260 Tasting Notes

70
drank Apple Sencha by Den's Tea
260 tasting notes

Lena sent me a bit of this tea, and I was in the mood for something fruity tonight so…ta da! Now give me a cookie. [Just kidding. Maybe. Do you have cookies?]

She had written down a 30 second steep time, was counting it in my head and I got a little distracted [not surprising] so it was probably closer to 45. Not that I’m sure that would have made a huge difference. It didn’t come out bitter or anything, thankfully.

The liquid smells distinctly of apple. To me it’s clearly apple of more of the granny-smith, green variety, but also…baked. Something about it makes me think of apple baked into a pie without the additional seasoning.

At first, the taste was very much like every green apple candy I’ve had without about 95% of the sweetness. As it cooled down, however, it began to fill out. I can’t place exactly what it was that happened, but I think that I got a little bit more of that sour taste [in a good way] and the sweetness balanced out really nicely with it. By the time I reached the bottom of my cup I was pretty satisfied.

I hardly got any sencha taste, though it could very well be that it just mingled very well with the apple taste. In looking at the leaves, I hadn’t been expecting a really bold, robust sencha taste [they’re a bit dark and a little twiggy] so I think that this is a case of the quality matching up pretty well with the flavor profile.

I didn’t give this another steep because it was pretty light to begin with, though in the future when I have a little more time I might give it a go just to play around. I definitely enjoyed this, but as we almost always have apples around here I usually just eat one when I’m craving one. So, I don’t think that this is going to be something I’ll order.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Ricky

Nope, no Sencha taste. It’s just like drinking Apple juice tea. I like it though =), it’s refreshing.

Carolyn

You can actually resteep it nearly forever without losing the taste.

LENA

hey, 30 seconds is what Den’s recommended! just keeping it real. :)

takgoti

@Carolyn Good to know! I’ll keep going next time.

@LENA HAHAHA, I didn’t mean to sound like I was doubting you! I should be used to the quick steep times with the Japanese teas but I still must “WAT?” sometimes.

LENA

just messing with ya. i always do a double take when the steeping time is in seconds.

takgoti

Hehe. Thanks for sending it to me though! I enjoyed it – and now I have a much better idea of what to expect when looking at Den’s flavored sencha. It might result in an order of a different flavor.

Carolyn

My favorite is the pineapple sencha. It tastes like buttered pineapple to me.

Ricky

I have a feeling Den’s flavored Sencha are all like that. I’m tempted to get that pineapple one =D

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93

Last night, I was going to clean the tin that I was keeping this in and I discovered that I had some left. I’d been craving it all week and I thought it was gone. I wasn’t too peeved, because I ordered some more and it should be in soon, but I was ecstatic when I discovered that I had enough left for a cup.

I think I only have one of maeda-en’s herbal teas left to try from the sampler I got through Steepster Select, but so far this one is definitely my favorite. If teas had emotions, this one would be happy. It’s light and bubbly [as in friendly – the tea itself is not bubbly], but at the same time has an undertone of warmth to it. It’s like biting into a bright little amber gem. Not that that makes any sense.

To me, the flavor shouldn’t be tasty as it is – I think puffed wheat breakfast cereal with a sugar glaze and I think boring [but I like to do breakfast up big, so that may just be me]. There’s something about this that makes it crave-worthy, though. Even after I steeped this three times last night, I could still go for a cup. Or five.

I find it clear, sunny, refreshing, and comforting. In fact, I’m giving it a ratings bump. I really like it. Say hi, Soba-cha! [I really need to stop personifying my tea or I’m gonna start weirding myself out.]
flickr picture | http://bit.ly/82kHtE

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
teaplz

Pretty picture! Love the warmth of that. And I actually thought the infusion would be much darker than that, considering how dark the soba-cha is in the picture. INTERESTING.

LENA

can’t see the pic at the office…i’ll have to wait until i get home. i just like saying "soba-cha". it makes me smile.

soba-cha…

takgoti

@teaplz Thanks! Yeah, it surprised me a little too the first time I tried it, but I don’t know why. I mean, dark green leaves don’t produce dark green tea.

@LENA No worries! It’s nothing spectacular, it just made me happy so I took a picture. And HEE, you’re funny. But it is fun to say! Soba soba soba-cha.

TeaCast

Hmmm buckwheat…. interesting. Sounds like it tastes right :P

Micah

Nice!

I roasted some buckwheat kernels and made tea a few weeks ago and I didn’t care for it. I’ve been meaning to try it again though. I think I might have roasted it a little to long. =/ There’s a Japanese restaurant in town called Isa and whenever I go there I get the iced soba cha and it’s wonderful. I really should try making it again.

takgoti

@Micah Iced? I’ll need to try that when my skin doesn’t try to separate from my body and run back inside whenever I leave the house.

Ricky

It sounds deeeeeelicious, must get me some of that.

Lena, your office sounds like a lockdown. That or it’s a conspiracy to prevent you from clicking on takgoti’s links. Hey, at least your able to browse steepster =D

LENA

@ Ricky – They think the life of a private investigator needs to be bland….or spent looking at Glocks, new concealment options, etc. Which I do as well. My favorites list is quite interesting.

Oh Cha!

This tea looks so interesting! I must try it!!

In appearance it reminds me of this mystery tea that my little old Chinese acupuncturist gave me when I had bronchitis. Strange as the substance was, it was delicious! (And effective!) I’ve been on a hunt to find it ever since.

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45

My thoughts on this feel similar to Auggy’s, so since she sent me this tea I’m going to do a small homage to one of her prior logs. Here we go.

Hmm…Auggy sent this. Intriguing. Have I tried a CTC before?



I don’t think so. Hee, they look like coffee grounds.

Sniff, sniff.

I don’t smell anything.

Sniff, sniff!

…Dirt? Light dirt? What the what, am I congested?

Shrug. Pour.

I’m bored. Are they expanding? They’re not. Wait… Nevermind, nope. Is it done yet? How cold is it outside? 25? Poop. Is it done yet? I want to see Avatar again. I need to make cookies. Oh, laundry.



Finally!

Pull out infuser. Hold up the basket.

Sniff, sniff.

Okay, now I really don’t smell anything.

Hold up the cup.

Sniff, sniff.

…Keemun?

Tilt head. Furrow brow. Blow on liquid.

Sip.

OUCH!

Still not cool enough.

Checking the weather… Scanning the newspaper… Tapping my foot… Making a sandwich…mmm…ham.

What the world. Needs now. Is love. Sweet love. It’s the only thiiing. That there’s just. Too little of. Ah damn it, this is going to be stuck in my head all day, isn’t it?

Check the cup.

Better?

Sip.

Mm, okay. It’s kind of…sweet. But also malty. Bake-y? Oh. OH! Bitter. BITTER!!!

Okay. Hrm.

Tentative sip.

Swish, swish.

Okay. Kinda sweet at the front of the tongue. Sort of flat at the sides. Let’s try the back…

BITTER.

Gulp.

BITTER! Breathe. Oooh. That’s kind of sweet. Kind of…darjeeling sweet. Especially if I concentrate on the center of my tongue. I wonder what’ll happen if I move to the back…

BITTER!!!

Well, that was both predictable and stupid.

Is this the reeeeeal liiiiife? Is it just faaaantasssssy?

NO.



What the world. Needs now.

DAMN IT!

Sip.

Lather, rinse, repeat. I think I need to try this again, either with additives or a shorter steep time, or both, or whatever. It was interesting. I wouldn’t necessarily call it enjoyable. Overall, it reminded me of a keemun. A very near over-steeped keemun. I hope you enjoyed the rather censored journey into my brain. Thanks Auggy, I’ll be logging this again, I’m sure.

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

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
Sorry you didn’t like it much but I loved listening to you not like it!

Jillian

LOL, that was fun. XD

CTC teas do brew up quickly and strong I’ve heard, so cutting down the steeping time might help…or it might just be a crappy tea. ;)

teaplz

THIS IS AMAZING.

And this tea looks ridiculously funny! Seriously. Adorable but so bizarre!

Ricky

I think this deserves a lol. =D So this is what goes on in that brilliant mind of yours.

Kitch3ntools

LOL loved reading this post! <3

S

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different
results.” smile

LENA

I loved it! I think your mind jumps around like my husband’s does. He can string together odd thoughts and start a new conversation out of nowhere that only he knows how he got there.
For example: Making a protein shake. Adding a banana. Monkey. Space Chimps. NASA. = “Hey Lena, did you know we might be able to see a meteor shower in August?”

yep, that’s right. :) i love him.

Auggy

Lena, I officially adore your husband. Of course, this is from the person that once made the comment, “Speaking of Superman, what about my allowance” (trust me, it connected in my mind). Plus… monkeys!

LENA

@ Auggy – lol…he’s a good one to keep around. And he loves monkeys too. Sometimes when he says something weird, I’ll just ask him…“so what made you think of that?” It’s usually pretty comical.

teaplz

Lena, I do the SAME thing… except in the middle of conversation. And then nobody knows how I made the leap. And everyone’s confused. :( But I agree, your husband is a keeper!

takgoti

@Auggy Not this time, I’m afraid, but I’m gonna keep trying it until the sample’s gone. Glad I could entertain!

@Jillian Hee, thanks. Yeah, I probably oversteeped it. Or maybe understeeped it – I’ve gotten this with keemuns before if I understeep them too. Four minutes is usually a good middling time for me with blacks, so I typically start there if I don’t know what to do. Clearly, this was a bit much for me.

@teaplz Yeah, right? Dumb LTR doesn’t have pictures on their site. I’ll take one and get it up here so people can see.

@Ricky Hardly brilliant, but yeah, if distilled a bit.

@Kitch3ntools Thanks! It was fun to write!

@Shanti Damn! That’s why I never win at slots, then?

@LENA HEE! Yeah, I’ve had to explain myself more than a few times. Tell your husband I say we win!

Auggy

Yeah, you probably have already figured out that shorter steep time is a good bet here but I just had one from Lupicia with a 1 – 2 minute steep time… so maybe that’s a good starting point for CTC leaf steep time.

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51

I decided to give this another go this morning, but I’ve got an intense-ish day of baking ahead of me and I need to make this short. [A true challenge.]

I can taste the pumpkin. That’s very nice. But in order to get to it I need to sift through the spices a little, because to me this is heavily spiced. Not spicy hot, but spiced like…pumpkin pie. So at least appropriate. For that they get points.

The one thing that I definitely don’t like about this is that it’s drying my mouth out rather noticeably. Also, it’s just a little on the bitter side. I probably should try this out as a proper latte, or maybe I’ll just top it off with some whipped cream. However, I think I’m going to hold off on it for a while as I suspect it’s making my stomach a bit upset.

Anyhow, it easily claims the crown for the best pumpkin flavored tea I’ve had, but I’m probably not going to reorder it. And now, I can finally put a rating on this. [Yes, that was bothering me.]

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec
Angrboda

I know what you mean about trying not to get long winded. Sometimes it boggles the mind a bit to realise that our short posts are still longer than other people’s long posts…
I think I’ll make a cup of this. Odd how a post about a tea that someone wasn’t really impressed with can inspire someone else to make a cup of a tea that they weren’t really impressed with either. I’ve found that adding a little milk helps a lot though. How exactly do you mean when you say ‘proper latte’? Is it something to do with steaming and foaming the milk like in coffee drinks, or is it something one can do at home in an ordinary kitchen?

takgoti

That happens to me a lot because I keep thinking that I’ll like it better after I read about it for some reason. I don’t know why.

In regards to the “proper latte,” actually, getting technical to me that does mean steaming and frothing the milk, but I don’t really have the means to do that… So what I meant in that context was just putting more milk in it. I just dumped like a tablespoon in it last time when I was about half-way through the cup and it wasn’t effective at all. I’ll probably do like 2 parts water 1 part milk next time and actually let the tea steep in the milk.

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85
drank Ocean of Wisdom by Samovar
260 tasting notes

I realized that I haven’t logged this in a while, though I drink it pretty often, so here we are.

This has remained one of my favorite teas to go to sleep with for months. I find the combination of spices to be soothing and calming, so it does a pretty good job of helping my brain wind down when it’s time to go to bed. [And trust me, that’s really not an easy job.]

The rooibos flavor is definitely prevalent, so all you rooibos haters out might not be fans of this. The one thing that I can say for it is that this is one of the few rooibos teas I’ve had where the accompanying flavors actually work with the rooibos instead of just…being there [or in some cases working against it], so I don’t know. I don’t want to speak for other people’s tastes.

I’m nearly out of it, so it’s a good thing I stuck it in this last order at the last second. It’s also warming my insides a bit, which is a good thing because it is mother effing cold here right now. I mean, easily below freezing and I don’t even want to know what it’s like with the wind chill factored in. Rooibos is supposed to be good for that warming quality, and it’s working for me, so I’m just going to finish this cup off and then, you know, freeze to death. Farewell cruel world.

I’m being dramatique [and a wee bit pathetique], but it really is helping. All right. Night, Steepsterites.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Ricky

Sounds like everything I avoid bundled in a nice little package =(

Love rooibos, never tried honeybush. Can tolerate ginger and spices, but licorice? Does that play a factor?

Auggy

I really don’t know how you can make rooibos sound good to me, but you do.

takgoti

@Ricky As someone who’s not a huge fan of licorice [at least in its black entities] I don’t mind/really even notice it. That said, you might be more sensitive to it than I.

@Auggy Hehe, it’s a gift.

teaplz

How did I miss this? Hahaha! You definitely make this sound delicious and awesome an interesting. Can’t wait to try this now (even though the licorice is in there, and I’m sort of scared of it, and cloves definitely aren’t my favorite thing on the planet).

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70
drank Dokudami by Maeda-en
260 tasting notes

I forgot to add this to my cupboard, but I just finished off the sample, so…mission accomplished?

This review is going to be totally lame, because it’s going to sound very similar to my soba-cha and mugi-cha tea logs. So, you know what? I’m just gonna cut out the middle-man:

soba-cha
- most of the sweetness
+ dark taste from mugi-cha
+ kinda…spicy? [peppery, maybe]
+ maybe a little nuttier
= dokudami.

I like it, but not as much as soba-cha or mugi-cha. So I guess it’s a good thing that my sample’s gone and I didn’t order it. Anyhow, it was interesting. And I’m writing this as I’m trying to listen to a podcast, which isn’t going over too well because I keep typing what they’re saying so I’m just gonna stop right now because if I keep going this isn’t going to make more sense.

Now I want soba-cha. Damn it.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
LENA

soba-cha is at the top of my “to buy” list.

takgoti

DAG. I forgot you wanted this, too. I’ll send you an envelope!

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94
drank Dawn by The Simple Leaf
260 tasting notes

Lovely, lovely Carolyn sent me some of this to try and I can see right off the bat why she likes it. It is a really delicious tea. The aroma is heavy and rich. The flavor profile evokes things that would make most dessert lovers drool – cocoa, caramel, honey.

It is smooth, and the flavors blend seamlessly. It is a tea that benefitted for me from sticking to the tip of the tongue and the back of the mouth, where the sweeter flavors came out to play. Sucking in air over it intensified the sweetness, but inhaling through my nose with a closed mouth evoked a kind of honeyed perfume taste that was extremely pleasant.

Dawn is a decadent tea, and yet it doesn’t leave you with a weighty feeling. Some teas are so luxurious that I feel like I should be in a food coma afterwards [tea coma?]. This certainly has that heavy, silky feeling in the mouth that I love, but something about the finish doesn’t feel heavy. The aftertaste is nice and light.

When I first saw the name of this tea, I didn’t really “get” it. I mean, it was a pretty name and all, but it seemed abstract to me. Now, I completely get it. From the dark leaves to the light amber liquid, to the heavy flavors lifting into airy sweetness. I don’t think I’ve ever had a tea that was a metaphor before [though the fact that I can find one in this may partially be because I have a tendency to overanalyze things]. However, it makes complete sense to me, as someone who has already seen more than a few sunrises in her quarter of a century already.

It reminds me distinctly of one of my last days before winter break at UVA, when a bunch of us trekked up a big hill to the nearby-ish observatory around midnight. We had no real agenda other than spending some time with each other before the semester ended and we all went to our respective corners of the country. Boys tackling one another and girls huddling in the chill. Climbing trees and drinking beer out of a pony-necked bottle. Telling stories and laughing, and waiting for the sun to rise together. We grew quieter as morning approached and eventually settled down in a section where the trees cleared enough to see part of the campus. All you could here was us breathing, and our breath streaked the air around us. The darkness began to lighten as the sun started to warm the horizon as the blushing, yellowed, amber tones bled across the sky. The almost heavy feeling in the atmosphere that seemed to settle in as the typical waking hour approached started to lift, and within a span of time that seemed to pass far too quickly we’d witnessed a natural phenomenon. It’s an act that’s occurred more times than I can count, practiced and perfected over the eons, but I hope that it never gets old.

For a tea to mimic such a simple, beautiful thing that is strongly tied into the memories of so many people is pretty powerful, and I can see why this would be a true delight to wake up with. So I must say thank you to Carolyn, and make sure that I order some more of this. And soon.

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

I’m so glad you liked it! It was a revelation to me, but clearly not such a revelation as it vouchsafed to you. I love your connection of it to dawn. I hadn’t seen that and had wondered grumpily what I was missing in my understanding of the name. But now that you describe it, yes, that is precisely the metaphorical taste of the tea. I’d kept looking at the leaves saying, “These look nothing like dawn. They’re dark brown.” So thank you for the enlightenment.

silvermage2000

What a nice review. This sounds good I would put this on my to buy list.

takgoti

@Carolyn I usually suck when it comes to symbolism-type stuff, but this made sense to me in a funny way. I’m glad my idiot-savant moment benefited you! Thanks again!

@silvermage2000 It’s very good.

Auggy

Guh. And now we have yet another company I need to order from. This sounds…. awesome.

teaplz

What a beautiful review, takgoti. I love shiver-inducing moments that happen like that. When everything in the universe just seems to be perfect. I love nights like the one you’ve described. When you just feel… ALIVE. I’m happy that this tea helped you feel that way! Yay to Carolyn for finding it!

S

Beautiful. I tend to stay away from dessert teas but this sounds lovely. Plus, dawn is my favorite time of day.

takgoti

@Auggy Haha! This one’s worth it, in my opinion. I’m poking around to see what else I might try.

@teaplz Aw, thank you! Yes, that’s exactly how it feels. I’m sure that part of it is my over-romanticized side kicking in, but I don’t mind a little extra hazy halo around my fonder memories.

@Shanti It isn’t overwhelming sweet, which is very nice. It’s well-balanced. Mellow. I wouldn’t be trepidatious about offering it to any of my friends or family, which is saying a lot.

Carolyn

@takgoti You might enjoy their Honeybee Oolong or their Maharani. When I tasted the Honeybee I thought of you immediately. I can send you a bit if you’d like.

takgoti

@Carolyn I hope that you know that I am not saying these things in the hopes that you or someone else will send free tea in my direction. If it’s really okay, then of course I would love to try some! And also, as soon as your husband stops glaring at your tea collection you let me know what I can send to repay the favor.

Carolyn

@takgoti No I didn’t think you were fishing for tea. I actually thought of sending you the Honeybee a few weeks ago but then decided that you might feel stalked if you kept receiving packets of tea in the mail from me that you hadn’t requested.

My wonderful husband has decided that the solution to the tea invasion is to get a step tansu to store the tea in and to place the teapots along the steps of the tansu. http://www.chinafurnitureonline.com/admin/images/enlarged_images/BJTS02RS_e.jpg

This is planned in our budget for March. So I just have to get to March and be very, very good and then all will be well in his world.

takgoti

@Carolyn Shut the front door! That is too cool!

Ricky

Teas that bring back memories are the best. Yes, I liked the post, but where’s the love it button?

LENA

yep, just added this to my shopping list. this tea sounds wonderful!

@ Carolyn – that step tansu is too cute! what a great idea!

S

Woot, just placed an order and included Dawn, thanks to your review. Also, THERE IS A TEA WITH MY NAME. Shanti tea. Shantea? I am excited.

takgoti

@Ricky Aw, thanks.

@LENA It’s very nice indeed! I like it a lot. So smooth.

@Shanti Oh, nice! If you don’t like it, blame Carolyn. [Absolutely kidding.] And what? Trotting over to look. Oh, wow! AND ranked 7th! That’s pretty impressive. It sounds good, too, looking forward to the review!

takgoti

Aw, thanks. It is one of very few fond memories I have of the year I spent at UVA. Needless to say, I hang onto it pretty tightly.

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47
drank Yunnan Gold by Teaism
260 tasting notes

I don’t know if my expectations towards Yunnans have been making many of these unenjoyable for me, but…I’m getting ahead of myself here. [Though you can probably guess where this is going.]

I braved the cold earlier today with a couple of friends [I mean, serious cold, like wind whipping you, don’t even want to know what the temperature was with wind chill, lung stabbing cold] to check Teaism’s Dupont Circle location out. They brew it for you behind the counter, so I can’t list any parameters, but we made our way upstairs with three teapots full of tea and sat down to catch up.

Teaism is a neat space. It’s got kind of a rustic feeling to it, and they have a ton of teaware on display, which was cool. It’s a little cramped, which is pretty much par for the course for a lot of DC spaces, but when you’re coming in from the holy crap cold it reads as cozy. My friends got their Jasmine Pearl and their Silver Needle, which I won’t log because I only tried a few sips of each [relatively unimpressive]. I drank nearly the entire teapot of this, though, so I feel that I can speak to it somewhat solidly.

Reading the website’s rather short description of this, it sounds about right. It brewed into a bright amber finish. It had a sweet finish to it. And…really, that was about it.

There wasn’t a lot of depth to this tea. It was dark. It tasted a little malty. It was smooth. The sweetness was a dark kind of sweetness. Kind of like brown sugar, or maybe like yams. And that was really about it. Oh, it began to dry my mouth out a bit towards the end of the pot. That’s really it.

Considering that it was $3.85 for the pot, it made me kind of angry. I’m not usually one to notice that kind of stuff, but having a small kind of concept of how much margin they’re making off of something they’re calling high grade made me feel a bit blah. [Luckily, this was quickly righted when we went somewhere else and stuffed ourselves with Thai food.] It’s not that it was bad. I’m making it sound awful, I know. It was pleasant enough. It just wasn’t…eh. My lack of ability to be able to finish this log off shall have to be indicative of how I feel about this tea. Eh.

Angrboda

Oh poot. Seems to be the morning for kinda disappointing stuff. :( I think you’ve deserved something nice now.

Micah

That’s so wrong! And strange! Even the not so good Yunnan’s I’ve drank have at least had some depth and body of flavor.

teaplz

MEH. Sorry it wasn’t up to standard. That’s fairly cheap for a pot, though… at least around here. From what I can tell, it’s $7-$10 in NYC. For the smallest size! Ick.

takgoti

@Angrboda Oh, I intend greatly for today to be a good tea day. Already started it off with some Ryokucha, so things are looking up already.

@Micah I know! I’m lucky that I was with my friends, otherwise I probably would have been pissed. Good conversation can dull crappy experiences. It might have improved if they had let it sit a bit longer, but I don’t know how long they let it sit to begin with, so…eh.

@teaplz Hah, that’s about what it is at Samovar, too, but the ones I had there they gave me the leaf and my own hot water, and I was able to resteep it as many times as I wanted. Here, they steep it in the pot, remove the leaf, and once you’re out you’re out. Eh. I think that the price became a point of contention to me because I wasn’t happy with the tea.

Lainie Petersen

Sorry to hear about this. I’ve been to Teaism and really liked it. I tried their Golden Monkey, which I think is great. I’ll just be careful not to try the Yunnan Gold!

takgoti

I’ll have to try that one next time I’m there. Or maybe I should just get some loose and do it on my own. I have slight control issues.

Hyrulehippie

Boo that’s obnoxious.

Now that I think about it, I’ve been to teaism (my family lives in Silver Spring, MD, so it’s close) but I can’t think of what I had. I think I need to head back over there soon, but it’s always SO CROWDED.

The control issues are understandable. I just realized the other day just how weak I drink black tea. If I use the recommendations for time, leaves, or temperature it’s almost always too bitter for me. Needing to control something is natural, there’s no need to rush to get a psychoanalysis or anything. ^__~

takgoti

Seriously. I’m actually surprised we were able to get a seat [let alone three], because I’ve seen it at times where there have been lines out the door. I can only guess that it was SOOOO cold out that most people were smart and stayed indoors. And as for the control issues…yes, no need to psychoanalyze. I already know I have issues. Hah!

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10
drank Organic Masala Chai by David Rio
260 tasting notes

Blerg. Disappointing on so many levels, not the least of which that Williams Sonoma rarely lets me down.

First of all, let me say that this is essentially a powder. I opened the tin, expecting…you know, spices. This is a not that. It looks like sand. It looks granulated.

The smell of…whatever it is, kind of smells like chai. It definitely has that spiced quality to it. But overwhelmingly, and it took me a second to recognize this because I was NOT expecting it, it smells like rubber cement. I kid you not. It has that distinct, alcohol-like quality to it, and it does that sharp, not quite stinging thing to my nostrils that rubber cement does.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t just stop here, but the guy in Williams Sonoma had spoken very well about it. I’m guessing that they’d had samples before in the store and he’d tried it. I know you’re thinking “retail spiel” etc., but I used to work retail and I can usually recognize when someone’s trying to sell you something just to make a sale. Plus, I don’t think that the people in Williams Sonoma are commissioned, but I could be wrong on that. Anyhow, I figured why not, since Angrboda had had some of David Rio’s stuff [from a completely different part of the collection] with some success.

So I, somewhat dubiously, measured some out and shook it into some milk that was heating in a saucepan. I didn’t bother adding any sugar, since it looked like it already had some in it.

Once the mixture had heated adequately [though some of the powder never quite dissolved, which was somewhat disconcerting], I poured it into a cup.

Ehm…

Okay. This kind of makes me think of what it would taste like if Swiss Miss did chai, except you don’t get any mini marshmallows. It’s synthetic tasting. And at the risk of sounding gross, the overall taste makes me think of that taste you get in your mouth before you brush your teeth in the morning. That, plus maybe some spices, plus sugar. If you dumped a teaspoon of sugar into your mouth first thing in the morning, you could probably replicate this pretty closely.

I’m already trying to strategize trying to return this to Williams Sonoma. It would be ridiculously pretentious, so I won’t do it, but a big part of me wants to bring in some of Samovar’s Masala Chai and make it for them, then say, “This? This is chai. This is spiced rubber cement. Can I return this please?” Likely I’ll just go in and ask nicely and hope they allow me to exchange it for something else. Though if I see the guy that recommended it to me, I’ll probably give him a few polite words on what I thought about it. Plus, he was kinda cute, so…you know. That doesn’t hurt either.

If that doesn’t explain why this rating is going to be abysmal, I don’t know what else will.

Angrboda

Eh, I’m not chai-experienced anyway. Except for two (one of which was years ago and vast disaster) this powdery stuff is my whole experience. Maybe it’s like… training wheels and you’re too experienced for it?
The ones I’ve had was those with animals in the names, and they’re very sweet, but I think maybe I prefer that.

takgoti

It could very well be. I actually think that added flavor could help the taste quite a bit. It’s kind of like how I feel about Starbucks, I guess. The coffee they use really isn’t that great, but does that mean that I wouldn’t drink an Espresso Truffle at the height of my coffee phase [or even now]? No. Same thing with hot chocolate. I love my ACKC chocolate shavings “fancy” chocolate that involves whisking and whatnot. But I’ll still drink Swiss Miss.

This particular one, however, just wasn’t…I don’t know. I think the weird smell did a lot towards turning me off, but something about it was very…bizarre.

Angrboda

Yeah, mediocre stuff can be surprisingly awesomely good, but it doesn’t work if one wasn’t expecting mediocrity.

Ricky

Doooo it (go and have a taste test with the guy). Let us know how it goes.

teaplz

I think they do get commission in Williams-Sonoma. At least, the sales people are always prowling the floor where I go… that could be why? Yeah, nobody needs instant chai mix unless you’re on the go. Ew.

takgoti

@Angrboda Seriously. It’s the same thing with me and movies. And actually…pretty much everything.

@Ricky Hah, it’s going to have to wait until the malls stop being crazy. I’m not bringing in my own tea to WS, though. That’s just…ugh, I’d have to hate myself afterwards and that’s not pleasant.

@teaplz Heh, as a former retail monkey I could go into this in much more depth, but there are several reasons for prowling [a cranky manager, for example] and my experience tells me they’re not on commission. It could be that things differ in certain stores, but I’m thinking they’ve got personal trackers but aren’t commissioned. They don’t ask you who helped you at the register and I’m often rung out by people who didn’t help me on the floor. [Usually commissioned sales people are tracked through the registers in some way or another. And they’re usually MUCH more aggressive.] But retail mini-rant aside, yeah. I think that the fact that they call it “Organic Masala Chai” made me laugh even more. There was hardly anything in the entire experience that read to me as organic. Sigh.

Carolyn

I’m pretty sure Williams-Sonoma sales people are not commissioned. I think I asked once and was told that they weren’t. However, it is worth realizing that they’re not hired for their knowledge of tea. My experience with Williams-Sonoma people is that they have a lot of knowledge of cakes and pastries, some knowledge of other food items and then their knowledge falls off a cliff. I’ve often spent a good deal of time on slow days explaining how to substitute vegan items for eggs and dairy and they knew very little on the topic. When I’ve asked about the food items they sell, they frequently don’t know that much about most of them. They know their pots, pans, and knives extremely well, though.

takgoti

@Carolyn Ah, mystery solved-ish! But yes, you’re totally right on the tea front, so it’s probably a shame on me situation for buying it on recommendation, but now it’s something I know more about. Funny, I’m usually in there to either get stuff for pastry or baking. Or a pot. Or a pan. Or a knife. [Guns for show, knives for a pro.] Maybe this is why I like them so much.

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75

It’s been a while since I both logged and drank this tea, so now seems like a good time.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve had this since I logged the last [and first] time, but that’s part of the reason why I’m probably not going to reorder it. It’s not a remarkable tea. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, and I’m not going to change the rating on it, because it’s reading at a 75 still, but I think that part of the problem is that some of its notes remind me of Ancient Emerald Lily to me, and when a tea reminds me of a tea that is, in my mind, superior, well…I think you can figure the rest out.

So here’s the thing about Green Needles. For me, it starts out a little bitter. It’s almost sour, even. Eventually in the aftertaste, and even more so as it cools, it becomes sweeter. A nice, edging on juicy, grassy sweetness [this is what reminds me of Ancient Emerald Lily]. And then over time the bitter, sour part of the tea disappears. I should probably just wait until the tea cools enough for that to be gone, but I’m not patient enough.

The problem that I noticed, even when this becomes sweet, is that this has an almost scratchy texture to it. I’m not sure quite how to explain it. Kind of like that feeling your lungs get when it’s really [and I mean really cold outside. Or if you breathe in heavy fumes. It reminds me of this one time when I was at swim practice during the winter [we swam indoors] and there was a chemical spill. All of a sudden, we all got this kind of scratchy feeling in our throats and we all started coughing. Then we had to evacuate the building. [We got dressed first, of course. That would have been inhumane.] It was really cold outside. Our hair froze. It was grand. And actually, now that I type this, laughing gas. That funny feeling you get in your throat when you inhale laughing gas.

Anyway, I don’t know what causes that feeling. And I didn’t write about it last time, so I don’t know if I got it before. I’m guessing not. Maybe I won’t get it next time. I think I just need to drink this more often, even if it’s mainly because it means it’ll free up a little space on my tea shelf.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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Former coffeeist, turned teaite. Lover of writing, reading, photography, and music. Traveler of life. Known to be ridiculous on occasion.

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