Popular Teas from SamovarSee All 74 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
A couple of my coworkers and I frequent Samovar just for chai “to go.” We go there for fun and we go there to brighten our mood when we’re having a bad day. It is the best chai ever! I love how it is peppery, but still a little sweet. So, we went there today, and I had a good vent session and felt better afterwards!! What’s better than a chai with friends?!!
This Earl reminds me of why I started drinking tea. It’s a bergamot party which if you’re not crazy about it might taste over empowering. But it just blends in with the boldness of the black tea so nicely. It’s taking me some teacups to adjust the right brewing time, started with 5 minutes, then 8 & guess I’m staying with 4 minutes. I usually drink EG’s to wake up, with a dash of milk & honey, but experimented with raw sugar crystals & is a nice treat. On my top 3 EG’s now.
Grr! Steepster ate my tasting note. :( I knew I should have copied it before I hit save.
Anyway, I got a box full of awesome today, from the lovely Miss Claire. I smelled all the unsealed teas and had a really hard time picking one to try first. I ended up with this pu’erh…my very first. (OMG, PU’ERH VIRGIN.)
Dry: Orange! Yum yum. Hubby said “YES! Make this!”
Rinsed, then made a 15-second 1st steep, which I gave to the husband.
Then I made a 2nd 15-second steep for myself.
Aroma: Musky earth and an undertone of sweet orange. This will sound unflattering, but there’s a brand of pump soap I’ve used in public restrooms that has a very similar scent profile, only this is cleaner, organic, calm.
Sip: Complex earth & good antiques, compelling orange flavor. Amazing balance. I’m actually shocked at how mellow and pleasant this is, considering my first impression of the steep smell.
Finish: Slight cooling effect that lingers on the palate for a long time. Also, I feel effing fantastic. What is this? Is my tea spiked? :O
In summary: Great first pu’erh! I’m intrigued and very satisfied. Teas like this are the reason for tea ceremonies. I can’t even imagine just tossing back a cup of this without a thought, like I would a coffee or breakfast black.
Passing this along in trades. Its a great intro to Wuyi Oolong but sadly I feel this is one of Samovar’s lesser teas. I love Samovar when I can afford them but I feel this Wuyi is a little lacking. Its good, don’t get me wrong, but as I said a good starter Wuyi. Its not as complex as it could be. Sipdown of the tin I had and still have a box to dig out and pass on as well.
Floral after taste.
Amount: 2 tsp
Water: 750ml at 195°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 2 minutes
Dry Leaf Smell: sweet, toasty
Steeped Tea Smell: vegetal
Flavor: toasty, silky
Liquor: Translucent yellow brown
Not as nice as when made in the store.
750ml at 195°F for 2 min 30 seconds
floral, vegetal, sweet, tangy aftertaste
750ml at 195°F for 3 min
I believe the leaves could have gone a few more times, but time to leave work
Rating: 3/4 leaves
Perfectly awesome after creamy chicken soup… :)
I’ve been wanting to go to a Samovar tea room for years, and since I live in the Bay Area it’s somewhat astonishing to me that I never made it to one before Friday. We took the kids to the SF Zoo and then went to the Zen Valley location for tea and dinner. It was chilly outside and the tea room was warm and peaceful. A lovely place to sit.
This is one of the two teas I had while there (on the menu it is called “Golden Phoenix”). It was served in a gaiwan, which I’ve never quite mastered, but I did my best. I was reminded of why I love oolongs and why I don’t drink them often. I had this after dinner and the fam was getting restless and wanted to leave, while I kept trying to squeeze in just one more infusion.
This is a richer flavored oolong than the Four Seasons, but still somewhat delicate, not as floral, more “oolongy” with a stone fruit and woodsy flavor. I wasn’t able to control my infusion times what with the distractions of being in company and my somewhat bumbling gaiwan style, but I found that I preferred short infusions to longer ones. The longer ones took a turn toward bitterness, while the shorter ones had a very subtle peachy note with a pleasantly sweet aftertaste. I can’t help but believe my experience would have been improved if I’d ordered this one before dinner when I had more time to savor how this changed from infusion to infustion.
I had this with my sister on a tea date in San Francisco and it was amazing.
I’ve been an avid pu reh drinker for quite some time. I have been known to replace my morning cup of coffee with a dark cup of this tea.
This tea was a sensual experience, even for this avid drinker. The first wash sent an amazing earthy aroma to my nose, deep with a hint of fresh pipe tabacco. With the first steep I was transported into a world of chocolate, it left me with the distict aftertaste of fresh pulled espresso.
With the secound and third steepings the espresso deepened, but the chocolate was still wonderfully present in the four ground.
This cup brings out everything I love about pu reh and leaves any other tea in the dust. This is hands done my favorite pu reh of all time and I have not found a match to it’s splendor.
Who’s awesome? RAYN IS AWESOME!!!
Today Rayn gets home from work and says, “some strange boxes came for you at my work today”.
I respond with “that is odd, I’m not expecting anything right now”.
He opens up his wheelie suitcase and starts piling small boxes on the floor while saying “yeah, all this tea came for you for some reason”.
I stand there slack-jawed for a minute before I realize that they are Samovar boxes. And then it dawns on me that Rayn has brought home the Samovar celebration kit, and I didn’t ask for it. He just decided to randomly surprise me with about 2 pounds of tea from a local retailer that I love (insert excited exclamation points here). Do I have the best partner or what?
Another random tea moment happened on Saturday that made me realize how lucky I am. We were at his company’s holiday party, and around dessert time Rayn decided to get another drink, and asked me if I would like anything. I said a cup of tea would be nice. He asked “what kind?” I said black tea. He asked again, “what kind?” At this point I realized he’s learned enough about tea to know that “tea” is not specific enough, and neither is “black tea”. And while he does drink tea a few times a week, it’s always because I made him some.
Now onto this tea! I love blood oranges, and I’m learning to love puerh. I like the combination of both! I am smelling a vaguely fishy scent, but I can’t tell right now if that’s the tea or because I made prawn stir fry for dinner. I have to try this another night (a fair, non prawn dinner night) and see if I still smell it.
I LOVE the blood orange flavor in this. It’s not even remotely artificial, and really specifically blood orange and not regular orange. It’s slightly creamy and spicy, and the ginger and grapefruit in this really pops. I can’t taste much of the puerh when it’s hot, but as it cools I get a bit of damp earthyness.
Oh yeah, and here’s Rayn’s review: frowny face…“not my thing”. Guess you can’t please everyone. ;)
A Genmaicha cousin with added matcha powder for that electric green look and extra vegetal punch. Whether good or great is hard to say. But costly, is surely is.
A pretty good tea, at $7/oz this is an expensive tea for daily consumption. I’ve found this tea is enjoyed by many people, both tea lovers and coffee hogs. Its smooth, bright, and as always too expensive.
A vibrant green grass flavor emerges through a subtle background of rice and slight seaweed. The mixture of rice, leaf, and powder means that the refined subtle flavors of each component become lost. So for those of you who like to hunt your taste buds for comparisons to other foods and lands — the terroir terrorists — you’ll need to look elsewhere.
After drinking a cup my psyche becomes concentrated leading to a narrow focus. Very similar to the psyche offered by a good Sencha or pure Matcha. More so that a standard Genmaicha. This is both good and bad, ala tunnel vision phenomena. Cold sweets and jitters coming from black-darjeelings are usually not present.
Although the Samovar people say you should try using boiling water, which I did (once), I’d avoid the straight from the kettle method. I find letting water cool to around 85º C is best. The marketing material suggests a large range of water temperatures, which I agree with. Genmaicha’s are known for being robust under harsh brewing conditions, the rice acts as a buffer. So this tea is perfect for the bumbling brewer in your house, who can’t be bothered to cool their water.
The matcha powder to rice/leaf ratio changes depending on which area of the bag you spoon your tea from. The powder has a tendency to fall to the bottom since it is fine. This means sometimes there is far to much powder or not enough. Not sure if there’s a fix. The rice does act as a powder carrier, and is itself a vibrant green.
A family elder passed away recently. Today, I drove Mum up to NY so we could attend the wake, an ordeal that was far more emotionally trying than I expected. I took two mugs of Ocean of Wisdom, one for Mum ‘n’ one for me. I so very much appreciate that I just don’t have to think about brewing this because it’s so forgiving. Rushing out and don’t have 7 minutes to spare? Need to grab it and go after just 5? That’s fine. Forgot about it and let it sit and steep for 20 minutes? That’s fine, too. I also really appreciate the quality of my mugs, which kept our tea hot from when I made it at 10:30a through when we finished drinking it on the way back down from NY at 6p.
I hope Samovar warn me if they ever decide to discontinue this blend, so I can buy mountains of it.
Tangent: I see a lot of tasting notes in my feed that say “see previous notes.” I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually gone looking for the previous notes because it’s such a pain in the butt to find them. You know how when you read a tea’s tasting notes, if a person has several, there’s a button that says “show 5 more notes” or something like that? I wish the Steepster folks would copy that code and paste it so it appears on our dashboards. That way, when I’m reading my feed and someone tells me to check out their previous tasting notes, I can actually do that because the button is right there. [/end rant] No, I haven’t suggested this to them. The last time I suggested something they basically said yeah, thanks, that’s not going to happen. They stopped just short of outright saying that they’re not interested in suggestions for improvements or new features, just critical bug reports and duplicate entry reports. So I won’t be sending them more suggestions, just sharing potentially interesting ideas with you. =)
Yesterday, I drove home to NYC to spend the day with framily. It’s a 1.5- to 2ish-hour drive (depending on traffic), so I prepared by packing two water bottles (one still, one fizzy) and two mugs of Ocean of Wisdom. I was actually in the mood to try something different, but was plagued by doubts: what if something didn’t agree with me and I was far from home? Better to play it safe, and my safety blanket tea is definitely this one.
I enjoyed half of the second-steep mug on my way up, which was mostly a strong clove-and-ginger brew. This time, I sliced some fresh ginger into my infuser, so it is from there that the strong ginger bite came. Upon reaching New York, I parked the car and went to meet my friend, leaving my beverages in the car.
I returned to the car at around midnight. By this time, my tea had been exposed to 45F/7.2C temperature for about 13-14 hours. I have never had this blend cold before, so I was a little hesitant to try it. I decided to finish my half-drunk mug, first; the tea was cool (not cold) and was actually quite good! The ginger felt especially lovely in my throat, which had experienced more talking and laughter in several hours than it generally does in a month.
The tea in the second, as yet untouched mug was tepid. Finally, I found a shortcoming (ha! if one can call this that) of this perfect tea: it’s best when hot, good when cold, but “meh” when lukewarm. This is understandable; I can’t think of many (any?) things that are actually good when lukewarm. I had a bit of it and put it away in favour of my fizzy water. I figured I’d just wait for it to get cold and then drink it.
Aside: Have I mentioned, lately, just how much I love my mug? 13 hours in perfect autumn weather, and still the coldest the tea got was “cool.”
Another aside: You know how I’ve been looking for a smaller, spill-proof mug because my 16oz/~475mL ones are just too big for tea tasting/drinking at home? I finally found one! Not on Amazon, not at Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond, but at my supermarket, of all places! I’m so thrilled, I can’t wait to make my next cup of tea. =)
Lance drank this one tonight, the liquid was thin but really dark brown and the aroma was very Smokey and smelled up the entire living room. Lance said it was one of the best out of the Lapsang Souchongs that he’s had, said it was very smooth with no astringency and was very Smokey but not as strong or bold as he prefers and that the aftertaste was like coals of an old dead campfire. He got 2 good steeps from it, I tried to get a third steep from it but it was very light brown and just tasted like Smokey water.
Today, I chai’d this up. Did you know you could chai this up? I didn’t, but that’s never stopped me before. =)
Honestly, I’m not sure Ocean of Wisdom can do any wrong. It is such a forgiving blend, and apparently you can do whatever you want with it and it’ll remain delicious. I did my usual: boiled water, sugar and tea (since it’s rooibos, I like to maximise steep time and don’t bother waiting ‘til the water’s boiling), then added (vanilla soy) milk and let it bubble, bubble, bubble for a while.
By the gods, I love this stuff1. Yesterday, I had to collect Mum from JFK at around 7:30 in the morning. That’s around the time I usually go to sleep, so I ended up staying up the night before, afraid I’d sleep through. So there I am, 4:30 in the morning, slightly bleary-eyed and more than slightly frazzled, packing a bottle of water and a fuzzy throw for Mum. All that remained was the tea.
Once upon a time, I had only one loose tea—Ocean of Wisdom—and that’s the tea I would’ve made and taken with me. Now I have so many loose teas to consider, so many yummy (and untried) options, and the very thought of having to guess (at that hour) what Mum might like and what I should try was doing my head in, so I ended up selecting the same one: Ocean of Wisdom. It’s just so good. And the fragrance is just so heavenly.
This note, though, is about the second infusion I prepared when I got home. I have to admit that I rarely bother with second steeps, never mind multiple ones. I’d be a horrible oolong taster, given that many times, the best flavour of an oolong emerges in the third steep (and beyond). That said, I gave the second steep a try because this tea can get really expensive, compared to the others in my cupboard: my 4.4oz packet was USD$19, and Samovar recommend using 2-3 tbsp per 16oz/473mL. That’s only about 8 servings! Since it’s rooibos (and therefore naturally caffeine-free) and my favourite blend, I could go through that in a couple of days. Eep! So I was thinking I’d try and stretch it out a bit by steeping again or using less tea next time.
Anyway. The interesting thing about this is that the second steep is a completely different tea. Gone was the warm, sweet, woodsy rooibos flavour I love, and I couldn’t detect most of the other ingredients, either. Really, it just tasted like cloves and ginger. And it was awesome. It was this potent, spicy brew that felt so great hitting my throat, which is a bit vexed with me for taking it to the petri dish we call an airport. I was really surprised by the level of gingery spice, a level that I hope for in my ginger tea blends but rarely get. (To be clear, it’s surprising because the first steep isn’t at all piquant.) The second steep is also slightly astringent, but only on occasion, not throughout the cup.
From now on, this will be a two-steep tea for me.
Tea amount: 2.5 tbsp
Water amount: 16oz/~475mL
Additives: 2 tsp demerara sugar
Dry mouth factor: 4/10 (second steep only, first steep is 1/10)
The tea is background to the brightness of orange peel and crisp/dryness of grapefruit peel. If you don’t like strong bergamot, you most likely won’t like the strong citrus flavours, but hey never say never. I think this is interesting enough to try a sample. I would pair this with a fish course, maybe even raw fish like tuna sashimi. Any ideas how to infuse tea into a sauce ( say, a mushroom sauce)?
I bought this sample a while back as part of the experiment described here:
which I extended from rooibos to honeybush.
This sample has been following me to the point where I considered a restraining order. Every drawer I put it in, it manages to float to the top (in that uncanny way that tampons seem to float to the top of any handbag, so that when you open it up in the grocery line to get your wallet, it’s the first thing the attractive man next to you in line sees, amIright ladies?). If I put it in a cabinet, it falls out when I open the door. The only reason I didn’t dig a hole in the back yard to bury it in was because I feared a zombie version would rise from the grave and eat my brains while I slept. (Just kidding. I would never put any sort of tea in a hole in the backyard.) I decided to drink it to put an end to the madness. ;-)
The dry honeybush smells quite woody to me and in fact I can’t really make out anything but wood. Brewing, however, released a lovely honey smell that pretty much extinguished the wood. I got a cloudy, red brown liquor reminiscent of apple cider.
I was prepared to say I wouldn’t drink this again before I tried it, simply because I can think of so many other things I’d rather drink than plain honeybush, even if it is from Samovar. Now, though, I’m not so sure. As the description says, its absurdly smooth, and I can see this as a balm to a sore throat on a miserable rainy stay at home sick day, or a kind stroke to the mouth after a bad visit to the dentist. I do get cedar notes, though not in a sawdust, hamster cage way. More like the smell of a sweater after it has spent the summer in my cedar chest. And something I’m getting that isn’t even mentioned in the description is a nutty flavor, almost like a roasted chestnut aftertaste. It has a sweet little upswing to it, but not a strong taste of honey. There’s a slight earthy/metallic note which I suppose is what they mean by gravel that is evident in the aftertaste, and something that is somewhere between green and wood. It’s surprisingly complex for something I bought to better understand the flavor as a base for blends.
While at the rate I’m going I have enough tea to last me until I’m 100, I wouldn’t turn this down if offered. I can’t justify buying any, but mostly because I can’t justify buying ANY tea. I just spent the morning rearranging the tea that isn’t in cupboards in my kitchen or eight small shoe-box size plastic containers into tubs like this:
Four of them. Insanity. Just insanity.
Goes well with Hendricks but probably have to cold brew it. Use minimal ice.
I accidentally let this steep for 10 minutes because I forgot about it. I figured it would be ruined but it’s still good! It got a bit more buttery and a tad more bitter than I remember, but I still like it. yum!
This is my chosen gong fu tea of the day. I got this sample from Amy Oh… thanks! This is my first tea from Samovar, which is a tea company I’ve always wanted to try. I have enjoyed the bao zhongs I’ve had before, but I’ve never had one gong fu.
There isn’t much info about this tea online because it is not on Samovar’s websites, so I used approximate brewing parameters from Naivetea for their bao zhong. I also didn’t rinse this one. In the first steep, 30 seconds, I definitely smell buttery asparagus notes, which are really the main fragrance here. It is definitely sweet, fresh, spring asparagus like we’re getting now. The flavor, though is first sweet and fruity (one of Amy’s posts said there are supposed to be notes of mango in here, and I can see it), then followed by some spring vegetables. Really, really lovely.
Second steep (45 seconds) is much greener in color, and it smells more buttery. But the taste is kind of meh? Not exciting. Same with the third. Same thing as has been happening with most of the oolongs I try to steep gong fu. I dunno, I think maybe I am increasing my steep time too fast? Maybe I should stick with similar timed steeps for the first few at least? I mean, the third steep isn’t bad but it’s nothing to write home about. Why do I get great first steeps and then mediocre steeps for the rest of them in seemingly all the oolongs I try to steep gong fu? Especially when I’ve read so many times that people think the second steep is often the best. Not for me. Gotta figure this out.
A hotter, short fourth steep (boiling, 20 seconds) hints at the notes of the first steep, but they are weaker. An improvement over the second and third, though.
Rating this one on the delicious first steep, which was delightful. Thanks for sharing this with me, Amy!