847 Tasting Notes


Continuing on my theme of HUGE mugs of dessert teas for breakfast…

I have enough left for one more cup after this. WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?? :(

Melodrama aside, this is a really good cup this morning. I let it steep a minute too long (argh – way to treat your precious commodities) but luckily that didn’t seem to harm it. It smelled of sweet buttery vanilla and although plain it was a little too strong (my own fault, see: oversteeped) with milk and sugar it has mellowed into Bailey’s nirvana. It’s reminding me SO STRONGLY of Caramel Vanilla Assam which is both happy (nostalgia!) and sad (RIP).

I’ve made a deal with myself that the last cup of this will be St. Patricks Day. Not before. Now just to hold myself to it…

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Vanilla

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Backlog from yesterday.

This tea is perfect for those mornings when you want a mug of dessert.

I always have it with milk and sugar and always on lazy days, too, just because its one of those little luxuries to savor. I’ve not had 52teas very much at all lately – in fact I think I have less than 5 of those blends left in my cupboard, even – but this is one of the very, very best.

Flavors: Blueberry, Cream

Boiling 4 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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I know I’ve not done a tasting note on this tea before, but I do distinctly remember having it around the time I got my Whispering Pines order. This isn’t the type of tea you can really do a backlog on, though, so I waited until now so my tasting note would be more accurate.

This is a great example of a yunnan, I feel like. The dry leaf was so fuzzy and tightly curled, and the smell emanating from the back was all starch and sweet potatoes. I followed the steeping parameters recommended by Brenden and it yielded a gorgeous honey brown liquor.

The taste mostly honeyed wheat with a starchy mouthfeel. Mostly it reminded me of the crust of a loaf of freshly baked honey wheat bread. Sweet, but also savory. This is a very filling, warming cup.

After the leaves are steeped they unfurl and begin to smell almost fruity- specifically like the raisin notes of an assam. That could be because I smelled the Harmutty Assam tea earlier this morning so that scent is fresh on my mind, but I really do get that note from it. And I really like it.

This is quite, quite good. I don’t like it as much as I enjoyed the Jabberwocky, but having a straight Yunnan does allow me to see the characteristics it lends to that blend. Still, I did find it really warming, and as the cold weather will be around for a while yet I’m sure I will be drinking this again soon.

Flavors: Grain, Honey, Pepper, Sweet Potatoes

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Biscuits and tea, my favorite weekend breakfast.

Assams make such a good breakfast tea. I try to keep it so black teas are the only teas I have with milk and sugar, and given that I’ve had this before and it became really astringent when it cooled, I added both right off.

The dry leaf gave off the signature aroma of raisin and the taste right now is mostly hot water, so I guess I need to just wait for a minute and see what happens. I hope some of the raisin notes make it into the tea this morning…that smell was the main reason I picked it to drink…

Ah, yes, and now that its cool I have cocoa powder and raisins galore. A good start to a lazy Saturday.

Flavors: Cocoa, Raisins

Boiling 4 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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All the talk of “top ten 52Teas blends” had me wanting some of my old favorites. Two of those old favorites, Hot Buttered Banana Bread, and French Vanilla Assam, are no longer in my possession (sad panda). But this one was.

I don’t drink this a lot, which confuses me, because I like strawberries and cream. But for whatever reason it’s not a flavor I’m wanting ALL the time in a tea. Banana bread? Absolutely. Vanilla and caramel? ALL THE DAYS. But this one is just more particular.

It’s also particular in that I only like it with milk and sugar. It’s a dessert tea more than a breakfast one because of this. It’s hit the spot tonight, though, as I read some more of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” I’m chewing through books lately. But books + tea + winter is pretty much the best thing ever, so life could be a lot worse. :)

Flavors: Cream, Custard, Strawberry

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Continuation of my earlier steepings..

Steep five: 2 minutes. This may have been a bit much, as the white grape skin astringency is back. This was quite drying on the tongue, and not as pleasant as when this occurred before. I’ll back off on the steep time for the next go around…

Steep six: 2 minutes. The astringence faded off again and now I have more of a grape juicy sweet tea. (minus additives, since I don’t really like additives in anything but black teas).

Steep seven: 3 minutes. There’s more of a mineral and floral flavor to this, now. Still good, and I know its got life in it yet but I’m suffering from a bit of flavor fatigue here. Also I’m pretty sure tea drunk is a phrase that applies here.

Definitely good stuff, and I have a feeling the more of the sheng pu’er I try the more I’ll realize just how good this is.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 4 g

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This was my very first raw pu’er. I needed something to soothe an aching stomach and even though I didn’t necessarily want to fuss with the gaiwan and steep times, I managed. For the tea.

So, 4 g. (half my sample) in my little Midori and a 15 second rinse, then a first steep of 15 seconds. I didn’t get much smell from the dry leaf, maybe just a vague earth scent . The taste is surprisingly tangy, and also buttery and green. It reminds me strongly of a green oolong, actually. The exception is a small fermentation taste as well. It’s not fishy EXACTLY – I’m thinking its what happens with age to the fish notes in less aged pu’er. Fascinating! And towards the end of this steep I’m also getting notes of florality. So far I’m liking this a lot more than any pu’er I’ve had before!

Steep two: 30 seconds. The leaf has become more earthy in scent. This steeping is much more fruity and astringent. It reminds me of the taste/texture of grape skin, actually. Sweet but also very drying on the tongue. The note of fermentation is gone from this steep.

Steep three: 45 seconds. More buttery and florality has returned to the tea, and the fruity astringence is gone. This pu’er changes very dramatically from one steep to the next. I’m glad that the astringence is gone though – I was worried I’d done the impossible and over-steeped a pu’er! I’m still amazed at how very oolong-y this all is.

Steep four: 1 minute. Nothing remarkably different about the flavor profile here. Still a light green tea and pleasurable to drink but I didn’t notice anything from the other few steepings. I’m keeping this around to finish up with dinner tonight because there’s a lot of life left in these leaves, so I’ll be back later to update this!

I will say that I think this pu’er may have shown me the light. It’s done wonders for helping my stomach feel better, too….

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Tangy, Wet Earth, White Grapes

205 °F / 96 °C 4 g

A gongfu session with this will really allow a much different experience. I tried both and like the gongfu method best.

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Super long digression ahead – sorry in advance!

What a WEEK, you guys.

Since the boyfriend and I want to move out Oregon way we took a week and flew from ATL to Portland, and explored everything. I mean, EVERYTHING. We did the Columbia River Gorge, drove to Salem/Eugene/Corvallis and out to Newport to see the coast. It is so beautiful, and I do feel good about the move we’ll make soon.

While we were out there (we went in January on purpose, btw, since we needed to gauge what the peak of winter was like) on the cold rainy days we had a lot of bagged Bigelow teas, which I really enjoyed just because it was serious tea drinking weather. But now I’m back with MY teas, and even though its not too cold or rainy here, I wanted something warm and cosy to drink.

And I’m trying really hard not to think about how awesome it would be to have one of these snazzy mugs (http://www.madeinoregon.com/Mystic-Water-Right-Handed-Hand-Warmer-Mug.html) to drink said tea out of. I have enough mugs, self. REALLY. I do.

Okay, tea review time

Last time I had this the scent was kind of a fake vanilla. And it did the same thing this time – it was so very vanilla that it turned into chocolate scent wise. While I love vanilla very much and in teas think it is generally awesome, I do not feel the same way about chocolate. So, this could be why last time it didn’t seem to leave much of an impression.

The first sip of this is quite good: malty black tea with a buttery vanilla finish. No chocolate notes, yay! Maybe the vanilla addition needed to settle for a week or two?

Yes, overall this cup is much better than the first one. I’ll bump up the rating on it and then its off to read some Milan Kundera before hitting the sack. It’s so nice to be in my own space again…

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

those mugs are really pretty…


what a gorgeous mug….

and this tea…

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Bought this sample with my last Upton order because the boyfriend was intrigued. And he also has short term memory loss because he cannot recall said interest. Good thing it was a.) cheap, and b.) I like Earl Grey, although I do prefer the Earl Grey Cream iterations.

Steeped per package directions, which happens to be my preferred method of steeping a black tea anyway. It smelled super bergamot-ty, which made me nervous initially because know I’ve had an Earl Grey from Teavana that seemed to give me headaches.

This tea, despite it’s very strong bergamot taste and scent, didn’t affect me that way though! Yay! Maybe it was just something in the Teavana blend, or maybe I’ve just upped my tolerance of it since the many years between that Earl Grey and this one. It is definitely too sharp of a flavor to have without additives, however. And there is not really much in the way of a ‘tea’ flavor to be had.

So: with milk and sugar, this turns into quite a good Earl Grey. I don’t miss out on the lack of vanilla as much, either. According to Upton’s site it is one of their more popular blends and I see why. I will definitely drink up the rest of the sample (and make the boyfriend drink some of it too, haha) but I think Earl Grey Creams are still my preferred varietal.

Flavors: Bergamot

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

I think I might have to try this one. I love me some bergamot!

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I’m on a sipdown roll today, it would seem…

Ohhh this smells gorgeous. Pie-like, or a warm fruit compote maybe. I am having this last cup plain and just marveling over how it seemed to get better with time. I will miss this but savor every single sip of it.

Flavors: Cake, Plums, Spices

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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I have come to the point (as of October 2014) where quality in tea is more important than quantity. Especially because I’m a seasonal tea drinker where hot tea is concerned, and a SLOW one to boot. I generally don’t resteep only because I’d be here all day if I did, though I do break out a gaiwan from time to time.

I adore French teas in practically every iteration, Japanese Sencha (specifically from the Uji region, as they offer the most seaweed flavor), and Dan Cong oolongs. I am trying to focus on plain teas and so companies like Verdant, Upton, and Butiki are on my favorites list.

When it comes to tea, I feel like the 10th Doctor says it best:

“Tea! That’s all I needed! Good cup of tea! Super-heated infusion of free-radicals and tannin, just the thing for healing the synapses. "


Atlanta, GA

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