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Recent Tasting Notes
This is a classic orange spice tea, and it’s well executed. The orange flavor is bright and tangy rather than tasting artificial and candy-like. The spices are listed as cinnamon and ginger, but if I hadn’t read the ingredients list I would’ve guessed there was black pepper in the mix. Not a lot, but enough that it makes its presence known. I enjoy the heat mixed with the sweetness of the fruit. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m guessing it would take milk and sugar very well.
I picked up a couple of ounces of this, and I can see myself drinking all of it over the next few months. That’s a good thing though. This isn’t a tea I see myself craving once the warm weather returns.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Orange, Spices
My order from Premium Steap arrived a week ago, but this has been my first chance to sit down and enjoy one. I was excited to get this because I don’t have anything like it in my cupboard at the moment. I was craving variety as well as sweet, so into my cart this went. It turned out to be good timing on my part since they stopped offering their fall teas right before the new year.
The dry leaf smells nothing like pumpkin or marshmallow. It smells like cinnamon toast and cardamom. It’s pleasant, but I’m really wanting that pumpkin goodness. Once steeped I can sort of smell the pumpkin, but it might just be wishful thinking. Definitely earthy with bread and spun sugar notes. There’s also cinnamon, which I can get on board with as long as it doesn’t overwhelm the blend.
The first sip is… lackluster. I don’t taste pumpkin. Honestly, it tastes exactly like the dry leaf smells – cinnamon, toast, and cardamom. The more I drink it the more I like it, but it’s not what I was expecting. Adding monk fruit sweetener and cream brings the spices to the forefront even more, and as the tea cools I get a soft vanilla flavor. Nothing that shouts marshmallow, but it’s a very nice addition to the other flavors.
I can see myself really liking this one, but as a first impression I have to say I’m disappointed. If I could detect any pumpkin flavor at all this one would be a complete winner. As is, it’s just ok. I’ll keep playing with it though. Maybe I can eek out some pumpkin and marshmallow flavors with a few tweaks.
Flavors: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Toast, Vanilla
I freaked out a little when I put this in the gaiwan because it seemed to be full of saffron-yellow powder.
Then I realized, those were osmanthus flowers. They look like the pictures of osmanthus flowers on the internet, anyway. I hope that’s what they are and not something that shouldn’t be there.
In the tin, the tea doesn’t smell much different from the usual green oolong smell. Mostly just a grassy smell with a light floral note.
Gaiwan. 195F. Rinse. 15 seconds plus 5 for each additional steep.
The tea is pale yellow, clear, and smells a little vegetal and somewhat floral. Nothing distinctive about either, to the point where a particular vegetable or flower jumped out and announced itself. It tastes the way it smells. It doesn’t have either of the things that make me love green oolongs — the butteriness or the juicy floral.
I didn’t notice much of a change through four steeps. I got none of the overt sweetness Auggy mentioned, and frankly, I felt like this was missing something.
It was supremely average. It will be going into the cold brew queue.
Flavors: Floral, Green, Vegetal
Sipdown no. 128 of 2018 (no. 484 total).
I’m back from my business and pleasure trip to Sweden, which was both very interesting and very dark this time of year.
This tea had the distinction of being the lowest rated cold brew eligible tea in my cupboard (I can’t face the idea of cold chamomile), and so that is how I enjoyed it until it was gone.
Greener oolongs make unexpectedly good, unusual, cold brews in my experience. I enjoyed this as a cold tea.
I"m starting with oolongs again today. Since they take a little more work, I find it helps to drink them when I’m fresh.
This one looks pretty green, but in the tin it smells like I’m putting my nose into a food seasoning of some kind. There’s a salty, spicy note. Having just made it through Thanksgiving, I want to say it’s sage.
After rinsing and doing a first steep in the gaiwan at 15 sec, though, there’s nothing of that in the aroma or flavor. The tea is pale yellow with a green tinge.
I didn’t get a lot of flavor out of the first steep. I got some floral notes and some buttery ones, but it didn’t really pop. The leaves pretty much completely unfurled after the first steep. And yes, here I get a pineapple note! It’s a sort of a strange thing but it’s there in both the aroma and the flavor.
The third steep continues the pineapple note and it’s with this steep that I understand the reference to a honey note. Though the tea is a pale yellow which makes me somehow expect it not to generate a honey note, it does. I’m also getting a slight marine note here. There’s a sugary smell left in the cup after the tea is gone.
By the fourth steep, the color is different. It’s a more intense, lemon yellow color. The flavor is similar to that of the third steep. The tea is a bit drying to the mouth.
This is definitely different from other greener oolongs that I’ve had. While I can’t say I like it as much as some of the more floral, more buttery ones, or yesterday’s milk oolong, it’s a refreshing change of pace. Some day when I whittle my stash down will I keep a Forever Spring oolong in it?
Not sure yet. This is the first one I’ve had so I’m rating it rather conservatively in the very good column. It’s a rating that is subject to revision with further thought and perhaps something else of this type to compare it to.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Honey, Marine, Pineapple, Sage, Sugar
Sipdown no. 6 of June 2019 (no. 78 of 2019 total, no. 566 grand total).
I took the last little bit of this to work over the past couple of days, steeped Western. I also enjoyed it cold a couple of times. It’s a good tea. Looking at my original note, I think the only thing that kept it from a higher rating was that I liked other similar oolongs a bit better — but it was solid. I can’t improve on what I said in the original note.
I intended to try this yesterday, but the day got away from me once the turkey was in the oven. So I decided I’d mix it up and start with oolongs today. I feel so adventurous!
I am guessing this is Da Hong Pao, despite the hood nomenclature. It walks like a duck. The leaves are beautiful and big, dark and chocolate brown. They smell roasty-toasty. Actually they kind of smell like toast, the kind one makes in a toaster.
Stepped in the gaiwan after rinse. The Zo is still at 190F (what gives) for short steeps starting at 15 sec.
The tea is medium-dark amber and smells mildly toasty. No sharpness. For whatever reason, I find myself thinking this would make an excellent iced tea. It has a rather singular note on the first steep. No surprising sugars or florals, just a straight up roasted but mild flavor.
The second steep gets a little more interesting. There’s something that smells a bit like camphor in it, though it is very faint. And some wood. It’s still smooth, though there’s a high note that tends toward some sharpness. It’s drying to the mouth. There’s a tad of smoke in the aftertaste.
I’m trying hard to get what the description means by malty here. I’m not getting that. The third steep is similar to the second, though I taste a note that’s sort of like coffee, too. This is one tea that definitely changes from steep to steep. It becomes more complex, too. I suppose this is a reason not to drink it iced, but the idea of having it iced still intrigues me.
The fourth steep is similar. I don’t know whether it’s because I still have a bit of a sniffle, but this seems like it can grab your throat the wrong way when you’re not paying attention.
It has more going on than the ATR that I found a bit boring, and has some odd things about it that don’t endear it to me as much as the Andao. Rating accordingly.
Flavors: Camphor, Coffee, Roasted, Smoke, Toast, Toasty, Wood
Sipdown no. 9 of 2019 (no. 497 total).
My experience has been that sometimes teas that are just sort of average-good really come to life when I cold brew them. This tea falls into that category. It makes a silky smooth, naturally sweet, green oolong cold tea. The milky aspects are somewhat subdued, too.
Basically, the aspects of this I liked are enhanced and the aspects that I didn’t like as much are muted in the cold brew process. I still think the rating is about right — it might have been a stretch to give this a 78 based on my hot experience of it, especially since I gave the Lupicia of yesterday lower and I think they were pretty similar.
The last caffeine of the day! And before noon, even. That never happens on weekends. :-) Huzzah for early starts and uninterrupted tea tasting and note writing.
I can’t believe I’m the first to write a note about this. It has been eons since Takgoti graced these pages, and she entered this in the database.
This is an obviously green oolong from the color and balled up leaves. I am expecting mega-unfurling as the tea steeps.
The dry leaves smell mysteriously like cotton candy. Huh? Maybe it is very sweet cream?
First foray — gaiwan — 195F — rinse — short steeps starting at 15 sec.
The steeped tea has a very mild smell. A little milky, not overly sweet. It’s a light, butter yellow color and it tastes like…. very mild, slightly sweet milk. Hence the name, I’m sure.
By the second steep, the leaves have unfurled and become huge. The color is the same hue, but slightly darker, and the aroma has a floral note. Gardenia perhaps. The sweetness in the flavor remains but has become a little darker. Not quite caramelized or brown sugar, but headed that direction. It still has a milky reference point, but not so milky that it makes a non-milk drinker (for flavor reasons) like me unhappy.
Steep three yields a deeper yellow liquor. Almost like liquefied butter, but clear. A mild, milky floral smell. The flavor is deeper, the milkiness turning more into butteriness.
I’m going to give it one last steep. Then I have to stop to move on to the rest of my day, alas.
The fourth steep hasn’t changed much from the third. So I feel somewhat ok about stopping here.
I generally prefer green oolongs to dark ones. This may have been my first milk oolong, though I can’t recall. I liked it, but having now experienced it, I prefer tieguanyin or other green types.
Flavors: Butter, Cotton Candy, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Milk, Sugar, Sweet
After having this last weekend and this weekend, I’ve concluded it’s another one of the 84 pack that I was overly generous in rating.
It’s certainly not a bad tea, but it’s tasting more like a generic spice tea than orange cookie to me now. Yes, there’s a kind of pastry note like I said in my original note, so to that extent it’s got the cookie covered. But the orange should be more prominent if it’s going to call itself orange cookie, in my opinion.
Mostly I taste pepper, cloves, and some coriander now — with that pastry note — but the orange isn’t really standing up to the other flavors.
Perhaps it’s age, but given how many teas I had sitting at an 84 rating, I think it was more likely that I was an easier grader back in the day. Bumping it down.
I’ve had this before but never written a note about it, apparently.
The degree to which the dry mix smells like an orange cookie is remarkable. I smell a very definite pastry/cookie note, as well as orange, and some spices that aren’t listed in the mix which I find fascinating. I smell more ginger than coriander, more cinnamon than clove.
The pastry note remains to some degree in the steeped tea’s aroma and flavor. But all of those spices I smelled in the dry transform into the listed ingredients. The pepper note, in particular, stands out — which makes the tea flavorful but less pastry-like. The color is dark orange-amber and clear.
The smell I found so remarkable returns in a different form as the finish and aftertaste of the tea. That pastry note does survive once the stronger spice notes retreat.
It’s a pretty interesting tea. I am not sure it is quite up there with The Tea Table’s version. I had that last a while ago so it’s hard to know. But even if it doesn’t, it isn’t far off.
Flavors: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Ginger, Orange, Pastries, Pepper
When I look back on it, I wonder what possessed me to buy this. It’s an odd choice for me. I don’t typically love savory teas, and lemon basil is a flavor I associate with roast chicken.
The first time I tried this a few weeks ago, I tried it in the gaiwan through multiple steeps but I didn’t take notes because I was (a) rushed and (b) I honestly didn’t know what to say about it. There was virtually no change from steep to steep. All I could think about was how odd the flavor was.
So I’ve pretty much decided that it’s not worth the trouble of multiple steeps. I’ll be drinking the rest of this Western style, steeped in the Breville.
In the packet, the smell is more lemon than basil. In fact the basil isn’t something I would have identified as basil if I hadn’t known it was there. After steeping, there’s much more basil in the aroma than lemon. The liquor is peach colored and clear.
The flavor is more subtle than the aroma. The basil is pretty dominant, the lemon less so. And yet it isn’t what I would have expected — it’s not like the run off from a roast chicken dinner. It’s not bad. It’s just not what I am looking for in an oolong experience.
To be honest, I’m not big on a lot of flavored oolongs, which is too bad because I seem to have a ridiculous number of them that I haven’t even tried yet.
If I was into experimental cooking, though, I might use this as a rub or a stuffing (to be removed before eating) for a roast chicken and see how that works.
As it is, I’m putting this in the sipdown-sooner-rather-than-later rotation.
Flavors: Herbs, Lemon
This was from a tea swap with Whiteantlers.
Today I’ve been busy with rearranging the house for new furniture and our home study in three-four weeks. So, to start the day with a solid cup of tea was a necessity. I must admit that I’ve been slacking on drinking more than Sencha lately, but that’s mostly due the fact that I’ve got nearly 2 pounds of it in the cupboard, and that it’s quick to make in the morning….
Now, to the tea:
I figured it was overdue to have a cup of this Nepal Moonlight from Whiteantlers, considering that it has been a while since I’ve received it. I have a tendency to be distracted from sampling teas, since there are oftentimes moments when I either choose something else, join group buys, or buy more tea.
Anyway, this was pretty good. I’d compare it to a Darjeeling. It has that malty quality, but it’s lighter. I get a little nutty flavors in the back of the mouth, but it’s mostly that malt taste. I’d compare it to dark chocolate, or perhaps a weak dark beer—however that works. After a few steeps in the gaiwan, it becomes slightly astringent. I hadn’t changed the temperature or the amount of seconds steeped (I gave it a 15s steep each time, with one 5s rinse to open the leaf a little bit; therefore, with the rinse, there were 4 steeps total).
The liquid has a nice orange hue to it; which was surprising since the tea leaves appear to be green-ish.
All in all, this was pretty good. I’m picky about WHAT type of black tea I drink. I usually steer clear of the malty flavors, or if I drink them, I usually add sugar/cream. However, I drank this without any added ingredients.
P.S. The soundtrack for this session was Electric Light Orchestra’s “Eldorado.”
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Malt
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Flavors: Citrus, Ginger, Pepper, Tulsi
I’m continuing on my Keemun craze. It all started with one innocent sample of Keemun Xiang Luo, and next thing I know I’m back to the tea shop to buy more because it was incredible. Then came the thought, “I bet this would go great with Stilton”, so over to the cheese shop I went. The pairing worked with a cheese other than the Stilton (actually Shropshire) as I thought it would, but I knew with the right Keemun it would work. So, back to the tea shop I went for more. I got some Mao Feng (this one) for the pairing, some Ho Ya A so I wouldn’t drink all of the Xiang Luo (they’re similar and the Ho Ya A is easier to get) and some basic Keemun (the Imperial) because once that Keemun spiral sucks you in…
Of the Keemuns I have, this is the boldest of the bunch. There is a definite smoky, roasted flavor. People who like dark roast coffee would find it familiar. Going hand in hand are other dark roasted flavors, mostly dark chocolate, but also some notes of tobacco. It has a smooth thick body, which given the taste, reminds me of a stout style beer. There is a little bit of a tannic bite, but just a little, possibly adding to what seems to be an afternote of spice.
Colston Bassett Shropshire was the cheese I initially had in mind when I was drinking the Xiang Luo for a Keemun pairing, but it didn’t work. The Xiang Luo just wasn’t forward enough, lacked in too many areas and just wasn’t quite right in others. The Moa Feng that I’m drinking right now has the bravado to stand up to the Shropshire. Harsher notes from the cheese or the tea were balanced by the other, new flavors were formed. A brightness formed that wasn’t initially there. Hidden flavors of dried fig and apple were revealed. Even the texture, became all around more fudgey. So far the pairing was great… but my favorite (and the most unexpected part) was the rind with the tea! The rind on this cheese is 100% edible, but it’s often strong to the point where you wouldn’t want to eat it, and the piece I’m eating is certainly close to that point, and by itself was pretty nasty. Talk about a balancing act. (when I talk about eating the rind, I’m eating it as part of a bite containing the interior of the cheese.) The tea completely washes away the harsh volatile flavors in the rind. The predominant flavors left are roasted peanuts, almonds, and chocolate. If nutella were made with almonds and peanuts instead of hazelnuts, it would taste like this. Finally, the pairing I was going for worked, and now the Keemun spiral can come to an end.
I steeped the tea western style in a ForLife brand steeping basket/cup combo. I used 8.9g leaves, 14 oz water, 202 F for 4 mins. I like a heavy brew with Keemun.
Flavors: Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Smoke
I found an old almost empty bag of this, way in the back of a cabinet. It is almost 2 years old at this point, so a fair review wouldn’t be possible. From what I recall it was a simple and delicious tea. I remember it having a really pleasant sweetness, but not much beyond that, other than that it was really affordable. I brewed some up today out of curiosity, and as expected it had suffered and wasn’t what it once was. I’m mostly adding this note to remind myself to get it when the spring 2016 comes around.
I ran out of this tea a couple weeks ago and forgot to review it, and they’re not selling it right now, but I don’t want to forget it. Absolutely delicious. It was almost all golden tips. I remember it being super smooth and rich. I never had trouble with over steeping or bitterness. Amazing value for a top quality tea. If they ever get it in again, I’m jumping on it, especially for the price.
Brewed it in the Breville this time. 10 g for 1000 ml water 170 F for 3:30 basket cycle. I’m generally hesitant to steep anything but black tea in the Breville. It’s still not anything spectacular (at this point, being a spring 2015), but it turned out better than I expected steeping it this way. Decent flavor, a tiny bit of sweetness and not much astringency.
Having some midday green. Maybe not fair to describe this one right now, because the 2016 should be coming out relatively soon. I’ll try to get some when the new batch comes in to be fair. The little dry leaves are a dark green with a tan tinge. After steeping the leaves expand a great deal and become a forest green with some rust colored streaks running through them occasionally. I’d almost say those rust colored spots look like oxidation but the taste of the tea doesn’t reflect that. The flavors are vegetal, mostly spinach but also a noticeable amount Nori seaweed (but not fishy). It is thin bodied, and leaves my mouth feeling dry, the same way that spinach would.
I brewed it in a 130ml easy giawan, at 170F, 6.5g leaf. Steeps lasted anywhere between 5 and 30 seconds. I got at least 10 steeps out of it.
A standard Keemun, nothing fancy, no bells and whistles, just solid, good old tasty tea from the Keemun family. I’m not calling it simple to detract from it, I say that because I find some Keemuns to be very complex, and contemplative. The backbone of this one is a malty flavor, the kind of malty flavor that I find to be the commonality throughout the black tea world, that which makes a black tea taste “black tea-ish”! I don’t really know how else to describe it. (albeit common to most black teas, isn’t always the back bone.) There are little hints of smokiness, and dark chocolate, but there’s no question that those flavors are in the background. The bitterness is halfway between standard black tea tannin and the sort of bitterness that the high grade Keemuns have, which is along the lines of bitter chocolate for me. (definitely a good thing) It is medium bodied and very smooth. Overall, great quality for something in its price range.
This isn’t really something something that I’d use for a tea and cheese pairing class, but since I’m eating cheese with breakfast, I might as well talk about it. Of course basic brie tasted good with it. It gives you that typical milk in black tea flavor, but also brings out the dark chocolate note a little bit, while subduing the little bit of smokiness it has. I also tried it with a Spanish (Navarra) sheep cheese called Roncal. It reveals the orchid flavor that Premium Steap lists in their description, but it’s still not incredibly detectable. The tea also helps bring out some of the fruit in the cheese, as it’s far from the fruitiest cheese out there.
I can’t wait until summertime. This will be great as an iced tea. It would also be at home with a big breakfast of bacon, fried eggs, buttered toast, and sausage… and lets throw some scrapple in there because I’m in Philly!
I steeped it in an automatic Breville for 4 min, basket rotation, 205 F, 9g leaf, 700 ml water.