Featured & New Tasting Notes
An Ode to Tea challenge – Z
Another fun challenge idea! I’m not quite finished with the Tea Tournament but I thought I’d start this. Thanks very much, Mastress Alita! So my particular rules for the Ode to Tea challenge is that these teas MUST A) be a true sipdown! last steep session! OR B) be a tea I have never written about yet. So I will have 26 sipdowns OR it will get me to write about a new-to-me tea! I’m also starting at Z and working backwards because I’m already so far behind everyone anyway. :D
This tea is a sipdown! It’s an odd one but tasty and unique. It is the closest thing to being a Ruby varietal, while not actually being a Ruby varietal. It reminds me of the almond nougat in one of those chocolates. It’s really good! WHOA though – seeing HOW EXPENSIVE this is now when I went to see if they still had it. Whoa, thank you again for share, SkySamurai and I’m glad I finished it while it was fresh! Solid three steeps…. now wishing I went for a fourth.
2021 sipdowns: 43
Very juicy and sweet strawberry with a thicker and more syrupy liquor! It’s not quite at the “strawberry soda syrup” level of sweet and thick that I’ve tasted in the past, but it is channeling more of those “Daiquiri” vibes. I get flickers of light, playful citrus brightness from the lemon myrtle in this infusion – I know it’s in the blend but I rarely taste it next to this stellar strawberry flavour so I’m appreciating the relationship of that flavour in connection with the strawberry that I’m experiencing today!
Sipdown! (14 | 218)
“An Ode to Tea” Alphabet Challenge – G
Yay, time for another National Park tea! No idea what eleuthero root or pau d’arco should taste like, but I’ve had some prickly pear-flavored things before, and they’re usually sort of vaguely fruity and tart, but tasty! And almost always fuchsia, ha ha…
I’m really liking this tea! So far, most of the National Park teas have been quite good, which I’m pleasantly surprised about. This has a subtle fruity-tart flavor to it that reminds me quite a bit of rhubarb. And I love rhubarb, so that’s a good thing! Not sure about the other herbal-y ingredients, I don’t get much of an herbal/earthy note here. Bit of hay maybe? The base is very mellow with a soft woodiness. Something is adding a nice bit of sweetness, not sure what that is, but I dig it!
Another yummy one from the National Park collection! Not sure that I need it in my cupboard, since I already have a couple of rhubarb teas. But very happy to have tried it!
Flavors: Hay, Rhubarb, Smooth, Sweet, Tart, Wood
An Ode to Tea, O Entry.
This tea comes from the Kurihara Tea Farm, but was acquired via Yunomi. I don’t have much experience with Japanese blacks, which is probably why I dropped a 20g sample of this into a very long-ago order. My tastes pretty much never agree with the steeping instructions provided with Japanese teas (which always have water-to-leaf ratios that just aren’t pleasant to me) so I disregarded them and brewed the way I usually make blacks (2.5g per 350ml) though I did drop the water temperature down from my typical 205F to their suggested 195F.
The steeped cup has a smooth, breakfast tea malty/baked bread aroma, with a strong fruity cherry note, and an underlying florality, like a wildflower honey. It’s nice! I’m surprised how fruity this black is! I definitely taste that warm baked bread and malt flavor, but very quickly a sharp floral/fruity taste dominates the cup, tasting mostly of cherries, orange peel, and more subtly, rose. There is a very aromatic feeling left on the tongue, which reminds me of the feeling I get when I drink scented French teas, and a mild drying after the sip. Remarkably smooth prepared this way. I sort of expected this is to be a pretty harsh black and expected I’d be using up the remainder of the packet making lattes, but this is perfect as-is.
Looking forward to sipping this down over the next few days!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Orange Zest, Rose, Smooth
F is for…Forged from the Stars
My brother-in-law and I are separately rewatching the MCU movies in chronological order. It’s hard for us to watch them together because typically my sister is home and she has no interest in the MCU whatsoever and refuses to let us watch. However, today was an odd day where my sister had to actually go to work in person so my brother-in-law finally got caught up on the Falcon and the Winter Soldier. We then were debating what to watch so I asked where he’d gotten in the rewatch and he said he just finished Iron Man 2. Same for me so Thor was next and how convenient that it worked out that we are watching Thor on the same day the Thor-inspired blend matches the letter of the alphabet.
Anyways, I brewed a cup to drink while watching the movie. It’s a weird nutty chocolate tea though and I’m not sure how it reflect the God of Thunder. Not really sure where they are going here. And taste wise, it’s cooled a little and is becoming a touch astringent. Alright, a lot astringent which is making the nuttiness come off kind of strange. I have more of this and will need to revisit because this wasn’t the best.
Omg, it’s so good to be back!
Hello steepsters! Helol tea friends! ’
Argh, what a journey it has been.
First, no wifi, no functioning ro.uter, no phone line.
Then the laptop died.
And then, of course, coronavirus.
And then my password to access steepster.
But I am finally here with this nondescript tea. Not t—he tea’s fault
That I left it so long before drinking it.
A strange time of year to be drinking this, I know, but it ticked the box for my Ode to Tea I Entry, and I figure it would be more prudent to drink this coconut tea now than wait longer when it is more seasonally appropriate and the coconut has likely gone rancid by then.
At least the coconut still has a lovely aroma in the package when I unsealed it! Brewed up, it smells like a richly coconut chai; coconut hits my nose first, with an undertone of clove. And that is mostly what I’m getting on the mouth as well. The coconut fills out on the sip first and foremost, with a crispy/toasted coconut left lingering on my tongue after the sip. About mid-sip and toward the end of the sip, I taste the spice — I see there is no clove in this blend, but that is definitely what I’m tasting… perplexing! I do pick out a little of a cinnamon note in the aftertaste left on my tongue.
It’s pleasant. Mostly this is a smooth coconut black tea, it has enough boldness to make this a nice morning cuppa, but it is sweet and smooth, with only a hint of drying after the sip. It is not a spicy tea, but it is a warming tea, and at least here, my house still feels quite chilly in the mornings and evenings despite the nice, warm, clear spring weather, which adds to the appeal of something like this for breakfast. I think it would go nicely with milk, since the flavors seem to fit a thick and creamy sort of profile, so I may try a latte next. I’ve been in a latte phase lately!
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Coconut, Smooth, Spices, Sweet, Toasted
Last tea from the Christmas sampler. Eh it tastes somewhat like coconut that’s on the edge, though I’m not sure if there is coconut in there. It also has some added flavors that evoke eggnog, or at least something creamy. It’s better with milk. It’s quite fake tasting, but I don’t mind it too much. I ended up having a decent time with this one, but wouldn’t really recommend.
I don’t order from T2 anymore, but I also want to complain about the magnetic “erasable” labels I bought from them. I used dry erase markers, but they won’t rub off the labels no matter what I use. I thought they’d be better than the sticky notes I usually use to label my tins, but it’s back to sticky notes for me!
Thank you very much, derk! I wanted a dark puerh a couple days ago, so here we go. Just what I wanted! I wasn’t sure if I should go with two teaspoons here, but what the heck, I love the deepest darkest puerh. The puerh looks like nuggets but the description says “brick” so that is odd. They are VERY slow to unravel like they look like big oolong pieces. I think I have only had a “nugget” type of puerh once before but they looked much smaller than this. The flavor is perfect and smooth. And because they are slowly unraveling the steeps can keep going and going. The steeps were ridiculously consistent – especially if these nuggets held almost the same shape the entire session. But breaking them apart with my fingers, they aren’t really nuggets at all, and should have really expanded into those smaller leaves. To really look like that PUERH DIRT I love. Very odd. This never really happened with another puerh for me before. So looking at the description, it does call them “nuggets”. " The “cha tou” are the leaves that ball up and get stuck together" during crazy compression using a hydraulic press and can be steeped 20 times! So that explains it. Not really any distinct unique flavors, just a very tasty ripe. I do love the variety of flavors derk noticed! Derk mentioned vanilla cola which is probably why I wanted to try this. Sadly, no vanilla cola for me here. And it seems to have mellowed out a ton since Togo’s tasting note. (Togo, I would love read how this is aging for you!) Not distinct enough for me to be a favorite, but I’m glad I used two teaspoons.
Steep#1 // 2 teaspoons for full mug// 26 minutes after boiling // rinse // 2 minute steep
Steep#2 // 10 min after boiling // 2-3 min
Steep#3 // 10 min after boiling // 3 min
Steep#4 // 3 min after boiling // 3 min
Steep#5 // just boiled // 15 min
2021 sipdowns: 40 (This + Teavivre – High Mountain oolong)
Sipdown! (1 | 205)
“An Ode to Tea” Alphabet Challenge – A
So Mastress Alita’s sipdown theme for April is “An Ode to Tea”, and the challenge is to drink a tea starting with each letter of the alphabet. So I’m starting today with the letter A, and this tea sample from a recent swap!
The aroma is tantalizingly apricot, but I’m getting a lot of ginger in the taste. So much that really, the ginger is the main flavor for me, with the apricot acting in a supporting role. So, it ends up tasting quite earthy as opposed to fruity, thought there is a nice tartness from the apricot.
Drinkable, but not something I would choose, not being that big on ginger. But it was fun to try, and yay easy sipdown to start the month! :D
Flavors: Apricot, Dried Fruit, Earth, Ginger, Tart
Pleasantly surprised and impressed with this Chai blend! It seemed really simple/basic when I read through the ingredients list and smelled the dry leaf in the sachet but it steeped pretty brilliantly. Smooth and warming spices with heavy emphasis on clove, cinnamon, and cardamom – in that order for me. I don’t often get into Chai very much, but that’s probably as close to the perfect spice combo that you can get for my personal preferences. Loves that it was deeply spicy with a creeping/building warming note over the course of the sip. Cozy, tasty, and traditional feeling. Great balance.
Thanks very much, AJRimmer! I wanted a cozy tea yesterday, on hopefully one of the last colder days of the year. This fit the idea of COZY wonderfully. Hints of cinnamon, raisin, maybe some other fruit and sweetness. The other fruit I’m noticing must be the dates! And just sweet enough from the fudge pieces. Perfectly cozy indeed. Sadly, I oversteeped the second steep as I was distracted, but it tasted fine. Not much of the nuance of the first steep – this time mostly cinnamon. I like this one! I would buy it. I am WAY BEHIND on reading tasting notes…
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for full mug // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 6 minutes after boiling // 10 min steep
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge – Tuesday, March 30th: National Virtual Vacation Day Tea #1
Thinking of “vacation teas” I guess this was the only one that immediately came to mind. Envisioning Japanese cherry blossom trees! The flavor of this was on point today. Very strong cherry blossom florals with a hint of strawberry. I think it really works best with the first steep being one minute. And I’m planning on a third steep. I think of Japan but oops, the base is Vietnamese and Indian teas. Oh well, I’d go to those places as well. One can dream.
Had some this morning semi gong fu in my Gong Fu 2 Go tumbler. I only used half the vessel, so less than 8or 7 oz in size, but 4 oz in rinse and use for the 3.5 grams.
As a first steep after 35 sec, it was very fruity and sweet hitting its high mark early. Honey fructose, honeysuckle, citrus mouth coat, and then a lingering floral and apricot aftertaste bordering on juicy. I finished it quick. 45, 65, 75, 105, 135, and not much different in aroma or flavor. Later steeps were more honeysuckle and floral, hinting at gardenia, but still citrusy. I could see orange blossom being applied, but it was a hair more tart yet just as sweet.
I feel kinda boring since I did not get as much as I wanted this time around, possibly due to the lower leaf or other parts of the brewing method. I was highly satisfied with the flavor all the while missing something. It still stands out as one of the better Oriental Beauty’s I have in my stash.
Yet again, more to come in the future as I get to know this tea. I’m curious to see what easteaguy and others thought of this one. I liked it a lot more than the Vietnam one and the regular one in the lineup because I think this one is less drying and malty. I feel bad I keep on leaning towards the more expensive teas from What-Cha lately because there are some really great ones that are a lot more affordable. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to recommend these, though I honestly recommend this one because I want to see what people will think. It’s too pricey for a tea newbie and suited more for intermediate drinkers. I’m not sure what an actual sommelier think of this one.
I’m still not sure what to rate this one. It’s in between eighties and 90s for me right now. I’ll probably change the rating in the future. Looking for commentary in the comments!
March Mad(Hatter) Tea Tournament!
Round #1 – Match #14 Yunnan Sourcing – Premium Grade Anxi Ben Shan oolong Spring 2017 VS. Tea Haus – Marzipan
If anything this tournament is forcing me to write notes for teas I haven’t yet. Teas that are five years old. Teas I bought new. I’m glad I sent some of this to LuckyMe way back then, to confirm there is nothing really special with this tea (even when fresher). Which is why I haven’t written a note yet. To my knowledge, I also haven’t had any Ben Shan oolongs before, so not sure what I’m looking for. The first steep is incredibly silky and reminds me of hints of peaches and cream. The second steep is a bit like tamarind while still peachy. I shouldn’t be neglecting this one! This never gets astringent, maintaining a thick quality throughout. It’s soothing and tasty enough.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for full mug // 20 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep#3 // just boiled // 2 min
The Marizpan has SO MUCH flavor and it’s SO OLD. How is this possible? It’s also a soothing cup today. It’s the most actual marzipan tea of any tea I’ve had, both with flavoring and actual almonds that take it to another level. It would certainly win the Marzipan Tea Award. I’d buy this one again, but I doubt any flavoring used today would last this long. (I have a theory that new flavoring, like bergamot or almond, has to be more “natural” these days, meaning not only Less Good and Accurate but also not as lasting when the tea ages.) Another tough call but the winner today is: Premium Grade Anxi Ben Shan
Dry leaf smells like spiced walnuts, pineapple-mango-coconut, vanilla sugar and flowers. Wamring brings out a sweet, creamy vegetal character with spinach, coconut cream, walnut and vanilla sugar. Intoxicating. Rinse brings out a more pungent, tropical fruit character with pineapple, mango, coconut and jackfruit on a spinachy base.
The leaves quickly unfurl. The tea is silky, oily, mouth-watering with salt and other minerals. Complex, rich and evolving aromas, tastes and aftertastes. The strength of the aroma gives the illusion of sweetness, but I’d say the tea is rather mineral-salty and somewhat tangy. Lofty notes of coconut cream, vanilla sugar and rich white florals on a crisp lettuce-straw base change to macadamia and coconut to cream and butter. The aftertaste contains the fruitier notes of the tea. The sweet aromatics blend seamlessly into the aftertaste and when that subsides, the fruitier notes of the tea display with green apple skins and pineapple. Some gentle cooling in the mouth early and later, an impression of sugarcane fills the throat. At the end of the session, coconut and floral vanilla make another appearance in the aftertaste. Burps bring out some of that spinach quality of the warmed leaf.
This tea easily takes boiling water and lower and does well with a variety of brewing methods. I couldn’t stop preparing cup after cup. It’s really that easy-drinking and addictive. The creamy quality of the tea suggest Jin Xuan cultivar to me but I see it’s actually Qing Xin. A beautiful representation of Shan Lin Xi. Thank you, Leafhopper :)
Flavors: Apple Skins, Butter, Coconut, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Green Apple, Lettuce, Mango, Mineral, Mint, Nuts, Orchid, Pineapple, Salty, Spices, Spinach, Straw, Sugar, Sugarcane, Tangy, Tropical, Vanilla, Walnut
March 2020 harvest. A mystery oolong pick that Leafhopper shared with me when we went a little crazy in November.
The dry leaf has notes of spinach, walnut, cream, gingerbread and honeysuckle. This transforms into a very floral perfume with the rinse – notes of lilac and gardenia, plus cream and gingerbread.
The tea is one of the most fragrant unscented teas I’ve ever had, so strong that it’s dizzying — in a good way if I were to find myself in a mood that warrants such an effect — but I couldn’t handle it either time. The tea is creamy, sweet, soft and silky and produces a wonderful mouth-watering effect. The floral perfume lingers long in the aftertaste.
The characteristics of the tea soup point to good quality, but the floral aroma is much too intense for me. I can see why this tea garners such positive reviews here, but it’s simply not for me. This is truly a Jade oolong and for those sippers with a major floral tilt, I would recommend it.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Citrus, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Gardenias, Ginger, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Mint, Orange Blossom, Perfume, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Walnut
Just the tea: I really enjoy this one. The floral aspect and the vanilla aspect seem to be at the perfect ratio to complement each other. The base is not astringent at all and the whole thing just works so well together. Thanks to derk for sending this one my way!
The steeping parameters state boiling for 3.5 to 4 minutes, but I’ve adjusted that and I personally prefer the lower temperature and shorter steep.
I’m getting close to a sipdown on this one, which will be bittersweet, but I have another EGC so it’ll be okay.
Life update: The sun is streaming through the front window and I’m curled into the couch with two sleeping cats working on a lab report and a soil report, listening to Marvel interviews in the background, and sipping this delightful tea.
We quietly adopted a new feline friend for Ivan almost two weeks ago, and she has settled in to our home and life just perfectly. ❤
You can check her out on my story here: https://www.instagram.com/stories/biologistcourtney/2538759965927878811/
It’s fun trying teas local to various people in the tea box. This one is from Montana! This blend is simple, but delicious. It’s a lovely balance of chamomile, lavender, and cinnamon. They got the ratios just right! It’s so refreshing and delicious cold. I did a cold resteep, which was great as well. I’m really happy I came across this.
Tea box sample. The main flavor here is chocolate. It’s mild and pleasant. I don’t really notice any puerh flavor. The chocolate isn’t the richest or tastiest, but it’s nice with milk. I feel like I taste a few spices in there as well. Really, it all goes together pretty well and has a bit of depth I wasn’t expecting. The resteep was decent as well. Before this, I didn’t realize Numi made loose leaf.
This Kabuse Sencha was the best tea from my Floating Leaves order. Kind of ironic that a tea shop specializing in Taiwanese oolong sells a low profile green tea that outshines some of their more high end teas. I picked this one up not only to meet the free shipping threshold but also because I enjoyed the Obubu Tea Farms sample of Kabuse Sencha that Cameron gave me recently. I have no idea whether this is sourced from the same tea farm as Obubu but both are sublime teas.
The leaves are dark green and shaped like pine needles. Not quite as pristine as Obubu’s but still handsome. At least by sencha standards anyway. The leaves emit a deep, sweet grassy aroma that changes to a marine like dashi scent upon being heated. Clear, yellowish green liquor. Wet leaves have a slightly marine aroma as well but it’s more oceanic, like fresh caught steamed whitefish.
First infusion is fresh, crisp, and invigorating. Bright, balanced umami with notes of sea shells and snap pea. Second infusion is similar. Smoother and more buttery with light grass and seaweed notes. Flavor drops a bit over the next two steeps. More savory this time with a slight marine finish and a bit more astringency.
Instagram photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CMari68APv9/
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Lettuce, Marine, Ocean Air, Seaweed, Spinach, Umami
Sipping this currently and finding it quite calming on a day where I’m a bit more stressed and tired than usual – it was a gift from my IG friend Sewwie so thank you for the swap and fun teas!! The flavouring here is pretty mild, which allows much more of the earthy and thick pu’erh notes to come through – it’s a very smooth and clean tasting shou and that robust body compliments the hints of vanilla and darker cherry flavour profile. Love the creamy notes that linger on the finish!
Another FLT oolong that I wanted to like but didn’t quite work for me. It had some nice floral elements for sure, but was affected by an underlying stale taste. A frustratingly common issue with green oolongs, unfortunately. I really wish all vendors packed their tea in oxygen free packaging like Taiwan Tea Crafts to avoid this problem.
Back to the tea at hand. I gongfued this for 6 infusions. It starts somewhat disappointingly with a stale vegetal taste mixed in with flowers and an unusual chamomile note. The second steep though is clearer with more distinct flowery notes of daffodils and honeysuckle rounded out with hints of vanilla and cream. The next two steeps present a thick, lingering flower nectar, the intensity of which reminds me of lily of the valley. The flavor peters out over the final couple of steeps yet retains a candy like sweetness and the odd chamomile note from the initial steep returned.
All in all, this was the best oolong from my Floating Leaves order although that’s not saying much since all of them were lacking. That’s not a reflection on the vendor though. I’ve had good tea from Floating Leaves before. I suspect it has more to do with the quality of last winter’s harvest.
Flavors: Chamomile, Cream, Flowers, Vegetal
I completely forgot I have this tea + I apparently removed it from my virtual cupboard thinking it’s gone. But, opened another drawer today and voilá it’s there.
I need a lots of positive energy. I feel completely miserable in half of semester and that’s why I became completely inactive here, writing only a few lines in comments, but never a full tasting note. You know I feel nothing had some value in life. I am thinking that being in some psychiatric ward would work better for me now than trying to finish the school.
Damn, maybe I am telling way too much about myself.
Anyway, this tea is tart. Cranberry flavoured tartness. As I wrote in very first tasting note. Herbal aftertaste. Honestly not bad. But nothing I would seek for when looking for a tea. But it gave me positive energy back then. Hopefully today as well.
Liebe lässt uns alles vergeben — Love makes us forgive everything. (Quote on tag)
Flavors: Cranberry, Fruity, Herbs, Tart