2229 Tasting Notes

Super stressed and trying to write a paper that’s due in about 6h that I’m nowhere near complete… gah. Why do I always do this to myself.

Anyways, 6:30am, sounds like a good time for a tea break (also I need some caffeine. Fading really fast.) Time for another sample from Teavivre!

Getting quite a vegetal smell from this one – didn’t know what to expect as I haven’t tried a Dong Ding oolong before.

First infusion (3min/100C)
Smells like sweet boiled veggie. Taste is pretty strong, astringent without being drying. Probably should have gone with shorter infusions but that wasn’t happening tonight… er, this morning.

Second infusion (3min/100C)
Definitely less aroma. Also less flavour, and possibly a strange taste coming out that I’m not sure I like.

Hmm, so I’m not sure that Dong Ding oolongs are for me. This certainly isn’t bad, but it tastes to me like more of a green tea – I’m not getting that oolongy finish that I love. Also, I’m finding there’s too much astringency for me to really enjoy this, so I think I need to cut down the infusion times for the next packet, and perhaps try it when I have time to write a more detailed note!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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69
drank Love Tea #7 by DAVIDsTEA
2229 tasting notes

Backlogging from what I suppose would be yesterday (doesn’t feel like it since I’ve yet to sleep though!)

Not bad, definitely very fragrant this time, and it was pleasant enough, just not a) sweet enough, nor b) interesting enough. Put sugar and cream in and they quite overwhelmed it too, but perhaps I should have steeped longer. Oh well!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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90

WOW. I received the samples I had requested from Teavivre today, and I am blown away by their generosity! Samples of five different teas, each sample looking to be enough to brew 4 cups. I am so excited to get going on these!

My roommate has never tried a milk oolong (or straight oolong, for that matter) before, and requested we try this one first.

The dry tea definitely doesn’t smell as creamy as DavidsTea’s Quangzhou Milk Oolong, the only other one that I really have experience with, but it does smell good and a bit floral. I’ll have to take better notes next time; I’m not opening up a second packet just to write about how the dry tea smells (and I just don’t remember the details right now).

I used one packet in 250ml of water in my little steeper.

First infusion (~95C, ~2min)
Smells floral and orchidy, with perhaps a hint of creaminess. The taste is delicate and lightly floral, with just a touch of creaminess. I’m getting some vegetal classic “oolong flavour”, particularly lingering at the end of the sip, which is really tasty.

Second infusion (~96C, ~2min)
Mostly a fresh orchidy oolong smell this time. Really not getting any creaminess, just a touch of floral notes back by the delicious oolong flavour.

Third infusion (~96C, ~3min)
Very little aroma this time, and the taste is clean and a bit astringent. No creaminess and barely anything floral left, but still a good infusion because I can taste oolong! Actually, I’m getting a bit of something fruity or sweet in the finish as well. Yum.

Fourth infusion (~98C, ~3min)
Again, pretty much no aroma. The flavour is now somewhat like a fruity, astringent wood, but in the best possible way I can mean that! I’m actually getting a bit of a resurgence of creaminess although it’s a bit different this time. Perhaps buttery instead of creamy.

Probably could have gone for a fifth infusion, but I’m exhausted.

Overall, a good oolong, but the difference between this milk oolong and DT’s is quite striking, so much so that I would have assumed that this one was just a regular tieguanyin. I’ll have to do some direct comparisons to really get my head around it. If I’m looking for a tea that’s very creamy though, I probably wouldn’t pick this one. Next time I plan to keep to stricter infusion times and temperatures, perhaps trying the boiling temperature that they recommend, as it seems people have had success with it? I also should mention that my tastebuds seemed a little off today, so that could account for flavours not tasting as they should as well.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

I agree that I get excited to taste the tea myself but sometimes the tastebuds don’t turn on. Good thing there’s more tea! I’m finding that I have to set time aside for really having a long peaceful space or the experiece falls short. I have 4 tea’s waiting for a review because I need to dedicate half a day to each one at least. This is a new way of thinking isn’t it!

Kittenna

Yes, that’s exactly it. I need to have a good hour minimum and peace and quiet to concentrate so I can really enjoy and think about the tea, and tonight I just can’t focus, and so many distractions were making me have trouble tasting the tea properly. I also have a backlog of teas that I need to take time with trying, and I just haven’t had as much time as I’d have liked lately!

Indigobloom

Ohmygoodness, how many teas sit untasted in my cupboard for that same reason… not just that, but I need it to be when nobody else is home. The fam just doesn’t understand lol

Uniquity

I feel terrible, but I hardly ever have the time required to sit down and properly savour my samples from Teavivre (and others!) I have tried three or four of them so far, but only have managed to log 3. It’s not that I’m ungrateful, I just seem to lead a busy life. Working full time, visiting with family, fitting in workouts and really dedicating myself to cooking and health in general leaves me pretty zonked. If I get time in the evening I tend to read and therefore don’t have the focus for a proper review. I usually only have time on weekends, but I tend to be visiting out of town family most weekends. Ah well!

TeaVivre

If you want a milk oolong tea with stronger milk flavor. I suggest you have a look of this Flavored Milk Oolong Tea:
http://www.teavivre.com/jin-xuan-tea-flavored/

Kittenna

TeaVivre – I’m not sure that I necessarily want a stronger milk flavour, I was just expecting it after my one experience with a milk oolong! The tea was lovely though, and I’m convinced that my tastebuds may be refusing to acknowledge some more complex flavours right now. I’ll probably put that flavoured oolong on my list for later though :)

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75

Alright, so here goes tea #2!!

I have to say, this tea smelled MUCH more promising when I opened up the bag! Tart blueberry was the main scent, and I definitely recognized it as blueberry! The tartness made me think of candy though, perhaps sour Warheads, or whatever those were called? Either way, it made my mouth water. Didn’t smell any hazelnut, but that’s ok.

This time, I did look into the teabag, and there was clearly some green tea (sencha??) in there, not too terribly broken up, and a bit of powderiness, which I’m going to attribute to lyophilized (hee) blueberry. And possibly hazelnut, but I’d think that might be added as an extract?

Steeped tea smells like tart, mouthwatering blueberry candy. Nom nom nom. Frankly, I don’t care if I can smell/taste hazelnut right now, cuz this smells good!

Unfortunately, drinking it is a bit of a letdown. I am greeted by a bit of a perfumey blueberry taste which makes me think… blueberry Jelly Belly, I think. There’s a nice green tea finish, which is enjoyable, but I’m just not digging the artificial fruit flavours. :( No hazelnut, either.

This one’s definitely better than my ‘Coconut Banana Oolong’, but again, after tasting DavidsTea’s White Tiger, where the blueberry flavour is just SO authentic (even if they did something to enhance it, I don’t really care), I am looking for that sort of flavour in blueberry teas. Tartness optional, but perfumey candy is not going to cut it anymore.

Might give another couple teas a shot, or order their Ice Wine tea (as someone, perhaps Azzrian? thought it was pretty good), but as of now, no plans to order larger quantities of any of “my own” blends.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Azzrian

really loved the ice wine from Design a Tea – more so than the other samples by far and more than another culinary’s.

Kittenna

I think, sometime in the distant future when I make it through all the teas currently headed my way, that I will order some from them. But right now I should be swamped! Once Canada Post starts being good.

Azzrian

Really wish it would get there NOW!

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58

I’m so excited to try some of “my own” blends! Let’s see how this one turns out…

The teas came in an envelope, which is fair enough given I paid $1 for shipping, but I was a bit worried that the tea had been crushed. Looking in the teabag, I didn’t check too closely to see if it was, but I did see a white powder on top of the tea… do they just plunk tea in a bag, plop on some powdered flavouring, and go?? I didn’t see any banana, but perhaps it was powderized freeze-dried banana.

I can’t really place the smell of the steeped tea. There’s a touch of fruitiness, but I wouldn’t say banana, and maybe an artificial coconut flavour, on top of a darker oolong base. Not particularly grabbing. Also, it smells…. musty. Not that I think this has been sitting somewhere for a really long while, it’s just a scent I’m picking up.

So here goes… Man, I wish I better knew what a darker oolong tasted like, because then I could better separate the flavours. I would have preferred a greener oolong (e.g. like in DavidsTea’s Banana Oolong), but knew that wasn’t what I was going to get. Anyways, I’m definitely tasting coconut, but it is kind of fakey tasting, and what I can taste of the banana is very subtle; there’s a bit more of it at the end of the sip. Likewise with the coconut. The tea is there in the background rounding out the flavour.

Overall, it’s not bad, but the white powder bothered me to begin with, and I wish the flavours were more authentic. The banana also isn’t strong enough for me (after knowing how delicious banana can be in tea). Might try a re-steep, but I highly doubt it will re-steep well.

Think I’ll try the other one tonight as well. Sleep? Psh…

(And guys, if you don’t ever hear from me again, please let someone know that this tea was the last thing I consumed! Particularly those of you that know my address :D:D)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Ninavampi

I can’t believe you are still awake! I just woke up!

Kittenna

sob I shouldn’t be. My sleep schedule is awful. AWFUL. I’m contemplating not going to bed tonight (yeah, cuz that always works well). Oh sorry, did I say tonight??? I guess 7:30am no longer counts as “night”…

Azzrian

LOL I cracked up but then again one never knows!

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93
drank Pumpkin Chai by DAVIDsTEA
2229 tasting notes

Fellow Steepsterites…. does anyone else find a strong resemblance between Pumpkin Chai and DT’s Glitter & Gold? It just occurred to me when I opened up the bag tonight, and the smell was familiar, and I realized it smelled exactly like Glitter & Gold! Which is fine, because I love G&G! (It just means I don’t have to worry about Pumpkin Chai being seasonal!)

And yes, I’ll admit that there are some different flavours going on here, perhaps a bit of pumpkiny goodness, but predominantly I’m tasting a warm cinnamon black tea. Less sweet than G&G.

I’ll have to compare the two together, which will take a while since I shuttled G&G back to work after swapping and have none here, but… I’m interested to know if I’m alone in this!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Azzrian

All I know is I know how much you LOVE G and G so if you found another like it I am happy for ya!

Ptkelo

Pumpkin Chai was made permanent.

Kittenna

I was wondering about that. I prefer Glitter & Gold though, so probably won’t hang onto both, but I like having two options for the same warm cinnamony black tea!

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93
drank Checkmate by DAVIDsTEA
2229 tasting notes

I think I might be losing my love of this one. Or, I brewed it incorrectly. Either way, wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great, and I really think a fruity iced tea would have done me better. Oh well!

Settled down for an evening in the basement of the campus library… keep seeing Steepster messages but am not allowed to putz about on here and reply until this paper is quite a bit closer to completion!

Also, I got my Design a Tea samples in the mail today! Exciting! Going to try them once I make it home. Blueberry Hazelnut Oolong & Coconut Banana Green (I think). Of course, they’re from Buffalo NY, which is literally like 2 hours away, so a week to get here does not make me hopeful for everything else I’m waiting for. Sigh…

Preparation
4 min, 15 sec

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91

I was craving another tea this evening (in addition to Jasmine Pearls, Cherry Blossom, and Dulce & Banana), but was feeling exceptionally picky. No oolongs (I’m a little oolonged out right now), it’s about 5am so a black would also not be a good idea, I’m not in the mood for tart, nor rooibos… finally settled on a fruity green, Daydreamer. Until I flipped through my newly organized tea stash and came across Super Chocolate! Yes, this is what I’m craving! A hit of chocolate, some fruitiness, and not a ton of caffeine.

Ahhh, and it delivers. This is just what I wanted. Chocolatey in that fruity sort of way, and without much tea in the background. I have to up my rating on this one… I have yet to find anything else like it, and this is not the first time I’ve craved it. I think it will actually go on my to-purchase list along with Dulce & Banana…

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec

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92
drank Dulce & Banana by DAVIDsTEA
2229 tasting notes

Trying this one again :D

I think it’s not quite so caramelly today, but I do still like it. Very soothing and like a light dessert.

Today’s second steep is kind of watery – either I didn’t steep it long enough or used too much water. Might throw it out – it tastes a little icky. I figured out that the taste I dislike is kind of chloriney, so if it’s masked it’s ok, and if not then I’m not a fan. And I think the chloriney taste comes out in weaker infusions more prominently. Might try a longer third infusion later.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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84

In the mood for sweet, light teas tonight, so this was perfect! This tea (and the other Numi flowering teas I have) is from a boxed set of 9 samples given to me a few years ago, so I was a bit wary about how things may have held up. It appears my worries were unfounded though, at least with this tea!

I had previously (shortly before joining Steepster, I think) used up half of the packet of these cute little Jasmine Pearls for a cup of tea, so used the other half today. Although I assumed that I was supposed to use the entire packet in one go, I definitely don’t think the flavour is lacking, so it’s nice that I was able to spread them out over two cups!

The flavour of the tea pretty much smells like jasmine, and gives me serious cravings for my favourite chinese restaurant back home, and their hot and sour soup, chicken chow mein, mixed veggies…. drool Taste-wise, that’s exactly what it is. A nice, light jasmine. No fooling around, nothing funny going on here, it’s simply a jasmine tea. There’s something to be said for simplicity, when one’s tastebuds are tired of trying to tease flavours out from other teas!

I don’t have a ton of experience with jasmines (aside from in the aforementioned chinese restaurant), so I have no idea how this compares to any others, but I would certainly pick it up again if I wanted a dependable jasmine green tea. Of course, I’m likely to try others first, but this one is pretty good.

(Side note: the instructions that came with the box of Numi teas indicate that all the teas included (greens, blacks, and whites) should be steeped with boiling water. I disagreed, so steeped this one somewhere below boiling, although I didn’t record the temperature. I’m perfectly happy with it, and suspect I might have ruined it using boiling water.)

ETA: Second steep, ~4-5 min, is good but weak.

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec
Kashyap

yeah…I generally recommend ignoring most ‘brewing directions’ that most ‘store’ bought teas or tea companies come with…they appeal to a general public that isn’t familiar with the range of brewing parameters and they also have to keep themselves distinct and so the simplifying process leaves nuance out. I always play with my instincts with a new tea or default to a tea industry standard cupping of 3g in 6oz water and vary temp with type of tea….I find that with pearls they work really well with about 190 degree on the first steep and cooler-longer steeps to follow. I would also bear in mind jasmine flavor is strong and is volatile and will weaken over time and green tea has a shelf life of ideally 6 months…it was probably weak due to age.

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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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