38 Tasting Notes

75

What an interesting dry presentation. . . Looks strange, smells like tamari of all things. . . My cat tried to run off with one (it was safely retrieved with no harm done to either tea or cat). Considerably less unusual in the pot. Nice, light flavor. I didn’t get the advertised apricot, but I did taste a strong overtone of spring wildflower honey that’s very pleasurable and eerily spot on for what my coworker’s bees most recently produced.
It has a downside— unlike most oolong, it did not take kindly to being left in a cooling pot to continue steeping past the initial, recommended point in time, and my second cup was thus bitter. I’d have brewed it in a filter if I’d known it wouldn’t behave as well as most in its class do, but ah well. Hind sight and all that.

Flavors: Honey

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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65

Had the spring 2019 edition of this. It’s alright, but not what I hoped it could be. The search for a passable decaf substitute for black tea continues. . .
As for this, I think I’d have liked it more if it weren’t smoky. There’s some woody, earthy, not-quite-mushroom and plummy notes underneath it, and some vaguely tea-ish flavor, but it’s its own thing at the heart. Interesting looking leaves.
Giving it a no recommendation as a tea, but as a not-tea it’s worth sampling at least.

Flavors: Earth, Plums, Smoke, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 5 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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15

Tazo! What the devil! If they ever reformulate this to omit or substantially reduce the citric acid, we’ll talk again, but for now I’ve got to condemn this. What a baffling choice to include that stuff. There’s hints of genuine sweet and bitter citrus notes, and this smells like orange zest, but it tastes like someone found a way to re-purpose the sour ‘sand’ that inevitably falls off of sour fruit gummies and collects in the corners of the bags.

Flavors: Bitter, Orange Zest, Sour

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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60

For what it is, it’s not so bad. Drinkable enough on a night I really wanted tea but didn’t want to deal with measuring and minding temperature. The honey and vanilla aren’t really present, but it’s an alright base. Smidge of red berry flavor. Probably would’ve been better amended instead of neat; I’ve got another bag, so I’ll try it that way next.

Flavors: Red Fruits, Tea

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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95

What a cheery tea! It’s not particularly nuanced or unusual— just pineapple and green tea with a little coconut— but well executed. The flavors are balanced and the pineapple tastes fresh, not dry. It also resteeps like a champion, even when abused in the manner I usually abuse teas by leaving them in my cooling pot; that seems to be due to the pineapple moreso than the tea itself. Overall, sunny and refreshing. I’ll be buying a full sized bag of this.

Flavors: Coconut, Green, Mineral, Pineapple

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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95

Thanks to eelong for sending me a sample of this and reminding me that classic flavor is classic for a reason.
This is black tea, with the faintest, barely discernible hints of muscatel and chocolate. It is exceptionally smooth with zero tannic acid. I found myself immediately wanting more once I was done with it— not my usual reaction to a tea with a more or less one-note profile, but Wild Boar is not bland or simple. It is stalwart but refined. To me, it brings to mind the image of an old sea captain— enduring, stoic, and pointedly what it is no matter how it’s framed.
(This smells a bit salty in the bag, which may be where that comparison hails from. . .)

Point being, this is what should be at the heart of a good black tea and, unlike some more nuanced varieties, is not going to fail you even if you brew it tired and half-wrong. Good enough to drink contemplatively, faithful enough to drink when worn out and in need of something that gives more than it takes.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Muscatel, Tea

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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70

Strikes a good balance between sharp ginger and sweet peach. It smells like there’s freeze dried peach pieces in it, although there aren’t. The calendula petals slip through into my teacup and are honestly kind of nice to eat. However, the base is rooibos. Fortunately, it’s not a bad one, but it’s also not a good one. It adds a slightly medicinal note to the brew but is otherwise unfelt on the tongue. I do, however, notice its tiny, lightweight flecks escaping containment and forming a mound in my cup. I’d score this higher if it were on, say, a base of bai mudan.

Flavors: Ginger, Medicinal, Peach

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 4 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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100

Spectacular! Worth every cent. Luscious, creamy, cloudy liquor resembles and tastes similar to miso soup with ample seaweed. Delicate floral notes and a grounding hint of earthy bitterness round out the flavor. The nose is something special: it smells precisely like BeauFort London’s Fathom V with the florals boosted. For those unfamiliar, Fathom V calls to mind moss and musk, ozone and the sea, whipped-up white florals and velvety spices. It’s a merger of chypre and aquatic that I find reminiscent of a greenhouse, the section under the misters. I’d just applied some when I opened this bag and was briefly horribly confused.
A note: it is possible I brewed this hotter even than I recorded, as temperatures that low are difficult to eyeball. I think I may have as it resteeped acceptably, but not superbly. I also left my leaves in the pot, which could also have sapped them, but greens usually stand up admirably well to that treatment so I suspect I subjected it to a bit much heat. Will go lower next time and see how it affects longevity.

Flavors: Butter, Earth, Floral, Marine, Seaweed

Preparation
155 °F / 68 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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60

Cinnamon. It tastes like cinnamon. I had this several days ago and have tried to come up with more nuanced thoughts, but I really don’t have any. It’s a good cinnamon! Strong and spicy, likely due to containing the oil as well as the bark. But, it doesn’t taste a lick like what it’s supposed to, even if it does smell a bit vanilla-ish still in the bag. Even there, the cinnamon predominates. Rename it cinnamon swirl and I’ll rate it higher, Yogi.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Vanilla

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
tea-sipper

What if you only try steeping the first steep for about a minute? (I’d do a second steep just to feel I wasn’t wasting a tea on a minute.) Sometimes I find flavor pops more with shorter steeps.

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80

This was likely never intended to be brewed Western-style, but yet, owing to my gaiwan-less state, that’s how I made it. The strangest things happen when you put things through what they weren’t meant to be; this was the most confounding thing I’ve found in a cup.
The tea is pressed into a candy bar style brick, which gives easily along the score lines, and smells like dark molasses. The lily petals plump up as soon as water hits them. Another thing that happens as soon as water hits these leaves is the smell of fresh buttered popcorn immediately permeates the air. It caught me entirely off guard and I back stepped away from my teapot. With trepidation I took it upstairs to drink it, hoping the popcorn note would fade away, as I can’t say I was in the mood for it. Fortunately it left, and by the time my cup was cool enough to put to my lips the scent coming off of the water was molasses again, and brown sugar.

It tastes of that. It tastes of other things, too. Before the deep sweet flavor settled in something else hit me, something I still can’t quite place. Summer. Automobile, my memory put to me bluntly, and elaborated no more. It might be hot leather, or spilled gasoline on still-warm evening asphalt, or the vinyl interior of my mother’s long-gone El Camino. It swam in and out of the sugar alongside a simple and almost out of place tea note. It felt like it and I were meandering through a field of fog.
This tea leaves a syrupy residue on your lips and the rim of your cup. After long enough in the mouth, it produces a cooling sensation not uncommon to tea, but it changes to an anesthetic prickle. There is a hint of smoke in that crackle.

Disorienting. Memories of summer nights spent sitting by the roadside, trips to the dentist for molar sealant, baking brownies and visits to movie theatres vied for dominance in my mind. Disorienting. Time felt lax.
At the same time, invigorating. While mentally dislodged, corporeally I was keen.

All in all, a strange tea with evocative effects, and likely all because I brewed it wrong. It sounds much more straightforwards served as it’s meant to be, and is reusable then too. Unfortunately, a second steep my way yielded a toast-and-molasses brew that lacked the fireworks of the first. This tea is thus on my list of things to retry when I get a gaiwan, but I think I will do it the ‘wrong’ way at least once more. There’s something about the wild, walloping strike against the senses Western steeping brings out of some aged teas I find myself helplessly addicted to.

Flavors: Ash, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Leather, Mint, Molasses, Pepper, Popcorn, Smoke, Tea

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 7 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Profile

Bio

Getting back into tea after a hiatus of a few years, thanks to some friends. Aside from tea, I enjoy zoology, fish and orchid keeping, writing and the odd bit of art.

My ranking criteria:
100: Floors me. Something I can drink over and over again without it ever becoming routine. Things I’d buy again without hesitation after running out.
90-95: Impressive, very solid. Something I’ll drink more than once, although I might not always drink it while paying attention. Things well worth buying again when the mood strikes me but not things I always pine for when out of them.
80-85: Good, enjoyable to drink casually but still interesting enough to have a meditative session with. I don’t really care to utilize anything I like less as a daily drinker. I’ll rebuy these if I find myself missing them but don’t always miss them.
70-75: Nothing wrong with them, but they don’t really hold my attention long. I don’t rebuy these when I run out of them, though I might look for a ‘better’ version if I felt they had merit that could be brought more to the fore. I usually reserve them for times when I want my tea but will be too distracted to notice anything fine.
60-65: Okay. Not repulsive or extremely disappointing, but nothing special. Things I’ll drink if I don’t have to pay for them. They don’t inspire my feelings towards either pole.
50-55: Has some flaws, usually limited to disagreeable dry smell or lack of complexity. Still drinkable, but does not clear the bar. Did not upset me.
40-45: Committed the unforgivable sin of grabbing my interest and then letting me down. Bland, one or two note teas. Not bad tasting so much as boring. I’m much more likely to score an unimpressive tea here than an unmemorable tisane, which usually land a category higher due to my lack of emotional investment in them.
30-35: Bad notes on the tongue that can’t be overlooked, or a funky order that throws everything off. At some point I consider putting it down the drain, especially if they’re tisanes.
20-25: Probably would score a notch or two higher if they succeeded in avoiding my scorn, but for whatever reason, they’ve bothered me. Not expressly terrible but drew my ire.
10-15: Major flaws. Gross.
1: Wretched, miserable sinful waste of vegetation. Major flaws and it made me angry.

Location

Massachusetts, USA

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