107 Tasting Notes

drank Orchid Tea by Teaopia
107 tasting notes

Okay, so I bought this tea along with a wee yixing the last time I went to Teaopia. (I previously found the whole concept of yixing intimidating, but this little one was so affordable, and I’d recently been thinking I wanted something special for Nepal Black, the first tea I got down to 1 packet of sugar with…and the first tea I anticipate regularly drinking clear. So I’m going to give it the yixing.)

I bought this one based entirely on the description of it. It sounded like a green that green tea lovers would prize. I’ve been so afraid lately that straight greens will never be something I can drink – I want to love everything in the tea world, but ew…drinking green veggies is often what green tea seems to be about, and I just don’t know about that. I hoped as I shelled out for this one that it would be a game-changer, that I would taste it and know that straight greens remain a possibility in my future as a tea drinker.

I’m not sure what to make of the smell. I sure don’t think that’s what orchids smell like. (My perfumed soap-and-lotion workplace used to sell a scent based on orchids, and I don’t remember it smelling like this…) I guess it must be what green tea dipped in orchids smells like, but it comes off smelling like…I don’t know, cooked broccoli.

The leaves, though! To my untrained eye, they appear totally unbroken. It’s kind of hard to scoop them from the tin because of this, it’s like trying to scoop up a teaspoon of confetti made from kid’s construction paper. (Wish I had a picture! Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be one on the Teaopia site.) I don’t think I even used a full teaspoon, because they were so large and I was concerned about them not having enough room to expand in my Perfect Mug infuser. Really, I think this is a tea for a teapot or even a gaiwan, but I wasn’t in the mood to pull my gaiwan out. I have a glass teapot my aunt gave me (the spout is chipped, but it’s free for that reason, so I’m hardly complaining), but she’s a tremendous slob and I won’t trust it until I scrub it silly.

And would you believe…I was so busy staring into the cup and trying to get a handle on the wet scent that I forgot to time this steep? What a moron. I think it was about 2.5 minutes, though.

It was probably a waste of time, because all I can really get out of the wet scent is…over-cooked broccoli.

And the taste…

Well, the taste is…amazing, actually. Yep. It smells like over-cooked broccoli, and I anticipated a disgusting taste so strongly when I first brought it to my mouth that my brain actually balked in confusion when it hit my tongue and my first impression was only, “Huh?” Because, you know, this is good. Really good.

It hasn’t got that ugly, grassy vegetal taste to it. Hot, there’s no bitterness to it at all. I absolutely cheated by putting honey in this, but, mentally comparing this to other greens I’ve had with honey, I’m positive this is naturally quite sweet. I will have to get some balls and try this clear to know for sure. It’s so amazingly smooth and sweet and calming…and if I just sit here holding it in my mouth, it’s rounded and it’s like sweet ball bearings in my mouth. I just wish I had more tasting experience so I could pick out any notes and describe them better. Again, I will have to try this clear and see if anything comes out more clearly without honey.

I have largely avoided greens, so I have so little to compare this to, but oh my god, this is good. The best green I’ve ever had, easily knocking every other straight or flavoured green out of the running. The only other non-black tea I’ve enjoyed this much has been jiaogulan (which I have a hard time not thinking of as a green tea, even though it is not technically tea at all).

Can’t believe I only got 50g of this! What was I thinking? Oh right, I was thinking I wouldn’t like it and would go through it slowly. Argh, funds are so low right now, but I’m thinking I will have to scrape together the cash for another 100g before it is sold out.

So! Seems I’m just picky about greens, but they are still open to me. Whoo!

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

Will be curious how the “without honey” thing goes. I like the combo (green/honey), but know where you’re coming from for sure.

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I tend to find that chocolate teas have something of an odd common…undertaste? No. Aftertaste? No. “Back” taste, is what I’d call it, as it’s a strangely dusty, somewhat bitter taste at the back of my tongue. Only really good chocolate teas don’t have it.

This tea smells like the backtaste of it would be strong. It’s an Earl Grey…with chocolate chips. My god, what an odd combination. And the smell is sort of icky. But I decided to steep it anyway, to try to use it up.

It’s not even mine, you see, it’s my mother’s. Evidently she and my aunt were in Banff for a knitter’s retreat (although why knitting requires retreating, I cannot figure – if they’re so pleased with themselves for knitting, why don’t they hold their ground?) and the two of them got excited looking around a local tea shop. She came home with three teas, but she was most excited about this one. You know. Because it has chocolate in it, and my mother is one of those people who likes chocolate brownie covered in chocolate icing and drowned in chocolate syrup and raspberries made out of chocolate and eaten off a chocolate plate with a chocolate spoon and spit on by a waiter with chocolate saliva.

But she hasn’t used up this tea (or the other two) in a year and a half. I don’t know – maybe there’s not enough chocolate in it.

So I steeped this up with some brown sugar, and it’s surprisingly good. I definitely understand the name; it certainly makes me think of kicking back in a warmly lit room and playing some jazz on the stereo. Hah, I don’t even own a stereo. It’s Earl Grey. With chocolate. It’s like a sophisticated, finely constructed armchair with well-worn cushions that have never been re-upholstered. It’s a bit bittersweet – which puts you in exactly that mood.

I think I’m going to go steep some more of this and listen to, “I Will Always Love You,” on repeat like I was last night. Not exactly jazz, but I think it will go.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

An earl grey with chocolate? That sounds interesting.


chocolate saliva LOL
I love the stuff to :P

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Discovered this stuff at the back of the top of the beside-the-microwave tea cupboard where my mother keeps most of the bagged non-Tetley tea she doesn’t drink regularly. (Not to be confused with the large beside-the-dishwasher cupboard we actually call “the pantry,” which is loaded with a horrifically embarrassing amount of my loose leaf.)

I recall, at one point, having bought this stuff for myself and having hoarded it. It was my own Earl Grey because EG was one of my favourite Tetley bags, but people kept drinking it up before I could have much, so I bought my own.

It’s a drugstore brand. I had to add it to the database, and, needless to say, I don’t have a picture. I think it smelled better at one point.

But you know what? It’s actually still much better than Lipton.

I’m getting half-way down the cup where the honey has a little more influence (dumb stuff, honey, doesn’t seem to like to dissolve), and it might even be approaching nice by the bottom. I’ll see.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Carrot Cake by DAVIDsTEA
107 tasting notes

I bought a sample of this from David’s before Christmas, as (wanting to save a bit of money at Christmas) I put together some tea sampler packages from my own stash as gifts. (Share the joy, eh?) Unfortunately, blacks are heavily overrepresented in my own stash, so I picked up a couple of oolongs and greens at the time to round out my sampler packs.

The first time I drank this was actually Christmas morning at my grandmother’s, and I have fond memories of that cup. I didn’t bother to test out the dry smell at the time (it’s an odd smell, like what you’d imagine carrot potato chips would smell like), but I did like the wet smell. When I brought the steeped cup to the table, my family immediately asked about it, and actually identified the smell for themselves as carrot cake(!). Well, good job on that one, I guess DT. In the wet smell, the scents actually seem to come out in the order listed – apple and carrot first, followed by almonds and coconuts. It smells quite good, if you ask me.

Now, the taste…the first cup I had tasted very good to me, but I suppose I was associating it with Christmas, family, my grandmother’s delicious Christmas Morning Wife Saver, etc.

I’ve had it since, and I don’t know what I was tasting or thinking. It’s not awful, it’s perfectly drinkable, but… This just isn’t one I’m going to get again. It tastes like carrots…and coconut, I guess…but they taste…flat. Really. The taste is terribly flattened. It’s like a carrot version of a Fruit Roll-Up – with no real sweetness or spice. And I’m not entirely convinced oolong was a good match with the concept of carrot cake to begin with.

I’ve been having it with actual carrot cake in the mornings for breakfast lately, and suffice it to say it suffers terribly in comparison. Although I’ve been told it’s fabulous as a latte, so although I don’t tend to take tea with milk anymore…perhaps I will try to save the rest of the bag that way.

And I swear, I drink tea that I actually like sometimes! Maybe I’ll even write about them someday.

175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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drank Earl Grey by Lipton
107 tasting notes

Oh. My. GOD. This has to be the worst tea I’ve yet had in my (I’m still insisting it’s short) life thus far.

I went to Humpty’s yesterday (oh, Humpty’s, night owls everywhere thank you for your blessed existence…) and had a wonderful breakfast of bennies and perogies, ahh. I also had apple juice, and ordered a tea, but pocketed the Lipton bag the server gave me (thank heavens) on the side and steeped David’s Nepal Black instead. What a lovely meal.

Well, that Lipton’s bag was still in my pocket today, so I scored some hot water with honey off SBUX and steeped this worryingly steamrolled-looking little bag. Good grief, I would have been better off drinking honey water.

The dry smell is nasty. Like tea dipped in some sort of cleaner. The wet smell is actually worse – my notes (yeah, I have a little tea notebook now, what a dork) say, “Cleaner and black pepper! Huh?

But the taste! Gack! Hurk! It tastes like a cardboard box shoved to the back of the top shelf of the closet in your spare room would taste if it were liquefied – oh, but not before you dunked it in Lemon Pledge furniture cleaner! Oooh, can I insert that little red >_< face from the rating scale?


180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Oddly, I find myself thrilled that you mention black pepper as one of the notes you picked out. I thought I was a little crazy because I found that to be a note in an Earl Green, one that was quite good, by the way! It must be part of the bergamot profile, but I had never seen anyone else mention it before!

Daniel Scott

Interesting! I’ve actually never picked black pepper out of Earls before this (hence my confusion), but I’ll have to watch for it.

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drank Berryblossom White by Tazo
107 tasting notes

Backlogging! Just wanted to note that I’ve now determined that it’s possible to get three steeps from these bags, not just two. I’ve been using the following times and temps:

-1st steep @ 75 degrees and no more than 2 minutes
-2nd steep @ 80 degrees and 3-4 minutes
-3rd steep @ 85/boiling and 5 minutes

Yep, you can pour boiling water on this white tea…

Although I have to note that I’ve been slightly unfair to Tazo. I recently got into an argument with someone who insisted to me that Tazo puts whole, unbroken leaves in their filterbags(!). I told them there was nothing but dust and fannings in Tazo. I was partially wrong! After the THIRD steep, when I held up the bag, I spotted something like 6-10 little broken leaves inside! How ’bout that.

Turns out that pretty much no stores near me sell boxes of Tazo tea, though. That’s probably a good thing, so that I don’t waste my money on this.

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I don’t think it’s fair to rate this one. I wasn’t sure if it was a fruit tea, or a fruity black blend, so I took the bag out at 3 minutes. It’s a fruit tea. Whoops. It’s watery as hell.

That’s okay, I saved it! I steeped my own filterbag of David’s Nepal Black in it. So now instead of watery steeped apple cider, I have a vaguely cider-ish black tea. It would be better if it had been hotter water to steep in, but that’s okay. It’s still an improvement.

…Oh god, so many crappy teas. I really need to start making my own at school.

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drank Berryblossom White by Tazo
107 tasting notes

Starting to think that I can’t actually give a fair review to any tea I haven’t made at home. I got curious about the white tea I chuckled at earlier, so I took a bag of this home with me last night and had it with breakfast this morning.

And…it was…pretty good, actually.

I steeped it fairly cautiously the first time, at 75 degrees and only for two minutes, and took it with honey. I wasn’t expecting much, but this one surprised me by being the most enjoyable Tazo I’ve tried so far.

It smells like artificial fruit in the bag, and it’s definitely got a strange, artificial-seeming aftertaste that is quite tart. I guess I’m supposed to assume that’s the “natural cranberry flavouring.” I don’t know. And I’m not very familiar with white teas yet, so I have no mental comparison and cannot comment on the tea, although I suspect it wouldn’t be nearly as nice without flavour.

Still, this one does, indeed, taste a lot like drinking blueberry muffin. I cannot taste cranberry at all, but I certainly don’t want to. Not bad for breakfast! I decided to go for a second infusion and see what I got out of it. So, in a “give no f-cks” manner, I steeped the bag a second time for about 4 minutes, at a hotter temperature (not sure what, maybe 80 degrees) and took it with white sugar (I hate wasting good sugar!). It was a bit weaker, but still not bad! So then I figured at school I will just go back to SBUX after the first cup and ask for a hot water refill and get two cups for the price of one out of them.

Which is what I did at school today…and the tea just wasn’t as good. I cannot figure out why it seems so difficult to get decent tea at school. Even stuff I bring to school just doesn’t taste quite right. I keep thinking it’s the water, but maybe it’s just the drinking it from a cardboard cup that’s ruining things. Gah!

I will, hopefully in the relatively near future, be trying some straight whites, and then I will come back to this and see if it still seems decent enough.

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Went to the campus SBUX late last night because it just about the only place still left open after my Physics class. I needed to do some readings for Film, so I stopped by and picked up a tall cup of this figuring, yeah…I really need to be a bit more Awake. Har-har.

I sniffed this wet, without the slightest idea of what might be in it. I thought I picked up citrus. Apparently the notes are meant to be caramel and black cherries…is Tazo kidding me?

It’s drinkable in the sense that I didn’t throw it out. But what the heck is wrong with this tea? I can, if I concentrate, perhaps pick up a faint taste like cherries in it. Slightly bitter cherries. Caramel is nowhere to be found, and neither is black tea! This is brownish hot water. Is someone playing a joke on me? I paid for tea! What an utterly tasteless cup.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank English Breakfast by Bigelow
107 tasting notes

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I’ve always been a tea drinker – I grew up drinking Tetley’s Orange Pekoe and their Chai, and considered myself to really like tea.

I’ve been working various retail jobs to put myself through higher education. One day at my store, a customer left a newly purchased bag of loose-leaf behind. We waited for three days for said customer to return, but they (likely not realizing where they had left their bag) did not return to claim the would-be brew. Too bad for them; lucky for me! I claimed the bag, took it home, and awkwardly made my first cup of loose-leaf tea with the only strainer we owned which was small enough.

I haven’t bothered with Tetley since. For the most part (and due to convenience), my patronage is limited to David’s Tea and Teavana. I also order from 52teas and Verdant Tea.

My rating system – hah, I don’t have a rating system. I rate teas a lot like Ebert rates movies. Everything’s relative.

I may often forget to mention it, but you can safely assume everything I drink is sweetened in one way or another – most rock sugar, or honey for green and white teas. I have not yet achieved drinking most tea clear. The few teas I drink unsweetened include milk oolong and genmaicha so far.

The guy in my avatar can be bought at Teaopia or here: http://www.jas-etea.com/products/Jingdezhen-%22Easy%22-Gaiwan-%22Blue-on-White-Phoenix%22-100ml.html

I currently work for Teavana. But I just work there, and my opinions about any of their teas are entirely my own and not meant to be reflective of the views of the company.

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