148 Tasting Notes

83
drank Stanley's Blend by Harney & Sons
148 tasting notes

Just a short note for this one! This is a good blend, but there’s not much complexity to talk about (well, not that I can pick up).

I had a little sample of this today – like the Malachi McCormick, this is quite decent! It’s got plenty of malty body thanks to the Assam, with just a hint of Darjeeling to brighten it up. This does get really astringent as it cools, though.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Chance Combinations by Custom
148 tasting notes

I’m in the home stretch! Only 3 weeks until winter break, and then Rayn and I head to Utah for 6 days to see the in-laws.

We love peppermint tea in this house. Right now I’m sipping on a combination of Peppermint from Adagio (good all by itself) and catnip from an herb shop here in SF (not that kind, tsk tsk, I mean HERBS). I read that catnip is calming and can also be good for tummies. I’m happy to report that unlike when my cats have some catnip, I am not attempting to travel as far as possible simply by rolling, nor have I slapped or bit Rayn yet. ;) This is a pretty nice bedtime/happy stomach tisane.

And if you want a quick laugh, here’s a short video of my kitties hopped up on the ’nip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrpFPPf3MMo&feature=plcp

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Lindsay

cute kittens!

Bear With Me

mint and catnip is the perfect combination for soothing angry tummies!
But hasn’t anybody told your kitties to make love, not war? haha!

Claire

They’re normally nice to each other (they’re sisters) but catnip brings out the slap fights!

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94

Garret kindly sent me a sample of this in my Mandala Tea order!

I don’t have much experience with sheng, but this shows signs of good aging, I think. The liquid is slightly sweet and grassy, with the tiniest hint of sour. I’m picking up a bit of a floral note in here as well, like a subdued oolong. I tend to get this interesting back of the throat scratchy feeling with some puerhs too, and while it feels a bit odd, I’ve come to associate it with good puerhs since it’s occurred with most good ones that I’ve had. I’m getting the throat feeling with this one! I also have lots of energy right now after 2 cups (about 8oz).

Thanks again for the sample Garret, and I’m hoping I have the funds to pick up one of these cakes up in the future! :)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Garret

HI Claire! I’m so happy you are enjoying this. You and I seem to have some synchronous pu’er thang goin’ on since we met! I had this same pu’er today, too! I am shooting to do another pressing of the same leaf, from the same family next spring, too. I love that orchid flower hint in this tea… it definitely is reminiscent of some taiwanese high mountain oolongs. I look forward to what this will be in 5-10 more years! I’ve got a bunch set aside for just that sort of finding out :) Have a merry night!

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92
drank November Bouquet by Handmade Tea
148 tasting notes

This is my first shipment from Handmade Tea, and it’s delicious!

I’ve tried this a couple of different ways now: first, given Caleb’s suggestion of a 4 min steep. The rose and jasmine are really strong with that method and it reminded me a lot of Lupicia’s Yume blend. What made it stand out compared to Yume was the hint of lemon in the background.
The second way I’ve tried this (and my favorite) is with short subsequent steeps, starting around 15 seconds. The smell is lightly chocolate-like and floral, and the lemon balm really pops with the short steeps!

I got the mini subscription to Handmade Tea, and this arrived in two small tins. I gave one to my brother-in-law and he wrote the other day to say he loves this too!

Can’t wait to see what comes in the mail in December. :)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Dinosara

That really sounds like a tea I would love! Guess I will have to look up the Yume blend since this one isn’t available outside the subscription. Too bad!

Sil

Curse you for reminding me they exist! Someday they’ll ship to Canada….someday

Claire

Oh no, I’ve been cursed! D:
Hopefully Caleb will extend the company to Canada some day, I think it’s a great concept, and now I know it’s great tea too.

Sil

That would be awesome…

Becky

It really is a great tea. I feel like some kind of neanderthal when I drink it, because it’s just too nice for the likes of me.

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98

It feels like a long time since I’ve logged a tasting note. This past week I’ve mostly been drinking Phatty Cake from Mandala and this fantastic Tieguanyin from Verdant!

The orchid notes in this are very strong and the sweetness lingers for a long time after every sip. The mouthful is incredible on this tieguanyin, creamy and thick.

One of the things that’s fascinated me the most about this harvest is the color of the liquid. It’s a really vivid yellow, even with short steeps (15 seconds). Almost an unbelievable shade of lemon, as if it can’t be natural (but is).

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95

This is a fantastic little fat cake. I’m on the 8th or 9th steep now (I lost count) and it’s STILL going. And on top of that, it’s still going with short steeps, like 15-20 seconds.

This is the kind of shu that I just love. Deliciously earthy and mushroom-like, no fishy sneaking in there, slightly spicy and reminiscent of hanging out on some pine needles with giant redwoods. I know there are some puerh purists out there who would snark at this description, but that’s just what it does for me!

I had some really mellow and euphoric feelings with this shu as well, especially in the first few steeps. Ever since then I have been AWAKE. Of course now it’s (checks time) 11:30 and very soon I need to be asleep…

I drank this from the time I got home from work until now, when I need to crawl into bed. Such a good (cute, it’s cute darn it) little cake.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Garret

What a great thing to read this morning! Of course I am hoping that you found your way to sleep after your late night tea session, but am sure happy to hear that you had enjoyed the tea so much!

It was named Phatty Cake cause it is such a cute, it’s cute darn it, fat, little cake. And by the way, Claire, your description is the perfect description because it is what YOU got from the tea, so thank you for that. I love the redwoods!

Claire

I slept great too! :) Forgot to add last night that my cats actually found the smell of this tea fascinating. First they wanted to sniff the cake, and then my cat Wiggles kept hopping on my lap to sniff at my cup of tea!

Garret

I’m amazed at how I can do a tea sesh late in the evening and still sleep so well! Oh, and the secret ingredient in the Phatty Cake is catnip, I forgot to tell you. J/K. My old dog, Wilson, drank cool green tea in his bowl often. He lapped it right up!

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61
drank Formosa Oolong #8 by Adagio Teas
148 tasting notes

I got this little sample along with my tasting cup.

I have had tea EXACTLY like this before. This tastes just like bagged yamamotoyama oolong. In fact, a lot of the leaves in this sample are crushed enough that I think it might literally be the exact same tea!

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84
drank Korean Sejak by DAVIDsTEA
148 tasting notes

This is my second time trying a Korean green tea, and what can I say except that I really like the taste of seaweed. This is similar to the Daejak I had from Upton, but the flavor is much stronger from what I remember. It’s brothy and salty. I got about 5 small steeps out of this, and past steep three it starts becoming unremarkable, tasting like a generic green tea. That second steep though – mmm, just like seaweed salad!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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92

My 100th tasting note on Steepster! Thanks to everyone for making this community what it is: a friendly and fantastic hangout for tea fanatics. I visit this place at least a couple times a day (usually more) because it’s just a great place to be!

This was a sample I got with my last Verdant order, and I tried it gongfuish style in my tasting cup, with subsequent short steeps. Like the Laoshan black, the little curly dry leaves gradually unfold into full tea leaves. On my first sip I was immediately hit with asparagus! Thankfully I love asparagus. Next there were green beans. On the second steep the beans were still there but also a bit of toast flavor. Third steeps and after it got really creamy and buttery, almost like the bi luo chun I had a few months back but the sesame oil flavor was not quite as strong. Unfortunately I didn’t try the summer harvest while it was available, but this is a really delicious and well-made green. What can I say? The He family just makes fantastic tea.

Warning: this ended up really long!
I’ve been swirling something around inside my brain for awhile now on the nature of snobbery as it relates to tea and literature, and I think I will finally share it. Without going into too many details, awhile back someone came on the Steepster forums and said something about a much loved tea company that was not nice (or true), and it was pretty snobby too. It got me thinking.
At the time I was working on a paper comparing Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” to Thomas Kyd’s “The Spanish Tragedy”. I had a couple of thoughts on how I think of snobbery, and I think Shakespeare serves as a good example for both of them. First, that sometimes people make things highbrow or “fancy” when the original creator did not intend for it to be highbrow or fancy. Second, that being able to appreciate what is “fancy” does not necessarily take away from one’s enjoyment of things that are not. (Can you tell I just put on my academic writing hat?)
To tackle the first issue, let’s think about Shakespeare and “Titus Anddronicus”. Our society absolutely views Shakespeare as highbrow entertainment. In part, this is an issue of language; the English language has evolved quite a bit since the Renaissance. However I think Shakespeare is largely thought of as highbrow because academia has made him so. How many times have we heard Shakespeare referred to as the greatest author that ever lived? And yet, Shakespeare was far from highbrow in his own time. In later years his troupe performed for royalty on occasions, but if you were a Londoner in Shakespeare’s day you could see one of his plays for a penny. You could also see a bear-baiting for a penny, in fact those took place right down the street. Shakespeare wrote from popular demand; playwrights had to keep up with popular opinion if they did not want to lose a sale to bear-baiting. “Titus Andronicus” is a prime example of this; it’s full of revenge, spectacle, and dead bodies. Revenge tragedies were very popular when he wrote it. People wanted to see revenge and dead bodies, so Shakespeare gave it to them. It’s only now that we make it highbrow entertainment. Likewise, I do not imagine that all tea makers think of making tea as a “highbrow” beverage, but how often do people make it so?
Secondly, I understand that as we enjoy better tea, our tastes change. As I have learned more about literature, I’ve gained a better appreciation of certain authors and books. Five years ago I would not have written a six page paper based off of four lines in a Shakespeare play. However, this knowledge has not made me only happy to read Shakespeare or classic authors. In fact, many of the books I read for enjoyment are new and popular books. I may not feel they are as complex as Shakespeare, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. However, there are limits to this; there are some massively popular books out there that without naming titles, I just think are bad. Likewise, there are many teas I might have enjoyed years ago that I now think are bad. What I hope is that I continue to find a balance. I want to be able to appreciate very fine teas as well as the ones that are decent, or middle of the road. I hope that I also always appreciate fine literature, as well as the books that are just decent. I think sometimes we can like things that are not “highbrow”, and things that are fancy don’t have to be fancy.

And if you’re still with me after all that, I award you five gold star stickers.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Claire

Thanks Bonnie! :)

Bonnie

HOORAY FOR YOU 100!!! As the winemaker at Mondavi told me, he sometimes drank Gallo Reserve which was inexpensive but tasted good even though his wines were more expensive and highly desired. To be a tea ‘snob’ is to have a lack of humility. When you lose humility, you prove that you have failed to learn from tea. You have made a good point.

Rachel Sincere

Congrats on #100!

Ninavampi

Congrats no 100!!!

DaisyChubb

Claire! Amazing, first of all – congrats for 100!
Second of all, I would like to redeem my 5 stars ;)

That was wonderfully written – I’m a theatre student so I followed the whole way (while kicking myself as to why I had never thought of it that way before ;) ) Thank you for opening my eyes to a way of thought that I’ve been struggling with ever since the little forum kerfuffle.

Thank you for putting my feelings into words :)

Donna A

Very interesting thoughts. I got my bachelor’s in nursing, but took Shakespeare as an elective and when I found out I would be having to write even just a page or two on a few lines in Shakespeare, I was very anxious to say the least! Anyway, I think you make some great points regarding both tea and books.

Invader Zim

Congrats on 100 Claire! Now where’s my 5 stars?! You write well enough that even I, a wildlife science major, was able to follow and understand. I agree with Bonnie in that the nature of snobbery/highbrow is the lack of humility.

softrevolution

Loved reading this! What an interesting comparison; I found myself nodding along with you as I read – there are so many things in food, literature, and culture in general that have humble beginnings but somehow stumble into the realm of highbrow, which I find pretty amusing. Lobster and foie gras come to mind as dishes that started out as poor man’s food but evolved into delicacies. Really makes you wonder!

Claire

Thanks everyone and 5 gold star stickers to all my readers (and I hope you all have some good tea too)! :)

Bonnie

I wish we could all have afternoon Tea, go to the Theatre for Shakespeare then have a dinner of Lobster and Foie Gras with some good Wine.

Claire

That sounds fantastic, Bonnie. I’m down for all of that!

Angrboda

I agree with your thoughts about the snobbery. When I first started really learning about tea, I turned completely super-snob for a while? Tea bags? No thank you. Cream in tea? Gosh, no! Always milk if anything. That sort of thing. All. The. Way. Now, however, I have learned even more and I’ve come to realise that life is just too short for that sort of thing, and if I occasionally drink the odd teabag when there’s nothing else interesting available, then so be it. I can always go home and make something else afterwards. I can’t be bothered to be a snob. It’s way too energy consuming, really.

bravedave

Totally agree with your thoughts Claire. Well said.

Nik

Congrats on 100, Claire! Loved reading your thoughts on tea, literature and snobbery. I agree with Angrboda: life’s just too short. For me, drinking tea is less about education and health than it is about yum. Every cup of tea is made in search of the almighty yum. Your yum may not be the same as my yum, and that’s okay. If my yum is achieved with the help of milk ‘n’ sugar, condensed milk, honey, maple syrup, ‘nog, whatever, that’s okay too. And if other tea drinkers don’t agree with me and cringe at my list of potential additives, well, that’s okay too. =)

Mark B

Well said.

Claire

Thanks again everyone for the kind words. Recently my friend Lauren wrote a post on being inclusive vs. exclusive and it summed up a lot of my feelings on the subject: http://www.falconesse.com/2012/11/14/theres-room-for-everyone-in-the-nerd-house/

Claire

I forgot to add there is a lot of swearing in that post, so if swearing offends you fyi!

Donna A

I think Lauren has the right idea. Why not be inclusive (as long as no harm is being done?)

Invader Zim

I agree, there’s no need to make fun of someone because of their interests or lack of knowledge of something. Introduce them to it if you are interested in it instead of excluding them!

El Monstro

A lot of my professors didn’t care for Shakespeare that much. If I remember correctly, a lot of his stuff is basically updated Greek plays? There are all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories involving him too. I liked Macbeth and his psycho wife quite a bit.

Claire

Many of his plots were adapted or taken from Greek works, and Shakespeare was particularly influenced by Ovid’s Metamorphoses. While today we see this kind of writing as largely negative, this was the standard for the 16th and early 17th century. If you read a lot of Renaissance literature, you’ll see that authors commonly borrowed from one another or mimicked another person’s work. For some interesting examples of borrowing, read Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy and then Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, or Shakespeare’s Hamlet and then The Revenger’s Tragedy (author unknown). Other fun facts: Shakespeare was not the only writer of his time to write plays called “King Lear” or “Hamlet.” His telling of King Lear has some shocking changes compared to other playwright’s versions. Unfortunately Kyd’s version of Hamlet got lost.

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85
drank Peach by Teaves Tea Company
148 tasting notes

I won this in Teaves October giveaway, and they sent me a really big sample! I brewed up a cup this afternoon while Rayn and I watched some Avatar episodes and we both liked it. The flavor is right on the nose a big, juicy, ripe peach! I also tasted a little hint of lemon in the background. I think this would make a fantastic iced tea – in fact, I think I’ll do that.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Becky

Avatar plus tea is probably the best combination of cartoon-to-beverage ever.

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Profile

Bio

I mostly drink straight tea, and some of my favorites are green teas and oolongs. I almost always have some sencha and tieguanyin in my tea cupboard (and if I run out, awesome, an excuse to buy tea). I do like some flavored teas, but can’t stand really sugary stuff so if it’s very sweet I probably won’t like it. I can’t drink milk so all my reviews are of tea without milk and sugar!
I’ve been getting into puerh the last few months.

Outside of Steepster I’m an English Lit major, and will FINALLY be graduating after the Fall 2013 semester. After that I plan on applying for graduate school to obtain a Master’s in Library Science. Currently I work as a student assistant in the Archives and Special Collections department of my school’s library.
I also like reading (of course) and playing video games when I have time for them.

I’m happy to send samples to anyone in the US or Canada. Just ask. :)

Location

San Francisco, CA

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