781 Tasting Notes
I figured that I haven’t revisited one of my old bagged teas in a while, and I used to drink Mint Medley for migraine nausea before I switched to loose leaf and got a nausea blend with whole leaf peppermint, ginger, orange peel, and cinnamon in it. I always remember it worked well and I liked the taste well enough. I decided to make a batch of it iced for this revisit, by doing a warm steep and then chilling in the fridge overnight.
Now, I certainly don’t remember this tea being red before… and all the mint loose leaf teas I drink now are always caramelly color, which immediately turned me off from the tea. It smells like mint, but… red? Really? Then I saw the ingredients… rosehips and hibiscus in mint tea? Now, I am a big fan of rosehips and hibiscus (from reading the reviews on this site, I may just be the only one!), and I’ve certainly seen some very effective mint/hibiscus blends. But those are usually advertised as such. When a tea is called “Mint Medley,” I kind of expect to be getting a mint tea, not a mint tea with a bunch of odd additives. Why would I want my mint tea to be red?
The tea does have a very minty flavor, but it just has this sort of off-putting aftertaste. It’s a little hard to describe. It starts off with a very brisk, minty flavor, but then sort of ends with this odd, flat, kind of metallic stale taste that lingers on my tongue (and I checked my box; this tea should be fine until May 2019 according to the packaging, so it certainly shouldn’t be stale). Is it the extras in the blend? I don’t know, because it doesn’t even have the tart/tangy sort of flavor that rosehips/hibiscus/lemon peel should leave behind (if it was a tart finish, I’d actually find that quite pleasant, as that is a flavor profile I personally quite enjoy). It’s just this weird sort of taste that I don’t get when I drink mint in loose leaf blends. If I get my hands on any other bagged mint teas I’ll have to compare to see if I get that same weird taste to see if it is indeed from the rosehips, hibiscus, and lemon peel added to this particular tea, or if I’ve just lost my taste for bagged mint tea in general now.
Flavors: Herbaceous, Metallic, Mint
I recently tried a sakura-flavored green tea, so I decided to sample a sakura-flavored black tea this morning! (What can I say, the spring-like weather has me in the mood, even if we don’t have cherry trees in my area). This tea is made by the Japanese company Creha Tea, but I ordered it through Yunomi.
The first thing to note with this tea is it does use some flavoring, unlike the green tea I sampled recently, so this tea has a much more prominent flavor — having a black tea base, I don’t think there would be any flavor at all without it, given how subtle the sakura taste was on its own when I tasted it in the green tea. But this does give the tea a far more pronounced cherry flavor rather than a subtle floral touch; I imagine for some that will be far more to their liking, and for others, it may be far more disappointing.
The base of the tea is not an extremely strong black, so it isn’t overwhelming to the flavor. More of light-to-medium brew that takes the flavor well, and it’s very smooth. I find no astringencies with the tea, a light maltiness, and a very subtle leafy or woody note. It’s very pleasant. The finish of the sip has this sweet cherry taste, but it isn’t like the cherry flavoring i often find in American blends, that is syrupy, strong, and overbearing. This has a light delicateness to it that really does make me think of cherry-flavored mochi or marshmallows — something soft, fluffy, and sweet, but not overly strong with the flavor. The tea base itself shines through a lot on this, with a softer and more rounded sweet hint of cherry at the end of the sip. It certainly doesn’t have that off-putting “cough-syrup” taste like many cherry teas, and would be a good choice for someone looking for a tea with a subtle and sweet cherry flavor lacking those nasty overbearing medicinal notes.
Flavors: Cherry, Cherry Wood, Malt, Marshmallow, Sweet
Green March! Since this mate isn’t roasted… eh, I say it counts! (May not be green tea, but it is most certainly a very green leaf!) Honestly I’ve always been too sissy to try plain yerba mate, because I’ve read everywhere that it tastes terrible and is very much an acquired taste, so I’ve strictly stuck to roasted mates and flavored mate blends, but this little sampler came with my Citizen Tea order, and I decided to make a large cup this morning and do a quick sipdown.
Honestly, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting (to be fair, from everything I’d read about the taste being terrible, I was expecting it to be unpalatable, and it wasn’t at all). Perhaps there are much stronger mates out there, but this was a quite easy drink for me, and I didn’t find it unpleasant at all. I’ve heard the word “bitter” used to describe it often, like coffee, and while I can kind of see the coffee comparisons (especially from what I’ve had of the roasted variety) it was far too vegetal for me to really get my head around that from this plain green variety. Really all I was tasting was a very mild astringency in the finish, but I’d say it was far less than I get from a really strong black tea breakfast blend, and didn’t really come off to me as particularly bitter. What I was getting was a strong resemblance to gunpowder green tea. It had a very similar body and mouthfeel, and the flavor had this vegetal, grassy/hay taste with hints of tobacco and smoke, which is the same sort of taste I get when I’m drinking gunpowder greens. There was also a sort of minty flavor to it, but less of a brisk, pepperminty taste and more of the menthol, and far more subdued.
All in all it was a pleasant cup, but smoky flavors aren’t my favorite, so I think I’ll stick to roasted mates and flavored blends after all. Still glad I got to try a plain mate, since it is something I’ve been curious about, but not the sort of thing I’d be inclined to spend my own money on.
Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Hay, Menthol, Smoke, Tobacco
Green March! I am a fan of anything and everything sakura (I’m a March baby, I love things associated with Japanese culture, and they just have such a pretty look and smell! Last March I got to see them blooming in Portland, Oregon, but it is my dream to get to go to a proper Hanami in Japan one day!), so when I saw actual sakura-flavored tea, and not that common faux-sakura green tea that is everywhere using cherry-flavoring and rose petals (and don’t get me wrong, I freaking love that stuff!) I knew I had to try it!
This tea was ordered from Yunomi, but is made from a Japanese tea company called Chasandai Tea Factory. From what I’ve found from my (limited) research into flavored Japanese sakura teas, usually the sakura leaves and flowers are salted, not sugared (and I have some of the salted variety on order from Lupicia on the way… can’t wait to try those, too! I’ll just consider going way over my tea budget this month on sakura seasonals a birthday present to myself. cough cough) I’ll be curious to compare the differences, but I have to say, this tea is very unique, and I really like it!
First off, and I know this is quite strange to say about a tea that probably everyone would unanimously think of as floral, it comes off very dessert like to me… in fact my very first impression was sugar cookies, and I often don’t even get that feeling from tea blends that are boasting themselves as cookie blends. Yet, it is hard to put my finger on exactly what it is that strikes those feelings in me. I certainly can taste a rich, vegetative sencha note in the base of the tea, and it is obvious this is a quality sencha. But it has a sort of buttery quality to it that reminds me a bit of drinking a Jin Xuan oolong… that creamy/buttery/vegetative note. It just feels a little lighter in body than a Jin Xuan. Then it has this very notable sweetness, both from the sugared leaves and the natural sweetness of the floral quality of the sakura. Somehow those things put together just make it taste somehow very cookie-like to me, rather than like a typical floral tea. It certainly doesn’t read with a heavy floral taste the way rose petal tea does. It’s a very subtle touch.
The flavor isn’t strong, but it is something very unique. To me it’s like a Jin Xuan that has a subtle sakura petal note instead of that orchid/lilac note that is often lingering under the buttery/vegetal flavor. And it’s just a bit sweeter, hitting this buttercream/cookie note at the back of my throat. If you want something that is going to scream “sakura” at you, honestly the faux teas that taste strongly of cherry and flowers but are accomplishing the deed in an artificial way are going to do it better, because as I’ve discovered, sakura is a very subtle flavor note. But this is quite different, and quite tasty! I’ll definitely be enjoying this, and may try making an iced brew and seeing how that tastes, as well.
Flavors: Butter, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Sugar, Sweet, Vegetal
Green March! Because a blend of green mate, green rooibos, and jasmine green tea should totally count, right? Somehow I keep forgetting I have this tea, and I ended up getting a big bag of it on a whim a year ago with a birthday gift card to Art of Tea (I’m a St. Patties’ baby), since this tea was being discontinued and was marked down, and I didn’t have many mates at the time.
I made this iced (and I am going to assume this blend was probably made with iced tea in mind; I’m not sure if I’ve ever tried it warm) using the cold brew method with an 8-12 hour overnight steep. The tea is a peachy-pink color, with a very light and refreshing flavor that is fruity, tangy, and bears just a hint of a floral sweetness. The tea smells strongly of schizandra berries with some light jasmine notes (and I almost didn’t order this because of the inclusion of jasmine, since I can’t stand heavy, perfumy jasmine teas; I can gladly say this turned out just right for me!) which gives it this really unique aroma. It has this light berry flavor that leaves a very subtle tangy note on the tongue from the schizandra and hibiscus; it is not as heavy and thick as most hibiscus infusions, and even the color of the tea gives away the lightness of the hibiscus petals in the blend. I’m picking up a very soft citrusy note which may be from the tulsi, but it is very subtle beneath the berry flavors. The tea has a soft, refreshing floral jasmine taste that is very pleasant. Despite the base being composed of three very grassy, vegetal teas, there is no vegetal taste to this tea as an iced beverage, making it a very refreshing drink, that has a nice natural sweetness, is fairly mildly tangy compared to many iced tea blends, and has a nice subtle floral edge.
I think I’ll be forgetting about this tea a lot less!
Flavors: Berries, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Sweet, Tangy
I really love Cost Plus World Market’s coffee (the pumpkin seasonal one is divine!), so when I first got into loose leaf tea and saw they had a bunch of jars of tea, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with any of their offerings. Ultimately, I grabbed this Coconut Chai. I haven’t quite hit the best by date on it yet, but I’m getting close, it’s been so many years and I’m still trying to finish it off, I dislike it that much. It is a really weak chai. The base of the tea even looks weak in the cup, and there is just something that tastes sort of… chalky or barky about it. It just doesn’t have a nice, smooth blend of spices like other chais I’ve been spoiled by, and for a coconut chai, it doesn’t even have coconut in it! The coconut notes are only imparted through flavoring. Would adding some coconut flakes have been too much to ask for in a coconut chai blend? There is a mild spiciness to the cup, but the whole thing is just underwhelming. In order to finish it off, I’ve mainly been massively overleafing the brew and making it by the quart iced, and then adding a bit of vanilla almond milk and coconut milk creamer to actually give it some coconut flavor. It’s still not the most exciting chai latte, but it is tasty enough to drink (the coconut creamer is a definite improvement!)
Flavors: Coconut, Spices, Sweet
Green March! Another International Tea Importers blend that I picked up at Snake River Tea in Boise the last time I was there. This one took a bit more researching on my part to hunt down the blend source, since the blend is called “Cholestea” but Snake River Tea had renamed it “Capitol City Market Spice.” As far as I’m concerned, it should just be called, “Nastea,” because that is what it is (and for the most part, I usually really like ITI’s blends!)
The ginseng in this is just really, really overwhelming, to the point that the tea really doesn’t have much other flavor. There is a slight cinnamon note on the finish, but you have to really be looking for it… the tea just tastes overwhelmingly musty and medicinal to me. It isn’t even really an… earthy sort of flavor, to me it just feels… dirty somehow, like ginseng roots fresh from the ground were just steeped in water and just left this really unpleasant dirty flavor behind.
I have a full ounce of this stuff, so I was trying to find some way to make it palatable, and thought maybe some honey would help. ………I swear this is the one time adding honey to a tea actually made it worse! You know those ginseng and honey cough drops? Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. I wanted to mask that icky medicinal taste, and actually made it taste more like medicine! Bleeeeeech! So honey was a big fat no. I really don’t know if there is a saving grace for this one…
I’ve had ginseng in other tea blends and it has been just fine. I think it’s just the presentation. It is just such an overwhelming flavor here, and not blended with a proper balance with the other flavors, so you just get nothing but this strong, heady ginseng taste. I’m sure there are some folks out there that would really enjoy that, and this is the tea for them. I just happen to not be one of them.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Dirt, Medicinal, Musty, Wet Earth
Ah, another International Tea Importers wholesaler blend, so this will probably pop up over and over under different tea shop’s names. I made my purchase from Snake River Tea in Boise, Idaho. I already see that places like “Roundtable Tea Company” and “Grandpa’s Cheese Barn” (Really? Grandpa’s Cheese Barn?) are listed in Steepster… shame they don’t allow the merging of records… (It’s my weekend off and my librarian cataloger brain can’t get “merging records” off the brain…)
I’m supposed to be preparing a tea talk for National Library Week in April, so I’m trying to find a good white tea to share from my stash. I was going to use Machu Peach-u but after I tried it again and found it just too autumn leaf pile-tasting than I remembered, I just don’t think that is a good one to introduce onto the general public, and I wanted at least one blend that I can make a nice iced tea out of (as I can prepare iced tea ahead of time, and that’s one less tea I have to brew “live” during the program) so now I’m going through others in my stash before I resort to ordering more in a mad dash to find a good one. This one… might be okay? I want a nice white tea flavor, but don’t want it to be… overwhelming, and I want it to have some nice blended flavoring, too, if that makes any sense. (Most of the teas in the talk will be pure teas, as it is focused on history/culture, but I want a few blends in there since they appeal well to the general public/new tea drinkers, and this will very much be an “introductory” sort of talk…)
I made this iced using the cold brew method, steeped overnight. I do get very slight vegetal notes from this tea, but not that overwhelming autumn leaf sort of flavor I was getting from Machu Peach-u, so this may be more on par to what I am wanting. Subtle base notes, without being too… strong and possibly off-putting. This has a really brisk, refreshing taste, with a flavor that reminds me of white wine (or at least what I can remember of it, I haven’t been able to have it in decades thanks to chronic migraine). There is a bit of a sweetness to it, but not overly so; there is a fruitiness to the tea, with a subtle tart grapiness and blackberry flavor. Overall, I really like it; it’s much nicer than the Machu Peach-u, thanks to the base being softer and a little more subtle, so the fruit notes feel better suited to the blend. This is one of those iced teas that somehow brings me the appeal of chilled wine (something I can’t have), so I think I’ll keep this one around!
Flavors: Blackberry, Fruity, Grapes, Hay, Sweet, Tart, Vegetal, White Wine
Green March! The first time I ever had Milk Oolong it was one of those mindblowing experiences for me; I remember just being really taken by that creamy, buttery flavor. It was TeaSource’s brand in my local coffee shop haunt that I hit up during lunch breaks from the library. I knew I had to get some for myself, but was surprised by the price tag on it, so I decided to shop around and finally settled for Strand Tea’s offering, which seemed a pretty good value.
At the time I wasn’t aware there were naturally-flavored versions of the tea, and those that were just unflavored, natural Jin Xuan leaf, so I was a bit surprised when this tasted quite a bit different than what I remembered tasting that day in the cafe. Once I became a little more educated on Milk Oolongs, I realized right away it was because the TeaSource version I’d sampled before was flavored, and this one was not. It took a little getting used to, but I warmed up to it very quickly!
Brewed western-style, this tea has thick buttery vegetal notes, which make me think of steamed, buttered vegetables, particularly brocolli. And since that is something I quite enjoy, I find this a really nice tea. There is a slight ghost of a floral note beneath the butter and vegetative flavors, but it is very subtle, and comes across more as a bit of sweetness right at the end of the sip. The tea is really smooth and sweet with no astringency, and works surprisingly well as a “quick cup” or “on the go” oolong.
I tried it for the first time gongfu style, and almost feel a little guilty to say that I actually… like this one western-style more. I definitely prefered my Li Shan more gongfu style, but with this one, the buttery notes came out more in the western brew, and I got more of a vegetative astringency in the shorter gongfu steeps. However, the floral notes hidden underneath were able to come out in the gongfu session, and it was nice to get to experience those notes, so I’m glad I experimented with it! My session lasted ten infusions, starting with a 25s steep with infusions increasing by 10-15 seconds.
At the start of the session, the tea had a very sharp, buttery aroma. There were some very light, buttery notes, but the key notes were spinach, asparagus, and a little grassiness. There was a very fresh, vegetative feel, but then the vegetable notes became more astringent, with a much stronger spinach/brocolli presense in the forefront, and a heavy cooked vegetable aftertaste in the mouth. Some very subtle orchid floral notes seemed to be lingering in the background. By the fourth infusion the astringent vegetal notes were really starting to mellow out, as the floral notes started to push their way into the forefront. From the fifth infusion on the mouthfeel was very much filled with an orchid/lilac/violet floral flavor, and quite sweet on the initial sip, with just a slight lingering vegetal astringency right at the end of the sip left on the tongue. Toward the end of the session the astringency continued to mellow and the tea began to have more of a sweeter, buttery aftertaste. On the final infusion the floral notes started to feel a little washed out and perfumey.
While most oolongs do better with the subtleties of eastern-style brewing, I really just prefer the flavor of this one as a western-brew. That rich, buttery, vegetal taste does it for me, and I have other oolongs where I can get those subtle floral flavors that become lost in the western brew of this; for me, it’s all about those butter notes in this one anyway! I just can’t get enough of that buttered brocolli vibe!
This probably isn’t the most decadent Jin Xuan out there, but I’ve been satisfied with it, especially for the price.
Flavors: Asparagus, Astringent, Broccoli, Butter, Floral, Grass, Orchid, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal, Violet
Green March! I received this as a free sampler at some point when I ordered from T2, and I’ve been feeling very under the weather, and for whatever reason I’ve been craving green teas. As I was digging through my samplers, I realized that just a nice, plain sencha sounded lovely; just a simple green tea that will be warm and easy on the stomach. And it certainly fit the bill.
I was actually a bit impressed that for T2 brand the leaves had a very nice, full expansion. I’ve always thought of them as being more known for their flavored blends so I honestly wasn’t expecting much from one of their simple pure teas, but this was very nice. It had a very crisp, clean, light body with refreshing grassy vegetal notes and a mildly sweet finish.
The sampler had about two servings of leaf in it, so my first cup used just a teaspoon and was absolutely lovely. Wanting to finish the sampler up (the almighty sipdown!), I just dumped the remainder of the leaf into my infuser this morning and that may have been just a smidgeon too much leaf than I prefer for this kind of tea; the little bit of extra leaf left a slight astringent finish that I don’t care for much, so be careful not to overleaf this one! One teaspoon (and I wouldn’t heap it!) should be plenty. That produced a far nicer flavor in my opinion (or maybe I just prefer my greens on the lighter side?) Next time I may just have to let that last little bit of leaf at the bottom of the sampler bag be forfeit!
Flavors: Sweet, warm grass, Vegetal