237 Tasting Notes
Way too crazy a day today. Just enough time for one mid-afternoon steep, so I chose something floral and relaxing to try and carve out a little niche of calm. When I opened up the packet, I was hit immediately by the very strong rose aroma – I think there’s a fair bit of rose aroma added to what the petals included in the mix would normally provide. The smell moved into the realm that was getting close to air freshener territory, no longer so natural.
The tea brews up nice and dark, and fortunately the scent tones down the chemical overtones I got from the unsteeped leaf. The black tea it’s based on is unremarkable; so far this is just okay, so let’s see what happens when milk and sugar are added.
Hmm, I think that may have been a mistake. I’m losing the bulk of the rose flavor now – probably would have been better to steep it another minute or so if I was planning on using milk and sugar. The flavors have slunk into the background and aren’t doing such a good job of mixing with the cream; in particular, the combination of rose and cream are making it taste a little curdled. I checked the cream on its own and it seems to be okay, so I guess it’s some kind of interaction between the two. Not my favorite, but I won’t put the rating all the way down as it’s still okay on its own.
Just got the Golden Moon sampler last night, so I’m excited to dig in. After spending most of the week with Den’s subtle greens, I wanted to move to a tea that would smack me in the face with its flavor – hence the choice of Pu-erh Chai. I’d normally drink anything called chai with milk and sugar, but in the interest of unbiased tasting I resolved to do the first half of my little pot without any additives, and then put in the cream and sugar to see how that changed my perception of the flavor.
The first thing to comment on is the generosity of the cardamom – when I opened the packet I counted five fat pods in there. I was a little wary of the “spice oil” in the ingredients list but what the hey, let’s give it a try. I used boiling water and steeped it for four minutes and ended up with a very dark, coffee-colored liquor. Cinnamon is strongly present, and after a few sips I’m willing to bet there’s a good dose of clove oil in there; I’m getting that tingly numbing sensation this substance usually gives me. Cardamom is making an appearance, and there standing in the background is the earthy pu-erh flavor, not nearly as strong as I would have expected. Much more subtle than the pu-erh I’ve had in the past.
Okay, second half of the pot with milk and sugar. Now that’s better! It looks like hot chocolate now and tastes almost as good. If anything though the pu-erh flavor is buried even deeper and mostly shows up as an aftertaste, which makes me wonder: Why would I choose this over regular chai? I don’t yet have a good answer to that…
Score goes up for the flavor, but comes down again because of the “what’s the point?” factor.
This one from my Den’s sampler pack; it gives me a chance to compare it to their Fukamushi sencha. The dry leaves are dark and feathery light, and exude a clean vegetal scent with an interesting top note. What is that? It’s very clean, so clean in fact it reminds me of soap!
1st steep: 180 degrees, 60 seconds. Like lots of different green vegetables all rolled up into one. I taste broccoli and spinach, slightly sweetened. Den’s tasting notes indicate a slight bitterness, but I’d go so far as to say very slight. There’s also a slick background of roastiness – one coat of paint on the walls of the room the veggies are sitting in.
2nd steep: boiling, 15 seconds. It’s amazing how far these leaves transform themselves during the short second steep. They are now bright green and easy to make out as large pieces of torn up tea leaves. Beautiful! The aroma is great – I want to put butter on that scent and serve it up with brown rice. The taste: much more pronounced astringency this time, sweetness toned down, vegetables still very much present.
I like this tea, slightly more than their Fukamushi.
The uncooked leaves are medium brown and have a deep and pleasant roasted aroma with a hint of sweetness; it’s actually reminding me of tobacco.
1st steeping: boiling, 30 seconds. The roastiness continues, unsurprisingly without the vegetal flavors I got from their genmaicha. There’s a natural sweetness to the flavor too, whch is pleasant. After several sips it’s tasting more like a roasted chicory drink – something I’ve never been too fond of, but in this mild form I may come to enjoy it. Very slight bitter aftertaste.
2nd steep: boiling, 15 seconds. As above, but with the volume turned down by about half.
Not a huge amount of complexity with this tasting; I’ll put on my deerstalker and see if I can detect anything new next time around.
I was a bit at a loss on how to brew this one up – I’d never done genmaicha in a bag before, and Den’s steeping guidelines for loose tea of this variety call for boiling water and 30 seconds. In the end I went with boiling water and 90 seconds, and found it flavorful without being bitter at that stage. The aroma is wonderful; really nutty and toasty, with a grassy scent in there too.
The flavor follows that lead, with roasty and toasty up front; reminds me of puffed wheat cereal. Mild astringency, very subtle grassy note. I’ll be interested to see how this compares to Den’s loose leaf of the same variety!
Already received the green tea sampler pack from Den’s which I just ordered a few days ago – what quick service! I’ll agree with Micah below that they’re good on customer service and providing interesting reading material with the order. I’ll also agree with the tasting hint from the company – this is a mild but complex sencha that reveals a little bit more with each sip. The leaves are light and thin.
1st steep: 180 degrees, 30 seconds. The scent reveals a pronounced vegetal note, and the first taste confirms it. About every other sip (how do they do that?) there is a hint of seaweed rumbling about in the background. There is a faint but persistent aftertaste, grassy and green.
2nd steep: boiling, 15 seconds. A more grassy scent this time, and more astringency in the flavor. A pleasing amount of umami makes it feel more robust the second time around.
One of those mornings when you can’t decide whether to have tea or hot chocolate? Try this one – it does have some chocolate in it, but I taste it more as malt. Like malted milk balls have been crushed up and mixed in. Very un-French, but I guess that’s why they call it American Breakfast. I couldn’t imagine drinking it without milk and sugar. Bottom line – very yummy!
I wish I liked this more! It’s pretty to watch the compressed tea nest unfurl/disintegrate as it steeps, but the flavor… There’s just not enough there for me to appreciate. I’ve tried steeping it longer, and that has just given me a generic oversteeped green tea taste. Not bad, just not at all interesting.
This is a very good red tea – not as powerful as Surabaya, but still very yummy. There is a pervasive but not overpowering citrus, plus hints of sweet spiciness that I haven’t fully identified yet, because they are interwoven with the natural sweetness of the rooibos. I prefer this one without milk and sugar; just my preference for teas with a citrus base.
This is a great tea – I like rooibos to begin with for its honey notes, but Mariage Freres has taken this base and masterfully deepened it to include vanilla and musk. Everyone I’ve served it to has commented on the flavor; it is warming and full-bodied with a long after-taste. It won’t give you a caffeine buzz but it will light up your taste buds!