2390 Tasting Notes

93
drank Checkmate by DAVIDsTEA
2390 tasting notes

First tea I’ve had at work in a long time! And I brewed it perfectly. Heavenly!

tigress_al

This tea is so awesome when it is brewed perfectly, but can be finicky!

Fjellrev

I was going to buy this next time I make an order or visit a store. Sounds so good!

Bonnie

This tastes great! At first..average…but it grows on you…then you love it!

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83
drank Peach Fuzz Chai by 52teas
2390 tasting notes

Bubble burst… back to regularly scheduled programming…

Anyhow, I cold-brewed this one a few days ago in my massive tea cold-brewing fest. I’m pretty sure this one got the 30 seconds of hot water followed by cold water treatment (although it was less of a dilution as the volume was smaller, so the water was probably still warm going into the fridge).

The resulting flavour is a light, fruity chai with a lovely creaminess. It’s actually really delicious, to be honest. I’m not sure I would have thought to ice a chai, but it works very well, especially because the white tea is providing absolutely no astringency. I wasn’t fond of this one hot, but brewed a little stronger and iced, it is quite fabulous! Looks like this will be another that I’ll be icing all summer until it’s gone!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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83

Thanks to Angel & Teavivre for my wonderful second batch of samples, which generously included this one which I requested specifically since everyone here has been raving about it!

Like the Fengqing Black Dragon Pearls, this tea smelled quite deliciously chocolatey when I opened up the package. It may have leaned a touch moreso towards malty/yeasty, but there was definitely chocolate there. I probably used about 2 tsp for 8 or 10 oz. water.

The result is pretty tasty, very little astringency, a rich, malty, hay-y flavour with chocolatey flavours emerging more slowly. I stupidly finished the other cup of tea before even trying this one (clearly not in the right state of mind for tasting tea right now. Not at all.) but I think I preferred the pearls :)

ETA: Very interesting second infusion, especially after just drinking that of the Fengqing Dragon Pearls! I can’t really taste much of anything chocolatey, but there’s a surprising sweetness! No astringency even though I think it was steeped a good deal longer than the pearls. I think this is a black tea I could actually drink regularly with no additions (along with the pearls, the Laoshan Black…. I see a trend here!)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

You just drank two of my favorite tea’s back to back in an unsettled state of mind! You should be drinking something low caffeine and take a bubble bath to relax!!!

Kittenna

I should have…. but the drama’s all over now, so I’ve calmed down (even though the answer wasn’t what I hoped for :) )

Bonnie

Ah sorry. I’m proud of you for trying!

Kittenna

Thanks :) I’m proud of me too – I’ve realized lately that I need to stop sitting around waiting for good things to happen, and need to work at making them happen myself! This was a big step :)

Barb

Good for you! Next time will be easier.

Bonnie

I’m going to have to take lessons from you Krystaleyn!

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88

Oh man. I can’t even write a proper tasting note right now because I totally just asked out a guy that I met yesterday, and am pretty much freaking out about it… (Mostly that he won’t respond… but also that he will…. gah!!) This is new territory for me…

So, uh, anyhow…. I really think I should have stuck to a rooibos/herbal tonight since I’m already really wound up, but I had brought this tea and my sample of Bailin Gong Fu Black downstairs on Friday night to try, but didn’t get around to it, and really wanted to experience the chocolatiness that everyone else has been! Thank you to Teavivre for the opportunity to taste and review this tea!

I used 5 pearls in my infuser, and the temperature probably wasn’t as close to boiling as it should have been, but oh well. The aroma when I cut open the packet was incredibly chocolatey and delicious – kind of crazy (hey, matches my mood!)

The tea tastes malty and chocolatey, perhaps a little less chocolatey than expected, but still quite good. I’m getting almost a yeasty-ish, bready note that I don’t remember finding quite as strong in Verdant’s chocolatey blacks, but it’s not bothersome. The tea is a little weak though, in my opinion, and I’m not sure if that’s because I should have steeped it longer (I went with three minutes), used more pearls, or because I added a bit of cold water after it was done steeping to cool it down a bit so I could drink it sooner (I should say here that I steeped it in less than 8 oz. water to begin with by accident, and the addition wouldn’t have put it over that). I’d be very curious to compare it directly to the Laoshan Black, but I only have a cup’s worth of that one left and don’t want to waste it on a night of comparisons.

… (I so don’t even know what to do with myself right now!)

ETA: This tea held up to a second infusion quite well! Still chocolatey and pleasing. I’m not sure how long I steeped it, but it could have been slightly too long, as there’s a bit of astringency. Still good though.

ETA again: Third infusion, a couple(?) days later, still has enough flavour to be enjoyable, although I do admit I steeped it in a smaller volume of water. I can’t recall now if I went for 3 or 4 minutes, but there’s no astringency this time, just maltiness with flourishes of cocoa every now and again. Really quite pleasant. This tea has definitely made the short-list for teas to buy when my stash is a bit smaller! (And I haven’t checked the price, but I think it is affordable?)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

This will be on my next Teavivre order!

momo

I hope he responds soon!

Dylan Oxford

Good luck :)

TeaBrat

Exciting!

Indigobloom

Holding my breath for you! :P

Kittenna

Sigh, totally shut down… Not that I really expected any different! C’est la vie.

Indigobloom

aw boo! oh well it’s better to know than not :)

Bonnie

His loss!

TeaBrat

Boooooo!

Scott B

I use 6 pearls of this in an 8-10 ounce cup. Teavivre recommends 3-4, but I don’t think that is enough.
I like to put the pearls straight into the bottom of my glass cup to watch them unfurl, then pour the tea through the strainer into another cup for drinking.

Missy

aww I was going to wish you good luck until I read all the comments. Better luck next time. :D

Kittenna

Thanks for the support, guys :D He was just too damn perfect, I knew I didn’t stand a chance!

@Scott – I will try 6 pearls next time (I assume I have that many left). It seems that I only found the first infusion a touch weak though, so we’ll see what sort of difference one more pearl makes!

Lynne-tea

Aww Krystaleyn – no one is perfect. And never think someone is better than you, as they might then start believing it themselves and then you won’t stand a chance. You are a strong, beautiful woman who deserves the best. He just didn’t know what he was missing out on.. or maybe it was just bad timing. Either way, ever beat yourself up about it. You were so brave! Way more than I have ever been. I am so proud of you tea buddy! :D

Kittenna

Oh… he is so perfect though! (I am hoping to find fault with him soon so my heart will be free again, hahahaha!) He was incredibly nice and honest about everything… yeah. I’m glad I tried :) Even though I feel like an idiot :D

CHAroma

His fault is that he has terrible taste in women. ;)

Bonnie

Just look at him and think…ASPARAGAS!
I would have taken all the pearls and OD’s on all of them at once after that! Death by chocolate tea pearls! Drowning…

Listen, my ex-husband was gorgeous…when we married…women used to come up to me and ask me how I got him. Flirt in front of me and come right up and get in between… Disgusting! (He always just smiled…he had been a football star!) When he had a heart attack, I was there. I cared for him. When I got sick, he dumped me! Give me an average guy who loves me and not just himself any day!

Kittenna

Ahaha, seriously guys, he is so ridiculously nice (I’m trying to make that into a fault… who wants to date a guy and always be the meaner one of the two?!) He actually let me down very easily, and just said that he hadn’t felt a “spark”, but thinks it would be fun to hang out. The girl that lands him is going to be very lucky.

Bonnie – had I still been drinking the pearls when I got his message, I probably would have drank them a little crazily :P Your ex-husband sounds like a jerk… pretty sure wedding vows include ‘in sickness and in health’. :(

Stoo

Good luck, Kitenna. You sound very nice yourself. The right guy will find you (or vice versa). Hang in there.

Kittenna

Thanks Stoo :) Hoping for the best!!

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92

In spite of the fact that I have drank this delicious matcha at least four times, I have yet to write a proper review for it, so now’s the time!

When I first received this matcha, for some strange reason when I smelled it, all I could think of was strawberry. I don’t know what exactly triggered that, but today when I opened the packet it definitely smelled like vanilla to me, although not quite the vanilla I had expected when ordering the matcha (I had expected more of a strong vanilla extract aroma/flavour, and this isn’t quite like that, although it is clearly vanilla-y). Brewed up, that same vanilla aroma is there, and it translates wonderfully to the flavour, combining beautifully with the vegetal matcha flavour. Although I like this matcha flavoured as is, Red Leaf Tea also offers different strengths of flavouring, and I’m curious to try this one a little bit stronger to see if it can make it any better (is that possible?!)

My favourite way to drink this (and any) matcha is as a cold (not iced) almond milk latte, made by dissolving (or technically, resuspending) the matcha in a bit of hot regular milk, mixing in the matcha, and then topping up the glass with almond milk from the fridge. Hence, a cold but not an iced drink, which is usually what I’m craving, as I have sensitive teeth :D Due to the vanilla flavour, unlike with other straight matchas I’ve tried, I don’t find that it’s necessary to add a ton of additional sweetener since I’m using a slightly sweet version of almond milk (TrueAlmond Original), and that adds enough sweetness. For a treat though, a few squirts of agave nectar make this absolutely decadent.

Another plus of this matcha is that the flavouring helps to mask some of the natural bitterness present in matcha, which is probably another reason I can drink it with less sweetener. That’s not to say there isn’t bitterness here (I tasted a bit of the dry matcha for curiousity… not a good idea!) but it isn’t as prominent as I’ve tasted in the past.

Given the health benefits of matcha, I’m super excited to try more of Red Leaf Tea’s flavoured matchas as I start to drink more cold lattes to beat the summer heat! Anyone curious to try this matcha can purchase it here http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/madagascar-vanilla-matcha.html (and I would highly recommend doing so!)

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
TeaBrat

Which flavor variety do you get: Delicate, Distinctive,Robust or “There’s Matcha in there?!”

Kittenna

This was my first matcha, so I went with ‘delicate’, just in case the flavouring wasn’t to my liking, so I’d potentially be able to disguise it and not have the matcha go to waste! I like the taste of matcha itself, so I think the strongest option might be a bit silly, but want to try the other two. I think DaisyChubb ordered one of the stronger options for one of hers?

TeaBrat

I got a matcha whisk in my steepster select box so now I have an excuse to get some. :)

Kittenna

Holy… I think I drank a little too much of this, or made it a wee bit strong. I am buzzed to the extreme right now! Woah.

Kittenna

Haha, yes, I saw the spoiler about the matcha whisk!! Good luck choosing a flavour… O.o I think their offerings have tripled since I purchased mine!

Azzrian

I have always wanted to purchase from them but have yet to do so.

Ninavampi

I loved this one! I sent in my review for the free matcha promotion. Have you had any experience with it? About how long do they take to get back to you?

Kittenna

I just sent in my review, too, and it’s my first one. I think both DaisyChubb and aisling of tea have had more experience with the promotion?

momo

I’m on my fifth I think with them, it usually takes 2-3 days for them to get back to you.

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82
drank Sweet Merlot Black Tea by 52teas
2390 tasting notes

Because Amanda tried this iced…. I decided I would too!

I steeped 1 tbsp and a bit of this one in ~200F water for 30s before mixing it up with the rest of two cups of cold water.

When I was straining it earlier, I caught a good whiff of grape, but I’m not getting that from the cup anymore. Strange.

The flavour is actually a surprisingly pleasant raisiny-concord grapey flavour. Yum! It’s like summery grape juice without all the sweet. It’s still a pretty big stretch to call this a wine tea, in my opinion, but I kind of like it this way! I think I would perhaps use a bit more tea next time just to make it a touch stronger, but it’s ok as is. To be honest… this actually tastes much more like a black currant tea than the Black Currant Bai Mu Dan I just drank. And whether or not they’re present here, I’m not getting a sense of strong artificial flavouring that turns me off.

I still intend to give this tea another shot hot, but I’d be happy drinking it this way all summer. Rating bump.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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45
drank Black Currant Bai Mu Dan by 52teas
2390 tasting notes

In spite of sitting here freezing, I continue to try new iced teas from my fridge. Consequence of steeping seven at a time :D This one was 1.5 tsp of leaf in one cup of cold water for 24 or 48 hours.

This one still smells off to me. Now, I don’t know whether I just don’t like black currants or something, but the fruit smell here is just very artificial for me. Artificial and perfumey. For some weird reason, I’m thinking play dough?!

The taste is fairly similar to the aroma, so I’m still not a big fan. I think I could drink this more easily as an iced than hot tea, but I don’t much care for it either way. I am finally getting a bit of what reads to me as ‘real’ berry flavour in the aftertaste, but there’s too much artificial for me to enjoy it. If anyone wants a swap sample of this, let me know…

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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83

So I’m pretty sure this one’s actually KSM and not Strawberry Lemonade…. :D

Same cold-brewing method, 1 tbsp leaf in 2 cups water, left in the fridge for 24 or 48 hours.

The aroma here is a bit candy-ish, without the tartness of Strawberry Lemonade. I remember that as not being my favourite thing about this tea, but we’ll see how it works iced.

Ok… this is much better iced than cold. I’m really not sure I’d call it ‘Kiwi Strawberry Margarita’, something like ‘Fruity Candy Deliciousness’ would suit just as well. I almost feel like it could use a touch more flavour, so perhaps I’d use a little more leaf next time. I think I’ll be using up the rest of this one in cold brews, which is great. I’m glad I’m finding a few teas that work really well cold-brewed, without weird off-flavours, as I was finding an abundance of previously! Bumping the rating as an iced tea.

Oh – after a few sips, I think I’m getting kiwi in the aftertaste. Yum :)

(Side note: My house is not warm enough for me to be drinking this much iced tea! I’m getting chills! I should really save these guys for tomorrow, when I’m heading out to the beach for some tubing in a water-filled gorge! Woooooo!)

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
silvermage2000

Nice review This sounds really good but I waited too long and it sold out before I got to buy some.

Kittenna

It’s not my favourite, to be honest; I like the Strawberry Lemonade Bai Mu Dan much better :)

silvermage2000

I was wondering do you have any extra this that mabe you could send to me in a swap or something?

Kittenna

Sure. I’m following you now; if you have any left of the 52teas I see in your Steepster cupboard, I’m curious about trying them :) PM me.

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90

Ok, so I brewed up both this and Strawberry Kiwi Margarita Bai Mu Dan in the fridge yesterday… in identical cups. I cleverly positioned my tea packets on the counter based on fridge location…. and then my roommate decided to “clean”, and shoved the packets into a straight line. NOOOOOOOOO. These both looked identical! I was worried I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart, but I think I have it straight…

Anyhow, this was a straight cold-brew of 1 tbsp of tea in 2 cups water, in the fridge for… I don’t remember! Either 24 or 48 hours. (What’s happening to my brain?!)

The smell is tart and fruity… exactly what I was hoping for/expecting! And the flavour is pretty darn good. It tastes like an unsweetened strawberry lemonade. Screw having this one hot – it’s ALL going to be iced! Although I do see I rated it high as a hot tea too. Maybe I’ll have to pick up another pouch… but I read that there are only 2 left? GAHHHHHH!!!! Dilemma.

Anyhow, Frank, gotta say this one’s a huge iced tea winner for me. This is fabulous. I’d choose this over a sweetened iced tea any day (yes, I’m drinking this without sugar and it’s amazing.) It’s just a perfect blend of lemony and fruit, with a lovely lingering aftertaste. I can’t really taste the white tea a great deal, but I think I’m catching it a bit in the aftertaste. Yum.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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79

Ok…. the sample I have of this is clearly too old to fairly be rating, but I’ll write a tasting note anyhow. My guess as to its age is perhaps 3+ years, and although it was in an sealed, unopened packet, green teas do not have that sort of longevity. Shame on me.

Anyways, it’s worth a shot! I used 2 tsp of leaf to coax at least some flavour out (since I have a sample bag that’s maybe about 6-8 tsp worth, I can try again if that’s too little/too much). The leaf looks like that of a dragonwell, but unlike the picture here, it simply looks old and tired. Somewhat like the Rishi leaf from yesterday, although that turned out to be just fine.

Although the instructions indicated a 25-30s infusion, I gave it a whole minute because I really didn’t think that would be long enough.

The resulting brew is light in colour (darkening a bit as it sits), and the aroma is really strange. I want to call is a brothy sort of umami (I learned about umami in my cheese tasting panel, which sadly ended today, but it was a fun experience!). I haven’t really had teas with this sort of brothy aroma… it’s kind of throwing me. There is a hint of “tea” in there though, but I have to wonder if there wasn’t some contamination going on. Which brings me to a story of a different packet of tea I had that I brewed up, and it tasted like smoked salmon! My cousin informed me that it was probably stored to close to… my smoked salmon… (legit, my aunt sent smoked salmon with the tea), but I really wasn’t sure. Fast forward to now, and I think I may have been unwittingly tasting a pu’erh or lapsang souchong :D The things you learn! I still have the packet, but can’t read the writing on it quite, but you can be sure I’ll be sampling it again, although it’s another 1.5 years older now, hahahaha.

Ummm, but I digress. I’m sorry, apparently I’m “chatty” today, which is probably a procrastination technique to get out of inputting the sheets of data sitting accusingly next to me (I was supposed to do it yesterday). (See, here I go again! Shut up, girl!)

So the tea! The strangely umami/broth-y scented tea! Actually tastes better than I would have expected, given its age. I can believe that in its day, it was a fine tasting dragonwell. It actually does taste like one, just not with any particular strength. There’s a hint of the characteristic rock sugar flavour, and the crisp-cooked veggie flavour, but they aren’t terribly strong. Yet that said, it does taste like green tea, and it is enjoyable! In fact, in a pinch I could probably drink it to satisfy a craving for Verdant’s dragonwell, although I wouldn’t be nearly as satisfied.

I expect one of the places I’ll really notice a difference is in re-steeping; while I can get 3 good infusions from Verdant’s leaves, the Rishi version from yesterday gave me one for sure and a potentially good second infusion (I probably just let it sit too long), and I’m not sure these leaves have anything left in them now, although I will give it a shot for curiousity’s sake.

Anyhow, I’m glad this one wasn’t a complete failure. I decided last night that I really need to get going on my oldest tea samples, so this was a start on that :)

ETA: Er… whoops. The re-steep got 13 minutes, and tastes seaweedy and astringent. Ah well!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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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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