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Recent Tasting Notes
1-2… is this on?
Ok, so it looks like Steepster is working again. I left (again) because I was so dang frustrated that it wasn’t working. But it seems to be functioning again, so I’m here for the moment.
Now, I already reviewed this tea once (Thanks Shae) but I’m doing do again because I learned a valuable lesson for this tea.
Don’t add sweetener.
I was thinking that “oh, I love this tea, but what about a touch of sweetness?” Nope, doesn’t work. All it does is kill all the nuance and subtlety of the flavor and make it taste like a store bought earl grey. And if I wanted store bought earl grey I wouldn’t have reached for Bergamot White Peony. I mean, it isn’t gross, mind you, but it isn’t good either. Sweetener doesn’t make everything better, although I will admit that, as I get down further into the cup, the flavor is improving.
I’m gonna go have a resteep and hope it’s better.
Song of the Moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfv7_iRHXv8
Bergamot White Peony
I woke up this evening to a wonderful surprise – TEA MAIL!
A wonderful box of tea from the awesome Shae
This is the first one I’m trying and the liquor of this is beautiful. It’s a bright gold color, as if tinted with dandelions.
The smell is like honey with bergamot. I know there is no actual honey in this but there is bergamot, so I can’t wait to try it.
Taste is… Oh my word that is heavenly. The bergamot is just perfect in this, being neither too strong nor too weak. It’s just right. The white tea flavor is delicious in this, being rich and complementing the floral notes of the bergamot. There’s a tiny bit of astringency here, but nothing overpowering.
I must say, I am very out of practice. It’s been too long since I had quality tea, so I am having trouble picking this apart. I will say it’s got a wonderful flavor and I am glad I have a whole pouch of this thanks to Shae, and I look forward to many more sessions of this going forward.
(BTW, I’m typing this into a word doc because Steepster isn’t working. Hope this gets fixed soon!)
Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Floral
Samurai Travelling Tea Box – Tea #39
I love cola teas, so I couldn’t resist trying this one. What seems cool about it is that there’s no flavouring or sugar or really anything like that to sort of “help the cola flavour along”. It seems like the goal here is to convey it by just breaking it down to the basic parts and then reassembling again… if that makes sense?
Looking at the ingredients list, I see what they were going for but in terms of execution this is not really cola. That could very easily be from the age – but even still there’s no citrus in this ingredients list and as far as I’m concerned that’s an essential part of the “cola” flavour (cola = spice + citrus at its simplest) so even fresh I have a hard time imaging it would really convey the flavour fully…
What it does taste like is cinnamon – a very nice, bake-y and pastry sort of cinnamon though, like cinnamon infused pie crust or something in that vein. As a cinnamon profile, it’s really quite incredible and so I’ve chosen to just enjoy it for that cinnamon pastry kind of vibe. However, I can’t fully let go of that fact that was supposed to be cola and it’s not.
I actually like this particular blend… but it’s mostly because lavender is a primary flavour. I’m struggling to identify the base, but would guess an oolong? and along with the lavender, there’s a very familiar kind of… cinnamon toast-y flavour that I believe is reminding me of (I had to look this up) Chocolate Phoenix Chai (which I once really loved, but which has been gone for a long time). There must be a commonality in the ingredients. Perhaps it’s ginger, not cinnamon? But a very mild, gentle ginger. Whatever it is, it’s delicious and crave-worthy and suddenly I’m really enjoying this tea. Another missed opportunity to stock up (mixed feelings on that, as usual), but I’ll enjoy what I have! This was an unexpected delight this evening!
ETA: I have one more tea brewed up for tonight, but I don’t want to drink it because the aftertaste of this is so nice! Woe is me.
Just aiming for a less artificially-flavoured tea last night, and happened to pick out this one. I’m not sure a smoky tea was the best choice for last night, but it’s pretty tasty this morning! Nice, sweet smokiness; I’m not picking out other flavours today, though I know this tastes different from the straight base tea (softer, sweeter). Like a gentle, warming campfire in a mug.
An interesting tea. I wanted a (non-DavidsTea) black tea last night, and this was the first one I found in my “drink this/DT roulette” box. It’s a smoky tea, but very smooth and sweet – I think I’m picking up some jasmine? I’m not sure what else, though. Certainly not tasting coriander, despite the large quantity in my bag. It’s really not too bad, actually, as long as one’s in the mood for smoke. Since this is from Verdant, I’d assume the base is their “Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong” tea that I had a few days ago, but I could be wrong.
looks up tea info So I guess I’m right about the base, but wrong about the jasmine – there’s apparently elderberry and an essential oil blend that contains various things, none of which are jasmine. Ah well, that’s how I’m perceiving it.
Not a blend I’d want more of, but I think I have a cup or so left, and will certainly drink it. It also gets points for being quite unique – I think it was intended to be a wellness blend of sorts, but it’s not packed with all the crap that they often have, and it uses an interesting and good quality base.
This is my half of a Verdant tea subscription that I shared with Sil eons ago… I don’t think I actually ever tried it until just recently, though. It wasn’t too bad – I’m not a huge pu’erh fan but it wasn’t objectionable. Just not a favourite. Kind of a collection of various flavours that I couldn’t really pin down, with an unmistakable base. Going to regift this one.
I found this tea in one of my overflow drawers and felt it was overdue a try. Steeping in my ManaTea steeper and a large mug. (Easy steeping while I cross stitch).
This tea bares a wooden and smokey scent in both the raw and steeped forms.
Flavour is smokey with some astringency and a sweet after taste. Wood, leather and burnt bread notes.
It’s actually nicer than I expected. Like a mild Lapsang with a sweet finish. Very autumnal!
This is from last week, I was having virtual tea with someone and I had finished off the first tea that I’d started with and needed to move on to something else. I was in this weird mindset of wanting to still brew Gongfu but craving something more flavoured so I grabbed this older Verdant blend, which I thought might work gongfu.
It’s a nice blend steeped Western style, but brewing Gongfu just extracted a lot of bitterness and astringency, as well as an off fermented fruit/raisin taste that I found off putting too. I gave it a few steeps of attempt, but then just wrote off the session.
Not from last weekend but the one before that…
I’ve been doing a really good job staying on top of my tasting notes for Adventageddon, but the few times I’ve managed to sneak a non-advent tea into my daily assortment (admittedly not many times) I’ve done a poor job of getting those notes written in a timely manner. This was nice though; I don’t remember a lot of the finer details at this point, aside from the fact there was a fruitiness to the cup but then also this pine-y woody quality that reminded me – in a very positive way, of the smell my Grandfather’s wood shop used to have! I always felt a little uncomfortable going into the wood shop as a kid because there was lots and lots of tools and saws lying around in the open, including massive buzz/circular saws, but I used to love to stand in the doorway and just smell it. There was a moment with this cup that brought be back to be a seven year old in that doorway, and it was complete bliss.
Super different experience from the last time that I had this; this time I couldn’t help but dwell on this sweet, juicy and floral note that I was getting from the cup that I can only describe as lychee. Really tasty, still had a roasted element from the oolong and a woody quality, but the surprising fruit note was the star of the cup for sure.
Well, I guess I can’t claim that I had an unproductive day anymore since I literally just powered through over twenty tasting notes that I had backlogged from the week…
Phew; that took so long. It feels good to be starting fresh, though.
This was a cup that I had at work a few days ago; I found it less tasty than the first time I had it. It was definitely a little bit astringent and really woody tasting, and the combo made me feel a little bit like I kept licking a block of wood in between drinking cups of nutty, malty oolong tea with undertones of plum. Would have been nice, if it weren’t for that “wood licking” imagery…
Acquired this one awhile ago from Starfevre and just not getting around to trying it…
It took me a REALLY long time to place what the dry leaf smelled like, but it had this very intensely familiar aroma tinged with nostalgia. I knew it smelled a bit like chocolate to me; not super high quality, but more like the waxy kind used in candies and such. However there was definitely something distinctly “other” and that was something I couldn’t put my finger on. Finally, a few days ago, it smacked me right in the face. The tea smells exactly like Glosette’s Raisins, with like maybe just a couple of the Glosette’s peanuts tossed in as well? I actually hated BOTH of those as a kid, but as an adult have developed a deeper appreciate for them. I still prefer the peanuts, though. Raisins are kind of icky…
Steeped up this loses a lot of that waxy chocolate/raisin sort of quality though and whats left is much more of a sweet but very nutty/toasty and mineral note heavy oolong flavour with an undertone of prune and stonefruit like flavour. I find it interesting that those are the fruit notes I’m tasting, given that there is actual fruit in this blend – and it’s something COMPLETELY different from prune/stonefruit. Perhaps whisps of chocolate at the top of the sip, but not anywhere close to the same way I was getting in the dry aroma of the leaf. It’s honestly somewhat medium to light bodied and not exactly bursting with flavour. Likely because it’s really old. The finish is a little bit metallic.
All in all, I’m still really enjoying it though – I like that darker oolong roastyness and nutty combo, and since I’ve been reading most of the afternoon it’s been quite comforting having something with this sort of profile to sip away at slowly.
This is a belated review of the 2016 harvest of this tea.
I’m having trouble formulating a thoughtful review of this tea because I adore it so much. It’s very reminiscent of Verdant’s Golden Fleece, but it’s a bit more approachable and comforting. If I wanted to treat myself or have an especially contemplative session I’d still reach for Golden Fleece, but this Jin Jun Mei is something I could see being closer to a daily drinker.
Every time I take a sniff of the aroma of this tea I catch something different: lemon, mushroom, wood, moss, jasmine, cinnamon, nutmeg, yeast, bread. The mouthfeel is slick and smooth with a medium body. Not nearly as thick and textured as Golden Fleece.
This is a tea where the scent very much matches the taste. Some infusions taste so strong of honey and lemon I’d swear I’d put some in after brewing the tea if I didn’t know better. The savory flavors of mushroom and bread are present in this tea, but less prominent than in Golden Fleece — they’re a nice counterbalance to the sweetness rather than trying to steal the show. The cinnamon and jasmine hints in the flavor are fleeting and accompanied by an even more fleeting hint of mint. Towards the end of the session a note minerality and creaminess arises to compliment and mellow the other flavors. I’ve had sessions where I leafed a bit heavier and got a chocolate note, but I’m actually preferring this lighter session that lets the other flavors sing.
I will note that the flavor of this tea needs to be appreciated when warm. I let the end of one cup go cold and it was very bland and unremarkable compared to the warm sips.
This tea also has a shocking staying power. I only used 3.8 grams in 4 oz of water for a gongfu session starting with a 6 second infusion and adding 3 seconds every time. Right now I’m on round 8 and haven’t needed to start pushing the increment beyond 3 seconds. (I’m curious to see how it holds up further, but I’m trapped under a sleeping cat I can’t bear to wake)
This is not a tea that I feel evolves much over a session. Given more sips I find more notes I hadn’t noticed before, but it feels less like the character of the tea has changed than my own perception has changed, given more time to explore what the tea is offering. I think in some ways this is a positive and why I could see it as a daily drinker — there’s a lot available in this tea, but I know what I’m getting from steep to steep.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Creamy, Honey, Jasmine, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Mint, Moss, Mushrooms, Nutmeg, Peppercorn, Smooth, Vanilla, Wood, Yeast
I’ve been rekindling my tea love and unearthing some of the long owned teas I have in the back of my cabinet. I started with some solid favorite genres of mine like roasted oolong and shu puerhs, but I want to see if maybe I can appreciate sheng in a way I couldn’t before. Finishing off this reserve club sample seems like as good a way to do it as any.
5 sec wash
1st steep, 5 sec: The wet leaf smells like what I tend to not like in sheng flavors — bitter vegetables, but there’s a smoky smell hiding behind it. The liquor smells much more promising. A bit doughy, sweet, and a hint of the hay in the back. The flavor is a surprisingly pleasant combination of baking spices and hay. The mouthfeel is delightfully thick and mouthwatering without being too astringent.
2nd, 7 sec: The smell is smokey and the flavor is quite bitter and vegetal. Very astringent. Maybe I overcooked this round? This is what I think of sheng tasting like and why I’ve never been able to get into it. I dumped this cup.
3rd, 7 sec: Still vegetal but a bit more mellow and with a little bit of sweet dough flavor hiding in there.
4th, 7 sec: Mildly vegetal, but not getting much depth beyond that. Perhaps my tastebuds are just not calibrated to appreciate sheng.
5th, 9sec: I’m getting something a little fruity here like wine grapes, but it gets quickly overwhelmed by the vegetal flavors again.
Well, I think I’m going to admit defeat with this tea. I had hoped that many years after my last sheng experience I’d have gotten to a point where I could appreciate them, but at least with this particular tea there was still not a lot there for me to enjoy.
Flavors: Fruity, Hay, Spicy, Vegetal