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169 Tasting Notes

40
drank Orange Jasmine by Vykasa
169 tasting notes

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.

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72
drank Vanilla Caramel by Bigelow
169 tasting notes

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!

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77
drank Framboise by Lupicia
169 tasting notes

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.

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77

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.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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84

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.

Rie

(-) Glad you were able to try it already!
The strawberry/more flavor seems to be best with longer infusions (starting at 1:30min), I think the longer infusions are a flavored puer thing.

greenteafairy

I’ll definitely try longer infusions next time! And even without much strawberry, I did really enjoy it.

Rie

Sounds great! :D
I just hope the rest of the Puer world is on the same level (;-;) The horror stories are scary, huh? :D;

greenteafairy

Very! I can get behind the forest-floor flavors (in theory, anyway!), and even the horse barn thing might be okay. But fishy tea… just no. Have you branched out into the world of unflavored (or less flavored) puers much?

Rie

The first time I brewed the C&S puer that ‘horse barn’ label was ringing through every sip like a nightmare (LOL). But now I kind of ‘get it’, so I’ll just keep trusting… No fish, no fish!

I haven’t had an unflavored Puer yet, I have some samples but didn’t have enough reason to open them because I loved drinking this C&S so much. I’ve set aside time to try one today, now that my C&S is gone. :c What about you? Any straight puer planned?

greenteafairy

I don’t have any straight puer, but I do plan to pick some up once I work through my stash a bit more – I know I don’t have as many teas as a lot of people, but even seeing my cupboard count inch toward 50 is getting me nervous! I’m not ready to commit to a large cake, or to anything really pricey, but I’ve identified a couple of options from Teavivre and Upton that seem like decent places to get started. I’ll be curious to know how you like the one you’re planning to try today! And yeah, that C&S is really good! I probably shouldn’t order from Lupicia again for about six months, but I’ll definitely be tempted once I finish that sample.

Rie

Haha, yeah, I’m nervous about the same (approaching 50). I do have a good selection in my stash as it is though, so I’m not in need of anything new. But then a lot of it is oolong, which I only brew gongfu less than 100mL at a time… hnn.

In that case, I’ll brew that Teavivre Puer today. :) What Puers are you drawn to in particular, just at face value? And yes, Lupicia is so tempting, I love the company so much. ;-; I already have a cart ready haha ;;

greenteafairy

I haven’t put a ton of thought into future puer selection, but I’ve been eyeing this one (http://steepster.com/teas/upton-tea-imports/11847-china-pu-erh-tuo-cha-size-1-zh30) and/or this one (http://steepster.com/teas/teavivre/26555-mengku-palace-ripened-golden-buds-loose-pu-erh-tea-2007). Mostly just because neither sound very fishy, or otherwise very intense. The Mandala Phatty Cake seems really good, but I don’t think I’m ready to spend $20 on an untried puer just yet. I’d also like to try Lupicia’s Sunny Fruits puer. Which Teavivre puer do you have?

Rie

They seem solid! I wish I had the Mengku Ripened Golden Buds 2007 one from Teavivre too. I have the Fengqing Ripened Golden Buds 2005. ^ -^

I plan to pick up Lupicia’s Sunny Fruits on my next order (semi-near future), I can send you a sample of that if you’d like. :D

Shelley_Lorraine

I must put in a good word for the Organic loose shu pu-erh from the Tea Spot. I am the only one who has reviewed it on Steepster and I know that the Tea Spot isn’t one of the trendy top sellers among most of you, but you should consider it; if only because they sell a 5 serving sample for $4 (or for $2 more you can get a small tin and ~10 servings). This was the very first pu-erh that I ever had and I’ve had quite a few nasties after it. I think if I didn’t start with this one, I would probably never give pu-erh a second chance. lol. I can’t comment for its gourmet pu-erh connoisseur quality, but I do like it! And so does most of my family.

greenteafairy

Rie – I would love to swap for a sample of the Sunny Fruits when you get it!

Shelley_Lorraine – That sounds great, especially the part about the $4 sample. I’m not too familiar with the Tea Spot, but am always interested in recommendations for less hyped sellers. Going on my shopping list now.

Rie

Thanks for the recommendation, Shelley! Need all the help for Puer possible, haha.

Sure thing, Emily! Can’t wait till then. :’D

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80

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.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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83
drank Jardin Sauvage by Lupicia
169 tasting notes

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.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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70

My first tea from Mariage Frères! I’ve been eyeing a bunch of theirs for some time – they have so many intriguing blends, although I do wish they’d provide more information in terms of ingredients, or at least more concrete descriptions of each tea’s flavor profile – and this one seemed like it’d be totally up my alley. Green base? Yes, please – that’s how I like my flavored teas best. Fruity? Definitely. Floral? Tell me more, Mariage Frères! Plus, “a blend of fragrances recalling the ripe fruit on a tray laden with offerings”? I’m sold.

So, my expectations were high. And, unfortunately, this tea is not meeting them. It’s very sweet. I wouldn’t say the sweetness resembles the flavor of any particular fruit, or even possesses a quality I’d consider fruity in a generic way. It reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. There is a bit of a generic floral taste, but it’s nothing particularly complex or exciting. The sencha base is solid – it’s light, smooth, and ever-so-slightly vegetal – so that’s a point in Bouddha Bleu’s flavor. The tea has a sweet aftertaste that I don’t entirely care for – but, I can finally place the not-quite-fruit flavor: bubblegum. Definitely bubblegum. I happen to pretty much hate the taste of bubble gum, so that’s kind of killing this tea for me.

I’ve tried Bouddha Bleu both hot and iced (brewed hot and then chilled), and have had pretty much the same experience each time. I really wanted to like this tea, but it’s just not living up to the hype (or the price) for me.

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72
drank Momo (Peach) by Lupicia
169 tasting notes

Decent, but still a bit of a disappointment. Although the dry leaf smells very strongly of gummy peaches, once the tea is brewed all I can smell or taste is the base. If I really focus I can maybe get a tiny hint of a peach note, but I was hoping for more than that. This has the same slightly smokey black base as the other flavored black teas I’ve tried from Lupicia. I don’t particularly think it plays well with fruity notes, to be honest. In cases of weaker flavoring (this tea, Framboise) it overwhelms the flavor profiles. Even in teas where the fruit flavors are stronger (Neptune, Strawberry), I just don’t find this base + fruit to make for awesome blends. I think it might be the smokiness that’s getting me, even though it’s not very strong and even though I don’t mind smokey black teas on their own.

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65
drank Paris by Harney & Sons
169 tasting notes

The dry leaves smell like berries – I’m reminded a bit of the aroma I get from the dry leaf of Republic of Tea’s Black Raspberry Green. I really enjoy the Black Raspberry Green, so I consider this a promising sign. Once the tea is brewed, it still smells fruity. I’d say the aroma is more reminiscent of currants than of berries at this point. That’s still good – I like both berries and currants.

The flavor of the tea, though, is not particularly strong on either currant or berry. Bergamot definitely seems to be the dominant flavor. The base is quite smooth, and it does come through reasonably well. I don’t taste much in the way of berries, but I am getting a mildly fruity aftertaste – more on this later. I’m not getting any vanilla whatsoever, nor do I notice anything that particularly strikes me as caramel. There is that sweet, fruity aftertaste that I don’t entirely care for – I almost feel like I’m left with a sticky coating in my mouth, as if I’ve just eaten something sugary. Maybe that’s meant to be the caramel? I don’t think I’ve ever had a tea with caramel flavoring before, so it could be that my expectations are a bit off. I’m not usually a huge fan of teas with more dessert-y flavors, anyway.

I really want to like this one, but this particular mix of flavors just isn’t doing it for me. I definitely prefer plain Earl Greys for those times when I need a bergamot fix, but I’m happy to have been able to try this tea as it’s one I’ve been curious about for some time. Thanks to ToiToi for the sample!

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Bio

Likes: greens, dark oolongs, genmaicha, fruity greens and oolongs, chai, matcha, jasmine, Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling

Dislikes: spearmint, chamomile, stevia, marshmallows, unflavored white teas, green oolongs

I’m always open to swaps; let me know if you’re interested!

Location

New York, NY

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