2661 Tasting Notes

92

Fun experiment time, tonight. I’ve been dying for oolongs lately, and massively craving Verdant’s, but have had other teas I wanted to try, or not enough time, etc. etc… Anyhow, tonight I thought I’d finally compare the three tieguanyins I have received from Verdant – the 2011 Autumn, 2012 Spring (first harvest), and 2012 Spring (second harvest). I’m brewing them each up identically, using 1.5 tsp of leaf in 125mL water, with the leaves allowed to roam free in the cup before being strained out.

First infusion (208F/30s):
Light floral, buttery aroma. Green, floral taste. Very green aftertaste. Not too much oolong flavour, but it does leave a nice round, creamy taste in the mouth. I’m getting more oolong flavour from the spring harvests, but the differences are too subtle for me to pick up. Comparing it to the others, I think this is the least green and floral. It’s more subdued.

Second infusion (208F/30s):
Much like a lighter version of the first, in my opinion. More oolong flavour though, which was expected. Mmmmm. Caramel in the aftertaste, unlike the citrus of the spring harvests.

Overall: All three are delicious oolongs. My palate really isn’t developed enough to perceive differences though, at least the way I infused them (although I suspect that for my leaf:water ratio, a 30 second initial infusion was too long). Hoping I can go through another few infusions tomorrow, in which I will perhaps notice more differences!

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec
Indigobloom

I love caramel notes in green teas. So good!

SimpliciTEA

Great idea to brew up these teas that are from different harvests on the same day!

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89
drank Tokyo by Harney & Sons
2661 tasting notes

Five samples from Alphakitty tried today? Yup! Seriously guys, all I’ve done today is sit at home at the kitchen table, drinking tea and putzing about Steepster/watching How I Met Your Mother. Laziest awake day EVER.

I can taste a delicious green tea base (makes me think sencha, although I know it’s bancha) with just a bit of a seaweedy flavour, and hint of sesame. It’s a sweet blend, which works really well with this combination of flavours. I am getting a little bit of astringency, enough to make me reduce the infusion time by 30 seconds in the future.

I do agree that this is reminiscent of some Japanese sweets… and saying that, I’m positive I recently said that about some other tea! Will have to check and see which one. Like with the Bangkok Blend though, although I like this one and will enjoy finishing off my large sample, I can’t see myself purchasing it in the future. Flavoured greens don’t seem to be my thing, although citrus flavours are the biggest problem (the one exception is Den’s Sakura Sencha… now that one was good!)

Now if I recall correctly, this is another tea good for icing/cold-brewing, so once I get my act together to do some of that sort of thing, it’ll be close to the top of my list! Thanks for obliging me with a taste of this one, Alphakitty! Feels good to take a few things off my Steepster shopping list (AKA want-to-try list).

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Indigobloom

those are the best days! restores my sanity lol

SimpliciTEA

Totally agree.

ScottTeaMan

This is really good and it would be good iced too. :))

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89

Wow…. an 8-minute infusion when I meant to infuse for three. Good thing the instructions recommended 6?? Here’s hoping it’s not ruined :( The smell is pretty delicious, like a milk oolong.

Ahhh, not ruined, but definitely oversteeped, because there’s astringency here that would probably not be around otherwise. The flavour is quite vegetal and a bit sweet. Not really floral nor creamy. I’ve learned though, that an oversteeped oolong mushes all the yummy flavours into a big ball of mediocre, so this is definitely not a fair assessment of this tea. I’ll try harder to keep an eye on the time with the second infusion!

Thanks for the sample, Fong Mong Tea!

ETA: Second infusion (~4min/82C) is quite tasty. Light and oolongy, with some delicious creaminess. Very slight bit of astringency, so the first infusion was clearly a mistake, that I regret immensely. Luckily there’s enough in the packet for two infusions, so I’ll get a second chance later (probably once I make it through all of these!) I think I’ll have to do some big oolong comparison at some point though – I’m having trouble remembering from one sample to the next. I think this one might be akin to Teavivre’s unflavoured milk oolong… but I don’t really know! Either way, this is delicious. I love oolong :)

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 min or more

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87
drank Buccaneer by SerendipiTea
2661 tasting notes

So, learned tonight not to judge a book by its cover… or a tea by its appearance! Definitely had initially dismissed this one as just being a flavoured red rooibos… until I read about it about on here and got all intrigued! My bad!

Steeped, it smells slightly like rooibos, coconut, chocolate. Oh yum! I can taste the creaminess and sweetness, a suggestion of chocolate, and a hint of rooibos – but it’s not medicinal. This is actually a pretty good rooibos blend! Too bad there’s black tea in it too otherwise it would be great for the evening. Definitely like this one a lot more than I expected to :)

Thanks for sending me some of this, Missy & Dylan!

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

Yay! Glad you enjoyed it.

Scatterbrain

Oops, I meant that comment for Tokyo. Haha

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78

Another tea from Alphakitty, thank you!! Haha, I’m sure it’s almost always obvious when I have a swap package arrive, because I immediately dive right in and try a whole bunch of samples in a row :D In spite of having multiple samples from all my previous packages yet to try.

Steeped, this smells a lot like Creamy Nut Oolong from Teaopia. Perhaps I’m only making that association because I just drank some, but that’s definitely how it smells. And yes, I’m sure I didn’t switch cups or do something silly :) If I take the tea out of the chocolate-raspberry scented bag, it does have a sort of sugary, toasty aroma, similar to Creamy Nut.

The flavour is also somewhat similar, interestingly enough. I’m seriously a bit concerned that I did swap them, now, although this is not as sweet, and has a stronger nutty flavour that reminds me a teeny bit of genmaicha. So weird and unexpected! I think I prefer Teaopia’s version because it’s more caramelly and sweet but would drink either.

ETA: Just did a side-by-side comparison of the second infusion (170F/3min) of this one to the third of Creamy Nut. Definitely many of the same flavours; biggest differences are that Creamy Nut is sweeter and less toasty. I think Sugar Caramel may also have a better base oolong, but it’s not really fair to compare second and third infusions; I should really start both from scratch together. But that’s for another day. (Third infusion is getting a bit weak. Creamy Nut definitely lasts longer too.)

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

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63

I’d been dying to try some additional (other than Coconut Pouchong) Golden Moon teas for a while, and was super excited when Alphakitty not only had them in her cupboard, but was willing to pass some along! Yay! Problem solved (now let’s hope I don’t like them tooooooo too much, because they don’t ship to Canada IIRC, and that’s annoying!)

Strangely, I’m getting almost a fermenty/rotten melon scent from the tea, which started the instant I put the leaves into the water. Not quite what I was expecting. I thought perhaps there was some cross-contamination between the teas, but then I remembered how to box smelled deliciously like chocolate raspberry, so I highly doubt that was the case. (I just went back to the little baggie of tea and sniffed it, but alas, the baggie smells too much like choco-rasp to pick out the tea)!

The sip tastes much better. I’m getting more of an overripe cantaloupe sort of flavour, mixed with a hint of….. Play-Dough???? That’s an odd association. Only getting perhaps a hint of white tea at the end of the sip.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t order this tea for myself. It’s not bad, but there’s something a little off about it. I’m going to leave the rest of my sample to “air out” (I do it with all my swaps, improves them a lot!) and see if it is an intruding flavour, but I really don’t think so. Either way, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t prefer this over Butiki’s Cantaloupe and Cream, and there’s only room for one melon white tea in my cupboard!

Thanks for the sample, Alphakitty!

ETA: Second infusion, 160F/3min, is similar to the first. Still that overripe melon sort of flavour, with a really nice white tea flavour at the end. I really think I might have enjoyed it far more prior to Cantaloupe & Cream though. … sipping it more, the “overripeness” doesn’t really bother me all that much now.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

Oh my, you are a backlogging maniac! :)

Kittenna

Believe it or not, only three were really backlogs! The rest I’ve drank within the last couple hours :D I’m just a tea-drinking fiend!

teawade

this sounds super refreshing! minus the rotten melon scent of course. Thinking about giving this a try.

Kittenna

Honestly, I might have found this one more appealing had I not tried Butiki’s first. And it’s more of an overripe melon scent, to be fair. I’d recommend Butiki’s over this unless you’re already making a GM order.

Bonnie

Play Dough! I cracked up!

Alphakitty

I noticed that it smelled a little… different when I bagged it up. But I haven’t had any in over a month, so I was hoping it was just my nose being weird. It was the very bottom of the tin, so maybe that has something to do with it?

Kittenna

Strange, I have no idea. If you have any left you should give it a shot and let me know if it tastes different than usual to you :) It didn’t taste like it had gone “bad” to me, just like the flavouring wasn’t quite one that appealed to me.

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84
drank Bangkok Blend by Harney & Sons
2661 tasting notes

Another sample from Alphakitty!

This is definitely an interesting blend! I’m drinking it cool because I got distracted by a few things after it was brewed, so I will still need to try it hot (or at least warm). I can taste the lemongrass but it’s not overpowering, and there’s a coconutty sort of creaminess that lingers in the aftertaste along with the lemongrass. The base tea is quite present and tasty, which is great. I’m not sure what else is in here, but everything is really working quite well together. Although I like it (proof: cup finished while writing this review), I’m not sure it’s a tea I’d drink too frequently, so the very generous sample I received will probably do me for a while. That is, unless this is one of the ones that is fantastic iced (gah!! This is why I need Steepster! To check on such things!) Thanks again, Alphakitty!

ETA: Second infusion, 175F for 3 min, is pretty good too. Lemony and a bit less creamy. Lovely aftertaste. I should really get on that cold-brewing. I love that you sent me enough to experiment with, Alphakitty!!

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

Try it iced…….it is AWESOME!

Kittenna

Ok, this was one I’m supposed to try iced!! Will have to do that soon. Cold steep or hot then chill?

ScottTeaMan

I used 1 heaping TBSP for 18 0z. I did wash the leaves with 170-180* water for 30 seconds (just covering the leaves). Immediately filling my press with cold water and put in fridge for 12 hrs. I washed the leaves just to open them up. Cold brew.

Kittenna

Thanks! Hopefully I have time to try that tonight. I actually just recently read about the method of a quick hot steep followed by a longer cold brew and wanted to test it out :)

ScottTeaMan

If you like this hot, you’ll really like it cold. I only wish I made more. :))

Alphakitty

It’s definitely better cold brewed!

Kittenna

Sold. Cold-brewing imminent. Until I read fridge for 12 hours. Do you think 5 would be enough? Or ~24 too much??

ashmanra

Five might not be enough, but I don’t think 24 would hurt. There are a few teas I have left a really long time and they did okay, other than maybe getting a little cloudy if I didn’t put a pinch of baking soda to clear them. Mostly Assam blends do that, though.

Kittenna

I still haven’t brewed any real teas other than a couple whites, so am worried about astringency, but I suppose that 12 hours is already a pretty long time…!

ScottTeaMan

Some greens get bitter or astringent if left that long-this one would not. I found 12 hours to be quite enough.

ScottTeaMan

Bancha is a more mild green, so it will be good at 12 hours…….cold brew it while you sleep. :))

Kittenna

Haha, yes, I hope I remember to try this out tonight! Should also do a couple others the same way. However, my fridge is currently being completely overwhelmed by massive amounts of asparagus since I’m into my cooking trials (so not much room for other food or tea!)]

CHAroma

What’s this about washing the leaves before cold steeping?

Kittenna

Hmm, I definitely didn’t wash the leaves so much as leave them in hot water for 30 before adding said water to a larger volume of cold water, but I haven’t tried the results yet… ScottTeaMan??

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87
drank Cotton Candy Black Tea by 52teas
2661 tasting notes

I swear, Canada Post has made some really good changes! The last three packages I’ve received (ok, not the one from Fong Mong Teas) arrived in absolutely record time! Less than a week to receive my most recent swap, from Alphakitty (YAY!!!!) Which actually sucks, in a way, because my package is definitely going to take longer to arrive given that the estimated arrival was 6-12 business days.

Anyway! I cannot say enough good things about everyone I have swapped with. You’re all so ridiculously generous that even when I include a few extras, I am always WAY outdone! I mean, Alphakitty sent me little candies, and Azzrian sent me the cutest mini teacup EVER! To say nothing of the sheer number and size of samples!

Ok, so onto the tea. Steepster is still down, so I’m making a big list with these posts in a Word document. Probably good practice anyhow.

So yes. This came to me from the oh-so-generous Alphakitty, whose package from 52teas arrived just in the nick of time for her to include it! So excited, except I’m going to be mad if I like it because it’s unavailable.

The dry tea smells deliciously like cotton candy. Strangely, I’m not really getting that aroma from the cup – it’s more of a black tea with just a hint of sweetness. I definitely used enough tea, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

Ok, this is a bit of a letdown – I’m not tasting the cotton candy at all, really, except perhaps a bit in the aftertaste. The black tea base tastes ok (could be maltier IMO), but I’m so confused that I’m not really tasting anything else! I’ll have to read everyone’s reviews once Steepster is alive again, and see what I perhaps did wrong :( I should note that there’s just a teensy bit of astringency, so I don’t think a longer infusion would be wise for me.

Just tried with milk and sugar and I am liking the base tea blend, but still not really getting cotton candy. I really think Forest Berry Silver Needle was much more successful in that regard, as I swear it was strawberry cotton candy in a cup with a bit of white tea flavouring mixed in.

Oh well, no loss if this isn’t a tea for me, since I can’t purchase it anyhow! I’m kind of glad to cross another tea off my 52teas sampling list (which is huge. Anyone have a subscription and want to swap small samples of everything to me every couple months or so?!)

ETA: Drinking the second infusion (close to boiling/4.5min) cool and there’s just a hint of cotton candy in the aftertaste. Not a bad tea, but not a winner. I will cold-brew or ice the rest later.

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

Yeah, I’m not really getting cotton candy from it either, and I’ve steeped it in many ways.

Kittenna

Oh well! I’m really not too heartbroken since I didn’t buy it myself :)

Alphakitty

I haven’t even tried this one yet! XD I think I’m going to try it iced first… hot cotton candy just somehow seems wrong to me.

Kittenna

Try it iced and report back :D I sent you some teas I have yet to try to, like Apricot Guayasa (I sent that… right?)

Alphakitty

Yup, you sent that one! I love apricot, so I’m pretty excited to try it.

CHAroma

I brew this at boiling water for 2.5 minutes and it tastes exactly like cotton candy to me! Especially with just a little Truvia and skim milk. Sorry you’re not getting the same experience. Also, I have several 52teas blends that weren’t really to my liking if you’d like to do a swap.

Kittenna

Oooh, CHAroma – PMing you!

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92
drank Dulce & Banana by DAVIDsTEA
2661 tasting notes

Sigh. This one is never going to live up to the amazing first cup I had of it. Faded tea crush, anyone? That said, I’m still really enjoying it tonight, even though the magic isn’t quite there the way it used to be. Second infusion is actually pretty satisfying though.
[Backlog from yesterday evening.]

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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88
drank Creamy Nut Oolong by Teaopia
2661 tasting notes

Nutty and good, but not as good cold. Second infusion (2:30/90C) also tasting too weak, like Pot O’ Gold. Maybe my taste buds just want something stronger. (Aroma though? Heavenly.) Up to four good infusions :) [Backlog from yesterday evening.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 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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