1979 Tasting Notes

85
drank Yuzu Oolong by Naivetea
1979 tasting notes

When I was putting my Naivetea order together I almost went ahead and ordered 2oz of some oolongs I was sure I would love (passion fruit, lychee) instead of the infused sampler pack, but I really wanted to try this tea so I went for the sampler instead. Plus as much as I may want it, I don’t really need that much oolong in my stash right now.

I read that this had a grapefruity aroma/flavor, and that’s certainly what I smell from the dry leaf, but it also reminds me of some other less common (in the US at least) citrus fruits that I occasionally find in the grocery store. Pretty sure I’ve never found yuzu though! The steeped tea smells incredibly sweet-butter-creamy with a hefty dose of florals. I don’t get so much of the the citrusy yuzu in the aroma now.

Flavor-wise, this is another top notch tea from Naivetea. This is definitely the most subtle of the flavored teas that I’ve tried; the grapefruit/yuzu citrus notes are hard to distinguish and seem to blend into all the other flavors of the tea. They do seem to give the tea a certain something that just makes it taste a bit different, though. Otherwise, the tea is a little buttery, a little vegetal, and a little sweet, with big floral notes. All around a very nice tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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95
drank Golden Earl by Verdant Tea
1979 tasting notes

Definitely love this one. I think the golden buds base is just a fantastic match for the citrusy bergamot. Lately I feel like I’ve been running up against black tea bases for flavored teas that are at best uninteresting and at worst taste bad. I would love it if more tea bases were like this one!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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70

I wasn’t feeling an oolong this afternoon so I decided to dig out my big box of MBSC samples and try something I hadn’t had before. Of course this one jumped out at me as fairly seasonally appropriate. It is getting chillier, though overall it’s not really as cold as might expect for this time of year.

The smell of the dried leaf on this one is very orangey/appley, and surprisingly not very spicy. The steeped tea actually takes on the aroma of mulled cider, with a little black tea added in (actually that gives me a fantastic idea… black tea in the mulling spices for cider!). It actually smells really good, but I worry that I’ll get disappointed expecting mulled cider taste, especially the sweetness.

Wow, I really really like this one! Even though right before I take a sip it seems like I’m going to be drinking mulled cider, and afterward it’s clearly not. The actual flavor is similar enough to mulled cider yet different enough that I’m not disappointed. And the big apple chunks in the blend do lend a light appley sweetness to the tea. The spices in this are not individually distinct in the flavor but definitely add up to a nice blend, and I think that adds to the mulled cider feeling. I think I get a faint hint of rose in the aftertaste, but it is barely there.

I haven’t been super impressed by the blends I’ve gotten from MBSC not because they were bad, but rather because they just weren’t fantastic and I’ve been drinking some really fantastic teas lately. Also their black tea base was a little meh, which I can tell is the case here as well, but there’s enough other things going on here that it’s not as distracting. I do wish this blend had a higher quality tea base, because it’s one of my favorite “winter” blends I’ve had so far. It should be called Spiced Apple Cider!

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

I’ve never tried MBSC’s blends, but I’ve certainly been enjoying just getting their straight spices/etc to make my own blends and chai. Plus, then I can experiment with them in cooking, too!

Sounds like a yummy blend.

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80

This is another green tea that I requested from Teavivre with my samples based on its description so that I could broaden my tea horizons. So thanks again to Teavivre for providing me with these!

The dry leaf has that kind of “green tea” scent that I associate with a standard green tea. The leaves are fairly long and twisted but they also are relatively curly so they pack fairly well and I think my measurement of them should be fairly accurate. They are dark green when dry but after steeping they have turned a very bright yellow green, and the liquor is a medium yellow color. The steeped tea smells really good, and not like I would associate with a green tea. The description mentions chestnuts, and I definitely am getting the kind of nutty aroma I might associate with them. Also maybe roasted sweet corn? It is a scent that is familiar but that I’m having trouble placing. As it cools a definite buttered cooked veggie aroma is coming more forward.

I definitely get sweet, nutty, buttery, cooked vegetable notes in the flavor as well. It’s a hint bitter, so I’m wondering if I used a tad too much leaf (or maybe I should have done a 1 minute steep). Either way, it’s not too bad and I definitely love the other flavors going on. This one actually has the same combination of flavors that add up to a cookie-type note like I experienced with Verdant’s Jingshan green (in a blend), which is totally unexpected for me but I really like it. If I can figure out my optimal steeping parameters for this tea I might just fall in love.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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65
drank Thé au Tibet by Mariage Frères
1979 tasting notes

I just finished putting all my french teas into brand new tea tins, so I grabbed this one to have this morning while it was out. I really do love the combination of aromas in this tea with the citrus/bergamot, strong vanilla and floral jasmine. However, I have found that the combination of vanilla and jasmine, which sounds awesome, just tastes a bit odd to me. It’s not so odd here as in Golden Moon’s vanilla jasmine tea, possibly because it’s tempered by the bergamot and orange.

Also I can’t seem to make this tea not bitter, which again makes me wonder if it’s Mariage Freres’ black tea base that I just can’t deal with. This is a black/green blend, which are usually tricky anyway, but I brewed it basically like a green this time and it’s still slightly bitter to me. Then sometimes I think it’s just that vanilla jasmine combo that is giving it an off, bitterish flavor. Whatever it is, I’m not sure that these type of blends are really for me, even though I do love the idea of them.

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

Oh, what a pity you did not like, it is one I got (before reading your opinion). Not tried it yet.

And just FYI, I am not sure MF blacks are bitter – for me Marco Polo has no bitterness. Wedding Imperial, hmm, weird thing, I did not find it bitter, but hoarded my tin for a couple years and I toward the end the leaves were smaller and more broken and got more bitter.

Dinosara

Yeah I wonder if it’s just the vanilla/jasmine blend that doesn’t work for me for some reason… though I know others do like it. I do find the base of Marco Polo and some of their other blacks to be a bit “off” in a way I can’t pin down… a bit tart and astringent, or something. For some reason they’re just not for me!

ashmanra

I get the same thing! I find it in most French teas. I think they like that hint of bitterness, and I suspect they normally add milk. For Marco Polo, I cut the temp and time a little, then add milk and sugar. I find it very good that way, and hubby likes it though he likes. Ery few teas.

cteresa

I sometimes think of a tea “oh so french” (not always good. I do not get Kusmi for example). But hmm, not sure I would call it bitterness, or anything like that, though not sure I am getting the same you are both getting. I thought of maybe it might be an expectation issue, like the way americans and europeans expect milk chocolate to taste differently (very differently, from my side!), but that I think is an historical due to a different industrial method. With tea getting produced and processed the same way on plantation, I guess any difference of expectations regarding taste might just show up very subtly when blender purchases and later blends. (or we might blame retailers or storing, or something. For example Twinings blends and packs things differently for mainland europe than for the UK. Even the weight of tea bags is different, Uk gets those ugly no string bags with 2.25 gr and the mainland gets pretty teabags but with just 2 gr).

cteresa

and ashmanra, sorry, just to add, nooo, I think adding milk to tea is much much rarer in France than in the UK. Really not the norm from my opinion (not that I ever lived there, but visited, for longer or shorter, a few times).

If there is a particular French kink IMO is loving tilleul (linden?) based tisanes. which might not be for everybody.

Dinosara

For me it’s not just French teas, because I have no problem with Dammann Freres’ blends (probably my favorite tea blender!). Just MF for some reason!

ashmanra

Agreed. I have had two by Dammann Freres that didn’t taste that way, but MF and the two teas that Harney calls French style have that astringency.

cteresa

I am really curious about that note – maybe it is something I like and do not spot necessarily. You don´t mean tannin (like in some wines, or pomegranates), or do you? It tannins, IMO is definetely a flaw, and might be by design. Keep in mind that as loose leaf tea gets broken post processing, the way it infuses does as well, and it tends to get more tanninic much faster with the same steeping times. The bottom of tea tins is usually more tanninic (because the smaller bits of tea fall to the bottom and get packed and more broken). Also if tea gets crushed by something before brewing or even after that happens (mind you, I got a tea which i think responds really well to getting stirred very vigorously while brewing. Though yeah I do put sugar and milk on it later!)

Dinosara

I think I generally dislike very strong tannins in things, though I do like wines and pomegranates and such. If a tea tends to be pretty tannic I will often steep it for a shorter time or at a lower temp. Tannins do seem to manifest as a bitter flavor to me, and I am super sensative to bitterness!

cteresa

I do not like tannins as well. If you dislike them as well, also try to keep loose leaf tea has protected from possible sources of mechanical crushing as possible – crushed loose tea will liberate the tannins much faster than whole tea, particularly in regard to the other flavours. (not sure where I got that factoid, though)

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78

After an afternoon of jasmine tea I didn’t really feel like another floral or somewhat floral tea; I wanted something nutty or sweet or… caramelly. Yup, that works. Now I’m finishing off my sample of this tea.

The fact that this one has a medium-roasted formosa base gives it that nutty, appley flavor that I’m really coming to appreciate. This one isn’t so appley as apple-skin, actually, and I do think I’m getting chestnuts this time, though I’m not super familiar with the flavor of chestnuts. And then over everything a caramelized-sugar flavor. I’m really enjoying this one and I bumped it up a few notches. I don’t know if it’s a rebuy (maybe if it came in quantities less than almost 4oz), but it’s a possibility if I’m already ordering other things.

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

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96

Back to floral teas, eh? I am very excited to try this one because I loooove jasmine pearls. My favorite so far has been Harney & Sons, but I honestly haven’t gotten to try too many different ones (which is partly because I am so pleased with Harney’s I don’t seek them elsewhere). Thanks to Teavivre, I get to try these pearls!

And it seems like I’m in for a treat; when I opened the package I was greeted by the most amazing jasmine aroma. Seriously honeysuckle aroma there, and rich, heady florals like sticking your head into a jasmine bush in full bloom. Yum. The liquor steeped to a pale golden yellow color, and it retains that honeysuckle-jasmine aroma, though in a more subdued way. There’s also something different about this jasmine aroma that I can’t quite articulate. Let me try: most jasmine seems “high” and “bright” in the aroma, like the equivalent of a soprano voice, but this jasmine has some serious “low” and “dark” notes in the aroma, like the equivalent of an alto or tenor, in addition to the usual high and bright notes that really make it a lush experience.

I was writing all that about the aroma, but it holds true for the flavor as well. The soprano notes are present right at the front of the sip, while the tenor notes grow at the tail end and in the aftertaste. The jasmine is lovely and fresh, and not overpowering or perfumy at all. I always look for a natural sweetness in the tea that reminds me of eating honeysuckle nectar, and it is lightly present here (especially as the tea cools), but not as much as I would have expected. Still, these are top notch jasmine pearls, and at just over $3/oz, they seem to be a bargain for the quality.

Added note: I had three extremely flavorful and tasty steeps (12oz each) of this tea before I got jasmined out. This tea definitely keeps going strong!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec
gmathis

Speaking as a rusty alto, I like the description! (Now I’ll be humming all the good lines from “Hallelujah Chorus” all afternoon.)

Stephanie

I love the musical analogies—tea symphony! :)

Dinosara

Some people taste colors, apparently I taste sounds. :D

K S

Never considered myself a tenor fan until now. Love the description.

gmathis

Hmm … so … what tea would constitute (a) a rich, low Southern Gospel bass like whats-his-name from the Oak Ridge Boys (b) a really great scratchy pop voice like Rod Stewart or Joe Cocker. This will make me ponder all day!

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58

Winter really does put me in a spicy tea mood, I guess. All this summer and fall I’ve gotten really into green oolongs and floral teas, which is pretty much the exact opposite of a spicy black. This offering is another thanks to maisonlula. It’s another in the orange-and-spice genre of teas, and this time the spices are ginger and cinnamon, both of which I can smell distinctly in the dry tea along with the orange. There’s supposed to be some vanilla as well, but it’s not obvious in the dry leaf.

Steeped, the tea smells very gingery… I haven’t yet had a ginger black tea (most of my ginger teas come in the form of lemon-ginger greens), so I am intrigued. It definitely smells very spicy. The flavor is less spicy than I would have expected. I can taste the ginger, but I don’t really get a bite from it or anything. Unfortunately a bitterness from the tea base here seems to overwhelm other flavors besides the ginger/cinnamon notes. Even then, I would wish for those notes to be stronger. This may be a tea that is a good candidate for taking home to drink with additions so I can brew it really strong and still drink it.

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

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73
drank Russian Spice by ZenTea
1979 tasting notes

I got a small sample of this tea with my order from ZenTea, and I was pretty sure I’d want to drink it with milk and sugar because it smelled quite spicy. Actually I might not have had any issue with drinking this straight, but I decided I wanted to have this fairly Christmasy tea (cinnamon, clove and orange, which is standard Christmas-tea fare) with additions anyway.

The spice bend is pretty nice with both cinnamon and clove distinguishable and robust but without being overpowering. The orange isn’t super strong and instead just adds a light fruity note, which is fine because it keeps this tea as one focused on the spice, instead of one focused on the orange. The black tea base seems pleasant enough and it is certainly a major player in the flavor. Overall a pleasant spiced black tea and a nice holiday cup of tea.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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72
drank Milk Oolong by thepuriTea
1979 tasting notes

Of course I’ve wanted to try this one for a while now, so I was glad when it came back in stock after being out of stock for so long, and even more glad when I got a fantastic deal on samples on cyber monday. I finally got airtight pouches that I can put this tea in after I open my sample pack, so I was finally able to break into this one. A lot of people really love this tea, so my expectations are high!

The dry tea smells much like other milk oolongs I’ve tried, with that buttery, creamy, slightly caramely, condensed milk aroma. I have to admit that I’m busy and was distracted drinking this one, so maybe it wasn’t the best conditions for a review, but also it kind of says something that I was able to somewhat distractedly drink this one. I wasn’t wowed. The flavors are a little weak, so I’m wondering if a steep temp closer to what I usually use for oolongs (~195°F), or a longer steep time would improve it. What’s there is nice… a little buttery, a little peachy-creamy, with a nice sweet taste, but I just can’t really get excited about it. It doesn’t blow me away like I was expecting. I have a decent sized sample, so maybe another time.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Spoonvonstup

It’s always both hard and exciting to see how other people have thought of a tea you’re about to try. I still don’t know if I prefer having expectations and an idea of what I should be tasting, or if it would be better to go in blind. Have high hopes probably means I’ll taste it more carefully.. (if I’m looking for good things, I’m more likely to find them). But then I might get let down, as you did here. Oh well- I guess being on Steepster betrays my preference. If I didn’t want to know what I was getting into, I wouldn’t read everyone’s notes!

I’ll have to get back into trying Milk Oolongs. I’ve always just defaulted to TGY, and haven’t tried any apart from some perfectly-drinkable-but-not-special examples at a local teahouse.

Dinosara

Yeah, I definitely read through tasting notes before I try a tea (or while I’m trying it) and try to find flavors that others have had and see how my experience compares to theirs. There are definitely times when I feel like the odd man out, hah.

My favorite Milk Oolong is the one from American Tea Room, but it is stupidly expensive. But so so good!

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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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