575 Tasting Notes
This is buttery and quite vegetal, and while it tastes good I’m relieved I’m not madly smitten ‘cause kamairicha is somewhat hard to find and on the pricey side, and doesn’t keep well (and I’ve already grown hopelessly fond of tencha and gyokuro, which involve similar hurdles). It’s good but not mindblowing. Lovely way to close out a harried last-day-before-true-holidays-are-upon-us evening. The weather is super gross here right now—abruptly warm (like 70F after dark warm, blech) and humid, just begging to give you a sinus infection. This hits the spot.
Going out of town for Christmas soon. In case I get swept up before that and don’t post, happy holidays y’all!
Whoa, this tastes just like a candy cane, only yeah, slightly more spiced/grown up…I can definitely understand the complaints and reservations because it’s so, so sweet, truly like sugar candy, but I’m weird and when the majority of a tea’s sweetness is thanks to licorice root for some reason I really like it (Stash Licorice Spice was a staple guilty pleasure of mine back in the day) despite knowing abstractly that it’s not that removed from the gross chemical-plastic pin-pointy saccharine cloying flavor of something like, I dunno, those ‘80s packets of Sweet n’ Low. It reminds me of those individually wrapped peppermint candies that come in squarish pillowy chunks (like fat candy canes that have been chopped into segments) and have a slight marshmallow-y give to them, you know the ones I mean? There’s SWEET, and mint, and then licorice rootiness and a tinge of gingery spice. I gotta admit, as someone who hasn’t eaten holiday peppermint candy in over 10 years this is totally doing it for me right now.
As someone obsessed with all things pine this time of year, when people started logging this for the holidays I was all over it (it helped I’d had a couple SSTs floating in the corners of my wishlist for a long time too). Steven Smith’s available in town but only 2 or 3 of the most obvious choices (think assam, mint). Decided to close out today’s festive outing with a cup before going to bed. Crazy I know but tomorrow’s an easy half day of work before 2 week break begins (yessss), and the scrumptious coffee stout I tried at the new local brewpub’s likely going to keep me awake a while longer anyhow…
This is lovely. The pine needle scent is most apparent in the dry leaf and freshly steeped, never heavy or obvious but there if you know to look for it, giving the whole thing a je ne sais quoi oomph I really dig. The tea itself is smooth and rich, perfect for this time of year—it’s hard to believe it’s darjeeling as it’s smoky and “dark” tasting, more like a lapsang souchong or assam but with a light, haunting body. [EDIT: I see now there is assam, so that solves that mystery!] There’s a slight roasted nut element in the taste more than smell that’s great and goes really well with the pine and smoke too. Really pretty stuff, and just what I was hoping for. A bit like holiday whiskey, ideal for this time of year if you like stronger flavors. Unlike for their Lord Bergamot the recommended steeping parameters do not result in an overly intense, bitter brew (a friend of mine in med school described it as “wake up and get your pith helmet” and boy she’s not foolin’); it’s just right. Tea has not been letting me down this week!
Yay I have found a tea that smells like very ripe sweet banana, not just banana candy! I was beginning to figure it was an impossible thing to capture in tea. As it steeps the aroma becomes more candy-like, but it’s worth it for that initial hit of real banana. Yum!
The chocolate is relatively subtle compared to the banana, which I appreciate because chocolate teas are a dime a dozen but strong-real-not-candy-banana is…well, yeah, this is the first one I’ve encountered. And the chocolate IS definitely there, especially at the end of the sip—goes very well with the floral sweet banana notes. It really does evoke a chocolate-covered banana.
The tea base is not obtrusive but also not completely AWOL, a nice balance (if I’m in the mood for banana tea we’re so far off into the woods flavor-wise from tea’s standard notes I’m not exactly also in search of nuanced TEA-ish leaves anyway). Smooth, and the floral notes in very ripe banana linger at the end. Perfect for afternoon tea today with palmiers. Yum! Towards the end of his cup husband involuntarily went “mmmm!” which is his highest seal of approval, hee.
Definitely lychee in a cup—clean, refreshing, with that “firmer than a grape and cleaner tasting too” flavor of fresh juicy lychees. Pretty sure I like the Strawberry Oolong more just because I love floral strawberry flavor (and it’s kind of hard to find in flavored teas—usually it’s the tarter kind), but this feels as close to eating a lychee as you could possibly get in a tea (it even leaves the mouthfeel, yum). I bet when it’s super hot this summer, coldsteeped this could save me.
Feeling mercurial; change is afoot. Or at least it feels that way right now. As Dexter3657 so helpfully pointed out to me, I seem to have gone from hating oolongs to loving them. Right now for me they’re what pu erh seems to be for many here—not an everyday unthinkingly enjoyed while a ravenous zombie-type staple tea, or even the comforting early evening sweet soothing flavored treats (still looooove those, don’t get me wrong), but when enjoyed pure, when I can carve out a chunk of me time to focus on them, completely mind-blowing. I remember looking at spots like Red Blossom and Silk Road and Yunnan Sourcing nearly a year ago and figuring it was all way over my straightforwardly-flavored-black-tea-loving head (and it was). Now I’m contemplating in a few months venturing into that wild world. Nuts. I love how there’s an approach to tea for every mindset and development and craving one can imagine.
Anyway, this vaguely connects to trying this wonderfully generous sample Stacy threw in with one of my recent orders because I found myself wanting to try it tonight for the hope of oolong taste more than the fruit flavor. Sea change! And I was not let down—this delivers that now beloved floral greenish delicately sweet oolong flavor for sure, and the strawberry flavor is light, natural, fresh, and floral; it matches the oolong profile beautifully, syncing up with it instead of competing or masking the tea. It’s not the tart supermarket berry kind at all, but the small wild floral sort of strawberry (which I vastly prefer). I enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would (I vaguely recall it being deemed ok but not one of Stacy’s top favorite offerings in some “recommend some Butiki” thread a while back, but I could be remembering wrong…it was one of the fruit oolongs…). Really tasty.
(Also, why do I love flowers all of the sudden?! Or at least floral fragrance naturally occurring in tea…I loathe girly perfumes but I can’t seem to get enough of light green oolongs and have even found a bunch of rose scented/flavored teas and loved them this year. And don’t even get me started on the whole “heavily perfumed French tea” craze Fauchon lit in me. Eek!)
I keep a master file of all my favorite tea vendors with lists under each one’s heading for things I’d happily restock, so when I place an order with one I can check it and be reminded if I want to throw in something else I’ve loved. The list for Butiki is, like the Harney one, getting ridiculously unwieldy. And on this goes anyway.
Dry, steeping, and finished this tea smells just like cinnamon red hot candies, that dry-powdery-heat scent. The taste is quite a surprise—it’s very, very sweet, like “how is there no sugar in this?!” sweet, sweeter than the Steap Shoppe blends that contain stevia even. I still get that powdery gum feeling I tend to with explicitly cinnamon flavored teas, and I still can’t quite tell if it’s really there in the tea or I’m phantom associating because the flavor makes me think of Big Red gum and then my mind fills in the blanks. It’s not bad, but I’m beginning to think I only love cinnamon in tea when it’s in its bakery spice form as opposed to candy one (someone mentioned the different types of spices all called “cinnamon” and I wonder if that’s part of it too…), and I think I tend to prefer cinnamon-focused teas when the tea base is readily apparent (I rather like Joy’s Teaspoon Cinnamon Roll along with ATR Brioche and Steap Shoppe Cinnamon Swirl Bread and haven’t liked any of the cinnamon tisanes I’ve tried so far, and the black base here is not discernible at all). Drat.
EDIT: I see now another Steepster mentions underleafing this and liking it much more that way. Will have to try. If I could disentangle the Big Red gum connection a bit this would be a very handy tea on cold days—as keychange mentions it’s very good at making you feel warmed right up from the inside.
This tea is crazy juicy, a bursting-in-the-mouth quality that reminds me a bit of standing over the sink peeling lychees and biting into them one by one. I reckon it’s going to be a lot of fun playing around with temperature over time. It feels like summer with its abundance of ripe clean-tasting fruits, and there’s a hay thing going on too. I don’t get much smoke yet but that might be down to my steeping parameters or the fact we just had dinner and my taste buds are a bit impaired/tired. Regardless, I can definitely see why this is such a favorite. There’s an easy-going sourness that makes one think of fresh fruit; it’s not unpleasant at all because it feels very fresh and there’s that juicy quality to go with it (Amanda posted a ton of tea articles recently and I really related to one about how the author is dismayed “astringency” has become a catch-all term with unpleasant connotations when there’s many types of astringency and how each interacts with the other aspects of a tea can make it good or bad!). As the juicy flavor builds over time a mysterious, sharp-bite-in-a-good-way element emerges that makes me think somehow of exotic fruit (You know how pineapple can make some people’s mouth tingle later? It’s kind of like that) and wet spicy wood (I’m sure that sounds weird but I don’t know quite how else to describe it…the exact thing is eluding me…). The texture is a bit like when you freeze grapes on hot summer days and then bite clean into one while it’s still frosty, the way there’s some thick pull to go with the juiciness. I really like this and it’s not like any pu erh I’ve tried so far.
This smells awesome! I put it on to steep and then went into the kitchen to throw dinner together and could smell it from the breakfast nook, made me antsy to wash my hands so I could get back in there and taste it. It’s creamy and warm without being too hotly spiced, just comfort in a cup, and I love that you can still taste the Khongea Assam (it’s one of favorite straight black teas Butiki offers). Very glad I got in on this month of Amoda, kinda wish this would stay available somehow. It reminds me a little of Irish Cream Cheesecake not in specific flavors so much as how it isn’t a barely-tea-tasting dessert treat but rather a delicious wintery black tea with scrumptious additions, the kind of thing that could replace coffee to close a good meal or be your breakfast cup when you deserve a little something extra. This is ideal for this time of year. Yum!
Another generous free sample from Mandala, packed with my last order. They are so nice.
As always, the dry leaf is long, unbroken, and beautiful, a light warm golden yellow. This one’s sweet but with a light airy sort of flavor. Slightly fruity in a bright way, but also quite silky, not at all fruit-tart astringent. There’s some dry wood fuzziness in the texture, a little powdery like sawdust—might sound ick to many but I like it just fine. I think this would be a good one to enjoy on one of the first sunny mornings of spring.