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403 Tasting Notes

80

First steeping is being a bit harsh this time, more smoky than sweet; I’ll try a higher water-to-tea ratio on the next. Milk softens the harshness, but it feels like a shame to add anything to such a normally classy tea. For those who found a caramel taste – do you add anything? Cream/sugar/honey?

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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51
drank Summer Kiss by Red Leaf Tea
403 tasting notes

More tart than sweet, a dollop of honey would likely do some good. Tastes predominantly of hibiscus, but to be fair it is… softer, if not sweeter, than plain hibiscus tea. I was disappointed that the rosebuds didn’t come through more. Still, if you like the floral tartness of hibiscus and rosehips, but want something a little less sour, this may be the tea you’re looking for.

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

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85
drank Fujian Baroque by Adagio Teas
403 tasting notes

My go-to black tea, lately, this is a solid pick. More cocoa and spice on the nose than the palate, but I am drinking it with milk, to be fair. Adagio calls it “velvety” and that’s not wrong. I also haven’t managed to oversteep it, despite my best attempts – soft, with little or no astringency, without being bland. I’ll likely buy more when this 4oz runs out.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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61
drank Huang Jin Bolero by Adagio Teas
403 tasting notes

Aroma, flavor, and after taste are all faint, but enjoyable; Hints of honey and flowers. Color is pale green. There is a slight astringency – it’s possible 3 minutes is too long. The 2nd steep is at least as good as the first.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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89
drank Dancong Aria by Adagio Teas
403 tasting notes

On a second steeping the color is just as vibrant if not more so, and a bit yellower than the first. I think it got sweeter too, though that might just be because my water was a little cooler. The honey/tropical fruit flavors are more pronounced.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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89
drank Dancong Aria by Adagio Teas
403 tasting notes

Several seconds after sipping, there’s an intriguing tropical fruit aftertaste; I’m not too familiar with orchids, but there is certainly a floral aroma. I’m suddenly tempted to try drinking this out of a wine glass to concentrate the aromas! There’s a warm roasted flavor on the front of the tongue, but the overall impression is fruity, probably due to that aftertaste. I like it – but I think I like it more after drinking than while drinking. ETA: As it cooled, the roasted notes gave way to a much peachier taste – not a bad thing.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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75

Quantity matters as much as steeping time: last time I steeped exactly 4 minutes, but went a little overboard with the leaves (I usually like my black tea strong) and it came out harsh; this time I used an even teaspoon on an 8oz cup, and with a bit of milk it’s just perfect. Warm, malty and satisfying.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec

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76

I’m not usually a big herbal or mint tea fan, but this is great for what it is (a remedy tea). The taste is pleasant, mild, and minty. I have a cup whenever I have cramps or general stomach pains, with a bit of honey, and usually find it soothing. Way cheaper than similar blends from Traditional Medicinals.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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54
drank Decaf Vanilla by Adagio Teas
403 tasting notes

I would not call this a “natural” vanilla flavor – more like vanilla icing. Aside from that, it’s tasty enough, and satisfies my evening vanilla tea cravings without the caffeine. Don’t oversteep, it will get bitter.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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68
drank Black Night by Red Leaf Tea
403 tasting notes

Strong and highly caffeinated. If you like brisk Earl Greys, you will probably like this, as it has the same brisk citrus notes and astringency. Oversteeping makes little difference, and it has held up in my cupboard for several months now, so I’d say Red Leaf’s claim of a long shelf-life is accurate enough.

Preparation
Boiling

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Profile

Bio

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.

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Boston, MA

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