1018 Tasting Notes

95

I’ve been steeping the same bunch of leaves for over a day now, and they are still bursting with flavour at the 2 min steep mark. I’m in the good tea place.

So glad I reordered more; I was starting to forget how obsessed I was/am with it. It’s also neat to note a slight difference in harvests. My new packet is from this year’s harvest, and, for the moment, it’s coming across as less buttery but more potent (fresh?) and creamy. This may also be accounted for in an adjustment of steeping parameters though (steeping it at 85C instead of 90C).

Steep Count: +8

(2017 spring harvest)

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Rice

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Evol Ving Ness

8 steeps! wow! and gah!

Good to know that one must have both the time and the enthusiasm for this number of rounds of this lovely tea.

CrowKettle

I promise a lot of those steeps came from sheer laziness; I didn’t feel like dumping and cleaning my strainer, and it still tasted consistent. It also helps that I was steeping it by the cup, not the pot, so each steep was but a chug away- I’m on informal, intimate terms with this tea at this point…

It was still going strong this morning but I finally decided to move onto a different oolong. I probably could’ve gotten to +12 if I was more committed. XD

Evol Ving Ness

hahha, that sounds plenty committed to me. I go by the cup too. By the travel mug often because I may be even lazier than you, so I boil the variable kettle once and manage to do three steeps and fill three thermal containers to keep me going for a while and warm up my drinking cup as needed.

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80

A year ago on this day I was in Agra experiencing amazing things (Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, omg food, ALL the birds) and the less than amazing things (the fallout from the great rupee note recall, peaked emotions in our group after the American election, that scary alpha male langur who was a living embodiment of Two-Face).

I probably wouldn’t have made a note of that if it weren’t for this rose tea evoking all the rose lassis, desserts and syrups I managed to consume on that trip (I also drank it alongside butter chicken, but that’s irrelevant, I swear). Me and rose-flavoured things have a deep, unshakable bond that often drag me down memory lane, to all the other “roses” I’ve ever met in my life. A lot of those “roses” are no longer here – our dormant yellow rose bushes, my Grandmother’s old bedroom (doesn’t everyone’s Grandmother have something rosy scented?), Butiki’s Champagne & Rose Cream, etc.

Rose is a special scent and flavour. Some people abhor it, or find it overwhelming, but I’ve always embraced it. It’s also one of the very few floral notes I can pick out in a lineup, and I’m very proud of that fact (yay for distinctiveness and familiarity).

What I’m trying to say is that this tea and I have history, even though we have never met. We also have a long future ahead, although the tea doesn’t know it yet. Thank you, Daylon R Thomas, for pointing this one out to me and “reconnecting” us.

Um… a more short and serious tea-centric note, with a rating, will come in the future.

Also, here’s one of the fantastic birds of Agra.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BSSGNjbBLaR/?taken-by=jeskihil

Steep Count: 4

(2017 summer harvest)

Flavors: Cream, Rose

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

Once upon a time I drank a green-ish Darjeeling. The first cup was very sour, near unpalatable to me, reminiscent of my first time trying wine (didn’t like it). Second cup mellowed out into a floral-sweet muscatel brew, which dazzled my tongue with its complexities and “can’t exactly put my finger on what it reminds me of” notes.

Drinking the first cup of this reminds me of that epiphany of a second cup of Darjeeling. I haven’t had a good Darjeeling like that in a few years though, so I don’t know why I’m talking about that. This is just such a different tea. It makes me realize I haven’t gotten out of my tea comfort zone in a while. I wish I had more to play with and temper myself to!

Notes that remind me of my experiences with white tea: hay, sweet grass, honey, melon.

Notes that throw me off: plum (sweet and a little tart), a smooth, alcoholic-grain note like sake (anyone ever get the chance to try those limited-edition sake Kit Kats? It’s a little like that), lychee, and an undistinguished dusting of brown spice that tickles my throat (nutmeg? cinnamon?).

Steep Count: 4

(2016 spring harvest)

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cinnamon, Floral, Hay, Honey, Lychee, Melon, Plums, Sake, Sweet, Warm Grass

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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75
drank Si Ji Chun by Camellia Sinensis
1018 tasting notes

I’m bumping the rating up on this one after I adjusted the parameters and got more than uncooked and unsweetened flower-nutmeg dough, with strong caramel scent.

This time around I actually get a little more of that “hard caramel candy” sweetness,spread through more cups. That sweetness adds more depth to the honeysuckle and jasmine milk-dough notes, and is lightly dusted in nutmeg and almonds slivers. It’s an odd mixture of flavours but it’s interesting enough to keep me steeping!

Steep Count: 4

(2016 winter harvest)

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Caramel, Floral, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Milk, Nutmeg

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80
drank Pineapple Peach by 52teas
1018 tasting notes

I second Sil’s assessment that this is reminiscent of Butiki’s Flowery Pineapple Oolong. The pineapple flavouring is so ripe and juicy-sweet. I suspect that the Zomba Steamed Green Tea base and the peach flavouring attribute to the well-rounded quality of the pineapple flavour. The cup leaves lingering notes that vividly evoke the stringy and citrusy sensations of biting into a good piece of pineapple. I don’t really taste the peach, except as olfactory and aftertaste factors, but it’s a lovely addition.

This was a delicious warm-weather tea and it will be missed (along with the aforementioned weather)!

Flavors: Citrus, Peach, Pineapple, Pleasantly Sour

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Sil

mmmm i forgot about this one…

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drank Strawberry Mint by The Teaguy
1018 tasting notes

This is a lovely tea sample The Teaguy sent me ages ago, and I’ve come rely on it every time I feel a little under the weather. Strawberry, spearmint, and nettle makes a fine balance of tasty, clean and “medicinal” (placebo effects galore!).

My family members have also taken to drinking it when they feel blah. It’s that catching.

Unfortunately, the trend of me being drawn to this herbal tisane while ill has also discouraged the writing of tea notes. I will try better in the future, tea friends.

Thanks again, Teaguy, for sending me this winner!

Flavors: Medicinal, Spearmint, Strawberry

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72

Reblend

While the Christmas theme, coupled with the IKEA association (lignonberries), makes me view this tea more favourably, I’d enjoy it more if it had a more exciting green base. The wintery fruit flavours are tasty, and like something that aforementioned company would be proud to sell.

…But Chinese sencha is the bane of my flavoured green tea-filled existence, and my feelings are torn (when my “non-tea” friends claim they hate green tea I swear they are getting some of their biases from an oversteeped batch of generic straight Chinese Sencha).

Edit: To clarify, the recommended steeping parameters fit this tea perfectly and there is no bitterness- just lots of veggies. The parenthesis is more a reflection towards my experiences with Chinese Sencha in general, which have made me a tad jaded and not just a little bitter in person.

Flavors: Berries, Pear, Vegetal

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec
52Teas

For my earliest tea drinking days when I would look unfavorably toward green teas, the ones that would come to mind were young hyson and dragon well, believe it or not. I had very bad experiences with both of these teas and I have since come to the conclusion that it wasn’t so much the tea type as it was the person brewing the tea. (In other words: me.) Back then I was very ill-educated about how to properly brew a green tea – I didn’t understand that water temperature was so important and I also didn’t understand that you should be mindful of tea brewing time. I never used to set a timer back then – I was always just like, yeah, it seems like it’s been 2 minutes or 3 minutes or whatever. I have learned from the error of my ways and have come to appreciate both the aforementioned teas.

The main reason I chose the Chinese Sencha here is because it’s a reblend and I wanted to kind of stick to the recipe. The reason I use it in other blends is that it really depends upon what I’m blending – Chinese Sencha does have a nice buttery note to it that works well in flavors where I want some creaminess. I personally like Chinese Sencha – but your criticism of it is definitely noted. :)

CrowKettle

I think you’re spot on with that assessment on why many people struggle with green tea. Before I had a temperature variant kettle, steeping the more temperamental green tea varieties sometimes resulted in a few putrid cups- all my fault. Coincidentally, Dragon Well and Young Hyson were the teas that made me start to appreciate straight green tea. However, I probably would never have gotten that far if it weren’t for flavoured Chinese Sencha teas like this one.

I appreciate your explanation for choosing Chinese Sencha. I’m sorry if my criticism came off as harsh, or seemed like an attack on 52Teas and your suggested steeping parameters. I have a lot of respect for your blends, and my general apathy towards Chinese Sencha is personal and originates from overexposure to it. 52Teas is probably the only company I’d consider taking a chance with this tea base.

Now that I think of it, your Lime Jello Salad also has Chinese Sencha and it’s one of my favourite flavoured green teas. Maybe I prefer this base iced/cold steeped, and probably should’ve tried that method with this one. As for this particular tea, if you ever reblend it with a different base I’d probably be the first in line to buy some; I enjoyed the flavouring quite a bit. :)

52Teas

No – I didn’t take it as harsh criticism – but I did want to offer an explanation as to why I do select Chinese Sencha when I do. Chinese Sencha is kinda like Ceylon in that it’s the ‘go to’ tea when someone is crafting a flavored tea. I have been trying to put more thought into the blends rather than reach immediately for the Sencha (or any other tea automatically) and try to think of what tea would best suit the flavor I’m trying to accomplish.

I appreciate your input so I thank you! I didn’t feel like I was being attacked at all, I just wanted to clarify. The Lime Jello is crafted with a Chinese Sencha (or was) – perhaps I might toy around with it the next time I reblend it – although Lime Jello is one of my all time favorites as well so maybe it’s better NOT to mess with it.

CrowKettle

Your willingness to experiment with blends and tea bases is what I love about the new 52Teas. It makes me much more eager to try all of your different offerings; even if I didn’t like a particular flavour profile or tea base on a previous occasion, there’s a good chance I may like it in a new reiteration. I’m actually sitting here sipping away at another one of your green blends (Pineapple Peach), which uses an interesting tea from the Satemwa Estate. It’s a lovely contrast in versatility with this Pear tea.

Lime Jello Salad is a prime example of me loving something made up of components I typically dislike. I would love to try a bunch of experimental variations of Lime Jello (that would be fun), but that’s because I’m already a big fan of the original with Chinese Sencha.

Thank you for commenting and providing such thoughtful explanations. I know a lot goes into the creation of each blend and trust your judgment. The stars may need to be aligned precisely so for me to personally love a blend with Chinese Sencha, but I appreciate that it has its own niche in the tea world and respect when you choose to use it. The same goes for Ceylon, CTC, Honeybush and Hojicha- I generally shy away from these but you and a few other tea blenders have done some wonderful and adventurous things with all of them.

Evol Ving Ness

Hear, hear! Totally agree.

52Teas, I appreciate so much you taking the time to unwrap your approaches and rationale with creations. I may not always have something to say in response, but I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and expertise. It gives me something to sit with, experiment with, and mull over, and ultimately, appreciate teas even more. So, thank you.

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78

I’m lost when it comes to steeping green oolong. There are so many different methods and parameters (western, traditional, and hybrid) spread across companies for similar to exact same types of oolong, that I don’t know where to begin. I’ve steeped this type of oolong at near boiling for 1min with pretty awesome results, and I’ve also done the same temp and amount for 20s for an equally fine cup. Most commonly, I see a 3min steep at about 90C, which is a coin’s toss for how it works out for me.

Life is hard.

Anyways, Camellia Sinensis recommends a rinse, and then a 4-5min steep at 95C. That never worked for me; I found it made the cup overly vegetal, on the verge of being sour.

For my very last serving I decided to follow a 20s steep time, with a touch and go, 1min range increase after the third steep, and this solved the aforementioned problems I had with this tea. I found that the liquidized floral-sweet qualities and the milk-nut notes of the cup were given more room to breath and take on a silky texture. The marine note I noticed the first few times all but disappeared.

Too bad I hadn’t steeped it like that from the beginning! It makes that that $12/50g tempting, indeed.

Steep Count: 4

(2016 Harvest)

Flavors: Dandelion, Flowers, Honey, Honeysuckle, Milk, Nuts

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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89

This was the second lovely sample I received from Mandala. I was a little sulky when, a couple days after I placed my order, they added this as a tea (that description)! I would’ve ordered it instead of the random puerh I ended up going with (edit: looking for Special Dark replacements- Noble Mark is still around and Noble Dark doesn’t exist… yet).

First and second steeps exceed expectations, with a creamy and silky profile and a touch of high grade dark chocolate (traces of earth, nuts, berries). Mandala description says later steepings have notes of brown sugar but I get hints of that now. The aftertaste reminds me slightly of dark chocolate covered acai/blueberry jellies. These flavours mellow out as it cools, becoming simply milky with an earthy dark chocolate finish.

Third steep was equally perfect.

Fourth steep was ditto (this was from last night so I may have been half asleep and missed the development).

Steep Count: 4 + a rinse

Flavors: Berries, Brown Sugar, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Milk

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Sil

is noble dark gone too?!

Sil

er well noble mark…since i’m guessing you meant special dark + noble mark?

CrowKettle

Oh, dear, no! Noble Mark is still around; I even bought some with this order. Sorry for the heart attack >.>

CrowKettle

Tea typo of the month

Sil

haha way to give me a heart attack thinking i had to horde noble mark too!

mrmopar

Been aiming to brew this one up too. Still airing a bit.

CrowKettle

This tea layperson looks forward to your insight and observations on this one, mrmopar! I love and respect your thoughtful tea notes.

Sil, I’m so envious of your Special Dark horde- I always have the worst luck when I try to stock up. Also, how do you only have 39 teas? Is that for real? (+200 teas is permanently burned into my mental image of a Sil cupboard)

Sil

Yeah. Down to 39….and 2/3 of that is Pu’er. By weight like 3/4 is Pu’er lol

CrowKettle

pu’er layperson: it’s probably my least explored tea type.

That’s impressive (both in cupboard size and pu’er ratios)! If you’re going to horde, why not it be something that takes aging well? I always make the mistake of trying to horde green tea and the results are sad.

Sil

here’s hoping i don’t eff up the tea while they languish in my cupboard.. heh

CrowKettle

I’m sure it will be alright! I have a tea cake (Wild Monk Sheng 2012) that’s been sitting in my cupboard for +6 years, unopened, and I worry when I remember about it too :/

Sil

i have 2 of those and a 2014 version haha. At this point it’s a sunk cost so if i screwed it up…well that’s a learning experience

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70

Four Season oolongs and ginseng will never be my favourite things, but this is still a nice tea to pull out when I want something green, clean, and vegetal. I’m placing it into the “when I’m sick” category.

If there is anything interesting going on with the base oolong I’m not picking it up. The ginseng is the Boss here.

Steep Count: 4

Flavors: Apple, Cucumber, Earth, Fruity, Menthol, Mineral, Vegetal

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Profile

Bio

I started my Steepster loose leaf adventure back in 2012. I can’t say I’m completely new anymore, but I still view oolong as a magical, extraterrestrial creature that unfurls in water.

Favourite Flavours/Ingredients:

-Vanilla, Maple, Caramel, Cream, Toffee, Nougat, Marzipan
-All Citrus: Lime, Grapefruit, Lemon, Bergamot, Orange, Yuzu
-Anise, but not licorice
-Ginger or Clove-forward chai
-Rosemary
-Grass/Marine/Vegetal/Nutty Green teas
-Florals: Rose, Lavender, Jasmine…
-Musky and/or Woody Incense-like stuff: Sandalwood, Frankincense, Eucalyptus
-Berries: Blackberry, Raspberry, Currants, Blueberry, Elderberry
-Bananas, and most fruits actually.

Less Preferred Flavours/Ingredients:

-Stevia and most sweetners
-Cinnamon-forward chai/blends
-Apple & Cranberries
-Mango pieces (love mango outside of tea though)
-Coconut pieces (as a sub/filler ingredient)
-Metallic or overly artificial teas
-Cocoa Nibs, 95% of the time.

Subjective Rating System 3.0:

90-100: My absolute favourite tea. I’ll impulsively buy in large quantities and hoard like a dragon.

85-89: A favourite tea. I’ll try to keep this one around when it’s practical.

76-84: A good tea, but not one I’m likely to order again.

70-75: Alright, but I may have a few problems with quality, consistency, ingredient chemistry and/or personal preferences.

50-69: Average to mediocre cup.

11-49: Varying levels of undrinkable tea. I don’t give a lot of these ratings out, since I tend to grab tea I know will appeal to me.

1-10: Nightmare tea from the chaos realms. This tea is the embodiment of the primordial swamp, the unholy abomination that is a chimera. It’s very gross and I’m almost positive it doesn’t exist.

Location

BC, Canada

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