333 Tasting Notes

drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
333 tasting notes

My, it’s been a while since I’ve tried a new tea…fortunately, this one doesn’t disappoint! Just opening the package gives off a lovely, baked-treats aroma. The tea itself has that same quality to it, less “milk” than “cookies that have a substantial amount of butter in the recipe”, but not overwhelming. As recommended, this was good for multiple infusions, with the fragrance lingering on and becoming more subtle, bordering on floral. The gradual unfurling of the tea from tightly-rolled pellets to unbelievably large leaves is also quite impressive.

I’ve only had milk oolong once before, in a blend where some coconut pieces were added. Even though it was long ago, this tea seems identical to the base of that blend, which I loved at the time. It’s a light tea, gentle as green oolongs go, and ideal for a long afternoon.

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drank Rosé Royal by Lupicia
333 tasting notes

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drank Sakurambo by Lupicia
333 tasting notes

I’ve been a longtime fan of Lupicia teas, so of course I had to try this one eventually. The scent of this blend is a very fresh, authentic whiff of cherry, maybe a little on the underripe side and all the more appealing for it! The same flavor is present in the tea, along with just a little bit of heat from the peppercorns and herbal, almost savory coolness from the rosemary. I definitely wasn’t expecting those two ingredients, but they make the blend a bit more interesting than if it was just fruity and sweet. The tea base is unassuming but a good backdrop for these flavors to play on. Overall, a fun blend and one that makes it feel like springtime.

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drank La Belle Epoque by Lupicia
333 tasting notes

Got this as a sample with my Lupicia order. I really miss living close to a Lupicia store, but getting their teas in the mail is the next best thing! It’s nice to have old favorites like Napa Blanc back in the cupboard again…

I’m surprised I haven’t tried this one yet. I get mostly darjeeling from this tea, but more tempered and smoother. It’s very floral and light, without as much of a drying or astringent quality. It’s just what I’d think of when “afternoon tea” is mentioned.

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Revisiting this because my last note on it was along the lines of “I liked it, but I don’t remember specifically why”. So, taking it nice and slow! This is a complex but not overwhelming tea. The initial impression from sipping is a roastiness that floats off the top, then a good, substantial dark-oolong feel. And then there’s a lingering sweetness that has a surprisingly fresh quality. For a while as I tried my first few What-Cha teas, I’d feared my palette was just very different from Alistair’s, as I rarely got what was in the written description of the tea, even though I found them all enjoyable. This time I’m happy to say I do get a plum note from this tea, and it’s a fresh juicy one. When I think of plum notes in conjunction with tea, I usually mean Chinese dried/candied plums (hua mei) or green plums, but in this case it reminds me of something entirely different!

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drank Constant Comment by Bigelow
333 tasting notes

I gave this a try during a busy time at work. The mornings have been very cold and gray here lately, making me wonder if it’s really spring. This is a nice cup of tea to warm up with. Even if it comes in an ordinary-seeming little bag, sometimes that’s just what you need. The black tea base isn’t very strong, which with simpler bagged teas can be a good thing, as it reduces astringency. The orange zest has a nice natural quality to it, and there are little pieces of orange rind in the mix. The spice flavor isn’t too strong, either—and the spice has always been my least favorite part of orange spice so in this case, it’s also a good thing.

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drank English Teatime by Bigelow
333 tasting notes

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I saved this for a weekend, as work has been kind of hectic lately (= super short notes) and I wanted to sit down and take more time with this one. Well, that was a few hours ago and I’m afraid most of the lovely descriptors that came to mind when I tried this tea have fled from memory. At least that’s reason enough to enjoy another cup soon!

This tea arrived still stored inside a desiccated bitter melon, and I brewed with a piece of the melon added to the leaf. I’ve often eaten bitter melon while growing up; it’s part of traditional Chinese cuisine, although it is one of those vegetables infamous for being unpopular with kids. I was kind of a weird one for enjoying it! There isn’t any recognizable flavor from the melon in the tea, which is a very enjoyable dark oolong, with a smooth roastiness that is very well-rounded. It used to be that oolongs were my favorite teas, but I’d become disenchanted with overly green tie guan yins and even da hong paos I tried over the last few months. (Most of these were unknown/unknown from family friends, so they are not logged here.) With teas of this type, the roastiness can be quite harsh and the effect is not very harmonious when the base is still noticeably green—plus the effect from drinking it can be like a kick to the head, whether you want to call it cha qi or caffeine. This tea, I am happy to say, is the answer to those problems, and everything a dark roasty oolong should be. A great example of something well prepared and well aged. So even if I can’t taste the bitter melon, I’m sure it contributed its part to the process.

And well, that’s about as much as I remember. No specifics this time, but I did enjoy this one greatly!

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Sweet, malty aroma. Very smooth and light-bodied black tea, with a faint citrus-floral note that might be best described as orange blossom. Petrichor note after longer steeping. The malt/baked-good quality is much more unassuming than I imagined from the aroma. Not strong as far as black teas go…I’d call it “pleasantly dainty”!

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Definitely one of the most interesting-looking and -sounding teas I’ve tried! The dry stems have a sweet, honey-like aroma. I let the stems steep freely in a cup, and many of them stood up straight like a little forest of tea. The flavor of the tea is initially mild and subtle, with a some honey sweetness and a touch of earthiness. After some steeping, an intense floral-sweet aroma starts getting released. Just leaning in close to take a sip is like taking a deep breath of a summer garden full of flowers after a rain. The flavor feels more complex at this point as well. Very different from other white teas out there, and a highly sensory experience.

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Science writer and a cat that learned to type.

I grew up in a tea-loving family, and tea has always been a part of daily life. I’m still astounded by the amount of tea and teaware back home every time I visit! While I’m most familiar with straight Chinese teas, I’m growing to explore and appreciate other types of tea, including blended and flavored ones. A good blend can reflect the thought and creativity that was put into making it, instead of being too sweet or busy in a way that gives the “genre” a bad rap.

-most black teas (even lapsang)
-most oolongs, especially Fujian teas, baozhong and dancong
-straight white teas

Variable (some are great, some not so):
-most green teas
-tie guan yin
-flavored white teas

90-100: definite repurchase if possible, recommended
80-90: enjoyed, possible repurchase
70-80: fair to good
60-70: fair with some shortcomings
50-60: there’s still a chance I’d take this if it were free
under 50: absolutely not


Southern California

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