Camellia SinensisEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
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…
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!
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.
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
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!!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egtoA6wpeKU
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
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
I’m officially on “summer vacation” from now until July 5th so I’m looking forward to catching up on tasting notes, drinking lots of tea outside, and binge watching some new shows. Of course there will be lots of cold brews too – including this bad boy, which is kick starting the vacation! This tea is just super refreshing to sip on during this extremely sunny day w/ plenty of crisp notes of freshly mowed grass, fragrant light florals, sweet vegetal garden peas, and a buttery coconut finish!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIMnyx8dCoM
2021 sipdown no. 99
Polished this one off yesterday and it’s lovely. I was busy and didn’t write any real notes, but went through three steeps and recall enjoying each one.
1st steep: 190° F, 3 minutes
2nd steep: 190° F, 4.5 minutes
3rd steep: 190° F, 6 minutes
I’ll have to add this to my next CS order.
[winter 2020 harvest]
Sweet and floral with notes of sugar, cooked lemon skin. It’s a lovely tea that reminds me of lemon custard a bit. It has a distinctive character while being very much true to its category. I find the energy to be a bit too dizzying though.
Flavors: Custard, Floral, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Sugar, Sugarcane, Sweet
[Spring 2021 harvest]
Here’s quite a flavourful tea with great depth and lots of elusive notes. It has a bit higher oxidation than many FF Darjeelings and turned out to be my favourite of the three I got this year.
I can smell popcorn, grass flowers, and moss at first. The floral wet leaf aroma brings out hints of courgette flower, lime zest, honeysuckle, rice field, and apples.
I find the liquor to be medium bodied and creamy with a fleeting foamy touch. The taste is woody and warming. It has a astringent, floral bite to it, as well as flavours of pistachio, white grapes, egg shells and others. Aftertaste also brings more sweetness and umami to the table. There are hints of butter, pine and a stronger honey note that appears after a while.
Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Biting, Butter, Citrus Zest, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lime, Moss, Nuts, Pine, Popcorn, Rice, Sweet, Umami, White Grapes, Wood, Zucchini
This year I am trying to drink down a lot of my stash, but I still decided to get a few fresh teas, this being one of them. On the whole, it is a multi-faceted tea displaying a great deal of tension. It is warming and cooling at the same time, both sweet and savoury, smooth and astringent, fruity and vegetal, flowery and woody, etc. Such tea can get quite imbalanced which this one suffers from a bit, but not to a substantial extent.
The dry leaf aroma is nutty and floral. Once wet, I get multitude of scents, vegetal ones like spring onion and cabbage, fruit tree flowers, licorice mint, as well as hints of muscatel, cotton candy, gooseberry and incense.
Taste is floral and bitter with a caramel finish. There are notes of thistles, curry leaves, green beans, wood, eggs and others. Depending on the brewing parameters, the mouthfeel ranges from misty to creamy and there is a noticeable drying sensation in the throat. Aftertaste is quite pungent with a persistent vegetal bitterness akin to apple leaves. It marks probably the most imbalanced aspect of the whole experience.
Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Berry, Bitter, Caramel, Drying, Floral, Fruit Tree Flowers, Green Beans, Licorice, Mint, Muscatel, Nutty, Vegetables, Vegetal, Wood
Even though overall, this tea is true to its identity as a FF Darjeeling, its subtle notes at times give it a character of a green tea or jade oolong. This makes it fairly unique in some sense, without being truly weird or experimental.
The first sniff gives an impression of scones and green beans. Later, the aroma is more like a mix of eucalyptus and some flowers. The tea has a soft mouthfeel and warming presence, albeit the aftertaste gives off a cooling vibe that comes with its very flowery profile. The taste has a pleasant and decently strong nutty bitterness, some fruity notes of apricot and guava as well as savoury ones like black olives, butter and charred kale. In the aftertaste, a lasting milky sweetness appears too.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Burnt Food, Butter, Eucalyptus, Flowers, Green Beans, Guava, Kale, Nutty, Olives, Vegetal
[Autumn 2020 harvest]
Another great tea from Jun Chiyabari. It is very elegant, aromatic, and smooth with no astringency.
The aroma reminds me of apricot, cookies, cherry, wood, star anise, and honey. The taste is sweet, woody and also a bit more savoury than the typical Autumn black tea from Himalayas. There are flavours of brown sugar, cocoa, honeysuckle and apricot. I has just the right amount of bitterness to create a balanced profile. In the finish, some sour notes also come to the fore and make for an unusual aftertaste.
Flavors: Anise, Apricot, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Cocoa, Cookie, Honey, Honeysuckle, Smooth, Sweet, Wood
Bought this so I could compare to the 2003 7542 from mrmopar
This definitely tastes aged. I think Camellia Sinensis’s description is spot on. However, I do find the bitterness unbalanced. This 1998 is smoother, less drying and a little sweeter (almost whisky-like) than the 2003 but not as strong with the camphor. Maybe the type of storage and 5 years more of age have transformed the acidity I get in the 2003. This tastes more humidly stored and verges lightly alkaline. The body is nothing to note; I don’t recall noting it in the 2003. Qi is calming and warming, caffeine isn’t very high — I can fall asleep without issue if had in the evening. After 3 or 4 infusions, the qi urges me to take a break. Over the next several infusions, the power is gone and the tastes devolves into bitter, peaty swamp water.
Overall, it’s ok, the feelings elicited are nice and early infusion taste good but I feel like it’s missing the depth needed to make this a very good aged tea. For the price, I pass but it is worth trying.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter Melon, Campfire, Camphor, Drying, Earth, Peat, Petrichor, Resin, Smoke, Smooth, Spicy, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood, Whiskey, Yeast
[Spring 2021 harvest]
I was excited to try a sample of this tea, expecting something different, at least. When dry, it smells of nuts, meat and chard. On the other hand, wet leaves have a very distinctive cabbage aroma.
First infusion is quite savoury and nutty with a mild bitter bite and honey sweetness. The flavours have a a good depth and the mouthfeel is very velvety with no astringency. The protracted aftertaste starts off juicy, buttery and warming, eventually a bit of vegetal sweetness appears from the bitterness though.
Subsequent steeps are pungent, vegetal and floral (still like honey, but without the honey sweetness) with a hint of spiciness and some astringency appearing too.
I don’t know if I’ve ever had any tea that you could say is truly a “yellow tea”. It’s certain is that this one is unlike any other tea I’ve had. It’s a bit hard to describe in what way though. Most of the specific aspects can be found in other teas, but the manner in which they come together is certainly unique. Also, the strong cabbage aroma is quite memorable.
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Dry Grass, Floral, Honey, Meat, Nutty, Vegetables, Vegetal