Tea Trekker

Recent Tasting Notes

OK, so this is another roasted oolong. It is less coffeeish than the Butiki one I had yesterday, but now I’m starting to think I won’t be a fan of roasted oolongs. I’m not sure the smoky, toasted flavor is one I really want in my tea.

It was smooth, non-astringent, and flavorful. But, the flavor was largely the above-mentioned smoky, burnt thing. I was planning a second infusion, but didn’t get there because I just wasn’t in the mood for more of that flavor.

Again, not rating this because I’m working on a firm opinion about this type of tea. So far, I’m feeling it’s not for me.

Really want to find an oolong that’s oxidized as much as this one, but not roasted. Please comment if you know a good one! Then again, maybe that doesn’t exist. I’ll have to do some research into whether all highly oxidized oolongs are also roasted. Hmmm…

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Backlogging and based almost entirely on a few notes

Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

I got this as a free sample with an order from Tea Trekker in the spring of 2011.

This was a bud-only fresh spring green tea. The leaf was “dark green” while the wet leaf was “bright green!” I started a little cooler and shorter than my standard green tea steeping parameters, and I got four ‘good tasting’ steepings, and one more ‘decent tasting’ steeping out of it (for a total of five). “Tasty, vegetal.” That’s all the notes I have. I do remember being impressed with the freshness of the flavor and leaf (it was one of the first spring green teas I have ever tried), and at the vibrancy of the leaf.

It was originally $20 / 4 OZ, but now it’s one sale for $12 / 4 OZ either way, that seems to be a good price for a bud-only green tea.

Since I remember very little about it (and as it was one of my first spring green teas), I’m leaving off the rating.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Invader Zim

I’ve been eyeballing some of Tea Trekker’s green teas and I like that they offer samples, but the samples seem so expensive compared to the regular prices. Do you know if they offer sampler packs? I just ordered two from Life in Teacup and was hoping that Tea Trekker offered something similar.

SimpliciTEA

To my knowledge, no they don’t have any sample packs (however, it wouldn’t hurt to e-mail them as ask them what you want, and maybe they’ll knock off a few dollars if you order a bunch).

The way the price their samples is one of my biggest gripes about Tea Trekker: they are priced such that you may as well order a few ounces. One thing they have improved on though: until recently, their next step up from the sample was four OZ, now they have a two OZ option priced not much more per ounce than the four ounce option. I like that.

I am glad to hear you ordered from Life in Teacup! My experience is that Tea Trekker and Life in Teacup both offer quality green teas for very reasonable prices (and both have some steeply prices teas as well).

I’m looking forward to reading your reviews of the teas from Life in Teacup!

Invader Zim

I hate buying a large amount of tea when first trying it which is why I like samples, but I can’t justify their prices. I’ll have to email them and see if I can get some sort of discount.

SimpliciTEA

I’d be interested in hearing how they respond to your request (you can PM me) if you do e-mail them, and you are willing.

Invader Zim

Sure thing, I emailed them earlier today and am waiting a response. If they reply I’ll probably PM you.

SimpliciTEA

Great. Thanks!

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Backlogging and based on my memory and a few notes

Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

I bought four ounces of this back in the spring of 2011, and I have been brewing it off-and-on since then with temperatures a little lower than the ones I normally use for any other black tea.

I have had at least four Darjeelings to date. Here are my notes (almost verbatim): “Good flavor, not too brisk; good color. (My wife) and I really liked it. Muscatel → distinctive – floral? Beautiful clear amber color. Not bitter or astringent. Uplifting finish.” I started my first steep at 190F, otherwise I used my standard black tea parameters while steeping; my notes show that I got two good steepings and a third that was noted as, “mild, but still tasty”; I must have stopped at three.

I have noticed that Darjeelings do not seem to do very well with multiple steepings, beyond say two or three, and as cost conscience as I am, I prefer to get lots of steepings out of a tea that goes for $5 or more (I have been able to get five good steepings out of a number of quality Chinese red teas). I am intrigued by the various subtleties in the first and second flush Darjeelings, but still don’t feel I have to have a FF Darjeeling in my cupboard.

This is my first FF Darjeeling, so I’m leaving off the rating.

(I still have some of this, so I may update this review at a later time).

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Backlogging and based on my memory and a few notes

Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

I bought four ounces of this back in the spring of 2011, and I have been brewing it off-and-on since then with temperatures a little lower than the ones I normally use for any other black tea.

I have had at least four Darjeelings to date. The first time I had this I thought it was harsh, but since then I have some to appreciate that distinctive muscatel flavor that seems to be characteristic of Darjeelings. Here is an interesting note about this tea: “I liked it better at room temperature.” I think the last time I brewed this one up I noticed a degradation in it’s flavor, so I hope to finish it up soon. It’s hard to say if I will buy any of these from Tea Trekker again; I may instead try a few samples from Upton or order a Darjeeling from H&S that my wife and I both enjoyed a sample of.

At this point I don’t feel I have to have a SF Darjeeling in my cupboard (I hope your not reading this, Excelsior) for a number of reasons (one being that I would rather stick to Chinese red teas). I have noticed that Darjeelings do not seem to do very well with multiple steepings, beyond say, two or three (I have been able to get five good steepings out of a number of quality Chinese red teas). This is my first SF Darjeeling, so I’m leaving off the rating.

(I still have some of this, so I may update this review at a later time).

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Excelsior

I agree. I can only get two steeps from the Darjeelings I have, and the there is a considerable loss of flavor on that second steep. So for large groups or if I want to drink a large amount of tea, I usually go with the Oolongs I still have from Taiwan. I can get 15+ steeps, and the 15-16th steep will still have flavor. I also like how the flavor changes during multiple steeps.

As for not having any SF Darjeelings, I take no offense. I have friends that are not too keen on Darjeelings and I cringe when they ask for milk and comment on how I should make the brew stronger. So for them, I have a nice tin of Cha Tai that goes very well with milk and sugar.

SimpliciTEA

Wow 15+ steeps on the Taiwan oolongs? I bet you have some of the really good stuff, though. Slowly, I am starting to get into the Taiwan High Mountain oolongs.

It’s great that you chose to comment on this tasting note (I didn’t know if you were reading them or not). I like hearing that you find that you can’t get many steepings out of a Darjeeling, either (so I know it’s not just me).

I still like Darjeelings, and plan to continue to explore them, but they are not as high priority as other teas are to me at this time (it doesn’t help that they are so expensive). Which reminds me, I have been keeping my eye on this online retailer https://www.assamteacompany.com/home.php because they have some reasonably priced Darjeelings, and when I order from them I feel I am ordering from a retailer that is ‘at the source, so-to-speak. I hope to order from them sometime (as they are have some Darjeelings that are ’green’—as in non-oxidized), possibly next year.

Excelsior

The 15+ steepings amounted to 5 liters of tea. We emptied my parents 4 liter electric water heater, added another liter and ended up draining that as well. I’ll try to post my review of the 2012 FF Ambootia over the weekend. For an oxidized Darjeeling, the taste was as green as it gets.

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Backlogging

Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

During the spring of 2011 I ordered eight teas from Tea Trekker: three 2010 green teas, one 2011 green tea, one 2010 yellow tea, and three black teas (with one free 2011 green tea sample thrown in). I finished all of the green and yellow teas by the end of 2011.

This was my first yellow tea. At the time it tasted pretty much like a green tea to me. I liked it. I still don’t exactly know what to expect from a yellow tea, so no numerical rating.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Tea Trekker included this as a free sample with my last order from them a month ago. I had ordered 4oz of their aged 2008 Mi Lan Dancong Oolong, and a 15g sample of their curious Wuyi Shan Phoenix Oolong hybrid tea. I wasn’t expecting to get extra free samples because they offer ample-sized samples for purchase, so it was a pleasant surprise to receive this Dancong Black tea along with another free sample of their Shui Xian. After sampling all of these teas, I’d say that 3 out of the 4 of them definitely interested me enough to consider ordering more of them in the future. The outlying 4th tea was also interesting, and enjoyable, but just not suited to my tastes for regular drinking; I’m sure others would find it great though. Anyway, it all further nurtures the trust, sprouted from reading Robert and Mary Lou Heiss’s books, that they know what high quality tea is and are really striving to offer only that in their shop.

Anyway, this note is about the Fenghuang Dancong Black tea, which I found very enjoyable. The prevailing characteristics are a little hard to compare to other black teas. The main body of the flavor is unlike Keemun, Laoshan or Yunnan blacks. “Soft, sweet and fruity” is a pretty apt description on the part of the vendor. Those familiar with the basic Dancong profile will recognize its presence after the liquor has settled on the tongue for a couple seconds, or after a few sips. It’s a woodsy fruitiness that I’m very fond of.

In the more generic Dancong oolong this comes through as a fruitiness reminiscent of apricots, peach, and grapefruit floating over a distinctive woody base note. But here, when the leaves are fully oxidized into black tea, these characteristics take on a darker palette and the fruitiness reminds more of black plum, black cherry, black grape, and touches of pear. Heiss describes “currants” and this is probably on the mark from what I can remember of their flavor, but I haven’t tasted currants more than a few times in my life.

I got to try this two times in my gaiwan, steeping probably 10+ times each session. Honestly, I was sad when I reached the end of the sample, and took a mental note to watch out for other representatives of this one in my tea adventures. I’m very fond of this profile and like how it plays in a fully-oxidized context. Chinese black teas are typically the go-to thing for me to drink in the morning, and I like to have a variety of them on hand. Bring Dancong characteristics into the picture, and I’m going to keep coming back. I would happily add this one to my regular rotation.

On another note entirely… I’ve been MIA from Steepster for a little while, for a number of reasons, but most notably because I’ve just taken on a new full-time job that was extended to me shortly before the Xmas holiday, and I officially started it last Thursday. So I’ve been super busy. And if perhaps you’re wondering why I haven’t assigned a rating score to the present tasting note, it’s because my new job is in the tea business. I’m now the Business Development Manager for Verdant Tea, and as I now have a professional stake in the tea business I’ve decided to no longer participate in the score/rating aspect of Steepster for reasons of fairness and ethical accountability. I have no interest in manipulating the rating system in our favor or against other tea businesses. The ratings I put up before working for Verdant will remain, as they only reflect my personal opinions as a tea drinker, but I clearly can’t offer an unbiased score anymore and I don’t want to make any secret of that. In any case, I do hope to continue writing helpful and interesting tasting notes without ratings from time to time, for our teas and teas that I enjoy from other businesses. These will probably be fewer and far between though, as I’m much busier now than I used to be, and I’ll only be able to contribute here on my personal time. So that’s it… I’m a professional tea man now. Tea has truly, at last, conquered me.

TeaBrat

Thanks for your honesty and fairness.

Geoffrey

Thanks, Amy. Those two qualities have always been very important to me. It’s always refreshing to see others appreciate them. Cheers!

Mercuryhime

From the way you describe your new job, I’m not sure if I should congratulate you or not. :)
I shall miss seeing your reviews more frequently.

Geoffrey

@Mercuryhime – Ha! Believe me, it’s a great change from what I was doing. I’m really loving it actually. It’s refreshing to spend a great bulk of my time working so closely with something that I love. Anyway, I’ll surely be continuing to post, but it may be a few months until I can start doing it with any regularity again.

Stephanie

Congrats on your new career! Immersed in tea 24-7, sounds fun!

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