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Recent Tasting Notes
Sample sipdown! Thanks again to VariaTEA for the swap. :)
Really enjoying this one this morning. I overleafed this last mug, not wanting to be left with a sad half-mug’s worth of leaf, and it took it very well without any bitterness. Because of that, it has a nice POW stick-to-your-ribs sort of strong flavor and body.
I am getting cocoa today, hooray! Along with the usual suspects of bread, caraway, oodles of malt, and a bit of dark, syrupy dried fruit. It has a very savory taste as well, which only adds to the thick & satisfying quality.
Nommy. Raising the rating a little, as I felt this one got better with each mug I made. Will definitely need to get some Golden Monkey into my cupboard on a more permanent basis once I’ve cleared things out a bit. (she says optimistically…)
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Dried Fruit, Malt, Rye, Smooth, Umami
My last teabento sample from VariaTEA. Thanks again for the swap! I figured after having a Ceylon, which is less to my taste, I would switch to a tasty Chinese black tea that I was sure to enjoy.
For some reason, I always have a hard time tasting chocolate notes in teas. I see chocolate mentioned often for Golden Monkey and Fujian black teas in general, but I never seem to find it unless I really look for it, and at that point it’s likely just me tasting it because I want to. And this tea has that same quality for me.
What I do get is oodles of malt and dark pumpernickel or rye bread. The mouthfeel is thick and almost chewy, which really sells the bread angle for me. There’s a faint sticky, raisiny sweetness contrasting with a more savory, earthy mineral note and a hint of smoke.
Could there be a more satisfying tea? I would consider Yunnan teas to be my favorites, but these Fujian varieties are great when you want a deeper, meatier tea that’s almost a meal in itself.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Earth, Malt, Mineral, Raisins, Rye, Smoke, Smooth
Another old swap sample from VariaTEA!
It’s been a while since I’ve had a plain Ceylon tea. A few years ago, I ordered a variety of samples of Assam and Ceylon teas from Capital Tea Ltd. and enjoyed trying the different estates. I may have to do that again soon, once I’ve emptied out my cupboard a little bit more.
This particular Ceylon is from the Amba estate in the Uva province, and tea flowers have been added. It’s quite brisk with medium astringency. It tastes similar to an Assam to me, with pleasant malt, tobacco, and raisin notes. There’s also a nice bready flavor and a touch of honey, and perhaps a bit of citrusy acidity. I’m not getting any floral notes, so I’m not sure which flavors, if any, are coming from the dried tea flowers.
It’s pleasant, but perhaps a bit brisk for my tastes. I’m sure this would take milk very well as a breakfast tea, though that’s not really my style. Not going to rate since I don’t really have a point of reference at the moment…
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Citrus, Honey, Malt, Raisins, Tannic, Tobacco
This is a swap sample, I think it came from VariaTEA? If not, I’m sorry to whoever it was! XD
I love my Teavivre Fengqing dragon pearls, so I’m excited to try this version. I used all of the pearls for my mug – I think it was 6? I didn’t want to be left with any sad abandoned pearls!
This is definitely different from the Teavivre version. It’s lighter, with some musty hay notes that remind me of white tea. There’s a bit of honey here too, rather than cocoa. The bread is there, but is more of a supporting flavor. And I taste a hint of a metallic earthy mineral note. Some raisin starts to poke its head out in the aftertaste, and as the tea cools.
Overall, it’s yummy and still very satisfying for breakfast. However, I do prefer my existing black dragon pearls. Which is good, because they are probably cheaper and this one is out of stock! Thanks VariaTEA for the share, sorry it’s taken me so long to get to it!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Earth, Hay, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Musty, Raisins, Smooth
Finished this one off Grandpa style after getting a new haul of comic books and manga to read. I started with the newest volume of Beastars and, aside from the fact I was just craving a black tea in general, I thought this was a fun combo because I got to drink a tea named for an animal while reading a comic about anthropomorphic animals. That amused me…
This was enjoyable, but definitely better fresher. The flavour was much fruitier than I had anticipated, with a sort of fermented red fruit flavour mixed with salted plum as the leaves sat in the cup as steeped. That would have been delightful on its own, but coupled with the wintergreen notes of the leaves I found the overall profile nice but just a tinyyyy little bit off enough to not be perfectly satisfying.
There’s some really gorgeous looking dry and infused leaf on this one! It was delicious but quite different than any other Sun Moon Lake black teas I’ve had recently (or even just in general) – overripe plum and stewed red fruits, brandy, dandelion, hot hay bails, and rye bread with syrupy thick liquor!! I liked it, but man those first few steeps really through me for a loop because the strong dandelion and hay notes were drastically unexpected. It was like when you take a drink of soda and you expect Coke but it’s actually Sprite – it’s not the Sprite is bad but for a moment it’s the most disgusting thing because your brain is only registering that it’s NOT Coke and that makes it feel wrong…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWnPUQU-Te8
Had this one today after work as a bit of a “wind down” and low key sloppy session; sprawled out in bed and trying to awkwardly read, pour, and not tip over the kettle. It all worked out in the end, though.
This tea is STUNNING – really, all golden bud black teas are, but I’m also a sucker for a good curly or twisted leaf and that (if the name didn’t give it away) is exactly what this is. It tastes pretty damn good too – sweet and full bodied profile of malt, leather, red fruit, prune, honey, and candied yams! Four steeps; not a tea with a lot of longevity, but nice while it’s still going.
Pulled a bunch of black teas to drink through over the upcoming weekend – definitely in a hong mood!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgU5W7HccMA
(This is just feel good music, perfect for a casual afternoon!)
#adventageddon Day Twenty Four – 7/7
Officially the last adventageddon tea! I did it!!
I think it’s cool this was day 24 – in my head when I think of the teas carried by teabento this one is the one that comes to mind first. I know it was/is incredibly popular here on Steepster. I meant to Gongfu it today, but time just got away from me and I waited too long to do it. It’s ok though – I actually have this in my tea stash right now so I can revisit it some other time and still do it Gongfu then!
It’s a really damn good tea though! Super full bodied and rich, with a velvety smooth mouthfeel – almost like melted chocolate! It tastes chocolate-y too – the sort of dense chocolate that truffle-y and somewhere in between milk and dark chocolate. Not the cheap waxy kind but real cocoa heavy chocolate. It’s also quite nutty; I’m very struck by the kind of peanut brittle-y/roasted peanut notes I’m pulling from the mug. Other flavours going on are a pleasant kind of musk or leather type note, a hint of red fruit in the undertones of the tea, and a bit of a barley/grains type of flavour.
It’s complex, and I’m digging that! Definitely one of my favourite teas from teabento this month and I do really see why it blew up here on Steepster and was so popular!
$adventageddon Day Twenty Three – 4/6
- Steeped Gongfu!
- This was a really late night session for me and it kind of feels like it was a fever dream!?
- Short session w/ about five steeps because it’s late and the tea was fading fast too
- Don’t remember the finer details; just that the mouthfeel was a touch astringent
- And the taste was quite sweet and floral, with a buttery green undertone
- I wanted more of a nuttyness, just to tie in with the chosen name…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3g9US1aNN4
#adventageddon Day Twenty Two – 6/6
This was really nice and I’d love to write more about it but I’m so tired right now and just really struggling at the moment to stay on top of writing advent tasting notes so I’m gonna keep it simple instead with some jot notes…
- Six infusions before flavour decline
- Full bodied and thick mouthfeel
- Notes of malt, plum, and warming spices like cinnamon
- With a touch of a woody note
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHwPb2815AQ
#adventageddon Day Twenty One – 4/6
Steeped this one up, along with some sweet odds and ends from around the house that I wanted to eat up before my vacation, this afternoon before finishing up my packing and heading to the airport! This was, shockingly, maybe the best osmanthus oolong that I’ve ever had!? It was incredibly fresh and sweet tasting with, obviously, plenty of osmanthus notes but also a really lively and bright/juicy peach and nectarine note! Paired with triple chocolate cheese, honey pomelo, and pumpkin brittle it made for a decadent and filling last meal in my apartment – at least for the next week, anyway!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ppn7eQSBdJQ
#adventageddon Day Twenty – 4/6
Another straight green offering that I just was not into. I did this one first today, and to be honest I think that was a stroke of brilliance because I was so tired and groggy that I don’t remember a thing about it other than it really strongly having that seaweed note I don’t like. I just powered through the mug, and moved on to the next advent tea.
#adventageddon Day Eighteen – 1/6
So, it was an absolutely INSANELY busy day at work today with tons and tons of back to back meetings. I really struggled to get my advent teas in during the day, and I held off on this one because I was really hoping for a long enough respite in between meetings to brew it Gongfu. That didn’t happen.
It was also our office Christmas party tonight – I actually just got home from it, and I am totally a little bit drunk. We left for the party straight from work/the office so this is the first chance all evening I’ve had to drink this tea. It sucks because I feel like I’m almost wasting the sample by having it at eleven at night when I’m drunk but I committed to having all the advent teas in one day and it will absolutely bug me if I don’t drink this tea knowing that I had the time to do so…
So what does it taste like!? Well, it tastes really good – but after a night of drinking and basically just eating fancy hummus and donuts I think anything would likely taste good. So I don’t know how much of that is the tea talking and how much is the alcohol. I can taste that it’s mildly roasted though, the toasty note is really pleasant. The restaurant we were at tonight was SO LOUD and my ears will NOT stop ringing – but this is definitely relaxing me, and I feel a bit more mellowed out.
Overall? Nice tea! Not the way I’d prefer to be drinking it though…
#adventageddon Day Seventeen – 1/6
Worst advent tea of the day – but not becuase it’s a bad tea, just more because it’s a very forward green tea profile and that’s not my thing. Thankfully a coworker really liked it so I was able to pass off most of the cup. Very weirdly, the dry leaf aroma REALLY strongly smelled like freshly mowed grass in a summer heatwave and really sweet, waxy white chocolate.
Steeped it didn’t taste like white chocolate at all though – very nutty and sweet but ultimately still really grassy and unpleasant to me. Green tea fans, however, I think would probably be into this.
#adventageddon Day Sixteen – 6/6
I’ve been waiting to try this tea since first receiving this advent – I accidently saw it while I was setting up the advent (it’s one of those cute ones that’s hung on a string with clothes pins) and then immediately forgot which day it was, but damn if I didn’t get hooked on the idea of a Nepalese Oriental Beauty! I definitely don’t think I’ve tried one before…
This was fascinating – and delicious! I have to say that the most striking element of this tea for me was a thick, sweet and jammy strawberry/raspberry note that was particularly present in the early two or three infusions. Like a particularly dense and freshly made fruit preserve! Aside from that there was a light astringency and bitterness, notes of orange blossom and thick creamed honey, and a little toasty bread note. So, basically, it’s like having a delicious slice of fresh bread topped with jams and honeys galore!
Also interesting is that I really didn’t taste much of the notes that teabento describes the tea having – but I loved it all the same!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyY7Yvx2PYA
#adventageddon Day Fifteen – 3/6
Gongfu – and what a wonderful session it was!
I love rose scented oolongs so much, I was thrilled to see one included in this advent. There have been a couple rose teas in my advent assortment this year, but nothing this overt (or high quality). It wasn’t overly complicated, but the rose was deeply aromatic and present – heady and penetrating/entrancing. The liquor was thick and smooth, and coated the whole palate. I felt wrapped up in this session of rose oolong – as if someone had draped the most snuggly blanket around me and given me a peck on the forward super tenderly…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkLjqFpBh84
(So, I recently discovered FKA Twigs and I am obsessed! So haunting, and so beautiful…)
#adventageddon Day Thirteen – 1/6
We’re past the halfway mark, baby!! That is so exhilarating, but also horrifying because it means about half the month has already and it’s just insane to think about time passing so quickly. Also, now that we’re past day twelve it means adding in the 52Teas “12 Days of Christmas” teas to the mix – so six teas a day.
The good news for today is that I’m already through all six teas! That means tonight I get to drink what I want to drink! Hooray for that! I’m even having a calm enough work afternoon that I can get through a couple of the tasting notes.
This Dong Ding was a life saver today – by pure coincidence every other tea from the day’s calendars ended up being spiced in some way so having a straight tea within spice notes was a breath of fresh air! I saved it for my last tea, as a sort of celebratory cuppa, and am sipping on it right now. I wanted to Gongfu it but there’s not enough leaf in the day’s sample for the size of gaiwan that I have at work – so Western cuppa it was!
This is so creamy and smooth, and maybe that’s because it’s following five spiced teas but I’m really finding myself enamored with the buttery floral elements and sweet toasty nutty notes that are emerging from this cup. It’s probably the most perfect thing that I could have made to wrap up the week because, man, it’s been a stressful one and everything about today’s cup just screams “cozy” to me!
#adventageddon Day Twelve – 5/5
Last for the day – drinking it now. Barely managed to sneak this one in for the day, mostly because it’s another green tea and I put it off for the whole afternoon and evening. It looked pretty darn green for a tea that’s supposed to, by definition, be made of stems…
I don’t at all think this is a bad quality tea, but wow is is not my thing! It’s really vegetal and oceanic – hard notes of asparagus and seaweed. Really lingering on the palate, and just icky and gross. Again, not icky and gross ‘cause it’s a bad tea but just because I do not enjoy those flavour notes. The only redeeming thing here is that the mouthfeel is very soft and buttery.
Shuddering through this cup though – I wont waste it, but big nope to any future cups of it.
#adventageddon Day 11 – 5/5
Unfortunately my sense of taste is a little bit dulled today, but I still really enjoyed the elements of today’s adventageddon selection that I could taste!! This was a simply visually stunning 2nd Flush black tea from Nepal, with some woodier elements of honey, a touch of wild flowers, and peach jam. I wish I hadn’t been as stuffed up and could have experienced these notes more sharply/vibrantly, so this is a tea I’ll be keeping in mind post advent season to reorder/sample. The ritual of #gongfu is so meditative and calming though, even when sick.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCmwHpfVy6g
#adventageddon Day 10 – 1/5
This is technically the last tea from today’s line up that I had – but I’m currently drinking it so I figured I’d start today’s notes here while it’s fresh in my head. It’s not a bad Genmaicha at all, but it’s certainly much more forward with the green tea in it the blend. That makes sense; the amount of toasted rice in the leaf mix was sparse and the green tea itself was VERY fine. So less toasted rice and more surface area for the green tea? Yeah, it’s gonna have more marine punch.
Flash steeped this one to capitalize on my toasty rice notes and minimize the green tea – boiling water, one minute steep time sharp. I still remember Stacy, from Butiki, teaching me that trick like six years ago and I still use it all the time.
It’s good, nice, comforting, and toasty – but just not the ratio of toastiness I’d prefer. However I think it’s an excellent quality Genmaicha even if I’m a touch meh about the taste for personal taste preferences.
#adventageddon Day Six – 5/5
Last one of the day – I mean to brew it Gongfu but honestly time just really got away from me today at work and I never had the chance to so now I’m just finishing the sample as a Western mug. It smells great; very sweet and honeyed with a starchy element…
Taste wise this is pretty awesome; it’s medium bodied and very smooth without ANY detectable astringency or bitterness at all. The first taste is 100% a thick, creamy honey note. However, there are layers to this tea for sure. In addition to that immediate honey, I’m getting malt, baked bread, a touch of raisin, starchy sweet potato or yams, some cinnamon, and a little bit of caramelized sugar.
I’m really feeling like it was a damn shame I didn’t brew this Gongfu! I just looked for it on Tea Bento’s website too because my thought was that I’d just add it to the list of teas I’ve been building from these advents that I’d actually order after the month is up, but it’s not even listed on their website…
Really though – yum!
#adventageddon Day Five – 3/5
No jot notes because I wrote a summary on instagram:
‘White Lynx’ is fragrant and sweet, with notes of honey, orange blossom, sweet grass, meyer lemon curd, cream, and just a hint of straw!
Also, a thing that I didn’t say is that the dry leaf appearance is fucking GORGEOUS!! Plus, this tasted delicious and is the kind of white tea I would definitely purchase for myself.
#adventageddon Day Four – 4/5
This was another advent tea today which was a little bit of a let down for me – and not in the way I’d expected. When I saw the tea I felt weird about it because I don’t jive with bergamot and I’ve never had a pleasant experience with bergamot mixed with oolong that I can recall. Since I anticipated that, I made the tea as a large teapot to be split between everyone working in the lab with me today.
The dry leaf smelled ok – but not at all like Earl Grey/Bergamot. It was weird, and if I couldn’t smell it on the leaf I was unsure what would come out in the steeped tea. Sure enough, after the pot had steeped we couldn’t taste any bergamot at all in the infusion – you would have never known that this was an “Earl Grey Oolong” from blind tasting. On one hand I felt a bit of a sense of relief, but on the other if you were purchasing this with the intent of receiving an Earl Grey Oolong then I think you’d be deeply disappointed.
The other part is that, aside from not tasting like EG, the oolong itself was a little light/flat tasting and pretty boring. Not nearly as nice as the one I had yesterday, for sure. Just softly/weakly floral and a bit green. Really meh.
#adventageddon Day Three – 3/5
Took a stroll through the ‘Virgin Forest’ this morning; AKA had a tea session with this bizarrely named Shan Lin Xi. I’ve literally never seen a Shan Li Xi named this way; I don’t know if it’s a name Tea Bento came up with on their own of if it’s the “Westernized” version of this tea type’s name (like Golden Lily and Jin Xuan) and I just have never come across it before…
I thought this was a really nice, but atypical, take on this style of oolong tea – the nose of the leaf post rinse was really sweet and citrus heavy w/ hints of “lilac from a distance” and some mild cinnamon and baked “sweet bread” aromas that, altogether, created a kind of vibe that was like those sweet bready buns you get around Easter that sometimes have candied citrus or raisins. It really translated into the taste too; very sweet and fruity with lots of candied orange and Meyer lemon notes, more fragrant lilac with spicy cinnamon/mild clove undertones, and that same sweet bread note. Deeply enjoyable, though!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP8D0d1AuPM