911 Tasting Notes

It has been a few weeks since I’ve done more than dip a toe into the Steepster pool. It’s been kinda rough – first a week-long visit to the in-laws, which really was nice… well, until I came down with the stomach flu. So battled that and after a week, I finally start feeling better and my kitty (who was 20 and I got when she was just a few months old) passed away. So yeah. Rough month lately.

For a while I wasn’t really branching out beyond CTG’s Keemun and Adagio’s Yunnan Golden Curls because I just couldn’t deal with thinking about new tea. But now things are better (which my computer corrected to butterfish???) now and I finally no longer feel like I’m wandering around in a fog. So it is time to start having a little tea fun.

I’m not really a big dancong fan, but I’m trying to develop an appreciate for the not-so-green oolongs. Thus, I got a little sample of this one.

It’s lovely. Creamy and sweet on the front end, fruity and honeyed on the back. The smell and taste bring to mind pouchong and milk oolongs, which is big mark in the plus column for me. Of the few dancongs I’ve had, I don’t think it’s going too far to say that this is probably the best one I’ve had. The others have seem too mild and delicate and soft. Pretty, yes. But faint, no matter how much leaf I used. This one has a good, noticeable taste that I don’t feel I need to concentrate hard just to taste. And the taste? Well, I’ve already mentioned it is lovely. It brings to mind tropical beaches and lush jungle and farmers markets (the peachy aspect, you know).

But it has helped me realize something: I don’t think I will ever love dancongs. The flavor? DELIGHTFUL! I made several oohs and ahhs while drinking this. But I think this type of tea just consistently has a bit of a drying aspect to it and that’s just not what I tend to go for in teas, especially ones that have such delightfully decadent front ends. I don’t think it is drying enough to be considered astringent, but it is drying enough to make me smack my lips together a bit after each sip to reline my mouth with saliva (which does bring out a lovely aftertaste in my mouth – very stone fruity and sweet – but still). And I just tend to go more for cuddly teas than refreshing ones.

That being said, I think for those more inclined to want refreshing or bright aspects to their tea, this one is pretty stellar.

(Oh, and PS – not giving this one a numerical rating because I can’t quite figure where it would fit – the dryness of the tea just makes me unenthusiastic about it but the flavor is deserving of massive enthusiasm. So yeah, torn.)

JacquelineM

I’m sorry to hear about your kitty. I remember talking about her and litter boxes for elder cats with you.

TeaBrat

I’m sorry too and I hope things are looking up for you!

Auggy

JacquelineM and Amy oh – Thanks. Things are getting better but yep, she has been a constant in my life since I was 13 so it’s up and down….

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89
drank Bi Luo Chun by Chicago Tea Garden
911 tasting notes

If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have said that I didn’t like Chinese greens pretty much as a general rule. To me, Chinese greens remind me of that time in college that I wondered about the little mineral stones I’d give my hamster and so I licked one of them. (It was a new one, if you were concerned. No hamster bits on it.) Salty, mineralish, briny, drying… I mean, I was glad my hamster liked it but it wasn’t something I wanted to include in my regular diet. Which, yeah, was pretty much my thought on Chinese greens (in both taste and dietary inclusion).

But stupid Chicago Tea Garden. Making me reevaluate my entire policy towards Chinese greens! How dare they?! I mean, first I had good success with their Lu Mu Dan Flowers. Then, more recently, I fell in love with their Wu Yu Jade Mist (which I just ordered 50g of, by the way). And now this sample. Dang it. I like it! I still like the Wu Yu more – it’s more nuanced and exciting to me – but this is a really tasty tea.

I think the main thing I like about this is the zero astringency bit. Sure, some tea descriptions will say that, but this tea actually delivers. Instead of having an astringent (or briny) endnote, this one is all smooth and sweet. The whole tea actually is smooth and sweet. And maybe a little bready – like a very light rye bread or something. So light (very pale) honey and a non-dark rye bread. That’s what this tea makes me think of. Yum!

And now my cup is empty. And I have to go refill it. And find a new stance for my Chinese green related tea thoughts.

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100

I had this last night and it had a little bitterness at the end. The bitterness wasn’t bad, actually – it balanced out the super-creaminess – but I still wanted to give it a shot with a shorter steep time to see what would happen.

Apparently, angles sing.

Seriously, y’all, this is so good. Creamy, milky, rich, vibrant, chlorophyl-y, a little citrusy towards the end. SO. GOOD. I thought it was tasty last night? It has nothing on how it is tonight.

It was probably the noisiest cup of tea I’ve had in quite a while, what with all the ‘oooh’ and ‘wow’ that was going on. The husband was staring at me with a confused look for a while until I offered him a sip. Then his eyes widened and suddenly he understood. Fantastic.
7.2g/7oz/155°/1min

ScottTeaMan

Awesome review Auggy. :))

gmathis

I never thought of tea as noisy, but I’ve had some cups like that recently, too!

Auggy

ScottTeaMan, Hehe! Thanks! And the shorter steep time totally did it so yay!
gmathis, It’s nice to have those noisy cups!

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100

I’ve been on a bit of green tea kick lately, mostly because I have a fair amount of it that I want to make sure is gone before shincha preorder time rolls around. This one isn’t next in the rotation for what one to open – there are others that I’ve had around longer that are probably getting kind of old – but I just couldn’t resist anymore.

Is it just me or does all sencha smell delicious when you open it up? I just adore that smell. Anyone know if they make sencha scented candles? Because it has to be one of my favorite smells ever. This one is grass and butter, or maybe cream. Sniffing again post-steeping, I get chlorophyl and pumpkin.

The taste is smooth, creamy, mild but thick, full of chlorophyl and milk. There’s a sharp bit of bitterness on the end but pleasantly no astringency (which usually seems to go hand in hand with bitterness in green tea but also something I’m not a fan of). Maybe the bitterness comes is from too much leaf? Though in some ways it is a nice contract to the heavy silky smoothness of the rest of the sip and it isn’t overly strong or too overwhelming. Actually, the more I sip it, the more I kind of like that brief flash of bitterness. It gives the tea a nice balance and keeps it from being too rich.

This actually reminds me a bit of Samovar’s Ryokucha but only in that I so love Ryokucha’s milky note – it’s what made me fall in love with it – and this has a stronger, creamier milky note. It’s not something I often get in green tea but it’s totally there in this one.

Uhm, I accidentally kind of chugged my cup. I kept meaning to put it down and sip, but I just couldn’t make the cup leave my hand. And I think this one officially goes down as one of the fastest I’ve rushed to the teapot for a resteep.

The second steep (instant pour) has a bit more “normal” taste to it. There’s still some creamy but it is more in the aftertaste (and more in line with the amount I get from Samovar’s Ryokucha). The bitterness is still there, lasting for a little hint longer but not quite as punchy. There’s also a stronger pumpkin (or maybe acorn squash?) note to it.

And suddenly my cup is empty yet again. Sigh. I’m not sure if I need a third steep of a strong sencha at almost 10pm at night…. But this is a truly tasty tea. It’s not the most nuanced sencha I’ve come across, but it ranks up there. And it’s got the milky taste, which I find really pleasing and unique. Right now I can say that I am a bit infatuated with this tea. And if it keeps giving me what it has given me tonight, I think that’s going to develop into a case of full blow love. ♥
6g/6oz/155°/1:30

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33
drank Soho Earl by Talbott Teas
911 tasting notes

Today is not going my way. My notices page won’t open (and not being able to clear the little red 20 is annoying the piss out of me), my house smells of grain mash (the husband is making beer – the smell in itself isn’t bad, but after three plus hours, it gets a little (okay, a lot) overwhelming), one of my kitties is stoned out of her mind because she has a very bad bladder infection (apparently she didn’t respond to antibiotic number one, but I still feel like a bad mommy for letting it get so bad) and I feel bored and fidgety. I need tea.

Sadly, I think I picked the wrong one with this one because apparently The Soho Earl wears a lot of perfume. Or uses a lot of citrus-scented cleaning products. The scent of this alone makes it somewhat difficult for me to drink. It just smells so artificial and wrong. Getting past the smell into the actual taste, though, and it’s okayish. Sweet, almost candied citrus with some orange peel bitterness thrown in (too much, actually, but at least the bitterness is realistic, unlike the rest of the flavor). It has a very noticeable orange-ish flavor. I say orange-ish, not bergamot, because bergamot seems a bit darker of a citrus flavor than this. This is more candy orange/citrus than sophisticated bergamot/citrus. Not quite those orange gummy slices you get at the gas station orange flavored. And now I’m thinking of those circus peanuts my parents used to always get at the gas station. I don’t think it tastes like those either, but for some reason my mind is screaming at me, “CIRCUS PEANUTS!!!! THEY’RE ORANGE!!! LIKE THIS TEA TASTES!!! CIRCUS PEANUTS!!!”

Must reign in my brain a bit….

Okay, this actually makes me think of Constant Comment, when I make it for iced tea for the husband. I don’t ever drink it, but this tea still reminds me of the smell. I can’t say I’m a fan of this one. Maybe the husband will like it enough to drink the rest.

Stephanie

Ew.. Circus Peanuts! I’ve always thought they look yummy but taste stale and icky.

Auggy

Agreed! They always seemed like a good idea at the time but then I’d eat one and I was done. Better in thought than in practice!

Dinosara

I know what you mean about the notices… mine flipped out a while back and while it eventually loaded again I still have 5 notices I can’t get to. And not being able to clear them kind of drives me nuts!

Ninavampi

Aw… Hope Kitty gets better soon! Bladder infections are not fun! No worries, you are very much a good mommy for taking care of her! : )

Auggy

Dinasara, Ack! Don’t say that! Having notices I can’t clear might cause my brain to explode!
Ninavampi, Aw, thanks! I hate seeing my kitties unhappy. She’s currently making little grumpy noises as she tries to get the taste of the antibiotic out of her mouth… it smells like fake banana so I don’t imagine it tastes good.

JulieH

You must have had a bad day because SoHo Earl is my favorite earl grey tea. You inspired me to reach out to the people at Talbott to see if there is anything artificial in the tea, and they confirmed that it’s all natural.

Auggy

JulieH, Yes, Talbott does use natural flavors, but that just means that the flavors are derived from natural things, not that the end result is anything one would consider natural. I actually have to be more careful with added natural flavors than artificial flavors due to my food allergies.

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drank Spicy Chocolate by Kusmi Tea
911 tasting notes

This one is a freebie teabag that was put in my recent(-ish) Kusmi order. I’m not a huge spice-in-my-tea type girl, but hey, always up for trying stuff. (Well, almost always.) And I do enjoy Lindt’s Chili dark chocolate so who knows!

The smell is more cinnamon spicy than cayenne spicy (and I was anticipating/wanting more cayenne so that’s kind of uninspiring). The chocolate is there in the smell, somewhere between a cocoa and a not-so-creamy, kind of cheap milk chocolate. So far this isn’t looking good.

The taste isn’t all that… well, all that anything. It’s a bit warm spicy. Warmer than cinnamon, not as warm as cayenne. The chocolate… isn’t. I mean, maybe there is a faint hint of it but it’s more like Tootsie Roll chocolate than chocolate bar chocolate and the strength is more like licking the wrapper than eating the Tootsie Roll.

All in all, it’s just kind of boring. It’s not bad. But it’s not great either. It’s not going to turn me into a spicy-in-my-tea fan but it’s not going to turn me off of tea, either. I give it a solid ‘meh’.

(By the way, is it just me or are notices not working? I mean, the little red number shows up but I can’t get to the page to see them detailed.)

__Morgana__

What you said is pretty much exactly how I felt about this, though I probably like spices in tea a bit more than you do — if I didn’t focus on the lack of chocolate flavor it was a decent spice tea.

Auggy

I did like the warmth of the spices, that was nice. But I felt like it needed more oomph in a flavor other than spice to make it a good tea, you know? Give it a little depth or something.

__Morgana__

Yeah, in general I have found that the things that Kusmi does well they do very very well, and they things they don’t are kind of fair to middling.

Ninavampi

I really need to get around to trying Kusmi…

Auggy

Morgana, I think that’s a fair assessment of Kusmi. And I seem to have the same complain for the fair to middling ones – kind of bland/no depth.
Ninavampi, Check your PMs! :)

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51
drank Cucumber White by Tazo
911 tasting notes

I’m really not a huge white tea fan, nor a huge Tazo fan. But I had the chance to try a new-to-me tea so I took it. This was that tea.

I’m really not expecting much, so my lack of disappointment probably reflects more on that than the tea, but it really isn’t bad. I mean, it’s not great, but it’s quite drinkable. It has a fairly uneventful taste. I don’t really taste any cucumber (but really, what does cucumber taste like but wet, cold, crisp and fresh which, now that I’ve said that, I guess I do kinda taste). I don’t really taste any white tea either. No wait, I take that back. There might be some white tea vegetal-ness in the very back of the taste. Most of the taste is lime-ish citrus with a little warm spice tingle at the end. It gives it a kind of fresh, lively taste. Sort of summery, though weirdly bland at the same time. (I’m guessing that is from the teabag-ness? Or maybe the fact that I just steeped for one minute.)

Anyway, this honestly doesn’t taste all that white tea (or any kind of tea, actually) to me and I think if you go into this expecting white tea, you’ll probably be disappointed. But it’s a decently respectable (and unusual) teabag herbal.

Angrboda

It seems to be super-fashionable to flavour tea with cucumber these days. I must admit I can’t really see the appeal at all. Especially not after Ricky shared that cucumber white from Adagio with me. That was horrid.

Someone once gave me a sample box of Tazo bags. I think it had maybe twenty different bags in it or something. There wasn’t a single one of them that I liked. Some were tolerable and the others were full of the dreaded hibiscus. It was years ago, but it was a sufficiently bad taste experience to turn me off the brand completely.

Auggy

Hmm. I don’t see the appeal either. Cucumber is so non-flavorful. And OMG, wasn’t that Adagio cucumber tea weird and horrid?

I can see how massive amounts of Tazo could turn one off of the brand entirely. Thankfully this one wasn’t bad. I don’t think I’d intentionally buy it or anything, but very drinkable (and hibiscus free!).

Angrboda

It was! I have rarely been subjected to something so vile. O.O For a while I was fairly curious about those Adagio blends with sweet potato and whatever the others were, I forget, mostly because they sounded so bizarre, but after trying the cucumber, I rather lost interest. I prefer my cucumbers raw or pickled, thank you. Absolutely no exceptions.

Yes, that was a flop indeed. The sender wasn’t a tea drinker himself, I think his thought was just to send me something that I couldn’t get in Denmark. So I got the Tazo box and some variety boxes of Celestial Seasoning, only one of which was actual tea. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts and he did his best and such.

Auggy

I liked the toasted sesame since it made me think of unadon (grilled eel rice bowl), which is one of my favorite Japanese dishes. But still, that’s pretty weird.

I suppose I am naive, but part of me really believes that there could be hidden tea gems in the mass market teabag lines, like Tazo or Stash. I’m probably wrong, but my optimistic nature continues to believe.

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77
drank Grapefruit by Lupicia
911 tasting notes

How is it that I like this tea? I mean, I typically try to avoid any hint of bitterness or tartness in my teas and I don’t even like grapefruit because it is too tart and strongly flavored. And yet I find this tea delightful.

I think perhaps because it tastes like what I wish grapefruit did.

I love the smell of grapefruit – sweet, tart, citrusy – it’s great. But the taste? Yuck. Too much of a mouth-pucker quality. But maybe that’s why I like this. It has the great smell of grapefruit – a rather true-to-life one, I think, specifically if I think of the slightly sweeter smelling pink grapefruit. But the taste is mild and light. Just sweet and citrusy and fresh with a little tiny tingle of tart. (Slurping does bring out a weird, almost grape flavor. I think I’ll pass on that in the future.)

As with most Lupicia flavored teas, this one isn’t for someone hoping to get knocked off of their feet with flavor. It’s soft, almost delicate. Personally, I’m all for it, especially on a potentially overwhelming flavor like grapefruit, but it’s not for everyone. Though I will say the husband did like it saying, “It has the aroma and slight bite of it that blends in perfectly with the normal tea-ish flavor but it isn’t brash like some of the others we have had.” He’s getting so fancy in his tea tasting. :)

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81

I’m sick (fighting off a sinus infection… again) so this will be short(er than normal).

Bagged version of this tea, another new offering from my grocery store. First off, I don’t really like Le Palais De Thes’ teabags. They have a really thick string which wicks tea like crazy. If I leave the little tag at the end of the string on the side of the cup, by the time my tea is done steeping, there is a puddle of tea underneath the cup where it has wicked out of the cup, soaked into the tag and run down the side of the cup. Very annoying.

That being said, what’s in the teabag is pretty tasty. This reminds me a lot of A&D’s Tiger – smooth but with enough stoutness that it would not be defeated by a dash of milk, sweet and a bit honeyed. It’s a little more… floral? than Tiger was. Definitely a big thumbs up for a bagged tea.

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec

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40

More random tea that is newly available in my grocery store. This one came in a Talbott Tea sampler box with six different teas, two teabags of each. The teabags are quite alright – they remind me a lot of Lupicia’s but they don’t seem quite as silky. They do have about as much tea per bag as Lupicia’s though. 3.1g for this one. Good job Talbott.

The smell reminds me of ROT’s Strawberry Chocolate herbal. I don’t think that one is a great tea, but I like it enough to buy it from the grocery store when I need something herbal-y so it’s decent enough. I suppose there are worse things to smell like.

Hmm. I think the ROT tastes better. At least it tastes more chocolate strawberry. This is mostly tea with a faint (super-faint) note of strawberry towards the end. The aftertaste has a sort of musty sock thing going on that, if you tilt your head and squint, might be considered somewhere in the chocolate family. Not a good part of the chocolate family but still, I’m feeling generous so I’ll count it.

The tea itself isn’t offensive or anything. It’s smooth and a little silky and mild with no astringency or bitterness. That’s nice. As it cools, almost to room temperature, more of the strawberry and chocolate flavors come out but it’s still not overly noticeable.

I can’t help but think that this wants to be a plus-chocolate type Marco Polo but it just doesn’t make it up there. Once it cools down quite a bit it’s closer in taste to the flavor of the ROT, but 1) honestly, that’s not something to aspire to and 2) the aftertaste still makes me think of wet socks. Not wet dirty socks, but still, wet socks.

So yeah, nice try but for once I think I prefer an herbal.

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Bio

I’m trying to be a better tea logger and actually post semi-regularly again! I’ve let my tea tasting senses become too complacent – it’s time for some focused and attentive tea drinking!

Sometimes my notices for PMs and such have been questionable. Email me at your own risk at aug3zimm at gmail dot com.


1 – 10 – Bleck. Didn’t finish the cup.
11 – 25 – Drinkable. But don’t punish me by making me have it again.
26 – 40 – Meh. Most likely will see if the husband likes it iced.
41 – 60 – Okayish. Maybe one day I’ll kill off what I have in my pantry.
61 – 75 – Decent. I might pick some up if I needed tea.
76 – 85 – Nice. I’d probably buy but wouldn’t hunt it down.
86 – 100 – Yum! I will hunt down the vendor to get this tea!

Not that anyone but me particularly cares, but there it is.

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Texas

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http://pinkness.danzimmermann...

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