8 Tasting Notes


Making myself a cup of this on my break from Spinzilla spinning. As always, drinking it with milk, since I think that enhances and supports the vanilla flavor, which is in line with what I’m looking for right now: a nice, comforting, reliable cup to relax with, since I still have a long way to go today before the to-do list feels like I’ve done it justice.

Flavors: Vanilla

1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Not very with it this morning, after one of those nights where I tried sleeping for a couple of hours then woke up to cat feeding time, but in any case, I’m in the mood for a nice refreshing oolong. Time to try my new (to me) peach oolong! Let me admit right away that my tea-making technique is not sharp this morning … I boiled the water and then let it sit for a randomish couple of minutes to cool, so the temperature estimate with this tasting note is approximate. First cup was a mostly flat tsp of leaves in ~7 oz of water (which I’ve entered as 1 tsp/6 oz because I didn’t want to put 1.15 tsp or something ;) ), steeped for 2ish minutes.

The dry scent of the leaves is promisingly peachy, supported by a layer of cool dark oolong fragrance. While steeping, the peach scent mostly disappears, leaving behind a light and rather unrevealing fragrance of the tea. Peach comes back in the taste, though, which is a nice balance of subtly sweet fruit and an oolong with clarity and an occasional mildly buttery aftertaste that becomes faintly astringent as I finish the cup. A relaxing and meditative tea that I can see myself craving again later.

Tried a second steep at 2 minutes 30 seconds and got somewhat interesting results: at first an unremarkable, weak flavor, not quite to the “this is almost water” level, then when I took a sip a couple of minutes later I was surprised by a burst of sweetness. Also, the mostly-cool end of the second cup tasted more like peach green than oolong (which makes some sense, as there IS green in the blend). Maybe I’ll try a second steep at 3 minutes next time and see what happens.

Flavors: Peach

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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After the rather disappointing encounter with ML Orchid Oolong today, I wanted something more like what I remember it being, so it’s time to get out the milk-scented oolong! I feel like I’m not going to do this tasting justice today, either, but tea waits for no one. 1 tsp/3g of leaves in 9 oz water, steeped 4 min in water just off the boil.

Dry scent: Green, growing tree leaves, plus creamy milk, with a rather aggressive bright note.

Scent of liquor: Medium bodied oolong with a bright leafy background note, an intermittent stone fruit fragrance, and a creamy overlay with a slight, not unpleasant mustiness. The cream scent intensifies as the tea cools. Makes me think of a sunlit research room filled with long wooden tables and shelves of ancient texts. (Weird? Maybe, but that’s how the inside of my head works.)

Taste of liquor: Light, slightly sweet, with a hint of cream coating the tongue lingeringly. A pleasant, companionable tea that would be cozy on a cool autumn day.

Flavors: Cream

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 9 OZ / 266 ML

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Still trying to get back into the swing of things after Irma. This Orchid Oolong arrived a few days after the hurricane passed, while I was still in the midst of cleanup, and I’ve been waiting to do a tasting note until I feel I can give it my full attention. Well, today still isn’t that day, but I’m drinking it anyway, because sometimes, mood trumps ability.

Steeped a slightly rounded teaspoon of leaves in 9ish ounces of water about 10 seconds off the boil, 4 minutes.

Dry scent: Cool, deep, fairly complex. Sort of sweet and bitter at the same time, with varying notes. At times a chocolatey scent comes through, or a zesty fruity scent, or the oolong base, or a faint cream underlaid by sharpness. Reminds me of a cool, damp, shady tropical forest, with mossy rocks and hanging plants.

Scent of steeped tea: Lighter than the dry scent, slightly creamy, with oolong sweetness and an underlying cool earthiness.

Taste: Would it sound odd to say this tastes like light amber? A light, refreshing oolong flavor overlaid by a touch of caramel and a veil of pale flowers, not much depth. Pleasant and drinkable, but not remarkable.

Five years ago I had a sample pouch of this that I remember being intriguingly delicious, and there are multiple reviews on the Mighty Leaf site that sound like they’re of the same tea I had then: unexpectedly floral, silky, full-bodied, addictive. I wish this tea were that tea.

Flavors: Caramel, Flowers

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Bliss by Yokotea
8 tasting notes

When a currently-Category-4 hurricane is aimed almost directly at you, when you’re hunkering down and riding it out, and when you have two days to kill before the storm proper arrives? Drink tea. (Hopefully, of course, it won’t be a Category 4 when it gets here; if I thought that was likely I doubt I’d be sitting here writing Steepster reviews…)

Pre-hurricane time is a good time for something soothing and unfussy, so I thought I’d crack open my pouch of Yokotea Bliss. The dry blend looks interesting, like the cast-off outer husks of something a squirrel would eat, not that I mean that in a negative way. The blend is just … browner than I expected; I was thinking mint chocolate, with an emphasis on mint, not cacao shells with a scattering of chopped up mint leaves.

Dry, the tisane smells like a Peppermint Patty, a cool sear of mint on a backdrop of chocolate. About a teaspoon of tisane went into 8 ounces of water just off the boil, at a steep time of somewhere between 2-3 minutes (making tea during hurricane prep doesn’t always encourage precision). The fragrance is dairy-reminiscent, like hot chocolate with a hint of translucent mint on top.

The taste? Certainly not bad, but not mind-blowing. The taste gives an impression of sweetness without actually being sweet, like cool water on a hot day, and the cacao comes off like somewhat dusty milk chocolate, without much depth or staying power, the taste dissipating almost instantly after a swallow into a vague, if not unpleasant, mint that also fades quickly.

The brew seems a little weak, so maybe next time I’ll try a longer steep time, never mind the instructions on the package, or maybe it’s that this tea has been sitting in the package too long for its liking; hard to tell. Still, not a bad pre-hurricane brew. It tastes decent, and won’t put me to sleep, but it also won’t keep me awake, and right now, that’s all I wanted.

Flavors: Chocolate, Mint

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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The dry scent is creamy and sharp with nutmeg spice, while in the cup, the nutmeg fragrance mellows and sweet cream takes over. Infused 1 teaspoon in 8 ounces of water about 15 seconds off the boil for ~3 min 30 sec, which produced a medium reddish liquor. The taste is smooth and accessible, the nutmeg and cream blending seamlessly and subtly into the tea flavors. Medium body, mildly bright without aggressiveness, and extremely drinkable without milk or sweetener. The subtle nutmeg taste lasts for quite a while after a sip.

I’m simultaneously interested in trying it sweetened and milked, and hesitant to alter its serene simplicity. I’ll probably give in and try it enhanced later … but for now, I have half a cup of untouched goodness that remains to enjoy.

Poetic waxings: I think of a cool, sunny spring morning in a mountain temple, with silence and green slopes and the fullness of the living world all around.

Additional infusions: Tried a second infusion at 4 min. The resulting liquor is a touch lighter in color and the fragrance seems minutely more floral. The taste is definitely lighter, too, and not one I think would stand up well to milk or sweetener, but the liquor is significantly sweeter on this infusion to balance things out. Better on second infusion than some teas are on first infusion, so I’ll take that.

Flavors: Cream, Nutmeg, Spices

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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The scent of the dry ingredients strikes me as caramel-tinged potpourri, which is, alas, more complex and interesting than the taste of the tisane, at least for me. A generous teaspoon and a five-minute infusion in eight ounces of water produced a deep red liquid that smells and tastes primarily of tangy hibiscus, with a little caramel at the end (although there’s no caramel listed in the ingredients) and the occasional hint of strawberry. The fruit flavors are mostly drowned out by the hibiscus, although there is a lingering distant sweetness after the cup is finished.

Flavors: Caramel, Fruity, Tangy

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 6 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Sweeter and lighter than I expect from an archetypal Assam, with only the faintest characteristic malty notes on the back end and increasing slightly as it cools, but a pleasant cup. Slightly floral, light-medium body. I normally enjoy adding milk to my Assams, but this one, with its more delicate character, seems to me to want to be drunk plain. (Note that I inherited this tea, unopened, from another tea lover’s stash and that I’m drinking it three years after its initial release, so it may or may not taste now as it did then…) It tasted just as good on a second infusion at the same temperature and steeping time as the first, which is another point in its favor.

Flavors: Flowers

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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Life is story, dreams, and tea.

As a mixture of Chinese and Southern American, I was probably destined to love tea, though it wasn’t until 2002 that I became voraciously obsessed with loose leaf and exploring the glorious infinite tea realms. I consider myself a carrier of Tea Adoration Syndrome more than a tea snob, and will happily consume virtually any tea prepared with respect for what it most wants to be.

I enjoy tea both flavored and unflavored, blended or unblended, with milk or without, respectfully sweetened or without sweetener, hot or cold, bubble or not — it all depends on the tea. At the moment, I mostly prepare single servings, Western style, often but not always with milk, though in the near future I plan on restarting my long-abandoned gongfu habit.

Absolute favorite teas to date: creamy oolongs, rose black, Earl Grey creme, super-malty full-bodied Assams

No affiliation with the company Crimson Lotus Tea, BTW. ;)

And for the curious, a few non-tea things about me: I’m currently a fiber artist; my degree is in anthropology; I have a certificate in web design and a few years of classical music training; and my resume makes it look like I know something about writing and editing. My favorite instruments are probably guzheng, electric guitar, and duduk. I’m interested in life, the universe, and everything. I almost majored in environmental science and physics, but a string of bad math teachers led me into burnout mode and I really ought to have taken pre-calc before calculus. ;) My online persona is infested with emoticons. I love old things and new things, and I’m better at extremes than at middles of any kind. Randomness is awesomely delightful, so feel free to drop me a randomness-filled line.

(Profile picture created from the photo “Red Lotus, Guinsa Temple” © 2005 Peter Garnhum, <https://flic.kr/p/3wBm1>. Used under a Creative Commons license.)

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