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Recent Tasting Notes
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
Here is another November sipdown, this one coming from somewhere around the third week of the month. Prior to trying this tea, Wuyi green tea was a new frontier for me. You do not see many vendors offering them, so I was eager to try this one. Overall, I found it to be an interesting and fairly heavy tea. It was a very nice offering, but it was also not something I would rush to reacquire.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 175 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 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, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of corn husk, hay, malt, lemon, and smoke. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of butter and apricot. The first infusion introduced subtle scents of plum and sugarcane. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, butter, corn husk, and hay that were chased by hints of lemon, sour apricot, and sugarcane. The subsequent infusions brought out stronger stone fruit and sugarcane scents as well as aromas of straw, honey, lettuce, and grass. Stronger malt, butter, hay, corn husk, sour apricot and lemon came out in the mouth along with belatedly emerging plum and smoke impressions and new notes of minerals, straw, grass, cream, honey, and lettuce. There were also some interesting hints of seaweed, spinach, kale, umami, and sweet corn in a few places. At the end of the session, I could still pick out subtle notes of minerals, malt, hay, corn husk, and sweet corn that were backed by fleeting impressions of seaweed, sugarcane, grass, butter, and cream.
As mentioned earlier, this was an interesting and satisfying green tea, but it would not be the sort of thing I would wish to consume very frequently. This tea produced a liquor that had a bit of weight and chewiness in the mouth, which was nice, but it also made the tea seem very filling to me. I could see people who like heavier, less refined green teas being into it. Again, I liked it quite a bit, but I just don’t think it’s something I could do very frequently.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Corn Husk, Cream, Grass, Hay, Honey, Kale, Lemon, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Plums, Smoke, Spinach, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami
Discovery TTB #11
Peppercorns in a butterscotch tea? I had to try this one just because I was so intrigued by the appearance of the dry leaf! It had a sweet butterscotch aroma when brewed, but the flavor was mostly the white tea base (which I don’t mind at all, since I love white tea!) with subtle hints of butterscotch, cinnamon, and pepper. Kind of an odd combination, but somehow it works pretty well! I don’t think this is something I’d reach for often, but I’m glad to have sampled it.
Flavors: Butterscotch, Cinnamon, Hay, Peppercorn
Day 8 of Sara’s gift tea advent calendar!
The scent is very mild.
The taste is mild too. It’s a bit earthy, with something… metallic at the end of the sip. There’s a bit of a woody note in there somewhere. The notes are quite balanced. I feel like it’s the kind of tea that could grow on me.
Flavors: Earth, Metallic, Tea, Wood
Day 8 of the homemade advent calender 2018: ginger teas
I got this from the TTB and thought today would be a good day to try it. Oddly enough, I found it tasted a lot like a ginger ale. The ginger spicy flavour was strong, and the tart fruits actually gave it a soda flavour. I normally associate soda with sweet, but this was definitely reminiscent of ginger ale. I see a tea pop in my future.
Flavors: Berry, Citrusy, Ginger, Hibiscus, Pleasantly Sour, Spicy
Discovery Tea box – Tea #22
The last serving of tea I’m removing from the box before passing it on. As usual, a fun experience, though this might be the smallest tea box I’ve ever participated in. I think a tea box should be a nice balance of not-too-big to ship and overwhelming, while also being a large amount of teas you want to try before passing the teabox along. I think I might have tried most of the teas in the tea box that I didn’t try before. And I must say there was A LOT of large pouches with a teaspoon or two of tea in them. But I appreciate tea boxes no matter what!
This was yet another tea I had to add to Steepster (there were many of those) so maybe this tea box actually WAS the ‘discovery tea box’. This tea is a blend of organic darjeeling, keemun, assam, nilgiri black tea leaves. If it was a blind taste test, I would have a difficult time telling any of these teas were here. I think I can taste a bit of keemun and that’s about it. It tastes like a smoky keemun so I’d probably guess there was some lapsang souchong here. But there isn’t. A solid black tea.