186 Tasting Notes

Jon and I attended the Coffee and Tea Festival today in NYC! I wanted to write about it, but didn’t know how to do so. I mean, we tasted such a huge variety of tea, but didn’t have enough to form completely valid opinions about everything. So I figured I’d do a little write-up about what the event was like, who was there, what was worth tasting, etc. I seriously took notes. Because we had SO MUCH FUN.

BEWARE THIS IS LONG RAWR

So we walked into the convention center, took the elevator up to the 11th floor, and the door opened to… tea and coffee everywhere! Seriously. Woah. The whole thing ended up being a lot smaller than we both thought it would be, but it was still full of stuff to taste. Please note, I only had extremely small, half-Dixie-cup-sized proportions of these teas. So that’s why they’re not getting individual ratings. Also, a convention floor isn’t exactly the best place to brew proper tea and drink it either. Just a disclaimer. That being said…

The first company that Jon and I stopped at was Rishi. I’m a fan of theirs, so I wanted to see what they were steeping up. They were serving their Organic Silver Needle, and a Masala Chai made from a concentrate that if I heard correctly, is going to be sold exclusively at Whole Foods. Their Organic Silver Needle is probably the best that I’ve had. The flavors were smooth and sweet and delicate, with a bit of a savory finish. Nothing too vegetal or green-bean-like, like I tasted out of Harney’s SN. Really stupendously smooth and refreshing. Their Chai was actually very delicious as well. It was served with soymilk, and even though the flavors were a bit more hyper-concentrated than I think would have typically been found in chai, the taste was just there. I still prefer the stovetop method, and I like my chai hot (this was cold), but this would be amazing in a jiffy.

Later, Rishi served their Golden Yunnan, which I loved as well. There was an almost caramel, sweet potato taste to it. A bit brisk, but really very delicious. The girls at the both were absolutely great. We ended up talking about the magic of Rishi’s Purple Bamboo and tea in general. I ended up purchasing a tin of the SN. Can’t wait to dig into it with a full review!

The next vendor that we visited was Sara’s Tea Caddie. I seriously wish I would have gone back and bought the tea she was showcasing, because it really was some delicious Japanese greens. She had out a Kukicha and a Genmaicha when we arrived, both poured from adorable kyusu! This was my first ever Kukicha, and even though it was a few sips, it was nicely buttery and grassy. The genmaicha was absolutely delicious. I only took a sip or two, because Jon pretty much devoured the entire thing. It was his absolute favorite of the day. Roasty and cereal-like and grassy and just plain yum!

Tavalon had one of the biggest displays, with four teas set out, and a DJ mixing the beats. Honestly, they were the biggest disappointment to me. Maybe it just wasn’t gelling with me today. They had Serenity, Summer Fruits, Peachy Oolong, and Crimson Punch. Summer Fruits had a a fruit-gummy apricot flavor that I found unappealing. I think it’s hard to nail the peach/apricot flavor in tea. It usually tastes artifical, as this did. Peachy Oolong was a bit better, but didn’t have a lot of the juicy oolong notes that I’ve grown to love. Crimson Punch tasted exactly like a Sweet-Tart, so if you’re into that sort of thing, this will be right up your alley. Nothing was really a stand-out in particular.

A local outfit from Flushing, Queens, Fang Gourmet Tea was serving up a Golden Lily Oolong accented with Osmanthus blossoms. The smell coming off of this one absolutely delicious. Serious buttery oolong notes that accents its creamy yellow color. The taste fell a bit flat, though. Maybe it was understeeped? It could have been the Styrofoam cup that I was drinking this one out of. Blah, Styrofoam.

Hancha Tea only has a Facebook page, but they had a pretty impressive display at the festival. They’re from Korea, and they have a lot of unusual and exotic herbals. I tasted their Bountiful Earth blend, which is their genmaicha. It was good, but not as wonderiffic as Sara’s.

For someone wanting to support a good cause, Shapna is a coffee and tea project, student-run, based on raising money for various charities. I tried their Black tea, which I believe comes out of Bangladesh, and it was… black tea. I couldn’t really get any flavor out of it other than that. Very default. Very drinkable, but very close to Lipton’s. They’re good to support, though, so… yeah.

Harney & Sons had a nice big display as well, and they were giving out tons of free samples. I brought home some pyramid bags, and I sampled their Pomagranate Oolong. It was fairly tasty, but both the fruit notes and the oolong notes didn’t really sync up together. There just wasn’t enough substance to justify me wanting to drink more of this tea. They also had their Hot Cinnamon Spice and Paris blends up for trying, but I didn’t give them a go.

One of the biggest winners of the festival was SerendipiTEA. Talk about putting a good foot forward and showcasing some really fine tea. They had out for tasting their Buccaneer, Red Oz, and Fiji blends. I tried the Fiji first, and mmmm. The scent of the infusion was almost apple-like, but the taste was wonderfully tropical. Notes of pineapple and fruity goodness reminded me of palm trees, set wonderfully against the backdrop of green tea. Buccaneer was actually Jon’s favorite tea of the day (tied with Sara’s Genmaicha). This one tasted amazingly of coconut, and it was probably, hands-down, the best flavored tea of the day. The vanilla came through, accented slightly with chocolate, but the coconut was the real star here. Red Oz was served iced, and it was a delicious palate clenser. The rooibos and lemon myrtle was simple but elegant.

I got to talking to the people at the booth about the company and such, and expressed my love of their vanilla-black blend, Colonille. They were super-nice and wonderful. I picked up their Milk Oolong, which was on sale (as was everything else in the booth!). It was super-hard not to just raid everything there.

As for the non-tea items, I have to say, Red Bee’s honey was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. I had their Wildflower and Creamed and Honeycomb and Blueberry and oooooh. So. Good. I could just spread this honey over everything. Jon had fun nomming on Cabot cheese (the Pepperjack was his favorite) and he purchased some Best Friends Cocoa, which was absolutely delicious (but absolutely dangerous to super lactose-intolerant me!). He got their Marshmallow blend, but they had delish stuff like Raspberry and Cinnamon. Seriously good.

Great Spirits Baking Company had a rum-chocolate cake that was a bit too alcoholic for me, and Mountauk Beverageworks bottled iced tea was surprisingly refreshing with its lemongrass kick. A promo table for an upcoming beerfest had some coffee beers. The coffee stouts were pretty good, and the vanilla java was servicable.

I didn’t really get into the coffee that much (the acidity of it hurts my stomach), but let me tell you, the Turkish coffee was unbelievable. Seriously. I’ve never tasted anything like it. It blows regular coffee out of the water. So thick and interesting and non-bitter and complex. Homygawd.

Overall, the event was amazing amounts of fun. I brought home so many samples to try! I’ll be drinking them in the upcoming weeks. I’m on such a tea high right now! WHEEEEE! I can’t wait till next year!

JacquelineM

That sounds like sooooo much fun!

Erin

…Of course. As soon as I move away from NYC I discover tea and all the cool events that would have been so close to me… sigh

Ricky

Aww, it sounds like so much fun! I’ll probably go next year. Way too swamped lately. Did you meet any other Steepsterites there?

tease

Awwwr, I wish I were there! Sounds like you guys had a blast, tho’! Next year…

sophistre

Man, that get-together sounds SO GOOD.

And I’m totally jealous of your milk oolong. I haven’t had one yet, and it’s on my shopping list…can’t wait to see what you think!

Dan

Wish I could have gone, thanks for all the info.

denisend

Awesome! Sounds like you had a great time!

LENA

oh man,that sounds like a total blast! can’t wait to read your full reviews.

JustDuckyInNE

I’m so jealous that you got to go! It sounds like it was a wonderful time and your write-up was terrific. Thanks for sharing your impressions with us.

teaplz

Thank you, everyone, for the kind comments! It was super amounts of fun. If anything similar ever comes into a city of yours, be sure to go! I had the hugest smile on my face the entire day.

Ricky, I didn’t meet any other Steepsterites, but when talking to Rishi, they recognized Steepster, and were like, “Oh, we’re featured on their Selects a lot!” So that was pretty neat.

SerendipiTea was selling everything for $9. How could I not pick up that milk oolong? I hope it tastes good! If you want, I might be able to send some your way, sophistre. I have enough for around 50 cups, I think. :D

I can’t wait to read when people go to the World Tea Expo in Vegas! SO COOL.

takgoti

This is so epic I can’t stand it.

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84
drank Sinharaja by Golden Moon Tea
186 tasting notes

Regular Ceylon, move over, Sinharaja is here! Not only does it have a far more exotic name, but the taste matches it.

I’m almost at the bottom of my Golden Moon sampler – just this, Honey Pear, Sugar Caramel Oolong, and Coconut Pouchong. I have scraps and bits from some of the other teas in the box, but the tasting is almost over. It makes me almost melancholic, really. This box was truly the beginning of my tea education.

Anyway, Sinharaja looks pretty gorgeous for a black. The leaves are beautifully brown and wiry, and very long and unbroken. The smell coming off of the dry leaf is pretty basic. There’s an almost grape-berry smell, slightly similar to a Darjeeling, but it’s really more of a traditional black tea smell.

So I steeped this one up, and the leaves unfurled quite a bit more than I thought they would. They floated up and down, up and down, sort of like a madcap carousel. I was really anticipating this one…

And it delivers! Now, mind you, I sort of think I’m a bit blown away by this one because it is actually a Ceylon. I don’t know how super-excited I’d be if it wasn’t. But for a Ceylon, this is probably one of the best I’ve tasted. The smell coming off of the burnt amber cup is very just “default black tea.” Which I was a bit worried about, because honestly… it smells like a typical toasty Ceylon. But the taste…

It’s a bit more brisk than I thought it was going to be. There’s a pretty heavy berry-like note, followed by a delicious, honey-related note. This one is just one of those compulsively drinkable cups, where the flavors are just smooth and satisfying. I don’t know if I’d be craving this one continually, but I have fallen into like with it. In that kindergartner way. It’s light and yummy and sweet and scratches my black tea itch. Mmmm.

All of the other reviews are right. This is a really special Ceylon!

EDIT: Listen to sophistre! Seriously. I resteeped this (4:30, boiling), which I would have never done with a black, unless someone seriously recommended it. And this is the best resteep of a black I’ve ever tasted. EVER. It tastes completely different than the first steep, but somewhat related. Like cousins or something.

I was a bit worried when I smelled the wet leaves after the second steep, because they smelled… spent. That dead-black smell you get after a resteep that just screams, LEAVE ME ALONE I’VE DONE MY DUTY. But those leaves? They lied. Seriously, because this second cup is lighter than the first, without any of the brisk qualities, and tastes like sugared raisins. With some berry notes. But sugared raisins. Mmmmm.

So. Good. Thanks, sophistre, for pointing out the wonders of the second steep on this puppy!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Ricky

Ohhh, I have to try this with a second steep sometime. I have a huge tin! Yay me! I love this tea.

Actually wait! I think I did try it with a resteep!

sophistre

Woo, this is a great log! Glad you enjoyed the round-two cup as much as I usually do (I even prefer it, honestly). I’m pretty interested to see what you make of all of the samples that you have left, since (for me) they were some of the more memorable samples in the box. I also bought a tin of this, and while it took me a bit to warm up to it (especially when I have Adagio’s golden spring in mass quantities as an option), I haven’t regretted purchasing it once. ‘Leave me alone I’ve done my duty’ made me laugh…so true though. I find that some turbinado sugar is pretty perfect with this one…the molasses flavor is just right for softening the brisk first steep, where sometimes it can tip toward bitter.

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93
drank Purple Bamboo by Rishi Tea
186 tasting notes

Whoo, I’m breaking in my Finum Basket with one of the two teas that I picked up from Rishi, and let me tell you, this was super-exciting to try! And I’m feeling much better now. Thank you to everyone for the well wishes!

Purple Bamboo is one of the most unusual tasting teas that I have ever tasted. The Finum Basket is ingenious. But let’s talk about the tea first, shall we?

I opened my bag, and I don’t know what I was expecting, but boy, is this oolong gorgeous! All of the leaves are unbroken, partially fluffy, and silver tipped mixed with a purple-ish and brown leaf. Some of the leaves were over an inch long! Seriously beautiful. The smell coming off them was very unusual as well. Like a Darjeeling, with that grape-wine smell, mixed with the smell of fresh-cut lumber. Really interesting. I’ve never smelled an oolong like this!

So I put two tablespoons into my mug, and poured six ounces of water over the very large and wiry leaves. And I let them steep. The leaves themselves didn’t expand too much; they did drink a lot of the water though. I think I might have ended up with five ounces after it was all said and done. But the Finum really is a doll. The lid fits on perfectly, there was not a single speck of tea leaf in my infusion, and the whole thing was really just perfect.

The resulting tea was a gorgeous yellow in color, buttery almost in hue. Similar to the color of a green oolong when steeped, or a very dark white, like a bai mu dan. And the smell coming off the leaves… buttery with a hint of muscatel-likeness. So strange!

And it gets even stranger with the taste, because I don’t think I can describe it. But we shall try, Steepster, we shall try! On my first sip, I very nearly said aloud, WAT.” Because I wasn’t expecting this!

The upfront of the flavor is very definitely nutty. Like a walnut nutty. It’s very pronounced, and it blends into an almost Chinese green tasting veggie-flavor, which then slides into a very Darjeeling-esque taste. On some sips I’m getting really floral notes, similar to a rose. On other sips, there’s hints of buttery goodness. Then at the end there’s a sweet aftertaste, similar to the juicy feeling after eating cherries, or green grapes. Sometimes that note is a bit softer and more flowery in nature.

It’s all so wonderfully strange and bizarre that I probably finished this cup in a good five minutes. There’s just SO much going on here. Really, really intriguing stuff.

This was the perfect cap to a really annoying week, devoid of any tea, and healthy feelings. I’m really so happy that I purchased this one – so awesome! So many different flavors and feelings and sensations that combines into a rich and intriguing cup. I’ll be updating with the second steep information soon, because I’m definitely not done with this bad boy!

EDIT: Okay, so let’s talk about the Second Steep (3:00, 170 degrees) of this baby. I think this is the first time ever, for me, that the second steep has really rivaled the first, and managed to bring something new to the table, while being absolutely delicious and wonderful in its own right. The tea this time around is smells stronger of grape than it does of butter, and the taste… mmmmmmm! The wine-like Darjeeling flavors have trumped the nutty flavors, and mixed wonderfully with the more flowery components to produce an almost soft Darjeeling. There’s still hints of butter and nuts, but they’re much fainter. As if cools, there’s a fruity-tart-sugary-sweetness that’s pleasantly addicting. Yes. Mmmm. More. The tea isn’t weaker in the slightest, and it’s a bit sweet-tarter than the first cup. Yeah, this is serious love going on right here.

I’ve never had a tea that morphed in a good way on the second steep. 90% of the time I’ve been really disappointed with second steeps, and the other times, the first cup has tasted much like the second. This one is perfectly awesome on the second cup. LOVE.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec
takgoti

It makes me very happy indeed that you found a happy to tea to end the week – and also that your finum basket is working out nicely. It does sound a bit bizarre – like a bai mudan, pouchong, and darjeeling orgy of somesort. And yet, it also sounds kinda delicious. Looking forward to the second steep update!

teaplz

Thanks takgoti. I loffs you. Seriously. The second steep has happened, and I have to say, it’s pretty awesome! This tea is almost a sort of cross between Ancient Emerald Lily and a Darjeeling, if that even remotely makes any sense. Mixed with something floral. And slight buttery notes. It’s all very, very strange. But wonderfully delicious. AND ORGY.

sophistre

Yeah…the stuff in here sounds very complex. Actually…I’m sort of curious to see how you think this stacks up with the Royal Garland tea once you try it, as it seems like it maybe has a lot of the same notes…and if this tea is anything like that one, I’m definitely interested in getting my hands on it.

And curse Finum for not making a plastic-free basket! Maybe one of these days I’ll make the concession after all. Truly flake-free tea does sound awfully appealing.

teaplz

Royal Garland seems to fall a bit heavier on the tropical fruit/buttery elements. This one, on the first steep, is bizarrely intensely nutty. But in an awesome, eye-opening way! The second steep is like a bizarre Darjeeling. The entire thing is awesome, though! I can’t wait to try RG, though.

I think I’m able to fall head over heels in love with oolongs. They seem to have a ton of flavor variety while maintaining high complexity.

sophistre

Indeed. They aren’t going to make the cut for me as far as ‘wake me up’ beverages, but mid-day, that’s what I crave…they’re fannnntastic.

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82
drank Ocean of Wisdom by Samovar
186 tasting notes

Warm spice cake in a mug. That’s sort of how Ocean of Wisdom tastes.

So I’ve been pretty sick all day, and sick the entire week, just kind of miserably getting through the week. I’ve been alternating between drinking chamomile and peppermint, trying to get my stomach in order, and my cramps in check. It’s been working, for the most part.

But tonight, after a particularly awful day, I need something a bit more special to wind down with. Let me tell you, this is hitting the spot. I steeped it a bit longer this time, using a whole teaspoon, and the smell coming from my cup is more heavily of cloves than anything else. This is probably because there was a whole clove mixed into my teaspoon. Not a bad thing, but as I’ve said previously, cloves are just not my best friend.

The taste though… it’s still light, but it’s got more of an earthy depth to it. The rooibos tastes like the way it must smell in a forest after it rains. Warm, wet wood. The cinnamon and ginger are highlights here, with the clove playing backup. The licorice rounds things out with a haunting sweetness after every sip.

There’s just something so pleasing and mellow about this cup. I only wish that every herbal blend had the complexity and warmth that Ocean of Wisdom does. A perfect cozy-up-and-snuggle-and-get-ready-for-sleeptime concoction!

And Steepster, I miss you!

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 30 sec
mattscinto Just ordered a sample of this stuff. I’m excited to try !
Laura

Feel better and what a pretty tasting note! :D

Auggy

Awww, poor teaplz! I hope you feel better soon, hon!

Ricky

Feel better! I read cramps and I thought to myself, hmmmm this is your third post about cramps. I’ve been on Steepster for three months now! Ahhhhh! Haha, your cramps tell me how long I’ve been on Steepster =P

takgoti

May your cramps be gone soon. I’m glad the tea helped a bit, and we miss you too!

teaplz

Thanks guys, and I seriously miss my tea.

mattscinto, if you like the ingredient list, I’m sure you’ll like it. It’s a very grown-up sort of tasting tea. Actually, most of Samovar has that grown-up taste.

Ricky, I’m glad you can track your time on Steepster by my cycles, hahaha! :P

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49
drank Chocolate Mint by Harney & Sons
186 tasting notes

Happy President’s Day, American Steepsters! I hope you’re enjoying your day off from work!

Anyway, I booted up Mass Effect this morning and spent about an hour trying to come up with a halfway decent character build, that had some of my features. This turned out to be nearly impossible. Well, at least she’s not super-ugly: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v601/SinderellaxD/IMG_0855.jpg Poor, poor Shepard.

Anyway, after taking forever creating my little space marine-ette, I decided to brew some tea. And why not chocolate mint? I’ve been in the mood for chocolate since yesterday, when I received a big box of Godiva dark chocolate. Mmm. Dark chocolate > milk chocolate in every situation.

Harney, hats off for delicious-smelling tea, because this smells amazing. Like rich, quality chocolate mixed with fresh mint. Something Godiva or Lindt or Ghiradelli would put out. Mmm. I could inhale the perfume coming from my little sample bag all day.

But let’s get on with the review, before I start going off on tangents about the joys of mint chocolate chip ice cream and candies. The leaves here are fairly small, and they blend nicely with the peppermint leaves. I steeped this one up, and the infusion smelled… interesting.

Okay. It smells kind of like black tea, but a weak black tea, without a strong chocolate or mint smell. Both the chocolate and the mint are present only when I inhale really hard. Then they come up in the tail end of the inhale.

And the taste… definitely does not live up to the smell. This is sort of hugely disappointing. The front end of the taste is a fairly weak black tea profile. It’s not really robust or spicy. You can tell it’s meant to play a supporting role to the star players here, which is fine, except the star players have vacated the premise. The flavor that I’m mainly getting is mint in the aftertaste. It’s nice and cool and lingering, but the chocolate? Nowhere to be found.

I mean, there’s a sweetness that’s somewhat chocolate-like in the end note of the flavor, but it’s nothing compared to that magical chocolate/hazelnut combo in Florence.

Only after the cup cooled down significantly to the luke-warm range did chocolate appear. It was a nice chocolate taste, and it mingled rather well with the peppermint, but the black tea was sort of drowning it out. The entire thing overall was just very weak. Weak-tasting.

I’m probably more disappointed than anything because the smell vs. taste here is so different. Ah well! Definitely drinkable, but I can’t see myself ordering any more of this after my sample has run out!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Bethany

I don’t have the day off. Sadness.

sophistre

Oh good! This looks like you’re starting with the first one, too. I hope you enjoy it! I’ve been so busy I haven’t even cracked the second one yet, really…sad, no?

Oh, and the tea review was excellent, too. ;) Gonna have to remember to put Florence on my shopping list!

Ricky

Boooo, I didn’t have a day off work either. So jealous you were able to stay home and sip on some tea and play games.

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59

This one is so bizarre.

So this is the last of my TeaGschwendner teas to taste, and I really haven’t been enjoying any of their offerings. This might be near the top of the pack, however.

I actually really love chocolate with heat and spice. Lindt makes a pretty awesome chocolate and chili bar, and I’m sure other companies do as well. So why not a chocolate and chili tea?

This one is actually very beautiful dry. There’s red pieces of chili, and the seeds, all against pieces of bean and black tea. It pretty much smells like chocolate, but mixed with a bean-like smell. Maybe it’s because the chocolate flavor is mainly coming from the pieces of bean and nib and other random cocoa pieces?

Anyway, after this one is steeped, the color is a very brilliant orange-red color. It’s surprisingly lighter than I thought it would be, and smells almost like a watered down version of H&S’s Florence, without the hazelnut. Which was a pretty good sign!

The taste… is really actually different than I thought it was going to be. There is a black tea taste, but it’s fairly subtle. In fact, all of the flavors are a bit subtle. I wish it was a bit more robust, but… it’s definitely serviceable. The chocolate actually tastes better than I expected it would. I wasn’t thinking that it was going to be a real true milk chocolate-type taste after I had read other people’s tasting notes. But I was surprised that it didn’t taste like that fake, cheap dollar-store chocolate. It’s more of a savory chocolate taste than a sweet one, which I think is a bit fun.

Now, onto the chili. I immediately felt a bit of the tingle on my tongue. I’m hyper-sensitive to this stuff, so… yeah. I’m the one that orders mild. It was a nice tingle, though. It’s less of a chili-specific taste, and more of a heat that builds. I felt it in the back of the throat as well. Luckily, it wasn’t overwhelming!

The tea becomes a bit more tasteless as it cools, which was disappointing. But overall, this one’s fairly good. Definitely not the best chocolate tea ever (for now, that spot is held by Harney’s Florence), but the chili is a nice little twist. I can’t ever see myself ordering this again, as it’s a novelty thing more than a lasting thing, but it’s good for what it is!

Now it’s time to watch the Amazing Race and laugh at the fact that that silly beauty queen idiot is on! Happy Valentine’s Day, Steepster!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Gander

Happy Valentine’s Day to you too! And it’s also the Lunar New Year.
I always wonder what chili + chocolate would taste like… I’m pretty sure I won’t like it though :-(

Cofftea

Must try!:)

teaplz

Gander, it’s less about the taste of the chili and more about the spice and heat you get from it, as far as I can tell. :)

It’s an interesting tea, but it’s more of a “try it for novelty’s sake” instead of a keeper.

Jillian

I love Lindt’s Chili-Chocolate too!

Ricky

Never had much luck with their Chili Chocolate bar =( I think I took a bit and the rest went to waste.

teaplz

Awww boo, Ricky! Well, the Lindt bar with the orange pieces in it is awesome as well!

Ricky

Haha, I usually don’t get the bars as I can never finish it. The truffles are another story =P Which reminds me, I think I still have some somewhere….

Auggy

Had to chime in because my MIL just sent me a Lindt Chili Chocolate bar – I had never had one before. OMG. SO GOOD. Dark chocolate + burn. Mmm.

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87
drank Pu-erh Chai by Golden Moon Tea
186 tasting notes

Mmmmm!

So I figured that since it’s the weekend, I should make a tea that I can’t possibly make on the weekdays with my new schedule. What tea better to make than a chai. Not only a chai, but a pu-erh chai?

So for this one, I used the traditional takgoti recipe for chai (1 tbsp chai, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 cup milk (soy), 1 cup water) and did the traditional simmering thing. First off, let’s talk about the dry leaves, which are gorgeous. There’s large chunks of cinnamon bark here, and my sample had a single, seagreen cardamom pod. The smell was spicy, rich and earthy. Just the way I like it.

One of the most wonderful smells is chai simmering on a stovetop. Seriously. Everyone that walked into my kitchen kept MMMing and AHHHing. It’s pretty cold here in NYC, and the smell was just immediately warming and comforting.

I should note that I used Very Vanilla Silk soymilk in this one. I would have used regular vanilla, but I was out of it. Besides, Very Vanilla is actually creamier, less nutty, and tastes like a melted vanilla milkshake. So I figured it’d pair nicely with the earth accents of the chai. Anyway, this one simmering smelled deliciously of cinnamon and cardamom, with a delicious pu-erh base.

Before I poured the milk in, the water/sugar/tea combo was ridiculously dark. The leaves almost disappeared in the murkiness. It was pretty interesting. Once the milk was added, the chai was significantly darker than your run-of-the-mill black chai. More like chocolate milk instead of caffe au lait.

After letting it sit for 9+ minutes, I strained the concoction and poured. The first though I had with sipping this was, boy, is this rich and sweet. Seriously sweet. I think I might need to lay a bit lower with the sugar next time, since Very Vanilla is pretty sugariffic. But anyway, the sweetness here was delicious. Then the spices came in, with soft accents of cardamom and puffs of cinnamon. The finish was rich and deep and pu-erh, which was welcome and wonderful. I don’t think the pu-erh is overwhelming here as well, but serves as a backbone to the spices instead.

Even my mom liked this one, and she pretty much intensely dislikes the taste of pu-erh. She said that it was “warming and welcoming,” which is entirely true.

I didn’t really get any of the citrus that GM points out in their tasting notes, but sweet, rich, spiced, wonderful goodness is all here. Chai is its own drink. It’s tea, but it goes above and beyond tea to this rich and delicious concoction. I think this method of preparation has to beat the pants off of just adding milk to a regular cup of chai-like tea. You don’t get the combination of delicious flavors, the uniformity of a unique beverage. Mmmmmm.

I also put a little in the fridge to cool. This bit after it was ice-cold tasted more strongly of pu-erh, with the spices taking a backseat. It was enjoyable, but still not as wonderful and amazing as the hot mixture.

Perfect, perfect, perfect to sip on a cold day. And for watching the Winter Olympic Games! The Opening Ceremony was definitely meh at points, but Gretzky on a jeep in the van being chased by rabid Canadians was absolutely hilarious.

Mmmmmm. I be happiness right now.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Jillian

I can’t wait for my Golden Moon sampler to get here!

teaplz

Wheee, it’s so much fun when it actually arrives and all the cute packets are in front of you. The biggest trouble is deciding what to drink!

Raffi

That seems like an interesting mix. I might have to check Golden Moon out some time!

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20

YAY OMG TEA.

It is the weekend and my Finum Brewing Basket came in the mail so there will be TEA at the workplace mmmhmmm. So excited about this development it’s freaky. Tea! Workplace! Yay! Because I’ve seriously missed my tea like a crazy person.

Anyway, I wanted to calm down with some tea from someone other than me. My Rishi order came in, so I’m really excited to try it. However, I really want to be alert and at full tasting capacity to dig into that stuff, so I figured I’d dive into some of this Auggy-sent tea.

I have to say, I’m not a huge fan. The leaves smell very prettily and strongly of almond and vanilla. They’re the normal black size, perhaps a bit more broken, but the little bits of almond in there really spruce up the look of things.

Anyway, the infusion is a very vivid red-orange color, and the smell coming off of it is very, very similar to Almond Cookie! I took this to be an awesomely awesome sign, because Almond Cookie is the bee’s knees. So yeah, very cinnamon-almond-pastry-like. Awesome smell.

The taste however… okay, bizarrely enough, on the first few sips, I didn’t taste anything at all. No tea taste, the tiniest hint of almond. Just… a void. But then the flavor kicked in, and it kicked in hard. The black tea base here is very rough and borderline bitter. There’s a bit of astringency, but the problem is really the bitterness. It just doesn’t pair well with the delicacy of flavors like vanilla and almonds.

I’m not really tasting vanilla all that much, and when I do, it’s more like those fake-tasting vanilla hard candies than actual vanilla bean or vanilla extract. The almond is almost chemical-like. It tastes like someone dumped rubbing alcohol in my tea. It’s got that really rough, almond extract taste that tastes awesome in baked goods, but it absolutely horrible to drink.

There’s a bit of pleasing sweetness at the end, which is probably the saving grace of the entire thing. But it’s really not enough to make up for the rest of it. Overwhelmingly robust and bitter black, accented by very mediocre flavoring.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec
takgoti

Yay for tea at work! Too bad about this tea, though. O wells.

laurenpressley

Yay!! Tea at work makes work so much more fun!!

teaplz

I can’t wait to try the FInum basket! The mesh is so ridiculously fine, that I don’t know how they even did it!

Ricky

I’m tempted to purchase another finum and leave it at work. Seeing as you also have the ingenuiTea which do you prefer to use? I slowly stopped using my ingenuiTea.

teaplz

I actually haven’t used the Finum yet, so I can’t say… does it really not keep odors? That’s a big deal!

takgoti

The plastic they use doesn’t appear to absorb any smells, and it’s the finest strainer I own. I’ve pretty much taken everything else out of rotation.

teaplz

The strainer feels so silky! I still can’t believe that it’s made out of stainless steel. Seems almost unreal. I can’t wait to start trying it, though! Thanks for the information, tak!

Ricky

Yep, I haven’t had an issue with smell from it, but I haven’t made anything really strong. Then again I’ve left rooibos sitting in it overnight and I didn’t smell a thing the next day. I know! I was so shocked by how smooth it was too. I usually hate steel strainers because little tea leaves get stuck in it and then it becomes a pain to clean. It’s definitely less of a hassle than the ingenuiTea.

takgoti

It’s amazing what people can do with stainless steel.
http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/gear/9964/

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27
drank Peppermint Cool by Flavia
186 tasting notes

So I started work today (yay!) and my company has free coffee and tea in the shape of a Flavia machine. I interned at this company, and I used to get the peppermint tea from the machine all the time. So I decided to see what it would taste like and how it would stack up against the other peppermints I’ve had subsequently. I actually drank two cups of this today.

The tea comes in these weird packets that are foil, and they have a little plastic nozzle. You insert the tea packet into the machine, the machine eats the packet, and out streams tea. This peppermint was pretty brown in color, but it smelled fairly minty…

Honestly, I wasn’t really paying attention to drinking this. And herein comes my big fear: my tea drinking is really going to die down to a trickle. It’s going to be hard, keeping up with measurements and steepings times. That’s why I’m hoping that the Finum basket I ordered helps a bit.

Anyway, the taste of this one is very, very minty. But there’s something off about this. Like it’s powdered mint, or something. It doesn’t taste fresh in the least, and I think that’s the problem. It’s almost musty. I mean, it definitely has a nice mint kick, which I enjoy, but this is probably worse than bagged tea.

So yeah, we shall see how tea + work ends up getting along! I’m still adjusting to my new surroundings and nothing feels like home yet. :\

S

Good luck with work!

Auggy

Yay new job! Hope it’s fantastic!!!

Ricky

Haha, I ordered a box of filter bags. I’m going to start packing loose tea leaves to work. I use to just use tea bags or satchels.

fcmonroe

My work gets in the way of my tea all the time. It can be frustrating.

I hope you enjoy the new job!

LENA

Congrats again on starting your new job. And that tea machine sounds kinda crazy and cool.

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Go Teaplz! At your new job! With the crazy cool tea machine! If you don’t mind my asking, what type of work to do you do?

Raffi

I’ve been to a company’s office that had one of these machines in their lunch room. It did coffees AND teas, just depending on what packet you put in it. Kind of nifty, but only if you’ve never touched gourmet versions of either. You’re absolutely right though, they taste like powdered this or not-fresh that… Almost not worth drinking it, free or not.

teaplz

Yeah, the machine does both coffee and tea. You can see it here! http://us.myflavia.com/home/index.jsp

I work in children’s book publishing at one of the largest publishers in the world. :)

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Ah, something a bit like K-cups then. That sounds like a neat job. In my fantasy world, one of my dream jobs is being an academic librarian in a large institution, or a doctor in either oncology or neurology, or a pharmacy professor teaching Kinetics. Anyways, I love to read.

Raffi

Yeaaah the office I went to had this one: http://us.myflavia.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3442362

Silly machines…

takgoti

So excited for you and your new endeavor! When I was working, one of our vendors represented Flavia and they used to bring the machine through every now and then. I think we spent most of the time drinking hot chocolate [which was decent]. The Thermador and Bosch reps used to make chicken and chocolate chip cookies though, so they won.

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91

Ever since I had my first jasmine tea, I will get these cravings for jasmine. I just really love the smell of it, and the soft taste of it. Nommy. No wonder it’s been part of the tea tradition for so long now, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

takgoti gave me this one, and I love the look of these Dragon Pearls. In fact, I love the look of pearls in general, but these are really gorgeous. The sea green interwoven with the blue-green. So gorgeous. And the smell coming off of them! It’s that floral-fruity smell that’s so jasmine. And I just realized it today, sort of reminds me of Juicy Fruit gum! I could smell these little buggers all day.

One of the other great things about a jasmine pearl tea is the steeping. Watching them unfurl, little bubble trails streaking up the sides of the clear pot, it’s almost like the caterpillar emerging from the cocoon. Entrancing, almost. Anyway, the leaves in this particular one are nice and whole, and there’s a fair amount of buds as well. I don’t know what the ratio is (although there probably is a method to the madness), but I soon had a little green aquarium of tea leaves.

The liquid on this one smells very soft and inviting. Very jasmine, but there’s almost a hint of cocoa in the smell. And it’s actually my favorite color for tea, that dark beige, pale yellow color that I think just looks like rich for its pale color.

It’s the flavor of this one that really knocked my socks off, though. Wow. Just.. wow. There’s a buttery taste, that melts into a soft, juicy jasmine flavor. It’s really not overbearing. It doesn’t try to beat you over the head with its jasmine notes. It just blends seamlessly into the body of the tea. I’m addicted to that butter-like component. I finished this cup very, very fast. It’s just a testament to the quality of the green tea in this one. It’s full of flavor. Seriously.

The jasmine has a wonderful sweet aftertaste that lingers on the tongue, but is pleasant. Some aftertastes just never seem to end. This just quietly fades away.

Really top-notch stuff. Seriously. It’s like a sigh. The flutter of butterfly wings. Okay, I’m getting a little stupidly poetic, but this one is so fuzzy-wonderful that I want to just let it wash over me.

I tried a second steep of it, and while the jasmine flavor was still there, it was a bit more muted, and there was a vegetal note creeping in that wasn’t to my liking. So out the leaves went!

I can’t wait to compare this to Samovar’s!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Jillian

I love this tea! The 2nd steep is the best, IMO.

Ricky

Now I want some! Second order of harneys will be fun when I finally make it.

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Profile

Bio

22-year-old NYC girl just starting out on her tea adventures! I used to hate tea. If you asked me a few years ago what I thought of tea, I’d tell you it tasted like hot, dirty dishwater. Not anymore! I acquired a taste for tea when I started drinking peppermint tea for my upset stomach problems. From there I graduated to teas like chamomile and Lipton. But Lipton wasn’t strong enough!

I’m getting the hang of this loose leaf thing. Black’s my default, but I’ve found that I really love teas that fall into every category. I’m a purist – I always drink my tea neat. I prefer unflavored tea over flavored tea, and really dislike anything flavored with artificial-tasting substances. I’ve grown up a bit in my tea drinking, and I find that novelty appeals to me less and less.

I also am the happy girlfriend of the boy that created the tea randomizer, which can be found here: http://www.jaydeee.net/pickatea.php

Location

New York City

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