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164 Tasting Notes

Backlogging

Experience buying from SpecialTeas http://steepster.com/places/2931-specialteas-online-stratford-connecticut

I bought eight ounces of this during SpecialTeas’ going-out-of-business sale at the beginning of 2011 for 75 % off.
This was my first Honeybush. The rich red color in the pot blew me away. Although initially I found it so different than anything else I had ever had, over time I came to appreciate the tobacco-like flavor and aroma of it (my wife, sadly, has not). I have had red rooiboss since then, and I seem to prefer it over this honeybush. I will leave off the rating (this being my first honeybush, and since I have yet to try any other ‘unflavored’ ones).

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Java OP by SpecialTeas
164 tasting notes

Backlogging

Experience buying from SpecialTeas http://steepster.com/places/2931-specialteas-online-stratford-connecticut

I bought two pounds of this during SpecialTeas’ going-out-of-business sale at the beginning of 2011 for 75 % off (I think we paid roughly $6 for it; yeah, that makes it less than $0.20 /OZ; I don’t think we’ll ever get a tea for less than that).

I think I only brewed it once on it’s own. It was decent tasting. It was also my first loose-leaf black tea. From then on out I have been ‘blending’ it with the flavor-added black teas we have, usually in a ratio of 2 parts flavor-added tea to 1 part Java OP (I have also blended it as 1-1); it seems to blend very well with every tea I’ve tried, such that I can’t tell the difference between not using it and using it ( I always brew up any flavor-added tea w/o the Java the first time). That helps to ‘stretch’ our flavor-added black teas. For that, I am really glad we found this tea! We still have plenty of it (it takes a long time to go through 32 ounces a few teaspoons at a time), and I think it will be around for quite awhile longer. I am leaving off the rating (my first black tea).

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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73

Backlogging and based entirely on my memory

Experience buying from SpecialTeas http://steepster.com/places/2931-specialteas-online-stratford-connecticut

I bought two pounds of this during SpecialTeas’ going-out-of-business sale at the beginning of 2011 for 75 % off (I think we paid roughly $12 for it).

This was a flavor-added gunpowder green tea (although they don’t mention ‘gunpowder’ in the description). As with The Blanc de Cassis initially my wife and I liked it, but over time it lost it’s appeal (although it took much longer to lose it). It was still enjoyable after it lost it’s initial appeal, but just not as good as the other green teas we began drinking. Still, I more-or-less enjoyed the last pot I made of it (about a month ago). I tried slipping this one past my wife with the last pot, and right away she remembered not liking it (foiled again!).

I bought two pounds of it of it because it was inexpensive, and I was looking for a flavor-added green tea. It was a visually appealing tea with all of the colorful goodies in it. Overall I was satisfied with it (I think my wife was mixed). It did have a couple of pleasant spicy notes in both the aroma and the flavor which complimented what the gunpowder had to offer fairly well. The amazing thing about gunpowder is that it seems it has better longevity than most other green teas because of its shape: the leaves are wrapped into tiny pellets thus exposing very little surface area to the elements that often work to quickly degrade a green teas fresh flavor. Although some of the tea from SpecialTeas (and Teavana that we bought at the same time) were starting to taste flat, this one never did. Overall, this was a reasonably good flavor-added gunpowder.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Backlogging big time and based on my long term memory

Experience buying from SpecialTeas http://steepster.com/places/2931-specialteas-online-stratford-connecticut

I bought four ounces of this during SpecialTeas’ going-out-of-business sale at the beginning of 2011 for 75 % off.

Other than the name, I couldn’t find a picture or a description of this tea anywhere. This was my second sencha (my first was from a local spice shop). Other than the fact that the lemon scent reminded me of Lemon Pledge (strangely enough, that wasn’t all that bad), I really don’t remember much else. I do remember that it was of a better quality than the local stuff. Although I thought it was drinkable, my wife did not (too ‘grassy’, I think). I don’t think any of the teas from SpecialTeas were really all that bad, which is more than I can say for some other unnamed behemoth tea shop that bought them out; ah well, what are you gonna do? All-in-all, from what I what remember I judge it was a decent quality flavor-added Japanese tea. As it was my first quality sencha, I’m leaving off the rating (It’s actually kind of nice not having to assign a rating to some teas).

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Lemon pledge with honey or iced might be nice!

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Backlogging and based on my long term memory and some on my notes

Experience buying from SpecialTeas http://steepster.com/places/2931-specialteas-online-stratford-connecticut

I bought two pounds of this during SpecialTeas’ going-out-of-business sale at the beginning of 2011 for 75 % off (I think it was around $24 for the two pounds). This is a very ‘leafy’ tea, so the bag was humongous, as you might imagine was needed for 32 ounces of fluffy white tea. It was basically a flavor-added bai mu dan white tea. The leaf when taking it out of its bag was so dry I thought something was not quite right (I believe that’s called, bake-y) and I’ve never seen that quality in a tea before or since. Still, I don’t think it was stale or ‘bad’, maybe just a bit over-baked when it was processed?

I tried brewing this starting at lots of different temperature ranges: starting points ranged from 160F all the way to 200F (increasing the temperature about 5F each steeping for a total of five steepings, as at the time that was what I was told to expect out of a white tea). It seemed starting at somewhere between 165 and 190 was best, otherwise it came out flat (little to no flavor). I used my standard white tea brewing times (start at 2 min, then add 1 min for each addn’l steeping).

The liquor had a very light strawberry color. I don’t really remember much about the aroma, other than it was mild, and a little unusual (this was my first exposure to white tea, so it was probably the standard sweet hay aroma). Finally, we come to the flavor; ah the flavor. At first we liked it. I don’t exactly know what happened, but after drinking it off-and-on for a couple of months (maybe less) it didn’t taste as good. It was like, there was something ‘off’ about it, and I started to think the flavors didn’t really belong together. I don’t think the change was due to the tea itself; I think it was our drinking preferences that had changed it was as if it lost its appeal to us, somehow.

After that I tried brewing it up every now and then (I could still drink it, although just barely), and every time I tried slipping it by my wife this is basically what happened: “What is it?” “Uh, a white tea.” She would then give me a suspicious look, and I would either smile, or walk away before our eyes would meet. Upon returning, “How did you like it?” “I didn’t. < pause > Is this one of those teas I don’t like?” It didn’t take long for her to ask me, as I handed her any tea, “Is this one I like?” Smart woman. : /

I gave some of it away, but we still have quite a bit of it (I estimate at least a half pound, or 1/4 of what we had originally, and maybe even more). One positive thing that sticks out in my mind about it: it was a somewhat colorful looking tea, with little blue corn-flower petal and red cranberries mixed in with the white tea tea-leaves. I am currently storing what we have left of it on the top shelf way in the back of our cabinet; and there it sits until I figure out what to do with it. We have talked about adding it to her bath water (similar to Missy’s idea of the foot bath), but we haven’t tried that yet.

Overall I’m disappointed that we stopped liking it. Yet, as with any interesting tea, I’m glad we at least tried it, as it was our first white tea. Since it was my first white tea, I’m leaving off the rating, as I don;t know what to expect at the time. I have tried other bai mu dan’s since, and although I like them, it seems my wife does not. So, maybe she simply doesn’t like the flavor of the base tea, and it wasn’t the flavoring. If I ever get around to swapping I would be more than be happy to give this away to as many that are interested (I just got two separate shipments of samples today—woo, hoo!—and although I was hoping to look into swapping this summer, I don’t see that happening for some time yet). As a final note since it has an odd name (for a dorky English speaker), I used to call it ‘Casablanca’. Can’t beat the classic with Bergman and Bogart, now can you?

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec
nutmeg

Hello
I saw your older post regarding cassis white tea and noted you were not in love with the tea and would be willing to trade/give away. I know it is a long shot but do you still have this tea? Thanks!

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84

Backlogging

Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

During the spring of 2011 I ordered eight teas from Tea Trekker: three 2010 green teas, one 2011 green tea, one 2010 yellow tea, and three black teas (with one free 2011 green tea sample thrown in). I finished all of the green and yellow teas by the end of 2011.

This was my very first fresh spring green tea, and so merits a more in-depth review than the others.

I like artichokes, and I remember that this tasted like artichokes. I couldn’t believe tea could taste like artichokes and that it could actually taste good. For months I had been reading about how fresh green teas can taste like all kinds of different green vegetables (spinach, green beans, collard greens, etc). So when I tasted artichokes in this tea, it was all I could talk about (I bet it may have been a little annoying to hear me go on and on about it). I brewed this up for a friend later that summer, one who never had a fresh spring green tea before (that I am aware of), and he was about as impressed as I was that it tasted like artichokes. On a side note: the flavor of Life in Teacup’s Frosty Spring Yunnan Roast Green somewhat reminds me of the flavor of this tea.

My old notes say it had good flavor through three steepings (and some on the forth and a little on the fifth). I go on-and-on in my notes about the quality of this leaf (being the first spring green I’d ever seen): fresh, bright-looking, army-green-colored leaves (medium-to-small sized), with plenty of bud-sets. It’s kind of funny reading my notes, as it’s like listening to a little kid describing how great his first new spangled thing a-ma-bob is, the one that just came in the mail that day, the one he’s been waiting for for weeks (anyone seen, A Christmas Story?). Anyway, this tea’s what got me loving Tea Trekker, and fresh green teas, and it got me to see that I didn’t have to pay lots for a good quality green tea (it was $15 / 4 OZ). Fresh green tea ROCKS!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Azzrian

Isn’t it awesome to look at old tea notes! :)

SimpliciTEA

Yeah, it can be a real hoot. : )

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77

Backlogging

Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

Tea Leaf: The leaf is CTC, but still quality.

This was my first exposure to a quality, loose-leaf Ceylon, and my wife and I have both enjoyed this tea (I also showcased it at least once and got a good response). I found scant notes on this tea (from an old notebook I just remembered I used to keep notes in), and it looks like it had good flavor through three steepings, and still a little on the fifth. Evidently, it was also good iced. Impressive!

(I still have some of this, so I may update this review at a later time).

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Backlogging

Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

During the spring of 2011 I ordered eight teas from Tea Trekker: three 2010 green teas, one 2011 green tea, one 2010 yellow tea, and three black teas (with one free 2011 green tea sample thrown in). I finished all of the green and yellow teas by the end of 2011.

This was my first yellow tea. At the time it tasted pretty much like a green tea to me. I liked it. I still don’t exactly know what to expect from a yellow tea, so no numerical rating.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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72

Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

I liked this tea, too. : )

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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72

Backlogging. I’m tired of wanting to do these reviews and still not doing them (because I don’t have much to say about them, and the tea is long done been drunk up). So I am going to knock a bunch of ‘em out by keepin’ ’em simple.

Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

I liked this tea. Can’t get any simpler than that, now can ya!?

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec
DaisyChubb

Sometimes, in the words of Monokuro Boo: Simple is best. :)
(I love your long reviews, and your short reviews!)
http://www.sky-wallpaper.com/uploads/2011-04/monokuro-boo-wallpaper/1303696020-988NU2U.jpg

SimpliciTEA

Cute little buggers.

Thanks for your kind words! : – )

Azzrian

I agree – not every review needs to be spectacular nor do all teas merit it. Sometimes a good tea is just good because its simple. :)

SimpliciTEA

Delete less than a minute ago

Thanks, Azzrian. To be honest part of my reluctance to review these Tea Trekker teas is that I can’t really remember much about them, and they are long gone, so I feel a little guilty that I can’t do them justice; and that’s compounded by my perfectionism—I expect more from myself then just saying, “It was good.” shrugs Not much I can do about it now, though.

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Profile

Bio

(Updated 3-23-2014)

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 11 OZ Yixing:
First I do a 15 – 20 second rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia to my 8 OZ clear-glass teacup (thus, typically not added to the teapot).
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
……….4th: Boiling~(poured usually right after the previous steeping, so the teapot and water are as hot as possible)~, 2’ (if it’s the final steeping, then sometimes longer)
……….If 5th and/or more: Boiling, < If I do more than 4 steepings, I basically add 0.5’ for each. >

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf green tea, although I enjoy Chinese red (or Indian black) and white tea somewhat regularly (during the summer, iced ). Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have five teapots: a simple six-cup and four-cup ceramic (red/black/herbal teas), a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and a Yixing (Pu-erh only).

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.

Location

Midwest, USA

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