411 Tasting Notes


I’m making a huge mistake by drinking this at my desk today. I really love this tea, but work may not be the best place to drink it.

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I apparently am not a zombie, as I found this amazingly foul.


Good news about the zombie thing, though. ;)

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Yum. Working on a review for It’s All About the Leaf for this tea – it’s really nice. :)

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drank Keemun Huo Ya B by Vicony Teas
411 tasting notes

From my It’s All About the Leaf review, available at: http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/1668/tea-review-vicony-teas-keemun-hao-ya-b-2/

The first time I tried this, it was so smoky, bitter, and strong I couldn’t finish the glass. So I threw the sample into a drawer and tried to forget about it. Then, a few months later I found the sample again, and decided to brave trying it again.

This time, I decided to make sure I used an extremely short steeping time. And it helped, immensely. Now, the smoky flavors have done from trying to remove the skin from your nose to a more pleasant woodsy flavor. Like chewing on tree bark. The brew tastes very masculine and robust. Lots of tannin, lots of body.

I still don’t like it much. I feel like it’s a bit of a bully of a tea; pushy and strong and ready to hit you if you don’t treat it exactly right. Others may like it, especially if you’re a black coffee fan or like the stronger, darker flavors. Me, I’ll reach for something else.

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drank Spiderweb Oolong by Shanti Tea
411 tasting notes

From my It’s All About the Leaf review, available at: http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/1761/tea-review-shanti-tea-spiderweb-oolong/

Spider webs conjure up ethereal visions of delicate pale films of almost nothing. Wisps of white that disappear in the sunlight. Shanti’s Spiderweb oolong initially seems strangely misnamed. The leaves are short, black and twisted, but very tangible and more like spiders than their webs. My sample didn’t have much aroma dry, but once steeped, it almost smelled more like grapes than oolong. Or ice wine. Very sweet. Again, not a quality widely associated with spider webs.

Once brewed up, the liquor is a light tan. The tea doesn’t have much of the typical oolong flavor of other teas, but it’s got a pleasant lightly tannic flavor, and a lovely sweetness on the finish that reminds me again of grapes, or on subsequent steeps of sweet lemons. There’s also a malty overtone to the brew. It’s got a thin, tannic mouth-feel, and here’s where the spider web name is applicable. The tea’s flavor dissipates quickly, leaving just the hint of sweetness, and the knowledge that you’ve just had some nice tea.

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From my It’s All About the Leaf Review, available at: http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/1681/tea-review-teagschwendner-china-yin-zhen-silver-needle-2/

This tea? This tea moved me to buy a tea scale.

I’ve known for a while that if you really want to get serious about making sure you’re able to get good, repeatable results from your tea that you need to watch all your parameters. But I hadn’t bothered to get a scale, until I met this tea.

I got the package, and thought, meh- I can just wing it. So I did. And the tea was awesome. And then my brain finally kicked it and thought – hey, if you can get awesome tea by winging it – what would happen if you actually did it 100% right?? I ordered a scale 5 minutes later.

The dry leaf is very silvery, the large needles are covered with that silvery down that gives this style of tea it’s name. In aroma, it’s got a lot of hay overtones – like summer fields. The liquor is a very light yellow once brewed, with only traces of summer fields. But – the flavor on this tea is where it really shines. It’s got a rich, silky feel in your mouth, and a flavor of newly mown hay and just a hint of honeysuckle for a delicate sweet note on the finish. This is light and clear – not a tea to be drunk with a heavy meal, but a tea to be savored on it’s own or maybe with light fruit. It has almost no astringency, but the very little it does have just invites you to sip more.

Delicate yet rich; smooth and clear. This is an amazing example of a silver needle.

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From my It’s All About the Leaf review, found at: http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/1771/tea-review-special-tea-brew-pink-grapefruit-2/

I really like grapefruit. As a small child, I always wanted my mother to get me those sweet smelling grapefruit bath products from the overpriced but immensely-fascinating-to-children bath product shoppes (whose quality could be told with the extra, pretentious “e”). And as an adult, I continue to gravitate towards grapefruit scented items and grapefruit flavored things. To me it combines the juicy satisfaction of an orange with a little extra edge, that little hint of sour. If a grapefruit were musical, it would not be top 40, but a harder rock, maybe tinged with punk. A Gwen Stefani of No Doubt as compared to the more sweet and Miley Cyrus-eqsue orange.

So, it was with great anticipation that I got this tea sample. I had some amazing luck with the Blood Orange Black from Drink the Leaf (the blood orange – another edgy citrus relative), and I was hoping to repeat it with this tea. The packet I got however, left me a little concerned. The tea was not in an air-tight packet. And when I opened it to sniff, you could very much tell; no aroma other than the glue for the sticker. I steeped my two teaspoons of tea (which did have visible chunks of peel, getting my hopes back up) in 2 cups of boiling water for 3 minutes, and the resulting brew was a light amber color.

This grapefruit? This is repressed grapefruit. This grapefruit was teased in elementary school and ignored at home. Whether the result of exposure to air or something else, drinking this tea is… well… boring. There is no grapefruit flavor to the tea. The tea itself tastes like it just remembered an important appointment somewhere else, and gee, sorry, it’s got to run. There is a slight hint of sweet behind the mild tea flavor, but I couldn’t discern if it was from the leaf or a very light citrus sweetness. A second steep with sweetener didn’t bring out any additional flavor. Either way, I have no other way to say it – I’m disappointed.

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From my It’s All About the Leaf review, found at: http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/1765/tea-review-canton-tea-sweet-osmanthus-flowering-tea/

Flowering teas are a wrapped present. The inside and the resulting tea are always a surprise. The little bundle felt very substantial and almost overly heavy before I placed it in the steaming water. It then began to open, and it looked a little, well, shoddy. Pieces of the exterior tea leaves fell off and the bright orange flower in the center was lopsided. The color palate was gorgeous however, and the bloom filled by glass teapot like a beautiful, if battle scarred, marine creature. After about a three minute steep, the liquor was a slightly cloudy light yellow.

The aroma was slightly similar to honeysuckle, but very faint. The flavor started off tasting slightly creamy, and then melted into a delicate honey and melon, the honey getting stronger and almost toasted as the brew cooled. A second steeping resulted in a more floral scented brew with a toastier flavor. Overall this was an enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing tea.

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drank Geisha Beauty by Sanctuary T
411 tasting notes

From my review at It’s All About the Leaf, found at: http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/1702/tea-review-sanctuary-t-geisha-beauty/

I’ve been working on this review for a month.

Or more specifically, I’ve been trying to start writing this review for over a month, but never get as far as getting anything written down. I’ll open the tin, smell the tea, get my brewing tools ready, and be excited to drink. This excitement will last until I actually start sipping the tea. Then I keep delaying in writing, because I keep thinking that this boring brew can’t be right. So I tinker with the parameters, and try again, or get bored and wander off. Either way, the review isn’t getting written.

The leaf has an awesome scent; peaches blending perfectly with the black and green tea. Brewed, its got a good color, and a nice aroma. But I keep sipping, and when I do, part of my brain is still waiting for yum to come. I tried longer and shorter steeps, a variety of water temperatures and sweetening the liquor. Even still, I wanted more fruit, more flavor and more oomph from this tea. Those with more delicate palates may apprecaite this tea more than I. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a more robust drink.

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From my It’s All About the Leaf review, found at: http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/2074/tea-review-chicago-tea-garden-rose-scented-pu-erh-toucha/

When the average American first learns of tea, then tend to learn about black tea (often Lipton-eqsue types of black tea) or herbals. If they’re lucky enough to start to explore the genre of tea, then the worlds of greens, whites and oolongs come into focus, but the pu-erhs often remain uncharted territory. Of all types of tea, pu-erhs seem the most mis-understood and mysterious teas out there. I often see people new to tea mention that they are scared of them. And, that can be understandable; some of the adjectives often associated with pu-erhs are big, strong, bold words like “leathery,” “earthy,” and in worst case scenarios “fish-tank-y.” I don’t want to drink a fish tank. Ew!

Personally, I’ve only started to stratch the surface of pu-erhs. And even in this small sampling I’ve had some that I’ve spit out, and some that I’ve absolutely adored. So I went into this tea with a very open mind – this one could be anything. It came in cute little mini-cakes smelling vaguely of rose. But it wasn’t as scented as the name suggested – I was expecting more floral On brewing, it steeped at a rich carmely brown – a little lighter than I’d expected. And the flavor was very smooth with a hint of a sweet finish. Not as much of the earthy strong characteristics I’ve come to associate with pu-erhs, but rather a medium-bodied brew. And again, not much floral, either in the scent or the flavor.

This is a rich and soft brew. Don’t come to this tea expecting lots of rose. You won’t find it. But you will find a nice mellow pu-erh. This would be a good springboard pu-erh for those afraid or hesitant to try them.

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I’ve got a lot of interests: sushi, science fiction/fantasy, medieval recreation, cooking (specifically medieval cooking), reading, British science fiction (Doctor Who!), hand sewing and now TEA!!

My favorites tend to be oolongs and flavored black teas. I like highly flavored teas more than delicate ones. Rooibos tends to taste like dirt to me, and hibiscus is very sour to my palate. But I’m always up to try all sorts of things, and will often find things that I really like which I thought I’d hate.


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