514 Tasting Notes


Well, I just got an order of samples from Della Terra. After splitting them up with my mother, I decided to try out the S’mores.

I hate to be the one to say this, as it has such good reviews here, but it does not live up to its name at all. Unless you are imagining sitting around a campfire, making S’mores, when suddenly, a swamp monster from near by snatches it, spits it out, and leaves it all soggy floating in the water. Ok, ok, so the description makes it sound terrible. It’s not terrible, I mean, I like it OK enough. I might even drink another cup some time. But it really is kinda like soggy-swamp-water graham cracker with a hint, just a hint, of curdled marshmallow. But I can dig it if my mood is right.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I had this tea this morning, but Steepster was down (for me, at least), so I could not log it then.

I set my timer for 2min30sec as I usually do for this tea, but when the timer went off, I turned it off without taking the infuser out of my cup. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I have these moments sometimes. I estimate that it was another 5 minutes before I remembered the tea, so I can definitely vouch for its lack of sensitivity to over-steeping. It was still a really good cup!

175 °F / 79 °C 7 min, 30 sec

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I haven’t had a lot of black teas. I tried the occasional bagged ‘English Breakfast’ blends before I started buying loose tea, but mostly I drank bagged green teas. I don’t know quite how an Assam is supposed to taste, but based on descriptions I’ve read, I wouldn’t describe this as similar to one. I have Yunnan gold-tip teas from two different sources and I don’t think this tea significantly different in terms of strength and astringency. I’ll have to start expanding my black tea collection in order to make better assessments :)

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Brewed a cup of this tea to enjoy while watching an episode of Merlin with my husband after dinner. It still sits at the top of my current list of favorites. Some teas that I thought loved at first have lost their appeal, but not this one.

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Yay, I’m first to rate this one! All the more special considering that it’s the first loose tea I ever purchased (on january 30, 2012). The bagged teas that I drank before were mostly green teas and I wanted my first loose tea experience to be close to what I was used to. However, it took me a while to fully appreciate this tea. In fact, I left it alone for a few weeks, thinking I just don’t like Sencha. I never worried about steeping times with my bagged teas. I’d just leave the bag in the tea while I drank it. If I didn’t like it, I blamed it on the tea, not on the over-steeping. I followed the recommended brewing instructions for this loose tea, but I wasn’t too fond of the result. As for a second steeping, yuck! The tea kept giving, what I described as a muddy/dirty flavor. I suppose that’s supposed to be the bitterness? I never thought of it as bitter though.

After much research into ‘proper’ tea brewing techniques, I found one that gives me a really good result: Fill my (glazed) kyusu with two or three times as much tea as recommended and steep for 50 seconds with water at 165deg. I finally discovered what Unami must be! yummy <3 I can even get a decent second cup if I steep the leaves with near boiling water (around 190) for 30 seconds.

Going to brew my second steeping now :) …

165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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Still really like this tea. Tried a second steeping this time (1st for 2min, second for 3min). The second cup isn’t as sweet, but the sweetness is still there. I like that it is muted the second time. Although I really like the sweet honey-like flavor, it could be too much of a good thing to have two strong cups of it in a row. I am particular about excess in scent and flavors. I need to try a gong-fu type session next time if I have the time to spend with it.

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I’ve already brewed up three of these cute little cakes, but this is the first time logging it. Puerh is one of my favorite teas, though I’ve only tried some four different ripe and three raw varieties. Of these, I have three favorites and this is one of them :) It’s the perfect size to brew in my Gaiwan; super convenient!

All previous ripe puerhs I’ve tried have been in loose leaf form. I realized after the first time brewing this, that a few-second rinse is not sufficient enough to open the leaves for a good first infusion. I did a 20 second rinse this time followed by the recommended 1 minute infusion. While the cake doesn’t open up fully the first time, it is enough to produce a flavorful cup. I really like the subtle first cup. It’s as if its preparing me for the experience. The next infusion I did for 10 seconds; the liquor becomes super dark almost immediately now that the leaves are open. The third infusion I did for 20 seconds, and it was slightly lighter in color than the second. The fourth I did for 30 and a fifth for 40. I obviously intend to play around some more with exact times. The package suggests 10seconds for all, but I havent tried that yet either. I find the third infusion of my current parameters to be a bit more flat (lacking in complexity of flavor) than the others. Then the flavor comes back. Here is a picture of the first three infusions. The light in the room wasn’t perfect to show the difference between the second two, but oh well :)


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I had never heard of Guayusa before I saw it on the Butiki site. I bought some out of curiosity and also hoping my husband might replace a few cups of coffee with it once in a while. This morning, I brewed it for the third time since I received it, while getting ready for class. I was short on sleep and had a quiz to look forward to, so I thought it would be a good choice. I also had it last week just before bedtime. It didn’t give me any lucid dreams as the rumors go, but it also didn’t keep me awake (it’s like magic!).

It brews up very dark, possibly green, but it looks black in my cup. The flavor is pleasant. It almost tastes like a good evening drink, being smooth, not bitter or astringent, a bit fruity. But the caffeine must have helped because I did not fall asleep in class ^^

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I’m totally loving this oolong. Very generous free sample when I bought a teapot from Enjoying Tea. It smells vegetal in the bag, but very roasty after brewing. I don’t like a strong roasted flavor (not a fan of dark-roast oolong or genmaicha), but the flavor of this is wonderful. It’s sweet and mildly roasty (I do like a pinch of roastiness).

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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Name: Shelley Lorraine Limegrover
Location: Thornton, Colorado

Hobbies: Learning, reading books, math, physics (have a degree in it), literature (have a degree in it too), anthropology, traveling, piano, and drinking TEA, of course (^o^)

Favorite teas: Kukicha, Green teas in general, aged oolongs, charcoal roasted oolong, taiwanese oolongs, Assam . . .

Don’t like: Genmaicha, Earl Grey, Darjeelings, ginger, coconut, smokey teas (even mild ones), nut flavors, overwhelmingly strong floral flavor (esp. Jasmine), most della derra and adagio teas. . .

My Rating System

100 My happiness absolutely depends on it

95 Will definitely repurchase

85: Might repurchase (teas that depend on my mood)

75 Won’t repurchase (but I would drink it again if offered).

65: meh

45: I reluctantly finished a cup.

15: Couldn’t finish a cup.

I simplified my ratings to single numbers rather than ranges because I can’t precisely compare so many teas with a system more detailed than this.

An unrated tea is most often one that I recognize as having significant notable quality, but that does not suit me personally. Sometimes, I leave teas unrated for other reasons, such as I am undecided or I brewed it wrong, etc.

Note: Boiling temp. barely reaches 200 where I am (and a few times it sticks at 195, I assume due to unexplainable shifts in altitude or the position of the moon. . .aliens?. . .).





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