Featured & New Tasting Notes
Here is another review from the seemingly endless backlog. I finished a 50g pouch of this tea a couple weeks ago, but I am only now getting around to reviewing it here. Prior to trying this tea, I did not have much experience with Chun Lan at all. It is not one of the more popular or common Wuyi oolong cultivars and it does not seem to attract the most favorable reviews from teaheads whose opinions regarding Wuyi teas I trust. In essence, this tea was uncharted territory for me, and I went into my review session for it with no expectations whatsoever. What happened? I ended up liking it.
Naturally, I gongfued this tea. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 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 mushroom, char, longan, black cherry, black raspberry, and cannabis. After the rinse, I found new aromas of roasted peanut and orchid. The first infusion then brought out some stronger roasted peanut and orchid aromas, but I otherwise noted nothing new. In the mouth, I found notes of char and roasted peanut on the entry that gave way to mellow notes of longan and rock sugar chased by hints of orchid. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn fruitier and simultaneously vegetal. Cannabis, black raspberry, and black cherry notes emerged in the mouth alongside new impressions of minerals, earth, blueberry, peach, candied orange peel, roasted zucchini, and some odd hints of strawberry. The final infusions emphasized lingering notes of rock sugar, minerals, bluberry, strawberry, and orchid balanced by subtler notes of roasted peanut, black raspberry, cannabis, and char.
This was kind of an odd oolong, but a very rewarding one nonetheless. I would now like to try a more recent harvest of this tea just to get an idea of how it can change from year to year. I’m not sure people just getting into Wuyi oolongs would be pleased with this one since it presents such an odd, powerful mix of aromas and flavors, but those who are more experienced with these teas should find quite a bit to like. I will therefore recommend this tea with the caveat that it probably should not be one of the first Wuyi oolongs those new to such teas should try.
Flavors: Blueberry, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Earth, Fruity, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Raspberry, Roasted, Strawberry, Sugar, Zucchini
Oh yeah, this is the business.I don’t know what it’s doing outside, but inside, it is relatively cool. Perfect for this eggnog rich green.
Sometimes, the allspice is just a teeny bit much for me—that is to say, in some sips—but usually, all here is perfect.
I continue to be bewildered to some extent that eggnog flavours work so beautifully with the butter green tea here.
It will be a sad day when I run out, but in the meantime, so much pleasure with this.
So, this was a unique experience for me!
We have a regular(ish) customer who comes in about once a month and buy a kilogram of Cardamom French Toast and a kilogram of Cream of Earl Grey. Basically, he makes his own beer – and two of the ones he makes are tea infused. One is a “London Fog” beer, and the other is a Cinnamon Toast Crunch beer (yes, like the cereal) that also has our Cardamom French Toast tea infused into it along with the cereal.
Well, last time he came in we ended up talking for a long time about his different concoctions and he invited me and a few of the other tea guides, of legal drinking age, to stop by his brewery some time to try one of the tea infused beers on him. I mean, how could I resist that!? So of course I stopped by a few days later and I got the chance to try the Cardamom French Toast beer – it’s ‘official’ name is “Surreal” which I guess is kind of a pun/play on words? I thought it was funny, though.
The beer is pretty good; I’ll be honest I’m not a huge beer person. For me, I mostly stick to a good Guinness and that’s about it – maybe an oatmeal stout from the German club every now and then? Something dark though. This definitely isn’t as dark of a beer as I’m used to drinking – I think it’s an India Pale Ale? Or maybe just a regular Pale Ale. To be honest, I wasn’t retaining a lot of the beer terminology he was throwing around. But I definitely feel like the cinnamon/spices come through in the flavour and I can definitely see how this is meant to be like a Cinnamon Toast Crunch type of flavour. It doesn’t remind me A LOT of the tea; like I certainly wouldn’t be able to identify which tea was in it without knowing beforehand – but cardamom/cinnamon and sweetness? All totally there.
Really unique experience; and now I want to go back and try the London Fog beer…
Friendly reminder that I do not numerically rate DAVIDsTEA blends as I’m currently employed there and it would be an obvious conflict of interest. Any blends you see with numerical ratings were rated prior to my employment there. These reviews are a reflection of my personal thoughts regarding the teas, and not the company’s.
I don’t know whether it is age or flavouring, but I am getting a bit of plasticky kind of imitation flavour going on here. Similar to the flavouring of On Wisconsin, which for me strikes a false note. A shame because there are lovely lilts of stone fruit sweetness here and a wee bit of tartness, but I am distracted by that thick cloying plastic overlay.
Perhaps the next cup will be better.
edit—As the cup cools way down, the plastic cream aspect almost completely disappears to be replaced with delicate peach juice flavours.
To be continued.
Today, I devoted time to shuffling and sorting teas from place to place. Since I am mostly drinking green and oolongs and herbals and tisanes these days, I decided to arrange those teas to make them more easily accessible while giving the black teas a bit of a rest backstage.
Of course, this created a surge of newly excavated and heretofore forgotten teas. Sorting teas can be a traumatic experience. Some of you might know exactly what I mean.
I think I may be finding my way around this blend. I hadn’t been taken with it before, but now I seem to be appreciating the subtleties present here more. The strawberry veers towards pineapple. The base is vegetal in a smooth hearty way. Grandpa steeping the leaves after the first two steeps produces a bit of earthiness once the flavoured layers have dissipated.
It’s a perfect day here: rain and cool airy freshness. Perfect for me and my world, especially after the past hectic week.
The difficulty is getting up and getting dressed and getting out the door. Everything hurts.
And my energy may have run out a few days ago.
Anyway, I am in bed with this delicious lemon curd pastry tea for now. Maybe I will rally.
I tried to make it last, but I polished this one off in no time. I guess it’s strawberry lemonade season?
The basil was a nice touch to this refreshingly juicy tea- it came out a little more strongly when I steeped it in hot water, as opposed to overnight steeping it in cold water, but it didn’t dominate like basil is want to do. Although, if it ever did become too much I likely wouldn’t have noticed since cooking with basil is a current trend at this house (may the little herb growing in garden survive a month longer and grow some new, less chewed, leaves).
Anyways, this one was neat. Would order again.
Flavors: Citrus Fruits, Herbs, Strawberry, Vegetal
I attended a small group writing workshop yesterday and one of the warm up exercises was to write a list called People who suffer. When we shared our pieces, the unanimous perspective was that all people suffer, though in various different ways. No one escapes.
There’s that Buddhist parable of the Second Arrow. The various types of pain that life brings are inescapable. It’s a fact that people get sick, suffer mild annoyances and big losses, and die. The second arrow is suffering we inflict on ourselves as we deal with the
hardships that life brings, so essentially we stab ourselves with various negative thoughts about ourselves and our situation as we try to cope. However, the fact of the particular hardship remains the same. The pain that life brings is a fact whereas the suffering we inflict around that is optional.
These are my early morning mullings after having been woken by baby next door at 3 and then 4 and then 6. And now as I write this, her older brother is racing like a dervish, his footsteps thudding and echoing through the walls and throughout the space.
I wonder whether my cursing this loud, noisy, and profoundly inconsiderate family—ongoing issues, not just the children— is the second arrow and what, aside from moving, I could be doing differently.
Somehow this was to segue seamlessly to the description of this fine cup of tea. The transition eludes me. This cup, however, is delicious.
The citrus is bright, both flesh and rind. The spices are subtle enough to not hijack the rest of the flavours. The base is a bit creamy.
Day 10 of the no caffeine after 3 project. We’ll see how it goes today. I still have 40 minutes to drink what I have steeped up of this.
I like the earthiness of the gunpowder used here plus the sunflower seeds. Today, two cherries landed in my spoon of leaf, but they are not coming through as clearly as I’d like: a mere suggestion, if that. Still a lovely cup of tea. But not quite reliably true to the name most of the time.
That said, I can see the difficulty in getting this right because given the size and weight of the cherries, you’d still want to have a good amount of tea leaf and additions in the blend.
I would still buy this again as it is an enjoyable cup. It has certainly given me more of an appreciation for gunpowder tea than I had before.
So, if you’ve ever taken the Pottermore house sorting quiz you probably remember the question that asks which potion you’d want to drink – one of the options is a potion with the aroma of chocolate and plums, or something to that effect anyway. I think this tea tastes exactly like what I’ve always envisioned that ‘potion’ to taste like. It’s incredibly satisfying in a fandom-y sort of way, and the tea itself also tastes delicious! So, huge win!
Flavors: Chocolate, Plums
Day eight of not drinking caffeine after three. Nope, not working out all that well. I may stop drinking caffeine at about five which is still far better than my previous seven or eight o’clock. Baby steps.
Shopping in my stash and came across this delight.
The plan is to get out for a brief or long walk, depending on my health that day, first thing. And so I did, with this with me. And then, I spilled half the carry mug in my bag—-boo!
Bright pineapple and sweet mango. Possibly a wee bit of tartness from the strawberry. The oolong comes through all floral and lovely. Another winner.
One thing I really appreciate about 52Teas blends is the range of flavours, without a pattern of sweetening things to death like some other blenders. This mix is sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. The flavours come through as natural, with the tea base peeking through. A good balance, yet again.
Eastteaguy, you own this too?
Anyway, I was fairly impressed with this batch. I saw oolongowl’s earlier review of a Red Peony on Floating Leaves, and when I saw the price tag, I opted out of it. But when I saw one on What-Cha, I knew I had to try it.
The leafs with this one are very delicate and thin, so I had to opt with a French press. However, the flavor is a little bit sneaky because it can become robust after a while, so I have to use less leaves and or shorter steeps for my preferences.
The dry leaf smell like hay and fresh linens hanging in the sun. Tasting it, it is smooth, clean, and lightly cantaloupe sweet with the cooling menthol taste that Alistair describes, and that is expected with the #18 Red Jade varietal. It is a little creamier gong fu, but pretty much the same overall. It also has some fresh cotton notes in the taste, but the liquid is a light yellow like a high mountain oolong without being nearly as grassy. This is not a delicate white tea, however, and the klondike menthol is not to be underestimated. It can get drying like a white Darjeeling, but not too try to take away from the other notes. That’s why I need this tea to cool off sometimes.
I could get seven steeps minimum from gong fu, and the menthol notes would get higher…if that makes sense. A honeysuckle floral would pop up, and the fruity notes spread out. I’m actually getting something that reminds me of cinnamon butter as a hint. I am going to have to write more about this one because I can get a little overwhelmed by the later steeps…a little bit of a buzz. Cha qi, caffiene, or menthol? Or I just need to let my cup cool down.
Well, I do recommend this one. No idea how to rate it. I personally would not drink this one often because it does overwhelm me a little bit. It does merit a rating in the 90’s although I’m personally taking my time to savor this one. It deserves some special attention. I also need to try it out grandpa or in a tumbler before I make a decision.
my supply of this is dwindling fast…not happy. Work has been insane this week – which i think is pretty good since it’ll have been the first time since i started the new job almost a year ago. So i can hardly complain about 1 crazy week. The down side is that my husband has also been in craziness this week so the poor doggo is just like WHY WON’T YOU PLAY WITH ME MORE! I’m hoping this weekend we can take her on at least a couple really great adventures. :) Need to keep an eye out for the next YS black tea sale though or i’m going to be a GRUMPY girl…
Hooray for another pear tea!
I was actually surprised that this one wasn’t more spiced; definitely a stronger pear than spice taste overall in my opinion. I mean, definitely still had notes of cinnamon, allspice, and ginger but the pear was so bright, sweet and juicy that I hardly noticed them. Instead I just enjoyed that yummy aspect of the profile. One of those very rare green teas AND chai teas that I am completely on board with/have zero qualms about.
Though, worth throwing out there that even though I LOVED this one I did make one weird observation – alongside those juicy, sweet pear notes there was almost this creeping, undertone note of under ripe banana!? It was weird, but tasty!
Is anyone else obsessed with the new Harry Potter Mystery game for the phone?
I’ve spent the last week totally engrossed in this game and the story line; it feels like in a way I’m finally living our my childhood dream of going to Hogwarts. I really only get the chance to play on break and on the bus ride to and from work so I’m still struggling to make it past my first year – but it’s been a blast!
Thematically, I thought it was appropriate to pull out one of Harry Potter teas to enjoy on the bus ride to work. Though, I didn’t pick Slytherin for my house – I went for Hufflepuff. That’s what Pottermore says I am, and what I feel like I am. I do always score like one point away from Slytherin every time though. Anyway! This tea was good; sweet pistachio pudding notes accented by candied cherry and soft lemon undertones – a little bit malty from the black base tea. It felt like something that would fit into the Harry Potter Universe – like, maybe some sort of festive Christmas pudding sort of thing with a magical history/background. Maybe.
Also, Merula is a bitch.
I went to see one of my Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners the other day— possibly the same one who suggested that I stop drinking tea altogether. Clearly, my response to that suggestion was nope, not going to happen.
This visit was about a new issue. The suggestion this time was to stop drinking caffeine at or before three. As opposed to approximately seven. Ok, not ideal but possibly do-able. At least as a health experiment. For a limited period of time. Just to see what will happen.
With this in mind, I’ve been slowly beginning to wrap my head around the concept while hunting a few non-caffeinated options down for the moment that I am psychologically prepared to follow these instructions. The moment arrived.
This tea is delicious. My spoon of leaf contained about three cranberries and that dense cranberry flavour permeated each sip. I steeped low and slow to escape the rooibos woodiness and that worked out nicely. The cranberry shines with a slight bit of citrus flavouring the tartness. The apple sweetens and softens the sip. And the gently cinnamon spiced honeybush and rooibos trails behind suggestive of sweet crumble pastry. Beautiful.
If I have to relax with the caffeine from three o’clock onwards, blends like this are going to make this challenging project a lot easier.
Breaking open a new entry into project lapsang sipdown. This will give me a nice variety of three to choose from in the coming months. I expect this project to last through the end of the year, given that I don’t drink black tea except on weekends and holidays and I mostly have a single large cup threshold per day when it comes to lapsang.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing how Mariage Freres does lapsang. And indeed, it’s an interesting contrast to some of the others I’ve tasted recently.
The tea in the tin smells more spicy than smoky. Peppery, really. Which is fascinating.
After steeping, the smell is still not smoky. It’s got a sweetness to it, like a sugary spice bread. I want to say gingerbread, but it isn’t really that. Maybe a spicy banana bread? Weird, I know. The tea is a coppery amber color, a little darker than medium for a black tea. There’s a bit of a haze to the liquor, but it’s translucent.
The flavor is where the smoke is the most noticeable, but as I would have expected from a French tea, it’s not overpowering. It’s a sort of a light smokiness that integrates into the tea in a way that isn’t pasted on. This one doesn’t have the sweetness of some others, not even in the finish or aftertaste. Nor does it scream woodiness, though there is a bit of wood flavor.
My recent lapsangs have all been pleasing to me for their lack of ash, meat, or resin flavors, and this fits that description as well.
I keep harking back to the Kusmi lapsang which has a sweetness I liked in the flavor, and I decided to bump that one up a bit in ratings.
This one is different from the Kusmi in its flavor, but I can taste the quality if you know what I mean. So I’m rating it the same.
Flavors: Baked Bread, banana, Pepper, Smoke, Spicy, Wood
“Banana Cream Pie without the pie crust” lives up to expectations. Good times.
Steep Count: 2
Due to the nature of the bai mu dan and my brain, I taste something kind of like a blueberry milkshake on the second steep. The banana has toned it back a little from the first steep, letting the tea base (fruity flowers) and vanilla cream flavouring shine (hence blueberries and milkshake).
Flavors: banana, Cream, Custard, Fruit Tree Flowers, Vanilla
Oh WOW. I know what this blend should have been called…. Banana. Cream. Pie. I’m a huge fan of banana cream pie and this smells like liquefied banana cream pie right from the pouch. The flavor tastes just like banana cream pie as well. Just sweet creamy banana. And NATURAL banana. Not some weird gross fakey banana. The huge white tea leaves from the combination of Moonlight White and Bai Mu Dan offer quite a nice base for this awesome flavor. I was worried the second steep would be weak in flavor, but not at all! I must have steeped it perfectly. It is amazing that a white tea, that I usually find to be fuzzy, can actually be this creamy. The second steep might be even creamier and banana than the last. I’m a huge fan of this tea! I would not have expected this tea to be so tasty, but I guess that is the magic of FRESH tea.
Steep #1 // a bunch of big leaves for a full mug// 23 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 15 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
I’m bringing the rating up on this one, because after getting to play around with this tea a bit, I’ve found a way to prepare it that works much better to bring out a sweeter profile rather than the initial extremely spicy one. The tea is no longer burning my mouth off and I have to say… I’m kind of digging this creamy golden latte.
While infusing directly in milk (from everything I’ve heard) usually isn’t advised, that’s basically what I did! One use of this stuff stained my gravity well infuser yellow, and it was extremely hard to dispense because it left a thick sludge on the mesh so the water couldn’t escape, so I was trying to think of ways I could make the tea that wouldn’t require the infuser. That meant using a teapot and pouring the tea through a strainer, or — since I wanted a latte anyway — I thought of simply making it the way I make cocoa, and putting the tea (which is mostly powder with ground spices and coconut) into my milk frother and letting it whip it up directly into the coconut milk while it heated the milk. Nothing gained without trying, right?
This time, I used one teaspoon of the chai, one cup of coconut milk, and a small dash of vanilla coconut creamer for an extra dash of sweetness. I leave the frothing attachment off my milk frother so it just stirs the ingredients and heats the milk, and I ran two cycles, so it was heating for about five minutes. At the end, it looked like a very creamy orange conconction! I put my strainer over my cup as I poured the milk in, and other than tiny bits of lemongrass making it into the cup (they actually looked like a garnish on the top) all the tea was filtered out and easily disposed. And the chai was now very sweet, without that extremely hot burning ginger aftertaste! Very smooth and creamy, some nice turmeric notes and some hints of spice, but overall a sweeter profile based more on the coconut in the blend. This is the way to go with this tea if you are spice-sensitive like me.
Flavors: Citrus, Coconut, Ginger, Orange, Pepper, Spicy, Sweet