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Recent Tasting Notes
Tasting note #1,700! Whoa. I’m sure not many of you are reading these at this point, but after around 1,700 teas, the tasting notes are definitely a little for my memory.
Thank you for the samples, BirdPick.com! I’m beginning to figure out flavor profiles for oolong at the most part, and to my mind, Ali Shan is usually the most savory. These tight jade green bundles don’t have much of a fragrance to them as a dry leaf. This is slightly savory, it’s buttery and a little salty. Cooled, the flavor is turning into the peaches and cream type flavor that I had with the green tea yesterday. I’m much more accustomed to a peach flavor in oolong than green tea. The second and third steeps are tougher to decipher. They seem like a mixture of those oolong characteristics. It’s a good oolong but I always wish each oolong I drink to be ONE of the oolong characteristics like fruity/peachy, floral, milky or savory. This one seems to be bits and pieces of these and other flavors. I don’t think I ruined this one by my steeping parameters though – the leaves seemed to work this way, but it’s a bit of a mystery.
Steep #1 // 1 heaping tsp // 10 minutes after boiling // rinse // mug filled 2/3 full // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 6 min a.b. // 2 min steep
Steep #3 // 4 min a.b. // 2 min steep
Thanks for the samples, Bird Pick! The leaves here look tasty – long dusty black and wiry, with the scent of something fruity like plums or cherry. But the flavor is a bit of a let down. It’s very light and kind of like Ceylon which isn’t my favorite at all. The light brown brew is slightly bready with HINTS of those stone fruits with a bit of tanginess but otherwise tough to describe. I’m not doing this one justice at all, but I don’t think I have the love enough to do this one justice. I SHOULD love this one more, just for the stone fruits alone, but it doesn’t come together well enough for me. It’s the Ceylon type flavor that throws it for me. Maybe figuring out how to steep it perfectly would help.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsps. for 11 ounce mug // 13 minutes after boiling // 2-3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Many thanks to Amariel for this tea!
I tried this yesterday, and wasn’t sure what to say about it. The dry tea smells lovely, and looks like it has some huge leaves rolled up there. It’s floral, and slightly green smelling.
Steeped, it unfortunately has some of the oolong flavour that’s really hard for me to describe that I do not like. I’ve called it things like “seaweedy” before. That’s sort of it. This tea is mostly floral, I’m guessing from the osmanthus as well as the tea itself. The texture is nice, not too thin even though I was doing shortish steeps. But something about the flavour just hits my tastebuds the wrong way.
Thank you Amariel for sharing, but I don’t think this is for me.
I have the Double Ginger, from Amariel, which is just this plus dried ginger bits.
It’s really strong. Super spicy. I steeped it 5 minutes then pulled out the ginger chunks – she warned me it wouldn’t all dissolve, so I did use a basket.
I really like this, but don’t see that it’s much different from the ginger packets I get at the Asian market. I’m not sure that the dried ginger pieces really add a lot of extra flavour… not like grating fresh ginger into it does. (Yes, I’ve done that…)
So while I do like this and will no doubt finish it all rapidly, I don’t think I’d go out of my way to get it.
The caramel houjicha, however. I’m really looking forward to a cup of that one. Mmm, caramel tea. AND I have whipping cream. And maple syrup. :D :D
Thanks so much for sharing, Amariel!
So after a few days of nothing but chai and double ginger, to soothe my tummy, I decided to break this out and try it since I was feeling a bit better. I seem to remember the store noting a pineapple note, and I could smell it in the container there, but not here, nor could I taste it. However, I did get a slight juicy note in addition to the creamy aspects, so maybe that was it.
As the other reviews have said, this is a very drinkable milk oolong, and for whatever reason, milk oolongs are one of the few I can drink straight, without any sweetener in it at all. So I had two steeps of this while I went about my day and got things accomplished before my tummy started acting up and I switched back to double ginger.
I’d say it is a comparable replacement for my Teaopia milk oolong.
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