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Recent Tasting Notes
Thank you for sharing Cameron B. – I have a deep love of hojicha so I was thrilled to get to add another to my list of blends that I’ve tried!
I enjoyed this one a lot, although I found it quite mildly flavoured. It was very thick and toasty with deep roasted notes of caramelized nuts and grains – very golden and warming. I definitely tasted a bit of the cocoa flavour from the blend additions and I thought that was a very smart and pleasant addition. I actually did not get much in the way of spices though – I thought maybe I was getting a hint of cinnamon but I couldn’t be sure if that was my mind playing tricks on me or not.
Even if those spices didn’t come through, though, it was still delicious!
I haven’t tried a lot of blends from Steven Smith, so thank you Cameron B. for passing this along so I could try it! I saw the bits of rosemary in the in the leaf and was immediately excited and intrigued – I really hoped they would add a nice pine note to the blend. I didn’t clue in until just now, reading the Steepster page for the tea, that it’s meant to be a Christmas blend – so with that context the natural pine flavour of the rosemary makes a lot of sense!
This was absolutely delicious though – very smooth cup and while it was full bodied and thick in mouthfeel the flavour was gentle and delicate. I did get the subtle flavour of pine from the rosemary weaving throughout the sip and that made me very happy, but I also tasted a hint of vanilla, cinnamon, and a bit of a tarry fruit note in the undertone – it was super light so I wasn’t entirely sure if it was natural from the black tea used or if it was just a very gentle touch of flavouring, but I see now that it’s an added black currant flavour and that makes a lot of sense to me.
Overall, this is just well balanced and delightful! I don’t know if it’s the type of tea that I would want a full tin of, because it’s pretty soft overall and I can’t foresee it being something I would naturally gravitate towards heavily – but much respect and appreciate for the craft that went into this blend. Definitely comes across!
2021 sipdown no. 61
This is a bit of a sad sipdown because this tea exceeded my expectations. I really wasn’t sure how the chai spices would be against the hojicha base and never really felt in the right mood for this tea.
I was truly mistaken. This chai is really amazing. I feel the hojicha base adds so much to this blend, and I may possibly prefer it over a black base. The light yet deep roastiness of the base complements the spices so nicely. The spices have a great balance where no one spice overshadows the others. There’s also a sweetness here that isn’t cloying at all and while I’m not completely sure where it comes from, it’s welcome.
Thanks to Cameron for sharing another wonderful tea!
I’m sure everyone else who reviews this tea would agree and has in previous posts, that this is a unique blend. I’ve seen genmaicha mixes. I’ve seen bergamot mixes. But never have I seen a bergamot/genmai mixed together. It is calming and smells nice. It has a bit of umami mixed with roasted notes and a bergamot citrus finish. It is good but I’m not overwhelmed with the goodness.
Samurai TTB #61
This was the final teabag that I had pulled from the TTB a couple of weeks ago and has been waiting for me in my desk drawer at work. Although the quality of this seems really nice for a bagged tea, the flavor combination just isn’t working for me. The base tea is quite grassy and aggressive and seems to almost be fighting the toasted rice and floral flavors that are also present in the blend. I also find that it’s drying out my throat at the end of each sip. While I’m curious to try more from this brand, this isn’t one I’ll be returning to.
Flavors: Drying, Floral, Grass, Rose, Toasted Rice
I had not heard of this tea maker but a friend had commented on their Facebook page and that led to a conversation which led to her dropping off a surprise tea package for the holidays. Love my tea friends!
I really enjoyed this black tea. Generally I feel black teas need a little sweetener but I always give the tea a chance first. I added nothing to it and enjoyed this one morning before heading to work. I loved the scent of rosemary which is not a herb I would typically associate with a cup of tea.
Oh my, Smith, you’ve done it again.
This houjicha-chai tastes like gingerbread! And wood a bit, cause it’s houjicha. I can pick out notes of clove, chocolate, cinnamon, and gingerbread.
I find it resteeps pretty well. I plan to try it with almond milk too, hot and iced. I got a 2.75 oz tin, although I plan to send some to Sara soon. She’s the one who linked me to it.
Oh. I have some gingerbread. Dips gingerbread into the tea Gingerbreadception! Holiday overdose! Also tasty.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Wood
Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it! And Happy Holidays to all! ❤
This is my first tea of the day! I intended it to be this morning, but then there was an unexpected Zoom call with my husband’s family, so I had to jump in the shower and get ready for that, and then we were opening pug stockings.
So now I’m relaxing on the couch, watching Elf and drinking a pot of this tea. It’s not quite what I expected, but really good. The base tea and the cinnamon combine into a sort of creamed cinnamon honey flavor, which is reminding me of my beloved Taiwanese black teas. I start to pick up on a piney note from the rosemary about halfway through the sip, though it’s quite subtle. It’s strongest in the aftertaste, where it leaves a nice cooling sensation. As for the blackcurrant, I’m not sure I taste it specifically, but there is a sort of dark, rich, and syrupy sweetness in the background that I attribute to it. There’s also a light hay note, I wonder if there’s some Darjeeling tea in here?
Overall, it’s a rich and subtly flavored tea with a lovely sweetness to it. Looking at the description, it does have Darjeeling as well as Assam and Ceylon teas. Maybe next time I’ll try a slightly lower temperature just to see how that affects the flavor.
So far, very pleased that I bought this holiday tin set from Steven Smith!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Berry, Cinnamon, Creamy, Honey, Jam, Malt, Pine, Raisins, Sweet, Tannic, Tobacco
I had a very happy tea mail day today, with orders from Dessert by Deb, Adagio, and this holiday tin set from Steven Smith Teamaker. All the things! This is the one I was most excited about, so since I’ve finished all of my advent teas for today, I thought I’d steep up a mug to try. By the way, the tins are gorgeous and such nice quality!
Yum, this is very tasty. The hojicha base is, of course, cozy and comforting with a lovely soft toasty flavor and notes of nuts. The spices are light and not overpowering, and I definitely get cardamom and clove with a bit of ginger. I can actually taste the chocolate, and it’s very natural and goes well with the toastiness of the hojicha.
Tasty, I dig it. I’m very happy that the spices are light enough to let the base tea shine through!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cacao, Cardamom, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Sweet, Toasted
New tea! A can’t resist a flavored hojicha, especially not a seasonal one. This does not disappoint. The hojicha is rich and caramelly, and the cloves/cinnamon/cardamom are present but not overwhelming. There’s perhaps a bit of a chocolatey note, but nothing distracting or artificial tasting. So cozy!
A pretty good chai. I like the sachet. It is roomy enough to get a good flow. This is a bit blander than some other chai I have. I like a spicy blend and add milk and honey, so I want something that doesn’t get washed out.
Flavors: Cardamom, Ginger, Spices
I received a bag of this from a cupboard sale from Ost several summers ago, so thank you Ost! Now I see that bag has a “packed on” date from 2016, so this has been a major priority for sipdown. I had a Silver Needle tea not long ago gong fu style, but I just ain’t got no time for that when I need to sip down nearly 2 ounces of this stuff, so this has been my morning (and lunchtime second cuppa) take-to-work-thermos tea for a while now. I brew just slightly over 2g in 185F water for 3 minutes, western style.
The tea has a grassy, warm hay flavor. It’s a little sweet toward the end of the sip, a bit like melon water and slightly floral, like honeysuckle. Mostly it’s quite vegetal, slightly herbaceous, and very subtly floral. I’ve been getting a light pea-like note, as well. Probably not the sort of tea most people would choose as their first morning cuppa, but I’ve been enjoying it enough as I sip it down.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Melon, Peas, Vegetal
I got a sample of this tea some time ago from a cupboard sale from Ost, so thank you Ost! I decided to brew the two teabag sample in a small 500ml pot of tea for breakfast, using the new teapot I got from my mom for Christmas. It looks like a black cat and has two stackable teacups, it is so cute! She got it for me because I adopted a black cat this last August right after I bought this house.
This is a black tea with rose, chamomile, and citrus — I love rose-flavored blacks, and don’t like chamomile, so this is going to be a matter of how strong the different flavors play out in the cup for me. The tea brews a light sienna color, and smells a bit stronger in the chamomile than I’d prefer from the aroma… but I’m also getting a strong orange scent coming from the cup, which may damper that a lot in the flavor.
Normally I’m a big Steven Smith Teamaker fan, but I’d have to say this is probably my least favorite of their blends I’ve tried thus far. Even though I don’t like chamomile, I even don’t mind their chamomile blend, Meadow, all that much (something about how it is blended with the rooibos/honeybush and other flowers it works with a honeyed, floral sort of taste). This just tastes too traditionally chamomile for me to really dig it. I do definitely taste the rose and citrus notes, but it isn’t enough to really hide that particular chamomile flavor that leaves that kinda soapy taste on my palate. The floral comes on quite strong at the beginning of the sip, and I almost pick up a sort of pollen-like note as well. The citrus lingers quite heavily, which I think may be from pairing citrus flavoring with Ceylon tea, which often has natural citrus notes, and it actually leaves a faint sour/acidic note on my tongue after the sip. I pick up a pithy lemon peel and orange notes. The tea feels a bit drying, but I think it’s from the strong citrus… though I suppose the black tea leaf may have a bit of astringency to it. This is an older tea so I wonder if the balance would’ve been a bit better if the base itself were fresher, but I think knowing my personal tastes regarding chamomile, this would probably still end up being a miss for me. It wasn’t so bad I couldn’t finish my pot with my breakfast though, and I’m glad I got to try such a rare blend; I believe they only make this one around Valentine’s Day. Thanks for sharing!
Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Drying, Floral, Lemon Zest, Orange, Rose, Soap, Sour
A sample from LiberTEAS from eons ago, oops. But happy to report that since she used fantastic mylar pouches, it was actually still remarkably tasty despite its age. Some nice beany/vegetal notes, and no astringency.
Not giving it a rating because of age, but it would be in the high 70s based on today’s flavour, and undoubtedly higher in previous years.
I received a single tea sachet sample of this from a cupboard sale by Ost, thank you Ost! I am always a little worried when a blend includes chamomile (I don’t like the flavor of it, but can handle it in certain blends depending on the amount used/if the taste isn’t too strong in the overall flavor profile of the blend), but the one chamomile tea I can stomach is Steven Smith Teamaker’s Meadow, so I’m hoping for the best here.
The tea steeps a bright golden color and smells very floral, with a touch of honey. The flavor is… surprisingly pleasant! I can make out the chamomile a bit, but mixed with the osmanthus in the blend, I’m tasting more of a sweet, floral flavor, closer to a subtle rose mixed with honeysuckle. There is a subtle hay note as well, especially near the end of the sip and in the aftertaste, but the floral dominates during the sip. I think this is a pleasant tea for early evening.
Flavors: Floral, Hay, Honey, Honeysuckle, Rose, Sweet