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Recent Tasting Notes
Happy Chinese New Year guys! Still holiday season!
In our new year party, I made my favorite party beverage, chrysanthemum tea. Most of my friends are not frequent tea drinkers. Chrysanthemum tea is exotic, but not too strange to most of them. In Chinese “health theories”, rarely a tea should accompany a meal. Instead, it should be taken before or after. However, chrysanthemum tea is always good for meals. After all, it’s herbal “tea”.
This time, I think I really made it well. I throw some goji berries in, not in the brewing pot, but in the water pitcher. So the goji was brewed not directly by boiling water, but by hot liquor of chrysanthemum. In this way, the goji berries contributed to the final taste as well as maintained its own texture. The chrysanthemum tea last night had clean, fragrant herbal flavor, with a sweet aftertaste. Goji berries randomly ran into the cup. Their flavor was entirely blended with the chrysanthemum, and the berries chewed like raisins. I put in some rock sugar, for which I actually regretted, after finding out some friends can’t have sugar.
Next time, I will omit sugar. Chrysanthemum bears a natural sweet aftertaste, which, although different from sugar’s sweetness, does bring some satisfaction to sweet tooth. Chrysanthemum is considered a super healthy herb in China. Without sugar, the tea will be absolutely healthy :D But it doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of sugar, or honey, or maple sugar :D
(I used around 10-15 dry flowers, brewed in a 17oz teapot, and put all 4.5 infusions in a used wine glass bottle, and left it outdoor in snow pile for a few hours.)
(It’s “unknown” source but chrysanthemum can be obtained from many sources, including tea vendors and Asian grocery stores.)
One minute I’m discussing US presidents on-line, one thing leads to another, John Qunicy Adams leads to Quince Roobos. Now it’s in my cup.
Sweet, fruity, relaxing. I love this stuff. This brew is filling my office with cheery fruity cheer. A quick check of my tea cupboard shows that I have about 50grams of this left and a full kilo of the Wild Cherry version. I wish it was the other way around.
“inherited” these jasmine pearls when I moved out of my old apartment in November. I have no clue where they come from. I originally thought they might be the pearls we were selling at Dobra (from Tao of Tea), but these pearls are not as delicious as the Tao of Tea ones, so they can’t be!!!
Still, as the first tea of the day, accompanying my english muffin with homemade guava-prickly pear jelly, these precious pearls are a refreshing and romantic pick-me-up. A tea that coaxes the senses to wake and engage with the world. People poo-poo jasmine too much. But a classic is a classic for a reason.
I am finishing this up tonight. In the past I have had issues with this tea not really having a vanilla taste, so I decided to assume that would be the case this time and added a spoon of chocolate malt powder and a splash of milk. It actually turned out decent. I will most likely finish out this tea with a second infusion made the same way. I think I am still on the lookout for a great vanilla tea though.
The smell of the dry leaves is a very sweet vanilla with barely a noticeable amount of black tea. After steeping, you smell more of the black tea, but the vanilla is still there. The black tea is not overwhelming, you can still taste the vanilla. I notice a toasted nut taste that I wouldn’t have expected from the scent. The tea is very smooth and full-bodied like coffee.
This tea seemed to have good intentions. On the outset, the tea had a strong, pleasant, light flowery scent. Flavor initially very sweet which became more elusive as tea cooled. Overly-flowery aroma and flavor grew in unpleasantness with each infusion. Very bitter aftertaste. A good (bad ?) example of why some may avoid green tea. A most unpleasant experience.
…it is slightly scented with jasmin.The tea leafs itself don’t have a very strong flavor or taste.A remark that I put in the tea’s describtion.It is quite a prizy purchase (125g for 20$US…bought in China)that,without the jasmin scent,would leave one quite disappointed.
However…the awakening effect that this tea has is simply incredible.It’s like after 3 cups espresso…I can feel my blood busily pumping through my veins…WoW!
The brews that one gets out of one portion of leafs seem endless…the color of the tea gets stronger after each brew.
I was very carefull with the water temperature.Next time I will go higher.
I had some roasted barley tea at a Korean Restaurant this afternoon. It was delicious! Our waiter brought out plastic water drinking glasses, and served it out of a plastic pitcher! (the tea was hot). I am so interested in getting some more of this type of tea to have at home. It was wonderful with our meal of Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap with various sides and extras (including of course Kimchi!). If anyone has a brand that they have tried and loved, please pass it on :)
A good Chinese green tea. No magnificent qualities that would be worth writing about…
It reminds me of Japanese Bancha, as it can be drunk to anything at anytime.
It is a tea that is quite awakening. I have a feeling that it will turn quickly bitter if one goes to high with the water temperature.
I am using it, portioned in a tea bag, in the office…I don’t waist time on it at home.
My first yellow tea. Definitely one of the mildest teas that I ever had. Quite shallow actually. One has to be very generous with the portioning to get some flavors out of it. Water has to be quite hot. No bitterness will appear. Only a hint of grassy notes there…leaves one quite unimpressed.
Goes well with thinly sliced ginseng roots.
…that’s a tricky one as it is quite a challenge to get it right. I went to a tea shop in Zuhai, China and was asking for a white tea. The shop owner pre-paired his tasting utensils and gave me the first brew to drink. Well, that was quite something. The color of the tea was a very pale yellow. Not much fragrance…mmmh, first sip. Bitter, almost unpleasant and rough. Second sip…unpleasant on the tongue but then it hit me…the aftertaste is from a intense sweetness that one gets from a ginseng Oolong. This sweetness gives plenty of warmth to the throat and left me with astonishment as I did not expect that.
As more brews were done with this single tasting portion as stronger the sweetness got.
I bought 500g…went home and failed big time. I only produced bitterness.
I took me a couple of trials until I got it right. Never on the first infusion though. This particular aftertaste that one wants to achieve only develops during the 3rd and fourth steeping…very hot water, long infusion (longer then the big master in China did it). Worth to try if one gets his hands on it.
Great blend which is very common in Germany. One of my first teas/herbal infusions that I started my collection with a couple of years ago. Great in winter time.
Lovely flavors…you just have to find the right tea shop as some tend to overdo the hibiscus part a bit.
There are no big brands of the industrie involved in producing this. But is available in every German tea shop ( including Swiss & Austria)!
Okay, this is not at all what I wanted. What I wanted was that Samovar from Kusmi that ~Lauren posted about. Unfortunately, I was not in luck there. I checked the places on my way home from work that I knew carries Kusmi, but none of them had the Samovar.
After a little indecision, I decided instead eventually on some of this stuff that I got from my turkish colleague and some of the german fruit potpourri that Lexitus bought for me in Germany. Two parts tea, one part fruity mix.
When I tried this combination before it was the other way around, but this way feels more logical to me, with more tea than fruit.
I’ve steeped it a little too long for this ordinary western brewing style and the tea is warning me to not do it again.
Apart from that, it really is a win-win situation. The black tea is made more interesting without being brewed turkish style, and the fruit mix is kept from being too… fruity. Or something.
This one again. It’s in my to be finished pile. Some of you will remember my first experience with it. Well, my colleague gave me the rest of what she had since she would never get around to using it herself anyway, not being a very big tea-drinker.
So I got the rest in a cleaned marmalade glass and can now inform you that she must have stored this in her spice cupboard. It’s the only explanation I can come up with, because she swears the glass has only ever contained marmalade before and I can’t really imagine that anyone in their right mind would make curry flavoured tea.
I sincerely hope it only took on the curry in the aroma and that it will go away upon brewing!
I’ve used more leaf this time, for a more authentic experience, and am steeping the bejeezus out of it at the moment. One heaping teaspoon per cup (and then some, because the leaves are large and my teaspoons don’t heap that well) and at least a fifteen minute steep in only half the amount of water.
The result is nearly as black as coffee, even when diluted half and half with freshly boiled water. The aroma is very tea-like and very very dark. Just by smelling it I can almost feel my tastebuds cowering in fear. There is, unfortunately, still a note of that blasted curry. Woe ruined leaves!
Authentic turkish tea is always taken sweetened with sugar, which I’m sure you could guess from the steeping parameter and dosage of leaves, but I am either fearless or remarkably foolish (the latter being more probable) so I gave it a test sip before sweetening.
ARGH! Astringent! My tongue is dead! I think it just turned to dust and disintegrated or something! Astringency, however, should not be confused with bitterness, of which there is none. As for the curry, I’m not sure. I feel like I can pick up a hint of it, but I’m not sure if that’s not just because I know it’s there and was half expecting to find an unauthorised flavour.
One teaspoon of sugar helps. Two is better. Three is perfect. There’s still a lot of astringency there, but it’s sweetened so much that the sugar go rather well with it. Like the astringency means it can handle more sweetener before it gets cloying and the sugar and astringency in combination sort of bring out each other’s best qualities. Bit like in a sweet and sour sauce.
My tongue is all prickly and confused, though. It can’t seem to decide between ‘AAAAH! Astringent! Shrivel!’ and ‘OOOOH! Sugar! More!’ It’s a strange sensation.
Also, having tasted carefully, I definitely can’t pick up the curry. Maybe smell contamination isn’t such a serious thing when you give the leaves such a harsh treatment.
I stand by my initial rating. It’s much different from what I normally understand to be tea, but it’s still quite nice. It’s not a brewing method I’ll be using very often, but it’s fun enough to do once in a while for the exotic experience.
Gather round, Steepsterites, because I am going to have probably one of the most interesting teas of a long time now.
I have a colleague, a turkish girl, and she asked me, “Have you ever had Turkish tea?”
I told her I had once. I’ve never been to Turkey, but I’ve studied with a turkish girl and once when we were writing a paper to do with some questionnaires she had asked her uncle to take a stack with him to the mosque next time he went. He invited us for tea, so she could explain to him what the questionnaires were about. Her aunt made traditional turkish tea for us.
Then we talked about about how to brew it and my colleague told me that while they do drink a lot of that apple tea, they also drink a lot of plain black tea, taken with sugar. They brew it so strong that it’s nearly undrinkable without sugar, and my colleague gave me this that she had and never drank at home and explained to me how to brew it like a turkish person would. Of course I didn’t write it down at the time, thinking it was easy enough to remember, but when I came home I still had to google it. I found this site (http://turkish-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/turkish_tea) which has guidelines for brewing. It rang a bell, so I feel pretty confident that this is also how my colleague told me to do.
1. Prepare a small teapot by adding about one heaping teaspoon of good, black tea (Keemun, Assam, Russian Caravan, English Breakfast all work well) per cup.
2. Boil about 1 cup of water per cup of tea (either in a samovar – or on a stove top).
3. Pour HALF of the steaming water into the teapot and let it steep for at least 15 minutes, keeping both the teapot and the remaining water piping hot. (Without a samovar, you can accomplish this with a good tea cozy for the pot and a very low flame for the water. (I almost hate to admit it, but a microwave works pretty well, too, for keeping the water very hot…. but I “didn’t say that…”).
4. Pour the tea into a small glass cup, about halfway up, and add the water to fill the remainder. Add sugar to taste – BUT NEVER MILK OR HONEY.
Read more at Suite101: Turkish Tea: Brewing and Drinking Tea in Turkey http://turkish-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/turkish_tea#ixzz0chWxExdO
So now I’m wondering what sort of leaves she has actually given me. They don’t have a very strong aroma. Ever so slightly smoky-ish is about the only characteristic I can pick up. It’s a quite large leaf size for a black though. Since my colleague actually travels to visit her husband’s family in Turkey at least once a year, I wonder if I could be so lucky that it was actually a tea produced in Turkey. Think about it, it’s not that unlikely. It would be cool if it was. I may have to interrogate her some on this matter. She gave me a relatively small amount. Big for a sample, but small for an amount to have lying around when one never takes tea. I’m not sure if that was what she meant but it did sound like, if I liked it, she had more that I could have. Anyway, the leaves look a bit faded in colour, so they’re probably getting a bit on in age. With this method of brewing, though, I can’t imagine it would spell disaster.
Five minutes still to go of this extremely long steep!
Okay, ready for the next step! Obviously, I don’t own the proper tulip-shaped tea glasses, so my cup with the farm animals on it will have to do. I tried a sip of the tea before adding more water to the cup. It had a nice reddish amberish colour and while it did have a strong flavour, it wasn’t undrinkably strong. Not at the one small sip, anyway. Quite astringent, but it didn’t taste bitter or oversteeped.
After adding water the taste was a little less astringent, but still not undrinkably strong. I was expecting something almost tar-like here and I’m actually wondering if I didn’t add enough leaf. I think I was supposed to have made it with another spoonful.
I feel pretty certain that I could easily have taken it without a grain of sugar and enjoyed it, but I’m trying to be authentic here. I did wonder about whether the type of sugar used was important since the instructions said to not use milk or honey. I’ve decided they probably would have said if it was, so I used cane sugar.
The aroma is very similar to the dry leaf. Not as smokey, though, which I think must be because of the sugar in it.
It’s definitely sweet to the taste. If you want a dessert tea, forget about any odd additives and flavouring, because this is a dessert in a cup. I can’t really pick up anything underneath the sweetness though. It’s a flavour where you’re aware that there is tea there, but apart from a light astringency, I can’t really tell you anything about it. I know it’s odd to my colleague that I can drink tea at all without sugar in it, so it’s supposed to be very sweet, but the unobtrusiveness and the lack of strongness of the black tea, only strengthens my belief that I should have used a spoonful more leaves.
Still, I used a third more leaf than usual (should probably have been double) and I steeped it for a quarter of an hour. I’m shocked that it didn’t turn out stronger! I’ll have to try again though, but for now… I don’t know if I’m really a big fan of tea turkish style, but I think I might rather like it as a rare treat rather than a regular occurence.
eta: why is it the quoted bit refuses to be in italics? What am I doing wrong? squints at it