898 Tasting Notes
An Ode to Tea, H entry!
I’ve only made one tea order in 2021 so far, to Lupicia, and was very happy that one of the single-serve sampler sachets was this one, because I’ve been curious to try some of their Hawaiian blends.
Brewed the teabag for 3 minutes in 350ml 205F water. The tea has a lovely tropical aroma, a bit like pineapple, passionfruit, and most notably, mango. The black base, with this preparation, is brisk and malty but smooth and not astringent (I imagine steeping it any longer would have trended it that way), with a bit of a baked bread and a subtle raisin/muscatel note. The fruit flavor is pleasant but not overpowering; it seems to settle in midsip and linger on the tongue long after the sip. I taste papaya first (that sort of topical melon note), followed by mango, and perhaps a very subtle touch of pineapple. The papaya seems to be the strongest flavor for me on the tongue, and the mango the strongest on the nose.
It’s a pleasant afternoon cuppa. I don’t think it’s my favorite mango tea in Lupicia’s lineup, but I certainly wouldn’t ever turn any of this down if it came my way.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Fruity, Malt, Mango, Melon, Muscatel, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Raisins, Tropical
An Ode to Tea, X entry!
Squeezing in another gong fu session during my weekend off. This was also a sample I grabbed from the final Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox, so thanks to all that contributed to that box and tea-sipper for organizing it! I had 5.38g of leaf and steeped in my 100ml shiboridashi.
100ml shiboridashi | 5.38g | 205F | Rinse/10s/15s/20s/25s/30s/35s/40s/45s
The rinse smelled so strongly of dirt that I admit that after having such a pleasant pu’erh experience yesterday, it was right back to dirt, swamp water, or nasty tobacco for me. And the first steep did pretty much just smell and taste like dirt. The aroma reminded me of dirt, mushrooms, and a faint BBQ smoke quality. In taste, it had that strong earthy dirty flavor, but it was much smoother than I’m used to… a “fresh” tasting dirt. A bit of a mushroomy note as well, and a flavor I can only describe as plantain (though I’ve only tried dried plantain chips once… as someone with strong banana aversion, they aren’t high on my list of must-have foods). It was almost a banana-like flavor, but veered just enough toward a potato/yam note to not trigger my extremely strong “Danger! Danger! Banana present!” gag reflex. It was easily the worst steep, because after that, the tea mellowed and tasted much less like dirt to me, and instead a smooth and refreshing petrichor note. It was a wet earth and rocks taste but crisp and lacking the vegetal “pond scum marshiness” I’m used to accompanying such flavors in pu’erh. About mid-session, a very strong oat/grain flavor popped toward the end of the sip and lingered in the aftertaste. As I approached the end of the session, I noticed the plantain/yam note creeping back in subtly amidst the petrichor.
I enjoyed this one as well! Not as much as the sheng I drank yesterday, but this was a nice session. I think the cha qi for this one is sitting with me better than the tea yesterday, which knocked me out for several hours; I feel a mellow but alert awakeness right now.
Flavors: Dirt, Earth, Grain, Mineral, Mushrooms, Oats, Petrichor, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks, Yams
An Ode to Tea, Q entry! (I am missing a tea for Q, but figured this was close enough…)
I am notably not a big puerh fan so I don’t pull them out often. I also very rarely ever have time for gong fu sessions — the only time I can sit down and drink tea in that style is on my days off of work, which severely limits when I can drink certain types of tea. So I’m finally fitting a session in today, on my weekend off…
This was a sample I grabbed from the final Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox, so thanks to all that contributed to that box and tea-sipper for organizing it! I had 3.4g of leaf so I did steeps using only 70ml of water in my little pumpkin pot.
70ml mini pot | 3.4g | 205F | Rinse/10s/13s/16s/19s/22s/25s/28s/31s/34s/37s/40s/43s/46s
My only experience with sheng so far (I think?!) was a very unpleasant one; it was extremely smoky and bitter/sour. The aroma from my first steep had me thinking this would also be really bitter because it had a strong bitter melon/sour plum sort of scent. But it actually was surprisingly smooth, with a stonefruit fruity taste (plum?), with just a slight mineral note at the end of the sip and in the aftertaste. Around the 3rd and 4th steeps a muscatel note joined the plum, but the tea lost its smoothness, gaining a slight bite to it. The fifth steep was an unpleasant anomoly; it tasted how I’m used to sheng pu’erh tasting, with a strong “swamp marsh” taste of wet earth, rocks, and vegetation, with a bitter medicinal taste late in the sip and in the aftertaste. The bitterness went away after that, though, and while the marshy notes remained for a few more steeps, it smoothed out, and an anise-like licoricey note crept into the aftertaste, which I found quite pleasant. The marshiness continued to mellow and some notes of cucumber and melon rind came forth, until it eventually smoothed into a very nice petrichor taste. Late in the session, the tea turned very sweet, and some of the stonefruit came back (more of a light apricot this time), as well as some florality and garden peas. I pretty much never carry a tea through this many steeps, but I was really enjoying this one. I’m left feeling very tea-full though, and am feeling extremely relaxed.
Is this the first pu’erh I’ve really enjoyed?!
Flavors: Anise, Apricot, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Cucumber, Floral, Garden Peas, Medicinal, Mineral, Muscatel, Petrichor, Plum, Smooth, Stonefruit, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vegetal, Wet Earth, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks
Happy National Find a Rainbow Day! I figured as Steepster’s #1 Hibiscus Fan (you guys all voted for me, right? right?) that I should brew a pretty red cuppa today! But did I have any ridiculously old hibi-hip blends? You bet I did! This sampler pouch was from B&B’s “Bluebird Tea Co.” days, and combines two of my favorite polarizing ingredients, hibiscus and licorice root!
Also using this as my Ode to Tea R entry!
Since this was a heavy fruit blend, the 20g sampler really wasn’t much. I thought about just doing a liter mason jar cold brew, but opted for my slightly smaller 750ml cold brew bottle and saved the rest of the leaf to brew one hot cuppa.
Used one heaping teaspoon brewed grandpa-style in 350ml 205F water, accompanied with two of the Jammy Dodgers cookies that Cameron sent me! (Thank you, Cameron!) The aroma off my hot brewed cup definitely smells fruity, and of licorice root… If I shut my eyes and just sort of take in the aroma as a whole, I can get where they are going with a Red Vine. There is a strong raspberry aroma, with that fruit punchy/tangy hibiscus undertone. Sipping the cup… hmm. I like the two flavors, but admittedly it is a bit strange tasting them together. I am getting a tart red raspberry, with a strong sticky-sweet licorice root. My brain is getting the association, but I wouldn’t say it tastes very accurate to a Red Vine, since the last time I had one of those, there really was no licorice sorts of flavors to it. I wonder if the ones made in the UK use some of the licorice herbs in them, since licorice in general is a more liked flavor in Europe?
The cold brew has the same flavor, though I feel like the berry is a bit brighter with a more juicy/jammy quality to it. There is still the snap of licorice root sweetness toward the end of the sip and that touch of herbaceousness, but it doesn’t feel quite as strong and lingering as in the warm cup. It’s a good “fruit punch” sort of tea, with that thicker/sweeter taste iced.
So, I can say, this doesn’t have the “tartness” I’d associate with hibiscus teas… on account of a lot of licorice root, which I know is equally polarizing. I’m sure the raspberry leaf is also contributing as well, as there is a subtle sort of herbaceous quality beneath the fruitiness. As for me… I like this! But I often feel like I have the weirdest taste buds on Steepster…
The biscuit choice was perfect, too! It was my first time ever trying Jammy Dodgers and they are delicious!
In other news, I have also finished off another “so old they were still Bluebird Tea Co.” tea, Easter Egg Nests, as a delightful latte (much more of a “milk chocolate” flavor when prepared that way!) which I’m using as my Ode to Tea E entry!
Flavors: Fruit Punch, Herbaceous, Hibiscus, Licorice, Raspberry, Sweet, Tangy
French Friday! This sample was kindly provided by Dustin, so thank you!
Also using this as my Ode to Tea A entry, because as any respectable librarian knows, words like “a” “an” and “the” are never used in alphabetizing… and yes, that rule carries over to equivalents in foreign language titles!
Dry leaf smells like roses and cream! Rose has been a flavor I’ve been drinking (and enjoying!) a lot lately. Steeped 2.4g in 350ml 205F water for 3 minutes. Still get a strong rose aroma from the steeped tea, but the secondary aroma is citrus rather than cream. Because of the florality, the citrus is coming off less zingy/fruity and more akin to orange blossom.
The flavor is an orange/rose combo. The orange is a pithy/peel-like flavor with a bit of tang, and the rose is just that lovely sweet floral flavor that is probably perfumy to anyone but me. Not getting any of the “cream” which I picked up on the nose, but the cup is overall sweet for a black tea. The base is giving me some subtle warm bread and spice notes. Reminding me a bit of the Minnesota N’Ice tea I had during March Madness, if the jasmine were swapped for rose and the citrus were a little more gentle.
A very pleasant rose tea!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Rose, Smooth, Spices, Sweet
An Ode to Tea, Z entry.
While my librarian heart applaudes that most folks are actually drinking their tea in alphabetical order rather than just drinking one from each letter of the alphabet for the Sipdown Challenge, with the particular way that tea fits into my schedule I need more flexibility than that, so my goal is just to hit one sipdown per letter this month (in no particular order). I’m missing Q and Z and decided to get poetically creative, so this is my “Z” tea… I figure any tea that has three z’s in the title is good enough!
I am not a fan of chamomile at all, but am surprised by how the dry leaf aroma just smells like blueberries and cream, and not the dreaded sleepy-flower. Brewed 5g grandpa-style (teabag left soaking) in 350ml 205F water. I am getting the chamomile a bit in the aroma coming off the steeped cup, but the main aroma is still the sweet blueberry scent. I was also getting this faint herbaceous sort of note beneath the blueberry, and I had to really focus on it to realize it was lavender, just much more subtle than I’m used to it (I’ve been drinking a lot of lavender lattes lately!) Berries + lavender are one of my favorite flavor combos, which I use in smoothies quite often, making it a very pleasant aroma.
Oh, I quite like this! Again, I’m mainly tasting a rich blueberry flavor, with a cream sweetness, with the end of the sip filling out with a nice lavender that is trending on the minty side. I’m actually not picking out the particular chamomile taste which I always find so unpleasant. Getting a pleasant hay/herbaceous/honey note from the green rooibos base.
This isn’t the sort of tea I would’ve ever selected for myself due to chamomile being an ingredient, but it was kindly included by Anne in a past order and I’m so glad now to have tried it! That blueberry/lavender flavor combo is exactly the sort of thing that is right up my alley!
Flavors: Blueberry, Cream, Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Lavender, Mint, Sweet
Happy National Virtual Vacation Day! Since I’ve always longed to go to Japan (I have studied the language and culture since I was around 12ish?) I pulled this Japanese Sencha sampler out to have today!
I had two samples of this tea from different tea festivals, one from the 2018 San Francisco International Tea Festival, and another from 2019 Tea Fest PDX in Portland, Oregon. Though the packaging says “Kagayaki” on it, the info provided claims this is actually different than their “Kagayaki No. 10 Sencha.” I believe the employee I spoke to at the festivals indicated it was a special/proprietary blend they were taste-testing and not currently on the market.
I used both teabags in 500ml of 175F water, steeped for 2 minutes, and then dumped into my work thermos (which, despite furious scrubbing with soap and water last night, still had some “Easter Egg Nests” aroma on it, which probably isn’t coming off until I zap it in Mandala Tea Soak. Meh. So this may be a chocolately sencha, but there was simply no time to do the Mandala Tea Soak before work…)
Brewed at 8:30 am, it is now 10:30 am and I’m finally getting to sit down at my desk and drink it! I remember loving this sencha when I sampled it at the booth, and the aroma I’m getting from the steeped tea is definitely on the side of sencha that sits with me — I enjoy the sweeter, buttery-vegetable types, rather than the really marine/seaweedy types, and this smells like pure butter-soaked veggies.
Nice flavor, smooth with no astringency. There is a sweet grassiness, a vegetal taste giving me garden pea, green beans, and spinach, a smooth butteriness, and a slight umami seaweed note mixed with earthy minerals left in the aftertaste. I still really love this sencha!
Despite Tsuru no Maru’s website saying that their “Kagayaki” tea would be available fall of 2019, there is still nothing on their website regarding ordering… a shame.
Flavors: Butter, Garden Peas, Grass, Green Beans, Mineral, Seaweed, Smooth, Spinach, Vegetal
Cameron sent me a lovely box of British snacks (that are woefully unavailable in my area of podunk Idaho) and a few tea samplers, including this one, Bird & Blends Campfires and Vampires, and a few more French teas to add to the French Friday sampler baggy! Thank you, Cameron!
I have only had a handful of mate blends, and I think of that handful, most have been roasted mate rather than green mate. I’m always curious about them and happy to try this, especially since teabags aside, the website only has looseleaf in the dreaded Sara-refuses-to-buy 4oz sized bags. Steeped this for around 3 minutes using 185F water. The resulting brew is a goldenrod yellow and perhaps a little murky looking, which I suspect to be from the cinnamon; it has a very strong cinnamon aroma. I’m getting the scent of the mate too, which has always been very “gunpowder green”-esque to me: a bit of dry grass/hay, a bit of smoke, just more herbaceous in quality than gunpowder green. I’m smelling a sweetness, too, but it’s making me think more of honey than the aroma of apples.
Hmm… I do like the flavor of this a lot more than standard mate (which is often too “tobacco” tasting for me). There is a sweet cinnamon note that hits the tongue first, then a very herbaceous grassy/hay note follows, and I’m not getting the unpleasant smokiness that usually turns me off. But I’m not really tasting apple? I guess the sweetness leans a bit fruity, but I’m still getting more of a “honey” sort of flavor than a “juicy apple” sort of flavor. I feel like the last several apple teas I’ve tried I’ve wanted a stronger apple note…
It’s a pleasant cup. It would just be more pleasant if the apple flavor stood out a bit more against the cinnamon and herbaceous green mate notes.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Dry Grass, Fruity, Herbaceous, Honey, Hot Hay, Sweet
French Friday! Pulled this from the sampler bag from Dustin this morning, thank you!
…I had very little time to prepare tea this morning, so instead of coming to Steepster to look up the tea first, I just ran straight over to the kettle to start preparations. And for whatever reason, in my uncaffeinated state, the leaf looked like black leaf to me, so that’s how I prepared it… only to come back to Steepster, look up the tea for logging, and see this is a green tea. So basically, I’ve just scorched the hell out of these leaves (at least the second cup for the thermos will be the right temperature…)
Dry leaf had a strong grape aroma to me… a bit like grape, black current, and cranberry? It was pleasant. The steeped cup smells pretty much the same, with an emphasis on the grape note. It doesn’t taste too bad for dunking green tea leaves in 205F water, though there is a sharpness/brassiness coming out. It’s pretty subtle under the flavoring, which is strongly berry; purple grape candy, black current, blueberry… without any of those flavors being particularly distinct, but a fusion of each other. A bit of astringency on the end of the sip, it is more of a sharpness at the back of the tongue than bitter persay, with some mild drying. Hard to tell if that is a result of my brewing, or the tea itself. I’m attempting to carefully sip from the work thermos which was brewed at the proper 175F, and I’m uncertain if I can tell much difference. At least not enough that I see no reason to combine my cuppas in the thermos before leaving for work. Despite the harsh brew, I’m not in sink territory yet.
This one feels slightly more waxy on my tongue… I remember having that issue with Marco Polo too, and wonder if I’m more sensitive to the kind of scentings Mariage Freres uses compared to THEODOR. The flavor is very pleasant, I’m just not as much a fan of the mouthfeel compared to some of the other French teas I’ve tried thus far.
Flavors: Astringent, Berries, Black Currant, Blueberry, Candy, Drying, Grapes, Grass, Thick
Happy National Fragrance Day!
I have been really into sakura flavor lately, and its aroma is one of its biggest appeals to me. I love that combination of floral/fruity/candy/umami notes that dinstinctly define “sakura”.
These sakura teas from Lupicia are quite old now (I just finished off the Rooibos one as warm lattes in the evening!) and I still need to finish off the others. Lupicia Hawaii doesn’t carry them anymore, but my palate has gotten to the point where I’m not quite as pleased with the salinity in the cup caused from the salted preservation of the leaves than my past reviews seem to indicate, so I don’t feel so bad saying goodbye (and at least I still have Chasandai’s sugar-preserved sakura tea, which is phenominal). I do however like “salty teas” used in cooking, so I thought I’d try this tea as a base for sakura rice.
I used an ample amount of leaf since it steeps quickly in the boiling water and needs a strong infusion before adding the rice to the tea water in order to get the flavor to carry through. I loved the sakura rice I made using preserved Obubu sakura leaves, but wasn’t sure how well just using a sakura flavored tea would work, but the results were much better than I’d expected! The rice really did have quite a lovely sakura aroma, and had stained a slightly goldenrod color from the tea. And I got a nice flavor of subtle and sweet cherry, as well as the saltiness.
Nice! This will probably be how I finish off this tea, as I like the saltiness of the leaf in rice, but find it a bit of a turn off in a teacup.
Flavors: Cherry, Cherry Blossom, Floral, Sakura, Salty, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Umami