407 Tasting Notes

76
drank Laos Xiao Ye 2006 by SOKO Tea House
407 tasting notes

This has always been my favourite, so when Soko’s was discontinuing pretty much everything but their flavoured teas (catering to the tastes of the demographic in the area), I went back and picked up a bunch of what they had left; unfortunately a lot of it was pretty broken up. Maybe it’s because it’s been a while since I’ve sipped it, but.

Rinsed, then first two steeps at 5-10 seconds (a mishap while pouring). The smell is thick leather, which is carried through the taste; there’s something like tobacco as well, the leather is chewy and a touch sweet, but there’s also a slight bitterness at the end of each sip, almost burnt, which I think is due to it being so broken up since I don’t remember it being as present in the past.

This tea was originally from camellia sinensis (Soko’s source), so I might buy a bingcha from them at some point of it, because I still like it as an everyday drinker non-pu “pu”.

Unrelated, I’m working on two, possibly three stupidly long blog posts. On unorthodox tea processing mainly, as well as another book review, and, if I can track down a source for a random fact/rumour, maybe a post on yue guang bai. We’ll see. In other news, scored an NES Advantage: https://66.media.tumblr.com/e3a6a9b5a49879288db89862ea0ad9e9/tumblr_o7flv66oLI1r78eh9o1_540.jpg

Third steep’s softened the bitter edge (it wasn’t strong to begin with); leather’s not as deep. More woodsy, I want to say. Fourth is similar, with it being more woody, with a sweet finish. It continues in a similar fashion for the next few steeps, no leather by about the third, just light and woody.

Preparation
Boiling

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drank Oud Night by TWG Tea Company
407 tasting notes

I got this one as a sample. I didn’t think they’d give out expensive tea samples! I just mentioned that it’d interested me for a while but was WAY out of my price range. It’s a ridiculously generous sample to.

It smells like a sort of thick woodsy amber—amber like the perfume scent amber—almost bordering on babypowder, I guess? Very perfumy. I looked into it, and oud is a type of heartwood that they let get attacked by a fungus, producing a strongly scented resin. This is a mixture of that (I think), cedar and tea flowers. Can only see the dried resin bits, though. Weirdly, no where on the wiki page does it say oud/agarwood/calambac is used in foods.

It’s surprisingly smooth tasting, with the oud/calambac sitting in the back of your throat after each sip. It does kind of overpower the taste of tea. It’s hard to describe, because it feels very one-note since I have no experience with… uh. ‘Oud’. There’s the slightest astringency on the back of the tongue, and something like cedar on the forefront.

I do like it, actually. But I’m not about to dump the money to get a few ounces. I drank it at five minutes earlier in the week (didn’t log), but four minutes smooths it out much more. Maybe I’ll try five minutes again next time to try and get a better idea of the profile.

Flavors: Cedar, Resin

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Whiteantlers

I have to wonder if the company used real oud in the blend. First, it’s endangered and second it’s extremely expensive and as you said, not something generally used in food. The scent of oud differs greatly, depending on age and other factors, but it is never amber-y. It can smell like petrol or smoke, but there is nothing sweet about it, even the cheaper grades. Nevertheless, this was an interesting and thought provoking review that makes me want to try the tea myself!

AJ

I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t. Their sites rarely list proper ingredients.

No smoke, but I could describe it as petrol; definitely not sweet. Amber might not be the right word, because I haven’t smelt enough of it.

Sorta like pine and cedar sap, though.

Whiteantlers

Pardon me while I scent nerd out…
I collect vintage perfume and am a certified aromatherapist. Oud (aka oudh) has gotten ‘trendy’ in perfumery over the past several years and nearly every house has something with oud in it. Undoubtedly 99.9% of it is from the laboratory, not the heart of a tree. Why someone would claim to put it in tea (or put something oud-like in tea for that matter) puzzles me. Of course, perhaps the promise of ingesting such an exotic ingredient has market appeal.

Amber (in perfumery) has a soft, powdery, vanilla-ish scent. It is created using combinations of labdanum, benzoin resin, copal (itself a type of tree resin used in incense manufacture), vanilla, Dammara resin and/or synthetic materials. It is not the stuff that prehistoric insects get trapped in, nor is is whale vomit-ambergris.

AJ

DELETEless than a minute ago
That definitely fits the bill for TWG. They have teas with gold dust or flakes for no other reason than so it can cost $30/oz.

No actual wood chips present in this one, though:

https://media.steepster.com/api/file/nFBNEmmATYGvRr39eSZ2/convert?fit=max&h=480&w=940

It’s got a sort of powderyness to babypowder that makes me think of amber without the full on vanilla.

Whiteantlers

I’m shaking my head. The picture is lovely. If nothing else, I loved your description and this also gave me a chance to enjoy a lot more of your past reviews.

AJ

Thank you.

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63
drank Ice Cream Cake by DAVIDsTEA
407 tasting notes

So I ordered a tea book off of abebooks yesterday, went to check my email for the confirmation, and learned that my grandma found an interesting book on tea and would be sending it along. So… double the tea books. I’ve got way too many books.

That’s my preface.

This was kind of a gift! Some people are just kinda the damned sweetest. I wanted to try this and the chocolate cake one, because I’ve noticed lately that Davidsteas have been getting bogged down with a lot of “stuff” (one of the gripes I often have with Teavana), and this one didn’t look too bad.

UNfortunately, this reminds me strongly of Teavana’s S’mores. Because half the stuff I thought was tea was actually roasted carob. Again. Can we please cut this the hell out. The reason I like Chocolate Chili Chai and Red Velvet Cake is because they don’t contain carob, and do absolutely fine in their cakey chocolately taste without it.

So yeah, unfortunately this tastes more like carob than black tea, with a hint of waxyness—I think from what I can assume are white chocolate curls. The tea’s very cloudy, much like S’mores was. Smooth creamyness, maybe from the cloudy particles, might be the vanilla flavouring although there’s nothing that tastes straight up ‘vanilla’.

Sucks because it DOES smell good dry, but brewed it’s all carob chocolate instead of vanilla. It’s still nice and inoffensive, though I feel bad about not loving it since it WAS kinda a gift.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Christina / BooksandTea

What books are you getting?

AJ

Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook (Heiss)
New Tea Lover’s Treasury (Pratt)

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I dislike that Murchie’s has upped their 25 gram minimum to 50, and gotten rid of their loose-leaf 25 gram boxes. One of the most solid things about them an some of the other chains (yes, DavidsTea) is that their minimum was way more friendly/made it much easier to sample many teas at once without getting stuck with a tea you didn’t like.

At any rate, they still have the boxes of ten teabags, which I opted for even though I tend to find there’s a difference in taste between their fanningteabags and looseleaf teas.

I associate Canadian breakfast with keemun for some reason, but this blend is strongly assam. Actually, I just checked and it SAYS it’s keemun and ceylon, but this is so overwhelmingly NOT keemun OR ceylon. Maybe an african-grown assam, but still definitely assam. Strong and malty, and almost that overly-tannic berry taste. It’s still got a bit of maple, but it’s definitely a very strong, astringent tea, which might just be due to the teabag although I don’t know how to explain the tea-blend discrepancy.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Sejak by O5 Tea
407 tasting notes

Brewing korean greens in japanese teapots. What a world.

Worked out fittingly, since the first note I get is seaweed. It’s not bitter, but I was pretty careful about the water. Seaweed with something else vegetal. Definitely not sweet, and it tapers into a very mineral aftertaste.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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80
drank Violet by Kusmi Tea
407 tasting notes

I walked by Soko’s today and they had the rest of these out in their 50% off cart. So I guess they’re discontinuing them.

Well damn, I had to grab a tin then because I really do like this tea. I might have grabbed the rest of the tins… But I have having more than 100 grams of any tea. It just feels like too much. I guess it wasn’t too popular—Kusmi never had the single-ounce sample tins for this tea, so I’m not surprised. I was lucky enough to try it way back when the owner of Soko’s gave me a spoonful. It’s always been an odd blend for me, but I’ve always liked it.

Since the last time I had a tin of this, and now, I’ve tried violet-flavoured sweets. Which, with the addition of sugar, are powdery-perfume sweet, but not unpleasant. This could definitely TAKE sugar, maybe even milk, but I like it as is. I made it a bit too strong this time around, but it’s pretty much how I remembered it. A bit like the sweets, minus the sugar, with a medium-bodied china tea base. Hunan? Maybe a bit of Keemun? I’m guessing, but there’s something smoky in that base. I still don’t know how to describe violet as a flavour, other than powdery old candies, maybe. Like the kind of sweets an old English grandmother might have.

Looking back, I might have rated this a little too zealously, but it is a personal preference. Might rethink that rating in the future.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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78
drank Honey Scented Black Tea by Oollo Tea
407 tasting notes

Revisiting this one; it’s been in my cupboard a while. Brewed scent is honey with an almost cinnamon note. Almost reminds me of my mom’s honey carrots she used to make.

Cooled, the first sip is honey’d and bakey, like grains and fresh bread. Still a faint spice, almost like the kind you can get in certain honey varieties. The taste is short and sweet, and doesn’t linger particularly long in the mouth. Sipping more builds up a sweetness in the back of your throat, though. Something else like pollen or flowers.

Might do a side-by-side with DavidsTea’s Honey Black from the past December.

Still trying to get through textbook readings and three scientific articles on mass balance in glaciology, but I keep zoning out listening to David Bowie. For obvious reasons.

If you haven’t heard Chris Hadfield (the astronaut)‘s rendition of Space Oddity yet, I’d suggest it. Endorsed by the man itself, and for someone who grew up listening to the original… It might have made me cry a little bit. Sometimes you just miss important people you’ve never met.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Flowers, Honey, Spices

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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66
drank Lavender by Great Wall Tea Company
407 tasting notes

Got this mostly to mix with black tea and to drink in the evenings. Lavender is probably the only floral tea that doesn’t taste… floral. Or at least not like perfume. It’s more like a mild spice, something like sage. It’s also a very clear brew. Just a faint green. Maybe it’s just because it’s a bit old, but it’s not a harsh tea, though you get something medicinal in the back of your throat. Not as prominent as the lavender in the lavender-chamomile blend I got for Christmas.

Weird thing to be drinking while listening to David Bowie and also trying to read research papers on glaciers for class.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Maple Earl Grey by Canada True
407 tasting notes

This was a Christmas gift. I know exactly where they got it, because it’s still got the sticker. Plus I’ve thought about picking up this very tin from there a few times.

I like maple, and I like earl grey, so there wasn’t much that could go wrong. And I’m actually enjoying this quite a bit. It’s just your classic fannings-packed teabag on a string, but it’s nice. You get the maple first, nice and sweet, and as that mellows you get the more pungent earl grey. It’s a nice balance. And surprisingly, you get the honey oak sri lankan black coming through as well.

Not bad.

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drank Balhyocha Noeul by O5 Tea
407 tasting notes

Gaiwan. Might be a little too dark for a gaiwan, but we’ll see.

I was slightly zoning out on the computer while sipping this, though. Mainly got chocolate and plums or raisins; sort of a dark fruityness. Something stickysweet hits you in the back of the throat, like maple.

Jillian

I was just at O5 a few days ago while I was visiting Vancouver and that was one of the teas I tried.

AJ

@Jillian I got one of their sample sets with this and their Balhyocha Saebyok.

Jillian

Ha, I got the exact same sampler

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Profile

Bio

A tea-drinking transgendered Canadian, currently in the third year of university, majoring in geology (yes, “rocks and things”). I take most of my tea made straight into a mug, although occasionally if I’m not in a hurry (this isn’t often), I’ll have time to sit down with a pot or gaiwan. It’s the highlight of a good day.

My notes are pretty disjointed because I’m a fairly absent-minded individual, and I also keep a teatra.de blog for reviewing and rambling about tea books/publications.

And I’m a Doctor Who fanatic (Jon Pertwee, if you were wondering).

“But you should never turn down tea, when it’s offered. It’s impolite, and impoliteness is how wars start.” ~Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann

Location

BC, Canada

Website

http://artoftea.teatra.de

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