111 Tasting Notes
Today is the Eleventh Anniversary since my dog Lotis was rescued. He moved on last year, but I wanted to mark this day in remembrance as I still miss him dearly! What could be more appropriate remembering my Lhasa Apso, than reviewing this yak butter, kang tea—which is made entirely in Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous region. :DI brewed two cups using the same water temperature. The box contains eight sample packs, roughly ten grams each.
The first cup was made just mixing the tea powder in near boiling water. Cup aroma smelled like butter, or buttered corn, and looked like a black tea with a generous amount of milk added to it.The taste was definitely unique. To me, it didn’t really taste like tea. A salty butter cup of tea that was very warming, filling, & quite satisfying.
My second cup was brewed by mixing the Yak Butter tea with a cup of my Lyons Gold Blend (which I previously reviewed). The salty butter aroma was quite dominant so there was less Lyons black tea aroma. The black tea flavor was more noticeable, but still dominated by the butter tea. I may try a longer steep time—5 or 6 minutes next time—to get even more of the tea flavor.
A unique, satisfying cup of of tea that I’m really glad I tried, and have around to savor in honor of my buddy Lotis! :D This is now sold out, as is the sweet variety, on the Yunnan Sourcing US website. I hope this tea is restocked, because it is very good, and I have not seen it anywhere else. Later tonight I will have more Lotus Tea, which I reviewed here:
Lotis will always be with me! :D <3
Cupped & Reviewed: Saturday, April 1, 2017; 2:00-2:30 PM.
I received this tea as a bonus sample in my order from Upton Tea last November. I have enjoyed several first and second flush Darjeelings from the Tindharia Estate over the years, and loved them all. I was glad to see a green Darjeeling tea from that estate, and decided to cup it today. :-)
The sample pack revealed small darkish green, tender leaves with a few spattered white tips, a “fresh Spring air” aroma, with definite gentle sweetness & creaminess. Steeping leaf exhibits fresh vegetal qualities, a gentle creamy nature, and a very light spinach note. Wet leaves (when hot) also have that very light spinach note, but I mostly get a sweetness, and a Spring fresh quality. Cup color is a light straw yellow, with a light vegetal cream character in the nose. Flavors are also light and smooth with no bitterness. It is only on the back of my tongue where I get that vegetal green quality, with light astringency.
For a second cup, I added dry leaves to the wet ones from the previous cup, hoping to deepen some of the flavors. Steeping Parameters: Eleven ounce cup (9 oz water), roughly 3 grams of dry leaf added, steeped for 3 minutes at 180 degrees. Similar but deeper aromas appeared in the dry/wet leaves, and in the steeping leaves. Was that a very light straw aroma in the dry leaf? Such a mild and elusive tea. Cup color was a slightly darker straw yellow, with similar and slightly deeper sniffed aromas. A gently deeper flavor profile: smooth, creamy and vegetal. Swishing and swirling the tea liquor in my mouth—was that corn on the back of my tongue? Yes, if only for a second or two! Very light corn nuances on the back of my palate….how elusive…there and gone! Mild green tea “pucker”, and still light, unoffensive astringency greets my throat.
Finishing the sample with a single third (removed leaves) and fourth cup; 4 grams dry leaf, steeped for 3 minutes (4th cup 3:15 minutes) at 180 degrees. Dry leaves: Fresh “Spring air” aroma, sweet, creamy, light straw notes. Steeping & wet leaves: fresh vegetal qualities, a gentle creamy nature, and a very light spinach note. Medium yellow cup color & slightly stronger vegetal, sweet cream aromas. Smooth, creamy & vegetal flavor, but astringency (& even bitterness—especially in 4th cup with longer steep) overwhelms my palate at times. Despite this, even the vegetal creamy aspects later return and are not forgotten.
Overall, this is a very nice green tea from the Tindharia Estate, even with the pronounced astringency in the fourth cup. Somewhat mild in the earlier steeps (lower temps & steep times), with a decent vegetal, creamy mouthfeel. I am glad I received a sample of this tea to try. A green tea that green tea lovers would enjoy, and a nice tea for those beginning their green tea journey. :-)
Cupped: Thursday-Friday, February 9-10, 2017. Reviewed: Friday, February 10, 2017.
I found this tea last year with a slight hole in the bag which I taped closed, and have been drinking occasionally. After checking my old Thunderbolt Tea orders, I’m pretty sure this is the correct tea. I cannot be 100% positive because the label is missing from the bag.
Dry leaf has almost no distinctive aroma. Wet leaves have a nice green/brown hue which surprisingly still exhibit a somewhat refreshing, somewhat minty, vegetal, and wood-like aroma. Cup color is medium orange, with a refreshing, even (about 50/50) mint/wood-like aroma. Surprisingly still holds a decent Darjeeling flavor: crisp mint, lightly vegetal (maybe asparagus), with woody qualities in the background. Typical Darjeeling bite that I find enjoyable—stays on my palate. :-)
This holds quite a bit of good flavor despite being old. It is from the 2009 or 2010 Darjeeling First Flush season, which occurs in the Spring—April/May. While flavor is still quite good, this tea is old & stale, and only a decent shadow of its former self. I am saving the rest for iced tea, and will review this tea in a future iced tea, Cold Brew Review. :-)
Cupped: Tuesday, February 7, 2017. Reviewed: Wednesday, February 8, 2017.
Sometimes when I drink tea, I buy and drink a tea for a purpose, or in remembrance of something. I was reflecting on a tea review I posted almost 5 years ago, in remembrance of my dog Lotis. I think it’s a good review, & you can read it if you choose.
Lotis, my 12 year old Lhasa Apso, wandered off a year ago today on Super Bowl Sunday—Super Bowl L, 02-07-2016. He was only outside about 5 minutes, before we checked on him, and he was nowhere to be seen. He had back issues and never wandered off. We let him out front, (it was easier for him) and he always came back—until that one time a year ago. It was so hard not getting to say goodbye to him! I still miss him dearly!!
I wanted to find a tea to drink in remembrance of him, so I ordered Serenity Tea Sips: LOTUS TEA. A Vietnamese green tea scented with fragrant Lotus Blossoms. Early this afternoon, I enjoyed a couple cups of this tea. The dry leaves are young, tender, and well twisted. The dry leaf aroma had such a creamy sweetness, with a flowery aroma of star anise-which I attribute to the Lotus flower. Star anise has similar aromatic qualities to—and reminds me of—licorice. The wet leaves when steeping are very aromatic—even more creamy, with a calming star anise/licorice aroma! :D
Cup color is medium yellow, with cup aromas like those of the wet leaves. Not as intense, but very creamy with noticeable sweetness of the star anise-which I feel is akin to licorice, and pleasant nutty nuances. In my mouth there is definite creamy sweetness. Upon inhaling oxygen (which brings forth & further intensifies flavors), I taste the sweet anise/licorice on my palate. This is very relaxing, enjoyable, & delicious!! :-) Flavors are medium in strength, with a similar mouthfeel. Light nutty characteristics are present on the back of my tongue, and upon swallowing. Through it all I continue to savor the anise/licorice flavors, and these flavors stay with me for quite a while. :-) The flowery Lotus qualities are gentle, yet satisfying & flavorful, and not at all cloying.
I added dry leaves to the wet steeped leaves for a delicious second cup: roughly 1 tsp., at 180 degrees, for 2.5 minutes. Second cup steeping aromas & wet leaf aromas were similar but fuller than those of the first cup. Ditto for cup color and aromas. The biggest differences arose in flavors and mouthfeel. Flavors on my palate were still medium in nature; the anise-like flavor of the lotus flower—-as well as the creamy quality—-are slightly deeper, and so is the nutty aspect of the tea. The nutty quality morphed into astringency, which was slightly more than gentle, but not offensive—and this astringency did not distract me from my overall enjoyment of this Lotus tea. :-)
This Lotus Tea from Serenity Tea Sips is very enjoyable and well worth my time! This was the perfect tea to remember my dear dog and friend Lotis! I am so glad we rescued him on that April Fools Day in 2006—no joke!. :-D For nearly ten years, I know I gave him a better life filled with Love & Happiness! I know that HE knew he was loved—and in his way, he returned that love and filled my heart with Happiness & Joy! :-D
Cupped & Reviewed: Tuesday, February 7, 2017.
My Grandpaps would have been 93 today on this Groundhog Day. I miss him dearly! I used to love spending time with him drinking tea and watching British comedies & mysteries. He gave me an appreciation for his music: Big Band, Swing, & some Jazz. He loved Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, The Dorsey Brothers: Tommy & Jimmy, Harry James and Lawrence Welk to name just a few. So I still think of him quite often and all the great times we shared, usually while sipping tea. His cup of choice was Lipton, or preferably the Canadian Red Rose tea, which was/is different, and much better than the Red Rose available on American supermarket shelves.
I am reviewing a tea, that—to the best of my knowledge—he never tasted. Lyons Gold Blend is a mixture of African, Assam, and Ceylon teas. They claim to have a unique process where they extract the flavor from the leaves in pressing, then add it back later for a more flavorful cup. Dry leaves do smell fresh and clean, and many times I do get a bright character—and possibly some wood aspects….as well as a clean & crisp scent from Ceylon teas. I do smell more of the African & Assam teas in the wet leaves The cup color is a beautiful deep brown, with aromas I associate with quality African teas and malty Assam teas. I also smell molasses, which I have only smelled in one Ceylon (the name escapes me) I tried a few years ago.
Flavors are mostly lovely malt, with some woody aspects, but none of the crisp bright flavors or molasses I noted in the aromas. The full body clings to my palate and lingers quite a while, with a deep flavor & no bitterness. I only added a touch of milk to a second cup. The deep flavor was still strong, but the milk muted some of the amazing flavors and aromas noted in the first cup. This Gold Blend is very good with & without milk, but I would usually drink it neat.
Lyons Gold Blend is a really fresh, bold, and delicious blend that is stout without being bitter. Of all the British teabag teas I’ve tried, it has a smoothness & freshness that makes it one of my favorites! :-) I believe my Paps would really enjoy this tea, as an occasional diversion from Lipton. I would drink it anytime, and only wish I could share this tea with him while listening to Sinatra or Glenn Miller. Here’s some of his/our favorites. :-)
Lady Is A Tramp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMDVthcII-c
Luck Be a Lady: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X69P_Vce9vw
String Of Pearls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Qq2AV7Wx5w
Cupped: Thursday, February 2, 2017. Reviewed: Thursday & Friday, February 2-3, 2017.
I received my small tea order from a “new for me” vendor: Serenity Tea Sips. I quickly received my order (on January 20th) through Amazon, but it was shipped promptly from the company in Texas. :-) I only ordered one tea which I will review in a few days, but I was very happily surprised to see two generous tea samples of at least one ounce each, packaged to keep the tea fresh when not in use.
I’ve only tried black lychee tea from Stash Tea many years ago, which I really enjoyed, so Green Lychee tea seemed like an interesting combination. Upon opening the bag, I could smell the sweetness of the lychee, and the dry leaf about equally. The aroma was very pleasing, and suddenly I realized how I had missed lychee flavored tea. I was trying to determine the possible green tea used in the blend, but couldn’t. Wet leaves were more aromatic, and the lychee was more noticeable than the green tea. Lychee has it’s own unique aroma, but what did the lychee aroma compare to? Maybe nothing. Cup aroma was very sweet with a nice discernible green tea aroma.
As I was sipping the tea, the tea base came to me. The green leaf looked & tasted like a Chun Mee tea, which I haven’t sipped in a very long time, but remembered fondly. Chun Mee is a very good, pleasant tasting green that from memory was very forgiving when steeping. Yes—very tasty, light to medium mouth feel, with a non bitter quality that makes it delicious and drinkable. :-) Taste seemed lighter than I had hoped, and the lychee was quite noticeable without masking the tea.
I decided to add more dry leaf to the existing steeped leaves for a second cup; water 195 degrees, & steeped 3:45 minutes. Smelling the wet & dry leaves together in my brew basket, the lychee possessed sweet spearmint qualities! I was very surprised, and I think the green tea base lent to that aromatic quality somehow! :-) The lychee aroma in a china black tea base is quite different for sure. Cup color is much darker & the aromas from the cup are more noticeable—a balanced green tea, fruity combination. Mouthfeel is definitely medium now. The green tea so satisfying—clinging to my palate, while the lychee follows with a mild “minty” sweetness. After swallowing, the tea flavor stays on my palate and tongue (at the back of my throat), and even the lychee flavoring, gives a final bow, leaving me completely satisfied.
Green Lychee is a really nice, pleasant, & well blended tea. I really savor the lychee flavor, and the tea base is just right and not bitter (to me), even when drinking the second cup. The flavors work so well together. Thanks to Serenity Tea Sips for this generous sample, and a great first time tea experience. I am really looking forward to the rest of my tea! :-)
Cupped & Reviewed: Thursday, February 2, 2017.
I really love pearl teas and flowering teas! Teas that offer levels of enjoyment visually and in taste, from the first cup to the last! This is a unique tea that I’m glad I purchased from Upton Tea about two months ago. I prepared this tea over two days using two methods with my Bonjour glass tea press (18-20 oz).
These Shai Zhen Zhu Shou Mei Pearls are huge; about the size of a large marble or Super Ball. I tried gongfu brewing for this tea first, each cup being roughly 7 oz each, while I gradually increased steep time & temperature. Cup #1: Water about 185 degrees, 1.5 minute steep time. The tea pearl barely began to unfurl, emitting a lightly sweet aroma, and an equally light nut/fruit aroma. Wet leaf aroma was very toasty, woody and roasty in nature, cooling to reveal more melon aromatics—like ripe cantaloupe. Cup color was a very light ecru, with a gentle, sweet aroma. Tea flavor is sweet, gentle with hints of the woods & melon-very slight.
Cup #2: 200 degrees, steeped for two minutes; the tea pearl half unfurled. The best aroma in wet leaves—again, very toasty, woody and roasted, cooling to a very noticeable fruity, ripe cantaloupe quality. Cup color was ecru to light brown, with good woods and toasty qualities. Cooler cup reveals more fruit & melon aromatics. Tea flavor is fuller but still gentle, good woody notes coat my palate, with a sweetness like honey. This cup reveals the best fruity cantaloupe notes.
Cup #3: 212 degrees for 5 minutes; tea pearl is fully unfurled revealing very large olive green/brown leaves. Waning wet leave aromatics, but still smells like cup #2. Cup color is darkest—still light/medium brown, with similar, but fading aromas. Flavors are milder than second cup, but still toasty, and fruity- with less honey like sweetness.
The next day, I decided to brew a second pearl closer to Upton’s brewing instructions. Filling my tea press with 180 degree filtered water, my first cup steeped at 4 minutes. This was the fullest most delicious cup. Light to medium brown in color with fuller woody, toasty cup aromas, cooling to reveal honey like sweetness & ripe cantaloupe. Satisfying warm woods and toast coated my palate and soothed my throat. The most balance of any cup-still gentle in aromas and flavors. Woods, toast, gentle honey sweetness, later revealing more melon qualities. Delicious! :D
My last cup was steeped a full 5 minutes. Although still present in aroma and flavor, cup aromas and qualities were dissipating, and not quite as flavorful as the previous cup. Flavors and sweetness less defined, with only the very slightest of bitterness-which, for this Pearl Tea, is hardly noticeable.
Keep in mind, because this is a full leaf white tea, the quality cups you savor will be flavorful, gentle and satisfying. :D For these Shou Mei Pearls, I prefer my second day (two cup) brew, because the aromas and flavors were most satisfying & delicious, AND I simply enjoyed these cups more. Not to mention this is a visually satisfying experience as well! :D A tea to treasure when you have time for contemplation & relaxation, perhaps to share among fellow tea friends. ;-)
Cupped: Thursday-Friday, January 26-27, 2017. Reviewed: Sunday, January 29, 2017.
Flavors: Cantaloupe, Honey, Toasted, Wood
I received this Good Earth Sweet & Spicy herbal tea as a Christmas gift for Christmas 2016. Teabags were sealed, but I could smell an intense sweet cinnamon aroma through the foil wrapper. :-) Each teabag has a quote on the tag, which makes for a more interesting tea experience right out of the gate. My first cup was sampled without knowing all the ingredients.
Rooibos, chicory root, natural flavor, rosehip, cinnamon, lemongrass, peppermint, chamomile, ginger root, anise seed, orange oil, orange peel.
“For the concert of life, no one receives a program.” —Dutch Proverb
Once opened, the aroma permeated my nose and the kitchen immediately! Seriously, what an Amazing Cinnamon Aroma!! There is no way I could discern all the ingredients, but in the dry bag I did smell the cinnamon right away, followed by peppermint. What was that third main ingredient? YES!! Chicory, that’s it! In the wet leaves I mainly smelled cinnamon & chicory, with a lesser peppermint presence. Cup aroma was quite refreshing with a real sweetness, and a strong burst of cinnamon, mixing very well with the chicory root. The mint was swallowed by the other two aromas, and was barely—if at all—noticeable. My palate came alive with an intense cinnamon flavor!! WOW!! What a spicy kick! :D The chicory root was right along in flavorful tandem with the cinnamon! The mint was only slightly noticeable at the back of my tongue after swishing the tea and inhaling oxygen. After swallowing, the cinnamon & chicory rose up & clung to the back of my tongue and throat for several minutes!
“Every now and then, bite off more than you can chew.” —Kobi Yamada
I had a second cup on January 24—my Godchild Chloe’s 15th Birthday!! :D Roughly 8 oz of water, at 195 degrees, for 3.5 minutes. After reading the ingredients, the dry bag aromas changed somewhat, but these aromas were true to what I smelled. Intense cinnamon & chicory root, and YES, definitely the rosehips came through—neck & neck with the chicory, while the mint & lemongrass honestly seemed shy, thus taking a back seat. Similar sensory observations in the wet leaf aromas were noted, which were less intense all around compared to the dry leaf. Cup aromas are lively cinnamon & chicory root, as well as rosehips, while the mint was drowned out by the other three scents. Cup color was also hued a pleasant red—reddish brown. The tea’s flavor profile exhibited similar intensities (as in cup #1) on my palate and at the back of my tongue/throat. The rosehips definitely played on my palate as well, lightly taming the vigor of the cinnamon & chicory, and added a sweet smoothing aspect to the tea experience.
Good Earth Sweet & Spicy herbal tea, is definitely very flavorful & delicious!! A definite Christmas tea in the future. It is so flavorful, I could drink it anytime! Quite possibly the best herbal tea I’ve tasted—I really do like spicy teas. :-) I’m sure Chloe would appreciate this tea as well. :-)
Cupped: Tuesday, January 10 & 24, 2017. Reviewed: Sunday, January 29, 2017.
Hello fellow tea enthusiasts! :D I first reviewed this Cranberry Tea 5 years 2 months ago for Thanksgiving. Here is the original review if you care to read it. :D
Ingredients: Black tea, cranberry pieces, artificial flavor.
About 2-3 years ago Upton Tea began a more detailed description of ingredient labeling required by the FDA. In their Upton Tea Quarterly, they stated a new FDA requirement for labeling all teas containing artificial flavoring, as well as other ingredients previously not required to be listed.
Fast forward five years. The dry tea leaf aroma is very fruity sweet, much sweeter than I remember it, and I did not smell much Cranberry aroma. There are less Cranberries of a smaller stature than I recall. This is disappointing, which I can possibly attribute to a bag near the end of the lot. Wet leaf aroma is fruity & sweet as well. Cup color is a reddish brown hue with a definite—you guessed it—fruity sweetness, with little cranberry aroma detected. As of January 19th, the tea is discounted nearly $3 from Upton’s retail price.
Taste per brewing below, is sweet for sure, some of which I attribute to the artificial flavoring. Light cranberry flavor (lighter than I remember), with not much noticeable tea flavor. To coax more out of the tea, I added one level tsp additional tea to leaves at 205 degrees for another 3.5 minutes. The tea base balanced better with the flavoring in the second cup, and cranberry tartness was more noticeable, with less sweetness. Honestly, I think one cup with 1.5-2 tsp of tea at a full boil for 4 minutes would yield a more balanced, tart tea.
I know this Cranberry Tea is still sourced from the same supplier in Germany (with artificial flavoring now listed), as in my review 5 years ago. Despite being naturally & artificially flavored, this tea does not taste medicinal, and the taste is not too artificial in nature. I am slightly lowering my score from 88 to 84, based on smaller (and less) cranberries, & a less tart flavor which I attribute to what is now an end lot, sale offering. This is still a good and flavorful tea, and the best Cranberry Tea I have tasted!
NOTE: Apparently Steepster overrides your tea rating if you re-review the same tea. So I will list as follows, and my rating will be averaged.
First Review in November 2011 (linked): 88.
Current Review: 84.
Cupped: Tuesday, January 10, 2017. Reviewed: Friday, January 20, 2017.
How so you say hello to fellow tea lovers you’ve lost touch with over the last 4.5 years?! Let me start by saying I still am a Tea Fanatic, and continue to drink all kinds of tea every day! I also have been into Craft Beer, and drink the occasional cup of coffee! In July 2012, when I last posted, I had no intention of leaving Steepster, but after a Summer & Fall with my Niece Brie, I lost touch. Through many good times and some not so good, life went on as life always does. In late December after a trying year, I decided to get back to reviewing teas, because it’s just one thing I enjoy! :D
The last several years, as the Holiday Season ends, I extend my Holiday tea consumption with those special teas through the second Monday in January. This is also the the last College football game for the season-The National Championship! I know it’s Tuesday, but I wanted to review this tea. So the easiest way to do this, and without further ado, is to begin the tea review! :D
Decaffeinated black tea, cinnamon, ginger root, natural pumpkin spice flavor, clove, nutmeg oil.
Let me start by saying I do not drink many decaffeinated teas, because 99%+ are very bland IMHO. This tea is one exception, and even though I can’t really taste much of the black tea base, the additional flavors, make for a satisfying cup of tea!
The dry teabag smells mainly of clove ginger, and pumpkin spice. The wet leaves in the bag reveal more clove & pumpkin spice, but what really surprised me was the cinnamon! The cinnamon with its sweet, spicy character really came to the forefront. In the cup the scents were not as intense, but cinnamon and pumpkin spice—and to a lesser extent—the ginger & clove had a very calming effect on me. :D My palate enjoyed the cinnamon and pumpkin spice flavors. Upon swishing & swirling the tea, ginger and clove awoke from their slumber only to cling & reside on the back of my tongue! Maybe it’s my lack of exposure to nutmeg in tea, but I really had trouble isolating it in relation to the other flavors.
This Pumpkin Spice blend is quite flavorful, and worth a try. It is a perfect tea to sip and share on Steepster with my tea friends, and a great way to say “Hello!” after a long hiatus—too long in fact! This tea says: “Come In!”, “Welcome!”, as it warms my heart, and I feel as if I’ve not been away very long at all. :D
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!! :D
Cupped & Reviewed: Tuesday, January 10, 2017.