117 Tasting Notes

11

Okay, I tried. I really tried. I tried every which way I know how to get some flavour other than “veggie juice” out of this blend. I just cannot taste anything else, unfortunately. In addition, after the tea cooled a bit, it got really, really bitter and astringent. Also, in spite of my infuser’s fine mesh, there was quite a bit of sediment in my teacup.

The nice thing about big companies like Teavana and Adagio is that they don’t participate on Steepster, they don’t go the extra mile to establish a rapport with customers and use wonderful incentives to drum up business and introduce themselves to us. Consequently, I have no qualms at all about calling it like I see it and being critical of a blend I don’t like.

It’s different with the little guys. These little companies are either just getting started or intentionally staying small and catering to a niche within the tea market. They make such a huge effort to procure our business, our trust, and our loyalty. They participate in random discussions, give us the benefit of their expertise, and are responsive to our feedback. They become our friends.

Don’t get me wrong, this is awesome. But it also means that I feel obligated to like their teas, especially if I get them as free samples. I feel guilty when things don’t work out, even though well-intentioned criticism can be more helpful than a glowing review. So here we are, my first free sample that I didn’t love, and I’m feeling terribly guilty about it. Sorry, sTEAp Shoppe, better luck next time.

Tea amount: 2 tsp
Water amount: 8oz./~237mL
Additives: 1 tsp Demerara sugar
Dry mouth factor: 3/10 hot, 7/10 after cooling

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec
DaisyChubb

I know how you feel Nik <3

Bonnie

Nik, I think the point of the reviewing is so that this company can be great. Without the feedback they won’t know how real tea lovers who drink LOTS of tea feel about their tea. They now have the opportunity to fine tune and lets see what happens. I’ve seen some other companies (recently whispering pines made some adjustments to a few tea’s) and it works out! COOL! I LOVE this process!

Nik

Thanks, DaisyChubb. :D Bonnie: Agreed. And Janet did say that she was looking into ways they can naturally bring out more flavour in the tea (although I don’t remember whether she said that specifically about the Green Apple or sTEAp’s flavoured teas in general).

K S

You sure gave the attempt with this one your all.

Angrboda

Nik, MASSIVE pat on the back from me to you for having the guts (and decency) to be honest! For the reason you mentioned, it seems some people (in general, none specific in particular) will prefer to try and sugar coat things instead rather than admitting something wasn’t to their tastes. Thank you.

Nik

Aww, thanks, Angrboda, I appreciate that. =)

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65
drank Mango Nut by Teas Etc
117 tasting notes

I’m not sure about this one. I might have to give it a little time, maybe a few tastes. My initial impression is a whole lot of meh.

Fragrance, dry leaves: Coffee. Okay, I’m beginning to think that all nutty rooibos blends smell like coffee to me. There’s coffee and there’s a sort of generally tropical thing going on, but I don’t know that I can actually smell coconut and mango. I’m just a teensy bit on the irked side that the list of ingredients doesn’t actually contain the word mango anywhere, just “flavoring.”

Fragrance, brewed tea: Coffee. Generally tropical something or other. Also, something nutty. But not specifically coconut-ty.

Flavour: There’s the coconut! And even the mango, sort of. It’s not really evident, but because I know it’s there, I can search for it and find the flavour.

In the end, it may just be that I’m not a fan of these tropical flavours. It may be that I should try this iced. It may be that I wasn’t paying enough attention and didn’t steep it properly. For the time being, what I’m feeling is that something is missing here. I’ll try it again at a later time and hopefully improve my rating.

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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11

A quick tasting note for the sTEAp Shopping virtual tea tasting. First impressions:

The dry leaves smell pretty vegetal. There are lots (and I mean lots) of apple chunks, but oddly, I can’t smell apples at all. I never quite understood what rose hips are or whether they’re related to roses in any way. Are they supposed to smell rosy? Do they smell like anything at all? I’ll have to Google it later.

The brew smells like freshly cut grass, but that’s it. I’m not getting anything else at all in the fragrance.

Sadly, the taste didn’t make a good first impression on me. It tastes like green veggie juice. I was going to say “spinach juice,” but that’s not quite right. It’s more of a generic green veggie juice than the juice of a particular green veggie. I was really, really shocked that with sooooo many apple chunks, I couldn’t taste apple at all.

Maybe I need to add more tea? Maybe I need to try steeping longer? I’m not sure, but this initial experiment was not a success. Fortunately for me, there’s still plenty of the generous sample left, so I can give it another go.

Tea amount: ~.75 tsp
Water amount: ~4oz./118mL
Additives: None, for a few sips, then a pinch of Demerara sugar in an effort to improve the taste.
Dry mouth factor: 2/10

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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77
drank White Tea by Golden Moon Tea
117 tasting notes

Huzzah! I have officially gone through the Golden Moon sampler box. Happily, we end things on a high note. It occurred to me that perhaps I had been unfair in many of my GM Sample ratings, for I use 16oz./~475mL water, which may be too much for the sample packets. Naturally, this thought occurs to me on my very last GM Sample. Oops. This thought was emphasised when I opened the packet and saw just how little tea is in this particular sample. =\

The dry leaves have a wonderful fragrance. It’s delicate and floral, with the chrysanthemum coming through clearly when I inhaled deeply, but very very subtle when taking just a quick sniff.

Steeped, the tea is pale and fragrant, still very delicate. I generally like bolder flavours, but this was really nice. The only sad thing is that the caffeine hit me like a freight train, so it’s unlikely I’ll be stocking this. Still, if I had more I’d happily drink it. =)

Tea amount: 1 sample packet
Water amount: 8oz./~237mL
Additives: 1 tsp Demerara sugar
Dry mouth factor: 4/10

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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36
drank Organic Green Tea by Golden Moon Tea
117 tasting notes

I’m really glad I only have (had) a sample of this, because it’s not even worthy of a swap list. Had I never had green tea before, this would inspire me to try others. The reason for this is that this tea’s fragrance makes a promise on which its flavour simply doesn’t deliver. It is so bland, so utterly featureless, that it couldn’t possibly do the green tea justice.

For most of my mug, I felt like I was drinking little more than sugar water. As the tea cooled, a little bit of flavour came through, and that was pleasant enough, but still unremarkable.

Tea amount: 1 sample packet
Water amount: 8oz./~237mL
Additives: ~2tsp Demerara sugar
Dry mouth factor: 2/10

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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71
drank Tarocco Ruby Orange by Teavana
117 tasting notes

There’s a big floral presence in this tea, according to the list of ingredients, but when I smell the dry leaves, I mostly get orange peel. And yes, it’s specifically the peel: that very slightly acrid tinge to the strongly citrus fragrance.

The flavour is tart, but not too sour. It tastes mostly orangey, but as the tea cools, the flowers definitely make themselves known. It’s nice as a hot beverage, especially if you’re not feeling all that great, but I think it’d be even nicer iced.

I’m not crazy about this tea, but it’s nice to have around…y’know?

Tea amount: 1 tbsp
Water amount: 16oz./~475mL
Additives: None
Caffeine: None
Dry mouth factor: 6.5/10

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Terri HarpLady

I have some of this, & I only like it sweet & iced, & only once in awhile! It can be very refreshing!

Nik

It feels like it would be!

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82
drank Zingiber Ginger Coconut by Teavana
117 tasting notes

This is another one of those blends that taste good as long as you don’t know what they’re supposed to be. The description messes with your head, creating a pre-conceived notion of what to expect from the flavour, and that’s where things go a bit pear-shaped.

So let’s pretend that I received this blend in an unmarked tin. No name, no description. My nose tells me that this is likely a rooibos blend with almonds in it. The rooibos isn’t front and center, it mostly provides a foundation on which the tea’s flavour is built. There is a very clear amaretto fragrance, and since that fragrance isn’t exactly subtle, it is the one that really stands out. Without knowing otherwise, I probably couldn’t tell you what else is in here. I might guess at ginger, if my nose were feeling particularly on point that day.

Steeped, the tea tastes like amaretto rooibos. It’s got a little bit of heft to it and makes a nice dessert tea. But wait! What’s this? The tail end of the sip has a bit of a bite to it! And, wait for it, when it hits your stomach, a delicious warmth spreads outward from the point of contact. But…how? I don’t understand. Almonds alone wouldn’t have this effect.

At this point, let’s put an end to our little flight of fantasy and have a look at the ingredients. Why, look! There’s ginger in here, and coconut, and black pepper, and all sorts! The ginger and black pepper would explain that bit of kick and the warmth. It’s interesting that I can’t actually taste them, but I can feel the effect they have and appreciate their contribution to the blend. Noticeably absent, though, to my nose and tastebuds, is the coconut. I think I’d like to add some coconut flakes and grated ginger to my next steep, just to see if it helps this blend realise its full potential or if it just messes everything up. =)

Tea amount: 1 level tbsp
Water amount: 16oz./~475mL
Additives: ~1 level tbsp Demerara sugar
Caffeine: None
Dry mouth factor: 0/10

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

That is a tasty tea! I usually drink it with stevia & coconut milk, & I also like to mix it from time to time with a really strong chair!

Nik

Coconut milk sounds like a good idea. I’m not really familiar with it, though. Do you have a brand preference? My mum and I both love coconut water and we’ve found that the brand really makes a huge difference. We’ve tried at least 5-7 different brands and have only found one or two that we think tastes “real” (despite the fact that they all claim to be 100% natural, no additives, etc.). I wonder if the same applies to coconut milk?

Terri HarpLady

Nik, I keep a drill (with a large drill bit in it) in my kitchen for drilling holes in water coconuts! I also have a cleaver for hacking them open after they’re drained. I used to drink that stuff every day! Did you know you can make a really awesome keifer with coconut water, & you can make yogurt with the ‘meat’? I haven’t done it lately, its more of a fall activity, like making homemade Kimchi & sauerkraut.

Anyway, the coconut milk I have right now is Native Forest Organic. It’s pretty good! Thai Kitchens also makes a decent one. I have made my own coconut milk, homemade is always better, & it’s not really that complicated, but there is something to say for convenience!

I will say this: Coconut milk in your tea is an acquired taste. It’s especially good in a Chai Latte. When you open the can, all the heavy cream is on top, solidified. Some people remove that & put it in a jar, dumping the rest of the thinner liquid, or using it in a smoothie or something. I usually put the unopened can in a bowl of hot water for awhile, allowing the cream to melt, then I shake it up real good before I open it. You can store it in a jar in the fridge, I think for up to 4 days or so. Give it a try!

Nik

Thanks so much, Terri, I really appreciate all the info. =)

Lynxiebrat

Zingiber is currently my favorite tea from Teavana’s. When I 1st smelled it, I smelled the sharpness of the ginger right off. Same with tasting it. And never gotten a Amaretto feel to it, just as well because for the most part, I am not an amaretto fan. I have had it with Almond milk which goes ok with it, but not much of a any kind of milk in my tea fan.

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54
drank Imperial Formosa by Golden Moon Tea
117 tasting notes

This is the NYT crossword puzzle of teas. What I mean by that is that everything is there, right in front of me, but I just don’t get it. =)

They make it sound so grand, don’t they? Let’s see how my experience compares to the expectations created by the description:

“Mesmerizing, silver-tipped leaves…” – Absolutely. I never (okay, almost never) notice the quality/attributes of the leaves I’m steeping. I’m generally as oblivious of them as I am of a film’s score and soundtrack while I’m watching it: that is to say, completely. But these actually warranted a second look. They seem delicate, a bit like very fine yarn.

“…with a nectary amber liquor.” – I would say honey more than amber, but okay.

“A supple bouquet of orange blossoms…” – Um…what? [looks under a leaf] Where’s that hiding, then?
“…and chestnuts…” – Eh? You’re having a laugh, surely.
“…gentle hints of dates…” – Well, maybe. I did occasionally detect an underlying sweetness that could, if one were feeling quite generous, be attributed to dates. Maybe.
“…musky cedar…” – Finally! Finally something I can sort of detect. A sort of smoky, roasty kind of thing. Woodsy kind of thing. Not in a rooibos way, but like in a forest kind of way. In a go-chop-some-wood-for-the-fireplace kind of way. It’s not overpowering, but it’s definitely there.

So, did I dislike it? No, no, not at all. The flavour isn’t bad, but after my BLAMINYOFACE introduction to lapsang souchong, I’m learning that that smoky roasty thing in a tea doesn’t really do it for me, especially if it’s the star of the show. Golden Moon’s description of this makes it sound like it’s not really meant to be the star of the show, but that’s how it worked out for me. What worries me is how many folks said that this description is spot-on. That means that my tea palate is even less developed than I’d hoped it’d be by now. In any case, I like this well enough to drink the rest of it, but not well enough get more of it, or even re-steep this sample.

Tea amount: 1 sample packet
Water amount: 16oz./~475mL
Additives: After a few unadulterated sips, ~1 level tbsp Demerara sugar.
Caffeine: Seems to me to be pretty high. I’ve not drunk much of the tea from my mug, but am already exhibiting some of the symptoms of too much caffeine (my tolerance for it is extremely low).
Dry mouth factor: 6/10. It’s not very bad, but it’s a little bit more than middle of the road.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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84
drank Coconut Pouchong by Golden Moon Tea
117 tasting notes

This is great stuff! There’s a freshness and authenticity to the fragrance. When I first opened the packet, all I could smell was coconut. “Where’s the tea?,” I thought. And this was odd, because if you look at the dry tea, all you see is leaves—it’s not like it’s a pile of coconut flakes or anything. After a few breaths, I could smell the fragrance of the tea itself start to creep in. What was interesting about the fragrance was how it changed when I steeped the tea: suddenly, the coconut disappeared and all I could smell was tea. Like I did with the dry leaves, I gave it a few moments and slowly the coconut began to creep in and mix with the tea. I was kind of fascinated by these aromatic acrobatics.

I’ve never had coconut cream pie. I’ve also never had any of the teas that attempt to recreate that flavour. But when I took a sip of this blend, I immediately thought of some sort of creamy, coconut treat. The tea has…substance to it, as if I’d added milk to it. As I was with the fragrance, I was fascinated by the tea itself. It’s really something, isn’t it, that we can combine a tea blend with water and end up with a light amber liquid that tastes…creamy! I don’t mean to make this sound like a science experiment, I just can’t get over this creaminess-without-cream effect.

Okay, so texture and consistency aside, this blend tastes great. It’s flavourful and balanced. It’s light in spite of the smooth, creamy consistency. I found myself sipping this one slowly to make the brew last longer, a clear indication that I need to add this to my shopping list. What I’d like to do, in the future, is try some different preparation methods: first, I’d like to try it iced; second, I’d like to blend it with a chocolatey tea—I love Mounds candy bars; and third, I’d like to make it kind of like chai, with (soy) milk instead of water.

Tea amount: 1 sample packet (I didn’t measure it out, sorry.)
Water amount: 16oz./~475mL
Additives: ~1 level tbsp Demerara sugar

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

Good morning Nik! It IS a science experiment, it really is! All of life is Art, & it’s also one science experiment after another, especially in the areas of tea, food, & gardening!(At least, that’s how it is in my little world..) : )

Nik

Good morning! Indeed, you are correct, it is a branch of the science of nomology. =)

Bonnie

Ah, you were seduced by this tea. It happens to all of us. Which is why we are addicts (there are other colorful names I could use but won’t).

Azzrian

This is a good one!

K S

I have been following your Golden Moon reviews with interest. Their’s was some of the first loose leaf I ever tried. I couldn’t wait for your take on this one. I resteeped this nine times. I would have kept going but being new at tea I didn’t know I could keep the leaves overnight. This is a good one.

Terri HarpLady

I actually haven’t tried any of Golden Moon’s teas yet. I’ll have to add them to my list of companies to check out!

Nik

K S, that’s amazing. Nine times! Now I feel wasteful for disposing of the leaves after one steep. =) Terri, they’ve been kind of hit-or-miss with me, but I guess that’s true of most tea-tailers. I am glad that I got the massive sampler box; it’s been great to get a taste of so many of their teas.

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72

Green tea and 100%-natural-cherry-Juicy-Juice sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g…

Sometimes, I love being wrong. The “naturally & artificially flavoured” label on some of my other TCB&TL teas kind of turned me off, so I was a bit sceptical of this blend from the get-go. On top of that was the further concern, again based on prior experience, that the cherry fragrance and flavour would be very chemical in nature, or like cough syrup.

It turns out that I needn’t have worried. The tea is naturally flavoured. The fragrance of the dry leaves is two parts cherry Juicy Juice and one part green tea. The fragrance of the steeping tea is much more balanced, with the traditional “greenness” of green tea coming through clearly.

The flavour can best be described as “luscious.” It tastes, accurately, like a blend of cherry juice and green tea. Not maraschino cherries, not cherry cough syrup, just cherry juice. It’s a surprisingly lovely combination of flavours. As nice as it is brewed hot, though, I feel like it would be even nicer brewed cold. I’ll have to remember to put aside some of the bags so I can try this tea iced.

Tea amount: 2 bags
Water amount: 16oz./~475mL
Additives: ~1 level tbsp Demerara sugar

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Azzrian

Sounds YUMMY!!!

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Profile

Bio

2012.10.07: I hear people like to understand other people’s ratings, so here’s a loose guide:

01-29: Dear God, why.
30-49: I’ll finish this cup, I guess, but no more.
50-59: Meh.
60-69: Decent. Maybe I can blend it with something else and make it better.
70-79: Heeey, this is quite good!
80-89: I love it, but I’m not in love with it.
90-100: Permanently resident in my Happy Place.


Update: I have steeped, and it was good. =] Still a tea-ophyte, though.


This is a tea site, so I feel like “well, I’m Indian” should be enough of an introduction. Because, I mean, it’s kind of in my genes, right? But the fact of the matter is that I’m an absolute tea-ophyte.

I’ve just discovered a world beyond Celestial Seasonings. I’ve just discovered “sachets” instead of “normal” tea bags and bought my first loose tea sampler. I don’t get the whole water temperature and steep time thing yet, nor that if I want to get a yixiang tea pot, I’d need one for each type of tea. I have this infuser ball thing, but I haven’t used it yet.

Don’t cringe, but right now I’m still just boiling water and pouring it over a teabag, adding some sugar, and drinking a nice, hot cuppa. I’d like to learn more, I think, and I’d like to train my palate. I figure participating in this community is the best way to do that.

So ya. Hi!

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