3141 Tasting Notes
I received the absolute most amazing tea package from TreeGal today. I teared up a bit at the generosity. She said she would send me a few teas and then BAM TEAS. There are so many kind people on Steepster. Steepster is one of the nice areas of the internet. :D I appreciate it so much so a HUGE THANK YOU to TreeGal. I can’t thank you enough!
I’m the hugest fan of Frank’s blend of Eggnog Yunnan. It’s probably one of my top 10 from 52Teas and there is some competition there. I was pleased as punch to see the reblend in the 2018 advent (among so many other awesome blends). Even though Anne is usually great at recreating Frank’s blends (or making them better), this one just isn’t the same for me. But the original would be very tough to beat. The main difference is the base tea. Of course, it would be different. It’s not going to be the same source and definitely not the same harvest. But Anne’s golden monkey is almost entirely black with a much bigger leaf. The biggest a tea leaf could get. Frank’s base was much tinier leafed and at least half golden in color which I thought was the perfect base for an eggnog tea. Anne’s base mostly reminds me of a dark roasted oolong tea, which sadly is probably my least favorite flavor profile. It doesn’t have a flavor that I even can tell is anything like a Golden Monkey. I’m not really a fan of the flavor profile that this base tea brings to an eggnog tea. The base tea tastes like cedar or something woody. But that is just my tastes. Maybe others prefer this Golden Monkey. I loved the amount of cinnamon and nutmeg that Frank used in his blend. It was hella nutmegy people. I realized Anne used freshly shaved nutmeg but I think the nutmeg Frank used really immersed into the cup. I can only taste hints of nutmeg or cinnamon here. I suppose the aftertaste that lingers definitely tastes like I was sipping eggnog. On the second steep, I’m really only tasting that roasty base. So Anne can’t win them all, and I had Frank’s blend on a very high pedestal to begin with. Luckily I still have some of Frank’s blend around. I don’t lower ratings on teas, but this blend would get a 72 from me. That darn base!
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
tldr: Anne’s base reminds me of a roasted oolong, which sadly will never be my favorite flavor. Sadly this means I loved Frank’s blend more.
Another one from Cameron B! Thanks so much! This one is intriguing as the base is nilgiri and darjeeling and it’s sakura which is cherry blossom. It’s tough for me to tell these bases are here from the flavor. But the base is delicious though. I know it doesn’t taste like a usual black tea that Lupicia would usually use. It’s interesting since the description says they use salted cherry leaves which is a new one. I think cherry is the most distinct note and it’s a floral sort of cherry flavor rather than a cough drop flavor. There should also be raspberry and strawberry here but I don’t notice those at all. The flavor is fantastic, especially as it cools – it’s fruity, sharp, thirst quenching, yet a little drying like a wine might be. But I like when teas are both drying and thirst quenching. The second steep was amazing, even though I accidentally steeped it way too long. I’d suggest trying it that way.. I’d definitely brew it either minutes on the second steep again. I’m very shocked but very happy the oversteep didn’t ruin this tea!
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoons for not quite full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // couple minutes after boiling // 8 minute steep
I never find Teavivre’s teas that are labeled ‘smoky’ that actually have the flavor of smoke, but this one DEFINITELY does, right from the pouch. I do like a good smoky tea but I feel the base tea also has to be extremely dark at the same time. The black tea here is fairly light, even though the leaves are quite small. The brew is honey colored but that smoky flavor sure is strong, yet sweet. This is the smokiest tea I’ve tried from Teavivre by far. I don’t mind a smoky tea once in a while, but I think Teavivre’s other teas are much more delicious.
Steep #1 // 1 1/4 teaspoons for a full mug // 20 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 5 minute steep
Thanks again Cameron B for the Lupicia samples! They have all been delicious so far. I used one teaspoon for this and a blueberry went into the infuser. The brew doesn’t result too light or dark — a nice medium strength black tea. I think there is a nice balance of blueberry and cassis flavors (I guess cassis is black currant?) and I’m surprised the flavors aren’t used more together with other tea shops. I’ve had plenty of gross black currant flavors in the past and this isn’t gross. There is also an earthy flavor. The flavor just bursts out of the mug even more when the cup is cold. So this one should be even better iced. It’s very tasty! I like it. The second steep is lighter on the flavor, but that is to be expected on a second steep. It reminds me of David’s Tea’s Blueberry Jam but I like that this doesn’t have splenda.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a not quite full mug // 16 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Thanks again Cameron B! I LOVE Lupicia’s matcha genmaicha blends. This one is no different, except for the black soybeans. I did see a soy bean in the infuser. However, I could not tell a difference in taste. It tasted like matcha genmaicha which is perfectly acceptable on its own. I love the combination: toasty yet fresh and definitely very sweet and so GREEN. Quite tasty. I love all that matcha that wafts from the infuser into the mug of bright green. I’d love to have tasted the black bean though, as this is such a unique idea I haven’t seen anywhere else. I give the matcha kirara rice tea from Lupicia a rating of 93 (which is VERY high for me for a green tea) and this tea is basically the same as that one, but since the soybeans aren’t adding much to the flavor for me here, I’m knocking down the rating a bit.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a full mug// 30 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 30 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Additional notes: So because I was asking about the differences between Paris and Tower of London these days (different tasting note), Harney sent me a sample of this one, as I was looking for a Harney tea that tasted like stone fruits. Turns out, I DID try this years ago, but I’m always happy to revisit a fresh tea, to possibly change my opinions. Now that I’m drinking this, I’m remembering it exactly the same. Even as the lightest of China black teas, which I guess will be a favor to the flavors? So I guess it’s good that this one hasn’t changed in five years for those who like it? Somehow this base tea is MUCH lighter than the one used in, for example, Tower of London. In my original tasting note, I said it’s a mix of fruit flavors that combine to create something that simply tastes like fruit to me. But now, I suppose (with five more years of tea experience and a fresh tea?) that I can see that I’m tasting cherry and hints of plum. I’m not entirely a fan of cherry flavored things… and when I think stone fruits I’m thinking more like peaches, apricots, plums anyway… which I guess this tea is supposed to be… but I think the cherry takes over too much. And I miss the older Tower of London, which I feel was more like what I wanted. So I’ll raise the rating on this from a 63. I don’t think it deserved to be that low, but this tea isn’t a Harney favorite for me.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a full mug // 16 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Additional notes on new ‘harvest’: I bought a tin of this during the holiday sale. It’s cheaper to get the tin than the sample somehow… and I thought I’d sell some extra anyway. I remember this tea very differently. I remember stone fruits. Sadly, after tasting this, and having it taste pretty similar to Paris, I had to ask Harney and they say the teas are pretty similar now. They switched to natural flavors three years ago so now the only difference: Paris =carame Tower of London = honey. Both have black currant. Tower of London was very solidly in my mind a stone fruit flavored tea and had nothing to do with black currants. I can only imagine the disappointment of someone who buys a tin of both at the same time, expecting different teas. I think the only difference in descriptions now is that Paris also has some oolong in the blend? But maybe that is the old description too. A teaspoon and a half doesn’t get too astringent, per say, but I don’t think using that much does any justice to the flavor than using one or 1 1/4. The brew gets fairly dark even after two minutes. The second steep has much less flavor, so I wish both steeps would be better balanced. The flavor specifically now just tastes like Paris, though that was always a tough flavor for me to describe anyway. It was just ‘PARIS’ and it was distinct and delicious. Also, I KNOW the Paris I tried a few years ago is not the same flavor as these two teas. From memory, the Paris from a few years ago was like bergamot, berry, pastry, maybe vanilla? It is tough for me to judge the new Tower of London against the new Paris, since I only have one teabag of it I’d like to save for cravings. (but if this blend is the same now, why not?) To be fair, one or the other is a flavor that I feel needs to be a cupboard essential, stocked at all times. But I liked when they were different flavors. I LOVED both Paris and Tower of London when I first tried them. I know it’s impossible for teas not to change over years, but it’s no fun when it’s a tea that is a favorite and the flavors are solidly in your memory. The rating would be lower now.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4-5 min
tl:dr – Tower of London is now pretty much the same as Paris, according to an e-mail from Harney.
Flavors: Black Currant
Thanks again for the Lupicia samples, Cameron B! This is another one that looks like it is partially CTC and a raisin was able to finagle its way into the infuser. I haven’t drank much rum, so I’m not sure how accurate the flavor is. It isn’t plain black tea though. There is a boozy type of flavor and lingers. However, the flavor quality it most seems like is a Ceylon type of flavor that I’m not a huge fan of. If this was a blind taste test I might just call it a ‘more flavorful Ceylon’. I’m not sure what the base is, as the website doesn’t say. I feel like anything that is flavored with alcohol I can never taste, bourbon especially. So this might just taste mostly like Ceylon to me, but the best cup of Ceylon. The second cup lost a bit of that flavor though.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for not quite full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
So I have been putting off entirely updating my Steepster cupboard, because honestly, I know it’s insane and people will think I’m being buried under tea. I promise, the tea is organized. I will slowly add them all over the next few days. SO don’t be alarmed, even if I know there is ONE serving left, it’s a variety of tea that is going on the Steepster cupboard until it’s a sipdown. Updating the cupboard is so when I’m even remotely thinking of acquiring more tea, I will just take a look at the number and slap myself upside the head. I’m not trying to win the Steepster crazy cupboard award. Of course I appreciate all these teas, but too much is too much. And I need to enjoy the awesome teas that I already have. I guess it’s also a problem when I feel like tea companies will go out of business without purchases. And there are only so many tea drinkers and SO many tea shops. So I feel like I should buy from them and support them once in a while… especially the small companies.
This is a random teabag from an ancient teabox. I love the name. (Oh, I’m NOT putting individual teabags in the Steepster cupboard at least.) This one might be too old to judge, but it wasn’t bad. I’m sure it’s much better fresh. Hints of lemon, lavender and mint and very savory.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 2-3 min