2276 Tasting Notes

88
drank Candied Almond by The Tea Emporium
2276 tasting notes

Finally, it seems my tastebuds are open to flavoured teas again. So time to start attacking that sample pile!

First up is a sample from the lovely Indigobloom!

This one smells so similar to DavidsTea’s Forever Nuts, but it almost seems sweeter, with a gentler cinnamon. I like Forever Nuts (but have none on hand atm), and would have liked to compare the two, but that involved too much effort.

Steeped, it smells like warm cinnamon with a touch of apple. Like a cinnamon apple streudel, or something of the sort. Perhaps a big sticky cinnamon bun. I’m getting hungry…

Ok, this tastes like warm, sweet cinnamon in a cup, with a touch of apple. It’s nice. It’s a little weak, which is funny because I used up my entire sample from Indigobloom (which was at least 2 tsp in my average-sized mug. Maybe I should have steeped it for longer. I seem to recall Forever Nuts being a touch more potent. Either way, it is nice. I’m going to let it cool a bit more now; I liked Forever Nuts cool as well.

Yum, it’s good cooled down to probably 30ish degrees. Still weaker than I’d like, but a very pleasant cup. I’m likely to stick with Forever Nuts because it’s way easier for me to acquire, but I think they’d be pretty good substitutes for one another.

(Oh, and although I can taste some almond, I’d hardly call this one Candied Almond, which makes me think moreso of a caramelly nut flavour.)

ETA: Second infusion (for forever, i.e. probably as much as two hours) has much more flavour and is quite delicious, even cold. Quite sweet, cinnamony, nutty goodness. No sourness as Indigobloom described. Love.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Indigobloom

lol that is too funny, I prefer this one because it’s lighter than Forever Nuts! :P

Bonnie

Hold the press! Indigobloom I believe sent me a sample (or TeaFairy) so I’ve gotta check this one out!

Kittenna

It’s a lovely tisane :) They both are.

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93

Verdant green tea #3 for the evening.

First infusion:
Hmm, my nose isn’t detecting any aroma. Maybe it’s tired. Mmmm, this is clearly different from the other two. I almost got the sort of tea flavour one gets from a black tea, which is interesting. It’s sweet as well, but much different from the dragonwell as there’s more body to it. I was strangely just reminded of an earl grey… yep, still getting that weird association. (It just occurred to me that I may be interpreting the citrusy note from my earlier review as the bergamot from an earl grey, but I can’t be certain).

Huh – I just went back to my first tasting note, and it totally isn’t meshing with what I’m tasting here, but I think I used a fair bit more leaf previously, given that I only steeped it for 1 minute that time. Also… wondering a touch if my teaball still had traces of Coconut Cream Pie lingering in it. Please don’t rag on me about the teaball – I know it’s less than optimal, but I only have two “open-water” infusers. Maybe I should have strained it instead. Actually, I had contemplated that earlier… I guess I forgot.

Anyways, this one probably is a poor comparison, in retrospect. I’m really thrown by how it’s tasting a bit like a black tea. Ah well. I know it was great the first time around. Might try a second infusion later, but I’ve kind of lost the will to bother at this point.

I think I should also compare these three in a more gong-fu sort of style (although I doubt I have patience for 3-second infusions, I could do 15 or 30 second ones). A fun experiment another night.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

Krystaleyn- I have had similar issues with my tea strainer lately. For example, I usually steep herbals like peppermint in my glass tea press. The last couple times I steeped it in my infuser and thought I cleaned it really well. The last couple teas (black) I’ve steeped in it were horrible tasting. I wasted a few cups of quality teas, because the peppermint was so strong even after cleaning it. S I think I’ll steep my herbals in glass now-it is much easier to clean.

Kittenna

As far as I know, I haven’t usually had a problem. I reserve my semi-fancy steeper for straight teas (no herbals, flavourings (aside from jasmine), etc.), and although the plastic is stained, it seems to be just fine (it provided me with delicious dragonwell today). My metal infuser basket seems to be similarly resilient, and it has had all sorts of things in it. Mind you, it’s also sturdy enough to scrub with a scouring pad, which I have done once or twice. The teaball had never given me problems to my knowledge, but it is definitely more difficult to clean, and I admittedly didn’t try too hard with it this time. Makes me wonder if I’ve had inadvertent cross-contamination in the past. I really should reserve it for strong-flavoured herbals and the occasional flavoured tea, but I just can’t afford more infuser baskets right now (or, not at 12.99 a pop from DavidsTea, which is the only place I’ve located them as yet), so sometimes it gets used for something like this.

I can only imagine what peppermint would do to the flavour of a good tea. Good thing I hate it and only very rarely steep something containing it! Not that there aren’t other strong, lingering flavours too, but I imagine that would be pretty gross.

ScottTeaMan

It was rather sickening. That’s why i used the glass press in the past, but now I wont forget again-I hope.

Indigobloom

I noticed that when I used my tea ball in the past, it was fine at first but then there were issues later on, the more I used it. Eventually it started to rust, no matter how well I dried it after washing! and the mesh was puckering as well. I hadn’t noticed the flavour residue issue… in my tea ball, though I had that concern with my plastic tea master.
Looks like we both had awkward tea experiences yesterday Kristaleyn :/

Bonnie

I had to get strong tea smell out (lapsang souchong) by cleaning with baking soda which removed the smell! Now, I have a dedicated pot for that and puer especially and clean stainless mesh with the soda. Also hands carry smells when tasting so you have to watch that too.

ScottTeaMan

I’ve thought of the Baking Soda idea, but I always forget to do it. :)) Thanks Bonnie.

Kittenna

Thanks for the tip, Bonnie! I know I had tried to clean it once with vinegar/baking soda, but I’m not sure it did a great deal. So many irritating little crevices that are hard to reach.

@Indigobloom – I’m not sure if mine is rusting, but it’s definitely discoloured. Bleh.

Missy

Another easy cleaning tip is denture tablets. They send up little bubbles into all those tiny places that are hard to get a cleaning tool into.

Kittenna

Ooh! Interesting. Are they expensive?

Bonnie

Now here is a conundrum….if I answer…..people will think I have dentures, If noone answers, someone is not helpful or is shy or is not telling the truth or something like that. So, since I should know because I’m the ole lady in the room…then NO they are not expensive but get um at a store like Walmart or Target because just like TP and Laundry Soap that sort of thing would be less expensive there.

Missy

I thought they were pretty cheap myself. I love that I can soak some thing and literally forget about until the next day. They are designed for things like tea stains on stuff that stays in your mouth, so they safe little work horses!

Indigobloom

brilliant idea!!

Missy

Bah I can totally tell I wrote that comment on my nook late night. Look at that grammar!

Missy

Thanks Indigobloom!

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97

Verdant green tea #2 for the evening.

First infusion:
The liquor is unbelievably pale. So much so that I would be sure it was understeeped, but I highly doubt that. The aroma is the lightest, sweetest, vegetal aroma.

I cannot believe the sweetness of this tea. I really can’t. Like the first time I drank it, it’s rock sugar goodness, with a hint of vegetal. It is just SO sweet! No astringency/no bitterness. I think my decision to use more leaf this time was a good one. It’s still light, but not the verging-on-hot-water-flavour sort of light. Just amazing. Up with the rating.

Second infusion (2min/175F):
Still so pale. I have to sniff awfully hard to smell any aroma, and since I don’t want to inhale tea, I’ll just say that there is none. This time there’s a bit more flavour, in a sense. There’s still sweetness, but less so, and there are still vegetal hints underneath. There’s a touch of astringency (probably because I fiddled with parameters again), but it’s not bothersome. I think I actually could have reduced the amount of water I used and gotten a better cup out of it.

I think this dragonwell would be a tea for times when I want something sweet and delicate. I still feel like I would like to try using a bit more leaf to get just a bit more flavour out, but it is lovely as is. The smoothness of the cup also makes it perfect for times when astringency is completely unappealing (during which I usually would select a white or herbal).

ETA: Third infusion (175F/2min) definitely loses some of the magic. Astringency now present (bleh), although the aftertaste is still deliciously green tea. This may have been better had I steeped the third infusion last night (it seems green tea leaf doesn’t hold up well to sitting overnight). I think three is it for this one.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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98

Time to compare the three green teas I have from Verdant, so I can work towards identifying favourites.

I brewed each of the teas more or less according to the parameters on Verdant’s website for western brewing, although I used more than 1tsp of leaf. For this one, I think I used a generous two 1/2 tsps, so probably 1.5 tsps with 250ml water.

First infusion:
The smell of the dry leaf is very… dry leafy. What can I say? It smells like rolling around in autumn leaves. Not an uncommon smell. I’m getting a bit of a hint of seaweed, which is interesting…. no, actually a strong seaweed smell. Makes me crave sushi, even though I was at an all-you-can-eat on Friday evening.

The aroma emanating from the steeped cup is gentle and kind of brothy/seaweedy.

Oh, yum. The sip first tastes sweet, followed by delicate, sweet seaweed flavours. The aftertaste is so sweet, and creamy. I’m getting… caramel? Holy. Yes, definitely caramel. Delicious, delicious caramel. There is definitely astringency present, and though I don’t always like it, it just goes with the whole flavour profile here. I feel like perhaps if I had used just a single teaspoon of dry tea, it may not have appeared. No bitterness though. Oops, I just about finished the cup – I meant to save some for directly comparing to the other two teas!

Second infusion (2.5min/175F):
The aroma is sweet and vegetal. Oh… I think I messed this one up. Too much astringency for me :( This will teach me to play around with Verdant’s parameters. I can definitely still taste the caramel aftertaste though. This would have been an excellent cup had I paid attention to the instructions.

To me, this is definitely more like a green tea to me than the others, but that caramel aftertaste really sets it apart from other greens I’ve tried. If I’m looking for flavour with a lingering candy-like sweetness, this one would be my choice.

ETA: I cannot get over this aftertaste! Definitely want to try again to make sure I can get it a second time, but wow.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

sounds scrumtious! I’ll definitely make note of this one for later. :)) Hope things really improve for you. :))

Kittenna

Thanks :)

I was kind of sad that I didn’t get any chocolatey notes like everyone seems to think are common, but the caramel aftertaste really surprised me and made up for it. Very impressed.

Indigobloom

whenever you’re free just let me know! :)
this next month is swamped for me. Hopefully in June

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95
drank Mulberry Magic by DAVIDsTEA
2276 tasting notes

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81
drank Goji Pop by DAVIDsTEA
2276 tasting notes

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94

Hmm, I think I do like Forest Berry Silver Needle better, even though it’s cotton candy sweet and this one is more white tea-flavoured. Feel like I should have used filtered water today.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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72
drank Silver Buds Yabao by Verdant Tea
2276 tasting notes

Um, I think I may have stepped into “too weird for me” territory with this one.

The smell is… really weird. Kind of familiar, but not from any teas I’ve been drinking. I think it’s a plant smell, though. Not sure it’s a smell I want in my mouth, but my level of caring is definitely low enough right now that I’ll do it.

Sooooo here goes…

Ok, it’s sweet. And the sweetness cuts some of the “weird”, but it’s still there. It almost like… a green branch taste?? Actually, I wonder if what it’s reminding me of is apple tree cuttings. My mom would prune the apple trees in our yard in the spring, and when the cuttings were still supple (and we were young), my sister and I would sometimes take them and strip off the bark to reach green fibrous tissue underneath. Beneath that was the wood, which we’d then use as, say, walking sticks for our Barbies (which often went camping in the garden). My plant brain isn’t working tonight; I should know what those two parts are, oh well. So yeah, the green fibrous stuff would get under our fingernails, and I probably chewed on the branch to get it off sometimes. I think that’s the flavour I’m tasting. Makes a bit of sense, really, given that these are buds.

Gotta say though, even knowing that, this tea is still weird. It’s not bad, but… I don’t think it’s one for me. I will say that it’s grown on me through drinking this cup, and I’ll probably go for another couple infusions, but still, it’s weird :P (Side note: I can taste the “tea” flavour lightly at the end of the sip, which is nice, but not enough for me.)

ETA: Yeah, it’s two days later and wanted to clear out my infuser so I could drink some green teas, but couldn’t bear to throw these once-used buds out… so gave it another shot.

Second infusion (boiling/4min): The buds seem to have lost some of their “weird” smell and smell much sweeter, with a background of “tea”. Yep, I’m very descriptive tonight. The steeped tea smells more like a sweet white tea now, which is much more appealing. The taste is definitely similar to the previous, but with the aforementioned switch from predominantly weird to predominantly sweet and white-tea-like. I think I’ve finally figured out part of what I’m tasting though – this tea is peppery. Like steeped black pepper, but only a touch, which comes with a light zing. I actually like this particular infusion. I wonder if perhaps I should have just rinsed the leaves a bit longer in the beginning. I really need to look up proper rinsing technique. I also almost want to say that I’m almost tasting juniper. Both the pepperiness and juniper would have been present in that first infusion, just unidentified. Based on this infusion alone, I’m bumping the rating; perhaps this is not my cup of tea, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Third infusion (boiling/4min):
After this infusion was finished, I smelled the wet buds and got that intense “weird” aroma again, and was quite worried that this cup would be back to a flavour I don’t like. Luckily, not true. It’s very much like a lighter version of infusion 2. Pleasant lingering white tea aftertaste, delicious sweetness. I should have also mentioned that there’s no hint whatsoever of astringency or bitterness.

So, it looks like perhaps I just need to begin with a longer first rinse for this tea, or maybe steep it for a couple minutes and discard that infusion, to let the strange flavours weaken a bit. This ended up being quite an interesting experience, as it turned out! Glad I only bought the budset sampler though :)

ETA again: Another quick note – the sweetness in this tea lingers like that from fennel/anise/licorice. I seem to dislike that, so I suppose that’s another unappealing factor for me.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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72
drank Yunnan Golden Buds by Verdant Tea
2276 tasting notes

Hmm, black tea at 10:30pm? Why not. I have a ton of stuff to do before tomorrow anyhow.

I got this one as part of the budset sampler (and also as a sample, because I’m rather dimwitted and asked for it without realizing I’d be receiving it anyways). So, lots to try!

To be honest, the smell just screams “black tea” to me. It’s a familiar smell, but I can’t place it to anything other than “a black tea that I have tried previously”. shrugs There is a hint of sweetness though, so it does smell like a black tea I might enjoy.

Ok. Too hot. Will continue this later. First sip was good, though I can’t place anything. Definitely some astringency. But I’m not risking another now. Stay tuned.

First infusion: Oooh. Finally cool enough to drink, and I’m getting such a full-bodied flavour. Almost some hints of caramel… burnt caramel, perhaps. There’s definitely astringency, more than I would like, so I should go with a shorter infusion next time. It’s not bitter though. Hmm, what’s this like with additions… + cream, + a bit of agave … Ok, regretting the agave. The flavour, even with such a small bit, is overwhelming. Still a good cup, but anything special about the black tea is now kind of lost. Oh well, next time.

Second infusion, same parameters: Almost no smell?! Weird. Taste is very light. I’m not sure how this is supposed to go to 3? 4? infusions western-style. I think I’m done with two. Again, there’s sweetness. Less astringency. A little on the weak side for me though.

I’m not sure whether I’m still iffy on blacks because of too much on Monday, or if blacks just aren’t my thing (thinking a combination of the two), but this didn’t do it for me tonight. Not really disappointed. I did like the Laoshan Black, if I recall correctly, so should try that one again.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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97

Got my third/fourth Verdant order(s) today. I haven’t been into flavoured teas a lot lately, so it was perfect timing!

This is my first dragonwell, I think (or at least the first that I’ve drank knowing it was a dragonwell). I made sure to check the instructions on Verdant’s website before brewing this one up – so used a bit more than 1 tsp of leaf in my 1 cup infuser. The instructions recommended 1 minute of infusion, but I goofed and hit 1:30 the first time, and 2:15 the second (but you’ll see below that it wasn’t a problem).

First infusion (175F/1:30):
There’s not a lot of aroma; I didn’t really notice if there was one. Very light and sweet, definitely getting rock sugar with hints of vegetal.

Second infusion (172F/2:15):
Wow. Still so sweet! Sweetness is the predominant flavour I’m getting, maybe with a bit of nuttiness.

Third infusion (175F/4:45):
Sweet, but a bit of a different flavour. A bit of a green peas aftertaste.

I think I’d use a bit more leaf next time just to amp up the flavour a bit (it was VERY subtle), but this one’s very tasty. Azzrian, why don’t you give my parameters a try?? They seemed to work really well.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Yogini Undefined

This sounds quite lovely.

Kittenna

It is! Surprisingly less vegetal than I expected. Definitely need to try with more leaf though, so the flavour’s a little stronger.

Lynne-tea

That sounds delicious! I am now craving a naturally sweet tea.. mostly this one.

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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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