45 Tasting Notes
This is less of a tasting note and more of a CAPTAIN’S LOG, because i am venturing boldly into this variety of Dragonwell with no idea how to make it because I can’t read Chinese. Without further ado…
Attempt #1 (11/29/11) – 180F, 4 minutes.
Hahaha oh my god, this tea is a ride. First thing that happens when I take a sip is HOLY SHIT FLOWERS IN MY NOSTRILS. Then a weird, sort of musty-sweet flavor that turns into this delicate astringency at the back of my tongue. This stays for about two seconds and then everything turns into a slightly louder version of That Clean Chinese Green Taste. I am…I mean, it’s good, but I’m more distracted by how it manages to taste like four things.
This is a really pleasant surprise in more ways than one. First of all, I didn’t buy it—I’m staying with the same friend that hooked me up with the green tea from Charlotte, and she made me this before bed like a lovely person. Second of all, I have really, really not had pleasant experiences with Tazo lately—I keep having it made for me by people who just don’t know how to make tea and somehow get everything to taste like cardboard, so I was sort of expecting this to be similar. Turns out I just needed to taste it made by someone who actually knows how tea functions.
It has no astringency. It has that same kind of delicacy that stuff like Misty Mountain and Yunnan Emerald Buds had, except there’s no kick to it, it’s just super mellow and smooth and sweet, and I absolutely LOVE it—I know it seems not to be a favorite, from reading the other reviews, so I’ll note that it was made a little strong? Maybe that’s how it was different? I don’t know, but I love it and will probably attempt to get my hands on some in the future, as good bagged tea is a little hard to come by.
I have no idea how this tea is so good. It’s a bagged tea that I picked up beside the register at the wonderful little sushi restaurant I frequent at college. I’d never had houjicha and I figured I’d give it a try, having absolutely no idea how long to steep it or what temperature of water to use. I ended up just leaving it in for about 5 minutes (which i guess is the Standard Time You Leave Tea In When You Don’t Know How Long To Steep It) in water from the hot side of the cooler. I pretty much expected it to be disgusting.
This might actually be my favorite tea. Hands down, I shit you not. It’s so delicious. It has the same clean, woodsy taste that an oolong has, but not so overpowering, and balanced really really nicely with this comfortable, cozy sweetness that almost reminds me of vanilla.
If Houjicha is this good out of a bag for five minutes in a styrofoam cup of hot-side cooler water, I cannot WAIT to try making it properly.
I just can’t decide how I feel about this. It’s a really good tea, but I think I like the aftertaste better than the actual taste? When I’m actually drinking it, it tastes kind of like wood, but it smells great and the aftertaste is really clean and kind of earthy-sweet. I’m also not getting an incredible amount of flavor out of it, I think I’m going to try steeping it just a liiiiiiittle bit longer and see what that does for it next time—it’s like either I oversteep it and it tastes like a tree, or I understeep it and it tastes like nothing, but really clean nice nothing. I think as I experiment with this more, I’ll like it more.
Most of what I can taste in this tea involves strawberries and spearmint. There’s some chocolate there, too, if you pay attention and do the taste equivalent of squinting, but I think the other two kind of sweep it away. I’d be careful not to oversteep it, because if you do, there’s almost too much flavor in this blend? And it’s on the edge of that even when you do it right. It’s really, REALLY good, an excellent anytime black tea with a lot of great elements to it, but if it’s overdone, it tries to make them equally strong and ends up being overworked. If you steep it for the right time, though, it’s a great blend and, in my opinion, a wonderful tribute.
Zen Tea has given me the biggest weakness for black teas that taste like dessert—first there was the Creme Brulee, and now this. It’s a little strong, but that’s a pretty okay quality to have in a tea that smells like caramel and tastes like chocolate (there’s a mostly-caramely, kind of chocolatey aftertaste). It’s a really…comfortable tea, like something you just want to make a pot of while you snuggle up and read a book or spend a whole night doing a paper or something. I might try it at a slightly shorter time, but other than that, it’s very sweet and yummy.
I definitely understeeped this. It basically tastes like Yunnan Emerald Buds from Teavana, but lighter and a little sharper, and without as much of the little astringent touch. As it is, I messed it up and can barely taste it at all. Trying for 2 minutes next time.
It is very strong. As a matter of fact, it almost tastes consistently oversteeped even when I try to understeep it by 15 seconds or so, but I still enjoy it a lot. I think I might be imagining this because everyone else said it was barely there, but I can really taste/smell the cocoa and the orange is surprisingly not overpowering with it! It’s like it ended up being the scrumptious chocolate orange tea that it was never trying to be in the first place.
This would not be my first choice for a wake-up tea, which I guess is a minus for a tea that calls itself “focus”, but I think it’s a good any-time tea. Not sure I’d buy it again, but it was definitely worth a try and worth getting.
Edit: I’m not posting less logs because I’ve stopped drinking tea, I’m posting less because I basically ran out of everything I bought over the summer. There will be more when I get money I can spend on delicious leaves I can then throw in hot water and drink.
Maybe I’m just not as good at tasting the subtle difference between senchas as I ought to be, but this basically tastes like Kanaya overall. It smells sweeter, though, and less like nori, which isn’t bad! at all! They’re just delicious in different ways.
There’s something interesting going on at the back of the mouth, though, that Kanaya didn’t have. They both have the astringent kick (I guess this is just a sencha thing, all you Japanese tea aficionados can laugh at me now), but this is sharper. I think it’s just a fuller flavor without being overpowering.
I’m going to have to try more types of sencha to see if I can learn to separate their flavors better. This is another tasty one, though! Too bad my only sample is gone now.
My friend got this for me from Charleston because she is a sweetheart!
It’s a nice, tasty, solid green tea, and I think what I like most about it is how easy it is to make. Most green teas are all finicky and easy to mess up, but I guess American teamakers decided “You know what the world needs? Green tea that you can steep in boiling water for two or three minutes, and it’ll be fine!” And I did, and it’s glorious. It actually kind of tastes a little like Japanese green tea, but with a tiny bit of that floral taste-smell you get from Chinese tea. If I were to point someone in the direction of a good solid green tea, it would probably be this one. It might not be outstandingly memorable, but it’s really tasty and I’d totally buy it again if I find myself in Charleston.