699 Tasting Notes
I am (apparently) easily confused and had been thinking that I had the non organic version of this tea. According to the label though, we’re drinking organic today! In my dietary habits I am more concerned with local than organic (I know too much about how the term is bandied about in North America to really believe in its efficacy) but it is nice to believe that organic teas are truer to the meaning of the movement.
In the pouch, this one has a very sharp smell that catches in the nose and sticks with you. I have had few ceylons before but found them generally sharp though smooth and easy drinking with little bitterness and no astringency. None of my beloved cocoa but frequently with honey. These qualities are what I assume make up a ceylon, so we will see how this goes.
Steeped, this yields a warm orange cup with a strong sweet note that makes me think of brown sugar. Very nice aroma, again not like my usual Chinese blacks but very attractive on its own merits. The taste is a bit less than the aroma but I do get a (muted) sense of the leaves. This is much like a standard bagged orange pekoe but done right. No bitterness or astringency, no dust or grains that make my face screw up. Just a solid tea. I don’t know that it would stand up well to additions, I think it would be easily over-powered but since I don’t mess with my tea, that’s okay. It might be interesting to see what it is like with a bit of brown sugar to try to bring out that aroma from before, but I won’t mess with that.
In the end this is a very nice tea but a bit too mild to capture my attention for every day. It might be a good tea to bring bagged tea drinkers into the light, but since I rarely make tea for non tea drinkers, I don’t really need to have it on hand once I have finished it. Cheers!
This is one I ended up with because a friend ordered it and didn’t like it. It cemented her belief that she doesn’t like chocolate in tea. I am not a huge fan of chocolate tea either but I have found some that break that rule so I am always trying them out. This one doesn’t really have the raspberry or chocolate POW I expect but instead has a light syrupy sweetness at the end of the sip that tickles the throat after the tea is all done. It is not offensive but neither is it powerful.
I have spoken with Stacy at Butiki to find out their preferred leaf to water to time to temp ratio and find that it is way out of whack with the way I do my tea. They use far less leaf than I do, and even I am on the conservative side. That is okay, but it means I get less than half the cups out of an ounce of tea as the guidelines suggest. Accordingly, I am always careful in my proportions to try to get a cup of tea that works for me – I learned to toss the company’s instructions a while ago.
To my usual specifications this is still a bit light but not bad at all. I’ll stick to my Ruby Pie but this is another I can drink down easily enough.
This is one I picked up a month or two ago but somehow never logged. Then last night my computer shut down and I lost my note in progress. Clearly it’s not meant to be.
In the bag, this has a very strong pungent smell that for me almost borders on unpleasant but never quite makes it there. It is cocoa and malt with something sharp that tickles your nose. Steeped, it is definitely bold but not quite as IN YO’ FACE as the initial aroma leads you to.
Instead, it is cocoa-y and smooth, with a lot of malt or wheat flavour that makes it easy drinking. No bitterness, no astringency, nothing to make me wince while I sip. It reminds me of other bold black teas I have (Laoshan Black, Golden Monkey) but there is a something that makes it different. I like it, but I can probably live without it once it’s gone. Very nice offering though and won’t be a struggle to drink it down.
Update on this: This is a rare breed for me, a tea that I like more now than I did upon first sip. I have enjoyed it a number of times in the past three months, and am almost done the 2 ounces I ordered. Luckily, I snuck another 2 ounces in my most recent order. Heck, it might even tag along on the order I am dreaming up for some of the new black tea and the new puerhs.
This has very strong chocolate flavour – not so much cocoa as creamy rich chocolate. It has a bit of bite but says smooth lindt chocolate to me more than general milk or dark. There is a lightness from the oolong that stops it from being laoshan black plus chocolate. I would like a BIT more presence from the toasted rice, but it is still there, adding its flavours and making a great brew. I like the simple flavouring additions and I love the end result. Definitely worth a gander if you like the laoshan black OR if you find it too strong but still want something with a chocolate punch.
Yes, I still have some of this left. Yes, it’s gotta be two years old. Yes, it still smells amazing in the bag, and even better steeped. The aroma reminds me mostly of Laoshan Black with rich cocoa notes and a big yummy smell that wraps you up and reads you a book while you listen to something awesome on vinyl in the background. Wait, that’s what I wish was happening.
Honestly, I was scared of this for a long time because it contains some puerh. I know and love the LB and the Yunnan and the big Red Robe, but that puerh was just scary. Now I am diving into the world of pu and trying to learn to like it – because man do I ever want to like it.
In this blend, I find it takes a backseat to the black teas. The yunnan and the LB make a tag team that dominates the pu and oolong and leaves you with delicious honey sweetened cocoa that is smooth and drinkable the whole way through. No bitterness, no astringency, and nothing but good feelings. This was nothing to fear – now I am only dissappointed that it isn’t available any longer. It works well western style, but I think it would shine with a gong fu session in my gaiwan.
The end of the sip is really developing more and more big red robe flavours. It seems to hide under the other bold teas and then when they burn out you get the oolong. Very nice! As it cools, I think I am starting to get more of the pu but I don’t remember ever trying this particular pu on it’s own so I can’t tell if it is taking over or if the melding of the other awesome teas is just turning into something bigger and better.
The pu definitely takes over as it cools and you know what? I don’t mind. It is a totally different taste experience from the start but it is good the whole way through. Extremely interesting.
It’s like the Hulk. Only I didn’t make it angry.
Follow up on my first note. Hot, this is extremely dissatisfying and way too sweet. The beau made up a pitcher yesterday of cold brew iced tea though, with equal parts of this and lemon myrtle. This way, it is actually really tasty and does remind me of pink lemonade. The lemon myrtle increases the lemon flavour and helps to drown out the sickening sweetness. We had it in the fridge for about 12 hours and the hibiscus didn’t take over but there was a tart edge from the myrtle and the hib. This is a much better way to use this up. I don’t really like iced tea a whole lot (I prefer water) but this is a definite improvement and the way to use up the rest of it, for sure.
Iced, this could be a 75 (would be higher if I didn’t have to mess with it so much to make it drinkable. Why is there so much sweetness?!?!?!)
Another from my recent Butiki order. This one smells AMAZING in the bag. Seriously one of the best smelling teas I have had the pleasure to smell in a while. I get some sharp sweet fruit notes that almost tickle my nose but I am loving it. Smells more like candy than fruit, but if it’s to mimic pie that makes sense too as pies tend to be loaded with sugar.
Boiling water, 3 minutes. The steeped aroma is indistinct sweet berry with some cinnamon. I think the cinnamon is what I was I was picking up on as sharp in the dry leaf. This aroma is completely different, but still delicious. First sips yield sweet creamy berry flavours with a soft cinnamon smell mixed in. The taste really lingers after the sip and builds as you get further in the cup.
Nothing really screams pie crust here for me, but there is something tempering the sweetness and the spice. It’s creamy, almost like strawberry pie with vanilla ice cream melted on top (minus the crust). So pie filling. :) As the cup cools I get a bit of astringency developing, but it isn’t too much. I really like this one, I just need to remember to drink it quickly to maximize on all those gorgeous flavours. While I don’t turn to flavoured teas very often anymore, this is one that is worth having on hand. Very VERY nice.
I received this as another free sample with my recent Butiki order. I am a bit leery about the directions (boiling, 4 minutes) but I have faith in Stacy’s judgment. I am excited to try it, though I couldn’t get much aroma from the dry leaf. I don’t know if it’s my nose or the plastic bags, but all my samples were lacking a bit in dry aroma. That’s okay though, because they have been super tasty!
Four minutes in, the liquor isn’t nearly as dark as I had feared. I will admit that I used more water than recommended, but I’m okay with that because as mentioned before, I do seem to like my tea a little different than the norm. I hate bitterness. I’ve got a warm yellow liquor with a sweet aroma, reminding me of florals and sweet fruit (maybe peach/apricot)?
First sips are remarkable. Honey sweetness, floral notes, sweet stone fruit. Even better than the aroma. There is something at the end of the sip that is going a little flat for me but I THINK that is residue from brushing my teeth. It was over an hour ago, but this toothpaste just won’t die!
As I get further in the cup, it tastes like someone put a spoon of honey in my tea when i wasn’t looking. That much sweetness is remarkable for an unadulterated tea. I get the sense of astringency lurking underneath it all, but it isn’t developing, just skulking in the shadows.
I have had one other Oriental Beauty, I think, but I don’t remember anything about it so I can’t compare how to does with others of it’s type. As a stand-alone though, this tea is remarkable! I prefer my teas to be a bit more complex and roasty, but this is definitely a nice tea. If you are an oolong drinker, check this one out. If you’re a black tea drinker like me, it would probably be more of an occasional drink. Yummy though!!
Another from my Butiki order. I couldn’t resist this one, I am familiar with tamarind only in some asian cooking but it is an interesting taste and I wondered how it would go in tea. I made a pot for the beau and myself this evening, and was surprised by the aroma. I didn’t pick up on anything I could call tamarind, instead I found it smelled of vanilla and reminded me of the Caramel Vanilla Assam (in aroma at least). It also reminds me of a monk’s blend I have with vanilla and pomegranate, randomly. Definitely not bad, but not what I expected, aroma-wise.
Steeped, I still just get the sense of vanilla and black tea. It smells like it will be a bit bitter, but I steeped it per directions – 3 minutes with boiling water. Hmm. First sips yield the expected results. Slightly astringent black tea with some vanilla. Not creamy yummy vanilla, but still something that makes me think of vanilla. Nothing says tamarind for me. I added a small piece of rock sugar (also from butiki) but it didn’t really dissolve as hoped, and didn’t change the taste for me. This isn’t bad, but definitely disappointing. It tastes almost exactly like a low quality monk’s blend I picked up once. I will try again to see if I can’t improve on this result, but this was a miss for me. The beau loves it though so if I can’t fix it up he will have no problem drinking it down.
Thinking about it, and I think part of my problem is the tea base. I prefer sweet Chinese blacks that I don’t have to do anything to, where this seems to need some sugar (which I don’t like to use). I will try steeping it more gently next time!
Update: Despite sweetening the rest of the pot, I find it quite bitter. The beau rates this at a 79 but I like it even less as I get further in. Disappointing.
Another free sample from Stacy with my recent order. Thank you Stacy! I don’t tend to go for assams so I left this one behind when shopping but am very excited to try it as a bonus sample. The dry leaf is beautiful, mainly golden and very full leaf. After discussing steeping parameters with Stacy from Butiki I have decided to follow her directions to the best of my ability to produce the best tasting tea I can – and also to stretch the leaf out as far as I can. Accordingly, this got 3.5 minutes with boiling water. Admittedly I used 10 oz of water rather than 8 but I seem to like my tea a little less bold than others. Basically, I will do anything to avoid astringency.
Steeped, this is remarkable. I find this very cocoa-y, rich, with some malt but no bitterness or astringency. Basically, it reminds me of a Chinese black rather than an Assam. Very cool! I really like this. This is the sort of tea that could change ones mind about assams. Man. Okay, if/when I do another order, I think I might stock up on this one. I wish a had a little more because I wanted to try it side by side with a couple teas I love from Teavivre, as the taste reminds me of their Golden Monkey and maybe even my long-gone beloved Golden Snail from Harney and Sons.
As I continue in the cup, the cocoa only intensifies for me. This is good drinking tea! This is definitely a bit more expensive than many teas I enjoy, but if I could get this on sale it would be great to have on hand. I will definitely be giving it a second steep to try to squeeze some more goodness out of it.