because I am at switchboard and away from the kitchens. Under these conditions, it was tolerable but too sweet so I put the leaves back in for 30 seconds or so. Unfortunately, a tonne of loose “leaves” (aka powder) fell into the tea from my fine infuser while I was doing that, even though I shook out the infuser vigorously – I forgot to mention but this is one seriously broken up tea. I assume that is what contributes to it’s bitterness.

Anyway, after the extra steeping it was bitter. Too bitter to drink. I threw out yet another mug of this blasted tea which I have never managed to make well. Even low temps, less leaf, adding sugar, shaking the powder out and short steeping times aren’t enough to redeem this bad boy. Rating seriously decreased because I know better now!

katgolik

Yeah…..the bitterness ruins the possibilities this had…nothing seems to help.

Cattibrie

My husband loves this one. I make it iced for him and he adds some simple syrup and lemonade and says it tastes just like Nestea Iced Tea. Not sure I agree but if it gets him to drink something other than his usual crap I am happy.

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Bio

Well, this needed refreshing. I have been drinking loose leaf for many years, and have fairly well nailed down my tastes. I love Chinese blacks and some other unflavoured teas. I occasionally drink flavoured teas, or herbals, but the bulk of my tea is unflavoured with no additives. I stock regularly from Teavivre with the occasional Verdant purchase and the odd re-stock at Davids. I love mint, am learning about the wide world of puerh, and prefer ripe to raw, so far. I don’t like green or green oolongs very much, white is okay and roasted oolongs are pretty good. Coconut and chamomile are awful, and I wish they weren’t in so many blends!

At home, I live with my husband and cat in a house built by my grandfather, which we love. We share many interests – books, tea, video games, board games, tv/movies. On top of that, I love crosswords and recently took up knitting again, so I’m having a hard time balancing all my passions at the moment. I’m a big fan of Doctor Who, as is my entire immediate family. I love spreading the Who love!

We also spend a lot of time with family, when we can. I’ve got a gaggle of younger brothers, and we like to spend time with them. The wonders of the internet allow us to spend time together even though some of them live a few hours away.

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: These are great teas, I love them, regularly stock them or savour them as unique treats.
71 – 80: These are solid. I drink them, I like them, I may or may not keep them on hand regularly. This is still good stuff.
61 – 70: Just okay. I can drink it, but it doesn’t stand out to me. Might be lower quality, not to my taste, or outside my comfort zone.
41 – 60: Not likely to keep drinking…hoping hubby will enjoy!
0 – 40: No thank you, please. Take it away and don’t make me finish the cup.

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