Octavia TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I picked up 1 oz. of this tea last summer during my Oregon Coast/Portland vacation, from a lovely chocolate shop called Cannon Beach Chocolate Cafe. I thought I should finally get around to writing up my tea drinking from that trip/the PDX Tea Fes… part of me was thinking, “It happened last July, who cares now?” but if eastkyteaguy can catch up on backlogged reviews, why can’t I? Since I had the dry leaf of this one I decided to make up a cup to enjoy while working on my write-ups.
I’ll admit, when I saw this chocolate shop had a (small) selection of Octavia teas (and you could purchase by the ounce!) I had to have a cuppa. I was most interested in this one since tea-sipper loves it so much.
The tea has a strong vanilla aroma, and I pick up hints of caramel/molasses in the aroma as well. The tea is medium bodied, so not as strong as most breakfast teas, and the base tea (a blend of Dian Hong and Ancient Yunnan Broken Pekoe) has notes of malt, honey, and orange rind, with a subtle smokiness. The vanilla flavor is smooth and brings out a somewhat caramel note from the sweetness with the base tea for me. When I tried this initially at the shop, I didn’t pick up any florality from the cup, but today I am tasting a very subtle rose sweetness near the end of the sip. It is not a strong, defined rose flavor, more of a whisper. The tea is quite smooth, with a very light astringency toward the back of my tongue/mouth after the sip.
It is a very satisfying tea and I’m glad I picked up a small amount so I could revisit it!
Flavors: Caramel, Floral, Honey, Malt, Orange Zest, Rose, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla
Another sample from Octavia Tea! Thanks so much! Mango teas are some of my favorites, so I had to try this one. Summer is waning so I have to revisit the mango and melon teas in my collection! This is a lovely looking white tea with itty bitty pieces of mango. Mango and melon have always paired well with white teas and this is no exception. Somehow to me, this tastes more like melon, or it’s switching between the two flavors. Possibly the white tea naturally tastes like melon. But then the hairs on the white tea give the tea a starchy quality like mango occasionally has in the fruit itself. It’s refreshing, light, and definitely fruity. I bet this is even better when you use around three teaspoons for a mug but I didn’t want to do that to my sample. I do give the tea points for actually including mango in the blend and not just flavoring.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 26 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 16 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Thanks again for the samples, Octavia Tea! I usually wouldn’t choose an English Breakfast myself, but this particular one couldn’t be better. The leaves are smaller, almost like a CTC leaf, but I think that is what an English Breakfast tea should be. No weak breakfast teas for me, please. I certainly would love to drink this during breakfast! I steeped up a teaspoon and a quarter and the brew was mighty dark — not too dark to be astringent though. The flavor is a great example of what to expect from this type: malty and sweet, yet bold but not bitter. The first cup tasted like tomato soup, which led me to believe that it was an assam, so I wasn’t surprised to see the origin for this tea on Octavia’s website as being Assam, India. I believe an English Breakfast shouldn’t only be from Assam (a typical blend is also from Kenya and Ceylon, according to Wikipedia) but this is such a great tea, I won’t complain much. A kick in the morning and very tasty!
Steep #1 // 1 1/4 teaspoons for a full mug // 16 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Thanks so much for the samples, Octavia Tea! To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much in a pu-erh from a tea shop that doesn’t specialize in pu-erh, or at least carry more than a handful of them… but I WAS WRONG. This ripe pu-erh is amazing. None of those unlikable pu-erh characteristics in scent or flavor. It’s delicious the entire steep session. Just the pu-erh I was craving yesterday. Two teaspoons is the essential amount for a mug. The scent of the dry leaves is like a bread baked with hay. The flavor is much the same, but with sweetness, starchiness, and even at times a bit of a creamy taste and mouthfeel. I think I could have steeped more than three delicious steeps with these leaves. It’s very smooth but at the same time very dark and everything I always want in a great ripe pu-erh. I don’t bother with the highest quality pu-erh, but I’ve had enough pu-erh to know that this one is good enough for me to be a favorite.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug // rinse // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 7 minutes after boiling // 2-3 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 5 minute steep
Thanks for another sample, Octavia Tea! I was not enthusiastic about this one, as I’m not a fan of turmeric. The couple of times I had a turmeric tea it was too bitter with an odd dusty quality. I couldn’t tell what the appeal of turmeric was. But apparently it’s a healthy. I usually don’t like ginger either. And ginger and turmeric come from the same plant family so it’s no wonder I don’t like them. So this tea might not have been the one I’d choose to reach for. Anyway, this is the best a turmeric cup can possibly get and was actually enjoyable, resulting in a flavor that was mostly licorice. The licorice was probably included to make the turmeric smoother. The golden brew was earthy and sweet. Not too many of the citrus ingredients came through in the flavor: Licorice first, turmeric second. I expected a much worse result.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // just boiled // 6 minute steep
Thanks again for the amazing samples, Octavia Tea! This is a classic Chinese Yunnan tea: Black leaves with touches of gold. One heaping teaspoon seems to make the perfect brew. This is everything I want and expect in a classic Yunnan tea. The brew is black as night, the mouthfeel is smooth and silky, no astringency or bitterness can be found. Even the third steep in which I only filled the mug half full was very delicious and full of flavor. Lovely chocolate notes with hints of sweet potato and even a bit of a starchy quality. It’s a lovely tea. I really like it. I’d stock up on this one. The cupboard must always have at least one Yunnan!
I’ll also say: I do like many of Octavia’s teas, but their sizes are a bit awkward. They have a sample size that has a few teaspoons, then a tin with 1-3 ounces of each tea depending on the tea, then the other option is a full pound. (I like their packaging for the samples though – very thick and resealable!) So I wish they had a two ounce pouch option or something. That is my one complaint of Octavia’s awesome teas so far!
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug // 16 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
Steep #3 // (half mug) just boiled // 6 minute steep
How am I the first to write a tasting note for this one?!? Another from Octavia Tea… thanks so much! I was intrigued by this one and for good reason. I have no idea how bergamot works so well with chocolate, but it just does. Maybe it’s like those chocolate oranges. They seem like an odd combination, but they work. There are so many chocolate chips in the blend… BIG chocolate chips. Also plenty of rose petals. So not a lot of room for the black tea leaves, at least in my sample. For that reason the color of the brew looks more like a milk chocolate than a dark chocolate but the flavor is divine. Plenty of that chocolate melted. But there is also a lovely bergamot, sweet, that pairs very well with the chocolate. Basically the perfect type of bergamot that will work with chocolate. I’m not tasting very much rose from the petals, but it’s fine with me if I’m tasting mostly bergamot and chocolate. Also included is some carob, that gives it that extra level of flavor, a nice tang of bittersweet. I like that the base tea is Chinese black tea… if I had to say which base is most like chocolate on its own, I would say a Chinese black. So it’s a good choice here. All of the ingredients really compliment each other. The second cup was just as delicious, probably allowing the chocolate chips to melt the rest of the way. If you like Lupicia’s Earl Grey Chocolat, you’d probably like this. (Incidentally, to make sure I had the name correct on the Lupicia, I noticed I also gave that tea a rating of 94.) This cup is quite the indulgence, absolutely delicious, a dainty appreciative slow sipper. A favorite from Octavia, definitely.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug // 19 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4-5 minute steep
Flavors: Bergamot, Chocolate
Another fantastic sample from Octavia Tea! Thanks again! I’m very picky about my Earls but this one passes the test. The base tea is robust and strong. But the bergamot is also strong, doesn’t waver in the face of this strong base! I like the strong citrusy aromatic bergamot here. My favorite Earls need to have the distinct base tea battling a tough bergamot and this Earl definitely does that. My absolute favorite Earls need to have a cream flavor, but I will admit this isn’t supposed to be creamy anyway. The photo of the tea looks like a Yunnan with occasional golden leaves, but my sample had no gold at all and was a pure black tea. The description does mention the base tea being Yunnan. I’m not sure if my sample still is… if I had to guess I’d say it was Assam. I’d probably like bergamot better with Assam rather than Yunnan anyway. Both steeps were delicious and full of flavor. Not my favorite Earl ever, but that is an impossible bar to reach anyway.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 19 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
Another tasty sample from Octavia Tea – thanks again! This is one of those lovely oolongs from Taiwan. The description says this is also called “Jade Oolong” or “Four Seasons”. One heaping teaspoon of bright emerald unravels into a full infuser basket of leaves. The flavor was a tiny bit astringent so I don’t think I need to use a full teaspoon for a mug. But the flavor otherwise was sweet, fruity, floral, slightly creamy and buttery and overall a high quality Taiwanese oolong. This seems to combine 99% of the flavor notes that most green oolongs usually have: fruity, floral, sweet, creamy, buttery. It’s almost like an oolong of broad flavor categories rather than specific flavor details. Getting rid of that astringency by using less leaves would make it even better. I will admit this is a tough one to describe other than delicious. (But sometimes it’s okay to just note how good a tea is… or isn’t?)
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 12 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 2 min
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 22 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 1/2 minute steep
Thanks again for the samples, Octavia Tea! The idea of a strictly peach oolong does seem AMAZING in theory. As it’s marketed as a peach oolong, I don’t see or taste much in the way of peach or oolong. There are too many other ingredients here. I see the occasional long piece of oolong leaf primarily after the tea is steeped. Otherwise, it’s a fruity cup with plenty of lemongrass, tiny apple cubes, hibiscus, and an occasional orange slice. The description also mentions peach, so maybe they are indistinguishable from the apple cubes. I used 1 3/4 teaspoons to make sure I had a decent amount of the ingredients in the cup. Overall, it certainly tastes fruity, but a bit too much of the hibiscus drowns out those other flavors, definitely overpowering any oolong flavor. This one certainly tastes better in the summer than it would in the winter. Since lemons are cheap right now (ten for a dollar!), I added a bit of lemon to the second steep and it tasted delicious with that citrus wedge that was already in the infuser.
Steep #1 // 1 3/4 teaspoons for a full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Thanks again for the samples, Octavia Tea! All delicious so far. This one is intriguing as I LOVE lavender and lemon combinations. Chock full of all sorts of lemon ingredients and a little bit of lavender, it’s no surprise that the lemon takes over in this one. All the elements of lemon are here – tart, sweet, refreshing, earthy. The taste is also like a lemon topping on a donut. I was worried that the “lemongrass” in the name would mean the lemongrass was the most distinct lemon flavor (and my least favorite lemon element) but that isn’t the case at all. It’s all sorts of lemon but lemongrass stays in the background. Sadly, so does the lavender. I would have loved a ton more lavender here to balance it out. I suppose I could acquire some lavender somehow and add more lavender? The lemon is fine anyway! However, this blend does include some splenda. It was very noticeable in the first steep but faded out in the second steep. Don’t miss the looonnnnggg second steep with this one! It was somehow even more lemon than the first cup. So some points off for including splenda and not enough lavender, but overall, I really like this no caffeine cup on hot summer nights. It can easily satisfy the craving for lemonade!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 12 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 2 minutes after boiling // 6 minute steep
Thanks again for the samples, Octavia Tea! I was a little worried about this one. It’s a caffeine-free combination of some ingredients that I thought would be very sour: rosehips, hibiscus, schizandra berries, and strawberry and blueberry flavor. My past experience with schizandra berries has been unbearably sour. But upon steeping, I had nothing to fear. The flavor isn’t very sour at all and is actually quite delicious. The perfect level of tart, fruity, with surprising amount of blueberry flavor. The second steep is a light pink brew and much of the same flavor: lighter than the first steep but delicious. This one would be amazing as an iced tea. It’s very refreshing even while it’s hot. A tasty hibiscus blend, when hibiscus usually isn’t my thing at all.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 4 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 5 minute steep
Thanks again for the wonderful samples, Octavia Tea! I thought I’d take the opportunity on this brisk windy June day to steep up some chai. I love chai and salted caramel so this sounds interesting. The ingredients are finely chopped to maximize the flavors: a broken pekoe black tea from Yunnan, tons of spices, and some odd ingredients like coconut, cocoa shells and sarsaparilla root. The directions say I should boil the tea directly in a pan with milk and water, but I’m just steeping it like a traditional tea, in an infuser with a full mug of water. No milk or sweeteners of any kind. It’s how I like my chai anyway. I was questioning how these ingredients would taste like Salted Caramel and it doesn’t really taste like that to me. It tastes like a traditional chai, emphasis on raisin notes, with plenty of sarsaparilla, both in the dry leaf and the flavor. I think it’s the perfect strength black tea for the flavors. It tastes more like root beer than salted caramel but I can’t usually complain about any chai. Chai was the first tea I tried and I usually enjoy every cup of chai I have. Some points are taken off this one for the inaccurate name.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
2019 Sipdowns: 50 (Whispering Pines – Yunnan Gold Black)
I was thrilled to be able to try this one. Thanks so much Octavia Tea! I LOVE Bao Zhong and if it’s called “Orchid Bao Zhong”, I’m especially intrigued — my favorite oolongs taste like flowers. The leaves are bigger, as Bao Zhong leaves usually are, but not the biggest I’ve seen from a Bao Zhong. The brew color is a light green. The flavor is lovely, but not something I’d call particularly ‘orchid’. It’s a milky flavor and creamy texture, which is surprising to me for a Bao Zhong. The aftertaste turns into subtle hints of lingering fruits like pineapple with the milk turning into coconut, which is more what I expect from this type of oolong. All four steeps seemed completely different in flavor – the last two being more buttery. I think the leaves could have kept going for many steeps. I also think I should try this with a flat teaspoon instead of a heaping teaspoon, to see if it’s even smoother. A very delicious oolong, but I wouldn’t say the flavor profile distinctly tells me it’s a Bao Zhong oolong if it were a blind taste test, though to be honest, I’ve only tried a handful of Bao Zhong teas.
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 13 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #3 // 13 minutes after boiling // 2 min steep
Steep #4 // just boiled // 3 min steep
I’ve dreamed of what this tea tasted like since I heard about it years ago. So I really appreciate the sample, Octavia Tea! THIS TEA TASTES JUST AS A I DREAMED IT. The name of the tea is very accurate: it tastes just like a berry truffle. First, the ingredients seem finely chopped, on the smaller side, which I knew would create a darker flavor: black tea, cocoa shells/husks, strawberries, raspberries and flowers. I used a teaspoon and a half which seems perfect. Can I scream from the rooftops how much I love the use of COCOA HUSKS here? I always appreciate cocoa shells. The dusky cocoa on the black tea base with the flavor of berries is just perfectly balanced all the way through. Close your eyes and it tastes just like a chocolate filled with berry ganache. I could probably do without the various flower petals, just to have room for more of the truffle ingredients, though that is a small complaint for this amazing tea. I haven’t seen this blend anywhere else — it’s one of those flavor combinations that will linger like Octavia’s French Breakfast. I had a ton of berries this morning, so it certainly wasn’t a case of a craving for berries! This tea stands on its own.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 17 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 4 minutes after boiling // 4 minute steep
2019 sipdowns: 49 (one of my pouches of Della Terra’s Classic Apple Pie)
Another sample from Octavia! Thank you so much! For a chai, the brew is very very light amber on both steeps. Surprising for chai to be so light, but it really works with the spices here. The flavor just MELDS into perfection. The most balanced, perfect flavor combination. It’s almost like a spicy sweet potato dish with marshmallow on top. It’s warming, sweet, smooth. I don’t really see those huge vanilla pieces in my sample that I see in the photo for the tea. The flavor has hints of vanilla but more vanilla than I expected among these spices. That crushed cardamom really comes through in the flavor. The combination of everything here is just this calming, lingering, lovely light base chai that I don’t stumble across too often, so I can certainly appreciate this one. Even at much hotter temperatures, the second steep is the color of palest amber. (Though I love the brisk, dark chai too, this one is a change for the cupboard!)
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 26 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 2 minutes after boiling // 4 minute steep
Poor tea… this is from an ancient teabox, a single hand filled tea bag, artfully hand wrapped in something like paper. So it wasn’t even SEALED… it was wrapped in something like PAPER… but the flavor is lovely. The best sort of chamomile. All sweetness, apples, and summery field plants. I’m so glad I gave this one a chance. I can’t imagine it being better when it was fresh (or even sealed). Delicious stuff. I really want to try more of Octavia’s teas. I LOVE their French Breakfast and I’d love to get more. Maybe next year.
Hauled this one out. Nothing to add to what I’ve said before.
If anyone is wondering what happened to my longwinded rambles of before, I,’all tell you. Still no WiFi chez moi. However, a friend gave me a teeny tablet which makes access out in the world far easier. I am grateful. That said, the thing is a PITA to use and messages disappear. And who in their right mind wants to spend hours in a cafe typing w a little stick. Especially a tea drinker who has mountains of tea at home.
I did not expect this tea to be good as it was. I was looking for a descent loose leaf while I was down in FL, and since this company’s teas were offered, I had to get at least one tea straight. You don’t normally see more mainstream American companies carry more than one type of Dan Cong. The other selections looked decent, but more expensive. I got a whiff of the phoenix mountain one they carried, and it was nice and heather like, but I know what a Dancong like that tastes like, so I opted for the Ba Xian that was more floral.
My brewing parameters were more ad hoc than usual since I used a Ninja Machine for some hot water and a smaller than normal strainer. The shortest steeps were at 45 seconds including the water pouring at 4 grams for a hefty 12 oz mug, the lighter were three grams at 3 minutes.
The lighter I went, the creamier and the more floral it was. The company claimed the tea “offers a creamy, velvety texture with generous notes of warm, buttery cinnamon buns and a lingering, orange-flower-honey finish” and I can see where they were going. The mouthfeel was the highlight, and the notes edged around cream, violets, cinnamon, yeasty sweet rolls, and almonds. Viscosity was a given. The honey notes were in longer steeps or with more leaves-that’s when I got the citrus touch I associate dan congs with, though not quite as fruity as the many others I’ve experienced. The touch was actually kinda welcomed.
It is on the light side, but it did not lack in flavor. It only lacked in staying power giving me 2 to 3 brews on average. Grandpa was also not a bad way to go for this one.
Ordinarily, I would have rated this one in the eighties, but after tasting some of my more “prestigious” teas at home, a part of me is re-evaluating that. The fusion of the cinnamon note and the creamy Dan Cong florals is what made it stand out to me. It was very easy to drink, and it might be a selection I’d welcome to lighter tea drinkers. I’d be interested to see what other people would think of this one, but for me, it was nuance done right.
I am not home, so I do not have access to the ones I’ve been itching to write about. I was, however, able to stumble on this brand at a Spice Shop in Cocoa Village, FL. I’ve been meaning to try this one. I almost picked the Lemongrass Oolong since it was an bergamot blend, but there was something off about the smell. I also hesitated with this one since the dry leaf sample smelled like a dried up orange rind, but I went with it anyway. The dry leaf from the fresh package was much better. This blend had lemongrass too, and citrus and Florida go together.
So trying it out, it ORANGE dominates followed by a lemony accent and a little bit of a jasmine hint. I got the oolong in the body with a light to medium viscosity and an overall green feeling. Otherwise, the orange rind is so prevalent that it almost reminded me of a vitamin c tablet. It’s like fruit loop milk when it’s good, but the latter when I overleaf it.
The main stay is the orange and the citrus, which are things that I personally like, but I could see it being detracting. The taste really is not artificial, but there was too much orange for me personally. 80 in terms of taste, 75 in terms of price.
I am coming down with a cold. Could have something to do with running around with soaking feet for most of the day in all this slush outside.
This was my other travel tea of the day which I made before I started feeling under the weather. Delicious. I have been steeping at a far lower temperature to have the previous sour note disappear, which it has, and bring all the toffee caramel loveliness out, which it did. So yay!