490 Tasting Notes

84

My first tea from the Teavivre oolong tasting. Thanks a bunch, Angel!

The dry leaf is tightly rolled and dark green. Before the water hits it, the tea smells vegetal and faintly like the sea. There’s also a hint of nuttiness. I’m a little intimidated, but curious. I’ve been very impressed with Teavivre’s oolongs in the past, so I am prepared to be surprised.

I steeped this in a glass teapot and took a minute to watch the leaves bounce up and down, slowly expanding and unfurling. The water transitioned to a pleasant yellowy green. After three minutes, I stopped them. By that point, I could see that many of the leaves were whole from stem to pointed tip. Beautiful.

The aroma of the finished tea is on the pungent side. However, the flavor is much more tame. The first thing I notice is umami. It’s brothy with a tiny note of seaweed. I’m also tasting salt… that’s a new one for me. But all that is balanced with floral, springlike flavors, and oolong’s nuttiness. It’s a very satisfying tea with a lot going on!

Flavors: Broth, Floral, Nuts, Nutty, Salt, Seaweed, Umami

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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85
drank Summer Rose by Adagio Teas
490 tasting notes

The name of this tea has The White Stripes’s “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” on repeat in my head. “Like a summer rose needs the sun and rain, I need your sweet love to beat love away…” The lyrics don’t make sense, but I enjoy Jack White just the same.

The first thing I want to say about this tea is how it doesn’t look exactly like the photo. Rose petals naturally fade when they dry, so they’re not the bright magenta you see here. They’re faintly pink, but mostly a sort of cream color. That said, there is a very generous amount of them in my sample. Lovely!

The smell of the dry leaf is very floral, but not exclusively rose. I’m getting hints of lemon, pepper, and magnolia. Mmm, magnolia! The smell poignantly reminds me of the beginning of summer here in the deep south. I wonder if there are magnolia teas out there… that’s something to research for sure.

The brewed tea also smells of rose and magnolia. So summery, so nostalgic. Upon the first sip I notice that it’s not an overwhelmingly floral tea. It certainly doesn’t beat you over the head with the rose. The black tea base is mild and without bitterness or astringency. Much like a yunnan tip or something. Very smooth. Though that might have something to do with the preparation. On the package, it said to brew for three minutes, so I did. Anyway, it’s very gentle and I look forward to finishing the sample.

Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Lemon, Rose

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88
drank Hao Ya 'B' by Harney & Sons
490 tasting notes

Hmm, I take back some of what I said yesterday. Today I’m having it with less sweetener since I accidentally used too much before.

Yesterday I said I wasn’t getting any smoky flavor, but today I can taste it. It’s subtle, nothing like a lapsang or anything like that. But it’s there. I guess I just muted it.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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88
drank Hao Ya 'B' by Harney & Sons
490 tasting notes

I got this tea as a gift from Kaliska back in the summer and I’ve been holding on to it. I tried it iced and found that it’s not a very good black tea for that, so I saved it for winter when I’d want it hot.

First of all, this is the first tea I’ve gotten from Harney & Sons that came in both a tin and a foil pouch. Neat! Inside the pouch, the leaves are dark and tiny. Very narrow and fine, but not broken up. They’re so fine that when I scoop them with a teaspoon, I get a very dense amount. That comes into play later.

The resulting tea is hearty and rich, perfect for the first cup of the day. I certainly felt motivated by it! Since you get so much tea leaf per scoop, it’s easy to make it come out strong whether you meant to or not. There’s a hint of bitterness from this preparation, but in a good way. It’s tasty in the way that fancy dark chocolate is tasty. (To be clear, this isn’t a chocolatey tea, I’m just comparing the pleasant bitterness factors.)

I taste notes of honey, malt, wheat, and grains. It’s very satisfying. There’s a fair amount of astringency, but that’s common in keemuns and was expected. Others here on Steepster have called this tea smoky, but I’m not tasting it. Huh. I look forward to going through this tea throughout the winter.

Flavors: Grain, Honey, Malt, Wheat

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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89
drank Vanilla Orchid by DAVIDsTEA
490 tasting notes

Another from u/RedSpaceMagic. This tea has been a hit here. I’ve made a few pots with friends and it has gotten a lot of compliments.

It’s a pretty, loosely-rolled oolong. Looks almost like collard greens as it unfurls in the infuser. I served it in a glass teapot, putting the pale yellowy green on display. The aroma is like vanilla ice cream with a hint of springlike earthiness. A lot like the scent of crushed or freshly-rained-on grass. The flavor is creamy, delicious vanilla followed by the oolong’s notes of hay. It’s almost like vanilla pudding or something like that.

This has inspired me to try more vanilla oolongs. It could be the beginning of a new favorite thing… Any recommendations?

Flavors: Butter, Grass, Hay, Vanilla

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML
Kittenna

Other than DavidsTea’s discontinued Vanilla Oolong (dark oolong), I actually don’t really know of any – and I love that profile, so it’s definitely on my radar!

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84

I got this tea from u/RedSpaceMagic on Reddit’s r/TeaExchange. I wonder if they’re here on Steepster…

Anyway, this tea looks like a chai. Lots of chunks of cinnamon bark, pieces of marshmallow root, and a blend of very dark leaves. It smells pleasantly smoky, with just a breath of spice, and brews up to a lovely shade of amber.

The tea’s aroma is smoky and wintery with hints of pine. It smells like a mild, spiced lapsang souchong. As I taste it, I’m definitely getting a taste of cinnamon graham cracker. Nothing about it seems particularly marshmallowy, which is a tad disappointing. No vanilla. The chocolate aspect is also a natural one, like you taste in the finish of Fujian black teas. No actual cocoa. That aspect is perfect. Actual “chocolate flavor” additives tend to ruin teas to me. The taste of the actual “campfire” the s’more was toasted over is featured the most.

It’s hard to come to a verdict of this tea. While I really like it and find it comforting on this chilly, stormy day… I was hoping this would be more of a dessert tea. I think if it had just claimed to be a smoky spiced blend, it would have been a bit less disappointing for a marshmallow fan.

Flavors: Campfire, Cinnamon, Pine, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Thomas Edward(Toad)

a pretty good one for sitting by a fire :)

Nightshifter

I agree. Since it isn’t s’mores-like, I propose a new name: WP’s Winter Campfire

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74
drank Hazelnut Truffle by Tea Forte
490 tasting notes

Oh no, I forgot I had this in my cupboard. It’s a single pyramid sealed with only thin cardboard. It’s been there since March-ish of last year. I hope it’s not stale.

I love these little pyramid sachets. I know it’s a gimmic, but the little leaf at the end of a stem is pretty to me. It looks like it’s growing out of my tea. As it steeps, the water darkens at a slower pace than what I’m used to. During that time, the leaves really expand, filling the sachet to the top. The scent of it brewing is nutty and buttery. It smells like Nutella, almost, but not as sweet.

The tea has a very warm, dessert-like aroma. However, the actual flavor doesn’t pack as much of a punch. It’s mild and tastes more like hazelnut than chocolate. There is a bit of chocolate in the finish and on the exhale, I guess. It’s not that I really mind, but I’m left wondering if this tea grew weak from being old, not because it wasn’t good in the first place. Hard to say.

EDIT: There’s coconut in this tea?

Flavors: Butter, Cocoa, Hazelnut, Malt, Nutty

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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84

I found a little packet of this tea on top of my microwave this morning and it couldn’t have been more perfect. I had friends over last night for dinner and the new MarioKart DLC (yes, we never grew out of it), and the gin and tonics devolved to whiskey shots. Lemme tell you, this is not a morning for coffee or anything harsh.

I’ve reviewed this tea before, so I’ll keep it simple. It’s soothingly gentle, smooth, and floral. Exactly what I need right now.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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62
drank Rooibos Chai by Harney & Sons
490 tasting notes

I’ve had a single bag of this floating around my tea station for months, rejected over and over for being a rooibos blend and for not having caffeine.

Tonight I wanted something sweet but didn’t have anything dessert-like. We’re supposed to get a freeze here later on, so I thought something spiced would be appropriate.

I gave it a long-ish steep time in hopes of bringing out the spices. It came out dark and cinnamony, but was tainted with the sour honey-like scent of rooibos. I added a splash of 1% milk and a little sweetener. (I’ve been using monk fruit sweetener for a while now, as it’s not as harsh as other zero calorie sweeteners. It also doesn’t add a weight to the mouthfeel of the tea, unlike sugar.)

Even after six minutes, the spice content is a letdown. I can mostly taste rooibos with cinnamon. There might be a hint of clove in there, too. But no cardamom, ginger, allspice, or star anise. I wonder why Harney & Sons does so well with their other flavored teas, but can’t seem to make a good chai…

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves, Rooibos

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 15 sec

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92
drank Viennese Earl Grey by Harney & Sons
490 tasting notes

I’ve gone through 4 tsp of this tea today. Absolutely cannot sit still. Send help for my coworkers.

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Bio

Quiet, strange, and in love with the world of tea. 20-something and living just outside of Atlanta. Cat lover, EBM/synthpop/industrial geek, balcony gardener, and collector of fossils. On the hunt for the perfect tea in each of my favorite categories.

I prefer black teas, but I’m trying to broaden my horizons. My favorites tend to be yunnan tips, earl grey, chai, and pretty much any black tea from Fujian, China. My favorite add-ons are plum, cinnamon, coconut, apple, raspberry, bergamot, lychee, osmanthus, cucumber, sage, lavender, vanilla, and caramel.

I’m shy about green tea, curious about white, and learning to love oolong. I hate rooibos and anything with orchid, fennel, or jasmine.

I’m currently growing my own tea. I have a 3-year-old potted Camellia sinensis, and I plan on picking a tiny bit of new growth this spring for my first try at drying my own leaves.

Since joining, I’ve traded with: Kaliska, QueenOfTarts, LiberTEAS, JustJames, Spencer, Ninavampi, Jillian, Teafreak, KeenTeaThyme, and RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas.

Location

Decatur, GA

Website

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