200 Tasting Notes

drank Sakura Tea by Obubu Tea
200 tasting notes

Now this is ONE cool tea. I recommend steeping this in a glass vessel so you can see the magic unfold. You just take one single cherry blossom, pour hot water, and wait 5 minutes. In that time you can see a beautiful cherry blossom expand. Now, after this, I’m reading mixed directions. Some say to transfer the cherry blossom to another cup and pour hot water in that, making a new cup of tea – because the original cup will be VERY salty. You are supposed to add the salt to taste. That is recommended if you’re not a salty hot beverage person, or if you just want to taste the cherry blossom in your tea and nothing else. The cherry blossom tea on it’s own is actually very pleasant, fruity, and slight hint of sweet. You could of course use more cherry blossoms for a more powerful flavor, but I like the subtlety.

As for the original salty broth, it’s actually very pleasant on it’s own. Fair warning the salt does overpower the mixture if you drink it straight. You can also add “the salt mixture to taste” to the original cherry blossom brew and the taste is MUCH tamer. It’s really all about what you’re in the mood for.

Highly recommend this tea – if only for just the novelty (or should I say “novel tea”) of it.

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I’ve been trying to kick the coffee habit, and I’ve been looking for teas to replace it. I’ve had my fair share of “coffee flavored blacks”, but I prefer to keep my tea as pure as I can. With that said, someone suggested hojicha as an alternative. Hojicha is a little trickier to find in the US, but in Japan it’s pretty much the defacto tea served at meals. This hojicha is a little better than most. Nice and smooth. Some nutty and roasty notes but nothing too overpowering. This tea is actually really good cold too!

While hojicha is a green tea, it doesn’t taste anything like green tea. It doesn’t really taste like coffee either. I think this is a great gateway tea though, especially for those that think green tea is too vegetal. And it doesn’t really get a bitter which is a nice change of pace from most greens.

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I learned about this tea a few months ago and I have become fascinated with it since I suffer from allergies a LOT, and I absolutely hate taking medicine for it. Normally I see it in powdered form but this was my first time seeing it in full leaf form. The tea is pretty normal tasting for a green tea, but it is quite expensive for what you get. I think I prefer the powder because I can control the amount and it’s easier to carry in my purse. I almost think it’s better to take the powder since you’d be ingesting the whole leaf, and isn’t that what you want to do if you want to fight allergies? Either way, this is a good alternative if you’re not a fan of powder or prefer loose leaf.

I can’t really comment on the allergy relief because it’s not really an instant thing. You have to take it several months ahead of time before hay fever season starts. I plan to do that next year to see if it helps. Apparently it’s a big thing in Japan.

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76
drank "Space Girls" by Crimson Lotus Tea
200 tasting notes

Hmm I guess no one has made a review for this yet. Drinking this tonight since I got a sample with latest Crimson Lotus Tea order. I knew not to use boiling water, so I started with 190 and yikes that was still bitter (even with flash steeps). So I brought it down to 175 and that’s a lot smoother. Tea isn’t bad, but is still a little astrigent even with the lower temperature. Definitely drinkable though. Feeling a little tea high from this tea tonight too – nothing fancy but a little light-headedness. Maybe because I drank so much so quickly?

For the price and the artwork I don’t think this is a bad tea. The sample I had tonight was a lot of dust and broken pieces. I’ll have to try the more “intact” piece next time to see if helps cut down on the bitterness and astringency.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g

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80

Got this as a free sample from Yunomi and this tea is really cool. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever had buckwheat tea, but I don’t believe I have. Since it’s caffeine-free and I really should be in bed by now, I decided to brew some up without fear of keeping myself awake. The result is a lovely liquor that is very hearty and buttery.. almost brothy? This is very savory and a great herbal tea especially for those that do not like the vegetal taste of green tea. Also, the instructions suggested eating the buckwheat kernels and I can confirm you CAN. Tastes just like cereal and a little like popcorn. This might even be the MORE fun part. I used a strainer for this tea but next time I may not and just eat the kernels as they come next time.

Flavors: Butter, Popcorn, Salty, Wheat

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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83

I had heard good things about aged white tea and had been wanting to try them for a while. So I ordered this and a Tribute White Tea from 2012 from Bana (the latter I’ll post a review of later). While the Tribute White Tea was affordable, this White Peony cake was a liiiiitle on the higher side for me. So, I had the wonderful folks at Bana throw in a sample of it for me to try it out and see if a full cake was for me. I was also interested in seeing what kind of cha qi I could get.

For some context – I’m hit or miss when it comes to white teas. For the most part, they’re too light for me and so I’m usually just pretty “meh” about them. This aged white is VERY tasty, however. I wouldn’t call the taste light at all – it’s definitely sweeter – almost a fruity taste. There’s still that familiar white tea taste in the background, but it’s actually quite pleasant. And this tea holds up to numerous steepings, which is always a plus.

The brewing directions on this tea are a little vague at the end .. “Use 5g of leaves per 6 oz of water. Using 195 degrees F water temperature, steep for 30 seconds for three infusions. Then increase the temperature of the water and lengthen the steep time for subsequent infusions.”

So I guess I just kinda figure it out as I go after the first 3? And that’s what I did. I actually kept it 30 sec @ 195 for at least another couple infusions because I like the taste and the leaves were still willing to give. Eventually, I kept it at 195 but upped the time. And then when that was falling flat, I upped the temp to 205 with longer steep times. I got at least 10 good infusions with this gongfu style, and I bet there’s even more to be had. This tea has a lot of longevity.

As for the cha qi? Ahhh.. that was a little disappointment. I was hoping for something amazing, but I fell for the hype. Maybe I didn’t drink it enough or drink it the right way, but there wasn’t much to speak of. I was told that aged white can be even MORE potent than aged sheng .. and perhaps it is. But this is not the tea for me to prove that. Still, I enjoyed the taste.

Will I buying a cake of this? Ahh, no. It is DEFINITELY worth a sample and it is very tasty with lots of give, but the cheaper Bana aged white is good enough for now. Or perhaps my palette just isn’t as refined.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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I’m still not sure how I feel about shu/ripe puerh. Over the past few months I’ve definitely gained an appreciation for sheng – especially young sheng – but shu just still feels too.. musty to me? I don’t know. So I thought I would try a sample of an older shu to see how it goes. I got this as a sample from Verdant’s black friday sale during their “Pu-erh Monday”. When I opened the bag the sample was really crumbly, so already we’re on a bad foot…

And… I don’t know. This tea isn’t bad. It’s smooth and rich. I just think maybe it’s a little too rich? I’m getting lots of coffee and tobacco notes and it makes me think that this would be a GREAT tea to use to introduce a coffee drinker to to get them to “come to the dark side”. The tea holds up for a LOT of infusions too. I don’t know, it’s just not doing anything for me. But I also have complicated feelings about shu so don’t take my word for it.

Speaking of coffee, with my last couple infusions I decided to try my hand at making “bulletproof tea” with this since I thought it would make a good base. For those that don’t know, this is a play on Bulletproof Coffee which is coffee + MCT oil + butter and is supposed to be really good for fasting. Yeah it’s probably some BS but I thought I would give it a try. And…. still kinda meh about this tea. And now it just tastes like warm butter. Eh, I tried.

pkts

I’m also not so enthused with Shou because I find the taste one dimensional. I have yet to find the creamy and other notes that people comment on and I’ve tried a substantial amount of diff shou. But I do like the taste…it’s so nice and comforting on winter days. And surprisingly some of the best tea highs came from shou (including the best ever). You’re braver than me…I intermittent fast but never tried bulletproof tea :/

Babble

Yeah I much prefer sheng these days.

You IF, eh? I’ve heard good things about that. Do you do Keto too?

pkts

Yeah, I started 5 years ago and really like it (though for different reasons than most). I go with my intuition with it…sometimes for weeks and months on end with just a few cheat days, sometimes just after having a day of too much heavy food. Def recommend trying it. I tried keto for a few days but it put me in a foul mood so that was that.

Babble

Ahhh interesting. I’m reading about IF now and they make it sound like you practically need Keto to make it work.

When you IF do you do water only or do some things to hold you over?

pkts

Just water (and tea of course). I think you can have 15-20 cals without breaking the fast but I find it easier to eat no cals. It’s about finding the right way to schedule it to fit your lifestyle. I fast 16 hours and then eat for 8. I eat a big protein and fat meal before bed at 9pm ish and it isn’t hard for me just not eat until 1pm. If you get full easily, you could eat at 6pm and then you only have to not eat until 10am

I find that it helps my gut to repair itself after lots of bad food or drinking alcohol. Also it seems to boost my immune system so I will do it more if people around me are sick. And I’ll do it more in the summer time because it’ll keep me cooler (eating really warms me up)

The keto thing would make IF more difficult for me. I do find that eating lots of carbs at night makes hunger pains more intense in the morning which is why I do more fats and protein at night.

Babble

Ahh so you’d eat a carb heavier meal at 1 and then a fat/protein meal later? What would a typical meal be for you at night vs at lunch?

pkts

Exactly. Lunch could be scrambled eggs on toast or roast chicken with potatoes (white or sweet) or stew with bread. Dinner might be high quality sausages with rainbow chard/cauliflower or stew with squash/carrots/kale/cabbage. I don’t shy away from fat/butter/cholesterol/meaty stocks as ways of adding flavor. Personally I tolerate some heavier carbs with big meals so I’ll sometimes add something like baked potato with butter to a dinner meal but I wouldn’t just have oats by itself for dinner.

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95

Received as a sample from Yunomi

This product is so new it’s not even on the website before. I admit, I hadn’t heard of this benifuuki tea before. When I added it to the database I classified it as “matcha”, but I’m not sure if it is. Either way, it sure is tasty.

I’ve tried it both hot and cold. I LOVE cold-mixed matcha, but it can get a little intense if I use too much. I do not really like hot brewed matcha because it’s just too intense. This Benifuuki is both tasty hot AND cold because it’s a much more milder tea. It’s a very muted taste. I would say if you like the STRONG notes of matcha, you are gonna be disappointed. But, if you want something to put in your water bottle and drink for the day, this is not a bad tea at all. I’d say it almost tastes more like a white tea than a green tea. Maybe as it cools it tastes slightly more green with vegetal notes, but honestly it’s really tough to tell.

Another benefit is that it’s supposed to have some hay fever properties to help with allergy season? Hey man, with my allergies as bad as they are I’ll take what I can get. I’ve also been taking pollen too in hopes it will help. This year is gonna be rough.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C

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80

Received this as a sample from Yunomi

This is one of my first times with a TRUE gyokuro, and I guess I didn’t realize how much of a pain it is to brew. The first infusion requires 122 degree water which is very tough to get down to (even steepster’s slider doesn’t go that low). I bought a temperature precise kettle and it only goes down to 140! So the usual advice is to pour it from the brewing vessel into cup to warm both and bring the temperature down. So that’s what I did. And then steep for 2.5 min. They say this is to “prime” the leaves. Whether or not it’s necessary I don’t know, but I used to write instructions for a living so I feel like I have to follow them. Also, the other reviewer of this tea started brewing this at 160 right off the bat – so take that for what it’s worth.

Second, these gyokuro leaves are SO fine. I thought I’d be slick and use my nice glass strainer to watch the beautiful leaf color but NO, because they are so little they all got caught in there. So, I used an old tea glass mug with a built in infuser at the top. But even THAT infuser was not fine enough, so I had to use a fine mesh strainer when I poured it in to catch all the remaining leaves. This tea sure requires a lot of hardware.

So, was it worth it? Perhaps. The first infusion of this tea is very nice, but it’s not your typical green tea. It’s very savory, almost like a miso flavor? It’s very smooth and not hint of bitterness.

The next two infusions required 158 degree water with 20-30sec infusions which is at least a little easier to get on my kettle. Actually, I’m comparing the label to the website and they say for the third infusion to make it even hotter. Why can’t they have consistent labeling?

Anyway – the 2nd infusion brings more of a vegetal note . I may have steeped it a tad too long; the website says 15 sec and I probably did closer to 25. I am getting a touch of bitterness that I wasn’t getting with the tea before.Dang you gyokuro why must you be so finnicky??

The third infusion they say to steep even LONGER and at higher temperature (45 sec @ 175 degrees) but I don’t know, man.. I try it anyway, and sure enough it is even MORE astringent. I’m going back to my original steeping parameters.

Fourth infusion – 25 sec @ 155F. This is not a bad infusion at all. The astrigency isn’t there. There’s still a bit of taste left with some savory flavor. I’m still not in LOVE with the tea, but I think it works a lot better at this lower temperature.

Also, my mesh tea strainer is getting all clogged up now so I think this is my queue to stop with my infusions.

After these infusions, I decide to cold brew the leftover leaves and MAN is the coldbrew tasty. Honestly, I think this tea works MUCH better cold than hot. But with such a high price tag I’d have a hard time recommending it for JUST cold brew.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 0 min, 30 sec
pkts

Holy shit, this tea sounds like a lot of work :) Maybe if I wanted a full on tea ceremony level of involvement

Babble

Yeah I probably didn’t need to do the whole 9 yards. But I figure I try it once and know it’s not for me

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76
drank 2005 Aged Mao Xie by Verdant Tea
200 tasting notes

Am I really the first to review this tea? I guess so! I’m going through some of my Verdant samples while reading up on all the Verdant controversy over the last few years.

This tea isn’t bad. It tasted roasted but I guess it’s just aged. I would say their tasting notes are mostly on point. Not getting a whole lot of floral, but definitely savory qualities. Maybe a little fruit too. Definitely some mouth puckering.

I also had their 1995 TGY which I LOVED and I plan to order more. Of course that one is MORE expensive than this one ;) This isn’t quite as nice, but it gives a lot of bang for the steeps.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Profile

Bio

So the short story is, a few years ago I was VERY MUCH into tea. And then a lot of things happened, and I got out of tea for a while. And now, I’m back.ⁿ

To me, tea is the missing puzzle piece for my healthy lifestyle. When I drink tea I am encouraged to eat healthy and be active. I drink tea because I simply enjoy the taste, but the health aspects are just an added bonus.

I love all types of teas, although greens and oolongs tend to be my favorite. I’ll drink herbals if I’m feeling a little under the weather. And recently I’ve been getting more into young shengs (also chasing that elusive “cha qi”).

Unless otherwise stated, I drink my teas straight. I’ve been doing gongfu mostly these days, so I use a ceramic gaiwan with an electric kettle. For greens and some oolongs, I’ll do a western style with a glass mug or regular infuser. I try to specify if my brewing parameters are outside the norm.

I’m kinda strict when rating my teas. I rarely give a tea above a 95. Teas that I really like I keep in the 95-85 category. I’ve yet to give a tea 100 yet. So, if you see a tea about 95, that means I thought it was an amazing tea!

ⁿ – Note: I did step away from tea for a while.. again. But now I’m back for REALZ. Usually I have to put this interest on hold when real life takes over, so I’m hoping for no major life events these days.

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Florida, United States

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