612 Tasting Notes

What a visually beautiful tea—lots of long green buds of course, but also dark, almost purple leaves. I neglect my whites something awful because something about them makes me want to pause and focus completely on them every step of the steeping and drinking process in a way I never seem to have time for when the urge for that taste strikes, alas. So I wasn’t sure how this would turn out (and it’d be entirely my fault if it was wan, to be clear). But something about the cold weather and a sense of wanting “calm before the storm” of holiday madness made me want this tea tonight, and for once I have the time to devote to it.

I was surprised to find the dry scent surprisingly strong, mostly hay or straw, something like that. First taste is incredibly creamy, and there’s a surprising peppery spicy note at the back of the sip. This is not a particularly delicate or feminine tea, though the scent in the cup is a little bit floral (not rose or lavender-floral, something more jasmine-y, soft instead of soapy). The more I sip, the more the flavor of sweet almond builds, but it always remains subtle. The tea becomes more drying too with each sip.

Quite enjoyable. Going to do the other half of this in my gaiwan another evening this week, I hope.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Chizakura

I find white tea puts me in that calm, almost meditative state too. I find it’s wonderful in the morning. It’s soothing and comforting, but not in the put-you-to-sleep way.

Sadly I drank through the last of my silver needles the other day, so now I’m looking into hitting up Verdant for some of this as well as their jasmine needles. :)

ifjuly

Cool to know it’s not just me! I always worry my half-braindead-still self (I’m not a morning person, heh) won’t appreciate whites then, but maybe I ought to try that. I know they have the potential to be quite caffeinated…

I still need to try my silver needle samples too. :O So neglectful…I hope your new teas end up being awesome!

Dexter

I’m just going to start another box with your name on it……….

ifjuly

! Awww.

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drank Melange Fauchon by Fauchon
612 tasting notes

Had this yesterday, let’s see if I can remember…

I wasn’t as into this one as Raspberry Macaron and Evening in France. It still had a beautifully layered aroma—parceling out swap samples I got to smell all of them and that appears to be par for the course with all Fauchon blends, at least the ones I’ve got—and like the others it feels more apt to describe it as scented tea than flavored as the tea itself is relatively delicate tasting given the headiness of the aroma. You get more the haunting or impression, the tail end wisp of the scent lingering in the tea upon tasting. There was an element in here that read as vaguely plasticky to me if I recall. It definitely wasn’t bad/undrinkable, I just loved the other two way more.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec
JustJames

you have a way with words….. =0)

ifjuly

aw shucks, that’s very nice of you to say. (: and coming from a smartypants too, hee. ;)

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Backlog

More of the same deal, learned pretty quickly I didn’t care for David’s actual tea leaves in general. On the plus side, I used the rest of the pouch to make a vegetarian-friendly smoke rub per Sally Schneider—you just grind it to a fine powder in a spice or coffee grinder and store it until needed, and it gives things like beans a smoky bacon-y flavor.

Dexter

This is a great idea. There are times I would like to add a little “smoke” to recipes. I am going to try this.

ifjuly

Hope you enjoy it! I keeps a long time sealed tightly in a cool dark place, which is a bonus. I’m a big fan of finding creative ways to use teas in the kitchen that aren’t terrible but you don’t really get excited to drink.

As Sally mentions, make sure to let the particles settle before you open up the grinder lest you inhale a bunch of smoke tea, ee. Ha.

Sil

you can also make the tea and then marinate things in it heh i do that with smokey teas as well….add a few spices and other such things and it makes a nice base for a marinade

moraiwe

I’ve used lapsang as a smokey element in barbeque sauces before, as well. Also very good.

ifjuly

Yum! I must try those two techniques. :D

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drank Assam Banaspaty by DAVIDsTEA
612 tasting notes

Backlog

Between this and the Wild Black Yunnan, this sealed it for me that I wasn’t a fan of David’s actual teas (as in, pure teas, whether bought to be enjoyed as such or as the base for flavored blends). I already knew I liked a good assam; that was a type I’d been drinking since adolescence. So this was the clue maybe David’s wasn’t the best spot for me to do my “try to get more into good specimens of pure tea flavor”.

Dexter

I made this mistake too. Was trying to learn the differences between the different type of blacks, bought a few from Davids. Then I found real black tea. You might get some Yunnan in the next swap package.

ifjuly

I totally remember that (I think that might’ve even been when I started following you, ‘cause it was so neat to read about)! I remember thinking, that is a really great idea, what you were doing, trying to find an affordable middle point type vendor and sampling all the basic black teas from them to get a frame of reference, but was a little worried it’d be misleading because by then I’d tried these and didn’t like them at all even though some of the tea types I knew I liked in general (the assam, lapsang). It was a cool project.

ifjuly

(and that sounds exciting! you are the most thoughtful swapmate imaginable :)

Sil

sooooo many other companies that do tea better than David’s ESP in the straight tea category!

ifjuly

yeah, agreed.

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drank Wild Black Yunnan by DAVIDsTEA
612 tasting notes

Backlog

Between this and the Assam Banaspaty, this sealed it for me that I wasn’t a fan of David’s actual teas (as in, pure teas, whether bought to be enjoyed as such or as the base for flavored blends). It was nice to learn later I do in fact like some Yunnans (and I always knew I liked a good assam; that was a type I’d been drinking since adolescence), I just hadn’t had any online yet from a spot more into the actual tea leaf.

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70
drank Chocolate Chili Chai by DAVIDsTEA
612 tasting notes

Backlog (it appears I rated these teas back then, but never described them)

I remember being so disappointed in this one at the beginning of this year. It sounded incredible—I had no idea people were doing things like this with tea!—and then just didn’t smell or taste enough like what it’s labeled as. This was my first inkling that I wasn’t a big fan of David’s, didn’t care for the base and found the flavors/scents underwhelming and sometimes artificial seeming.

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75

Backlog!

One of the first loose leaf teas I bought (in January of this year!), and along with Foxtrot it quickly became my favorite in those days of only knowing Adagio and David’s for whimsical/modern flavored blends (I’d known of Upton for years but that’s not really their thing). It was funny a week or two ago, serving this to my husband…brought back a lot of memories and made me realize how far I’ve come this year with tea, 99% thanks to Steepster.

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Backlog

This always sounds SO GOOD and then is a little disappointing, I think because I just generally don’t care much for the base teas Adagio tends to use. It wasn’t bad, it just lacked strong flavor. I try to shy away from comparisons to other companies unless I really think it’s salient and I do here: months and months later when I tried Butiki With Open Eyes (green tea with notes of strawberry jam, ginger, and toffee) it delivered everything I’d hoped for in this one and more.

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drank Peaches n' Cream by Culinary Teas
612 tasting notes

I’m trying to go through and backlog all the teas I had this spring and summer but was too busy to review. Pretty daunting, but some headway’s better than none, right?

Once I quickly figured out I’m not nuts for Culinary Teas’ black base for its flavored offerings (Ceylon usually, I think?) but do appreciate the aromas and flavors, I put most of ‘em in the “cold steep” pile…and learned to my delight they are fabulous that way. This was the stand out for sure. I emptied the pouch in no time at the beginning of the summer, loving every refreshing glass. It was so good that way I’d reorder it just for that purpose. Yum.

Preparation
Iced

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Steeping the base hot, this smelled at first very chemical-y, kinda like chlorine, but then after I topped off the jug with cold water and it settled down a bit there was a kind of tangy key lime and cream cheese (! yes) scent going on. I know not to judge much based on the scent of the initial steep as it’s hyper-concentrated.

Today completely cold, this tastes mostly like plain black iced tea to me—refreshing and iced tea-y, but not too much other flavor. There is a sweet note, very very subtly lime-y, but I’m not sure I’d even detect it as such without the power of suggestion…

Wait a sec. Well, actually there’s more key lime in the lingering aftertaste…it sits on your lips and tongue and is in fact quite accurate, just light. This makes the lips tingle and get numb slightly too, not sure what that’s about. This is one that grows on you; unlike many Zoomdweebies/52teas offerings it’s not an upfront whammy of smell and flavor that recedes to let the tea taste come in at the end of the sip; it’s the opposite, where at first you just taste tea and then the cooling lime and cream cheese (yay, it’s in there!) and crust elements wander in gradually and grow fuller and louder with time. I do like this after all.

Preparation
Iced

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Profile

Bio

“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

black:
verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

oolong:
verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

green:
verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

white:
butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.

Location

Memphis, TN

Website

http://facebook.com/ifjuly

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