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249 Tasting Notes

100

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had a proper Chai, aside from your typical lazy Starbucks lattes.

This sample came with my first Teavana Holiday order of 2013, a blend seemingly replacing the much lauded Samurai Chai Mate & White Ayurvedic Chai Blend.

In a lot of ways, this blend is quite similar to the latter, as they are both chai/chai blends, both come from Teavana, and both leaves contain the much potent lemongrass and tropical fruity scents.

I am actually quite curious about this sample blend, as I have had both of these teas individually before.

These leaves are much darker than the Chai Mate & White Ayurvedic blend, with a significantly consistent spicy kick added.

I do quite enjoy brewing a handsomely dark and rich Chai, especially one that emphasizes full spices next to it’s bright textures.

Teavana may have added a bit too much rock sugar, but that could also be because Maharaja Chai Oolong does not need rock sugar as it is seemingly sweetened already.

Nonetheless, the expectedly rich spices deliver with a full bodied Oolong and tropical Mate blend, which reminds me of ginger beer.

Teavana seem to know what does and does not work with blends of their premium teas, and this blend surely and soundly works.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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87

I didn’t really know what to expect from this tea. It didn’t seem a very compelling tea, as I had always seen it sitting on the shelf as I walked past it in the store. I finally broke down and bought a bag, as I had tried all the other teas.

Upon first opening the bag, a gentle and extremely pleasing aroma fills the air. A very fresh and sweet scent of vanilla and fruit blend quite well with the tea, giving a more after hours cocktail feel. The leaves are long, rolled, and handsomely dark.

My initial steep of 3 minutes, with half a teaspoon of rock sugar, gave a brilliant and bright copper toned brew. The aroma very much like the leaves, fresh, sweet and slightly fruity.

The first couple sips gave me a surprisingly bitter flavor, followed by a sweet subtle fruitiness, which was then followed by a hint of astringency. As surprising as it was, considering how much black tea there is here, it shouldn’t be that surprising.

My second steep of 2 minutes and 45 seconds with new leaves, and this time with a whole teaspoon of rock sugar, gave a darker brew with a stronger sweet and fruity aroma.

The 15 seconds makes such a difference, giving a more flavorful brew. There is much less bitterness and a more subtle floral bouquet. There is something very distinguishing about the toasty sweet and dry textures, with a slight astringency that more compliments the overall flavor.

This tea is wonderfully complex, with so many textures, all working together for your complete enjoyment. I believe I have had this tea five times in the past two days now, which officially makes it a favorite.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

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85

This has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it on my New Years weekend trip to Prince George, BC. I’m not quite sure why it took me this long to try it, seeing as I do have a particular and intense love for chai teas.

It is a very typical chai, with a difference in a slight yet noticeable scent of sweetness. Despite, I brew my cups of chai with a teaspoon each of leaves and rock sugar.

The brew is extremely dark and clean, and quite a handsome tone at that. The aroma is comfortingly warm and strong and spicy, like you’re getting a liquid hug.

Normally, I don’t put milk in chai; only when it’s added in restaurants and tea places. But, we had a carton of soy drink sitting in the fridge, and I have never had soy in tea, so I had to try it.

The soy definitely calms the spices down, not so much as to diminish the overall flavor, but to give it discipline. It helps the soy has a nutty flavor that adds to the strong black tea and spices.

It has been too long since my last chai tea. Thankfully, this is quite a respectable and strong chai, and quite superb with sugar and milk, or soy.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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95

Drinking this hastily at work is an injustice to the complexities and sheer beauty of this tea. Even worse is my decision on western style brewing.

There is a subtleness to both the leaves and liquor, a clean and fresh and delicate subtleness. The leaves are a wild and earthy shape and color, with deep and dark greens along the long curls and twists. The scent is extremely faint but very fresh, reminiscent of forest after a rainfall.

The initial steep gives you this thick and velvety brew, followed by a very clean and crisp and lightly sweet aftertaste of grape and apple. It is quite a lovely and brilliant experience, with little to no astringency.

The second steep gave me a thicker velvet texture, with a malty flavor mixed with the grape and apple. There is a mild but bright astringent aftertaste that follows and lingers on your tongue.

The third steep was a lighter malt, with less texture and a slight more astringency. The fading flavors and details made it clear that you should not brew this western style. A tea this complex and delicate requires patience and attention.

Despite my ignorance, my first experience was a complete surprise and an extreme delight. I cannot wait to properly experience this.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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81
drank Earl Grey by Tea Forte
249 tasting notes

This is my second steep, experimenting with steeping times.

Instead of the typical 3 minute steep I do with most black teas, I tried 2 and a half minutes with this. It may have made a world of difference.

The astringency is non-existent here, in place a simple well rounded cup of Earl Grey.

The Bergamot is lighter, not so much heavy but a full bodied flavor. The refreshing aftertaste still follows, and better compliments the tea overall.

I would guess the astringency from my initial steep was now due to the black tea being over-steeped, on top of the Bergamot becoming a heavier factor. It is best to steep this tea at shorter times for a more well rounded cup.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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81
drank Earl Grey by Tea Forte
249 tasting notes

I’ve owned this tea for quite a while without any impressions of it logged.

I don’t really have much experience with orange or citrus tea, but with the limited amount I have acquired, my impressions have been fairly great. I do recall a fabulous experience with a dark Darjeeling orange pekoe, as most of my experiences before that with orange pekoe weren’t favorable.

Opening the tin presented quite a strong and distinguishing Bergamot citrus aroma, so strong that the scent lingers, faintly. I would have thought the Bergamot overpowering, but it is more an initial and bold scent, with a citrus freshness that follows.

Steeping gives a nicely deep amber tone. The aroma of the brew is significantly less bold than the leaves, leaving a pale, almost flat, scent.

The initial sips show me why the cornflowers needed to be there, as they settle down the extremely bold flavor of the Bergamot. There is a dull astringency, which I could probably credit the black tea that is barely present, but it seems more the citrus as it is also a refreshing closer.

All around, this is quite a bold and delicious tea. I can see this working better with milk, as the Bergamot does call for it. Straight or sweetened with milk, this is a very full and rich cup of tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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1

I believe the last time I had enjoyed a Yunnan tea was from Adagio. The leaves were a mixture of beautifully light and deep browns, curled and soft, with tiny hairs. I recall golden tips and a smooth and soft flavor.

This tea is rather interesting. There is clearly a musty scent, which makes me worry about the quality of this tea.

There is a mixture of dark brown leaves and stems, which is not odd. What is odd is the size of the stems, most larger and longer than the leaves. I worry some more.

The liquor is dark and cloudy, with that musty scent from the leaves. I am actually not really looking forward to tasting this tea.

And, just as I had suspected, this is a very bitter tea. The musty scent had very much shown what the quality was to this tea, which is bitter and pretty much flavourless.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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72
drank Jasmine Pearls by Tazo Tea
249 tasting notes

In a lovely tin, this sachet tea allows the scented tea to breathe. Despite still being a bagged tea, it does have more room, albeit a very limited amount.

The jasmine aroma is quite strong. It actually reminds me of Adagio’s Jasmine Silver Needle oolong tea. Only, this tea is not the beautiful long and slender leaves of the Silver Needle, but rolled into tiny pearls.

The liquor is equally as strong, with a deep copper tone. The leaves in the sachet unfurl and reveal quite small and light leaves.

The first initial sips are a full on jasmine and green tea bliss. The jasmine, despite the overpowering aroma, is not as overpowering in flavor. There is a subtle sweetness, but the jasmine provides a stable body with the green tea.

Color me lavender, as my reaction to this is similar to Adagio’s Jasmine Silver Needle. The jasmine scent can become overwhelming, but can work beautifully with a proper leaf.

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

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74
drank Green Ginger by Tazo
249 tasting notes

Before diving completely into the wonderful world of loose leaf tea, this had become my favorite of the bagged teas. It has been a while since enjoying this tea. I have grown substantially, in both knowledge and practice, on my tea preparation and consumption. Hopefully, I still enjoy this as much as I had before.

There is still an overwhelming joy I get when opening the cover to reveal the subtle and delicious scents of ginger and pear. Because it is a bagged tea, the aroma is light. It is also as bright as I remembered.

Steeping brings out the spice to the ginger, a very soothing and reassuring aroma from a very soothing and reassuring light green color.

The flavor is still subtle, with a slight kick of the ginger. It is not as strong as I had remembered, but familiar brightness and a subtle sweetness come and go.

I wouldn’t say this is disappointing, as my views have not changed significantly. I have found other bagged teas that give much greater flavor and more dimension. Yet, this tea still plays on my soft heart.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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87

It feels like I haven’t really enjoyed a good new oolong tea in a while. I’ve found interesting oolongs, as well as replenished familiar oolongs, but never stumbled upon an oolong that can surprise me.

This is definitely one of the nicer tins I’ve purchased, closer in shape and design to the first double covered tin that contained Chocolate tea. The tin is covered in writing I can’t understand, aside from the name of the tea, of course. As well, the red tin is also covered with familiar designs of landscapes and a golden dragon on the lid.

The leaves are very complex and detailed, as they are tightly rolled. They vary shades of deep green, with stems scattered about. The aroma is wonderfully flowery, with a handsome roasted body.

Steeping brings out the buttery roasted oolong scent, scaling back the floral, and making for an increasingly complex aroma. The brew is a handsome deep amber color and very clean.

The flavor is soft, mellow and a nice balance of floral and roasted tones. There are multiple dimensions with each sip, as you catch different characteristics, most faint behind the buttery and floral flavors.

The balance and complexities give quite an interesting and delicious oolong. The mellow floral flavors make this an appropriate afternoon tea, as the strong floral aroma can linger.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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