2831 Tasting Notes

79
drank Banana Nut Bread by DAVIDsTEA
2831 tasting notes

So I did a Bad Thing again today, and stopped in at DavidsTea after hitting the gym… because there were ~9 or so teas I hadn’t tried and was dying to! Soooo now I have six cups of tea sitting here to review (!!!!) and they’re all cold, because I got distracted by an hour long phone call with the boy! Hazards of longish-distance dating, I suppose! Good thing I like cold tea.

This one’s first up, and the only one I intentionally bought more than 10g of, because it’s so heavy. The aroma of the dry tea reminds me quite a bit of DT’s Carrot Cake (which I didn’t mind, unlike many people), so it’s kind of sweet-ish and nutty, and if I sniff hard I can pick out banana.

I would like to sincerely thank those people who’s tasting notes I read beforehand who warned me not to use a difficult-to-clean infuser basket because wow, does this tea ever make a sticky mess! I used my ForLife all-metal filter, which is so much easier to clean than my Finum baskets. This tea brews up to quite a light colour, which I wasn’t really expecting, and the aroma is kind of banana-y (although it’s cold, so that might be unfair).

The flavour is quite sweet, nutty, and definitely banana-y. It’s also quite smooth (I’d attribute that to the banana) and if I try, I can imagine that I’m drinking a liquefied piece of banana bread. So overall, I think this tea is pretty successful! Unfortunately (well, kind of fortunately, I suppose!), I’m not the biggest fan of banana bread, so although I’m enjoying this cup, it’s not a tea I’d purchase again. I’ll enjoy the second cup that the rest of my 20g gives me (I was heavy on the leaf and made a larger-than-8oz cup). Also, I am getting just a bit of a chemically flavour from the tea. Not too strong, and not uncommon, but it is there.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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84

Ummm… so for the first time, I’m guilty of not remembering who gave me this tea! I think it was Indigobloom? But there’s a small chance it was Sil. Thanks, whoever! :D

Anyways! Felt like a pick-me-up this morning, and some black teas seem to upset my stomach a bit (or at least the thought of drinking anything astringent/bitter is offputting), and I saw this baggie sitting around and figured, why not! I’m having a lazy morning inputting work data at home after an AMAZING night last night seeing Wicked (OMG!!!) with the boy.

I only saw gongfu-style instructions for this tea on Verdant’s website, so opted to go with a slightly modified version. I used my whole little baggie of leaves (so maybe 3 or so grams) with probably a bit less than 8 oz. water, and bumped up the infusion times a little from the recommended 10 seconds.

First infusion (20s, somewhere near boiling): I’ve not had much success with the darker oolongs from Verdant, so wasn’t sure what this first infusion would leave me with. The wet leaves in the brew basket smelled quite strong and almost burnt, so I was a bit worried! Luckily, however, for no reason! If anything, this is a little weaker than I would have liked, but is an absolutely lovely oolong! A bit sweet, creamy, and characteristically woody. Quite delicious!

Second infusion (15s, approx boiling): Unfortunately I didn’t save any of the first infusion to test this one against, but it tastes similar, only perhaps a bit stronger, more creamy and flavourful. There’s perhaps a bit more creamy honey sweetness this time.

Hopefully I get to a few more infusions later in the day! I think I’ll try 30 or 45s next to see what I can coax out of these leaves.

Thanks again, sample-giver! :P

ETA: Third infusion (near-boiling, 45 seconds) – I’m drinking this one cold, and got a interesting chocolatey flavour from it. Pretty tasty. Fourth infusion (near-boiling, 1 min) isn’t that great to me. Perhaps it needs a longer infusion. Nice oolong aftertaste, but the rest is rather lacking.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Indigobloom

I know this is in my cupboard, not sure if it’s in Sil’s. Love this one!

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72

Thanks to Della Terra Teas for a generous sample of this tea! It’s absolutely loaded with coconut, which got me pretty excited – hoping it tastes as good as I expect!

Although this tea contains almond, I wasn’t expecting the aroma that I got when opening the bag, which was very amaretto-y/sweet, like marzipan. I was anticipating more of a nutty aroma. Steeped, the tea smells quite similar. At this point I was pretty worried that it would just taste much like DavidsTea’s Amaretto, which I just gave away to my now ex-roommate as it really wasn’t a favourite. However, the coconut and the black tea base really transform the amaretto flavour into tasting much more like a macaroon. I almost feel as if the black base here tastes more like a dark oolong, solid and a bit bakey, which works perfectly. At three minutes, there’s not a hint of astringency or bitterness. The coconut adds a significant dose of amazing creaminess – probably the most deliciously coconutty tea I have tried!

The only downside is that I used 1.5 tsp for about an 8 oz. cup and kind of wish the tea would be a bit stronger – I suspect I’m finding it a touch weak simply because much of the volume is taken up by coconut, which adds creaminess but not a lot of depth, a quality provided moreso by the black tea. Might try a longer infusion or more tea next time, since I have at least enough tea for 4 or so more cups!

ETA: Re-steep in less water (5 min, near boiling) isn’t great. Kind of creamy, a bit chocolatey. Not even much almond. Definitely wouldn’t hold up to a third.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Sil

I’m finding this to be the case with a lot of the della terra teas. Really enjoy the flavours but they’re muted…not as strong as I would really love.

Kittenna

I have one other from them to try, a pumpkin one. I now have like 4 different pumpkin teas to compare, lol. One from Butiki, DT, Della Terra, and iHeartTeas. We’ll see how it holds up. Perhaps an exp’t for tonight (or a cooler day…)

Sil

Let me know heh

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93
drank Checkmate by DAVIDsTEA
2831 tasting notes

Another office tea I haven’t had in ages. Mmmmmm, delicious!! I frequently forget how much I actually really love this one. It’s still a great substitute for a specialty coffee drink without all the calories, in my opinion!

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec
Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl

mmm, I love Check Mate! I have just one teaspoon left and it’s been sitting in my stash untouched until I decide to do a DT order. Then I can drink it.

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100

Haven’t had office tea in ages! But it’s time for some computer work, so lucky me :) I think I oversteeped this one a little today, but it was still pretty tasty. I’m so spoiled now at home with a thermometer and filtered water! Yum! I had better get tea-drinking if I want to be able to justify going out and picking up the 10+ new teas from DT that I have yet to try!

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec

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62
drank Golden Stars by Butiki Teas
2831 tasting notes

Crazy. Three teas I’m the first to review! Perhaps I should see which others I can be first at reviewing, too! :P

This tea is composed of these adorable little stars that during steeping, swell up into mini flower-like things. So cute! It’s also nice and easy to measure out the appropriate amount, which is convenient.

I’m not getting much aroma from the tea, if anything just a bit of sweetness. The flavour is a sweet, light green tea, not really like any I’ve had before. The sweetness is kind of caramelly and delicious, which is quite nice, but the biggest bonus here is how incredibly smooth the tea is. No astringency or bitterness at all. Unfortunately, I’m tasting just a touch of what’s coming off as soapiness here; it shouldn’t be the cup nor the infuser, as the infuser previously held Spring Twist and was not washed with soap in between, likewise with the cup. It’s not terribly strong though. I do wish the tea was a bit stronger, so next time will probably try 7 stars instead of 5 in my ~8-10 oz. cup.

Definitely a tea with potential, but it has no chance against the two Butiki oolongs I tried recently, which were amazing.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Butiki Teas

Is the soapiness the “lemon” notes? Or is that something else?

CHAroma

Ooh, what were the amazing oolongs you tried?

Kittenna

Oops, Stacy I had missed your comment! I’m not sure as to soapiness vs. lemon, I’ll try to check next time.

For sure the Gui Fei Oolong, and I honestly can’t remember which other…

Kittenna

It looks like the other was Sparrow Tongue. I was pretty sure, but not certain. They’re good! Gui Fei tastes like ice wine to me if steeped strongly and for a long time!

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89

Woah, another Butiki tea that I’m the first at reviewing?! Strange!

Anyhow, in the mood for an oolong tonight. Had some fun making rice krispie squares with the boy tonight (oh, what an adventure! He topped them with not only M&Ms, but butterscotch chips, and then chocolate “drizzle” (AKA blobs). And somewhere in there we thought it would a good idea to put the squares under the broiler to melt the butterscotch chips, and ended up toasting the whole thing… oh boy!) and now am trying to pack quickly for our weekend at “the cottage”! Hopefully fun! Either way, it all meant I wanted an oolong. Yep.

Sorry Stacy – I completely forgot about the updated brew parameters you sent me, so just went with what was on the bag (I tested it though and definitely didn’t screw up, so no worries)! Anyways, in the bag, this smells fairly nondescript. By aroma I probably would have thought it was a vegetal green, or green oolong.

Brewed up, there’s a bit of a sweetish smell, no, more than a bit, and it’s also a bit oolongy. A little green, a little toasty.

The flavour of this one though? AMAZING, GUYS! Rich and honey-sweet, with perhaps a hint of toastiness, yet a green oolong sort of quality to it too. It reminds me of the Gui Fei Oolong I had from Butiki a couple days back, at least in terms of the type of sweetness, but it’s lighter here, and the woody dark oolong flavour is notably absent. This is another one, though, where I’m nearly at the bottom of my cup before even finishing my review, which is a very good sign. At a four minute infusion, there’s just a hint of an astringent, drying characteristic at the end of the sip, enough to make me contemplate trying a slightly shorter infusion, although if it were to cost me in sweetness, it wouldn’t be worth it.

Anyways! I’m no oolong expert or anything, but this one’s another delicious, no-fuss oolong, in my opinion. While Verdant’s darker oolongs are definitely amazing, I find them to be a touch more finicky when brewing, which is not a problem here.

Also to note: I probably used more than the 1 tsp of tea recommended here. Probably closer to 1.5 tsp. So, fewer cups from the small bag, but that’s ok. Still far cheaper than a beverage from Starbucks, or Tim Hortons, even!

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

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42

Er…. so when I pulled the infuser basket out of this one, the aroma I got made me think of tomato. Like, tomato soup. Or V8 juice. Very strange. It makes me quite apprehensive to try this tea…

Circumstances resulted in this tea completely cooling before I got to try it, oops. It still smells like a herby, brothy tomato soup. So strange. The flavour is… like sweet-ish, herby tomato water. Uh oh got this impression in my head and it won’t go away! I can recognize some cinnamon in the flavour, but that’s about all that I can pick out.

Oh man. Totally just realized that it smells vaguely like autoclaved contaminated LB medium (for those of you in sciencey fields)! Combined with V8-containing media that was used in a lab down the hall from mine once upon a time. That was not a good association to have made. I think I’m doomed with this cup. I did drink it; it’s palatable, but not a tea I think I’d want to drink again. I see it has been discontinued though, so I guess people won’t be drinking it again!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more
Bonnie

oops I just think this is a funny review though

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Weeeeiiiiirrrrrd! I have never heard anything like that about this tea! I think you may have doomed yourself mentally or something :)

Tomato? So strange…haha.

PatchworkSheep

Just had tomato soup for lunch, and this made me laugh.

Kittenna

Seriously, yeah, this was weird! I smelled the infuser basket this evening before tossing the leaves (yeah, I just couldn’t try again), and I mostly smelled cinnamon this time, along with a few other flavours. No tomato. I still have some of my sample left, so will see what that does at some point!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Hmm, that’s the most confusing thing I’ve ever heard of, actually. haha.
Do the dry leaves smell at all like tomato to you?
…maybe you unknowingly used a dirty contaminated soup bowl instead of a mug ;)

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Did you ever end up trying this again?

Kittenna

I have not, but I do plan to at some point! I’ll try to get to it sooner rather than later if I can…!

CupofTree

you know what? I just tried my sample of this and without reading your review first, I immediately was reminded of sweet potatoes. and I didn’t like it.

Kittenna

Yeah, something just wasn’t right for me either. What I really need is to have someone brew this and give it to me without me knowing what it is, to see if I get the same impression the second time.

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80

I was a bit skeptical of the five minute infusion time with this one, but went with it… hopefully it won’t bite me! I used ~1.5tsp in ~8oz. water. The aroma is of a light, creamy-ish chai. Of course, I have the second infusion of the potent Coconut Chai from Zhena’s Gypsy Tea sitting next to me, so it’s difficult to say if it’s truly a light aroma, or just comparatively.

First impression is that this is quite a light chai, perhaps ever watery. However, the spices kick in a bit after the initial sip to help things along. I can definitely taste the creaminess in the tea, whether from the coconut or flavouring, and it’s enjoyable. I must say, this tea is growing on me the more I sip it. It definitely doesn’t need milk or sweetener (I don’t think it would hold up to milk, personally), and that’s a big plus in my book.

Overall, it’s a reasonable chai, and I’m happy enough to be drinking it, but especially after the other aforementioned chai incarnation, it probably won’t win a spot in my tea cupboard (and by cupboard we mean assorted collection of cardboard boxes stashed under my desk so the boyfriend doesn’t think I’m a total crazy!)

I’m wishing that I had ordered the mate or rooibos version of this tea, just for curiousity. However, I did not, and I’m on an indefinite tea-purchase hiatus since I have not been drinking much tea at all lately, and may not do so until this darn Masters degree has been completed.

ETA: Drank the rest after it had cooled, and this is not a weak chai, for sure! Not super strong, but definitely has a spicy kick. I read the other reviews, and can see where the coconut isn’t outstandingly obvious, however I do believe that the creaminess in this tea that makes it drinkable without sweetener/milk is in part due to the coconut. I could be wrong, but I don’t drink too many chais straight as I find the spices simply too overwhelming, with a base that’s too astringent. Not a problem, here!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Good to hear. Before the coconut was blended earlier and now it’s added right before shipping which would make the tea creamier than when I tasted it and also less clove heavy.

Kittenna

Yeah, I was reading your post – I’m not sure whether I would have received pre-blended stuff or had it added right before shipping; I’ve had this tea for at least a week, and it spent about a week in transit from Azzrian to me. Either way, I think it would only be better with a coconuttier flavour. Like the coconut pouchong type of coconut flavour, plus chai spicing. Yummy!

Bonnie

I think so too. It’s hard to find a good coconut chai if not almost impossible so far. I hope that this gets worked on till it’s perfected.

Whispering Pines Tea Company

I finished perfecting it yesterday guys :)
I’d also VERY VERY VERY much recommend the mate and rooibos versions. Cheers!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

And as a side note – it is now VERY coconutty :D

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90
drank Birthday Cake by DAVIDsTEA
2831 tasting notes

Absolutely delicious. My roommate (who is leaving me in two days :( ) wanted to have tea with me tonight, so I was scouring my rooibos/honeybush blends and came across this one. Too precious to let her have a cup of it, but I had some myself (she had Alpine Punch and loved it, so I don’t feel bad!)

Why on earth do I have this rated so low?! Dessert in low-cal beverage form!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 30 sec
Sil

gross gross gross gross gross :P

Helena

oh don’t worry Sil I’ll drink yours :D

Sil

Helena – thankfully i only got a small sample from Indigobloom. you can have all of the rest of mine..it’s at the store waiting to be brought home grin

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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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