2031 Tasting Notes
I did a swap for a few oolongs, dong dings especially, with Amy oh a few weeks ago, and she offered to throw in a sample of this tea in the package. I of course said yes, and then almost immediately after she put the package in the mail Teavivre said they would be including it in my next round of samples. This one happens to be the sample pouch that Amy sent, so thank you so much again for it. I’ve had two other dong dings… one from thepuriTea (unroasted) and one from Naivetea (a bit roasted). This one is definitely unroasted, so I’m expecting it to be more similar to thepuriTea’s.
Mm, I really like the scent of this one when it’s all steeped up. Very floral, a little buttery. The flavor is quite nice, but more vegetal and less buttery than the aroma suggests. Still floral and smooth, and definitely a lovely tea to drink. It’s got a hint of that green-oolong astringency that “cleans” your palate. It lacks that faint lingering sweetness that really sells a tea for me, but that’s ok because it’s still overall a very tasty tea.
A long time ago, near the beginning of when I was really getting into tea, I bought a groupon for tea from this company, Tiesta Tea. At the time I pretty much just bought any deal I found for tea from any company. I tend to sit on groupons and not spend them until right before they expire, which is what I did here; this groupon was expiring by the end of this month, even though I bought it probably over a year ago. When I went to order tea from this company, I naturally checked their teas on steepster to see if any of them were rated. I was interested in this one, but I was very dismayed to see what was happening in the ratings of this tea. See, this tea has 16 ratings and 9 tasting notes, each of which are no more than 3 sentances long. Of those 9 tasting notes, 7 of them have ratings of 100, one with a 99, and the last with 98. Almost all of the accounts associated with those ratings only have tasting notes for this tea, a couple have other Tiesta Tea notes, and four of them actually say in the account information that they are employees of Tiesta Tea (one of them is from the founder of the company). This is not the only tea from them with ratings like this, but it is the only one where it’s happened to this extent.
If I had checked this before buying the groupon, I never would have done so. I have no wish to do business from companies that feel a need to try and inflate their ratings by setting up sockpuppet accounts on this website. Most people on this site, and I am one of them, really dislike seeing a tea company rate their own teas. However, I already spent the money so I wasn’t about to lose it. So, with not much confidence, I made my selections. I will say that I don’t plan on doing business with this company again, even if I really enjoy one of the teas. My ratings of these teas are honest and I’m not going to rate them lower to balance out the fake positive reviews, even if it’s really tempting to do so.
Now, the tea. The dried tea has lots of rose petals, lavender buds, and some green, narrow leaves that I suppose are lavender leaves but look a lot like pine needles. There aren’t any pine needles listed on the ingredients, though, so perhaps not. It smells primarily like bergamot, but definitely with that herby lavender under it.
Steeped, the black tea comes to the foreground in a big way, accompanied in large part by the lavender. The bergamot seems to have shrunk off somewhere else. The black tea isn’t very familiar to me, aroma-wise, and I can’t quite place it, but it does remind me a little of some black blends I don’t like.
I steeped this tea according to the instructions on the package, which is to say with 195°F water. I have done this before with blacks that call for it, and since I don’t usually want a super bold black anyway, the lower temp often works well for me. Here, though… the tea seems weak. I want more flavor, I want more black tea. Which is crazy for me, because I rarely want more “black tea” flavor. What’s there is fine… the lavender isn’t overpowering or soapy, the bergamot is faint but bright, citrusy, and not astringent or bitter. I don’t get any rose to speak of from this tea. Obviously, next time I’m planning on steeping this at boiling and seeing what happens.
After coming home from being outside all day I needed something to warm me up. Yeah, it was relatively very warm for winter today, but that wind was still biting. I decided to steep this one in a cup of hot cocoa. Mmm, tea hot cocoa. I think the flavor that’s coming to the forefront here is the ginger, though it took me a bit to identify it. It definitely works well with the chocolate. The other flavors make a kind of spicey background but aren’t very distinct through the cocoa. This was a good tea for this kind of brewing because it had enough spice to come through the cocoa.
This is a backlog because I had a cup of this tea before the sun rose this morning. Early mornings for a very full day of birding called for a good cup that could sustain me, if only through the morning hours. I made this in my new Aladdin travel mug, and it worked really well; no leaks even when I laid it sideways on the seat of the car. The steeping basket, which folds up out of the liquid to prevent oversteeping, is too small for oolongs but will work fine for blacks and compact greens. For this tea I actually stuck a sachet of it in the basket because I didn’t want to have to deal with finding someplace to throw the sachet out, and keeping it in the basket was a good solution. It worked well, and I’ll definitely be using this frequently when traveling.
Today I finished up what was left of this tea after sending most of it out in swaps and such. I used a good helping of milk and maple sugar, which made the tea pumpkin-y and pretty tasty. The maple sugar didn’t bring any really mapley flavor to the tea, but it did help bring out some of the other bakery-type flavors.
I decided to try this tea this afternoon, which I got in a swap with brandy3392. Thanks! I do love lemony oolongs, and this one seems like it will be lemony beyond lemony! When I opened the package the powerful scent of lemon immediately rushed out. As I was portioning it out I noticed that the tea seemed to be made up of more jasmine blossoms than actual tea! So I hope I put enough of the blend in my steeping basket.
I don’t usually steep my oolongs for 4 minutes, but this one called for between 4 and 7 minutes so I went with the low end. I honestly can’t imagine steeping any tea for 7 minutes. Steeped, the tea smells lemony and herby with a bit of oolong peeking through. This is a really lemony tea, in both a citrusy way and a lemon herb (must be the verbena) way. Something like this could easily seem tart or bitter or pithy, but it’s got a round, sweetish flavor instead. I think that must be the influence of the oolong, which is otherwise a bit difficult to detect. Occasionally I get a faint, elusive note of florals or the buttery base, and those notes come out more as it cools. The oolong that’s there is really tasty. I like this blend but I would like it better with more oolong in it, I think. It is not for the lemony faint of heart, for sure.
I was excited to get this one in my sample box because I recently tried a different dragon well and really enjoyed it. I am happy to say that this one has lived up to my expectations.
Thanks again to Teavivre for the extremely generous sample of this tea. There’s so much in the pouch! The leaf is bright and smooth, and it smells a bit grassy and a bit nutty and a touch buttery. Steeped, that lovely chestnutty aroma comes out, which reminds me so much of chestnut sweets from a chinese bakery. The liquor is a very pale yellow, only slightly darker than the white of the mug, yet it’s still a flavorful cup. Smooth, lightly grassy, but also nutty and sweet, this tea has a lot of dimensions to it. A really really tasty cup.
As I have no doubt mentioned before, I’m not much of a drinker of unflavored blacks. There are a couple that I have to admit are pretty tasty (Harney’s Golden Monkey, Teavivre’s own Yun Nan Golden Tips), but I still don’t seek out unflavored blacks often. But of course I accepted a sample of this one in my latest round from Teavivre… how could I not, with these reviews? I admit I was still skeptical that I would like it. The leaf is nice looking twisted strands with a scattering of golden tips, and it smells malty and dark and teaish.
This is another one that surprised me with the brewing parameters. 185°F for a black tea? If you say so. The tea came out a lovely dark amber color and again has that malty, sweet aroma. I have to say, alright Teavivre, you got me, this tea is delicious. It is smooth and tasty, with notes of cocoa, raisins, a tiny bit of caramel, a hint of honey, bready, malty… it isn’t actually sweet on the tongue, but it seems sweet, if that makes any sense. Also, this is very similar to the base of The Tea Spot’s Organic Chocolate “O” tea, even though they aren’t the same variety. A big thanks again to Teavivre for this sample; these opportunities really help me step outside my usual teas and experience things I wouldn’t have bought on my own.
Last night when I got home from work I was very pleased to see a big box of tea waiting for me from Teavivre! My next round of samples arrived, yippee! (Also pleased to see: a packaged with new boots in it!)
This one was high on my list of teas I wanted to try from Teavivre because I love oolongs, and I especially love milk oolong, and I was disappointed that it appeared on the site after my first sample batch came. But lucky for me Angel Chen and Teavivre are exceedingly generous and they sent me another box of samples, this time including this tea. Thanks so much!
The steep parameters were pretty different than any other oolong I’ve come across, mainly steeping in boiling water. But I used those parameters anyway, because that’s what was called for. One of the other grad students came into my office right after I steeped it and remarked that this tea smelled good, and I would agree. It smells floral and creamy and buttery and vegetal.
This jin xuan definitely has great flavor. It’s buttery, it’s creamy, it’s floral, and it’s slightly sweet at the end. Really delicious. I will say that I think my concept of a milk oolong was a little warped by having ATR’s first… that is a fantastic tea, and indeed very milky, but it is a tieguanyin varietal not a jin xuan, which gives it a pretty distinct taste that’s different than other jin xuan oolongs I tried. For a while I would try milk oolongs and nothing could quite live up to ATR’s, but that’s because they weren’t playing with the same rules. When I adjust my expectations to what jin xuan milk oolongs usually taste like, which this seems to be a great of, I think I’ll be a lot more pleased with the other ones I’ve tried.
I haven’t had this one in a really long time, and this time I decided to brew it with the parameters that Teavivre gave for their white tea that I had tried, which are pretty different than the parameters I used last time (175°F, 3min).
The brewed tea smells hay-ish like I’ve come to associate with white tea, with a light rosey aroma. The flavor is pretty nice; it’s got that hayish note, and the rose flavor is light and not perfumy at all, and the whole thing rounds out to be a bit sweet. I actually associate that kind of sweetness with hay; sweet alfalfa is actually sweet if you chew on it (no wonder the horses love it), and this has the same type of sweetness. About midway through I started eating a slice of dark chocolate birthday cake (for one of the faculty in our department), and wow that’s an awesome pairing. I’m not sure whether my fondness for this tea has increased because my palate has changed a bit since I last had it, or if the brewing parameters made a difference, but I’m definitely digging it more this time. Especially with cake. Mmm, cake.