Featured & New Tasting Notes
Bought this the other day not realizing I had already tried it. It’s fairly tasty. Strong taste of dark chocolate and what I would guess is the mate in the background.
I brewed this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 185 degree water for 4 minutes.
So, someone who has messed with the Xbone recently did a dumb. Turns out my screen is fine, it was just plugged into the wrong port! I am not sure if it was Ben or myself that did such a daft thing, but it was certainly me that unplugged and replugged it into the same port a couple times while trying to troubleshoot it, it wasn’t until I was plugging in my USB charger that I realized the mistake. All that sad flailing earlier in the week was for naught, though I certainly wouldn’t complain about getting a nicer and larger screen!
Today I am looking at Keemun Imperial Gongfu Black Tea from MeiMei Fine Teas, and before I get into the tea I have a bit of a story. About a week before the tea arrived I was talking with Ben about tweaking the recipe on Ravnican Caravan, the blend I developed for his birthday. I told him I was thinking of removing the Shui Xian and adding Keemun instead, since adding a bit of fruity sweet would add more balance to the tea, and there was already enough char/smoke from the Lapsang. He agreed this was a good idea, but was concerned by the apparently very hilarious expression I had on my face. Asking what was wrong, with shock, I told him ‘I haven’t had a Keemun in over two years!’ It was like I had forgotten that tea existed, which is tragic since I used to LOVE it, this was something that needed rectifying, and MeiMei Fine Teas came to my rescue! The aroma of the delicate leaves is wonderful, very sweet with notes of raspberries, plums, cherries, and apricot mix with delicate distant floral, and the distinct malt/yam blend that lets me know this is a hong cha. I had no problem getting lost sniffing this tea, oh Keemun I have missed you!!
Into the green shibo the leaves go for a steeping and wow, that aroma is something else! Very fruity sweet notes of raspberries, plums, and cherries with underlying notes of squash flowers, wildflowers, and rich yams and peanuts. There is a lot going on in the wet leaves and it took several sniffs to process all the layers. The liquid smells sweet, though not quite as strongly as the wet leaves, instead it is more rich with its notes of yams, peanuts, squash, squash blossoms, and a finish of dark cherries. It also has a tiny hint of an aroma similar to red wine, specifically cherries cooked in red wine, which adds to the richness.
So the first steep starts out a bit brisk…wait…no it doesn’t. It switches to smooth so quickly that I thought I imagined it, but no, it is there. The taste starts with fruity sweetness, blending cherries and lighter apricot with a touch of plums. Then it moves to a floral and earthy (only slightly) blend of acorn squash, squash blossoms, and poplar tree flowers. The finish is a smooth blend of plums and malt with a lingering gentle yamminess that gives a slight starchy quality to the end.
That tiny bit of briskness that popped up in the first steep has totally vanished, replaced by a smooth mouthfeel and a distinct brightness, it feels like light in my mouth, no heaviness but not airy, just light and bright and putting me in a pleasantly cheerful mood. Honestly it is impossible to be in a bad mood while drinking this beauty, with sweet notes of red wine stewed plums and cherries, squash blossoms and poplar flowers, and a yammy peanut finish, it is both well balanced and tasty.
This steep is still quite fruity and sweet, strong notes of those cherries and plums stewed in red wine, with an added slice of apricot. However in the middle the flowery notes are all but gone, a bit of polar remains, but mostly there is rich malt and intensely starchy yams with a gentle peanut finish. I am so sorry Keemun, I will never forget you again. Luckily for me this tea had longevity, so I got more steeps out of it, though that has not stopped me from almost finishing my sample already!
My second sample from Taylors of Harrogate. One thing I will say about these is that they smell amazing while they’re brewing. This one is pretty much spot on rhubarb and custard, and it’s a real shame that they don’t taste as good at they smell!
This one is also a fruit tea, and has the same hibiscus/rosehip base as Sour Cherry. It’s that tell-tale red colour pretty much straightaway. The initial sip is very tart and a touch sour (thank you, hibi!), but there’s a distinctive creamy rhubarb flavour in the midsip that’s really almost dessert-like and quite delicious. It lingers well into the aftertaste, too. Rhubarb seems like a pretty rare flavour in tea, at least in the UK, so this is one I’d happily drink again if given the opportunity.
My samples came with a card that lists the rest of the range, and the Rose Lemonade immediately captured my attention. There’s also a green tea with grapefruit and lime that I’d quite like to try. I’ve got one more sample to try – green tea and sweet mint, and I’m looking forward to that one because spearmint is one of my favourite things! I like that Taylors are trying to do a few unusual combinations as well as the stuff you’d expect, but what I’d really like is a fruit blend that doesn’t use hibiscus as a base. It’s a lifelong dream, I know.
Found a bit of this leaf to enjoy today. It is not the deliciousness that it once was, but it was still an enjoyable cup.
(I did have a bit of this that had gone off. I sincerely hope that I had tossed that bit into the bin so that it doesn’t reemerge.)
This cup hinted at liquorice after the coconut, faint raspberry, and chocolate happening. Wonder what is up with that.
I think this has just become my unofficial, ‘official’ rainy day tea. It’s my instant go to! I think one of the things I like most about this one, though, is that it brews up fairly consistently but because of the big range of ingredients in really varied sizes it’s still not the exact same drink every time because it still depends a little bit on what you scoop up.
This cold brew (yes; cold brew for a rainy day – not a hot tea) was mostly cinnamon, rose, cranberry, citrus and pineapple – no real flavour from the coconut shreds because I didn’t get any significant amount of them scooped up in the leaf. And no pomegranate or vanilla, either.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WK-vRhz9xs
Yeah, this is kind of an obvious one…
The weather has been so awesome the last couple days, I have been loving it! Previously this week it has been cool, mostly sunny, but cool…perfect windows open days. Yesterday the fun started, first with a bit of drizzles then intermittent storms, and then wow, last night was a storm party! Granted it was when I was trying to sleep, and I am pretty sure a tree up the road was lightninged into oblivion meaning very loud booms, but I don’t care. I will lose sleep anytime to storms! In fact it just finished another storm about half an hour ago, with more promised during the rest of the week, this makes me giddy!!
Today I am taking a look at White2Tea’s 2016 A&P, a Dianhong they included with the July teaclub (along with some killer sweet balls) which is conveniently also for sale in their shop for when I inevitably run out and need more. It is how I am with the deliriously tasty reds, they are addictive and I always need another fix, ALWAYS. Honestly I am tempted to get another cake to just put away for aging, since it was made from Lincang Puerh materials and sun-dried leaving it a bit raw meaning it should improve with a few years age on it.
Except for a few exceptions I love most my reds with a little age on them, usually I find any harsh notes will mellow out after a year or two…assuming they last that long around me. So after admiring this lovely dark cake in its pristine form I hacked a bit off for closer examination, with my nose.
Well hello there you chocolaty cake of goodness, it smells like the batter for the rich triple chocolate molasses cake I make when I am desperately craving chocolate, very sweet and thickly chocolate. There are also undertones of cooked plum, sandalwood, myrrh, and malt. Fun fact, when I first opened this bad boy up it smelled lightly of cocoa, a few weeks later the cocoa increased, and now in the middle of August when I am writing this it smells like a blasted cake! I think in a year it will gain sentience as the embodiment of chocolate, it is the only explanation.
So after a first steep the aroma is nothing short of oomph, it is a little bit malty and a touch nutty, but the strongest notes by far are sweet cocoa and woody sandalwood. The combination of this tea’s notes are mouthwatering, sandalwood is a great love of mine, like on a primal level…is this tea trying to seduce me? The liquid once free from its leafy restraints blend notes of creamy milk chocolate, peanuts, sandalwood, molasses, and caramelized brown sugar…it is like all the parts of a really tasty candy but separate, and with sandalwood. Yum.
So I make a show saying that I am not a social person which is why most my teaing is done in the privacy of my tea lair, but really I think it is because the noises that good tea elicit out of me are just not sociable, and I don’t like holding back! I have this same problem with food. This tea had that effect on me for sure, from the first sip I was dancing in my chair and making all sorts of happy noises. Starting with a thick mouth (this is a theme that will stick around) it is sweet, like the most perfect ripe cherry and plum exploding in my mouth with a fantastic chocolate shrapnel to the face. Then for the finish it is like someone gave me just the caramelized sugar top of a creme brulee, the aftertaste of brown sugar lingers for a while.
The aroma of the second steep ramps up, stronger cocoa, more intense molasses, juicy plum and brown sugar dance with sandalwood for one outstanding thing to sniff. It is still thick as all get out, like almost fruit nectar thick but blissfully without the sticky, super creamy and dense. It starts with overly ripe bordering on cooked plums with malt and molasses, building slowly until the midtaste is chocolate. Starting with milk chocolate and moving to dark, never getting to bittersweet. The finish is a blend of pine sap, myrrh, and sandalwood, cutting down the sweet ever so slightly but adding a richness that is almost blinding.
Surprisingly my mind is not mush by this point, it feels like it is almost at the point, sensory overload for sure! This steep does not change much from the second, it pretty much stays at status quo until steep five where it starts fading away into chocolate, plums and molasses until nothing is left several steeps later. This tea has longevity, aging potential, and it almost turned me into a gibbering mess (I needed time to process before I could get this written, it was like a chocolate tea Eldrazi…the MTG card no one knew they wanted) so yeah, if you have the money I say give this one a get. I plan on attempting to leave my cake alone for at least a few months to see how it changes.
A sample from Miss B! Liquorice kind of strikes fear into my heart, because it’s usually super-sweet and cloying and I just can’t enjoy it. Not the case with this one (I don’t think it actually contains liquorice root, so hallelujah!) It’s sweet, but gently so, and it reminds me most of blossom honey with maybe just an undertone of dark, sticky liquorice. It’s an interesting combination, and quite light in flavour so it’s also nice and refreshing on a hot day (and today is HOT – 34 degrees outside, and it’s usually 5 degrees or so hotter in our overcrowded, computer-stuffed office.) Heat like this is rare in the UK, and I’m glad for that because I’m finding I can’t actually function as a human being.
The other thing about this tea is how pretty it is. Little purple flowers (lavender, maybe? I could smell lavender while it was brewing), yellow lemongrass (or something like it) and then a whole lot of pale green, fairly finely shredded leaves. It looks like spring to me.
I enjoyed this one, totally unexpectedly. It’s a sweet, delicate cup and I’ll enjoy finishing up the rest of my sample!
While the notes of this tea are already accurate, I’d like to weigh in as I have drank this 3x at work in the morning.
The term bitter and chocolate does apply, but not in the sense of a bittersweet dark chocolate. This is more like the astringency of an Assam tea but a chocolate taste you would get from some leftover chocolate powder used in a mixture that happened to be on your fingertips. Not that strong, quite dry, but noticeable. I prefer my golden needle dianhong to this due to the bitterness that makes it hard to enjoy fruits right away in the morning.
This tea is really good, I might use the word phenomenal. It started out as a complex mixture of bitter, sweet, and astringent. There was no smoke. It was too young to have developed any storage tastes. I gave this tea sixteen steeps in a 150ml gaiwan. Over the course of sixteen steeps it gradually changed into a sweet tea with notes of apricots and stonefruits. I should note that the bitterness was never very strong. It was clearly present once the leaves had opened up but it was not what I would call an abiding bitterness. This is an expensive cake, the most expensive in Yunnan Sourcing’s 2016 lineup. With many vendors I would have to question if it was real Bing Dao material. But I trust Scott to be selling the real thing. Apparently the trees that this was picked from were between 100 and 300 years old making this gushu puerh, even if just barely. I also trust this claim because I think that Scott wouldn’t lie. With Yunnan Sourcing I have always gotten what I paid for. Now the big question, is this as good as the 2014 Yunnan Sourcing Autumn Bing Dao which was substantially cheaper. I’m on the fence about this. That tea was a phenomenal tea too. I think I will have to go back and drink that one again before I can decide which I like better. As to the tea quality, these were lasting leaves. I gave them sixteen steeps and I could go back for more. With longer steeps I would estimate I’d get between four and eight more steeps. But I don’t have the patience to start infusing these leaves for ten minutes at a time. In conclusion, this was one of the best young raws I have drunk. It had a nice punch to it in the beginning but not too much bitterness. It changed quite dramatically over the sixteen steeps I gave it becoming as sweet as I think any raw puerh gets. This one is definitely worth a sample of. I risked a whole cake without a sample because the 2014 Autumn Bing Dao from Yunnan Sourcing was so damn good.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Stonefruits, Sweet
Just got home from being away for a bit and this is my first tea back at home. I had been so careful about my away-travel tea selection, but, you know, spoiled. It is good to be back home to choices, choices, and more choices.It was a bit hot and humid when I fell asleep last night, but then I was uncovered and chilled when I woke up this morning. This is the tea I reached for. Delicious, warming, and lovely, especially when strains of autumn are slowly peeking through early summer mornings.
The last of my Adagio teas, and today’s work cold brew. I used 4 bags in 2 litres of water, as per my usual method. To taste, it’s not particularly pumpkiny. I get little flashes of squash here and there, but nothing that really makes me think “pumpkin!” The spicing is more of a feature – this blend is very heavy on the cinnamon, with maybe a touch of ginger adding a little warmth. The honeybush base is fairly prominent, and although it’s sweet and unobjectionable, I was really hoping for more pumpkin to balance out the base/spice combination which is basically the whole flavour. It’s not my favourite of the Adagio Fairy Tale blends, but it’s by no means bad. Just a little…lacklustre.
Thank you so much for the sample, Teavivre! I am finally writing a tasting note despite having it before, and I am happy to report that it is my favourite green out of the batch that was sent to me. It is very mellow with a touch of vegetalness. There is gentle buttery note in the background too. Very smooth.
As it’s cooling, the vegetal notes are coming forth a bit more but they aren’t overbearing. They’re along the lines of steamed green beans. I agree with other Steepsterites that it is similar to a Dragon Well, however, it is more mellow, not as buttery, and lacks that sour note that I personally pick up from most Dragon Wells.
I wouldn’t purchase any, but mostly because I tend to reach for roasted green teas whenever I’m in a green tea mood, but it’s nevertheless a tea worth trying out.
Helllooooo Steepster! It has been a while yet again! Life has been keeping me busy with helping plan my bestie’s wedding, her stagette, bridal shower, etc..and work being extremely crazy, along with the usual summer activities ie. keeping the yard up, trying to stay healthy and run outside a lot, etc etc haha. So yeah, I honestly have not been drinking much tea as it’s been warm here and life has really just been so busy.
But this week, we have hit a cold, dreary, rainy spell of weather…and to match, my office is miserably cold. I also think I obtained a small cold from camping in very chilly weather in Banff this weekend. Thus, out comes tea again. Yesterday I had a cup of the Skinny and neglected to log it..today is my last tea bag of this. Keeping my hands and body warm. I am getting excited for fall to arrive so I can get back into the fall teas, I see DT has out their fall collection today :D going to hit that up for more Pumpkin Chai of course. Anyways, this tea is the same as always, warming, soothing, sweet and lemony. An old friend. The water at my work sucks, but ah well. See previous notes on this tea!
Taste test #1 for the exclusive TAF balls from W2T to be part of the 2017 Sheng Olympiad. Out of all the blends W2T puts together I chose this one because it had everything wanted; looks, taste, and feels. The2015 material blew me away so I was glad to get to use the 2016 for this event : )
I was sent a few extra so I will do a tasting now and then come November to make sure all is well.
Starting off I realized the balls were quite new as they were firm and the color looks like it needs a bit of air to show its true hue. I went ahead and washed it twice and began my session outside with my best friend. The first six steeps were a bit tart, as in astringent to the mouth. I suspect this is due to how frickin’ early I drank this. I am not worried about that aspect actually because I know it’ll go away with some time. The taste once the astringent mouth feel went away was just like last year to which I really like. The leaf expands out and you see the beautiful two leaf and sometimes three with some buds; a rare occurrence for a puerh. The color goes from a medium to a lighter color as it steeps out. Overall I ended up getting 30 steeps out of this and don’t recall much of the taste because I was just enjoying the outdoors with my friend. Turns out I was pretty smashed by this tea because three hours passed by and we sat in the rain without realizing we were wet until we got in my car and the air turned on.
Truly a great choice that I believe will become even better as this “I was just born” tart will go away by January and be a beautiful gem to unfurl in each brewing vessel it meets while making people feel as if tea could be illegal if it always makes them feel this way.
Sipdown! Whoa, I ripped through 100g in a few weeks. Between work not having a kettle (how?! why?!) at work and having no time to think about anything other than work even when I’m not there, I lazily opted to cold brew jugs of this until it was gone. At least I can take that to work. This was tasty and I didn’t get sick of it, so at least that’s a good sign. It’s melon but not overly artificial, thankfully.
I’ve almost finished my 100g bag of this without writing a tea review. In honesty I wasn’t overly keen on this tea but it came in handy for those awkward times that I want tea but have no idea which tea to have. That is the reason I have it today actually, after this cup I have one mugs worth of leaf left. I’m thankful I chose this tea today because when I sat down my cat Ollie jumped onto me for fuss and he lay in my arms for 15 or so minutes. All that while my tea was steeping, but the good thing about this tea is it’s very forgiving. Most black teas would have to be thrown away after such a long steep but this is still mild and unoffensive.
It’s slightly fruity (like dates) mixed with dry chestnut and toasted wood. It’s extremely light, even after that long steep, which makes it easy to drink. There is also a sweetness coming from the date fruit character that becomes slightly sour in the after taste before leaving a dry finish.
It’s not a bad tea, it’s just not my favourite and honestly once it’s gone I will probably forget what it was like. It was suitable as an everyday tea and is easy to transport to work etc when the mood struck. I do find on the whole that Thai teas tend to be fruity and light in comparison to Chinese and Indian black teas which are much darker. If I had to liken this to anything then it would probably be similar to a mild Darjeeling but without the muscatel notes.
One of my work cold brews this week.
Nothing’s better than tuning out during your lunch break and just listening to some music while you eat – I love my coworkers, but sometimes I just DO NOT want to talk to them on break. I want time to relax and recharge to make it through my shift.
This was great; more on the darker and less “bright” and bubbly/juicy side of things. Think raw, unrefined/unsweetened blueberry instead. Blueberry that creeps in on you and builds to something a little more powerful? That’s what the cold brew was.
Sipdown. This was a pleasant dragonwell, but it didn’t really distinguish itself from other dragonwells in flavor (though it looks quite a bit different from the ones I’m used to). I will probably continue getting my dragonwell from Teavivre.
Also I am down to 24 teas now. At first the downsizing trend seemed like a good thing, but it’s not funny anymore. Really looking forward to getting my Quarter to Tea order in and being all set up for fall with some Syrupy Pumpkin Pancakes.
I think I used a little too much leaf on this one, but it was still good. It had a fairly strong bitterness in the first few steeps. It slowly turned into more of a sweet note over twelve steeps. You might even argue apricots in this case but I am uncertain. It was though a very good tea. Next time I will try it with less leaf. I just kind of used what I happened to pry off. And although I was using a big gaiwan at 160ml, 12.8g was a little too much. For that gaiwan I think 9g or so would have been better. On the other hand I’m sure with this one I could go back for five or six more steeps if I wanted to. Overall I did like this tea.
I steeped this tea twelve times in a 160ml gaiwan with 12.8g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min.
Woo! A ripe that I like! This one came out of the LP Mystery Group Buy.
To my tastebuds, this guy was pretty much totally clear of any weird fermentation flavor. The rinsed leaf smelled like wet wood, but not funky. There was also a slight bit of a bready note perhaps. First three steeps I got earthy notes of wood with a slight cherry note as well. I got about 8 steeps from this one. After the initial steeps, the cherry note went away, but it did get a little bit sweeter. The leaves seemed quite small, so I’m not surprised it was rather short-lived. I probably won’t buy any more of this, just because I’d still prefer a good sheng to a good shou. It seems like for me to like a shou, it has to be pretty well cleared of fermentation funk. This is probably the first one I’ve encountered that it.
Flavors: Cherry, Creamy, Earth, Sweet, Wood
Another sample from Joshua. Thank you again!
This is a very malty tea, like the Breakfast Assam from this company. I must say that I usually steer clear from Assam tea, but these two have been completely different than most other Assam. This one in particular is sweet, malty, slightly chocolaty, smooth, and not very astringent (as I’ve experienced many times before). I’m really considering getting more of these two when winter comes, as a morning brew.
On a side note: My dad really loves Assam, and I thought that I’d share these two from Joshua with him. He said, “These are very good. Great black, with cream, or sugar.” My dad isn’t picky, but I know he has added these to his wishlist. Perhaps I’ll buy some for his birthday/Christmas this year; considering he only drinks tea with me or in the winter.