Bird Pick Tea & Herb

Recent Tasting Notes

I got a package from Liberteas today! And it is full of tea goodness! I really shouldn’t be making more tea right now, but you know what happens when you get new tea….taste ALL the things!

I love Premium Silky Green by Bird Pick, so I was especially eager to try this one. I made it in my little handmade gaiwan that I bought at Tin Roof Teas. It isn’t an “easy gaiwan” officially but I think it is the same thing. It is sooooo much easier to use than my first gaiwan that burned my hands all the time. It is just decorating a shelf now!

Wowzer, these leaves swelled immensely! The first steep was golden and while it had a hint of the baked flavor it was really more fruity than anything. It is definitely smooth and not astringent. Second steep – still golden, maybe a tad lighter but I decreased the time since the leaves are fully expanded now. Really fruity and mild!

Thank you, Liberteas! I will keep steeping but I have to cook supper now!

Tune: Traffic/The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, cuz I thought we were going to drink Lapsang but made oolong at the last minute! Traffic is black tea music to me!

LiberTEAS

I am glad that you are enjoying the tea! I am the same way with my gaiwan. I use my “easy gaiwan” all the time – like daily, but, my first gaiwan that burned my fingers all the time, it sits and looks pretty on the shelf.

Daniel Scott

Oooh, I really wanted to buy a “real” gaiwan at some point, and not the “easy” one I have. Guess it must take real practice.

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I am not having a good day. Somehow despite all of it, I was only 3 minutes late to class but I’m weird and being any bit late bothers me. Now I’m considering going out later and getting a growler of a lychee ale beer. Seriously. Lychee. Beer. I should maybe not apply my tastes in tea to my tastes in beer but…you know what… I’m drinking this one to decide if I should go get it or not (it’s $14.99 for 64oz which is actually a steal given this beer’s cost in a bottle). Here’s a description of it, beyond the yeast, it sounds like it would be tea! http://www.totalwine.com/eng/product/new-belgium-lips-of-faith-tart-lychee/118855226 This also reminds me, a couple weeks ago I was at a local brewery and the smell of hops is SO much like Darjeeling. We’re waiting to get in and the smell was so strong. My boyfriend says “mmmm hops” and I’m just like “….Darjeeling….need Darjeeling.”

I’m surprised I even remembered I have this tea. I haven’t had it in forever, given I have never logged it on Steepster, and I know for a fact I have definitely not made any since moving. But it’s been hidden away in a jar in a drawer so it still smells wonderful.

From the smell alone, I can say I definitely like lychee. I’ve never had them on their own, just as flavors…this, frozen yogurt, maybe a few other things. A bit floral, a bit tart, a bit sweet.

I wish I wasn’t out of cream because I definitely like the flavor of lychee with a creamy background to it. The base tea is just rather boring compared to the flavor. It’s just there and I kind of wish it brought more. The lychee flavoring is good though. Like I said, haven’t had a real one (going to change that next time I go to one of the big Asian supermarkets now I think) but there’s nothing artificial about the flavor. Given last night’s teas, I can definitely tell, haha.

Now that I’m drinking it and my memory has been jogged a bit, I remember drinking this a lot as an iced tea. It’s not bad but I think the flavor is a lot better hot. I may give it another shot though with maybe like a tablespoon of leaf to 8 oz of water, because I’d really like to use this one up now.

After I get that growler.

Bonnie

You should get it cuz it’s from HERE in Fort Collins!!! I’ll have to go over to the Brewery and see what it costs there. Come drink beer!

momo

Haha, if they’re set up like the ones here, ten bucks gets you a glass to keep and 6 tickets to try different beers. One day I want to come there! It’s SO good it would be worth a trip there, oh my gosh. It really reminds me of tea.

momo

Specifically kombucha because it’s pretty sour!

Bonnie

Every year the brewers make a special beer. They go to the spice shops (we have 2 in town) and pick spices and then they make a special brew together and release it for a short time. We have 8 primary breweries in old town like New Belgium (Fat Tire) and ODell, Funkwerks, Fort Collins Brewery, Equinox, Coopersmiths, Pateros and so on.

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This was my first ever genmaicha, and I appreciate Bird Pick sending this sample in with my order. That said, I must admit that the aroma of the steeped tea was not appealing to me. It smelled like someone had spilled food on a burner and then cooked something without wiping the burner off first. The taste was essentially the same to me. To all the genmaicha lovers out there, I apologize. Perhaps I shall acquire a taste for it, if anyone can ever make me try it again. Meanwhile, I will switch back to Sunday morning tea that we enjoy! This is probably great genmaicha, and it just isn’t my bag!

Bonnie

I hope you only steeped it about 45 seconds.I just had it for the first time and tried it straight but my granddaughters like it sweet. Reminds them of sweet rice crackers from the Asian market that are really good!

Ian

I agree with Bonnie. I find most Genmaichas to be waaay better when steeped for a shorter time as most are Japanese greens that are a little more delicate and finnicky

ashmanra

Oops. There were no directions on the pouch so I steeped it like any green – three minutes. There was just the one bag and I steeped it twice so I doubt I could get a good idea of what it was supposed to taste like.

Invader Zim

3 minutes is waaay too long for a Japanese green tea. I find that 30-45 seconds is pretty good and I never try to go more than a minute, at least for the first steeping. If you have enough left give it another try with a much shorter steeping.

Bonnie

It’s good we can help each other along isn’t it! I know I can count on you guys to tell me what to do when I try a new tea type and fumble around with the timing. I hate buying a tea with no instructions. Especially blends…you have no idea how much of what is in them so how long do you steep and how much do you use? With straight tea it’s easier to look up at least.

Invader Zim

I love that we help each other! I don’t usually mind getting a tea without instructions because I hardly listen to them anyway! I do dislike getting blended tea without ingredients though. With blends I typically try to find it on here and see how others make it, if I can’t do that I err on the side of caution and treat them with a lower temp like 175 and less than 3 minutes steep time.

ashmanra

I almost checked on here, then said, “Nah! It will be fine!”LOL! So I will give genmaicha another try at a later date. I had already thrown the teabag away.

Bonnie

By the way…my daughter homeschools too…has 8 kids right now….7months to 18 years. 3 bio, 3 adopted, 2 foster…one little guy is bipolar and keeping mommy up at night…she needs more than tea right now! NAPS! Appreciate your homeschooling efforts! Have a good week!

ScottTeaMan

Sounds like you have a great family Bonnie. :))

ashmanra

Thanks, Bonnie! Your daughter sounds amazing! After May I will only have one child left in my little school! :) I may need to start pestering my oldest daughter to hurry up and get married and get me some grands!

Jim Marks

As the guy who has let his parents down by refusing to “produce grand kids” I’m staying out of that part of the conversation, but I would like to weigh in on the tea steeping conversation.

There are very few teas in this world that are so particular they need their own, specific instructions. The broad guidelines for white, yellow, Chinese green, Japanese green, Indian black tea, Darjeeling, oolong, Chinese black, shu pu-erh, sheng pu-erh… the broad guidlines are pretty universal and will almost always get you a “good enough” cup with any leaf. Fine tuning of those guidelines for a given leaf has more to do with getting the best possible out of that leaf than being some kind of requirement to get a cup that’s drinkable.

3 minutes is a long time for any tea, even if you’re doing Western style steeping. And that being said, I would only recommend Western steeping for a few types of tea: black, shu pu-erh, oolong (but only the dark ones, not the green or floral ones) and Darjeeling.

Really, everything else wants to be steeped the traditional Chinese or Japanese way, which means lots of leaf to water ratio and short, multiple steeps.

The good news is, you get a lot more cups of tea for your money doing it the traditional way than the Western way — which is counter intuitive at first because you use so much more leaf and produce smaller pots. But I’m currently on my 8th steeping of this morning’s cup and you’ll never get anything like that doing Western style.

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4tsp for 3 cups water. Long rolled leaves with a strong lavender scent.

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

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okay okay okay
i’ve been drinking lots of swap samples but i’m much too busy to make proper notes about each at the moment (hopefully i’ll get to it this weekend), BUT i just needed to take a moment because i MUST say that this tea smells awe-sum! and i think i got lucky and brewed it perfect! lots of sweet vanilla and green in the nose, just a nice polite green tea with a tiniest hint of vanilla mellowing it out in the mouth.
thank you Shelley_Lorraine this cup definitely brightened my day a little.
onto the second steep!

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75

Thanks to Dustin for this sample

*The dry leaf smells equally grassy and of vanilla
*The brewed cup has a stronger vanilla aroma, but still picking up on the green tea base.
The vanilla is much more subtle and natural than in other vanilla flavored teas I’ve tried. It doesn’t smell so strong of alcohol/vanilla extract like some others.
The flavor is more on the green tea side, while the vanilla plays subtly in the back ground. I like it quite a bit, but don’t know if I like it enough to purchase more. I tend to prefer unflavored greens in my permanent stock.

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

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78

Sip down! Sample from Heather at the Victoria tea meet.

I really like this one, and if it was available, I’d consider picking some up – either bags like what I received, or loose.

The toasty tea with the caramel is really lovely. And as a bonus, it’s lower in caffeine, so I won’t make myself vibrate with caffeine today. :)

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Sil

mmmmm

TastyBrew

I keep almost buying this from their online shop, but never go through with it. One of these days…

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78

Received this one from Heather at the tea meetup over the weekend.

Since I have some time to kill before leaving to do more math today, I thought I’d try this one in a mug rather than relegate it to the travel mug.

The smell of the tea in the bag is intensely caramel. A lot more buttery and salty than the Red Leaf matcha caramel. Steeped, I think I used too hot of water. I smell and taste some caramel, and creaminess definitely comes through as I swallow. But the houjicha tastes more green than I was expecting, and that greenness isn’t really doing it for me with the caramel-creaminess.

As it cools, more of the toasty houjicha flavour is coming through, as is the caramel. However, there is still that greenness lingering in the back. I should try more houjicha teas. :)

I will sit here and slowly sip the rest of this mug, and I’m glad I have another tea bag to test out. Next time I’ll pay more attention to the water temperature.

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec
Amariel

It’s an interesting combination. I found the hojicha base to be a little nutty, which seemed to bridge the idea of green tea and caramel together in a way that I don’t think most green teas could do.

Amariel

I found one reason I like hojicha is the lower caffeine content…it allows me to drink it later in the evening with no affects on my ability to sleep. I suppose the extremely caffeine sensitive my find it stimulating too, but supposedly the roasting affects the caffeine and it ends up have as much (or less) caffeine than decaffeinated teas.

OMGsrsly

As it cooled and the toasty flavours came out, I liked it more. I ended up losing track of time and chugging the rest of my mug before I ran out the door. It was surprisingly tasty. :)

CrowKettle

I also liked more as it cooled- another perfect quality for a “reading” tea because you don’t have to worry about it getting gross.

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75

I received this from Heather at the swap meet today. It smells like baked rice crispy squares with chocolate caramel drizzling. The flavour leans more heavily towards the strong roasted profile of the houjicha, with the sweet syrupy quality of the caramel appearing near the finish. It gives an overall impressing of oozing syrup from dry crisps.

This is the kind of tea I want near the end of a late night dinner and I think it was a good way to end the evening. Casual, firm, and sweet. Time to curl up and read some Terry Pratchett.

Second day Edit: the roasted sweet flavour gives off a coffee-like impression.

TheTeaFairy

Mmm… Good tea? Curling up? Reading a fantastic book ? SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN! Thank you Crowkettle :-)

ashmanra

Which Pratchett? I just started Good Omens!

CrowKettle

Isn’t that the best combination of things after not being home all day, TeaFairy?

Equal Rights! I’ve read a random order of his books but haven’t gotten around to Good Omens yet.

Cavocorax

Good Omens is the only one I’ve read. :p (just don’t know what to read next)

CrowKettle

Wait…! I read Good Omens a couple years ago when I “discovered” Neil Gaiman. I don’t know where my mind is today.

CrowKettle

As for other Terry Pratchett books, they’re all connected with the discworld tie in but there are “character” series, like Vimes (Guards! Guards!), Moist (Going Postal), Rincewind (The Colour of Magic), Death (Mort), and various stand-alone books (Small Gods, Equal Rights, Pyramids, etc.). You can kind of jump around in a quasi-character order and things will make sense usually. Lots of Character and concept crossovers though.

Amariel

The nice thing about this tea is that it is, in fact, perfect for this, because hojicha tea has less caffeine because it is roasted…so it likely won’t keep you up late if you drink it in the evening.

CrowKettle

Agreed! While this isn’t my favourite tea I think I’d want a small amount of this around when I’m in need of an easy evening. :)

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Eh. This tea smelled nice dry, but I’m not getting much flavor at all. A little bit of green, a little bit of vanilla and absolutely no wow. Adding sugar just made it sweeter and did nothing to bring out any flavor. Pity.

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

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91

This is a sassy tea that teases you with its tartness then mellows into something sweet. I can’t wait to try this as an iced tea – or even a mixer base.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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Dry, this tea definitely smells like rich honeydew. It is a smell that carries over when brewed, but it exchanges some of the richness for juiciness. The honeydew flavor is strong when the tea is hot, but mellows out letting the sencha come through as it cools with the honeydew hanging on for the aftertaste as if I just had a bite of melon. I love sugar in my tea and adding it did perk up the flavors a little, but somehow didn’t do much to make the tea better.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this tea overall. It is well done and the flavors are good, but it’s not knocking me off my feet. Maybe in time…

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

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I’m remembering this tea having grown on me a bit since I first reviewed it and I was eager to try it again today as a latte, but I can’t taste a thing through this cold! I’m imagining it as creamy, carmaely and delicious. It is like trying to see in the dark. Sometimes I wonder if there was a sense I would prefer to loose over taste and smell, but I honestly can’t come up with an answer. It is one of those things you take for granted until it is gone… like indoor plumbing!

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When I got a whiff of this tea dry in the store, I was greeted by a deep smell of caramel with something salty, almost like dried seaweed. When brewed, it took a few sips and a little sugar to taste much. It has a deep caramel flavor that is strangely subtle. It reminds me of the tea I’m used to getting in Japanese restaurants but with a touch of caramel. Not sure how to describe the base of the tea other than that comparison. The caramel hangs on and lingers after each sip. If I could get used to drinking tea with more subtle flavors, I’m sure I’d love this, but as it stands I’m still a fan of bold bossy flavors. I’ll give it some time to grow on me.

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

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81

It was a weird sort of day today. It started out cold and overcast, then sunny and warm, then the wind kicked in and it got cloudy again. Work was refund city, so it seemed like every step we took forward, we got pushed back again. It was a struggle for sure. And I’m still feeling super emotional right now, and just mentally and physically tapped out.

So, I decided on this tonight, even though it is some caffeine, but not much, and I even had it with milk…it’s just a little bit of comfort in a cup right now! I dunno, it’s a weird taste, initially, but it really grows on you. If you love toasty teas with a bit of sweetness, this is for you.

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81

Had a cup of this tonight. Decided to add a little genmai hojicha from my amoda box from January. Didn’t really make much of a difference, to be honest, in terms of flavour.

Still, I like this tea. It was the right tea for tonight. I’m glad I picked up the bag when I was in LA.

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81

Had this as a tea latte, while at a Bird Pick shop yesterday. They made it with sweetened condensed milk, which was pretty good, but maybe a little much. I think I would try it with standard milk new time….though next time ended up being tonight, and I have a bare fridge post-vacation.

Nice to know I can drink this one without sugar, though I do think it would benefit from a teensy bit. I did have maple syrup on my waffles tonight, so I’m sticking with my unsweetened mug for now though.

Still roasty and lightly sweet as remembered, though a little strange tasting at first. I got about $5 worth, which isn’t a huge amount, but sufficient number of servings, considering this is a lightweight tea. It cost half as much as the bags I got last year, and i have more servings, getting it loose.

I’m gonna try cold steeping in the summer, I think, and maybe use the sweetened condensed milk again. I’ve got enough to experiment. I may even mix in some green rooibos…

The thing I like most about this tea is that it is low in caffeine, but has body, and works well hot (as well as sweetened and with milk). This means that I am fine at the thought of having this in the morning, in an attempt to take control on the caffeine level, even if it still feels like more of a n afternoon or evening tea.

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81

Backlog…I picked up a bag of this on a vacation to LA recently. I just got the bagged versus loose as it came in a nice sealed pouch that would pack better for my return home.

This is a nice and easy tea to drink. Not bitter, not overly sweet (though things are rarely too sweet for me…though I am trying to cut down on my sugar intake), and the hojicha is supposed to be lower in caffeine, so I thought this might be a nice afternoon or early evening tea.

The bags unfortunately, are a bit dusty, and I wonder what the tea inside is actually like. I will have to open one to see.

I’d say that this is a nice and inoffensive tea that for someone who wants to drink something lower in caffeine and wants to use little to no sugar, this is a warm and roasted sweet caramel tea that brews up nice and dark.

Is it my favourite tea? No. Will I get more when I am back in the states? Quite possibly. My friend who lives there that I was visiting may come up later this year so I might get him to bring me another bag of this, and maybe some others too. There is a Caramel Ruby tea that is this tea, blended with rooibos that caught my attention too. Again, that would be lower in caffeine. I am trying to watch how much caffeine I am having daily as well as my sugar for fertility reasons, but general health as well.

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100

This is my favorite afternoon tea. It is robust enough to get me through the 4p slump, but still soothing enough to help relax me in the midst of a stressful day. I also love just smelling the tea; the heady lavender scent is simply divine.

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

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76

The tea flavor is very clean and has the right balance of jasmine fragrance. The flavor lasts after 2-3 steepings. The quality of the leaves are evident, as they unfurl intact.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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