170 Tasting Notes

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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75

Experience buying from Life in Teacup http://steepster.com/places/2861-life-in-a-teacup-online-easthampton-massachusetts

I just got finished brewing up four good pots of this. I added some peach schnapps to the forth, and the peach flavor mixed surprisingly well with the floral notes and gave the tea an unusual body provided by the schnapps syrupy consistency. I liked this tea (both with and without the schnapps).

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Bonnie

Sounds like a good evening ahead!

SimpliciTEA

Yeah, well after dinner while listening to some Peter Gabriel I was singing just a tad louder than a normally do. : )

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72

Experience buying from Culinary Teas http://steepster.com/places/2981-culinary-teas-online-milford-indiana
I bought a partial sample of this sometime in the fall of 2011.

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: about the same as the rest of the flavor-added black teas from Culinary Teas: medium grade leaf, strong, sweet, fruity aroma, hard to say if it smelled like pineapple, but I did like it.

Brewing guidelines: sixteen-oz ceramic cup with metal basket; stevia added; my standard black tea steeping times and temperatures; three steepings.

Flavor of tea liquor (based on the most recent session): The first was fruity, but a little bitter and too strong for me (maybe that’s from drinking the delicate flavored green teas as often as I have been these days?); better on the second (no bitterness, and not as intense), but with a somewhat artificial-ness to the more-or-less pineapple-like flavor; and the third is tasty, but considerably milder. Still, there was no off-flavor in any of the steepings.

Value: Culinary flavor-added tea’s are generally very reasonably priced; as most of her flavor-added black teas are, this one is $8.15 / 4 OZ, which puts it at about $2 / OZ (and even less with any discounts and/or if you buy it in larger quantities).

Overall: I bought this one since I love pineapple (incidentally it was not in the batch of flavor-added blacks I bought during the Black Friday sale). This is at least the third flavor-added black Culinary Tea I have noticed that I find a bitter taste from on the initial steeping, and something tells me it may be wise to adjust one of my brewing parameters (either lower the temperature, or shorten the time) the next time I brew another flavor-added black and see if that helps. I will say these teas always seem to have a nice, clear color; that’s always good; I wonder if this one would be better iced. Oh well, although it’s reasonably tasty, there are plenty of other flavor-added teas that are more interesting than this one, and I’m more interested in pure teas now, anyway. This is the last of it and as it stands I don’t plan to repurchase it.

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

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65

Experience buying from Culinary Teas http://steepster.com/places/2981-culinary-teas-online-milford-indiana

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: about the same as the rest of the flavor-added black teas from Culinary Teas: medium grade leaf, strong, spicy aroma with the barest hint of pumpkin.

Brewing guidelines: four TSP, four cups H2O; loose in four-cup ceramic teapot; stevia added; my standard black tea steeping times and temperatures; three steepings; two separate sessions.

Flavor of tea liquor (based on the most recent session): mostly chocolaty, no pumpkin flavor I could taste on the first two steepings, and some kind of weird off-flavor that was in the first two steepings, but which was more prominent on the third steeping. It did not taste good at all when it came to room temperature.

Value: Culinary flavor-added tea’s are generally very reasonably priced; as most of her flavor-added black teas are, this one is $8.15 / 4 OZ, which puts it at about $2 / OZ (and even less with any discounts and/or if you buy it in larger quantities).

Overall: This is the sixth? of the flavor-added black tea samples from Culinary. I was ‘scolded’ for brewing this up out of a desire to finish these samples off as she’s not digging drinking scalding hot tea in the summer; what’s her problem, anyway?! :p It’s weird that the chocolate notes were much more in the forefront and that there was no pumpkin flavor (at least none I could discern). I didn’t care for this tea, and my wife didn’t either. Not planning on buying this one again. Still, another one bites the dust … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNQRfBAzSzo (I didn’t know Queen performed this?).

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

For real? That’s one of Queen’s classic hits.

SimpliciTEA

For real.

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77

Backlogging and based entirely on memory.
I’m trying a different format for my reviews with this one, in the hopes of making it easier to read. I am open to any feedback about this format (or my standard one).

Experience buying from Seven Cups http://steepster.com/places/2824-seven-cups-online-tucson-arizona

I bought 100 grams of this tea in April of 2011 and finished drinking it by the end of that year. I used standard times and temperatures for my Chinese greens steeping this wonderful tea in a glass Bodum pot with metal the infuser/plunger; stevia was always added.

The leaf looked similar to Teavana’s Three Kingdoms Mao Feng (T-TKMF), but I believe it was lighter in color: light and dark green, medium-sized curly leaves and buds, with a somewhat fresher aroma than T-TKMF. I remember that this tea was comprised mostly of whole leaves, buds and bud-sets, and that it looked fresher than the T-TKMF. The flavor was standard for a quality green tea, being vegetal and sweet (tasted slightly better than the T-TKMF). Teavana’s T-TKMF produced a somewhat cloudy liquor, while this teas liquor was clear. This tea blended well with T-TKMF. Since it was well beyond it’s harvest date, this tea went for 70% OFF of its original price (at something like $5 / OZ), and I remember it came to about $1.50 / OZ (I just found the discounted price: $5.43/100g).

Overall, I was very happy with everything about this tea. T-TKMF was my second quality, loose-leaf green Tea, and this was my third (a dragon well from a local Asian store was my first). This tea was better than T-TKMF in every respect, which amazed me, as I wouldn’t think T-TKMF was from an earlier harvest date than this one (I bought the T-TKMF during Teavana’s year-end-sale just months before at the end of 2010, so I would think it was probably from the 2009 harvest at the earliest). Since I was enjoying the flavor of this tea about four years after it’s harvest date (I just checked to verify it was indeed 2007, and not, say, 2009), I learned that not all green teas are created equal. This is also a reason why I have much respect for Seven Cups. I would probably buy this at full price if they offered it again, but I have yet to see them offer it from a new harvest (even at $5 /OZ it would be one of Seven Cup’s least expensive teas, as many of their green teas are over $10 / OZ).

Missy

I like the comparison of the two different teas in this review. I think both your older format and this one are equally easy to read. I miss the steeping parameters and how many steepings you have gotten. The addition of your tea history is pretty awesome. It helps me get an idea of your tea preferences.

SimpliciTEA

Thank you, Missy, for that wonderful feedback!

Although I primarily include what I do in my reviews for my own records, I often don’t know if anyone else gets any value out of what I include. So, if I know there is value in some of those particulars to others (like including the current price of the tea, or the price I paid, or how it’s price compares to other similar teas) then I am much more likely to make an effort to provide it (even if I am mixed about whether or not to include it for my own possible use at a later date).

I didn’t include the parameters here because it’s been many months since I last brewed it up (a BIG downside to backlogging without notes, of course). For this particular tea, I vaguely remember getting at least three good steepings out of it using my standard green tea times and temps (those are in my bio). Still, I’m glad you find value that kind of information.

And yes, the tea history gives a kind of context from which I can review its merits (or downsides).

I think I’m going stick with this format for awhile, anyway (this way seems not so quantitative or data driven as my standard way seems to be).

Again, thanks!

Missy

You are quite welcome. I consider steepster my personal tea diary so if your new format makes it easier to get out, I say by all means, carry on! That’s why my notes tend to be on the shorter side. I really just want to access them quickly while making a decision on new teas to buy or finding the perfect brewing parameters.

I imagine backlogging does make it hard to remember exactly what you’ve done. The number of good steepings indicates what sort of quality. I keep an eye out when people do mention these things.

Any who, you have always had informative reviews. I enjoy reading them. :D

SimpliciTEA

I agree that the number of flavorful steeping I can coax out of a tea is an important indicator of quality.

Thank you for all of your comments and encouragement Missy!

Missy

Your welcome :D

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Profile

Bio

(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

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 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

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 Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. 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 three teapots: 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 an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

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.

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Midwest, USA

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