328 Tasting Notes

70
drank Schisandra Chinensis by Infussion
328 tasting notes

This was a sample, kindly sent by infussion, and I admit that while it was my pick, it took me a while to get the courage to try it.

I was unsure of dosage – I used maybe 20 berries for 3 dl of boiling water, and let it steep some 6 minutes maybe. It´s a very pale infusion, but I think it is just strong enough for me. Any stronger would be way too much.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omija_cha

This is supposedly 5 flavour berry. Magical seeing the dark berries. Omija cha. I wanted to try this, thank you infussion!

And it is a very very strange thing to drink. So far, am unsure what I think though I can already say on its favour – it´s better than hibiscus!

I can not say I detect all 5 flavours – no salt IMO, but there is a pungency which reminds me of pepper. There is a woody quality as well, a bit like juniper or cedar. And a lot of tartness, sourness – but I don´t find it unpleasant at all, I do mean it I find it much more palatable than hibiscus.

This could be a lot of fun in blends, particularly fruit blends.

I tried eating the berries, and it is uh, interesting, but no way could I eat more than a couple. It sort of reminds me of sour plums, both the tea and steeped berries – which luckily I like.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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96
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
328 tasting notes

This is an amazing tea – the hype had mostly passed me by, I confess I tend to ignore a lot of reviews of teas which would be difficult for me to find. Ordering tea from outside the EU is risky, anything past 100 grams is subject to tax (and delay and flat fees on tax) and less than 100 grams the shippping so expensive for the quantity. I just might have to risk it because of this.

Angrboda very kindly and generously picked this for me in my last swap. After checking steepster the expectations were raised, and somehow how this lives up to it.

I can´t really add anything new to the great, complex tasting notes already done so not even going to try. This was somehow lighter than I expected (not a problem), and it is indeed magical at evoking scents of other things, while being tea, just tea. Chocolate, malty, vanilla-y and at second steep almost peppery – reminds me of another tea I loved, Theodor´s Milky Oolong which is also magical. Really fabulous tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

I drank a cup of this while fixing breakfast today :)
Glad you got a chance to try it!

Angrboda

I do that too. I automatically just assume that new names are out of reach, although I tend to be mostly hung up on shipping fees. It’s quite rare that I actually go and look them up. Sometimes I get a pleasant surprise when I notice that it’s actually a place I can shop at. :D Discovering a new shop is always twice as fun, though.

cteresa

I am a bit scared of customs – it´s not paying the 6% or 23% (yikes, harder) but the whole fuss and flat fees. European Union is OK, out of Europe, a bit scarier.

I still got plenty from your sample (thank you! a treasure indeed) and I am going to enjoy it very much but I just might bit the bullet and order from then when this is back on stock. They have free shipping on orders above 70 dollars IIRC? Did it work well?

Terri, it is a small world! Loved it.

Angrboda

It seems to depend on where you order from. I have more frequently been asked to pay customs on something coming from the US than something coming directly from China (although that has happened once as well. A TeaSpring order was held hostage for a WEEK before I got it). There is a small number of American vendors that I will shop with. Verdant is one, but I only shop there very infrequently and primarily because of this tea. I’ll try the others when I’m buying this one, but probably wouldn’t shop there otherwise. It’s one of those special cases. I can’t remember if I ever pushed it above $70 for free shipping, though.

cteresa

I am definitely considering ordering this when it is on stock – though 70 dollars worth of it no!

Hallieod

Here the post is pretty relaxed about duty, as long as it’s not much over the allowance, which is something like €45. But woe to you if you have a package from outside the EU shipped by UPS or FedEx. They are just MEAN and charge a massive handling fee for paying even a small amount of duty. You could always use my address if you want to order from Verdant and I’ll pop it on to you. They ship USPS so it would not be a problem!

Angrboda I’m so much less sensible than you about US companies – I got so sick of having to check shipping policies every time I read a tempting tasting note that I devoted a little notebook to it! I’ve already got info on about 30 or 40 companies. :) Not all US, obviously.

cteresa

Hallie, oh that is a good trick! Though sometimes companies change policies – I ordered from Harney in early 2012, decent shipping, checked again one year later, shipping was 3 times as much (40 dollars or something. And nothing worth it).

And I just checked with verdant, shipping was a reasonable $8.50 , so I did a pre-order of the laoshan black while bravely ignoring everything else. When it arrives, I will have to send you some – though I think question is, when, it will take some time I guess. But could not resist (thank you Angrboda, it was indeed fantastic!)

Hallieod

Ugh, change of shipping policies is mean, as is $40 shipping. Though that’s about Dammann Freres price to Ireland, which still makes me crazy cranky. Thanks for the offer, but have to admit I tried some that sil sent me, and I wasn’t that keen. Will try to explain later when I’m not doing one-handed typing!

cteresa

Yep – though I think teas can change a lot from batch to batch and their reaction to local water is always different.

And you are posting a lot already, am amazed! But it can surely wait!

Hallieod

True, and I gather there’s a big difference between the autumn and spring harvests for the Laoshan blacks.

:) you’re not seeing how very long it’s taking me!

cteresa

And just to add, that is some nerve from Dammann! 40 euros to ireland, and they are not even that good – Mariage Frères and Thé-o-dor (both of which are better tea companies in two very different styles) have about 25-30 euros shipping to Portuga. And they have much more varieties of rooibos – this is quite silly but I am so picky about rooibos and have been drinking a lot of rooibos lately and getting new good rooibos is also a deal breaker for any tea order. If I am going to spend money on shipping I want to get food rooibos as well. One of these days I will indulge in a biggish Theodor order. Mariage Freres I can get here, Theodor no, and I am jonesing for more Carpe Diem and more Milky Oolong and a lot of other stuff on my wishlist.

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90
drank Tribute by THE O DOR
328 tasting notes

Oh my, this is like drinking marzipan – but in a good way!

Another sample very kindly sent by Ysaurella ( we have both been placing Theodor orders, and comparing them. It will not be my last order though!), and this is, as expected, great. I have no associations of galette des rois or almonds with Epiphany (almonds for us are a Easter thing instead and never bitter almond), so I can not compare it. But the taste of this tea is indeed almond almond with a bit of bitter almond to give it some punch. As usual, a very smooth base underneath.

I was chancing to drink this while nibbling on a bit of chocolate covered lemon peel, and that is a highly recommended combination!

PS – actually, because mostly I have been drinking rooibos lately, bitter almond would be a perfect flavour for rooibos (with vanilla!). Does anybody do it? My beloved Carpe Diem blend is sweet almond with raspberry and strawberry, but a bitter almond could be very interesting indeed with rooibos. Maybe caramel, vanilla and bitter almond?

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

I’m glad you appreciated this one too. I’m in love with Tribune this is really an Ode to the French Galette des Rois(the “north” of France one)-so delicious !

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85
drank Tzar Alexandre by Mariage Frères
328 tasting notes

Just to up the rating on this a bit – the more I have it the more I like it. It is going to became a favorite, the mix of smooth smoke and bergamot it´s just so right, and I find the tea itself so smooth, so refreshing.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C
Ysaurella

smoke & bergamot reminds me the blend Pouchkine from Betjeman & Barton, very nice.

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75

This is a beautiful blend. Just beautiful, to look at and its perfume. And one of the most feminine tea blends I have ever tasted. Not girly, girly is a different thing, this is more grown up, much smarter and a bit mysterious. But and there is a but, it is not a tea for me.

It´s a floral, in a mix of black and green teas. Osmanthus, lotus and jasmine and they say some pepper. I think lotus is a note I dislike in general, I even bought some cheap vietnam lotus tea to check it (and ok, because of the tin, which was ohhh so pretty, so not a total waste of tea) and lotus definitely is a floral too floral for me. Here it is sort of balanced. But no matter how beautifully scented and intriguing it is, I keep finding this way too sultry somehow for my taste.

I sweetened this without thinking, it was a stupid idea and a mistake indeed.

Even if not a tea for me, it is so beautiful that I will try the rest of the sample Ysaurella (merci!) sent me with pleasure. Not at all bad, sublime at being that sort of thing, it is just not my cup of tea.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

agree, this is not THE Theodor blend.Like you Lotus is not my favourite flower in tea.

cteresa

Nope. But it´s so beautiful this tea – the leaf and the scent. Really amazing. Pity.

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90
drank Rouge Sahara by Mariage Frères
328 tasting notes

Well this was an unexpected dud, but one which made me realize something about the peculiarities of my personal likes and dislikes.

I love rooibos, but I am very picky about rooibos – the base has to have certain characteristics. Some rooibos bases I dislike, seem musty or woody or even silty to me. But when rooibos is good, I do love it and it´s an extremely comforting evening drink. It´s far more difficult to me to find good rooibos than good tea, I got 3 (plus one south african supermarket brand which is an occasional random find) brands whose rooibos blends seem great to me – apart from those ocasional finds which seem good, but many others I do not even come close to finishing.

Mariage Fréres is one of my reliable rooibos brands, and wanting to try something new, the saleslady recommend this as her personal favorite. It smelled different, so minty, I decided to give it a (small) try. It´s rooibos with a lot of dried mint and rose petals, not sure if it has extra flavourings.

And the problem is with the flavouring – this made me realize I dislike dried mint leaves steeped in boiling water. I love fresh mint, I like mint in green teas (which do not steep in water so hot), but plain mint tisanes, noooo. Mint and boiling water, it is like the mint leaves this oily hint of bitterness which I dislike. And that was the problem here – I used boiling water and the mint had that oily boiled-mint thing and that was indeed a problem for me. Now I do not know what to do with is, I like rooibos very hot and very long, but if I do that the mint is going to annoy me. Will try again with water a bit colder, to see if there is rescue to this.

TLDR: Mint and boiling water: no-no. Mint only for lower temperature teas.

PS – also not a good rooibos for my late at night rooibos since I leave the spent leaves on the gravity infuser overnight. I never had a problem with smells (apart from the time I tried something with another variety of mint), but there is a definite minty overtone in the strainer now. This really is not a rooibos for me.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Ysaurella

too bad but you have now a new material to swap

cteresa

I have not quite given up yet, am going to try to brew it colder just to see – the review was more to make me remember my new insight into boiled mint being very much a dislike for me. And share in case other people also have a problem with it.

I, roiboosista that I am, have a problem with not having enough (rooibos) teas! I have 10 times more of other kinds of teas than of rooibos, but I am so picky about what I like with rooibos and somehow, because I always have rooibos in the evening and I like rooibos strong, examining the composting tea (it does not smell, really) half the tea I is rooibos. I am sniff running out of proper rooibos (do not pity me, I am a total snob about what is proper rooibos, and well it is a motivation for a tea order one of these days).

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84

If only all green teas were like this …

A sample so kindly sent by Hallie (and yes I am breaking my two caffeine teas a day rule. Temptation is too hard to resist…), I was glad of a chance to compare with the dragon wells I could find locally and there is not much of a competition – this is really much better. At all levels. Weird taste note – there was a nutty taste which is lovely and which I can not quite describe. The seller mentions chestnuts, not to me – for me it was something more like pumpkin seeds or something even greener… Lovely just the same, even if impossible to describe.

PS – downrating this a little bit. Tried to resteep and it does not work! Second steep was extremely weak, even using my tricks of much less water and hotter, and third steep was plain hot water. My generic worse-quality dragonwells are more generous. I think it is usually unfair to expect a tea to be re-steepable, it does not work with ALL teas nor should it have to – but this is a dragon well and can not help comparing it to other dragon wells!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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77
drank Nepal Black by DAVIDsTEA
328 tasting notes

I had been intrigued by the idea of Nepalese tea, and was so glad when Angrboda sent me some in a swap (I have an embarassment of riches of swaps to try. It´s a lovely feeling, except am trying to be good about too much caffeine.. the pains of too many new so-delicious seeming teas to pick. Thank you Angrboda! Nothing is forgotten and unappreciated even if I take my time to pick it).

This is very interesting – it´s like an Assam on a few things (malty! astringency), but a bit “rounder”. It is a little bit “hay”-like Darjeeling style, but not quite. I don´t get any honey notes, but I get a raisin sort of quality which seems Muscat. It is sort of sweet. The dry leaf had aniseed like notes, but nobody seems to have spotted anything like that, so it is possible I am imagining it – I don´t get it on the liquour anyway. So at the same malty and muscaty, which is interesting and good.

I brew it wrong, I think I used too much leaf or water too hot, it turned out a little bit too astringent for me – but still drinkable which would not have happened with an Assam.

I definitely want to explore more Nepal teas even if this particular one might not be the “one” for me.

PS – it is better with some milk and sugar. I am not usually a milk and sugar person but this is a milk and sugar tea.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec
Ysaurella

some teas need milk and sugar to help a little ;)

Mercuryhime

I agree with the milk and sugar assessment for this one. It’s a shame since its a bit pricy.

cteresa

Ysaurella, I have to remember that sometimes – it is not my default mode admittedly. I had the most wonderful surprise with one of my standard rooibos lately, with milk and sugar became a sort of amazing milk shake thing!

Mercuryhime, did not know it was pricey though! I have been stalking a particular Nepal tea from Theodor which is(was) quite moderately priced (around 7 euros for 100 grams) but it is sold out – OTOH I will probably only do the Theodor order I have been planning next Autumn. 9.50 canadian dollars (or is it canadian) for 50 grams of this is a lot I think.

Mercuryhime

It is 9.50 Canadian. For something that I’m going put milk in I think anything more than $5 for 50 g is too much. The one from Theodor sounds reasonably priced!

cteresa

Maybe too reasonably priced, it´s been sold out for months! Only in tins and Theodor tins are NOT reasonably priced (20 euros, no matter the tea, except some more expensive teas which are higher). I am afraid that when it gets back on stock it will be more expensive, like they did with their sublime Milky Oolong which is now quite a bit more than it used to be. Though I just might be fool enough to rebuy that…

Angrboda

I’m glad you enjoyed it, even if it could have been better. Husband quite likes it, I’m a little more ‘meh’ about it. I think it’s probably a little too high-grown for my preferences. :)

cteresa

I enjoyed it and thought it was so interesting – I got to try to find out if I got an altitude bias as well.

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85
drank Cocotte by THE O DOR
328 tasting notes

This is the famous tomato tea, which I have been intrigued by for ages and never been able to find on stock even in places which usually have it on stock – who knew that tomato tea sold out? Ysaurella came to the rescue and sent me this sample and I could (finally!) try it. Thank you, Ysaurella!

This is a very unexpected tea : flavoured darjeeling, with tomato and lemon. Recently I was talking of vegetables which fruits (tomato, pumpkins, peppers, avocados, etc) and vegetables which are fruits (rhubarb). Tomato is indeed a fruit, in my country a popular jam is made with tomatoes and I know someone who snacks on tomatoes as if they were apples (or carrots, now I think of it). So of course, tomato should have a chance to be something more. And it is very typical of Thé-o-dor teas that they experiment with it (and also typical that they could make it work).

I am not usually a fan of darjeeling and apart from Arya Rose d´Himalaya I do not recall ever having a flavoured darjeeling. I was very very careful brewing this, water was perhaps a smidgeon too cold, and used a timer for 2 and a half minutes. It was still a bit astringent, though IMO a desirable level of astringent for the flavours – but this is going to be indeed a tricky tricky tea.

The dry leaf is beautiful, and smells of hay-ish tea, lemon and tomato with the lemon being more noticeable than the tomato. While brewing the scent changes, the ripe tomato becomes the predominant flavour and I worried I was going to like this after all. The liquour thankfully has a more subdued, less liquid somehow (oh the irony), tomato note, lemon becames again noticeable. The non-verbal parts of my brain like it and do not care what it is. The verbal ones are still trying to figure out how came this works, but works indeed.

This is the strangest tea I ever tried, and amazingly it is good. It tastes not like an experiment or something meant to just shock, but well, it tastes perfectly finished, an interesting very eccentric tea which is so smart.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Ysaurella

I’m glad you like it :)
I put a biggest amount of this one in the sample bag because it’s a tricky tea to brew…Hope you have enough to try it several times. I wasted myself 3 full mugs before getting a correct mug.
Now I had this one I might dare tasting the Toupet de Légumes tea…

cteresa

I had your tip on how to brew it, so the first cup was OK! It is a little bit astringent, but I sort of liked it, tomatos are also a little bit astringent themselves, it worked. It is so strange, that darjeeling works so well with tomato – wonder if this blend started out from the tomato or from the darjeeling with flavours.

Toupet de Légumes, ah that seems even more brave – that should be a 50 grams tea. I confess I am also curious. If anybody could make it work it would Theodor. And these “different” teas, Cocotte or Adele H they are so pleasant when you are bored with the regular stuff…

Lindsey

Ohhh, I think I may have to start a quest to find this one myself! I’m fascinated by the idea of a veggie tea – especially a tomato tea! (Well, tomato-anything always gets my attention, to be honest!) I do enjoy a nice savory cuppa.

cteresa

This might be one for you then Lindsey! Though it is a tricky one to brew right. And they have a Toupet de Legumes tea with peppers and zucchini which maybe one day I will try! This tomato-lemon somehow just works….

Hallieod

Great tasting note! It’s funny because the Golden Monkey I sent you has the usual tasting notes but the smell to me was first and foremost stewed tomatoes. Which I love and therefore my mind was more accepting of the sound of this tea. :)

cteresa

I have not gotten to it yet, but will keep it in mind! I just made a cup of the zhen qu and am now pondering it (it is lovely, oh a chinese black tea, and maybe this is what you mean by too round…)

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86
drank Rose Congou by PureAromaTea
328 tasting notes

Oh, this is a classy classy rose congou. I was comparing it with my random generic rose tea from this old tea (coffee actually) shop and this is so different.

Not that the generic tea is bad, it´s actually pretty good (and the 100 grams I bought before this one was good, though this latest batch is not the same. They deny being a different tea, maybe it was due to freshness or being crushed or just differences with the blender. The problem with “generic” teas), and large enough leaf. But this is quite different – less roses, and a different rose smell. The generic tea is more full of rose petals (pretty filler but adding very little to flavour) and is richer in aromatic oils (oil can became bitter and just cloying). The generic tea is more one-note rosy. This tea has a different, more complex, more realistic but just as intense rose smell. Its leaves are also a smidgeon bigger and plumper. It brews much more subtle and much smoother. A very classy tea, if that description makes sense to anybody but me.

Notes – it is of course a rose tea. I usually find rose teas sort of fruity , in this case it reminds me a tiny bit of grapes.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 15 sec
Ysaurella

yes I can see perfectly what a classy tea is

Hallieod

I’m so glad you liked it! I was feeling a bit unsure, given the number of amazing French floral blends you have, but figured it would be interesting to try anyway. Made me think of tea roses, rather than other varieties of rose. Ysaurella, I’ll send you some too.

cteresa

Awww, not all french floral blends are amazing (though I admit I am a bit of a francophile when it cames to flavoured or blended tea). This is just lovely by any standards, and the seller site seemed very respectable indeed.

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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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