The Spice and Tea Exchange

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Recent Tasting Notes

80

At first yours truly (J) tortured these leaves through three boiling hot steepings (2tsp/16oz). Just pleasant… nothing special. But then…

For the fourth glass I wanted to make iced tea. So these same abused 2tsp steeped in just 1 oz of boiling water for 12 minutes, then poured over ice with some sugar.

It was magic! It is so much better iced – the sugar really makes the tropical flavors pop. After 4 steeps I was impressed any flavor survived. Now I’m getting these pineapple and banana flavors that were muted when hot. Yum!

Flavors: banana, Pineapple

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 2 tsp 1 OZ / 29 ML

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89

This is actually the second time I’ve had this in my stash. I just finished it quickly last time and never got around to logging it. The first time, my mom picked it out for me when she was away for work in Texas. Recently, she had to go back and picked up more because she remembered I liked it.

I have such a thing for Fujian black teas. This one is no exception. The leaves are a mix of chocolate brown and dark tan, delicate and skinny. Most are somewhat whole, with only a little broken leaf debris in the bottom. Dry, it smells a little bitter and musty, with a hint of smoke and tobacco-like sweetness.

But once it’s steeped, the flavor is something mellower and much more smooth. Notes of honey and hay bloom, along with that distinct finish of Fujian cocoa flavor. Almost dark chocolate. Oh yes. That’s what I’m in this for. The black teas that naturally taste like chocolate or croissants or dinner rolls. This is almost precisely that, but I have to take points off for a faint iodine flavor. Because of Teavivre and other companies, I know that note doesn’t have to be there. I’m spoiled.

One bad note doesn’t spoil the whole tea, though. I’m happy to have this back in my collection just in time for the temperatures to start to drop.

Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Hay, Honey, Iodine, Smoke, Tobacco

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Mike

I’m a fan of this one too! Funnily enough, there’s a Spice and Tea Exchange near my mom’s house in Delaware…may see if she can pick it up for me also. :P

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70

Here’s a little gem I picked up at Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Golden Monkey is one of my favorite black tea varieties so I was excited to give this one a try when I spotted it at the store.

The unbrewed leaves of this tea are long and are both brown and golden brown. The aroma is earthy with standard black tea characteristics .

I steeped the tea for four minutes at 212 degrees. The color was dark amber gold.

The flavor was much like the unbrewed leaves smelled. It was earthy flavor with standard black tea attributes…and something else less pleasant. There was a faint taste behind the other flavors that reminded me of the smell of un-emptied ashtrays on the morning after the party. The sensation was weak but there just the same. It didn’t ruin the experience for me but it did subtract from the positive feelings.

I’m not ready to write this tea off yet since it does have some good features. I will try a lower brewing temperature next time to see if that reduces or eliminates the ashtray effect.

Flavors: Ash, Earth, Tea

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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86

Yesterday yours truly (J) had some Jade Cloud (also by Tea + Spice Exchange; 1 tsp in 8 oz) and I hated it so much that I didn’t go for a second steeping and just trashed the leaves. I felt a little guilty, thinking “maybe I don’t like green tea”.

Today, though… green tea makes a comeback: S + J both had 2 tsp in 4oz of Mystic Dragon over ice. We both really liked it (J more than S). Turns out we like dragon green but not jade green. S points out that the other two green teas we have are jade. Bummer.

This helps explain why we like the red dragon iced tea made at Sofra (cherries/juice + green tea + simple syrup).

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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73

This is like a London Fog in a leaf. Earl Grey + milkiness + vanilla. But yours truly (J) is torn…

I love the strong cream flavor. But it also coats my mouth, almost like I drank a shot of butter and swished it around… which I don’t like. And the creme is mostly gone in the second steeping… c’mon!

The moderate bergamot and vanilla spice is really pleasant in the first steeping, but a 6-minute third steeping (2 tsp, 8 oz) resulted in slightly tannic warm black tea devoid of spice and complexity. I was disappointed by the tannins (which I dislike), as I recently had a Kusmi earl grey that could steep for hours without bringing much astringency.

The creme flavor is so sweet that it doesn’t need added sugar.

S did 1 tsp in 4oz over ice, which is also really good. An iced London Fog! (Beat that, Starbucks!)

Flavors: Bergamot, Vanilla

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

This tea has a wonderful strawberry and mallow flavor that really comes through, giving it a smooth fruity taste. I make pitchers of this iced and love it with cream.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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92

Wah, I’m home sick! Thankfully, I picked up some of this lovely loose ginger when Phi and I went to the Spice & Tea Exchange last weekend. I have been alternating it with H & S’s pyramid-bagged ginger tea and Trader Joe’s Gingerly Turmeric blend. The blends are nice, but there’s something about the punch of straight ginger that really cuts through the unpleasant symptoms of a cold. It reminds me of Breezy Morning’s West Indian Ginger Root, which I try to keep on hand at the office because it comes in convenient teabags. This loose version pleases me more though – the pieces are big enough that I can get multiple steeps out of one serving.

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90

I love this loose leaf tea! It has a very strong chai flavor.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

The smell is heavenly. This tea really benefits from a creamer of sorts, and a little sweetener. Delicious!

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97

I really love this! The coconut is so prominent, and it’s a nice natural coconut, not sweet or artificial tasting, and it goes well against the rich dark green flavor of the oolong.

I’m still new to tea, but this is one of my favorites so far, and I find it wonderfully drinkable. (Plus I bought it in Florida and the coconut is very evocative of the beach!)

Flavors: Coconut, Green

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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90

I have purchased so much tea and had no restraint whatsoever in the past few weeks. However, I have absolutely no regrets. When I go to sleep I think about which tea I’m going to have the next day, and wake up excited to start steeping. I’m glad that golden monkey tea is in my current rotation…very rich, slightly sweet and smoky, peppery, and very smooth. I think Keemun is next for me, but I’ll have to work through my current inventory a little bit first…not too long though, the sale for Harney and Sons English Breakfast at Fresh Market ends in 2 weeks. :P

Mookit

Haha that’s exactly how I feel about having lots of teas! Isn’t it nice :)

Mike

It’s so nice, hahaha! I’m glad there’s a group here that feels the same way! :)

Tabby

“…When I go to sleep I think about which tea I’m going to have the next day…” Yep, me too!! :D Sometimes it’s a tough decision!

Mike

It’s definitely getting tough as I build up my inventory! :P I figured it out for today right after I woke up! :)

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90

I am finally getting around to trying this tea. I’ve seen it in several stores, and decided to buy it last night. It’s very good, the flavor reminds me of a Dian Hong black tea…sweet potato, maybe…malty, but somewhat sweet. The caffeine level is good, it’s not smacking me in the face, but it’s doing the job of gently waking me up on an easy Saturday morning.

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65

I’m not sure this is anything special. I can taste the malty, and in the store (I got this in San Francisco, which was quite a fun trip for me!) I could smell the chocolate better than I can now. I have other breakfast teas I like better.

I don’t know what this tea wants to do…it just tastes jumbled to me. Not anything special.

Preparation
3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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82

I did not know this was a Pu-Erh. I had it when I was fifteen, and I remember the nice vanilla smell and really sweet taste. I thought that the earthier body and smell was because it was blended with a black tea-turns out I was wrong and it was a green Pu-Erh. It’s one of the few darker teas that I started to drink without cream and sugar because it was so rich, never mind the sugar was great with the peppermint. The Tea Spot Climber’s High is a lot like this one, but I prefer the taste of this one because of the peppermint next to the cinnamon and vanilla bean.

Flavors: Cocoa, Creamy, Earth, Licorice, Peppermint, Spicy, Sweet, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

I liked it. Really liked it. The Sencha and the Dragon well teas blend really nicely together to create a sweet, vegetal, sea mist background sweetened by the rhubarb and strawberry. Fruity and fresh. The smell is the real highlight and a stronger version of what I described in the taste. I am glad that I had a sample.

Flavors: Chestnut, Rhubarb, Seaweed, Strawberry

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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