Featured & New Tasting Notes
I had this one as a free sample when i popped in to David’s tea to try and find some sale stuff a friend is looking for. White teas generally aren’t my favourite but this one was fairly nice as a gold brew. It’s not lupicia’s golden honey dew, but this makes a decent replacement for it if you don’t have easy access to lupicia. :) Over all a nice blend and pretty close on the flavouring :)
Today I reviewed the Sei Sei glass travel infuser!
I am a daily travel tumbler user, so I was really excited to have a chance to review the just-released Sei Sei Portable Tea Infuser Bottle. Believe me, I shopped around for a long time before I settled on the tumbler that I use now, and I wish this one had been available back then.
This is a tasty tea with strong notes of malt and slightly weaker notes of chocolate or cocoa. This tea seems to be very popular on Steepster as it has nearly 300 reviews. This tea is I think good quality but I don’t know why it has so many reviews. If anything to me this is a standard black tea but a good one, not spectacular but worth buying. If I were charged the prices of Whispering Pines for this I’d be annoyed. But Teavivre sells this for quite a reasonable price. It just seems to me that this tea is slightly hyped up, that’s all. I do enjoy the tea.
I brewed this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 3 min.
I had four request to resurrect this tea. The reason it died is because I am not a fan of black teas in general so my own taste buds said to me, ’don’t make any more of this’ but others disagreed which is awesome because it means I did something right.
I’m going to do something weird and sell this as a personal blend for now as I am figuring out Etsy. With that being said, I have no idea what this actually cost me nor do I care so I’ll just do a flat $5 per ounce if anyone is interested.
Wait, what if this tea sucks??? No worries, I can send free samples in the case that an ounce might drive your taste buds crazy; I don’t want to be part of causing an internal battle between one’s mind and taste buds :p
So, the Keemun I used is roughly 3x the size of the last leaf (though that means little). I also put less oolong in it since it is a black tea blend.
I think that’s about it. This is a Steeperster blend for my friends :)
This Keemun is BS
If I were a responsible adult, I would put on pants (well, pants with pockets, more leggings need pockets, but then they would just be pants and not leggings?) and walk to Aldi’s for some groceries. Turns out I am not responsible, or at the very least, I do not feel well enough to go for a walk, in the ebb and flow of my allergies, today is definitely a tidal bore, and it is a little frustrating. At least I got the new teapot all cleaned up (operation teapot rescue was a success) and managed to get in some good gaming, Terraria summoner playthrough is hard work!
Today’s tea is an herbal one from M&K’s Tea Company, their Honey-Roasted Licorice Root, it is exactly what it says on the tin, licorice root roasted in honey. Ok look, usually I am not one to talk about the medicinal quality of plants, too many nit-wits out their take random bloggers at face value and do not do research on their own and get sick. I take teaching herbalism the same way I take teaching edible mushrooms while on a naturalist hike, no just no. But licorice root is awesome, at least it has been for me, taking Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice did more for my stomach ulcer than the crazy medicine I was taking at the time did, and drinking licorice tea is one of the few things that actually soothes my sore throat. It is an exceptionally useful root that conveniently is quite tasty (though oh man it can ruin some blends when used wrong) so I actually enjoy consuming it. Back in January when Ben had a nasty cold, I gave him some of the Honey-Roasted Licorice tea and was told it was quite helpful, but he drank the last of mine and I plum forgot to get more…until I saw they were having a sale and I was having chronic sore throat…and well, my package arrived today so why not talk about this tea? Anyway, smell! It smells really good! Very rich sweet honey and an earthy-rooty-woody blend that is licorice, and a delicate roasted spice finish. If you hate licorice then you will probably be able to tolerate this tea, it smells more like burdock root than licorice, but there is that distinct licorice aroma, just faint.
However, when you steep it, the licorice really comes out, sweet honey roasted licorice, it smells exactly like that. Roasted licorice root and sweet honey dance out of the wet root bits, with a touch of earthiness as well. The liquid is surprisingly complex, notes of creaminess, honey, gentle toasted notes, roots, and a touch of spice drift out of my cup, it is very sweet, though also very mellow. It is an intriguing thing.
The taste starts out subtly sweet at the front, gentle honey and caramelized sugar, and then boom! Licorice slams into the midtaste and coats the throat with its intense sweetness and rooty goodness. It is not the usual licorice though, the honey roasting, for lack of a better way of putting it, reigns it in, it gives it a more subtle nuance, I can taste the earthy root elements, the woody notes, the resinous sweet sap notes…it is not just the super sweet intense licorice you usually get in a licorice tea. The mouthfeel is honey thick and slippery, and the sweet aftertaste lingers for quite a while. And for the first time in almost a month, I don’t have a sore throat! Also, as a side note, I find chewing on the spent roots to be very enjoyable, and unlike most herbal brews I got a couple steeps from the roots.
Flavors: Earth, Honey, Licorice, Roasted, Spicy, Wood
This is a queued tasting note.
Earlier near the beginning of the month we had the monthly ‘engagement meeting’ at work which of course, as my departments rep, I had to attend. Despite the content discussed at the meetings themselves, they’re actually fairly low-key and I love getting to learn about the different departments and how they’re run, as well as just hanging out with all of the department reps each month. It’s a fun time. Genuinely.
Each month one of us brings food as well – generally something relating to our department. This month Jillian, one of the two dietitians, provided food: a lovely mango/cucumber and red onion salsa and chips made out of beans. “Dietitian approved”. While it’s no cheesecake (which is what I brought last time) it was delicious.
And speaking of food/beverages – each meeting we get free coffee made for us by the coffee bar but I don’t drink coffee! Not a drop – the last time I had an actual cup of coffee was (I’m pretty sure) my 20th birthday when my manager bought me one as a birthday present and I drank it so as to not be rude. So I decided to ‘one up’ the coffee drinkers and bring tea. I brought some of DAVIDsTEA’s Movie Night for anyone else who wanted some – there were a few takers. This is what I brought for myself – and I have to say I had a fun few minutes talking to people and explaining why it didn’t look like any tea they’d ever seen before.
I did enjoy two good infusions of this during the meeting; I could have made more but getting up multiple times to do so probably would have been at least a little frowned upon despite the ‘casual’ feel of these meetings. Even though everyone’s having fun there’s still lots of work to be done!
Sadly, I couldn’t devote my full attention to the tea as I was taking minutes in addition to just contributing – so there were moments I was sipping without noticing anything. At the end of the meeting I had that feeling of drinking really good tea but not recollecting anything about it. Thankfully, my tea obsessed self made time to write a few things in the margins of the meeting’s minutes. So, in order of what I wrote and word for word:
- Apricot notes
- Honey finish
- A nice ‘fog’/malt/cream to it
- Taste & mouthfeel
- Reminds me of a good white tea; White Rhino?
- (A drawing of ‘The Rhino’ from Spiderman)
I’ve never considered myself a big fan of green oolongs, but if I keep on tasting teas like this, I may be a convert.
And it turns out this has to have been one of the best teas I’ve had in ages! The dry leaf of this tea looks exquisite: beautiful, dark emerald green nuggets. It smells exquisite, too: lovely, floral, creamy, and fresh. You can really tell that this tea was harvested only a few months ago. Normally the floralness of green oolongs turn me off because they have a weird sort of astringency to them, but this tea is mild and light.
Tuesday we were in Columbus Indiana, so we stopped at Empire Tea Services warehouse. Here in small town Indiana, they blend and carry 250 different teas. Mainly they are wholesalers, supplying tea for restaurants and hotels. They also do relabeling. The retail side of the business is called Tea Temptations. They don’t really push the retail side. I have tried to get them to sell samples and smaller sizes – 4 oz is just too much for most of us around here. They told me it cost more than they make from it. Others do it, so I’m not so sure, but they seem happy with things the way they are. They also have items in stock (like yixing pots) that aren’t on their website. The tiny pot I looked at was $29.
So, the tea… back in my tea bag only days, I loved Peach Apricot tea. I am not a big flavored tea drinker, except mainly Earl Grey. I am not sure why PA has always appealed to me. This stuff blows the doors of anything bag related. I was told that this has been their number one selling tea for several years. Today I am having it iced. The gunpowder tea is mainly large broken pieces with some full leaves. It stays mostly in the background. The peach and apricot share equal billing. They taste really natural to me. I can almost feel the fuzz on the fruit.
Oh, one other thing, the tea comes in decorative plastic lined waxed paper bags. It should probably be moved to something else if you don’t drink it up quickly. Admittedly, I never move it and it seems to do well. Just wanted you to be aware.
I love a good Jingmai! This is a spectacular brew. The leaves are easily compressed, long, and so fragrant. This cake has the traditional Jingmai characteristics. The leaves are dark and resinous and carry a strong tangy and almost citrus scent. I placed a chunk in warmed yixing and shook em up. The aroma from my brewing vessel was sweet and fruity. I washed the leaves once and prepared to brew. The steeped leaves are soft, vibrant, and sweet. I love Jingmai for its full flavor. This has a complex balance of succulent and potent. This brew is hard, yet it finishes smooth and soft. The initial sip starts with a slight pepper taste, and it finishes with a strong green tea mixed with honey suckle. My yixing yielded a bronze soup for many steeping sessions. However, there was only a very faint huigan. The qi from this tea is a rising effect. I almost didn’t notice it. I can feel a background effect that boosts me. I was given motivation to complete my task, and the relaxation to focus on precision. This was a nice golden brew. This is something special, and I will invite others to try it.
Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Pepper, Smooth, Sweet, warm grass
This is quite a lovely and interesting oolong from Tea Ave. I got this a few weeks ago and am just getting around to trying it now. Due to being at work, I had to steep it Western style but hope to try the gong fu method soon.
The tea has an Alishan Jin Xuan (milk) oolong base. I definitely get the strong milk oolong element. It reminds me of fresh butter and has a creamy taste; almost decadent. The magnolia flower is light and fresh here and compliments the base tea well. Overall the bouquet of this tea is sweet but I am picking up on a very slight bitterness in the finish. I like this one a lot. It seems like the perfect thing to serve at an afternoon tea party.
Refreshingly different! I am drinking it grandpa style and really enjoying how long it lingers on my palate :)
I haven’t had yabao in over a year. I do enjoy it from time to time. It makes me curious to try an aged version.
Thanks for the swap LuckyMe!
This is a very tasty ripe puerh that despite being a 2005 tea has not fully cleared. There was a fair amount of fermentation flavor left, especially in the first four steeps. Later steeps were free of fermentation flavor. There was however not funk to this tea, just some basic fermentation flavor. There was a lot of natural sweetness to this tea and very little bitterness. I didn’t find any chocolate notes but could have simply missed them. There was also no smoke to this tea despite being an Xiaguan production. I did find some fruity flavors in later steeps. At $17 for a tuo the price on this is decent. It is not overpriced by any margin.
I steeped this eight times in a 180ml teapot with 12.1g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. Had I wanted to continue I’m sure I could have gotten another four or five steeps out of this tea.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Sweet
The first infusion of this tea took my breath away. It’s even better than a premium Dragonwell! It’s buttery and sweet with notes of honeysuckle. This tea exceeded my expectations. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried a previous year’s harvest and wasn’t too impressed. But this year’s harvest is INCREDIBLE! Everything from the aroma to the flavor to the mouthfeel is tranquil, relaxing, and exactly what I needed after several frustrating days of dealing with a fussy teething baby. There’s something truly special about Verdant Teas. One sip transports me to my happy place, every time without fail. I’m in tea heaven. Oh, and this is my 600th tasting note!
Flavors: Butter, Honeysuckle, Sweet, Vegetal
Skip this first part if you just want to read about the tea:
I first smelled this tea in Harrod’s, finding a small, quiet island in the TWG section of the tea department. No small feat, considering it was right before Christmas last year. I sniffed my way through a number of tins and got stuck on the so-called ‘weekend teas’. I snapped a few pictures of the tins and meant to read up on it when I came home, but forgot all about it.
A month later I was in Singapore (I’m sorry for sounding like a demented tea socialite, bear with me), and imagine my surprise when the TWG logo showed up again… and again, and again. I knew nothing about the brand; I’d just assumed it was a trendier spin-off of Twinings, or something.
A quick search yielded the following: TWG is a Singaporean company, carefully branded to be Singapore’s “first and only upscale tea salon”. This was definitely a niche in the Singaporean brandscape that needed filling; tea culture is somewhat lacking, with either imported Japanese concepts where everything is beyond kawaii, or madly overpriced hotel-style afternoon teas.
So far so good, but there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the brand. For instance: the TWG is generally accompanied by the year 1837 on signs and logos, but the brand was founded no earlier than 2008.
This all makes me reluctant, to be honest. Singapore is so entirely about money, all the time; everything anyone ever talks about is money and shortcuts to money and how to get more money and money. I find that depressing, and it’s clear TWG is a pitch perfect Singaporean brand in that respect. They colonize the most exclusive locations, style their shops and salons to the very last detail (tarnished brass and dark wood everywhere), hardbrand the products and charge ridiculous sums of money for everything.
I’m the first to admit I love a good branding effort. I do; I sometimes enjoy giving in and just going with it because it’s done so well, but TWG are just too devious about it, and it’s painfully clear the product is just the sideshow. TWG is all brand and I can’t get excited about that.
Actual tea review:
I added the above to be honest about my TWG prejudice. This is the first tea I’ve purchased from the company, but I’ve tried their products at a couple of their salon locations. I’ve also had their tea-infused ice cream, which is very nice, albeit, again, ridiculously overpriced.
This looks beautiful in the bag, long, whole green leaves studded with red petals. After steeping, the petals turn fuchsia and it’s one of the prettiest steeped teas I’ve seen, colour wise. In terms of scent, well, I didn’t go the adventurous route here – this smells like something I’ve had before, most likely one of those German-imported greens they sell in every tea shop in Sweden. It’s vaguely fruity/floral and that’s it. What more do you need? Fruity/floral is where it’s at!
There are no steeping instructions on the bag, and none were given by the staff (again, one of those things that’ll tell you this is more about the experience and the ritual of shopping, than what you actually purchase) so I did a semi-Lupicia, letting this steep for 1.5 minutes, at 90C. No bitterness, but also not very much flavour – I’m going to try a different steeping strategy next time, not least for you temperature purists out there.
So, to summarize: meh. TWG will not (CAN not) be my new boyfriend (even though I would have loved to get a chance to meme ‘Bye Lupicia!’).
Unlike an actual weekend in Shanghai, this tea bores me.
[Picked up at the TWG Tea Salon & Boutique in Raffles Place, Singapore, January 2015.]
How is it already August 8th? Time is flying! My daughter is over six months old now. She’s getting her first two teeth. They’re coming in together and I think it’s causing her a lot of grief. They’re taking their sweet time too. Only the tips have been visible for the past few days.
I held on to this tea for years thinking I could enjoy its caffeine-freeness during pregnancy. Well, pregnancy came and went a while ago and this tea is still around. There’s no time like the present! Might as well enjoy the rest of this now.
The brewed tea aroma is mouthwatering and tart. Yes, I can smell the tartness. It smells like blueberries, raisins, and hibiscus. The flavor is SUPER tart! Think about the tartest hibiscus tea you’ve ever tried and this is probably tarter. The flavor gets stronger the cooler the tea is. This is somewhat wine-like too.
On another note, I’ve finally started to lose weight after the birth. I’ve lost 20 lbs so far and have about another 20 to go to be able to fit back into my wardrobe. I’ve hit a big milestone this week. I’ve lost enough weight that I can wear my wedding rings again! Yes, I was literally so fat that my rings didn’t fit. I forgot how beautiful my engagement ring is. I really really missed it! I can’t stop staring at it. Now that I can wear my wedding rings again, I feel so much more like my old self. Losing weight is a necessity for me. I’m so glad I’m halfway to my goal!
Flavors: Blueberry, Hibiscus, Raisins, Red Wine, Tart
This tea is like drinking pure honey….so much honey! There’s a slight cocoa note, but it’s barely there. It reminds me of Nannuoshan’s Tanyang Gongfu black tea, except that one has more of a balance between the cocoa and honey notes. This one is actually a little too sweet for me, but I like that the honey note is not just sweet, but that all the other characteristics of honey are there. I’m not sure how to explain those other characteristics, except to say it tastes exactly like honey. So if you like honey, definitely check this tea out! The leaf is nice and large too, similar to some Taiwanese black teas I’ve had. Pretty nice quality, and I’m looking forward to trying the other two black teas I ordered.
I had 2 steepings of this over the day today. With the second steeping I was also eating Darkside Skittles. OMG… the intense malt and the fruit and the sweet? A-MAZ-ING. Such a plebian desecration of this gorgeous tea, but it was soooo good. Now I need to try it with a splash of cream but I get the feeling that might be dangerous. I love it so much unaltered.
I made a cup of this before I left the house this morning on “Nana & Julianna’s Teatime Tour”, where my grand daughter & I went to breakfast, then to the London Tea Room, then to the humane society to visit the dogs & cats, then to Traveling Tea. I brought the cup of tea with me to the restaurant. Now that I’m home, I’m enjoying a resteep. This has never been my favorite black from verdant, but it is pretty good. :)