659 Tasting Notes
Gadzooks! Despite its age and having moved with me at least twice before I finally tried it, this is an astonishingly good tea. I picked it out of my cabinet because I was in the mood for a good green but sencha felt like too much work. I thought it was a green based on the name and some vague memory, but the leaves are rolled into tight little balls like an oolong, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. After brewing this in my glass gong fu teapot (2 tsps, 4 oz, boiling water per instructions, 90 seconds), I let it cool for a bit while I read the new Black Panther. Has anyone else been following this? It’s quite interesting, though I have some qualms about the way it seems to be using the trope of man-hating lesbians (hint: there’s really no good way to use this trope, especially when those are the only LGBTQ+ people in the storyline). Anyway, I was engrossed in the book and absentmindedly reached for the tea. And this tea is so good that it knocked me out of the book. I barely even have tasting notes because I gulped it down so fast. It’s green and vegetal and glorious. Green beans with a hint of sweetness that lingers on the palate. Ever so slightly dry, but in a way that fits with and accentuates the vegetal notes. Just… wonderful. I’m reminded that Stacy had a knack for finding great straight teas in addition to her serious blending talent. We miss you, Stacy!
Sipdown! I don’t remember whether I got this as a sample from the company or as part of a swap, so I’m sending out a general thanks and hoping the right person gets it.
Honestly, today’s generally rough for me. I managed to get out of bed and putter around for a few hours but now I’m back. Luckily, my tea tray fits perfectly on my nightstand. I have been drinking good teas but having trouble focusing on them. This one managed to cut through the fog when a delightful floral scent wafted up as I poured from brewing vessel to pitcher. This smells and tastes like jasmine and lavender and rolling fields of heather as far as the eye can see. Later steeps are drier but still quite floral and smooth. Even my tea pet likes it. :-)
Thanks to Phi for giving me some of this! It’s been on my wish list for ages.
I had enough to try this gong fu style and western style. The dry leaf smells awesome: dark chocolate with a hint of malt and maybe some dark cherry. I got four steeps out of this gong fu style. They all tasted similar, except that subsequent steeps were fainter and mellower. Dominant notes were milk chocolate and, weirdly, cotton candy. But chocolatey cotton candy. It sounds terrible but was actually delicious. Still, I liked this better western-style. I added a teaspoon of turbinado cane sugar and it amplified the flavors beautifully. It’s just creamy dark chocolate-covered cherries. I can’t pick out the vanilla flavor per se but I think that’s where the creaminess comes from. Nom nom nom.
Sipdown! This was a sample size so that’s not much of an achievement, but still. It’s a bit chilly out due to the wind from Hermine so I wanted a fall-themed tea. This fit the bill and I got to claim a sipdown.
I added rice milk to the first steep for a bit of creaminess. There was lots of maple syrup and pumpkin spice flavor but nothing pancake-like per se. I didn’t really miss it. The base tea is nice and malty and that’s plenty to hang the flavor on. For the second steep, I didn’t make any additions. The maltiness of the base tea came out more, with maple and cinnamon notes at the tail end. Overall, this was a great tea for a fall-like day.
My dumdum jerkface cat basically knocked an entire mug of this tea into my lap. He managed to spill almost the whole mug, give me two minor burns, AND get my new copy of March wet. All is not lost, however. I got two more steeps out of the leaves (priorities!). This blend is nice and creamy, but I’m too distracted to give it a full assessment. Happy Friday!
Three years ago, I promised a proper tasting note on this tea (http://steepster.com/Kaylee/posts/227110). Well, folks, I’m sure you have been waiting with bated breath for that note, and your wait has at long last come to an end. Over the top? Sure, but I’m feeling loopy.
I steeped according to package instructions. 1 tablespoon, 8 oz, 208f, 30-40 second infusions. Despite the leaf being three years old, it’s still fragrant and tasty. The dry leaf smells sugary sweet and floral with a hint of hay. In the first steep, the brewed tea smells like sweet cream and roses. The flavor is smooth, creamy, and predominantly rose. I’m guessing the creaminess comes from the vanilla. The second steep is still sweet, rosy, and creamy, but the end of the sip brings a cool minty freshness that builds as the cup empties. The third steep is far less creamy. It’s still floral, but also fruity like those fruit-shaped hard candies. I let the fourth steep sit for several minutes because a) I wanted to get lots of flavor out of it and didn’t expect any bitterness and b) I got distracted and forgot to remove the steeper on time. Both of those can be true at the same time, right? Anyway, there’s still a smooth, thick mouthfeel and the flavor is still sweet, with a note of citrus and a lingering minty freshness which I think is the tulsi.
The only other time I have tried an 8 treasures blend was at Ching Ching Cha when I nipped a bit from Phi’s pot. I recall that one being creamy too, but not as floral. Phi, am I retconning that? Anyone know if creaminess is characteristic of 8 treasures blends?
Not adjusting the rating that I gave on my first review because the leaf has gotten old and it’s unfair to judge it at this point. I would only lower it by a couple of points, though, and that is more a result of having tasted more teas now than this tea not being tasty.
Flavors: Cream, Rose, Tulsi
I know you can’t take it with you, but it still makes me a little sad whenever I finish off a Butiki blend. Alas, this is another sipdown.
The flavor has held up surprisingly well for a blend that’s about two years old at this point. I had a few sips of it straight just to check out the flavor, but my favorite way to enjoy this tea is with a bit of rice milk. Even without the rice milk, the pumpkin and cream notes were very clear and nummy. With the rice milk, it’s a decadent, sweet, creamy, pumpkin, vanilla indulgence. I’ll miss this blend, but at least I was able to enjoy it one last time.
I quite liked Simple Loose Leaf when I had the subscription, but I just have too much tea to handle a consistent monthly shipment of more. Their packaging was excellent – opaque, lined, semi-waterproof, and with an air valve like on fancy coffee packages. As a result, this tea has kept pretty well over the two years I’ve had it.
Steeped hot, gong fu style, it’s fairly unremarkable. Just a gently smoky, grassy green. Better than a teabag but not particularly complex. To be fair, it may have been more interesting when it was fresh, so I am foregoing a rating.
Cold brewed overnight, this is very refreshing. The dominant flavor is more hay than grass. There’s just a hint of sweetness. The mouthfeel is simultaneously dry and juicy. Something about the texture reminds me of biting into a grape. I liked it so much I even tried doing a second cold brew with the same leaves. Alas, it didn’t really work. I just ended up with vaguely sweet, dry water.
Shamefully, I am just now getting around to this tea from last year’s Japanese tea box organized and shipped by Liquid Proust. I know senchas are best enjoyed fresh but this is quite tasty even a year later. I will say that there’s no notable cherry/cherry blossom flavor at this point. Sencha’s trademark grassiness is definitely here though. I got four solid steeps out of this leaf. I saved the used leaves to mix with some soy sauce and eat over rice later. I have only tried that before with gyokuru but I have high hopes for it with this sencha.
I wanted to fancy up the experience so I made myself a little snack tray to go with the tea: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/27303333216/ Clockwise from top left: seedless green grapes, rose-flavored Turkish delight from Turkey, strawberries drizzled with vanilla agave, Japanese mini Milanos, Rainier cherries, and Frango dark chocolates. To avoid messing up my palate for tasting-note purposes, I drank one cup of each steep, followed by a snack, followed by the second cup of that steep, and ended with a few sips of water to clear my palate. I found that the fresh fruit complemented the springiness of the tea better than the cookies and candy did.
First steep: 160f for 2 minutes. The brew is thick and grassy with a hint of sweetness. I regret not using a kyusu because small bits of leaf did make it into the cup. Thankfully, the impact was mostly visual – the leaf settled at the bottom of the cup and did not impact the taste or texture of the brew.
Second steep: 175f for 20 seconds. I was surprised that the first flavor to hit me was a slight bitterness. The grassy flavor didn’t really come in until the aftertaste. It’s not quite fresh-cut grass; more like grass in springtime the day after it has been cut. There’s a nice thick mouthfeel to this steep.
Third steep: 175f for 45 seconds. This might be my favorite steep. Thick mouthfeel, smooth flavor throughout, mellow grassy flavor, and no astringency or bitterness whatsoever.
Fourth steep: 180f for 60 seconds. This steep is about the same as the third, which is to say quite lovely. The brew is slightly thinner but the flavor is the same.
Thanks Liquid Proust!