Arbor Teas

Recent Tasting Notes

80

Steep Information:
Amount: 9.9g
Water: 1200ml at 195°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 2 minutes
Served: Hot

Tasting Notes:
Dry Leaf Smell: sweet floral vegetal, a little nutty
Leaves: green and silver thin twisted strands about an inch long each
Steeped Tea Smell: lemon, citrus, black tea scent
Flavor: slightly astringent, crisp black tea, very clean and light
Body: Medium
Aftertaste: sweet citrus floral notes
Liquor: translucent light red-brown

This was a very nice crisp tea for sipping in the afternoon while browsing the internet. It is not a strong tea to kick you awake in the morning, but more one to be sipped and savored. I very much enjoy this tea, I enjoy when a company strives to be organic and fair trade so long as it is not at the cost of the tea. This tea shows that they are able to provide a high quality tea while striving to help tea farmers and the environment. It does however lack anything completely unique to make it a 4/4 leaves tea (a WOW) that i must keep stocked at all times.

Arbor Teas sent me this sample for free in order for me to review it and get the word out about their teas in October as it is Fair Trade Month. It arrived USPS Priority mail, but had to wait a few days at the post office for me to pick it up. The compostable packages are opaque and have listed suggested steeping parameters and a stapled on paper tag with the specific tea information. They include a note about re-packaging your tea into opaque air-tight containers for longer shelf lives.

From http://www.arborteas.com/the-environment.html
“Our dedication to protecting the environment pre-dates our love of tea, which is why we’ve taken every step we can think of to reduce the environmental footprint of Arbor Teas.

Never ones to rest on our laurels, we’re always looking for further opportunities to “green-up” our company, giving back to the planet whenever we can. Here’s just a quick summary of the measures we take at Arbor Teas to reduce the environmental impact of our business:
• Our entire catalog of teas is certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.
• We are the first and only tea company to deliver its full line of organic loose teas in 100% backyard compostable packaging. In doing so, we’ve significantly reduced both the carbon emissions and waste stream associated with our products."

And from their letter to me “every tea in out catalog is certified organic, and nearly two-thirds are Fair Trade certified.”

Find Steepster reviews of the tea here.

Resteep 2: 1,200ml 195°F 3min a bit too bitter + sugar = OK
Resteep 3: 1,000ml 195°F 2min brisk w/sugar, nice and refreshing + sugar = good
Resteep 4: 1,000ml 195°F 2-2:30min weak, added 30 sec and got nice light crisp tea + sugar = good
Resteep 5: 1,000ml 195°F 3-3:30min weak, added 30 sec and got nice light crisp tea + sugar = good
Resteep 6: 1,000ml 195°F 4-5min weak, added 60 sec and still weak, stopped re-steeping added to iced tea and didn’t drink

Cold:I took the first hot steep and put it in the refrigerator as it was a hot day. I then added the leftovers of each brew. It was a nice light refreshing black iced tea, it needed a bit of sugar. I used raspberry torani, MilitiaJim used Kiwi. Delicious. I think I enjoyed this as an iced tea better than hot.

images: http://amazonv.blogspot.com/2010/10/arbor-teas-loose-leaf-oolong-tea.html

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

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89

Alright, Organic Special Grade, take two.

This time I’ve steeped it for seven minutes. Last time it was just a tad too mellow for my tastes, so this time I decided to experiment. (Especially since a friend told me I could just let it go for as long as I wanted.) It brewed up incredibly dark as usual, and everything the leaves touch turns dark amber.

I also added sugar and honey, a tablespoon of each. And this is so good. The extra two minutes have made a great difference. It is still not bitter in any way, but the flavor has strengthened. It’s so incredibly smooth and sort of buttery. It does dry the mouth out a little, though. And it does definitely taste roasted and earthy. I might have to add this to my shopping list…

Upped the rating. And I will see what happens at nine minutes eventually. :D

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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89

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!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

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86

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.

Mmm. Smoky.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Dan

I think we need a meeting of LSA (Lapsang Souchong Anonymous) I love smoky teas also and I don’t think having 18 around is excessive. I love mixing LS with Oolong and a strong base tea to make Russian Caravan.

Angrboda

I have the same problem. I’ve reached the point where I’m feeling ever so slightly guilty if I have too many smokies around the house. Like I’m neglecting all the other types of tea. I’ve given up choosing a favourite LS though. At least until I meet one that isn’t just great but actually knocks me off my feet. In the meantime I just make sure that I’ve always got one and let the brand be a smaller priority. Right now I’ve got TeaSpring’s and A.C. Perchs. Perhaps I ought to do a side by side of the two…

Also, I second the LSA suggestion. “My name is Ang and I love lapsang!” :9

Auggy

Yay for LSA! As long as it isn’t a group for those trying to break the smoky tea habit… I don’t want to break my habit. I mean, I could quit any time but I like smoky teas, so I don’t want to quit. So yeah, I’m not really an addict. I could stop. I just don’t want to. Right? Right!
(Okay, now I really am craving something smoky, dammit.)

Heyes

I love lapsang tea (although I’ve only had two kinds) but I can’t imagine multiple steepings.

Auggy

Mmm, multiple steepings are the best! I think second steeps tend to be sweeter, at least on some of the Lapsang/Bohea I’ve tried. Though not too many are successful on third steeps (at least for me).

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85

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!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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79

Went through a bunch of steepings on this, my last sample tuo cha. After a quick rinse with boiling water, the first infusion was strong enough to put hair on my chest – following ones were mellower and by infusion four and five, it was really sweet, woody, and earthy. A very enjoyable pu erh.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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79

Trying this one for a second time, and I’ll be switching up the parameters a little, decreasing the steep time to see what flavors that brings out. I still find the tuo cha to have a very mild and slightly nutty aroma, and the liquor to be not as reddish as many other pu erhs.

An initial rinse, and then a one minute steeping time. Now rather than savory, the liquor is sweet, with a definite earthy flavor and something akin to chocolate in the background. Very different from the inital long steep I did last time. The second steep is at two minutes, and is still quite sweet. I’m also getting more of the savory at this stage, plus continuing earthiness. I think this would be a good tea to continue experimenting with – it seems to yield interestingly different results with varying parameters.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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79

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.

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

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85

My last bit of this sample pack too, and again a little more than my usual amount of leaf. This is a really nice example of the oolong style, hewing pretty much straight down the middle of the green/black tea divide. There’s a bit of green vegetal flavoring, and some black roastiness, along with the typical rich mouthfeel of a good oolong.

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

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85

Had two infusions of this yesterday afternoon, but no time to log it until now. It’s probably just the fall season getting to me, but I swear they tasted roastier and more “fall-like” than previous tastings have. I am still getting some vegetal, spice, and fruit notes, but coated in a warm and slightly smoky cloak. This is definitely a tea that rewards deeper investigation!

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

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85

Had the time to do a couple of steeps of this (2 minutes the first time and 3 the second)and enjoyed it very much both times. I’m still getting the general sweetness I experienced last time, plus a very nice balance between the vegetal and slightly roasty or malty flavors. As it cooled I picked out more of the sweet tones, and really appreciated the rich feel this tea has. Good one!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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85

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.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85

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! ;)

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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91

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!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
T.C.

Cool! Comment back with the link to the blog post?

LiberTEAS

Of course… it will publish this Thursday at 6:00 pm (Eastern Time). :)

LiberTEAS

Hey Taylor: Just to let you know that the review just published! Link:
http://sororiteasisters.com/2010/09/30/organic-golden-yunnan-black-tea-from-arbor-teas/

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91

Finishing up the sample pack of this very fine pu-erh, so I’m using a little more leaf than normal in order to avoid a too-weak cup next time around. At this strength I’m getting more of a roasty flavor, as well as something akin to a dried dark cherry flavor, both of which are a good after-lunch complement. And though it may just be psychosomatic, it does feel like it is having a positive effect on my digestion!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
gmathis

OK since I’ve seen you mention pu-erh’s often, I will appeal to your expertise, if you don’t mind. I have an aged pu-erh sample; looks like a little hunk off a compressed cake. No prep instructions. Rinse it first? Water temp and steep time recommendations? Thanks.

Adham

I’m no expert, but I have found that rinsing a compressed pu-erh brings out the flavor nicely. I put just enough boiling water to cover on top, slosh it around for about 20 seconds tops, then pour out the water before resteeping with freshly boiled water. Pu-erhs can be so varied, it’s hard to give steeping parameters that will work every time. With regards to water temperature, I think most people are happy with boiling. Steeping time is trickier; may be best to start with a short steep in case you’ve got a strong one (like CTG’s camel’s breath), about 30 secs to one minute. Other types of pu-erh, especially loose leaf like this one from Arbor, can go several minutes without problem. Pu-erhs also take multiple steeps really well. Good luck!

gmathis

Thanks. Will error on the side of caution to keep it light. I don’t mind essence of potting soil, but I don’t want to drink mud either :)

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91

Started my day with a couple pleasing steeps of this. It was sweet and earthy, and very forgiving on steep times – I did about 4 minutes the first time around and longer than that the next time, and neither cup was overly strong or bitter. I also like the subtle notes that are wrapped up in the earthiness; today I got a very subtle spice tone as well as some cherry jam-like flavors.

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

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91

I had several steeps of this today and really enjoyed it. It gave me just enough of a caffeine hit to be noticeable, without getting wired, and the taste stayed interesting the whole time, evolving over the course of the steepings. It always maintained a pleasant level of natural sweetness underlying the earthiness, and was not as heavy as some pu-erhs I’ve had that can leave a bitter taste behind.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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91

I’ve been drinking a fair bit of pu-erh lately, and this one still stands out. It has a sweeter, brighter flavor than most, without losing the earthy quality that draws me to this style of tea in the first place. There’s something almost fruity about it which I’m really enjoying, as well as a mildness which makes it easier for me to want multiple steeps. Nicely done.

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91

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!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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77

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.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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62

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).

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

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97

near the end of my sampler for this tea. I love the lightness from the oolong and natural plum taste from the dried plum. I wish more companies would blend some flavored oolongs…

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97

Still love the light and fruity taste of this tea!

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97

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.

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