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Recent Tasting Notes
A whirlwind run to see my mom-in-law + a somewhat extravagant lunch at Carrabba’s (we don’t have one locally, so we splurged) resulted in a very uncomfortable bout of travel tummy when we got home. My bloated belly begged (don’t you just love alliterations?) for a cup of straight-up steeped peppermint.
I grabbed the “unknown” handle for this review, as the leaves are from the unlabeled bulk section at our favorite indie grocery, but I think most of their stuff comes from Frontier Natural Products. At any rate, within 5 minutes of imbibing a double-steeped, double-leafed cup, things started settling down.
Check your cabinets, friends, and make sure you have a stock of plain unadulterated peppermint on hand. Cold and flu season is coming. (I can just hear you all groaning, Yes, dear…you sound like my mother. )
One of the weird “mystery teas” given to me by a coworker – came in a vacuum sealed golden foil bag with ZERO words on it at all, but she said the box it was in was a mix of assorted “Chinese Herbal Infusions”. For a bit more background you can check out this tasting note too:
I’m actually not entirely sure what this one was, even after steeping it up Gongfu and going through the process of inspecting the dry leaves and wet leaves. My best guess would be some kind of dried seaweed – but a different coworker suggested maybe lotus leaves? I’ve had lotus leaves before though and they tasted pretty different from whatever this was so I feel less confident about that…
The dry leaf smelled a little sweet, but mostly very saline/fishy – which was the first indicator it might be seaweed. Steeped, the liquor colour was a very yellow-y amber, kind of like the urine of someone really dehydrated? Unpleasant imagery, I know – but it was a really unpleasant tea. I did five steeps, with an assortment of water temperatures and steep times, and every time this was one of the most (if not THE most) unpleasant teas I’ve ever drank. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted something both so cloyingly sweet and astringent/bitter at the same time – I only managed to take a sip of each of the five steeps and I basically gagged every time. After five attempts I just gave up.
I’d like to think that if I knew what this tisane was that maybe I could have brewed it better than just blindly guessing – but there’s a very real possibility that this was just disgusting…
This marshmallow leaf is very, very old. YEEEEAAARRRRSSSS old…
I’ve also never made it before now – so why do I have it still!? Well, to the surprise of none of my tea friends, am a bit of a hoarder of tea. I’ve never tossed it out, despite it being about three or four years old and never once having it, because “Someday I might crave it”. Such poor logic, I know.
Well… WELL!! Let me tell you!
Earlier this week; I was craving it! I thought to myself “Man, I want something light, herbaceous but not super savory or bitter, and caffeine free… I wonder if I have any tea that fits that!?” And low and motherfucking behold! It was the marshmallow leaf’s time to shine! Sure, it tasted pretty flat/stale – but it was soft and warm and worked for what I was in the mood for!
Who wants to take bets on how long it’ll take me to be in the mood to drink it again!?
OK, experts: here’s the closest online picture I can find of a gift originating from Chinatown in Chicago. This is from a Kazakhstani source; mine’s in Chinese, otherwise it’s identical. Leaves are rolled thin, close to an inch long. I don’t have gongfu gear, so no doubt improper steeping isn’t helping…but even so, it has a really nice, bready scent and flavor. What do we have here?
Going to borrow this Steepster page to write about the other tea mentioned in this tasting note: https://steepster.com/roswellstrange/posts/388247#likes
Like the other tea that my roommate was gifted from China & shared, we drank this one Grandpa style. I wish I knew more background on this tea, but alas I do not. Visually it was STUNNING though; super huge leaves, and almost completely golden/tippy. Amazing dry aroma of chocolate. Steeped, it was also deeply chocolate tasting, but with undertones of malt and sweet potato. Very rich, and smooth – full bodied. I LOVED it,
So once again, thank you to my roommate Jennifer for the share!
EDIT: The leaf looked sort of like this, but the leaves were wider across and a bit fuzzier than how the picture looks…
So – my two roommates are Chinese, and this past Chinese New Year both of them went and stayed with their families for a few weeks instead of being at the apartment.
When they came back, one of them had received two tea jars of loose leaf tea as a New Year’s gift – a jasmine green tea and a very tippy black tea. They had been sent over directly from China, from a family member who owns a tea garden. Because my roommate, Jennifer, knows I’m very interested in tea she VERY kindly offered to brew both teas up for us to share over dinner. It was a really sweet gesture.
I asked her how she best thought they should be prepared, and she said we should brew them in large mugs without infusers – so basically Grandpa style, though that’s not what she called it. So, that’s what we did!
I’m not really a huge fan of jasmine green tea – but I did enjoy this one. It was very sweet, and quite fresh tasting. This jasmine tea in particular hadn’t had the flowers sorted out of the tea leaf, so visually it was quite strikingly beautiful in the cup. Even if this wasn’t inheritance the type of tea I usually go for, I deeply appreciate the gesture of sharing it and am able to acknowledge that it was beautifully fresh, smooth and really well scented.
Just a random Guava Leaf sample I’ve received from someone in a swap at some point, I guess? No company indicated on the swap packaging…
I don’t know if I’ve had guava leaf before? Perhaps in a blend, but certainly not straight? I’m not entirely sure what I expected – maybe something like blackberry leaf or raspberry leaf? This is roasted though, so it’s quite buttery/toasty. A little bit of that weird sourness that hits you on the sides of your tongue – that happens occasionally with teas/herbal things that have been harshly roasted. Also has some grassiness to it, which I imagine would be a lot more prominent were this unroasted guava leaf.
Uhh… I think ultimately I’m not a fan. It’s weird. Reminds me a little of yaupon, which I also don’t like much at all.
I picked up some barley tea while I was in a Hmart earlier this week. The teabags are huge!! But from my research you really need to steep alot at a time, so I’m guessing they’re single serving. It was roasted, grainy goodness, but I don’t think it’s a tea that I can drink while I’m doing the fasting portion of IF, phooey.
Today is a super duper busy day, I have my grandmother’s death anniversary to attend, a musical show, and then a red eye flight across the country. But tomorrow I shall be in the ‘happiest place on earth’ so hopefully I won’t be too dead. Caffeine to the rescue!
Because I have decided to brew the High Mountain Oolong tea for my ceremony, I have been making it pretty frequently to find out how I like it best in regards to steep time and amount of tea and water used. I have come to the conclusion that I like this tea best with 3 grams of tea and 12 ounces of water. I like to steep it between 3 minutes and 15 seconds to 3 minutes and 30 seconds, which is how I made it this time. This tea is the perfect amount of flavor for me, without it being too overpowering. I really like teas that have a very calm flavor, because it puts my mind to ease and I feel very peaceful and relaxed. It has a slightly sweet aftertaste too, which is nice. I enjoy this tea the most when I make it in the morning to get my day going in a positive way.
After tasting several different teas, my favorite overall has been the High Mountain Oolong tea. I decided to make it again to see if this is the tea that I want to use for the tea ceremony. Last time I made this tea, it was very light and refreshing. Because the flavor was so light last time, this time I decided to make it with 3 grams of tea instead of 2. I also decided to brew the tea for a few seconds longer. I made this tea around 9 o’clock in the morning. After taking the time to enjoy it, I decided that this tea is definitely my favorite and I will probably end up using it in my tea ceremony. I also really enjoyed the stronger flavor, from using another gram of tea leaves and steeping the tea for a few seconds longer. I will probably make this tea several more times before the ceremony, to see which way I like the tea best (temperature, steep time, amount of tea and water).
I bought this High Mountain Oolong Tea from the Buford Highway Farmer’s market. I am not quite sure what brand it is because everything else on the packaging is in Chinese characters. I did some research, though, and found out that this tea is actually from Taiwan. I have had oolong tea before, and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to brewing it myself. I made it at 8 o’clock in the morning, because I have found that I really enjoying starting off my mornings with a cup of tea. After steeping this tea for 3 minutes, I let the tea cool down a minute before trying it. I really enjoyed this tea. It had a very nice, light flavor. I was a little bit sweet, but definitely not overpowering. I felt that this tea was very calming, especially the aroma. This is definitely my favorite of the teas that I have tasted thus far.
The pleasant smell of this tea is almost reminiscent of chocolate. This is followed the standard bitterness, however this gives way to a very pleasant, lingering sweetness. In considering the process through which this tea is created, with the difficulty of picking the buds, and how the bushes grow from harsh mountains, the pleasantness of the flavor is all the more pronounced.
A coworker came into work the other day with some kombucha she’d purchased from someone in town; I really wish I remembered where it was from because I’d very much like to credit the maker, but alas…
This was the best Kombucha I’ve had in a LONG time though – it tasted a lot like choke cherries, and reminded me of summers spent at my Grandmas. Also, a lot of kombucha has that acidic vinegar quality and this one very cleverly leaned into that and used it as a way to play up and enhance the ‘sour cherry’ taste/vibes. It was just really good overall.
This tea was a gift from a family member’s trip to Europe. All of the other teas were herbal blends that were brought back. I have a pretty big bag of this along with the big bags of the herbals. The package is called “Lakrits” and says it’s made in Stockholm,Sweden. My family wasn’t sure if this was tea or potpourri when they bought it but it’s tea.
Flavor wise this tea reminds me more of anise than licorice although I’m only basing this off of herbal licorice teas consisting of licorice root. I’ve never had a black tea with licorice before. My guess is that the black tea base is an assam because of the taste and slightly malty flavor. It’s far from a favorite tea but is not a bad tea. It’s just not a flavor of black tea that I’d choose.
Flavors: Anise, Licorice
This tea totally matches my mood today – slight bitterness, with a bit of brightness peeking through. if I can ignore the astringency it’s not a bad tea, but it reminds me why I usually stay away from Darjeeling teas in general. (I’ll take any Assam or Yunnan over a Darjeeling)
Why am I bitter? Oh! Thanks for asking. :P
Turns out when I went to update my tea spreadsheet last night, I broke the sort order in my columns and now my ratings are no longer tied to the teas and it’s a huge mess and several years of data that’s just… nonsensical? I saved after I broke it so I don’t see how to get back.
But, fine. Ok. New start. I’m here. I can add my cupboard here. I can create a new spreadsheet, and why not. My tastes have adjusted over the years, along with my budget. :P (That’s the brightness poking through! :D)
I am using this for a Ginseng Oolong because I have no idea what company it came from. My friend from my tea book club went on a two week trip to China and brought me back a gift tin of Ginseng Oolong. The tin and vacuum sealed bag is all in Chinese and she couldn’t tell me much about it. The only English it has on it says “A taste of zen.” I looked it up and couldn’t find a tea company with that name so I don’t think it is the company name.
This is my first ginseng oolong. It certainly looks pretty cool. The flavor I am mainly getting is the vegetal and slightly floral flavor of a lightly roasted oolong along with almost a sweet licorice type flavor that I assume is the ginseng.
The smell of the brewed tea didn’t appeal to me as it smelled very green and most greens and lightly roasted oolongs are not exactly my favorite. But the flavor, while being much of the green oolong, is saved a bit because I do enjoy whatever flavor the ginseng is imparting along with a throat coating sensation which I tend to enjoy.
Flavors: Floral, Green, Licorice