92 Tasting Notes

100
drank Dawn by The Simple Leaf
92 tasting notes

I cleaned up my apartment today so that the cleaning lady could vacuum, and as a reward I made myself a cup of Dawn. It’s a lot richer than I remember, which is a good thing. I think part of the change can be attributed to the fact that I didn’t use boiling water in the past, and this tea thrives on boiling water. For anyone who hasn’t tried Dawn yet, it is truly amazing. It’s like unsweetened hot cocoa…there’s even this almost powdery/thick mouthfeel, like you’re drinking a rich suspension of chocolate and cocoa and tea. The second steep is wonderful as well. Simple Leaf, you rock. Congratulations, you get my first 100.

ETA: A slightly longer steep (closer to 4 or 4:30) really makes this seem like a decadent, rich cup of unsweetened hot cocoa.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec
__Morgana__

Yay for the first 100! I don’t have one yet.

Also, I loved where you said you cleaned up for the cleaning lady. Of course, we do that too, and so does everyone else I know who has house cleaners, but it amuses me to think about it. :-)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

67
drank Four Seasons by Samovar
92 tasting notes

Four Seasons pisses me off.

Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t a bad tea. It’s actually quite tasty. But it’s just not that special. It tastes, to me, like an average Tie Guan Yin, but missing the delicious heaviness I associate with TGY. It’s delicious, but no more delicious than some of the other TGYs I’ve tried.

But here’s the biggest kicker for me—you have to use a lot of leaf, and it does not produce that many infusions—certainly not 10-15, unless you’re thinking 2 ounce cups in 2 tablespoons of leaf. This is kind of infuriating, since the whole selling point on the Samovar website is that it lasts forever, so you’re getting a good value even if it’s $25 for a small, half-filled tin. I don’t like being lied to or misled. And there sure as hell aren’t 40 servings in the tin I received. Hell, there aren’t more than 15 teaspoons in there. And this tea requires, at the very least, 1.5 teaspoons for 6 ounces of water.

The tasting note descriptions intrigue me…I’ve done a little research, and I’ve never heard of Four Seasons/Si Jie Chun being described as bread and milk. The description I’ve come upon most is flowers, fruit, honey and pineapple. Hm. I’m tasting less milk or lactose or bakey-bready-ness, and more gardenias and sweet floral perfumes. [And yes, I have tried this at a number of different temperatures, and have gotten mostly the same results. No increase in dairy/lactose/bread at a lower temperature, for me.] I wonder how much of the (omg milk! bread!) love for this can be attributed to the power of suggestion…makes me want to experiment by writing up a tasting note for a random tea that’s like “OMG THIS TASTES LIKE CHERRIES!” and then see if anyone else says the same thing :)

So what do I taste? Gardenias, mostly; honey, certainly; and butter from my cooled down second infusion. The proportions of the flavors changes slightly from infusion to infusion, but the leaves don’t last very long either. Something I’m noticing this time around—it’s pretty bitter. I’m not sure if it’s because my water is too hot, or if I’m oversteeping it. A warning: do not try to brew this with 8 ounces and 1 teaspoon. I’ve brewed other TGYs this way and it’s been fine, but Four Seasons is not like other TGYs :) I ended up with one okay-but-light first infusion, and then almost tasteless 2nd and 3rd infusions. It’s so difficult to rate this one…on the one hand, it’s yummy when you do everything right. On the other hand, it’s extremely expensive and you have to use a lot of it to make a decent cup of tea, plus all the reservations I mentioned above.

I know I’m blaspheming, writing a negative review for a Samovar creation…please don’t hurt me!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Dan

You have to call em as you see em.

teabird

I appreciate honestly negative reviews (and discussions of price and value), even though I feel guilty when I write them myself! Constant gushing isn’t really… informative.

__Morgana__

I only had it from the sample so far, but I notice they tend to have pretty big samples compared to those of other companies.

I find personal tastes fascinating — you and I both love the Life In Teacup modern oolong and yet we diverge on the Samovar Four Seasons.

One thing I have noticed is that certain companies just seem to strike a chord with my tastes. I’ve liked everything I’ve tried from Life in Teacup and everything I’ve tried from Samovar, and there are some companies whose offerings consistently miss with me, too. But even among these there are outliers to the high and to the low end of the spectrum.

S

Yeah…I’m kind of kicking myself for not ordering samples instead. But the website said 40 servings with multiple infusions each, and yet my tin is so empty…cry

SoccerMom

Morgana, I totally agree with you in that some companies are hit and miss depending on the person/taste buds. I am with you Shanti in that I didn’t find this one remarkable but I think Samovar is a altogether miss for me anyway. :(

S

Yeah, I don’t know…I guess I’m kind of suspicious of Samovar. It’s easy for a company to jack up the price of a tea and add a bunch of made-up flavors to the description, in order to push tea. (I mean, look at all the reviews for any tea, where they’re like “I didn’t know what this stated like until I read the description, and then I was like duh!” etc….I mean, if the company says you’re supposed to taste mango, then you will probably taste mango even if it’s not truly there. But I digress.

I guess I’m sick of the way people have to be afraid of offending others now on Steepster when they write a review. I have seen numerous reviews where people are like “Oh, I don’t like this tea, but important Steepsterite said it’s omfg amazing, so I’m not going to put a rating on this/am going to raise my rating.” I don’t think people should feel coerced to either write a positive rating or not leave a rating at all.

Erin

Shanti – Did you try letting Samovar know that your tin was only half full?

S

No, but I’m guessing it’s probably the right amount (by weight…I hope the tared the weight of the copper tin out)…but it’s still not 40 servings worth.

Rabs

I guess I catch myself at times hesitating to knock a tea really hard because, well, I’m a libra, and teas are such a subjective thing. But, I hope that I never end up basing what I taste/how I feel about a tea (and almost everything else in life) on what others say. However, I do try to be respectful in what I say when I dislike something like tea because I don’t want it to come off like I’m saying that others have bad taste.

Shanti – thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. :) I know that they really made me think seriously about staying true to myself. Rock on lady!

LENA

Thanks for this review, Shanti. I have to say, I agree with you on this tea. I’m an avid oolong lover, but the description on this one seems way off. I haven’t written my tasting note yet, because like you, I’ve been trying to figure this one out. It is very FLORAL and very GREEN tasting to me. I’m not a huge fan of green oolongs, so I probably would not have bought this if I would have known that the bake-y/bready notes were BS.

Also, my tin of Downy Sprout was not very full. Very sad. :(

S

I know, right…I ordered small tins of Downy Sprout, Royal Garland, and Osmanthus White, and they were filled to varying amounts…but seriously? The Downy Sprout and Osmanthus look very similar in size, weight, yet the amount of tea in the tins varies widely. I wish I had a scale to weight how much I was sent…le sigh. One thing is for sure—Samovar will probably never get my business again.

[And as an example of a good company that does not do this, see The Simple Leaf. Their one ounce “samples” seem the same size or larger than Samovar’s half-empty tins. Sigh.]

S

Okay, sorry guys, this is my last comment, but here’s a little comparison for you:

Competition Grade Four Seasons (Si Jie Chun), zen8tea – $12 for 150g
there are cheaper versions that are lower grades available as well
Samovar Four Seasons, ambiguous grade – $24 for 56.6g

Now, of course you have to account for the fact that Samovar relies on more middlemen than the other example I cited (I assume), but still: Samovar is charging $0.42 per gram, whereas zen8tea is charging $0.08 per gram of competition grade tea. That’s a little over 5 times the price.

sophistre

Gotta say, I think Rabs really nailed it. Part of the issue with the steepster system of rating is that we’re all grading our teas subjectively, as each of us wants something different and, of course, there are peripheral concerns aside from taste that matter to us individually as well, such as price and ability to resteep, as aforementioned here.

I tend to disregard the numbers as anything but a rough guideline (so-and-so liked it, or did not) and focus more on what they had to say about it. Some of us rate based on taste alone — subjective enough to begin with, even disregarding things like price — and some of us rate based on the taste as compares to what was promised, which is not always the same (I’ve seen plenty of reviews that say ‘this tea was very enjoyable, but didn’t taste as advertised’ with a low number OR a high number)…

In the end, it’s important to remember that the numbers people assign are meaningful to them based on criteria that may have nothing to do with our own. All we can do is just try stuff, see if we like it for what it is, and rate accordingly, as consistently as we can with the stuff we’ve already rated (and I dunno about you, but that’s hard enough for me already!).

sophistre

Also…just a side note, but you might want to try the rest of what leaf you have at 175. That’s how I take mine, and I prefer it by a wide margin! I suppose that won’t make up for the disappointment of your experience, but it might produce a cup of tea you like a little bit more, at least. :)

MattHBomb

I’ve tried it at 160, 175, 185, 200, and boiling. I didn’t notice any increase in breadiness or milkiness at the lower temps, but it was a little less bitter. I prefer it that way, too :)

S

Thanks sophistre and MattHBomb for the suggestions. I’ve tried it at around 160, 185, and near boiling, but not 175…I’ll try that next time. :D

__Morgana__

195 is what I usually steep oolongs at and it got me a lot of milky/creamy/buttery flavor out of this. To get anything near bready, I had to “throw my mind out of focus.”

I take these notes by companies (perhaps naively or incorrectly) not to be random, but to mean that a more cultivated palate than mine has identified these tastes or aromas and that I can train my palate to be better by searching for the notes. Sometimes I come up dry, but sometimes I really can find them, or something that I think might be them, if I try hard enough and if the stars otherwise align in terms of steeping temps/times, mood, amount of leaf and other things I’m sure are intangible. In this one, I didn’t get what I normally would think of as bread, which is a yeasty flavor, or a dark malty flavor like a thick slice of dark bread. What I got was the white inside of hot french or Italian bread, which when I think about it has a lot in common with, and isn’t that much different from, a creamy/butter flavor anyway, which I definitely tasted.

S

I’ve always been told that a good quality oolong like a green TGY is best at boiling.

I think I mentioned this already, but Four Seasons from Nantou is usually described not as particularly buttery, but as fruity and honey-like. The main fruit flavor is supposed to be osmanthus…I’ve read pineapple at some places too, which makes sense because osmanthus is kind of pineappley-peachy-apricotty. But it’s not bready, it’s not bakey, it’s not starchy, and it’s not particularly lactose-y to me.

Auggy

It might not make a difference at this point, but out of curiosity, what size cups are you making? Takgoti sent me a sample of this a while ago and honestly, I never really got it – it just seemed kind of flat to me – until my last cup where I made a big 14oz mug instead of the 6-8oz cups I had been doing. Of course, I’m not sure if that is what made it taste so much better or what but that last cup I had was really delicious. The other cups before? Not so much.
(Though I never got bread – looking over my notes I got flowers, nectar and cattails.)

S

Ah, I’ve been doing between 6 and 8 ounces…I’ll try the bigger size one of these days :)

And flowers and nectar are what I tasted too. :)

Stephanie

I love this note! The Samovar spell has broken! :)

wombatgirl

I just wanted to ask about your label on your container. My label said to use 1 tbsp per 16 oz of water. When I went to the web site, it said 1 tsp per 10-16 oz of water.

My Royal Garland label was even worse. It said 2 tbsp per 6 oz. Which resulted in this horrid, bitter icky brew.

S

Yeah, my labels were like that, too. I’m still pissed—there’s no way in hell there’s 40 servings in my tin of a teaspoon each, let alone a tablespoon or 2.

Rabs

Shanti — just placed my first Samovar order 13 days ago and I’m already getting pissed. Not that they have a lot of control over shipping, but I was told I’d get my package on the 20th. I watched the package tracker start off in NV (?) head toward me, and now it’s in CA and heading to NV again. What the heck?!? The little “estimated delivery” when from 20th for sure to the 22nd, and now it’s saying the 25th. I’ve spent 1/4 of the money at other online tea stores and have had prompter deliveries than this. Going in a circle, really? This isn’t making a good impression on me. :P

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

84
drank Coconut Cream Pie by 52teas
92 tasting notes

Okay, okay. I know, I’m not supposed to like this. It’s coconut. It’s CTC black tea. It’s flavored. But oh, mah, gawh, this is soooo delicious with a good sized dash of milk and two heaping teaspoons of white sugar. Oh, my sweet, not-overwhelmingly-coconutty, creamy cup of dessert—I love you, I really do. And I’m sending happy thoughts to Ricky who sent me this sample, because there was no way in hell I’d buy this for myself (coconut and all). But seriously? I have a huge chest of tea that I need to finish before September, yet I went ahead and put through an order for this at 52teas because it is that good. Nom. 100 94 noms.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

74
drank Uji Gyokuro by The Jade Teapot
92 tasting notes

Haven’t had much time for tea these days, but I broke down and made myself a cup of this after I received my samples from The Jade Teapot in the mail. I think this might be the same as Art of Tea’s Uji Gyokuro, if it matters.

This is my first gyokuro, so I’m a little hesitant to rate this. The leaves are very dark green and full of chlorophyll. It seems like there are quite a few stems in this sample, so it’s probably not the greatest quality Gyokuro. I emptied the entire sample packet (about 1.5 teaspoons) in 8 ounces of water.

First steep, 45 seconds: The smell is very similar to matcha, or at least the vegetal flavor of matcha. The taste is also reminiscent of it, except less seaweedy and powdery than matcha usually is. I can’t really pick out much other than the grassy, delicious taste of the gyokuro…I’m not getting butter or gardenias, although there is a slight perfumy quality to the liquor.

Second steep, ~30 seconds: Okay, I should have only done around 5 seconds for this second steep, because it was quite bitter. Still, it was delicious. Less sweet, and more savory.

Third steep, ~2 minutes: Lighter than the second steep. More savory/umami, and a bit bitter and drying. It’s very brothy, for lack of a better word; I kind of wish it were a bit saltier. The flavors are considerably weaker, though, and there isn’t any of the sweet/buttery/green/vegetal yumminess that there was in the first two steeps. Perhaps next time, if my second steep is shorter, the third steep will still be tasty.

Overall, this was nice, although I think that there are probably some better examples of these flavors out there! It has made me curious to try more gyokuro.

Preparation
145 °F / 62 °C 0 min, 45 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

95
drank Coconut Pouchong by Golden Moon Tea
92 tasting notes

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

58

I’m not sure if this tea has gotten spoiled or not…but there’s kind of a weird smell to it. Perhaps the chocolate bits or white bits (coconut?) went rancid? shrugs

Intrepid tea drinker that I am, I went ahead and steeped up a cup, and added some milk and sugar.

At first, I was like :x but then I was like :D

Hot, this is meh. There is a slightly fruity-almost-tart-but-not-quite-tart taste that’s throwing this off for me. I can kind of taste chocolate, but no coconut. It’s just sort of average-to-strange tasting tea.

But then! I left my nearly full cup cool, and came back to it. And oh, mah, gawd. It tastes JUST like chocolate milk. It looks like chocolate milk. It smells like chocolate milk. But best of all, it TASTES like chocolate milk! :O

But, alas, I am not looking for chocolate milk, I’m looking for tea, so I’m giving this a middling score.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

84
drank Apple Pie a la mode by 52teas
92 tasting notes

I have a ton of homework left for tonight (blah) and a whole gallon of milk that expires today, so I decided to whip up some black tea. I also bought sugar for the first time! Yay! Sugar!

I’m not a /huge/ fan of apple cinnamon flavored things (although I do like apple pie), so I wasn’t expecting to like this very much. To me, it tastes like sweet (well, I added sugar and milk) apple-flavored black tea, with a generous side of creamy graham cracker and spice. I’m not tasting any vanilla, but the milk I added does give it a nice creamy feel. It’s pretty good, but just not my thing. It did, however, exceed my expectations, as I was expecting to hate it. I’m sure people who like apple flavored things will love this tea. My rating is more of a personal preference thing, and not a reflection of whether or not this tea tastes like it should/good. Thank you Ricky for the sample :)

Edit: There’s almost a coffee-with-vanilla-creamer-ish taste to my cooled down cup…an interesting development!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 30 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

84
drank Coconut Cream Pie by 52teas
92 tasting notes

A big thank you to Ricky, for sending me some of this tea!

I used to hate coconut, but ever since trying Golden Moon’s Coconut Pouchong I’ve been feeling braver about it. So, of course the first tea I picked out of Ricky’s lovely package is this one. I usually prepare teas I’m tasting for the first time without additives like milk and sugar, and at the recommended steeping parameters. Instead, I made this with milk and sweetener, as multiple people mentioned how it tasted better as a latte.

The dry tea has a very light smell, at least compared to the Coconut Pouchong. Steeped up, it’s delicious. Creamy, and just slightly coconutty—but that’s fine with me. Unfortunately, I only had Splenda in my apartment, so it’s giving the tea a kind of funky taste (I can’t stand Splenda anymore, for some reason!) but otherwise, this is a lovely dessert tea. It’s very basic, but I like basic. I’m pretty sure once I make room in my tea chest for more, I’ll be ordering a package of this for myself.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec
LiberTEAS

Stephanie: me too… I think… since Frank tells us (teasingly even) that next week’s tea is too good to pass up, I shall order this one when I place my order for his new tea next week…

LiberTEAS

That wasn’t very nice Stephanie, now it looks like I’m talking to my invisible friend named Stephanie that nobody else can see or hear…

S

Haha! Don’t worry, I know that Stephanie was here at some point…

Ricky

Sally, what? You heard Frank was going to announce white chocolate matcha!?!? Stop lying!

Julie, hey, shush you!

Joshua, who are you? Stop talking to me.

I’m not crazy!

Shantea, glad you liked it! Shantea’s a real person… it’s not my imaginary friend… shantea? where are you! ahhhh!!

Cinoi

white chocolate matcha….I am definitely buying this with my next 52teas order, it was fantastic!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

96

You know how there’s that whole anti-woman b-s stereotype of women always trying to change their partners? Well, I think I’ve been acting out that stereotype—yikes. Because Jackee ain’t no dessert man—-he’s pure smoke, pine, savory velvet. And I don’t know why I spent so long trying to change him to some kind of caramelized wimp, because he is pretty awesome as he is. Giving him a huge ratings bump.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Stephanie

lol!! Love this note! :)

Doulton

Wonderful! Jackee is who he is, and that’s quite close to a walking, brawling, burly divinity.

Ricky

LOL! Hhahahah =P Jackee needs to talk a stroll into Jacqueline’s garden now and show Thomas whose boss. Thomas was always picking on poor Jackee calling him sweet and sugary. Nope Jackee ain’t going to take that no more.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

95
drank Coconut Pouchong by Golden Moon Tea
92 tasting notes

This is so delicious. First, let me just say that I am not a fan of coconut. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, the smell of coconut tends to to make me queasy, due to a bad experience as a teenager with coconut rum. Anyway, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this tea—on the one hand, it’s award winning. On the other, I hate coconut. Well, this tea definitely has changed my mind about coconut, because it’s absolutely scrumptious (ha, I love that word).

The dry leaves are dark green and long and thin, and smell like coconut milk, cream, and maybe the lightest toasty scent. I can’t smell any tea at all. After steeping, the scent of the infusion is the same as the dry leaf, with a hint of pouchong. Surprisingly, the flavor is actually a very nice, even balance of pouchong and coconut, and they meld together seamlessly. The flavor doesn’t just sit on top of the pouchong, but seems to be intertwined with it. The ratio of flavoring to tea was nicely done, so it doesn’t feel like I’m drinking just coconut flavoring with a hint of tea, or tea with a hint of coconut. And oh, the flavor is delicious. There’s a custard note to the infusion as well, and at times it feels like I’m sipping coconut milk, not tea.

I only have a sample of this, so I’m going to have to get my hands on some more. I can see myself drinking this a lot!

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Rabs

You’ve given me hope for this sample! Everytime I rifle through the basket I see this one and go “mmm…not so much.” I’ve just never cared for coconut, but now I’m quite curious. :)

S

Yes! Give it a try, you might like it. It’s more like coconut-milk-custard-green-oolong tea than almond-joy-coconut-rum-barf-ness. Heh. :)

teabird

That’s really good to hear! I was nervous about this sample too, not being a coconut fan.

teaplz

Yaaaaay for the coconut pouchong amazingness!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Profile

Bio

Busy college student; 20 years old; tea-novice. Grew up on homemade chai and black tea with milk and sugar.

Following These People

Moderator Tools

Mark as Spammer