209 Tasting Notes

drank Cloud Catcher by ESP Emporium
209 tasting notes

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100

My husband chose this as his free sample to take home after we visited this café for afternoon tea (free single-estate first flush Darjeeling, whaaaaat?). This pouch has got to be a whole ounce, at least. What a steal!

Anyway, we steeped it up this morning with breakfast (I know, it’s not really a breakfast tea, but we just couldn’t wait any longer to try it). The leaf is quite green, and smells of hay, with notes of honeysuckle and cedar, or maybe oak. Unfortunately, it got a teeeensy bit oversteeped, but the cup was still wonderfully light and refreshing. I’ve heard that adding lemon to Darjeeling is a common practice—anyone here care to weigh in on that? I don’t usually add lemon to hot tea, but I’d be willing to try it! This sample will last us a little while, so there’s time for experimentation. I’m quite impressed with this tea. It was quite floral and light, so that even the slight over steeping didn’t take away much of my enjoyment. Lovely.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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97

I bought this tea for two reasons: I wanted to support the company’s efforts (in a somewhat indirect way) to do their part to help rebuild Nepal, as they have pledged to do with their profits for the next year, and I wanted to try the tea that won the North American Tea Championship in 2014 in the black tea category. The reviews looked very promising, so I went ahead an ordered the 1.6-oz. package. The tea is very reminiscent of a Yunnan golden tips, but with a slight smoky/bitter edge to it, somewhat reminiscent of the flavor of a pecan, or like a single leaf of lapsang souchong snuck its way into the steeper. It’s deeply malty, but also smooth, like someone took my favorite beer and made it into a tea. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although next time I might try steeping it for less time, just to see. :)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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83

I have had this sample for so long, I’ve forgotten who sent it to me in a swap. I’m sorry, whomever you are, and thank you for sharing! I’m pretty sure this was just thrown in, not something I requested but something the person thought I would like…

Anyway, I steeped it up this morning after breakfast.

The loose leaf didn’t smell like much, but the brew smelled SWEET. Like rock candy and maple syrup, with a slightly woody, rooibos-like aroma from, I’m guessing, the base? I didn’t look at the ingredients.

I tried it first without sugar, but it was clearly in need of some, so I added a scoop. I’m guessing the sweet flavor that comes across as maple syrup might be intended to be a caramel flavor, from the cola. There’s no cherry flavor really to speak of, but that’s all right with me, because the flavoring in cherry cola is waaay artificial and not very pleasant to me. There is definitely a baked good flavor there; if I’d had to name this tea, I’d have probably come up with Maple Coffee Cake or something. A little cinnamon wouldn’t go amiss, to seal the deal in the baked-good-flavor department. I’m quite enjoying this! (As I think about it, this may be the very first Della Terra tea I’ve tried… I could be wrong, though.) Anyway, I’d rate it higher, because I really do like it, but it’s missing a flavor element that it probably should have. Thanks again to whoever sent me this! I will have to perhaps make a Della Terra order in the future, if their other flavors are comparable in overall effect.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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I had such high hopes for this tea that after something of a bummer of a first steep (which my husband liked, so I’m not discounting that maybe my pregnancy taste buds are toying with me again), I decided to steep it again this morning. The last time, I had added milk, almost out of habit (and thinking that a chocolate milk flavored tea could only be improved by the addition of actual milk), but the flavor was just all kinds of not right. No chocolate, no marshmallow root, just this odd flavor that was vaguely burned. I thought maybe I’d just steeped it too long, but there weren’t really too many tannins… I couldn’t figure it out. So I thought I’d try it again this morning. That odd flavor was there again, but this time it was identifiable: wet wood, like the flavor of a toothpick. I think I have decided I just don’t like the base tea. It is not rich or malty or chocolatey or anything I like in a black tea. Again, it could very well be my preggo tastes messing with me (I have noticed that teas that I like have started to taste a little different than normal, not in a bad way, usually, just different), so I guess I won’t rate this one. This whole experience has been rather bizarre. It doesn’t help that I don’t think I’ve ever had a Qu Hao before, so I have no past experience to reference. Has anyone else encountered anything close to the flavor I described with this tea?

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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I may have steeped this too long for the flavors to come through in the way that they were meant to, so I will hold off rating it until I can do it the way it was intended. Hubby and I have been steeping honeybush lately for much longer times, because we’d read that it generally tastes better the longer you steep it. We’d found that steeping it for 10 minutes produced a flavor we really like, but when we did that with this blend, the chocolate and other flavors all but disappeared. I was quite disappointed, understandably, so we’ll try again, with the measly leaf we have left (one of the reasons I wasn’t in favor of Frank’s decision not to offer the 2 oz. packages anymore), to get the correct flavor out of it.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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95
drank Earl Grey Creme by Teavana
209 tasting notes

We FINALLY restocked our cupboard with this tea, hallelujah ! I missed it so much~

I don’t normally steep this one too long, ‘cause it is a travesty when oversteeped, but yesterday I was brave and brewed it for three minutes. Glad I did, too! The vanilla is really present, a nice balance to the bergamot. This tea is quite rich, almost caramelly. I did notice that Teavana seems to have changed their recipe, since I don’t see any blue cornflowers anymore, but I have to say that I don’t think whatever they did has altered the flavor overmuch from the original. Very satisfying, as either a breakfast or afternoon tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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91

The hubby and I were looking for something to sip while we wrestled with the online tax monster. This one seemed just the thing. We steeped it twice, as follows:
1st – 170°, one minute, 16 oz. water, two perfect teaspoons of tea
2nd – 180°, one and a half minutes

Both steeps were sweetened with a little clover honey (I prefer wildflower, but clover is generally more accessible, and cheaper besides). The clover taste, to my pleasant surprise, did not overpower the flavor of the apples or the tea, although it did take away some of the tartness that I remember this tea having. A very nice apple blend, although I would have preferred a sharper apple flavor (more like a Braeburn or a Pink Lady than a Gala or Red Delicious). I like my apples to bite back. :) The base tea was a sweet hay undertone, with just a hint of something floral to round it out. Lovely!

Preparation
2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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100

May I just say that I adore this tea? It is malty and chocolatey and bready and not at all bitter or astringent, not even the way that chocolate can be bitter or astringent (which, in chocolate, is a yummy quality, but not always in tea). I really like a tea that I can sink my teeth into, that is perfect as is, and this tea is it. No frills, no complex flavorings (although those also have their place). Just a good black tea with hints of honey and yeast and chocolate. Yum. I’d have this for breakfast every morning if my budget would allow me. :)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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75
drank Mint Pu-erh by Numi Organic Tea
209 tasting notes

I decided to pull this one out because my stomach is not feeling very happy this morning, and I know sometimes mint tea has helped this situation in the past, so here goes. I followed the package directions, steeped it for 3 minutes in boiling water that’s been “slightly cooled.” The aroma is quite strongly mint, and not much else, maybe just a hint in the aroma that this is not just straight mint. I decided not to sweeten it, since I thought that might diminish the effects of the mint on my stomach. The pu-erh really takes a backseat to the mint, but there in the flavor as well is the barest hint that this is not an herbal. I’ll give this one another try at a later date, when I can perhaps do more to coax the pu-erh flavor out (and maybe steep it a little longer… I got impatient, wanting to settle my stomach).

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Bio

I very clearly remember my first experience with tea. It was in a Target near my house, and my best friend handed me a cup of chai from the Starbucks inside the store and said, “Try this.” I believe I was about 12 at the time, and from then on, I was completely hooked.

Anyway, as my increasingly weirded out family will tell you, my obsession with tea has (almost) steadily escalated since then. I discovered the world of tea slowly, first with just chai, and then with bagged teas I could get from supermarkets and specialty stores, and then with loose leaf teas. I mostly shop for tea at Teavana, but I also patronize other local shops that I’ve discovered within the last couple of years. I’ve ordered a smattering of teas from a few online places, but I’m always leery of buying tea online, since most of how I select teas in person is by smell… unless I’m at The English Tea Room.

My favorite types of tea are blacks and flavored blacks. And oolongs. Right underneath that are rooiboses and whites, and then greens and herbals, and then mates. I’m always looking for a new favorite, but I appreciate rediscovering old favorites. I like to blend teas, but I never store them that way, mostly because I like to leave myself options.

I prefer nutty/sweet/rich teas to fruity/light-flavored teas or bold/full-bodied teas, but I do try to drink some of everything to widen my palate. I’m always willing to try any tea at least once (except this one tea that Teavana mercifully discontinued… the loose leaf smelled like cheese, I swear). I do perhaps rate teas a little leniently… because I’m not very picky. I will try a tea at least three times before I pronounce that I hate it, and I will always focus on the good aspects of a tea rather than the bad. That’s just how I roll. :3

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Colorado, USA

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