904 Tasting Notes

If I hadn’t known this was a first flush Japanese black tea, I’d call it a second or an autumn flush Darjeeling.

It’s very aromatic. The dry leaf smells so much like a Darjeeling even down to the musky, green chillies/leaf, desert earth/incense descriptions I tend to give to those teas. Very floral in the nose and mouth. Lots of smooth and rich grain-malt and muscatel (plus some other fruitiness I can at best guess say is passionfruit) in the first two thirds of the sip, then in the back of the mouth it flattens out. I had Keak da Kook take a few sips this morning. She said when she swallowed it was like toilet water in the back. Ok, Keak. Other than that she enjoyed the flavors and aroma and so did I.

Thanks for sending my way White Antlers! I think I shipped some off to Leafhopper. If so, I’d love to see that tasting note :)

Flavors: Earth, Floral, Fruity, Grain, Malt, Muscatel, Passion Fruit, Round , Smooth, Spicy

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML
White Antlers

You’re welcome. Looking forward to leafhopper’s note, too.

Leafhopper

Derk, you did send some to me, and I’ve been searching for the optimal steeping parameters. After using 4 g of that Laos black tea in 355 ml of water, I was worried what such treatment would do to this tea. Maybe I’ll use 3.5 g and see what happens. :)

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86
drank Laos Somneauk Green Tea by What-Cha
904 tasting notes

Reminds me more of sheng puerh than a green tea. Aroma is very forward and fruity with apricot, mango and green olives, maybe a hint of butter. Taste is more like briny olives than fruit. Bitterness has a cactus character. It is minimal but has the potential to dominate with longer steeps. It sits deep within this kind of heavy, earthy-mossy impression which is in turn balanced by a gentle honeyed clarity.. Spicy-cooling finish stimulates the throat. Overall, a bit rustic and unrefined but I’m enjoying it.

There’s room to play around with this tea. The suggested parameters are low temp and low time but I kinda like what longer steeps are doing for it. I’ll try upping the temp next round.

Not yet sure if I’d recommend it, or even where this falls in my ratings system but it’s a solid palate cleanser following lunch :)

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Butter, Camphor, Drying, Earth, Honey, Mango, Mineral, Moss, Olives, Spicy

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65

Leafhopper said this black tea from Laos was riddled with tannins so I made a breakfast of huevos rancheros to prime my belly before loading up on what sounded like an ass-kicker of a tea. This and the Laos Somneauk green tea from What-Cha are my first known experiences with Lao tea apart from leaf processed in the sheng puerh style.

I more closely followed What-Cha’s suggested parameters than Leafhopper did with their brew. Two flat teaspoons came out to 3g, so I did my usual 1g:100mL for black teas prepared western style. Brewed with water off the boil.

The dry leaf smells rich with a prune-cherry-tobacco midtone, bottomed out by caramel and orange and topped with chocolate and orchid. The aroma is chocolatey both in sense of cacao nibs and cocoa-vanilla along with cedar and a hint of orange blossom. The sip is pretty dang tannic but not overwhelming. It’s a bold, stout tea that tastes like cedar, oak, fruity tobacco, twigs, spent barley malt from brewing, blackberries, light honey and a kind of powdery-floral cranberry. The mild aftertaste presents with crispy, buttery blackberry-filled croissant, citrus and prune. A second steep tastes more like your basic black ‘tea.’

If I hadn’t known this was from Laos, I’d guess it from Vietnam, Africa or Assam but it does seem to have characteristics of black teas from China, however varied they are. It’s not smooth enough to call to mind Taiwanese tea. Overall, I think this would be a fine daily drinker for people who like a sturdy, strong black. It offers some decent, refined flavors to pull it out of the basic breakfast category and the aroma has that chocolatey comfort. For me, I like my black teas kinder to my constitution since I often drink them on an empty stomach.

I do have a fair amount since this was a 50g Mystery Tea. If anybody would like to try a black tea from Laos, let me know!

Flavors: Blackberry, Cacao, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Chocolate, Citrus, Cocoa, Cranberry, Dried Fruit, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Oak, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Pastries, Plums, Tangy, Tannin, Tea, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML
Leafhopper

I’m glad you were able to get more from this tea than I did. Following the instructions more closely might have helped!

derk

More from it, yeah, but maybe about as much pleasure. It’s way too bold and tannic for me. Still a good tea for people who want that wallop.

Leafhopper

LOL, I can’t say I was sad to see it go. Maybe it would be better with milk or cold brewed.

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A 357g cake of this is now going for $923.99.

Initial flavor like sour plums and witch hazel, some smoke but it’s not the star. There’s a little upfront sweetness that hits the tongue and also hits the top of the palate, marshmallow with a hint of date. Bulang green tobacco bitterness which initially numbs the tongue becomes less pronounced after several infusions. I think the Mengsong material lends some florality and a light and refreshing, cool, sweet finish. Session ends with accent of date flavor. The rinse liquid and final drips from each pot display turbidity in the mason jar – a sign of active fermentation? The leaf quality is good on this one and I don’t get any bits of chop or char in my cup.

This is the most balanced and not boring of the 3 price-gouged Dayi sheng I’ve had recently. You decide if it’s worth the current $2.89/g. For me, no way in hell. That is nowhere near what I paid for my 8g sample a few years ago… I’d recommend this one if it weren’t so expensive. It has a nice punch and smooth, long-lasting caffeination.

Song pairing: Scatman John – Scatman
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy8kmNEo1i8 LOL Did my tea make me feel this way?

I’m getting more comfortable on my board. I feel like I’m riding way more relaxed now. Kick turns are getting easier, dropping short elevations easier, tic-tac no problem. This week I want to work on dropping off curbs and riding switch (which would be normal stance since I’m goofy). I’m totally going to rock the gmathis shawl while riding this week!

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Dates, Dry Grass, Floral, Forest Floor, Licorice, Marshmallow, Mint, Olives, Pleasantly Sour, Plums, Smoke, Sweet, Tobacco

Martin Bednář

Dang… no way getting a cake for that price! And even the price of today is… not only overpriced I guess :D

Courtney

Love hearing the update on the skateboard!

gmathis

Must see photos!

Leafhopper

Prices like these are one of the reasons I’ve stayed far away from puerh! If I hated this tea, I’d feel ripped off, but if I loved it, I could never afford it again.

derk

gmathis, my camera crew refuses to work pro bono but I might be able to get Kiki to take a pic.

Leafhopper, this is a far outlier. The current price might be a result of a wacky investment market across the world or price control by Dayi. Seeing what kind of money you spend on certain teas, most puerh worth drinking lies within your budget. Most vendors, like King Tea Mall, offer samples :)

Leafhopper

I’m glad to hear that most puerhs aren’t that expensive. I’m definitely willing to spend on teas that I think are worth the price, especially if we’re talking about 25 g samples and not whole cakes.

tea-sipper

I like puerh but….not that much.

mrmopar

Don’t mess those ankles up! I’m too old to get on one of those things again.

Natethesnake

Wow! At $2.89g for young Dayi I don’t feel too bad for paying $1.50g for top shelf Chawangshu.

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45

This tea is all nose and no mouth. Loads of rose perfume. And the base green tea sucks. The aftertaste is a little lemony but mostly like walking past some obnoxiously perfumed wannabe high-brow and getting some of their scent in your mouth. I get where Bird & Blend was going with the idea. If this blend were re-imagined, I bet I’d enjoy it given I like green tea, rose and clove and love cinnamon and red peppercorn but the balance is all sorts of off.

Thanks Martin for sharing. It’s not so bad for me that it won’t get finished but it might take a minute ;P

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Dry Grass, Floral, Lemon, Mineral, Peppercorn, Perfume, Rose

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
Courtney

“some obnoxiously perfumed wannabe high-brow” hahaha!

derk

True class is in character and developed over time. This tea could use a re-vamping :E

Martin Bednář

Sorry you didn’t like it. I didn’t either! As you wrote… balance is completely off. Too much rose, less of spices. Idea was great!

And I agree with statement “scent in your mouth”. It’s indeed like that.

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88

Thank you Dustin for sending this across the bay! This might be my favorite of the three Laponic teas I’ve tried.

Cooked cranberry aroma that’s mellow and deep with a tangy high tone, a bit of rosemary. The tea is full-bodied, brothy and lightly brisk. The heft of the flavor is from the black teas, contributing oak wood and a touch of earth. Equal measures cranberry and rosemary are layered seamlessly throughout. Using cranberry flavor I can understand but also rosemary flavor instead of the leaf? Maybe the leaf is naturally too overpowering to create the desired effect. There is also another layer to the tea that takes me a moment to notice, an airy quality maybe contributed by the oak moss flavoring, maybe also by the elderflowers and dried poppy petals. The airiness carries through into the aftertaste with subtle minerals and a bit of cool rosemary, leaving a gentle feeling of being refreshed.

I’ve really enjoyed sampling the Laponic white, green and black teas. They’re very focused on the essence of northern environments — very natural woodsy aromas and tastes.

Flavors: Broth, Cranberry, Earth, Herbs, Mineral, Oak, Smooth, Tangy, Wet Moss, Wet Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 15 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML
ashmanra

That sounds lovely!

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81

Oh glorb that smells good. Hot Buttered Rum it is, with a touch of smoke. If I were drinking this blind without knowing the name or ingredients, I’d say it smells rich, sweet and somewhat dark, like butterscotch mixed with caramel right as it reaches its smoke point. Throw in some vanilla-spiced cola syrup for good measure. I got sidetracked and came back to the brewing tea 10 minutes later. Even then, the entire cup was very smooth and mineral. Taste was milder than the aroma but still pretty good. Woody, rummy and a touch earthy with spiced cola syrup. I can differentiate the ginger better in taste than in aroma. Finished cup smells like a cinnamon sticky bun, spiced rum.

My morning cup, which was brewed properly, was the same! Seems like I’m the biggest fan of this tea thus far. I very much needed a No Fuss, Comforting, Easy Tea Day — this nailed all three. Thank you, Martin :)

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Butterscotch, Caramel, Cinnamon, Earth, Ginger, Mineral, Pastries, Rum, Smoke, Smooth, Spices, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
Martin Bednář

Aww, you liked it! I am glad. It is indeed smelling very nice; but for some reason I wasn’t that much fan of taste.

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82

Fly-by note. I haven’t had the desire to analyze teas lately.

Autumn 2018 harvest. Very rich aromas and flavors with a beautiful chocolate note that reminds me of a Laoshan black but more refined. Gentle roasted peanut mingles with the chocolate, some tobacco-earthiness and florality. A good amount of stonefruit in the undertone of the first steep lifts up the darker midtones. In the second steep, the undertone moves herbaceous. Lots of texture, the full body with modest astringency manages to also feel light, smooth and silky. Elegant tea, really. Too elegant for my tastes but highly recommended.

Maybe more details in the future, or at least the addition of aroma and flavor descriptors at the bottom of the note.

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drank Destiny's Chai by DAVIDsTEA
904 tasting notes

Steeped 1 tsp in 10oz for 4 minutes and woo yeah that’s fire! My kind of caffeine-free masala chai. I mostly taste spicy hot cinnamon and ginger, lesser black pepper and cardamom and maybe a rooty zing from teh ginseng. The ashwagandha not so much but I’m used to the starchy, parched earth flavor of whisking a 1/2 tsp of powder into almond milk and simmering. The cloves come through much more in the aroma than in taste. I love how the heat of this one warms my whole head and lingers in the mouth, but as it dissipates I notice that ‘fake sweet’ cinnamon flavoring sticking around which I don’t like.

I bet this would stand up to simmering in any milk of your choice; however, with the amount of cinnamon, I think it might overpower the other spices. I have one teaspoon left and will try the rest of it either on the stove with milk or brewed with a bag of rooibos. Thanks, Leafhopper :)

Flavors: Black Pepper, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Spicy

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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75

We’re prepped for the big rainstorm rolling through. Took down all the windchimes haha, tarped what needed to be tarped, set up the pump for our yard prone to flooding, brought in some firewood in case the power goes out. Cold and wet, I came back in with freezing hands and knew this tea from Martin was what I needed to cast away the chill.

Made one cup for me and one for Kiki. This sips with a clean, fairly mellow herbal-sweet peppermint followed by the hot spice of ginger that dominates the red peppercorn. The red peppercorn also provides a hint of its exotic floral-fruity perfume. I could swear there’s also cinnamon in this because I feel like I taste it mid-mouth, but unless it’s an added flavor it isn’t in this blend. It’s a smooth, clean tea that I think gets some minerality from the puerh. Though I can’t necessarily taste the puerh’s trademark earthy flavor, I know its there and supporting the herbs and spices.

I like it. Kiki likes it. Simple, smooth and spicy and a good soul-warmer. Thanks, Martin :)

Flavors: Cinnamon, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Ginger, Mineral, Peppercorn, Peppermint, Spicy

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML
Courtney

Rainstorms are one of my favs! Hopefully the power holds up, for the love of tea!

derk

I’m a fan, too. Hope Todd here on Steepster, who lives in an area hit by wildfires this year, won’t get any of the accompanying mudslides. As for tea, nothing a gas range, a stovetop kettle and a pack of matches can’t fix :)

Todd

Some areas nearby got evacuated, but we should be fine, thanks! We have a generator, backup internet, and we’re working on getting dial-up as a backup backup internet!

Lexie Aleah

We had mixed snow and rain here along with a small storm.

gmathis

Peppercorns! Yum. Y’all be careful.

Martin Bednář

You are welcome. Happy to see it comes handy, though not really a winter for you. At least it was drank after being outside :)

White Antlers

We are still waiting for snow that will probably not materialize. Rain is a big deal in CA. Stay safe.

ashmanra

Prayers from NC! Stay safe!

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Profile

Bio

Tea Habits:

Among my favorites are sheng puerh, Taiwanese oolong, a variety of black (red) teas from all over, all teas Nepali, herbals, Wuyi yancha. I keep a few green and white teas on hand. Shou puerh is a cold weather brew. Tiny teapots and gaiwans are my usual brewing vessels when not preparing morning cups western style and pouring into my work thermos. Friend of teabags. Hold the milk and sugar unless we’re talking masala chai.

In my late teens, home-brewed unsweetened Lipton iced tea was the drink of choice to combat cottonmouth. The following years saw the appearance of the odd box of tea from Trader Joe’s. About 4 years ago, walking out of the parking garage where I kept my motorcycle, I came across a move-out dumpster treasure: single serve packets of what I can look back now and say was Wuyi yancha. Yes, I drank dumpstered tea and honestly, that’s what blew the doors wide open.

Preference Reference

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.

89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be great daily drinkers.

79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.

69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.

59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possesses off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.

Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.

Character Rundown:

Boring pandemic hermit whose only current hobbies besides tasting tea are skateboarding and learning herbalism. Will update as the times change.

Location

Sonoma County, California, USA

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