792 Tasting Notes
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
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
Flavors: Dandelion, Flowers, Honey, Honeysuckle, Milk, Nuts
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
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
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
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
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
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