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Recent Tasting Notes
Gongfu Sipdown (715)!
I’ve been trying something new with tasting notes – for a few months I was queuing everything up from the week and then writing all the notes up on Saturday but that was starting to feel exhausting to me and I realized that with Advent Calender season coming up I’ll be drinking 5+ teas a day just SPECIFICALLY from advents. So, the number of tasting notes I’d be doing in one day would have been insane. What I’ve been doing for a week now is just setting a “cap” to my queue – it can’t exceed more than fifteen teas. That’s been more manageable for me, and I’m still getting the satisfaction of writing tasting notes without the exhaustion I was experiencing on Saturdays…
Anyway! Here’s what I wrote on instagram for this bad boy:
_Sipped an interesting green tea from the Camellia Sinensis Tea Studio today; a Nilgiri grown Mao Feng!! I received this in my MTL tea festival sample bag & I’m happy I did because this unique terroir & production style combo was really educational, but likely not something I’d have independently sought out! A bit bitter and bitingly astringent at times, but that steeps that weren’t had a lovely vegetal sweetness to them that even I, as someone with a bit of a green tea aversion, could appreciate!
I think we got around eight steeps in total, but honestly only about half of them were good. I enjoyed the experience a lot though; every time I get to try a tea with a unique terroir or production I get a little excited!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIGNNOZ0948
Flavors: Asparagus, Fennel Seed, Lettuce, Sugarcane
Sample from variaTEA, but originally from Roswell if I remember right. This one is actually pretty tasty tonight. I am peached out…but apricot I can get behind. While I don’t love green oolong, I am ok with them when done well with a flavour. Ie melon oolong :)
Glad to try this one as I’d consider getting it again if I had a hankering for apricot. Reminds me of one of the Paris teas I brought back but can’t for the life of me remember the name. It was an apricot black if I remember right.
I’ve been putting off writing this tasting note because I don’t fully remember all of the details from drinking this tea, but I feel like the longer I do that the worse my memory of the experience is going to get so I’m just putting an end now to the procrastination.
I thought this was a really nice tea, but I actually didn’t find it to be all that complex drinking it in this style. It was very thick and smooth though, with a really camphorous finish. Like, disinctly camphorous. I remember thinking that I would need to look up the tea on the CS website because it was something that a coworker had brought in to the office to share and I’d sort of just skimmed the name on the packaging before tossing some into my mug, and I remember this saying “2019” but the taste here definitely felt much too intense, smooth, and aged to be from something so young. I still haven’t really done that though, so idk…
Very coating, gives you that soothing back of the throat feeling that’s just good.
Yeah; I liked this a lot…
Something that I had Grandpa style this week!
I’ll be honest, this was a gorgeous looking tea but in terms of taste I found it a bit underwhelming. It didn’t taste unpleasant at all but the flavour never really jumped out or “landed” in a way where it was memorable or tangible. I’d maybe say it was a little sweet and fruity (I see other reviewers said apple, but it wasn’t that distinct for me) with some honey and nutty elements in the finish. Smooth and easy to sip on with no astringency/tannin, but I wish there’d be a bit more “oomph” or clarity of flavour.
I’ve been helping a coworker for the last few months who is in the process of getting her Tea Sommelier certification, as I’ve written about before. The last course she did involved studying different tea producing countries, and one of the weeks was themed around India. She had to learn to blind taste the differences between Nilgiri, Assam, and Darjeeling teas. Ultimately she ended up getting different examples of all three regions (in addition to the course provided teas) from Camellia Sinensis to practice with at home in her spare time.
She shared this one with me though before taking them home, mostly because I’d sampled the other teas she grabbed from CS before but I’d not experienced their Nilgiri black offering before. I found it pretty nice – very full bodied and brisk with a pleasant astringency that kind of hit me at the back of my front teeth. The taste is sort of a brassy, tannic malt with hints of candied citrus peel, oak wood, and buckwheat honey/grains.
It’s a very “full” feeling and well rounded cup, for sure!
Montreal Tea Festival – Tea #21
Last tea to write about from the festival! Pretty impressed with myself for getting all the festival notes done in under a week, actually…
I was excited when I saw CS brewing this up – it’s from the same estate that DT’s Nepal Black comes from, though it’s not the same thing. Still, I couldn’t help but mentally compare the two while I tried this one out. Now, mind you that the brewing technique could play a lot into how the flavours came out in the infusion – but I thought this one seemed a bit lighter in body, but more nuanced in flavour. DT’s Nepal Black is very full bodied and brisk/sweet, with mostly honey and malt notes. This was more medium bodied, and the range of notes I got was a mix of clover honey, malt, milk chocolate, and prune. I liked it a lot, but just based on this one sample I think I surprisingly prefer DT’s Nepal Black for its richer honey notes and sweetness, even if it’s not as complex…
Brought in to work by a coworker; I was excited to try it because it smelled incredibly fresh and sweet, with a little of that greener note I often like in fresh white teas!
I have to say I disagree with CS’s tasting notes – I really can’t find the “cinnamon” in this at all. For me, it was very smooth but nice and light bodied/delicate with very soft notes of fresh hay, and then a mix of Spring Flowers/florals and a greener (but not bitter) cucumber skin note with a TINY bit of lemony citrus.
I enjoyed it a lot though – not enough to pick some up, because Bai Mu Dan is bulky and takes up way more space than I’m willing to dedicate to it – but if she leaves the bag at the office and doesn’t mind, I might dip into it again…
Sample Sipdown (709)!
This was one of my free samples from the joint order that I placed w/ my coworker. I finished it off last night Gongfu, with some strong steeping parameters. The sample was two little mini tuochas and I figured out that I could brew both of them in a gaiwan at a 1g/10ml ratio so that’s what I did. I wanted some thick shou!
Brewing it that strong made for a very bold session w/ incredibly thick liquor. Still quite smooth though with lots of notes of damp soil, minerality, date spread, shredded wheat, and a bit of a savory/brothy finish. Went very well with my strawberries & plums!!
I only steeped around seven infusions though I guarantee the tea could go longer; but in some ways it was like drinking hot infusions of thick oil – tasty oil though. It was very, very filling is more what I was trying to get at, though…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oeNKBdF0lQ
Placed a CS order a week or so ago w/ a coworker because we were both interesting in trying some things – including this aged Sun Moon Lake, which was the first time either of us had even seen aged SML! We were super curious, but for $45/50g neither of us wanted to blindly order it in that high a quantity. So we split the 50g, which made the price tag a little more palatable…
I steeped this Gongfu to test it out – it was really quite lovely! I don’t think I could blindly identify this as Sun Moon Lake based on the flavours observed in the session, and I think that’s likely a good indicator that something has happened during the ‘aging process’ for this tea. Is is a good something? Well I think that’s debatable – because if you want a SML that has typical SML notes you’re probably going to be let down. However, as its own flavour profile it’s really lovely!
Here’s what I wrote on instagram:
Lovely, thick liquor and a VERY sweet profile – notes of dense, syrupy cooked down/stewed plums & red fruit, with a hint of raisin and a bit of malt, leather and mild warming spices (nutmeg?) in the finish…
I look forward to finishing the rest off because it’s so tasty – however, if I’m looking at this from the perspective of smiles to $$$/g spent I don’t think I’d reorder it. It’s good, but it’s also pricey. Instead I’m going to treat this as what it is – I special treat for myself and new experience on my tea bucket list!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftwMLH962-o
Wow this tea has everything it takes to surprise someone who is not familiar with dan congs! It has an astringency that become more prominent with each brews. I really enjoyed this tea! Floral and fruity yummy!
Flavors: Bitter Melon, Dark Wood, Flowers, Guava
This is a simple but tasty black tea with a weakish aroma. I picked it up at the Toronto Tea Festival earlier this year. It has a good balanced astringency and bitterness. As for the taste, I get notes of toffee, roasted grains and a minty/cooling finish. The aftertaste is quite expansive and spicy.
After the session, I noticed the leaves still have a slight green hue to them. This is not a fully oxidized black tea, which is interesting to see.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Grain, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Spearmint, Spicy, Toffee
I am an unapologetic milk-in-my-tea person. Unless it’s NOT a black tea, or if it’s got a fruit flavor, I’m most likely going to add milk to it. I just can’t with this. I don’t want to ruin it. It’s perfect as it is – aromatic, with honey-like notes and an almost fruity finish. This was a generous, not free (but very reasonable!) sample from a tea expo in NY from too long ago, but it’s still lovely, and confirms Camellia Sinensis as a serious, quality tea vendor IMO. It’s a beautiful Chinese black, and I could drink it forever. Even nice as a cold brew using the spent leaves. I would buy more, but will have to hold off as I’ve got the same problem as other tea drinkers – too much tea, not enough time.
Gongfu in the Jin Shuan yixing…
Pulling notes straight from instagram because I just realized I’m been writing tasting notes today for like four hours – and I do know that I wrote a good one on instagram the day that I drank this tea. Worth noting that I drank this w/ food – some cranberry and hazelnut crackers and a cranberry/red wine chevre…
The tea has such a velvety, thick mouthfeel and smooth, buttery/creamy condensed milk & fresh spring flowers profile – really, really brings out the creaminess of the goat cheese, and coats the whole mouth. This crisp, tart notes of cranberry are like an explosion of fruit – made all the more sweet by the thick creamy oolong and floral notes. I really love the contrast of flavours here, it makes both the tart fruit and the silky oolong seem all the more flavourful!
My jin shuan pot is also seasoning really nicely, I’m happy to report!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vABetmtBDj0
Gongfu! (Also last tasting note in the queue – I made good time today)
Finally had a chance to use my beautiful panda pot from BLT; it’s the one that I seasoned a while back with this same tea. The plan, right now, is to only use it for Jin Shuan but we shall see if I decide to expand that dedication over time…
Paired this one with a pint of delicious Quebec Strawberries; no word of a lie they were the best strawberries I’ve ever had. I’m not sure why, but produce in general just seems to be so much better here!? Instagram Notes from the session: Beautiful oolong, with fresh linen and soft, delicate green notes. It’s also so buttery and floral, with a thick and creamy mouthfeel, that I’m kind of getting a strawberries & cream vibe!! Perfection!!
This bad boy lasted around eight good infusions; not the longest I’ve gotten from an oolong but not bad either!
(Obsessed with this band right now…)
I’m on a big Yiwu kick right now – so last weekend I picked up a couple different offerings from CS. It’s very nice being able to get and smell the teas in person, really helped me gauge which ones I wanted to try the most of their current offerings…
This was very pleasant, but unexpected in a lot of ways. Here’s what I wrote about it on instagram, since I think I did a great job of conveying my thoughts into words in my posting there:
“Really, realllllyyy interesting tea! It took a very long time for the flavours to build up but they were super lovely. A silky, soft mouthfeel w/ notes of vanilla bean, delicate and sweet apricot (not a dense, syrupy/overripe stonefruit note), and mellow + creamy trace of marshmallow leaf. A sweet, cooling/camphorous finish – very clean and crisp. It’s sort of jarring seeing the deeper amber liquor from the insusions, but getting such a soft, silky and delicate flavour profile. I’m not one to experience “tea drunkenness” too heavily or frequently, but about halfway through the session I found myself with the warm, cozy body feeling of being slightly buzzed – and it wasn’t just the heat of the apartment! I love forward to drinking the rest of the sample.
So yeah, it was a good tea! Any time I get a natural vanilla note in a tea is a good day, honestly. But also, I’ve never really experienced marshmallow leaf as a note in other teas before, so that was a super unique thing that jumped out to me!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4Gc04OX4PU
This is the 2018 spring harvest. I know, I can’t believe I’m drinking a tea that’s less than a year old! I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 203F for 30, 20, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus two long steeps at the end of the session.
The dry leaf smells like heady lilacs and orchids with a hint of citrus. The first steep is highly floral, with lilacs, gardenias, jasmine, and orchids, plus a vegetal backbone, maybe some parsley, and strong citrus hints. The mouthfeel is a bit oily and the aftertaste is like exhaling perfume. (This is a compliment in my books.) The second steep is more herbaceous, with a saline quality that I noticed because the website pointed it out. If I had to compare it with anything, it would be the Man Lou Xiang from the same company.
The next couple steeps become slightly more vegetal, though still heavily floral and citrusy. However, it’s starting to slide into green tea territory. Steeps five to eight have softer florals, less citrus, and a more saline, vegetal profile. I steeped the tea twice more because I didn’t want to let go, and while the steeps were quite vegetal, they were still tasty.
I highly recommend this tea to anyone who likes floral, slightly fruity oolongs. I can see myself ordering it again.
Flavors: Blood orange, Citrus, Floral, Gardenias, Herbaceous, Jasmine, Orchid, Parsley, Perfume, Salty, Vegetal
I’ve been eyeing up this maple tea ever since CS announced/released it – and thankfully one of my coworkers went out and bought some before I had a chance to, otherwise I would have gone and got some for myself and wound up with 50g of a tea I just am not really into. Like, the dry leaf smelled good – natural maple and a little bit woody/malty. I just found the steeped profile very underwhelming. I know this is natural maple/not really flavoured at all so I didn’t expect anything overly intense – but the maple was so weak/light and not particularly sweet at all. I mean, the black tea base they’ve mixed it with is quite nice: woody, malty and a little bit of a honey taste. However, since the maple didn’t really bring much to the table for me I might as well have just sought out the base itself and drunk that instead…
But now I know, and at least I didn’t blind buy 50g of it.
This tea is much much better when steeped just 4 minutes and not…..however long it was last time. I think I’ll even try 3 next time. The black tea still tastes very ‘dark’ to me here. Not really finding any other words than that. Not quite bitter but i did add some additional sweetener and milk as the package recommended. Quite tasty and I’ve been sharing with a friend at work. This is good but I’ll probably not buy it again.
On our way home from the Sugar Shack, the couple that I had carpooled with and I stopped at a cafe for a proper cup of tea – like many of the cafes here in Montreal, the tea that they were serving came from Camellia Sinensis. I couldn’t remember if I’d actually had this tea before or not – but I didn’t really love the other options available (different green teas, Earl Grey…) so I picked this one for my tea.
Turns out that I have not had this before prior to now, but it is really similar in taste to a couple teas in my cupboard – namely “Surprise Rooibos” from Granville Island Tea Company, which is also just a hodge podge of ingredients thrown into a blend. The main flavour that pops out among all the other things is grapefruit, and lemongrass. Not AMAZING by any stretch, and CS certainly carries far better teas. However, after an afternoon of pretty mediocre teas out at the sugar shack this cup of tea was heavenly. Plus, I think I’m just really on a grapefruit kick at the moment so I really appreciated the grapefruit notes.
I would never purchase this though as loose leaf for at home…
Thanks to Roswell Strange for my first Columbian black tea! How exciting!
Felt like a straight black today, and since this was staring me in the face, I went for it. Initial smell of the leaf was robust and rich, malty and maybe a hint chocolatey – so a great first impression! Brewed up, it was the oddest thing – when it was warm, it tasted like straight up cooked sweet potato. Or butternut squash. I wasn’t quite sure, but it wasn’t sweet. It was very intriguing, but of course I then left the house and the tea cooled; cool it tastes like a nice, malty black – not my favourite profile, but on the yummy side. One weird thing, though – when it was hot, there was the slightest bit of fishiness. I can’t rule out some sort of contamination, as I’ve had pu’erh in infusers lately, and also had smoked salmon yesterday (though I can’t imagine having contaminated an infuser with it). It did dissipate as the tea cooled, though.
Something that someone at the office had, and I realized that I’ve never actually had CS’s Silver Needle before despite having tried a bunch of other weird or interesting white teas that they offer – so I asked if I could make myself a cup and was told “Of course, help yourself!”. I love being in an office of tea people…
This was fine, but nothing to write home over. A little bit fruity, but mostly just your typical floral and straw notes. Kind of chamomile-y, which is probably at least part of why I didn’t LOVE it. Not big into that flavor profile…
This is quite an interesting tea. I pulled it out of the TTB and am enjoying my last cup.
There is a lot of lemon and strawberry, it actually tastes a lot like lemon and strawberry PEZ mixed together, but without the sweetness. The base is flavourful and lightly floral. I think it is is a vegetal white like Bai Mu Dan) because there are some herby and bok choy vegetal notes that stand out. It also reminds me of pineapple, maybe based on the acidity and fruity flavour.
Flavors: Candy, Citrus, Floral, Lemon, Pineapple, Strawberry, Vegetal