412 Tasting Notes

65
drank Vanilla Bean by SOKO Tea House
412 tasting notes

When Soko stopped selling tea to go and let the coffee shop across the street from them take over serving their teas, this was the one I usually got (since they didn’t carry their whole line and Soko’s has since stopped carrying most of my favourites…) to go while studying at the library. There’s nothing much to it, it’s just simple vanilla over a ceylon base. There’s actual pieces of vanilla bean, and I feel like it relies more on the dried bean than flavouring oils, because the vanilla was never particularly bold. But I like simple pairings, so.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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78
drank Mount Kenya by Justea
412 tasting notes

I’m coming down with a cold (courtesy of my sibling—I just got back camping with them), but today while sipping this, I made a second steep (first at 3 minutes, which I overleafed I guess because it ended up being VERY strong, astringent, malty with the usual cherry-like berry taste I tend to get). I did a second steep at about 1 minute, getting again malt and cherry, not as astringent this time, but I got a very distinct menthol flavour in the middle of each sip; it didn’t linger, and was quickly overtaken by astringency at the end, with a very dry mouthfeel.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Aged White Tea by Anteeo Tea
412 tasting notes

Sweet, nutty, almond flavour that gives way to wood and hay. It reminds me strongly of a mellow Keemun. Smooth and delicious.

Flavors: Almond, Hay, Sweet

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

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drank Sejak by O5 Tea
412 tasting notes

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80
drank Indonesian Gold by Teavana
412 tasting notes

Okay, didn’t have the BEST experience in Teavana today. I’m told they’ve demolished that upselling/overselling tactic, but it still occurred, and he either ignored me or didn’t hear my meek little protest, and I ended up with more tea than I wanted. It sounded like the manager told him off for it though when I left…

But in the end, I’m not complaining because I’m liking this tea so far. He said it finished with caramel, and he wasn’t wrong; it’s a sweet, even-bodied tea that starts with honey and finishes with toasted honey/caramel. It’s bright, sweet, slightly nutty, not brisk, no astringency (granted I took the packages’ recommendation for three minutes to steep). I really have gotten worse at describing teas. This is a very mellow, sweet tea though. It reminds me of some Taiwanese honey blacks—specifically the one Davidstea offered for a short time. That one had a bit of smoke on it though, which was odd. I’ll play around with the steep times for this one in the future, though, since I do have a lot to experiment with.

Teavana has been ushering in a number of single-origin (or country/region specific blends, at least) teas lately, under their ‘Micro Lot’ tab. If their Taiwanese honey wasn’t $30 I would have tried that, although the curled, small leaf makes me think it would be quite similar to Davids’.

Just finishing off Harler’s second handbook, Tea Manufacture, and will be posting a review of it soon on teatra.de, with some comparisons to Werkhoven’s Tea Processing. General “Tea Guides/Handbooks” only offer a summarized view of tea processing and manufacturing techniques, so if you’re interested in processing in India and Sri Lanka, with some brief looks at other areas such as Georgia, I’d pick it up, as well as Harler’s other tea books.

Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Nutty, Toasted

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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76
drank Laos Xiao Ye 2006 by SOKO Tea House
412 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
412 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
Xxxxx

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.

Xxxxx

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.

Xxxxx

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
412 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
412 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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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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