911 Tasting Notes

drank Italian Almond by Dilmah
911 tasting notes

Another new offering from my grocery store’s tea section. It’s bagged but this was a new brand that I haven’t heard of, so I thought I’d give it a try. I picked out this tea because I like almond flavoring… not so huge on almond nuts but the flavoring? Awesome.

When I opened the little foil bag, I was hit by the strong (and delicious) smell of pure amaretto. Just what I had been hoping for! When I took out some tea bags, though, I couldn’t help but think that they looked a bit like they were made of dryer sheets. That’s kind of uncool. Mental note: smell the bags, don’t look at them.

After steeping, the tea is a much more tea-like smelling creation. It smells thick, woodsy, malty and occasionally I get flashes of something that smells similar to dark chocolate or cocoa, but just a flash. And waiting patiently behind this very strong and bold tea smell is my adorable little amaretto. I hope the same is true for the taste.

I don’t have huge experiences with Ceylon, not straight at least, but this taste doesn’t remind me of Adagio’s Ceylon blends (or any other Ceylon-based flavored tea I can think of). It actually reminds me of a CTC that I had from Lupicia a while back – thickly textured, malty, a little bit of sticky sweet. (I just looked it up and I’m thinking about Silonibari BPS, which I believe is an Assam.) The amaretto flavor kind of flits around playfully; sometimes it’s at the beginning of the sip, sometimes the end, sometimes I get it all throughout the sip. It’s definitely taking a back seat to the tea but not so much that it fades away.

I do think the tea might be a wee bit strong for the lighter almond taste, though, because the end taste of the tea is so thick and coating that it seems more working counter to the almond than in conjunction. The almond shows up more when I take multiple sips instead of resting in between. I think resting gives the tea a chance to build up its thick, slightly bitter (in a wet, nutty way) end notes which totally drown out the amaretto. Sip-sip-sipping results in more sweet, light almond.

Overall, not bad but it could use a little something. Since this reminds me so much of Silonibari BPS, which turned to flat, boring cardboard when milk was added, I don’t think I’m brave enough to try it with milk. Mentally, I’ve already decided that would ruin it. But trying it with sugar seems like a good idea…

Ah yes, a good idea. It kills off just enough of the nutty bitter that I’m able to enjoy the almond more. It’s still not overwhelmingly almond, but it’s not distractingly wet-bitter at the end, either. Much better. I also seem to drink it faster which helps with the lack of nutty-bitter aftertaste. Overall, the addition of sugar seems to make the tea/flavoring ratio seem a bit better balanced instead of the big bully of the tea running roughshod all over the sweet, innocent little almond.

As always, it is nice to come across a flavored tea that still lets the tea be the star. I’m not sure that they picked the best leading actor in the tea world, though, but since sugar tempers that a bit, I won’t complain too loudly. Overall, a nice tea… and one with a pretty serious caffeine punch. (Seriously, my hands just started trembling a bit and I only had 6oz. Usually only lots of sencha or a stout Assam give me the shakes. Wowza.)

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drank Wako Matcha by Teance Fine Teas
911 tasting notes

Y’all. Seriously, y’all. I got this at my grocery store. A 20g tin. For $3.00. No, not even for $3.00. For $2.99. I kid you not. Teance has this on their site for $37. (As does In Pursuit of Tea… are they the same company?) It’s not out of date or anything. It’s just really, really cheap. Someone was obviously smoking something when they priced this. I knew this tin was a good deal; that’s why I picked it up. I didn’t realize it was that good of a deal. Anyway, on with the show!

Have I ever mentioned that I’m scared of matcha? I would sell my first born for a limitless supply of shincha (Yutaka Midori, please) yet for some reason, matcha freaks me out. The first time I had it was at a tea ceremony my friend was performing at our high school’s culture festival (文化祭) many years ago in Japan. Ryoko, said friend, told me when she invited me that “even the Japanese don’t like the tea in the tea ceremony.” Stellar recommendation. And the tea served totally matched up to expectations. Ick. I think that’s why I’ve not been a big matcha girl. Then, when I finally found the cajones to try matcha again, it was some that I received in a swap and had been sitting on my counter for months, getting icky and not-green, as I tried to get up the nerve to try it. Unsurprisingly, that tasted icky, too. I did have some iced matcha at Teavana at one point. That was okay. But it was iced… and from Teavana. So that was sort of discounted as a typical matcha experience. But when I say this at the store marked $2.99, I figured I’d give another go. Three bucks for potentially nasty tea isn’t that big of a deal. Which brings me to what is currently in my cup…

OMG, WHY was I afraid of matcha??? This is lovely! It smells like a fresh sheet of crisp, sweet, toasty nori. And the taste!! The taste is so mild and creamy and sweet! It’s like sencha, but dessert sencha instead of pungent dinner entree sencha. I know why people make ice cream out of matcha now – it’s so creamy! I could mainline this stuff!

Okay, okay, it’s never going to replace my love of a deep steamed sencha – I just love the rich pungency too much and this is no where even close to pungent. But this is so good. SO. GOOD. Yeah, it could be more complex but honestly, who doesn’t like sencha taste coupled with smooth, creamy and sweet? Green tea ice cream without the cold or the calories, that’s what this is. This is sencha dessert in a cup. With caffeine. And that caffeine is the only reason I’m not making myself another cup RIGHT NOW. And another in five more minutes. And another five minutes after that.

Looks like I have to make an emergency run to the grocery store. I think they had three more tins of this, all at $2.99. Time to stock up!


Did you whisk it?


I did. I don’t have a chasen so I used the one for my immersible blender/wisk/chopper thing and it worked great – nice and foamy.


That is a really awesome find and experience! I have only tried mid-grade matcha, and powdered sencha (two vendors). All of them were good, but nothing like what you describe here. Hopefully some day I’ll get to try the real stuff (ie high quality matcha).

Actually, Sugimoto America’s powdered sencha (I think) comes from fukamushi sencha, it had a definite likeness to pungency, if I remember correctly. You might like it, but I don’t know how easy it is to obtain a normal amount of it (I think they may sell it in bulk unfortunately… I just got it thru a sampler).


Wow..such a great deal!!!


One can’t help but wonder if it was actually mis-priced and was supposed to have been about $30 instead… Their loss though. They probably didn’t know what it was they had.


Shinobi_cha, I has some more this morning, this time using about a 1/2 teaspoon for 4oz (instead of yesterday’s 1/3-ish) and there was more pungency, (though still nothing compared to a fukamushi). But still – super tasty! And I’ll have to add Sugimoto’s powdered sencha to my list… they are one place (of many) that I keep meaning to order from but haven’t yet.

Stephanie & Ang, it was a great deal! And yeah, probably an accident in pricing because I can’t imagine them actually meaning to sell it for $3. Sadly the store was out when the hubby stopped by after work yesterday. Hopefully they’ll get more in and make the same pricing mistake so you can be I’ll be keeping an eye out!


Auggy – cool! And if you order from Sugimoto, wait until April, when you can preorder their Temomi Shincha. It is probably the best Japanese green tea I’ve ever had.


Shinobi_cha Awesome! I’m a sucker for shincha so thanks for the rec!

E Alexander Gerster

This matcha sounds seriously good! And what a deal! Shinobi_cha has me fascinated with the mention (and review of Sugimoto’s Temomi Shincha) as well. There is a great clip on youtube of this being made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k3sfYRqGcQ&feature=colike


Maybe they meant to mark it as $29.99, but someone screwed up…luckily you get to benefit from it! Woot!


CHAroma, you pegged it exactly! I saw more there a few weeks later and yep, $29.99! I keep hoping they’ll make the same mistake again, but so far no luck!

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drank Christmas (Rois Mages) by Kusmi Tea
911 tasting notes

(This will be my attempt to write a brief(er than normal) tea log. Wish me luck!)

The set up: I’ve had a bit of an uncheerful time lately and today is no different. Fortunately, my Kusmi order showed up a day earlier than expected so I will be able to cheer myself up with tea!

The smell: The dry leaves give me marzipan with a hint of spice and a flash of soft floral and bakey. The tea smells of… tea (like some sort of Lipton-esque blend that just comes across as “tea”) with a little soft spice (thankfully not enough to make me think of potpourri) and something that reminds me of pancakes (sweet and bready).

The taste: It’s mild. I can detect rose and spice when I slurp but otherwise it’s faintly marzipan and orange with a cinnamon-like sweetness of spice at the end. But the notes all sort of blend to give a smooth, rather softly flavored, afternoon tea.

The verdict: I had hoped that this would be a little stronger on the almond and orange (as I love those flavors) but I do like the mild-ness and smooth-ness of this. I probably won’t buy this one again as it’s fairly un-wowing, but the smoothness and mild flavor is relaxing to me on this grumpy day.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

: ) I share a smile to help you cheer up a bit!


Aw, thanks! :) <— And it worked!

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Can you tell I recently received a Chicago Tea Garden order? Cause I did! And I got samples! This is another sample I picked up. I’m not typically a fan of white tea but if CTG offers it, I’m probably going to try it. After all, the one strong exception to my general un-fanish stance towards white tea is CTG Silver Needle so why not, right?

I feel a bit like I’m raking leaves in the fall as I weight out the tea to put in my pot. The leaves are big, chunky, light, crispy and fairly unruly. They keep trying to jump off of the scale. For some reason, these leaves (and the leaves of bai mu dan) kind of freak me out. They look a little too unintentional for a food or beverage. Instead I want to pile them up and jump in them, like I did when I lived where fall actually existed.

These leaves don’t really smell of fall-chore leaves to me, though. Mostly the leaves are just faintly musty with perhaps a little tinge of sweet. The sweetness comes out more while I am steeping the leaves, but once the tea is poured into the cup, the smell (any smell) is very faint. It’s perhaps vegetal, grain-ish, sweet and musty… though it’s hard to tell due to the faintness.

The taste is very delicate but my reaction to the first sip was surprise and delight. Normally white teas are a bit too boiled-vegetable-water for me. This, however, is predominately a cross between floral nectar and honey. It’s delicate and light, yes, but there seems to be a richness to the sweet flavor of it, a darkness or heaviness that belies typical (sweet & light) floral thoughts, perhaps even a caramelization? Caramelized gardenia, perhaps? (Gardenias always strike me as a sweet but non-floral-ish type of flower.) Underneath that is a slight vegetal note that is more steamed edamame than boiled green beans and an end note of warmth that brings to mind the feel of ginger, if not quite the taste.

As it cools, the vegetal note pokes out more, but again, it isn’t boiled-until-they-are-olive-green-and-soggy vegetable water but something a hint fresher and more vibrant. Slurping still brings out the sweet gardenia nectar notes and I like that. The spicy warmth is still there but milder, hitting mostly in the middle of my tongue and the back of my throat. Perhaps it is now more of a cinnamon warmth than a ginger warmth.

This is not a fast-sipping tea. It’s delicate and light, but there’s a lot of nuances so I feel the need to slowly and almost meditatively sip. Drinking quickly feels a bit sacrilegious. Which is weird since I don’t really like white tea, but there you go.

I can’t help but wonder how this tea would be if I increased the leaves significantly, steeping it more in line with what I do for Japanese greens with five or even six grams per six ounce cup. I have a feeling it would be kind of amazing…

With that thought in mind, I did the second steep with only four ounces of water (160°/1:30). The smell is stronger – more warm rye bread with butter; sweet, grain-ish, silky. The taste is the same, but different. It’s a bit stronger and more intense and somehow that seems to make the notes combine together to create a fuller taste but also become more distinctive and easier to identify separately.

It’s still sweet but instead of a heavy, dark sweetness, it’s more of a butter-cream sweet. The previous heavy darkness has strengthened and turned into a more separate grain-like note (like a not super-dark rye). Slurping brings out sweet nectar (slightly lighter tasting than the first steep) and each sip still ends with a chaser of spice-like warmth. There is virtually zero vegetal taste in this cup, at least not that I can pick out. Perhaps it has joined with the grain note for added depth?

This steep makes me think less of caramelized gardenia nectar with edamame and more of… cinnamon sugar toast with sweet cream butter. This cup feels less meditative and more nom. And poof, it is gone.

The third steep (4oz/160°/2min), made significantly after the first two, seems radically different. The flavor is predominately green now, with an almost-bite to it (that I think comes from the leafy greens flavor combined with the ginger-ish warmth) that makes me think of collard greens. Slurping still brings out sweetness, but now it is more of a normal clover honey than anything nectary. I don’t pick up any grain notes though that darker note could be coupling with the green note (and spice feel) to give me collard greens as they are a rather dark and heavy green. There’s also a sticky dryness at the end of the sip now – not astringency in the way that leads to bitterness but rather something that makes all the saliva in my mouth disappear for a few seconds. Honestly, this steep is kind of weird and I don’t think I’d go for this tea if this were the consistent taste, but as weird as it is, I still find it pretty interesting. And this is long enough and dinner is nigh so I think I’m going to stop there.

Bottom line: I don’t love this as much as CTG’s Silver Needles, but I do think I will be ordering this at least once, at the very least because it’s so interesting. A sample is simple not enough to allow me to play with it like I want to.

(Once again, sorry about the massive tasting note. Brevity and I don’t get along. If you read this far, you have earned my admiration for your fortitude. And a cookie.)


How do I go about getting my cookie? ;)


On the other hand if you were to just write ‘I drank this today. It was good’, I would report your account to Jason on suspicion of having been hacked… :p


I am always hard pressed to write more than a paragraph so I admire you!


Ninavampi, Stop on by and I’ll make you a whole batch! :D
Ang, Ha! Yes, that would not be very me-like. But my goal for the next log is to be brief. It might be difficult!
Amy oh, I tend to write like I talk, which means lots of babble! :)

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drank Coconut Assam by Zhi Tea
911 tasting notes

My grocery store recently revamped their tea section and part of that revamping including selling new vendors, Zhi Tea being one of them. I was looking to see if I could find one of the yummy-sounding unflavored teas Zhi offers but it looks like my grocery store is just offering a selection of their flavored blends. Somehow, I will manage to cope. Coconut will help in the coping process.

I’m a bit mixed on this tea. First off, it smells awesome. Honest-to-goodness coconut with a touch of bakey. The steeping tea smells even better than the dry leaves – musty/sweet coconut. It makes my mouth water. Though after smelling the steeping leaves, going back to smell the dry leaves makes me notice something unpleasant in the smell, something almost fake or plastic. Maybe it is the coconut flavoring or maybe I’m smelling the packaging. I’m going to ignore it for now and just smell the steeping tea.

Once I get the tea into my cup, the coconut smell is milder than it was in the steeping leaves, but it’s still quite nice. I do so love coconut. (Though I rarely eat it because I can’t get behind the texture. Yuck.) Still, quite lovely. But it’s the taste of this tea that has me a little torn.

First off, let me explain. I used to log every single cup of tea that I drank. I can be a little too structured with things like that. But then Steepster slowed down to a snail’s pace and logging was too frustrating so I went away for a while (all or nothing, you know). Now I’m trying a little moderation – logging teas to review them but not being obsessive about it. So this is not the first time I’ve had this cup since I purchased it, it’s just the first time I’m posting (and being coherent) with my thoughts on it.

The first time I had this, it was more Assam with a coconut aftertaste. The Assam was nice – honeyed, bakey, a little starchy – but the coconut felt a bit lacking. This time, however, there is coconut all through the sip, from beginning to end. Good, strong, lovely coconut. I can taste the Assam underneath the coconut, but it doesn’t seem as nice as before. Starchy, malty and maybe slightly sweet. But sometimes I also get flashes of… watery. And strong prickles of astringency that weren’t there before. And the honeyed note is all but gone, replace (or overwhelmed) by a faint tartness that doesn’t quite enter into Bitter-land but definitely has been planning a trip there.

So it seems like my choices for this tea are either 1) delicious, smooth and sweet Assam with a disappointingly faint aftertaste of coconut or 2) strong, full coconut flavor with a rough and unpleasant Assam. I’m not sure how one tea gives two such different cups when brewed the same way both times. Ideally, I’d like the sweet and smooth Assam note to be coupled with a beginning-to-end coconut note. Maybe the third time will be the charm. Or else my next cup will be faint coconut aftertaste coupled with a rough and watery Assam.

So see? Torn. It’s a bit too roulette wheel for my tastes but the potential for awesomeness is there. But this is either inconsistent or picky. And since both attributes make me grumpy when I find them in tea, I suppose I’ll be sticking to SerendipiTEA’s Burroughs’ Brew for my coconut tea cravings.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Assam strikes me as a curious base for coconut… I would have thought smoother base would have suited coconut better.


I’ve yet to try an Assam, but this makes it seem like a difficult tea?


Ang, You know, I’ve had at least one smooth and sweet Assam (though I’m blanking on which it was now) and something like that, an obviously high quality one, I think would work well with the coconut. And on the first cup of this tea, the Assam seemed like it would be one of those and it would work. But the second time I had this makes me think no, this Assam isn’t quite the thing. But I think you are right, something more consistently smooth would be better. If they wanted a strong tea base but smooth and sweet, maybe a Fujian or Yunnan would have been better.
MaddHatter, I don’t think Assam is super-difficult but since Indian teas can get bitter easily and it’s a fairly stout type tea anyway, it is more difficult that I think a Chinese black would be. Still, I think a good Assam can be super-tasty so it is worth trying (but there seem to be more not-so-great Assams out there compared to really good ones… or maybe that’s just me).

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drank Red Rooibos by Davidson's
911 tasting notes

I do not like rooibos. I do not like it in a box, I do not like it with a fox. I do not like it in a house, I do not like it with a mouse. I do not like rooibos. And you can’t make me.

That being said, my mom purchased a big ole box of this from Amazon so I swiped a few bags just to try. Because sometimes I like to torture myself with tea.

Tonight, I’m in desperate need of something tea-like. I’ve been out of the house all day and only got one cup in this morning. This makes my tongue is sad. But it’s too late to have something caffeinated and my Zojirushi is on 208°. So sure, let’s have some rooibos torture!

I think this smells fairly gross, like sweet and rotting wood. Which means it smells like a fairly normal rooibos, as I think they all smell like rotting wood. Par for the course there.

The taste, though? It’s not bad. And that’s coming from me, someone who thinks most rooibos also tastes like rotting wood. But no, I didn’t gag or even make a face while drinking this. I even drank the whole cup!

Of course, I’m not sure if that really speaks to how tasty this tea is (or isn’t) because the lack of face-making was mostly due to the fact that this is actually rather bland. Most of the sip tastes like heavy and wet and that’s about it. There’s a little sweet, almost-but-not-quite-rotting wood aftertaste which is by far the most flavorful thing about the cup (also the most unpleasant for me). Oddly, that aftertaste makes me think a bit of perfume, which is weird and not all that pleasant but hey, it’s in the aftertaste so whatever. Slurping brings some dry-wood notes to the sip but it’s still fairly mild. The texture’s a bit thick and silky with no slurping (it tries to be a little astringent with slurping) so that’s kind of pleasant.

Verdict: It’s not really all that torturous. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this actually tastes good, but it’s very drinkable and, for me, that’s pretty huge. I can’t say that rooibos-liking people would like this because it might be too bland? Or perhaps blandness is a positive attribute for all rooibos drinkers, not just me. But I think fellow rooibos-haters could probably get down a cup of this one with little problems.


Yay for Dr. Seuss! : ) And excerpts that make great tea reviews!

E Alexander Gerster

Thank you for bringing a smile to my face! I’m not a fan of rooibos either. :)


So cute! :)


I’m with you on rooibos


Rooibos haters (and Dr. Seuss lovers) unite! :)

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I’m almost out of my medicinal Bronc-Aid tea (which really isn’t so bad though I don’t think I’d ever drink it for fun) so I figured I’d pick some of this up as a replacement since it was available and the store I was at had no Bronc-Aid.

Can’t say I’m wild about this. It’s not bad (though, okay, the first sip I did make a face – there was some sort of bitter end note that flashed by and thankfully didn’t repeat in later sips) but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is good.

Licorice is the strongest taste and that makes it not so bad since it adds some sweetness to the tea. But it’s pretty much the only flavor in the aftertaste and it’s pretty cloying after a few minutes. I’m getting pretty tired of it. Tea (or even not-tea) doesn’t usually leave me with the urge to chew gum unless I use sugar and milk in it.

Aside from licorice, there’s a bit of herbal-ly green darkness to it that is probably the peppermint and eucalyptus but it isn’t strong enough to come across as mentholated or whooshy (which I was kind of hoping for). My mouth does feel a bit cooler, so perhaps that is the mint and eucalyptus in action. Still, could have used more in the flavor.

Honestly? Not all that tasty. It’s kind of bland and flat and I really wish the flavor wasn’t licorice so dominated. At the same time, the sweetness from the licorice (and the way that seems to coat my mouth) is probably the only reason I didn’t keep making faces as I sipped.

I think I’ll see if my mom wants to share this box with me so I can get rid of it a bit faster. I’ll either go back to my cat-urine-smelling-but-not-bad-tasting Bronc-Aid or try the Yogi Teas lung-ular focused not-tea.

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I love CTG. I don’t know specifically why I adore them so, but I have a special place in my heart for them. Perhaps because Tony is so nice. Maybe because they have my favorite daily tea (their Keemun). Maybe it is because the hubby loves their sticky rice pu-erh so much that I know I can always get him to support a CTG order if I say we are running low on that tea. Or maybe it’s because, while they might not have a ton of teas, what they do offer is always quality and often quirky (oolong from New Zealand, anyone?) and that matches my tea personality well. Or perhaps it is because they have the only Silver Needle that I love enough to buy more than a sample of. For whatever the reason, I love CTG. So if they offer a tea that seems even remotely interesting to me, I’ll pick up a sample.

This is one of those teas that isn’t in my normal tea profile (not a big fan of Chinese greens) but since CTG offered it, I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m so happy I did. First off, the smell is delightful. I don’t know if I would have automatically said unripened mango, but after reading it on the tea card, yes, totally, that is what I smell. Because this smells sweet – a mild, sweet but not overly strong, fruit. There’s also a little note of chlorophyll to the smell while steeping, as well as a hint of not-quite-oceanic water during the pour. But the overwhelming notes are sweetness and something reminding me of chestnuts, which is weird because I’m not overly familiar with chestnuts, but that’s what pops in my head.

Sipping and wow. It’s nutty. A very clean, slightly sweet nut. I tend to like pecans when I go for nuts; this is sweet like a pecan but the taste is cleaner and smoother – again I want to say chestnut but am not familiar enough with that type of nut to say for sure that it is chestnut-y or just what my mind thinks chestnut should taste like.

The aftertaste is sweet. It does remind me of the unripened mango I used to get from Costco, but perhaps I am thinking that again because I read the tea description before drinking this. But it is sweet in a soft, thin, fruity way. If pushed to describe it as something other than firm mango, I’d probably go for a very thin orange blossom honey. I say thin because it doesn’t really coat the mouth in that thick, sugary way honey does.

Gosh, the more this cools the sweeter it gets. It’s pretty awesome. I almost feel like I’ve put sugar in this, that’s how sweet it is. There’s a tiny prickle on my tongue now, kind of that mineral/salt-ish aftertaste I tend to aways associate with Chinese greens (and is the reason I can’t really get behind Chinese greens), but this one doesn’t come across as too much or too strong. Instead, it’s just a little drying prickle that keeps the tea from being too sweet and cloying. Underneath the sweetness is a nice vegetal base note. Sweet, but in a swiss chard kind of way. It’s really nice.

Oh, and look at that: my cup is empty. When did that happen? I never enjoy Chinese greens that much. Or find them that sweet! Nutty, sure, but usually in a bitter nut kind of way, like those dark pecans that you know you shouldn’t eat but do anyway and then have to eat something else to clean that overly strong taste out of your mouth? But this is clean nutty, transitioning to sweet vegetal with a nutty chaser. It’s really good.

If this is considered an “everyday” Chinese green, I’ve sooooo been picking the wrong teas. Because if this is an everyday one, I can’t imagine how awesome a special one is.

A second steep (1 minute) results in a very similar cup with perhaps a bit more prickle. Or maybe that’s just because I couldn’t wait for it to cool any before sipping. As it cools, the prickle backs off to just a little tingle on my tongue post-swallow and the dominate notes are once again sweet and nutty. There seems to be a little nori or perhaps chlorophyll hanging out underneath, too. The sweet and nutty tastes are probably more balanced this time, compared to the first steep that was more on the sweet end.

And wow, now that cup is gone, too. How did that happen? How can I like a Chinese green this much? Darn you, CTG, for making me crave things that I never expected to want in my pantry!

(And holy monkeys, why can I not write a short tasting note????)

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

that sounds nice. I have similar feelings about chinese green tea, perhaps I need to try this one.


I will admit, the third steep seems kinda… normal. But the first two? Totally worth a spot in my pantry. Though I have also liked some Japanese teas that have been pan-fried in the Chinese style so maybe something like that would float your boat (if you like Japanese greens)?


I love the long tasting notes! They’re so fun to read! :)


Aw, thanks Stephanie! I feel like I ramble way too much but when I try to edit it, I usually end up adding more! Ack! :)

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drank Lily Flower Tea by TeaCuppa
911 tasting notes

I got this not-tea a while ago, mostly because it says that it is supposed to be good for the lungs. I have a tendency towards bronchitis and typically disagree with most antibiotics, so I’m up for anything more natural to help me during those times.

Right now is one of those times. I have a cold. Another one. This is cold number three since September. It sucks. I’m miserable and, in hopes of preventing a sinus infection (like what happened with my last cold) or bronchitis, I’m dosing myself with anything and everything I can think of: decongestants, expectorants, herbs (four different ones, actually), homeopathic pills, steam, nasal irrigation and plenty of tea. I’m cycling through different teas (spearmint, Bronch-Aid, general happy teas and other miscellaneous herbals) and I decided that it is this one’s turn.

I’ve had this a couple of times before. I’m not sure how it does as far as lung-health, but it doesn’t cause anything to get worse so why not? This is not a tea I have for fun, though. It’s not nasty or anything. It’s just weird. Really weird. I mean, you’d think lily = flower so lily tea = floral notes, right? No. TeaCuppa says this is “refreshing with a sweet and smooth finish”. I say they must be drinking a different tea.

So what does this not-tea taste like?

Think Chinese food. Specifically, breaded Chinese food (chicken, perhaps?) with lots of garlic, some soy sauce and maybe even a few water chestnuts. It’s actually fairly complex for a single-ingredient herbal tea. But that complexity all ends up relating to Chinese food in my mind. And it’s weird to drink something that tastes like dinner.

The overall pungency is milder when it’s brewed at a lower temperature (195° versus 208°) and a two minute steep results in a brew that is simultaneously clear and cloudy. Mostly because the cloudy bits in the tea are fairly large (pollen?) so you can see the clear, light bronze colored liquid around the cloudy, floaty bits which range in color from yellow to dark orange. I tried photographing this tea once. It didn’t go well. This is as good as it got: http://flic.kr/p/9U6yjX

I find it virtually impossible to rate this tea. I mean, it’s not nasty – I can easily finish the whole cup. But it’s just so weird and that turns me off of it. But I drink it for the (hopefully) medicinal value and, as a medicinal not-tea, it’s pretty good in a suddenly-I’m-craving-General-Tso’s kind of way. I was coughing up a storm with my throat feeling all icky and scratchy before I had this. One cup down and my throat feels nicely moist and I no longer want to cough up a lung. (Okay, so I have never really wanted to cough up a lung, but sometimes it feels like I need to, you know?) I still have a bit of a tickle that makes me clear my throat every so often, but I’m feeling a lot better at the moment. I don’t recall my three cups of Keemun this morning making quite the same difference (but they were tastier, so trade-off, yes?).

Would I have this tea for fun? No, too weird. Will I have more today? Yep. Would I recommend this tea? Uhm, maybe? If you are up for weird stuff, like Chinese food and have lung issues that you’d like to pamper herbally, this could be the perfect tea for you. For myself, I imagine I’ll only be busting this on out when I am feeling unwell.

(ETA: The second steep (2:00) is weird but less weird than the first. Now it’s more a post-Chinese-food-dinner-that-I’m-following-with-fried-sesame-seed-balls (but without the sesame flavor). It’s sweet and almost glazed-bread-ish but pungent in a way that makes me think I’ve just eaten a heavy meal full of darker notes which still linger. It’s actually edging it’s way to good, not just weirdly inoffensive. Maybe the third steep will be more fried sesame balls. I love those things.)


Haha! This is such a weird one! I tried some too. It smelled like a smoked beef snack stick and tasted like tomato juice with a smokey finish. I agree that it’s surprisingly complex for a tisane and that while it is really weird tasting it isn’t hard to drink. I like this tisane a lot more than I should… Will I buy some to keep on hand??? Eh, probably not… Will I try it again someday for fun? Yeah, probably. It’s too unique and interesting not to!

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drank The du Tigre by Le Palais des Thes
911 tasting notes

Recently, my local(ish) grocery story re-did their tea section. They stopped carrying some of the more ‘normal’ teas (like Twinings and Bigelow) and added some new ones (like Teatulia and Le Palais des Thes). Even though most of the new teas they added are bagged (though they did add some loose, too), I couldn’t resist trying them. I was so pleased with Le Palais des Thes’ Blue of London that the next time I stopped into the store, I perused the other LPdT selections. This was one of the ones that I grabbed.

I do love smoky teas. Love them. But I am not too big on harsh tar in my smoky teas. And I just sort of expect tar in bagged Lapsang. (Probably because of the smell of the Twinings Lapsang Souchong bags that I use to make the husband’s iced tea.) So I really wasn’t expecting much from this tea. But yeah, I bought it anyway and was prepared to be disappointed.

I was wrong. It’s lovely! There’s no tar in this at all. It’s smooth and silky with no astringency and a nice, sweet ending. I will say, for a tea that is described as “the smokiest of the smoky”, it’s actually relatively mild. That’s not to say the smoke is hiding – oh no! It’s there, evoking thoughts of brisket, bacon and ham. But I was expecting harsh, strong and smoke that smacked me around. Instead it’s calming, softy smoky and has a very mellow overall feeling with a great smooth, round flavor. The ending is sweet and smooth and makes me think of caramelized sugar paired with soft smoke.

The bag gives off a great smoked-ham-with-a-honey-glaze sort of smoky smell, especially once hot water hits it. It’s mouthwatering. But after steeping for four minutes, the taste isn’t as strong as that smell. In fact, once the bag is removed, the smell mellows out to a thick, heavy fall-like smoke and sweetness. And that’s what the taste is – smoke, tea and sweetness. It’s not overly complex but it is very nice to have all three flavors present during all parts of the sip. It gives such a great overall feel to the tea – smoothness, sweetness, mellowness and cuddly fall-esque smoke.

If I had one complaint about this tea, it would be that it is almost too soft and mild. The strong smell of the steeping teabag leads me to expect more oomph in the smoke and not to have it almost on the same level as the sweetness in the tea. But honestly, I like the sweetness so much that I can’t find it in myself to complain too much about the relatively equal balance.

I’ve had more complex Lapsangs but I can’t off of the top of my head think of a sweeter one. And for a tea bag, this is rather impressive. In fact, I liked it so much that I used it to make a cheesecake (bacon cake!) for Thanksgiving. It was amazing! The sweetness of the tea worked well with the dessert aspects of the cheesecake and the smoky added a delightful hearty sophistication to it. I served the cake with cups of du Tigre and the pairing was wonderful, accenting the smokiness in the cheesecake and the sweetness in the tea. The cheesecake was so delicious; I would definitely be willing to repeat the experience. And even without the cheesecake, I’m enthusiastic about repeating this tea experience. I imagine I’ll buy this tea again (and again).

(And if anyone is interested in the recipe I used, here it is: http://pinkness.danzimmermann.com/2011/11/bacon-cake.html)


Innovative and absolutely delicious looking cheesecake!


I am definitely trying this at some point! : ) It sounds amazing! Congrats!


I agree, a smoky shouldn’t just be all prickles and nothing else. That’s the sort of thing that feels more like standing in a smokefilled room with a mouth full of water rather than having a cup of tea. There should, in my ideal smoky, be lots of smoke, but there should be depth to the cup as well. Any Lapsang that doesn’t have that underlying fruity sweet note could never be my perfect Lapsang.

And I can NOT wait to try the cheesecake! I’ve been lusting for it for days now since you posted it, but it’s the silliest thing holding me back at the moment. Haven’t got anything to make the thing IN! I may have to explore the cupboards and improvise… (what could go wrong? Oh wait… don’t answer that.)


JacquelineM, I wish I could take the credit for the innovation but I just swapped the coffee in the cheesecake recipe for tea (and accidentally read the ingredients wrong and used too much water/tea – but it turned out so great I’m keeping the mistake in!) But it is totally delicious!

Ninavampi, Thank you! Successful cheesecake-making always tickles me! I’d love to hear how it goes for you when you decide to give it a go!

Angrboda, I think this tea could use a bit more smoke but I wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice the sweetness to get it because you are right, that sweetness is such an important part to a quality smoky tea.

Also, if you don’t have a springform pan, Alton Brown says that you can use a normal 3" deep round pan lined in parchment paper. I haven’t tried it (yet) but there is a video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycxKlc4aYy0. Pan discussion starts at 3:30 and the pan prep info starts at about 4:30. Removing the cheesecake from the pan is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eldnGp4lbGU starting at 4:30. (By the way, his knife in hot water between each slice trick? Makes slicing so much easier! I love Alton Brown!)


The only round things I have that I can put in the oven is the pie dish, which wouldn’t do. It would be too flat and totally not the same thing. Height matters! :p I think I’ll either go an invest in something suitable or deal with the fact that it won’t be round, which really bothers me for some reason.


Okay, that wouldn’t do it then! I am intrigued by the idea of a square cheesecake though but agree, it would be weird (for some reason).


It would be even weirder than a big flat one. Maybe I’ll just make a discreet purchase one of these days…

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I’m trying to be a better tea logger and actually post semi-regularly again! I’ve let my tea tasting senses become too complacent – it’s time for some focused and attentive tea drinking!

Sometimes my notices for PMs and such have been questionable. Email me at your own risk at aug3zimm at gmail dot com.

1 – 10 – Bleck. Didn’t finish the cup.
11 – 25 – Drinkable. But don’t punish me by making me have it again.
26 – 40 – Meh. Most likely will see if the husband likes it iced.
41 – 60 – Okayish. Maybe one day I’ll kill off what I have in my pantry.
61 – 75 – Decent. I might pick some up if I needed tea.
76 – 85 – Nice. I’d probably buy but wouldn’t hunt it down.
86 – 100 – Yum! I will hunt down the vendor to get this tea!

Not that anyone but me particularly cares, but there it is.





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