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39 Tasting Notes

93
drank Coconut Oolong by Rishi Tea
39 tasting notes

Mmm, so much love. This was a big hit with my coworkers when I brought it in today. The dry leaves smell very richly of buttered popcorn, buttered popcorn jelly bellies to be exact. In fact, it smells just like the time my fiancé toasted pieces of fresh coconut flesh and ate them with caramel drizzle. Once you cook the flesh, it takes on this really incredible nutty, buttery flavor.

I was a little surprised at how light the coconut flavor in the tea actually was once I steeped it, but I appreciate that it wasn’t too strong and artificial. This definitely doesn’t taste like any sort of fake coconut candy, it’s nutty, buttery, and ever so slightly sweet. The buttery-ness is a fantastic complement for this oolong. I like the thin, light body in spite of the rich flavor. I had a vanilla scone with the second steep, which was a great complement. The richness of the vanilla brought out the almost savory popcorn flavor of the tea. By the 3rd steep, the toasty flavor of the coconut was starting to become even more subtle and it seemed more like an unflavored oolong (but still tasty as hell), a little more vegetal, not quite as sweet, but still nutty.

I shared 4 steeps with my coworkers, and they all enjoyed it as well. :)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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81

My fiancé bought this one awhile back because it smelled like barbecue. It seemed fitting to brew some up in my burnt orange University of Texas mug (my alma mater). It smells smoky and tastes smoky. I’m typically not a black tea fan, but I could get into this one. It doesn’t have the bitter tannic taste I can’t stand from black teas. The darkness almost reminds me of a pu-erh, but each time I bring the cup to my lips, I wish I was eating some beef brisket, cole slaw, and pickles. The smoky flavor lingers and lingers for minutes after my last sip.

This tea is quite tasty, but with a relatively high novelty factor. Don’t see myself reaching for it too often, but a good one to keep stocked when I need a bigger caffeine boost or am in that just right Texas summer barbecue mood.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Genmai Matcha by Rishi Tea
39 tasting notes

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86
drank Earl Grey Creme by Teavana
39 tasting notes

This morning I brewed up four ounces of this double strength, stirred in a teaspoon of vanilla bean sugar (can you tell I made a trip to Whole Foods?), and topped with four ounces of steamed milk. Love love love. For two weeks I am swearing off refined sugars and alcohol in preparation for my belt test this weekend, BUT I am making a small exception for some sugar in my earl grey. This sweet, creamy earl grey is staving off my increasingly persistent cravings for sweets at the moment, but it’s doing nothing for my craving for a pint, though… Only four more days until the test! My celebration stout is chilling in the fridge.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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86
drank Earl Grey Creme by Teavana
39 tasting notes

Oh, YUM. My thoughtful sister got me a giftcard to Teavana for my birthday. While I wouldn’t shop there on my own dollar (pushy sales clerks, fussy blends, 2 oz. minimums, steep prices), I enjoyed shopping. I bought this earl grey creme and a simple sencha (review to come). I should’ve tried it straight first, but I was too excited to make a tea latte out of it with some steamed milk from my espresso machine. I brewed it up double strength and filled both of our mugs halfway (enough for me and my fiancé, who adores earl grey), added a teaspoon of sugar, and poured some creamy, foamy 2% milk on top. Divine. Before I added the milk, I could smell sweet cream wafting across the counter from the tea, with a little tart edge of bergamot. For me, earl grey equals indulgence. I love to make tea lattes at work out of Tazo’s full leaf earl grey (it’s okay, a little too floral because it has lavender in it) and vanilla. For me, an earl grey has to have elements of sweet and creamy. This one fits the bill!

For the second steep, I brewed 16 oz. to refill both of our mugs with straight tea. The creme smell is more muted, but it still balances out the harshness bergamot can sometimes bring. Drinking bare, I appreciate that the bergamot is not too overpowering. With a spoonful of sugar and a splash of milk, ahh, still delicious. Will earl grey creme again soon.

P.S. My fiancé had the ingenious idea to put some Irish cream in his in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Mmm, I am glad to be marrying this man soon.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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47
drank Sakura Allure by Teavana
39 tasting notes

Hmm. My sister gave me this tea for my birthday. It smells divine, but I was weary of all the ‘stuff’ mixed in. It brews up pink and fruity. Is there really green tea in here? And what is bamboo supposed to taste like anyway? I was a little disappointed at the lack of cherry blossom flavor. It just tastes fruity with a werid potpourri smell once it’s brewed. And by now you probably know how I feel about hibiscus. :/

That said, it isn’t bad. It’s just too fussy for me. Maybe next time I’ll fuss with it a little more and try it iced, and I’ll maybe add some sugar or lemonade ala Starbucks. This is a good one to pull out for serving friends who aren’t ‘serious’ tea drinkers. I think it’s one most people will generally like.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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78
drank Yunnan Tuocha by Teance
39 tasting notes

Pu-erh is one of those things I really enjoy, but I wish it didn’t last for so many steeps since I just don’t drink that many cups of hot tea most days. I had three cups at work, and I’m going to have a fourth before the day is over, but by tomorrow the leaves won’t be any good for the 5th, 6th, 7th steepings that I know it’s capable of.

Anyway, after rinsing with hot water, the first steep was a pretty mahogany color, but not as developed and rich as the 2nd and 3rd steeps were. The second and third looked like soy sauce because the button of leaves had broken apart. In that first steep and a little in the second too, I always get that very distinct dashi stock smell. It makes me feel like I’m drinking the broth from my signature udon noodle soup. After the first fishy cup, it starts to mellow out and get that ‘deeper’ flavor. Kind of malty and almost chocolaty. I am still surprised by the complete lack of astringency in pu-erhs.

As crude as it is to say pu-erh tastes like dirt, I really mean it in the best way possible. It tastes like rich, nutritious, alive soil. Soil where the earth itself is born and reborn.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Jim Marks

You can absolutely steep pu-erh across multiple days. I do it all the time.

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63
drank Throat Comfort by Yogi Tea
39 tasting notes

I woke up at 4am this morning feeling like I’d swallowed a bunch of broken glass. I tried a battery of remedies, including tea made from the Chinese herb pang da hai, Emergen-C, a popsicle made of pickle juice, a warm salt water gargle, and a shot of vodka with lime juice. Did I get a little tipsy at 5am? You betcha. I eventually fell back asleep and slept until it was time to get ready for work (1pm). I made it through a day of teaching classes thanks to some ibuprofin. I picked up some of this tea while grabbing some groceries for dinner on my way home.

I brewed a cup as soon as I got home, steeped for 10 solid minutes. Finally, a little relief for my poor throat. It tastes very much like licorice, fennel, and clove, which I think are all tasty. It was sweet and soothing. Then I made a second cup with a big squeeze of lemon (had a little extra from my sautéed lemon veggies) and a squirt of honey (which I never do since I think honey is way too much for my tea). I preferred it plain, but wow, now I get why people put honey and lemon together. The brightness of the lemon cuts through the ‘thickness’ of the honey.

Overall, this is definitely a medicinal tea. I won’t see myself drinking it when I’m feeling better, but great to get through the bugs that come my way after spending my days with tons of ‘moist’ kids. At the end of March we’re doing another round of elementary school visits, which means an additional 12 hours of teaching time per week for two weeks. You’ll probably see another entry for this one when March rolls around.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 8 min or more

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76
drank Plum Oolong by Rishi Tea
39 tasting notes

Woo, it’s been awhile since I pulled this one out! I made some to go (in my shiny new IngenuiTEA!) before heading to the dojang to sip before class and then enjoy cool later.

I’m typically not into hibiscus (as delicious as a Starbucks passion tea lemonade is, would you believe that after almost 4 years of working there it’s possible to get tired of them?), but it’s such a light note that it adds a pretty blushing pink color and just a touch of tanginess. The oolong in this acts more as a check for all the tangy and sweet ingredients to keep it balanced, but I’m still asking myself, “Is there really oolong in this?”

This one is light and feminine. It is sophisticated, but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously. I like that it doesn’t have that overbearing flavor you find in many fruity herbal blends, and it’s a nice change of pace for a minimalist like me.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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79
drank Lan Gui Ren by TeaSpring
39 tasting notes

I am a bit perplexed. I found a new jar at Central Market last week that had a tea called ’King’s Jewel’, and was classified as a green tea from Republic of Tea, sold for a steep $149.99/lb. I couldn’t resist the intrigue of the little pellets, so I bought a couple teaspoons ($3!). I came home and did a little research, and apparently Republic of Tea isn’t aware that they are selling this one, but I found more info on this type of tea, more commonly known as lan gui ren, or lady orchid, and it is actually an oolong. This entry is the only mention it I found on Steepster. The tea is coated in a powder of ginseng and licorice grass. Although my tea is from a different manufacturer, it looks identical to the picture above.

On to the tasting! The dry pellets don’t offer much aroma. After a minute or so of steeping, they started to crack and unfurl. After two minutes, it yielded a golden yellow liquor. The first noticeable quality was some spiciness and a little sweetness. It almost reminded me of a ginger tea, but ‘thicker’ and more subtle. I definitely get the aftertaste of licorice, and just after swallowing, I taste plastic! Weird. The second infusion was a bit more complex and less plastic-y, and most of the leaves were about halfway unfurled. The powder coating seems to be mostly dissolved, though some pellets are still intact! The leaves smell roasted and a little spicy, but I can recognize the vegetal smell of a green or lightly oxidized oolong. Now on the third infusion, the liquor is getting darker, although I’m not increasing the steep time. The tea doesn’t taste as thick, and a peppery flavor is dominating. Some of the pellets still haven’t opened up. I’ll probably steep a few more times this afternoon, see if I can’t coax the last few pellets to blossom.

This tea is interesting, and I’ll enjoy it a couple more times, but once it’s gone, I don’t think I’ll be looking for it again.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Jim Marks

Like the raw pu-erh cake and the phoenix mountain oolong, that one is a “Central Market exclusive”. If you email RoTea’s staff they can give you specific details, but they don’t publish them on the website.

I would highly recommend much shorter steepings for this tea. Do an initial “rinse” to start the process of opening the leaves (3-5 seconds) and then begin steepings at 5 seconds, then 3 seconds, then 5, 7, 10, 15, 30… until you stop getting something worth drinking. For this to work you need a generous ratio of leaves to volume of water.

Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F58dWrhTkRo and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkhdJoZUUh0&feature=related

The latter is specific to Lady Orchid tea.

Katie

Thanks Jim, that’s very helpful. With so many short infusions, I’ll probably use the same amount of tea, but with only a couple ounces of water each time.

Jim Marks

So long as the ratio is generous, the exact quantity of each doesn’t matter.

I hope the results improve for you!

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Profile

Bio

I am lucky enough to make my living as a martial arts teacher and as a barista. When I’m not training or making cappuccinos, I relish cooking, reading, growing plants, and of course, drinking tea.

I love greens the most… the grassier the better! I also love oolongs and whites. I have a weak spot for anything with jasmine, mint, or lavender.

Location

Austin, TX

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