403 Tasting Notes

drank Wild Berry Black by Rishi Tea
403 tasting notes

Woke up with a little sore throat, so I wanted a plain tea with honey. However, it’s way too early in the day for herbals – I need my morning black! I remembered this one being a bit tart, so it worked out just perfectly with honey.

Strong and yummy black tea base, with lots of true berry flavor. The hibiscus is understated, which I appreciate. It tastes like the tartness is coming from the blueberry and raspberry.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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drank Caramel Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
403 tasting notes

Yay caramel matcha! I’ve heard so many good things about this flavor, I figured it was the perfect one to use for some comparison testing, so I got three combinations. This review is for the Classic green matcha with delicate flavoring, and it’s already really good, so I can’t wait to see what the others are like.
I prepared this hot, classic style, which is not usually my favorite so it bodes well when I like a matcha made this way – and I do! This is rich, and strong, and the flavor is very true. It probably helps that caramel is a flavor that works well when warm, and that I’m used to a bit of bitterness from the green tea base when prepared hot (I don’t have that issue when it’s cold generally, and yes, I am careful about my water temp). This is like what really dark caramels seasoned with matcha powder might taste like

Ohhhh and this is even more delicious with a bit of milk. Just a little! But it smooths out that bitterness, and brings out the green tea flavor a bit, which I appreciate! There’s a reason I don’t get the super strong flavoring. I am curious to see how the distinctive flavoring will compare with this, so that one’s probably up next!

You can buy this for yourself at http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/caramel-matcha.html

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Tiramisu Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
403 tasting notes

Mmmm tiramisu matcha. I suppose I should branch out into the fruit or plain matchas eventually, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with the desserts so far. Opening the package today, this smelled creamy, chocolatey, and there was a little fruity sharpness to it also.

I prepared this the traditional way at first: 1 gram of matcha to about 4oz water – at this level I have enough matcha to get a decent froth and enough water that it doesn’t taste too thick and powdery for me to drink. I’ve given up on my chashaku, by the way, and just use a 1/2 tsp now because that is very close to 1 gram. The chashaku, once I measured, was giving me anywhere from .55 to 1.2 grams, depending on the angle I held it at and how the matcha piled.

Anyway, it tasted good just like that! I could have drunk the whole bowl straight, but I couldn’t resist adding a little milk – still good, but different! Much creamier, and the flavor got muted a bit. With just water, I could taste the flavors better – there’s so many that they’re hard to pull out, but the overall impression definitely aligns with tiramisu: cream, chocolate, sharpness that could come from coffee or cheese, fruitiness that I’ll attribute to rum :) I suspect this will be even better cold!

The was the starter grade of green matcha with delicate flavoring, and you can buy it at: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/tiramisu-matcha.html

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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Yum yum yum – this is all sweet and fruity and delicate and full-flavored at the same time. Like a good flavored white tea! I might have to try the Yabao on its own, because I’m having a hard time tasting the difference between it and a good white tea. The dry leaf is gorgeous, very fluffy with all the flowers and fruits and big buds.

Has anyone else had the Raspberry Champagne White tea? I know Red Leaf sells it, and a few other companies – this is like what all of those are trying to be :D That’s really the best description I can think of at the moment. I’m really glad I ordered this, and sorry it’s already gone… oh well. Out with the old, in with the new!

8oz water, 2 tsp tea, 3 steeps so far

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I do love all the natural flavorings in Nature’s Tea Leaf’s teas. Not “natural flavors” but: my cinnamon oolong has big chunks of cinnamon bark in with the oolong tea – and that’s all. Using dried herbs, fruits, and flowers makes the flavors more real, but also often makes them blend better in my experience.

This is a green oolong, which I generally find buttery and floral, but a pretty light one. There’s a lot of cinnamon in the aroma, but the taste is well-balanced and, yes, buttery. therefore it reminds me of cinnamon rolls :D It’s not like eating a cinnamon roll – not sweet enough, also liquid – but it’s intensely reminiscent of one.

there’s a little bit of astringency or dryness when drinking – not enough to be unpleasant, rather it gives the tea some heft and character. There’s a lovely lingering aftertaste that has some of those floral notes I was expecting, and that were subdued in the scent and drinking taste.

ETA: On a second steep the cinnamon is less pronounced, but still present and adding a pleasant sweet/spicy richness to the oolong.

Very enjoyable! Unique and highly recommended

2tsp leaf to 8oz water, as recommended

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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Sweet and sour is right! I was expecting this to be very tart – I drank straight hibiscus tea for quite awhile until I burned out on it, so recognized the smell right away. The color is quite pink for green tea, but also a bit orangey – I’d say a rich salmon hue overall :)

Upon sipping, at first the flavor is just like the smell: sour and fruit. But then I got a lot of sencha on the middle- and after-taste, which surprised me (pleasantly!) The sencha gives a really solid base to the tea, adding some savoriness to balance the sour. I often add honey to fruit teas, but something about the sencha flavor made me want to drink this straight – it just blended so interestingly with the fruit, I didn’t want to overwhelm that with sweetness and lose the complexity.

There is still a lot of hibiscus and rosehip flavor overall (the orange is less prominent to me), but this is a pretty good blend considering the tendency of hibiscus to dominate anything it touches.

I expect this will last more than one steep, and I’m curious how the balance will shift. It would probably also be very good cold!

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Oh this is neat: a floral and approachable pu’erh blend. The lavender is distinctive (prominent and unusual) and blends with the pu’erh in very interesting ways – reminds me of cinnamon, somehow, with the combination of earthiness and menthol. The flavors meld quite well overall, which I didn’t expect from rose, jasmine, lavender and pu’erh. The jasmine is probably the hardest for me to pick out. I was dubious about the steeping instructions too, but it came out just right. I’m quite curious to see if this will resteep well, as that’s one of the things I like about pu-erh

A second steep (higher temp, longer time since I forgot about it..) is mostly pu’erh, with only a hint of flowers to soften it. Still quite tasty! but the first steep is the one I’d hand to someone dubious about pu’erh :)

This is the second of my free samples from Nature’s Tea Leaf, and my favorite so far! I also really like the steeping instructions on their packaging, customized for each tea and right on the front label.

2 generous tsp leaf to 8oz water

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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This is so delicious – I made it quick before going into a meeting today, and anytime I start to space out I can just inhale and it’s: dark chocolate. rose. citrus. Are there melted truffles in my cup??? There is a solid black tea flavor too, the laoshan black is just so chocolatey when hot – that’s always what I notice.

The flavor is losing a little intensity as it cools to lukewarm, but I remember this was good chilled so I’m putting the rest in the fridge for later!

I’m very glad I ordered more of this!

2 rounded tsp, three 6 oz steeps all poured off into one big mug

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Cold-brewed overnight, 4 tsp tea (came out to 10g) for 20oz water.

Color: light yellow/olive, slightly opaque. Scent: not much, because it’s cold, but gingery! Maybe a little lemon too. Taste: Wow that’s spicy. Herb-spice, not pepper-spice. I decided to add some honey to this because I was finding the rosemary and ginger pretty overwhelming; with honey, everything is smoothed out a bit and I can taste more of the lemon. This is very tangy and refreshing; the word “tonic” comes to mind. I haven’t had rosemary in beverages often, so that’s really standing out to me.
The white tea is completely overwhelmed by the spices, at least with the way I brewed it; their website recommends steeping hot then pouring over ice. Maybe I’ll try that next time.

Overall, this is very refreshing and tastes like it’s good for you :) I’d drink it on a hot day, or if I had an upset stomach. This is going on my list of “teas to drink when sick”

Iced 8 min or more

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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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