This smells like hot cider… Why does this smell like hot cider? It’s not just the cup either, the wet leaves in the tea maker smell uncannily like apple cider. Husband made a face and says it tastes floral, not so much but it had a sharpness early on that mellowed in the cup. It’s growing on me… Second steep with a quarter teaspoon of rock sugar, removes the one note I dislike and replaces it with light sweetness and it still smells of cider. I like this… it’s a Ceylon… and an Assam… and a Breakfast Tea… and I like it, my goodness what is going on with the world?
297 Tasting Notes
Drinking this and Leadenhall (an Assam & Ceylon) side by side and at first I definitely preferred this, smoother, less brisk, drinking back and forth definitely brings out the spice. I knew the husband would like this one better because of the Yunnan, even if he didn’t know. I insisted on adding a sample to our order and had to coerce him into trying a sip of each tonight (he’s so resistant to being educated). I suppose he just wants to enjoy a cuppa, which I understand and respect, just not quite enough to get him to play a guessing game first. Anywho it did end up being his preference of the two and he asked for a second steep, this time with milk and sugar. It’s good, but there’s something in the Leadenhall that I like.
I don’t believe I have tried this on its own since the first time I went through the tea wall at work. Normally I either pair this with Spice of Life or Black Dragon Pearls, though I also have an “oops blend” of Taj Masala. Anywho I am trying this today by itself with no additives, because I want to make room in my tins and I feel like reviewing something but brewing without ceremony (which rules out everything in my new Verdant order that arrived this morning and am omgs dying to get into but feel like I need people to share with!).
So three teaspoons in the perfect tea maker with 16 oz of water at 195F for three minutes yields a surprisingly rich, complex and sweet cup. I normally take my chai with honey or rock sugar but my gods this is really good on its own. I don’t necessarily taste the oolong here but the cinnamon, nutmeg and clove balance each other really well. I get the pepper and a hint of cardamom (but I think I scooped quite a few pods out of the top of the tin when I was making a custom blend). So yes very pleased, wish I had drank more of this on its own over the winter, but oh well. Edit: I got three very flavorful infusions out of this, did not attempt a fourth but I imagine quite a bit of flavor would still translate if not as strongly.
This tea is really wonderful for pairing my two favorite blends are with Teavana’s White Ayurvedic Chai and their Maharaja Chai Oolong. On its own it feels watered down, I feel it lacks body. Currently I am drinking it with a Coconut Chai Green Tea by Zhena’s Gypsy Tea (which is also on the lighter side and has promise for pairing). Their nice together for a cool spring after dinner tea, I’m looking for creative ways to use up my spice teas as most will be a year old when I want to drink them again in the fall. I didn’t sweeten this blend though I find Spice of Life usually benefits from a teaspoon of rock sugar. Anywho going to watch Immortals with the husband as the boy has fallen asleep against my arm.
This smells and tastes very familiar, though I’m pretty sure I’ve had nothing quite like it. I actually have never had a green spice tea. White, oolong, black, mate and rooibos sure, but not green. I think they probably work better in this coconut and ginger context, its light a zesty and spring like and I think some citrus would compliment this very well, perhaps I shall steep with some Wild Orange and maybe experiment with the packet of Fruta Bomba Green I got in a gift set (it has mango). I can’t see myself drinking many "chai"s until fall, the closest thing I drank last summer was Cha Yen Thai, so good iced.
But anywho, back to this tea, its quite perfumey and there’s something almost medicinal about it, but not in a bad way it’s quite light. Cardamon is with out a doubt the most predominant spice. I don’t necessary “taste” the coconut, but I feel the creaminess it lends. The ginger is nice and reminds me of the green bottles of organic Ginger Brew I used to love. As for the green tea base :shrug: doesn’t really come through, so can’t tell if it’s quality. I picked this up from the grocery store on a whim and because it had a nice tin. No regrets, its enjoyable, but I won’t rate as no one has before and that would skew things majorly, plus I’m not really in much of a ratings mood. But thanks to logging I have some fun plans for these bags, will post the Fruta Bomba blend when I make it.
I’ve been playing around with the steeping time and proportions of this tea in the last three days, to find something to write about, today has the best results, but I think I shall try two minutes as well. This cup started off unexpectedly sweet, followed by some veg, then some rocky acidity (like tasting the soil), finished with nuttiness (though not as chestnut as I remember it being over the summer). Deeper in the cup there is indeed a bit of butterynes which is a lovely surprise, oh the roof of my mouth… I love this feeling. I have not gotten a good second steep from this and have not attempted a third, but will keep working with it, as I have plenty in my Forbidden Kingdom Collection and access as work.
Yesterday I finally put my two weeks notice in at work, though it may be three weeks as my manager asked as she left for evening if it was okay that she had put me on the next schedule, I was just like well… if you need me… she said she may adjust it. I will miss the free tea, the discount and my co-workers. I will not miss trying to push tea by the pound in over priced tins and feeling pressured to stalk my guests, thank you very much! She said I was welcome to come back in the fall, um no thanks, but maybe, just maybe for the holidays.
Back logging from yesterday when I had a horrible migraine, that kept me in bed at my parents house, while they entertained my son, most of the day. When the husband came and rescue us, we came home and I brewed this. I have two supplies of this. One in the long green tin pictured above that I got on sale 75% off (all my customers bought one too because hello $7! The other is in the Forbidden Kingdom Collection, also on sale, which is the one I chose to open. There was .64 ounces in the tiny foil bag that I thought could not possibly pour into the small square tin. It is actually a lot of tea as some of the leaves are over 3 inches long.
I really did forget just how large they were, we tried it once at work over the summer when we had first gotten them in. Our barista made the brewing seem complicated and let them sit too long waiting for the leaves to dance. It didn’t result in a bitter brew, just a very bland one. But this tea is meant to be brewed in glass and is perfect in my glass infuser mug. I simply preheated, then poured the water against the wall of the mug and voila! Beautiful phoenix dancing! Though honestly it reminds me more of mermaids as the long green leaves move like kelp but either way, beautiful.
I steeped for 1 min, though next time I’ll try it for 2 as the reviewer above mentioned fruit notes I didn’t get. What I did get was sweet, very very sweet, only green tea I’ve had that was possibly sweeter was Fuji served at NoodleCat which I need to go back to both for the noodles and to get the name of the woman who locally supplies their tea. But yes, very sweet, but not much else going on, sure the brewed leaves smell vegetal, but there’s not a hint of it in the brewed cup. Subsequent steeps were mild as well. Still this was lovely to watch brew and to sip on and well worth the price.
I have a tin and a half of this from the heavenly sale. I thought it might be nice to have a less vegetal green in the house for the husband, though I believe he has yet to try it. Of the greens I’ve been drinking these last two days it is certainly the least vegetal, it also feels the least sweet which. I know this is described as sweet and smokey and I’ve described it as such myself, but I’m not really getting that in this cup. Mostly I’m getting flowery and dry and something that is reminding me of Bai Mu Dan. Maybe it’s the pepper others have mentioned.
Earlier in the cup I was questioning why I liked it enough to buy a tin of it. I didn’t drink it that often at work when it was available. But later in the cup I found a dry sophistication that reminds me of Darjeeling (minus the sour bits) so I suppose that’s it, it made me feel sophisticated. I still have Tai Ping, Dragonwell and Huang Shan Mao Feng left to review of the Teavana Chinese greens, but that won’t be tonight. 50th tasting note, whoo!
Update 5/5/2012: I brewed this alongside Teavana’s Song Zhen Needle (another green from the Tea Prosperity gift set) and Emperor’s Cloud and Mists. This was the clear looser. I’m going to give the tea and everyone who liked it the benefit of the doubt and say the leaves are probably just too old as most of the good reviews were written a year ago. For Teavana’s only USDA certified organic tea, it tastes the least fresh and natural.
I would imagine that SimpliciTEA’s suspicion about this being a SpecialTea’s variety is quite right as it was the odd certified one and was retired this year. I will attempt cold brewing this and maybe upping the temp to 180 once but I’ve decided it’s not worthy to send to Angrboda as she is trying to be turned onto greens and I feel this could only turn someone off. Emerald Buds you are simply not worthy, which is unfortunate as I have so much of it.
However if there is anyone who did like this and would like to confirm or deny my suspicion that it’s an old batch, I’d be glad to send it off. The good news is that Clouds and Mists surprised me with lovely fruity notes today. Song Zhen was once again just meh, so that eliminates two out of 12 greens.
This is the only tea in the Tea Prosperity Collection that is currently available on Teavana’s wall and I have drank it at work countless times over the summer, though Gyokuro has become my go to green in the last six months. It’s lovely curly little leaves smell super sweet and a mix between veg and floral candy.
The first sip of this disappoints me, I feel it’s a tea that needs to sit to develop its sweetness and in subsequent steeps there is some slight smoke, otherwise it’s a tad astringent. Second cup smells more fragrant, floral, but I can’t pin point it. There’s something chalky here and now I know why I preferred this iced with Taracco Ruby Orange over the summer or hot with Silver Needle. After the third steep I think I’ll move on to the Yunnan Emerald Buds.
Update 5/5/2012: this tea really surprised me today with a wonderful fruity aroma in the brewed leaves and the first cup that I have decided reminds me of POM (pomegranate juice). Quite nice, sweet and vegetal with just a hint of fruit. Three steeps at 15-30 sec each.
The leaves are small, slender, silver and grey and smell very floral. Brewed leaves are golden green and vegetal. Starts off light, sweet and nutty. Gains a twinge of bitter and for a second I think it’s going to turn spicy, but instead deepens a bit in mouth feel and reveals some veg. There’s something a tad unorganic tasting here. Second steep is bitter so I cut the steep time, third is more veg but still bitter, down the drain and moving on ::shrug::
Incredibly deep emerald leaves that smell of candied flowers and rain yield a pale green cup with a sweet thick mouth feel. This is closer to Gyokuro than any Chinese greens I’ve tried and has a bit of chalkiness to it that calls to mind Matcha. However this feels darker, deeper and cooler. There is no warm butteryness to speak of, though there is certainly quite a bit of veg. Second steep was slightly bitter as it strained too slowly, but really wasn’t that bad. Third steep held up to veggie pizza and is really, really reminding me of matcha, odd.
After drinking three cups of kukicha/twig tea I decided to compare. Their kukicha is described as toasted while this is roasted and of course leaves rather than stems. There is a similar quality for sure, though it is less sweet, has a hint of bitterness and some underlying veg. I will withhold rating as I want to try lowering the water temp but for now this is something I wouldn’t repurchase, but I would seek loose leaf to try.
Was shopping at Giant Eagle this morning with the toddler, went down the tea aisle for some crackers (hazelnut nut thins) when I decided to glace at the tea. Twinings did have some tins of loose leaf but nothing excited me, I thought about getting some Irish Breakfast for the husband but passed. Their Prince of Wales and another brand’s Lapsang Souchong tempted me as well but they were both bagged.
Then there was another curved section with organic teas. Stash caught my eye and got me excited (as I’ve seen people log about it on here) but I didn’t like any of the choices. However this and Choice’s bancha made their way into my cart along with another brand’s coconut chai green tea (mainly because it had a nice tin).
So yes this is bagged, but its twigs and organic, so how important can whole leaf be in this case? The fannings are still smaller than I would have thought, but I’d have to order some loose leaf kukicha to compare. I disregarded their brewing instructions, boiling for 4-5 mins no thank you. If it hadn’t said it was twigs and leaves I might have gone for it. I brought the water to 180ish and steeps for about 2 mins (I watched and smelled and when it was brown and sweet I pulled the bag).
But this is actually quite delightful. Its roasty and nutty and sweet and I think the husband is actually going to love it, which is a miracle because although he loves Japanese culture (studied it in college) he doesn’t care for their food or green tea. There is something in both the smell and the taste that does remind me of coffee, but a really light coffee with some hazelnut soy creamer. Will also have to take this into work to share, but really I can see myself buying this again (convenience certainly plays a role in that).
I decided to revisit this tea at work on Sunday. My tastes have been evolving and I wanted to approach this from a new perspective and with shorter steeps. I wrote this off as too roasted and fragrant nine months and again two months ago during a tasting. I stuck to green oolongs until I discovered Oriental Beauty and even then preferred Teavana’s Emerald Dan Cong and Verdant’s Phoenix Mountain (both of which I need to try again soon). But the two 30 sec steeps I had the other day were roasty toasty deliciousness without being over powering. I can’t say I got peach or floral but I thoroughly enjoyed them and saved the leaves to take home in a cup, but someone pitched them. I have a serving at home saved for a tasting, but will likely revisit soon.
I need to resteep this a few more times before I come to any conclusions, but I’m all pu-erhed out for the night. Rinsed twice. First steep was nice and woodsy, bit nutty but with a nice mouthfeel. Next two were thick and a bit artichokey or as a co-work described it “asparagus cooked in bacon”, but I get the lime notes. Fourth had some bite but cooled down nice and left a minty freshness in my mouth.
Edit: continued infusion Sunday morning and really should have taken the leaves to work because I’m drinking again Monday morning. I did a quick rinse to wake the leaves up both mornings and I think that paid off well. Yesterday I got a delicious sweetness that at first I thought was cocoa (it definitely has developed some black tea notes when Saturday it felt kids oolong) and then it happened, the bubble gum. And it’s still in this seventh… Maybe eighth infusion this morning along with some pepper. It is most enjoyable, though I would pass up drinking steeps two and three in the future. I need to share this with more people so I can do smaller, quicker, and ultimately more steeps in a sitting. But now to enjoy this cup before work. Dread.
Dry leaf smells like horses (a good thing, I miss riding growing up) but oddly enough not so barny as the few other pu-erhs I’ve smelled. Leaves are loose, long and dull brown with a bit of variation. This is my second time trying it and opted for shorter steeps this time. May go with longer at a lower temp next time as this was still quite astringent but not very “full”. Had to add a few crystals of sugar to get through the second steep and tossed half of the third cup (and yes I did rinse). Will revisit more in-depth. But really I just wanted to say it smells like horses.
Necessity is the mother of invention. I went to make Baker Street Afternoon Blend for my husband and I and found we had less than a teaspoon left of it. I should have reached for the Keemun and added jut a pinch of Lapsang. Instead I reached for the Lapsang (half a teaspoon) and rounded it out with Nine Dragon for the husband. Too smokey for him though I thought it was lovely. On the second steep I decided to add some clove and cardamon from my Maharaja Chai Oolong tin, taking inspiration from Cara McGee’s Sherlock Blend on Adagio. Now this is delicious! Buttery smooth beginning with a strong middle and dry finish, smokey with a deep sweetness like tobacco and a hint of spice. Second steep (third for the tea but only second since adding the spice) tastes just like clove gum, but as such lacks in tea body. Rowan had some of the first infusion and said “hmm what’s it taste like mommy? hmm, tastes like tea” which is interesting as almost any straight white, green or oolong he says “tastes like raspberry”, clearly this was nowhere close to raspberry ;)
Was looking at greens on Adagio and had a craving for something smokey, I thought of pulling out the Yunnan Emerald Buds but remembered the last time I burnt it and grabbed my tin of this instead. This was one of the last teas I picked up from the Heavenly Tea sale, we had bags of it arrive midway through the sale once most of the retired teas were sold. The large bags were labeled Huang Shan Mao Feng but we weighed it out and printed labels with Emerald. The supposed reason behind this is that one of the “gardens” we work with had an excess of this tea and asked if we wanted to include it in our sale.
So yes I would say its a lower quality version of HSMF though the leaves are whole they are smaller (usually a good thing) and greener, they are also less twisted and golden hued and taste less creamy and nutty. I don’t think they can hold up to being brewed 5-7 times like the Huang Shan (I’m only on three). However I do think this is sweeter and when I tried it in the store it seemed like a sweet smoke, but I don’t get than at home. What I do get is sweetened roasted nuts like they sell at fairs. There’s really no salinity and I can’t pin point a particular nut. There’s also some veg but its light, maybe sugar snap peas. Don’t feel like assigning it a number right now, its very drinkable (which is good as I probably have 6 oz to go through) but its nothing spectacular.
After the Nine Dragon this morning I had a desire for another black. I thought about the two from the prosperity set, but then glanced over at the two tins of this I picked up the Heavenly Sale. I had bought a tin for my husband for Father’s Day at 40% off and he liked it so I couldn’t pass up the 75% off after the holidays, however he told me he doesn’t drink it often enough. I may give the third bag to my brother-in-law when he runs out as I bought him one after Christmas, he loved it and bought a second, but you can bet I’m keeping the tins.
On to the tea, I’ve tried it before, but I don’t think I’ve had a full cup. I always had the impression that you could leave it at the bottom of the cup, but the directions are a bit unclear, yes it says you don’t need a strainer and that it steeps for 2 to 3 mins and you can reuse it but it doesn’t say keep adding water or remove, so I removed on the first steep and left it in on the second. The first was much better, richer, more chocolaty, a really good black tea. The second was more like Nine Dragon, more honey and dry. May try a third steep as I usually don’t like second steeps in general.
Not a whole lot to say about this tea this morning. It’s my husband’s favorite and I brewed him a pitcher of it iced yesterday so this morning I’m just doing a third infusion on the leaves. Unsure if it will be too weak or strong as it is a later steep but has more leaves for the concentrate I made. Not getting very distinct notes of say honey or pepper but it has great body and a very nice mouthfeel. Will do a proper review with the first two infusions at a later point. Personally I prefer Black Dragon Pearls for its cocoa notes and Yuan Dynasty Golden Tips for honey, I think our Golden Monkey is over rated but would love to try others and more varieties of Yunnan and Fuijan blacks and introduce the husband to them as this is discontinued (but we have somewhere between one and a half to two pounds left). Mmm after letting it sit a bit to write, the honey has definitely come through but so has a bit of dryness so :shrug:
I was very surprised when I opened the bag inside the tin to find neon green powder coated tea leaves, though I had guessed it wasn’t just match when I felt the bag. This brews up the same neon green. Yeah… not nearly as smooth and sophisticated as Gyokuro Imperial and not as sweet and thick as Imperial Grade Matcha (the latter is ground from the former’s leaves, talking strictly Teavana here), so not the best of both worlds taste wise.
Sure its not horrible but it reminds me more of Gyokuro Genmaicha, in its toasty nuttiness (but not the nuttiness used to describe Chinese greens) and I’m not a fan of genmaicha. Not digging the chalky mouthfeel either. I turned the majority of the first steep into an iced tea with local blackberry honey as I was quite warm. Drinking the second infusion warm as the husband turned the air on when he got home.
I would not buy this if it was offered outside out the gift set, but it does make me look forward to ordering some DavidsTea’s Gyokuro Yamashiro when its back in.. wait it is in stock, but surely it must be last year’s harvest, right? It seems Mellow Monk’s Top Leaf has surpassed it in ratings so will have to order both, later…
Forgot to log this a few days ago but I wrote a note in my phone:
Silver white buds and large twisted black leaves like a roasted oolong and yes some olive if you look close enough, but the first thing I noticed was the beautiful contrast. I don’t know what to make of this. It smells like a light sweet rich bean. Taste is sweet and something not cocoa but similar, something reminds me of coffee beans but it doesn’t taste anything like a cup of coffee granted I don’t drink coffee, maybe it’s just the roast, except it doesn’t tasted roasted. Sweet front, a coolness, good mouthfeel and spice at then some dryness at the back. I like it. (I did multiple steeps of this but didn’t take notes, I remember it maintaining some sweetness and picking up a bit of spice but I don’t think it got vegetal, I remember thinking this is a pretty good example of tasting the soil and weather of where the tea was grown. I do however remember wanting to be more impressed and will probably search for another Moonlight on here that is rated higher.
So I brought this to work yesterday and brewed it side by side with Teavana’s only straight pu-erh (Nan Nuo Shan) which is limited to an expensive gift set that is currently sold out after being on sale. I let everyone smell the dried leaves of this and the other Verdant sample packs. They were impressed that they didn’t smell sickening sweet like Strawberry Slender. However when it came to tasting only one of my co-workers liked them. I should have used less tea, rinsed twice and done short steeps (but i couldnt connect to the website in the back room). I rinsed once and did a 3min steep and both the teas were bold, bitter, bitey and dry.
However this one had a nice smoke thing going on and I had to do a second infusion, this time only 30 sec and the results were much better. The smoke was still present and there was a nice creamy mouthfeel with just a hint of butter. I get the redwood and on my third and forth steep I got the licorice root and mint so yay! I do like this and have just enough for a second session. I probably won’t be repurchasing soon for the price but I would probably buy another sample for a tasting. Next weekend we’ll try the two other shengs and the silver buds Yabao.
Edit: drinking a fifth infusion this morning and I must say yumm!
Glad I read the description of the grading before I started commenting, helps me understand why I am looking at darker, more broken leaves. So I’m drinking this the day after Upton’s Pai Mu Dan and to be fair I should have done a 2 and half min steep but I felt like short steeps. When I brewed it up and couldn’t pin point what I was tasting I decided to do a 30 sec steep of Pai Mu Dan and the differences became very clear. Pai Mu Dan is all honeydew on the first steep while Shou Mei is all veg and pine and herb, more sipping back and forth narrows it down to rosemary and sage. Second steeps mellow out both teas a bit but adds a bit of cocoa sweetness to the Shou Mei while the Pai Mu Dan got less sweet and the third steep of Shou Mei is more cocoa and spice while Pai Mu Dan is like over ripe melon. I enjoyed the later steeps of the Shou Mei more than the Pai Mu Dan, even though its supposed to be a lower grade tea. Tomorrow Moonlight, just found out its Yue Guang Bai :)
Revisiting this nearly a month later with longer steeps, which interestingly enough makes the herbaceous notes take a back seat to cocoa and nuttiness on the first steep. It does make sense as I am basically drinking all three of the shorter steeps in one, I find it very interesting.