676 Tasting Notes
Thank you to Bo from the Tea Spot for this big Sample tea!
I’ve lived in Colorado for almost two happy years now. Colorado is also the place where TEA discovered ME. What a loving tea romance that has grown into an everlasting love.
One of the charming things about my State are the many tea houses and tea companies located primarily around Boulder (about 45 minutes from me). And a tea festival at the Dushanbe http://boulderteahouse.com
One place I have yet to visit is The Tea Spot.
Today I recieved some samples from Bo which I am excited to try.
I would normally drink a Yunnan Black Tea in the morning, but by 6PM I was falling asleep on the couch. That would never do! Too early to fall asleep. The green-eyed logo on the package beckoned me…“pick me”! (That was a previous joke from a morning when I had a hard time waking up..but somewhat true again.)
I followed the packet instructions to use boiling water and steep 3-5 minutes. I decided on 4 minutes because I like a hefty cup of tea.
I made a 16oz pot using 2 tsp leaf.
OH NO! NO! The tea was WAY TOO STRONG!
I took a big sip and WOW! The liquor was very strong and bitter like I had soaked some tobacco leaves in with the tea and threw in a bag of cinders. No chocolate or malt. BLEH, MEH!
Something was wrong. I put the blame on myself, threw out the tea and began again. (I could do this, I read.. The Little Engine that Could!)
(Bo, don’t gasp in horror… trust me!)
I began again with only 1 tsp leaf, boiling water and 2.5 minutes on the steep time. The liquor was a nice red brown and much, much milder!
The wet leaves smelled bready and smoky.
You must not oversteep this tea!
The taste was a little malty and not very chocolatey. I say again, that there was really not a cocoa flavor in the tea that I could pick out at all.
This was a very, very smoky tea with tannin that splayed all over the tongue creating a prickly, peppery feel. I tasted a bit of potato like kettle chips.
I tried adding some sweetening and cream which worked well.
So, I wasn’t very impressed with this black tea. It lacked depth and smoothness. The smoke was too powerful. Something was too raw and untamed.
I am however, looking forward to more tastings and appreciate the opportunity to try this tea.
Thank you Roughage for this beautiful Sample (ha) tea!
Today I received a ‘sample’ box from the U.K. with a Postal label that said Royal Mail! Now isn’t that nice. Colorado has no such stamps. Maybe a stamp of an antelope playing on the range (where seldom is heard a discouraging word).
With a stamp like that I couldn’t just rip the box open. I had to put the pinky up and delicately open the parcel. Yikes! Nobody told my new best Steepster friend that a little bit of tea would be just fine (don’t get ideas, he now knows that a wee little bit will be ok to send in the future!).
That box had lots of tea…and all new to me. One tea (a Pu-erh) is used for making Yak Butter Tea! Oh, and Roughage sent me a Chai Butter Tea recipe that I’ll share during the Olympics so I can go all U.K.
I chose first this tea for this evening after supper. I had a small alderwood smoked white meat chop and fresh sauteed spinach greens. Simple.
A fruity White Tea would pair well followed by some fresh cherries later in the evening.
There was about an ounce of dry mix in the vacume bag that just looked healthy. Green with white fur jasmine silver needle and lots of fruity bits. Other big green leaves and brown twiggy things. No idea what all is in there. Smells like heaven though.
The steep time was 4-6 min. at 176F (80C)
When ready, the light yellow pour was fruitliy fragrant not floral.
I took a big gulp.
Now this was good jasmine white tea! So smooth and creamy for a white at what I consider was a long steep time.
The fruitiness was mouth-watering. I could taste some of the strawberry and pineapple but no citrus. The blend was harmonious. The addition of fruit softens the jasmine, which can sometimes be overpowering.
This is really, really good! Even jasmine sceptics would like this tea.
Thank you so much Roughage for this beautiful tea! I can’t wait to try all the others! I could have a party during the Olympics with the tea you sent! Come and join in!
Thank you Will Work For Tea for this Sample!
My very first experience in a tea store that sold loose leaf tea was Lupicia, in the Valley Fair Mall (HUGE) in San Jose,CA. probabably 4 years ago. The truth is that I never would have entered if my daughter wasn’t into tea. The set-up was cool. There was a very long angled table with round containers inserted in cutout grooves with tins of tea samples all labeled so that you could pick them up, open and sniff them. There must have been hundreds of tea tins.
They smelled so delicious that even I couldn’t resist and bought a Muscat, Cookie and Strawberry Rose Champagne tea with no idea whatsoever on how to brew what I had purchased. (I gave most of the tea to my daughter because brewing tea was a mystery to me). The memory of the shop was my Disneylandish tea introduction.
Every time I see the name Lupicia, I think of the shop at Valley Fair.
When I received this tea sample, I opened the packet (as I had the little tins) and inhaled the scent. The rum wasn’t too strong and I couldn’t make out the raisin smell. I looked at the tea which was very dark chocolate brown (smelled cocoaish to me) and there were golden plump raisins mixed in. Aha! This should be good!
I used a small glass teapot to brew western style about 16oz of tea.
The scent and the flavor of rum was not super strong when I raised my much and took a big sip.(I think DAVIDsTEA Buttered Rum is a lot stronger…which some people like and some don’t)
The raisin flavor was harder to pick out. Unless this was Raisin tea (which is like saying dried grape tea) the flavor was an added enhancer. It was an enhancer but the flavor showed up in a way that I didn’t expect and transformed the tea into something else.
I added sweetening and cream. This was a good hot tea but not awesome.
I got distracted and my cup of tea cooled down.
When I went back to to my cup, I noticed the flavor was different than before and tasted just like a Chocolate Chip Cookie!
And it was even like Melting Chocolate Chip Ice Cream when you’re munching on the bits of chocolate!
BUT THIS IS RUM RAISIN! I didn’t get it!
I’m sure I lost my marbles. Someone else has to try this and tell me what they think! Let it cool down and tell me please!
Rum Raisin was better cool! I’m making a Chilled Rum Raisin Latte!
Inside my last Verdant order, I received this pre-release Pu’er. That’s all that was on the packet. I shot an e-mail off to David Duckler asking “How do I brew this Sheng Pu’er?”
The answer came:
Gaiwan for 4-6oz water and 1tsp leaf
1 second rinse
3 second steep
add 1 second for each additional steep
I could do that. (Gulp)
This is a dark brown compact bark with a bit of sheen.
The color of the liquor remained light golden honey except for the first steeping which was yellow.
The wet leaves are the longest, beautiful olive brown leaves I’ve seen… some almost 5 inches long. Their scent began as ocean seaweed and progressed to salty raisin tobacco then a meaty light tobacco. Smoky at all stages.
I was going to begin talking about each steeping 1,2,3 and tell what I tasted. I was having difficulty.
“There shouldn’t be any problem reviewing this tea”, I told myself.
I walked over to the couch, put my feet up and reclined…waiting.
I waited for some time…and trying to be still…waited some more.
I sat thinking about Pu-er’s in general. Why are so many people fearful about them. Yes, it’s true there’s a bit of preparation with Pu-er and you can think too hard about it so that the pleasure’s gone and it becomes a chore. “Do I rinse it?” “How long do I steep this thing?”
“What is Shu, Sheng, raw and cooked, sounds like a menu item?” “What am I supposed to be tasting? Dirt, apples, mushrooms,or honey?” “What makes it awesome or gross in the first place?” I’ve been asked these questions.
No wonder so many people just throw in the towel (or toucha)!
Maybe I was thinking too hard about this particular Pu-er myself.
Pu-er shouldn’t be that difficult it should be pleasurable.
I went back to the kitchen counter more relaxed, took a deep breath and poured boiling water to wash the Pu-er for 1 second, steeped it 3 seconds and poured some to drink.
It smelled smoky and tasted like light corn and moist sweet rice at the front and finish. This was a tea full of juice and body. The flavor was smooth for a young tea. (This wasn’t an earthy flavor so for those who like green tea or white tea this would appeal most to you. Smooth and light.)
When I poured again…this lightly smoke scented tea produced prickly nettles on my tongue tip for a few seconds. Then, the tea became smooth with a more mature mouthfeel than young tea would normally possess. That fact sets this tea apart as a stunner. It doesn’t have the roughness and harsh feel of a young tea. There was a faint gyokuro taste, a richer cup than the first steep.
On the finish the tea began to nag me with a taste memory of something I used to grill but I couldn’t remember what it was.
I began to obsess…standing in my kitchen and looking through my spice cabinet for clues. “I know this flavor…I have it somewhere in my kitchen and it goes with plank grilling salmon,” I said.
I have a container filled with flavored salts (hickory, expresso, ginger, applewood, lavendar, balsamac, hawaiian, and so on)…and I looked through the bin until I found one of them that said Alderwood Salt. I took a tiny taste. Ah! That was the one I was looking for.
I tasted ALDER in this tea. Alder is a sweet wood…close to corn and sticky rice in scent.
I found the sweet wood flavor in the tea delicate, sweet and mild.
There was again some hint of corn on the finish lingering.
I knew there was more for the tea to say. I had a little sample and discovered that I am limited with one or two tastings. This is a Pu’er that is like a good book. I would have to take time and read it over many steepings and many encounters to begin to know what it has to say.
I had relaxed enough to really enjoy this Pu-er, the flavor had became unrestrained and full of life. I am always learning from tea about that need to be present with it.
There are so many different kinds of Pu-er, light and dark ones, earthy and mild. A little rinse and off you go. They are fun to try and share with friends. Good for the body (and you know the rest)…good for the soul. Nothing really to be fearful of trying because as with any tea, they are all different and you will find ones that you love.
This tea will age well. It is already mature beyond it’s years. A young Pu-er with a bright future. Fresh and flirty. A Pu-er inviting me to take my time and not rush the relationship. Light and delicious now, but just wait….
Thank you Will Work For Tea for this Sample!
I know for sure that God is watching over me! I am a dumb woman who almost got herself killed tonight!
After the monsoon thunder and lightning storm this afternoon had finished (I thought), I decided to head 20 miles South go to Vespers at St. Spyridons Greek Orthodox Church.
As I drove closer to Loveland, the sky look ominous. Dark clouds were thickening but nothing was happening. Maybe they would scurry past to the Prairie, I thought.
Somewhere towards the end of the service when the Chanters (and those present) were singing “Lord Have Mercy” in English, Greek, Arabic and Russian…BANG! ALL…you know what…broke loose! We kept singing and at the end scurried to our cars (which were now becoming flooded with a Noah-esque like downpour of rain). I had to wade in ankle deep water to my car.
The lightening and thunder was banging overhead. Somewhat like having my picture taken by the sky…bang…flash…over and over and then…I hit a pocket of water on a 4 lane busy main road and hydroplaned!
The water covered my car and I was blind! I came out of the tunnel of water to a bang flash. I was scared but my brakes were ok. I kept going..inching home.
I had a funny intuitive girl feeling that something else wasn’t right.
My car is a titanium silver Rav4 and not that easy to see at dusk in a rainstorm.
I DROVE 15 MILES WITHOUT MY HEADLIGHTS ON! Freaked me out!
As soon as the bang boom fear, watery feet and hydroplaning terror kicked in…I was a white knuckle, all hands on the steering wheel mess. I am never going out in the rain like that again ever, ever!
I chose this tea for it’s great Russian name Troika! The horse drawn sleigh. Visions of some of my favorite old Russian movies came to mind. The Brothers Karamazov with Yul Brynner and We Live Again from 1935. Wintry days with hot smoky tea. Even though this is Summer, the cool stormy weather seemed right for it.
I used only 6 oz. water to make a strong cup and 1 tsp tea. Brew time was 3.5 minutes.
The flavor was smoky and citrus fruity. Somewhere between an Assam and Orange Pekoe with more smoke though. At first I notice a light bergamot creaminess then as it cools there is astringency.
I wouldn’t call the flavor weak. It’s a pretty hefty brew.
I added sweetening eventually which was good, then cream which was also acceptable (and the cream cut the tannin).
My advice is not to walk away from this cup and let it cool down. It gets way to astringent. Drink it hot and it’s pretty tasty. A good blaster for handwarming while riding in your Troika!
The Lord really did have Mercy on me tonight! http://youtu.be/vyFkPd6fEuI Tchaikovsky (Song of the Cherubim which is a song sung at every Liturgy but not always this particular version by Tchaikovsky)
Thank you Will Work For Tea for this Sample!
I’ve been wanting to try this Sticky Rice Pu-erh for a long time!
I can’t wait…I just can’t wait to blurt out…I love this stuff!
It tastes soooo good!
Now I’ve spoiled everything didn’t I. No need to read further.
Don’t you want to know why I blurted it out? (A few of you just said “No, not really.”)
It’s ok, my feelings won’t be hurt. I’m just an old disabled woman approaching my last breath on this earth! Sniff. (guilt)
Well, now that I’ve stooped so low…let’s get on with it!
The little cute Pu-erh Tuocha seems so harmless…so…‘little bitty cutesy’…until you put some boiling water on the little sucker and it explodes into a MONSTER GREEN floating island!
(Do not use a tea ball for this tuocha). I used a glass PIAO and half expected little fish to come out of the green algae clumpy SEA WORLD at the bottom of the container.
I steeped my pu-erh too long. The color was brassy gold. The flavor…um that was good…a bit bitter with some tannin. I could really taste the sticky rice which was the bomb! I knew that the right steep time would be fantastic tasting. (I finished that first cup of tea…yum!)
I cut the steep time in half but the color of the liquor remained the same. These were some robust leaves…Herculeaves with muscles!
Sipping the sticky rice tea was unbelievably roasty and sweet, like you could chew on your tea and find little pieces of nutmeats or candied things from heaven in a bowl with a spoon. Dessert, coated rice, almost creamy but not quite.
There were many golden cups to come…the liquor was so rich and heavy with flavor that I took my glass mug and put it in the frig for later, just to see how the tea would taste cold.
An old question came to mind…
I’ve asked myself on occasion, would I ever drink a pu-erh with a meal?
Usually, the answer is NO! I like to savor the pu-erh all by itself.
This pu-erh, I would drink to wake up my taste buds before a meal with an appetizer. I might have it with dessert or with a light meal. It expands the way I think about pu-erh’s. My cupboard should have this.
Cold Yes, the cup in the frig was absolutly stunning! Really refreshing!I did sweeten mine a little and loved it that way.
The Monsoon season finally began in the Rockies! Thunder, lightening and rain! Ba Boom!
I didn’t grow up in a place where lightening comes to the ground, so today when I was on Steepster just sitting on my couch looking at my Kindle Fire by my big window a huge bolt came Zip Zing down in the street outside with a Zap Crash that scared me so badly that I bolted and ran into the hall with my cup of tea. If anyone had a camera, I think I could qualify for the cat photo contest that Verdant has going on. A very scared cat cowering in a ball on the floor with big round eyes!
Things did eventually calm down. Drats, I was out of food! Venturing out was brave I think for an ex-California gal. But out I went.
When I grocery shop at Sunflower Natural Market I always meander over to the cold beverage case and look over the chilled tea to see what’s new and what’s local. I found some bottled tea’s that were from Arizona which borders Colorado. They said ‘Unsweetened’ and ‘Brewed in the Bottle’. Hum. No artificial flavors either (mumbling to myself) so I bought one.
I was lazy and picked up a roast chicken with no seasoning. Who does that? No seasoning (I get to do it!). 1 bird = 4 meals for me.
Later, after roasty chicken, I opened up the cold tea and took a long cool blasty drink.
A long cold…unimpressive blasty drink of sour unflavored fruity tea that could be passion fruit I suppose maybe.
The tea smelled more apple, pear and maybe there is passion fruit. Well, to tell the truth it smells like Motts applesauce but tastes very sour.
And tastes like Motts applesauce when you doctor it with sweetening like I did. It was just tooooo sour to drink without sweetening. Yucky!
Here’s the deal. Some fruit you can’t leave in the bottle too long because it gets sour. Unless you temper it with another fruit or sweeten it, bad things happen. Adding black tea didn’t help this fruit. The tannin created a mixture that could take grime off furniture.
Sorry Tia Lilly…this was not a happy unsweetened passion fruit flavor tea experience!
Wah wah :(
Thank you DHart1214 for this Sample tea!
Um breakfast tea! I love my breakfast tea!
Not being a morning person ever in my life, I need help crawling out of my beloved bed. I begin by inching towards the light at the far end of a foreboading tunnel.
My dear father ‘Bill’ used to throw open my bedroom door and do his best WWII bugle call “Time to get up Bonnie”! This would elicit evil words from my innocent mouth that I could never remember when fully awake, but were surely worthy of going to confession. Mom (Pat) would ‘rush’ (poor darling had painful rheumatoid arthritis from age 35) down the hall, “Bill, you know how she is…you can’t wake her up like that!” But dad never learned. He didn’t know that it was painful to be startled awake. I TAKE TIME! (Sure do miss them now and they sure loved each other!)
My morning tea gives me time to pull off those remaining shadowy cobwebs.
The Tea Spot packaging was perfect for a non-morning person. It looked like a big green eye on a white package screaming “Pick Me!”…so I did…since I could see it above all others.
There was a word I could make out…Breakfast…ok. I’m obedient. And a phrase…“boost your mojo!”
Mojo? Where did I put my Mojo? (I think I left it somewhere next to “I’m sexy and I know it!”)
I used a clean Finum filter and steeped this tea 4 minutes.
The scent was light, sweet and fragrant along the line of an Orange Pekoe.
I took a sip and the blend was quite mild without much smoke but having a bit of fruit, a hint of tannin (hardly any really) and medium body. Later I could feel the mojo…as though the caffeine was revving an engine in the background ready to varoom…race ahead through my day.
What black tea was used for this blend? Assam, pekoe,ceylon for sure…what else? Still…I would have thought with so much black tea variety (4 black tea’s are in this blend) there would be more smoke or fruit. Peach, yam, orange pekoe…something deeper.
The caffeine part would be good for someone who likes a kick in the backside like me though. I keep a few high voltage tea’s around for migraine control.
This was a good mid-range morning tea.
Thank you Will Work For Tea for this Sample!
Ah ha! Desert! Roasted Chestnuts? Nah!
As for me Mon Cheri, I do not want roasted chestnuts! I want
macaroons…yes…chestnut macaroons creamy and crunchy.
Have you had them? Rich and perfectly decadent?
There is a glass door not far from my home…‘French Pastry Shop’…it says in fancy black filigree letters. So small a shop, with only 1 large cooled bakery case filled with the most exquisite macarons (French spelling). My favorite ones are Chaud Les Marron Macaron. Lightest cocoa brown…delicate. Only one placed gently in a small paper bag and I’ve scored!
“Where can I go in a hurry?”, I ask myself? There must be a perfect spot in the park to savor this precious treasure.
Can tea be like this?
In the evening, when dinner is a memory…something sweet will add the perfect final touch to my day.
I chose a memory of meandering to the French Pastry Shop for my secret desert as an aid to selecting this tea. Then the enhancement of adding sweetening and a bit of cream (which I think is a must no matter what you say)… just because, how could I not do this?
This is a rich desert tea! If I could get away with sprinkles of chocolate I would do that too! Very satisfying for my sweet craving!
Living a little. Enjoying life.