406 Tasting Notes

This is the 2012 Spring Harvest.

Tiny, gently curled dark green leaves. The first steep smells lightly green, and sweet. Sugar snap peas is not a bad way of describing it – it’s a fresh garden green, but not the rich heaviness you get in summer. I’m not getting creaminess or milk, exactly, but it does seem to fill my mouth in the rich way of fresh milk. The second steep has a richer flavor and color, and makes my mouth water.

Finishing the first two steeps while eating some leftover homemade pasta alfredo seems almost blasphemous… but they go really well together :D The heavy cream sauce is making all of the light green tea flavors more distinct in comparison.

2.5g leaf (about 1 heaping tsp) in my 3.5oz glass teapot, gongfu style

This lasted well through six infusions, adding a couple seconds for each, and started getting weak around the seventh. I think I’ll steep one more time – longer, a minute or two – then see if the leaves are indeed a tasty snack!

ETA: the last steep was still quite mild, but the leaves were tender and sweet, not the least bit bitter (as I expected). I’m not normally a leaf chewer, but if you are I’d expect these to be a tasty treat!

165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Homemade alfredo…yum!

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
406 tasting notes

I have been so excited about my first Verdant order – it arrived Tuesday but I’ve been entertaining company all week and didn’t have the time to give any of my new teas the attention they deserve. But today, I finally got to pull out the Laoshan Black, and decided to brew it gongfu-ish style this first time in my 3.5oz glass teapot.

I… I don’t have much to add to the descriptions above. I’m on the first 3 steeps and this is delicious, light, creamy, chocolatey (the dry leaf smells intensely of chocolate) – very smooth. I’m curious to see how it will change with further steeping!

It’s a bit on the light/weak side, but I might not have used enough leaf – I used the 1g to 1oz rule for 3.5oz, whereas the instructions recommend 5oz… It’s not bad! But I like my tea a bit stronger :) Fortunately there’s plenty in the sample pack to try it differently next time, and I’ve yet to see how it does with longer steeps.

ETA: I steeped this at least a dozen times. It was getting a bit weak by the end (though still tasty!) so I left the last steep for a few minutes, and that ended up being one of my favorites! It was sweet like fresh grain – I was thinking barley, but apparently semolina is more common – a fittingly bright amber color, and very smooth.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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drank China Breakfast by Rishi Tea
406 tasting notes

Has it really been two years since I logged this? That’s ridiculous, because I drink it nearly every day. My last order from Rishi included a full pound of China Breakfast. I drink it strong (heaping teaspoon to 8oz water) with milk and no sugar.

It’s malty and smoky and chocolatey and rich, and has been my standard morning tea over the last few months. I’m almost through that pound, and tempted to order another, but I’m going to try branching out again for awhile instead. Samples from TeaVivre arriving soon!

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 15 sec

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drank Queen Catherine by Harney & Sons
406 tasting notes

I was tempted by Harney’s most recent promotion to pick up one of their new “Ambessa” teas, along with a couple others that had been on my shopping list for awhile.I’m not assigning a numerical rating yet because I’ve been away from Steepster for quite awhile and will have ot remind myself how Queen C compares to everything else I’ve tried :)

Steeped at work, with a rounded teaspoon in a ~8oz mug, I think I got lucky right off the bat – from others’ descriptions this might be easy to oversteep, but I’m finding it quite drinkable plain (yay!).

Very smooth, I’m not getting a lot of smoke though there is a dryness that reminds me of smoke; the taste is sweet, but the flavor reminds me of more savory things in general – buttered popcorn? Salted caramel? Clearly, more experimentation is required!

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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drank Coconut Oolong by Rishi Tea
406 tasting notes

Om nom nom
I usually go for hearty blacks with milk in the morning, but just didn’t want the milk today. So, what will give me the same heft and sweetness, without any additives? A coconut oolong, obviously! Fortunately I’ve been keeping Rishi’s in the drawer at work. I’m just waiting for one of my coworkers to ask to try it, because the coconut smell is wafting all over the office now.
Since I haven’t mentioned lately, I don’t usually like coconut. I don’t like it in cakes, or cookies, or the flavoring in candy. But this coconut flavor is fresh and sweet, and lets the tea shine through as well for this rich, smooth, floral experience

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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I eyed these when they first came out, but resisted because my tea cupboard was overflowing. Now it’s not, and the Mermaid and her Captain were on sale! I’ve really come to enjoy plain Assams over the last few months, and had been wanting a new one. This is a great example of the type, too. Malty and rich, easy to oversteep, some sweet honey flavors if you get it just right. I like the first steep with milk, to give it some more body, and spread out the flavor a little. A second steep, plain, is mellow with lots of honey notes.

I wish I could get my water hotter, but I’m making this at my desk and don’t have a sink handy for rinsing with hot water :( Oh well, still has plenty of flavor even with sub-boiling water.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec
Jim Marks

Best. Tea. Name. Ever.


It is a great name, but the Captain might have to fight Thomas Sampson for the “Best” title :)

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Remember how I didn’t want to mess with this one? I changed my mind :P I had a cup of it straight this morning, then decided to add some of Rishi’s Pe-erh Vanilla Mint; it’s usually too minty for my taste, so the extra vanilla and black tea flavor worked very well! I’ll be making this blend again, for sure.

With the pu-erh in there, it’s been re-steeping well all day, especially with the occasional extra 1/4 tsp of leaves.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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So, I was in Cardullo’s last night, buying another Kusmi sampler (for a friend!), and thinking of maybe getting a little tin of Paris for myself, when I saw that they had a sale shelf. With Golden Moon on it O_O. With, specifically, several of my favorite GM teas at ~40% off.

I ended up getting this one, White Persion Melon, and Coconut Pouchong. I made myself a batch of the Melon to drink iced today…. then left it in the fridge this morning :( But, at least remembered to bring this tin in.

I like this as a vanilla tea – it’s not a big, strong vanilla flavor, but it’s not weak either. Just light, and smooth, and fruity – best drunk plain, I think, or maybe with a dot of honey. I’ll try it with some milk later to be sure, but it’s so smooth and sweet on its own, I don’t think it would hold up well. There’s just this lovely sweet, aromatic aftertaste that I don’t want to mess with!

205 °F / 96 °C 3 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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