162 Tasting Notes
This is one of the samples Shelley_Lorraine included in a recent swap. I’ve been wanting to try this one for a while, so here goes!
The dry leaf smells very, very sweet. Also fruity, in an over-the-top candy-ish way. Brewed, the taste is still rather sweet. However, it’s not as extreme as I’d feared it might be – I’m generally not a fan of sweet teas, and I never add sweetener. I’m not really getting anything that makes me think of strawberry pie – there is a certain fruitiness to the tea, but it’s vague and muted. After spending a bit longer with the tea, though, I’m recognizing this as the flavor not of baked strawberries but of dried (and also, I presume, of freeze-dried) ones.
There’s a pronounced – though not overwhelming, fortunately (and unusually!) – hibiscus note. This goes some way toward counterbalancing the sweetness, and it does suggest the tartness of rhubarb. However, this is as close as the tea gets to true rhubarb flavor.
I’m not getting any pastry notes or, surprisingly, much in the way of cinnamon. I’m also struggling to taste the tea base through the layers of fruit and hibiscus, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, I can tell that it exists and that it is black, but I don’t think I would’ve been able to identify it as an Assam without looking at the ingredients list.
This isn’t a tea I’ll go out of my way to have around, but I’d be very happy to drink it again should the opportunity arise. My mom enjoyed it too. Thanks again for letting me sample this one, Shelley_Lorraine!
This is another tea I just don’t love as much as everyone else does. I was excited to try it after reading all the rave reviews. Plus, I had no idea what to expect – I’d never had sakura-flavored anything before – and I enjoy trying new and (to me) unusual flavors.
As others have mentioned, this is an absolutely gorgeous tea. And the flavor is perfectly pleasant. The sencha dominates, and it’s quite vegetal. Depending on how the tea is prepared, the cherry blossom can come through reasonably well or hardly at all – more on this below. The cherry blossom flavor, when present, is light and sweet, a combination of fruit and floral (although I find it veers more toward the floral side of things). It’s nothing like cherries, or like cherry flavoring. It tastes quite natural. It’s by no means bad, although it’s not as mind-blowing as I’d expected it to be. I thought it would be more strongly floral, and perhaps less sweet – more along the lines of a jasmine or elderflower, both of which are floral flavors I adore in teas.
I feel like I’d probably enjoy the sencha base more on its own, minus the cherry blossom flavoring. In addition to the qualms voiced in the paragraph above, I’m just not sure I like the combination of vegetal green teas and fruity/floral/sweet flavors. I like to keep sweet and salty/savory flavors separate when it comes to food, so I suppose it’s not surprising that my preferences on this carry over to tea.
I’ve tried preparing this tea several different ways. The first time I made it, I followed the instructions Den’s provides. Subsequently, I’ve made many cups’ worth of this tea western style; I’ve also tried it as a cold brew (my first!). I think my least favorite of the three methods was, surprisingly, the official one. This is partly due to my bias toward quick and easy tea preparation – I like to keep tea relaxing, and all the timing and measuring involved in gongfu brewing just doesn’t do that for me. But it’s also partly due to the differing flavor profiles – I found that the western and cold brews both gave me stronger flavors (in terms of both the sencha and the cherry blossom) than did the official method, and I like strong flavors. I found the western hot brew (which I drink hot) and the cold brew (drunk cold, obviously) to taste pretty similar, although I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison.
I’ve been drinking this for the past couple of days and have been getting markedly more peach flavor than I did when I first tried it (and wrote my initial tasting note). Although this black base is still not my all-time favorite, now that I’m getting some peach notes I’d actually say the base works better with peach than it does with some of Lupicia’s other flavorings. I’m raising my score several points.
This is another sample from my swap with moraiwe. I love jasmine and haven’t tried many black jasmine teas, so I was curious about this one. While steeping, the tea smells very floral – it’s not necessarily an aroma I’d normally associate with jasmine, though, but rather a generic and quite perfume-y kind of floral.
Flavor-wise, the orange notes are very strong. That’s the first thing I notice. The jasmine’s a close second and, again, it’s more that generic, perfume-y (teetering on the border of soapiness) floral as opposed to a true, natural jasmine. The flavoring overwhelms the tea base to the point where I can hardly taste it at all. This isn’t terrible, but it’s not particularly good either. There are plenty of better jasmine teas – bagged and loose – out there.
This tea smells and tastes very strongly of caramel and vanilla – or rather, of caramel and vanilla coffee syrups. I’m having a hard time separating the two flavors (which are pretty much all I’m getting – the black base is rather faint). Unsurprisingly, this tea is quite sweet. The flavors are a bit on the artificial side, but not in a particularly bad way. This isn’t an outstanding tea, but it’s a pleasant grocery store option and I ended up enjoying my cup more than I’d expected to. Thanks to moraiwe for including this in my swap package!
I’ve been drinking a lot of this at work, and I don’t know what I’ve been doing – I don’t generally pay much attention to steeping parameters at work – but I’ve been getting a lot more fruit flavor out of this tea recently. I think I’ve been using less leaf; maybe that’s it? I’d say the flavor I’m getting is more currant than raspberry, but it’s definitely there. It’s faintly floral and quite pleasant. Raising my rating several points.
I feel like this is a milestone in my tea-drinking career! This tea is so hyped around here; I’m very excited to try it but I’m also wondering whether it can possibly live up to the rave reviews. It sounds out-of-this-world amazing, but then I do have to keep in mind that I often have quite different preferences from what seems to be the majority of people on Steepster. This’ll also be my first tea from Verdant – I’d been wanting to try them for a while, and a few weeks back I caved and ordered the 5 for 5 pack. Of those, this is the first sample I’m trying (yes, I am slow).
I’ll preface this by saying I’m brewing this western style – while I find it interesting to read about gongfu brewing, I know all of the precise measuring and timing would stress me out, and one of the reasons I enjoy drinking tea is for relaxation. Anyway, the dry leaf smells super chocolatey – this is very encouraging! Specifically, it smells like cocoa powder. I think of myself as not a very sensitive taster, and I was worried I might miss the chocolate notes everyone raves about with this tea. But nope, they’re here! The strong cocoa smell continues while the tea steeps, and cocoa’s also very present in the flavor profile. This tea also tastes very, very roasty – almost burnt, even. I’m generally a fan of roasty teas, but this is a bit much. There’s also a slight leathery note, and some sweetness. There’s not much in the way of bitterness or astringency. The second steep is similar to the first, just weaker.
So, this tea… aside from the burnt taste, which is a slight detraction, it’s a very solid, very pleasant back. I’m finding myself a bit disappointed, though – after all the buildup, I was expecting something more. I’m not sure what, and I’m not even sure I’ve ever had a black tea that rose to the level of epic awesomeness I’d hoped to find in Laoshan Black. I always think of myself as a black tea fan, and while I certainly enjoy drinking blacks, I’m realizing that most – maybe even all – of the teas I’ve really loved have been greens or oolongs. My platonic ideal of a black tea may not in fact exist – I think when I see mention of bread or grain or toast notes, I expect them to come through in a somewhat more literal fashion than is realistic. Maybe.
I’d still be interested in trying the spring harvest – I’m pretty sure, though not 100%, that this is autumn, and I see a lot of people have found the autumn harvest too roasty and generally disappointing.
My first puer! Or possibly my second – I feel like I may have tried one at Samovar a long time ago, but if I did I can’t remember anything much about it. Also the first tea I’m trying from my swap with Rie!
So, this tea – the dry leaf smells mostly like strawberry candy (a bit artificial, but not in a bad way) and also a bit chocolate-y and earthy. Rie suggested doing a brief rinse, but in my excitement to taste this I completely forgot about it. So no rinse for me.
For the first steep, I (accidentally – the more I get into different kinds of higher-end teas, the more I realize I am terrible at brewing properly) used less-than-boiling water and steeped for about (yep, my attention to detail could use some improvement!) 45 seconds. Flavor-wise, the first steep is mildly – and very pleasantly – earthy. There’s no fishy smell or taste whatsoever, thankfully. I’m not quite getting the forest floor/horse barn kinds of notes I often see mentioned with puers either, but I’d say this one leans (very slightly) in that sort of direction. There’s also a hint of chocolate; fortunately, it’s quite natural-tasting and blends well with the base. A lot of chocolate teas veer too close in flavor to the abomination that is chocolate soda for my liking, and I’m pleased to report that this one does not. This chocolate flavoring is nicely subtle. I’m not really getting any strawberry notes, although the brewed tea does smell rather like strawberry syrup or pie. I see a lot of mentions of strong strawberry flavor in other reviews, so it could be that my less-than-stellar brewing technique is at fault; in addition to what I’ve already mentioned, I suspect I may have ever-so-slightly underleafed. But strawberry or no, the first steep’s very enjoyable. There’s a bit of sweetness and also a bit of astringency, but the latter is no bad thing in my opinion.
Now for the second steep (1:30) – this is not dissimilar to Steep 1, although the earthy notes from the puer are a bit more prominent. The third steep (2:00) I messed up by using too much water. It tastes weak and weirdly sweet. It’s drinkable but not great. I attribute this entirely to user error. Fourth steep (2:30) is a similar deal – I think I killed the leaves with the excess water in the third steep. Oh well; I have enough left in my sample for one more brewing session and I’ll endeavor to be more attentive when I use it.
Thanks very much to Rie for sending this sample! This is probably going on my list for my next Lupicia order, and it’s definitely made me want to delve deeper into the world of puer.
This tastes a lot like Lupicia’s Jardin Sauvage, except that the fruit flavors here are more pronounced. The citrus notes are the strongest, followed by something sweeter and vaguer that, on re-reading the description, I think must be peach. The green rooibos doesn’t come through very strongly – I’m not getting the honey whole-heat pretzel flavor I often taste with green rooibos – although it works well as a base with the fruit flavors. The blend is quite sweet and very refreshing. I think I like it a bit better than Jardin Sauvage, just because I prefer the balance of fruit to rooibos here. I should mention that I drank this iced (brewed hot, then chilled). I’ve only had Jardin Sauvage hot so far; I’ll have to ice it and see how it compares.
Green rooibos is relatively new to me, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I much prefer it to its red counterpart. Given that, I’ve been exploring green rooibos blends lately, and I’ve already found a bunch of enjoyable options – including Jardin Sauvage.
The dry leaf smells very fruity. It’s making me think of orange soda – not the artificial neon kind, but something more along the lines of San Pellegrino Aranciata.
Taste-wise, the green rooibos base is dominant – it has a pleasant sweet flavor that always reminds me of honey whole-wheat pretzels. The fruit flavoring isn’t terribly strong, but it is present. I’m mostly getting citrus, although there’s something else I can’t quite pin down. Someone mentioned dried mango in another review, and I think that might be it. I’m definitely not tasting fresh mango. The flavoring works nicely with the rooibos, I think.
As others have noted, Jardin Sauvage seems like a funny name for such a light, delicate tea. But regardless, this is a really refreshing caffeine-free option. I bet it would be good iced, and I know I’ll enjoy having it in my stash this summer.