690 Tasting Notes
Happy New Year, Steepster darlings! I don’t do resolutions but I am trying to get back into the groove of writing Steepster posts and/or taking Instagram pictures somewhat regularly. We’ll see how that goes but I have missed it so I’m moderately optimistic.
I’m starting off with a tea that I’m also moderately optimistic about. The flavor sounds delicious and I like that it is caffeine free, but the ingredients include stevia (blegh) and “natural and artificial almond and hazelnut flavouring” (always eyebrow-raising but not inherently disqualifying). I only have one sachet so there’s not much to lose by trying it.
I have to admit, the scent of the dry leaf is a dead ringer for caramel shortbread cookies. As soon as the 206f water hit the leaf, a lovely aroma of warm caramel and cookies wafted up from my (prewarmed) cup. I steeped this blend for five minutes. It has a slight oily sheen on the surface which should have been a red flag but I blew right by that and went in for the sip. My immediate response was “what am I drinking and why”. It certainly does not taste like I expected it to, though not as terrible as that initial response might have you believe. It tastes very fruity and sweet with a strong berry flavor and no cookie or shortbread flavor. That unmistakable stevianess lingers in the aftertaste. That’s fine if you like stevia but less than pleasing if you don’t. This is a perfectly adequate berry and stevia tea. It is not, to my palate at least and to the great disappointment of my olfactory sense, a caramel shortbread tea. But at least I got a Steepster post written about it!
Sipdown! I got this as part of a prize pack from TeaVivre… at some point, I no longer know when. But it’s still tasty! I made this gong fu style on a brisk evening. The first steep reminds me of a savory rice porridge (so, basically, congee). As the second steep cools, I swear there’s a sweet potato note too. I expect to get a few more steeps out of this but it will have to wait until after dinner.
Sipdown! I’m not a huge fan of matcha-added teas because I don’t like the detritus that ends up at the bottom of my cup and the matcha rarely adds much to the flavor. I don’t think it added much here – maybe a touch of sweetness- and there’s the familiar gunk at the bottom of my mug. Flavor-wise, this is more robust than most genmaichas. I can’t pick out the bean taste specifically but perhaps it’s supporting the roastiness of the rice.
Sad sad sipdown. I’ve been out of commission on Steepster for a few months due to some painful tendonosis. I’m still recovering but doing well enough to write out short notes on a phone or tablet. I couldn’t let this glorious tea pass from my cupboard without a proper goodbye. Its tangy mintiness has soothed me through many a migraine, including the one I have now. I have not found an adequate substitute yet for this simple and elegant yet fairly unique combination of mint and high quality oolong. Farewell, my dear.
(I might be feeling a tad dramatic today.)
I don’t have time to enter it into the database, but I just had Cusa’s mango green tea and it is delicious! Hat tip to Oolong Owl for featuring this powdered tea company on her blog, because that’s how I found it. The powder dissolves in cold water better than any other crystallized/powdered real tea I’ve tried. It really was effortless. I like that the serving size is 12-14 oz, because that’s more realistic to how I use these teas – in a rush, often on the go in a travel mug that is definitely bigger than 6-8 oz. The flavor of this blend really shines; it’s like drinking mango juice without the texture. The mango flavor and sweetness are spot-on, not over-the-top or artificial-tasting. Just yay.
Sipdown! This loose leaf was a good office blend: forgiving of oversteeping, flavorful through multiple steeps, and not too picky about temperature. The very bottom of the bag was mostly dust so the flavor was off, but other than the final dregs this blend tastes like strawberry candy and creamy vanilla.
I checked out this company because it was getting good reviews on here, has interesting tea descriptions, and was on sale over the holidays. However, I find this company’s marketing off-putting and unnecessarily pretentious. Ok, yes, the name should have tipped me off, but for some reason I had been reading it as August the month rather than august the adjective meaning “majestic”. The first descriptor on their front page is “Tea so modern it’s like nothing you’ve tasted before.” I was originally going to do a line-by-line breakdown of what’s wrong with their FAQ, but at a certain point that’s just free labor. My point is that the things this company claims are uniquely theirs – fancy blends, seasonal batches, and single-cup brewing – have been around for years and are already being done quite well by a number of other companies large and small. A Quarter to Tea, 52teas, Whispering Pines, and Lupicia come to mind off the top of my head. Meanwhile, a more-than-cursory reading of the booklet that comes with your order (and the website) suggests that this may be a dilettante effort: “Tea is unlike coffee in that cold-brewing does not yield flavorful results.” Ahem. Hands up if you’ve enjoyed a fine cold-brewed tea in the past year. Since the weather is getting nicer now, I might try it out with their own blends just to underscore how misguided this is. If a company is going to talk themselves up this much while demonstrating a failure to grasp or respect the basics, their product better be transcendent.
Ok, I’ll concede that it’s good, but it’s not transcendent. This is certainly no Butiki-level excellence. This particular blend tastes a lot like a sweeter version of Lupicia’s Momo Oolong. That one is a more delicate peach oolong but the blends share a distinctive fruity peach flavor. The lime note comes out in the aftertaste, lingering long after the sip is through. I’m not picking up on the pistachio taste, which is unfortunate since that was what attracted me to this blend in the first place. I am picking up on the white chocolate flavor, both creamy and sweet. As the brew cools, the white chocolate and lime flavors become dominant. It’s a nice combo but not quite what I was expecting based on the ingredients.
Ultimately, I will happily finish off the sample and the others that I bought. However, they are not so good as to override my concerns with how the company presents itself. I am probably not their target audience anyway. The marketing seems pretty clearly directed at people who want to be part of the hip, new thing, not people who are into tea for its own sake.
Sipdown! I actually finished this two days ago but I was unable to write it up until now. This was my go-to peach tea at work. It is not finicky about temperature and brew time, which is a key requirement for a good work tea when all I have is the hot water spout from the water cooler and I can easily get called away from my desk or get too caught up in work to time a steep properly. The peach flavor is juicy and sweet without tasting like candy. It’s more like a drop of peach nectar in a medium roast oolong. I probably won’t restock this – the next Lupicia on my list is the melon oolong – but I would recommend it.