Featured & New Tasting Notes
I just eyeballed the amount of tea and brewed.
Not boiling, again I think it was around 80°C.
The sencha base is quite nice, although in taste isn’t the most present. But it was grassy and smooth. The expected flavour profile is there present! Yep, I notice it was quite melon-seed like and overall it was round and nice. Of course, recreating the melon flavour without any actual melon is quite hard, but I think they managed it fairly well!
Food pairing: Blueberry and cream koláč (kolach) and our garden apple, Wealthy varietal. Yum!
Flavors: Grass, Melon, Round
Seems to be going toward red sweet potato in age. Still fruity as all get out, lots of baked pear. Less spice. Still sweet with that classic GABA tang which is well bridled. I strongly advocate for leafing this one heavy and doing long gongfu steeps or the method that warranted this a 100 rating — stewing for hours. Either way, it’s versatile with no bitterness and only slight drying. This GABA oolong would be great for loose leaf beginners as it can be prepared a variety of ways and at different temperatures. And for the more advanced, there’s complexity in this brew if you want to go searching.
Had some time before a doctor appointment today, so decided to get the little 180ml pumpkin pot out again and go through another of the old 2017 Dazzle Deer samplers. This time I’m taking on my least-liked tea-type, pu’erh. Though I admittedly have had much more experience with shou than sheng, so I wonder if I can get a different experience than the “dirt and marsh water” that I usually taste…
Used the full 7g sample and filled the pot to 140ml (so it wasn’t quite to its capacity) with 205F (lowered to 195F, and then 185F) water.
140ml miniature teapot | 7g | 205F (Dropped to 195F, 185F) | Rinse/10s/15s/10s/10s/10s/10s
The wet leaf after the rinse smells like wet autumn leaves, raisin, bitter melon, and sour vegetables. The first infusion has a surprisingly sweet/floral aroma!? As well as honey, and raisin and autumn leaf. I definitely have never had these kind of scents in a pu’erh before… and… it tastes good to me?! What the frack, this has a lightly floral (lilac? lotus?) taste, a touch of that fruity honeyed raisin quality, and then a slightly more bitter vegetal (cabbage?) finish. On the second infusion the tea had suddenly grown uncomfortably bitter (the description for the tea says it has “no bitterness or astringency” so I can’t help but feel like I’m doing something wrong?), so instead of increasing the steep times for each infusion like Dazzle Deer’s site had recommended, I decided to try sticking at the 10s and also lowered the water temp slightly to 195F. That helped some, but it still was a little more bitter/astringent than I prefer… What happened to that lovely first steep?! Lowering the water temperature even further (185F) helped a little, but I still felt an almost medicinal bitterness left afterwards on my tongue. Only by my sixth steep had it mellowed, but by then I was tired of the tea and ready to wrap up the session…
I think this is closer in flavor to something I would like (while I never seem to have much luck with shou, unless it is in flavored blends), if it weren’t for the bitterness that overtook the tea after the first steep. And I don’t know if that bitterness is a sheng problem or a Sara problem. Will need to explore further.
Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Floral, Honey, Raisins, Vegetal
Today’s #septembersipdown prompt is about making a pot to share. Personally, I don’t live with tea drinkers and I don’t usually drink from a pot, however, I pulled out my mini pot for this prompt. I couldn’t convince someone to share though so I am drinking the pot by myself. Oh well.
When deciding what to make, the bottom of the pot said to use your favorite English tea and enjoy it in the English teaware. I don’t have any English Breakfast blends but I do have this tea which is an Earl Grey (which I associate with England – though that might be incorrect) from an English tea company. Good enough!
This tea was a free sample in my last Bird and Blend order. It was not something I have been enthused about so I figured why not just have it and it be done. So, I tossed the tea bag into my teapot and got to brewing. Of course while pouring the water, I managed to not catch the tag on the end of the string before it fell into the pot and then I had to fish it out. I also might have spilled both while pouring into and out of the teapot. Like I said, I don’t use a pot often.
I added milk to the glass since I thought a earl grey would need it. It does. The bergamot is strong but calmed slightly by the milk. It’s not bad this way. And I kept topping up the glass with the tea from the pot as a drank so it got less milky as I drank. It was still tolerable even as the milk:tea ratio got closer. Overall, I think maybe it is decent. I just don’t think its for me.
My grandma is celebrating 79 on the 29th, so we had a small celebration today (only day we agreed on, whole close family)… counting people, it was 13 people. One of my brothers is working unfortunately today.
The tea, was delicious once again — apple and its skins, vanilla, pastry notes, quite high in cinnamon. It is respectable opponent to its opponent, granny’s real Apple Strudel. I think that granny’s won a tiny bit — because raisins, but it is really tiny bit!
It’s interesting that other family members weren’t that impressed about this tea though (when I prepared it in big pot for everyone) but they like the real strudel. Give me more!
Flavors: Apple, Apple Skins, Cinnamon, Pastries, Vanilla
Additional notes: I like that this says for caffeine it’s “low” on the Steepster page because now I’m questioning WHY DID I BUY THIS WHEN I KNEW HOW WEAK THE BLACK TEA WAS?!?! I guess I just like the idea of it more than I was recalling my memories of it. The black tea couldn’t get any weaker, which is a real shame. Maybe I thought it was the age of my sample making the black tea weak before? Or hoping that the base had changed by now? It was on sale anyway. Like I said the other day, there is nothing worse than a light base on a chocolate tea. bleck. Lowering the rating from 79 (which I don’t usually do, but new harvests confirm things.)
Latte Sipdown (gone before it was even added so no number change)
My new Dessert by Deb order arrived with all the tasty sounding fall teas. This is one of the ones I’m splitting with Sil and it smelled so good while I was dividing it that I decided to use my half to make a latte.
This was a little underleafed compared to usual and at first it came off a bit thin. However, the more I drink the better it gets. It’s good but I don’t know if it’s s’mores. I think this is more fireside coconut than anything. Smokey, creamy, coconut, and a touch of sweet maple/chocolate.
Since it’s not quite s’mores, I don’t think I need more. Based on the name and smell, I was actually worried I’d be immediately placing another order for copious amounts of this so I’m glad it didn’t completely deliver.
I would never buy this (since it contains dairy) but since it was in the TTB and the yoghurt pieces were fairly easy to pick out (with double washed hands and a spoon! I’m not a gross person I promise!) I decided to have an evening cup of herbal brew. I guess I expected this to be less acidic because I planned to add soy milk. Based on the colour and initial sip, I decided against it. I think milk would curdle.
There is a mice baked bread/buttery flavour, vanilla, and dried fruit flavour. It does taste quite a bit like blueberry and raisins. There is a nice sweetness to it. I don’t care for the acidity or the Earthy beetroot (carrot?) flavour, but neither are too bad. It would have been fine with less hibiscus though.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Blueberry, Dried Fruit, Hibiscus, Raisins, Sour, Vanilla
Thanks very much, AJRimmer! I will eventually get to all these samples. haha. I wasn’t expecting much from this tea, seeing as how chocolate teas are normally somehow gasoline tasting and lacking and English Tea Store’s teas have been generally disappointing… but the flavor of this tea resulted in how I would hope it would be. First off, it’s dark. I can’t do chocolate teas that aren’t deep and dark. Second, no gasoline here. Plenty of chocolate flavor. Dark dusky chocolate. I like that they actually include cocoa shells! I thought I was seeing coconut in the blend, but it’s actually chamomile petals for some reason? I don’t think they bring anything to the flavor anyway. It’s a good pairing between this type of black tea and chocolate flavor in general. It is what it says it is. Of course, it can’t actually be hot chocolate, but this is the closest thing to hot chocolate that a tea can be. I wouldn’t mind having a bit of this around when I want a chocolate tea — there aren’t too many good chocolate teas. Next time this will be a sipdown.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for full mug // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 3 minutes after boiling // 3 1/2 minute steep
Am I freaking out here, or does this taste like mint chocolate? checks ingredients Yep, I’m just going crazy. Maybe I’m tasting the licorice. Regardless, this one is quite good. It tasted good without milk, but it tastes even richer and fuller with some milk. I don’t usually love B&B’s chocolate blends, but I’m pretty impressed with this one. It tastes like thin mints to me – it just does! But I love the way this tea is balanced and flavored. Nice black tea, chocolate, and flavors. Thanks for the share, tea-sipper!
I finally tackled the Basket of Neglected Herbal Tea Gimmes and Scraps, and boy, do I need to drink up some rooibos! I’ve got dibs and dabs in a dozen different flavors that haven’t had proper attention over the past summer(s).
So this was on deck last night. It is several years old, but the orange peel was still OK. The first time I reviewed it, I compared to good old Constant Comment orange/cinnamon/spice. Can’t improve on that comparison. It was still tasty, and fitting for early fall.
(Will I ever learn? How many times have I grabbed a tea box without checking the ingredients because the name intrigued me?) When I finally read the fine print and noticed licorice, I almost immediately regretted picking this up. Same when I sniffed the dry bag
However, (don’t you just love good howevers?) it works in this blend! The apple flavor is crisp and strong and balances out the licorice stickiness. I had to really think about it to find any real sarsaparilla…but if you want yourself a good cup of caramel apple tea, you’ve got it here. Go figure.
Planning to try the next cup with milk in hopes of replicating Wrapples. (Remember, I am ancient … they were thin round sheets of caramel you plopped over an apple and stuck in the oven for just a bit. I ate the sheets straight from the package and drove my mom crazy.)
Yuuum! Finally I could enjoy this tea without awful headache.
I was craving for something smooth and floral; and this delivered both.
Grandpa — 1 tsp per 300 ml.
It was just perfect. Very nice in aroma, jasmine, orchids, lightly creamy. In taste it was so smooth, even when I used boiling water, again jasmine and creamy, coated all my mouth with its velvety texture. Aftertaste was long, hints of vegetal, bit of genmaicha taste. Somehow I believe it can offer more and more! I really enjoy that qualitiy, that it is strong in aroma as well in taste, but not overpowering all other notes!
Flavors: Creamy, Jasmine, Smooth, Toasted Rice, Vegetal
Okay, I guess I’m coming back to Steepster now. The funny thing is I honestly had no intention of coming back to the site save to read and like the tasting notes of others or maybe post the occasional comment or question. At the time I decided to step away, I was not only dealing with an avalanche of mental and physical health issues, but I had also reached a point where I did not feel that I had anything else to say. Each time I sat down to post a tea review, I was either filled with so much anxiety and frustration that I had to force myself through the process, or I just could not find any motivation to write anything and would stare at my computer screen for varying lengths of time before giving up and walking away to do anything else. Furthermore, I was extremely angered and disappointed by the owners’ decision to sell to Adagio and was certain at the time that it would be a death sentence for this site and community. Fortunately, I seem to have been wrong about that last bit (to this point), and since I have been doing a little better over the last couple of weeks, I figured that I may as well try to get back into the groove of writing tea reviews and see how things go. Naturally, my already huge backlog has grown even further. I have a pile of unposted reviews stretching from July 2019 to the present, and I am still certain that I have one review from the fall of 2018 that I simply forgot to post. This one comes from either February or March of this year. I recall enjoying this tea, but I also recall thinking that it struck me as being a bit light and green compared to many of other Da Wu Ye I have sampled in recent years.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of orchid, pomegranate, orange blossom, cream, butter, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of custard, vanilla, roasted almond, pear, and baked bread. The first infusion then brought out aromas of grass and coriander. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of orange blossom, sugarcane, grass, cream, baked bread, butter, and roasted almond that were balanced by lighter, subtler impressions of pear, orchid, pomegranate, lychee, custard, plum, and spinach. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of violet, plum, spinach, lychee, sour cherry, and orange zest. Stronger and more immediately evident notes of custard, pear, spinach, plum, and lychee came out in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, white grape, orange zest, violet, sour cherry, and green apple. Hints of butterscotch, apricot, and coriander lurked around the fringes. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized impressions of minerals, roasted almond, butter, baked bread, grass, pear, spinach, and coriander that were balanced by hints of orange zest, pomegranate, cream, vanilla, sugarcane, orchid, and white grape.
This was an extremely interesting and satisfying Dancong oolong. The mix of aromas and flavors was great, and the liquor it produced consistently felt wonderful in the mouth. Many Dancong oolongs can become very woody, vegetal, or astringent in the mouth, but this one never did. It was also much lighter in body and less savory than many of the other Da Wu Ye I have tried. I suspect that the roast on this tea was lighter than that of previous years. Anyway, this was a very good tea that was very approachable. I tend to be a big fan of traditional Da Wu Ye, so this tea did not quite tick all the boxes for me, but it was still very good. I am willing to bet that people who are into lighter roasted oolongs would love it.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Butterscotch, Cherry, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Fruity, Grass, Green Apple, Lychee, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Pear, Plums, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet, White Grapes
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!