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Recent Tasting Notes
Something that someone at the office had, and I realized that I’ve never actually had CS’s Silver Needle before despite having tried a bunch of other weird or interesting white teas that they offer – so I asked if I could make myself a cup and was told “Of course, help yourself!”. I love being in an office of tea people…
This was fine, but nothing to write home over. A little bit fruity, but mostly just your typical floral and straw notes. Kind of chamomile-y, which is probably at least part of why I didn’t LOVE it. Not big into that flavor profile…
This is quite an interesting tea. I pulled it out of the TTB and am enjoying my last cup.
There is a lot of lemon and strawberry, it actually tastes a lot like lemon and strawberry PEZ mixed together, but without the sweetness. The base is flavourful and lightly floral. I think it is is a vegetal white like Bai Mu Dan) because there are some herby and bok choy vegetal notes that stand out. It also reminds me of pineapple, maybe based on the acidity and fruity flavour.
Flavors: Candy, Citrus, Floral, Lemon, Pineapple, Strawberry, Vegetal
This Dragonwell isn’t anything special but it is a pleasant cup; it strikes the right balance between a pleasantly nutty and grassy profile. Nuts are the thing that hooked me onto this type of tea years back when I was just learning that green tea doesn’t necessarily equate to Bitter Veggies of Death. To this day, as long as a hazelnut, peanut, or sesame profile is present and the leaves aren’t burnt and astringent (looking at you David’s Tea Dragonwell circa 2012), I’m more or less in a nostalgic happy place.
To double the nostalgia, I’ve been using this as a filler base for my remaining With Open Eyes from Butiki (A Strawberry Ginger Dragonwell blend from 2015). That Butiki blend is essentially a wilted brown hue now, but the ginger and strawberry are still quite bright; they just need a nut-grass pick-me-up!
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Hazelnut, Nuts, Peanut, Spinach
The moot (mock trial) that has been causing me so much stress is finally done. I did it last night and this weekend I can finally relax. I am still worried about drinking too much tea so I have been avoiding it or only having a cup but at least I can just hang out at home and relax if I am dizzy…
I am currently sipping on this tea shared by Roswell Strange while watching the strangest documentary, Abducted in Plain Sight, and trying to not order ice cream or bubble tea despite a wicked craving.
This tea has a nice apricot flavor but it is also very floral from the base tea. Floral and a touch roasted. It is good though I don’t love the base tea. There is a slight twang here that pulls me out of the juicy and sweet apricot notes.
Thank you for sharing, Roswell Strange!
Before event starting to brew this tea, knowing I’m about to take notes on my experience, it hits me how little I’ve paid attention to what Japanese green teas taste like. Now, to take a moment and appreciate fully.
The dry leaves give me hint of seaweed, and nori. Sweet and umami.
The first steep’s liquor is yellow with strong green tint. Smelling it, I get some nuts. It’s a very warming smell.
A quick look at the wet leaves reveal how brightly green they are, so I ran around the room with the teapot in hands, trying to catch the best natural light to fully enjoy the sight.
I left my first steep cool down quite a bit before sipping it. I get the typical umami flavours of Japanese green, with a slight bitterness at the back. I take the time to analyse what flavours hit me. And the more I think, the more I’m reminded of clams, with a heavy iodine taste at the back of my tongue.
On the second steep, the tea is a bright yellow. The aromas are warmer. Cooked vegetables…possibly string beans. It feels like everything sea-like is now gone.
A pleasing sweetness lingers at the back of the tongue.
The third steep continues in the same vein as the second, still going strong. The fourth steep starts to dilute down, becoming a bit more watery.
Overall, a highly pleasant sencha.
The wet leaves give hint of a pleasant light roast, and sweet grass.
The 1st steep, I’m hit by how silky this tea is. The tea aromas remind me of small, fresh flowers. Already, I’m hit by a strong, sweet lingering aftertaste.
The second steep is still as silky as the first. I’m getting some grassy notes through the flowers.
Sipping on the 3rd steep, the tea feels heavy on the tongue, and still gives away sweet grass and flowers.
Around the 6th steep, the tea starts to lose in texture, and gains astringency. Still, it leaves a nice aftertaste.
It took me a month to record notes on this tea, after sharing a gong fu session at the Camellia Sinensis tea house, but I couldn’t let this one pass without a word about it.
A tea recommended to celebrate my yearly passage back at home. And what an experience it was!
Amongst the first shou pu er to be made, the process was not yet fully standardized, offering a different palette of taste. I remember, we were not in the typical shou puer flavours. Instead, the tea offered the fruitiness of dried plums, mixed with the fermented umami of soy sauce.
Good times, in good company, for many many steeps.
I chose this sample from VariaTEA because I thought it would make a good strong morning tea before work, but when I saw how dark it brewed up I was a little nervous. It’s actually quite smooth, and not really astringent at all, but it hasn’t aged the best and I know that’s my fault and not the tea’s. I’m almost through all of my little plastic baggie samples, and aim to be completely done with them before the end of next month. Most of them have held up pretty well but a few, this one included, have become victims of age. There is a definite rich chocolate scent lingering in the air around the cup, but sadly this doesn’t translate into the flavour. Plain it’s more a vanilla tea, a pinch of sugar brings out the chocolate slightly more and a splash of milk doesn’t do much but give it a richer mouthfeel. I’m annoyed with myself because I bet this tea would have been just what I was hoping for today if it were fresher. Rating without factoring in the fustiness.
Happy new year! I hope 2019 will be a better year for everyone.
I bought this as part of a Taiwanese tea sampler in 2018. To my knowledge, it’s the first time Camellia Sinensis has carried this varietal. I steeped around 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 40, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds. Annoyingly, there’s about 2.5 g of tea left in the bag, which I’ll subsequently try to Western steep in my ridiculously huge mug.
The dry leaves smell like honey and heady flowers, and the liquor backs this up. The first four steeps have notes of honey, lilac, honeysuckle, spinach, and grass. A balsam note comes in on steep three, and the balance among the spinach, honey, and florals is good. By the fifth steep, the honey starts to diminish and the tea gets more vegetal. It lasts for a good eight steeps.
This is a pleasant, if not a very memorable, oolong with decent staying power. I’d definitely recommend it for the price.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Sap, Spinach, Vegetal
Picked up a bag of this from my trip to Camellia Sinensis last weekend, along with a few other things…
This was a pretty cool moment for me; I’ve been shopping at CS for year now and have spent probably over a thousand dollars there in tea and teaware. It’s one of my favourite tea stores of all time, and I am FINALLY living somewhere were I can actually go there and shop/smell the teas in person. It was a big “crossing it off the tea bucket list” type of moment for me!
This tea smelled amazing in store – insanely ripe and juicy apricot notes that just jump out at you. It’s really full bodied, really sweet, and very in your face. The steeped tea definitely isn’t quite so lively as that dry aroma, nor is it as sweet and well defined of a flavour. However, it does still taste like fresh, ripe apricots and is very smooth. Not overly sweet, really natural tasting and perfectly compliments the more floral leaning base oolong tea. I do wish it was a little juicier so as to better match the dry aroma, but all in all its a really pleasant flavor and probably one of the best apricot teas I’ve ever had. I bet it would be KILLER iced or cold brewed!
Something that was shared in office today – in tea bag/sachet format. I’m not a chai person and this is very much classic “North American style” chai. Very typical for what I would expect from a generic grocery store type of chai tea, and I can see why Camellia Sinensis would want to see this/why this would be one of the few teas that they offer in sachet format so that it’s super accessible to the more ‘casual’ customer/consumer.
Not my jam though (aside from the cardamom notes) – and if I’ve going to get a chai from CS I feel like I would, personally, want one of the ones that is a little bit more unique to them and less ‘commercial’.
Back in 2015 when I was just getting into tea, I picked up 100 g of a Singell first flush Darjeeling from what was then Golden Tips Tea and was blown away. I’ve been plotting to get my hands on another one ever since. Judging from the previous seven-year-old tasting note, Camellia Sinensis carries this regularly. I steeped about 1.5 teaspoons of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 200F for 3.5 and 5 minutes.
This is definitely a first flush tea. I get strong herbaceous notes (thyme?) backed by sap, minerals, and light florals. There’s no muscatel or other fruit. Although the range of flavours is small, this tea is exceptionally smooth and balanced and has little astringency. The second steep is almost as good as the first.
Though it didn’t live up to my transcendent experience with Singell in 2015, this is a very nice first flush Darjeeling, especially for those who like their teas on the greener side. Despite not being able to pinpoint all the flavours, I’ve had it four times in the past week or so, which is unusually consistent for a leafhopper like me. However, the Thurbo Darjeeling, with its muscatel flavours, is more my style, and I wish I’d bought more of it instead. I should just accept that I prefer later-invoice first flushes and second flush Darjeelings, in spite of the cachet of early-invoice FFs.
Flavors: Floral, Green, Herbaceous, Sap, Smooth, Thyme
This is the last tea in the Indian taster kit I picked up earlier this year. I’ve heard good things about the Glendale Estate, and honestly, it was this tea that convinced me to get the sampler. These gorgeous fuzzy white needles sold out quickly and the description is no longer on the website. I went with the steeping instructions for the Nilgiri white tea that’s currently available, though 167F seems a bit low to me. Nonetheless, I steeped three teaspoons of leaf in a 120 ml vessel at 167F for 30, 20, 40, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus a few untimed steeps at the end of the session.
The aroma of the wet tea leaves is a mix of hay and stonefruit, possibly apricot. The first steep has notes of hay, banana, honey, linen, and herbs, with a sugarcane sweetness in the aftertaste. The liquor also tastes fuzzy, either from the trichomes or from the power of suggestion. In short, it’s a high-quality version of a generic white tea. Upping the temperature to 175F in the next couple steeps introduces a faint grassy note, but leaves the rest of the flavour profile pretty much unchanged. Subtle hints of apricot show up here and there, but I really have to look for them. The tea fades slowly, acquiring a sharper, more herbaceous astringency but changing very little.
I had perhaps too high expectations for this tea, and while it’s solid, I didn’t think it was remarkable or distinctive. Maybe I’m using the wrong instructions, or maybe it’s better Western steeped. I’ll continue to play with the 15 or so grams I have left.
Flavors: Apricot, banana, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Stonefruits, Sugarcane
I received this tea as a free sample with my last Camellia Sinensis order. It’s slightly pricier than the Namring Darjeeling and Temi Sikkim teas that were part of the Indian sampler pack, and the fluffy, bud-heavy leaves seem to be of high quality. I steeped two teaspoons of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 3:30 and 5:00 minutes.
While the Namring was very herbaceous, this tea has more of the muscatel and peach notes typical of a second flush Darjeeling, with fainter notes of florals, herbs, spices, and grass. (I have no idea what amber tastes like, so I can’t say whether that part of the website’s description is accurate.) The second steep is sweeter, more floral, and ever so slightly astringent. There’s a lovely herbaceous and muscatel aroma left in my Finum infuser, but I know by now that the third cup of Darjeeling is always disappointing.
This tea has a great balance of fruity, floral, and herbaceous notes. My only complaint is that even with two heaping teaspoons, it’s very subtle and the flavours never really pop. Next time, I might try it with more leaf.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Muscatel, Peach, Spicy, Sweet
Freebie sample from one of my past orders.
This one smells amazing as dry leaf; really intense and rich with notes of super dark chocolate, red wine, oak wood, toasted almond, and undertones of overripe raspberries. Steeped up, the flavour is definitely a little less robust and full bodied but it’s still really strong and very smooth – zero astringency. The primary taste is a combination of dark chocolate and malt, with top notes of brown rice or toasted nuts of some kind. Body has that some oak wood taste. There’s more of a bright sweetness/fruitiness to the undertones – something raspberry like, or like a very ripe cherry? I seem to have lost the wine aroma I was getting from the dry leaf though; doesn’t translate to the taste.
As a “whole” this gives me high quality dark chocolate truffle with raspberry filling kind of vibes – decadent, and perfectly indulgent.
Made in a tea press.
Very soft/mellow and smooth for a shou pu’erh with primary notes of dates, dried out wood, and prunes. Pleasant, but also a little bland? I don’t know; I guess it wasn’t bad but sipping on it I found it not meeting my cravings. I think it just wasn’t bold enough in the flavour it was offering…
Am I the only one who does this? I just reach a point on my days off where I just sort of ‘conk out’ mid afternoon, and I make myself a cup of tea and plop myself down on the couch or my bed with the tea on a side table next to me and I just drift in and out of sleep, taking sips of tea in between moments of slumber. By the time I wake up and hour or so later I’ve finished the cup of tea – usually with next to no recollection of doing so. It’s a very calming/relaxing experience but also just not helpful for recollecting tasting notes. All I remember from this one was an overall mellowness of flavour, and hints of sweetness and camphor.
I think I enjoyed it though.
This is another of the teas in the India taster kit. While I enjoy trying things from less well-known growing regions, the reviews of past offerings from the Temi tea garden didn’t look promising. For this reason, I probably wouldn’t have purchased this on its own.
I made two attempts to brew this tea correctly. Both times, I steeped two teaspoons of the unbroken khakhi leaves in 355 ml of 200F water. In the first session, I steeped it for 3 and 6 minutes, respectively, but because the flavours weren’t coming through, I upped the time to 4 and 6 minutes in the second round. My notes are for session number two.
First off, the aroma is wonderful, with notes of sweet muscatel and papaya. In the mouth, wood, tannins, grass, dried flowers, and lemon balance the profile. The longer steep time did produce a bit more astringency. The second steep is a muted version of the first, though I could detect faint hints of the spice promised in the product description.
This is an enjoyable Darjeeling-like tea that I won’t have any trouble finishing. It’s not mindblowing, but it’s better than I was led to believe by some of the reviews of previous lots.
Flavors: Flowers, Grass, Lemon, Muscatel, Spices, Tannin, Tropical, Wood
Woohoo! I finally have some spring 2018 teas! Camellia Sinensis is one of my favourite Canadian tea retailers, not least because I don’t have to deal with the U.S. exchange rate.
This Darjeeling is part of a three-tea India taster kit. If I remember rightly, the EX preface on the invoice number means that it’s harvested before the standard DJ invoices, and the fluffy green leaves bear this out. I steeped two teaspoons in 355 ml of 203F water for 4 and 6 minutes.
The first steep has notes of salt, minerals, umami, muscatel, dried flowers, and herbs, with a drying astringency. The aftertaste is especially green and herbaceous. My initial four-minute steep may have been a mistake, and next time, I’ll cut it down to three. The second steep is also vegetal, herbaceous, and astringent.
A very green first flush Darjeeling, this tea would probably benefit from shorter steeps and lower temperatures. As is, I like the herbaceous character, but wish there was more fruit to balance it out.
Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Green, Herbaceous, Mineral, Muscatel, Salty, Umami, Vegetal
Just a late night mug of it while binging some Game Grumps on Youtube. There’s something very hilarious, to me, in the contrast between such a warm, comforting and nuanced cup of tea like a Rou Gui when paired with two very loud, sort of sexually deviant Youtubers shouting into their microphones as they trash talk each other rather violently during an especially aggressive game of Monopoly. I think the delicate, calming elements of the tea cancel it out, though…
Tasting notes were roasted pecans and almonds, oak wood, tree bark, raisin, cinnamon, REALLY light hints of dark cherries, and a somewhat floral finish. A lot of flavours to unpack in this one; but if you take the time to focus on it in between shouting matches about unfair Community Chest rewards and immediately hitting luxury tax after passing go then it’s a really unique, interesting varietal with a lot of interesting qualities.
Made this one in a tea press.
I swear I’ve had this one before; maybe it’s just one of those very rare teas that seems to slip through the cracks that I forget to review…
Regardless; this was nice. I always sort of prefer to steep Rou Gui gongfu because I really love the typical evolution of flavour that this tea has, but I was craving a roasted oolong on this particular morning and this was the first when I saw when browsing my cupboards, and I’ve got enough of it on hand that making a travel mug of it certainly wasn’t going to tap out my stash. It has a very nice roasted barley and char sort of initial sip with more of those expected cinnamon notes coming through immediately following the initial roastyness. In addition to cinnamon, I feel like this tea also had some other spice notes such as cumin and clove. The body then rounds out to more of a sweet and malty note, with undertones of raisins and plums. Also quite woody. I feel like because I didn’t do multiple infusions I didn’t really get to tap into the floral elements or more robustly sweet fruity qualities that I generally do with a Rou Gui but the overall profile was really comforting, and I think that’s why I was craving something like this on such a drizzly, rainy day.