Camellia Sinensis

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drank Bai Hao by Camellia Sinensis
12187 tasting notes

This was the first of three teas that was served by Marika when I was over at her place for supper this past week. I actually thought, with my first few sips, that this might be a Phoenix Oolong because it had some of those almost lychee like fruit notes alongside a distinct mineral taste and gentle roastiness, but notes of honey, cocoa butter and muscatel grapes settled in as well and something about that made it more distinctly like a Bai Hao/Oriental Beauty to me. It was very smooth and just a good tea to get conversation going and appetites up while waiting for supper.

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drank Shan Lin Xi by Camellia Sinensis
1160 tasting notes

2021 sipdown no. 110

This one has a fairly strong vegetal mixed with the sea scent when dry. Thank goodness it wears away a bit as it steeps.

I drank this while writing this paper and barely noticed the flavours, ahh! It was tasty, but I can safely say that my reigning unroasted oolong favourites are still Ali Shan and Si Ji Chun.

1st steep: 200° F, 4 minutes
2nd steep: 200° F, 5 minutes, 30 seconds

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML
Sil

did you see the TTC sale? but also shipping changes sigh

Courtney

I sawww! I immediately deleted to email to not be tempted (but haven’t stopped thinking about it) XD. Did you place an order?

Sil

Thinking about it…need to find 5 mins to look at a few other teas since shipping is sort of flat rate,

Courtney

I went to check it out too, but eeek that shipping. I don’t think I can swing it right now, but can’t wait to hear if you order something!

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2021 sipdown no. 108

I have to say I prefer the second steep to the first for this tea. I’m drinking this as I attempt to write a paper I took a day off for, but yet have been forced to repeatedly answer time-sensitive work emails. I’m a little frazzled today, so not paying enough attention to my tea.

However, from the first steep I remember more of a strong vegetal flavour, which isn’t my favourite. The second steep is more mellowed, with some sweetness coming out and perhaps the subtlest hints of hay? There’s some vegetal-ness, but it’s fallen to the background now.

I’m not sure I need to re-order this because there are other unroasted oolongs I enjoy from CS.

1st steep: 200° F, 4 minutes
2nd steep: 200° F, 5 minutes 30 seconds

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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My newest CS order arrived last Friday! Most of the teas I ordered were either refills or ones I enjoyed from samples I had with my last order.

This tea was one new sample I ordered to try! Green oolongs have really appealed to me of late, so I thought I’d give this one a try. My palate is not refined at all for these teas, but alas. There is a distinct vegetal flavour, with a creaminess layer over.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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95
drank Wintergreen by Camellia Sinensis
1136 tasting notes

Lovely, very gently sweet wintergreen. There’s a berry undertone to the aroma. The cup offers an embrace at once warming and cooling. Some may consider the taste medicinal because of an association with Pepto Bismol or Icy Hot. It’s nostalgic for me in the way that Teaberry gum is, or pink Necco wafers and Conversation Hearts.

gmathis

I’ve had tea with wintergreen, but never straight up. This sounds lovely!

derk

I’ll have to send a little your way.

For what it’s worth, two of my coworkers really enjoyed it yesterday, enough to request another round today.

eastkyteaguy

I love Teaberry gum!

gmathis

Gotta make a mental note—so does my son. There’s a kitschy retro five-and-dime store in the Branson MO tourist zone where I can get some packs for his Christmas stocking!

derk

Gotta make a stop at the candy shop downtown for Teaberry gum but I’m lazy. Could you tell my mom to mail me a stocking with some?

temerarious-tea

How many grams per mL did you steep it/any brewing instructions? I just ordered it as well and am very excited as peppermint is my all time favorite herbal tisane. But want to be smart with this Wintergreen since it is a little pricey at $10 for 20g.

derk

Hi there, temerarious-tea, and welcome. I have lately gotten out of the habit of weighing leaf. The package calls for 2tsp, 250mL, 90C for 5-7 minutes. Myself, I have taken a few bunches or leaves and spare leaves, crumbled them a bit and poured 8oz of maybe 195F water for howeverlong, covered. Boiling water seems to mutes the pungency of the methyl salycilate which is the strong taste I’m after, hence the lower temperature water.

Between preparing this for others and for myself, I’ve served maybe 8 cups and have also sent out a few servings to tea friends. Looking in the bag now, I might have 4 servings left.

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This was the last tea of the evening served by Marika when we were over for supper. I have to admit, it was a little weird to taste this tea steeped Western style in a large teapot instead of Gongfu and I didn’t like it quite as much prepared that way. However, it was still quite good with distinct notes of vanilla and tobacco. A fitting tea to end the evening on!

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Geek Steep S2E2 – Usagi Yojimbo

Look, I’m not gonna tell you why I picked this tea for the episode – you should listen to it and hear in the podcast why I chose it because, I promise, it was for a good reason! Instead I’ll leave you with the tasting notes that I wrote on instagram the afternoon I steeped it up and read through the first volume of the comic we covered this week!

After Marika raved about this tea in our “Top Teas of 2020” episode of Geek Steep I simply had to try it! With the exception of Lapsang – we don’t always have the same tastes, especially when it comes to #blacktea, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I stacked steeps of this while reading and it honestly BLEW MY MIND!! This was honestly the best Japanese black tea I’ve ever had, easily – such interesting and engaging flavours of vanilla, burnt sugar, oak, blackstrap molasses, and smoke! I loved how complex and well balanced it was, and I see why Marika has been returning to it for years!

Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CLjmJCvAGXK/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15aciktA-ho&ab_channel=Lim%C3%B3nLim%C3%B3n

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Sipdown (1524)!

Truthfully this was a lot better steeped Gongfu. The Western style cup I made with the last odds and ends of the tea leaf was fine, but not memorable in any significant way aside from just being very full bodied. All in all, I still drastically prefer the Nadeshiko anyway.

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Gongfu!

The new Geek Steep episode this week is very Japan centric and features Nadeshiko from Camellia Sinensis so I felt inspired this afternoon to pull out the other Japanese black tea I own from CS – their Yakushima!! It’s very round and full bodied with a low tannin/astringency liquor that has notes of rich syrupy red fruit, malted barley, slightly charred freshly baked bread, dark honey, and an overall woodiness and delicate minerality! The Nadeshiko is definitely a bit more up my alley, but this is very pleasant and perfectly complimentary to an indulgent afternoon red bean mooncake!!

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUdWYQ_g7EO/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3Rv75pFQDc&ab_channel=Flo%26Behold

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Grandpa Style!

This was a free sample included in a past tea order. I brewed it up in a new mug that I am just a little bit obsessed with – it looks like a crazy swamp monster/fish… thing. The tea is equally solid too!! It has a lovely deep roast mixed with notes of tobacco, leather, bourbon, oak and an underlying stewed black cherry note that creeps up over the coarse of brewing! Lasted me the whole afternoon with this brewing method, and was just so tasty!

Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUIQ-ZYgxX8/

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84

Revisiting this one pretty quickly because I was excited by it and I wanted to see what it would be like iced. It’s fairly similar and super refreshing with those deep cooling eucalyptus notes. However, I feel like icing this resulted in a little more pithy bitterness from the lemon and the eucalyptus feelings a little more herby in taste too. Still very, very good but I prefer it hot I think…

Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CT24cQWLYtb/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpi35gB54oE&ab_channel=LakeStreetDive-Topic

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84

It’s not often that CS puts out new blends so this immediately caught my attention. It’s actually pretty great; strong sweet lemon and yuzu notes that are a little bit like a less zesty/tangy lemonade balanced by very cooling and crisp mint and a huge punch of eucalyptus in the finish. It’s so refreshing! I used to make DT’s Cold 911 as a lemonade and this reminds me a lot of that but with a much more natural lemon taste than using lemonade. I can see this being divine cold brewed for something ultra cooling or also really soothing on the throat steeped hot like this but with honey. Definitely very nice!

Tiffany :)

My tea ban for the last quarter of the year has now turned into “Well with shipping going to be crazy during the holidays I better place a few select orders with some companies before things get too crazy THEN I’ll be banned for 2021..” and the recent CS sale some bags of this went into my cart face palm

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2021 sipdown no. 98

This tea is good, but in relation to the other first flush I recently had from CS, I do prefer the other. That being said, this one has that lightly creamy, malty-esque type flavour, with hints of floral hay cut through. There is the most subtle bitterness that isn’t overly bothersome.

The second steep is just as lovely as the first.

I brewed this at 190° F as opposed to 200° F as the higher temperature seemed to induce some astringency.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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Last year, or was it early this year, I placed an order with Camellia Sinensis because I saw they offered some unique herbal teas that are wild-harvested from Québec. Labrador tea is in the genus Rhododendron — the leaf underside and stems are covered in a dense, rust-hued fur.

It smells so good in the bag, like an evergreen forest. It reminds me of my times in Canada, the Pacific Northwest and of the wintertime redwood forest here in northern California. Crisp, clean air. Breathe. This is the kind of fresh smell that makes me aware of my own being and the lightness of mind and body I am capable of achieving in nature. It elicits a sense of presence, away from the smells of humans and the industrial worlds we create.

In the description on this page, Camellia Sinensis says of this tea: “a lively and light liquor, supported by strong citrus and camphor aromas. Its vegetal character is reminiscent of lichen and cedar.”

Had I not read that, I would describe it as… let’s see… the same as the smell of the leaf but with some sweetness of strange origin, a thickness that reminds me of silver needle white teas, perhaps due to the fur. Cool evergreen forests. There’s also a bit of pungency — resinous, tar-like, reminding me of kerosene? more than sap. You know, it also reminds me a lot of Bitterleaf Tea’s Jingmai Crab Legs but without the hint of milkiness (https://steepster.com/teas/bitterleaf-teas/78526-2016-jing-mai-crab-legs) and of Juniper Ridge’s Douglas Fir Spring Tips with a thicker, more robust, sweet taste and less of a “green” flavor (https://steepster.com/teas/juniper-ridge/14722-douglas-fir-spring-tips).

It’s recommended by the internet-at-large to not steep these leaves and stems for more than 5-6 minutes due to a high concentration of tannins in the tea that can cause stomachache. I tried to follow the parameters on the bag with 2tsp (crumbled), 250mL, 90C for 4-5 minutes but time often gets away from me. With what was probably an 8-minute steep, I did experience some bloating and big gurgles about an hour later. With that, though, also came an intense sleepiness. I was out. Labrador tea is used as a treatment for insomnia which wasn’t the purpose of my drinking but dang did it work, and it has worked the few other times I’ve sipped.

Flavors: Camphor, Cedar, Citrus, Petrichor, Pine, Resin, Spring Water, Sweet, Tannin, Thick

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 min or more 2 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML
Mastress Alita

I’ll have to try this sometime and see how it holds up in comparison to valerian root for helping me sleep.

Martin Bednář

I still have that sample from you but haven’t found a situation for it. Maybe one day!

Natethesnake

I wonder how closely related this would be to the Holly or chrysanthemum family as I’m allergic to kuding Cha and snow chrysanthemum. Sound interesting and I’m an insomniac who loves the smell of bog vegetation in Newfoundland and Labrador.

derk

Mastress Alita – I can send you some if you want. Little goes a long way.

Martin – worth a try since you seem to long for Finland :)

Natethesnake – as far as relation, all three plants are in the same Class but differ in Order. Labrador tea is in the heath Family, which includes other bog plants like cranberries and blueberries. Since you’re allergic to holly, I assume yerba maté and yaupon aren’t in your cupboard?

Martin Bednář

Ah, I see your point :) Well, it will come one day and then it will be that time! It seems it will be soon as… I have been there 5 years ago? Wait… really? Well. Indeed. Sad :(

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100

Gongfu!

First session in a couple of days so I’m treating myself by getting very tea drunk over a session of this aged beauty! First flavours that hit my tongue are strong woody cinnamon/cassia notes and clove with this heavy backbone of camphor and potting soil! It’s spicy and earthy in all of the best ways, taking me back to nostalgic memories of hot summer mornings helping my grandma in her vegetable garden. With those cozy memories comes an inner warmth and feeling of almost floating within myself. It’s very peaceful, and one of those type of sessions that really reminds me why I love tea so much – there’s really no other drink out there that can make me feel so… seen!? I’ve definitely gotta get around to caking this beauty!!

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CRmvN8Bhafx/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egtoA6wpeKU

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77

A smooth gyokuro that is more bready than marine. It has a fruity sourness and a cooling pine-like aftertaste.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Drying, Fruity, Pine, Smooth, Sour, Sweet, Umami, Yeast

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2021 sipdown no. 96

Sample sipdown of this one. It started out not so great, but lowering the steeping temperature did wonders. I actually quite enjoyed this one in the end. I have little experience with Darjeelings, but I have enjoyed pretty near every first flush and this one is no exception. There is a slight hay-floral taste with hints of sweetness and just an overall pleasant taste.

1st steep: 4 minutes at 190° F
2nd steep: 5.5 minutes at 190° F

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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For my initial attempt of this tea at 200° C, 4 minutes, it came off as bitter. Last night I tried to steep this at 3 minutes and missed the timer by 1.5 minutes and this morning I tried again and missed the timer by a minute. I must just meant to steep this tea for 4 minutes. Anyway, I steeped at a lower temperature today and it seems to have mellowed out.

There’s a blend of floral sweetness that really works here. Hints of jasmine mixed with an almost fruit sweetness that I can’t pinpoint, but all in a mellowed out way.

Onto the second steep!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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drank Jin Shuan by Camellia Sinensis
1160 tasting notes

2021 sipdown no. 93

This was sent as a sample in my recent CS order! The flavour is quite nice, but a bit more vegetal than the other unroasted oolongs I ordered. It’s lovely nonetheless, and oolongs are always so lovely while trying to get big projects or papers done, I find. There’s a subtle sweetness and an ever more subtle bitterness in the background. This doesn’t detract though. There’s some creaminess, but it’s not the most predominant and then perhaps some very light floral (jasmine) flavours. An enjoyable cuppa overall!

A random story: I had a volunteer shift earlier this week and someone called in about a red-tailed hawk (incredible and majestic animals!) on the ground. I gave them directions on how to carefully approach and capture the hawk, if they were comfortable, and they were actually able to do it! They captured the hawk and brought it to the wildlife centre for care and it’s just so wonderful when things work out for the best!

Also, we got our second vaccine shots yesterday, yay!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML
Martin Bednář

Wonderful tea, wonderful story and wonderful news about vaccine!

ashmanra

Nice! To all of the above!

Leafhopper

That’s a great story! I also got my second dose yesterday and am not feeling great today. Still, I’m happy to be fully vaccinated!

Courtney

I hope you feel better soon Leafhopper! I’ve been very lucky to have only had a slightly sore arm both times, but my partner — not so much!

Leafhopper

Thanks! I hardly had any side effects after my first shot, and they kind of took me by surprise after this one. I’m glad you got off lightly. :)

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Probably made a bit of a mistake by having my first tasting of this tea be over a rather spicy hot pot with my roommate this past week – I could taste the sweetness of the red fruits and orange in the blend and some of the woodier and more mineral notes of the rooibos but everything was clouded by a rush of spicy heat that distracted from the tea.

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drank Si Ji Chun by Camellia Sinensis
1160 tasting notes

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drank Si Ji Chun by Camellia Sinensis
1160 tasting notes

I ordered a few samples of green (unroasted?) oolongs from CS and they are just delightful. While the roasted ones I always think I want, they almost always end up tasting mineral-y or cardboard-like. The green ones are creamy and smooth and I must just be in the perfect state for them because I just want more!

My course this term is really heavy and I’m trying to catch up on my ‘course journal’ today (a new concept that I’ve never been assessed with in previous courses) and this tea is beside me. I’m on my first steep and it has that distinct almost musty, but in a good way, oolong scent and that comes through slightly in the taste, but it’s just got a lovely creamy aspect that mellows out everything. There’s some floral flavours, maybe hints of jasmine, that are lovely as well.

Onto the second steep now!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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2021 sipdown no. 94

Sample sipdown! This one I really enjoyed and I would order a sample again, but I’m not sure if I need 50 grams. The upside here is that the second steep of this one still has a lot of flavour!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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My newest Camellia Sinensis order arrived yesterday! I think 2021 is the year of CS for me XD.

We’re having a heat wave here and its been hovering around 36° C with no wind and no temperature drop in the night. I know others are much worse off (I feel for you BC and PNW), but I’m so over living in the dark and having no tea in an attempt to try to keep the house cool (we’re failing miserably anyway — the house thermostat is reading between 30-31° daily). I normally love the heat and the summer, but without any water bodies to cool down, I’m just not loving this.

Today I broke and made one of my new teas. I waited for an hour for it to cool and it’s still pretty warm haha! It’s actually quite lovely! The strong scent worried me a bit in the bag, but it’s steeped up in a lovely way. This comes across as peachy and ginger, with a subtle hint of apple, though it’s hard to tease apart all the flavours, they all meld together a bit. I’m happy the peach comes through, though subtle, because I am loving peach teas that aren’t artificial.

Preparation
3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML

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