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Recent Tasting Notes
Today marks one year since I joined Steepster, and I couldn’t be more happier about that choice. This has been such a great experience, and I am always happy to be surrounded by crazy tea freaks like me. I am super excited for next year, for I have learned so much in 2015. I am soooo pumped for spring harvest! Anyways, I toast my cup to another fruitful year steeped in fancy smancy tea!
This has been eyeing me lately, and I was deciding if I should give it away or keep it. I opened the punch and gave it one sniff, and I got my answer. This tea smells so good! The aroma was intense fresh fruits with a crisp sweetness. It actually reminded me of fruity pebbles when you first open the bag. I warmed my gaiwan up and dumped these sugary treats inside. The aroma immediately transformed. Now, I was picking up heavier tones of sweet malt, dry chocolate, raspberry, and wet mahogany. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The leaves turn a beautiful pale yellow jade which caught my attention. The drink itself is fairly good, but it wasn’t as grand as the dry leaf aroma. The taste begins light and sweet with a prominent woody flavor. The brew then moves into some dandelion and honey with a tangy dryness. This was a very light and smooth drink, and I really liked it. The taste finishes with some astringency and a woody tone. The qi is slight and just a basic energy burst the lingers in the eyes and moves around clearing up the head. I liked this, but I think it might be better brewed western.
Flavors: Dandelion, Drying, Fruity, Hay, Honey, Wood
Made about eight tea eggs earlier this week with the remainder of a carton of eggs; I was really craving these yummy treats but I realized after already doing my initial hard boil that I didn’t have any cinnamon sticks or clove because I’ve been using them to treat the pain from a cracked too that I can’t afford to get fixed right now.
So, I scoured the internet looking for alternative tea eggs recipes and I eventually settled on one that used soy sauce, sugar, salt, a juiced tangerine
which I happened to have in the fridge, some vanilla, and peppercorns. And, of course, my tea. I picked this one because I figured the almost anise-like notes of the tea and natural fruity/orange notes I’ve experienced would compliment the rest of the flavour profile.
So, several hours later… tea eggs!
I actually quite like this alternative recipe: the eggs came out super pretty looking and they taste nice too. Of course, it’s a little tricky figuring out just how much of the flavour I’m tasting is from the added ingredients and how much is from the tea itself; but in addition to the normal flavours a hard boiled egg would have each of these also has a subtle sweetness (the vanilla?) and a light citursy/tangerine like flavour. It’s kind of different, but in a very enjoyable way.
These have kind of been my “on the go” breakfast the last few days – and now I only have two eggs left and I’m already really sad to be done with them. I go through tea eggs way too quickly.
This is a queued tasting note.
Man, I thought it was the other Laos Pu’erh from Camellia Sinensis I’d already tried, which is why I grabbed this one. Mixed the two up though; so instead I got to try a different take on this one: Gong Fu as opposed to brewing it Western style.
This was a short Gong Fu session; only four infusions. The tea was good; that’s not why the session was cut so short. The reason it stopped when it did was because I LITERALLY fell asleep. Seriously, I woke up stretched out on our couch with my tea tray sitting on the table in front of it, and a small teacup curled up with me. Thank God neither roommate was home; that would have been an interesting sight to walk in on. I don’t think I’d be able to live it down.
The infusions, prior to my dozing off, were a nice mix of sweet licorice/anise notes and stonefruit alongside mineral notes, a buttery vegetal flavour, and hint of spice. Silky, creamy mouthfeel throughout. Yummy!
So, I’m officially “healed up” enough that I can drink hot things again and eat semi-solid foods. I’ve been craving this tea all week ever since bagging a sample up for a friend so I figured this would be the first thing I steeped up to celebrate getting the wisdom teeth out!
I have some teas I need to review for Mosaic Tea but I’m holding off on reviewing those until I can get the taste of blood out of my mouth. And on that note, bear in mind that with this review I definitely have the taste of blood in my mouth and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for at least a little while. I’m not numerically rating this tea for this tasting because of that: I’m not sure just how much that flavour will affect the session.
I made this Western style in a larger pot, mostly because I know I’m not gonna be tasting this tea for a perfect palate so I’m not gonna waste my time with a full Gong Fu session. The other part of why I did this Western style was because I was brewing not just for myself but for my new roommate Trey and our coworker James as well. Western brewing is just easier when it comes to serving tea for non tea drinking people.
- Strong licorice aroma from the dry leaf! Quite sweet
- Brewed, I still think this has anise notes to it; provides a solid foundation
- Also a touch fruity: orange rind/citrus rind
- With some creamyness/rich mouthfeel
- A an artichoke/vegetal component
- A little bit of a semi medicinal finish w. some astringency
- Possible the slightly funky finish is from the blood in my mouth via. wisdom tooth holes
- Interesting overall; I’m sure it’ll really perform well Gong Fu
Flavors: Anise, Artichoke, Citrus Zest, Cream, Licorice, Orange Zest, Vegetal
I got a sample (sachet) of this from the Tea Festival a couple weeks ago. I wasn’t expecting too much from it (I haven’t tried anything from this company before), and I was blown away. This tea is great. It is bold, zesty and even a little bit vegetal. It also has a slightly roasted flavour, which I really loved.
I think a road-trip is in my future to visit the Camellia Sinensis shop and see what else they have to offer.
Thank you Sil for sending a sample of this my way. :)
I’ve western steeped the whole sample three times and it held up really well to that.
This isn’t my favorite style of black tea, but it certainly is a decent cup. It’s really smooth and gentle. A little starchy, quite sweet, a bit fruity. I’m not getting any malt or chocolate.
Happy to be drinking it today, but this wouldn’t have a permanent place in my cupboard.
A sweet smell, sweet flavor. Though somewhat familiar I can’t quite place where I remember this sweet smell. Oh wait. Jasmine! That’s what that is. Maybe it was tainted or is that how it’s supposed to be? Either way I like it. Slightly floral with a bit of grass and hay. Very slight earthy notes too.
Of the Pu’erh I got from Camellia Sinensis for my birthday, this is my favourite that I’ve tried so far. There are still a couple I’ve not gotten around to trying yet though. I just really like shou in general though, it seems.
Drank this one Gong Fu while I was cleaning the house to get really for Trey’s birthday party. You know, the one that ended up being a fucking nightmare. Didn’t know that’s how it was gonna turn out at the time, though, so I was pretty well just blasting music while scrubbing down the kitchen and enjoying my tea – getting lost in the moment.
The liquor was so dark and viscous; basically pure black and opaque. I didn’t finish the session ’cause people started showing up, but I got like six nice infusions in. The flavour was just such a lovely, rich and dark earthyness with lots of fruity undertones. Plums, figs, and dates primarily. Maybe even a bit of really dark, sticky sweet overly ripe black cherry juice? Cocoa and molasses notes as well. Just so smooth, but dark and intense as well.
Keeping in mind my song pairing was as much for the tea as it was for getting pumped about cleaning to try and build some sort of momentum, this is what I was listening to:
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Dates, Earth, Fig, Molasses, Overripe Cherries, petrichor, Plums, Stonefruits, Wet Earth
This is a queued tasting note.
Steeped up two of the bricks Western style in a fairly large pot for myself and a friend; we both quite enjoyed the tea. Enough so that we steeped it a second time, as well. Personally I think this is really delightful and smooth with a rich sweetness, of molasses, cocoa and maybe brown sugar, a deep earth/petrichor type note, a mineral like taste, and a sort of clean woody note. It’s the sort of tea that seems really appropriate to be drinking by the gallon on a dark, stormy night when the rain is just pouring down and their’s thunder and lightening abound.
In fact, it’s supposed to rain this week so I’m crossing my fingers SO HARD for a hell of a storm so I can take full advantage of my porch and have a session of this in the pouring rain. I want it so badly. That said, Gong Fu was definitely better than Western steeping so when that heavy rain session hits that’s how I’ll be brewing this one up.
And so begins the Pu’erh journey…
Over Christmas, one of the presents I got was $75 towards whatever I wanted on Camellia Sinensis (‘cause my family knows it’s one of my favourite tea companies, and they’re Canadian so no shitty exchange rates) and I fully took advantage of that to buy several different kinds of Pu’erh to further explore this complex and interesting tea type. And, on Tuesday that tea arrived! Actually, a lot of tea arrived – I received my orders from Red Leaf Tea, Teaware House, and Camellia Sinensis all in the same day! Well, I immediately had to try something so I brewed up one of the mini bricks in my new gaiwan from Teaware House!
Now, I don’t think I’ve ever had Jingmai before – and someone here on Steepster (who definitely knows more about Pu’erh than I do) told me it’s odd to see a Jingmai shou so I had weird/low expectations brewing this one up. I really, really enjoyed it though! I only did six infusions because it was after two in the morning and I was already starting to feel tea buzzed on top of just plain exhausted so I decided it was in my best interest to cut the session early and just go to bed before I was too wired/slap happy to sleep properly.
This was really smooth with a rich, thick mouthfeel and a sort of softness to it. Every sip was really round, and pleasant – I don’t know why I expected more ‘bite’ or astringency to this, but I didn’t find it nor did I really miss it. I could really ‘feel’ the tea on the roof of my mouth and middle/surface of my tongue.
The flavour was also delightful; it was much sweeter than I think I’ve experienced with a lot of pu’erh! Right from the start of the infusions this had really consistent notes of honey, molasses, earth, and a dark fruitiness. That fruitiness later became more intense and picked up a more distinct fig/date flavour as well as a dark cherry-like note in the last few infusions. I also found this had an almost ‘oat’ like flavour as well. Quaker sells a ‘Honey Oatmeal’ (or something close to that) flavour and that in particular is a little like what I thought this was tasting like. The last few infusions were definitely more woody, as well.
This was so tasty! And to be perfectly honest, I’m just so incredibly psyched for my next session with this one because it was so lovely! It just makes me all the more excited to try the rest of the different Pu’erh I picked up from Camellia Sinensis…
One Night in Rio, I’ve discovered, is a valuable tea to blend with other teas that need just a little bit of something extra.
As a tea on its own, One Night in Rio comes through as bright pineapple and coconut carried on a gentle Indian— I am guessing Ceylon—base. To my taste, the fruit and coconut flavours are mega assertive and the tea base seems weak in comparison. In other words, the blend strikes me as unbalanced.
Recently, I have blended it with 52teas’ Pineapple Marshmallow Black and that was a hit.
Today, I am blending it half and half with Mighty Leaf Tea’s Brazilian Fruit and this is magic.Mighty Leaf Tea’s Brazilian Fruit is made with a frisky Chinese black tea base flavoured with papaya. The tea base is totally ka-pow while the fruit is gentle generic tropical fruit: could be lychee, could be mangosteen, could be papaya.
So. This half and half mix is the perfect balance. The frisky Chinese black provides a bold background while toning down the tropical fruit flavours coming through: pineapple, coconut, papaya.
As I sip One Night in Rio down, I just may reorder it specifically to use as a blending tea to balance other blends. It does so beautifully.
This morning’s tea is a fifty-fifty blend of this and 52teas Pineapple Marshmallow black tea. I have approximately the same amount of both left and they are both approximately the same age: well under a year old but creeping.The mix of the two is a successful one. Both teas are improved by the additions of qualities of the other, resulting in a smoother bright pineapple softened by both coconut and marshmallow.
This cup is definitely more delicious than the one that I had the other day. The black tea base is a bit more feisty and that delights me.I might experiment with adding a bit of a good kick in your pants black tea to delight me even further. Any ideas?
This is one of the Black Friday teas I ordered through Amoda. The idea of this blend seemed intoxicating.I butchered the beautiful bag in trying to open it: the instructions give a pull strip which takes you to ripping the pouch, but how to rip is unindicated, so I ended up with the plastic open/close zip strips on the same side. However, I may have proceeded correctly but had a faulty bag to begin with. I hate that. It forces one to run around hunting up an extra tin. Who has an empty tin at this time of year?
Anyway, the smell of the dry leaf is intoxicating too. Quite divine really. The leaf contains plentiful coconut bits and fat pineapple shreds. Pretty blend.
The taste is lovely, but a bit less lovely than one would imagine it would be. To me, the melding of flavours is less smooth than I would like. I don’t quite know how to explain it. It is as if each sip contains disconnected flavours: pineapple, coconut, and tea. Each flavour comes through clearly on its own. There is also the slightest bit of imitation flavour coming through at the end of the sip. Not so much as to tamper with the overall experience, but still.
Perhaps the second steeping will give up a smoother experience.
On the second steeping, the coconut creaminess and flavour come through far more prominently while the pineapple steps into the background. A far milder but still enjoyable cup. The imitation flavour disappears completely.
I may add the slightest bit of Lapsang Souchong to a cup at some point to see how it works with a bit of smoke.
Flavors: Coconut, Pineapple
I’m not sure if I knew there was wintergreen in this tea when I got it, but I’m REALLY happy with it. OM NOM NOM.
Quite fresh, but with a really delicate wintergreen freshness, not peppermint or spearmint. It’s kinda like pine forests on a crisp day with snow on the ground. Kinda.
Finished off as a cold brew. This is truly a tea representative of ambrosia: it tastes like sweet, fresh honey, dew, and Spring time flowers. The flavour is clean, and the mouthfeel like silk. I don’t know if this is a tea I’d have picked out for myself either, so I’m very thankful for Camellia Sinensis’ inclusion of it as a free sample.
It didn’t last nearly long enough. I’m sure I’ll likely be buying more for myself, as it’s something I fell hard for very quickly…
This is a queued tasting note.
I had a weird/wonky Gong Fu session with this tea, which Camellia Sinensis added a generous free sample of into one of my orders this year.
It wasn’t the tea itself that was weird; just how I prepared it. I only had two infusions and then I just sort of, well to be perfectly honest, just forgot about the tea? I don’t even remember why: I was taking notes on the infusions and then I must have started cooking or watching TV or something else and the tea just sat there. But anyway, here are the notes I took for those two infusions:
- GORGEOUS leaf!!!
- Sweet, honey notes! Like ambrosia? Most dominate flavour
- Very light/gentle overall with a delicateness to it
- However, despite that the flavours are NOT subtle
- Also has notes of spring flowers, red fruits and white peach
After those delightful, wonderful Gong Fu infusions I popped the leaf into a mason jar and cold brewed the leaf (when I finally did remember I was drinking tea) so as to not waste it and get the most out of leaf which clearly wasn’t spent yet.
The cold brew was similar in flavour notes to what was observed in the Gong Fu infusions, just even sweeter and richer with more honey notes and more sweet fruity flavour. However, I also tasted a light finish that reminded me of Easter Buns a little bit? Kind of that sweet, doughy quality with a sort of cinnamon note as well? And of course a fruitier glaze but that easily melds with the honey and preexisting fruit notes.
I definitely look forward to further, more conscious exploration of this tea.
This one comes from OMGsrsly and I have to thank her for sending it, because it was really interesting and unusual. With the frequency of orders I make with Camellia Sinensis you’d think that I’d have tried this since it was on my wish list for so long, but for whatever reason I never grabbed any. Probably because you have to buy this one in a larger quantity.
I have so many thoughts about this one though…
First off; the health warnings! They’re a little unnerving, no? I mean the pregnancy warning is fine: I have no plans to get pregnant anytime in the immediate future. The parts that concern me are that longer infusions can cause bad cramps and frequent consumption is recommended against. I mean, I’ve certainly been known to lose track of how long I’m steeping something (and how long is "too long). As well, what if I absolutely LOVED the tea? I’d have to ration when I drink it? Not my favourite concept.
When it boils down to it though, this is just super unique tasting and very enjoyable though. There’s such a striking familiarity to the flavour; and yes I can break down that flavour into recognizable notes of citrus/lemon, cedar, camphor, grass, and under ripe green melons but that’s not it. There’s also a thickness to the mouthfeel that makes this really rich despite a more supple/mild flavour and it leaves my lips just slightly sticky?Like I’ve just had something to eat with lots of honey it. There’s something about how those individual notes and textures come together as a “whole” that makes me feel like I’m experiencing Deja Vu.
Sil touched on this too and to some extent I agree with her: it kind of tastes like early morning fresh air. There’s a crispness and naturalness to it that just reminds me of the outdoors. A lot. There’s something else to it too; but I just can’t place it. It makes me feel a little nostalgic and sad, though. Yet, in that sort of silent sadness there’s a peaceful and calming quality. Have you ever just burst into tears and cried? It’s not a pretty thing, but then at the very end when you’re finally done crying you feel so good.
Describing flavour in emotions is a tricky thing but one I’m compelled to do in this moment. Anyway; props to this tisane for tasting wonderful and almost making me have an emotional epiphany and breakdown.
Yay, a green rooibos. I get mostly pineapple from this one, with maybe the slightest hint of banana. I could see papaya being really good in here. I also wish I could have gotten the coconut. I don’t really taste it. But granted, I have a cold right now. Maybe I’m not getting the most out of this. I also let it steep for close to ten minutes so the flavours should be as strong as ever.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy more but it’s really good for what it is.
It’s been a busy, and tiring week at work! I’ve built up a whole week’s worth of missed reviews, so time to crack into those before I have class in a few hours…
And speaking of class, I finished this tea off as a “cold infused juice” which was an optional recipe for the class I’m currently taking, which is tea and food pairings/cooking with tea. Basically, I just cold brewed a larger than normal amount of tea straight into some orange juice. As someone who’s already very comfortable with cold brewing it was impossible to resist trying this out. It’s something I’ve actually been curious about even before this class.
I picked out this tea because I thought the strong floral/rose notes of the tea would really compliment the orange. And it totally did! The flavour pairing was a really solid choice, and I’m happy with coming up with it all on my own instead of following the ‘guide’ of tea/food pairings we received in class. While it IS nice to have that as a reference, I think coming up with good pairings is definitely a skill and one I want to master without a major crutch.
The only issue, I’d say, was that the orange juice was still very strong and while I definitely did taste the tea there was still a lot of competitive flavour from the juice itself. That’s an issue because cold brewing this way already takes a lot more leaf than a normal cold brew would and cold brews ‘eat’ leaf really quickly already. I’m going to try this again, for sure, but I need to play around with how I’m using my “juice” base. I don’t know if that means I’ll use a different kind of juice or if I’ll cut it first with water but some more experimentation is definitely coming.
As for the tea itself; for one I didn’t actually pick out myself to order (it was a free sample) I was really quite happy with it and I’d be tempted to get more with my next absolutely inevitable Camellia Sinensis order. It’ll depend on whether it’s available in sizes smaller than 50g because I wouldn’t want that much. If I can scoop up 25g I’ll be getting more.
Flavors: Floral, Rose
Freebie sample from my last Camellia Sinensis order!
Today in tea chat I had Oolong Owl pick something for me to brew up that I hadn’t tried before ’cause I was feeling indecisive and this is what she chose. So, prior to and during class today I brewed this tea Gong Fu in one of my gaiwans.
It’s a really interesting tea: I don’t have a ton of experience with Chinese blacks. Admittedly, I think I lean a little more towards Indian blacks but I’m open to learning and exploring and trying new things. I wasn’t the most technical about this session; but really when am I ever when it comes to brewing Gong Fu? I much prefer to just drink in the moment and go with what feels right rather than take a more technical/precise approach. There’s a time and place for that, but sometimes tea is best as an experience.
Seven infusions in total:
Infusions one to three had a very dry, astringent initial mouthfeel but none of the infusions were actually bitter. All infusions except for maybe the last one were quite rose flavoured which was a different experience. I’ve definitely drank my fair share of floral blacks but don’t think I’ve had much experience with ones that taste distinctly rosey and certainly not to this level/degree. I quite liked the flavour, though! Then, the first few infusions were more nutty with a woody undertone; a mix of sort of peanut nuttyness as well as a sweeter almond-like flavour. Both almond skin which has a drier nutty taste and then as infusions progressed a more sweet, marzipan-like nutty flavour. There were honey notes too which seemed stronger as the infusions progressed. The middle infusions had a nice fruity quality to them; kind of like red currants? But the first few and last few infusions lacked this flavour. Faint notes of cinnamon, as well but not consistently throughout steeps.
This was a really interesting, enjoyable tea! I’d have never picked it out for myself either, so I’m definitely thankful that Camellia Sinensis added it to my order. They’re probably just adding random teas as free samples, but occasionally it feels like the samples they toss in are more thoughtfully picked out. Not sure, honestly. I’d definitely brew this again Gong Fu except I’ve already got the remainder of the leaf cold brewing right now in some orange juice as it’s the tea I thought would best work for the optional juice infusion from class this week.
It’s my birthday, so I decided to celebrate with this. I would have preferred some sheng, but this is what was available, so it will have to do. I opened the package and gave these old leaves a whiff. I was picking up some real old tones. I picked up some slight roast, parchment, and just a little bit of dry sweetness. I warmed up my new teapot and cups (Novak :D) and poured these little curls in. The scent deepened into a deep earth and dry minerals. This scent was a lot like a basement in the summer. It’s a good but oddly strange scent. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The steeped leaves had an amazing scent! I really loved the spice, musk, mineral aroma. I picked up some amazing pine resin scent with a background of smoke. The aroma was so good! The flavor was something unique. The taste began drying with some pleasant sour tones. The sip then developed to an intense pine flavor. I got a nice head high and body buzz from the drink. In later steeping I picked up some maple syrup sweetness. I was able to pull only about four good steeping sessions. The session was decent, but it wasn’t all that amazing. I thought that for the price this should be at least somewhat fantastic. However, it was still a good experience, and I still have some to try out. I will hopefully find a better suited birthday tea…
Flavors: Earth, Maple, Musty, Paper, Pine, Pleasantly Sour, Resin, Smoke, Sweet, Wood
Puerh Tea TTB. This tea is excellent. It’s fruity with notes of cocoa. It has very little fermentation flavor left for a 2012 tea. I did not notice a heavy fermentation taste that you might expect in a recent shou. I think I get a slight note of camphor here, but very slight. There are no off tastes or wet storage tastes. Camellia Sinensis must have done a good job of storing this tea. This is definitely one I would look into buying if it is still available. I used a little less leaf on this than my usual because there was only 6.6g of leaf left in the original 15g sample. So I think later steeps were a little weak. Nothing more leaf wouldn’t solve anyway.
I brewed this tea twelve times in a 100ml gaiwan with 6.6g 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, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min. I think with a larger amount of leaf this tea would go twenty steeps or nearly anyway.
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Fruity, Sweet
A very pleasant asamushi sencha: softly marine with a slight roasted flavour in the first infusion, followed by a surprisingly muted astringency in the second. The third brew produces a refreshingly sweet liquor.
First infusion – 5 g. per 8 oz water, 65 deg., 1:00 min.
Second infusion – 5 g. per 8 oz. water, 65 deg., 2:00 min.
Third infusion – 5 g. per 8 oz. water, boiling, 10:00 min.
I was light on pretty well everything when brewing this up because I just wanted a light taste of the smoke notes, and nothing assaulting. So, less leaf and less steep time as normal and then on top of that I added milk as well to cut the smoke a bit. And I got my desired affect; this was a weaker/muted smokey flavour with, dare a say it, both anise and wood undertones. So, I did kind of eventually get the licorice flavour CS advertised and which had been missing in previous cups.
I also paired it with some food in addition to my typical song: in this case a poached pear ice cream which was a delicious counterpart to the more savory smoke. Such a light, subtle and soft fruity note was a really good way to juxtapose the smoke notes and make each tiny sip really ‘pop’ in a memorable way.
As for my song pairing…
I really love pairing smoky teas with slower, sadder music because something about teas with strong smoke notes is really reflective and nostalgic to me. So, immediately I thought of the album ‘Hospice’ by The Antlers. Honestly, you could probably pick any song from this album and it would work well. It’s a beautiful ‘story telling’/concept album filled to the brim with sad, reflective songs.
This one was the standout though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egsSN31uAFk
It’s just filled with so much pain, and anger. I don’t know why, but relating to it and connecting to it through the tea I’m drinking is almost therapeutic in a way. I find the whole experience really puts me in both an introspective mood and a relaxed one.