2494 Tasting Notes

71

The fourth and final Dr. Who-themed tea for tonight (my bladder just can’t take any more). The aroma is fairly chocolatey, which is quite present in the flavour as well. I can also taste the distinct flavour of rooibos, though it’s not the objectionable medicinal flavour, just that characteristic woody/herbal-ness, which is bearable. This tea actually tastes much like a chocolate rooibos I’ve had previously… I’m thinking the one from the Amoda box, but I could be wrong (I could probably confirm that if I was less lazy, because I know I still have that one around). It has a bit more body to it though (probably the black). What’s odd is that the chocolate comes through as almost bitter – I’m probably influenced by noticing the documented flavours before pulling up the review screen, but it’s certainly not the milk chocolate flavour that most teas seem to aim for. It’s not unpleasant, though.

Upon looking up the tea ingredients – I think almond might account for that flavour that’s coming off as bitterness to me, and there’s surprisingly not much chocolate in here given the number of chocolate-related ingredients. Ah well. Not overly enamoured by this blend, but it’s not bad. I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy it more sans rooibos. Thanks Sil!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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73
drank Nina's Paris by Nina's Paris
2494 tasting notes

Sipdown! 981. Apparently I had misplaced one of my Nina’s samples generously sent quite a while back by Laurent (very belated thanks!) and since it was both an easy sipdown AND in a baggie, it was an easy choice for tonight when I found it.

Upon opening the package, a delicious juicy aroma filled my nostrils… surprising, considering both age and packaging. By that aroma, if I’d had to guess, I would have assumed it was some version of a red fruits tea. Looks like I’d be incorrect though, and would have figured that out once I took a sip, since orange is definitely the most dominant flavour here, along with a bit of smokiness and additional fruitiness to round things out. Although a bit more muted, the orange reminds me of the orange flavour in Butiki’s Two Friends – and I really quite enjoy that flavouring. (I miss the chocolate though, haha.) Overall, it’s a pretty good blend – a fruity, possibly smoky (this could be contamination) tea, and I feel like it could be great iced, although I’ll probably never end up trying it that way.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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75

Another delicious yum-smelling tea, a bit like caramel and vanilla. That’s kind of what I’m tasting too – kind of a caramel vanilla black. I was expecting a bit of fruitiness from the… fruit chunks (apple?) but am not really detecting anything. I see that this is supposed to be coconut-vanilla-apple (which sounds fabulous!), so I’m wondering if spending time in a baggie zapped a bit of the flavour. Possible, though it’s still good. Nine has won out for me, when comparing these three blends though (which is funny, since I even steeped it incorrectly!) Thanks for sharing another one Sil!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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67

Another thanks to Sil for a sample! And again, I get to play the “what’s in this tea?” guessing game! This one is a lot less aromatic than “Nine”, but there’s still a little something peeking out that’s not quite straight tea. I’m tempted to say caramel, or perhaps even chestnut, again, but that’s not too likely. Other than that, though, it just tastes like black tea. A little mouth-drying (so a bit astringent), but not too bad, and that’s probably a result of again, the extra 45 seconds it got due to inattention (I try to be very strict with blacks).

Seeing that this is supposed to be a chocolate banana tea…. comes as a surprise. Maybe that caramelly flavour is actually chocolate. Or banana. It’s impossible to tell, really, because it doesn’t taste overly like either. I see that Sil also found it relatively flavourless, so maybe this was just a poorly flavoured or old batch. Or, maybe Adagio isn’t great at banana or chocolate flavouring. Either way, I’d happily try this out again, since as a plain black tea it’s certainly not objectionable, but not by means of purchasing it myself (whereas some of the other blends…. yes.)

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

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76

Sipdown! 982. Thank you Sil! (I think there were a few teas accidentally missed in the count previously. And I need to add a Verdant and Butiki order. Plus the incoming 52teas’ Christmas sets. Crap crap crap.)

I took the time to look up all the teas I was steeping to check if any of them needed different parameters…. and then proceeded to steep the only one with green, with boiling water. Sigh. It doesn’t seem to be ruined though, but there is some bitterness and astringency, which I would definitely chalk up to user error. Anyhow! This is one of a few deliciously aromatic mugs I brewed up tonight, from the Doctor Who custom blends by Cara McGee. I genuinely have no idea what any of them are, so I get to play a little guessing game!! This one smells caramelly, with a hint of cinnamon or spice, but JUST a hint. The flavour is more or less the same, being thick and somewhat sweet/caramelly, fairly malty, a little bit spicy, and kind of astringent, which definitely impacts my tasting of the base teas. I assume, though, it’s Adagio’s standard black (and some sort of rolled green; I’d maybe guess gunpowder but I’m not detecting smoke). Despite the overly hot water, and 45 seconds longer infusion time than I intended, this is pretty good. I’d guess it’s a caramel spice tea (emphasis on caramel, not spice), but it appears to be chestnut and irish breakfast (with gunpowder?) Quite an interesting combination, but it does actually work. The chestnut must account for the sweetness, and the spice is perhaps an artefact of sample contamination or my imagination (I do have a Laoshan Chai a couple teas down the line).

Anyhow, I’m pretty impressed with this blend, and it makes me quite curious to try Adagio’s chestnut tea, if they have one available, because that caramelliness is gooooood. Thanks again Sil!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

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65
drank Genmacashew by 52teas
2494 tasting notes

Underwhelmed :( The aroma from the bag had that weirdness that all 52teas’ genmaichas have had since the reblends started tasting/smelling off – a chemically, almost chloriney sort of flavour that I am convinced is coming from the toasted rice. It’s possible to almost get past that while drinking the tea, but sadly, the remaining flavour is, IMO, far from cashew. It’s actually pretty floral (rose??), which strikes me as quite odd, and there’s maybe some nuttiness beneath that, but the floral is fairly powerful. On the plus side, it doesn’t taste like I’m drinking perfume, but it’s not at all what I was hoping for. Another miss in terms of it tasting like one would expect from a “genmacashew” tea, although if you’re fond of florals and don’t pick up that weird note I get, you might actually find this rather pleasant.

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

The name of this tea makes me think someone was trying to say genmaicha and then sneezed halfway through. Genma-ACHOO! LOL!

Kittenna

Hahahahaha :P I can see that!

Anlina

Yes! What is up with that rose flavour? I just don’t understand why it’s there or where it came from. And it’s not bad, but my expectations were set so completely differently for this tea that it threw me way off.

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79
drank Mocha Pecan Black by Design a Tea
2494 tasting notes

Thanks to Sil for a sample of this blend (and it looks like some thanking applies to Dexter as well, who appears to have been the original source of this deliciousness).

Anyhow, brewing this up as one of only a couple flavoured teas I have on the go tonight, ALL I could smell was its delicious aroma. OM NOM. If I had to guess, I’d guess Hazelnut Mocha, I think, by the aroma. Flavourwise, it is pretty impressive too. Quite decadent and lovely, very nutty (again, I’d guess hazelnut), and a bit chocolatey. Not really picking up coffee, but that’s not a problem whatsoever. Also not really tasting too much in the way of the base tea – I wish it was a bit more solid, because it does come off slightly watery in that sense, but the flavourings are nearly good enough to overcome that. I think, though, that for me to really love this tea, it would need a base change. I might try infusing the last bit of the tea that I have a bit longer (I’m always very cautious with black blends since I hate astringency) to see if it helps the base at all. Flavouring-wise, though, this is a solid 90 tea.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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80

Oops, a tea that was part of a group order quite a while ago that got lost in my mess of samples. Hoping it’s not contaminated!

By the aroma and flavour of the first sip, I would say it’s probably just fine. Both are quite roasty, and the flavour is a bit creamy as well, with that characteristic roasted oolong burnt flavour. It’s a touch light, but I’m sure spending a year in a tiny plastic baggie will do that to you. Still good though, but I’m ok not having purchased more, because it is (was?) rather expensive, IIRC. Similar to Verdant’s 10 Year Aged TGY, I think.

Happy to have tried it, though!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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91

Ah yes. Hardly shocking that I see I previously rated this quite highly. It’s still quite good (and now that I remember that it’s a leafhopper tea, the aroma I was detecting while I was brewing things up makes a lot more sense. I was pretty confused.)

Anyhow, this is a bit lighter than I would have liked this time, but I’m sure that’s either a) underleafing, b) underbrewing, or c) age, since it was in an opened sample pouch. However, it’s still quite good, with a roasty aroma, and that characteristic leafhopper sweetness in the sip (which I think comes off to me as the flavour resembling ice wine).

In other news… I think I am outdoing myself tonight. I had 11 (yes, 11) mugs/teacups filled with tea in them on my coffee table (some were resteeps, but 6 were new infusions), and because the last couple teas I drank were the perfect temperature and absolutely delicious, I downed them, and am doing so with this one too… I wonder how far I will get before my bladder protests? Also, I am clearly having a good tea night, since everything I’m drinking is wonderful so far (minus a couple oversteeped second infusions of greens. Those are tough.)

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
MissLena

This is still my favorite black tea :) I have an opened bag that I have been hoarding, I should probably get to it before it loses all its flavor!

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93
drank Pure Buds Black by Mandala Tea
2494 tasting notes

Ohhhhhhh wow. This is freaking amazing. SO sweet (I could smell the sweetness while it was brewing!), light, malty, a bit of chocolate, but SO MUCH sweet. But that perfect sort of delicious sweet that’s not cloying or anything, just really decadent. And the tea is so smooth, too. A serious treat. Agh. I envision a solid Mandala order in the future, because so far, I’ve been very impressed. I believe I’ve had varying teas from golden tips/buds before, but nothing like this. And I even oversteeped this, based on my typical parameters.

Thanks for sharing all these absolute gems with me, Sil!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec
Sil

glad you’re enjoying mandala teas heh i am a fan!

Cheri

This sounds really, really good.

Kittenna

To be honest, I was expecting something hay-y that I would be able to tell was good quality, but wouldn’t enjoy the profile of. I was quite wrong.

Sil

now i just have to get a few others your way kittenna…9$ shipping to canada is jokes when we split it. haha

Kittenna

I’m working on being ready for Black Friday 2015. HAHAHAHAHAHA. (But yes. OM NOM NOM.)

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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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