920 Tasting Notes
An Ode to Tea, O Entry.
This tea comes from the Kurihara Tea Farm, but was acquired via Yunomi. I don’t have much experience with Japanese blacks, which is probably why I dropped a 20g sample of this into a very long-ago order. My tastes pretty much never agree with the steeping instructions provided with Japanese teas (which always have water-to-leaf ratios that just aren’t pleasant to me) so I disregarded them and brewed the way I usually make blacks (2.5g per 350ml) though I did drop the water temperature down from my typical 205F to their suggested 195F.
The steeped cup has a smooth, breakfast tea malty/baked bread aroma, with a strong fruity cherry note, and an underlying florality, like a wildflower honey. It’s nice! I’m surprised how fruity this black is! I definitely taste that warm baked bread and malt flavor, but very quickly a sharp floral/fruity taste dominates the cup, tasting mostly of cherries, orange peel, and more subtly, rose. There is a very aromatic feeling left on the tongue, which reminds me of the feeling I get when I drink scented French teas, and a mild drying after the sip. Remarkably smooth prepared this way. I sort of expected this is to be a pretty harsh black and expected I’d be using up the remainder of the packet making lattes, but this is perfect as-is.
Looking forward to sipping this down over the next few days!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Orange Zest, Rose, Smooth
A strange time of year to be drinking this, I know, but it ticked the box for my Ode to Tea I Entry, and I figure it would be more prudent to drink this coconut tea now than wait longer when it is more seasonally appropriate and the coconut has likely gone rancid by then.
At least the coconut still has a lovely aroma in the package when I unsealed it! Brewed up, it smells like a richly coconut chai; coconut hits my nose first, with an undertone of clove. And that is mostly what I’m getting on the mouth as well. The coconut fills out on the sip first and foremost, with a crispy/toasted coconut left lingering on my tongue after the sip. About mid-sip and toward the end of the sip, I taste the spice — I see there is no clove in this blend, but that is definitely what I’m tasting… perplexing! I do pick out a little of a cinnamon note in the aftertaste left on my tongue.
It’s pleasant. Mostly this is a smooth coconut black tea, it has enough boldness to make this a nice morning cuppa, but it is sweet and smooth, with only a hint of drying after the sip. It is not a spicy tea, but it is a warming tea, and at least here, my house still feels quite chilly in the mornings and evenings despite the nice, warm, clear spring weather, which adds to the appeal of something like this for breakfast. I think it would go nicely with milk, since the flavors seem to fit a thick and creamy sort of profile, so I may try a latte next. I’ve been in a latte phase lately!
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Coconut, Smooth, Spices, Sweet, Toasted
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