Hide

Welcome to Steepster, an online tea community.

Write a tea journal, see what others are drinking and get recommendations from people you trust. or Learn More

Arbor Teas

Recent Tasting Notes

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

89

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.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec
Auggy

I’m always surprised by how much cooked pu-erh smells like the dry food we feed our cats… both are very pier-like.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

74

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!)
3g/8oz

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

92

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.
~1/2 tuo-cha/10oz

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec
cody

I need to order from Arbor Teas again. I live in the city (Ann Arbor) so they deliver to my door for free. :)

Thomas Smith

Young, pure bud sheng cha is just half a step (if not less) away from a silver needle style white tea, so the similarities you’re drawing are totally justified.

Fair Trade really didn’t have a presence in tea in China until recently and has largely spread from a single project/organization in Yunnan. Really, it isn’t applicable for most teas in China (private sellers are ineligible – only coops qualify – and most tea is sold through middlemen). However, it’s exactly the kind of program that needs to be applied in Assam and Dooars in India and should probably start a presence in Africa (other than the rooibos growing coops) as well.

Auggy

Thomas, you are a wealth of tea information! And glad to know about the similarity to a SN white – makes me feel not so crazy! :)
I just finished the book The Empire of Tea and that (along with a few other things I’ve read) has definitely made it hit home how important things like Fair Trade teas are.

Thomas Smith

You should give Liquid Jade a looksee as well!

I generally don’t put much thought into Fair Trade for tea (or even coffee, where it’s more applicable), since I am one of those types that wants a direct traceable line from a single farmer/producer or small village organisation to the consumer rather than a larger coop that blends material. However, the atrocities in Assam’s tea industry and the fact that one of the only outlets for organic tea from the region is owned by one of the major perpetrators in human right’s negligence as well as pollution from tea farming in the entire tea industry really angers me. It’s a big part of why I rarely buy Assams anymore even if they are really good. It’s strange to me to think that India has more issues in this arena than China (in tea, anyway). Fair Trade coupled with government programs in China have really worked to better the lives of some of the generally impoverished communities by bolstering tea production, though it has taken a toll on the environment. Transfair really needs to mobilize in Northern India. There are organisations waiting and trying to work it out on their own – they just need the outlet to get things moving.

Auggy

Awesome – I will have to check that out. It looks like it will be a bit more engaging than The Empire of Tea which, while it had interesting info, tended to be pretty darn dry…

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

83

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.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 15 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

95

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.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

82

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!)

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 6 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

74

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!
2.5g/5oz

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

I picked this one, too! :D Haven’t tried it yet, but I will soon.

Auggy

I look forward to seeing your review of it! For something not normally up my alley, I enjoyed this.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

91

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.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

93

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.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

95

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.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
T.C.

“Like the woods in fall.” – great description!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

86

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.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
T.C.

Fantastic review! I love your attention to detail

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

90

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.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

90

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.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

96

This tea has that deep, dark, inky pu-erh color. It has a very natural plant-like flavor. It’s very soft, but with an astringency that seems to cleanse the mouth. Overall, it’s very earthy – fans of this style of pu-erh will definitely enjoy this tea. It’s quite the opposite of a dessert tea, and for some reason seems to have an air of seriousness to it.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

80

No notes yet. Add one?

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

80

Honestly, I forgot I had this. I was in the mood for Darjeeling, and found this in the back of the cupboard. It’s wonderful.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

99

I just tried this tea and I loved it! I’m a big fan of black teas and have tried many different sorts, but this one takes the cake. Its very soft and mellow which makes it a perfect tea for an early morning, a cozy night, or a chill afternoon. I will definitely be ordering more of this tea ASAP!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

80

I absolutely love this blend. Sweet and tart, a good rich cup. I made a full pot of this tonight (which, for my little pot, is 3 cups). Hopefully it’ll brighten me up and keep me alert…I want to watch the Tea Mavericks discussion tonight!!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

93

I was stunned by the incredible deep golden, coppery color of this infusion and its pleasant jasmine fragrance. Usually I am not a fan of jasmine teas – they tend to come out tasting rather soapy. I think what makes this one different (and much better) is that it is not jasmine FLAVORED, but rather SCENTED with jasmine. The jasmine has a very noticeable presence, but does not overpower the tea like others I’ve tried. The taste is pleasantly floral, with a short-lived astringency that makes the tea ‘crisp.’ The aftertaste is a relaxed lingering jasmine.

Despite normally being the kind of tea drinker that loathes flavoring or anything like that, I really enjoyed this tea. I will almost certainly go through a bag of this during the fall.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.