239 Tasting Notes
I received this bag of tea from a tea swap (well it ended up being a tea swap) on reddit. Between the purple wrapper and the fact that my husband got to haul out his rusty German for the translating, I knew this was going to be fun.
These artificial flavors are really taking me back to my childhood lately. This bag smelled like that 80s and 90s grape flavor that was everywhere until manufacturers started realizing that no one but I liked grape flavored things.
Brewing it up, and it’s red. Red red. I’m pretty sure this is an herbal tea from the smell and color, but my first taste pretty much confirms it. Although there is no cranberry in this tea according to what I looked up, I’m pretty sure I’ve just brewed up a cup of hot Ocean Spray unsweetened cranberry juice, complete with the sour dryness on the back of the palate that you get when you drink unsweetened cranberry juice.
Some sugar fixed me right up, and now I’m happily sipping away at my hot cranberry juice. There aren’t a lot of non-caffeinated teas that I like, but this is surprisingly one of them.
Flavors: Astringent, Cranberry, Fruit Punch, Grapes, Pleasantly Sour
Starting to identify some Steepster links to Liquid Proust’s puerh samples, so here’s another one.
The dry leaves smell pretty similar to the Misty Peaks I tried the day before—like raisins—but the flavored of the brewed tea is much deeper tasting. The cake sample was much looser, so maybe the extra space between the leaves allowed the flavor to develop faster? Anyway, it was a perfect tea to break in my new tea pets, Bessie and Fred.
Same deal as last time: alternated 190º and 170º with different steeping times from 30 seconds down to a straight pour through. Unlike the Misty Peaks, the flavor didn’t seem to change with the steepings; it just got stronger or weaker.
The flavor of the tea was grassy with a little astringency and bitterness, slightly sweet, and a flavor I can’t really identify. Something savory—the word “sausage” keeps popping into my head, but it doesn’t really taste like a sausage, so I don’t know where THAT’s coming from. Perhaps that’s best left to the psychologists to figure out. Maybe this is umami? I lack the experience to know for sure. Anyway, it’s nice and enjoyable.
I enjoyed this tea best at its first and strongest steeping.
Flavors: Grass, Sweet, Umami
This was an interesting experience courtesy of Liquid Proust’s grab bag, one that reminded me I needed more training on how to break up an especially tight chunk of cake. The dry leaf smells nice—like raisins. After the rinse, they smell like honey, raisins, and hay.
I alternated 190º and 170º with different steeping times from 30 seconds down to a straight pour through. As the steep time got shorter and shorter, the flavor developed from a honey-hay with slight bitterness and astringency to toasty to completely vegetal with no bitterness. I would say that the last, shortest, lowest steep had a velvety quality, but at that point, the back of my palate had begun to tingle, so that might have had something to do with it. Is that qi that everyone is talking about?
This was a pleasant tea, but I still think it was a little greenish for me to truly love.
Flavors: Hay, Honey, Toasty, Vegetal
When I was a kid, back in the 90s, there was this Extra gum flavor that came in a dark magenta wrapper. It’s here on the bottom row in the middle:
THAT is what this tea tasted like to me. Exactly. It took me back to my childhood, that’s for sure. The smell on the leaf was pretty strong, but it is luckily much weaker in taste once the tea is brewed. It was still a little too strong for me, though.
This tasted like it should be called “juicy cherry blast” or something similar. I didn’t get much of the green tea underneath, mostly a flowery, cherry flavor. This probably wasn’t the best choice for me today, as I’ve been preferring teas with a “plainer” flavor, but it’s definitely something I would reach for on a day I’m craving something fruity. I’d probably rate this a bit higher on one of those days.
I think this tea would probably be great iced.
Flavors: Artificial, Cherry, Fruit Tree Flowers
I was out in Dublin today and wanted to try some tea brewed by a “professional,” so I stopped into Tehku Tea Company to try my first gyokuro, which I had heard was good for people who like milk oolong because of its buttery flavor.
I have to say I wasn’t impressed with the smell of the leaves. I have to remember now that smell doesn’t necessarily reflect the flavor. Because…wow. Just wow. It tastes exactly like this havarti cheese I have at home. It’s strong, buttery, earthy, beany, mushroomy, and at times a little tiny bit of bitterness. Why is this so amazing?
Flavors: Beany, Butter, Earth, Mushrooms
This was one of the samples in Liquid Proust’s puerh grab bag. I didn’t look it up beforehand, so I wasn’t sure if it was a sheng or shou. Here are my notes from a couple of days ago:
This MUST be a shou. The leaves have that slightly fishy, oceany smell, which some people seem to mind a lot, but I don’t. It definitely wasn’t strong like it is in other minis I’ve tried. The cake was SO much easier to break up than the others I’ve tried from LP, so I only had to rinse it once before everything was separated nicely. After a rinse, I was ready to go.
Flavors on the first brew, at 200º and 30 seconds: sweet oaky, tangy, leather, oceany, and shou flavor…I’m not sure how to describe that yet. There’s no bitterness or astringency, even after some longer 45 second steeps at 212 º. Some people don’t like this flavor, but I kind of do. Heavens knows what that says about my taste in teas.
I’m hoping to get this flavor from an aged sheng, but mellower. Does that happen? Experience will tell I suppose.
Flavors: Leather, Oak wood, Ocean Air, Sweet, Tangy, Wet Wood
This tea makes me want to put on a kilt! Or maybe that’s because of how strong I brewed it. Very malty, very bitter, very black, and very strong. It’s the way I like my black teas. I think it would stand up well to a bit of sugar and milk, which is how I usually take my breakfast teas. It might even beat out Brodie’s for my go-to in the morning!
Flavors: Bitter, Malt, Peat, Pleasantly Sour
I didn’t really like the smell of this tea, which is a decent indicator that I’m not going to like it, but my mother loves Thai tea and insisted that I try it. I should have known better: she and I don’t have the same taste in anything!
First of all, the odor: anise seed and sweetened condensed milk. It’s overpowering. Of course it doesn’t help that I despise anise.
Once brewed, it tastes like a very strong black tea, very bitter, but no astringency. That was actually pretty nice. The smell doesn’t really come through as strongly in the flavor, but I still have to smell the cup every time I take a sip. Once I stop sipping, that sweet, condensed milky flavor comes up the back of the throat and through the nose. It’s actually a little pleasant.
I would recommend this tea if you like these flavors and a strong, black tea taste. It would actually have been a rather pleasant experience were it not for the anise, which I can’t blame it for.
Flavors: Anise, Bitter, Milk, Sweet, Tea
Let me begin by saying that I don’t have a lot of experience with rooibos. I WAS going to try another one of Liquid Proust’s puerh samples (which I haven’t been posting because I’m not 100% sure which tea to link to), but the day got away from me. 6PM is a little late to start a caffeinated 8-15 cup marathon, especially after having 4 shots of espresso today. Anyway, on to the tea.
I like the first taste of this tea. The underlying rooibos seems to come through well, and the flavoring hits your tongue more like a chocolate chip cookie than pure chocolate. The smell is very pleasant too—again, more like a chocolate chip cookie. It’s warm and comforting, and it makes me wonder what it would taste like with a little milk.
But then, I swallow. And then those natural (or unnatural, as the case may be) flavorings coat the back of my palate. It tastes almost like one of those fake sugars. I don’t know if there are any artificial sweeteners in this tea, as the website doesn’t mention ingredients, but it hits the velum like a sweet n’ low.
It’s a shame, because this tea had started out so well.
Flavors: Artificial, Butter, Chocolate, Cookie, Rooibos, Sugar, Tea
Sat down with LiquidProust yesterday to try my first sheng. We tried just about every brewing time known to man, so I feel like I got the full spectrum of what this tea can be. I also got a great lesson in playing with a tea to coax different flavors out of it.
Vegetable was the overarching flavor of this tea, no matter what temperature it was brewed at—specifically zucchini. When we did a longer steep on the leaves, it was unsurprisingly bitter. We did a couple of sessions where we let the water run straight through leaves and into the pot, and that was where the jasmine notes really shone through. After letting these short steeps cool a little, I got the slightest hint of a sweetness.
Overall, the flavor was pleasant, but not the darker, roastier, fermentier, deeper flavors I am used to. I think I’m still on the fence between simply liking and loving these “greener” teas. Time and experience will tell.
A HUGE “thank you” to LiquidProust for taking the time and the tea out of his schedule to come and educate me on puerh. I look forward to trying the others.
Flavors: Jasmine, Sweet, Vegetal, Zucchini