100 Tasting Notes
Green March! I’ve been in a floral mood, so I grabbed this sampler of T2’s Green Rose out of my stash. The tea wasn’t quite what I was expecting, as it is a green tea fruit blend with some rosey floral notes, but it turned out quite nice!
The tea has a really nice aroma of mango and rose. There is a very distinct mango flavor, with some notes of peaches and apricots. It is very naturally sweet, with a floral finish that leaves a soft rosey flavor lingering softly on the tongue. I had been expecting a grassy, vegetal base with a fairly strong rose flavor from the name, but this tea is like a sweet, fruity mango-peach nectar with a kiss of rose petals; it is blended very nicely, with the floral notes managing to stand out just enough to the fruitiness to not be overwhelmed, which is what I had worried about when I saw all the fruit flavors listed on the packaging. To be honest, I think of all the T2 samplers from the big Christmas discounted sampler haul I picked up, this has been my favorite so far, and I certainly wouldn’t mind having this tea restocked in my cupboard! I’ll even forgive the fact that I can’t taste any of the base notes in this (I normally like a little of the green tea grassiness to shine through in my fruity green tea blends) because I’m just feeling this mango/rose combo. Mmm!
Flavors: Floral, Mango, Peach, Rose, Sweet
Green March! I recently put in a big order with Yunomi, and I was just shy of qualifying for free shipping and didn’t know what I wanted, so what better way than to drop some mystery tea onto the order? What I ended up getting was a May 2017 harvest of Kabusecha Saeakari from Marushige Shimizu Tea Farm. I’ve never tried (and I’ll admit, even heard of) Kabusecha before. From the description it seems to be a bit of a fusion between sencha and gyokuro, but the preparation instructions are definitely more like that of gyokuro. And I’ve never tried gyokuro before, so I was expecting a little wobbliness in preparation making this for the first time.
I was mainly concerned getting the right temperature. I don’t own a food themometer, and the lowest setting on my temperature-control kettle is 160 degrees F. The recommended steeping temperature for this tea was 122-140 degrees F. And while I do own a small porcelain Japanese teapot, I don’t have a fancy gyokuro-style set with the water-holder dishes and whatnot. So, I winged it. I used the lowest setting on my kettle, poured that into my teacup, let it sit while I measured out 4 grams of leaf to put in the teapot, then moved the water to another teacup just before dumping it into the teapot, hoping by that point it would be in the proper temperature zone. While I’ll never know for certain, after my cup steeped for the recommended two minutes, the resulting steep certainly didn’t feel more than just a little above tepid to my tongue, so hopefully it was in the ballpark?
The first thing that struck me was how much of a salty aroma the tea had! The flavor was very strong; I didn’t find it unpleasant, but was not used to such a strong savory taste from my tea having never had it before, and I had to sip through the infusion very slowly. It did have a thick umami profile, with salty notes and vegetal seaweed flavors that reminded me of a seafood taste similar to shrimp. There was also a bit of grassiness and a sweet finish that comes with nice green tea. I didn’t get any astringency from the cup at all; it was very thick and smooth.
The second steep brought on more of a sencha flavor, with a more prominent grassy taste, but notable deeper, umami seaweed notes in the finish of the sip. By the third steep, the umami notes had waned from the cup, but it still had a pleasant vegetal flavor and made for a relaxing cup of green tea.
The first steep was certainly the most unique, but I think it’s going to take a bit of adapting to get my palate used to those strong umami notes. (I’ll get there; once upon a time, I used to not be able to drink bergomot, and now I have more earl grey blends in my cupboard than I care to count). So at the moment that second steep was my favorite, which brought out more of a blend of the new flavors and old, familar notes. I’ll have to continue to work with this tea… apparently the flavor can change a lot depending on temperature and steep times, and I’m especially curious to try it iced!
Flavors: Grass, Salty, Seaweed, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal
Green March! Well, I’m finally able to drink tea again, after a lovely bought of food poisoning from my birthday dinner. Still dealing with the fall-out migraine from the ordeal (which is now on it’s fourth day… meh) but I’ve moved from Gatorade and mint and ginger teas to other liquids now. I still haven’t had a very large appetite, but have always found Genmaicha tea quite nice at breakfast time… sort of has a Rice Krispies cereal-appeal, while being light on the stomach and warm and comforting, you know?
This genmaicha is a standard mix of bancha leaf and toasted rice, though I have to question if The American House knows anything about genmaicha, since they actually list “popcorn” on their website’s ingredient list (are they actually adding popcorn to their tea, or are they really just so daft they don’t realize the “popcorn” looking bits are just popped bits of rice from the roasting process? If there is one thing that rankles a library cataloger like me, it is listing inaccurate information, ugh.) But the tea is good, with a smooth vegetal flavor, and nice nutty overtones from the roasted rice. It’s a fairly balanced genmaicha between leaf and rice (and doesn’t include nearly so much popped rice as the image on their website would lead one to believe!), that produces a tasty tea, though I’m sure there isn’t anything special about it. Even if it’s just a simple run-of-the-mill genmaicha, it makes me happy. I think this will always be one of my favorite teas.
Flavors: Nutty, Roasted, Smooth, Toasted Rice, Vegetal
Green March! This is the only matcha in my collection; I ordered it from Matcha Outlet, but from what I can tell, they used to be Red Leaf Tea. I don’t have any “proper” matcha gear yet (I finally ordered some today with my b-day funds!) so I’ve just been frothing it up in my milk frother (eh, it gets the job done in a pinch). I like it latte-style, so usually I froth the matcha up in a bit of water first, move it to a mug, and then froth up the milk and add it second.
The matcha is quite thick, rich, and very grassy in flavor! I find that it has some sweeter floral notes just beneath the grassy taste, and a very subtle fruitiness, with a bit of a vegetal astringency on the finish. When prepared as a latte, the almond milk removes that astringent bite on the finish, and brings out more of the sweetness in the cup, as well as adds a lovely creaminess, and since the grassy flavor is very rich and strong, it holds up well through the almond milk.
This was a beautiful, rich creamy green cup on a rainy St. Pattie’s Day!
(For the record, this matcha also makes a delicious pumpkin spice latte during the winter months, too!)
Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal
Top o’ the Mornin’ to ya! It’s my day off, it’s my birthday, and I’m pretty content to just sit on my butt and drink tea all day, quite honestly. And what better way that to start off the day than with some Irish Breakfast?
I don’t keep many Irish/English breakfast blends around because they aren’t my favorite, but last winter I picked up an amazing deal on a bunch of T2 samplers, so I decided to make the Irish Breakfast one this morning. The only other Irish Breakfast blend I’ve ever had is Twinings of London’s bagged blend, which I had to take with milk and sugar because it was that sort of black tea that was just a bit too strong and astringent for me otherwise. Surpringly, I am not having any troubles with this one; I’m not sure if my palate has simply adapted to blacks since then, or this blend, having only Ceylon teas and lacking Assams is just more to my palate’s liking. So far I haven’t felt the need to immediately go running for the milk to take some of the bite off. I did only steep at the lower end of the spectrum, for two minutes instead of four, so maybe that’s the secret for me when it comes to these stronger straight black teas.
It has a pleasantly malty taste and a thick mouthfeel, with a mild astringency in the finish that is not biting, bitter, or unpleasant. I’m picking up on some subtle flavor notes of baked bread and citrus. This tea could certainly take milk or sugar, but the fact it doesn’t need it for someone who typically has a hard time with straight blacks like me speaks volumes.
I’m quite enjoying this sampler sipdown with my sugary apple fritter. Tea and donut… a breakfast of champions!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Citrus, Malt, Tannin
Pre-birthday cuppa. My long-time friend who is now also a coworker makes the best cookies, and he knows my love affair with Nutella, and always uses it as an ingredient in the batch of birthday cookies he makes me and brings me at work. Today is birthday cookie day (this year are some yin-yang peanut butter-Nutella cookies! Mmmm!), since this Saturday (St. Patrick’s Day) didn’t fall on my Saturday schedule. So I grabbed this chocolate hazelnut sampler I picked up from Citizen Tea to accompany!
It’s good! The base is chocolately, but has a warm nuttiness to it, too. It’s very smooth and sweet. I think my only issue is it that I wish the tea felt a little fuller and the flavor a little richer; I’m getting the impression that I’m going to have to double-leaf this to get the kind of experience that I’m currently craving out of this, based on my initial cup. Some decent flavor notes are there, they just aren’t popping enough to really wow me, and the base feels a little weak. I’m of the personal opinion one shouldn’t need to use extra leaf for an average cup, so I’d say that’s my one complaint with this otherwise tasty tea.
Flavors: Chocolate, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet
I got a free sampler of a tea called “Vietnam Vanilla” from tea web vendor California Tea & Herbal when I ordered from them a while ago (they had a few of my favorite blends stocked in 2 oz. sizes, and I was having a hard time finding other vendors having anything smaller than 4 oz. available; I just don’t need that much tea on hand, storage space is an issue and it takes me forever to drink a quarter-pound of tea!) After a bit of research, I’m fairly certain that their “Vietnam Vanilla” is actually just wholesaled “Colonille” from SerendipiTea; I could be wrong, but I found at least one other black tea blend in their line-up that matched another of SerendipiTea’s blends, which makes me pretty confident I’ve found the right tea. It however may be an earlier version of the blend, since the ingredients listed are just Vietnam black tea and (presumably artificial) French Vanilla flavor, which differs from the updated Kosher recipe of Colonille which now includes vanilla beans and natural vanilla flavor.
Old recipe aside, this tea is amazing! The base is super smooth, and almost has a chocolately richness with a slight honeyed sweetness to it, and just a hint of some cherry notes. The vanilla flavor just gives it this sweet, creamy taste that is really divine! It somehow makes me think of Neopolitan ice cream after it’s all melted together at the bottom of the bowl; a little cocoa, a little cream, and a hint of berry sweetness. Fantastic dessert tea! This is proving to be an all-too-enjoyable sipdown while I patiently wait for the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars S3 finale digital release from Amazon to finally hit my inbox.
Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Creamy, Honey, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla
Green March! This was my first time trying a jasmine-scented tea, and as much as I absolutely love floral teas, I learned pretty much immediately that jasmine just… isn’t my cup of tea. I almost felt guilty about it, and tried to deny it, and for weeks I tried to force myself to finish off the sampler while my coworkers asked me why I was trying to force myself to drink a tea I was obviously hating by the nasty expressions on my face. “It’s so popular, everyone likes jasmine tea!” I tried to convince myself… but I just couldn’t shake the fact that to me, this tea just smelled so overwhelmingly of heavy perfume. The sort of perfume that gives me migraines. The sort of perfume that my grandma wears. And then I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was drinking grandma perfume. Bleeeeeeeeech. “Don’t drink it anymore, Sara!” my coworker begged me. And in the end, I finally tossed the sampler.
To be fair, I have no doubt this tea was quality tea. It unfurled nicely, and had very quality-looking green leaves. It had a very strong aroma, and was very naturally sweet. For the denizens of tea drinkers out there that actually like jasmine-scented teas, I’m sure they’d find no fault with this tea, which makes me feel bad that I’ve rated it so lowly. But what can I say? There wouldn’t be the saying “Not my cup of tea” if there weren’t some truth to it!
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Perfume, Sweet
Green March! Decided to finally try this sampler from Fusion Teas I’ve had for a while.
Today we got a flash snowstorm, so all things considered, a tropical blend didn’t exactly go with our sudden winter weather motif! But it is what I grabbed when I left the house this morning, so it’s what I had to make for my daily cuppa at work today, so I had a lovely bright, pineapple-yellow cuppa tea with sweet tropical scents wafting from my cup as fat fluffy snowflakes fell for several hours straight outside the library windows. Umm… aloha? So I prepared this tea warm today; I’ll admit I normally prepare fruity green teas of this sort as cold brews.
This tea is very sweet, with a strong pineapple flavor. I normally like my fruity green teas to be a bit on the delicate side, but since I really love pineapple (yes, I’m a pineapple-on-pizza person, and no, I won’t apologize for it) I actually don’t mind this. There is a somewhat subtle hint of a floral touch at the end of the sip which is nice, too.
I’m not getting much else out of this, though. I am not picking out any of the underlying sencha flavor (which may be a good thing if you aren’t necessarily a fan of green teas, so take that or leave that as you will; I personally would’ve preferred a bit more of the base to shine through, myself) and I’m not really getting any of the mango notes, either. I love pineapple, but as far as pineapple green teas go, I think I prefer Bluebird Tea Co.’s Pineapple Sorbet which was a little more complex, as it had some nice citrus notes thrown in as well. But then, this tea is readily available and Pineapple Sorbet has been discontinued, so there is that.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Pineapple, Sweet
I love this tea. When I first tasted this tea, it brought me back to a time, long ago, when I used to sip chilled white wine kept cold using frozen fruit; my sister used to make us each a glass and we’d watch movies together or play video games together while sipping on her apartment couch. Then I discovered alcohol was one of my main migraine triggers, and I couldn’t so much as even have a sip of wine anymore (I actually got into tea-tasting when I discovered it “brought back” many of the same feelings when I had to give up wine-tasting as a hobby!) And my sister has been moved away now for several years. So for a tea to simply bring back that moment really struck a chord with me.
I prefer this tea iced (to get that chilled wine effect!), and find the flavor has this white wine or champagne-like peppery tingle on the back of the tongue, while the flavor has these nice fruity hints. The tea is very sweet, with notes of apple, pineapple, and melon. The tea brews a beautiful, incredibly pale yellow, that even looks like a white wine, has a very silky smooth mouthfeel, and is very refreshing. This is the first tea I’ve ever bought in a bulk size, and I like to keep a nice cold mason jar of it on hand in my fridge to sip on in the evenings — it brings back the feelings of getting to have a glass of wine, but it’s alcohol free, so I can enjoy it even with my chronic migraine condition, and it’s caffeine-free too, so I can drink it right before bed while winding down.
Flavors: Apple, Melon, Pepper, Pineapple, Smooth, Sweet, White Wine