The Tea Merchant
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Recent Tasting Notes
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. :(
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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
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.
Nice nice nice. After and still being very sick (and still sorry to the people who are supposed to be getting tea from me), I’m making tea for the first time in days and it had to be this one, something sweet and light and delicious.
I have a headache again so I can’t appreciate it fully but I’m managing to forget it sometimes between this wonderful white coconut tea an the Sherlock fanfiction series that I’m deeply invested in.
I really really wanted a coconut tea this afternoon, on my sick day home from work. I’m not really sick but I got to sleep late and then slept super poorly and just could not get out of bed this morning. And by the time I felt better, it was past noon, so I just gave up on the whole day.
I told myself I wouldn’t open any more packages but I had no coconut teas open and I recently got this from The Tea Merchant in my order of teaware (and this, not a free sample, a whole couple of ounces I think). I’m glad I ordered it though because it is so very VERY nice.
I haven’t had many coconut teas before, much less white tea with coconut but I think right now that it is the perfect combination. There is a definite sweetness to this and a vanilla lingering taste. I’m also picking up something that is trying to taste like alcohol, without the alcohol burningness. Like maybe rum, I think. I usually don’t like rum in any form but it’s combining quite nicely in this. I wonder what’s causing that? Natural flavours ingredient perhaps.
At any rate, I’m glad this is so good because I’ll have to drink it up quickly before the coconut turns to soap. But this is, definitely, a very nice tea.
Flavors: Coconut, Vanilla
Cold steep resteep; about 18 hours in the fridge. More hay notes and a slightly floral finish, but it’s not as nice as the first time around. It reminds me a lot of straight white tea but much stronger in flavor. I don’t think I’ll be getting this one again, and I’m starting to consider putting it in the swap pile for someone who’ll like it more. I still have at least half the bag.
Cold-brewed this last night, three teaspoons to 16 oz for about 16 hours in the fridge. It still has that hay quality and it’s a bit sharp and almost smoky up front, but then the aftertaste mellows into a floral honey flavor. It is so much better this way, and I think that’s how I’ll be using it up. Hot it’s just not for me. It’s obvious to me that this is a good one, though, so I’m bumping the rating up a little.
As a side note, does anyone know if leaves that have been cold-steeped can be re-cold-steeped? They haven’t uncurled entirely and they still smell pretty strong (in fact, the resulting tea is much stronger than I expected). I may try it anyway just to see what happens.