I’m very thrilled to have had a try with the Butiki traveling teabox! thank you for starting the box! I will be writing everything for the Butiki samples in this one LONG tasting note, since there aren’t any tea shop/company names. Hopefully this teabox will educate me on the differences between some teas. I’d really like to be able to tell the difference between autumn/spring and first/second flush Darjeelings. I think the only thing missing from the box would be at least one of each sheng/shu pu-erhs for pu-erh newbies to compare. I’m not enough of a fan of raw pu-erh that I have more than one teaspoon in my possession though. I’ll be trying some of the same type side by side, especially if I want to try both.
+*Kenyan Orthodox* – 4 min after boiling // 3 min steep
I’ve tried a couple amazing Kenyan teas before. This one is good. Hints of plum and cherry that I associate with the few I’ve had. Not too much flavor, but I love the flavor that is here. Also, tomato soup, but I wish it would leave the plum and cherry alone.
+*Assam – India #1* The leaves here LOOK like the Hattialli I love from Butiki, with a ton of golden twisty leaves, but though the cup is dark, it is very difficult to even figure out with this tastes like. Definitely not like the Hattialli that I could find so many flavors. I don’t think I’ll ever taste another tea like that one again.
+*Assam – India #3* The leaves here are much darker than #1. The flavor is also darker, but still very sweet and mellow like #1. This one has plenty of that dry grass flavor.
+*China Keemun #2* A decent black tea but it lacks all of those keemun characteristics for me. I’ve had many great keemuns lately though.
+*Kenyan CTC* I accidentally left this to steep for more than the minute I wanted. I expected undrinkablity but it actually wasn’t that astringent for a usual super-strength CTC. Just like rye bread. A nice CTC.
I’m using one teaspoon of each Darjeeling but not filling the mug to the top as I usually do. I know some Butiki Darjeelings suggest two teaspoons, so maybe not filling the mug will make up the difference. I’ve also recently found out that Darjeelings are usually ruined for me with boiling water. I guess it depends on the Darjeeling.
+*Darjeeling India Autumn 2013 #1* 27 min after boiling // 2 min steep
Very squashy, which is fitting for autumn I guess! I haven’t tried this sort of tea yet. Second steep: half mug // 4 min after boiling // 2 min – completely different cup and not oversteeped so I’m still not sure what temp Darjeeling should be steeped at.
+*Darjeeling First Flush #4* 14 min after boiling // 3 min steep
I think first flushes just aren’t my thing, unless I’m steeping them wrong. The flavor is just not that great for me… what flavor there is anyway. This happened with all the first flushes I’ve ever tried. If anything with this teabox, I guess I learned which type of Darjeeling I like better!
+*Darjeeling Second Flush #6 & 7*
Maybe second flushes aren’t my thing either! These weren’t much different from the first flush, but there was slightly more flavor. But I’m not really inspired to steep a second cup OR even finish the first.
+*Dong Ding #1* 1 tsp // 25 min after boiling // mug 3/4 full // 3 min
No idea what temp to brew certain oolongs. I remember the Mandala milk oolong was a completely different tea brewed at just boiled or waiting around 20 minutes and I know with each oolong it’s different. Ooooo….I could try waiting 20 min for the first steeps of oolongs and then just boiled for the second steeps. I think this one brewed correctly though. The dark leaves of this one were bundled much bigger than the second Dong Ding. The flavor is like roasted chestnuts. Smooth but with a tiny bite to it. Second cup: nice as well.
+*Dong Ding #2* 1 tsp // 25 min after boiling // mug 3/4 full // 3 min
The leaves of this one were smaller bundles than the other Dong Ding. I wonder if that is why the brew was slightly darker. The flavor is stronger as well. More bite. Second steep: even more flavor but it also reminded me of kerosene for some reason.
+*Tie Guan Yin China Oolong* 15 min after boiling // 2 min
I should have went for the parameters of my favorite tie guan yin but I realized that 15 min after boiling (just boiled, 2-3 tsps.). The flavor is lighter and it isn’t a flower garden like I expect from a good tie guan yin, but this is good. Buttery, kind of more like a milk oolong.
+*Tie Guan Yin Traditional #1* 15 min after boiling // 2 min
I’ve already learned that smaller bundles and darker color means more flavor. This happened in both oolong tastings so far. This one also has something that tastes like kerosene again. Hopefully my tastesbuds aren’t like this now, but I honestly never loved roasted oolongs in the first place.
+*Mei Shan Taiwan #1* 25 min after boiling // 3 min
I don’t think I’ve ever had a Mei Shan oolong, at least that I’m aware of, so I had to try this one. The oolong are the biggest bundles I’ve ever seen. This has such an odd flavor that I don’t normally taste in oolong. It’s kind of like tomato soup but also tangy like some other fruit or vegetable. Not floral, milky or peachy like other oolongs. The cup color was light like an oolong usually is though.
+*Mei Shan Taiwan #2* 25 min after boiling // 3 min
The bundles with this one are slightly smaller and darker than the other Mei Shan. This one had a tomato soup flavor too, so it wasn’t just the other one. I guess it’s the characteristic of the Mei Shan. Interesting! The second cup had a really nice floral flavor to it I really liked.
+*Champagne Oolong* 15 min after boiling
This certainly is a flavor I haven’t had before. Very unique. I can’t really describe it but it’s sweet and it does have a creaminess to it. Really good.
+*Oriental Beauty Oolong #1*
I’ve had one kind of tea like this before. It supposedly had bergamot in it, but now that I’m trying this one, the base tastes like it has a sort of bergamot to it already. I wouldn’t guess this is an oolong looking at the leaves.
+*Ali Shan* I tried two of the Ali Shans but I’m not sure if either one was different from the other. It tasted like if a ton of different oolongs were mixed together – not very distinct flavoring.. hints of floral when it cooled. That’s too bad because I think these were the first Ali Shans I have tried.
+*GABA oolong #1* 10-15 min after boiling // 3 min
I’ve never tried a GABA. It’s supposed to lower anxiety, but I don’t think it helped mine. This looks like a roasted/charcoal oolong. With darker bundles with tinges of red. The flavor is so interesting, definitely not what I expected from these types of leaves. To me, it’s like the acorn squash that gets cut and half and baked with brown sugar and butter. Those are the flavor notes: tangy squash, butter, brown sugar. I like it.
+*Wen Shan Bao Zhong #1* 10 min after boiling // 1 min steep
Hmm.. this tastes very similar to the Bao Zhong I tried from Butiki a couple years ago! It’s very nice – light and buttery. The leaves aren’t actually bundled like a typical oolong. The leaves are long and twisty.
+*Milk Oolong #1* I wouldn’t say this is a very distinct milk oolong, and I certainly couldn’t guess it was a milk oolong in a blind taste test. I don’t think anyone should use this one to say if they like milk oolong or not.
+*Bolivia Green* 35 min after boiling // 2 min Not sure if I’ve ever tried a Bolivia green, but this one is sure interesting. Some of the green leaves are actually compacted together… I haven’t seen that before. The taste is certainly distinct but I couldn’t even say why, so I’ll leave it at that. Good though.
+*Bi Luo Chun #1* 30 min after boiling // 2 1/2 min steep
This one is really nice. Super creamy breaded corn, as all the green teas seem to be to me. Good thing I love that flavor.
+*Bi Luo Chun #2* 30 min after boiling // 3 min
Even though the leaves look pretty similar, the taste on this one is much different. Weaker flavor even with a longer steep time. Seems tangier. Not terrible but the first is amazing.
+*Chinese white* 32 min after boiling // 2 min
The leaves here are all so different! The scent from the cup is lemony. The flavor is nice but not extremely distinct. Hints of lemon and cream. Must be like a bai mu dan.
+*Bai Mu Dan #1* 30 min after boiling // 2 1/2 steep
This one is kind of pickley. Not really my thing. The leaves look really nice though. Reminds me of confetti. Not the best bai mu dan now that I’ve tried some nice ones.
+*Kenya White #2* Little sickles going here – not much flavor and a lot of fuzzies in the mouth. No flavor means the fuzzies aren’t worth it. Not a fan.
+*Kenya White #1* 30 min after boiling // 2 1/2 min steep
This is surprisingly the winner in the teabox for me! A WHITE TEA. My least favorite type of tea! It also figures, that this seems like the rarest tea of all, only nine results for ‘kenya white’ in the Steepster search and none of them look like this one. The leaves actually look like a black twisty Yunnan with plenty of gold. I certainly haven’t seen a white tea like this before. But the flavor that results from these leaves is definitely a white tea and possibly my favorite white tea. It has hints of lemon but the best thing about it is the syrupy texture. Not at all like those fuzzy white teas. This is the texture I wish all white teas would have. The cup of the color is a darker yellow. Two really nice steeps. I really wish Butiki would have sold this tea, or at least one like it.
OVERALL I’ve learned:
+First flush darjeelings, not my thing.
+I should look out for Kenyan white teas and GABA oolongs. I really liked being able to try a few different oolongs I haven’t knowingly tried before.
+Wow, two year old teas taste way better than I think they would. :D
+This teabox was a fantastic experience – also better than I expected! thank you so much!