Featured & New Tasting Notes
Not to rub it in, but it was a delicious 54 degrees this morning. Don’t you just love that first turn in the weather when you trot out the teas you’ve been craving after a sweltering summer? This one is a cocoa-y, bourbon-y treat. I wish I could say it curbs my chocolate cravings; unfortunately, it prompts them.
This tea is the beverage representation of that friend who you like in theory and share a lot of interests with, but they’ve got a lot going on that they need to work through and you try to enjoy them but you just end up having to work through it with them, too, so it’s better if you just kind of leave them to do their thing.
I opened the bag and my first impression was to be incredibly impressed. Big chunks of freeze-dried strawberry, visible chocolate chips – I smelled the leaves and could practically feel that moist, chilled chocolate that invariably melts on your fingers the second you bite into that strawberry. You could smell the depth of the chocolate, the way it kind of overpowers the smell of the fruit, you could sense the strawberry inside – every texture by association. They absolutely nailed the smell of a chocolate covered strawberry.
Strangely enough, the aroma emanating from the brewed cup – which was strikingly pale for a black tea – was not that of chocolate or strawberry, but rose. This prompted a review of the ingredients list. Not only rose petals, but organic cheesecake flavoring was also afoot. This gave the cup an unwarranted tartness that I did not anticipate from the leaves at all. It was the type of tartness that clings to the back of your tongue and the roof of your mouth – I had to really study the flavor in my mouth to regain those chocolate notes, which seemed to dissipate into nowhere. The feeling is something akin to that if you opened the fridge to find out your picky kid had breached your secret strawberry stash and sucked the chocolate off them, leaving only the bitter strawberries of your resentment and the memory of a sugar fix that could have been.
Probably anybody with a more sophisticated palate will be able to appreciate the tartness as reflective of strawberry, and also sort out those evasive chocolate flavors, but as for me – I will ruminate on the fruits of my discontentment.
Flavors: Chocolate, Rose, Tart
I’m pretty disappointed in this one. They only had the 150g bag, so I have a ton of it too. I don’t taste anything pancakey. It’s only weird lemon. I guess that’s from the fermented lemon. So this just turned into a not very pleasant lemon tea. It’s not refreshing since it’s too heavy. The lemon sort of just attacks your throat. Shorter steep for this one.
This one is from Ost a while ago now. Thanks, Ost! Sadly has a ‘drink by 2016’ on the bag, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ve had this a few times and think it’s best at this point with two teaspoons. The leaves are large with only hints of the namesake gold. The flavor most reminds me of a Fujian black and then forgot that this IS a Fujian tea (face smack)— cocoa powder with a hint of smoke but also something that can remind me of lychee (so not really that much of a Fujian black in flavor, I don’t normally get lychee with those). The second cup is more sour plum and rye bread, so the change is interesting. A malty, rustic tea, seems aged somehow (and I don’t mean from 2016) that seems perfect for this time of year. I liked how I steeped this, note to self. This seems to be holding up with age, but these poor What-cha teas certainly deserve better. I just checked and luckily other than this tea, it’s just some small What-cha oolong samples that comprise the What-cha part of my collection. I like samples. Samples are good.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
2020 Sipdowns: 72 AprTea -Fenghuang Dancong Oolong Tea Honey Rhyme Mellow Grade One
Crazy morning today! I’m working from home and fielding a bunch of different cross department type things, but also it’s officially a week from when the podcast I’ve been working on for the last few months officially launches!!
More details, and also a sneak peak for Steepster friends, here:
I’m drinking mostly bagged teas this morning – in part because of the September Sipdown prompt but also because they’re fast and easy in a very chaotic morning of managing all these different things! Plus, this is honestly the best butterscotch flavour that I’ve ever had in any tea and while I’m sometimes annoyed that this delicious flavour is on a bagged tea instead of something loose leaf, today I’m very appreciative of having such a delicious bagged option!
At last we have another truly cool evening with low humidity! After broiling through days with a heat index of 104F as recently as a week ago, we are going to dip into the 50’s tonight! I have been waiting for this all day.
As soon as we dipped below 65F, I suggested to my husband a bit of rocking chair time on the back porch with a cuppa.
I made this latte style, heating the milk first and continuing to heat it for about one minute with the leaves added, then off the heat and steeping for another three to four minutes. I usually sweeten my lattes and I did add sugar to this one.
I get a lot of chamomile in the aroma but mostly taste the spice – pumpkin spice and cardamom. Oh, I love cardamom in blends like this!
Drinking it, I noticed a tingling warm sensation in my mouth from the ginger. I can imagine how delightful that will be when the temperatures are truly cold!
I am so glad this has honeybush as the base instead of the ubiquitous red rooibos which is not a favorite of mine. I greatly prefer honeybush or green rooibos in its place. This carries the spices so much better and lets them shine more, in my opinion.
It passed the husband test and was deemed as a worthy bedtime treat. And now the warm milk and chamomile combo have made me sleepy, so off to bed!
A tea from dreamloomer, thank you a lot!
I took the bag out of foil wrapping and a cloud of spices appeared. At first I thought it was dust, but it wasn’t.
Hints of matcha should be in, but anyway, I brewed it with boiling water.
THIS IS HOT Chai!
It’s very spicy; flavours were mostly pepper and cloves… cinnamon was there as well. Base was probably from orange as it was bit sweet but still somehow tangy. Haven’t noticed the apples!
Whoo, it was maybe too much spicy for me. I am not sure if I will drink second bag or will send it to someone; as it could be lovely as Advent tea (if we decide to make advent teas for others, see discussions! )
Flavors: Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Orange Zest
When I first reviewed this last year, I noted that it’s maple first, then ginger. Allow me to reverse the order. (Hey, if you’ve read my reviews over the years, I’m nothing if not inconsistent!) Gently sweet, but not overdone.
It’s still a very nice autumn option, which I need to try with milk. This would latte nicely.
Thank you so much for passing this along, derk! derk wasn’t thrilled with this one and we had a swap we were building, so I requested this one. I love these types of pu-erh that look like a candy bar that you break a piece from. This one just happened to have lilies in it. By the time the fourth steep had unraveled in the basket, there was an entire big lily blossom floating at the top, not to mention the smaller petals throughout. Wow! It’s amazing how tea unravels sometimes. The flavor was very consistent throughout all four steeps. A very dark shu — I couldn’t really taste anything floral per se, but the pu-erh is very delicious on it’s own. The main note being starchy and bakey like a good rye bread. Nothing offensive here at all. But also not terribly distinct. I do like how dark it is though! Now that it’s cooler weather… let the great chai avalanche commence!
Steep #1 // 1 square for full mug // 20 minutes after boiling // rinse // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 5 min steep
Steep #4 // just boiled // 11 min steep
And another SIPDOWN goes to Puerh. Still lots of tea remains.
Made about 20 seconds rinse. Or — stove → my table rinse ? Haha. Yep, it was that “far”.
Rinse was fine. Bit bland and vegetal, but yes, there was some taste. Now I let the leaf absorb humidity, I think it is for 5 minutes (reading some not important things all over the internet), thinking about my cross-US trip that I want to make happen, but not anytime soon. Train stops in Elko, NV; but what to do there? There are amazing mountains, but not sure if I want hike there alone?! And where is any public transport (okay, to be honest I know I need car rental)
First steep is around 20 seconds as well. Apparently humidity entered the leaves well, as it is more flavourful, though not a big leap forward. It seems to me roasted which is weird for sheng and for that I noticed before. But pu-erhs have so weird paths sometimes. For example, wet leaf smells after jasmine, okay!
Second, I decided to make bit longer (30 seconds actually, if somebody even cares); and wet leaf aroma tends to be more malty-honey-black tea like. I feel like my nose is playing some game with me today because I couldn’t recognize twice the same stuff even it doesn’t changed since then (no additional steep or anything like that). Taste buds are feeling another vegetal notes with some menthol cooling effect. Interesting and very enjoyable.
Following steep was just a tiny bit longer. 10 seconds to be exact. Steeping slowly don’t kill the tea fast. It just keeps nice qualities and while I would say that vegetal notes aren’t great, they actually aren’t. But it suits the tea session today and yep, would like some fruits, but hey, there is nothing wrong with vegetals.
Another steep. I somehow lost myself in thoughts, and ideas and everything. Well, I actually indeed enjoy the free time and free mind I have now! And result is long, a minute long (maybe bit less) steep. Huh… Results are nice though and I got the wished fruit notes. Yes, it started getting a peach taste.
Uhh, now it is herbal. But like too much basil and nettle. Not very tasty. But it was shorter than last time.
I guess this is one of the last steeps. Little fruits and herbals. But it was at least smoother than last time.
Okay, last steep. I am steeping this tea for an hour, which isn’t a problem, but ran out of water in thermos. It was nice session, but it’s time to move on. The tea is past its best time as well. It reminds me now only a bitter water without much pleasing taste. Interesting how it can go so abruptly.
This was in a package labelled chocolate stout, which I was very excited to try. It turns out to be a herbal instead. Regardless, I thought it would make a good morning cup since I love chocolate teas.
I do like the cocoa shells, it tastes like cocoa or dark chocolate. I’m not really getting orange flavour. There is some bitter citrus rind and some citrusy herbs (lemon balm), but nothing that tastes like a Terry’s chocolate orange. I LOVE orange chocolate. It is one of my favourite chocolate flavours. This needs some vanilla and more creaminess to really sell the chocolate aspect (although, the cocoa shells are a great start). The orange flavour isn’t there. Adding some dried orange pieces or orange essence might help. I’m not sure why a blend called chocolate orange wouldn’t have any orange in it, but it really should.
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus Zest, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate
It wasn’t Steepster who ate my tasting note this time. It was my laptop who died of low batter all of sudden.
Again a celebration tea.
I passed yesterday an exam from Algorithms and programming, yes, it is that one I failed week ago. It was close-call though even this time… but I have managed it.
I overleafed badly this tea though. I have used all remaining 7 grams for my small-ish gaiwan. But somehow I wanted to get rid of it. I remembered it wasn’t much impressive as I have hoped, but today it was better actually?
Yes, I wasn’t taking much care — I just filled thermos with boiling water and slowly I was pouring it into gaiwan, did some random long steep and poured the tea to my tea cup.
Wasn’t caring about it. That led to several not so tasty steeps. But then even short ones were nice! I noticed vegetal notes, sometimes it was full of astringency and bitterness, but following shorter notes brought the cake flavours. It was creamy, cake-y, some stonefruits (as actual fruit), sometimes bit juicy. It wasn’t typical poundcake flavours which I would expect, but it was pretty much okay.
I wasn’t that impressed about this tea though. Last time I was careful and was okay, this time I wasn’t careful and it was… just nice sheng. Nice sheng that impressed me with its energy that it gave me, although I am bit trying to not associate tea with some other aspects, I noticed something similar as Togo said. I was somehow filled with all the ideas i want to make true, what places I want to visit and even I decided to check out how to travel to Ljubljana (Slovenia) as I want to visit this country with my Swiss friend (I wrote about her here few times already). It is bit weird, but I don’t want go there with my best friend. Maybe because he isn’t that much into sights and those things. Maybe I just want have vacation wihout him.
Hmm. Slovenia don’t want Czechs in their country now though. Hopefully it will get better and maybe it will be something I won’t forget. But for sure I won’t forget that promise of visit!
Raising the rating a bit.
Flavors: Cake, Creamy, Stonefruits
This is not something I would normally have as a cold brew, but I do like pushing myself out of my comfort zone with cold brews and since it does lean bubblegum-y I thought it might work out okay. The brew was interesting; it actually came out pretty thin in terms of flavour though the body and flavour of the black tea was still surprisingly robust. The thinner flavour though actually resulted in it tasting less like bubblegum and more of the spice notes coming out which resulted in more of the “toddy” like flavour that probably should have been present in the first place.
It was a nice brew and really easy to finish off, but I think I actually prefer the less accurate to the name tasting flavour that emerges when you prepare this as a hot tea.
Last night I had a killer migraine from nowhere that made me want abdicate my head, neck and shoulders and go live in my stomach or something. It’s still kind of lingering on the left side but it’s not even a quarter as bad as last night. It did leave me a delightful red spot on my forehead between the eyes (this has happened before, but still fml). So, I’m a little grumpy and out of sorts today.
I decided to dive into this tea because I’ve been hoarding it for too long, holding out hope that WP would get more of this or Premium Assam in stock and not sell out in 10 minutes (never happens). It’s starting to age and today it was more tart jam than powdered sugar and baked bread (still some of that though).
This is still one of my favourite teas, along with Premium Taiwanese Assam, so I thought I’d give Taiwan Tea Crafts Yuchi Wild Mountain Black Tea a try to see if it’s comparable (what do the “lots” mean? So confused), as well as some from What-Cha that look similar. Here’s hoping (otherwise, it’s good to try new things!).
Steep Count 2
Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Dates, Malt, Plums, Powdered sugar, Sweet Potatoes
Today’s #septembersipdown prompt on Instagram is to cold brew a tea you never have before. This is a bit of a cheat because I haven’t had this tea before at all so of course that includes never having it as a cold brew.
This is fine. It’s actually on the bland side. I get sort of cherry and sort of rose and sort of green tea but it’s all really subtle. I cold brewed this for over 12 hours so it should have more flavor but it just doesn’t.
The more I drink, the more the green tea base builds and there is a little bitterness that is making me thing cough syrup with the hint of cherry. So maybe I’m not loving this so much.
Had it in the afternoon, approx. 3 hours ago. I will try to recall at least something.
The dry leaf aroma was quite interesting and not that appealing for me. Noticed some sweet stonefruits as cherries, maybe tiny hints of apricots but mostly tobacco.
But I decided to brew 4 grams per 300 ml, freshly boiled water and… that’s different story.
That story is about strong malt and dried plums. Today I learned it is called prune in English. So okay, malt and prune.
The story starts with wonderful copper colour of the brew. It is dark copper with lots of shine and clear colour. I steeped it for 4 minutes and… it was just right.
First sips were somehow normal, typical malty Assam profile. But then the explosion of taste did the bang! Malt, prunes, some woody notes (eastkyteaguy noticed cedar, while I think more about sandalwood, sweet notes as molasses (another stuff I never had chance to try, but I imagine being it like that), dates and figs (as he noticed and I have to agree).
One of the most complex Assams I had. The aftertaste was long and it was very energizing! Would like more than 25 grams, but paying my one and half shift money for whole box (which looks amazing though) is way too much. But it’s worth every penny.
Thank you a lot Alistair and White Antlers. Truly exceptional tea!
Flavors: Apricot, Cherry, Dates, Fig, Malt, Molasses, Plums, Tobacco, Wood
Tried to gong-fu it today and it was bit better.
4 grams — 85 ml.
It was still quite malty, but noticed more — some hints of sweet cherries, raisins, pear, cinnamon. The last one was prounced as well in something like aftertaste, but it wasn’t much strong. I had much stronger aftertaste in other teas.
72 → 80
Flavors: Cherry, Cinnamon, Pear, Raisins
Interesting colour of the leaves from Alistair, behalf of White Antlers. They are brown, black, bit yellow of them; quite long and wire-like, some are more compressed, some are opened a bit. Looks indeed hand-made :) Two of them weren’t same.
I went rather carefully with tea (and I haven’t read Daylon R Thomas’s tasting note before) and haven’t used water directly off the hob as well. I have added tea bag to hot cuppa.
It wasn’t steeping rapidly. Well, I have used 3 grams only, so I have steeped it for 5 minutes.
Aroma I have expected malt, but it rather produced floral notes. Hints of sweet ones as fruit tree flowers. Daylon’s note says orange blossoms, but I never sniffed them, so I have no idea how they smell like. He says red grapes, while I would rather say white ones.
Anyway, the taste, even after that long steep, is light. Light, fruity & juicy, fresh notes of citrus fruits (but not strongly, rather hints of their peels) and in the end some very light malty and muscatel aftertaste.
Need to dig more to rate it properly.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Fruit Tree Flowers, Grapes
Another grandpa attempt of oolong today. Two teaspoons were too much though for my 300 ml glass cup.
April 2020 harvest
Tea from White Antlers again though, so THANK YOU :)
This tea tasted pretty much medicore to me. I mean, certainly it’s not bad, but I only noticed its malty profile, bit sweet notes. Haven’t noticed any stonefruits, but maybe as prepared grandpa it was lost in the malt?
As others said, it is tea that haven’t got any flaws, but overall it is just quite okay oolong without much complex flavour profile. Good for times, when you want an oolong, but you don’t want to care about all the notes that could be in.
Thanks though White Antlers and Alistair who selected it for me :) Not every tea is tea for special occasions. I haven’t expected anything, so it will be good tea for upcoming fall, when I would like to drink tea, but won’t have time to enjoy it fully!
The Great Un-Steepstering of 2020 Review #11 (08/25/20)
Rather than adding a bunch more individual entries to the (already giant and slow) database when these dry herbs essentially taste like what you would expect when you steep them in water (What, you mean lavender tastes of lavender and ginger tastes of ginger?! Stop the presses!), I’m going to collect these all here since I’ve been using my loose plain herbal infusions stash in a few different ways I want to document.
Culinary Lavender by Silver Fox Lavender Farm
As a bonified lavender fan, this is the one I’ve gotten the most creative with so far. I bought quite a bit from a stall at a Farmer’s Market in Boise (yay supporting local farmers!) so thankfully I still have quite a bit of lavender buds still in-house.
My first endeavor was making lavender-infused hot cocoa by following the recipe here (https://www.teatulia.com/recipes/earl-grey-hot-chocolate-mix.htm), only the portions were so huge (I ended up giving bags to both Todd and my sister!) that now I have copied down versions of it not only halved, but halved several more times from that, down to getting nearly a “sampler size” portion. It’s basically a way of crushing the buds in a spice grinder and mixing them with sugar and cocoa powder for hot chocolate, and the stuff is delicious!
In the winter months, hot lavender lattes are a favorite. I’ve found my favorite way to do them thus far is a half gram of buds per 1 metric cup (a little seems to go a long way!) steeped in 3 parts hot water for 3-5 minutes, then I heat/foam 1 part coconut milk, and mix together with a small dollap of Farmer’s Market honey. I really like the flavor combo of the lavender with the coconut milk! During the summer, I like to cold steep plentiful teabags of it in lemonade, as the lemon/lavender flavor combo is another favorite!
I’ve also been using it to make my own deodorizer spray for the house. I steep a strong infusion (usually a heaping teaspoon of buds in half a cup boiling water), then let the brew cool some, and put it in a small spray bottle with a teaspoon of lemon juice and top it off with water. Makes a nice air spritz and I keep a bottle near every litter box; completely natural and doesn’t bother the kitty!
Ginger by Starwest Botanicals
I’ve been using this almost exclusively to make flavored white rice! While the water for the Minute Rice was boiling, I’d put several teaspoons of the loose ginger in teabags and let them steep in the boiling water, remove the teabags, then add the rice and let it “soak up” the ginger tea to make a lightly ginger-flavored rice. I found the ginger-flavored rice extremely easy on my GI system on days when I was having issues with it due to migraine. As such, I used up my bag I brought home from a co-op on a vacation in San Franciscio quickly. I need to restock!
I also liked mixing this with the hibiscus flowers 50/50 to make a throat balm when I was starting to get a sore throat/cold… the hibiscus was full of that strong Vitamin C hit that I wanted in the early stages of a cold, while the ginger provided the throat balm, and I liked the taste of the two steeped warm together.
Hibiscus Flowers by Starwest Botanicals
I imagine I’m the only person on Steepster who willingly owns (or rather owned… I’ve now used them all up!) plain ol’ hibiscus flowers. My main use was a generous heaping teaspoon per cup cold steeped overnight in lemonade, which gave the lemonade a noticable sort of “raspberry lemonade” sort of flavor that I really liked! I also used them for the 50/50 hibiscus/ginger throat tea for colds, mentioned above.
I guess I had used up way more of my stash than I had thought, because I wanted to experiment with these in Sprite after reading about VariaTea doing so, and I had bought two different bottles of Sprite (traditional and a ginger one… I didn’t even know they made that!) but I had hardly any leaf left! I put a teabag into a tall glass of Sprite, and my findings were that other than turning the Sprite red, it really didn’t change the taste at all. At about halfway through the glass, the Sprite finally started to have a slightly “red berry/punchy” taste to it, but it was still pretty subtle against the flavor of the Sprite itself. By that point there was a) a lot less Sprite in the glass and b) the hibi teabag had been steeping for quite some time, so I guess to get any effect against the sugars/flavors of the Sprite I would’ve needed to use a lot more raw hibi leaf, and also probably done an overnight coldbrew of it. If I restock my leaf (this was another I picked up at the San Francisco co-op, and I can’t easily restock it locally without ordering online), I will have to try that out.
Peppermint by Frontier Co-Op
I had a lot of plans for this… I wanted to infuse cocoa with it, like with the lavender, to make mint cocoa as gifts at the holidays, which never happened, since I ended up using it up just making plain ol’ mint iced tea to soothe my tummy during bad GI attacks for my chronic migraine condition. The last of this from the San Francisco co-op ended up in a big pitcher and is currently in the fridge, and has been going into smoothies, mixing with the smoothie ingredients to leave a lovely fresh, minty taste! This would be nice to restock since I would still like to try out the cocoa idea, but since cheap, bagged mint tea alternatives are easily available here to make iced mint tea for the tum-tum, it isn’t as high of a priority…
Red Rose Buds and Petals by Starwest Botanicals
I still have quite a bit of this left from the San Francisco co-op haul. I have made one batch of rose-infused cocoa, which was just as lovely as the lavender, and have also used it to cold steep in lemonade, which I also really enjoy! I think I may try making another batch of rose lemonade and adding that to fruit smoothies in the future, or if I use up one of the spray bottles of lavender deodorizer and want to switch it up, I may fill one with a rose deodorizer next time.
Moonlight white tea with snow chrysanthemum flowers, the orange ones that as of late, I’ve realized can be a polarizing flavor due to pickle perception.
I’m not going to lie about what the dry leaf smells like. It’s stinky — perfume, stale urine and dill. Care to read further? Stewed in my work thermos with water off-boil, the tea is fantastic. Brilliant orange-red with a strong aroma. Aging white tea taste with a hearty melding of the snow chrysanthemum taste. Medicinal, savory, sweet, thick, tannic, tangy and tingly; tangelo, hay, forest floor, Demerara sugar, white florals, pastries, minty cooling, black pepper, ginger and yes, I finally taste the dill pickle, quite strongly actually.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Citrus, Citrusy, Dill, Floral, Flowers, Forest Floor, Ginger, Hot hay, Malt, Medicinal, Mineral, Mint, Pastries, Perfume, Sweet, Tangy, Tannin, Thick, Wood