122 Tasting Notes

drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
122 tasting notes

This sample is one I’ve had for a while. I wasn’t particularly fond of it, so I hadn’t taken the time to review it until my newest tea-convert frisfries wanted to start trying tea.
First infusion: 30 sec. A bit salty and smokey, with just an undertone of coffee breath. Maybe a hint of chocolate. I just can’t get over how much it smells like my SO’s coffee breath!
Second infusion: 45 sec. Stronger coffee breath. Still salty. Not a fan, but maybe I could see how others could be? It may be because I don’t like coffee OR chocolate.

Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee, Malt, Salt, Smoke

205 °F / 96 °C 2 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Needed some caffeine, brewed up 16 oz of this baby. Yum!

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Peach Oolong by Tea Licious
122 tasting notes

The dry leaf smells soooo much like peach fruit leather that it is incredible.
First steep of 45 seconds is a little light. It is roasted, but not smokey, just nutty and malty, almost like an understeeped peach black tea. It smells very juicy but the flavor is just vaguely fruity. I think this calls for a much longer steep. I think this would make a nice peach sun tea in the summer.
Second steep of nearly 2 minutes brought out a slight bitterness and sunk the hint of peach there was in the first steep. I’m gonna need some sugar to get through this dark amber cup.
I think I will take this one home for cold brewing as well.
Update: It was dang good cold brewed, but I still think I would prefer it be a peach black tea for iced tea instead.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Peach, Roasted

190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Berry Oolong by Tea Licious
122 tasting notes

The smell of this dry leaf instantly put it in the ’don’t even try that hot’ pile. So I cold brewed it, about 10 hours in all (I would say a teaspoon and a half for 24 oz of water) and it was LOVELY. So much so that I think I may order the full four oz of this, just so I can have it cold-brewed on a hot summer day! It was like a nice reisling without the alcohol. The sweetness of the oolong lingered, just like the wine. Like thin white grape juice without the tartness. Just delicious. Before I hand over the rest of my sample, I thought I would try it hot, just for full sampling effect.
It’s actually not bad hot. The fruit flavor is stronger, and I’m definitely getting the acai flavor, complete with the powderiness I was afraid of from the smell of the dry leaf. The sweetness is less than the cold brew, I definitely prefer this one cold, but it’s not half bad hot.
Two brew with this one, the first (about 1 minute) kinda just tasted like fruitiness over my weird water at home (no doubt due to my ancient stove top kettle). The second (1:30) is when the leaves unfurled and the flavors really came out.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Fruity, Grapes, Muscatel, Sweet

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Rose Oolong by Tea Ave
122 tasting notes

Finally trying this tea because it’s Monday and I deserve it.
First steep, 205F/1 minute: YUM! This is the most true rose flavor that I have had the chance to try. The sweetness of the oolong makes this taste like candied rose petals without the bitterness! Soo tasty! On the beginning of the sip, I’m still getting that bit of custard/papaya that I got from the Magnolia Oolong, perhaps it is the butteriness of the oolong blending with the flowers from both that is creating that flavor. Still excellent.
Second steep, 205F/1:30: A little greener taste, like the smell of rose stems, has creeped in. This tea is still so sweet and flavorful that I feel like I put too much sweetener in, but I haven’t sweetened it at all! The rose + sweet really lingers on your tongue. Minerality is creeping in as it cools.
Third steep, 205F/2 minutes; the rose scent has taken on a slight bitter quality, like rose oil. The base is coming through much more in this steep, and I can taste the sweet vegetal minerality of the fully unfurled oolong, a French green bean/ broccoli stem type of flavor. Still delicious.
I got one more steep out of this at 2:30, the vegetal notes upped in power, but it was till sweet and smelled of roses. Cold steeping this tonight.

Flavors: Candy, Custard, Plant Stems, Rose, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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I think I’m finally getting the oolong brewing parameters down pat. I have had this tea for at least a year now, and this is the first time I’m really TASTING it! I knew the smell was fabulous, dry and brewed, but this the first time I’m getting the caramelly, creamy, sweet notes!
I steeped for 30 seconds and the leaves are only half open. I got a good amber colored tea, with a light-sweet caramel aftertaste that lingers gently in your mouth for some time. The sip is faintly floral, with a creamy mouth feel before coating your tongue in a light honey flavor. So very delicious!
Second steeping of 45 seconds is greener feeling. The sweetness is still very strong but it is beginning to taste more like agave nectar than thin honey. The amber color is deeper this steep as well.

Flavors: Caramel, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Sweet

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Okay, I’ve held off reviewing this tea, even though I’ve had the sample for a while. I just felt that the first time I tried it it tasted like simple green water. Maybe I just don’t get it? I love me some high green oolongs, and I expected this one to be fabulous, so I thought maybe it was just the condition of my mouth that day that biased me.
Well, I’ve since obtained a variable temp kettle and learned to increase my leaf/water ratio, so I’m doing a little better this time around, but not by much.
The smell of the dry leaves is a slightly green sweet of a typical green oolong, with maybe a hint of floral something. When brewed, I finally get the lilac smell, it is definitely lilac, but far away. Maybe I had been looking for the in-your-face pungency of a real lilac bush before?
The taste is just fine. That’s my slightly disappointed reaction. It’s pleasant enough, but my favorite possible oolong character is the lingering sweetness on your tongue. This linger a little, I guess, like I just ate a raw green bean, but is not overwhelmingly sweet. It just tastes sort of like a really thin veggie liquid. I can see how other oolongs I have loved in the past could boil down to this, after many many steepings. I guess I’m just not that impressed, despite badly wanting to be.
There is a slight floral character on the sip when it cools, but not the kind of candied rose petal floral that I so love in floral scented oolongs. I would use the florist’s shop analogy again, but in a more mediocre way than with the Magnolia Oolong. It may also be that this tea must have been picked nearly a year ago at this point. Maybe I will do Verdant’s 5 for 5 again after the new stock has come in.
I will admit that it is getting sweeter (like french green beans now) when it is quite cool. Maybe I will cold brew this and be happier?

Flavors: Floral, Green Beans

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Wedding Tea by Harney & Sons
122 tasting notes

Made at home. Somehow the flavoring was much better than when I last reviewed it. I didn’t get overpowered by the flavors or the white tea base. I must just need to be in the mood. It felt much more like an average, very pleasant tea, one that I would drink regularly when I want something sweet and creamy to not pay attention to.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
122 tasting notes

Wow, does the leaf has a strong scent! From far away it is cotton candy sweet and with your nose in the back it is pure buttered popcorn, maybe a little coconutty.
First infusion: 195 F, 20 seconds. Maybe I steeped a little light (only western style is available to me), but the sensation of the creaminess of chewing on unflavored coconut is filling my mouth! There is a very slight edge of toastiness, like I’m eating a coconut macaroon. Soooo good! The sweetness is not as strong as the Tea Ave magnolia oolong I reviewed last week, but still very present and lingering for a short time.
Second infusion: 195F, 20 secs. The leaves have unfurled now, and I’m smelling a few more vegetal notes, like collards in butter. Overall the whole tea is much more buttery, and the sweetness lingers a little longer. Vague astringency exists as this cools.
Third infusion: 195F, 45 secs. The butter is now balanced with the sweet and vegetal, like sweet cream butter over fresh spring peas. Very flavorful cup.
Fourth infusion: 195F, 1 min. The buttery-ness is fading a this point, but still around. The sweet is showing more of its face, but overall the flavor is simplifying. Oh, sweetness, you are my friend. This infusion is much more like my other milk oolongs. I think I like it more solely based on a familiarity bias.
I will be taking these leaves home with me to cold brew, and will report back.
Update: Cold brewed, this teas smells quite sweet. It is actually kind of strange, since the butter flavor is back, and cold butter, especially when it feels like it is coating your mouth, is not the most pleasant sensation. I don’t know if I will cold brew this regularly, it was good for a few sips, but the 12 ounces I had were too much for one sitting.

Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Peas, Sweet

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Miss Jasmin by Lupicia
122 tasting notes

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I started drinking something other than Sleepytime in my first year of grad school, 2011. Enabled by a few decent local tea shops in a big city, I amassed a small cupboard of teas that I now find harsh and bad (haha, I’m getting in too deep!). With my move back to the US and subsequent geographic isolation from tea shops, I recently discovered the world of online tea vendors.
My cupboard is slowly growing but still small. Regardless I am interested in swaps, if you find something in my collection that you would like to try, ask away! I just can’t guarantee yet that I have a lot of it!
I’m very into Jade oolongs and anything that has a floral character (especially jasmine, rose, violet, and lychee scented things!). Most green teas, excepting the extremely bitter, are good in my book, and again I seek sweeter, fresher, greener types, though nutty/savory teas have their place (as long as they don’t tip over into salty!). I then to shy away from smokey or overly roasted teas and for this reason and the fact that I am not a fan of chocolate, everyone’s favorite blacks and wuyi oolongs tend to fall flat for me. White teas are alright but I don’t tend to reach for them unless they are floral scented. I rarely drink herbals, chamomile and I do not get along, but a basic vanilla rooibos, or some flavored green rooibos’ can be interesting.
In general, it could be said that I tend toward floral and sweet oolong, sheng (as well as moonlight whites and yabaos), matcha, and green teas.

As of now my rating system follows the school grading scale in terms of how well the tea performs and how well I like it (100-90 A, 89-80 B, etc.). Anything above 90 will eventually end up in my cupboard, though it’s fine to keep a B student around for daily drinkers!


Athens, Ohio

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