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Recent Tasting Notes
This is one of three iced tea blends Camellia Sinensis has recently released for summer. A blend of black tea, green tea, guava, rose, bergamot, vanilla and cornflower it is quite delicious on a hot hot summer’s day (which we are still getting in the bucket loads here in Southern California at the end of August). I cold brewed this overnight in the fridge as per the directions on the bag and was pleasantly surprised with the results. The scent is mildly fruity and the taste is delightfully tropical with a hint of guava. Yum!
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I prepared this tea Gaiwan style and it was sweet with smoky notes. It is claimed to be cultivated without pesticides which is a good thing. It gets sweeter with multiple steeps and the smoky notes hand on throughout. A great green tea from Vietnam!
Flavors: Herbaceous, Smoke, Sweet, Vegetal
Hmm, something is wrong here. This tastes exactly like my last cold brew, but the smell. Oh, the smell is so bad. I don’t understand why, either! I did literally nothing different with leaf or water amount, and it got an almost identical brew time as the last batch. But for whatever reason this smells like pee this morning.
And I don’t know if I can do it guys; it tastes good – very lemony, a little bit of papaya underneath that, but this smell is really distracting and it’s making my tummy do somersaults. Uhhh…
Anyway, the last little bit is gonna be given to my friend Robyn; I just don’t love this one so I might as well share it with someone else who’ll learn from it and hopefully enjoy it more!
Wow, it feels nice not having a queue! Just gotta log stuff I had today, which wasn’t a lot…
I cold brewed this; the hot brew was really disappointing (but not really bad – just not what I had anticipated) and when I tried it I immediately knew this would be better suited for an iced or cold brewed tea, so that’s the next step I’m taking having this one.
Immediately I’m noticing an improvement, though I’m not sure whether that’s because I’m prepared for the very strong lemon flavour or if it’s because this one is actually better cold brewed. Maybe both. Actually, most definitely probably both.
But yeah; this is still very lemony with other citrus notes to it. It treads a very thin line between tart and sweet, and it’s very natural tasting. Seriously, there’s nothing artificial about this. I almost wonder if it would be enhanced by some sugar or agave; I think that would maybe make it more lemonade like. In addition to the strong lemon/citrus flavour there’s a rawness to it, and only the word “leafy” is coming to mind but I know that’s not the word I want to use. More so, it’s like…
I don’t know. It’s like a dried green leaf, but chalkier and not a leaf. Or chalky. God dammit; I can’t think of the words I want here. Ugh. Fucking lexical gap.
Positive things: I actually noticed the papaya this time. It was really subtle and if I hadn’t been looking I probably would have missed it, but buried under the taste of natural/raw lemons and leaves and stuff was some very mellow papaya adding a touch of sweetness and actually making this seem a little more tropical, like the name suggests it should be.
And VariaTEA I know I sent you some of this so get on it so I can finally compare notes with someone! I need to see whether I’m craving with the raw lemon/leaf thing! Maybe you can capture the idea I have but am so desperately struggling to convey.
Stupid Steepster Server…
Anyway; first review for this blend. Again, no pressure right? Right.
I actually put off placing my Camellia Sinensis order for about two months because this blend was out of stock, and I really really wanted to try it. The day they restocked this, I made my order. It was a very satisfactory feeling. That said, I had a hot cup of this the day my order arrived, and I was definitely quite disappointed by it.
Dry, it smells very very damn lemony. Lemon fucking everything, really. And not in a tart way or a sweet way – but sorta in a “Vitamin C” citrus health pill/acidic chalky lemon crap type way. That’s really a terrible description, but I’m writing this note based on the notes I wrote myself like a week ago, and it’s 2AM and I’m really tired. The words are not coming easily to me.
Steeped, this is still pretty well pure lemon with no noticeable papaya. None. Literally none. Which is crushing, because that’s the aspect of this blend that attracted me to it in the first place. But hey, at least the lemon tastes pretty ok. Like I said, it’s not sweet and it’s not “puckering tart” or anything – it’s just really strong and fairly natural. It reminds me so much, in a hard to describe way, of citrus health drinks or that instant powdered lemonade stuff that comes in little premeasured packs for water bottles. But with the instant lemonade it’s not that taste it reminds me of, it’s the smell of the stuff.
So next up will be a cold brewed version of this. I honestly don’t have the ‘highest of hopes’ but I think, if nothing else, the strong lemon flavour of this blend will be better suited to a cold cup than a hot one. I just want some damn papaya! Just give me a LITTLE. Just a pinch.
Flavors: Lemon, Lemongrass
Guys, I slept in today and had ZERO time to make tea if I wanted to make it to work on time today, so no tea right now. I am a sad slug of tired.
Also, this is my last day at Calendar Club; they’ll start taking the kiosk down this afternoon. Who knows, I may be back next year but as of tomorrow I’ll be down to one job again! That’s both awesome (sleep!) but also kinda shitty because it means less disposable income, which means less tea…
Also; I have no clue what it’s going to mean for my regular morning tasting notes: with a now totally open availability at Sobeys I’ll be working earlier shifts, so I may not have time in mornings anymore for tasting notes and Steepster chat. And that makes me sad.
You know what doesn’t make me sad though? This tea! Made in a timolino and awesome!
Guess what! This is officially my last note in my queue! I am now all caught up again!
I’m actually currently drinking this. Well, the last of it really. I brought a mug to take on the walk to work, and since starting this morning I’ve just been saving the last little bit of it and taking very small baby sips. It’s so good, and really tying me over while I wait to get off. Only half an hour to go!
The top note here is very fresh, tropical pineapple (4433). A little bit sweet and a little bit juicy. Then there’s this very buttery bottom note of coconut (4261) that really anchors every thing and gives more depth to the tea. The combination of these two glorious flavours, somehow, also makes a toffee/brown sugar flavour that very nearly (with the buttery coconut) adds a confectionery element. And then just the most perfect, smooth black base.
My favourite pineapple/coconut, no questions about it.
Love this blend. Love it.
I definitely didn’t have to worry I was being too generous with my rating for this when I first had this; it’s amazing and very deserving of such a high rating. In fact, I’m gonna bump it a little higher!
Pineapple, Coconut, Toffee, Butter, Caramel.
It’s so tropical and nummy!
First to review, and what an honor because mother fucking balls this tea is amazing!
My Camellia Sinensis order came in, and this was pretty much the tea in the order that I wanted to try most of all, and when I cracked open the packaging I was flooded with the most heavenly, amazing tea smell ever. Legitimately, I’m struggling to think of another tea which smelled this damn good when I first opened it. Basically, think really fresh, supple pineapple and coconut pastry with like pastry butter goodness and toffee. But yeah; fresh is really the most important word there. FRESH.
I was impatient to try it, so I made it in my timolino so I could have it at work with me. It steeped up splendidly. I followed package instructions, and they did not lead me astray even a little bit. The black base was very, very smooth and had notes of malt and honey to it. And then carefully layered over that was intense notes of fresh, sweet, juicy pineapple, buttery coconut pastry, toffee, and sex. So pretty much; an orgasm in your mouth.
For Butiki fans; this one reminds me heavily of Hello Sweetie in that the coconut/toffee vibe is very, very similar but instead of Banana you’re working with Pineapple – which is better, in my opinion. So if you liked that one, you may want to try this one. Really, if you like Pineapple or Coconut even a bit, you probably want to try this one. It’s the best pineapple/coconut tea I’ve had in a really, really long time (if not the best ever).
Even if the other two blends I got in this order are total flops – this one blend makes the whole order worthwhile. Right now, I’m rating it a 90 even though I want to do the full 100. I’m a little worried some of the love here might just be new tea excitement (but I’m thinking probably not) so I’m trying to be conservative with my rating until I have it again.
I want to share this gem with all of you! Except that would mean less for myself, and I don’t know if I can do that…
If you like black earth, leathery, thirst quenching dark, dark chocolate tea then this is the one. Straight up it smells and tastes like black earth after rain. When I added a touch of almond milk it brought out the dark, dark chocolate taste.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Earth, Leather
Hazelnut, butter, vanilla and a slight herbal taste…this is a wonderful tea. One to be steeped in a Gaiwan starting at 30 seconds and then to be enjoyed over and over again in multiple steeps. A delightful tea for a time of pondering…best straight and on its own.
Flavors: Butter, Hazelnut, Herbaceous, Vanilla
This was a sample from dexter It’s a roasty oolong, and while the brewed aroma is that oolongy taste i’m not a huge fan of, this is a really nice brewed cup of tea. it’s not overly bold, but it’s not a wimpy oolong either…sort of middle of the road with a bread like sort of taste to it. I’d be inclined to pick this one up again if i needed a ump to get me to free shipping threshold or something with an order but it wouldn’t be a permanent restock. thanks for sharing dexter!
I should be in bed asleep by now, since I have to get up at 5am, but I just finished making my breakfast & lunch for tomorrow & cleaning up the kitchen, & I wanted to share a few comments regarding this tea.
My beautiful little black yixing arrived from Camelia Sinensis, along with 2 cups I ordered, & they are all adorable. I had a little free time, so I started the seasoning process, using Verdant’s Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong smoked wuyi black.
Also included in the package was a free & generous sample tin of this tea (or at least I think it is this one). I opened the tin, & the fragrance is sweet, floral, fruity, & almond-like.
It steeped into a golden liquor, both floral & fruity, with flavors of Honeysuckle, Vanilla, almond milk, & lychee.
A very lovely afternoon session.
The directions on the bag said 5 mins?! I listened, and wow I knew that was way too long. It’s become a bitter bitter and astringent. Theres also a nutty quality. Also some vegetal and roasted smell. I know see the gaiwan method, and will use the last of my sample on trying that method.
The dry leaf is twisty and curly, black with a few silver tips spread though out. Steep up 8g in 8oz at 200F.
First infusion (45s) the tea is brownish red, and a little cloudy. This is a bit smoky, sort of floral, and bread like.
Second infusion (60s) this cup was much like the last, but I noticed more cocoa notes as it cooled.
Third infusion (75s) this had a sort of brightness about this as it cooled. Almost like a burst of light in my mouth. Taste wise still smokey, a little malty, bread, and some cocoa as it cooled.
Forth infusion (90s) this got a touch bitter as it cooled, and a touch my smokey tasting.
Fifth infusion (115s) and Sixth Infusion (130s) still sort of bitter and smokey, also a bit metallic.
Overall this isn’t bad, the smoke isn’t my thing though so I want be repurchasing.
Out of all of the 2014 FF’s I ordered from Camellia Sinensis…this one kinda pales in comparison. No distinction, really no taste at all, I can understand the ‘mineral’ description they give…but that isn’t necessarily the mark of a good tea.
Taste = 65
Price = 50
Representation = 75
New score of 63.33
I’m not one usually for hype, and I’m also not really one for oolongs, but this was a great exception!
It had this sickly sweet taste, almost reminds you of caramelized bananas foster, except in a dark rum (that’s been aged in a new world oak barrel). There was also a touch of lychee/other sweet tropical fruit.
I’m actually going to buy some of this tea to give to some of my Muslim friends to explain what rum tastes like.
Taste = 93
Price = 50
Representation = (NA)
New Score of 71.5
This tea caught my attention during my Spring 2014 harvest purchase. It’s a Chinese tea produced with the methods of FF Darjeeling teas. I love trying new (novelty?) teas, and this one exceeded my expectations. I’ve been drinking a bit of it on and off since my spring tea purchase two months ago, and here are my tasting notes from my tea session today:
Tea liquor has a medium yellow color, and the wet tea leaves smell like a Darjeeling tea.
Sipping from my single long steep, notes of spices and a rich fruit flavour really grabbed my attention. The tea body itself is light and refreshing, not dull or flat. It doesn’t really taste like a Darjeeling to me, but it has some nice similarities.
Overall I think the method they used to make this tea sets it apart from both ‘just a Darjeeling’ or ‘just a Chinese black tea’. The qualities of the terroir give it a smooth tea body, and the method imparts a unique flavor for a Chinese tea.
Worth a try if you love Chinese black teas and want something different.
Received a sample of this fresh 2014 Taiwanese oolong from a friend. Brewed up about 2 grams in 115 ml, did a quick rinse of the leaf in a strainer first, then proceeded with gongfu steeps in a Jian Shui pot which may have been a poor choice. I read oolong on the label, the leaf looked dark, but when I brewed it I saw it is green oolong and not a dark roast.
This tea is incredibly floral, heavy on the gardenia, or orchid or pea flower. Since this is a natural flavor and not artificially added, it is quite lovely. But the tea is too green for my liking. The soup is greeny-brown, which is okay, but it was very astringent and the sweet flower flavor then went sour on the tongue afterward and lingered. Had two cups and didn’t want anymore. I would probably love this more deeply roasted, the roast would have given a sweet lingered taste instead of the sour. But then I might as well be considering a black tea, because some of this same floral taste was present in the Wild Purple Dehong Black I reviewed recently.
This is probably a really good tea, just not my taste so I will leave off a rating.
Flavors: Garden Peas, Gardenias, Orchid, Pleasantly Sour
I was surprised to receive an unopened 10 g sample of this from a Steepsterite. Even more surprising is that Camellia Sinensis reviewed and boosted the rating for this tea, most likely to justify the price they are charging at $58.25 for 1.76 oz. The 10 g sample I got is thus a $10 sample! Much thanks for the opportunity to try this.
Tai Ping Hou Kui is one of China’s 10 Famous Teas, and the real stuff is grown from a larger leaf tea cultivar known as Shi Da Cha. To be the genuine stuff, it must be from one of three villages in the Anhui Province at the foot of Hwang Shan (mountains). The pluck is 1 bud/ 3 leaf and then a repluck is done at the local small factory by hand to remove 2 of the four leaves. This is part of the expense of this tea, as no branch without the bud should be picked, and the leaf with the bud must be perfectly straight. Next it is partially dried in bamboo, and then heated three times in the bamboo over charcoal. After this the leaves are laid flat by hand onto mesh screens and a roller is used on the screens to press the straight leaf/bud combo flat and straight. Then the tea is dried in the screens.
After all this, yet another quality inspection is done and the final product is sorted and graded. The top quality earning the title of Tai Ping Hou Kai must have 1 bud/1 leaf exclusively. Any leaf missing a bud, chopped bud, any 3rd or 4th leaves, any loose leaves, any chopped leaves must be labeled Hou Jian and sold under that name.
A tea is not a Famous Tea worthy of the title unless it is what it is supposed to be. The criteria for this tea is one of the strictest and extensive, not to mention all the processing involved. It must be judged by this criteria, especially with the high prices associated with this tea. This tea is also made and sold from villages outside of the Three, and may be just as good, but it is sold as a fake and few would ever be able to tell.
This tea is not fake, but my sample is Hou Jian. Being a sample, and undergoing all the shipping and handling would no doubt break buds off. But in 5 grams brewed I found 1 intact bud/leaf, a few broken off buds, lots of extra leaves and a lot of chopped leaves. Looking at the rest of the bag, it is all leaves and chop. The mix is dark green with some yellow ones, the color should be more of a uniform medium green, not dark green.
As a Hou Jian, this tastes pretty good. Because the leaf is already heated over charcoal 3x, you get the taste of a stronger Dragonwell flavor without needing to fuss over the water temperature. The tea is already scorched so it can take hot water. I got a good 5 quick steeps of 5 grams in 115 ml water before the flavor gave out. Very warm, a little spice from the char, yellow soup. For me the flavor is like a Dragonwell/Longjing but more intensely so.
Would I recommend this? Sure, but not at this price. You can get basically this same tea at 1/5 the cost on a lot of other sites. They will call it Tai Ping Hou Kui too, but only charge you $13/oz. Still pricey, but even Hou Jian has a lot of processing behind it. I am doubtful that the real Tai Ping would be sold outside of China and especially not to a western buyer. It is an imperial product. So, buy yourself some “Tai Ping” and know that Camellia Sinensis isn’t really doing anything different from other western vendors, but their price is high and it is going to be Hou Jian no matter where you buy it, so might as well just get the best price you can someplace else.
My rating is for taste, I quite liked the tea.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Green, Spicy