New Tasting Notes
Measuring this out, it turns out I’m selling most of it, so I steeped up two teaspoons to review before it went out the door. I had to eyeball the two teaspoons because these leaves are very long and wiry. I’m pleased to see S&V selling Bitaco’s teas because I remember someone on Steepster said they are difficult to find. So now there is another source to buy them. I tried this tea a couple times before and I just wasn’t loving the flavor results, probably because I wasn’t steeping it the ideal way or I just don’t love lighter flavored teas. Steeping it this way, I think this tastes exactly like a Ruby black tea – it has a flavor like the almond nougat within a chocolate truffle or marzipan. It’s interesting that the Ruby teas are from Taiwan and this is from Colombia, so it certainly isn’t sourced from the same area. I don’t think I was tasting that it was like a Ruby tea in past steeps, so using this many leaves must cause those flavors to appear. I’m very glad I didn’t steep this many leaves any hotter or longer, because it was a touch overdone like this, though not enough to ruin it. I do like it with this many leaves. The second steep was starchy and had more of a bread flavor. Looking forward to trying the other Bitaco teas!
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for not quite full mug // 17 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 5 minutes after boiling // 3-4 minute steep
tl:dr – This has the same flavor profile as a Taiwan Ruby tea if you use enough leaves.
Interesting tea. I put this in my daily sipper and I got kumquat notes and soon felt a weird feeling in my throat. At first, I thought “Am I getting a cold?” The back of my throat felt funny after I swallowed… Not unpleasant, just surprised me some. So I went to look at the ingredients. Ahhh, there is it… Cayenne peppers.
The heat spreads too as you drink this. It wasn’t spicy hot on my tongue, it’s like a funny feeling in the back of your throat and by the time I finished my first infusion, my whole throat was warm. I also got orange-kumquats-citrus notes, the cooling effect from the cucumbers but not the flavor of cucumbers so much, some sweetness, honey notes, malty.
Interesting tea but in a good way. :)
Flavors: Citrus, Citrusy, Cucumber, Honey, Malt, Orange, Orange Zest, Spices, Spicy, Sweet
I believe this was from the Discovery TTB. I brewed it up at work so not sure of the water temperature, but it turned out well! A smooth, sweet green tea base with a refreshing lemon mint flavor. Mint can be overwhelming, but this blend had a good balance. It reminded me of Tazos’ Zen (one of my all-time favorite grocery store teas!) but I may actually like this one a bit better.
Flavors: Lemon, Mint, Smooth
Swap Sample Sipdown! (45)
This is a very interesting one. The steeped tea has a somewhat grapey aroma, which worried me a little bit.
Luckily, it tastes much closer to raisin than grape. This makes perfect sense to me, since my favorite scones from my local tea house are currant scones. There is also a soft and sweet orange zest flavor that goes quite well with the raisin, which is rather sweet and rich-tasting. I also get a nice pastry sort of note that really sells the scone angle.
I like this much better than I expected… The raisin is very enjoyable, with its dark, almost molasses-y notes. I dig it.
Looks like there are still some tasters in stock… :P
Flavors: Butter, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Molasses, Orange, Pastries, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet
For a cleansing tea this one is surprisingly good! There is a very sharp lemon flavor either coming from the lemons themselves or the lemon peels. I really do enjoy it, and the added benefits of the ingredients helps!
Flavors: Lemon, Lemon Zest
I absolutely love this one. The smell on it’s own is intoxicating enough. Smells exactly like a fresh raspberry bush. It’s tart and fruity, but somehow the yogurt pieces are giving it a nice creaminess. Can’t wait to try this cold.
Flavors: Apple, Black Currant, Raspberry, Yogurt
I got a small box of this bagged tea from the San Francisco Tea Festival. Being a CTC English Breakfast tea, and one that is, well, actually a known British brand, I went all-out tannin-wuss on my steep and only steeped it for a minute and a half. But it still looks a proper reddish-brown color to me, so…
The aroma is like malt, crisp autumn leaves, and a bit like cherries and cinnamon. The flavor of this is actually very nice, the short steep was probably a good choice for me since this isn’t too strong, though I imagine had I left it steeping very long it would’ve tended that way. I’m getting a lot of the notes that were present in the aroma — malt, autumn leaves, and cinnamon spice — but there is also a lot of lemon citrus and burnt sugar. It’s suprisingly good for bagged tea with quite a few flavor notes. The astringency after the sip is mild to medium, not as strong as I was expecting. It isn’t my favorite breakfast tea, but I certainly like this one more than many I’ve sampled, and I’m glad that it has a flavor that I can take plain just fine, at least if I prepare it with a brisk steep.
Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Burnt Sugar, Cinnamon, Citrus, Lemon, Malt
This is rather odd, but I like it. The scent and the taste do not agree with each other – the scent is very savory and smells like something I’d use to make a glaze for pork loin, lol. But the flavor is all sweet candy peach with a hint of ginger and the smallest hint of whatever that savory thing is. It is unique, and rather likeable. The blackberry leaf is not overwhelming to me in this, as it’s a tea you want to drink sweet. I accidentally ordered 4 oz when meaning to order just 2 oz, and I’m not upset about that. I always overleaf Davids stuff, and I did on this as well, but at least there was a good flavor payoff.
Flavors: Candy, Ginger, Herbs, Peach
I didn’t find this one to be peanut buttery at all. In fact I found it kind of flavourless. I got it in David’s tops of 2018, I don’t think I’ll be buying it again. I steeped for about 20 minutes too and still not getting much. It is light tho and almost fruity. Once it cooled tho, the almonds do give sort of a peanut butter taste. Up from 70 to 75 for the score.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Fruity
I bought a sampler of this nine years ago from Adagio, and honestly forgot about it in the back of my cabinet. I discovered it earlier this month, and surprisingly it is still a decent cup. The jasmine flavor is still very strong, which is good because I’m sure the tea itself is well past its prime. I tried an improvised gongfu (teacup and saucer for a gaiwan) for the first time with this today with. Trying to practice the technique with this before trying it with better teas.
It smells toasty, a bit rosy, and delicious!
If they don’t serve this at the Japanese Garden in Portland, it’s a shame. I ordered a box of this based on the concept alone, and I’m glad I did! I love genmaicha, and I love roses. They go great together here. I don’t remember a genmaicha tasting quite this toasty, but I’m definitely a fan.
Contemplate the tranquility of a nice garden while sipping this tea. Mmm.
Flavors: Rose, Toasted Rice, Toasty
One of my guilty pleasures is a cup of Stash’s decaf vanilla nut, so I saw this flavor on sale (never have I seen it before) and I had to buy it.
I’m four cups in and can say it makes a good latte. I haven’t tried it cold or plain yet, but it really works with a splash of vanilla silk and a long steep. I find the flavor a bit weak, but the hazelnut and vanilla are tasty (but subtle) and the black tea isn’t as strong and malty as it could be. There isn’t anything stand-out about t, but I like desserty teas and it is so difficult to find decaf flavoured teas that aren’t EG or chai.
Flavors: Hazelnut, Nutty, Tannic, Vanilla
Continuing my exploration of dry stored semi-aged teas. My sample consisted of a nice assortment of pieces from the bing along with large, mainly intact loose leaves. The aroma of the dry leaf is quite smoky and the compression quite loose at this point. I used 11g in a 165ml Yixing dahongpao clay teapot. A single rinse for 10s, followed by a rest of five minutes to let the leaves soak up moisture. I did a total of ten infusions, the timing for these 15s, 14s, 16s, 20s, 20s, 28s, 45s, 75s, 2 min. and 3 min.
Da Bai is a very sweet tea from start to finish and the full breadth of its flavors consisting solely of notes light in nature. The sweetness keeps building toward the middle steeps after which it gradually diminishes toward the late infusions. At no point did I notice any bitterness and only the final steeping was perhaps a tad dry in its finish. Contrary to the initial smoky scent, there is actually very little of that in the cup. I got some nice tobacco notes in the first steep to complement the sweetness (pipe tobacco according to my drinking partner) as well as some tar and an increasing level of smokiness in the finish in the second, but after that the smokiness was gone both from the nose as well as the cup. I don’t know if those notes are a product of processing, storage or aging.
For the majority of the brews the sweetness is a honey type of sweetness. Not the underdeveloped honey notes you often see especially in young Jing Mai and Yiwu teas and that I absolutely can’t stand, nor the totally credible honey notes you can find in really good Dian Hong, but something somewhere in between. While I’m not a fan of overly sweet teas, this is again one of those raws where the sweetness is quite pleasing to me. In later steeps a welcome fruitiness began to emerge to accompany the honey sweetness. I’d say I picked up some peach or apricot notes in particular.
Interestingly the flavors in this session centered mainly on the tongue in the first couple steeps. Gradually the flavors and activity moved further toward the back and in the third steep I experienced a genuine huigan radiating from my throat. From that point on a heavy chest feel kept on growing and the tea began showing its potency. By the end of the session my muscles felt totally numb, like under anesthesia. While I stopped at the tenth infusion, the tea could have likely gone on, but I was quite full of tea and the cha qi was actually potent enough as to make me not want to carry on any further that day.
The tea has a longer aftertaste than many younger teas and a body that is above average, albeit there isn’t anything interesting going on in terms of texture. While it produces a brew that is light yet also fairly rich especially if pushed a little, ultimately Da Bai isn’t a very complex or dynamic tea. That being said, it is definitely higher quality than your standard factory productions and the potent cha qi has to be noted as one of the highlights for this session.
All in all this was an interesting tea to session. My main motivation to try it stems from the fact that I purchased Yunnan Sourcing’s own 2014 “Jing Gu” pressing blind two years back. Both teas come from the same village, so I was curious to catch a glimpse into how the tea might age. While the tea was enjoyable, I think 40¢/g is quite steep for what it has to offer. You are paying a lot for the age and I think this tea might belong more in the 15–20¢/g bracket. I believe I paid $62 for my YS cake, which I admittedly have yet to try as I’m thinking of giving it a couple more years first. If the two teas are in any way comparable, that is a very fair price. The price has gone up by nearly 40% since then, which shows you why I prefer buying teas young and aging them myself, especially given that I enjoy drinking young teas.
A nice tea, but at this price you won’t have trouble finding better value.
Flavors: Cream, Fruity, Honey, Smoke, Sweet, Tar, Tobacco
I bought a little sampler pack of these with the condition that I finish them before the end of the month. I’ve been considering it for a while so when I saw the sampler pack for $7 in whole foods I decided to go for it.
Mango madness has been my favourite so far. Quite realistic mango flavouring, very creamy and aromatic. The coffee leaf base gives a similar roasted flavor as yerba mate. The juicy fresh mango flavor really comes out strong and it makes a good iced cup or hot (with or without milk).
It was good enough that I’m considering keeping this one in stock in my cupboard. It is low caffeine and I like the company. By providing income to coffee farmers the rest of the year (non coffee cherry/bean harvesting months) the farmers have a more secure yearly income and can afford to have fewer plants (less rainforest cut down) and spare income for food and whatnot. I like this principle and want to support alternative ways of supporting farmers.
Flavors: Fruity, Mango, Sweet, Tropical
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Flavors: Cream, Fruity, Mango, Sweet
I bought these on Amazon a while back and then forgot about them for a long time. I’m trying to finish them up because I still have 10 sipdowns to go this month and only 9 days to get there haha
This comes in a flower shape as a condensed “drop it in hot water” sugar cube. I am drinking it with vanilla soy milk, making it too sweet overall but still delicious. I also appreciate that the company is all fair trade and donates money to clean drinking water in less prosperous countries.
It is advisable to dissolve it in a little bit of hot water before adding the rest of the water or any milk. Otherwise it likes to sit at the bottom and may not dissolve if your water isn’t boiling. It has a strong black tea flavor and some bergamot. I get the floral rose in the aftertaste which is perfect with the milk and vanilla. Sometimes I encounter a stray (tiny) gritty piece of rose petal or tea leaf, but it isn’t taking away from the experience for me.
If you are curious about these instant teas/tea drops, I found the sampler on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca (can’t remember which) and it comes with 5 different flavours. They might be a bit of a novelty, but the tea is good and suits a traditional English method (sweetener and milk).
Flavors: Bergamot, Earl Grey, Floral, Rose, Sugarcane, Sweet
365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 22
Earl Grey time! :D
This one is simple but lovely. The base has at least some Chinese black tea in it, as it has a nice smooth and mellow earthy flavor. I would guess that there’s Ceylon here as well, as it has a subtly astringent coppery note. It’s acidic enough that it’s a bit rough on my empty stomach.
The bergamot is restrained, and it’s in perfect balance with the black tea. The two complement each other well without either overpowering the other. It’s a lovely citrusy bergamot, and the added finger lime flavor really brings out the citrus notes, while also adding a nice brightness to the blend.
It’s really a good one, and a slightly more demure Earl Grey blend that would be perfect for the afternoon (or a lazy weekend morning!). Plus that gold tin is stunning! ❤
Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Citrus, Earth, Lime, Malt, Mineral, Smooth
Prepared in thermos as I was in hurry and I had to leave. So bit unusal review.
Basic green tea, which is almost unnoticable, followed by fresh orange flavour and and little bit of spicy – probably ginger.
For the price it certainly makes the job, warms inside – as there is ginger, but dominant orange flavours which made this tea nice and mellow. Nothing extra, but better than expected.
Flavors: Ginger, Orange
I haven’t been reviewing lately because I’ve been sipping down old teas, although I still don’t seem to have made a dent in my stash. This is the penultimate session of a spring 2018 Dong Ding, which I bought as part of a Taiwanese tea sampler. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The first steep has notes of toasted grain, honey, and mild char, while the second adds cooked pineapple, rock sugar, and roast. While I wouldn’t describe this tea as astringent, the body is drying, with little of the fruit I noticed in the 2017 version. In the next couple steeps, the cornhusk note from 2017 emerges and the honey, char, and toasted grains still predominate. There’s already a faint grassy aftertaste.
As the session moves along, the roast becomes more prominent, the tea gets a nutty quality, and the fruit disappears. By steep ten, it’s mostly roast and minerals.
This is a comforting, easy-drinking Dong Ding that keeps missing being great by a hair. Last year it was fruity but too smoky and astringent, while this year it was smoother but not as interesting. However, it’s interesting to see how the same tea can differ so widely across harvests, and I won’t be surprised to find the 2019 version in my cart once I can justify buying tea again.
Flavors: Char, Corn Husk, Drying, Grain, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Pineapple, Roasted, Sweet