1484 Tasting Notes

75

I picked this up, along with a couple of other Piper & Leaf teas, at the market last month with my mom. Piper and Leaf typically offers several loose leaf teas for purchase, but the main “attraction” is always the iced tea. They serve it up in big quart jars for guzzling while browsing the local wares. We always fill our jars with this sweet iced tea when we go, and this time my mom chose the Front Porch Special. One sip of hers and I knew I had to grab some of this to take home for myself.

As usual with the Piper & Leaf teas, this blend is very fragrant and smells very sweet. There are at least two types of black teas in here from what I can tell, though I’m not sure what they are. Both are small, but one is long and twisty and the other resembles tiny pellets. The mix is flecked with blue and yellow flower petals and green mint leaves. It’s quite colorful.

I used roughly 8 ounces of water here, but by the end of the steep I was left with only 6 ounces of liquid or so. Those leaves were thirsty! Once the hot water hits the tea leaves, the aroma of the mint completely takes over. The flavor of the mint is there, but it’s been overwhelmed by a certain bitterness. After the addition of honey, I can taste the mint more clearly.

Second Steep
8 ounces + 195 degrees + 4 minutes

The color on this second cup is lighter than the first but still dark enough to make me believe that this will be a good cup. I dropped the temperature this time around and it has certainly helped with the bitterness. The mint flavor has dissipated and left me with a still-satisfying cup of black tea.

Flavors: Bitter, Mint, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
teatortoise

Try slightly more than the teaspoon, for three minutes. See how that goes.

Shae

To help with the bitterness? I will try it – thank you!!

teacock

Hi—I was wondering if you have tried “velvet bliss” from piper and leaf? I have tried some of their flavors, and love supporting local and family business….

Shae

I haven’t! Is it a good one? I love the name. I’ll have to look for it next time I see them at the market.

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73
drank Organic Peach Cobbler by Tazo
1484 tasting notes

Wow, this really does smell like peach cobbler! I’m actually pretty surprised. I can almost imagine my cup being filled with the sweet, syrupy peach filling. The taste is bitter as other notes have suggested, but I can also taste the sweet peach flavor and smell the cinnamon and spice.

I added cream but it’s not mixing as well as I would have liked. Also, the honey is overwhelming the flavors in the tea so next time I may try a different sweetener. Overall, this is an enjoyable cup. Quite the dessert experience.

Flavors: Bitter, Cinnamon, Peach, Spices, Sweet, Tannic

Preparation
Boiling 8 OZ / 236 ML

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75
drank 1777 Tea Party by Wedgwood
1484 tasting notes

I drank my first cup of this so fast that I didn’t really stop to take notes. I’m about to do a second cup so I will try to pay more attention. I can say that the tea liquid was dark but not too bold or too sweet. I caught the scent of tobacco from the leaves after steeping. It doesn’t seem as well-rounded as other black teas I’ve had, but it was obviously good since I drank it so quickly. I’ve been drinking a lot of herbals lately so it’s nice to be able to come back to something with some body to it.

Second Steep
8 ounces water + 195 degrees + 7 minutes

The color of the liquid is red and looks just as the first cup did. It isn’t deep-colored but more bright. The taste hasn’t weakened at all with the second cup. The caffeine content certainly hasn’t decreased either. Wow.

Flavors: Tobacco

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
teatortoise

I find that my Yunnan red tea has a tobacco scent when dry and a sweet-tobacco undertone in taste. The color is a bright red. Do you usually get two steeps from this tea, and have you achieved more?
Have you had a non-flavored tea from Sri Lanka?

Shae

This is my first time to try this particular tea. The second cup was quite flavorful so I’m sure I could have gotten more steeps out of it, but time got away from me and I never got around to making a third cup.

I drink mostly flavored teas so I’m not sure that I’ve tried anything from Sri Lanka aside from this. At least, if I trust the description, I think that’s where this tea is from. I’m not familiar enough with tea yet to be able to distinguish between the different varieties or tea growing regions, but I’ve been wanting to buy several types of black teas so that I can start learning the differences between them. Are there any varieties you would recommend for someone starting out with non-flavored black teas?

teatortoise

Red teas from Yunnan are sweet and more delicate than other red teas. I would recommend one of those, if you’re looking for un-flavored tea that holds it’s own, besides pu-erh. The leaves range from black and brown, to brown and yellow and gold. They are made of buds and leaves.

Shae

Thank you! I will definitely check into the Yunnan teas.

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74
drank Sleepytime by Celestial Seasonings
1484 tasting notes

This smells of sweet mint and chamomile. I like this one much better than Bigelow’s Sweet Dreams, but it’s still not really exciting enough to hold my attention today. I keep forgetting about it then having to reheat it. Perhaps another day when I’m in the mood for something calming I’ll come back to this one.

Flavors: Mint, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 6 OZ / 177 ML

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74
drank Chamomile by Celestial Seasonings
1484 tasting notes

This seems lighter than yesterday’s Tadin chamomile, not as concentrated and more refreshing. It’s not at all watered down though. Between the two, I much prefer the Celestial Seasonings.

Preparation
Boiling 6 OZ / 177 ML

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65
drank Chamomile by Tadin
1484 tasting notes

I thought I had reviewed or tried this one before but I must not have logged it here. After opening the packet and seeing the teabag, I realized that I haven’t tried this one after all.

This chamomile smells and tastes strong. There’s not much else to say. It’s basically extra strength chamomile. I’m not sure I like it so much as others I’ve tried.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 6 OZ / 177 ML

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45
drank Sweet Dreams by Bigelow
1484 tasting notes

I steeped this a bit too long so it’s a little astringent. It tastes mostly of mint but has a spice that sits in your throat and on your tongue after each sip. I put too much honey in this cup so it’s far too sweet. I may like this better with a lower steep time and less sweetener. As it stands now, it’s not a favorite.

Flavors: Astringent, Mint, Spices

Preparation
Boiling 6 OZ / 177 ML

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73

My husband bought this tea for me for Valentine’s Day this year, along with the Strawberry Blush Rose. At some point, I intend to mix them together for a cup, but I wanted to try the two separately first.

This tea is very floral, just as expected. I’m not sure of the temperature when I steeped this, but I probably let it cool five minutes or so before adding the tea leaves. It’s a little astringent but not much. The leaves have only barely started to relax from their tight curls.

Second Steep
8 ounces water + 175 degrees + 3 minutes

Ready for my second cup of this! This cup still carries some of that floral scent, but unfortunately it’s also the tiniest bit bitter. The leaves have unrolled most of the way already, but I’ll probably try to steep this once more.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Floral

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
teatortoise

The astringency would be less if the temperature was lower. In fact, you lose a lot of flavor from green pearls with water that hot. The second cup was probably bitter because it is necessary to steep shorter the second time, as the leaves have begun to unfurl and the flavor releases more quickly.
After they have completely unfurled, you can still get a couple more steeps, as long as the second steep wasn’t too long.

Shae

Thank you for your advice, teatortoise! This is my first time to try this type of tea on its own so I’ll admit that I’m not at all familiar with it. I basically just used the steeping parameters that Teavana suggests for green teas. What temperature would you recommend for a tea like this? Also, does the shorter second steep apply to other types of tea too or only to the pearls? I never would have thought to do a shorter steep. I always steep longer the second time around because it seems that most of the flavor would come out in the first cup, but that makes perfect sense for a tea that is bound up so tightly. Thanks for teaching me something new today. :)

teatortoise

I know just how you feel. I would recommend a lower temperature. Mostly I look at the bubbles and steam to control water temperature, and if necessary add a small amount of fresh cool water to lower the temperature. Well before boiling, tiny shrimp-eye sized bubbles begin to appear, and a gentle steam rises like a mist, not straight up. This brings out the light flavor of the delicate leaves, but without being so hot that it diminishes the sweetness, and brings out more astringency.

For very short, high leaf brews, a shorter second steeping (a matter of a few seconds) prevents bitterness, since the leaves have already expanded during the first steep. This difference is like 10 seconds then 8 seconds, or 6 seconds then 4 seconds, for example.

However with any pearl, or tightly rolled leaf, the difference is more significant, since the leaves are opening and beginning to unfurl in the first steep, and expanding in the second steep, when they start to release their real flavor. If not, then the second steep will be bitter, and all other steeps afterward will be lacking in flavor. So, if the water is a little too hot, and the pearls steep too much at first, then you are in danger of tasting an astringent, bitter, and ultimately not-as-flavorful brew.

You’re long steep time leads me to believe that you might use a larger vessel, or simply less leaf than myself, so note the difference. That being said, in my small gaiwan I simply barely cover the bottom with pearls (4-6 steeps), steep for about 45 seconds to a minute at first (without rinse), and then reduce that to about half, at 25-30 seconds, for a less bitter, sweeter, and more flavorful steep. From there, I steep longer, as you normally do. Maybe start from there and tinker a little.

Shae

Thank you for being so descriptive. Your posts and comments are a pleasure to read and have been very helpful. I will pay closer attention to the look of the water next time to be sure I’m steeping this at the best temperature.
You are correct about my using a larger vessel – I steeped this in a mug with my Finum basket. Next time, I will follow your lead and use my gaiwan. I should have thought to do this to begin with. I really appreciate you sharing in detail the way you would normally steep this tea. I’m going to try your method next time and see how it goes. Thank you!!

teatortoise

Sure thing. I know how confusing a tea can be until you get a familiar grasp of it. I’ve never used a finum basket, it looks effective. I’m glad to learn about those. Tomorrow, from my home computer, I could send you the more in-depth preparation of green pearls, I typed up—for myself, honestly—if you’d like. Anyway, just make sure not to use too many pearls in your gaiwan, or it will be too bitter.

Shae

I’ve had my Finum basket for a few months now and I use it all the time. It’s so much better than the tea ball I was using. The mesh is so fine that even smaller pieces of tea won’t escape it which is the problem I had with the tea ball. I love it! I’ll always keep one around now.

I would love to read your in-depth notes on the green pearls, if it isn’t too much trouble!

teatortoise

No problem.
I moved up to a larger tea ball, then after I realized that tea doesn’t really expand or infuse properly in a tea ball, I started to separate it and use it as a strainer, if for some reason I’m making a very broken tea or using the teapot for Assam or something.

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79
drank Strawberry Blush Rosé by Teavana
1484 tasting notes

The dry mix is mostly dried fruit. I can see strawberries, maybe apples and pineapple too. If I’m not mistaken, there are also rose petals, juniper berries, and some kind of dried wrinkly fruit. Perhaps cherry? I can see dark green bits of the curled oolong too. It’s not as numerous as the other ingredients, but it’s visible. This honestly looks like trail mix to me. Or maybe I’m just hungry.

It smells strongly of strawberries and ripe, juicy fruit. It’s mouthwatering actually and very sweet, like candy. After steeping, the leaves have unfurled completely. Some are really rather large. The liquid is a pale, golden pink.

It doesn’t taste as sweet as I expected it to, but it does have a nice flavor. It reminds me of an herbal tea but with a nice floral flavor/scent, possibly from the oolong or maybe the rose petals.

Flavors: Candy, Floral, Fruity, Strawberry, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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57

This tea is very tart and astringent but raspberries can be tart so maybe that is intentional. At my husband’s recommendation, I dipped the teabag in and out of the water several times at the beginning of the steep. He says the flavor is better that way. This one is fruity to be sure, but actually tastes more like cherries or cherry candies to me than fresh raspberries. And it just occurred to me that this smells remarkably like Kool-Aid powder. A red one, of course. :)

Flavors: Astringent, Candy, Cherry, Fruity, Tart

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Profile

Bio

Lifetime student. Lover of books and paper and ink. Kitchen dweller. Aspiring herbalist, excessively proud cat lady, and tea fanatic. Thirty-something elder millennial. She/her.

I love flavored black teas most of all, always with cream and honey. I prefer to sweeten my tea as it seems to bring out the flavor. I enjoy floral and fruity teas, as well as flavored or scented ones. I’m not overly fond of green or white teas, but I’ve found a few that I enjoy.

I’m open to tea swaps and/or just sharing what’s in my tea cabinet! Please reach out if you see something I have that you’d like to try. I do my best to update my cupboard regularly.

It will take me longer than usual to get to the post office while we’re in the midst of this pandemic, but I would still love to send you something next time I’m out and about!

Favorites
Any and all black teas, smoky teas, raspberry, strawberry, red fruits, bergamot, chai spices, floral teas, caramel/toffee, jasmine, rose, vanilla, peaches, plums, valerian root, cinnamon, cardamom

Not a huge fan
Lime, white teas, green teas, artificial sweeteners, sarsaparilla, licorice, lemongrass, lavender, hot hibiscus, hibiscus in black tea blends

Rating Scale

1-20: By far, one of the worst teas I’ve tasted. I most certainly will not finish my cup and will likely “gift” the rest to my sweet husband, James, who almost always enjoys the teas I dislike (and vice versa).

21-49: This tea is not good but if I mix it with another tea or find another steeping method I might be able to finish it.

50-70: This one is just okay. I might drink it again if someone were to give it to me, but I probably won’t be buying more for myself.

71-79: This is a consistently good tea. It’s reliable but not necessarily special.

80-90: This one is a notch above the rest and I would gladly enjoy a cup of it any day of the week. I’ll likely be keeping this in my cupboard, but it isn’t one of my all-time favorites.

91-95: One small change and this tea would be perfect. I’ll definitely have a stash of this in my kitchen if you come over for tea.

96-100: No words can describe this tea. It’s an experience, an aha moment. Closed eyes, wide smile, encompassing warmth. Absolutely incredible. Perfect.

Updated July 2021.

Location

Alabaster, Alabama

Website

https://www.goodreads.com/sha...

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