1250 Tasting Notes

94
drank Wild Rose Bai Mudan by Samovar
1250 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 34 of 2017 (no. 315 total). A sample. And the last of the first round Samovar samples. They don’t carry this anymore — just the base, not the rose.

What a luxury to be able to taste a tea on a weekday at home! What a luxury to be able to write a note in a quiet house (everyone is napping — no. 1 and no. 2 have been having sleepovers with friends since they’re off of school and they are bushed, and the BF is also out like a light).

I picked this one because I’ve been eyeing it for way too long, and also because today in the mail I got a package from Samovar with five herbals in it. Yay! So I’m in a Samovar frame of mind.

Despite its age, this had a lovely rose smell to the dry leaf with pretty pink rose buds strewn throughout. The tea, too, smells pleasantly of rose. It’s a medium yellow with an orange tinge and clear.

The tea is a pure and lovely delivery vehicle for the rose, which is making me extremely happy right now. Buoyant, really. I’m a little freaked out by how much this has done for my spirits. Or maybe it’s the prospect of a small break from work. The tea provides an earthy base for the rose, which is just lovely.

Dammit, I wish they still had this. It would be a must buy.

Flavors: Earth, Loam, Rose

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80
drank Morning Dew by Todd & Holland
1250 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 33 of 2017 (no. 314 total). A sample.

I only had enough for one cup, so I added some sencha to stretch it to two so I could fill the Timolino.

It was still very tasty and a perfect tea for today where I was pretty much the only person in the office.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans!

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80

Sipdown no. 32 of 2017 (no. 313 total). A sample.

Well, I screwed this up again, though it wasn’t for lack of trying.

This time I used enough leaf, and had the right temperature for the water, but it all fell apart with the water to tea ratio.

I read that you’re supposed to steep gyokuro in a pot, until the point where the leaves unfurl (about 2 minutes). I found a pot to use, but then I stupidly put the tea in the little strainer insert that goes into the top of the pot. I measured the right amount of water, but it wasn’t deep enough once in the pot to cover the leaves.

Because gyokuro leaves are so incredibly fine, once they’re wet you really can’t move them easily, so I kept adding water until the leaves were covered. Which was significantly more than I should have used.

It was still a fine workday tea. I have other gyokuros. I’ll try again.

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86
drank Caribbean Breeze by Teavana
1250 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 31 of 2017 (no. 312 total).

Another last little bit that I hoarded. I have to say I liked this one more than I rated it. Bumping it up.

Alas, another that Teavana no longer offers. Which is maddening, because it’s just another in a long list of favorites that have been put out to pasture. Thankfully, Tazo Passion is very similar. As part of my new order extravaganza, I got a bunch of that so I feel that I can let this one go.

I must say that despite the hibiscus, there was no bitterness here. I have come to believe that the secret to de-eviling hibiscus is to massively overleaf (or in this case, over mix).

I’m really sorry to see this one go. But I must make room for the new arrivals.

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85
drank Rooibos Tropica by Teavana
1250 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 30 of 2017 (no. 311 total).

So this weird thing happened. I was looking in my Steepster cupboard and came across three Art of Tea teas that I know I had, but I can no longer find. This wouldn’t be that odd, except that I didn’t write notes on any of them. So I don’t think I sipped them down. I took them out of the cupboard because I couldn’t account for them, but I know for sure I didn’t dream their existence.

The only thing I can figure is I may have taken them to work at my former job, and they may be in the bottom of a Large Box ‘O Stuff™ that I took with me when I left, that is now stored in my garage. I may feel compelled to pull the boxes down during the holiday next week to see if I’m right.

But that’s neither here nor there regarding this blend. I always liked this one, and I hoarded it for a very long time. Teavana no longer makes it. They pretty much stop making all the blends I like which is one of the things that makes me not so hot on Teavana.

But I have to clear out the old because I just placed about eight orders for a shit-ton of non-caffeinated lovelies that should start arriving next week. With this, I’m down to seven in the current stash and I think it likely another will bite the dust if not later tonight, then tomorrow.

So excited! It has been forever since I got any new orders!

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66

This is a strange little tea. It has a strong vanilla scent from the dry leaf, which I was going to call more creamy than beany — except that it’s really both.

The steeped tea is a cloudy orange brown and looks like an amber beer. The flavoring must have an oil component because something visible is swirling on the surface. It smells like creamy vanilla, and that’s pretty much how it tastes.

It’s quite sweet, and I’m not getting much of the hojicha. I was looking for a toasty edge and I suppose it’s there if I try really hard at the beginning of the sip. But from then on it’s all vanilla all the time.

I steeped following these instructions on time and temp:

http://theartofjapanesegreentea.com/how-to-brew-hojicha/

I am not really sure where I come out on this one. It’s not that I hate it (although it’s not really for me), it’s that I can’t figure out why I chose it. I think I probably didn’t and it was probably a tea of the month selection.

Flavors: Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Fjellrev

Always disappointing when a hojicha lacks its roasty qualities!

Evol Ving Ness

Thanks for including the steeping thing. Useful.

__Morgana__

@Fjellrev I know, right?

@Evol Ving Ness Glad it was helpful!

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75
drank Hojicha by Mariage Frères
1250 tasting notes

Next time I’ll use hotter water and less time, after reading an article about hojicha.

This is a very toasty looking and smelling dry leaf. It’s basically a uniform chocolate brown.

Steeped it makes a gorgeous medium-light orangey-coppery liquor and has a deep, toasty aroma. Hojichas’ aroma sometimes make me think of rice, but this one doesn’t.

The flavor is very mellow and smooth, with a thick-ish mouthfeel and a lingering iota of sweetness. It’s toasty, but it’s basically the essence of toasty. Not toasty rice, not toasty veggies. It’s just toasty.

I wonder what a higher temp will do?

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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95

I knew I was going to like this the minute I opened the package and the jasmine wafted out. Not an approximation of jasmine. It smelled like walking through a bower of blooming jasmine vines.

The aroma is divine — it’s not overpowering nor is it too subtle. It’s pretty much right in the sweet spot. The tea is just the pale side of a medium yellow and clear.

The flavor is pretty much indescribable. The jasmine flavor is juicy but not perfumy, and it’s pretty much throughly integrated with the tea base to the point where they are one. The tea isn’t the main event here, but it is not missing either. There’s just enough to keep the tea from crossing the line into mouthful of flowers territory.

It didn’t occur to me that the name could be confusing — apparently the “mandarin” confused some folks into thinking this might have orange or some other fruit flavor as well. But the ingredients list no fruit. I took it to mean Mandarin as in elite class rather than fruit.

If it means that, it deserves the name. This is a wonderful tea. I’m trying to play devil’s advocate with myself and ask myself whether I would be enjoying it so much if I hadn’t had a jasmine in so long. Jasmine green teas are among my very favorites, pretty much my guilty pleasure.

So far my answer is — who cares?

Flavors: Jasmine

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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52
drank Love Essence by Simpson & Vail
1250 tasting notes

Trying again. I bumped up the steep time and heat a bit.

The tea is a very pale yellow and clear, and smells like a vegetal green tea. I don’t smell the rose in the aroma.

The flavor has just the slightest hint of rose. Honestly, if I didn’t know it was there, I probably wouldn’t identify it as such. It’s there mostly as a sort of whiff of volatile oil right at the beginning of the sip.

I like it, but I want more rose. Maybe the next cup? Right now I have to mark it down for roselessness.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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52
drank Love Essence by Simpson & Vail
1250 tasting notes

Sadly, this tea is no longer available, and if it wasn’t for Pinterest (of which I am not a member, or maybe I am but I never figured out how to use it) I would not even have a description of it.

I say sadly because it’s a gorgeous tea — the dry leaf is huge and twisty and has rose petals in it. It smells of the generic Simpson & Vail flavored tea jumble (the paper bag it came in allowed the smells of other teas to co-mingle to the point where they all smell similar).

The cup I’m drinking now is clearly picking up some remnants of last night’s carmelized pear rooibos from the Breville, so I’m not going to take notes on this one.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Bio

I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became less appealing to me — but I still enjoy nicely done blends where the base doesn’t taste like hamster cage chips. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation. These days, I’ve been drinking primarily green tea during weekdays after my first cup of coffee. On weekends, I’ve been drinking only tea.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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