Featured & Popular Tasting Notes
Merry belated, Steepsterites!
We had English Christmas this year which involved roast turkey dinner, Christmas pudding (Americans, what do you traditionally eat for your Christmas dinner?), lots of presents, Morris dancing in a pub carpark in the village and a pantomime in Ipswich during which I even took part in the shouting and booing (Oh yes I did!), and my bestest best present this year was a Kindle Paperwhite which I’ve been playing with today. I’m still at the stage of learning how to use it, but I have discovered that I can charge the battery using my phone charger and how to download classics for free from Project Gutenberg. And in case anybody was wondering, we were nowhere near any of the flooded areas and had power the entire time.
Before Christmas, however, I received a very sweet Christmas card from Sil who had decided to spoil me with a couple of samples of vanilla flavoured black tea. This is one of them.
It smells very sweet and vanilla-y, but also, I think, a little caramel-y. There is also an aroma as if it has a very powerful base or possibly a slightly smoky base, but I think that might be something to do with what I’ve had in this mug earlier today, so I don’t think it really belongs. (Mind you, it does smell rather like a sort of base that would be lovely with some added flavouring.)
Upon sipping… regards cup suspiciously it does actually seem to have a rather strong base. It tastes very Black Tea. All grain-y and full bodied. It’s a bit Assam-y and the vanilla is also coming out in the same sort of way that it often does on an Assam base, so if this is not Assam, I think it might be something fairly similar. And yes, I know I mentioned something earlier about having had something in this mug earlier this afternoon that may have ‘bled’ aromas into this cup, but I don’t think this experience has anything to do with that previous cup. That one was nothing like any sort of Assam at all, you see.
Anyway it strikes me as something along the lines of a vanilla-flavoured Assam, and I think Assam makes a really good vanilla base and provides a generally good experience. I’m very pleased with this tea.
Kamyria’s review yesterday about the forest inspired me to go have a long walk today and write this review.
By now, you probably know that the forest is my backyard. I’ve written many times here on Steepster about my little adventures and how lucky and privileged I feel when I look outside my window or go for a walk, it never gets old.
This lifestyle is Nature’s gift to me, and that gift keeps on giving as long as I care for it in return. It’s pretty simple and yet, I wish more people could fully grasp that concept. The tea I’m reviewing today also keeps on giving…
I tell you, my snow shoes really get a run for their money this winter. I made my own trail and I try to go as often as possible. There’s a spot that we always stop at. It’s on top of a small hill and a huge rock stands there, under the trees. it is shaped as a loveseat, I call it my rocky chair.
I take a break as I watch my dog Dexter chase squirrels, his favourite sport. They like to tease him and sometimes, I think they’re playing with him, knowing full well he’ll never catch one of them!
The day is magnificent, sunshine coming at me from all directions, immaculate snow everywhere you look at, pine trees with heavy arms from all the snow weighing on them…
When I got back inside, I was freezing and seeking warmth, I love that feeling. My head still felt clear and peaceful from all the beauty I had just laid eyes on, and of course, the right tea amplified that feeling and made it linger a while longer.
I was waiting for a special moment to choose this sheng pu’erh, sent to me by the generous and wonderful Dexter3657. She read on a post that I wanted to experience more with shengs, and offered to send me this one. She wrote that this tea is the highest rated on Steepster, so I read nothing about it, not wanting to be influenced by other reviews.
I used 7g, 5oz yixing pot. The piece of cake is tight and compressed. Quick rinse. Already the aroma brings me somewhere, but I don’t want to go there yet, I want to take my time with it.
I pour the very light coloured liquor, close my eyes and smell, have my first sip.
Sweet sugarcane is what I notice first. Then, a feast for the senses. The smell that comes out of the pot can’t be ignored. I can describe it easily, cause it’s leading me there. If you’ve done camping in your life (most of us did), you have to think about the next morning, when you get out of the tent.
The smokey scent from the firecamp is still in the air, but it’s just a shadow of what is was the day before. It mixes with fresh morning dew, humid grass and moss. Earthy and smokey tones, fresh menthol. Take all these “ingredients”, gather them in a cake, and later, when you hit it with hot water, the memory trap is released and you experience that moment again.
I choose not to describe more. As it happens when I drink something really special, I give in to the tea, not wanting to think anymore but just be in the moment and feel the pure energy. Cha qi. The best thing that can happen. I’ve had these moments before, but not often enough. I plan on having a lot more in the future…
Thank you so much Dexter3657 for wanting me to discover how special your beloved Mandala truly is. You were right :-)
(Cough, Implacinganorderscrewthehiatus, cough, cough)
We’re going to pretend that the next words off my finger tips are not words typed by me. I.Love.This. Green. tea. yeah that’s right. this is a sipdown and i’m a little sad. The teafairy sent this one my way and i have to say i made it today and started sipping on it, not expecting to really enjoy this. And then suddenly, i was at the bottom of my cup and re-steeping a second cup. Yeah. That’s right. I found a green i really like. It doesn’t have that usual “green, vegetal” taste to it. I can believe it when they say this is a rare tea because the flavour was uniquely interesting. The sad part? It was so delicious i just kind of gulped my way through this and didn’t take very good notes on it, beyond loving it. So it’ll go on to my shopping list for a future tealux order with their black tea that i love…and we’ll give them another shot :) thank you teafairy!
The more I sample David’s Tea products, the weirder their overall profile seems to me; they’re very much like Teavana in that way. It’s basically a concept/execution issue, as the ideas are often excellent, but the end results can range from unfathomably poor, I mean really, truly what were you thinking poor, to quite tasty. But for me, it never really gets beyond that ‘quite tasty, but…’ with either Teavana or DT.
This tea, albeit double-bagged, had taken over most of the swap box when it reached me – not in a permanent way, it just needed some airing out, but the fact remains: this is a very strongly scented tea. It’s also a hot mess in every possible way. Every sip offers a new flavour combination, every whiff makes you flinch in confusion and sensory overload. This tea makes no sense.
However, I really like when things make sense, so the scenario I would like to propose is the following:
It’s a quiet day at the tea factory, all quotas are met, Dario the Junior Tea Blender is just messing about, playing little drum solos on the ingredient tins.
The unfathomable has happened. The shelf containing the jars for hibiscus, apple, raisins, rooibos, candied pineapple, candied papaya, orange peel, coconut chips, rosehips, elderberry, mallow blossoms, peach, almonds and cinnamon COLLAPSED from Dario’s musical pounding. David the Senior Tea Blender is NOT going to like this.
Dario must make haste to sort this out before David returns! He secures the shelf, returns the tins, and is in the process of scooping the fragrant mess on the workbench into an empty jar, when…
David the Senior Tea Blender enters the room! All hope is lost!
Mamma mia! Dario exclaims, freezing in place.
Cocking an eyebrow, David the Senior Tea Blender leans over the offending tin. His skeptical expression turns to one of delight as he roars, ‘Dario! This is brilliant! You even got the name just right!’
(As usual, thanks for sharing, whoever put this in!)
[Sample from the EU Travelling Box, autumn 2013.]
Feed the dog.
Attention, kibble escape: reaches for the water bowl.
Vaguely notice, don’t care.
Dog eats kibbles, keeps the extra juicy one for dessert.
Dog has a choice: drink the water (it’s full), but not that patient and thirsty.
Dog goes for what seems to be the obvious choice: spills the water all over the kitchen and eats kibble.
Dog now satisfied.
Water everywhere, slippery, I fall once. Soaked PJ’s, bruised tooshie.
Haven’t had a decent cup of tea yet.
Take a break and read some Steepster notes.
Get inspired by this tea, decide to fix myslef a pot.
Tin is out of reach.
Pull out the mini bench from under the counter.
Stretching, on the tip of my toes.
Tin is really at an awkwardly high place…
Oh-oh…feel a bench slip coming. Water…spill not cleaned properly.
Major dangerous off balance feeling…tin is grabbed at last second…
I go flying… I mean, FLYING folks.
Stainless steel stove drawer ends my fall.
Assam tea tin: checked! Still firmly held in one hand.
I know tea dedication when I see it.
Tea is good right now…was it worth it? Let me think about that…
ETA : in this disarray, I forgot to describe the tea, sorry!
It provides such a beautifully rich malty smooth assam cup, a tad astringent just the way I like. It’s on the fruity side this one. Very good quality, at such a decent price once again. Zen tea is so affordable, perfect place if you are starting a straight tea journey, you can buy many samples for very cheap. I buy this one by the tin, time to replace it!
This was my tea of the morning (no incident today, y’all, smooth easy going morning…)
I probably like Darjeeling as much as I do Assam. Some of them are as effective in the morning as any bold Assams.
This is another one I purchase by the tin (when I say by the tin, I mean 100g or more).
I only slightly prefer SF to FF cause they usually hold more of that fruity muscatel taste I like so much. I also love the fresh citrusy astringency this one offers (not bitter) that activates my tastebuds. That feature is usually more present in the FF I own. So this tea makes the Dajeeling worlds collide!
I’ve said in previous note on this tea that it feels like my favourite pair of denim: it hugs me in all the right places. Well nothing has changed.
I’m in love with this tea and always surprised it hasn’t received more reviews.
(See previous note)
Today was a very good day, I was at home with the cats and dog. I watched some old Seinfeld episodes and laugh really hard. «Master of your domain» and «Goerge’s world collides» for those familiar with the show…OMG, a gem.
Laughter is the best therapy. If your a cat lover like I am please don’t hesitate and click this link. If you’re not a cat lover, don’t click cause it will make you hate them even more. I don’t want that!
A special friend sent it to me 2 days ago, and i can’t explain how much it amused me. Still does. Thanks, you know who you are :-)
This tea is delightful, as always. I sent a few parcels across the pond, so I’m spreading the Japon love. This tea is really making it’s way around! I’m just sipping away at a resteep right now, where I mixed 1/2 tsp. of Cacao in to “revive” it a bit. It smells nothing short of amazing. Yep, the roasty toasty goodness of Japon with a hint of chocolate from the cacao.
In other news, I just did 40 minutes of yoga and completed my second day of a self-induced squat challenge. I have been feeling so crappy lately, just in general. I’m also constantly exhausted. I’m up early every day and I overloaded my courses this term, but I can’t stay awake later than 9/10pm. No matter what I do. That just doesn’t say “healthy” to me in my mid-twenties. To that end, I’ve told myself I’ll get up 45 minutes earlier each day and do a yoga session when it’s still dark and quiet in the house.
Soooo i haven’t had any tea since Sunday. When i woke up this morning i knew i needed a couple of old favourites to get me through the day since my next few weeks are going to be a little crazy. Got in last night, and now i’m at an offsite for two days which means the work is piling up! There’s a release over the weekend and then i’m back on a plane for a couple of days, which means more work piling up. Long story short…looks like there will be some overtime for a while! eesh.
This is such a wonderful tea to kick off my time back in Toronto. On the upside, i think the team is going bowling tonight which will be awesome! even though all i want to do is go home and sleep haha.
Why there you are, you delicious dark chocolate indulgence in a cup. Where HAVE you been? Oh that’s right, i’ve been saving you, to savour every last drop of you. well today, i just wanted a taste. Just a reminder of the sweetness between us. The way your rich, dark, chocolate goodness surrounded me. You make any day incredible.
And this is a sipdown of a tea I WILL sorely miss. But it was perfect today as I wanted to be alert for my first day at my new job! :D
I’m sorta an office manager/personal assistant at a company that does special effects for TV shows and movies. It’s amazing! And not only does it pay well, it’s everything else I want: casual, in my own boss, set my own hours, have my own personal space, am part of a small team… I get to wear turn jeans and geeky tees too! And I can possibly help with creating the effects (mostly dead bodies).
My boss told me to make my space my own so I’m bringing my kettle tomorrow, and a 10 pack of mini tins!
(and I work off my own computer so no one is checking if I pop on Steepster so, I’ll be more up to date on my logs!)
This is my lazy breakfast beverage because it’s easier to reach into the fridge and grab a jug of cold brew awesomeness than stand around wondering what to make hot. Oddly enough, this is common practice for me. I tend to work on a jug of cold brew throughout the day, especially when I’m at home for most of it, then switch over to caffeinated, hot stuff later. I’m strange, I know.
As raved about before, this is all full of berries and hibiscus. The hibiscus here is nice though. Really blends in with the melange of tart berries.
I’m off to visit Heather soon to pick up the presumably scary amount of tea that Sil and OMGsrsly sent to me. I already know that I owe them big time. Also, thanks to ShayneBear for distributing the
-one spring tea sampler set
-one matte white Nordic mug with shellfish and pale green interior.
-I can’t believe that was all. I just can’t. I saw and fell in love with the lime green timolino, and think it will be mine very very soon, just not yet.
I also saw their new travel mug, which is said to be leak-proof. It seemed nice, although for some reason I wasn’t crazy about its esthetics, or maybe it was just the way it felt in my hand. It’s a rubberized textured type of metal, and it just feels wide and clunky, and I’m not sure how I feel about the handle on the lid yet.
But yeah, this tea, sorry!
I got it to go as a soy latte with agave. This tastes pretty comparable to what a peaches and cream flavoured oatmeal tastes like, minus the grainy taste of oats. The peach is a soft, rounded peach as opposed to the fresh juicy variety, and is not even remotely tart or tangy, although this could be due to the vanilla, which gives more of a cream note than a distinctly vanilla one. I also didn’t get any apple at all, which whatever, fine by me.
This is a solid tea, and makes a fine latte. I’m pretty excited to play around with the sample I have!
OK call me crazy – it’s ok, I don’t mind….
This is Neapolitan ice cream. When it’s melted and all the flavors are mixed in the bottom of your bowl – that’s what this is. It’s more Neapolitan than the big name one that’s out there. This is good – it’s really good. Chocolate, strawberry, creamy – awesome. Maybe a hint thin on the mouth feel, but I can over look that.
Thank you so much VariaTEA for sending this sample my way.
I’m not feeling particularly verbose today, but I just wanted to give this tea the shout out it deserves. It didn’t taste nearly as “zippy” to me this morning, although this is one of those teas that doesn’t need to taste identical to itself in order for me to enjoy it.
I have many things to be grateful for. I had a lovely weekend, it’s a short work week because of family day yesterday, today is my birthday and the past year has been pretty good, but instead I just feel tired and grumpy and listless. I just want to go home and crawl into bed (although I tend to feel like that pretty much anytime I’m stationary at a desk for an extended period of time, which I assume would provoke any person to feel this way ha). But yes, this tea is a perfect, sharp cinnamon heart, does well with very little in the way of additions, and is very warming as it goes down. it’s a no frills added cinnamon tea (with like no detectable base at all) but that fit the bill just right today.
This morning I made fresh peanut butter to have with my toasts. It was warm and so creamy, I ate a big spoonful before spreading it!
Not all teas make the peanut butter list. (K S already know that) I usually have my regular straight Assam, Yunnan and Keemun to pair with it. Don’t like any flavoured tea with it.
You have to understand that I’m picky cause peanut butter is considered heaven food in my household.
K S mentioned in a recent post that earl grey came highly recommended on his PBJ tea list so I made a mental note of that (I personally am more of a purist, I prefer classic unaltered PB on my toasts, I ditched the J a long time ago).
So, I chose this favourite Earl of mine. I usually prefer this version cause the creamy part mellows the bergamot I sometimes find offensive in blends. The reason I like it so much is that unlike other EGC, this one doesn’t scream vanilla. I don’t mind vanilla when it’s done right, but it can be heavy and a little sickening to me. Here, it just rounds the edges of Miss Bergamot. It’s a perfect cup! And yes, it complimented wonderfully my PB toasts this morning.
So K S, thank you, earl grey officially makes THE PB list!!!
Sad, sad sipdown. (157)
My caffeine-free options seem to be dwindling by the minute. This is one I really enjoyed. the marshmallow leaf base makes this fluffy and sweet and helps to keep the mint from being over powering. Furthermore the chocolate in this is a nice milk chocolate flavor that helps make this creamy and smooth.
I may have been checking Butiki’s website daily (okay, hourly) waiting for Nutmeg Cream and Eggnog & Pralines to be posted. Once that happens I can place an order and get more of this tasty treat. Hopefully, I will also be able to add a fair amount of Birthday Cake to that order as well. Then I would be in caffeine-free heaven.
Drinking a small pot of this today. Smooth, mellow with earthy sweet potatoes and a bit of caramel.
The last time I drank this I got some citrus notes which I don’t get now; this is more lightly earthy… still really good and easy to drink, and I like it.
Steeped at 190F for 2 1/2 minutes.
I’d already committed to this one before realizing it was one of those nightmare samples.
1. It’s not in the database.
2. It’s barely googlable and not available to purchase online.
3. It turns out it’s an in-house (but possibly sourced) blend at this three-locations-in-the-entire-US coffee chain.
4. If I love it, there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to be able to score any more.
So let’s steep this sucker and hope for the worst!
In the bag, it smells really, really delicious. It’s strongly coconutty, but also a full-on, really gorgeous pistachio. I know it’s supposed to be almond, but this smells exactly like Sicilian pastry filled with pistachio cream. Sorry, almond flavouring – you and pistachio were switched at birth. In addition, this is a really, really beautiful tea – long strips of coconut, lovely shades of green. I’m sold.
In the cup, incomprehensibly, this just gets better. Coconut wise, this is as fresh as it comes. David’s Tea’s coconut always has a slight oiliness to it – I’m not saying it’s stale, but it’s mature coconut. Lupicia’s coconut is all coconut cream, a complete piña colada experience. But this? This is all fresh, crisp, pale, natural coconut.
Flavour wise, it’s not over the top, but definitely present. It’s a complete mouthfeel experience – I love how some teas are there, unapologetic, throughout the entire sip. This is definitely one of those – tongue tip-to-aftertaste delicious. It might just be the natural sweetness of the coconut, but I also get a vanilla-esque smoothness right at the end of the sip.
Well, this was completely awful. Who has an uncle in Blowing Rock, NC?
I would have loved to hold on to the remains of this, but since it seems so rare, I’ll drop it back into the box – I’d say the sample is good for about three more cups. Thanks a lot for sharing this one, KittyLovesTea!
[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]
So, nothing against it, but I’m not much of a Valentine’s day type of gal. I much prefer unexpected love days throughout the year :-)
But since today is supposed to be about love (and not about picking up some cheap flowers last minute at a grocery store cause you feel you have too), I chose to do things I really love.
Drinking this tea was one of them. Top 3 favourite tea of all time for me. Discovered Da Yu Ling last year, I keep two from different companies, equally good. Learned that it is grown at the highest plantation in the world, 8500 feet altitude!
This green oolong is similar to some of my favourites Tie Guan Yin, but brings it to the next level.
I’m using the yixing pot I dedicate to fragrant green oolongs. The brew is a beautiful bright yellow colour.
The aroma is breathtaking. I picture a vast garden with luxuriant vegetation all around as I sip on it. Think orchids and lilac scent, mixed up in a twirl of honey and fruity notes. Not sure what’s the specific fruit I get, but it feels like apricot to me.
It’s very sweet, and yet, the finish is minty fresh. Not in your face mint, more of a sweet faint spearmint. The most fabulous phenomena about this tea is how long the taste lingers in the mouth. Long after I’m done drinking it, I can still feel its imprint.
This type of thick buttery mouthfeel always reminds me a silk ribbon dancing in my mouth!
It’s pure liquid gold, but I rarely see people reviewing any Da yu ling at all.
Is there other Steepsterites out there that are as taken by it as I am??
I’ll end this note with a little love story…
It might have been the side effects of the snowstorm, but my cat Happy today was such a little bugger. Dexter (my dog) and I were trying to chill, me having tea and reading a book, him all curled up next to me. Happy likes Dexter’s ears. He’s obsessed with them . He keeps toying with them while Dexter tries to nap. Eventually, Dexter wakes up and gives me the helpless puppy look while Happy takes over his whole head. So what does a 100 pound dog do to an anoying kitty you ask? Well, have a look here:
No worries, although it looks like it, Dexter is not having a “Happy meal”, lol!
Here’s how it usually ends:
As the song goes «…so “happy” to-ge-therrr…»
When I sent majority of this package off to Veronica, I decided to save a few tsps just to make sure my initial dislike was not just a fluke. So this afternoon I grabbed out my packet and brewed up a cup. This time around I get the faintest bit of what could be called cotton candy if I stretch my imagination and concentrate but realistically it is just a sweet black tea and not much else. I am glad it went to a home where it has been given far more love than I ever could. As for the last tsp, I am opening up the swap to Roswell Strange (yet again as I may have added stuff last night at 3 am when I couldn’t sleep :O) so that she can give it a try.