240 Tasting Notes


More new stuff from Red Blossom. From the Red Blossom website:

“Harvested late spring 2016 in Yunnan Province, our Yunnan Pearl uses the young buds along with two or three more mature leaves from the top of the plant. As the tea oxidizes, the youngest leaves become a bright golden color, while the mature leaves turn a deep black color. These tea leaves were carefully hand picked, sun withered, rolled to bruise the leaf, and then allowed to slowly oxidize before roasting.

The result is rich, deep, and smoky, with a lovely bittersweet finish akin to cacao nibs."

Sounds about accurate. The aroma is sweet, subtle, and velvety. The taste adds a bit of that bittersweet finish in a nicely balanced flavor, a bit malty, but still buttery smooth with sweet overtones, and a hint of smoke on top.

A great black tea, with just a touch of complexity, making it a great sipping tea on cold mornings.

Flavors: Cocoa, Smoke, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 7 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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Pu-Erh teas can be tricky, as the flavor they deserve is malty and thick. I have had some that are just too malty, too bitter, and hard to find the right brew length to balance.

This one seems to be different. It has the characteristic deep, malty flavor, but is actually easier to brew, if you go too short, it is light and sweet, too long it gets richer and fruity, but remains smooth and drinkable either way.

I prefer a bigger flavor in my teas by adding a little extra tea than is recommended but keeping the steep time shorter, and this tea works well with that theory. The malt flavor is deep and complex, but not bitter, and it is good for several steepings. I have gone to 4 steepings, but I’m sure it would still be good for more.

Flavors: Floral, Malt, Sweet

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 7 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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Red Blossom’s Tung Ting selections are consistently some of my favorite Oolong teas, thusly some of my favorite overall teas, I have tasted, and this is no exception.

Very similar to years past, the 2016 Spring Tung Ting is a solid, straight forward, very tasty and full flavored Oolong tea.

This tea is, as the Red Blossom website says, light, sweet, and fragrant. It also works well with longer step times, giving it a bolder, deeper taste without getting too astrigent. My kind of tea!

If you are looking for a simple, straightforward, but lively and full Oolong tea, this is a great middle of the road, easy to brew, enjoyable choice.


200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 7 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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drank English Teatime by Bigelow
240 tasting notes

Ordered a black tea at Dean’s Cafe in Pleasanton, CA, and this is what I was offered.

Pretty good black tea. A little bit smoother and more subtle than Bigelow’s English Breakfast, but in the same realm taste wise.

I’m not sure how I have gone this long without ever trying this standard, but I do like it. Might be a good basic old school staple to keep around.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Yeah. Kirkland brand. I know some of their stuff is decent, even comparable to good.

But not this.

This is scraps. I opened the package the tea bag came in, and dust sprayed out. Dust. Quite a bit of it. There was even more in the bottom of the cup after pouring.

It was definitely left overs, the last of the last scraps from the bottom of the barrel after all the good stuff was used.

And it tasted like it as well. Bland, boring. Yeah, it tasted like Green Tea. Basically.

People, just spend a tiny bit more for a decent green tea. This is the bottom of the bottom.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Finally ordered another batch of tea from Red Blossom. My go-to house for really freaking good tea. First up is this Formosa Red, Native Cultivar Mi Xiang.

Maybe I’ve been drinking too many fruit teas, and blends, and cheaper grocery store tea bags. But the first taste of this sweet, smooth tea gave me chills. It is pretty amazing.

The Red Blossom website suggested 205 degree water steeping for 2:30. I used 7 grams of leaves in my 3 ounce Bodum Assam tea pot.

The aroma is wonderful. Sweet, subtle, not overwhelming.

The first taste is amazing. Sweet, subtle, with hints of sugar, molasses, a bit of honey. These flavors put together for a great balance, sippable all morning long.

I’ve missed my Red Blossom Tea, in the future I will not go this long without reordering.

Seriously, it’s so good!

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec 7 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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This has been in my tea cabinet for a while, not sure why I haven’t reviewed it yet.

This is a good, solid white tea. Hints of wet grass, straw, and wood dominate the well balanced field of taste. The aftertaste is nice and clean and crisp, no weird flavors or overtones in this one.

Overall, a super simple, solid, well balanced and yummy white tea. Nothing special, nothing unnecessary, it’s not trying to be something it doesn’t need to be. Just a really good white tea.


Flavors: Grass, Straw, Wet Wood, Wood

185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec 7 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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I keep forgetting about this gem in the back of my tea cabinet. It was a gift from a friend a while back. Time to give it a good try.

The directions say to use 2 teaspoons for each 8 ounces of water. My Bodum Assam holds 32 ounces, so I did the math and used the appropriate amount of tea. Seemed like a lot, but it’s the right amount.

The ingredients list looks like a short list of things that would go great with a Rooibos base, so this should be pretty good. Even for a guy like me who is not a huge fan of blends or fruit teas. I am looking forward to this. Maybe it will change my mind about fruit blend teas? We’ll see. Maybe I just haven’t tried enough really good, high quality samples.

OK, I’ve waiting long enough for it to cool a bit. Here we go:

The aroma is a whole lot of tropical fruit. Not overwhelming, just damn tasty. The Rooibos base is still there, present and accounted for.

The taste is just a fruity, mostly tropical with some citrus. The Rose Hips are a nice touch, they add an extra element making this overall a really interesting, well balanced tea.

There is a bit of an aftertaste, I can’t quite place it. Just a touch of tartness that sits at the back of my tongue for a few seconds. Not bad, It actually rounds out the overall flavor really well.

Overall, I like it. Looks like those really good,high quality fruit blend teas are actually pretty good. I guess I went too many years drinking the cheap ones in boxes from the grocery store.

This one is damn good. Well balanced, all flavors accounted for, nothing extra for no reason. Even with the tartness of the aftertaste, which I actually kind of like, this is a damn good tea.

Flavors: Fruit Punch, Fruity, Tart, Tropical

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 20 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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drank Constant Comment by Bigelow
240 tasting notes

Thanksgiving at mom’s Day 3, Tea 2. 13th overall. Might have time for one more after this, might just get ready to head to the Sierra Nevada Brewery. Priorities.

Anyway, this one.

I’ve always seen this one around. I’ve seen it in stores, online, heard people talk about it, it’s just a pretty famous old school tea. For some reason I’ve never tried it, until now.

Here we go.

The aroma is a combo of a underwhelming chai and a relaxed spiced tea. Sort of bland and spicy at the same time. Odd balance. Hopefully that will change in the mouth.

Sort of. It’s an odd flavor. There is a hint of orange in there, along with all the spice, and at the very bottom just a hint of the black tea base. Very British.

Now, I’m not a fan of spiced tea in general, so on that list, this would sit at the very top. Sort of an eased off, relaxed spiced tea, not so in your face. The hint of orange helps that a whole bunch. Overall, it really does have a very nice balance.

In the end, if I was looking for a spiced tea that I actually liked, this would be near the top. But near the top of a group of teas I’m not a huge fan of….

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

This was one of the first teas I drank other than sweet southern tea. I got me into flavored stuff and I branched from there.

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drank Vanilla Chai by Bigelow
240 tasting notes

Thanksgiving vacation at mom’s, Day 3, Tea 1.

Found this gem in the back of mom’s tea cabinet. I could have brought it here many years ago, as this was one of my favorites for a long time before discovering the wonders of high quality loose leaf tea. This, the Twinnings Black Tea Variety Pack, and a couple of mint teas where what got me into tea in the first place.

I’m surprised I have never rated it on here yet. Oh well, here we go!

It. Is. So. Good.

Crisp and clean, well balanced, not to much spice like many boxed Chai teas can get. Leave it to Bigelow to make a simple, solid, tasty tea once again. Nothing special, it’s not trying to be anything it doesn’t need to be.

The chai spice is not overwhelming, allowing the black tea base to shine through. But it is still prominent, I’m not loosing what I think of as a good chai for the sake of balance. Everything is there and present, in the right place. From aroma to first sip to mouthfeel to aftertaste.

All good.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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