1725 Tasting Notes
365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 26
This one is a swap sample from Kawaii433!
I did a gongfu session with this today. Now, let me preface this by saying that I am an absolute gongfu novice. I’ve done one or two sessions previously, and even that was multiple years ago. But I’ve been enjoying oolong quite a bit lately, and I’ve been very inspired by the notes of my fellow Steepsters! So I bought an inexpensive gaiwan from Amazon and decided to get my feet wet.
I was a bit confused by the instructions on Mandala’s website, as they have two different steep time recommendations, and the tea volume is 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces, which isn’t very useful for gongfu. So I also looked at TeaVivre’s instructions and sort of made the rest up…
I did a 10s rinse, which I actually did drink. The rinse and the first couple of steeps had some surprising tropical mango and pineapple flavors that I really enjoyed. There were also light mineral and vegetal notes, and even a touch of coconut. The aroma throughout all of the steeps was very creamy and buttery with strong fruity tones.
Around the third steep, the tropical fruits transitioned to a juicy peach flavor, which is more in line with what I would expect from a Taiwanese oolong. In some steeps, it was a bit closer to nectarine. There were constant notes of grass and leaves throughout, as well as a light creaminess and lasting fruity aftertaste. In some of the later steeps, I was surprised to find a sencha-like umami seaweed note. There was also a honeysuckle-like floral note that was very light in early steeps, then gained strength near the middle before tapering off for the later steeps.
The overall flavor started to wane a bit during the last couple of steeps, but I likely could have gone for a few more before it faded entirely. I was surprised to not find a ton of creamy or buttery flavor here, but it’s entirely possible that was due to my parameters.
I will say, I think my steeping parameters were likely not very good, because I got quite a bit of astringency in the middle of the session. So I likely should have gone with smaller time increases between steeps. I’ll remember for next time! Luckily, Kawaii was very generous with her sample, so I have enough to try this one Western-style as well. I’m going to hold off on a rating until then.
7g – 120ml – 190°F – 10/25/35/45/60/75/90/120/150/180s
ETA: I also cold-brewed the spent leaves for a day or so, which resulted in a lovely mellow and refreshing peachy beverage!
Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Coconut, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Honeysuckle, Mango, Mineral, Peach, Pineapple, Seaweed, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tropical, Umami, Vegetal
Sample Sipdown! (57)
This smells like a maple bomb, and I am so excited because of it! Maple is one of my very favorite flavors, and it’s often too subtle for me in tea. This is like sniffing a bottle of pancake syrup…
Hmm… I’m not sure how I feel about this one. There is a nice amount of maple, which makes me very happy. There is also a nice amount of bergamot, which normally I also enjoy.
But I’m sipping on it and trying to decide whether I like the combination or not. I will say, I don’t taste the rooibos at all, only the black tea part of the base. It’s somewhat tannic and seems like a generic Assam.
I am definitely wishing that I got more creamy vanilla here, I think that would really help to tie the bergamot and maple together in a London-Fog-with-maple sort of way. As-is, I feel it’s perhaps slightly discordant?
That’s not to say I don’t like it, but I’m not sure I like it enough to drink it again.
Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Maple, Pancake Syrup, Sweet, Tannic
Sample Sipdown! (56)
I’m not sure what it is with me and banana teas lately. I’ve gone bananas for bananas! But seriously, I keep reaching for them…
This one is pretty good. The banana flavor is somewhat authentic and somewhat Runt-y – I think it’s possibly really banana Runt flavor and there’s some cream or vanilla that’s helping it out a bit. There’s a nice buttery flavor as well.
I do absolutely get walnut or pecan notes, which is surprising to me. I feel like nut notes in tea are almost always the marzipan-y almond extract kind, which to me doesn’t really taste like nuts. And perhaps there’s a hint of cinnamon here?
There is some sort of weird artificial or chemical flavor though, I’m not sure if it’s the banana Runts combining with walnut in a weird way. It almost tastes plastic-y if that makes sense? But it’s very mild and doesn’t detract too much from the cup.
Overall, it’s pretty good. Obviously Anne’s Banana Pancakes tea has ruined me for all other banana teas now… How cruel! :P
Flavors: Artificial, Banana, Butter, Candy, Cinnamon, Cream, Malt, Nuts, Smooth, Walnut
365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 24
Sample Sipdown! (55)
This is absolutely my favorite so far from August Uncommon.
The base tea is smooth and a bit malty with some bread notes. The apple is crisp and refreshing – definitely a green apple but not the candy sort. And then the fennel just adds a nice unexpected savory anise flavor that somehow pulls the whole thing together.
It’s like some sort of interesting seeded dark bread, pumpernickel-esque, with thinly sliced green apple on top. Admittedly, that doesn’t even really sound good, but the tea is really good!
I will it’s somewhat savory, and there’s quite a bit of fennel, so not a good choice if you’re not a fan! I’ll definitely be picking up a pouch of this sometime in the foreseeable future.
Flavors: Anise, Apple, Baked Bread, Fennel, Green Apple, Malt, Smooth, Tart
Sample Sipdown! (54)
I lowered the temperature a bit for this based on the suggestion of my fellow Steepsters.
It smells good, with nice buttery cinnamon notes!
I can taste a little bit of the same cinnamon and pastry notes as well, but they’re extremely light. They’re definitely overpowered by the rooibos base.
I may have just been unlucky with my sample, as there are other reviewers who loved this one. Hmm…
Flavors: Cinnamon, Frosting, Pastries, Rooibos, Wood
I think I’m in the minority here, but I really love this one. Even hot, I love it.
The combination of roasted barley and watermelon is an odd one, but I find it very enjoyable. There’s a lovely natural sweetness from the barley here, and for me that goes perfectly with the watermelon flavor.
This is a sipdown of my existing packet of these bags, but happily I just ordered some more barley teas from Lupicia once I heard about the US website closure. So I have two unopened packets each of this one and Pineapple Barley! Hooray!
I’ll have to remember to drink them cold brewed sometime…
Flavors: Candy, Coffee, Melon, Roasted Barley, Sweet
The second sachet from my B&B advent calendar. I had two sachets inside one of my “single serve” wrappers! I also had a pouch of this from my subscription, but ended up selling it to tea-sipper upon request.
I quite like this one, and I’m honestly not sure why. I’m not often a fan of chai, nor am I always a fan of rooibos. But for some reason, this strikes a good balance in many ways.
The main flavors for me are cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and black pepper. And I actually enjoy the pepperiness here, when often I find it strange in tea. There’s also a nice dried fruity note, I suppose representing the fig in the pudding. I wouldn’t call it specifically fig, but it is a sort of sticky dried fruit flavor with honeyed notes. The pepper flavor sort of builds as I continue to sip, with an interesting tongue-tingling effect.
And the rooibos base is nice and deep, with brown sugar/caramel and wood notes.
I’m not sure it’s really pud-ish. But it is a nice rooibos chai with some subtle fruity notes. I’m not sure I would feel the need to stock it, as I’m not generally a chai aficionado, but I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to try it!
Flavors: Black Pepper, Caramel, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Spicy, Sweet, Wood
Sample Sipdown! (53)
I admit, this one is disappointing to me. I expected more pumpkin and more pancake.
This mostly seems like a mild chai. The base tea is very light in flavor, and the majority of the flavor is the spices. There’s a heap of cinnamon, and I feel like I taste clove and anise as well, though they’re not listed in the ingredients. Perhaps there’s added spice flavoring?
The spices here actually remind me of cinnamon-scented potpourri. That sounds worse than I meant it to, it’s just a rather distinct aromatic cinnamon flavor.
It’s a shame, because really the pancake aspect what was excited me most about this tea, and I don’t get maple at all. To me, this is perhaps closer to a crisp cinnamon cookie?
But mostly, it’s cinnamon.
Flavors: Anise, Cinnamon, Clove, Smooth, Spices
Sample Sipdown! (52)
Continuing with more AQ2T samples! This one is a bai mudan with cherry and apple. I certainly wouldn’t think of those flavors in reference to Wisconsin, but I admit to being woefully ignorant on the subject.
I agree with Kittenna that this has some nice melon notes. I assume they’re coming from the base tea, since melon isn’t mentioned in the description. The white tea is light with characteristic oat-y flavor and a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. There’s also a bit of cucumber alongside the cantaloupe notes.
I am not a fan of the added flavoring though. I have the same issue with it that I do with Paris from Harney & Sons – it tastes a bit chalky and reminds me of mixed berry Tums chewables. I’m not sure why I always have this odd reaction to berry flavoring… It’s unfortunate because I really do like the concept of this tea.
I think I’ll withhold a rating, because I seem to have a strange reaction and association when it comes to certain berry flavorings…
Flavors: Apple, Artificial, Berry, Cantaloupe, Creamy, Cucumber, Hay, Oats, Smooth, Sweet
Sample Sipdown! (51)
This one sounded too interesting to pass up – bergamot and blueberry with eucalyptus? I like all of those flavors, I’m just not sure how well they’ll mesh together.
Personally, I don’t think the flavors work together. I do enjoy the combination of the bergamot and the blueberry. And really, the blueberry and eucalyptus could be a nice pairing as well.
But for me, the eucalyptus and bergamot together makes it too bitter and sharp. It’s almost a bit like drinking cologne. Obviously that’s an exaggeration, but I’m definitely not a fan of this one.
But that’s what sample sizes are for! :D
Flavors: Bergamot, Bitter, Blueberry, Eucalyptus, Menthol, Perfume, Sweet