792 Tasting Notes

72

Reblend

While the Christmas theme, coupled with the IKEA association (lignonberries), makes me view this tea more favourably, I’d enjoy it more if it had a more exciting green base. The wintery fruit flavours are tasty, and like something that aforementioned company would be proud to sell.

…But Chinese sencha is the bane of my flavoured green tea-filled existence, and my feelings are torn (when my “non-tea” friends claim they hate green tea I swear they are getting some of their biases from an oversteeped batch of generic straight Chinese Sencha).

Edit: To clarify, the recommended steeping parameters fit this tea perfectly and there is no bitterness- just lots of veggies. The parenthesis is more a reflection towards my experiences with Chinese Sencha in general, which have made me a tad jaded and not just a little bitter in person.

Flavors: Berries, Pear, Vegetal

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec
52Teas

For my earliest tea drinking days when I would look unfavorably toward green teas, the ones that would come to mind were young hyson and dragon well, believe it or not. I had very bad experiences with both of these teas and I have since come to the conclusion that it wasn’t so much the tea type as it was the person brewing the tea. (In other words: me.) Back then I was very ill-educated about how to properly brew a green tea – I didn’t understand that water temperature was so important and I also didn’t understand that you should be mindful of tea brewing time. I never used to set a timer back then – I was always just like, yeah, it seems like it’s been 2 minutes or 3 minutes or whatever. I have learned from the error of my ways and have come to appreciate both the aforementioned teas.

The main reason I chose the Chinese Sencha here is because it’s a reblend and I wanted to kind of stick to the recipe. The reason I use it in other blends is that it really depends upon what I’m blending – Chinese Sencha does have a nice buttery note to it that works well in flavors where I want some creaminess. I personally like Chinese Sencha – but your criticism of it is definitely noted. :)

CrowKettle

I think you’re spot on with that assessment on why many people struggle with green tea. Before I had a temperature variant kettle, steeping the more temperamental green tea varieties sometimes resulted in a few putrid cups- all my fault. Coincidentally, Dragon Well and Young Hyson were the teas that made me start to appreciate straight green tea. However, I probably would never have gotten that far if it weren’t for flavoured Chinese Sencha teas like this one.

I appreciate your explanation for choosing Chinese Sencha. I’m sorry if my criticism came off as harsh, or seemed like an attack on 52Teas and your suggested steeping parameters. I have a lot of respect for your blends, and my general apathy towards Chinese Sencha is personal and originates from overexposure to it. 52Teas is probably the only company I’d consider taking a chance with this tea base.

Now that I think of it, your Lime Jello Salad also has Chinese Sencha and it’s one of my favourite flavoured green teas. Maybe I prefer this base iced/cold steeped, and probably should’ve tried that method with this one. As for this particular tea, if you ever reblend it with a different base I’d probably be the first in line to buy some; I enjoyed the flavouring quite a bit. :)

52Teas

No – I didn’t take it as harsh criticism – but I did want to offer an explanation as to why I do select Chinese Sencha when I do. Chinese Sencha is kinda like Ceylon in that it’s the ‘go to’ tea when someone is crafting a flavored tea. I have been trying to put more thought into the blends rather than reach immediately for the Sencha (or any other tea automatically) and try to think of what tea would best suit the flavor I’m trying to accomplish.

I appreciate your input so I thank you! I didn’t feel like I was being attacked at all, I just wanted to clarify. The Lime Jello is crafted with a Chinese Sencha (or was) – perhaps I might toy around with it the next time I reblend it – although Lime Jello is one of my all time favorites as well so maybe it’s better NOT to mess with it.

CrowKettle

Your willingness to experiment with blends and tea bases is what I love about the new 52Teas. It makes me much more eager to try all of your different offerings; even if I didn’t like a particular flavour profile or tea base on a previous occasion, there’s a good chance I may like it in a new reiteration. I’m actually sitting here sipping away at another one of your green blends (Pineapple Peach), which uses an interesting tea from the Satemwa Estate. It’s a lovely contrast in versatility with this Pear tea.

Lime Jello Salad is a prime example of me loving something made up of components I typically dislike. I would love to try a bunch of experimental variations of Lime Jello (that would be fun), but that’s because I’m already a big fan of the original with Chinese Sencha.

Thank you for commenting and providing such thoughtful explanations. I know a lot goes into the creation of each blend and trust your judgment. The stars may need to be aligned precisely so for me to personally love a blend with Chinese Sencha, but I appreciate that it has its own niche in the tea world and respect when you choose to use it. The same goes for Ceylon, CTC, Honeybush and Hojicha- I generally shy away from these but you and a few other tea blenders have done some wonderful and adventurous things with all of them.

Evol Ving Ness

Hear, hear! Totally agree.

52Teas, I appreciate so much you taking the time to unwrap your approaches and rationale with creations. I may not always have something to say in response, but I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and expertise. It gives me something to sit with, experiment with, and mull over, and ultimately, appreciate teas even more. So, thank you.

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78

I’m lost when it comes to steeping green oolong. There are so many different methods and parameters (western, traditional, and hybrid) spread across companies for similar to exact same types of oolong, that I don’t know where to begin. I’ve steeped this type of oolong at near boiling for 1min with pretty awesome results, and I’ve also done the same temp and amount for 20s for an equally fine cup. Most commonly, I see a 3min steep at about 90C, which is a coin’s toss for how it works out for me.

Life is hard.

Anyways, Camellia Sinensis recommends a rinse, and then a 4-5min steep at 95C. That never worked for me; I found it made the cup overly vegetal, on the verge of being sour.

For my very last serving I decided to follow a 20s steep time, with a touch and go, 1min range increase after the third steep, and this solved the aforementioned problems I had with this tea. I found that the liquidized floral-sweet qualities and the milk-nut notes of the cup were given more room to breath and take on a silky texture. The marine note I noticed the first few times all but disappeared.

Too bad I hadn’t steeped it like that from the beginning! It makes that that $12/50g tempting, indeed.

Steep Count: 4

(2016 Harvest)

Flavors: Dandelion, Flowers, Honey, Honeysuckle, Milk, Nuts

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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89

This was the second lovely sample I received from Mandala. I was a little sulky when, a couple days after I placed my order, they added this as a tea (that description)! I would’ve ordered it instead of the random puerh I ended up going with (edit: looking for Special Dark replacements- Noble Mark is still around and Noble Dark doesn’t exist… yet).

First and second steeps exceed expectations, with a creamy and silky profile and a touch of high grade dark chocolate (traces of earth, nuts, berries). Mandala description says later steepings have notes of brown sugar but I get hints of that now. The aftertaste reminds me slightly of dark chocolate covered acai/blueberry jellies. These flavours mellow out as it cools, becoming simply milky with an earthy dark chocolate finish.

Third steep was equally perfect.

Fourth steep was ditto (this was from last night so I may have been half asleep and missed the development).

Steep Count: 4 + a rinse

Flavors: Berries, Brown Sugar, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Milk

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

is noble dark gone too?!

Sil

er well noble mark…since i’m guessing you meant special dark + noble mark?

CrowKettle

Oh, dear, no! Noble Mark is still around; I even bought some with this order. Sorry for the heart attack >.>

CrowKettle

Tea typo of the month

Sil

haha way to give me a heart attack thinking i had to horde noble mark too!

mrmopar

Been aiming to brew this one up too. Still airing a bit.

CrowKettle

This tea layperson looks forward to your insight and observations on this one, mrmopar! I love and respect your thoughtful tea notes.

Sil, I’m so envious of your Special Dark horde- I always have the worst luck when I try to stock up. Also, how do you only have 39 teas? Is that for real? (+200 teas is permanently burned into my mental image of a Sil cupboard)

Sil

Yeah. Down to 39….and 2/3 of that is Pu’er. By weight like 3/4 is Pu’er lol

CrowKettle

pu’er layperson: it’s probably my least explored tea type.

That’s impressive (both in cupboard size and pu’er ratios)! If you’re going to horde, why not it be something that takes aging well? I always make the mistake of trying to horde green tea and the results are sad.

Sil

here’s hoping i don’t eff up the tea while they languish in my cupboard.. heh

CrowKettle

I’m sure it will be alright! I have a tea cake (Wild Monk Sheng 2012) that’s been sitting in my cupboard for +6 years, unopened, and I worry when I remember about it too :/

Sil

i have 2 of those and a 2014 version haha. At this point it’s a sunk cost so if i screwed it up…well that’s a learning experience

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70

Four Season oolongs and ginseng will never be my favourite things, but this is still a nice tea to pull out when I want something green, clean, and vegetal. I’m placing it into the “when I’m sick” category.

If there is anything interesting going on with the base oolong I’m not picking it up. The ginseng is the Boss here.

Steep Count: 4

Flavors: Apple, Cucumber, Earth, Fruity, Menthol, Mineral, Vegetal

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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92

I may possibly cave and order from the same company in one month, just for this tea. It’s not every day that I fall this passionately in love with the free samples; it’s the rice and the creamy-smooth ripe pu’er.

Steep Count: 4

Edit: This is an incredibly forgiving tea. I completely over-steeped my third cup but it retained it’s smooth and rich profile. The sweet and nutty components were amplified a lot- almost to the point where it became a little like peanut butter. I still like the shorter steeps though, as you get a longer session with a decent amount of flavour per cup.

Flavors: Butter, Camphor, Cream, Earth, Nuts, Peanut, Toasted Rice

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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92

Mandala must have read my mind when they sent this as a freebie. They recently stocked up on a bunch of new and intriguing teas that I was sure they would promote, so I hoped. Thank you for delivering on my hopes, Mandala!

And just as I thought, this one is for me. Apparently, all rice scented teas are for me (marry me, Nuo Mi Xiang Herb), but this one is particularly rich, sweet, and earthy. At one point in the first steep I received the impression of roasted honey-covered nuts. Also, it made my whole kitchen smell like deliciousness, and paired well with ALL the food.

I still love my Thailand ‘Jin Xuan’ Sticky Rice Oolong from What-Cha, but it would be nice to have a darker and bolder rice tea for the colder months ahead. I shall drink this tea like a hand-knitted blanket by the hearth on a snow day (it’s that level of cozy).

Will reorder more, ASAP.

Steep Count: 4, after a short rinse.

Flavors: Butter, Camphor, Earth, Nuts, Toasted Rice

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Garret

I’m so happy you are enjoying this! I had created this blend for a local coffeehouse. They had been getting a rice scented mini-tuocha from me and went through a lot of it. When I made the ripe blend that is the base of this blend, I got an organic source for the rice scented herb and experimented with them together, varying the proportion of tea to herb until I arrived at what you have. Now, I’m hooked and the two other coffee places want this tea for their mix. It’s so good. Thank you for ordering, thank you for drinking and thank you for writing up your thoughts!

Grateful,
Garret

CrowKettle

Your backstory for this tea made my day! You’re local coffee places are lucky to have such a stellar tea supplier and blender to source from. Thank you for sharing this lovely tea with me and your customers!

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95
drank Milk Oolong Tea by Mandala Tea
792 tasting notes

Currently trying this tea for the first time and having a deeply religious experience.

Brb

Steep Count: 6

Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Cream, Mango, Milk, Popcorn, Toffee

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Rosehips

Ha! Its been a long time since I was so profoundly moved by a tea. I’m glad its happening to you!

tperez

It’s ridiculously good! The only flavored tea I’ve ever really liked

CrowKettle

Drinking this makes me wonder why I’d ever drink other flavoured teas. They all fail in comparison. XD

@Rosehips, I haven’t felt this way about tea in a long time either. Here’s hoping you also stumble on a swoon-worthy tea again, sooner than later!

Garret

Yay! There’s a reason it is one of our top sellers. I am truly happy that you are enjoying it. Thank you.

Grateful,
Garret

Garret

One more thing: Did I happen to send a sample of the Jin Xuan oolong with your order? I’d be curious what you think of the comparison betweent the scented one (as reviewed above) and the unscented one (Jin Xuan).

CrowKettle

You did not, but I did receive two new pu’er samples from you, both of which I’ve greatly enjoyed! I’ll add it to the ever-growing shopping list for next time though. :)

ashmanra

Guess I need to place a Mandala order!

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86

This is practically the only time of year I almost exclusively drink lots of tea with milk, so it is with great sadness that I must prematurely mark this one as a sipdown. The bergamot and I were just starting to create a psychic connection (I was aware of it’s presence and location in the house at all times, across vast distances).

I guess I’ll have to cozy up to the other Cream of Earl Grey in my cupboard for a while, but it feels like a betrayal bordering on bergamot sacrilege.

Flavors: Bergamot, Cream, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Yeah, I really really enjoyed my fling with dairy and it was especially lovely in Earl Greys and Earl Grey Creams.

Fjellrev

Me too, flavourite black tea with milk is the best once the weather cools down, especially EGC.

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Blargh.

This is what I’ve become. I’m at the point where I want to wash my sinuses out with magical eucalyptus.

Steep Count: 3

Flavors: Berries, Citrus, Eucalyptus, Mint

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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86

Long ago, I had a bad experience with Dong Ding. It was from David’s Tea, and all I can remember is that I was incredibly unimpressed by it- so much so that I actively avoided buying any Dong Ding Oolong again.

Cue right now, where I’m internally grateful it was a part of my mass oolong sample order from Teavivre. My dead head and my deader stomach take up this fruit punch aroma like a peace offering. The flavour profile is akin to a vegetal lemon cream dessert- which is another reminder to me that it’s been a while since I’ve had some proper Vitamin C food. I would kill for a grapefruit or orange right now. No more junk food. Food illness sucks.

Another food this reminds me of is the Lemon Zest Sunflower Kale Spaghetti I sometimes make when I want vegetables and calories in a pinch. Maybe that should go back on the meal plan.

Steep Count: 5

(2016 harvest, I think)

Flavors: Cream, Fruit Punch, Lemon, Mineral, Mint, Spinach

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Lemon Zest Sunflower Kale Spaghetti

This sounds like an amazing thing.

Evol Ving Ness

And thankfully, I have had stellar experiences with Dong Ding oolong. May they continue.

CrowKettle

I think I need to do some intensive exploring, to make up for lost time. Have you tried this one yet

CrowKettle

And, yeah, it’s a pretty good and easy to make dish! I lack culinary skills, so when a spaghetti or stir fry recipe comes along that tastes great AND is balanced I cling onto it like a lifeline.

Evol Ving Ness

No, I haven’t tried this one yet by this particular company.

tperez

Dong Ding can be really good! I remember Tea Ave’s being especially nice, but it’s a bit pricey.

Evol Ving Ness

I remember a nice one from Janet’s Special Teas as well.

CrowKettle

After thoroughly enjoying their debut samples a few years ago, I keep meaning to revisit Tea Ave and check out their store front. Those prices though!

Janet’s another reason I need to make a trip to the island again!

Evol Ving Ness

Quite pleased with my purchases from Janet’s overall.

Tea Ave sounds fab. I have yet to try their teas. As for prices, well, oolong, yanno.

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Profile

Bio

I started my Steepster loose leaf adventure back in 2012. I can’t say I’m completely new anymore, but I still view oolong as a magical, extraterrestrial creature that unfurls in water.

White teas, roasted/fired green teas, and the not so roasted green oolong varieties are my favourites. I enjoy the odd shu puerh too.

Currently looking for the most buttery and sweet green oolong I can find.

Ingredients/flavours I enjoy (in moderation): anise, butter, caramel, cedar, cream, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, lemon, lilac, lime, maple, marshmallow leaves, melon, mint, orchid, pine, rice, rose, vanilla.

Ingredients/flavours I tend to dislike: apple, cocoa nibs, licorice, marine, peach, stevia

Subjective Rating System 2.0:

91-100: My absolute favourite tea. Will impulsively buy and hoard like a dragon.

86-90: A favourite tea. May have quality flaws that I choose to ignore.

76-85: A lovely tea, maybe of high quality or masterful blending, but not one I’m likely to order again.

70-75: Enjoyable, but I may have few minor problems with quality, consistency, ingredient chemistry and/or personal preferences.

50-69: Quality, consistency, blending, or personal preference problems are apparent, but I wouldn’t pass up a cup.

11-49: Varying levels of undrinkable tea. I don’t give a lot of these ratings out, since I tend to grab teas I know will appeal to me.

1-10: Nightmare tea from the chaos realms. This is last year’s low-grade bancha mixed with rancid coconut, stale cocoa nibs, over-enthusiastic hibiscus, and stevia sweetener. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist.

Location

BC, Lower Mainland

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