2098 Tasting Notes
It’s been quite an up-and-down day, and certainly a busy one without time to stop for tea yet. I’ve been at work all day and I am just now sitting down at my computer at 4pm. Crazy! Anyway, I wanted a tea I knew I would love, but I wanted something new. I also wanted an oolong, and luckily I have a boatload of new oolongs to try still. This tea is kind of a compromise between old and new because I’m pretty sure I’ve had it before from Butiki Tea (how many rose violet calendula oolongs could there be?), but this is from my Naivetea sampler pack.
The dry leaf smells fantastic. It’s a lush, thick combination of florals, which of course I love. Rose and jasmine are the two most common florals for tea, yet they are so infrequently put together. It seems like it’s because of the rose=black and jasmine=green dicotomy… well leave it to an oolong to bring them together. I love the combination, which really comes out in the aroma of the steeped tea. I’m not as familiar with the individual aromas of violet and calendula (though I know violet a little better than calendula), but they definitely add to the thick floral aroma.
If you don’t love floral teas, do not even try this one. I am a floral nut, so I love it, but this particular cup borders on perfumy even for me. I know! Maybe shorter steeps or a rinse would yield less strong florals, but I don’t mind of course. This tea does have that light natural sweetness to it that I love as well. Whenever I’m in the mood to drink a bouquet of flowers, this is the tea to go for.
Hey, it’s my first Teavana tea! This one comes to me thanks to The DJBooth. Teavana has a number of blends and such that I think sound tasty, but I’ve also read so many negative things about the shopping experience in store that I’ve never gone to the Teavana that’s 30 minutes away from me. I mean, I’ve thought about it, but it isn’t really in an area I frequent so it would kind of have to be a special trip. And you can’t buy samples. You get the picture. Anyway, I get to try this one now!
The dry leaf smells pretty chocolatey, but the steeped tea smells much more roasted nutty/coconutty. There’s a toasted-grain aroma in there that I recognize from some of the dark Wuyi Mountain oolongs I’ve tried. The chocolate definitely comes back to the front in the flavor, and the tea is intriguingly sweet. It reminds me a bit of the chocolate/coconut black tea I had from Praise Tea, though obviously with a lighter base. I find that a medium-bodied formosa oolong base like this has can often add an almost appley note to a tea, and I’m actually getting it from this tea as well. As others have mentioned, I don’t taste any distinct ginger or rose notes in this cup. Overall I’m really enjoying this, and while I may not run out to buy more when I’m done, Teavana has definitely made a good first impression.
I don’t know why, but I still get nervous about pu-erhs. I’ve actually never had a bad experience with one—actually just the opposite with one, which I love—but all the same I worry that I will really dislike them based on stories I’ve read. Angel Chen offered to send me the plain ripened pu-erh in a sample but I opted for this rose one instead because I love rose-flavored things and even if this isn’t very rose flavored it was less intimidating. I also don’t have any kind of gong-fu setup, which I feel like I would prefer for most pu-erhs.
Anyway, I’m trying this one today! The little tuocha is cute witha small rose bud set in the bottom of it, and it smells earthy and a tiny bit fishy. I gave it a quick rinse and then steeped to the specified instructions on the package. The tuocha almost completely fell apart in that time, though there is a little lump in the center of my strainer still. The liquor is exceedingly dark brown, and it smells really earthy like a carpet of dried pine needles in the woods.
The flavor I’m getting while still very hot is that oaky, woody, a little sawdusty flavor I tasted in one of the other pu-erhs I’ve tried before. I read K S’s tasting note for this one that says leather, and when I think about it, yeah, it is a bit leathery. Really it’s a flavor/aroma that is deeply ingrained in my olfactory memory, the smell of wood stalls and fresh shavings and leather equiptment that comes from spending most of your childhood in horse stables. That’s not to say that this pu-erh actually smells or tastes like a stable, but rather a few individual components… luckily they’re pretty innocuous ones. There’s also a light sweetness that plays on the tongue toward the end of the sip. No rose here. It’s an interesting flavor, and not one I would want all the time, but very drinkable without any of those off-putting flavors and aromas that can sometimes show up in pu-erhs.
I used up the last of my sample of this one in a cold brew. I do love a cold brewed Earl Grey because I think it really brings out the citrusy flavors of bergamot and of course covers a multitude of sins in blends. This was a tasty blend to start with, but the cold steep really brought out the bergamot as an equal player to the orange. Quite a lovely cup with the two flavors nicely balanced.
The weather is yucky and not very wintery, so I thought this autumnal tea might be appropriate today. I got this in a swap from maisonlula, and I am excited to try some more teas from this tea shop, which I visited when I was in London last spring.
I’m not sure of everything that’s in this tea, but I think there may have been some aroma cross-contamination between it and some of the spicier teas also in the package. The steeped tea smells like a cinnamony, Christmasy spice tea, but that does not carry over to the taste. There I get some tart berry flavors and a smooth, heavy marzipanny almond that coats that mouth and takes over the aftertaste. It’s a little like Harney’s Boston if you added a variety of berries instead of just cranberry. There is a hint of spice in the taste that I’m not sure if it is intentional or not, but it’s not unpleasant. The black tea base isn’t as smooth or rich as the one Harney uses for Boston, but it’s not bitter and it doesn’t really impede my enjoyment. Overall a pretty tasty tea!
I’m not huge on unflavored black teas, but I didn’t turn down this one when it was offered as a sample from Teavivre (thanks again!). I do think that Yunnan “golden” teas tend to be some of my favorite blacks to drink plain. When I opened the package on this one my first whiff was definitely the dried sweet potato note others have gotten, and then a malty black tea. I was surprised at the low steep temp for this one, but I stuck with it. The steeped tea smells really malty with a hint of brightness. Like an Assam, which others have mentioned, though that is somewhat disconcerting to me as I tend to not like Assams.
But! I needn’t have worried. What a tea. Those sweet potatoes show up again in the flavor, this time like really good sweet potato french fries… and I love sweet potato fries! The flavor is actually really different than what I expect when I smell the tea. Besides the baked/fried sweet potato, I get caramel notes and some roasty notes as well. All around a really tasty black tea… I think it’s my only unflavored black to crack 90!
Wow, I’m the first one to log this tea? Along with the infused tea sampler set I got black friday weekend, I also ordered the high altitude sampler set because the teas sounded interesting but were not teas I’d ever had before. So this is my first A Li Shan/Ali Shan Oolong! Obviously the only thing I have to compare it to is the Tieguanyins I’ve had, but I do have an Ali Shan sample from thepuriTea to try later as well.
Steeped the western way… all these oolongs do make me want a gaiwan, though. The dry leaf on this one smelled the most floral of all the high altitude set, so I decided to try it first (yup, I’m a floral junkie). The steeped tea smells really really good. That warm, buttery, sweet, floral aroma… yum.
Mm, I’m enjoying this one. Nicely floral, nicely sweet, nicely leafy/vegetal. I’m afraid I’m not really able to pick out subtle differences of this varietal compared to other green oolongs, but maybe if I had them back to back. I also feel like though my western-style brew is delicious, I’m missing out on the subtle flavors that change from short steeping to short steeping. In any case, this is a really delicious tea, and I can say I definitely also enjoy Ali Shans!
It’s always fun to get tea in the mail when you forgot it was coming to you… such is the case with my envelope of teas from TeaEqualsBliss that came last night! Thanks so much for the jam-packed envelope. This was one of the samples that was included and I decided to jump right in and try it this morning.
The dry leaf on this one smells like cherries, but like actual cherry fruit, not cherry flavoring. Whew! I’m really not a fan of cherry flavoring (like in cherry candy), but I do like the fresh fruit. It reminds me of a french “four red fruits” tea, probably because cherry is often one of the red fruits in those blends. After steeping it has a tart cherry aroma backed up by a brightish black tea base. I don’t get much almond except perhaps as a slightly nutty light note to the aroma.
The flavor is very subdued and pleasant. This isn’t an in-your-face flavored tea. A bit tart cherry, a smooth black tea base, and there’s the nutty almond flavor, blooming in the aftertaste. I would like it if there was a bit more almond flavor to this, since I am an almond freak, but I do really like that the cherry tastes nice and natural.
I’ve had Lavender Earl Greys and I’ve had Green Earl Greys, but I’ve never had a Green Lavender Earl Grey. Given my good experiences with Verdant’s Alchemy line so far, and my interest in various Earl Greys including those of the lavender persuasion, I had to ask for a sample of this one with my latest order. Thanks, David, I’m excited to try it!
The dry leaf smells pretty lavendery with some greenish teaish scents and is that some bergamot? The bergamot isn’t really the main player in the aroma of the dry leaf. I steeped this according to the directions for the base tea (Jingshan green) and the resulting cup smells very intriguing. Lavender, yes, but with a warm, almost cookie-ish aroma. Well that was a surprise. Again, I can’t really pick out the bergamot in the scent. The flavor is intriguing and unexpected. Lavender is the most forward flavor in this tea, but overall it is very light and delicate with a faint sweetness. It is somewhat bright, but more “crisp” than anything else. I’m afraid I don’t actually taste the bergamot nor the lemongrass. I am very much enjoying this cup of tea, but what it’s really making me want is a cup of this tea unflavored, and perhaps to see it in a straight Green Earl Grey blend sans lavender. From reading tasting notes of the base tea, I feel like the lavender, light as it is in this blend (seriously the least obtrusive I’ve ever had in a tea), is steamrolling over the other flavors a bit.
Thanks to Teavivre for providing me with this sample to taste! And a generous sample it was, I’ll be drinking this one for a while (spoilers: luckily that won’t be a hardship!). For someone who loves green oolongs, I haven’t tried very many tie guan yins. It’s basically been the two Verdant pickings and one from Harney that I tried in their tasting room, but I don’t think I really appreciated oolongs when I had that one as much as I do now. So I’m really curious to taste this one! I’ll be trying a lot more oolong varietals over the coming weeks, which I am also excited for.
The dry leaf on this one smells lovely, with nice floral notes and a good “greenish” base. I normally wouldn’t steep an oolong (especially a green oolong) at boiling, but that’s what the package said, so I did it. The liquor is a nice medium greenish yellow, and it has a great scent. I feel like it’s getting harder for me to describe that scent over time as I come to associate it with green oolongs because it ceases to smell like anything but a nice green oolong to me. But it’s that fresh floral/buttery/creamy/sweet aroma.
I have to wait longer than usual for this one to come down to drinking temp, but early hot sips yield a pleasant leafy flavor with a light sweetness and some magnolia-ish notes in the aftertaste. As it cools this flavor profile continues, with the leafiness growing in intensity. The florals are pretty prevalent as well, while the sweetness just kind of lingers lightly at the back. I don’t get a lot of buttery or nutty notes with this one, but I do love a very floral oolong so I’m willing to forgive it those characters. Definitely a pleasant TGY that I really enjoy drinking.