Cream of Earl Grey by Good Life Tea

Dry leaf aroma: Bergamot with undertones of creamy sweetness.
Preparation: Brewed western style in a glass infuser mug.

First/only steeping: 5 minutes at 210 degrees. 
This Cream of Earl Grey has a pleasant creamy bergamot aroma. Freshly brewed, the black base is smooth and well balanced with the bergamot and vanilla flavors. Sometimes you get an Earl Grey that has too much or too little flavor, or a cream essence that veers towards artificial, however this one is just right. As the cup cools I note a sweeter, sugary undertone which suggested this would make an excellent iced tea.

I received this tea as a free sample, and I want to thank Good Life Tea for the opportunity to taste this. It is quite enjoyable!

Flavors: Bergamot, Cream, Vanilla

Scottish Breakfast by Beautiful Taiwan Tea

Dry leaf aroma: Sweet hay and malt.
Wet leaf aroma: Damp hay with a vegetal tang. 
Preparation: Brewed western style in a ceramic infuser mug.

First/only steeping: 5 minutes at 212 degrees. 
The aroma is malt with undertones of honey and the slightest hint of sweet hay. The main flavors are malt and a pleasant bitterness, with a suggestion of hay at the end of the sip.

A nice all-around breakfast tea. Typically I take mine with honey, but this one stands on its own.

Flavors: Bitter, Hay, Malt

Red Jade Spring Black Tea Lot 306 by Taiwan Tea Crafts

Dry leaf aroma: Sweet potato and malt. 
Wet leaf aroma: Slightly vegetal. 
Preparation: Initial quick rinse, then brewed western style in a ceramic infuser mug.

First steeping: 2 minutes 30 seconds at 205 degrees. 
Red Jade stays true to its dry leaf aroma – pure sweet potato with undertones of malt. While the cup is hot the predominate flavors are sweet potato, malt, and a suggestion of something pleasant that is just beyond description. The mouth-feel is rich, smooth, and a bit creamy; the aftertaste is pure sweet potato. As the cup cools the malty notes come forward, along with a hint of cinnamon.

Second steeping: 3 minutes at 205 degrees. 
Sweet potato is the main aroma for the second infusion. A mild cinnamon essence has appeared in this steeping and blends well with the malt and sweet potato flavors. The mouth-feel is smooth and tingly, and the aftertaste is sweet potato with a cinnamon undertone.

I did not detect any fruit notes during my session, as described on the Taiwan Tea Crafts website.

I am perhaps a bit biased towards this tea, as it is a TRES-18 hybrid (which is a cross between an Assamica strain strain from Burma and the local indigenous wild tea strain), to which I am partial. I enjoy it quite a bit regardless, and recommend it as a solid Taiwanese black tea.

All nerdiness aside, I love “sweet potato” tea! I had to resist the urge to bust out the marshmallows.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Malt, Sweet Potatoes

Honey Black by Beautiful Taiwan Tea

Dry leaf aroma: Sweet and crisp with undertones of honey. 
Wet leaf aroma: Slightly vegetal with suggestions of hay. 
Preparation: Brewed western style in an all-glass infuser mug.

First/only steeping: 5 minutes at 210 degrees. 
The aroma is predominately hay with subtle vegetal notes and the liquor is a medium golden brown. Honey Black tastes much like it smells, hay-vegetal-black tea, with an aftertaste of hay and a vegetal tinge.

Funny enough, while drinking this tea I kept thinking about spinach. I find it odd to experience this in a black tea, albeit I am still learning a lot about varietals.

Flavors: Hay, Spinach, Vegetal

Golden Needle Premium by Mandala Tea

Dry leaf aroma: Cocoa sweetness with a hint of malt. 
Wet leaf aroma: Damp hay with vegetal notes. 
Preparation: Initial 5 second rise, then brewed western style in an all-glass infuser mug.

First steeping: 4 minutes 30 seconds at 205 degrees. 
Freshly steeped the aroma is a fusion of hay, malt, sweet potatoes and cocoa. The liquor is a lovely dark amber and the flavor is smooth and malty with undertones of cocoa and the slightest aftertaste of hay. As the cup cools the taste remains strong with no changes in the flavor profile.

Second steeping: 5 minutes at 205 degrees. 
The second brewing was very much like the first, though not quite as rich.

I received this as a free sample in my order. Thank you Mandala, I enjoyed this quite a bit!

Flavors: Cocoa, Hay, Malt, Sweet Potatoes

Jamais Vu by Nina’s Paris

Dry leaf aroma: Strong and pleasant orange scent.
Preparation: Brewed western style in a ceramic infuser mug.

First/only steeping: 3 minutes at 210 degrees. 
The aroma is fruity with hints of blackcurrant; as the cup cools I detect a bit of orange. While the tea is still quite hot the fruit flavors are muddled together with a subtle bitterness and I get a slightly tart aftertaste. After the cup cools I can pick out the orange but I do not taste the pineapple at all; the bitterness remains.

I have to confess that I dumped out my first cup as I thought I messed up the steep due to the bitterness. Unfortunately, the second cup was still bitter, though less so (I used less leaf for the second brewing).

I might try this iced to see if it makes a difference in the flavor and bitterness.

Flavors: Bitter, Fruity, Orange

Gold Thread Reserve by Red Blossom Tea Company

This is the second tea I ordered from Red Blossom and I am excited to finally do a tasting and prepare my notes.

Dry leaf aroma: Sweet potato with a malty background.
Preparation: Brewed western style in an all-glass infuser cup.

First steeping: 1 minutes 45 seconds at 200 degrees. 
The aroma stays true to the dry leaf – sweet potato and malt, with a slight suggestion of orange. The liquor is a beautiful amber brown which seems appropriate paired with the aromatic suggestions of malt and sweet potatoes (perhaps I am ready for autumn; this color and fragrance combination is lulling me into nostalgia this evening). The flavor is multifaceted and at first it is hard for me to separate the different layers. Foremost is a pleasant maltiness with a delicate sweet potato undertone and I find as I let the cup cool notes of brown sugar appear. I was a bit disappointed I did not detect any raisin or maple syrup in this steeping (as per their website tasting notes). However, when I smell my empty cup the aroma is a heady raisin. The aftertaste is a reminiscent of sweet potatoes, with a slight starchy mouth-feel.

Second steeping: 2 minutes 5 seconds at 200 degrees. 
A sweet potato and malty fragrance still prevails. I do not detect any scent of orange with this steeping but as the cup cools I pick up notes of raisin. For this infusion the brown sugar and raisin notes are shining through the base flavors of sweet potato and malt. The aftertaste is also sweeter, with a refined raisin finish.

Third steeping: 2 minutes 35 seconds at 200 degrees. 
The third brewing has a much weaker aroma; sweet potato and malt again. The flavor is much the same as the second steeping though not as strong. The aftertaste is malty raisin and the starchy mouth-feel is still present.

The fourth steeping was unremarkable though not unpleasant. I think three steepings is a good cutoff for me.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes

Organic Formosa Red, no. 18 by Red Blossom Tea Company

This tea intrigued me with its description so I am pleased to finally be able to taste it for myself and post notes.

Dry leaf aroma: Sweet and slightly malty with a mild trace of tobacco.
Preparation: I prepped the leaves with an initial quick rinse and then proceeded with my session western style (my gaiwan is on the way, so for now I am steeping western style).

First steeping: 2 minutes at 205 degrees. 
The aroma is basic, a moderate black tea scent with the ever-so-slight hint of something more intricate which I cannot describe accurately. The taste is much more complex and the initial mouth-feel is extremely creamy. I’ve not experienced a black tea quite this creamy before; very nice! Buried in the creaminess is a hint of honey and a very subtle aftertaste of baked bread and banana. At the end of this cup, after it had cooled quite a bit, I detected a citrusy aftertaste in addition to the bread and banana essences. Interestingly, the creamy mouth-feel lingered after each sip. Very unique.

Second steeping: 2 minutes at 205 degrees. 
I am detecting a subtle baked bread and banana scent along with the straightforward black tea fragrance. This steeping is not as creamy as the first but is still quite rich. The flavors are less complex but the brew still retains the initial profile of cream, honey, baked bread, and a trace of banana. While the cup is hot I am experiencing more of the citrus aftertaste.

I’d like to try another session using a gaiwan and multiple short steepings to experiment with influencing the flavor profile.

This is a tea that I will add to my permanent stock. Well worth the price and experience!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Banana, Citrus, Creamy, Honey

Milk Oolong by Tao Tea Leaf

I admit that I am still exploring milk oolongs; this is my third one to date. For this session I brewed the leaves western style for a total of 5 steeps. I am not sure if this oolong is scented, flavored, or 100% pure, so I am going with the guess it has nothing added (there is nothing listed on the package or website).

First steeping: 2 minutes 30 seconds at 210 degrees. 
The aroma is quite buttery, almost like movie-theater popcorn. The flavor is creamy and buttery.

Second steeping: 3 minutes at 210 degrees. 
The fragrance is still buttery, with a faint hint of floral. The butter notes are still strong and I detect a slight flowery aftertaste.

Third steeping: 4 minutes at 210 degrees. 
The liquor still smells of butter but the floral scent is gone. I still get a strong butter-creamy flavor with an unexpected lemon (or tart citrus) aftertaste. I quite like this!

Fourth steeping: 5 minutes at 210 degrees. 
Very much the same as the third steeping. The butter scent and flavor is not quite as strong, though the lemon aftertaste is still present.

Fifth steeping: 6 minutes at 210 degrees. 
The fifth infusion has a weak, though still buttery, aroma. The liquor still retains the butter and lemon essences; both are fainter.

I would like to try further steepings but it is late. This tea is not rated extremely high on Steepster, but I loved it. I envisioned myself eating succulent scallops while sipping this milk oolong.

Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Lemon

White Champagne by Tealux

Have you ever had a tea that smelled so good you had considered using it as potpourri? This is one of those teas for me! The aroma is muscatel (grape) with a hint of currant. The description on Tealux notes the crispness of this tea, and I have to agree. DT’s Grape Expectations with a green base is similar, but the white base of this tea is a bit more mellow.

Flavors: Black Currant, Grapes, Rosehips

190 °F / 87 °C 3 MIN, 0 SEC 1 TSP 12 OZ / 354 ML