458 Tasting Notes

There’s this little Ukranian grocer that opened up near my place that I’ve wanted to visit for a while, because their tea section is right up against the window, so I can look in at it. Unfortunately small shops make me nervous so I’ve kind of avoided it. I finally made it in the other day on my way back from another shop, and then I was worried they’d think I was weird for going into a specialty grocer to buy a single box of tea (in my defense most of the teas were entirely in Cyrillic). But strawberries and cream sounds like a good ‘half awake in the morning’ kind of tea.

It SMELLS delicious, like strawberry jam. It’s just a fanning teabag, moderate Ceylon tea base doesn’t overpower the strawberry. Not really getting any ‘cream’ in the taste, although there’s an extra sweetness in the smell that might be it.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Sun Moon Black by DAVIDsTEA
458 tasting notes

I don’t tend to get the “menthol” description some people give to Sun Moon blacks, but I think I might be getting it in this one. Second time sipping this particular tea, this time gongfu. Made it western in a mug the first time, but it was a bit too much like a strong assam.

First steep (~5-10 seconds, playing it a bit loose) was faintly dry and fruity.
Second steep (same) more menthol, but overall reminded me more of fruit leather. Drying and tangy.
Third steep: menthol; wouldn’t describe it as mint, more like a weird tip of the tongue taste that reminds me a bit of mouthwash.
Fourth: The fruity flavours have pretty much disappeared; it’s menthol/mouthwashy, slightly astringent on the tongue.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Menthol


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drank Matcha Ice Cream by DAVIDsTEA
458 tasting notes

I once sat through a tabletop game (Shadowrun) eating a small tub of matcha icecream all to myself. …The taste isn’t actually too far off.

There’s a swirl of powdery matcha that comes off the tea and goes right through your strainer, as expected. The almond slivers and sugar really add to the vanilla icecream base, and the matcha is a nice, sweet, very ‘cooking matcha’ texture.

I picked up a bag of this after someone from my gaming group shared their stash with me. Pretty nice hot, but when I forgot it for a few hours and started sipping it again it isn’t too bad cold, either. Could make for an interesting iced tea… You’d have to shake it each time, though.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Sticky Rice Oolong by DAVIDsTEA
458 tasting notes

When I was growing up, my mom used to make plain stickyrice as a side to almost every meal. I’ll admit right now that I hated it; it was bland and unappetizing and when you had it almost every day well. That said, I really wanted to try this tea anyways; see how it stacked up in comparison.

Dry, it just smelt a bit like an artificial milk oolong. /Brewed/ though. Yup, that’s sticky rice. The aroma and even the taste, light, sweet, vaguely pudding-like. As an oolong, it’s an interesting and different experience, but dang if it doesn’t give me nostalgia vibes. I hated the rice because it was always a big scoop of gelatinous filler, but this was a nice treat to try anyhow.

While it was still hot, you could make out the light vegetal oolong, but as it cooled the rice dominated.

Steep two (done several hours later) smells just of strongly (if not stronger) of white rice. As it cools, the taste is coming through just as strongly.

Flavors: Rice Pudding

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank 2017 Old Jianshan Mengku by gylxtea
458 tasting notes

After a rinse, the wet leaves smell smokey and savoury, like vegetable soup. 3g/50mL.

The first steep, 10s, is subtle and borderline sweet. Second and third steeps were much stronger, brothy, smokey. I let this one get away from me while playing videogames, but didn’t really find it as distinct as the other two samples. Mostly got vegetables and a minerally note.

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So I managed to get a mild sunburn everywhere yesterday. That’s pleasant. I need to start carrying an umbrella. …Or frilly parasol.

Used about 85-90C water, just down from boiling; 3g/50mL, prewarmed gaiwan, and did a quick rinse. Steepster again lost my note before I finished, so here’s my quick summary:

First two steeps at 10 seconds, faintly sweet, no real astringency until the second steep, light, almost floral; some people suggested mineral, which I think I agree with. The astringency almost feels roasty, so that the early steeps strongly remind me of a light dan cong. The aroma of the lid was distinctly fruity, but didn’t really carry into the cup that I noticed. It’s quite different from the Mang Fei, which was more smokey and heavy.

Third steep on I upped to 15 seconds. Astringency built for a bit, mostly concentrating on the tip of my tongue; around steep five, it dissipated again. Reminds me of unripe fruit, I think; not QUITE sweet, a bit dry and harsh, but definitely not vegetal or savoury.

I’ll probably edit this later when I get home from work to continue.

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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The first thing I noticed about this sample, was the aroma from the inside of the gaiwan lid after brewing. Pretty strong, with a bit of a citrus tang. Maybe a bit of smoke.

This is the 2017 harvest of this tea, of which there was no listing, but Elephantasy said posting it here was fine.

Three grams in a 50ml gaiwan, 190F water. Did a quick rinse, and then the first steep at ten seconds. Citrus, with a bit of astringency on the top of the tongue; something almost sweet. Pretty light, but leaves a lingering smokey aftertaste.

Second steep at ten seconds is much stronger. Slightly bitter, trails off into something more pleasant, but leaves a drying feeling on the tongue. Third steep at fifteen seconds mostly reinforces a vague fruit sensation that leans more towards citrus. The aftertaste is still residually sweet but smokey, at the back of the tongue when you breathe out.

By the fourth steep, the fruityness has sort of disappeared and the soupy, smoky sensation’s taken over. Vegetal and brothy, with a lingering drying feeling. The liquor still smells a bit fruity though, but it doesn’t carry over.

Fifth steep , still at fifteen seconds, is pretty similar. I doubt I’m at a point where I can pick out the uniqueness of each steep. Sixth steep, I realize the fruityness reminds me a bit of apples, similar to another very recent, un-aged sheng from Cultivate.

Accidentally oversteeped my next steep while eating a snack; a minute or two, whoops. Bit bitter, but not overly so. Helps that it cooled down in the gaiwan. Vegetable broth with something like stone fruit.

Flavors: Apple, Citrus, Smoke, Vegetable Broth

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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I think I gravitate more to the smell of this. Warm, woodsy, sweet, like molasses. Used 2.5g in a 50ml gaiwan.

The first few steeps changed the most, but I find it hard to describe. I did two rinses before I started brewing, ten second steeps. It was mostly tobacco, woody peat, and not sweet. Later steeps, around the third one onward, at 15 seconds are sweet on the tip of the tongue with something harsher at the back; not bitter, I’ve been thinking ‘camphor’ only because I don’t have a reference for what ‘camphor’ is supposed to be, but I’m told something closer to mint. This is more resinous, pine. I thought maybe bitter chocolate.

Up’d to thirty seconds around steep ssss…ix? When I visited Silver Crescent, they were steeping shous starting at a minute, I noticed. I figured it was likely so that they could use a bit less leaf and save money. The result was still a really nice, well-rounded brew, so it’s something I’ve considered doing myself. Next time maybe.

I ended up immediately upping it to a minute, which brought back the peat. The sweetness sort of retreated to the back of the throat.

The tea overall didn’t last super long, but I think I’d be more generous with it if I had more than a sample; I do definitely like it of the samples I got, it’s gentle and pleasant compared to the small sampling of other shous I’ve tried. I wouldn’t mind getting a full brick of this. I should have checked steepster on Canada Day to see if they had any deals; or at least free shipping.

As a Canadian, shipping prices are what hold me back on MOST purchases.

Flavors: Camphor, Molasses, Peat, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 2 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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drank Little Red by white2tea
458 tasting notes

When I first got my samples in from White2Tea this wasn’t listed on Steepster; at the time I didn’t know if it was going to become a part of their regular stock, so I didn’t add it. But it’s since been added now, which is fitting because I’m finishing off my free sample now.

I shattered my little gaiwan last month, but I had just enough of this left to brew in the 50ml gaiwan I bought as a replacement (https://www.flickr.com/photos/supermoon10/34639236724). When I originally brewed it, western-style, it reminded me very strongly of a tea my aunt brought back from her visit in China (she’s a university lecturer). It SMELLS sweet; malty, toffee, maybe something like roasted chestnuts.

Similar notes in a gaiwan. The first two steeps brought the toffee/chestnut sweetness to the forefront, followed by malt. The later steeps lose the sweet topnotes and leave the malty assamica aroma.

Unfortunately, not a whole lot of staying power; it’s mostly faded by about the sixth steep. Started at 15 second steeps, quickly evolved into minute-long steeps.

Flavors: Chestnut, Malt, Toffee


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drank Lavender Crème by Teavana
458 tasting notes

I’ve made myself a little cubby of caffeine-free teas above my kettle to force myself to stop drinking regular tea too late into the evening and then staying up all night.

Teavana’s way the heck out of my way, but I made a trip down to stock up on the Indonesia black, and because ‘Lavender’ and ‘Creme’ are at least two of my favourite things. Weirdly, lavender blossoms are the /tenth/ ingredient. Below… cardamom.

This is a really confusing tea. But I do like cardamom.

It tastes mostly of rooibos and cocoa nibs, a bit of cardamom; I’ve had it a few times, and concluded that there was most definitely not enough lavender, so I’ve been adding a bit of my own. Adds a bit of spice. It’s more of a weak caramely chai with a faint hint of lavender (you can taste it a bit more at the back of your throat, I guess that ‘soapy’ taste) than anything else. But it’s something sweet and warm to drink when I get home from work late at night.

Flavors: Caramel, Cardamom, Cocoa, Lavender

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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Disclaimer: I work for Murchie’s Tea and Coffee as a taster and blender. I will avoid putting any ratings on teas from them from here on out.

A tea-drinking transgendered Canadian, university graduate, majored in geology (yes, “rocks and things”). I take most of my tea made straight into a mug, although occasionally if I’m not in a hurry (this isn’t often), I’ll have time to sit down with a pot or gaiwan. It’s the highlight of a good day.

My notes are pretty disjointed because I’m absent-minded, and I also keep a teatra.de blog for reviewing and rambling about tea books/publications, and an instagram for photos. Except nerding about tea production and history on both.

I’m a Doctor Who fanatic (Jon Pertwee, if you were wondering).

“But you should never turn down tea, when it’s offered. It’s impolite, and impoliteness is how wars start.” ~Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann






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