150 Tasting Notes
Went to an afternoon tea with my mom at the UofMN arboretum. The sad but frank truth is that I admit I have become sort of a tea snob. I was almost tempted to pack my own tea and some empty teabags (the diy kind) and make my tea instead. I am glad that I opted to just have a mug of my tea before I left. Why? Because I actually enjoyed a couple of teas they had served. The venue ended up putting a plate of tea bags from White Bamboo Tea (which I believe is a part of White Lion Tea). I didn’t like them all but I did really enjoy this herbal.
In a shorter steep, roughly 3-4 minutes, this one changed my mind.
Tasting Note: Immediately what I noticed was this was actually lightly sweet not overly tart like many hibiscus teas are. The taste reminded me of fruit loops, sort of, which is ironic since I haven’t eaten the cereal in decades. Anyways, not a bad herbal tea bag.
Tea experiments: Iced Shikwasa oolong Tea
So from my last tasting, hot, this tasted like a nice floral taiwanese oolong, however no shikawasa citrus notes. Now, the only reason I know about this fruit is from the sakuraco treat subscription box from august the last two years. They had shikwasa jellies, candies and pastries with jams and i became really pulled in by that flavor. Its a lemon that also has a lime flavor. Anyways, this tea on its own dry smells like the fruit but doesn’t have any flavoring of it as far as i can tell.
Enter stage 2: buying pretty expensive imported shikawasa concentrate juice and trying to make a tea mocktail. I have little to no experience making sweet teas and mocktails and it shows unfortunately. XD I won’t rate this until I think it is better.
I think i diluted my tea with too much ice as the citrus flavor seems to have overwhelmed the tea. I didn’t put much juice or sugar/honey in, roughly a tsp each. End product kind of reminds me of a tarter lemon-lime gatorade (or at least what i remember it tasting like, its been a long while since I had one). Haha, it is certainly palatable but not what i was envisioning.
Random self made theme: A tropical tea
So sometimes I just search keywords in steepster to find my next tea or tea company. Pineapple sencha was my latest craving and search term after having and running out of 52teas’s pineapple sencha from the spring/summer last year. Surprisingly the list of pineapple senchas in the database was pretty short. However, one from a company called Den’s Tea had a pretty high rating. After looking into it a bit, I happily saw they are still around in California! Woo! I definitely cruised through their selection on steepster and their website and found 4-5 teas to start with: Apple sencha, Grape Sencha, Yuzu kukicha, a Yame Fukamushi sencha and obviously the pineapple sencha. These came back in mid January and I had been holding off on them for a bit.
Today was the day though! (I may have naively opened all the flavored ones so I could smell them and decide which was right for the moment). And pineapple definitely won out. All of the teas smelled amazing and the sencha was a really rich dark green- I am very pleased with the quality.
Side note: I read the about me section and some of the articles from Den’s tea and they are also a business in japan. Den Shirakata is a third generation tea business owner and his japan company just turned 100 this year. They source their tea mainly from Shizuoka where he grew up. He went to school in the US and then in late 90s came back to start Den’s Tea in California. Pretty cool that his business is still going in the US 23 years later.
Preparation: Western- poured over ice
Tasting note: first steep 30 secs (after pouring) really sweet, with sugar cane and grass notes. Makes me think of fresh ripe pineapples. The first steep is darker and thicker and richer from the green tea and the pineapple is more syrupy. The green tea aspects remind me a lot of nozomi from the japanese green tea co.
Overall, really great first impression iced. I will have to have it just warm next time to compare.
Made up theme of the month: Chocolate, Rose, Strawberry and Decadant Sweets
Prep: Western (no additives)
Tasting note: Definitely has that chocolately maltiness that cookie, framboise chocolat, fraisier, Date Strawberry, white christmas and joyex noel have. I think orange chocolat and marron chocolat and a few others use it as well but i havent tried those yet. I don’t know which tea it is that i enjoy in this base but i like it a lot. Anyways on to the yuzu citrus part, I am not getting much, like barely any if I am honest, which is really disappointing since i see some yuzu in there and the smell of the dry leaf is really yuzu-y and my tea was just recently opened. Will try again with oatmilk and then cold brew to see if i can coax out the yuzu flavors. Also, I had the shikwasa (okinawan lemon-lime like citrus fruit) oolong tea and it was mostly floral with the scent of the fruit. Half temped to buy some of these fruits as a concentrate and make tea cocktails, if I cannot find the flavor.
New tea tasting!
Testing out teas from Lupicia, still working on the trying or sipping down all the samples from Cameron, Skysamurai and a tea book from an importer. With my sensitivity to large amounts of caffeinated tea right now, I am down to 1-2 cups of caffeinated tea a day and sipping down is so slow for actual tea. :’(
Ah! Yum! I can actually taste the melon flavor in this oolong. I was worried all the Lupicia oolongs were going to smell nice but just taste like a normal taiwanese oolong. (I have my preferences for straight Taiwanese oolongs already so, if it’s going to claim to be flavored, I want to be able to tell it’s there.) The melon flavor tastes a lot like honeydew but sometimes the “mustiness” of the oolong makes me think it is closer to a really ripe cantalope. It is a super great combination and I appreciate that the candy gives a little sweetness as well. I would definitely try to make this as a cold brew too. It seems like it would be AMAZING in the summer. In fact, there is a -15 F windchill (actual temp of 0 F) outside right now and I am still in my memories of summer with this tea right now. :)
Total side note on the Lupicia Japan order: To follow up with my previous posting about making a Lupicia Japan order with a forwarding address generated by tenso.com. It all worked fabulously, the shipping total only took 9 days to get from Japan to Minnesota, which is really impressive to me. Now to the important bit, I bought 19 teas (roughly 50g each and 12 of the 19 were in specialty tins so this was a little more expensive than buying just tea) and it totaled to $183.70 (usd). Breakdown was $134.88 usd for the Lupicia (free local shipping after a 6200 yen purchase, which is roughly $47.64 usd) and an additional $48.82 usd for tenso.com’s international shipping fee (no coupons used). I bought the second cheapest shipping choice through DHL which was only like 4 dollars more to potentially save me a 100 days wait. Other than that the instructions in tenso’s emails and faqs were clear enough to help me fill out the japanese address on Lupicia and fill out tenso’s consolidation form (its a digital customs form mainly and took me 3 minutes to fill out). All in all, Japan is actually cheaper than Hawaii if you take into account the conversion rate and free local shipping. I am looking at both sites right now. If you buy (hypothetically speaking) 19 Cookie teas (50g ea) in Japan it is $109.48 with another roughly $50 dollars for shipping through tenso and that is $159.48. If you buy 19 Cookie teas in the Hawaii site it is $180.50 with free shipping and not including taxes. Oddly enough for large orders (not sure about small orders yet) right now, ordering direct through japan is cheaper and pretty dang fast, plus you get ALL the tea choices in Japan (except for other country exclusives).
A lot of my cabinet is lupicia these days so I probably should work at tasting some more of it. This was a sample from one of the importers of lupicia japan. Need to switch to decaf because I was getting a little too buzzed.
Preparation: Western (No additives)
Tasting Note: Looking at this tea bag it had a tiny yellow-cream looking candy in it, makes me wonder if the japan piccolo is different from the US one. Luckily my latest order from Lupicia Hawaii came with a Piccolo tea bag so I can do a comparison later. The photos on the hawaiian site do not have candies pictured but the japan site does, so maybe the ingredients are slightly different?
Anyways, back to the tasting the first few sips hot are roasty surprisingly, there is definitely honey, creaminess and apricot. As the tea cools down to more of a “warm” temp, the tea has more of a strawberry creamy-nutty note and there is a very slight bit more rooibos medicinal note that is apparent. I think overall though the rooibos is still pretty well covered at this point.
Tea bag Sample Sipdown
Much more obviously flavored than Amanatsu Oolong was (not a bad thing it was just much more delicate than I was expecting). The back of the tea bag (in english luckily for me) actually said to cover the tea with a lid while brewing for better tea so I gave that a try for this one. That was actually the first time I have had that instruction on a tea package before.
Preparation: Western (no additives)
Tasting Note: First sip of this was tropical, it had the orange, mango and coconut and something sort of like pineapple. Letting cool for several minutes so where it was more warm it seems like peach takes over which is unexpected. The tea is on the edge of astringent so I wouldn’t have steeped it more.
Typically this less malty, more watery black tea base isn’t my go-to but with the peach, and mango it is really hitting the spot right now. It makes me think of summer and the tropics which is really comforting after the umpteenth day of grey and cold and snow.
I do have to admit that after looking at the Hawaii Lupicia’s website I am very smitten with this tea tin’s design. All the bright blue water and fun tropical fish. It’s really nice. I am going to try hard to not let marketing influence my rating on this one… So I will leave it blank for now. haha.
New Year New Tea Week!
Going to do my best to try as many teas that I have not tried before in my cabinet. This one is a sample that has been sitting in a plastic bag for a few weeks so I am not entirely sure it is as it should be, the smell is definitely not as potent as when I received it.
Tasting Note: Really delicate, floral and refreshing, great tawainese rolled green oolong base. There is a ghost of a tangerine in the aftertaste and frequently fades in and out. I personally wish it was more present as it almost feels as though this isn’t a flavored tea anymore. I may have to try it again with a shorter steep time and a little lower temp. In no way a bad tea, just could do with a little more potent citrus for me. Would potentially try it with gongfu too as that could coax more citrus out.