107 Tasting Notes

95

It has been a while since I last tasted Noble Mark, but had a sample sent along with my last order from Mandala Tea and had a chance to enjoy this once again. Such a great tea to sit down with and enjoy multiple steepings. Not overpowering, just a wonderful balanced taste that changes in a subtle way with each brew and sip. Very important to give it a quick rinse first, and I brew at about 180 to 190 degrees F.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Bamboo, Earth

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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82

I actually liked this chai blend more than many others that I have tasted, but it shows the problem of sending out samples with only a teaspoon or so per packet, because it is only natural that the spices will be distributed unevenly amongst those sampling it.

Mine had only a light clove tone hinted at over the Assam base, with more citrus /ginger coming forward in both the aroma and flavor. No discernible hint of cardamom. A very pleasant chai, very much in the tradition of South India, that would go equally well with food, or just as a refreshing cup through out the day.

I was surprised how well this tea held up to second and third steeps. Very aromatic and pleasant on this cool rainy day in NC. :)

Flavors: Citrus, Clove, Earth, Ginger

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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88

Brewed this Western style this morning, and was pleasantly awakened by the gorgeous aroma and flavor. Just as the other tasting notes mention, chocolate predominates the first steep with light tones of mineral and just a hint of smoke. Second and third steeps have less of the chocolate taste as the other flavors step forward, but the aroma still remains enticing.

Reminiscent of Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, but with more of a mineral edge. Thanks Steepster Select for including this in the September Box.

Flavors: Chocolate, Mineral, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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92

Something so appealing about sitting down to a few steeps of a darkly roasted oolong on this cool first day of Fall. This tea seemed to find it’s way to me at just the right time, with the dry leaves luring me in with their dry, toasty aroma. I did shorter steeps in my guiwan, with more leaf per ounce, and have had an amazing time following a progression of flavors. First nutty with hints of dried fruit, then more creamy vanilla with nuts, and after many steeps a flavor of toast seemed to prevail.

A dry mouth feel follows the creaminess and the aroma stays strong. An interesting citrus tone sneaks in at times as well. A really beautiful example of its type.

Flavors: Creamy, Fruity, Nutty, Toasty

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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75

Part of a sampler I received, and tried this morning for the first time. Several steeps from the same leaves produce the typical golden hue and very light aroma found in gunpowder green. Slight grassy flavor with second steep producing more tones of light smoke and copper. I am not usually a big fan of this type of tea, but found myself watching the tea pellets unfurl and dance in the pot, and finished 4 cups before I even realized it!

This type of tea is essential in the Maghreb where it is used in the preparation of North African Mint tea (Berber Tea Ritual). This inexpensive gunpowder green would be a good candidate for this purpose.

Flavors: Cut grass, Smoke

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85

I was gifted a sampler from ESP, and found this Russian Samovar tea much to my liking. The blend has some nice flavor from Assam leaves, with a very faint smokiness in the background. A bold, hardy brew that is satisfying and smooth.

Flavors: Brown Toast, Dark Wood, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

Receive a sample along with my last order from Mandala Tea, and finally had a quiet, rainy afternoon to enjoy multiple steeps of this wonderful oolong. Loaded up my guiwan, gave a quick rinse and then enjoyed watching the unfurling and expanding leaves do their dance. Wonderful aroma, subtle and slightly floral. Nice progression of flavors through several steeps, becoming sweeter and more creamy with time. A really nice Alishan Oolong.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Herbaceous

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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88

The Towkak Tea garden is situated on the banks of river Towkak, which also acts as a natural boundary for the garden on its western side. Towkok in Tai language means “dancing tortoise.” In those days it was heard that Towkok river was full of dancing tortoises when the first tea plantation in the area was established on its banks in the year 1885.

I have had a variety of Towkok teas over the years and was really impressed when I picked up a few ounces of loose FTGFOP tea this week from A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, NC. The price is very reasonable, regular price of $4.25 and ounce, on special now at $3.00 an ounce.

Brews up a beautiful color and aroma typical of orthodox Assam teas. Bold, hearty and with biscuity notes that make this a great morning start to the day.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Caramel

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

A very fine Oolong from Taiwan with a lightly sweet and floral aroma—without being cloying or overpowering. Multiple steeps yield consistently good cups of yellow/light green liquor. After 3 steeps, the flavor gets noticeable notes of osmanthus flowers and melon. Very pleased with this tea, which is somewhat reminiscent of the Taiwan High Mountain Oolong of TeaVivre.

Flavors: Floral, Melon, Osmanthus, Sugarcane

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 6 OZ / 177 ML
E Alexander Gerster

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91

I drink a lot of Japanese green teas, and am partial to the deeply steamed (fukamushi) senchas, so I was very pleased to see this sample in my first Steepster box. Kabuse is steamed for a shorter time, and the tea plants are shaded before picking to produce a sweeter, deeper flavor.

Upon opening the bag, the first thing you notice is the beautiful deep green leaves and hearty marine like aroma. A very good sign of the brew to come. I steeped the sample in my favorite Tokoname Kyusu teapot, at the recommended time, temperature and proportions, and was greeted by a slightly murky but bright yellow green infusion. Nice!

Flavors are bold, filled with notes of corn, peas, and the sea. Umami flavors predominate with a very slight sweetness to finish, and a very full, hearty mouthfeel. Not at all what I was expecting (I thought it would be lighter and more subtle), but definitely a tea I want to taste more of. This tea would go wonderfully with a meal but is flavorful and distinct enough to be enjoyed alone.

Flavors: Corn Husk, Dry Grass, Seaweed, Umami

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Profile

Bio

I have been drinking tea for most of my life, and enjoy learning about Tea Culture from all around the world. I learned early about Russian and British traditions first, since my parents came from Europe, followed by the teas and culture of Ceylon/Sri Lanka and India. Since I have been a practicing Buddhist for the better part of 25 years, I have strong ties to Asia, and have slowly been learning about the teas from each part of the world I encounter. It is a wonderful and interesting journey.

Location

Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

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