Featured & New Tasting Notes
Early spring material from Wan Gong (high altitude Yiwu village located near Gua Feng Zhai) which is supplemented by 10% from LBZ and Bing Dao. The cake itself is beautiful – beautiful whole leaves which have been well handled and carefully processed. Smooth and sweet from the first sip with a light buttery mouthfeel. In later steepings the bitterness increases but certainly not in an unpleasant way. There is a lingering sweet aftertaste to remind one that this is primarily YiWu area material. Nice mellowing Qi hits after the third cup. These leaves are excellent and the tea offers a very appealing mix of sweet and bitter. This tea is a winner and I definitely must give this tea a high recommendation. Note: I was fortunate enough to purchase one of the last 200g pressings of this cake which reduced my cost. I just checked the website and it seems they are now selling only the 357g cakes.
Another sample from the generous Will. This one was really nice. A little bit of a kick to the chai, but not SUPER strong. The clove taste didn’t overpower (i hate that in chai’s) and the ginger was really great. I am always a fan of ginger related teas and this one is no exception. Also a really interesting constrast from the floral which has that sour pop and freshness to it. this is more heavy, spicy… i think this would be pretty great in winter, especially brewed up in some milk! thanks will!
Last night was my monthly tea inventory. Thanks to my continued sip down adventures, I’m down to 292 teas in my collection.
Due to my tea hoarding tendencies, I have 3 different versions of this tea:
Autumn of 2013 – The bag I’m currently working on
Spring of 2014
Autumn of 2014
This is what happens when you fall in love with a tea, & think you have to buy it relentlessly, over & over again, because once upon a time they ran out & I didn’t get to drink it for awhile. Although it’s not the same as that first season, it’s still pretty damn good! I haven’t bought any from 2015, because I need to drink what I have.
Part of me really wants to open all three bags, and do lots of side by side sipping sessions, to document how they differ from one another. But then I’d have 3 unsealed bags.
Anyway, this is a lovely tea, which I’ve described plenty of times already. It was my first tea of the day, and I’m also using it to refill my Kombucha crock today. I have plenty of it, and I bet it will be a wonderful brew!
When the tea was really hot it tasted sort of thin, but as it cooled it became more full bodied and absolutely decadent. I taste marshmallow – I guess that is the crème brûlée. It also has a lovely caramel vanilla flavor. It’s like drinking a dessert that would have had hundreds of calories in it. This isn’t a chocolate cupcake, it is a vanilla cupcake – maybe a vanilla cupcake with caramel icing! The finish is long lasting, sweet and decidedly caramel. I don’t taste almond at all so it must just be in there supporting the other flavors.
Full review and photos: https://tealover.net/2015/07/tea-temptations-cup-cake/
So I think I mentioned in a tasting note last night that I’m spending a few days in Regina with my parents; I ‘lucked out’ (so to speak) and got three days off from work in a row so I thought I’d take advantage and come up for a trip to see their new place! It’s actually really nice; very classy layout and in a really nice part of town on a little bay-type area. They’ve got seven neighbors, and have already been welcomed to a neighborhood/community barbecue. I feel like they’re really gonna get along with their neighbors and like the area. And the backyard is just huge – there are five massive pine trees in the backyard and a huge garden space and gazebo. And with my step mom retiring not too long ago I think taking care of this huge area is the perfect project/hobby for her.
Unfortunately, there happens to be a ton of forest fires currently right outside of the city right now so the entire area is very foggy/smokey right now and the sky is this ugly shade of grey. You’d never know the fire was taking place outside of town; it’s intense. We had the window open for a while and now the whole house smells like smoke…
But that aside; I had this cold brewed on the trip into the city. It was a little different than it normally comes out. There was a surprising abundance of apple notes and a bit of a tartness from the rosehips that hasn’t been so bright in the past. The ginger and pear were both strong and refreshing though and consistent enough with past experiences that it didn’t totally feel like drinking a different tea.
PS. Before and after pictures of the city…
The first package in my 52 Teas Kickstarter pledge arrived late last week and I have been desperately anxious to tear into them and start trying but since I was traveling over the weekend I was hesitant to open them up away from my Breville tea maker as I have strong memories of how temperamental the black base was when Frank owned the company.
It was a difficult decision this morning trying to decide what I wanted to try first but since it was breakfast time I went with the coconut french toast.. First, I gotta say, that I adore the cute little taster sized packets!! Half an ounce is the perfect size to try a tea without having to commit to something you may not like.. spoiler alert, this one is definately going on my repurchase list ASAP in the larger size!!
The scent of this tea is spot on! I get the coconut, the cardamom, the maple syrup and a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg… Taste wise, this is delicious!! Especially with a splash of milk to really bring out the creamy butteriness of french toast. A complete winner in my book and I’m now SUPER excited to try out the other four teas I have… I think next I’ll have to try Lemon Cheesecake Bar.. after all it is almost afternoon tea time!!
The mouthfeel on this brew was incredible – I have a Steepster friend who calls it “pudding mouth” and I don’t think it was until today that I fully understood what she meant. It’s not that the tea was thick because it wasn’t really thicker than any other tea, but it had a wonderful mouth-coating quality that made it seem extremely decadent. If you are a texture person, you will love this tea.
The flavor definitely conveys the description on Kat’s site, which says the tea is the “perfect blend to drink on a chill night in a hobbit hole.” While I was drinking it I found that I had a cozy feeling just because of the tea’s flavors. A bit of toffee, a bit of spice, wonderfully balanced with the black base. I was transported to a place where it was cold outside but I was cozy and warm inside, maybe watching snow fall outside a window. Comfort in a cup.
Full review and photos: https://tealover.net/2015/06/solstice-brews-hobbit-hearthwarmer/
This was a fun tea until a lingering taste started to develop. This tea has my arch enemy red rooibos in it. The first part of each sip was fantastic. Chamomile with a bit of a honey baked apple cinnamon flavor. Towards the end is when I started to notice that oh too familiar woodsy medicinal flavor. This may not be the first chamomile tea I would grab to end the night but it is one I would like to experiment more with to see if I can somehow mute the red rooibos flavor. I really enjoyed the chamomile and green rooibos combo. Anybody know of any teas that are like this without the red rooibos?
What the freakin’ crap!? This isn’t lemon at all. Lemon my foot! I feel so betrayed! D:
This is TOTALLY orange flavor! Eww Eww Eww!
I totally smelled it when I opened the bag and I was hoping the actual taste would be different. But it wasn’t. :(
It was like drinking hot orange juice.
I hate this tea so muchhh.
Such a betrayal. D:
Yeah I’m just gonna give this one away for free. Not my thing at all. Ewww I just can’t do it. BLehhh :S
Flavors: Citrus, Orange
Nothing new to share about this tea. It is bold, tart, a little bright & dark, all at the same time. It was my last cup this morning before I hit the road.
I’m driving 2 hours to play a 3 hour gig, spending the night because I’ll be playing late, it pays well, and I can afford a hotel! So I’ve packed teas, my electric kettle, etc, and will enjoy a quiet night away…kind of a paid vacation, really :)
The instructions said to brew the tea for three to five minutes, so I went for four. The flavor was lighter than I expected. Tasty and tropical, but I wasn’t smacked in the face by the flavor. It also had the tiniest bit of astringency on the finish but it wasn’t unpleasant.
It was very nice but not remarkable. Hot it was a tea that I could definitely finish but might or might not reorder it.
And then I iced it.
Full review and photos: https://tealover.net/2015/06/specialtea-teas-organic-caribbean-cooler/
There is nothing I don’t love about this tea. I love the name, love the packaging, love the tea! I don’t drink unflavored teas that often but this tea proves to me that I need to. Such a fabulous tea. Raisin like with malty touches. No astringency. Just a smooth well balanced tea that I have been drinking every day for the past week. So Good!
I had the pleasure of visiting this tea shop in person last Saturday. They were about to close and the owner Donna was kind enough to stay a little late to show me around and tell me about her teas. The shop is chock full of vintage teaware and other goodies! Donna was extremely kind to me. She had heard of Steepster but did not realize a few of her teas were already reviewed here! I wish I could have bought more of her teas but she didn’t have any sample sizes so I picked two different packages and then she included a couple of free samples with my purchase. She does her own blending and sources organic teas whenever she can which is super cool. Also she uses locally made chocolate AND gummy bears in some of her teas!
ANYWAY, this herbal tea. I was so curious because the first ingredient is eucalyptus! Not sure I’ve ever had that in a tea before. This tea has a LOT going on. I am actually impressed with how balanced this tastes. None of the strong elements are sticking out. There is a cooling sensation from the mint and eucalyptus. I am a very picky person about my herbals and I am impressed! My only complaint is not really a complaint, more of a personal preference thing. I’m not sure the black tea is adding anything flavor wise and if it were omitted I’d be able to drink this one in the evenings and not worry about the caffeine!
Nice first experience with this tea seller.
This is gonna be a long vent. Pardon my whining, I just need to write :P
Ugh. You ever feel like your tea cupboard owns you?
I keep drinking and sipping down samples, yet somehow my stash never seems to decrease. People give me tea or I break down and make an order(kickstarter 52teas only so far, since black Friday!). Or David’s lures me in with their enticing blue signage… (which only happens every few months and no more than $7-8 at a time. but I do like to keep abreast of their offerings).
I was doing quite well for awhile. And then I don’t know what happened, it just started slipping! eeesh. Without making any purchases at all my cupboard seems to have increased?! I found a bag of tea that I’d forgotten about, and then got a few things as gifts… then the travelling tea box… and voila, cupboard progress destroyed. Sighs.
I so badly wanted to make a new purchase soon… but with my 52teas kickstarter splurge coming in soon (yay for that!) and a few other things from way back… errr that just doesn’t seem feasible. I really need to update with some fresh stuff, most of mine is a bit stale… doesn’t help that I keep drinking all the new stuff first haha. Anyhow. Rant is over.
On the bright side, this is a sipdown!! a rather tasteless one. Seems it lost all flavour even though it was in a box without sun exposure in my cupboard. Bah.
On a personal level… the doc my GP referred me to, who was supposed to call me for an appointment? I was told to call them if I didn’t hear back within two weeks. Except they rarely answer the darn phone. Finally got ahold of them today and guess what? turns out he isn’t accepting patients. GP wasn’t in today, so now I’m back to waiting all over again. Ugh. I just want to get this over with so I can finally move on. Why must it take forever… (I started the process in March. In the meantime I haven’t been able to work).
The mother of one of my Harp students requested tea this morning, so I made a nice big pot of this one. I haven’t been drinking it as much lately, it seems to have lost it’s appeal to me, probably because I tend to like it sweetened a little, and I’m not really sweetening things anymore, or at least not very often. But that isn’t to say I don’t like it, because it’s still pretty tasty!
This batch is from Feb of 2014, so it’s been on my shelf for awhile. I think there is also another bag of it upstairs in my archives, which is probably a little newer, maybe from Fall. I pledge to polish this bag off so I can start on the new one!
Another sample from Happy Earth Tea. This has a very appropriate name because it seems like a bouquet of flowers to me. As others have remarked this isn’t a “black” tea in the traditional sense, it steeps up fairly light similar to a darjeeling. I got a yellow tea liquor color from this. This is a very gentle, uplifting tea with no astringency or bitterness. I get the raisin like sweetness and the nuttiness in this blend. Combined with the floral nose, this is pretty dreamy. I would drink this as an afternoon tea it’s so mild and refreshing. No need for sweetener or milk! Would probably be good iced as well.
I am saving up to get a large order from HET but need to try all my samples first. I think this is going in the “buy” list for me. :)
I am quite fond of Nepali teas. Did you know 10% of Happy Earth’s Nepali teas go to the Ama Foundation? check it out. http://happyearthtea.com/pages/social-partners
So, this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I was super busy, swamped even, with deciding what I am doing with my life. No really, yours truly might be going on an epic adventure pretty soon! No spoilers yet, because I do not have all the details and such, but I can safely say I am excited and a little scared. Unless something goes drastically wrong (like my computer explodes again) it won’t affect the blog long term, there might be a week or so where I don’t update, but I will be sure to let everyone know ahead of time.
Since I missed my What-Cha Wednesday review, this will be a rare What-Cha Thursday! Today it is time to revisit the country of Malawi with Malawi Bvumbwe Handmade Treasure Black Tea, I was really blow away by their Antler and Peony White Teas, so I am super excited to dive into the Satemwa Estate’s Handmade Treasure Black Tea. For a while I was rather apprehensive about trying new black teas from Africa, a few nasty run-ins with some particularly dirty tasting Kenyan black teas unfairly soured me on the whole continent for a while. Really, quite narrow minded of me, but they were really gross. Anyway, onto more pleasant things, like these lovely twisted dark leaves! The aroma is pretty rich, blending notes of an oak brandy cask with roasted peanuts and yams, and a touch of loam and spice. Something about the way this tea smells reminds me of home, not any homes that I have lived in, but a feel of ‘home’ yes people, this tea smells like a concept to me.
After steeping the leaves (they get rather huge post steeping) and giving them a good sniffing, I am pleasantly surprised by the fruity notes that have now shown up. It has the oak wood and slight earthiness of the dry leaves, but now with a blend of cherries and orange zest with a hint of cocoa, oh yeah, and a spice finish. A little like allspice and a little like nutmeg, with a faint sweetness to go with it. The liquid has a lot more of the spice notes, definitely allspice with pepper, and a tiny hint of nutmeg. There are also strong notes of cocoa and cherry, with just a delicate hint of orange zest and distant flowers.
The tea has a definite briskness to it, and is quite bright, the texture is light and it really livens up the mouth, kinda like liquid sunshine for a morning wake up, without being really overbearing. I am really picky about how brisk and astringent I like my black teas, and not just because they tend to give me a belly ache, I find when they are really intense they are just too overbearing, much like some people find mint too much or flowery teas. I like my black teas (more traditional western style ones, not the delicate Chinese reds) to have just a little bite to them. The taste is both robust and sweet, blending creamy notes of cocoa (bordering between milk and dark) and peanut butter, with earthy notes of sweet potatoes and woody notes of oak. The finish is a delicate mix of cherries and orange zest with a citrus aftertaste that lingers. I feel this tea has the potential to be a really iconic morning tea, proving once again that the Satemwa Tea Estate has some mad skills.
Revisiting this “gentle” tea built upon Manzhuan material found in the broader YiWu area. Softer and definitely less aggressive taste with a pleasant rather sweet lingering aftertaste. I always enjoy drinking it on a low-key day. Nice big leaves which have remained in-tact in the loosely compressed cake. Golden yellow tea soup with a sip that is not at all bitter and tastes of light stonefruit. The tea becomes a little sweeter with successive brews but it is never “powerfully” sweet. Not an earthy tea but should be considered a sweet tea carefully processed with high quality whole tea leaves.
I am definitely happy with this ff darjeeling sample I got from Happy Earth tea.
I brewed up my whole 5g sample because I was using a tea tumbler for this one. The predominate note I am getting is fruity. I thought peach/nectarine but it has a little bit of pineapple too. There seems to be a slight nuttiness about it as well. Only a hint of astringency in the finish but that might be because I steeped it too long. I did get a 2nd steep out of this that brought forth more pineapple and slight lemony notes.I haven’t tried all my samples yet but will definitely consider getting a large size of this now. Sorry I can’t write more because I’m at work but it’s delicious!
Tin Roof’s Turkish Delight tea looks beautiful. Long twisty black leaves, whole pistachios, sliced almonds, cardamom pods, pink peppercorns. The dry leaf smells lightly spiced and exotic.
Full review and photos: https://tealover.net/2015/06/tin-roof-teas-turkish-delight/
I tried this with hubby last night. I did a rinse of about 5 seconds and then kept this tea at 30 second steeps based on the description.
The first steeps were grassy and had a little “bite”, but not unpleasantly so. It was the same sort I get from Chun Mee, which usually finishes with a late rising sweet note. Hubby said he didn’t notice it, but most reviewers on here mention it and I definitely got it in the first four steeps.
The fifth and sixth steeps were sweeter, lacked the bite, and became ever so slightly creamy. These were my favorite steeps of the evening. Strangely, the sweet aftertaste came in here instead of on the early steeps where I expected it, and it was light and fleeting.
If you like sheng with a little muscle but no real violent tendencies, this could be a hit!