Townshend's Tea Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Townshend’s is a tea house local to Portland and Bend. I go there about once a month to get enough loose tea to hold me over between orders, but otherwise try to avoid it. They are much more of a hipster hangout spot, and mostly deal in the blasphemy known as “tea lattes”. That being said, they have some acceptable loose-leaf to be had in a pinch.
It is finally spring after a very erratic and generally miserable central Oregon winter. It is time for green tea. Japanese greens are about as “fresh” and “spring” as you can get, and they are calling to me. This is a celebration, and so I will opt for the more expensive gyokuro over the basic sencha.
I walk up to the counter and ask for an ounce of gyokuro. The guy at the counter suggests I go instead with the sencha because “it is the same thing and much cheaper”. I struggle to contain my annoyance and insist that I want the gyokuro. $14 for an ounce (not a terribly expensive gyokuro, but almost this particular one is almost certainly not worth that much). I take a look at the leaf through the clear plastic bag, already a bit disappointed. It seems that this was the very last of what was in the tin. It is about 50% powder, with the rest composed of broken leaves and stems. It’s probably been sitting in the giant storage container for way too long to be fresh, too. Oh well, can’t expect perfection from a place such as this.
Once home, I immediately begin brewing it. I pre-warm my six ounce cast-iron pot. I opt to use one tablespoon of leaf, careful to use the most whole leaf pieces. I heat the water to 160 degrees, steep for 40 seconds, and pour my first cup. The liquour is a very faint green, verging on clear. I sit on my porch and soak in the sunshine, and shift my full awareness to the aromas, textures, and flavors to come as I lift the cup towards my mouth. The smell is what you might expect: veggies. The texture has a bit of “umame” thickness to it, but I have to concentrate to pick it up. I think silky is a better word to describe this particular cup. An overall light an airy profile, but with a touch of buttery thickness. The flavor is nothing to write home about. It is unmistakebly a Japanese green. Extremely vegetal and fresh, with a nice mineral quality. It is much more bitter than expected, especially considering the delicate manner in which it is brewed. The sweetness I had hoped for is not there, not even a little bit. Overall it just tastes like a mid-level basic sencha. It is brisk, refreshing, and suits the spring season well…but this is not what I want/expect from a gyokuro. I would take a $7, 4-ounce tin of Harney & Sons sencha over this any day.
I do two more steepings, each a bit longer than the previous. Not much changes. Same flavor profile to a smaller degree. By the third steeping, the leaves have no more to give. I think this tea will be much better suited as a cold-brew iced tea.
Flavors: Bitter, Mineral, Vegetal
This one!! It’s sweet and kind of fresh tasting, I think it’s got mint in it maybe? Anyway, it was a great balance of warmly spiced and sweet. My favorite from last night for sure. Seems I’m always underwhelmed by Townshend’s Earls but enthusiastic for their chais. Yum!
Stovetop 10 to 20 minute milk n’ honey dance, per their instructions I used water and milk (and I do the stovetop warming with the sweetener instead of adding after, because in my experience it’s always better that way). Worth it!
I ordered this tea out of pure curiosity. I’m glad this tea doesn’t smell the way I thought it might smell, it has an earthy scent and I note a minty undertone. The brewed tea smells vegetative and earthy.
This isn’t so bad. It has an earthy taste (from the Yerba Mate) but it’s not overly earthy. There is some sweetness to it and a warmth that tastes like a cross between ginger and cinnamon. Peppery like ginger, sweet/spiced tone of cinnamon. Pleasant.
The Kava gives it a hint of grassiness, and while I’m not usually particularly crazy about Kava, I’m not minding it here.
Not bad. Better served hot than chilled.
This smells so yummy steeping. It’s a tad finicky for late night (I am so lazy about heating milk for some reason, always have been…my husband can’t drink normal hot chocolate and the kind I buy him, Dagoba’s Xocolatl, is really good but best with hot milk so we only have it when it’s snowing out ha) and I’ve never made chai before that used both hot water and hot milk, just one or the other, so it’s new to me but man. LiberTEAS is right that it smells a whole lot like a cinnamon sugar cake donut. It tastes delicious too. I have a couple more no-caf chais to try from my sample stash before I come to a decision about which will be this winter’s bedtime treat, but right now I have serious doubts any will smell this good. The convenience factor’s a bit ehhh but I haven’t bothered to see if the others need hot milk too so that point might be moot anyway. And besides, something that smells this good can definitely motivate me to heat some milk. Oh so good. Decadent! To be honest after some ok-but-not-astounding samples of their Earls months ago I was kind of hoping to be able to write off Townshend’s as a fond memory of my first trip to Portland (including the story of how a customer another table over tipped me off all friendly-like about Naked Bike Night, whee) but not amazeballs enough to reorder from (I’m trying to whittle my vendors list, it cuts down on shipping and all that) but this could well be Very Necessary (Salt n Pepa reference, har), which means I can get more Soaring Crane (a nice tasty undemanding green) in the process.
Delightful, plenty of flavor with little fuss (smooth without being wimpy, has enough lovely taste without calling a lot of distracting attention to itself with loud notes or complicated flavor interplay), ideal for reading on the couch after dinner. It’s so nuts how much I love green tea now when I’m in the right mood for it.
Wow. I’ve had a number of “sleepytime”-type teas, and few of them actually have a soporific effect on me, but this tea makes me wonder whether there are sleeping pills ground up in it or something. I can be hanging from the ceiling by my fingernails, vibrating with anxiety, and by the end of this cup I’m comfortably drowsy and happy with the world.
The taste is nice enough that I don’t even sweeten it. It’s not a flavor combo I particularly crave, but it’s so well-blended that I enjoy picking out the various ingredients as they blossom on the tongue.
Basically, I plan on keeping some of this tea next to my anti-anxiety pills and muscle relaxants.
3 tsp tea x 12 oz water x 6 minutes, no sweetener.
A delicious choice for an evening (decaf) chai. It does really need sweetener to cut a particular taste in the blend, I think it’s the carob, that comes off a bit too thick and claylike for me unadulterated.
Like all of Townshend’s chais, it benefits hugely from their recommended preparation, including steeping the tea directly in a hot water/hot milk mixture rather than adding milk at the end. This is also a beautiful and calming thing to watch in my IngenuiTEA brewer: the broad variety of shapes of herbs and teas working their way through the progressively more caramel-colored milky bliss. It’s hard not to feel relaxed before even the first sip!
1 Tb tea, steeped in 8 oz. hot water + 4 oz. hot milk together for 6 minutes. I added a Stevia sweetener equal to 2 tsp sugar.
Yesterday, after the storm moved through, my son went to the mailbox. He brought back a box that I swear had to be bigger than the mailbox. It must be a Tardis thing. It was the mystery box from Katiek. All I can say is WOW!
I grabbed this one first, as the packaging from the company is a ziplock baggie. The scent of this herbal blend can be caught through the bag, so I will need to move it into a tin. I do love the aroma. I don’t know my fruit smells but this reminds me of black raspberry jelly. It’s fruity, floral, and dark.
I used about 5g and heavy steaming water per instructions. I steeped a lot shorter than directed. The brew is very dark and purple tinted. This is tart when hot, even with Splenda added. Currant and hibiscus are what I recognize. I have no idea what elderberry tastes like. As this reached room temperature, I found it much more interesting. I want to try this again over ice. I think it could be quite refreshing served that way. Definitely not for you tart haters when hot.
Rainy day here in pdx, surprise surprise, and the early morning is catching up with me. But the kids are asleep (for now) so it’s time for my local chai. I love Townshend’s Tea. They have a great shop/cafe here in portland. Right across from my favorite fabric shop, which is next to the best vegetarian taco cart in town. The trifecta. The rain sucks here, but we have our perks!
FYI — I make my masala chais with my Breville Tea Maker and I let the tea steep in the boiling water for about 10 minutes. Then I use my breville milk cafe (that I bought just for making chais and other tea lattes) to get the milk nice and frothy and then pour them both into my mug with some honey. Yum.
This is a great Oolong…This strong and fragrant tea is a must drink for Oolong lovers. It provided me with an introduction to the higher oxidized end of quality Oolong. I personally like to steep this tea many times in order to get the full extent of the flavours available in this leave. This tea has a very strong smell that I can only describe as being ‘dank’ and ‘roasted’. Friends of mine who don’t drink Oolong often seem to like this tea over less oxidized ones because it is so full of flavour and distinct.
The flavour changes as I steep it. The first two steeps contain flavours that are rich and earthy. I personally like the third steep the most because of the chocolaty flavours that can be detected. The flavour seem to coat the inside of the mouth and is a great tea to drink with food.
Revisiting this tea today … it tastes a bit more malty today than I remember it from my first tasting. It is sweet and creamy from the vanilla, and while I am not having it latte today, I suspect this would be incredibly decadent as a latte.
As it is, though, it tastes smooth and pleasant, with a brisk sort of flavor. Medium bodied, a good afternoon tea.
The scent of mango filled my room as this pot brewed. My first sip was floral, with definite mango flavors. A second sip gives a mellow tea upon hitting the tongue, followed by fruity flavors and the promising mango after taste. It’s not in your face mango like the dry tea can come off as, but pleasant. A very invigorating tea.
Townshend’s Tea appears to be remodeling their website, because when I went there I could not find this tea … and the website looked quite different from what I remember. I hope that the missing few teas is only a temporary thing, because I don’t see my favorite Pear and Pomegranate tea on there yet.
But this tea is quite nice too. The vanilla is strong. A good tea to represent Mt. Hood which is usually covered in snow, one of our most picturesque views in this area is looking toward Mt. Hood. Some days it appears to be floating.
A nice, pleasant tea. I might like the black tea base to be a little more rounded, perhaps a blend instead of one tea type (I suspect this is a Ceylon because it’s not particularly bold. It’s delicious, but just not as sturdy as some other teas that could have been selected for a base). But it is still quite a nice afternoon tea, and I suspect it also makes a heck of a latte.
Brewed up a very pale yellow green, smells of yummy roasted coconut and oolong, with a faint overtone of dustiness (not sure where I’m getting that from, but I’m super sensitive to the smell of dust, so it may just be me?)
Fore flavors: Vegetable, slightly nutty and sweet. In the aftertaste the roasted coconut comes out. The oolong is delicious and isn’t bitter at all (an issue I had with Spice and Tea Exchange’s coconut oolong). That dust thing I mentioned initially isn’t coming out at all in the taste, which is excellent.
I’m going to try more infusions of the tea, and will update this with those :)
Wow! OK… so as I was pouring this from my teapot to my mug, I could swear I was smelling cinnamon and sugar donuts! YES … donuts. That is what this smells like fresh from the teapot.
And it does have elements to it that give it a sort of cake-y, donut-ish flavor. It is cinnamon-y and sweet, and the chicory gives it a deep, roasted flavor and together with the honeybush it creates a savory, freshly baked cake kind of taste. It’s very satisfying … my sweet tooth approves!
I recently placed an order with Townshend’s Tea which just arrived yesterday, and this is actually the tea that made me want to place that order. That is unusual only because I don’t think that there’s ever been a time when a Lapsang Souchong tea is what made me want to place an order. I’m just not a fan – typically – of Lapsang Souchong as I don’t like that heavily smoked flavor.
But it was the UNSMOKED that captured my attention, as you probably can guess.
And I LOVE this tea. I love that I can taste the complexity of this tea grown in the same region of the smoked Lapsang Souchong, but without the heavy smoking process to alter the flavors. There are some smoky tones to this, but they are considerably lighter than that heavy pine-smoked flavor and aroma of most Lapsang Souchong teas. This tea has delicious fruit tones – almost plum-like, sweet and luscious! Some floral tones too! It doesn’t have that same caramel-y note in a smoked Lapsang Souchong, but the sweetness from the fruit tones is so pleasant that I don’t find myself wishing this had that caramel note.
I love this. LOVE this!