Camellia Sinensis

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Recent Tasting Notes

76

One of the teas that Camellia Sinensis has included as a free sample in one of my various orders from them; can’t remember which one or exactly how old the tea itself is though…

I’m drinking this Western because it’s a rainy/dreary day and I just wanted something black to drink on the balcony and rain watch with. Looking at the dry leaf as I was measuring I was a tiny bit surprised just how green the leaf looked through. Akin to a lot of Darjeeling teas, this demonstrates a WIDE range of colour in the leaf appearance. That doesn’t especially surprise me given that it’s an Indian black tea, but I wish that CS’s website offered more information about this varietal. Currently it offers none…

The flavour is pretty nice; it’s definitely a medium bodied tea which personally are the kinds of blacks that I find most perfect for every day drinking or really thoughtless drinking where you just want to experience the warmth of the tea without really putting a lot of energy into dissecting the flavour. Is there a way to say that it’s the perfect “mindless” tea without that sounding condescending? Because it’s not BAD; it’s just kind of… Well, you know.

As far as flavour notes go this had a range, with none of them really being extraordinarily weak or dominant. Just kind of a mix of all the following: floral, smoke, muscatel, malty, honey, and raisins. Given some of the comparisons I’ve already made to Darjeeling teas, this profile doesn’t exactly surprise me. In fact, maybe I appreciate it a little more so because I’m experiencing it without any harsh astringency or bitterness. I like it! I doubt I’d have picked it for myself either, so I’m happy to have received a sample of it.

EDIT: I was curious, so I’ve looked up the region a little more. Sikkim is a tea growing region very near in proximity to Darjeeling and so it is often marketed as “Darjeeling Style” tea given the similarity in terroir. The Temi Tea Garden is actually the only tea garden in Sikkim as well. Very interesting!

I love learning new tea things.

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75

Buttery, smooth, and kind of earthy. There’s also a slight astringency, and it seems closer to a black tea than the other two Taiwanese oolongs I picked up in Quebec. Good, but I think you’d have to be in the right mood.

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From my last Camellia Sinensis order…

- Western style infusion
- Smooth, malty/hay top notes
- A light vegetal body with sweeter fruity/peachy notes
- Finish is playfully nutty; hazlenut/marzipan
- Smooth, silky mouthfeel

I imagine Western brewing doesn’t do this one justice, not that it tasted bad. In fact, it was really enjoyable – but I feel like it hadn’t reached its “full potential”. I definitely look forward to trying Gong Fu in the future.

VariaTEA

Gong fu brewing will be my next experimenting step with teas, I think. Wanted to try forever but I’m lacking the proper equipment to do so. I will eventually get around to it.

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90

This started out as creamy and kind of buttery with a hint of raspberry but then developed an intense pineapple flavour that was at first very sweet but then very sour. I have to say I’m kind of loving it! I’m a huge fan of sour and this is definitely quite lip puckering. The first time I had this I found it good but nothing special but I can really see myself missing this when it’s gone — uping my rating!

Flavors: Butter, Pineapple, Pleasantly Sour, Raspberry, Sweet

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90

This was nice, but it didn’t really wow me. I could see myself sipping down quite a bit of it if it happened to be in front of me but can’t imagine actually craving it. There’s a slight citrus note with a hint of raspberry that gives it a slight sour vibe, but I’d like something a little more intense. There’s also a light undertone of sweet vegetation. Good, not great.

Side note, this is surprisingly similar to the Cote d’Asur Garden blooming tea I had the other day but a little less raspberry-y.

Flavors: Citrus, Pleasantly Sour, Raspberry, Vegetal

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

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80

If you could package up the feeling of summer and camping into a tea, this would be it. There is the smokiness of the campfire, which gradually merges into a smoky bacon note. There’s a hint of sweet corn, which I find so typical of white teas. Finally, and most surprisingly, there’s a strong marshmallow note with a hint of chocolate. S’mores in a cup. The notes are subtle, to be sure, and I don’t think this tea would be for everyone, but I rather enjoyed it.

Flavors: Chocolate, Corn Husk, Marshmallow, Smoke

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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90

My first oolong (not counting some of DAVIDs’ crazy blends that hardly count), and I’m happy to say I’m really enjoying it. Wonderfully light with a prominent butter note and complementing floral and grassy notes. I can see the hint of pine nut as well (one of my favourites). All in all, very nice!

Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Grass

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

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72

Sipdown (134)!

Had a short and very casual Gong Fu session with this one spaced out over two days. All in all only like six steeps; I could probably have gotten more but I’m not big on drawing out green tea sessions since I’m not really big on green tea either. I mostly just wanted to have a taste of the tea since CS was nice enough to send me a free sample of it, and now I’m happy to add the rest of the sample into the GCTTB.

Didn’t pay super close attention to this one if I’m being honest; but I remember that the mouthfeel was thicker and almost more creamy than your typical green tea and the flavour was quite grassy with a bit of nuttiness in the first day’s infusions. Day two I don’t really remember observing that quality so strongly.

The description says it tastes like fiddleheads and I definitely thought that was interesting ‘cause I’ve never tried fiddleheads, but then I wound up not tasting anything different or “out of the ordinary” that I could describe as possibly having the flavour of what I’m told fiddleheads are supposed to taste like. I mean, of course it’s hard trying to identify a flavour you’ve never experienced based on a concept but I still was kind of hoping there’d be something “extra” here.

Fjellrev

Had to look up fiddleheads since I’ve never tried them before either.

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85

This is a queued tasting note.

Tried this one hot the other day;

I think I liked the cold brew a little better because the flavours were a little smoother/ran together a bit more seamlessly but the hot cup was good too. This is sweet and fruity in the same way that I get from Sweet Tart candies. Probably the lemon providing that playful, light tartness. However, it’s also VERY floral – in particular quite rosey. In the hot cup there was some disconnect between the floral and the fruit but still both aspects were enjoyable nonetheless.

Flavors: Candy, Citrus, Floral, Hay, Pleasantly Sour, Red Fruits, Rose, Rosehips, Tart

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85

Definitely surprised this one wasn’t already reviewed here on Steepster…

- Cold Brew
- It’s very interesting to me this tea doesn’t have fruit other than lemon or apple
- Because the flavour is like a jumble of red fruits/berries with lemon/citrus
- Very summery, sweet, and rich with a balance of natural and candy like notes
- Kind of reminds me of Sweet Tart candies?
- The hibby DEFINITELY doesn’t read as overly tart or gross
- In fact, it’s a little hard to tell it’s there?
- There’s more rosehip sweetness/tartness than anything else
- Also a floral undertone; but definitely more fruity than floral
- Definitely, as far as the ingredients are concerned, a bit of an enigma?

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86

This is a queued tasting note.

Made a cup of this; got a lot more basil in the leaf I measured out this time around than I did last time so the colour wasn’t quite purple but more of a really lovely deep blue/green colour. Kind of a tealish hue? Still absolutely GORGEOUS but not the same as last time.

The flavour was actually very similar though despite the different ratio of ingredients in this cup. That’s sort of the problem with herbals that use such huge pieces like this one: it’s hard to get the same balance of things each time. But strong, sweet basil notes regardless – little bit of a floral body. Very soothing!

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86

If I’m being perfectly honest, I bought this tisane solely because it’s supposed to brew up purple. Not “Hibiscus” purple, mind you, but honest to goodness purple purple. When it showed up today, I did crack the bag open out of curiosity though; while I was totally suckered in by aesthetics, you have to admit that taste is still probably the most important factor…

The smell of the dry leaf is incredibly powerful and pretty darn unique; it’s like a blast of your grandma’s garden: very fresh and aromatic. However, the only part of good ol’ nana’s garden you’re smelling is the patch where she’s growing all her own spices, and then maybe the roses in their planters across the lawn since the breeze is carrying their scent over your way too. It’s very particular, and very unique.

As far as the brewing process goes, I was totally skeptical but as soon as the water hit my tea (I of course used a clear, glass mug) it started to infuse a kind of grayish blue which then gradually became a deep, sultry sort of blue/purple. Very brilliant and touching on “royal” in hue while still having that darkness that screams “It’s not a phase, mom!”. It’s a little hard to explain and holy fuck do I wish I’d had my phone with me and charged because it may just be the most beautiful infused liquor I’ve ever seen. Actually; no, it IS the most beautiful steeped liquor I’ve ever seen. Honestly, it’s incredibly stunning!

But of course I still wondered about the taste: would it taste like dear sweet Gammie was shoving her summer bumper crop of spices up in my gullet? Actually; given the intensity of the aroma I found this was pretty soft all things considered. You absolutely get a clear taste of the basil in the blend meaning this is definitely a more herbaceous/savory profile. However, that said, I also get some sweetness that reminds me of fennel or anise and there’s the soft, rose/floral undertone as well that cuts in and keeps this from literally being a mug of brewed up spices. At moments I also felt like I was getting the refreshing feeling of peppermint as well, though that’s maybe a bit of a stretch. Still it’s nice, it’s layered and it feels very romantic and poetic to be drinking it. Like I’m in my ivory tower waiting for Prince or Princess Charming to come and sweep me away.

I mean, the fact I was drinking it at near midnight on my balcony while listening to the drizzle and pitter patter of rain probably doesn’t do a whole lot to hinder that imaginative imagery but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this is just a really enchanting and unique tisane overall.

Super Starling!

Oh my god, I need to get in on this action. Purple’s my favorite color, and I was a ridiculous Goth. Sipping this while working on a mostly-black painting and scowling is now on my list of priorities.

Fjellrev

Freaking awesome! This is definitely on my list if I ever order from them.

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44

No matter how many times I brew this tea or how many different measurements/water temperatures I try, I can’t get it to be very flavourful. What flavour it has is pleasant, but it just doesn’t taste like much. Trying hotter water than recommended only brought out a blandly unpleasant bitterness, as did increasing the steep time too much. I’m used to better from Camellia Sinensis; their teas are usually quite exciting. Best results at 85c / 3 minutes 30 seconds.

Flavors: Hay

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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This is certainly the highest quality Indian Assam I’ve tried, though most of my Indian Assam consumption was through bulk bins at health food stores. That’s not to say this is only good by comparison. This is clearly quality tea, though it is fairly straight forward. Malty assamica notes are clear and present, but a muscatel character reveals itself along with notes of minty herbs, as well as fruity tones I normally associate with Taiwan-style black tea. The leaves are not whole, but that doesn’t affect my enjoyment, even in a gaiwan. Nice for a slightly more refined Assam experience.

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77

Hard this one on the commute to work because I found myself craving a darker, more roasty oolong this morning…

This was Western style, so it was a bit different than my Gong Fu session. Still, I found it very enjoyable and I was even able to pick out (in my sleepy early morning haze) some flavour notes that were pretty unique. The big thing with this one is that the start of the sip starts out very roasty with mineral, slight char, nutty, and wood-y notes accompanying. The body is definitely pretty unique; there’s a subtle creaminess but also a lot of more savory/umami notes like dill, sea salt, and salted butter. So much salt. Also, this is MAYBE a weird observation coming from a vegetarian who has no actual memory of what real crab/lobster tastes like and I’m told the vegetarian version doesn’t do the real flavour justice but I found the finish of the sip rather marine with crabby/crustacean-y notes. I felt like I was drinking the broth/stock for a crab based soup or stew, to be honest. Totally not a bad thing, though – it was delicious!!

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77

This is a queued tasting note.

So, we’ve all had a tea (or teas) that we bought for reasons completely unrelated to the tea itself, right? The art on the wrapper looked super cool? Or the name was really geeky? Well, I bought this one because I was looking for aged oolongs to sample and the year 1984 caught my attention as I’m a pretty big fan of Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm novels. I needed 25g of this, stat, for that reason alone. So, buckle up guys, gals, and people inbetween or otherwise ’cause the Orwellian puns in this review are gonna be doubleplusstrong!

Also, this is a stream of consciousness review, meaning I essentially just took jot notes as I was drinking of my immediate thoughts and that’s basically what I’m writing up now. Unfiltered, pretty much. Bonus, unintended Newspeak puns!

- Started with a five second rinse…

Infusion One: Less than five seconds
- Light brown/gold liquor
- Roasty/mineral aroma
- Peppery “tickle” on the forefront of my tongue and back of my throat
- Dank/wet earth and mineral notes
- Woody/vegetal; oak
- LIGHT roast overall

Infusion Two: Seven seconds
- Stronger Plusstrong roast aroma; slightly more nutty plusnutty
- Darker Plusdark brown liquor with a red tinge
- Roasty/peanut top notes
- Brothy; stewed veggie and mineral body
- Cocoa finish?
- Still woody

Infusion Three: Seven seconds
- Leaves look like black velvet w. spare brown/olive hues
- Earthy/roast/nutty aroma and same liquor colour
- Rich top notes: peanut, earth, barley, cocoa
- Very Plusnatural body; wet earth, woody, nuts
- Mushroomy and raisin finish
- Plussweet!

Infusion Four: Ten seconds
- Brothy/meaty umami aroma but still sweet
- Earthy/wet soil, musk, mushroom, peanuts, cocoa
- Slight raisin background taste
- At this point has a bordering salt flavour?
- Still some roast but it’s a little less unstrong

Infusion Five: Twelve seconds
- Liquor is lightening up in hue; it’s plusgolden again and has an unred tinge
- Smells like wet soil/rocks/leather/salt
- Reminds me of a salt lick rock I had as a small child…
- Beginning to taste doubleplussalty
- Salted peanuts and seaweed???
- Uncocoa notes and starting to be unsweet

Infusion Six: Twelve seconds (Last Infusion)
- Seasalt and earth smell
- Doubleplussalty!!! Definitely seasalt and seaweed
- A touch of a peanut taste
- Relatively monotone/flat flavour overall though

So yeah, that’s it! I think my personal sweet spot was the third infusion? I liked infusions two to four a lot though, but after infusion five the experience was definitely declining quickly. Also, a note – when I say I had a salt rock as I kid I literally mean somehow I was given something like this: http://globalendurance.com/store/products/redmond-rock-sea-salt-lick/ and for whatever reason I would carry it around and, like a horse, occasionally lick it. I think I was maybe six? Don’t remember what happened to the bloody rock or how I even got it, but yeah that’s a thing…

Also, maybe a handy reference? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Newspeak_words

Mikumofu

A doubleplus good review!

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85

This tea is quite good. There was very little bitterness. There was a bit of a green, vegetal taste early on but that did not last. What it had was a honey like sweetness without the actual intensity of real honey but the flavor. This was one good tea. In the end I only gave it eight steeps because I am really watching my caffeine but I thinnk it would have gone a few more. The tea liquid was a very light color even in the early steeps but had a lot of flavor.

I steeped this eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 7.2g leaf and 190 degree water. I gave it a 5 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. It had gotten quite light colored in the eighth steep but still had a lot of flavor. I think there were a couple of steeps left.

Flavors: Honey, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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90

This Sencha is from the 2015 June green tea leaves from Shouzou Japan. It has an interesting full bodied flavor. It is a light steamed green tea with a flavor aftertaste of sweet green vegetables and sweet grass and the tannins are very low. There is no bitterness and there is no astringency to this tea. This tea has a very high amount of antioxidants, around 2250 micromoles. Polyphenols is the type of antioxidants in green, black, Oolong, Pu erhs and white teas. This tea helps me relax and calms me down. This is a wonderful and good light green Sencha tea from Shouzou Japan just a little bit south of Toyko.

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Sweet

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

- Steeped Western style
- Strong/potent aroma of wet earth/soil
- Reminds me of a Spring garden after rainfall in smell and taste
- Though the taste is lighter than the smell would seem to indicate
- Earthy, damp, petrichor notes
- Also a hint of a leather/“musk”
- Also evokes feelings of the underbelly of a forest
- Lighter taste than aroma, overall
- Quite pleasant!

I look forward to exploring this one Gong Fu!

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85

Bought 50g of this loose tea at the tea festival last Saturday. It is apparently not available on their website. So no picture with this tea. It is fairly good. It has a fair amount of fermentation flavor left. It’s not of the real unpleasant sort. It was dark an d rich in the early infusions tasting of dark chocolate. I can’t say it developed a fruity flavor later. It was also fairly bittersweet at first. Took a while to recede and leave the tea fairly sweet. Only gave it eight steeps because I want to move on to something else.

I steeped this tea eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 10g leaf and boiling water, I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec.

Flavors: Dark Bittersweet

Preparation
Boiling 10 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Cwyn

I wonder if this is a ripe tea from the same area they get the raw huang pian cakes they sell.

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82

Cold Brew Sipdown (133)!

And this cold brew finishes off this sample from Camellia Sinensis. Overall, this was the worst of all three preparation styles. The brew lots that buttery, artichoke note which I personally thought was the best aspect. Instead, the smoky note got really, really strong and intense and the brew took on a bit of an overwhelmingly bitter note. Mmm, nope…

I enjoyed playing with this tea though; I got to try it in three different styles and that was really fascinating seeing how that effected the overall taste with each different method. It was a good learning experience.

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82

Brewed this one Western style for comparison with the Gong Fu session…

There were definitely strong similarities; this was very buttery and vegetal with notes that clearly reminded me of artichoke hearts and a smoky undertone. However, I feel like I also got fresh notes of garden veggies like crisp Snap Peas and maybe even cucumber peel?

I don’t know; despite noticing a few different things I think that the Gong Fu session was better overall. This was still a pleasant cup, but the evolution of flavour that I experienced with the Gong Fu session was more enjoyable.

Flavors: Artichoke, Butter, Peas, Smoke, Vegetal

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82

This is a queued tasting note.

- Gong Fu session in one of my smaller Gaiwans
- Eyeballed the measurments; approx. 2/3 of the cup
- Starts off very fresh and light tasting
- Not sure if it’s cause I’ve been drinking more Japanese greens lately…
- But this seems especially smoky to me
- Also, floral for the first two or so infusions
- As well as nutty, with a nice buttery vegetal note
- Very clean taste/profile overall
- Description teases “bitterness”
- But that wasn’t experienced until the last few infusions
- About six infusions, then it just began to feel brewed out

Flavors: Artichoke, Bitter, Butter, Floral, Nutty, Smoke, Vegetal

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