5551 Tasting Notes

79

Had a smooth, calming cup of this last night…

A little weighted towards the sweet star anise/black licorice side of things; enough so that my mom was complaining about the “black licorice I was eating being really strong smelling” from a room over. I thought it was funny that she thought I was eating black licorice, but I mean I guess it’s not that far outside the realm of possibility: I do really like black licorice a lot…

Dewy pear undertones, with a bit of a fresh floral and somewhat creamy aspect to them as well. Probably exaggerated a bit by the white tea base, to be fair. I did think the base was pretty darn masked though.

I wonder if I’ve ever had this one as a latte? I can’t recall ever doing it that way but I suppose it’s possible I have and it just wasn’t memorable. I just couldn’t help but think last night that this one would be a very nice latte.

Song Pairing: https://youtu.be/XZPebI2Er2I

Something sweet, smooth, and soft – perfect for this tea.

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96

Sipdown (340)!

This was a cold brew.

I have to say that this wasn’t the best cold brew ever flavour wise; it was very aggressive and harsh with really blunt, choppy jasmine and hay notes. No delicateness, nuance and calming factor. However I know that’s because of the fact this brew was comprised of all the broke up buds and drugs at the bottom of this tin so I’m not upset about it at all. In fact, it was still a very hard sipdown for me because for the last two-three years this tea has been a serious staple in my cupboard. So, it’s heart breaking to be done with it for a while…

I’m sure at some point I’ll revisit this one or restock in general; but in the mean time I was to explore some of the other Mo Li Yin Zhen options from other companies since I’ve just been really fixated on this one for the last while. It’s totally possible to have too much of a good thing, and I don’t want to reach that point.

So, sad sipdown – but a needed one.

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74

From my last Matcha Outlet order.

I picked this one out because I wanted both fruity and dessert flavour options and this definitely works as both. I’ve never actually tried the Raspberry & Cream flavour but I’ve had the cream versions of strawberry and banana and I really liked both, so I was sure this would probably work well for me too.

I’m trying it for the first time in a breakfast shake; pretty much my normal matcha milkshake recipe, but with a bit less ice cream and some fresh sliced strawberries tossed in as well. It’s not as pretty as the matcha milkshakes usually come out because the red of the strawberries and green matcha makes this gross green/brown colour – but as long as taste is there then that’s all that matters!

- Just a touch artificial/chalky tasting
- I think I was too heavy handed with the matcha
- Otherwise very sweet/creamy with good, bright raspberry notes!
- A touch grassy and floral
- And a slight hint of strawberry

I’ll be sure to try it straight and in just milk as well; I’m very curious to see if that chalky sort of element is the ‘cream’ in the flavour or if it’s just ‘cause I used too much matcha. Sometimes artificial vanilla tastes VERY chalky to me, so I have to at least acknowledge that it might be the flavouring in this even though I’ve never experienced that chalky quality with any of the other “and cream” matcha flavours I’ve tried…

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90

Another custom tea!

So, this is probably the most important tea from my last BlendBee order, and consequently also the tea that I had the least amount to do with. I thought it might be a nice thing to get him to make his own tea – and this is pretty well what he came up with. So, since he really didn’t have any clue where he wanted to start, we very loosely modeled this after DT’s Long Life Oolong blend since that’s one he really enjoys.

Instead of an oolong base, he opted for an English Breakfast black tea because he’s definitely more of a black tea person overall – and EB is fairly close to his all time favourite black tea as well, Irish Breakfast. The of course we added peach and apricot flavour because those are the fruity notes in LLO. Next the nut element; LLO uses almond but instead we chose hazelnut to keep things a little different, and because hazelnut is a bit sweeter in both of our opinions. Then is was time for the other ingredients meant to accent the flavour and provide some contrast – this is more where I stepped in, and helped select some of the ingredients. We chose cinnamon because I thought it might be nice to have a warming spice element to help tie in the nut and the fruit components: cinnamon also compliments peach well and hazelnut.

Then I picked some herbs: nettle leaf because I know it also compliments cinnamon and peach well and I thought it’d add a nice, soft earthy herbaceous quality that would add some depth to the blend. Marshmallow root for some sweetness. Finally, I chose to add thyme. Now, this is the ingredient I was most excited and cautious about: thyme is a REALLY nice complimenting flavour to peach, and I’m personally a huge fan of savory teas. However, I’m also concerned that the boyfriend wont enjoy the flavour of it because it’s SO outside his comfort zone. The thyme is also the ingredient that sets this one apart from DT’s LLO blend the most in my opinion and while the boyfriend may have modeled this one after that blend loosely, it was also important to me for it to be its own thing.

Also – we named the blend Watchmaker’s Brunch; the ‘brunch’ part of the blend being a play on the fact we used a Breakfast tea as the base and the watchmaker part being a reference to the fact that the boyfriend is a watch repairman and LOVES watches.
So while I stand by the addition of thyme for flavour is also allowed me to be able to make this awful pun:

_Every good Watchmaker should make a little thyme in their day for a good cuppa tea._

(BlendBee has a letter cap so I couldn’t call this one Watchmaker’s Breakfast but if there wasn’t a letter cap that’s what we would have gone with)

Anyway now that my explanation of our intentions behind the blend is done, the actual review portion of this tasting note starts here:

First thing I notice drinking this is that the thyme is really strong. I think that’s a wonderful quality because it adds this really fun, unique savory element right off that bat, and it’s almost immediately followed by a smooth, sweet peachy note that contrasts it perfectly! The peach seems sweeter/juicier against the herbaceous thyme and, to a lesser extent, the nettle that also contrasts it. The thyme feels earthier and more grounded against the brightness of that Georgia Peach/apricot combo!

However, as much as I’m swept up by this stellar top note and body flavour combo I’m also immediately worried that the boyfriend is not going to like it. What I find elegant and nuanced I worry will be WAY outside of his comfort zone.

Transitioning out of the thyme/peach and nettle/apricot body flavours, we see more of the sweet and nutty side of this blend – while I don’t think the hazelnut actually distinctly comes off as hazelnut it IS obvious to me that there’s something rich and nutty going on here that adds yet another really interesting layer of flavour to the whole cuppa. I like that it’s very lingering as well, along with a strong lingering peachy note.

The other noteworthy things in the blend are the cinnamon and the English Breakfast base. I don’t think either are really vibrant flavours in this mix overall but they ARE both noticeable as consistent background flavours. The cinnamon is light and warming and adds a very comforting quality, and while it’s certainly a LIGHT flavour it may arguably be the most important because I think it really ties all of the other elements together in a very concise way. It literally compliments every other ingredient in this blend. The English Breakfast is like a solid backbone to the cup! It adds strength and body, and just a hint of maltyness. Also definitely important.

Overall, I really like this one! I think it’s really playfully nuanced and fun, and I like that it’s both very sweet and savory. It came together in a really great way, and I think that the boyfriend should be proud of it! However, I’m still very concerned that he’ll hate it just because of how strong the thyme is overall…

Indigobloom

I love puns :P
What did the baker say to his star apprentice? He(or she) was bred for it :P

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82

Midday pot of tea.

This is one of several Dian Hong teas I nabbed from teabento after their generous offer to send samples to people in exchange for reviews. I tried the last one Gong Fu but this afternoon I’m more in the mood for something super casual/where I wont have to time anything. So I’m having a larger, Western style teapot of this one. I used 3.5g of leaf, and let it steep for about four minutes.

The dry leaf is really pretty for this tea; not as visually striking colour wise as the Golden Fox but I’ve always deeply loved the appearance of tea that’s as twisty and softly curled as this one is. It smells lightly malty, with some stonefruit notes and this also stays true as it’s steeping: warming malt notes with a sweeter fruity element.

Flavour wise, I’m immediately drawn in by how smooth this one is both in flavour and mouthfeel. It feels like drinking liquid velvet; very rich, and soft. I feel like it coats my whole mouth in the most pleasant way. To take it even a step further poetically, it’s not the sparks/fireworks of a first kiss sweeping you off your feet but the intimate and deep, flowing molten lava of a kiss from someone who’s not only swept you off your feet but caught you, and continued to hold you close to them.

Flavour wise, I don’t think this is nearly as chocolate-y as Golden Fox. I mean, you have to keep in mind that these are too very different prep styles but I have a feeling that regardless of how you steeped them this would be the less chocolate-y one. It’s definitely a lot more fruity; a mix of plummy stonefruit notes and more jammy red fruit notes. Red currant also springs to mind. The finish is a little more malty with accompanying wood notes, and the slightest hint of lemon curd. I’m enjoying the mix of sweet fruit notes and more savory/umami woody elements in this tea immensely!

Honestly, so far between the two Dian Hongs I think I might enjoy Golden Fox just a little bit more, but only because I tend to lean in hard to those chocolate notes in a good black tea. Both are REALLY good though – and I think could probably have a place in my cupboard if I didn’t already have so many DH teas on hand already. Plus, I think because they’re so different at least in regard to that key chocolate note that someone could also deeply love one but not like the other, if they weren’t like me and a fan of both of them.

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drank Goji Green by DAVIDsTEA
5551 tasting notes

So, normally I’m pretty neutral about this one. I don’t love it, and I don’t hate it. It’s a solid fruity option for people looking for fruity teas with caffeine but not Yerba Mate levels of caffeine, and it’s refreshing so those are usually the points I focus on when talking about it with customers.

I tried it hot the other day though, and all I could taste was just one very, very specific overall flavour and I haven’t been able to shake how visceral that flavour experience was ever since. So, what’s the flavour that shook me so much? Red licorice.

I don’t know exactly why but ALL I could taste was intense, rich red licorice. It kind of makes me like this one just a little bit more, to be honest.

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.

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98

Nabbed this one as a latte the other day.

I generally have a rule where I wont drink this one at work/outside of my house because it’s my favourite DT blend (that is still sold) so I try to just enjoy it at home, where I already have tons of tea leaf of it. I just really wanted a latte though, and I couldn’t decide on anything else so I caved and got this one…

It was VERY good/rich with intense blueberry notes as usual. However, the milk for the latte definitely got burned/scalded while the tea guide was frothing it so that did change the flavour of the brew overall. It just had a kind of burnt sugar sort of flavour element to it that made me think of creme brulee! A blueberry creme brulee! It was different, but a pretty tasty take/change up for my favourite DT blend.

We’ll call it a happy accident.

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.

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70

Finally getting around to trying this one! I was super curious about it when it was announced; passion fruit teas have really been a favourite of mine this summer and this one in particular sounds pretty unique/interesting!

I tried it hot and straight for my first tasting and here were my thoughts:

- Like 90% of me really liked this one
- It’s medium bodied and smooth
- With a vanilla note that’s like a cross between pudding and custard
- And a sweet, candied passionfruit flavour
- The other 10% is bothered by this weird medicinal quality
- And I can’t for the life of me figure out where it’s coming from

Very interesting, I just wish I could place what in particular is giving me that medicinal sort of flavour/vibe. It’ll be something to keep an eye out for next time I have this one, and if it continues to be present I’ll have to see if tweaking the prep style does anything to improve/fix it or if it’s just a permanent aspect of the tea…

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85

Gong Fu!

Over the last year, I’ve really developed a love for Dian Hong teas and their natural, rich chocolate profiles so when teabento gave me the opportunity to try eight of their teas I loaded up on as many Dian Hongs as they carried. Ideally, what I’m hoping for is to find one or two that I just adore, and to add them to my increasingly large amount of Dian Hong cupboard staples. I mean, they’re just perfect – both for Western AND Gong Fu brewing.

I’m gonna try to stick at close to teabento’s Gong Fu brewing guide for this session and just explore my thoughts on the tea in the moment, following those steeping parameters. As such, I’ve measured out exactly four grams of the tea leaf, and I’m using the closest thing to a 120ml gaiwan that I own – a 115ml one. I also started with a rinse and a rest before drinking, as they recommended. Honestly, I don’t often do a rinse with my black teas unless they’re compressed. I generally just don’t find it super necessary. So, it was a weird step for me…

Steep One/30 Seconds
- The aroma is incredible; already I’m finding myself strongly reminded of rich cocoa
- The Gong Fu set I’m using today is mostly blue teaware, so it is hard to see the liquor
- At least the “true” colour of the liquor
- Top note is definitely cocoa; reminds me of straight, unsweetened cocoa powder
- The body is more malty and just a touch astringent; pleasantly so
- Very thick mouthfeel
- The finish is a LITTLE BIT fruity, but not overly; reminds me of red fruits
- But in a generic sense

Steep Two/15 Seconds
- Aroma of steeped leaf is more a mix of honey/graham/cocoa
- Still very intense/rich cocoa notes but sweeter
- Body is still very malty, but has honey notes to it to
- And a sweet, bread like quality loosely like a French bread fresh from the oven
- Finish goes back to being chocolate like with fruity companion notes
- Red fruits/raisins; very jammy and sweet
- Thick, smooth mouthfeel and round/balanced flavour

Steep Three/1 Minute
- Super rich chocolate notes; almost a milk chocolate flavour now
- Combine that w. the malty body & baked bread notes and it kind of tastes like Maltesers
- With a fruity/jammy finish
- This infusion does have a VERY lingering aftertaste as well; kind of like a scorched cocoa
- Mouthfeel feels a little thinner?

Steep Four/2 Minutes
- Definitely the least nuanced infusion yet
- Mostly a mix of malt and chocolate notes
- With honey and raisin finishing notes
- Sadly, it’s losing its richness a little bit but it’s not too far gone yet

Steep Five/4 Minutes
- Personally, I think four minutes is WAY too long to Gong Fu something
- And if I weren’t following teabento’s steeping guide I wouldn’t be doing it…
- The flavour was fading in the last infusion, but I do think the long steep gave it a bump
- Still remains very chocolate-y, however the malt is pretty well gone
- It’s a little ‘one note’ now?
- It’s a good one note, though!

I don’t know that I’m gonna continue with the session, though I don’t think the leaf is totally spent yet either. I’m just honestly not super sure where to go from a four minute infusion. I definitely think you could keep going if you were so inclined, though!

Overall? I thought this was a REALLY nice Dian Hong, and I greatly enjoyed the session. That said, I don’t know that this particular Golden Needle style Dian Hong is any better than the other ones I currently have on hands so I wouldn’t deliberately stock this one over the other – however, if I was already low and just wanted to restock one in general and I was already ordering from teabento there would be nothing stopping me from choosing this one over another company’s. Does that make sense? Hopefully.

I’m not sure where I’ve landed on teabento’s Gong Fu steeping parameters; the timing is definitely different than I’ve seen from so many other companies; it just jumps up so quickly in time and I don’t know that I’ve ever steeped anything Gong Fu for four minutes – and on the fifth infusion, no less. To me, that’s just Western brewing in a fancier vessel? That said, it’s not like any of the infusions tasted bad! It’s something I think I’ll definitely experiment with on some of the other teas I received from them.

Helena

Oh dang this one sounds good but I don’t think I added it to my order. Oh well there is always next time :D

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This is a sipdown, but apparently it’s a tea that I didn’t have entered into my cupboard so it doesn’t really count as a sipdown numerically speaking…

I’m drink it right now as a hot tea with some milk in it. We’re all out of this one at my store, so this could very well be my last cup of it. I kind of regret not drinking it more often when it was readily available to me on shift because honestly there are some really nice aspects to it. For starters, it’s very creamy/buttery both from the yogurt pieces in it but also from the green tea itself and that’s an element of green tea I actually DO like. Plus, the strawberry is nice for what it is. I mean, it’s very light/mild and pretty artificial tasting but it’s not bad. Combined with the creamy elements, it is pretty Strawberry Milkshake like.

I can see why people liked it; it was accurate to the name without being too sweet/sugary and it’s pretty calming/soothing. Plus, you get a fruity tea that’s not a FRUITY tea. I also see why people didn’t like it; it’s not really as rich as a milkshake generally is so if you wanted richness this would be disappointing. The flavours are also softer, so if you don’t have a palate that can really pick up on delicate qualities or you just don’t appreciate them then this would be disappointing.

I don’t know, I guess what I’m saying is that I probably fall somewhere in the middle on this one? I don’t really know…

This cup is doing it for me for the moment though; to me, this has been a lazy Friday morning and I’m not 100% awake yet, so it’s one of those softer “ease into your day” kind of drinks right now.

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.

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Profile

Bio

Hello;

My name is Kelly. I’m a twenty something tea drinker and reviewer living in Saskatchewan, Canada. I started drinking loose leaf fairly casually about five years ago, and at some point between then and now that ‘fun little hobby’ turned into a serious obsession.

You know you’ve got it bad when you get your hobby tattooed to your arm.

I’m a TAC certified Tea Sommelier!

Typically I drink flavoured blends more than straight but one of my mini goals is to get that ratio to a more 50/50 level. I do a daily cold brew, and have at least (but usually a lot more) two hot cups of tea every day. Naturally I lean towards black or white blends and as of late oolongs but I WILL drink everything; the last half year or so I’ve been challenging myself by further exploring Oolong and Pu’Erh which are the tea types I know the least about overall.

A personal goal of mine has been to do a proper Gong Fu session every week because it’s something I deeply enjoy doing but struggle to make time for. I can’t say I’ve been doing great staying on track with this goal, but I haven’t forgotten about it!

My default for preparation is Western Style with zero additives. The exception to this is matcha which I drink in straight milk with no additives. So unless I mention otherwise you can assume that I’ve prepared my tea Western style without added ingredients/sweeteners.

Favourite flavours/ingredients: Pear, lychee, cranberry, cream, melon, pineapple, malt, roasty, petrichor, sweet potato, heady florals like rose, walnut, and honey, but only in moderation.

Least favourite flavours/ingredients:
Lemongrass, ginger, often Chai spices in general, mushrooms, overly vegetal or marine/seaweed, chamomile, sometimes mango or peach, stevia, saltiness, or anything that reminds me too much of meat that isn’t supposed to taste like meat…

Currently exploring/looking to try: Shou Pu’Erh or Dark/Roasted Oolong, Sweet Potato flavoured blends or straight teas with strong sweet potato notes, and anything with Goji berries. Also, I need to try ALL the root beer teas!

Tea Pet Reference Guide:

Clay Pixiu Dragons: Zak & Wheezie
Clay Monkey: Enzo
Ruyao Carp: Splashy
Ceramic Rabbit: Rupert
Ceramic Horse: Bergamot
Ceramic Snail: Snicket

I also have two real life pets:

A skinny pig hairless guinea pig named Eilert, after Henrik Ibsen’s play Hedda Gabler, and a fancy rat named Wasabi.

Currently I’m employed at DAVIDsTEA. While I’m still reviewing DAVIDsTEA blends I am no longer numerically rating them due to the obvious conflict of interest. Any tea blends you currently see with a numeric score that are from DAVIDsTEA were reviewed prior to my being hired there.

Location

SK, Canada

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