922 Tasting Notes
Green March! I received this as a free sampler at some point when I ordered from T2, and I’ve been feeling very under the weather, and for whatever reason I’ve been craving green teas. As I was digging through my samplers, I realized that just a nice, plain sencha sounded lovely; just a simple green tea that will be warm and easy on the stomach. And it certainly fit the bill.
I was actually a bit impressed that for T2 brand the leaves had a very nice, full expansion. I’ve always thought of them as being more known for their flavored blends so I honestly wasn’t expecting much from one of their simple pure teas, but this was very nice. It had a very crisp, clean, light body with refreshing grassy vegetal notes and a mildly sweet finish.
The sampler had about two servings of leaf in it, so my first cup used just a teaspoon and was absolutely lovely. Wanting to finish the sampler up (the almighty sipdown!), I just dumped the remainder of the leaf into my infuser this morning and that may have been just a smidgeon too much leaf than I prefer for this kind of tea; the little bit of extra leaf left a slight astringent finish that I don’t care for much, so be careful not to overleaf this one! One teaspoon (and I wouldn’t heap it!) should be plenty. That produced a far nicer flavor in my opinion (or maybe I just prefer my greens on the lighter side?) Next time I may just have to let that last little bit of leaf at the bottom of the sampler bag be forfeit!
Flavors: Sweet, Warm Grass, Vegetal
Last year I took a vacation to San Diego for a Doctor Who convention, and my friend and I had a high tea at Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe. This was the tea I selected to accompany my meal, and I remember enjoying it then so I bought some from my shop haul, but trying it now I’m a bit underwhelmed. And I normally really love black/rooibos blends, as I usually find that I really like the way the two teas end up complimenting each other, with the rooibos naturally sweetening up the tea and mellowing out a lot of the astringent bite I don’t care for in a lot of black teas. It really should be the exact sort of tea I love, but it seems a bit hit or miss whether I get a nice cuppa from it, despite using consistent steeping parameters.
The leaf has a really nice fruity smell. It is a quite punchy aroma, with a lot of sweet and tart fruity notes; I pick up this cran-strawberry scent, and perhaps a bit of passionfruit, with a touch of underlying rooibos. After brewing, I still smell a lot of sweet strawberry, as well as tarter fruit notes like cranberry and pomegranate, and oddly enough, a somewhat grapey scent.
The flavor of the tea is quite fruity, with some noticable sweeter, strawberry accompanied by some very subtle floral notes in the opening sip, with a bit of a tart fruit kick of a combination of cranberry and pomegranate flavors that linger on the tongue in the finish. There are a lot of tropical flavors in the blend, but they get a bit lost, as I can’t make out any of the pineapple or mango, unless they are presenting themselves as that subtle floral note. The base of the tea is its main downfall; the black tea leaves a bit of a tannic finish, so if you get a bit too much black in the teaspoon, I find it feels a little more bitter than I tend to prefer. But the rooibos in this blend has a very medicinal/cough syrupy taste, which is a flavor note I don’t typically pick up on from rooibos unless I ice it (Perhaps they are using a lower quality rooibos in the blend? Or that particular note just makes itself present to me around the other flavors in the tea? I have no idea!) So if there is too much rooibos in the teaspoon, it tastes a bit cough syrupy to me. And it seems on any given scoop, I just don’t seem to get a magic combination where the cup comes out really nice. Some cups are more on the astringent side but don’t have that medicinal edge at all, and some taste quite medicinal to me, but aren’t leaving that bitter drying taste in my mouth every sip. I’ve definitely had some come out better than others, but none that I’d rank as highly as I remember during my high tea at the restaurant. I don’t normally sweeten my teas, but a little sugar does seem to help this one all around.
I liked the fruity flavor, but the parts of the whole just didn’t all come together in the right ways on this one.
Flavors: Astringent, Cranberry, Floral, Fruity, Medicinal, Rooibos, Strawberry, Tannic, Tart
I picked up a sampler of this tea from Beleave Teas, where it is called “Probiotic Pu-erh,” but it is obvious they are sourcing TeaSource’s “Iron Silk Puer” blend. From the ingredients, this is basically TeaSource’s herbal blend Margaret’s Soother (one of my favorite teas!) with a pu-erh base added, so it’s really nice to know I have a caffeinated option of that tea as well! I enjoy the Margaret’s Soother blend mainly as a great throat tea, but it also has a great flavor, so unless the tea base of this ends up being one of those fishy/dirty pu-erhs I find all too often in pu-erh blends, I really doubt I’m going to dislike this one!
I gave the tea a quick rinse, but opted to steep longer than the suggested parameters. It had a nice rich red color and I found the tea had a lovely minty flavor with a nice sweet licorice finish on the tongue. The base of the tea was very smooth and earthy, with a few mineral notes, and just a hint of clove. The tea really did taste like a pu-ehr version of Margaret’s Soother, so it was a bit like getting your sore throat balm with the added bonus of settling the stomach and providing a little digestive aid. I really enjoy this one!
Flavors: Clove, Earth, Licorice, Mineral, Mint, Smooth, Sweet
Love You Oolong Time! This oolong is quickly proving to be a favorite. The first time I ever attempted gongfu brewing it was with this tea, and when I had a friend over, we had a gongfu session together with it as well, and really enjoyed picking out the flavor notes from each infusion together. I have the spring 2017 harvest of this tea.
I brewed five grams of this tea gongfu style in approximately 75ml of 200 F water. I got ten infusions from the tea, before it started losing flavor. The steeping times were as follows: 10 sec, 15 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 40 sec, 50 sec, 1 min, 1 min 30 sec. The tea brews up a very bright, clear, golden yellow color.
The first infusion of the tea had a very strong, astringent vegetal note, tasting of spinach and brocolli, with a slight, floral note lingering beneath the surface. The second infusion brought out the vegetal notes even more strongly, with that astringent, bitter spinach bite really filling the mouth, and the lingering floral notes becoming even more subdued.
By the third infusion, the leaves were really starting to open up, and a pleasant perfumey aroma was making itself present in the tea. The flavor of the tea was starting to sweeten out a bit, and taste more of orchids. The next infusion is when it really started to mellow out, becoming very sweet, creamy, and floral, tasting very much of orchids and lilacs! The next few infusions were probably the best, tasting extremely sweet, and entirely of floral notes… any lingering presense of the vegetal notes had disappeared! There was a slightly buttery mouthfeel, the tea was very smooth, it was filled with lovely floral notes, and it was hard to believe that it had such an astringent start. Subsequent infusions continued to have a very sweet taste of orchids and lilacs, though a slight vegetal aftertaste reappeared on my tongue.
The tea had very good staying power, and I felt very tea-full, satisfied, and had that nice aware-and-relaxed feeling from the session. I think fans of green teas or light floral notes would find this a very satisfying oolong.
Flavors: Astringent, Broccoli, Butter, Cream, Floral, Orchid, Perfume, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
I enjoy this tea in a bit of an… unconventional way. I noticed that it has a very close flavor profile to another tea in my collection, which is Adagio’s White Chai. Though this tea is entirely an herbal blend, Adagio’s White Chai has so little white tea in it, and the rest of the ingredients between the two blends are pretty much identical, so the flavors are very close. They both are spicy teas with a strong lemon base and noticeable pine notes, and a strong spicy finish. The main difference with this blend is that the fruit notes aren’t as strong as in Adagio’s White Chai, so it isn’t as sweet, and the peppery finish from the red peppercorns is much stronger, leaving more of a bite right at the end of the sip. Between the two, when I just want a cuppa, I prefer the slightly sweeter and less-spicy White Chai, so I started using this tea as a broth base for my ramen.
I can’t use the flavor packets that come with the noodles since they contain MSG (which is a migraine trigger for me), so I started experimenting with using tea as my ramen broth instead, and found I actually really like this tea as a broth. It has a really strong flavor, and works nicely to create this spicy lemon base to the noodles, and it still tastes really nice after the noodles have been eaten out of the bowl and the tea has been salted a bit. The salty notes go well with the peppery notes from the peppercorn, like a “salt and pepper” flavor compliment. It just seems like a lemon ginger tea, but works out to be surpringly savory.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Ginger, Lemon, Peppercorn, Pine, Spicy
Ah, Scottish Caramel Pu-erh. I think nearly every independant teashop I’ve visited has had this on the line-up, and if you search it here on Steepster, you’ll probably get a good twenty iterations of it because of that, but I’m fairly positive they are all wholesaling it from the same popular teashop wholesaler — Metropolitan Tea Company. What I find most fascinating is how many of these teashops put butterscotch or caramel (or both) on the ingredients list (the one I purchased it from did!) yet inspecting the leaf, there isn’t a trace of caramel or butterscotch pieces in it (only chopped almond), meaning these are flavorings. That makes a big difference to those with dietary restrictions, preferences, or allergies; my BFF is Vegan and the difference between caramel flavoring (often non-dairy) and caramel pieces (typically dairy) is huge, and simply listing “caramel” on the ingredients list is not very helpful! The consumer shouldn’t have to dig through their leaf to figure out what is in their tea, especially after buying… /end rant
In any event, I picked up my go at this blend from Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe and Afternoon Tea last year when I was on vacation in San Diego. The leaf does have a bit of the “fishy” smell I find tends to be a problem with the bases in flavored pu-erh blends, but thankfully it mellows out in the brewed cup, and doesn’t leave any lingering flavors (at least that I notice, and that can’t be said for some other flavored pu-erhs in my collection). The tea brews up very thick and dark as coffee, has a damp earth flavor with a bit of a mineral finish, but is very sweet. The pu-erh base is a bit strong so I don’t get a heavy caramel note, but more of a sweet, burnt sugar finish, with a slight caramely taste left lingering on my tongue afterwards. During the sip, something about the sweet flavorings and the earthiness of the base gives me this coconut flavor on my tongue… I realize there is nothing in the tea to produce a coconut flavor, but the caramel notes read to my palate that way more than caramel. (That isn’t exactly a bad thing, I like coconut, but I find it interesting). I’m not sure what the diced almonds are doing for the blend, since I don’t get any nutty notes from the tea. The tea comes off as a cheap pu-erh that uses its flavoring to pre-sweeten the leaf and hide the unappealing notes that typically come with a cheap pu-erh. It’s drinkable, but not something I’m going to miss once I manage to finish it off.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Coconut, Mineral, Sweet, Thick, Wet Earth
I think I drank too much caffeinated tea too late into the evening tonight, because it’s 3 a.m. and I just can’t get my sleepy on… I was tempted to pull out Bluebird’s Cat’s Pyjamas, but I ordered some lemon-infused honey from Etsy to try to help me get over the fact it tastes of nothing but super-strong chamomile, a flavor I don’t particularly enjoy, and I’m still waiting on that to arrive. So I decided to dig into my stash for some other sleepytime teas.
I got some Teapigs samplers not long ago, so I decided to try this one out. Snooze is a blend of apple pieces, chamomile, and lavender, and I am quite a fan of apple and lavender, and hoping those things will balance out the chamomile flavor, though it really all comes down to how the tea is blended. The first thing I notice, looking at the sachet, is that the chamomile is not whole flowers, but shredded flower, while there is quite a bit of chunky bits of apple, and there appears to be a pretty decent lavender-to-chamomile ratio. Things are looking decidedly up for me already!
While I tend to not get that nasty “papery” teabag taste from sachets, out of principal I cut the sachet open and let the ingredients infuse in my gravity well infuser (not that herbals do much expansion, but I liked the idea of all that apple fully floating around in the water!) Surprisingly, for so much apple in the tea, I didn’t get a very pronounced apple flavor… but what I did get, was a much sweeter flavor, with a much more subdued and less overwhelming chamomile taste, which is exactly what I was hoping for! I don’t mind when chamomile is in a blend, I just don’t really like the taste of it when it’s the dominant flavor and stands out in the foreground; I really prefer it as a background note. I can still make out that it is there, but it doesn’t have that strong (and to me, often oddly soapy) floral presense, and instead a sweet, apple note comes through in the finish. There is also a strong lavender flavor in this tea which helps (for me!) a lot, as I’m a huge fan of lavender; it hits in the aroma immediately, and that somewhat floral/minty flavor is strong in the sip and follows through right to the finish. That, for me, is probably my favorite part, so if you don’t like lavender, I can assure you aren’t going to like this one.
I really like this one! I wouldn’t say it knocks me out like Cat’s Pyjamas does (must be the valerian root!) but this is certainly soothing and tastes wonderful.
Flavors: Apple, Floral, Lavender, Mint, Sweet
This is a tea that has changed for me a lot. I used to find this tea very peachy, and I remember the first time I sampled it at my local tea shop, I actually assumed it was a green tea, as I didn’t really notice the base tea much. I just remembered a strong, peachy flavor. My first experience with it cold brewed was such a refreshing, nice peachy tea with this sort of brisk aftertaste that reminded me somewhat of peach wine coolers. I really loved it, and drank it a lot last summer.
But I made a cold brew of this recently, and instead it tasted just like English Tea Store’s Peach Apricot White tea, a tea I found to have such a strongly vegetal taste beneath the peachy tones that it was really unappealing to me, so I gifted it off to my mom. I’m not sure how I could’ve ended up with such a different experience with this one — has my palate changed that much in such a small amount of time? I have stopped sweetening my tea, and I recall I used to, so I did try adding a bit of sweetener which did help mellow the leafiness and bring out the peachiness a bit, but it wasn’t nearly enough… this tea simply isn’t what I remembered. It just has this sort of autumn leaf pile vegetative flavor that dominates the cup, and the peach flavor just isn’t enough to overcome it. It is definitely better as a sweetened cold brew then as a warm cup… I have a hard time even drinking the tea warm, but iced it is at least palatable. Still, after revisiting this, I think I prefer the Bonita Peach green rooibos as a peach iced tea. It lacks that weird leafy taste.
Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Peach, Vegetal
I first made this tea last week when I had a very early morning meeting to take on a car trip; I made a big thermos of it the night before, two parts tea and one part milk, put it in the fridge to ice over night, and was surprised that my thermos was so powerful it kept the tea from fully chilling over night, so it still had a slight, lukewarm edge to it! It wasn’t bad, but hardly the best iced tea I’ve ever made, and now I know I’ll have to make my “roadtrip” tea in a mason jar and move it over to the thermos the next morning, even if it is a little more inconvenient.
This morning I made a proper warm cuppa. I was too much a zombie on the day of my twilight hour car trip to try to really appreciate the tea beyond, “yerba mate… give me CAFFEINE!” I enjoy roasted mate for having such a smooth, roasted base, free of the astringency of black teas, so I actually really like this as the base of a chai. The most recent chais I’ve tried have been very unbalanced, but this chai is very well-rounded; I don’t find any particular spice overpowering, they all blend well together, and the spices don’t leave a lingering or unpleasant heat in my mouth (and I’m a very spice-sensitive person!) so the tea goes down very smooth. This is the sort of chai I can drink plain, without having to add a ton of milk and sugar, because the spices are blended so well. However, it still takes milk and sugar well if preferred that way, as I drank it iced and latte-style the other morning and found it enjoyable that way (despite being lukewarm) as well.
A solid chai if looking for a mate alternative!
Flavors: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Pepper, Roasted, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet
I have been interested in trying this one out since reading Scheherazade’s review, since chocolate, coconut, and lavender are three of my favorite things! (I’ve been making a lot of lavender cocoa recently, and even my friends are quite fond of it!) I wasn’t crazy about the flavor of the Cat’s Pyjamas tea sampler in the Dreamtime Collection I picked up from Bluebird (though that stuff is a miracle drug at helping me go to bed early, so I’ll definitely be keeping it around and drinking it with some extra lemon and honey to help with the taste for those nights when I need to turn in extra early, so it has its uses!), but based on ingredients alone, I have high hopes that the flavor of this particular Dreamtime Collection tea will be a bit more to my liking!
The tea has a nice lavender aroma, with some carmelly sweet notes from the rooibos. The flavor of the tea is a very sweet rooibos base that has some caramel and mellow chocolately notes; it isn’t a strong, rich flavor, but more of a sweet subnote. There is touch of a coconut flavor, but the floral lavender notes come out much stronger. I absolutely love lavender, but the flavor is a bit overwhelming to the coconut here.
I don’t typically add milk to rooibos, but I do love milk in lavender blacks, so I decided to go with Scheherazade’s suggestion and added a dash of some coconut creamer. That definitely helped balance out the coconut notes, and the creamy texture was very pleasant. I enjoyed the tea enough before, but found the flavor balance much nicer with the dash of coconut creamer! I really enjoy coconut and lavender and found the combination a nice, sweet, relaxing cuppa for the afternoon and evening.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Coconut, Floral, Lavender, Sweet