1931 Tasting Notes

71

I’ve been drinking a lot of flowery teas lately, and this afternoon I decided I wanted something with a bit more heft. I was going through the tea samples I got from SimplyJenW and this one definitely jumped out at me. Figs are one of my favorite! I’m so happy it’s fig season now and I can get them at the grocery store. I’ve really enjoyed the fig flavoring in some of the Dammann Freres teas I’ve had, so I’m excited to try this one with it’s unadultered fig. Also I have a groupon-type deal for Ovation Teas, and I’m glad to be able to try some of their teas before I buy!

The dry tea smells great, very much like sweet dried figs. The tea is speckled with rather large chunks of dried fig, I got two in my cup this time, which is promising. Steeped, I lose some of that rich, figgy aroma as the black tea base comes out, but I can still detect it when I breathe in deep. The flavor is sweet and nicely figgy. It’s not overwelming, but I definitely am getting the fig-in-tea flavor, as well as nice rounded eating-a-dried fig notes. The brown sugar flavoring just seems to accentuate the fig and give it more of a fig newton filling type of flavor. I am getting a hint of bitterness in this tea base, which means I will have to remember to brew it at a lower temp next time. The only thing I worried about with this one was the Assam, which I don’t think I’m partial to, but as long as I can prevent the bitterness I think the black tea base tastes fine. Thanks so much for the sample, Jen!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
LiberTEAS

I placed an order with Ovation not long ago to get their white pear tea for a friend… and I included some of this for me on that order… I look forward to trying it.

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76

Another afternoon, another oolong. This one is another of my samples from DeRen Tea, and it is certainly tasty. Let’s back up, shall we? The leaves in this tea are very large and loosely scrunched, opening up to huge whole leaves when steeped. The scent of the dry leaves is lightly green-oolongy, with a faint floral tinge. Steeped, the liquor is a very pale greenish yellow and the florals have come out much more in the aroma, with the oolong base taking on a warm, buttery character.

The taste is pretty true to the aroma: light, buttery, slightly vegetal oolong, with a lovely dose of florals and a natural lingering sweetness. I looove oolongs with that natural sweetness, so that ups the marks for this one. The florals are somewhat indistinct… this doesn’t have the floral notes of a particular flower (at least not one that I really recognize), but instead amps up that general floral character that some oolongs have. Overall very very nice.

So this is the second Anxi oolong that I’ve had in the last couple of days (the first being the base of the Gardens of Anxi by Verdant Tea), and they’re both really sticking out to me as great. I have an Anxi Tie Quan Yin also from Verdant that is a spring 2011 harvest, so I now can’t wait to try that one too. Yay for tea discovery!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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74

Several days ago, after I had this tea, I took my steeped leaves and put them in a cup with water for a cold steep. I ended up leaving them steeping for a long time, but I think it was ok because I had less leaves than I would normally use for a 16oz cold brew, and they were already steeped previously. Anyway I pulled it out today and it’s really nice. Very jasminey, with some sweet creamy oolong flavor in the aftertaste that I actually didn’t get in my initial steep. Quite a success, and I’m tempted to cold steep all of my leftover oolong leaves like this to see how they turn out!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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56

When I first got this tea I tried it right away because I was so excited, but then ended up a bit disappointed because I didn’t get as much flavor as I would have liked. After that it sat in the back of my cupboard while all manner of new teas piled up around it, but then I read LiberTEAS’ note on one of the other 52teas about how she always waits a while before trying the new blends because it takes a while for all the flavors to meld together and develop. I ordered both the Pumpkin Cheesecake and the Pumpkin Pancake Breakfast recently and have been waiting to try them, so I thought I’d revisit this one since it’s been so long.

To be honest the aroma of the brewed tea still smells like what I remember: black tea. It’s a bit bright, almost like a darjeeling, oddly. I do get a hint of underlying sweetness to the aroma, but it overall reminds me more of Harney’s Indian Nimbu than pancakes! The taste is very interesting, and definitely different from how I remember. I get a bright, clean black tea, not heavy or malty, followed by a slight aftertaste of maple, perhaps. I don’t really know what’s going on… I read all the other reviews and people rave and rave about how pancakey this is, but I’m just not getting it. Maybe I need to try it sweetened, but I’m not big on sweetening my teas. The overall flavor of the cup is interesting enough that I have no problem drinking it down, but I’m a bit underwhelmed. C’est la vie! Sometimes a tea is not for everyone.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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99
drank Gardens of Anxi by Verdant Tea
1931 tasting notes

After my previous tea I needed something I knew would be high quality and not over-flavored. I reached for this tea from Verdant Tea’s new Alchemy line because it seemed like it would likely fit the bill. The scent of the dried leaf seems to confirm that: the first thing I smell here is an herby green oolong with delicate floral notes over the top. The tea is chocablock full with jasmine buds and small chunks of orange peel, but the rolled up Tieguanyin leaves still predominate.

This one brewed up a pale greenish yellow, and the aroma has a base of buttery green notes along with a light sweet jasmine. First sip was still a little too hot for me, but I can tell it’s going to be good. Scratch that, this is going to be one of those teas that blows me out of the water. My first impression is that of a buttery jasmine caramel if that flavor combination makes any sense at all. The natural sweetness in this tea is amazing… it’s a light, smooth sweetness like sweet cream butter. Combined with this oolong, the jasmine takes on a totally different character than I’ve ever tried before—warm, rich, sugary, almost herby—but is somehow still distinctly identifiable as jasmine. The orange rind doesn’t really make itself known in the flavor, and I have a feeling that it, like the saffron, is just lending a supporting role to the other notes. As the tea cools it just gets sweeter and sweeter, playing up that buttery sweet jasmine flavor. A++ on this tea, David… it totally rocks!

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

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45

Ugh… I am currently on some antibiotics which are not kind to one’s stomach, so I was unsure I’d even want any tea today, but I’m doing ok for the moment. Still, I wanted something that might be light and definitely non-upsetting. I chose this new tea, but I forgot what the description was like when I ordered it. Really, Jasmine Lemon doesn’t seem to be the right name for this tea, since it’s really more of a bouquet of all kinds of florals. The tea is full of flower petals and buds of all kinds along with fairly long green and white tea leaves. The aroma is a slightly worrisome artificial sweet-tart fruit candy scent, but I’ve smelled that aroma in dry leaves before and it doesn’t always turn out poorly.

After brewing my tea is a pale yellow with some dusty bits; they are likely small pieces from all of the whole flowers in the leaf. The scent is much more subdued, but still with the same general profile. This tea does taste familiar, but I can’t place it. It’s definitely sweet-tart and slightly fruity in a very floral way. I don’t, however, get any distinct notes; no jasmine, and definitely no lemon. This is the second tea from this company that I’ve tried, and though I’m pretty sure they don’t blend in-house, the teas definitely err on the side of lots of somewhat artificial flavoring that pretty much obliterates any flavors from the tea itself.

ARGH. I just figured out where I know this tea from. It appears to be identical, minus the sencha, to the Macabeo tea from ESP Emporium that I have had and not really enjoyed. A sniff test of both teas confirms that they have the same aroma profile. Interestingly, I do seem to enjoy this one better than the ESP version, but only slightly. Curses! Foiled by a new, tempting name. This is exactly why I wish I knew where the tea was coming from in these places… now I have 2 more ounces of a tea I never would have bought if I had known what it really was.

And with that ringing endorsement, does anyone want any of this? Free to a good home; I have way too much tea right now to have this one languishing in my cupboard.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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66

I ordered a bunch of samples of Dancong from DeRen Tea because it’s a type of oolong I have yet to explore. I’ve only tried the Dan Cong from thepuritea, sent to me a while ago by QuiltGuppy, but I enjoyed the flavors in that one so wanted to try others of the type to see if it’s for me!

I prepared this tea “western” style, with 4g of leaves in a 12oz mug, because I don’t have a gongfu setup and probably won’t until I go to China next spring. The leaves are long, dark and twisted, and when brewed some are greener than others. The aroma of the steeped tea is really nice… roasty grains, like a dark oolong, but also sweet and floral like a green one.

The floral note is the first one in the flavor, but it’s quickly taken over by the roasty notes. I’m acutally getting a slight bitterness in the aftertaste, but I’m hesitant to dock the tea for that because I feel like it’s likely an issue with one of my parameters. Other than the lingering hint of bitter, I do like the combo of the floral plus roasted flavors. I’m not sure that I like them more than the pure fresh floral flavor of some green oolongs, but I have a number of other dancongs to try as well!

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

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77
drank Lemon Drop by California Tea House
1931 tasting notes

I have tons of new teas to try, but this morning I wasn’t feeling great so I decided I needed to fall back on my lemon ginger green. I could go for even more ginger in this one, but I love ginger, and this is after all primarily a lemon tea. Still very tasty and nicely soothing for the stomach.

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

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68

When I got home tonight, there was an extra large package sitting on my doorstep. See, I was expecting a package from Monterey Bay Spice Company, from a groupon I had bought a while ago, but I had just ordered a bunch of samples of a lot of their teas, and this package was way too heavy to just be samples. Imagine my surprise when I opened it up to find a full pound of this tea in there! I looked at my receipt and the sample for this tea doesn’t have the same type of item number as the rest of the samples, which is probably the source of the mix-up, but I did only pay $1 for it. I had been kind of miffed that the shipping for this company is a flat $13, which seems high to me, but I suppose I got my money’s worth anyway.

So I have a lot of this tea. Is it any good? I didn’t even mean to order the decaf version! I decided to brew up a pot tonight to see. Fortunately, it’s definitely drinkable. It’s very, very orangey, with a somewhat more subtle spice compliment. Cinnamon, definitely, but also the kind of warm autumn spices that often accompany it, and none of them is very overpowering. The decaf black tea is inoffensive and hardly present in the flavor, but at least it’s not chemically (at least, not to me). Would I choose this tea to get a pound of normally? Probably not, but you can bet I was relieved when I took a sip and it was pleasant enough.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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74

I have so many new oolong samples right now it’s really hard to choose one to try, but today I was wanting something extra floral, so I chose this one which will certainly deliver. This was one of the free samples that I ordered from DeRen Tea, which has a new online store. I was able to get samples of almost all of their oolongs for basically just the cost of shipping, so I couldn’t resist. Thanks DeRen, for the samples!

Somehow I’ve never tried a jasmine oolong, though I totally love other floral scented oolongs. The dry leaf on this one smells very very jasminey, and includes jasmine petals as well. I might have expected the leaves to be rolled, which seems to be common with green oolongs, but this tea looked more a standard green, with slightly twisted leaves. Brewed, the liquor is a deep golden yellow, and the aroma is all jasmine, sweet and floral with a slight greenish undertone, which makes it smell fresh. I’m realizing that it’s been a while since I had a jasmine tea, and I’ve missed it!

The flavor is very pleasant. It’s very much like a plain jasmine green, but without the grassiness of the green tea. The oolong flavor is slightly vegetal, but in a warm, not bright, way. The jasmine lacks the honeysuckle sweetness of jasmine pearls, but it’s definitely a strong jasmine… people who dislike strong florals beware! There is a very slight bitterness to the edge of this tea, which makes me think that I should drop the steeping time a little next time. I’m enjoying this tea, but honestly there’s not much more to the flavor that would make me reach for this over a jasmine green, and it certainly isn’t replacing jasmine pearls for me. As the tea has cooled almost to room temp, a light sweetness comes out that makes me think that this one would be great iced.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 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.
89-85: 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
84-80: 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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