1120 Tasting Notes

81

Time to try a new tisane. I have a few samples left, as the collection continues to get whittled down.

In the packet, it smells like some sort of baked good. Gingerbread, maybe? It’s not so chocolatey that I’d identify it as a chocolate aroma. The mixture looks heavy on the chocolate and caramel pieces and light on the honeybush and rosebuds.

Steeped, it smells boozy. A liqueur smell. Kahlua, maybe, though it has been a while since I had Kahlua. It has a tea-colored liquor that’s remarkably clear given the various sugary things in it that undoubtedly melted when steeped.

Fortunately, it doesn’t taste boozy. Well, at least not in the sip. There’s a bit of liqueur flavor in the aftertaste. The sip is mostly caramel, with some vaguely cocoa notes. It’s smooth and tasty, and a bit on the subtle side which I think improves it over what it might taste like if it was the sort of thing that hit you over the head. I can’t really taste the honeybush, which is a plus.

I was going to say I couldn’t really taste the torte, either, which would be a minus. But as it cools, I do get a suggestion of baked goods. Not as strong as the one in the Amaretti Cookie, but it is there.

This is the sort of thing I would have gone nuts for a few years back when I was marveling at the fact that a drink could taste like a decadent dessert without the calories. It’s good enough that it’s tempting me back toward desserty non-fruit tisanes tonight.

For that I rate it high, but I’m not sure it’s enough to make me completely buck my trend of late to crave fruity tisanes instead of desserty chocolate, caramel, cake, etc. ones.

Flavors: Alcohol, Caramel, Chocolate

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
ashmanra

I had never had Kahlua, not being a coffee drinker and not really drinking alcohol much at all, but I got bored one night and saw a recipe on Pinterest for homemade Kahlua so I gave it a try. Oh my, that is tasty stuff! A few people have tried it and say it tastes like the real thing and they loved it. I mainly made it to go in recipes that call for it.

__Morgana__

My dim recollection of Kahlua is that it tastes best with something creamy. There was a place in Boston when I was in law school that made an amazing drink that was almost like an ice cream sundae (though served hot) with carmelized sugar melted over the glass and all kinds of other things, and I think there was Kahlua in it. It was delicious and warming. I’ve had it “straight”-er in things like Black Russians and didn’t love it that way.

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79

Sipdown no. 10 for 2016 (no. 231 total).

After sipping my way through this, I can safely say that the ginger was more prominent than the lemon throughout, not just in the cup I wrote about initially. I continued to enjoy the ginger flavor in this, though I can’t say that in the last few cups I sipped down I got the effervescence impression that I mentioned initially. Perhaps that is a function of age (the tisane’s, not mine).

Flavors: Ginger, Lemon, Wet Wood

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67
drank Cacao Mint Black by Teavana
1120 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 9 of 2016 (no. 230 total). After saying I should shake up the tin to try to distribute the mint and chocolate more evenly, I forgot to do that every single time I had this until after I was already steeping. Oh well.

Not much to add. It’s more mint than chocolate, and it’s ok but not the best I’ve had.

ekm0924

Hi! What is a sipdown? I keep seeing that all over the place. Also, TTB?

__Morgana__

Hi, Ekm. A sipdown is when you drink the last of the type of tea you’re writing a note on. I’m not sure who coined the term. For a while a group of us were referring to that sort of event as a “decupboarding,” but then “sipdown” sort of took off so I started using that terminology.

TTB stands for traveling tea box.

__Morgana__

Oh, and I should add that the numbers in the sipdown counts can mean different things. For me, they’re the total number of containers of tea I’ve finished, whether those are large tins or single serving samples. I think some other people use them to indicate how many teas they have left in their stash after sipping down the tea they’re writing about. Or other things.

ekm0924

Thanks for your help :)

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82

Sipdown no. 8 of 2016 (no. 229 total). A sample. The second of the green tea sampler from Sanctuary T.

I was delighted to find jasmine pearls among the samples as they are such a favorite of mine. These smell very jasminey in the packet and steep to a very pale, clear yellow that is almost colorless. The jasmine is the primary note in the aroma as one might expect, and the same is true with regard to the flavor. The tea is quite mild in its jasmine-ness as well as in its tea-ness. Not bitter, or otherwise having any off notes. Just not very present, and the jasmine is rather light. It’s actually a good combination to have the jasmine light where the tea is also light. Otherwise you get a pasted on jasmine flavor, which this doesn’t have.

It’s a good jasmine pearls, but I prefer more depth to the underlying tea.

Flavors: Jasmine

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
kristinalee

I haven’t really tried any of these because green tea often makes me feel sick, but I’ve been eyeing various jasmine pearls for a while now. Can you recommend any that don’t use natural or artificial flavoring and that actually have jasmine flowers you can see?

__Morgana__

I’ve had a number of jasmine pearls but I can’t vouch for whether they use any sort of flavoring or not. I am fairly sure from the description on their site that the Tavalon green jasmine (not pearls) which I liked a lot doesn’t use flavoring. Also, I recently drank an older sample of the Samovar jasmine pearls which I thought was terrific. As far as I can tell from the description on their site, they don’t use anything but flowers to scent the tea. Interestingly, though, the current site says they use a mix of green and white teas in their pearls, and the Steepster description says it’s classified as a green tea but actually uses a variety of white tea in the pearls. Which makes me wonder whether that’s why I found that one outstanding among the ones I’ve had.

kristinalee

Very interesting… Hm… I’ll check these out. I think they’d include it in the ingredients list if there were any flavorings, especially since this is something Western markets often demand. I need to look around. That one sounds good though.

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79
drank GenMaicha by Sanctuary T
1120 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 7 of 2016 (no. 228 total). A sample.

It has been a while since I had a genmaicha. I like them, when I’m in the mood for them. Since it’s still pretty early in the day, I thought I could risk turning to this one, which has matcha in it, after a couple of black teas this morning without ending up awake at four a.m. We shall see.

It makes a cloudy, yellow liquor that is quite pretty. It looks like liquid lemon drops. The aroma is mostly toasty rice, but with a seaweed/grassy tone as well.

One of the things I like about Genmaicha and also one of the reasons I have to be in the mood for it is that sometimes it can remind me of eating sushi. The green, vegetable, and seaweed tones combined with the rice tones can sometimes remind me of kappa maki (without the soy sauce, wasabi, and the need to chew).

This one gives me a bit of that experience. It’s tasty, not bitter, has quite a lot of toasty rice and is nicely balanced with the grass/seaweed flavor of the tea.

I am not sure I fully understand umami, but I would venture to say this has it.

Flavors: Rice, Seaweed, Toasty

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 500 OZ / 14786 ML
Kirkoneill1988

i love genmaicha

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86

Sipdown no. 6 of 2016 (no. 227 total). The rest of the sample.

It tastes particularly brisk and bright today, with honey in the aroma and in the finish. The assam throat grab is barely present. It teeters between being a great tea on the surface and something that has a bit more depth.

So here’s a question. When you’re tasting tea do you ever perceive distance in taste? I know some people taste colors, etc. but I noticed that I taste depths and heights. I find myself often saying something is “deep” or “on the surface” or has “high” notes. It’s like taking a VR walk through the taste, I guess, or it feels a little bit like that. Hmmm.

rosebudmelissa

I hadn’t really thought about it, but I do! Some teas are cozy like being in a small warm room surrounded by loved ones, or remind me of walking through a forest, or feeling the sun and wind on your face under a cloudless blue sky. Sometimes when I say depth I really mean complexity, but sometimes it really a feeling like a shallow lake vs a deep one.

__Morgana__

Right, I get the depth = complexity, too. Sometimes I feel more like it is spatial. Interesting.

Roswell Strange

Absolutely; I find I often perceive ‘layers’ of flavour as depth (top notes, body notes, base/support notes as well). Often I’ll use descriptors like “round flavour” to talk about something enjoyable or “flat” for something plain or less than stellar. I LOVE poetic language in regards to tea tasting (and most things in life) because it’s a really great way not to just convey the taste of a tea but the experience of drinking it.

__Morgana__

I agree, I love reading unusual descriptions as well as the old standbys.

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86

OK. This time I’m going to be a bit more systematic about what I noticed about this tea.

It’s got tippy leaves that smell earthy in the packet, and not smoky, though there is keemun in this. The steeped tea is a clear, reddish chestnut color, and has a malty, sweet aroma. I recall it being smoother the first time I tried it. Today I’m getting a bit of assam throat grab, but not enough to be bothersome. There’s some astringency in the sip, but the aftertaste is more cooling than drying.

I am working on a project to clean up my home office and right now it seems sort of insurmountable, though I’ve definitely made progress. Good thing I’m binge watching Veronica Mars, so I have something to do when I can’t take the organizing any more.

VariaTEA

I love Veronica Mars!! A great choice to pass the time. Alas, it is no longer on Canadian Netflix :(

kristinalee

Me too! Is it on Canadian Amazon Prime?

VariaTEA

I’m not sure though I do believe it’s on Shomi if you have that

VariaTEA

The movie is on Netflix though

__Morgana__

I’m getting it on Amazon Prime in the US.

Nicole

We’ve been watching it again, too, with a friend who never saw it all.

__Morgana__

I never saw it before because it originally started running between the birth of no. 1 and no. 2, and I didn’t watch a lot of TV then that wasn’t baby shows. Mostly because I was too tired to stay awake. ;-) It’s quite addictive.

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63

Today was a slow tea day. Too much running around.

I cracked open this tin and made some in the Breville, but I just poured it directly into the Timolino so I could leave the house. I’ll have to do a more detailed note later.

Given how much I love jasmine, I expected this to be something I’d adore. But it tasted like a washed out version of the Leafspa Jasmine Pearls which has far more flavor. And not just more tea flavor, more jasmine flavor as well.

It was easy to drink and it won’t be hard to sip down even though I have a ton of it. And I am not sure I’ve had a jasmine silver needle before. I believe I had the Adagio one, but I don’t have a note on it and I remember having trouble finding the sample I thought I had. In any case, I don’t have a lot to compare it to and I am perhaps unfairly comparing it to the jasmine pearls. I have enough to play around with it quite a lot, so I’ll try it in the gaiwan and at different concentrations and steeping times. I hope I can get more out of it but today it was like lightly jasmine flavored hot water.

Flavors: Jasmine

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 6 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

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82

Sipdown no. 5 of 2016 (no. 226 total).

We drank this one in quantity during the BF’s evil grippe as well. He found it sufficiently gentle and sufficiently hot that it had medicinal value for him. Because it was being drunk in quantity, I mostly prepared it Western style, and I have to say that although I could discern a flavor some of the time, it was pretty much too subtle for me most of the time.

In the gaiwan, which I just tried again with the last little bit, I get more flavor. There’s a sweetness and a grassy/hay-like flavor. With a little bit of wood and something slightly (and oddly) marine-like as well.

I like the idea of white teas, and I think they look pretty, but I am not sure they are for me. I’ve had some really good flavored ones, but the plain ones often either have an eau de dead plant thing going on, or are just so subtle I’m not sure I’m tasting the tea to its full potential.

Perhaps I should have someone who knows how to make a good cup of white tea make one for me. My kids always say the bread and butter tastes better when I spread it than when they do.

Rasseru

3g 3mins 175-180f?

Rasseru

maybe even more, 185f/80c would be fine

__Morgana__

I used 5g for 1 min at 175 and then for 1.5 min at 180 this time per *yyz*’s advice on steeping silver needle.

Rasseru

I always wonder if theres a scientific approach to less leaf & more time vs Less time & more leaf.

I might have to experiment with an excel graph handy one day

__Morgana__

There probably is. If I’m not getting a lot of flavor out of something, I usually bump the leaf up instead of increasing the time first. If that doesn’t solve it, I keep the greater amount of leaf and bump up the time (except with greens, where I’m always worried I’m going to end up with bitterness if I go for more than a minute and a half).

Rasseru

I just did your way, and it is very similar to my way. Its still very much in the nose and subtle in the mouth. Reminds me of a white wine that has been really chilled where the flavour is less prominent the colder it gets.

I dont get the ‘eau de dead plant’ thing, I get dry wine, flowers, soft headfeel, maybe even citrus & bananas. But very much needing to sniff it while drinking

Rasseru

oh and sweetness, a bit of sugar or maybe caramel

Rasseru

I would try doubling the time to see if that helps. You can steep white tea at this temp for a while

__Morgana__

The dead plant is more with white peony than with silver needle. Haven’t had it with silver needle.

Rasseru

Ah ok, i get you now :)

Nicole

Not that you’ve had bad white teas by any means, but for me, pretty much the only ones that don’t taste like water to me are from Shang. I could send you some samples if you wanted.

__Morgana__

Nicole, that’s a lovely offer but I have many more to try and I’ll be disowned if I allow more tea in the house. :-)

Dexter

I’m not a huge white tea (or green or green oolong for that matter) fan. Then I discovered moonlight which led me to aged whites….. moonlight and aged whites are “light” but really flavorful – yeah I like them. If you are wanting to like white tea, I would take a look into them. Shang has a really good aged white brick…. just saying…(Nicole has recommended a good one).
Once you’re allowed more tea in the house of course….

OMGsrsly

Mariage Freres says… 5 g / 200 ml – 85°C – 15 min. It actually does work for some silver needle. Might be worth a try?

__Morgana__

Thanks! Will try the steeping tips with the next silver needle and will keep the recommendations on file for 2018 when I come out of lockdown. lol

Rasseru

Is the shang silver needle really that good? I am down to my last 10g, and wanted to by a decent amount of fresh spring flush when it comes around in a few months

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67

Sipdown no. 4 of 2016 (225 total). A big tin.

After putting some in the fridge to cold brew, I had about two spoons left. I made some hot so I could record the sipdown.

I will say that as much as I don’t find the hot version at all interesting, the cold version is quite nice. I think the same things that make it not a great hot tea to me make it a good cold one. It’s unobtrusive and lacking in depth, bland but not without flavor. And these things make it easy to drink as a cold tea.

Now I have to figure out what to try cold next…

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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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