1445 Tasting Notes
This is my third and final sample from Twinings. This smelled cloyingly sweet coming out of the package but has tamed a bit after steeping. The aroma is somewhat like cider but much softer. There is also a hint of citrus. I can taste the chamomile which is nice, but it’s also a touch bitter at the end of each sip. Overall it’s not great and, if lacking fresh cider, I would more readily grab a box of powdered cider mix than a box of this tea.
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Sweet
Thank you to Gabriele and nannuoshan for this sample!
I left it to my husband to pick our tea for the night and this was the one he enjoyed the most when he opened each to smell. He’s been wanting to try this type of tea for a while now, ever since he had a conversation with a friend at work about monkey-picked oolong. I didn’t know at the time that monkey-picked oolong is another name for Tie Guan Yin, not until I started asking around here on Steepster. I was happy that nannuoshan had this tea to sample and even happier still that my husband picked this one from the batch without even realizing what it was. I really hope he likes it.
The leaves are brown and came tumbling out of the bag in clusters to hit the inside of my gaiwan with a bright, tinkling sound. Each is a different shape – no two seem alike. Some look like tiny parcels, others like flower bulb shoots. A few have opened more fully, as if they’re stretching upward toward the blue. The color is dark – black and tan and a bit of green.
After rinsing the leaves, this incredible aroma floats out of the cup. I could be wrong about this, but it seems like the perfect cup to wake up to in the morning. The fragrance is roasted and almost sweet. For some reason, I think of oolong as a darker tea (like a step down from black tea), but I must be wrong because this is very light in color. The flavor is outstanding – it tastes just as it smells. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is. It may be bread. It may be brown sugar. My husband even said he tasted something like roses.
We steeped this four times and finally decided it was time for bed. Not wanting to waste any remaining flavor, I put the leaves in the fridge with two cups of water for a cold brew and left it for almost a full 24 hours. The color is very pale, almost golden. I expected it to be lighter since I’ve already steeped it a few times, but it’s even paler than I thought. The leaves have unrolled, but instead of being silky like I expected they look as crunchy as a piece of fresh kale. Lightly sweetened, this is very enjoyable and certainly isn’t lacking in flavor.
I’m enjoying each of my samples from nannuoshan better than the last – this one is my favorite so far!
4 ounces water + 212 degrees + 60 sec each
16 ounces water + iced + approx. 24 hours
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Roasted, Sweet
This is the second of three samples I received from Twinings a couple of weeks ago. I followed the steeping parameters listed on their website and, while the dry tea smelled nice, the brewed tea is quite bitter. I added a good bit of honey to it, but it’s not really helping. This is better once it cools though still too bitter for my taste. Perhaps a lower temperature might help, but I don’t plan on buying more any time soon to find out.
Thank you to Gabriele and nannuoshan for this sample!
Of all the teas I requested, the black teas are the ones I’m most looking forward to trying. Black teas are my favorite and I’m sure these will be no exception. I may try one of the two in a teapot, just for something different, but this one I’ll make tonight in the gaiwan.
The leaves are short in length and most have a crook in the end though some are bent nearly in half and look like a hastily-scribbled letter “U”. There are a few pieces of leaf that haven’t been twisted but look more broken and a fine beige powder along the inside of the bag. The color is black but with the slightest tint of dark green.
A quick rinse first according to Gabriele’s instructions and then on to the first infusion. The color of the tea liquid is a beautiful burnt orange with an added luster that makes it shine in the kitchen light. The liquid almost seems thicker than it should be, and the aroma reminds me of cooked turnip greens (though not excessively so). I think I must be unaccustomed to drinking straight teas (either that or I’m doing something wrong here), but this one too seems bitter to me. My husband says it’s not really bitter, just strong, but I’m going to try cutting down the time on the next steep to see if that helps.
I steeped this a total of six times. The third, fourth, and fifth infusions were the best in my opinion; the tea was no longer bitter and started to take on a fruity note. By the sixth infusion, the tea was starting to become weak so I ended it there. Overall, this was an enjoyable tea. I would be interested to try this in a teapot with some cream and honey to see how it tastes that way.
5 ounces water + 195 degrees + 45 sec, 35 sec, 35 sec, 45 sec, 60 sec, 75 sec
Flavors: Fruity, Vegetal
This is my second sample of the day from Gabriele and nannuoshan. Thank you!
My brother came over for dinner tonight and while I was cooking I let him pick a tea from my bag of remaining samples. He narrowed it down to this green tea, a white tea, and an oolong. We opened each to have a look and take in the scent, hoping it would help him in his decision. My brother loves fruity teas so when I opened the first pouch (which was the white tea) this is what he says — “It smells like Lipton.” I followed with the oolong and green teas which he said smelled like “stronger Lipton”. It made me laugh out loud, but I completely get it – each of them smells simply of tea. I’m no tea connoisseur but after learning about so many different teas here on Steepster I’m finally able to pick out a few distinct notes and really start learning the characteristics and myriad flavors of each type of tea. It’s been so much fun, but I’ve only barely scratched the surface. There’s still so much to learn and experience.
This tea reminds me so much of spring with its blue skies, pink and white blossoms, and cool green grass under bare feet. The tea leaves themselves are the color of moss and look just like fresh-cut blades of grass. They are pressed flat as if they’ve been stuck between two pages of an old book. The smell is fresh and green – it’s quite refreshing. I steeped half of my sample for a full minute in the gaiwan then poured the liquid into three cups. It’s very light in color and smells of grass and toasted rice. I’m pleasantly surprised by the taste. It is delicate but also very flavorful, much like its aroma.
I steeped this twice more, with both cups tasting much the same as the first. It started to become a little bitter and just a touch astringent, so it was probably best that I stopped at three.
Of the two I’ve tried so far from nannuoshan, this one I like the best.
4 ounces water + 175 degrees + 60 sec, 65 sec, 90 sec
Flavors: Grass, Green, Toasted Rice
Thank you to Gabriele and nannuoshan for this sample. It’s such a generous one!
Gabriele sent eight teas to sample over the course of the next week and I am starting the day off with this one. Packed with the teas and all of my beautiful teaware was a typed note filled with personalized steeping recommendations for each of the teas I requested. For this particular one, it was recommended that I use the entire package in my gaiwan. This will be my first time ever to use a gaiwan so I have to admit that I’ve been nervous about it all morning. I’m so worried that my inexperience will somehow negatively influence the taste of this beautiful tea. I did watch a couple of videos earlier today and Gabriele directed me to some photos on Facebook that took me through the process. It seems so involved but also so much more of an experience.
The dry leaves of this tea are almost too pretty to take any further. They are long and lovely and smell so sweet! Most are dark like fresh-tilled earth; some are white and fuzzy with a coat like a Jack Russell terrier. Still others are bordering on shades of nude or wheat. They twist and curl at the ends like unmade corkscrews.
I told a friend last night that we had bought a gaiwan and he jokingly asked if that was the method where you just pour tea all over everything. I wasn’t sure what he meant but now I think I understand. I poured water over the leaves and immediately tipped the first infusion out over all of the pieces to warm them. I made a terrible mess, of course, but the tea tray seems to be well prepared for such a thing. The leaves are starting to unfurl and now have more of a savory aroma, something like spinach or turnip greens.
For my first true steep, I could not seem to get the water in fast enough to empty the gaiwan. By the time the water filled the vessel, the timer in my head was already at six seconds and I was rushing to get it into the pitcher before the bitterness set in. The color of the tea liquid is reminiscent of the flesh of a yellow peach. The sweetness has returned in both flavor and fragrance, but there is a trace of bitterness there which I know is my doing. I can also taste an underlying fruitiness, but the specific fruit is set on evading me. I’ve slowly been adding caffeine back into my diet (but only in the form of tea) and I can feel the effects here. It’s almost that feeling of having one cocktail too many, a wooziness in the head.
I completed five infusions total with each one gentler than the last. It was amazing to see the tea start as thin twists and over time open into full leaves. Toward the end, the leaves still carried their vegetal aroma. The liquid was also bitter through each steep, but not excessively so. Once I become accustomed to using the gaiwan I would like to try this one again. I think there is so much there that I was unable to tap into.
4 ounces water + 212 degrees + 6 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 15 sec
Flavors: Fruity, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
This smells just like licorice candy. I had read that the primary flavor was licorice so I was prepared, but I was hoping it would be something more like anise. Aside from the licorice, there is also spice here that I can’t quite figure out. I was thinking maybe ginger but I don’t see that on the ingredient list.
This smells different while its steeping, more like the anise I was hoping for, and a bit sweet. Wow, this has some serious licorice flavor. It kind of hits you at the back of the throat with this cloying artificial sweetness. I certainly wouldn’t drink this for the flavor so hopefully it does its job and makes my sore throat feel better this morning.
Flavors: Anise, Artificial, Ginger, Licorice, Spices, Sweet
I’m going to give this another try. This is still a little bitter and now seems to have less fruit flavor than before. I can still taste the pineapple but it’s also a bit astringent and tart. I wish it tasted more like it smells, but maybe I just haven’t found the right steeping parameters yet.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Pineapple, Tart
This is one of my husband’s favorite teas so we always have some in the cabinet. I’ve tasted his several times but this will be the first time making my own cup.
This tea is very fragrant. It smells mostly of pineapple. There appears to be an even mixture of white tea leaves and fruit/flowers. I was pulled away from my desk so this one was left to steep for far too long. The color is a dark red, almost crimson or berry. It smells sweet but, not surprisingly, tastes bitter. Beyond that, it tastes very much like an herbal tea. It’s fruity, but I can’t distinguish between the flavors.
Flavors: Fruity, Pineapple, Sweet
This is a sample I received from Twinings. I’ve seen comments and notes on here about the smoky Lapsang Souchong tea and have been wanting to try it for a while. Twinings seems to be hit or miss for me – some of their teas are favorites and others I could do without. So I don’t know if Twinings is the best place to start for this one, but here we are.
I could smell the smoky aroma coming from this tea before I even opened the bag. The fragrance is reminiscent of beef jerky or those dried bacon bits you might find nestled into a salad bar. The more I smell it, the more I love it. It’s quite intriguing.
As it steeps, I’m noticing more of the tea but still a deep, lingering smokiness – a campfire burning at dusk. It’s very strong to taste, but this probably has something to do with me accidentally measuring 6 ounces of water instead of the recommended 8 ounces. I’m not terribly concerned – I’m loving this. It’s full of character and incredibly different but also so reassuringly familiar.
Flavors: Campfire, Smoke