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Recent Tasting Notes
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
In a pensive mood after responding to someone’s troubles. It would be nice to fix everything that’s wrong with the world.
So I need a tea that might offer some optomism.
So, China Gunpowder gets a go.
It’s dark today (the tea, not the gloriously sunny day outside) and the aroma from the cup is very deep foresty. A liitle sugar to take the edge off, and mmmm the smoothnes comes through.
A little cup of sunshine, the world a little lighter.
I think “Make tea, Not War” might be today’s credo !
Lunch is a Turkey, lettuce and cranberry sandwich, so a nice green is most suitable!
Brewed up nicely, with plenty of flavour. Saved the infuser for another cup.
Very fresh today, still an amber colour and plenty of flavour after not a real long steep. Picking up a grape aftertaste today
Now for that sandwich…
Time to take a break, so broke out the gunpowder.
quite a murky liquor, not really that green-looking more an amber.
It’s unusual in that all the pleasant smoky flavour is up front, with a mildly bitter aftertaste. I did make it with boiling water straight from the esperesso machine, might have been a little hot
NEWS FLASH: I have something new to say about this tea.
Amazing, having added 25 tasting notes on it.
But something has happened.
I’ve been buying it from Cafe 16, which is around the corner from my house. It’s been a very consistent product. And I’ve had it two or three times hot at T-bar.
But the batch I picked up yesterday is suddenly different. It’s bigger, and the flavour is stronger. And I’m not sure I like it.
I took some to our son’s place yesterday, and I noticed it was different, but I put that down to different water, different equipment, not being able to find anything and the fact that the kitchen was a tip.
But this morning, under the highly controlled scientific environment of The Devotea Test Kitchen, I have made some up using Cyril the Transparent Teapot.
It is woodier, has a mushroom tang, is stronger, is deeper.
And I’m not sure I like that, The jury is out.
It’s like waking up next to your partner of many years to find they’ve changed. It’s an uneasy feeling to find a tea for which you have professed undying love is now different.
Different crop? Different batch? Substitution? I will be worrying about this all day.
Given this is my 25th tasting note for this tea, you think I’d have run out of things to say.
But not so.
Today I underestimated the amount of tea I needed, and produced a scalding beverage of really pale, 1st steep, PMT.
It’s actually lovely. More delicate than usual, but with plenty of aftertaste, even though my tastebuds are dampened by a horrible head cold.
Thius time I was feeling vaguely nauseous last night, so I made a PMT. It didn’t help, and I was troubled by it all night.
So, this morning it’s a second steeping and some antacids.
So far, feeling a little better.
The power of Tea? Or the antacids? Can’t decide. But the Pai Mu Tan was as sweet and lovely as ever! My theory that the second steeping is the best seems to hold.
My obsession with this tea shows no sign of abating.
This follows my typical pattern these days: A small cup oif PMT quite late – last night it was about 11:15 – and then a steaming great mug of it to start the day. Being Saturday, I did not arise until about 6:40, and I’m still a little sleepy.
And here’s my answer. With a sllighlt brackish yet sweet aroma, I am already engaged.
The first sip takes me to the warm air of a forest, herbal tones compete with background wood.
I am more convinced than ever that the second steep of this tea is usually the best
The great Pai Mu Tan Experiment.
I found myself with a coffee machine, 7 teas and a migraine.
Eliminated English Breakfast as too boring, Gunpowder a little bitter for today, Earl Gray, Wild Cherruy Rooibos and Fresh Breeze too fruity(for my migraine causing allergies), and I’d already had a chai.
Then I remember the PMT in my desk drawer. But no teapot. Will an infuser work for this majestic tea?
So, here’s my experiment:
The same amount of tea into an infuser and just naked into a takeaway cup. Infused them both. Then removed the infuser and decanted the other one by affixing a lid and pouring thru the spout.
So, first steep, and it must be said, both excellent. Great fresh taste.
However, on the second steep, there was a marked difference. The un-infusered one was considerably better, with that woodsy tate I’m always rabbitting on about.
So, after bravely drinking 4 cups of tea, I think I’ve proven that PMT prefers to run free!
Yes, another cup of this. It’s great, as you’d expect. 2nd steeping from last night’s nightcap.
But the tea has been tinged with tragedy! I have dropped the lid of my purple teapot (“Jasime”) and it shattered.
Now, I know there are vastly bigger tragedies in the world (please don’t send me a list) , but it’s not a grteat start to a week to have smashed a favourite teapot lid by 6:30 on a Monday morning.
I am specifically reviewing a cup that is a long way down the chain.
Yesterday, I made a Pai Mu Tan for myself and my better half at about 3pm. Nice
I did a second small steep on the spot.
Just before dinner at about 7pm I had another. Thean around 8:15 had another.
So, now we come to this one. It’s the next wmorning, just before seven. This tea has produced 5 cups from 4 steepings prior to this; and we come to number 6 or 5 depending on your point of view.
It’s a little insipid.
I was asking too much of it. To be fair, it has no bitterness, no staleness, nothing wrong at all – just a little underflavoured.
It would be unfair for me to change the rating. This tea has done very well.
So, this is my favourite tea? And it’s a white? And it’s not Indian? Hard to believe. two months ago I would have laughed at the idea!
I think that the fact that I start the day with this tea means it is the most likely to get logged – I had about 7 cups of various teas yesterday that weren’t. I just don’t get the time.
But still I love it.
I’ve had a bad night, woke up with a migraine aboround 5:30, took some Disprin Forté and awoke at 7am with the taste of salicylates and opiates in my mouth.
Restore me please, oh wonderful tea!
This is a perfectly balanced cup, even though it’s about 450ml.
The liquor firstly cleaned my tongue, before the second sip started stripping the furry feeling from the back of the roof of my mouth.
Third sip and there’s the tea in all its glory. Its slight dry mouthfeel is not quite what I need, but I’ll just have some more.
Now a third of the way down, and I am truly refreshed.
It’s Australia Day, so I have the day off, a wonderful sunny Adelaide Day, it’s 7:20, time to head to the deck, enjoy the early morning breeze, contemplate the leg of lamb that has been marinating for two days, and think about how truly rich my life is.
OK, I decided to experiment. How far can I go?
First steep – it’s 2pm. We are preparing to go grocery shopping, just a little tea before we go. It’s a warm day.
The Pai Mu Dan helps us get into a calm place before the shopping storm. This first infusion is velvety and sparkly – I’m drinking mine unsweetened. It has some mossy, foresty undertones and a solid white/green tea taste with no bitterness whatsoever.
It’s now 10:10 at night, and my better half has a headache, whereas I’m thirsty. Time for that second infusion.
The tea is doing the trick for both of us. This time, it’s woodier. The small amount of sugar I’ve added gives it almost a honey finish.
It’s now 6am, and I’m up an about, and in severe need of some refreshment. I steep the leaves in almost half a litre of water. Again a small amount of sugar.
A great start to the day. really cleans the palate.
While drinking it, I’m editing a video about it. So I know fancy another cup.
LITTLE BIT OF TIME TRAVEL->
It’s 7am, and the Pai Mu Tan has run out of legs. I’ve used 2 grams, infused more than 1600ml of water through it over two days, and it’s very pale.
The taste is like a supermarket green teas bag, though without the bitterness.
It’s time for these leaves to be returned to the earth. They have given much.
Farewell, sweet tea!