Featured & New Tasting Notes

91

Teapot time. 5g, 100mL, 195F, 10s rinse (drank) and 10 loosely timed steeps of 10/15/20/25/30/35/45s and 1/2/5m.

Unknown harvest, first ever Taiwanese tieguanyin. This was a very complex tea and I found it difficult to form an entire picture of its characteristics so in this note, I’m focusing on aromas and tastes.

Dry leaf smelled surprisingly fruity and cool given this was roasted. There were also hints of roasted peanut and dark green vegetal. Warmed leaf produced very strong aromas of roasted peanut, dark chocolate, orchid? and marine. Rinsing the leaf really opened up the profile. It was strongly pungent, something like tomato sauce, sweetened collards and roast strangely turning into plum, purple raisin, dark chocolate and a hint of pineapple. Again it changed, ending with dark-roast coffee, collards, brown sugar and more pronounced pineapple.

Because of the unfolding nature of the rinsed leaf scent, I continued to sniff the leaves every steep and found them to be consistently strong in aroma with evolutions of charcoal, wood, brown sugar, dark chocolate, pomegranate, stewed greens, roasted grains, roasted peanut, wet wheat and mango. The liquor also was very fragrant, mostly with notes of light fruitiness, chocolate, marshmallow, roasted peanut and brown sugar. It reminded me a lot of the Charcoal-Roasted Yushan aroma. The bottom of the cup smelled like brown sugar throughout. With all that said, obviously the fragrance of this tea is very engaging and a highlight for me.

Moving onto the liquor. It remained fairly consistent and strong in flavor in the first three steeps, starting with kind of an oyster-seawater-seaweed and banana leaf on the sip, turning into pine, vanilla, salt, brown sugar and peanut. The second steep saw the addition of an unripe mango aftertaste. The mouthfeel was interesting. I’ve read in numerous reviews about teas with a powdery mouthfeel and this was the first time I experienced such a texture. That and a moderate astringency lasted the entire session.

Banana leaf came in heavier on the third steep and turned into green banana, persisting until the end. I also noted a strong cooling sensation, especially felt in my ears. By the fourth steep, the marine notes faded and there were additions of molasses, coffee and minerals. As the session progressed, the prominent tastes moved around a bit, with butter and rice, unripe mango, roasted chestnut, grapefruit, bubblegum and a metallic tone. In the end, the liquor became very astringent and ended with a pronounced butter. Aftertastes ranged from strong banana leaf/green banana to fermented fruit and buttered green vegetables.

As I said before, this was a very complex tea. Even though it seems there was a weird assemblage of robust aromas and tastes, they all flowed together really well. It was strangely cool and warm, marine, fruity, starchy, vegetal, savory, and salty. All of this together made for a session that really captured my attention and focus. I’m glad this was my introduction to Taiwanese tieguanyin and I’m really looking forward to dipping into the few others I have in my collection.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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85

Another one of the samples I received from derk :)

Initially, the dry leaves have a light fruity aroma. When wet, the smell actually reminds me of some Yunnan black teas – there is definitely a strong malt note there, as well as some cocoa/chocolate. However, it is more complex with extra layers of rose and roasted like aromas.

The taste is quite herbaceous and somewhat earthy, but the finish is more on the fruity & tangy side. I also still get the malt and rose notes. The aftertaste, apart from being slightly drying and fruity, also displays noticable medicinal, spicy and nutty aspects. Overall, it is a very complex and tannic tea that I have no chance of getting to know by one session alone. I will definitely try to get more though.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Chocolate, Cocoa, Fruity, Herbaceous, Malt, Medicinal, Nutty, Roasted, Rose, Tangy, Tannic

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 7 OZ / 220 ML

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99

Additional notes: Alright, I could drink this one every day. And I probably have never said that before for any tea. It’s my new favorite tea. If you thought S&V’s Apple Cinnamon Coffeecake was delicious, this one is even MORE delicious. I just got an e-mail today from S&V that a few of their caramel and apple teas are 15% off if anyone is interested: https://www.svtea.com/FEATURED-PRODUCTS/products/144/ Raising the rating from a 97.

Also, you know it’s autumn when five of the last ten of my tasting notes were for apple or pumpkin teas.

Tabby

I’ve bought this 3 times now, haha. It’s glorious.

tea-sipper

YES it is glorious :D

Cameron B.

Agreed, this tea definitely delivers on its name. It was a little bit on the weak side for me, but next time I’ll use more leaf. ;)

tea-sipper

I love the result with a teaspoon and a half.

evol-ving

And on to my wishlist it goes—if I ever allow myself to buy more tea :)

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92

One last note before I finish off this 50g pouch in the coming days.

In addition to the southern style green beans made with ham hock, a dash of black pepper, spring grass and gardenias in the air, with longer steep times I’m pulling out a fresh yellow peach in the nose and mouth.

The impression I’m getting is a summer gathering with little girls running around in white dresses on the Georgia coastline, and a cooling marine breeze to trick you into thinking it’s not as warm as it is. Not that I’ve ever been to Georgia besides as a thoroughfare to Florida ;P

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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60
drank Mélange Ladurée by Ladurée
1215 tasting notes

Work – 11:00 AM

Hmm… This tea doesn’t taste like much, maybe it’s a bit too subtle for me. I don’t think it’s too old, the dry leaf still has plenty of aroma. And I bought their Thé Joséphine at the same time, and that one still has a lot of flavor.

I expected it to have stronger bergamot and citrus flavors. I can taste little hints of several different things – bergamot, berry, orange, cinnamon, and rose. But it’s all quite faint and a bit powdery for me. Meh.

In other news… I made a ridiculously large Bird & Blend order today. I saw on their Facebook page that the advent calendars were low stock, so I knew I couldn’t wait for them to release their holiday blends…

It ended up being almost £200 when all was said and done. With their £13 shipping once your order is over £45 (and no free shipping threshold), it seemed silly to order and not go all out.

So all out I went…

I got both advent calendars (tea & matcha), 50g of Rhubarb + Custard (because yum), 50g each of Honey I’m Comb and Milk & Honey (because they didn’t have them as 20g samples and I’m reasonably sure I’ll like them), and then a 10-pack and a 5-pack of 20g samples, and the 7-pack of store blends (20g samples).

So no more tea buying for me! I’m perfectly okay with the fact that I’ll miss out on Black Friday deals. It sounds snobbish to say, but I don’t generally worry a huge amount about price as long as its within reasonable range, so I don’t get too excited by discounts. I’m generally more tempted by limited time blends.

Flavors: Bergamot, Berries, Cinnamon, Floral, Orange, Powdered sugar, Rose

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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96
drank Cookie by Lupicia
2594 tasting notes

Thank you to Cameron B. for this sample. I’ve loving these Lupicia teas. I’ve already fallen in love with their mango oolong and muscat decaf black thanks to my last purchase, so now I’m adding some new flavours to my favourites list. I’ll be picking up some of this next time I order.

This reminds me a lot of Fiona’s coffee shop “Toffee”. I get some nutty but also sweet caramelised sugar flavour. The malty black base is lovely. I added a touch of soy milk, but I think this would have been just as creamy and decadent plain. The toffee flavour, brown sugar, and sugar cookie flavours are absolutely impressive. Next time I’m in the US, I’ll have to purchase a large tin of this blend. <3

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cheesecake, Cookie, Nutty, Toffee

Cameron B.

Definitely agree with you on the Ripe Mango Oolong. That stuff is ridiculously good… ❤

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92

This was part of my huge Tao Tea Leaf haul at the end of 2015, though I just opened the package a few months ago. Given my love of almonds, I had to add it to my order, even though I remember it being fairly expensive. (It helped that I ordered during a sale.) I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 13, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The first steep has notes of almonds, hay, tobacco, and cream, with a scratchy astringency that reminds me of almond skin. In the second steep, the roast becomes more prominent. The bulk of the sip is almonds and roast, but grapefruit and florals come out in the aftertaste. The almond gets less intense in the next couple steeps and the orchid and jasmine florals and citrus show themselves more clearly. The florals disappear around steep seven, leaving roast, nuts, minerals, and astringency until the end of the session.

To me, this tea lives up to its name, which doesn’t seem to be the case for many other almond Dan Congs. It’s a bit more astringent than I’d like, but that’s possibly my fault. Most reviewers aren’t overly impressed with it, and with my haphazard approach to brewing, I’m surprised that it consistently works out for me. I’ll definitely buy more, if only during a sale.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Grapefruit, Hay, Jasmine, Mineral, Nutty, Orchid, Roasted, Tobacco

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

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90

Alright, here comes the final review of the day. I finished a sample pouch of this tea earlier in the month, probably around the end of the first week or the start of last week. I think I may have built this one up in my head a little too much prior to trying it because it was not what I expected it to be, and as a result, I was disappointed with it at first. I think I was expecting an oolong that would revival an authentic Taiwanese baozhong, but what I got was something that fell between a lightly roasted baozhong, and surprisingly enough, a dancong oolong. In the end, I came around on this tea, but I still doubt I would regularly reach for it over a Taiwanese baozhong or any higher end Guangdong oolong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 cream, butter, custard, orchid, and orange blossom. After the rinse, I noted aromas of orange zest and pomegranate. The first infusion brought out a subtle nectarine scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, roasted almond, orchid, vanilla, and orange zest that were chased by hints of grass. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of roasted almond, pineapple, grass, seaweed, vanilla, and lotus as well as a significantly stronger pomegranate aroma. Custard, pomegranate, and orange blossom notes came out in the mouth alongside stronger impressions of grass and subtle nectarine hints. New mineral, macadamia, watercress, spinach, seaweed, pineapple, honey, and lotus impressions emerged as well. By the end of the session, I was still picking up mineral, roasted almond, cream, and butter notes that were chased by hints of grass, orange zest, and pomegranate.

A fascinating and at times elusive Southeast Asian oolong, I ended up enjoying this tea quite a bit, finding it to be an excellent product. Again, it did not remind me all that much of a traditional Taiwanese baozhong, especially in terms of mouthfeel and the way its aroma and flavor components expressed themselves. In the latter two respects, it reminded me more of a dancong oolong, and this connection was only strengthened by the presence of pomegranate, nectarine, roasted almond, and pungent floral notes as I tend to frequently find those notes in such teas. Overall, however, this was a very enjoyable oolong. It made for a pleasant break from the more traditional teas I tend to regularly drink.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Pineapple, Roasted, Seaweed, Spinach, Stonefruits, Vanilla, Vegetal

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

That was one of my favorites from What-Cha because it was so unique. I could have sworn you’ve written about it before.

eastkyteaguy

Daylon, I just checked through my notes, and I’m pretty certain this is the only time I have written about this tea. I have, however, noticed that Steepster sometimes eats reviews, so it certainly is a possibility that I wrote about it before, something like that happened, and then I forgot about it or never noticed in the first place.

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89
drank Laoshan Goji Leaf by Verdant Tea
192 tasting notes

I finished the 25g pouch between last night and this morning and realized this tisane has grown on me immensely when prepared western. It kind of hits all the marks for me as a soothing evening drink without medicinal flavors: it’s vegetal, biscuity, buttery, clean, a little peppery, tart and minty with a very light sweetness that smooths the strong vegetal tone. After letting the bag sit for a while, the scent of the dry leaf matched the aroma and taste of the liquor. 3-4 grams per 8oz seems to be the sweet spot and I can get 4 good steeps. I think I’d like to keep this around. Big ol bump.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Cameron B.

I’m intrigued. It doesn’t look like Verdant has this one at the moment, but they do have a couple of similar herbals from the same farm.

derk

I bought this a few months ago and at that time there were 4-5 other herbals available under the He Family listing. I also picked up the jujube leaf which was weirdly tasty. This tea was made in the spring, so if they continue to produce it, I hope it’s available next summer.

Cameron B.

I ordered 25g each of the two they have right now to try. ❤

derk

I look forward to your reviews. I find funny that I prefer these herbals over their Laoshan blacks and greens that get very good reviews here.

LuckyMe

Glad to hear this one is good because I have a pouch lying around that I need to try. Verdant’s herbals are really underrated. Their Wild Gan Zao Ye was amazing, tasted just like a real green tea

derk

LuckyMe, I’m curious what you’ll think about this one since it seems your preferences tend toward greens and greener oolong. Looking forward to your review.

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88

Home – 11:00 AM

Ahhh… Sunday… The laziest of days.

To me, this tea is like a combination of Yunnan, Fujian, and Taiwanese black teas. There is a smooth, slightly savory sweet potato note and thick texture from Yunnan, an interesting caraway or rye bread taste that I associate with Fujian, and then a lighter honeyed dried fruit and floral flavor from Taiwan. I would say it leans more toward a Yunnan black tea than the others, which makes since considering it is, in fact, from Yunnan.

Very tasty! I’m not sure I would order this over other teas, as I think I would rather have a characteristic tea from each region, rather than a hybrid. But it is extremely enjoyable and I will certainly have no trouble finishing the 50g packet.

I just noticed – Yunnan Sourcing has a “Taiwan Sourcing” section now? Oh boy… Now if only they offered a 25g size… ;)

Flavors: Baked Bread, Dried Fruit, Floral, Grain, Hay, Honey, Rye, Sweet Potatoes, Wheat

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Leafhopper

Taiwan Sourcing is an offshoot of Yunnan Sourcing and they do have a 25 g size! It’s definitely worth checking out, though their teas can get expensive. (Or did you know this already and my irony sensor is out of order?)

Cameron B.

You’re totally right! I just didn’t realize some of them were 25g because they’re the same price as 50g of Yunnan black tea! :O

Leafhopper

Yep, they’re not cheap. They do have some unique stuff, though.

Cameron B.

In my experience, Taiwanese black tea leaves are often very lightweight and voluminous as well. So that could be part of the price-to-weight ratio seeming higher as well.

Leafhopper

That could be, although I still use about the same amount of tea by weight so it doesn’t make a difference. :) I think Taiwanese teas are generally more expensive for some reason.

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80

Home – 9:00 PM

Trying another one from my recent Simpson & Vail order. I wanted the advent box and it seemed silly to pay $15 or whatever for shipping, so I just added a few flavored black teas to reach the free shipping threshold.

Yum, this is tasty. It reminds me of those little almond cookies with the almond on top that they have at Chinese restaurants. The main flavor is light and buttery cookie – similar to a shortbread. There’s a nice creamy almond nuttiness as well. It could also be an almond croissant or other pastry.

My only complaint is the same as the Apple Cinnamon French Toast – it’s somewhat weak, and I can’t taste the base tea at all.

I’ll have to tinker around with water temperature and steep time to find the best combination for these Simpson & Vail teas.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cookie, Creamy, Nutty, Pastries, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
derk

Would you say the almond blends in well with the flavors? Or is it a more distinct, natural nuttiness? I’m not too fond of eating straight almonds but love things like those Chinese almond cookies and almond croissants.

Cameron B.

I think it blends well, it tastes like an almondy cookie rather than just almonds. I can send you a sample if you’d like! ❤

derk

I will wait since I’m working on getting my cupboard down to a more modest size, but thank you for the offer! I will be on the lookout for this tea in the future, though.

Mastress Alita

I love those Chinese almond cookies!

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71
drank Something Different by 52teas
1767 tasting notes

I took this tea with me to work and left it there alongside some tea sachets. It’s been abnormally cold here and snowing since the beginning of September so I wanted something warm and comforting on hand. I’m not a huge fan of tulsi but I’m liking the addition of juniperberry. The fruits are very mild. Only the strawberry shows up for me. It’s not extraordinary but it does the job of keeping me hydrated at work.

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80

The leaves of this tea are quite dark for a white tea (it is supposed to be 10+ years old after all) and don’t smell very strong when dry. After the rinse, I get mostly fruity and medicinal aromas, with a strong blackberry and black currant quality. Despite the fact that I store it with sheng, the bouquet acually reminds me more of shou.

The taste has similar qualities, it is strong and well-rounded. I like the interplay of sweet & savoury, fruity & earthy flavours. I would characterize it as both robust and refreshing, which is a little unusual and very welcome. The aftertaste also displays some nutty notes, which, together with the sweetness and earthiness, remind me of ripe pu-erh again.

Mouthfeel also plays an important part in making the tea quite refreshing. It is crisp, cooling, numbing and slightly buttery.

Surprisingly, I didn’t find this Shou Mei to perform too well by simmering. Standard infusions (with near boiling water) seemed more balanced to me.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Black Currant, Blackberry, Compost, Earth, Fruity, Medicinal, Tangy

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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83

Chocolate note. Sweet roasted flavour.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 13 OZ / 375 ML

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60

229/365

Another from the Vahdam chai sampler. This one’s a green base, with cardamom, cinnamon, almond, and saffron. To taste, it’s deliciously sweet and smooth. There’s definitely lots of saffron! It’s also quite nutty, and slightly creamy in the way almond can be when it’s good. It’s mildly spicy, but there’s not much in the way of cardamom or cinnamon. This is mostly about the almond and saffron.

I like this one. It’s kind of unusual amongst the teas I drink, and I don’t feel like I’ve tried that many green-based chai blends in the past. The green tea works pretty well – it’s a little grassy, but subtle and unobtrusive. It allows the flavours to shine, and I think that’s pretty important when it comes to chai. I’m going to say that I prefer black tea as a base for chai on balance, but that’s mainly personal preference. I’ll have no problem finishing up my sample.

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

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75
drank Genmaicha by Tea n' Joy
1215 tasting notes

Home – 8:00 PM

Ahh… the weekend. Lazing about on the couch with my tea and my knitting, watching Casper.

I’m starting on knitted Christmas gifts for my family. I’ve decided this year to just knit several things that I would want to keep, then put them in one combined box to send to my mother, sister, and grandmother (who are always together for Christmas morning) and let them each choose which items they want. So I’ve just started on the first thing – a herringbone stitch hat in lovely autumnal colors. ❤

This tea is from my swap with ashmanra.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a plain ol’ genmaicha. I’m not sure why, it’s one of my favorite types of tea. This one is simple but tasty. I can’t taste the green tea much – it does have a bit of a dry autumn leaf flavor though. Mostly it’s sweet and toasty rice, which I like very much. I’m getting a bit of an oat flavor too, which makes it taste a bit like a very lightly sweetened granola.

Yummy.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Oats, Sweet, Toasted Rice

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
ashmanra

I just saw herringbone stitch and linen stitch last night on Pinterest. I am very interested in doing some tea towels in linen stitch. Herringbone is beautiful but may be above my skill level.

Cameron B.

This will be be first time doing Herringbone Stitch. It seems fairly simple, it’s basically just doing k2tog but then leaving the second stitch on the left needle, then repeat. I’ll let you know! ;)

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92
drank 2015 Pin by White2Tea
192 tasting notes

Absolutely phenomenal, hard-hitting, electrifying qi. This tea was liquid uppers, the kind of uppers that don’t have you standing there smacking your lips all night but make you fucking move (pardon me, I’m a blue collar gal). First few steeps had me precariously perching the cup in my fingertips and staring deeply into it as my eyebrows and sinuses vibrated with pleasure.

Before I knew it, I was compelled by the HAND OF DERK to put on music. Hard, electronic music. Started off with Bjork – Pluto and I became electrified, every single hair on my body stood on end and I was simultaneously cool and hothothot, sweat streaming off my scalp. URGENT, URGENT. DERK HAS TO MOVE. Played Vitalic – Stamina for what I didn’t know was going to be a warmup to a 17 minute dance-a-thon featuring the masterpiece Planisphère by Justice. Sorry downstairs neighbor, but if I have to put up with your dog barking all day, you can deal with the ceiling squeaking for 20 minutes. I know you’re home.

So, the other qualities of the tea, right? It’s actually pretty good. I got this as a freebie with my latest White2Tea order. Woot. The sample had a few decent chunks and loose leaf but also a lot of powdery bits. Probably should’ve used a strainer. The warmed leaf smelled strongly of lemon and apricot. The rinsed leaf was very choppy in form and had additions in aroma of wood, powdered sugar, florals, straw and faint smoke. Later on this moved into full on antique store, maybe one that gets a good breeze through it. No mustiness.

The liquor was fragrant and amber-gold in color. It started off light and tart, brothy and smooth with a pleasant astringency in the throat and a complementary bitterness in the back. It went down easily with tastes of minerals and lemon, moving into an apricot-lemon-cream aftertaste. By the third steep of 10s, some herbs, pine and a cooling sensation arrived, with the lemon getting stronger. Toward the end, the aftertaste turned into a light honey. I’d say the main theme of this tea is bright, tart, and lemony but also with a kind of background gravitas.

A few days ago in another review I alluded to the fact that I split with my long-term partner a few weeks ago. Earlier today, I started feeling like myself again. I can’t even put into words how much this tea amplified that feeling for me when I had this session later in the afternoon. A tea that makes me want to move and dance at this point in my life is very much welcome. I think this would be an excellent tea had moments before a strenuous workout or run, or if you just want to dance with yourself.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
__Morgana__

What a wonderful note!

derk

Hm, thanks :)

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50

328/365

Almost there with the Game of Tea fandom sampler – I’m pretty sure there’s just one more left to try after this one. This one’s a blend of Masala Chai, Almond, Tiger Eye, and Coconut. Initially, I thought it tasted a little bitter – there’s quite a lot of spice, which makes it taste pretty dry. It’s not especially fiery, but there is a pleasant background warmth. I can enjoy that in a chai. The almond is also quite prominent, although I think it might be contributing to the bitterness. This isn’t a marzipan-esque almond flavour, but more like one of those odd rare almonds that makes your lips go numb.

I can’t taste any coconut at all, although that’s not much of a surprise given all the other flavours it’s competing with. There’s not really much caramel from the Tiger Eye, either. I found this pretty average, on the whole. It mostly tastes like a regular chai, but with a little extra nuttiness and a whole lot of bitterness. There are definitely better chai blends out there, although I do appreciate this one for the fandom connection. I just wish it was more…well, dragonish!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Cameron B.

I’m currently working through their Wicked Teas sampler, and then I have Tales & Tea Leaves after that. Gotta love samplers, they’re so charming even if the tea is just “meh” most of the time! ;)

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62
drank Monster Mash by Adagio Teas
1215 tasting notes

Home – 7:00 PM

Another one from the Adagio Wicked Teas sampler!

I must say, I find the fact that this tea contains candy eyeball sprinkles to be most excellent. I’m generally not a fan of sugary or oily things in tea (like chocolate), but I feel like the cute sprinkles are half the fun with these themed teas. They are mostly for aesthetic purposes, after all! ❤

Anyone else find it weird when companies don’t specify what type of black tea? I do. This one is almost assuredly at least part Assam, it is brisk and already has some bitterness and astringency at a 3-minute steep time.

So this is a caramel and cream black tea. It’s quite decent, the caramel and cream together remind me of a light caramel sauce that you would drizzle on ice cream or apple pie. The base tea is brisk, with dark wood and molasses notes.

There’s some bitterness and astringency at the end of the sip, but it’s not unpleasant. Maybe a little more bitterness than I’d prefer, but I did let the tea cool to room temperature before drinking, so that likely exacerbated the bitter taste.

Not bad, not bad. And the eyeballs! Fantastic.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Caramel, Cream, Molasses, Sweet, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
LiberTEAS

Actually, I have contacted Adagio (several years ago, before I took over 52teas, when I was a tea reviewer) about the base that they use for their black teas, and they told me (assured me, even) that it’s a straight Ceylon base. I’m not sure which Ceylon it is, but it is the strongest Ceylon I’ve come across.

Cameron B.

Wow, they use the same base for all of them?

LiberTEAS

I don’t know if they continue to – but back when I had contacted them (again, this was probably at least 5 years ago) they told me that their black base is a Ceylon only base for all their flavored black teas. I was very surprised because the tea was quite astringent and bitter and most of the Ceylon teas that I’ve come across tend to be a little more mild than what I experienced with Adagio – and because I found it so surprising is why I remember it so vividly.

It could have changed since then.

Cameron B.

I agree, that is surprising. Perhaps it’s partially because the leaves are quite broken up.

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95

Quick note: used this in my new tumbler, and I used too many leaves for grandpa style. I brewed it western and it was impressive. I gotta say that this 2018 harvest is a major comeback considering the new notes of violet and strawberry I’ve been getting with the typical ripe green and floral ones.

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87

I’m still going through the backlog, but I’m making considerable progress in clearing it out. After I post this review, I will only have three teas left from September, and so far, I only have five teas to review from this month. It may seem sad, but I have had neither the time nor the motivation to drink much tea lately. This has been due to me kind of being on a big health kick. I’m trying to sleep more, take in fewer calories, avoid junk foods, stick to a meal schedule, and work out much more frequently. I just suddenly got sick of feeling like crap and being down on myself and realized that I needed to shake up my routine in order to improve both my body and my mind. Unfortunately, I spent the better part of the last five years settling into this netherworld of just being out of shape enough to develop a few health concerns and feel bad all the time, but not so much that I looked all that unhealthy, and I am now trying to do something about it. A lot of the time that I would have previously spent sipping tea and writing is now being spent exercising and working around my house, so the backlog is growing much more slowly than it was over the summer. Anyway, this was one of the last teas I drank in September. I only had a sample pouch of it, so I could not play around with it much, but I still found it to be a very good Wuyi black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 194 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 emitted aromas of honey, peach, and tangerine. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of malt, roasted almond, and baked bread. The first infusion introduced a buttery scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of honey, peach, and tangerine that quickly faded to reveal impressions of malt, baked bread, and roasted almond. Subsequent infusions introduced subtle aromas of cream, chocolate, orange zest, and brown sugar. New impressions of minerals, cream, chocolate, and orange zest appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging butter notes and hints of sweet potato and orchid. The final few infusions offered lingering mineral, tangerine, roasted almond, malt, and orange zest notes that were backed by hints of honey, peach, and butter.

Of the black teas I have tried from Old Ways Tea, this was neither the deepest nor the most complex, but it was a very pleasant, engaging black tea with nice texture and very respectable longevity compared to some of the other Wuyi black teas I have tried. I could see it making either a wonderful introduction to the world of Wuyi black tea or a great daily drinker for those who prefer sweet, fruity black teas. Overall, I greatly enjoyed this tea and would have no issues with recommending it to curious drinkers.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Chocolate, Citrus, Cream, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Daylon R Thomas

It was surprisingly similar to a Shan Lin Xi black for me. Considering the price, it be my go to daily drinker for a black. And I’m kinda there with you for the health kick. I’ve been grading full time and bouncing back and forth in the afternoons for subbing, so it’s been a little difficult to cram tasting notes and working out. The best way to get healthy with limited time for me has to organize or plan everything ahead with minimum goals to achieve before the larger ones. I’m personally not in bad shape, but man oh man is it easier to manage a classroom after I’ve gotten my full workout regiment in for the weak.

derk

eastkyteaguy: Good job making progress in more ways than one! I’ve been in a funk for far too long, when the sudden death of a coworker kicked off a year of losses. It’s been tough as hell and I’ve gone some dark places and let my body go more than I’m comfortable with, but I’m right there with you trying to make improvements. Gotta keep that pesky fleshbag congruent with mind and heart of the human machine. I hope the best for your endeavors.

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98
drank 2018 Arbor Red by White2Tea
316 tasting notes

“I’m not dead yet!” -me, not having posted on Steepster in the past three months

I find myself drinking a lot of Yunnan blacks lately, lots of pu and other things as well, but I think i’m probably drinking more black than anything else at the moment. I ordered a sample of this one from W2T, kind of secretly hoping that I wouldn’t like it too much since it’s a kind of pricey for Yunnan black. Unfortunately it’s excellent! Had to order a cake of this one as well as Censers.

It’s moderately bold and malty, has a fairly thick body, and tastes and aromas of good tobacco, dry herbs, leather, and sandalwood incense. A lot of complexity, holds up to a lot of infusions, and doesn’t get bitter easily. If I could “customize” or describe my “ideal” Yunnan black, this would pretty much be it!

My high view of this tea may in part because I’m partial to of the kind of flavor notes found in this tea, and it might not be for everyone, but I would say that it’s objectively a very high quality black. I’d strongly recommend it to those who like black teas, but also to fans of aged sheng and cigar/tobacco aficionados.

Flavors: Herbs, Leather, Malt, Tobacco

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
derk

Ahoy!

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86

This is my favorite of the 3 Crimson Lotus dragon balls I’ve tried so far. It has a good range in its profile. The rinsed leaf produced aromas of powdered sugar, peach, English peas and yeast. Started off savory, sweet and mineral with some bitterness in the back that lasts throughout the session. Smooth and brothy with a honeyed aftertaste. Then came an herbal addition (definite thyme) and at this point, I picked up watermelon/rind and faint basil on the lid. This was followed by buttery, fruity peach and yeasty notes, then florals and some astringency. Last steep of 7 minutes had a nice tartness. The pure sugar smell in the bottom of the cup and the strong returning sweetness that lasted the whole session were incredible. Honestly, this tea reminded me of a chardonnay in its buttery/yeasty character. The spent leaf was very chopped and tippy. Very high in caffeine, whew. The tastes make it something I want to buy more of but the caffeine would make it a rare indulgence for me.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 OZ / 100 ML

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91

A little over a week ago, I was sitting here at my desk wondering what’s a good break-up puer? A quick search through my cupboard produced this marketing gem. I dedicate this tea to the person whose addiction to alcohol rivals my own addiction to tea. As far as I’m aware, tea is much cheaper, can get me social and buzzed, doesn’t leave me hungover and doesn’t swing me from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. Nor does it make me fat, turn my eyes yellow, give me gout in the foot or an irregular heartbeat. I could keep going, oh yes, but I think you get the idea. So yeah, if you’re reading this it’s too late.

The dry leaf pries from the cake without much work using my flathead electronics screwdriver and smells excellent, soft with powdered sugar, fruitiness and young grass. Warmed leaf smells kind of medicinal like cherry, pineapple and mint. The rinsed leaf has notes of apricot, powdered sugar, red cherry, candied apple and citrus fruits. The liquor starts off fragrant with an aroma that reminds me of Christmas candles: cherry, pine and beeswax.

The liquor is nice and thick with tastes of cherry, vegetal, honey, minerals and a non-penetrating alkaline bitterness. The tea remains relatively unchanging, lightening in flavor and texture as steeps progress with metallic, medicinal and tart additions along with some moss. It picks up a little in the last few long steeps with a thick, musty honey showing up. The aftertastes range from cotton candy, red plum and faint flat spearmint to cherry-pineapple, herbs and honey butter, never very strong or long-lasting but nevertheless noticeable. At some point early on, there is a faint cooling sensation in my chest.

Unlike a lot of reviewers, I experience minimal cha qi from this tea, which makes it an excellent, slightly relaxing daily drinker for me. I also don’t experience much in the way of caffeine effects. I’m able to drink it at night and still be passed out a few hours after starting a session which doesn’t last long, maybe 12 steeps.

From what I can tell, the spent material reveals that this is not a blend. It’s getting bronzing but still looks young at the end of 2018. I’d like to put the cake under a little more humidity. As of now it’s stored in a box in the hall closet which is the most insulated area of my home. It also gets the steam from the bathroom but that’s as technical as my pu storage gets at the moment.

I bought this cake blind last year? based on reviews here at Steepster. It turns out the flavor profile is right up my alley and the honey isn’t overwhelming. I don’t experience any astringency and the bitterness stays in check. It’s pretty light in taste but I’m still able to pick out distinct notes. It’s turning out to be a good cake for the price. One that is stable in delivery and that I can count on during this grieving period, lol.

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Butter, Candied Apple, Cherry, Citrus Fruits, Cotton Candy, Fruity, Grass, Herbs, Honey, Medicinal, Metallic, Mineral, Musty, Pine, Pineapple, Pleasantly Sour, Plums, Powdered sugar, Spearmint, Vegetal

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Togo

Nice! I need to wait for my sample to acclimatize first, but I am excited to try it out soon.

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