880 Tasting Notes
Doh, I nearly missed National Lemonade Day! Thankfully this tea has been the nightly herbal I’ve been working on sipping down for a while now (getting through these 50g packages is such an investment!) and it is a lemon/lavender blend.
I reviewed it before (here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/406858 ) and don’t really have anything new to say. Most herbals I leave in my cup in a fillable teabag while I sip for a really strong flavor, but with this one I definitely stick to a three minute steep, since the lavender is strong and goes unpleasantly bitter with a long steep. I also tried this as a latte one night — I like lemon with coconut, I like lavender with coconut, and I had some coconut milk so it seemed to reason they’d go well together — but it honestly didn’t taste good. I have yet to try it cold brew, but I feel like the lemon isn’t quite bright enough to carry it that way. I prefer strong, tart lemon (lemon myrtle and lemon peel being my favorite lemony herbal things) but this tea is lemongrass and lemon verbena. This just comes off slightly more grassy/herbaceous than I’d prefer.
This is pleasant enough to sip on, but I definitely prefer B&Bs Moondrop Dreams to this for a lemon/lavender herbal. I’m getting very close now to finishing off the bag!
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Tart
I have been in the mood for a latte since I managed to restock on vanilla almond milk, and was thinking about my options when I ultimately settled on this, since a) my Lupicia sakura teas are very old at this point and b) the salt preserve on the leaves is gross to me but sometimes preparing as a latte with a sweet milk can curb that saliney/briny taste. As I sipped down the houjicha, I only had oat milk in the house, and that did not work well at all; the flavor was too similar to the houjicha and the vanilla of the oat milk wasn’t strong enough to hide the saltiness. I used vanilla almond milk on the Sakura Rooibos with fairly good results, though.
I got a beautiful foamy top on this! I smell a malty and slightly citrusy black tea with a top note of that distinct floral/cherry aroma of sakura which is so hard to describe. Mmm, excellent latte! Yes, I think vanilla almond milk is just my latte preference, or at least it goes well with these sakura teas. There is a mild tannic quality left on my tongue after the sip which I imagine is being curbed by the milk in the sip, so it is overall quite sweet and pleasant and loses the bitey quality some of Lupicia’s black bases have. For whatever reason, I’m picking up a strong citrus note from the base. The sakura is pleasant and left lingering on my tongue; I’m getting a little salinity but it is mostly all hidden by the sweet vanilla almond milk so I don’t have to wince with each sip.
I’m foreseeing many a sakura latte in my immediate future. (Does anyone know of any sakura-flavored teas that are a) real sakura, not just “cherry flavoring and florals” and b) don’t use salt preserves on the sakura? I’m looking for a replacement because my beloved Chasandai sakura green that used sugar to preserve instead is no longer available…)
Flavors: Cherry Blossom, Citrus, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Malt, Sakura, Salty, Sweet, Tannic
French… Saturday?! I had absolutely no time to brew hot tea before work yesterday (and in all honesty, barely have enough before work today, so I’ll have to make this brief), so I had to push back the sampler from my baggie of French teas (thanks, Dustin!) to today.
The dry leaf smells reminds me of B&B’s Easter Egg Nests… a sweet chocolately, slightly roasty/nutty aroma. Brewed about 2.6g per 350ml of 205F water for 3 minutes. The brewed tea smells like Easter Egg Nests to me as well… a fudgy, milk chocolately aroma. I’m getting a sort of roasty, slightly coffee-like background note, a subtle roasted nuts note, and a rich chocolately top note. I remember that I had more of a bitter-sweet, dark chocolate tasting experience with Easter Egg Nests, unless I prepared it as a latte, which brought out more of a creamy milk chocolate taste… I’m getting something closer to a creamy milk chocolate taste from this tea as a hot plain cuppa with no additions. There is more of a bitter sweet than a sweet edge to it, but it is quite smooth and pleasant.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Roasted, Roasted Nuts
Happy National Superhero Day! (This is also my final Ode to Tea entry, for B! I now have all 26 sipdowns, woop!)
The prompt today was to drink a tea that reminds you of a favorite superhero. To be honest, while I consider myself a firm “geek,” the superhero genre just doesn’t do it for me (seriously, I’ve never watched any of those “Cinematic Universe” movies). I do, however, tend to enjoy the ones that lean heavily into comedy/parody, and have been a fan of The Tick (has anyone even heard of it? Probably not…) for years.
I picked this tea to represent him because his only “power” really is being “mighty,” so a robust black base (rather than a more delicate green or white or a decaf herbal) seemed to fit this. He’s also blaringly blue, hense the blueberry flavor. And he is really just a soft, extremely loving teddy bear on the inside, hense picking a sweet, desserty tea.
The blueberry is very sweet, reminding me of a sweet breakfast syrup or the blueberries in muffins, which goes well with a pastry tea. I can smell a sweet creamy aroma off the cup which I assume is the cream cheese, but have a harder time picking it out on the tongue; there is a creamy sort of sweetness that pops at the end of the sip. The black tea itself is really smooth, with no astringency or bitterness, and I’m getting notes of warm baked bread and subtle spices from it, which lend into that “bready pastry” feel.
Another solid blueberry entry from 52Teas!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Blueberry, Cream, Pancake Syrup, Pastries, Smooth, Spices, Sweet
I really enjoyed the pu’erh I sampled from this company recently, and figured it was time to pull out this sample, kindly provided by AJRimmer! (Thank you!)
The steeped tea has a very fruity aroma. I’m getting a strawberry note and a pithy citrus orange note… and caramel? It smells sort of like a very fruity butterscotch. I quite like the aroma!
On the tongue I’m tasting a sweet strawberry, which is quickly followed by a caramel sweetness and spices (mainly a sarsaparilla sort of flavor, though more mild than that tends to be). I think I get a hint of sweet cinnamon left on my tongue in the aftertaste. The base is silky and slightly buttery, with a touch of nondescript floral sweetness.
As someone who can’t even drink alcohol and has nothing to compare the flavors against, as just a flavored tea blend, I really enjoy this! It’s a shame this company now only sales wholesale and not to consumers since I would like to explore more of their teas! Perhaps at some point when my cupboard is more under control, I’ll make the effort to see if I can’t find some mom and pop shop carrying these blends.
Flavors: Berry, Butter, Butterscotch, Caramel, Cinnamon, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Orange Zest, Sarsaparilla, Smooth, Spices, Strawberry, Sweet
French Friday! This sampler was kindly provided by Cameron, thank you Cameron! I had a French sakura tea from Palais de Thes yesterday, so I thought it would be interesting to compare them. (Also, this is my S entry for Ode to Tea! I only need to finish up the sipdown on my K tea and then sipdown a B tea and I’ll be done with the 26 sipdowns!)
Prepared 2.3g for 350ml of 185F water, steeped for three minutes. The aroma of this is almost a dead ringer for the Fleur de Geisha tea I had yesterday, except the aromatics seem to be a bit more on the floral/sweet site than the fruity cherry side (I definitely smell both flowers and cherry, though). The aroma also reminds me a little of grape candy, somehow…
Huh. The tea tastes just like grape candy, too! Not sure why I’m getting that strong grapey/muscatel note, but I don’t taste cherry (just grape) because of it. There is a hint of a cherry-esque note toward the very end of my sip, but during the sip, it’s all a sweet and syrupy grape. I wonder if they used any jasmine flavor for the floral? Jasmine can often taste like grapes to me. The white base is coming through too, as I’m getting a bit of a cucumber water, wildflower honey, and fresh grass. Very pleasant, I’m often extremely let down with flavored whites because they always seem to use such LQ white tea for the base which is very distracting. This is one I could easily drink without the flavorings.
Of the two, Fleur de Geisha definitely reminds me the most of sakura, but that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying this cup. I’m just enjoying it as a very floral and muscatel white!
Flavors: Candy, Cherry, Cucumber, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Grapes, Grass, Honey, Muscatel
Happy International Mother Earth Day! For a tea that “reminds you of our good planet” I grabbed this one out of the French tea samples Dustin sent me (thank you, Dustin!) since the cherry blossoms have been in full bloom around here! (Also, Ode to Tea F entry!)
Steeped 2.4g per 350ml 175F water for three minutes. Smells more like proper cherry than sakura, but that floral nature of French teas has given it a sweet flowery, bordering on perfume aroma which is easy to imagine as sakura.
I do like the flavor! It’s like a candied cherry sort of note, but the cherry flavoring is not waxing medicinal at all. There is a slightly sharper, warm fresh grass note that hits after the sweet cherry of the green base. They are very complimentary!
It’s a nice cuppa; tomorrow I’m going to have Mariage Frere’s Sakura The Blanc, courtesy of Cameron, for French Friday to compare the two sakura teas.
Flavors: Cherry, Floral, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass
I need a new nightly tisane, and was looking through my oldest herbals on my spreadsheet and came across this. I ordered this tea sampler from the Kunohe Village Revitalization Project through Yunomi a long time ago… I was expecting “sweet” based on the name, but didn’t know much about it. Apparently these dried Hydrangea leaves make a sweet tea that is known as “Buddha’s Tea” and drank on his birthday. (I’m quite a fan of Japanese culture but this was all new to me!)
The instructions on the packet are for a full liter, not a cup, so I kinda had to wing it, not knowing how much to brew. A tea blog said they use two leaves (1g) per 100ml so I went with that… but they were also doing gong fu preparation, and I’m more of a western brewer, so I’m still not sure if that’s going to be way too strong…
It steeps a marigold color and smells very floral, but not a flower I could place. There is a honey-like sweetness in the aroma, as well… I think the florality in the scent is driving in a wildflower honey vibe. There is also something about the aroma that smells herbaceous, like a wet straw sort of aroma.
WOAH! It tastes like I dissolved sugar in a cup! The mouthfeel is fuller and silkier than dropping sugar in hot water would be, but the taste! There is almost a toasty flavor, some hot hay, definitely a wildflower vibe, and then a thick, coating sweetness. The feel of it on the mouth sort of reminds me of licorice root, except it tastes more like sugar. So sugar with the coating mouthfeel and lingering aftertaste that licorice root provides? Something like that.
I really have no problem drinking this myself, but I definitely think this little oddity of a tisane would be way too sweet for most. Perhaps dropping the amount of leaf used or the steep time could produce a cup better attuned to one’s personal sweetness levels, though. I do think I brewed this too strong as I’m starting to get that heavy feeling in the stomach that one can get from eating too many sweets. I couldn’t finish the whole cup! (You know that feeling when you think you can eat the whole slice of cheesecake, then you hit that bite where you suddenly realize, “I cannot eat this whole slice of cheesecake”? Very much those feels!) I’ll definitely be playing around with the amount/steeping times.
I was quite curious to see how this would work blended with other things to add sweetness… So my next cup I decided to mix some leaves with plain hibiscus. Everyone (but me, apparently) thinks hibiscus is “too tart”, right? Unsurprisingly, this is the sweetest cup of hibiscus tea I’ve had! Hibiscus too sour for you? Try dropping a leaf or two of this stuff in it…
I also want to try making Southern Sweet Tea using this in lieu of the sugar!
Flavors: Flowers, Honey, Hot Hay, Sugar, Sweet, Toasty
I’m still trying to work through the very old Lupicia sakura teas in my stash. Most of them just aren’t for me, because despite how much I like sakura, I’m really turned off by the “salty” taste in the cup from the salt preserves they use. (I’m also really upset to learn that the Ume Vert I ordered on my birthday order has… salt-preserved ingredients. If Lupicia would just freaking disclose the ingredient lists as printed on their bags on their actual website, I never would have ordered it…)
The Ume Vert will, undoubtedly, have to be rice-flavoring tea for me to use up the pouch. The sakura ones are at least sweet enough that I have found I can usually hide the salinity of the salt by making sweet lattes using a vanilla plant milk (vanilla almond or vanilla oat, depending on what I have on hand). Which is how I’ve prepared this cup. 3 parts tea to 1 part warm, frothed vanilla oat milk. I used two heaping teaspoons of leaf and steeped in 205F water for 5 minutes.
The aroma is warm wood and sakura. The sakura is getting overpowered a bit in the flavor by the houjicha, though. I’m getting a strong woodiness, some roasted nuts, and only a subtle hint of sakura sweetness left on my tongue after the sip when some of the deeper, roastier houjicha notes start to fade.
It’s a nice enough latte, but I honestly could’ve made a plain houjicha latte and probably wouldn’t have noticed much difference. Not my favorite execution of the flavor. Maybe it’s stronger in a plain cup, but then I’d just be turned off by the salt, so I guess I’ll have to make do with plain houjicha with a sprinkle of sakura flavor. Not a favorite, despite how much I love both houjicha and sakura.
Flavors: Cherry Wood, Nutty, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Sakura, Wood
I received this sampler way back in 2018 from AJRimmer, so thank you!
Brewed up a 500ml teapot with the full sample, allowing to steep for 5 minutes in 205F water.
The dry leaf has a fruity/floral perfumey sort of aroma. I’m still getting a sort of grape candy/floral perfume scent from the brewed tea as well, but also smell some spices on the nose… perhaps a cinnamon/clove aroma? And underneath is the typical earthy/dirt aroma of the pu’erh.
While I am no connoisseur of wines (been literal decades since I drank any due to alcohol being my top migraine trigger), I definitely get a the wine-direction this tea was going for. I taste a fruitiness of very sweet grape and some spices… on the tongue the spice has more of anise sort of flavor (a faint licorice note) but there is a lingering cinnamon on my tongue. The tea is very smooth and sweet… while I can smell the earthy/dirt aroma of the pu’erh, I honestly am not tasting it much, which in my case is a bonus.
A bit of a novelty tea, but I really like it! I’m glad I got to try it! Thank you, AJ!
Flavors: Cinnamon, Earth, Grapes, Licorice, Smooth, Spices, Sweet