Bird Pick Tea & Herb
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Recent Tasting Notes
So I bought some eggnog on sale at the grocery store, and my new plan is to sip down some samples I wasn’t overly fond of plain, by drinking them with eggnog. :) I’m a bit too lazy to go the full eggnog latte route, so instead I’m just brewing the tea strong (2 tsp steeped in an 8oz mug maybe 3/4 full x 5min) and then topping the mug off with eggnog. This actually worked really well for this tea – it’s a cinnamon-flavoured CTC black, so it’s probably intended to be consumed with milk and sugar added. The cinnamon was strong enough to hold its own against the eggnog flavour, and I drank the whole thing down pretty quickly. So, I’m going to call that a win. :)
This sample came from my holiday package from cookies. I really like melon and melon-flavored things, and honeydew happens to be my favorite. It just so happens that I also enjoy a nice sencha, so this tea seems perfect for me! I’m surprised I didn’t request it myself when I got my free Bird Pick samples… Anyway! The sencha leaves are nice and intact, somewhat large and steamed flat. There are also some golden flower petals included in the blend. Dry scent is nicely sweet and melon-y with perhaps a touch of fishiness? Odd.
The steeped tea also smells like sweet, crisp honeydew with a bit of a fish edge. The green tea itself is actually quite savory, which makes for an odd combination with the sweet honeydew. It in fact has a strong umami characteristic which almost borders on fishy (but not quite). The combination of the base and the honeydew almost reminds me of eating jicama or a similar crunchy but wet vegetable (broccoli stems? raw potato?). It’s not bad, it’s just a bit odd. I think this is just a case of the wrong choice of base tea for the flavoring.
Flavors: Grass, Honeydew, Nutty, Potato, Umami, Vegetal
This is the next-oldest untried sample from my cupboard! This was actually a free sample from Bird Pick, thanks guys! I must say, I’m quite surprised that all these giant leaves are intact inside the little resealable pouch – I fully expected them to be at least somewhat broken. They’re long and flat (almost like they’ve been ironed) and they kind of remind me of kelp or something. Dry scent is mildly vegetal and grassy with a lot of sweetness. I didn’t really know how much to use, so I just put a bunch of leaves in my basket and then added one more for good measure. :P
The steeped tea is very pale in color, and smells mild and creamy with sweet vegetal notes. Hmm… this is not what I expected. It actually tastes like a Japanese green to me. It’s quite savory with strong seaweed notes. It does have a creamy and nutty taste, but in a savory way. The aftertaste is somewhat grassy but light and refreshing. Not what I expected, but not bad! Next time, I would use more leaf, as it was just a tiny bit on the weak side.
Flavors: Grass, Nutty, Seaweed, Umami
Back to trying everything in my cupboard! Since it’s getting to be later in the evening (8 PM here) I’m going to skip a few and try only teas with low or no caffeine. This one is part houjicha, which is supposedly low in caffeine, and part rooibos, so I think I’m safe. This is actually a free sample from Bird Pick (they’ll send you a few free samples if you email them). It appears to be mostly houjicha. Dry scent is somewhat sweet and caramel-y and reminds me of richly sweet dried fruits like figs, dates, and prunes.
The steeped tea has a strong roasted aroma, though I can still smell a bit of that richly sweet smell (somewhat like molasses). The taste is pretty straightforward – roasted/autumn leafy from the houjicha mixed with the woody flavor of the red rooibos. I can’t really taste the caramel much until the very end, where it manifests as a sort of boozy fig flavor. I wish there was more of that throughout the sip. Overall, pretty tasty but could be improved.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dates, Fig, Molasses, Roasted, Rum, Sweet, Wood
I’ve been wanting to try this one for an eternity and cookies was kind enough to send a sample my way for me to try. turns out? it’s kinda like most of the other hojicha’s that i’ve tried. Same woodsy sort of taste that i rather enjoy, but certainly lacking any sort of caramel taste that i expected of this. It’s not BAD – like i said, i like hojicha…but i guess i just wanted more! haha thanks cookies!
Final Count: 80 (still not quite at 6 months old cupboard though…) bring it december!
Dry scent seems primarily the green tea with mild roasted rice. Lovely light golden liquor. Aroma has a stronger genmaicha than I expected from the dry scent (yea!) The roasted rice gives a very pleasant sweetness to the tea. I would love to keep this in the cupboard! Great relaxing after dinner cuppa.
Thanks Bird Pick Tea and Herb for this lovely and generous sample.
Flavors: Toasted Rice
And on to the third and final buckwheat tea! This one actually came straight from the generous folks over at Bird Pick. If you didn’t know, they offer 3 free samples for free (http://birdpick.com/faqs/#A7). Visually, this tea looks different from the others. It’s obviously broken-up buckwheat, but the texture is more like shards and almost reminds me of sanding sugar. The scent is different as well… actually it kind of reminds me of Play-Doh. Heh. We shall see!
Thankfully, the steeped tea does not smell like Play-Doh. In fact, it has that same roasted peanut aroma as the other teas, perhaps with a touch of sunflower seed shell. This one is definitely different from the other two I’ve tried. The flavor is nutty, but it’s rougher and it reminds me of sunflower seed shells. Not as much of a fan of this one unfortunately (at least, compared to the others).
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grain, Peanut, Roasted nuts, Toasted
Sent off a couple teaspoons of this one to Sil and had just enough left over to make myself a last cup. Even though the leftover bits were quite small and broken it brewed up just lovely. Roasty with some mild creamy caramel notes. Yum.
I love hojicha as a nightcap so I’ll definitely consider picking this one up in teabag form for ease of use. I’m thankful to Bird Pick for sending me these samples and will certainly be placing an order in the future.
Full disclosure: I have yet to find a houjicha that I don’t actively love. And this one is certainly no exception. The dry leaf smells exactly like kettle corn. It’s kind of amazing. There were no instructions on the little sample packet so I brewed it the way I usually do with my greens. 1.5 minutes at 175˚. Brewed, it still smells like kettle corn, just a bit less potent.
And the taste… yum! Oh so delightfully roasty and just a bit more caramely than a traditional houjicha. I like that the caramel is subdued as I could see it turning out too sweet otherwise. Absolutely delightful.
I do wish Bird Pick offered smaller sizes though. I’d love this one, but with 4oz being the only option I’m not sure I’ll pick it up. At least not until I finish all the other houjichas I have hanging around.
Flavors: Caramel, Roasted, Toasty
This was one of the free samples I chose from Bird Pick! It’s a beautiful tied wreath of dark brown leaves, about an inch and a half in diameter. Dry scent is sweet bread and honey with some raisin and wood notes. I used one piece in my 8 ounce cup, and as it steeped it unfurled a bit until it looked something like a sea urchin in my cup.
The steeped tea has a nice bread aroma with a lot of honey. Hm, this is an interesting one! There is a definite dark wheat bread flavor here. However, the beginning of the sip is quite woody and slightly… loamy? I don’t know. Midway through, it shifts to pure bread and honey tea, and this is the aftertaste as well. If this were bread and honey tea all the way through, I would be a very happy girl. The rougher flavor at the beginning is not my favorite.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Creamy, Earth, Honey, Loam, Wood
I’m not usually a fan of bedtime teas, but this was a pretty good blend. The lavender is what sold it for me. It’s relaxing but not overpowering and leaves you feeling refreshed and ready for bed.
It brews a nice golden color and is excellent with just a hint of honey to round it out.
Flavors: Lavender, Lemongrass, Mint
I need to eventually do a side by side taste test of this tea, and Bird Pick’s Yunnan Pu-erh. Its been 9 days since I drank the latter so it’s hard to compare by memory. The aroma of the dry leaf is more earthy, pond water-y. Theres also more dust in the bag, similar to how really tippy yunnans have gold dust in the bag.
The flavor is a bit more earthy than I recall the other pu-erh being. Theres also a bit of an almost cocoa note hinting at the edges. But aside from that, its very similar the other pu-erh. Smooth, not too heavy, not too intense, easy going pu-erh. I’ll need to do a side by side, but while I would like to have either in my cupboard for a nice daily pu-erh, I don’t feel the need to have both. And considering that this is 4x as expensive as the Yunnan Pu-erh, I’d have to say that it won’t be my choice.
Sipdown I sent the rest of this to a Steepster pal, but held back a 1/2 tsp for myself since I had forgotten whether or not I wanted to order it. Turns out, yes! I definitely want more of this delightful tea. It’s sweet and mellow with a distinctive honeydew flavor. As it cools off the honeydew slips into cantaloupe which I think is just as delightful. I actually don’t find the sencha too vegetal or savory for the flavorings, but I steep for a very short time which may help with that. Bird Pick offers this up in sachet form which I think would be a good option, as I tend to drink greens around bedtime and don’t love dealing with cleaning up my steeper late at night.
Thanks again to Bird Pick for the free sample of this, I’m excited to try more from the company.
Flavors: Honeydew, Melon
Oh, wow. The flavoring in this one is absolutely spot-on! Another review stated they found it more of a watermelon flavor, but I don’t taste that at all. This tastes like perfectly fresh juicy honeydew. Even hot it’s a match, though I imagine it would be incredible iced. Definitely the best flavored green I’ve yet to try.
It’s a shame Bird Pick only sells 4oz sizes. If it were available to purchase in more reasonable sizes I would snatch it up in a millisecond. But I’ll have to at least sip down a reasonable amount of my existing greens before even considering picking up 4 full ounces.
Flavors: Honeydew, Melon
I’ve been really impressed with my Bird Pick samples so far. All have been things I can see myself restocking in the future. And I really enjoy ripe pu-erh so I was really looking forward to trying this.
1 heaping tsp, 8oz water, boiling, 2,3,4 minutes.
This is a really good shou. Earthy, sweet, and not super dark, heavy, or intense. This is medium bodied, super smooth, and so easy to drink. All three steeps kept dissapearing on me. This is what I consider a perfect everyday shou pu. Tasty and addictive, without feeling too decadent. I always feel like I need to spend extra time and effort gongfu style steeping most ripe puerhs, but this one is so good western style.
So I took out the package of this to try some earlier. Ate some soup, and then looked all over for the package. I could not find it anywhere, I circled my apartment a dozen times and even went so far as to check the freezer even though I didn’t even go in there today. Finally, I decided to check the box with the rest of the samples. Lo and behold, there it is. I spent 10 minutes making myself crazy, mumbling curses to the thieving gremlins under my breathe, and it was properly put away the whole time.
I sweetened it, like I do almost all of my black teas, and yum. This is malty and fruity. Deep dark dried cherries, craisins, and prunes. Thick sweet seductive and sinful. The flavor coats your mouth and lingers a while, awakening your taste buds and leaving them pleased. There’s a sort of dark brown sugar like taste here, like a thinned out molasses. Yum! I’m not getting much floral from this, which is fine by me. I think the sweetening helped bring out the fruity and dim the floral. And just like that, POOF, the cup is gone.
This is another tea I’ve been sipping on today. This is a nice bold tea. Nice and malty, with a hint of cocoa, and some caramel like sweetness. I can see this being a great breakfast tea. I’m glad that my sample is big enough for a few more cups, because one this is so yummy, and two this is pretty heavy in my stomach. I look forward to drinking more when I’m feeling better.
I’m not sure, but I might have some sort of tea powers. While I was searching for another caramel houjicha, somebody mentioned this company, and I found this tea. It smells nicely nutty and like caramel. The flavour reminds me of this soft serve I got from the Japanese market. This will now be one of my evening teas.
Flavors: Caramel, Nutty
I drank this one Friday, before going down town for my boyfriend’s birthday. Since I didn’t write up this note up right away, I’m going off of the quick short hand notes I jotted down. I remember thinking that this smelled strongly of baked goods when the water hit it. The first steep was lots of honey, maybe some caramel, and lots of fresh baked bread. Delicious, I recall typing “my name is Mandy and I approve this tea” in the tea chat, so there’s that. I think I did three steeps before heading down town, and the flavor stayed strong through out. This was more light to medium bodied, but I steeped in a mason jar so this might have been due to heat loss. Definitely one that I plan on reordering, because not only does it taste great, its also so pretty and fun.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Honey