788 Tasting Notes
Moving onto my Rishi teas from my 2017 stuff, and these are all 50g packages and will take many a morning to finish off… and while I realize teas like this are just “meant for gong fu”, western brew work thermoses are going to be the way I accomplish that. Possibly some iced tea/cold brew jars. If I have the time for a gong fu session, I’ll probably pick something I only have a small amount of leaf left that the session can tidily finish off…
I gave samples of these teas to Todd in his advent (before I’ve even tried them, ha) and at least he said they are still holding up, but he also often just thinks “tea tastes like tea” (I still love you, Todd!) so let’s see, shall we?
April/May 2017 harvest, 3.5g in 500ml 205F water, steeped 3 minutes. I smell a bright, fruity mandarin orange aroma, as well as cinnamon. The flavor is malty, with a bit of a baked grain bread with a bit of spice (more clove than cinnamon on the tongue), and an oddly crisp minty note in the finish. I would assume that was flavor contamination from my thermos (I had the Pistachio Mint tea in it yesterday, and even though I thoroughly washed it in the sink last night it still had a “minty” aroma this morning, so I’m going to have to deep clean the thermos with the Mandala Tea Cleaner every time I drink that B&B Mint Pistachio, apparently…) except this was tea that came straight from my infuser to a separate glass for taste-testing since it takes so long for anything to cool in the work thermos. Huh. I guess at 50g, I’ll have plenty more cups to see if that note reappears or is, indeed, some kind of contamination… (Although, I see just before posting this that jamin also tasted “minty overtones” soooooo…)
I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a black tea like this. It’s certainly interesting, and definitely not unpleasant!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Malt, Mint, Orange, Spices, Wheat
Trying to get a quick sipdown in here, since there were only 5 teabags in this little box which came in a gift set that Todd brought me back from Japan in 2018. Three are currently cold steeping in the frige, and I’m preparing the other two now as a hot brew to take to work.
This is nice! The yuzu isn’t overpowering, but is present enough that the green tea has a noticable citrusy flavor. I really enjoy the flavor of yuzu too; it is the distinct lemony flavor that is very sharp/tart and has just the mildest peppery aftertaste, and doesn’t wax cleaner-esque in my brain. The sencha itself is quite nice here too; I’m getting a slight buttery note, which I find rare in sencha but love when it pops up, as well as sweet and mellow grassiness.
I imagine the sharp citrus note will translate even better to the cold brew as being quite refreshing! Very enjoyable. I’ve got the yuzu burpies this morning!
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Pepper, Smooth, Sweet, warm grass, Tart
During my days off I got lazy and didn’t make my breakfast smoothies (they are so handy before work when I can just pop downstairs, grab it out of the fridge already made, and gulp down before heading out!) so now I’m back to Smoothie Town. I currently have a big bag of frozen mango in the fridge and not wanting to pair the Mango Matcha against it (SO MUCH MANGO!) I was looking for something else that might go well. Since the concensus from everyone was that this tasted “fruity” and not like bubblegum, I figured, why not try it?
The dry powder does smell fruity, but a super sweet, candy-like fruity rather than anything resembling actual fruits to me… like blue raspberry Jolly Ranchers, something along those lines. Whisked one teaspoon of matcha in a cup of cold coconut milk to sample first before adding the other smoothie ingredients (mango and a bit of yogurt). I don’t prefer sampling with coconut milk since the coconut carries such a strong and sweet flavor itself, but I really need to use that carton up before it goes off, so it is what it is!
Oof, that is sweet. Granted, this is a sugared matcha in a sweet milk, but… how did Daylon describe it? A “diabetic’s suicidal wet dream”? Yes. That. And that over-the-top sweetness is probably the one part that does make me think of bubblegum… though the flavors are still pulling me toward other sugary sweets. I’m getting a very artificial/candy-like berry flavor (it doesn’t bother me, but I definitely notice the “chalky” nature of the flavor that others described), and, oddly enough, a sweet pineapple note… I do wonder if the coconut milk is just tricking my brain into tasting pineapple from it since they so often compliment each other, though.
Added the mango and yogurt and smoothied for the morning. I could smell the matcha perfectly from the mixed smoothie! Took a quick sample taste and it is still there… still that candy-like berry, but I think it tastes even a smidgeon more pineapply to me now. It’s honestly not so bad smoothie-fied.
I don’t think I hate it as much as others, but it isn’t something I’d ever feel the need to stock for myself, either. I’m actually glad I got to try it… I love bubblegum and I think it would be interesting if I ever found a tea that actually nailed the “pink bubblegum” flavor down (I love pink bubblegum ice cream!)
Flavors: Artificial, Berry, Candy, Fruity, Pineapple, Sweet
Finally finished off my last 50g pouch from What-Cha, and now I only have two small samplers left to clear out from the company, both of which are just the right size for my little mini pumpkin pot for gong fu sessions — a style of brewing I don’t do often and must be reserved for weekends when I have the time. This was an unopened packet from the Spring 2017 harvest.
160ml mini pot | 10g | 205F | Rinse/25s/30s/35s/40s/45s
There is a strong bitter melon and lilac perfume aroma from the steeped leaves after the first steep. The liquor smells mostly very sweet, like lilacs, honeysuckle, vanilla, cream, with a slight sharpness a bit little bitter melon rind or sour plum. The flavor is heavily floral, tasting of orchid/lilac and leaving a coating perfuminess on the tongue, with a slight honey/cream sweetness followed by a bit of a vegetal astringency. Some of the unpleasant coating and astringency began to mellow as early as the second steep, when I noticed quite a difference in leaf expansion. While still predominantly floral, there was a little more of an underlying vegetal note peeking through as well, a bit like sweet peas and grass. The floral started to be much less aggressive by the third steep, becoming more balanced with the vegetal notes, and the tea became a lot more pleasant at that point; a leafy green flavor followed by orchid/lilac sweetness. The tea seemed noticably weaker already by steep four, but on the flip side I was starting to like it a bit better in those later steeps just because the florality wasn’t leaving that unpleasant coating feeling on my tongue anymore…
Last steep ended up all over my lap, the table, my laptop… just everywhere. Cause you know who doesn’t have one of those fancy gongfu tea tables? This person. Session was prompty over at that point.
I love floral notes, but I didn’t really like the mouthfeel of this one. It felt coating/aggressive and had a perfumey quality that was unpleasant for portions of the session. I tend to like Taiwanese oolongs in general, but this particular type isn’t a favorite.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter Melon, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Peas, Perfume, Plums, Vanilla, Vegetal
I was going to make Christmas Cake, but when I dug into my B&B black tea freezer bag, I saw my package of Christmas Cake was still sealed, and this had been cut open, so I changed gears (as I know the sealed packages will keep fresh longer). I know I’ve never had this tea, so I can only assume I opened it to give someone as a request for a trade at some point.
The dry leaf just smells like peppermint tea. And my brewed cup… still smells just like peppermint tea. It’s… a little jarring because there is this really strong menthol coming from the mint, which leaves such a cooling sensation on the mouth, but that sensation is making the black base come off a little metallic in flavor. I have to really push past the strong, minty sensation and swish the tea to taste the malty/bready black base at the back of my tongue and throat. It’s a flavor that can only really come in once that strong minty pucker sort of dissipates from the sip, so the aftertaste is sort of an English-Breakfast-if-I-just-brushed-my-teeth sort of taste. And there is nothing even remotely pistachio, or even nutty about this. I’m not sure if that is just my palate or due to the age of the blend.
Not really a fan of this. I like minty teas, but I don’t think I’m liking the strength of mint here paired on a black base much. Might try it cold brewed or as an iced tea instead, and see if that improves things.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Menthol, Mint, Peppermint
Merry Christmas to all my Steepster friends who celebrate!
Though I don’t observe, I do have the day off work with everyone else and wanted to spend the day sipping on some festively flavored teas. When I was looking through my spreadsheet and saw this I went, “Oh ya, I don’t have to make a smoothie out of all those matchas, I could just, you know, make a matcha latte!” What a concept, right?!
Whisked up 1 tsp of this with 1 cup plain oat milk in the milk frother. It integrated nicely and had a decent layer of foam, which I topped with a pulverized candy cane I got from work. Smells very sweet and minty!
Ah, I think this is the “creamy” element I was just craving last night but missing from the Plum Deluxe herbal… it has a brisk and refreshing peppermint taste, a strong sweetness, but because of the milk, a thick and satisfying creaminess that somehow just makes “sweet” + “mint” work so well for me. This is hitting the spot! I’m not tasting the matcha itself, but considering I didn’t use any water in my prep method and added an extra coating of sugar on top, I’m not surprised… but I’m still happy with how it turned out. It’s like having a peppermint cocoa, with the chocolate missing. (Hmm, maybe I’ll toss a little cocoa powder in with my next cup? Because that sounds nice too…)
Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Mint, Peppermint, Sweet
The dry tea has a very fresh, sweet peppermint aroma. As the tea steeps, in addition to those notes I’m also smelling a somewhat dry herbaceous aroma.
I am getting a cooling peppermint, and there is a sweetness there that isn’t present in a straight peppermint tea (of which I drink a lot, for health reasons!) But I feel like it needs a bit more… oomph. It isn’t sweet/creamy enough to really mimic peppermint candy, and while I normally love green rooibos, here it feels a bit out of place, since I am tasting a dry, hay-like flavor beneath the peppermint. I’d be okay with this as a mint rooibos blend (it’s something different than the abundance of choco-mint red rooibos blends), but candy cane? I am just not really getting candy cane from it.
This was my only advent this year (I did purchase the Bird & Blend and DAVIDsTEA matcha ones, but did not “do them” as advents, I just ripped them open, yanked the samplers, and stuck them into my cupboard for smoothie purposes, heh), and also my first time doing the Plum Deluxe advent. Since I don’t care at all about advent packaging (which is probably obvious considering what I did to the B&B and DAVIDsTEA ones), I only got the teas in the closed envelopes, and I’d say it’s a good price for samplers considering most Plum Deluxe teas sell for $7 an ounce, so $35 for 24 different tea samplers is a pretty good deal as far as money. I found the flavors to be pretty varied as well (though it did seem a bit nut-heavy early in the advent… that tapered a bit later on). The majority were herbals, which would be either a pro or a con depending on your preferences (though maybe that changes from year to year?) I’d say the biggest con for me was inconsistent amounts of tea in the packages — some herbals made very weak cups, and some blacks came out incredibly astringent, because the leaf portions/ingredient distribution was so iffy from day to day. My personal favorites of the advent this year were: Decaf House Blend, Fogcutter, Porch Sippin’ Pecan, Coconut A La Creme, Kiwi Coco-Cherry, Holiday Embrace, Blood Orange Reflection Tea, Winter Wonderland White Chai, Raspberry Linzer Cookie. My most disliked? Not counting the inclusion of a banana tea (which I can’t drink due to severe food aversion issues), I’d say Buttery Shortbread! Banana tea aside, none of my cups were undrinkable, though!
Flavors: Herbaceous, Hot hay, Menthol, Mint, Peppermint, Sweet
I normally won’t brew anything caffeinated after 6 pm, but since this is a houjicha/white mixed base, I’m hoping it won’t carrying enough oomph to ruin my sleep schedule. It sounded like the perfect companion to the slice of tiramisu I got for dessert for my Festivus Feast tonight (I ordered a big ol’ Garlic Roasted Chicken pizza, topped with lots of veggies and basil! It was delicious and I have leftovers for days! The kitty got a salmon dinner wet food.)
My whole kitchen picked up the aroma of warm maple as this steeped. I smell maple and a wonderful, warm cardamom aroma wafting off my new “Merry Everything” mug I was gifted with some edible goodies from my workplace (I can’t help but think I’m the reason they gave everyone “Merry Everything” mugs as I’m fairly certain I’m the only employee that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but honestly finally feeling that little bit of inclusion after all these years really touched me!)
The base is surprisingly not as full/roasty as I was expecting, so perhaps it is much ligher in houjicha than I thought, or maybe this spoonful just didn’t have a very good distribution. Mostly I just taste maple and cardamom, which is a lovely flavor combination (I still miss the Coconut French Toast with Cardamom Maple Syrup tea, and don’t know how I miss getting it into the advent teabox vote every single year…) There is a very mellow woody/nutty flavor in the background. Warm and pleasing, and it does pair nicely this with sticky, sweet tiramisu. Man, I haven’t had a slice of tiramisu in years, it feels so indulgent!
Flavors: Cardamon, Maple, Maple Syrup, Nutty, Spices, Sweet, Wood
Brewed in my “take to work” thermos. I am getting a buttery aroma that I didn’t even get from the Buttery Shortbread Cookies tea, and a sweet raspberry smell, but once again, that peppery scent from the honeybush. This has black tea, green rooibos, and honeybush… are all of those really necessary?
I am getting a bit of a buttery note and a raspberry jam vibe from the flavor, so I definitely see what they are going for. Maybe a very subtle nuttiness, too. And I am tasting the pepper, though a bit lighter this time than in some of their other blends (probably from the honeybush being cut so much). But the base feels a bit thin. Even drinking it, I’m confused what the black tea, green rooibos, and honeybush together are really contributing. I can’t even taste the black tea, and the fact it was labeled as a black tea is why I chose to brew it as my “work” cuppa (caffeine!) It just… feels like an herbal tisane to me, if that makes sense?
I like the flavor on this one, I just think the base likely needs some further tweaking.
Flavors: Butter, Cookie, Fruity, Jam, Nutty, Pepper, Raspberry, Sweet
Today is a bad migraine today, and it is seriously hitting my GI with some nasty nausea and IBS. A bad winter storm blew in last night (high winds and frozen rain, no snow… at least not yet) but I’m fairly positive the barometric pressure is the cause… I’ve always been a walking barometric therometer, heh. I’ve mostly been nursing Lipton Soothe Your Tummy tea (my local store stopped carrying that one, noooooooooo!) but thought I’d try the advent tea now that I’ve slept with a warm cat against my belly most of the morning. I’m hoping it will be nice and gingery as ginger is one of the main things that helps calm my GI when it’s being a butt.
It smells nice in the cup, which is a plus (some tastes/aromas go wonky for me when my head is poof). I do smell spices, but it smells a bit sweet as well… I think I am picking up ginger and pepper in the aroma, and perhaps a bit of citrus and coconut. The flavor is like a more nuanced lemon ginger tea, which actually makes for a great sick tea and was exactly what I was hoping for, and I’m even getting some burpage of that painful trapped air out of my belly as I sip. It’s a lemony base, but definitely waxing into dry hay/herbaceous lemongrass rather than bright, citrusy lemon or pithy lemon zest, that is smoothed a bit with a more subtle coconut sweetness. The spices are the most dominent note, I taste the ginger and peppercorn most prominantly, though I can also pick up a bit of the cardamom as well. I’m not distinctly tasting the cinnamon or clove against the other flavors, and I’m not sure if that was packet distribution or just the place my taster is at with my current head-state. The tea is warming but not burny-spicy, which is the exact spot I like a chai, myself. While I seem to have no boundaries for tart/tangy flavors, I am very spice sensitive!
Not my favorite white chai, which goes to Art of Tea’s Winter White Chai (which I haven’t had in my cupboard for years since they only sell it in 4 oz. bags, which I hate, but I recently restocked during Black Friday this year since Todd said he’d split the bag with me… sorry Todd, after the mail system is back to normal I’ll split the bags and get that out!) But, still a perfectly respectable white chai. I got lemon-ginger, and I needed lemon-ginger, so I’m satisfied. It’s soothing. I just don’t want to think about what the workplace is going to do about me calling out on a week with holiday at the moment…
Flavors: Cardamon, Coconut, Ginger, Herbaceous, Hot hay, Lemongrass, Pepper, Smooth, Spices, Spicy