300 Tasting Notes

67

Fragrant indeed!  I keep on expecting astringency and it’s just not there.  I wish more purportedly fragrant teas were like this.  There is some perfume yes, but the body is so soft, not all high and buzzing.  This is a really lovely cup, not a type I would generally seek out, but I could drink this and I shall.  

Second infusion- well there’s the bite, phooey.  Not like this tea is available outside the set.  Oh well, nice first run. Update: better as it mellows, not so much fragrant anymore, but spicy and nutty particularly black pepper and almond. Meh.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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81

Interesting for sure, smells like Assam, looks like silver needle but less silver and slightly larger. Its certainly larger than the Kenyan tips and Darjeeling white. The color of the liquor of this first 3 min steep (what can I say, I’ve become cautious with these sample sizes) is quite striking, it’s a peachy champagne.

The tea has nice light notes but with all the depth of an Assam, minus the big bite. I definitely prefer this to black Assam but it’s a really hard to top the Tinderet Silver Tips surprising cocoa sweetness, I do think it’s more interesting than the Darjeeling Arya Pearl though.

Two more steeps adding on a min each, color is more golden, flavor stronger on the second and lighter on the third. It’s a good Assam and a good white, but I dont really care for Assams unless they are the base for spices, so I shan’t be ordering it again. Tomorrow, a white Ceylon.

Update for sipdown. There is a something roasty but still vegetal and still light about the first two steeps. I’d recommend this as a white for those that like roasty blacks and oolongs. Third and sixth steeps are quite sweet while the fourth and fifth had something dry and winey going on. I steeped these at 3-4 mins each the second time around. To be fair I did add the white Kenyan as I had less than a teaspoon of it left, but I definitely was tasting mostly Assam.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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95

This. I like. A lot.  The smell of the leaves- cocoa.  The brewed leaves- sweetgrass.  The cup both of those plus a nuttiness.  The taste morrre dark chocolate.  It has a good maltiness just when I was thinking that was something I didn’t like.  And the mouthfeel is pleasant, not really buttery but not too much dryness.  This like a white version of Autumn Laoshan Black.  Toddler agrees, chocolate or perhaps he is just humoring me.  This tea wins and I’m going to need a moment alone with it now. If it reinfuses well, I will be buying lots. I need people to share this with its that good, despite wanting to hoard it.

Update to add that I took this to work yesterday and the boss who is a big white tea drinker (though she does mostly fruit blends) said “Wow Autumn, this is really good!” and I know she wasn’t humoring me. Barista boy said there was something meaty about it. I didn’t like these two steeps as much as my first session, but the leaves at the bottom were broken and there was dust, so I imagine that and brewing in a teamaker instead of glass had something to do with it.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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If this is a classic malty black tea then I do not care for them. It’s not horrible, it does mellow and sweeten as it cools and has intetesting rye notes, but I shall save the rest of the leaves to make sweet tea for the husband. Main reason I drank this is because I’m going to try a Kenyan white from the same estate and because it was in the house as part of the gift set I ordered on sale for the copper tins. Again probably unfair to rate, so moving on.

Edit 8/16/12: Made this iced for the toddler this morning because the husband brought a jug of Gold Peak into the house which is now empty and Rowan wanted me to fill it. Me thinks this would be much better cold brewed and that is how I shall use up the remainder of the leaves, but you know impatient toddler so hot to cold which of course results in more bitterness. I actually took a sip of this before I iced it and was shocked at how much it tasted like apple cider, I did a tsp of sugar for the pitcher. Not so much cider in the iced version, though it reminds me a bit of Ceylon. Still not rating, leaves are prob old anyway since it was on sale an whatnot. The White Tinderet from Upton was a amazing btw.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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77

These leaves are truly beautiful. They come in graceful green leaf pairings with a long thin bud hidden usually in the fold of one of the leaves, but you can coax it out once it’s brewed.  They are unusually hard for being the least processed and have an almost waxy cast with nearly undectable hairs on them.  This is not your soft downy silver needle.  They have elegant curled edges with tiny little teeth.  Why describe the leaves so much?  They are pretty much the most remarkable thing about this tea, which is very light.  

There is only the slightest hint of sweetness and tang.  The pear and melon that are described are not juicy but more pear skin and the frothy hairs surrounding the seeds of honeydew.  Vegetal? Only the tiniest trace, just enough to know your drinking a tea, but it is not a word I would use to describe this tea compared to others.  

I can taste that it is a Darjeeling, though I’m sure it helps that I know it’s one.  It’s something inherent about the soil and the altitude and all that cold rain but there is absolutely no bitterness.  I’m not sure of this tea could get bitter, but I’m not about to scorch it to find out, I’ll keep the temp right at 180 and keep drawing out the time.  I somewhat regret not using the whole sample amount for strength’s sake but I feared if I ruined it I would have none left.   I recommend multiple infusions, I’m on my third, as the first is the lightest. I’ll update if something remarkable comes through on a later steep. Toddler chugged two cups of this and said it smelled delicious, I think he was really thirsty.

 So this tea does solve the problem of the astringent Darjeeling for me and while I’m glad I tried I know there are many other white teas out there that have a lot more to offer.  Heck I’ve got twenty samples of them just waiting to be tried.  Tomorrow perhaps I shall try the White Assam.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 8 min or more

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First Darjeeling I ever tried, limited to Equal Trade Gift Set, we opened one over the summer, when Teavana didn’t have a Darjeeling on the wall due to flooding in the region.  Leaves are mostly olive, brown and grey, fine and short.  They didn’t smell pleasing in the bag, something artificial but was probably smelling the packaging more than the tea.  Brewed leaves resemble shredded mush (wonder how much the Special grading improves this) looks like there may be many stems.  

Leaves smell of grape leaves again, weird.  The aroma of the cup is my favorite, it’s comforting and somehow feminine.  It reminds me of mothballs, books, a muddy spring and my mother’s jewelry boxes.  

The mouthfeel is astringent like an IPA and unfortunately I’m more of porter, lager and stout kinda gal.  It makes me wonder if the soil is more acid in this region/altitude.  I get the muscatel notes on the first steep, the second is all crisp and spicy and is like drinking a citronella candle.  I upped the temp by five degrees and even that makes this tea intolerable for me.  Bleh.  

I can’t help but wonder if this tea is too old.  I got it on sale online last month (really just for the copper tins) and only opened the vacuum sealed pouch today but I notice a freshness difference between spring and autumn 2011 teas, so Spring 2009 when it’s not aged… very possibly stale, no preservatives and what not.  I thought I liked this more than the de Triomphe, but definitely not now.  Dump.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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68

This is another tea from the prosperity gift set. These notes are a blend from trying the tea yesterday and today as I botched the second steep yesterday. It starts: This is quite nice, it’s different than Himalayan Splendor, the leaves are broader and have nice variation with silver, carmel and darkest brown.  The scent of the dried leaves is familiar and comforting, maybe wine and leather.  The brewed leaves are different altogether, they smell like stew with a sherry and shallot broth and carrots from a roast, there’s also a hint of tobacco.  The brewed liquor is not quite as intense but is still oddly culinary, this time it’s fresh rosemary and garlic bread dipped in olive oil drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  So yeah there’s wine in all three but its much more complex than that.

This tea greets you with warmth and a bit of sweetness that stays on the tip or really the side of the tongue, its a little bit winey but not as intense as a Formosa oolong or some other blacks.  There is some vague floralness like the Himalayan Splendor, but with nice spice notes followed by a dryness I don’t care for.  I like the mouthfeel at the beginning of this but it leaves me dry  ( like an English Breakfast) and erases all memory of the smoothness I appreciated just moments earlier.  Sigh.

Second infusion with 175 for 2.5mins leaves smelled like stuffed grape leaves.  Taste was balsamic followed by the dryness of doom.  Third infusion 180 for 3 mins some smooth black tea body and a hint of cocoa, still dry.  Fourth 190 for 3 mins spicy, most black. Fifth umm no. I have no desire to have this tea in my cupboard if it wasn’t part of the Prosperity Collection.

Overall this tea has a very different beginning from the two Darjeelings and one other Nepalese tea I have had (I compare because of altitude), it’s not all airy and buzzing up front, this one hits you with warmth and later reveals its floral and winey notes followed by spice and an astringency I just don’t care for.  Whereas the Himalayan Splendor I tried yesterday at work for comparison started out all hoppy but mellowed out and revealed some cocoa and butter I hadn’t noticed before.  Probably will not pursue many Nepalese teas unless one has particularly good reviews.  Tonight I shall have Darjeeling, black and my first white!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Sakura Allure by Teavana
300 tasting notes

This is a favorite in our house, very smooth green tea base and a natural sweetness that requires absolutely no sugar. I’m not on a big flavor kick right now but the husband brewed some up and let the tea maker finish draining over my mug. This everything Snow Geisha is not, no medicine, no weird astringency. The hibiscus can flair up a bit tart at times and the flavor does an interesting morphing thing as it sits in the cup, but over all it is very palatable. I often recommend this as gift tea especially for those that like Youthberry as they have some common ingredients and it’s beautiful and fluffy so you get more for your money and it fills a decorative tin nicely.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Trying this after the Autumn Harvest Laoshan Black and the dry leaf scent does bare some resemblance, very fresh and sweet with a bit of cocoa. Will all of this village’s teas taste like candy? I wasn’t going to find out. I didn’t trust the recommended western brew time suggestion of 3 mins but decided to compromise on 2, big mistake. I could smell it over steeping even though my kettle said it had dropped to 170 before I poured. Overcooked argaragus bleh, though I took a few more steeps enough to know there was good body there and a bit of spice. I should have saved the rest of the sample packet for the next day, but I was frustrated and wanted my tea. I tried it again for less than a minute, I should have lowered the water temp and steeped for 30 seconds because it still turned out “over cooked” I resteeped these leaves at 150 for 30 sec but the damage was already done. Very sad, I’m sure it would be excellent gonfu style but I won’t be ordering any of it, unless it is included as a free sample with a future purchase. I would like to compare autumn harvests to spring, but I still have the dragonwell style sample. Another day.

Edit 5/15/12: So grateful to have another sample of this, already much better, though it is certainly finicky, or perhaps I am sensitive to strong greens? A bit fuller and more savory than this spring. It is both warmer and cooler, in a very autumnal way. There is a warm creamy salinity on the tongue and a coolness that fills my nostrils. Interesting. Can’t say I’m getting any cocoa yet but shall keep on steeping on.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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99

Finding myself at a loss for words especially with the dried leaves it is like no tea I’ve ever smelled before, its deep and rich but also fresh, it smells of quality.  Brewed leaves are a bit more familiar, chocolaty.  The small wiry dried leaves unfurled into long dark luxurious leaves.  

The first sip is amazing so sweet and bold and smooth (in a cool way rather than buttery warmth) there is definitely cocoa notes, dark chocolate, with a hint of fig and warming up to a bit of butter, later comes the spice, the end note is a tiny bit dry but I’m going to attribute this partially to my throat and it is much better than teas that start off dry.  

So… sweet, rich, butter, spice, repeat at least for the first steep.  Would make a good morning tea as well as an excellent dessert tea.  Second steep is even more sweet if that is possible and has less spice.  This tea is so accessible, I would recommend it to everyone.  

I did try a third steep and while there was some sweetness left it was but a ghost of its former glory.  Perhaps I would have extended it to 5 mins, but even still I dot think it would have been a whole lot stronger.  Still I drank it all.  I am okay with it only producing two delicious western steeps, not all tea needs to last all day long and this one is certainly special enough while it lasts.  Of course would be interested with gongfu brewing. The first steep I did at 195 for 3 mins, second at 200ish for 4 mins and third at 212 for 4.5 mins.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Geoffrey

So happy you enjoyed this one, Autumn. It’s a big personal favorite of mine. With regard to brewing this tea gongfu, I can’t recommend it enough if you have even basic utensils to try. I just brewed that way again this morning and found it deeply fulfilling as always. I think it’s perfect at around 2 teaspoons for about 3oz of water, 5-10 seconds for the first few infusions then add 5 to 15 seconds for each following infusion, according to your tastes. I’ll usually steep it at least 10 times this way. Then one long 5+ minute infusion at the tail end. In my experience, this tea will not go bitter no matter how hard you try. Hope you continue to enjoy it! Happy drinking!

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Bio

Druid, artist, poet, mum, lover of tea, ritual and myth. I grew up on Celestial Seasons herbals but fell in love with straight loose leaf tea working at my local Teavana for a year. I am grateful for the introduction and the experience, but have moved on.

I see tea as an experience for the senses, I like to imagine tasting the land and the weather as well as the effect of sun, air, fire and the human hand. I have a soft spot for shu pu’er, yabao, scented oolongs, wuyi oolongs, taiwanese tea as well as smooth naturally sweet blacks, creamy greens and surprisingly complex whites.

I began ordering lots of samples from Upton to educate myself on different varieties of tea we didn’t have at work and have fallen head over heels for the unique offerings from Verdant Tea. I am learning things I like: buttery mouthfeel, surprising sweet or spice notes, woodiness, mineral notes, depth and complexity and things I don’t: astringency, dry and sour notes.

I collect tea tins and am in danger of collecting pots, though I am trying to restrain the urge due to current lack of space. I brew mostly in a glass infuser mug or a tea maker, only using cast-iron for company now (still need to get a gaiwan) and tend not to sweeten my teas unless they are British or fruity and iced, which is not often.

As far as ratings, I lack a definite system and haven’t been assigning numbers lately, wanting to spend multiple sessions with a tea first. I usually only log a tea once, unless it is a new harvest or I have significantly different observations, but will go back and edit or comment if I find something interesting or new.

Location

Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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