Featured & New Tasting Notes
Sipdown, hopefully temporary. TeaMaze is open again and this one’s on the top of the list when we get there. It’s my current favorite no-fail strawberry and cream black tea. Needs no sugar or milk; all the goodness is thoughtfully provided for you.
The last note I wrote for this was six very long months ago—the last time I got to go on an “Impact Day” adventure with my fifth and sixth grade church kids. Appropriate that I have picked it back up to fortify me for my first Sunday back with them after a long dry spell. They’re my weekly joy break, and my tank was well past empty. Counting the minutes till I get some (properly sterilized and sanitized) air hugs.
Last teabox black, from the Discovery Teabox, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and all who participated and shared teas in the teabox! (All I have left now are some very old teabox pu’erhs from the very last Here’s Hoping Teabox… and since pu’s aren’t my favorite, I’ve continued to sort of… uh… “let them age”? Hahaha.) Another floral tea, so of course I wanted to try it! Scooped a teaspoon (CBA to weigh this morning), 3 minute steep, 350ml of 205F water for my work thermos. Brewed to accompany my two pieces of toast with marmalade and then take to work with me.
This is a strongly lavender black tea. The florality isn’t perfumy but has a bit of a herbaceous bite, and that is with a short 3 minute steep (I bet any longer and it would’ve gone very bitter, as lavender in high quantities tends to do that easily). This is probably stronger in lavender than any Lavender Earl Grey I’ve ever had… but then, maybe the bergamot is cutting through the lavender some in those cases. I like lavender, but omph, it is very heady here, and if I knew it would be this strong, I would’ve prepared this as a latte (I love me some lavender milk). As a bonified, 100% loves-all-things-lavender fan, and even I feel this tastes like a little too much, I think the blend could’ve either done with a) a little less lavender in the ratio or b) a stronger black base to compensate. I’m really not able to pick out any particular notes from the base black tea against the lavender. That said… the base tea is supposed to be apricot-flavored?! I think that was what interested me the most about this blend, as apricot plus lavender sounded like an absolute win of a flavor combo. But I do not taste any apricot at all! That’s a bit disappointing too. Who knows, maybe it is in there, but with the lavender being so strong, there is just no way to taste it…
I added a teaspoon of honey and a dash of lemon juice to the cup to add a bit of a mellowing effect against the strength of the lavender, and that was actually quite pleasant (I somehow always forget additives are there to save an otherwise meh cup!) I will probably continue that going forward with future cups, or go with the latte idea, since the milky/vanilla flavor will help compliment/cut through the lavender flower as well.
Not one of Simpson & Vail’s florals that I would purchase (it’s no Violet Black!) as without the novelty of the apricot with the lavender, I can easily add lavender buds to any black tea myself, and then control the propotions more to my taste. Definitely glad I got the chance to sample this first, since it’s the sort of thing I probably would’ve bought for myself and then been a bit disappointed that it wasn’t what I really wanted. Thanks so much for the sample, tea_sipper!
Flavors: Floral, Herbaceous, Lavender
One tea left in the pouch.
Today it is very clove based. Green tea with cloves. Haven’t noticed any smoky notes; only green tea with ginger/cloves spiciness.
Well, good for this afternoon. Need to finish it as soon as possible. Otherwise it would get very bland and even more boring.
Flavors: Clove, Ginger, Green
I prepared it as usual, two teaspoons for my 300 ml cup. As it is green tea, I have used bit colder water, tried close to 80°C, but haven’t measured as usual. Lazy me.
Although based on sight it isn’t the most precious sencha, it is a good base. Very smooth, noticeable in taste as a grassy flavour. I don’t think that freshly cut grass flavour would be necessary, this was maybe better. Ginger and lemon peel combination was great. Ginger wasn’t overpowering the taste for sure, but was noticeable, and lemon was like combined with honey. It was a bit on the sweet side, but not too sweet. It reminded me Halls Relief cough drops (ehm, sounds bad, but it wasn’t). I don’t really know if they are the same in the US, but I hope they are. We have different packages though. And we don’t use them against coughs.
The lemon was somehow juicy, but not sour at all, and as iced tea, it would be another delicious blend. But the weather says no, we had temperature drop to 15-18°C in the mornings, so no more iced/cold brews are needed.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Ginger, Lemon Zest
The dry bag had the typical sweet linden aroma. A pour of boiling water revealed nothing of substance. If anything, this served as a reminder to keep a high quality linden permanently stocked. I believe it and a strong peppermint to be my herbal panaceae.
Flavors: Dust, Earth, Flowers
Well, this is tea I haven’t ordered, but they added it to shipment as thank you for an order, so I am saying THANK YOU Casablanca Tea Company!
Effective from 1st of September, face masks in public will be mandatory again in my country. Schools have to be prepared for distance learning. But nobody cares about those students who may not have some kind of computer or they have, but don’t have internet connection. It is really small percentage of pupils (mostly), but they exist. Usually some low-income families. Nobody cares.
Tea review down here:
My typical set-up for Casablanca teas, so two teaspoons for 3 and half minute in my 300 ml glass cup.
Although when dry lavender took most present position, when brewed it is mostly the base with rose. Smooth and nice, floral tea. The base which is same for all three blacks I have (I assume) is again quite malty and strong, but roses and lavender are adding the floral notes as expected. Overall it is bit more on sweet side, nothing extra complex, but those teas are simple flavoured and definitely great for summers when you don’t want anything to care about.
Flavors: Floral, Malt
This is a vegetable infusion which was launched some time last year, I think. Cúrcuma=turmeric which seems to be the new power food, so it was a question of time before an infusion would be made with it, I guess. I got a sample tea bag somewhere recently, so I decided to give it a go. Honestly, I thought it might be worse than it actually is (it´s OK as a drink, I think), but when drinking it, I wasn´t really linking it to tea, as simple as that. It even seems to have more body than a normal infusion likely is to have.
People drinking the vegetable juices might think this infusion to be lovely, though.
From a few weekends ago – I went out for afternoon tea with three friends and the little cafe/tea house we went at served and sold Fortnum and Mason teas! This is the one that I ordered for myself, just a little pot of it with an apple and cheddar scone!
I feel like the pot was under leafed, but I didn’t want to complain/be “that person” at the cafe. However, this was very thin tasting and not all that smokey/robust at all. I’ve had this tea before, and it just wasn’t what I remember Fortnum’s Russian Caravan tasting like at all. This was soft smoke, and gentle oolong and a Russian Caraven should slap you in the face with its briskness.
The scone was really good though – I liked the smoky apple combo!
This is the final tea review from my big Camellia Sinensis purchase in 2018. (I repurchased the Gyokuro Okkabe and Feng Huang Hong Cha, but I’ve already reviewed these teas.) Camellia Sinensis regularly stocks three Dong Dings: Mr. Chang, Mr. Nen Yu, and Ms. Lin. The last of these is more often out of stock than available, so I decided there must be something to it. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of char, roast, honey, flowers, and plums. The wet leaves in the teapot smell like charcoal and roast, which makes me wonder why I have such a penchant for buying roasted teas that I can’t appreciate. The first steep has notes of roasted grain, honey, plum, caramel, wood, and roast. The plum becomes more pronounced in the second steep, and I also get orchid, other flowers, roasted walnuts, charcoal, and cream. The next couple steeps are more roasty, with roasted nuts, walnuts, honey, baked bread, roast, wood, and charcoal predominating and some florals and plum in the background. The tea is starting to get drying in the mouth. As expected, the session becomes increasingly focused on the roast and ends with charcoal, roast, wood, roasted nuts, earth, and minerals.
I understand why this Dong Ding gets snapped up so quickly. While it’s a little too roasted for me, I love its sweet, toasty, slightly fruity profile and think it would be a great tea for fall or winter.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Char, Cream, Earth, Floral, Grain, Honey, Mineral, Orchid, Plums, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Walnut, Wood
Like an off-brand version of a Strawberry Patch Doll, the aroma of this tea is sooo close to original but goes for the generic “berry” aroma and flavour.
Two types of coconut ingredients and maple give this a “trademark” Dessert by Deb profile, which I find satisfying and generally convincing as in-built “creamers” and sweeteners”. The hibiscus, elderberry, and currants create the generic “mystery red berry” flavour here. The vegetal green base sometimes works ok and sometimes distracts, depending on the cup and my head space.I know vanilla is expensive right now but I kind of wonder how this blend would’ve turned out if that were used in lieu of some or all of the coconut. Turns out I have a coconut cap when it’s used as a flavouring tool.
I didn’t really care for it iced or with milk (don’t use real milk. It’s bad).
Rating: 68 A fun concept, but at times the coconut/hibby gives it an almost metallic quality. Elderberries and other ingredients can also come across as a little “soapy.”
Flavors: Berry, Cake, Coconut, Cream, Hibiscus, Maple Syrup, Vegetal
I decided I needed to try this after I saw a YouTube video featuring it, and DavidsTea had a free shipping offer…
I mixed 1/2 tsp of this and 1/2 tsp of the matcha Matsu I have in the cupboard. That means it’s not too sweet. Normally I really dislike the flavoured matchas as they have so much sugar, but 1/2 tsp in a latte is super good.
It’s definitely honey flavour, not real honey. And I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s lavender, but it’s floral.
I really like it diluted like this. I bet it would also be great in a lemonade.
I also got the silicon straws as I have the mini and large favourite mugs and they don’t have replacement plastic straws… They’re so long! Way too long for the mini mug and my regular glasses. I need to see if I can just cut them, or if I need to idk, melt them or something to seal the ends.
Thank you for sharing this one, Sil!
There is something a touch bitter here. I think it’s the base tea. Beyond that I get blueberry and coconut but both flavours are a bit muted. Overall, I don’t particularly care for this one but that’s probably for the best since there are so many other 52 Teas blends that I enjoy. Can’t love them all.
A new company from Canada (bought on Etsy, they had free shipping offer for some teas), so I took three 20 grams samples. Got one tea as thank you. I know it’s not great time to adding new teas as database is quite slow nowdays, but I couldn’t help myself :). This tea was actually what I was searching for and why I placed the order.
I have used two teaspoons for my 300 ml cup, steeped for around 3-4 minutes.
I was like hit with the sweetness of the tea, both aroma and taste. It was really on the sweet note, the base tea was very nice and bready, bit malty as well. I have hoped that lemon peel will make it bit on lighter side and more refreshing, but probably too little of it in this cup.
Wasn’t that bad, just too sweet for me (but I am tired and maybe my taste buds are bit out right now :D )
I slept three hours, maybe bit more, had long night shift and then was hot morning so I couldn’t sleep at all. But now, it is after thunderstorms and weather is nice.
But Steepster is so slow! And I hit like on many tasting notes, but it seems it haven’t saved. Anyone can post it to discussion?
Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Honey, Malt, Sweet
Another one of the 12 teas of Xmas I hadn´t opened yet…and will never again open, I think. I love Earl Grey, but I couldn´t find it here; also the “ice cream” part is a mystery to me : is it that slight touch of vanilla creeping in at some time? This was mucky water, nothing more, so not at all enjoyable.
Flavors: Vanilla, Wet Earth
First tea of the morning while I grind on some data entry (Nutrition Facts Tables will be the death of me) this morning from home – chocolate seemed like a much needed piece of comfort and sweetness for the morning I expected to have…
I enjoyed this one – it’s not something I’d want to purchase a bigger amount of though. That’s primarily because I rarely feel drawn towards chocolate teas – especially more “plain” chocolate teas where I don’t have another flavour to offset the chocolate note. That said, I thought it had a nice cake-y quality and the dark chocolate felt natural without being too sweet or being oily/gross in the cup. It did have a bit of a chocolate liqueur taste too. What I actually liked most about it though was the hint of coriander mixed in – the subtle spice to offset the chocolate was such a nice, simple change of pace and elevated the cup a lot and went a long way to keep this from feeling flat to me.
Just finished off my last two giant leaves of this “tisane” while doing some very late night data entry. I don’t mind grinding so late at night though – I feel most productive in the evening, and if it means I get to sleep in a little longer in the morning than I’m especially find with that trade off.
This is such a beautiful flavour – light, refreshing anise and a hint of citrus. I’ve definitely fallen in love with avocado leaves (especially Grandpa style) through finishing off this bag, and while I don’t need any more herbal teas right now (my sample drawer is too full to close) I will definitely keep a restock of this in mind, and look for other places I might be able to find avocado leaf tea. It’s truly unique!
I just received a bunch of 2020 first and second flush Darjeelings from Lochan Tea, and, impatient as I am, I’ve already cut open one of the bags, even though I have some 2019 first flush on the go. Let me say that their foil vacuum-sealed bags are great for keeping tea fresh, but also sadly prevent me from trying all the teas at once, which I would totally do if I had enough empty tins. I steeped around 4 g in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5 and 8 minutes.
I forgot how nice fresh Darjeeling is. The dry aroma of these fluffy, still slightly springy leaves is of flowers, autumn leaves, muscatel, chili, and stonefruit. The first steep has notes of herbs, chili, grass, honey, flowers, autumn leaves, muscatel, cream, and wood, with some stonefruit (apricot?) coming in on the aftertaste. This first flush is more savoury than sweet and has some pleasant astringency in the mouth. I wish Eastkyteaguy had access to this tea because there are flavours I can’t pin down that he’d probably get. The second steep has more wood and tannins, but still has the muscatel, spicy, grassy, and floral profile of the first steep.
This is an excellent way to begin my exploration of Lochan’s 2020 offerings. It reminds me a bit of the Guranse Spring Hand-Rolled Floral Black Tea from What-Cha I reviewed a few months ago. I gave the 2019 version of the Giddapahar Spring Wonder an 84. To my mind, the 2020 harvest is substantially better. There could be a number of reasons for this, including the AV2 cultivar, the possibility that I used more leaves, and the tea’s freshness. Regardless, I’m delighted I have 50 grams and look forward to trying the other teas I purchased.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Muscatel, Spices, Stonefruits, Tannin, Wood
Oh, look! Site layout! Wow, I can actually decipher information on the page.
Anyway, look, let me preface this by stating that I’m extremely attracted to anything that says caramel on it. Extremely. I am also extremely attracted to anything that says vanilla on it. Extremely. If you add the word ‘cream’ onto either of those two, well… Take a guess.
The name of this one is super weird. On the website, I’m pretty sure I bought what is listed as ‘Vanilla Cream’. (Not in translation, btw. ØT has gone with the English words for this one) On the pouch it says ‘Caramel Cream’ and then ‘Vanilla Cream’ underneath as a sort of subtitle. There’s nothing on the website called ‘Caramel Cream. So what is it actually called? I went with Caramel Cream because that’s what it says on the pouch, and also, I admit, because of the nice alliteration.
So is it vanilla or caramel? Don’t know. Do I really even care? Heck no, gimme!
(Actually in the blurb on the website it says it’s flavoured with both. I’ll get that translated and added on here… eventually. )
To be honest, it doesn’t actually come across as one or the other. It’s just something kind of generically dessert-y. I mean it’s lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t really shine. Once I’d got through all the name confusion I was sort of hoping that it would be like this toffee flavoured one I had once upon a time. I can’t recall where it was from. Les Palais des Thes, possibly? I don’t remember. Anyway, I remember that one as managing to be strongly vanilla and strongly caramel at the same time. Sort of side by side flavours, rather than this more melded together one. So my initial impression wasn’t sending my socks into orbit, but I’ve made my peace with it now. I’m enjoying it for what it is, and it really isn’t fair to try and compare it to something I had years ago and can’t even remember where came from. My memory could be skewed.
So yes, I like it. I would buy it again.
First time being able to log into the site in days – I’m frustrated with the lack of communication about the ongoing issues surrounding Adagio’s takeover of the site. I think it’s fair to expect some hiccups transitioning, but this is going on far too long with far too little communication…
Anyway I’m gonna try to keep tasting notes brief because I have a nasty backup of them; so jot notes it is – at least for tonight. I’ll reassess tomorrow.
- Hot mug of this during my work day today (a work from home day)
- Not normally an “Earl Grey”/bergamot drinker…
- …but there’s admittedly a nice quality to beginning your day with a mug of it
- Like the white tea base and the lime; it’s adds brightness and softness
This is the last sample from Tea Side I was given to review. Thanks for allowing me to try this Bai Hao, as it’s one of my favourite types of oolong. I’ve tasted Bai Hao from Taiwan, China, India, and Vietnam, and am glad to add Thailand to that list. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 30, 20, 30, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120, 180, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of autumn leaves, peach, and muscatel. The first steep has notes of apricot, peach, muscatel, stewed pear, autumn leaves, wood, and malt. The fruit intensifies in the second steep, and it indeed begins to taste like a honey black oolong, as Arby noted. The next couple steeps reveal sap and more honey, though also more malt and black tea-type flavours. There’s a tiny bit of citrus in the sixth steep, along with the pear, peach, and muscatel notes, but at this point, its transformation into a black tea is accelerating. By steep seven, it’s a malty, slightly fruity tea with some tannins, although it never loses its muscatel and stewed fruit notes completely.
While I found much to like about this Dongfang Meiren, it has more black tea notes than I’m used to in this type of oolong. Still, this is a minor complaint and it’s overall a pleasant tea. I imagine it would take well to Western or cold brewing.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Citrus, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Peach, Pear, Sap, Stewed Fruits, Tannin, Wood
I bought this tea in 2018 because it was recommended as being fruity. I was a bit skeptical since this is a Wuyi oolong, but I decided to go for it. (I believe a 15% off sale was involved.) I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of strawberries, grain, honey, and roast. The first steep has notes of honey, walnuts, grain, wood, roast, and flowers. There’s an indistinct fruity aftertaste. In the second steep, I get peach, raisin, and strawberry, along with more roasted nuts, honey, grain, and wood. The floral notes become more prominent in the next couple steeps, but honestly, this is still mainly about the wood, nuts, and roast. I don’t get any spice, as Roswell Strange did. The tea doesn’t change much over the session, fading to wood, minerals, nuts, honey, and roast near the end.
While this tea doesn’t really change my mind about Wuyi oolongs, it indeed has some fruity elements. I enjoyed how smooth and sweet it is and won’t have trouble finishing the bag.
Flavors: Floral, Grain, Honey, Mineral, Peach, Raisins, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Strawberry, Walnut, Wood
This is very sad SIPDOWN. I am not really sure when I will place another order on Farmerleaf, as the shipping even not during corona crisis was very slow and moreover I had to pick it in Prague in customs post office, pay customs fees and so on.
It has “aged” pretty well. Noticed mostly malt and leather notes, brisk and little tangy flavours. It was coating my mouth with velvet feel, it was wonderfully smooth, haven’t noticed much tannic today.
Gonna miss you Yingpan Shan. You were worth the money. Maybe underpriced.
Flavors: Leather, Malt, Smooth