Chicago Tea Garden
Popular Teas from Chicago Tea GardenSee All 26 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
It’s been ages since I’ve had this tea and all I have been wanting to drink lately is black tea.
Possibly because of the weather? Usually oolongs are my favourite, but I am finding myself disinterested in green oolongs. Perhaps the summer will turn this around. I’m still stalking the Verdant tea website waiting for the Laoshan Black to come back in stock ;( Hmph.
Quick smell of the dry leaves gives a nice sweet malty note.
First steep I get sweetish caramel notes with smoke. Definite smoke. Delicious. A little bit of a harsh edge mid-sip, but it is very lovely still. The smell is delicious. The lingering taste is malty raisin.
Another sample to finish and use for my post dinner tea with my husband. He doesn’t mind Oolong so hopefully this will be a hit with him, I notice other Steepsterites have rated it highly.
I love the little hand rolled balls that Oolong come in with each one unique in shape and colours. This Oolong is a mixture of dark green, brown and dark brown but I also want to note that I can also see what looks like stem in a few places. The scent is buttery and floral and there is also a delicacy to it.
Once steeped my tea is golden yellow in colour with a sweet floral toasted aroma. Very refreshing and warming at the same time. In taste the toasted flavour is the first element before it changes to a floral rather buttery affair that vanishes very quickly. There is also a little buttery hint at the end whilst it’s mellowed and the flavours truly are spot on. It does pick up in strength but remains smooth.
Delicious. It’s a hit for my husband too and is a very nice introduction to our pudding (home made orange sponge cake with vanilla custard..hubbies favourite).
Today I decided to finish some samples that are taking up space and I really should aim to remove the samples from my cupboards (both real and virtual). This morning I received my Adagio order which included their personaliTEA so I may as well test the teapot with my samples. :)
This tea is dark green/brown in colour and consists of thin and fairly long curly shapes. There is a sweet nutty scent with woody yet floral and fruity tones. A lot going on there but it’s pleasant.
Once steeped the tea is light yellow in colour with an uplifting floral earthy scent. For my first cup I waited roughly 1 minute from when the water was poured from my new teapot into my cup.
In flavour this green tea has grassy, nutty, floral, sweet, freshly woody and fruity. In essence this tastes like you would expect and imagine from a green tea but this particular blend is magical. The more I drink this tea the more I can taste all of these different flavours. There are many different layers to taste and each one works well with the other.
Now let me explain my flavours and descriptions. The nutty factor is similar to almond crossed with a peanut or sesame seeds, it has that dry slightly salty and rich flavour that is not overly strong but very noticeable. Amongst the nuts are sweet grassy tones (like fresh cut grass) with a kick of floral hues that remind me of peony blended with a crisp almost pear like fruitiness.
I was honestly not expecting much after my first experience with Chicago Tea Garden which was not a happy one when I sampled their Sticky Rice Pu-erh Tuocha (which was really not to my personal taste). This tea however has impressed me with it’s combination of flavours and as a whole it’s character.
I’m happy to drink this and watch the world go by while I’m looking for a nice orange cake recipe. Bliss.
Appearance: hints of green, woody bits
Aroma when Dry: sweet, nutty, sticky rice
After water is first poured: buttered wild rice
At end of first steep: same notes
At end of first steep: clear
Preferred time of day: any
At first?: buttery rice
As it cools?: notes get warmer, earthier, slight honey notes surface, then starts to get brothy
Additives used (milk, honey, sugar etc)? No
Lingers? yes, with a creamy, earthy texture
Second steep (5 min)
Aroma: same, warmer
same notes, hints of metallic notes
Third Steep (5 min):
Taste: getting a bit creamier, honeyed in the butter notes
As it cools: starts to get salty, brothy notes
Fourth Steep (3 min):
Taste: Buttery Ricewater broth
Fifth Steep(8 min):
Taste: Buttery Ricewater, hints of brothiness
Light brothy ricewater
My fifth flavoured Pu Erh of the day :) I’m on a roll!
The little tuocha’s are so cute, I love using them. The tuocha’s are dark green in colour with a slight sweet ricey fragrance. Sort of like rice pudding without the cream.
After a 10 second rinse the tea smells much more like cooked rice but not as thickly so as Genmaicha. I haven’t cooked rice in a while and this smell is making me crave it.
Ooh I forgot to mention I am using my gongfu with two of these tuocha’s. Copying other peoples steeping time of 30 seconds (as that seems about right).
Steep 1 – The same sticky rice smell with a light yellow colour. The Pu Erh is mellow and a little floral with a light rice flavour. The smell is thicker than the taste which is good because stodgy rice would not be nice. It’s also still sweet but naturally so and not overpowering.
Steep 2 – A little darker in colour and thicker in smell. The taste is also much stronger now with a thick floral perfume flavour taking over the light rice which is now mostly in the after taste. It’s also picked up more of a toasted flavour.
Steep 3 – Now it’s a light gold colour rather than yellow. Now it’s twice the strength it was before and a little bitterness is noticeable along with a fairly harsh and dry perfume taste. The sweetness has almost gone but the rice remains at the back of the throat as the after taste. Not as pleasant as the first steep.
Steep 4 – Same gold colour but more toasty in smell. Not as strong as the previous steep (thankfully) but that wonderful rice flavour has still been over taken by this perfumey one.
I’m leaving my steeps there, it started off well but ended abruptly shortly after. I have never had a Pu Erh that has changed so much between first and second steeps. The first steep was pleasant where as the second and third were much too strong for my personal liking. It’s low score comes down to this tea’s problems with re steeping which is mandatory for most Pu Erh.
Thank you, BoxerMama, for this sample. I think these tuocha pieces found a good end, although they definitely aren’t something I would find myself drinking regularly!
To me they have a musky odour. They taste exactly like moist clumpy rice ,that has been wrapped in vegetal bamboo leaves, once steeped. I went with a rinse and 30 second steeps.
I have two cups of this beside me right now (first and second steep). First is more oily and buttery and makes me think that there might be egg in the middle of this rice ball. Second steep comes off more green, although equally buttery. Mild astringency but no bitterness. Picking up salty and sweet notes.
Third steep is more astringent and bold; the tuocha disintegrated completely (so cool!). Almost have to reduce the steep time when it falls apart to reduce the briskness.
Pros for me: not fishy, coffee-like, or bitter. Flavours of buttery steamed rice with a pinch of green. Savory and filling profile.
Questionable qualities: light musky body that may rub people the wrong way if noticed (like eggs, mushrooms, or fat). Also picking up a note very similar to cilantro. I like cilantro but it’s a wild card.
I think this may be very good alongside certain dishes.
Back Log from last weekend.
How can a tea that smells so good, taste so bad?
How can a tea that tastes so bad have such a high rating? I LOVE Puerh, this one turned my stomach. I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth or the smell out of my timolino for hours! I feel like rotting leaves steeped in boiling water would be the equivalent. I’m feeling like I must have meesed something up seeing as how everyone seems to love it. I’m not sure I’ll give it a seond chance even though I have some left. :(
It’s good, and nothing super special. I had good success putting one tuocha in a pot with boiling water and steeping it until I remember that I have tea steeping (as I often forget). The jasmine is not overpowering at all, which is what I like most. I would recommend it, however CTG is no more…and that’s sad.
When brewed right, these tiny, fuzzy, tender leaves work wonders. When brewed wrong, you’ll be lucky if the liquor merely turned out insipid: oversteeped biluochun takes on the taste and feeling of rubber bands. I got through the majority of my bag making it various degrees of Wrong before the tea gods blessed me with a ~20oz pot of ambrosia. I was completely winging it, turning off the kettle when it felt right and counting off 40 sec before starting the pour from the pot, which I’d left unlidded this time. I have a kyusu, a gaiwan and a Korean infuser mug—which can all pour much faster than this ungainly 32oz pot that drains slower than glaciers do—but past attempts to strictly control all the parameters ended up failing anyways. So imagine my surprise when the mug touched my lips and the liquid poured in as a sweet, gentle caress. It had an amiable sweetness and an airy lightness. The fragrance was fruity (specifically like honeydew, if you want my subjective, unreliable observation), which is a quality I find a lot more pleasant than the grassy or floral notes from other greens or green oolongs.
This was sent to me by Autumn Aelwyd. Thanks!
I do love TGYs. They’re so floral and buttery and creamy and sweet. Green oolongs are definitely my favorite oolong. Maybe my favorite tea variety.
For some reason, oolong has become the category of tea for weekend night Doctor Who marathons. It just feels right. I brewed a big 20oz TARDIS mug full of this, and resteeped the leaves halfway through. Delicious.
Before steeping this tea it seems to have a sweet earthy smell. Visually, it is made up of tight clusters of leaves and contains no stems upon brief inspection. I am drinking the last of my ‘monkey picked’ and have plenty of experience steeping this particular tea now that I am finishing up the last of this .25 lb bag. I personally prefer steepings between 1 and 2 minutes for this tea.
The tightly packed leaf clusters slightly unfurl after the first steep. The smell is sweet with floral grass like undertones. The colour is a pale yellow. The taste is excellent and lingers after sipping to the point that I can still smell it as I breath through my nose. This tea’s flavour is extremely deep, the initial sip will produce one flavour while the aftertaste produces another. This took some time for me to note as the favour is so well composed that it blends into itself. The texture seems creamy simply because of how the flavour changes so smoothly from that initial sip to swallow to wonderful aftertaste.
Since I enjoy this tea so much it was excellent to experiment with. Varying temperate, steeping vessels and length of steep has allowed me to get the most out of this amazing leaf. As I re-steep the flavour intensifies and opens up more to the point where I am getting maximum enjoyment from the third steep. If you like Oolongs and have a taste for them I would strongly recommend investing in this tea. It allows for forgiving steeps that never disappoint and a quality of leaf that is hard to find…
I’ve been popping Yin Chiao like mad trying to get rid of this cold but it seems to have frozen it in the initial stage. So I’ve had an on-and-off fever for days now, sore throat, fatigue, etc, yet it’s not a full-blown cold. Makes me want to just stop taking that stuff and let it run its course. Ugh, just feel like sleeping.
So that said, I wanted an unflavoured tea, something that wouldn’t upset my already nauseated tummy. This was quite salty last time I drank it, like salty popcorn, but this time, it was mellower. I gave it a really good rinse this time so maybe that’s why.
Still no rating. I’d probably place this somewhere in the 70-80 range but don’t want to commit to that yet. First world problems.
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.
Holy roasty toasty awesome in my cup! I’ve had this for a while now and this is the first time I’ve had it since I purchased it way back when Tony was closing shop. But half of it is off to a friend of mine from New Zealand who was very interested in this tea. So I’m just getting around to enjoy this. This is just a damn good cup of tea. The smell is slightly vegital with hints of a toasted flavor. The taste is just amazing. Glad I can get multiple infusions out of this one!
Of all the delicate, champagne-y colored oolongs I’ve tried, this is by far the sweetest. Has a really nice, pale steeped color and feels smooth in your mouth. (And if I say it tastes like sweet satin sheets K S had better not laugh at me.)
Definitely too light for anything but a quiet afternoon, but perfect in a silent Sunday afternoon house. (Sort of. My head is still echoing from a morning full of 10-year-olds at church. Today’s deep philosophical question: What would happen if Lady Gaga came to our church and what would she wear?)
I got this during CTG’s going out of business sale in summer. I’ve only started brewing it lately and I don’t know what went wrong but it has hardly any aroma whatsoever. Perhaps when I opened the bag upon receiving it, I didn’t close it back properly, and these loose leaves got aired out to the point of tastelessness. Perhaps this was old stock held too long by either Tony or David Lee Hoffman. Perhaps I need to change my water filter. In any case, brewed in a gaiwan, this yields a dark, silky smooth liquor, with a faint smell of wet autumn leaves. But that’s it. It’s far too faint. I’m constantly reminded of a public bath house for some reason, from a long-ago visit to Korea in my childhood. I wonder why. After my sixth steep I start to get an unpleasant feeling in my stomach, and a bit of nausea. The big, blackish wet leaves shimmer in an interesting way, though barely any of them open up even after 10 steeps. They’re still a bit crumbly. I rub one between my fingers and only get the same faint wet leaves smell. If I ever fill out a mail order for tea from the Phoenix Collection, I might consider throwing a unit of this in, just to give it another try. The numerical rating I give this tea doesn’t show the whole picture, but it’s foolish to try to be objective about something as experiential, ephemeral, and personal as tea, so I choose a rating that represents my own personal experience.
Thanks to Autumn Hearth for this!
I was in such an oolong mood today. I don’t know why. But I remembered I had this in my drawer!
It’s just what I want in an oolong: buttery, floral, a little creamy. There’s a natural sweetness to it that’s great. I’m on steep #3 (Western-style) and it’s still going strong.