1118 Tasting Notes

50

Trying this in the gaiwan today. Have just enough left to do something else with it. Not sure what. Maybe try it in the yixing again.

I am somewhat intimidated by pu-erh, though I like what I’ve had of it generally speaking. I’m just never sure I’m “doing it right” and since pu-erh can be pricey I’ve been reluctant to start with some of the things I know to be good in my stash.

Let me say that another way. It’s more accurate to say I believe them to be good based upon the word of the companies I’ve patronized because, as recent threads here have indicated, there’s a lot of room for everything from misunderstandings to getting ripped off particularly with regards to pu-erh. Which is one of the reasons it intimidates me.

In any case, most of my experience so far has been sort of the toe in the pool method rather than diving in head first. Because intimidated.

So here’s another toe in the water effort. I went for very short steeps after rinsing. Starting in the immediate range (1-3 seconds) and increasing by five seconds each time.

1. Very dark and opaque, like black coffee. Smells like a saddle. Tastes a bit salty and a little like potting soil. I think this is what tasters mean when they say mushroom, as raw white mushroom doesn’t taste like much to me except a little like dirt, and that’s what I’m getting here.

2. Same look to the tea, if anything a bit darker and a bit more opaque. Rather like flat cola. Still some leather in the aroma. But smoother and something else, too. Tobacco, maybe. The flavor is less salty, and actually quite smooth. It just doesn’t taste like an awful lot to me.

3. Color is the same. Less leather and more earth in the aroma. Gosh, this steep still doesn’t taste like much but it’s weird. It’s like the tea is trying to taste like something but can’t quite pull it off. A little like meat, maybe, but not in a lapsang sort of way. More like a shroomy meatiness.

4. No change on the color. No change on the aroma. Flavor is still trying to be something more than it is. There’s a tad of sweetness this time around.

5. Still dark brown but no longer opaque. There is something that makes me think of gravy in the aroma, though I’m not sure why as the salt and leather is pretty much gone. Perhaps its flour? The flavor is sweetening up some, and becoming leafy. There’s no leaf flavor listed among the options except autumn leaf pile, so that’s what I’ve picked.

6. Color similar to 5. I no longer think of gravy when I smell the tea. The flavor is brighter, and I can taste the water through the tea, which I think is a signal to me to stop here. I suppose I could push it further and see if anything miraculous happens in later steeps but I’m not excited enough by this to do that.

I have to rate this less as compared to other teas since I haven’t had many pu-erhs (certainly not many recently) and more on an absolute scale.

Assuming I’m doing it anywhere close to “right,” even if this tea was still available I can’t imagine buying it again. It’s not offensive, it’s just not really there. (The Numi bagged pu-erhs have more flavor than this does.) It makes a better cold brew than hot, and it’s hard to imagine that is how a pu-erh should be.

I’m rather gratified that other reviews didn’t find much flavor in this either, so I can’t conclude it’s just me. I want to develop a taste for puerh and I’d be horrified if I was missing the necessary taste buds to do so.

On the upside, it does seem to have made my digestive tract quite happy.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dirt, Leather, Mushrooms, Salt, Tobacco

Preparation
Boiling
mrmopar

There is no right or wrong way to brew puerh. Just experiment and make it how you like it. Took me a while to get my basic preferences down. You will find the zone. Do you tend to like green or black tea? That may help tune you into what type to really get into.

__Morgana__

Thanks mrmopar. I like both black and green, mostly depending on mood and time of day.

mrmopar

Have you tried any Menghai shou yet? I have some YS shengs that are getting nice as well.
I would probably stick to big factory or our top producers active on here, Shou is real tricky if not produced correctly. Good shou won’t have all the off notes to it. I normally won’t drink shou younger than 2 years old so it has had time to settle.

__Morgana__

I don’t think so. I have a number of samples and also a few cakes but I haven’t broken them out yet. I intend to get on that soon. :-)

OMGsrsly

Hahaha! I LOVE these descriptions! Kinda how I’m feeling about the tea I’m drinking right now. It’s a little of a few things, but mostly not tasting of anything specific. :) (It could be nice with a little cinnamon stick added to the leaf. Cinnamon & shou is a favourite combo of mine.)

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82

I have not had an Assam in what seems like forever. I have a sort of weird relationship with Assam. Just when I become convinced it is my least favorite black tea, I’ll have one that changes my mind. I keep finding these unopened green Premium Steap packets full of interesting things among the tins in one of my tea drawers. This is one of them, so I thought I’d give it a try.

The Sessa is not currently listed as available on the Premium Steap site, though google shows that tea from the Sessa estate is available at other companies currently.

After having been on a Yunnan kick, it’s interesting to me that the dry leaves of this one look a bit similar except in color. They’re a bit darker, an olive green heading toward chocolate, but are similarly shaped and also have gold tippy leaves among the darker ones. They smell like a combination of baked goods and root vegetables.

I steeped for only 3:30 min because I worried this would be too strong for me otherwise. The steeped tea smells like sweet potatoes and is a rich dark cherry wood color.

I’m glad I steeped relatively light because even so, this came out quite strong. It has a lot of heft, and I think if I’d steeped longer it could have been too bitter for me. As it is, the tea has a slightly bitter edge, but one that smooths out into something that, while not overly sweet, is quite flavorful: sweet potato and some earth, with a cocoa note and some wine in the aftertaste.

It does have the Assam throat grab, but it’s not too bad. As Assams go, I like this one because it’s got a fair amount of complexity, but I would definitely need to be in the mood for something hearty to appreciate fully what this one has to offer.

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Red Wine, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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88
drank St. Petersburg by Kusmi Tea
1118 tasting notes

First tea this morning. I have a tiny sample tin that is almost gone and fortunately, I found an unopened regular size tin in my stash. I rated this 84 before, but I really like it better than an 84. Bumping it up some. Kusmi excels at fruity blends, and this is a very nice one.

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80

Sipdown no. 190. since I’ve started counting sipdowns. A sample.

Ten more sipdowns to 200. Sadly, I will not have even made a noticeable dent in my tea stash after hitting 200. I’m wondering at what point I’ll actually see it start to look smaller? Just for fun, I think I’ll try to make a prediction when I actually do hit 200.

Though I haven’t made much of an overall dent, I am getting to the end of the Life In Teacup samples. I have one more oolong sample from them (I think) after this and a few pu erh samples. I have mixed feelings, of course. These oolong samples have been lovely, and part of me is sorry to see them go. On the other hand, I got to enjoy them, finally. And it’s not like it’s the end, either. I did buy some oolong from Life In Teacup and have most of that left in my stash as well.

But anyway, this tea. I looked up what the competition grading meant and found this:

http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2010/05/competition-grades-of-taiwan-oolong.html

Apparently, this won fourth place in an oolong competition.

I’m also slightly confused because I’ve had a Dong Ding from Life In Teacup which I thought was terrific and a Cui Yu, which I also liked. Not sure what makes this both?

I put this through my usual five steeps starting at 15 seconds and adding five seconds per steep. The tea comes in tightly rolled dark green balls that smelled foresty to me. It steeps to a clear pale yellow-light green.

I’m not usually at a loss for descriptive terms, but I’m having something of a tough time describing the aroma and taste of this one. It’s certainly not a dark roasty toasty oolong though it has a hint of roastiness. Nor does it seem to be a purely green oolong. I mostly get a sort of raw nuttiness in the aroma and flavor with some floral notes around the edges and a hint of milkiness. It’s extremely mild and smooth.

Very enjoyable, albeit somewhat hard to define. I wonder whether if I’d used hotter water I would have got more of the amazingness out of it that I got out of the Dong Ding of a couple of days ago?

Flavors: Floral, Milk, Nutty, Roasted

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74

Tried this today western style in the Breville.

Kind of odd-tasting. Sort of like green tea, but not completely. Not really like a green oolong, or a roasty oolong. A bit roasty around the edges, perhaps. There’s a sort of weird floral flavor to it, like a jasmine note. Not sure where that is coming from as this isn’t flavored. I like jasmine, but I guess I prefer it when I’m expecting it to having it show up as a surprise.

Will try it hot again in the gaiwan. But I suspect I’ll be drinking most of this cold, as it’s quite nice that way.

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74
drank Thai Chai by Adagio Teas
1118 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 189. The rest of the sample.

Made a big honking pot of this on the stove top using Premium Steap’s Organic Black with Coconut as extra black tea. Yes, my stove won’t click problem of yesterday has been solved. As has my outlet problem. The gremlins were messing with me but fled when the BF turned things on. Go figure. Internet is still flaky, though.

Definitely improved when made this way, so I’m upping the rating. However, still my least favorite of the Adagio chai samples. The additional coconut benefited this in my view as I can now taste the sweetness of the coconut where as before it got tangled up with the lemongrass and they sort of cancelled each other out. On the other hand, the reason I drink chai is for the chai spices, especially cardamom. The chai spices are very background here and not very strong.

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79

Although I did not have eggs this morning, this was a nice first cup of tea. More interesting as a tea than the Teavana of yesterday, but less Earl Grey-like. The bergamot has a floral note rather than a citrus one, much like the other Simpson and Vail Earl Greys I’ve tried.

Mike

Ooh, sounds like another nice Earl Grey!

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84

Sipdown no. 188. The rest of the sample.

Still my favorite among the flavored oolongs. It is staying on the wish list. The grapefruit gives it a crispness that’s quite tasty.

Flavors: Citrus, Grapefruit

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89

1000th tasting note! It only took me six years to get here. :-)

I wanted to steep something really special for this occasion. I thought about one of the various wonderful French teas in my cupboard, but decided I had had enough flavored black for one day. I’ve been on a Yunnan kick for a few days now, so I thought I’d look for a highly rated Yunnan I have but hadn’t yet tried.

I have tin no. 23 of this limited edition of 150. Inside the tin, long forest green leaves predominate with some lighter blonde colored tips adding visual interest. The dry leaves smell a bit chocolate-y, a deep, dark, rich fragrance.

I decided to steep at the average preparation parameters rather than the five minutes at boiling recommended on the tin.

I got a clear, dark maple colored liquor with a warm sweet aroma — a bit less sweet than the other yunnans I’ve tried recently but still reminiscent of molasses with some chocolate notes around the edges.

The flavor is quite smooth. No back of the throat grab with this one. Medium bodied, and a bit lighter than I’d expected (might try boiling and longer steep next time). The flavor isn’t overly sweet or sugary in the sip, but has some sweetness in the finish and aftertaste. The funny thing is, I can’t really identify a flavor note in this. I can mostly define what I don’t taste. Unlike some yunnans, I’m not getting a peppery flavor, nor am I getting something I’d call malty. There is something bready about it, maybe a rye note, and while the cocoa note in the aroma gets stronger as the tea cools I only taste it a tiny bit. I’m not getting tobacco or cannabis or any of the other things folks have mentioned.

Some of the other yunnans I’ve tasted recently have had more depth and complexity, but part of that could be preparation, and a lot of it could also be that my expectations of this one were exceptionally high. I’m going to withhold final judgment until I’ve played with it more, but right now, I’m thinking this is quite good but not as spectacular as I was hoping. Ah, well.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Cocoa, Molasses, Rye

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Tamarindel

Congrats! 1000 is quite a milestone.

boychik

Congrats!

CHAroma

Congratulations!

mrmopar

Big number!

__Morgana__

Thanks all!

Jillian

Congrats on the milestone!

OMGsrsly

Congratulations on 1000! :)

tigress_al

Good job!

Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea

We are honored! Seriously, thanks for choosing us! It tickles us to no end. Get that steeping time up there — the leaves are very forgiving with long brews.

__Morgana__

I’m honored that you’re honored. Wait, this could go on for a while. ;-) I’ll definitely go hotter and longer next time and see what happens. Thanks for the excellent tea!

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87
drank Keemun Rhapsody by Adagio Teas
1118 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 187. The rest of the sample.

This was one of the black savant samples that I set aside a while back because I really liked it. Now that I’m trying to drink the stuff I like with equal frequency with the stuff I don’t like as much, I decided there wasn’t a lot of reason to keep this one around getting older.

The morning started badly. Not only are two of my power outlets out in the kitchen, the stove (which is gas, with a spark ignitor) wouldn’t stop clicking yesterday because the element got wet from my tea kettle being overfilled and spitting water into the burner. The BF got it to stop, but now it won’t click at all and has to be lit with a match. Not to mention my internet connection, which gets flaky every time it rains here, has been on permanent flake with the wet weather over the last few days. Geez.

At least this tea is nice. I wonder whether my palate has changed, or whether the tea may have faded a bit because I don’t think now I’d rate it as highly as I did before. Mostly because I’m detecting something that tastes metallic or minerally in this. Or perhaps like raw potato, which tastes minerally to me. There’s still a bread-like quality but I’m not getting a lot of smoke or sweetness and instead getting these other notes. It’s still enjoyable and I’m not going to mess with the rating because I’m not sure of the reasons for the change in taste. It could just be me. Sometimes things taste different to me from day to day.

I’m thinking about what to drink next for my big 1000th note!

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Bio

I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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