136 Tasting Notes

93

Made a big pot of this today, in celebration of having electricity again after being out for five days (came back late last night). I feel somewhat guilty though, as crews are still out there installing 7 huge utility poles out beyond a bunch of trees in very hot and humid conditions. Got to 100 yesterday (my inside thermostat showed 90). Today it is “only” 88, but with humidity “feels like 98” it says. The amazing thing is, this crew is from Alabama Power … I am in Ohio !!!! I should have thought of something to pick up for them at store last night. But what? Never once whined about power company (other things, but not them, lol). 16 hour days in this heat.

Glad to be back online. Will catch up on everyone’s notes later on, after catching up on more pressing matters. Hope everyone is doing ok and well.

Oh oh oh … this tea is yuuuuuummy with a little honey and newly bought coffeemate vanilla creamer (friggy/freezer almost total loss… but hey, had to restock a few basics last night, hehe). Honestly, iced Coke hit the spot way better for me these past days (sorry tea) :)

SimpliciTEA

“Honestly, iced Coke hit the spot way better for me these past days (sorry tea) :)” I totally get that! Orange-flavored soda really does it for me in the summer.

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91

Thanks go out to Angel and Teavivre for providing many samples of their tea for sampling. This came with my first order, at my request, as I wanted to order Dragon Well in my 2nd order (2012 version), along with one or two other greens. This won out as my 2nd favorite green.

Huang Shan Mao Feng is a mild, slightly vegetal, slightly floral green. I can see how some have compared it to a TGY in that respect, but this is not as bold and much milder. It has no bitterness as all, but perhaps a bit of astringency while hot (goes away when cooler). While cooling, it does move into a slight grassy phase, but goes down so smooth.

What I really liked is that I only have to (yes, I know I don’t “have” to) add a minimal amount of honey to make it enjoyable (under a tsp, therefore under 20 calories, lol.) It is good without any sweetness (but much better with a little). My whole point of trying to switch to tea is to reduce calories (and a healthier alternative) :)

2012 version
Quick rinse, 2 tsp., 2 minutes at 175.
Thanks again Angel !!!!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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75

Many thanks to Angel and Teavivre for sending a sample of this tea to taste and review.

I’m going to admit from the start, that I find mingling flower petals with tea is not something I find appealing. Why? Well, before becoming obsessed with tea, I was obsessed with fragrance. Jasmine and rose are probably the leading additions to most perfumes you will encounter, and that doesn’t mean only “floral” fragrances. And while a lot of my collection are florals, only one or two are jasmine heavy (not a favorite scent…lilies, lilac and tuberose are). So in other words, I’m already biased.

The brewed aroma is very heavy with the scent of jasmine. Not knowing what jasmine petals taste like, I can only imagine while taking first sip. Trying to separate the green tea flavor from the jasmine, I think it imparts a bit of bitterness to the tea. Bitterness isn’t the right word though … more of an aftertaste that lingers, that I am finding unpleasant.

I can see this is a quality tea, and that jasmine tea fans would love it. I’ve tried 3-4 others, and I think it’s just not for me, and no other jasmine tea will be either.

2 tsp, quick rinse first, tsp honey

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

I feel your pain… lol

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85

Peppermint, chamomile, spearmint, tulsi, lemongrass, natural guava flavor, cinnamon, natural grapefruit flavor. Wow, what a strange mix of characters, but what the heck?

Tulsi is a new love, and mint an old favorite. Both are obvious in this mix, with peppermint bullying the spearmint (as usual). The citrus/fruit flavors are there, but not individually recognizable (Juicy Fruit gum-like). It leans a little on the too-tart side (grapefruit’s fault?), so I sweetened it a bit (honey). Everyone speaks of it’s calming nature, but if stressed, a little music works better for me. I got this for the ingredient list : )

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
gmathis

Hmmm…I was with you until the guava. Not that it would be bad, just “one of these things just doesn’t belong here…can you guess before my song is done?”

Cheryl

Had to look up that quote….been a while since I’ve seen Sesame Street : )
But yea, I could do without the guava and grapefruit, but it’s not a bad blend.

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93

Thanks to Angel at Teavivre, for offering to send me their wonderful teas to sample. This is the 2011 version, but the 2012 version is in transit. I used the max recommended (2 tsp. and did a quick rinse for 1st steeping).

Having tried other dragonwell greens before, I really wasn’t expecting to like this. But with the first sip, I absolutely fell in love with this version. Very pale yellow in color when brewed, the first sips are very vegetal … sort of like celery, without any sign of bitterness whatsoever. Even a year old by now, this tastes fresh. And it was that part that really impressed me. I consider myself a newbie, but this speaks quality.

2nd steep (increasing 10 degrees, adding 1 minute) produces a slightly stronger brew. The 3rd steeping is still flavorful, and for the first time, the floral aspect comes through.

Thanks to SimpliciTEA for mentioning the 16 oz. glass “cafe mug” at Target (for 2.99 each here). They are made by Anchor and really add to the green tea “experience”. Btw, they also carry Anchor’s 2 quart “Bistro” pitcher, for 5.99, which I picked up to store iced tea (if I ever get that just right).

Highly recommend Teavivre for great service and (so far) very quality teas.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec
SimpliciTEA

Glad to hear you picked up one of those glass tumblers; I am really loving mine (I did happen to notice they were made in the USA).

If at some point you feel so inclined, I invite you to write a review of Teavivre here http://steepster.com/places/2857-teavivre-online
I still need to update the one I wrote. : }

Cheryl

Will do, after order #2 arrives (different shipping method) … if I remember : )

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75

Anyone who follows my notes enough, must know that I love honey … and use it to sweeten my teas. This was a untested, last minute addition to my early April order, but have been busy testing other teas to do a fair tasting. Yesterday I wrote up my thoughts on Teavivre’s (non organic) TGY, so want to follow up with this one (to compare).

I bought 50g, and that means 7 separately sealed packets in the pouch. I used one for today’s comparison. Brewing, it behaved in much the same manner as yesterday’s. The brewed aroma is very similar (hey, I added honey to the TGY yesterday : ) Others have mentioned that this doesn’t strike them as sweet. I agree. Very strange. Since I like my teas on the sweet side, I’m even pondering adding some honey. More strange. The TGY is very strong and upfront, vegetal and … uh, ack … hold on (runs to add honey) … ok, it now tastes very similar to yesterday’s. Not favoring overly sweet things, this is baffling to me right now.

Organic TGY w. honey is their highest priced oolong, priced more than twice the price of the (non organic) TGY (for 100g, $10.50 vs. 22.90). I can add my own (local raw) honey.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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92

Revisiting this today, so that I can compare it with the honey version. Many thanks to Angel for the free sample, which has already sparked a purchase of 100g in early April : )

First steep: 2 little-bit-heaping tsps., with honey for 2 minutes at boiling. The brewed leaves smelled very vegetal, like boiled peas. The first sip is very flavorful and strong, not totally vegetal like many greens would be, but similar. Have tried this before sans honey, and it is not sweet on it’s own, so the honey plays nicely in the brew. Floral undertones, yes, but can’t distinquish which. As it cools, it becomes more vegetal. Fell in love with this tea with first sip.

Second steep: My notes say that it was a bit weaker at 2-1/2 min, so upped it to 3 this time. The “wow” factor goes to the leaves after the 2nd steep (lots of full size leaves, mostly opened up now). What started out as a small pile of hard pellets at bottom, now takes up half my 16 oz. IngenuiTEA. First sip: The 3 minute steep time helped, as this is just as strong as the first steep (in flavor). Second steep seems less vegetal, a little more floral, but I can’t detect much of a difference between the 2 steeps. Love this tea : )

This is the only Tie Guan Yin that I have tested/tasted, but would recommend. Teavivre’s customer service and selections are outstanding.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

How do like the IngenuiTEA?

Cheryl

I love mine. Would recommend. My son put mine through his dishwasher last weekend (no dw here) and it now looks brand new again. Bought 32 oz. one to cold brew (still need to dedicate effort to that, before it gets too hot here).

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84

This is for the tea sachets, not loose leaf. I spent the weekend in Rochester NY, and my son had mentioned that he was in Wegmans Pittsford store, and there was a huge tea selection. Anyone who knows Wegmans knows they rock. I was already familiar with the brands they were likely to carry, so jotted down a few things to look for before going. Since Pittsford is their “Super” (mega super duper flagship) Wegmans (they are based in Rochester), this was written on my list, since SimplyJen found it at a store here in Ohio. And they had it !!!! (did I mention Wegmans rocks?). I wasn’t expecting the Harney ones (maybe 8 choices) but none I recognized as ones I wanted to try. I managed to leave the store with only 2 teas (very proud) lol. I did put 3 back, after remembering my cupboards back home. For the record, I’ve never seen Steven Smith or Harney at any of the other Wegmans (from smaller to bigger ones). That one also had a “Tea Bar” serving tea by the cup, with what looked like 20-30 selections. Was there after driving all day from Ohio (not in mood to explore further).

Anyway! This tea! Testing with honey (no coffeemate, which is usual for Earls). Fearing bitter, I only steeped 4 minutes, instead of their instructions for 5. There is no bitterness, and the tea manages to be strong and obvious. I’m not picking up strong bergamot flavoring with only sweetener, and I would prefer it stronger. Halfway through cup, going to add some coffeemate sweet cream …

Since I’m used to drinking my morning Earl Grey with honey and creamer, this is a fairer comparison I think. Now I can taste the bergamot “playing” with the cream and giving it more emphasis. I like, but don’t love. But it might be steeped too long for my tastes (the Assam is booming the most). Will re-try at 3.

Wegmans price for 15 sachets (boxed) was $9.99 … does anyone know how the loose leaf compares?

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Dylan Oxford

His website (www.smithtea.com) has 2 oz for $5 or 4 oz for $9. Though strangetly enough, the box of 15 is actually $12… so you got it cheaper at retail. Mind is blown.

Cheryl

I bought a bunch of teas from Republic of Tea, only to find them for less at Wegmans too ($2-3 less average). Thanks for looking up price comparison. It will remain on wishlist until my buying moratorium (oops) ends though. But ummm, online moratorium (hey, I did put 3 back, hehe). But loose leaf might/must be better?

Dylan Oxford

Not sure. This guy is kind of the teabag king. I did a little reading up on him. He founded Stash tea, sold it to Japan. Then he founded Tazo tea, and sold it to Starbucks. Now he’s doing this. It looks like he’s been in the bag game a lot longer than the loose leaf one ;)

Cheryl

Ah ha! I remember reading that story long ago (while browsing online retailers) but didn’t make the connection that it was him. Hmmm, interesting. I have liked Stash in general, but not Tazo (w. one exception). I will explore his choices more when my (ummm) buying moratorium ends : )

TeaBrat

ha – interesting background, thanks Dylan

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83

This is my final variety of Upton’s Holy Basil choices for the night (am getting a bit holy basil’d out). Upton now has a new/fresh batch of this in, and is re-numbered (BH08).

Dry leaf is much bigger than previous ones (BH02 finely chopped dry leaves, BH03 more so than BH02). They also instruct using more (2-3 tsp … used closer to 3). Can sense a mint in there, but spice too.

First sip is mostly clove, like BH02. But this overall has a “fresher” feel, and is stronger (but hey, they said to use more). Pondering the taste, for the first time I’m remembering (Beemans?) Clove Gum, with that little bite that it can have (was favorite gum, when I used to chew gum, many moons ago). Stand alone, this tastes a wee bit better than BH02. But keep in mind, that I LOVE the clove flavor. If I had a lot of the other, and pondered ordering more of this, not sure I’d need it though. Will see how they blend another day/night.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Daniel Scott

Never heard of Beech Clove Gum! Sounds interesting, though…

Cheryl

Oh oops, editing text … thought the brand was Beech, but confused it with Beemans, who did have a Clove gum, but not sure if they are or aren’t related. I’ve seen Clove gum recently, but not Beemans (google it, lol).

gmathis

Teaberry isn’t bad either, nostalgia gumwise … I think you can find it at Cracker Barrel stores

Cheryl

My (tiny town) local source also carries Zero and Bun (maple and vanilla) candy bars, which are way more dangerous for me to know about. I remember Teaberry too … if I were still chewing gum, also good.

ScottTeaMan

Thanks for reminding me of this tea…….I’m gonna buy a sample with my next order! :))

Cheryl

Try all 3 : )

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76

This is Upton Tulsi sample #2 for the night (comparing their 3 choices). Upton says that this is the Vana Tulsi type, or aka clove basil. Dry it smells strongly of licorice.

Ok, first sip was a bit bracing. No clove, more like anise (licorice) and this is definately less on the sweet side (was careful to measure everything and keep honey amt. the same). There’s also a vegetal note trying to pop through…green tea’ish, herbally. Not sure I’d drink this on it’s own, but can see how it could add more character to the other(s).

h. tsp., 2 tsp honey, 8 minutes

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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Profile

Bio

Originally started testing teas, to replace a lifelong Coke (Coca-Cola) habit. Now I’m just amazed at all the choices. Still in beginner stage of tea education. Until I get really good at iced/cold tea, the Coke habit remains, but is down to a minimum.

My cupboard here on Steepster was ridiculous, containing each and every sample size that I have been accumulating. It now only contains non-sample size teas. Loose leaf outweighs the bagged teas, but it doesn’t look that way by the list (over 100 samples).

I started my tea journey testing flavored teas. My favorites are chai and mint flavored teas, along with Earl Grey. Also like chocolate, caramel, coconut, almond, vanilla, cinnamon, clove and some others. Most flavors are better with a nice black tea base. The mint ones seem best paired with greens. I’m branching out now to unflavored teas and it is way more overwhelming then the flavored category. Phew.

My (grown) son has decided that he wants to try to find tea that he likes too, so I’ll be passing along the ones I don’t care for to him (with instructions to then pass them on to his sister…evil plot? yes!). So I’ve removed my shopping list from Steepster and moved it to a spreadsheet (swaps are out for now). My shopping list had grown to 197! By going through each one, I was able to split that in half (since many were added in beginning, before I knew what I like/don’t like).

While not swapping, if there’s something in my cupboard that you’d like a sample of, please feel free to ask : )

Ratings (for now):
90s: Must have in personal rotation. Crave it.
80s: Makes me a happy tea drinker. Very good. Unsure of long term relationship.
70s: Like this. Will drink what I have (sample/tin/box), but unsure of whether I’d buy again.
60s: Probably a good tea for what it is. Just not to my personal liking.
50s and below: Do not like…at all. Either poor quality, yuck flavor or … (see tealog).

Old (and still current) obsessions: books, music and fragrances. Hopefully my tea collection stays much more “normal” then those. (too late)

Location

Central Ohio

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