28 Tasting Notes
I tried this unique ‘glacial’ tea at a small ‘Tea Art’ (read: tea and teaware) shop in Perth, Australia and had to buy some despite the fairly serious price tag (ok, so maybe I’m a sucker for making a purchase when I’m at a ‘free tasting’!).
It really is a unique tea though: the ‘glacial’ refers to the fact that the tea is frozen fresh in vacuum sealed pouches, rather than dried. The proprietors claim to have invented the technique (I forget the story but something about tea-growing family’s scientist daughter comes home and starts experimenting). I love the idea of this freshness and it is the first time I’ve heard of this. I guess the added hassle and expense of producing and shipping a tea that has to be vacuum sealed and remain frozen is a bit prohibitively expensive for most producers…
So does all this extra effort actually produce a better tea? Well, I think so, yes. Here’s my tasting notes:
As per the advice I refreshed the tea and then steeped for only quick periods (4sec, 10sec, 15sec, 25sec, 45sec). I brewed in my little Yixing clay teapot.
Leaves: wet, dark green, large full leaves once defrosted.
Aroma: Amazingly floral, with white flowers and even light jasmine. Light sugarcane and the faintest whiff of lemon zest. There is something quite unique in there too that I just can’t put my finger on. The second steeping has all the same character but with a more rounded, honeyed bouquet. Hints of white peach. The third and fourth steepings produce a more herbatious nose that is still entirely floral but has a to be honest slightly chemical edge to it (albeit not unpleasant). Lemon and honey notes are becoming more developed.
Palate: Delicate and well balanced, with complex floral overtones matched against a freshness that is in the same spectrum as ‘grassy’ and ‘herbaceous’ but at the same time something completely different. There is an underlying citronela character that floats somewhere between eucalyptus and lemon leaves. The second steeping produces a richer flavour profile, with mellow buttery notes and a velvety smooth mouthfeel. Subsequent steepings develop slightly biscuity character, with the lemon-lime zestiness, white flowers and rich undertones still there. The palate is sweet and has good length at each steeping. The fifth steeping is (finally) a little more subdued, but still entirely pleasant.
Overall: This is a very ‘pretty’ tea, yet still displays enough depth and complexity to keep me interested till the last sip. I love this tea for something a bit different, and it really is one of the better green oolongs I’ve tried – so much complexity over multiple steepings. I’m sure the fresh-frozen technique must carry some added health benefits too (let me dream!) and as always I love the organic status.
Price: AUD$45 for 20 single-serve packs.
If I had to choose just one favorite tea variety to accompany me on my desert island, ‘Green’ Oolongs would have to be my choice. They are the tea I always return to and therefore finding a good value ‘staple’ for the pantry is a life’s work. When it comes to value for money, this is the best I’ve found in some time.
Nose: Sugarcane and cut grass. Medium intensity nose. Building frangipani notes. Second steeping is still fragrant with big floral notes, however lacks some of the complexity of the first steeping. Third is slightly more muted again, but still pleasant.
Palate: Quite fresh, but with a sweet, slightly buttery aftertaste. Subtle. Some floral notes with light peach and sugarcane. Frangipani notes build as tea cools. Taste is more developed and complex on second steeping. Floral notes and nutty, buttery goodness are there in abundance. Faintest hint of grass. Lasting sweetness.
Overall: Cheap and delicious! This tea has the flavour and complexity of teas four times the price. My new go-to daily tea!
This tea is not cheap. But then who wants to drink cheap tea when you can drink AMAZING tea?! I’m sold.
Aroma: Delicate. Floral. Delicious. Rose petals, frangipani, melon and sugarcane play with balanced straw notes. Apricot jam and dried flowers come through on the second steeping, with straw characters starting to dominate after the third cup.
Palate: Deliciously subtle and sweet. An ethereal but enticing bouquet of sugarcane and straw notes with a balanced floral background. Sweet sugar cane and rose petals stay with you well after the last sip. Deeper straw notes shine on the second steeping, but the overall effect is still beautifully light and sweet.
Overall: Fantastic. I really loved this tea. Expensive but worth every cent.
I’ve been keen to try a few Northern Thailand teas lately, having spent a bit of the time in the region but never quite finding a green tea that knocked my socks off. This tea will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF, for better or worse – it has flavor by the overcrowded-thai-busloads. This pervasive character will likely make as many enemies as it does friends, but It is a tea you simply have to try for yourself. Peerless and delicious. When I first tried it I thought it was delicious but perhaps not a tea i’d be reaching for every day, but I’ve actually been surprised by how often I crave a cup. And when you crave a cup of Cha Khao Hoom, not much else will hit the spot.
Aroma: Ok I’m going to say it: the aroma of this tea is a dead-ringer for Thai weed (or cough so I’m told) – like a smelly, funky tropical forest floor – dank, woody and earthy. Ok back to planet earth… Skunk aside, the unmissable character of this tea is that of fresh steamed rice. Wildly comforting and delicious. Rich, toasty, slightly smoky wood aromas are there – reminiscent of a Dan Cong or other roasted Oolong. Popped corn and straw are in there too. The aroma holds fast for 3, 4… 5 steepings. This tea has legs.
Palate: All the warm comfort and full-bodied flavor of a big bowl of steamed rice. Mellow, subtly fragrant, slightly toasty and entirely wholesome. That thai bud ‘dank’ toastiness is in there too (ok enough of that now). Popped corn, subtle pine needle notes and a very slight fresh grassiness round out the palate. Very low tannin and a lingering sweetness. Like the nose, the palate stays punchy for a good five or so steepings, making this tea ridiculously good value.
Overall: A very comforting drop that cant help but sweep me off to Thailand. This tea is really something different. Not the only tea I’d want to own but definitely one I want in my cupboard at all times.
SO I received a sample of this from T2 and wrote some tasting notes, unbeknown to myself that I’d actually tasted and reviewed it a few months earlier! I thought I’d post this anyway for the sake of objectivity. Lo and behold It turns out I actually seem to have enjoyed it far more this time round (ok so maybe this discrepancy just throws my palate/reviewing into question, but I’m going to put it down to a shorter steeping time!). Note this review is unedited after reading my first, so the differences (and similarities) are open to see, warts and all.
Aroma: A more vegetal Jasmine than often encountered. Still with a strong floral kick but well balanced with earthy green tea aromas rising up against the sweet jasmine. An altogether more balanced Jasmine green tea than most. Hint of hazelnuts and smoke add backbone to the aroma. Let’s be honest though, this is still a jasmine tea, and JASMIN is what you get!
Palate: Rich yet not overt in any one direction. Jasmine floral notes are ever-present yet well restrained (unlike most Jasmine teas out there). A real fruity palate plays well with the jasmine, with peach and fruit salad notes present but, again, restrained. Nice to get some earthy green tea notes showing as well, and there’s loads of sweetness going on here too (for better or worse). Good depth and a mellow buttery after taste with no bitter tannin. This tea has good length to the palate too, with sweet jasmine still present well after you’ve taken your last sip. At 2mins steeping I found the flavour fully developed but not overpowering, but I’d be hesitant to go any longer.
Overall: I have a love-hate relationship with Jasmine teas. It’s rare that I find one that you can actually appreciate the ‘tea’ behind the jasmine. That is not to say that I don’t like the taste of jasmine, quite the opposite, but I definitely prize balance over flavour. I have to say this is one of the better balanced green jasmine teas I’ve drunk in a while. And the organic status is a plus. I almost feel like I need to try it again just to make sure I like it as much as I think I do (watch this space). Until then, I’ll just go back to enjoying my cup.
[Note: Ha! Just goes to show how taste can change from day to day, and how a change in steeping time can change a tea. Looks like the shorter steeping produced a more delicate, balanced tea, and took away the ‘sting in the tail’ of my first review].
There is a certain, textbook flavour that we all associate with ‘green tea’ – that grassy brew that seems common to all cheap green teabags yet few actual varieties of ‘real’ green tea. Well, now I have found the tea which exemplifies this flavour! And I’m less than impressed…
Aroma: Slightly smoky with a pervading deep grassiness and a herbacious edge.
Palate: Rich and grassy, with good depth and length. Subtle smokiness. Slight astringency. Fresh but bold. Similar to a gunpowder green but with less of a smokey earthy richness.
Overall: This is a green tea that is full of flavour. Unfortunately, it isn’t a flavour that I am particularly keen on. Despite the blurb saying it doesn’t have a grassy flavour, I get it in abundance. I’d recommend this for those who ‘like green tea’ but haven’t really strayed from the supermarket brands. To me it is a finer quality (less bitterness, due to whole loose leaves not cut pieces) example of the same flavour spectrum. Think that classic, grassy, slightly astringent brew that we all associate with our first cup of green tea (unless you were lucky enough to grow up in Asia, of course). Frankly though, I don’t like this tea. Why drink ‘nice’ tea if it just reminds you of the cheap stuff?
For a green tea lover I have to say I don’t often reach for the jasmine teas – I’m more often than not disappointed with what I find: too much jasmine wiping out the tea (ok, so I know its called jasmine tea for a reason). But one thing I do love is a cool jug of iced jasmine tea, and as summer is on the way I started my hunt for a go-to jasmine. On this particular afternoon on the porch though I felt like a warm glass so the review is for hot tea.
Nose: Heady jasmine notes. More rich and deep than delicate and complex. Real nougat sweetness runs through and almost dominates the nose. Handles a second steeping well with more of the same sweet dewey jasmine.
Palate: A full bodied, hearty jasmine tea. A strong green backing rounded out with a sweet jasmine that is well in balanced but lacks a little delicateness. Floral notes (duh!) with pine needles and a bit of damp ‘forrest floor’ mustiness. Has a real green tea ‘sting in the tail’ but with only a very slight astringency. This is definitely a jasmine tea for people who like to know they are drinking a green tea – no ‘flower water’ going on here. A second steeping at a slightly lower temp produced a lighter and in my opinion more appealing palate that let the jasmine shine through a bit more. This is the sort of Jamsime tea that would stand up well to food (shanghai dumplings, thanks).
Overall: I prefer my jasmine teas light, delicate and complex rather than deep and rich so to be honest this isn’t my sort of jasmine tea. That being said, I also find a lot of jasmine teas are too heavy on the jasmine for my taste and often lack balance, whereas this tea shows a good deal of restraint on the jasmine, or at least backs it up with plenty of green tea punch. Organic status always wins a few points with me, but despite this, I probably won’t be buying this again.
My dad drinks his green tea (gyokuro) so strong we often joke it is like matcha. So this year for fathers day I thought I would cut to the chase and source him some real matcha. Which may or may not have just been a convenient way of scratching my own itching desire to try matcha myself and getting a fathers day gift out of the way at the same time (yes I have one of those ’hardest fathers in the world to buy presents for).
As a lover of green tea and Asian (especially Japanese) culture matcha and the tea ceremony has always held a special allure for me. So needless to say this was a step in my tea-drinking life I was excited to take.
I scoured the internet for a high quality, traditional, but not exorbitantly expensive matcha and O-Cha’s Organic Matcha Kaoru Supreme was what I found. I’m concerned about ingesting pesticides etc at the best of times, so for matcha, where you are actually eating the leaf, one of my fixed criteria was that it be organic. This was the tea I went for, and these are the tasting notes:
Aroma: Vegetal and very grassy. Slightly roasty undertones (like the toasted rice in an Gen Mai Cha). Not surprisingly, the nose is like a concentrated gyokuro or grassy sencha.
Palate: Wow. Like a fist full of green tea in the face. Loads of up-front green grassy flavour backed with an astringent bitter edge. Gives way to a well rounded toasty backbone but that lingering bitterness is ever present and stays with you long after your last sip. This is definitely not a taste for everyone! Of the four of us who sipped on this particular morning, the responses went something like this:
Dad: ‘Mmmm, bitter but great’
Me: ‘Wow – full on. I like it but would have to be in the mood for some serious tea action’
Mum: ‘Ooh no. I’d drink it for a tea ceremony, but not because I like it!’
Girlfriend: ‘Oh my. Yuk’
Overal: As a matcha virgin I don’t feel overly qualified to comment on the quality of this particular variety. However as for matcha itself it is certainly not for the faint hearted, but a pretty incredible tea drinking experience. I love the process (even without the full tea ceremony) of making this tea and I like that macha packs way more green tea goodness into one drink. In short, I think I’ll get myself some matcha, it wont be my every day drink, but I’ll look forward to the ceremony, the experience, and the extra caffeine on a weekend morning!
Oh my. I loved this tea. It is very similar to a Pi Lo Chun (in my lowly opinion), which is perhaps why I was as excited when I first smelt this brew as I was when I stumbled across T2’s Pi Lo Chun. I’m surprised by how similar the two teas are given Pi Lo Chun is typically from Fujian province and this is from distant Yunnan province (both in China). I’d love to know more about the similarities/differences of the two teas.
Aroma: Hops and passionfruit with a little waft of seaweed/ iodine. Slightly vegetal. Fresh, balanced and enticing. Unfortunately the aroma fades slightly as the tea cools. A more potent (less water, longer steeping) second steep produced a bolder nose with almost a sharp woodiness and hints of sap and pine needles – I guess that is the ‘sting in the tail’ they mention in the blurb!
Palate: Delightful. Peaches and apricots, with subtle savory vegetal notes. Fresh and ever so slightly grassy, but not in that typical astringent ‘cheap green tea’ way. Lots of flavor but with great balance. Stronger second steeping brings out a slight bitter edge (I probably over did it a little!) but still has great fruit bouquet shining through.
Overall: Move over Pi Lo Chun (T2) – this is my new ‘tea of the moment’. Both pack the same great flavor profile but this T&S Yunnan green is almost half the price! And as much as I love T2 I’ll support a local tea shop over a big company any day of the week. I love this tea for its aroma and flavor, but the added bonus is its unbelievable value (ok, I’ll settle done and stop sounding like an advertisement now!). I would probably brew it for a bit longer than the listed time next time to get even more of a flavor punch. I got this as a sample with a big order from T&S but I will definitely be adding it to the list on my next shop! Yummm.