Featured & New Tasting Notes
Thanks to boychik for this sample! Without your generosity, I would not have known to pick this one up, and now I happily have an ounce all to myself. This tea is awesome. It steeps up with a pretty orange color. It’s roasty and incredibly juicy! The flavor notes are complex, with toasted coconut, peach, and citrus. It’s incredibly aromatic and has a lasting aftertaste. Yum!
As of today, I have drank every black tea in my collection (33) this month!
One of my goals was to drink one black tea per day, and admittedly, some of them have been drank more than once. Another goal is to drink every oolong & green tea, and I’m closing in on that goal as well, I have 10 to go. I’m also trying to complete my sip down extravaganza, at least for now, but enjoying anything that I only have one serving left of. I’m getting close!
So this tea…I’ve already reviewed it a few times: heady aroma, both sweet & floral, even a little incense to it. I can’t think of anything else to say, so I think it’s time for something else to drink…
No. 21… I’ve always wondered about this with Kusmi. What are the other 20?
Anyway, I was in a different supermarket from my normal one yesterday. I’m home alone for a couple of days (again!) so I was looking for something easy and unhealthy for my dinner. It’s the same chain as my normal one, but bigger. I was looking for something else in the tea/coffee section, when I spotted the easily recognisable Kusmi tins. There was this one and the 4 Red Fruits and… I think one more, but can’t remember which. I thought, eh, why not? I only took this one because a) I’m not made of money, and b) 4 Red Fruits is a known quantity and c) we’ve already got Tea Palace’s Queen of Berries and so don’t need another soft fruits flavoured tea.
I’ve never had this one before, actually, because I’ve been a bit wary of it being Yunnan black. My relationship with the black teas of Yunnan is a bit fraught. Some of them are really really nice, but some of them also just tastes like drinking liquid hay with pepper in it. I’m not a fan of the latter, but it seems to be mostly the more golden ones that do this.
So I chanced it and am pleased to report, that while there are a bit of golden tips in it, it’s not golden golden. Bodes well.
The aroma has a bit of hay in it though, and something which I can only really describe as ‘horse’, but I don’t really mean that in a bad way. I mean, horses are quite whiffy, but if you are a horse-person, it’s a smell with all sorts of awesome associations to it. What I’m getting at is that the horse-y smell in here doesn’t so much pong of actual horse as it brings on lovely (non-horse-y) associations. I’m not explaining this very well, am I? I’m not even a horse-person myself, although my childhood/teenage self would have LOVED to be one. The closest I come is a friend I had in my teens who had a fat, lazy pony on which she gave me some very basic lessons in posture and how to (in theory, it being a very lazy pony) make it go.
Tastewise, I was sort of expecting a bit more. It’s nice, but it strikes me as a bit thin in the middle notes. The initial notes are strong and the aftertaste is decent, but in the middle there? It’s like it’s not really trying. Like it puts some effort into the front end of the sip and thinks that’s sufficient. If I hold it on my tongue for a little bit, though, I can prolong the initial notes of pepper, a little bit of hay, slight astringency, and slightly burnt toast, but that’s not the same. I’m missing the smoothness and the malty thickness that I know from Keemun and from the Fujian blacks.
This really is an entirely different beast from those. But then again, if you look at the map of China, they’re not exactly grown next door to one another either, so differences are indeed to be expected.
So where does this fall on a scale from ‘peppery liquid hay’ to ‘nice and sweet dark nom’. Oooooh probably right in the middle. It’s taking on qualities of one, but not yet letting go of the those of the other. It’s nice and drinkable, but not really an epiphany in a cup.
This one is especially inspired —had to try it! (I could say that about most of A Quarter To Tea’s blends though!) THIS IS THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHERRY TEA!! No contest – this puts all other cherry teas to shame. The cherry tastes identical to the cherry in chocolate covered cherries, even though actual cherries weren’t overflowing from my brew basket – I didn’t notice them. But the best cherry flavor (nothing fake or cough syrupy about this) fills all three steeps of this tea. I’d say cherry is the dominant flavor with wisps of milk chocolate and coffee. So decadent and divine. The tea bases are perfect as well. You’ve got a great blend of a dark wiry oolong mixed with hojicha green tea, fresh coffee beans, dried cherries, chocolate chips and chicory. Amazing. I’m a little sad I used all of my sample up for a full mug (2 1/2 teaspoons) but it’s perfect. I wish I could have this tea exactly like this every time. If you are looking for a cherry tea, you have to try this! This one is definitely Butikiesque. :D
Steep #1 // 2 1/2 tsps for full mug // 15 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 4 min
Steep #3 // just boiled // few minute steep
Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Coffee
I’m having a cup of this as it is getting really cold outside here (although I’m not complaining, no snow yet :D which is rare) and I wanted something cozy and warming and also with a caffeine kick. This fits the bill in all aspects. I only steeped this for less than a minute today because it gets soooo strong haha, and added honey to the travel mug as well. The result is a strong, gingery, spiced chai that I am definitely feeling today! I am happy I made this, now hopefully the caffeine doesn’t take me out! I feel a migraine coming on from the crazy wind today so hopefully the caffeine helps ward that off haha.
In other news, I went swimming in a pool for literally the first time in years (last was like in junior high or high school haha). There is a pool super close to my house so I am going to try to get in the habit of swimming at least twice a week for the winter season, since I can’t go running outside when it’s so cold (read: will not go running outside when it’s cold lol). Last night was great and definitely a work out as well as being relaxing, so I hope I can keep it up, since my running has been nonexistant for a month, since I returned from Scotland lol. Hooray for trying to be active!
I picked this one on a whim this morning. And, I am really enjoying it. I think the flavors pop more as the tea cools. I brewed it at 195 (I always do that or my teas are too hot to drink for too long in my travel mug) and it has cooled a bit from that. I get more pineapple than marshmallow – although it’s not a sharp pineapple flavor so it’s possible the marshmallow is showing up by making it softer.
First off, thanks to much to quarter to Tea for sending out these great samples of teas. I’m always looking for new blends, especially since there is no more butiki. :( I picked this one because i LOOOOVE a good banana tea.
Ceylon’s are not my go to tea, as they generally have an astringency that I dislike. In this tea though, i quite like the base. I steeped this for 4.5 mins and there’s no bitterness or astringency. the base is quite nice and comes through without overpowering the tea. I did make sure to get some nuts and bananas in to the cup for a balanced steeping. What comes through predominantly is the pankcake/walnut feel. I don’t really get much in the way of banana. Once the cup cools, there is a hint of banana, but it remains a nutty/walnut? pancake sort of blend. that aside, i still quite like this tea but i want more banana! So imo….boost up the banana in this bad boy and you’ll have a fantastic tea here :) Really nice first cup from A quarter to tea. thanks for sharing!
Another sample from A Quarter to Tea – thank you! I HAD to try this one as well. Ceylon black tea with walnuts and bananas! I made sure to get that big piece of banana into the infuser! Sadly, any Ceylon is not my favorite. The description says “rich” Ceylon but to my tastes, Ceylon is anything but rich. Sadly there wasn’t as much banana or walnut flavors as I was hoping either. As it cools, there are hints of banana and walnut. The second steep was the same. I’m probably not steeping this one correctly but there isn’t enough sample to figure that out. Maybe I should be using two teaspoons for a whole mug. http://www.etsy.com/shop/AQuarterToTea
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a mug filled 3/4 // 7 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 min
I was lazy and didn’t have a lot of time this morning so I brewed this up western style. This tea has a fair amount of fermentation flavor left. It has a nice sweet flavor. Not really getting the specifics on this tea but it is pretty good. Puerhshop doesn’t get a lot of press on Steepster but they have sold me some good tea over the last few years. Not all their teas are great but this one is pretty good.
I brewed this one time in a 160z Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 15 seconds.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
Puerh Tea TTB. This is the first tea I am drinking from the box. The first couple of infusions were light yellow in color with the taste of a totally non bitter young sheng. At first I was unsure if I was really drinking an aged tea. After about the fourth steep the leaves had fully opened up and it took on the color of an aged sheng, a dark amber brown. I noticed that Grill mentioned storage taste in this tea. I did not find what is commonly called wet wood or wet storage taste. There was a spicy note however that was quite strong and prevalent throughout the first eight or ten steeps. It never completely went away even after fifteen steeps. It did however mellow out. There was a flavor in the middle steeps that I just call aged flavor. It crept in but I don’t know how to describe it. This tea was smooth despite the spicy taste. I think I would even say there was a taste of camphor in there. I am currently feeling the effects of this tea’s qi. I would not use the term tea drunk but it is quite relaxing. This is definitely a tea I will want to look into buying, don’t actually know how much it costs.
I steeped this tea 15 times in a 60ml gaiwan with 4.2g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. Even so it took several steeps for this tea to open up. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, 2.5 min, 3 min, and 3.5 min. The tea was pretty much played out at fifteen steeps but I probably could have gotten one or two more steeps out of it.
A Quarter to Tea is a handblended tea shop started by Lauren in what the Etsy page says was 2011. How has the Steepsterers not known about A Quarter to Tea for so long? I’m shocked that not many of the teas have been reviewed yet. I’m glad she has finally introduced herself to Steepster! Saying hello to Steepster is always a good idea. :D Really, looking at the blends, I was thinking they are a bit Butikiesque (yes, that is a word now.) I want to try them ALL! Most of the flavor combinations seem to be exactly the teas I have been looking for. I was drooling at all of the amazing blends that A Quarter to Tea has to offer, so I just had to bite when samples were offered. There is now also the option of choose-your-own sample packs: http://www.etsy.com/shop/AQuarterToTea
On to the tea: I asked Lauren to send me the most pumpkiny of the FOUR pumpkin teas offered. The blend here reminds me of Della Terra’s or David’s Tea’s Pumpkin blends (due to similar leaves and the cute pumpkin sprinkles!) But those blends didn’t have this cinnamon or pumpkin seeds! Like those teas, the black tea is a little on the light side for me, but to be fair, I did fill up the mug when the suggested parameters say one teaspoon of leaves for six ounces of tea. I tried to do a little better on the remaining teaspoon the next day with better results. There are wisps of a creamy pumpkin flavor through the Ceylon as well as hints of cinnamon. The second steep was even more cinnamon. I’m not sure what flavor the pumpkin seeds add to the tea, but they are a nice touch. I probably could have used two teaspoons for a full 11-12 ounce mug though – especially with this black tea base. A lovely start to A Quarter To Tea!
First day: Steep #1 // 1 tsp // 7 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
Second day: Steep #1 // 1 tsp // 5 minutes after boiling // mug filled 3/4 to the top // 3-4 min steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // few minute steep
While trying too slim down my samples from swaps, because I just sent out 11 or 12 more swaps, I am just pulling packages out and abusing them until they are gone.
Yesterday I pulled this one out and realized I had enough for two sessions. Yesterdays session was pretty long because I came back to it after an oolong break. Today I am using the rest of the leaf and seeing how it does with longer steeps because I made it a bit light yesterday. This is a tea that would be ideal to have at work as there is nothing special about it that would require some real focus, but at the same time it does lack something unique to set it apart; granted, it is very smooth and the one brewing it can control the depth of the earthiness by volume and steep time, I would want something a little sweeter.
Unfortunately this one is sold out on YS which makes it hard for me to evaluate its price tag with the usage of it because now I use ripe to make pu’erh extract, broth, and hopefully truffles… aside from the solo drinking, tea for swapping, and then tea to share at events.
During the What Cha tea tasting we did a cup by cup comparison of this and the Russian black tea, this one lost. There is a slight off taste with the black tea and fruit notes that do not go down as smooth as the Russian tea. Now, this is still a decent tea and I would like to point out that it may be because of What Cha’s recommendations: 194f instead of 200’ish.
Both teas are similar, but the difference on the finish/aftertaste is quite clear if you drink the teas next to each other.
This was a very interesting brew for me. I unwrap the paper to reveal this little “melon” shou. The compressed dry leaf has a slight fermentation scent. I break it in half (7g of the 14g whole) and pop that into my warmed gaiwan. I gave it a shake and then let the chunk relax for a bit. The scent that emitted from my gaiwan was deep and sweet. It was a dark savory scent with an earthen background. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The leaves took two washing sessions to fully depart from the melon whole, and they gave off a dry cherry dusty scent. The flavor was fairly good, but it was somewhat lacking. The initial sip was filled with deep cherry notes, but it plateaued at only the fourth steeping. I then decided to pop the other half in. This made the liquor amazing. The flavor was deep and powerful. The taste was of cherry cordial and a deep fermentation flavor. The brew was smooth and warming; it made my ears burn red hot. The pour from my gaiwan was incredibly dark and blood red. This session lasted fooorever and continued with a smooth and rich red wine taste. The finish of each sip included a candied huigan that was sweet and tangy. This sensation would slowly drip and follow me throughout the session. The qi was only present with a light head buzz. This session did incur a heavy tea drunk and slight slurred speech. I really enjoyed this melon. I highly recommend just throwing the whole thing in the pot. My melon was short (14g instead of 20g), but it was still perfect. This is an amazing value, and I will definitely be getting more in my next order.
Flavors: Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Heavy, Red Wine, Smooth
sad sipdown. Picked out this one to finish up this weekend because the idiots working on the balconies in our complex decided to start stupidly early on a saturday morning. So i needed something delicious and wonderful. Had multiple steeps of this one while trying to get up and ready for the day. stupid people.
This morning was a busy one…I was under a lot of stress and had to run around for several hours.
When I got home, the only thing in my mind was…TEA!
If you’re like me, you try to match the right tea for the right moment. Sometimes it takes me forever to decide. Not today. I wanted comfort, and I knew exactly that good old Earl would take care of me.
I say “Good old Earl” but thats not accurate. This Earl is the next generation.
Yes people, TNG Earl!
What makes it so special? Well, first let’s talk about the base tea found in earl grey teas in general. There isn’t much to talk about, right? What I’ve noticed is no one seems to really care…cause…bergamot. What I mean is, if you’re like me, when you need a bergamot fix, you’re not looking for some fancy black tea…you only care for the bergamot cause you know it pretty much overwhelms any kind of base anyways. So why bother right? That’s the impression I get from what’s available on the market. We get some generic black tea and what makes or breaks it is the quality of the bergamot. What I want is an earl grey that will provide a good balance of the bergamot flavor. I don’t want that overly parfumy and soapy taste they sometimes have. Luckily, I found a few brands that made me very happy over the years and just stuck to them.
When I saw Earl Gold, I said…really Brenden? You’re gonna “waste” some snaily yums on bergamot?
And then I tasted it…and said…damn it Brenden, must you succeed at everything?
Apparently, the answer to that is yes!! He truly is a master blender.
I already love Golden Snail a great deal on its own. But I was so sure everything I love about it would vanish under the oppressive bergamot. Turns out they both complement each other perfectly!
Malt, caramel, chocolate and bread? Please meet citrus and candied orange peel.
A very bright, sweet and warming cup of tea with a big kick.
It is suggested to drink it gonfu so I did try. Surprisingly, the bergamot oil doesn’t rinse off on first steep, it actually stays present through the whole session.
But I must admit, my personal brewing preference for earl grey tea will remain mug style. I just want a huge big fat mug of it and hold it and slurp it slowly while I read a good book. That’s what this tea is to me…a hugger :-)
I’m so happy I’ve got four ounces in the cupboard. It will definitely be one of my favorite comfort teas of the winter!
P.S. When you get this tea at home (cause I know you will, you MUST) please don’t skip the “inhaling protocol”. Beleive me, your nostrils will thank you.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Chocolate, Citrus, Malt, Orange
I’ve been enjoying this tea all morning, through many steeps.
This is one of those teas where you really want to heat up the yixing (or Gaiwan), put about 5G or so in there to warm up the leaf, and be prepared to instantly be addicted to the aroma. Heady, fruity, rich…it really is a treat to just sit there, eyes closed, slowly breathing in & out, savoring both inhale & exhale (the after-aroma). I could almost skip drinking the tea & just linger in this mindful breathing…for an old addict like me (32 years clean on Oct 1st…except for tea of course) this is what I consider a healthy addiction…but alas, I need tea in my system!
tangy dark fruits, cannabis, a rich incense, aged rum… In some ways this tea is almost like a decadent oolong…in other ways a sheng….it’s really loaded with features, including an awesome tea buzz…
I should have known better, considering it’s a mini toucha, but it was a free sample with my order. I gave it a chance. I’m not going to go into much detail. I’ll just list a few aspects of the gongfu session. My strainer clogged at the first, third, and fifth steeping. My tea table almost overfilled because how much I dumped. The initial sip is a sharp bite (even with flash steeping) and the after taste is also a sharp taste. I also brewed light for my yixing. The yixing became completely clogged by the “end” of the session.
This would be good if you wanted to western brew puerh on the go. It says it’s meant for portable brewing in the description. Personally, I don’t know of many people that drink puerh western brewed. However, I could be mistaken and many people could enjoy puerh in a big pot. Anyways, this was not a big win for me.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Smoke
Good morning my Steepsterites! Hope you all are having a great one so far. I’m so happy today is Friday. I’m ready for this weekend and my “bachlorette” party (more like a gathering at a pottery shop to drink wine and paint bowls!). Should be a good time!
Last night I enjoyed several mugs of this delicious apple cinnamon coffeecake flavored tea. The tea tastes exactly like the name. Another winner from Simpson & Vail. I’m really enjoying their teas!
Happy Friday sipping all!
would i recommend this tea? YES!
to someone who can justify (after many days) a costly expenditure….
seriously, from wow to OW (price wise) back to wow.
canadians, don’t bother with the website call head office, the tea crew are dedicated and polite.
looks like tendrils of oolong caramelized in honey or toffee or something ridiculously decadent.
tastes like honey chocolate but not too smooth… it has a velvet aspect that makes it thicker somehow, each sip more prolonged.
i still don’t get how a tea can impart ‘thickness’ without being thick but it does.
the depth of flavour is excellent.
hate to say it (although i really do appreciate capital teas)… but this crazily priced tea is worth it to me. (and i say that as a student accruing debt) perversely, you get an expositional high sometimes by saying ‘i paid THIS much and i was WRONG!’ (we are weird animals)…. but i’m not sorry a bit for buying this tea. i just have to make it last a loooooong time.
i have been thoroughly enjoying this one from omgsrsly Nice to have this one back in my cupboard to remind me why i need to place another mandala order sooooooon! especially with new teas coming in the near future that are for those of us who love special dark. Not much to say on this one that hasn’t already been said. delicious. wonderful. yay for tea and tea friends!