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Recent Tasting Notes
I haven’t written a note for this. I think I received it as a sample a while ago directly from Tealyra. It’s a lovely one. It’s all sweet sweet orange, almost reminding me of some sort of orange sauce you’d eat on chicken or something. I miss Chinese buffets. We don’t have any in the vicinity here anyway. There are only hints of mint in the flavor, which is fine with me as I like the sweet orange being the highlight of the cup. The second steep is also fantastic. Sadly they don’t have this for sale anymore. I would have bought more. That’s the problem with Tealyra… they once kept my favorites in stock but not so much anymore. But it looks like ‘Tea Desire’ has it in stock as Blood Orange Loves Mint.
Steep #1 // 15 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 10 minute steep
2021 sipdowns: 36 (oldest sample of Adagio – Fujian Baroque)
I believe a big part of this tea’s excellence comes from the terroir as well as the skill of the teamasters involved. Because another very similar tea (also sold by Tealyra) is called Black Beauty #8, which also comes from the Sun Moon Lake region. But Teapedia describes TTES #8 as “a assamica varietal from Jaipur (India, Assam)”. So a completely different cultivar, with very similar flavors. It is my second-favorite. The TTES is a formal research station, so their pedigree designations are authoritative.
So, yes, Brandy Oolong Ruby 18 is, in my estimation, outstanding. Please also find other tea notes listed for this tea under the company’s prior name, Tealux. This is also among the more expensive tea I’ve had, at $8/25g since I get only one pleasing steeping out of it, thus it rivals good pu’ers, on a per-cup basis. But it handily beats all of them in flavor and aroma! YMMV.
Flavors: Caramel, Malt, Raisins, Stonefruit, Sugarcane, Tea
I bought this in mid-2018 and while the harvest year was not provided by Tealyra, the manufacturers box was dated as 2016, so I’m assuming that is when the tea was made. The logo and name of Maosheng Tea Co. is also printed on the box.
While Tealyra classified and sold this in their pu’erh tea section, it isn’t clear to me that it is properly called pu’erh. Certainly it has been subjected to post-fermentation, as the yellow spores are visible once I pried open the huge brick (2.1 lbs!). I’ve posted a photo of the 4g portion that I steeped today. No appreciable change in the tea aroma or flavor in the past 3 years. I gong fu’ed the 4g in 6oz boiling tap water for about 8 steepings, after a brief rinse in boiling water. No change in aroma or flavor with successive steepings, either, except gradual weakening of the liquor to the point on cup #8 that it was no longer very palatable.
The tea does NOT taste like any other ripe pu’erh I’ve sipped, and it is devoid of any compost or fishy notes. Further, I cannot discern any characteristic Assam flavors, or even a “tea” flavor strong enough to reveal what leaves were used. However, this tea DOES have a very pungent and distinctive scent and taste, which might be a result of the golden flower fungus itself. Sort of a non-floral powdery impression, reminiscent of… something. Others have mentioned dry Chinese red dates, but since I’ve never tasted those, I can’t say. I didn’t like it when first I tried this tea, but now it seems more interesting and inoffensive. I must find a way to describe the aroma and flavor(s). The spent leaves were large pieces (2-3 cm) and dark brown. I’ll keep drinking this (there’s so darn much of it) and post more notes if I have any epiphanies or revelations. I won’t rate it because heck, I can’t even describe it adequately. Recommended for those who dabble or feel adventurous.
Tealyra has removed it from their site, so I have no official description to post that could lend clues to tasting or alternative sources. It only set me back $55 for the 960g brick, so no buyer’s remorse!
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challengeSaturday, February 27th: National Strawberry Day Tea #2
Started this one yesterday with a third steep today. I bought this recently. Couldn’t resist. Sounded dreamy. (I DO miss Tealyra’s sample sizes though. I loved those things. I could try so many different teas with sample sizes.) Upon opening the pouch, yowzas there is a strong scent to this tea and I wouldn’t really say it smells like strawberry or pear. It looks like a fairly decent bao zhong base. There is a good deal of fruit here. So now I’m wondering why the flavoring is necessary at all. I also noticed a large piece of hibiscus that turned the mug a pale pink. I might just pick out any hibiscus I see from the infuser in the future but it doesn’t do much harm in any of the steeps. Overall, not so much a flavoring “kiss” as a “punch” (and that isn’t even the hibiscus!) but maybe it will mellow out with time. The flavor of the oolong does come across though! By the third steep, the weird flavor has been faded, but I don’t want faded weird flavor. I just wanted a nice delicate pear and strawberry flavoring to go with it. I should have listened to the majority of Steepster on this one. Annnnddddd…. this is another reason I miss samples.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons // 28 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 20 min after boiling // 2 min
Steep #3 // just boiled // 3 min
#tiffanys2021sipdown Tea #75 overall / Tea #42 for February
Thursday 2/25 — Another end of month “must-sip-down-to-meet-number goals” time LOL. The open 50g package said best by 2017 sometime (so yay for getting anything 2017 or older not a traditional tea out of the way) I had maybe 1 tablespoon left? I’m not sure how much but it barely covered bottom of my metal steeper basket. I never had the full bag I think I had a couple servings given to me in a swap or sale years ago from DT FB group when first getting into tea.
Sipped hot and plain during impromptu AM shift at work/finished up at home cuddled in blankets taking a nap/watching NYPD Blue. :)
#tiffanydrinkstea #tiffanys2021 #tiffanysfaves #tiffanyinthe614 #tiffanysteasipdown #sipdownchallenge
What I like about this Earl Grey is that the flavorings are more subtle. I can actually taste the Ceylon tea in the background. The bergamot is tame and the vanilla is tamer. I like this one more than Tealyra’s EG Classic. The sachets are convenient.
Two important issues with this tea: (1) Set aside your expectations of how “earl grey” should smell & taste; (2) Expect inconsistency with this blend. I’m drinking this now from sachets recently purchased in very late 2020, and find the aroma “heady” as stated by Tealyra. I do think I can discern the base Ceylon tea, the bergamot, and the “French vanilla cream” as components of a very unique blend. But when Tealyra says “just a hint of French vanilla”, they are way off-mark—it is THE dominant flavor. Nevertheless, I’m enjoying this lots, and will sip it down as a dessert tea.
But remember I mentioned inconsistency? I had ALSO previously bought this loose-leaf from Tealyra 4 years ago and my experience mirrored that reported by rand0m1s in their note below. The french vanilla was so overwhelmingly strong that it was nauseating and saturating other stuff in my kitchen and I sealed it up and disposed of it. My guess is that whoever is blending this isn’t able to properly modulate the addition of a very concentrated flavoring ingredient. Maybe this flavoring gets sopped up especially well by the tea on the top of the pile and it’s not being post-mixed very well. They should try flavoring the cornflowers first, and using them to carry the flavoring into the final blend.
Anyway, it seems that with this tea, “your mileage may vary” is an understatement! As such, I’m not giving a numeric rating or a recommendation. Finally, yes this is “organic” but that is not of interest to me. And Tealyra doesn’t use the term in the name, so I’ve edited the listing and added a photo from their website as well.
This is an okay quality Earl Grey, built upon a nondescript, blasé Ceylon base. Ironically, Tealyra writes “there is absolutely no need to change something that is perfect as is!” and yet they add blue cornflowers to it. Why? For color and marketing purposes, I suppose. Cheaper than adding gold leaf, right? Anyway, the tea is overwhelmed by the bergamot flavor, which itself isn’t all that powerful. But if you like bergamot as I do, you might not mind a “cuppa bergamot”. Ultimately this version of the classic is boring but quaffable. I used the loose-leaf form, but nylon sachets are also available. Both are priced affordably.
This is a decent English Breakfast, which I bought in convenient sachets. Mild, but the keemun base shines through. Otherwise, the review by eastkyteaguy is spot-on. I don’t give a rats tail about it being “organic”. I would prefer Tealyra’s slightly more expensive Keemun Mao Feng Premium sachets for routine drinking, so that will be my future purchase for his type of tea. I’ve added a new photo fromTealyra’s site, but for some reason it isn’t displaying in the listing.
First and foremost, is this a Pu’erh tea? Apparently it is made via a fermentation process, but with leaves from Japan, not Yunnan. And apparently made in Japan, using a rice yeast (not disclosed on the ingredient list). It tastes neither like sheng nor shou Puer, nor like Hoji-cha. But I DO like it. The leaf is pretty finely broken, and it brews up fast to produce a clear, deep red-orange liquor with a great toasted-rice aroma and flavor that lingers in the throat and nose. No fishy, compost, or dank notes, devoid of astringency and smooth as pudding. Almost as expensive as a good sheng though! Clear sweet, tea flavor and good for six steepings before it peters out. I’ve made multiple purchases. Ignore all the bogus health statements and just try it because it tastes good. And as always, I don’t give a hoot about the fear-mongering “organic” claim. I’ve added a photo of what was in my pouch since I didn’t feel the sellers was representative.
Another of Tealyra’s Germany-sourced teas, this of course contains no C. sinensis, and is fruit/herbal. And tasty! I made a single infusion cycle of 2 tsp in 10 oz boiling water in a drawstring fabric teabag. All the ingredients can be discerned, and the (purple) liquor has a lovely aroma of fruit and berries. Some tartness on the sides of the tongue probably from the hibiscus or strawberry leaves. I drank half of it straight and the remainder sweetened. Either way it would have also made a refreshing iced beverage.
Previously listed here under the former name of the company (Tealux) I’ve updated the listing with the new name, description and picture pulled from the company website.
I was raised with “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Tealyra’s website says this comes from Germany. Maybe that means it was blended there by the wholesaler. This is a fast-brewing tea blend that is definitely pungent. I’m using the pyramid sachets and steeping Western style in a large mug. The orange peel is just overwhelming, making it hard to discern the background tea itself. Not keemun, nor assam, maybe a bland “something else”. My first impression was that the orange had fermented while drying, as that is the odor I perceived from both the dry and brewed product. But now on my third session with it, it’s less offensive and perhaps what I’m tasting is the lemongrass and bergamot combining with the pungent orange. Not (yet) to my taste, but I’ll sip down the remainder over the next year, as a wake-up brew at least. For now I won’t recommend either for or against, as some might really like it. Kind of how some of us enjoy kimchee or cumin or cilantro, while others don’t. Since it’s cheap, there’s not much to lose by trying it if these flavors a’peel to you. (See what I did there?)
Postscript: Raising my rating from 40 to 60 because this tea at least tastes of natural flavors and fragrance, rather than artificial flavorings, like some of my other recent acquisitions.
I bought it four years ago from Tealyra, and have kept it in sealed careful storage, and it’s not changed over that time. Yes, it is strong. In the sense that it makes a very dark brown infusion, very quickly. But the flavors? Well, it’s complex, but mild, with no single flavor taking control. The characteristic Assam flavor is there, but muted. There is some pepperiness and a hint of smoke in the aftertaste, suggesting almost contamination with another tea. I brewed this Western style in a big mug, with a heaping teaspoon of leaf in a drawstring teabag, and 10 oz boiling water for 4 minutes. The manufacturer’s description says this will never disappoint, but my very first impression was of disappointment, and over the years that I’ve given this taste after taste, it keeps on disappointing. There aren’t major defects, it’s just… unimpressive. Not putting another dime down this rabbit-hole. Now, if you’re the type who spikes your tea with sage or other spices, or even fruit zest, then this might be a good base for you. But as an orthodox tea, not so much. I’ve added a photo borrowed from Tealyra’s website, and indicated that it’s now available as a sachet as well as loose.
A lovely interpretation of the classic, well done and on the higher end of affordable. This tea blend tastes to be built on a good Keemun, with a bit of orange peel adding complexity beyond a toned-down hit of bergamot, and rounded out by some peach flavor. The black tea flavor dominates and the orange peel is clean and uplifting, while the claimed chrysanthemum ingredient is so subtle as to be undetectable. Not overly floral or fruity, and not particularly sweet. Less assertive than standard Earl Grey, but solid enough to make a great iced tea (sweet or un-), if it wasn’t below zero F outside! This was among my earliest purchases from Tealyra, around 4 yr ago, and it’s as good today as it was back then. I’ve kept it in a dark, closed mason jar at ambient. Glad they still offer it because it’s time to buy more! Only as a loose tea for now—I would happily buy it in mesh sachets—meanwhile I use fabric drawstring teabags and brew Western style in a big mug. No re-steeping.
The epitome of Keemun! This one has a potent yet smooth flavor with minimal astringency and what I call a good ol’ Keemun kick! Yes it’s got plenty of caffeine which accounts for it being used in “breakfast” blends. Superior to the Sri Lankan blacks I’ve sipped and quite distinctive, too. I like it much more than the Qimen Mao Feng Supreme by Tealyra, which might be too refined to suit me . This gives a powerful Qimen taste and would be a good standard-bearer for someone wanting to learn to differentiate among various tea types. The leaf is small, fully oxidized and well rolled, but not not overly chopped (not CTC) and not “fannings”. Gives an aromatic, fast coppery brew. I’ve had both loose and sachets of this with equal pleasure in Western mug brewing. Haven’t tried resteeping.
Postscript: Since I bought this after the company changed name from Tealux to Tealyra, I’ve edited the company name in the listing to avoid duplicate entries and retain previous tasting notes.
Woke up with this tasty tea today. Bought in mesh sachets and brewed western style, the leaves unfurled beautifully and the two steepings were golden yellow and clear, becoming somewhat cloudy as they cooled. Smooth, buttery, vegetal, energizing and fragrant. A great way to face a snowbound winter day.
This tea was a revelation. Yes, grown in Taiwan, but the finest, cleanest, most enjoyable Assamica I’ve found, other than Tealyra’s Brandy Oolong 18. Both come from the Sun Moon Lake region of Taiwan. I buy this one by the half pound and enjoy every cup. The intensity varies from year to year, but it has always been great. More of a raisin-caramel-malt and honey flavor that I find to be the essence of Assamic. It’ a flavor of its own. Second steep is more subdued and woodier, but still good. Stop there. You’ll find huge, intact leaves over 2” long. Black Beauty #8 and Brandy Oolong #18 are my #1 favorites, hands down.
This is a very mild Qimen (“Keemun”) black tea from China. The leaves are large—about an inch long, dry—and wirey, with a nice lightly cocoa odor. I brewed a teaspoonful (actually a large pinch of about 1.5 g) in 8 oz boiling water for 4 min. In a fabric drawstring teabag. This produced a clear brown liquor with flavors of stewed vegetal fruits over top of a light keemun flavor. Not as strong in character as I would like. I’ve had better Qimen teas at lower price from this and other vendors. Just my subjective opinion, YMMV.
Flavors: Stewed Fruits, Vegetal
Serious. Where is the tea. I can’t taste it. I sift through the bits from the bag and can’t see any either.
Tried making a cup this morning with maybe a pinch or two of the Masala Chai along with a normal amount of tea leaves from a pleasant, inoffensive Keemun.
I steeped for 90 seconds with boiling water. I took one sip, grimaced. Took another sip, and then dumped it down the drain and proceeded to worship at the altar of PTA.
My thought was that maybe I could mix it with a decent black base and make something that actually tasted like a spiced tea instead of someone having thrown a handful if spices into a grinder and called it tea.
Maybe it would work better if I brewed tea as normal, and then tossed in a pinch of this for the last 30 seconds? Would it work? Would it ruin any attempts to resteep for additional cups? is it even worth the hassle.
Two strikes in a row for Tealyra. I’m not impressed. I’m also really annoyed now that I wasted a gift card on this stuff.
Try #3 (why am I so determined?)
I actually left the lid off the tin for about 30 hours to see if I could calm some of this down. It helped . . . some.
While the scent is no longer overwhelming, it still tastes really artificial and for the life of me there is still no sign of vanilla, bergamot, or tea for that matter.
I think its time for me to give up. I’d see if I could give it away to someone, but with the pandemic, easier said than done. I think its got to go in the trash, I just need to make sure I do it and take it out immediately. I do not want the smell to linger.
A semi try#2.
I pulled this one out again late yesterday. (I have been making way way too much tea in the shadow of yesterday’s events). I opened the tin, was overpowered by the scent, and closed it.
I then pulled out my remaining 2 teabags of Harney and Sons Father’s Day. Very sadly I have been sitting on these for too long. I’ve stored them in a small zip lock bag with the air pushed out (2 tea bags, one giant cannister that screamed for repurposing), but they have still faded. Still passible tea. And guess what. I can smell and taste bergamot.
I don’t understand how this Earl Grey Moonlight neither smells nor tastes anything like its specified ingredients. It reminds me of someone who decided to make a tea out of marzipan and skipped the almond and orange. Its like a temple to perfumed sugar, but there’s no sugar. I don’t even comprehend.
Day 3 and the smell still makes ne nauseous.
I’m not a huge Earl Grey fan. But a coworker had been talking about how much he loved vanilla Earl Greys and I had a gift certificate I had no idea what to do with, so I thought I’d go a head and give this one a try.
First off, I can’t really smell or taste bergamot. I can’t really smell or taste vanilla either. There’s a whole heck of a lot of smell and taste (overpoweringly so), it just doesn’t seem to have much to do with its stated ingredients. It feels very artificial, though that may just be caused by my dislike of the overpowering flavors and odors.
It both smells and tastes somewhat floral, though I can’t imagine why it would do so. there’s also a kind of a bitter aftertaste in the back of the throat. There seems to be no sign of the tea base at all. The smell is actually making me feel queasy.
I was hoping for something warm and mellow this morning. This is not that.
I’m happy I used a gift card for the order. I would feel pretty bad if I had spent my own money on it. I won’t toss it yet. Maybe I will have a change of heart at a later date.
Samurai TTB #13
Wow, these pearls are HUGE! The bag said to use “1 tsp”, which wasn’t really helpful, so I ended up using two pearls which nearly filled my infuser as they expanded. The resulting brew was a lovely balance of sweet fruitiness from the lychee and rich maltiness from the base tea. A re-steep was lighter on the fruit flavor but still malty and delicious. I think I’ll be hanging on to this one!
Flavors: Fruity, Lychee, Malt, Sweet
From the Samurai TTB
Interesting combination of cocoa powder and puerh. The first steep was dark chocolate, slightly bitter, mostly from the cocoa powder that covers each dry tea leaf. The second steep has much less of the chocolate taste, and the puerh is not bad, kinda generic dark tea. Not a bad tea, but I think I’d rather add some cocoa powder to my favorite tea base and see what that tastes like rather than purchase this version.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate