789 Tasting Notes

95

Found some of this in my locker at work – it was a great tea with my dinner last night.

Since I’ve had it at work so much it is no longer a “relaxing” tea for me at home, if that makes any sense…it triggers work related thoughts and stressors. It is one that I like to share with coworkers and parents who look like they could use something to calm them down, though. It’s nice to feel like I’m helping in some small way.

Sweet and spicy as always…I’ll probably always keep it as my emergency rations for the hospital. :)

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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78

This is quite astringent for the low steep time. I mean, it’s definitely a breakfast tea that needs milk and sugar. Which sucks for the boyfriend since he will not drink milk and sugar in his tea. He’d rather just not drink the tea (which is what happened here, sadly).

I do smell the burned chocolate, which was actually a nice scent. And when it was first steeped and I tried a few sips plain, I could taste a distinct chewy breadiness. But then the astringence crept in and made additives a necessity.

So, maybe just 1 minute for the steep time next go around. I really would like to get a flavor profile of this without additives, because those initial sips were quite promising.

Withholding rating for now.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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I think I got this as one of my freebies in the Butiki Thanksgiving sale. That was such an amazing deal, so this is a tasting note for the 2013 season of this tea.

I’m actually still going through all of the teas I got from Stacy – and still trying to go through the fun samples I got from Sil. My unofficial new years resolution is to have at least a cup of tea a day, though, so I expect by the end of January that will catch me up. :)

I ordered this mostly because of how much I loved the Premium Taiwanese Assam, but reading the description of it and realizing how similar it sounded to a dan cong (the most beloved of oolongs for me) sealed the deal.

Steep notes: 4.2 g. tea to 500 ml. water in the Breville, below parameters. No additives.

Boyfriend is working from home today (SO. JEALOUS.) so when I got up and said I was making tea he perked up and asked what kind. I’ve been going for unflavored blacks lately which are his thing, so I put on the Breville for both of us. We are lucky to be at the bottom of the winter storm, but it still apparently feels like 4 degrees (and flurries – quite the rarity in Georgia) outside and so hot beverages are a necessity.

So I know Stacy said this tea was specifically NOT supposed to smell like chocolate but that’s really what I got from the dry leaf. I double checked that it was the right bag and it is, so maybe it’s just the different season. The leaves are gorgeous and spindly like a Dan cong or Verdant’s Mi Xian black.

Steeped, the smell is strangely kind of vegetal. Bready and vegetal. Starchy? Definitely savory. Maybe beans of some sort. There is a starchy mouthfeel and a roasty flavor with it, too. I love the apricot notes from dan cong but sadly, I don’t think I’m getting any here. The taste does linger in your mouth the way a dan cong does, though.

Overall I’m surprised at how savory this is – definitely not sweet, though maybe I need to go gongfu style to get these qualities? I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I’d be with the Western brewing, so I’ll try that way next time. Withholding the rating until I get a better sense of the tea.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Nightshifter

So interesting how tea is unique for everyone! I tried this for the first time today (Western 2tsp to 8oz boiling water for 4 min) and it tasted totally sweet and thick to my palate. :)

JoonSusanna

Interesting indeed! I’m not sure what I did but I have enough to try again, so we shall see if it was a one off! I’m glad yours tasted sweet – it gives me hope!

Butiki Teas

JoonSusanna-I definitely recommend using a gaiwan to brew this tea. It really shines with short steeps.

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73

I love a good hearty tea when its stupid-cold outside. If it weren’t for tea, I don’t know how I’d survive winter – I’m such a summer girl at heart.

What does this smell like??? It is so familiar. AH! I know – it kind of reminds me of Lao Shan black – the malty chocolate note just overpowers you (in a really good way). It smells sort of like toasted bread/genmaicha, too. Strong in the way I like my breakfast teas to be.

I added the extra bit of leaf (the 1.5 tsp) with the expectation of putting milk and sugar in, but decided to give it a sip plain just to see what it tasted like. This was a wise choice – as I’m thinking it really doesn’t need it. I was expecting some astringency just because that is what breakfast teas do – they are strong to the point where they need additives. So imagine my surprise when I just get this mouthful of smooth, chewy dark chocolate, followed by a bright – ceylon esque finish?

It was pretty blissful, I tell you.

As it cools some of the astringency I was expecting comes in, so I do add a touch of milk and sugar just to experience the change in flavor. I figured I would like it even better, since I do normally take breakfast teas this way, but I’m finding its muting some of the rich distinct flavors I got before. Still good, but its become any generic breakfast tea.

Well, future self, that settles it: a little lighter on the leaf, sans additives (or at least sans the milk) next time. It still gets good marks for those promising first sips though!

Nightshifter

Sounds very good!

Jennkay

Nice! I just had Laoshan Black today, and this sounds awesome- adding to my shopping list :)

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68

It’s my Steepster birthday! I’ve been hanging around here for a good 3 years now!

I had another hard night at work – our floor is full of such heavy acuity kids right now I feel like I’m running all night long. Luckily I’ve got a night to recuperate before signing on for 2 more. Plus, it is SO COLD outside. Supposed to flurry later tonight/tomorrow morning, even, though it would be better if it didn’t. Georgians simply don’t know what to do with snow or ice.

So I couldn’t just go off to sleep without getting a cup of tea to warm/relax me. I wanted a black tea, no added flavors but strong. This one I got from Stacy’s Black Friday sale, and since I know most of the flavor profiles of these teas separately, I was excited to see what happened when they blended together.

Followed the steep parameters recommended by Stacy, 3 tsp. leaf to 500 ml. water in the Breville.

This brews up a lighter brown color than I usually expect for a breakfast tea. It’s very smooth and doesn’t need any additives, either, which makes it seem even less of a breakfast tea to me.

Interesting…I think this tea has the lighter texture and mouthfeel of the Darjeeling, while maintaining the chocolate/malt/earthiness of the assam and keemun. It’s kind of throwing me for a loop, actually, that it has such a rich flavor without as much of a body to it.

I will say that I went into this very hesitantly knowing the Keemun was in this blend – I was leery of the smoke. This Keemun is really not smoky at all (phew!) and that was the biggest thing I was worried about so this makes me very happy. I do think its more of an afternoon tea than a breakfast tea, and I also think the chocolate/raisin notes come out a LOT more as the tea itself cools.

Pretty good, but not my absolute favorite blend from Butiki. Still, it was great to try it!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Anna

Happy Steepster birthday – to many more!

Uniquity

Hah, I saw this and then checked my Steepster birthday – also three years today! Cheers to us and all the rest!

caile

Happy steepster birthday to you both! :-)

Rosehips

Happy Steepster birthday!

Fjellrev

Yay, happy Steepster birthday to you!

OMGsrsly

Happy steepster-versary! :)

Sil

woot! happy anniversary you two!

Helena

Happy Steepster birthday!

JustJames

this tea is better than any cake for a celebration IMO. =0)

JoonSusanna

@Thanks guys!
@ Uniquity – awesome- happy steepster birthday to you too! Steepster twins!

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81

A generous sample given to me by Sil! Thank you so much!

Just got in the door from work and it was 25 degrees outside. I wanted to go straight to sleep but first I had to thaw out. With Dammann, of course. Because they are my new favorite thing lately.

Dry leaf smells of the a chemical/fakey caramel and red fruit. I’m sure it will settle out when the water hits it, but this wasn’t something I was too fond of smelling dry.

Steep notes: 2.4 g. leaf, 8 oz, water, no additives, below parameters.

There is still a kind of fake caramel note in the smell. The fruit seems more authentic, though I can’t pick out specifics. Mostly I want to say raspberry, which is unfortunate because I don’t like raspberry all that much.

The taste is a caramel (it does taste a little fake, which surprised me) and then a jammy fruit spread flavor. This has a very thick mouthfeel, it really reminds me a lot of preserves or something. Yep, raspberry jam and caramel in a nutshell.

I do really like how thick and chewy this is…it’s just a darn shame there wasn’t strawberry or cherry in the forefront. For a raspberry tea, though, it’s still pretty drinkable. And it helped warm me up.

Sigh. Now off to bed before going back to work again tonight.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 45 sec

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86

The third of the teas I ordered from Dammann, and a backlog from last night.

(I know that I am the queen of needless verbosity so I’m sorry in advance, but I’m including the backstory to keep it all straight in my head for future reference.)

I am ambivalent about mint teas in general, so this was a tea I mostly ordered for the boyfriend, who goes through Moroccan Mint in 250 g. increments. He really liked the Teavana version (which uses spearmint) but that is needlessly expensive, and then I switched to buying Upton (which uses peppermint) because it was cheaper and we both really dislike the ambiance and price of Teavana.

When I was looking for DF teas to buy I found that this one uses nana mint, a spearmint varietal that is actually what a Moroccan mint tea SHOULD contain. Since we needed a restock anyway this was a no brainer.

Which leads us to last night. The dry leaf didn’t have too much of a smoky note to it, which is good because I prefer less if possible. The mint was also very mild -definitely spearmint, but a little bit shyer.

Steep notes: below parameters, 2 tsp. leaf to 500 ml. water in the Breville, and no additives.

This is a well blended tea in that I taste the mint and the green equally. It doesn’t shout mint and it doesn’t do that cooling trick in your mouth that an overload of mint tends to cause. Nice and muted, and up the boyfriend’s alley. He’s most pleased with it, actually.

As for me, its good. Mint greens aren’t my thing and are pretty interchangeable, but I wasn’t getting it for me in the first place. He will go through it, and that’s all that matters.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Sil

what else did you pick up!

Terri HarpLady

Inquiring minds want to know! :)

JoonSusanna

Haha- I did this one, the Figue Fraiche and Noel A Venise. I’ve reviewed them all now, and I’m such a slow drinker that 100g. of each of those is going to last a long time.

Sil

nice!

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95

This was one of the three teas I got from Dammann recently. I steeped this up for myself while I made the boyfriend Noël à Venise (lucky guy is working from home today, because it was “icy” this morning).

I like figs. I like figs and I like tea and there really aren’t any straight fig black teas that I’ve seen anywhere else, plus my mother LOVES figs and her birthday is coming up. Since Dammann seems to be really good at producing natural flavorings I was willing to bet this would be a good choice to spring for 100 grams of.

The dry leaf is sweet and fruity, yes there is fig but also kind of strawberry-ish notes. No chemical notes, just fruit. Simple and to the point.

Steep notes: 2.4 g (1 heaping teaspoon) leaf to about 8-10 oz. water, no additives, below parameters.

Sometimes with DF the scent changes a lot from dry to steeped tea. That wasn’t the case with this one at all – it was that same lovely fig/strawberry smell, only magnified out of the cup to our entire breakfast nook. YUM.

The steeped tea itself is also very dark and looks a bit more viscous than tea usually does…almost like a prune juice. The taste, though, is perfect: fresh juicy fig, in a smooth, chewy black tea. This is quite a solid, unique offering from Dammann and I’m glad to have sprung for it!

[Boyfriend liked the Noël à Venise, btw. Wants to try it iced, even. DF is a miracle worker, because this guy doesn’t do flavored anything unless its mint or earl grey. I feel like I should move to France to thank them, haha].

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Dustin

The French have such interesting flavor combinations for tea! There was a The O Dor tea I had that has fig and something else in it, but I can’t remember the name now. Not much of a recommendation, is it? :)

JustJames

this is a brilliant tea…… you’re tempting me to get into mine, lol!

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100

Noël à Venise!

I liked the DF advent calendar but I felt that all the other teas were a bit samey after a while. Orange, chocolate, cloves, or caramel. This one technically is toffee but all I get is buttery vanilla and meyer lemon – quite a difference to the other teas in the box. It was the only one from the calendar that I considered a must order. (which just meant I got to order some new to me teas and hope for the best – so, silver linings!)

I’m not sure what it is about this tea, but it feels specifically designed for my palate. I was that girl who sucked on lemon wedges just because and I like vanilla and cream anything over chocolate, any day.

I was nervous about the transition from tea bag to loose leaf, though. Mostly I was worried about the teaspoon/gram amount. I solved this by weighing one of their sachets (2.4 grams) and just weighing out the dry leaf in a strainer. I don’t know why I was so nervous, I think it was because I’d had such a perfect first experience and didn’t know how subsequent ones would measure up.

It’s like I’ve forgotten Tea Lessons 101: loose leaf is always better.

Dry leaf – still sweet/tart lemon with a heavy cream undertone. The boyfriend, who rolled his eyes at me having to go outside the country to support my tea habit, did grudgingly admit it smelled good – a pastry tart, was his description. To me it’s also strongly reminiscent of Earl Grey Cream, but lemon and not bergamot.

The taste is just as perfect as I remember, too – great without additives, warm and comforting but not super heavy since the lemon is such a bright counterpoint. It is just fantastic, and the fact that I was able to replicate the experience is what is nudging it up to the 100.

Welcome home, Noël à Venise. You will always be a staple in my cupboard.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
yyz

I’m so glad you found one you loved out of the experience! What else did you pick up?

Anna

Those eyerolls? They’re eyerolls of LOVE.

Sil

seriously..what else what else!

caile

Sounds perfect.

greenteafairy

This sounds wonderful!

JoonSusanna

I ended up going with this (which is now out of stock according to Dammann… WAH!), Figue Fraîche, and their Moroccan mint since it uses the traditional nana mint. The smallest amt. you can buy is 100 g. so with that in mind I only went with teas I was sure I would like. I’ve had all of them now though so I’ll be putting up notes in a minute!

yyz

It’s still available at cadeau- deco-vendome and the other place I listed. I’m glad you got yours though!

JoonSusanna

@yyz – thanks, I saw that, and it appears to have been restocked at DF’s website as well. This is good, because I had a slight throat-clutching panic stricken moment that this would be a seasonal offering only. Glad that’s not the case!

yyz

I hate that! Especially as this tea really has a year round flavour.

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93

I’m home with all my teas! I’ll be honest, that was the first thing I looked at when I walked out the door. I’m not ashamed.

Also, my Breville turned 3 yesterday! I do love my little tea machine. To honor it, I went ahead and steeped a tea I hadn’t had before while watching the Downton Abbey Christmas special. I’d been dreaming about this one for the past few days so I it was the one I went for.

The dry leaf is so pretty! I love the green and the blue. It also has a nice creamy vanilla smell – almost caramel. I steeped it at the below parameters as recommended, with no additives.

I do get the distinct scent of Bailey’s in the steeped tea…Bailey’s in combination with the smell of Taiwanese Assam, so it’s pretty amazing and comforting on a cold night. The first taste was initially kind of disappointing – it was strong and a touch astringent. I think it would have benefitted from milk, if we’d had any, or sugar, if it hadn’t been all the way across the room from me, haha.

But as it cools it actually seems to get a bit smoother. I pick up more on the irish cream though not so much on the cheesecake. It hasn’t stopped me from powering through the cup, and I suspect when I do add some sugar to future cups I will love it that much more.

Ah, so good to be home, just in time for the New Year. Maybe I’ll have time for one last cup in 2013…

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Anna

I love that Steepster always makes me feel less loony about bringing half a suitcase’s worth of tea to Rome. And after my travels, I am always so excited to be back with my adjustable temp kettle, haha. Happy new year!

Starfevre

Oh yes, a stovetop kettle was killer during my week and a half trip.

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Bio

A few of my favorite teas (in no particular order):

*Dessert flavored blacks
*Breakfast blends
*Virtually any black tea (but lapsang/keemun!)
*Dancong oolong
*Sencha
*Dragonwell

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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