2970 Tasting Notes

61
drank Gooseberry by Simpson & Vail
2970 tasting notes

Thanks Indigobloom for letting me thief a bit of this before I hand it off to you!

So from the description, I’m expecting pretty much a black currant-flavoured tea. Which have been rather hit or miss for me – Jane Austen Mafia from Adagio was quite good, although it also has a creaminess, but I dislike 52teas’ blends containing black currant.

The flavour of the cup is more on the side of the 52teas’ flavouring, somewhat candy-like but less artificial. Definitely kind of perfumey, which I don’t think gooseberries actually are. (Funny observation: I think last time I ate gooseberries, they were rather tart, so my mouth is currently watering like crazy in anticipation of eating tart fruits, even though I know the tea will be nothing like that! I should note that this also is more of a ‘dilute-the-tartness’ thing, than an ‘om-nom-nom’ thing. Silly salivary glands!)

The flavour of the cup is milder than I anticipated. Not very fruity at all. The “gooseberry/black currant” flavour is there, as is the perfuminess, but they’re quite mild. This is definitely not an in-your-face flavoured tea!

Certainly not my cup of tea, but I imagine it may be for those who like this sort of fruitiness!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Indigobloom

Eeeep! perfumey makes me worry. After the ripe raspberry I bought from Kally :/

Kittenna

It’s no more perfumey than 52teas’ Black Currant Bai Mu Dan! And it’s quite bearable. Much moreso than the violet, which I still was able to drink.

Indigobloom

ah well that’s good! phew.

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83

Although I chose to order this as part of one of my Try Me packs, it never seemed to grab me as a tea I wanted to try until tonight, when I decided it was high time for a bit more progress on my new teas (yeah, the ones I received while here, hahahahaha).

I cannot believe how incredibly delicious this tea smells! Like the sweet, caramelized sugar crust around the edges of a pineapple upside-down cake that I used to break off and eat (and get in trouble over). I didn’t want the rest of the cake, just that part! Anyways, this tea smells like that. Dry and brewed. It’s incredibly strong, and soooo intoxicating!

Unfortunately, the flavour doesn’t quite live up to the aroma. When the tea was still warm, there was a strong flat/cardboardy/stale note right after the initial sip, which then faded into delicious caramelized sugar flavours and perhaps a hint of fruitiness (I really taste no pineapple here, to be honest). I found the stale flavour quite disconcerting – it was almost as if I was just tasting the black base, quite weak and stale, before the flavouring hit my tongue. This phenomenon has happened to me before, and it seems to be unique to flavoured teas (so it makes me think it’s something do with flavouring in some way). Either way, the tea has now cooled, and this flatness no longer makes an appearance, it’s just delicious caramelly goodness.

I’m a bit disappointed that I can’t really pick out any pineapple here, but the strong caramelly flavours will make this a great one for the travel mug (although I only have enough for one serving left!)

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 30 sec
Indigobloom

interesting!! sad about the pineapple though

Kittenna

It was! Not what I expected, and I probably wouldn’t order it again (gah, I am craving Cashew Turtle SO BADLY right now), but tasty enough!

Indigobloom

do you have any cashew turtle left, or is it at home?

Kittenna

There are a few cups’ worth left, but yeah, I didn’t bring it with me. Tried to bring mostly teas that my mom would enjoy, plus a few flavoured things for me. And then of course I received both a Della Terra and the S&V order while I was here (they so far have all been too flavoured for my mom, sadly, although she didn’t try the Ginger Pear which I specifically wanted her to try, haha).

Indigobloom

There’s still time!! right? :)

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86
drank Ginger Pear by Simpson & Vail
2970 tasting notes

When I opened the bag of this tea, I was greeted with the most amazing pear smell. I had been expecting ginger to predominate (given that S&V has a pear black, and ginger is first in the name here), however given that one of my “quests” is to find a great pear tea, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if this was more pear than ginger!

The aroma of the brewed cup is true to the dry tea… and crazily enough, so is the flavour!! (I say crazily enough because how often does the flavour actually match the aroma?! Not nearly enough, IMO.) Ohhhhh man, this one is good, guys! If you like sweet pears? BUY THIS TEA!! The tea leaves a lingering pear-flavoured sweetness in your mouth which is absolutely divine. I’ve gotta admit that my hopes have been far exceeded here, and the likelihood of me placing another order from S&V in the far-too-near future are rising. I’ll admit that it’s a little on the perfumey side, but then again, so are pears. The perfuminess does remind me a little bit of the Violet tea I just drank, so perhaps it’s a flavouring component.

Oh… and there’s no discernible ginger here. So if you’re looking for ginger pear, I suggest you either add your own, or buy a different tea.

ETA: Prior to the second infusion, I sniffed the infuser basket and definitely smelled ginger, which also was noticeable in the brewed tea alongside the pear. My guess is that a) the strong pear flavouring masks the ginger in the first infusion and b) perhaps the ginger needs a bit more time to infuse into the cup?? Either way, this second infusion, in half the water, was quite pleasant!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Sil

I can’t even remember if this was on my lifeppst of things…likely nt but ill happily steal a sample :)

Indigobloom

meeeee to!!! :P

Vortegne

Wow, pear..Sounds amazing, as I’m not a huge fan of ginger :)

Kittenna

Nopers, neither of you had it on the list (I looked last night out of curiousity). I’ll definitely bring samples though!

Kittenna

Vortegne – if I were you, I’d probably stick with the plain pear tea if you decide to order, although the ginger is definitely not prominent here!

CrowKettle

That sounds amazing, although I would probably add some ginger as I like mine zappy! Ginger pear is one of my favourite tea flavour pairings.

MissLena

I love ginger and pear, this sounds absolutely delicious to me :D

Kittenna

I really wish there was more ginger! The pear was so delicious, I think it could be amazing!

MissLena

Mmm I might have to place an order and try some of S&Vs pear teas, looks like they have a few of them, and you could always add in some fresh ginger to see what happens!

Kittenna

Yeah – I’m really kicking myself for somehow missing the flavoured teas with bases other than black!! I see there’s a pear green – that could be amazing…

MissLena

Mmmm yes it’d be so light and fresh, I need a good pear tea, I haven’t started the hunt yet..but it might have to begin here :D

Kittenna

Yes – as long as the green base is a good one! I would love it if Stacy @ Butiki used something like her Organic Huangshan Mao Feng to make a pear tea…. that could be amazing. DavidsTea’s Sencha Pear has a nice flavour, but it’s quite finicky, and not pleasant if at all oversteeped. Butiki’s Exotic pear, which I’ve gathered is being discontinued, contains anise (or another related flavour), and I couldn’t get any pear from it. Caramelized Pear from Art of Tea, I think, is a good pear-flavoured rooibos, but I much prefer actual tea bases.

MissLena

I’ll have to check those out! I’ve been adding a bunch of Butiki teas to my cupboard so I imagine an order to them will occur in the near future :) , I should check out the DavidsTea one for sure too as it’s local, haha, like I need more teas though!

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57
drank Violet by Simpson & Vail
2970 tasting notes

So apparently I’m the first person to review this tea!

Anyhow, the aroma is very…. interesting. It smells almost soapy, but not, just more in the sense that the aroma is one that one would more likely associate with bath products as opposed to tea. Flavourwise it’s flowery and sweet (not sugary, though), and I suppose, “spring-y” as the description mentions. Quite an interesting aroma. My lack of palate training is definitely hurting me here! The black tea base is fairly unassuming, strong enough to back the violet flavour well, but not interfering with the flavouring. There’s also very little astringency at the recommended infusion time of 3 minutes.

Overall, probably not a tea I’d re-purchase, but certainly one that has helped to satiate my curiousity as to what “violet flavour” tastes/smells like!

ETA: Second infusion is pretty similar.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
darky

thats a first tea smelling like soap, is that a good or bad or just weird thing? :p

CHAroma

At the very least, weird.

Kittenna

I’ve had teas with coconut and various other ingredients smell/taste soapy before. This one was more just soooo similar to a fragrance used for bath products, not tea, that it threw me. It wasn’t actually soapy (I would have had to dump it out). Just totally not a tea flavour to me!!

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70
drank Creme Brulee by Simpson & Vail
2970 tasting notes

Wow, does this tea ever smell potent! It’s rich, strong, caramelly goodness to the max! Almost too intense! Brewed up, it still smells much the same. The aroma is coming off as a bit artificial to me, to be honest, but hopefully that converts to delicious flavours?

Hmm. Well, there’s definitely no shortage of flavour here! However, I’m having a difficult time relating it to creme brulee. The predominant flavour (and aroma) is intense caramelized sugar, which is backed by what is oddly coming off to me as a bit of a cardboardy flavour (which I actually think is the custard). I realize that sounds unappetizing, but that’s how it’s coming off to me. How custard and cardboard are alike, I’m not sure, but I can imagine I’m tasting either when I take a sip! Consequently, I’m not sure whether I love this tea or just like it, but this is certainly enjoyable! And at 3 minutes, there’s a minimum of astringency, which is quite nice.

I suppose I shall see how this does in my travel mug, but I’m excited for another caramelly flavoured black. This is not as good as 52teas’ Cashew Turtle, but the abundance of flavour will probably make it a treat to discover in my mug in the morning (because by the time I get to drinking my teas, I can never remember what’s in each mug!)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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47

Ehm…. this one’s just a liiiiiiittle too weird for me. And my mom. I knew as soon as I opened my (thankfully) sample packet that it was not going to be my thing. It smells quite spicy, and a weird sort of savoury that doesn’t appeal to me. Can’t say I’ve ever had sage in a tea, so that could be part of it, although there are a few “new-in-tea”-to-me ingredients lurking in here.

My mom thought it tasted much like drinking liquid turkey stuffing. She thought perhaps it would taste good consumed alongside a turkey meal. I… thought it tasted less spicy and less strange than it smelled, but… definitely savoury, and rather weird.

Both of us did agree that the aftertaste is quite pleasant, once you get past the sipping and swallowing stages! I think it may be the ginger that leaves a nice spicy aftertaste.

I think I can get why people mix this with a pu’erh or something, but I just don’t think this is something that’s going to appeal to me in any form. Just too strange.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Ze_Teamaker

I like it, but I can see how it would be weird for some people. It kinda reminds me a Italian food personally.

Kittenna

Yeah, I’m wondering if I don’t care for tulsi. I honestly haven’t ever tried it on its own before! I do have a sample of 52teas’ Tulsi-rama in my box of teas from LiberTEAS, so perhaps when I get back home I’ll dig that out and give it a shot.

Indigobloom

LOL liquid stuffing. I so wanna sample this now if you don’t mind!

Kittenna

Well, I only got a sample size…. but as luck would have it, I don’t want the rest!! Ahaha, I’ll save it for ya. Better add to the swap list!

Bonnie

I’ve got to say that if you removed certain things from most of the alchemy blends they would taste strange. This is why adding Laoshan Black and a little puerh brings this blend somewhere close to the Summer Imperial Breakfast Blend with a little extra ginger (in my opinion). Sort of a magical thing that happens…and I like it! Plain, adding honey transforms the flavor into a more delicious cup.

Indigobloom

hehe thanks Kittenna! :p
Bonnie, you are a tea mixing master!!

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78

Yay, my S&V order finally arrived today!!! Naturally, I had to immediately get started on trying the new teas! I picked this one to start, as we were heading out shopping, so I had to travel mug it and thought it would hold up.

The dry tea smells a bit cinnamony and chocolatey, and a bit… cakey, which I suppose could be brownie. Brewed up, I recall it being ok although somewhat astringent while hot, but once it had cooled to lukewarm and sat for about 3 hours, I liked it a lot more! I will have to properly review a first infusion in the future. My mom tasted a sip and did not like it at all (thankfully we had made up Butiki’s Strawberry Oolong (which she adores!) in her mug). She doesn’t like chocolate in teas, apparently.

I’ve just brewed up the second infusion in half the water (3 min, boiling) and it smells much like a cinnamony baked good. Not really any discernible chocolate, but it’s pretty tasty! A bit astringent (so maybe 2:30 would have been preferable), but it tastes very much to me like the inside of a cinnamon bun, where there’s cinnamon in/on the bun part but not really any stickiness or icing.

I think this will work nicely as a morning thermos tea for me! That seems to be the best use of flavoured blacks for me, while the more delicate teas are best drank in the evening from a mug :)

Preparation
Boiling

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82
drank Coconut Oolong by Zen Tea
2970 tasting notes

This is pretty good! Very much like Golden Moon’s Coconut Pouchong, although it tastes a little more “flavoured”. Basically, you can taste the delicious pouchong base with toasty notes of coconut and as it says in the description, a nice hit of floral from the base tea as well. IMO it’s a bit less subtle than Coconut Pouchong, but perhaps I used more leaf here. My mom likes coconut pouchong (but I didn’t really want to leave my whole package here), and she seems to like this one as well, so I’m leaving the rest of my pouch here.

Thanks to Zen Tea for this sample! It’s nice to know that I can get a good coconut oolong from a Canadian company!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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82
drank Genmaicha by Butiki Teas
2970 tasting notes

Hmm, a bit astringent today. Still tasty toasty ricey! Mom thought it was boring, aka sushi tea. Great when out with sushi, but she’d rather have something more exotic at home! Fair enough!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Vortegne

I’ve tried Genmaicha from Zhena’s Gypsy Teas, I suppose it has got more taste, but it is rather flat too

Kittenna

I do usually like this one more (my own fault that it was astringent, I think I overleafed), but yeah, it doesn’t have the complexity of other teas, which I suppose is why it comes off as flat or boring sometimes. But sometimes that’s what I’m in the mood for! It was great in a travel mug though!

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83

Mmm, I can certainly taste the bao zhong here! DELICIOUS! But the pineapple flavour is unfortunately too light for me to enjoy it as such. I’m getting floral, slightly fruity notes at the end of the sip, which must be the pineapple (along with a bit of aroma). We just had a fresh pineapple for dessert this evening; I should have saved a touch of the juice and infused a bit here!

Either way, I think we should all be thankful that Stacy didn’t decide to put hibiscus in here to make the tea tart!! Hahahahaha.

ETA: Second infusion in half the water (same brewing parameters) is a slightly fruity pouchong. Definitely worth it, but the flavouring is pretty much absent.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Sil

Hey! There’s nothing wrong with hibiscus in moderation :p

Indigobloom

Hibby is good, if used right!
I trust Stacy, she knows how to figure out the ratios :)

Kittenna

Haha Sil, but for your rhubarb tea, hibiscus would be appropriate (I thought it was great in DT’s Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait)! Here, however, I think hibiscus would have been a terrible idea, but you know that some blenders would put it in anyways!

Indigobloom

Kittenna, that is true. It must be inexpensive, because they use it like a filler!!

Kittenna

Inexpensive and heavy(ish)!

Butiki Teas

Hibiscus is super cheap and pretty heavy but I would be surprised if many companies used it as a filler because it doesn’t take much to go extremely sour. The difference between even 5 grams in a pound of tea can be pretty noticeable.

Indigobloom

5g per lb? wow, that is more intense than I realized.

Butiki Teas

Indigobloom-Well that would be for it to be noticed. I used 13 grams in your entire tea. I started out with 20 which was way too sour. Those 7 grams made a huge difference. Better fillers would be dried fruits though not freeze-dried (since the kind we use are super expensive and usually add cost) and some nuts would work well as fillers.

Indigobloom

Oh neat, good to know the amounts! I can’t wait to start playing with the parameters. (getting so tired of waiting for a filter. gah!!)

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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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