22 Tasting Notes
I don’t really have a lot to say about this tea other than that it is definitely not what I was expecting or what I wanted. I wanted something that was either even parts chocolate and hazelnut or leaned more towards the chocolate end of things. And when I opened up the tin I was sure this was what I’d got. Chocolate is definitely the overwhelming smell of this tea.
However, the taste swings drastically the other way. Every sip of this is largely hazelnut with just a light hint of chocolate in there. Which is obviously great if you’re a huge fan of hazelnut, but I’m really not. I just wanted a hint of hazelnut to keep it from being too sweet and chocolately and this was not that.
It’s a smooth tea though, so if you want a nice relaxing cup of something hazelnut flavored this might be something to try. If, like me, you don’t like much hazelnut flavor I’d advise you stay away from this tea.
Hmmm, dry I’m not getting much from these leaves. Upon opening the bag it just smells a little bit clean. But, boy does that change with hot water. From the moment these touch water the smell is intoxicating and fills the air with the aroma of cinnamon bread dough. The liquor is a dark amber red that matches the richness of the scent. At first sip this tea.. makes my tongue feel a bit numb and tingly? That’s unexpected! Second and third sips are almost overwhelmingly rich and sweet, with a flavor that feels comforting and familiar, but I can’t place it. At the end of the sip there’s a bitterness but not an unpleasant one — a soft, earthy bitterness. It feels like an integrated part of the flavor rather than a mistake of over-steeping.
For the first 3 infusions this tea is incredibly bold, with sips that start sweet with a doughy heft and end with an earthy bitterness. It’s delectable, but it’s like a rich chocolate cheesecake — I can only handle a little bit before I start to feel over-saturated with flavor.
For the last 3 infusions the tea lightens. The flavor isn’t so heavy that it feels like it’s pulling you down into the earth and turns more refreshing and invigorating. The flavor as it first hits my tongue is sweet with spicy notes of cinnamon and maybe a hint of clove. In the finish I can finally taste that sparkling quality that David mentions. Every sip ends so clean.
This was an interesting first experience with Pu-Erh. I feel like there’s this whole other side of tea that I’m just now tasting. I’m glad I tried brewing this tea by the Xingyang workshop recommendations, but I think in the future I might be served better by a brew that isn’t quite so bold.
I kept putting off writing a tasting note for this tea, because after 3 different western-style brew sessions I was really not feeling it. Every cup I drank just had this totally overwhelming olive oil flavor. The tasting notes on the site and here indicated there should have been something more, but it wasn’t coming through at all for me.
Finally I decided to bite the bullet and try brewing this gongfu style. I have always brewed western style for convenience sake — I don’t have a tea set or an instant tap, so it’s easier to make one big cup less often — but this tea really demands to be brewed gongfu style.
Brewing it as it was meant to be the depth of flavor really starts to come through. The overtone is still olive oil, but there’s more lurking beneath. Early steepings have notes of wine-grapes, a crisp mouthfeel, and a very subtle earthiness. A few steepings in the grape starts to give way to a more honey-like sweet flavor, but with a similar wine aftertaste.
By the fifth steeping I’m shocked by the almost spicy smell that wafts up from the cup. This cup is overwhelmingly reminiscent of baked goods. There’s now a strong flavor of apple that’s looking to take over the olive oil dominance and the aftertaste is reminiscent of clove with a molasses sweetness.
By the end of my time with this tea the leaves are absolutely beautiful. The leaves that started off almost black and tightly twisted have unfurled into large, deep brown leaves. It’s really quite a sight.
I’m happy I gave this tea a try gongfu style. It’s a very unique tea with a lot of depth to offer and a flavor that really evolves as you go. However, its still not my favorite tea around. That olive oil flavor is still a bit much for me. I’m glad to have some waiting in my cabinet for the day I’m in the mood for something really different, but its not something I see myself reaching for very often.
This tea took some time to grow on me, and still it’s not a favorite of mine. I went into my first cup expecting something similar to Constant Comment – bold and spicy with a citrus twist – but what I got was mellow, smooth, and honestly a little bland.
The smell of this tea is delicious. Like the name implies this tea smells like the holidays. Citrus, baking spices, and vanilla meld together and make the whole room smell amazing whenever you steep this tea. However, this build up is part of why sipping this tea is so disappointing. The main words I would use to describe this tea are weak and bland. Even at a full boil, for 5 minutes, with a HEAPING teaspoon per cup this tea isn’t very flavorful. It’s so surprising after you’ve smelled the incredible aroma.
The taste is okay. It’s predominantly one of vanilla, with a hint of orange rind, cinnamon, and clove thrown in for good measure. A great sounding mix that somehow turns out boring in this tea. The tea base is weak and tastes like if you used a small teabag in a giant mug even when you overdose this tea.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible. There’s something comforting that makes it easy to come back to when I’m not sure what to drink, but it’s forgettable. It’s not a tea that I passionately remember and suddenly need to brew a cup of, it’s a tea I settle for when I’m not sure what else to drink.
Last night I had time to let this tea take me on its journey a second time and I’m still as blown away as I was the first time.
This tea is so unique. Most teas I’ve tried require something from me – they require I be in the mood for what they have on offer. Whether that’s smoky, fruity, vegetal, or anything in between. It requires I be desiring that flavor, and in return it offers me the satisfaction, relaxation, or refreshment that it has to offer. This tea is different. It’s unassuming. It doesn’t care what mood I’m in, what time of day it is, what flavors I have sitting on my tongue from the meal I just ate. This tea always has something to offer, something to draw me into the rest of the flavors it has on-hand and the trip it wants to take me on throughout its many steepings.
And for that reason this tea is hard to get off my mind. I only had two days between brew sessions but I kept thinking back on this tea, anxious for the moment I had the one thing this tea asks of me: time to enjoy the full experience it has to offer.
Wow. That’s all I could think when first tasted this tea.
Having never had an aged tea I wasn’t sure what I was in for, but when I opened the bag and smelled the woody aroma I knew I was in for something I’d never tasted before. That dry smell left me a little unsure, but the wet smell is wonderful. You’d swear you’re walking through a freshly rain-soaked forest.
First steeping for 25 seconds the liqueur looked really pale. I was worried I hadn’t used enough tea or read the wrong directions, but the strong floral scent that wafted up in the steam told me otherwise. The flavor of the first steeping is richly fruity, with a mouthfeel like biting into a succulent peach. The sweet taste lingering on the back of my palate leaves my mouth watering for more. But, thankfully, there’s a soft vegetal undertone that mellows the whole experience and keeps it from being too sweet.
Second steeping for 20 seconds is when the leaves really start to unfurl and the liqueur darkens slightly to a bright champagne gold. The flavor is quite similar to the first fruity infusion, but things are starting to become more floral with a hint of olive oil developing in the flavor to further mellow it out.
The third and fourth infusions (each for 20 seconds) is when the tea really starts to evolve into something else. The flavor mellows and takes on a more buttery, vegetal influence than early steeps. The mouthfeel smoothes out and doesn’t make your mouth water so much. It’s still got a floral quality but it’s a really tame and relaxed one.
I can’t recommend this tea highly enough. My girlfriend doesn’t normally like oolongs (and is generally a coffee drinker) but even she thought this tasted smooth and delicious!
After Steepster’s twitter posted a story about the sweetened spearmint tea that is a staple of meetings all over Morocco I just had to get my hands on a good Moroccan mint tea to try out.
I knew what I really wanted to do was make some iced sweet-tea with this, but the night I got home to this delivery I just couldn’t wait that long for the tea to cool and made myself a warm unsweetened cup to start. As soon as I opened the bag I knew I was in for a treat – the sweet smell of spearmint filled the air. The tea even looks beautiful with those perfect balls of gunpowder green tea swimming in a sea of dried spearmint.
I don’t actually like the smell of steeping spearmint all that much, but the balance of the spearmint and green tea brewing in this cup are very pleasant. The gunpowder green brings the spearmint smell back down to earth. The taste is much the same. The spearmint is the real star of this tea — it stands at the forefront of the flavor and draws you in. However, it’s impeccably balanced with the green. There’s just enough green tea to sit at the end of every sip and delicately mellow that spearmint flavor. What a calming warm brew.
But now for what I really came for — Moroccan Mint sweet tea. This does not disappoint. With some time to cool and a dash of sugar this calming warm brew turns into an incredibly refreshing sweet tea. It’s still a cold, rainy 45 degrees here in Seattle, but I can’t help but reach for a cold glass of this tea. By my third pitcher I decided to make it double-strong so I’d only have to brew half as often. I’m so glad I ordered the 10oz bag, because when those warm days come I will be flying through this tea so fast.
I’ve cupped this atleast 6 more times since my first tasting note on it and I’ve noticed a few things about it. The main thing of note is that to my tongue it is best drank at warm or lesser temperatures. I made the mistake of drinking it when it was still quite hot and the taste was really flat. None of the sweetness and smooth finish I noticed in my original tasting, just smokey and astringent. I swore I had brewed it wrong, but I tasted it again when it had cooled and the taste was what I remembered. I now never drink it before I’ve let it cool 15 minutes.
The second thing is that this tea stands up great to multiple steepings. I’ve only done a second so far, but the tea was just as bold (and I had brewed it for the same 4 minutes I normally do) so I’m sure it could at least stand up to three infusions.
What a disappointment. Everything about this tea seemed like a perfect fit for me. I love oolong, I love berries, what’s not to love about this tea?
Unfortunately the result is way less than the sum of its parts. For one, I’ll echo what some others have said — there is very little actual oolong tea in this blend. So that’s a big problem… The tea flavor gets pretty much completely lost in the fruits. But that shouldn’t be a huge issue if the berry mix is delicious, right?
Well, that’s problem number two. The berry mix is a bit of a mess. All I can taste is intensely tart, generic fruit flavor. There’s so many different pieces is just becomes this muddled mess of fruit flavors. Nothing stands out. It’s completely unbalanced.
Not wanting to let 2 oz of tea go waste I have tried my best to salvage this tea. Different brew setups came out slightly different, but were ultimately overrun by the tartness (which makes it a totally unrefreshing iced tea). Blending with other teas seemed a good solution but in every case the result was the same – whatever tea I mixed with this was ruined by the horrid, inescapable, generic tartness.
Tartness is a great part of the experience with so many fruits. But that’s where this tea runs into trouble – tartness is only PART of the fruit experience, but it’s the whole flavor of this blend.
I tried this tea with a hesitant curiosity, as I’ve not ever been a huge fan of the Assam teas I’ve tried, which this claims to be competing with. Much to my surprise this tea is a delight and has instantly become a favorite of mine.
As soon as I opened the tin I fell in love with the smell. I completely agree with a reviewer on their website who mentioned it smelling like mint chip ice cream. It starts out with a fresh leaf smell, but as you continue inhaling it turns into a chocolate mint aroma. The wet leaves however lose most of this sweet scent and mostly just smell like a fresh pile of autumn leaves.
The taste is delightfully complex, and progresses for me much like the dry smell. When it hits my tongue it’s smokey, earthy, malty. Very similar to what I’ve come to expect from Assam teas. But as it lingers on my tongue the second wave hits me, a sudden sweetness, reminiscent of sugar cane and molasses. The finish is even sweeter, with subtle notes of vanilla and butterscotch.
This is a great black tea in my eyes. Brisk and bold enough to be a great morning cup, but smooth and refreshing enough to serve you well throughout the day (and even iced on a warm summer afternoon!)