2606 Tasting Notes

87

Inspired by TeaEqualsBliss, I decided it was time to randomly choose some more teas from my box from LiberTeas! So this is the first of three teas… which I’m drinking while sitting through a series of wicked thunderstorms. (While I was on the bus home, there was a simultaneous crack of thunder/flash of lightning so loud that I thought perhaps we had been hit. It wasn’t us, but must have been extremely close. Scary. As I write this, downpour #3 is occurring. #1 had pea-sized hail; hoping that was all we’ll see of that…)

The only dragonwell I really remember having is Verdant’s, and I’m sure I’ve been spoiled by it, so I have to say that by contrast, the leaves of this tea look a little dull and broken. Luckily, as soon as they were in the water, I was getting a delicious fresh green, rock sugary scent that did make me think of the teas from Verdant, so all hope is not lost!

The flavour appears to be much the same as well, although perhaps not quite as strong. I’m pleased about this similarity in flavour, because that means that I Like Dragonwell. And now I want to run upstairs and grab any dragonwell samples I can find and see if they taste similar! I did just get one from Teavivre….

Anyways, to specifically describe the flavour, it is a little bit vegetal, with some rock sugar sweetness poking through. The sort of vegetal here (and in Verdant’s dragonwells) is almost a sort of crisp-cooked veggie, where some of the raw flavour has been cooked away, but it’s still crunchy. Snow peas or asparagus come to mind here, but it’s probably more the former as there isn’t a sulfury flavour or aroma. There’s only the barest hint of astringency here, and I’m only noticing it as I’m finishing the cup, so perhaps it’s because some little leafy pieces snuck through my brewing basket(?)

Mmmm, either way this is a good cup. I prefer Verdant’s version probably because it’s a little greener and sweeter, but this one is likely a good bit cheaper. Doesn’t matter for a while anyhow, because I have quite a bit from various sources to drink up before I even contemplate another purchase!

ETA: Second infusion (I have no idea of the parameters, whoops) was only consumed once cold, so it’s unfair to judge it (it wasn’t great). The leaves seemed pretty aromaless and spent afterward, so that’s as far as I went. I suspect the second infusion, drank in a more timely manner, would have been just fine, so I’d take this tea to two again next time.

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

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72

So the last 1.5 tsp of this one from Azzrian got the cold-brewing treatment today, since I happened to encounter it while poking around for teas to brew up and wasn’t the biggest fan of it hot. This one got the same treatment as Strawberry Pancake; 30 seconds in 82C water followed by dilution with cold water and being stuck in the fridge for about 7 hours. Half the water, though.

This one’s actually better than I expected! A nice refreshing, fruity green. I’m primarily picking up on mango flavours and maybe a bit of citrus (apparently neither flavour is in this blend… I could be convinced that I’m tasting peach, but have difficulty believing there’s watermelon or kiwi here). One plus is that the flavouring doesn’t taste so artificial as it does in some blends. Similar to Strawberry Pancake, there’s a bit of astringency here, but it’s not quite as bothersome. I wonder if the fact that it got 30s at 180F instead of the recommended 167F influenced that. The green tea here is coming off slightly seaweedy as well, but it’s pretty mild.

Anyhow, not too sad to see this one go, and I think cold-brewing it made it a bit tastier than I remember it being hot.

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

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84

So today was another disgustingly hot day (although not as hot in Guelph as Toronto, lucky me!), and the brief time I spent outside spurred me to attempt seven…. yes, seven cold-brewing experiments today! Clearly I’m not going to drink them all now (especially since most are in two-cup volumes), but I’m thirsty and felt like getting started.

First up is this one (all but one are 52teas… I was just in that kinda mood, and if I drink them down, I can buy more!! Right?)

Hot-brewed 1 slightly heaped tbsp of this in about 1/2 cup of ~82C water for 30 seconds, then topped up two cups with cold water and stuck it in the fridge for about 7(?) hours. I’m getting the lovely aroma even from the cold brew, so am pretty excited!

Ok, the flavour is not bad, but I don’t think my brewing method was great. I’m picking up on more astringency/bitterness than I’d really like (it’s not horrible, just tastes oversteeped), alongside the delicious strawberry flavour (which is more in the aftertaste, and definitely screams ‘added flavouring’ to me, not that I really care). The green tea is kind of masked by the astringency, but is somewhat seaweedy and nutty. Overall, it’s quite drinkable, but not a “success” in my books. No worries though, because this is one I enjoy hot anyhow! I just opted to cold-brew every 52teas packet I’d purchased that I thought appropriate (e.g. not Malted ChocoMate or Mayan Chocolate Chai), and so this one got it’s turn too. I’ll probably try this one again either with a straight cold brew or by cooling off a hot-brewed cup.

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

I was waffling on this one, and glad that I did, because your review sort of verifies why I was so unsure about it. I’m crazy and actually cold-brewed Malted Chocomate even though I figured it would be weird. It was… interesting!

Kittenna

Waffling on cold-brewing it? Yeah, I think it’s best as a hot tea, although it’s not the worst cold-brew I’ve had. Both 52teas Coconut Cream Pie and DavidsTea’s Buttered Rum were definitely harder to get down, the former because it just tasted like flavouring and the latter because it tasted really off.

Fjellrev

Actually, I was waffling on buying this one. I had a feeling it would have an odd aftertaste. As for the CCP and BR, I definitely prefer the former iced. BR is much better hot. Actually, I love CCP cold-brewed, and luckily didn’t have any problems with it.

Kittenna

Ahhh, gotcha :) Wasn’t sure what you meant! It definitely tastes of artificial flavouring, which I tolerate only because I like artificial strawberry looks guilty.

Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to try CCP just straight cold-brewed, and perhaps for longer. It wasn’t bad, while Buttered Rum tasted gross, which made me sad :(

Daniel Scott

You iced Buttered Rum? Hmm. It’s a good thing we have a word in the English language like “experiment” for choices like that. :P

Kidding around of course, but that’s interesting. I don’t think it would EVER have occurred to me to ice that one. Certain ones are just hot-only or cold-only in my head.

Fjellrev

Haha some artificial strawberry flavourings taste good to me too. While I like the idea of strawberry teas, I find it hard to find one that I like? I’ve even been hesitating to try the Strawberry Zabaglione. There’s a little chain here in Alberta called Steeps which makes a Chocolate Dipped Strawberry black, and it’s goooood, though.

Yeah I leave the CCP in the fridge for anywhere between 6-10 hours, and it’s been great every time. Iced, Buttered Rum was a disappointment for me too. So much weaker and flatter, somehow. Oh well, now we know!

Kittenna

@Daniel Scott – Hey, I wouldn’t have tried it if I hadn’t seen others doing it! I am a sheep, after all :P It really didn’t work for me though, so I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll notice I did feel that Malted ChocoMate and Mayan Choco Chai are meant to only be only hot teas. :D I can’t even envision them cold! I don’t think it would work.

@Incendiare – I was sent a small sample of Strawberry Zabaglione and at least my first attempt with it wasn’t as good as everyone else seems to say it is. No real loss for me though, because I’m not married to the idea of finding a good strawberry black. As for other good strawberry teas, Butiki’s Strawberry Oolong is good, although I personally don’t think that “strawberry” was the flavour I was getting. I feel like I have had good strawberry teas though… hmmm….

Also, I’ll try your CCP suggestion :D

Fjellrev

About the iced Malted Chocomate that I bravely tried. You know how you find many mates to have that banana flavour (I think it is you who experiences that)? For the first time, the Malted Chocomate took on a banana-y flavour for me when cold-steeped. It was weird. So you’re definitely not missing out haha.

Thanks for the Butiki suggestion! Strawberry Oolong sounds good.

Kittenna

Yeppers, it’s me who gets that banana flavour, with roasted mates at least! (Eeee, someone reads my tasting notes and actually remembers something?!) I think I will steer clear of icing that one, haha. Not that I mind that flavour, but if other people are getting it too, perhaps it ends up being quite a bit stronger, and that’s unnecessary!

I feel like I’ve had some other good strawberry teas too. I did like DavidsTea’s Strawberry White, although I’m not sure it was terribly strawberry-y… It’s funny, I’m completely blanking! If I think of others I’ll try to remember to mention them :P

CHAroma

I like this one best steeped at 175 degrees for 2.5 minutes. Haven’t tried cold brewing it, but I suspect I wouldn’t like it based on your experience.

Kittenna

The parameters above were just for the hot-steeping pre-treatment; I can’t recall what I normally use, but I should try with the above :)

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91
drank SoHo Blend by Harney & Sons
2606 tasting notes

Couldn’t play the guessing game for this one since the name kind of gives it away…. I think this is the last of my six Harney & Sons samples from Alphakitty – thanks!

Anyways, I brewed this one up prior to realize quite how much my cold was affecting me. I could smell a delicious chocolatey flavour in the brewed tea though, so hopefully I can at least taste a bit of it so it’s not a waste!

A further sniffing of my cup is giving me a strong association to Bounty bars! Yum! And by some sort of miracle, I can actually taste this flavour, too! This is fabulous! Seriously…. this is probably the first chocolate coconut tea I’ve had, and this is way better than I could have imagined! It’s like drinking a Bounty bar without the huge overdose of sugar! And I’m so thrilled that for whatever reason, I can actually taste it!!

Off-topic – I just received my second sample pack from Teavivre!!! It is absolutely jammed full! Crossing my fingers to get better soon more than ever (although I might cave and try something anyhow).

Back to the tea… with a four minute infusion, the black base here is not producing any astringency or bitterness, so I’d be tempted to increase the infusion time a touch to see if I can intensify the flavours at all, although this is pretty darn good as is. I’ll have to try a second infusion with the leaves – based on the success I had with the other three H&S flavoured blacks I’ve tried, I’m expecting at least one good additional infusion.

Soooo based on the success I’ve been having with H&S blends, I think my next swap(s) are going to be aimed at trying more of them! Out of the six I’ve tried, all were good, and I would probably purchase four of them… and that’s saying something! Thanks so much for passing along so many, Alphakitty! Next up are the rest of the samples you and everyone else has sent (and the new ones from Teavivre! Woooo!!)

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

This does taste like a candy bar, but without all the calories!

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I’ve had this sitting around for ages, so figured the “morning” would be a good time to try it. Still sick though, so this is probably not the best time to be drinking new teas…. oh well. Although my friend/office-mate raves about this tea and tells me that she absolutely loves to mix it with otherwise non-caffeinated herbals, I’ve been wary to try it as citrus flavoured blends and unroasted mates have not been appealing to me lately.

Anyhow! I got a nice refreshing lemony citrus aroma when removing the infuser basket from my mug, which smelled better than I was expecting.

Unfortunately, this cold is obviously influencing my ability to taste things right now. I can kind of taste the lemony flavour if I try, and I can tell that the mate has a flavour, but I can’t quite taste it, although I can perceive that the tea is pretty strong. This clearly isn’t a case of poor flavouring, but a case of stuffy nose. Sigh.

Oh well, a dud of a tasting note. I think I can see how this would work well with herbals though. Interested to try it when I can actually taste properly again!

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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95
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
2606 tasting notes

Read too many notes about chocolatey black teas tonight, so indulged with my second last cup of this. I’m hoping I can hold off on another Verdant order until I’ve finished a few more things…

Anyways, I used the same parameters as last time and it’s a delicious cup. A bit on the weak side because I think I used a bit too much water (or possibly a side effect of my current cold-like illness), but it’s still pretty tasty. Same deal with the second infusion, for 3 min. It looks like I may yet be a black tea convert!

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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84
drank Bangkok Blend by Harney & Sons
2606 tasting notes

Another winner in the cold-brewing experiments! As with Tokyo, I somewhat followed ScottTeaMan ’s suggestions and brewed 1 heaping tbsp in hot water for 30 seconds (I used 175F water) then poured that into a larger cup filled with cold/cool water, and it ended up brewing in the fridge for probably 36 or so hours.

The result was a creamy, lemongrassy brew with much less green tea flavour than Tokyo. Initially, I definitely preferred it as there was much more flavour, and the creaminess was quite delicious, however something I found interesting was that as the two teas warmed up, Tokyo became more delicious, and Bangkok started tasting a little funky. I’m not sure what it was. Not an off-flavour, more like a warmed-up-tea strangeness. So this is definitely one to finish off while it’s still cold, as I did really enjoy it that way, and Tokyo can be allowed to sit a bit longer if need be.

(It’s funny, I only even managed to discover this because I forced myself not to drink all the tea on the way to my destination and to save some for the way back… it was so good I wanted to drink it all right away!)

So this is another tea to add to the future purchase pile, and another ratings increase here as well.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Alphakitty

This is my favorite tea to drink cold!

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89
drank Tokyo by Harney & Sons
2606 tasting notes

I almost forgot to log this today!! Whoops.

So I have to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has been talking about icing/cold-steeping Tokyo and Bangkok, because I tried both today and they were absolutely wonderful, probably the best cold-steeped teas I’ve had yet!

I somewhat followed ScottTeaMan ’s suggestions and brewed 1 heaping tbsp in hot water for 30 seconds (I used 175F water) then poured that into a larger cup filled with cold/cool water, and it ended up brewing in the fridge for probably 36 or so hours.

The resulting brew was so delicious. Initially, the primary flavour I was getting was a seaweedy green tea, which I liked well enough, especially as it was followed by a lovely caramelly aftertaste. As the tea started to warm up a bit (I brought it on my 3 hour drive to get the Absolute Last Batch of Asparagus today), the sesame appeared and the caramel flavour intensified a bit. Truly, it was lovely, and there were no off-flavours.

I may need to acquire some more of this in the near future. I definitely need to raise the rating; this was so much better cold-brewed than it was hot, although it wasn’t bad hot either. Yay for a cold-brewing success!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Alphakitty

I haven’t tried cold-brewing this one yet but my tea pitcher is currently empty so I might try it tonight, sounds delish!

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71
drank Apricot Guayusa by Butiki Teas
2606 tasting notes

The smell reminds me of pu’erh, not that I’m terribly experienced with them however! I think it’s mostly an earthiness that I’m getting, along with a bit of fruitiness.

The flavour unfortunately just isn’t doing it for me. All I’m getting is an earthy sort of taste with a touch of sweetness and maybe a suggestion of fruit, which I’m not finding terribly appealing. Ok… a few more sips in and the sweet fruity flavour has intensified a bit and I’m finding it more pleasant, and less earthy. I should temper all this with the fact that I do have a cold and although I can still taste things, it’s entirely possibly that things are a little wonky.

Anyways, I think I have one more guayasa in my stash to try (also from Butiki), but it may just be that guayasa is not for me. Perhaps a bit mixed into a different herbal tea would work better for me if this actually gives me a caffeine kick (kiiind of hoping not, since it’s 10:30pm), but I’ll try that later. I think I might prefer the flavouring in this one to the only other guayasa I’ve tried, DavidsTea’s Jungle Ju Ju, but neither is something I’m likely ever to crave.

ETA: I removed my rating from this, because it’s probably not fair to judge this tea since I appear to not be fond of guayasa itself. Personally, I’d give it a rating of 63, but for people who do enjoy guayasa I imagine that this is a fabulously flavoured version of it more deserving of a rating in the 80s.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 6 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

I think this is best in the morning when well! Get better!

Kittenna

Thanks :) Starting to worry I have strep throat or something, but hopefully not.

Alphakitty

Get well soon! Hopefully you don’t have strep throat, it’s so awful, but at least tea is one of the best things for.

Indigobloom

Oh no, get well soon!!

Missy

I’d send chicken soup but I’m afraid it wouldn’t make the trip like tea can. Hope you kick this bug soon. Take care.

Lynne-tea

Ohh no! You need a mighty strong tea to kick the cold! I hope you feel better soon

CHAroma

Sorry to hear you’re feeling under the weather. Hope you feel better soon!

Kittenna

Thanks – I’m still sick (seriously?!) but I think I’m finally on the mend. I’m just really thankful that I haven’t a) lost my voice or b) lost my sense of smell, both of which used to happen with stunning regularity a few years ago whenever I fell ill.

CHAroma

Maybe you need antibiotics or something?

Missy

Perhaps it’s stress that’s keeping a full recovery from you. You need a spa day!

Kittenna

Pretty sure it’s just that I’ve had to work through being sick because my experiments demanded it, and the work days are quite long. Stress also (and that’s not going away anytime soon!) I’m hoping to take it easy again this weekend and hopefully by Monday I’ll be feeling close to 100% (or even 80% would be ok).

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89
drank The Earl of Lemon by DAVIDsTEA
2606 tasting notes

Not sure what sort of tea mood I was in tonight, because this one didn’t quite fit either. Also learned that 3 minutes makes for too strong of a bergamot flavour; I preferred it to be lighter and more subtle, allowing the white tea to shine a bit more.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 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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