300 Tasting Notes
Wow does this tea ever conjure up memories! My train of thought upon breathing in the scent of my first cup after the rinse: “Oh this is really woody, ooo and a bit of smoke, mmm campfire, no, an old cabin, a grand old cabin with a tall vaulted wooden ceiling and beams and railings and old wooden furniture and an old brick fireplace and oh my goodness Girl Scouts!”
http://friendsofcrowellhilaka.org/north_house.htm This is the mansion our troop stayed at I think twice. Yes it is brick on the outside but the floors and the ceiling and the loft, all wood, chestnut apparently. I would love to take Rowan there for a day trip. And check out this beauty toward the front of the camp we always passed: http://friendsofcrowellhilaka.org/amity_house.htm
Anywho this tea takes me there. It seems a bit stronger than some of the other Verdant shu’s I’ve tried, especially in this second infusion which has some fruit and floral aromas oddly enough. It is dark and sweet and yes a bit musty, but I really like that it’s like tasting time, hallow logs decomposing on forest floor after a rainfall and an old not very often lived in house. Oh how I love shu, off to reinfuse! Third infusion: Hello mint and basil! Fourth: more wood, savory, prickly… stewed tomatoes, yup.
This is so beautiful and delicate looking, lovely light pink petals floating in the cup. The rose and the bergamot are indeed tame as other’s have noted, which I appreciate, though I did try the proto-type and if memory serves this tastes like it has a bit more bergamot. But the star here is the chocolaty Laoshan Black base. I love exploring all the different ways to enjoy Laoshan Black and it sometimes seems less intimidating to brew up a cup of one of these Alchemy Blends than the pure tea, so I could see myself stocking up on this and enjoying it more often. I have the perfect black tin with white cranes and delicate sprigs of pink cherry blossoms on it, the ivory colored one is reserved for a future order of Eight Treasures Yabao and the purple will receive Peacock Village Shu in just a day or two (I had originally thought I wanted Elderberry Pu’er but I much prefer the pure base). Though I may just wait for he autumn harvest of Laoshan Black and just stock up on that. But for now, I need to go reinfuse this!
Ooo so glad this is already on here and very grateful for the husband for picking up a very huge bottle of this for me when he stopped at the Mustard Seed to buy some bulk cos-cous. So this is a beer in case you couldn’t tell (I recommend clicking on the product description). I love the Finnish historic aspect of this and in that way its a very East meets West… err North. Husband knows I love juniper and chai and I find it interesting that they actually used black tea and not just the spices, I’m guessing its an Assam.
This is very very nom, lots of flavor going on here though not just from the chai. I wish I had more words for describing beer but I get the rye and this is tastes malty in the way tea does, though it doesn’t feel creamy like a dark beer. It’s quite savory and rustic and all the yum, but I need to slow down and not let it get to my head. Also I don’t think I can rate this against tea.
This is not so much a review of this tea, though it is what I am drinking (see other tasting note), because I don’t feel like trying anything new or brewing gong fu style but I need to write this and it wouldn’t be right to do it under a tea for any other company. This is just to say that I will not be working at Teavana for the holidays or ever again, I’m not allowed.
I stopped by the store today while I was out, to check the schedule for next week since it wasn’t posted when I called on Saturday. There were guests in the store so I just headed to the back, looked at the schedule and just as I noticed there were no shifts for me, my manager came in behind me and told me I wasn’t on it and asked if anyone from corporate had given me a call, no…
Apparently Teavana has been monitoring Steepster.com and other social networking sites and noticed my activity on the message boards. Besides negativity there are issues with breaking confidentiality agreements and release the names of two teas. I’m fine with not working there, in fact I’m relieved. I tried to quit back in February, then again four months ago but my manager wanted to hang on to me and called me back a month ago to pick up a few shifts. I wanted to help, could use the extra cash and some time away from the toddler, so I agreed.
I felt more like a rouge agent at that point, but I did my job and was gracious to guests. It was during these three shifts that co-workers were telling me about these two new teas that Teavana let slip in some recommended pairing sheet they sent to all the stores. When I shared these two teas in a post about this year’s retiring teas, it was just as an interesting tidbit to generate discussion, I didn’t do it to sabotage the campaign, if anything it could only help create a buzz, just like my co-workers mentioning them to their guests, because their excited, even I was.
But that’s not really what its about, its about the negative things I’ve posted after I had “quit” and I completely agree with their decision, they shouldn’t have someone that feels the way I do working for them. I do hope they leave it at that and not try to pursue some sort of legal action, because really I’m not worth anything. But I also hope, really truly hope that they are not just monitoring Steepster to check up on their employees but to get a pulse on how tea lovers really feel about their company and how they can improve their customer service to stop driving away the very community they should be serving.
So the Xingyang 08 nuggets are one of my favorite shu’s and this blend uses some of the signature ingredients found in other Verdant blends I enjoy. However before opening the packet (not remembering the ingredient list) I was expecting more spice. This is cool and fresh and minty, a great digestive tea and a potentially nice intro to pu’er for a mint lover. I’m not getting much cinnamon from this, but if I listen/taste very carefully I can find it, but its very mellow. That’s probably best for this summer blend, it just plays on the natural cinnamon notes of the shu. I started with short steeps and have worked up gradually to a minute, but I feel I need to draw this out even longer reading the results of others below, so will continue exploring today.
Edit: This is amazing iced! I mean seriously freaking delicious! I can smell and taste the cinnamon and there is more natural sweetness that comes out. I made a single glass last night and a big pitcher this morning (from steeping a mug at a time hot at 3 mins, 5 mins and 8 mins). I was using the same leaf the whole time and feel I got a ton of tea out of it, being such a generous pu’er. I totally recommend ordering this, doing a quick rinse, trying a cup hot then switching over to iced. You could probably make two or three big pitchers out of 1/2 an ounce (three full nuggets, some smaller pieces and the spices for me).
Encouraged by Kittenna’s success last night I decided to re-read other’s tasting notes for successful brewing techniques and watched the brewing video on Verdant’s website. I went with an amalgamation, glass infuser mug with a mesh brew basket (mainly because the glass slits are slow to drain and I wanted to be quick), all the leaf I had left (I need to get a scale and but it looked about right, maybe a tad less than what is used in the video), water at 200 for the rinse and 195 for the first infusion and steeped for 3 secs.
The result? Success! I have mastered this tea and it is really quite lovely! Not sure why my cold brew was so unsuccessful but I’m getting no astringency in these first two infusions. Just lovely woodsy, heady incense, with nice mineral notes. Second infusion has a bit of honey and melon. It may be a bit lighter than how other’s enjoy, but it’s perfect for my palate. I shall take my time with this today as it is all I have left, but yay for getting it right! Rating moving up right between Fujian Rain and Mi Lan Black, which I find very appropriate as it actually reminds me a bit of the Fujian and other tea’s I sampled that day.
I have been revisiting a number of teas today, some were not as good as I remembered, some where better, this was definitely the latter. I’m picking up on wonderful spicy and zesty notes that remind me of juniper and rooibos (in a really good way, even though I’m not a big rooibos fan) in this second steep. The first was still lush, dark, and sweet. It’s the only sample from Fong Mong I didn’t use up in one sitting. Really enjoying it!
Edit: Hmm this was stored right next to a sample of Garnet Sable, wonder if it picked up the smokey, foresty, rooibos notes from that? Either way, delicious!
So after seeing many Steepsterites participating in a Matcha-thon intiated by TeaEqualsBliss I was inspired to imbibe. I don’t have any variety of matcha at home, just the free expired tins from work (boss lady insisted they were fine for consumption since they are sealed) but I had flavored matcha envy and folks’ tasting notes on Red Leaf Tea’s Watermelon Matcha particularly made me salivated. Since we have a large bowl of watermelon in the fridge I decided to make my own!
I placed 1 tsp of matcha in the bottom of a wide mug, slowly poured a small amount of a 170F water while whisking, then poured the chilled juice from the bottom of the bowl of watermelon (I could have pre-poured this into a measuring pitcher but it worked out fine). The result, surprisingly delicious! Watermelon and matcha are a great pairing and this was refreshing, smooth, sweet, creamy and juicy. It needed absolutely no sugar but I did pour my second small cup over a splash of milk and a daresay that was even better. My only concern was the matcha itself, it was quite a bit darker and murkier than normal (I do normally use more water and I suppose the pink could muddy the green but it seemed odd) it did turn a nice sage green with the milk though.
I do plan on ordering from Red Leaf Tea in the future and participating in their reviews promotion but it won’t be this summer so I will have to wait till next year to compare. I am excited about such combos as apple and caramel matcha for the fall and of course would love to try black and white matcha.
This one is a bit better, the first steep at 15 secs was enjoyable while the second at 30 secs is more astringent. Me thinks this could be age. I’m not getting fruit or citrus, mostly vegetal with a bit of nuttiness and slightly creamy. Can anyone with experience with high quality green tea shed some light, are the leaves usually fine and short? The few that I have had always seem choppy and get mushy real quick. I wonder if this contributed to astringency in the same way cut tear curl black teas are prone to getting bitter. I have also heard that some Japanese green tea aficionados like their greens strong and bitter. Perhaps I just prefer Chinese, though I do enjoy Gyokuro from time to time.
Hmmm I really liked this when I first tried it, I think I did a 30 sec steep at 175 in cast iron. Today I did it for 30 secs in a glass infuser mug and unfortunately it was straining really slowly so it steeps for more lie a min (which is actually the recommended parameters on the tin), very astringent which is unfortunate as the leaves actually had a nice natural fruity smell going on. Second infusion I lowered the temp to 170 and steeped for 25 pouring it through a stainless steel strain into another cup, still bitter. Okay one more time 170, took out some leaf (or rather let it stay in the other strainer) steeps for 10 sec. Still crap.
I was planning on cold brewing but after reading Amy oh’s tasting notes below, I’m guessing there is no hope. So while I was going to start off this note saying I need to find better ways to brew Japanese green teas I’m going to add what I already knew, I need to find better Japanese green teas. I have a list for Mellow Monk and Dens but right now my tea budget only allows one major purchase a month and its been with Verdant for the last 6 months and I don’t see that changing any time soon, unless someone gets me a gift card for the holidays or a tea of the month subscription ;) Also I apologize for sending some of this to Angrboda, I really did have a fond memory of this at the time :/