300 Tasting Notes

70
drank Cotton Candy by Della Terra Teas
300 tasting notes

Whenever I’m in Sweden in late spring or early summer, my foremost summer-is-really-here ritual is to have soft serve ice cream with sprinkles. I tend to favour the chocolate sprinkles, but every now and then I go crazy and pick the tutti frutti ones. This tea, in the bag, smells exactly like that – the first ice cream of the season. Thick with creamy vanilla and studded with refined sugar-powered sprinkles.

It smelled so ridiculously good, I really had to try it. I generally go for fruity, floral rooibos, and I’m kind of sick of that now, so I figured it might be time to graduate to those birthday cake-y ones everyone seems to be raving about.

I have to admit I really like this one, which, hilariously, makes me feel a little dirty. It’s so unabashedly artificial it’s sort of like the Texan Beauty Salon Makeover of teas. Flavour wise, it tastes exactly as it smells, it’s like a melted vanilla soft serve ice cream with sprinkles in a cup. Spun sugar seems all wrong – it’s doesn’t even come close to that level of cloying sweetness, and it has nothing of the slightly caramelized, burnt note of good, freshly made spun sugar.

It’s vanilla-sweet and delicious and will definitely make me more open to dessertier rooibos blends in the future.

[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

the Texan Beauty Salon Makeover of teas ! ahahaha I imagine Sue Ellen with her brushing drinking an artificial pink cup of tea

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20
drank Lavender Earl Grey by Ovation Teas
300 tasting notes

Lavender Earl Greys are yet another of those tea categories I’m not quite comfortable with (I’ll probably need a good rest at a spa or something after this swap box sampling round.) but want to make some kind of final decision on. I decided to go with the steeping suggestion from KittyLovesTea’s review of this, as the full six-minute steep seemed too steep (Hue hueee. I guess we are doing puns this month. ) for me and my black tea issues.

The dry tea is all about the lavender to me. It efficiently drowns out any other scent notes, except possibly some small hint of the tea base. Steeped, the tea base acquires significantly more potency, and it’s roughly a 50/50 lavender/tea base (I don’t love) balance.

This is a really, really difficult one for me. It tastes so much like a fish dish I made once – it was oven-baked cod with rosemary and some kind of creamy topping. It was the strangest blend of really disgusting and really good – I still get freaky little cravings for it on the rare occasion. What made it problematic was the perfumey quality of the rosemary combined with the fish, and this strikes me as similar. The black tea base is pretty savoury, and to me that really collides with the perfume notes of the lavender. I think for a lavender EG to work for me, it needs to be far more delicately blended, and with a more complex taste structure.

Let me emphasize that the rating in no way reflects the quality of the tea, but my own severe hangups in terms of lavender EGs.

Thanks for sharing, KittyLovesTea!

[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

not my favourite EG neither. But I had a very lovely one from Gryphon teas. The Theodor one is quite good quality as always but too heavy on lavender for my taste.I do really prefer when lavender is very discrete.

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45
drank Peppermint Cream by Bluebird Tea Co.
300 tasting notes

My profile says, ‘No peppermint.’ so obviously it’s time to give peppermint another chance. It’s 2014! The year of tea bravery! Besides, I would really like to learn to enjoy minty teas.

In the bag, this smells very fresh and light; it’s all crisp, cool peppermint. In the cup, the scent seems much thicker, a little dirty – a gritty mint. The earth tone reminds me of gardening; a few years ago they sold me peppermint plants instead of regular mint by mistake and I didn’t notice until they started growing bigger (they were very small from the start) and I had to dig them up and banish them to a less coveted spot. (Don’t look at me like that. Think of the poor orphaned mojitos. Priorities, people!) This is exactly that – garden soil and crushed peppermint leaf.

Steeped, it’s… fair. It’s not the most aggressively evil peppermint I’ve tasted, but it’s not super mild. It doesn’t leave that minty coolness mouthfeel I have such a hard time with, and it’s consistent throughout the sip, taste wise. Unoffensive, fresh, clean and a little earthy.

That much said, I have not been converted – peppermint teas might just not be for me. Overall, I feel mint should be served in very small amounts, preferably inside some form of chocolate casing.

It was good to try, though, and definitely nice to add Bluebird to the list of tea companies I have tried. I’d never heard of them, but will consider placing an order with them after this – their website is great, the packaging pretty, they ship fairly cheaply within Europe, and they blended a peppermint tea I could actually finish a whole cup of. Definitely worth a try.

Thanks, KittyLovesTea for adding this to the box!

[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]

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

I have a problem with peppermint and boiling water. When peppermint (or any mint, actually, because a lot of mint on teas is another kind of mint) hits very hot water it goes bitter and weirdly spinachy to me.

My trick is to not brew teas with mint very hot. It works very well for green teas with mint (I am currently addicted to Casablanca), but it can baffling. I have a bit of Mariage Freres Rouge Sahara, which smells heavenly, good rooibos, roses and mint, and I loathed it till I learned the trick – cold brewing overnight. It went from loathe to crazy in love – though for me of course that is a summer tea!

Anna

That’s really interesting! I’ll pick up a sample of Rouge Sahara next time I’m at the MF shop. Definitely worth a try.

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85

I’d already committed to this one before realizing it was one of those nightmare samples.

1. It’s not in the database.
2. It’s barely googlable and not available to purchase online.
3. It turns out it’s an in-house (but possibly sourced) blend at this three-locations-in-the-entire-US coffee chain.
4. If I love it, there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to be able to score any more.

So let’s steep this sucker and hope for the worst!

In the bag, it smells really, really delicious. It’s strongly coconutty, but also a full-on, really gorgeous pistachio. I know it’s supposed to be almond, but this smells exactly like Sicilian pastry filled with pistachio cream. Sorry, almond flavouring – you and pistachio were switched at birth. In addition, this is a really, really beautiful tea – long strips of coconut, lovely shades of green. I’m sold.

In the cup, incomprehensibly, this just gets better. Coconut wise, this is as fresh as it comes. David’s Tea’s coconut always has a slight oiliness to it – I’m not saying it’s stale, but it’s mature coconut. Lupicia’s coconut is all coconut cream, a complete piña colada experience. But this? This is all fresh, crisp, pale, natural coconut.

Flavour wise, it’s not over the top, but definitely present. It’s a complete mouthfeel experience – I love how some teas are there, unapologetic, throughout the entire sip. This is definitely one of those – tongue tip-to-aftertaste delicious. It might just be the natural sweetness of the coconut, but I also get a vanilla-esque smoothness right at the end of the sip.

Well, this was completely awful. Who has an uncle in Blowing Rock, NC?

I would have loved to hold on to the remains of this, but since it seems so rare, I’ll drop it back into the box – I’d say the sample is good for about three more cups. Thanks a lot for sharing this one, KittyLovesTea!

[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
KittyLovesTea

I think I have a decent amount of this tea left. I swore this already had a review page :/ I got it from Chuckieroy last year and I hadn’t realised how un-sourceable this tea was.

Anna

Oh no, maybe I missed it was already in the DB! The search is so weird lately (also I have the attention span of a strung-out guppy, but really, let’s blame the search).

Also the review was really in good jest, loved the tea, and I’m sure I can find a way to get my greedy little hands on some more. You put so much good stuff in the box!

Nattie

Oooh, I hope I get to try this one! Sounds delicious

Anna

Yeah, I’ll drop in samples of the other two coconuts I’m referencing, if anyone else wants to make a comparison. =)

Nattie

Sounds great, thanks! I love coconut (:

sherapop

“nightmare samples” lol—or packets! Yes, I find that sometimes my tea choices for the day are altered by whether or not it will require a fact-finding mission in order to post a tasting note! It does not take that much time, but it does take some…

ashmanra

I went to Blowing Rock a few times. Lovely place! If I am ever there again I will look for the tea shop.

Anna

Haha, yeah – for me it was more the issue of possibly drinking an awesome tea and not having any clue where it came from or how to get more.

Anna

A-hah! ashmanra, I hereby name you our uncle in Blowing Rock!

mrmopar

Family 20 miles away from there. I will have to look closer the next time I visit.

Anna

This all sounds very promising, keep me updated. =)

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50

This is the second lemongrass I’m trying from the box. This one is a herbal, and as such (I never drink herbals! I have no idea why. It might be the lack of actual tea. Is that elitist? Eli-tea-st? Are we even doing puns this month? I’m so out of touch.) I had no idea how to brew it, so I used Scheherezade’s steeping parametres – 4 minutes at boiling.

In the bag, this didn’t smell like anything specific, just a vaguely citrusy whole, but fairly subtle. Brewed, though, it’s half Fox lemon toffee and half lemongrass, which is somewhat confusing, seeing as that’s about as broad a representation on the artificial —> natural scale as is even possible. After I let the cup sit for a few minutes, the scent slid all the way into lemongrass territory, however – again, confusing, seeing as lemongrass equals food to me, rather than beverage. I’m expecting this to be a savoury broth, but it’s not.

The confusion prevails as I sip my way through this – my brain thinks it’s having a plain broth to cleanse the palate between courses, and it refuses to accept that we’re actually drinking tea. It’s looking forward to a scented towelette in the near future. It’s anxiously anticipating the green mango salad and also, if possible, something cashewy, please. Is this a fusion place? Are there fancy cocktails to be had? Are we on a date? If so, do we get to make out later? And when is that salad coming?

It’s good; I’m glad I got to try some. It’s just not teaful enough to suit me.

Thanks to KittyLovesTea for sharing!

[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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80

One of my tea goals for 2014, in addition to Not Buying Any Teas in January (check) and Trying All The Peach Teas (working on it) is to try more unflavoured greens. This tea fits the bill.

My aggressive lack of knowledge about various tea regions and leaf types really puts a hamper on things, though – it’s very hard to discuss something completely out of context. I feel like I’m a kid at one of those Kid’s Day at the Art Museum type events – you know, a four-year-old pointing at a Mirò, howling, ‘Nana spilled lemonade on the wall!!!’

Cute? Yes. Helpful? No.

With this tea, for example, there is a dominant scent and flavour I can’t quite place – it’s not like something I’ve had before, but it’s sweet, and light, and subtly perfumed. It seems too easy to always retreat to ‘grassy’, or, ‘vegetal’, or ‘buttery’, or ‘hay-like’, because most unflavoured greens (and oolongs) have those characteristics to varying degrees.

I don’t quite know what to do about it – is this a typical LongJing? How do I know unless I drink more LongJings? Where do I find a LongJing to compare it to around midnight on a Sunday in Rome? (It’s probably best not to ask, there’s no telling what goes on in the park where I live after dark.)

It’s a little frustrating. I know I enjoyed the f*ck out of this cup and that it made me happy and smiley and that I really want to drink more unflavoured green teas.

That’ll just have to do for now.

[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]

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

I think you did an excellent job reviewing this tea. You have:sweet, light, perfumed. You have told us it is a green tea. That is all I need. And long jing = dragon well (don’t know if that helps at all).

Anna

Thank you, I really appreciate that.

And yes, the dragon well thing helps. I know I can and should (and I will) do more research on this as I go along – it’s just, research is what I do, all day, every day, and so far my tea hobby has been so completely removed from that.

Like, I know what a peach tastes like! And I have all these deeply personal recollections that go with a tea! And then I just write that down! So relaxing.

keychange

Your tasting notes are always awesome. Period. You describe things so perfectly. I only know one other writer like you.

Terri HarpLady

I think with tea reviews, at least here on steepster, we all enjoy hearing about one another lives, opinion, emotions, etc, as it pertains to this cup of tea, LOL. So well done! :D

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60
drank Lembranca - Lembrança by THE O DOR
300 tasting notes

As you can tell, I’m box-sampling way outside of my comfort zone this time around. Next up, lemongrass! There were two lemongrasses (uh) in the box, so I figured I’d compare, even if one is a yerba maté (this one) and the other a straight-up herbal.

I was surprised that I liked the scent of this one so much in the bag – I keep avoiding citrus, but it seems it’s just one of those Brian Roberts/Sally Bowles (Cabaret) situations, where those three girls were obviously just the wrong three girls.

Flavour wise, I get a slightly medicinal citrus – the tea reminds me so much of a type of citrus candy (I honestly think they were cough drops) my grandmother used to keep in her handbag. Aw, gramps. I remember how you always used to say, ‘If someone pokes you, KICK them in return!’ Always equally hilarious coming from a small Miss Marple-like old lady with a huge purse.

Strangely, though, I enjoy it. It’s sort of herbally and citrusy with no clearly distinguishable notes of any specific type of citrus, although I think it’s much closer to grapefruit than lemongrass. I could absolutely drink a few cups of this, and I have a feeling this is one of those I might experience a small, weird craving for in the future.

Thanks for sharing this, cteresa!

[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]

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

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80

On paper, this seems right up my alley. I remember smelling it in the Tel Aviv Palais des Thés last summer, too, and I liked it a lot. I know Palais get a lot of flak in terms of quality and pricing, but there’s something about their flavoured teas that really does it for me. They go down so smoothly, and they have this fresh, clean lightness to them that makes me think of the nights we spent watching the sea during that holiday we needed so badly.

Obviously, that’s my mnemonic illusion and no one else’s, but if my brain wants to play games with me and said games make me enjoy a tea others don’t – so be it. But don’t get any ideas, brain. I’m watching you.

There’s a very light kiwi here, and, I think, a bit of peach. Then there’s also the unmistakeable PdT vanilla, which has been growing on me ever so slowly. It’s not exuberant Lupicia vanilla, of course, but a very nice, subtle, warm vanilla.

I enjoy this tea very much, I want to buy it (Hey T. – heard you moved to Oslo, you know, where there IS A PdT STORE. Also I love you. Thanks. Kbye.) and keep it in my cupboard.

Thanks for sharing, KittyLovesTea!

[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]

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

Anna, I live in Tel Aviv, right next to the PdT shop. I could buy you some of this tea and send it to you, if you’d like. Message me if you’re interested.

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65

I’m so caffeinated now the selection process for this one went something like…

oh, peach

green peach

green peach, huh?

are there even green peaches?

or is it because the tea is green?

green peach

what a pretty fruit

all green

but peach like

yeah

…and then imagine that really pinball-staccato and jittery.

I have a peach obsession. If it says peach, I’m gonna peach. So I peached. I am absolutely not disappointed. There are some too-good-to-be-true natural peaches out there, such as Lupicia’s Momo, but then there are also slightly less natural (it sounds better than ‘more artificial’) peach versions, such as this one, that are really enjoyable. (Keep in mind, though, that I’m someone who will shamelessly hog a bag of Haribo peach candies. Hi, E100, hi, E120, Hi Artificial Flavouring! Is anyone else coming? Oooh, Sugar.)

Brewed, this one has that slight metallic hint to it that I’m so used to finding in teas from A.C. Perchs now that I almost exclusively associate it with their greens and whites. It’s also somewhat flat – not flat as in stale, but just not overly intricate, flavour wise.

I’d really like to cold-brew this one, so I think this gets to stay here in Villa Borghese with me.

Thanks for sharing, KittyLovesTea! I am now one step closer to trying all the peach teas in the world.

[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
cteresa

If you ever get the chance to buy Thé-o-dor´s Peché Mignon, do buy it. Green tea, and melon and peach and kind of glorious.

Anna

It’s so on the list – me and my friend are considering a joint The O Dor order a bit later in the spring!

cteresa

It might not be your cup of tea, maybe it is too predictable – but it´s one interesting peach tea! In fact I liked very much 3 of Theodor´s peach teas, not sure which to rebuy when I have that long promised splurge:

- Peché Mignon, is the green with peach and melon and so fruity and exhuberant.
- Melange de Galice (peaches and Galicia, I do not understand, but oh well) is a classical black tea with peach and vanilla.but why mess with classics
- Adele H is black tea with peach and pepper, lots of pepper, and a hint of other spices. Should be weird, but it´s charming.

Anna

I have both of the blacks on my ‘possibly’ list! I did as you taught me and searched the The O Dor website for ingredients, namely ‘peach’…

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60

So I continue to venture outside my tea comfort zone with this one. On the sample bag, as you EU-swappers will note, it says, ‘not a black tea’, but as cteresa points out in the forum thread, it is actually black, but should be treated as a green. Now, I’m someone who tends to slap her greens and call them names (deep down they like it), that is, brew them at 100C with a 1.5-minute steep – because I mostly drink Lupicia greens, and, before someone jumps down my throat concerning this very touchy subject – this is what Lupicia themselves recommend.

Either way, I went for some form of compromise – 90C at 2 minutes. The O Dor themselves recommend 85C for 3:45-4:30 (very specific, I like your OCD, Théodor mon chéri) but I didn’t feel like anything too strong.

In the bag, this had a somewhat minty tang to it, which was surprising. I assume this is just how the freshness of this leaf comes off to me scent wise, seeing as there’s not the slightest hint of anything minty in the brewed cup.

This is one of those blacks that work for me, especially lightly brewed as in this case. I definitely wouldn’t turn down a cup, but it’s not a tea I will crave or think about in the future.

Thanks to cteresa for adding this one to the box!

[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
cteresa

It´s too hot, way too hot, sorry! Treat this as if it was the gentlest of teas. 80 degrees, nevermind what Theodor says (and yesh, OCD. I got massives ammount of respect for companies which got different instructions for each tea)

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Profile

Bio

I’m going to try all the teas.

Then I will choose a lucky few perfect specimens, and we will live happily together in my tea cupboard.

Forever.

  • * *

2014

This year, all bets are off. I am going to drink both peppermint and chamomile and possibly suffer a little. But it’s okay – it’s for science.

I’m doing Project Jasmine, Project Peach and Project Unflavoured Green.

In terms of flavoured teas, Lupicia and Mariage Frères have become my massive favourites, and I have learned that Dammann Frères/Fauchon/Hédiard and Butiki aren’t really for me.

The O Dor, Adagio and Comptoir des thés et des épices are all on this year’s I’d like to get to know you better list.

2013

Getting back into tea drinking last fall, I was all about rooibos. This past spring has been all green tea, all the time, with some white additions over the summer. Currently attempting a slow, autumnal graduation to black teas. Oolongs are always appropriate.

The constant for me, flavour wise, is the strong presence of fruity and floral notes. Vanilla is lush, as long as it’s not artificial. Peach, berries, mango. Cornflower, rose, lavender.

No peppermint.

No chamomile.

No cinnamon.

Ever.

  • * *

My ratings don’t reflect the ‘What does this tea do for me?’ standard, but rather my own ‘What would I do for this tea?’ scale.

100-90
My absolute favourites. Teas I would travel for – or, in any case, pay exuberant postage for, because they simply have to be in my cupboard. Generally multi-faceted teas with complex scents and flavours. Teas with personality. Tricky teas.

89-80
Teas I wouldn’t hesitate to buy again if and when I came across them. Tea purchases I would surreptitiously weave into a travel itinerary (Oh! A Lupicia store! Here?! My word!).

79-70
Teas I enjoyed, but don’t necessarily need to make any kind of effort to buy again.

69-0
Varying degrees of disinterest and contempt.

Location

Rome, Italy

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