1188 Tasting Notes
From the queue. Our guests have gone home so it’s back on track with the queue control! It was a lovely visit, and it was SO NICE in this house to be able to actually give them a room to sleep in. As opposed to before where we had to move the dining table into the lounge and put them up in the dining room, which we then had to walk through in order to get to and from our bedroom. They seemed a lot more relaxed while they were here as well, and I strongly suspect that this small detail of having an actual room with a closeable door in it and not feeling so much in everybody’s way had a great deal to do with it. Never underestimate the power of a proper guest bedroom!
I bought this one with my recent Jenier order. They have LOADS of different unflavoured black teas, and one of these days I shall have to order a boat-load of their minipacks and really get Project Africa on the road. Anyway, a minipack are fairly large and their supposedly 50g pouches has proven to weigh somewhere in the vicinity of 100g so although I definitely wanted a breakfast blend, there’s plenty to be going on with in a sample.
Both times I’ve ordered the 50g Golden Monkey pouch from them, I’ve received twice the amount of tea that I feel I’ve paid for. I’m certainly not complaining, but one of these days I’m going to have to write them and ask if they’re doing it on purpose, because I feel a bit like they’re cheating themselves.
Anyway, I knew I wanted a breakfast blend, but I thought I’d try one I hadn’t tried before, which ruled out Irish and English. Which is actually rubbish, because I’ve never tried either of those from Jenier before either, so since every company seems to blend them according to their own recipe, those are every bit as new to me as this one. I put a lot of weight in a name, apparently. On the other hand, from a Scottish company it seems an appropriate place to start.
I’m not sure what’s in this blend, exactly. They’re being quite specific both in the description and the ingredients list, but unfortunately these two just don’t entirely add up. Either way, it contains Chinese, Indian and Kenyan, and beyond that, the actual areas are more irrelevant. I love it when I’m told and I like playing Guess The Tea when I’m not, but it doesn’t hold that much relevance really.
This is a pretty awesome blend. It somehow manages to be both strong and mild at the same time. LOADS of flavour, but it sort of comes in a gentle way. It’s the difference between being cooed quietly awake or having a cup of cold water thrown into the bed with you. This blend is definitely the former.
It’s smooth, but with an underlying edge that should support milk well if one is a milker. I’m not one. Other than that, there isn’t really much to say about it. It’s not really a blend that is made so that you can sit back and analyse and meditate and what-not. It’s just the sort of thing that can give a good start to the day.
I could easily see myself upgrading to a larger pouch of this, but for the sake of fairness, I’ll probably give their English and Irish breakfasts a whirl first as well.
I suspect it’s going to be a fairly large order I make from Jenier next time I’m ordering. I’d better make sure to do it while Scotland is still in the EU! :p
From the queue. There will be a posting break of a few days now. We are having family over, and as my room becomes their bedroom I will lose access to my computer for the duration.
Another one from the EU TTB, round 2. This is one that I’ve filched.
The aroma is strange. Not strange-strange, but strange in that it is so anonymous. I’m not really picking anything up other than ‘tea’. Perhaps a smidge of sweetness, vaguely caramel-y in nature, but that’s about it. It’s a fairly generic tea aroma.
Taste-wise it’s the same story. It’s fairly mild, and I’m not getting much out of it other than a generic tea flavour. Again perhaps with a twinge of vaguely caramel-y sweetness, but not so much as to be in any way defining. As it cools a bit, the caramel-y note becomes a little more forward, but still not in any sort of big way.
It’s a pleasant and inoffensive tea, but it’s not really a revalation in a cup.
From the queue
This one is from the EU TTB, round 2. I don’t drink very much green tea, leaning mostly towards black, flavoured and unflavoured alike, but I’m trying to remember that there are other types in the world as well. Therefore I’m only using half of this to try it. There little use in taking all of it, when I might end up forgetting I have it.
The leaf smells very lovely of grapefruit, and it’s not just generic citrus and suspiciously lemon-y, it’s actual real grapefruit. The scent of the zest, rather than the flesh of the fruit, really. This is also true after steeping, although here the zestyness is softened by the aroma of the base.
This is very strongly flavoured. It tastes like eating a grapefruit, and I can’t pick up the slightest hint of the base at all. I’m a bit torn about this. I like a flavoured tea to taste like what it has been flavoured with, but I also like it to not be so strong that I can only taste flavouring. This one is definitely in the ‘all flavouring, no base’ camp. This could have been anything. From what I can tell, it could have been flavoured water. I rather like to be able to taste that I’m drinking tea, if that makes any sense.
So I’m ambivalent on this one. It tastes lovely like grapefruit, and I’m very fond of grapefruit. But it doesn’t really feel like I’m drinking tea, and this bothers me, so although it’s lovely, I’m still a bit disappointed by it.
From the queue
This is out of the EU TTB, round 2. Originally, my plan was to simply take this sample, but since there were nothing in my pile of things I wanted to only try that felt suitable for the morning, I decided to have a cup from the other pile. And that was a good thing, because I’ve put the rest of the sample back, having discovered that Cteresa actually shared a large-ish sample of it with me a couple of years ago, so it’s a known tea to me.
I still wanted to try it again, though. Partly so that I can see if I still agree with myself, but especially so that I can make it part of
This one comes from Mozambique, so it’s been grown further South than the other other African teas I’ve got on the reference map so far, and quite a long way away from the Kenyan ones. It was pretty easy to find on the map, though. At least the place that I’ve decided it came from. The description says it’s from the Zambezi region of Mozambique and near the Namuli Peaks. Having found the Peaks easily enough and starting to zoom in, I almost immediately spotted a structure that looked like tea-fields. They’re easy to recognise because they grow in wavy lines. Look at the map and zoom in, you’ll see. If it’s not from this particular set of fields, at least it should be very very close by.
The aroma has a fair few high-grown notes in them. Spicy, grassy notes that I don’t much care for, but also a fair bit of wood, which I do like.
The flavour is really quite nice. Like the Assam I had yesterday, it’s very sweet. Honeyed and malty, but whereas the Assam was largely honey, this one is mostly malt. It does still have that roughness that is typical for CTCs, and I would have rather liked to have had this with larger, orthodox leaf, because I think it could have been quite lovely.
From the queue. I think this must be the one.
Another from the EU TTB, round 2.
I’m not sure what makes this one ‘original’ as such. It’s CTC which I find a little off-putting because I have such varied experiences with it. Sometimes it’s just impossible to brew in a drinkable way. And when I say ‘drinkable’ I mean without having to use milk or sweetener or anything at all of any sort. A tea that requires repairing after brewing is just not a good tea.
I’ve ended up with something that is as black as coffee and smells strongly of honey and malt. Especially honey and also a bit like raisins. It’s that sort of slightly fuzzy feeling just around the edge of the smell that honey has. It’s quite a full-bodied scent but it also smells somewhat astringent.
This may require some experimentation, which is not something that I generally have much in the way of patience for. I’ve worked out at what leaf amount and steeping time the vast majority of black teas work for me, and anything that falls outside of that category just tends to be unnecessary work. You can’t really do that with CTC, though, because it’s so vastly different from the larger leaf sizes, and you never know how it’s going to behave. So I approach with caution.
I still always start out with the conservative approach of my accustomed parameters, though, because you have to start somewhere. And this is what has ended up with a rather astringent note to the aroma.
It isn’t actually that astringent, though. Barely at all, in fact. The flavour is very close to the aroma. It’s strongly honeyed and malty, and it leaves a honey-y aftertaste on the tongue from just one sip.
As I sip, the astringency shows up, but it’s still only very little and mostly on the aftertaste. I can, however, sense that honey-note all the way up in my sinuses, very much confirming that the sense of taste cannot exist without the sense of smell.
It’s quite a strong tea, and if you prefer to take your tea with milk, then this should carry it nicely. I prefer not to, though, so I should probably have used a wee bit less leaf, as the bitter notes build up as it cools. Not enough to be ruining the cup, mind, but enough to be noticed.
I very much enjoy all this honey. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was flavoured with the stuff.
From the queue
This is the first Try from the EU TTB, round 2. There are so many things in this box that I need to try, and I’ve still got things from the first round that I haven’t posted about yet. Heck, there are things from the first round I haven’t even tried yet!
But I’ve received the second round today and so it must take priority.
I was dithering about this one, so I thought it would be a good place to start. I don’t know what aronia berries taste like at all, I’m indifferent to mango-flavoured teas and I’m on the fence about rose. So I don’t actually know why I’m even tasting it to begin with. Rose is… well, it’s floral, but it’s not downright unpleasant like jasmine is. I can’t actually work out if I like it or if it’s one of those flowers that are just too… floral. In general I tend to avoid floral things as much as I can. The attraction here is erm… Why am I tasting this at all? peers at cup
I can easily smell the oolong. It’s a dark roasty one, which is the sort of oolong I prefer when I have oolong. Along with that there’s a note that is sort of mango but not mango and floral but not floral all at the same time. Very difficult to define. I don’t know if there is aronia in that one as well, because as mentioned, I don’t know what they’re like (I don’t even know what they look like. Remind me to look it up), but I’m going to pretend that it is the aronia that makes it so difficult to define as either of the other two things. This sounds plausible to me, so let’s play that I’m right.
Moving right along, then. So far the rose hasn’t been off-putting as too floral, but it’s quite forward and perfume-y in the flavour. This where it’s a bit too floral for me, and rose is the first and last thing I taste on the first sip. Actually, it’s pretty much all I can taste on the first sip.
Trying again, I get less floral and much more oolong. Again a fairly roasty tasting oolong with a fair hint of something cocoa-y. I also feel like I’m picking up a smidge of mango.
I’m still stumped on the aronia though. There seems to be a very vague note of tartness on the swallow and in the aftertaste. Is that aronia? Is aronia a tart berry?
I still don’t know what possessed me to try this one in the first place, but it’s a fairly pleasant cup, in spite of all the rose, so I think it must have been instinct that made me do it. I’ll keep it to this one cup, though.
From the queue
It’s been ages since we’ve had an LS in the house. Well, actually, it’s only been a couple of weeks since we finished the one that Bonnie shared with me, but it feels like ages. So obviously, when I shopped with Tea Palace, I thought I would have a tin of theirs. This is a type where I have no need of samples really. I already know I’m going to enjoy it, and I know for certain sure that Husband will enjoy it. So if I’m shopping for LS, I’ll get a larger amount regardless of whether I’ve tried the one offered by that particular company before. (If I’m shopping for something else, I might get a sample, though)
This one smells fairly mild on the smoke until you pour boiling water on it, then it’s quite tarry. Peculiarly after steeping it becomes quite mild on the smoke aroma again. Chameleon trick there. It’s a very sweet aroma too, but I don’t think it’s fruity-sweet like many LS’s are to me, but more sort of like I can pick up a bit of grain and malt underneath. Interesting, because these are not notes I normally associate with LS.
The flavour is also fairly mild. Not super-smoky, but again with a great deal of sweetness to it. This time it’s more sort of what I would expect. Fruity-sweet rather than grainy/malty-sweet. It does have a bit of a mineral twinge to it, which I could have lived without, but apart from that it’s a very nice specimen of the Lapsang Souchong race.
From the queue
A white tea that should be steeped with boiling water? WHAT????!?!? O.o Courtney shared this with me and these are not her instructions. These are Butiki’s instructions. There seem to be a general concensus on Steepster that Stacey knows what she’s doing, so… okay, I steeped it in boiling water, although it was very nearly physically painful to do so. It was certainly mentally painful. It goes against everything I’ve ever learned about tea and it just felt so wrong! Not wrong as in ‘oh dear, I shouldn’t do this’ but wrong as in ‘SELF! STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! STAAAAHP!!!’ In spite of so many people following these intructions with great success I’m still very worried that I’m about to have a very big cup of bitterness.
It smells like a black tea and it has the colour of a black tea. How certain are we that this is actually really white? I don’t even understand the mechanisms behind this. How can a white tea behave like a black?
The aroma is mild, but it still smells like a black tea. A very high-grown one like a high-grown Ceylon, maybe. Not Darjeeling, I don’t think, it’s not grassy enough for that, but it’s got that floral touch. It’s also remarkably fruity. Something along the lines of apricots, I think. Quite sweet. OOOH! You know what it reminds me of? It reminds me of one of those oolongs with leafhoppers! Has this one had leafhoppers?
Okay, the flavour. Still not convinced that this is going to be a pleasant experience, I have to say.
It’s not bitter. HOW IS THIS NOT BITTER??? O.o I don’t get this tea. I simply do not understand one iota of it. Why is it behaving like this?
It’s actually quite sweet. Fruity-sweet again, like the aroma, bringing me back to thoughts of apricots. It’s got a fair bit of a floral touch as well, and I’m not too keen on that, but for me it’s mostly about the apricots with this tea. As it cools the floral tones get stronger, though, and I like it less.
It doesn’t taste like any white tea I’ve ever had before. If I was served a cup of this without being told what it was, I’d have guessed a high-grown Ceylon with natural notes of stone fruits (or possibly very lightly flavoured). I certainly wouldn’t have belived it was a white tea. Conundrum in a cup.
From the queue
This one came from the first round of the European Travelling Teabox. I was right in the middle of chai-curious phase due to a pleasant one that Scheherazade had shared with me earlier when I received the box, so I nabbed this one. It’s a rooibos base and it has a really interesting name to boot. How can one make something taste like cola without actually putting cola in it? How can chai spices and cola even be combined in the first place? And hot cola, how’s that gonna work? I am intrigued!
Intrigued, yes, but also needing, it seems, a bit of courage to actually try it.
I have finally done so. I made a cup with half boiling water and half milk which I had heated in the microwave. Plenty of leaf in a filterbag and then a good long steep. About twice as long as I thought I would do because I forgot about it. I got distracted, you see, by writing this. As it’s a rooibos, though, I expect it was only to my advantage. I’ve found that you can’t really oversteep rooibos. They sort of level out, so the only result you get from forgetting it is that it starts to cool down.
It definitely has cinnamon in it, and in combination with the warm milk it smells strongly of rice porridge with cinnamon sugar and a lump of butter on it. (Which is very traditional around Christmas, but I tend to find it rather cloying) I also saw that the leaf had some cardamom pods in, but I can’t pick up anything in that regard.
Doesn’t smell particularly cola-y, I have to say. Or rooibos-y for that matter.
It doesn’t taste like cola either. Again, it’s warm milk and cinnamon, and a little bit of a cardamom floral touch. (Cardamom has a floral flavour, I think) There’s supposed to be ginger as well, apparently, but I can’t find any. Mysterious, really, since ginger is one of those things where very little can be too much for me. I can pick up the rooibos base, not so much because I can taste rooibos, but more because I can’t taste black tea.
I have to say I don’t think it lives up to the name at all. It’s pleasant and I’m enjoying my cup, but it just doesn’t taste like cola.
From the queue
This one was also from Courtney, and you may remember that I had asked for either this or the Tealux Cream Irish Breakfast as I thought they sounded interesting and Courtney thought they were very similar, and also that happily she had enough of both to share with me and was sweet enough to do so. I’m therefore having this one on the same day that I had the other, so that I too can see if I find them similar.
I think it definitely smells like cheesecake. It really was the first thing that popped into my head when I first sniffed it. I’m not sure I would have got cheesecake if I hadn’t known it to be there from the title as cheesecake is never really something at the forefront of my mind. I mean I like it a lot, but I have it very seldomly. I don’t think Husband quite got this from the aroma, but then he also started to wonder what cheesecake actually smells like and whether it smells like anything in particular. Well, I think it smells like cheesecake. Especially the crust of one.
Not sure about Irish cream, though. I’m only vaguely aware of that, so I don’t really know what to search for there. I can pick up something of the base underneath though. It’s fairly malty and reminds me a bit of Assam with a smidge of that cardboard-y note. I’m surprised then to find that the base is actually a second flush Darjeeling. This is interesting because when sipping it, I’m getting zero of the notes that ordinarily makes me dislilke Darjeeling. I imagine it’s a combination of it being second flush and it being tempered further by the flavouring. Perhaps it’s time to investigate second flushes, and maybe also autumnal, Darjeelings? This tea makes me think I might be ready for that.
Yes, I can definitely see similarities in the aroma, apart from how the Cream Irish Breakfast smelled very much like strawberry to me (I seem to be the only one) and this one doesn’t.
I can also see the similarity in the flavour, but this one has the cream more to the front and it’s not as smooth as the breakfast blend. It’s a little more aggressive. I have to say that tastewise it doesn’t give me that same cheesecake-y impression that the aroma did, but there is something that offsets the cream note. It’s sweeter than the breakfast blend, which may be the biggest difference between the two.
On the whole I agree with Courtney that they are very similar, but I must say I think I preferred the breakfast blend slightly more than this.