327 Tasting Notes

73
drank Cider Guayusa by Butiki Teas
327 tasting notes

This is something different indeed – I had never had Guayusa before (never even seen it for sale), and never had a Butiki tea either. Thanks to Courtney I now got the chance to try it.

This smelled absolutely heavenly when dry. Real apple with a bit of cinnamon – the orange and cloves will take on faith and indeed it is a more complex scent than “just” apple cinnamon. I have been a bit shy of brewing this, afraid to screw it up, and that it might not smell just as great as it does. I finally took the nerve to try it.

I used a bit more amount that I would have if it had been tea, and having learnt my lesson from mate, I was afraid to scald it so temperature was in the 80-90 range surely (Celsius). Never having had guayusa I can´t really compare to other blends. The apple scent is indeed transmitted to the flavour and it´s as complex as it promised to be, absolutely lovely flavoring.

I can not judge for its energizing properties just yet – I wanted to do the taste note with it on front of me, in order to not forget anything, will edit later.

But underneath the flavouring (lovely indeed), and ignoring its yet untested effects, judging this just by how pleasant a drink it is: meh about the guayusa. It tastes a little bitter at the back of the tongue and somewhat astringent, with a hint of an herbal-grassy sort of taste. The mouth-feel is well, watery, without the pleasing body of tea or rooibos. I will try different ways of brewing this a bit, but am afraid if I try to intensify the body by adding more leaf or hotter water it will also intensify the hints of bitterness. Any tips?

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Butiki Teas

Hmmm, I’ve never noticed any bitterness and I usually do 1 1/2 tsp of guayusa with boiling water for 6 minutes and sometime overleaf when I need some extra caffeine.

Hallieod

Ooh, that mix of flavours sounds delicious.

cteresa

Butiki, thanks, I will try with water a bit hot. The bitterness was more of an aftertaste, at the back of the mouth as I swallowed – and when paying attention, the main flavour is indeed very well done and strong.

Hallie, it smells delicious and it tastes delicious – though am not sure guayusa is for me (caffeine for caffeine, give me tea instead!)

Ysaurella

it’s a pity I can’t send you any Good morning sunshine tea !it was lovely but I only had a sample of this. But I can send you some othe BT if you want, but not guayusa…

Courtney

Guayusa certainly has a distinct taste. I love it straight, but the only way I can describe it is like taking a sip of the jungle haha! I use 98 degree water with guayusa though, perhaps that will help next time :)

cteresa

Ysaurella, thank you but not so sure I am or will became a guayusa fan (otoh it is smoother than mate, but mate also seems more effective at giving me energy).

Courtney, will try, you sent me enough to try it a few different ways, thank you! Flavouring is absolutely lovely.

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90
drank Baya by THE O DOR
327 tasting notes

I have right now, two different rooibos mixes from two of my three favorite rooibos providers, both sultry mixes named in hommage to southern islands – this Baya which is supposed to evoke Île de Réunion, and Mariage Fréres´ Surabaya a hommage to Java. And suraBAYA and Baya, get it?

And they are totally different teas, while both matching the description of sultry rooibos. I made separate, previous tasting notes about Surabaya, just mentioning it because the coincidence is funny.

This Baya I had smelled but not had a chance to buy (strategic decision of picking other teas) a few months ago, and I had promised myself to get it next possible chance. It got here, and it was slightly different than remembered. The official word is that it is rooibos with vanilla, ylang ylang, nutmeg, jasmine. The more poetical descriptions of it also mention pepper and passion fruit. Pepper is not particularly noticeable at any level but indeed there is a fruity note which seemed pineapply-or-passion fruity (more likely) to me.

This was, to my tastebuds, sublime. Very intensely flavoured, maybe a rooibos for people who do not like rooibos, and an unlikely but unbelievably good mix of flavours. And perhaps more strangely, the flavours change in the mouth, there is a fruity like smell which you can feel in the front of the mouth/tongue, but as you swallow there is a vanilla-ylang sweetness at the back of the tongue and then also that touch of the nutmeg. A very interesting sensory experience, this tea seems to work at different levels. I absolutely loved it – the vanilla is strongly there and bourbon (reunion? how appropriate) vanilla, and the touch of ylang is a delicious addition to it. Jasmine is not too strong, but just a hint, melds with the fruitiness of the passion fruit (surely there is some?) and then a touch of something deeper which is quite probably the nutmeg. And a good, smooth (nearly undetectable except in that structural body) rooibos underneath.

I am not sure I love this better than Carpe Diem, another huge favorite Theodor rooibos – let´s see with acquaintance. I do love it better than Marabout which was also an impressive rooibos mix.

Ah, anecdotal, but this seemed to have a very efficient and pleasant digestive-help effect.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 15 sec
Hallieod

Awesome description! Is this the first tea with ylang-ylang you’ve had? It sounds as if it would easily overpower with its sweetness, but that may just be in essential oil blends for aromatherapy. :)

cteresa

First tea with ylang indeed (though I have had Mariage Fréres´ plain ylang flavoured tea on my wishlist for a while. one day). I like ylang, and it seems to work so very well with the vanilla (lots of vanilla here, vanilla is magical with rooibos) and the rest here. Just gives it a sort of warmth. It´s not a strong note at all.

Hallieod

That way of it working in a supporting role with the vanilla does sound great. I should probably try to get over my ylang-ylang prejudice, though I’ll never like it as an essential oil.

Devilish

Wow this sounds amazing! Too bad this is not available in Hong Kong…

cteresa

Oh, that is a pity – I really love Theodor´s flavoured rooibos. It´s extra dunno, an extra flair at combining flavours which really works.

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87
drank Adele H by THE O DOR
327 tasting notes

I just managed to order (with difficulty and problems sadly!) some new Thé-ô-dor teas from a local retailer. Cocotte, the famous tomato darjeeling was on my wishlist but out of stock. This was instead a rather random pick, but wow this is unexpectedly filling the wish for a strange surprising tea.

I would probably not have picked it if I had smelled it before buying. It smells like pepper, black pepper, with peach and some unidentifiable flowers and just a bit strange somehow. It brews slightly different, less flowery, all (to me, at this first acquaintance) just tea, peach and black pepper. It´s a complete (but excellent) taste dissonance to have the unmistakable strong black pepper with the peach, but it was coup de foudre, love at first sight (or first cup). That pepper and fruit, it somehow works (for me. I suspect this will not be everybody´s cup of tea). I think this is the cure to me being tired of nice polite flavoured teas which seem samey-samey and forgettable. No way anybody could confuse this flavoured tea with any other flavoured tea.

The base is lovely, smooth but strong Assam. I am reminded, as I was by Mandalay, that chai is not just any tea with spices. This, like Mandalay, is a tea where a spice is essential, but without being in any way a chai.

I am slightly in love with this tea, unexpectedly. So lovely.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C
Ysaurella

I was hesitant about this one yesterday while on theodor website.Nice to know it is a good tea.
I finally bought…nothing ! because Je t’aime was out of stock and Thé du Loup as well…
I hate the Theodor website ! too much idiot descriptions (not idiot but unhelpful to choice a tea…)
So Adèle H has pepper…not so surprising if we think to the movie histoire d’Adèle H :)
Victor Hugo made beautiful poems for Léopoldine, it was fair François Truffaut dedicated a movie to Adèle and Theodor a nice tea !

cteresa

It is nice, but it is a tea I recommend with care. It´s wonderful to me, but the pepper is strong, I am sure it will be a hate it for many people.

I detest the stupid descriptions at the Theodor site as well! Precious, precious and useless – there is a trick, I search for an ingredient or part of the name of a tea to show an intermediate page with a small useful description – I edited a ton of their teas here on steepster to make for easier reference to those.

I never had je t´aime – thé du loup I loved, but one of the new arrivals is the yet untried celebration, which might be a serious contender for thé du loup. It´s also chocolate and hazelnut and smells like dark chocolate mousse drenched in frangelico and with extra chocolate on top. or something. It can not live up to what it smells!

This Adele H is indeed a good hommage! A rebellious tea one as well, a different one, one not possible to confuse with any other. But one must love pepper !

Sil

This sounds delicious!

Ysaurella

you cannot imagine how much I love pepper ! my friends are always like “but when do you stop to drop pepper from the pepper mill on you meal ????” it takes me at least 2 full minutes :)
But I’m not a huge fan of salt

Sil

omg i just saw your note on “celebration” that sounds amazing..

cteresa

Sil, celebration indeed smells like that – it can not possibly live up to that expectation, I warn myself. I am saving it for a special occasion though will find an excuse for it as soon as possible ( mother s day maybe?)

Ysaurella, I also love pepper! But I did not expect to love it as the predominant note in a tea and after all, wow. And I confess I am now wondering about their on va se revoir … I am drinking baya now, which is another unlikely sounding tea flavoring combination and sort of divine. Theodor is very good at unusual I think.

Adele h is, I have now thought of the word, an eccentric tea which is so much fun.

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70

This was a cup I had on a tea shop, on my effort to try to get darjeelings. I did not prepare it.

There is a definite rose flavour to this – many times weaker than regular run of the mill china rose congou, but there has to be some extra flavouring here. I had misunderstood and though it was unflavoured, that the rose was metaphorical, so not quite what I was expecting. I did not much like it, but then again me and darjeelings are not too friendly.

I suspect preparation was not quite perfect, infusion time was up to me, and I think I overbrew it slightly. But a tea to not buy, and will keep trying good quality (UNFLAVOURED!) darjeelings whenever I get the chance.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

what did you dislike a little in this one finally, rose or darjeeling base ?

cteresa

I did not dislike this per se. Or better said, I disliked that it did not match my expectations (for unscented tea), though that was a problem with my expectations.

Disregarding that disappointment, I just did not love it. And I would never pay that price for this – though will keep trying to try good darjeelings!

Ysaurella

this is a brand new one by MF and the price is high yes 15 €/100 gr

cteresa

I had seen the name of the blend before in the same shop, maybe 2 years ago. But yes their tin was new and almost totally filled. Maybe a rebranding? And yes price was like that! It was good they served it by the cup so I can try – though sadly it can backfire, I ordered by chance , not knowing the price, a pot of silver needle and fell in love – it was 30+ € per 100 gr ouch. Maybe one of these days 50 gr or at least more teapots of it

Ysaurella

it’s a seasonal tea, each year you have the one. Like with the Sakura series – I bought the 2000 but you have one new for 2012,2013 and each time in a new tin…23 € at least !

cteresa

Ah, that is it then, this is likely the autumn 2012 picking then!

Hallieod

I’ll send you some of the Palais des Thés Darjeeling I got recently, in an attempt to “get” Darjeelings a bit more myself. It’s hard getting to grips with a kind of tea you don’t get though, isn’t it? Unless you’re hand-guided to a great example of one by someone with very similar tastes, it’s more than a bit hit and miss. (Though rose-flavoured tea masquerading as pure tea with its inner soul showing in the taste of rose is annoying!)

Cloe Tsopanarea-Skabili

“Rose d’ Himalaya” used to an excellent Arya Autumn 3rd flush Darjeeling with a NATURAL aftertaste of rose! A very subtle and refined tea! This particular Arya garden that produced this rarity burned down in 1998. The shop still reproduces and sells a tea under the same name, adding rose oil to a regular Dargeeling. Really NOT the same.Your impression was absolutely right!

cteresa

Ah, that old one with the natural taste, would love to have tried it. So sad about the fire.

And thank you very much for the information, very interesting!

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87

A sample kindly given to me by Angrboda, thank you so much! This was sort of a random pick, whatever was closest – I needed to cleanse my palate after a really bad tea (“japanese” green with quince, from the cutesy gift shop. I am a sucker for quince and was looking for a quince flavoured tea but I should have known better! At least it was cheap but OMG it tasted so so so cheap) .

I had never had white tea with jasmine before (though I had had it with a touch of osmanthus) and this is lovely. Very good quality tea, and there is an underlying woodsy-ness beneath the flowers which gives it depth, which I quite like. But there is a but, while I like jasmine teas very much I think I prefer my white teas plain or more lightly flavoured. I like jasmine with green tea – not sure if there is a real judgment there or it´s just due to familiarity.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Angrboda

I’m so glad it went somewhere appreciated. It was wasted on me. :)

cteresa

Thank you it was lovely and resteeped well

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80
drank Mandalay by Mariage Frères
327 tasting notes

Spring, after taking its own sweet long time to arrive, decided to pretend to leave after all. It´s cold and windy, very disappointing. But it´s making me turn to my tea corner and drink and sampling those samples I was saving, as a treat and a way to cheer up.

Mandalay was another sample so kindly sent by Ysaurella. I had been so intrigued by her references to it. And this is just not what I was expecting. I was expecting a chai, and while this is spicy, it´s a totally different type of tea.

I had today just tried a perfume (mother´s day is coming. everybody wants you to try perfume, you can not walk on the street past perfume shops without being offered a sniff). It was a woody spicy ladies´ perfume, with a cedar base and flowers, patchouli maybe. And in my mind this tea is irresistibly linked to that perfume – a sort of “dry” floral with woody overtones. In the perfume it was cedar, here it is the spices, cinnamon (which I guess is woody as well) and others (cloves? cardamom?) and then a bit of rose indeed, but the mix of roses and cinnamon tastes melded somehow into something woody rather than separate. A very interesting taste.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C
Ysaurella

it seems you liked it so I’m happy :)
yes you’re right this is a woody taste and it comes from cinnamon.I didn’t have the impression to describe a chaï in my note, did I ? I am not very good at chaï as I didn’t had many so I may have described it without knowing :)
I really love this tea because this is an absolute incredible meeting of spices and rose…and I’m a sucker for rose teas and spices teas !

cteresa

I think there is something from the cinnamon plus rose which calls to mind at once woodsy perfume to me – even that cedar based perfume I tried myself.

I think it was not at all your fault I expected a chai, I think it must have been from overbrowsing the MF site or something. Tea with spices =/= chai or not always! Chai can be so abrangent, but this, to my mind, most definetely is not.But woodsy indeed…

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74
drank Après la pluie by George Cannon
327 tasting notes

I do not have a lot of experience with Pu´er – and the plain ones I have had were sort of awful to my palate. The flavoured ones I have found easier to drink, but keep in mind, I have very little experience with pu´er teas.

This was kindly sent in a swap with Ysaurella and she had not tried it yet when she sent it to me, so no brewing tips. The Cannon website seems totally useless for anything (and flash should die….) so I have been experimenting with this. My problem with it is trying to make it strong, or better said intense enough.

My first experiment with water round 80-85 and my usual ammount of black tea resulted in a mellow earthy sort of cup, but a definitely too weak one – very intense color and a sort of thick texture to the liquor (there has to be a word for it, but totally escapes me), and a nice mellow yeasty almost type of flavour, with some vague vanilla and peach-mango hints, but very watery somehow. I amped up the temperature to 95 degrees, and steeping time to 4 or 5 degrees and used 50% more leaf than I would think to use and it was much better. A nice cup of tea. But still not particularly fruity. And my brain finds the different tea-ness of pu-er baffling.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 15 sec
Hallieod

Hah, just said something exactly like that about puehr to Stacy of Butiki Teas about teas I might be interested in sampling. She seems determined to make a convert out of me. Thick texture and yeasty flavour isn’t making it sound like an easier job though.

Ysaurella

you know…I haven’t tasted it yet !!! I bought it because of its name (I know…I am crazy)and because I wanted to taste a Pu’erh (due to fantastic reviews done by Bonnie, The tea Fairy and Tommy the toad about pu’erh) and wanted to try something flavoured first because…I am afraid of Pu’erh !!! you know what, because you had it today, I’ll try it tonight…mais j’ai un peu peur quand même…
this website (Cannon related mentions to steep it 5 min at 90°c)

cteresa

Hallie, it is not very thick texture nor particularly yeasty, it was just me trying to find a metaphor. It´s like a dark ale sort of , as compared to lager sort of think.

It is very interesting and for some reason, it´s deeper, more earthy. It´s still a bit strange to my palate, but I can not help comparing it a bit to rooibos which so many people seem to dislike ;) but which I so love…

A word of warning, I have only had cheap plain pu-ers which have been awful, and a couple flavoured decent-at-least quality ones which have been very nice indeed. I suspect it´s not worth it to spend money on the cheap ones!

Ysaurella, thank you and for this as well. 5 minutes and 90 seems indeed a good idea – and I think also add a little bit more than you would have added if it was a plain black!

Hallieod

Ah, gotcha. Stacy said the sample she was sending wasn’t at all fishy or too earthy, which made me gulp a bit, but I’m also excited to try what should be a really good one! (Internet connection is still very patchy, sorry I’m dropping conversations!)

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drank Black Orchid by Mariage Frères
327 tasting notes

I am not going to rate this yet, because I am not quite sure what i think of it. My second time having it and not only my feelings changed from the first experiment, but my feelings are changing as I drink the cup.

First, the scent – this has an extraordinary scent, a rich, sultry vanilla scent, totally different from cloying one-note artificial vanilla scents and a scent which reminds you that why yes, vanilla is a flower, an orchid (ok, yellow orchid which then creates a black pod, and yes, it´s the seed pod, but still vanilla is floral). Sultry vanilla caramel, that is it. This went on my wishlist the moment I smelled it. Right now I was in the mood for a vanilla tea, and I went on a walk which accidentally took me past the tea shop and well, it came home…

Expectations are funny things which get in the way of appreciating what we get instead. This tea is not truthful to the scent. It´s much more sedate, much less exuberant, maybe classier than its scent. No caramel after all. So I was underwhelmed at first, since it was so very different from what I expected from its scent. But if what I was expecting this as a lightly naturally flavored vanilla tea then well this is indeed lovely. It´s got an incredibly smooth base (thank you Mariage Frères, for not using the same base for *everything) which I think has some, but not a lot, of Assam on it. And a lovely aftertaste. I am getting to like this more each time I have it, I will make another taste note after I have it a few more times.

Angrboda, not sure this will be your vanilla tea indeed, but if you ever want to try it, let me know!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 45 sec
Angrboda

I’ve actually got that one on my list (along with a great many other things) for whenever I get around to making an MF order. Probably soon, I think. I’m feeling inspired to try shopping somewhere I’ve never shopped before. I can’t remember ever having had something with orchid before, but I’m not certain. I would not be opposed to a swap.

cteresa

This is a very interesting vanilla tea, though not sure if it will be what you want. It´s a natural, background like sort of vanilla. And the orchid is just vanilla, vanilla is the orchid of this title – LOL the orchid pod, but I think they do not add blossoms or anything. Black orchid = vanilla.

In Turkey they use a flavoring made from orchids called salep, though I think they use the roots (like iris roots) and it is has this light floral (even if it is from the roots!) flavour, it´s lovely! Salep would make for a very interesting flavoured tea.

I would love a small swap!

Angrboda

Oh, of course! I forgot vanilla is an orchid plant. That makes sense. :)

I’m afraid I don’t have an awful lot to choose from, but have a look if there’s anything you would like. Otherwise, I’ll just make something up. :)

cteresa

Sent you a message, was writing it! You know, your pick sounds great, surprise me – scented, natural, it is all tempting!

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78

Now it´s getting hot I have been trying different ways to brew this up. This taste note is a DO NOT DO AS I JUST DID warning.

I liked this brewed hot. I wanted to try a cold brew, which I just did – 4 grams of tea (which is a lot of volume, I weighted it and surprised myself at how much it was), half a liter of cold water left in the fridge overnight and then strained. And it turns out: bitter. Either it was much too long or too much tea.

I get some citrus yes, but I get an acrid bitterness mostly which is not pleasant. I did not use sweetener and not sure it would have improved it anyway, it´s not tartness which often can be rescued and improved by sugar, it was a different type of bitterness.

Weirdly enough, the older the tea (strained) got the more bitter it seemed to me. Despite that, I did drink almost all of it – I wanted to test if it was really that bitter and try to figure out where I went wrong. And as an energizer it did its usual work! A different type of wake me up than coffee or tea, a smoother one IMO.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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82
drank Frutas del Bosque by Cuida Te
327 tasting notes

Happy story with this tea, it´s now ubiquituous and easy to find (Continente, 3.95€ and the tins are reusable). Cheap thrill yay. I am now on my third tin. But a warning this tea is ONLY ANY GOOD ICED!

Hot, it´s too much hibiscus with too strong a fruit flavour. But if I make it very strong, add lots of sweetener or sugar and cool it, I love it.

My recipe right now, is with digital scales add 12 to 15 grams of the tea to a teapot. Add 1 liter of boiling water and let it stand a couple hours or overnight. I usually add a lot of sweetener and sugar to this, maybe 8 teaspoons or even more – I usually never have sweetener or sugar with hot tea but this really is much better with sweet to balance the tartness. Chill it very well and it´s awesome. Even if it does have hibiscus.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Hallieod

You figured out how to beat the dread hibiscus!

cteresa

I think I have learned to tame this one, though sadly it´s just a one off!

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Profile

Bio

Inconstant tea drinker – I mostly drink tea when not too hot. I hang around steepster much more frequently in (northern hemisphere) cold season.

- Teas -

I like all sorts of tea, flavoured and unflavoured, though I am picky. I am always willing to try anything new. I am now particularly interested in single origins.

I am one of those people who actually loves Lapsang Souchong. I am not crazy about Earl Grey, in general. I don´t quite get Darjeeling teas, but I am trying to make sure …

I like rooibos, though not all bases. I loathe hibiscus. I do not like fennel/liquorice/anise in blends or teas with chicory. I am picky about what I consider true cinnamon.

As you can probably tell from my cupboard, the brands I find more interesting right now are Mariage Fréres,Thé-o-Dor and Yumchaa.

Location

Portugal

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