New Tasting Notes

72

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84
drank Palm Court by Harney & Sons
1259 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 39 of 2017 (no. 320 total). A sample.

More of this is on the way in my order, so time to finish this one up. I only have one left after this (I think), which is pretty amazing. I thought I had more, but oh well.

One of the things that endears Harney and Sons to me is their consistency, not just within their blends but with their offerings. Perhaps I’m showing my age, but I know for sure that my attention span, weak though it can be at times, is generally more than that of a goldfish — which means that the constant changing of what’s available from various tea companies drives me bonkers.

Sometimes I get it. A year isn’t great for a certain type of crop, or demand forces prices too high, or a certain blend just isn’t selling. But sometimes I don’t get it a at all. Teavana is one of the worst offenders, generally getting rid of every blend after a season (the only one they still have that I liked enough to reorder was Strawberry Lemonade) — but even the old standby Upton is guilty. I tried to get more Turkish Apple from them the other day as part of my tisane acquisition project, and they no longer have it. I wrote to ask them why and they said it’s because it has artificial flavors. Not that this would have bothered me, though it might bother some folks. At this point, I think I’ve consumed enough artificial flavors over the year that a few more aren’t going to make a difference. But certainly, there must be a company that can make Turkish Apple with natural flavors from which Upton could source? In the end, I had to buy some off Amazon from a company in Germany — which I’m guessing was the supplier to Upton since the label says that their Turkish Apple came from Germany.

But I digress.

The point was that Harney makes a blend, gets it right, and keeps making it year after year so that you don’t have to worry that your favorites will disappear over the long haul.
I really appreciate that about the company.

I’m loving this one this morning. The flavor is just as it was when I wrote the first note on this years ago, and it’s just as enjoyable.

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77
drank Masala Chai by Teavana
1259 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 38 of 2017 (no. 319 total).

Continuing with the project to winnow my chai selection, largely by cold brewing. I finished the pitcher of this, the cold brew version, just now and put the last two spoons into the pitcher again along with some Golden Moon Pu-erh Chai. That will be interesting…

My note on this when I tried it hot through the stove top method indicated that it wasn’t among my favorites because there was no black pepper listed in the ingredients. That is actually a plus for cold brew, in my book — the pepper doesn’t translate well for me. But a lot of the rest of this didn’t translate well either. It was a shade of its former self when done cold, although who knows how much of that has to do with age. Most of my elderly teas don’t give up that much flavor, but this one did.

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65
drank Snow Day by DAVIDsTEA
5579 tasting notes

Iced, with some milk. Not totally sure where it comes from, but I definitely thought this had a nutty sort of taste today. Also, it reminded me a lot of mint chocolate flavoured shortbread. Just, you know, very pastry like/buttery in general on top of the sweet chocolate and crisp mint…

Friendly reminder that I do not numerically rate DAVIDsTEA blends as I’m currently employed there and it would be an obvious conflict of interest. Any blends you see with numerical ratings were rated prior to my employment there. These reviews are a reflection of my personal thoughts regarding the teas, and not the company’s.

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76

This was another one of the one ounce samples I received from The Teaguy back around March. At one point in time, jasmine green teas didn’t do much for me, but I have warmed up to them quite a bit over the course of the past 1-2 years, so I was happy to see this tea was one they opted to send me. This particular tea is a basic Chun Mee scented with jasmine. I am, in truth, not the hugest fan of Chun Mee, as I find it to be a very basic, boring kind of green tea, but this one surprised me by working very well with the jasmine. Since Chun Mee tends to be vegetal and somewhat acidic, the jasmine essence was not able to overpower it, instead producing a nicely balanced scented tea.

I opted for a two step Western infusion process when it came to brewing this tea. First, I steeped a full teaspoon of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 176 F water for 2 minutes. I then conducted a second and final 3 minute infusion.

Prior to the first infusion, the dry tea leaves produced the expected scent of jasmine coupled with noticeable scents of grass and hay. After infusion, I picked up a stronger jasmine scent coupled with touches of grass, hay, and spinach. In the mouth, the liquor offered delicate notes of jasmine, grass, hay, spinach, lemon, seaweed, and touches of napa cabbage and/or bok choy. The second infusion revealed that the freshly used tea leaves still retained a good deal of jasmine scent as well as aromas of grass, hay, and spinach. The only differences I noted were that the jasmine scent was weaker and there was a touch of seaweed on the nose this time. I did not find any new flavors in the second infusion, but I did notice that the liquor became more vegetal and more citrusy overall.

While this was a very balanced blend and I certainly commend The Teaguy for producing something of a different jasmine green tea, I still do not possess the warmest of feelings for Chun Mee. I still find it to be basic and boring and I am far more likely to reach for a jasmine green tea that offers more complexity most of the time, but this was not bad in the least. Even though it was not exactly my cup of tea, I would not caution others to avoid it.

Flavors: Bok Choy, Grass, Hay, Jasmine, Lemon, Seaweed, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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78

Couldn’t resist trying this one out…

For my first tasting, I just stuck with straight up cold milk. Man, do I love matcha milk. I whisked it up with an electric frother instead of my bamboo whisk ’cause I was feeling lazy and HOLY SHIT DOES THIS FROTH UP WELL. Like, in seconds my entire cup of matcha/milk had turned into this cloud of cool, light, fluffy milk foam. Yessss milk foam!

Taste wise? This is actually great! It’s very creamy and sweet with notes of vanilla, custard, and carob and while it doesn’t scream “Ice Cream” to me I do get where the comparison comes from, for sure. I’d say it’s mostly just creamy vanilla-esque flavour, though. I can imagine this would make for a killer hot latte! The taste of the matcha itself is nice too; it’s actually very mild with only the slightly grassy floral taste. Ultimately, the only weird thing/downside for me comes down to a texture thing. I’m pretty sure it’s the carob powder in this and not the matcha itself, but drinking it there’s a very powdery quality that I couldn’t shake at all. No matter how well I whisked this the “powder” would not dissolve. I mean, it was super fine ‘grain’ but still…

I mean, it’s a minor thing and one I’m pretty sure I can get used to given time/repeat tries of this but it’s definitely still something that stood out this time.

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75

This is a never opened ATR sample from way back when. The tea no longer appears to be available on the ATR web site. I steeped for the time and at the temp stated on the packet.

I think Qimen is a variant spelling of Keemun. In any case, the dry leaf looks like Keemun and smell chocolatey with the tiniest hint of smoke.

The tea is on the darker side of medium red-brown and has an arboreal scent that reminds of pine but isn’t pine. The chocolate notes persist in the aroma, but not the smoke.

The tea is brisk and perky, but isn’t light — I think the marketing statement that it’s medium body is right on. It’s not what I think of as malty, which is a bit deeper in flavor and body, but there’s a definite bread note in there. I don’t get much more than a slight hint of smoke.

A pleasant tea that would probably be equally good iced, but alas, I don’t have enough to cold brew and as mentioned, this is no longer available from ATR.

It’s been so long, I can’t remember the Keemuns that knocked my socks off, so I’m rating this a bit in a vacuum as a solid good but not spectacular.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Smoke

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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91

Had this one the other day and… AMAZEBALLS.

Seriously, I’m really kicking myself right now for not ordering more of it back when I was in Fargo ‘cause now I don’t have a way of getting more unless someone in the area sends me some (and I don’t know anyone in the area) or we go back, which I don’t think is gonna happen ANYTIME soon. But I mean, how was I supposed to know it would be so good!? I was just so skeptical after trying Story of My Tea’s really unpleasant rhubarb oolong. Ugh!

This was super rich though, with a surprisingly creamy sort of rhubarb taste! It did have a little tartness/sharp edge to it, partly from the oolong base which tasted very green and floral but on the whole I was actually reminded a lot more of rhubarb and custard flavoured things that overly acidic/tart rhubarb. Plus, it had a very velvety mouthfeel, and just a super smooth profile overall. I don’t even mind the hint of grassy sharpness of the floral elements, it just completely added to the tea for me.

Yessss! YUM YUM YUM!

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Sipdown (410)!

So, this year for the holidays I want to come up with my own cocktail that incorporates each of the five teas in our Winter collection – I actually got the idea from a coworker after a long conversation about tea infused cocktails/possibly doing an outside of the store staff party for those of us who are legal drinking age (which is like 90% of our staff).

I started with this tea in particular because a customer actually made a comment about wanting to find a tea to mix with Amaretto and it just made me have that “epiphany” moment where I knew exactly what to do with this tea. So, I present to you the recipe for the White Cranberry Amaretto Sour!

1. Start with a glass filled with ice cubes OR crushed ice, if you want more of a slush
2. Pour in 2 oz. of Amaretto
3. Pour in 2 oz. of chilled WCB concentrate
4. Pour in the juice of 1/2 a fresh squeezed lemon
5. Garnish with a lemon wedge and Maraschino cherry
6. Stir to mix the ingredients before serving

For the WCB concentrate, I just steeped 1 PS of the tisane in about 3 oz. of boiling water. When you strain everything, it gives you enough concentrate for 2 oz. of the tisane.

Anyway, this works great! If you don’t stir everything up right away you should get a really pretty gradient of colours with the bright, cranberry red in the middle as well! I love Amaretto Sours myself because I think they’re really sweet and smooth, and they remind me a lot of cherry candies. The addition of the cranberry here plays into all those aspects; the tartness of the cranberry works well with the tart lemon, it compliments the almond really well (think the almond/cranberry pairing in Harney & Son’s Boston tea if you want an example of this), it adds a beautiful colour, it’s kind of festive, and it leans in to that sort of cherry type of flavour. I will say, though, that’s it’s fairly sweet so if you have it on hand I’d try adding in a drop (maybe two) of Saline to try and balance out some of the sweetness if sweet cocktails aren’t generally your thing.

While I sipped on mine for like an hour to savor it, I also made one for my mom and she just fucking downed it without a second thought. She really liked it. It’s awesome too ‘cause this tea on it’s own? Yeah, personally I didn’t really like it much at all and neither did she, but this is VERY transformative.

Friendly reminder that I do not numerically rate DAVIDsTEA blends as I’m currently employed there and it would be an obvious conflict of interest. Any blends you see with numerical ratings were rated prior to my employment there. These reviews are a reflection of my personal thoughts regarding the teas, and not the company’s.

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69

Sipdown (411)!

Finished this one hot, with some honey. It was actually really tasty and very smooth with a predominantly honeyed peach flavour and then sweet grassy and floral undertones. Honestly, it may have actually been the best cup of this one I experienced flat out.

Still, I’m not sad to see it go – one less green in the cupboard to worry about!

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81

Sipdown (412)!

Well, I think I’ve got my Black Friday/Cyber Monday ordering done! I actually started it a few days ago, and I’ve just been slowly checking things off the list since. There’s only two more companies I’m looking at, but it looks like neither are likely doing stuff this year. In total I ended up ordering from:

- Teavivre
- Healthy Leaf
- A Quarter To Tea
- Sloane Tea
- White2Tea
- Wize Monkey
- Crimson Lotus Tea

This was deliciously sipped down while plotting some of those orders. I really love the juicy floral lychee flavours and I’m actually pleasantly surprised how consistent they were with every single cup I had of this – even this last one, which was largely broken up tea leaf! I honestly would not have expected to enjoy this so much when I received it but it’s been a real favourite of mine this year.

I mean, I certainly am not going to do it now that I’ve just ordered a ton of stuff and my cupboard is 400+ teas, BUT I’d definitely be REALLY open to trying other Octet blends in the future!

Evol Ving Ness

What did you order from Sloane, if I may ask, Ms. Strange?

Roswell Strange

The Peaches & Cream white and the Jasmine Pink Lemonade white :)

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I bought a sample of this tea, though I came very close to blindly caking it for the awesome wrapper. I haven’t taken detailed notes on it, but I think I’m probably going to buy a cake of it today (Black Friday). It’s got some nice spinachy vegetal notes, a bit of bitterness. Good body and a relaxing qi. One of the most notable characteristics of it is a unique huigan that reminds me more of what I’m used to from gaoshan oolongs than from sheng puerh. It is a pretty high and floral creamy finish. I’m very interested in seeing how the cake will age, so I might hang onto it for a long time if I can avoid drinking it all quickly.

Flavors: Bitter, Creamy, Floral, Thick, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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81
drank Cardamom French Toast by DAVIDsTEA
2340 tasting notes

Black Friday seemes like the perfect time to break this out.
Ahh, thats the smell. Thats the comforting cup of warmth.
Nom.

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83
drank South Indian Select by Novus
1900 tasting notes

This was a nice cup with breakfast. I really wanted a latte, and since this is my only teabag of this Indian black tea, I thought I might accomplish a sipdown as well.

This tea is strong, I found 1 minute in 450 mL hot water enough, and that was with milk already added. If you don’t oversteep, you will have a pleasant cup of bold, flavourful black tea. Notes of cream, nuts, and dry wood. It would easily do 2-3 more resteeps, and it expands in the sachet sightly. I don’t drink a lot of Indian blacks, but this reminds me of when I was a kid and would have Red Rose orange pekoe with milk at my grandmother’s, except this tea is definitely much higher grade. This is just a nice, smooth black tea, nothing fancy (and I enjoy its simplicity).

Flavors: Cream, Malt, Nuts, Tannic, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 15 sec 15 OZ / 450 ML

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Being a fan of Bulang puerh, I figured this would be a good black tea for me to try out; I was right. This one seemed to have a bit more body and depth of flavor than most hong that I drink. Slight bitterness if pushed, but mostly malty and sweet flavors – a bit of caramel and some kind of dried fruit, maybe raisins. I wonder how much my impression was colored by the word “Bulang” in the name, as I equate that with a more bold and burly style of puerh.

This was definitely a good black tea, but I likely won’t buy more of it – just because black tea isn’t something I drink much of generally.

Flavors: Caramel, Dried Fruit, Malt, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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67
drank Pu Erh Hazelberry by Adagio Teas
172 tasting notes

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91
drank Gong Fu Black by Zhi Tea
1 tasting notes

The BEST!

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Apple Skins

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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85
drank Alpine Punch by DAVIDsTEA
22 tasting notes

I’m not a huge fan of Rooibos teas, and I didn’t totally love the smell of this one, but once steeped, it smells really nice and aromatic. You can definitely taste the almonds in there, topped off with a bit of coconut, apples, cinammon. I don’t personally taste the cardamom in there, which is a shame because I love it. It has a tiny bit of an oily layer, probably from the almond cream or coconut, but I didn’t mind it here. It’s a really nice tea for a winter afternoon.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Butter, Cinnamon, Coconut

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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85
drank Holiday Tea by Harney & Sons
50 tasting notes

What a tasty surprise!

Harney & Sons included a sample of this Holiday Tea in a recent order, and I love it. We have amassed quite a few samples, and sometimes I don’t feel like going through the effort to brew a pot (lazy, right?), so I’ll grab a sample tea bag. My wife doesn’t do caffeine after a certain time of the day, so when I held out the pre-Thanksgiving offerings, she snatched up an herbal, and I chose this from the remainder.

I’m not typically a fan of clove, but it’s so tastefully woven into the overall flavor of this tea that I was sad to see the bottom of the cup. The almond, cinnamon and citrus were just right to make this a great evening tea, and it would make a delicious dessert or conversation tea at any gathering.

Flavors: Almond, Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove

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82

Strong caramel flavor from this one. A good ‘dessert’ tea. The caramel is so strong I did not taste much of the green tea.

Flavors: Caramel

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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95

012/365

I know why I kept this one back. It’s because I love Bi Luo Chun. It’s my favourite green. This is from the 2015 spring harvest, so demonstrates how far behind I am with my cupboard if nothing else. This one was worth keeping, though. It’s deliciously vegetal in the best possible way – savoury, green-beany, just a touch grassy. It’s also super-smooth, with absolutely no astringency.

The first one of these I tried was from Butiki, as far as I recall, and it was that cup that made me realise instantly that I’d found “my” green. This Bi Luo Chun perhaps doesn’t have quite the same depth of flavour, but it’s pretty excellent just the same. Maybe next spring, if I’m more caught up, I’ll allow myself to buy some of the 2018 harvest. Then I can go back to hoarding it again.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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