Featured & New Tasting Notes
Sipping on this one with Milk and a little homemade Ginger Syrup, it is pretty damn good.
This tea is bold enough to stand up to the also bold flavor of my ginger syrup(its strong) and the milk makes it smooth and creamy and take away the bite of the syrup.
On my second cup now and i’m already thinking about the next cup, This is just ridiculous good like OMG! This one would probably make a decent Chai tea base.
Found this tea at a local store. It is strong with a malty and a fruity note. It is strong enough to stand up to my adding honey and it still tastes like tea, not like honey. This is definitely one of the strongest teas I have had.
I brewed this once in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.
I could resist no longer. Boston has been sitting on my counter all week, unopened.
I tried to be strong. I tried to finish off lots and lots of summery teas, samples, and other odd bits in my cupboard before touching this. And, while I have made progress on all those things, I am not made of stone.
So today, with reverence and joy, I brewed up Boston Blend, possibly my favorite autumnal blend of them all.
The notes of almond and cranberry sang, and the fragrant steam from my cup caressed my face as I sipped this, the first cup of fall.
Oh Boston, how lovely it is to have you here again.
I am afraid there is no stopping me now…. The autumnal blends are now fair game!
I wanted something fairly straightforward this morning, and this fit the bill perfectly. It’s still one of my favourite plain black teas – deliciously malty, with strong chocolate and cocoa notes. It’s very easy to drink, very smooth, and works well both with and without milk. I have a feeling this – or one of Teavivre’s Dian Hongs — will be a permanent fixture in my cupboard. They’re just too good to do without.
Bought some of this today having totally forgot that I had bought it before. Ah well. There seems to be a note of apples, that must be the chamomile. A lemon taste from the lemongrass is also present. This is reasonably good tea but I don’t really know that it will help me sleep. It has elements that are considered relaxing, mainly chamomile, but it doesn’t have anything sedating like Valerian. Of course if this contained Valerian Root it would taste pretty vile.
I steeped this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 4 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 5 minutes.
Flavors: Apple, Lemongrass
Crazy game update time! Yesterday I woke up early, as Ben was leaving it caused me to become awake enough to have to go to the bathroom (tea drinkers woes) and I saw my phone was blinking up a storm, the Minecraft update had arrived…and my desire to go back to sleep left. New blocks and banners make my builder self happy (though so bummed about no purpur blocks, I neeeeed them) and the Chinese Mashup Pack was beautiful, but with almost all the really thematic textures it makes my world look so tacky so I didn’t buy it. Tempting though for a new world full of Chinese builds, but I have enough to do on Ramble, even if it does mean no Jianshi zombies. Later that night, unable to sleep, my phone starts blinking like crazy…apparently Ark Primitive+ got a massive much needed update to fix the enormity of bugs, so I keep bouncing between Minecraft and Ark and that is more or less my life right now!!
It is probably well known by now that I have a ‘thing’ for purple tea, and it is not just because it gives me a reason to shout ANTHOCYANIN like a battle cry, there is something about this flavonoid pigment that subtly alters the taste to a way that makes my brain happy. It is no shock that many of my favorite foods and flowers (and edible flowers) are loaded with Anthocyanin, so of course teas with high levels of Anthocycanin have to be tried. And they do taste different than their less purple associates, no matter how it is processed, I once tried a Kenyan Silver Needle and a Kenyan Purple Silver Needle from the same farm and year, and yep, definitely a difference in taste, so it is not just a visual difference. This all leads up to today’s tea from Bitterleaf Teas, Dragon Blood 2015 Spring Lin Cang Zi Juan Raw Purple Tea. Zi Juan (which is one of the names for Purple Tea, along with Zi Ya, and Zi Cha) can be processed like any tea (ones processed like a Hong Cha are a personal favorite) and this one is processed similar to a Sheng Puerh, similar enough that I brew it like I would a young sheng. Before brewing though, I need to give the beautiful dark leaves a good sniffing, and I am greeted with a smorgasbord of notes! Grilled eggplants, fresh sage and oregano, distant almost perfectly ripe peaches, basil, lettuce, and cooked tomatoes. It smells like a veggie kebab straight off the grill on a summer day, I want to eat the leaves, it is so savory and that slight sweet edge from the peach note is delectable.
After the rinse and first steep, the aroma of the leaves is fascinating, it is malty yet meaty, savory and sweet, green and smoky, fun times! Notes of sage, grilled eggplant, lettuce, gentle pine wood campfire after rain, pine greenwood, and a touch of camphor lift off the wet leaves. The liquid is light, a buttery blend of eggplant (man I really want Baba Ghanoush now) with fresh sage and a touch of peach skin and peach leaves. Like the dry leaves the peach note is just short of being perfectly ripe so it has that crispness and not just intense sweetness that a perfect ripe peach has, I am Southern and the ripeness of peaches is very important, clearly.
This tea starts out nectar sweet, like an immense burst of flower nectar that takes you by surprise, it then changes into something else and depending on what steep it is can be either vegetal notes of lettuce and bok choy or bitter hops. This then turns into the part of the tea that was one of my favorites, grilled eggplants! I hated eggplant when I was a kid, nowI love them, especially when they have been grilled and have that touch of smokiness to them. The finish of the first couple steeps all have a peculiar hard to nail down finish, it is not quite malty, not quite savory, not quite salty…it flits around between different notes at lighting speed that when I finally feel like I know what it is the taste has drifted off to something else, it reminds me a bit of the way Kimchi dances around from note to note at a rapid speed, though it tastes nothing like Kimchi except savory and a bit like cooked cabbage. The mouthfeel starts thick and stays thick, almost oily, coating my mouth like a non-Newtonian solid. I enjoyed the first part of this session so much I drew a little heart in my notebook next to it.
Let it be known that steep four, five, and six had me floating on an eggplant like cloud. Seriously I was so happy and floaty that I think I am going to drink this tea next time I have to do public speaking…I might not make any sense though since I am pretty sure this tea makes me super tea stoned. Even though this tea’s qi is super powerful, its effects were pleasant, not the ants crawling under my skin sensation some powerful qi can hit me with. There is more to the middle steeps than a qi that makes me float off into another realm, there is the grilled eggplant note that sticks around til the very end, a gentle sweet sugar cane note, a rain on slate and copper note with a finish of bok choy. Like the earlier steeps this one is thick and oily but finishes with a subtle lightness that matches the floaty feel of the tea.
The end is near, the final three steeps bring in notes of sugar cane, distant grilled eggplants (until the very last steep, steep ten, where it is gone) and a blend of mineral and copper. There are fleeting notes of bok choy and peaches, but they float away quickly, at times having me wonder if I dreamed them. This was quite the enjoyable session, one that lifted my spirits and made me feel relaxed and blissfully without pain, something someone with Fibromyalgia doesn’t get much of. I am saving the rest of my sample for extra pain or stress filled days and hope to get a cake for later, as I am very curious to see how this one ages.
This tea makes me happy. Not because it’s the “best” or “highest quality” tea, but because it’s exactly what I want in a roasted oolong. Good complexity with fruity, spice, grain, and resiny notes with just the right amount of roast to compliment but not overpower. Overall it just “fits” my pallet right, like the worlds most comfortable pair of underwear. I’ve been drinking this a lot lately, whenever I’m not craving anything in particular, and I’ll definitely have to stock up on a lot the next time I order from Mountain Tea.
Flavors: Fruity, Resin, Roasted, Spices
I obtained a sample from the Pu’erh Plus TTB. I think it’s this particular shou – the label didn’t say who the vendor was, but that it was provided by mrmopar.
Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf a 10-second rinse, then a rest for a couple minutes. Steeping times: 5, 8, 10, 15, 10, 20, 40; 1 min, 1, 2, 5, 12.
The dry leaf smells earthy and sweet, and the wet leaf aroma even sweeter, so much like dark chocolate. The soup color starts off as burnt orange and darkens to ruddy brown. A little cloudy in the beginning (viewing the soup from the pitcher), but eventually clears up by the end of the session. The first couple infusions are a little sweet with some thickness, mostly tasting of fermentation (I think). The middle infusions – 3 through 10 – taste just like the wet leaf aroma: very sweet with a bitter dark chocolate note. Creamy in texture. This was the heart of the session. One word I wrote down was “yum.” I also eventually tasted the Raisinettes note that I usually get in a chocolate-like shou. Infusions 11-13 are still creamy, but the chocolate disappears, replaced by cut wood.
This is another tea that Superanna brought me from London. There are three beautiful boxes of sachets in one presentation box. The sachets are cloth and not paper. Kudos!
I am enjoying another quiet morning at home and wanted a special tea again. The red fruits appealed to me this morning. It is very cloudy and chilly outside (63F is chilly for here right now, okay? Ha ha!) and I have to go out to feed and water the chickens first thing, so breakfast is extra cozy.
The fruity aroma is a herald of the fruity taste to come. The tea base is present, not hidden under fake candy taste, and the fruit flavor is smooth, natural, and balanced. I got a really nice second steep out of the sachet so I may try for a third.
Very nice and worthy of such a morning as this, peaceful music playing and cozy under a linen blanket.
Sample obtained through the Pu’erh Plus TTB and prepared in a gongfu session, with a ceramic gaiwan. I gave the leaf a 3-second rinse and no rest. Steeping times: 5 seconds, 8, 10, 12, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 45, 60, 90; 2 minutes, 4, 10.
I’m going to kick off this review my saying that, during the four months since I took the sample from the box, I think I inadvertently dried the humidity out of the leaf.
The dry leaf smells of tobacco, light apricot, and black pepper all at once. Having sat in the pre-heated gaiwan brought out more apricot and a little smoke. The wet leaf in the beginning of the session smells of the field grass, then changes to apricot in the middle.
The soup color is golden. Infusions 1 through 4 are incredibly sweet with apricot – with a little bitterness underneath – and have strong huigan. After the second, the soup has energetic mouthfeel. 3’s texture is thick and oily. I reheated the water to boiling since the temperature had fallen to 195-200. I would later confirm that infusing the leaf in 200< degree water produces sweetness. Boiling brings out bitterness as well. Infusions 5-8 taste of camphor and black pepper as well as a continuing apricot. The more I let the soup sit in my mouth, the more peppery it is. There is a cooling effect upon swallowing. At this point and this point only I feel qi, which is induces relaxation. (Maaaaybe because I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. I started feeling nauseated just before my break – HEY I ACTUALLY NEED TO EAT, I remembered. Quickly fixed.)
After the first break, I go through 9-11. The soup tastes more bitter – same intensity as the apricot note. The bitterness strengthens in the aftertaste. The texture has become creamy.
Another, longer break. 12-14 mostly have bitter, grass notes with slight huigan. (I didn’t feel like boiling the leaf as the website suggests because I was hungry (just came back from exercising and all).)
I’ve had this for a while, I don’t remember where from, and for some reason I just haven’t tried it. I actually recently lost my job, so I will probably have more time to drink tea! (have to look on the bright side right?)
I actually thought this had black tea in it instead of green, and brewed it accordingly, but luckily it doesn’t seem to have burnt the tea any! I definitely smell the vanilla in this one, though the taste is slightly more subtle. The rooibos definitely doesn’t overwhelm the flavor and that’s nice
Started my morning with a cup of this one.
I thought the toastyness of the tea would be the perfect hug this morning for the weather; and the sweetness of the chocolate notes creeping it fit perfectly as well. It was very much a cup of tea for pensive reflection and engulfing yourself in the surrounding environment.
It’s been raining heavily all week, and is expected to do so for the rest of the week as well and while my roommates are heavily complaining about the rain I’ve been loving every second of it. At the very least, I’ve been hanging out in the living with the balcony door open just listening to the pitter patter and soaking in the smell of the petrichor.
However, this morning I was actually on the balcony during the storm with a hot cup of tea, and Eilert behind the gate with a bowl of spinach just soaking everything in and enjoying it all. My roommate Cathryn got up to make breakfast/head to class and saw me out on the balcony – and of course I had my laptop propped right inside the balcony door so it couldn’t get wet and I could listen to my obligatory music whilst enjoying my cup of tea. It just heavily tied into the overall mood and aesthetic of not just the cup of tea but the rain storm as well.
Today’s song pairing was this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G10fjK9bUJk
But holy shit, I didn’t expect it to lead into the conversation that I wound up having with Cathryn. She very happily came outside to tell me that “I know that song!”. Which, honestly, kind of excited me too ’cause we have such different tastes in music. So, this was a rare occurrence.
“Yeah, isn’t Fleetwood Mac great? I mean, I’m especially partial to this song but they’re just great in general”. This got a very puzzled look from her.
“No, it’s a Dixie Chicks song. I should know, I just went to their concert over the weekend. It’s one of my favourites and they sang it there. But yeah, this is a decent cover I guess…”
“No, Cathryn, this is the original. The Dixie Chicks version is the cover…”
“I’m running late for class – so I’ll just let you have this one.”
“But… I’m right…?”
So that was a thing that happened this morning. I’ll admit that it made me feel quite old; and Cathryn and I only have two years of age difference in the first place. Well, we almost agreed on something music based. I guess that’s something.
Why don’t I drink more green tea?
I always love it when I drink it, and I used to drink green tea every day, but I don’t love it the way I love Black/Red Tea. I guess that’s the reason.
Plus I can’t drink green tea on an empty stomach…there’s always that…
But anyway, this is a lovely one, more delicate in appearance than Dragonwell, with a clean vegetal taste, a buttery aroma, and a thickness that builds on the tongue, sip by sip.
Much gratitude to Angel and Teavivre for the sample.
Speaking of Teavivre, I finally got my sipdown extravaganza down to below 200 teas in my cupboard (190, actually), so now I’m allowed to order from one company per month, with wild abandon. This month it was Teavivre, as their black teas have been missing from my cupboard for quite some time, and I’m getting low on black teas anyway!
sipdown – 189
I’m not much of a facon person, but I think this tea is fascinating. This facon/rooibos/pineapple tea is totally unlike anything I’ve ever had. It’s juicy, salty, and throaty. It’s lush.
It’s also a little bit peculiar.
For the full review, click here:
My daughter, Superanna, went to London a couple of weeks and brought me LOTS of tea. She sent me a link to look at this shop, and in addition to buying tea to bring home to me, she bought one tea and had it shipped from the store so I could see their adorable postcards that match the label of each tea.
When she asked me if I had tried this tea yet, knowing Keemun is a favorite of mine, I told her I was saving it for a special time. Today was time. I decided to take a morning for myself and enjoy some good tea.
I had tried one new Keemun last week that I bought as a daily drinker. I knew by the price it should be serviceable but wasn’t top of the line. I tried it and it was good, simple, not complex, no milk needed to smooth out roughness, no sugar needed to add interest.
But this one – oh, this one. When I measured out the leaves for this tea, I noticed they didn’t seem very large. What a surprise when I took out the infuser minutes later and saw big, tan/brown leaves and an aroma hit me that made me want to weep with gratitude.
There are layers of scent and layers of flavor. It has lovely, full body and it tastes of sweet molasses/honey with malt and walnut. If anything distracted me during breakfast, one sip of the tea arrested my attention and brought me back to fully enjoying the cup.
Kudos, Postcard Teas. You’re not just a pretty face.
Additional notes: This stuff is amazing steeped with two teaspoons about 12-14 minutes after the water has boiled. A little more of the candy hearts cinnamon peaks out than last time which is a little odd in my opinion for a bread tea, but it’s delicious anyway. If anyone has some for sale, I’d love to buy it, as the next steep session will be my last. Raising my rating from an 83.
Today’s work SBT. Love blueberry, love banana, so this one should be a hit with me. I prepared it the usual way, and I’m pretty pleased with the result. The blueberry is strong, flavour accurate, juicy, fruity…everything you’d want a blueberry tea to be. The banana, though, is surprisingly absent. I say surprising, because usually it’s a flavour 52Teas/SBT do really well. It’s always a candy-like banana, but also always a flavour you can depend on to come over well. Sadly, I can’t taste it at all here.
I’m thinking it might be because the blueberry is so strong (I can’t even really taste much of the black tea base, which is a rarity with SBTs for me). I’m in no way disappointed with the way that comes across. It’s not really blueberry banana tea, though. Just blueberry, which is fine with me, but the name established certain expectations. If it’s only blueberry, just call it blueberry. Nothing wrong with that!
I feel really bad saying this because my boss gave me a package of this tea as a birthday gift, but: this tea is gross.
I don’t mind the fennel, but what really gets me are the rosehip/hibiscus and the stevia. Waaaaaay too much stevia in here. This just tastes cloying and metallic and artificial.
Now what to do with the remaining tea in the package? No idea.
I enjoy Hei cha. I don’t drink it every day, but generally speaking, when I order from YS, I like add some Heicha samples to my order. They are nice to have around for variety, and not expensive.
This one has a bit of a sour rye bread flavor, which I find typical of this type of tea. It’s not sour in a bad way, and this quality is part of what makes it interesting, palette cleansing, and different from both Black and Red teas. Lightly smokey pine, tobacco, & a sweet tart aftertaste with a lingering juiciness complete the picture & make this a pleasant end to my tea drinking day.
Konnichi wa ocha no yūjin!
Or if that made no sense:
Hello tea friends!
Japan is a country that inspires me to the point of being in awe. The culture, the technology, the religions, their traditions, and especially their tea. I thought I had experienced everything a few years ago that had to do with tea, until I went into the world of Japanese tea. There is nothing like it! If you have never tried Japanese tea for yourself then I highly recommend trying it. Part of this reason is because Japanese tea contains umami which is the fifth taste which translates to ‘pleasant savoury taste’. It may sound strange for a tea to taste savoury but I tend to liken it to a soup broth, completely unique and bursting with flavours. This is why I am so taken with Japanese tea in general.
I am happy and excited to be drinking some First Flush Midori Shincha by NaturaliTea as sold by Yunomi. No idea what Midori or Shincha is? Let me break it down: Midori means green and Shincha translates to ‘new tea’ which refers to when it was picked. Basically a Shincha is the first harvest of Sencha leaves which is also known as Ichibancha ‘ the first picked tea’. Besides the fresh aroma of the young leaves, Shincha is characterised by its relatively low content of bitter catechin and caffeine, and relatively high content of amino acid. This makes the Shincha harvested limited in size of the batch and also the time it is picked. And to finish off for Japanese tea newbies Sencha is a ryokucha or green tea cultivar that is indigenous to Japan, so much so that Sencha is Japans most commonly consumed tea with Sencha production being 80% of all tea produced in Japan.
Now it’s time for the tea itself. Opening the sample pack reveals bright, glossy green leaf shards that are loosely broken. They bare a gorgeous sweet grass and mineral scent.
Steeping a Japanese tea is rather different than steeping a general green tea, the water temperature and steeping length can either enhance the umami or bypass it. A lot of it comes down to experimentation and preference; I like a nice umami which often comes through in low temperature water and short steeps. So I will be trying to find the umami goodness. Another thing you often find is the change of temperature, an example being the first steep at 80C, the second at 40 C and third at 70C. Again that would be because it enhances the umami quality.
My Steeping Parameters: 200ml Yunomi (Japanese cup), 360ml Futanashi Tokoname (lidless teapot used to enhance freshness and scent), 10g loose leaf.
I want another note: my teapot is larger than my yunomi but I will only be using my teapot to 200ml. Also this is a sizeable yunomi that needed to be adjusted for. Otherwise I would recommend 3g of leaf to 60ml water.
Also, Yunomi bared this note: Our recommend steeping method is to use water cooled to about 40˚C/105˚F steeped for 2-3 minutes for the best balance between sweetness and umami (savory) flavors.
For that reason my first steep will be 2 minutes at 40C. (Room temperature is usually around 20C).
Once steeped the resulting tea liquid is cloudy, golden yellow colour that bares a vegetable (broccoli) and sweet grass scent. Not dissimilar to it’s raw state.
The first sips reveals a strong, broth like flavour packed with sweet grass, spinach, kale and mixed flowers with a pleasant, bitter aftertaste that lightens and becomes sweeter. That was the first sip, as you can see it packs a lot of different flavours and information in it. The after taste is lingering for very long in my mouth. I say broth because it reminds me of a strong, hearty, soup broth full of green vegetables.
The umami is very strong, so much so that I feel like I’ve jumped into an ice cold bath with every punching sip I take. But I can’t stop myself from sipping. The umami washes over me with warmth and wide eyed energy. A few sips more lighten the tea while my tongue adjusts to this unique flavour. It detects sweet honey and salty seaweed notes among the ever growing broth blend.
Second Steep – 80C for 45 seconds (see the jump in temperature?)
So the shorter steep at hotter temperature is mostly because I want to test the body of the green tea. Umami comes out in the first steep but it gets weaker over time, that is why I Umami the first steep and green tea the rest of it.
Yes, the umami is less than half of what it was. The punch that it packed is now a shadow of it’s former self; that being said it’s still a strong steep. It still has strong sweet grass and vegetal tones, and it’s also a little bitter; but it is lacking as much depth and oomph as the first steep. This is a good example of how much water temperature and steeping time can change a Japanese tea.
The sweetness is less so it’s not honeyed in this steep but it is hay like and grassy. In terms of broth this is mid level, like the vegetables are in a pan with water and steeping for a while, enough to have flavoured the water, but there is still more flavour left to go.
Third Steep – 60C for 30 seconds (another temperature change)
Why the change? I want a lower temperature to increase any remaining umami that is left, whilst lessening the steeping time a little to try and reduce the bitterness. This is another example of why I said it’s best to experiment with Japanese teas, it’s all down to personal preference. Some people will read this and think I had it too strong or perhaps don’t agree with my parameters at all. I didn’t plan on the times for my second or third steep but I read what I wanted from the tea and it’s potential.
Was it a good decision to change? Yes. This steep is very light in taste but some umami can be found admidst the sweet, bitterness. This cup is more raw cabbage like than broccoli. It bares the same mineral, green sort of taste. While it’s immensely weaker in strength I feel if it was warmer it would have been too bitter to appreciate the remaining umami. As such just before the bitterness kicks in and the powerful sweetness I can taste the broth.
This was a nice Shincha that packed an incredible umami punch. Sweet yet savoury, vegetal yet bitter, it was a delicious combination in one tea. I would recommend it to umami lovers or those looking to experience it for the first time. If you are then stick with short steeps and 70-80C temp until you find it at your desired level. Don’t be put off if you dislike it the first time around, it may take time to get it to your personal taste. And once you do it will grow on you! Plus not forgetting that this is Organic I can tell the clarity of the flavours once prepared. There is nothing in this tea that tastes chemical or unnatural.
If you haven’t experienced many Japanese teas before then I hope I have given you insight.
Until next time, Happy Steeping!