Chicago Tea Garden

Recent Tasting Notes

89

I loved this tea. It was a new tasting experience. Earthy, citrus, dark, and complex.

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90

This tea was extraordinary. I’ve not been able to find a Golden Bi Luo that compares in taste, freshness, and price.

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85

I usually have fruit for breakfast but this morning I have gone all out and made a good veggie style English breakfast. Two veggie sausages, baked beans, fried chestnut mushrooms, two fried eggs and some toast to mop up the food explosion that is on my plate. Not healthy but it will keep me going until dinner time and with something substantial in my stomach I am free to taste teas for the rest of the day without getting tea belly.

This sample of Golden Bi Luo Chun has been sat with me for just over a year and I don’t know why I was worried about sampling it before, or perhaps I forgot about it. Anyone’s guess is as good as my own. Either way an English breakfast is never complete without a cup of black tea.

The tea balls were nice and reflective and golden but they were also very small, I’ve had larger versions of this before elsewhere. I brewed this while I was cooking so I had a mixture of smells (my bad) but I could pick up silky malt tones.

I love my personaliTEA teapot from Adagio, it’s perfect size for 2 mugs of tea and comes in handy when I have days off.

Once steeped a dark brown liquid is produced that bares a sweet malt and chocolate scent that is light and silky. Very nice.

Flavour is mild but matches the scent very much ie soft, sweet, silky, malt, chocolate tones. Also a little smoky though it’s very subtle and hints of wood. After a few sips I can also taste a mature raisin or plum fruit.

This tea is wonderful and I’m sorry for keeping it on my shelf for so long. It makes the perfect start to my day.

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Plums, Raisins, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML
whatshesaid

English breakfast, yum!

TeaBrat

sounds good to me!

Terri HarpLady

That sounds like an awesome breakfast! I can’t even imagine that there is anything unhealthy about it!

Tealizzy

Yes! Awesome breakfast!

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90

The sweetness and floral notes make this one of my favorite Oolongs.

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85

First off, I haven’t been on steepster at all in months! Bad me :<

But today I woke up and decided it was a sticky rice puerh day so I’m baaaaaack :P

Pulled out my last piece of sticky rice pu-erh that was so generously gifted me and stuck it in my new-to-me tea for one set :) http://i58.tinypic.com/34odili.jpg

Preheated both pot and cup (via sitting under the pot) and steeped for 30 seconds. Such a delightful tea…I forgot how light it comes out! Wonderfully earthy and grassy with that sticky rice finish :)

Flavors: Earth, Grass, Rice, Wet Earth

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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85

Finishing up my second steep of this and felt like it needed a separate review. I can already tell each steep will be quite unique and I’m excited.

Unfortunately for this steep in particular, I let it sit to cool and forgot about it for 2+ hours.

It’s still tasty though. The same notes (earth, compost, rice) are present though it’s more compost and less rice. In addition, while steeping or cooling, it seems to have picked up an edge of smokiness.

Delightful cup. Looking forward to the third steep.

Flavors: Earth

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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85

Thanks to moraiwe I had a small sample of this and finally got around to tasting it.

In fact, I started the day out right all around. Drew a warm bath for myself that I enhanced with green tea and then relaxed in the bath while sipping my pu-erh. Ahhh~ ♥

I once described pu-erh as “compost in the best possible way” and this cup reminds me why. It is wonderfully robust and earthy with the flavor of rice lightly intermingling through the cup – especially in the aftertaste, which is made lighter/less bitter because of it.

This is an amazing morning cup for me not only because of its “wake me up with the smell and taste of nature” properties, which make me a happy witch, but also because of the rice. I’m on a thyroid medication that prevents me from eating for an hour after I wake up. With this tea I can have my rice and drink it too ;)

Will definitely resteep throughout the day.

(Thanks also to Auggy, whose review I referenced when preparing this tea!)

Flavors: Earth

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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86

Got this sample of the 2004 Yue Guang Bai aka Moonlight White, from the tea shop, and, when the moon hits my eye, like a big pizza pie, it’s gaiwan time.
First impression, beautiful mix of green and white leaves. Second impression, nice color, very fruity and sweet, strong ‘hui tian’. The package says mysterious infusion, but I miss out on that one, the sweetness makes it a rather easy and in-your-face drink. On the other hand, quite amazing, one would say they’ve really put some sweet stuff in it. This diversity makes me love tea so much. Next!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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Oh, this is really neat. Thanks, Incendiare!

I made 3 steeps at the same time, so I’m sitting here with a plate containing 3 8oz tea mugs and a brownie cupcake. Yum!

From the smells, I like the second steep better. (I did a 30s rinse, 1 min steep, 1.5min steep, 2 min steep.) It smells of green tea, and sweet sticky rice dessert. The stuff a Filipino coworker made for me once so I could eat something at a company potluck. So. Good.

Now for taste… It is indeed sweet and green, reminiscent of rice pudding that’s been toasted onto the side of the pan. Really quite interesting. I overdid it for the second steep, and prefer the first. The second is going bitter, so I’m going to toss it. Oh boo, the third is going bitter too. (It’s 10:30 pm and I have 3 cups of tea to drink, so I think this is acceptable!)

Let that be a lesson for people who are going to try this. 1:30 and 2:00 are too long for the second and third steeps. Best to be more conservative.

Well, I’m going to drink the first steep, eat my brownie, and try a fourth steep. :)

Courtney

Something about toasty toasty rice pudding just sounds delicious.

OMGsrsly

It makes me want to buy a stone bowl and put rice pudding in it so I get crunchy chewy rice like when I order bibimbap. Don’t know if it would work with anything other than plain rice, though.

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Thanks Incendiare for the sample!
I was a bit nervous about trying it because I’d never had tuocha, but after reading what everyone else did, I feel fairly confident I’m doing this ok.

And wow – it really smells like sticky rice! It does taste as deliver, with the slightest tackiest mouthfeel and a slightly sour aftertaste. This is… unusual? I’m happy I tried it but I don’t know that it’s for me. :P

OMGsrsly

Mine’s sitting out on my counter, waiting for me to try! Kind of excited now that I’ve read how to steep it. :)

Amariel

I liked mine.

Cavocorax

It was interesting! But I don’t know that I’d crave it. :)

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71

I think this one is pretty good, but I think it depends on the palate. It does smell just like sticky rice, though in taste, it is mildly pu erh. It is probably one of the lighter pu erh infusions I have had before. I think this could be a really nice tea when you want something with a bit of body, but not overwhelming. This one comes from Incendiare and she has it when we was sick, and I think that is a good time to have it, though for me tonight, it is a cooler night, so it has just the right body and depth.

It is pretty unremarkable in flavour, because it it rather plain, but it is still tasty. I know that sounds contrasting, but I just mean that there isn’t a wow factor, just a nice and simple yum factor..but I don’t think I would go out and buy this for regular use. I wouldn’t mind haveing a few of the tuochas around though, do those rare occasions where I want something simple and tasty like this.

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64

I had one piece from the Traveling Tea Box Pass B, which I think is stuck at the moment! Anyhow, this is a good tea! It smells like sticky rice, and it almost tastes like it too! It is green and crumbly when steeped. I removed the first steep like I usually do with pu-erh, and I drank the next one. I would have done more steeps if I had more time, but I didn’t. It is a mild tasting pu-erh for sure. It is light and brews a pale yellow green color. There is some rice taste to this green pu-erh with slight astringency towards the end of a sip. I am glad to have tried this interesting and new-to-me tea!

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I have already had a couple of Zealong teas and enjoyed them very much. I was going through a samples basket and saw this package still sealed, and it must be ancient! I think it came from Quiltguppy, and I really miss her! She introduced me to some amazing teas.

I had this as an “after Sunday-brekkie” tea. I was up at 5:30 cooking for the chickens and tending them, then took their eggs and made a nice breakfast to share with hubby, and afterward we sat on the sofa drinking this. It is cloudy, drizzly, and chilly, so it was an especially welcome cup today!

Even though this is an old sample, the tea tastes quite good. I think it must have been an eleven on a scale of one to ten when it was fresh. There is a lot of that rock or mineral flavor that oolongs often have, a wonderful floral/fruity aroma, and smooth smooth smooth! We did about five or six steeps.

Tea friend Sandy here on Steepster actually went to tea at the plantation where this was grown! Maybe she will chime in with that experience for us!

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Alright so I’ve given this tea a shot in my yixing the other day, and I was underwhelmed.
I could hardly taste anything! I didn’t understand what was happening…

I really can’t rate it simply because the ‘tea’ tasted like water basically, though it was colored. Ah well.. I am going to try again soon.

Holding off rating for now

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okay I KNOW I logged this one atleast once. Not fair, now that it’s gone weak and stale… I can’t accurately describe what it tastes like. Vegetal, sweet, very light. That’s about it!
Too bad this is another sipdown. Thanks QuiltGuppy for the sample. I miss you!!

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Thank you QueenofTarts for sharing this with me. After having read so many good reviews of this I needed to try it. When I first opened the bag I was reminded of the Cornfield Shu Tuocha but once I unwrapped the little guy it was definitely rice aroma.

After rinsing it, I brewed this gaiwan style (5 oz) with a 5 second steep with boiling water. The color was really light, and the leaves were green. I tasted of rice, kind of reminded of genmaicha, but that may only be because of the rice and nothing more. The taste was really light, closer to watered down actually.

I handed it over to my husband and asked him if he wanted to try it. The look he gives me says that he doesn’t want to but he does anyway, he knows I’ll quite pestering him once he tries it. I didn’t tell him what kind it was or what to expect, just handed him a cup of tea. The first thing he said was “meh” but that’s what he always says. Then he said it tasted like rice, the kind you get at an Asian restaurant. I was impressed and told him that was indeed what it was supposed to taste like!

So, since the first steep was watered down, the second steep I kept at boiling but upped the steep to 12 seconds. Too much time, it was bitter and I ended up tossing the cup, way to bitter. The whole tuocha feel apart on this steep and may have been factor to why it was so bitter.

Third steep. I went back down to a 5 second steep, this time I didn’t preheat the gaiwan and left the water at 200*F instead of boiling. Still to bitter, metallic tasting even. Again I dumped this cup.

Fourth steep. I didn’t preheat the gaiwan and steeped for 5 seconds with water temp at 176*F. Since there’s so much leaf and the leaves are green and all my cups have been bitter I thought treating it as a green tea would help. The verdict? I need to wash out my mouth. I think the bitterness and metallic flavor is having adverse side effects and skewing my taste at the moment. Not quite as bitter and metallic but it’s still there.

I’m going to stop with this one for now since it’s frustrating me and give it another try later. I’m going to leave the rating off it for now since I’m fairly certain that it’s due to my error that this tea is not tasting as it should.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
Bonnie

Enjoyed your adventure with this tea. I love it when people take the time to explore instead of just tossing it in a cup and that’s it.

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I tried.

It smells like popcorn to me, super buttery. I was excited to try it. But all I taste is metallic. I lowered the water temperature (started @ 205), I gave it a rinse, I don’t think this one and I are going to be friends and that makes me sad because it smells great. I’m also not a fan of how they fall apart, makes any sort of steeping rather difficult with little bits getting through even a strainer. I’d try a bit more (sweetening, whatever else I see from notes) but I am just so turned off it right now because metallic tastes and I will never ever be okay together.

OKAY you know how when you have something sitting there and you absolutely must conquer it? 4th try of steeping I finally got something I like. 30 seconds is far, far too long for me, but it works now. Didn’t bother to pay attention to the water temp though, but this time there isn’t a metallic taste, but delicious toasted rice.

I think it’s the herb in here giving me that metallic flavor, because I still get tinges of it in the aftertaste, and now I can tell that it has to be coming from it. Because now as it’s cooling it’s coming back. Argh.

Bonnie

I really like it. I even made some into iced and sweetened it with splenda.

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This is a tea I had my eye on for quite a while, and then I almost missed out on getting to try it at all! Thanks to The Purrfect Cup I was able to share this with my puerh-loving friend tonight!

First, the unique presentation is awesome! I guess I didn’t stick my nose right on this, but I didn’t get any fishy aroma. Maybe these have aged enough now for that to have dissipated. I put the leaves and the “lid” of the orange in my little gong fu pot. I did a quick rinse and then a short steep of just over thirty seconds.

Tasty! The orange flavor has definitely mingled with the tea, and this is a lightly earthy puerh to me, not very horsey and not fishy. The orange peel flavor is quite a nice accent. We made five steeps so far, and we are really enjoying this! Thank you, TPC, for the generous sample!

Sandy says she just bought some of this on the west coast, so I will try to find out where we can obtain more!

Azzrian

PLEASE do! I was so bummed that Chicago went out of biz then to top it off when I went to snatch one of these up they were gone. :( Would love to get my hands on one if Sandy knows where to get them. :)

The Purrfect Cup

Glad you liked it!! :)

Lindsay

I’ve seen pu’erhs like this on ebay. No idea how the quality is though.

TeaBrat

my local tea shop, Aroma sells tangerine pu-erhs. Maybe they’d be willing to break up the assortment of 8 if you called them. http://www.aromateashop.com/store/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=84

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First Yunnan sample I picked out for the husband. Cute snails, he thought they were creepy. We brewed a small amount, 8 oz which is perfect for our two 4 oz cups. I did a quick rinse then a one minute steep with slightly below boiling water, which is lucky really as I didn’t have the steeping parameters but knew my husband didn’t like super short steeps but I didn’t want to risk a long one so I planned on doing three infusions at 1, 2 and 3 mins each.

I probably could have used more leaf but the first infusion came out smooth, light and with a hint of honey sweetness. Husband said it was nice, but there was nothing remarkable about it and he definitely didn’t get vanilla, I figured it would come through in a later infusion.

So I rebrewed and my husband and I had the same reaction, we wanted to scrape our tongues to get rid of the feeling on them. I wouldn’t call it bitter, but it was an odd kind of astringent, it felt cool and the taste was pretty mild. Now I don’t care much for second steeps on most teas and the husband doesn’t like rein fusing British blends because of this similar feeling it yields. So while he ordinarily chalks it up to the quality or just the nature of black teas, I promised the third infusion would be better.

Not so, it had a little bit of a buttery mouthfeel but it turned dry and was bland. I experimented with a short steep to see if the tea had anything left to give, but no. Me thinks I abused it and shall treat what is left of it more kindly. I’m excited for him to try Verdant’s Yunnan blacks, but we both realized tonight was not the night.

chadao

maybe try a little cooler water? Go for the shrimp eyes (when the little bubbles start blinking or moving around at the bottom of the pan).

Autumn Hearth

Thanks for the suggestion! Will try cooler water and stick to a min next time.

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This one was sent to me from a friend, it’s from Chicago Tea Garden. I steeped it in my gaiwan, It is Very good so good I will buy more from the site myself soon, Now it’s time to get out n about and go visit my brother I’m going to share a cup with him cuz it’s so nice.

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I salvaged the tea leaves after I excitedly spilled them all over the kitchen counter. I couldn’t wait to try this tea!

First Steep: I’m honestly not tasting too much with this one. It’s a little bit floral, but very light. Hopefully the flavor improves with each infusion!

Second Steep: Grassy and slightly sweet. The floral notes linger on the tongue at the end of the sip.

Third Steep: Flavors are a bit bolder this time. Still sweet and vegetal.

Overall, I feel like I need a bit more time with this tea to get a good grip on what I’m tasting. I will rate next time I have another cup.

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It has been a few weeks since I’ve done more than dip a toe into the Steepster pool. It’s been kinda rough – first a week-long visit to the in-laws, which really was nice… well, until I came down with the stomach flu. So battled that and after a week, I finally start feeling better and my kitty (who was 20 and I got when she was just a few months old) passed away. So yeah. Rough month lately.

For a while I wasn’t really branching out beyond CTG’s Keemun and Adagio’s Yunnan Golden Curls because I just couldn’t deal with thinking about new tea. But now things are better (which my computer corrected to butterfish???) now and I finally no longer feel like I’m wandering around in a fog. So it is time to start having a little tea fun.

I’m not really a big dancong fan, but I’m trying to develop an appreciate for the not-so-green oolongs. Thus, I got a little sample of this one.

It’s lovely. Creamy and sweet on the front end, fruity and honeyed on the back. The smell and taste bring to mind pouchong and milk oolongs, which is big mark in the plus column for me. Of the few dancongs I’ve had, I don’t think it’s going too far to say that this is probably the best one I’ve had. The others have seem too mild and delicate and soft. Pretty, yes. But faint, no matter how much leaf I used. This one has a good, noticeable taste that I don’t feel I need to concentrate hard just to taste. And the taste? Well, I’ve already mentioned it is lovely. It brings to mind tropical beaches and lush jungle and farmers markets (the peachy aspect, you know).

But it has helped me realize something: I don’t think I will ever love dancongs. The flavor? DELIGHTFUL! I made several oohs and ahhs while drinking this. But I think this type of tea just consistently has a bit of a drying aspect to it and that’s just not what I tend to go for in teas, especially ones that have such delightfully decadent front ends. I don’t think it is drying enough to be considered astringent, but it is drying enough to make me smack my lips together a bit after each sip to reline my mouth with saliva (which does bring out a lovely aftertaste in my mouth – very stone fruity and sweet – but still). And I just tend to go more for cuddly teas than refreshing ones.

That being said, I think for those more inclined to want refreshing or bright aspects to their tea, this one is pretty stellar.

(Oh, and PS – not giving this one a numerical rating because I can’t quite figure where it would fit – the dryness of the tea just makes me unenthusiastic about it but the flavor is deserving of massive enthusiasm. So yeah, torn.)

JacquelineM

I’m sorry to hear about your kitty. I remember talking about her and litter boxes for elder cats with you.

TeaBrat

I’m sorry too and I hope things are looking up for you!

Auggy

JacquelineM and Amy oh – Thanks. Things are getting better but yep, she has been a constant in my life since I was 13 so it’s up and down….

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