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91 Tasting Notes

This is probably the most expensive tea I’ve purchased from Stacy, hence my usual putting-off of the good stuff that I’ve recently learned you’re not supposed to do with greens. I bought this nearly a year ago and I’m only trying it for the first time today. Sigh.

I used 1.5 tsp dry leaf (I wish the “amount” box would recognize decimals or fractions) and probably a little less water at a little lower temperature and for maybe 4 seconds longer than the recommended parameters. The resulting liquor was pretty intense – I almost never add more hot water after steeping, but I did twice for this one. Even then it was somewhat bitter and astringent, but there were some buttery and spinach-y elements I liked. (Why do I always think green teas taste like buttered spinach?) I’ll try it with only a teaspoon of leaf next time.

ETA: Went for a second steep, 1m15s. It’s much gentler than the first steep, but still has a bitter bite along the sides of my tongue & plenty of umami (at least that’s what I think it is). The buttery & vegetal qualities are much less present, but I think I can make out some nuttiness, and perhaps a wisp of fruit.

Preparation
155 °F / 68 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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76

Giving this another go tonight, hoping it’ll help clear my head after my inaugural gongfu session (I don’t think I’ve consumed that much green tea in one sitting in a long time).

It’s still kind of weak at 3m15s, and I’m not very fond of it unsweetened. It seems to taste better as it cools, so I may save the remainder to make iced tea when the weather gets warmer.

This is just okay to me. The only flavor I can definitely pick out is the ginger, and everything else is an earthy, slightly bitter muddle before I add agave. I’m kind of disappointed that the berries & lemon zest aren’t coming through more clearly. And there’s a fine grit of unknown origin at the bottom of my cup.

On the plus side, it is quite good brewed rather strongly & sweetened, and it does seem to be a nice remedy for what ails me. It soothed my tummy from last night’s bout of indigestion, and tonight my head feels better than it did before I started drinking it.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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76

Despite having purchased a gaiwan months ago, I only used it for the very first time today. I didn’t want to use a tea that was too pricey or short-stocked for my maiden voyage, so I went with this one, which I still have a good 25 grams of after a year in my cupboard.

Using the gaiwan was pretty easy – pretty much the same premise as opening the lid of a pot just enough to drain the cooking water off boiled pasta. I only got a big piece of leaf in my cup once (which is better than my track record with draining pasta). Whittard only has western-style instructions on their site, so I used Teavivre’s gongfu instructions for their Huang Shan Mao Feng as a guide (80 C, 5s rinse, 30/60/90). I started at around 85 C for the rinse.

Rinse (I don’t know if you’re meant to taste this, but I did): butter! Somewhat salty. Mild flavor of some type of cooked greens.

1: Similar to rinse, but more cooked greens & less buttery. Getting some bitterness.

2: I poured this one off after 30s, but it seemed a bit weak, so I poured it back into the gaiwan for another 30s. This made it kind of unpleasantly bitter, like overcooked greens. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go any further after this cup, but…

3: I poured this after 65-70s. Still bitter. Don’t think I’ll go for a fourth.

Obviously my gongfu skills need refining, and this tea is hella old, and I very likely overleafed, but I’m inclined to think my original 91 rating was more of a reflection of my beginner’s enthusiasm than the tea’s quality. It’s probably not a good sign when the rinse is my favorite steep.
And now my head hurts. Dropping the rating like it’s hot.

Flavors: Butter, Kale

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 6 OZ / 177 ML
yyz

That’s too bad. My favourite initial steep time for greens is 45s. I usually increase steep times between 5-20s depending on the tea type and how the flavour is developing and changing between steeps). If you enjoyed it before it might be that 60s was way too much or perhaps you can experiment with less leaf? I often use less leaf than is recommended for gongfu. It takes some time to experiment to find what works for you.

adagio breeze

Oh, I’m definitely not going to write off gongfu-ing greens! Teavivre’s leaf recommendation was 4g for a 3oz vessel, and I think my gaiwan is 6oz (I’ll have to check), and 7g seems to be Verdant’s standard for gongfu brewing, so I figured that amount sounded about right. Teavivre’s steep time progression did seem a bit (ugh I hate myself for this but I can’t think of a better word) steep.

adagio breeze

Also, I feel kind of boastful saying “I brewed this gongfu style” when my skill is not that great, haha.

yyz

Yay! There are some teas that I pretty much only brew that way(straight oolong, white and green teas). Blacks I find are interesting some ( especially the really tippy ones I can get away with reall

yyz

Eek. I meant that I can get away with really short steep times for some blacks 5s poured off slowly, especially jinjunmeis, others need about 50s and others are really best western styles IMHO. Have fun experimenting!

adagio breeze

Thanks for the tips!

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76

Tonight I’m cracking into my Verdant herbal blends to see if I want to add any to my next order. The dry leaf for this one is so pretty! Little flakes of green sprinkled with pink rose petals, and pieces of ginger & lemon zest poking through here and there.

4 minutes is probably too long for the size of the cup I used, though it did seem a little weak at 3 minutes. The ginger is pretty mild but strong enough to make my tongue tingle. Unsweetened, there were some bitter & earthy flavors I couldn’t put my finger on (can’t say I have any idea what burdock or rhodiola are supposed to taste like), though after adding some agave nectar it tasted quite a bit like ginger ale. I’ll let you guess which way I liked it better.

Hmm. I think I like this one, but I’ll have to try it again to be sure.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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81
drank Korean Sejak by DAVIDsTEA
91 tasting notes

I’ve resolved to make greens & lightly oxidized oolongs my priority, after reading a Verdant blog post saying they only stay fresh for about 4 months. Let’s just say I have my work cut out for me.

Dry leaf smells a bit like being on the coast – herbaceous, but with a whiff of ocean air. After being rehydrated, the leaves appear very delicate, almost the texture of seaweed. The flavor is light and similar to the aroma; very clean, with a satisfying thickness to the liquor. It’s very similar in taste to a Japanese green, and quite different from the only other Korean green I’ve tried, which was biscuity and fruity-sweet.

I was expecting a lot worse, considering the overall rating! Yes, its flavor is barely-there at times, but so is the tea I’ve had at most of the Japanese restaurants I’ve been to. I’ll have to seek out some other Korean teas.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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93
drank Frozen Summit by Shui Tea
91 tasting notes

Oh my gosh this is good. I’m only on my first steep (1/2 tsp, ~6 oz water) and I need to go out and run some errands, but I got all excited drinking it and had to write a little note. Smells like roasted nuts while brewing, then wonderful swirls of creamy/toasty/fruity flavor that made me slurp down my cup a little too fast. Yesssss. This is a good find. I bought it from Rachel of iHeartTeas in a stash sale she did last summer – not sure why she got rid of it, but I’m really glad I was able to pick it up!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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78

This is my first time trying a Da Hong Pao. When I first sipped it I thought “wood”, but on second thought it’s more like roasted grains. I’ve steeped this three times now, each infusion much like the one before and a bit one-note (NB: I bought this tea nearly 10 months ago, so age might be catching up with it). I do like the fact that it tastes toasty rather than charred, unlike many other roasted oolongs I’ve had. Not amazing, but very smooth & drinkable.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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93

Backlog: I made a pot of this a week or two ago from a sample I pilfered from the first round of the European Traveling Tea Box. The dry leaf smelled amazing, but my expectations weren’t all that high based on what I’ve heard about & tried from Adagio.

I had taken more from the box than the brewing instructions recommended for a cup, so I used what looked like proportionately more water (didn’t bother measuring, though) and followed the parameters on Adagio’s website. The first infusion was rather heavy, resinous, and almost piney – interesting, but not really what I was hoping for. Probably too hot & long a steep.

From the second infusion on, I decided to just go with what I thought was the right amount of water/temperature/time. That’s when rainbows appeared and birds started singing. Gorgeous perfect jasmine flavor! As if that weren’t enough, these lovely little leaves gave me another five delicious steeps. SEVEN steeps from a white tea brewed western style! Super impressive. I’m definitely grabbing some more of this next time I place an Adagio order. Thanks for sharing, KittyLovesTea!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 354 ML
Anna

<3!!!

Anna

I seriously love this review. And this tea is the best.

(Also I am so envious that you can just, you know, ORDER some, just like that.)

adagio breeze

They have an EU site! Do they not ship to where you live?

Anna

I JUST SAW THAT when I remembered, ‘wait, adagio is in Europe, too!’. I don’t know whether to feel exceptionally dorky or very excited. I think both, right?

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91
drank Big Breakfast by Clipper
91 tasting notes

This has been my breakfast tea for the last month or so, and it’s probably my favorite in recent memory. It’s strong but not harsh; full of flavor, and takes milk & sugar like a champ. I still can’t tease out individual flavors in these blended teas I drink with milk, so I’ll just say it’s pretty close to my ideal of what a breakfast blend should taste like. Yum!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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I’ve been awful at drinking my non-blended blacks. I’m a creature of habit – black tea is for CTC in bags with milk & sugar, and I keep thinking that the good stuff that you’re supposed to drink plain is going to be an assault on my tastebuds. I am aware that this is a terrible way to go through life (especially if you own as many of these nicer black teas as I do), so I made a conscious decision to try one of them today.

The dry leaf smells lightly forest-like, and the liquor chocolaty and earthy, with a rich brown color. It tastes less strong but more tart than I was expecting, with some bitterness and little astringency. The earthy and bark-like flavors become sweeter and a bit smoky in the aftertaste. It’s a lot more drinkable than I thought it would be, but I’m not sure it’s my thing. I bought it from a stash sale last summer (from Rachel of iHeartTeas, I believe) so it’s probably gone a bit stale. I might pick some up next time I’m in North America to see if I like it any better when it’s fresh. If anyone’s interested in the rest of the packet, let me know.

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 15 sec

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Profile

Bio

I grew up in New Jersey drinking Celestial Seasonings, and now I live in England, where I developed a taste for a good builder’s brew. Sometime in 2012 I bought my first loose teas, and my collection has since spiraled out of control. Still quite a novice, due to not drinking enough tea to keep pace with the amount I keep buying.

Some things I’m pretty sure I do like:
- most florals (jasmine, orange blossom, osmanthus, etc)
- buttery, vegetal greens
- malty blacks (usually with milk & sugar)
- oolongs that aren’t too heavily roasted

All tasting notes use unfiltered hard tap water, unless otherwise specified.

No real method to my numerical ratings yet, but we’ll see what develops.

Location

Bristol, UK

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