Featured & New Tasting Notes
I wanted to try Tealyra’s Earl Grey because I feel like I haven’t found the perfect EG that is currently for sale. It’s like bergamot is just disappointing now, when a few years ago so many bergamot teas were delicious. For example, Zen had the BEST cream earl grey, but then their supplier changed to a very different EG. This EG seems exactly like that replaced EG, and I don’t mean the perfect delicious EG…. I mean the bad replacement. The bergamot is just not the bergamot I’m looking for. There should also be a cream flavor they mention in the description, but I’m just tasting the unappealing bergamot. At least the black tea is brisk enough for me. Maybe this Earl could be the perfect Earl for someone else, but it ain’t for me.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 12 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
Tea for today. We’re not doing much this thanksgiving, and I’m ok with it. We spent most of the weekend moving the house around and throwing out things that we probably should have tossed a while back. Starting to feel like we’re getting somewhere with things we’ve held off doing. I wanted a straight tea today and this one was pulled out because it’s been a while. It was the perfect accompaniment to breakfast this morning! Kinda wish i could have another cup, but trying to keep caffeine to the minimum.
I am not really surprised by the mixed reception of this tea, but personally I like it a lot. It is subtle and complex in both smell and taste, it has a long and evolving aftertaste and great mouthfeel. What’s more, it also increases my awareness without any caffeine rush. I am really in love with the purple varietals.
Throughout the session the leaves turn from brown with a purple hue to a mix of brown and dark green. They seem like a good quality and firm leaves.
I didn’t really pay close attention to the aromas and flavours, maybe I will add a more complete account of those from another session. The flavours that I did notice include butter and a surprising coriander (seed) bitterness in the finish. Early infusions were more floral, while the latter ones rather nutty and somewhat sheng-like. The aftertaste was slightly sour, spicy and warming with a strong fragrance.
The mouthfeel of initial infusions was mouth-watering, creamy and developed into a little astringent in the mouth. In later infusions, from about the fourth one, the mouthfeel became thick and oily, further deepening the resemblance of raw pu-erh.
Flavors: Butter, Coriander Seed, Floral, Nutty, Spices, Tea
Work – 11:00 AM
Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Canadian Steepsters!
Guys, I feel like there’s something wrong with me. I don’t seem to enjoy this tea or Harney & Sons’s Paris… They both have a strange floral, chalky aftertaste for me that reminds me of Tums.
Am I crazy? I don’t see this mentioned in anyone else’s notes, and everyone seems to love these two.
Is it the base tea, is it the bergamot they use…?
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Stonefruits, Sweet, Violet, Wood
Mostly what I smell upon opening the bag is mint. Very, very strong peppermint. If there is sage, spearmint, and lavender in there, I can’t smell it.
This herbal is a deep golden color, verging on rose gold and is clear. The aroma is minty, but also somewhat earthy which is the sage, I think. In the flavor, the sage is there around the edges, too — not overly strong, which is good because it would have been too savory for me.
I am puzzled as to why this is named spearmint sage instead of peppermint sage, though. I taste more peppermint than spearmint, though the aftertaste is more spearmint.
Like virtually every Samovar blend, this has a lot of complexity, but doesn’t come across as busy. It’s definitely got more and better flavor than many mint blends I have had. The mint isn’t too herby, and it isn’t fake tasting — the other ingredients keep it from being that way.
This also has a very refreshing coolness in the mouth that Samovar describes as menthol. I’d say the feel is menthol, but I don’t get the medicinal Vapor Rub-ness I get from methol, which is pretty remarkable.
I’d definitely keep this around for as long as they blend it. It’s the best mint I’ve had since Refresh, and while I adore Refresh, you can definitely taste the quality in this. Refresh makes an excellent every day choice, but this is something special.
Flavors: Earth, Peppermint, Sage, Spearmint
I normally don’t like rose-scented teas. I don’t even know why I bought these dragon balls but I’ll be damned, the mood for rose struck today. Maybe it seemed like a natural progression from my wake-up cup of some underwhelming gui fei I’m trying to finish off.
Anyway, whew boy is this a sweet tea!
Gone gaiwan. 1 beautiful dragon ball, 150mL, 200F. Gave it a 30s soak and lost track of the number of steeps because I was so caffeinated. 10+ that’s for sure.
The dry ball smells so good, much like cherry and not that old lady perfumey rose scent. The aroma of the liquor matches the scent of the dry leaf and rose petals, never once making me regret choosing rose today. Once the ball opened up about halfway, the liquor became very thick with down and had a wonderful viscous texture. There was some astringency that could probably be somewhat mitigated by keeping steep times at 10-15s (I was doing several rounds of 20 before knocking the time down).
In terms of tastes, I wasn’t aiming for depth of notes today, rather just enjoying the session. Most notable was the cherry-rose, some spiciness and some minerality. Several steeps had a pronounced note of frankincense. Where this tea really got me was the intense! date sweetness that lasted long in the back of the mouth and seemed to also sit in my chest. I’m not normally a fan of super sweet teas but in this one, it just worked so well.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable, incredibly sweet tea, one that would be great to share a session with somebody. The rose petals are beautiful and vibrant in smell and taste, never perfumey but quite fruity. I do wonder if the fruitiness could be attributed to the base tea. I know YS sells it alone but I haven’t tried it. Regardless, the two ingredients work really well together. Another thing to note is these balls are pressed not nearly as compact as the Silver Needles or Moonlight White dragon balls, giving this tea less of a learning curve than those other two. I’m glad I picked up several of these dragon balls and won’t be in a rush to finish the last one just to get it out of my cupboard, saving it for when the mood strikes again.
This was an interesting and unexpected tea. I was expecting a lush, flowery Ali Shan but was surprised by the Dong Ding like toastiness. Turns out I didn’t read the description carefully and this was in fact a baked tea. TTC explains that the Ali Shan competition requires teas to be lightly baked yet still maintain their aromatics. Indeed the fragrance is the most interesting aspect of this tea that sets it apart from typical high mountain oolongs.
Out of the bag, the tea looks and smells like a green oolong. Its got a fruity aroma that reminds me of cantaloupe. Following a rinse, there are new aromas of papaya, almond, roasted stone fruit, and daffodils. The tea begins with a mellow fruitiness and a little oats/grain like nuttiness. Wildflowers briefly appear during the second steeping accompanied by a very subtle roasted note. As it steeps, it picks up a honeyed sweetness and tongue coating mouthfeel. The aroma though is what stands out to me. Normally it would degrade over time but here it astonishingly builds up and evolves during the course of the session. In addition to the notes described above, I caught whiffs of lychee, cooked peaches, and nectar. Even as the tea started petering out around the 4th infusion, the aromatics remained strong and are partly why I pushed this to 8 steeps. The longevity of the aroma was better than that of its flavor.
Though the flavor was different than what I expected, I found this tea enjoyable. For a baked tea, it’s definitely closer to the green end of the spectrum. However, I don’t feel the light roasting added much to the tea. It loses the top notes in exchange for a vague toastiness and some warmth. Straddling an odd middle ground between an Ali Shan and a Dong Ding, it gives a nod to both while lacking the complexity of either.
Flavors: Fruity, Melon, Peach, Toasty
Work – 2:00 PM
Ahh… Time for a relaxing afternoon cuppa.
The dry leaf smells divine. I’m rather partial to good white rice – especially the Japanese variety. It has such a lovely clean flavor, a great plump texture, and is wonderful with salted sesame seeds sprinkled over the top. Man, I really need to get back into making bento for lunch…
Wow, this tea… I don’t generally expect a lot from David’s Tea blends, but this is really outstanding. The oolong is mild, silky, and a touch grassy, with a thick mouthfeel and a light floral note. There’s a tiny touch of bitterness in the aftertaste. But that rice herb… It really does taste exactly like steamed rice. Combined with the sweet and creamy notes, it reminds me of a very lightly sweetened rice pudding.
Of course, David’s doesn’t seem to offer this one anymore. Luckily for me, I see that What-Cha also carries a sticky rice oolong. I’ll have to order some to try! ❤
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Cream, Floral, Grass, Rice, Rice Pudding, Smooth, Sweet
I was searching through my cupboard this morning looking for a tea to complement the weather. It’s cool, overcast and humid today, making it feel a little warmer than it really is. I figured I’d dip into this yellow tea for the first time.
I prepared this gongfu, using 3g, 60mL gaiwan, 195F. Flash rinse followed by 10 steeps, though you could probably get more with attentive brewing.
The dry leaf smell was very rounded with sweet potato, sweet mango, malt and a deep umami that reminded me of soy sauce. The wet leaf scent remained surprisingly strong throughout with notes of tropical fruits like mango, passionfruit and guava, some malt, light cocoa and a faint mint which disappeared early on. The mint made its presence known as a cooling effect more than a taste. Despite the warm notes in scent and taste, this was a very cooling tea. The flavors remained unchanging and reflected the scent of the wet leaf: tropical fruit, umami, malt, sweet potato, mineral and a kind of lightly bitter alkaline taste with a building but not unpleasant astringency.
The amber-gold liquor remained thick throughout and sat heavily in my stomach, making food a requirement. I ended up finishing the session while eating some leftover Ethiopian food which overwhelmed the experience so I was sitting and wondering what kind of food would go well with this tea. Maybe a guava or pineapple cake or a red bean moon cake? Something to bring the fruity notes forward and tame the growing astringency.
I really enjoyed this tea and found it to be a great pick for today’s weather. It’s definitely Yunnan in taste and very different from the yellow tea I’ve tried from Anhui province. I’m glad my curiosity brought me to this tea.
This is one of the oolongs that has tons of reviews on Steepster, with the ratings going from the 60s into the mid- 90s: intriguingly divisive. Which is a bit surprising since one thing must be appealing to almost anyone: its wet leaf smell. There is a lot of things going on with the notes of minerals, asparagus, butter, spinach, broccoli, delicate flowers, green apple, seawater and who knows what else. I could just sit and smell it for hours like a shelf of scented candles in the store (which I am hopelessly guilty of doing).
The taste is delicate and takes some time to develop, especially if one starts drinking it while still piping hot (the instructions recommend 212 degree water). I prepared it Western and it proved to be very amenable to carefree steeping with very little danger of overdoing it.
The taste largely follows the nose, with the caveat that the herbal and green vegetable notes tend to dominate. It lingers and develops on the mouth, leaving a buttery and minty aftertaste.
It is a very pleasant and reliable tea like a genuinely nice and friendly acquaintance. Not the most outlandish, not the most expressive, not the one that powerfully commands your attention but someone that you are always happy to meet and spend some time with.
Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Butter, Flowers, Grass, Green Apple, Mint, Salty, Spinach
Not much of another tasting note, just some additional info.
Steeped in my 100mL teapot with short infusions and more leaf (6g) I picked up on hints of blackberry, banana leaf, violet, cherry, cinnamon and wtf… camphor? and tangerine zest? So. Much. Clean. Salivation. Maybe some more settling/airing out tamed the bamboo shoot, which is a bonus. Hm, I like it more than I thought, especially with more leaf. Doin’ the bump.
I had a little bit of a hard time with this one. The first brew was gong fu a while back, and I got generally squashy and corn impressions with a body that was so thick that the body almost rounded about my mouth in a green bubble. I got some fruity hints, but they were not pronounced until the third steep. I got eight brews last time in my shiboridashi, but the flavor was overall green, floral, vegetal, creamy, and herbaceaous.
The same could be said for the grey today, as it was crispy cool and rainy. A tangerine scented buttery broth and florals named the first long steep of 36 sec, and more flavor was obvious in the second brew. I got something like stronger cilantro and weaker pineapple in flavor, and hyacinth in the faint scent. The third steep had a iris like smell, and the body was much the same, iris, and cilantro. I did a short 30 second next steep, and it was just light, green and vaguely citrusy. The next one was better at about a minute and a half, having more tangerine, pineapple, squash, and a continually fresh herbaceous character. The current steep is thinning out back to the cilantro pineapple combo I described earlier.
This tea can have a great mouthfeel and subtle character, but it has not yielded a particularly powerful cup yet and does not have the staying power of the winter pick or the fall. I have to admit that I need to experiment more with its parameters, but it has not wowed me yet. There were days that I thought it was better than the spring, and days like today that I thought the 2018 batch was better. It’s certainly a good tea, but it is on the subtler end and I think that Mountain Stream has better batches.
Meh, this tasted like a generic Chinese green with soup/broth like characteristics. Its thin, spindly leaves closely resemble a mao feng in appearance and also in the way it steeps. Dry leaf has an incense like aroma. I detected notes of stir fried bok choy, okra, and wood. The wet leaf smelled medicinal and camphor like. This one steeps slower than a typical green tea. It needs hotter water and longer steeping times otherwise it tastes like hot water. After some experimentation, I settled on 190 F and 2.5 minutes. Despite the long steep the flavor was fairly subtle. The first steep produced an almost colorless liquor, vegetable broth like taste with a light sweetness. On the second steep I bumped up the temperature to 200 F and doubled the steep time. This infusion brought out more vegetal character from the tea including notes of zucchini, artichoke, and okra.
Despite the name, there’s little resemblance to a Jin Xuan oolong nor is there any milkiness to the tea. I like my greens grassy and robust. The just wasn’t to my taste and not unique or interesting in flavor.
Flavors: Artichoke, Camphor, Green Beans, Medicinal, Vegetable Broth, Zucchini
I think I like this one more than the MMU01 at the moment. It’s not as sharp, but strong enough and yet somewhat subtle. The mouthfeel is not completely smooth, but it is close. It starts of fruity and relatively sweet, the bitterness arrives mostly in the finish, but in moderation. Aftertaste then evolves from slightly sweet to peppery and vegetal until it becomes more tangy and fruity. The astringency is almost unnoticeable, although obviously there is some in the background.
Flavors: Broth, Fruity, Green Pepper, Pepper, Sweet, Tangy, Umami, Vegetal
More short notes.
Opening the bag, I was hit with a thick cloud of prune, wood and hay. Warmed leaf smelled of stonefruit, earthy, hay and faint woody cocoa. 10s rinse revealed apricot, stewed tomatoes, chard and prune.
The taste of the liquor was completely different from the leaf aroma. It was smooth and viscous, bright, crisp, juicy and tart. Kind of tropical. Starfruit and unripe pineapple, minerals that induced salivation, soft bitterness. Very active in the mouth. Bright and clear lemon yellow to gold liquor with a fruity aroma. Some relaxation and general feeling of well being with a softening of the gaze. Something made me think of the word ‘song.’ My kind of sheng. Want the cake!
Now this is my kind of black tea – malty, robust, and naturally sweet. The dry leaf has an intense brown sugar aroma, notes of toast and sweet potato, and a hint of tobacco. Wet leaf had an even sweeter aroma evoking molasses and balsamic vinegar. The first steep was rich and full-bodied with notes of malt, brown sugar, and cocoa. The brown sugar sweetness became more prominent in the second steep and was accompanied by a touch of earthiness. By the third steep, the tea mellowed a bit and took on a pleasant dark chocolate and malt profile. I western steeped this for 3 minutes followed by two additional infusions of 5 and 7 minutes.
I’ve written about my preference of 2nd flush greens and am beginning to wonder if I have a similar affinity for black tea. My favorite black teas by far have been flavor-forward low cost teas from Fujian and Yunnan. Taiwanese blacks and the “Imperial” grade versions OTOH just don’t do much for me. They are a little too delicate for my taste. This one is an outstanding tea that feels like a steal at $5 and some change for a 50g bag.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Malt, Sweet Potatoes, Toast
This is a tasty and good looking tea. HUGE crispy leaves, with many of them being quite green.
The dry leaves intoxicate you with a smell of tropical fruit, berries, light roast… The wet leaves and the tea itself emit a powerful mineral and roasted aroma, with spice and orchid notes adding some welcomed complexity.
The taste of this pale tea is very cheerful and uplifting: mineral, spice, pine needles, light orchid and fruit. It is sweet but not overwhelmingly so . The taste is fairly complex and over the course of multiple steepings I was able to focus on different notes. Oh, and it also has a nice evolving aftertaste.
It is a great “pick-me-op” tea and came in perfect on this dreary wet morning at work. This tea does not have any apparent shortcomings or weak spots: not everybody will LOVE it but it will be enjoyable for most tea drinkers.
Flavors: Fruity, Mineral, Orchid, Pine, Roasted, Spices
For the second review of the evening, I will be offering my thoughts on another tea I drank recently. I finished my sample pouch of this tea around the middle of last week. I found it to be a very nice roasted oolong, though I must admit I have tried way too many roasted Jin Xuan oolongs recently.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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 cedar, vanilla, raisin, and honey. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of cocoa, char, toast, and black cherry along with a stronger vanilla aroma. The first infusion introduced subtle scents of butter and roasted almond. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cocoa, cedar, cream, and raisin that chased by impressions of toast, roasted almond, char, vanilla, and honey. Subsequent infusions saw dominant vanilla and cream aromas emerge on the nose along with hints of plum, straw, and caramel. There were stronger vanilla, roasted almond, and toast notes in the mouth, though I also noted the belated emergence of butter and black cherry flavors along with new grass, daylily shoot, mineral, straw, caramel, and plum impressions. The final infusions offered notes of minerals, cream, butter, and cocoa that were balanced by subtler straw, vanilla, cedar, and raisin notes.
An interesting and complex roasted Jin Xuan oolong with a bit of an edge, this was a very satisfying tea overall. That being said, I have tried a couple other roasted Jin Xuan oolongs that were more unique and that struck me as offering a bit more depth and complexity compared to this one. Still, this was a very good tea, and I would not caution anyone interested in Southeast Asian oolongs to avoid it.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Char, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Plums, Raisins, Roasted, Straw, Toast, Vanilla, Vegetal
Gone gaiwan. 5g sample, 100mL, 212F, 10s rinse followed by 10 steeps.
Spring 2017. Dry leaf smelled of roast, honey crystals and cocoa. Warmed leaf became brown toast, coffee and honey. A 10s rinse brought out a whiff of orchid with an undertone of orange. The tea started off very fragrant, thick, oily and strong in the mouth with tastes of roast, wood, orchid, vanilla, honey crystals, cocoa, unplaced spice and savoriness in an alkaline mineral way. Verdant claims this to be a very fruity tea with a note of juicy orange. The orange seemed more like an impression, a bright base note with some sourness that carried through all the way to the end. By the fourth steep the flavors really mellowed out, leaving a smooth brew that was still bright in the mouth with some fleeting maple and caramel, and butter and popcorn showing up on the finish. Reminded me of the Jelly Belly buttered popcorn jelly beans though obviously not as in-your-face.
The roast is still strong at the time of this review, so the tea would benefit from longer resting. After the initial delivery of all that sweet orchid, the tea mellowed out nicely. The liquor had a great fragrance, mouthfeel, minerality and level of astringency but there were points mid-session where I felt something was lacking. It’s a good tea but the price doesn’t justify a larger purchase.
Received this a freebie with one of my many What-Cha orders over the summer. Thank you.
November 2017 harvest. I prepared this sample western style, using 1.5 tsp to 6oz of 205F water, 2 steeps at 3 and 5 minutes. I regret not having the time to sit down with this tea because it is certainly worthy of contemplation. Its subtleties were beyond my abilities and time. I can say, though, that it was incredibly enjoyable. I remember tastes of malt, almond, brown toast, mace, muscatel, black raisin, black cherry, orange blossom, lemon oil and cocoa, but I couldn’t tell you which were the most prominent of point out the handful of other fleeting flavors that were present. The light- to medium-bodied liquor was refined and smooth, a little sweet with no astringency or bitterness. Warming with a slight spicy bite. It has a lot of similarities to the Gopaldhara 2nd Flush China Muscatel Gold I polished off recently, but I think the additions of black cherry and a clear, bright lemon oil to the flavor profile really nailed this one home for me.
I have a lot of black teas to work my way through over the coming months, but if this darjeeling is still available when I’m ready, I’ll definitely be purchasing a larger quantity to spend some time with.
Nice tea with a medium roast on it. I’m usually not a fan of TGY (especially green ones, but sometimes have trouble with roasty ones as well), but I ordered a few nice sounding ones from FLT. The metallic taste common in TGY is always where they lose me. Until rather recently, I thought that was the result of a fault somewhere in the processing of the tea, but in talking to teafriends, I have learned this is an intentional, often sought-after flavor in TGY. It was enlightening and helped lead me back to giving TGY another try with a more open mind. Based on this tea, I’m sure glad I did.
The dry leaf had a buttery and salty aroma with a bit of that metallic/sour character. Also maybe some fruit, like lychee. After a rinse, the leaf smelled richly fruity, with notes of raisin and honey, and a light sourness. The roasted aroma was surprisingly subdued.
The flavor started off rather light, with fruitiness and a savory brothiness. The finish reminded me of sweet melon. There was some bit of sourness to it, but not the sharpness in the corners of my mouth that I have experienced from some TGY. The mouthfeel was pretty thick, and could also be described as brothy. This tea’s flavors deepened as the session went on – fewer of the high notes. The melon-y finish yielded to more of a sticky, dark fruitiness. The sour note remained throughout the session, but I found it pleasant rather than overpowering.
I am curious whether my palate has changed from the previous time I tried TGY, or if this tea is simply a much better example of the style, and this lighter sour/metallic note is what my teafriends praised. I have a few more TGY from Floating Leaves to try, so hopefully those will help me find the answer.
Flavors: Broth, Fruity, Honey, Melon, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins, Sweet
Since I had to create a template for this tea I guess it is a pretty new offering. It is a jasmine tea with Tieguanyin base. The jasmine is not overboard and this is a plus. However, it does not seem to blend well with its oolong base.
The Tieguanyin in question is quite green and low-oxidation, with a rather herbaceous and floral taste. To my surprise the directions indicated that the water should be 212 degrees and when I followed it the tea came out predictably bitter and sour.
After much of trial I established that if you use water around 180-190 degrees and very short steeps you get yourself a somewhat balanced if not particularly complex drink. And oh, its taste went downhill fast for consequent steepings.
In short, this tea requires you to do a song and dance as if you were calming down a petulant baby. And when you finally succeed and get everything just right your reward is not that awesome. I will not be ordering this tea again.
Flavors: Floral, Herbaceous, Jasmine, Sour
The most interesting aspect of this Gui Fei is definitely its smell. It is very invigorating, sweet and fruity. I could identify hintsof honey, peach, apricot, cloves, nectarine, faint nutmeg and rosemary. Not too dissimilar from a second flush Darjeeling actually. The texture of the liquor is somewhat thin, a little milky and not too exciting. It becomes a bit better in later steeps though. Taste is quite sweet, with notes of fermented nectarines and lemon skin. The aftertaste is fairly sour and a little drying.
Flavors: Apricot, Cloves, Fruity, Honey, Lemon Zest, Nectar, Nutmeg, Peach, Pleasantly Sour, Stonefruits, Sweet
YAY! my small order from 52 teas arrived today – i feel slightly guilty because i really haven’t made any progress on my cupboard lately but i really needed a few more herbals in my cupboard. So i feel like some of the ones i picked up will be finished off before my other teas. I’ll need to do a better review of this one the next time i have it – this time it ended up being largely cold by the time i was able to get to it. However if you consider that even cold i enjoyed drinking it, i’m fairly certain it’s safe to say that this is a success for me. it’s got that marshmallow chocolate vibe going on – creamy and sweet, but not overly so. Thanks Anne!