698 Tasting Notes

45

Trying this one again while listening to Canada Reads 2014 on CBC1. The only one I have read so far is Cockroach, but maybe they’ll sell me on the other four – I hope so! I meant to read Annabel but forgot about it. Whoops! I’ve also got an interview tomorrow with the local library in the area I just moved to, so I am hoping I can get back into the book world after four years in an office. It’s only part time but it would be a start!

This is a tea that I really didn’t like on first encounter but saw a couple positive notes about it lately and wanted to try again under different circumstances. I only steeped it three minutes because last time, it turned my tummy and I blame the stevia and white chocolate oil for that. The theory is that less time will reduce those issues for me. So far, so good.

It’s very unpalatable to me in look, complete with cloudy yellow liquor and disgusting green oil scum on the top and clinging to the sides of my mug, but the taste is less aggressive. The mint continues to come out too sharp and gives me a toothpaste sense (one of the few mint teas to ever do that for me) but I will be able to finish it. There is some creaminess, but I don’t get the peppercorns. In general I love mint and enjoy white chocolate but as I said last time, chocolate in tea can be iffy for me. Less time seems to help with that.

I’m not going to raise the rating very much, because though it didn’t turn my stomache again, it still didn’t wow me. I find the oil slick and stevia particularly unpleasant in this (and other blends) so once this is gone I will be glad to cross it off the list.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
keychange

Good luck at the interview!

Sil

woot! good luck with the interview!

OMGsrsly

Sounds awesome. Good luck!

__Morgana__

Good luck!

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75

Wow. This is the first time I have had to use Steepster to look up the ingredients in a tea since the big change about a month ago and I was really disappointed. While most of the issues others have mentioned haven’t bothered me yet, I had an unreasonably hard time finding the vendor’s information about this blend amidst all the Steepster promotional info, snippets and tasting information contributed by users. Arguably I could have gone straight to their site but since I use Steepster as my tea journal, I didn’t think it would be unreasonable to look here for ingredients and brewing guidelines from the company.

Part of the beauty of the Steepster database is that the companies provide their info, and the users expand upon it in their reviews. Especially for older teas that are discontinued, re-blended or otherwise unavailable on a company website, it is great to have the info here in the archives. I appreciate that the Steepster overlords need to find a way to profit from the site, but it seems to be at the hands of the tea companies and reviewers right now which is frustrating. It would be funny if this paragraph were chosen as a snippet for this tea though…

Anyway, personal complaints aside I am excited to try this one. I had accidentally stored it with my herbals when sorting tea in our new house and had to confirm that it is in fact a black blend. I have been drinking nothing but black tea for the last month and was proud of my selection of an herbal – until I proved myself wrong. Ah well. It smells amazing, mostly of ginger and orange to me without being too pungent. It is rich with full leaf, herbs and light ‘dust’ from the black tea. I took a deep scoop out of the bag and ended up with a lot of herbs and little tea. It seems to be a 2:1 ratio of additions to tea in my ounce of this so I am plunging ahead. Hopefully I got a good balance of all the parts, that can be tricky with Verdant blends.

Steeped at 95 degrees for four minutes (kinda forgot a bit) this smells lightly of ginger with a bakey aspect, reminding me of Christmas gingerbread. First sips echo that taste strongly. Ginger, but sweetened by the vanilla and citrus so it doesn’t burn like fresh ginger. Hot, I am loving the blending of the ingredients. My favourite spice teas echo gingerbread and this is the closest I have had one come in a long time. It reminds of 52Teas Gingerbread Chai which I loved.

The black base is very light here, and completely without bitterness. I can’t say I notice the vanilla here but I do get citrus in the aftertaste. If this holds up well while it cools as well as it does hot then it will be a re-stock as soon as it’s available again. I rarely do this but I think this would be interesting with a bit of rock sugar. I might try that some day. As yummy as it is, there is something a little flat about it that I would like to fill out. Steeping it a bit less time, with a bit more citrus in the scoop would probably do a lot for that!

For now, this is a yummy blend that I will have to play with a bit. Glad to have an ounce to enjoy. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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83

This tea is doing double duty – first tea in the new house and first review with the new system! I am using my phone but so far so good. The site is still super clunky on my phone but the font is actually legible now! I can’t use the slider bars though and I am at constant risk of losing my note. Hmmm.

Anyway, I served this tea for the beau and our first guest in the house and everyone liked it. It is very affordable, rich in taste with a natural honeyed sweetness and some cocoa notes. It resteeps well and is never bitter. Lovely!!

looseTman

Uniquity, BIG Congrats on your new home!

The Purrfect Cup

Congrats on the new house!!

aisling of tea

SO excited for you and your new house!

Terri HarpLady

Yay for you, yay for your new home!

keychange

a new home! wonderful!

tigress_al

Congrats on your new home!

Uniquity

Thanks, all! It’s been a real trip getting settled in. I got the tea all unpacked and set up a tea/record area in the living room though, so I’m happy! :)

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86
drank Mint Julep by DAVIDsTEA
698 tasting notes

I am finally trying this which was apparently a replacement for my beloved but long discontinued Mojito (also from Davids). This came out last summer with identical ingredients but also the addition of my nemesis, coconut. For some reason, Mojito always appealed to me most in winter and now I find myself reaching for this one. I hope the coconut is not noticeable but at the same time I don’t want to love it because I can’t get it anymore.

Not that this will help those that didn’t try Mojito, but it smells the same. Sweet mint, some clear rooibos that is woody/sharp. In the past I preferred to add extra mint but I am trying this as is before I much about with the rest of my sample. It does have a smell that reminds me of coconut but Mojito always gave me that impression as well, actually.

First sips are lovely. Sweet, light mint, almost a taste of dried pineapple and not too much rooibos. Again, this is unhelpful but it tastes exactly like Mojito to me. That is bad because I only bought 16 grams, but I love it. Now I regret not trying it in the summer so I could stock up if it was good. I see that it is available online in 250 grams for $19.50. If I weren’t moving this month, I would jump on that. As it is though I need to conserve my finances and I certainly have enough tea. If this one comes back next summer I will definitely stock up though. It’s nice to have one of my all time favourites back, even if it is only for a short while. Mmmm!

Aimee Popovacki

Lol I have lots… id be ok with swapping some out…

Uniquity

I appreciate that but I am terrible for not drinking my tea fast enough. If I got more now it would get packed and then end up not getting drank for months again. I’m a disaster, I know. Thanks for the offer though!

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65
drank Gingerbread by DAVIDsTEA
698 tasting notes

We are trying this one again today, mixed 50/50 with Golden Monkey from Teavivre. The remains of my last batch of Golden Monkey are fairly mild and not overpowering with cocoa or sweetness. I figure the base is good on its own but also not too strong to overpower the gingerbread. We are hoping the brew will be a little less sweet and a little more gingerbread. Neither of us are huge rooibos fans so this will hopefully take the good parts of the taste and add some robustness from the black.

Reporting back: For me, it went okay. The beau loved it though! I found the sweetness diminished too much and it no longer tasted of molasses OR ginger. I added a bit of rock sugar which helped but the bottom was too sweet then and I hate adding sugar to my tea. I’m not sure this was an improvement, but it was definitely different. I will keep tweaking it. Maybe less Golden Monkey and more Gingerbread next time?

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79

On this stormy day, the beau and I are steeping up a gongfu session of this oolong, provided to us for free by Teavivre. I am a roasted oolong/black tea kind of girl so this is one that I expect to be a bit more familiar with than the others Angel sent. I followed Teavivre’s steeping directions with the 7 gram sample in my small gaiwan with 95 degree water. The dry smell is quite green, like sweet hay. The leaves are rolled pretty tightly, but there are a lot of broken crumbs as well.

I sifted it before putting it in the gaiwan to take out most of the crumbs and that removed about 1/3 of the volume. Since this is my first sample I don’t know if it just happened to get crushed or if that is typical with this tea, but it was a lot more broken leaf than I would expect in any tea, let alone one that costs $26/100grams. I’ll try to remember to update this once I’ve opened the other two samples and see if it was an anomaly.

Anyway, after a quick rinse to awaken the leaves I gave this a 15 second steep. This is a very pale steep, barely a hint of colour but the aroma is very strongly of a Big Red Robe. The beau is addicted to Red Robe, so he is pumped. The taste is a bit spicy and sweet on the end of the sip, lingering on the tongue. It’s very full bodied and much more intensely flavoured than the colour would have you think. I am very glad I sifted off the crumbs as there is absolutely no bitterness here. Roasty oolong, light sweet hay and notes of spices cookies like snickerdoodles.

Steep 2 at 15 seconds again, surprisingly the leaves haven’t fully opened yet. At the moment there seem to be a lot of sticks and about 3/4 length leaves (haha!) rather than fully intact. Again, this may be an anomaly, so I’ll try to compare the others after. This steep smells much the same but with a bit of smoke. The beau says this is more green tasting, with a hint of black, tending to taste more like a black at the bottom. I disagree and find this more like a roasted oolong with a hint of smoke like the aroma. Not as much sweetness and I don’t really get the spice from before. Again, I am reminded of Big Red Robe, probably because that is one I am very familiar with.

Third steep at 20 seconds remains a light yellow and smells more of smoke than anything else. Not offensive and not strong, but like someone might be having a bonfire in the distance with some sweet smelling wood. I think that what I keep identifying as sweet is probably a floral note which I really enjoy. We both agree this tastes more smoky. Certainly no lapsang souchong, but there is smoke there from the roasting.

Fourth at 30 seconds – Getting a bit more smoky again, but the sweet floral aroma is back as well. Makes me think of colts cigarettes my Dad smoked when I was a kid. I used to lick the white part cuz it tasted good to me. This reminds me of that but I swear it is a positive association. Ahh, memories. The taste on this is a little more roasty than I would prefer with the floral taking a backseat. It almost comes off as astringent, but doesn’t quite develop. On the other hand, the beau says it is the best so far. Clearly there are different reactions to this one, just like all the others. :)

I’m worried about Steepster eating this massive missive so I shall save for now and enjoy a few more steeps offline. Will report back if anything amazing happens.

Summary: I preferred the first steep while the beau loved the last. It’s a pretty solid mix of roasted oolong and floral green oolong so it can appeal to both types of drinkers. I would like to see a lot less crumb, but that may be a fluke. Pretty nice drinking tea with no bitterness.

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70
drank Zhen Qu by Butiki Teas
698 tasting notes

I’ve had this one three or four times since my initial review and have tried adding more leaf, more steep time and both extra leaf and time. No matter what I do I just can’t get the punch of flavour from it that others seem to. It is a perfectly acceptable black tea but nothing about it stands out. I have found many of the Butiki blends to be lighter in flavour than others I’ve had in the past but usually the base tea is quite impressive on it’s own. This one just doesn’t wow me though. I prefer the Taiwanese Assam with it’s chocolate kick. Man, I wish that wasn’t all gone already!

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33

This is one that the beau really wanted to try but I was hesitant about. Once I received it and smelled the dry leaf, I remained hesitant and the beau became a little more cautious. Last night we finally steeped it up and it turns out, neither of us likes it. I can’t adequately describe the taste other than medicinal. There is some ginger and lots of herbiness. It’s more savoury than I am used to and has too many ingredients, many of which I am unfamiliar with on their own so it becomes a jumble of tastes all at once.

If I can remember it when I am sick I will drink it then. Otherwise, it is not for us. The smell put me in mind of a foot lotion from Lush. Yes, kinda smells good. No, I don’t want to drink it. I think it will probably help when feeling poorly but other than that, blech. Sorry Verdant!

Bonnie

Really, the best way to think of this would be as a base. Use some with a tea (I like laoshan black with it but I’ve tried green tea also). Plain, I prefer using honey…like chai. Drinking it straight…Not so much.

Stephanie

I love this one straight :)

ifjuly

me too Stephanie!

Bonnie

I don’t mean that I don’t like it straight, but just not without honey.

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77

I’ve made this one a couple times now but held off on my review as I forgot and oversteeped it once which was hardly the fault of the tea. My first comment on this (picked up from Winners) is that the tin is AWESOME. It is a lovely oval with an inner and outer lid – the tin is definitely going ot be reused after it is drained of it’s glory.

The tea itself is quite nice. It is flavoured, but delicately and tastes very natural and authentic. It comes off as a lightly sweet black tea with some peach/apricot notes and the lightest hint of orange at the end. I actually would like a bit more orange in the mix, but I can understand why it isn’t stronger. I didn’t notice any rose but it did hold up well to a second steeping with similar (though muted) flavours.

It’s a nice tea that I can definitely enjoy drinking but not pine for when it is gone. I am glad to have tried one of the “fancy French teas” though. I was feeling left out. :)

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70
drank Zhen Qu by Butiki Teas
698 tasting notes

This is the second last of my Butiki teas and I hadn’t opened it until today as I am trying to be more aware of what teas are on the go and how long they’ve been sitting about. My first impression of this is that it looks like yarn. There are more golden leaves than black, and it is fuzzy and downy (again, like yarn!)

Steeped, it is sweet and light, lacking the boldness I expected from the initial aroma. Based on scent I expected it to be similar to the Taiwanese Assam but this is different altogether. I am not getting the expected cocoa initially, but as it cools I get some cocoa sense. It is not very powerful but it’s there.

For me, this one almost doesn’t have enough flavour. I’ll try again with more leaf or water and report back if anything changes dramatically. I’m sure I can do better than this as this cup is a bit lacklustre.

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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.

Location

Canada

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