191 Tasting Notes
This tea is amazing, even when you don’t use enough tea for brewing it. I ordered several sample packs from Tea Vivre, and this was one of the samples. On the label, they don’t give a quantity for brewing, only steep time and temperature, so I’ve been splitting the samples in half, and brewing each half with 500 ml of water. This worked okay for the first one I brewed, but not this one. I’m pretty sure I should have brewed the entire 5 grams in 500 ml of water. The first time I made it, I steeped for 5 minutes and had a not bad brew. This time I’ve steeped for 8 minutes, in the hopes that it would be a more full-bodied brew. I’m definitely going to add this one to my to-buy list. I’m pretty sure I have one more sample of this that I can brew at the proper strength another time.
It is 0 dark thirty and the dogs wanted to go out, so here I am. Who knows how long this visit to the great outdoors will last, so I thought a cup of tea would be just the thing, considering that I don’t think I’m going to get back to sleep.
I’ve lost interest in drinking the August Uncommon Teas now that my order from Tea Vivre arrived. I bought one 100 gram bag of one black tea (the name escapes me at the moment), and a bunch of samplers—one gift box of green tea samples, one of black tea samples, another black tea sampler that wasn’t in a gift box (maybe because those are the less fancy black teas?), and a ton of samples, since they had a special where you could get five samples free, plus then there were another three available when I checked out. My tea cupboard runneth over into a giant silver bowl on the counter filled with silver sample packs. It’s going to take me a while to work through all of them, and I’m ridiculously looking forward to the experience. there is something deeply pleasurable to me about just plunging my hand into the bowl and grabbing a random tea for the day. It brings a tiny bit of novelty to my well-ordered world.
This bai hao tea is my first of the samples. Its taken a few days to drink it, since I’m getting multiple steeps out of the leaves. I got three steeps from my first serving of the tea. The tea leaf has a delicate aroma, and the brewed liquid has a light vegetal, rather seaweed sort of smell. Flavor-wise, it has a creamy, nutty note that I’m really enjoying. I don’t find it to have a strongly grassy taste, which a lot of greens seem to have. I don’t think my palate is refined enough to pick up any fruity notes the tea profile mentions. I feel rather proud that I can identify some, even if it is by looking at a list of potential flavors and saying, “yeah, I get that.” Anyway, this is a fabulous tea that will probably go on my buy again list for green teas. I’m really enjoying it.
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Nutty, Seaweed
In the Mod for Love describes precisely the opposite way I’m feeling this morning—maybe I gravitated toward this tea in a subconscious effort to boost my mood—mood regulation through suggestion, I suppose. I had some disappointing news yesterday, which has my brain weasels out in full force this morning. What was supposed to be celebratory champagne last night turned into “drowning my sorrows” champagne. So here I am this morning, facing my own looming lack of forward motion in my life with nothing more than tea, blueberries, and the love of a few good dogs.
Anyway, the tea, what we’re all really here for. I altered my typical preparation for this tea, and doubled the amount of leaf. Rather than the 1 teaspoon per 250 ml of water, I used 2, and left the steeping time alone, at 5 minutes. Increasing the amount of leaves improved the mouthfeel of the tea, not surprisingly (I’d found it thin before), and didn’t make it overly bitter or overwhelmingly strong like I was afraid it might. Maybe Fujian teas need more leaf—its been too long since I had a straight Fujian, I don’t remember. Anyway, increasing the amount of leaf really increased my enjoyment of the tea. I still don’t get any chocolate notes like their tasting description suggests I should. What I’ve noticed with a lot of these August Uncommon teas is that I get a whiff of leather, which may just be the aromatic notes of the black tea base itself.
Drinking all of these flavored teas reminds me of my fundamental tea self: while I like the aromatic notes of the teas, I don’t ever really taste much. Its the tea-as-potpourri philosophy of tea drinking. I’d gravitated more toward straight teas, with the exception of genmaichas, which I really can taste the toasted rice note. After drinking several cups of these August Uncommon blends (I got 5, and I’m probably halfway through them all already), I’ve decided that I’m going to move back toward straight teas—the quality tends to be better because there are no attempts at flavor to cover up an inferior base.
This is a tea I would repurchase for the scent alone. Opening the pouch, you’re hit with a strong cherry scent (almost reminiscent of cough medicine, but not that bad). The prune also comes through, but not as strongly. There is another scent I can’t quite describe, maybe that is the note of armagnac, which I’ve never had. The tea also smells wonderful while steeping. The cherry isn’t as overpowering as it is when the pouch is first opened.
Drinking the tea, I think the prune comes through more than the cherry flavor that the makers note in their tasting description. Again, I can’t speak to any boozy flavors. The brew has a thin mouthfeel, but that may be because of my steeping.
A note about steeping: they recommend 3 T per 8 oz, for 5 minutes. I’ve not tried it there, that seems like way too much tea for the water. I’m afraid of getting something bitter and undrinkable, but maybe that would solve the problem of the thinner mouthfeel that I get from the August Uncommon Black Teas.
Flavors: Cherry, Fruity
This tea is a Fujian black tea, and tastes pretty much like what it is supposed to. Unlike my other August Uncommon Teas, this one doesn’t really have a noticeable scent other than the expected black tea scent on either opening the pouch or steeping. The tea is perfectly serviceable black tea, a little thin in the body, but not too bad. The scent of the tea when the package is opened and while brewing is a major selling point for flavored teas for me, since I’m not able to detect finer flavors and such when drinking. I’ll finish out the 50 gram bag, but I don’t foresee buying this tea again.
I was intrigued by August Uncommon when I saw ads on IG. I’d gotten out of the habit of drinking tea, but decided to try a few blends. Combray was the only green tea blend that appealed. The first time I prepared it, I brewed 3 teaspoons in 750 ml water and steeped for three minutes. The vanilla and cardamom were strong, but were overpowered by the bitterness of the brew. The steeping recommendations that come with the tea are wildly off the mark, in my opinion. Rather than using a tablespoon of tea, steeping for five minutes, using one teaspoon per 8 ounces is more than sufficient. The second preparation I made steeped for only two minutes, which yielded a much more pleasant tea. The brewed tea has a nice vanilla scent, and the cardamom vanilla flavor doesn’t overpower the green tea base. It seems fairly well balanced. I’ll probably buy more of this tea when I use up my current stash.
Flavors: Cardamom, Green, Vanilla
Three years! Its been three years since I last had any Steepster activity. Time flies when you aren’t drinking tea very much (that’s the saying, right?). Much has changed in the four years since I’ve been here. Well, maybe not at Steepster, but definitely in my life. Two different jobs, five new dogs, two new cats….its hella crazy at casa de Camiah. As I was drinking a sample of tea that I received from a fellow Steepster friend all those years ago, I decided it would be nice to take up the tealogging again. So here I am. First out of the gate is David’s Tea Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.
The scent of the tea is somewhat muted and diminished over how I expect it was when this sample first came into my life, but that should be expected after four years. That it had any scent or flavor at all was actually quite amazing. As before, my flavor tasting sense is not very great, but I was still able to pick up a fruity scent and flavor to the tea. The instructions on the baggie said to steep for only 30 seconds, but since I wasn’t sure the amount of tea I had would cover how much water I had to put in my Breville, I quadrupled the steep time, and the tea was none the worse for the wear. I think if I would have steeped it for only 30 seconds, I would have ended up with barely troubled water. It was a rainy afternoon here, and the tea hit that warm, lazy spot that demands tea on an afternoon such as this. Anyway, I have a cupboard full of tea that I really need to drink. Despite my not drinking a lot of tea, I had an occasional tea buy that kept my cupboard overflowling. My aim is to drink only from my stash until it is a manageable amount (by which I mean it fits in one cupboard). This is tougher than it seems, since I’ve switched back to coffee in the mornings, which means I need to resurrect my after-work tea to make any progress.
Oh my goodness. I’m definitely ordering this one before it goes away. I’m ordering LOTS. The smell, my god, the smell was divine. Banana bread, spot on. Both the dry tisane and the brew were luscious. This was yesterday’s after work tea, my relax and decompress tea. I needed it, mainly because I wore new shoes which on the walk from my car to my work building rubbed blisters on my toes. And then I had to wear them whenever I got up to go anywhere from my desk. And then I had to walk back to the car at the end of the day. I needed all the TLC I could get when six p.m. rolled around. This tea delivered.
I’m finding that between the Toasted Marshmallow tea and this tea, I might be relaxing my stance against sweeteners in tea. This one had raisins in it, which gave the tea a bit of sweetness, but wasn’t bad, as it (and I really hate to admit this) did bring out the flavor a bit. It was harmonious, like banana nut bread. It made the flavor truer. I’m finding, on consideration of the issue, that my stance on sweeteners may need some revising. Maybe I won’t automatically write off a tea because it has a touch of sugar, or stevia, or raisins, or marshmallows (when I think about what these flavoring elements actually mean to the sweetness and taste of the tea). What an earth shattering realization. Few things have been more constant in my life than my revulsion for sweetened tea.
Prepared 3 t in 750 ml water, at boiling, for 7 minutes.
You know how sometimes you just KNOW you are going to like a tea. It’s toasted marshmallow? How can it be anything but delicious. I love toasted marshmallows. I may or may not have been seen toasting marshmallows over my stove coils, I love them that much. I was so prepared to love this tea.
And then I tasted it. It was not bad. But I forgot that when something has marshmallow in the name, and has mini marshmallows in the dry mix, it is going to be the dreaded “s” word—sweet. I just am not down with sweet in my tea. I despise sweet tea with a passion. Chai, I will grudgingly admit, is robust enough to stand up to a little sweetness. But otherwise, sweeteners can stay away from my tea, thankyouverymuch.
I have to admit, it wasn’t bad, so much as just not tea-like for me. I’m not going to get rid of it, I didn’t dislike it as much as I expected to when I realized it was sweetened (there was a vague moment of confusion when I looked at my Breville and noticed the tea was opaque, which led to that “uh oh” moment). I think if I were more used to sweetener in my tea, I would have really liked it, instead of finding it “not bad”.
Prepared with 750 ml of water with 3 t of dry mix in my Breville.