Featured & New Tasting Notes
You know when you leave your favorite tea for other, more attractive, (pumpkin spice) flavored teas? You even put in cream. And honey. And you’re happy with them, because it’s fall, and it suits your mood. But then one day you get a new teapot in the mail and it tells you, “Hey. That tea and I were made for each other.” So you get out your old favorite, and it makes you swear off “corrupted” tea and junk food, too. At least for today. Maybe you’ll even do some yoga.
This tea brews easily and tastes fabulous after several steepings – squeeze every last drop of tea from it. And that first quick 30 second “rinse” steep – the one that some people dump? I drink it, too. I’ve really pushed what’s acceptable to do to oolongs, and it’s hard to mess this one up. The description mentions cinnamon notes, but I mostly get sweet sweet floral on my palate. Perhaps the “cinnamon” is the grounding flavor that keeps it from being perfume instead of tea. Some of the early infusions might have that delightful buttery feeling, too. The leaves themselves are packed densely, but don’t put off much of an aroma, but even that first pale cup just wafts deliciousness.
I got this package on a trip to Mt. View, and the teashop itself is just amazing. Canisters of teas both (tastefully) flavored and “pure” that the owners are practically giddy (but not pushy) about sharing a whiff of. Tables of yixing pots. Even some crazy flea market style antiques in the back. It’s a trip in itself just to visit for kicks.
I love fall because it involves so many of my favorite things: carving pumpkins, toasting pumpkin seeds, enjoying beautiful fall colors, and of course my mom’s apple pie. I was super excited to try this tea because the last apple green tea I tried I absolutely love, and anyone who knows me knows that I fall head over heels for apples. One might call me an apple thief (Scrubs reference if you’re a fan!!)
This tea smells fantastic! Cinnamony and a tarty-sour apple smell (much like baking apples) and of course that lovely green tea aroma. The taste if very pleasant and light, which is what I like since I’m one of those people who always puckers up when drinking juice or cider. I am convinced that I can switch around how I brew this to get even better results. It honestly tastes very similar to the other apple green tea I have, with the addition of cinnamon. Oh boy I can feel an addiction coming on…
Look at me with my posting! I’m sharp and kicking bottom. It’s 1pm and I’m steeping this as my fourth cup today. I shall be in a constant back and forth to the bladder unloading station for the rest of the day, I expect.
This one came to me from ssajami and I have high expectations of it. It’s a Keemun, how could I not? It smells exactly like one too. Grainy and sort of pseudo-smoky with a touch of something floral. And also quite sweet and caramel-y. This is a very good smell, this smell that I’m smelling! So rich and creamy and sweet, it reminds me a little of creme brulee, although not as much as the Clear Jade Orchid oolong from Shang Tea does. (That one is crazy creme brulee-y!)
Gosh, it’s very sweet in flavour as well! There was one note in there; I caught a whiff of it for a split-second just before swallowing and it was pure sugar. After just this one sip there’s a feeling of aftertaste expanding in the mouth like an explosion. It starts at the taste buds and then grows to encompass the entire mouth until it feels almost as if the cavity itself is really getting bigger.
Okay, that description was mildly icky, but I hope you get what I mean here. I do hope you have all had at some point in your life a tea with an aftertaste that does this. It’s so… strange and weird and good.
Anyway, back to the flavour. It’s a quite smooth tea with an almost milky feel and very sweet as well. Quite akin to caramel but not 100% there. Not yet. Like the flavour nuance just before caramel.
There isn’t much in the way of grain-y flavours, though. I’m sort of missing a bit of rye bread-y bite to it, and the absense of that gives the impression of a very mild tea. A bit shy. I should have liked it to have a little more oomph to it.
If it had had the grainy notes, I could have gone on and on about that and about the comparison to proper danish rye bread and how that differs from the stuff most of the rest of the world calls rye bread, and the pros and cons of same. As it isn’t really there, it’s rather difficult to say anything about it.
That sweetness, however, that is spectacular and it’s worth every single point here. Not a favourite Keemun for me at all, it’s far too well-behaved, but definitely not a bad one either.
Houston, we have a new favorite tea.
Let’s face it, I’m pretty fan-girly when it comes to tea, especially green tea. In my completely unbiased opinion, it’s the greatest and most delicious thing in the galaxy. Well, it and cheesecake.
I have to confess, however, that at the moment one tea ranks above all others as my current favorite: Boston Tea Company’s Mint Chocolate Delight. It’s an amazing combination of premium Chinese green tea, mint flavor, and natural cocoa. If you’re a frequent Olive Garden diner like yours truly, you’ve probably tried their delicious afterdinner chocolate mints. This tea actually smells a little like those mints, but the flavor is still predominately “green tea with the subtle taste of chocolate”, not “hot chocolate tea”.
The company recommends using one teaspoon of leaves for every 8 oz. of hot water, but I use a little more because the tea doesn’t steep very strongly, and one teaspoon is a little thin for me. The company also suggests adding milk or lemon as desired, but I kind of forbid you from doing that…messing up this tea with anything extra would be downright criminal. Enjoy!
[Edit: Garret, the owner of Mandala Tea, has looked into the questions I raised in this tasting note. His supplier has assured him that the tea is indeed from the Da Hong Pao bush, but light-roasted in a style that is similar to the one typically used for Dan Cong oolongs. This clarifies the similarity I mention experiencing between this Da Hong Pao and Mi Lan Dan Cong. See the attached comments for additional detail.]
This came as a sample with my order from Mandala. I was excited to try it as my yixing teapot is dedicated to Big Red Robe. I had waited until a couple of my tea friends were over, and we brewed this up as the fourth or fifth tea of the evening. As it happens we had just finished drinking a lackluster Mi Lan Dan Cong (Honey Fragrance Phoenix Mountain Oolong), and when the first infusion of this Big Red Robe was brewed up the most peculiar thing happened… One of my tea friends tasted it and exclaimed, “This tea tastes like it actually is what that Mi Lan Dan Cong was trying to be.”
I then tasted it myself. What!? Wait a minute, I thought, what is this? This tea, labelled and sold as a “light roast” Da Hong Pao, bore an uncanny resemblance to Mi Lan Dan Cong in its flavor, in its fragrance, and in the look of the leaves (when we compared the samples side by side). Could it have been a miscommunication? If we hadn’t just tried another Mi Lan Dan Cong immediately beforehand, I might never have noticed.
If it really is a Mi Lan Dan Cong, rather than a Da Hong Pao, I think it’s a pretty good quality one. This was unambiguously better than the Mi Lan Dan Cong oolong I tried from Asha, and also another Mi Lan Dan Cong oolong my friends brought over to try. The sample I tried from Goldfish Tea still wins out over this one, but I’d definitely be happy to drink this tea from Mandala any time. It’s really nice!
But now, let me leave a qualification on this…. If the tea in question really is a “Light Roast” Big Red Robe, I’m kind of perplexed. The leaves are smaller, the characteristic smoky/roasted flavor at the beginning is absent, and it’s just far from what one would generally expect from Big Red Robe. The only kinship this tea has with Big Red Robe that I can draw on is a fruitiness in it’s profile that bears some resemblance to the fruit notes in a Qilan Big Red Robe I’ve tried, which was the best example of this kind of tea I’ve ever tried. This tea from Mandala and that Qilan Big Red Robe aren’t in the same league at all, but it’s the only reference point for similarity I can draw. It makes much more sense to me that Mandala’s “Light Roast” Big Red Robe is actually a pretty good Mi Lan Dan Cong.
Anyway… maybe this will be cleared up at some point. Good tea, but made for some curious head scratching. [Addendum: In light of the insight that this tea is indeed Da Hong Pao, I am interested in trying it again and re-assessing it with that knowledge at some point.]
I wanted a lighter tea this afternoon since I think all that black tea was being a little hard on my stomach, so I decided to give this one a try. Plus it’s supposed to be all health-improving and such, so it can’t hurt, right?
The dry leaf smells pungently of rose and lemon. It’s one of those teas that smells so strongly it’s hard to put your nose in the pouch to smell it. Primarily rose, and that holds over to the steeped tea (though it’s not nearly so strong). The flavor is also primarily rose with an accompaniment of bright lemon. The rose in rose blacks is usually warm, rich, and full, like roses in a vase at home; this rose is fresh, bright and green, like a rose in the garden. It makes me wish that I had a rose green that was actually scented traditionally, as opposed to rose flavoring added like this one, but I don’t know if they make those. The rosemary and sage don’t really make themselves known in the taste, besides probably edging the rose toward a more herbaceous flavor rather than a candy-sweet rose. The green tea is a bit grassy, but not a major player in the flavor. Overall a drinkable, pleasant tea, but I feel like it lacks some depth.
I’d been wondering about this tea for a while now and finally got some this fall. Wow. It took a couple times to get to know how to steep this tea well—about 10 minutes in boiling water does the trick. It’s chocolatey and a bit fruity, has a hint of spice (if you brew it long enough), and is supremely cozy and comforting. I would love to try it with a little splash of soymilk—I tried it with a lot of soymilk and completely lost the flavor of the tea. This is definitely one of my favorite cozy/warm teas. The first 2 ounces I got were gone in a matter of weeks. I’m steeping it right now with some Honeybush Vanilla and it’s very difficult to wait to try it—the aroma is intoxicating. If you like spicy hot chocolate you will love this.
I wasn’t interested in this tea.
Like not even a little.
Mulberry Magic? There is nothing about that name that thrills me.
But it was the tea of the day today with Carrot Cake (which I was hoping was in the little shot glass I was handed) so I tried it.
YUMMY YUM! I couldn’t quite identify the taste, but when the girl behind the counter at the David’s in Polo Park said, “Cake batter,” that was 100 percent correct. I had baked a cake less than 24 hours prior — a fluffy from-scratch yellow cake to make my daughter’s 2-year birthday cake — and that was totally the taste I was getting.
I was there to buy Forever Nuts and Pumpkin Chai and accidentally also walked out with 50g of Mulberry Magic.
Now it’s on my terms. Steeped a touch heavy (a little over 1/2 Tbsp for my 12oz mug), but since I enjoyed it so much in the store, I will be drinking it naked.
I want to stick my finger in the steeper and lick that flavour off. It smells like it should be thick, dripping and contain raw eggs. (Those are all good characteristics.) The tea, too, smells like it will be shocking to drink a liquid instead of a batter.
Ooh, it tastes way different at home. It’s a little hotter and a little heavier. And it tastes like booze! As a pregnant lady, I really appreciate that. It tastes like some fancy after-dinner drink in a fancy restaurant where you’d be all, “Wow, this is delicious. I think I’ll make this at home for guests,” but you never do. THIS I would serve to guests.
I can see craving this around Christmas. And I can see making this Christmas morning to open presents.
Listening to: work. And the INCOMPARABLE Mike Tompkins: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtBeobpTcmk
This is the third of five samples given by China Cha Dao. The dry leaf is beautiful. First impression is this is the longest leaf of any tea I have used to date. It smells fresh and green. The color range of the leaf is from dark green to almost white.
Used my typical western approach. 2g of tea. Water is same temp as I typically use for my greens. Heat the water to just boiling, turn off, wait until the pot grows silent. Seems to work. Did a swirling wash with a few ounces and poured off.
First drinking steep at about 30 seconds. The wet leaf smells of fresh hay – a great smell to a country boy. Now that the leaf has relaxed, I can see that the length is due to the inclusion of stems. The brew is pale yellow-green and very clear. With the first sip I immediately notice that slightly sticky lip feel that I get with other puerhs. This is followed by a spectacular slightly earthy green tea flavor. Zero bitterness. I did not notice any fishiness the others mentioned. This is a light and mellow but not boring puerh. Halfway through the first cup I can tell you I love this. I could drink this all day long. Oh wait, with multiple steeps I may be able to drink it for two days! Woot!
I had 4 cups of this today and each was very similar to the last.
This was a rather interesting experience for me, because I am used to milder green teas. This tea was like a sledgehammer of greenness. From the moment the hot water hit the leaves, there was an almost overwhelming vegetative aroma. The first sip was the same, except that there was a bit of a bitter taste as well.
I was once again brewing this in the so-called “Grandpa” style, meaning I added water to the tea when I started to get low. I am writing this review 3 hours later, and the only real difference is that the aroma and taste have mellowed. From how it tastes, I think the leaves haven’t yet reached the end of their life either. This longevity is something to be commended, and greatly enhanced the score I gave this tea.
In the end, this is an above-average tea, but not something that I would recommend for a new tea drinker, an not really something that I would go out of my way to purchase.
Thanks again to Tea Forte for these samples. Unfortunately, I haven’t had anything from them that I would purchase on my own.
Admittedly this was likely my fault this time. I should know better than to rely on a keurig to produce water that’s the right temperature for green tea but at work I don’t have many options and I bring any and all bagged tea to work.
I decided to have this one because I feel like I might be coming down with a cold: scratchy throat, runny nose…fun stuff.
There’s just not much flavor here. A slight sweetness (that went weird with the addition of calorie free sweetener) but that’s about it.
When I first opened the package, I got very excited because it had that strong, spicy scent of the MarketSpice signature tea. But the flavor is quite a bit different. It isn’t as spicy as the MarketSpice, and it seems quite a bit smoother as well, which I attribute to the apple-y flavors.
This does taste like Spiced Cider and black tea. A really delightful cup, and makes me eager for more Autumn (we had some autumn-like weather a few days ago, and then we had summer-like heat again. What’s up with that? Quit teasing me with the autumn and just bring it on already!)
You can smell this tea from about 2-3 feet away. The scent isn’t as dark and spicy as other Keemun Mao Fengs I’ve had in the past. There’s instead a mild or medium smokey smell, and a fruit quality that I can’t quite name.
The flavor is pleasing. Not as smokey/spicy as I’d hope and like, but otherwise really good. It is nicely smokey, though, with a very faint, almost-not-there sweetness or fruit tone -again that I can’t place.
Over-all, I’m glad I picked up a 4oz bag of this. I’d run out of my Keemun Mao Feng from The Steeping Room and needed more, this is a nice replacement.
WHOA holy flavor. I was that shocked, yes. I don’t know where all that sugary sweetness comes from! It is delicious! It reminds me of the Hot Tamales candies that I love. I don’t know what the “three types” of cinnamon are here, but they are magic. There has to be some sort of sugar in this though, it is so sugary and it is consistant throughout the entire cup. The color of the steep is a nice brownish dark orange. As for a black tea, it isn’t too strong, really letting the cinnamon shine.
I love this white tea with rose it makes for such a delicate tea that to me it is the perfect afternoon tea to accompany something sweet as the tea itself is so light with no lingering aftertaste allowing you to really savour what you are eating along with it.
I was disappointed when I opened the packet to see so much ‘dust’ and very chopped up leaves but in saying that it hasn’t distracted from the taste and it still delivers a very beautiful cup of tea.
The taste is of a very, very light tea – no bitterness, only a small amount of grassiness and an overshadowing of crisp rose. I enjoy the first infusion of this tea and prefer to start over again if I ever finish off a teapot but I find it lends itself to protracted drinking and I can make a teapot of this tea last a good hour, I also don’t find I’m put off if I let it get lukewarm which is handy as I have a tendency to really drag out my drinking of this.
It is one of T2’s more expensive teas but they often have it for sample in store in the summer months – I think because it’s such a light tea – so I’d recommend keeping an eye out for it.
White rose tea is the tea that got me drinking tea and this is a good white rose tea so I really recommend giving this to a friend who has yet to turn to the tea-side. :)
I saw Frank offer this one and immediately jumped to buy it. Everything about it screamed my name. One of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever made was a pumpkin cheesecake and the memories came flooding back. I couldn’t wait. Finally, it arrived and I made it the following morning, but I’m left a bit puzzled on several different levels.
First, the scent is slightly spicy. I’m thinking warm pumpkin pie. It’s definitely that nutmeg, slightly cinnamon promise of autumn’s enduring flavors. The addition of the marigold petals is perfect. It adds that touch of color that embodies the season. Aesthetically, it’s a pleasing tea, too.
After steeping, I’m still mentally tasting the spices and my mind is still anticipating pumpkin… until I take a sip and I’m not tasting pumpkin. Or cheesecake. Yet, as disappointing as this is, the actual flavor of the tea is not. It is warm and spicy in a perfect autumnal fashion. The tea is not bitter, but is instead a nice, mellow black that carries the flavor without casting its influence over it. I think the issue I have is the name. Maybe Autumn Spice would have been a better choice for what it actually is. Even though the pumpkin is missing, I’ve been drinking this each day since it arrived in my mailbox. It’s really a nice tea for the morning.
Loving this one! The colour is so gorgeous, a rich, golden, murky cup. Murky in the best way, of course – like unrefined apple juice. I think the 3 minute steep was not quite enough for me..I always worry about oversteeping green and white teas. No bitterness, but it was also a little on the watery side. I added a tiny bit of brown sugar and it was a lovely and comforting drink on a cool evening.
Tea shared with a friend is all the more sweet….. Thank you to ashmanra for sending me this sample. Once again, it goes to show there are Lapsang Souchong blends out there that I like.
The tea is more smokey than I am used to. I know some comes from the Lapsang, but I think some comes from the Keemun, too. I do think this one is a little more tobacco-ey and a little less sweet than the Lapsang Souchong Black Dragon that I really enjoy. Since I am not usually one to add milk to tea, this is probably about my limit on smoke. I may have to do some experimenting with milk again. I am finding that things that did not appeal to me at one point in my tea journey work quite nicely for me at a later date. If anything, this has taught me to keep an open mind…
I’m not sure if my taste buds are broken, or if I just got a different batch than the hated one, but I actually rather enjoy this tea.
It does smell amazingly like apple cider, but doesn’t really taste anything like it, so I can’t help but feel a little disappointment on first sip. And the tea part of this mixture is just not present; a stronger tea would make this a lot tastier.
That said, the spices are there and quite pleasant, it has a nice hint of apple despite the lack of cideryness (it’s a word now), the licorice adds a bit of flavor, and it’s smooth and pretty tasty. Plus it just smells fantastic. It’s not among the best teas I’ve had, but I really like it anyway, if that makes any sense.
I did notice that, in a very bizarre twist, it actually becomes less pleasant and more papery tasting the longer it steeps, so maybe that’s part of the problem? Steeping longer seems to leech out the spices and especially the apple, leaving behind only the mediocre tea and a hint of licorice.
This may be my current favorite tea. I love pearls—I may be easily amused—and I love jasmine. Oh, and I love white tea. What’s not to love?
I was drawn to it the moment I opened the little package from Steepster Select. It has a delicious jasmine-y scent. When I took the leaves off I thought for a moment that I hadn’t steeped it long enough, because it’s really light. I may have kept it on a little longer. But it didn’t make it bitter or anything. It’s a great tea for my morning ritual. Not too dark, with a subtle fragrance (even after oversteeping), and a smooth texture.
As a bonus, it still tastes good when I accidentally leave it out for too long. I haven’t tried this one iced, but I suspect it would be just as good. There aren’t too many teas that can get away with keeping their flavor at room temperature.
Such an interesting tea. I recently finished up a 12.5g pack, with another 12.5g pack set aside for aging as part of my white tea aging experiment. While this tea is white by process, it’s black by flavor. There’s such an incredible rich sweetness that comes naturally from this tea, like light maple syrup or agave nectar. Cooked stonefruit rounds out. What impresses me the most about this tea is it’s durability. Gong-fu style, I was able to produce rich tea for about 12 infusions!
If Jane Austen Mafia were a band I’d buy every song in their catalog, and I’d wear my band tee long after they sell out and go mainstream. That’s the kind of dedicated fan I’d be!
Jane Austen Mafia isn’t a band even though it is the best band name ever. Jane Austen Mafia is a tea. A pretty damn fantastically grand flavored black tea! Vanilla and blackberry combine with black tea for a marriage built on equality and true love worthy of a 19th century novel penned by an idealistic forward thinker.
This tea sample tasted particularly sweet because it was given to me with sacrifice in the spirit of true tea-friendship. Teawing sent me the very last bit of Jane Austen Mafia that he had left and it’s one of his favorite teas. Who other than a true gentleman would do such a thing? I owe him a huge debt of gratitude!
This smells HEAVENLY. I am a blueberry fan, and this smells like sweet ripe juicy berries…even like cooked bluieberry pie, where all you can smell is sugar and blueberries! If I concentrate deeply I get a hint of what must be the sage, but this is mostly just a blueberry assault on the nose. If it tastes like it smells, this might be one I actually keep on hand.
Steeped, that sage really comes out to play, in the smell at least. There is stil a definite blueberry aroma going on, but that sage is surprisingly bold. Honestly, I’m a little concerned about the sage business, I don’t know that I’ve experienced it in a tea before.
First sips are tart blueberry, with the sage hiding under the taste and a sweeper blueberry flavour on the aftertaste. It’s surprisingly complex over the course of the sip. I really enjoy the aftertaste of juicy blueberries, but wish that the tart aspect up front were diminished. This is definitely enjoyable and one that I think I will keep an eye out for, but wouldn’t make a special order for (mostly because I have “too much tea”). I don’t get any alcohol or medicinal taste in this which is, at this point, a huge relief. Thumbs up!
Goodness gracious great BALLS OF POPCORN! This smells like the movie theatre, both dry and liquor. It tastes like popcorn balls and apples and heaven. I had no idea apples went so well with popcorn. It’s like kettle corn with a hint of sweet apple flavoring. I added a touch of german rock sugar and a pinch of salt. I am literally gulping this down. I need to order this pronto. Thanks Jenn!
*I steeped the recommended 2 tsp per 8 ounces for 7 minutes at 200 degrees.