187 Tasting Notes
Backlogging the epicness of last night with this tea.
Because Four Seasons, lemme tell ya, it’s epic.
I wanted something yummy. Something delicious. Something that has high marks, and that I could get a lot of cups out of. Enter oolong, which is quickly rising to become one of my favorite go-to teas when I want a sustained tea drinking experience.
So Four Seasons. It smells at first pretty non-descript, which I think a lot of oolongs have trouble with. It smells slightly floral, maybe juicy-ish, but mainly vegetal and not very interesting. The leaves are rolled into tiny, irregular pellets.
So I steeped this one up at first with boiling water, at 2 minutes. The smell coming off the cup was amazing. It’s one of those things that you want to breathe in, inhale, surround yourself with, become ONE WITH THAT CUP, cause yeah, it’s delicious. Buttery and full and rich. And the taste was pretty awesome, I have to say. It mainly tasted like flowers with a buttery edge. There were cocoa notes at points, savory end notes, and the hint of some sort of milk protein at the end of every sip. There’s a pretty heavy mouthfeel, which I’m enjoying immensely.
But I have to give it up to the Second Steep (3:00, boiling) which pretty much stole the flavor cake. Man. It smells just as strong, has that rich buttery color, but the taste pretty much throws this one into the OMG WANT MORE AMAZING category. Especially as this one cools. This one tastes lighter, but fuller, if that even makes any sense. The flavors are sugary sweet and overwhelmingly creamy, with milky notes that are in full force. The cooling effect only thickens the mouthfeel and brings the sugared-milk notes into prominence. The floral notes are still there, but they’re not as strong.
Steep Three (3:30, boiling) I probably should have done for longer. This one had a slightly thicker mouthfeel than #2, and was fairly similar to two, but had more of the savory topnotes that were in the first steep. I want to say this one tasted a bit “greener” than the other two.
Steep Four (4:40, boiling) had a much higher savory component, but a lighter flavor overall. There was an almost green bean taste to this one, that crispness you get when they’ve been steamed. But the flavors are pretty much muted, and the smell is a bit disappointing.
Steep Five (6:00, boiling) is where I ended. This one was even more savory than the last, the sugary tastes fading away, and oddly enough, I was getting the taste of fresh baked bread at the end of some of the sips. But this one was definitely not as flavorful as the past ones, so I dumped the leaves.
I really, really want to try this one with less-than-boiling water, as I feel it might be able to sustain those rich milk-buttery notes for a bit longer.
Also, I need to give a shout-out to the leaves because man, are they BEAUTIFUL. This is actually the first time I took leaves out of the pot to inspect and hold. They expand at such an exponential rate and unfurl so beautifully, that your entire pot is just completely stuffed with evergreen goodness. The leaves are all pretty much intact and full, and you can clearly pick out the buds with the leaves still attached. One was so big it took up half my palm (please note: I have tiny hands). But still, really, really awesome. The quality is just written all over this oolong.
So YES, SAMOVAR, YES. You have stolen my heart. Please keep it safe. Because I was in oolong heaven last night!
So this is it.
The last tea to try in the Golden Moon sampler.
Back when I started rating teas on Steepster, and when I started my loose leaf journey, one of the first things I noticed was the Golden Moon sampler. I began to sound the alarm around Steepster, probably annoying the hell out of a bunch of people in the process, but I really was pushing this thing on people. Because you know what? The sampler is a tea education in a box. It’s the perfect way to convert your friends to tea. It can show you everything that tea has to offer. Because Golden Moon is a damn fine company.
And Golden Moon is also a company that does flavored teas really, really well.
So I’m saving their award-winning baby for last, the pinnacle of their tea artisanship.
And you know what? This tea is amazing. This tea is just… man.
Okay, let’s start with the basics though, before I start babbling on about the taste. First off, when you open the packet, all you can smell is rich, delicious coconut. Toasted coconut. The inside of a Mars bar. It’s extremely distinct. You cannot mistake this for anything else other than coconut. I’m serious.
Yay for my first loose leaf pouchong! The leaves look more akin to a green than an oolong, and since pouchong falls somewhere in the gap between green and oolong, it’s understandable. They’re very full and dark and lush. So I steeped it up, and the resulting infusion was a pale lemon chiffon color. Very pretty.
Did I mention how much I love the color that oolongs steep up to? Okay, I’ll mention it now. Oolongs have such an appealing color palette.
Anyway, the infusion pretty much smells just as delicious as the dry leaves. Except now add butter. I’m serious. You can smell the buttery pouchong shining through.
Is there a first thing as love at first sip? Because I think this might be it.
Oh my. The pouchong is the first flavor that hits your tongue, smooth and ridiculously sweet and full of buttered goodness. And then the coconut comes, authentic and delicious and real. It doesn’t overpower the taste of the pouchong, but rests happily next to it, all cuddled up inside of it, until the two tastes merge so well that it creates a newer, better, wonderful taste.
I love it when flavored tea does that. When neither the tea nor the flavoring overwhelms the other, and there’s this wonderful balance that makes you just sigh with happiness when you drink it.
That sigh is this tea.
Much love for Golden Moon, and yay for all of the people that have taken this remarkable tasting journey with me! Let’s convert some more people to the Tea Box to End All Tea Boxes, and have fun drinking tea! Because if tea tastes as good as this, I’m a full-on crazy convert to this wonderful beverage.
Catching up on some Dexter, watching some tea…
It’s a pretty awesome way to start a Sunday morning.
So, I’ve been looking forward to this H&S sample since I ordered it. I’ve only had one other Yunnan (Adagio’s Yunnan Jig), and this one is supposed to be “tippy” which in the tea world signifies “better than average.” Or at least, that’s what it sounds like.
Anyway, when I opened the packet, I was a little surprised at how broken the leaves were. Yunnan Jig’s leaves are long and wiry. These were a bit more chopped up. The smell coming from them was earthy-strong, with a bit of white pepper mixed in. Other than that, the dominant aroma was black tea. Hrm.
So I steeped this sucker up, and I was pretty surprised at how dark the tea is. It’s really dark. Darker than mahogany, but not the purple-black that pu-erh has. The infusion actually has a fairly pu-erh scent to it as well. Rich earth of pu-erh, mixed with a bit of smokiness. Maybe some pipe tobacco? It’s easy to see how the teas of Yunnan are linked to pu-erh (common origin and all that).
At peak hotness, this tea is pretty malty and strong. The dominant flavors are definitely smoke and peppery, mixed with a earthiness that’s pretty interesting. Very brisk, slightly astringent, but not that complex and interesting.
As the tea cools, a sweet element begins to build that’s somewhat like dried maple, but not nearly as strong and assertive as I would have liked. It’s a tantalizing whiff, but it never builds into anything substantial.
This tea is a tease. It should be so much better, but it’s really not. It’s just fairly average. Rishi’s Golden Yunnan (of the sample I’ve tried) is loads better, with caramelized, sweet potato notes, and it’s around the same price. I like Adagio’s Yunnan Jig a lot better as well.
So yeah, a fairly serviceable tea, but it’s not going to have sparks shooting out of your eyes or anything like that.
SAMOVAR, have my babies.
This tea was a total shock. Seriously. Total shock. I can’t believe how much I’m loving this. Really, really loving this. Obsessed with the amazingness.
I’m officially a Japanese green convert. I heart Japanese greens.
I could drink this tea all day. Seriously.
I just… oh man. This tea. Awesome. Incarnate.
Okay, okay, I need to calm down, that way I can write a coherent review. Phew.
I’m just so excited because I really thought this is going to be a throwaway. I mean, I’ve had yuzu before. One of the restaurants I went to a while ago had yuzu salt for their steamed edamame. I’ve had yuzu sorbet at another Japanese restaurant. Yuzu is a pretty bright and clean-tasting citrus fruit, and it’s pretty tasty. Sure, I’ve never had it as a stand-alone thing, but I’m pretty sure of the flavor.
Anyway, this tea is quite gorgeous. The sencha here varies from a very light green to darker green, it’s a bit powdery at parts, and it’s mixed in with a whole load of tried yuzu pieces. The smell of it is mainly that grassy sencha, mixed with a slight citrus note.
I actually put a teaspoon of this into my warmed pot, and the smell coming off it was awesome. Almost completely sencha, but really buttery and warm. Mmmmm.
So anyway, I steeped this up quickly, and I loved the clear, light-neon-green liquid that emerged. The smell I’m getting off of it is rich and creamy and grass and so very Japanese green. And the taste… man. Let’s rhapsodize on the taste, because this was an experience.
The main flavor here is definitely the sencha. It’s light, but full-bodied at the same time, and bursting with flavor. It’s very grassy, but so smooth and peppered with notes of butter and creamy goodness that it’s pretty awesome. The yuzu is a bright afternote of citrus that’s very clean and refreshing and invigorating. It’s clearly distinctly yuzu, as well. Not any other citrus.
The yuzu-citrus-sweet-tart builds as you take multiple sips in a row, mixed with a green sweetness that tastes like you just ate the most wonderful field filled with dew-dropped delicious edible grass.
It’s seriously delicious.
The second steep (:20 secs, 160 degrees) was just as good, if not better than the first. I’m serious. Because now the yuzu and the sencha have sort of swapped places on the flavor totem pole, and the yuzu is more strongly highlighted. It’s almost lime-y sweet, not bracing or biting, but calm and smooth. The sencha notes are sublime here as well. It doesn’t taste tired or weak.
It just tastes like pure awesome.
takgoti, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways. You’ve introduced me to one of the best tea companies ever, Samovar. You’ve sent me amazing samples of tea, such as this yuzu sencha, which wasn’t even on my radar because it sounds so… MUNDANE. But it’s totally not. It’s a flavor festival of epic proportions. It’s grass shot through with sunshine and golden happiness.
I am on such a tea high right now. I am so giddy right now over this stuff. LOVE. LOVE LOVE LOVE.
Hrm, this one is a bit confusing.
So if you’ve been keeping up with the Golden Moon sampler count on this end, we’re up to the second to last sample here. I happen to adore both honey and pear, so this one is guaranteed to be a knock-out.
Or is it?
Well, to start with the smell coming from the packet. It’s a big strong, and smells sort of musky. And rather honey-like. But a dark honey… very dark. Fermented, almost? That’d make MEAD. w00t, learn your alcohol. There’s a pear overture as well, but to me, it wasn’t that juicy and strong and succulent. And I heart pear. Hard. It’s one of my favorite fruits! Messy, drippy, ripe pears! MMMMM.
The leaves here are of a fairly standard, flavored black tea size. I don’t really see any bits or pieces of anything else other than leaf, although that could mean I’m blind, since the ingredients list pollen pieces.
So we steep this one up, and the resulting liquid’s color is somewhat akin to the color of buckwheat honey. The smell coming off of it is very similar to the dry leaf; the wet just smells like spent black tea leaves. There’s a bit of sweetness highlighted in the aroma, but it’s nothing that’s going to kick your socks off.
Okay, let’s get to the taste, because the taste is strange. In a pretty good way, but still, it’s kind of weird. The honey is definitely the dominant flavor here, but it’s a pretty floral honey component. Maybe even a little soapy? Or maybe it’s that soapy that comes from some floral-tasting things. Anyway, it’s a pretty interesting dark-sweet taste. Very dark. I’ve tasted buckwheat honey before, which is closer to a woodsy brown than a golden color, and this tastes even darker here.
The pear definitely plays second fiddle to the honey. I mean, it’s clearly there in the aftertaste, but it’s not as strong as I would have hoped. It’s an echo of pear. Like if you ate a pear about a half hour ago and the sweetness is still lingering in your mouth. That sort of thing.
Basically, it boils down to this (hurrhurr boil get it tea joke woah I’m tired right now): the tea is not an every day drinking tea. At all. It’s kind of funky, in a good way. Like a weird ethnic food you’ve never tried before, and you’re compulsively eating it, even if you’re not sure if you really like it or not. This tea is akin to that experience. I had a quizzical expression on my face the entire time while drinking it.
It’s certainly thought-provoking, but I’m not sure in which way.
In any case, this is a tea experience that I’d definitely recommend, because the weird factor is way up there. I think this is also a love it! hate it! kind of deal, where the flavors either appeal to you heavily, or you think this is one of the grossest things you’ve ever drank.
This is the lapsang of fruit teas.
Well, you all moved me to have a sip of Paris this evening.
And you know what this tea is?
Marco Polo’s little brother.
Do you know what I love about this tea? The fact that it’s a flavored tea that almost tastes like an unflavored tea. It tastes like the flavors are inherent in the leaves instead of coming from outside agents.
But anyway, let’s get to the tea itself. Paris smells amazing. If the city smelled this good, I’d probably never leave. I’m getting lots of strawberry notes, mixed with a bit of bright fresh notes, and yeah. It’s less strawberries-and-cream than Marco Polo, but it probably smells equally amazing. I’m serious. MMMM. SMELL IT. LOVE IT.
Anyway, this one steeps up a very pretty burnt amber color, and the smell coming off the cup is surprisingly not that deep. There’s mainly the smell of black tea, and… that’s about it. There’s the faintest of berry tones in the background, but if you gave this to me without me knowing if it was flavored or unflavored, I’d lean heavily towards unflavored.
So let’s move onto the taste, because there’s some damned complex things going on here, and it’s all pretty subtle. In a wonderful way.
There’s definitely a taste of black tea. I don’t know what to peg it as, but it’s probably Ceylon? A nice, high-quality one if it is. The berry taste, even though it smells like strawberry to me, is more evocative of raspberry. It washes over the tongue then bottoms out into a bean-y vanilla flavor that’s almost reminiscent of cocoa beans. And the finish? Something citrus! It’s not exactly bergamot flavored. It’s an echo of bergamot. Like someone sprayed it in the air yesterday, and you’re still catching the tiniest wiff of it in your nostrils the next day.
Overall, it’s a similar flavor profile to the famous Mariage Freres blend, but I’d give Marco the slight edge. Marco’s quite a bit more floral as well.
But I’m most surprised at how well the flavors meld together into the actual flavor of the tea itself. If you know me, you know that I love unflavored teas that evoke flavorings of their own organically. Paris is sort of like that. It tastes like an unflavored tea that’s calling up all these flavors inherently.
The tea’s cooling down now and the bergamot is coming out a bit more to the forefront, a sparkling fresh slight-tartness that complements the slight astringency very well. It’s about evenly matched with the berries at this point. And the berries are definitely more in the aroma as well. There’s a juicy sweetness as well.
Okay, this is totally nom. And I mean totally. Thank you to the always lovely takgoti for giving me a mini-mountain of this to sip and mull over and enjoy in all its wonderful glory. And thank YOU, Steepster, for getting me to drink this delicious concoction tonight!
Little bit late for Christmas, eh?
I dug into this one today after a long day of work, and this one surprised me in multiple ways. The white tea leaves are a bit more pulverized than I usually like them to be. I’ve gotten used to seeing white peony/bai mu dan style teas with big, leafy, stemmy parts. These were more ripped up than average.
I went into this one without really knowing what was in it until after I had made the cup and was sipping it. So hrm. The smell of the tea itself was mainly a white tea smell, meaning a sort of musty green smell, mixed with sweet notes hinting at almond.
And then I steeped the bugger up, and I could swear that this smelled like chocolate. The cup was unusually dark for a white tea. Goldenrod yellow, more like what some of the Chinese greens steep up to. But back to the smell. Like a cocoa powder scent. It was in the taste as well. I was thinking to myself, hrmmmm, this sort of is on the lines of a Florence, except with less cocoa and more of something else.
And then I read the description online. WHAT.
Cardamom? Vanilla? Almond? WHITE CHAMOMILE?
Okay, no. I started to sip this now more curiously. I can sort of taste the vanilla coming in at the tail end. It’s more of a bean-feeling, which might be where the cocoa is coming from, and there’s a sweet, very very slightly tart component that I can somewhat attribute to the chamomile. I’m not getting the taste of almonds at all. And as for cardamom, I’ve never really had it alone. But nothing is jumping out at me that would be the spice that tends to be the hallmark of chai.
The other flavor (beyond the flavoring, hurrhurr) is the white peony. It’s fairly decent, but lacked the depth of flavor that I’ve had in other variations of this particular tea. I’ve always enjoyed that dark-sweet taste that bai mu dan has, but this was sort of like swimming in the kiddie side of the pool. Nice to dip your toes into, but not much else.
I think that describes the tea pretty well overall, actually. Fairly enjoyable, but just not exciting. Better than average, but forgettable. And as I grow and change and learn about tea, as my tastes become more refined and honed, I start demanding excellence. There’s so much tea out there, and so little time. Why waste it drinking just okay stuff. I mean, this is better than okay. This is enjoyable, and nice and relaxing. It’s just not memorable.
Whoo! The goal is to finish off some teaness, and I figured I’d start with tea that I wasn’t too hot on, but was still nice and somewhat non-caffeinated for bedtime. And also, to finish off bits of samples that I have lying around, when I have more tea coming in. The vicious cycle continues…
Anyway, this one today was a lot lighter than I remember it. Maybe it’s because I had not enough leaf this time around? In any case, the licorice is really soft and gasp inviting, even though I don’t particularly care for its brand of flavor. The white tea here adds a nice sweetness and backdrop to the entire thing. It’s almost sort of like a caffeinated lullaby.
I can’t see myself ordering this one again, just because I’m not the biggest fan of licorice. But people who love fennel/anise/licorice root would definitely be able to get on board with this Golden Moon offering. It’s refreshingly sweet and flavorful, while having a very authentic star anise flavor.
Pretty cool indeed.
I’m here listening to This American Life (episode 401: Parent Trap: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/401/parent-trap) and packaging up tea. So why not drink some tea.
Well, I won this tea through Leafbox Tea’s Giveaway, which is pretty awesome! Got this and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, and both of them came in today. So I figured, this one is caffeine free, I’m sleepy-ish, and it’s here… why not?
Anyway, this one smells ridiculously like root beer. Not even kidding. When I opened up the box, I could just smell it coming from the tin! The rooibos here are a lot tinier than I usually see, really finely chopped.
So I steeped up a heaping teaspoon, watched the water turn ruby-red. I should mention at this point that I’m actually not the biggest fan of root beer! I will definitely drink it if offered, but I probably won’t reach for it by myself. It’s a pretty good flavor, but it tastes a lot like bubble gum to me. I’m more of a ginger beer sort of person.
That being said, the infusion smelled exactly like root beer. And I’m happy to report, the taste is pretty awesome as well. It’s not as thick and syrupy as I thought it’d be. It’s actually a lot easier and lighter to drink than real root beer. The rooibos isn’t really a star here; the flavoring is, and that’s perfectly okay, because the flavor is deliriously authentic.
Halfway through my mug, I decided to get a little frisky/creative/adventurous and add a bit of Very Vanilla Silk and a tiny pinch of sugar to the cup. This was actually better than the plain! It was creamier and silkier, with a nice milkiness that complemented the root beer flavors. Definitely something that was very sippable and comforting.
So yay to Pete at Leafbox Tea and TheNecessiTeas for having the giveaway. Still in shock that I won! And shocked that I liked this one as much as I did, because novelty teas are sometimes not my thing. GOOD tasting novelty teas, however… I’m ALL over that.
This is one absolutely delicious white tea.
I bought a tin of this at the Coffee and Tea Festival after having a sample cup of this that was absolutely delicious. The lovely ladies at the Rishi booth suggested steeping this 5 degrees lower than what it says on the tin.
I just got back from a weekend of skiing with friends, and I wanted something warm and nice to soothe the aching muscles and to comfort me. I decided to pop this open and give it a try for some lovely home steeping. One tablespoon of these adorable leaves… So fuzzy and silver with green undertone! I let the leaves steep for a while, watching as they turned light green, and the infusion color barely changed. On the pour, this one is extremely light. Nearly colorness. Pale with a tinge of cream-yellow that is so white tea.
While the smell of the dry leaves was like sweet hay, the infusion smells distinctly buttery and sort of smooth veggie-like, mixed with that hay smell. HAY HAY HAY. Like a white tea usually smells, I guess? It’s all pretty unremarkable, even though it smells very nice…
The taste, though, is pretty rocking. This is the best silver needle I’ve had. By far, so far. It tastes just as good as it did at the Coffee and Tea Festival, except now I’m getting more nuances. It’s very smooth and ridiculously light, with a distinctly floral note. More towards jasmine than rose, but neither. There’s an almost fresh-bread taste as well. Kind of yeasty and full. There’s a slight, sort of sweet steamed edamame flavor. Not like edamame water, but just the type of sweetness that comes from those amazing beans. I’m thinking this is somewhat of a savory component? It’s really good, otherwise. The lingering sweet notes in the aftertaste are akin to a juicy peach, but without any of the flavor of a peach. I don’t even know if that makes any sense, but… you get the point.
It’s incredibly smooth and lacks astringency, which is always welcome.
Loving this little cup of wonderful! Rishi’s on the fast track to becoming one of my favorite tea companies. They’re in line with Samovar and Golden Moon right now. I can see SerendipiTea joining that family once I’ve had more of their stuff. What else is on the to-try list? American Tea Room and The Simple Leaf are the standouts.
Now back at me, because this cup of tea is amazing.