The Tea Smith

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Recent Tasting Notes

70

Teabox Tuesday! This is a flavored white tea sampler I got from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and to those that participated for sharing! I particularly like to cold brew fruity greens and whites so I coldbrewed 6g of leaf overnight in my fridge and then strained and now have it in my work waterbottle today.

I was surprised at the faintly pinkish-red color of the tea. It smells fruity, but I wouldn’t say it is a strong strawberry aroma to me, because it has a potent florality to it; it’s quite pleasant, actually. In the flavor I’m getting a very clean, vegetal taste, slightly grassy, with a hint of cucumber water, but there is a sweet floral note as well. The back of my tongue picks up some autumn leaf before a bit some berry flavor settles over my tongue, but I’d say the flavoring is pretty gentle; I’m okay with that since the white tea notes aren’t overwhelmed by artificiality, which easily becomes the case in flavored greens/whites. It’s refreshing, and the name is actually pretty spot on… the strawberry is subtle. That may or may not be your thing depending on what you want out of a flavored tea.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berry, Cucumber, Floral, Grass, Vegetal

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 6 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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78

Sampler Sunday! This is the last oolong I had left from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and all who participated! I’ve never tried this kind of oolong before and have no idea how old this tea may be by now so take my impression with a grain of salt.

Decided to try to make the time for a gong fu session this morning, which I am also no expert in. I did split the leaf in my sample to use a smaller amount of water in the session since I don’t like how water-heavy/full I get over so many infusions, and then I’d still have enough leaf to compare with a western infusion as well.

3.45g / 70ml (in a 100ml capacity shiboridashi) / 208F / Rinse|20s|25s|30s|40s|50s|60s|75s|90s|120s

I took the tea through nine infusions, though the flavor was noticably starting to fade by the seventh infusion, and the eighth and ninth infusions were very weak. The wet leaf had a toasty aroma that after the first infusion reminded me of a savory stirfry, notibly with cashew and water chestnut aroma. After the last aroma the wet leaf had a more smoky aroma, and also smelled of raisins.

The first two infusions had a very roasty, nutty aroma, but also a lot of sweetness. The flavor was very pleasant, reminding me a lot of houjicha; it tasted of roasted nuts, had a slightly sweet honey note, and had very subtle undertones of minerals/wet rocks and smoke. I was worried it was going to be another smoke bomb like the last oolong I tried, but nope! There is a tanginess that is left on the back of the tongue which I personally quite like. I get a bitter nut (like walnuts) paired with a honey roast vibe. By the third/fourth infusion a lot of woodiness was coming through, and by the fourth infusion through to the end of the session, the sweetness dissipated and the nuttiness was paired more with a mineral/wet rock flavor, with the subtle smoky aftertaste becoming slightly more noticable. I also started getting a slight vegetable taste of wet water chestnuts which became stronger in later steeps. The tangy feeling on the tongue was completely gone by mid-session to late session, only apparent in the first few infusions. There was a very light pepperiness in the last few infusions as the flavor was fading away.

I brewed my western cup with 3g in 350ml with 208F water for 3 minutes. The western cup was quite nice, with a nice toasty, roasted nut flavor and a mineral note toward the end of the sip, with a very subtle touch of smokiness. The sweeter honeyed notes from earlier steeps in the gong fu session and the stronger woody and vegetal water chestnut notes seemed to be the most lacking in the western cuppa. It was very smooth and lacked the tangy component on the back of the tongue I got in the early steeps of my gong fu session as well.

Since I’m a fan of houjicha and this reminded me in a lot of ways of the flavor notes of that tea, I am definitely interested in exploring this type of oolong more.

Flavors: Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Pepper, Roasted nuts, Smoke, Smooth, Tangy, Toasty, Vegetal, Walnut, Wet Rocks, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 3 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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82

Here’s Hoping Teabox – Round Seven- Tea #33
Now this one definitely had some pom flavor! I liked it. Pom fans should give this one a try, not like I know what actual pom tastes like. I might remember having one actual pom in my life. But this is a tasty tea.

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58

Here’s Hoping Teabox – Round Seven- Tea #17
Hmm, seems like too subtle of a strawberry flavor on a not terribly tasty white tea base. Like possibly the strawberry was trying to hide a mediocre white tea? The pouch was sealed when I opened it brand new, so that wasn’t the problem. Possibly I didn’t steep it correctly? I’m surprised there is a big strawberry piece in the description picture… don’t see any in this sample.

MrQuackers

Get a box of that strawberry cereal and toss some dried strawberries in your tea. Woot

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95
drank Emerald Sun by The Tea Smith
2903 tasting notes

Here’s Hoping Teabox – Round Seven- Tea #13
This one is a winner! I’ve never seen this particular combination, though it is similar to a black tea I’ve had before: green tea, planed almonds, oranges and peppercorns blend together to create the most interesting of flavors… they really meld together nicely. Hints of orange from that little wedge and the unique flavor of those red peppercorns with subtle flavor from the almond that is most like marzipan. Half of desserty, half thirst quenching. These are the sorts of teas I like to see in the teabox: tea shops I rarely see and flavor combinations I rarely see.

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95

Great tea.. classic Darjeeling First Flush

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60
drank Milk Oolong by The Tea Smith
580 tasting notes

Here’s Hoping TTB

I love me a good milk oolong, so I’m always down to try a new brand. This one isn’t for me, though…not “milky” enough. The flavor is more floral than creamy. Pleasant enough, but not what I’m looking for in a milk oolong.

Flavors: Floral, Smooth

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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80

It’s pu erh with berries…pretty tasty. But not wow tasty. I did enjoy this as my wake up tea today, and grateful my friend sent me some to try. I did drink this with milk and a little organic cane sugar. I’m sure I will drink the rest of the bag over time. It’s nice and sort of brightening as we sort of struggle between winter ending and spring beginning. This tea is hearty and earthy for winter, but with the fruit flavours that entice spring. I might try a cold brew of this.

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80

This is very dark and rich…is it a pu erh? It does not indicate that it is. but it has that characteristic to the point that I feel like I ought to have done a rinse, and I have added milk and sugar as it has that coffee heaviness. I was not expecting this!

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79

I had this the first night I opened the tea package from my friend. I can only remember right now is that it was a sweet berry white tea. I was surprised that the instructions called for 1tbs instead of 1tsp, but I guess the white peony base is fairly fluffy so you need more. I think I might even try more next time, because the directions on the bag say the amount is based on 6-8oz of water, and my mug is 12oz. I will have to make a note the next time I drink it.

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74

This tea was kind of meh. I had high hopes for it, but it just felt a little bit weak. Maybe I need more leaf. It tasted fine, but I mostly only picked up on the cinnamon notes. I’ll try more leaf next time. I noticed it said 1tsp per 6-8oz of water, and I used my 12oz mug. I used a heaping tsp, so I figured that would be enough. I’ll try 2tsp next time.

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70
drank Milk Oolong by The Tea Smith
2903 tasting notes

Here’s Hoping Teabox – Round Six – Tea #32
A tasting note to say “I drank this”, I guess. An okay oolong with tiny bundles. Not bad, not the best. The oolong was light on any “milk” though. No astringency but no unique flavor notes either.

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80

Cold brewed this last night, but not for long enough, and then foolishly added coconut milk, which was a poor decision. :(

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80

This was sent to me by a friend, along with an awesome haul of hair products she was desperate to get rid of, in exchange for me sending her teas to try (as she is getting ion tea more now since she stopped drinking coffee as much). She listed the few she had from this local merchant (to her), and most had ingredients I could not do, but I picked this one and two others to try, even though this is a rooibos. She had said this one was not as woody as some, and she is right. There is , iirc, a wee bit of hibiscus in this blend, but it’s actually ok, and used very very moderately. I’d have to say it was actually quite tasty, though I did add milk to it, which I think helped cut out some of they woody aspect of the rooibos. I don’t think she is on Steepster yet, just lurking for now, but once she gets my package o tea, she’ll have quite enough to enter into a cupboard and make notes on.

So yeah, rooibos and hibiscus in this one, and I actually like it! It just goes to show that sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to try something new every now and again. Thanks Tara!

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90
drank Dark Goddess Oolong by The Tea Smith
42 tasting notes

Very nice. A bit more of a dark/roasted flavor than I generally prefer, which overwhelms (or maybe replaces?) the flowery/fruity oolong flavors I like best.

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Thank you to Skysamurai for including this in her Secret pumpkin package!

I must admit that if I didn’t know it was a Milk Oolong I wouldn’t have been able to identify it as such. At all.

It is a smooth cup. With a light florally oolong fragrance, but nothing really in your face. No bitterness or astrincey that I could detect, although the recommended steep time is really long comparitive to what I usually brew an oolong (Rec: 5min. I brewed 1st steep @ 5min, 2nd @ 6min). I definately don’t get the creamy notes or the bready notes I’ve gotten from other Milk Oolongs, flavored or unflavored.

Just a mild and non offensive cup. But not much to remember either.

There’s a bunch of other teas I got in my Secret pumpkin package, BUT I just received the Here’s Hoping TTB R5 today and it is massive. I’ll probably be working on that for a bit until I get back to my Secret Pumpkin teas.

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Milk Oolong by The Tea Smith
1095 tasting notes

Trying some of this from the Matcha TTB.
The first thing I notice is an almost earthy grain taste, but it is gone before I can pin point it. This tea is smooth with a very light taste. I’m not a huge fan of oolongs, but I’m trying to understand them better. This one doesn’t captivate me, but is a nice cup none the less.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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70

This was none too special. The leaf was mostly BoP; I could spot few whole leaves. The flavor was diminished. I was not able to finish a gong fu session with this. The leaves carried a burnt oak and sweet grape aroma. I warmed them up and this scent became sweet like s’mores over a campfire. The flavor however was none too sweet. It was a bland non-textured experience. I could feel a slight headache coming on as well. This just ins’t something I’d jump on getting more of. Lately, I’ve been craving smoky and dark oolongs, but I just can’t seem to find one that is satisfactory… I guess my search continues.

https://instagram.com/p/6z16DFzGcX/?taken-by=haveteawilltravel

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Coffee, Grapes

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
boychik

Have you tried any Tao Tea Leaf Yancha?

Haveteawilltravel

I haven’t tried their Yancha before, but I’ve tried most of their roasted oolongs. I just got a few others of theirs to try for the review program.

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drank Shui Xian by The Tea Smith
644 tasting notes

Well… I’m a lil disappointed because the person behind the counter told me this was closer to the green tea spectrum then black, but he was wrong. This definitely has properties closer to black. Amber color. Twig, slight hsy and subtle sweet flavors. Definitely a black oolong. It’s not that I don’t like them I just much prefer green oolong.

Preparation
2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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71
drank Milk Oolong by The Tea Smith
644 tasting notes

When the store clerk told me that no Milk Oolongs come without milk flavoring I should have stopped and bought a different tea but I couldn’t help it. It’s not as good as Davids but but steep time is long and the taste isn’t all that bad. I’ve only been able to get one steep out of the leaves.

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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77
drank Ceylon Star by The Tea Smith
90 tasting notes

Received a sample of this tea with a purchase and just noticed it in my pile. Brewed two teaspoons in about 100 ml gong fu in a kyusu pot for 30 second steeps.

I didn’t notice any special flavors to this tea, to me it just tasted
Iike a regular black tea. Ceylon tea is in many tea bags I’ve had over the years. But the caffeine kick in this is pretty powerful. I had taken an ibuprofen for a pinched nerve in my back and have been doing this for days now. This tea had a sort of Excedrin effect and really boosted the ibuprofen tab.

Honestly this is the best pain relief I’ve had in days. Gonna hoard my little Baggie of this tea. Will recommend this for the caffeine because it is definitely one of the stronger teas I’ve had lately.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML
Ost

Tea and advil helping your pain? that’s awesome! Hope you are able to get more relief!

Cwyn

I repeated this again today and found it worked. I think I need to have a higher caffeine tea so I can take half the dose of ibuprofen, and save my stomach for sheng!

Ost

That’s really awesome! :D

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83
drank Lapsang Souchong by The Tea Smith
90 tasting notes

I ordered two ounces of this tea for a crazy low price of $3.55, along with an order of Lin’s Teaware. The Teasmith’s Lin’s collection is mostly half price right now, I find the cups amazing with their heat distribution qualities. So I ordered cups, then turned around and ordered one more cup and this tea as well as some Rou Gui I have yet to try.

This tea blasts my nose with pine smoke when I open the bag. Western style steeping produced better results for me, my gong fu just ended up too light. I tried two different infusers after that, the Eva Solo and then just one from a Nissan insulated thermos which would likely classify now as vintage since I’ve had it 20 years. Finally I just dumped some of the leaves loose into the teapot and this produced the best brew. My son came downstairs to get a brownie from the pan I baked earlier.

“Mom come out here.”

“What,” annoyed because I’m drinking tea and typing which means leave Mother alone.

“I smell a brat cooking.”

“It’s my tea.”

“It’s not your tea, just come out here.”

But it was the tea. While I was thinking of the piñon incense I used to buy in New Mexico, my son who has never been to the southwest identified the scent of Wisconsin cheesehead childhood. It is his reference. I had him smell the bag of tea, and he was uncertain. He continued to hang a little on the stairs with a little wistful and crestfallen look, he kinda wanted that German brat he smelled to be real. He felt so sure he smelled grilling. Well of course we use wood briquettes to grill, or I cut green maple branches for smoking fish.

Because of my experimenting with parameters and adding water along the way, I can’t say exactly what I used but about 2 tbsp of tea for 28 ounces of water in a 31 oz Bonjour glass teapot. This was more tea than I really needed so I dumped less than half into the pot after the gong fu didn’t work out. Brewed at 208 F, my kettle is set for that temp.

Smoke is long and loud and the tongue tingles. Sweetness from the tea follows only with the long steep. The pine smoke is strong now and needs time to integrate more with the tea. I plan to tin up this tea and let it rest. The vendor site has a couple reviews on using this tea as a rub for meats and fish prior to cooking the meat. One person dried out the used tea and saved it for cooking too.

Flavors: Oak wood, Pine, Smoke, Smoked

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 15 sec 6 tsp 28 OZ / 828 ML
boychik

I love good LS. The cups, the pot…. You are tempting me again ;))

Cwyn

I know, we have that bad effect on each other. I have bought way too much teaware in the past month, heh.

bef

BTW, Lin’s ceramic is forcing the resellers to sell at their target price. This is why the Lin’s products prices at Camellia Sinensis doubled (actually, it was even more than that) a few months ago.

Cwyn

Yeah I had a post up on the Teaware topic about that. Even at the target price, for similar capacity and quality, the teapots are fairly ballpark. What I find to be pricey are the accessories, gong bei and so on.

Cwyn

Update: used the steeped leaves as part of a rub mix for roasted chicken legs. Yum!

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