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Recent Tasting Notes
My second pu-erh from Arbor Teas! This one didn’t brew up as dark and coffeelike as the Ancient Palace, but the taste is very similar.
The tea leaves smell stronger, however. I steeped mine at a little over 5 minutes, but next time I think I’ll try for longer. This infusion is delicious, don’t get me wrong, but I am in the mood for something very, very flavorful. It has that “aged” flavor that I described earlier with my first pu-erh, and it tastes just as smooth. It has a very soothing quality to it, and the flavor makes me feel sort of nostalgic for some reason, though I am still unfamiliar with these teas.
All in all, this is definitely worth trying and experimenting with. Which I will. And I’m sure these experiments will involve honey. Mmm. Off to work!
I have a problem. I love smoky teas. Simply love them. And this is a problem why? Because there are a lot of good smoky teas out there that I would enjoy having around… but I don’t think I really need 18 different lapsangs in my pantry. (Okay, realistically it’s more like five or six, but that’s still probably a wee bit excessive.) It’s just too hard to choose between all the good smokies out there to decide what truly needs to have a place in my pantry.
Take this tea, for instance. It’s tasty! The initial smell of the dry leaves was of bacon and campfire and was almost a bit rough/heavy smelling – I really thought this was going to be a bit heavy handed. But after steeping, the smell melded into a gently smoky tea that makes me think of crisp fall days with campfires burning in the distance. It’s not as sweet as some of the Bohea teas I’ve had lately but it isn’t tarry, heavy or thick like some not-quite-as-yummy Lapsangs I’ve had in the past (or those that require milk to smooth). Instead, it’s smooth, soft and I’m pretty sure I can taste actual tea under that smoke – shocking! There’s even a flash of something very fresh and almost vegetal green tasting – just a flash.
The second steep (4:00) isn’t quite as soft and tea-y than the first steep but it’s still quite tasty, reminding me of Golden Moon’s Lapsang Souchong, which really got me started on my smoky tea love. As it cools, the smoke taste smoothes back out and it almost starts to taste like I put a pinch or two of raw sugar in it. Really enjoyable.
So we get back to my problem. There are just too many good smoky teas out there that I want to give a good home – and this is one of them. I think when my GM Lapsang runs out, I’ll have to see how this one fits in that gently-smoky-and-light-textured smoky tea niche that the GM Lapsang has been filling lately. I think it will do very nicely.
This is a really lovely Oolong. The liquor infuses to a lovely amber color. The aroma is somewhat woodsy and vegetative to me. The flavor has a beautiful underlying sweetness to it, I can taste an apple-ish quality to the tea. It has a deep woodsy undertone to it. Some earthiness and just a hint of vegetative quality to the taste – the fragrance of the tea is more vegetative than the actual taste.
A very nice Oolong!
I chose this one as my final evaluation sample from Arbor Teas, as I’ve had good experiences with tuo chas in the past and wanted to see how this one measured up. I like that each piece is individually wrapped – it just appeals to the packaging nerd in me. The smell of the cake is mild, with a little bit of grain/cereal to it.
I gave it a quick rinse in hot water and then set it up for four minutes of steeping. The resulting liquor was dark and cloudy brown, and did not have the same level of reddishness to it I’d gotten used to seeing in pu-erhs. My first impression of the flavor was its full and savory character – similar in that way to the Camel’s Breath tuo cha from CTG, but dialed back just a bit.
This does not have the wonderful sweetness I got from Arbor Teas’ special grade pu-erh, but it does have lots of deep, stewy flavors. This might sound crazy, but I can actually imagine this iced next to a plate of ribs. Okay, that might actually be really nasty, but those are the kinds of flavors this one reminds me of. Looks like there’s plenty of strength left for multiple steeps, so I’m planning to give this another couple rounds later today.
This is the second Arbor Teas sample in a row I’ve tried which has a noticeable natural sweetness to it. There aren’t many teas I’ve found this quality in (most notably CTG’s competition grade Tie Guan Yin), but when I do I find it really enjoyable.
This oolong does a great job of walking the line between green and black characteristics, showing vegetal notes along with some roastiness and tannins. It’s got a very rich mouth feel, with a great juicy quality to it. In addition to the typical tea flavors, I’m getting hints of fruit and spice, making it an interesting tea for sipping and trying to figure out. Really nice cup of tea. Didn’t have time to do multiple infusions this time, but will next time.
I don’t usually like Jasmine tea but this is exceptionally different. I tend to find jasmine teas bitter and disgusting which is definitely not the case for this one. This tea was actually tasted like jasmine, was not bitter at all and was very enjoyable.
I didn’t put any sugar in this cup but think that it would be a nice additive to the second cup (just for fun).
I would whole heartedly suggest drink this tea while studying. It really does “zen” you out! ;)
This is a lovely Yunnan. The taste is smooth and there is an underlying creamy, caramel-y sweetness that is very nicely played against the other notes in this tea. I am tasting notes of spice – almost peppery. Beautifully autumnal.
I’m off to write a review for this for the SororiTEA Sisters blog!
Another evaluation sample from Arbor Teas. The dry leaf has the typical loose pu-erh look and feel: smallish curls of leaf, a somewhat dusky brownish/orange color, and earthy smell without being overpowering.
I gave it about six minutes to see how it would take a fairly long first steep, and it came out like a champ. Dark, opaque brownish red liquor and a smooth, almost malty aroma. The taste is wonderful – there’s a natural sweetness to it that I haven’t found in any other pu-erhs. It really tastes like I’d put some sugar in it. It has a very full flavor but it is not bitter – the earthiness is deep and very satisfying. One of the best pu-erhs I’ve tasted!
I only had a sample but I may have to change that. I like it. It is a very smooth tea with a little woody flavor, but also nuts and cocoa. I had it with my buttered toast and bacon this morning. Very nice.
This is a winner! Light and a subtle plum taste. Not tart at all. I had this warm but I am sure this would be great iced…I am definitely ordering this one. Wish more companies provided flavored oolongs.
This tea is something I would add to my list of regular morning tea’s I would drink on my 45 minute commute to work. I’ve had to try it twice two different days to fully appreciate the taste of the tea. At first taste, the flavor of it is plain, not particularly strong, and with no extra flairs. It leaves behind a subtle smoky aftertaste behind. After drinking the tea for a while the full flavor of the tea is apparent, gentle and easy to drink. It makes a good tea to have on the run because it is easy to drink (I personally don’t like trying to quickly drink something that is super strong).
I feel like I shouldn’t be the first one to review this tea, because in a minute, I am going to come off sounding like an enormous newbie. This is my first real pu-erh, as the cheap bagged chrysanthemum blend by Asian Taste I tried earlier doesn’t count. (Even though it was very tasty.)
Upon first sniff, I was a little intimidated. Not to be offensive, but this tea smells exactly like fish food to my inexperienced senses. As it brewed, I was stunned at how dark it became. I had never seen tea so black before, almost like coffee. It had a dark ambery red tint to it as well. I was so intrigued at this point. And the liquor itself lost the fishy scent.
For a tea this dark, I would never have expected it to be so smooth! It’s not bitter or sharp at all, and hardly astringent. It just tastes like mellow, good black tea. I really like it. It has a sort of taste in it that I can’t identify… it’s a sort of “aged” flavor that’s hard to describe. There’s also something in this that sort of reminds me of pekoe. Anyway, I think it’s great! And the caffeine content makes it a lot of fun. Honey would compliment it well, I think. EDIT: I think I’ve tasted something like this before in a bottled Thai tea.
I’m fairly over-caffeinated right now after about 2L of tea today and not all that much food. But I’m having so much fun with my new teas that I’m just going to ignore the slight tremor in my hands because I really wanted to get to this tea today. Good thing I don’t need to go to sleep early tonight!
These leaves are (relatively) larger and not as uniform as CTG’s Keemun and Adagio’s Anhui Keemun. Any chance there is a correspondence between leaf size and tea quality?
The dry leaves smell very… starchy? Bready? Toasty? It’s very different from Adagio’s Anhui Keemun but is still attractive. Brewed up, it smells smoky and starchy. I’m oddly reminded of plantains. And something raw/green that reminds me of a Nilgiri.
The taste managed to surprise me. Based on the smell, I was expecting something a little rough and raw tasting. But it’s very sweet – a grain-type sweetness – and notes that alternately remind me of coffee and something almost floral/fresh. There is an overall dryness to the tea – it’s not very strong but it is solidly there and makes me think of a red wine aftertaste. As it cools, I get something that is more Nilgiri like, but more pleasant than any Nilgiri I’ve had.
It’s not what I was expecting with a Keemun but I did manage to drink it quickly. I can’t say I’d reach for this when in a Keemun mood, but I don’t think it’d be totally ignored in my pantry either.
ETA: Ah-ha! I just figured out what that green/raw-ish taste reminds me of – a green rooibos! Seriously, it does! (And green rooibos is the next tea up because I do not need any more caffeine today!)
More new tea! This one from Arbor Teas’ fair trade selection. When I first started drinking tea a few years ago, it seemed like there were only about three fair trade and five organic teas. Anywhere. And they were all kind of meh tasting but cost twice as much as normal teas. So when I went to see what samples I might want to try from Arbor Teas, I really figured that they wouldn’t have that many options. Dude, they have a lot. Seriously, have I been that far out of the Fair Trade/Organic tea loop or were there always lots of options and I just didn’t know where to look?
Anyway, I’m really excited to try this one, mostly because the only green pu-erh I’ve tried was CTG’s Sticky Rice one which gave me the idea I might actually like green pu-erhs. This one will be the ultimate test to see if I really do!
First off, the tuo-cha is surprisingly heavy so I broke it in half for my 10oz mug. The leaves are soft and furry and look somewhat Silver Needle-like. I did a rinse then steeped for about 30s. The liquor is very light and smells softly honeyed/musty.
The taste is delightfully surprising – sweetly musty, soft, smooth and earthy but light, not heavy/syrupy earthy like a cooked pu-erh. There are hints of hay in the sweetness and sometimes a faint honey. The aftertaste is deliciously nectar-y and pretty. I was worried about the possibility of bitterness (since CTG’s has a tendency to get bitter if you steep even slightly too long) but there is no hint of bitterness or even any astringency here – it’s very smooth. The lack of bitterness makes me think I might steep it just a little longer next time to get a bit stronger flavor but then I think that for something like this, a fainter first steep isn’t unusual.
The second steep (40s) is much darker and has an allover stronger scent and flavor, but it is just as pretty – lovely musty, sweet, honeyed smoothness with a bit of a richer flavor than the first steep and a hint of more normal pu-erh earthy but still not the overly sweet syrupy earthy that is just too much for me. There also seems to be a fair amount of honey in the aftertaste. It actually reminds me of a tasty Silver Needle tea. I’m not sure if that’s a normal green pu-erh taste but honestly, I don’t really care because this is the type of pu-erh I can totally get behind.
The third steep (~45s) is smooth and rich and earthy and nectary and a little heavier but not too heavy… There’s an almost… bready note to it too? Kind of like wheat bread or perhaps toast? It’s hard to really peg but it’s super-tasty.
I was a little wary of this tea, mostly because I’ve tried a mint tea before and was appalled. But when I saw it on the sample list, I decided to go for it anyway. I love the taste of spearmint, so I figured I would try it again. (This time from a reputable source…)
I’m very glad I did. This tea is milder than I expected, but in a good way. It’s not overpowering at all, as I was sort of expecting to be hit by it like a stick of 5 gum. No, this is smooth and fresh tasting, almost as if there was fresh mint used instead of dried. The gunpowder green tea’s taste itself is overshadowed by the mint, but I don’t mind. It’s especially soothing since I’ve had a sore throat all day. It was nice coming home from working a double to a cup of this on the couch.
It leaves a very clean feeling in the mouth, sort of like the feeling after brushing your teeth. Again, another winner from Arbor Teas’ Fair Trade department. I could see myself keeping this around for when I want a cup before bed.
I’m not usually a huge fan of white teas… well, at least until now I wasn’t. I’ve had some negative experiences with it in the past, but this tea sort of pushes all that away.
Upon first look, this is a beautiful tea. I don’t think the picture does it justice. The brilliant red-orange flower petals mixed with the silvery and green tea leaves compliment each other well. I steeped it by the book, exactly 180 degrees for three minutes flat. The liquor is a pale and clear yellow, as one would expect. And the smell of it brewing… like others have said, just like candy, but without the artificial qualities. It just smells deliciously of sweet fruit. Ever so pleasant.
The taste is very light and delicate, almost apple-like. It seems very clean and smooth to me, and has hardly any aftertaste aside from the pomegranate flavor. I can imagine this would be fantastic over ice. It is definitely going on my Shopping List. I have been very impressed with Arbor Teas since I’ve had the opportunity to sample them, and this tea was no exception.
A fan of white tea as well as pomegranate flavored anything, I was eager to try this tea out when ask to pick out samples from Arbor Teas. When I opened the packaged the tea arrived in, the tea has a surprisingly sweet aroma and a wonderful look to it. The colorful floral accent added a nice flair to the tea as it steeped in my glass French press. Once steeped, the tea has a remnant of the original smell from the package, but it was much softer and subtle.
The tea has a wonderful flavor at first taste but doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste. Its incredible light, and perfect for an after meal drink or something to unwind with after a hard day of work (which is what I am doing now!) . I am not much of a fan of sweet tea’s, this one is sweet but not so sweet that it is overpowering. Overall, the Arbor Tea’s Pomegranate White tea is a good tea when in need of some cheering up or something that is a little sweet refresher! (oh! and don’t forget its organic too so it’s good for you!)
Like some others floating around, I received some Fair Trade tea samples from Arbor teas to try. Very exciting! I’m kind of hit or miss with flavored non-black teas typically, but that doesn’t stop me from trying them. And this one’s description sold me with the “subtle nectar” thing. I like nectar.
The tea smells very fruit-flavored hard candy, but not in a synthetic or unpleasant way. And I say ‘fruit’ flavored because, while I’ve had pomegranates before, I have difficulty associating something not an actual pomegranate with pomegranate flavor. So ‘fruit’ it is – very sweet and berry-fruit-like. If I close my eyes, it smells like it would be a thick, slow-moving, dark red syrup.
The taste is surprisingly frisky. It doesn’t taste like a heavy, rich syrup. It is still sweet, but it’s light and playful, not slow and heavy. It’s very refreshing and the taste gave me a really nice pick-me-up. It makes me feel perky.
The second steep (3:00) is not quite as perky but seems very nicely balanced. The berry-fruit-pomegranate flavor is a tad softer and seems to match and blend really well with (what I assume is) the nectary taste of the white tea. This has a richer taste but works out well since the flavoring is a hint lighter so it doesn’t seem overwhelmingly flavored or fake. Just like a white tea with very noticeable pomegranate (fruit-berry) notes.
I still have a little weirdness with this tea just because it is a flavored non-black. For some reason I have a mental block towards those most of the time. Though this one is nice enough that I could definitely see picking some up if I wanted a berry-ish tea or a flavored tea in the evenings. Fun stuff!
Thank you Arbor Teas for sending these wonderful samples my way. I was quite curious to try a tea from Viet Nam and I can report that it is quite good. It is certainly not as brisk or astringent as other Assams I have sampled. Which is a good thing. I am trying to cut down my sugar use and I do not want some astringent tea that needs to be smothered in sugar to make it palatable. In fact, it was quite mild w/ a background note of molasses as described by Arbor teas. Possibly could work as an afternoon tea as well as a morning tea. Luckily, I still have some left and am looking forward to trying it tomorrow.
This tea comes across with a sort of fierce confidence compared to the calm, mellow darjeeling I tried earlier. The leaves are more tightly rolled and darker, almost black. The scent is sharper as well, and it has that distinct Ceylon signature.
Within seconds the water turned a deep reddish amber. I was impressed. This would be excellent on a cold morning, as the caffeine level feels pretty high. As usual, I added sugar to compliment the pleasant bitterness. I personally love Ceylon, so this was a real treat. It’s much better than any of the Ceylons I’ve tried from Adagio and other random places.
Also, I’d like to mention that not only is this tea certified organic, Fair Trade, and delicious, it comes in a compostable bag. Everything about this tea is biodegradable. I highly recommend it.
I’m celebrating Fair Trade Month early with my first darjeeling. Thank you, Taylor!
I knew I was going to like this tea the second I opened the bag and sniffed. It smelled so deliciously sweet and enticing, but dark. Like the woods in fall. The leaves don’t look like a traditional black I’m used to. They were a lighter brown, and had bits that remind me almost of a white tea mixed in.
I could hardly wait the five minutes I let it steep. The initial flavor is a cultured, smooth black tea with a hint of honey. It also has a sort of fruity zest to it, sort of lemony. There is no bitterness at all, and it is not astringent in the least. I can suddenly understand why people call darjeelings “the champagne of tea”.
This might be my mainstay black tea from now on.
I just received several Arbor tea samples for evaluation and happen to be in the mood for Darjeeling today, so this one is up to bat. Before I get into the tea though, I want to mention their packaging – the samples are in biodegradable, opaque cellulose bags. I like that there is one less piece of plastic to worry about resulting from my tea habit.
The dry leaf really runs the range of colors, from green to medium brown to dark brown, in nice size chunks. The smell of the leaf is really rich, with fruit, grass, and the characteristic muscatel all present.
The steeping parameters recommend a slightly lower temperature and shorter steeping time than regular black tea, so I’m giving it 3 minutes at 200 degrees. The resulting liquor is a very pretty clear medium-light orange/brown, and smells nice. Not whack you in the face strong, but an interesting mix of malt and fruit.
Taste – really good! There is a pronounced fruit juice element to it along with toasted bread, with the aftertaste moving towards dried apricot/peach. I’m getting a pleasing amount of astringency but no significant bitterness. I often put milk and sugar into Darjeeling and find that brings out the muscatel notes, but with this one I’m afraid that would cover up too much of the flavor I’m getting from it straight, so I’m going to leave well enough alone.
My first early morning cup in quite some time… Had to cut back on caffeine for awhile. I got up, filled the kettle, sat down and waited for the whistle. And waited. And waited.
You know what helps the kettle boil? Turning on the burner. Yeah… this cup couldn’t have come soon enough.
May have brewed it a little weak today. I’ve been brewing single cups lately, so I think I forgot how to properly brew a pot. Still good, though. I love love love Indian black teas.