Featured & New Tasting Notes
Aaah! It’s matcha launch day!
What does that mean? Well, it means I can finally talk about the three new matcha flavours that came out today; Kale, Maple, and Peach! The latter isn’t technically new, it was released as limited edition over the summer and now it’s back as one of our core teas. The other two are limited edition, and we’ve also released a limited edition Matcha Genmaicha as well. I still need to try that one.
As for the three flavoured matchas, this turned out to surprisingly be my favourite of the three. If you like straight matcha/Matcha Matsu this is fairly similar to the taste of a normal matcha but more boldly vegetal and umami. Like we’re advertising it in the description for this matcha, I definitely see it working well in smoothies. That said, I think it’s also well suited for matcha shots for people looking for some of the wellness benefits of matcha and kale but who aren’t quite as big on the taste.
I do like the taste though; but I also like the taste of straight matcha as well.
On thing I do think it worth note; this has kale powder in it in addition to the matcha. In fact, that’s the only other ingredient in this. However, it likes to settle REALLY quickly and can kind of get sludgy on the bottom of whatever you’re drinking it in. Texture wise, that’s not an issue if you’re choosing this for a smoothie or shot but if you’re drinking this otherwise just remember to give it a stir every now and then.
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 decided to have something special. Tea Ave sent a sample of this tea with my last order. It came in an opaque blue bag with tons of detail on it – growth altitude, roast level, cultivar, oxidation level, instructions for four different brewing methods, and flavor notes. I love this level of detail! Unfortunately, I missed the part where it’s a teabag and not loose leaf, so I prepped my gaiwan, pitcher, etc. before opening the packet and realizing my mistake. Not a great start, but I am not so easily deterred. I switched to a mug and ended up getting… maybe 6? good steeps out of it. I lost count at a certain point. The teabag itself is interesting. It’s a pyramid sachet but not made out of the same plastic-like material as most mass-produced pyramid sachets. This is more like a cottony paper. The leaf inside is of course proper full leaf. There’s plenty of room for it to expand, and it does. The flavor is exactly what I wanted. Sweet floral honey paired with something else that I can’t quite articulate. It’s thick and rich and savory-sweet and distinctive Apparently I’ve reviewed this before, but it was two years ago so I forgot. Back then, I described this flavor as whole wheat toast (gong fu) and camellia blossom (Western style). That’s close to what I tasted this time, but not quite it. I would be more frustrated by my inability to name this flavor but the tea is too yummy and soothing to let it stress me out.
A friend and I went out for Korean bbq at lunch today and then we ended up sitting in a park sipping bitter delicious Americanos. That, in addition to my morning tea was enough of the hardcore boom caffeine for me.
This tea is the perfect antidote to the strong flavours of the day. So gentle. The predominant flavour here is coconut with the slightest bit of vanilla mellowing out the pineapple apricot gently floating over the white and sencha base.
Flavors: Coconut, Fruity, Pineapple, Vanilla
This is a review from memory, as I have had a busy weekend & been drinking tea on the move, so its a bit short.
This Oolong was a nice surprise, the perfume has elements of Tie Guan Yin, alongside the more expected Dan Cong Aroma. What was also nice was that the subtle buttery flavour had a citrus edge which is also reminiscent of the aforementioned green Oolong, that reminded me a bit of sour yogurt. Again, a nice surprise.
Another nice aspect was that it was quite forgiving to brew and remained nicely balanced – well, until the body gave out and I was just left with lovely fragrant water.
Thinking back, and if I had more to try it might come across like a Jin Xuan-Dan Cong, with a citrusy-milky thing, but at the time all I could think of was Tie Guan Yin had a baby with Ya Shii.
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Flowers, Yogurt
Here we have another sample I held on to for some time. Prior to today, I seemed to always be looking for the right time to try it. This most certainly should not have been the day. The frequent changes in weather patterns here finally caused me to crash last night. I had a stressful week and ended up skimping on sleep for a couple days, so by Friday I was feeling pretty terrible. Saturday then rolled around, the weather stayed warm, and while talking to a friend, I just went down for the count. Nausea, coughing, uncontrollable shaking, intense pain, muscle spasms, sweating, chills, and a splitting headache all hit at once. I’ve been barely functional at best today and have already decided to skip work tomorrow. I’ll warn you all in advance: it will be a green tea and pajamas kind of day. Back on track, a day of coughing up phlegm seemed like it might require a tea with deep honey notes, so I ended up at last finding a suitable reason to break out this sample. The circumstances were far from ideal, however, as I had difficulty maintaining focus while I sessioned this and had to rely on a nose and palate that were not functioning at optimal levels. All of this goes to say that readers should take this review with a couple more grains of salt than usual.
I gongfued this tea. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 190 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion with 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes. I did not even remotely follow Verdant’s gongfu guide for this tea. I can’t quite recall my rationale for why I chose the methodology I did, but I think it had something to do with a different leaf to water ratio. I will go ahead and admit that I did not find this approach to do this tea justice and will be assigning a numerical score with the deficiencies of the brewing method and my own personal unreliability at the time of the session in mind.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off robust aromas of smoke, honey, and wood. After the rinse, the aromas of smoke, honey, and wood intensified and were joined by subtle impressions of vanilla bean and malt. The first infusion produced a similar bouquet that saw the aromas of vanilla bean and malt swell, as well as the emergence of baked bread. In the mouth, I picked up thin notes of wildflower honey, wood, smoke, malt, and vanilla bean before a nutty, bready finish. Subsequent infusions saw the tea grow smoother and thicker, offering more pronounced impressions of honey, vanilla bean, malt, and bread all around. At this point the nuttiness emerged more fully, taking on the character of roasted almonds. I also finally began to note the expected Wuyi minerality toward the finish. Later infusions saw the return of smoke and wood, as well as the increasing dominance of minerals. When I really forced myself to focus, I could still detect hints of honey, malt, and bread.
This was not a complex or long-lasting tea, but my impression of it may be warped due to conducting the review session while sick. I will say, however, that I appreciated it’s texture. I found it very soothing. I also liked the pronounced honey notes it offered during its brief peak. To be sure, I found this to be a nice tea, but I wish I would have held off on sampling it until I was better able to appreciate everything it had to offer.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Vanilla, Wood
This really really nice milk oolong with cream and lovely floral notes is taking me now into a still very flavourful fifth steeping. Perfect tea to be drinking on a sunny warm day. The weather seems to think it is spring here. I’m certain it’ll snap to its senses soon and plunge us directly into the deepfreeze we in February deserve and look forward to.
Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Sugarcane
Project be-nice-to-myself continues. Today it takes form of going to the gym for a yoga class, a nice lunch with a square of chocolate for dessert, and a cup of this tea.
This is so rich. It smells divine, and it tastes like vanilla fudge, with a touch of something woody in it.
A very nice thing on this rainy day.
A sipdown for now. I’ll probably get more of this at some point in the future, but the cupboard needs wrangling, so its going to be a bit.
So, I’ve tried Frank’s take on this tea before – but this was my first tasting of Anne’s version. I had to skim my old tasting notes to remember what I thought of the former blend, but it looks like it came off as vaguely rootbeerish to me with buttery and cream soda like elements too.
This time around, I thought that this was much more strongly and passably a “root beer” flavour. If anything, maybe a root beer float because there was creamyness to it but more so a vanilla like creaminess that made me think of vanilla ice cream rather than butter or cream soda. The only other thing I observed that was really of note was that the finish had a subtle roastyness to it from the chicory in the blend. Overall and ultimately, I thought this was very smooth and enjoyable.
Now, does it taste like what I imagine butterbeer should taste like? No, not really. I’ve always kind of thought of butterbeer as a butterscotch/cream soda kind of hybrid, or maybe like a buttered rum? But regardless, it’s a fun blend and it makes the fandom part of me quite happy.
Last week’s tea of the week!
Now that I’m feeling comfortable with finally getting caught up after numerous delays – I also feel comfortable in sitting back and enjoying a cup of tea and writing about it! The delays over the last two months have been crazy – but as I’ve said – I’ve learned that anything that can happen will most likely happen and really, there’s just not a lot you can do about it – no way of even foreseeing some of those things that happen to delay things – so the key is just learning how to roll with the punches I suppose.
On to this tea! I do love it! Rocky Road ice cream is my favorite and has been my favorite since I was a kid. I occasionally find a ‘new’ favorite that surpasses my craving for Rocky Road – like Cherry Garcia or Praline Pecan – but Rocky Road holds that special place in my heart. So when I saw in the archives some years ago that Frank had actually created a Rocky Road blend once upon a time – I asked him to reblend it. He never did.
So I decided that I would take it upon myself to recreate it and when I did, I did some searching for the tea here on Steepster only to come up empty handed – it was never entered into the database here so it’s as if it never actually existed. So I’m reclaiming the blend for myself.
The base is really nice – it’s Yunnan and Assamica teas blended with Laoshan teas from Verdant. Together, these teas create a pleasantly rich and remarkably smooth flavor that carries the notes of chocolate, nut and marshmallow well.
As I mentioned on my blog post for this blend – http://52teas.com/blog/tea-of-the-week-for-february-6-2017-rocky-road-black-tea/ – the first time I tasted it, I thought something was a bit off. Not because it wasn’t delicious because it was – it took me a while to determine what the problem with it was and I realized that this doesn’t have the texture of Rocky Road ice cream (because it is, as I’ve said before – a tea and therefore shouldn’t have the texture of a ice cream laden with nuts and marshmallows) and while I absolutely love the flavor of Rocky Road Ice Cream, I also love the texture: cool, creamy chocolate ice cream with chunks of crunchy nuts and pillow-y marshmallows. And this tea doesn’t have the crunchy, chunky nuts or the soft, fluffy marshmallows to bite into – but it does have the flavor of those things as well as a smooth, creamy chocolate-y taste.
Tea #2 from my swap with Nicole/Tea-Historic. Thank you Nicole!
I’m not sure what to make of this tea. Not being a huge fan of vanilla, I went in with an open mind. The vanilla turned out to be rather mild, and a nice pairing with the malty black Assam base.
I didn’t expect the hint of smokiness though, it was a pleasant surprise as it wasn’t mentioned in the tea description. Perhaps the infuser at my boyfriend’s was tainted somehow? I’d brewed lemon oolong in the same cup last night, so that doesn’t really make sense.
The smoke note came out more as my tea cooled, and after I added milk. An interesting contrast to the vanilla.
Also, being a ctc, I feel rather caffeinated at the moment :P
I’ll have to see how it brews up in the office, under less than optimal conditions.
Here is another oolong that I have rested for awhile. I did my first session with this tea last night. I stayed up late with the intention of cleaning my kitchen, but did not quite get around to it. Instead, I ended up watching television, listening to music, and drinking tea. Compared to some of the other milk oolongs I have tried within the last year, this one was much subtler and came off as being more natural. It was very smooth and savory, though it simultaneously lacked the over-the-top milky, buttery qualities I have recently come to associate with Jin Xuan.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. I followed this infusion with 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 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 tea leaves gave off subtly milky, creamy, buttery aromas. After the rinse, the aromas of milk, butter, and cream intensified and were joined by subtle scents of sticky rice, custard, and fresh flowers. The first infusion produced a similar, though oddly more subdued, integrated bouquet. In the mouth, I detected very thin notes of cream, butter, custard, and steamed milk balanced by notes of grass and a slight nectar-like quality. Subsequent infusions were much more fulfilling, offering more pronounced floral aromas resembling a mixture of lilies, honeysuckle, and gardenia, as well as traces of grass, leaf lettuce, apricot, pear, and pineapple. The same qualities came through in the mouth. I noticed that the tea liquor was initially savory-it was packed with cream, butter, steamed milk, custard, and sticky rice notes underscored by a very subtle hint of vanilla-before introducing impressions of fruit, grass, leaf lettuce, and minerals on the finish. Later infusions offered hints of cream, butter, custard, grass, and lettuce on the nose. In the mouth, I detected thin notes of cream, butter, custard, grass, leaf lettuce, and spinach balanced by a somewhat heavier mineral presence and ghostly floral, fruity impressions.
Compared to many of the Jin Xuan oolongs I have tried within the last 12 months, this one was not nearly as fruity, sweet, or heavy. It presented a delicate, restrained layering of aromas and flavors, and to me, did not come across as artificial in any way. I could definitely appreciate this tea, but I found myself wishing at numerous points that the sweeter, fruitier, more floral qualities would provide more balance to the tea’s smooth, savory and grassy, vegetal polarities. Giving a numerical score to this one has proven very difficult. A score of 72/100 feels like it is at least in the ballpark, if perhaps a bit harsh. I’ll go with that for now simply because this tea was decent enough, but in my opinion was lacking something that would have made it more memorable and enjoyable.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Milk, Mineral, Pear, Pineapple, Rice, Spinach, Vanilla
So, that’s what I get for forming an opinion before trying this: I expected a strong, deep, earthy texture and tone. Instead, This one steeped to the color of stained cherry wood and reminds me of dark grainy bread and molasses. Its bite increases a little as it cools, so I’m thinking it would play nicely with milk. Yummy as it is, though.
Review for the tea-infused milk chocolate bar
A couple weeks back I found a DAVIDs that had a whole bunch of their holiday stuff left and on sale, including their chocolates. For $2 I decided to give this a try and it was AWESOME!! I think my favorite DAVIDsTEA infused chocolate: http://sororiteasisters.com/2017/02/17/cardamom-french-toast-tea-infused-milk-chocolate-bar-from-davids-tea/
Thank you for the sample Nicole/Tea-Historic!!
This is a wallop of a tea. Caffeine = yes! what a high. It managed to kick my headache for atleast an hour after finishing my cuppa. It’s back now, unfortunately. (next stop is more caffeine and an aspirin). I saw the reviews indicating how strong it was, so I underleafed at just under a teaspoon. I’m glad I did, as it came out perfectly balanced. My nerves are strung up, so I agree with others here, this is not for anyone who is caffeine sensitive, or consumption in large quantities. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that small mug of coffee shortly beforehand!
Lost track of time but I’d guess I let it go for about four minutes. Really good on it’s own, no sugar or milk added, so a dynamic tea in that regard.
A bit coppery, with a good hit of fruitiness underneath and a pleasant drying sensation. Very smooth, considering the intensity.
With a dollop of cream, it does well too.
aaaand now that I’ve tried it with regular kettle boiled water, I’m saving the rest of the sample to try at work with the water tap. For comparison.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a H&S tea. I’m sure that is adding to my giddiness :P
So somehow, I’ve really managed to hurt my back. It’s particularly bad in my shoulders and neck, and yet for some reason I’m still at work. I’m not sure why, or what I’m trying to prove. I think at this point the best thing would be to give up and go home, because it’s horrible to be in pain and at work. I think I feel like I shouldn’t because I can still do my job, which today just involves sitting at a desk and typing (at least it’s not an event day!) I don’t know. I’m odd about stuff, clearly.
I’ve rewarded myself with tea. This is one of my last 52Teas from the “old” iteration of the company. I’m still looking for something to equal raspberry cream, but I don’t think this is going to be it. It smells promising, though!
I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. To taste, it’s pretty good. It’s very obviously raspberry, and it’s even a little tart/sour in the way of actual raspberries. There’s a sweetness too, but it’s not overdone or too candy-like. I can taste hints of white chocolate in the background, but that aspect isn’t quite as prominent as I’d have liked it to be. Still, it’s pretty good. I’ll easily be able to polish this one off!
Thanks to Hapatite once again for sending me this tea. I drank the last of it a little overleafed because there wasn’t quite enough for two cups left, so it was stronger than expected, but the flavour profile was basically the same. The flavours of this were nice; herbaceous lemony soothingness with a kick of pepper at the end of the sip which built throughout the cup. My issue though is that it sort of coated my throat uncomfortably, and by the end of the cup it was quite scratchy and uncomfortable to swallow. I drank this while having a Lush bubble bath and reading, and until it started to get uncomfortable it was a good choice for my relaxing afternoon. I liked it well enough and I’m grateful to have been able to try it, but I wouldn’t buy any more.
My aunt brought me back three Kusmi teas from Paris, and she said this is her favourite one. I was pretty skeptical, because my one prior encounter with Kusmi wasn’t that awesome and “detox” is in the name, but I should’ve had a little more faith.
I’m currently addicted to this tea. I haven’t even tried the other two gift teas; I just keep making pots and pots. It’s the tropical pineapple tea I never knew I wanted.
The choice of bases (unknown green tea (37%), mate (17%), rooibos), creates an incredibly earthy backdrop. The mint accentuates the pineapple flavouring and the mate in a lovely way- I’ve always been a big fan of sweet, fresh mate blends though.
This also contains sunflower petals, nettle leaves, guarana seed, and rosehip seeds; I’m less familiar with most of those ingredients but they seem to have worked out well here.
I’m only worried that it’s possible to drink too much nettle tea (no clue how much is actually in here)!
Flavors: Earth, Floral, Grass, Mint, Nutty, Pineapple, Spices, Wood
I’ve been neglecting my raw puerh teas for awhile, and I believe I’ve noticed a pattern, which is that during the cooler winter months I tend to gravitate towards Shu, and during allergy season (spring, summer, and fall for me) I tend to reach for the Sheng. If I’ve mentioned this before, that is because I tend to have these kinds of revelations over and over again (and each time they seem new to me, LOL).
A few years ago Tea Explorer and I shared an epic tea exchange, and I’m still working on the box of teas he sent my way! This is one of them, and today it is a sipdown! Only 11 more varieties to go!
It is a known thing, at least to me, that raw puerh is beneficial during allergy season. It improves my state of being in multiple ways, and especially once the pollen is in the air, which is apparently already is in St. Louis. We’ve had a few days of sunshine and that’s pretty much all it takes. I wouldn’t say that Sheng works as well as Nettle Leaf tea, but on it’s own, it definitely makes a difference in the quality of my breathing, thinking, and overall day. I’ll probably brew a qt of Nettles too.
Flavorwise, this tea is a little tart, kind of a savory berry taste with a touch of smoke, thick & lively on the tongue, and a good head buzz!
It was not a good night for sleep. I had two major interruptions, both of which made it difficult to get back to sleep, after the sleep had been interrupted. So I am running on truncated sleep, and am dragging like hell this morning.
I brewed this as my first cup of the day.
The dry leaf smells wonderful, exactly like I would hope that something called Black Cherries in Sweet Cream would.
It brews up differently, though. The scents become a pale imitation, and the flavor is not as strong as I’d like. I’m going to try for a longer steep time next, and see what that does.
A happy sipdown #86/393! Sorry, MissB, but this is just not for me.
I was doing pretty well with focusing on my sipdowns, but I got really busy about a week ago and haven’t been able to get much progress made since. Finally, though, I have two days off work in a row for the first time in a month, so expect many sipdowns to come in the next couple of days!
This one I’m pretty stoked about. I’ve had it for a long while now – it was one of my oldest teas – and I’ve never been a fan. It smells a little like sour milk, and tastes like out of date pineapple juice watered down a lot. There’s a sort of sweet artificial back note that most likely comes from the little candy hearts, but there’s nothing particularly complex about it. Each time I drank this I would avoid it for months, until I forgot that I didn’t like it and had another cup. It has been in my focus box for seriously a year, and I’m really pleased with myself for finally getting through it. Pineapple is on my list of tea-dislikes for a reason, and the reason is this tea.
Happy Valentine’s Day Steepster!
Anyone have any big/special plans? Personally, I work this evening at DT so nothing related to the holiday for me not that I’m seeing anyone right now anyway but I did do something for me today! I shaved my hair, which had regrown to about inches long since I last shaved everything completely off, into a mohawk! It’s been since highschool since I last rocked a mohawk, and let me just say that having one now feels good. Plus, for my first time shaving a mohawk all by myself I think I fucking nailed it.
Also, Wasabi posed with me!
Apart from that, I’m just enjoying drinking good tea and listening to some killed music while I have the apartment all to myself. Oh – also I put together little Valentine’s cards for my DAVIDsTEA coworkers with a personalized tea sample for each of them depending on their tastes. That’s why I’m drinking this tea; I measured out a cup for my friend Kandyce who likes flavoured tea, specifically things that are either fruity or just kind of weird. I think this ticks off both criteria?
And then as I was measuring her tea, I of course had to make myself a cup too. I was surprised by this; 52Teas does flavoured genmaicha well but usually the additional flavour is pretty subtle. In the case of this tea, I thought the mango was REALLY strong/bold and prominent. That’s not to say I didn’t like it; in fact I found it to be super realistic, natural, and both ripe and juicy tasting. It was very good, but covered a lot of the roastiness from the genmaicha. The latter was there though; it was like you were hit with a wave of intense, rich mango and then as that faded/the initial impact wore off there was smooth, subtle roastyness and sweet coconut notes. Ultimately I would have liked a touch more roastyness/“sticky rice” flavour but it’s hard to criticize too much because even if that aspect wasn’t completely nailed in my opinion it did still taste amazing.
I listened to a lot of Parov Stelar while drinking this; I’ve been on a HUGE electro swing/nu jazz kick lately and Parov Stelar is like the best of the best. This was the song I got most into though while I was drinking this. The volume was on max, and there was some serious dancing taking place.
Flavors: Coconut, Mango, Pine, Roasted, Toasted Rice, Tropical, Vegetal