949 Tasting Notes
Before I start I have to come clean with something: I don’t like strawberry things. Weird, eh? I also have the worst hand at steeping black teas and avoid them for their astringency.
Already, the strawberry scented Marco Polo and I look to be in a doomed relationship but that’s not the case. Oddly enough, I find this tea to be delicious. I’m not even sure the “strawberry” tag is right- it’s more of an impression of many syrupy fruits. It reminds me of dark chocolate dipped strawberries, which I do like, or even of a cherry jam filled black forest cake. There are fruity and creamy components but the base is ultimately dark and strong. It’s nice to have a dessert tea that doesn’t scrap the “tea” part or isn’t masked over with sugar additives.
My cup today started out hot and astringent, to warm and floral, and then lukewarm with a finishing aftertaste of fruity chocolate. My now empty cup smells like caramel. It’s a complex tea and I can’t do it justice.
Side note: I received this as a gift, along with three other teas, from a friend who came over for a wedding. I’m chocked that Mariage Frères isn’t more readily available where I live but grateful for the experience.
I love the tart flavour of hibiscus and usually rejoice to see its random presence on the ingredients list but I have to admit that I’m baffled as to why it would be included in a white tea blend. Hibiscus has such a strong flavour that it doesn’t leave much breathing room for the Bai Mu Dan or the white peony. That’s my sole complaint.
Where the “tea-ish-ness” is lacking the delicious juicy fruit factor is not. The fruit medley is reminiscent of sour fruit gummies, or of a SunRipe fruit bar- which often has similar ingredients, but neither are as refreshing as Indian Summer. The hibiscus, when coupled with the cherry and lemongrass, creates a citrine sour cherry endnote that I adore. The apple-carrot combo and watermelon are cooling sweet “breaks” in the tartness. The blend is at its best when cooled or iced. I’m still searching for the pumpkin and fig. I’ll have to check the dry leaves to make sure I’m actually getting any in my steeper. It’s like a fruit scavenger hunt!
My third Dragonwell batch (or fourth, if I count my Mighty Leaf baggy). Steeped the same way as my A&D cup, it’s already smells more vegetative and roasted than the others.
First steep: I’m picking up a hint of astringency. My mouth is puckering ever so slightly leaving a dry sensation- that’s different! The buttery moistness that I experienced from Dragonwell in the past is still vaguely there but it’s not as prevalent as I would like it to be. If I do some funny things with my mouth the nuttiness really comes out though. I want to say “walnuts” but that isn’t quite right. Second steep and it remains dry and nutty but with an added melting mellowness. So much better.
The tea exhibits basic Dragonwell characteristics yet still tastes and feels so dramatically different from the other cups of Dragonwell I’ve tried! Am I imagining it? I was sad at first to see that it wasn’t as buttery as the others but I think the dry nutty flavour is growing on me.
This was my second time exploring Dragonwell. I’m somewhat of a lost cause when it comes to distinguishing and describing minor tastes differences but, surprisingly, I can, a bit, here. Where my other Dragonwell was absurdly buttery this one has almost a light roasted appeal. That’s not to say it doesn’t have buttery qualities but they are not overly exaggerated and more in a nut oil sense instead of a “melting leaf” fashion. It has a fuller body flavour which is pleasant in its own right.
I over-steeped this cup by a few seconds so there is some slight astringency but it still tastes rather fine. This kind of tea is so smooth that I can loose track of time and still get a drinkable cup, as long as the water isn’t too hot.
At the end of summer I did some major reflecting and came to the conclusion that I didn’t know (and still don’t know) my straight teas very well. I vowed that I would make a noticeable effort to search out and compare “noteworthy” teas and learn how to brew them properly. I randomly decided to start with the accessible Dragonwell. I bought this brand, some from Silk Road, and a bag from Mighty Leaf, and… then I ran out of money. It’s a testament to this type of tea that, despite unintentional abuse on my part, all three of my “specimens” came out tasting yummy.
With the international shipping cost this Dragonwell was undoubtedly the most expensive. I was really nervous as I had never heard of this company except for word of mouth here on Steepster. I still don’t know what possessed me to try this as my first tea from Andrews & Dunham but I don’t regret the decision.
This is an insanely buttery green. Have you ever had boiled green veggies so soft and natural that they feel like they are melting in your mouth while performing serenades across your tongue? If yes, then you have a vague understanding of what this tea is like. It’s so soothingly creamy and invigoratingly awesome that it leaves me in a stupor. I feel unworthy reviewing it. When it runs out I’ll be sad for I fear I’m too cheap to order more of something that is limited anyways. I will always cherish the time I had with you, flirty buttery tea. There are a lot of pretty green leaves stuffed in the tin so that is slightly consoling.
So I finally stopped eating this blend like a sickeningly sweet trail mix and steeped it. When I was ever so elegantly chomping away on the blend it was the dates that really dominated everything. That is why my first sip gave me quite the surprise! No longer did it taste like fruity, syrupy chaos but a light oily banana thing which, if I pushed my imagination to the limit, I could envision being sort of “bready”..
It’s fascinating how the dates and nuts blend with the banana to make a powerful banana chips tea. It’s a different kind of banana from the Dulce Banana or Banana oolong teas. It leaves my mouth feeling like I have just eaten moist bread but without the crumbs and physical thickness. Not bad lukewarm. The dates make it very sweet. It does remind me vaguely of last year’s carrot cake, however, which I’m not the biggest fan of. Maybe not a keeper but a different and fun experience, for sure.
I’ll keep it short since I didn’t like this one overly much and never had the chance to try it iced. It tastes a bit like diluted pineapple water with additives instead of real sugar. I can taste and smell subtle vegetative bamboo but it’s not enough to make this herbal brew stand out. I’m not a huge fan of the softness of peach-flavoured beverages so that may have also been a factor. It is a nice “soft” fruity, light drink, especially as it cools down, but I was hoping for more personality. It needs something.
Oh, wow! it’s been ages (read as: two months) since I’ve made anything of my meager existence here! Since this is my first post in a while I felt the occasion should be marked with an “antiquated” tea: Buttercream.
It’s been near exactly a year since this tea made it’s debut and I still have half a tin. That’s not to say I’ve been unable to finish it out of dislike- to the contrary! I’ve been hoarding it in wait of the returning winter and now the time has finally arrived to awaken it from it’s long slumb…ok, maybe that’s taking it to indulgent extremes.
To the point, Buttercream smells like sweetened mangoes, chamomile, and unicorns. The liquid is a charming light gold and has a distinct buttery (almost greasy) creaminess to it akin to the tea’s namesake. It feels strange to call Buttercream a tea when the chamomile and its’ fruit allies are stealing the show. Whatever kind of white tea is in this is vastly overshadowed, although some of the floral sweetness may be attributed to the leaves. The white tea is more apparent in some steeping than in others.
I have fond memories of drinking this outside, on the front steps, after I’d finished raking the leaves and being perplexed as to how the delicious drink that tastes like icing and cake filling doesn’t also look like icing. Very puzzling, very indulgent. I miss eating the thumb sized mango pieces in the blend.
Well, here’s another Earl Grey, vamped up for olfactory purposes, from Silk Road. Instead of a crazy orange scent it’s crazy vanilla that comes wafting from the tin. It’s strong but I can still smell the underlying bergamot whereas I couldn’t with the Canton Orange tea (I’m still chocked and wanting some oranges). Anyways, I’d like to think I was more prepared for a plain old cup of Earl Grey this time.
Straight, this tastes like a typical astringent cup of Earl Grey, lightly flavoured with vanilla. The magic starts when the milk is added. It’s so very smooth and creamy with only a hint of bold citrus- reminding me of a squeeze of lemon accentuating a rich sauce. This tea really lives up to its name sake.
I can’t wait to have this as a latté and when it starts to get cooler. Now I know why the London Fog was never in stock when I went to go try it last winter.
Mmm… This smells so delicious! When my judgement was based solely on the aroma I thought this was going to be a fun, funky flavoured tea. It smells fiery and “orange-y”.. ok, that word looks a little awkward but there’s a lot of orange to it.
I was a little on guard when a fellow shopper volunteered that, in fact, this was an Earl Grey and the best one she claimed to have ever had. I was not expecting that whatsoever! And yes, the slogan for this tea reads “Absolutely Earl Grey”. Shocker. In my small experiences, Earl Grey teas are simple and generic and definitely not capable of giving me the impression these leaves did. After finding all of that out I was very curious to go home and “run some tests” with it. When steeped the damp leaves still retain their high citrus notes but that standard “Grey” smell kicks in. It also has that very same standard overall taste.
I’ll admit I’m a bit disappointed despite the “warning”- that awesome orange citrus smell was such an exciting build-up to the most amazing orange tea I would never have… but for an Earl Grey this is a very impressive specimen. It has enjoyable tart and smoky hints- keeping it simple but with a twist. When I finally get over the leaves I’ll be able to say that this is a fine cup of Earl Grey.