795 Tasting Notes

97

I keep having this, most likely because it’s just sitting by my Breville and the easy choice in the morning. This is not a bad thing. :)

I just had this with a spot of milk this morning (no sweetener) and it was still creamy vanilla with a bit more citrus of the bergamot. I guess sugar drowned out the citrus?

Anyway, there really is no way to mess this up. Its good whatever way you make it. All teas should be like that…

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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92
drank Golden Fleece by Verdant Tea
795 tasting notes

Dry leaf: Soft, feathery. This is truly one of the most unique teas I’ve encountered in the tactile sense. Notes of sweet potato, cocoa, and malt in the scent.

Preparation notes: 4 g. leaf in my cute little gaiwan and served in my new Tea Merchant cups. I need to post a picture; it was quite the “squee” experience.

Steep one: 10 seconds. Starchy, honey, peppery, in that order. A sweet spiciness and thick, velvety mouthfeel. Honey brown/amber liquor. Sweeter even as the cup cools down.

Steep two: 15-20 seconds. Liquor is a darker brown mahogany. A cocoa note shines through while the cup is still hot. Less honeyed, more straight starch (white potato and not sweet potato). Savory and brothy notes after the cocoa faded out. As it cools, honey fades back in and sweetness returns. Only the Golden Fleece.

Steep three: 30 seconds. Slightly lighter liquor, caramel sweetness in the smell. This steep tastes like the leaves initally felt – fuzzy and soft. Cocoa in first sips, then caramel. Surprisingly a lot weaker in flavor. Will lengthen the next steeping to see if I can fix this.

Steep four: 1 minute. Sweet honey notes, still weaker than I’d like. Sweet potato in the flavor so far.

Steep five: 3 minutes. A red brown liquor but weak flavor. Starting to become a bit astringent.

….I did all those steepings in one afternoon, and saved the leaves to come back to today.

Steep six: 6 minutes. The dry leaf smells really sweet – sugar and vanilla. This is a cocoa heavy steep but it wasn’t just my tastebuds yesterday – this is weak. I’m kind of dumb, though, and didn’t reduce the volume of water in my gaiwan to concentrate flavor. This is starting to be noticeably bitter – will reduce the steeping volume, lengthen the time, and give it one last shot to see what happens.

Steep seven: 12 minutes. Nope. I think the leaves have been spent. It’s just bitter at this point. I really should drink my stash of this down before it gets any older because I think at this point age is the problem. Sigh. Oh well, this is why I’m focused on trying to drink down what I have.

Even spent its miles above so many teas though!

Preparation
Boiling

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97
drank Marco Polo by Mariage Frères
795 tasting notes

A sample from Sil – and a welcome tea back into my cupboard!

This is the best strawberry tea ever. Perfect without milk or sugar (though not bad with), it is smooth strawberries and cream on a strong black base. I imagine there may be other “red fruits” in there, maybe a bit of raspberry is noticeable if I think about it? And its more the velvet texture of raspberry than the taste, because yuck. Raspberries are gross.

Yum, I am glad to have a few cups of this left to enjoy!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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98

I have to give this credit for being one of the most accurate to smell teas I’ve ever had. It smells like root beer down to the carbonation.

I made this extra strong due to not thinking terribly clearly though, and ended up with a liquor pretty much the color of actual rootbeer (which is to say, practically opaque black). So between that at the astringence (user error, not a fault of the tea), I added some milk and a bit of sugar to soften it.

With additives it turned into that milky brown color that a rootbeer float becomes when the vanilla ice cream melts into the soda. That’s what it tasted like, too – creamy ice cream soda that has lost its carbonation but is still tasty. I prefer it the way it was for my first cup, though – good without additives, creamy just as is.

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99
drank Peach HoppiTea by Butiki Teas
795 tasting notes

After the success of the Tropical Splash iced tea I made, I really found myself wanting more iced tea and I remembered how tasty and fruity this was even when hot. I know it’s January but maybe if I keep icing tea summer will come faster. These are things I tell myself.

Anyway, I did my usual boil 1/2 gallon water, steeped 4 tbsp. tea at below parameters and sweetened with my normal amount of sweetener for an iced tea (1/4 cup sugar, which amounts to about 1/2 tsp. per cup).

I still really smell an underlying banana-ness to the peach but I like that. Normally banana kind of overwhelms any other flavor and so it’s nice to see it tempered a bit with the juicy, sweet peach notes at the forefront. This is the juiciest peach I have ever smelled, too. I said this in my previous note but it really makes me want a fresh one. Or a couple of fresh ones, to make a pie out of…

Anyway, I let it chill overnight to have the flavors settle and GAH. Peach juice, with a nice added astringency from the hops so you get that sweet peach and also a tart note that you sometimes have with an unripe one. The tea itself has a pleasant nectary consistency that makes me sad only because I imagine that will mean I finish my ounce of this far too soon.

Liquid summer, guys. That’s what this is. The best peach tea I’ve tasted.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
caile

Sounds nice!!

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100

I’ve not been too into the more decadent, desserty teas lately. No real reason, that I can say, except I’ve gotten a lot of new teas that I’ve been trying and they just don’t fit in this category. This tea was in my line of sight when preparing breakfast yesterday so I made it for the convenience more than anything else.

Steep notes: 1 tbsp leaf to 16 oz water, milk and sugar added.

The cream cheese was definitely front and center this time. Blueberry and cream cheese and smooth black tea and it was finished quickly as it usually is. The first few sips of this remind me if how good it is and then I can’t put it down until the cup is empty. The consistency of it is one of my favorite things- and this is definitely one of my favorite desserty teas.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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97

First, a story:

I had gone out with friends to breakfast last week and ordered hot tea (earl grey – I don’t know the brand) and was surprised, in a good way, when they brought it out to me loose in the equivalent of a Perfect Tea Maker from Teavana. Not as surprised as the other girls, though – they had never seen one before. They stared at the steeper and their eyes got even bigger and all conversation stopped when I put it on top of my cup to let it drain.

“I’ve never seen that before.” One of them said. “Where’s the tea bag?” was another question. There was much turning over of the plastic steeper to see how it worked. Then the waiter came by and refilled it to let it resteep. All of their minds, collectively, were blown. All for a cup of pretty mediocre Earl Grey.

Okay, digressing to actual review now:

When the girls at the breakfast asked how I liked the tea I shrugged my shoulders and thought of Smooth Earl from Compass Teas before telling them I prefer it with vanilla (tea snob that I am). That was before I met this guy though.

A sure sign of a good tea to me is one that I can’t stop thinking about or want to have again soon after I’ve had it. For the sake of having a lot of other teas to drink I avoided coming back to this one right away, but it has been in the back of my mind.

So yesterday to celebrate having almost a week off from work I made a huge mug of this and savored that thick vanilla scent and taste. So lovely. I wish when I’d been at the breakfast last week I’d been able to show everyone this Earl Grey Cream. This is what amazing tea is.

A lot of you already know that, judging by the other tasting notes here, but really. Its finding teas like this that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise that makes the whole tea habit so much fun. For me it is, anyway….

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Nicole

I am so kicking myself that I forgot to put this on my last order!

Fjellrev

Cool that a restaurant would use those!

And thanks to your note, I have another EGC on my shopping list. :D

El Monstro

Yeah, tea merchant’s french earl grey is probably my “if I was on a desert island and could only have one tea available” tea. Either that or a good dian hong.

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94

I always manage to drink down teas iced much faster than I drink it hot. I think its because as a rule hot drinks don’t do as much to quench my thirst and are more for enjoyment than anything else. Iced tea is usually what I love to drink with meals.

This was, predictably, great iced. I had it with a few different foods and really it went perfectly with all of them, though it did take a good overnight in the fridge before it reached its full potential. It did end up reminding me of Hawaii and had a very nectar like quality (guava and mango are so sweet that doesn’t surprise me) with a pretty floral scent, which is a plus for me – I prefer to smell flowers, not eat them.

I like this iced for sure. I can’t wait for summer to get here so I am drinking cold tea more, because this will be a must order for me then!

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100

Tea of last night.

Made in my Klean Kanteen insulated tumbler, which works a little too well at keeping things hot and burned my tongue even after sitting for an hour with the lid halfway off to vent. Sigh, this is actually going to be me reviewing that tumbler because I really feel like I’m just not able to do hot teas in stainless steel. I know how much I love this tea but it just came off weak, watery, slightly metallic tasting and way too hot for me to enjoy drinking it straight away. So heartbreaking because it smelled SO good every time I’d go to take a (disappointing) sip.

I still had some left in the mug 7 hours later and since it’s cool I went ahead and tasted it for any weakness in flavor. The buttery vanilla is there now for these last few sips (which I love this tea so much there is no way I’m throwing it out) but I guess the take home message for me is to not put any tea I’ll be drinking any time soon into a travel tumbler. Lesson learned!

Dinosara

I have the hardest time finding a travel tumbler that actually works for me. Why is it so hard??

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94

This was a part of the black tea sampler I included with my Tea Merchant order. It’s the last of the four I have to try and since the name alone suggested it would be good iced I went ahead and made one cup hot and have made 1/2 gallon of iced tea my favorite way (boiled then cooled – i.e. a very slow way). I’ve got refried beans on the menu for tonight so I imagine I will be very happy to have this alongside it!

The smell of this dry is amazing! It reminded me so much of my Hawaii vacation last year – I do get mango but I also seemed to smell a lot of guava. This makes me so happy…and reminds me that I should see if there are guava flavored teas out there. I’d love to have some.

Anyway, for the hot cup of tea, I went ahead and got smart and steeped 1 tsp. of leaf at 3:30 seconds rather than the 4 minutes I traditionally do with blacks, since my last two teas from the Tea Merchant have come out a bit bitter with the extra 30 seconds. I am now very optimistic about going back and trying the Assam Gold and English Breakfast again, because less time did take care of all the astringence. I pretty much got a richly textured cup of tea flavored mango/guava juice. Which is to say, awesomeness.

A bit of sugar really made this pop even more which means I’m looking forward to being able to have this iced later today. It is pretty amazing hot and as the cup cooled it got even better so I have a feeling I will want this around when the weather hots up.

I’ll write another tasting note on the iced method tonight but I’m pretty optimistic at this point that come summer I’ll have this in hand most days!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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Bio

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. "

Location

Atlanta, GA

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