300 Tasting Notes

90

I realize I’m probably the odd one out brewing this with such short infusions, but I plan to try this longer as well with the husband, if I can ever get him to agree to sampling. Conversation last night: “Hey sweetie can I brew you a cup of really good black tea, I promise I won’t do short steeps”, husband: “No.” How do I work with that? (apparently by just brewing them and bringing them to him). So between that and me and the toddler not feeling well, these samples have been going slowly, my apologies.

I do think I am learning more about tea through this. Like I finally understand what people mean by a Yunnan having a linen like texture and for me it relates to the feeling, not the taste of pepper and cinnamon, though there are hints of those tastes in this too. The texture also reminds me of waffles, good whole wheat waffles like the ones I had for breakfast, which are really kind of linen like themselves. There is a soft sweetness here, but it does not speak to me as honey, nor as rock candy, but as sweet cream butter. However the tea is not yet buttery in this first short infusion, it does not coat the roof of the mouth until the second steep (perhaps if I did one longer infusion it would be there). Rather this is like licking a stick of unsalted butter and really tasting it.

I did brew the three Dian Hongs this evening at two and a half minutes each and got my husband to try each. All three are very nice black teas, each is different. Not so surprisingly the husband liked the lowest grade as it tasted the most “tea-like” more tannins I suspect and personally I think more malt, it had a cooler quality. What is surprising is that I preferred this, the middle. I think it was actually the most complex, but the golden tips is revealing more character as it cools. I will resteep each of these tonight at least once.

I also want to share how comforting opening the bag of this was, it smelled so rich and familiar, like opening up a huge canister of Golden Monkey and wafting it, which is saying something for such a tiny foil packet. The quality of the leaf is very good. I have not brewed the Golden Tips gonfu style yet so I will wait to review it as I am trying to figure out exactly what effects more buds have on the flavor, smooth, sweet and more high pitched are my initial thoughts, but I was getting some yam notes once it cooled. Thank you Angel and Teavivre

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Angrboda

That’s more or less opposite of our house. I don’t like just making tea for myself without at least asking, and when he then says yes, because he almost always does, I usually end up making a large sharing-pot, rather than going through the difficulties of making him just pick one! and then making two separate pots of tea. I only do that if I’m very sure of what I want and it’s something that there is either very little of or something to do with short steeps. Most of the time, I tend to have to drink those when I’m home alone. :)

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I get much more sweet than bitter from this, but I do get a little astringent feeling on the tip of the tongue, like I licked a reed. I’m not drinking it for pleasure and yet it is pleasurable. I’m sure it helps that I like licorice root. This, Throat Coat and Gypsy Cold Care all taste very similar to me, but Throat Coat is thicker and smoother and Gypsy Cold is more flowery (yet not floral like jasmine or orchid, more like chamomile) and this is more herbaceous, but they all have the same spice and licorice. We’ll see how it helps.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more

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Many thanks to the Good Lady Angrboda for this, my tea of the afternoon (there was no tea of the morning as toddler had me up at 7:30 am for a bowl of cereal and I then convinced him to go back to bed and woke up again at 11:30). Rowan’s fever is gone today but I am super tired and still have ear thing. Sooo no special Orchid Oolong or Golden Fleece for me today pout

This however sounded good to me, which is odd as I didn’t like the one genmaicha I’ve tried (Teavana, but what do they know?). What encouraged me is that it is with Bancha and not Gyokuro and I figured the flavors would meld better than be such a huge contrast between green and toasty. Plus it is from Le Palais Des Thes and I have heard good things about them.

The smell brewing still isn’t my favorite, burnt popcorn and Kashi, but the taste isn’t bad and it’s even better with food. It’s surprisingly buttery! Genmaicha is definitely a unique cultural beverage, but not one that I am ever likely to get into. ::shrug:: Thanks Miss Ang, for giving me a better Genmaicha experience!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 45 sec
Angrboda

I’m glad you enjoyed it! I don’t really care for the stuff myself, and the last time I tried giving some to the boyfriend, he ended up trying SO HARD to diplomatic about it afterwards that I knew not to do it again. :)

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69

Huzzah! My package from Angrboda arrived today, thank you so much! Husband brought it in with the mail. I was surprised I didn’t have to sign for it and thus was expecting the bell to ring. This is probably a very good thing today, as the toddler is sick and clingy and has been napping on me most of the day. As such, as much as I want to tear open the packet of Verdant’s Taiwanese Orchid Oolong that I requested the swap for, there is just no way I will be brewing gongfu style tonight.

So other surprise samples! When I saw the back of this packet I immediately thought rooibos, I turned it around and read “black blend”, I opened it up to smell definitely black and rooibos and I noticed little petals of cornflower, perhaps with bergamot then? Now I am not overly fond of rooibos, though my experience with them is really limited to Teavana, I tried a straight red rooibos in their Care in Every Leaf Equal Trade gift set, but mostly it is just overly flavored blends. I have also thought at times that I may be allergic to rooibos, ironic as I want to turn to it for allergy relief, but could be any other number of ingredients Teavana uses in most of their tea.

But anywho this tea, I chose this tea as I have a headache tonight and wanted something slightly desert like, but not fruity, this fits the bill. The leaf itself doesn’t smell all that appealing to me, but I don’t care for the smell of straight rooibos, so I ignored it. I did a shorter steep that I would normally for a black blend, only a minute but it smelled good, actually really really good, hey there is smoke in here and pine/juniper (and this was my reaction before looking up the tea). I had a brief moment of worry that the smoke might be too much for the head, but it actually behaves itself quite well.

Taste wise, I do quite like this despite the rooibos, its my kind of blend actually. I’ve been reading descriptions of pu’erh online and anything that says pine, cedar, smoke etc. gets my attention, my longing attention. It’s the same things I look for in perfume and alcohol. Whatever fruit that is in here is very subtle and hard to distinguish, I think I’ve only had lychee once, in a goji berry white blend, but it rounds things out interestingly with the smoke. There is even a buttery note! So yes, I am enjoying it tonight, but I’m unlikely to ever buy a blend with rooibos in it.

Thank you again Angrboda I look forward to trying the Raspberry Oolong with my son when he feels better. Raspberry and oolong are his favorites and I had actually thought of requesting this one from you, but didn’t notice it on your page until the day you sent out the package, so am very pleased you have the foresight to include it! And of course I’m dying to try the orchid oolong ;)

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Cheryl

Hope the little guy feels better soon!

Autumn Hearth

Thanks Cheryl, he’s great today, mommy not so much ;/

Angrboda

Ha, raspberry oolong. It’s my favourite one to share when swapping so I almost always include it if I have some. It’s one of those I try to always keep around. With a few exceptions, it has been well received too. I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of it when you both feel better. :)

Autumn Hearth

Darn editing to adjust the score placing this back in my stream (and seemingly others) though I did decide to have a sipdown of this this morning. It evokes nice things, inspires blend ideas, but me thinks I would like more black tea, dash of Lapsang, much less rooibos and maybe a touch or pu’erh along with the juniper, not sure about keeping the goji. It was much stronger this morning than the scent it seemed to rub off on the Sun Moon Lake last night (liked that much better), I’m curious if the other teas that it was near will be effected as well, probably wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Autumn Hearth

Oi and it seems I never logged the Raspberry Oolong, drats! The toddler and I went through it in one day as he wanted some iced. Quite nice, different than the two raspberry teas we have at home (one scented oolong and one flavored green) actually falls nicely between them. It’s not really what I’m into right now per se, but it was very nice to try. Thanks for sharing!

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96

I ordered an ounce of this when I noticed the stock was low a couple months ago. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to try such a highly rated tea with descriptors that sounded right up my alley. Granted this was before I had tried any shu, I had to resist ordering them all, but picked up one of the newer offerings the Yanxin Reserve ’04 Nuggets for some comparison. I tried the nuggets first as an introduction and it was a lovely one.

This does have some similarities, but where the nuggets were sparkling, this is smooth and earthy. This is more coffee cake than angel food and I’m pleased I chose this for desert. It’s sweetness doesn’t kick in until the fourth infusion, but boy does it shine. And even in the first five second steep, this is the darkest cup I’ve ever seen. The sixth infusion is a bit smoky, the ninth has a hint of cinnamon and the tenth reminds me of toffee. I definitely get Amy Oh’s twig tea reference, this is just so more more velvety and deeper.

I want to stay up all night and drink this, the boys are already asleep, I’m just hoping it will keep till morning. Me thinks I love shu and am looking forward to trying the sample of Xingyang Golden Leaf David included with this order. I also can’t wait to order the Cornfields Toucha later in the summer and Peacock Village come fall.

Update: This tea is so generous, I’m enjoying my tenth mug (8oz), twenty-four hours later. I enjoyed 6 infusions last night and I believe this is my fourth today, a couple of them were light (both in color and taste) and minty (something I’ve taken as a cue it might be spent), but I just upped the time and it is so very vibrant and sweet (I also started getting some spice in the last infusion). So here’s to another wonderful night with a wonderful tea!

Preparation
Boiling
Scott B

How much tea leaf did you use for this?

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93

Oh goodness, I feel so grateful to be sipping this tea this morning. The last two days I thought perhaps I had a sinus/ear infection and while I’m still a bit foggy this morning, my throat isn’t sore and my tongue feels primed and ready. The dried leaves smell decadent and that’s exactly the word I would use to describe the taste as well. It’s amazing that such a short steep can yield such a luxurious experience. There is sweetness yes and mild veg and nut, but more than anything it’s the mouthfeel on this that blows me away. Oh the creamyness it coats the roof of my mouth with, swoon. And I’m only on the first steep.

In searching for this page (Steepster was being slow to load) I came across I believe LiberTeas’s review of this Spring’s Laoshan Green, where she makes the comparison to fresh milk from grass fed cows on a small family dairy farm, and that really resonates with me on this one as well. I also definitely get the comparison to Gyokuro. I got six steeps out of this and I’m sure I could have done more if I hadn’t switched to pu’erh after dinner, very respectable for a green.

The first three were my favorite with the mouthfeel being the smoothest on the first and the second two being the most flavorful. The first sip of the second steep literally made me sip up straight and take notice, then mellowed itself out. The third started off mellow but built upon itself all the way to the bottom of the cup. Will have to try this grandpa style (leaving the leafs in the glass and sipping) can anyone recommend a temperature for that?

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

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This is a general review as in I didn’t drink this tea today (I actually haven’t had anything but traditional medicinals) but I’ve had it several times at work and just last week dropped by I tried this in a blend. I remember when I was all excited for Teavana’s new tea launch and nothing excited me more than two new straight oolongs. I was not however terribly impressed by them and that was before trying non-Teavana oolongs.

Auspicious Ayame seemed like a lesser version of Phoenix Mountain Dan Cong to me and this a slightly less orchid slightly creamy version of Monkey Picked Oolong. I can now make out more differences and have a greater appreciation for both dark and greener oolongs. I also played around with short steeps at work, but now that I have tried some other amazing oolongs, I think this still lacks some complexity.

That being said, last week when writing a review for Teavana’s Detox Blend I had the idea that this would be the ideal oolong to pair with Gyokuro and Silver Needle due to its creamy and less floral nature. I was right, very well suited. But not enough to stock up on it.

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Alas there shall not be more black tea tasting today. I’ve had two cups of throat coat and one of these as I don’t really know what will help, my glands feel swollen, my throat is sore and my allergies are flaring. This is soothing and reminds me of tea my mom used to make me. In fact my mom probably did make me this tea, I know she made me throat coat. Ah, that and Celestial Seasonings, how long ago it seems.

On an interesting note the neighbors came home with two huge Teavana bags. First time in I believe and she mentioned Dr. Oz. Later husband said he smelled Blueberry Bliss. I consulted with barista boy and he says they spend $250 and satiated my curiosity by listing the teas and merch. Fighting the urge to brew her better Tieguanyin than the Monkey Picked she bought, fighting it.

Kittenna

Ahahaha, snooping on the neighbor’s tea purchases?! Funny! Although admittedly now that I’m into tea I always want to know what people bought and what they like, etc. etc.

Also, hope you’re feeling better soon!

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So I requested samples of all three of the Yun Nan Dian Hong and unintentionally started with the most affordable. As such I won’t give this a numerical rating until I’ve tried the full leaf and the golden tips, which hopefully will be today.

However initial observations are that while this is a very good value and has decent leaf, it is not well suited to short steep times, which is fine as I am looking for a Yunnan for my husband who prefers western brewing anyway and I will prepare it for him in that matter. At the moment I am just trying to educate myself on this variety, I’m very curious how my taste buds will react to more tea buds.

This third steep at around a minute is really quite delicious and has much more flavor that the two previous at 15 and 30 secs. I unfortunately have a sore throat today, but this is quite soothing. This is the sweetest of the infusions and it also has some initial spice that smooths out later in the cup. Thank you Angel and Teavivre, I will add more are I do a side by side brewing this weekend with the husband.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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We ordered two ice tea samples with our latest purchase and when the husband requested I make ice tea before dinner and I saw the other was recommended as a 6 hour cold brew, this was the obvious choice. The sample had a little over 6 teaspoons worth of leaf which was not quite enough for a full 64oz pitcher, but it was about 3/4 full.

I could smell the tea as it was steeping and it was quite lovely. The liquor came out a striking orange that was toned down to copper when diluted. I was smart and tasted some before the food, husband was not and thus said it had no taste. I actually liked it, more than any recent hot Darjeeling experience, it had a slight natural sweetness that lent itself well to cold tea, but it is mild and floral. I would try to resteep if ice trays didn’t take so long freeze. Will update if I decide to make two hot cups tonight.

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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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