Greetings Steepsterites! I have returned from the Big Wild Unknown, aka a summer house near the southern tip of the country with boyfriend and his parents. It was a good trip and we were there for a week doing a little touristing, some reading, and a lot of relaxing. Managed to finally get rid of my cough while there. Returned on friday, visited my parents saturday for the parents-parents meeting (went well also, it seemed) and then back to work monday. Boyfriend’s parents went back to the UK this morning. Boyfriend will also go to the UK next weekend, poor him. The weekend after that is planned out with no plans. This is sorely needed and has even been put in the calendar.
In other words, I’m pooped. Well, truly and utterly pooped. What I need now is a good heartening cup of tea, and as luck would have it I am now also in position to finally try some of the nommies that QuiltGuppy sent me before I went away on holiday. At last! A process, however, somewhat hindered by the fact that the kettle broke the other day, the on and off button breaking clear off, so making tea is a frightfully complicated business involving saucepans and good aim. (There are very good odds, though, that aforementioned boyfriend will bring home a new kettle from the UK on monday. There’s a long story behind this, which I will tell if you’re interested.)
I decided to start with Queen Catherine because it seems to be a steepsterite favourite and because other people’s posts on it previously leads me to believe that it is indeed a heartening cup.
I was surprised by the leaf aroma. It was much grassier and spicy-er than I had imagined it would be. A second sniffing also reveals something a little floral, a little grainy and almost a tiny bit pseudo-smoky, which makes me wonder what this tea is actually blended of. Right off the top of my head I would guess something involving a Darjeeling-ish type and a Keemun.
After steeping, I’m more thinking the hay-like notes of a Yunnan. How confusing is this! There’s still the grainy, semi-pseudo-smoky note, but the grassy note that reminded me of Darjeeling is thankfully gone. Self is not a Darjeeling fan, you see. All in all, it’s a very strong aroma, sort of forceful and serious. It really does smell like it will be just the heartening cup of tea that I’m looking for here.
The flavour was a surprise again. There’s that pesky grassy Darjeeling-esque note again! I have to say I was hoping my nose was playing tricks on my when sniffing at the dry leaf, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Oh bother.
That aside, though, it’s not a total disappointment. That Darjeeling-y note is subdued and tamed a bit by other darker and less perky notes. There’s something in here that has a resemblance to the very initial flavour of a medium-strength hot coffee. You know, the absolutely first bit of the flavour of the very first sip of freshly brewed cup of coffee, before the tongue really gets in on the business of tasting.
The grainy note is still intact as well, although without the touch of pseudo-smoke. It’s strong, however, and relatively sweet. Almost a little bit honeyed, I think. Possibly a wee bit fruity. This particular note is my favourite out of this tea’s flavour profile.
So we’ve got three primary notes here. Something that I’m not fond of, but which is held down and controlled by the other two, something which is basically more like putting down a base for the flavour in total than an actual note of flavour, and something which I’m very fond of and tend to look for in other teas, such as Keemuns or Tan Yang.
One should think these three, or especially the former and the latter, would even each other out and become something fairly average. This is not the case, though. That Darjeeling-like note, I can’t say I like it much, but when held in check by strong, grainy, bold notes like the other two, I find it surprisingly tolerable.
Queen Catherine reminds me most of all of Kusmi’s Samovar blend, only far less smoky. I’m quite pleased with it, and I’m glad I got a chance to try it for myself. You lot have all made me so curious about it and making it sound like it was right up my alley. And, it looks like, you were not mistaken.