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109 Tasting Notes

Thank you FONG MONG TEA for this free sample

Wow-this doesn’t taste like any kind of oolong I’ve ever had! In fact, if you had given me a blind taste test, I could not identify this tea-or even hazard a guess. I might guess an herbal tea. I’ve never had an Oriental Beauty tea before, so I had no idea what to expect here.

The leaves are large and twisted with colors of chocolate brown and rust contrasted sharply by chalky white tips. The dry leaf aroma is a rather generic, mild black tea scent.

The brewed leaf aroma smells much like grapefruit. Liquor is a deep amber hue. Flavor is very unusual and unique. This does not “remind” me of any kind of tea I’ve ever had. I taste notes of grapefruit, apple, and vinegar (apple cider vinegar?). I also taste some sort of woody type spice.

This is all very interesting. Let me try another steep or two to think about the number rating.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

try it around 180 degrees… :)

Scott B

How long should I steep it for at that temp? You only did 90 seconds? That’s so much shorter than they recommend.

TeaBrat

I don’t know why they recommend 6 minutes…. I usually steep all my oolongs for short periods of time, but then I am usually going for multiple steeps as well.

Scott B

Okay, well I have enough loose tea for another brew, so maybe I’ll try that next time.

ScottTeaMan

Six min is too long…….I gongfu my oolongs and kep the steeps alot shorter.

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80

Thank you, FONG MONG TEA, for the free sample

Fong Mong tea takes its tea packaging very seriously. Not only did all the tea samples come in vacuum-sealed foil pouches (Americans, think of the Food Saver infomercials), but there is also an oxygen absorbing packet in each pouch. Combine that with their very fast shipping time (less than 10 days from Taiwan to the USA) and you can expect very fresh tea.

The sample packs are 6 grams in size-enough for two brews of 3 grams each. With little margin for error, I used a digital scale to get a precise measurement of the tea.

The dry leaves are very dark green (bordering on Charleston Green)and are rolled into round cluster shapes with light brown tips protruding from the end, almost like a short fuse. The aroma to me smells like a general green oolong smell-maybe lightly floral and vegetal-and somewhat sweet.

As the brewed leaves unfurl, it turns out that there are two leaves in each cluster attached to a stem (the light brown fuse). Brewed aroma is pretty much the same although the roasting flavor comes out and enhances everything. Liquor is transparent and the color of straw or hay.

The flavor is more of the traditional floral/vegetal flavor I have experienced with green oolongs. However, it is smoother than others and has zero bitterness. I think it tastes a little better and is a little higher quality than say, Rishi’s Bao Zhong (although I am unsure if that tea is charcoal-roasted).

I’m not sure if I know green oolongs well enough to give this a number rating, but if you like quality green oolongs, you should enjoy this tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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86
drank Palm Court by Harney & Sons
109 tasting notes

Brew temp 208

This is an interesting blend. It seems every sip features a different tea. I taste the Keemun and Ceylon the most, but I also taste the Oolong. Not noticing the Assam as much except for maybe the tannins. Very smooth and non-astringent. I would consider this a mid-morning/afternoon tea for me. Very relaxing and enjoyable. Not a must have, but I’d probably buy this again in the future.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

I liked this too, it certainly it unique!

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85

Small, tighly-rolled leaves are mostly chocolate brown with a few chestnut brown leaves/tips in the mix.

Brews a fairly strong mahogany-copper cup. Brisk and malty. Not smooth, but not bitter. Consumed straight, as usual. It’s reliable and something I would probably re-purchase in the future to drink by itself, or to blend it with a good Ceylon to make an Assam/Ceylon Irish blend.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

I might want to try this someday. I’ve been wanting to place another order with Arbor but unless you order $60 of stuff the shipping is really expensive. :-/

Scott B

I thought their shipping was reasonable-it was cheaper than Wendell. However, San Fran is pretty far from Michigan, so they probably socked you there.

TeaBrat

I just did a test run – $8.83 to ship $25 worth of tea. :-?

Scott B

Ouch. I thought I paid about $5.30 for a $30 order.

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This is the last of my samples from Teavivre – thanks again for the generous samples!

The dry leaves are quite pleasing to the eye-exquisitely twisted black leaves flecked with warm golden buds.

This tea is smooth, sweet and contains notes of grain. Maybe rye? Zero bitterness or astringency. This is one of the highest rated teas here at Steepster and is a very high quality tea.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85

Free sample provided by Fong Mong Tea-thank you very much

Wow, this is a truly unique tea! I can honestly say I’ve never tasted anything like this.

Dry leaves smell sweet and like a combination of fruity and floral. Brewed leaves smell a little malty and a little like some sort of cool mint. The liquor is coppery red.

At first, I didn’t taste the mint, and mostly tasted the floral/fruity flavor, but now that my palate picked up on the mint, I mostly taste that along with maltiness from the Assamica. This tea is smooth, sweet, and not bitter at all. It doesn’t fit into any preconceived notions of what a black tea should be-and I like that.

I have never tried a Taiwanese black before and I am grateful for the opportunity to have tasted this unusual and flavorful tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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80

I received this as a free sample with my last RtR order. I was excited to get a tea from Sikkim as I am new to teas from that area. However, I was a little concerned when I realized how close it was to Darjeeling considering I haven’t enjoyed Darjeelings as much as I thought I would.

The dry leaves smell fragrant and fruity. I wonder if they are picking up a little of the aroma of the orange trees grown on the estate? They are short-medium in length and tightly rolled. About half are chocolate brown and the other half a medium brown like chestnut.

The brewed leaves have a bit of that muscatel type odor that is associated with 2nd flush Darjeelings. There is no baked bread aroma like RtR promises. (I may not be the greatest at determining all the complex flavors in a tea, but I know what fresh baked bread smells like, and this does not smell like fresh bread). The liquor is reddish copper.

1st steep-The flavor is very fruity and sweet and I don’t really notice the muscatel in the flavor-which is very good, in my opinion. I enjoyed this cup.

2nd steep-I don’t taste much fruit anymore-just some of the muscatel flavor that I don’t care for. It’s not as strong as in a 2nd flush darjeeling, but it’s there and it’s the only discernible flavor here. Not my thing.

3rd steep-liquor is a pale amber now. Muscatel flavor is mostly gone, but I am not tasting a lot of anything else.

Verdict-If you like 2nd flush Darjeeling, you might enjoy this. I probably wouldn’t buy this, as for me, it’s only tasty for one steep. My rating number is based on just that 1st steep.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

I have a hard time picking out flavors in tea that vendors describe too, half the time I think they’re just making it up. ;-)

Scott B

You seem to do a better job than me as I see you noticed cherry and plum whereas I didn’t notice a specific fruit in the flavor.

Personally, I vacillate between thinking the vendors are crazy/making stuff up and wondering what in the heck is wrong with my nose and taste buds.

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89
drank Hu Kwa by Mark T. Wendell
109 tasting notes

I pretty much wanted to try this tea once I saw their ancient-looking packaging. Look at that canister-it look a hundred years old! I only hoped the tea was new.

The bad thing about Wendell is their shipping is comparatively high (for tea merchants) and (as far as I can tell) you have to buy 4 ounces of most everything. However, I really enjoy Lapsang, and with all the good reviews, I figured there was little chance that I wouldn’t like this tea. The good thing about Wendell is that their 4 ounce teas come in their own tins-no looking for a tin and struggling to remove the scent of the previous tea-you are ready to go. The tins have their lids attached on back hinges and are filled to the brim so be careful not to spill any. And to be fair about the shipping, the tins are probably a little more expensive to ship than a pouch.

The dry leaves are medium in length, very tightly rolled, and mostly chocolate brown with some mahogany brown mixed in. I’ve gone into sensory overload comparing the dry leaf aroma of this to my other Lapsangs, so descriptors fail me now, but suffice to say it is unique compared to the others. It’s smoky of course, but spicy too, and I’ll leave it at that for now. Liquor is copper-colored and very clear.

Flavor is smoky and mild. Slightly sweet. Very smooth. It tastes like a Lapsang, but slightly different. Perhaps that is the Formosan base instead of a Chinese tea base? Perhaps they have a better technique of smoking their leaves. Maybe both. No matter, it’s delicious. Almost makes me long for 90 degree days-when I enjoy Lapsang the most. I have 6 Lapsangs in my house right now. 5 of them are one ounce or less, so Hu Kwa will be around long after I have finished the others-and I kinda like that.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 30 sec
ScottTeaMan

I think this is Al Pacino’s favorite tea…….HUU KWAAAAA!

TeaBrat

ScottB – what’s your favorite lapsang so far?

Scott B

Amy-I think I am leaning towards Al Pacino’s tea being my favorite,but Teavivre is strong too. I think I need to have a Lapsang contest to see for sure.

ScottTeaMan

Scent Of A Lapsang :))

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85
drank Masala Chai by Rishi Tea
109 tasting notes

Haven’t had this in a month or two-been opting for caffeine-free after dinner options most often lately.

This is a good and reliable masala. It has a bit more cardamon than I would like, but I can deal with it as long as I don’t inhale the dry blend too much. The cinnamon is very pronounced-to the point of having a bit of a spicy kick to it.

Brewed in mug and almond milk added after brewing. It’s better to brew together on the stove, but usually I just go with my tea boiler.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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84

Free sample provided by Teavivre for review

I don’t have Jasmine tea often, but when I do, I want good stuff. This, my friends, is the good stuff. After putting up with lousy bags in Asian restaurants, I bought some loose leaf from Ten Ren tea-which was okay, but it went very bitter in just a couple of months. I had a good experience with Imperial Republic pearls from RoT and I was hoping to build on that with this tea.

The pearls are very tightly rolled and a little bigger than RoT’s (which are BB-sized), but smaller than say, Fenqing Dragon Pearls (which are closer to marble-sized). The aroma is a wonderful and natural jasmine. The liquor is very pale with more yellow than green hues. The jasmine is pronounced, but it does not seem like you are smelling or drinking perfume. The tea and the jasmine fuse very well together in the flavor. I have had two delicious steeps so far and may go for a third.

I know that I will never compromise with inferior Jasmine tea again and I consider Teavivre’s Jasmine Pearls one of my very top choices for quality Jasmine tea.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

I don’t really care a lot for jasmine tea, but cheap jasmine tea is the WORST!

Scott B

It’s funny that I don’t really care for floral notes in FF Darjeeling, but I like the floral in jasmine and you really enjoy the floral notes in FF but don’t care too much for jasmine.

TeaBrat

I like the way jasmine smells, but it can have a bitter, almost soapy quality that messes up my stomach. I did like this one from Teavivre though.

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Profile

Bio

Started drinking tea for health benefits maybe 5 years ago-exclusively bagged tea. Usually went for various Celestial Seasonings type of stuff. I bought a tea infuser at a gourmet shop once and then I realized there was almost no loose tea available. Eventually tiring of bags, I started ordering loose tea online and I have never gone back. Initially, I was exploring all the wild and exotic flavor combinations, but now I mostly drink straight teas. I still enjoy blended teas-but prefer those without “flavoring”. Hope to learn here and find some new teas I might not otherwise find. Am a vegan, so “milk” generally means “soymilk” to me. If it’s almond, rice, or coconut, I will mention that fact.

I am new here, and new to reviewing tea. Many of my initial reviews will be from memory and may not be very detailed at all. I hope to write more informative reviews on current and future teas.

I won’t let external factors affect my rating of the tea-such as slow shipping, too expensive, etc. I’ll mention any customer service problems in my reviews. I also won’t let my mistakes in not following the seller’s recommended parameters affect a rating. I can’t believe people who say “I forgot about it and oversteeped it” and then give it a rating. If I brew outside the parameters, I will wait until I brew it right before I give it a rating.

TEMPORARY RATING SYSTEM- Don’t hold me to these numbers and descriptions-like George Bluth, I like to tweak.

90+ It’s awesome, right?? I’ll probably try to keep it on hand.

80-89 – I really like this and will buy it again at some point, but there are so many teas to try!

70-79 – This is a pretty good tea and I may buy it again based on my mood, what tea store I am buying from, and what kind of deal I can get.

60-69 – This is okay. I finished the bag. I would drink it again if offered, but would not buy it again.

40-59 – IF I finished the bag, I recall this tea thinking “Why in the hell did I finish the bag?”

1-39 – Did not finish the bag. Maybe not even the cup. Tea was given away or discarded.

Location

Usa

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