From last night. I really like the combination of chamomile and vanilla – especially when the vanilla is not over the top. This is just a nice relaxing cup.
715 Tasting Notes
Teavivre Lapsang Souchong + Empire Tea Services Earl White. My plan was an uptown cowboy earl – rhinestone earl? lol :) Yeah, that was the plan. It smells lightly smoky and bergamot. The taste is kind of too little of everything. I steeped 3 minutes. This shouldn’t happen. It is like the two teas cancelled each other out. Both teas are very flavorful on their own but the combination is less than amazing. I be sad :(
Having this one again today. I made it with extra leaf and a minute steep on purpose. I wanted see what would happen. Having my fear of lapsang conquered – they don’t all taste like ashtrays! – its time to abuse this tea and see how it reacts. It passes with flying colors. The smoke aromatic but not overwhelming. It is sweet and reminds me of bacon. It does not mask the tea base. The base is fruity. There is no bitterness even over steeped. I wish I had read the other reviews. There is another element to the base I don’t know how to describe. It is kind of earthy wood or nut. Anyway ready to commit – this is quite good.
Not really ready to review this, just giving more of an update. My tea and my kettle set up were the last things I removed from office. I had two grocery sacks of tea – mostly samples. This morning I finally have my brewing station unpacked. Forced retirement looks pretty good at the moment. My tea is still somewhere lost in the kitchen – I don’t have a spot yet. I do know where my Teavivre stuff is though because it is important. Being laid off is new and a little scary territory so I wanted a tea that scared me a short time ago and now I have learned to love. Lapsang Souchong fits the bill. This smells so incredibly smoky in the press yet is much less aggressive in the cup. I am not sure I got the temp just right as the sound of the kettle is different at home. Yeah, I get to relearn how to judge it.
Most important bonus – I have a Russell Hobbs brewing station that includes a kettle, glass tea pot with infuser, and a warming tray. I use a French press instead of the pot/warming tray. My wife has always thought my obsession was, well… obsessive ;) Today she asked, can I use this to heat water for tea? I don’t mean to make her sound like a doofus, she has always used the microwave and thought a kettle was a waste of time. Anyway, she heated the water and used the infuser and pot to brew, and now has the warming tray going. She is brewing a vanilla hazelnut decaf and commented on how good it smells today :)
Now if I can get her away from my kettle I need another cup of Lapsang.
I avoided strawberry tea for the longest time as I expected to hate it. Gmathis sent a Cheapster Steepster award winner of a strawberry tea bag my way and changed my mind. Now this one is one I had planned to buy the first time I saw it. Ahmad is my favorite company for tea bag tea as they just seem to get it right more often than not. Before I could find it Brett sent this my way. I opened the envelope and swore I had just opened a box strawberries out of the fridge. Awesome. Steeped for 4 or 5 minutes. The taste is lighter than the smell but it is pretty close to the real deal. I like that it is light enough to taste the tea. It gets bonus points for that. If you are going to drink bagged tea it might as well be a good one. I will still buy this when I see it in the store. High yum factor. 85 is pretty high for a bagged but worth it to my taste buds.
Steepster seems to be acting up so hopefully this post and can be read. I Slept in late this morning. Need tea. Most of my stuff is still packed up. I found the tea bags I intended to take on my last day of work but had forgotten them. Heated the water in the microwave (which I hate doing) and steeped for… uhmmm, well until the water was cool. You would think I had never done this before. This one seemed pretty forgiving. The lime pops. It kind of opened my eyes. Then I taste the lemon. Bonus, I can taste the tea. A lot of grocery store bagged teas aren’t balanced. Ahmad generally does a great job as they have done here. Lemon and lime are never flavors I have on their own so I think they taste natural in this but maybe you would disagree. Anyway they taste nice here. The base seems mellow. In their Earl Grey the base has rougher edges. For a no fuss cup this worked well.
Today was my last day at work. 31 years 6 months then laid off. Actually today was pretty unemotional. I made a conscious decision earlier in the week to shake the dust off my feet as I left the place. Life is too long to hold on to hate and anger. Onward and upward.
Anyway I took all my tea home Wednesday with the intention of taking a few tea bags… but I forgot them. So, I borrowed this from a coworker. I gave him this one a while back in an attempt to expand his horizons beyond Lipton. Got me through the morning. Glad he hadn’t finished them all off yet.
I read Azzrian’s review of this tea and it was a little different than my experience, though equally cool. I got the ale taste. She got tea drunk. If any of you woke up with a bad headache this morning – blame us.
I decided to have another go at it today. This time I am not getting the sweet potato that Azzrian noted (and which agrees with TeaVivre’s description). I am also not getting the strong yeast and ale that I noted yesterday in the first cup. Today this is more malt, bread or grain, and honey. It is still very good and so mellow, but I must admit I was looking forward to repeating yesterday’s experience.
I am trying to figure out what I did differently between the 2 days. Both days I used my press, 1/3 of the sample packet of leaf, 12oz water heated to 185d, steeped 2 minutes, and added sweetener. The only difference I can see is before I prepared this yesterday, I removed a few leftover dried up leaves of a highly floral oolong from the press. I then took a brown paper towel (the ones you often see in public washrooms for hand drying) got it wet, then wiped down the press to make sure there were no floral scents left over. This always leaves the press smelling a bit like the wet paper towel. I did not wipe down the empty press today because I was using the same type leaf. I have never noticed the towel affecting the taste before.
If that is not the difference then it was just one of those magic moments that happens every now and then that you cannot repeat. It’s all good, because this is a wonderful light Fujian with tremendous aftertaste. The aroma of the wet leaf is calling. Time for round two.
Round two is same as yesterday chocolate malty yum.
Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu Black Tea
Sample provided by TeaVivre. I opened the package and took a deep whiff. It is like sweet fresh dried tobacco with maybe a hint of fruit. I want to say cherry but that may be because when I smell tobacco it reminds me of my grandfather and his cherry pipe tobacco. He always wore work pants, even after he retired, and a white v-neck T-shirt. He had his pipe in one hand and a glass of ice tea in the other – always. He also had a bottle of Maalox (antacid) next to him that he chugged like milk but we won’t talk about that.
He loved to watch the Flintstones. No, it was not because of he had grandkids he just loved the Flintstones. He also had a battery operated toy train engine that you put on the floor and when it hit something it backed up and turned, taking off again in a new direction. He would sit and laugh at that often. Even as a kid I didn’t understand how he got that much pleasure out of a simple toy. The train doesn’t work anymore but I still have it.
Ok, back to this tea – the leaf is thin twist curls of varying shades of brown. It reminds me of my wife’s needlepoint thread and is quite pretty. I used a generous scoop and steeped per the instructions of 185 d for 1-2 minutes. Once again it just seems all wrong for a black tea but TeaVivre has never led me astray so I am trusting them.
The resulting brew is lighter than most black teas. It is deep golden brown or almost bronze. The wet leaf smells of toasted caramel.
I took my first sip, put the cup down and walked away for a moment. I returned, picked it up again and sipped. My mind is trying to reboot. I saw on the label this is a Fujian tea. So I am expecting a certain flavor profile, yet this is altogether different this morning than my preconceived idea.
I am tasting yeast, lots of yeast. I am getting grain, barley I think. My brain keeps saying beer, no its ale. This tastes like ale without the bubbles, scratchy throat, or hangover. I did add sweetener, and that may bring out these flavors. As the cup cools it turns more towards heavy malt, which is what I expected from this tea.
Cup two at two minutes. I can’t wait to read other reviews on this one. Now this has become a light chocolate malt. A smooth and creamy chocolate malt. Mmmm. I might use that description on a half dozen other teas but this one taste different. It is simply a mellow delight.
Down the rabbit hole – I understand that different tea growing regions will produce different flavor profiles based on numerous growing conditions. I can wrap my head around white tea tasting different than green, and green different than black, but oolongs boggle my mind. They taste nothing like white, green, or black. Logically I would think they would taste in between green and black but the don’t. They’re like alien tea. So weird.
OK this tea – this is a lovely floral oolong. It is kind of spicy on the first cup. A little planty tasting. I did not notice the typical latex taste on the first but it is a little present in the second. This stuff re-steeps great and each cup is as good or better than the last. Lingering aftertaste. High yum factor.
I read my previous review of this. Wow, back when my stress level was normal this was really amazing. I am more than ready to leave this wilderness wandering behind. Bring on the Promised Land flowing with tea and honey :)
I’m sure I have had this at some point in history. I can’t find any notes I’ve ever written about it. It is one of the half dozen Twinings teas that have always been on the local grocer’s shelves. Thanks to Brett I will finally get to write a note on this. I read all the notes listed under the loose leaf and bagged versions of this. Normally I consider that cheating. Today I consider it good reading material while sipping tea. The comments were often of the punch in the face, kick in the butt, variety. Then there was the wow this is malty comments. Apparently my experience was less exciting.
I left the bag in the cup the whole time. After having tried the Harney and Sons Irish breakfast, this one seems closer to Prince of Wales – Not in taste rather in intensity of the cup. It does have some light malty notes. It is a bit astringent (drying) but not bitter even with the bag staying in it. I enjoyed the cup while sipping but don’t really crave a repeat. Not bad it just didn’t move me.
Day two with the same leaf… petals… flowers, ummm whatever this is. The second cup is darker in color. Still very see through but with a golden green tint. This has no bitterness. It still makes me think white tea with its melon and light cucumber notes. I thought this last night but wasn’t sure until today – this has a cooling effect making my lungs feel more open. My wife is going to try it later since its caffeine free. It didn’t work as a sleep aid for me like chamomile but it doesn’t pump more stay awake in your veins either. I’m am ready to commit to a rating. I like this.
New Samples from TeaVivre! Woot! Not going to rate this until I get to fix it without the microwave. I quickly looked at the picture and thought what came out of the bag would be hard like nuts. Nope. It’s real soft. I steeped with below boiling water for maybe three minutes. The resulting brew is pretty clear. It has a little bit of honey color but not much. I’m wondering will this have any flavor? But of course. The website says it has a persimmon aftertaste. I was expecting closer to chamomile. It does not taste like our persimmons and definitely not chamomile. What I got is something very similar to white tea. Subtle but deep. Even prepared poorly I like this. If I were to rate it I would say mid to high 80’s. Don’t fear the Herbal. Need more cowbell?
Another from Nicole – thanks! The leaf is kind of pretty to look at with the blue cornflower and marigold petals. There is also some white or silver colored something in there. This reminds me of mellow mango, because, well, its mellow and tastes of mango. This really is a very light flavored tea. I think sweetener is a must if you want to bring the fruit flavor out. When a tea is this subtle it needs to be really complex to draw you in. This is ok but not great.
A big thank you to Nicole for this one. Twisted pieces of broken leaf with rust colored buds well represented. It has some similarities to the Golden Monkey I had yesterday but much much more subtle. It has more similarities to a breakfast Assam without being in your face. It does have some bite and is a little drying. A nice tea I would not turn down. First cup was a pretty reddish orange. Second was bronze and was more planty tasting.
I spent the entire workday yesterday sipping Black Pearl. I know that’s not its name but it makes me giggle and go Arrrr! And then that reminds of the Pirates who don’t do anything. They just sit around and watch TV. And that reminds me of the line from the show, “You look like Captain Crunch… You’re making me very hungry.” That makes me giggle too, so today I decided to grab a brownie and this tea.
I rated the Pearls at 90. Earlier I gave this one a 100. The reality, for me at least, is once a tea hits the magic 90 mark, the difference between a 90 and a 100 is probably externals as much as anything. You know, what’s on the desk. Who’s in my face. The weather, my mood. To get a 90 a tea has to make me forget where I am, if for only amount. If I lose track of time even better.
Pearls and Golden Monkey are pretty similar. Pearls may actually have a little more body. I think they are both worthy of a mid 90’s score but I’ll leave the ratings as that’s how they spoke to me at the time.
Most every one has been crazy for this one. Previously, I just wasn’t as impressed. Let’s see what happens today. This is the last of the sample – 5 pearls and some loose crumbs. I boiled the water and steeped 2 minutes per the label instructions.
Ooh, I do love the smell and the dark golden caramel color. The aroma is like cocoa bread or… brownies! Needs sprinkled with powdered sugar :) Mmmmm brownies, but I digress. The taste is deep and rich and malt and cocoa and delicious. There is also a big chunk of flavor in the back that reminds me of an old barn stacked with hay. Then I notice the cocoa is mixing with notes of nuts and wood. Later cups the roastiness comes out to play. This is pretty amazing. How could this not have caught my attention before? I am really wondering if I used fully boiling water in my previous attempts. I could not have brewed this correctly.
This is awesome. Wish I had realized this at the beginning of the sample. Definitely upping the rating.
I thought I had logged this before…. weird. Anyway nice, grassy and buttery.
They say this smells of spices and flowers and the primary taste is lingering peach. This is a good tea but I don’t make any of those associations. Maybe Jedi mind tricks just don’t work on me. I must be tapped into my inner Yoda :) This smells of moderately roasted oolong. It tastes of roasted oolong and feels like drinking milk. Once the roasted flavor subsides it has a nice TGY floral/latex aftertaste. Maybe a little nutty. A nice oolong it is.
Backlog from last night. It must have worked. I fell asleep without logging it :)
Going to my happy place with some comfort tea.
This is the first time I have had this one. It is the bagged version. I don’t know, it seems kind of thin. I was expecting big bold and malty. The aftertaste is kind of fruity. It is a bit drying. It does remind me of Charleston Plantation black tea.
I had two cups of this bagged tea with my scrambled egg, sausage gravy & biscuit at Steak N Shake. I deeply love and appreciate beautifully complex teas. That said, I have a soft spot for the inexpensive basic comfort tea. This one does a great job in that regard. Today it had a light amount of malt and maybe it was the food combination but I swear I was getting hints of smoke. This has become like family so I’m upping the rating.
Got this one from Tommy The Toad long ago. Went back and read my notes because I thought I had learned something new, only to discover I had just forgotten I already figured it out. Yeah, I’m confused too. Back on point, this is really good if you forget the brewing instructions and just go with a one minute steep. Going longer or using too much leaf results in an overpowering dark oolong cup. Short steep this is balanced. The orange is more of an orange Crush flavor than fresh orange but I like Crush so it works.