157 Tasting Notes
Dove into this little gem tonight. I’ve been neglecting my green teas. This tea is very similar to a Dragonwell for me. It’s very buttery, soft, and sweet with a light nuttiness like macadamia nuts. I only had three steeps but I imagine it could have kept going for at least two more. After cooking a heavy dinner of chicken fried rice (with rosemary!) it was the perfect end to the meal. Very subtle and delicate as rice paper. It has a lingering sweetness. It reminds me of honeysuckle flowers in the shade…Dewdrops on morning flowers. A little vegetal and a little floral. I could write poems to this tea.
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Nuts, Sweet, Vegetal
Getting to the bottom of a 1oz bag so there are lots of cinnamon chips! I used water that was a little less than boiling. The tea smells—and tastes—like fresh red apples to me. It’s sweet with a little bit of a tart nippiness and a little bitterness that makes me think of biting into apple skins. (That bitterness is NOT a negative quality to me at all.) It’s spot-on! SO hard for me to believe there aren’t actual pieces of apple in this tea. The cinnamon makes it taste like apple pie filling. There’s a slight roastiness to this tea; a light mineral taste lingers after every sip. I’m wishing that the tea base was a little lighter, maybe more buttery or floral…but I know that’s where the apple taste is coming from. Guess I’m just being picky. It’s still a decent cuppa. (:
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Mineral, Wood
One of the samples I received from Nina’s Paris. Yay! This smells so deliciously of caramel and popcorn. Kind of like kettle corn but with distinctive caramel notes. It tastes very similar to its smell too. It’s bright with a light roasty flavor. I think the black tea does well in balancing the “greenness” of the sencha. I do wish that there was more puffed rice—the nutty, toasty qualities of the rice are getting lost in the caramel-vanilla flavors (which are very strong). Not bad but just not hitting the spot for me. I think it reminds me too much of this cupcake-scented perfume I wore in junior high, which makes it seem a little artificial.
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Marshmallow, Nuts, Pastries, Vanilla
Backlog. This one is fairly similar to Banana Pudding Genmaicha. The black tea base is light-medium bodied. Compared to BPG it has a more full, custard-like and creamy mouthfeel. It definitely says “pudding” a little more clearly. The banana flavor is more pronounced in the first cup than subsequent cups. It’s sweet like a ripe banana and very smooth. The second cup was more coconut and cream for me, with a touch of caramel sweetness at the end. Third cup was thin with a hint of coconut/nutty flavor.
Honestly I prefer the genmaicha version better. This one fell a little flat to me.
1st steep: 3 min
2nd steep: 5 min
3rd steep: 8 min
Got a sample of this one from Veronica. Thank you muchly. (:
In hindsight I should have done a quick rinse before brewing. Oops. This was the last scoop in the bottom of (what looks like) a 1oz bag, so I went in knowing that the ratio of spice blend to tea was going to be a little skewed. That’s okay though. Smelling the dry leaves, I recognized a light smokiness that is very similar to the smokiness of Manistee Moonrise (am I right?). Brewed, the tea liquor was a deep reddish gold. The smell is campfire smoke, spice, and a hint of sweetness.
It calls to mind specific images, like red autumn leaves littering the forest floor. A fire crackling as dusk turns to night. Tree bark. It’s earthy and grounding. The blend of spices is pleasant and it reminds me of VT’s chai spice blend, which is the first chai I ever really loved. There’s a nice balance between all of the flavors; smoke is ever-present in the foreground. (Almost overwhelming, but not UNpleasant. Like I said: should have rinsed first!) There’s a slight bitterness along with the earthy, woodsy tones. It seems to fit and I can’t explain how. As the tea cools a silky sweetness steps up and just hangs around in the back of my mouth. It’s kind of caramelly. It’s gooood.
In the second cup, the smokiness is turned way way down. The liquor is a mellow gold and I can pick out the scent of cinnamon and clove more than I could in the first cup. I’ve learned by now that this is a tea better served medium-warm, so that’s how I drink it! And oh is it good. The smokey notes are more suggested than stated. Kind of wispy, like after a candle is snuffed out—not like the smoke coming off of a roaring fire. This cup is more woodsy. (For the record I LOVE the smell of wood.) The sweetness is more intense, curled around the spices like a cat’s tail. The spice leaves a nice tingle in the back of my throat and the sweetness lingers long after I’ve taken a sip. If I push my tongue around my teeth, the sweet flavor is paired with the sensation of biting into a puffed marshmallow. That’s the only way I can think to explain it. Really unusual and unexpected! I like it. There’s a slight drying quality to it as well.
I wish I had more of this tea to play around with. (: As far as chai goes, I’d say it’s definitely one of my top 5.
Flavors: Campfire, Caramel, Cinnamon, Earth, Marshmallow, Smoke, Spices, Wood
I’m smelling this tea and I’m picking out really soft, creamy, icing-like notes that are weirdly offset by the earthy tea base. The tea smells very dark, damp, and leathery—reminding me of Mandala’s Lincang but much less graceful. There are two RADICALLY different scents here that don’t seem to jive well together. It’s confusing. It also makes my stomach hurt a little bit.
First sip: Okay, it’s not so bad. The tea base isn’t as pungent as I anticipated. It’s actually quite smooth. However…the flavor pairing is just horrid. And I don’t even know if I like the flavor of the additives. It certainly doesn’t say caramel or toffee to me. It’s more like those crazy sweet, thickly iced sugar cookies that are coated with sprinkles you find in Wal-Mart or in the “cheap baked goods” section of any grocery store. And I don’t know about you, but I hate those. It’s not a “bad” flavor per se but it calls to mind bad flavors.
It also leaves this soapy chemical taste in my mouth after each sip. (Gets worse as the tea cools down. Or maybe just because the taste is building up in my mouth. I can’t tell.)
I couldn’t even finish the cup.
It’s sad because I desperately wanted to like this tea. ):
Oh my god. This is too good.
At first I get the impression of red fruits, then a deep, chocolatey note that is soon joined by sweet caramel. It’s roasty and savory and wonderfully complex. There is a touch of astringency. It might be remedied by a lower brewing temperature—I prefer not to use boiling water on black tea anyway. (Or any tea…except for puerh.) The taste that lingers behind is SO WONDERFUL. Dark chocolate, some grapey-ness, some sweetness. No doubt, this tea is special. I’m enamored.
It’s soo hard to find words to describe this tea. Why is it so hard?! The fruit flavor is difficult for me to pin down. I’ve just brewed a second cup and it smells strongly of cocoa and baked bread. Too hot to sip but you’re damn right I have my nose stuck in the cup. (:
Now that it’s cool enough to drink (just kidding, I burned myself)…I’m getting more roasty, nutty notes, more chocolate, a little more caramel, and this gooey baked pastry flavor. It’s so smooth. No astringency at all in this cup (lower temp), and it coats your tongue HEAVILY with malt and sweetness. The dark fruity undertones pervade throughout, and the overall flavor sticks around forever. It sounds gross, but it has me licking my teeth. It’s too good. I can’t handle it. It…it might be perfect!
(The gooey, caramel, marshmallow-like sweetness intensifies as temperature cools. The last lukewarm mouthfuls at the bottom of the cup DEFINITELY tasted like marshmallow to me.)
Note to self: try a gong fu session with the rest of this sample. Thank you Veronica!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Berries, Caramel, Chocolate, Cocoa, Grapes, Malt, Nuts, Raisins
This one is really intriguing. The smell of the dry leaves was a little off-putting to me, because I could smell a LOT of smoke with a little lemon thrown in. I once had a horrific experience with a Russian caravan blend with Lapsang Souchong, and I’ve been leery of smokey teas ever since. Reminds me of roasted pork or barbecue meat smell…ANYWAY, getting sidetracked. This tea doesn’t smell like barbecue. Just smoke, like woodsmoke. Campfire smoke. The brewed tea aroma is more gentle. I can pick out notes of lemongrass, red berries, a hint of spearmint, and it’s all tied together with this light woodsmoke aroma. It all reminds me of wet leaves crushed underfoot. Like a forest after the rain. Very outdoorsy. It’s an absolutely fascinating blend, and it’s making my mouth water.
Lemon and mint are the dominant flavors for me. It’s a much brighter, more “cheerful” tea than I imagined. And it’s very calming. Like I said, forest after the rain. I barely notice any smokiness from the tea—it’s soft at the end of each sip, like an afterthought. (Note that I did rinse the leaves for 10sec before brewing.) Woodsy, earthy, no astringency whatsoever. It’s really nice. It doesn’t blow my mind, but I can see myself keeping it around for a cold, rainy day. It really seems to lie in the fall-winter category. I would LOVE to take this tea on a camping trip. I think it would be perfect.
Now that the tea has cooled off a bit, the berry notes are more prominent. The spearmint and lemongrass are more balanced, whereas before it was like they were having a loud argument and lemon was winning. It’s a LOT softer now. Silky and smooth, rather than bright and chipper like it was when it was piping hot. Wow. Wow wow wow. It’s so much better now. I’m going to give it a higher rating than I originally planned. (:
Thanks so much for the sample Veronica!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berries, Earth, Lemon Zest, Tobacco, Wood
Ew. Just ew.
I got some of this in a swap with QueenOfTarts. The smell was absolutely overpowering. Sickeningly sweet. HEAVILY scented of grenadine, in a way that makes me think of the sugary syrup that bottled cherries float around with, and I mean in a BAD way. Warning bells ringing before I even started boiling water.
SO I start steeping it. I pour boiling water over the leaves and the syrup smell intensifies. No tea smell that I can tell…at first. About two minutes in, I catch a whiff of black tea. And it smells bitter, pungent and cutting to my nostrils. I worry even more. I just knew I should have used a lower water temp. I pull the leaves out a bit early (about 3min 30) and stir in a touch of sugar. Take a sip. Wait, then take another. Add more sugar. Sip. MORE SUGAR. Sip. SUGAR AND MILK, OH GOD, IS THERE ANY SAVING IT?!
The answer is no. I couldn’t doctor it in any way that made it palatable. I had to dump out the whole cup after unsuccessfully trying to shove it onto my friend. The grenadine flavor was cloyingly sweet, like fruit punch concentrate. The tea base was strong and bitter and unforgivingly in-your-face. I couldn’t take it.
I wasn’t sure if I should even write a review or not. Buuuut I felt guilty.
I might experiment with cold-brewing or try it again at a lower temperature. Then again, that experience was horrific enough to frighten anyone away forever. I don’t know if I have it in me.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to try it QueenOfTarts. I wish I had nicer things to say. ):
Got this in a swap with Veronica! (You’re the best, THANK YOU!)
First sip, I fell in love. Nutty, roasty rice flavor, a very present green sencha flavor, then right when I was starting to wonder where the marshmallow was…BAM. Completely took me by surprise and completely floored me. It started with this faint creaminess, like a slow, soft hum. It built up gradually until the flavor completely covered my tongue. It reminded me of biting into a rice krispie bar. Absolutely sweet, delicious, and surprisingly potent.
The green tea was a touch bitter. I accidentally went over temp with my water. Sadly, I couldn’t finish my cup because of this strange pervasive “soapy” taste. What on earth? I don’t know if it was because there was residual soap in the cup, if it was because of water temperature, contamination or WHAT. I’m so upset with myself.
I refuse to blame the tea.
No rating until I try it again. I’ll be waiting anxiously for a re-blend.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Nuts, Vanilla