237 Tasting Notes
Went through a bunch of steepings on this, my last sample tuo cha. After a quick rinse with boiling water, the first infusion was strong enough to put hair on my chest – following ones were mellower and by infusion four and five, it was really sweet, woody, and earthy. A very enjoyable pu erh.
This time I think I made the water a bit too hot – still a good cup of tea, but it was more roasty in character, stronger on the astringency, and the fruity flavors were a little washed out. That’ll teach me! I’ll have to tread more lightly with first flush Darjeelings in the future.
Despite that, I still got a nice set of tastes to enjoy. Stone fruit, touches of floral and spice there too along with the aforementioned roastiness – which wasn’t a bad thing, just not what I usually go to Darjeelings for.
A sweet and tasty way to start off the week – I noticed the cashew flavors more than usual in the batch I made up this morning, while still keeping track of the white chocolate notes. Even after close to five minutes, I did not get any trace of bitterness. The cream and sugar helped it remain smooth, but I think the black tea base is also high enough quality to avoid any problems with the taste.
Had the day off yesterday, and therefore the opportunity to take this final Samovar sample pack home and cook it up according to the directions on the label. I used regular white sugar as the sweetener and a Tbsp of Mariage Freres cinnamon-orange black tea as the extra as I thought those flavors would probably blend well.
As it was boiling on the stovetop it smelled really good – spicy and warm, perfect for a crisp fall day. The flavor was quite pungent – the sweetness was right on the mark but there was one element of the spice flavor that was really strong, and I have a feeling it was the cardamom. I did note several pods in the packet and find for me that this flavor, though I like it a lot, can easily go over the edge if overdone. If I were to try this again in the future I’d probably make sure there were no more than one or two cardamom pods in there. That’s just a matter of personal taste though; in general I found this to be very tasty and well balanced in the other spices – cinnamon, clove, pepper, ginger all found a home.
Trying this one for a second time, and I’ll be switching up the parameters a little, decreasing the steep time to see what flavors that brings out. I still find the tuo cha to have a very mild and slightly nutty aroma, and the liquor to be not as reddish as many other pu erhs.
An initial rinse, and then a one minute steeping time. Now rather than savory, the liquor is sweet, with a definite earthy flavor and something akin to chocolate in the background. Very different from the inital long steep I did last time. The second steep is at two minutes, and is still quite sweet. I’m also getting more of the savory at this stage, plus continuing earthiness. I think this would be a good tea to continue experimenting with – it seems to yield interestingly different results with varying parameters.
I promised myself I’d try this again with cream and sugar, so here we are. I steeped it up pretty strong, until I could really smell the yeasty baked goods aroma of the black tea, then added a good dollop of cream and some sugar to boot. How nice! It’s very comforting this way, and doesn’t lose track of the characteristics I like most about this tea. I really think it’s only my imagination, but I keep thinking there may be a hint of cinnamon in there – probably only because I really want to have a gooey sticky bun to go with this and don’t!
My last bit of this sample was a little more than I needed, but I liked the slightly stronger taste it yielded. I went three steeps, and really did find very different characteristics in each one. The first was sweet and floral, juicy and just a little vegetal. The second was more strongly vegetal, moving closer to a sencha style in buttered vegetable goodness. The third was grassy, still sweet, and had just a hint of roastiness. A very nice trio of tastes from one spoonful of leaf!
Cleaning out the last little bit of yet another Mariage Freres favorite. Although I’ve had this batch for a while and it’s no longer the freshest, I still got a good dose of warm spiciness, with orange, clove and vanilla all still doing their best to make an appearance. With cream and sugar it’s a real treat and makes me feel like I’ve already had my dessert for the day!
A couple steeps of this today, and for some reason I’m finding it toastier and fruitier than usual. The toastiness is so present in fact that it’s reminding me a little of genmaicha, with the sweet fruitiness bringing it into the realm of Tie Guan Yin. Kind of surprising given my previous tastings which emphasized more the vegetal and seaweed notes of this tea. Still, I like a tea that keeps me guessing!
My last serve of this until I get a chance to restock sometime in the next few months. It’s warm and spicy, heavy on the clove and ginger and with a strong black tea base that avoids bitterness. It’s got quite a caffeine kick to it as well, which is just right for an otherwise slow Monday morning. Even though I didn’t prepare in the traditional chai manner, with cream and sugar this makes a nice substitute.