227 Tasting Notes

78

I steeped the tea and sniffed it only to recoil with an “Oh no! It’s kasha tea!” Kasha is a strong-smelling Eastern-European grain dish that my family makes. My father loves eating kasha mixed with eggs and fried onions and served with a side of pickled herring. (The kasha smells stronger than the onions or the herring.) My husband loves eating plain kasha. (I consider kasha to be a man-dish. One of those strong tasting things that only a man could like.) A few times a year I make kasha for my beloved and then pray for the smell to leave the kitchen soon. Once I made a cinnamon bread at the same time in the hopes that the cinnamon would defeat the kasha. No dice. Nothing defeats kasha. Nothing.

So, here I am sipping the kasha tea, I mean soba-cha. I’m surprised. It tastes good. The tea is roasty and sweet like cereal grains and it makes me feel good to drink it. But it still smells like kasha. I don’t know if I can get over that part. I’m going to share the rest of this tea with my kasha-loving beloved when I get home. Won’t he be surprised and pleased!

Much thanks to takgoti for sharing the experience!

Update: I’ve given my beloved a cup of Soba-Cha and he sniffed it and said, “It smells like kasha” then happily began sipping. He says it is wonderful and a very soothing tea. So I’m upping the rating to acknowledge his liking of the tea.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Leafbox Tea

Is it good to compare a tea to this Kasha???

So this is a hold-you-nose kind of tea…

Pete

Carolyn

The tea smells exactly like kasha and I think it actually is a version of kasha when I note that kasha’s other name is roasted buckwheat groats and this is a roasted buckwheat tea. However, it doesn’t really look like kasha. Kasha has grains about four times the size of the grains of this tea. (This tea’s grains look like they’re the size of aquarium gravel.)

A lot of people like kasha. I think it’s a stinky cereal. However, when my husband comes home and the house smells like kasha he gets more excited than when the house smells like bread. So it is clearly a pleasant smell to him and when I’ve made it for guests they’ve claimed to like the smell (or pretended to).

The problem with kasha is that it really isn’t possible to hold your nose. It has a very penetrating aroma that lasts. When I make kasha the house smells like kasha for a week. This tea isn’t quite so penetrating, but it is very strange to catch a whiff of it and think “kasha”.

Aren’t you in New York? If so, it is easy for you to get a bit of kasha. Just go to your nearest Jewish deli and ask for some kasha (they will almost certainly cook it with egg). Or drop by Nathan’s in Coney Island and get a kasha knish.

Carolyn

OK. I just asked one of my co-workers (male) to sniff my tea. He’s pretty white bread in his tastes so he’s a good test of a normal person. He says it smells delicious and makes his mouth water. This lends more support to my hypothesis that kasha is a guy thing.

sophistre

It’s interesting…I’ve never had kasha, but I’ve had soba. I know that I like soba, but I wonder if the end-product of soba isn’t as aromatic as kasha? I can’t for the life of me recall what it smells like. That’s probably the answer to my question. This one is totally on my shopping list now, though!

DragonWell

I’ve never had kasha or soba-cha, but they both sound great! I’ll have to try it. Thanks.

Carolyn

@sophistre Soba does not smell like Kasha. Soba has a very neutral smell and a slightly nutty taste. If soba and kasha had a cage match, kasha would wipe the floor with the noodle-like soba.

@DragonWell You can have my share of the world-market for kasha. I’m glad it sounds good to you.

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85
drank White Ayurvedic Chai by Teavana
227 tasting notes

Andrea sent me this and I can see why she likes it. It is sweet with a fragrance redolent of cinnamon, cloves, and apple. I can barely taste the white tea base, but it is there and adds its own note. It was a nice calming drink for a difficult afternoon meeting. Thanks, Andrea!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec
sophistre

This one always makes me think of red hots. The candy, I mean. ^^

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50

It’s been a long, somewhat difficult day. So I pulled out this decaf to try tonight in hopes of a calming effect without the caffeine. It has a strong artificial flavor and taste. I guess I don’t really remember what grenadine tastes like. Somehow, in my mind, I thought grenadine tasted like maraschino cherries. I’m probably wrong about that. On the good side, there is very little bitterness to this tea. Every other possible taste is covered up by the strong strange taste that I am assuming is grenadine. Meh.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
takgoti

That’s what it tastes like to me – maraschino cherry juice. Jillian revealed that it’s actually made with pomegranate [part of my brain still refuses to accept that], but I still associate it with cherries.

Jillian

I think it does have sort of a cherry taste but I also get pomegrante flavour out of it too. But it’s very sweet, and very syrupy-tasting.

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32
drank Blend 1776 by Culinary Teas
227 tasting notes

Is one especially patriotic if one drinks 1776 tea in the morning? Or would it have to be drunk on July 4 to get the patriotic points? It is a silly name for a tea.

The ingredients don’t seem to match what I think of when I think of revolutionary history either: strawberry, maple, Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan teas.

None of them are even the teas tossed into Boston Harbor, which consisted of 240 chests of Bohea, 15 of Congou, 10 of Souchong (all black teas), 60 of Singlo, and 15 of Hyson (both green teas). Green tea accounted for about 22% of the shipments’ total volume, and 30% of the value. Now if someone wanted to create a Boston Tea Party blend in honor of the event in 1773, those are the teas to blend.

But I’m delaying telling you about this tea. Either I brewed it too long or it is naturally this bitter. There is a strong strawberry taste similar to Marco Polo. I don’t taste the maple. In truth, I’m not anxious to taste anything more from this tea.

Off to brew something else.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Shanti

Wow, I’ve impressed by your history skills! I’ve never heard of any of those teas, except Souchong. And, now I’m craving a black-green blend.

Carolyn

I’m married to a history professor so any history skills I have are just the product of rubbing against his skills. (Which sounds like it should be more fun than it actually is.)

In this case, I knew that the colonists couldn’t have been using Kenyan tea (because it hadn’t been planted there yet) and knew that the tea of choice in the colonies was Bohea since it makes an appearance in several poems and works of literature from that period. Since I was miffed at the tea for being ahistorical in ways I knew were wrong and for being bitter to me, I just looked up the exact composition of the cargo using the great Google. So I’m less impressive than I might first appear.

Peggie Bennett

Maybe because the colonists were bitter, so the tea blend was bitter? :-)

I’m no historian by any stretch of the imagination. I can’t even remember last week.

teaplz

Carolyn, your explanation of the Boston Tea Party’s shenanigans was awesome. I’ve been wondering what the teas were that were dumped into the harbor for a long time, but I never took the time to research! Thanks for the info!

Auggy

Now I really wish there was a blend reflecting what was actually dumped overboard!

sophistre

Living in Boston myself, I can tell you that the harbor has probably never smelled better than it did that evening in 1773.

Shanti

LOL sophistre! I second that!

Cofftea

Patriotic any day, double points on any US holiday other than July 4th, triple points on July 4th.

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88
drank Cherry Cordial by Culinary Teas
227 tasting notes

This tastes remarkably like a cherry cordial. Or at least it tastes like a cherry cordial if it were coupled with very dark intense chocolate. In the end, I added honey to the tea to take down the slight bitterness of the tea. Just a smidgeon brought out the decadent tastes of chocolate and cherry and satisfied my cravings for the afternoon. Much thanks to Janefan for steering me toward Culinary Teas. If this is indicative of their quality, I think I will be extremely pleased with their teas.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Angrboda

This sounds awesomely yummy. Now you made me want cherry cordial. I think I’ve got some in the fridge…

Carolyn

It is extraordinarily good. I’ve been sniffing my now-empty cup longing for more (but holding myself back).

takgoti

Oooh, that does sound good.

Jillian

Oh man I’m in love with all things cherry, and if they have chocolate in then that’s even better! ;)

Janefan

The one tea I have from them is the Canadian Icewine, which I got from a tea swap. I am going to have to research what else they have and order something. This one sounds good!

Carolyn

@janefan It is quite good. I had it again this morning to ground my fortitude before going to the doctor and it was delightful.

Carolyn

@Jillian You would like this one, then. It has a very strong alcoholic cherry fragrance and taste.

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64

I think I just don’t like this one. The base seems fairly bitter to me and the weird artificial smell and taste just kind of bothers me. I brewed it for only three minutes this time just in case it was the brew time.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Bethany

I really like the concept behind 52teas, but I’ve been disappointed with them. All of their teas scream artifical to me.

TeaEqualsBliss

I hate bananas! Bleh! Enjoyed your review regardless tho! :P

denisend

They depend heavily on “flavors” and I have a hard time with that. I also found that I don’t like Adagio’s flavored teas (though their herbals and chais are fine). I did order their Mandarin Matcha (it has orange sections as well as ‘flavors’) and we’ll see how it goes. My husband gave me a funny look, though.

Alannah

Bethany, I’ve been worried that I’ll feel the same way about 52teas’ blends. I just ordered a few teas from them but I have a feeling they’re not going to be my kind of thing.

Carolyn

@Bethany Some of their teas are really quite good. The Malted Chocomate is superb and the Chocolate Mint is good as well. But I agree that many of them have an uncomfortable artificial flavor.

@denisend I agree with you about Adagios teas. I’m also having trouble with the flavorings in TeaFrog’s teas.

denisend

Carolyn – I’m just starting to get into my TeaFrog teas. I think most of what I have are herbals and greens that don’t have flavorings. I don’t put samples in my ‘cupboard’ so I can’t look it up right now.

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80
drank Organic Sencha by Den's Tea
227 tasting notes

Nice sweet grassy aroma and taste. Brews into a greenish yellow murky liquid. It is soothing.

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

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92

I’m finally beginning to understand what is meant by a tea having a “strong cha ‘Qi’”. I’m normally a pretty thorough rationalist so talk of a tea’s qi just makes me roll my eyes. However, I’m beginning to see that something real is meant. The tea brings a great sense of relaxation, sensuality and feeling of happiness and well-being as I resteep and drink it. I think I understand why PeteG is able to drink puerhs at night without harming his sleep. Perhaps I could with this tea as well.

As I move through the steepings and re-steepings of this tea it develops a sweet, fruity, slightly floral taste. There is a tiny bit of sharpness with a note of resin as well. It has fragrance notes of apricot and lychee and sweet honey. Very nice tea.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec
Angrboda

Aww this sounds yummy with the fruity notes!

takgoti

This sounds so different from pu-erhs I’m accustomed to. I’m going to have to seek out some uncooked stuff. [That’s what this is, right?]

Carolyn

It is quite nice. My favorite is still the Imperial Concubine Aroma puerh but this one is quite delicious. The big difference between this one and the Imperial Concubine is in the relaxing quality this tea has. I’m going to keep this in mind as I head back to work next week and have to deal with stress.

Carolyn

@takgoti Yes, it is labeled as “raw” or “sheng”. My plan is to send you some of the Imperial Concubine Aroma when the large beeng I ordered comes from puerhshop.com in a few days.

takgoti

@Carolyn ♥.

Peggie Bennett

I’m really loving these pu-erhs! I’m resisting going to puerhshop.com though for fear of going broke.

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78

This is definitely not a maidenly tea. The first steeping has notes of musk, cheese, and a surprising bitter bite for a puerh. Subsequent steepings are sweeter.

Update: As I’ve continued on with the re-steeps this tea has transformed into a sweet, floral, slightly peachy tea. It’s very nice.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec
Cofftea

Wait… Whoa… What??? CHEESE?!?!?! Thanks for the teas by the way!=D

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

I love that you personify your teas, btw.

Carolyn

@Cofftea It’s an interesting tea. Puerhs frequently have an odd mixture of tastes and smells. Glad you got the teas safely.

@chrine Thanks! I personify everything actually. My car is named Carmen and she has a distinct personality (including a desire for Lotus Elise as a partner car), my lawn mowing robot is named Lawndo Mowlari and he has a personality. The vacuum cleaner robot is named Vir and he also has a personality. I just named the new Yixing teapot (more on this later). I think I just feel more comfortable in an animistic world.

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

My car is named SunSpot. My husband’s car is The Bunny. Both are girl cars.

All things green

Cheese flavor? Sounds interesting… Did you really only steep it 30 seconds? That’s a lot of punch for 30 secs. Maybe the water was too hot

Carolyn

Hi All things green. Several people have questioned the amount of steep time. I suppose we could ask others about how long they steep their raw puerhs. This is the advice I was given by the tea master I visited in Chicago and it has yielded good results so far. I rinse the tea first in boiled water. Then steep the rinsed leaves for around 30 seconds. If that seems like too little I add more time for the next steep. If too much, I make a note of that and do better next time. I generally end up with a very light steep for the first one and much stronger tea for the subsequent steeps. I note that some people do two rinses instead of one. That might be the right way to go. But for now this seems to be working.

I was surprised by the unexpected cheesy taste in the first steep as well. Puerhs are full of surprises.

Cofftea

@Carolyn, I’m trying my 2nd pu erh tomorrow, but it’s a bag. How do I rise the bag?

Carolyn

@Cofftea People make bagged puerh? I didn’t know that.

Is it a blend of puerh and something else? If it is, I wouldn’t rinse it since then you will lose the other flavors of the blend.

If it is not a blend, then it is fairly simple. What puerh people are calling a “rinse” we would call a quick first steep that you don’t drink. Just submerge the teabag in boiled water. Let it steep for 10-15 seconds. (Don’t get anal about whether it is 10 vs 15 seconds. That really doesn’t matter.) Then toss out the water used for the quick steep. Then do your second steep as if it were the first one. That’s all there is to it. Or you can trust that the teabag puerh people already did a first steep/rinse for you when they made the teabag.

I’m planning to order a full-sized beeng of my favorite raw puerh. It is substantially different than what you have already tried. When it comes in do you want me to send you a bit with instructions for brewing?

Cofftea

@Carolyn, that’d be great! But understand that pu erh still terrifies me lol, so maybe just enough for one serving:) Yeah, I have a bag of Numi’s organic chocolate pu erh. I’m reading the ingredients and while the name of the tea gives absolutely no indication, it seems to be a chocolate chai/spiced pu erh because there is vanilla, cocoa nibs (duh lol), orange peel, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and… uh oh. rooibos. Great, now I’m even more scared of this lol. It does not say anything about rinsing in the steeping instructions.

Carolyn

I wouldn’t rinse a Numi tea. I would trust their tea blender. My experience with cooked puerhs blended with chocolate has been fairly good. So you may like this one. What seems to work best is when the puerh is a small part of the blend and just adds some dark earthiness.

I will be sending you a raw puerh with enough for one or two servings (in single-serving ziplocks) with very good instructions so that you have the best chance of having a good experience with it. You will have to wait until I get my beeng, though.

Cofftea

That’s just fine, I have more than enough tea!:)

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93

This is very nice. It has a sweet honey melon flavor. The liquor is pale yellow moving to golden as the tea resteeps. I’ve resteeped it several times and each time the sweetness and fruitiness are more pronounced. Sometimes it is more like honey. Sometimes the flavor is fruitier.

Update: Apparently 12 resteeps are enough to overwhelm the leaves. My twelfth re-steep was listless and barely flavored. So I’m moving on to another raw puerh.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec
teaplz

I’m loving your pu-erh journey, Carolyn! Even though I’ve only had one cup of it, I find myself craving it. The earthiness is really just nice and comforting.

Carolyn

Interestingly enough, the raw puerhs, which are my favorites, are not earthy at all. They’re sweet and light. I’m beginning to assign puerhs genders and personalities in my childish little mind. (For some reason I anthropomorphize almost everything.)

The dark fermented puerhs are all men. Depending on the flavor profile they are Chinese farmers or warriors or tea merchants moving along the Tea Horse Road.

The raw puerhs are women. The muskier ones are knowing matrons. The light, sweet ones are delicate little teenagers hiding behind a screen. My puerh mind is being populated by an entire society of puerh people. Don’t tell PeteG. I’m sure that this is not the approved method of puerh appreciation. ;)

I find it interesting that most of the companies that sell puerhs as part of a bunch of other types of tea primarily sell the very masculine fermented puerhs.

Cofftea

“I’m beginning to assign puerhs genders and personalities in my childish little mind.” [email protected], as a person who loves tea blending I’m curious as to if a feminine tea would blend better w/ a masculine tea than another femanine tea? <>suddenly wants to make a tea Punnet Square<>

Carolyn

@Cofftea I don’t know that I would blend a masculine puerh with a feminine puerh. I think the masculine tastes would completely mask the light tastes of the raw, feminine puerh. But, as we already know, I’m really not a tea blender by personality. Would you blend a white tea with a black tea? It would be like that, I think.

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Bio

I’m a suddenly enthusiastic tea aficionado. I had no idea how varied and delicious teas could be. Also I’m a dairy-free vegetarian, so if you see me say “cream” or “milk” it means soy milk or soy cream.

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