237 Tasting Notes
Bam! This is definitely shake-you-by-the shoulders tea. The name translates to “East Frisian Sunday Tea”, and all I can say is that those East Frisians really know how to make a strong cuppa. This particular example has vanilla pieces in it, so the smell of the dry leaf is a wonderful mix of malty tea leaves and warm vanilla.
Although I usually steep black teas for four minutes, I’m going to hold this one at three minutes for this first tasting, just to be on the safe side. It comes out a dark, clear brown with a really enticing sweet and spicy aroma. In drinking the first bit without additives, it’s like the two sides of the tea are both shouting – “I’m black tea! Taste ME!!” and “I’m vanilla! Taste ME!!” which for me means it’s time to calm them down a bit with some half and half and sugar.
Ahh, that’s better. Now it’s much silkier, but the black tea and vanilla flavors are both still very much there. The creaminess has also opened up a hint of coconut. Great way to wake up the palate!
Two subtle but still buttery and sweet steeps of this one today. This is the one that has really opened up my appreciation for white teas; sometimes I’m in the mood for something that is strong and powerful, and other times I want something that is more of a caress than a smack – this is that one. Grassy, fresh, and healthy feeling.
Another recent acquisition from Demmers – at this time of year, I couldn’t resist a tea called “Winter Dream”, and the ingredients (almond, wild cherry, lemon) sounded great. It’s a very festive looking tea too, with lots of colorful little flower petals strewn throughout. The smell on opening the pack was wonderful – strong on the cherry, but the almond and citrus were definitely present too.
I know I’ll eventually want to add milk and sugar to this one, but I’ll start the tasting with it straight up. Nice! Those three flavors go really well together; cherry is still out front, but almond is washing all over the background, while lemon hits a consistent high note throughout the swallow. There’s medium astringency, not too much.
With the additives the flavor profile is quite different. Now the almond is up front, with the cherry in the middle as a fruity note and lemon flitting around lightly in the back. Perfect tea for the season. Wish I had a little cherry-almond tart from our local bakery to go with this, that would be an excellent pairing!
Finishing up the sample pack of this very fine pu-erh, so I’m using a little more leaf than normal in order to avoid a too-weak cup next time around. At this strength I’m getting more of a roasty flavor, as well as something akin to a dried dark cherry flavor, both of which are a good after-lunch complement. And though it may just be psychosomatic, it does feel like it is having a positive effect on my digestion!
Just got back from a week’s business trip in Vienna, where I had a chance to pick up some more tea from both Demmers and TeaGschwendner – more reviews coming soon! This particular one is one of a handful of little single serving bags I picked up so I could try a bunch of different kinds and still travel carry-on only. I also haven’t tried to many different Assams and was intrigued by the description of this one being strong with malty notes.
It steeps up to a clear, dark brown liquor, which does have a noticeable sweet and yeasty aroma. The first sip confirms that this is a strong brew – it sports a little peppery tingle, rich malty flavor, and a moderate amount of astringency, probably about 6 out of 10 on the astringency scale. It’s a great Monday morning, shake me out of jet-lag tea. Even without any additives, it’s got a substantial, chewy texture, so I think it would probably hold up to milk and/or sugar pretty well.
I am so pulled in two opposite directions by this tea – on the one hand, I want to make it last as long as possible because it is so wonderful (ah yes, also because it ain’t cheap!), and therefore limit how often I have it and how much leaf I use. On the other hand, I want to be able to do multiple strong, tasty infusions and therefore use a generous amount of dry leaf.
Today strong and tasty won out. Yum! It was really sweet and bready, like I’d dissolved some sort of cookie into it. Nilla Wafers? Graham Crackers? Don’t know, but it was dang good.
Just as an experiment, I thought I’d bring down the temperature another couple notches for this one to see what would happen. So far I’ve used 205, 200, and 195, but this time I’m bringing it down to 185 – all at three minutes.
The result seems to be less emphasis on the roasty notes, and more on the juicy – combined with the slight hitch of astringency still present, it’s reminiscent of biting into a tart Granny Smith apple that somehow still has just a bit of oven-baked flavor in it. A really nice cup of Darjeeling.
Haven’t had this one in a while, and decided to revisit it without any milk or cream and just a little sugar. This really let the strength of the tea base come through, which was good. It has a fair bit of astringency and is very aromatic with the smell of a nice Irish whiskey. That slightly heady aroma fits in nicely with the season, as it evokes for me mince pies, plum puddings, and other sweets which have been fortified with a shot of something a little stronger to keep you warm. I think this tea would pair nicely with any of those types of treats.
Started my day with a couple pleasing steeps of this. It was sweet and earthy, and very forgiving on steep times – I did about 4 minutes the first time around and longer than that the next time, and neither cup was overly strong or bitter. I also like the subtle notes that are wrapped up in the earthiness; today I got a very subtle spice tone as well as some cherry jam-like flavors.
I squeezed the last little bit I had of this into one final, smooth cup of great tea. It’s got such a nice, rounded flavor to it. The malt, roast, starch, and fruit notes all dance around so well with each other – it’s truly a shame that the supplier is no longer in business.