612 Tasting Notes

drank Tiramisu Oolong by 52teas
612 tasting notes

Oh wow, I really like this! Thanks to Dexter3657 for sending it to me. To be honest, I’ve found 52teas to be very hit or miss lately so I wasn’t sure I’d like this but on the other hand it sounds potentially awesome, no? (I’m dating myself here by confessing I LOVE tiramisu in all its early ‘90s glory, yum!) Turns out it’s great! The tang promised in a lot of Frank’s cream cheese-involved blends never shows up for me, so I was excited I could smell a sour cream tang along with roasty coffee in both the dry leaf and the finished tea! The body/feel is fairly light but the flavor is really there, all of it—the sweet vanilla and roasty coffee, chocolate, sour cream, and even an icing thing, possibly from the marshmallow. I would order this, woo! It was so inspiring I decided to have some coconut yogurt to go with to pump up that tangy flavor I love, yum.

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

Sounds really yummy!

boychik

Great, now I want tiramisu ! What the brand of coconut yogurt? Recently I had amazing coconut yogurt I got at Stop&Shop
http://siggisdairy.com/v2/products/detail/skyr/coconut/84/

Dexter

Awesome, glad you enjoyed this – there was a little worry about you and 52teas blends. Glad it worked for you. :))

ifjuly

boychik, it was just So Delicious brand, which I’m not very familiar with—we just happened to have a coupon for it a while back, so. Was really good with the tea though, hee.

Dexter3657, sorry about that! Yeah, this is lovely. Thank you!

ifjuly

oh man boychik, I’ve had Siggi’s I think, only once maybe, while out of town somewhere…it was really really good! Jealous you can get it, haven’t seen it around my Kroger alas.

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drank New Vithanakande by Harney & Sons
612 tasting notes

This doesn’t taste like most Ceylon I’ve had, I must say. It has a bittersweet element, I’m guessing that’s the chocolate/cocoa note the copy describes, that is unusual and quite appealing. At first it didn’t seem particularly drying but as you drink down the cup and it cools that builds, but (at least to me) it’s never out of balance or problematic for a breakfast tea, meshes well with that bittersweetness. I really like this, could see drinking it in the morning. Onto the list of “Harney breakfast teas I could definitely see reordering and burning through first thing” it goes, and my what a stable of teas that is. I’m also a tad curious how this would taste blended with something like rose scented, yum.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Was bracing myself for this to taste bitter, thin, or otherwise disappointing or even gross—I’ve had some bad luck with tea that tries to taste like sweet coffee in the past—but I don’t know if it’s because I just had bamboo tea which is like a citrusy scrubbing out of the mouth or what but this is pretty good. The smell and taste of rooibos is definitely present but it’s not overpowering as rooibos-y dessert stuff goes. At first I didn’t really get any sense of cappucino or coffee at all, but then I remembered I haven’t actually had cappucino in like 10+ years and adjusted my coffee expectations, keeping in mind cap’s often more about caramel sweetness and creaminess over coffee flavor. With that in mind I can see it. This would be a nice late afternoon pick-me-up when I can’t actually have caffeine for whatever reason, because it does energize me, perhaps just from the memory association of the flavor containing caffeine in the past if that makes sense. It’s got a toasty sweet element that is right on a cold winter day like this, and brings nostalgia of a time in the ’90s when this sort of coffee drink profile was more a thing, aw.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Bamboo by Harney & Sons
612 tasting notes

OK, time for some tealess stuff now that it’s late. When I opened this tonight I was a little skeptical I’d like it—it really does just look like straight up unprocessed planty green tree leaves, needle-shaped and fluffy, hard to spoon out—figured it might be how non-tea people often dismiss tea as just tasting like some weak plant matter in hot water. Very surprised to find it steeps up a brilliant, almost glowing neon yellow-green color, and tastes quite sweet and clean, a bit like grapefruit. Really enjoying that Asian-y (which is to say fresh, not candied like Sweet Tarts) sweet-and-sour flavor. I could totally see drinking this any time of day when I want the bright sweetness of fresh-squeezed citrus juice but also something to warm and comfort me (making actual hot orange or grapefruit juice seems kinda gross, no?). There’s something else to the aroma that adds dimension too—I want to say kind of like hay or straw or alfalfa, hard to pin down. I imagine this’d be delicious paired with the right kinds of foods, dishes that call for something citrus-sparkling clean and sweet. Yum! Just call me the panda at the tea party ’cause I really dig this, ha.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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Another thoughtful awesomely unique pick from Dexter3657—seriously, this swap box is loaded with things that feel picked just for me in the most touching way. Thank you!

My goodness this is a complicated tea. I have a feeling I may have overleafed or oversteeped it slightly, but thankfully I don’t mind a touch of bitterness (in fact, I think I may even prefer it with this one because of how it evokes chocolate—Dexter3657 was kind enough to send enough so I can try it normally too and compare!).

I do think that accidental bitterness might be contributing to the impression of chocolate candy I’m getting, as it combines with the sugary marshmallow component. It’s creamy and sweet, makes me think of those big chocolate-covered marshmallow candies but with fancier/darker, higher cacao-content chocolate. It took me a moment to find the Earl underneath that complicated flavor, and it’s still relatively faint for me but the zestiness lends a brightness that helps even out the fluffy vanilla marshmallow sweetness. The orange comes out more as it cools too, and the combination of chocolate and vanilla and marshmallow candy combined with bright orange ultimately makes it a poster child tea of the holiday season (no wonder it was part of the 12 days of Christmas promo!). This feels like a rich, cocoa-y beverage with added orange peel to me. It’s heavy and intense. Not an everyday pick but a nicer more grown up upgrade option from hot cocoa on a snowy day, I think.

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

OMG I love this tea! I am glad you got to try some. It is quite tasty :)

ifjuly

it grows on me the more i drink it! i went from “whoa there is a lot going on here, and all of it loud” to “huh…i really like this!”

VariaTEA

It is definitely an interesting blend. I am glad you are liking it more and more.

MissB

I’m still trying to find out if we can order a reblend of this, perhaps in a large order. Really tasty!

VariaTEA

They made a reblend MissB. There might still be some available. If not, I bought 100 g so I can always send some your way.

Amariel

I’ve seen a lot of people posting about this one.

MissB

Ha! Awesome. I did email Dan asking him for a reblend, however we must be having communication issues. I’d definitely love some, however zero rush. I know how much you love this one too. :)

Sil

he did reblend.

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drank Figue Fraîche by Dammann Freres
612 tasting notes

This was a ZOMG diamond prize in the awesome swap box Dexter3657 sent me—I’ve been DYING to try it; it’s the tea from Dammann that was the main motivation every time I’d go through the hoops of online shopping basket calculations and fretting about customs—huge THANK YOU! Every time I nearly pulled the trigger on an overseas or through-some-mysterious-North-American-vendor-and-still-expensive order, I teetered on that ledge and walked off just in time by reminding myself until I know for sure I love this or other similar gorgeous sounding blends from them it’s silly really.

So to be honest, I’ve been secretly hoping to be let down a little so I can breathe a sigh of relief and forget about all the hassle/cost. Well. Turns out not quite. There are not angels blowing trumpets in my mouth or anything, but this is quite good. It’s hard to find many fig teas at all, harder still to find any that really taste of fig, and then nearly impossible to find ones that taste of fig AND are tasty as tea. While not the rapturous perfection I was fantasizing about in my head (a perfect fresh fig is, for me, one of the most transcendent and dizzingly sexy gastronomic experiences one can have), this is good and grows on me the more I linger on it. I can see why the smell could be offputting to some—it’s a very ripe bordering on spoiled fig, or maybe like a jammy, cooked down or dried one. You know that aromatic element of extremely soft, sweet-to-bursting, floral-rot funk fruit gets, kind of wine skin-ish? It’s like that. What’s interesting is flavor-wise it does not taste overly sweet at all. It’s a bit woody-drying thanks to the Ceylon I think, and it fits well because it captures the seed-filled sticky quality of a real fig. There’s a subtle tartness too that works well with that texture. And I like that you can taste the tea, and it contributes naturally to the impression of figginess.

So. I rather like this. I’m not blown away though, so I’m thinking it’s a good thing I didn’t go crazy ordering DF for myself in full-size amounts just yet. Thank you so much Dexter3657 for helping me figure this all out. Super useful opportunity.

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

There is a huge fig tree near where I work, and we often pass it on our way to lunch. The smell of the figs in season is dizzingly uplifting. I love figs!

Dexter

Sorry that you weren’t blown away, but really happy to have helped you in the learning/exploration of this tea. Try before you buy is always a good thing – maybe you’ll find something else you like better that is easier to get a hold of. :))

ifjuly

Man Dex, I’ve been trying to no avail to leave comments on your notes all week but whenever I hit post they disappear into the ether and suddenly the page says I’m not following you. Ack! Anyway, I’ve been so happy to see you dig some of the stuff I sent—I haven’t tried the wine pu erh yet myself but now I’m even more excited to (let’s not go into what that even says about the sorry crazy state of affairs re: my out of control stash, heh).

Anyway, yes! I’ve really been enjoying the teas you sent me—had a bunch of the fancypants straight blacks last week and need to log them soon, and my husband and I have been enjoying the S&Vs for afternoon tea—and this was definitely the one I knew would be the most useful/game-changing for me, where it’d either convince me to part with a bunch of money and start stressing about DF ordering, or I’d be relieved, ha. I’m so glad I have a better grip on their tea now. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve tried of theirs but not “spend a fortune to buy 100g” in love, which is perfect really. Thank you so much!

ifjuly

NofarS, as a fig fiend that is my idea of heaven! (:

Dexter

Not to worry – Steepster has been misbehaving for me this week too. Happy that you have been enjoying the package I sent you. :))
I don’t want to talk about the sorry state of my cupboard – I haven’t tried ANY not one of my BF teas – including this one. I haven’t tried any of the Fauchon I sent you…. out of control stash. I need to take a couple of days and drink some of MY teas.:))

__Morgana__

I remember finding this tea somewhat discombobulating when I first tasted it because I’d never had fig in tea before, but once I got past that I became a big fan.

MissB

Heh, you two and me as well with the out-of-control stashes! :) I have a huge fig tree in my front yard.. I should see about mailing them off when they’re ripe again, because literally pounds of them went to waste last year. I posted on Craigslist for people to come and get them, even.

ifjuly

Sooooo jealous! I would gorge on them ‘til I got sick if I could in the summertime, nothing makes me feel quite as languid and summery voluptuous as biting into a fresh fig, yum. A few friends here have had trees in the past at the apartments/houses they rented, but they’ve since moved on. I can’t grow anything that survives past a year to save my life alas, so I am fruitless.

I also always think of that cheesy-funny scene in the movie adaptation of House of Mirth with Gillian Anderson where the guy comes on to her by offering her figs and mentioning their, ehrm, evocative qualities. Haha.

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drank Thé de Lune by Mariage Frères
612 tasting notes

Still more awesome elegant and unusual tea from JustJames! He is a wonderful Steepster friend, not for these amazing swaps only of course but for messaging me when I sound blue in my notes, all kinds of reaching out. Friends on Steepster warm me emotionally, not just physically with tea!

This tea is something else. It’s got that trademark French tea quality of being immediately heady thanks to the layered perfume of it. What sets it apart though is after that initial hit of haunting floral fragrance there’s a peppery note! I am really digging that part; I seem to love when teas have some lurking aspect that’s highly unexpected but works (like say, the green chile and masa harina qualities in Mandala’s Morning Sun, or the cooling mint in their Loose and Luscious Lincang, or the mint in Taiwan Tea Crafts’ Red Jade). As the copy notes, the pepper gives the entire blend a modern edge that sharpens the more classic/vintage powdery femmy floral softness of the rest of the blend. That striking balance reminds me of the best of my favorite modern perfumes. Wonderful stuff. Visually beautiful too!

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

I like this one too and miss it from my Stash.

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Another fantastic gift from JustJames, whee!

I was a little apprehensive about this one as blueberry in tea can fall into the “tart berry fruit dryness” category I find myself often so averse to, plus I’ve never had purple tea so while exciting who knows if I’ll like it? But like it I do! This is delicious. The blueberry is again not the fake candy kind (nothing ever is with Butiki though of course), but like drinking the juice of a fresh one exploded and warm. It’s fresh and zingy like a real blueberry but not very puckery. This is a bright, cheerful tea that manages to avoid that particular kind of astringency I hate. I would totally drink this again! I think it would be fun in the morning, the beverage equivalent of some fresh blueberries and yogurt for breakfast, yum. Instantly cheering.

People here are saying it resteeps like a dream too, so after I try some other teas tonight I think I will give that a go! If it does that seems like it’d make this a great bargain—you only use 1/2 teaspoon for 8oz, quite unusual.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Sil

Yay!

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drank Hello Sweetie by Butiki Teas
612 tasting notes

I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to drink this tea as it’s super precious—JustJames was wonderfully generous and sent me some despite it being a custom blend from Butiki he worked hard with Stacy to perfect and it’s not otherwise available. Tonight was finally ideal—lots of time to relax and focus on it, and it’s bracingly cold but clear outside, the perfect time to feel grateful you’re holed up at home warm and comfy.

And it was perfect. This is splendid—creamy and rich but somehow not too heavy, there’s still a lovely sense of lightness somehow. The smell is a wonderful synthesis of banana and sweetness, miles away from candy runts artificial cloyingness, somehow evoking both freshness and softness. You get the sense of the natural floral sweetness of banana and the toffee/praline is present but never overly sugary, just adds a wonderful toasted edge. Love this, feel so lucky to have had an opportunity to try it. Thank you JustJames!

P.S. Forgot to mention something in my notes today…I’ve been throwing myself into Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel for the first time (I know!) thanks to a dear friend’s suggestion. Well, I love Giles to pieces already and also love celadon-colored kitchenware so that mug he regularly drinks tea from intrigued me. Went down a rabbit hole and learned it’s part of a line of vintage restaurantware made my Anchor Hocking, their Fire King Jadeite line. Today all the pieces I bid on on eBay arrived and I’m using them to drink my evening tea! The internet is so great sometimes—I’m the sort of person who, especially since relocating to the South, has zero luck finding such treasures on my own in walk-in spots. Whee. Pics here: http://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/t1/p480x480/1604613_10101830916914763_822531403_n.jpg and
http://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/p480x480/154854_10101830916924743_1899459971_n.jpg

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
__Morgana__

Sounds so wonderful!

MissB

A little birdy told me this may be available soon… knock on wood! :)

ifjuly

Oooooh!

__Morgana__

Sign me up!

Amariel

Still hoping to try this some day.

Stephanie

Yay Buffy! Giles is awesome, and so is that jadeite you got there! :D

ifjuly

I just saw the one where he wakes up a demon. Hahahaha! Poor Giles (I say that like every time I watch an episode!).

Stephanie

Season 8 and 9 are available in comic book form, BTW! Whedon produced and everything :)

CHAroma

OMG, I love Angel!!! Best opening music ever too. I picked up the violin when I was younger just so that I could learn that song. It’s a great series.

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Ugh, been outta commission due to work and then the last couple days when I’ve had free time to finally backlog Steepster’s been wonky. I’ve tried a ton of good teas the past month but logging has passed me by. :/ Will try to make note here and there the ones I remember being restockable.

The pine in here is lighter than I was expecting (I’m a fiend for those evergreen and rosemary-ish notes) but gives a little mysterious oomph that makes this good as a first-thing tea on a winter morning. The tea itself is nicely morning-y TEA flavor sturdy but not bitter or drying; I found the smoothness rather remarkable given the bases. Along with Bon Bon which I got obsessed with over Christmas, this is a definite “would restock” from SST (which is nice—I’ve been underwhelmed by the more notorious Steepster faves I’ve tried like Lord Bergamot and the Assam). Alas, it’s seasonal only. But bonus, like some of my favorite low fuss (read: no finicky temps needed) Harneys it’s bag-only and good for the holiday season when I’m mostly likely to be out of town and in need of decent bagged tea.

boychik

I missed your notes;)

ifjuly

you are too nice! i’m been so AWOL lately, and after getting awesome swap teas, ugh. and i keep trying to post comments to folks’ notes and that doesn’t work. :( crossing my fingers tomorrow works in my favor and i can catch up some!

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Profile

Bio

“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

black:
verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

oolong:
verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

green:
verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

white:
butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.

Location

Memphis, TN

Website

http://facebook.com/ifjuly

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