Featured & New Tasting Notes

85

304/365

Another of B&B’s Store Blends collection, this time for (obviously!) Brighton. It features an oolong base, with peppermint, butterfly pea flower, and pastel star sprinkles!

Thanks to the butterfly pea, and perhaps also the peppermint, is brews up a delightful shade of teal. It’s super pretty, and I feel like that’s something I don’t often say that about tea once it’s made. Taste-wise, it’s a nicely mineral green oolong with mild peppermint overtones and a hint of creaminess. It reminds me a little of B&B’s Peppermint Cream, although the mint is less dominant in Brighton Rock. There’s a background sweetness, which I think is at least partly thanks to the sprinkles, and a touch of funk from the butterfly pea flower. Butterfly Pea isn’t a flavour I really enjoy, although I can see why it’s included here from a purely aesthetic point of view. Rock is generally brightly coloured, after all!

The overall flavour is vaguely reminiscent of rock, but it really needs to be sweeter if that’s what it’s aiming to replicate. Some sugar might help with that, which I’ll bear in mind for my next cup. I think it probably also needs a bit more mint, although it could just be that my bag isn’t very evenly distributed.

I really like this one, even though it’s not quite able to live up to its name. I’m not a huge fan of strong mint teas, so it’s a blend that definitely appeals to my personal tastes, and there’s enough suggestion of rock to keep me happy. I’m enjoying seeing a more experimental side to B&B – the store blends definitely feel more out there, and they definitely use ingredients I’ve never seen in B&B blends before. Long may it continue!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp

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Hellooooooooo, Sunshine! I haven’t seen you in far too long!

We made it relatively unscathed through the storm. We never lost power – we live blocks from the hospital and our power grid has priority. We had no flooding although there is very serious flooding nearby and a friend’s mother just got word that the water has reached her house for the first time ever, and she has lived there for fifty years. A rainy day is lovely, but four in a row is NOT for me! And now it is viciously humid as well. But I am happy for the sunshine. Hubby has worked about 60 hours of overtime in less than one week, plus his regular forty.

We have bailed out the woodstove once, about to do it again, and have cut and trimmed all the large branches that came down. We lost one trellis and another is down but unbroken. Hiw did everyone else fare? Check in!

This tea was drunk all day and all night throughout the storm. It is mellow and smooth and still bright and cheerful. Even if you don’t mean to, you stop and NOTICE this tea. It isn’t a forgetful cup that just washed down your food even if you are drinking it that way. It was a great, cheering companion.

Girl Meets Gaiwan

Oh, I see you’re in NC – me too! Similar storm experience so far, no real damage or loss of power. We’re currently being drenched again, so we’ll see how water levels do as the day goes on. Three days of stir-crazy with my kids, though…at least my oldest was back in school today after a delay in the morning.

Girl Meets Gaiwan

And the tea sounds lovely!

ashmanra

Wow! Our schools were set to re-open Wednesday but I know the colleges have lushed it back to next Monday so public schools might be doing the same. I only have one “kid” left at home and she goes to college in town. She still went stir crazy! She usually walks from five to ten miles a day, really, and it drove her bonkers to be inside so much. We did go out to feed chickens, gather eggs, check on things, and got drenched every time.

Glad you made it safely!

Girl Meets Gaiwan

Thanks, you too! We’re just outside Triangle but are thankfully in a kind of sweet spot just far enough from the nearby rivers to be mostly safe from flooding, so our county schools were running. 15 minutes up the road, however, still has a good bit of flooding and didn’t have school today.

Teatotaler

Ashmanra! So glad you’re okay! Glad you’re okay as well, Girl Meets Gaiwan!

mrmopar

Glad to see you are ok Ash. We had the rain, flooding and the power outages. We are back running now but still waiting for the flood to subside.

Doug F

Perfect tea for a storm.

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90

Back around the start of September, I took a couple days to work my way through some Darjeeling oolong samples that I had purchased back in late summer and early autumn of 2017. This was one of them, and I have to say that I was impressed by it. Of course, it should also be noted that I am a huge fan of the teas produced by the Jungpana Estate. I particularly appreciated this tea’s depth and complexity.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of toasted cashew, hay, raisin, vanilla, malt, and wood. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of grass, straw, spinach, and roasted almond along with some hints of fennel. The first infusion offered a hint of green bell pepper on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of toasted cashew, wood, hay, malt, vanilla, and roasted almond that were backed by surprising notes of mango and tangerine before impressions of green bell pepper and grass popped up on the finish. Subsequent infusions saw aromas of mango, tangerine, jasmine, and spearmint appear. Notes of fennel, spinach, raisin, and straw belatedly appeared in the mouth alongside new notes of spearmint, minerals, sugar, orange, and jasmine. The later infusions offered some lingering mineral, tangerine, mango, and fennel notes that were backed by impressions of grass, roasted nuts, green bell pepper, and spinach.

This was a complex, challenging, and refined first flush Darjeeling oolong that managed to remain approachable throughout a lengthy drinking session and never turned sour, bitter, or astringent. Fans of Darjeeling teas would probably be very pleased with it. I would have no issue with recommending it to oolong fans looking for something new or fans of Darjeeling black teas who are looking for something a little more challenging.

Flavors: Almond, Citrus, Fennel, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Jasmine, Malt, Mango, Mineral, Nutty, Orange, Raisins, Spearmint, Spinach, Straw, Sugar, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Jungpana’s are one of my favorites, too.

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88

The September box surprised me as a green Da Yu Ling instead of the darker teas the company tends to release this month, and it was a pleasant surprise. The company wanted to introduce a fall harvest Da Yu Ling with a higher oxidation of 30%, and I am glad they did because it was personally successful.

I will say that my notes today are not going to be too deep in detail, but I’ve brewed this a few times differently. I’ve done gong fu with a 20 sec beginning, 15 sec 2nd steep, and 20 increasing over time and something more basic like 30 increments. The notes changed more here, and the tea has flavor, albeit mild overall. Eco-Cha’s description is on spot about it being vibrant and fresh-this tea is definitely floral and green like apple skin, but the deeper fruity qualities are in the aftertaste of the second and later steeps. The vegetal flavor matches fresh yellow squash. I personally got lemon balm and kiwi in most of the finishes and lilies in the florals, with some orchid, hyacinth and a little bit of osmanthus. Although the say it’s heady, that is moreso true again in steeps 2-4 without it being overwhelming and perfumy. Otherwise, it is a very mild tea with a smooth and full mouthfeel, and a dry finish.

Western was not as successful so far. It tasted more like a general jade or jin xuan than a Dayuling, which was a shame, so Gong Fu is the better way to go. The notes remained more floral than anything else, and the fruitier notes were lost out and more herbaceous. This tea is flexible and can hand some rough housing, but I’ve lost some of the more subtle notes going that way, so precision is the way to go to master this tea. I was hoping for sweeter fruit notes from the higher oxidation, but the evergreen, squash, lily, and watercress notes took over western and gong fu.

I have to say that tasting this tea made me think of the earlier notes on the company’s main supply of Dayuling here on steepster since this was such a mild tea. I am happy as a club member that I got to have a tea from one of my favorite terroirs at a good price, and that I got to try a fall version. I’m also happy to have 75 grams of it, and I will definitely enjoy drinking it. My only nitpick is the lack of strength, so I will give it my rating of 88-the designation for something that I could have easily loved, but was only steps away from receiving it.

Flavors: Apple Skins, Drying, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Green, Lemongrass, Orchid, Pine, Smooth, Sugarcane, Sweet

Leafhopper

Of course Eco-Cha had to go and include a Dayuling in their box a few months after I stopped subscribing! :)

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90
drank Sleep Superblend by Twinings
2132 tasting notes

301/365

I lay the blame for this one firmly at the feet of Arby, whose tasting note for this one meant that I immediately had to seek out a box – fortunately, it was pretty easy to come by. This is a chamomile-based sleep/bedtime blend, but is slightly unusual in that it also features spiced apple, vanilla, and passionflower.

I really like it. It’s sweeter than such blends usually are, and not as obnoxiously herbal. The apple is nicely prominent, and It’s almost juicy, in the way of apple juice (the kind that’s not from concentrate.) The vanilla adds a softening creaminess, which is always welcome, and the chamomile is pleasantly buttery which works well with the creaminess as well as the apple. The spicing is fairly mild, but there in the background. Taken as a whole, I’m reminded quite a bit of the spiced apple juice I made last autumn with another Twinings blend – Spicy Chai.

I haven’t really tried enough of this to comment on its sleep-inducing properties, but I will say that I slept really well last night, which is unusual for me. Long may it continue!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec
ashmanra

Now I want to try it! I bet Christmas Tree Shops will have it. They carry a huge Twinings selection.

Arby

I really enjoyed this blend, however I definitely found the spices were the star and I didn’t taste the chamomile or apple very much. Glad you enjoyed it! I do know from experience/the experience of others that passionflower makes you sleep deeply and have super weird dreams.

ashmanra

Hmmm, I don’t dig the super weird dreams part…

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68

This was the last tea I tried before I was knocked out of commission for a time due to that snakebite in the latter half of August. That would mean I probably finished my sample pouch between August 16th and August 19th. At the time I was finishing this tea up, I recall thinking that it was pleasant enough to drink though somewhat boring and forgettable overall. Indeed, if I did not have session notes to go by, I would have been able to recall absolutely nothing about the review session I conducted. In my opinion, this tea lacked the mineral bite, spiciness, woodsiness, and/or strong, thick sweetness that frequently make many Wuyi black teas so compelling, and it also lacked the strong fruity and herbal qualities that make many contemporary Taiwanese black teas so memorable and endearingly quirky.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cocoa, raisin, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted peanut and blueberry to go along with an odd banana-like aroma and a considerably stronger cocoa presence. The first infusion then introduced some mineral hints to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cocoa, cinnamon, raisin, honey, roasted peanut, and blueberry chased by a subtle banana impression. The subsequent infusions introduced smoke, pine, malt, baked bread, and citrus aromas as well as a stronger mineral scent. New notes of cream, leather, baked bread, pine, caramel, orange zest, and malt appeared in the mouth along with strong, belatedly emerging mineral impressions and some subtle smokiness. The final infusions offered mineral, caramel, orange zest, malt, and cocoa notes that were accompanied by faint cream, baked bread, and roasted peanut accents.

All in all, this was a respectable tea, but it ended up not being one I could ever see myself tracking down and trying again. Its quirks were a little too subtle for my taste, and since it did not offer the thick, robust sweetness of many Wuyi black teas or the pronounced fruity and herbal qualities of many other Taiwanese black teas, it ended up falling into a gray area for me. It was simultaneously reminiscent of both a Wuyi black tea and a Taiwanese black tea, but it had too few of the best qualities of either to truly impress me. I could see people who like very smooth and often very subtle black teas being into this tea, but quite frankly, I am not one of those people. Overall, this tea was not bad; it was just not for me.

Flavors: Baked Bread, banana, Blueberry, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Smoke

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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74

I was really excited when I saw this tea online. TTC once carried a pomelo flower scented oolong that was out of this world good. It’s still one of my top 10 Taiwanese oolongs of all time. I was hoping this could match the TTC tea but sadly it pales in comparison. The pomelo fragrance is just barely there and tastes like it faded a long time ago. Some unexpected bitterness was encountered when cold brewed and grandpa steeped. It was a little better when gongfued but still had a very faint pomelo flavor. The underlying Jin Xuan is thin-bodied and doesn’t contribute much to taste either.

I just saw this tea was discounted on Mountain Stream’s website with a note explaining that it was now past its shelf life. That’s a little surprising considering it was harvested only a few months and sealed but would explain my experience. I do appreciate the vendor’s honestly though. May consider trying it again in the future if I can get my hands on a fresh batch.

Flavors: Orange Blossom

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I need to try it again because it did not scream at me either.

derk

Heh, the pomelo fragrance screamed at me loud and clear only a month or so ago. I’m surprised it would have faded so quickly being sealed. The base tea seemed high enough quality, though my experience with jin xuan is no more than 5-6 different teas. The only thing I took issue with was a strong numbing of the first half of my tongue.

derk

5-6 green jin xuans

Arby

Since we are discussing pomelo teas, has anyone tried the pomelo fragrance Dan Cong oolong that Yunnan Sourcing sells?

LuckyMe

Arby, the YS pomelo fragrance dan cong is a good, but is a different animal from this tea. This one is produced by scenting a green oolong with flowers in the manner of jasmine tea. Tthe dan cong OTOH has no added flavoring. It’s processed in such a way that it naturally develops a pomelo flower like taste & aroma.

LuckyMe

@derk, i’m also surprised the flavor evaporated so quickly. my TTC pomelo scented tea lasted for a long time before there was any noticeable drop in flavor. could be improper packaging (no oxygen absorbers in this package or skill of the producer.

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90

Over the past few days of doing a sipdown with this tea, I’ve brewed it at a lower temperature (only 5 degrees difference) and noticed some differences, the biggest being a pronounced creaminess in texture in the first steep. Straw, malt, mace (warming and peppery, kind of sweet), almond, cream and butter became the dominant notes in taste.
The cocoa I had gotten previously pretty much disappeared. There was still enough of a high note between the fruity nose and the muscatel, orange blossom and yellow gooseberry in the mouth to keep it interesting. The first steep produced an aftertaste of cream/butter while the second was fruity with a lingering light astringency. Again, this tea is versatile in that I can gain equal pleasure by either taking my time sipping or drinking it quickly. The mornings here have been chilly lately and this tea has been a nice accompaniment.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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89

This was an enjoyable light roasted TGY. Its got the familiar florals of jade TGY but they are far less intense and counterbalanced by warm pretzel undertones. I get notes of violet, sandalwood, plantain, a little lychee, and toasted nuts. The roasted taste becomes more prominent as the tea steeps but remains subtle like baked goods without any ashyness. The body of the tea and mouthfeel, however, were a bit thin and on the watery side. That may be due to having only steeped this grandpa style so far. Guess I’ll have to gongfu this to give it a fair shot. Lately I’ve been gongfuing less and have drifted back to western and grandpa style brewing. It also doesn’t help that my new Aliexpress glass mug with built-in filter makes grandpa steeping ridiculously easy.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Campfire, Orchid, Violet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

After my initial “meh” experience, I’ve come to enjoy this tea immensely. I blend it with a straight black – in about a 1.5-to-1 ratio – add a pinch of sugar and frothed milk to make the perfect London Fog latte. It’s pretty potent so a little goes a long way. Blending it with another black tea helps balance the tea and lets the lavender, vanilla, and bergamot shine through gently without hitting me in the face. Makes for a nice dessert tea or afternoon pick me up. I don’t normally add milk to tea (that’s for coffee and matcha) but this is one tea that’s totally made for it.

Mastress Alita

I love London Fogs; that is my breakfast tea this morning! I find most EG blends are too heavy on the bergamot for my particular tastes but the milk smooths it out just right. Agree with the matcha as well, I prefer it latte-style as well.

LuckyMe

That was the case with this tea too. I didn’t enjoy it at first because on its own, the bergamot and other flavorings are too heavy. It’s perfect once you cut with a straight black and add milk.

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75

Sampler Sipdown September! And the final tea from my samplers for the Harry Potter House Cup… OF TEA!

This tea is also from Malfoy Tea Emporium, and this blend is Malfoy representing House Slytherin! (Which, for the record, is my House… bet you thought all librarians were Ravenclaws, right? I’m just that sneaky.) This is a green tea blend with some spearmint, lemongrass, and spices. The dry leaf aroma is very minty, but the clove is also very noticable!

The tea steeped up a pale yellow with some subtle greenish tones, true to its green tea base. The distinct vegetal flavor of green tea isn’t noticeable in this blend, however, so those that typically don’t like green tea could still appreciate this as an herbal offering, so long as they don’t mind the caffeine. This is a light tea with a strong minty flavor, the spearmint making up the dominant note of the tea. I find the spearmint gives the flavor just a bit more bite than typical mint. Unlike the Weasley tea where I felt the added spices where lost in the flavor profile, that is certainly not the case here! There is a slightly spicy hint to every sip that tickles on the tongue, and the clove especially lingers right at the back of the tongue. It isn’t overpowering, but it is a flavor that certainly makes itself known. The spice is quite subtle in comparison to a chai, but gives a certain pleasant kick to the soothing mint green base.

This tea actually resteeps quite well, increasing the steep time by a few minutes. The color was still full without the green tea going bitter, and the original flavors held up amazingly well! The spearmint flavor was still very flavorful on a second steep, and while the spices were a little less powerful, I continued to get some clove and cinnamony notes lingering in the aftertaste. I am impressed at this leaf’s ability at self-preservation… but would I expect any less of a Slytherin? Of course not. That deserves a bonus point!

I’ve never had a spicy mint green tea, not even a subtle one, so this was certainly a new experience for me! I have been a fan of Moroccan Mint teas and chais for some time, so this was almost like an odd blending of elements of both. And in many ways it really worked for me. I was surprised how well the clove and spearmint complimented each other. It is a thoroughly satisfying cup. I give this tea four out of five points for flavor.

I’m a bit happy to see this tea isn’t just a dark as mud black tea, because really… hasn’t the whole “Slytherin is dark and evil!” thing been done to death? In fact, those green leaves, and the slight greenish hues in the brewed tea reminded me of the House color and brought a little grin to the face, much the way the red steep of the Weasley tea did… I think I’m going to have to award Slytherin a presentation bonus point for that!

The dominant flavor of this tea, spearmint, is an herb known for helping with cognitive ability such as learning and memory, which is why when tasting this tea, one of the blind tea tasters guessed this tea may be the Ravenclaw tea (not a bad idea!). Though in many respects I can see how these mind-stimulating properties would be advantageous to such resourceful, ambitious, cunning individuals. The green tea base also provides mild caffeine and L-theanine which provide stable mental energy and are known to improve brain function. The minty green tea base plays into the clever and cunning side of Slytherin quite well.

The spices in the tea give the blend a sharp, lingering bite; it makes the tea a bit edgy and unlike any mint green tea I’ve ever tried, and I can’t help but feel it is dabbling just a bit outside the rules here… like a Moroccan Mint hiding a secret. This, too, seems to give the blend just a bit of charm. It’s a green tea that leaves just a bit of a spicy heat on the tongue. At first taste, it’s a soothing spearmint, but the aftertaste leaves a slight lingering “burn” on the tongue. I feel that the spices indicate that darker side, without needing a blatant dark flavor. In fact, it’s more sneaky this way, which I find even more fitting!

On a scale of 0-5, I’m awarding 5 points to Slytherin in this category.

Like the Hufflepuff tea, while I feel the tea embodies the qualities of the House of its namesake character well, I don’t think it embodies its namesake all that great. There are aspects of it that work, but many that just don’t quite hit the mark.

Draco is one of the most intelligent and quick-witted students around, making the mental-stimulating properties of that green tea and spearmint combination work well, but the spearmint flavor is also just a little too cool, in that soothing sort of way, for me to really associate with such a brass, arrogant character. The spices, however, do help make up for this a bit, since they leave that slight hot bite on the tongue, and if anyone has a bit of a bite to him, it’s Draco!

This is a case where I think a bit of black tea really would be appropriate; the blend just has too light of a mouthfeel for a character with dark complexities and that descent into recklessness. I think a more appropriate choice for Draco would be a nice pu-ehr, a dark, complex tea, but accented with the same spice choices that are in this blend, that hint of cinnamon and that thick clove, to give it that hot, biting edge.

There are certainly some qualities in the blend that work, but some that fall flat for me, so I give this tea three out of five points in this category.

The participants of the library blind taste test rated the Malfoy tea with scores of 3, 3, 2, and 2, for a total of 10 House points!

If any participants rated their teas with the same score (for example, gave multiple teas a rating of “3”) I asked them to rank the teas from least to greatest preference. The tea ranked as their greatest preference would then score a bonus point. This was the case for one participant (who rated two teas with a “3”) but ranked the Slytherin tea the highest, so it scores a bonus point!

Participants were also asked to guess which tea belonged to which House, after sampling all four teas. If any participants managed to guess a House correctly, it would score bonus points! One participant guessed the Slytherin tea correctly, so that’s 5 bonus points to Slytherin! (For the record, one person in the blind taste test guessed all four Houses correctly… the director of the library where I work! I was impressed! I will also note that none of my blind taste testers are tea drinkers… though they are Harry Potter fans and I appreciated them playing along!)

Here is the score:

Flavor Profile Score: 4
Representation of House Virtues: 5
Representation of Character Personality Traits: 3
Blind Taste Test Scores: 10
Bonus Points: 8

Total: 30

It was a fair try, Slytherin!

So the winner of the House Cup… OF TEA! is House Hufflepuff! Congratulations! You get… a magical imaginary awesome teacup and now everyone knows I have no life and this is the kind of shit I do in my free time. Woo!

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Menthol, Mint, Spearmint, Spicy

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML
derk

My coworker basically forced me to take house and animus quizzes on some fancy website that broke my phone. Slytherin bat.

This tea actually sounds quite good.

derk

Also, after reading all those HP-themed tea tasting novels…

Damn, woman. You are a hardcore nerd! :)

Mastress Alita

Likely the Pottermore site, it has what is typically considered the “canon” or “official” quizzes. Wild cat for my Patronus.

Fellow Slytherin! We can share robes when one of us doesn’t want to do laundry.

Mastress Alita

And I’m not even that big of a HP nerd, honestly… I didn’t even read the books until after all the movies were out because “I wanted to wait until the hype was over,” heh. You should see me with something like, say, Dr. Who, or 80s/90s anime that no one from the convention scene these days has even heard of…

Man I feel old. Old and nerdy. Siiiiiiiigh.

Roswell Strange

Hufflepuff, and I can never remember the species but patronus was a type of cat. In my heart, I’m Hufflepuff and my patronus is a jellyfish though.

Mastress Alita

I think Hufflepuff was my “runner up” House. (At least, I strongly suspect it). I was fine with the wild cat as I love cats, but if I got to choose a patronus it would’ve been a dolphin, I’m so deeply embedded in water element type things.

Lexie Aleah

Why does the Slytherin blend have to have Lemongrass in it? sad face

Mastress Alita

I didn’t even taste the lemongrass. The spearmint and clove were pretty overwhelming flavors.

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70

295/365

Another of Bird & Blend’s autumn collection, and the one I was most excited to try. Partly because chai equals autumn, but also because it sounds like an interesting combination (and one I’m sure I’ve not come across much before…if ever, now I think about it!)
Most of the usual chai suspects are present and correct – ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, chili – with the addition of cocoa shells, and (of course!) the Taiwanese milk oolong base.

I brewed my first cup as per B&B’s recommendation, and it comes out pretty light and mild. It’s deliciously creamy, and I love how that works with the chai flavours. It’s pretty much a match made in heaven. In terms of spice, I can taste mostly ginger and cardamom, plus a touch of chocolate. Nothing much else comes through, but that’s a minor criticism given that it’s delicious anyway. The milk oolong is definitely the star here, and it deservedly so.

I’m tempted to fiddle around with leaf quantity or brew time a little with future cups, just to try and bring out the chai spices a little more. If this is as good as it gets, though, then I’m happy anyway.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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78
drank Laoshan Goji Leaf by Verdant Tea
104 tasting notes

Curiosity got the better of me, as often happens.

Followed Verdant’s parameters for western: 5g, 8oz, 175F, 20s initial steep +10s following steeps. I ended up falling asleep soon after the second cup, so I can’t comment on its longevity. Will also be trying gongfu.

Looks like a Laoshan green. Smells like fruity alcohol when opening the bag: Boone’s Farm wine or wine coolers. Huffing the dry leaf in my hand, it smells just like chocolate chip cookies lightly punctuated by a red fruit. I’m guessing that’s the smell of Goji berry… Taste didn’t change between the first and second steeps. It was very different than what presented in the dry leaf. Savory vegetal with peppered summer squash and broccoli stalks, a full-mouthed mintiness, flat lemon, some sweetness and maybe… maybe those vegetables are buttered. Huh, not bad. Somewhat light-bodied and goes down easily. I’m again surprised by these Laoshan herbals. Rating following western with less leaf and gongfu.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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71

I bought this tea in 2015 during my “I need to try everything immediately” phase. Eventually, around 2020, I hope to have worked through my stash of old purchases. This was a pretty reasonably priced Jin Jun Mei, so I’m not sure how representative it is.

I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The first steep has notes of malt, honey, and Triscuits (weird, I know), with a punch of tannins and astringency in the finish. The next few steeps add notes of wood, grain, cardboard, and minerals, with an intriguing tomato vine aroma that doesn’t make it into the taste. I find this tea to be very drying in the mouth in spite of its honey-like sweetness. By steep eight, the liquor is mostly malt, tannins, and minerals.

While I enjoyed the honey and mineral notes, this tea is quite astringent if you use too much of it. It’s also rather long in the tooth. That having been said, I’ll have no trouble finishing this JJM and will consider buying another one in the future.

Flavors: Astringent, Cardboard, Grain, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Girl Meets Gaiwan

Wow, Triscuit tea is certainly a new one!

Leafhopper

I think it was the combination of grain and dryness that reminded me of Triscuits; it was only in a couple steeps. And yeah, it was weird. :)

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93

Here is another review from the incrementally shrinking backlog. I polished off a 50g pouch of these snow chrysanthemum buds back in June, but of course, I am just now reviewing them on Steepster. I had little experience with pure chrysanthemum flower tisanes prior to trying this one, but I do have to say that I found it to be tremendously enjoyable. Even if tisanes, in general, are not things I consume regularly, I would be very willing to try this one again at some point in the near future.

I prepared this tisane gongfu style. Honestly, I had no clue how to brew it, so I just went with my gut. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of snow chrysanthemum buds in 4 ounces of 212 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 19 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes. I cut this session off when I did because I was long past the point where I would have needed to use a warmer to get anything else out of this tisane.

Prior to the rinse, the dry flower buds emitted lovely, spicy chrysanthemum aromas with some herbal and vegetal hints. Oddly enough, smelling the dry buds reminded me of my time working as a vocational rehabilitation instructor at a local community health agency. I led classes at a garden center, and in late summer and early fall, my clients and I grew chrysanthemums. The area around my greenhouse used to smell like them all the time, and the smell of chrysanthemum blossoms quickly became one of my favorite smells. After the rinse, I detected more even floral aromas with some hints of black pepper. The first infusion was then slightly more peppery on the nose, but still very floral overall. In the mouth, the liquor offered delicate, peppery chrysanthemum notes with hints of vegetal and herbal characteristics that I could not quite place. Subsequent infusions retained strongly floral aromatics and remained mostly floral in the mouth. Some defined notes of dill, grass, green bell pepper, minerals, and pickle brine also appeared. Caramel sweetness and hints of black pepper then came out on the finish. There was not a ton of difference in terms of aroma or flavor in the later infusions. The chrysanthemum notes were more muted, and the notes of pickle brine, minerals, and green bell pepper were a little stronger. Impressions of caramel and black pepper were still evident on the swallow.

This was a fun and very satisfying tisane. I would imagine that fans of floral concoctions would absolutely love it. I especially appreciated its longevity. No matter how hard I tried I could not exhaust these little buds. Overall, this was definitely a quality tisane at a more than reasonable price.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Caramel, Dill, Floral, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Mineral, Spicy

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

I’m glad you wrote a review detailing your gong fu experience. I now want to try plopping a only a gram in my 60mL gaiwan to see what results.

derk

I think somebody in my family had the same, or similar job as you, except in western Ohio…

eastkyteaguy

It wouldn’t surprise me. Community health agencies in several states used to run closed workshop programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. Most were greenhouse and/or garden center-based.

derk

used to, were Does that imply they’re no longer around where you live? Sounds like it would be a beneficial community program.

eastkyteaguy

derk, a lot of agencies have been transitioning away from the closed workshop model because it does not allow for community integration. Also, due to Medicaid restrictions, individuals who worked or continue to work in such settings were/are not covered by minimum wage laws. Supported employment is the model that Kentucky is moving towards because it both guarantees fair wages and allows for community integration. In this model, individuals with disabilities are placed directly in local businesses and receive supports directly from staff as well as employment specialists. The agency I used to work for is still around and so is my old worksite, though, the program has been restructured from what I understand. I have no clue how it is run now.

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95

Here’s the last high mountain oolong sample from my Tillerman order. I was underwhelmed the first time I brewed this tea. The flavor was a little weak and it didn’t have much oomph. Slight upping the leaf to water ratio really gave it a big boost in flavor.

This tea is packed with lots of bright flowery notes. It opens with sweet pea and orange blossom before giving way to narcissus, daffodils, and a hint of vanilla. Aromas of meadow flowers, butter, and something like clover honey waft out from the gaiwan. The tea has a thick body and a creamy mouthfeel, leaving behind a nice little tingle on the tongue as it goes down.

I’ve been impressed overall by the quality of the teas I’ve had from Tillerman Tea. The bao zhong was good, and the Ali Shan and Li Shan were both stellar. Oddly enough, as a jade oolong enthusiast, it’s their “Sweet Scent” Dong Ding that I find myself craving the most.

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Honey, Narcissus, Orange Blossom, Peas, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 84 ML

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97

Received as a freebie with my order, thanks!

I have to preface this review by stating I… don’t really care for honey blacks. :$

Real-time review. I’m preparing this according to MST’s gong fu guidelines. About 4.5 g, 100mL, 195F, steeps of 30/45/60/+5-10.

MST be throwing me off. Nothing says this is roasted but that’s what I taste.

Dry leaf smells like, well, imagine Honeycomb cereal. Rinsed leaf scent is hard to pick out because it seems perfumey above all else but hiding in there is roast, wood, and a mix of citrus-red cherry-rose. The brew starts out very light in the first steep and gets successively stronger in aroma, taste and texture. It moves from light roast and sweet into a progressively darker but light-bodied liquor with notes of citrus-cherry-honey. The light roast flavor underpins it all. It’s a bright tasting tea considering it tastes roasted, with a long and brilliant citrus and honey aftertaste. The bottom of the cup is retaining a scent of honeycomb. There’s an incredible body buzz that comes with it, too. I feel like I’m puddling, spreading out, then sucking parts of myself back in. Imagine the movement of an amoeba. A grinning tea-stoned amoebaaaah.

Oof. Don’t drink this before a work meeting or a test. I can’t even finish my review.

Edit: Got 6 steeps by letting the last one sit for 5+ minutes. There’s also a very strong tangerine zest feeling throughout my whole mouth. Added a rating.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 OZ / 100 ML
brutusK

Okay well I’m glad I’m not the only one that picked up roast lol. I liked this one but I unfortunately didn’t get body feels like you did! Sounds like you should be getting more…

derk

I don’t respond well to trees in my advanced age. This is a decent and cost-effective replacement. Sorry you didn’t get the feels. I hope somebody else can corroborate my claim.

Leafhopper

If I ever order from MST, this tea will be on my list. I’m not crazy about body feels either, but I love honey/fruity black teas!

brutusK

It tasted like slightly toasted raisin cinnamon bread to me—good stuff and you should totally order some

Girl Meets Gaiwan

I have some of this on the way – unfortunately seems to be hanging around in customs for some time. Looking forward to trying.

gmathis

You had me at Honeycombs (flashbacks to 5th grade with a mountainous bowl near one hand and a book in the other)>

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drank Iced Tea by Copperkettle
6744 tasting notes

So, the last “Market Under The Stars” was on Thursday. For those who haven’t seen when I’ve written about this before, it’s a night market filled with tons of local food trucks, bakers, distilleries, restaurants, etc. that put together artisan/fancy “tasting menus” of their foods. You buy a set of tickets, and then trade the tickets in for food you want to sample. It’s a REALLY fun time!

This last market I went pretty all out, and I sampled:

- An ice cream cookie cup, which a homemade orange and pineapple icecream
- Perogies with a french onion and creamy dill sauce from my favourite foodtruck
- A cauliflower and pickelled onion taco (vegan)
- Some coconut and mango sticky rice
- A blackberry cheesecake homemade fruit popsicle
- A “Lucky Elephant” (sugared/candied popcorn) flavoured donut

And of course this, which was an “artisan” and “homemade” iced tea from a local restaurant. I wish I knew more about what was in the tea and how they made it; I really liked the taste but honestly I didn’t get much ‘tea’ flavour out of it at all. Now, if it’s a tisane that would make a lot of sense to me but if it’s supposed to be like a green/black/white/etc. tea then…? Of course I just simply can’t be sure what type of tea it was since they didn’t specify.

As far as what it did taste like, I thought that this one had pretty distinct notes of sweet apples and tart cranberries. It was also just a hint minty, but there was fresh muddled up mint leaves mixed into the tea that I was able to visibly see. Again, not bad – but just left me with some questions about what it was supposed to be.

derk

I’m gonna have to use a tea towel to clean up this Market Under the Stars drool.

Roswell Strange

It’s honestly the best! There’s only four every summer – but they’re SO FUN.. And tasty!!!

tea-sipper

Holy crap the Market Under the Stars sounds dreamy… well, mostly the food does. ha

Mastress Alita

I go absolutely crazy for food markets like that. All my vacations are more about eating than anything else, hahaha!

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94
drank Sleep Superblend by Twinings
2489 tasting notes

This is a newer blend from Twinings that I enjoyed so much I intend to buy a box.

The clove and cardamom are fabulous. The chamomile gives a sweet, dry hay taste. The apple is like dried apple chips (not green apple candy or fake apple flavour), and that works nicely with the vanilla bean and cinnamon. The clove is incredible, though. Vanilla and fragrant clove is a stellar combination. It was so good I had to resteep it a few times just because I kept drinking the entire cup. For a bagged herbal, this exceeded my expectations.

Flavors: Apple, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Dry Grass, Hay, Lemon, Spices, Sweet, warm grass, Vanilla

Preparation
Iced 3 min, 45 sec
Sil

Oh…this one sounds interesting. Will have to see if I can find it

VariaTEA

Yeah, you definitely make it sound great…alas chamomile and I are usually not friends.

Arby

I would try it anyway. I think you could drink it without liking chamomile because the spices and vanilla really hide it well. You can get the teabags individually on the twinings.co (UK) site under their pick and mix section. You have to pay a fee for shipping, but there selection is way better.

Mastress Alita

Hmm, I can usually get by on herbals that hide the chamomile in the background, and I have found Twinings relatively impressive so far for bagged tea. If I see this in my area, I’ll give it a try.

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65

There are ten teas in my cupboard. Ten teas. I feel like some sort of person on a holy fast or something like that.
Zounds. Can I remember the last time my cupboard was this small? (No).
I’ve been trying to find the perfect cupboard size, where I have options but am not overwhelmed. And this number of teas is too small, if I am honest. I feel like some sort of tea minimalist!
Fall ordering can start this weekend, and I will feel much better with a few more options.
But, this small cupboard is making me drink things that have been ignored. This got brought to the office, as the work tea, and I’d forgotten it was so nice.
I’m a little sensitive to jasmine, I can usually only work one cup of jasmine tea before I start to feel slightly ill, but as long as I stick to the one cup a day rule, this is really nice. The jasmine isn’t overpowering, and the flavor is delicate and pleasant.
And I’d been ignoring it for way too long, so I’m happy to be drinking it!
Ten teas. Eeeeeek.

tea-sipper

I loovvvveee this one. I saw their website the other day though…. it looks like their tea page is under construction so I really hope they didn’t stop selling tea.

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94

I got the Four Seasons pack from Pear Mountain, and I am enjoying all of them. However, I am going to have to constantly rewrite notes as I crank them out and backlog, and likely talk about the samples in unison.

I tried this tea out first and foremost as I gong fu brewed it. The first 20 sec steep was milky and sweet like spices and brown sugar amidst a faintly green background, and the second 15 steep was like milk soaked in cinnamon toast crunch, hitting a high sugary note that enveloped the back of my throat, and then my sinuses. The cinnamon and brown sugar notes kept going steeps 3-5, but then faded out into osmanthus ever so gradually. I got some slight stonefruit notes that I’ll have to pick a part when I drink it again, but the sugary notes and the spice accents were the most prominent.

That said, it was vegetal, but more viscous than herbacious. The vegetal notes were otherwise very faint and light like coriander since the texture dominated the steeps with the sweeter flavors. The greener notes showed up in the later steeps, developing a more citrus like edge into steep ten. It’s a tie between this tea and the snow pick so far, but I will say this is a very good Li Shan at a great price for $25 for 100 grams. I’d be interested to see how my next visit with this gem changes. I noticed a difference in the vessels for drinking the snow pick, so I’m curious what it has to offer.

derk

Since you picked up on osmanthus, I’m going to have to try an osmanthus oolong I bought before getting into my 10g pouch of this tea.

Daylon R Thomas

It was in the very last few steeps.

Togo

Nice! I just ordered the pack as well, so it’s good to hear these are tasty :)

Daylon R Thomas

Yeah, I could not resist it. $32 for a Li Shan sampler is awesome!

LuckyMe

I heard about them on IG and have a handful of samples on their way to me. I got the spring version of this tea. How do this compare to Tillerman’s Li Shan?

Daylon R Thomas

Tillerman’s Lishan has more staying power and fruit notes, so it does exceed this tea, but this one is a little closer to the Cuifeng in terms of its spicy notes. I got more flavor in the roof my mouth for this one, and more flavor on the tip of my tongue for the Cuifeng. Cuifeng also was more alpine and conifer like, whereas this was straight up levels of sweetness. I’m not sure if I have a particular preference in terms of the taste because they both had the notes that I love in Lishan, but with their own character.

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92
drank Venetian Tiramisu by Harney & Sons
585 tasting notes

This is back in my stash! I took advantage of a sale and Harney & Sons’ free shipping. Paid like $7 for this and a sample of Vanilla Comoro for blending. Awesome.

I keep opening the tin to smell it. So wonderful.

Lexie Aleah

I may just have to check it out. Is it a pretty good sale? I’ve only ordered from them once before.

ashmanra

Lexie – today they announced a 25% off sale on all their breakfast teas. I think they always have free shippjng now. I am not sure what other sales are going right now for them.

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84

Now that I have had five days off to adequately recover from my snake bite, I am getting off my lazy butt and posting a few more tea reviews. For once, I am also trying to focus on some teas that I finished more recently. I recall finishing my sample pouch of this tea back around the end of July. Although Rou Gui is almost unbelievably hit or miss for me, I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, cream, pastry, and dried blueberry. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of char, pine, smoke, and roasted peanut. The first infusion then introduced hints of ginger and Merlot grape to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted peanut, cream, cinnamon, pine, char, and smoke that were balanced by some vegetal character reminiscent of cooked green beans and hints of black cherry and tobacco. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of roasted walnut, tobacco, cooked green beans, black cherry, and blackberry. Hints of Merlot grape, ginger, and dried blueberry appeared on the palate along with stronger tobacco and black cherry notes and new impressions of minerals, grass, blackberry, roasted walnut, and cocoa. The final infusions emphasized lingering mineral, cinnamon, cream, roasted peanut, pine, and smoke notes that were chased by somewhat more fleeting grass, cooked green bean, tobacco, and black cherry flavors.

Kind of an odd, folksy tea, but also very appealing, I could see why it tea drew such positive reviews elsewhere. It displayed a very unique profile, a nice, thick body, and strong, full mouthfeel with solid longevity. Old Ways Tea features some higher end, more
refined, and more tightly focused Rou Gui in its catalog, but one could do far, far worse than giving this tea a shot.

Flavors: Blackberry, Blueberry, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Ginger, Grass, Green Beans, Mineral, Pastries, Peanut, Pine, Red Wine, Roasted, Smoke, Tobacco, Walnut

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Ubacat

Snakebite! That is scary. Were you camping? Was it poisonous?

eastkyteaguy

Ubacat, I was not camping when it happened.I was standing on my parent’s driveway (barefoot, of course) watching deer and stepped on what I thought was a small stick. Obviously, it was not a stick! Yes, it was poisonous, a copperhead of some sort. We have both the northern and southern subspecies here, but I got a good look at it, and to me, it looked like a juvenile northern copperhead.

Ubacat

Oh, I hate when they’re camouflaged. Thank goodness you’re better. I am thankful I don’t have any poisonous snakes where I live.

derk

eastkyteaguy: For a few days I thought maybe you had a script written to like every new review but I see now that you’re back in the cyber-flesh. Speaking of flesh, do copperhead bites become necrotic?

Regarding this tea, I shared a gongfu session with my dad when he visited earlier this year. My 100mL gaiwan and one pouch of tea produced roughly 8 infusions with my longer steeping times. His choice of tea doesn’t venture beyond tins of loose Earl Grey and breakfast blacks but he said he really enjoyed this Rou Gui. Based on 1 anecdotal experience (heh), I think it would be a good introduction to yancha for people with a similar palate to my dad’s.

eastkyteaguy

derk, I would have to say that I also think this would be a good introductory yancha. It struck me as being pretty heavily roasted (which is not unusual for Rou Gui), so I think it would be a good step-up oolong for black tea drinkers or those used to similar oolongs to which lighter roasts are generally applied. It would definitely let you know whether or not heavy roasts are your thing. I tried it Western too with 3g of loose tea in an 8 oz mug and got four strong infusions starting with a 3 minute steep and then going to 5, 7, and 10 minutes. It’s a very good tea, and that’s coming from someone who is pretty indifferent to Rou Gui. I tend to lean more toward DHP, Shui Xian, Shui Jin Gui, Bai Ji Guan, Qi Lan, Tie Luohan, Jin Mu Dan, and Fo Shou when it comes to Wuyi oolongs. And no, copperhead bites are not generally all that necrotic. They can be if one experiences an allergic reaction to the venom or secondary infection sets in, but to this point, I have not had any obvious necrotic lesions. The venom is a haemotoxin, disrupting blood clotting and breaking down blood vessels, red blood cells, and other soft tissues, but it’s rather weak and you generally won’t see the breaking down of bone or all that much skin and muscle tissue like you would with a rattlesnake bite.

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I can’t believe I am first to review this. This was the new Harney release I was most eager to try, and I am not disappointed. I often drink it for breakfast, but it is perfect for any time of day to me. I don’t need help waking up so I donkt require a lot of caffeine in the mornings, so white tea suits me just fine.

From the first taste, this tea has reminded me very gently of Christmas, but I can enjoy it any time of year. It is the nutmeg that makes me think of fall, cool breezes blowing the leaves around, excitement of the season changing, family and friends gathering…it is such a cozy tea. Yet I have only had it in summer! Can’t wait to have it in fall. That will be a while where I live….

Reordering when this gets low, and I am already down by half.

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