teabento

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Recent Tasting Notes

94

I think I just wasn’t feeling any of my travel-mugged teas the other day, because this was so-so. Normally I really like it, though – nice and roasty, toasted chocolatey goodness.

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Steeped Gongfu yesterday, and actually a REALLY good and memorable session. I’ve had a few different Golden Monkey teas this year – it’s a tea type I like but don’t go out of my way to find. This was very stand out in terms of flavour though, and I think will end up being quite a memorable session.

Instagram summary:

Lovely, full bodied #blacktea w/ complex notes of leather, malt, dark cocoa. A slight smokey finish, and a very umami heavy miso high note at the peak of the session.

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0YpbhbAIdM/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga3I5DTIA-E

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74

GUYS!! IT’S HAPPENING!! MY FIRST GONGFU STEEPING SESSION!!! I finally have a gaiwan thanks to Roswell Strange and now I feel like I am on a new level of tea drinking. YAY! Or maybe not yay because I can see this inspiring spending. Look how cute all the teaware is though: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0SFC3_hOsa/?igshid=tonuknbumysd

Anyways, I chose this tea because a lot of the plain teas recommend weights for mls and this just said 2 pieces for 200 ml. So I ordered a scale for tomorrow and then popped 1 piece in my new 100 ml gaiwan.

Per the instructions, I rinsed the tea for 10-15 seconds, though probably longer because the gaiwan conducted much more heat than expected.

My first steep was for 1 min. Or 1.5 mins by the time I got it all into the cup, because again, hot. Then I came here to start my note and then I went to instagram and now I am drinking it. The tea tastes very similar to how I remember it tasting brewed Western style. Malty, though this is a bit more earthy, maybe a touch grassy even. I am new to this so sorry this will probably be terribly non descript. It’s also slightly metallic.

Do you guys put the lid on when you steep? Or just use it to strain the tea? The second steep was 30 s, though more like 50 s once it all made it into the cup. I tried a different pouring method and mostly got boiling tea on my finger. Also tea trays make much more sense to me now since a lot has ended up on my counter as well. This cup is smoother than the last. A hint of smoke. I wanna say the tiniest touch of vanilla right at the back of the sip? Maybe honey? I have no clue what I am doing here. Clearly.

Steep three is 90 s, well actually 98 s. I am getting better already! This one is sweeter but back to being a bit earthy…like honey coated wood…or leather. It’s syrupy but I get wisps of smoke.

Finally steep, per the package directions is 3 minutes. While it steeps, I’m just going to say I think I have to do a guided gongfu where someone tells me what to expect and then I can see if I have any real sense of what I may or may not be tasting. I know everyone is different but I think it would be fun. Ros, I am looking at you.

Okay, back to the tea…this was like 3 min and 18 s by the time it got into the teacup. This one is leathery. Much more leather than the last and I don’t know if there is actual smoke or I just associate smoke with leather flavor. It’s also got some raisin to it. That is what is contributing the sweet this cup as opposed to honey. And some malt is back as the tea is a bit thicker of a mouthfeel.

Alright. That was fun. Thank you Roswell Strange for making it happen. It’s super interesting how the flavor can change steep to steep. Plus, my family was also highly entertained since I basically pulled a kitchen chair up to my kitchen counter by the kettle and sat in the corner, facing the corner, steeping tea, and writing this note. I feel like more time and a better set up would make this more enjoyable. How do you guys usually go about gongfu brewing? Do you move your kettle somewhere comfortable to sit and relax? Do you put water in a pot and take that with you? Do you set up a kitchen chair in the corner of your kitchen? Give me all the advice, steepsterites!

Kittenna

Ahaha, I love this. This would be me trying gongfu too. I have a gaiwan courtesy of Teavivre, and I believe the one time I attempted it, I burned my fingers and that was it. I have delicate little fingers that don’t like hot things, haha. I wonder if gongfu mitts are a thing, for unskilled and sensitive people like me.

Roswell Strange

I’m so excited for you! Enjoy the journey/learning process and the tea! To answer some of your questions, I leave the lid on during steeps. And the for set up, at home I move the kettle to a spot I have cleared on my tea desk (from where it usually hangs out in the kitchen) and have it next to me at my desk, or if I’m not at my desk I transfer the hot water into a large thermal carafe. At work, I’m fortunate to have a desk in the tea lab with a hot water set up literally within arm’s reach – but at my desk outside of the tea lab I also use a thermal carafe set up.

ashmanra

I do use the lid while steeping, and I have had a few gaiwans and you get burns easier with some than with others. Watch some videos of tea masters pouring and practice! I was tilting too much toward my fingers. A little wrist action helped.

LuckyMe

Congrats…gongfu opened up my tea experience as I’m sure it will do for you. And don’t worry about burned fingers. Your fingers will naturally build up tolerance over time :-)

tea-sipper

hahaha derk

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90

Swap Sample Sipdown! (4 | 73)

Finishing off this sample from VariaTEA with a Western steep.

Nom, it’s super delicious this way as well. It’s all warm freshly baked bread spread with creamed cinnamon honey and plum preserves. Nicely malty and satisfying, with a rich and deep brown sugar sweetness. There’s a light floral hint in the aftertaste, alongside a lasting rich and sweet honey note.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Malt, Plums, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tart

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

VariaTEA was kind enough to send me a sample of this one, along with several other teabento blacks. I had a nice, relaxed session with it while watching The Office with my boyfriend.

I didn’t take detailed notes, as I didn’t expect the flavor to change much over time, which it didn’t. Honestly I’m not sure which types of red tea are most suitable for gongfu cha, but since I’m enjoying familiarizing myself with the ritual and exploring different steep times, I don’t really mind if the tea tastes similar throughout the steeps.

Anyway, this one was quite delicious. It has amazing brown sugar notes along with rich malt and deep dried fruit flavors. The rather small leaves are so flavorful! I found the sugary notes to be very sweet and decadent in the early steeps, and they became deeper, like dark burnt sugar, in the later ones. There was also a light musty hay flavor that began to crop up towards the end, and it reminded me a bit of white tea. The last steep had a lovely lasting sweet flavor, and I thought that was a perfect cup to end on.

Overall, very yummy. Smooth, malty, sweet, rich, and slightly fruity. Happily, I have a little bit left over, so I can try it as a Western-style cup next time!

5g – 110ml – 200°F – rinse/10/15/20/30/40/60/120/240s

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Dried Fruit, Hay, Malt, Musty, Plums, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
Kawaii433

Cameron, I’ve been trying to post a reply in the Discussions (Lupicia) but I keep timing out… So I’ll post it here: I especially liked the news about Framboise Chocolat. :D Thank you for following up with them and sharing it with us.

Cameron B.

You’re welcome! It was good to get some confirmation that they carry lots of the seasonal teas. :)

Kawaii433

Yes, that is so awesome. The first day you posted it, I copied and pasted it on a notepad so I can always have the info available. I tried since that day to thank you for your perseverance to get an answer for us. It was the most clarifying info we’ve received yet. Yay <3

tea-sipper

The Office! I loved that show from day one. I feel like they killed all my funny shows that were left this year. In these dark times, I need my funny shows.

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71

Gongfu Sipdown (610)!

Not a bad session; but a short feeling one. I used the whole 8g sample in a 150ml gaiwan, seven infusions. Big initially flavour payoff in steeps 1-4; tons of chocolate/malt and a bit of smoke and raisin in the undertones. Sweet, but not in a “bright” way. The same sort of decadent sweetness as a good brownie. Really quick drop off in flavour though, as is the case with a lot of black tea steeped Gong Fu. Still; a pleasant afternoon session.

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Dexter passed this unopened packet along to me in her surprise box of tea sample gifts. Thank you, Dexter! (Come back!)

Beautiful Ceylon veering in the direction of Darjeeling with those lovely rich caramel raisin notes. And citrus, of course.

It has been making a tired challenging day much better.

And thank you, teabento, for your generous and delicious samples!

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80

Swap Sample Sipdown! (35)

This is one of several teabento samples that VariaTEA was kind enough to send me. Thank you! ❤

In my past tea life, dianhongs were some of my favorite teas, and especially the fuzzy golden ones. So this one is right up my alley! I love the animal associations with these teas, they’re so cute and this one is indeed golden as a lion’s mane. Plus the image of a lion with a curly mane is amusing to me… Perm gone wrong?

Yum, this is smooth and delicious. It has those lovely creamy, malty sweet potato and honeyed bread notes that I would expect from a golden dianhong. There are also some mellow earthy flavors that, for me, are a hallmark of Chinese black teas. On the lighter side, I taste fleeting notes of nectarine and fuzzy apricot, along with a clear and lingering sweetness.

Yummy, love it! I know I also have some unopened dianhong samples from TeaVivre, so it’ll be interesting to compare those with this experience and explore the style a little more.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Creamy, Earth, Honey, Malt, Molasses, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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79

This sample was graciously provided by TeaBento. This is the first time I’ve had unsmoked Lapsang, and I’m very much enjoying it! It’s a delicate black tea and reminds me of biscuits with honey. I’ve been happily sipping it while reading my book and it’s very soothing, with light honey and malty notes. A hint of earthiness rounds out the tea nicely.

Preparation
2 g 19 OZ / 550 ML
Kittenna

Unsmoked lapsang! I might have to look at this one next time I make an order from there!

Bluegreen

Smoked Lapsang is what got me into trying the unsmoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhongs and now I cannot drink the smokey again. Consider yourself warned and proceed at your peril.

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92

Still pretty obsessed with this as an iced tea. Brought some camping, and it wasn’t quite as good, but still satisfying! (Also – baby enjoyed all the new sights and smells of camping! And he slept okay! So it was fun.)

Sil

oooh camping! how did you set up sleeping arrangements?

Kittenna

We cheated and rented a yurt. And brought a pack n play. We’d likely do something similar in a tent, but 1) I don’t think our car is big enough for tent camping with a baby, and 2) I don’t think our tent is big enough, either!

derk

Yurts feel good for the soul. Camping babby, awesome.

gmathis

What an adventure! Sounds delicious if you stayed bug free!

gmathis

(Camping without bugs; what am I thinking? I’m a lot more sensitive to creepy critters than I used to be so they spoil a lot of outdoor fun for me these days.)

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92

Another chilled mug of this today. So good. So much better than fruity iced tea.

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92

I was in the mood for a different kind of iced tea, and pulled this out. I had meant to grab Laoshan Black, but made it over to the kettle before I realized my mistake, and was too lazy to fix it. However, I wasn’t disappointed, so it was worth it. I just brewed a normal cup of this and stuck it in the fridge to chill, and drank it with supper – it was lovely to have the refreshment of a cold beverage with the delicious light roasty chocolate aftertaste of this tea. Will probably repeat this, but only on an individual mug scale (I’m not sharing, at least not with a husband who wouldn’t appreciate it!)

gmathis

This sounds delicious!

Kittenna

It really was! So much so that I was actually craving it, and made another iced cup of it today. It’s a nice change from fruity iced tea!

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92

Had a resteep of this after a friend had the initial infusion. Still delicious, a fairly burnt sort of flavour.

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92

Supper tea from a few days ago. Delicious as usually, a milder chocolate than LB, but still very full-bodied and a bit sweet.

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92

Delicious accompaniment to dessert a few days ago. Love the pairing of a good black tea with something sweet!

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92

Scrumptious! Rich, malty, raisiny black. Had a big travel mug of this for family Christmas the other day.

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Had this one a while ago and initially enjoyed it very much. And then the severe drying effect kicked in.

What causes this dryness? This is not an uncommon thing in teabento teas. Can someone enlighten me?

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94

On the subject of travel-mugged teas… this one. Just not as good in a mug. I guess aroma is a big part of the flavour for this tea, and it just doesn’t work as well when you can’t smell the tea. Still ok, but not the delicious beverage I was looking for.

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94

Nom nom, another delicious travel mug tea. Strangely, the resteep is not great… but I did oversteep it to begin with, so perhaps most of the flavour was taken out (eek, does this mean the first infusion is going to be too strong?)

ETA: I swore I’d had this in a travel mug the other day and it was great. This time, it was not. It was not good at all, boring and flavourless. No idea what I did wrong; I dumped it (only because I had to go through security). Maybe it’s just not meant for a mug?

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94

Another convenient travel mug choice. So good. And I always get at least one more infusion after, as well. So rich and relaxing.

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94

This is a great tea – not as chocolatey as a Laoshan black but a very malty, rich, flavourful black. Bonus, it stands up to multiple infusions as well, likely due to the leaf quality. Highly recommend this tea and the company (every tea I purchased from them was stellar, although I doubt I’ve reviewed any as the order was made while I wasn’t writing notes).

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79

I tried this as a snickerdoodle latte because I very much enjoyed it as a nutella latte and the snickerdoodle latte was very sweet yesterday when made with the banana pudding tea. So I used this tea which maybe isn’t as sweet as my flavored blends and only used 1/2 the sugar suggested. Yet this is not awesome either. The cinnamon is latching onto something in the tea that is really undercutting the snickerdoodle sweetness and making it more of an earthy flavor. This makes the snickerdoodle latte less enjoyable and this tea less enjoyable so basically this was a no go.

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64

An Earthy Chinese tea that tastes like a black tea. I guess I was hoping for a sweet/plum-like oolong with a bit of a roast. Maybe this is 90% oxidized, but I swear this tastes like the many golden tippy Yunnan blacks I’ve tasted. There is some sweetness, but mostly a leathery/Earthy flavour. I would have liked more sweetness or something floral/fruity.

Flavors: Earth, Leather, Mineral

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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