Featured & New Tasting Notes
This is my absolute favorite tea from specialteas. I find 2:34 to be an ideal steep for water at a roaring boil. The taste of the assam, nilgiri, and ceylon leaves perfectly complement the bergamot citrus to make an excellent flavor.
This is not the best everyday tea in my opinion. After having it daily for a while, I started to lose the true taste in my mouth while drinking it. Having it periodically and sparingly definitely makes the experience special and worthwhile. Overall, an awesome tea. I hope I can still buy Fine Earl Grey after the teavana merger…
This is my first of 3 samples from Joy’s Teaspoon. I can’t believe how fast the samples arrived. I emailed Joy on Saturday and they were waiting in my mailbox on Monday.
This tea is nice. Brewed, it smells lemony. Like a lemon sucker or maybe even lemon pledge (not in a completely bad way). The taste of the tea is lemony and orangy, but not as lemony as the smell. It also tastes of herbs that I cannot identify and something almost savory, which I am guessing is the carrot.
Yep, this tea is very interesting. I like it and I’m looking forward to the other samples. I’ll leave you ins suspense about what my other two samples are (or you can try and guess).
1.5 tsp per 12 oz cup
Mmmm….nothing else would do today. I’m trying to cut back on my consumption of milk and sugar in my tea so this is the perfect fit. This tea is amazing sans additions.
I actually just realized that I recently passed my one year Steepster-versary and quite a bit of things have changed in relation to what type of tea I like. I have always like black tea, but I’ve now branched out into the other types as well. I like green oolongs way more than I ever thought possible and I’ve even grown quite fond of rooibos. If you had told me a year ago that one of my favorite teas would be preferred without milk and sugar AND that it was a black tea, I would have laughed you out of the room. However, my taste preferences have changed drastically over the past year and I’ve really enjoyed exploring the world of tea while meeting some amazing people here on Steepster.
It is nice to know where to find people that are as neurotic as you are about tea, of all things!
This is definitely an interesting experience. The aroma gets you a hint of that peppermint/licorice/menthol smell found in lots of more generic herbal teas. It also has an oddly rusty smell, almost as if I were drinking from a metal container (which I am not). It’s not what I expected, but that’s not a bad thing at this point.
The first sip is…unexpected. I was looking for a strong menthol flavor and was instead hit by a overwhelming sweetness. I immediately turned to ask the gf if she put a bunch of sugar in it but was cut off by a cough caused by the sweetness that flowed to the back of my throat. In fact, she didn’t add anything to this and it’s just naturally crazy sweet.
A few more sips and I started to acclimate to the intense sweetness of the tea. Seriously, I can’t understand how they make the tea this sweet, but they do, and they do it well. As someone who likes things on the very sugary to the super sweet side, this is something I could drink often – not as often as a good clean oolong, but maybe even like a semi-consistent dessert tea. Now that I’ve had it I can totally understand why it’s served at a salon/spa.
If you’re open to really sweet teas, this pulls it off and does it without help. If you’re a purist, you’re probably not going to like this one.
So far I have not been disappointed by any tea from Harney & Sons. I think that is impressive since I am very picky. This tea does not disappoint either. This tea sample was also a gift from chris_s (who just posted his first review today, so everyone should go follow him).
When I opened the bag, it smelled amazing. It smelled like cinnamon toast. I couldn’t wait to steep it. The tea itself looks like a cinnamon colored ground coffee or a coarse hot cocoa. I used a tea-sac for this one. It brewed up to a light purple-ish color. It smelled like candy and cinnamon. When I tasted it I got candy, then cinnamon, and then plum flavors. It’s almost like a cinnamony mulled apple cider, but with plum and more mellow. It’s complex and I really really like it. It’s such a nice afternoon or evening treat.
2 tsp per 12 oz cup.
This is a 2009 Putuo, well kept, but I’m not expecting miracles. To that end, I used water even cooler than I would normally (this is quite a small-leafed variety) and brewed it a bit longer. I have to say that I’m impressed at what I found, for a year-old tea.
Lightly sweet, with an aroma of steamed spinach that fills the mouth but doesn’t quite reach the nose. Very slightly drying on the palette, which I attribute to its age. Gentle and comforting for a wintry day, but without the body to stand up to any strong flavors.
The second infusion brought out more dryness and a vegetal addition to the body reminiscent of a toasted Japanese tea (eg: Kamairicha), but unfortunately lost most of the sweetness and aroma.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this tea. I’ve had a sample of this sitting in my cupboard for a while now and this morning I decided it was finally time to try it out.
The dry leaves were notably interesting to look at, with a nice mix of black and green.
I have to say, I’m actually impressed. I’m normally not a fan of overly flavoured black teas, but somehow Samovar pulls it off again and again. I’m not getting an overpowering punch of any one particular flavour, but I’m getting a nice rounded cup that I think I can actually see myself drinking every day.
Colour me impressed. A lemon tea that I actually like? Oh, Samovar. Only you. =P
Okay…I’m being daring here…I HATE BANANAS! No…you don’t understand! I REALLY HATE BANANAS! But…I thought I would challenge myself with this one today.
Thanks for the chance to try LiberTEAs!
The Banana aroma isn’t as intense as I thought it would be and I am thankful for that.
The liquor of the tea is quite light in color for a black tea.
There is a slight cheesecake aroma hiding underneath.
The first sip I took I could taste the banana and made a funny face.
The 2nd sip I could taste something more like Banana Peels then actual Banana.
The 3rd sip there was a certain creaminess to it much like a cheese cake, I suppose, but I’m really not convinced.
Where I would give actually bananas a review of -10 I will NOT rate this tea as such. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t finish the cup but I wouldn’t make a purchase just because it was banana.
I will be pretty generic with this rating and since it’s on a scale of 100 I will go a little bit above the middle rating of 50.
I received a package of this tea from Adham as a Secret Santa swap present. Thanks Ricky for putting together Secret Santa!
The leaves are a deep green in color, a medium length sencha leaf and mixed with pieces of citrus peel, lemongrass and flowery blossoms. The pouch smells fantastic, clean and vibrant. I sniffed the pouch as I was waiting for the tea to brew up.
The brewed tea is a pale yellow infusion. The citrus peel and lemongrass definitely show through in the taste but still allow the flavor of the sencha to come through. I could see this being a tea I drink daily, as it isn’t too fragrant or flavored, it is just right.
I’m really beginning to like green teas, I haven’t ventured to try many unflavored greens, but really enjoy these flavored blends.
Thanks again Adham for sending me this tea!
Gosh, these leaves must be ancient! If there is some fading, however, it doesn’t really matter today as what I was looking for was something mild. Let’s not go too much into detail here. Suffice to say that I had milkshake-tummy all day yesterday and that yesterday’s diet consisted primarily of water and the glass of juice I had in the evening was somewhat regretted at bedtime.
So. Something mild for me, please. I’m feeling better in the stomach department today, but let’s not rock the boat, eh?
This turned out as orange as… an orange today. I always get surprised by the colour with this one. I keep expecting it to be very very light and then I get shocked at how dark it actually is.
The aroma is weirdly custard-y. A bit buttery and a bit sweet and I wonder if the fact that I made lemon curd earlier today is messing with my senses. I can’t really spot much nuttiness in the aroma. Perhaps a little almond here and there, but not really anything noteworthy.
Which is funny, because I distinctly remember it as being quite nutty. Or maybe that was just all in the flavour?
Yes it was. It is indeed quite mild, likely due to some fading, but the note of walnut is still quite obvious. Sad to say, however, that either the remainder of the leaves will have to be brewed somewhat stronger than this or it will mainly be used for occasions such as this where I’m feeling it best to stick with something mild.
I had originally given this one a grand total of 98 points, but seeing as how I’ve been so disinterested in it for so long, I’m going to take it down somewhat. No tea that one loses interest in like this is really worth 98 points.
IMPORTANT EDIT!!! GAH!! I completely forgot! Happy New Year, Steepsterites. Be careful around the fireworks.
Prepared in store, and bought some for home.
Dry Leaf Smell: (lapsang souchong) smokey
Steeped Tea Smell: (lapsang souchong) smokey
Flavor: sweet, smoky, black tea
Liquor: translucent dark orange oaker
Lightly smokey, less than a lapsang souchong, with the nice hint of fruit.
MilitiaJim had this for breakfast at the Yerba Buena Gardens location. It was a part of the “Russian Service”
Tarragon-Marinated Beets, Smoked Whitefish & Horseradish, Devilled Egg with Caviar, Herbed Crackers, Fresh Fruit, Chocolate Brownie. They say that Tolstoy fueled his creativity by drinking Russian tea from the samovar. See what it does for you. Start with our zavarka, dilute it with a tad of hot water and add milk and sugar.
MilitiaJim experimented with it plain, milk, sugar, milk and sugar. The tea came from the samovar and then was diluted with hot water in a kettle on the samovar.
The location has comfortable benches, outdoor seating, huge windows for natural light and is very cozy. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.
The box we purchased was a nice recyclable cardboard, containing a plastic bag containing the tea, held shut by metal clip. There was also a sticker included. Not sure why.
I have a few things to say about this tea first. Hoping it doesn’t go cold before I finish.
Firstly, this and the other one I picked up from Tea Desire yesterday, are mysteriously absent from their website. But then, their website lists a very general look, I suppose—very few single estate teas, but they’ve actually got a surprising number of them at my location. Hmm.
Because of this, I had to take the picture myself… Flash makes the leaves look very sparkly and white. But there are some green bits and tan bits and dark and gold in there. It’s actually very pretty.
Secondly, I tried looking up “Shangrilla” as I do every time I pick up a tea I assume is named after its estate. Google returned nothing, but suggested “Shangri-la”. Turns out, this isn’t a real place—it’s a fictional place from a novel, but has become synonymous with “Heaven”. There are a lot of hotels named after it. Couldn’t find any plantations, so I’m guessing it’s just an artistic name choice, and it’s a blend of Nepalese first flushes.
The smell of the dry leaves is VERY fragrant. Fruity perfumy and delicious. Steeped, the smell dissolves into a very fruity dark oolong-and-black smell. Nepal teas are supposed to be comparable to Darjeelings, and I can see why. Although this is much fruitier overall.Fairly drying on the tongue… Getting fruits and nuts. Like a Darjeeling—very like a Darjeeling, but I think I like this better. It’s fruitier, less sharply astringent. Mellow, and VERY nice. I’m liking this one a lot and I’ve only had three, four sips—and it’s still pretty hot.
Cooler, I’m getting more of the drying and it’s settled a bit into a more classic Darjeeling. But still very enjoyable.
In general, I’m afraid of Pu-erh. I have tried it a few times in the past, and I still own one, but I rarely drink it. When I randomly grabbed one from my sample box, I ended up with pu-erh. Hesitantly, I opened it and put the leaves into the gaiwan. The scent was familiar and earthy but light.
Upon steeping, it brewed a medium-dark red brown. It smells familiar too. The taste was unexpected. It was light and smooth; sweet and malty; earthy but not overwhelmingly so. CHOCOLATE. WOW. I was pleasantly surprised. I steeped this again and again, and it still held up. The brew became lighter and sweeter.
Very good tea :) I got to enjoy my favorite little fish tea cups with them too!
I’ve finally made a cup of my Winter Holiday Cheer blend! As I put in my description, it’s a blend of bits and bobs of different holiday blends from Harney, Upton, plus the last of my Vanilla Assam and some Kusmi Prince Vladimir! Since all of the teas were good individually, I had a lot of confidence that the blend would be yummy. I even included a 2 oz tin of it in my Office Secret Santa gift (along with some hand knit fingertip towels and home made vanilla extract!) because I knew it would be super cozy for Winter Break.
…and it IS! It’s sort of like Constant Comment only way, way, way, way better. Spicy, clove-y, orange-y, and the hint of vanilla has my name all over it :) I had it with a little sugar and milk, the way I like my Constant Comment, and it’s warm and comforting and now I want to go listen to Leonard Cohen sing Suzanne (…and she feeds you tea and oranges, that come all the way from China).
(I’m feeling a bit better today! I can taste what things are supposed to taste like! Last night my husband was worried because he brought home chocolate covered pretzels and I had one and said “OH these are good! I never had peanut butter ones! and he was like uhhhh they are plain chocolate!!” but today things taste true and I’m sitting up a bit etc.)
Bam! This is definitely shake-you-by-the shoulders tea. The name translates to “East Frisian Sunday Tea”, and all I can say is that those East Frisians really know how to make a strong cuppa. This particular example has vanilla pieces in it, so the smell of the dry leaf is a wonderful mix of malty tea leaves and warm vanilla.
Although I usually steep black teas for four minutes, I’m going to hold this one at three minutes for this first tasting, just to be on the safe side. It comes out a dark, clear brown with a really enticing sweet and spicy aroma. In drinking the first bit without additives, it’s like the two sides of the tea are both shouting – “I’m black tea! Taste ME!!” and “I’m vanilla! Taste ME!!” which for me means it’s time to calm them down a bit with some half and half and sugar.
Ahh, that’s better. Now it’s much silkier, but the black tea and vanilla flavors are both still very much there. The creaminess has also opened up a hint of coconut. Great way to wake up the palate!
Once upon a time Wombatgirl suggested to Angrboda that they do a tea swap. Ang thought that was a good idea and agreed, so they exchanged addresses.
“I’m a little broke this month, though,” said Ang. “Do you mind if we wait a little while?”
Wombatgirl, luckily, saw no fault with that.
And so they waited.
Days went by and payday came and went. Ang and Wombatgirl each put together a selection of teas from their stores and sent it off to each other. Mail between America and Europe takes many days, so they waited impatiently to receive their packages. There was nothing else that they could do. Days crawled by at a snail’s pace until finally the notification came.
There was a package for Ang in the town’s Package Pick-Up Place, a wonderful contraption where Ang could fetch packages to her at all hours of the day with the use of two pin codes texted to her upon the package’s arrival.
Ang picked up her package and hurried on home to open it. It contained a great many interesting things, but star among them was a sample of Heritage Aijjiao from Red Blossom Tea Company.
Ang rather liked the notes of leather-y cocoa and something earthy in the aroma of those leaves, so she decided to make a pot of that first.
Oh, what a revalation that was! After she had steeped the leaves in water just under boiling point for a minute, the aroma of the cup she poured was rich with cocoa, sweet and earthy and plentiful.
Massively cheered by this aroma, Ang took the first sip from the cup. A smile slowly spread out on her face as she savoured that wonderful flavour. It was everything the aroma had been. A strong earthy note that shouted out its oolong origins topped with the sweetness of a heavy chocolate-y note. What a most wonderful tea! Ang found herself sipping more and more of it, trying to determine more details in the flavour. A touch of flowers here, an aftertaste of nuts there.
Perhaps, she thought, she could even guess which region of China it came from. Ang was never much of an expert on telling these things, but she thought that a cocoa note as strong as this seemed to be typical for the Fujian Province. And indeed it was.
She sipped and sipped and sipped, until suddenly the cup was empty. Oh that happened all too soon! Unhappily, she went for a resteep, hoping it would be as good as the first one, and to her relief it was. There was a little more gentleness about the flavour, but all in all, the flavour profile of it was intact.
Wombatgirl had kindly provided with enough dry leaf of this most wonderful beverage that Ang could get another pot. Ang was not, however, willing to part with those leaves so quickly so she hoarded them away for a long time. Protected they were in their little bag at the bottom of the Bits’n’Bops Basket.
But nothing good lasts forever, and one sad day, those leaves were gone too. Steeped within an inch of their lives, they were, but inevitably they had to be discarded. There was much sadness on that day.
Meanwhile, Wombatgirl had rather enjoyed the sample of Lemon Oolong from Nothing But Tea that Ang had sent her. As Ang was, at the time of being told about this, in the initial stages of planning a purchase at that very company, she offered to buy some more of that for Wombatgirl as well. Eager she was to spread knowledge of this fine tea shop around the world. And thus their second swap was decided upon.
Another waiting period followed, for Ang to get the package from Nothing But Tea and then for the two swap packages to reach their respective destination. Ang’s package from Wombatgirl arrived in due time and Ang opened it as soon as she came home, excited to see what wonderful things might have been packed into it.
Behold! Heritage Aijjiao from Red Blossom Tea Company! A whole little tin of it. Enough for three or maybe even four, if she was thrifty, pots
Once again finding that urge within herself to hoard the leaves and never part with them, it took a long time before Ang could actually bring herself to open the tin and use some of them.
One morning in December, shortly before Christmas she felt it was time. There was snow on the ground outside, it was dreadfully cold and the sky was blue with not a cloud in sight. Most importantly, it was wednesday and therefore not a work-day for Ang.
The time had come at last to break into that tin of Heritage Aijjiao. And so she did, savouring every sip while writing the longest ever post on Steepster.
And they lived happily ever after (or at least until the leaves ran out. Again.)
The moment the swimming gossamer surface of this heavenly tea did touch my heathen parchèd lips, I felt an instant sense of airy jubilation accompanied by the distinctive tang which is solely felt through sampling that which is of the Gods, with a touch of Goodwill towards All Mankind mixed in for good measure. I was immediately transported back to my childhood days of simple joy and naïveté in the lush primeval paradise that is the Garden of England, or for the ignorant among us here, Kent.
Such a sensorial pleasure is this tea that I dare not drink it in public for fear of losing what dignity that has been afforded to me by Providence.
This was another one sent to me by Jaime! Thanks so much!!!
Let me start off by saying that I don’t really like pear-flavored things. Why? I have no idea. I guess that it’s not really the most rational thing, but I just “think” that I don’t like pear things. However, I am adventurous enough to try pretty much any tea at least once and I do like ginger, so I thought that I would give this one a try.
I totally have to agree with TeaEqualsBliss on this one. Her review for this tea sums up my initial thoughts perfectly when she talks about how the ginger pear ratios change before and after this tea steeps. This is another tea that definitely smells different before and after you steep it. Before I smelled more ginger than pear and after it was all about the pear with some ginger. At first I was like… Uh oh. Pear. But it actually smelled pretty good! The flavors blend together really well in this tea and there is just the slight bite of ginger that makes it interesting. Something pear that I actually like!
As this one cools, I notice the flavors come out more as well. In fact, I tried this as a small glass of iced tea the other day and it was very refreshing! In fact… I was at the AJ’s in town yesterday and saw that they had a few Tea Forte boxes and this was one of them, so I bought a box!
Thanks again Jaime for the sample! This is one that I probably wouldn’t have tried on my own, but I really like it!
This is my first puer without lots of fruit, spices, or other stuff added to it, so I had no idea what to expect. I don’t have the experience, palate or vocabularly to attempt to describe this. It doesn’t taste like anything else I’ve tried and it tastes of things I don’t recognize. So I’ll just say, made first pot at midnight. Whoowho, wild and crazy, no work in the morning. Beautiful rich, dark colour. Tasted good, fell asleep mid-pot. Heated remains of first pot in microwave this morning. Amazingly, still tasted good! Second steep, still good. Added cream. Yum, made cream taste extra creamy. I’m about to make 3rd pot.
I think I’m going to really like this as I get to know it. I don’t know what this tastes like, but it tastes right somehow, as though this will become a taste other teas will aspire to and that I’ll search for.
The tuo itself is very lightly compressed and individual leaves can be easily separated which is really rare amongst ripe pu-erh.
What an excellent ripe pu. Completely devoid of any fishy or damp smells. Its fragrant, clean tasting with an excellent thick mouthfeel. Liquor is deep amber with plenty of cedar and mahagony aromas interspersed with a tiny bit of mushroom and a hint of sweet maltiness, a combination that instantly makes you want to drink more. Later infusions got more darker and more earthy with a touch of welcome biterness on the finish to cut through the sweetness.
Hui gan is mild, yet satisfying but the cha qi hits early and hard, just the way I like it.
Y’know, I hadn’t quite been feeling the holiday season this year. I’m separated from my family because of finals period, Dan is far away in California, and Ohio weather is pretty morose. (There is a reason why Ohio has produced more astronauts than any other state – my personal belief being that this state makes people want to flee the earth.)
However, Andrews & Dunham makes me feel home for the holidays, if only for the half hour it takes me to drink a giant mug-ful of this blend! The word repetitively used in reviewing this tea has been “bright,” and I couldn’t agree more. Brews to a beautiful dark rusty color, and I am so pleased to find a black tea I like without milk or sugar. It’s very light as far as black teas go, slightly bitter if left in even a touch too long, with some sweetness particularly noticeable when adding milk etc. The second brew did not hold up very well in my experience, so I’m probably a quarter of my way into the tin! (What can I say? It’s not my fault holiday jingles are in my head! Damn radio.)
Where Sampson tastes like bread, this blend tastes more fruity, or snappy. Kind of like a gay Santa doing tap dance in a sparkly spandex suit. With bells on his toes. Maybe.
Holy Vanilla! This tea is so potent, and smells like you just stuck your nose into a vanilla bean. The smell alone, makes me want to taste the tea immediately! (i am a vanilla fiend!). Sadly, I was kind of disappointed with this tea, it was vanilla-y on the nose, while the tea was hot, but the vanilla seemed to go away and dissolve as the tea cooled off. The taste of the tea was a mild black tea, not anything to write home about, but I was sipping on it at night after an exam, so the tea helped me relax, but I think i wouldn’t drink the tea if I wanted a boost in the morning/afternoon. The tea reminded me of how vanilla as a flavor is a bit subdued and kind of on the mellow side,which is exactly how this tea strikes me. I would have liked the vanilla to be more present in the tea flavor, and maybe a stronger black tea too.
I don’t know what a longan fruit smells or tastes like, but I’m guessing it’s very similar to lychee because the dry leaf smells like lychee with an undernote of spicy, whooshy citrus. Post-brewing the top note of the smell is still sweetly lychee with a stronger undercurrent of bergamot.
The taste is not quite lychee, almost muscat and with a smooth note of bergamot underneath. Sometimes there’s a hint of bitterness at the end of the sip. Other times it feels smooth and silky. There’s a little spicy tingle in the aftertaste – I’m not sure if it is from the tea or the bergamot. The description says ‘smokey’ but I don’t really get much of that (unless you count the spicy bit). It’s more of a hint of darkness/richness that would pair well with a smoky tea but, in this, pairs with almost-lychee.
Ultimately, probably a little too fruity/unique for it to be a regular sipper but enjoyable.