2542 Tasting Notes

85

A sample pack from Upton – I have been interested in trying a few different Ceylon teas lately as I think I’ve been missing out on the good stuff all these years. :)

I steeped this via regular infuser mug method. I really needed something to wake me up this morning so I’m hoping this will be a good choice. I’m definitely getting some nice cocoa and caramel notes out of this one. Rose aroma? hmmm. Perhaps. Every so slightly.

I found this tea to be a bit on the astringent side (but not bitter). I did seem to enjoy it more when I added soymilk to it. Not the best ceylon I’ve ever had, but certainly a solid choice for the morning time.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec
Scott B

How does Upton package their samples?

TeaBrat

you get them in a small foil envelope. I have to admit it does bother me that I can’t recycle or reuse them once I’ve opened it.

Scott B

I know what you mean-but I would think you could recycle foil-unless maybe it’s the mylar-type stuff.

But, are the packets sealed shut? I don’t like packets that use twisty-ties or manual zip lock bags.

TeaBrat

they are indeed sealed shut.

Scott B

Cool. I’ve been thinking about ordering some.

TeaBrat

Do it! :)

Doug F

I really like this tea as one of my everyday drinkers. It’s a very reliable work-horse of a tea. I find myself reaching for it fairly often when I just don’t feel like anything too exotic.

ScottTeaMan

It’s been a while since I’ve had this one, but I found it really good for the $$$!

Scott—THIS IS SCOTT. No, I’m not your inner voice, but right now I should be. Order the Damn tea! I implore you. I’ve missed out on quite a few teas because I kept “thinking” about it too long. This is one they restock yearly so you shouldn’t have trouble with that, but just DO IT! :))

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

88

I’m revisiting this one again this morning. It definitely has an interesting flavor profile (a blend of green and black teas). There are some definite savory notes here, today I am getting a bit of pepper in the finish. But it also is very moist on the palate and not too astringent. Enjoyable for me – but does not qualify as a “must have” item – see my previous notes for more info.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec
SimplyJenW

They only have samples of this left…..I have one arriving this afternoon. :D

TeaBrat

yay – I hope you enjoy it!

SimplyJenW

It will probably get lost in the black hole that is my sample bin….

TeaBrat

No – you have to drink it today. I want to see a full report, young lady!

SimplyJenW

LOL! I will try to work it in this week!

ScottTeaMan

Amy did you get the sample of this? Jen, I just ordered more and got one of the few samples left. :))

TeaBrat

No, I got the 50g size back in January…

ScottTeaMan

I was planning on ordering a 50g sample, but alas…….It is like what I was saying to Scott B yesterday about ordering a specific tea. If you wait too long or think about it too much, it could turn out that you miss a tea entirely. Sometimes a replacement may be available, other times-when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

80
drank Spearmint by Upton Tea Imports
2542 tasting notes

My review is for the coarse cut Egyptian organic spearmint. Like a lot of people, I purchased this one with the intention of mixing it with other things, like green tea, but I thought I would try drinking it plain tonight.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a straight tisane of spearmint but I’m enjoying it. Sometimes peppermint gives me reflux but the spearmint has a lot less menthol in it, which will be better for me. I steeped mine for 5 minutes in a large mug with about 1 tsb. of leaf, it is pretty strong. I felt the need to add a bit of agave to it. This is pretty nice though, I’m glad I bought it and will welcome it to my stash of herbal-y things. There isn’t a whole lot more to say. :)

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec
Uniquity

I’m a mint fiend, but I agree that spearmint is much gentler in terms of taste and reflux! Peppermint can set off ‘heartburn’ for me sometimes, but spearmint rarely does. All hail spearmint!

TeaBrat

yes, it is a lot more gentle, did not give me any problems at all… now to make some moroccan mint!

Scott B

Very nice. What type of tea base do you use? Or do you try different bases?

TeaBrat

I try different ones a lot. Herbs are great for mixing into things, I also like lemongrass, rose petals and verbena, those are some of my other faves.

Missy

What does verbena taste like?

TeaBrat

@Missy – it’s an herb with a citrusy kind of flavor, a bit lemon-lime but not tart.

Cheryl

We share the spearmint love!

Missy

Thanks! I’ve seen it around and wondered what it was like. I’ll have to give a whirl some day.

ScottTeaMan

I still have some of the organic spearmint harvested in the USA. I like spearmint alot, but not near as much as the aroma and taste of peppermint. Moroccan mint is often used with a green gunpowder base.

Scott B

How much spearmint would you add to a teaspoon of plain gunpowder green? I know everyone’s preference may be different, but I am looking for at least a starting point for experimentation.

TeaBrat

Try half and half…

Scott B

Okay, thanks.

Bonnie

If you need to order exotic mint to plant there’s a wonderful Organic Grower in Squaw Valley California that has zillions of herbs and mint varieties that ships everywhere. I received 8 types last year and saved the seeds. Amy is lucky to be in a city that has fresh herbs year round and the best organic market on the bay!

ScottTeaMan

I usually don’t blend green teas, half & half would be good for a spearmint/gunpowder tea, Maybe 2 to 1 for a gunpowder/peppermint tea, since peppermint is a stronger herb.

TeaBrat

Bonnie- I wish I had somewhere to plant things but I live in an apartment and can barely keep a houseplant alive. :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

93
drank Golden Monkey by Vital Tea Leaf
2542 tasting notes

This delicious golden monkey was the result of our tea tasting experience yesterday – if you’d like to read about that check out my new blog over on Tea Trade:

http://sanfrantea.teatra.de/2012/04/29/getting-vital-with-the-tea-leaf/

This is very dark and luscious for a golden monkey. The aroma of it reminds me a bit of the supreme red robe I also got from the Vital Tea Leaf. I am following the suggestions and steeping it for 30 seconds in the gaiwan with multiple infusions.

It is a bit smoky, with a sweetness like burnt caramel. If you let it steep longer it becomes a lot darker, but I like these shorter infusions. A very smooth tea with a moistening mouthfeel. This is yummy… or even yammy as it has a bit of roasted sweet potato flavor too.

Recommended if you ever get the chance to go there, as I don’t see this tea on their website.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec
Cheryl

Very nice (first) blog post … you have a knack for pithy.

TeaBrat

Thanks! I will take that as a compliment, as I’m not a fan of flowery language unless it comes from D.H. Lawrence. :)

Indigobloom

cool blog! the shop seems really neat. I like that the owner has so much character!

Cheryl

Compliment intended (agree).

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

97

This is the first year I have been so geeky about tea that I wanted to try a few first flush darjeelings as soon as they came out. OK, last year I’m not even sure I could tell you what a first flush was but I’m learning quickly. ;-)

This is a sample but it the most expensive one I got. I read there’s been a drought in the darjeeling region so this may affect the prices and availability of some teas.

The leaves of this tea are indeed still very green and look like the picture here. I noticed right away a fruity-flowery aroma. My impression of the nose of this tea are: vanilla, tropical fruit and a touch of anise. This is a great tea to savor because the nose is so very pleasant.

The color of this cup is medium yellow and very clear. I do agree with the pineapple description, it’s a bit sweet juicy fruit, but also a bit tart. As my cup cools, I am picking up on some more nuanced flowery notes as well as a slight butteriness, even.

I am not finding this to be very astringent like some other first flush darjeelings I’ve tried. I do believe this is an excellent selection from Upton and would be very tempted to buy more, although it is fairly pricy at $33/100g. I will certainly relish and savor what I have here. I’m thinking to myself, “OMG, this stuff is awesome!”

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

Now you see why I love Darjeelings! Their 2012 Darj’s are pricey, and I just choose not to pay $33-$40 for 100g of tea. A couple samples for sure. :)) Did you get any other samples from them?

Darjeeling teas have increased significantly for the last 3 to 4 years due to weather, fuel costs, plus at the tea auctions bidding wars for premium lots drive up the price, and increased demand globally for premium lots make them harder to buy in larger quantities-SIGH!!

I still love a good Darjeeling! Honestly, Thunderbolt Tea has impressed me with their Darjeelings lately-Good quality cost benefit IMO. :))

Cheryl

Eeep. As if my Upton wishlist needs to get any bigger, ha.

TeaBrat

Scott- I think I got three samples of FF darjeelings. Considering the amount of tea i have it’s probably better that I stick to small quantities. :)

@Cheryl – Right? I just want them to send me one of everything they have!

Cheryl

Me too. Me too. Don’t even want to think about what that would add up to.

Azzrian

Wow this sounds really really amazing!

ScottTeaMan

I am placing an order with Upton’s very soon, and wanted a relatively small order. I think I should stick to teas from a couple regions and mostly samples, otherwise the order will get out of hand!!

Then there is Teavivre, Bana, Mandala, Rishi…….my head is starting to spin.

Cheryl

Upton and Teavivre for me too. And only reason Bana and Mandala are even on my radar is Amy’s fault. But I need to prove I’m not OCD (only OD) so those sit on my (proving my patience) wishlist. Bana has nice samplers. Could use 2nd opinions for later Scott, lol.

ScottTeaMan

ok, hehhehe

Doug F

My Upton order is on the way. I went ahead and ordered 100 grams of the Sungma first flush and samples of others. I know it’s pricey, but it’s a once a year indulgence, then I’m on to the more affordable but still wonderful second flushes.

TeaBrat

@Triumph – yay! I will forward to hearing your thoughts on those.

ScottTeaMan

I did place a small order last night and got a sample of the Glenburn FF, along with some pre ching ming teas, and a few greens.

Azzrian

Lupicia just got added to my regular stash!

TeaBrat

There is a Lupicia store in San Francisco! It’s evil!

ScottTeaMan

why is Lupicia evil? :-D

ScottTeaMan

Heheheehe…….Amy, I just have to smile because I was thinking about your opinion of Darjeelings a few months ago compared to now. :)) I know astringency is a concern for you (me too sometimes), but FF Darjeelings being one of my favorite teas, I’m glad to see you enjoying them. :)) :)) :))

TeaBrat

Scott- this is all your fault!!! :-P

ScottTeaMan

Hehehehe…….as much as I like Darj’s, I also like a good Oolong, and the steeping factor for me is enjoyable. Darjeelings are not good for resteeping. I have tried resteeping them sometimes twice, but no more. I have had nice oolongs I resteeped 5-7 times-could’ve done more!

Pu-erhs are kinda like that too. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember Bana selling mainly Pu-erh teas, and I really want to buy their samplers. Based on your Mandala reviews they have some good Puerhs too, some sample sizes, and other teas as well. So I am kinda leaning toward Mandala right now. What do you think??

ScottTeaMan

BTW, I whish I’d gotten a sample of this Risheehat. ://

TeaBrat

@Scott – both companies are good for pu-erh, I don’t know if I could pick one over the other but Mandala has other things also.

Doug F

Yunnan sourcing is good too and they have great black teas. The selection can be overwhelming so you need to spend some time reading and comparing.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

90
drank Morning Sun by Mandala Tea
2542 tasting notes

the morning cuppa. I raised the rating a few points today, I am liking this stuff a lot. A strong tea with a sweet flavor – See previous notes for more info.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec
ScottTeaMan

i HAD TO GO BACK AND REREAD YOUR FIRST note, but this tea looks and sounds like a great one…….I have to give Mandala a closer look.

ScottTeaMan

Decent price for he qaulity.

TeaBrat

I have not been disappointed with them yet (Mandala). I think they have some great stuff!

ScottTeaMan

Any Puerhs from them you’d recommend? That’s a good price for the fatty cake.

TeaBrat

@Scott – so far I have liked all the puerhs I’ve tried from Mandala – they are in the database so check there for more deets. :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

95

I’m finally getting around to trying my sample of this today (thanks, G)

I really like the way this dry tea smells! It reminds me a bit of the pu-erhs I’ve been drinking which are flavored with the rice herb. I did give this a quick rinse in boiling water and now it smells earthy and sweet.

Steeping method: gaiwan.

1st steep: 30 seconds. A smooth and dark reddish-brown liquor. A very soil, rich kind of earthy with a definite sweetness bordering a bit on fruity. No off odors or flavors like fishiness are present. A hint of… tobacco perhaps?

2nd Steep: 10 seconds. Believe it or not, 10 seconds was plenty, especially for the way I feel like drinking it today. But it still got very dark! I’m getting a slight smokiness in the aroma here, kind of chewy in the flavor, nice forest floor aroma.

3rd steep: 30 seconds. I am starting to feel some of the invigorating effects of this tea. I did really need it today somehow. Even matching up my socks from the laundry is feeling like a chore. It has a very smooth feel in the mouth, which makes me want to sip on it slowly and linger around with it. Aside from earthy and smoky I feel like I’m getting a bit of raisin here.

It is fairly warm here today, which makes it hard for me to think about drinking more shu so I’m going to save the remainder of these leaves and experiment with cold brewing them.

This is a very nice offering from Mandala’s private pressing, I have enjoyed trying it and may need to get some more in the future. Good job…

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec
Garret

Amy! I’m really happy that you enjoyed this tea. I found this ripened material from 2007 and never even contemplated blending this with other leaf. I liked it all on its own as a grade 1 leaf. Bought every bit of it, pressed 300 cakes and kept 25 pounds as loose leaf. Thanks for writing about it. I had brought a cake of this for one of my hosts when I was in China these last few weeks and we brewed it up gong fu style there. I am happy to report that they loved it there in Kunming!! Funny to bring tea to China, I know :)

TeaBrat

Oh, as a side note I did cold brew my leftover leaves and enjoyed them the next day, they were really good that way!

ScottTeaMan

Amy, do you mean cold brewing leaves after hot steeps with the same leaves? Just wondering because I was thinking….‘Man, thems some hearty leaves!’. :))

TeaBrat

Scott- that’s exactly what I did.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

87

Since this tea is lightly malty, I decided to add a pinch of ceylon this morning for a bit of a breakfast blend. Pretty good combination. :) See my previous notes for more info.

Scott B

I’ve got about 5 samples that I am planning on ordering from Arbor and this is one of them-glad to see it getting good reviews.

TeaBrat

I think you will like it. It’s also fairly mellow.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

52
drank African Autumn by Harney & Sons
2542 tasting notes

This tea has not gotten very good ratings on Steepster so far and after trying this sample I can see why. The aroma of it reminds me of orange kool-aid or tang. Actually it was not as tart as I was afraid it would be due to both the cranberry and orange element. It really reminds me more of warm juice than tea.

I do not think there’s hibiscus in here but it is very tart, too tart for me. Not sure if I will finish the rest of this sample or what I will do with it, barely drinkable IMO… to be fair the other cranberry orange rooibos I’ve had also had a similar effect. I just do not think those are two things I care for very much in tea anyway.

ScottTeaMan

I was always skeptical about tryng this one.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

91
drank Lapsang Souchang by Mandala Tea
2542 tasting notes

Finally decided to rate it today, I like it. A lighter lapsang that has flavorful notes of smoke (duh), honey and also that sweetish/tangy barbeque type of flavor. Very clean and delicious! Would definitely get this one again… see previous notes.

ScottTeaMan

LS fom Mandala, or Hu Kwa from Mark T’s??

TeaBrat

I still like the Hu Kwa better for now

ScottTeaMan

Mandala has some really nice teas…….gonna purchase something at some point this year.

TeaBrat

Do it!!!

ScottTeaMan

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….Seriously, that’s how I laughed! I will, I’m just trying to dwindle my stash a little. :))

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Profile

Bio

My profile pic is of a pink dahlia at Golden Gate Park.

Hobbies include: tea, making art, animals, vegan things, buddhism, nature, creativity, books, writing, cooking, meditation, yoga.

I am a fan of many different teas but my favorites are blacks and oolongs, chai, also like darjeeling and pu-erh. I’n always learning and expanding my horizons!

Dislikes include: bergamot, jasmine, highly tannic or bitter teas, overly judgmental and bitter people. :)

Live in San Francisco, I’m a SINK (single income, no kids) and love the urban life, but traveling out to the middle of nowhere is always fun too.

I tend to not drink things I know I will hate so a lot of my tea ratings are on the higher side. Here’s my rating system, sorta

95-100 I love this tea and would like to keep it around

94-90 An excellent tea which I may or may not repurchase

89-80 Pretty good, above average

79-70 Acceptable

69-60 Mundane – Will probably drink it if I have it

59-50 Ick

49 and below Nasty

Location

San Frandisco

Website

http://sanfrantea.teatra.de

Following These People

Moderator Tools

Mark as Spammer