The Tea Merchant

Recent Tasting Notes

Thank you so much keychange for sharing some of this yummy vanilla earl grey! I will get more someday but every time I’ve checked it is out of stock. I normally like to wait until I’ve had it a few times or finished it before writing a note. This one, my last cup I ruined because I used the filter I normally use for my husbands chai so it has an added flavor of gingerbread. I have had better cups of this in the past and will get more in the future and maybe add more to the note.

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I think this is the third Darjeeling I’ve ever had. The first was from years ago and I remember thinking it was okay. The second was a sample of Castleton Moonlight Oolong or something last year. I remember liking it, but not enough to compel me to immediately place an order.

Anyway, I didn’t really take notes of it as I was drinking it earlier today, but I did enjoy it and resteeped it another time. Couldn’t taste anything apple-y like the other notes mentioned, but it was a nice, comforting brew with a light astringency near the end. I definitely do want to explore more Darjeelings eventually (pu’er and a few aged oolongs are mostly taking up my attention at the moment).

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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drank Wuyi by The Tea Merchant
362 tasting notes

Got this on recent 50% off sale. Just the smallest 1.5oz size. Now i wish i got more.
i really enjoyed this Wuyi oolong. The flavors are very pleasant. not bitter, not overly roasty. just right. Sweet, roasty, nutty.
usual gongfu treatment
6g 100ml 195F
rinse/pause/ 10/5/5/10/15sec etc

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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100

I can’t believe I haven’t logged this. And somehow it wasn’t in my cupboard. Could have sworn it was but since it wasn’t even in the database I guess I was just imagining things.

This is a lovely chamomile. Gorgeous large flowers. It steeps up to a pale, delicate buttery yellow. Smells of honey and well… chamomile. :) There is no honey in this but the taste of it is certainly there. Chamomile is the only drink I like putting honey in, but this one doesn’t even really need it. I put less than half a teaspoon in an 8 ounce cup. I also like it a lot with a couple drops of vanilla extract added along with the honey but I didn’t put any in tonight.

On a sad note, somehow one of the Jane Fern bumble bee bone china mugs my mom got me a couple of years ago has a huge crack in it. :(

http://tinyurl.com/qy4emu9

I thought it was just stained and was telling myself to take the baking soda to it, but I inspected closer and I could feel the crack. All the way down the side. Have no idea how it could have happened. I’m always very careful with my cups. I guess I still have one but it makes me sad to lose the set.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Another one from Boychik, thanks!
No real comments about it, at least not yet, except to say that it was enjoyable.

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93

The vanilla coconut flavor is definately apparent here, I would recommend a teaspoon of honey upon brewing this delightful treat.

Preparation
2 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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84

TTBC2 #13

Another darjeeling that I had a chance to try thanks to the traveling box! I like this one just as much as the Upton one, if not more.

The dry leaf is so adorable with bits and pieces of green. The steeped carrot gold liquor smells like caramelized rose petals (yes!) and… it pretty much tastes like that, too. Except the astringency kicks in, but it’s not unpleasant, and balances the sweetness nicely. It actually gets sweeter and milder as it cools down.

A fantastic cup for late Saturday morning. And it’s my day off, too. Hell yeah.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
keychange

I love this tea also!

Kat_Maria

I gotta get into darjeelings more :)

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89
drank Silk Dragon by The Tea Merchant
366 tasting notes

I received a sample of this from bluebelle. Thank you for sharing this one with me.

I was looking for a black tea to add milk and a bit of sugar to for dessert tonight, but came across this and thought what the heck. I am glad I opted for this one. It is very yummy. It is a light cup that is smooth, creamy, and sweet. There is a light hint of coconut, and a very nice flavoring of vanilla. I am so glad I got to try this one. For next time I will try to add a bit more leaf and steep time to see if the flavor is enhanced any.

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

Coconut. Thank you. I thought I was crazy. Every time I make it I think it’s coconut vanilla oolong.

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91

Backlog. After being reminded of how lovely this tea is in a cold brew, I decided to steep it up hot for comparison. It’s still very nutty, but that nutty flavor kind of blends in with some floral, roasty, and other sweet flavors that I couldn’t quite identify at that moment. Even though the hot and cold brewed versions have such different emphasis on different flavors, I can’t really decide which I like better. Both were delicious, and now I’m trying to figure out the best way to steep up the rest that I have left.

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91

Backlog. So we drove my little brother down to college, which was a sad road trip. I had the honor of driving the awful grapevine/LA traffic leg of the trip, so of course I had to prepare a cold brew to take with me. I cold brewed a tablespoon of this tea in my water bottle for about 5 hours. I think by cold brewing, it really brought out the nutty flavor of the tea. It was surprising and delicious! It’s been a while since I’ve had this hot, but if the cold brew always turns out this nutty, I think I prefer to cold brew it. I’ll definitely be experimenting with this one again soon.

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91

Thanks to bluebelle for a generous sample of this in our swap! I’m really loving TGYs, and this is no different. It delivers on the sweet, nutty, smooth combination that I’ve come to expect from my oolongs. The flavor for the first two steeps was a bit intense or sharp, though. And it got bitter as it cooled down. So I waited a little longer for my water to cool before steeping the third and fourth times and really hit the sweet spot. The flavors were still there but mellowed out and blending together well. By the fifth steep, started to lose too much flavor, but I’m gonna keep resteeping it until I’m just drinking hot water.

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89

It’s immediately noticeable from the first sip that the vanilla in this tea is different from what I normally expect to find in an Earl Grey Cream tea. It has a much heavier feel to it and now that it’s been pointed out to me, does remind me of ice cream made with an egg custard base. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try this type of ice cream, then you’re really missing out because it is absolutely sinful. As the tea cools the flavor of the vanilla becomes much stronger, which is one of the reasons why I prefer it hot instead of iced. When I know I’m going to have a busy week I like to make up a huge pitcher of tea in advance since I don’t always have the time to be hanging out around my hot water pot. With this tea I noticed that after a few days in the refrigerator the heaviness of the vanilla overwhelmed the other flavors in the tea, making is somewhat difficult to tell that this is an earl grey. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great tea to drink iced, it has an interesting creamy orange flavor, but this isn’t going to be my preferred way of making this tea because I find myself really missing the flavors of the black base.

Now, while I may have mentioned not enjoying this as much iced, it is a whole other story hot. The 4 ounce package that I splurged on isn’t going to last nearly as long as I had hoped; in the last week I’ve run through nearly an ounce of this tea trying to ward off the chill from the sub zero temperatures we’re having at night. I’ve really enjoyed the way the French vanilla, bergamot, and black base blend together, although I do prefer a longer steeping time so the black base comes out more than the vanilla. This comes down to my personal preference, while I have a massive sweet tooth I find that at a 3 minute steep the French vanilla is a little sweet for my tastes and is much better balanced with a 4 minute first steep and 5 minute resteep.

For the complete review please visit my blog:
http://www.notstarvingyet.com/index/2014/2/25/tuesday-tea-french-earl-grey-the-tea-merchant.html

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

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drank Silk Dragon by The Tea Merchant
475 tasting notes

Tea & Cards TTB #8
I spent a good part of my day at a brewery today, so suffice it to say, I had a lot of non-tea beverages today. Anyway, when I finally got home, I wanted a nice pot of tea to wind down with a bit, and this one looked so pretty in the bag that I just went for it. I goofed a bit and underleafed, so it was a bit watery, but I still got a very strong vanilla flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever had vanilla oolong (as opposed to vanilla black), but I found the combination quite nice. I’m glad to have this tea to cozy up with at the end of a long, cold day!

Flavors: Vanilla

Kat_Maria

As a beer lover I must ask – which brewery?

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94
drank Silk Dragon by The Tea Merchant
31 tasting notes

There are several reasons why this tasty oolong deserves such a high score. Any of them taken alone would have justified an 81-90 but combined this pushes it into the 90’s for me.

First, DO expect vanilla. Lots of it. Particularly on the first infusion. But even with the tons of vanilla, you can still taste the oolong so it’s not like drinking a pure vanilla shake. The liquor is incredibly smooth and has a creamy mouthfeel, I suppose hence the name silk dragon. Once you add any kind of sweetener (I like stevia leaves or raw honey), then the first infusion is pretty much a vanilla eden. What an awesome desert. That alone, however, would have only put the tea into my 75-79 score range, as I make my own fresh vanilla extract and can slap some into anything for flavor and aroma, although this does cut down the cost of it dramatically.

Next, this tea has a lot of patience. I’m on the 5th infusion and it still tastes wonderful. I’ll do a side-by-side tasting of multiple steepings for further comparison later, I didn’t save any from the previous infusions because it was very tasty. The vanilla hasn’t faded away, although maybe the oolong is coming through a bit more prominently now. Since you can also make so much tea from the leaves, I have found an awesome use for this as well — combine a bunch of steepings into a container, add some sweetener of choice, let it sit in the fridge overnight, filter it, then carefully run it through the sodastream. Boom, cream soda tea. From 2-3 tsp of leaves I can make a liter of this tasty beverage, and unlike some other teas which carbonate poorly, there is no astringency or bitterness for the bubbles to highlight so it really does become like a cream soda to me, minus any of those calories.

This is also my new vanilla blender for teas. Any time I want vanilla in something, I’ll reach for this (first I need to buy a supply, as I have now finished the sample I ordered). There are several reasons why it goes into blends so well. One, unlike vanilla blacks, greens and rooibos, the oolong is so mellow that it does not fight or overpower even the most delicate of nuances from other teas. Unlike vanilla whites, i’m not paying white tea prices for something to blend into other teas. My favorite blend so far: 1 part Slik Dragon, 1 part Bourgeons De Yunnan from Palais des Thes (any good Dian Hong will do), and 1 part Spice of Life from Teavana (still trying to replicate that using fresh nuts & spices). Makes a 10-12oz cup, add 1 tsp raw honey and you have yourself a nutty vanilla creme brulee in a cup. OMG lovely.

Flavors: Vanilla

Preparation
3 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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85

Starts off smoky-sweet and quite smooth. Mineral notes like deep limestone spring water are strongest, next come the toasted woody acidity. Leafy greens like kale add some slightly bitter notes one would expect.

As you progress through infusions, sweet floral notes begin to appear and become more pronounced, sometimes a dash of cinnamon and honey, bitter notes fade into the distant background. Comes a bit earlier if you start with a rinse, which makes a more well rounded start, but I kinda enjoyed the more distinct phases/evolution.

A fun journey with a few unexpected twists and turns, and was a fun brew to show my Mom (who I am introducing to quality teas slowly) how flavor profiles can change dramatically as you resteep.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Flowers, Honey, Kale, Mineral, Tobacco, Wood

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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80
drank Silk Dragon by The Tea Merchant
218 tasting notes

TTB #19

It is a nice dessert oolong smelling and tasting strongly of vanilla, but also of some undefined milky candy sweetness. Not bad for a flavored green oolong (its dry leaf looked pretty awesome too).

Now that I have the last few sips of it cold, it actually reminds me a little of Golden Moon’s Coconut Pouchong.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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