2098 Tasting Notes

80

I recently received another round of free samples from Teavivre… Angel Chen and the folks at Teavivre are really too generous! And with such great tea. Anyway I’ve had their unflavored Jin Xuan before and loved it, but I was wondering how this one would taste. It’s not often a tea company specifies about milk oolong flavoring, and I am excited to try this one.

In the pouch the dry leaf smells incredibly milky, buttery, a bit fruity, as expected. Even milk oolongs that brew up pretty un-milky start out smelling milky, but this one is more amped up than usual. The steeped tea smells more floral, almost magnolia-ish, with a nice sweet creamy background note. If I smell really deeply I get a cooked-greens note in the lingering about as well. It doesn’t have a really rich baked-buttery aroma to it, it’s a bit fresher scented.

Early sips of this yield a nicely sweet-cream, slightly peachy flavor. You know, for all the flavoring it’s pretty light, and it tastes much like some of the other milk oolongs I’ve tried in the past. It’s pretty tasty, but I’m also pretty sure I prefer their unflavored variety. I will have to try that one again now (I still have some sample packs left from my sample of it) to compare because I am curious. I can’t say exactly why except this one seems less creamy which is surprising because it’s the flavored one! But it just kind of seems like the creaminess is on the surface, not melding with the flavor of the tea itself. I’m unsure because it’s been a while since I’ve had the unflavored.

Thanks so much for the opporunity to try this one, Angel and Teavivre!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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97
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
2098 tasting notes

Ah, back to my tea. Some day I will have a variable-temp tea kettle at home, and maybe air conditioning for hot days, and I will drink more tea at home. Right now its way easier for me to drink it at work!

Once I started getting into black teas I knew this would be high on my list of teas to try. I mean, just looking at the notes on Verdant’s site were enough make me excited. The dry leaf has those molasses-grainy notes I love from Fujian teas, so that’s a good sign already. I followed the instructions for western brewing of this tea on Verdant’s site exactly, which means I used a lot more leaf than I usually do (1 Tbsp per 8oz), but the leaf was pretty fluffy so it probably evens out.

After steeping the tea smells really great. Chocolatey, or maybe more properly cocoa-y, like the smell of my dark cocoa powder. Also a bit grainy, but mostly cocoa-y. The flavor is also very cocoa-y, in that same, unsweetened cocoa kind of way. There’s definitely an immediate aftertaste of having eaten something chocolatey. It’s certainly not bitter in the typical way tea is bitter, but it does give the impression of bittersweet chocolate. It was kind of a distracting morning so I didn’t get to spend a ton of quality time with this tea like usual, but it’s definitely delish. Wish I could have written a more thorough review, but I guess I can save it for next time!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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78

Well I just got in from out of town and I have been inundated with tea! Samples from Teavivre and Fong Mong, and my order from Verdant. I didn’t really know where to start. I did order the Golden Fleece from Verdant but I didn’t want to dive into that one just yet. I decided I wanted to go for a black tea, western steep, from Verdant, and I chose this one. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been getting into Chinese black teas lately, so I was already intrigued by this tea. Then I also read about it’s namesake and I can’t resist a dagger-wielding warrior woman, so that clinched the order.

The dry leaves are very nice looking, dark with golden streaks, spindley and curly. I can’t smell the dry leaf too well but what I do get smells nice grainy and malty. I steeped exactly according to the instructions on the website for this tea (western style). It smells heavenly. Dark chocolate, molasses, grains, malt, and there’s almost a spiciness that tingles in your nostrils when you take a deep sniff, like sniffing cayenne pepper.

The first part of the sip is sweet, almost honeyed, with chocolate notes that kind of shift from a sweeter chocolate at the beginning to a much darker chocolate toward the end. The flavors that build in the latter part of the sip are rougher, less refined than the first flavors. These are a little bit of wood, a little bit of smoke even that tingles in my mouth. Not smoky even like a keemun is smoky, but more the faintest whisp of smoke or maybe like the woody notes are a little charred. As it cools those flavors toward the end of the sip become stronger, making the whole thing a little prickly in the mouthfeel.

I enjoy this tea a lot, but I have a feeling I will enjoy the other black teas I bought from Verdant more. We shall see! It has a rough quality about it that I’ve found in other fine black teas; it doesn’t really keep me from enjoying the tea, but it’s not my favorite character in black teas, at least at this point.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Bonnie

Nice review! I really loved this one finding it with the Laoshan Black and Teavivre Black my top three favorites. Don’t get me wrong though, it doesn’t have to be your favorite! Seems like we got our shipments of the same samples at the same time which will make for interesting comparisons!

TeaBrat

Always fun!

Dinosara

Yes, I’m enjoying seeing everyone reviewing these teas around the same time right now!

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88

I’ve been traveling recently, which is why I’ve been so quiet again. This is another short trip, though, so I’ll be back in action relatively soon.

My parents don’t have a tea kettle so I have to boil water in a pan on the stovetop, which isn’t so bad with a small pan. I’ve been tea deprived for several days now, so it’s nice to settle down after violent thunderstorms with a hot cup of Dammann tea (in an air conditioned house, of course… it was over 90°F before the storms!). I love having these tea bags around for traveling.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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81

After reading ashmanra’s tasting notes on this one it has been on my shopping list, and so I was thrilled when there was a sample in my package from SimplyJenW. You are too good to me! I opened the pouch and woah: total milk oolong aroma. Milky, buttery, a little sweet corn, it smells really yummy. It looks like an oolong, too, with it’s little balls of leaf. I kind of don’t believe that this is a “green” tea at all. Green oolong, yes.

Steeped with the parameters that some others have used. The steeped tea has those buttery, creamy scents, along with a hint of a floral note. Definitely that sweet corn/kettle corn scents as well. Flavors start out as leafy, vegetal, not very strong, but as it cools more buttery notes come out as well as a fruitiness (peaches? nectarines? some kind of stone fruit maybe). It definitely gets sweeter as it cools, as well. The mouthfeel is not as creamy as I might have hoped, but overall it’s a very tasty tea. I would definitely call this a milk oolong (not shocking as it’s origin is Taiwan), and it’s a pretty good one at that.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

It definitely looks like an oolong, have no idea why they call it a green tea but now I’m glad I didn’t buy any. :)

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74
drank Keemun Mao Feng by Harney & Sons
2098 tasting notes

A while ago I would read tasting notes for unflavored black teas with descriptions of notes of chocolate and such, and I would wonder what on earth these people were tasting because I never tasted that when I tried black teas. I’m pretty sure I tried this tea at the Harney Soho store ages ago after reading notes on here about it, and I didn’t really get it. Now I’ve gotten into Tan Yangs and other Fujian blacks, and lately I’ve come across a lot of tasting notes about Tan Yangs talking about how a particular tea is like a Keemun minus the smoke. Thanks to SimplyJenW, I get to try this Keemun again now and make the comparisons!

Honestly, the descriptions of smoky notes in Keemuns have me figuring I won’t like them as much because I’m not a big fan of smoke in my teas. And the steeped tea certainly smells smoky! It reminds me a tad of the wood-fired tieguanyin I had once in levels of smokiness… not like a campfire, but something roasted on one, perhaps. I do also smell more Tan Yang-like chocolate and molasses notes underneath it. The flavor delivers on the scent, and I can definitely see the resemblance to a Tan Yang. I first taste very delicious chocolatey and molasses-y notes, and then the light smokiness grows in the latter part of the sip. Definite sweetness present here.

This is partly rated on the fact that I can objectively tell that this is a very good tea and I can appreciate it as such. But it also falls into the range of teas that I wouldn’t seek out again… I’m just not a fan of smoky notes in my teas. But I’m really thankful to get to try this tea to further my tea education and also narrow my black tea searching!

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

I did think you needed it for comparison. I did not really think it would be your cuppa, but you are right that it is good to be exposed to those flavors and be able to taste the differences.

Dinosara

Yeah I’m so glad I got to try this one in quick succession after the Tan Yangs. Palate education!

Vortegne

Oh, I like smoky ones. And you’ve made me curious about this one :)

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78

Aww, I jinxed it. Steepster’s back to running slower than ever for me. :P

This is yet another sample from SimplyJenW. I am so grateful for this package because now I can try a lot of these Chinese blacks I am interested in without falling down the rabbit hole of tea orders. I’m glad this one was in the package because I’d like to try a basic Panyang Congou that isn’t supposed to be special grade or select and see how it goes.

The dry leaf on this one also reminds me of my past life as a horsewoman, but it reminds me of the scent of rich alfalfa hay instead of molasses grain (like the Tan Yang Te Ji from Teaspring did). When steeped, however, the scent has more notes of cocoa popping out, with a bit of that dark molasses in the background. It smells really tasty! I like the notes of molasses, malt, grains and unsweetened cocoa that I am getting from this cup, but it also has a bit of harshness, almost bitterness to it as well. I am very sensative to these things, after all. I’m wondering if a slightly cooler steep time would take it away, or whether it’s just a kind of boldness that is inherant to the tea (very possible). It’s probably just my expensive tastes telling me that I want to be drinking a high-grade version… :P

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

Have you tried the panyang congou from Harney? I like it!

Dinosara

I haven’t actually, though it’s now on my list!

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82
drank Raspberry Oolong by A C Perch's
2098 tasting notes

I brewed up a cup of this for lunch today after not having had it for quite a while. When I first tried this tea I was very excited about it but then ultimately underwhelmed. I don’t know if it was just my tastes at the time (which are definitely shifting) or my expectations shifting or what, but I enjoyed this one considerably more this time around. Nice, natural raspberry with a tasty oolong base. I feel like I should brew another cup of this sometime when I’m not eating while drinking it and do another review.

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

I totally would like to hear that “non-eating” review!

Angrboda

Having high expectations to begin with can definitely impact even the best tea negatively. I’m always scared to try one I’ve got high expectations of. :)

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69

I don’t want to jinx it, but Steepster is finally loading a bit faster for me today after two days of painful slowness. Crossing my fingers it keeps it up.

Yet another sample from the lovely SimplyJenW! I am excited to try this because two of my favorite flavors are bergamot and rose, and I love Teas Etc.‘s Rosy Earl Grey sooo much. I am currently out of that one, so I hope this one helps fill that gap (since I know it takes me forever to get through samples). In the bag I didn’t get a much rose aroma from the dry leaf and it smelled like a fairly standard Earl. Steeped, there’s definitely something going on here in the aroma but I can’t tell what. I don’t get a distinct rose smell, but maybe it’s hiding behind the bergamot? There is an almost floral note, I just don’t really identify it as rose.

At first while still hot this tea didn’t seem to offer a lot to me. The flavors were surprisingly weak, and mostly an decent but not great bergamot. As it cools, definitely more is coming out. I do get a burst of rose right at the beginning of the sip, which is joined and replaced by a bright, bright, fairly citrusy bergamot, though it lacks those sweetish lower notes you can get sometimes. The Keemun base is in there rounding things out and it tastes pretty good, but I don’t think it’s quite as nice as the Keemun base on the Lupicia Earl.

Overall I get kind of a general decent-but-not-great vibe from thsi tea. I didn’t actually get much rose flavor in my cup despite other tasting notes saying they did get a lot of rose, so I don’t know what’s going on there. It’s tasty enough but I vastly prefer Teas Etc.’s Rosy Earl Grey, which actually also includes jasmine as well. Glad I got to try this one though.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
SimplyJenW

I agree that I like the Teas Etc. version better, too!

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82

Normally I don’t have an Earl Grey in the afternoon just because I like to have something lighter then, and use the time to have an oolong or some such. But I wanted to have this one in relatively short order after the Lupicia Earl Grey so I could compare them back-to-back.

I’m actually not entirely sure what the base of this one is because Todd & Holland doesn’t say anywhere on their site. I see now it says “a special blend” so who knows. Before I said it tasted like Ceylon, and that probably is one of the components. I’ve talked a bit about the flavors in this one before, but suffice to say that the bergamot is a little more floral than the Lupicia Earl Grey, but still never perfumy, astringent or bitter. I still really love this one, but I think I like the Lupicia one better! I am surprised because I didn’t think that’s how it would turn out. I think there’s something about the Keemun base on the Lupicia one that really rounds it out. Also that slight citrusy sweetness at the end of the Lupicia puts it over the edge. This one is a little brighter, a little rougher, which I guess is to be expected with as much bergamot is there is in it. If I am ever near their brick-and-mortar store I might pick up some more of this but as pricey as it is I don’t think I will order it online when I run out now.

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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