32 Tasting Notes


I can only describe this tea as transcendent. Beautiful, delicate, floral, buttery smooth transcendence.

Caveat theae potor – overcooking this one makes it lose its delicacy. The leaves are also huge, so you need to give them lots of room to expand.

Making it western style in the Breville, though convenient, just isn’t the best idea. The basket just isn’t big enough, and the minimum 500 ml makes it difficult to rebrew and take advantage of the evolution of the flavour. Gong fu that baby, you won’t regret it.

I’ll post again with more details in a couple of days, as I somehow lost my tasting notes for this. But yes, it’s beautiful and I love it so much!

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I know I haven’t posted in a while. Shame on me! I haven’t stopped drinking tea, not by a long shot, but I’ve gotten very lazy with the writing. I do still read, though! Avidly.

Anyway, I wanted to make another note about this tea to add my experience with their Genmai Cha POWDER. Yes, folks, the same tea in powder form. Just as easily as with my matcha – I just pour some powder into my water bottle, shake it up, and voila! It’s the same taste, maybe a tad stronger on the toasted rice than I’ve gotten out of the loose leaf version. Delicious.

Cold, warm, hot, doesn’t really seem to matter in terms of taste. I’ve had it every which way, and it’s still the same amount of deliciousness. My only quid is that it’s kinda expensive. Or at least, there’s a fair amount of sticker shock. (The website claims you can get 600 cups out of a 300g bag, but I swear $40 still seems a bit…high.) After I’m done with this “powder sampler” (which includes sencha and hojicha – DELICIOUS) I’ll probably not be ordering it again. Or maybe not until my birthday. But still. SO GOOD.

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I’ve been fairly ill lately, so I’ve cut down quite a bit on drinking caffeinated drinks like I was doing. Right now I’m limiting myself to two cups of tea per day, instead of the quart and a half or so I was drinking previously. Geez, a quart and a half per day! Crazy!

That said, this tea makes it fiendishly difficult to exercise any form of restraint. It’s amazing! It’s the only tea so far that has beat out Constant Comment and Lemon Zinger as top dog in the race for my tea affections. And those have nostalgia behind them!

My first experience with genmai cha was with Adagio’s blend, from their samurai sampler. I liked it quite a bit, but the bitter finish from over roasted rice was a touch off putting. This one doesn’t have any bitterness at all, even when I oversteeped it (2 minutes) experimentally to see what would happen.

At first glance, I’ll admit I was nervous. This blend has matcha, so everything inside the tin is green, green, green. You can sort of pick up the scent of roasted rice, but olfactorially it’s mostly all about the green tea.

Scooping it into the tea basket won’t do you much good unless you already have it inside the teapot – the matcha goes right through. I tend to let my water cool in the pot before I add the tea leaves, so I had the filter basket on top of my (closed) laptop. Green everywhere! I really should think things through a bit more. Anyway, my fix to this was that I measured out what I needed into the lid of the tin, then poured it into the filter once the water was at the right temperatur. Easy as pie.

It brews FAST. I mean, this much is obvious from the fact that the instructions say to step 30-60 seconds, but it’s even more fascinating to watch. The green pretty much starts swirling out from the word go. I’ll expect the matcha is why. It’s a nice light jade by the time it’s done – not quite matcha colour, though. It’s less opaque.

And the taste! This is what I like to find in a green tea – vegetal, but sweetly delicious! I’m not a fan of the “saltier” seaweedy greens. The rice, which was a bit hidden in the scent, comes out beautifully. It works well with the green tea. And now I know for certain that Adagio’s version is NOT what a genmai cha is all about. No hint of bitterness anywhere.

The tin says to pour to the last drop, and they’re right to say so. As you get to the bottom of the teapot, the tea becomes sweeter and more flavourful. I love it!

One thing I haven’t had the chance to try is whether this resteeps. I have a little collection of ziplocs with genmai cha that I’ve only brewed once, in the fridge. After my little debacle with resteeping Lemon Zinger, I’m shy with all of the teas.

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec

You should definitely rebrew it! But do it right away (after the first cup); you will get less of the sweetness from the matcha, but the sweetness from the rice (and if it’s good quality sencha, from that too) should come through. I’ve only had a little of Sugimoto’s genmai cha, but they have good stuff and I’ve no doubt it would steep well a 2nd time. However, if you let it sit in the frige or in a teapot more than a few hours, I can’t vouch for that….

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I definitely felt like having some lapsang tonight.

I initially picked up the Adagio sample I have sitting on my counter, but the leaves smelt of the bag it was in and not all that smoky. Needless to say, it scared me off for the time being. I didn’t feel like testing out something I wasn’t certain about, so I went for this Upton sample instead.

There’s not a lot that I didn’t already say in my (first ever lapsang!) encounter with the Imperial blend. It’s smoky and beautiful and soothing and subtle in ways that keep surprising me. The “BUT” here comes from the Black Dragon blend. We’ll get to that.

This was the second time I used my new glass teapot, so I’m still surprising myself on colours. My mug of choice is the perfect size, but it’s also black. This means I’d been missing out on actually watching the tea steep. And wow, is lapsang ever beautiful to look at. It’s a beautiful rust hue that I found incredibly inviting. Maybe it’s because I was expecting the taste from the way it looked, but I love it anyway.

I’d have to brew the Black Dragon and the Imperial side by side to note differences in smell, but I definitely got the characteristic twang of campfire before and after brewing. Delicious! It’s apparently a smell well-appreciated by my pet rats as well, they couldn’t stop themselves trying to get a taste of my tea. Usually they’re not fussed by what’s in my teapot. I like to think they share my taste in tea.

So, here comes the “BUT”…

Apparently, I like it smokier. The taste is lovely. I can easily find the sweet note that other people have pointed out. I understand why some may call this starter lapsang. BUT. Smoke. I need more.

Still, this certainly hit the spot and it went with my dinner pancakes – mango and banana cooked in obscene amounts of butter – beautifully. I’m rating it a bit lower than Imperial, but still high enough to reflect it’s one of my preferred types of tea.

Oh, notate bene… when the tea has completely cooled, the finish seems a bit sooty. Drink it warm! It’ll taste better!

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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drank Wild Rose by Rishi Tea
32 tasting notes

Hmm. I could swear I’d written a note for this tea, but apparently I never did. Let’s work from memory, then.

I love roses. I love the way they smell, I love the way they look, I just love everything about them. One of my earliest experiences with tea has to do with roses, when I was probably around 5.

By age 5, I understood that tea is made from steeping flowers and leaves in water. A book I’d read about a Japanese family that moved to the US told me that this was what was put into bags. In the book, they were ripping the bags open and pouring the tea into a pot of hot water.

“Well, I’ll do you one better!” I said to the book. So I went to the front of the house, where a bouquet of roses was slowly wilting, and took a handful of petals. I stuck them into a mug full of water, and stuck it into the microwave. Voila! Rose tea.

I look back on this particular anecdote with a mixture of nostalgia and horror. Nostalgia, because I distinctly remember the rose smell and taste of my tea. I’ve never been as enterprising as I was that day. Horror, because I can only imagine the pesticides I ingested.

At any rate, upon opening the tin for this tea, my first thought was of my pseudo-tea. My second, of my grandmother’s rose-water creams. It’s a rose tea all right. I can barely pick out any scent to do with the white tea, but I wasn’t expecting to. I’m drinking this for the roses, not the white tea.

I steeped it according to the instructions on the can. I can’t remember precise details, given that this was a week and a half ago – but the can says one tbsp per 6 oz at 190F for 4-6 minutes.

Likely, I steeped it closer to 180F, as today I discovered my “cooling method” pre-thermometer results in this temperature. And I definitely steeped it for 5ish minutes – I tend to go halfway when I’m given a range.

The result of steeping was intense rose scent: the floral smell completely overpowered the white tea. So if you were expecting any sign of the white tea, go looking for another blend. But roses are like this, right? They make themselves known. It was pretty much what I was expecting, though I was hoping the white tea would mitigate the rose intensity a little bit.

And taste-wise? Roses. Heavy-duty roses that didn’t pull any punches. Yeah, this was definitely what I remembered from when I was 5 years old. Lovely, but not something I’d want to drink every single day. Even as I made it half-way through my Rishi tea, I was still wondering where the white tea was hiding itself. Maybe it was keeping the roses from being even stronger? Hmm, possible. But I haven’t had pure rose tea in a very long time, so I’m not certain.

SO! Let me sum up: I like this tea. I like it a lot. It brings back memories of when I was young and silly. It’s a bit stronger on the rose front than I’d like, though, which makes me think that green tea might be a better pairing for the rose petals than the white tea. But don’t let that put you off, if you like roses.

5 min, 0 sec

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drank Dragonwell by Adagio Teas
32 tasting notes

I’m still looking for a smooth green tea that I can sip at slowly without finding a single flaw. I can’t say that about Adagio’s Dragonwell.

I recently placed a rather sizable order from Adagio, purely made up of samples for my tea edification. While the reviews I’ve read on Steepster tell me that Adagio’s teas are not ideal, I figure that the teas will at least give me a starting point in terms of what to look for. And, hopefully, comments when I write them up will give me a better idea of which direction to look for better versions of these teas.

Today, I went for the Emperor sampler.

“Ooh, I’ve heard a lot about dragonwell tea,” I told my long-suffering boyfriend. He was busy eating his dinner at the time, so his reply involved enthusiastic nodding. He doesn’t drink tea himself, but he knows how excited I get.

Now, the description on Adagio’s page promises a toasty aroma. I could smell it, but I was a bit worried about the seaweed-y edge I picked up. I’m not too fussed about seaweed, usually, but I don’t really like it in tea. It makes me extremely picky when it comes to green tea. I was a little worried already, from the smell.

I wanted to steep the tea for two minutes, but I didn’t count on the strainer for my new teapot on being quite so finicky to get out. I was terrified of making it go bitter on top of seaweed-y, but the extra 45 seconds doesn’t seem to have had any ill effects.

It brewed up a nice light yellow-green, with the usual green tea smell. Maybe a little stronger on the vegetal scent than some. And taste-wise it isn’t horrible like I was expecting, though I’m not that keen on it. It’s got a definite hit of seaweed and vegetalness, but it does resolve into something I could like. If the first hit of taste were less intense, I would definitely enjoy it a whole lot more. The aftertaste isn’t bad, smoother than the tea itself, definitely.

Sooooo final verdict is mixed feelings. It’s not terrible, but it’s not something I’ll reach for, given a choice. I’d go for my bland Heavenly Tea Leaves Oolong before I go for this tea.

I have not been able to resteep, because I made way more than I needed. I was under the impression my sister would help me drink this, but she left long before I made it. I don’t even know what to do with 40oz of green tea at 10PM! It’s a bit amusing, really. :)

If the flavour changes when I resteep, I’ll let you know, fellow Steepsterites!

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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drank Pumpkin Pie by Art of Tea
32 tasting notes

I am TERRIFIED to try this one. I love pumpkin pie more than should be natural, but upon opening the bag of tea and taking a whiff, my only thought is cough syrup. I really want to like this tea, but the cough syrup smell is making me nervous.

I have a lot of tea to get through right now, so I shall log about this when I get to it, I guess!

(Please tell me it tastes better than it smells! PLEASE!)

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The website for this tea company seems to be working again, so I went back to compare the description with the taste and smell. I’m not sure where the peonies and chrysanthemums flavours they’re talking about are hiding, because they’re certainly not in the tea. I never got the peppery note either.

Oh well. Rating remains the same. Pleasant, but not mind-blowing.

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Oh wow. Oh my. How do I even begin to describe the experience of trying lapsang souchong for the first time?

It’s the type of tea about which I was intensely curious, but intensely afraid of trying. I don’t really know why I was afraid – the worst that could happen is that I didn’t like it and moved on.

I needn’t have worried.

The first thing one notices about the tea upon getting it ready to steep, is the intense smell. Smokey, like a barbecue, but without the acrid edge one might expect from something burning. I can imagine why some note that it’s a good tea for cooking. I would probably use this when making some sort of ham soup.

I have to say that it smells lovely, but it was still intimidating to drink. I didn’t necessarily feel like ingesting a barbecue, taste-wise. However, the taste is quite distinct from the smell. Yes, it is smokey, but the over-all flavour is smooth. Maybe a little peppery towards the tail-end. The after-taste is pleasantly smokey, like a satisfying drag from a barbecue hookah.

I’m not skilled enough at tea-drinking yet to identify distinct elements, so the best way I can describe it is that it’s evocative of a good smoked food, say gouda or ham, while still managing to taste distinctly like tea. It’s a soothingly full taste that lingers even after one is done drinking.

I’m not 100% certain I brewed it correctly. I will admit that there was a definite bite in the back of my throat with the first cup, and then it was definitely on the under brewed side for the second and third cup. Not the tea’s fault. Just learning curve on my part.

As an amusing anecdote – apparently now my breath smells like wood.

At any rate, this is a tea that I will definitely be drinking a lot more often. I’m glad I bought this sample.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Bibliophile and language junkie. Now decidedly tea-crazed. Trying to convince The Boy that tea tastes like more than just hot water. Cat-lady and rat-lady in the making.

From San Juan, Puerto Rico. Adopted Bostonian. Current long-time Chicagoan. Up, up, up the ziggurat. Lickety-split!

I like an interesting tea, so I’m expanding my tea stash daily. As well as my teaware collection.



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