300 Tasting Notes

90
drank Fujian Rain by Adagio Teas
300 tasting notes

So this tea was at the top of my Adagio wishlist and happened to be the first tea on sample when I walked into their store in Chicago. This store was everything I wish Teavana could be, in fact the layout is much what I pictured when I first applied to work at Teavana.

The teas line the outside walls, the are pre-packaged with two different sizes for loose leaf as well as bagged and each tea has its own smelling jar that you can sniff at your leisure. What’s more is you can taste any of the teas you want. As such they didn’t really have sample sizes like online, except for in the masters collection, because you can already try before you buy. So I had to limit myself to two teas to take home rather than six, I will probably order more online though as I’m signed up for their rewards program.

The guy who was helping me, who also used to work at a Teavana, brewed four for me in competition tasting cups with spoons. I sampled a Darjeeling Oolong, Oriental Beauty and the two Wuyi’s to compare, though I kinda wish I had tried the Twilight Ti Kuan Yin too. All were lovely, though the Formosa didn’t have all the notes I was looking for.

I chose the higher grade Wuyi and this to take home because they both showed promise for gongfu brewing, but in very different ways. With this one the sample was brewed for three minutes and was quite strong and complex and I just wanted to deconstruct it. I was rewarded for this decision today.

The first infusion was sparkling and stone sweet, well the second was a bit salty, and the third started picking up honey and roasted notes and the last two have just started to give hints of fruit.

I did 5 infusions before lunch and plan on resuming in a bit. I will update with any further observations today. For now I doubt it will become a staple in my cupboard, I’d rather have a Big Red Robe, but I am enjoying it for what it is.

Edit: I didn’t realize this was a Shui Xian (because I’m silly and didn’t read) no wonder I kept thinking of this yesterday when trying to pinpoint flavors I had experienced before in Verdant’s Shui Xian Wuyi Oolong. While this is an enjoyable tea, Verdant’s blows my mind and surprise! is actually slightly less money ($1.25 less for the 2oz). That being said I think Adagio is a great company, I had a wonderful experience in their store and their custom blends pull on my geeky heartstrings though I am more of a straight tea fan.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Michelle

I wish I could visit an Adagio store! Everything I hear about them is so nice.

Autumn Hearth

I have no idea what their growth plan is but the store I visited had only opened 7 months ago.

Cheryl

Since seeing their video about the grand opening of first store, they have been on my “visit some day” list. The company philosophies of Teavana and Adagio seem to be polar opposites. At least that’s my impression.

Azzrian

This is one of the very few Adagio teas I like and it is VERY good!

Autumn Hearth

Then you will LOVE the Shui Xian from Verdant that’s coming your way!

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So I have been at the in-laws in Indiana for four days and thus far I have brewed no tea, Thursday I had a migraine and blamed it on withdrawal. Now the mother-in-law does have a cast iron tea pot, I bought it for her, but there was no visible kettle and I just didn’t ask. This morning though I grabbed a pan and a couple pouches of tea I knew would be good iced, that I knew the m-i-l would like and that I wanted to use up (actually I only brought teas I wanted to use up, with the goal of bringing none of them back, I’m a little behind so I have some catching up to do.

Now the in-laws are having a garage sale, with a lemonade stand (country time powder bleh) so I thought a nice pitcher of Strawberry-Lemonade would be great to have as an alterative out there. I emptied the entire 2oz into a giant glass measuring pitcher, added a few teaspoons of German rock sugar and boiled my water. It was a tiny pan, the only clean one and came out to only 18-20oz, I let it steep for 15mins, poured it over a pitcher of ice and it only filled the thing half way. I tasted it in a shot glass, not bad… but I had a pot of Youthberry that had just finished brewing a couple mins ago that I was going to cool in the fridge and bring out later. I poured a bit into the shot glass with the strawberry, much better!

I don’t care whether it sells or if my in-laws end up drinking it all. They think it’s delicious and their not wrong, it a much better combo than the Youth/Wild Orange or the Straw/Blueberry, but still I say good riddance to you free online sample pack and gift set packet! Also I’m glad they got brewed seperate at their recommended times and temperatures, plus more tea liquor! I will be so glad to get back to my tea stash and wares when I get home though.

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98

Soooo delicious, what wonderful thick, creamy, dark sweetness. At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the smell and taste of this reminded me of, besides my two other favorite shu. I wanted to describe it as caramel but no, I had a caramel cake at Fridays tonight (my gods, delicious) but definitely not it. Then my mother-in-law asked me to bring her down a bottle of old fashioned cream soda, bingo! I’m much more pleased with this non sickeningly sweet, non teeth rotting version :)

Just before bed, in the fifth infusion (I think) the tart elderberry note became very present and has thankfully stuck around till morning for five more infusions. I’m going to keep reinfusing for as long as I can, amid the toddler’s birthday party preparations, because I’m having a love affair with this tea. I definitely like the original better than the Elderberry creation it inspired, yet that totally helped educate my palate to find the notes inherent in this most amazing shu.

If I win the Tea Cat’s contest I’m ordering more of this and it’s getting its own tin along with the Eight Treasures Yabao. So if you haven’t voted already go check out the gorgeous felines and consider voting for Pan http://verdanttea.com/tea-cats/crouching-kitty-copper-dragon/ I should not that it didn’t stay “thick” for long, it has a much lighter body than I first described, but still very, very flavorful and yes very “clean”. I only rinsed once, but did actually like that second infusion, ::shrug::

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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86

I’m grateful to have found a white tea sample I hadn’t tried yet, last night and to have the proper taste buds to appreciate it (unlike say, my husband). This hit all the right spots after just a 30 sec steep, but I am having a hard time finding the words to describe it. It’s herbaceous sure, there is a nice cool tingling on the side of my tongue that gives way to a bit of sweetness. It also tastes/feels like parchment paper which I am really digging. The second steep is similar but heavier, less sparkling and has a honeydew note to it. There is a savoriness to both cups that I can’t quite pinpoint, but it’s there alongside the sweet. Lovely tea, glad I can still thoroughly enjoy straight whites after all these blacks, dark oolongs and pu’erhs I’ve been getting into lately.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec
ScottTeaMan

This is a really good tea!

Kittenna

I’m interested that you like the fact that it tastes/feels like parchment paper. I’m not sure that’s something I would enjoy!

ScottTeaMan

I’m not sure about the parchment paper, but I do get a certain thickness [for a white tea].

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62
drank Scarlet Cloud by Teavana
300 tasting notes

Wow, no love for this tea on Steepster. Not terribly surprising, it’s very hit or miss, luckily today it produced a nice cup. 3 tsps in a glass infuser mug with 175F water for a little over a minute uncovered. Brewed up a beautiful pink and yes a tad cloudy. No bitterness to speak of, no soapy peach, berries are a bit tart which is fine, mint is mild but present. Overall a very lightly flavored white and since Teavana doesn’t seem to believe that white tea leaves themselves should be anything other than light, I can see why others think this is bland, I just don’t mind at the moment as I know what to expect and wasn’t really looking for fruity. This might be more interesting with a bai mu dan or shou mei base. May try this cold brewed as I believe I bought it with the summer in mind when it was 75% off. Would never buy this at full price though. Just the handful of Verdant blends I have been drinking lately have spoiled me, I don’t know if I want to venture trying David’s or 52Teas blends, though that reminds me I need to place an order some honeybush for my mother-in-law.

chadao

I completely agree that a Shou Mei would round this tea out much better, but I wonder if the teaologists at Teavana even know the grades of white tea. Every time I look into one of the bins of blended white teas, the leaves always look the same— little grey, twisted leaves. I wonder what grade they are anyway?

Autumn Hearth

Heh, complicated question. I imagine some people at corporate are aware of the grades of most teas and decide to only promote the top of each grade as straight teas: Silver Needle, Gyokuro, Huang Shan Mao Feng, Monkey Picked Oolong, Golden Monkey, Keemun Premium Grade Hao Ya, Darjeeling SFTGFOP or whatever it is and don’t provide more affordable alternatives (except some greens) like other companies. Why offer White Peony when you want to pitch Silver Yin Zhen Pearls as being the highest in anti-oxidants, most hydrating, detoxifying etc?

But then they use lesser quality leaf in the blends, yet they still claim is the top of its crop which is the reason for the price of the whites. Drum Mountain White Cloud is listed for several of them, this one is supposedly a White Mao Feng and is actually a bit more impressive leaf than some of the others.

These may actually fall outside the traditional four step grading if they are a different varietal. I’ve heard these other teas are not true whites but are still called such as they use a similar processing. Most of the examples that I am thinking are a little to obvious like White Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan (which are all quite lovely) but they are also in China.

Now another complication is Teavana used to have their blends made for them, at least some if not all by SpecialTeas, which they bought out over a year ago and now does not exist supposedly. I’ve heard people who have been to “the home office” talking about the master blender, who knows where she is from and who influences what she can use. But the average employee and probably most managers have never heard of the different grades of white tea, which is just sad really.

Anywho, I highly recommend you try some of the teas in Verdant’s Alchemy line, they are very thoughtfully made and the bases shine through. Of the ones currently available I’d say get the Eight Treassures Yabao and order some straight Yabao while you’re at it, like I said in my notes it tastes like Shou Mei on crack and if the Laoshan Apothecary Green is anything like Taping Temple Green (more mint less spice), it will be amazing!

chadao

I just got to reading this post. Thanks for all the info! It really helped me to understand what was going on in the Teavana world. On a side note have you ever tried gong-mei, the lowest grade of white tea? I’ve heard from many people that it is hardly worth seeking after…

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98

This is like falling in love with Verdant’s Tieguanyin all over again. It is the only blend in the alchemy line that I would believe is straight tea if someone handed me a cup and then I would swear up and down that it was the best tieguanyin I’d ever had. It is the perfect balance of floral, buttery, sweet, vegetal and umami. I got so far in my steeping with this that I even got a mint note with a second sweetness. Well done Verdant Tea!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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98

Enjoying this cold brewed in wine glasses with the husband’s best friend. It’s gorgeous and looks like a beautiful blush wine, stunning, stunning pink. It retains quite a bit of its fragrance and is simply delicious, still reminds me of lilies, Pierre says its the perfect ice tea. I wonder if thesr leaves can be rebrewed hot. If I win the Tea Cats contest, I’m ordering 4oz of this sooner rather than later. My entry is the Crouching Kitty, Copper Dragon ;)

Kittenna

I need to look up some of my kitty pictures and see if I can think of a clever caption. No kitties around to take pictures of, sadly.

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95

I got a small free sample of this when I ordered the Golden Fleece and finally got around to brewing it yesterday with my husband’s best friend who has been in town since Wednesday. It is a solid, dark, chocolaty tea at one moment refined and the next robust. It is so different from the other Yunnan’s I’ve had while it is a chocolaty tea like the Laoshan and Bailin Gongfu, it feels so solid after just 10 secs of steeping (where as the others have a thinner, mineral sweetness, that I love mind you, this is just new and enjoyable). The first two steeps were wonderful,Pierre used the word “meaty” the third was a tad astringent and then in took an interesting turn for the fourth and fifth, so much so that Pierre thought it was a different tea (we took a break after three and he went downstairs). He said it tasted more “herbal” though I would say savory, it had a lighter buttery quality. This and the Wild Picked Jin Jun Mei are actually two of my favorites and ones I would like to order. Though I haven’t tried the Golden Fleece yet, tomorrow perhaps, I would highly recommend folks order Verdant’s Black Tea Sampler, they are amazing teas!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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92

Ohhh this is lovely! I wouldn’t trust a Lavender Earl Anything from anyone but Verdant as me and super floral teas do not get along. I once tried to make something like this at work with Lavender Dreams and Earl Grey White and winded up with a headache. But this is perfectly done, so very fresh and soft yet bright, I thought there was something like lemongrass in this! And I still can taste the Jingshan base nice and green and lineny. So much better than an astringent white or filmy citrus base (I’m looking at you Teavana). I did quite a short steep on this and could probably get many infusions but I’ll try not to overdo it because lavender can indeed give me headaches, I was shouting at my sister to take the oil warmer out of the birthing room as soon as the droplets hit the chafing dish almost three years ago. This tea does not evoke those memories (just thinking about my past sensitivities did) no, this is like walking through the fields of Provence this time of year and gathering a bundle lavender and taking it back to a cool white walled, dirt floor kitchen to to weave wreaths, infuse in homemade dish soap and to a brew a fresh cup of tea with. Not that I’ve ever been to Provence or that this is at all soapy, but my favorite Seventh Generation dish liquids are Lavender and Lemongrass ;)

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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Cold brewed this for the husband today, 6 heaping teaspoons (bit difficult with the long needles) in 6 cups of water for 6 hours. Husband though it was a tad mild, I thought it was lovely. I let the remaining 2 cups of liquid sit in the leaves in the fridge and lo it got stronger and more delicious! Excellent honey notes. So I’d say a touch more leaf and time and we’ll be golden. Now back to my regularly scheduled yabao.

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Bio

Druid, artist, poet, mum, lover of tea, ritual and myth. I grew up on Celestial Seasons herbals but fell in love with straight loose leaf tea working at my local Teavana for a year. I am grateful for the introduction and the experience, but have moved on.

I see tea as an experience for the senses, I like to imagine tasting the land and the weather as well as the effect of sun, air, fire and the human hand. I have a soft spot for shu pu’er, yabao, scented oolongs, wuyi oolongs, taiwanese tea as well as smooth naturally sweet blacks, creamy greens and surprisingly complex whites.

I began ordering lots of samples from Upton to educate myself on different varieties of tea we didn’t have at work and have fallen head over heels for the unique offerings from Verdant Tea. I am learning things I like: buttery mouthfeel, surprising sweet or spice notes, woodiness, mineral notes, depth and complexity and things I don’t: astringency, dry and sour notes.

I collect tea tins and am in danger of collecting pots, though I am trying to restrain the urge due to current lack of space. I brew mostly in a glass infuser mug or a tea maker, only using cast-iron for company now (still need to get a gaiwan) and tend not to sweeten my teas unless they are British or fruity and iced, which is not often.

As far as ratings, I lack a definite system and haven’t been assigning numbers lately, wanting to spend multiple sessions with a tea first. I usually only log a tea once, unless it is a new harvest or I have significantly different observations, but will go back and edit or comment if I find something interesting or new.

Location

Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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