313 Tasting Notes
I don’t make sense.
How is it that I am disappointed to the point of mild irritation with teas that taste like grass and barley – scents and flavors which I don’t really mind, yet I find enjoyment in drinking teas that remind me of mushrooms, which I do actively dislike?
This tea is astringent as hell. Even a bit bitter. And that dirt-like, mushroom flavor isn’t a deep mossy bed flavor, it’s right here and right now and HEY! Stop daydreaming and wake up! Coffee substitute tea? Oh, yes. Why do I enjoy it so?
At the end of the day, I think it’s because mushroomy-tasting breakfast teas were some of the first things I tried when I began my giant tea experiment, and for better or worse, I now have that flavor engrained in my mind as “tea.” And I came to this tea expecting a stroooong breakfast tea. It’s kind of in the same category as lapsang souchong – it’s a really strong flavor profile that I know I’ll either enjoy or have fun thinking of ways to describe how goddamn strong it tastes.
And this brings me back to my ever-recurring theme with tea: expectations are everything. I wonder what would happen if I never read a product description before buying a tea again?
Anywho, in conclusion. Irish Breakfast: my go-to for those mornings I cannot drag my ass out of bed – and my head out of my ass – to save my life!
This is actually attempt #2 at this tea, because the first time I was so underwhelmed/distracted that it didn’t really feel fair basing my review upon that reaction.
It is time I finally admitted out loud that I am not the fan of Verdant Teas that everyone else seems to be. By now, I have tried all five of the teas from my $5 sampler. I’m growing accustomed to the Laoshan Black, but as for the rest, they’re all high-quality teas, but none of them are the flavors I want to be drinking when I drink tea. What’s more is that I’m developing hype aversion toward them, very similar to the lump in my heart I’ve had for years that is my feelings toward Firefly. It’s quite possible that I’m just “doing it all wrong,” but I kind of don’t want to give that company the satisfaction of trying it and proving myself wrong. Ah, spiteful closed-mindedness.
This tea. It’s an oolong, so I feel like I should be getting all sorts of complex flavors, swirling over my tastebuds like colors in a kaleidoscope. Well, there’s barley… and there’s barley… and it’s kinda grassy… and the item description says “creamy custard” and “burnt caramel” but there’s still barley… SERIOUSLY! Is something amazingly wrong with my tastebuds? Am I an uncivilzed brute? Did I oversteep the f***er yet again? Where’s the creamy, buttery taste?!?!? Am I crazy?
Not rating this one. My opinion seems to be an outlier. Perhaps it really can’t be appreciated unless you do short steepings in the gongfu. Which I do not own yet. Hmmmm, maybe that’s how I’ll blow my commission check…
I have not got my s*** together on the tea front tonight! First I heated the water, then let it sit for forever and ever and ever to cool while I whipped up an Excel spreadsheet for work, then dinked around on OK Cupid. Then I remembered that I had tea to brew, so I brewed it, then sat back down to OK Cupid, fully intending to get up in two minutes. Half an hour later, I remembered that I had just steeped a white tea for about ten to fifteen times longer than it was supposed to steep. Whoops.
I’m not going to rate this tea. It seems to be held in quite high regard. I overdid jasmine in my introduction to tea. I used to love it, and then I made myself get to the point where smelling jasmine gives me the vaguest hint of a headache, that kind you get when you’re really sick of eating something. At least it doesn’t taste like burnt turkey! This is the second time I have WAY oversteeped a white tea and it tastes fine. Is it because I let it cool too long? What’s going on?
Backlog. This was the second of three teas I ordered, because I’d heard different versions of it compared to black dragon pearl, which of course is my FAVORITE.
I’ll have to retry it more carefully and not on the way to work to be sure, but it doesn’t remind me so much of black dragon pearl because I didn’t get the cocoa/raisin undertones. I did, however, get a pleasant sweetness, with a bit of astringency that reminded me of a Western tea. Will probably become a standard.
Backlog from yesterday. This is one of the three new black teas I ordered to try, since I’d heard a lot about this one and figured I wouldn’t be a good tea addict unless I tried it. Damn good thing I picked this one, because what was supposed to be a 7.5 hour day at work turned into a 12 hour day! Complete with unexpectedly having to train one of our new part-timers, AND forgetting my phone on the way home and having to turn back around and get it!
The first time I tasted it, it gave me the impression that I’d oversteeped it. Not a pleasant taste at all. But the more I drank it, the more it just reminded me of a stronger, mushroomier version of English Breakfast. Then again, I was drinking it on the fly in a cup that tasted like dishwasher detergent. I’ll have to give this one another go before I rate it.
Backlog from last night because I deleted the wrong tasting note, dammit!
Drank this for the second time while watching Les Miserables. Had it once before and forgot what I thought of it. I had written a tasting note under the wrong item, so here’s the copy and paste from the first note:
“This is my first tie guan yin, so clearly I have no idea what to expect or what to look for. I like the leaves; they’re a really pretty dark green and rolled, very easy to handle. There’s a deep, slightly spicy aroma if I remember correctly. Which I don’t think I do. Ah well. The liquour itself has a green aroma with a sliver of a subtle, dark sweetness. Like honeysuckle or bai mu dan.
“The first thing that hits the tongue is fresh grass. It’s that bright green flavor that I have to be in the right mood for (read: wanting something “clean” or a tummy that feels a little stale.) I’m not tasting the “creamy” that’s in the item description. Or the mango. Fresh parsley maybe. Right before I swallow, though, there is that little note of sweet, kind of honey-ish but more like honeysuckle.
“Tea tasting is the only time in my life I regret not being a foodie. If I were a foodie, or at least ate a semi-diverse range of foods like normal people do, I would be able to pick out a bunch of little flavors and tell you about them. As it is, all I can say is that, on the first go-round, this reminds me a lot of Arbor Teas’s bai mu dan, except much heavier on the grassy side than the sweet side. The next time I make this, I’m going to have to take the temp and steep time down a notch; I detect a hint of overdone. Not enough to make it unpalatable, just enough that I want to try it differently next time.”
Got mostly the same effect the second time around, except this time I had a vague idea of what I was getting into. I forgot I’d oversteeped it that first time; I didn’t have that problem this time, so I can diagnose that as operator error and not a problem with the quality of the tea. Everybody seems to really like this tea; I can certainly vouch for the quality, but I think I’m falling out of love with green teas a bit. I prefer ones with a little bit more sweet and a little bit less vegetal. Still, certainly a good “relax and freshen up” tea.
I’m finding that with tea I haven’t had before, knowing what to expect is half the battle. Now that I remember the peculiar flavor I got last time, I’m not as off-put by it today.
I’ve been slacking on the tea a little bit as of recent history. I’m not sure why. I haven’t been on Steepster as much because… well, I was in a weird mood all of last week, and once I fall out of a habit, it takes me a little bit to get back into it.
I’ve finally sipped down some more of my teas! I still feel guilty getting more, but…