Featured & New Tasting Notes

95
drank Cocadas by A Quarter to Tea
6488 tasting notes

Not totally sure what “Cocadas” are, but I do know that this tea smells WICKED GOOD and 100% reminds me of really lovely, creamy and rich chocolate macaroons. In terms of taste, this is dessert tea done right! Sweet and smooth, and rich without being cloying. It’s got good milk chocolate notes, buttery toasted coconut, hints of caramel, malt, and molasses. Reminds me strongly of DT’s Chocolate Macaroon tea were it more refined and well balanced. I can see this becoming a major comfort tea, and one hell of a latte.

Thanks for the share VariaTEA – I REALLY enjoyed this one.

eastkyteaguy

Cocadas are coconut pastries popular in the Caribbean, Central American, and South American countries. They’re kind of like macaroons.

Daylon R Thomas

Oddly enough, the first time I had something like one was in Hawaii. The lady who made them used tarot in one and guava in the other for flavor. They were awesome. The ones I’ve had since then….eh.

eastkyteaguy

I’m still trying to get used to taro. There’s a place pretty close to my home that makes bubble and milk teas. I tried a taro milk tea recently. It was not my thing.

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The first thing I noticed when opening the 25g sample pouch was a fairly pungent aroma that immediately reminded me of mesquite wood. I’m not a huge fan of barbecue-esque smokey teas, so I was a bit taken aback. My other experiences with Bang Dong have been noticeably sweet, and this was at the other end of the spectrum – burly and savory.

It does carry over into the flavor of the tea, although it is much more muted. Overall, it is a savory pu’erh, whose primary flavors are mesquite wood and mushroom broth. Its sweetness comes from hints of horehound or sassafras and some sweet tobacco notes in the finish.

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drank Random Steepings by Various Artists
2029 tasting notes

There’s tired, then there’s VBS tired. The kind of tired from hiking a mile upstairs each way from crafts to rec to music, which has choreography that would wear out a World of Dance contestant, and three more miles in additional back-and-forth trips for restroom escorts and “please, may I have some more to drink?” Oh, and did I mention rec is outside today? It’s going to be 95 with rain forest humidity.

Wouldn’t give it up for the world on a plate.

But, as I will be dragging anchor when I get home, I have a treat in the fridge: steeped a jar of good-quality spring-pickin’s green tea a friend brought home from China. Tossed in 3 fresh cucumber slices (courtesy of my sweet student VBS helper) and and a filter bag of dried honeysuckle; let it chill overnight. My first taste was tasty; I’m sure it’ll be more so with my feet up and my eyes closed and the blinds drawn later today.

(Hoping this is the beginning of a new respect for lowly cucumbers—my childhood memories are still tainted by the smell of Mom’s ice cream tub of cucumbers and onions in vinegar that was perpetually in the fridge three months of the year.)

Maddy Barone

VBS!!! I remember teaching VBS and running the arts and crafts section. Good memories, but ugh. hot!

mrmopar

I still do that cucumber and onions in the vinegar thing. VBS, an investment in the future. Got my copy of the good book in 74 and still have it today. Albeit a little worn and the back coming off. My mother wrote in it and she passed two years after I got it. It is a treasured thing.

gmathis

“Investment in the future” comment makes me smile: I’m (ahem, cough) dating myself a little, but nothing makes my buttons bust more than seeing the kids I taught in grade school turning into leaders themselves. I’m blessed to have had a teeny part in that.

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80

240/365

Bird & Blend describe this one as the strongest breakfast blend in their range, but I’m finding it suits my morning tastes pretty much perfectly. I wouldn’t say it’s really strong, but it’s certainly satisfying – pretty bold, malty, and excellent with milk. It reminds me a little of their Great British Cuppa, in that it has a kind of baked white potato flavour kicking around in the background. In fact, the only difference I can see is that this one’s a CTC, and that one wasn’t. Not usually a go-to for me, but it gets points for speed and convenience. I really wanted my tea this morning!

This one came as a sample with my last Bird & Blend order, but it’s one I’d consider buying in future. They certainly know how to do a good breakfast tea!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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85

Alright, let’s get another review out of the way before I get back to work. This was another of the What-Cha samples that I finished last month. I seem to recall working my way through this one around the start of the third week in June. I was on something of a mini green tea kick for several days around that time, so I am pretty sure that’s when I drank this tea. To be honest, I am not the hugest fan of jasmine green teas, but found this one to be rock solid. It was a pleasantly fragrant tea with admirable balance in the mouth.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled leaf and bud sets in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry phoenix eyes emitted a strong jasmine aroma underscored by a subtle grassy scent. After the rinse, the strong jasmine aroma was still present, but there was a little more of an underlying grassy scent and a new hint of cucumber. The first infusion saw the jasmine mellow a tad and a hint of zucchini emerge. In the mouth, I found notes of jasmine, grass, cucumber, and zucchini. There was a hint of umami there too. Subsequent infusions saw cream, butter, and umami appear on the nose. New impressions of cream, butter, hay, spinach, minerals, and sugarcane emerged in the mouth and were chased by subtle impressions of asparagus and apricot on the swallow. The final infusions offered lingering mineral, butter, and umami notes balanced by subtler impressions of jasmine, grass, and zucchini.

This was not the deepest or most complex jasmine green tea in the world, but it was very drinkable and pleasant. I appreciated the fact that the jasmine was neither consistently overpowering nor artificial. Overall, this was a very nice tea. If you are a fan of jasmine green teas, you will probably find a lot to enjoy about this one.

Flavors: Apricot, Asparagus, Butter, Cream, Cucumber, Grass, Hay, Jasmine, Mineral, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Zucchini

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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60
drank Gingernut Chai by T2
2058 tasting notes

239/365

This is the last of the T2 samples I have in my cupboard, and since it needs milk and I’m not at work, it made sense to finally get around to it. It’s inspired by gingernut biscuits, which I quite like, so I have high hopes for this one!

In practice, it’s maybe not quite what I expected. Gingernut biscuits, to me, are a relatively sweet thing, and I know T2 can do sweet flavoured teas pretty well. This blend is much more on the savoury side of things; less gingernut, and more chai. There’s plenty of cardamon and clove (which I enjoy) plus a hefty kick of ginger (which I’m not so keen on). I can also taste orange, which I wasn’t expecting; there’s a little juciness, but it’s more pithy than fruity on the whole. As it cools, I can detect a little liquorice root – not enough to be obnoxious, but a little all the same. It feels fairly redundant, really, since for the most part it’s drowned out by the spices.

This isn’t one I’m particularly keen on, so I’m not too sad that it was limited edition. Most of the samples I tried lived up to their names pretty well, but this one fell a bit short. It’s not bad as a chai blend, but I was expecting something more.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec 1 tsp

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88

A VariaTEA share.

I haven’t actually looked at what’s in this blend at all, but I thought it tasted really strongly of coconut and marshmallows while not being overly sweet either. I have a hunch that this is probably only available around Christmas though, just based on the name, so I wont let myself get too attached for the moment. I thought it was really good, though! It’s rare that a tea so distinctly tastes like marshmallow.

tea-sipper

YEP coconut, marshmallow, chocolate. I JUST read an e-mail from B&B and they mentioned a Christmas in July sale….

Scheherazade

There were Christmas blends in their subscription box this month, which I totally didn’t get until you said that. Just the usual Christmas Cake and Mulled Wine, though. I hope they have Jack Frost or White Christmas…

tea-sipper

haha, yeah that would be a bit weird to get a box of Christmas teas in July!

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drank Chen Pi by Ebay Grand Gift
659 tasting notes

Sorry I’ve been silent lately: My mom passed away recently. I’ll be OK, I hope to get back into doing my reviews soon
--

Enjoying some chen Pi. Yummy gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Basically this herbal tea is dried and aged orange peel tea.

Nice citrusy orange taste. Leather, sweet, warm cha qi. They say this tea is good for cleansing the liver, stomach and lungs. Also helps with bodily qi. I’m not sure what it means by “when there is heat” to use caution. But I don’t drink this on a daily basis. But if you have a cold or lung infection, I hear this tea helps get rid of any phlegm. Has some good essential oils and vitaminC too.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BknM28dniYQ/?taken-by=kirkoneill1988
https://www.instagram.com/p/BknM5nkHPH1/?taken-by=kirkoneill1988
https://www.instagram.com/p/BknM7m8nRHF/?taken-by=kirkoneill1988

Can be found on eBay. Also on eBay by grand_gift. Or the following link.

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.ca%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F261843113186

eastkyteaguy

I’m sorry for your loss.

Arby

I’m so sorry for your loss. Take all the time you need, don’t worry yourself with posting/obligations unless you want to.

Kirkoneill1988

Many thanks East Key Tea Guy and Arby. your intentions are greatly appreciated

Kirkoneill1988

Arby tbh, I’ve slowed down to one review every other week or so as I have other things I like to do. No worries, I still consume tea regularly almost every day. Lol maybe too much lol!

mrmopar

Sorry about your loss Kirk. Just take time for yourself.

Kirkoneill1988

Thanks Mrmopar! yeah i think ill do a review every other week

LuckyMe

My condolences for your loss

Kirkoneill1988

Many thanks LuckyMe

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65

Golden Monkey is the tea that awakened me to black tea after avoiding it for most of my life. The YS 2016 version was marvelous. Last year’s version was also good, though not as sweet. So this year I decided to upgrade to the Imperial grade stuff to see if was really worth it. Well after gongfuing around with this tea, I can say this is totally different from the standard grade version and not in a good way.

This tea resembles keemun in appearance with its dark curly leaf. There’s fewer gold-tipped leaves here than the regular grade version. On the nose, I get an almost pungent aroma of dried fruit, smoke, and malt. The tea brews to a nice reddish amber. The taste though was far removed from any other golden monkey tea I’ve ever had. It has a very basic black tea, dare I say Lipton-like flavor. I didn’t get any of the deep caramel and molasses notes I love. There was no sweetness or real nuance to it at all. Subsequent steeps tasted the same.

I’m still scratching my head at this tea. It wasn’t bad or anything, just flat and kind of boring. Maybe this was an off year or something, but it’s hard to believe this is golden monkey tea let alone the high grade stuff.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
eastkyteaguy

Thus far, this has not been one of my favorites either, but you might want to try lowering the water temperature. I’m going to try the same thing and see if that helps.

Mastress Alita

I love Golden Monkey tea too. I have a hard time imagining “Golden Monkey” and “Lipton” in the same sentence. That poor tea…

apefuzz

Wow, good to know. It’s a shame to hear your experience. I’ve noticed a few reviews of 2018 teas now that are noting less-than-stellar experiences…

LuckyMe

Thanks for the tip on water temperature. I’ll give that a try and also try to western steep it. Not all tea do well gongfued.

@Mastress Alita, hehe I may have been a tad harsh there with the L-word. Golden monkey is one of my favorites, but sadly this one failed to rise above meh for me.

eastkyteaguy

I think Yunnan Sourcing normally recommends a temperature around 194 F for all of their black teas. I’ve noticed that a lot of their black teas, especially the imperial grade teas, can be a little fussy about temperature, so I tend to stick with temperatures ranging from 194-205 F and usually get good results. The teas sourced this year have been weird though, either being almost identical to last year or totally different.

LuckyMe

My usual gongfu method for blacks is 30s at boiling followed by flash steeps. It seems to work for most but is probably not ideal for the more refined teas.

My experience with this year’s YS teas is along the lines of what you described. Two of the 3 teas I’ve tried so far tasted totally different from past harvests. I wonder if they switched suppliers/farmers this year.

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70

Sipdown (650)!

Finished this one off as an iced tea, in my tea press.

I was very curious about this blend; it’s a green tea which isn’t usually my jam but the pineapple mint pairings sounded really intriguing to me. I like the idea of smashing really contrasting flavours together – and sweet, tangy pineapple and cooling mint are a pretty big juxtaposition. I was hoping for some sort of “mojito” like effect though! That’s also basically what I got in practice – though neither pineapple nor mint were especially bold or flavourful. In fact, the overall profile of the tea was somewhat mellow and medium bodied. Still, juicy sweetness at the top of the sip and more of a crispness/cooling effect in the finish. Also some hibby notes, and a bit of an apple quality.

Couldn’t taste the green tea at all – which is a big win. Thanks for the share VariaTEA!

VariaTEA

This one isn’t the green tea, I don’t think. This is just a tisane. Pineapple Sorbet (which I forgot to send you) is the green tea.

Roswell Strange

Oops – you’re totally correct! I guess that explains why it didn’t taste like green tea even a little bit, lol!

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83
drank Candied Pear by 52teas
2493 tasting notes

My actual “cupboard” and I are on shaky ground today, as I found this and it WASN’T EVEN IN MY STEEPSTER CUPBOARD… or even in my list of teas. I don’t think this has ever happened before. Poor little tea! I do at least remember where it came from, since it was stored with the teas from M Mack. Thanks for the sale, M Mack!
Anyway, the name of this tea is extremely accurate. Right away I’m tasting an authentic pear, but it also has a very sweet flavor like the ‘candy’ in the name. The white tea is perfect with it. On the second steep, the earthiness from the white tea is there in the cup more than the first. And the pear candy is more in the background. This is probably because I steeped it too long and too hot, but that’s my fault, not the tea. The first steep was perfect! Mugs really make a tea sometimes, and I was enjoying it today in my gorgeous Simpson and Vail dragon mug: http://www.svtea.com/Midnight-Blue-Dragon-Tea-Infuser-Mug/productinfo/A1956/
Steep #1 // 30 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 16 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep

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Sipdown (653)!

I actually finished this one off WEEKS ago but the Steepster page for it was doing that weird mobile view chache-ing error/glitch so I couldn’t log the sipdown. My cupboard still isn’t TOTALLY accurate because there are teas I need to add to it but can’t because of that same glitch…

This was a nice cup though, just like all the others I had of it. Smooth and a little more supple/soft but a nice sweet and airy raspberry flavour with some much more subtle blackberry undertones. Still REALLY reminds me of raspberry flavour cotton candy/fairy floss but can’t place 100% why. Possibly the use of green rooibos, which I associate with DT’s Cotton Candy a little bit because I’ve been drinking a decent amount of that lately…

Shrug.

Mastress Alita

That glitch has been driving me crazy too. I’ve also had reviews before just sitting on my review NoteTab file for weeks, waiting for the page to uncache so I could actually copy/paste it off my NoteTab onto Steepster. When I reported the pages, I was told by Jason that they can’t refresh the caches and we have to just keep waiting… I really wish they’d fix that bug, it’s a real nuisance.

Lexie Aleah

It really is. I also sometimes like to look at prep times that other people used in their reviews and it prevents you from see basically anything or doing anything on that page.

tea-sipper

Yeah, it’s been annoying me too! I’ve been running into it a couple times. This is especially harsh for my beloved Bird & Blend Jelly & ice Cream.

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80

230/365

I made this one up as a “UV Unicorn” today, using Bird & Blend’s recipe. It’s 1/2 tsp of Ultra Violet matcha, mixed with 150ml of Blue Raspberry and poured over ice. I topped mine off with sparkling water. I wasn’t sure whether I liked it at first. It’s very green, both from the matcha and the Blue Raspberry’s sencha base, and typically cold matcha isn’t my thing anyway. It grew on me after a few sips, though.

The matcha provides the bulk of the flavour, and while it’s floral, it’s that unique kind of fragrant-candy kind of floral that violet has. If you’re familiar with parma violets, you’ll probably know what I mean. It tastes like those, only with an edge of something I recognise from other Bird & Blend matchas. I adds additional sweetness and is kind of mapley, and so I’m pretty sure it’s the carob.

The Blue Raspberry doesn’t have a lot of impact on the flavour. There’s a light raspberry flavour in the background (not so noticeably sour, this time!), and a faint hint of butterfly pea. Mostly, though, it’s violets and grass.

I almost like it. I don’t think I’d rush to make this particular recipe again, although there’s nothing intrinsically bad about it. I actually think it’s a pairing that’s well thought out – both teas have floral elements, the sourness of the raspberry is balanced out by the candy-like sweetness of the violet, and they both have green bases so everything hangs together around that central similarity. It’s maybe a bit over green for my tastes, but I can still appreciate it. I definitely want to try this matcha as a latte, though (maybe even an iced latte…), since the thought of liquid parma violet is really quite appealing…

I like that Bird & Blend are becoming more experimental with their matcha flavours. Ultra Violet is part of this year’s spring/summer Curious Matcha collection, and I’m looking forward to trying the others on the strength of this one.

tea-sipper

Sounds scrumptious!

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75

228/365

Back to my (diminishing) stash of SBTs! This one called to me most of those left, being the only fruity option. Something about hot weather requires berry tea, I suppose, or at least it does in my estimation. I gave this one the usual treatment, except that I let the water cool for a while first until it was around 180. I always worry that these will turn out bitter, but somehow they never do. I took the bag out after 2.5 minutes, but I could probably have steeped it a bit longer and it would still have been okay.

In flavour terms, it’s your standard mixed berry. It reminds me a little of 52Teas Razzleberry, although maybe a bit less sweet. It’s hard to pick out specific flavours since it’s kind of generic “berry” and a bit muddled for all that, but I’d probably go with raspberry, blackberry, and maybe blueberry. The green base is pleasant – smooth and not too grassy. I’m sure it would have worked equally well on the black base SBT originally used, but a change is no bad thing. It’s pleasant and refreshing, and makes for a solidly pleasing iced tea.

I should probably add that I feel disposed to be positive about everything today, since I found out yesterday afternoon that I have a new job!. The pay and terms are only a little better than those I have now, but the real satisfaction for me is that I’ll be leaving a job and company I’ve come to abhor, and my new job (while fairly boring) sounds like a whole lot less hassle. When I list the things I won’t have to do/put up with anymore, it’s more than worthwhile. It honestly feels like 10 tons have been taken off my shoulders, and I am so looking forward to making a fresh start.

Preparation
Iced 2 min, 30 sec
Arby

Congrats on the new job!

ashmanra

Hooray!

Sil

That’s great news! Well worth it, if only for your happiness :)

tea-sipper

Congrats on the new job!

__Morgana__

Congrats!

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I am drinking 2017 Impression very young, with it being released just a few months ago. It is balanced, yet bitter, pungent, and astringent with a nice kick of tea energy. There are notes of stone fruit but mostly bitter bitter bitter. It does taste great in silver, bringing out the fruity floral and numbing the bitter. Overall a great price and a tea you should stash to age or drinking in silver.

Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2017-impression-sheng-puer-from-yunnan-sourcing/

Preparation
Boiling 1 g 1 OZ / 15 ML

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92

Going into the posting of this review, not only did I need to take a break from reviewing black teas, but I also needed to make additional progress on clearing out the backlog. Due to these two factors, I decided to move ahead in my review notebook and complete a Steepster review for this oolong. I finished a sample pouch of this tea back around the end of May or the start of June. Naturally, I did not date the notes from my review session, so I cannot pinpoint a more precise date. I suppose I’m kind of a veteran when it comes to reviewing jade Tieguanyin oolongs at this point since I have tried a fair number of them over the years. That being said, this struck me as being an excellent example of a jade Tieguanyin. The mouthfeel of the tea liquor was rich and thick, and the tea’s floral, fruity, savory, and vegetal qualities were very admirably balanced.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 butter, lilac, violet, and sweetgrass. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of saffron, cream, honeysuckle, parsley, watercress, and cinnamon. The first infusion then brought out aromas of baked bread and vanilla. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, sweetgrass, watercress and parsley that were quickly chased by saffron, cinnamon, and vanilla hints on the swallow. I even thought I detected a hint or two of osmanthus accompanying them. Subsequent infusions saw baked bread, lilac, violet, and honeysuckle notes somewhat belatedly emerge in the mouth. The nose became a bit more vegetal and buttery on many of these infusions, as impressions of sesame and roasted barley appeared. I also noted some subtle impressions of pear, apricot, and tangerine on the nose. In addition to the previously listed flavor components, the tea liquor introduced impressions of tangerine, pear, sesame, roasted barley, and apricot to go along with simultaneously emerging notes of lychee, honey, and minerals. The final infusions were dominated by mineral, cream, and butter notes, though some lingering impressions of sesame, pear, and apricot could still be found, contributing the expected pungency to the tea’s finish.

If I were to seriously sit down and list the components of what I feel make a strong example of a jade Tieguanyin, I would be more or less describing this tea. As autumn jade Tieguanyin oolongs go, this was very nice. It did not skimp on anything, as everything that I would expect to find in a tea of this type was there. Lately, I have noticed that a lot of jade Tieguanyin seems to go out of its way to avoid the pungency typically associated with the oolongs produced from the cultivar, but this one thankfully did not shy away from it. An excellent example of a jade Anxi Tieguanyin, I will definitely be acquiring some of the more recent productions for the sake of comparison.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lychee, Mineral, Osmanthus, Parsley, Pear, Roasted Barley, Saffron, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92
drank Foggy Coconut by 52teas
6488 tasting notes

Sipdown (639)!

So, I passed this one up when it originally came out because I wasn’t sure I wanted more bergamot infused things in my life and I wasn’t totally sure that I thought coconut would pair. Well, VariaTEA passed some along to me and now I have to admit that I’m really kicking myself because this was INCREDIBLE.

It tasted exactly like a very smooth, and sweet London Fog but with the addition of creamy, buttery coconut. The vanilla was the strongest note overall, and it was so good! Very, very rich and flavourful – like decadent Madagascar Vanilla. I should have known from past 52Teas experiences that it would be this incredible; I’m almost never let down by a 52Teas blend with vanilla in it! I also think that the vanilla deserves the credit for being the thing that really did make the coconut fit in with the bergamot. Vanilla and bergamot are such a good pairing, as are vanilla and coconut so vanilla just becomes this perfect flavour bridge to create a very solid trio.

I added just a touch of milk halfway through the cup to make this a bit more like a London Fog – it was equally tasty with milk but had a bit more body in terms of mouthfeel.

Honestly this was just… the best. I would 100% support a reblend.

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45
drank Watermelon Sorbet by T2
2058 tasting notes

223/365

This was my second watermelon tea of the week, and the second that was slightly disappointing. Bird & Blend’s tasted to me mostly of pineapple and coconut, but this one is mostly liquorice and mint. It reminds me very strongly of Teapigs’ Liquorice & Mint blend, in fact, which I dislike intensely. There is a little watermelon here, mostly in the mid-sip, and it is sweet and watery in a way that’s refreshing and pleasantly flavour accurate. It’s totally surrounded by the heavy dankness of mint on one side, and the intense sweetness of liquorice on the other, so that the overall effect isn’t particularly one of watermelon.

I made this one as a cold brew, and I think that was probably the right way to go. I don’t think it would be any more successful brewed hot, but I’ll give that a try in time just to see. Maybe I should put this one in lemonade? Or try and make an actual sorbet with it?

I think I can see what T2 were trying to achieve. Given that the flavour is watermelon sorbet, it’s like the mint is providing the coolness and the liquorice the sweetness. I get it, and I think it’s quite clever, but I don’t think it really works. Both of those flavours are far more powerful than the watermelon, with the result that it just seems to get squeezed out.

Are there any really good watermelon teas?

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 4 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML
Mastress Alita

I’ve had a fairly good Cucumber and Melon green tea, though it tastes less like watermelon fruit to me and more like the “melon flavor” that is popular in Asian countries like Japan (and which is entirely different than the artificial watermelon flavor found in the west, too). It’s a little closer to honeydew, though not quite? It was a good tea though, and I don’t even like to eat cucumbers or melons! I drink it iced and it comes across as refreshing cucumber water with a sort of honeydew/watermelon-hybrid flavor.

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75
drank Summertime by 52teas
2424 tasting notes

Tangerine, cream, some vegetal white tea. It isn’t spectacular, but I did quite enjoy my coldbrew (~30 minute in 750 mL cold water)

Flavors: Citrus, Cream, Fruity, Orange, Tannin, Vegetal

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86

Nothing new to say about this one. Still fabulously delicious and was exactly what i needed today to soften some bad news.

Maddy Barone

Oh, no. I’m sorry about the bad news. Hugs.

mrmopar

Ugh, hope it isn’t too bad Sil..

Sil

Nothing serious, I’ll be ok. Thanks guys

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86

Okay, I’m getting around to posting this review way later than planned. I finished a bunch of tea samples from Old Ways Tea last month, and until now, I have yet to get around to posting any of them. I decided to get this one up here first simply because I have not reviewed a lapsang souchong in what feels like forever. As Wuyi smoked black teas go, this was a very good one, though I also doubt it would be the sort of tea a lot of people would want to drink regularly. That’s the thing about lapsang souchong-regardless of whether or not you enjoy it, it’s not really an everyday, all seasons kind of tea. It’s also the sort of tea that you either enjoy or you don’t, and if you have tried multiple lapsang souchongs and have yet to find one that you enjoy, there is no guarantee that you will ever find one to your liking.

Naturally, I prepared this tea gongfu style. I ended up buying a couple of small gaiwans from Old Ways Tea and decided to break one of them out for this session. After a very brief rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in approximately 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 pine smoke, tar, char, cedar, and honey. After the rinse, I picked up emerging aromas of roasted peanut, malt, and cinnamon. The first infusion then saw the pine smoke reassert itself on the nose. In the mouth, I surprisingly found gentle notes of malt backed by subtle impressions of cinnamon, char, cedar, roasted peanut, and pine smoke. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn citrusy and spicy. Notes of cream, minerals, brown sugar, roasted almond, and toast appeared in the mouth. I also noted the belated emergence of a slight honey flavor in the mouth as well as hints of chocolate and orange zest. The pine smoke notes were somewhat more prevalent on these infusions, though they remained much more restrained and sophisticated than the nose would have led me to expect. The final infusions offered lingering mineral, malt, and pine smoke notes backed by fleeting touches of cream, roasted nuts, brown sugar, and orange zest. A cooling menthol-like herbal impression also showed itself on the swallow.

An impressive, sophisticated, and surprisingly restrained lapsang souchong, I am willing to bet that fans of such smoked black teas would find a lot to enjoy in this one. My only real complaint was that I felt that the smokiness could have been a little more pronounced throughout, but for those who prefer a lighter smokiness in such teas, I am sure that will not be a complaint at all. Those who hate lapsang souchong will probably not be converted by this tea, but I found it to be very enjoyable. I would not want to have it every day, but it did make me hopeful that Old Ways Tea will soon bring in more smoked black teas for me to try. Judging by this one, I am certain that any future lapsang souchongs they source will be worthwhile.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Cedar, Char, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Roasted, Smoke, Tar, Toast

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I hope the others black teas are up to par for you. I am still surprised how impressed I was with the Grass and Honey fragrance blacks.

eastkyteaguy

Daylon, I have both the grass and honey fragrance black teas, but have yet to try either. I enjoyed both the 2016 and 2017 old tree black teas. The 2016 product was fantastic, and I recall being impressed that it had mellowed without losing any of its complexities. I also loved their 2016 wild style black tea, which was actually a purple bud black tea. The only one of their oolongs that I recall trying was the 2016 Hua Xiang Shui Xian. It was very good, but at one point, I recall thinking that, even around two years out from production, the roast could have used a little more time to settle.

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90

I increasingly find myself being drawn to the teas produced by Feng Qing Tea Factory. Their black teas, in particular, seem to display some unique qualities that I do not always get out of other Yunnan black teas. I know that some people find Feng Qing teas to display floral qualities, but I almost always perceive vibrant vegetal and herbal tones. Now, what does any of this have to do with this particular tea? Well, this tea was a Feng Qing black tea, and given my love of Feng Qing teas, it should not come as a surprise that I ended up loving this one. As a matter of fact, I found it to be a stellar example of a Feng Qing black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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, I detected pleasant aromas of pine, honey, malt, and cocoa coming from the dry leaf buds. After the rinse, I found emerging scents of burnt toast, herbs, and sweet potato. The first infusion then brought out stronger piney and herbal scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, pine, burnt toast, honey, cocoa, and sweet potato chased by a subtle herbal note reminiscent of eucalyptus and a slight caramel sweetness. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on more complex herbal qualities and some spiciness-I detected aromas of black pepper, cedar, juniper, and fennel. There was also an earthiness that emerged on the nose along with some vegetal qualities reminiscent of celery and green beans. In the mouth, notes of earth, camphor, butter, black pepper, minerals, fennel, cream, cedar, nutmeg, celery, cinnamon, green beans, grass, and juniper appeared. The last infusions offered subtle notes of minerals, malt, earth, cocoa, and cream backed by fleeting hints of camphor, fennel, eucalyptus, black pepper, celery, and green beans.

An interesting, satisfying, and extremely complex black tea, this would be the type of black tea to turn to when one is looking for something highly aromatic with loads of flavor. This tea also displayed respectable longevity in the mouth as well as great body and texture. If you are a fan of Yunnan black teas and looking for one that is more challenging and more rewarding than many others, do yourself a favor and give this tea a shot. While you’re at it, try a few other Feng Qing teas too.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Burnt, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Celery, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Grass, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pine, Sweet Potatoes, Toast

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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70

216/365

This one also came as a free sample with my first Vahdam order. I’m not usually a massive oolong fan, although there are some that really like. They tend to be in the minority, though. This one is quite nice – it’s a dark/roasted oolong, with some mild milk chocolate notes and a touch of caramelised sugar. Pretty sweet, on the whole, with just the tiniest hint of metallic in the aftertaste. After a few sips, I can detect a light nuttiness in the mid-sip – I’d call it hazelnut, if I had to pin it down, but it’s not super strong.

I like a nice chocolatey oolong, so this one’s close to being a winner with me. I’m not sure I’d buy a large bag, simply because oolong isn’t something I turn to all that often, but I’d certainly pick up the occasional sample.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

This was another of the teas I finished back around the start of May. Originating in Hunan Province, this black tea was produced from a cultivar normally used in the production of oolong. Like most of the Chinese black teas offered by Harney & Sons, I found it to be more or less excellent and a great value to boot.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 212 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 subsequent 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 peach, pine, toast, and honey. After the rinse, I noted stronger peach and honey scents as well as emerging apricot, butter, and roasted almond aromas. There were some hints of malt too. The first infusion brought out aromas of straw and candied orange peel. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of peach, honey, and apricot on the entry that were immediately chased by roasted almond, butter, malt, toast, straw, and candied orange peel notes. There were also surprising hints of rose on the swallow. The subsequent infusions saw rose and vanilla emerge on the nose. Subtle pine notes belatedly emerged in the mouth. New impressions of caramel, cream, minerals, and mango also showed themselves. The last infusions offered soft, lingering mineral, roasted almond, and cream notes that were balanced by even softer impressions of malt and vanilla.

Though this was not the most complex black tea in the world, it was incredibly unique and enjoyable. No component was out of place, as everything worked wonderfully together. I would love to know which cultivar was used to produce this tea. Definitely check this one out if you are looking for a sweeter, fruitier black tea unlike many others on the market.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Butter, Caramel, Cream, Honey, Malt, Mango, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Pine, Rose, Straw, Toast, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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