964 Tasting Notes
The dry leaf of this is long, spindly, and a dark matte brown. The leaves are relatively straight, rather than being all twisted and curled up, and there isn’t much evidence of silver, white, or gold leaf tips. Dry, they smelled kind of fruity and woody, like prunes or bark.
I brewed this tea twice, and in so doing used up the entire sample. First, I did a traditional western steep with a giant mug — 2.8 grams of leaf in 2 cups of 95°C water for 2-3 minutes. After steeping, I had a sip that tasted of rose and citrus, like a Ceylon tea. However, it was much too hot to drink so I let it sit for a bit; while the fresh tea was a warm amber colour, it darkened considerably once it cooled. The cooler tea also tasted quite different, because the flavour turned from citrus to something more resinous, like camphor or pine.
The remainder of the leaf was brewed up gong-fu style in a gaiwan. I used 5.3 grams of leaf in 95°C water, started with a 20-second steep, and increased each subsequent steep by 5 seconds, ultimately getting about 6-7 steeps before letting things rest. Each steep of tea produced a cup of beautiful amber-coloured liquid.
And here is where words fail me, because this tea was so good. Every single steep I had smelled like cinnamon. And not just your bog-standard chai cinnamon sort of smell. No, this stuff smelled like whole cinnamon sticks, like cinnamon and sugar. Sweet, spicy, tingly, vibrant.
The taste was quite different, though, and that camphor/resin note I experienced when steeping it western style showed up again here. It felt very herbal and healing, like I was drinking some sort of tincture meant to restore my health. I could feel the dry woodiness of it all the way into my sinuses and nasal cavity.
As the steeps continued, the cinnamon note of the aroma started to give way to something fruitier, like plums or prunes. For one magical steep (steep 5? steep 6?), the cinnamon and fruit notes were balanced perfectly so it smelled like apple cider! If I could have every cup of tea smell like that, it would be a happy world indeed.
After 7 or so steeps, I called it a night, and gave the gaiwan a last loving inhale: the aroma of the spent leaves was plummy, malty, and rich. The leaves were also easy on the eyes, too, a beautiful rich brown:
Assuming the day ever comes where I manage to get my tea collection under control, I would seriously consider giving Zen Tea’s Taiwan Ruby Black Tea a permanent spot on the shelf.
Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/05/taiwan-ruby-black-tea/
Sipdown! Well, sorta.
I’ve had this tea for nearly a year and a half, and while it’s good, I also have some buckwheat from Yunnan Sourcing that I need to drink too. So I took the last little bit of this (a few tablespoons worth) and instead of drinking it down, I baked with it!
I blitzed the sobacha in a small food processor until most of the groats had broken down into flour. Then I added some white flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to create a crumble topping, and made an apple crumble with it!
The crumble has a nice, warm, bready, nutty note to it that’s really interesting. A fitting way to let this tea bow out.
Oh, and plus: I saw Civil War last night, and it was awesome. AND I JUST BOUGHT THE NEW RADIOHEAD ALBUM AND I WILL LISTEN TO IT NOW AND EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.
The dry leaf is long and twiggy, but somewhat broader across. Some of the dry leaf is so brightly green and wide that it makes me think of a white tea, actually. This is some pretty aesthetically pleasing leaf!
When I first opened the packet of tea, I was greeted by an intensely vegetal aroma that reminded me of Chinese tea. It was buttery and beany, but underneath there was a surprising undertone of sweetness.
I brewed it for 80°C for 2 minutes, as recommended on the package, and that resulted in a tea that was a pale straw green colour. The smell of the brewed tea was pretty similar to the taste of the dry leaf: vegetal, nutty, and buttery, like a dragonwell tea.
This held up upon the first sip, too, but that sweet undertone made comeback — underneath the vegetables and the butter, I sensed an intensely sweet note that, rather than being fruity, reminded me of the neutral, inert sort of sweetness that you get from syrup or icing sugar. Weird!
Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/05/russia-host-tea-estate-what-cha/
The dry leaf looks long, dark brown, and twiggy, and smells richly of citrus and raisins.
I took about 2 grams (enough for larger mug) and steeped it for 4 minutes at 90°C, as per the instructions on the package.
The resulting tea was a cool umber colour and smelled malty, robust, citrusy, and raisiny. It reminded me of a Ceylon tea, but it wasn’t quite as sharp. The first sip was a surprise, though: it was somewhat thin-tasting, but also floral — it made me think of lychees.
I brewed the remaining leaf in the packet a few weeks later and it was similarly thin, fruity and floral; it reminded me then of cherries.
Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/05/russia-host-tea-estate-what-cha/
This is a tea I bought out of a mixture of curiosity and hope. Curiosity because jasmine and ginger are such contrasting flavours, the former cool and gentle and serene, the latter spicy and forceful. Hope because I have heard that ginger can be great for soothing upset stomachs, and I’ve got this weird stomach pain issue that I have yet to confirm a diagnosis for. Would having more ginger teas in my cupboard help?
The jury’s still out on that. However, I can say that combining ginger and jasmine together in a tea is just as unusual as I thought it would be. Here, small chunks of ginger root are mixed in wholesale with the dragon pearls. The description above says the tea also contains orange peel, but either I didn’t see any or I wasn’t able to tell the pieces of peel apart from the chunks of ginger.
How do I describe the smell of this tea? It’s obviously a combination of ginger and jasmine, but the interplay between the two is so odd. I don’t smell any harmony in this combination — there’s no sense of them being complementary flavours at all. Occasionally the jasmine wins out over the ginger, or vice versa, but overall the mix of sweet, slightly powdery florals and the assertiveness of ginger is, at best, idiosyncratic.
I took about 1.5 teaspoons of dry leaf and steeped it in 85°C water for 3 minutes. The resulting tea was similar in colour to the Jestha Jasmine above, though slightly paler. And like the tea above, the powdery-soft nature of the jasmine was apparent here. But the sweetness and strength of the ginger interfered in a way that’s hard to describe.
I know that there are people that will probably dig this flavour blend, but it turned out to be a hard sell for me.
This blend contains orange peel in addition to jasmine. I’ve imagined for a while that orange and jasmine would be a match made in heaven, so when I saw that this tea was part of the Amoda sale, I had to give it a try!
The thing that I was immediately struck by when I first opened the envelope was just how visible the jasmine was in the blend. Mixed in with the dark green strands of leaf and chunks of dried orange peel were whole flowers. Huge!
However, the leaf didn’t smell like the perfumed onslaught I was expecting. Instead, it smelled mild, slightly vegetal, and slightly floral.
This lightness and gentleness held up upon brewing. I took a big heaping spoonful and steeped it for 2 minutes in 70°C water, as directed on the package. I was worried that this would lead to a weak, nothing-flavoured tea, but I was mistaken — the resulting liquid was a pleasing orange-yellow colour that signalled good things.
And, yup, the taste was just like the dried leaf — mild, gently sweet, and with a texture and softness in the mouth that reminded me of baby powder (in a good way). The jasmine flavour here is wispy and feather-light. Surprisingly pleasant! I didn’t get any orange, but I’m still in love with how gentle the whole thing is.