Swan Sisters TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown! This was a sample from… one of the Toronto tea girls (I can’t discern who) – thank you! I just stumbled across this in a random bag of tea from a swap, and it sounded pretty appealing, so I brewed it up. It’s just as I had hoped – a great marriage of jasmine and ginger, with neither ingredient overpowering the other. The jasmine is a bit more prominent, which actually surprised me considering that ginger pieces can easily overwhelm other flavours – but it may be that this was a product of my fairly short infusion time. Either way, this is a good combo, I’d have it again.
Sipdown, and a sad one. This was a really great lavender white, and I wish I had more of it. I believe I steeped this one about 4 times before tossing the leaves. Just SO good, and calming. The lavender was fairly potent (you could tell by the sheer amount of buds), and the white tea was light and sweet. Just delicious.
I’m not clear if this is a tea I got in an Amoda box, or if it was gifted to me from someone else… but – it’s delicious. Apparently I really enjoy lavender in teas now, and this having a white base makes it particularly potent and pleasant. I got three solid, lavendery steepings from this – not much to say about the base because it was pretty light and I’m currently sick, but I thoroughly enjoyed this tea and will likely seek out lavender whites in the future.
This is a tea I bought out of a mixture of curiosity and hope. Curiosity because jasmine and ginger are such contrasting flavours, the former cool and gentle and serene, the latter spicy and forceful. Hope because I have heard that ginger can be great for soothing upset stomachs, and I’ve got this weird stomach pain issue that I have yet to confirm a diagnosis for. Would having more ginger teas in my cupboard help?
The jury’s still out on that. However, I can say that combining ginger and jasmine together in a tea is just as unusual as I thought it would be. Here, small chunks of ginger root are mixed in wholesale with the dragon pearls. The description above says the tea also contains orange peel, but either I didn’t see any or I wasn’t able to tell the pieces of peel apart from the chunks of ginger.
How do I describe the smell of this tea? It’s obviously a combination of ginger and jasmine, but the interplay between the two is so odd. I don’t smell any harmony in this combination — there’s no sense of them being complementary flavours at all. Occasionally the jasmine wins out over the ginger, or vice versa, but overall the mix of sweet, slightly powdery florals and the assertiveness of ginger is, at best, idiosyncratic.
I took about 1.5 teaspoons of dry leaf and steeped it in 85°C water for 3 minutes. The resulting tea was similar in colour to the Jestha Jasmine above, though slightly paler. And like the tea above, the powdery-soft nature of the jasmine was apparent here. But the sweetness and strength of the ginger interfered in a way that’s hard to describe.
I know that there are people that will probably dig this flavour blend, but it turned out to be a hard sell for me.
Another from variaTEA and i am a fan of this one. It’s a smooth, very slightly smokey brew. There’s a little bit of a malty taste to this one as well. I wish i had teavivre keemun to compare it to but i think this one is a little less preferred. Still, a really nice afternoon cup while i relax and make cookies.
This tea is quite beautiful. It’s all purple and cream and various shades of soft green. The tea leaves are long and mostly straight. Many have a soft down covering the leaves. The lavender is shaped like little bells and is perfumy and very fragrant. I’ve never had a tea with lavender before so my first thought is of the natural soaps we tend to find at the farmers’ market. I love that smell but I’m honestly not sure how much I’ll love having that fragrance in my tea.
I was worried about the steeping parameters since they suggest using boiling water for a full 4-5 minute steep, but I do like trying the recommendation from the tea shop first so we’ll see how it works here. After steeping, the tea leaves have swelled and now look very much like green bean snaps. They still smell of lavender, as does the liquid which is now a pale golden color. It carries somewhat of a minty aroma and even tastes like mint. I’m also getting something like pine in each sip. Once cooled, it becomes a bit metallic tasting in a good way. There’s a sense of drinking fresh spring water – it’s very clean and crisp. Surprisingly enough, this isn’t bitter and is a nice one on its own without sweetener.
This isn’t a tea that I would find myself wanting to gulp down quickly because it’s just that good. Instead, it’s more of a sipping tea. It’s one that I would drink slowly in order to experience all of its nuances. It’s certainly very unique.
Flavors: Lavender, Metallic, Mint, Perfume, Pine
Another one of the poor forgotten Amoda subscription teas. While I would perhaps purchase a tea on their website, I think the forgotten samples from the actual subscription is proof that I need to chill on the monthly tea boxes.
Keemun is the first recognizably Chinese teas that I had. I never was that into white or black teas, especially from my teabag perspective years ago. I was strictly green and herbal, or maybe an oolong here and there. I remember picking up a Keemun somewhere in loose leaf form after reading about it. This was supposedly the ‘first’ Chinese black tea that had even the Chinese sitting up in attention? I was unimpressed by the lack of ‘wow’ factor. I think that is why I never like Chinese black tea until I found the wonders of a golden tipped Yunnan or Fujian.
That also may be why I looked at this package for my February box and went, ‘eh.’ and tossed it in the sea of samples. I went fishing this morning for something different and found this.
Ah, yep. It’s all coming back to me. That light hint of smokiness, that deep dark brew. The thick bold aroma. Definitely a kick in the pants tea! Somewhere I get a heady punch in the face of floral, like biting off an entire rose while in bloom.
Pretty much every Chinese black I have had was better.
Flavors: Rose, Smoke
A few weeks back I mentioned buying a bottle of grenadine in an attempt to jump start yet another ‘project’ or ‘operation’, if you will. Instead of “Operation: Birthday Cake In Everything” I’m going to be moving forward with “Operation Make Your Own Monk’s Blend”! Traditionally, a Monk’s blend is black tea with grenadine and vanilla so I figured it’d be fun to try experimenting a little with the straight blacks I’ve got currently since neither grenadine or vanilla is particularly hard to get a hold of.
So, Trial #1:
I used about 1 1/2 tsp. of Grenadine in my timolino worth of this tea. My fear was actually that I may have been starting out with too much grenadine since it’s very syrupy, sweet stuff. I find the grenadine I’m using in particular (Rose’s Brand) doesn’t actually taste much like pomegranate (which is what grenadine is actually traditionally supposed to be) but has a more generic “red fruit” flavour, almost cherry or strawberry.
This came out… Interesting.
It’s kinda drying and astringent with some really smokey notes from the Keemun. The grenadine is present, but not at all as much as I thought it would be. What I’m taking away from this is that smoke and grenadine don’t mix together in a satisfying way and that I’m probably going to need to use at least 2 tsp. of grenadine next time, if not possibly a tablespoon (though that just seems like so much grenadine). It did “pop” a litter more as it cooled down, though. And it certainly was drinkable overall even if the flavours clashed a bit.
Queued Tasting Note.
Ok, last tasting note of the night for realsies this time!
This is from the February Amoda box – it’s the last one from that box that I’ve got to try. I saved it because after doing some exploration with other Keemun blends I’ve kinda concluded that it’s not really a tea type for me. And I’ll be honest, it is kind of a relief (especially on my wallet) to have a whole ‘class’, if you will, of tea that I can essentially just write off…
But givin’ this one a go anyway ‘cause I’ve got it now and I might as well. It’s actually much lighter in flavour than I expected; primary flavour notes are smoke, some kind of sweeter bread, honey and raisins. The smoke in particular is very strong – and that part, at least, I like. It’s just that, with everything else, it’s just not so great. Why do I always have to pick up on the raisin notes in Keemun too? I know they’re sometimes present in other tea types, but I usually don’t notice them. Such is not the case with this class of tea…
I also thought that this one was a little bit floral; that was kinda nice, but weird with how smokey it was. Who wants to drink gently smoked flowers? I’m not gonna rate this one ‘cause I think I’m maybe a little biased about it.
Final, non-tea related note for the night: BB Can houseguests are currently talking about the pros/cons of bagged milk versus milk in the jug. I know bagged milk is a Canadian thing, but I just have to point out that I live in Saskatchewan and I’ve never actually seen bagged milk in person in my entire life. The entire concept of bagged milk is SUPER weird to me and I 100% emphasize with the Canadians in the Big Brother house who, like me, live in provinces where bagged milk isn’t a thing.
I know that’s it’s more cost effective to make/produce and buy, and easier to transport and all that jazz but it just weirds me out so much. I would NEVER have a ‘bag of milk’ in a pitcher in my fridge. I know that realistically it’s no different than a pitcher of, say, orange juice – but it seems kind of unsanitary? And I’m totally being unreasonable and irrational about the whole thing but it’s SO WEIRD. Common ’mericans – back me up here! If I was in the BB house, I think having to have bagged milk would likely bother me more than being on slop. I need Zach to get in on this bagged vs. jug milk debate! He’s from Saskatchewan like me; I’m like 95% sure he’d share the same anti-bagged milk opinion I have.
So I get the ginger and I can certainly taste the jasmine but what’s the “Hawaiian” element in this blend? It’s an okay tea but really nothing memorable or strong. However, I’m not rushing to throw it out which is more than I expected seeing as I’m not a lover of green tea, jasmine, or ginger.
Another one from Amoda. I’m a little surprised I had to add this one to the database, surely I’m not the first person to have tried it! I think I’ve actually had it before, in one of their tasting boxes. Anyway, this is interesting, it’s a blend of jasmine pearls (green tea), tie guan yin (greenish oolong), and silver needle (white tea). Besides the jasmine in the pearls, there’s no other flavouring, just the blend of teas. The dry tea is neat because it’s a combination of rolled silver-and-green pearls, lumpy nuggets of oolong, and then the long silver buds (and looks like some broken leaves too) of the white tea. It’s pretty dense, with the rolled teas: a level 1.5tsp spoon was 2.6g and expanded to fill about half of my infuser basket once everything unrolled (which took at least a couple of steepings). The tie guan yin unrolled into lovely large green leaves, and the pearls unrolled into long, lighter green buds with a little bit of stem attached.
This has a fairly light, subtle flavour. The jasmine is definitely there, but it’s quite unobtrusive. There’s a creamy sweetness from the oolong, and a lightly vegetal base. It’s smooth and sweet and mellow. No astringency or bitterness yet, and I’m on the third steeping.
I have to admit, I have a bit of a Western palate when it comes to teas, so I tend to go for the bolder flavours. I’m still developing a palate for whites, greens, and light oolongs. But sometimes it’s good to sit down and drink a tea that really makes you pay attention to fully appreciate it. I don’t think I need to own this tea, but I definitely enjoyed trying it out!
Flavors: Jasmine, Sweet, Vegetal
From the Amoda Tea Monthly Box – January 2015
Dry leaf: Big chunks of ginger and citrus peel mix around with little silver-green balls of jasmine green tea
Liquor color: bright yellow green
Leaves: Dry – light sweet grass notes with a zinger of ginger. Wet – when the leaves ‘pop’ out of their shapes, they reveal long and sexy grass green leaves.
Notes: One of the flavors I consider to be a large part of my ‘comfort foods’ is ginger. I love it in all of it’s forms. Ginger is to me as chocolate chip cookies might be to someone else. (fun fact: the first time I had a chocolate chip cookie was in the 7th grade :P) so, for me, the big chunks of ginger in the sample package really excited me. I had only hoped that the blend tasted as good as it looked.
And it was! Although I do not like jasmine for the most part, it brought something else for my taste buds to focus on besides the ginger spice. The green tea was pretty good too, with the buttered vegetal quality that I find most satisfying in certain Chinese greens.
The first time I gongfu’d this tea, and then Grampa style’d it to work to sip down the last of it. I was able to get 4 small gongfu steeps out of the first bit, and then two good mug-fuls grampa style. After the third steep in my tumbler, I got a really overpowering ginger and an astringent quality from the green. Not the best type of tea to test out gramps style on, but the first two steeps were heavenly.
It’s too bad that my fellow tea sipper Roswell didn’t like this one from Amoda’s monthly box. I do know plenty of people for whom ginger is not ‘their cup of tea.’ Rightly so! Certain ginger ales are too over the top for even me. To each their own, I suppose.This may have been my favorite! I felt like the spice of the ginger wasn’t too overpowering if brewed right and it was very energizing and full of all the right warming qi. I may have to get more of this eventually!
Flavors: Ginger, Jasmine, Orange Zest, Peas
My crazy tea twin VariaTEA signed me up for three months of Amoda boxes for Christmas, the first of which came last week. It looks like I’m going to be the first to review 3/4 of them since I had to add them to the Steepster database. I wonder, who else gets Amoda boxes? I’m interested in seeing other people’s thoughts on the offerings. I’ve already had one of the other teas in the box, but the note for that one is buried somewhere in my queue. This one I’m drinking currently since I don’t start work today until late this afternoon.
Honestly, I wasn’t excited to see this one in the box. It’s got a lot of things in it that I’m not really a fan of like ginger and green tea. I’m also usually pretty fickle towards overly floral teas too, though jasmine is one floral aspect that I handle better than others so long as it doesn’t taste chemical/artificial. The only way I could have been less excited about this tea is if they’d added raisins to the blend. But I’m still going to try it, and in as opened minded a way as humanely possible.
Visually, the leaf is actually very beautiful: This uses jasmine scented pearls for the base and then there’s lots of visible ginger and light orange pieces of orange peel that contrast the pearls and add colour. The dry smell is really heavy on the ginger in the blend; I can hardly smell anything else, but if I concentrate I can sort of smell the jasmine. Measuring out my cup I noticed pretty quickly I was going to have to really shake up the sample bag; everything but the pearls was sinking to the bottom!
My first few sips were hesitant. Initially all I could taste was ginger. It was pretty spicy too; and it was lingering long after I had finished the tip. But the more I drink my cup, and the larger I make my sips, the more I’m noticing the jasmine in the blend. And, it’s honestly a very tasty jasmine flavour; I don’t think it gets anywhere close to tasting artificial or like I’ve just sprayed perfume right onto my tongue. Instead it’s supple and sweet! Which is good, because this tea needed something to contrast the ginger, that’s for sure. As for the pearls; they’re sort of just contributing an underlying vegetal flavour; it’s easier to pick them apart in the finish of the sip, when the ginger flavour is at its weakest and is easing up. I don’t taste the orange in the blend; I think it’s just competing with too many other dominant flavours.
I don’t think I’d personally drink this again because I just can’t do this much ginger in one cup of tea; but surprisingly there were more layers to this one than I had imagined there being and it was decidedly drinkable overall. I think people who actually like ginger will love this one; there’s a very interesting juxtaposition between the spicy ginger and sweet jasmine; it works more than I thought it would initially!
Flavors: Ginger, Jasmine, Peas, Vegetal
I believe I got this in my November Amoda box when I wasn’t yet fully immersed into the sea of loose leaf tea. I had it then, but I don’t think I was particularly excited or impressed. But I made it just now again and I can’t believe how sweetly it smells, just like sweet pea. The flavor is also amazing, there’s this lovely sweetness at the beginning of every sip that I can’t put my finger on. It’s like some ripe fruit, but not a citrus – a particularly tasty avocado perhaps?
All I seem to know for sure is that I can’t get enough of it!
This is the second tea from my November Amoda Box that I sampled. I liked this Lu’an Guapian. Sweet and brothy! A very well-rounded mouthfeel. Not as vegetal as you might expect from a green tea.
Nutty tones bring a pleasant sweetness to the cup. Creamy. I didn’t get a lot of toasty notes as mentioned in Amoda’s description, however, the nutty notes do have a “fresh roasted nut” sort of taste to them.
A really enjoyable cuppa.
Yesterday’s drinking of this tea was performed at a tea shop, where I reinfused the same leaves five times in a two cup pot (gong fu style…or an attempt at such with the amount of leaves I was given). Right before leaving the shop, I took a three cup to-go cup and dumped the leaves into it, filling it with hot water and letting it steep. When I got home, I put the cup into the refrigerator, and this morning I have a nice cup of chilled tea that is quite tasty. Cheers!
The flavor is incredibly floral, even from the very beginning. In some ways, it is reminiscent of a very floral Ti Kwan Yin. For a roasted oolong, the roast flavor is not too heavy. Smooth drinking and infinitely sippable. 30 second infusions. Very resteepable.