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Recent Tasting Notes
National Earl Day- drink an Earl Grey type tea. I choose Rosie Earl Grey. Not my favorite Earl Grey but it’s a nice twist. I don’t like rose black tea but it is really good mixed with bergamot. The rose is mild hot it gets a little stronger when it has cooled down. I love all the variations of Earl Grey they have out.
I love this tea. Yes it does have a more caramel flavor but I can taste the pumpkin. I really like it as a latte. Right now I’m enjoying it with pumpkin spice whip cream and salted caramel drizzle. I like that this tea is not like a traditional pumpkin spice. It is a nice change.
Flavors: Caramel, Pumpkin
I had to run to OTC today to restock on my wife’s favorites. I was looking around and stumbled upon this one on their wall. I snagged an ounce since it was more expensive than other white teas. The sales associate told me that this was one of the best chai’s in their inventory.
I brewed this at 175F and steeped it for 5 minutes, per the instructions. It was moderately watered down, but I could taste anise, almond, and cinnamon. I added a 1/4 tsb of honey, which only elevated the almond and anise notes. It’s tasty, but I like chai a little stronger and spicier.
Around the end of August, OTC had a massive sale on teas that were “limited editions.” This happened to be one of those teas. We blindly purchased a large quantity of this blend, uncertain whether it’d be good tea, but for $4 per 8oz, I thought that it was an alright idea.
I sipped it hot. I really tasted the roasted oolong base and didn’t get too much apricot. I set it aside after that first moment, and never bothered with it for a little while. My wife wanted some tea for iced tea, so she brewed this up. Turns out, it’s AMAZING iced. We avoided sipping down the last 8oz bag, but she wanted to have a pitcher ready, on the account both of our work weeks were insanely busy. Good thing, too, because I went without tea on Friday…However, we split the remainder of the tea today.
I really love this tea gongfu’d. There’s something about western brewing it that really makes it bitter. The one thing that’s good about this is that it doesn’t have that fake jasmine/perfume aroma or flavor. It’s quite lovely and really expands into a soft and richly sweet jasmine as the tea progresses.
Flavors: Jasmine, Perfume
I had a big mug of this earlier in the morning. I woke up craving green tea, but I hardly keep any green teas around. I enjoy them whenever I have some in my inventory, however, that’s not too often.
It was slightly warmer today. The snow’s melting a bit and it’s currently 25 F. I wanted to take a walk before work, and have a cup of tea prior to heading outside. I brewed this at 170 F and let it steep for 3 minutes. I’d say that this is more friendly than some green teas, and with a teaspoon of honey added, it was prefect for the early cuppa. Nice notes of umami and grass. The honey sweetened the tea a bit and gave the tea a little something extra.
I’ve one cup left, so I may go ahead and make it a sipdown.
Flavors: Grassy, Mushrooms
Backlog & Sipdown
Notes (1/10/22): Dry leaf aroma: Woody/hay
Wet leaf aroma: Nutty, woody, sweet
Flavor profile (gongfu’d): I managed to actually brew tea in a teapot and stack the infusions without getting too distracted at work. I forget that tea is steeping, and that can really ruin the evening when wanting to brew more tea; therefore, it becomes a coffee night, and that’s not fun.
Anyway, I got strong notes of grain alcohol. I noted “Scotch-Whiskey, minus the intense burning.” This tea can brew kind of sweet, if you throw 180-185F water into the pot, but I have no control over the temp at work, so having 200F+ water can make these things difficult. I made sure to be conscious of the tea session, so I flash brewed every infusion. The tea was partially bitey, but manageable. I like this tea quite a lot, so I can appreciate the bite from time to time. I’d definitely avoid brewing this for my non-tea friends because it can go well, or not at all. Toward the end of the session, I noted, “Alfalfa hay.” I think the flavor reminded me of the aroma profile of the alfalfa hay bedding that our gerbil loves.
I’m not typically into mate. I had a non-tea friend mention that this was their favorite from Ohio Tea Co. Naturally, I got a little curious. I bought their 1oz bag at the shop, brewed it up, and was immediately hooked. Mate is normally mildly bitter and unfriendly to my tastebuds. The mango in this blend really mellows the tea out a tad and it is bearable. However, the game changer is when you brew it iced. I taste mango and peaches. I liked it iced to the point that I went back to Ohio Tea Co the following week and bought 4oz.
That was in the summer and had allowed the remaining 3 teaspoons-ish sit in the cabinet since that time. I honestly forgot about it. This was a rare situation where I wasn’t hoarding a tea because I didn’t want to finish it off (it’s local, so I could drive the 15 mins if I really needed more). I discovered it while gathering teas for the work week at the office. I needed a jolt of caffeine to power through the remainder of the training week, and today happened to be the day that I needed it the most. I love this tea. I sipped the rest cold brewed in my thermos and had comparable notes to previous sessions. I’ll definitely have to grab more when we head over to the shop next week (it’s a monthly journey where my wife stocks up on her tea…and I try new teas, too).
Flavors: Mango, Peach
I had two sessions with this tea today. The first, I grandpa styled this morning while attempting to get motivated to go out into the rain to the grocery store. It was mildly chilly, but not as much as it had been the past couple of days. The tea held up nicely while running errands. I’ve a soft spot for heavily roasted oolongs, so this was quite nice with getting the day started.
The second, I gongfu’d for a little while. I’ve been trying to read more often, so tea was much needed to get the reading going. I stacked the first three infusions on top of each other and sipped at my leisure. I allowed the tea to cool a few times, and it wasn’t harsh or unpleasant. If you are a fan of heavily roasted teas this would be a good one to try. There are subtle dark chocolate notes plus a touch of nuttiness.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Nutty, Roasty
I’ve been trying a large amount of rooibos teas lately that I expected to dislike but ended up loving. “Surely this can’t be as good as it sounds,” followed by a recoil at the weird medicinal smell of the tea when the bag is opened, and some grouchy muttering when taking a begrudging sip of a tea that actually tastes like liquid dessert without any sweetener. (Case in point: I nearly wretched while making a thermos of chocolate hazelnut rooibos to take to work, but it’s astoundingly delicious to be sipping on right now.)
This one smells aggressively medicinal with a hint of orange peel and some dust in the bag. Pretty sure the dust aroma is from the bee pollen and chamomile. The aroma is even more perturbing when it steeps. However, let it cool down a bit and it tastes like a creamsicle. Sweet tangerine and orange with a kick of honey and whisper of vanilla. It took effort to not chug the rest of the mug when I made it last night. I’m now on the 5th rooibos blend in a row that has far exceeded my expectations and it’s starting to frighten me. Sooner or later, one of these has to taste like cough syrup and mud, and the chance of that happening is growing steeper with every cup.
Flavors: Citrus, Creamy, Honey, Orange, Sweet, Vanilla
I went to OTC yesterday after working to get some herbal blends for my wife. I stumbled upon their new teas and grabbed a couple for myself, too. The owner and I talked about the new green teas that they have in stock. Despite my emphasis on avoiding green teas, they suggested that this was superior to the rest. I couldn’t be convinced to spend $35/ 1oz. He openly offered me a 6g sample and requested that I email my review of the tea. He was curious to what a non-green tea fan thought of it.
I asked a IG friend’s advice on brewing Gyokuro. They sent me a link to Mei Leaf’s ‘Umami’ brewing method.
First infusion: room temperature for 15 minutes. Strong notes of shiitake mushrooms, buttered almonds, cooked spinach, and seaweed.
Second infusion (160 F, 2.5 minutes): Rice cakes, seaweed, and strong umami notes.
Third infusion (160 F, 3.5 minutes): Less of the second, but still remained the same.
The fourth infusion was a bust, but I was feeling energized and motivated to get some house work done. I was told that Gyokuro was a great tea to eat. After hesitating for a minute, I threw the used leaves on a plate, added a touch of sesame oil, and chia seeds. Yum! More energy, but quite a treat for sure…
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Mushrooms, Rice, Seaweed, Spinach
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Boring. ‘Soft’ mouthfeel is right- there’s not enough happening in here for anything to wake up your tongue. There’s okay-ish white tea and a blueberry note. If you don’t like your tea slapping you in the face, maybe this is for you. It was not for me. It’s not offensive, however, which fruited teas can certainly be if they go too far in the direction of lively, so I understand the rational behind being conservative.
Flavors: Blueberry, Grass, Sweet, Tea
I drank the last of this grandpa style the other day. It’s a very easily approachable tea; which doesn’t seem to have the ability to be over-brewed. I suppose since it is shou, it’s more common than not. I drank this since I had an upset stomach, and while not settling my pain too much, it helped a little.
Notes: Thick mouthfeel, earthy, mushroom, and sweet. I’d probably offer this to a puerh newbie, if they wanted to try a shou.
What a lovely introduction to fermented teas! I poured boiling water over a heart in my 16 ounce teapot, used a fork to gently pry it apart after it had softened for a couple minutes, and then let it steep for about 5 more. The rose aroma is strong, but not overpowering, and it mingles beautifully with the darkness of the pu’erh. There wasn’t a bit of bitterness or astringency in the cup, it’s just a smooth dark floral with woody notes that’s terribly easy to sip. Not a fishy or mushroom note in sight, either, which was my main fear with fermented leaves. The flavor held for a couple more steeps without weakening. I think I went through 40 ounces of water before the rose started to fade, and at that point, I had to stop to limit my caffeine intake for the evening. I’ll be buying more of these when I work my way through the rest of the 2 ounces and sending a few out to friends for them to try.
Flavors: Dark Wood, Rose, Smooth
I’ve been drinking this since 6:30 this morning and it’s still going. I typically give the first few steeps about 20-30 seconds before pouring it into the cha hai. I change the time based on the intensity of the flavor.
I get strong notes of roasted walnuts, dark rich coffee, chocolate, sweet, and malt. On the account there being so many infusions, I tend to stop noting after a while. I like that longevity keeps on giving and that the price is reasonable. I tend to keep this in my inventory at all times, on the account that it brews well gongfu, western, or grandpa style. I tend to drink it gongfu at home or allow the leaves to sit in my thermos at work.
I typically stay away from rooibos, but OTC has a knack for blending. Their herbs person there just understands how to hide the rooibos and/or bland tea bases. I think that the mix of ingredients fit perfectly, despite my not liking some in most situations.
Peppermint candies from Olive Garden (Andes?). Strong peppermint, smooth chocolate notes, and a slight caramel finish.I dig it.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Peppermint
I’m not sure if OTC still carries this in their store anymore. I think they traded it out for their 2014 Fu Cha Brick.
Anyway, it’s quite a nice tea. Some complexity to the brew—dark chocolate, malty, strong mineral-ity, astringent, sweet, bold, and stone fruits. I started drinking this at 08:00 EST, but it’s still going strong. I didn’t count the amount of times that I steeped it, although I did go through three kettles full of water. Nice longevity and it’ll probably brew throughout the remainder of the day, is my guess.
Flavors: Astringent, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Mineral, Stonefruit, Sweet