662 Tasting Notes
One of my oldest 52Teas blends, from 2017 and still sealed. This weekend is a bit cooler before the heat will crank back up again (you really have to strong arm summers to quit here, which is a shame, since autumn weather is my favorite!) and somehow a warm, fruity genmaicha just felt right this afternoon.
I have never had a mulberry (that I can recall) but considering what a fiend I am for berries in general, I’m sure I’d love them, and their aroma in the package was very sweet and pleasant. I dumped all the contents out into my tea weighing dish just to make sure I got a good teaspoon mix of leaf and fruit before steeping. The mulberry aroma isn’t nearly as present in the steeped cup as it was in the dry leaf, but I do smell it, competing against the strong, toasty aroma of the genmai. Mmm. I haven’t had a genmaicha in a long time, and it’s one of my favorite comfort teas…
Oh! The berries have just a bit of tang/sharpness to them, which I really love. There is also a more subtle berry sweetness and a touch of creaminess that I assume is from the marshmallow root. The base is warm and grassy with a lot of genmai toastiness; I’d say that the toasted rice fills out in the mouth and then a sharp berry tang flavor settles over the tongue afterwards and continues to linger after the sip.
It’s really tasty! I’m debating if I finish my sipdown over the weekend on these satisfying warm cups, or use the rest of the leaf to do a cold brew to drink once the temperature turns again, since I really like fruity greens iced as well. Decisions, decisions…
Flavors: Berry, Cream, Fruity, Grass, Nutty, Sweet, Tangy, Toasted Rice
Oof, getting into the “Random Steepings” entry is a true testament of willpower…
I received this Grecian Mountain Tea as a gift from Meowster, which arrived with the items I’d requested in a cupboard destash a few years ago. As I recall it was a hand-labeled bag with some Greek writing on it, so I have no idea the company/source (other than it probably came directly from Greece). At the time, I had never heard of Grecian Mountain Tea, and I really enjoy learning (and trying!) new things. The herbs in the bag were so huge and soft, and have a delightful scent that is sort of like a cross between citrus and hay.
I never know how much to use because of the size of these things, so I just stuff as many as I can fit into my corn fiber fillable tea bag. The tea brews up a delightful golden color and smells even more wonderful brewed; oddly enough, I get a caramel apple aroma, as well as honey, lemon citrus, and a slight herbaceous aroma. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled a straight herbal infusion quite like this.
I love the flavor of this! I know there are people who say they get an apple note from chamomile (I never have… I just get a blech-yuck note from chamomile!) but I am definitely tasting apple in this. It also has a honey sweetness, and a slight florality, a touch of citrus, and very subtle notes of hot hay and mint. Mostly I’m getting honeyed apple and sweet flowers.
Thank you so much for letting me discover such a wonderful tea, Meowster! I will happily enjoy this in the evenings, and when it’s gone, I’ll have to look into where I can acquire more.
Flavors: Apple, Candied Apple, Caramel, Citrus, Floral, Herbaceous, Honey, Hot hay, Lemon, Mint, Sweet
I reviewed Zhang Ping Shui Xian “Orchid” by Dazzle Deer recently, and this looked strikingly similar. I wondered if they were perhaps the same tea, but since I see a Steepster listing for a “China Fujian Zhangping Light Roasted Shui Xian ‘Floral’ Cake Oolong Tea,” my guess is that one would be the same tea to the one I drank from Dazzle Deer.
So, in hindsight, I sort of wish I’d saved this one for when I had the time for gong fu… I unwrapped the packet, it visually looked the same, and I thought, “This time, I’ll cold brew it!” And that was my mistake. Because unfortunately… it didn’t really work out.
Normally, I have no issues cold brewing oolong, and quite enjoy it that way, but this one had a very hard time expanding in the cold water. Halfway through the cold brew I even “broke up” the cake by gently poking it with a chopstick until all the leaf was free-floating in the water, which was then left to infuse in my ice cold mason jar overnight. In the morning, I was just left with really, really weak tasting tea. Practically water, with a slight hint of florality.
Not sure if it was the age of the oolong, the choice of trying to cold brew, or maybe a combination of both factors, but if I could turn back time, I would hot brew that cake and see what flavors it would have produced.
Ah well. Can’t win them all.
Rating withheld because I feel like this was a “me” problem rather than a “tea” problem.
Holy barometric-pressure-just-suddenly-changed Batman! Anyone else a walking barometric themometer because of their health? I was doing fine all day, and then suddenly my head went BAM! I feel the shift as quick as the snap of fingers. (Stupid chronic migraine…)
Took something, now I just want soothing tea, especially as I know the GI stuff will follow later. I forgot about this one, but I’ve been trying to actually go through (albeit a bit out of order) some of the September Sipdown prompts (thanks for sending me the list, VariaTea!) I bought this one when American Tea Room had their “going out of business” sale… like everything I own, it’s old because I’m a bad Tea Mom. But that checks off the “discontinued tea” box, and it actually sounded like something I really wanted with my head going pffffffffffft on me: lemony herbs, lavender, and mint. (No sipdown though, as ATR only sold ridiculously large bags… now, I would never even place an order with tea shops that only sell bags that big. Ah well, every cup helps…)
I love lavender teas but usually steep them shorter than I would other herbals as I find lavender goes bitter quickly, so I only dunked this one for three minutes and then removed my bag. Smells lovely, though. I smell the lemon and lavender quite strongly from the cup, but not any mint. Herbaceous in flavor, with the lemon more of the grassy/hay-like flavor of lemongrass, though there is a bit of a pleasant citrus tartness that fills out a bit more later in the sip that is left on the tongue. The lavender tastes lovely, it is second to the lemon in the flavor but is a gentle floral note. Any mint in this blend must be quite subdued to the other ingredients because I’m not tasting it at all.
Not my favorite lemon/lavender tea, but a perfectly non-offensive and servicable nighttime herbal.
Edit: I finally caught up my Steepster reading! A year’s worth backlog of 50 users, totalling around 200 or so entry pages… I’ve definitely been at it for more than a month, so this is a big accomplishment! (And now I can get back to my manga backlog, ha!)
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Tart
This was a gift from derk, which she gave me in person at the 2018 San Francisco Tea Festival, after I had inquired curiosity about it (but because I’m a horrible person, I’m only just now getting around to drinking it, two years later…) I have never been a huge jasmine person, not because of the taste (which I actually quite like), but because the scenting is usually so strong and wafts off the cup like I’m being drowned in cheap grandma perfume, which is one of my migraine triggers. I have had “lighter” iterations of jasmine (such as in blends) that I enjoyed, but most jasmine-scented greens and whites have been “too strong” for me. I have never had a jasmine black, which is what I think sparked my curiosity in this.
4g sample in my 100ml shiboridashi, because I’ve had some days off so I actually have the time to gong fu for a change. The wet leaf smells so much like strong, muscatel grapes, which is quite pleasant; definitely different than the “perfumy” jasmine floral aroma I usually smell (I certainly do smell jasmine flowers, as well, just not to the extent of “overly strong grandma perfume”). Maybe a hint of autumn leaf in there as well?
100ml shiboridashi | 4g | 205F | 15s/20s/25s/30s/40s/50s/65s
I’m surprised how much that muscatel aroma is carrying over in the flavor, as well; I certainly taste the jasmine florality, but there is a noticable grapey fruity flavor as well, and a much more subtle hint of malt and honey. On the second steep some of the black tea flavor peeked through a bit more, and I started to taste more of the malt, honey, and now autumn leaf, but the tea was still very fruity with muscatel notes and sweet with floral jasmine. I felt like the black tea notes continued to open up in the mid-session, yet retained a lovely fruity/floral flavor. Later in the session, the jasmine became a little more forceful in flavor, but never obnoxious/perfumy. The tea was such a lovely red color and extremely smooth! I drank it really lazily, and enjoyed each sip.
I loved this! I think I just need my jasmine on a black base from now on! Thank you so much for this lovely gift, derk!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Honey, Jam, Jasmine, Malt, Muscatel, Smooth, Sweet
Another of my “one and done” style Dazzle Deer samplers. I’m “winging” the preparation style a bit on this one, using the directions from a tea I think may be the same (or very similar) that I also haven’t tried yet that is about as old as this one from What-cha, their China Fujian Zhangping Light Roasted Shui Xian “Fruit” Cake. So I basically dropped the full oolong cake in two cups 205F water, steeped for 3 minutes, and strained into a small teapot.
The leaf expansion was huge! I immediately started to worry this might be a bit astringent just because so much leaf was in the water after the cake had fully expanded. The spent leaves had a highly perfumy, floral aroma. The steeped tea is a pretty autumn leaf light orange color, and smells of lilacs, orchids, honey, cream, and very sweet. The flavor is highly floral and a bit thick and syrupy on the tongue. This was described as lightly roasted, and while it doesn’t come out at all in the aroma, I do taste it. It’s a mild roasted note, slightly char-like, with a bit of a honey-roasted nuts flavor. And it is a touch astringent, with a slight bitter/drying effect left after the sip. I’m not sure if I care for the blend of the roasted nuts flavor with the highly floral flavor, but it is a fine enough oolong. Not my favorite, but I’ll enjoy this pot, and I’ll have no problem drinking the other cake of this I have from What-cha, either.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Char, Cream, Drying, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Orchid, Perfume, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Sweet
I’ve been continuing my matcha smoothies for breakfast… I used to not be a “breakfast person” but I kinda like that I’m getting my “tea and breakfast” in one this way, and I’m really liking how I feel with the sort of “mellow yet strong” caffeine hit I’m getting from the matcha compared to just making a warm cuppa (not that I don’t still love a warm cuppa).
I was getting tired of my “Lime in the Coconut” smoothies I’ve had for a few days in a row now trying to sip down my Coconut Matcha and just wanted to change it up this morning, and for whatever reason, was craving caramel apple as a flavor profile. I had this matcha, and it’s really old, past the best buy date, and in a package I hadn’t even cut open yet. SIGH. And this is my eternal problem…
Normally I just dump the powder into the blender but I whisked it up with the vanilla oat milk into a latte first this morning to sample separate from the smoothie, since I had never tried it before. (It meant more dishes to be cleaned, but MATCHA SCIENCE!) I normally prepare my matcha as lattes (as I find it too bitter for me typically in just water) but these “matcha au lait” mixes that Lupicia used to make are made to be latte mixes (at least from the instructions). There was definitely a sweet grassy matcha flavor present, but also a very sweet candy-esque note… caramel, though? I’m not entirely sure I got an overwhelming impression of caramel, though I could see what they were going for… maybe a subtle hint of a caramel flavor? Definitely something sweet and creamy, and there is quite a bit of sugar/milk in the mix for this one. I definitely would not drink this not prepared as a latte (as the mix suggests), but think it is fine. It is sweet so I don’t have problems with “matcha bitterness,” but at the same time, doesn’t have a flavor that overwhelms that “grassy matcha taste” either. On the other hand, it isn’t my favorite flavored matcha I’ve tried by a longshot, either. I guess it just feels a little lackluster?
The smoothie was good though! It consisted of the matcha latte (minus the few sips I took for MATCHA SCIENCE!), a green apple, half a cup of dates, some ice, and a big glob of caramel sauce (because health conscious I am not). It hit the “sweet/tart green caramel apple” I was wanting quite well!
Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass
I received this sample in the last Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and to all who contributed! This is apparently from ZenTea but not that ZenTea (the one that became “zentealife.com” and started selling teaware instead of tea… I’m fairly sure I’ve tried a tea of theirs before, long ago…) as this ZenTea (zenteaco.com) still has an active webpage and appears to be a mom-and-pop teashop out of Georgia.
Fair warning… I’m not a pu-erh person. Not sure why I decided to brew this today, other than the fact I have a lot of pu samples sitting around that aren’t getting drunk, and I keep thinking, “One day, I will get all the amazing tasting notes that I keep reading about in everyone else’s pu reviews instead of just dirt and swamp water.”
100ml shiboridashi | 5.5g | 205F | Rinse/10s/15s/20s/25s/30s/35s/40s
Threw the entire 5.5g sample in my 100ml shiboridashi. After the rinse, the leaf just… had that same marshy swampy smell I seem to always get from pu-erh. Here we go again. Am I broken, guys?
Same earthy/wet dirt/marshy sort of flavor I seem to always get from puerh. I’ve definitely had some that felt a little more abrasive in that flavor than this one, as this isn’t leaning as heavily in that marshy/vegetal realm that I usually get and instead is more like a damp, rank cave, which… is still not my favorite, but preferable to me between the two. It steeped for a long time, but the flavor notes never changed for me. Ah well. Will it ever happen for me? Dunno…
Flavors: Earth, Mineral, Musty, Vegetal, Wet Earth, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks
This is a single teabag I got from some past Lupicia order as a sample. Grapefruit isn’t really my thing, but I figured I may as well just steep up the cup and get it out of my cupboard. I cold brewed it, probably letting it steep for a few hours in 350ml of ice cold water in the fridge while I was doing some washing up and food prep stuff in the kitchen.
This actually isn’t as jarring to me as I was expecting… maybe cold brewing made the grapefruit come across less bitter/acidic than I usually find it? (Or I wonder if the flavor is simply growing on me! I normally love tart/sour flavors, but have just never liked that one particular one for whatever reason…) This is actually pretty refreshing. It does taste like grapefruit, and I am getting a bit of a citrusy tang, but it isn’t overwhelmingly sour. The base tea is coming across very light (but it probably is quite old at this point); there is a subtle grassiness, and, oddly enough, a slight note of melon rind. Honestly, I really like this as an iced, cold brew tea, and I didn’t expect to at all, which is really surprising me! I’m not sure if I’d pick this over other citrus flavors, but I don’t think I’d turn down exploring other grapefruit teas a bit more if the opportunity arises in the future, either.
Flavors: Citrus, Grapefruit, Grass, Melon, Tart
I’m tired and my head is starting to hurt. My grandma on my mother’s side passed today, after choosing to end nearly a decade of dialysis which had grown very painful this last year. I was in full support of her choice and glad her pain is over. My grieving is mostly manifesting in just feeling a deep sorrow for the grief my mother is going through, and trying to be there for her as much as I can despite the fact I live in the western US and she lives in the eastern US. I guess the service will be held online due to That Thing That Shall Not Be Named. I wonder what that will be like…
This is my next old matcha that is now a smoothie target. I got it from an independantly owned teashop in Boise, and though they list Aiya as one of their matcha suppliers, they don’t have any flavored matcha, so I have no idea where they are sourcing this particular one from (or I’d list it under the appropriate source… sorry!) Mostly I’ve been making pina colada-esque concoctions, but I decided to mix some of this straight into an ice cold water bottle and do the “mad shake” to try it plain, to get a sense of its flavor as a matcha on its own. Unlike the Mint Chip, this one does have that noticable grassy flavor, but it is very sweet from the sugar (not a complaint for me, I can’t handle the bitterness of matcha straight up). The coconut is coming through toward the end of the sip, more pronounced at the back of my tongue. It is more of a gentle touch than a strong hit of syrupy coconut… to be honest, I like both flavors depending on their presentation. I think the coconut adds to the sweetness/balance of the matcha in a way that makes this easy for me to drink in straight water, and normally I have to take my matcha as a latte. Perhaps on days when I just don’t have time to mix up a breakfast smoothie, I’ll just dump a bit of this in a water bottle and take it on the go since it works well this way.
Flavors: Coconut, Grass, Sweet