575 Tasting Notes
Okay, I know I’ve been on a tea buying hiatus, but as soon as I found a decent boba place in Boston, I moved all the way across the river from it. These sticky humid days have really made me crave a nice cold milk tea, so I caved and bought a box of these at an Asian supermarket. It’s not a perfect substitute for my beloved California boba, but this milk tea will do the trick well enough. I will say, though, that the black tea base can be overwhelmed by the added sweeteners, so if you’re looking for a tea that really stands up for itself, this is not your cuppa. If you love milk tea/boba/bubble tea/etc, this tea will do just fine when you’re in a boba desert.
Cold brewed this one again. I accidentally forgot about it and left it in there for about 20 hours, whoops! Anyway, I just wanted to add to my previous note that the tea itself actually does taste minty. Last time, I thought it was because I was eating something minty while drinking it, but the tea itself has a minty note about it at the beginning of the sip that turns into a grassy flavor. I don’t recall thinking it had a minty flavor when I drank it hot, so it’s quite interesting that I pick up on it now. Another curious cold brewing experiment!
Edit: As the tea warmed up to room temperature, it suddenly became super bitter. I guess that’s what I get for leaving it to cold brew for almost an entire day!
Sipdown (108)! Alas, the oddly cool weather has passed and it has returned to sticky humidity again. Though that deters me from hot tea, I do love cold brewing, so I used up my final tablespoon of this one in a cold brew. The flavors did not change much from when I tried this one hot: mostly roasty/smoky flavors, very smooth, and no bitterness. While I am sad to see this one go, I take comfort in my large stock of the dark roast of this houjicha, which I prefer anyway. Plus, it’s one less tea I have to worry about when I inevitably move again in a couple months.
I’m totally taking advantage of the cooler weather to drink up some of my favorite hot teas. Like I probably stated in previous tasting notes, this houjicha is on the heavier/smokier side compared to other houjichas that I’ve had. Now, I usually am not a huge fan of smoky teas, but in this case, it works really well with the roasted flavor that is present in all houjichas. Also, it’s really working today in particular because my new apartment has chlorine-y water, so the strong flavor of the houjicha helps drown that out.
A sad sipdown (109). Today’s cuppa was a bit weak because I only had a very loose teaspoon left of these leaves. This is one of those black teas that has such complexity in flavor ranging from sweet and honey-like to bold. I’m so glad I got to try this one out, and I’m sad to see it go. Whenever I come off my spending ban, I will likely place a reorder from Teavivre, and this will definitely be on the list!
So when I was in Paris a couple of weeks ago, I actually did manage to visit a couple of tea shops including Mariage Freres and Kusmi Tea. In general, the teas that I smelled at Mariage Freres came off too perfume-y or artificial to me in the store. In addition to that, I was pressed for time and the shop was busy with many customers, so I did not end up getting anything there. Now that I’m re-tasting this tea, which was so generously sent to me by Stephanie, I’m kind of regretting not carving out more time to really poke around and actually talk to some of the salespeople. This tea does such a nice job of balancing the almond, spices, and black tea base in almost a creamy sort of way. On the other hand, perhaps it was good that I didn’t stick around too long because I already have enough tea as it is! Anyway, looks like my next cuppa will be my last of this tea, so I’ll be sad when it’s gone.
I’ve had a “four seasons” oolong before that blew my mind. Now I don’t know what makes an oolong a “four seasons” oolong, but when I saw this at Teavana, I decided to go for it. I used another one of my Starbucks rewards to get a free ounce of this tea because I didn’t want to commit to two ounces before liking it. The sales girl was really pushing me toward the Monkey Picked Oolong, saying how much she and everyone else in the world loved it. I actually already have that one and am not as enamored with it as everyone else, so I stuck with this oolong.
At the first couple of sips, things were looking good. It’s sweet, creamy, and floral- my favorite characteristics of a green oolong. It wasn’t quite as amazing as the other four seasons oolong I mentioned earlier, but still good. As I was getting to the bottom of the cup and the tea cooled a bit, I noticed more bitterness and some astringency as well. I don’t know if it was because it was toward the bottom or because the tea had started cooling, but I wasn’t too happy about it. It wasn’t unbearable or anything, but I’ve had many delicious oolongs that set the bar pretty high. So anyway, a decent cuppa (& better than Monkey Picked IMHO), but I would probably not purchase this one in the future. With Teavana’s pricing, I could better spend my dollars on better and/or cheaper tea.
On an unrelated note, I’m so happy to be able to drink hot tea again because of the rain. I usually don’t like rain, but I guess this is the silver lining!
After figuring out that my new city has not-so-great tap water (even filtered), I decided to try out some stronger teas for cold brewing to cover up the weird chlorine taste of the water. That is how I decided to cold brew this gunpowder. I put about a tablespoon of tea in my water bottle for 6-7 hours in the fridge. On the positive side, the taste is very strongly smoky, so I can’t taste the weird tap water anymore. On the other hand, the smokiness was a little too strong for me. I think I’m not such a fan of smoky in teas. There was also some bitterness at the end of the sip, but it wasn’t too strong.
Ok, I’ve cold brewed this one as usual, but today it is not tasting so good. I’ve noticed lately in my new apartment that my teas don’t taste as good as I remember them to be. I think that the tap water in Boston is just tastier than the tap water in Cambridge, even though I filter my water in both cities. The Cambridge water just tastes more like chlorine (I think?), which is off-putting. So the usual roasty toasty goodness of this genmaicha is competing in flavor with the chlorine, which makes me sad. I guess I’m gonna have to start making my tea differently!
Because this tea wasn’t anything too special as a hot tea, I’ve been using it in cold brews. Today, I was drinking some cold brewed (~12 hours) alongside my dinner of Vietnamese summer rolls. I mention this because the summer rolls had mint in them, which I think complemented the tea very well and made it even more refreshing. It actually gives me an idea to add mint leaves to the cold brew next time. I guess I’ll have to go out and get some mint leaves first, but I will report back if/when I do!