96 Tasting Notes

81

Amazingly well balanced for a single estate Ceylon tea. Nice combination of light astringency and full, round, sturdy character. It is much like a very good British Breakfast blend, with a taste of sunshine and humidity. From the distinct aroma, to the very last sip, this tea asserts itself as a true Ceylon tea. A nice tea to pair with hearty foods, or good buttery shortbread.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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93

I was really leery of tasting this tea after the box arrived covered in dust and a dead bug between the inner bag and outer box. But my love of osmanthus, and curiosity got the better of me. I brewed a small gaiwan, and enjoyed it so much that it was soon followed by a large pot to share with a friend. Light, beautiful and really pleasant. A nice balance between the tea and the flowers. Like drinking dewdrops of honeysuckle nectar. Truly one of the best teas I have tasted from Samovar.
And BTW, customer service at Samovar online was fantastic. They responded quickly to emails and wanted to make sure an experience like this didn’t happen again, sending me samples of some of their other teas. Very friendly and very professional.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 15 sec
Cole

Glad to hear this tea exceeded your expectations. Everything tastes better with a little osmanthus!

CHAroma

Holy --!! You’re brave. I definitely would not have tried the tea after a bug incident like that. At least Samovar tried to remedy the situation.

E Alexander Gerster

I’m too frugal to let a tea go to waste…especially when the osmanthus smelled so good! :)

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drank Earl Grey by Samovar
96 tasting notes

I received a black tea sampler from Samovar, and this Earl Grey sample was first up. I have had several very good teas from Samovar, and love Earl Grey, so I had high expectations since so many reviewers had listed this as one of their favorites. Unfortunately, I have to wonder what happened to my sample? It was bitter, nasty and tasted like perfume. No taste from the tea at all… and just a smell of alcohol and rotten oranges. As several of my other boxes of tea came covered in dust, I wonder if this sat so long in the warehouse that it went bad… Such a disappointment. :(

Winter Salo

The absolutely worst thing is when you’re so looking forward to sample a particular tea and it fails to leave up to expectation. Hopefully the others will be better :)

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95

An interesting experiment today. In anticipation of a new package of fresh dried osmanthus flowers, expected to arrive from China in the next week or so, used my last pinch in my morning cup of Laoshan Northern Green. I was not sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised that the beany-vegetal tones of the green mixed really well with the honeysuckle sweetness of the o-flowers! A really nice end of summer treat. Of course summer here in Miami will stretch into December, but technically still, summer is over.

David Duckler

Good to know- Thanks! I love playing around with blends, as you might notice from the growing Alchemy line on the site, and love encouraging people to blend. I will have to pick up some osmanthus. Exploring the floral possibilities hadn’t occurred to me yet for this tea. I have been loving it with dried burdock. (In China they have something like burdock called Niubang, but it is much better. Do you know what we call it here?), and with a mix of peppermint and spearmint. Saffron also presents interesting possibilities…

E Alexander Gerster

I wonder if the Niubang you mention is the same as the Burdock known as Gobo in Japanese. The Wikipedia page just lists it as Arctium lappa : Greater Burdock.
Looks like you have been having fun with your blends! I had not seen your new additions and have to kick myself for checking in more regularly. Your site is really informative, entertaining, and tempting!
I usually reserve my osmanthus for oolong and white needle teas, but a friend in Suzhou mentioned that he drinks red tea with osmanthus during the summer, and it sounded good to me! I usually limit my additions to things that grow on my balcony or at my mother’s house like lemongrass, dried mango, mint or other herbs. I use a light touch since I really like the tea to shine through. I guess I could grow tea plants pretty easily here, and have seen that it grows well in some yards, but we have pretty poor soil, and no real change of seasons to speak of. It is something I would at least like to try at some point in my life!

E Alexander Gerster

oops meant to say “for NOT checking in more regularly” but couldn’t edit my comment …

David Duckler

Yes- I think the Arctium Lappa is closest. The Chinese listed was correct “niubang.” It tastes like graham crackers when brewed as a tea, and my memory of it is having it brewed with a bit of rosehips and goji berry whenever I was sick. If I even so much as coughed, my tea friends in China would dig out the niubang to steep for me. Good stuff!

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85

This is a real classic Yunnan tea. Rich and savory flavor, with a slight cocoa powder finish. Earthy and spicy and soft, smooth, creamy mouthfeel and finish. Adagio has a variety of Yunnan teas, some that are higher rated and higher priced, but this is probably my favorite. It is beautiful to see the mixture of gold and black leaves, and the aroma of dry leaves, wet leaves and liquor are all quite nice. Just a touch of peppery flavor and it brews up well in a teapot, gaiwan or gong fu style. A really nice experience for newcomers to loose and/or Yunnan teas.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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83

A very good Wuyi Mountain Oolong. This is the “Mama Bear” of the Wuyi Mountain Oolongs I tried from China Cha Dao. Not too smokey, not too sweet, but just right. Enough complexity to keep me interested through several steepings. It is distinctive in it’s aroma, and does not overwhelm you as some can. One note, this tea really depends on having good water that is not hard, best with bottled spring water (soft).

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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88

This new offering by Adagio Teas is very similar to their Jade Snail Tea and both appear to be varieties of Bi Luo Chun (Pi Luo Chun). This is a very delicate tea and is better if left to steep at a lower temperature, and for less duration that recommended by Adagio. Complex, crisp and a great pleasure to drink.

1st infusion: 1 tsp. for 6 ounces water, 170 F, 1.5 minutes.
Slightly sweet and fruity aroma and flavor. Nice gold/green color. Lingering toasty taste, probably from pan firing the leaves.
2nd infusion: 180 F, 1.5 minutes.
Sweetness continues with flavors ranging toward a spring oolong. Very slight grassiness in the background.
3rd infusion: 185 F, 2 minutes.
Color has become more gold than green. Definite taste of spring continues. very nice!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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91

There is something so warm and pleasing about this Yunnan tea. All week, while I was battling migraine headaches and various aches, this was the tea I was craving. It has a great cha-qi (energy) that comes from these big leaves and golden buds. Sweet yet malty with a nice robust flavor and aroma that lingers on and on. This is definitely “comfort in a cup.”

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

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79

Another interesting combination from Rishi Tea blending organic ginger and pu’erh tea. Not something I would normally look for, even though I enjoy good pu’erh tea and ginger tea as well (especially from fresh ginger). However, it was part of a sampler pack I had purchased and I thought I would give it a try.

Their brewing parameters of 5-6 minutes were a disaster on my first attempt, making a truly undrinkable brew—but when I shortened the time to 3 minutes, at 195 degrees F, it brews up to a really tasty concoction. Dark and earthy, predominantly ginger flavor but with a distinct pu’erh taste supporting. I was amazed to get three nice infusions this way with enough left over to try iced. Mmmm. You have to really like ginger to enjoy this (duh!) and try out the brewing parameters to find a taste that suits you. If the ginger is too prominent, try a second infusion where it tones down a bit.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec
ssajami

I keep wanting to try a flavored pu erh, but somehow I can get my mind around the IDEA of a flavored pu erh. I love flavored blacks / greens. Flavored Oolong is something that I have just lately tried (and liked, to my surprise). However, pu erh is the earthy tea I have in my gaiwan, and there is no room for flavors in there.

Ahh…but the curiosity…I will have to try…

E Alexander Gerster

I always seem to have too much fresh ginger root around, both from the market and also from the yard… I occasionally dry chopped ginger and save it in a tin, and I think I will try a small bit of this with some of the unremarkable pu’erh tea that I have around and see what works. This may be the cheapest way to try a flavored pu’erh! :)
Let me know if your curiosity inspires you to try a flavor that complements your pu’erh.

Kashyap

I prefer fresh ginger as well….much more dyanmic

ssajami

Dried ginger in pu erh….it sounds intriguing. I shall give it a try too. For me, sort of a baby step towards flavored pu erh.

Kashyap

Incidentally I tried for years to develope a pumpkin chai soup, trying every tea I could think of that might give a nod to the land of chai..then one day I realized the best tea for the job didn’t come from India..I started using toucho shou puerh…adding several of them with fresh ginger, cinnamon, clove, pepper, salt, and brown sugar, I would steep it into a thick base and after the butternut squash and pumpkins were roasted (I would pour a bit of the tea into the ‘bowls’ of the squash while it was finishing roasting and let the tea carmelize the surface), I scrape out and puree the squash, add the tea concentrate…adjust flavors and finish it with coconut milk or heavy cream (vegan vs veggie)….the pu erh is perfect. Deep enough that the flavor comes through, allows the tea, spices, and squash to each have an expression on the palate.

E Alexander Gerster

Wow! Now that’s creative! You have inspired me to try something similar. I noticed last time I made butternut squash soup that it paired with pu’erh tea very nicely—and why not add a bit to the mix? Your pumpkin chai soup sounds like heaven to me!

Kashyap

if you want the recipe I would be happy to share
its almost that season

ssajami

Yes please, a recipe! It sounds awesome.

E Alexander Gerster

Would love the recipe for your pumpkin chai soup! I thought about it again last night as I was roasting some calabaza for a quesadilla made with flor de calabaza, queso Oaxaca and epazote. Epazote is known as Mexican tea, and grows pretty easily here in Miami, but is definitely an acquired taste!

Kashyap

I will post it shortly then! sorry for the delay

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86

Such an interesting tea, quite good flavors and a light peppery aroma.
I have been working my way through my sample pack from Obubu, and thought I would make this one today as it is so very warm and humid. I followed their recommended brewing instructions, using my kyusu to hold the entire 5 gram sample. Nice grassy fragrance to the dry leaves, and mix of leaf size as this is aracha (unsorted) tea straight from the farm.

1st steep: 30 seconds at 185F, yields a really nice light emerald green liquid, with slightly peppery aroma to the wet leaves. I can’t resist drinking this hot, saving the second steep for “iced” tea. It has a really nice vegetal taste, with more spinach flavors and grassy undertones. No kelpiness, just a real nice earthy green flavor.
2nd steep: quick 15 second steep at 185F, then poured over ice. This is truly where this tea shines. It tastes amazingly good, refreshing and ‘sparkling’ — but definitely not too sweet. It is beautifully clear, and an appealing gold-green.

I am cold brewing the remaining leaves to see if I can stretch this sample, not only because I am frugal, but because I am really liking this tea! This one is going on my shopping list…

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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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

Miami, Florida, United States

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