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Recent Tasting Notes

86

Yesterday, I finally finished my sipdown of the exquisite No. 9 Yunnan Full Leaf Black Tea from Steven Smith Teamaker. That tidbit has no real bearing on the present review, but I felt like sharing that nonetheless. Possibly due to my recent drinking preferences, I decided to keep the Steven Smith train rolling. This morning I cracked open the Keemun.

The dry leaves show a jet black prior to infusion and produce delicate aromas of toast, smoke, leather, molasses, and tobacco. After infusion, the resulting liquor is a dark, coppery amber and offers aromas of caramel, molasses, leather, toast, wildflower honey, tobacco, pipe smoke, and grain. In the mouth, I am picking up rather well-integrated notes of wildflower honey, leather, grain, toast, tobacco, smoke, caramel, molasses, and especially leather. The finish is surprisingly smooth and a bit rich, playing up notes of leather, molasses, toast, tobacco, and smoke.

All in all, I like this tea. Keemun has never really been one of my primary things (I really enjoy it, but I don’t tend to have it very often), but this one is approachable and well-rounded. Most importantly, it displays just enough complexity for me to savor. Still, I am grading somewhat cautiously because I still cannot really see myself reaching for this one very frequently. As a change of pace though, this is quite good.

Flavors: Caramel, Grain, Honey, Leather, Molasses, Smoke, Toast, Tobacco

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93

Prior to last night, it had been quite awhile since I had enjoyed a Yunnan tea. I used to adore them when I was younger, and not being in the mood to continue my Earl Grey and Darjeeling binge, I decided to crack open this container of Yunnan. I needed the change of pace, and as it turned out, this was exactly what I had been missing for years.

Prior to infusion the dry tea leaves showed a mixture of dark green and black with pretty gold tips. The aroma was a mixture of must, leather, and cocoa powder with just a hint of an almost mildewy, grassy aroma. After proper steeping, the liquor showed a beautiful dark amber with an aroma of caramel, malt, leather, must, cocoa, and grass.

In the mouth, I detected distinct notes of cocoa, caramel, molasses, tobacco, leather, malt, must, wood, grass, wildflower honey, and slight floral, herbal notes (perhaps similar to a mixture of anise, licorice, and ginseng, but I could not quite put my finger on it). This tea was distinctly smooth and rich in texture with a satisfying body and a finish of cocoa, caramel, malt, honey, leather, and wood.

Overall, I was very impressed with this tea. It reminded me of why I used to love Yunnan black teas so much and how much more frequently I need to revisit them. I think fans of Chinese black teas will be satisfied and perhaps even pleasantly surprised with this one.

Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Herbs, Honey, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Musty, Tobacco, Wood

Teatotaler

Steven Smith has some amazing tea. No. 9 Yunnan is definitely on my wish list!

eastkyteaguy

Obviously my review is evidence to the fact that I think this is a really good tea, but I really stand by my judgment of this one. I spent a lot of time playing around with steeping methods and temperatures, and I got fairly consistent results across the board. For the record, I think I settled on a Western one step infusion at a temperature of 208 F and Steven Smith’s recommended steep time of 5 minutes, but this is one of those teas that really seems to stand up no matter how you prepare it.

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83

It looks like I’m getting to this one first. So, Steven Smith Teamaker has recently been including oolongs and pu-erh in the lineup. It also looks as if this vendor has introduced a new white tea too. Anyway, right now Steven Smith’s oolong and pu-erh selection is limited. It seems as if this one is the only pu-erh currently available.

In the glass, the liquor is an extremely dark brown. Aromas of sauteed mushrooms, wet leaves, wet wood, moist earth, wet hay, and forest floor are evident. Notes of mushroom, hay, straw, wood, wet leaves, and moist earth are most evident in the mouth, though they are balanced by traces of roasted nuts, malt, toast, and dark chocolate.

All in all, this is an earthy, woody pu-erh that I rather like. It is definitely not an everyday tea in my opinion, nor is it the most complex pu-erh I have tried, but it is still quite good. Hopefully, this tea will go over well and Steven Smith Teamaker will introduce more pu-erh teas in the future.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Forest Floor, Hay, Malt, Mushrooms, Musty, Roasted nuts, Straw, Toast, Wet Earth, Wet Wood

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91

So far, I have been experiencing an absolutely miserable weekend. The last couple days at work have been brutal in all kinds of ways, I’m prematurely feeling the pressure of an upcoming career change, I’ve been helping my parents deal with a sick goat, I’m behind on housework, and I’m in the early stages of what is looking to be an awful sinus infection. Still, I’m pushing on and distracting myself with more pleasant things. Right now, I’m typing this review. That is much more pleasant than focusing on sinus pressure. Last night, my pleasant distraction was the long-awaited sipdown of this tea.

In the glass, this tea is interesting, as to my eyes it appears to be a little more yellow than green. On the nose, I get mild aromas of wet grass, hay, straw, bamboo, and melon. In the mouth, this tea is very light-bodied, offering lovely notes of wet grass, hay, straw, bamboo, melon (not quite cantaloupe and not quite honeydew, almost like a bit of both), cream, and vegetables (I’m picking up asparagus, green beans, and garden peas). The finish is mild, clean, and soothing, with lingering traces of vegetables, cream, grass, hay, and straw.

In the end, I really liked this tea and do not understand the low reviews on this site. This is a very simple, clean, elegant, straight-forward green tea that rewards repeat visits. It is perfect for a cool evening or a sunny afternoon. It may not be the most complex green tea in the world, but its easy-drinking approachability and nice separation of flavors are really admirable.

Flavors: Asparagus, Bamboo, Cantaloupe, Cream, Garden Peas, Grass, Green Beans, Hay, Honeydew, Straw

mrmopar

You have a full plate going on my friend!

eastkyteaguy

No kidding. At least the tea helped break up some of the sinus crud.

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84

Lately, I have been going out of my way to try more Ceylon teas. Until very recently, the only Ceylon teas I was familiar with were the readily available Orange Ceylon Pekoes from major commercial tea brands, teas I find to be very basic-in other words, somewhat bland and boring. From my previous encounters with these Pekoes, I came to the conclusion that Ceylon tea did not really have much to offer me aside from a quick pick me up when I needed or wanted a tea I didn’t really have to spend much time analyzing. I have recently, however, come to the conclusion that this assumption is unfair, and in order to rectify my own ignorance, have been greedily snapping up Ceylon teas that are unfamiliar to me. This is one of the more recent additions to my growing collection of caffeinated Sri Lankan goodness.

In the glass, the tea shows a deep, clear orange. Aromas of brown toast, caramel, and malt mingle with mild earthy, floral, and citrusy scents. In the mouth, the tea starts off with a nice maltiness accompanied by gentle notes of earth, caramel, and brown toast. Around mid-palate, notes of wildflower honey, lemon rind, and lime zest become more apparent. The finish similarly flits from bready, malty, and earthy to tart, floral, and citrusy before a wash of not entirely unpleasant bitterness and astringency is left in the mouth.

Honestly, this tea is rather difficult for me to rate, as I have little with which to compare it. Still, I do find it to be very appealing in its way. Compared to the more readily available Ceylon teas, this one is lively, bright, floral, and citrusy with a nice balance of earthiness and maltiness. The bitterness and astringency I find to be so typical of Ceylon teas is also not quite as pronounced and distracting in this tea. In the end, I would comfortably recommend it to fans of no frills South Asian black teas who are looking for a little more complexity without venturing too far outside of their comfort zone.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Brown Toast, Caramel, Citrusy, Earth, Floral, Honey, Lemon, Lime, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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90

I ended up with a sachet of this as a free sample with my most recent order. Normally, I tend to avoid herbal teas. It is not that I truly dislike them so much as I just do not go out of my way to buy them all that often. Still, since last night was unseasonably cold and windy, and quite frankly, I felt like utter crap, I decided that maybe a cup of peppermint tea would not be a bad thing.

The tea shows a yellowish green in the glass. The first thing I noticed on the nose was the exceptionally pure, clean smell of peppermint. It’s an unmistakable aroma and one that is extremely pleasant and soothing. In the mouth, I immediately detected clean peppermint notes. Around mid-palate, I picked up some mild grassy notes and a little bit of cream. The finish was clean, smooth, and mild with a soothing mixture of peppermint, grass, and cream.

Honestly, I do not understand the relatively low score for this tea. It’s true that it isn’t the most complex tea in the world, but then again, what peppermint tea is? This tea does exactly what it’s supposed to do: deliver the aroma and taste of fresh peppermint. Compared to so many other readily available peppermint teas, this one is clean and smooth with no muddiness or off flavors. What more can one really ask for from a product of this type?

Flavors: Creamy, Grass, Peppermint, Smooth

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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83

Thanks for this one from your sale, Ost! This is definitely a unique blend that I really wanted to try. I wouldn’t say it tastes exactly like ice cream, but there is certainly something delicious about it. I just wish the flavors were more pronounced. The oolong itself is definitely of the creamy/milky variety. The oolong becomes more noticeable with more steeps but it never gets too powerful. Probably because there are so many other goodies in the blend. The sarsparilla is the most noticeable. But like I said, I wish the other ingredients would have made more of a presence. (Like the sea salt! or the almonds! or the vanilla! or the jasmine!) But this was stored in a thin baggie, so maybe that is what happened to it. I should mention that anyway. I wouldn’t say no to a cup of this though. I’ll try stronger parameters next time.
Steep #1 // 10 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 6 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 2 1/2 minute steep

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86
drank Bungalow by Steven Smith Teamaker
1538 tasting notes

I love the weekend. When I want a pot of tea and a few little tea biscuits in the afternoon, why then I can brew a pot and bring out the cookies!
So I decided to brew this up, as its been in my cupboard for a while, but untasted. And now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long, as its lovely. Its rich, but with a honeyed smoothness at the bottom, which makes it go down an absolute treat.
Highly recommended.

Teatotaler

Darjeeling perfection! Bungalow is one of my all time favorite, must have, can’t imagine life without teas! It’s become my usual Sunday afternoon pot of tea. I can’t wait! :)

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85

If you like mint, you’ll like this tea. It’s strong without being overpowering, as creamy as the box claims, and leaves you with a fresh feeling in your mouth. I didn’t pick up on the chocolatey notes, but unlike other mint teas that are weak or synthetic tasting, this was strong and pure. I liked it.

Flavors: Creamy, Peppermint

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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60

This tea taught me that I’m not a big fan of flowery teas. The hibiscus taste is, well, big. If that is your thing that you’ll love this tea. It’s sweet and slightly sour, smells like medicine at first, but doesn’t taste that way. It’s complex and I’m sure there are some that would really like it. I could drink this if I had to, but wouldn’t choose to. Just personal preference.

Flavors: Flowers, Hibiscus, Sour, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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I’m officially a sucker for Smith Tea Mint blends. I snagged one of the limited edition (I think?) boxes of this, as I can never say no to their peppermint blends. They’ve made some of my very favorites, which is saying something, as I love mint tea.
First brew up makes me say that this feel “real.” Like it smells like someone has freshly picked some mint and herbs and brewed it in an earthenware pot, and set it down in front of me.
Theres mint, and something sweeter, but also a earthy undertaste, which gives way to a very sweet aftertaste.
I’m glad I’m a sucker, as I like this!

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90

I’m pretty sure this is my favorite Earl Grey tea. So smooth and delicious. Not bitter in the least. Balanced flavors. It’s great.

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100

The best black tea I have ever tasted! Do use boiling water, as the directions suggest - the flavor is radically different (and not as good) if the water isn’t boiling when steeping begins.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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90

An excellent black tea. I prefer Ceylon teas when it comes to black tea, with Assam a close second, and this is a gorgeous blend of both. Perfect on cold days when you want a flavorful cup of hot, strong tea.

Flavors: Malt, Oak wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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100

A local cafe has this on offer and despite all the choices, this one is hard to beat. An absolutely gorgeous green, wonderful hot or cold. In summer they make a lemonade/Arnold Palmer-type drink with this, and it’s fantastic with ice. I’m fortunate that this company is semi-local to me, and intend to visit their brick-and-mortar store as soon as I make a trip out that way.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

Not bad on its own, but even better with honey. I’m personally iffy with chamomile. Since this has a few whole flowers in it, I’m inclined to like it. Chamomile really isn’t hard to mess up anyway as an herbal, but to me, the taste from a whole flower is fuller and thicker. I get that stronger body sensation here. Chamomile, lemon, and the subtler florals dominate with the rose and rooibos more in the background. The rooibos is the herb providing a lot of the tea’s body and color, but it is so similar to the chamomile that it’s hard to notice.

I’d honestly recommend a try and to drink this after long steeps and portions of honey. One of my friends might like this blend for how mellow it is. My mother likes it for this reason herself. Meadow is a name that certainly fits this floral nectar.

Flavors: Flowers, Herbs, Lemon, Smooth, Thick

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70

I found this at my in-law’s house and was interested in trying the herbal team at bedtime. It’s already sweetened with stevia, which I normally can’t stand, but in this case It wasn’t as off-putting to me. I don’t think I’d get a tin of it, but I’d definitely have a cup in the evening.

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82

My daily cup of choice. A bright and strong start to my morning. It becomes more delicate and floral if brewed for a shorter time (closer to 2min). I enjoy it with milk.

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80

Smooth medium-bodied black tea with a dry finish. The fir provided a festive scent and light pleasing taste. I drank it with milk.

Preparation
3 min, 15 sec

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100

Spending this frigid Sunday evening in my warm and cozy Darjeeling Bungalow again. In addition to the usual warm buttered toast, nuts and muscatel grapes set before me on the Bungalow’s table, tonight there’s some nice yummy stone fruit! The Bungalow is a very fine place indeed to while away the hours, especially on a cold winter’s night!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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100

Snow day? Really? Must be nice. I’m a nurse. There is no such thing as a snow day for medical personnel. Blizzard, hurricane, earthquake, nuclear strike, super volcano eruption, asteroid collision, catastrophic reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field, The Apocalypse or any combination there of, we have to go to work!

Richmond, where I live, had almost 16 inches of snow. It’s western suburbs, where my job is located, received over 18 inches of snow in places. Snow sissy that I am, that cold white matter reduced me to a quivering mass of protoplasm. After all, I am a Southern boy.

The day before the blizzard began I booked a room at the hotel within walking distance from my job. The thought of being stuck at work all weekend unable to have any private time whatsoever was a grim and terrifying prospect. Blizzard or not, I needed my me time. Time to unwind, relax and recharge my batteries. Especially since patient acuity on my unit tends to run a little high. So off to the hotel I went with my backpack of essentials including, of course, a mixed box of emergency bagged teas that I had thrown together – Twinings Ceylon Orange Pekoe and English Afternoon, Breakfast in Paris by Stash(Not a bad little tea!), and my must have Honeybush by Numi Tea for beddyby. The hotel, thank goodness, had a tiny hot water maker. Kinda like a stripped mini Keurig. It saw me through the blizzard.

So today, home sweet home! A poignant, almost tearful reunion with my beloved tea stash! Now one would think that after drinking bagged tea since Friday that I would go for a full fledged loose leaf. But no, I wanted my Bungalow! First and foremost I am a Darjeeling fiend. As in Darjeeling is my blood type. I had fairly recently purchased a box of Bungalow whole leaf sachet tea and it was love at first sip. This blend of first and second flush Darjeeling tea is redolent of hot, buttered toast and warm, roasted nuts that tantalize the taste buds. Classic Darjeeling muscatel and mild floral notes round things out very nicely. There is also a faint, but very agreeable, vegetal note that I think must come from the first flush. It complemented my Chicken Biryani quite well! I believe that it would be a great tea to try for those who may be on the fence about Darjeeling. It is very smooth. Not a trace of bitterness after the recommended five minute steeping time. I let the water cool a wee bit to just a little over 205F to steep.

Steven Smith Teamaker did my dear Darjeeling proud with this blend. The buttered toast flavor is so incredibly rich and comforting – A perfect wintertime Darjeeling! I’m definitely buying more if this #%$•@ snow ever melts!

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Muscatel, Roasted nuts, Toast, Vegetal

Rosehips

Oooh, I’m glad you are home with your teas again. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve got it! Your review has inspired me.

Teatotaler

Thank you, Rosehips! I can’t wait for you to try it and see what you think. It really is a wonderful Darjeeling for the winter. Even the name is cozy – A warm, cozy Bungalow! :)

Rosehips

It is a lovely image. I shall break it out soon!

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Beorhthraefn included a tea bag of this in the Secret Pumpkin package. Thank you!

I was skeptical. This has an aroma of butter and heavy cream. OK, I’ll try. This turned out to be one of the worst experiences I’ve had with tea. It didn’t taste anything like oolong or ice cream. Chicken soup. I almost felt nauseated. I couldn’t finish the cup.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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71

This was pretty good— I’m an Earl Grey fan, but sometimes strong bergamot can taste soapy to me. This didn’t taste soapy at all. I added a small bit of french vanilla creamer, and no sweetener; I left it in my mug, which made it a bit bitter.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 7 min, 0 sec

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