Featured & New Tasting Notes
A sample from ashmanra to share with my dad, and we did that this morning before I go off traveling again. This tea is quite smooth and not terribly smoky as Lapsang scan get. A very pleasant and lingering aftertaste that would go well with a leftover piece of pie or even a spicy taco. Hmmm I must be hungry for lunch. It’s an enjoyable cup, thanks for sharing!
Flavors: Smoke, Smooth
You have to play “Where’s Waldo?” to figure out the “Caramel” in the name of this nice oolong. It’s definitely not in the finished cup—which is comfortably toasty and cereally. Caramel it is not. But when you sit with your tired feet up beside a finally-decorated Christmas tree and close your eyes and stick your nose in the cup, the scent finally gives itself away.
And it is a sad sipdown, too. I didn’t realize I had been hitting this one so hard.
This Earl Grey has lots of cream flavor, feeling so smooth with lots of “mouth-roundness”, as Graham Kerr used to say. I drank it plain and intended to try it different teas but drank it all before I could. Once I finish my tin of Fortnum Mother’s Day, which is a rose Earl Grey, I will acquire more of this one, I think.
November Sipdown Prompt – an oolong tea
We have had this twice lately, western style. It definitely gets a chance to show off more when prepared gong fu but is a very good tea either way.
On the first sip, I found myself singing “the last cup is the sweetest” to the tune of Rod Stewart’s “The First Cut Is The Deepest.” Anyone else experience that phenomenon where you are finishing a tea and the last bit is so good you want to re-order it immediately? I will restrain myself a while as I am not even close to my cupboard goal for the year. But there will have to be some Dong Ding ordered before next fall.
This was a freebie in my Sonnentor order earlier this year. Summer was starting, so getting “Shoo, Flu!” tea was a bit funny, but now I find it very useful. :) But I was surprised to see it in my black tea box. Probably just tossed the tea bag there and I forgot about it.
I do have a red nose from all the blowing the nose. I wish I could be like the girl on the new design of the box (bright, not red one); but at least I don’t have to do much at home at all. Let’s hope it will help me at least a little bit.
I don’t remember it at all, but it was 4 years ago. It sounds like an incredlible long time ago. This time it is deifinitely minty (apple mint here!) and chamomile with rough edge of thyme. Very warming up and actually quite tasty, considering a herbal blend.
As I am not feeling well, stuck nose makes trying teas even harder, I tend to drink simple cups as I can’t focus on all nuances of the teas. Definitely, my sniffer isn’t working properly and taste is slightly affected as well — definitely at least I have no mood to try teas I haven’t tried as it can be a bit off.
I said last time it is strong in malts and bread notes; today it felt a bit more like a leathery taste and aroma… but take it with pinch of salt.
I have 8 bags remaining, so hopefully I will have a better chance to re-try it soon.
This tea has so many names, and I’m surprised that vendors persist in using the one that’s potentially the most problematic. (Personally, braggart’s tea is my favourite, though I go with Bai Hao.) I’m honestly not picking on this company in particular, as most Western-facing vendors do the same thing. I’m not sure what Asian tea drinkers call this tea, but it’s probably something else.
Rant on the name aside, I enjoy this type of tea and wanted to try one made from Jin Xuan. My 10 g sample was nicely packed in two 5 g pouches, with extra cardboard sleeves inside to prevent breakage. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain pot using 195F water for 30, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120, 150, 180, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of autumn leaves, honey, muscatel, citrus, and florals. The first steep has a thick body and a fuzzy texture from the many trichomes in the tea. I get honey, autumn leaves, rose, other florals, muscatel, citrus, and some tannins. Lemon and pine emerge in steep two. In the next couple steeps, I get lots of tannins and terpenes, plus honey, lemon, muscatel, and wood. The next couple steeps are fairly tannic and drying, with nutmeg and the honey, muscatel, lemon, and autumn leaves mentioned above. The final few steeps focus on autumn leaves, honey, muscatel, wood, grass, minerals, and rather aggressive tannins.
With my remaining 5 g, I did a session using the vendor’s parameters (30/45/60/75/90… seconds), and I was surprised that the tannins didn’t kick me in the teeth. I got more autumn leaves, citrus, and muscatel and less lemon, pine, and florality, though these flavours were still there. I found this method produced a smoother tea with less character.
Could I detect the contribution of the Jin Xuan? Maybe it appeared in the rose and other florals, but otherwise, I’d say this is a nice midrange Bai Hao. It lost a few points for those tannins, but was pleasant and more interesting than other Bai Hao I’ve had recently.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Citrus, Floral, Grass, Honey, Lemon, Mineral, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Pine, Rose, Tannin, Wood
I am reviewing this here instead of under “random” in case anyone buys this tea and feels the same way I did about it. The base was a bit weak and more of the afternoon than breakfast tea variety, but also it lacked bassy notes that would have amplified rich caramel instead of detracting, making it taste even richer. Instead the caramel was strong in the aroma and adding half and half just accentuated the weakness of the tea for me.
It isn’t a horrible tea and Ashman liked it, it just didn’t live up to my expectations so here is how I have doctored it up. I opened the sachet and since Harney sachets are supposed to be measured for 12 ounces of water, that should be one and a half teaspoons. I added another one and a half teaspoons of Teavivre’s Premium Keemun. I almost used Queen Catherine but wanted to guarantee plenty of oomph.
I steeped it at 190F in respect for the Keemun at 3 minutes with about 20 ounces of water, then resteeped the whole shebang the same way and combined. Big improvement.
This made for very pleasant pots of tea that we have enjoyed at both breakfast and lunch. The caramel is lighter but present, but the base tea now has some body and bass notes to ground it because dadgum it caramel should be rich and not watery.
This is giving me very much the same vibe as Cozy Comfort from Simpson and Vail but that one is vanilla instead of caramel.
Ashmanra’s sipdown challenge – November 2023 Tea #5 – A bold tea
This was certainly one of Zen’s “finest” teas, not like that is what the name actually means, and also most of Zen’s teas were teas I wanted to keep steeping! I’d say I was a repeat buyer of most of the teas I tried from Zen. The crew at Zen had good tea tastes, which is why I’m extra sad they stopped selling tea. I have never bought any teaware from them, as I don’t really buy any teaware at all. The tea leaves are vast around here but the teaware is few. haha. Though I do admire when some of you have the perfect vessels for teas or occasions for drinking them! Anyway, this is certainly a very flavorful tea, even after all these years, I’m impressed. Rich with that classic CLASSIC Keemun flavor I can never describe — maybe like lychee mixed with bittersweet/dark chocolate? Definitely a classic keemun. I will miss this tea. No back up pouches!
2023 sipdowns: 95
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Lychee
Never before would I have imagined where acetone and cocoa could overlap, but here we are. Strange but compelling.
I’ve been wrestling a bit with tea sessioning. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of moisture in the air up here, or if it’s me still trying to ground, but I’ve been chugging puerh like a champ and coming up with, “Yep… that’s puerh, all right.”
Been drinking some samples from Puerh Junky that I had been reserving as too-precious… guess I’ll get past that block by driving full-speed at it. I’m enjoying everything I’m brewing up, but very rarely being floored.
Is okay. Drink on.
I’ve been sipping through a pouch of this has my morning tea for a bit. I see some of the reviews say it’s “all Pumpkin Spice, no Earl Grey” but my batch (or maybe just my tastebuds) are having the complete opposite. The bergamot is coming off very strongly for me, and I don’t taste any of the desserty pumpkin pie/cream/vanilla flavoring that is apparently in this. The only other note I’m picking up on aside from the strong bergamot is the cardamom; I suspect the slight citrusy notes of cardamom are being amplified by the citrusy bergamot, but the other spices, like the pumpkin flavoring, are drowned out in my cup. So what I’m left with isn’t Pumpkin Earl Grey, or even Pumpkin Spice Earl Grey, but rather Cardamom Earl Grey.
I will say I do like the flavor combo of the cardamom and bergamot and think I would really like a Chai Earl Grey if the flavor balance was more even between the berg’ and the spices. But when something has “pumpkin” in the title and I get none of that, I still feel a bit disappointed.
Flavors: Bergamot, Cardamom, Citrus
I had a pretty surreal experience earlier this week…
So, here in Montreal there’s this INFAMOUS Jewish brunch spot called Arthur’s. They don’t take reservations, and to get in for brunch you usually have to wait in line for over an hour. Always busy. So delicious though, with the best cottage cheese pancakes and amazing latkes.
Well, a few coworkers and I went for breakfast there earlier this week specifically because they’re carrying this tea is part of their menu for the winter. It was absolutely wild going to this beloved restaurant (that I’ve been a fan of since moving to MTL) and ordering a tea off the menu that I developed and getting to just sit there and, well, drink it.
I mean, DAVIDsTEA is carried in several different cafes and we’ve had lots of different pop ups and events since I’ve started working there where I was able to got and order one of our teas. However, the teas featured are usually our best sellers. Stuff we’ve carried since before I was an employee or that was developed when I was working in stores or just a data assistant in the lab. This was different. It felt different. It was really, really cool.
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 and feelings regarding the teas, and not the company’s.
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon
I had this with lunch, but it is a very generous sample from Michelle and there is enough left to share a pot another day with Ashman since he really enjoys dragon well teas.
There is no sour grass here nor bitterness. It is not the most complex or full bodied dragon well I have tried, but is immensely drinkable and enjoyable. This is a nice, fresh grass and sunshine sort of green and it goes down very easily. Worth purchasing as a daily drinker. Thank you, Michelle!
Color me surprised. At our Bowls for BrainPower Power event to help feed kids. Instead of a coffee table they have a tea table! It’s just tea bags. Only two types. But it’s tea! So of course. I had to try some. Never heard of this brand. Not impressed with the plastic on the outside of each of the bags. The teabag looks okay. The aroma is decent. The wet leaf is CTC so nothing impressive. I’m assuming it’s not true bergamot oil. The astringency is puckering and not entirely pleasant. Flavor overall is decent. Drinkable but not something I would seek out to buy.
I’ve tried this variety before, and thanks to Michelle, I’m enjoying a rerun. Here’s what Upton has to say about it: Longer steepings yield a robust cup with notes of rose and peppery hints. At briefer steepings, the liquor is sweeter and more delicate.
So far, I’ve just tried the two minute variation, which has a very dark cherry vibe. Not sure there are any roses blooming in my cup. However, it builds up a lot of muscle the longer it sits, so I’m looking forward to a longer steep with milk next time to see what happens.
Backlog: I had this over the weekend on a coold autumn day. Leaves are falling, and despite not having filtered water at that moment, the three western steeps of this tea were comforting. Caramel, brown sugar, maple, smoke, roast, char, and campfire smoke were in abundance. I also kept getting berry notes, like blueberries or raspberries after they’ve been cooked into crepes and pastries. Active imagination note because of association, I know. But I regret not getting more of this one despite having a decent amount of it.
Funny how one’s opinion of a tea can change over time! I think the first time I had this one, I was looking for the herbal equivalent of a traditional masala chai and was disappointed that this wasn’t that. But now I’m a big fan of this spicy, nutty blend which packs a punch in the flavor department without any caffeine. I’ve also found this to be a reliable first tea for people who think they don’t like tea…with milk and sugar, they almost always like this one!
Flavors: Almond, Cardamom, Cinnamon
Ashmanra’s sipdown challenge – November 2023 Tea #3 – A smoky tea
It’s in the name! There was an awkward amount of leaf left, and I’d rather have a too strong cup of chai rather than two steep sessions that are disappointingly weak. So into the infuser it all went. I do not regret it! I probably should have been using more leaf the entire lifetime of the tea. It’s much better stronger. It’s slightly smoky while having a sweet aspect to it. A decent amount of spices and then I can also tell there is some of the honeybush flavor peeking through. I just noticed there was also vanilla bean in this one and somehow I always miss tasting vanilla in all 52Teas blends. I think I will raise the rating from an 82 because this is a well balanced blend (and again, I bet the overleafing usually improves a tea IMO.) I am extremely behind on my sipdown goal, which is a given, as I’m still away from the majority of my tea collection.
2023 sipdowns: 93