458 Tasting Notes

Disclaimer: Another one of my blends. This dropped last week. I really liked how Lavender Cream came out, and wanted to keep pairing sweet and floral notes together… This’ one I’ve seen done before, but never tried, and it stuck in the back of my mind because I wanted to try it. So I worked on this one from about spring last year (it didn’t make that release date) until this year, tweaking the ratios right up until the end.

Initial nose is creamy vanilla, the jasmine coming through as an undernote, so that it’s not just an overly strong vanilla black tea but a subtler jasmine green balance. It’s not too soapy, or at least by my tastes.

Taste: Probably could have used cooler water, but I was impatient today; curled up and drinking this at home. I used a black base of Chinese teas, so not particularly astringent, a bit of Yunnan for sweetness and body, and that comes through with the vanilla. The green teas and oolongs hit with a particular green note that’s more floral and perfumy than vegetal. Slurping gets a hit of the jasmine that trails into the aftertaste and an aroma that permeates the mouth and throat, but isn’t cloying or overpowering. The vanilla is still stronger, but I don’t think it dominates it.

The floral oolong doesn’t really stand on its own, but more smooths and bridges the gap between the more perfumy jasmine and the sweet vanilla. It’s a very green oolong, so there’s no notes of roast, more a spectrum of honey black/vanilla to nuclear floral green, to scented green teas. I did try this originally with an unscented oolong with a faint roast, but found it didn’t fit at all.

This makes a really nice afternoon tea, so I broke out my great grandma’s old porcelain pot and teacup. As it cools, I think the jasmine comes through more and more. Brewed fresh and hot, it’s vanilla-forward, likely the volatiles from the flavouring used; once those dissipate, the jasmine dominates more.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec
tea-sipper

Sounds like a tea I’d enjoy!

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drank Birthday Party by T Kettle
458 tasting notes

I actually sipped this one last night, but wasn’t somewhere I could jot down tasting notes. So this’ my second cup. The smell is classic vanilla frosting, creamy and buttery. Nothing chocolatey about it. In fact, I also bought Cozy Cocoa, which has a very distinct alcohol-based chocolate flavouring in its scent, and there’s not a whiff of that here, so I’m doubting they added any chocolate flavouring at all.

Taste-wise… I just finished eating dinner, so I can’t say I’m going to give the best description. Vanilla, a sort of tonka flavour? An alcoholic flavouring-oil like taste, that leaves a mouthfeel that does sort of add to the ‘vanilla frosting’ bit. I can’t say I’m getting any chocolate, still… Although a lot of liquid chocolate flavourings do have a largely ‘boozy chocolates’ taste to them. There’s an astringency at the back of my throat that’s also probably from the flavouring oil.

I AM a sucker for any cakey vanilla sweet flavouring in tea. This is fairly generic but pleasant, minus the bitter note. Maybe four minutes for these teas in the future. I’ll probably do a second note when I’ve got a clearer palate.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Roswell Strange

Seems like we had pretty much the same thoughts on this one – I also got zero chocolate.

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drank Biscotti by T Kettle
458 tasting notes

Dry, this smells strongly of scented markers I used to play with growing up. I couldn’t say which scent—vanilla or popcorn or some baked good ones. Sweet and a bit plasticy, but good.

Brewed, this smells… Honestly, like how cookie and biscotti smell after you’ve dipped them into tea and they’ve gone soft. It’s very distinct. And very fitting. So it smells good, like biscotti, like tea and milk and honey.

Taste wise… Surprisingly a bit astringent, even though I was very careful with my five minutes this time, and the tea itself looked at first glance like the small curled leaves of a Chinese black tea (the glossyness, in retrospect, might have been flavouring oil). But taste-wise, Sri Lankan. Maybe blended with a Chinese black, and/or some Assam. I always have difficulty picking out bases under flavouring. It’s faintly astringent but not enough to turn you away; there’s a faintly oily mouthfeel of almonds, like a sweet almond oil of some sort, that trails into the aftertaste as I breath out. Unfortunately the baked goods in the smell don’t translate much into the taste. Mostly just almond. Not something I’d reach for in the future, as the astringency is verging on bitterness. I’m sure this would be very nostalgic and pleasant with milk, though.

I’m slowly working my way through a bunch of ounce teas I picked up in-store. I came in knowing exactly what I wanted beforehand. Saves you time, energy, social interaction. I’m typing this while working on a blog post about upcoming tea-book releases. There’s a couple of books I’m excited for in 2021. It’s a nice, lazy Sunday.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Roswell Strange

I’ll definitely keep an eye out for your tasting notes – I’m really curious what you think of their blends.

AJ

So far I’m finding either their black tea base or the flavouring oils they use unusually harsh. And there are a couple of blends I think I can pinpoint the wholesalers on… We’ll see if this is where my paycheque goes.

Roswell Strange

They’re definitely wholesaling from MTC, but I have a veeerrrryyyy good suspicion of a second wholesaler they’re working with. Unsure if it’s more than just the two, though.

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drank Pumpkin Patch Chai by T Kettle
458 tasting notes

So, I finally picked up a few blends. I’ll make a review of the physical location itself once the Places tab is usable again.

This was… The smell was downright familiar, in a "I’ve smelt this exact profile of ‘Pumpkin Tea’ somewhere before’. Stash’s? Republic of Tea’s? Metropolitan’s? I don’t know. Not DAVIDs’, not Murchie’s. It’s something like a ‘liquid chocolate flavour’ kind of scent. Still there while brewed.

This tastes thin, but fine. Rosehip I picked up. Clove and cinnamon, followed by ginger for a warmth. It’s thin, not really creamy and full. I’m surprised I get nothing, or very little, from the stevia. It’s unobtrusive, whereas usually it dominates any blend that has the misfortune of containing it? If it wasn’t listed in the ingredients, I probably would have guessed any sweetness was from the fruit or the candy. The more I sip, the more the ginger sticks and lingers, which is pleasant.

No pumpkin, just the barest watery fruit, overtopped with the usual spices, although no creamyness or heft to it. I picked myself up some vintage mugs, and the taste and look at least fits the aesthetic of the fall-harvest mug I’m drinking it out of.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Parasol Dancong by white2tea
458 tasting notes

After the wild journey of trying to get this tea across the water during the pandemic, it’s finally here. Am I waiting two weeks to let it rest? …The puerh, sure, but I couldn’t keep my hands off of the oolong.

Holy balls is this aromatic and perfumy. I flash-steeped this, 90ml gaiwan about 3/4s full, just-boiled water, second or two, dump. Drank the wash. You can taste what feels like the usual astringency with some harsher, longer-steeped dan congs, but is transformed into a pervasive perfume. Smooth, not sharp, not bitter—jasmine, violet is what I’m getting. Not quite fruit. Maybe in the finish, when I hold it in my mouth, but afterwards just the aroma remains, and it sticks on the tongue and roof and the back of my throat as if I’d walked through a perfume aisle, but y’know. More pleasant.

Third flash steep was almost thick, not quite roasty—this is a pretty smooth dan cong. One of these days I will properly sit down and compare some of my favourite dan congs side by side. I can have trouble describing them in isolation.

By about the fifth steep the aroma’s trailed off; upped to 15 seconds brought some bitterness, dropping back to 5-10.

Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Perfume, Violet

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Work tasting. We’ve been so busy I’ve been bringing home batch-samples to do reports at home.

This one is a pretty heavy flavoured tea, leaving a sort of thick, creamy mouthfeel and a lingering coconut aftertaste. Not much of the base teas come through, but taste-wish it’s got a heavy toasted note to the coconut. It’s less ‘fresh’, definitely not a ‘pina colada’ type of coconut milk, but more a creamy baked consistency like coconut in a custard or pastry. The almost roasted quality does make it stand out to me, compared to other coconut teas I’ve come across over the years.

Flavors: Coconut, Cream, Roasted

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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drank Earl's Gold by Murchie's Tea & Coffee
458 tasting notes

I thought I’d posted a note for this tea already, but I guess not.

Full disclosure, I can’t give this tea an honest review and you can take what I say with a grain of salt, because this is the first blend I created from the ground up and released through Murchie’s. So I’m a little biased and pretty proud of it.

I like earl greys, but personally, am not a fan of Murchie’s earl grey. It uses a lot of bright, light and brisk teas—Darjeeling, Nepal and Ceylons—with a very heavy dose of bergamot. I find it a tad too acidic, so I set out to make an earl grey I’d drink.

This’ what I ended up coming up with. Going the complete opposite direction, this uses Assam, Yunnan and Keemun teas. The result is a very deep, malty brew, with a bit of smoke, a bit of nut, a faint natural sweetness, and overall just very smooth. I opted for tippy Assam and Yunnan teas, hence the name. The amount of bergamot used is medium-light; I was hitting for a ratio that complimented but didn’t dominate it.

It does use artificial and natural bergamot, because the sad reality is natural bergamot oil lasts a whole month on tea before dissipating completely, in every test I tried.

We’ve been extremely busy at work so I’ve been spending a lot of long hours and guzzling Earl’s Gold a lot. I’ve also been bringing a lot of my work home (namely samples that need tasting), so I had this on-hand. I reach for it often enough.

Bergamot in the right context smells a bit like Fruit Loops to me, and this is one of them.

Flavors: Bergamot, Cocoa, Malt, Nutty, Smoke, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
tea-sipper

Congrats on the first tea you created! It sounds like a good Earl. Added to wishlist. :D

EstrafaDC

Wow. This one sounds REALLY intriguing in so many ways. A smokier earl grey. Also, I didn’t know that about natural bergamot oil. TIL!

Roswell Strange

Congrats! Seeing one of your blends go from concept to finish cup is such a rewarding feeling! Also, I feel very validated right now because I also quite often get that “Froot Loops” association from bergamot!

AJ

Thank you. I’m pretty proud of it, which also means I end up chattering on about it whenever people make the mistake of asking.

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drank Salted Caramel Oolong by DAVIDsTEA
458 tasting notes

I had to break isolation and go all the way into the city because the damn library wouldn’t let me renew my book anymore, so I decided to swing around to the only DAVIDsTEA still open in my region and pick up a few things I’d been eyeing.

I noticed they were bringing back a few old blends online-only as well. Hmmm. Maybe.

Overshot the steeping time on this one, but it didn’t turn out bitter, although the roast of the oolong may have gotten a bit sour. I mistook the giant sugar crystals in the mix for salt and kind of made a face at the dry tea, but it’s definitely not salty. Perhaps just enough to enhance the caramel, but nothing more. The pineapple adds to the acidic apple taste, definitely settling this more in the ‘fruit tea feel’ for me. ‘Kind of drying, a bit watery, steeped fruit pieces’ slightly lacking that body I like with more ‘tea’. I would have liked to taste this blend without the addition of the pineapple, to see how it stands.

Otherwise, the caramel is present, creamy, enhanced and lingers into the aftertaste. The roast of the oolong adds to the ‘sea salt’, but otherwise doesn’t overwhelm or interact badly with the added flavours. The oolong they use is… very small. Definitely not whole leaves, confirmed once they expanded in my strainer… Basically tattered shreds. It doesn’t take away from the tea (smaller tea fragments probably held the flavouring better), although definitely results in a darker brew (medium-deep amber).

In the end, it’s not a love or a hate—it sits in the same park as the Maple Syrup Oolong for me. Most of DAVIDsTEA’s flavoured oolongs kind of occupy that zone… The fruit bits detract a bit from the taste. But this definitely tastes like caramel, helped along by the dissolved sugar and caramel bits, I’m sure, heh.

Flavors: Apple, Caramel, Pineapple, Pleasantly Sour, Toast

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Golden Peony by Murchie's Tea & Coffee
458 tasting notes

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drank Time Traveller by O5 Tea
458 tasting notes

Sipping this in a mug as well. Tart and tannic. Cranberries, honey, a faint woodsy undertone. Subsequent sips, the sticky honey note gets stronger. After some thought on it, I agree ‘maple’ probably works, but I wouldn’t have thought about it if I hadn’t scanned the description first.

As it cools, it gets a bit more oaky woodsy. And an acidic taste that sits on the back of the tongue, and maybe vanilla as I exhale.

Flavors: Cranberry, Honey, Maple, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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Bio

Disclaimer: I work for Murchie’s Tea and Coffee as a taster and blender. I will avoid putting any ratings on teas from them from here on out.

A tea-drinking transgendered Canadian, university graduate, majored in geology (yes, “rocks and things”). I take most of my tea made straight into a mug, although occasionally if I’m not in a hurry (this isn’t often), I’ll have time to sit down with a pot or gaiwan. It’s the highlight of a good day.

My notes are pretty disjointed because I’m absent-minded, and I also keep a teatra.de blog for reviewing and rambling about tea books/publications, and an instagram for photos. Except nerding about tea production and history on both.

I’m a Doctor Who fanatic (Jon Pertwee, if you were wondering).

“But you should never turn down tea, when it’s offered. It’s impolite, and impoliteness is how wars start.” ~Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann

https://www.instagram.com/greywacke_tea/

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Canada

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http://artoftea.teatra.de

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