1110 Tasting Notes
And we’re catching up with a cup of this and a mince pie. Call it a celebration after Husband cleverly tech-savvied my computer and persuaded it to connect to Steam networks again. It hasn’t worked for days and it was bothered me. I tried opening it after not having used it for ages and it came up with a humongous update, which I suspect may or may not have been messed up and causing the problem. It works now, though, so we’ll just have to see if it continues to work.
This tea seems to be continuing my win streak with the Christmas calender. Caramel nommyness! (Unless it’s like that caramel black that refused to be awesome) I have to say, though, that the leaf smelled more rooibos-y than caramel-y so that doesn’t really get my hopes up too much.
It certainly smells very caramel-y and the flavour isn’t entirely un-caramelled either. It’s certainly not in-your-face caramel, but it’s not totally hiding either. It’s mostly detectable as an added sweetness, really. I would have liked it to have been stronger flavoured, but it seems like caramel is one of those difficult to get right flavours in general.
This will go down fine.
Oops! Mustn’t forget the queue!
Scheherazade shared some of this with me, and it has taken me almost the entire bag to work out what I think about it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a banana flavoured black tea before. The only one I can think of which had banana in it was a white tea blend from AC Perchs, but that one also had some other fruits. A large part of me is a bit surprised that flavouring anything at all with banana is even possible in the first place. I don’t know why my brain wants it to be so impossible, but there you are.
The recommendations called for boiling water which is something, in a flavoured black, I routinely ignore because I find that nine out of ten flavoured blacks yield a better result when the water is slightly cooler. About the temperature normally used for oolongs tend to suit me best.
So the first time I had it, I brewed it in my own way, and ended up with a cup of tea which both smelled and tasted like nuts. That was it. Just nuts. No banana or any other sort of fruit in sight at all.
Next I tried it with boiling water which had just cooled enough to no longer be bubbling. That gave me a great deal of banana flavour on the first few sips, but eventually it cooled down to a temperature where it’s actually possible to drink it without burning the mouth and we’re back to having a cup that tastes almost entirely like nuts.
Now, I like nuts as a tea flavouring. I’ve even discussed this very recently and how it rather surprised me, but you see, I’m attracted to nut flavoured teas that are actually flavoured with nuts. A tea that tastes like nuts when it’s supposed to taste like something else just doesn’t really work for me.
Because I’m lazy today and a bit bothered by Girl Tummy™ I decided to see if this is a flavoured black that will continue to be unusual and actually give a passable resteep.
Not quite. It’s a bit thin, but now it tastes like banana again, at least at the beginning of the cup. By the end, at this point, I’m fully expecting it to be nuts.
It’s difficult to rate this. If it had kept that banana flavour all the way through and not gone nutty, I would probably give it around 85. While the nutty flavour is quite nice as it is, it’s not banana and therefore I can’t give it more than 70. Therefore, I’m going to aim for the middle ground here.
I’m still quite curious about the whole banana flavouring concept, though. I might see if I can investigate this further.
Yes, I have a slight delay here. Very slight. Only 12 hours. I didn’t have any of it yesterday because I was too tired and too hungry when we came home. Husband was working from home yesterday so we met up when I got out and got all or Danish Christmas shopping done. We were quite efficient, actually. We went in with only a vague idea of what to get anybody and finished in just under two hours. Well, I say finished, but there are only a couple of small bits still missing. Now there’s just some of the English Christmas shopping left to do, as some of it has been done online already and the rest of it will be done when we’re in England. No reason to travel with it. So no tea for me last night. I opted for dinner instead. And a bedtime cup of nearly herbal.
Anyway, here is a fruity green. Fruity greens, I must admit, tend to be by far my favourite kind of green tea. It’s not the same as with rooibos, where I don’t actually like it if it isn’t flavoured. I do like green tea on its own. I just can’t muster up much interest in it.
This one smells delightfully tropical. I can detect lots of pineapple, but it seems to be overpowering the strawberry a bit, probably because pineapple has such a sharp smell. I think I can find the berries underneath, but it’s much more soft diffuse, so I can’t be entirely certain.
It’s coming through a lot more in the flavour. It’s really the opposite way around here. LOADS of strawberry and here and there a sharp spike of pineapple. The base isn’t very noticeable, but I can tell that there’s a bit of vegetative green in there somewhere. This is very nice!
I seem to be on a lucky streak with this Christmas calendar!
I haven’t the foggiest what’s in this. It’s a black blend, so there’s black tea. There are some blue flowers in it and some white ones as well and it smells like orange and something sweet. Other than that, it could be anything!
Tasting it, it’s definitely orange or a citrus fruit very similar to orange. I still can’t work out what the sweet note is. I’m leaning towards vanilla, but I hesitate to say so because I’m so vanilla obsessed that sometimes I wonder if I’m actually seeing vanilla everywhere. Whether, as soon as I meet this sort of sweet note, I automatically associate it with vanilla rather than putting some real effort into working out what it is. So it may or may not be vanilla. If it isn’t vanilla, then my second guess might be something along the lines of cream, I think.
I can’t tell much about the base. I suspect it’s Chinese because of the complete absence of astringency of any sort, but all in all this is a very pleasant blend. Not one that really sets the imagination going, but one that you can just relax with without having to pay too much attention to it.
Here’s another one that I feel interested in. I have no need for anymore flavoured rooibos, really, but if I did this would be the sort of flavour that I might choose.
It smells very strawberry jam-y. I can’t smell any cream, but I can smell loads and loads of strawberry jam. It smells very lovely. After steeping the rooibos comes through, making it equal strawberry jam and rooibos, and I feel like I can detect a whiff of cream as well, but not much. Mind you, cream isn’t really something that has a smell as such, is it?
The flavour is actually quite close to the smell of it. Half strawberry jam, half rooibos base. There’s a softness to it, which I suspect must be the cream addition. It’s hard to tell at this point because the tea hasn’t cooled down enough yet. I find it’s very difficult to taste stuff when it’s piping hot and often flavours develop further the colder the brew gets, so I’ll have to show a little more patience. Promising so far, though.
This one doesn’t actually change much in flavour when it cools, but I can now feel, rather than taste, the cream in it. It lends a certain softness which is difficult to define and I probably wouldn’t have identified it if I hadn’t known about it.
Another good one. I’ll be enjoying the rest of this, I think.
December 3rd in my Christmas calendar.
This one made me go ooooh! when I saw what it was. I find the idea of this extremely attractive. I don’t drink a lot of green and even less white, but when I do it’s 99% flavoured stuff, so the base blend here doesn’t put me off at all.
The leaf smells lovely, all rhubarb-y and sweet and exciting. After steeping it smells mostly like rhubarb with only a smidge of vanilla. It gets that funny bubblegum smell. It’s a pink smell and feels rubbery. You’d think this would be a minus, but I think of it kind of like the Assam and cardboard thing, so it’s probably more like something I would find weird if it wasn’t there.
It doesn’t taste like bubblegum, though. Rhubarb is a flavour that goes surprisingly well with tea. I have a rhubarb flavoured black also from Fru P and I’d never seen that before, but I’ve seen it often in green teas. I’m getting a lot of green tea and rhubarb flavour from it, but not so much vanilla. I can only sort of find the vanilla as a side flavour. A hint of it here and there, and I would have liked it to be a lot stronger.
My wish is granted through patience however, because once the cup cools just a little bit more there’s a heavy and thick vanilla-y aftertaste. And this right here at this particular temperature, this is just wonderful!
December 2nd in my Fru P Christmas calender. After yesterday’s blend which was rather overwhelming in the licorice root department, I can’t say that I wasn’t a little disappointed by today’s tea when I saw what it was. I love licorice, but I tend to feel about it the same way Husband does about mint. I will happily eat it, but I don’t particularly wish to drink it.
Anise Attack! That’s what this blend might as well have been called. It smells more anise-y than licorice-y and I don’t count that a good thing at all. Anise may taste vaguely like licorice, but it has nothing to do with licorice otherwise. Licorice =/= anise. But that’s a rant for another day. I seem to recall I actually made that particular rant a couple of years ago.
Happily this is a black tea, unlike yesterday’s herbal blend, and as it turns out the base really manages to temper the flavouring here so I’m not getting licorice overload. I am however lacking the licorice root-y aftertaste and throat feeling, which brings us straight back to the anise problem.
Yeah, I’m not particularly keen on todays offering, but it seems to be vaguely drinkable.
The first tea in my Christmas calendar! Obviously I’m posting this now instead of adding it to my queue. If I were to add it to the queue like normal, I’d end up writing it now and posting it in February, and I figured this was a little too topical for that sort of thing. So I’ve decided to skip the queue. I’ll just have to try and not forget about the queue in the meantime or those posts will get SERIOUSLY old before I get to them.
The information on the little bags is sparse. It just says a name and steeping suggestions and type. This one is a minty herbal. Husband don’t really care for minty teas, but he’s trying some this morning anyway, because of the possibility of creating a little air in his sinuses. His voice was threatening on going yesterday and this morning he’s discovered a whole new lower register.
Anyway! I haven’t the foggiest what all is in this stuff other than mint. I saw some lemon grass in it and some big brown chunks of… something.
I can definitely smell the lemon grass and surprisingly vaguely the mint. Then there’s this big smell of something which must be the big brown chunks. I think perhaps they’re dried apple.
When sipping I can taste primarily lemon grass and LOTS of surprise licorice! That should be good for Husband’s throat! I’ve been giving him chamomile with licorice root yesterday which is quite soothing for troublesome throats. There’s some mint in there somewhere but for a blend that is actually called ‘cool mint’ I would have suspected more of it. You can tell it’s there, though, from the way the mouth feels cold after sipping. I still don’t know about the maybe-apple. I can’t really identify it, so maybe it’s just a sort of filler flavour.
This should be very suitable for a bedtime blend, but I’m not going to run in and get more of it.
This is one that I asked specifically for when swapping with Scheherazade and I’m ever so pleased that she shared some with me. I’ve been very excited about this one. I tend to like nutty flavoured teas it seems. I had that hazelnut brittle that grew on me, and presently the almond flavoured tea that I have is very nice too. This isn’t something that I’ve really been conscious about before but nuts appear to attract me. This is rather strange, really, because I don’t much like eating nuts on their own. If they’re in food or cakes or something, I like them just fine. It’s a texture thing. A nut on its own feels to me like chewing on wood. And I never ever seem to be able to quite finish chewing. I have this same experience with raw carrot as well if it isn’t cut into smaller pieces.
And of course the maple did as well due to my well-known gravitation towards things that smell remotely like caramel.
(I think we can conclude here that, basically, I like sweeties.)
It smells very lovely of maple and also a good deal of nuts. It reminds me of hard caramel sweeties or brittle. Melted sugar. I’m a little concerned that it might be sickeningly sweet, but I believe the nuts might temper that.
Actually the very first flavour I get when sipping is that of the base oolong! It’s wood-y and roasted just how I prefer them. Following that is an even more wood-y flavour of nuts and then finally the maple on the aftertaste, mostly. I was expecting this to be totally the other way around. What a peculiar thing.
I thought I would enjoy it, and by being completely backwards it has actually managed to be even more enjoyable. What a lovely tea!
Someone on Steepster once described the spontaneous purchase of tea one doesn’t actually really need as a Bad Dog! moment. I can’t remember who it was. Was it you? Anyway, I had one the other day, stopping in at Fru P on the way home from work and making off with the last one of her tea sample Christmas calendars. She had been uncertain about whether or not it was a good idea and whether people would buy them, but they’re all sold out now. 24 samples in a basket which will be useful for other things afterwards. Has a good size for a bread basket, actually. Bad dog! :p
Here’s another one I received from Scheherazade. This one was one I had asked for and I’ve been looking forward to it, I think for obvious reasons.
I have noticed that the sweetness of vanilla frequently works very well on an Assam base. Some of my favourite vanilla teas have been Assam based (although I don’t believe the Perfect Vanilla is. Don’t know what that is, but I don’t think it’s Assam), and I don’t really see any reason why the same should not be the case with caramel. Both are sweet flavours. On top of that, I know from experience that these two flavours also go very well together, but for some reason it’s not really a combination I see very often. If it happens, it’s usually along with something else. A fruit or berry or some kind, but very very rarely on their own like this. If you want this combination, it seems you generally have to mix vanilla and caramel flavoured teas together yourself and hope that the bases of the two and the balance of flavouring in them match each other. I find this is more difficult than one would think. Often one tends to overpower the other.
But anyway! Here is a rare beast of a caramel and vanilla flavoured tea with nothing else in it. And on a promising base to boot.
Awwwww! We interrupt this post by telling you that Luna the Lap-Cat just came running through the kitchen, meowing like crazy, before jumping onto my lap where she’s now purring and impeding both typing and tea-tasting. Don’t know how I’m supposed to drink from my very full mug (I did a me) now without risking spilling on her… That’s how we know it’s getting colder; Luna seeking to spend as much time as possible in a warm lap. We now return you to your scheduled tea post.
The leaves in the little bag smells awesomely sweet of both vanilla and caramel. I can’t really tell about the base there, but they are very large leaves and a bit difficult to measure out. I have enough for two small pots, so there’s half of it left now. I did consider having it with Husband the other day instead of Jewelled Apple, but then realised that would take the whole sample and I selfishly decided it was probably too good for him anyway. After all, half the time the man just gulps his tea down and when you ask him what he thought of it he hasn’t got a clue. This generally means he liked it, because he usually notices when he doesn’t like it. He can drink a whole mug of hot tea, before mine has even cooled off to a sippable temperature.
After steeping, I try to put my nose closer to the mug without disturbing the cat. Probably looks like I’m attempting to do a tortoise impression. It rather reminds me of that toffee flavoured blend I had from LPdT, although that one had cocoa and not caramel. That one was awesome!
Now, if I can get my lips down to the mug, I can probably have a sip. Let me see…
Gosh! What a silly way to drink tea! It doesn’t exactly make it any easier when you are perfectly aware of how silly it is and start giggling. The things I put myself through to avoid spilling hot liquid on a kitty! Few more sips like this and it should be safe to lift the cup, though.
If the base didn’t come out in the aroma at all, it certainly does now. It has that sort of card-y note to it. This is a really peculiar sort of note. Auggy will understand what I mean perfectly, but try to imagine the taste of cardboard if cardboard tasted good. I know what you’re thinking now, but bear with me. When I first saw this note described this way I made this face O.o but the next time I had a cup of Assam, I know exactly what was meant by it. I’ve only ever really encountered it in Assams that I can remember, and not in all of them. The base also has a good deal of raisin-y notes to it, which is also something I tend to associate largely with Assams. I understand Darjeeling is supposed to have these grape-y, raisin-y, wine-y notes as well, but I’ve never really fully grasped that. It’s too difficult for me to get past all the grass to really notice them.
Anyway! The base shines through the flavouring quite clearly here. This is another one of those blends where the flavouring is somewhat subtle, but not something you have to sit there and search for, or, if you like that sort of thing, coax out with various additives. It hits that balance between base and flavouring that I like. In this case I was even able to pick up some characteristics of the base. A tea can totally have this balance without this being possible, strange as it sounds. I suppose it depends on what sort of base was used.
To me, this feels more caramel than vanilla, but I can tell the vanilla must be in there. Mostly because I know it is, granted, but I think caramel on its own when everything really clicks is a darker flavour than this cup is.
I know exactly what my Perfect Vanilla should taste like, and I’ve actually even managed to find it, and I know more or less what the Perfect Caramel should be like, but the Perfect Vanilla and Caramel? I’m not sure, actually. This cup has the balance that I like, but I’m not sure it’s perfect for me. I think I would like the flavours to be richer without being too much stronger, and I’m not even certain if this is at all possible. It doesn’t even make fully sense to me, having a bit of a ‘measuring elastic by the meter’ feel to it. It’s entirely possible that this balance that I’m so attracted to isn’t actually right for me at all with a combination like this. Much to my surprise, my Perfect Vanilla doesn’t really have that balance. It’s way too flavoured for that.
Overall, this is a very good cup indeed, and if I were to be offered more of it I would absolutely take advantage, yet I find myself a little ambivalent about it as well.
I think perhaps I’ve reached the point where I’ve started to over-think things a little.