120 Tasting Notes
I had a lovely Gong Fu session with this tea, whilst visiting my boyfriend down in London. In the cold weather, it was really lovely to just sit with him, drinking really delicious hot tea and get all warm-and-fuzzy feeling… :’)
But yeah, the tea was marvellous when made like this. I was quite surprised by how different the first couple of infusions tasted, compared to my previous Western-style brewing – they suddenly tasted a lot more like a Roasted Oolong than a black. But the more I drank, the more delicious it got. Steeps 3-6 were definitely my favourites.
Incidentally, as well as being initially more roasty, brewing it this way really brought out the ‘citrus’ notes of the tea. When drinking it Western style, I didn’t notice it so much. But a number of the of steeps were almost like chocolate-orange – so delicious!
I carried on drinking it throughout the day, enjoying its chocolate-y, malty smoothness. Definitely no complaints here! :D
Flavors: Citrus, Dark Chocolate, Honey
Had a pot of this tonight, and it was just as lovely as last time! Again, we used ~2 tsp per person (3 of us, this time), but didn’t brew it for quite so long. I dunno why, but it actually tasted better brewed like this, in one of those Bodum glass teapots with the plastic infuser insert, than it did brewed using a brew-basket infuser type thing.
Probably brewed it for ~4 mins and it was amazing – the spices and the orange came through beautifully, and the tea was malty and smooth and definitely not too bitter. The shorter steeping time meant that this pot wasn’t actually very bitter at all – it was just the slightest, citrussy bitterness that I guess you’d expect, given the tea’s ingredients. It also had a lovely fruity astringency. Delicious :D
(As a result of this brewing, and the fact that I know you can re-steep these leaves/herbs at least three times and them still be really delicious and strong-tasting, without getting bitter, I’ve upped my score to 95. It really is a wonderful tea!)
I won’t babble too much about this tea, but I will definitely strongly recommend it! :D
To me, this is a very seasonal tea and is one that I just adore around Christmas time. When you open the bag and breathe deeply, you just get a wonderful Mulled Wine and Christmas smell that really lingers for ages. The tea itself is really good too – I brew it for a quite a long time (6’), which does make it a little bitter (but honestly just a little), but for me this isn’t a problem. With its delightful huge pieces of orange, whole cardamom pods, peppercorns and bits of apple (amongst other ingredients), the tea becoming slightly bitter just brings out the orange/citrus and really makes the tea almost like Mulled Marmalade. It’s so delicious :D
If you’re brewing this tea for the first time, I’d deffo really mixing the bag up before you take your 2 tsp per “mug” (10-11 oz/300-300 ml) (and I’d deffo use that much). Or, what I usually do, is take 1 tsp from near the top of the bag (full of spice pods and orange) and then one tsp from near the bottom of the bag (full of the lovely black tea and peppercorns).
This is the only chai-style, heavily spiced tea that I’ve ever really taken to. Usually, they just don’t get strong enough for me. But this one is a delight. And it is so festive. If you have access to Suki Teas (I’m pretty sure their website delivers fairly far-and-wide), I would strongly recommend treating yourself to a bag of this for the Christmas period.
Flavors: Apple, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cloves, Spices
So, I’m finally putting a note in for one of the Butiki roasted/dark Oolongs that I bought! I think I’ve tried them all (or at least most of them) now, using Stacy’s Western-style instructions, and am now working my way through Gong Fu brewings. This was the first…
… and it was marvellous! Prior to these ones from Butiki, I’d only ever tried one dark Oolong before (a Dahongpao gifted to me by my boss at the clinic) and the overriding flavours I’d noticed in them all were dried limes (common Iranian cooking ingredient) and dill. Hence no write-up so far – I really wanted to make sure I’d given these teas a full chance, with various styles of brewing, before I passed judgement. I much preferred this tea after brewing in my Gaiwan.
The first comment has to be the absolutely incredible smell of the dry leaves. They actually smell like sweet, dried apples. It’s not just a note or a reminder. They literally smelled like that. It was absolutely wonderful.
I brewed up 6 g in ~140 ml. After a quick rinse, I left the leaves to open a little in the Gaiwan and then did a first infusion for 10 s.
The wet leaves did disappoint me slightly – gone was the lovely, sweet, honeyed-apple smell and in its place was just what I’d come to ‘know’ of roasty Oolongs – dill and dried limes (more specifically, it smelled like slightly less savoury version of an Iranian stew called Ghormeh Sabzi – certainly delicious, but not a great tea aroma, for me). Still, I persevered, poured my tea into my cups and gave it a sip.
Thankfully, it was rather delicious. The liquor was golden brown (darker than I expected given the short brew and relatively low water temp) and had a lovely taste of dill and apples. It was much milder, in its roastiness, than the leaf-aroma suggested. I did another 10" brew that was much the same.
My third infusion was for 15" and I finally found perfection, for me, in this oolong. The liquor was still golden brown (excellent) but had a honey-like aroma and now tasted of dried limes and those wonderful ‘Red Delicious’ apple varietal – rather bittersweet, but so exceptionally flavoursome. The aftertaste was lovely too – a mild lingering bitterness with a honey-like sweetness that sits so nicely on the palette.
The fourth infusion, for 20", was much the same – sweet, appley and slightly bitter. It was so tasty, though, and renewed my faith in Gong Fu brewing as a way to really sit back and enjoy fine teas such as these. It really does seem to bring the best out of them.
Ten minutes later and the lovely, bittersweet, honeyed-apple aftertaste lingered on. Marvellous.
(I stopped after four steeps as I was getting quite full and wanted a break, rather than just continuing for the sake of it. Still, I will renew drinking this tea at lunchtime, where I’m sure it will continue to be wonderful! :D)
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Honey, Red Apple, Roasted
My goodness. What an absolutely fabulous Earl Grey.
I first got to try this at a Coffee Bar (I know, I know – forgive me, tea drinkers) that serve just the most divine espresso-based coffees. They really are something special. But one afternoon, after I’d gotten through a perfect flat white, I wanted to take some tea away, for my journey to London, in my flask.
I asked if they had any Earl Greys and they served me up a little tea-pot’s worth of this stuff. The barista recommended I give the leaves a smell after a minute’s infusing – what a revelation! It smelled so sweet and creamy, with lovely citrussy notes of grapefruits and bergamot. Absolutely sensational.
And it wasn’t all just smell – after a good 3 minute steep, or so, the tea itself was divine. A magical Earl Grey. So sweet, citrussy and creamy. And so light on the palette! This tea wasn’t heavy or overbearing – it was just perfection.
By far and away the finest Earl Grey I’ve ever tried. And, to be quite honest, one of the finest teas full stop. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
(And, on the off chance any Iranians see this, it’s the closest pre-packaged blend I’ve ever found to straight-up Iranian tea. It reminds me so much of the home-made blend that my grandmother made and the teas that the other Iranians we know bring back from their visits.)
(I should also say it’s an absolute steal at only £6 for 250 g)
Flavors: Bergamot, Creamy, Grapefruit
I thought I’d add this tea, both to Steepster and to my Tealog, as it is one we drink a lot at home. Arguably my Mum’s favourite tea, she tends to get the tin out whenever she wants a treat.
Tonight was such a night, after I got invited to interview at Newcastle :D!
And, to be fair, it is a really nice tea! The Earl Grey base is really good (a classic Earl Grey – bergamot, black tea, a slight creaminess) and works really well combined with the Lavender. The latter never becomes overpowering, or at least not at the amounts of the tea we use (~1 tsp per 250-300 ml or so).
A classic! We always have some at home, and I have no doubt we will for as long as Harvey Nichols sell it :P
Flavors: Bergamot, Creamy, Lavender
So, I finally made some time to sit down and really enjoy this tea and I’d like to think it was worth it!
I followed the instructions on Verdant’s site, once again (boiling water; very short, frequent infusions; a LOT of tea (6 g for 140 ml water), including a very quick rinse). I can’t stress enough how wonderful the dry leaves smelled – so floral and fragrant.
The wet leaves were suddenly a LOT more vegetal. The same was true of the first two infusions (6" and 8" respectively). The tea had a lovely jasmine-like aroma, still, and was a pale-gold colour.
Infusions 3-12(and, tbh, it probably could have gone for a good few more, but I really think I’ve had enough for one day…!) were much more to my liking – these were 8-10" until the 8th steep, 9 was 16" (too weak), 10 and 11 were 30" (good) and 12 was 60" (excellent). These infusions were all deliciously floral, light and refreshing. No bitterness at all and had low astringency. In colour, they ranged from pale-gold to, for the later steeps, pale-green.
The latter steeps were particularly sweet and floral, excluding the slightly rubbish 8th and 9th ones (though I only have myself to blame for that – the leaves had been resting for 3 hours between the 6th and 7th steeps – the 7th was great because of all of the flavour retained on the leaves, but I should have ramped up the times a fair bit afterwards. Still, I live and learn). The 7th steep also had a very gentle buttery flavour, which was most welcome. Really delicious.
Definitely glad I gave this one a try :D Now that I have this delightful green oolong to use as a benchmark, in the Gaiwan, I think I can finally set about doing some Gong Fu brews of some of my Butiki oolongs – they all smell so wonderful (though very different) that I’m sure I’ll love them all too.
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Orchid, Vegetal
Well now. What a treat.
I took this along to the Hospice with me this week, as they have an ace filtered water-heater, so I knew I’d be able to enjoy it properly. The other volunteers were really impressed by how the leaves looked and smelled – lovely long, slightly curly leaves with an amazing dark chocolate and baked bread smell. Heavenly.
The brews didn’t disappoint me either. An amazingly chocolatey, bready cup. It has an exceptional, dark, almost savour aroma that so deliciously compliments the golden-brown/mahogany liquor. I got through 3 or 4 steeps before I had to leave (and, unfortunately, had to throw out the leaves, which probably could have gone again once or twice more).
As with the Yunnan White Jasmine, I oversteeped the second and third cups a little (making them a little more bitter than they probably ought to have been). It was still delicious, though, and (if anything) made the tea a little more yeast/bread like, with wonderful honey notes – definitely not a problem! It just reinforced the lovely chocolate-in-the-bakery atmosphere this tea had already conjured up.
I just can’t fault this tea. Marvellous.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Dark Chocolate, Honey, Yeast
I’m not gonna lie – I was super excited about this tea. The updated description of it, on Verdant’s site, just added to everything. When it arrived, it was the first I opened to smell and my goodness – what a delightful smell! So sweet and almost pungent with Jasmine. But it really did (and does!) smell like real blossoms; not artificial, at all.
So, I went and made myself a good mug-full of this yesterday, after receiving some extremely distressing news about an elderly lady I’d grown to love. I needed a good distraction, and something sweet and comforting, and this tea really seemed like it would fit the bill.
After the 30" steep (6g in 300ml, as per instructions on Verdant’s site), I was hit by just the most wonderfully sweet, honey-like Jasmine aroma. And the taste… Well, I was sceptical when I saw a description of bubblegum-like. But it almost is like a perfect, fruit-flavoured bubblegum. Honey, jasmine, vanilla, cinnamon, banana… Just amazing! Though this is obviously a jasmine tea, it’s so complex and wonderful. There’s a mild, fruity astringency, but no bitterness in this cup at all.
I drank another three steeps yesterday (all amazing, though I overbrewed the second and third so they were a little bitter) – they were slightly less complex, but still flavoursome and full of jasmine.
I did another two steeps so far today (2" and 3" respectively) – the silver needle base is more prominent now, with its delicious peach-and-apricot notes. The jasmine is still very much present – I can’t believe how long the flavour has lasted for! I still have the leaves and will probably have a cup or two more with them (and, perhaps, a few more if they’re still going).
My only caveat with this tea is how damn expensive it is hahaha. $8 for 1oz, which only makes 4 lots of brews in this manner, is quite a lot to ask for. I can appreciate that, given how thorough and no-doubt labour-intensive it is, the production requires a fairly steep asking price. But it is nonetheless, for me, a small downside.
Still, it doesn’t take much away from this incredible tea; I’ll just have to make it a treat and really make sure I savour every drop. I can’t recommend it enough.
Flavors: Apricot, Banana, Cinnamon, Honey, Jasmine, Vanilla
Treated myself to another round of this tea today. Just what I needed this morning – I missed breakfast and then had to wait 40 minutes for the bus (which should be every 10 minutes…), meaning I was late to my volunteering shift :(
Thankfully, a few cups of this and a couple of rounds of buttered toast later, all was well. This tea was a really perfect accompaniment for the toast, actually.
I’m also about half-way through my bag of the stuff… It’s still on sale, so maybe I’ll get some more before it goes/gets dear again…!