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Recent Tasting Notes
Lewis & Clark Traveling Teabox – Tea #24
Another twisty dark oolong! I like this one more than the other, the Red Robe, because this has plenty of peach flavor.. it’s odd that it tastes like that, but I know these dan cong oolongs tend to do that. The Red Robe is mostly charcoal to me while this one still has hints of charcoal, but also PEACH. A little smokiness but I guess that naturally occurs with the charcoal. The second steep lost most of the peach and was sadly charcoal. When Teasenz was offering to send me samples, they sent over a new Dan Cong not in stock currently, a green one that is REALLY good. It’s like a Wen Shan Bao Zhong. So keep an eye out for it if you place an order at Teasenz!
Steep #1 // 10 min after boiling // 3 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 min
Lewis & Clark Traveling Teabox – Tea #6
Upon rinsing this one, the scent from the cup kind of made me want to change my mind. I believe I’ve only had one Red Robe years before and it just isn’t my thing, isn’t to my tastes. The scent is charcoal. That’s what I don’t love about it. I can now appreciate subtle notes that weren’t there before my palate has tried hundreds of other teas: a flavor like houjicha, a sweetness, a creaminess, a butteriness that lingers, but mainly it is still first charcoal with a dry texture. It’s kind of nice to know that there are some teas out there not to my taste though!
Steep #1 // 2 tsps. // rinse // 2 min
From the Lewis and Clark TTB, put in specially for me from Cameron B.
Brewed in a glass test tube steeper. Steeping times: 15 sec, 15, 30, 60, 120.
The leaves different from other Jin Jun Mei’s I have seen. Instead a mix of shades of brown, these are all golden. They look like little dream caterpillars. Strangely, the leaves immediately sink to the bottom of the test tube steeper when I pour the water.
The dry aroma has honey and fudge. After the leaf is first steeped, an aroma of malt, chocolate, and some toast rises from the steeper. And after the later infusions, the aroma becomes decadent and mouthwatering – I can smell fudge brownie cake (the microwavable kind in a mug).
The liquor is golden brown. Fuzzies freely float around or up and down in the glass tumbler, like the goo in a lava lamp. Medium-bodied. The second and third infusions are the best, when the leaves a re fully awakened but not quite beginning to weaken. The notes are prominently malt, honey, and chocolate. The overall flavor profile is light, bordering gentle – not very strong, but could have been to better suite my tastes. Since it is not intense, this Jin Jun Mei is perfect for an early autumn day, when the sun is out and the temperature is not too low.
These flowers are beautiful. As I mentioned in my full-length review of this tea – http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/06/14/snow-chrysanthemum-flower-tea-xue-ju-hua-cha-from-teasenz/ – I’ve had a few chrysanthemum teas in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a red blossomed tea like this one. It’s lovely!
I may have oversteeped the flowers when I brewed them (I steeped them for 5 minutes) but it was forgiving, and I enjoyed the tea. A delightful honeyed caramel flavor. Mild, not bitter, sweet, with an aftertaste that reminds me of wildflower honey.
A really wonderful, soothing tea.
From the Lewis and Clark TTB. No rating because this is my second Dancong Phoenix (the first I had was well more than a year ago).
Brewed Western-style. Steeping times: 2 min, 4, 8.
Grapes dominate the dry leaf aroma. The wet leaf aroma is floral as well as fruity, more evocative of mid/late-summer flowers rather than spring flowers. The peach-colored liquor is medium-bodied, clear, and muted bright. My brain is confused – it thinks the tea is heated juice! It really does taste like pure juice. Incredibly fruity and sweet, with notes of cherries, apricot, grapes, and starfruit.
Because of the flavor profile, this tea seems like it should be drunk during cool summer mornings or throughout autumn days.
From the Lewis and Clark TTB.
Gongfu-style with gaiwan. 5 second rinse. Steeping times: 5, 5, 5, 10, 20.
A pleasant wet-leaf aroma, full of different fruits: berries, kiwi, banana, and peach. The liquor looks like peach juice. Medium-bodied, smooth, crystal clear. A gentle impression. The overall profile is juicy, sweet, and full of fruit with a starfruit note and a hint of floral.
While this da hong pao tastes good and leaves a fluid floating feel, it’s not complex. And I thought it would do well gongfu-style, but I was disappointed that it pooped out so quickly. I should have followed the Western instructions.
Backlog note 13 of 13 – I’m finally caught up!
Heartened by my success with Teasenz’ Lychee Black tea last night, I gave this tea a second chance as well. And, like last night, I watched clock carefully and used a shorter steep time than I did the first time around.
I’m happy to say that the bitter chemical taste I noticed the first time around isn’t as prominent. It’s there perhaps a bit, unfortunately, but the savouriness of the tea itself comes through more, and I definitely finished almost the whole pot of this.
So, note to self: when brewing Western style, Teasenz teas tend to benefit from shorter steep times. Good to know.
I’m a sucker for Bi Lo Chun teas, and the fragrance when I opened this sample packet from Teasenz was heavenly – buttery, vegetal, savoury…
I steeped it at 80C water for 3 mintes as per the recommended instructions. When I pulled the infuser out from the teapot, the leaf smelled vegetal and heavenly.
However, the tea was quite bitter at first sip – when it hits the tongue, there’s a chemical tang that I’m not very happy with. Mid-sip it’s nice and vegetal, and there’s a surprisingly delightful grassy note in the aftertaste, but the initial bitter jolt when it hits the tongue is unpleasant.
I suspect that I will really need a scale to serve this tea properly, as Teasenz’s instructions specify gram weight per cup rather than volume (teaspoons) per cup. Considering I wasn’t too thrilled with their Lychee Black yesterday, I’m chalking the whole thing up to user error on my end.
Now… what do you guys recommend in terms of cheap, user-friendly digital scales?
These leaves are gorgeous. They’re long and slender and they look so elegant. They have a vegetative aroma that when brewed smells a bit like steamed spinach.
This is one of the finest Mao Jian teas that I’ve tasted. It’s sweet and not as vegetative as the aroma led me to believe. The vegetative taste is more like a steamed artichoke heart rather than the steamed spinach that I smelled as the tea brewed.
The sweetness starts softly, gently, and develops as I continue to sip. It is nutty, sweet, and it has a delicate astringency. A really awesome Mao Jian!
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/06/06/xin-yang-mao-jian-green-tea-from-teasenz/
Backlog note 12 of 13. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
After some hesitation, I decided to try this again last night. This time I was much more careful about the steeping time. I kept it to between 3 and 3.5 minutes.
And it worked!
This tea definitely had a true lychee taste without any sourness and only a little bit of astringency, and tasted pretty smooth. However, it’s best to have this hot; as the tea cooled, it became a bit more harsh and chemical-tasting.
I’m really happy I gave this a second chance.
First note for this tea!
I have to admit that I didn’t watch the clock carefully on this tea, so it’s entirely possible that I messed up the steeping parameters on this.
Um… I’m not sure if I like this tea. I can definitely taste the lychee flavour, but it was really bitter and floral. I’ve had fresh lychees, and know they have a floral undertone to them, but I also know they can be quite sweet and juicy – I was expecting more of that juicy flavour to come forward.
Put it this way: I finished only half the pot before I had to leave the house in the afternoon, and then dumped the remainder down the drain.
I’ll need to experiment with this, as the sample from Teasenz was quite generous. But I really hope that my subsequent brews are more enjoyable than this.
Lewis & Clarke TTB
Another tea that I removed to sample later. I’ve had one ginseng oolong before, but that one didn’t have the green powder coating like most of them do, so I figured I’d try this one as well. The leaf is tightly rolled pellets which are coated with an olive green powder. Dry scent is somewhat sweet and woody or something? It’s hard for me to describe, lol. I gave it a 4 minute steep a 200 degrees.
Yum, the brewed tea smells interesting! It’s very sweet and herbaceous with a bit of a woody note. The taste is much milder than I would think. There’s a light roastiness from the oolong itself, and then there’s a mild sweetness and an interesting vegetal note that reminds me of matcha or green tea flavored things. There’s a lovely sweet and fresh aftertaste that lingers nicely. Pleasantly surprised by this one! :)
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Creamy, Roasted, Sweet, Vegetal
Another sample from Teasenz! I adore these types of teas with their golden leaves and their honey sweetness. The leaves here aren’t entirely golden, there are a few dark spots. Somehow that doesn’t always show in the flavor. This is very much honey and light. The color of the brew is golden like the leaves. I don’t think I properly steeped this the first cup around though – I waited too long to steep and the time was too short. The flavor was nice but I think it could have been deeper with a proper steep. The second cup was slightly deeper, the flavors melded together but it’s tough to describe this one as it is all sweetness & light… no chocolate or sweet potato or squash notes at all. Mostly honey. It’s a nice change of flavor to all the deep black teas I’ve been drinking!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsp // 10 min after boiling // 2 min
Steep #2 // few min after boiling // 3 min
This sample was provided for free in exchange for review. You can find this tea here: http://www.teasenz.com/da-hong-pao-oolong-tea#.U_ZTaPldXX8
I’m using the gong fu parameters suggested by boychik for this one. The dry leaves are large and loosely twisted. They look so brittle and fragile! Very dark in color, almost black. Dry scent is autumn leaves but there’s also a honey sweetness and dried fruits. I did a 10s rinse and then 10/10/15/15s steeps. The water was 200 degrees.
The brewed aroma was pretty similar across all steeps – mostly autumn leaves and roastiness with a touch of honey and sometimes fruit. I found that the flavor also didn’t seem to change much, except for one steep which was unexpectedly heavy on the earth and mineral tastes. The overall flavor was fairly roasty with that familiar dry leaf taste along with some sweet and somewhat floral honey notes. I also got some elements that reminded me of white tea – namely grain and hay flavors. There was some dried fruit that poked its head in once in a while, and a nice baked bread and creamy nut (cashew?) aftertaste.
Overall, this seems to be of good quality compared to other similar teas I’ve tried, but I am by no means an expert. I did enjoy the experience, but I think this genre of teas may not be for me. :P
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Earth, Grain, Hay, Honey, Mineral, Nuts, Raisins, Roasted
I’m the first to write a tasting note for this lovely tea?! Another sample from Teasenz. How I love pearls and here are some really delicious pearls. I’ve tried a few, and these are really nice. I went with five of these larger pearls in a 12 ounce mug, black and gold leaves wrapped tightly. These are called “red” but Teasenz is from China and China likes to call their black teas red. This is Yunnan tea which is one of my favorite types of black tea. I went with a short rinse with boiled water then steeped for two minutes. The color of the cup is actually a luscious red. The flavor is deep dark chocolate, with hints of maple or brown sugar. Perfect level of depth and briskness. The second steep was very nice too, as the leaves were completely unraveled, maybe just not as chocolate as the first cup. The cup actually looked like some milk chocolate had been melted in the mug. Very delicious – one of the most delicious types of teas. If these were the first pearls I tried, I would have fell in love instantly. And I’m remembering how much I love them now. I wouldn’t have any problem stocking these as the pearls in my cupboard! Many of the pearls seem like they could be from the same source, since most of them are from Yunnan, but these are some of the best I’ve tried.
Steep #1 // just boiled // rinse // 2 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 min
Flavors: Dark Chocolate
Another sample from Teasenz! Thank you so much! Tie Guan Yin just happens to be favorite type of oolong, in my experience. These leaves are very bright jade green and have the fragrance of fresh veggies. I used a teaspoon and a half of leaves for a 12-13 ounce mug.
Steep #1 // five minutes after boiling // 1 min steep after a quick rinse
This oolong has slight fruity notes but also almost on the verge of being savory: slightly salty, more vegetal, buttery. Kind of tastes how it looks as the leaves: salty seaweed! But in the best way! Not my favorite type of oolong, but if it’s a good savory oolong, it can be delicious even if it isn’t my favorite flavor.
Steep #2 // just boiled // 2 min steep
Another delicious cup that is both more fruity with hints of peach and pineapple and also has stronger hints of the savory flavors: salty, brothy. So as the leaves unravel, it’s just more flavor overall. I just love how the flavor shifts around in the mug as you’re drinking, like a wispy mystery. Very nice.
Thank you so much Teasenz for sending some samples. I really appreciate it, though it has taken me a while to get to them. I wanted to these teas justice and take time with them. The only other Teasenz tea I’ve had was the Ginseng oolong and it was the brainiest of all Ginseng oolongs, therefore the best one I’ve tried. Teasenz looks like they have a nice assortment of different teas. The leaves here are dark and twisty and do not smell smoky at all. In fact, I’m a little confused by the labeling of this tea as it tastes like…. Laoshan Black! Not quite exactly the same, as Laoshan Black has a slightly twistier leaf and also more oily black, but I think this sort of flavor is rare. If you are not a fan of the usually smoky Lapsang Souchong, please do not hesitate to try this one, as the flavor is not smoky at all. I think everyone would enjoy this tea. The flavor is a lighter chocolate with hints of caramel, though I could have used two teaspoons to see if that works better. This type of flavor is always difficult for me to describe, but it is along the lines of Laoshan Black.. the flavor isn’t very strong, with a lighter brew, but this isn’t a tiny leaf tea. I’ve recently thought that maybe since most tea drinkers start out with black teas as CTC leaves in tea bags (whether or not you start out loving tea bags or not), the classier longer-leafed teas need some getting used to just because they are so different from the CTC tea bags. You expect the loose leaf to be strong like the CTC, but the flavor is much more subtle with the bigger leaf – not just a punch of caffeine. I know with every cup I steep up of teas like this, I love them more and more. Again, no smoke at all, so I think the name Lapsang Souchong might scare some away. Not what I expected in the way of a smoky tea, but it was a delicious surprise. I’d throw this in my Teasenz cart, though it’s out of stock at the moment. Try a sample!
Steep #1 // 1 tsp // 5 min after boiling // 3 min steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 min steep
This tea sample was provided for free in exchange for review. You can find it here: http://www.teasenz.com/feng-huang-dan-cong-phoenix-oolong-tea#.U-pCB_ldXX8
I have little experience with oxidized oolongs in general, but I always seem drawn to them when browsing. So I decided to choose both this tea and the Da Hong Pao as two of my free samples from teasenz. The leaves of this tea are dark, long, and twisty, similar to some black teas. They smell of autumn leaves with a tart fruitiness and some honey. I brewed about a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half for 4 minutes.
The brewed tea smells very roasty with a lot of autumn leaf. I can also smell fruit and a bit of honey. I’m not sure if “autumn leaves” is a good descriptor for this flavor, but that’s really what I reminds me of! There’s a definite roasted characteristic to this tea, and it’s quite lovely. The main flavor is definitely that “autumn leaf” taste, though. There is a rather strong stonefruit note, reminding me most of apricots or tart plums, and it’s present throughout the sip. I definitely get some floral as well, although I couldn’t tell you what kind. On their website they list lotus as one of the flavors, so maybe that’s it? It’s not heady at all. The only complaint I have about this tea is the way it leaves my mouth feeling. I wouldn’t quite call it astringent, but it’s almost dusty-feeling? I’m not sure how to describe it. Anyway, a small price to pay for taste! :P
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Roasted, Stonefruits
This tea was provided for free in exchange for review, thanks teasenz! You can find it here: http://www.teasenz.com/golden-yunnan-tea-jinjunmei#.U-lC6PldXX8
Wow, the picture on their website does not do this tea justice! I actually said “wow” out loud when I opened the packet. It consists of the most beautiful little golden-orange fuzzy tips, and they’re very light and fluffy. It almost reminds me of yarn, but with a slight metallic element. Here’s a picture, I couldn’t resist! (http://i.imgur.com/vi6lJGv.jpg) The dry scent is light malt with sweet honey and cocoa notes. I did my usual 3 minute steep without looking up any instructions (such arrogance!).
Brewed, it smells sweet and malty with a definite cocoa note. I also get rich molasses and dried fruit, and a slight herby presence. Yummmmmm! Lol, I sound like a Furby… I wouldn’t call this tea super complex, but the quality of flavor is divine. It’s quite malty and bready, and slightly sweet in the raw honey sense. There’s a little bit of peppery interest, and an herbaceousness that is almost definitely reminiscent of dill. I find a tiny bit of dried fruit if I specifically look for it, but it’s not very prominent overall. Lovely smooth and mellow tea with a clean finish and no bitterness or astringency whatsoever! This one is absolutely going into my permanent cupboard, right this second.
Wow, I am very impressed with teasenz so far, and I am so glad that I sent that email requesting samples! And this tea is only $9.95 for 70 grams, what? Definitely an amazing value as well as just a great tea. :D
Flavors: Baked Bread, Dill, Dried Fruit, Honey, Malt, Pepper
This is the first of five free samples that I requested from teasenz. If you haven’t received samples from them yet, it’s a great value. No cost to you and the sample sizes are huge! Here’s the link: http://www.teasenz.com/free-tea-samples-with-free-shipping
Anyway, I was looking through my straight black teas this morning for something to try (I recently organized my teas by type, hooray!) and saw this pouch. Now, as anyone who has tried a few Yunnan teas knows, the descriptor “gold” doesn’t generally tell you anything. It can mean any amount of golden tips, from the very few to the many. I must say, I was shocked when I opened this pouch! When teasenz says “gold”, they mean it! This tea is a fuzzbud™ variety, meaning it consists purely of giant, fuzzy golden buds. I was expecting at most a large amount of buds mixed with leaves, so this was a very pleasant surprise! The inside of the pouch is covered with lovely golden Yunnan fairy dust. Dry scent is sweet and honeyed with stonefruit and light malt notes. I didn’t look up the recommended parameters, but did my usual straight black tea method of 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
The brewed aroma has surprisingly strong cocoa notes! And then there’s also the expected honey, malt, and stonefruit loveliness. This tea is rather simple, but delicious. It’s a lovely melange of creamy and grainy flavors. There’s nice crusty toasted bread along with light and airy puff pastry flavor. Then I also taste a bit of raw grains, along with hot baked sweet potato. I also get a sweet hay-like note near the end and into the aftertaste. Of course, there’s honey over the top of everything, and the whole result is quite creamy and delicious. I wish there was a little bit of that nice stonefruit flavor in here, but this tea is very tasty even without it.
Overall, this tea is quite light and a lovely mix of grainy, creamy flavors!
(I don’t generally add links to the product, but it was mentioned on the free sample page so I figured I should comply since they sent me such lovely samples. I hope this is okay/allowed!)
Flavors: Baked Bread, Creamy, Grain, Hay, Honey, Pastries, Sweet Potatoes, Toast
I’ve never had ginseng before, let alone a ginseng oolong tea. The dry leaf smells roasty like the skin of roasted peanuts, and the knarled little oolong leaves are covered in a dense coating of powdery ginseng.
Taking a sip, I was not a fan, it took me a moment to place the fimilar savory clashing with sweet type of taste that was getting. Then I realized, it tastes like a lotus tea I recently had, which tastes like licorice, my arch nemisis. That sneaky little devil keeps into the most innocent seeming teas, and turns them evil. I know that there was a roasty note to this, but I couldn’t tell you what else was here. Once my taste buds spot that evil villain licorice, it hones in and mutes all other flavors so that it’s all I can taste.
I’ve you’re the type who doesn’t mind canoodling with the licorice enemy, then you could find yourself enjoying the sweet roasty earthiness of this tea.
The smell of the dry leaf of this is very creamy yet floral, and a touch vegetal. Steeped up the creamy mostly only translates over in a smooth almost buttery mouthfeel. The flavor is very floral with a hint of butteriness at the end of the sip. Second steep is similar to the first, but also a bit chestnutty, especially as it starts to cool.
The third steeping is much like the last, but the forth brings out a smooth creamy note. And with that, it’s getting late and I’m gonna hit the hay.
The dry leaf of this smells amazing. This is my first experience with a milk oolong, and it’s smells sweet and creamy and almost buttery.
Steeped up, the aroma is so creamy and milky. The mouth feel of this is buttery and the tea seems to almost coat the inside of my mouth. The taste is a bit more mellow than the smell, but still have sweet and creamy. There’s also a bit of a floral note present. The second steep features a sweet buttery flavor in addition to the mouthfeel.
The third is much like the second, but brings back the floral notes a bit stronger. The forth steep the buttery and creamy notes has faded quite a bit, taking the background to the floral.
I know this is a flavored oolong, but it’s delicious.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Milk