Featured & New Tasting Notes
My oregano bush is in bloom, and like every year, it hosts a bumble bee party. So cute to watch them working their little butts off.
Thank you bees for all your hard work…because of you, my oregano looks like a micro forest!!
I had Sleeping Bear in the middle of the afternoon. I usually have it at night. But it was raining and this tea reminds me how rain tastes in my forest, so it was the perfect companion.
I’m on a “monthly subscription” for this tea…meaning, I buy it once a month cause it’s that good and I get to have the newest harvest every time.
Out of the three different harvests I have tried so far, this one is the best. It’s a little more piney than the others, and the jasmine is just perfect. The scent is therapeutic, it elevates me…I feel like I’m resting on a little cloud made of jasmine blossoms and soft pine needles.
So good that I re-steep it. Yes, cause Whispering Pines has made a re-steeper out of me!
Hey! I’m still here, reading your posts and lurking. I just haven’t posted much lately – been too busy at work, and outside of work, I’ve been busy playing on my 3ds, and then not getting enough sleep because of the toddler deciding bedtime is 3am. WHAT?
Anyway I feel like I’m all over the place. Tired. Zombied. And too tired to drink tea. Also it’s a billion degrees in the office so that doesn’t help! And all my samples are 2+ cups each so I am not getting sipdowns at all and that’s a little discouraging. This one puts me at 194 and that’s still too many.
But things are ok now. Great actually! I had an assam earlier that was bitter and awful so I dumped it and am now enjoying the last of this beautiful tea. It’s so good. Courtney – I can’t believe you didn’t like this, but your loss was my gain! :D
-now I’m gonna go post in the Pokemon thread on Steepster. :P http://steepster.com/discuss/6887-pokemon-and-tea
-anyone a Zelda fan that has a 3DS? What should I play after a Link Between Worlds?
So, I really really love RLT’s flavoured matcha – and of all the different kinds I own this is probably the most versatile: I’ve successfully used it cold shaken in water, whisked into cold milk, in smoothies and milkshakes, and as a matcha soda. No matter how I use it the flavour remains distinctly juicy pineapple. Tonight, I went with matcha soda.
Here’s my recipe:
1.5 tsp. of matcha disolved into about 2 oz. of hot water
1 tsp. of sugar
1 can of club soda
Interestingly, as a matcha soda I find that the pineapple, while retaining some of the natural taste it has, becomes a little bit more like candied pineapple, and in the case of this particular batch it tasted just a little bit like bubble gum – but I enjoyed how different that was, and the added element/dimension it brought to the flavour. It is also possible the added sweetness was more from the added sugar; typically I do not ad d any sweetner to any of my tea, the matcha soda being the exception because I find the sweetner is needed to combat the taste of the club soda.
Just a friendly reminder if you’re gonna go the match soda route; remember to occasionally stir it a little bit because otherwise any matcha that didn’t properly dissolve will end up sitting on the bottom and your last few sips will be really, really concentrated!
And that, folks, is the last of my epic, long as fuck queue – so I can finally go to sleep now, and start fresh tomorrow without any backlog! Hooray! I feel like I’ve accomplished so much.
Holy Crap. This tea is BLACK. Like my soul. :p
Method: I followed MzPriss’s instructions. But I did just do 1/2 a batch to start because I wasn’t sure I could handle the dark side. So it was about 1.5 tsp Special dark, a small pinch? of Black Beauty, 8 oz water, 208 degrees.
Aroma: This smells like a cave of mystery
Flavor: Well. It turns out that I am not quite ready for the dark side. This tastes a little burny. Not like the burninator or anything, but a wee bit smoky perhaps?
Luckily, I know I’m kind of a weenie when it comes to the ultra darks, so I brought along the bottle of maple syrup. 1 tsp later and this is like a dark heaven. This has an amazing mouthfeel, heavy and thick. It’s surprisingly not overly bitter.
I know this flavor. My Nana used to make these sugar cookies for Xmas every year, and they were super thin. Ribbon cookies? Anyway, she would always burn them because they were so thin that it was impossible to get the temp and timing just right in an old oven. That’s what this reminds me of! Nana’s cookies!
I never say “No” to anything that reminds me of my Nana. Except wooden paddles!
Edit: I did a 2nd steep of this. At this point, the teas are already mixed together in the strainer. I steeped for 5 minutes and wow, I like the 2nd steep even better. I still did the maple, but the 2nd steep is much milder. What was already just a light burn/smoke is now a whisper. I can taste a little cocoa and more bakery notes. Less like Nana burned cookies, and more cakey?
BTW: Nana’s burny cookies were famous and everyone was actually excited to get them. They were only every lightly burned around the edges, and the contrast of dark and sweet was always kind of pleasant. So it’s not a negative thing AT ALL!
Queued post, written May 25th 2014
I took this one out of the EU TTB round 2, and I’ve been looking forward to trying it. It’s the raspberry that appeals to me here, even though the combination with mint strikes me as slightly odd. It’s not something I would have ever thought to put together myself. I’ve been waiting for a good time to have it, and I believe now is it.
The colour is borderline disturbing and there’s a smell of spearmint in this that made me actually recoil. I tried smelling the wet leaf inside the pot as well and there was a distinct aroma there of human… Nevermind that. I don’t think that’s a thought I wish to continue with.
It doesn’t smell like raspberry or any other kind of fruit though. Mostly just spearmint. Granted that’s a strong smell, a stronger smell than raspberry, so all is not lost.
It doesn’t taste like raspberry either. It tastes like hibiscus. Not surprising given the red tint to the colour. Or the grimace on my face everytime I try to sip it.
Hibiscus is not a berry. It does not taste even remotely like any berry ever. Stop trying to foist it on people claiming it’s a berry flavour!
Hibiscus tastes like blood to me. Metallic and sour and disgusting. Spearmint tastes like toothpaste, basically.
What I’ve got here is a cup of blood-flavoured toothpaste.
No thank you, says I.
I’m pretty sure the sample of this I’m drinking was from boychik Thanks!!!
I’m glad to get to revisit this one. It was one of the teas that made me think oxidized oolongs aren’t really my thing. I LOVE a good Dancong, but this one is darker and less complex. I get woody plummy notes, and a nice sweetness. It is pleasant and everything, but just doesn’t blow me away like some teas do :)
Well, this happened :)
Rivendell is a majestic Elven outpost in Middle Earth, filled with lush vegetation, towering waterfalls, and clean, pure air.
Our Rivendell blend was inspired by this ethereal place. With a base of sweet Anxi Tieguanyin, roasted cedar leaves, and hand-cut Tahitian vanilla, this tea is the essence of purity.
Rivendell opens with the taste of cedar, cherry, and caramel flowing through a luscious sweet body. The middle of the sip coats your mouth with a nectar-like sweetness and hints at vanilla and chocolate, with a touch of pine nut and mineral, reminiscent of spring water that has flowed over miles of untouched granite. The finish is clean with hints of lilac and pear, leaving an aftertaste of cedar and caramel. It tastes as if the purest water in the world flowed through miles of sugarcane fields, scattered with nectar-filled lilacs and orchids, passed through a forest of cedar and cherry trees, then poured over a pristine granite cliff straight into your cup. It’s pure nectar and caramel with light florals, a hint of berries and chocolate, a touch of pine nut, and heady evergreen sweetness.
If there ever was a fruit fit only for the elves, this would be its juice.
Notes: Cedar, Cherry, Caramel, Vanilla, Mineral, Chocolate, Pine Nut, Lilac, Pear
This is my 100th tasting note! I’ve been drinking plenty of tea, but I haven’t made a formal note on them because I was saving #100 for something meaningful to me. The very first what I call “real” (not grocery store tea bags) teas that I fell passionately in love with were Mandala teas. Garret was my first tea-pusher. I realize “tea-pusher” sounds a bit questionable and unromantic for the ever so charming and graceful Garret. But I mean it in the most affectionate way possible. Good tea is like the very best kind of addictive drug and dealing with Garret is an addicting experience: beautiful tea made possible by a soulful, ethical company. I will be a lifelong Mandala customer.
I’ve mentioned drinking my Dark Beauty cocktail many times and have had a few requests to add it to the database, so violà! (that was for you TeaFairy).
You won’t find “Dark Beauty” when you go visit Garret at the Mandala site because it’s a concoction of two of my very favorite teas – two great tastes that taste great together if you will. Dark Beauty is a blend of Special Dark Loose Ripe Pu’er and the sweet, mildly chocolate Black Beauty.
Both of the teas are spectacular on their own. I have Special Dark either alone or in this mixture pretty much every morning of my life. Special Dark is very different from most ripe pu’er – there is no leather that I detect, just a deep smooth bass note of heavy chocolate goodness. Black Beauty isn’t a bug bitten tea, but it has those very sweet lychee-honey notes that good bug bitten tea has.
Here’s how I make it: I take a 16 ounce cup or teapot, I put a scant tablespoon of Special Dark in whichever infuser basket I’m using. At this point, once you’ve boiled your water, you can give the SD a quick rinse if you wish. I usually don’t bother because it doesn’t seem necessary to me for this tea – sorry tea careful tea-crafters, sorry about that. I steep the SD in 16 ounces of 212 water for 3 minutes. Then I add a big pinch of the Black Beauty, give it a stir and steep for another 3 minutes.
UPDATED to add the new, lazy, awesome method. I’ve been losing patience with what I call The Dark Beauty Two-Step, so it’s time to make it simple. Now, I’m putting both teas in at the same time (and skewing the ratio slightly more to the Black Beauty side), pouring in the water and steeping it all at the same time for 4 minutes. Works a treat and less fuss If you’re a DB fan, try it this way and let me know what you think.
Yes, that is a LONG time to steep. No, it never gets bitter or astringent. It yields the deepest, darkest cup of sweet comforting awesome you can imagine. Earthy and chocolate with an undertone of caramel lurking back there, especially noticeable as it cools a little and a lilt of the floral-lychee bit from the Black Beauty at the top.
When I’m feeling particularly indulgent, I go Terri-style with this and add a little maple syrup and on occasion, a little bit of milk or almond milk. I have insomnia and lots of stress. This is the tea equivalent to me of the heavy, snuggly quilt my great-grandmother made that I cocooned myself in as a child. This is my pure comfort tea. When I drink this, I hear pretty much everything these guys ever sang: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nedEEL37Lvw
Let’s talk about how awesome Stacy is. I allowed myself ONE small order for my birthday because mostly people forgot and it was from stacy because of the red Queen Cupcake and the limited Edition Boracay Breeze. included in the package that i picked up from my tea mule were a couple samples of some of the teas that stacy’s working on. So of course….i came home and have started in on them :) This is the first one i tried – let me tell you, this smells SOOOOOOOOO delicious. The Caramel is really present while the apple is hanging out in the background. I made my other half stick his nose in the cup and his response was…caramel…fruit? smells like a baked good. soooo he couldn’t place the apple but it was close.
Brewing this up – no steeping paramters really so i opted for “oolong” setting on my kettle and let it steep for about 3mins. Initial sips i get caramel! OOLONG! and then apple. it’s roasty oolong, so that’s ok with me. The apple is mostly present in the after taste and currently, the oolong is the dominant flavour. But there is for sure, both apple and caramel here.
not sure how far along stacy is in the process, but i WILL be buying some of this when it comes out because, while i am not a fan of oolongs, i can see how delicious this one is going to be. Thank you Stacy! soo good!
Free sample from Green Terrace – thank you.
4g 100ml gaiwan 200F
Rinse/ 10/10/15/15/20/30 sec etc
Taiwanese teas are perfect for gongfu method. Lots of steeps, some flavors show up and disappear in next steep.
This tea is flavorful and malty. Apricots, plums, cherries and nuts detected. Some steeps I combined in one cup. I enjoyed sipping this tea while my kids had swim meet.
Thank you so much Green Terrace for letting me try this tea. It was fun.
Today I tried the spring harvest of this tea using short steeps and boiling water, covering the bottom of my 150ml Gaiwan with leaves. My timings were 15,20,40,65,100,120s.
This is the spring harvest of this tea and I am not sure whether the differences I found in flavour are the result of using different techniques or a different season.
I found that this time the cocoa notes were intensified over my previous tasting. The fruit notes found were longan and blackcurrant. Cashew butter and cream notes were also present. The caramel notes were present but not as distinct and I did not find the grainy notes of the last steeping. I’ll have to try my longer steeps and lower temperatures to do a true comparison with the previous season, but I did really enjoy it this way.
As I’m having a sleepless night, might as well drink something spectacular.
Using my newly green oolong seasoned yixing pot.
This tea…oh my, this tea.
It’s beautiful. Long twisted strands of jade tentacles. From the most luxuriant tea plantations, one of the greenest oolong there is.
The ultimate refinement. A gleaming Rolls Royce.
Creamy and buttery mouthfeel, French pastries with lingering lilacs in bloom. The taste creates an imprint in my mouth that stays forever. Angel breath…
Needless to say, this is a staple. Been restocking on this for a good two years now, I don’t plan on stopping.
This gets the Fairy stamp of approval!
I’m happy to report that I brought a thermometer with me, because when I pulled this one out of the bag, I realized that the recommended temp is 165! I have 2 samples of this, I think one is from Sil & this one is from Stephanie. So although this is a sip down for the tea I brought with me, it’s not a real sip down, because I have more at home.
I’m sad to report that the zyrtec I’ve been taking only really worked for the first couple of days of my visit, & each day I feel worse, so today I totally feel like crap. However, the silver lining is that last year (& every time I come to visit) I started feeling like that almost immediately after leaving the airport, & so the experiment has basically been a success, because I’m going home to my usual allergens tomorrow & I probably won’t even notice them upon re-entry.
Although you might not want to trust my taste buds, what I’m getting from this is lightly steamed green beans, with a creamy mouth-feel, and a lingering thick tongue sensation.
Good day Steepster…
I had kind of a rough morning, I was over at my boyfriend’s house in Berkeley and woke up with itchy hives again. Decided to go home and take some Benadryl and that seems to have helped the problem, though it made me so sleepy I didn’t wake up again until almost 11:30.
I decided to have some of this as my wake up call. This is actually a fairly decent breakfast tea and goes well with a slice of gluten free toast. This really does taste like someone crushed up a cookie and threw it in the tea. Very caramel, sweet type of flavor.
I know my immune system has been out of whack lately and I’ve been very prone to stress related illnesses. I think I’ll try to focus on green teas and decafs for the rest of the day.
Whoa! Port in a little pot.
Ambrosia, liquid gold for the gods.
So I now have this little yixing clay pot seasoned especially for Whispering Pines’s Vanilla Dreams collection.
Though it is hard to decide, Port is probably my favourite in that collection.
It’s got such distinctive notes of eucalyptus and camphor that marry so well with the saffron and the vanilla. I love that you can definitely pick up the saffron, it brings the flavour to another level, hard to describe…almost savoury, umami…
Not easy to go back to regular stuff once you’ve experienced that. This tea is like no other, and though it might not be for every palate, it’s a must try.
Every time I have it, I’m loving it a little more.
(I’m at infusion six right now, and it keeps on giving…)
I’m kind of a grumpface today… Our new roommate (and my boyfriend’s friend and coworker) has only been here a week, and he already bought tickets for some girl to come visit him. For a week. And they’re not even dating, and she’s 19 to boot (no offense meant to the younger people on here, but I generally do not like or get along with teenagers)… Seriously? And since he and my boyfriend generally work from about 8 to 5 during the week, I will most likely have the pleasure of entertaining this person all day long. Seriously? I am at a loss as to why this is going down… But you know, clearly my opinion doesn’t matter as long as he asks my boyfriend about it, who is never going to say no. So yes, grumpface.
So, on to the tea then. The leaves are what I would call “medium-sized” and twisty. They’re mostly dark with little spots of gold. They smell mildly malty with honey sweetness, yum. I did a 3 minute brew just out of habit.
The aroma is quite dark. Very malty, with a syrupy deep raisin note and something somewhere between honey and molasses. Wow, the flavor here is deep. I definitely agree with Terri about this being a manly tea. That dark raisin aroma carries over into taste, but it’s not sweet at all. Needless to say, this is quite malty. There’s tobacco and soft leather, maybe a touch of earthiness. There’s also an interesting almost bitterness that I feel is inherent to the tea (meaning not a result of incorrect brewing). It melds nicely with the leather and tobacco notes.
Nicole mentioned maybe a bit of smoke in here, and although I wouldn’t call it smoke, I can see what she’s talking about. It’s definitely dark and intense, and the earthy quality could definitely be described as almost smoky.
I quite enjoyed this tea. It’s amazing to see (or rather taste) the wide range of flavors and experiences that can come out of one region (Yunnan). The golden, fuzzy Yunnan teas are light with pastry and honey-sweetness, while the darker varieties can be very assertive and rich, with deep and developed savory flavors. Amazing! I’m so glad I’m getting the chance to try all of the different kinds, especially since most of them were from swaps! Thanks everyone, and Nicole in particular, who provided this sample, along with many others! :)
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Raisins, Tobacco
Sunday morning yums!!!!
I made this in my new banko clay pot that was seasoned for unflavored black teas.
I’m working up some motivation for a hike, and today Brian & I will also be picking wild blueberries and huckleberries along the trail. The plan is to pick enough to make some wild blueberry huckleberry wine. Fingers crossed!!!!! Wheeeeeee!!!!!
Good morning Steepster!
When I woke up earlier, I had a lychee craving. I happen to have some in the fridge. And I happen to have these delicious lychee pearls, so why not create a lychee feast?
This tea is very unusual. I personally don’t know any other lychee Dragon Pearls.
They are big and fragrant, but not soapy. The taste is so juicy, just like plump lychee. I get this lovely chocolaty smooth and malty Yunnan taste which makes this lychee tea so different than all others out there. I get none of that heavy perfumed lychee after taste you get in most black lychee flavoured teas.
It’s like drinking chocolate lychees. Not that I ever had any, but I’m sure there must exist some chocolate lychees somewhere. After having this tea, I can totally see their sweet floral taste work perfectly well with dark slightly bitter chocolate.
(And I just realized I wrote the word lychee way to many times in this review)
I other news, today I’m seasoning another one of my Yixing clay pots. Fun times!
Sorry, but skip this note if you’re looking for some insightful adjectives on how good this tea tastes.
I’ve been a sleepy head all day…just can’t shake the blues and the tiredness.
Just wanted something magical, that might chase those feelings away. Think I may have found it.
Wild Monk is one of those tea I keep in case of emergency.
Thank you Garret for making this so special, it nearly brings me to tears…good tears that is.
I just got “shengged” by The Monk, and I liked it…a lot.
Hello everyone, I hope you’re all having good weekends! I decided to do gong fu with this tea today because I felt like I wasn’t getting the full potential when I tasted it western-style. I mostly used TeaVivre’s parameters, but adjusted the amount of water to 4 ounces and then used 4 grams of tea, which turned out to be 4 pearls. I also used 200 degree water instead of boiling.
The method: 4g tea per 4oz water, 200 degrees, 10s rinse/30/50/70/90/120s
Rinse (10s): very light, woody, golden raisins (the pearls puffed up but held their shape)
Steep 1 (30s): strong bitter cocoa with some woodiness, burnt sugar (the pearls fell apart completely!)
Steep 2 (50s): very earthy in a mineral sense (licking a rock comes to mind), bitter cocoa
Steep 3 (70s): mellower earthiness, autumn leaves, dark but not bitter cocoa
Steep 4 (90s): very similar to steep 2, earthy and highly mineral
Steep 5 (120s): similar to steep 3, mellow earth with autumn leaves, buttered toast!
So, I was not a big fan of those highly earthy and mineral steeps… In fact, I didn’t finish either of them. Just blegh. My favorites were the first and last steeps, which suggests to me that maybe I should try this again with shorter steeps? Or maybe I’ll just stick to western-style with this one.
Any suggestions for a gong fu method that won’t bring out so much earthy/mineral flavor would be greatly appreciated! I only have enough of this left for one more cup or session… So I want to get it right! :P
I also noticed that there’s a tad bit of water left in the bottom after I drain the leaves. I’m assuming this is okay, since I don’t see how I would get all of it without dumping into a strainer. Would love to be corrected if I’m wrong!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Burnt Sugar, Cocoa, Earth, Mineral, Toast, Wood
Aaaaah Saturday morning yums!!!
Method: 1.5 tsp, 8 oz, 200 degrees, 3 minutes, French Press
Dry Leaf Aroma & Brewing Aromas: Chocolate cake. Om nom nom
Flavor: yum! This has lovely cakey and cocoa notes. I wish it was a little sweeter, but that’s easily remedied. I am going to try a second steep and see how that goes!!!
I had a nice oolong afternoon with this baby. All gone now, I had just a enough left to make a Gaiwan session.
This baby is a decadent one.
Floral notes of lilacs, creamy and buttery, with a minty fresh finish.
Love that thick texture, a total PUDDING MOUTH!!
It’s from the highest plantations in the world, maybe that’s why it tastes like the sky…
I’ve reviewed it a few times before, this resteeps for a while, and though it looses its floral notes, it remains creamy and buttery all “oolong”…
I’m feeling so restless today. I want to do something, but I don’t know what I want to do, so I do nothing, then get annoyed with myself and even more restless. Rinse. Repeat.
I was going to try the Elderwood this evening, but I grabbed this instead because I thought it might have a calming effect.
Method: 1.5 tsp, 8 oz, 180 degrees, 1.5 min, muggy strainer
Dry Leaf Aroma: wow, gorgeous. Pine/evergreen and a very strong floral, like jasmine
Brewing Aroma: heavier on the floral
Flavor: the floral is first, with some gentle piney notes. Then there’s this fascinating and totally unexpected nutty note. It’s strong, too. It’s also got a creamy feel and a buttery taste. It’s also a little sweet and has a nice lingering aftertaste.
Is it bad that I have a reminder on my calendar to get this in August before the batch is gone?
Edit: Ehrmagerd!!!! 2nd steep. 3.5 min. Sipping this. Yum. Ok yum. What’s that? Holy crap! It’s pine nuts! This tea tastes like little pignolis on the end of the sip. SB- I love you!!!
This is a sipdown for me…
I have been so stressed out this week trying to negotiate my severance package, I’ve broken out into hives (!!!) twice and I think the two must be related unless I am developing a new food allergy. I feel like I need a vacation.
This oolong is a bit like a vacation in a cup, very soothing. I love the buttery and slightly vegetal flavor that reminds me a bit of sweet peas. And the aroma is so nice and flowery! I went for 3 steeps of this before I decided to finish it off. I do feel more relaxed somehow after drinking this.
I don’t have any unflavored green oolongs at the moment and I feel I should remedy that situation. More tea shopping may be in store for me :)