79 Tasting Notes

80

This is an excellent lapsang souchong black tea that I received from a friend who was visiting Paris last fall. Her hotel served this each day as a breakfast tea. She enjoyed it each morning and decided to bring some home for herself, but wanted to share with me as well.

It has the strong, smoky flavor you’d expect from a lapsang souchong tea, but it isn’t overpowering. It’s milder than I expected, which makes it more appealing to me. After the first few times I tried making it at my usual amounts for black teas, I decided to add a gram extra (7 grams in 16 ounces of water) and steep it a minute longer, which seemed perfect for my tastes.

This is a sipdown that makes me sad, but I will be sure to look for this again in the future. Thanks, Tatyana!

Flavors: Smoke, Smoked

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 7 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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I am at a library conference this week and brought packages of this tea along for the breaks. I’m so glad I did—the teas offered were nothing I was interested in. This has made it much more enjoyable being away from home and my usual tea collection.

Mastress Alita

The tea at library conferences is the same bagged drivel found in restaurants, and I bring my own tea when I go out to eat, too. Steven Smith Teamaker is great though, nice full loose leaf in sachet, I wish it were more accessible in my area… I’ve only found two varieties in my local grocery (the green tea Fez and herbal tea Meadow). I often will stuff my own fillable teabags with tea in my collection and stash them in my purse before going to a conference or restaurant where I know the only option available will be LQ bagged teas. On vacation, I actually pack along my kettle to make tea properly in the room!

teepland

I agree! That was one reason I took the Steven Smith sachets with me this year—I remember the bad bagged teas which were offered last year. If I’m going to be sitting in sessions all day related to database management, I’d better have good tea to make it worthwhile! And I do the same thing with my electric kettle when traveling for pleasure—my wife makes fun of me that my “tea luggage” is bigger than my clothing luggage! :)

eastkyteaguy

I do the same thing when I go out of town. I pack a gaiwan, cups, paper towels, an electric kettle, a thermos, and enough tea for each day.

teepland

@eastkyteaguy: I’m not yet accustomed to using a gaiwan regularly (I brew western style most of the time) but I hope to be someday. When that happens, I’m sure I’ll bring one as well! But yes, I do also always pack my travel mug in my suitcase—even when traveling for work. :)

Mastress Alita

Ah, I feel so much better now about all the space I use up in my luggage on tea paraphernalia now!

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75

This is an interesting tea. This has a thick and velvety mouthfeel, almost like a broth. I think that contributes to the umami character I pick up with it. It isn’t salty, but it reminds me of drinking a warm, salty broth. There are general vegetal notes to it as well—nothing specific, but just a general vegetal flavor.

Overall, I enjoy it but am not overwhelmed by the flavor. It’s the type of tea that I would have to be in the mood for in order to have again, but I can see it being very appealing for those times when I am in the mood for its unique character.

Flavors: Broth, Umami, Vegetal

Mastress Alita

This actually sounds like the kind of tea I’d like as broth for my ramen noodles.

teepland

Ooh, I hadn’t thought about that, but I bet you’re right! My son eats ramen by the case, so I’ll have to take one of his packs and try it. I could see the two working well together—thanks!

Mastress Alita

I can’t use the included flavor packets because MSG is one of my migraine triggers, so I just use tea for the broth instead! Oddly enough there are a lot of very “savory” sorts of teas that work very well for it!

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80

It’s a malty CTC Assam—enough said! :)

In all honesty, though, this is an excellent tea—perfect for mornings when I need a larger-than-usual push into the day. I brewed this with extra water and for less time (3:15) than I would do with orthodox Assam teas since I didn’t want it to be overpowering and it worked perfectly. I can naturally taste the maltiness and the astringency, but there are also notes of wood and even a hint of raisins in the background. Unlike the orthodox version of this tea from Halmari, it’s not toasty or bread-like, but that doesn’t diminish from its quality. I’ll appreciate having this for the busy weeks ahead!

Flavors: Astringent, Malt, Raisins, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec 9 g 25 OZ / 739 ML

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85

Another sample I received in the black tea sampler from Vahdam last year. I got up early today to watch my favorite soccer team (heja BVB!) play in Matchday 29 of the Bundesliga and wanted something to wake me up. I figured that, with a name like “Red Thunder,” this tea would do it!

The sample size was only 7 grams, so I used the whole sample in my 16 oz. teapot, but brewed it for three minutes instead of my usual four. Besides, I enjoy my tea on the stronger side, anyway. I followed with a second steeping for four minutes.

The brewed liquor comes out a nice reddish-brown color, with more red than brown. The scent is fruity—particularly muscatel grape, as expected for an autumn flush Darjeeling.

The fruity/muscatel aroma carries over into the flavor of the tea, which also has a bit of spice behind it. There is also some astringency to the tea, but it could be from the extra leaves I used when brewing it (I normally only use six grams in my 16-ounce teapot). This is a hearty tea—flavorful and strong, with enough caffeine to wake me up.

Overall, this was an excellent tea that I would love to try again. Unfortunately, I see that the vendor’s site shows this is currently sold out, so I’ll have to wait to try it again some other time.

NOTE: my sample shows a date of picking as October, 2016

Flavors: Astringent, Fruity, Muscatel, Spicy

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 7 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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80

I had this one again this morning. I was in the mood to try puer tea once again, and this is the only one I currently have on my shelf. Once again, I could taste the cooked spinach and wet wood flavors of the tea—both of which seem to appeal to me more than the last time I had it. I remember having reservations about this when I first had it, but I would actually say I enjoyed it this time—it’s definitely flavorful! I only have enough unused tea for one more session, so I am going to order more puer tea, but I think I will try another product to compare and learn a bit more about puer tea.

Flavors: Earth, Spinach, Wet Wood

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90
drank Fine Uji Matcha by Naoki
79 tasting notes

Sipdown! I enjoy matcha when I am in the mood for it, but that is so infrequently, and the powder expires so quickly, that it really doesn’t make sense for me to keep it on my shelf. Overall, though, I am still very satisfied with this one! I’d buy it again if I ever get into a matcha kick. Making no changes to my original review and rating.

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90

At first, I wasn’t sure about this tea. The tea leaves are all tightly hand-rolled into small balls, but they took longer than I expected to unfurl in the water. I therefore ended up drinking it grandpa style rather than the Western style brew I had initially started in my teapot.

Once the leaves did unfurl, the leaves were smaller than I expected as well, and looked much more fragile than the firm leaves I’ve found in other hand-rolled oolongs. Closer inspection, though, revealed no stems—my steeping was entirely full leaves (slightly torn around the edges but not broken). That was nice to discover!

The liquor itself has a sweet flavor to it—both floral and nutty at the same time. The floral flavor is stronger than the nutty flavor, but they both are there. It is nuttier than the Tung Ting oolong I drank last week but that adds something extra to this tea. I could see this being a tea that would last through repeated steepings (although I can’t attempt that today).

Overall, I am deeply satisfied with this tea, as the quality shows in both flavor and in appearance. I look forward to coming back to this tea again throughout this spring and summer.

NOTE: The vendor website notes that this shipment was harvested in October, 2017

Flavors: Floral, Nutty, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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85

I’ve had this one for breakfast off and on over the past week or two. I really like the smoothness of the Keemun, which balances the harsh Assam. That combination makes it very drinkable—even on an empty stomach. I didn’t get the upset stomach from the tannins that I normally get from straight Assam.

I can (slightly) taste the cocoa flavor with which this tea is marketed by the vendor. Along with that, though, I also find a stronger flavor of cherries. The first time I had it, I noticed the cherries and thought I’d see if that was a one-off—that something in the way that I made it that day caused the flavor. Nope—each successive time I’ve made this tea, the cherry flavor has been there. I didn’t find the maltiness normally associated with Assam teas, but the astringency of Assam is still there.

Overall, it is a great morning blend—strong caffeine, medium-bodied, and not too harsh. The flavor is different enough from most black teas that keeping it stocked in my collection is definitely warranted.

Flavors: Astringent, Cherry, Cocoa

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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80

I found this tea in the back of my pantry this morning and thought, “It’s an oolong kind of day today.” Last time I had it, I drank it “grandpa style” and remembered it being quite good that way, so that’s what I am doing again today.

It’s still a great tea—I especially love looking over at my glass tumbler on my desk and seeing the floating leaves throughout the morning. I’ve been neglecting oolongs these past few months while focusing on blacks and greens throughout the day—this tea tells me that I have to remedy that going into these next few months.

Preparation
9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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Bio

Husband and father. Professional librarian; amateur genealogist, historian, and numismatist. Soccer fan.

My tea habits generally depend on my mood and the season but, in general, my preferred teas are black teas (especially those grown in Sri Lanka and India) and oolong teas. Unless noted in my review, I brew my tea western style and do not use additives (milk/cream, sugar, etc.).

I am definitely not an expert when it comes to tea, so I apologize if my reviews differ from the experiences you’ve had with any of the teas I have logged.

Please feel free to contact me and let me know if you have a favorite that I have to try! :)

My grading for tea:

100: Perfect.

90, 95: Excellent.

80, 85: Very good.

70, 75: Good.

60, 65: Okay.

50, 55: Meh.

40, 45: Not so good.

0-35: Awful.

Location

Northwest Indiana, USA

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