Steven Smith Teamaker
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Recent Tasting Notes
Tea of the morning here in a pyramid sachet. It’s difficult to believe I am the first person to log this particular blend.
When it comes to ceylons, I am a bit fussy. I’m not a big fan of this (Sorry Steven Smith). The flavor seems kind of muddy and brisk and if I am drinking a plain ceylon, I like them to be more flavorful and fruity. I believe this might be the base for their Lord Bergamot, which I do like. It just doesn’t do a whole lot for me when it’s plain. Perhaps I will try this as an iced tea before I give up on it. I’ve had it a couple of times prior and it’s just a solid “meh” for me.
You have to really love hibiscus to enjoy this tea – the name does not lie, it is certainly big. 1 sachet can make a whole pot of tea in fact. I love hibiscus and Steven Smith brings out the flower’s tart cranberry flavors.
Flavors: Hibiscus, Rosehips
Drinking the last of this sample from Terri. Thanks, again, Terri. This was super tasty. And I followed the instructions to the letter, regarding the playing of opera in the background, while the tea is brewing.
Yesterday’s two cups were accompanied by “Faust” and “La Boheme,” respectively. Today’s cup is accompanied by “Le nozze di Figaro.”
Thanks to Terri HarpLady for this sample! I really enjoyed it.
An excerpt from my full review:
“The aromas of mixed Ceylon and Assam are touched by very gentle citrus. Truly, the smell of this infused tea does not remind me of Earl Grey in my experience. When I start sipping No. 55, the complexity of this not-Earl Grey surprises me. I say it is complex due to the different flavors, which I notice as separate but cohesive. It is at this point that I ‘lose myself’ in thoughts and tea. When my mind returns to the present, half of the mug of tea has been consumed – a sure sign of enjoyment.”
The full review will be available, later today, at CreateWriteDrink.com.
4 oz. Sipdown: I thoroughly enjoyed this caramel-flavored assam. Please see my previous review & its comments for brewing recommendations as appropriate parameters are essential to enjoy it: http://steepster.com/looseTman/posts/259294.
I won’t promptly restock as I’m currently well stocked, there are a few Chinese teas i enjoy more, & there are so many other black & pu’er teas I want to experience!
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Malt
I’m very pleased to present a multi-morning review of No. 49 Assam FTGFOP1 from Steven Smith Teamaker, Western style without sweeteners, milk, or cream.
After placing my order, I saw that boychik cautioned 7 months ago that the recent batch of this tea maybe on the bitter side: http://steepster.com/boychik/posts/211831#comments. I then began to wonder … Does this Assam have a consistent taste profile from year to year? … Should I have blindly ordered 4 oz.?
For best flavor, bring freshly drawn filtered water to a boil. Steep five minutes. A good time to practice the sitar.”
Note: The incomplete instructions do NOT specify how much tea or water. Is one supposed to assume 1 tsp. (level, rounded, heaping?) and a 6 oz. teacup, an 8 oz. cup, or something larger?
Given boychik’s warning and the incomplete brewing instructions, I was now less certain how much I would enjoy this Assam.
Leaf: Thin twisted dark chocolate-brown leaves 1.5 cm long or less with many golden tips.
Fragrance: Rich high-quality pipe tobacco
Liquor: Clear brilliant copper
Aroma: Malt, caramel & sweet potato – ah!
Flavor: Malt, caramel, honey
1 tsp. (2.6 g) / 8 oz. / 212F / 5 min:
Aroma: Robust and malty.
This is a smooth, rich, malty and satisfying Assam. However, the malty flavor overshadowed any hint of caramel and there was woodiness at the end of the sip.
Having not yet achieved the same results as LiberTeas, I then looked at previous tasting notes for this Assam and tried the following brewing recommendations:
Scribbles: 1 tsp. (2.6g) / 8 oz. / “just off boiling” (I used 208F) / 5 min:
To my taste buds, the bold malty Assam still overshadows the caramel. Near the bottom of the cool cup, the sweet caramel was more obvious. There was a dry finish with some astringency near the front of my tongue. Fortunately, the woodiness was no longer present with the lower temperature.
6 & 7-min. – not yet. 8-min – ? 10-min. produced a light-bodied cup with a similar flavor profile.
Nicole: 1.5 tsp. (3.5 g) / 10 oz. / 205F / 2.5 min:
Aroma: Malt with hints of both caramel & sweet potato – ah!
This preparation provided a bold, rich, and malty with a definite caramel sweetness and a dry finish. The cup was very invigorating.
Terri HarpLady: 1 tsp. (2.6g) / 8 oz. / 212F / 3-4 min:
3 min. produced a rich, smooth, full-bodied malty Assam with a yummy caramel sweetness. There was no hint of bitterness and minimal astringency. As the cup cools there is a honey-like sweetness. Very satisfying! Now we’re talking!! Terri’s experience reviewing this tea 12 times truly paid off!
Resteep: Not recommended.
Impression: I’m very pleased to have finally found exactly what LiberTEAS so accurately described in her tasting note. No. 49 is apparently consistent and definitely Carmalicious!
Thanks to all who contributed detailed brewing tips in their tasting notes or the comments of the No. 49 Assam FTGFOP1 thread. Your guidance was very helpful for this tea especially given the incomplete brewing instructions.
Recommendation Not having to discover the optimum brewing parameters through “trial & error” would be very helpful and greatly appreciated. Having to do so is very inefficient, wastes valuable tea, and IMHO impairs the progress and joy of tea exploration. In retrospect, it’s a very good thing that I ordered 4 ounces!
My favorite tea suppliers evaluate each crop / batch of tea every year to determine the optimum brewing parameters. This insures the best possible first impression of their tea, greatly increases customer satisfaction, and thus increases word-of-mouth advertising – the best form of advertising that money can’t buy. You never have a 2nd chance to make an Outstanding First Impression.
RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
Brewed western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a brew basket http://steepster.com/teaware/royal-albert/45581-old-country-roses-afternoontea-mugs
http://steepster.com/teaware/teavana/39312-perfect-preset-tea-timer (for 212F brewing)
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Malt
I decided to kick start my day with a cup of this malty caramelly deliciousness. I haven’t been wanting assams very much lately, and I have quite a few of them to get through. I think once I finish up the last of my assam I’ll leave them out of cupboard for a while. I find sometimes they are a little too much for me.
This morning, however, this one hit the spot. I can’t believe how much caramel is present. If I added sugar, it would probably come across as a little syrupy. I found some floral, but more in the aroma than in taste, and it went away after a while. Or maybe I just got used to the aroma.
The first steep I let go for 5 minutes. I thought it would be too long, but it turned into a quite a flavourful cup. After such a long first steep I wondered if I would get a second steep out of it, but it was just as delicious. I kinda forgot about it, and steeped longer than 5 minutes. I noticed some bitterness in the second steep as the cup cooled, but I kind of expected that.
Gratitude and thanks to looseTman for providing the sample.
No notes yet. Add one?
Pass the Stash TTB 2.0
I’ve been rather curious about Steven Smith’s teas. I have browsed his website many times and there are definitely several things I would like to try. I was excited to see that my local The Fresh Market has a sampler box of his teas, but it’s different from the one listed online and it’s missing a couple of the teas that was really interested in trying. So poo! This was actually one of the teas I was curious about. Luckily for me, there was a single individually-wrapped sachet in the box! Sorry guys, I had to try it. :P
I really really like this tea! It’s a lovely mix of the soft hay-like flavor of bai mudan and the lightly floral honey tones of chamomile. I have no idea what osmanthus tastes like, but I definitely get an extra floral element in here. I’m finding this extremely delicious with a little bit of honey! I would definitely buy this as a nice calming evening option.
Flavors: Floral, Hay, Honey
Sipdown! (134 QQ)
I wasn’t planning on writing a note for this, but wow this came out so fruity today! It’s all about the raisins and dried apricot in both aroma and taste. It literally smells like apricot preserves! I’m not sure what I did different, but damn is this good… The fruit isn’t quite as extreme in the taste as the smell, but the stonefruit is extremely present compared to other Yunnan or black teas in general. I am amazed! I would absolutely order this one if it’s going to be like this every time! :O
The only difference in the preparation is that since I brewed it in a glass Pyrex cup, the leaves had a bit more room to unfold. But I can’t imagine that making such a difference considering they usually have plenty of room in my brew basket! So weird!
I wish I could share this cup of tea with everyone here! Lol.
Flavors: Apricot, Raisins, Stonefruits
I’m kind of a grumpface today… Our new roommate (and my boyfriend’s friend and coworker) has only been here a week, and he already bought tickets for some girl to come visit him. For a week. And they’re not even dating, and she’s 19 to boot (no offense meant to the younger people on here, but I generally do not like or get along with teenagers)… Seriously? And since he and my boyfriend generally work from about 8 to 5 during the week, I will most likely have the pleasure of entertaining this person all day long. Seriously? I am at a loss as to why this is going down… But you know, clearly my opinion doesn’t matter as long as he asks my boyfriend about it, who is never going to say no. So yes, grumpface.
So, on to the tea then. The leaves are what I would call “medium-sized” and twisty. They’re mostly dark with little spots of gold. They smell mildly malty with honey sweetness, yum. I did a 3 minute brew just out of habit.
The aroma is quite dark. Very malty, with a syrupy deep raisin note and something somewhere between honey and molasses. Wow, the flavor here is deep. I definitely agree with Terri about this being a manly tea. That dark raisin aroma carries over into taste, but it’s not sweet at all. Needless to say, this is quite malty. There’s tobacco and soft leather, maybe a touch of earthiness. There’s also an interesting almost bitterness that I feel is inherent to the tea (meaning not a result of incorrect brewing). It melds nicely with the leather and tobacco notes.
Nicole mentioned maybe a bit of smoke in here, and although I wouldn’t call it smoke, I can see what she’s talking about. It’s definitely dark and intense, and the earthy quality could definitely be described as almost smoky.
I quite enjoyed this tea. It’s amazing to see (or rather taste) the wide range of flavors and experiences that can come out of one region (Yunnan). The golden, fuzzy Yunnan teas are light with pastry and honey-sweetness, while the darker varieties can be very assertive and rich, with deep and developed savory flavors. Amazing! I’m so glad I’m getting the chance to try all of the different kinds, especially since most of them were from swaps! Thanks everyone, and Nicole in particular, who provided this sample, along with many others! :)
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Raisins, Tobacco
After my sub par cup this morning, I wanted a proper cup. So I have cranked up the ac, made some toast with lemon curd, and poured this.
This tea is so smooth, with light and delicious layers to it. Not even a little bitter. And this pares so well with the bright aftertaste of lemon curd in my mouth from my toast. I recommend that combination!
I am being bolder and trying more “plain” blacks. I’m a lover of flavored tea, but I can see that there is great deliciousness hiding about in their unflavored sisters.
So I picked this up. Its bagged, which is not super ideal, but I’ve liked what I’ve had from Steven Smith before, and am willing to put my tastebuds in his hands.
This is pretty good! I’m delighted with how smooth it is, and, while its not exactly sweet, it is light and refreshing and quite good indeed. I’ll enjoy having this, on the days I feel more like a classic cup of tea.
Queued post, written May 18th 2014
Here is another one from my recent Auggy parcel. I’ve seen this one around before on Steepster, but it never really caught my interest enough to check it further. It just got lumped automatically into the ‘sounds nice but unavailable to me’ box and so I put it from my mind.
Now I get to have some anyway. I find the name of the blend attractive for reasons that I don’t even understand myself. If I were shopping somewhere and saw a black blend of that name, it would make me have a closer look.
This is one of those rare blends, where not only have they listed what goes in it, they’ve also done it in a more detailed way than usual. Many companies would just have put ‘Indian, Ceylon and China tea’. Some would go a little further and put ‘Assam, Ceylon and Keemun.’ This one actually specifies the two Ceylons used (Uva and Dimbula)! It made me go YAY! I wish more companies would take heed of this.
Now, Uva is a highgrown tea and Dimbula is as well. I don’t actually care much for the high-grown Ceylons although I find them easier to drink than a Darjeeling. As is my experience, though, a Darjeeling in a blend can become quite acceptable in a blend because it is tempered by the other ingredients, and this is the case with the high grown Ceylon in this blend as well. Assam and Keemun are both fairly strong teas for me. Some people classify Keemun as mild, but for me it’s not that mild. I think maybe I measure strength differently. Something with that much flavour in it feels strong to me. They both do an excellent job with keeping the Ceylon in line in this blend. It is primarily a Ceylon blend, though.
I’m actually getting very little of the characteristics of the Keemun and Assam. No grain-y notes, but a little bit of floralness which may or may not be part Keemun and part Ceylon. No cardboard-y notes from the Assam, but a great deal of body. It’s like the Assam and Keemun work to enhance the deeper notes of the Ceylons rather than add their own flavour to the mix. I find I quite like that. It makes the blend taste very balanced. It reminds me strongly of low-grown Ceylon actually.
I’m quite pleased with this one.
This smells pretty much like Earl Grey to me, which is totally fine, but it meant I got out the almond milk to splash in it before even brewing. Without, bergamot tastes super soapy to me.
Anyway, with a bit of almond milk, this was fantastic. I could taste the tea, bergamot, AND almond from my milk (something I really enjoy, and why I buy almond milk in the first place). Win.
this was in the BBB grab bag and since i try not to let things get back to TB, i pulled it out, figuring that if nothing else it could be shared by the numerous tea folks here. I figured i really ought to try it sooner than later so i could knock it off my list if i decided i didn’t really like it. As expected, this one’s not for me. there’s a floral note in this one that just doesn’t sit with me, and as it cooled it took on a taste that i really didn’t care for. In to the swap box it goes for others to try!
I had this tea yesterday and it seemed a little bit uninspiring , so I decided to try it again brewed at a higher temperature. Darjeeling’s often seem to have different characters depending how you brew them. This one was no exception, although it did not go through as extreme a transformation as some I have had. I prefer this one brewed at boiling.
After 3 min @92 °C, I had a tea smelling of bright muscatel notes, cocoa, grainy malt and honey with a maple coloured broth.
The first note was a muscatel note that was quickly overtaken by grainy malt with a hint of honeyed cocoa and an underlying bitterness. It seemed a little more rrobust, substantial and warming than some Darjeeling’s I’ve had. Brewed this way this is not really a morning or afternoon tea for me I can picture having it when I want something soothing on a crisp night.
Brewed with boiling water for 3 minutes, the sharp fruity notes of muscatel were much stronger, the tea tasted lighter and a little bit sweeter with a touch of sharpness and a milder but slightly more bitter maltiness underneath. There is a bit of a slightly spicy and bitter floral note underneath the muscatel. At this temperature there is a more interesting blend of fruity muscatel, grainy and slightly buttery grain notes, honey and malt. It’s more of an afternoon tea now, and certainly more refreshing.
This tea doesn’t resteep exceptionally well.
Thanks Sil for the chance to try this one!
why hello there tea that i see a certain someone hasn’t tried yet….looks like it’s one more cup of you before you go visit that person mwahahahaha. Still enjoying this one, though not nearly as much as the first time i had it. still though, happy to enjoy a nice straight cup of black today. this afternoon. it’s almost stop work time!
Final count: 208
I got this sample from ifjuly – thank you.
She supplied me with some awesome samples some time ago. I haven’t finish her sample box, lotsa tea samples left. Feel guilty.
This tea is very good. I didnt read a description or reviews before I brew it(i do normally). my son had Field trip today, i left my house earlier without breakfast. As soon as i got home i had it, it was almost lunch time. i just couldnt figure out the flavor. its smooth malty creamy sweet (black tea sweet) and something. Well when i read its pine needles. Oh, its so good, who could imagine i would love some pine notes in my tea. Anyway, its a Christmas season tea, its not available right now. I can wait. My stash is huge anyway.
Btw, today is Steven Smith Bday, they offer 15% off(doesnt happen often) the code is Happy Birthday Steve
resteep was surprisingly good. More pine came thru. at 4 min
Well, sort of.
I stuck this in my mug to brew for a couple minutes (at about 85 degrees) and totally got distracted and forgot about it for at least 30-45 minutes because I wasn’t able to set my oven timer because I was cooking chicken.
So I came back to bitter town – buuuuuttttt – I poured half out in another mug, replaced what was missing with fresh water and it was great!
Last time I didn’t know I was supposed to treat a Darjeeling like a green, so this time I was prepared temperature wise. I almost totally effed it up by oversteeping but my trick saved it.
It was nutty and toasty in a way that is different from Laoshan Black (for example).
I couldn’t tell you in what way, I’m not really there.
But done right, I’d totally buy this!
Raising my rating up from 67.
Thanks to Sil for sending a sample of this my way!
After discovering Steven Smith’s amazing Lord Bergamot, I knew I’d want to try some of their other teas, including Bungalow.
Made it this morning for breakfast…it’s good, but a bit too astringent for my tastes. That’s not a quality I enjoy in a tea.
I steeped it for only 3 min at 96 degrees to play it safe, but it was still quite bitter.
The resteep was a little better but still left quite the aftertaste. I think I do prefer something smoother and less toothache inducing (is that a normal thing? Bitter teas make my teeth hurt…)
Glad I got to try it rather than blindly buying it one day! Thanks Sil :)