2182 Tasting Notes

80
drank Vanilla Orchid by DAVIDsTEA
2182 tasting notes

Rarely am I that drawn to one of DavidsTea’s new flavors, but this one was intriguing to me and early reviews were positive. Vanilla flavoring on an orchid oolong, could be promising. It was actually the main tea that I wanted to get a sample of when I went to DavidsTea on Bleecker a couple of weekends ago.

I didn’t even thing about it until just now, but I do have another vanilla orchid tea that I like, but it is a black tea base. Vanilla is an orchid itself, after all, and very fresh vanilla beans can have a lovely, light floral quality.

The steeped tea smells nice, very floral and orchid-y, but also super sweet and creamy vanilla accompanying it. This is quite a lovely tea! I am really enjoying it a lot. A great balance of creamy vanilla and floral orchid oolong. I’m really quite impressed, and I could definitely see myself stocking more of this.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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88

I ordered this tea quite a while ago, but never got around to trying it because I didn’t have a scale to weigh the leaves and wasn’t confident on my ability to estimate. Then I finally brought my kitchen scale into work, but still I forgot that I had this tea and now could drink it, until just the other day. Well, I’m finally trying it now.

Let me start out by saying that I am attempting to follow the “dragowell style” steeping instructions on Verdant’s website. However, I am a little miffed that the instructions on Verdant’s site say nothing about the size of the “glass tumbler” used in this method. A medium sized gaiwan, I know what that means. There is not a standard size of a glass tumbler. :P

My cup is about 8oz I think, for anyone looking for the sizes people have used. Otherwise, I followed the instructions. Except for the fact that just about the entire batch of tea leaves is floating on the top of my in a thick layer (and my mug is a wide mouth!), making “blowing them out of the way” nearly impossible. I am definitely eating quite a few leaves, not exactly on purpose. Not to mention that in attempting to blow the leaves out of the way I am mostly succeeding in blowing water all over the place (the water moves, the tea leaves don’t!). This is not exactly an enjoyable way for me to drink a cup of tea.

With all the fussing and such, I couldn’t even concentrate on the tea. What I did taste was tasty, with a nice buttery-bakery flavor that I like in dragonwells. But this experience was not conducive to a review. I just don’t forsee myself brewing it this way again. Gaiwan/teapot it is, next time.

Mark B

I hate hearing that you didn’t have the best experience with this tea. Here’s my two cents. Hope it helps:

If you’re going with the tall glass method, I would at minimum recommend a ten to 16 oz tempered glass. I’ve used everything from a pint glass for beer to standard cooler glasses like you’d find in this image search:

http://goo.gl/jShf0

I usually go with double wall tumblers that I talk about in my profile. Either way, my tall glass method for consuming ALL Dragonwell/Longjing teas, regardless of cup choice, is to first warm the cup with hot water and pour off. Then I introduce about 3 teaspoons of tea give or take depending on size of cup. For instance with my 10 oz I can get away with 2 to 3 teaspoons, depending on how much volume there is to the leaf (sorry this is not an exact science, but more feel). If it were a 16 oz tumbler I might go tablespoons.

Maybe this will help; most samples come 5 to 7 grams. If I were brewing this from a sample, I’d use the whole thing. Coincidentally, when I measure by eye, 3 teaspoons usually ends up to be 5-7g.

Anyway, So you warm the glass. Then drop those leaves in the glass and give it a nice swirl or shake in the warm damp environment. Give it a whiff. Right?? Let the journey begin.

Now take water in temp ranging from 175-185˚F and pour along the edges of the glass until you have about an inch of water in the bottom. Swirl the tea gently around in the glass for about 30 seconds to wet the leaves and prime them for steeping. For water temperature, if you don’t have a thermometer, I find boiled water will get into this temperature range by filling your cold glass, and then pouring it off into another while you go through the first prep stages. This warms the glass and cools the water at the same time. It’s particularly effective with thick tempered glass as the glass retains a lot of the heat. Then, while you drink, as your boiled water sits in the kettle, it will naturally fall in temp while you do multiple infusions. Mind you it may fall below temp, depending on how long you take, and heating and decanting can help get you back into the ballpark.

So, after a 30 second swirl you can now fill your glass, leaving a little breathing room. Leaving room is just civilized, and if using a filtered tumbler, it’s also practical. Some would say you let the tea steep until 80% of the leaves drop. I don’t find this to be the case, particularly with high quality teas. A 30-45 sec 1st steep is plenty, maybe even less depending on how strong you like your tea. Consider that you’ve already primed the leaves for 30 secs in the first stage…

Now decant your tea into another warmed glass. Use a filter if you must, or simply a fork to hold back the leaf. But here’s the trick, leave a “root.” A root is about 1/3 of the water, enough to keep the leaves covered. Enjoy your first infusion.

For the second infusion, I’ll fill the glass again, but this steep is usually pretty short, maybe 20-30 secs. My logic is that the root has been sitting for a bit, the leaves have yielded a lot of flavor and thus it’s not going to take much to get where I want to go. Use your nose and eyes too. How does the color look? Does it smell like it’s ready? Sometimes I’ll even give the glass a gentle swirl to distribute the leaves more evenly. Drink and enjoy. Assuming you’ve left a root and were using a 10 oz glass, you’ve just enjoyed two 5 oz cups of tea.

For the 3rd infusion time may be a bit more of a factor. Your water temp may be lower (and you may be too lazy to get water up to temp), so you may take longer. I’m usually lazy, and my waters usually dropped to about 160. So this turns into 45sec-1min steep. Leave your root, drink and enjoy.

Steep 4 is where I usually drain my brewing vessel and call it quits, but your experience may vary. Again with my lazy water temps, I might fill the glass and let brew for a while. This might sit for upward of 5 mins while I drink my 3rd infusion, or get lost in something else.

When it’s all said and done, 5-7 grams of tea yields about 24-30 oz of liquid goodness.

Now I know this is not quite the same method that David outlines at Verdant, but the results for me are quite dependable. Hope you find the same. Sometimes, when I’m on the move, I drink directly from the glass and add water as I go, but I prefer to decant. When I’m not decanting I prefer to use a filter and refill the glass even before the half way point, otherwise I find the tea too strong.

For the videos that got me started on this method, check here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kff7OxaWhM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl_r3ZGxmfY

Invader Zim

This is extremely helpful. I could never get the tumbler method to work for me, but I’ll have to give this a try!

Dinosara

Wow, thanks for the comment Mark. Those are quite detailed instructions!

My main problem was that the leaves never sunk, in fact the ones on the bottom floated to the surface! And there was no decanting in the instructions, but I definitely do need to decant. What you describe is basically how I experienced green tea tastings in China, so I should have definitely just tried to go with that. Thanks for the suggestions.

ashmanra

Wow! Thank you for taking the time to type all of that out and link the videos, Mark B. I was unfamiliar with that method. I can’t wait to try it!

Mark B

Glad you folks like the info. Report back your results!

Dinosara, I find the leaves don’t sink when the water temp is not high enough. But using the method I outline, they always eventually descend, especially on the 2nd steep. It’s a fine line of temperature there though.

Also, I didn’t mention it, but I NEVER cover my glass. I find this tends towards stewing the leaves, which is not what I’m going for. It changes the flavor profile dramatically and a lot of the subtlety can be lost. Let’s call this more gently coaxing the spirit of the tea out until it submits!

ashmanra

I watched the timer on the video and the majority of the leaves plummeted at almost exactly three minutes.

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70

This one intrigued me with the promise of berries, citrus, and florals, so I asked for some in my last swap with Alphakitty and she was kind enough to send me some!

To me, the leaf looked suspisciously like a black green blend, but no one has mentioned this at all, so I thought I was probably just hallucinating something. I went ahead and brewed it boiling, and most of the leaves in the infuser appear black, though I will say there are a few greenish-tinged ones that are intriguing.

Nontheless, the resulting tea isn’t bitter or scorched like a green might be when steeped at that temp, so I guess everything is ok. This tea is super duper berry-licious. It is berry to the max. I can’t really pick out a specific berry, necessarily, but it’s definitely berry. Maybe some black currant, yeah. It’s honestly perhaps a bit too much berry for me, and I would like it if the berry might step back a bit and let someone else have a bit of the spotlight. Because there are other flavors, playing in the background. A bit of bright citrus, for sure, and a hint of florals. Not really that floral, just a bit of orchid somewhere in there. Anyway, it’s a pretty tasty tea but it’s a little too in-my-face with the flavoring and I’m not quite feeling that this morning.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Alphakitty

I think the berry flavor on this one is strawberry, it’s very strong!

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74

Yet another that has come to me thanks to Alphakitty! This one was high on my list of wants because lychee and jasmine? Sounds like heaven to me. I meant to drink this one yesterday when I was doing all my lychee teas, but I forgot. But today I remembered! It seems like forever since I’ve had a green tea.

I admit I have become pretty skeptical about blends that appear in among many retailers, acquired from some unknown wholesaler, and this seems to be one of those blends. However, this one is still pretty well done. It is floral but not perfumy, and the lychee is juicy and delicious. It goes well with the green tea and makes me wonder why you don’t see many lychee green teas. It’s a light and refreshing tea, and my only criticism is that the flavors are a tinge artificial. Like, not chemically, but the lychee is a bit candy-ish instead of being all fruit, and I would like more floral notes from it, actually. Still, this is a pretty tasty blend. Thanks for sharing it with me, Alphakitty!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Invader Zim

This sounds interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever had a tea with lychee in it.

JC

Sounds nice. I’ve had black tea with Lychee. Just great either hot or cold. Never had it with Jasmine as well.

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78

This is another that comes to me from my recent swap with Alphakitty. Thanks so much! Of course I love Earl Greys in many forms, so I was excited to try this one that is supposed to be Earl Grey and caramel.

This is rather delightful! Really nice, citrusy bergamot, definitely a nice Earl base to the tea, but then the addition of caramel is just lovely. Creamy and perfectly balanced. This reminds me of another tea but I can’t think of any other caramel Earl Grey that I’ve tried. There are enough flavors going on here that I didn’t notice the black tea base one way or another, which is a plus because at least I wasn’t bored with it. It supported, it contributed, but it wasn’t the star, and that’s ok, it still held up it’s end of the bargain. This is quite a delicious tea, thanks for sharing it with me Alphakitty!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

This is one of the one that I think Tony (my SigO) would maybe like.

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76
drank Cheeky Lychee by DAVIDsTEA
2182 tasting notes

One of my other recent lychee tea acquisitions. This one I bought myself a few weekends ago when I stopped by the DavidsTea store in the city. I have been interested in trying this one for a while but keep just missing it during swaps and such, so I bought a half ounce to try.

The dry leaf on this tea is potent and smells of a fairly flowery lychee, somewhere between a fresh fruit and lychee candy. I love both, so that’s fine with me. Steeped up, the liquor smells really nice, but the flavor isn’t as strong. Also the base tea is somewhat boring and doesn’t contribute much in my opinion. I will definitely try this one again with more leaf to see if I can boost the flavor, but there are a lot of lychee teas out there and this one doesn’t really compare flavor-wise.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Nik

But I love the name! =)

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79
drank Lychee Congou by Simpson & Vail
2182 tasting notes

I decided today would be lychee morning, as I recently acquired a few lychee teas and I kind of want to try them at once. This one comes to me from Rachel Sincere in a swap, thanks for sending it!

I think I’ve only had one Simpson & Vail tea before, but I enjoyed it and they tend to get good reviews, so I am excited to try this one. I love a good lychee tea.

And this is a good lychee tea! Lovely lychee flavor and a nice, robust, tasty base tea. I said on the previous S&V tea I tried that the base reminded me of that of Upton’s Rose Congou, and that is definitely the case here. I find this lychee to be not too flowery, actually. A pleasure to drink, and nice as a slightly more subtle lychee flavor than some others I have tried.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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63
drank Persian Rose by Tay Tea
2182 tasting notes

I feel like I made out like a bandit in my most recent swap with Alphakitty because I got sooo many samples of teas I wanted to try! I’m drowing in tea samples, and I’m very excited to try all of them.

I plucked this one out of the pile first because bergamot + rose = love, for me, and this blend also has cardamom and borage, which I didn’t know what it was at first but is apparently a mediterranean herb. I realized that I think I have seen this tea company at the NY Coffee and Tea Festival before, but I’ve never noticed this tea there I guess.

Steeped, it smells like a delightfully rosy Earl Grey. Unfortunately the taste is a little lackluster. As in, it doesn’t taste like much! The flavor isn’t very strong, and overall the tea really dries out your mouth and doesn’t really have even much of an aftertaste. I also get the impression that steeping it longer would just end in bitterness.

Oh well, thanks for the sample, Alphakitty! It’s good to know ahead of time since this company doesn’t sell small amounts of their teas. I will go back to savoring my Bergamot Rose Laoshan Black. :)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Alphakitty

I think this one suffers from age—I have been hoarding it for over a year, and the flavor has definitely toned down a lot.

Nik

I love drowning in samples!

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74
drank Raspberry Leaf by Birt & Tang
2182 tasting notes

So I realized a little too late in the game that I was out of the raspberry tea from Monterey Bay Spice Company, which included raspberry leaf in the blend. I would drink it about once a month for some woman-specific symptoms, if you get my drift, and I needed some right away and couldn’t wait on an order. I thought about checking out Whole Foods, but then I was at a Home Goods store (sort of a reseller of all kinds of homewares, including some foods like jams, cookies, and teas) and happened across a box of this tea. Score!

This actually isn’t pure raspberry leaf, it also apparently includes raspberry fruit as well, though I’m not sure in what form. They are tea bags, but that is fine for an herbal tea. An extended steep yielded a yellowy, herby-smelling tea, and I rather pleasant flavor. It’s quite sweet, a bit fruity, and a bit herby. I wouldn’t say “yes, very raspberry!” to the flavor, but it’s certainly tasty enough. Very pleased with my find.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Indigobloom

raspberry leaf certainly does the trick when you need it! my dependency on tylenol has gone down :)

gmathis

Can you tell if the raspberry does anything for the pre- and post- symptoms, not just those requiring pain relief?

Indigobloom

I feel that it does, moreso if I eat and exercise right, otherwise it’s more pain relief than anything.
Could be cumulative though, I’ve heard it helps if you drink it a few days beforehand as well.

Dinosara

I haven’t tried to drink it in other circumstances besides pain relief, but I will definitely try it out. Every little thing helps!

Indigobloom

I agree!! anything to lessen the torture!:)

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70

I don’t often return to a tea this quickly, but I was just really curious about this one. The black tea base on this seemed so nonexistant that I wondered what would happen if I just added another teaspoon of black tea to the mix. I’m logging this under this tea instead of Chance Combinations because it’s really all about this tea. At first I was considering adding sometime like a Panyang Congou sample I have around, or perhaps some Laoshan Black, but then I decided, you know what? I really want some chocolate in there. So I used the Tea Spot’s Organic Chocolate “O”, which, for those of you who don’t know, is a single-estate, high quality flavored tea. I actually did 1:1 mix here, and just added more black tea to almost the normal amount of this tea that I would put in my cup, so we’ll see if it doesn’t turn out too strong.

Not too strong, but I might dial it back a bit next time because it is edging on too strong. However, it does have a nice blend of pumpkiny flavors and the rich chocolate underlying it. It’s definitely a more enjoyable cup with a base that actually is interesting, so I’ll definitely be putting some various different interesting black teas in whenever I steep this one. It will be interesting to see what might be the best one!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I am tea obsessed, with the stash to match. I tend to really enjoy green oolongs, Chinese blacks, and flavored teas with high quality bases, especially florals, bergamot-based teas, and chocolate teas.

In my free time I am a birder, baker, and music/movie/tv addict.

Here are my rating categories, FYI:
100-90: Mind-blowingly good, just right for my palate, and teas that just take me to a happy place.
89-86: I really really like these teas and will keep most of them in the permanent collection, but they’re not quite as spectacular as the top category
85-80: Pretty tasty teas that I enjoy well enough, but definitely won’t rebuy when I run out.
79-70: Teas that I would probably drink again, but only if there were no preferrable options.
69-50: Teas that I don’t really enjoy all that much and wouldn’t drink another cup of.
49 and below: Mega yuck. This tea is just disgusting to me.
Unrated: Usually I feel unqualified to rate these teas because they are types of teas that I tend to not like in general. Sometimes user error or tea brewed under poor conditions.

Location

Ohio, US

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