1320 Tasting Notes
Here’s another one from my recent Teaspring splurge. Another tea that I have fond memories of. If I recall correctly it was on my first ever Teaspring order. I remember liking it a lot and then when I wanted to reorder, it was sold out. For a long time it kept saying ‘out of stock’ and eventually I gave up and forgot about it. But now we’re back in business.
Apparently, according to Teaspring, Queen Elizabeth really likes this oolong and is the source of the ‘oriental beauty’ name it also goes under. For a royalist like me, that’s a big selling point. :) Note how it doesn’t even have to be the royal family of my own country.
I can’t give a great description of the leaves at this time, other than they’re large, twisty and ranging in colour from black to almost whiteish, the reason being that I open the bag a little awkwardly and now it’s slightly broken. I need to handle it as little as possible, so that it doesn’t break further until I have a free tin. (Note to self: Buy more tins. I’m at least five tins short.)
The tea brews up very dark, looking rather like a black tea, and it has a very strong aroma. You don’t have to search for the scent and it seems sweet and floral. For some reason my mind insists on marzipan. Which is odd because it doesn’t really smell like marzipan at all. The little grey cells (or not so little, actually. Brain cells and nerve cells are actually quite large because they stretch so far) are very stubborn and won’t give it a rest at all. What is that other smell I can smell, though? I know I’m supposed to be able to connect it with something, but the stretched grey cells won’t recall what it is. I think they’re just prissy that I’m not giving in on the marzipan issue. It’s floral, but I kind of think I ought to be able to get a bit closer than that. Maybe I’ll think of it later.
It is indeed very floral in flavour too! If I didn’t know any better, I would think this was scented. It’s very vegetal and flowery and exTREMEly girly. The flowers that aren’t really there are so dominant in this, and I find myself wondering what it was about it I was so taken with way back when.
Unlike the Bi Lou Chun, this one is just not living up to the memories I have. I’m not very impressed. How disappointing.
I’m falling asleep at my keyboard here, and I need a pick-me-up. So, a strong black tea, yes please. So I picked this one.
It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that this was the tea that I had yet to manage to brew successfully. This time I was careful not to oversteep though.
This tea has two very distinctive primary notes, and they are entirely, it seems, independent of one another. There’s a very sweet, honeylike smoothness and then there’s a somewhat astringent malty kick. It kind of feels a little disjointed. As it develops, the malty note starts to take over, but with the promise that the sweet will be back with the addition of a little milk to smooth the astringency.
(Given how sleepy I am as I’m writing this, there’s NO WAY I’m adding milk to this. That would knock me out for sure.)
Teaspring order is now home and unpacked. And yes, it did contain the beloved tie guan yin. phew! It also contained a load of other goodies (including a tibetan tea brick which I’m looking forward to trying as soon as I can persuade myself to break it to bits) and it was really difficult to choose which one to try first. Ippy-Dippy came to my rescue and here we are!
A lot of my Teaspring order appears to have been nostalgia. I remember this one as being one of the first ever green teas I had ever, and I remember being rather fond of it.
I love the look of the leaves. All thin and twisty and soft looking. Really they look like they ought to be downy but they’re not really. Cute leaves ftw!
It brews up, even slightly oversteeped, to a pale yellow colour. I tried with a short steep first, but after one sip, I poured it back in the pot and let it steep a little more because that was like just drinking hot water. The aroma was a strawlike grassy thing with hints of salted butter.
Due to the slight oversteep (I got distracted) it was a little astringent, but not bitter. It had the same sweetish strawlike notes as in the aroma. There was also a strong nuttyness that reminded me a little of the beloved pai mu tan.
The thing I remembered about this one, was a lingering, slightly minty aftertaste, and I’m pleased to say that I did not imagine that. It’s there too.
Towards the bottom of the pot it turned a little more buttery and vegetable-like and the minty aftertaste went away while drinking that. Strangely, now, several minutes after having finished the last cup, minty aftertaste is back with a vengeance. Cool.
This is definitely living up to the fond memories I have of it.
def living up to the fond memory
::Stares at cup::
Sugar? O.o I did not add anything to this cup, where did that come from? In a lapsang?
::sips again several times::
Yes, there is an undeniable sweet note there. I didn’t brew it differently or anything. Weird. It wasn’t there before, I could have sworn! Or was it, and I didn’t notice?
I’M SO CONFUUUUUUSED!!!
(I’m also a bit over-tired at this point just in case you hadn’t guessed.)
ETA: Also, I did not ask for that bit to be in italics, what’s going on? O.o
ETA again: Evidently you can also make italics by use of double ?s…
I have learned something crucial about this tea today. It can handle a magnificent oversteep relatively well.
My colleague made tea for me, but when she does, she just pours the water on and expects me to remove the filter bag myself after an appropriate steeping time. This is very easy when she makes it without telling me until half an hour later when she comments on the fact that I hadn’t taken any yet. Well no, I didn’t have time yet. And it took some two hours more before I had.
As is my habit, I always taste it before tossing it away, and while it is definitely strong and definitely astringent, it’s not bitter and it’s not at all undrinkable. It’s far from optimal, but it’s tolerable. It gained a coffeeish side-flavour which I’m not all that fond of, but it wasn’t completely ruined.
That’s good to know in other similar emergencies.
My order from Teaspring.com is waiting for me at the post office, yay!!!
… I wonder what I bought…? I can’t for the life of me remember what’s in it. I do sure hope there’s Tie Guan Yin, because this is the last of the good stuff that Jillian sent me. Unfortunately what with the closing times my local post office has, I can’t pick it up until wednesday. (Yes, I could probably find an order confirmation in my inbox and check what I bought, but let me have my little game, please.)
So now I’m still waiting for… uh… Well, I ordered from Nothing But Tea yesterday, so I know I’m waiting for that. And I seem to recall placing an order with 52teas a while ago. I think. I was definitely at the site, so the question remains, did I buy something or did I change my mind? (And again, if I did, I wonder what I bought?)
Just in case I didn’t buy any Tie Guan Yin (oh my gosh how will I cope if I didn’t???) I am savouring the last of this cup. There’s a reason it’s named after a goddess, I’m just saying!
After steeping fail on both teas I’ve had today, one of which I’ve documented, I just needed a proper cup of tea. One that can’t go wrong. I had a funny feeling that it was a specific one I wanted but it wasn’t until I saw the tin that I knew which one it was.
It’s funny with this one. When I was first introduced to lapsang souchong, I thought it was a really harsh and rough sort of flavour with smoke all over the place.
Now, the more I drink it, the milder it seems to become. The aroma is still the same. All rough and tough and smoke and manly. But the taste seems to have smoothed out for me.
If I pay attention and seek it out the smokyness is there in spades. But it seems to be a bit shy. If I don’t speak to it first, it doesn’t speak to me. The rest of the tea seems surprisingly smooth and mellow and with a round sort of feeling to it, as if I had added milk. I haven’t actually added anything, and I’ve only used the cup for the white pomegranate earlier today and rinsed it out in between.
You all remember my black powder blend, the one I recently bought a huge amount of. I’ve filled my tin at work with that so I have a good amount of that four days a week. It has lapsang souchong in it, the smokyness of which I think is part of the reason for the name of the blend, so could it be that I’m getting so conditioned to lapsang now that I’m having this experience of it?
The first time I had lapsang souchong, after I had first got into the black powder blend, I found it strangely lacking. Watered down. I was expecting the fuller flavour of the blend, not just one of the ingredients in it. I was afraid lapsang souchong as a plain tea had been ruined for me forever. I’m pleased to say that this is definitely not the case, as what I’ve got here tonight is an extraordinarily pleasant cup of tea.
Thanks to the awesome tea picking randomiser that Jon provided, I’m finishing off this tea. It’s the first tea I’ve had since this morning where I was trying to brew Gunpowder by a different method but forgot to time the ultra short steeps so it went terribly horribly wrong.
I’d quite forgotten I had this one, and most of it is fannings. I only have enough for one cup, so I have to remember to only fill the pot halfway up, or we’re in for a weakling cup of tea. I considered adding a pinch of the Pai Mu Tan or the white Darjeeling to it to stretch it to a whole pot, but decided that they were both too good for such a purpose. I’ll just have to randomise myself another cup afterwards then.
Due to the large ratio of fannings in this, I’m giving it a fairly short steep. It’s all orange! It’s been so long since I’ve had this that I’ve completely forgotten what it’s like. So yeah, the colour of the brew is surprisingly orange and it definitely smells of pomegranates. Pomegranates and perfume and something that strangely reminds me a little of jasmine. That same dusty floral sort of smell, but it’s just a hint of that.
Although I only made half a pot, I was still keen to drain it as well as I could. I did drain the pot, but right now, if you added another drop to the cup it would flow over. It makes sipping a little complicated, and involves me sticking my head down to the cup and generally looking pretty idiotic.
Ack! Even with such a short steep (I normally do about five minutes, give or take) it’s still got some bite to it. Clearly I underestimated the fannings. On top of that, the jasmine hint is still there! It doesn’t say anything on the bag about jasmine as far as I can tell, only pomegranate.
The pomegranate may or may not be there too, but the tea itself has gone so strong that more or less anything would have been drowned out, and it’s just making me thirsty and I have to remind myself that opening a can of the cola I’ve got in the fridge is a bad idea when I’ve got almost a whole cup of tea right here.
Looks like it’s just the day for steeping fail.
Gather round, Steepsterites, because I am going to have probably one of the most interesting teas of a long time now.
I have a colleague, a turkish girl, and she asked me, “Have you ever had Turkish tea?”
I told her I had once. I’ve never been to Turkey, but I’ve studied with a turkish girl and once when we were writing a paper to do with some questionnaires she had asked her uncle to take a stack with him to the mosque next time he went. He invited us for tea, so she could explain to him what the questionnaires were about. Her aunt made traditional turkish tea for us.
Then we talked about about how to brew it and my colleague told me that while they do drink a lot of that apple tea, they also drink a lot of plain black tea, taken with sugar. They brew it so strong that it’s nearly undrinkable without sugar, and my colleague gave me this that she had and never drank at home and explained to me how to brew it like a turkish person would. Of course I didn’t write it down at the time, thinking it was easy enough to remember, but when I came home I still had to google it. I found this site (http://turkish-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/turkish_tea) which has guidelines for brewing. It rang a bell, so I feel pretty confident that this is also how my colleague told me to do.
1. Prepare a small teapot by adding about one heaping teaspoon of good, black tea (Keemun, Assam, Russian Caravan, English Breakfast all work well) per cup.
2. Boil about 1 cup of water per cup of tea (either in a samovar – or on a stove top).
3. Pour HALF of the steaming water into the teapot and let it steep for at least 15 minutes, keeping both the teapot and the remaining water piping hot. (Without a samovar, you can accomplish this with a good tea cozy for the pot and a very low flame for the water. (I almost hate to admit it, but a microwave works pretty well, too, for keeping the water very hot…. but I “didn’t say that…”).
4. Pour the tea into a small glass cup, about halfway up, and add the water to fill the remainder. Add sugar to taste – BUT NEVER MILK OR HONEY.
Read more at Suite101: Turkish Tea: Brewing and Drinking Tea in Turkey http://turkish-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/turkish_tea#ixzz0chWxExdO
So now I’m wondering what sort of leaves she has actually given me. They don’t have a very strong aroma. Ever so slightly smoky-ish is about the only characteristic I can pick up. It’s a quite large leaf size for a black though. Since my colleague actually travels to visit her husband’s family in Turkey at least once a year, I wonder if I could be so lucky that it was actually a tea produced in Turkey. Think about it, it’s not that unlikely. It would be cool if it was. I may have to interrogate her some on this matter. She gave me a relatively small amount. Big for a sample, but small for an amount to have lying around when one never takes tea. I’m not sure if that was what she meant but it did sound like, if I liked it, she had more that I could have. Anyway, the leaves look a bit faded in colour, so they’re probably getting a bit on in age. With this method of brewing, though, I can’t imagine it would spell disaster.
Five minutes still to go of this extremely long steep!
Okay, ready for the next step! Obviously, I don’t own the proper tulip-shaped tea glasses, so my cup with the farm animals on it will have to do. I tried a sip of the tea before adding more water to the cup. It had a nice reddish amberish colour and while it did have a strong flavour, it wasn’t undrinkably strong. Not at the one small sip, anyway. Quite astringent, but it didn’t taste bitter or oversteeped.
After adding water the taste was a little less astringent, but still not undrinkably strong. I was expecting something almost tar-like here and I’m actually wondering if I didn’t add enough leaf. I think I was supposed to have made it with another spoonful.
I feel pretty certain that I could easily have taken it without a grain of sugar and enjoyed it, but I’m trying to be authentic here. I did wonder about whether the type of sugar used was important since the instructions said to not use milk or honey. I’ve decided they probably would have said if it was, so I used cane sugar.
The aroma is very similar to the dry leaf. Not as smokey, though, which I think must be because of the sugar in it.
It’s definitely sweet to the taste. If you want a dessert tea, forget about any odd additives and flavouring, because this is a dessert in a cup. I can’t really pick up anything underneath the sweetness though. It’s a flavour where you’re aware that there is tea there, but apart from a light astringency, I can’t really tell you anything about it. I know it’s odd to my colleague that I can drink tea at all without sugar in it, so it’s supposed to be very sweet, but the unobtrusiveness and the lack of strongness of the black tea, only strengthens my belief that I should have used a spoonful more leaves.
Still, I used a third more leaf than usual (should probably have been double) and I steeped it for a quarter of an hour. I’m shocked that it didn’t turn out stronger! I’ll have to try again though, but for now… I don’t know if I’m really a big fan of tea turkish style, but I think I might rather like it as a rare treat rather than a regular occurence.
eta: why is it the quoted bit refuses to be in italics? What am I doing wrong? squints at it
I met a friendly kitty on my way home from work today. That saved the otherwise seriously boring day.
It put me in the right frame of mind to do a proper first-time review of a tea and I remembered this one that I got from Lexitus for Christmas and didn’t have the energy to review properly the last time I had it.
I did today. But then I got distracted and it oversteeped, resulting in a rather bitter bite.
So, still no rating, still no review. Just steeping fail.