674 Tasting Notes
Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng Dragonwell Green Tea has arrived!
It seems like this tea present (more than purchase) will be arriving today (and the rest of this week) in households across North America and then around the World. ANTICIPATION!
I didn’t hesitate and went to the Verdant website, transferred all the information about the tea to Steepster so that we could review our Dragonwell together as it arrives.
Next, I read ‘How to Brew’ which I highly, HIGHLY recommend!
I chose the tumbler brewing method with 5oz. tea leaves, and luckily I had a gallon of Spring water left in the frig.
The quality of the water is very important with this particular tea.
With the tumbler method there was no straining of leaves, no timing of steepings and no worry. The process was very relaxed.
The leaves were jade green, very flat and had a fine white powder on them.
Following the brewing instructions carefully, I filled my tumbler and began blowing the leaves out of the way… sipping what looked like clear water.
That was fun.
I had to take off my glasses…the steam blinded me!
The sight of swirling green leaves and steam was beautiful.
Like the humid mist in the rain forest, I began to sip and think about green winged dragonflies, pure peridot colored leaves,
leaves swirling around like a school of fish.
I kept my eye on the level of the water in my tumbler and pushed the leaves away from my mouth by blowing on the leaves.
As the water level reached the lower third of the glass, I would fill it up again with water.
Blow on the leaves, sip, blow on the leaves, sip, pour in more water, blow on the leaves and sip.
That was all.
At times my technique of blowing leaves away and sipping had all the finesse of a whale sifting plankton. Some got caught in my mouth.
The flavor of the tea was savory soybean. This was the clearest, purest of pure flavors. No astringency, heat or bite. The sweetness was so subtle you hardly noticed.
The taste was soft but still rich and the mineral quality was like laying under a cool waterfall with the smell of wet granite and calcified rock.
As I continued pouring, the water turned pale green, and there was a bit of peppercorn heat.
My forehead became ‘tight’. Hum, I was aware that the tea was letting me know it’s potency. A well adorned object of beauty with hidden powers.
The last time I went swimming in the deep sea was 5 years ago in Kauai. The spot was off some enormous, jutting mountains (you might remember in ‘Lost’ or ‘Jurassic Park’) that go straight up and then straight down as jagged points back into the sea.
There in Kauai, the light penetrated the crystal water so deep that I watched small, flat, silver fish coming close to me then dart away. There was coral, giant marbled green rock…fern-like plants waving softly as though a gentle breeze was moving past them.
That is what I was thinking when I was drinking my tea. About the rocks, fish, sun and water, and the slow gentle movement of living things. I thought about me in the middle of it all floating.
When I finished my tea, I went to the cupboard, took down my small bottle of toasted sesame oil and put just a few drops on the tea leaves with a few grains of salt. (I could have added these to a salad but wanted to taste them as they were.)
They were delicious! Really, really good!
I can’t wait to hear the tasting adventures everyone else has with this tea. What fun, and what a pleasure to have this rare Dragonwell available to us.
This tea was elegant, refined and pure.
Thank you Mrs. Li for sharing your treasure with us!
Thank you Terri Harp Lady for this lovely tea sample!
My morning tea’s are usually strong. Regular favorites are a Keemun or Assam (Butiki), Laoshan or Breakfast Blend (Verdant), Black (Teavivre). Many times mornings are when I choose a Puerh for multiple steepings. Ah yes, I love rich tea!
Summer is fading fast into Fall. Yesterday it was 85 and today 66.
The temperature hops up, then down again but I’m beginning to notice some of the tree leaves starting to turn golden. Soon, the full leaf display of red, maroon, bronze and gold will flicker in the trees everywhere I look when driving around town. The snow geese will arrive in force! Great flocks of geese passing through, many thousands who stay and meld into the landscape with the great eagles, cranes and occasionally pelicans.
I looked at the end of my kitchen counter with ‘Tea to be reviewed’.
There was a packet of Peach Oolong that seemed curious. I’d never heard of such a thing.
I’d tasted an essence of peach while drinking tea but I never had tasted a real “flavored” peach tea before. I decided to try it out.
I used a Finum filter and brewed the tea 3 minutes. I poured half the tea in a tasting cup to drink plain, and the other half was kept in the mug and I sweetened that half.
The wet leaves were filled with little pieces of minced peach and large unfurled green Oolong leaves. The aroma was mild peach and vegital.
The color surprised me. The liquor was mauve. There’s something in the tea mixture that made the tea a blush mauve. (a purple very small little stick hard to see, maybe roselle)
First I tasted the unsweetened tea. It was slightly floral orchid tasting and sweet. As the tea cooled the sweetness increased and the slightly acidic fruit flavor of peach with the floral Oolong tea blended very well together.
The sweetened tea version was my favorite.
Let’s face it, who wants a half ripe peach? If you can control the sweetness and have a fully ripe, floral peach flavor…well…do it! (which is what I did!)
The combination of the floral orchid Oolong (which I must say was smooth and gentle) and the luscious ripe and juicy peach was perfect.
Now that I’ve tasted my first Peach Oolong…I want more.
I think Peach and Oolong go well together!
Thank you Terri Harp Lady for this sample tea (But just wait, you won’t be thanking me in a minute!)
I read your review about how this Diamond Anniversary of the Queen, delicious tea is boyfriend ’Tony’s’ FAVORITE! But it’s not your favorite is it miss Terri?!
I must say this…
I am with TONY!
Your BF and I might just make some sweet oooh’s and ahhhh’s over this good tasting bergamot orange tea! I didn’t even think it was bitter or too strong tasting! It was delicious!
So watch out! (Hee Hee)
Tell ol’ Tony not to worry,…but I love this tea.
My pot of tea was smooth and rich. Really rich in a way that didn’t have any of the floral cream flavor that some bergamot tea’s have. This was black tea, bergamot, orange and smoothness.
I haven’t reviewed Laoshan Black in some time. I love this tea!
I’ve always been a bit of an experimenter, (or eccentric some would say). If I have an idea, instead of chuckling to myself and dismissing it, I sometimes carry it out.
Usually what I dream up is harmless.
For instance: One time I drove down Skyway (Paradise,CA) blowing bubbles from the Moon Roof of my Volkswagen Super Beetle. (It looked cool!)
But there have been more dangerous occasions.
One time I thought I’d be slick and get a cheap haircut by going to a barbershop. The shop smelled of Ultra Sheen and Vitalis (This was when I was a Vista Volunteer in Philadelphia in the 60’s)
The barbershop had two swivel chairs placed on a platform towards the back of the room. I was seated in one chair facing the front door. There were old men sitting in their regular chairs and young men coming in to look at the dumb California girl in her mini-skirt getting a haircut. Clip, clip, clip.
When all of a sudden an angry man busted in the door with a gun!
I froze in my chair but didn’t change my expression one bit (you can’t look scared). I was a neon sign blinking ‘shoot me’ sitting in that chair! However, the gunman was looking for someone who wasn’t in the shop…(but I think I surprised him too and he shot me a shocked glance and left)! That shook me up for a day!
Why am I telling you these stories? (I wanted to tell a story as I always do for one thing…ha) I also wanted to say something about taking chances, doing something on a whim. (When I was young I didn’t think about the chances I was taking like I do now.)
Today while I was getting ready for Church I thought, “Hey, why don’t I bring my tea things with me and make some tea during brunch after the service?!” (That sounded brilliant!)
I gathered some Laoshan Black, a teapot and everything needed for brewing ‘proper tea’.
After Liturgy, I hurried to the Community Hall and heated water, and set up my serving spot. Everything was ready.
I poured water on the tea leaves, sat at the end of a long table and invited several friends to come have some tea with a stupid smile on my face I’m sure!
No response! The best laid plans of mice and men as they say…
I got a couple of comments from my two old Brooklyn friends…
“Wha? We got coffee hea.” Later Peter did come over and had some tea with me…(God Bless Peter!)
I offered tea to the young lady next to me. She commented that the tea didn’t need sugar or anything (points for her) and that it was obviously a good tea (more points).
A man looked at me like I was crazy when I offered him tea. (The devils work! (He was from Greece and unless this was Chamomile and he was sick…no chance he was drinking tea!).
Finally a younger man in his 20’s came by with a light in his eyes.
“TEA?”, he asked.
“Yes!”, I said with a smile.
I let him smell the leaves.
“Um, rich!”, he said. He liked my tea!
Then I opened a bag of Oolong that I had with me and he swooned.
“Look for me next week if you’d like to try some of this”, I said.
So week one of my whim…my experiment didn’t go over very well. But, all I need is to ‘convert’ one person, then another and soon…I’ll have a little group of tea drinkers on Sunday mornings!
One thing for sure, everyone looked surprised at the scent of the leaves, the smell of the wet leaves and the smooth cocoa flavor of the tea. It was as though a new door opened and they didn’t know how to process the experience. I remember when that happened to me the first time.
This was a whim and things don’t always turn out the way you think they will. At first I was a little disappointed, but I’m not giving up. I’ve decided to keep bringing my tea things and see how it goes.
My ‘Brew’ before scooting out the door to Church on a beautiful Sunday cool morning!
When I went online a few weeks ago to order a few Kally Tea’s, I had trouble with ordering off the website so I made a call and ordered over the phone. I have to say that the 30 minutes or more chatting with the owner was a fun time. He lives in the ‘High Desert’ in California and is passionate about his tea. I hope to see Kally next year at the Boulder Tea Festival!
I notice when smaller companies attempt interesting blends using real fruits, flowers, nuts and natural flavoring. When I can afford to, I give them a try and support their effort.
This Earl Grey was a pick for me because of the flowers, caramel and apples. I don’t drink much EG…so this combination sounded interesting and delicious.
The package recommended a 3 minute steep, but after steeping my tea for that amount of time, I would hold back a bit to 2.5 minutes if you plan to add cream and sugar. A 2 minute steep would be enough for plain tea.
Wheee this was bold. In fact, I had to add cream and sugar because the tea was almost bitter it was so strong.
There was the Earl Grey bergamot flavor which you look for and a hint of caramel apple. Instead of those flavors taking over and hiding the Earl Grey, those flavors are enhancements in the background.
Why even buy an Earl Grey then cover it up!
This tea has a nice flavor but you need to cut down the steep time. When I have this again, I’ll make any adjustments to my steeping and the rating.
Off and away!
I want to sing “We Are The Champions…My Friends…” twang, twang…
I survived 2 grandsons overnight and slept on my couch fully clothed and not that comfortable. I watched a kid movie and liked it and kept the condo from loading up with discarded cups, plates and boy clothes. We had a grand time.
Ian drew me a picture of the word TEA in big letters with the T filled with tea leaves, the E had a leaf adornment and the A (a) looked like a teapot. Very cute.
After dropping the boys off at home, I stopped at “Sprouts” (natural foods) and picked up this LARGE canned tea from Denver. I was hot and tired and it was cold, inviting and local.
When I got home,the tea was good and cold. I opened the can and poured it into a big glass, threw in a little more ice…drank some and oh what a good cherry tea!
When I was a little girl, the journey from San Jose over the mountain to Santa Cruz Beach with my parents was HOT. No cars had air conditioning unless you were rich. Even then you didn’t turn on the air going up a hill.
We would sit in traffic winding slowly up and over the hills all hot, sweaty, and cranky. It was horrible. When we got to the Summit…we hit a wall of cool ocean air that refreshed us as we descended down towards the beach. Right at the bottom in Scotts Valley there was a series of 10 cent, ‘All You Can Drink’ fruit juice stands with huge crocks of iced juice. Apple juice, Orange, Peach, Apricot, Ciders, Plum, Pear, Grape and Cherry. Yes…Cherry!
Iced and cold Cherry! None of the juices were artificial or sweetened. All were icey cold and all you could drink for a DIME!
Wow, that was good! (I just got carried away with the memory!)
This is my first memory of choosing food or drink and mixing flavors. A foreshadow of things to come.
It’s hard to find cherry anywhere these days and real authentic cherry flavor is rarely done right.
This cherry tea was good. It didn’t have an artificial taste, and no sourness.
Just a really nice Cherry Tea flavor.
My grandsons, Ian (11) and Donovan (9) spent the night and this morning they asked for TEA before anything else! (Well trained boys!) (Mom is away with 15 year old daughter Kiah learning about sustainable living. The 6 other kids have been farmed out to friends because dad has to work weekends.)
When I picked the boys up from school yesterday,we went straight to Happy Lucky’s for tea. This is expected. Tea with Grandma!
This review will be a combined one. We are writing it together.
All the boys have their own gonfu tea sets, and a collection of tea’s at home. (They admit to drinking tea more in Winter than Summer)
The mood this morning was snowboarding competition (Red Bull Snow Scrapers) on a sports channel. (not a bad backdrop for drinking tea)
Both boys were in PJ’s on the couch with trays and mugs. I fixed a pot of this tea and poured some for each boy and myself. We smelled the wet leaves.
Ian said the leaves smelled like Chai.
Donovan agreed the leaves smelled like spice.
We all began drinking tea which was lightly sweetened, and then we added a little cream. (This was the request of the boys)
I thought the tea tasted a little perfumy. This might have been the honey flakes…not sure. I had noticed big flakes of pistachio nuts in the dry leaf. At first I thought the tea tasted odd but later, I began to like the taste. The flavors reminded me of Italian and Middle Eastern Pastries.
Ian and Donovan said they liked the tea. Ian said the tea tasted like coffee and Chai (flowery sweet). (Who’s coffee had he been dipping into at home?)
Donovan said the tea tasted like the Assam Strong Malt tea that I let him taste at Happy Lucky’s yesterday (good call).
True ‘drinkability’ test? The boys finished the pot of tea!
I’m not sure why, but this was a quirky tea. A different taste.
If you get a chance to try this tea, don’t judge too quickly.
Think about Baklava with pistachio’s and honey that you find in authentic Middle Eastern shops. This tea tastes more like those than Biscotti I think.
Gotta go watch TV with the boys!
I am surprised to be the first reviewer of this tea (and pleased at the same time since I have great respect for Stacy and Butiki Tea!)
I first noticed this Black Tea at the end of the list of on the Butiki Website and the notes describing floral,chocolate and pecan flavors were intriguing. I’d also learned that Stacy likes to steep her tea for a long time…really long. I sometimes do the same (although she wins) and I thought that if this tea tastes that good with a longer steep, I wanted to have some for my own cupboard.
The leaves were small, curly and a 50/50 mix of gold and black leaves from Yunnan, China.
The steep time was 5 minutes
The comments for this tea were correct when they said the tea is mildly malty. I wouldn’t have guessed that. Usually chocolaty tea’s have a hefty amount of malt as a supporting base but not here, and there was a definite cocoa taste.
Honey flavor was easy to pick up but the nutty and floral taste came in after the tea had cooled and lingered in my mouth.
This was a smooth and mild black tea but one that wasn’t flat. The flavors were rich and thick enough for adding milk and sweetening which I did for my morning cup.
This day marks a year since I traveled with my granddaughter Schey to Alaska, Canada and Washington State. Today was our last “Cruise” day before a week in Washington. We were heading to beautiful Victoria, B.C. (Wow did Victoria look beautiful at night!Lit up like Christmas in September!) and believe it or not, our two week trip was sunny!
What a wonderful time!
Every day there was a ‘tea’ on board ship. We went to a big Indonesian Tea one afternoon, and in Victoria we went to the Empress and bought more Tea. I bought some Canadian Maple Tea in another shop.
Now remember, I had never heard of Steepster. I had never tasted ‘loose leaf tea’. I was almost blind because I needed operations on both my eyes. EVERYTHING was different in my life a year ago!
This morning when I drink this Butiki Tea and discribe how it looks…I can SEE it! It’s beautiful. And I am writing a review on
Steepster with all my new friends! (Unbelievable!)
I am reviewing tea and enjoying it with a knowledge that makes me laugh…I mean…how can this be? It’s been less than a year since I’ve been on Steepster!
For me to say, “I think this is a grand Black Tea” with some knowledge about it is humbling. I’m fortunate that everyone on Steepster has taught me so much (including Stacy) and shared in swaps fine tea’s so that I know that this is indeed a fine tea.
Oh my? I’m the first to review this Mate!
Yesterday was the first real rain in 70+ days on the Frontrange. It’s about time! I can’t remember the last time the temperature dipped below 90 degrees.
The refreshing rain and dip to the high 60’s was similar to the feeling you get when you jump into a cool pool on a hot day.
Today the air was scrubbed clean and the sun was out, drying up the last little puddles of water. No forecast of heat to come (Amen to that!), but a real Fall cool-down in the 80’s then 70’s and next month 60’s and the big drop off to Winter and snow. Growing up in California there was no anticipation of Season’s. I enjoy my new life with the definition of time passing linked to weather like a seasonal quilt made by Currier and Ives.
I had one last Whispering Pines Tea from my order to review. One nice caffeinated Mate that I’d been waiting for the right morning to try. The tea matched the weather and my mood so I boiled the water and steeped the tea 5 minutes as directed.
I was impressed! I didn’t expect to enjoy this herbal tea as much
as I did!
The ginger wasn’t bitter, not too strong or too weak either. It tasted just right. The same with the lemon. Not overpowering or bitter.
There was a buttery creaminess that blended well with the lemony ginger flavor. It was very smooth and gentle. And of course (this being Whispering Pines Tea Company) there was the slightest hint of smoke.
When the Mate cooled, the ginger heat intensified which was nice. Other than that, I liked this blend and would drink it on many a chilly Fall or Winter morning!
A tasting note, wrapped in a story, wrapped in an event.
This may be my most difficult review to date. It will be off the cuff, unbridled and from my heart. If this is not to the liking of everyone, there are other reviews and no need to read mine. I’m not preaching my religion either, but it is who I am and I’m not ashamed.
How do I write a review when there has been another tragic death on a day when we are still mourning the losses of 9-11?
In my own lifetime the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Vietnam and Desert Storm, bombings and kidnappings of U.S. Citizens. I’ve learned that you can’t ever let the bad things that happen in life win by turning you into a hateful, bitter person.
Life goes on. There’s always good in the World even though good news doesn’t get much time in the Press.
This Tea and My Story
The Oolong tea leaves were so large (and almost black) that I held them in my hand, juggling an amount that was almost 1.5TB. That was just enough for the Finum tea basket and mug method of brewing.
The steepings are so short, 3-5 seconds and increasing 1 second each steep, making sure to control the timing.
I brought my electric kettle filled with spring water to the boil, rinsed the leaves once and began the first steep.
The aroma of the wet leaves were like roasted short ribs with caramelization on them and everything! (Now of course I wanted some ribs…they smelled so good!)
I put my nose down close to the liquor and inhaled.
The scent was like incense in an old Church when the wood has been permeated with candle soot and resinous incense.
Then I took a sip of tea, curious about how this incense scent would taste.
The flavor was sweet deep mango and floral incense (but not bitter), vibrating in my mouth with intensity. I was having a difficult time pinning down the floral notes because the complexity and power of the tea was distracting me. There was great robust flavor and smooth softness at the same time, then a cool camphor-like vapor, arriving after some time of contemplation.
The scent and flavor made me think of the All Night Vigil during Holy Week (Easter). I signed up to read a portion of the Psalms usually at 1 or 2AM.
I entered the Church which was completely dark other than 1 Vigil light on the Altar and 1 light on the Readers Stand. The whole Church was filled (even petals on the floor) with the scent of roses, gardenias, carnations, laurel and flowers from services held every day during Holy Week. And of course INCENSE! (All incense is natural such as the one this tea reminds me of, ancient Ethiopian Frankincense…which is in little light pinkish pellets.)
As I would stand reading the Psalms until the next person arrived, all was quiet and intensely fragrant. My mouth was reading out loud, but my heart was praying. It was tranquil and beautiful.
When I was drinking this tea through several additional steepings, and began to taste a little of the cinnamon flavor (not sweet cinnamon or bitter but the dry kind), fuzzy textured fruit and floral honey, I could not stop remembering standing in the church smelling the incense and flowers.
The Vigil wasn’t mournful. It was hopeful.
With every tragic event that has happened and will continue to happen in the world, the choice we each have is to be angry, seek revenge, be depressed or, be wise and love each other in the face of it all.
I pray that we are wise enough to love each other.