14 Tasting Notes
First, hello everyone again! It’s been years since I’ve been able to devote time to a proper teavaluation. I’ve grown a bit, and like a fine wine or scotch, the ageing, in my opinion, has mellowed me a bit. This review also comes with an announcement: I am starting my own tea business. After struggling for three years with cell phones, insurance, and a few other things, I have decided that I really just don’t do the whole ‘Yes, Boss!’ thing that most people do. This decision is made with full understanding of what I am getting myself into, and I know of it’s rewards and sacrifices I need to make. As a note and disclaimer, I endeavor to be impartial in my reviews as a tea enthusiast. I am confident that I can exercise this, as I have practice Beer judging impartially. (New hobby since I’ve left.)
So, onto the tea review.
The Vithanakande OP1 I picked up at Elaine’s tea shoppe appears to be a lustrous grey, longer leaf than I expect when I see OP1 on a bag or tin. Almost no twigs, and no indeterminate plant matter.
I’m brewing in glass for neutral taste, and watching the leaves dance similar to a silver needle tea is wonderful, as the water turns to a copper brown that manages to be somewhat iridescent.
The brewed tea is a caramel-cedar aroma, which delivers in it’s full-bodied flavour. A hint of copper trails through, though, which stared as a nice sandy earth tone.
Second brew, the copper subsides fully to the sandy earth caramel cup of brown joy I have come to expect from vithanakande.
The copper wasn’t unpleasant, however, so I really enjoyed this tea. As I judge beer, I’m finding that just because I like something, doesn’t mean it fits the style of beer, and it’s going to lose a few points for the copper tone. I should revisit the other vith’s I have picked up and see if I can detect copper, now that my palate has been actually trained to look for things.
Folks, it’s a pleasure to be back.
I picked up this delacacy while in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, at the recommendation of Kappi, a very nice and accommodating salesperson. The Black Bear tea company is worth visiting in the mall.
It is a broken grade tea, I wasn’t expecting too much from the character of the leaves. This can be quite deceiving in broken grades of tea, and in this case, it most certainly was. I was treating my palate to a wonderful peach undertone with this tea, followed by a caramel-malt finish. It had a very full mouth feel, yet managed to retain a delicacy I was not expecting for the grade. I belive the website describes it as ‘self-drinking’, and rightly so – I empty a pot very quickly! I do wish the third brew was a touch stronger, but I was pleasantly surprised at the flavour of the second, whereupon I found the peach a bit more distracting.
>NOTE: For those of you who would like to, stop by the Aegis area at World Steam Expo, where this is one of the teas I’ll be brewing for the heck of it. In fact, bring by teas to share, and I’ll share some of my own!
Sorry I haven’t been on in quite a while! I’ve recently been promoted to a key-holder/managerial position at Teavana, so I’ve been a bit busy during the holiday season. I sat down and ordered a bunch of teas from adagio, and I’m finally getting to it.
The first of my new batch I’ve tried is the Golden Monkey. I’ve had three other Golden Monkeys before, and I must say this is the most bland and uninteresting Golden Monkey I’ve ever had. The flavour is there, but the malty undertones and subtle smokey flavour I get in Teavana’s and Elaine’s (Wild Orchid Teas) are missing. The leaves are missing the more aggressive hay smells before brewing, and faintly promise at least a subtle smokiness. I’m sure at one point this tea was just as good as Teavana’a or Elaine’s, but I’m fairly certain that it just got stale – the leave’s length indicates a very high quality black tea. It arrived in a sealed bag, so I must wonder as to how airtight it actually is.
I never thought I’d rate a flavoured tea lower than a straight one, but there you have it, folks…
Originally given as an imperial tribute, and what a tribute to my tastebuds. The leaves are long and full, a dark brown with a bit of lustre. A stone-influenced scent of honey emanates from the leaves. The tea produces a dark amber liquer, and a strong waft of earthy sweetness arises from the cup. The taste delivers this earthiness, with a nice honey-ish undertone carrying the tea through to a crisp, metallic-sweet finish, reminiscent of a pear.
A note on my time: thirty seconds is much too short for standard teapot-strainer infusion on an Oolong tea. This tea was prepared in a yixing clay teapot, in the gonfu style. I will do another review in my gaiwan, but I doubt it will be as flavourful then.
This tea was a gift from Kashyap, as a sample collection to remedy my terrible experiences in finding a decent lavender earl grey.
Leaf appearance: Small, reddish brown tea leaves, accompanied by blue/grey lavender blossoms and scant citrus peels.
Scent: Strong Bergamot, with wonderfully citrus overtones and the floral lavender playing nicely as an undertone.
Wet leaf: Brown, truncated leaves open among greens and oranges from the lavender and citrus peels.
liqueur: Light brown, almost reddish
Nose: Lavender and bergamot dance about a hearty black tea smell
Taste: It’s earl grey, with lavender. Pretty straightforward, and this balance between the citrus-y bergamot and the floral lavender was heavenly.
I would love to purchase this tea in the future.
I’m back to regular steepstering!
The leaf appearance before the brew was actually quite lovely. Large, long needle tea leaves were accompanied by full-sized, open brownish leaves. I saw many two-leaf one-bud pairings, which I found interesting in this white tea that’s supposedly second-third flush.
The dry leaves had a woodsy smell, with an almond-nut undertone. After the brew, the needles opened to reveal subtle greens, and in the strainer, they had the appearance of army camouflage, pre digital BS.
The colour of the tea itself was a light amber, glowing in my glass cup.
The nose was earthy and moist, the nutty undertones from the dry leaf scent coming to play and promising a wonderful undertone.
Flavour: A full bodied, earthy white tea with almond undertones and a smooth, cleansing finish. Almost had a mouthfeel like a homemade mead, smooth and thick.
Overall, I was thrilled with the results of this one. Here, I opted for a two minute brew at 175, which is my standard for white teas.
The Leaf appearance, dry, was a mixture of buds and leaves, silvery-white and brown respectively. Some twigs were contained within. The leaves smelled earthy and sweet, with an subtle fruit undertone I later understood to be peachy. After the brew, the leaves looked like a forest floor after rain; Browns and glistening dark greens. The leaves were rubbery, with almost a crunchy feeling before they gave.
The liqueur of the tea was a beautiful golden yellow, sparkling as topaz in the glass cup I poured it into. The nose was a heavy woody note, with subtle peach undertones. It had almost a chewy, thick earthy taste with a subtle floral undertone and a fruity-sweet finish.
This tea was a sampler from adagio, and originally I followed the 195 degree instructions. I found the tea then to taste horrible, muddy brown and too astringent. Experience has taught me that white tea is white tea is white tea, and even though this isn’t first flush, it’s still best enjoyed under similar conditions. After a few months of not even looking at the tin, I did extend the normal time, and it was a good choice.
I’m not much of an herbal tea fan, but I was requested to serve this at a weekly gaming night with my pals. My review of it is a tart tea with a nice pineapple finish. Most of the group agreed, save for one guy who tried LS once and equates that to all teas, poor soul.
This tea stands on its own about like the Berlin wall does nowadays: The flavour is scattered to and fro, and oft hidden in unlikely places. This is a great tea when surrounded by context, however. I infuse it with White Ayurvedic Chai and Snow Geisha; the pineapple is focused with the cinnamon from the chai, with a cherry aftertaste reminiscent of the subtle cherry topping on a pineapple upside-down cake.
My goodness, what an amazing tea. For starters, the tea leaves were very fresh and had a lot of the original pollen (some incorrectly attribute this to dust). The Jasmine scenting process must have been done exquisitely delicately and with great precision, as I found not a single jasmine petal in a half pound amount of this tea, and as I looked through it all, there were very, very few broken bits. The leaves did dance in my glass infuser, as a good white needle tea should. The taste was an exquisite, mildly sweet white tea with a perfect coupling of Jasmine. Such a relaxing tea… And excellent as a cold brew.