572 Tasting Notes
Teabox Tuesday! This is one of the teas I’ve had stashed from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and all those that participated and shared! I always meant to try this sooner, and I think my brain thinking that a lot of these teas “should” be drunk gong fu style is what has held me back, as I rarely have the time to do a session. Finally today I just said “screw it” and made it western (easier for me, especially as I can take that out the door to work in my thermos). I had 3.3g in my sample and just brewed it all up in 450ml of water, and since I had no idea how purple leaf tea should be brewed, I used the recommendations from their website for 175F water and a 3 minute steep.
The leaf unfurls to be very full, reminding me a Jin Xuan oolong in appearance, with a strong stewed vegetal aroma. The color of the tea is a pinkish-brown color that is very pretty. The flavor is reminding me of a mellow Chinese green tea, as I’m getting that slight beany flavor that I find in Long Jings and Pi Lo Chuns; there is also a weak, floral oolong quality, though the vegetal flavor comes on stronger. There is no bitterness on the sip, but the tea does leave my tongue with a fairly strong lip-smacking/tongue-drying aftertaste. I’m curious if cold-steeping this would eliminate that and create a more refreshing “clean green” flavor.
It’s a nice enough mellow, afternoon pot of tea sort of brew, and I’m glad for the opportunity to try it!
Flavors: Beany, Drying, Floral, Green Beans, Vegetal
Sampler Sunday! This is the last of my California Tea House samplers, which I brewed in my large teapot (I am not regretting that investment!) The dry leaf has a strong lemon zest aroma, but is pungent enough that I’m wondering if this tea is going to have that floor cleaner/furniture polish sort of lemony taste to it, rather than juicy, citrusy lemon. I have been pretty impressed with the blends from this company so far, though, and there are quite a few chunks of vanilla bean in this sample, so I’m hoping for a sweet/creamy element.
The tea is light red-orange color, not as deep a red as a typical rooibos brew, and the aroma still smells a little more medicinal lemon to me rather than desserty… Tasting it, it really is an odd, pungent sort of lemon… and it isn’t really the sort of lemon flavor that appeals to me. Perhaps it’s the amount of lemongrass in the blend? Because the start of the sip is a sharp citrus note but then it quickly pulls me into something else that is more herbaceous, and I think that hay-like/herbaceous quality is pulling more of a medicinal taste out of the rooibos base, as well. The flavor is coming across with this mildly alcoholic/floor cleaner vibe, though not as badly as some artificially lemon-flavored teas I’ve tried. The lemon tastes more like a citrus zest to me… a lemon-lime citrus zest, rather than a juicy, tangy lemon. And for all the vanilla bean I saw in my sample, while the tea does have a sweetness to it, I’m not getting a vanilla note or a creamy element. It doesn’t even seem to be coaxing out the honey/vanilla notes from the rooibos base.
The other California Tea House teas I sampled were major hits for me, but this one is a miss. I actually like Tazo’s grocery store bagged tea, Glazed Lemon Loaf, better than this.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Herbaceous, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Medicinal, Sweet
Sampler Sunday! I want to finish off my California Tea House samplers, so I pulled out my big ol’ teapot again and decided to brew up this tea as my afternoon pot while watching Japanese dorama with Todd. I have one more rooibos sample which I’ll probably brew up this evening.
When I cut open this sample, it smelled very heavily of orange peel/orange zest… which I suppose makes sense for something boasting itself as “marmalade” flavored. Interesting enough, oranges aren’t listed in the ingredients on the package… huh. It has preserved peaches, pineapples, lemon peel, and licorice, but smells a dead ringer for orange peel!
Brewed up, the earthy aroma of the pu-erh comes forward more strongly, but there is still a syrupy sweet fruity aroma of oranges and apricots wafting from the cup. The tea brews a nice, dark brown, and the flavor is very nice; I remember trying one of those pu-erhs stuffed in a tangerine once and it didn’t have a very strong orange flavor, it was more of a light, floral, orange blossom feel, while this is what my brain was expecting from the tangerine-stuff pu-erh — I’m getting a rich, earthy flavor, a bit like wet stone or minerals, and then a strong ripe orange note. There is definitely a stonefruit quality to the fruitiness, as the lingering flavor on the roof of my mouth tastes like apricot jelly rather than oranges. During the sip, though, the flavor is very citrus-forward. The tea has a very warming quality to it, as well.
So far, I’m really enjoying these California Tea House blends… but alas, they are another of those places that only sells in 4 oz. sizes. Siiiiiiigh. Tea shops, PUH-LEAZE, would it really be so hard to package 1 oz. and 2 oz. options as well?
Flavors: Apricot, Citrus, Earth, Mineral, Orange, Orange Zest, Smooth, Stonefruits, Wet Rocks
I’m on Day 2 of a severe migraine, but back at work, because I’m so tired of the underhanded harrassment any time I’m “out of work for more than a day for a headache” because they don’t understand how chronic migraine works (and this is with FMLA from my doctor on file… I seriously wonder what good it does). So I feel like utter shit, but just have to get through these eight hours. Meeeeeh. This is one of my old “vacation teas” that I got from a vacation to San Diego from a tea shop called The American House — they appear to source the majority of their blends from International Tea Importers, a quite prolific tea blend wholesaler. Metropolitan Tea Co., another large blend wholesaler, also has a Black Currant black tea blend, but their ingredient list is different, which is the taletell sign of which is which.
I remember when I tried this before I found it horribly bitter/astringent, but since then, I’ve really refined how I make black teas for my personal tastes (I use a lot less leaf and shorter steep times than is typically “recommended” by most) and using my typical parameters (this cup was 3g for my 400ml work thermos with a 3 minute steep in 205F water) I am not having that problem… there is some mild drying, but it’s mostly quite smooth and really tasty! I wouldn’t put it up there with Lupicia’s Cassis and Berry, but the base is a nice mix of malty and autumn leaf notes, with just a hint of spice toward the end of the sip, and the black currant flavor is rather full and juicy. It isn’t naturally sweet thanks to the fruity, so a bit of sweetener may make the fruity notes pop a bit more; I’m finding it fine as is, though, as a rather rounded black cup with a strong currant presence. I think I’ll make this as an iced brew next time.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berry, Black Currant, Drying, Fruity, Malt, Smooth, Spices
Throwback Thursday! This was one of my earliest teas, and certainly one of my first flavored green teas. I remember when I was new to teas I found it very fussy and had a lot of issues with bitterness/astringency if it wasn’t brewed just right, but somehow I feel revisiting it now, a good year later, I probably wouldn’t run into that problem. I have a better grasp on not overleafing or oversteeping greens now. I am more worried about age degradation than anything else, since greens are known to not hold up well over time.
I never did much iced tea in my early tea-drinking days either (that came later), so I don’t think I ever cold brewed this one, either, and that is pretty much my standard for fruity greens, now. So this brew was prepared as a cold steep overnight. The tea is such a lovely pale yellow and has a very pungent fruity aroma. The flavor is a crisp, clean flavor that is actually more of a floral flavor than strongly fruity. The green tea has a very refreshing clean sweet grass flavor, and there is a strong spring florality present, reminding me a lot of jasmine blossoms, and then a very gentle, subtle sweet-tart fruity note that is a bit like raspberry or pomegranate that lingers on the back of the tongue. The floral note to the tea is perhaps a little strong with a slight perfume-like flavor, but it isn’t perfume-like at all in aroma and doesn’t aggrevate my head in the slightest; the aroma is very berry-sweet and fruity. Overall, it’s quite nice and makes a nice iced tea for the spring weather. I do think I’d like it more if there was a bit better balance between the floral note and fruity note in the tea, but also appreciate that it isn’t swimming in a strong artificial fruit flavoring that overpowers the base green tea, and I can taste a nice clean grassiness.
It’s a good tea, but I think after having tried so many greens now, I am not as crazy about it now as I was when I first tried it, and had so little exposure to flavored greens (I originally scored it at a 90). So I’m lowering the score, only because after a good year or so of tea drinking, in comparison to so many other teas, it just doesn’t strike that high of a rating for me anymore. I do still quite enjoy it, though!
Flavors: Berry, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Jasmine, Perfume, Raspberry, Sweet, Tart, Vegetal
I wanted to try out my new teapot, and since its main purpose was to hold moar water, I made a big ol’ pot of tea tonight, double the size of what I typically have for my nightly pot o’ herbal, four cups instead of two. This sampler was 14g in size, so I just went all out and steeped up the whole sampler. I ordered this ages ago, in the fall of 2017, and never opened it, and was amazed how much aroma the leaf still held; it smelled boozy, with notes of maple, caramel, coffee bean, and fudge. I wonder how much of that will present itself in the actual tea?
After giving the pot a very generous steep time, the steeped tea is a bit more caramel in color than I would expect from a rooibos, which usually are very coppery red. The aroma is still very enticing; I’m still getting that somewhat boozy essense, with strong hints of cocoa and coffee and a bit of a caramel sweetness. And the flavor is… quite nice! This is an old tea, so I’m impressed it has held up so well! The other tiramisu teas I’ve tried have had a very strong apple presense in their base, but that is missing in this tea; it tastes like a chocolate liquor, and I get a strong fudgy taste toward the end of the sip. There are also notes of caramel, coffee, and roasted nuts. I’m not getting any of the typical flavors of rooibos from the base, other than perhaps it is adding to the caramel sweetness of the tea; it certainly isn’t presenting as woody, grassy, or medicinal in any way. It’s very smooth and a very solid dessert tea.
Am I regreting I used this all up in one shot now? Maybe a little… but at least this is going to be one really nice pot of tea.
Flavors: Alcohol, Caramel, Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee, Maple, Roasted nuts, Smooth, Sweet
Teabox Tuesday! It’s in the herbal hours of the evening and I’m getting low on teabox herbals, but I do still have this one from the Discovery Teabox, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and to those that participated for sharing! Brewed up my small sampler of this one in my little Japanese doubin, which holds about two cups.
The dry leaf smelled faintly tropical to me, mostly of pineapple. Hmm. Perhaps the sort of thing I should cold brew, but the water is already boiled so let’s do this.
Brewed, the cup is faintly pink, and since I am a fan of hibi-hip teas, that’s a fairly good sign for me… but the aroma I get now isn’t fruity at all (why did the dry leaf smell of pineapple to me, I wonder?) but… chamomile. Hooboy. Welp. Yup. That is mostly all I taste. Strong, thick chamomile. If I could actually taste hibi-hip, that would be an improvement for me, because I’m not a fan of chamomile. Looking at the ingredient list, there are a lot of florals in this cup, but I’m not really picking out any other distinct flavors… there is a hint of a sort of aloe taste, but the chamomile is just so strong to me it’s overwhelming anything else that might be in this cup. I’m definitely not picking up any huckleberry, which is supposed to be the flavoring added to this tea.
Maybe if I was a fan of chamomile I’d be alright with this, but as is, this isn’t my cuppa. I added a teabag with a small pinch of hibiscus and rose petals from my dry herb stash to a tea bag and let them soak for a bit in the tea, then added a spoon of lemon-infused honey, and though my tea turned considerably more red, it still tasted of chamomile. Guess I should’ve used more than a pinch, and actually made this tea a Scarlet Dragon… Perhaps that’s what is most disappointing to me. With a name like that, and with the hibiscus and rosehip pretty high in the ingredients, why is this such a chamomile bomb? Probably good news for 99.9999% of Steepsterers, but sadly, I’m in that 0.0001% that would’ve prefered a juicy tart hibi-hip drink because chamomile tastes like soap to my particular palate.
Also, my birthday present to myself arrived today! Since I decided the teapots I inherited from Grandma were too delicate to use as actual teapots and needed to go into storage, I still wanted a larger, “English style” teapot. My birthday is St. Patrick’s Day, and I just happened to see this one looking at English-style teapots… and had to have it.
Isn’t it cute? squee I have such a weakness for cute teaware…
Flavors: Floral, Soap
This is one of my oldest teas, and yet somehow I’ve yet to manage to get around to reviewing it. Welp, I guess I should rectify that, since I’m working on sipping it down.
This tea has a very strong sweet strawberry aroma in the bag, but I honestly find the flavor a bit underwhelming; then again, I have found my flavored rooibos blends seem to not hold strong flavors due to aging the most so far, so for my next pot, I may try adding an extra helping of leaf to see if that helps compensate some. The rooibos itself has a pretty strong flavor to me, it’s edging a little more on woody/medicinal/herbaceous, though the tea itself is very sweet with a subtle vanilla note. The strawberry is present, but there isn’t a strong, creamy vanilla note, so I don’t really get “strawberries and cream” at all, and the strawberry doesn’t feel strong, juicy, and defined against the rooibos base… and I’ve had strawberry rooibos teas like that. This just doesn’t hold a candle to Bird & Blend’s Rhubarb & Custard, which did the strawberry/cream rooibos so well. I believe TeaSource discontinued this one, but I have a very similar blend in my cupboard called Lavenderberry, which tasted like strawberries, vanilla, and a touch of lavender, and I remember it being quite lovely. I wonder if they tweaked the recipe, got a different flavoring for the strawberry, or if the age just made that much of a difference? I may have to make a pot of that tea again to jog my memory and see if I still like it as much as I remember…
This isn’t so bad that I won’t be able to finish it off, but it’s just so underwhelming compared to other better teas I’ve had with this flavor profile. It just feels so weak on the strawberry and cream elements it is supposed to be bringing out, so I feel like I’m just having a pot of rooibos. I like rooibos fine, but if I’m going to have rooibos, then I’d rather not have a very weak fruit flavoring in it, since I feel like that is probably what is bringing out the medicinal qualities.
Flavors: Medicinal, Rooibos, Straw, Strawberry, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
Sampler Sunday! Still trying to finish off all the sampler packets from the Great Sampler Order of January 2018, and it appears I only have three left! Getting there! While spring time does evoke a bit of a “green tea” mood in me (and I have been making a lot of fruity iced green teas again!) and two of the three are green teas, it’s a rainy gray morning today, which just makes me feel like brewing up a pot of black tea, so I opted for the last black tea of the samplers. But it is a rose black, so the floral touch does add a bit of seasonality. I love rose teas so as long as this has a nice base, this should be an enjoyable pot.
The tea has a strong fruity aroma, of stonefruits and mango; in fact, I’m getting very little floral elements from the scent, so it seems the fruit flavorings added to the tea are made to dominate here (which is a bit confusing to me for a tea named “Black Rose”). I am, however, getting more of the rose present in the flavor; the black base is lighter bodied (at least at my brewing parameters) providing a bit of maltiness that is present mostly toward the back of the tongue, but the flavors are left to dominate, with a fruity peach/nectarine/mango flavor filling the mouth until a very sweet floral rose finish closes out the sip. The flavors go well together and it’s a nice cuppa. There is an element of juiciness to it, and the rose flavor is pretty strong in the cup but isn’t a strong wafting perfumy aroma coming off the cup, which can sometimes be an issue for me with my migraine head sensitivities.
This is an enjoyable cup, and honestly the only thing that holds me back from the T2 offerings that I have enjoyed is the fact that they don’t sell their teas in sizes smaller than 100 grams, which I simply won’t purchase anymore. I spent all of last week rebagging teas from such large bags of teas to gift and/or cupboard sale off. In a single-person household, I just can’t deal with such large quantities of tea. Tea shops, seriously, you need to offer smaller sizes of tea for purchase or risk losing business!
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Malt, Mango, Peach, Rose, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet
Throwback Thursday! One of my oldest teas, this is another “vacation” tea, back from March 2017 when I visited Portland. Now I’m planning a return trip for the Portland Tea Expo in summer of 2019 and figure I’d better start finishing off the teas I picked up the last time I was there! I got this one at Tea Chai Te, a gem of a tea shop (can’t wait to return there!), and it’s really more of a spicy hot chocolate than a tea, since the base is lovely, fluffy Guittard cocoa powder. The spices are whole spices though, rather than ground, so it can be steeped like a tea, if you want to prepare it that way, and I believe the last time I made it that way I did so. For this revisit, however, I just put a generous teaspoon directly into my milk frother with a cup of milk and let it steep directly into the vanilla almond milk as the cocoa powder was thoroughly mixed up and dissolved into the milk. Then I just strained out the spices with a strainer as I poured into the cup.
This would definitely be my preferred method of making this, since when I steeped it as a tea it was very spicy for my spice-wuss self, and then it was tricky finding the right ratios of milk and sweetener to add to the tea. Like this, it is very creamy, the vanilla almond milk already brings a balancing sweetness for all the spices, and I’m getting a lovely amount of spices shining through, so it tastes like a lovely cup of Mexican hot chocolate. The cardamom is especially strong, so fans of cardamom (and chocolate, of course!) would probably love this! I’m also getting notes of ginger, pepper, and a dusting of cinnamon across the top of the cup. Rich, creamy, warm, spicy, and satisfying! I’d definitely enjoy more of this! Increasing my rating slightly from before, since now that I have a milk frother to prepare this (I don’t think I even owned one a year ago?) it really makes a huge difference in how easy it is to make this “cocoa style” and how much that improves the overall flavor and mouthfeel for me.
Flavors: Cardamon, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Creamy, Ginger, Pepper, Spicy, Thick