1328 Tasting Notes
Forgive me, Steepsterites, but I must vent and I know you lot will understand.
My father doesn’t like tea. At all. He feels about tea the same way I feel about beer, i.e. NOPE! Blech! Spitty! My mother enjoys the occasional cup of tea, though, but wants it to be as convenient as possible, so preferably bagged stuff. Recently she has been very fond of Lady Grey from Twinings.
So my father writes me an email saying could I help him find something like that, only maybe a better quality than the Twinings bags and such and such is the budget. Sure, I do some research. Twinings, imo, isn’t actually the worst bag out there, but even so the next step up is loose. And if we’re going for loose, we might as well go that little bit further. So I trawl through AC Perchs’ website and finds a couple that sound to me like they might be similar and I trawl through Carstensens (another large Danish shop, but I have never used them much for no other reason than sort of forgetting they’re there) and find things that are similar.
And I put all these findings in a very long email, which has links to both websites, price per 100 g of each and price of shipping. Plus information that these are loose, not available as bagged, and he should make sure to also get a box of those filter bags to go with or a brew basket or similar for her cup. Also point out that if he wants the tea tinned, he must buy a tin separately. All of which is available for purchase at both websites.
The reply I get doesn’t actually say ‘tl;dr’, but it might as well have. It then becomes further obvious that he didn’t read it all when he says it must be bagged, because otherwise she’ll just never get around to drinking it because it’s too much of a hassle. Clearly he didn’t get to the bit with the filter bags or the brew basket which can just be whacked in the dishwasher afterwards. Then the initial question once again, now posed in a mansplain-y way as though I was five, but with the added strong hint that he would like me to order it for him. Oh, and if necessary could add such and such to the budget.
So I got rather irritated and waited until the next day to reply, in which I had to explain that using a filter bag was no different from making coffee (which is somehow not a hassle. Seriously, spoon leaves into bag or spoon coffee into filter and toss the lot after use, what’s the flipping difference?). Also explained that while sachets do exist, they are not something one can count on, and throwing more money at something will not make it magically exist. Refrained from pointing out that what he was actually asking was similar to wanting a high quality whisky but preferably pre-mixed with cola in the bottle. Husband’s analogy, that one. Also pointed out that I had done my research based on the criteria I had been given.
Reply was, ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, I surrender.’ And THEN the initial question again now posed as though I was three, complete with ‘I don’t know anything about it other than I don’t like it.’ Then he remembered that I had once brought some sachets up for her years ago and could we get some of that again. Oh, and still including the strong hint of the never actually asked question, ’can’t you just order it for me?’
I still refuse to take the bait, because I know he’s not actually that helpless, so I link him directly to the sachets that ACP sell, tell him which two it was that I had bought then, and a few others which are also black tea (my mum’s not really that adventurous, so didn’t want him to get her some green or white blend that she wouldn’t know what to do with). At the same time, I’m thinking that not only did he not bother with reading the initial reply, he also didn’t bother with the links, because if he had clicked on the ACP link, for example, he would have seen a very large bit of the menu that said ‘tea bags’ on it. Also hoping that the direct link will serve as a strong hint that he’s not so helpless he can’t do his own damn Christmas shopping.
The final email from him said he had written to Perchs (hallelujah!) and they had suggested a different blend as the closest thing they had to Lady Grey, so he’d ordered 100 g of that.
To be fair, he did also get two boxes of sachets, but still. After all this hassle he put me through because he didn’t want loose, he goes and buys her a #¤%#%# loose tea!
Give me strength…
Do you lot have to deal with these people as well, or is it just me? At least I avoided doing his shopping for him. For the record, I’d happily have ordered something for him if he had asked me to. I do not, however, volunteer just because he’s feeling whingy. I’ve got my own shopping to deal with, thanks.
Am putting all this under this particular tea, because I’m having a cup and it’s life-giving, and I need life-giving after all that.
( ETA Please be aware that I may choose to remove this post again later on. Right now it’s simply a need to share so I can get it out of my head.)
- * * * Parcel Mishaps * * * *
Back in the beginning of September I made a Verdant order. This was the first time in a while I ordered from them, because the shipping cost makes it rather a luxurious place to shop for me. But as I had filled out their customer survey earlier I was in possession of a coupon, plus I had allowed myself to do it in celebration of not losing my job. (Huge cuts, threat of redundancies. Luckily sacking anybody did not become necessary. Long and uninteresting story.) So, I ordered and waited.
Turned out this parcel was to be followed by bad luck from start to finish to start to finish.
You see, my parcel was initially mis-delivered to a completely different country. This is what I think happened. I had ticked the box saying I didn’t mind recycled packing material, and I think the people at the post office accidentally went by an old address that hadn’t been properly blacked out. At least, that’s the only way I can imagine a parcel to Denmark winding up successfully delivered in the Czech Republic.
The tracking number destination did say the Czech Republic, but that didn’t bother me too much at the time, because I thougt that showed the next stop on the parcel’s journey and that there was some sort of postal hub there to go through. But then it said delivered successfully, which finally got me a bit suspicious.
So I wrote to Verdant that I thought either something had gone wrong with the shipping or I’d been told the wrong tracking number. And then I got an auto-reply saying someone would get back to me about the problem shortly.
So I waited.
For a week.
Then I posted a comment on their Facebook page asking if someone could please look at my question. That got me a reply within a few hours. I think I must have been somehow forgotten. Anyway, they repacked my order and refunded me the shipping cost. They also said they had added a little extra that they thought I would like by way of further compensation. I thought that was rather nice of them, expecting it to be an extra sample or something.
Then there was some sort of holiday in China which meant outgoing post was delayed. Then the tracking number didn’t get updated at all for ten days.
Then finally something happened and the last thing registered on it was on the 4th of November. Don’t know what because it was all still in Chinese, but at least it had the correct country on it as destination, so I wasn’t too concerned this time.
I had just checked the tracking number earlier to day to find it still only saying something in Chinese, when the doorbell rang and there it was!
AT LAST! Only took two months. And the extra little something they thought I’d like. Not just an extra sample. Two pouches! This is one of them, the other is golden fleece, which I can’t remember if I’ve had before. I have apparently had this one before and was in fact wondering why I didn’t order it in the first place. I expect it was simply just to keep the cost at a reasonable level.
Note, please, that I’m not in any way blaming Verdant for all this or saying that it’s somehow their fault. It’s nobody’s fault, really. Accidents happen, and this particular parcel was simply more accident prone than most. Yeah, they could have been quicker getting back to me with my support request, but they got there with only one instance of nagging required, and again, if I’d been forgotten, accidents happen. It’s not a big deal once we get there in the end. Plus the refund of shipping fee AND the two extra pouches were generous compensation indeed. All in all my order was probably loss-making for them.
I have to admit, though, that I was feebly hoping whoever in the vicinity of Prague received the original parcel might realise the error and forward it to me. Didn’t happen. I don’t blame them for not doing it, and I genuinely hope they enjoyed the contents because it’s jolly good stuff. All is well that ends well. For me and for a random lucky Czech.
- * * * Here is where the story ends. Tl;dr parcel misdelivered, received replacement with extra goodies. * * * *
I can see that I’ve had this one before and enjoyed it, so I was quite pleased about Verdant having chosen this as part of my compensation. I wonder if they looked me up. Not sure they could have known I was me, but I like to pretend that they did.
It’s quite cocoa-y and wood-y in the aroma, but when you then sip it, it’s got a bit of orange as well, peel rather than flesh. Still quite wood-y and with a touch of astringency, though. The cocoa is mostly present on the aftertaste. We’re not talking chocolate here, mind. I mean cocoa as in the powder.
The orange peel is making me search for traces of Christmas-y spices. This strikes me as a fairly Christmas-y tasting sort of cup for some reason. I want to be able to find some cinnamon in here and some cloves, but I can’t. I just for some reason really want them to be there.
No. 21… I’ve always wondered about this with Kusmi. What are the other 20?
Anyway, I was in a different supermarket from my normal one yesterday. I’m home alone for a couple of days (again!) so I was looking for something easy and unhealthy for my dinner. It’s the same chain as my normal one, but bigger. I was looking for something else in the tea/coffee section, when I spotted the easily recognisable Kusmi tins. There was this one and the 4 Red Fruits and… I think one more, but can’t remember which. I thought, eh, why not? I only took this one because a) I’m not made of money, and b) 4 Red Fruits is a known quantity and c) we’ve already got Tea Palace’s Queen of Berries and so don’t need another soft fruits flavoured tea.
I’ve never had this one before, actually, because I’ve been a bit wary of it being Yunnan black. My relationship with the black teas of Yunnan is a bit fraught. Some of them are really really nice, but some of them also just tastes like drinking liquid hay with pepper in it. I’m not a fan of the latter, but it seems to be mostly the more golden ones that do this.
So I chanced it and am pleased to report, that while there are a bit of golden tips in it, it’s not golden golden. Bodes well.
The aroma has a bit of hay in it though, and something which I can only really describe as ‘horse’, but I don’t really mean that in a bad way. I mean, horses are quite whiffy, but if you are a horse-person, it’s a smell with all sorts of awesome associations to it. What I’m getting at is that the horse-y smell in here doesn’t so much pong of actual horse as it brings on lovely (non-horse-y) associations. I’m not explaining this very well, am I? I’m not even a horse-person myself, although my childhood/teenage self would have LOVED to be one. The closest I come is a friend I had in my teens who had a fat, lazy pony on which she gave me some very basic lessons in posture and how to (in theory, it being a very lazy pony) make it go.
Tastewise, I was sort of expecting a bit more. It’s nice, but it strikes me as a bit thin in the middle notes. The initial notes are strong and the aftertaste is decent, but in the middle there? It’s like it’s not really trying. Like it puts some effort into the front end of the sip and thinks that’s sufficient. If I hold it on my tongue for a little bit, though, I can prolong the initial notes of pepper, a little bit of hay, slight astringency, and slightly burnt toast, but that’s not the same. I’m missing the smoothness and the malty thickness that I know from Keemun and from the Fujian blacks.
This really is an entirely different beast from those. But then again, if you look at the map of China, they’re not exactly grown next door to one another either, so differences are indeed to be expected.
So where does this fall on a scale from ‘peppery liquid hay’ to ‘nice and sweet dark nom’. Oooooh probably right in the middle. It’s taking on qualities of one, but not yet letting go of the those of the other. It’s nice and drinkable, but not really an epiphany in a cup.
I asked Husband what sort of hot drink he would like this morning (hoping he wouldn’t say coffee because he’s under the weather and I’d have to grind the beans myself.)
Anyway, he asked for tea.
I asked him if there was a specific one he would like.
He said, “one that mysteriously cures all illness.”
Hm. Tall order…
Eventually, I decided that this would translate to one of the teas in the Life-Giving category, of which Golden Monkeys are prominent members.
So that’s what I made him. Extra strength.
“Oh, did you forget it?” he asked.
The cheek! No, I did not, in fact, forget it. I added extra leaf. On purpose.
Now, if Husband had to pick a most favourite black, I would guess he’d say Golden Monkey. Even more so, mysteriously, than Tan Yang, which is just something I don’t get. Luckily my favourite and his favourite are so similar that they are pretty much interchangable for our purposes.
As it turns out, extra-strength brewing of this one makes it sort of thicker feeling. Bit like there’s some sort of cream in it that you can feel but not taste. At this point, Husband came in and distracted me by showing me a rainbow visible through the window. A really big one too, the whole arch. I tried to take a photo through the window but don’t know how it turned out. Haven’t looked yet.
Second steep is even more extra strength, but this time it wasn’t so much on purpose as it was putting less water in the pot than I thought. That ‘invisble cream’ feeling is still there. This time it’s also more malty and a bit caramelly. It actually tastes like a darkish but still golden caramel brown colour. My head is filled with that colour when I sip. At this strength there is also a smidge of a rough smoky quality to it, but I know that’s really only just because it’s brewed so strong.
I got this with my recent Yunnan Sourcing order and I have no clue why. I don’t really drink very much pu-erh, so why I would even look at it is a mystery. I can’t remember having done so, I can’t remember having put it in my basket and I can’t remember having ordered it. I can’t even remember why I would order it.
But it’s on my order confirmation, so I must have, mustn’t I?
And, you know, it’s not like I don’t like pu-erh. I like it just fine. It’s just, most of the time I’d rather have something else. I feel much the same way about green tea, actually.
But then for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been drinking it on my Wednesdays. And now I’m finding myself a little concerned about how much is in the pouch. Or rather, about how much isn’t in the pouch.
No, it’s not knock-your-socks-off-super-duper-fabulous. It’s merely… very drinkable. Which in a way is actually better, because when something is knock-your-socks-off-super-duper-fabulous a lot of people, and I think many of you will agree, will try to preserve it, fearing of running out and ultimately wind up not actually drinking it. With an eminently drinkable tea you get a really good tea which you actually allow yourself to have.
This one is running low on me, but it doesn’t make me stop making it for fear of running out. When it’s gone it’s gone and that’s all. If I’m not drinking something because I’m hoarding it or if I’m not drinking it because I haven’t got it really amounts to the same thing in the end.
So while I have it, I’m actually enjoying it. It’s mild and smooth and slightly earthy and slightly mushroom-y. I can’t even really describe it. It’s one of those ‘just tastes like tea shrug’ kind of teas. With qualifiers for the type, obviously
Will it make me drink more pu-erh? Doubtful. I see this pouch as a bit of a fad, really. It’ll pass, I expect. (It always does) Now, if you’ll excuse me, these designs don’t stitch themselves, you know.
Some of you may remember that this is my favourite vanilla black of all time. I’ll tell you a bit about my relationship with Fru P at this point and then I’ll leave it up to you lot to decide what that says about me.
When she just opened the shop, it was shortly after Husband and I got married, so I pretty much just bounded in there in an almost Tigger-esque way, “Are you Mrs P? I’m also Mrs P!” (Fru being Danish for Mrs) I got myself a little bit in trouble with her tea selection, but of course I needed to try the vanilla and it was awesome.
I still keep coming back to stock up on that one. It’s just right for me.
A few months ago when I was in getting a big supply of it to drink at work, I was being helped by one of her assistants, and I asked for “that good vanilla black.”
So the assistant went and got the tin, and Mrs P came rushing in from the side going, “wait, wait, that’s not the one she wants! I’ll get the one she wants,” and then she disappeared out back for a moment.
Turns out when they had last ordered it in, they had bought a vanilla flavoured Darjeeling instead of the regular vanilla black, and Mrs P knows I don’t much care for Darjeeling. Luckily she still had some of the old one out back.
Then, yesterday I was in there again, obviously looking for some of my favourite vanilla.
Now, what does it say about me that the exchange went much like this,
Me: slightly conspiratorial look “That vanilla, you know…”
Mrs P: smiles and goes out back "How much would you like?
She assured me that they weren’t going to replace it completely with the Darjeeling one, so now I’m sort of wondering if she’s hiding the other one out there for the benefit of only a few customers. Obviously, this means that the tea isn’t exactly super-fresh anymore, but you know, in a flavoured black tea that’s less of an issue that it would have been in, say, a green or even a regular black. I feel a bit sort of special and VIP-ish when I order ‘off the menu’ like that.
I love that shop, I really do. I took an intant liking to Mrs P first time I met her, and have never had reason to change my mind. Quite the contrary, actually. And I’m not even in there every other week either.
My long Steepster break has really changed my tea habits into something far more relaxed than before. I’m going to try my damndest to keep it at this level. It feels… healthier, if you know what I mean. And I didn’t even think I was all that obsessive before. I feel like I’m carrying less weight around having realised that I don’t need a tea of every flavour and six different breakfast black and a dozen afternoon teas. Two or three of each is all I require. Maybe one or two extra as a luxury, but still. Keep it small. It means I shop tea far less frequently (and again, it wasn’t even super frequent before) and I do it differently. I shop when I want something in particular and then go straight for those items. After that, I’ll allow myself one or two other samples.
That’s how I got this one. I wanted a couple of things that we have previously enjoyed from TP and this was the sample that I allowed myself. The thing about TP’s samples is that they’re quite large. :) I’m not sure why I went for this one, actually. It’s not a flavour I would normally be interested by. I think I must have been having mango-y thoughts recently when I saw it. Perhaps a recipe with mango in it or something.
It’s an alright tea, really. It just doens’t really taste like mango. It’s more like generic tropical fruit and quite Ceylon-y. I suspect a mid- to high-grown one too. I can see how the spicy grassy flavour of a high-grown Ceylon might match well with tropical fruits, but on the other hand… It rather makes me wonder how it would have presented itself if the base hadn’t been a Chinese/Ceylon blend. What if it had been Chinese only? Or even just a lower grown Ceylon without those spicy-grassy notes? I wonder if that would have made the mango present more as actual mango or if it’s not connected at all.
I don’t know. It’s an alright tea, really. But that’s all it is.
Found the rest of this in the drawer and thought why not? Apparently I previously thought it had a pear-y aftertaste. I feel quite keen on a bit of pear flavour this morning, so let’s hope I still think it’s there.
Funnily enough, first time I had it I also wrote I should update my Steepster cupboard as it was horribly out of date. Today I’m thinking I should just empty it out what with not really having used it at all for eight months. Not sure I will again this time around. I’m trying to make my site usage a lot more casual than what it was, so it’s very much back to basics. You may also have noticed that I’ve discarded the numerical ratings in favour of the recommendation buttons instead. I’m pretty much aiming for ‘Steepster Light’ here. I will let the ratings made previously stand though.
Anyway, very sweet, very nutty. That definitely hasn’t changed, even though the leaf is getting a bit on the old side. There’s a strong flavour of nuts to it. I had a phase shortly before I stopped coming here where I was deeply into nut-flavoured teas. Shame I didn’t remember this one then. I couldn’t really tell you which kind of nut I think it’s more like. One sip I think walnut, the next sip I think hazelnut. Possibly we’re dealing with a nut flavour sort of in between the two.
Pear-y aftertaste, though? No, not really. Looks like if I want pear flavour this morning I should go and eat a pear.
I have (nearly) always been a Chinese black kinda girl. I do occasionally enjoy others as well, like I’m partial to a good Assam and I wouldn’t say no to a low-grown Ceylon or a particularly good Kenya, but deep down the Chinese blacks is where I ‘live’ preference-wise.
Taiwanese blacks are sort of the same family (political controversies not even taken into account) and they have lots of the same qualities. Like for example one of the things I like about the Chinese blacks is how they are nearly impossible to ruin. If you have a good leaf, you can steep it to kingdom come and it will still come out perfectly drinkable. Perhaps a little less nice than if you’d done it properly, granted, but it won’t be totally ruined. In comparison, if you did the same thing with an Assam or a Ceylon, it would be a highly unpleasant experience indeed.
I don’t have much experience with Taiwan, though. It’s one of those things, you see. You tell yourself you should explore this or that type or this or that area but just never really seem to get around to it. So when I got a newsletter from Yunnan Sourcing, announcing the opening of Taiwan Sourcing, I jumped at the chance immediately and got a small amount of each of the three blacks they offered. The first one was the one I posted about last time I posted. This is one of the other two.
This is actually saying a lot, as I have entered a phase where I’m less focused on having an enormous amount of tea choice at all time and wanting to try all the teas and all the shops and all the flavours and find the perfect this and the perfect that. This is what happens when you stop using a site for 8 months. In recent times I’ve rather thrown myself at embroidery and am more likely to be spending money on stitching supplies. (So many designs! So little time!)
Anyway, this tea is very minty when you smell it. So minty, you’d think there was mint in it, but there isn’t. There’s a great deal of camphor-y notes to it as well.
It’s slightly astringent when drinking it, especially as it cools down a bit, but not nearly so much as to bother those who don’t care for astringency, I don’t think. I mean, we’re not on an Indian teas level of astringency here. But a touch of it, yes. There’s a cinnamon-like aftertaste as mentioned in the description of it, but for me it’s primarily quite malty and dark tasting. It’s very nice.