28 Tasting Notes

drank Royal Garland by Samovar
28 tasting notes

I FINALLY …am the proud owner of some Samovar leaf. I was so excited to get my order this week – I checked the tracking info a million times yesterday morning to make sure it was being delivered… but by the time I got home to meet my little bundle of joy, cruel fate had decided to give me the beginnings of a crappy head cold. I couldn’t wait, and brewed up a cup of this anyway. :/

A scant 2 tablespoons was about 5g, used about 6oz water.
Well. I tasted sweet, and creaminess, and a hint of warm starchiness.
That was about it.
Poo.

Anyway, I resteeped for a total of 3 times, enjoying each cup, but I’m sure there’s more to it than I was tasting. I’ll have to wait until my stuffy, runny nose has cleared up to try this again. Can’t wait!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Cofftea

On the contrary, I think it was perfect timing cuz it lifted your spirits:)

Laura

Well, that’s true too! How do you like your yixing pot?

Cofftea

For not using it yet, I love it! I don’t have any raw pu erh to season it at the moment.

teaplz

Try it at the higher temperature? :O

Laura

@teaplz: Definitely have plans to try the higher temp! I’m just afraid I’ll be “wasting” this stuff if I still can’t taste it properly… :/

~lauren.

Feel better soon!

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89
drank Kai Hua Crescendo by Adagio Teas
28 tasting notes

My first second-steep! (If that makes any sense). Woke up late. Eyed the sodden leaf still clinging to the teapot from last night’s kai hua escapade. Didn’t really want to wash the pot out or rummage to find a new leaf. Decided I could live with being a little disappointed in myself by steeping the soggy mess a second time, 10 or so hours later. It would be it’s own tiny adventure. My first second-steep. I held my head high as I poured my tea into a tumbler.

No I didn’t. It’s a Monday for ****sakes. But it was still buttery and green and hinting of sweet, if not a little subdued all around. I don’t blame the tea though, it is Monday afterall.

Edit: Sipping this cold now. Ack. A little bitter. A little more grassy. Might pour this over ice and see if I can find a dab of honey…

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Cofftea

That makes perfect sense:) I have resteeped leaves from the nite before on several occasions. I see no need to waste infusions just because I’m going to bed. Although I am surprised your leaves were still wet.

Laura

Yeah, typically the situation would have seemed less shady, but the pot was sitting amidst dirty dishes and just looked wet and icky…but all ended well. :) Oh, and I think the leaves were wet because i put the top back on my pot while the pot was still warm = condensation or less air circulation….or something… :P

Cofftea

oooh careful, that’s just screaming “Grow mold on me!”

Laura

Haha. Gross, but good point. Though I think the incubation period is a bit longer – still not a practice I intend to keep up.

takgoti

I found this log amusing. That is all.

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89
drank Kai Hua Crescendo by Adagio Teas
28 tasting notes

I’ve got to agree with everyone that’s put this tea experience in between a green and white. I was actually tempted to steep it longer than 3 minutes because it was so pale in color, but it does just fine here. I really wasn’t in the mood for any of the many flavored teas in my stash, and I’m really glad I chose this instead. It’s so slightly sweet, with a very pleasant buttery greenness to it, but it’s lighter and not as drying as I’ve found most of my greens to be. A very enjoyable, comforting Sunday night cuppa.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Cofftea

Many? lol!=P

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86
drank Pina Colada Honeybush by 52teas
28 tasting notes

If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain…
…or, well – nevermind the rain. If you like pina coladas, you’ll probably like 52teas take on them. Dry, the leaf hits you with pineapple – good pineapple (not runts-style fake fruitiness), then boozy rummy goodness all backed up by creamy coconut.
Pouring proved to be a bit of a problem as my coil-filter teapot was much too effective at holding back the big bits of honeybush, while clogging the spout and allowing some tiny bits to flow through. A second strain in the quickly rinsed pot rectifies all. I really like this pot. That’s the first time it’s experienced such a dilemma. Hmm.
Steeped and piping hot, I think the honeybush comes forward first (this is my first honeybush, but since my first-sip impression wasn’t pineapple, rum, or coconut, by brilliant deduction I assume it’s the honeybush).
As it cools, the pineapple is mellow-sweet and the coconut stays close on it’s heels, rounding out the flavors in my mouth. There’s a slight drying in the back of my throat and down the middle of my tongue, but it’s not enough to be unpleasant.
A splash of cream (yup, conveniently I have an open carton of heavy whipping cream – go big or go home) really takes this to the next pina colada level. Creamy, pineappley, coconutty goodness, and if I swish, is that caramelly sweet backdrop perhaps rum?
Though a bit too sweet to use as an everyday-tea, this will come in handy as a dessert stand-in. Kudos 52teas! (by the by, i just looked up the rest of the lyrics to Jimmy Buffet’s Escape (the pina colada song) – oh sad. and here i thought it was just about innocently throwing back a few blended beverages. boo. bad, jimmy. naughty naughty.)

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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75
drank Earl Grey by Stash Tea Company
28 tasting notes

Ehh…So I’m traveling for work and all that’s here is a local grocery store with the likes of Lipton, Tetley, and a few Stash selections. I was feeling bergamot, and though it’s a bit generic, the bergamot is actually a bit more present in a citrusy way than I’m used to. This bagged Stash stuff isn’t so bad in a pinch. Now so long as I don’t get cancer from nuking my styrofoam-ish cup of water to boiling, it’ll be a total WIN!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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75

Was completely out of it this morning but didn’t think I could handle a caffeine punch to the head, so I swapped my morning cup of coffee for some tea. This was all I had at work. A little weak (but that’s 1 bag for 12oz water) and the sage isn’t really working for me today, but it shook some of the fog off and was gentler than a coffee jolt. Eeh.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec
Cofftea

I have not tried this yet (really looking forward to getting it in a swap soon though!), but I’ve been really pleased w/ 1 bag/6oz… which is quite surprising considering how light they are!

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35
drank Mayan Chocolate Chai by 52teas
28 tasting notes

I should preface this by saying that the way I’m use to getting chai is as a chai latte from the likes of *bucks and I’m pretty sure they use some sort of a mix instead of whipping out a teapot and loose leaf on the spot. :P So when I looked in my tea drawer and saw this in there, I thought I’d try it and go legit.

Out of the bag I get a spicy-spice smell more than a hot-spice smell. Cardamom, cinnamon, maybe the almond or cocoa in the background and then something that smells like whole peppercorns (versus the sharp peppery smell of cracked or ground pepper). Not bad.

11/2 teaspoons for about… 9-10 oz water? I should make a habit of measuring. Anyway, this steeps up with a nice spiciness filling the kitchen, and I’m kind of jazzed about trying something new. 4 minutes are up. The game plan is to try this on it’s own and then add dairy to mimic my lattes. Decant. Sniff. Sip.

WHOA.

For all the spicy-spice I smelled, I’m totally shocked at how the hot-spice grabs the back of my throat. I almost choked in surprise. I guess that’s where the cayenne was hiding. Of all the dried peppers I cook with, my ground cayenne adds more heat than any actual flavor in my opinion. It’s the case here too, I feel. Swishing, I get a tingliness at the back of my throat and sides of my tongue from the pepper, but the tea is there as a definite foundation- which I can appreciate. Sip. A swirl of spices keeps me interested. I close my eyes and try to slowly find and hold onto each individual spice, but …there’s something else here too. What is that??

Okay, so now I add a little half & half and a splash of skim milk. The skim is way too thin for a creamy mouthfeel. Sip. Okay, so now I add a lot more half & half and another splash of skim. Thaaats about right. Half tea/half dairy? Sipping now, the pepper is still there but much calmer now that my milk is beating the capsicum into submission. :) The cinnamon and cardamom are still there, more distinct now that the pepper isn’t in the way, and if I concentrate I can kind of find the cocoa lingering here and there, but never long enough for me to get a hold of it. What has rushed to the forefront of my tastebuds, however, is that taste . What is that?? I glance at the ingredients list.

Oh. ginger.

I blame my mother for this. She gets heartburn from ginger and never used it when she cooked for me when I was a kid. So now anytime I get a load of ginger in my mouth, my tastebuds are beset with this alien taste they have no idea how to cope with and they then proceed to throw a small tantrum. Now anytime I take a sip, all I can register is ginger! ginger! ginger!

Well, show’s over kids. Mayan chocolate chai goes back in the drawer for now. Perhaps I’ll pull it out again another day when I feel up to the challenge of acquiring a taste for this stuff they call ginger.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
takgoti

CAPSICUM ATTAKS U! I was too overwhelmed by the cayenne to taste much else when I drank this, and I made it like traditional chai. Next time I’ll steep shorter and go heavy on the milk. Serious THROAT PUNCH.

Cofftea

In reference to your “*bucks” comment… which I’m thinking you meant Starbucks? If that’s the case, they use a liquid concentrate, but you can absolutely ask for the bagged version- IMO it’s so much better, especially now that they have full leaf bags. I prefer 2 bags in a tall. No other size does it for me because the flavor ratio is off.

Laura

@takgoti: Yes! After my first sip, I totally knew what you meant in your TN!!
@Cofftea: Haha. Yeah, I’m lazy. s-t-a-r is just too much for me to type sometimes, hence the *. And the next time I get a chai latte, maybe I will ask for the leaf, just out of curiosity! :)

Cofftea

Oh… I get it… Duh! I guess I didn’t connect it w/ the traditional star shape. Ok, I feel dumb now lol.

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drank Valentines by Adagio Teas
28 tasting notes

Whoa! Okay Steepsterites, explain this one to me: I made an 18oz pot of this, steeped for 5 minutes, then promptly poured into 2 separate mugs – one big pour for each mug, then a little bit here and there to top off each evenly. One mug (mine, lucky me!) tasted as I think it should – the other (my unfortunate bf’s) is waaaay too bitter to choke down. …What happened??!? As a side note, the roads in MN are so bad today, my boss called me this AM and told me to stay off the roads and “work from home”. I can’t believe I’m out of school and still getting snow days!!! :D

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Cofftea

That’s weird…

Auggy

Laura, that’s happened to me before! More than once! I have no idea what causes it but I ended up with two guesses – either the cup that got the last pour got all the oversteeped tea and thus tasted nasty or there was a difference between the cups’ shapes (non-matching) so one cup continued to steep and develop (and get nasty) and the other didn’t. Not sure if either option is what actually happened but that’s the best thing we could come up with when brainstorming about it (I think there were some comments on one of my logs related to the issue and that’s where the brainstorming was but I have no idea which one).

Laura

@Cofftea: I know!!
@Auggy: I thought that maybe it was uneven steepage in the pot too. My mugs are identical, but maybe one ended up with a little leaf in the bottom post-pour and kept steeping away. Such an odd phenomenon!

LENA

That is odd, but has happened to me as well. I think the cup that gets the last of the pot can tend to be bitter. I have gotten in the habbit of taking a spoon and stirring the tea before pouring it into my cups. Hopefully it will even out the bitterness and not make 2 crappy cups. LOL!

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86
drank Coconut Cream Pie by 52teas
28 tasting notes

Woke up and decided to deal with being 10min late to work so I could make this in the AM before my drive. Then thought I’d make it into a latte (as per 52teas recipe) thinking that the only thing better than eating your dessert before dinner is eating dessert first thing in the morning before any meals have been had. What’s even better is that although my tire blew out on the interstate when my gas tank was on E and I had to wait an hour and a half to get my tire changed with my car off for fear of running out of gas and then really looking like an idiot (and hey, it’s freezing rain outside – no I’m not going out to change it myself), I got to sit and smugly wait in my car, sipping my dessert before I even had breakfast. I highly recommend it. :)

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Auggy

OMG! What a day! Glad the tea made it not so horrible (and may it only get better)!

Cofftea

I’m pretty much out of Mayan Chocolate Chai, but when I get more I’m gonna have to make a latte using their recipe. I’ve never used condenced milk for that before…

Laura

@Auggy: Oh thank you! It wasn’t so bad anyway, and things are looking up! :D
@Cofftea: Yeah, it’s super sweet – muuuch sweeter than I ever like my espresso lattes – but since i use it as a “dessert”, I don’t mind. :) And I myself have a sample of Mayan Choc. Chai somewhere in my stash. I’ll have to try that as a latte as well!

Cofftea

I think certain teas (like this one) might be too sweet that way, but I think the spice and chocolate would cut it nicely. Although I could see this frozen and blended!

takgoti

Well, there’s a way to kick off the day. [I wouldn’t change my tire in the freeze either!] Happy to hear your day’s improving!

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drank Pu'erh Tuo-Cha by Teas Etc
28 tasting notes

Dirty plant.

This is my first pu’erh. I didn’t prepare it, but I think it went something like 3 little nests for about 18oz water. I don’t know if the bundles were broken up. Should you break them up before you steep? Either way, this both smelled and tasted like dirty plant to me. Wait. I mean: “I detected earthy vegetal notes”. When I stared into my cup, it was dark. Almost an inky type of dark. A dirty dark. Should it look like that? Hmm. Maybe there were too many nests used? I think the tin says 1 nest for 2-3 cups of water. Do they mean 8oz measuring cups or 6oz standard drinking cups? Either way, I’m guessing too many nests. People like pu’erh, and I doubt it’s because it tastes like a dirty plant. I’ll have to play with this on my own. Stay tuned.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
teaplz

Yeah, definitely use one nest per cup! Maybe even a 12 oz. cup. I’ve never drank pu-erh in cake form (only loose), but it is pretty potent and a little goes a long way. :( Here’s hoping you can fix it to suit your tastes!

Laura

Ahhh, thank you teaplz!! So it was a case of over-nestatizing! I’ll have to try this again and see how it turn out. :)

LENA

LOL…I love how “dirty plant” turned into “earthy, vegetal notes”. People need to lighten up sometimes and realize that you can love tea without being snooty about it. Great post!

teaplz

Agreed, Lena! That part made me smile as well. And over-nestatizing is an awesome phrase. I’m trying to figure out how I can incorporate that into everyday conversation.

Laura

@LENA: haha! When I first started logging my teas I was so intimidated thinking that tea drinkers were mostly proper hoity-toits, but then I started reading everyone’s posts and got so excited that I didn’t have to rack my brain for all the technical sensory attribute jargon. thank you all for keeping it real! :D

@teaplz: Erm, yes. I tend to make up words as I go. :) Over-nestatizing: may also describe a talented robin’s abilities to build a mansion-like home, or one of those mothers who goes crazy and accessorizes her home with many toys and gadgets for her baby, only to find that it likes the cardboard boxes they came in waay more (true story).

fcmonroe

I love this review. It made my afternoon.

S

You are the best. Loved this post, and the comments :)

takgoti

Hee, awesome.

Oh, also, I do think that the cake/nests are supposed to be broken up, but I’m not sure where I’m pulling that information from source-wise.

Cofftea

Carolyn gave me a piece of pu erh cake and told me not to break it further as it would cause bitterness. Not sure if nests are the same way. As for ammount she also suggests 1g of tea/1oz of water.

Laura

@fcmonroe&shanti: aw, thanks guys. i appreciate you putting up with my ramblings.
@takgoti: yeah, i think i remember reading something about that, too! in fact i think it was an article steepster tweeted about a long time ago…
@cofftea: hmm. interesting. perhaps nests and cake are handled differently? or perhaps theres a bit of consumer preference involved? i’ll have to try both and see what happens. oh, and i’m going home and weighing my nests first thing! hooray for my new digital scale! :)

takgoti

@cofftea Was that raw pu-erh?

Cofftea

takgoti, yeah it was. Not sure if that’d make a difference since Carolyn’s preparation instructions were the same for cooked and raw- the only difference she suggested was to increase the steeping time starting w/ the 2nd infusion of the raw vs waiting til the flavor got weak for the cooked. I don’t really notice a difference not increasing the time though.

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Bio

I love all things food, so my recent nudge into the tea world has been a welcome adventure. Yummy, too. Makes the death grip I have on my coffee mug relax just a bit. :)

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Minneapolis, MN

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