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Recent Tasting Notes
it’s 2am and this is still delicious. exceptional.
I’m really here to tell someone to buy this so that I don’t have to, it’s a matcha chawan and it is so beautiful. I have a small collection of teaware (including a custom order) from Ray and all of them are exceptionally made and he is a good dude. this one in particular is SO BEAUTIFUL. I already have a matcha chawan from him and I ccccccaaaaannnn’ttttt get this bc I’m trying to be good. so. SOMEONE GET THIS AND TAKE PHOTOS SO THAT I CAN LIVE VICARIOUSLY THROUGH YOU. okay. byyyyeee.
yELLs: THIS IS AN EXCEPTIONAL ICED TEA.
so, Steven Smith Teamaker (or I guess they are just called Smith Tea now) has a free shipping thing going on and I slipped and got some teas, this being one of them. I don’t know why, maybe I just had a hankering for something labelled ‘iced tea’ like that lipton tea my mom made when I was a kid. WHO KNOWS. maybe it was because I thought it was funny and presumptuous to name a tea ‘exceptional’….again, who knows, I can’t be trusted when purchasing things at night. ANYWAY, this is very tasty, there’s some kind of floraly something in here. hmmm.
you know, looking at their website, I wonder if I maybe made this too strong bc my tea is A LOT darker…well, I suppose I did use two of the sachets, but the box said that each sachet makes 1 quart, and I had a 2 quart pitcher. hmmm. oh well. it’s still tasty. it’s also 1AM and maybe should stop drinking tea and eating cheetos bc I have to be at work in a few hours…..
Flavors: Floral, Malt
This is the last of the Steven Smith Teamaker teas that Todd brought to share with me when we met up at Anime Oasis. I had one of the teabags in the hotel while enjoying a My Little Pony bingewatch of the most recent season (yes, two grown adults, one nearing 40 and the other nearing 50, enjoying some MLP while drinking tea!) While all the teas he brought that I hadn’t sampled yet were great, I think this one was by far my favorite. I brought the second teabag home and am having it tonight.
It produces a nice yellow color with the most wonderful aroma; it’s like a dessert somehow, with that toasted nutty smell from the genmai mixed with the sweet floral rose. The flavor is also really wonderful, if you like floral teas (which I do!); the base is sencha mixed with Mao Feng, so it has more of a beany, vegetal quality which pairs nicely with the roasted nut notes from the genmai. There is also a subtle hint of bergamot in this blend, not enough to be overbearing on the flavor, but just enough to give the base a bit of a citrusy note, which also compliments the vegetal flavor nicely. The citrus notes also pair great with the floral rose sweetness that comes in midsip and pops on the roof of the mouth and lingers slightly in the aftertaste; it is not an especially strong rose taste, and doesn’t taste like they’ve added a bunch of rose oil or tried to make the tea an especially strong rose tea, but the florality is noticable in the aroma and flavor and blends really well with the other flavor notes in the cup. The genmai adds that nice roasted flavor that I find really settling and relaxing on my stomach, and somehow the rose just adds to that soothing, relaxing sensation.
This is one of Steven Smith Teamaker’s real winning blends, in my opinion. I will absolutely pick some of this up when I visit Portland this summer!
Flavors: Beany, Citrus, Floral, Nutty, Roasted nuts, Rose, Smooth, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Vegetal
Todd shared this tea with my last weekend when I met up with him at Anime Oasis in Boise. I brought the teabags home with me and made a small pot for my breakfast this morning, before meeting with a realtor.
It steeped up a lovely yellow and had a strong bean aroma, reminding me of Bi Luo Chuns I’ve had in the past. The flavor reminds me of Bi Luo Chun as well, in that I’m getting that strong, forward savory bean flavor on my palate that I always get from those. It’s quite vegetal, and I’d say aside from the sharp bean note I taste a leafy green taste closest to aspargus and spinach, with a subtle sweetening toward the end of the sip, a bit like a cross of florals and very wet melon.
It’s a nice green tea, savory, smooth, and lacking astringency, and accompanying my breakfast nicely.
Flavors: Asparagus, Beany, Floral, Green Beans, Melon, Smooth, Spinach, Vegetal
Todd shared this tea with me last weekend when I met up with him at Anime Oasis in Boise. Of course, because I was tired after a full day of walking around downtown Boise and going to con panels and was happy to curl up on the hotel bed with a cup of tea and knit my blankie while binge-watching The Umbrella Academy, it wasn’t like I wrote a review for this while I was drinking the tea, like I usually do, and with my migraine-brain, my memory is worse than Dory. I do recall it was a very nice black tea blend, though, on par with the quality I’ve come to associate with Steven Smith Teamaker. It was malty, but I remember a nice, but not overbearing, smoky note to the tea which made the presense of Chinese tea leaves very noticable, and I always dig a black tea blend with a strong Chinese black flavor. I really love Steven Smith Teamaker’s British Brunch (formerly called Brahmin) and rank that one of my favorite EB’s of all time, and it would be hard for me to recall off the top of my head which of these two breakfast blends is superior; if I ever have the chance to sample Portland Breakfast again, I’ll try to write something “in the moment” so I can better record the flavor notes. But I at least wanted to jot something down for the history books that I tried this one this year.
Flavors: Malt, Smoke
My sleep has been very disturbed… either I can’t fall asleep properly at night, or wake too early in the morning. This is one of those early mornings, so I just decided to get up and make a warm cup of tea before work (the game plan lately has been taking iced tea water bottles to work… it’s been taking me eons to try to work through nearly 100g of a green pomegranate tea in big iced tea batches, finally down to the last 20g of that!) Making this one teabag sampler I got from a cupboard sale from Ost last summer… thank you Ost! I love Steven Smith Teamaker and appreciate the chance to try another of their teas!
So this is their darj black tea offering. It smells very malty, with a slight honey quality. The flavor is quite nice. I get a bit of that autumn leaf component, but it isn’t too strong; it blends with a malty/baked bread note, a honeyed sweetness, and there is a strong floral presense toward the end of the sip. I’m getting a touch of a citrus note lingering on my tongue, too. It’s a very light and sweet black tea. Those that like “hearty” black teas in the morning may not prefer something like this until the afternoon, but I quite like it, especially since I don’t brew blacks dark/strong/to take milk/sugar. It’s very smooth, and I’m especially liking that touch of florality!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Citrus, Floral, Honey, Malt, Smooth, Sweet
Sampler Sunday! I only had one teabag of this, and after being impressed with my Steven Smith Teamaker tea yesterday, decided I’d have this for my herbal tonight. But I do have to be in a certain mood for warm hibiscus — I perfer it iced — so this afternoon I dropped the teabag in a cup of water to let it cold brew. It is now a vibrant red and has probably had ample time to cold brew given I usually brew four cups of iced tea at a time and this was just a single cup.
It smells lovely. I can smell the sarsparilla, which is one of my favorite notes in a tea, though I don’t think I’ve ever had it paired with hibiscus, so I’m curious about the flavor. It also has a somewhat floral aroma. The flavor has that nice tangy flavor I enjoy (you know me, I’m a huge hibi fan!) but there is definitely a softening sweetness to this tea, as it isn’t as tart as many of the more fruity hibi teas I’ve tried. It doesn’t have that really strong “fruit punch” taste to it either… there is the typical hibiscus fruitiness, but the sarsparilla brings in more of a… soda sweetness/creamy feeling? They are two flavors that one wouldn’t think would fit together but they oddly do. Almost like cherry soda, except not that sweet or extreme, but a bit of that vibe. I’m not really picking out any particular floral notes from the tea, but I do get a floral sweetness from the tea.
I don’t think stalwart hibiscus-haters would be converted by this, but this is a hibiscus tea that has a lot of natural sweetening elements without using the other most-hated ingredient on Steepster, stevia; it is quite surprising how much balance the sarsparilla brings and I do think it brings out a somewhat “natural” cherry soda element to the tea when cold brewed. With sweetener added that may be even more prevalent, but I like it fine as is. I’d happily stock more of this to cold brew by the quart over the summer, and probably will when I visit Steven Smith Teamaker on my Portland vacation this coming summer.
Flavors: Cherry, Floral, Fruity, Hibiscus, Root Beer, Sarsaparilla, Sweet, Tangy
Sampler Saturday! I had a single teabag of this herbal and decided to brew it up tonight. In general I’ve always been very impressed with Steven Smith Teamaker blends, so I’m hoping this will be nice.
Gave this a nice long steep, a bit over the five minutes I usually give rooibos just because I was busy with things, but eh… it’s rooibos, you can’t really oversteep it. It’s a proper ruby red color, and smells a bit like stonefruit and pear? The ingredients don’t really give any hints to the “natural fruit flavors” in this, so I wonder how far off I am…
This is pretty nice. Better than many of the rooibos I’ve had recently (but then, I drank one with chamomile in it yesterday, so that bar was pretty low, heh). I’m getting a natural very subtle smoky note which I’ve never tasted from rooibos or honeybush before, but it isn’t unpleasant, and I’m very sensitive to smoky notes; it blends nicely with that slight woodiness perfectly, actually. And just the tiniest hint of pepper. I’m also getting a vanilla note from this, which is quite nice, and it brings out a lovely natural sweetness in the cup. Usually whenever fruit flavors are added to rooibos it tends to bring out the sharper, medicinal notes for me, but thankfully I’m not getting that taste here at all; the fruit flavoring is more on the subtle side, letting the natural notes of the rooibos and honeybush shine, but it is there, and I’d say it is sort of an apple/pear sort of flavor. With that woody/smoky rooibos note, the natural sweetness, and the apple and pear paired together, my mind is stretching this a bit to baked fruit or cobbler, just minus the cinnamon/spices or pastry-sweet elements.
The more I sip on this and unwind, the more I’m really getting into this. Ya, I think Steven Smith Teamaker has won again for me!
Flavors: Apple, Pear, Pepper, Rooibos, Smoke, Stonefruits, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
A single teabag from Ost’s sale! Thanks very much! I had high hopes for a bergamot blend on this blustery day. Upon opening the package, the dry leaf hardly had a hint of bergamot at all. So I guess those only wanting a hint of bergamot would like this? But I like MORE. It’s a good bergamot, so it’s a shame there isn’t more. If I had more than one teabag, using two wouldn’t help add more bergamot because this is a fairly brisk base tea. I wouldn’t use two bags. It would be caffeine overload with two teabags. I can definitely tell there is some assam in there, with its brightness and bread-like flavors, the base itself has a sunny quality. It’s a good base. I’m very glad more of the Ceylon notes were probably drowned by the assam. The dry leaf is a higher quality, nothing like a CTC that you’d find in a teabag. The bergamot is certainly tough to describe… it’s not really lemon or floral. I think it was fruity, like apricots? I don’t know, as again, it’s tough to taste. I think I brewed it as best I could. I certainly don’t suggest five minutes at boiling like the Steven Smith suggests – that would murder this tea. So not the bergamot tea I’d choose, but I wouldn’t mind having more of it when I want an assam with unique bergamot.
Steep #1 // 16 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 7 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
2019 sipdowns: 21
Sipping this one at work. I have to say, Steven Smith has some of the best bagged tea I’ve tried! Their sachets are made of fabric and nice and large with plenty of room for expansion. The leaves inside are large and uncrushed and have a nice aroma. This is definitely one of the better Earl Grey teas I’ve tried (and I love Earl Grey!) Thank you to whoever slipped these tea bags into the Discovery TTB…I have a new brand to add to my list!
Flavors: Bergamot, Smooth
I believe this was from the Discovery TTB. I brewed it up at work so not sure of the water temperature, but it turned out well! A smooth, sweet green tea base with a refreshing lemon mint flavor. Mint can be overwhelming, but this blend had a good balance. It reminded me of Tazos’ Zen (one of my all-time favorite grocery store teas!) but I may actually like this one a bit better.
Flavors: Lemon, Mint, Smooth
It smells toasty, a bit rosy, and delicious!
If they don’t serve this at the Japanese Garden in Portland, it’s a shame. I ordered a box of this based on the concept alone, and I’m glad I did! I love genmaicha, and I love roses. They go great together here. I don’t remember a genmaicha tasting quite this toasty, but I’m definitely a fan.
Contemplate the tranquility of a nice garden while sipping this tea. Mmm.
Flavors: Rose, Toasted Rice, Toasty
Nice, bright peppermint with a grassy note. I don’t know if I’ve had peppermint leaves from the Northwest before. It’s a very pleasant taste, much nicer than peppermint starlight candy or minty toothpaste. Heck, I don’t even use minty toothpaste any more. Bleh.
I remember my favorite tea with peppermint was an herbal from Peet’s, from when they made their own teas, called Xiao’s Blend. It had chamomile and peppermint. Oh hey, they still sell it online, interesting. By the pound?! Is it made by Mighty Leaf? So many questions. Would probably be easy enough to approximate with bulk chamomile and peppermint leaves.
Anyway, got off track there. This tea is good. I’ve now tried each type from my Steven Smith sampler, time to make an order to stock the tea shelf at the office.
Flavors: Grass, Peppermint
It’s very pretty in the bag with all the flowers! It smells like chamomile. It tastes a little sweet, with the lemon myrtle standing out a bit above the chamomile. It’s a bit floral too, with a little minty note.
I’ve been going through my Steven Smith sampler at work one tea at a time. I know it’s a bit silly to drink this as a “wake up” tea in the morning… but it is very tasty.
Flavors: Floral, Lemon, Mint
This reminds me of English breakfast, but reinvented. I’m getting used to that concept from Steven Smith.
I taste caramel, black tea, and note of blackstrap molasses and raisins. It’s also a bit sweet. I’m sure this would go fine British style with milk, but it’s great as-is.
I recommend having this magical tea served to you by a silkie in the English countryside before going about your day learning spells from an ancient magus. But however you prefer is probably fine too.
Flavors: Caramel, Molasses, Raisins, Sweet, Tea
I poured the water slowly and at a distance from the hot water tap at work, to cool it down enough for green tea.
This is a nice, smooth tea. It’s very vegetal, with a strong asparagus note. Good job, Steven Smith.
Flavors: Asparagus, Vegetal
The water from the water cooler hot tap at work is pretty close to boiling.
This smells nice, subtle bergamot.
The balance is great with this one. The bergamot is present but not overpowering, and there’s a creamy mouthfeel. I’ll bet it would make a great London fog too.
Flavors: Bergamot, Black Currant, Tea
This was never my favorite blend- I found it veered too easily into bitter, which is unfortunate.
I actually tried it with a splash of milk, something I almost never do, and found it very agreeable. But, as I almost never have tea with milk, this blend is probably not the breakfast blend for me.
Still, very nice to try!
Less than nice work situation continues, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. We are not out of it yet, but there are huge steps towards a resolution. Gosh I hope so.
Normally I love my job. I love coming into the office, I love by boss, I find the company great, all sorts of good things. This week has certainly needed frequent reminders that everything is good, and I am very happy, and this will pass. In a few years I wont remember it at all.
I’m still not quite sure about this breakfast blend. I’m finding it a little bitter, which is never what you want in your first cup of the day. But there is a richness of flavor, after the initial bitter sip, so I am not opposed to playing around with it.
Well, time to crack open a new tea! And whoo boy, is it a strong one.
Thats not a criticism, exactly. Sometimes a very strong tea is exactly what I need. But this morning I’m finding it maybe a little too malty…
Breakfast blends and I are not always the very best of friends, but I am getting to know them better, which is very good!
My roommate received this tea from a friend as a holiday gift. Looks like the tea is not available at the moment since the season is over. The description on the box said it combines “flavorful Ceylons, rich North Indian Assams, and high-grown Darjeeling teas with rosemary, black currant and a pinch of cassia”, which is a mix definitely different from most of the other things in our absurd tea cabinet. So, I gave it a try.
The version we have is in cloth sachets but based on the total weight I calculated each is about 2.3g. The sachets are a good size and the tea has plenty of room to expand, so no complaint here. I got to use one of our cute but oddly shaped mugs that the steep baskets don’t fit in.
The black tea is lovely and strong, fairly tannic. Of the additional flavors they list, I pretty much just get the rosemary which also hits strongly in the nose, but I absolutely love it. It’s like sitting right next to the Christmas tree and breathing deeply. I’m only docking a few points because reading the description I was expecting a hint of sour fruit from the currants.
Flavors: Earth, Pine, Tannic
Big Hibiscus sounds like the name of a tea that I want nothing to do with…
Not much to my surprise at all, I’m not really into this tea. It’s super tart tasting with this God awful licorice root sweet finish that crawls down the back of your throat and lingers for far too long than is comfortable. Bleck.