405 Tasting Notes

91

Oh wow, as soon as I poured water over these leaves I got a huge waft of juicy fruit – pineapple! Maybe kiwi? A dash of carmelized sugar, or dark honey. The flavor does not disappoint either. I used the first steep to rinse, and have made 3 more so far.

This doesn’t fit neatly into my categories of dark and light roasted oolongs, but I’m pretty ok with having to expand my classifications :P This doesn’t have the heavy, nutty, dry, roasted flavor Iget from Formosa oolongs, but neither is it buttery and vegetal like a green one. It has the floral notes of a Tie Guan Yin, but then shifts to honey, fruit and incense.

It is getting a little toasty in later steeps (10 now), but still lots of sweet incense and dark fruit now, like cherries or blackberry pie. Aftertaste is very much like pineapple! Sweet, but also has that enzymatic tingle.

I have a bad habit of forgetting my gongfu teas through the day, so to make sure I got all 18(!) steeps out of this one, I alternated making a cup to drink, and immediately making another cup that I poured into a jar to chill and drink iced later! So I actually got to taste the later steeps this time :) and I’m glad I did, because it started getting rather like a pasty, with flavors of grain and butter.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec

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92

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drank Chocolate Chai by Rishi Tea
405 tasting notes

I got this with a chai sampler awhile back, and it’s been sitting in my cupboard because I liked the vanilla mint one much better. This one I recall being very spicy, yet a bit weak in flavor overall. But now, after the great pu’erh blends I’ve been having from Verdant lately, I thought it might be quite good with a little beefing up. I added about half a teaspoon of Maiden’s Ecstasy – a loose shu pu’er from Samovar – to a couple teaspoons of the chai. MUCH better! Now this has actual body and heft, but I can still taste all the chocolate/coconut/spice from the chai. This is very warming, now, and good for a cold windy day.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Veronica

That sounds really good!

teabird

I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind playing with their blends _

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84

Smells like honey, and a bit of sweet potato. This really tastes a lot like the sweet potatoes I had at Thanksgiving last week – they were pureed with butter and spices and probably some brown sugar. So good! The tea also has an astringent bite on the very front, that quickly smooths out into a honeyed sweetness.

I’m drinking this one at work, western style, but I feel better and better about the decision to rechisten my one little yixing pot for yunnan black teas, as time goes on. They have such variety, and nuance, and have really become my standby tea over the last couple of years. Of course, I’m almost out of a them at the moment, but that’s just an excuse to buy more :D

2 level tsp leaf, 8 oz water, 4 steeps

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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90

I really love this more than I expected to, as with most of Verdant’s blends. I’ve been drinking it all day – hot and iced since I remembered to stick some in the fridge early on. Spicy and herbaceous, with a fresh sweetness like a garden in spring, this is immensely refreshing.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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90

That’s the last of this :( I really hope Verdant comes out with a new breakfast blend soon. I love the flavor and the philosophy here: “The sensation of drinking the tea should make you want to start the day.” I am decidedly not a morning person, but this tea always makes them easier.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec
TeaBrat

I hate mornings!

Terri HarpLady

I still have several cups worth of this that I’ve been hoarding. I kept thinking there would be an imperial winter blend, but I guess not…sigh…

teabird

Ooh, jealous that you have some left! Maybe we’ll get a spring breakfast blend?

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84

I got a sample of this awhile back and the second half has been waiting around for me to drink and review it. This tastes just like what it is – a tea that is typically turned into a rich, fruity oolong processed instead into a black tea. All of the fruit and floral notes carry over, but now there is chocolate as well, and a hint of smoke. This may not resteep as many times as an oolong, but I would still prepare and drink it similarly – high leaf-to-water ratio, short time, drunk straight.

This is incredibly light and complex for a black tea, definitely one to make you stop. Take a breath. Take a sip. Relax and enjoy, for a few minutes.

I have the Autumn 2011 picking here, with flavors of honey, jasmine, chocolate, and juicy fruit.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec

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90

I made this over a very rushed lunch today and it bowled me over with its character – somehow I got the prep conditions just right to make it juicy, rich, and flavorful. I took a deep breath, and relaxed, and it was perfect.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 8 min or more
Bonnie

Nice…usually that doesn’t happen when rushed. You have a nice weekend!

teabird

I felt very lucky :) Thanks, and you have a good weekend too!

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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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