654 Tasting Notes
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:[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!
Thanks to JustJames for sending me this! I was not a fan of this blend when I first tried it, but it seems to have improved substantially with age. The leaf looks like a bouquet and smells like fresh, sweet lemon. I got three gorgeous, consistent steeps out of this. Each one was a perfect balance of lemon and almond with just enough of a bready note to evoke a delicate pastry. This tea makes me feel all fancy!
Flavors: Almond, Cookie, Lemon, Marzipan
Another sipdown! Carrot cake seems to be a particularly tough flavor to reproduce. I’ve never had a carrot cake blend that was completely spot on. Alas, I still haven’t. I only had a sample size of this blend so I was not able to play around with it too much. Using the suggested parameters of 1-2 tsp/6oz, steeped for 60 sec at 200F, I mostly got burnt rice and a bitter note. Some rice milk and vanilla sugar smoothed out the bitterness. It did nothing to bring out any carrot, spice, or bread/cake notes. I tried doing the second steep at 180F for about 3 min with some brown sugar. The brown sugar brought out some carrot flavor and the faintest hint of ginger, but I suspect most of the flavor was imparted in the first steep and overwhelmed by the bitterness and burnt rice. I am not completely writing this off – mostly because Quarter to Tea’s blends are generally pretty solid – but I was not able to get it to taste anything like its namesake.
Sipdown! It took me about 6 months to get through about 2 oz of this blend. The trick to getting the most flavorful experience with this blend is to overleaf, steep long (5+ minutes), and add rice milk/sugar. At its best, this is a nice chocolatey blend with a bit of kick. At its worst, it’s a woodsy rooibos with more spice in the scent than the flavor. In other words, it’s never bad but not consistently great. I wouldn’t turn it down but I won’t be seeking it out either.
I’m planning to do a fuller review of Pique tea, conceptually, when I review the sencha. However, I only had two packets of the Earl Grey and have now used them up, so I wanted to write this tasting note while my memory is fresh.
I don’t drink black tea much. I actually used this to make iced tea for my partner. Same recipe both times: honey in the bottom of a glass, add hot water and mix, add the powdered tea, add cold water, mix. It was quick, easy, and tasty. The bergamot is very notable. It’s not overwhelming or too tart, but it is about half the flavor. The other half is a smooth black base that isn’t particularly complex but makes for a solid iced tea. My partner was pretty pleased with it too.
I just reviewed this three weeks ago, but I was going through my notes and found another tasting note for it that I never posted. Here it is!
Thanks to TeaVivre for the sample! Honestly, I think the leaf is about two years old at this point. It seems to have held up well, though. I got about ten steeps out of it, gong fu style (natch), following website suggestions (185f, steep times: 5s,5s,10s,20s,30s,35s… after that I just winged the timing). The liquor is a vibrant orange. The flavor is savory, with strong yam and charcoal/borderline smoky notes. There is a gently astringent aftertaste that lingers on the palate. This is not my usual cuppa but I can see it being pleasant on a cold winter’s day. Bonus: this black tea doesn’t hurt my stomach the way many of its peers do. [Edit: This did hurt my stomach slightly during subsequent sessions when I didn’t eat first.]