Silk Road Teas
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Recent Tasting Notes
My recent, themed overly pretentious posts seem to have not resonated with the Steepster community. Therefore, back to the basics I go.
Black Cloud – what a smooth, only slightly sweet black tea! It is really pleasant. I brewed this particular Steepster Select tea with one of the included tea filters in a standard 8oz mug at 212F for 3 minutes. All standard as indicated by Steepster’s included instructions. The only pain I encounter is when I try to find a place to put my tea bag down in between steeps. Right now I’ve just placed in on top of a napkin-covered leather coaster, and its messy and damp all over.
The first steep offered only glancing insights into the core of the tea. Light chocolatey notes could be heard around the tea, but with a sip, nothing more than a generic sweetness arose. The second steep did little to help unravel the Black Cloud, but the sweetness began to fade. There is little exotic or exciting about Black Cloud from Silk Road Teas, but it is a basic black tea with a tinge of chocolate and a blanket of gentle sweetness.
News! I just got a nice faucet mount filter from Culligan, and it works like a charm. No more ewy, chewy tap water from this 100 year old factory that I live in. And it honestly has improved the quality of my tea-making.
Flavors: Anise, Kettle Corn, White Chocolate
This tea has many subtle aroma and flavors. Like walking in the garden each cup and steep has different flavors. Subtle floral in the first cup and as you walk down the path more honey nectar flavors develop. Very enjoyable tea worth the cost.
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Honey, Nectar
This was one of two samples given out by Silk Road at their fantastic tasting session at the Northwest Tea Festival. This and a Dragonwell sample. I let Mom have the Dragonwell since that is one of her favorite greens and chances are good that with my black balanced palate these days it would just be wasted on me. :)
Hay, malt, dust, scent like smoke in the bag but cocoa once steeped. Lightly sweet. Not as over the top malty as some GM I’ve had. This is a more subtle cup with just a tail end hint of dryness – which could well be due to my Western style steeping. It is priced in the same range as Harney’s GM and even just a tad cheaper. I’m not sure it would replace Harney’s or Teavivre’s but if I were dedicated to getting the free shipping at Silk Road I’d certainly put this on the order!
This one came from my $5 September Steepster Select box. The leaves are thin and wiry and twisty, and their color is a myriad of greens and silvers. Dry scent is a mild and sweet combination of vegetal, grass, and hay scents. I steeped a heaping teaspoon for 2 minutes at 175 degrees.
Once steeped, the liquid smells sweet, creamy, and mildly vegetal. The taste is mild and vegetal, but there’s also a lot of grassiness here as well. It’s almost a bit sharp, which is nice my favorite, however there’s no astringency here. I could do with a little more sweetness. I do enjoy the touch of roasted nut flavor that comes out strongly at the end.
Flavors: Asparagus, Grass, Roasted nuts, Vegetal
I was REALLY hesitant about this tea when I read ‘smokiness’ as a tasting note (I don’t like Lapsang Souchongs, and that’s what came to mind).
But I worried for nothing. The smokiness and the chocolate notes are just that- notes. The tea isn’t overpowered by either, and they play nicely together, fading (but still present) with successive steeps. There’s also an incredibly satisfying earthiness that reminds me of pu-erh.
From the September 2014 select box.
Flavors: Cacao, Earth
Really surprised to find this tea in the Steepster select pack but curiously decided to try it on a busy Thursday afternoon. Firstly the tea has a real chocolate aroma but it smells like they had cacao nearby when they dried it not like artificial flavorings (i hope). Also since it was later in the day and I didn’t want a burst of caffeine I decided to rinse the tea twice and let it open up (hopefully washing some caffeine away). First off there is a mellow chocolate aroma and some notable earthiness. Later as it steeped the chocolate gave way to some astringency and finally to a stronger black tea flavoring. I liked the evolution as it brewed and will try another steep slowly sipping some chocolate along the way.
I was intrigued by the Wu Yi Black Oolong, I really like many Oolongs so I wanted to give it a try. I normally like a little milk and honey in a black tea however this tea stands on its own and needed no adulteration. It has a nice cinnamon and sweet tobacco taste with no discernible astringency. I had a couple of pots in the afternoon and was very happy with the quality.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Sweet, Tobacco
This sample came from Blodeuyn. Yay, another Keemun! :D This is one of those tea categories that I am trying to explore more, as I feel I have neglected it in favor of Yunnan and Fujian teas. This tea has what I would consider to be typical Keemun leaves – they’re thin and small and very dark in color. Whoa, the dry scent hit me over the head when I opened the pouch. This tea smells so mineral and it’s extremely strong, almost to the point of being chemical. There’s a touch of musty hay scent there as well. I must admit, I was scared, so I steeped it for 2.5 minutes instead of 3 and I was very careful to level my teaspoon of leaf…
After steeping, the liquor also smells quite mineral but it’s less extreme. I can also smell bread and malt aromas. Luckily for me, drinking this tea is only a bit like licking a rock. The mineral is definitely the strongest note, but there’s also malt and bread, along with a creamy grain note reminiscent of oats. I get a light peppery taste, especially toward the end. Overall, not my favorite flavor profile, but not bad.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Creamy, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Pepper, Smoke
With the Breville automatic tea maker I can walk into my kitchen first thing in the morning and have it filled with the great smell of Jasmine! Jasmine Silver needle might cost more but it is a good value. Skip the cheap chemical fake flavored jasmine tea and taste the real thing, you will not want to go back.
I got this tea in my first Steepster box! The first steep is very much chocolate, with hints of mineral and wheat. I was actually impressed at the level of chocolate flavor without any added chocolate. Successive steeps are lighter on chocolate, but it’s still present. There are more pronounced notes of wheat/bread and mineral in later steeps.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mineral, Wheat
So I already feel like I’m going to like this tea primarily because peppermint. I may or may not have a 2 pound bag of peppermint tea sitting next to me…
I swear I don’t have a problem.
Moving on, the smell of the unsteeped leaves mostly comes off as peppermint with a bit extra at the end that I can’t quite put my finger on but will most likely round out the tea well. The steeped liquid has that unrecognizable smell much more pronounced that creates a nice warmth of flavor but is cut by the sharp peppermint after…smell? Is after smell a word? It should be.
The taste is very heavily peppermint but more in a refreshing than sharp way and I believe that’s because it has other things than just peppermint that mellow it out. Overall, I like it for its mellow mintyness especially if I don’t want straight peppermint tea which can be overwhelming at times. But definitely not the best tea I’ve had.
Something Different! When you need something different try this one. Very fragrant, makes a great afternoon tea to wake up the senses. I would not drink it as an everyday tea but as something to change up the pace it is great.
Flavors: Berry, Fruity
Golden Jade Oolong (Huang Guan Yin) is a surprise, I am on the third steep and it is still delivering an amazing honey flavor with a brightness I can’t pick a good word to describe. I love teas that do not require any adulteration and this one is good right out of the pot. One note it does lose the brightness once it cools, I often will use the last cup of a pot over ice in the afternoon, it loses something in translation to cold.
Flavors: Honey, Honeydew
Really enjoy the name of this tea in my Steepster Select samples. “Organic Buddhist Tea” has a great ring to it and after opening I was happy to find a very nice bouquet and a little tea dust like matcha. My first steep was a bit too much water and had a savory and vegetal flavor, good color and a slight astringent after taste. A very nice every day tea.
I liked this tea. A nice change from my typical choice in black tea, darjeeling. Its pleasant smoky assertiveness is modified by a rich chocolate scent and taste. I also appreciate the nice alertness it provides in the mornings.
Flavors: Chocolate, Smoked, Wheat
Brewed this Western style this morning, and was pleasantly awakened by the gorgeous aroma and flavor. Just as the other tasting notes mention, chocolate predominates the first steep with light tones of mineral and just a hint of smoke. Second and third steeps have less of the chocolate taste as the other flavors step forward, but the aroma still remains enticing.
Reminiscent of Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, but with more of a mineral edge. Thanks Steepster Select for including this in the September Box.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mineral, Smoke