300 Tasting Notes
Thanks to Amanda and the Traveling Tea Box for this! MustTryAllTheTeas! And I have a strategy! Okay then, chocolate rooibos here we go! Been awhile since I’ve had a rooibos and boy is that liquor ever orange! It also smells quite nice, not chocolately, no, more like warm honey and something a bit floral.
There’s that familar taste, but better than I’ve had before. There is a tinge of tobacco yes, but its smooth and non-abrasive. At first I didn’t get the chocolate on this but as I move my tongue between my lips, there it is, just like licking chocolate off my lips, only I didn’t eat any…
Very interesting. This tea is kinda sexy. And it does feel very Belgian chocolate, not dark chocolate, its creamy and warm and yes I think I’m going to have to stop there lest this note get more racy! Definitely better than Teavana’s Cocoa Praline Tart. Oh and this one is toddler approved!
Yay Traveling Tea Box many thanks to Amanda for coordinating and to Sare for including this one. This initially found itself in the pass pile on two accounts I haven’t had the best experience with chocolate blends and I thought it was a rooibos (silly its dark brown not orange). However I found myself starting with a chocolate mint tea so that opened myself up for this, try all the tea!
So this is actually a mate! That makes so much more sense and explains why I am filled with rocket fuel and the nice smokeyness I noticed from the very first sip. This is a very interesting blend and I actually kinda like it. The only teas I didn’t try at Teavana were a couple of mates: My Morning, MateVana and JavaVana except when my co-workers included them in blends that they wanted everyone else to try and they were drowned in rock sugar. But this does taste a bit like how some of them smell.
I think I shall try one more tiny cup and kick up the temp and time, I am caffeine sensitive but it is very tastey and this is for science, or erm something! Maybe it will make me want to do that laundry and then I can reward myself with more tea! Don’t like this second infusion quite as much but its not bad actually its getting better as it cools and it leaves a wonderful campfire feeling in my mouth. If I was into mate this would be a winner, but if anything I am most amused at how aptly named this blend is! Thanks Sare
Halt all the things! The Traveling Tea Box just arrived at Baker Street! (I know you’re jealous and I’m sorry) Put down that paint brush, don’t even think about cleaning that kitchen or doing laundry today (okay so I might still do laundry) must try all the teas! Also I’m sorry to the folks who sent me tea in these last two weeks, I’m going to have to put them on hold for two days. I totally wasn’t expecting this when the postman rang the bell, I thought it was my gaiwan, then I thought its a bit odd that my gaiwan is coming from a girl with such lovely handwriting, but my last one came from a person and not a company address. But no when I opened the box there was tea! Dozens of packets of tea! Do I have a surprise admirer on Steepster? I was not expecting a swap, oh and they included a notebook! Oh, duh! Ohh, oh, oh,oh! Traveling Tea Box!
So initially I sorted the teas into two piles, interested and not so interested. The interested pile consisted mostly of oolongs, a tea called December and a tea from Whispering Pines, must try! Tea immediately cast into the pass pile were rooibos, chocolate blends, fruity blends and well everything else. But once sorted was completed I picked up the teas from the pass pile and started to open them up. This was the first one I grabbed and well apparently once I smell something I must try it.
However I knew this would now probably be the case for all of them and with the exception of a couple of the teas in the must have pile that were of a low quantity I really just wanted to try a tiny bit and save the rest for everyone else. So how to brew such a small amount? I looked at my tea ware, grabbed my brew basket, remembered it wouldn’t fit down into my narrow 8oz mugs but it does fit into my little 4 oz tasting cups which meant I could brew with less than a teaspoon of tea, not get overwhelmed with so much liquid in the next two days and still have plenty for everyone to try! Win!
So into the basket went just over half a teaspoon of dark minty goodness. I set my variable temp kettle for 200 (after which it immediately drops a few degrees) and steeped it for just around a min. I wasn’t expecting to love it but did find it quite enjoyable. I have only tried two similar teas, Teavana’s Cacao Mint Black and their Slimful Chocolate Decadence. I also meant to take home some of the mint black to my dad as it reminded me a bit of thin mints, his favorite. This reminds me a bit more of a York Peppermint Patty smushed with a Chips Ahoy cookie, only smoother and less abbrasive than the York tends to be. It is a creamy and well balanced dessert cup (though I had it before breakfast) and I did contemplate taking it and brewing it for my dad, but we’ll see. I tried a second infusion, but it was thinner, less creamy and more minty, closer to the ice cream perhaps, so it probably could have benefited from a longer infusion.
Now of course this opened up the floodgates to try all the other chocolate teas so next up David’s Choco Rocket! Many thanks to Amanda for starting and coordinating the tea box and for including this particular tea and to Sare for contributing, the next one (that I am already drinking as I write this) is one of her’s. I probably won’t be rating most of these as I’m not spending enough time with them and they are not my normal cuppa. Also amused that this is the LochTea ;)
First a huge thank you to allisontsui for her generosity and hospitality in sharing three teas from Taiwan with several Formosa lover on Steepster! This package arrived a couple days after I had gotten my samples from Nuvola and I had already brewed their delicious Dong Ding (review coming soon) so I opened this one first. Unfortunately I could tell just from feeling the 5 gram packet that the leaves were crushed. There were maybe half a dozen whole to partial pearls and quite a bit of dust, so sad it seems to have suffered the damage on its journey.
Still I treated the leaves with respect and brewed them gongfu being sure to put a fine mesh strainer over my cup, but even this let quite a bit of sediment through. Still the first cup was quite nice, it had somewhere between a woody to floral aroma, it was less charcoal and mineral than the orchid oolong I had been drinking earlier that day, but still had a nice light roast to it with some greener notes. Floral is what stood out to me the most, thought it wasn’t like a scented or intentionally floral blend, just very pleasant and soothing.
Unfortunately this first infusion was the only one worth drinking. It pains me to write this since the tea was given so generously, but try as I could to reinfuse this, no amount of temperature lowering or time adjusting could save these leaves from turning astringent. By the third infusion it was unpalatable and I had to pour it out :( Dong Ding/Tung Ting is a tea that in my limited experience (recent order from Nuvola, sample from Fong Mong and a wonderful yixing session at Essencha Tea House) has been a very unique, generous and forgiving tea.
I cannot speak to the quality of this tea before it was shipped, but I would urge everyone who swaps tea to package in a padded envelope or box where applicable as this one was rendered to bag quality. I will be trying the other samples this week and sending Allison some of my Dong Ding from Nuvola as well. I am glad I got one good cup out of this though.
One of several teas I shared with my friend Michelle at our tea date today, thank you to the other Michelle for the sample! We had this after Verdant’s Taiwanese Orchid Oolong. They are a bit similar though this was a bit mellower and less smokey/charcoaly and the sensations in the mouth were less intense. Still this is very very nice, it starts out subtler but in a later steep this evening it left a cool coating on the sides of my tongue and roof of my mouth. I have been wanting to try this one for awhile and it is actually my first ginseng oolong and it is already a favorite. I’m glad I only used half the sample so I can enjoy this another day when it is not following the intense orchid oolong, that many describe as being ginseng-like.
I love it when tea arrives! Especially when I have to sign for a package from Taiwan or China! Thank you to Nuvola Tea for this sample! I had forgotten at first that I had ordered 40 grams of tea in addition to the two free samples as it seemed silly to charge PayPal for just $1.25 for shipping so I chose the least expensive of the teas I was eyeing, an Oramanthus scented Taiwan Dong Ding then requested the 5g of this Oriental Beauty and Shan Lin Xi. I was surprised to find the non-sample in a sturdy box with slip cover and a lovely one at that and then confused as this packaging said Oriental Beauty Tea at the bottom.
I was a bit worried, but decided to open both packages to compare. The small sample was just as it should be, Oriental Beauty and a striking one at that, now for the moment of truth. I opened the 40g package and my eyes were met with the beautiful sight of dark green hand rolled oolong with a light dusting of, breath in, oramanthus! My Dong Ding! All was right, just a simple mislabel. Sigh of relief now I can relax and drink the Oriental Beauty!
And it is a lovely one at that so much more vibrant and fresh and not te least bit sour like a couple I’ve tried. The silver tips are the most striking I’ve seen yet! And the taste? Fall leaves, grape vines and light honey. Very nice! There is a velvety ness present that I have experienced before in Oriental Beauty it’s like this cool powdery feeling on te tip of the tongue, like moss, no lichen growing on the bark of a tree, I dig it. Mmm “withered in mist” yes I can taste that, breathe it in. There is also a faint plum note I’m tasting in this third infusion, I shall come back to update, but right now I need lunch and I’m actually changing the filter on the Britta so will have to wait to brew more and rate it then. However I am impressed, now if I only I had the brandy that they mention ;)
This tea stood up well to many infusions, I brewed gonfu and used all 5 grams so I did raise my time to get an idea of what western might taste like. It stood up well to both short and long brews as well as just under boiling water. My last cup yesterday I brewed while I was painting and when my husband came home we went out and half the mug was forgotten, until this morning. I sat down for breakfast and saw the tea and thought, why not give it a sip? I was pleasantly surprised by the cool fruit and honey notes that greeted me. This was delicious cooled off! Often teas get bitter when they sit exposed to air so long. However this is a most quality tea that never turns bitter nor sour, I am most impressed. Because I did not start with a long infusion I cannot fully testify to its strength but I would still guess that this is a more delicate oolong, but full of wonderful soft flavors and aromas. Pristine quality, very fresh, I highly recommend!
So of course I get a sore throat when I have a swap box full of new samples to try ::rolls eyes:: I have been drinking throat coat today and yesterday, however I had this with pancakes on Sunday. I could not convince the husband to make the pancakes with the tea however he was willing to have a cuppa. “Easily bitter” he read from the packet. I used half the leaf, intent to have my caramel pancakes another day and steeped it for a min. I sipped my cup before eating and continued during. Quite nice, balance of sweet and salty and wee bit malty. Husband pronounce after his first sip “wow they weren’t kidding when they said easily bitter” says the man who let it sit in his cup for at least 15 mins. Sigh, I used to be like that, except I did it with herbals. Now I have a much higher tolerance for heat, or use a tiny sipping cup. I did not get around to resteeping that day as I found out my dad had taken my mom to the hospital with chest pains, she’s perfectly fine, excellent heart health, probably either heart burn or anxiety. Throat is starting to feel better this afternoon, though now I am sneezey, perhaps I shall get to try a new tea today after all! Thanks to Michelle for this!
Oooo no wonder I’m loving this!!! I didn’t realize this was a) from Teavirve or b) from Taiwan. My taste associations make much more sense now, though I’m kinda glad it just said the name on it and I didn’t look it up prior to drinking, kinda like a blind taste test! This sample is courtesy of Michelle thank you so much!
This is bringing up all sorts of tea memories for me, Verdant’s Taiwanese Orchid Oolong, Twig Tea, Bancha, and the fabulous roasted Tung Ting I had at my first tea house. I love the cool sweet bakey roastedness of this. It’s a bit woodsy and also reminds me of ginseng, though I haven’t had a ginseng oolong yet, something that will change very soon thanks to Michelle’s magic box which is suited so well to my tastes and teas I need to experience!
Started off with short steeps and have increased it to a min and still going strong. My stomach hurts a bit, but I’m attributing that to food and not tea. It is a type of tea I would seek out again in the future, win!
Many many thanks to Michelle for this and many other samples I’m about to make my way through! I do believe that this is my first Anxi oolong that is medium roasted, I have been meaning to try one and Michelle included two! It smelled dark and appealing, though I think all of the packets smell kinda similarly delicious, due to there being bags of caramel, hazelnut, bon bon and lapsang that left me salivating when I opened the box, this girl is certainly not complaining!
I’m glad I brewed this gonfu, though I hadn’t read any tasting notes yesterday. It is nice and woodsy and nutty and actually stood up well to the seasame honey almond I was snacking on last night. It does have a little bit of orchid and green notes as well. My one complaint is how quickly this turns bitter when it cools.
I did revive it this morning and brewed western at the recommended 3 mins, it tolerated the time well, perhaps because I started with shorter steeps last night. In the afternoon I switched to a roasted Tie Guan Yin which I’m reviewing next and I think I find I’m preferring it, though this was a very nice introduction. Thanks Michelle!
First off I huge thanks to David for sending such an extraordinarily generous “sample” of this. There was a rush of orders when I requested this as my free sample and after it got shipped David realized he might have forgotten in it, surely enough when it arrived there was a sample of Yabao, which I will never turn down and he said he would send extra with my next order, which came sooner than I had planned. There was actually more of this than the teas I paid for! It had actually sold out during that time and I’m guessing he included the last of it, wonderful customer service that and the amazing quality tea offerings keep me coming back to Verdant time and again.
Unfortunately sheng and I are still at odds with one another. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great sheng and there many notes in here that I appreciate, the cedar and rosemary especially are wonderful! I generally get a those tastes either a few seconds in or in the aftertaste which lingers and keeps me coming back for steep after steep. It’s just the astringency as it first hits my tongue and the dryness in the finish. I’ve never had sake, a sad fact I need to remedy, but I get the dry white wine reference. I started this last night and have continued it this morning in a quest for the buttery notes and cinnamon at the end.
I wonder what I could do besides lowering the water temp to lessen my perceived astringency. I keep my steeps short at the beginning but tend to want to draw them out if I lower the temp. Perhaps less leaf? Cold brewing a sheng seems a bit odd to me. Aging takes awhile and the right kind of storage though I’m not opposed to it, I would actually like to try some older shengs perhaps from the nineties to see if I like them any better. I can always find something to appreciate in Verdant’s shengs as they are wonderfully complex, it’s just getting over that dryness.