406 Tasting Notes

drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
406 tasting notes

Mmm, this turned out strong and FRUITY this morning. I don’t know which fruit exactly, but it’s the same kind of acidic fruitiness you get from dark chocolate and coffee. Blackberries or plums?

Flavors: Cacao, Fruity, Smooth

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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So a new shop opened near me recently, that carries fancy olive oil and balsamic vinegars, bulk spices, cocktail mixers, and a nice big wall of loose leaf tea form Divinitea! They brought in Linda Smith, the proprietor, to do a tasting a couple of weeks ago. This was one of the teas she was sampling, and I was completely won over.

I’m not a huge fan of coconut in general, but that’s mostly because it’s usually cloying and I hate the texture of the dried, grated stuff. But this… it’s not that it’s subtle, the coconut flavor is very strong. But it’s well-blended, with notes of vanilla, and a strong black tea base to give it some depth and backbone. Smooth enough to drink straight (if not oversteeped) but delicious with a splash of whole milk. I did four short steeps and mixed them together.

Flavors: Coconut, Creamy, Smooth, Vanilla

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 3 OZ / 103 ML

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drank Queen Catherine by Harney & Sons
406 tasting notes

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Boiling 4 min, 15 sec

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The dry leaf does smell like grape! In a good, earthy way, not like a fake flavoring. This is a very fruity black tea, distinct and ejoyable. Quite tasty, but not one I’d feel compelled to buy any more of, mostly because I can’t make up my mind about how to prepare it. Straight? With milk? With sugar? Any works, but none seems quite right.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 3 g

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I actually meant to prepare the Smoked Wuyi Black from this month’s TotMC, but accidentally grabbed this instead. I’ve had this a number of times already and it’s been a hard one to evaluate, because it’s so unlike what I’m used to from yunnan black teas. It’s not really sweet, or chocolatey, or spicy in the usual way. I can’t fathom putting milk or sugar in it.

I always notice the olive oil flavors, and it usually makes me think of Mediterranean food in general: olive oil, grape leaves, preserved lemons, savory spices. It’s very good! But I have to be in the mood for a grown-up tea, and I don’t usually prepare it in my yunnan yixing because it’s so atypical. It’s smooth like honey but not so sweet. Not very bitter, either. Just very distinctive all around.

I probably have more of this than I will ever drink – PM me if it sounds like something you’d love and I’ll get a few samples together to give away.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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I didn’t read the description on this tea before trying it, so I was impressed with myself for being able to tell the style (lightly oxidized rolled oolong) just from smelling the dry leaf after tearing the packet open, before looking :D

Brewed, it smells very much like a Tie Guan yin, floral and creamy and sweet, but the flavor is more buttery, reminiscent of Samovar’s Four Seasons (also a lightly-oxidized Taiwanese oolong, that one is actually cultivated from a Tie Guan Yin varietal). I’m also getting a bit of vegetal green flavor on the front now, on my 3rd steep, though the back-end and aftertaste are still very floral. Think water lilies.

This is lovely, I was going to say it’s a bit weak, but the 3rd steep actually has a lot of character – maybe my 2nd was just a bit short. I’m still planning to do the other sample gong-fu style, for comparison’s sake.

1 sample pack, 8oz water, 3 steeps so far

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Organic Long Jing by Steepster
406 tasting notes

Dry leaf: ooh, that does smell nutty! And looks like what I’ve come to expect from a quality Dragonwell, large green leaves pressed flat and slightly shiny, with the dustiness you get from a Silver Needle or Yunnan Gold (not fannings). Nice color, a little yellower than the sencha from earlier today. Smells sweeter, and lighter.

Flavor: mineral, and a little drying with that. Crisp, and yes nutty. Very nice! Will update with later steeps.

1 sample pack, 8oz water

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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Some notes on ratings:

I’d have separate rating scales for tea types if that were possible (probably Black, Flavored Black, Darjeeling/Dark Oolong, White/Green/Light Oolong, and Herbal) because the flavors and quality markers are just too different. A flavored black rated 100 isn’t better than every oolong I’ve ever drunk, just delicious for a flavored black.

Ratings are a combination of my enjoyment and the perceived quality – I do often demote teas a few points for artificial flavorings, small quantity of steeps supported, or weakness of flavor (requiring extra leaf).

I pay less attention to the number than the order of my ratings; I don’t necessarily keep a stock of everything rated 80+, but if two breakfast blends are rated 82 and 84 I consistently enjoy the 84 more.

And in case it’s not obvious? I am not an expert. I don’t even know what I like until I taste it sometimes, but I’m ok with that :) I like learning to like new teas, as well as enjoying the comfort of familiar ones.


Boston, MA



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