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Recent Tasting Notes
This was another black tea sample sent to me by a kind steepster. My first round with all these samples was to err on the weaker side in the hopes of avoiding the need for sweetener but that was not to be here. Sugar was needed but the tea was quite enjoyable.
It may be that for my black tea pick-me-up in the morning that sugar or honey stays part of the routine. That’s ok though. Most of the time black tea is a breakfast thing for me.
Flavors: Malt, Tannin
I’ve never actually seen Camellia Sinensis blossoms included in a tea before, which is somewhat surprising because they add such a wonderful touch to an already unique tea. The flavor is gentle, with a slight kiss of cherry and citrus, and has a slightly sweet undertone. Even when steeped in boiling water this tea doesn’t grow astringent, so those of you who prefer a complete lack of bitterness in your tea will enjoy it immensely.
You can read the full review on my blog:
This is quite different from the Yunnan Chinese breakfast tea I’m accustomed to drinking. The scent is faintly fruity, but the flavor is bold, slightly sweet, with a malty undertone and the barest trace of minerality. Whether I steep it for three minutes or five it doesn’t seem to produce much in the way of astringency and only leaves me with the barest hint of dry mouth. During the summer I prefer teas that lack astringency, so this would make an excellent choice for iced tea—it’s absolutely delicious iced or hot.
You can read the full review on my blog:
What an interesting tea! Some of the leaves have so much of the white fuzz that they look like they come from a variegated plant. They brew into small whole leaves and long fuzzy buds.
The tea itself brews up with the lovely scent of a white tea, but with a silky light toasty flavor. There’s not much else I can say other than it was really pleasant and I got three good brews out of it which I found to be impressive for such a delicate tea.
I love these little tea pebbles. It’s such an unusual gray green color from the licorice powder. The leaves unfurl into very crumpled but whole leaves.
The tea is sweet and mellow with a really silky mouthfeel. There’s a floral herbal note that must be from the ginseng. I’ve avoided ginseng containing teas in the past as they are usually sold as being medicinal which both annoys me and doesn’t bode well for the flavor. After multiple steeping the oolong flavor starts coming out and the licorice and go sing starts to fade.
The leaves of this are long and whole with a slight twist. The color is very dark with a twinge of oxidized copper. The leaves brew up into perfect dark brown leaves around 1.5-2 inches long and the color of the tea is light but very red.
The tea tastes like I imagine cherry wood would taste and it ends dry finish. It’s the only nilgiri that I’ve found so far that I really enjoy hot. It’s flavorful but still has that smoothness that makes me think it would be a great crisp iced tea. I got three good steeps out of this before I was forced to abandon my leaves. I’ve got a jar of this cold brewing in my fridge right now so we’ll see how that turns out.
EDIT: Just drank the cold brew it was very lightly colored for the amount of leaf but excellent. It has a buttery finish now, and the large leaves are perfect for grandpa style.
Flavors: Cherry Wood, Malt
I haven’t purchased any unflavored sencha in awhile so I don’t have much to compare it to other than my less than youthful tin from Ippodo. I had wanted to use up the last of it before I opened this sample, but I got up early this morning and needed a bracing cup of something STAT so this is what I grabbed. I kind of wished I waited since I was in too much of a hurry to really take notes.I remember the leaves being a remarkable deep dark green and it brewing to a color that made me wish that I was using a white cup. It had some astringency, and some vegetal flavors, so pretty much solid sencha. I was in a hurry so after one brewing I threw the rest of the leaves in a mason jar with some water to cold brew in the fridge so it’ll be ready first thing tomorrow. Hopefully I grabbed the right jar and it won’t taste like sauerkraut.
I thought a bit of tropical flavor would be good on yet another rainy day. The tea itself is cheering looking with pops of blue and orange color from the flower petals. The aroma is light like fresh passion fruit, from what I remember anyway, and not the strong artificial smell like most passion fruit flavored juices or candies.
The taste is a bit more ambiguously fruity with some floral flavor and a dry aftertaste. It reminded me more of a scented tea than most fruit flavored ones as it doesn’t have any sweet or tart flavors added. The base is pretty strong and during my second steep it backed off a bit and more of the fruit flavor came out. Both times were pretty delicious. I’m actually suprised I liked this as much as I did as outside of citrus tea I find fruit teas usually disappointing.
I was excited to try this sample as I love grapefruit. Like I’ve been eating about 5 a week for the last few months L-O-V-E. Surprisingly I’ve never thought to look for a grapefruit tea…I’ve just never come across one on my own and probably assumed it wasn’t a popular flavor. I do know a lot of grapefruit haters out there although I don’t know what they have against it now that the markets are saturated with the newer sweeter ruby varieties. Maybe they need to become easy to peel? I saw some white grapefruits a few months ago being sold as “cocktail grapefruits”, they were twice as much per pound than I usually pay so I didn’t get any and of course I have regretted it ever since. Of course they haven’t returned since, but then again the other grapefruits are getting sad now so I guess the season is over…all the better for having this tea then.
This tea is pretty much what I never knew I wanted earl gray to taste like. It has an amazing grapefruit zest flavor. It is spot on what I smell and taste when I peel a grapefruit. There’s no weird artificial flavor, nothing that’s missing, just high bright citrusy goodness with a solid black tea background to hold it together. I got a second steep from this but the black tea was weaker and the citrus note a bit more pithy. Still good though.
This will definitely be able to tide me over in the off season.
Jasmine pearls are one of my favorite types of tea. I like jasmine teas in general but none seem to hold on to the flavor as well as the tightly wound pearls. Plus they aren’t too delicate making them good for travel especially without the need of a scale. So I’m always looking for new ones to try.
This one has slightly larger pearls than most I’ve had. It smells, of course, strongly of jasmine. The pearls unfurl to the first few leaves and the tip. The first steeping is lovely, full of jasmine, but not overwhelming or bad like purfume. The next steep was still flavorful and the one after that…and after that
I’m going to have to make room for more of this one.
This is a pretty tea with twisted leaves in a variety of dark chocolate and copper colors as well as some silvery buds.
I’ve gone through 3 steepings of this tonight which was probably a bit much but it’s a really solid tea. I probably should have took notes as I went along since I’ve been drinking it over the past four hours including all through dinner. From what I recall it was light with malty and floral notes. There’s also a bit of tannic dryness at the end.
Sip down! This was only a sample but I’m just glad to somewhat be making a dent in my stash before I move. God forbid I end up with a smaller storage space.
I had this cold brewed in a mason jar. I had to strain it before drinking because some of the leaves were still afloat. The more tea I drink the more I really like whole leaves that don’t require strainers. It’s especially nice with these cold brews. The tea itself is golden colored and now has a dry apricot skin finish. It’s very refreshing and probably the way I would want to brew it is I buy more.
Still unsure if I even like whites….thought I would try this one as it is partially oxidized (hello flavor!). So I’ve scrubbed my ceramic mug and got out my thermometer so at the very least I won’t discount this as negligence on my part.
The leaves are very thin and brittle and not rolled in the least. The most striking thing is the color which is a medley of greens and browns. The leaves are also a variety of sizes from almost entire to small pieces. My ceramic strainer did a good job though so there’s not a lot of tiny pieces which is impressive for how brittle it seems and how unprotected it was in my tiny sample pack. The tea itself is a light yellow with a bit more of a golden tone than I expected of a white.
Well I’m impressed! I definitely know I’m drinking tea and not just scented hot water. And yet it’s definitely its own thing and not just a lighter tasting green tea like I expected. It’s refreshing and a bit melon flavored. At the end it’s even buttery feeling. It’s also without much bitterness or astringency which I don’t usually get from whites but I was expecting as a trade off for you know…flavor.I did a couple of short infusions with this. Judging from the concentrated tea that came out of my strainer I wouldn’t brew this for too long or go with too high of a temp.
Since I liked the black thyolo tea I think I’ll try the pai mu tan from there as well. I’ll also have to use my remaining sample either cold or iced brewed.
When I first reviewed this tea I was a little perplexed because I really enjoyed it….and yet I didn’t really feel like drinking any more. A hour after I posted the review I found out why…caffeine! I assumed it was because I had a couple of teas that day and overdid it. So I waited for a day when I could have this after I woke up. Same thing: headache starting with the second steep then jitters later. I looked up if the tea flowers were adding caffeine but it turns out they only have a little caffeine.
Sorry, behind a paywall. I didn’t get to look at anything but the abstract myself so I don’t know their methods or what they mean by “various teas”.
I even found a site that was selling tea flowers as “the only non-caffeinated tea truely from Camilla sinensis”… Of course later in the same page it also mentions containing “very little caffeine”. Not exactly the same thing :/ But when your selling that much BS I guess it doesn’t matter.
So it’s not the flowers but at 1 bud + leaf it’s a bit tippier than most of the blacks I’m used to. I guess I’ll find out when I branch out more, I guess I’ll be sure when I try a golden tipped tea to take it easy. This one I guess I’ll only be having in moderation.
The dried tea is very pretty thinly rolled leaves with whole Camilla blossoms. It smells very much like a black tea without a noticeable floral aroma. It brewed to a lovely clear red orange color and the leaves opened up a bit into entire young thin leaves.
One of the most noticeable things about this is a spicy, almost peppery, note from the flowers which I’m guessing might be from the pollen. It’s delightful and rather surprising since I was expecting a up front floral perfume flavor like with rose or jasmine. The tea itself is mellow, a little tannic, and leaves a cooling feeling at the end of the sip. It’s good for a few infusions but after the first the spicy flavor fades away and your left with just the good base. I’m thinking I could have got three if I hadn’t bungled my strainer and dumped all the leaves behind the couch :(I can definitely see why the description urges you to avoid putting milk in it at first. I imagine it would wreck the delicate flavors and that would be nothing less than a crime. However, I think it’s probably a bit too refined for my tastes as I can see myself coming back to this occasionally as something refreshingly different but not something I want to keep ahold of all the time.
I realized that I don’t have any unflavored black teas that I drink hot so I’ve been looking to try a greater variety. I thought this Scottish influenced African tea would be interesting (not that I know much about either) so I purchased a sample to try.
The leaves are very dark and almost have a greenish or blue cast to them. There’s a few stems but most of the leaves look like larger pieces. The smell is strong and good, like a fuller PG tips. The leaves expand quite a bit when brewed and turn a ruddy chocolate color.
The tea itself after brewing for five minutes was a very dark orange brown. I was kinda worried at this point that maybe I used too much and ended up with a tannic mess, but it was pleasant with very little astringency at the end of each sip. I can’t quite figure out how to describe the taste only that there is something just a little different about it than other blacks I’ve tried. I drank it too fast to really pin it down. I did rather enjoy it though and think it might become my ‘daily’ black especially as it’s priced the same as many flavored black teas I have with lower quality black bases.
I even got a second western style steeping out of this! It may be because of how much I used to begin with but it was still rather flavorful and surprisingly not bitter or astringent almost like a hei cha, but lighter and only faintly woody.
I love bold everyday teas and I love Japanese greens so getting some bancha was kind of a no brainer. Its leaves are lighter in color than the senchas I have and it brews up to a light green color. The brewed leaves range from small chunks to almost entire large leaves.
It’s taste is savory, grassy, and low in bitterness and astringency. It’s less floral than sencha and seems less caffeinated. I even did a second western style brewing and it’s still good.
This is definitely the type of tea I had while in various small establishments in Japan. It’s good with food and for cutting through sweets. One of my best experiences was being offered a cup of hot bancha with a matcha shaved ice. The contrast was so lovely, perhaps I’ll drink this with some ice cream?
Another sample. My only caffeine free one so my last one for the night. I’ve had lemongrass in other teas but never by itself. I like citrus flavors so I thought I would give it a try. It’s a darker green color than some samples I’ve seen in spice shops. It smells lemony and a little grassy as much as I hate to say that. It has a sort of lemony/yuzu/citronella flavor that’s good but also a little too reminiscent of some cleaners I use.
I don’t see drinking it much on its own unless I have no other caffeine free options. I think it’ll be good to add to other teas though. Maybe I can do something Tazo’s Zen but actually tasting like green tea. I might also try it with hibiscus to add some tartness so it’s more citrusy.
I’ve kind of been hoarding the last of this sample knowing I can’t order more until after the move, but today was cold and I didn’t think I could face going to work without it. So I regretfully brewed the last of it and remembered why I fell so in love with this tea. Nutty. Chocolatey. Dark sugar goodness. I even forgot about the second steep (damn you Dowton Abby!) and it ended up still great and amazingly sweet. I will not be facing another winter without this.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Chestnut, Dark Chocolate
I ordered some samples from single origin and made sure to include this one. I’ve always sort of loved the idea of roasting chestnuts despite never having seen actual chestnuts until I was an adult. Thanks for nothing American chestnut blight! Im glad now I did get it because it has a lot more to offer than fictional nostalgia.
Opening the bag of this and smelling it was strange. It reminds me of like a dark chocolate I once had. Maybe a smoked one? Or one with toasted breadcrumbs? I can’t quite put my finger on it. There is also that toasty sweet smell I recognize from my one (unfortunate) attempt at roasting my own chestnuts.After brewing it has more of a tea smell and is a dark amber color. I noticed the brewed leaves are different colors some being dark like most black teas while others are milk chocolate colored or even greenish. I looked back at the description and apparently this is a black tea produced like an oolong. It certainly lacks much astringency. It tastes much like it smells with the chocolate and toasty nutty chestnut flavor. I’m also getting burnt sugar flavors. Not bad burnt just the sort you get when you carmalize sugar to a dark amber.
All in all a fantastic, unique, and doesn’t require milk or sugar to taste right flavored tea.
Holeee cats – the chili pepper & ginger in this just about knock you out to smell the dry leaf. Without sugar, the pepper is the foremost taste. Definitely a bite. Unfortunately, it kind of consumes the tea which is one of the main reasons I was anxious to get this blend. With sugar and cream it becomes an excellently scented, but moderately spiced chai and the pepper is moderated by the cream. Need to try again with some different parameters before rating.