240 Tasting Notes
More new tea!
Chai tea is my go-to coffee shop drink, since I’m not a huge fan of coffee, and only drink it once or twice a year. You know, like New Year’s Day, when I am battling the effects of the previous night but know there is plenty more to partake in.
But I digress…
Chai. My go-to. Starbuck’s Chai is… OK. I think it was better before they switched to Teavana, but whatever. Peet’s Chai, same thing. Pretty good. I’ve found many places that serve up Oregon Chai. OH MYYYY. That’s the shizzle.
Today I will make my own. This will be the first time I make it properly, not just like all the other tea I make.
So, the directions pulled from Red Blossom’s website: “A proper Chai needs time to infuse. We recommend brewing large multi-serving pots of this tea. For four servings, use 15 grams of tea leaves to 2 cups of water. Simmer on low heat for 8 minutes. Then add 2 cups of milk and simmer for an additional 2 minutes. Serve sweetened.”
Here we go:
First off, the large serving size is fine, I make all my hot tea with a 32 ounce Bodum Assam teapot. Done. I also used fat free milk, next time I won’t do that. I will use either 2% or Soy milk. I also did not add any sugar, I will next time, just to add a bit of sweetness. The first brew I always want to get to know the tea itself, no outside help.
Everything was fine until I added the milk. I’m never sure with things like this if I should start the timer when I add the milk, or when it returns to a boil. I did the latter.
The result is very good, no doubt. Not quite Oregon Chai, but I don’t have the equipment to serve up that beauty. But very good none-the-less.
Red Blossom uses a masala-style black tea, this particular one “a sweet Lychee Black Tea as the base”. They then add orange peel, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. Unsweetened, it has a bit of a bitter, over spiced taste. That must be why they recommend sweetening it. Makes sense. Next time.
This chai tea is going to take some time for me to really get good at brewing it, but I have a feeling when I do figure it out, it is going to be amazing.
(And that score of 75 I just gave is will go up, no doubt.)
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Milk, Orange, Orange Zest, Sweet
More new tea!
I’ve had a few different Tung Tings from Red Blossom, so I was excited to get a new one in the mail. New to me, of course.
Tung Ting means “frozen summit”, which refers to it being a high mountain grown plant from Taiwan. This one picked in the Winter of 2014 and lightly oxidized.
I used 14 grams of leaves, rinsed, in my 32 ounce Bodum Assam teapot. 200 degree water steeped for 2:00.
From this I get a light but thick straw colored liquor, yellowish and clear. The aroma is buttery smooth and creamy, with hints of straw and earth. This Oolong is more towards the green tea scale of green vs back.
Now for the taste.
I’ve had several Tung Tings from Red Blossom in the past, so I know that I will be a fan of it before I even opened the package. The first sip is no disappointment.
Super buttery smooth, super rich and creamy. The green tea-ish hints of straw and butter are there, but have a thicker, richer presence than a green tea would give. There is definitely also a hint of flowers, Red Blossom says Orchids and Garnenias. Yeah, I agree. Although I’m not the greatest at the name-that-flower-from-its-scent game, I do notice the orchid, absolutely.
This is an incredible tea. The richness, the buttery smoothness, the somehow thick and creamy straw and earth taste…
Flavors: Creamy, Earth, Gardenias, Orchid, Smooth, Straw, Thick
Another great white tea used for sun tea:
It’s outside right now starting on the brewing, but it’s not the first time I’ve done it, and I’m thinking about it already.
I have a few white teas on my shelf right now from Red Blossom, and I’m finding that I almost like them more as sun tea than as hot tea.
I have it outside on the side of the driveway, two tea balls floating in a gallon jug of water. I tried more and less in the past, 2 balls seems like a good amount for a well balanced taste, full of everything these tasty white teas are known for, but still subtle and smooth.
This one I particularly enjoy. It’s a little woodsier flavored than the other whites I have tried, and the nutty, earthy flavor still shines through the slower, cooler steeping process.
I just wish it was ready now…
Flavors: Earth, Nuts, Smooth, Wood
More new tea! I got this as a sample from Red Blossom years ago, so I decided it was time to get it for real. Good call, Erik. Good call.
Brewing is simple, I used 10 grams of leaves, rinsed, in my 32 ounce Bodum Assam teapot. 200 degree water, just under boiling, and 2:00 of steeping time.
The leaves are actually pretty light colored, so I was surprised at how quickly and fully the water turned dark brown when I poured it in.
This black tea is so smooth, so rich, so velvety, I was almost surprised when I took the first sip. From the dark reddish brown color, to the rich, smooth, malty aroma and taste with hints of dried fruit and syrup.
This is one of the smoother, richer, maltier black teas I have tried that still keeps a GREAT balance between all of its characteristics.
There are few basic black teas that I can call daily go tos, this one just made that list.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt, Maple Syrup, Orange, Raisins, Smooth
Sun tea brew:
I love using good white teas for sun tea, and this is no exception. That wonderful light, crisp, clean finishing taste is present. The hint of wood, dried fruit, and nuts work very well in the cold version.
I almost like it better as sun tea than as hot tea!
I’m normally not a huge fan of blends, but there are a few I do like. A good mint, Chai, Jasmine, or anything super interesting, well balanced, and not over the top.
This Jasmine is certainly on that list. It uses Da Bai tea leaves as the base and Jasmine flowers from Fuijan, which Red Blossom says are more intense than what they have used in the past.
What we get is a very well balanced Jasmine, the flowers have an incredible, aromatic presence, but don’t take from the Da Bai base.
Even with a relatively low amount of leaves, only 11 grams in my 32 ounce Bodum Assam teapot, the flavor is immense.
If you’re looking for a full flavored, intense, but still incredibly well balanced Jasmine tea, check out this brew. You won’t be disappointed.
Finally got through the loads of tea sitting on my shelf, at least to the point I could finally warrant a new order. (down to 5 greens, 2 whites, the last bits of a Pu-erh, and some samples is just not enough to live on…)
So, here we go, the first in a new order from the good folks at Red Blossom Tea Company!
I love a good Tieguanyin. A student of mine went to China and brought me back one of the best teas I have ever tasted, so this tea does have a bit to live up to.
Following the directions on Red Blossom’s website, I used 14 grams of leaves in my 32 ounce Bodum Assam teapot, rinsed, and then tumbled 200 degree water and steeped the brew for 2:30.
The scent is the first thing that hits you, and it is a good one. Just a bit of a roast sensation topping off a great, dark, malty base. The color is a bit deceiving, it looks lighter than it tastes and feels.
The taste… Damn. Nice and malty, with hints of almonds and toffee. The website says honey as well, thinking about it, yeah, it’s there, not sure I would have noticed that if it wasn’t on my mind.
This will make an EXCELLENT late autumn tea, sipping as the air turns brisk and the temps start to drop. If I have any left by then, of course!
Overall, this is a damn good Anxi Oolong.
Flavors: Almond, Honey, Roasted, Toffee
This is such a great tea. And I’m really not a fan of blends, so for me to say that is a big deal. But this is one of my favorite morning teas these days.
The dominant taste, the chocolate, is right up front and in your face, as if to say, “I know what you need with breakfast. Me.” It knows.
But right up there with it is the rose and raspberry flavors that REALLY work well all together. From the first smell when I open the container to the first smell while it brews to the moment I finally get a taste, every step of the way is relaxing but yet still exciting.
Flavors: Chocolate, Citrus, Cocoa, Raspberry, Rose
Here it is. I finally ordered more. The tea that started it all. A random trip to San Francisco’s Chinatown years ago, a random visiting of a cool looking tea shop called Red Blossom Tea Company, and a random finding of a tea called “Gunpowder” that was a green tea with big, bold flavor.
I walked out that day years ago with a couple ounces of leaves that would change my life. I already loved tea, but I was going through boxes of tea sachets from the grocery store. Some were very good, but I was still ignorant to what real tea was.
Until now. This one started it all, and I have been learning more about tea ever since.
Gunpowder tea gets it’s name not from the strong, dark taste, but the shape of the leaves, “rolled to form gunpowder pellets.” Preparation is simple, pretty much a standard green tea brewing, with just a bit higher temp water. (180 instead of 170-175)
32 ounces of 185 degree water onto 3 tablespoons of pre-rinsed leaves in my Bodum Assam teapot and steeped for 1:30 gives me a beautiful, almost velvety reddish brown color, semi see through.
The smell is, obviously, the first thing that hits me, and I remember right away how I fell in love with it the first time I had it. It is clearly a green tea, with all the nuances afforded a good, balanced, green, but in this case much stronger, more pungent, with a bit of bitterness layered into the green tea base.
If you like green tea but also like a stronger, bigger, fuller tea taste, go for a gunpowder. You won’t be disappointed.