106 Tasting Notes

Wow, crazy aroma, very strong, delicious and almost sweet smell of licorice and mint. Taste is much like it smells, although a more faint mint on initial, stronger on the finish. Sweeter than I thought it’d be, not sure where that is coming from, not much ginger taste, surprisingly, but a nicely full herbal body. The interesting flavor changes as you swallow and coats the back of throat with the sweet pleasantly. A nice, energizing tea for being caffeine free.

Flavors: Herbs, Licorice, Mint, Sugarcane

Boiling 8 min or more 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Very fluffy twisted and clean looking leaves in a dark and white array, very visually appealing as I’ve come to expect from Teabox. The smell of the leaves is already quite sweet, with a floral fragrance.

The brewed liquor is an orange gold, very fragrant aroma of lilies and sugar and some other flower. The taste is as sweet as the smell, with a piney pepper touch to it when hot and a juicy berry-like finish that gets stronger as it cools. The aroma lingers after swallowing and leaves a moderately dry feeling to the tongue.

A nice, mindless tea to sip and enjoy since the flavors are light despite being very prominent, although something about this particular kind of sweet is offputting to me (in my opinion, it almost tastes like artificial sweetener like splenda) and although the initial taste is strong with that sweet flavor, something, somewhere, inbetween makes this taste almost thin to me.

Flavors: Berry, Floral, Pine, Spices, Sweet

185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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First time brewing gyokuro, so I might come back and edit this after a few more passes at this since I have over an ounce to play with, :).

Made it in my gaiwan (open lid) with water temps starting at 125 and ending at about 140 (it was hard to keep measuring) with prewarmed cup and gaiwan, about 90 ml per brew with 5 grams at 2.5 minutes, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, and 3 minutes. Brews a yellower green gold with a strong green tea/seaweed aroma. I wasn’t ready or expecting the first cup which whacked me in the face with the strong seaweed flavor and astringency (will probably cut the first steep down considerably in the future), but the succeeding cups were very smooth and full bodied, with a hearty, savory green tea profile enhanced by a definite additional nuttiness and a surprising hint of fruit that I am going to attribute to the jackseed (I had a piece or two in there). As each steep lessened the green tea taste, the fruitiness increased and I also began to find a definite flavor and smell of vanilla towards the end of each sip, which was a pleasant surprise toward the end.

Don’t have any other gyokuro to compare it to, but on its own, I was quite pleased with my impulse buy.

Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Nuts, Seaweed, Vanilla

140 °F / 60 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

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The balls are interesting, smell intensely of Jasmine as one would expect, and produces a cloudy peach-gold colored liquor. I may have used too much leaf (? but doubt it since the people I was sharing it with didn’t take any offense to it…) as the intense jasmine taste and smell is overlaid on a quite dry, astringent, herb-y flavor/feel that made it hard for me to pick out any other taste to the tea, although I wouldn’t call it thin at all. It finally dies down by the fourth resteeping, but the astringency increases to take its place and it becomes notably bitter at that point.

A disclaimer, though: This bag has been sitting in my cupboard for about a year (best by date on the bag was 1/8/16 and it is now a solid almost four months since then) and I am not typically a fan of Jasmine tea, this bag came to me as a gift from a non-tea drinking friend. I usually find Jasmine to be too floral, overpowering, and too dry to boot most of the time, which I found to be disappointingly true in this instance as well. in fact, I’d say all the things I dislike about Jasmine teas was compounded in this instance due to the fact that it was made with white tea and had less to tone down/dilute the crazy Jasmine element than usual.

Bottom line, between this and a standard Chinese restaurant tea, I’d probably pick the restaurant tea, but that’s probably at least partially because Jasmine tea in general tends to offend my personal sense of taste and maybe partially due to the length of time it’s been sitting in my cupboard, although I don’t remember liking it when I first got it either, as that’s why it’s been sitting there for so long.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Herbs, Jasmine

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Very fragrant, smells very strongly of roses and perfume. The leaves are pretty and fuzzy with little rosebuds scattered in. Was very fluffy and hard to scoop out of its bag without crunching the leaves up by accident though, haha…. It produces a light golden yellow liquor when brewed.

I steeped this tea three or four times and it tasted pretty consistent throughout all of them, although obviously lighter towards the end with increasing (although still not much) astringency and a hint of earthier tastes. The rose aroma was very strong though, and you can’t really taste much else but that and a bit of sweet for the first cup, although it does round out more pleasantly by the third cup. The flavor doesn’t have much substance behind the strong aroma, though.

Flavors: Cream, Herbs, Perfume, Rose, Sweet

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Bai Hao by Smacha
106 tasting notes

Not as sweet as I was expecting from the description, although there are sweet notes in there that become prominent over more steepings. The dry leaf has a very strong aroma after hot water is added, although it smells very much like the taste of the first steep and a hint of the full flavor with a bit of sweetness. The color in my glass pitcher was a beautiful deep claret on the first steep that lightened to a fall-sunset-in-the-forest hue by the end of the session.

I used Smacha’s very own autobrewer to taste this (a very nifty, stylish, and super convenient number that I’ve been very pleased with, FYI) so I’m not sure how long each steep actually counts as as it automatically filters down from the top in a slow, controlled trickle that is probably not that long in terms of steep time, although the instructions are to wait 2.5 minutes to allow all the water to flow through. It seems to be somewhere closer to the gongfu style of brewing than western brewing judging by the number of steeps I seem to get out of leaves, though.

The first steep was a full woodsy taste with a light, but full body. Just a hint of sweet, and very slightly musty in flavor. Second steep lightened up the flavors considerably, was more aromatic and with a more prominent sweet taste. Third steep was similar to the second, but with a more floral, fragant element. Fourth steep was the sweetest of the bunch and my favorite with a light taste. Fifth steep was thin, to my taste, with more aroma than taste, so I stopped there. Overall, impressed by how long it lasted for such a delicate seeming oolong!

Flavors: Floral, Sugarcane, Wet wood

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Mao Feng by Smacha
106 tasting notes

Beautiful golden green color on the first steep, with a strong green tea scent. The color grew more yellow as both smell and color became lighter and more refreshing on the second and third steep.

The first cup was refreshing, savoury, and amazingly thick mouthfeel for the clear liquid that was produced. A very grassy, earthy, and quintessentially green tea taste on the first steep which brightened and turned to a light meadow and refreshing summer sunshine taste on the second. Was notably thin on the third steep, but the first two cups were a delight. I would say this had a very classic flavor profile with a remarkably full body and strong matcha taste.

Flavors: Beany, Earth, Grass, Green

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 11 OZ / 325 ML

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drank Mao Feng by Smacha
106 tasting notes

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Amazing perfumed flowery aroma with a touch of sweet. Leaves are fluffy and larger with a bit of a twist and brews a very slightly reddish gold color. The taste is intensely floral with a distinct creaminess and hint of sweet citrus peel to it.

Biggest issue I had with it is that, although I wouldn’t say the perfume is overpowering, it threatens to. Well balanced otherwise, although I did brew two steeps at about two minutes each and combined them to get this cup, so your results may vary.

Still, I enjoyed it very much—it had a very refreshing and extravagant/elegant feeling that kind of screams English high tea party (complete with little sandwiches cut into shapes) to me somehow, haha.

Flavors: Citrus Zest, Creamy, Floral, Perfume, Sugar

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Favorite Tea Type: Darker oolong and sheng puerh

Rating Scale:

90-100: Amazing. Will buy and keep on hand all the time if finances and circumstances allow.

80-89: Strong argument for keeping it around all the time, even more than the prospect of trying more new tea. It’s that good.

70-79: Pretty solid. Glad I tried it, several factors that were unique or that I highly enjoyed.

60-69: Nothing that stands out for the most part, but with a quality or two that speaks to me.

50-59: Fairly run of the mill, pleasant but not much more to be said.

40-49: Something here is off putting in an otherwise decent tea.

30-39: There are a few things wrong with this tea. I did not enjoy.

20-29: Disliked this, could maybe see something, some redeeming quality in it others might find worth drinking without spitting back out.

10-19: Begin to question whether any tea is actually, in fact, better than no tea.

0-9: This causes actual food poisoning.



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