150 Tasting Notes
(I believe this is from the Marco Polo TTB.)
This could be described as tasting like caramel, marshmallow, toasted rice, and earth. The rooibos imparts a woodsy flavor and there’s also something like damp leaves in the background. Not as unpleasant as it sounds. The green tea base, however, is atrocious. It’s like stewed grass. It’s like vegetables that have been left moist and out of the fridge for too long. I don’t know how else to describe it. It has a funk to it that’s just intolerable. If this blend had used a black tea base, or even oolong, I could probably get behind it. Unfortunately this is blended with a very rough, low grade green tea.
I was hoping this would be my last cup before bed, but now I’m going to make something else to get the taste (and the memory of the taste) out of my mouth.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramel, Earth, Grass, Marshmallow, Toasted Rice, Vegetal, Wet Earth
This is such a delightful tea. It opens with notes of smooth, silky cream, caramel, honey and baked bread. There are whispers of cocoa along with an almond nuttiness that makes me think of marzipan. There’s a hint of dried apricot. It’s decadent and sweet like cake batter; it’s thick and full, like pudding. I wouldn’t call it a “heavy” tea. Body falls somewhere between medium and full. Gosh, it’s so creamy! I don’t think I’ve ever had a Bai Lin that was so creamy.
I prepare a second steep. As the timer is about to ring, I lean over my cup to smell it…I sigh, and let out an audible “oh my god”. It smells like lightly toasted cinnamon bread, with buttercream frosting, and honey. It smells like French toast without syrup. It smells like a whole slew of delicious, mouth-watering pastries. The taste? It’s like apricot jam on buttered toast with a light dusting of cinnamon, paired with a tall glass of milk. It’s good. I’m still catching notes of honey, cream, and a tiny bit of malt. It’s soft, gentle, and buttery but it has so much flavor. I’m in awe. There are some brighter tones in this steep that are like white raisins or citrus, but they’re not intense enough for me to pin down. The citrusy notes are again in the third steep, along with honey and milk foam. Overall the last steep is much lighter than the first two. The leaves are nearly spent.
This was only a small sample in my last order, but it definitely goes on my reorder list. I’ll miss this too much when it’s gone.
First steep: 1min 30sec
Second steep: 2min
Third steep: 3min
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Dried Fruit, Frosting, Honey, Malt, Marzipan, Pastries, Toast
Despite being the last spoon at the bottom of the bag, the spice in this blend isn’t overwhelming. The notes of the base tea come through strongly: chocolate, caramel, sweet potato, stone fruit, and pudding. There is a resonant, malty aftertaste and the spice leaves a tingling sensation in my mouth.
Brenden has hinted that this chai will be returning soon, and I know I’m going to stock up whenever it’s back. Damn if he doesn’t make the best chai I’ve ever had.
First steep: 5min
Second steep: 7min
(For a more thorough description, see previous note.)
First steep: 1min 30sec
Second steep: 2min 05sec
Third steep: 3min
The first steep tastes of cocoa and malt, along with a grapey fruitiness. There is a nuttiness and a roasted component as well. The body is medium-full with a savory, chewy flavor and texture. The finish is surprisingly clean: it has no particular overwhelming flavor, and there is no flavor or mouth coating left behind. The second steep is very much like the first. There is a light honey sweetness that I couldn’t detect before. It’s brisk and breakfast-y without being astringent or bitter. It vaguely reminds me of a Keemun but without the smoke. There are notes of toasted grain, too. This steep leaves a malty, nutty fruit taste in my mouth after sipping. Third steep has barely any cocoa, but it does have more fruit, more honey, and baked bread flavors. It’s very light compared to the first two steeps. (…it does, however, remind me of light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes. Maybe I’m just craving pancakes.)
Good, but not a keeper. It’s definitely high quality. I kept a small sample in a folded, unsealed pouch for over a year in my cupboard, and it still retained a lot of flavor. I need to stop being so negligent. I bought A LOT of teas when I first started drinking loose leaf, and I haven’t gotten close to drinking them all.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Fruity, Grain, Grapes, Honey, Malt, Nuts, Roasted
Could have sworn that I had a tasting note for this one. This is one of the teas that has been in my cupboard for too long, so I’m making efforts to drink all of it down before new orders come in. It’s a pleasant enough green tea. Light, mellow, and vegetal without being overly grassy. The tea base is slightly buttery. The flavors of gently roasted nuts and cream are light and accompany the natural flavors of the tea nicely. There’s vanilla at the end of every sip. It tastes more like whipped cream than ice cream. Perhaps because ice cream is a heavy, dairy/buttermilk flavor, and whipped cream is more light and airy.
I’ll get through the rest of this bag because it’s blended very nicely, but it’s definitely not something I’ll crave. (Green tea. Eh.)
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Nutty, Roasted nuts, Vanilla, Vegetal
Since I found Black Beauty hiding among my samples, I wanted to try MzPriss’s intriguing blend of Black Beauty and Special Dark. I have mixed feelings about SD. It’s a little too intense for me, which means I usually add cream and sugar to it—a TON of sugar by my standards, or else I’m left with a charred taste in my mouth. SD has excellent qi, though, so I drink it to keep my bones warm during the winter. I never feel cold when I leave the house with a tea buzz!
For this blend I used 13-14oz of water. I combined about 3/4 of a tablespoon of SD and 2 teaspoons of BB in my infuser basket, then rinsed for 5 seconds. I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes. You guys. You guys!! This really good. It’s thick and decadent like chocolate cake. There’s an earthiness to it and the mild taste of stone fruits—presumably from the BB. The deep, resonant dark chocolate notes are backed by a syrupy honey-caramel sweetness. It’s not at all bitter, though the brew is very intense. (I mean VERY.) It leaves the taste of chocolate cake in my mouth with rich, roasted overtones. The first thing I thought when I took a sip was “…coffee?!” No, it doesn’t quite taste like coffee. It’s better than coffee. It’s the deep intensity and the roasted qualities of the tea that bring it to mind. As expected, my entire body is warm. Even my feet—and my feet are always cold. I feel like I could walk out in 40 degree weather with a t-shirt and stay warm for at least five or ten minutes. At least until the tea buzz wore off! I definitely need to brew some of this for my boyfriend. I’m desperately trying to convert him from coffee to tea, and I think this might help my case. Fingers crossed. Mua ha ha ha ha.
Flavors: Cake, Caramel, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Stonefruits, Sweet, Thick
This was a sample in my last Mandala order! I can’t believe it took me this long to try it.
First steep: 1min 30sec
Second steep: 1min 45sec
Third steep: 2min
Wow, this tea is intensely sweet! I usually add a smidge of sugar to my cup but the first steep was almost too sweet to drink. It has a very soft, smooth texture. It’s silky without a hint of astringency. The tea is gently floral, medium bodied, and has the taste of both honey and dark chocolate. There is also the suggestion of fruit but it isn’t fully developed yet. It really emerges in the second steep as a thick, jammy sort of flavor that’s like stone fruit and apricot. Cocoa and roast are the notes that follow. This tea is also earthy in a way that’s herbaceous—not like wood, or leaves, or mushrooms. It leaves a mineral note on my tongue after sipping. There are similarities between this tea and a high quality Keemun, but it lacks the characteristic smoky notes and is more honey/caramel than sweet potato. In my final steep cocoa, roast, and apricot are the dominant notes. There is a delicious syrupy caramel-honey finish that makes my tongue tingle like I’m sipping something carbonated. That completely caught me off guard. I’ve only experienced it maybe once, or twice with different teas. It has an indescribable “bubbliness” to it. Mineral and stone fruits remain in the aftertaste, though my tongue is still tingling. This tea was absolutely delightful! I’ll have to pick some up in my next order.
Flavors: Apricot, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Grain, Herbaceous, Honey, Jam, Mineral, Roasted, Smooth, Stonefruits
This is a solid oolong. I received a sample in my last VT order. While I’ve learned that I generally dislike Wuyi mountain oolong, I went ahead and gave it a try.
First steep: 1min
Second steep: 1min 15sec
Third steep: 1min 30sec
Fourth steep: 3min
It opens with a sweet, nutty, kettle corn flavor that I identify with roasted TGY or Alishan. It’s a bit like toasted rice. There is a light mineral taste and a clean freshness that makes me think of river stones. The reason most Wuyi oolongs turn me off is the overbearing mineral/metallic taste I’ve found in every one that I’ve tried. Rather than being a dominant flavor, here it acts as a subtle middle note. It supports the equally mellow flavor of wood—it reminds me of tree bark. The finish is creamy vanilla and soybean, and it leaves the lingering taste of honeysuckle flowers on my tongue. The second steep has stronger notes of roasted nuts and light woodsmoke. By the third steep the heavier, roasted flavors, minerals, and nuts have receded. It leaves a floral and refreshing liquid that bears faint memories of rice and pine. The finish is clean, though traces of vanilla bean and honey remain. In the last steep there are notes of stone fruit and a playful, tangy, citrus-like tone. Again the finish is clean and it leaves a cooling sensation in the back of the throat. Powdered sugar and crushed flowers follow, but the cooling sensation lingers. Overall this was a very pleasant surprise. Not at all what I expected, and the first time that I’ve sincerely enjoyed a straight oolong in a very long time.
Flavors: Citrus, Creamy, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Nutty, Pine, Powdered sugar, Roasted, Smoke, Soybean, Stonefruits, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Wood
First steep: 2min
Second steep: 3min
The first steep is very fruity and bright with notes of stone fruit, raisins, honey, and a heavy malt/caramel aftertaste. Most of what I taste here is fruit. It’s tart and has this bitter-nut-skin quality to it that’s not overly bitter or unpleasant. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten chestnut or had many things flavored like it, but it reminds me very much of SOT’s Candied Chestnut, so I suppose that’s the flavor I’m having trouble naming. There’s a hint of sourdough as well. The second steep also contains notes of chestnut, honey, and plums, though it is comparatively light. Slight caramel aftertaste, not much in the way of malt or chocolate. I will try the recommended 3:30 steep next time to see if I can coax a deeper and maltier flavor profile.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Chestnut, Dried Fruit, Honey, Malt, Plums, Raisins, Sour, Stonefruits, Tart