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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 25 of 2016 (no. 236 total). The rest of the sample. And thus endeth the foray into the Sanctuary T samples.
There is a difference with less leaf. I prepared the tea in the gaiwan the same as last time, but this time there’s not as much underlying tea flavor. It’s really all about the jasmine.
Since I like jasmine, that’s not really a problem. Well, it is and it isn’t. I think I’m discovering that I liked green jasmine the best of all jasmines, and oolong may be next in line. White jasmines are good for the jasmine aspect, but I still have a love/hate thing going on with white tea in general. Mostly I don’t feel that I understand it very well.
I’d definitely go the more leaf route next time I have a jasmine silver needle. More oomph, to the extent that white teas have oomph, or at least more of a blended flavor of jasmine and something else.
I put a portion of the sample, about 5 g, into a 100ml gaiwan and steeped for two minutes. I still have about 2.5g of the sample left, so I can try it again with less leaf.
All I really smell in the dry leaf is jasmine. The leaves are lovely, silvery and long. After steeping, the aroma is jasmine +, but I’m having trouble identifying what the plus is. The liquor is a light apricot color.
The flavor is also jasmine plus. I’m thinking it’s nectar I’m tasting, Something mild and sweet in any case. There’s a tiny touch of bitterness, like bamboo maybe.
It’s more flavorful than some of my other silver needle ventures, and not just because of the jasmine. Rating it compared to my other silver needle experiences, though the rating doesn’t reflect it’s overall appeal to me as a tea, which is less.
Flavors: Bamboo, Jasmine, Nectar
Sipdown no. 19 of 2016 (no. 230 total). The fourth sample in the pure tea sampler.
I haven’t had that many gyokuros. They sort of intimidate me because they’re so delicate and expensive, and because they have such individuated preparation instructions. I’m not entirely sure I did this correctly as there were not instructions included with my sample, but I got the water temperature and steeping time instructions from the internet, and I steeped it in the gaiwan since it seems you’re supposed to watch the leaves unfurl. The main parameter I’m not sure about is the ratio of tea to water. I used the entire sample, which was about 6.5 grams, in 100ml. The instructions I’d read on the internet said you could do 1-2 grams per 30ml, so I think this worked out about right. I steeped uncovered.
But gee, I expected to see that neon green radioactive color I’d seen with other gyokuros and I didn’t get that at all. I just got a generic yellow green tea color. The aroma is sweetly vegetal as I expected, and the flavor is similar to the aroma.
Frankly, though, the flavor I’m getting isn’t all that different from what I get from sencha. I wonder whether it’s the age of the tea that’s the issue, or whether I just didn’t make it correctly. I will say that the last sip, after becoming quite cool, had a distinct seaweedy flavor that I am guessing is umami.
Not sure how to rate this so I’m not going to.
Flavors: Seaweed, Vegetal
Sipdown no. 15 of 2016 (no. 226 total). The last of the green tea sampler.
The dry leaves looked like the gunpowder of yesterday with some mint leaves among them and smelled quite minty. The steeped tea is a clear golden yellow and smells minty and grassy. It actually has a pretty interesting note, like very fresh water from a glacier or stream. I think that’s the mint at work as well.
It’s a nice Moroccan mint tea, refreshing, light and tasty. Good on a throat that isn’t yet back to where it should be.
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Mint, Vegetal
Sipdown no. 14 of 2016 (225 total). A sample, the second to last of the samples in the green tea sampler.
This is an interesting putty-green color in the packet, with some rolled leaves and some that are less rolled. It smells vaguely smokey before steeping, and after steeping it has an interesting aroma. Slight butter and vegetal, with a smokey, woodsy edge. The liquor is a rich liquid butter yellow and clear.
I have a bit of a sore throat today, and this is gentle and soothing to the throat. It’s a mellow tea, not sweet, but not bitter, with a richness to it that goes deeper than a lighter vegetal green. The smokey, woodsy edge does come through in the flavor, but it is somewhat subtle. It’s really a great tea for me today; it’s pushing all my yum buttons.
P.S. Steepster thinks I’ve rated 599 teas. This isn’t true. I will be celebrating 600 soon, but in three more teas than Steepster thinks, because I have two teas in my log I have never tasted and can’t figure out how to remove. And I have a joke entry for “wine” which is what I was drinking one year on my birthday.
Flavors: Butter, Smoke, Vegetal, Wood
Sipdown no. 13 of 2016 (no. 224 total). Another green tea sampler sample.
In the packet it smells like, I kid you not, latex paint. Fortunately, it doesn’t smell like that once steeped. There’s an orangey or really a more generally citrussy note and a butter yellow, clear liquor.
The flavor is strange. It’s not really tangerine tasting to me, though I know what about it is supposed to taste like that and I suppose there is a sort of flavor to it that is a very subtle version of a orange flavored chewing gum flavor. Which is, at least, preferable to baby aspirin, which is another thing that orange flavor often evokes.
It’s not bad tasting, it’s just that I really love tangerines and had high hopes for a tangerine flavored tea (the only other one I remember having was an Adagio that wasn’t to my taste either). This one is sort of an off-orange flavor and didn’t meet my expectations.
Sipdown no. 18 of 2016 (no. 229 total).
I tried this at a lower temperature today, 195F, in the gaiwan using my usual 15 seconds first steep with an additional 5 seconds for each subsequent one. It makes a subtle difference in the first steep, bringing out more of the toffee note, which is quite nice. It’s an interesting tea, not what I have come to expect from a tieguanyin, but tasty nevertheless.
The empty cup smells strongly of toffee. Yum.
This is another sample from the pure T sampler, and the first of the Sanctuary T samples I haven’t sipped down in a single serving. It’s about 9g of tea, and that was too much for my gaiwan. So I get more than one shot at this one.
I expected this to be pretty much what I’ve experienced in other tieguanyins from the look of the dry leaves and their green, floral aroma.
But I started with hotter water, and the first steep after rinsing (15 sec) was more like a darker oolong. More of a roasted flavor than a floral/dairy one. The steeped tea does have a strong floral/dairy note, but it’s got a roastiness as well.
So I decided to go cooler for the next steep and see what that did. The water temperature didn’t seem to make much difference in the flavor. So I’m concluding that this is a medium or dark roast tieguanyin, rather than a green.
There’s an interesting toffee-like note to this, particularly in the finish, and once I stopped looking for the green oolong flavor, I could focus on the nuttiness of this one.
I took it through several more steeps, but I’m reserving the rating for now as I’m not sure how to classify this. I’ll think about it more and give it another try before rating.
I spent the morning going through papers that had piled up and have paper cuts on three out of five fingers on my right hand, so my notes are likely to be a bit shorter than usual for the next day or so. Ugh.
Flavors: Almond, Floral, Nutty, Toffee
Sipdown no. 8 of 2016 (no. 229 total). A sample. The second of the green tea sampler from Sanctuary T.
I was delighted to find jasmine pearls among the samples as they are such a favorite of mine. These smell very jasminey in the packet and steep to a very pale, clear yellow that is almost colorless. The jasmine is the primary note in the aroma as one might expect, and the same is true with regard to the flavor. The tea is quite mild in its jasmine-ness as well as in its tea-ness. Not bitter, or otherwise having any off notes. Just not very present, and the jasmine is rather light. It’s actually a good combination to have the jasmine light where the tea is also light. Otherwise you get a pasted on jasmine flavor, which this doesn’t have.
It’s a good jasmine pearls, but I prefer more depth to the underlying tea.
Sipdown no. 7 of 2016 (no. 228 total). A sample.
It has been a while since I had a genmaicha. I like them, when I’m in the mood for them. Since it’s still pretty early in the day, I thought I could risk turning to this one, which has matcha in it, after a couple of black teas this morning without ending up awake at four a.m. We shall see.
It makes a cloudy, yellow liquor that is quite pretty. It looks like liquid lemon drops. The aroma is mostly toasty rice, but with a seaweed/grassy tone as well.
One of the things I like about Genmaicha and also one of the reasons I have to be in the mood for it is that sometimes it can remind me of eating sushi. The green, vegetable, and seaweed tones combined with the rice tones can sometimes remind me of kappa maki (without the soy sauce, wasabi, and the need to chew).
This one gives me a bit of that experience. It’s tasty, not bitter, has quite a lot of toasty rice and is nicely balanced with the grass/seaweed flavor of the tea.
I am not sure I fully understand umami, but I would venture to say this has it.
Flavors: Rice, Seaweed, Toasty
Sipdown no. 220. The second in the Pure Tea Sampler. I hope this one turns out better. I almost steeped it at boiling but at the last minute decided to go with 205. So we’ll see.
It has the black, spidery leaves I associate with Ceylons and an earthy smell to the dry leaf.
The steeped tea is reddish brown and has a light, bready aroma. I didn’t find it moderately strong, as the description says. In fact, I found it rather on the light side, but pleasant in a definition of tea-ness sort of way. It’s got that leafy sweetness to it in the aftertaste that makes me think of how Nestea smells. I can see that this would be good iced. It would taste exactly like what my tastebuds would expect of an iced restaurant tea brewed on site.
Sipdown no. 218. A sample. The last of the Sanctuary T Sanctuary Sampler.
I have been out and about and haven’t had much tea today, and the tea I did have didn’t provide the best of experiences. Ah well. There are days like this.
This one is pretty funky. The dry mix looks like freeze dried apple to me rather than watermelon, not that I’ve ever seen freeze dried watermelon. It smells like dried fruit mix, with a rather appley note.
The steeped tisane has the most amazing color. It really is the color of a watermelon Jolly Rancher! It has a sweet, fruity aroma, though I’m not sure it’s watermelon I’m smelling.
Amazingly, though, in the flavor, I’m tasting watermelon. It’s more apparent as the brew cools down, mostly, I think, because it’s unusual to taste watermelon hot. And it’s not an in-your-face sort of watermelon or a watermelon candy flavor. It’s a subtle, sneaky flavor that seems like it’s going to be just a generic fruity something or other until the aftertaste kicks in, when that fresh, watery sweetness that’s a bit cooling in the mouth shows up.
I don’t think I’ve had a watermelon blend before and it strikes me as a fairly unusual flavor to attempt. Though I don’t know why I think that, especially since searching for watermelon on Steepster brings up a ton of products. I’ve had some Lupicia teas that do cantaloupe and honey dew pretty well. In any case, I’m pretty impressed that this pulls off the watermelon flavor, especially considering that watermelon is only one of several ingredients.
So I’m rating it pretty high because it lives up to its name.
Flavors: Fruity, Melon, Sweet
Sipdown no. 217. This is from the second of three Sanctuary T samplers, the Pure Tea Sampler.
I was looking forward to this given how much I love Yunnans, but I am afraid I screwed up the steeping quite royally.
I decided to steep at a lower temperature (190) than usual given that lately I’ve been having pretty good luck steeping tippy Yunnans that way, but that did not work at all well for this one. Instead of the usual malty sweet flavor, I got a washed out version without any real sweetness to speak of.
Accordingly, I am not going to rate it.
ETA: No. 2 asked to try it and really loved it. So there is that.
Sipdown no. 215. The fourth sample in the Sanctuary Sampler.
Another mixed leaf tea that has me a bit baffled as to how to steep it. This is a green and white tea mix, and I chose to steep it at a slightly higher temperature than I usually do for greens but at the same duration because I don’t want to spoil it by having it turn bitter.
In the packet it smelled fruity (it’s a passion fruit flavored tea). The green leaves look like sencha and the white leaves… hmmm… not sure. Probably white peony, but the leaves are pretty dark so it is hard to tell.
It’s a light amber colored tea with some of the sencha floaters I always get with the Breville but otherwise a clear liquor. It mostly smells of passion fruit, but in a good way. Not a fakey or overpowering fragrance.
Interesting. The flavor is very similar to the Geisha Beauty of yesterday (a black/green blend with peach flavoring). The main difference is in the fruit flavoring. To my taste buds, this passion fruit is better than that peach was. It’s subtle and fresh tasting, and though it isn’t quite juicy, it’s got a sweetness to it that is reminiscent of the fruit itself.
Therefore, I’m rating it a bit higher than the Geisha Beauty. But in a similar vein, this isn’t the sort of thing I usually drink. I find mixed teas with different steeping times and temps pretty intimidating unless they come with very detailed instructions for getting the best possible result, and I can’t see myself choosing a mixed tea given other choices that I have a certain degree of steeping confidence with.
Still, it’s tasty, and if you have the daring for this type of thing and like passion fruit you might want to give it a try.
Flavors: Passion Fruits, Sweet
Sipdown no. 213. The third sample in the Sanctuary Sampler.
One thing I will say about Sanctuary T’s teas: they’re visually interesting. This one had what looked like red peppercorns in it. It smelled a little nutty, a little cocoa-y in the packet. After steeping it’s a light orange brown color and I can smell the almonds.
I love pistachios, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had them in tea. I’m also not sure I can taste them distinctly in this tea, but the overall effect is delicious. It’s a spice tea, but it isn’t too spicy and there’s no single spice that is yelling at the top of its lungs, probably because it doesn’t contain cinnamon, clove, or anise, all of which have a tendency to do that. As the tea cools, I can smell and taste the cumin and the coriander, which is pretty interesting. Cumin could have the yelling at the top of its lungs tendency but it’s quiet and enjoyable here.
There’s a softness to the mouthfeel, and a pleasant nutty-sweet aftertaste.It’s really good. But like the Geisha Beauty of yesterday I’m not sure it’s something I’d drink a lot. Flavored teas with this sort of profile lean toward chai for me and I’m not sure how often I’d pick something like this over chai assuming I had the time to make chai. But I could see it happening. Plus, I drank this without additives and it didn’t need them.
Flavors: Almond, Coriander, Nuts, Spices
Sipdown no. 212. The second in the Sanctuary Sampler.
I am always puzzled by how to steep teas that mix different types of tea with different steeping temperatures and lengths. This is a black/green blend. I’m going just a tad hotter than usual for green, 180F, and the same length of time in the hopes that this doesn’t get bitter.
It smells very peachy in the sample packet. The leaves look sencha-esque. The tea is a light amber color and has some floaters in it, which I often find the case to be with sencha. Something about it manages to evade the Breville filter. It smells very peachy, with a vanilla edge. Given the ingredient list I would have expected some rose, but I don’t smell rose.
The tea is very pleasant tasting. There’s a sugary sweetness to it, as well as a peach/vanilla flavor. It’s not bitter at all at this temp. I don’t taste a lot of tea, but what I do taste is mostly the green, probably because I steeped at a low temperature and for a short time.
As flavored tea mixes go, this is a good one. I’m unlikely to purchase it in quantity simply because this isn’t the sort of thing I usually find myself wanting to drink, but that’s not a reflection of the tea’s flavor or quality.
Flavors: Peach, Sugar, Vanilla
Sipdown no. 211. A sample.
I have three sets of samples from Sanctuary T and I have absolutely no memory of how I got them. I found them when I was doing the quasi-inventory of my stash. This is from something called the Sanctuary Sampler, which contains four other items: a fruit blend, a black flavored tea, and two tea mixes (one black and green with peach flavoring and one white and green with passionfruit flavoring). Should be interesting.
I had planned to have this one a bit earlier, but I settled in to watch Star Wars IV with the kids and didn’t feel like making it. Now I find myself with a touch of insomnia, and thought I’d make some of this and see if the combination of drinking it and reading will make me serene enough to go to sleep.
Its a visually attractive blend, with more color to it than the picture indicates. Yes, there is a fair amount of lemongrass creating a boxy geometry, but there are also some flowers. Chamomile, which I can smell. And I would have thought rose, except rose isn’t on the list of ingredients. It smells rosy to me, though, and there’s something pink in the mix. Perhaps it is the lavender? In any case, I like the gentle floral smell mixed with the lemongrass scent.
It makes an amber colored liquor that smells mostly of chamomile. The flavor is a fairly sweet, fairly unobtrusive mix of chamomile and other floral. Mostly lavender. There’s a fresh note that is probably the peppermint.
It’s very nice. The chamomile isn’t at all straw-like, and none of the flavors overpower the others. I’m not sure whether I’d pick this over Harney’s Yellow and Blue. The main difference is the peppermint, but I remember the Yellow and Blue being a bit creamier in its chamomile, too. It’s hard to say given that it has been a while since I had the Yellow and Blue.
Flavors: Floral, Peppermint
Dry honeybush roots have a naturally reddish-brown, woody look. However, I was surprised at how dark Sanctuary T’s Chocolate Honeybush appeared in the sample bag. Maybe the chocolate bits enhance the brown tones a little more. The dark background also allows the pink rose petal specks to stand out visually.
Now, considering this drink’s name, guess which smell delighted this tea and chocolate lover as soon as she opened the bag? Ohhhhhhhhhh yes! It’s not a sugary chocolate scent, though. Instead, It’s more like cocoa, raw and slightly nutty. The wood and honey notes from the honeybush also bloom through, giving this blend a warm and unique sultriness. I can’t detect much of a rose scent… but let’s see what happens when I make my brew.
For my first cup of Chocolate Honeybush, I steep about 1.5 teaspoons in 8 ounces of nearly boiling water for 5 minutes. (I prefer to make my herbal teas with water of 195 degrees Fahrenheit [90 degrees Celcius] instead of 208.) The vibrant reddish-brown infusion is gorgeous and tantalizing, especially with the wood and cocoa notes whispering at my nose. Flavor-wise, this tisane offers equal amounts of cocoa and honeybush, followed by a delightful bittersweet finish. The cocoa complements the wood tones surprisingly well and gets an unexpected boost from the roots’ natural sweetness. I still don’t smell or taste much from the roses, but the lack of either doesn’t detract from the drink.
I’m curious whether a longer brewing time enhances the chocolate flavor, as Sanctuary T suggests. So, I steep a second cup of Chocolate Honeybush for over 6 minutes. The liquor takes on a deeper brown hue; and while the cocoa overtones have strengthened, they don’t overpower the honeybush at all. The two flavors are still evenly balanced – a sort of tea equilibrium. (If “tea-quilibrium” wasn’t a word before, it is now!) I admit that my tongue misses the typical sugariness and silky texture of chocolate. Then again, if Chocolate Honeybush actually was sugary-sweet and silky, it wouldn’t be guilt-free, would it? ;)
Read the full review here: http://bibliophilesreverie.com/2014/11/03/sanctuary-t-chocolate-honeybush-tea/
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Honey, Nutty, Wood
Another interesting looking blend in my cup this morning. With such a large ingredients list I have no idea what this will taste like.
The mixture whilst loose smells floral with a touch of sweetness. Once steeped the tea is amber in colour with a nutty, floral, slight ricey smell.
Sweet, ricey, floral, buttery…and some strange chemical vodka taste. Bleugh that strange chemical taste is increasing in strength and making it foul.
I can’t finish this so I’m throwing it away and making something else.
Backlogging and based on memory
Experience buying from Sanctuary T http://steepster.com/places/2940-sanctuary-t-online-new-york-new-york?visit=1642
I bought two ounces of this at the end of 2011. I brewed it up not long after (it may have only been once).
I liked everything about this tea: the dry leaf, the aroma, the flavor.
I’m not certain, but I think I brewed this up as I do any green tea.
The only other thing I have to say about this tea at the moment is that they advertize it as a “Korean” green tea, but the leaves look like green tea leaves intermingled with black ones (I can somewhat see it when its dry, but it was obvious when I did my wet leaf analysis). They don’t mention anything in their description of this tea about black tea leaves (unless calling it FOP means it contains black tea leaves, and I don’t think that’s the case). I really can’t believe that the dark brown leaves that stand in stark contrast against the dark green leaves are non-oxidized leaves as well. It just ain’t so. I have a green tea blend from Teavana (Golden Jade) and this “Korean” tea looks a lot like it (that’s not bad, mind you, as the Golden Jade is a quality green/black blended tea). All of those “observations” (along with other things I mention in my company review of SanctuaryT) makes me question whether or not this is truly a Korean green tea. It’s good, but it’s got oxidized leaves mixed in with the green ones, or I’m a rhino. So, although they advertize it as Korean, I don’t know that it really is. AND, if it’s a blend then tell me it’s a blend. There, I’ve said my peace.
My first “Korean” green tea, so no rating.