408 Tasting Notes

I rediscovered this at the back of a cupboard yesterday and was chagrined to see that it’s more than half full – the bunny has been neglected. But when I checked the steeping instructions I remembered why I set this tea aside: it confused me! 7 minutes with almost boiling water for a white tea? That seemed too complicated, so I decided to just try it Dragonwell style – tossing a couple tsp of leaves in the bottom of the mug, fill with hot but not boiling water, top up whenever the water gets low – and that’s working quite well so far. The liquor is a rich dark honey color, more like a light roasted oolong than a white tea. The flavors are also a bit roasty, as well as floral. It’s not getting bitter, but it is a little astringent. Hopefully this will be a nice & easygoing tea to last me through the day.

Ohhh, hello caffeine. Funny how it just hits me with some teas lately.

ETA: This did last quite well – I’d say I’ve refilled the mug about 6 times today, and it still tastes like tea, not just hot water _

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 8 min or more

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Rich bagged tea, almost breakfast all on its own with some milk and honey. I’ve been keeping a box of this at the office for those mornings when I’m too bleary to think about making a nice loose-leaf cup

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91
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
408 tasting notes

Drinking the last of this today – I got a half ounce in the black tea sampler – and sad to see it go. I had a bit over a teaspoon left, so I brewed it somewhere between western and gongfu styles: I put all the leaf in my tiniest post (about 3.5 oz) and let it steep just long enough to develop some good color, around 30 seconds as it turned out. Two steeps like that made a good mug-full, and I’m hoping to get at least another 2 or three steeps out of it.

The flavor is delicious as ever, creamy and chocolatey in a way that you just don’t usually see in a black tea. Yum yum yum, I probably need to buy more of this once it’s in stock again. In the meantime, I still have Laoshan Chai and Bergamot Rose Black to keep me company _

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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91
drank Cheesecake Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
408 tasting notes

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92

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100

I discovered this when I moved to Boston and went to a vegan cafe that sold no coffee because they didn’t want to compete with the independent coffee shop next door; they served Dandy Blend instead. I tried it with almond milk and I was hooked! It’s an instant herbal tea, essentially, that naturally tastes and feels very similar to coffee. It is a little milder – there’s no real bitterness – but prepared hot with milk, the feeling is “yep, that’s a latte.”

I found a store that sells the powder, and have been drinking it at home ever since. Two things to love beyond the fact that it’s delicious: it’s completely caffeine free, and instant. It’s made from the water-soluble parts of several plants (dandelion, chicory, a couple more) so it actually dissolves in water (unlike matcha, which is technically a suspension, and that’s why you have to work so hard to get it to whisk into the water).

One of my favorite ways to prepare this is instant chai: a shake of ground cinnamon and nutmeg, a teaspoon of dandy, and it’s ready to go! Hot or cold. I also like to stir fancy local honeys into it – with a little less powder, the flavor of the dandy blend is mild enough to let the taste the honey shine.

Anyway, it was long past time that I start logging this. I’ve gone through a full 7oz over the last few months and just bought another bag (at $12 for a bag with ~100 servings, it’s pretty economical too). I drink it whenever I’m craving strong tea late in the day, but don’t want the caffeine, and to experiment with crazy flavored drinks.

Highly recommended!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Alphakitty

This sounds really intriguing!

DaisyChubb

Wow I’m also intrigued!

teabird

Maybe I should get some samples to send out :)

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drank Chance Combinations by Custom
408 tasting notes

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90
drank Caramel Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
408 tasting notes

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84

This smells so sweet and buttery, like sweet potato pie, or butterscotch. The flavor is more rugged, showing grain and the peppery side of yunnan rather than chocolate or cream. There is a sweetness though, as I sip longer. The description suggests honey and butter on toast – that seems about right, but it’s a hearty wheat bread, well-toasted and crunchy.

Sometimes when I first sip I’m convinced that I oversteeped this, but then the bitterness never actually materializes, it just rolls into that rumbly dark toast taste.

I’m also going to wager that this is highly caffeinated, from the way it’s going to my head already.

Overall, a good strong black tea to drink straight-up and start the day

ETA: On my 3rd steep now, more mild but still flavorful, getting more sparkly spice and a bit of fruit.

western style, 2 heaping tsp to 8oz water

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

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88

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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.

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Boston, MA

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