Popular Tasting Notes
This week has been pretty busy for us. We just got back from vacation mid week which was really a work vacation and will start prepping for another office closure as we will probably be taking off for another 2 weeks in about two weeks but this time for a real vacation. Also, we received in a ton of tea, including many new teas. We are also changing up a few teas. Here is a sneak peek of just a few of the many changes:
Adding: Hattialli Golden Paw (very similar to our Hattialli Golden Lion)
Changing: Irish Cream Cheesecake. Based on the reviews, we are thinking the base is just wrong for the flavoring. We used our everyday Sourenee, which is very good but also very fickle. It can be pretty challenging to get that tea to its sweet spot and it can turn astringent if the water cools too much.
Changing: Sourenee. We are exchanging the current everyday Sourenee for a very high quality limited edition Sourenee.
Adding: Hello Sweetie. It’s coming soon but first we will be doing a promotion with it.
Changing: Da Yu Ling. We moved too slowly on the Da Yu Ling for the winter harvest but the Fu Shou Shan is a fantastic replacement!
Adding: A baked Ali Shan.
Mi Xian: Just a little warning. We are low on Mi Xian right now and will not be able to get more when we run out as it is scarce at the moment.
These are just a few additions and changes. There are many more to come and many more flavors in the works, including the Custom Blend Contest tea which is getting close to finishing the recipe. We will also be removing a few flavors and teas that just aren’t up to the standards of the rest of the teas. I would love to hear any suggestions from anyone who believes there is a tea that should be removed from our collection.
On to the tea! This harvest has a slightly deeper dark chocolate note. There really isn’t much difference from this harvest and the last harvest but the chocolate is stronger and the malt is slightly stronger. There are less stems, which is fantastic! The upgrade version on the other hand has some cherry notes that were not detectable in the previous version.
Let’s just get one thing clear here. This will probably not be news to most of you.
Fujian black = OM NOM NOM NOM!!!
That said, let’s move on.
I should do a proper intro first. You see, you may have heard about this here massive order I put in with Le Palais des Thes recently. Massive. Massive, Steepsterites. When the boyfriend came home and saw the opened box, this is what happened.
“That’s for work, right?” says he.
“Um, no…” says I.
I was being Looked At
“What?” says I, somewhat defensively.
“That’s enough tea for an army!” says he.
innocent look says I.
That was when I decided to not tell him about this order, although it’s much more reasonable in size with only three different teas. And yes, the LPdT one did get slightly out of hand. Slightly.
So the TeaVivre order arrived today. I have tinned it and hidden as much of the evidence as I could in my own room. I recently rearranged the Tea Corner slightly, so I’m counting on him not noticing the three extra tins that have appeared.
If he sees them, he’ll mock me for weeks.
So that’s the current status in my house. Yup. Sneaky tea. At least I don’t have to hide it in a desk drawer like I do with chocolate when I get cravings after having told him to help me cut down on snacking and sweets.
Now, tying it all back to the very beginning of the post, anybody who has known me for a while will know that when it comes socks-in-orbit-awesome, nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, surpasses Tan Yang in my opinion. I love all Fujian blacks, I’ve never met one in recent history that I didn’t, but Tan Yang is the very definition of tea perfection for me. Bai Lin came close, but not quite there. A little less wild, a little more well behaved. I love the wacky feel to Tan Yang that I get some times, when it seems to display multiple personalities between steeps, and often between sips if brewed Just So.
I have to say that the first sip of this one had me eyeing the cup suspiciously. I have, it appears, been drinking the wrong Bai Lin. This one hits almost all the markers that I love about Tan Yang. The only one missing the wacky feeling, but I can’t tell that from just one cup anyway. It might be there.
There’s nothing well behaved about this. It’s loud and self assured. It marches into the room shouting, “BAI LIN IS HERE! HI FANS!” It’s not at all subtle, but it seduces me all the same.
But I expect you lot wants to know about my experience in more descriptive terms as well. The aroma is malty sweet and a bit grainy. I got a whiff of caramel, but only because the flavour told me to look for it. You see, this has a pretty good caramel-y note. It’s mostly in the aftertaste and it reminds me of the dulche de leche (an expensive and rare luxury) I had on toast for breakfast this morning. The body of the sip is all long and grainy and dark, but at the very front was where I found the real surprise. Sort of prickly, kinda floral and kinda almost pseudo-smoky! More floral than smoky, but it was definitely pointing vaguely in that direction.
And that, I expect, is what broke the Good Boy image for this one. That’s the sort of thing I expect from Keemuns and Tan Yang. This tea definitely feels male to me, which is peculiar, because all other Bai Lins I’ve had struck me as rather more female tasting.
(Yes, flavours occasionally have genders. They sometimes have colours too.)
This would be the first cup of the return of an old favourite recently returned to my
And actually, slightly unfair to the tea because it’s a really good tea, today it’s just a decoy cup.
See, something interesting happened to me this afternoon, involving me getting proposed to.
If you can guess what I answered, you win a cookie.
(Edit: Oh my goshy-wosh, this is still every bit as excellent as I remembered!)
Gather round, Steepsterites, because I am going to have probably one of the most interesting teas of a long time now.
I have a colleague, a turkish girl, and she asked me, “Have you ever had Turkish tea?”
I told her I had once. I’ve never been to Turkey, but I’ve studied with a turkish girl and once when we were writing a paper to do with some questionnaires she had asked her uncle to take a stack with him to the mosque next time he went. He invited us for tea, so she could explain to him what the questionnaires were about. Her aunt made traditional turkish tea for us.
Then we talked about about how to brew it and my colleague told me that while they do drink a lot of that apple tea, they also drink a lot of plain black tea, taken with sugar. They brew it so strong that it’s nearly undrinkable without sugar, and my colleague gave me this that she had and never drank at home and explained to me how to brew it like a turkish person would. Of course I didn’t write it down at the time, thinking it was easy enough to remember, but when I came home I still had to google it. I found this site (http://turkish-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/turkish_tea) which has guidelines for brewing. It rang a bell, so I feel pretty confident that this is also how my colleague told me to do.
1. Prepare a small teapot by adding about one heaping teaspoon of good, black tea (Keemun, Assam, Russian Caravan, English Breakfast all work well) per cup.
2. Boil about 1 cup of water per cup of tea (either in a samovar – or on a stove top).
3. Pour HALF of the steaming water into the teapot and let it steep for at least 15 minutes, keeping both the teapot and the remaining water piping hot. (Without a samovar, you can accomplish this with a good tea cozy for the pot and a very low flame for the water. (I almost hate to admit it, but a microwave works pretty well, too, for keeping the water very hot…. but I “didn’t say that…”).
4. Pour the tea into a small glass cup, about halfway up, and add the water to fill the remainder. Add sugar to taste – BUT NEVER MILK OR HONEY.
Read more at Suite101: Turkish Tea: Brewing and Drinking Tea in Turkey http://turkish-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/turkish_tea#ixzz0chWxExdO
So now I’m wondering what sort of leaves she has actually given me. They don’t have a very strong aroma. Ever so slightly smoky-ish is about the only characteristic I can pick up. It’s a quite large leaf size for a black though. Since my colleague actually travels to visit her husband’s family in Turkey at least once a year, I wonder if I could be so lucky that it was actually a tea produced in Turkey. Think about it, it’s not that unlikely. It would be cool if it was. I may have to interrogate her some on this matter. She gave me a relatively small amount. Big for a sample, but small for an amount to have lying around when one never takes tea. I’m not sure if that was what she meant but it did sound like, if I liked it, she had more that I could have. Anyway, the leaves look a bit faded in colour, so they’re probably getting a bit on in age. With this method of brewing, though, I can’t imagine it would spell disaster.
Five minutes still to go of this extremely long steep!
Okay, ready for the next step! Obviously, I don’t own the proper tulip-shaped tea glasses, so my cup with the farm animals on it will have to do. I tried a sip of the tea before adding more water to the cup. It had a nice reddish amberish colour and while it did have a strong flavour, it wasn’t undrinkably strong. Not at the one small sip, anyway. Quite astringent, but it didn’t taste bitter or oversteeped.
After adding water the taste was a little less astringent, but still not undrinkably strong. I was expecting something almost tar-like here and I’m actually wondering if I didn’t add enough leaf. I think I was supposed to have made it with another spoonful.
I feel pretty certain that I could easily have taken it without a grain of sugar and enjoyed it, but I’m trying to be authentic here. I did wonder about whether the type of sugar used was important since the instructions said to not use milk or honey. I’ve decided they probably would have said if it was, so I used cane sugar.
The aroma is very similar to the dry leaf. Not as smokey, though, which I think must be because of the sugar in it.
It’s definitely sweet to the taste. If you want a dessert tea, forget about any odd additives and flavouring, because this is a dessert in a cup. I can’t really pick up anything underneath the sweetness though. It’s a flavour where you’re aware that there is tea there, but apart from a light astringency, I can’t really tell you anything about it. I know it’s odd to my colleague that I can drink tea at all without sugar in it, so it’s supposed to be very sweet, but the unobtrusiveness and the lack of strongness of the black tea, only strengthens my belief that I should have used a spoonful more leaves.
Still, I used a third more leaf than usual (should probably have been double) and I steeped it for a quarter of an hour. I’m shocked that it didn’t turn out stronger! I’ll have to try again though, but for now… I don’t know if I’m really a big fan of tea turkish style, but I think I might rather like it as a rare treat rather than a regular occurence.
eta: why is it the quoted bit refuses to be in italics? What am I doing wrong? squints at it
First tasting note
It is an odd occasion that this tea information was posted today May 23, 2012 and the tea arrived at my home today also, and today is my Birthday “64”! It was meant to be.
With the rain pouring down outside and a day that was going to be spent alone with no plans, the arrival of my Verdant tea was extra joyful. David (the owner of Verdant) put a little something extra inside my shipment besides the regular sample for me to try which brought a tear to my eye. The kindness of strangers as they say. More and more the people I encounter on Steepster, and several tea providers, are less like strangers and are individuals that I care about. Thank you!
I was determined NOT to do a complicated long review of this tea.
I followed the instructions on the Verdant site for Western Style preparation because it was later in the day when my tea arrived. Using Spring water I could count on a great pot of tea.
My first flavor impression was Chocolate. A big, then bigger, then huge mouthful of chocolate at first… followed by what I imagined was pecan pound cake. (Now I think the cake was not made with wheat flour but potato. I know…that sounds crazy.) The tea wasn’t vanilla, yam, cinnamon or malty tasting like so many other popular black tea’s. This was fruity (but not discernable as to what fruit) and clean. I hunted for some acid or tannin…but couldn’t find any. The smoothness was creamy and rich. The difference between this black tea and others was…well…this was like an expensive satin covered down comforter and the others are wool blankets, rough and kind of thin. Everything in a cup like liquid, shimmering amber gold.
I let the tea cool down. It was so good plain. Straight up it was sweet, genteel and smooth with NO acid at all! The finish was creamy and I am in love with it!
I love this tea! I really am amazed! This is the first Black Tea of any kind that I can and would drink straight up without sugar or cream always! I love the Laoshan Black but I think it’s a tie here. This is so mellow!
Second Steep Still amazing! I forgot to say that when I stuck my nose way down into the cup I was reminded of the fruity scent of wine inside the barrels at Fortino’s Winery where I worked one Summer but without sourness and just the sweet dry wine. The wine produced in that area of California was like liquid sunshine. Ripe sunkissed berries. That’s the fruit somewhere in the scent.
The flavor of this tea has no sourness either, but now I taste that distant berry. I feel the cedar and pepper on the front of my tongue but not at the finish so the smoothness is still good. Chocolate delight. Naked!
Third Steeping I’m not going into the flavor that much. I has all the same qualities that it had before. Such a strong leaf! What I have found at this point is another dimension. One that I stumbled upon because I had an Artist friend that cooked a fantastic dinner served outdoors in the evening served by candlelight. The end of the meal was followed by fine cigars and an aged, expensive Port. Here’s the part I want to share. This tea has the essense of fine cigars and port about it. A taste, scent…something.
There I’ve done it. I can’t explain why. See for yourself. I’m putting it out for you to tell me if I’m right or wrong! Because of this brilliance, I’ve upped the rating! I could not help myself!
Today was not a very good day. I’m very physically and mentally exhausted and the weather has been so cold and dreary. My arthritis has been acting up and I think driving today seeing the damage in my neighborhood has dragged my mood down a bit. Tonight I went to a viewing of an old best friend. It was very tough. Even though I hadn’t seen him in 10 years, I feel like a chapter of my life has closed and I feel like I had missed out by not reconnecting.
I just needed something to cheer me up and help wake me up so I can catch up on some work. This is definitely my cheer me up guayusa. The smell and the taste of the lemon, creaminess, and earthiness make me smile and the caffeine is helping me make it through this long day and get some work in. Think its time for another cup of Helena’s guayusa.
Thank you David Duckler for this great Sample!
Attempting to review this Pu’er is like me auditioning for “So You Think You Can Dance”!
All the equipment I used was glass…pot, cup etc. I used spring water, made sure not to eat first, no perfumes or lipstick, just everything clean! Steeping time 2-3 minutes.
I recorded 3 infusions but this 1 tsp to 4oz water method can go 12 infusions (gulp)!
The Pu’er is so intense that I felt like I was in an old movie and this is how I am going to discribe the experience, in scenes.
The color of the Pu’er liquor remained a beautiful shimmering light gold.
Scene (steep) 1. If you picture an old movie set…a cloak and dagger type by Agatha Christy then I’m the old lady in the library and a gentleman (David Duckler) has handed me a glass with a golden liquid. He disappears.
Unaffraid (or stupid) I take a sip of the liquid…it reminds me of linen…and my grandmama’s attic long ago…when I would sneak vanilla wafers. I can smell the vanilla far off down in the kitchen. My tongue tingles. My tongue feels quite furry and I taste earthiness with the sensation that I’m about to be buried in a cave. I feel different. Is the golden statue in the corner of the room watching me?
Scene 2. The earthy flavor makes me feel like a Greek goddess…yes…like I have taken a big bite out of Corfu! Corfu tastes really good, not muddy whatever and salty! Wait now, put your nose in the cup and there’s coffee toffee latte! BREATHE DEEPLY! INHALE!
I need my fan! I need my lounge chair and a nap! My mouth is tingling and juicy and where is everyone? This is not natural! The room is askew!
Scene 3. Must have dozed off. My cup refilled itself…peculiar. A hand, leather gloved and looking like Geoffrey’s hand, has slipped some more golden liquor into my glass. It smells faintly like a fruit…pineapple? A flower perhaps? My tongue tingles like fire and then turns into a silky creaminess. NO! It almost tastes like coconut water and earth.
My desire to be or do anything else has disappeared like a vapor.
Have I been drugged? The elixer is too enjoyable to resist.
Where is David Duckler and Geoffrey to tell me what to do next. I must have more!
This was all in fun…I loved this Pu’er! I hope you don’t mind my playful attitude!
To Sum it up:
Sweet, Tingles, Salt, Linen, Earthy, Pineapple, Creamy/Silky, Vanilla Cookie, Coffee Toffee Latte, Coconut Water, Some Flower, Furry, Cave, Higher than a Kite!
I give this Pu’er…a standing ovation. It is fantastic and mystical. Thank you to David for the opportunity to drink this Pu’er!
http://youtu.be/21NCH2sPlhc You’ll never guess!
Yay! I’m in New York! After the horrible hurricane my flight got cancelled. I was comming because I had been invited to the marathon race directors program and was super excited…. Eventually thing worked out, flights started leaving again. I finally got to New York, only to find out that the racewas cancelled the next day. I am really sorry for all the people that were affected by the hurricane, I hope that everyone is OK! But I am also really sad for all of the runners who worked really hard to be able to run the race and payed to get to NYConly to find out the race was cancelled 2 days before the race….
On a positive note, I made it into my first David’s Tea shop!!! I had to really control myself and be frugal… Or as frugal as you can possibly be when you love tea and walk into a David’s Tea Shop!!! After I finally picked out my tea, I got a free cup of this. Oh my WOW vanilla and smooth sweetness. I have never had anything like this. It is by far the most enchanting and well achieved flavored vanilla oolong I have ever had.
I didn’t get to go through the entire brewing process on my own, since it was made for me in a paper cup, but I think that I managed to pull out the little Baggie in time for it to not oversteep. The little bit of scent that made it through the opening in the lid was incredible. Pure vanilla with a hint of oolong to remind you that you aren’t drinking vanilla extract, but true delicious tea!
Each sip was increasingly smooth and the vanilla wrapped around me in the cold of the wind on NYC in November. I was in tea heaven… The vanilla was a vanilla bean ice cream sort of vanilla. The kind that promises to be sweet, smooth and provide instant smiles.
All in all my trip to NYC, while not productive, has been great fun and great for Christmas shopping. I will surely enjoy my last day here!!!
Also, I have to share this, I bought a BREVILLE ONE TOUCH!!! I did it! I gave in and bought the last one they had at William Sonoma!!! I even got 10% discount on it since it was on display! I can’t wait to go home and try it! I will take it with me carry on… Wish me luck with the trip and it getting through security! I would be devasted if it didn’t!
I hated matcha the first time I tried it. It was uber BITTER, foul, and disgusting. I couldn’t even bring myself to rate it because I didn’t want to do that to 52 Teas.
I’d been thinking about the matcha since then. I was sad I didn’t like it at all. I had wanted to like it. I’d even thought about trying it again on a few days but pushed it off when the time came. Finally, yesterday evening I gave it another go.
I followed Cofftea’s recommendation using a very rough conversation from weight to volume. I figured it would at least be a place to start. All was pretty much the same as far as smells and looks until my first sip. ??? Was this the same tea I used the first time? I CANNOT believe the difference in taste using 1/4 the amount of matcha and nearly double the amount of water. I had thought no matter what I did it would still be horribly bitter.
The Strawberry Matcha was smooth, light, definitely green, and strawberry. Like “Hey! I’m GREEN! You want to make something of it?”. Unlike the smell, the strawberry wasn’t kiddie breakfast cereal marshmallows. It was distinctively strawberry and I could noticeably taste it. Last time, I could barely tell it was there. It was a little weak and there was lots of matcha sediment towards the bottom so maybe I need to whisk it more or perhaps use a bit more matcha. I have rated it but I suspect the rating will go up as I refine how I like it.
So complete 180. Matcha is good!
1/4 tsp in 8 oz water.
Something really important happened this weekend… Something important enough to keep me away from tea and Steepster for a weekend! … It was my 27 birthday!!! 27… Wow… I feel like I was just graduating from University… Time flies… In celebration, my boyfriend took me to a resort at the natural hot springs here in Ecuador (Papallacta) and we spent a great weekend there. We even got massages and champagne! I think it was a surprise worthy of a tea break, though I am thankful that I got to have my cup of birthday tea today!
Pancake is such a happy flavor. This tea captures it perfectly. I have bought it so many times, and I will keep on doing so until Frank gets tired of making it. I go through it too quickly. Sweetened it fools your mouth into thinking you are eating pancakes. It never fails to amaze me.
I sipped my cup while sitting with Sencha (my dog) and just enjoying the tea. I got no bitterness, just a tiny bit of astringency. The tea flavor shines through the pancake flavor just the right amount to make it a tea and not just a cup of hot water that tastes like pancake. Tea is wonderful like that, it magically turns a cup of water into a delicious beverage that makes every moment brighter!
Now, off to have my second cup of tea for my birthday after a long and positive day at work! :) Happy Birthday to me!
On a good or a bad day, I have tea. Yes, it’s part of my life everyday. It’s something that brings me pleasure no matter how shitty my day is. I’ll take pleasure over happiness. Happiness isn’t reliable, you can’t expect to be happy everyday even if you want to. But you can experience the pleasure of having tea everyday :-)
Tea pleasure is reliable and measurable. This one is proof to my theory. It’s not a concept, but a moment in time that exists and is seizable, a simple pleasure in its purest form.
It is with such a pride that I broke a piece of my first sheng cake today. I know I have already reviewed this tea not long ago. This is just a quick addition.
It is stunning… a mossy-earthy-smoky feel and fresh minty grassy notes that make it so enjoyable… if that’s even possible, it tastes better than the first time I had it!
Dexter3657, I must thank you again for sending a sample in the first place.
(See previous note)
GM sample #2/31
The boyfriend requested something “fruity” from the GM sampler, so this seemed like the one to try. This is… interesting. Not what I expected. The honey is the strongest flavor, but it’s not sweet exactly – like someone separated all the honey flavor from the sugar and just added the flavor. Well, the ingredients do say “pollen” so I guess that makes sense. The black tea base is actually a little harsh for my taste – even at 3 minutes I can taste some bitterness. The pear comes through more as the tea cools.
Will try this chilled next. Used 1/3 of the sample (~1.3g, hooray for tiny scales) with 3.5oz water.
ETA: Very good chilled, on the second and third infusions; the sweetness comes through more. The 3rd infusion was looking pretty weak though, so I’ll stop here
The scene in Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufresne comes crawling out of the tunnel into the rain.
That is me today. Crawling through foot after foot, yard after yard, of metaphorical sewage to reach the cleansing downpour of sweet, sweet FREEDOM.
Yes, Steepsterites. I am free. I. Am. FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
At least until mid-January, when the whole process starts anew. But for now, I am going to savor this unadulterated sense of not needing to do…anything. I have big, big plans for winter break, part of which include trying to catch up with what I’ve been missing on this site [I can’t even fathom how long that’s going to take] and inundating you with tea logs [FUN FOR YOU]. Because yes, in true tea dork fashion, I TOOK NOTES when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to write logs on here. If you would have told me a few years ago that I would be jotting down things to remember about a tea in a moleskine so that I could semi-accurately log it later, I would have laughed at you. Just laughed and laughed and laughed. And then apologized, and then probably laughed some more.
So, after being released from my last final of the semester, I turned the kettle on and began an impromptu dance party. Some Ting Tings, a little Modeselektor, a bit of La Roux, a slice of Roisin Murphy and an Under the Influence of Giants track later, I was drinking this tea and laughing madly. Partially because I was so giddy with being finished with school, and partially because of the enormous lack of sleep I have had these past few weeks.
There are very few teas that I would reach for in lieu of this in such a moment of intense celebration. I luckily got my Samovar package in the mail right before studying for finals commenced in earnest, so I replenished my stash of Four Seasons and I drank a fair amount of it while trying to cram every bit of information I could into my already bursting at the seams brain.
It is, far and away, beyond a shadow of a doubt, four monkeys on top of a giraffe, my favorite oolong. It is buttery, and washes into a lightly floral finish as it progresses through the steeps. I will admit that is more expensive than other oolongs I have chanced upon, but considering that I get about 5 cups on the regular [more if I’m feeling patient] from it, it ends up being not that bad.
It is a tea that just makes my inner being sigh and melt into a daze of pleasant complacency. Delicious, intricate, complex, and balanced. Coupled with the unshackling of my SOUL, it made for a singularly fantastic afternoon. [It also motivated me to spend a couple of hours cleaning my car.] I cannot think of anything that would have been more appropriate.
So, brace yourself Steepster. Hide your children and iron your pants, because I’M BACK!
my it’s been a couple of days! brilliant because of classes winding down and very satisfying grades being locked in place…. but sad with the death of nelson mandela. i wonder if it would have hit me as profoundly before one of my majors had me studying people and the influence that we outwardly have on one another on one another in my human geography class….. there is no way for me to answer.
perhaps it is a lack of faith on my part, that as the old guard ages and passes (mandela, the dalai lama, mother theresa) that while there will always be good people, i don’t see any obvious stand ins for these outstanding individuals. brangelina? bono who got a TED award? i don’t think so……
SO i wrote that bit about 9 hours ago. stopped after the dot dot dots. dropped. wound up in an ambulance and at the hospital. KIDNEY STONES.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? so, surgery on one eye coming up…. and a stone IN ONE KIDNEY???? they’re asking me about pain levels in the ambulance ‘out of 10 sir’. 10? make it 20 and it would still be 21!!!!! OMG.
the tea. okay…. this was more of a frustrated rant and less a review. i don’t remember the tea. but i have another sample from stephanie.
Thanks to Magic Carpet Tea for offering a great deal so I could try this. Oolong is my fave. Dates are a weakness. This sounded perfect!
Unfortunately, I learned that there was date sugar in this blend as well. And, upon receiving it, I could see it looked like quite a lot of date sugar. One, I’ve never put sweetener in my tea so am not used to it and thus don’t like sweetened tea for the most part. Two, I have type 1 diabetes. When I have to make calculations for everything else I put past my lips, I definitely don’t want to worry about how much insulin I need when it comes to tea. Tea is my refuge. I’d might as well go eat a piece of bread or a bowl of rice! One of my pet peeves is beverages that include sweetener and aren’t up-front about this. I find it a lot in flavoured matchas.
Another grievance is that this came really, really crushed. I can’t really even identify tea leaves at first glance since it is all crushed together and dusty. It also made it hard to strain. I’m not sure to what extent this is how the tea is blended because the package (an envelope) came pressed alarmingly, uniformly, completely flat. I’m wondering if it got sent as letter mail, which really isn’t acceptable for tea.
It is moderately enjoyable. There was an earthy date flavour that I expected from the combination, but it was a lot more muted than I expected. Especially with all the date sugar! I’m sure I’ll drink the rest of this but it won’t be a re-buy, unfortunately. I think it’s not the kind of experience I was expecting from an oolong blend.
That’s right!!! This is my 2,000th tasting note!!!! For those of you who participate in the discussion threads and saw and participated in the contest I was holding…THANK YOU ALL!
I also want to thank each and every one of you for following my notes, liking or commenting on them, feeding my habit, and of course, the Steepster Founders for creating this site. We are a family or some may say a cult even…jk…regardless I LOVE IT here!!! Here’s to another 2,000, eh!?
I thought I would make my 2,000th Tea Note a tea that is used to celebrate something…a flowering or blooming tea.
I decided to try this one and when I took it out of the wrapper that was vacuumed sealed it was in the shape of a heart. This is the first time I have had a flowering tea that was in the shape of anything other than a ball. WOOT!
It completely and perfectly opened in less than 5 minutes.
It had a strong aroma of rose and almost a champagne type smell…maybe…I was just THINKING champagne in celebration of my 2,000th…not sure…but still…it was highly scented for a flowering tea…oh yeah…and JASMINE…it also smelled of Jasmine.
The color of the tea liquid is a light yellow brown.
It is a medium strength type flowering tea taste. It’s NOT bitter AT ALL…it’s not even overly floral tasting which is totally fine with me. It’s a sweeter type taste! It’s very nice. Pleasant. Satisfying. I really like this.
You know…it’s even quite juicy. I REALLY like this. Lovely.
I am going to shoot for multiple infusions on this as well as ICED attempts. YAY! I made it to 2,000!!!!
Now for some AWARDS!!!
The person who guessed the correct DAY was EWA…Congrats!!! That was quite a guess!!! You are the GRAND PRIZE WINNER…lol…that seems so weird to say…what I mean by that is I am going to send you a Mystery Mailing with at least 20 random samplings from my own personal stash!
Katie Cooper…you were so darned close and such a good sport I would like to send you a little something as well. It’s just for FUN!
AND…AmazonV…you took it upon yourself to post and keep track of everyone’s entries! WOW!!! That was AWESOME!!! No one asked you – you just DID it!!!! Thank you! You are such a wonderful Steepster! I would also like to send you a little something in the near future!
So…if you 3 would be able to PM me with your snail mail info that would be great! Thanks so much for participating and for the encouragement! It means the world!!!!!
Now…let’s see how many comments we can get in this tasting note…shall we!?
Thanks again EVERYONE!!!
Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng Dragonwell Green Tea has arrived!
It seems like this tea present (more than purchase) will be arriving today (and the rest of this week) in households across North America and then around the World. ANTICIPATION!
I didn’t hesitate and went to the Verdant website, transferred all the information about the tea to Steepster so that we could review our Dragonwell together as it arrives.
Next, I read ‘How to Brew’ which I highly, HIGHLY recommend!
I chose the tumbler brewing method with 5oz. tea leaves, and luckily I had a gallon of Spring water left in the frig.
The quality of the water is very important with this particular tea.
With the tumbler method there was no straining of leaves, no timing of steepings and no worry. The process was very relaxed.
The leaves were jade green, very flat and had a fine white powder on them.
Following the brewing instructions carefully, I filled my tumbler and began blowing the leaves out of the way… sipping what looked like clear water.
That was fun.
I had to take off my glasses…the steam blinded me!
The sight of swirling green leaves and steam was beautiful.
Like the humid mist in the rain forest, I began to sip and think about green winged dragonflies, pure peridot colored leaves,
leaves swirling around like a school of fish.
I kept my eye on the level of the water in my tumbler and pushed the leaves away from my mouth by blowing on the leaves.
As the water level reached the lower third of the glass, I would fill it up again with water.
Blow on the leaves, sip, blow on the leaves, sip, pour in more water, blow on the leaves and sip.
That was all.
At times my technique of blowing leaves away and sipping had all the finesse of a whale sifting plankton. Some got caught in my mouth.
The flavor of the tea was savory soybean. This was the clearest, purest of pure flavors. No astringency, heat or bite. The sweetness was so subtle you hardly noticed.
The taste was soft but still rich and the mineral quality was like laying under a cool waterfall with the smell of wet granite and calcified rock.
As I continued pouring, the water turned pale green, and there was a bit of peppercorn heat.
My forehead became ‘tight’. Hum, I was aware that the tea was letting me know it’s potency. A well adorned object of beauty with hidden powers.
The last time I went swimming in the deep sea was 5 years ago in Kauai. The spot was off some enormous, jutting mountains (you might remember in ‘Lost’ or ‘Jurassic Park’) that go straight up and then straight down as jagged points back into the sea.
There in Kauai, the light penetrated the crystal water so deep that I watched small, flat, silver fish coming close to me then dart away. There was coral, giant marbled green rock…fern-like plants waving softly as though a gentle breeze was moving past them.
That is what I was thinking when I was drinking my tea. About the rocks, fish, sun and water, and the slow gentle movement of living things. I thought about me in the middle of it all floating.
When I finished my tea, I went to the cupboard, took down my small bottle of toasted sesame oil and put just a few drops on the tea leaves with a few grains of salt. (I could have added these to a salad but wanted to taste them as they were.)
They were delicious! Really, really good!
I can’t wait to hear the tasting adventures everyone else has with this tea. What fun, and what a pleasure to have this rare Dragonwell available to us.
This tea was elegant, refined and pure.
Thank you Mrs. Li for sharing your treasure with us!
shmiracles! I will have your little tea babies for this one :) i think there IS magic in this box after all.
So part of the reason i REALLY wanted to try this tea is that there’s an ongoing joke in my family about mousse au chocolat. My grandmere? She was from belgium and back in the day was one of the few woman in her day to train at le cordon bleu. It was there that she learned to make mousse au chocolat. As the story goes, she taught my dad to cook and shared with him the family recipe for mousse au chocolat. My entire life i have heard about my grandmere and her famous mousse au chocolat. Which my dad promised me when i was about 7, he would teach me to make…which he has never made in his life for us…which he still has not taught me how to make. And folks? i LOOOOOVVVEEEEE real mousse au chocolat…not to be confused with “chocolate mousse,” that they often serve in restaurants here in canada…which never seems as delicious as it ought to be…as the mousse au chocolat that i’ve had in france.
So when i found out about this tea via shmiracles, i had to try it AND coicidentally my parents were in Paris at the time. So my dad got an email from me: If you can manage it, i’d love for you to pick up this tea while you’re in Paris. I figure it’s the least you can do since you refuse to share grandmere’s recipe with me. :) All in fun of course. So now they’re back…and i suspect they found it somewhere in Paris, since i clearly challenged my father, but i won’t know until i see them again.
So for now, i’m content with this sample from Shmiracles…which is downright amazing! I lost track of steeping it..but this is delicious. It’s not sweet, it’s more like a rich dark chocolate mousse. i think with a bit of milk and sugar, this would turn into an amazing cup of chocolate goodness, but i love this the way it is. Dark and sinfully delicious.
Edit: resteep of this in the morning is also delicious!
Today was such a dramatic day I… left my job.
I was shaking when I got home – it really didn’t sink in. And now? I’m elated! (Don’t worry folks, I have another temp job lined up)
And I reeeeally needed a calm down tea. But also a super special one! And so, out pops my best friend, Laoshan White. Thanks LW, for seeing me through this crazy time!
My 100th tasting note on Steepster! Thanks to everyone for making this community what it is: a friendly and fantastic hangout for tea fanatics. I visit this place at least a couple times a day (usually more) because it’s just a great place to be!
This was a sample I got with my last Verdant order, and I tried it gongfuish style in my tasting cup, with subsequent short steeps. Like the Laoshan black, the little curly dry leaves gradually unfold into full tea leaves. On my first sip I was immediately hit with asparagus! Thankfully I love asparagus. Next there were green beans. On the second steep the beans were still there but also a bit of toast flavor. Third steeps and after it got really creamy and buttery, almost like the bi luo chun I had a few months back but the sesame oil flavor was not quite as strong. Unfortunately I didn’t try the summer harvest while it was available, but this is a really delicious and well-made green. What can I say? The He family just makes fantastic tea.
Warning: this ended up really long!
I’ve been swirling something around inside my brain for awhile now on the nature of snobbery as it relates to tea and literature, and I think I will finally share it. Without going into too many details, awhile back someone came on the Steepster forums and said something about a much loved tea company that was not nice (or true), and it was pretty snobby too. It got me thinking.
At the time I was working on a paper comparing Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” to Thomas Kyd’s “The Spanish Tragedy”. I had a couple of thoughts on how I think of snobbery, and I think Shakespeare serves as a good example for both of them. First, that sometimes people make things highbrow or “fancy” when the original creator did not intend for it to be highbrow or fancy. Second, that being able to appreciate what is “fancy” does not necessarily take away from one’s enjoyment of things that are not. (Can you tell I just put on my academic writing hat?)
To tackle the first issue, let’s think about Shakespeare and “Titus Anddronicus”. Our society absolutely views Shakespeare as highbrow entertainment. In part, this is an issue of language; the English language has evolved quite a bit since the Renaissance. However I think Shakespeare is largely thought of as highbrow because academia has made him so. How many times have we heard Shakespeare referred to as the greatest author that ever lived? And yet, Shakespeare was far from highbrow in his own time. In later years his troupe performed for royalty on occasions, but if you were a Londoner in Shakespeare’s day you could see one of his plays for a penny. You could also see a bear-baiting for a penny, in fact those took place right down the street. Shakespeare wrote from popular demand; playwrights had to keep up with popular opinion if they did not want to lose a sale to bear-baiting. “Titus Andronicus” is a prime example of this; it’s full of revenge, spectacle, and dead bodies. Revenge tragedies were very popular when he wrote it. People wanted to see revenge and dead bodies, so Shakespeare gave it to them. It’s only now that we make it highbrow entertainment. Likewise, I do not imagine that all tea makers think of making tea as a “highbrow” beverage, but how often do people make it so?
Secondly, I understand that as we enjoy better tea, our tastes change. As I have learned more about literature, I’ve gained a better appreciation of certain authors and books. Five years ago I would not have written a six page paper based off of four lines in a Shakespeare play. However, this knowledge has not made me only happy to read Shakespeare or classic authors. In fact, many of the books I read for enjoyment are new and popular books. I may not feel they are as complex as Shakespeare, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. However, there are limits to this; there are some massively popular books out there that without naming titles, I just think are bad. Likewise, there are many teas I might have enjoyed years ago that I now think are bad. What I hope is that I continue to find a balance. I want to be able to appreciate very fine teas as well as the ones that are decent, or middle of the road. I hope that I also always appreciate fine literature, as well as the books that are just decent. I think sometimes we can like things that are not “highbrow”, and things that are fancy don’t have to be fancy.
And if you’re still with me after all that, I award you five gold star stickers.
Simply the best tea from Della Terra Teas to date.
I pray that this is not a seasonal only tea.
If it is going to be seasonal only then I need to really REALLY stock up as this I am in love with.
This is THE most marshmallowy tea I have ever tasted. Yet not just marshmallow but caramel marshmallow!
Full review will be posted on http://sororiteasisters.com/
but for now – GET SOME before I get it all!
The dry leaf aroma = ecstasty! O-M-G! Seriously, this is what ecstasy smells like. It’s not good, it’s not fantastic, it’s ecstasy! In layman’s terms, it smells like caramel hot off the stove. Mmm, caramel toffee with a bit of sea salt. I can totally get that from the aroma. Oh, I can’t wait to brew this up!!
The package of my sample says to steep this for 4-7 minutes. Seven minutes is a little long for a first steep, so I’m going with 4 minutes. Wow, the aroma of the brewed tea is exactly like the dry leaf! It also brewed up really dark and opaque. Ah, my mouth is watering! I just want to drink this right now!!! The whole room has been flooded by this tea’s aroma. My fiancé even asked if I was making food, haha! Why can’t you just cool off faster?!!
Finally, it’s not too hot to sip and it is LEGEN-wait for it-DARY!!!!! AHHHHH!!!! THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!! It doesn’t even need milk or sugar! I can drink this straight! Wow!!! I can’t believe how extraordinary this is!! Like eating a caramel toffee and then drinking a great black tea! Oh so sweet and delicious! If it were Christmas, I’d call this a Christmas miracle!
I didn’t actually see coconut flakes in the blend nor do I smell or taste it. If coconut’s in there, it must be toasted coconut flakes because everything in the dry leaf mix is brown or golden. Nor is the salt individually identifiable. I think the coconut and salt in this tea just contribute to the overall rich, buttery, awesome flavor.
Even the aftertaste is ecstasy! There’s no astringency and maybe just the tiniest hint of bitterness as it begins to cool. But I’m very sensitive to bitterness, so I don’t think most people would notice this. And honestly, it doesn’t bother me in the least. Second steep for 8 minutes, and this time I added skim milk and Truvia right away. Now it’s a much sweeter caramel tea and much more liquid candy-like. But just like with Love Tea #7, the first cup is my favorite.
This is just the perfect caramel tea! This is what I wanted the caramel tea from ESP Emporium I recently purchased to be. Perfection!! Right here! In my cup! Yesss!!!
I feel like so many new teas I’ve tried have been getting extremely high ratings from me lately. But this tea truly does deserve it. DAVIDsTEA is quickly becoming my new favorite tea company! Everything I’ve tried is a hit! These people know what they’re doing! I’m definitely going to have to order more of this when my sample is gone!
First Tasting…from a sample I received with my last Verdant order. (Prior to my full cake purchase arriving.)
I didn’t realize at first that the sample I received with my order was the same as the 07 cake I later purchased. The label was marked 06 instead of 07.
I thought I had received one of those extra’s that are never going up on the Verdant site, or a future tea that might be released in a few weeks. You never know with tea, things are always changing.
Tasting at H.L.
So I took my little sample to Happy Lucky’s to taste with my tea friends, Sam and Joe, and my granddaughter Schey.
Joe set up a little Gaiwan and 4 cups, then rotated through 7 short steepings.
From the beginning I didn’t think he used enough leaf and the steep time was instant, but he thought otherwise.
The first steeping was tongue numbing, and tasted ashy. The smell was sweet tobacco. The Pu’er was never bitter or harsh, just ashy tasting and vegital.
That didn’t concern me, I knew how a first steeping was so often unreliable in judging what future steepings would taste like.
It took 3 additional steepings for the ash and tobacco taste to subside, finally allowing a lighter, green tea flavor to emerge with a slight astringency.
I determined then to spend time at home brewing this Pu’er ‘MY WAY’. Something wasn’t right.
Curious about my sample, I sent David Duckler an e-mail. He said the handwritten sample said ’06 but was really the 2007 Fuhai Sheng. Aha!
Now I knew how to brew!
I decided to do a Western Style brewing to get a larger amount of tea all at once to envelop myself in the aroma and flavor. I also wanted to use lots of leaf.
I used SPRING WATER!!! (I do believe this made a big difference)
Steep time….1 minute! 8 oz water 5 grams or so leaf
The aroma of the leaves was lightly vegital with a background scent of Grammer School paste.
The color remained pale yellow.
The scent of the tea changed in such a peculiar way. I smelled sweet tobacco in the beginning then sweet spiced pickle, cinnamon, savory and sweet green tea.
Second Tasting Western Style
With the very first sip I was stunned at how instantly the tea numbed my tongue. Not just the tip but under the tongue.
The flavor was an ash-vegital taste that wasn’t too salty. The Pu’er was never bitter or harsh and had a natural sweetness.
I had the sensation of cream without a thick mouth-feel.
As the tea cooled just slightly there was a growing presence of cinnamon.
I was pleased that my choice to brew Western Style using more leaf and longer steep time had worked out so well!
The second steep was like the first and the third was less ashy, dryer and a weaker cup.
I needed to make an adjustment!
At Stepping #4, I changed the time to 1 minute 45 seconds. Perfect!
Always the experimenter, and following a hunch…I took a small break, took a bite of chicken and came back to my tea (just seconds away to keep the tea hot).
By taking that break, I discovered the Pu’er’s Savory personality! Sipping the Pu’er was really good with my light chicken dish in a way that an excellent light savory broth would be.
I could still feel a bit of tingle, that numbing feeling in my mouth that was kind of cool and a green plantain starchy flavor that is a little sweet as it begins to ripen with a hint of cinnamon (super light). (The cinnamon was sometimes only on the nose)
For my first encounters with this Pu’er, I didn’t taste apricot or nut.
The environment often changes what you taste from one day to another too. This is why I seldom eat before tasting tea.
Perhaps in the future my experience will deepen and I will taste many things as the Pu’er itself changes.
My recommendation is to use the best water, don’t skimp on leaf and steep long enough to get good flavor. If at first you don’t succeed try again. I bought a cake and a sample size to play with. Sheng is not like Shu Puerh. This is not earthy, fishy or mushroom tasting.
Sheng are a whole different adventure in the world of Pu’er and I for one have a lot to learn.
i love this tea…. go figure, it was made for me! but it’s not just the blend i love…. it was the whole process.
stacy is brilliant. we all know that, but working with her one on one that is absolutely reinforced. we tried tons of combinations. we were all over the map! she listened to every idea i had and added in her experience, what did we get? a delightfully NOT tropical coconut/baked banana praline invention that makes me feel like i’m eating dessert even though i have very proudly (and honestly!!!) been off sugar for 2 weeks now.
the banana level is deep, very reminiscent of when i make baked bananas with butter, lemon juice and a pinch of brown sugar. the hint of lemon is there, i swear. the coconut is beautifully balanced by the banana and praline. not to mention the taiwanese assam! i love that the blend has a brilliant tea to back it!
if you have dreams of tea i cannot recommend stacy lim highly enough. the person, the process and the result. she even allowed for my particular fondness of cream and sweetener (formerly known as sugar, lol). it’s great with, without. hell, it’s just great.
thank you so much stacy…. i have sent a bunch of it out, though only two know it’s coming, lol!
of course it gets 100%! oh, and in case you need the reference that stacy and i geeked out over: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-q3_XoS2T8 …. believe you me, there were many, MANY discussions about dr. who tea names!