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Recent Tasting Notes
I got this years ago – it was my very first gaiwan, and my first encounter with any brewing style other than Western (except for matcha). It retains heat quite well for a gaiwan, presumably thanks to the zisha which makes up the bulk of its body. The white glaze inside prevents it from becoming seasoned and provides a nice background against which to view tea leaves.
It fits snugly into its base and is easy to use with one hand – even a friend of mine who has quite small hands was able to use it without a problem. However, the lid is actually a bit too symmetrical. It can create a tight seal which requires some force to dislodge, risking spillage and potentially getting hot tea all over one’s hand. So, it works well, but requires a tad of extra care to use.
It was supposed to be a caffeine free day, but I indulged in an oolong around noon because I only had caffeinated teas with me at the time. I couldn’t just /not/ have tea, as I would not be home for at least an hour or two. Other tea drinkers understand.
I made a tea called “Taiwan oolong” that I received in a sample trade through reddit. I don’t know who they bought it from, but it tastes like a very high quality one.
I brewed this grandpa style because all I had was the looseleaf. It gave the leaves lots of room to unfurl. It didn’t overbrew, which I appreciated. As with most jade oolongs, this was smooth, buttery, and very floral. I wish I knew what company it was from so I could buy more. The orchid notes and the tulip and the butter…it was a delightful cup. Luckily I have about 5-8 cups of this left in the pouch.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Orchid, Smooth, Sweet
It is about time for a sipdown of the red rose blossoms I bought from ebay over a year ago. More like a year and a half or two years, maybe? Anyway, I drink it a lot, but I’m pretty bored of plain rose flavour. Also, I have to store them separately because they take in every flavour they come across and make anything near them floral. This takes up room. I still have a few pink rose buds from Grand Tea, but I’ll probably use those up soon, also. It is quite nice iced, but I get tired of flavours and I need to clear out my outrageously large stash.
Flavors: Floral, Rose
A rolled Yunnan Golden Snail black tea sample I bought from an aliexpress vendor. Quite a chance, I know, but it turned out to taste really good for the price.
The little rolled “snails” opened up during the steep (1.5 tsp, boiling water, 6 minutes, 700 mL) and the brew smelled of dark cocoa, tannins/flavourful, flavour is quite typical of a generic Chinese black tea. Tastes a bit malty and creamy, but not extremely thick or thin.
Flavours: cocoa, chocolate, porcelain, malty
I coldbrewed a little baggy of “Peach black” I found in my caffeinated tea drawer. I don’t know who it is from (who gave it to me or what company makes it).
steeped 2 tsp in 500 mL water. Took a few hours to turn deep amber and smell like peach. I checked after one hour and it was very pale. Enjoyable overall. Light peach flavour is nice, slightly bitter base though. 60/100
Flavors: Fruity, Peach, Tannin
“Taiwan #1 Shan Zinxz”
I think this was from one of LP’s past events? The little baggy only had a sticker that said “Taiwan 1” on it. I think it could be a mystery sample kind of thing. I am not sure where it is from, exactly. If anyone knows anything, I’m very fond of this tea and want to buy more, so let me know.
This is a really fantastic. Strong malty, sweet, honey. After taste of grain and brown sugar. I want to say there are some suggestions of chocolate, but I’m not sure because its in the background. Lots of honey. Yeah, it smells like milk chocolate, so I’m going to say there are some chocolatey tones. More similar to a chocolate muffin or chocolate loaf rather than actual chocolates.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Grain, Honey, Malt, Sweet, Tea
I drank “Strawberry Cream” (unknown origin) that I think might be a black base. I saww it sitting there in my tea drawer and figured meh, why not. I wanted to get through a few sipdowns today.
The black base is astringent and not great quality. I don’t taste distinctly cream or strawberries, either. It actually tastes a bit like Red Velvet Cake from David’s Tea. Maybe a a little bit of creaminess, but nothing to write home about. Disappointing! It also has a funky moldy chemical flavour aftertaste.
1/100, absolutely undrinkable
Flavors: Artificial, Astringent, Dark Chocolate, Mushrooms
So I drank a Chinese Strawberry Green Tea of unknown origin. It is looseleaf, but I’m not sure if it is from a good company of not, I got the sample from a friend.
It may have been my fault for not heating up the water enough, but I found it didn’t have a lot of flavour until I steeped it about 5 minutes (by then it had really cooled off.) It didn’t taste like much by 2 minutes, which is why I kept in it longer than I normally would have. It was a decent tea, but not the best green tea ever. Many the artificial strawberry covered the green base, I’m not sure. Overall it was fruity, sweet, and a tiny bit creamy.
Flavors: Astringent, Fruity, Green, Milk, Strawberry, Sweet, Tannin, Tea
A few years ago, a friend I gained from working in the yoga studio went to China and brought me back this oolong. It’s been unopened in my cupboard ever since.
I have been just craving and oolong to resteep and resteep all afternoon at my desk. I was on the Taiwan Tea Crafts website for far too many hours attempting to build the perfect oolong cart, when I finally gave in and emailed for help. Did you guys know how awesome TTC is for information? I received an email back very promptly – the next day (time differences), with significant information in order to place my order. Yay for new teas!
I’m on my second short steep of this (30 seconds first steep, 1 minute second steep). As far as this tea, it’s tasty, with that mineral-y taste I can pick up from some oolongs. The mineral-y isn’t my personal favourite, but I can appreciate it. It’s about mid-way oxidized, solely judging from the colour and that was perfect for my mood today. Not too close to green, not too roasty. Overall a nice, but not extraordinary oolong.
So not last weekend but the weekend before, my manager had be over for tea during our extended holiday break – I brought some sheng over to share with him but we also dipped into some of his own tea selections/stash and had some of those teas as well.
In total, we tried three different teas from his stash – all Gongfu! I didn’t catch the vendor names for any of the teas, and obviously I wasn’t there taking notes with each session. There was conversation about the tea, for sure, but also conversation about many other topics as well as a movie on in the background that we were also loosely watching. So here’s some bullet points for the things I do remember…
Black Tea – Stored In a Wine Bottle
- This was a Chinese black tea that he had received as a gift
- The tea was given to him in an emptied out wine bottle
- This was a short lived tea; not a lot of longevity
- However I recall it being deliciously sweet and fruity, with a coating mouthfeel
- There was also just an interesting novelty element of seeing a LLT in a wine bottle…
- It’s probably been a good, long while since I last had a Keemun as good as this one…
- Another short session; the shortest of all three
- Initially very wood and smoke heavy
- However has the jammy black currant undertone that I want/crave in this tea type
- Full bodied, mild astringency
Mucha Tie Guan Yin
- My least favourite of the three teas from his stash
- I personally feel like we were brewing with too many grams for the gaiwan being used
- Full bodied and astringent with drying notes of tree bark
- I think was a disliked was this cutting acidity and sharp high note in most of the steeps
Regardless, it’s always a great time sitting down and having tea with someone and I was really flattered that he took the time during the holidays to host me and dip into his stash with!
Not actually a tasting note, but the homework assignment for this week (week four) of Tea 107: Menu Design, Tea and Food Pairings, and Cooking with Tea was to pick any restaurant and do a mock tea pairing with five of their dishes. I picked a restaurant called Coney Island which specializes in gourmet and unconventional poutine. I thought I’d share the pairings I came up with, because it was really fun to do and I thought it’d be kind of interesting…
Restaurant: Coney Island
The Dish: Goat Cheese Poutine
What is it: Poutine Made With Goat Cheese With A Pesto Basil Drizzle
Pairing: Tie Guan Yin Oolong
Why: The fruity notes of the tea set off the tang of the goat cheese
Why: The greener notes of the oolong also compliment the pesto/basil
The Dish: Elvis Poutine
What is it: Regular Poutine Topped With Peanut Butter And Bacon
Pairing: Assam Black
Why: The bold cocoa/molasses notes of the Assam match the creamy/nutty PB
Why: The richness of the Assam also compliments the bacon
The Dish: Hangover Poutine
What is it: Poutine Topped With Scrambled Eggs, Onions, Bacon And Cheddar Cheese
Why: The high fat content/creaminess mellows the tannins/bitterness of the Darjeeling
The Dish: The Mac Attack
What is it: Poutine topped with 4 Mac&Cheese bites, served with ketchup
Pairing: Ceylon Black
Why: The Ceylon will compliment the Mac&Cheese and the ketchup
The Dish: The Corndog Poutine
What is it: Poutine Topped With Four Corndogs, Served With Honey Mustard
Why: The grassiness of the green pairs with the mustard and “corn” part of the corndog
Why: But the subtle smoke notes will work with “dog” part of the corndog
Tried another of POM’s Pomegranate/Tea Drinks since i found the other one surprisingly good. This time I went for Pomegranate Sweet Tea which is supposed to have black tea in it; the other we carry is a Tea and Pomegranate Lemonade but something in that one keeps separating in the bottle which turned me off a little…
I drank half of this at work, and I’m having the other half now. It’s not too bad; definitely a stronger pomegranate flavour in this one compared to the last kind I tried – but surprisingly I don’t like the black tea in this: it’s reminding me of Nestea or Brisk’s “black tea” kind of flavouring, but less sweet? I guess like a Southern style black tea, which is normally ok but kind of weird with a sweeter and slightly tangy pomegranate flavour. It’s still not too bad though, and I have to echo my feelings from last time and just point out that I’m impressed I can even taste the tea at all…
Eventually I’ll try that last flavour, but I’m in no rush to.
So this review is for POM’s Pomegranate Honey Green Tea; I didn’t want to add it to the database because even though there is tea in this it’s kinda more like a juice, and I don’t know if it counts?
I needed cashback at work on Saturday so I had bus fare ($3.10) so I bought one of those “impulse items” they keep near till/check out from work, and we have a display or “health drinks” there and I saw this one and thought, “why not”. It’s no worse than buying a pack of gum or a chocolate bar to get cashback…
I was a little surprised by how this one tastes; I expected the “honey” to just kind of be a general sweetness or not even noticeable but I think it was the most prominent flavour overall? Distinct, sweet honey with that natural rawness to it. Mmm! And then, surprisingly, the green tea was also pretty present which I was not expecting. A mild vegetalness – but sweetened. Pomegranate was also, obviously, a “check” but given I expected this to be the most forefront flavour it was pretty damn toned down.
All in all, I enjoyed it – and probably more than I would’ve a chocolate bar, and I’d try the different “flavours” from this company, but I don’t know if I’d buy this particular flavour again. It certainly wasn’t bad though!
It’s not gonna be long before my ears are bleeding now. Maybe even literally? Market Mall has started playing their Christmas music again and so far, from the sounds of it, it’s the same “Oldies” Christmas Carols as last year. Arghhh!
But anyway; a little ways back Sil surprised me with a bit of tea in the mail and, considering all the shitty things going on with Dollarama at the time, it was such a bright sparkly moment in all the dreary piss raining down. One of the little “extras” she included was this green tea latte candy from the same company I bought those Traditional Iced Tea candies from back in August(ish). I was excited to try it right away since the place I bought the iced tea ones from hadn’t had this flavour. So what did I do? I tried it right away.
Oh, pause that thought – UPS just arrived my the “Tit Covers” for the model magazines, so gonna go sign for them and put them up…
… And back. Censorship at it’s finest.
Anyway, I really, REALLY enjoyed this one. Far more than the Iced Tea version, actually. I’m pretty sure I know why though – I expected this to really heavily focus on the “Green Tea” aspect and less on the latte, but the reverse was sorta true so this was really rich and milky/creamy with a very full caramel flavour followed by a sweetened vegetal tone kinda a little on the lines of spinach (4090).
It took me forever to get thought the Iced Tea candies, but I think I’d actually plow through a bag of these ones. Now if only the gourmet candy store where I bought the Iced Tea ones carried this flavour too…
Grapefruit black tea from some company I can’t remember the name of (sample is at work), from the Tea and Cards TTB. Horrible. Black tea and grapefruit is just a terrible TERRIBLE combination that should never exist. I love grapefruit. I love black tea. I hate them together. The grapefruit flavour was spot on but the combination was just a sad, sad waste of black tea. Very blech.
Stuck my hand into my matcha bag and pulled out Sample #3 from Red Leaf!
In other news, I was so excited for the VoluntEARing opportunity for class today (we were going to the LA Food Bank and help out), but I woke up at 7:50 and we had to be there at 8… yeah it takes about 40 minutes to get there WITHOUT traffic. So I texted my teacher and told him that I wasn’t able to make it. I was so sad!
I was in bed at around 11, but I didn’t sleep till 5am and when I was finally asleep, I was tossing and turning all night long. Last night was terrible and I wasn’t able to volunteer which made today even worse.
So a cuppa matcha to hopefully make my day better, even if it’s already halfway over
Red Leaf Tea – Sample #13
Side by side comparison with Sample 14, 15 July 2014
Dry: Nice, bright, and lovely! It looks so similiar to #14
Straight: A darker shade of green for the liquor, but it has a nice bright froth. Both froth and liquor are lighter/brighter compared to #14. Hmm grassy. That’s it ahha. Not super gitter, but really grassy! Very matcha-esque haha
Latte: Nice and smooth but hmm… it’s just /okay/ right now. Not the best matcha I’ve had. The good ones don’t need extra sweetener on top of my vanilla almond milk to pull the flavours out, but this one tastes a tad bland. Good, but slightly bland on its own.
Suggested Price: $11
Red Leaf Tea – Sample #14
Side by side comparison with Sample 13, 15 July 2014
Dry: Nice, bright, and lovely! It looks so similiar to #13
Straight: This one has a darker liquor and a darker froth as compared to #13 as well as others. Now this one does have a bit more bitterness and grassiness to it. Not the best, but still good. #13 is better in this round.
Latte: Oh so this one is just okay. It does taste a bit more bland compared to #13! Huh, maybe it’s me? But the two matcha bases were just okay so that carried onto the latte.
Suggested Price: $9
((and with this, I’m finally done with all the samples!! Dang, that took a long time, but at least I’ve finished!))
Red Leaf Tea – Sample #12
1 July 2014
Dry: Dark, yet a vibrant colour. Kinda like the colour of the face up near the 100 rating!
Straight: Not bitter, and actually quite smooth! Dark liquor colour, nice vibrant froth.
Latte: So good, and so smooth with the addition of the vanilla almond milk! Definitely one of the better matchas I’ve had. I compare everything to sample #6 cuz that was seriously the BEST matcha I’ve ever tasted, but this isn’t quite up there with it, but just a few notches down. Definitely better than a lot of the other matchas I’ve had though :)
Suggested Price: $19
Red Leaf Tea – Sample #11
24 June 2014
Dry: Darker green, grassier scent.
Straight: Dark green liquor, brighter, but slightly duller froth on top. Bitter, but not overkill.
Latte: I love my lattes so much okay. The vanilla almond milk definitely helps. It took the bitterness out a bit, and added more sweet :) All in all, a lovely matcha, but I’ve definitely had better from the bunch that I received from Red Leaf.
Suggested Price: $8
Red Leaf Tea – Sample #10
30 May 2014, side-by-side comparison with Sample #9
Dry: Lighter than #9, almost like a Spring Meadow Green. Has a more leafy dry leaf smell compared to #9
Straight: Almost like a hunter green luquor, with a pale green froth. Not bitter :)
Latte: Ahh it was great straight, and it was just as great as a latte! Definitely finding myself reaching for this mug more than the other :)
Suggested Price: $13
Red Leaf Tea – Sample #9
30 May 2014, side-by-side comparison with Sample #10
Dry: Darker, not so much olive, but.. same shade, a tad brighter.
Straight: Dark forest green liquor with an olive-like froth. Slight bitterness detected.
Latte: Nice! But a tad bland. A touch of sugar (on top of the already sweet vanilla almond milk) is needed to bring flavours out more.
Suggested Price: $11