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Recent Tasting Notes
I can’t believe I gave this tea such a low rating the first time I tried it! I actually didn’t realize I’d already tried it when I started making it again earlier this week. I’ve had it three nights this week, and I am quite fond of it now. The flavor is very subtle, but it’s been exactly what I’ve wanted most nights this week: Caffeine-free, soft, light, not sweet, warm… It’s as refreshing as water, but hot and with just the right amount of flavor. I ate way too much Indian food tonight and I really wanted warm tea, but nothing heavy. This was perfect.
I don’t know if I quite like this enough to buy again, but I am glad that my reaction to it has changed so much. It’s very much a “mood tea.” Most of the time it’s probably not what I would pick from the shelf, but it’s nice to have it when certain moods strike.
(Sample from silentrequiem. Thanks!)
I have nicknamed this “spermy vegetable tea,” because the leaves are in the shape of sperm and the tea smells like vegetables (broccoli, I think).
Fortunately, this tastes better than it smells. The taste was actually just fine; it’s very light and soft (no spices, no bitterness). But the scent that reaches my nose as I’m sipping the tea is a turn-off; it would taste much better without the smell.
I don’t have a huge stash of non-caffeinated teas so it’s nice to have one more to choose from, but the other ones I have are much better so I doubt I’ll use this much. I anticipate I’ll have at least another cup or two in the future when I need something mellow, but otherwise this is not a get-again tea.
(Tea from silentrequiem. Thanks!)
I think the flower flavor in this tea is stronger than the apple flavor (…I also think I can taste something like cotton, but that’s probably just in my head because of the tea’s appearance). I may have made this too weak, so next time I’ll try to make it stronger.
(Tea from silentrequiem. Thanks!)
I really like Jasmine tea, and this one is certainly good. It wasn’t the silkiest (I really can’t think of a better word) of the jasmines I’ve had, but I like it. I steeped it twice, and the second steep was a little too weak for my pleasure.
(Tea from silentrequiem. Thanks!)
This was a pleasant surprise after the disappointing honeysuckle from TeaCuppa – but then I guess if you mess up chrysanthemum tea, something is truly wrong with your operation. This is an extremely light and refreshing tea. I drink it straight but it would taste delicious sweetened and iced, I imagine.
I have fond memories of drinking flower teas at Chinese restaurants when we went out to eat, so I was happy to find some honeysuckle tea. This was a disappointment, and I’m not sure if it’s because the quality of the tea is just bad, or if my parents just doctored the pot with tons of sugar when I was a kid (possibly both).
I did not love this tea. First, when I opened the tin, the dried honeysuckle smelled almost moldy, which was an instant turn off. I sucked it up and steeped a couple pinches (hard to measure this tea) of the flower buds. The flavor was extremely light. It wasn’t unpleasant, thankfully – I wouldn’t have been surprised given the smell of the dried tea. But was just much lighter then I expected.
Thinking about it, the honeysuckle buds looked immature – they weren’t even close to fully opened, and I seem to remember the tea we used to drink having mature buds.
When I opened the tin, the smell was lovely and strong. I steeped two teaspoons for approximately 3 minutes.
First sip: the flavor is a bit weaker than I expected, given the strong smell.
Second sip: Hmm… stronger flavor, and the almost-salty taste when it hits the back of your tongue distinctive of milk oolong.
Third sip onward: Much better. But the flavor is still lacking some of the complexity I expect from milk oolong.
It’s a decent, but I probably won’t be ordering more from TeaCuppa when I’m done with the tin because I know there’s better out there.
I waited a whole month for this tea to come in the mail, so I was hoping that I would like it a whole lot in exchange for the inconvenience. Although I adore milk oolong, this one is just average. It has the characteristic milky aroma when dry, but I didn’t detect much once steeped. The buttery flavor was not that strong, and that disappointed me. I also didn’t detect much of a floral, milky or pineapple aroma that I favor either. I routinely keep Republic of Tea’s Milk Oolong on hand (which has a rich, strong aroma and great taste), so I guess I was comparing this tea to that. To be honest, I prefer the Republic of Tea MO as well. I will have no problem drinking the rest of this tea, but probably will not order it from Teacuppa again…it just isn’t that remarkable, after all the waiting around I did for it to arrive from Malaysia.
This is the dustiest tea I’ve ever seen. I like An Ji Bai Cha, but not from TeaCuppa. It didn’t even look like what I was expecting. Instead of thin, twisted strands of yummy goodness, it was flattened and dusty as if it were some sort of long jing or dragonwell. Surprisingly, however, I will say this – it tasted ok. It had some elements of An Ji Bai Cha, but honestly, I wonder if they sent me the wrong thing. Given the pricetag, it might just be a very cheap version of it or a fake. I won’t buy it again, though.
Sample three out of ten this week.
This is one that Auggy sent to me. Auggy is special because it has previously been determined that she and I have nearly identical taste buds. It’s uncanny how much we agree on the subject of tea sometimes. Consequently she has never managed to send me something I didn’t like. She has sent me things I didn’t love, but never things I didn’t enjoy immensely. And I feel pretty safe in that regard anyway, because we also dislike many of the same things so it would be unlikely that she would own them in the first place.
I have to say, though, this one is a bit peculiar. I have been wary of it for a long time now, I think Auggy sent me this package in summer. It definitely wasn’t too long after we moved in here. I’m not very keen on flower scented ones, and I have slowly started to figure out which flowers I can tolerate best and which flowers mean there’s a risk of disaster. Magnolia so far has been in the former category (if anybody’s curious, jasmine is in the latter), but still. Flowers. Wibble
This is the week for it, though! It’s like Brave Week. So I took this one, and I made me a semi-gong fu-y cup.
At the first sip, I had already forgotten about the magnolia aspect and thought I was just going to get an ordinary sip of ordinary Dan Cong. After I had recuperated from that little nasty shock, I found that there wasn’t really anything to be afraid of here. When you don’t expect magnolia, it tastes extremely odd, by the way.
I’m getting the oolong through the scenting loud and clear, but it’s sufficiently masked that I can’t get much of an impression of it. It could be almost any dark oolong, to be honest. I’m not sure about this honey note that TeaCuppa is talking about. Maybe it’s there but it’s so elusive for me that I can’t seem to pin it down.
The scenting is not too powerful at first, but this is not something that’s suitable for my mug size. It really needs to be drunk before it cools off too much, because the scenting gets stronger as it cools. So while it was pretty mild and pleasant while it was piping hot, it’s taking a nose dive into Perfumeville now that it’s cooled off considerably. That’s a shame. I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve somehow wrecked it by not drinking it fast enough.
I got this not-tea a while ago, mostly because it says that it is supposed to be good for the lungs. I have a tendency towards bronchitis and typically disagree with most antibiotics, so I’m up for anything more natural to help me during those times.
Right now is one of those times. I have a cold. Another one. This is cold number three since September. It sucks. I’m miserable and, in hopes of preventing a sinus infection (like what happened with my last cold) or bronchitis, I’m dosing myself with anything and everything I can think of: decongestants, expectorants, herbs (four different ones, actually), homeopathic pills, steam, nasal irrigation and plenty of tea. I’m cycling through different teas (spearmint, Bronch-Aid, general happy teas and other miscellaneous herbals) and I decided that it is this one’s turn.
I’ve had this a couple of times before. I’m not sure how it does as far as lung-health, but it doesn’t cause anything to get worse so why not? This is not a tea I have for fun, though. It’s not nasty or anything. It’s just weird. Really weird. I mean, you’d think lily = flower so lily tea = floral notes, right? No. TeaCuppa says this is “refreshing with a sweet and smooth finish”. I say they must be drinking a different tea.
So what does this not-tea taste like?
Think Chinese food. Specifically, breaded Chinese food (chicken, perhaps?) with lots of garlic, some soy sauce and maybe even a few water chestnuts. It’s actually fairly complex for a single-ingredient herbal tea. But that complexity all ends up relating to Chinese food in my mind. And it’s weird to drink something that tastes like dinner.
The overall pungency is milder when it’s brewed at a lower temperature (195° versus 208°) and a two minute steep results in a brew that is simultaneously clear and cloudy. Mostly because the cloudy bits in the tea are fairly large (pollen?) so you can see the clear, light bronze colored liquid around the cloudy, floaty bits which range in color from yellow to dark orange. I tried photographing this tea once. It didn’t go well. This is as good as it got: http://flic.kr/p/9U6yjX
I find it virtually impossible to rate this tea. I mean, it’s not nasty – I can easily finish the whole cup. But it’s just so weird and that turns me off of it. But I drink it for the (hopefully) medicinal value and, as a medicinal not-tea, it’s pretty good in a suddenly-I’m-craving-General-Tso’s kind of way. I was coughing up a storm with my throat feeling all icky and scratchy before I had this. One cup down and my throat feels nicely moist and I no longer want to cough up a lung. (Okay, so I have never really wanted to cough up a lung, but sometimes it feels like I need to, you know?) I still have a bit of a tickle that makes me clear my throat every so often, but I’m feeling a lot better at the moment. I don’t recall my three cups of Keemun this morning making quite the same difference (but they were tastier, so trade-off, yes?).
Would I have this tea for fun? No, too weird. Will I have more today? Yep. Would I recommend this tea? Uhm, maybe? If you are up for weird stuff, like Chinese food and have lung issues that you’d like to pamper herbally, this could be the perfect tea for you. For myself, I imagine I’ll only be busting this on out when I am feeling unwell.
(ETA: The second steep (2:00) is weird but less weird than the first. Now it’s more a post-Chinese-food-dinner-that-I’m-following-with-fried-sesame-seed-balls (but without the sesame flavor). It’s sweet and almost glazed-bread-ish but pungent in a way that makes me think I’ve just eaten a heavy meal full of darker notes which still linger. It’s actually edging it’s way to good, not just weirdly inoffensive. Maybe the third steep will be more fried sesame balls. I love those things.)
Auggy shared this one with me. I admit it was a while ago and I have had it a couple of times before, but just haven’t posted about it. I’m using the last of it now, so I have no choice but to write a proper post.
The first thing that struck me when I removed it from the package was the word barley. I thought it was flavouring! I thought it was a pretty odd thing to flavour a tea with, but I’ve seen enough bizarrely flavoured teas in my life that I didn’t consider it further. It isn’t flavoured though. It’s completely naturally occurring notes of grain and corn.
The aroma of it is exactly like corn on the cob. Freshly boiled and with butter. I can see it in my head when I smell it. Such an incredibly strong naturally occurring aroma of something else entirely I don’t think I have encountered before. I wish I had some now. Probably shouldn’t have made this tea right around lunch time, really. I suspect that was a tactical error. Nothing in the house seems good enough now.
The flavour is really difficult to pin-point. It’s definitely grainy, but not so much with the sweet corn as in the aroma. It’s also quite toasty and very oolongy with the shade of earthiness around the edges.
Underneath these somewhat masculine flavour notes, I’m strangely reminded of an average milk oolong. Smooth and thick in texture. If the top notes are a handsome young man, this bottom note is a well-rounded grandmotherly type of the sort that wears a purple dress and curly grey hair. And she will always play and she ALWAYS has sweets. Anyway, apart from this being a tea recommended particularly to people who also enjoyed the milk oolong, I can’t for the life of me see the connection or why the bottom notes remind me of that. Apart perhaps from the texture of it, there’s nothing milky about it. Strange.
So all in all, it’s smooth and soft and with an interesting grain-y finish.
I can totally understand why they call it barley oolong.
oh yes. this tea makes me quite reminiscent of the olden times. my first love……oh he was quite the shining star. we met one night in my hay field…he was the farm boy from over yonder the river, and had accidentally wandered in my land. i was instantly caught offguard by his boyish charm and the piece of hay he put darlingly between his two front teeth. from then on we were born and raised in a summer haze, bound by the suprise of our glory days. but then one day…i came into my barn to find…alas, my first love, overcome by the realms of satan and bestiality, need i say anymore …..busy, with my favorite warthog Barney. i still keep the goodtimes in my heart though, and this tea does help me reconnect with those memories.
Recently I had the great fortune to get back in contact with Auggy. Some of you may remember her, she used Steepster a while ago, but stopped using it due to various reasons which are not relevant. We share so many opinions on what is good, awesome and not-so-good that we decided that surely we must be taste-twins. I trust her judgement on Things Ang Might Like implicitly. She has never let me down. Receiving samples of her is always a promise of awesometastic flavour experiences. As such we had exchanged a few packages before she left Steepster, so when I happened across a tea that I thought I should share with her, I already had her address and so send her a package of assorted goodies. Turns out she too had found a tea that she felt like sharing and my package provided her with my new address. Two minds, one thought.
This would be the one that prompted her to think of me. One of the many tea loves we share is for the Tan Yang Te Ji (♥) from TeaSpring, and this tea reminded her of that tea. Well, it’s Fujian Province, thinks I. What could possibly go wrong then?
I’ve had it before actually. TeaSpring’s, not TeaCuppa’s, but the same tea, and I remember having the same thoughts about it that Auggy wrote to me. Smoother and slightly milder. I even went and looked it up, and I found that I had made noises about making it a Standard Panel tea. And then I forgot all about it apparently. (I’m also coincidentally awaiting a Bai Lin Gong Fu from Shang Tea, as a matter of fact, but the splendid customer service from that company is a different story which I will tell you the next time I have one of their teas.)
The aroma of this cup is very sweet and caramel-y, with something sort of grainy and slightly fruity underneath. It’s one of those cups where, if I didn’t know it wasn’t flavoured, I would think it probably was.
Tastewise, I’m getting a lot of the familiar Fujian-ness, and the comparison to the Tan Yang is definitely very easy to make. I’m not sure I would be able to pick them apart in a blind tasting, but now that I know what I’ve got, I feel I can find some subtle differences.
It’s softer and milder, definitely. It’s not a get-up-and-go tea, it’s more suitable for later in the day. Coming home, for example, and needing something relaxing and calming. It’s not an invigorating tea, it’s a phew-what-a-day-tea.
So, softer and milder. It’s almost as sweet as the aroma suggested, but without that same flavoured quality to it. It’s a more natural sweetness and it has a fruity touch to it, something leaning vaguely in the direction of oranges or mandarins. Underneath that, a grainy body, firm and dark, but friendly once you get closer. Finally a floral top note to round it all off in a neat, yet complex package.
Once again, Auggy has struck gold with this one. I would probably go so far as to say that the standard collection could contain either Tan Yang or Bai Lin. But I would still prefer it to be Tan Yang.
I decided it was a Milk Oolong morning. QuiltGuppy is helping me (like many others) to expand my palate, so here goes. Pre-steep, it does smell more like margerine to me, not an authentic dairy or cream smell. Steeped, it smells more floral. The color of the liquid is very light, not far from clear water… There is a hint of milk and butter but far less than other Milk Oolongs I have tried. There is a bit of an aftertaste that lingers on the tongue.
not bad, but slightly unsettling. The smell of the 2nd steep is less floral, and includes a whisp of carmel. No change to the color, very light and clear. The tea comes through more on the second steep than the first. Still lacking and I have had better later steeps of good Milk Oolongs (4th, 5th, 6th etc) than the first one of this.
Yet another milk oolong. This was one of three teas I ordered from TeaCuppa (the company who listed the tea as incense on the customs form.) The first tea was disgusting and I was so worried this would be the same, especially after reading the reviews. The scent was buttery, but not a natural butter scent. I was a bit worried.
195/3min. It’s not so bad. Frankly, it’s not the best tea I’ve tasted, however, it’s certainly drinkable. The milkiness is not very profound, not what I’d expect in a typical milk oolong, but I do like the floral aspect to it. It’s not perfume-like in its flavor, but more natural. That I do like. So, not a total flop.
Second steep: No flavor at all is left. It’s wasteful to buy a tea that’s only good for one weak steep.
My first issue with this tea company was that instead of listing the contents as tea (as required for customs as this arrived from Malaysia), they listed that I had purchased several different types of incense.
This tea smells like perfume, and for good reason; it tastes like it, too. The details say that this oolong has yellow osmanthus buds in it as well, but there were none in the tea I received. 195/3 min. Ooh. I can smell the floral perfume from here. When I taste it, it is so perfumed that it actually pricks my tongue. I cannot taste the oolong tea at all. The scent of the tea has permeated all of my senses. At least I can no longer smell the pancakes I burned this morning.
Just over 2g of dry tea to 6 oz of water.
The dry tea smelled very strongly of pop corn butter. The artificial kind found in movie theatres.
After 30sec the wet leaves smelled slightly floral and mildly creamy; like that of a low quality Jin Xuan. The taste of the tea was very weak, more of a hot water taste than anything else. There was a slightly sweet aftertaste. Although it lingered on the tongue it felt artificial; in a word, bleh.
2nd steep: 45sec -1min
The wet leaves had a heavy vegetal smell, slightly sweet and floral.
The liquor still didn’t have much taste. There weren’t any specific tastes that jumped out at me. The mouth feel was slightly astringent and the aftertaste was slightly floral. The 2nd steep was much more like the 4th or 5th steep of a decent oolong.
I didn’t go for a third steep since the first two could be best summed up as, hot water + used oolong.
Overall, this tea is pretty weak: in all senses of the word. I should point out, the cost was something like $10.00 USD for 50g. For 10 bucks/50g you can’t expect a good nai xiang.
This is probably the lowest quality milk oolong I’ve had. On top of that I waited for over a month to receive the tea. I also thought their customer service was nominal. I wouldn’t buy this tea or shop from Teacuppa again.
A very tasty tea with a similar flavor profile to Dawn. There is the same cocoa note along with notes of caramel and musk. No bitterness or astringency. I’m hoping this is not some sort of delusion brought on by Dawn deprivation. I’ve saved a small amount of Dawn for comparison purposes and I’ll do a tea-off with these two in coming days. Even if it’s not exactly the same, it is very, very good and I can see having a happy morning ever-after with it.