110 Tasting Notes

95

How many of you order a tea one year, and love it so much you can’t wait for the new crop from the same garden next year? Last year I ordered this tea from Upton’s and they claimed, ‘Due to difficult growing conditions this year in India, this tea has a more intense flavor, which may be tamed with the addition of milk". I’m paraphrasing, but that was true. This year, I looked to Harney and Sons for my full leaf Assam. When I placed my order in Sept, the 2010 Nahorhabi Estate tea was the only top grade full leaf Assam they had, so I ordered it.

My first two cups were tasted on Sat, 10-22-11. I figured it might be less fresh because it was from last years crop. Man was I wrong! The tea was sealed in a foil bag & maintained its freshness. When I opened the bag and inhaled deeply……….BAMM, I was hit with this wonderful, malty, candy sweet Assam! My mouth literally started to water! I took a few minutes to take it all in. In addition, this tippy Assam possessed good chocolate notes as well. I reduced my steep times to 3.5 minutes to compensate for the claim above. After my tea cooled, the cups aroma came through. This medium brown hued cup smelled malty, chocolatey, with a truly natural sweetness. Definitely very malty, chocolate sweetness on the palate, with full, lingering flavor and yet very smooth. I’m not sure about honey notes. Sometimes I’ll add more tea to steeped leaves and resteep using same parameters. Here the tea is still malty, chocolatey and sweet, although more stout (but not bitter). To subdue some of the stoutness, sometimes I’ll add the smallest dash of skim milk, which brings a creaminess to the flavor, without sacrificing taste.

This tends to be my Saturday evening tea, which I’ve had each week since that first cup. I could drink this tea every day but I don’t, because I believe special teas like this one should be occasionally savored. I look forward to drinking this one every Saturday night! :))

Reviewed: Sunday, 11-20-11.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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79
drank Genmaicha by Harney & Sons
110 tasting notes

Years ago I purchased Yamamotoyama’s Genmai Cha from Stash Tea and I did not like it. It was horrible-I couldn’t drink it and returned it. It is the only tea I have ever returned to a company, & looking back on it I wish I would have kept it. I also wish I would have brewed it properly. I used boiling water…ssttrriiiikkke one! I steeped it at LEAST 3 minutes…..ssssttttrriiiike two!! I probably used too much tea and failed to experiment with different water temps and steep times…..sssttttrrriiikkkeee three!!! I was so bush league back then-a mere amateur.

Finally I bought this sample from Harney & Sons and had a completely different experience. Enter glass tea press and Genmaicha tea. Open packet, sssnnniiifff deeply, and enjoy the deep, nutty aroma. Steep parameters below are for first infusion, filled with 8 oz filtered water. What a nice medium deep, yellow liqueur-perhaps not as clear as that of the Buckwheat tea. Nutty aroma very present in the wet leaves as well as the cup, lingering on the palate. The second cup-approx. 195* for 1:15- was the strongest (not bitter), very nutty with a natural sweetness. They don’t call this tea popcorn tea for nothing, and I find that to be accurate. My last steep at 205* for 2 minutes was weaker, but still exhibited good nutty sweet characteristics.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tea, but the second cup was almost too nutty for me….and I’m CRAZY! :)) I would drink this occasionally, perhaps with a meal, and try lower temps and steep times. I wish I had more Genmai Cha….oh wait…I DO! Anna sent me a sample. Wish granted! :))

Until we Genmai Cha Cha Cha again.

Cupped Mon/Tue, Oct 24-25, 2011. Reviewed Thu, Nov 17, 2011.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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91

Good morning everyone. :)) Many thanks to Anna for this generous sample. :)) When I opened the box all I could smell was Cardamon! Wow, what an aroma! The aroma alone scores a 95. Dry tea leaves are a decent size. I put about 1/2 the sample in my glass tea press. The smell of cardamon filled the room. I got three really good steeps from the tea. Good dark brown cup color and aroma. At 2 min the first steep was delicious! I really enjoy teas like this where the base is strong & noticeable, nice cardamon prescence in flavor and aroma. Second steep was at 2:45 to 3:00. Strong aroma and flavor and not bitter. Wow the caffiene was really intense. Third steep was still good at 4:00 boiling. Flavor of tea was weaker, as was the aroma, and flavor of the cardamon. Wet leaves still smelled of cardamon….amazing!

I got at least 30 oz of tea in total! If I tinker with steep times I may be able to get 4 quality cups with the rest of the sample. What a quality tea in every respect! I checked online and the tea is reasonably priced. The website is packed with goodies, and I will definitely reorder this tea in the future.

Cupped & reviewed Wed, 11-16-2011.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

that sounds nice, cardamom is one of my favorite spices.

ScottTeaMan

I wish I could bottle the smell & send it to you.

TeaBrat

I’ll look for it in the local middle eastern grocery stores. :)

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82
drank Tartary Buckwheat by Puripan
110 tasting notes

The dry aroma of this tea was very nutty. I just dumped the sample in my Bonjour glass tea press and poured near boiling water (approx. 8 oz) over the tea for 1 min. Could smell nuttiness of wet buckwheat, but when I stuck my face in the press and inhaed the aroma it smelled like ashes! I thought of an astray and ashes. Could someone tell me why I kept inhaling the wet ash aroma? Why?….several times….why? I think initially I was in sensory disbelief!

The color of the brew was a medium, translucent yellow, similar to that of Chamomile. The cup had a nutty aroma, and the one minute steep led to a hearty, nutty, naturally sweet flavor. The nutty sweetness was delicious! So clean and refreshing. The second steep was better at 1.5 minutes, showcasing a slightly nuttier and sweeter flavor. The third and final steep at 3 min. was still very good, even though the nutty sweetness had dissipated somewhat. This tea was never bitter, which is a plus for me.

Definitely a very nice tea experience (minus the ashiness of the wet aroma). I would order, as this is a great, relaxing brew before my nightly slumber.

Thank you Anna! :))

Cupped Tue, 11-01-11

Reviewed Tue, 11-15-11

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

buckwheat tea? very interesting!

ScottTeaMan

It was really good…but I only had a small sample.

Anna Vu

I’m glad you enjoyed! I love adding it to green tea and making my own custom blends!

ScottTeaMan

Hhmmm….that sounds interesting too!

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91
drank Hao Ya 'B' by Harney & Sons
110 tasting notes

This tea has a special meaning to me. I remember it like it was yesterday…waking up to one of the most beautiful September days in memory. Such bright sunshine and clear, deep blue skies. Such a gorgeous, picture perfect day, only to be scarred forever by the horrors of Septeber 11, 2001! Such a deeply sad day, I still get sick in my gut, and can’t watch the events of that day.

I first drank Hao Ya B on that day, and this tea offered some solace as the events unfolded that day. I remember liking the tea immensely, noting a mildly smokey, dry leaf with chocolate notes, while the cup was medium brown with a smokey less chocolatey aroma. The flavor was mildly smokey & smooth, with chocolate notes in the back end or aftertate. A great tea!

I ordered this new lot before 09/11/2011, and wanted to review it and experience this old friend in remembrance of that day….but alas, the tea order arrived late….:((. So I decided to take my time with the review. I’ve had ten cups since Oct 21, 2011. My first two cups on that night were hindered by clogged sinuses, so I wasn’t detecting any chocolate notes at all, just a mildly smokey aroma and flavor in the leaf, cup, and on my palate. My 3rd & 4th cups (10/28/11), and 5th & 6th cups (11/04/11), were similiar in smokiness, with some chocolate notes detected in the leaf, cup, and palate (to varying degrees).

My last two cups on Mon., 11/07/11 will sum up the review. Chocolate notes were detected to varying degrees, but most notable in the dry and wet leaf, less so in the cup, and in the back end or aftertaste….again less noticeable than in the leaf itself. Smelled more like burnt caramel smokiness. A solid, smooth, earthy, mildly smokey tea that is very enjoyable! I forgot to mention HY B is a small leaf, with some white tips, which lend to the smoothness of the cup.

NOTE: 11-15-11==> Here’s a comment I posted on LiberTeas Hao Ya B review page: ScottTeaMan " I thought I noticed some wine like notes once or twice when drinking H & S HY B, but didn’t note it b/c those “notes” seemed to be playing hide and seek with me. :))" So yes, there you have it, occasional somewhat light, wine-like notes, without the alcohol. :))

This is one of my favorite teas, and if I didn’t pace myself, my 4 oz tin would be gone already!

Reviewed on Sat., 11-12-11.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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86

Yet another Backlog from late August 2005. Three things in the description sold me on this tea—early spring, exclusively for us, and “spider leg” style. Early spring meant fresh and new, plus I liked the exclusivity of the tea, and I really enjoy “spider leg” style teas. Here’s my review from Upton’s:

(5/8/2006)
Dry Leaf: Very Good, Infused Leaf: Very Good,
Liquor: Very Good, Value: Very Good

“I brew this tea around 160-170 degrees for 1.5 min for a sweet, aromatic cup with that sencha bite. Dry & infused leaf smells great! Leaves are soo tender and a wonderful green color. A definite reorder for me in the future.”

Dry leaf aroma was fantastic, with a very green leaf. Green color in the cup, with a very nice aroma. Love the brothy nature of the cup and the flavor was so full and fresh. The sencha bite I describe is typical of many senchas, and to me not bitter. You do have to watch steep time carefully as it can become bitter. Once in a while, I would add more leaf and resteep with wet leaves for a second cup. Usually the second cup was a little bitter, but still a good cup ( 1 min 45 sec at 175-180 degrees).

I always thought I’d reorder this tea, and would….again it sold out! :( Waiting for a restock…….and waiting…….and waiting…….

Reviewed: Sun., 09-04-2011.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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88

Backlogging this Ceylon Tea from my late October 2002 order. I really enjoyed the tea from this estate. A broken leaf style wth a nice dry aroma. Cup color was truly medium gold. What I remember most is a full mouth feel with a definite minty flavor. This struck me as unique, because I had no idea a Ceylon tea could exhibit this quality! Cup aroma was less minty than the actual flavor.

If oversteeped, this tea could get bitter, and occasionally I added a bit of sugar. What a fine, memorable tea from a good estate. I wish Upton’s would restock this tea! Since it is such a memorable tea, I remember thinking of rating it at 4.5 stars, or an 88.

I ordered this tea from Upton’s again in early May 2006. This new lot was not as good as the previous lot. Here’s my review from their site:

(12/8/2006)

Dry Leaf: Good, Infused Leaf: Good,
Liquor: Good, Value: Good

“This tea is a good tea…although I remember the previous lot to be more flavorful. Still after a recent cup I find a full, slightly lemon-like taste. Good with a bit of sugar. Tasty & good when you just need a change of pace.”

As you can see the 2006 lot was lemony, and lacked the minty characteristics of the previous lot. I gave the 2006 lot 3 stars, and probably would actually rate it between 68 to 73.

If I combined ratings of the two lots that would mean a rating of 80; but, I want the rating to reflect the first lot! Hey, it’s my review and my perogative…….so let it be written!

Steep on steepin’ on……. :)~

Reviewed: Sat, 09-03-2011

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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77

After over two weeks absense, I’m back for a review. My niece was here for two weeks visiting, so my tea time was limited, but it was nice spending time with her! I haven’t been drinking really top shelf loose leaf tea lately, because the tap water sucks chunks this time of year & I can’t find my filters. So I’m entering my time machine, reviewing this tea ordered late October 2002!

I think my first Tuo Cha was ordered from Specialteas, but they were very similar. I love the bowl like shape of each Tuo Cha and did use multiple steeps (as many as seven). The first three steeps were always the best, and I always increased water temp, and steep time with each cup.

What I remember was a very dark, silky cup color, with an earthy aroma. I was surprised to notice a purple hue around the edges of the liqour. The wet leaf had more earthy aromas than in the cup. Every cup I tasted was silky smooth, with a natural sweetness, and definite earthy notes, reminding me of Autumn. Once I left a Teabowl in my cup for about eight minutes, and still got a decent second cup. At eight minutes the liqour was darker, with more sweetness and earthiness, and so silky smooth! This tea was NEVER bitter, yet full of flavor. I really like this tea, but have not reordered it. I’ll have to reorder it, so I can refine the review and reacquaint myself with an old friend.

Reviewed: Thu, 09-01-2011.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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86

Here’s another tea from Upton Tea I ordered just 13 days short of its sixth anniversary debut….yes, it was August 2005 when I placed the order. I remember ordering tea with a friend who lives nearby, and just before placing the order, I checked the White teas one more time and purchased it. It was like making an impulse buy at the checkout isle at the grocery store.

At the time I brewed all my white teas in a small teapot (from Bombay Company), I got as a Christmas gift from my sister, bro in-law, and nephews. I prepared this tea Gong Fu style adding more leaf, using short steep times, and steeping it several times (3 to 6). The second and third cups were always the best. This year I started using my Bon Jour tea press alot more, because I like to watch the tea leaves unfurl, and smell the tea brewing. So currently I would use it for almost all White, Green, Oolong, and some Black teas.

Here’s my review from Upton’s website:

(7/20/2008)

Dry Leaf: Good, Infused Leaf: Good,
Liquor: Very Good, Value: Very Good

“Dry leaf is downy, uniform with varigated color. Definite dry/infused fresh, nutty aroma. Liquor is smooth with pronounced nuttiness, & melon undertones. My appreciation of this tea grows with each cup, but SNOW BUDS remains my favorite everyday white tea”

By varigated I mean green and white leaves, two leaves and a bud-a very beautiful leaf! By melon undertones I mean cantaloupe or honeydew (perhaps more accurate), and not watermelon.

This was not my first White tea experience; but I sure am glad I made this impulse buy, because Wang Fu Jing Hao was a really good, memorable tea. It was also the only time I was able to order it, because it sold out & may never be available again. {SIGH!} I HATE when that happens!!

Reviewed: Sat, 08-13-2011.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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90

OK Steepsterians, I finally found my Chai yesterday. Before I begin, I just want to say it took me forever to upload this picture of the tea-others I have uploaded were easy. The aroma from my tin was so good. I could definitely smell the cardamom, coriander, & black pepper. I couldn’t detect any ginger (maybe because of my previous experience with Yamamotoyama’a Ginger Tea), or cinnamon. *Note on cinnamon* Upon drinking another cup (08-13), I noted possible light background notes of cinnamon in the aroma of steeped leaves. Hard for me to detect, because most other cinnamon in Chai’s I’ve drank have had stronger presence in aroma and flavor.

I first brewed it hot at 4 minutes, and it was very good. It was even better at 5 minutes. The flavors of cardamom, coriander, and especially the black pepper were more intense, but the tea was not bitter at all. The Ceylon base tea was not masked by the spices, rather it was quite noticeable. This probably was because it was a very small leaf (a CTC by the looks of it), making the base tea stronger in the cup. Overall the wet leaf & spices were more aromatic, as compared to the cup aroma.

The flavor of black pepper was dominant-WOW! WHAT A KICK!. The coriander and cardamom were not shy either. I just missed having a cup of chai, the intense flavors coated my tongue….and stayed with me for quite a while, which I really like in a good Chai tea. If the cinnamon and ginger flavors were there, I didn’t notice them. This Cochin Chai was spicy and not sweet. A little sweetener could change that, but I drink it plain-only occasionally adding a drop of milk (to barely color the cup), and not diluting the flavor. Very delicious!! Rating: 92.

Iced it was very good as well, very refreshing. Same spices prevalent as in the hot tea, but just a little less so. Didn’t notice quite as much in the aromatics either. Still quite spicey and delicious! Rating: 88.

Brewing specs below are for hot and iced tea.

Cupped & rated on Fri, 08-12-11.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

May not review a new tea tonight. Been drinking alot of this tea lately. I think I’ll have some hot & iced! :) I’ll probably post a review sometime tomorrow.

Cheers………….

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