606 Tasting Notes
I realize teas like this typically “should” be drunk gong fu, and maybe I will still get around to that (I have 50g, so plenty more to experiment), but today I just wanted to brew up a quick mug of something to go with my grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. Originally I was going to make a straight black but when I started digging through my straight tea storage, I saw this pouch, it had been opened at some point, and it’s old, so I figured, why not? (It has been brought to my attention my definition of “old” and other Steepsterers definition of “old” is not the same, so I will specify this is the Spring 2017 harvest. Yes, I consider 2017 teas “old.” Remember, I didn’t get into the tea game until fall of 2016 so my oldest teas in my collection are currently 2017 teas, and those are the ones I’d rather get out to replace with fresh.)
Anyway, I was certain I’d reviewed this before, since it was an opened package, but I did a Ctrl+F on my Steepster.txt file where I keep all my review writings and… nope! So here we go. Considering this is an older tea and brewed western, I’m sure it will not be as nuanced, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. (To be fair, anything I say about oolongs should be taken with a grain of salt anyway).
3.5g brewed in 350ml water at 205F for a 3 minute steep. The aroma is incredibly fruity, like oranges and honey, immediately making me think of marmalade jam. I’m getting a bit of an apricot note in the aroma as well, and a more subtle maltiness. The flavor is quite tasty, definitely very heavy in the fruity notes that were coming out in the aroma. Mainly I’m getting an orange taste, but it is sweeter and honeyed rather than citrusy, and I’m getting a strong stonefruit impression. There is a bit of a maltiness with hints of baked bread, cocoa, cinnamon, raisin, and toward the end of the sip, a sweet florality toward the back of the tongue that tastes of rose to me. I’m really enjoying it and impressed with how much flavor I’m getting considering the age and brewing method I chose.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Jam, Malt, Orange, Raisins, Rose, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet
Virtual Teatime with Todd during Sunday Doctor Who! We got the same teas from the Mystery Box sale (sans one banana tea; I appreciate it, Anne!) so we decided to do a sampler round during our weekly Sunday online viewings. I wanted to do this tea first, because I had a sealed older packet from the 2018 Christmas box, and I’m all about using up older tea first.
The dry tea leaf actually had an aroma that reminded me of coconut creme, for some reason. I brewed 5g for 3 minutes in 500ml water. Steeped up, though, it smells more like vanilla brandy, and I think I do pick out the marshmallow, though my nose is still reading the fragrance as toasted coconut (maybe it’s the toasty association in my brain of both ingredients?) The tea is smooth, with notes of malt and honey, and I’m definitely tasting vanilla and cream, with a touch of astringency left after the sip. It’s actually a rather robust black base, and I think if I were to make a second pot, I might add just a hint of sweetener, perhaps experiment with a touch of honey or making this as a latte with vanilla almond milk. Straight up, it is a nice breakfast option or afternoon pick-me-up tea due to the boldness of the assam.
Flavors: Astringent, Cream, Honey, Malt, Smooth, Toasty, Vanilla
This was one of the teas provided to me for sample by Plum Deluxe, thank you so much Plum Deluxe! I have been curious about this tea because I love chocolate orange as a flavor pairing, but have yet to try a chocolate orange tea that I really like (Terry’s Tea from Bird & Blend really didn’t do it for me, not having much chocolately flavor and the orange coming off with that very artificial flavor that I typically find of the orange flavoring used in teas). I was very curious to see how this one would go over with me, or if I’d find the same problems I tend to find with chocolate orange teas.
The smell in the package definitely reminds me of those dark chocolate covered orange gummy candies I got once at Trader Joe’s and loved; brewed, the orange aroma is presenting a little more of that “artificial flavor” orange I’m used to in teas, but I’m surprised how strong the chocolate is coming off the top of the cup, since I’m used to chocolate notes not presenting well in tea. The flavor is actually surprisingly nice; the chocolate notes are coming through well, more of a dark/bittersweet chocolate but there is some sweetness there as well. The citrus is a little artificial, but not overbearingly so compared to some orange teas I’ve tried, it is on par with some orange sweets I’ve tried. There is a pleasant citrus zest tartness on the back of my tongue, likely from the actual orange peel in the blend. The tea base, a blend of black tea and honeybush, is nice; I’m wondering if a naturally chocolately Chinese black is used (it isn’t specified), but I think the honeybush adds a touch of rounding sweetness to some of the tart citrus notes. There is a good balance. While I haven’t tried a lot of chocolate orange teas, this one definitely holds up as the best of the onest I have tried, and certainly one I wouldn’t mind having again.
Flavors: Artificial, Candy, Chocolate, Citrus, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Orange, Orange Zest, Sweet, Tart
I got hit with such a bad vestibular migraine at work today I had to call it at my lunch break and take the rest of the day off (waiting an extra 30 minutes in the break room until the dizziness even calmed down enough that I felt I could safely get my car home, it was so strong). I rarely get that type of migraine, my M.O. is classic migraine, but not fun nonetheless. I zonked hard with my companion animal and when I felt her licking my face I decided to finally surface from bed and drink something for the nausea. I think I heard of this tea once from a tasting note of derk’s and found it just recently in my local grocery, so I grabbed it. It has both peppermint and ginger in it, the two things I like when my stomach is crap, so I made a mental note that if it ever showed up in a local store I’d grab it… and then it did. So today is the day to christen that box.
The cup actually smells quite nice… it smells of mint and ginger and also licorice root, though that is probably mostly the fennel that is advertised in large letters on the front of the package. It also has a quite citrusy aroma. Flavor is minty and a little spicy, I can feel some warmth on the back of my throat but it isn’t lingering or unpleasant. The clove also leaves a bit of an aftertaste as well. It is subtly earthy, has a bit of a citrus touch, and a strong licorice flavor and sweetness. It is a nice tea, I wish the menthol notes were coming out just a touch stronger but otherwise this is a pretty solid sick blend.
Flavors: Citrus, Clove, Earth, Ginger, Licorice, Mint, Spicy, Sweet
Decided to make this single-serving teabag I got as a sampler from Lupicia with some long-ago order before the California flagship closed down for my Doctor Who-watching afternoon teatime (at least the name fits). It is a typical malty black tea blend, and a rather nice one, at that. I get notes of malt, baked bread, grapes, raisins, and autumn leaf. It’s a pleasant breakfast blend black tea, the sort that appeals to me by being smooth and with mild astringency and pleasant to take plain.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Grapes, Malt, Muscatel, Raisins, Smooth
Decided to do a gong fu session this morning while I have the time for it. This is one of the remaining teas from the last Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thanks to tea-sipper for organizing and those that contributed for sharing! I brewed the 3.77g sample I had of the tea in my 100ml shiboridashi using 185F water (I brewed it and put it in a hot/cold thermos rather than have to make trips back and forth from my kitchen to my dining table to the kettle).
3.77g / 100ml (shiboridashi) / 185F / 20s|30s|40s|50s|60s|70s
Dry, the leaf reminded me of the aroma of a summer field, smelling of dry hay, dandelions, and pollen. Wet it still had the hay smell and had a very herbaceous aroma. The brewed liquid was nearly clear, almost looking like water, though there was a very pale yellow upon closer inspection. The aroma had a faint citrus aroma, like lemongrass. The flavor of the first aroma was initially like hay and herbs, but then a strong fresh pine flavor came forward at the end of the sip. All subsequent infusions had a strong camphor and citrus aroma with both pine and citrus notes being very forward in the flavor, with a very subtle sesame seed note in the aftertaste.
There wasn’t really any variety from steep to steep and I wasn’t able to pull many flavor notes from the tea, but I was really digging the strong pine/citrus flavor I was getting from the tea, since I’m a sucker for pine notes and rarely find them in teas. Thanks for the share!
Flavors: Camphor, Citrus, Dandelion, Hay, Herbaceous, Lemon, Lemongrass, Pine
I had to rush out the door only grabbing iced tea out of the fridge this morning, but I was really crazing a warm cuppa on this rainy morning, and had to wait until my lunch break to finally get to brew a thermos of hot tea. This is one of my oldest teas so I grabbed this one to start working on sipping down; it smelled fantastic steeping on my desk, reminding me a lot of the Blackberry Dumpling tea I had not long ago, which I really enjoyed.
I’m getting some baked bread and subtle honey notes from the base black tea, with a stronger sweet rose florality; it isn’t as strong as I was imagining (I’m a big fan of rose so there is pretty much no such thing as “too strong” with me and rose!), but I can pick it up toward the back of my tongue. The fruitiness of the blackberry is a much stronger flavor note and dominates over the florality, so it tastes more of a nice blackberry black tea, with a very soft and subtle floral touch to the base black; I think even someone that typically hates floral notes in teas would have no issues with this tea. Since I love rose teas, I actually could’ve done with those notes presenting a little stronger, but I still love the blackberry flavor used by 52Teas — it just tastes so full and juicy, like biting into actual fruit. It’s a good tea and I’m so happy to get a hot black cuppa on this drizzly day, but I would’ve liked to have seen a little more balance between the fruit and florals, personally
Flavors: Baked Bread, Blackberry, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Rose, Smooth, Sweet
I have a half-gallon of coconut milk that was unopened in the fridge but getting close enough to the date that if I don’t start working through it now, most of it is going to be wasted, so I started looking through my teas for something that might go good with it. Found this matcha sampler I hadn’t opened yet, and thought that would be a solid flavor combo. I used a teaspoon in 350ml of coconut milk in my milk frother on the heated setting. I may have used a little more matcha than necessary but wanted to make sure the flavor would come through the strongly flavored milk, and it was pretty good! Oddly enough, it reminded me of pina colada, despite there being no pineapple flavor… something about the creaminess, and the sweetness of the coconut paired with the lemon flavor made the citrus read more as a pineapple flavor in my mind, I suppose? There was a touch of grassiness but mostly I tasted smooth and creamy pina colada latte. My only real issue was some issues with separation and having to open up my thermos and restir occassionally, which was annoying enough to keep me from rating this higher for how much I enjoyed the flavor.
Flavors: Creamy, Lemon Zest, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass
I’ve been trying to sip down most of my “Bird & Blend Tea Co. from when their name was still Bluebird Tea Co.” because… how long ago was it now that they changed their company name? Ya… it feels so long ago now, so I really should be sipping those teas down (my logic, anyway…) I recently finished off the packet of Choc It Rock It I got from one of tea-sipper’s cupboard sales a few years ago and now I’m working on this one. Thanks, tea-sipper! I had reviewed the former, but haven’t done so for this one yet.
The aroma of the dry leaf reminds me a lot of the Bondon herbal tea I sipped down recently by Steven Smith Teamaker… I get strong impressions of cinnamon and sarsaparilla, both things I like a lot. And then I take my first sip and… holy teabags, Batman, how much chili did they put in this?! A spice-wuss like me is not prepared for that at any time, least of all first thing in the morning. Phew. Damn. How can anyone focus when their mouth is on fire?! Unless the idea is to focus upon ones burning mouth. I can’t say if the yerba mate is waking me up, but that chili sure as hell did the job… can’t say it was exactly pleasant, though. It’s just… scratchy and burny at the back of my throat, and while I can taste the cinnamon in the blend, it is just overwhelmed by the spice so it isn’t adding a balancing sweetness. While I could smell sarsaparilla, I certainly can’t taste it against such a powerful flavor. Honestly, I’m having a hard time even picking up the taste of the mate base itself.
I would’ve been curious to see how the flavors in this would’ve worked if the chili had just not been present at all. Even old as this tea is, it is just still too strong for my spice-sensitivities and I can’t taste much against it. It’s just burning-heat-with-a-side-of-cinnamon.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Spices, Spicy
Recently I was sent some teas to sample from Plum Deluxe, so thank you very much, Plum Deluxe! This tea was a free sampler in the package, and as soon as I’d finished sipping down the bag of tea I’d been working on as my daily drinker I wanted to brew this up, since I have a terrible habit of stashing coconut teas, forgetting about them, and then having the coconut go rancid and never getting to try them. What a treat it will be to drink a freshly blended coconut tea for a change!
The dry leaf had a lovely aroma of spices and coconut, but after steeping, the leaf reminded me of lemon ginger tea, with a bit of cinnamon also hitting my nose. The tea itself has a really pleasing aroma of coconut, lemon (a bit more like lemon zest or lemon cream, actually), and spices (I can pick out ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon in the aroma). With just a single-serving sampler I decided to try this chai straight rather than adding any additions (if I’m going to make a chai latte-style, I often go for a stronger brew that will withstand the addition of the milk) which often makes me worry that it will come off a bit strong — many I’ve tried are either quite astringent in the black tea or too spicy unless milk is added — but this was surprisingly very smooth taken straight. I am a person that likes tart/sour flavor profiles and the lemon/citrus is a pretty dominant flavor in the cup which I immediately found quite to my liking; it hits with the spices at the beginning of the sip, and then a very sweet coconut flavor comes toward the end of the sip and lingers on the tongue. It’s a very nice balance. The ginger spice really pops in the blend and compliments the citrus nicely, but it isn’t strong, burn-your-mouth-off ginger that leaves that unpleasant tingling on the throat for spice-wuss types like myself; it’s just a nice, pleasant warming effect. I can pick up a bit of clove and cardamom as well, and a touch of cinnamon sweetness. The base tea is just a bit malty and holds the flavors well.
I’m really enjoying this; it has a nice sour-and-sweet balance and as a chai, holds up well as a naked cup, which I certainly can’t say for all chais I’ve tried. No doubt it would likely also taste great steeped strong and mixed with some coconut milk as well. I’m really enjoying the lemon zing and sweet coconut on this cold and rainy winter Idaho morning.
Thanks again, Plum Deluxe!
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Coconut, Cream, Ginger, Lemon Zest, Malt, Pleasantly Sour, Smooth, Spices, Sweet, Tart