I was talking about this one earlier this morning and I started craving it. So delicious! I find it hard to wait for the cup to cool enough for me to drink it. Really this is a fantastic Earl, with a strong tasty bergamot and delicious base.
1221 Tasting Notes
I’m back in NY, and disappointed to find out my house still doesn’t have power. Unfortunately I have an electric stove, so I am SOL when it comes to trying to make tea at home. Also it was freaking cold last night (low of 33°F overnight), so my now-unheated apartment was not pleasant.
I schlepped all my matcha-making equiptment in to work today (it’s where my variable-temp tea kettle is anyway), except of course my almond milk, which sadly did not make it in my fridge. I got a package of Red Leaf matchas not long before I left last weekend but I never got around to trying them because I was so busy, and then they just sat on my table. I brought this one in today to try.
I chose this one to try out the black matcha base because I was intrigued by it and figured hazelnut would pair well with a black base. I got this one with robust flavoring, because that’s how I roll. You can find it here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/hazelnut-matcha.html
When I opened the pouch on this one I immediately smelled hazelnuts and black tea, but then an odd fruitiness crept in as well, almost like I might expect if this was a green matcha. When I whisked it, it produced the thickest, most luxurious foam I’ve ever had for any matcha I’ve tried. I sipped it while it was still hot and didn’t taste much, which could be more to do with the hotness of it than anything else, but I still went ahead and put in about a tsp of sugar. The result is nutty and smooth and delicious. There is maybe a hint of fruitiness but I am unsure whether that is a quirk of the hazelnut flavoring or the black matcha. I am enjoying the black matcha base and will probably get it on any future matchas that are chocolately flavored. When I got down to the bottom of the bowl it was a little grittier with a little more fallen pieces of tea than the green, but it really wasn’t bad at all. Can’t wait to try this one as a latte (eventually).
This tasting note is pretty much exclusively a check-in for me. Some of you may know that I live on Long Island in NY, which was hit hard by Sandy. Fortunately for me, I have been in Ohio visiting my boyfriend since last Saturday. I was originally scheduled to return to NY on Tuesday, then Thursday, but horrible conditions in NY and Long Island have kept me trapped here until the weekend. But my school has been closed for the rest of the week, so I don’t have to worry about my teaching obligations. I know that my apartment fortunately didn’t flood, but that it probably still doesn’t have power (too bad for my food in the fridge/freezer).
I drank this cold on my drive down to Ohio, and definitely thank it for keeping me awake.
First of all I have to say thanks to Nature’s Leaf Teas for sending me these samples to review. I was also very impressed by the packaging of the samples—resealable, heavy plastic zip-top pouches with the brew instructions printed on them—and also the amount, a generous 1oz. I look forward to trying them all but today I had to jump right in with this one. I have a relatively newly-discovered love of fujian black teas, so I am excited to try this one.
The dry leaf has a nice look, pretty long with a few lighter colored leaves throughout, though not as long and spindly as some that I’ve seen. It smells grainy and alfalfa-y, which is what I would pretty much expect. Steeped, more chocolatey, molassesy aromas start coming out. The flavor is pleasant, a bit of cocoa powder, a bit of grain. When it was still a bit too hot for me to drink there was a hint of sweetness that made me think that the honey notes would grow, but alas, it seems to have faded as it cooled. I am thinking next time I will monkey with the steep parameters, but even so this is a tasty fujian and I’m glad I got the chance to try it. Thanks again!
I had this one cold at the gym tonight. At first I was unsure of how nutty matcha would be cold, but holy moly, it was delicious.
Again, 1/2tsp for a liter of water. I actually usually put it in my water bottle with a little water in the morning, then fill it the rest of the way up with cold water at the gym. Not sure, but I sometimes feel like giving the matcha time to stew in the cool water all day boosts the flavor. This one was nutty (natch), very pistachio-y, and even a hint sweet (no sugar involved!). Yum. I think I prefer this one cold, even.
I am revisiting this tea for the first time in a while. I would like to bust through some of my older Dammann Frères teas so that I can possibly make an order from them… there are so many of their teas I want to try.
This one I have the least left of all of them. It really does remind me of Harney’s Florence, though I would have to taste them back to back to really remind myself of that because I haven’t had Florence in a long time. It’s lightly chocolatey and very nutty, with the barest hint of orange to it. When it was warmer it was a touch sweet in the aftertaste, though this seems to have faded and it is more astringent when cooled. Really quite a tasty tea, though not quite as spectacular as my other favorite DF teas.
The last few times I went to exercise, I switched my usual water with some cold matcha. I read that matcha can boost calorie burning during a workout, and also that it can provide more energy during the workout (which is kind of a well duh since it has pretty energizing properties anyway). I figured, why not? Just a half a teaspoon in my one liter of water is flavorful and really tasty. I’ve done it with my Sea Buckthorn Matcha, Black Currant Matcha, and today with this Caramel Matcha.
The first time I didn’t think it really made any difference in my energy level, but then again that class was with an instructor that I don’t really like anyway. Yesterday was my second time with it at spin class and I didn’t really think it made a ton of difference at the time, but today my regular instructor (who I love) came up to me before class and asked “Did you drink a Red Bull before class yesterday? You were going so fast!”
So I guess it must be doing something! Haha. Also, for what it’s worth, I have tried to exercise to lose weight before, and though I often come out feeling stronger it never seems like I lose pounds or inches. There is probably a lot of stuff at work this time, but I actually do see quite a difference during this latest exercise kick, and this time I have been drinking matcha in the morning during the entire time. Yay matcha.
Sorry I haven’t been posting lately; I have finally reached that stage in my tea life where I am drinking tea but don’t have much of a desire to write about it. Mostly it’s not new tea, for one. Actually I have been missing my usual “tea times” for no good reason except that I am preoccupied and stressed. Tea would make it better, of course!
The first time I had this tea, I was underwhelmed. The second time, I was pleasantly suprised. This time I am not surprised, but it is pleasant. The raspberry is so juicy and natural tasting, and the oolong is a nice background. It’s not really easy to pinpoint as a green oolong or dark oolong, but rather has subtle characters of each. A slight touch of roastiness here, the hint of a floral background there. It’s really quite a nice blend.
Trying another gongfu session this afternoon. This is 6g (exact measurement) of tea for my 6oz pot. This tea was a sample provided by Fong Mong for review (that I’ve been bad about getting around to tasting), so thanks!
Perhaps it is just the power of suggestion from the name but the dry leaf on this tea does smell fruity to me. This time I steeped this oolong at slightly under the boil, for 45 seconds as recommended by Fong Mong, after a rinse. The tea smells very floral and a bit fruity, with a bit of vegetables underneath, but not leafy vegetables like I often get with oolongs. More cooked zucchini or something. The flavor is mild at first sip but it quickly blossoms in the mouth, sweet and candy-ish. Still with a bit of those vegetables, as if it was candied zucchini (which I saw some chefs do on Chopped recently, so maybe that’s where I’m getting the idea from). I like it, it’s pretty different from most other oolongs I’ve tried.
Second steep is, once again for me, kind of lackluster. I steeped it an additional 15 seconds as instructed by Fong Mong, but it has now lost much of the sweetness and more of those leafy vegetal notes are coming out. I don’t blame the tea because, as I’ve said, this is a problem that has plagued me for a while. I tried to do an extra long steep, almost western style, but it’s always as if I steep out all the good flavors early on.
I am rating this one based on the first steep, which was very tasty and unique.
Ugh, my computer froze and I lost my note on this one. I have had it before so it’s not too big of a deal, but still annoying.
Mainly I am trying to figure out some of my gongfu brewing issues. No matter what I can’t seem to have a good gongfu session. Maximally I get one good first steep, a decent second steep, and after that it’s all meh, regardless of the tea. I thought maybe I wasn’t using enough leaf so I went crazy with this one. It’s actually less good than the last time I went gongfu on this one and used half the leaf. Still don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve obviously enjoyed the gongfu sessions I had at tastings that other people ran, and I have even successfully gongfu’d tea myself before (a jasmine green), so I don’t know what my problem is here. I think I cannot seem to figure out the optimal leaf amount for my pot. Maybe someday.
After this cup, I will be down to one more serving of this tea, just as I am down to one more serving of Teavivre’s Black Dragon Pearls. Wish I could say it meant and order from Teavivre in the near future, but I really have to get my stash down before I move in a couple of months, so I doubt I’ll be making any tea orders besides matcha.
Well, I will enjoy it while it lasts, because it is delicious! Can’t wait to be able to order some more.
No notes yet.
This tea comes to me from my swap with Rachel Sincere. Thanks!
I love tamarind, in pretty much any form. Sweet, sour, earthy… it’s one of my favorite flavors. I always wanted to try this tea when it became available because of that fact, so I jumped on the chance to get some in a swap. I’ve read through the tasting notes and see that most people recommend it with a little sugar, but I don’t have any so I won’t be using it. I’ve never had Guranse black tea before, so I am interested to try it as well.
From the dry leaf I get an aroma that reminds me of the spicy tamarind candies you can find in foreign grocers sometimes. Basically thick tamarind paste, covered in coarse sugar, often mixed with a bit of cayenne for spice. Those also tend to have an earthy smell to them, which I pick up here a lot. I get the sour fruitiness, and what reminds me of a little spice.
Steeped, the tea smells black and fruity in a tart way. I am really enjoying this tea. It is blended in such a way that it really accentuates the black tea, which happens to work very well with the sweet-sour tamarind flavor. There isn’t a true sourness here, but perhaps the idea of it? Whatever it is, it works. I definitely pick up the smoky tabacco notes in the base tea, and again they somehow really fit with the tamarind. Normally I wouldn’t be really into a tea with smoky notes, but this one is working for me. It’s definitely subtle flavoring, and I’m sure it is brought out by sugar, but I’m not sure that it needs it. I like it that way.
This just reminds me that I really need to put in an order to Butiki one of these days.
This tea came up in the comments on another tea by The Tea Spot, which of course made me crave it this morning. I was glancing through the tasting notes on this tea and someone mentioned a chocolate rose tea, and suddenly I wanted my fabulous chocolatey tea to be rosey as well. I had already portioned out my leaf but hadn’t poured my water, so I was considering just removing a small amount of the leaf and replacing it with a little rose black tea from my rapidly dwindling stash of that sort of tea, but I didn’t want to taint the high quality base on this with a lesser black tea. Then I remembered my rose buds from China… a package of potent, magenta buds I picked up at a tea shop in Beijing, and used to add rose flavor to oolongs and such while I was there. I dropped in a generous helping of buds and steeped as usual.
The steeped tea smells deliciously chocolatey as usual, with a hint of rose. That’s how the flavor plays out as well; I could have used some more rose, but I think the buds were a little overwhelmed by a black tea. What’s there is lovely, though… it is rose in an earthy, rough, whole-plant way, not a frilly perfumy way, and it works really well with the chocolate.
Last night I was in Trader Joe’s surveying their newest pumpkin paraphenelia when I noticed a cannister of this on their “New Products” endcap. Even a few months ago I wouldn’t have given this a second glance, but my love of all things pumpkin, a recent unexplained craving for spiced teas, and my recent appreciation for other forms of powdered tea made me pick it up and put it in my basket.
The first two things on the ingredients list are sugar and non-fat milk, so that should give you a sense of what we’re dealing with. Tea ingredients are listed as Black tea and Darjeeling tea. It also includes powdered pumpkin. The powder smells intensely pumpkin-spicey, like raw pumpkin pie mix. I prepared it as instructed and it yielded a intense brown color that seems dark for a latte mix. The flavor is very sweet, and quite tasty. It got a little two sweet for me at one point, but the addition of a little more water evened things out, and I will probably make my next cup with 8oz instead of 6oz of water. It’s not super tea-ish, but honestly when I drink chai I’m not super concerned about that. It is quite like drinking liquid pumpkin pie, and a good easy mix when I don’t have the energy to deal with other chais or matcha.
Once upon a time Verdant sold this tea, and I bought a oolong sampler than included it. That was ages ago! I found the remainder of this sample kicking around the back of my tea drawer and decided to use it up. I decided to give this one the gongfu treatment and put what was left in my little ru kiln teapot. The dry leaf still smells green and floral and lovely.
I used the general oolong gongfu instructions that Verdant provides: quick rinse, ~5 second first steep. The wet leaf smells remarkably charred and roasty, which was totally unexpected. Guess I forgot this was a half-oxidized oolong base. The tea, however, smells floral in a thick, rich, dark way, and tastes ridiculously sweet. Seriously, did someone put sugar in my pot when I wasn’t looking? On this first steep I can’t quite get beyond that candy-ish, slightly floral flavor, like pure sugar. At times there are notes in the background of green-ness and a very slight hint of toastiness, but mostly an overwhelmingly sweet aftertaste that lingers in your mouth and the back of your throat, reactivating every time you breathe in. It’s quite extraordinary.
Unfortunately my subsequent steeps weren’t so awe-inspiring… the sweet aftertaste remained, though growing fainter, but the main part of the sip is just kind of vegetal and a little roasty and bit boring to be honest. But I have kind of consistantly been unable to make multiple tasty steeps when I do gongfu, no matter what I seem to do, so it’s probably more me than anything else.
Mm, black dragon pearls, you are so delicious. The thing that amazes me about this tea is how naturally sweet it is. It is astounding! Chocolatey and caramelly, yum.
It’s hard to believe that at one point I would be uninterested in, or even not like this tea, but maybe a year ago that would have been the case. If you had asked me a year ago if I thought I would get into unflavored black teas, I would have said absolutely not, that is one I will never get into. My how our tastes change! Now this is one of my favorite teas. I do have to mostly attribute that shift to Teavivre’s tasting packages, which let me know how good black tea could be.
I haven’t had this tea in a long time, which is a shame because it is so delicious. It’s rare that you get a flavored green tea with this much character. A little spiced, a little cookie-ish, a little buttery, and those flavors pair so well with the bright, citrusy bergamot. I was having a hard time trying to decide on a tea to drink this morning (nothing too fruity, nothing too floral, nothing too nutty… I really wanted a spiced tea, but I don’t really keep those around!), but this totally hits the spot.
This morning I decided to take a stab at matcha blending. I wanted to combine two matchas from Red Leaf Tea: Black Currant (flavor level: robust) and Almond (flavor level: “There’s matcha in there?!”), but they are both extremely powerful in the flavoring department and I feared it would be too much to drink them just like that. Fortunately I still have some plain matcha left over from the Red Leaf taste test, so I did 1:1:1 of each of those three matchas, and turned it into a latte. It turned out great! The combination of fruit and almond is French to me for some reason, and I felt like I was drinking a matcha version of a Dammann Fréres tea. The extra plain matcha slightly toned down the strong flavors but everything was still very curranty and almondy. I’ll definitely be making this combo again.
This was a nice oolong to have with lunch today, and I can see how traditional, lightly roasted tie guan yins like this one are great everyday teas. This is quite tasty, just roasted enough to give it a light touch, and “ground” it more than an unroasted, green, floral oolong. Quite a good example of these types of teas.
Made a latte with this one this morning with almond milk (natch). This is so delicious, but also super strong in flavoring; I definitely thing the almond flavoring is strong enough that I will be dropping down from the “There’s matcha in there?!” flavoring level when I have to reorder this one. Because this one is definitely a reorder!
Latte time! This one turned into a delicious, nutty, creamy pistachio latte with almond milk. I still occasionally get a whiff or a taste of something that is almost clovey, like this is some kind of pistachio spice latte or something, but it is much reduced from the straight preparation. Definitely a delicious bowl of matcha!
Made this one with 4oz of hot water and 4oz of warm almond milk (original, non-vanilla), with a pinch of sugar.
This matcha really shines as a latte. The thing about pumpkin pie is that it’s creamy and sweet, so adding more creamy and sweet elements really brings out the pumpkin pie flavor. It’s perfomance as a latte brings this one up into the high 80s in the ratings, and I will definitely really enjoy drinking it this way this fall.
This tea is just so tasty. Passion fruit and rose are some of my favorite flavors, and I love them together. And this tea is really well done, with authentic flavors for both on a nice, mild (but not boring), lovely ceylon base. One that is definitely on my cupboard essentials list, despite the fact I don’t drink it all that often (too many other teas! :P)