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Recent Tasting Notes
Flavors: Cedar, Earth, Hay, Honey
This tea makes you question whether or not there is some sort of higher being, because if there was, surely they wouldn’t let you drink whatever this unholy brew is. I barely have words for this. Surely the presence of so many berries and berry leaves would make this a lovely tea, right? Oh no. Nooooo. The bag is filled with eucalyptus leaves and mistletoe and a bunch of pine nuts that are all waiting in the back alley of the initial steep so they can jump out and give you a puffy black eye. The eucalyptus is so finely ground that it escaped my fine strainer and the fugitive dust assaulted my tongue with every torturous sip. I had to pop 4 tums after finishing the cup because my stomach was so queasy that the first dose of 2 did nothing. My expectations weren’t high based on the ingredient list, but I didn’t think it would go down worse than 2 day old sushi that’s been sitting in the back of the crisper drawer.
Flavors: Biting, Bitter, Eucalyptus, Medicinal
Hmmm, this is not what I expected from the dry aroma. In the bag, the tea was a lovely toasty pile of stemmy pieces. The almond cookie notes are what inspired me to brew this on a Sunday morning at 7 am. When it was covered in 175F water, though, a very intense roasted buttery corn scent filled the area. It went from the appeal of a dark toasted oolong to hot wet movie theater fare in a heartbeat.
After apprehensively pouring the liquid out of my little teapot and into a big pottery mug, I immediately disposed of my leaves because I didn’t think I could stomach another cup of that stuff after this one. The liquor came out of the spout as a deep amber, and the aroma was slightly more straw-like and less Flavacol-saturated popcorn (a definite relief.) My first instinct after tasting the hot brew was to spit it back into the cup because my taste buds didn’t know what do to with it. (I did not because I had just eaten an apple and didn’t want any of that in my cup with this stuff. I persevered.)
After getting used to it, though? And letting it cool a bit so the steam isn’t punching me in the face with that popcorn aroma? Much better. It’s a very dry, savory tea at the start of the sip and yeasty in the mouth. Lots of freshly baked bread notes. If you’re looking for a tea with natural sweetness, this isn’t it, as it’s purely savory with the exception of what could be a jam note but feels like tomato-y rosehip in the aftertaste. It was easier to finish than I expected and I think that this would hit the spot for anyone who prefers dry, umami teas without any vegetal notes. I can’t fault it for the toastiness simply because I’m used to naturally sweet teas with fruity tones.
Not my personal cup of tea, but it’s well-rounded and worth trying.
Flavors: Brown Toast, Popcorn, Straw, Toasty, Yeast
Bought 50g of this for $11 to widen my horizons when it comes to black tea. The liquor is a delightful peachy dark brown, and the aroma is toasty with notes of freshly dried orchard hay. Not a tannic tea by any means, it goes down exceptionally smooth with a dark malty finish. The aftertaste doesn’t linger and I found my cup to be empty before it turned lukewarm, which is a rarity for any tea. I can’t say that it’s the best black I’ve ever had, but it’s likely the smoothest. Very pleasant to sip on a lazy winter afternoon.
Flavors: Hay, Malt, Straw
This was a share from VariaTEA and I had a very weird, love hate relationship with it while drinking it. Initially it tasted quite nice; very creamy and vanilla heavy with hints of cinnamon and fruit. However, as it cooled down it almost started to taste a bit salty and like Play-doh!? It was weird so I stopped drinking the cup. I came back to it later when it was completely cooled, and it was better but not as good as it had been hot – more like a vanilla dough/fondant vibe over a shake.
So… not really sure where I land on this one!? It was a strange experience.
I made a teapop and my kettle was on keep warm and all I could think was Sil telling me to drink more tea after I sent her videos of the tea that has spread all over my apartment. So I tried to think of another tea to that would steep at the same temperature that I could grab from my sipdown/focus box (which has becomes boxes and a drawer since my stash is aging so quickly it seems). This tea is one I have had before and just had a serving left to finish.
Last time I had this, it was in a travel mug and I don’t think it tasted like much. This time it had a giant strawberry in the filter – which Roswell Strange and I once discussed how that doesn’t necessarily impart flavor – which I found weird since this is a cherry tea. With that said, and despite my conversation with Roswell, perhaps it is in my head or perhaps it is the fact that this is not in a travel thermos but I am definitely getting a lot of cherry from this cup. Black tea and cherry flavor. Both present and both nice. Neither overwhelms the other which makes for a nice cherry tea.
Recovering from the Beer Circus and front row madness of a Gogol Bordello show last night, I hadn’t had tea all day. Made a pot for the house tonight.
Strong butterscotch aroma to the dry leaf that when brewed is stronger smelling than in taste. The brewed tea in general is so mellow and with a light mouthfeel that I though it might be a tisane. It’s pleasant though with modest cinnamon and a tinge of fruity, spicy pink peppercorn, neither of which lingers. Those flavors help to temper the sweetness of the butterscotch aroma. The base white tea is a mix of large broken leaf, stray silver needles and plenty of long stems. It doesn’t really contribute much flavor, maybe light hay. I still like what this blend has to offer. More of a calming evening sipper than what I thought would be a dessert tea. It’s nice this evening now that the hangover of last night’s debauchery has passed and the winds have ushered in the clouds that might bring the first rain of the season.
Thanks, Mastress Alita for the gift. I was waiting for the right time to drink this one. And I got your envelope <3
Flavors: Butterscotch, Caramel, Cinnamon, Hay, Peppercorn, Vanilla
What was I thinking? I didn’t want to buy 100g of gyokuro from Yuuki Cha when I placed my order in June so I decided to go with this one from Tealyra when the Father’s Day sale was on. It had some really great reviews on their website.
When I opened the bag and smelled the leaves I never got that fresh deep green aroma I get from a quality gyokuro or shencha. It was a bit faint. They don’t vacuum seal their bags so I assume this would have added to the tea not being as fresh.
This gyokuro was really disappointing. It’s grassy with bitterness even brewed at 60C. I did 4 infusions at 60 and then moved up to 70C. It still stayed grassy, mineral, and faintly bitter throughout. No deep buttery nuttiness, no spinach, hardly any sweetness, no umami, no seaweed. To me, this tea was a waste of my money. Next time I’ll just order the 100g from Yuuki Cha. Even with some of their teas that are not the best, they are way better than this tea.
Flavors: Bitter, Grass, Mineral
Iced Tea Sipdown (218)
Making good work on sipdown this weekend. This one came from Evol Ving Ness. Thank you!
It is actually different than most other fruit tisanes I’ve had. That’s because of the guava which actually comes through. However, guava is a bit of an acquired taste and not one that I’ve personally acquired. So I’m not loving this.
I keep forgetting about my swap with Evol Ving Ness because it is buried under a bunch of other boxes and bags. The bags that Evol used are pretty good so there is not cross contamination but the samples are on the older side. So fingers crossed this has not gone bad and also thank you Evol for the share, even if I have not given it as much attention as I should.
At first sip, nothing appears rancid. There is a lot of sweet and some cinnamon but not much distinct flavor. I guess dates are naturally sweet and this is naturally sweet but there is not a lot going on here. The more I drink, the more date flavor I get but the more sweetness that builds. So this gets a bit cloying. It is different than many other fruit tisanes but different isn’t always great and for me, this is not a favorite. However, I can see it being enjoyed by others.
In other news, yesterday was an interesting day. And by “interesting”, I mean terrible. I had to go in to my doctor’s office to get my blood test results. Since I don’t have vacation days at work, I started working at 7:30 am so I could leave at 3:30 pm to get to my doctor’s appointment at 4:45 pm across town. My concern was the subway getting packed at rush hour given my agoraphobia so I figured best to leave earlier and avoid the rush. However, that meant waking up at 5 am to get to work on time.
When I got to the doctor’s office, my doctor told me that there was something off about my results and she wanted to run more tests. That meant more blood work. I am terrified of needles so my mom came to pick me up from the doctor, assuming I would require more blood work. In the past, I have almost passed out from getting blood drawn and usually had to lie down but the past few times I have been fine so I got my blood drawn sitting up this time. The technician used a butterfly needle like they usually do for me but it took her a while and she had to keep moving the needle around. They took 8 tubes of blood and by the end, I started feeling very not ok. I asked my mom for a lollipop to get some sugars and they finished up the blood work.
That’s when shit hit the fan. I passed out. More than just passed out though. I had a seizure while I was out. So that happened. Thankfully my doctor is not overly concerned about it but its a pretty unsettling feeling. Plus, it meant taking off a day of work which was not my preference but I suppose its a valid response to having a seizure.
There’s already an entry of this tea under Tealyra’s old name, Tealux, but I bought it from Tealyra, so I am going with that designation.
The leaf appears to be Taiwanese Tieguanyin treated with milk and possibly sweetener and mixed with coconut flakes. The smell out of the bag is soapy, so I have my doubts.
Nonetheless, after the rinse, the coconut comes through and so does the gentle milkiness. Each subsequent steep becomes more floral, moving towards vegetal.
I would prefer a thicker milk thing going on here.
It’s ok. Perhaps it would be better fresher. But it is certainly satisfying the craving after all this talk of mixing milk oolong with genmaicha. Perhaps that is the next step for me.
oh, and I went through about five steeps with this. All but the first one, ie. the rinse, were pretty good.
That said, I need to get busy with this one just in case that soapiness is the harbinger of bad coconut news.
Teabox Tuesday! I grabbed this sample from the Discovery Teabox, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and all participants for sharing! I had to run a ton of errands this morning bright and early before work, so by the time I made it to work, this tea was already not as warm as I’d prefer. Still drinkable, though.
This is pretty much a black breakfast sort of tea; I got a lot of malty/toast notes, a bit of a dry autumn leaf flavor, and a bit of a peppery/subtle smoke flavor toward the end of the sip. This is actually a quite nice blend; I often get the autumn leaf taste from darjeelings and I can definitely taste the Keemun in the blend rather distinctly. I just wish I could’ve enjoyed this while it was still properly warm and not sort of luke warm in my thermos. Ah well. Things have just been crazy lately, hense the lack of much tea-goings-on for me of recent.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Malt, Pepper, Smoke, Smooth, Toast
Steeped this up and it smells great. Waiting for it to cool enough that it is drinkable.
Hmm, this is a tricky fruit tea. One first sip, it tastes a bit perfumed. However, as the flavours gel a bit more with cooling, the tastes strike me as quite natural. That said, it is an
odd combination with fruit, star anise, vanilla, and the tartness of likely rose hips and/or hibiscus which makes the sips a bit uneven.
Finally, it seems to me that the honey flavour used here is remarkably like that of Quarter to Tea, and sometimes I am able to pick it out here. Usually though, the honey flavour hides a bit with the muddle of other prominent tastes battling for position.
All said, a pleasant caffeine free tea though.
I was up late this morning and needed to rush to get it together before running for the bus. Funny how the first week of January is always like this after having been so chilled during overeating and holiday days to suddenly have to actually get dressed and get life things done—-barbaric somehow.
Anyway, I wanted a good travel tea, but not one that would lose deliciousness in the carrying. Truthfully, I didn’t want to waste tea that I loved in the busyness of the day. I knew that I would only have some minutes to concentrate on tea and its loveliness while going places and getting things done.
So I chose this one. Good enough but not a tragic loss if sips do not have my full attention.
Enjoyable. Happy to have had this one with me. It was perfect for what the day required.
Here is another of my sipdowns from December. The pouch of this tea I had was purchased back in November 2016, not that I clearly recall buying it. Tealyra always puts an expiration date of one year from the time of purchase on each pouch of tea they sell, so who knows when this tea was actually produced. If I had to guess, I would say Spring 2016, but I cannot really be sure. All I know is that the expiration date on my pouch was November 2017. It had been sitting in its sealed pouch on top of my dresser for at least five or six months. I had been cleaning out one of my tea totes when I found the pouch, noted the expiration date, and decided to throw it out. And then I changed my mind. I decided I wanted to at least try the tea to see if it was still worth drinking and then placed the pouch on top of my dresser. Though it was sitting there in plain sight for months, I totally forgot about it until I was putting some laundry away. I literally looked up and there it was. Curiosity got the better of me at that point. Upon cracking the pouch open, I was greeted by this lovely, complex aroma, realized that the tea was still totally drinkable, and started brewing some immediately. I went through the pouch quickly, only spending about two days with it, but in that time I got a couple of great gongfu sessions out of what I had and even brewed up a killer pot of tea Western style, though I unfortunately did not take any notes when I brewed this tea in that fashion. Even with some age on it, this was still a great Taiwanese black tea with tons to offer. I wish I had gotten around to trying it sooner.
Both of the gongfu sessions were conducted in identical fashion and produced identical results. I started by flash rinsing 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 205 F water and then steeped them for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of honey, cinnamon, pine, roasted almond, and tobacco. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of baked bread, brown sugar, dark chocolate, blackberry, and blueberry. The first infusion then introduced aromas of cream and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of honey, cinnamon, pine, roasted almond, cream, and earth that were chased by hints of tobacco, brown sugar, dark chocolate, raisin, and baked bread. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of rose, raisin, butter, menthol, and black cherry. Hints of blackberry, blueberry, and malt appeared in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediate notes of dark chocolate and brown sugar. I also found new notes of minerals, butter, rose, menthol, black cherry, and smoke, with cooling impressions of menthol and tobacco lingering in the mouth after each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, cream, and baked bread along with somewhat amplified malt notes. These impressions were backed in the mouth by hints of butter, brown sugar, raisin, smoke, pine, and black cherry.
Well, this was an awesome black tea. Its liquor peaked quickly in the mouth and faded just as quickly, but I am guessing that was more due to the age of the leaves with which I was brewing than anything else. Even though it had clearly lost a step in storage, this tea still had a ton to offer both on the nose and in the mouth, producing a long, satisfying session. Apparently, Tealyra has not offered this tea again in the last couple of years, and that is truly a shame. I would love to know which farm produced this tea so that I can try to find a more recent harvest offered by another vendor.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Pine, Raisins, Rose, Smoke, Tobacco
Thank you Evol Ving Ness for the share. This sounded like an interesting blend for sure and I was excited to try it as a cold brew. Unfortunately I found that this was layer upon layer of sweet flavors and the more spicy/savory elements never showed up. Ultimately it ended up being very one note.
Check out my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2019/01/03/cheerful-blend-from-tealyra/
Happy New Year Steepster!! I didn’t quite make it to my goal of 250 teas by the New Year but I got to 254 so I was okay with it. Then today I planned to get to 250 and while I considered making tea numerous times throughout the day, I got overwhelmed by my options and basically got distracted rather than trying to decide. So now I finally decided on this tea shared by Evol Ving Ness and I am sipping on it while I watch the 3rd seasons of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
There is something off about this one. It is sweet and nutty and has a vanilla quality as well as a cake quality which sounds like it should be a positive things but there is an artificial note that is just off putting. It is not terrible but not great either so this one cup is enough for me. Nevertheless, it sounds delightful so I am glad I got a chance to try before I got a chance to buy. Thank you for sharing, Evol Ving Ness!
Discovery TTB #16
I don’t think I’ve ever tried a “purple” oolong before and since purple is my favorite color, I just had to give this one a go! It’s definitely a deeper flavor than most oolongs I’ve tried in the past: rich and nutty with hints of chocolate and smoke. There’s a lingering buttery aftertaste that I’m enjoying as well. Quite lovely, actually!
Flavors: Butter, Chocolate, Nutty, Smoke, Smooth