55 Tasting Notes

I was not expecting this tea (from the Dark Matter group buy) to be so light in color when steeped. I thought about letting it steep longer (a minute isn’t very long, after all) since it’s a lightish amber-yellow but then I tasted it and realized it had plenty of flavor already.

On my second sip, it started to remind me of Laoshan black tea, which I think is because of the cocoa notes. I can detect a somewhat oolong-ish fragrance as well, but I don’t think I would have identified it as that if the website hadn’t mentioned it. It’s not bitter, and has just a bit of astringency. It’s a different flavor combination than any I’ve tried before, I think. It’s quite interesting and good, though I haven’t made up my mind as to whether it’s a favorite or not yet.

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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As expected, this tea from Soleil is quite delish. I tried a flavored genmaicha a couple of months ago and suspected that genmaicha might be one of the few types of green tea that I actually quite like, and if this is what genmaichas are like then I was absolutely right.

I did my best to steep it as recommended but as usual I had to estimate the water temperature because I don’t have a variable temp kettle. It steeps up to a nice bright yellowish-green liquid that’s still fairly clear and has a silky consistency that seems a bit thicker than other green teas I’ve tried.

The flavor is wonderfully well-blended, although the toasted rice flavor does overshadow the tea flavor so if you prefer to be able to taste the tea in your tea I suppose you might not like it as much. It’s a lovely toasty flavor, though, and once you get past the association with those puffed rice cakes you had to eat when you were a kid because your mom thought that some of your brothers were gluten intolerant so nobody was allowed to eat normal food like bread anymore (or was that just me?), it’s very enjoyable. It’s smooth, not bitter and hardly astringent at all, and I find myself enjoying the savory aspect of the flavor a great deal even though normally too much savory in a green tea will make me want to gag.

All in all a great tea, and so far it’s one of my favorite greens ever (top five, maybe. Yeah, I haven’t found a lot of greens that I like yet).

3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I’ve always liked rice cakes, myself. I like tea made from toasted rice, but I don’t drink actual genmaicha since I’m not a big fan of green tea.

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I got this tea as a free sample with my Soleil order and all I can say is AAAHHH! Okay, just kidding, I’m a little more eloquent than that.

This tea has lovely leaves with distinctly gold tips and steeps up to a rich, deep reddish-gold color that I would call auburn except that would sound weird because we’re talking about tea, not hair.

When tasted, it has a teeny bit more astringency than I prefer, but that just adds to the complexity of the flavor. Each sip offers a succession of pleasant notes in different areas of the mouth. For example, I tasted a squash/sweet potato-type flavor (as advertised) around the middle of the mouth, and I detected the chocolate notes nearer the end of the sip at the back of the mouth. The smoke flavor is hardly there at all; this tea doesn’t taste “smoked” as such at all. Which is exactly what I was hoping for. The last Lapsang Souchong I tried was basically liquid smoke, which I’ve never had the inclination to chug.

And another thing I loved was that the flavors I found actually in the tea matched up with the product description, which doesn’t always happen (whether because the descriptions are too fanciful or because I’m just not good at tasting tea flavors). The tea is a wonderful consistency, too.

So anyway, this tea is excellent and I’m positive I’ll be buying it again ( sometime when I can afford more tea, lol).

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I got some Lapsang Souchong a couple of months ago and tried it once and couldn’t finish my cup. I assumed it was because I just didn’t like smoke flavored teas, but this tea has proven me wrong.

I don’t have any fancy gaiwans or anything so I just steeped this tea Western for like a minute with nearly-boiling water and it’s really nice. I think maybe a slightly shorter steep at first would have been helpful for tasting the underlying notes, but oh well, live and learn. So the main flavors that I’m catching are the “roasted” smoke flavor and the “post-fermented” hei cha flavor. There’s also a bit of sweetness in the back of the mouth, which is interesting, and it has a very friendly aftertaste. We’ll see how future steeps go, but for now I’m all in favor of this tea!

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Okay this is actually kind of amusing. I tried this tea from my group-buy stash today and I was like “Well, the orange flavor is fun but what the heck is THAT?” so I went and read other people’s reviews and discovered that the weird flavor is called “fishy” and now I’m back to tasting the tea and going “yeah, I can see why you would call it that.” I guess now I know what a “fishy” flavor in tea tastes like, which may be useful for warning people away if I ever come across it again. Really disappointed though because fish and orange aren’t the best flavor combination lol. Although, what with the number of recipes that call for lemon on fish, you’d think they’d have a good chance of tasting okay together (oranges are basically like sweeter lemons right?) but no. I’d really hate to just throw this tea out though, now that I’ve steeped it, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do.


let it rest. come back to it in 6 months


I second aging it.

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Funny, I thought I’d already reviewed this tea but apparently I didn’t. Well, Laoshan Black is one of my overall favorites so far. I got it in a sampler set from Verdant and then placed another order just so I could get more of it. It’s complex, smooth, and pleasantly flavored. As you can see from all the flavor notes suggested by other people, it certainly has a lot of different layers. One of my favorite things about it, though, is that it actually does taste like chocolate (among, as I said, many other things). It always makes me sad when a description says chocolate and then I can’t find any chocolate notes in the tea itself. Anyway, in addition to chocolate, today I’m getting some malty notes and maybe some roasted chicory flavor . . . et cetera.

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This is the second tea I’ve tried from the dark matter group buy!

I’m sad that this tea has an under-eighties average, because I think it deserves better than that. Hopefully the average will rise as it gets more reviews. I like it. It has a light, refined, sweetish flavor and is still distinctly post-fermented. I have no idea if I steeped it correctly or not, of course. I just used almost-boiling water, watched the leaves unfurl for a minute or two, then decided it was time to drink it, lol.


I had this tea 4-5 years ago. I can see how it would rated lower, when I had it had lots of potential but it was still a rougher steep. If you have enough of this tea. Put some away so you can try it a year from now and even in two years. it will continue to get smoother and sometimes thicker. :D

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Thanks for sharing, TheLastDodo!!
I think this is the first sheng I’ve actually liked (at least I think it’s a sheng, although it doesn’t seem to actually say in the info. It certainly doesn’t taste or behave like a shu). I tried a couple from the TTB but my opinion on those was mostly that they were interesting but didn’t strike me as all that pleasant to drink, lol. This one not only has beautiful leaves and a lovely golden amber color when steeped but also a flavor that seems friendly rather than aggressive and includes some pleasant notes. I’m going to try experimenting with different steeping lengths as suggested on the company website. :)

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I haven’t had much experience with Davidstea (I think I tried one or two teas by them from the traveling teabox, but I’ve never ordered from them) so hopefully I’m not too biased, lol.

This is a pretty good breakfast tea. It’s not my favorite, though. It reminds me of Lipton for some reason. Next time I’ll try slightly different brewing specs to see if I can avoid that. (I don’t think I steeped it too hot, but I don’t have a variable temperature kettle and my thermometer’s not that reliable so you never know really.) Thanks to TheLastDodo for sharing! :)

White Antlers

If you strat trying the “builder’s teas” aka the malty breakfast teas like Irish and English breakfast breakfast, you will notice a relationship to Lipton. They all mostly have the same lineage.


Interesting! Why are they called builder’s teas?

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After majoring in Music Education at college, I suddenly became an internet marketing writer. Then I discovered loose leaf tea!! Now I write tea reviews in my spare time for the Sororitea Sisters blog. :)


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