968 Tasting Notes

70

Pulled this tea from the TeaFestPDX sampler baggy, as a nice, brisk Assam really sounds nice for this holiday morning where I was still dragged out of bed at the same time as a work day by a very insistant breakfast-seeking cat. I’m really feeling that need for caffeine…

While I normally don’t take tea with additions, lately I’ve been in a latte mood, and I really wanted to brew this as a pot, English style, with some milk and honey. But since this is a larger sample, I decided to just have a plain cuppa first. I used a teaspoon (about 3g) for 350ml of 205F water, steeped for three minutes. The dry leaf was lovely, small, curly, and golden tipped, with that smell I often find in black teas that reminds me of a BBQ marinade, somehow.

Steeped, a bit of the marinade smell is coming through, but now the aroma has a strong floral undertone which hampers that umami/orange saucy smell. It also smells very malty. To taste, it is very bold, and quite smooth, with just a touch of astrigency and drying after the sip, which doesn’t lean into unpleasant territory. It tastes strongly of tannic malt, orange zest, ground spice, and just a subtle hint of wildflower honey and rose. Very much a breakfast tea, and while it is fine plain, I definitely feel that adding warm milk is really going to work in this tea’s favor.

Flavors: Astringent, Drying, Floral, Honey, Malt, Orange Zest, Rose, Spices, Tannin, Umami

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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72

It’s Sampler September! I happen to have a bunch of samples acquired this year from a box to monetarily support Tea Fest PDX (I’d attended in person in Portland, OR, during 2019, 2020 and 2021 were both cancelled events). The box has miscellaneous tea samples from their sponsors, two of the sample teacups from a past year, an antique silver tea spoon, and a pretty gem teabag weight.

This sample comes from Cup of Tea (shop located in Clackamas, Oregon). It’s a simple Chinese black rose-scented tea, but that sounded really nice this morning. Steeped 2.5g to 350ml 205F water, 3 minutes.

I love the aroma of a rose tea. Dry, it smells like walking through the massive Rose Garden in Portland. Brewed, the floral rose sweetness also has that slight peppery musk, and there is a bready/citrusy aroma coming from the tea. There isn’t anything special about the taste; it is strongly sweet rose, with some body and a mellow baked bread and citrus back drop from the black tea and just a hint of pepper/spice. It’s nice! Feels a bit “out of season” with a fresh “spring” sort of taste, but I’ve missed sipping on this flavor profile. I may use up the remainder of the sample packet on a latte, as I’ve always enjoyed the taste of a strong rose black with milk.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Citrus, Floral, Pepper, Rose, Spices

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML
gmathis

That does sound nice!

Tiffany :)

Hmm, I always have samples and subscription boxes and teas with just a cuppa or too left.. it’s a struggle between balancing those “instant gratification” with the “keep sipping those larger tins/bags”. :)

I hope they have the Portland Tea Fest in the future (never been to it), I would love to visit there again!! :)

Mastress Alita

This year I have been focused almost exclusively on drinking 50g bags, and just drinking that one tea until the whole thing is gone. I’m looking forward to stepping away from that momentarily to get more variety into a month.

The info card that came with the samples says that TeaFestPDX is currently planning to next be held July 16th, 2022. (If it doesn’t get cancelled for a third year in a row…)

Tiffany :)

Tea festival tangent… I’m trying to get to the Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle, hoping 2022 will be my year. So fall 2019 had planned to do Chicago Tea Festival + signed up to volunteer etc then my full time job kept me from being able to go. 2020 I said okay, I’m doing Toronto (late Jan), Seattle (Sept), and Chicago (late Oct). Well I did Toronto, then COVID struck so I still went to other two places just no tea fest. Then this year booked Seattle and Chicago but Seattle was cancelled and now Chicago is not sure it will even happen again but still going to Seattle. 2022 who knows! LOL!

Mastress Alita

I’ve only attended San Francisco International Tea Festival in 2018, and Tea Fest PDX in Portland in 2019… Tea Fest PDX was the last trip I’ve had since Covid hit. I used to do 1-2 trips a year, sad. :-(

Lexie Aleah

If it doesn’t get canceled for 2022 and you’d be interested in meeting up let me know.

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70

Happy National Spice Blend Day! I had to work today and didn’t have any time to brew something before work, leaving me with having to find a caffeine-free option tonight. Thankfully, I found this still-sealed sampler from 2018!

I’ve had an ongoing migraine since Wednesday, and my sense of smell has kinda been off as a result (this last week I’ve used “wet dog” and “hayfever” both as scent/flavor descriptors for various foodstuffs). Something about the scent of the dry leaf smelled like tomato to me (I’ve had that happen with hibiscus before, too). Thankfully that doesn’t transfer to the brewed cup, and even with my off-sniffer I’m getting a strong spice aroma; that familiar cinnamon/clove scent that reminds me of Christmas candles. Smells a bit indistinctly sweet, as well.

The base does reminds me subtly of pastry; the pepperiness I normally taste in honeybush is very subdued, and I’m getting more of a nutty/honey/oaty sort of flavor. I’m not really tasting pumpkin, but to be fair, I rarely do from pumpkin flavorings. The spice is very warming and nice; the sweet cinnamon is probably the flavor that is most dominant for me, but I can also taste the clove. I don’t really distinctly taste ginger, but am feeling a pleasant warming on my throat and calming of my migraine-furious tummy.

I don’t think it stands out compared to other pumpkin spice rooibos teas I’ve had, but it’s a perfectly fine cuppa. I may use the rest of my pouch to make a latte with vanilla almond milk, as I think the creamy body would be jammin’ with this blend.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Honey, Nutty, Oats, Pastries, Spices

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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88

I’ve had a sealed bag of this since January of 2018… just now opening and drinking it. (Hur-hur…)

The dry leaf does have a chocolately aroma, in a very “chocolate liquer” sort of way. Brewed up the tea is thick and dark like coffee, still with the strong chocolate liquer aroma, though there is a sort of vanilla/cream sweetness to the aroma, which does make it lean closer to milk or white chocolate in aroma than dark chocolate. That sweetness is maybe just a hint floraly, as well.

I quite like the flavor! It tastes more like dark chocolate than white chocolate, but it is very rich and smooth. The pu’erh itself (a flavor I tend to dislike) is quite mellow here, with an inoffensive earthiness in the background. The thick mouthfeel from the pu’erh is quite nice, making this cup feel less thin/oily than many chocolate-flavored teas.

It doesn’t top Art of Tea’s Dark Chocolate Peppermint for me in terms of a flavored pu’erh blend, but definitely comes very close!

Flavors: Alcohol, Chocolate, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Floral, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
gmathis

Chocolate and pu-erh pair up very nicely!

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72

This sample was kindly shared with me from AJRimmer! Thank you, AJ! Nutella dipped strawberries is a favorite snack of mine, and I was very curious about this tea, but it always sold out on B&B’s site before I could try to order it.

The dry leaf has a strong fudgy aroma. Steeped, I’m getting the same chocolately/fudgy aroma, as well as a hint of sweet strawberry. On the nose, I’m not really picking up any nutty elements.

To taste, it has a much nicer chocolate flavor than I tend to feel about chocolate teas; it’s like a very dark, bittersweet chocolate, though, rather than the highly sweet, milk chocolately taste of Nutella. The slight bittersweet quality of the chocolate note gives a faint impression of roasted nuts and coffee. The strawberry is very subtle in the flavor; I can pick up hints of it near the end of the sip, like wisps hidden in a chocolate forest.

It’s a good tea, especially for a chocolately tea, but right now it isn’t quite “Strawberry and Nutella.” I actually prefer this darker/bittersweet chocolate flavor in tea more than a milk chocolately flavor, but it is less akin to Nutella… and the strawberry needs to be amped up way more. I think it needs a stronger sweet element and more strawberry to be “Strawberry and Nutella,” and my own preference would be to leave the chocolate as-is and amp up the strawberry, making a “Dark Chocolate-covered Strawberry” sort of blend.

It’s almost there, just feels like it needs some tweaking. I’m still digging the strong dark chocolate vibes I am getting from the cup, though! Thanks for letting me try it, AJ!

Flavors: Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Roasted Nuts, Strawberry

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML
Martin Bednář

Glad that you had chance to try it, I remember promising you sending you some if I don’t like it. Apparently it is somewhere buried, as my virtual cupboard says so, but no idea where is it.

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70

This is a catalog blend tea from International Tea Importers; I purchased it from what (was at the time) my most “local” tea shop (err… in a larger city two hours away), Snake River Tea. Sadly, like so many businesses, Snake River Tea closed shop to their physical location during 2020. They still operate online, but other than the option of being able to order by-the-ounce (so few tea shops allow purchasing less than 50g at a time!), I have little reason not to get catalog blends elsewhere. For me, what I really loved was being on vacation for Anime Oasis in Boise and stopping into their shop every day to enjoy a pot of tea and relax from the bustle of fandom convention. I’ll really miss that.

The tea smells so strongly of spearmint, both in dry leaf and steeped form. I notice little else on the nose, except for perhaps a light spice note which could be from the tulsi. The flavor on the sip is mostly spearmint, but it does seem to be soothed a bit by the tulsi, feeling welcome on the throat while not being abrasive in menthol. I can also taste the lemon myrtle too (my favorite of the lemon herbs), which pairs nicely with the spearmint. I’m really not tasting the rose hip at all, other than a fleeting hint of tanginess at the end of a sip or two which enhances the lemon quality; I could really do with more of it. Since tulsi always tastes a bit minty, citrusy, and peppery to me, it is a natural fit with spearmint and lemon myrtle, though I don’t distinctly taste its own flavor much in this blend, aside from a hay-like quality in the background.

Nothing special as far as herbal blends go, but certainly not offensive, either. Good on a healing sore throat and as a relaxing companion to Bob Ross ASMR.

Flavors: Citrus, Hay, Lemon, Mint, Smooth, Spearmint

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML
gmathis

Our PBS/Create channel does a Bob Ross double feature on Saturday evenings. Lovely way to unwind!

Mastress Alita

Twitch.tv (famously known for video game streaming, but it actually does lots of other live streaming, as well!) has an entire channel that just streams Bob Ross’ Joy of Painting 24/7. I love to put it on in the background and let his dulcet tones help get me drowsy in the evenings!

Martin Bednář

I am so sorry that your nearest tea shop is that far and moreless it doesn’t offer much. I mean not their own blends — getting tea from wholesalers isn’t bad per se but I would rather get something from themselves.

Mastress Alita

They only blended a few herbals, while the rest came from wholesalers (and were very easy to track down… they never denied it when I’d say something like, “Oh, that’s the tea that comes from Young Mountain Tea, right? I like that one!”) It was still nice to have a place I could walk into and enjoy a cup of tea while I was on vacation. Since they closed up their physical shop, that is no longer an option. I’ll admit that was the real draw for me, since I can easily order the same catalog blends from a plethora of online tea shops, so their business being online only now is pretty meh for me.

Martin Bednář

I see. Well, I am afraid that I ave to leave my favourite tea shop alone soon. But I think I will go visit them now and then. I won’t be in that city that often as I was used to. I am glad they haven’t closed down, but as I was speaking with tea master, they were really close to! Maybe buying a tea from them and the support T-shirt helped them enough. It wasn’t much, but at least a small help.

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77

My last Nepali tea, squeezed in just before the end of August! This one came from a cupboard sale from Ost, thank you Ost! Prepared gong fu style.

7.5g / 200ml / 185F / 20s|30s|40s|50s|60s

The wet leaf has a strong, pungent aroma of wet hay. The steeped tea smells of bitter melon, hay, and an herbaceous/floral aroma that is reminding me of bee pollen and dandelions. The first steep is spot on with the aroma, leading with a sharp bitter melon note that fades to more of a sweeter cantalope over the sip, and a strong peppery herbaceous/sweet floral quality that tastes of hay, flowers, and pollen. A sweeter rosy floral lingers on the tongue after the sip, as well as a sort of lemony citrus note, which presented much stronger on the subsequent steep. The third steep in particular had a strong lemon/ginger sort of flavor. Was still getting a nice flavor by the time I wrapped up at five steeps, so it probably could’ve been pushed a bit more, but I was very tea-full by that point. I’m always impressed how well very old white tea holds up.

Flavors: Bitter Melon, Cantaloupe, Citrus, Dandelion, Flowers, Ginger, Hay, Herbaceous, Lemon, Pepper, Rose, Spices

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 7 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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75

I thought I only had a single Nepali tea left (an old Silver Needle), but then as I went through the samplers I got from the “Support PDX Tea Fest” box this year, I found a sample of this Nepali green, which I decided to brew up as an afternoon energy boost after exhausting myself all morning with house cleaning.

The brewed tea has that beany aroma I associate with Bi Luo Chun greens, as well as a very fresh garden peas vegetal aroma. I taste both in the brewed tea; it has a very vegetal umami quality. The manufacturer’s notes claim it is citrusy, but that isn’t really coming out for me in the flavor; I do, however, notice a subtle citrus note left in the aftertaste on my tongue. Lots of fresh garden vegetable vibes.

Flavors: Beany, Citrus, Garden Peas, Green Beans, Umami, Vegetables, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

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65

This Nepali tea sample is courtesy of Meowster’s 2018 cupboard destash. Thanks Meowster!

Steeped 3.5g in 500ml 205F water for 3 minutes. The brewed tea smells of cinnamon raisin bread, warm cherry compote, and a hint of lemon citrus. The smell is more impressive than the taste, but I suspect age hasn’t done this tea any favors. It’s coming off a bit abrasive, with a bit of a malty/bready base with a hint of cinnamon spice and a very strong citrus taste. Near the end of the sip I can just slightly taste a cherry note and a hint of florality, but it fades quickly under the bitter/astringent edge. A bitterness is left on my tongue in the aftertaste.

Probably my least favorite of the Nepali teas I’ve tried this month. I may try playing around with water temperature for my next two cups and see if that doesn’t tame it a little more. But perhaps age has just let the beast out with this one.

Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Bitter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Citrus, Floral, Lemon, Malt

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 17 OZ / 500 ML
gmathis

In theory, it sounds wonderful—I don’t remember seeing it the last time I perused an Upton catalog.

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70

I finished all my Nepal Tea samplers, but my “trip” to Nepal this month isn’t quite over yet, as I found a few other samples of Nepali tea in my stash. This one came from Meowster’s cupboard destash many a summer ago. Thanks Meowster!

Steeped 2.5g in 195F water for 3 minutes. The brewed aroma is very floral, with a strong sweet spices scent (like cinnamon) thrown in. Perhaps a hint of toasted bread slathered in marmalade, as well. The flavor hasn’t held up as well in this very old tea as the aroma, as I’m not really tasting any of those things. It mostly tastes of dry autumn leaves, with a hint of cinnamon spice and graham biscuit. There is a subtle apricot note, as well. I can’t help but feel there was probably a lot more notes in this fresh.

But it is servicable morning black tea, despite the age.

Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Floral, Graham Cracker, Spices, Stonefruit

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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Bio

Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in southern Idaho, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, coloring books, simulation computer games, Japanese culture, and cats. Proud asexual and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m also a chronic migraineur. As a surprise to no one, I’m a helpless tea addict with a tea collecting and hoarding problem! (It still baffles me how much tea I can cram into my little condo!) I enjoy trying all sorts of teas… for me tea is a neverending journey!

Favorite Flavors:

I love sampling a wide variety of teas! For me the variety is what makes the hobby of tea sampling so fun! While I enjoy trying all different types of teas (pure teas, blends, tisanes), these are some flavors/ingredients I enjoy:
-Dessert/chocolate/vanilla/caramel/cream/toffee/maple
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Vegetal/grassy
-Floral/lavender/rose
-Spices/chais
-Fruity
-Tropical/pineapple/coconut
-Bergamot (in moderation)
-Roasted/nutty
-Tart/tangy/hibiscus/rosehip

Disliked Flavors:

There are not many flavors or ingredients that I don’t like. These include:
-Bananas/banana flavoring
-Hemp/CBD teas
-Smoke-scented teas/heavy smoke flavors (migraine trigger)
-Perfumey teas/extremely heavy floral aromas (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Extremely spicy/heated teas
-Medicinal flavors/Ginseng
-Metallic flavors
-Overly strong artificial flavorings

With the exception of bananas and migraine triggers, I’ll pretty much try any tea at least once!

Steeping Parameters:

I drink tea in a variety of ways! For hot brews, I mostly drink my teas brewed in the western style without additions, and for iced tea, I drink teas mostly brewed in the cold brew style without additions. Occassionally I’ll change that up. I use the https://octea.ndim.space/#/ app for water-to-tea ratios and use steep times to my preferences.

My Rating Scale:

90-100 – Top tier tea! These teas are among my personal favorites, and typically I like to keep them stocked in my cupboards at all times, if possible!

70-89 – These are teas that I personally found very enjoyable, but I may or may not feel inclined to keep them in stock.

50-69 – Teas that fall in this range I enjoyed, but found either average, lacking in some way, or I’ve had a similar tea that “did it better.”

21-49 – Teas in this range I didn’t enjoy, for one reason or another. I may or may not finish them off, depending on their ranking, and feel no inclination to restock them.

20-1 – Blech! My Tea Hall of Shame. These are the teas that most likely saw the bottom of my garbage can, because I’d feel guilty to pass them onto someone else.

Note that I only journal a tea once, not every time I drink a cup of it. If my opinion of a tea drastically changes since my original review, I will journal the tea again with an updated opinion and change my rating. Occassionally I revisit a tea I’ve reviewed before after a year or more has passed.

Inventory:

My Cupboard on Steepster reflects teas that I have sampled and logged for review, and is not used as an inventory for teas I currently own at the present moment. An accurate and up-to-date listing of my current tea inventory can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/xjt9ptx3 . I am currently strictly limiting tea trading/ordering to get my collection under control! My participation in any tea boxes, tea exchanges, or group orders, and acceptance of any tea gifts is very limited at this point in time. If there is something on my spreadsheet that I have in large quantity (50g or higher) that you would like to sample, feel free to contact me about it, as I am open to limited outbound gifting (USA only!)

Contact Info:

Feel free to send me a Steepster PM, or alternatively, check the website URL section below; it goes to a contact form that will reach my personal e-mail.

Location

Idaho, United States

Website

https://teatimetuesdayreviews...

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