553 Tasting Notes
Revisit Review! My initial review of this tea was over a year ago, and since it’s one of my oldest teas, I’ve moved it into my sipdown corner. I figured since I’ve been drinking it a lot lately working on clearing it out of my stash, I should revisit it.
My initial review was for this tea brewed western style, and can be viewed here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/379618 . Lately I’ve been making liters of this oolong cold brewed and taking it to work in my water bottle. The flavor is very floral, like a spring meadow, with honeysuckle, lilac, orchid, and perhaps a subtle touch of a soft perfumey jasmine note being the main floral flavors I taste, and it has a very strong aromatic quality and sweetness to it. I’m also getting a subtle hint of pear after some of the florality subsides. It’s been very refreshingly green and it will probably be easy to clear this older tea out pretty quickly gulping down iced brews.
But since I hadn’t tried this oolong gong fu style yet, I wanted to make sure I tried it that way at least once while I still had some leaf, so I decided to dedicate the time to it this evening. Since it was pretty late, I only used around half capacity in my shiboridashi; I didn’t want to use my little baby-gaiwan since big leafy oolong don’t really have the room to open up properly in it.
70ml / 4.5g / 205F / Rinse|30s|35s|45s|50s|60s|75s
The aroma is very floral, smelling of violets, orchids, and lilacs, with a slightly sharp minerality. The flavor after the first steep was floral, soft, and sweet, with just a hint of a pear note toward the finish. The second steep brought in much stronger aromatics, with the floral note having a somewhat perfumey aroma. The tea is quite sweet, like honey, and the orchid flavor settles thick and syrupy on the tongue. When the flowery flavor fades, a vegetal taste is left on the tongue; it’s a leafy green taste that is slightly like brocolli, but it is quite subtle. The third steep was more of the same, though a sharp mineral flavor came forward toward the finish. The fourth and fifth steeps found the aroma softening a little, and the tea sweetening some, with slightly stronger honeysuckle/honey/cream notes, but the mouthfeel was thinning out a bit. By the sixth steep the tea had grown thin in flavor and tasted a little soapy and astringent to me, so it seemed the right place to wrap things up.
This is a tea that I didn’t see much difference in the gong fu brew compared to western and cold brew. It’s highly floral and I like the strong orchid/lilac flavor, but those that don’t like floral teas would not like this tea. It almost borders on being too perfumey for me to handle, but somehow stays just within that fine line where the aroma doesn’t set my sensitive migraine head off. Since I don’t really get anything new from gong fu with this one for the time and effort it takes me to brew that way, I’m pretty happy to finish this off cold brew style (plus, it makes a really nice cold brew!)
Flavors: Broccoli, Cream, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Mineral, Orchid, Pear, Perfume, Sweet, Vegetal, Violet
I received this sample from a cupboard clearout from Meowster a year ago, thanks Meowster! Since I tend to like fruity herbals like this iced, I used it up as a cold brew. The amount of leaf I had was able to brew up a liter and a half of cold brewed iced tea.
This is your typical dark red hibi-hip fruit tea; I don’t add sweeteners to my hibi-hip teas (since I actually like the tart/tangy notes of hibiscus and can take it like a champ) and have to say I actually find this one relatively sweet, myself (hibi-haters would probably disagree with my assessment, though). There is a slight bit of fruity tanginess toward the end of the sip but mostly it comes off quite sweet and punchy to me, and I’m getting notes of blueberry and a pithy sort of raspberry specifically, with a more general red berries/fruit punch flavor.
It’s a fine iced tea for folks like me that enjoy fruity hibi-hip teas. And for those that don’t like a certain red flower, I’m sure it’s “overly tart” and “hibiscus ruins everything” and “why can’t they just make fruit teas that don’t have hibiscus” blah blah blah I’ve been trying to catch up four months worth of Steepster reading for ages now and probably need a break because can you tell I read that a lot? I read that a lot.
Well, I thought this was fine, at least, but nothing that particularly stood out from any other fruity hibi-hip tea. I’m glad I got to try it, though!
Flavors: Berries, Blueberry, Fruit Punch, Fruity, Hibiscus, Raspberry, Sweet, Tangy, Tart
This is another of my old Fusion Tea samplers I haven’t gotten around to yet, “Good Morning Yerba Mate” (you can find all the other reviews for this tea under “Good Morning Mate” for Fusion Teas). Like their Caramel Cream Mate, it appears to be sourced from East Indies Coffee & Tea Company, and of the two, this was the one I was worried about, because it has coconut flakes as an ingredient… but I also never unsealed the packet. I was having trouble with my “is the coconut rancid?” sniff test, since the spices in the tea were overwhelming in the aroma. Hmm. I picked out a piece of coconut and chewed it and it didn’t seem odd, but it was also quite small. Ah well. Sometimes you just have to take a gamble, I guess. I’ll note I have terrible luck with my coconut going bad quickly, hense the trepidation…
Brewed up, the tea smells oddly… alcohol-like? There is a sharpness to it I am not sure how to describe. And sipping it, I get that too… sort of like a chocolate liquor. It’s pleasant, though. I get a mild caramel sort of note, adding a touch of sweetness, but it is rounded out by deep roasted barley flavors from the mate, with some very subtle cocoa notes and that liquor flavor. Though the tea smelled heavily spicy, I don’t really taste a heavy spice note coming out on the sip, but do feel a warmth and just a touch of cinnamon left on my tongue in the aftertaste. I’m not tasting coconut at all, rancid or otherwise, so I think it’s okay? Meh, if I live to finish the sampler then I’m going to assume it was at least fine enough to consume.
Yerba Mate blends are hard to find and so far only Fusion and Tea Chai Te seems to have a decent assortment that taste really nice. All the ones I’ve tried so far have been really solid.
Flavors: Alcohol, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Sweet
This is another of my older Snake River Tea purchases, and another blend wholesaled from ITI (just search “Green Plum and Pear” to find lots of reviews for this tea from other tea shops, since New Mexico Tea Co., Mahamosa, Roundtable Tea Co., and others all source this blend from ITI).
Other than occassionally taking a warm cuppa first thing in the morning, I’ve pretty much been drinking lots and lots of cold brew lately, and flavored greens are good cold brew material for me. The leaf for this smelled a bit odd to me; I’m not sure if it’s age (though I wouldn’t put that past it, since greens don’t hold up the best, though the Moroccan Mint was bought at the same time and that held up okay), but I can only describe the aroma as… rotten fruit. Like, it doesn’t really smell of plums or pears to me, but a fruit bowl that has been out too long. I sort of get pear, but not crisp, juicy pear. It’s just… odd.
The tea also is just… ya. This is not a favorite. It does have more of a pear-like flavor coming out on the sip, but it’s reminding me too much of mushy canned pears, which I don’t like at all, rather than nice, crisp, juicy pears. I suppose one would say those things taste the same, but to me, they somehow don’t. I don’t really get a plum note, because I would expect there to be a nice tartness coming through, which I’m not getting. I almost wonder if these two flavors just don’t really mesh to my palate, and are coming through together as something else… which tastes a bit too much like mushy pear/rotten fruit. Or maybe the base green is just a little too old and bringing a mustiness that is throwing the flavors off; hard to tell, as I’m not really getting a musty or “off tea” note, just… a weird flavor taste. Really hard to make the call here. But I don’t really like it.
I only had an ounce though, so I’ll probably trudge through it making liters of iced tea until it’s cleared out of the cupboard.
Flavors: Musty, Pear, Tree Fruit, Vegetal
This is another of my older teas from Snake River Teas, a Moroccan Mint blend sourced from International Tea Importers. It’s a traditional blend of gunpowder green tea and peppermint, so nothing particularly exciting; I’m not a fan of gunpowder green tea because I don’t like the smoky notes in it, but if I do have to drink it, strong, crisp peppermint does help mask some of that for me so I don’t mind Moroccan Mint too much, especially cold brewed, as I’ve found sipping this down almost entirely cold brewed those notes seem even more subdued. There is a subtle touch of a somewhat earthy, smoky vegetal taste, but the mint provides a very sharp, clean, refreshing taste that pops on the tongue and settles in the aftertaste, so I’ve actually found this quite nice. I’d still prefer to restock a non-traditional Moroccan Mint blend using a different green tea base that isn’t gunpowder green for my collection now that this is gone (such as Steven Smith Teamaker’s Fez), but this certainly wasn’t difficult to finish off, which I was somewhat expecting given my dislike of the base tea.
Flavors: Earth, Menthol, Mint, Peppermint, Smoke, Vegetal
My stomach is hell this morning, so I’m having to give up my morning cuppa of black tea to make something more soothing that might settle the nausea a bit. My go-to for nausea is either mint tea or ginger tea, so I’ve had a box of these teabags on hand for a while that Todd mailed me (I don’t have a local Trader Joe’s and always seem to be rather unimpressed with the bagged mint offerings I find around here… at least the Bigelow one I found retchid). I have liked this one a lot, though. I think I enjoy my mint blends more when they are a mix of peppermint and spearmint, and the touch of lemon helps add another slight note to cut through what would otherwise just be that heavy menthol taste. This one is nice and strong and minty which is precisely what my tum-tum needs, but I do get just a bit of citrus and my tongue is left cool and tingly. The mint is strong enough that the lemongrass doesn’t come off very herbaceous in this particular tea, so while I do prefer other lemon herbs more, it works okay here. This also makes a nice iced tea, as I’ve dropped 4-5 teabags into cold water and let it sit overnight (or 2-3 in a water bottle to take on the go) in the past before to have minty ice cold refreshing tea too.
Flavors: Citrus, Menthol, Mint
This is one of my oldest teas, so I put a priority on finishing it off by making a few quarts of it as iced tea. I got it from Snake River Tea in Boise, Idaho, and it is wholesaled from International Tea Importers (there is a similar blend with the same name from Adagio, but they are different; notably in the rose petal department, and this blend was strong in the rose floral notes! Snake River Tea in Boise uses ITI as a source for a lot of their blends, though it does appear they have stopped carrying this one at some point… proof I’ve held onto this one for far too long.) I don’t really like rooibos iced, but I do like green rooibos iced, so this blend worked well for me. The tea is mango/passion fruit flavored, but to me it tastes strongly of peach, with a punch of floral rose toward the finish. The green rooibos is very light with some subtle hay/vegetal notes that is mostly hidden under the strong fruity/floral flavors of the tea. It makes a very refreshing iced tea.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Hay, Peach, Rose, Stonefruits, Sweet
So, I am officially moved! I am not even close to being unpacked, but I did manage to get at least the kitchen and my tea area done, so hopefully I’ll slowly start easing back into a tea routine again!
I also have kitty moved in! I have named her “Chiya,” the Nepalese word for tea.
I still have a few really old Fusion Tea samplers that I need to finish off. A quick bit of ingredient Googling and I found this particular mate blend, which I purchased as “Caramel Cream Yerba Mate” from Fusion Teas (check under that entry for the bulk of reviews) is sourced from East Indies Coffee & Tea Company. I have one other mate blend sampler from Fusion I need to finish off as well that I’ve never opened, but it has coconut in it, so who knows if it is still good after all this time… since this one doesn’t, hopefully it’s still safe.
The tea brews up the color of a rootbeer… and the aroma reminds me slightly of it, as well. There is sort of a creamy/vanilla scent, as well as that caramel sweetness, that I think is just reading as pop to me… I’m also getting a stronger, barley/coffee sort of aroma as well, and just a hint of cracked pepper?
To taste, it hits more on the sweet side. I’m getting a bit of a chicory/spice note toward the back of the throat at the end of the sip, but the mouth fills out with a strong caramel/vanilla sweetness that lingers on the tongue. It’s quite nice, very naturally sweet, with a bit of a roasted/peppery element to keep it from feeling too overbearing. Overall, the balance manages to be pretty good.
Flavors: Caramel, Coffee, Cream, Pepper, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Sweet, Vanilla
Tomorrow I finally close on my condo and move! HUZZAH! It’s felt like such a long time coming! A stray cat showed up at a coworker’s house about a week ago and because her cat is a “one-cat household” sort of cat, she asked me if I “needed a cat” and I was like, “Yes, but I still don’t have my house yet!” I told her I would in about a week to two weeks and she said she couldn’t wait that long and was going to take it to the shelter, but then she discovered that it came from a very abusive household on her street, so she decided to foster it in her backyard until I’d have my home, and then I’m going to rescue it. It’s a completely black shorthair, presumed female (could possibly be a neutered male?) with green eyes. My coworker says they are extremely cuddly/affectionate and putting on weight well, but does have the stray cat issue of overeating to the point of vomiting. I can’t wait until I can have a comfort animal again!
So this was the other free tea I got from the Tao of Tea booth at Tea Fes PDX. It was a green tea blend, and since I didn’t take a picture of the booth I have no idea what was in the sachets, as it wasn’t one of their sold blends. I’ve just been soaking the sachets as iced tea while my tea collection has been boxed up. I assumed it was probably a Moroccan Mint sort of thing, but it didn’t smell minty, and I thought that might have been because the green tea bags were in the same freebie bag as their hibihip tea bags, which had a much stronger aroma. But this doesn’t taste minty at all. It tastes much more citrusy, and there is something very green, quenching, and refreshing tasting… and I’ve only tasted that particular taste once, when I tried a moringa blend. Could this have moringa in it? Seems a rather strange ingredient to include in freebie teabags, so I doubt it, but the flavor does remind me of it! So a bit like fresh pond water, a vegetative, earthy/plantlike quality, and a bit of citrus, perhaps a bit of herby lemongrass and a little of the punchiness of tangerine. Nicely quenching.
I feel like I still have so much that needs thrown into boxes here at the 11th hour that I’ve had out as living necessities for the last two months, but just no energy with the constant migraines to deal with it. Meh.
Flavors: Citrus, Green, Herbaceous, Lemongrass, Orange, Vegetal, Wet Earth
I still haven’t had any time to talk about my Portland vacation or Tea Fes PDX… and to be honest, probably will not until after the move (I can imagine writing a bunch of notes during the interim that I’m stuck with no internet between the utilities switch, and then having a bunch to post after that… ugh. Not looking forward to that…) But when I was at Tea Fes PDX, the Tao of Tea booth had a wheel you would spin to “win” tea bags, though it was really just a farsical thing to add to the “carnival” motif of the booth, since no matter what number you spun, they would absolutely stuff a bunch of sachet freebies into your bag. There was a green tea and a hibihip herbal, and both blends seem to be originals and nothing I could match off their website. I’m upset I didn’t take a picture of the booth, since now I have nothing to match ingredients from.
I’ve been making these hibihip bags as cold brew iced teas and have finished them off today; quite handy, as all my tea has been packed in boxes for months now and I’ve just had the boxes of bagged/sachet teas in the kitchen cupboard still unpacked. I could tell there was hibiscus, rosehip, orange peel (or at least some sort of citrus peel), and allspice in the blend, not sure if there are other ingredients in there as well. The flavor reminds me a bit of those spiced hibihip Christmas blends, though less strong on the spice elements than those tend to favor. Since the blend isn’t fruit-forward, I get strong tart cranberry/stewed tomato flavor I get from straight hibi, and there is definitely a pop of orange citrus and a mild, non-lingering spice note. It’s been quite refreshing… at least if you are like me, and enjoy drinking iced hibiscus tea by the gallon-full.
Flavors: Citrus, Cranberry, Hibiscus, Orange, Spices, Tangy, Tart