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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown! This was an easy sample to finish – it became my morning go-to for a few days, because it’s so strong and robust that it actually stands a chance of waking me up. It reminds me a lot of Butiki’s Kenya Obsidian, and of the Ajiri Black I tried once in the distant past. Clearly I need more Kenyan teas in my life!
Also: 200! I’ve resisted buying more tea so far, but it’s truly been a struggle. Hopefully this week I’ll definitely be under 200, and it’ll be a huge achievement if I can keep it that way.
A sample from Miss B! I adore Kenyan black tea, and I have vivid memories of Butiki’s Kenya Obsidian, which was probably the last one I drank. I pretty much relied on it just before Christmas – it woke me up and got me through the day. My first sip of this one brings those memories right back, because it’s the base tea that’s front and centre initially. It’s robust, malty, strong – a lot of the things I really appreciate in black tea. It’s not bitter, or drying, or too tannic, though, and that’s a welcome discovery.
The bergamot is the second fiddle here. It’s quite gentle, but strikes a good balance between fruity and floral without being overpowering, bitter, or just plain fake-tasting. Bergamot isn’t always my favourite thing, but I feel quite at home with this one. When it’s at its best, I find Earl Grey soothing and relaxing – it’s something about the scent, I think, paired with the lightly brisk flavour. This one smells of sunshine, but it’s a tamer beast than some in terms of taste. Perfect for me, then. Plus, that base…
Definitely one of the best EGs I’ve tried recently.
A sample from Miss B, from the box that keeps on giving. Seriously, I’ve not found the bottom yet :)
This was my pre-bedtime cup, made up as a latte. I used 2 tsp of tea in half a cup of water, so it brewed up nice and strong before I added the milk. Weak chai is not my thing! To taste, it’s deliciously creamy – and not just from the milk. There are strong notes of cardamon and fennel, which are two of my favourite chai ingredients, plus a warming spiciness from the ginger and a sweetness from the cinnamon. There’s also a light background floral, I think rose, which makes this a little unusual amongst the chai blends I’ve tried.I thought at one point I could taste a hint of chili, too, but that might have been my imagination.
I enjoyed this one. It’s a warming, flavourful chai blend but not too heavy for a late night cup. The rose adds a pleasant edge reminiscent of turkish delight, and a touch of additional sweetness. It also stands up well to the milk. I’d drink this one again.
2 tsp, 4m, boiling water. Latte – 50:50 milk and water.
Tried for the first time at work today. Sweet and something the description doesn’t even hint at – meaty, savory, smoke. Not ashpit or campfire smoke though. Like really, really well smoked meat. This would make a fantastic marinade I think. It’s a chewy tea that is very smooth and easy to drink. I was initially leery of the dry leaf scent as it was pretty smoky. I was dreading it being like lapsang souchong. But it turned out to be a really, really good tea.
I’ve had this for awhile, and I finally decided to drink it. I thought this was a blooming tea, but I was mistaken. This tea is 20 strands of flattened oolong tea that are tied together to make a “bag-free” tea bag. It’s pretty cool! It was a little difficult to open, for I didn’t want to break the fragile star. I placed this inside my glass teapot and gave it a hit of water. The star slowly opens up and puffs out; it’s very pretty. The smell of the tea and leaf carry an unpleasant roasted scent. I was impressed by how the tea looked, but I had misgivings on what it would taste like. However, I was completely wrong. This tea tastes fantastic. The brew is a nice clear dark bronze. The initial sip is a mixture of creamy malt and almond. This is a nice subtle wood flavor with a good body. I was only able to get one steeping, but I think I may pick some of these up. I feel these would make a good conversation piece, and I’d like to show them off to some people. To me, this is a very unique tea, and I really liked it.
Flavors: Almond, Creamy, Malt, Smooth, Sweet, Wood
Malty, with strong notes of ripe berries. Used to astringency in Kenyan teas, but the almost juicy fruitiness actually really reminds me of Sun-Moon Lake Taiwan assam teas (the most recent one I’ve got on-hand to compare is Oollo’s Red Jade; might do a comparison…). It’s really quite nice to try a full-leaf Kenyan black tea; really makes a difference. Was sipping this during work today, so it’s not fresh in my mind, and I’m a bit sleepy now.
Was actually hoping to pick up Justea’s hand-crafted black (I’ve got the oolong), but it’s a limited release as I understand it and not really easy to find in the grocery shops.
Flavors: Berry, Malt
This is a definite morning EG, not a mid-afternoon cup. The base is incredibly robust and malty with mild astringency (and takes a shorter steep better than a longer one). They bergamot is crisp, vibrant and citrusy.
I could definitely seeing this taking milk and sweetener well!
Overall it’s a tasty cup that covers every thing an EG should be with a side of ‘POW’ to the face.
I’m trying to finish off some Tea Sparrow samples so I can justify restarting that subscription, lol. This was my first month since putting it on hold, and I missed out on Tisano cacao bean shells. :( Anyway, this is an interesting chai. I think when I’m in the mood for chai, I tend to reach for one of the more classic Indian blends (particularly if they have cardamom, which I love). This one is pretty different, with the licorice, fennel, and rose petals. It’s good though! I find it to be pretty well-balanced: malty from the base tea, sweet from the licorice/fennel, spicy from the cinnamon/cloves, warming from the ginger/pepper, and floral from the rose petals. That’s a lot of flavours for one tea, but it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds. :) I think I’ll finish off the rest of this sample stovetop-style and see if that’s any different.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Licorice, Rose
I made this cup this morning because I was super tired and needed a caffeine kick.
The smell of it is really interesting – malt, raisins and an unexpected burst of citrus. Taste wise, this is mostly malt, with a pleasant amount of bitterness, and then a hint of citrus on the finish.
I finished most of this cup, and then decided to have a nap on the couch when I realized that I couldn’t focus my eyes.
The rest of this cup I drank cold, and it was also very nice.
Thank you to Lindsay for this sample!
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Malt, Raisins
Seems I may have oversteeped this a touch tonight, because there was definitely some astringency, though it was quite drinkable. However, it was a fairly unremarkable tea, IMO. Not really roasty, a bit of floral perhaps, but nothing too special, to my palate anyhow. I’ll drop the infusion time to 2 minutes next time (although we’ll see tomorrow what the resteeps bring).
This is a good breakfast tea. Malty, full-bodied, with a bit of astringency. Good plain and with milk. I got a 2nd steeping out of the leaves (steeped for 3min the first time, 5min the second). I like this company and the work that they’re doing, so I’m glad I like the tea as well. :)
I’m not an expert in oolong, but this is a pleasant and enjoyable tea, good for at least 3 infusions. It has a slightly buttery mouthfeel, and hints of floral and sweetness. Clearly I have an inexperienced palate compared to some reviewers, lol. I like the long, twisty leaves and I like the fact that I’m supporting tea farmers in Kenya by buying from this company.
This is bright and sweet and very lemony—there’s something almost candy-like about the lemon, though it’s in no way artificial. The base is smooth and works well with the crispness of the bergamot. This is one I’d definitely consider picking up when I need to replenish my Earl Grey stash, and from a company I’d like to support too. Thanks for the sample, Nicole_Martin (I think)!
I’ve been slacking off on my sample stash this summer. While I’ve been dutifully chugging through a couple of teas I’d acquired in massive (well, 3 oz.) quantities, I’ve mostly only been drinking tea at work. And I don’t like to try anything for the first time at work, since I can’t do much in the way of timing or controlling temperature there. I have been drinking copious quantities of iced corn, corn silk, and barley tisanes I picked up from HMart at home, so there’s that.
Anyway, now that it’s getting cooler, I’m more inclined to reach for hot tea, and today I decided to break out this sample of African Chai I’ve been hanging onto for the better part of a year. I picked this up from someone—maybe Nicole_Martin?—at one of the now-defunct NYC meet-ups. And while it’s not my ideal chai, it’s pretty good! I’m enjoying the base; it’s got just the right amount of astringency and malt for my tastes.
There’s a nice natural sweetness to this chai. It’s a little heavy on the cloves and light on the everything else for my taste, but it does taste pleasingly gingerbread-y. I’m not generally a fan of fennel or liquorice in teas, but while I do taste them they’re subtle enough not to bother me here. I was intrigued by the inclusion of rose, since I love the one other rose chai I’ve tried, but I can’t taste it here. All in all, this is a nice fall tea, and a great way to cap off my brunch of pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin butter. I’m not sure if it’s something I’d want to pick up more of, but I have enough left for another cup to mull it over.
From the Round 3 Here’s Hoping TTB
I don’t know if it’s because it was in a TTB or if there is some other factor, but the bergamot flavor is completely
missing from my cup. After looking at other’s thoughts on this tea I realize that this isn’t normal for this EG, so I’m not going to give this a rating right now. I will say that the base tea is very nice. A little brisk, but it has nice body.
This was from the last Amoda Tea box (I miss them!) I was happy to see this tea in the box, because it was one from JusTea that I hadn’t yet tried. I had tried their delicious African Chai – and I was happy that was in the box too, because I was more than happy to drink that one again! But since this Handcrafted Oolong was new to me, I was happy to be able to try something different.
The aroma I experienced when I first opened the pouch was that of fresh cut hay. This is a fragrance I’m familiar with having grown up in a farming community where the surrounding farms and ranches would grow hay and alfalfa, and I could always tell when the neighbors were harvesting their hay because the smell of freshly cut hay would fill the air. But I have to admit that it was a little weird to be experiencing that scent when I opened a pouch of Oolong. I often experience it when I have a white tea, but, not so much an Oolong.
My earliest infusions were sweet – like molasses – with distant vegetal notes. Later infusions brought some fruit notes into focus, as well as some woodsy tones. Notes of plum and nectarine, like the cooked fruit – imagine a plum/nectarine pie. That sounds good. I must be hungry.
A really good Oolong. Definitely one I’d be willing to have again. This one made me happy.