2606 Tasting Notes

94
drank Mayan Chocolate Chai by 52teas
2606 tasting notes

Haven’t had this since sometime in July, when I gifted the remainder of my packet to my aunt, who quite liked it! Wanted a flavourful black (i.e. caffeinated) tea tonight, and a chai sounded perfect! Brewed up quite strong, with some milk and maple syrup (I have got to find some other sweetener… this is an expensive use for maple syrup, and the flavour is mostly lost!) Absolutely wonderful for in the lab (I mean, uh, sipping outside the lab door, in the hallway, because it’s against the rules to have food or drink in the lab…). Spicy, and strong (and sweet) and fabulous! I don’t even notice the smokiness anymore, but I’m sure I’d miss it if it wasn’t there! One of the best chais I’ve ever had, for sure!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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87
drank Green Apple Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
2606 tasting notes

Frankly, I’m too lazy to create a separate listing for my Madagascar Vanilla/Green Apple matcha cold almond milk latte blend from a couple days ago. it mostly tasted like apple anyhow (it had more vanilla, though), and was quite delicious! Sweetened it with a touch too much maple syrup. Pretty darn good!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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75

Backlog from Friday night.

I’ve heard pretty good reviews about this one, especially from a coworker, so was pretty excited to try it out! The dry tea is definitely VERY cocoa-y, so much so that the other ingredients are rather difficult to distinguish, coated in a layer of cocoa dust. I brewed it up in a filter with slightly larger holes than usual (i.e. not a Finum brew basket) to allow the cocoa to actually make it into the tea. As I’ve heard from other people, this looked like hot chocolate when brewed up, as it was brown and opaque, and smelled like cocoa and cinnamon. I can’t remember specifics, but it smelled pretty good!

Unfortunately, the taste wasn’t quite what I wanted. I liked the cocoa-y base, and the roasted mate worked well here (as in, it wasn’t overpowering, and surprisingly, also wasn’t banana-flavoured! See my other reviews of roasted mate for an explanation of that…) However, the cinnamon wasn’t quite right for me. Apparently I’m a bit picky on cinnamon in teas – I adore DT’s Glitter & Gold, but disliked Hot Lips, and I found the cinnamon here to be more on the “red hot” side than the warm, soft sort of cinnamon I prefer. I really don’t know what exactly the difference is, perhaps it’s artificial cinnamon flavouring vs. actual cinnamon? Or different types of cinnamon?

Either way, this wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really do it for me. Perhaps it could work quite nicely if sweetened, but I’d rather now. However, this is a great concept, using cocoa in a tea blend (especially with mate), and I hope another tea comes out using this same idea!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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96
drank Caramel Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
2606 tasting notes

So last night, I made myself a strong matcha latte to take to work and keep me awake while tediously grinding samples, and realized while I was making it that I actually hadn’t ever actually reviewed the caramel matcha! In spite of having drank it probably about 3 times (meaning there’s not much left in my packet, as I tend to make rather strong, large lattes when I do make one). I picked this matcha up for the obvious purpose of blending it with the Green Apple Matcha I already had received, to make caramel apple matcha lattes! This is the delicate flavouring, starter green matcha variety, which can be purchased here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/caramel-matcha.html

The aroma of this one is nothing short of intoxicating. While the Madagascar Vanilla and Green Apple matchas smelled good, this one I swear I could sit there with my nose in the bag and sniff all day! I love caramel, and this definitely made me think of those little Kraft caramels I used to get trick-or-treating, that were soft and chewy but would stick to your teeth, coating your mouth in delicious caramel goodness… until they melted entirely and you had to pop another in your mouth. Anyways, I have to say I was by far the most excited to try this one, after smelling it! I used probably a solid 2-3 tsp of matcha, unsifted (I know, I’m learning that sifting is important! I did it yesterday but not with the straight caramel matcha), whisked into hot milk and then mixed with a generous portion of cold almond milk. The result? Absolutely amazing! Caramelly goodness (even without sweetener), and an aroma to die to for. What gets me the most is how I can nearly fool myself into thinking I’m eating caramels, when instead, I’m having a matcha latte containing almost no sugar. Awesome! Definitely will be purchasing more of this one!

Since I failed to keep up with writing tasting notes on all my matcha adventures (probably because I usually make matcha lattes before heading off either on a long drive or to work, and therefore am not at my computer while drinking it), I’ll summarize my caramel apple experience here as well. Unfortunately, my first attempt at blending caramel and apple together didn’t work quite as planned – I used equal amounts of each, and the green apple completely overpowered the caramel (which was unfortunate because if anything, I probably wanted it the other way around, you know, would you like some apple with that caramel??) The second attempt, with probably a 2:1 caramel:apple ratio was better, but I still didn’t manage to achieve what I wanted. That’s fine though…. this one’s pretty darn amazing on its own!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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90
drank Mi Xian Black by Butiki Teas
2606 tasting notes

Ok…. I swear I’m reviewing this tea, brewing up a mate and making a matcha latte and going to work for at least a few hours, if not an all-nighter. Being a grad student sucks, especially when you promised your advisor you’d have all your samples ground by the end of September, only to realize that you still have 116 hours of grinding (at least!) left…. :(

Anyways! Enough whining. This sample was given to me by the lovely Sil during our awesome tea & pizza meetup a few weeks ago!

I honestly am not sure what to be expecting here, as I can’t recall reading anything about this tea. The aroma is a bit chocolatey, a bit “generic black”-y. Wow, is this ever smooth! Definite chocolate notes and… woah, there’s a sort of sweetness in here that I completely wasn’t expecting! A dark sort of sweetness, like with dark oolongs… intriguing. So chocolatey, kind of almost a… buckwheat honey sort of sweetness, and no astringency. This is my sort of black! I do wish there was a bit more chocolate (only because I love that flavour in black teas), but the sweetness more than makes up for it! Delicious! I’d definitely buy this one to drink again, this is pretty good! Thanks Sil!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec
Butiki Teas

Did you notice some similar honey notes like the Gui Fei? Even though they are completely different tasting teas, both teas have similar honey notes. This is because for both teas leafhoppers are allowed to bite the leaves which initiates the plants healing process thereby producing honey notes.

Sil

Yay glad you enjoyed this one :)

Daniel Scott

Curious, what are you grinding?

Kittenna

Stacy – I’ll have to try the two side-by-side at some point, but yes, I would believe that the source of the sweetness is the same, just with the different, eh, tea-making process (to get black vs. oolong). It was quite tasty, and I quite liked it. I swear I’ve had teas before (Oriental Beauty?) that were leafhopper-bitten, but that lacked these qualities.

Daniel – Not as interesting as you think it might be, perhaps. I’m grinding freeze-dried asparagus samples, research for my Masters project. It’s 1pm; I’ve been up since about 2pm yesterday, and gave up grinding for the time being because I’m exhausted and my productivity had sharply dropped. Sigh…

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68
drank Raspberry Truffle by Butiki Teas
2606 tasting notes

I tried this previously as a sample from Stacy, and enjoyed it, although at the time wasn’t looking to pick up any more flavoured blacks. However… then it went on sale. So here I am, with an ounce of it!

The aroma is divinely chocolatey, as is the flavour. I’m not getting as much raspberry as I did previously, but I also don’t think there were as many raspberry chunks in my infuser as when I tried my sample. The tea is absolutely smooth though, and devoid of bitterness/astringency, which is important to me! This is another tea I really need to try sweetened, to see what it does to the flavour. I’m reasonably happy drinking this unsweetened, but would really like some more fruitiness, and perhaps some sweetener would kick that up a notch. Still tasty though! Tiny ratings bump.

ETA: Added rock sugar on a whim to the second infusion… yum!! Perhaps a touch too sweet (whoops!) but I have high hopes for a sweetened first infusion!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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58
drank Tamarind Pop by Butiki Teas
2606 tasting notes

My bad, I really should have sweetened this. As is, unsweetened, it’s a pretty tasty generically flavoured black, with an aftertaste that I can make out to be tamarind. Mostly, though, it tastes like a fairly smooth black tea with vanilla and other flavours mingling in every now and again. There’s a low level of astringency (but I did oversteep this one a little, oops), but it’s very tolerable.

I’d definitely drink this one again without sweetener, just as a black, but I’m kicking myself for forgetting to add sugar when I was brewing it earlier! So curious about the tamarind soda flavour everyone’s raving about!

ETA: WOW Stacy, are you ever right that rock sugar makes all the difference here! Put maybe 1.5 tsp into my second infusion, and I definitely taste tamarind now. However, of course, since this is a second infusion of a black, no less, it’s not bad, but not great either. That said, I’m super excited to try this again properly! It’s crazy what a difference some sugar makes. Not that I intend to make this a habit, but if nothing else, it’s interesting! Will have to try with the Watermelon Dragonwell & Watermelon Xylophone for sure.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec
Butiki Teas

Sweetened it is a completely different tea. I like it both ways but it is just like a Tamarind Soda with a bit of fizziness too.

Kittenna

Yeah, I had every intention of spooning out a bit of tea after it was done infusing (to try it straight) and then plopping some sugar in, but got distracted by my roommate coming home! Next time!

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98
drank Quangzhou Milk Oolong by DAVIDsTEA
2606 tasting notes

There’s something to be said for actually setting a timer that makes a noise when steeping a tea…. ah well. So this one got 13 minutes (yes, over quadruple what I intended). Luckily, it’s not ruined, but the milky notes are being overshadowed by vegetal oolong flavours.

I almost feel like the quality of this oolong dropped before I picked up my most recent batch (and before the dramatic price drop); it’s just not nearly as good as I remember…

ETA: In spite of yesterday’s epically long infusion, I did a 4-minute second infusion today and ended up with a pretty fabulous cup! Smooth and milky, and with that lingering oolong flavour (which I don’t recall as much from yesterday, perhaps oversteeping killed it a little). I may yet take back my grumbling about this being lower quality than I remember.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 8 min or more

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98
drank Gui Fei Oolong by Butiki Teas
2606 tasting notes

Ok, after reading Awkward Soul ‘s note on this oolong, I was worried that my ’ice wine’ tasting experience last time was a totally one-off experience. Therefore…. time to try and repeat the deliciousness! I went with probably about 1.5 level teaspoons of tea for about 8-10oz. of water, and infused for 8 minutes at 180 degrees. And, I am happy to say that the tea definitely still has the same notes that remind me of the ice wine I sampled most recently. It’s not as jarring as last time (because the ice wine memory is a touch farther back), but at least to me, it is unmistakeable, and delicious. The aroma doesn’t betray this deliciousness, mostly being of a warm, slightly sweet, woody oolong, but the flavour is just fabulous, with a sweetness that builds until the end of the sip, hitting that intoxicatingly sweet ice wine flavour which lingers in the mouth after swallowing. Amazing!

This will definitely be in my next Butiki order, which is growing quickly! Apparently I can curb my restraint in tea ordering to some degree, but when it comes to Verdant, Butiki, and DavidsTea, I’m totally helpless…

ETA: Second infusion of this today, also for 8 minutes… still getting that sweetness that makes me think ice wine, however, there is bitterness this time as well. Not intolerable, but enough to make me consider a bit of a shorter second infusion. Or perhaps, 183F was too high (3 degrees Fahrenheit making a difference? I hope not, but who knows.)

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 8 min or more
Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl

Sweet, totally doing this next time I make this tea, which will be soon! It’s pretty amazing!

Azzrian

Mmmm Ice Wine flavored tea ….

Veronica

That sounds so good!

Kittenna

I mean, it’s not ice wine flavoured like the ice wine teas I’ve tried from various companies, there are no real muscatel/grape notes, it’s just that syrupy sweetness, and some flavour that was bang on to whatever ice wine I tried most recently. I could probably look up what it was… my recollection tells me that it was a maple ice wine. I very nearly bought some…. regretting having not, since it’s a 4-hour drive away…

The above said, I have to say that of all the ice wine teas I’ve tried (I’ve tried at least 2, possibly 3), this would be by far the best…

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80

A sample of this one from Azzrian this time! A bit of a burnt/toasted aroma upon brewing, and in the flavour as well… but I like it! Definitely caramelly too, so just what I was looking for tonight. Perfect! I think I like the DavidsTea version better, but this works just great right now. Thanks Azz!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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Bio

I have always been a tea fan (primarily herbals and Japanese greens/oolongs) but in the last year or so, tea has become increasingly more appealing as not only a delicious, calming drink, but as a relatively cheap, healthy reward or treat to give myself when I deserve something. I should clarify that, however; the reward is expanding my tea cupboard, not drinking tea – I place no restrictions on myself in terms of drinking anything from my cupboard as that would defeat my many goals!

My DavidsTea addiction was born in late 2011, despite having spent nearly a year intentionally avoiding their local mall location (but apparently it was just avoiding the inevitable!). I seem to have some desire to try every tea they’ve ever had, so much of my stash is from there, although I’ve recently branched out and ordered from numerous other companies.

I like to try and drink all my teas unaltered, as one of the main reasons I’m drinking tea other than for the flavour is to be healthy and increase my water intake without adding too many calories! I’ve found that the trick in this regard is to be very careful about steeping time, as most teas are quite pleasant to drink straight as long as they haven’t been oversteeped. However, I tend to be forgetful (particularly at work) when I don’t set a timer, resulting in a few horrors (The Earl’s Garden is not so pleasant after, say, 7+ minutes of steeping).

I’m currently trying to figure out which types of teas are my favourites. Herbals are no longer at the top; oolongs have thoroughly taken over that spot, with greens a reasonably close second. My preference is for straight versions of both, but I do love a good flavoured oolong (flavoured greens are really hit or miss for me). Herbals I do love iced/cold-brewed, but I drink few routinely (Mulberry Magic from DavidsTea being a notable exception). I’m learning to like straight black teas thanks to the chocolatey, malty, delicious Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, and malty, caramelly flavoured blacks work for me, but I’m pretty picky about anything with astringency. Lately I’ve found red rooibos to be rather medicinal, which I dislike, but green rooibos and honeybush blends are tolerable. I haven’t explored pu’erh, mate, or guayasa a great deal (although I have a few options in my cupboard).

I’ve decided to institute a rating system so my ratings will be more consistent. Following the smiley/frowny faces Steepster gives us:

100: This tea is amazing and I will go out of my way to keep it in stock.

85-99: My core collection (or a tea that would be, if I was allowing myself to restock everything!) Teas I get cravings for, and drink often.

75-84: Good but not amazing; I might keep these in stock sparingly depending on current preferences.

67-74: Not bad, I’ll happily finish what I have but probably won’t ever buy it again as there’s likely something rated more highly that I prefer.

51-66: Drinkable and maybe has some aspect that I like, but not really worth picking up again.

34-50: Not for me, but I can see why others might like it. I’ll make it through the cup and maybe experiment with the rest to get rid of it.

0-33: It’s a struggle to get through the cup, if I do at all. I will not willingly consume this one again, and will attempt to get rid of the rest of the tea if I have any left.

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