1323 Tasting Notes
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.
I’m bagging it this morning because as usual I’ve slept far too late and I dreamed something seriously strange that made me cry buckets (in the dream) so now I’ve woken up with a post-wail headache without actually having shed a single (real) tear. Lovely.
No matter how deeply mediocre and dull these bags are and the lowness of the supposed quality, it works for me in a situation like this. I think it’s because it’s so much easier and quicker than fussing with pots and leaves. I don’t really need something awesome right now. I just need to wake up.
Wasn’t around all day yesterday so I’ve woken up to 70+ notifications and who knows how many reviews. I can’t promise to be able to catch up with that, so if someone wrote something really interesting, could you link me please?
Yes, it’s just the good ol’ Gunpowder Blend that I recently bought serious amounts of. I edited the name of it because ‘Gunpowder Blend’ was a direct translation from the danish name ‘Krudtblanding’. ‘Krudt’ = ‘Gunpowder’ as in the stuff you use to shoot a firearm. Although the blend contains a green tea I don’t think the green tea in question is actually Gunpowder as in the green tea, but the name of the blend as I had first translated it led to a number of very understandable misunderstandings. So after consulting a number of internet sites I found this alternative name for gunpowder as in the explosive stuff. Therefore I changed the name.
I know I added some to the TTB so if someone could correct it there too it would be awesome. Please?
Anyway, my flat is Procrastination Central today. I’m working on something that requires brain activity SHOCK! HORROR! and I’m still feeling like I could hibernate for the entire day like I did yesterday.
Pick-me-up is needed, so I made me a big cup of this, and on a whim, added some milk. I can’t remember if I’ve tried it with milk before, but I think I have and I seem to remember it having drowned out some of the green tea in it.
I’m not really getting that this time. First part of the sip was all green, and then immediately after that came the smokeyness. Underneath it all the English Breakfast component is going all ‘YAY MILK!’ which is rather weird for me because I hardly ever drink anything with milk except the pumpkin pie blend from 52teas.com or the pot of Assam my colleague and I share at the cafe we like. I don’t think that I would want to take this with milk always though. It seems kind of like a luxury that should be spared for just occasional events, especially considering that I think it’s also awesome without the milk.
It does really bring out the sweetness from the green tea. I would never otherwise EVER add milk to any tea that wasn’t black, but I think the effect that I’m getting here has something to do with previously mentioned EB component.
It’s a bit like the three components start vying for my attention. The green tea is all suave going “I’m sweeeeeeeeeeeet and buttery!” and the EB is going “I’m smooth and milky and sensible!” and the Lapsang Souchong is getting all bouncy and eager and going “I’m here too! Smokey! Me! Me-me-me-me-me!!!”
It’s kinda cute, actually.
This one is growing on me. Or maybe not so much growing as me getting more accustomed to the flavour. I take it with a good amount of milk and that helps the heavy scratchy flavour a lot.
I still don’t really think I would like pumpkin pie if introduced to it though and I’ll leave the rating where it is.
Hello there Steepsterites.
I bring to you a post that it took most of the day to write. I just took notes when drinking and figured I could write a proper post afterwards so as not to get distracted away from the cup by the forming of proper sentences and hopefully coming up with something witty here and there. I’ve been hibernating for most of the day, so I’m not really in any condition to be seriously posting about a tea I’ve never had before, but for some reason I was inspired to try this one today.
It’s a Bethany-tea and she sent me four balls. I used two for a glass cup and saved the other two. The pellets are large and tightly pressed. It’s hard to pick up any sort of aroma from the dry leaves but I feel like I’m catching a small whiff of cocoa. As I dropped them into the cup, one of them bounced off the edge and rolled off on adventures. Those little things can really roll! Found it again several meters away on the other side of the living room.
Having thwarted the escape attempt, I poured water on and watched the cup while it steeped. The unfurling seemed rather slow and the occasional small bubble of air escaped to the surface. I resisted the temptation to stir the cup to see if I could get something to happen, but I could see a clear difference in colour around the leaves at the bottom and the water at the top of the cup. I didn’t want any thin nearly tea, I wanted a representative cup, so I waited until I thought it should be well steeeped and gave it a gentle stir, trying to not whirl everything around too much and let the leaves stay at the bottom of the cup. If I had made it in a pot instead this wouldn’t have been necessary since pouring would have mixed it up. It made the balls fall completely apart and the colour went from palest pale of paleness to a reddish amber that actually looked like a black tea. A bit cloudy, though.
Sniffing at the aroma I suddenly learned to recognised ‘malty’! I’ve noticed that particular taste and smell lots of times before, but I’ve never connected the two until now where it seems wildly obvious. I once upon a time found a tea glossary (here: http://www.chowbaby.com/10_2000/glossary/glossary.asp?synchpage=1&Z=4597646780) but I’ve learned that such a thing is pretty useless, because the only way to really learn how to recognise these things is by experience. To me, anyway.
Anyway, while waiting for some of the top water to get any tea into it, I managed to oversteep the bottom of the cup. Lovely. By the time I gave it a stir, the whole thing had acquired a slightly bitter bite. It had a malty flavour, but I couldn’t really find any of the cocoa notes that I had spotted in the dry aroma and remembered having seeing others mention. I even started wondering if it was something I had just imagined to be able to smell because I thought it was supposed to be there.
Given the slight bitterness, it probably would have helped with a little milk or a little sugar, but since it was brewed directly in the cup, that was not an option. I don’t really like the idea of those additives directly on my naked leaves.
Rating-wise I would say it was around 65, having knocked it down a bit due to the oversteep.
Second time around it was still a very malty aroma. An aroma that really filled the nose when sniffing it. I like that much better than the ones you sit there and smell and search for something TO smell.
It coloured up much quicker due to not having to wait for the balls to unfurl and it also meant that stirring wasn’t necessary. It had a more golden colour this time.
First thing I noticed on the first sip was a very sweet aftertaste. Almost as if it had been sugared. It was less malty that the first steep but I did find some cocoa notes this time, although still not as much as I had expected.
I liked the second steep a lot better, and I would rate this around 78
The colour is really pale now, and the aroma initially is just the smell of steam. I tried so hard to find some that I actually ended up dipping the tip my nose in it. Found nothing. Except, of course, a wet nose. After a really long steeping, mostly because I got distracted and momentarily forgot, some aroma showed up. No malt, but definitely cocoa.
Tastewise the third steep was very like the second, only much weaker. The sweetness was a little sweeter and the cocoa was a little cocoa-ier, but otherwise there wasn’t really anything noteworthy about it. I wouldn’t recommend bothering with a third steep at all.
This one was down at around 55.
Based on these three steeps, I’m landing at an average of about 66, but I’ll push it upwards a bit on account of the first steep having been a bit overdone.
Second steep of the leaves from last night this morning.
You know, I think I really like the first steep better. It was much more buttery this time around, and rather too much so. Not nearly so far as to be greasy or nauseating, but definitely headed in that general direction. The chameleon colour shifting is gone too.
I will say this about it though, it has a certain snacky quality. For me it works remarkably well as a way to avoid those naughty little snacks during the day. Chocolate, biscuits, popcorn, pudding, whatever. Have a cup of this instead. It doens’t work every time when I’m craving something, but it’s close enough.
A ton of people posted Genmaicha or Genmaicha-type teas and it reminded me that I still had this tin which has been untouched for a while, so I thought I’d join in. It’s been so long that I have to do a post about it with all the details in it.
It’s magic colour-shifter tea! Immediately after brewing and pouring, it was a brilliant sun-yellow. After a few seconds of standing in the cup untouched, it’s turned that funky radio-active green colour. It’s funny because if you remember the blustery-day-on-the-beach kind of green tea bag I had the other day, that one was the other way around. Neon-green first and then yellow.
The name, Genmaicha, is actually misleading in this one, because it’s one of the ones that also contain a small amount of matcha powder, so I know from experience that it should have a short steep. I counted 30 elephants.
The aroma is primarily popcorn and just a little bit of nut-like sweetness. It’s funny how it can smell so strongly of popcorn and taste completely unlike same. It tastes like rice, but with the sweetness from the green tea. I’m also getting a strong hazelnuttish note from it which completely blindsided me. I had not expected anything like that. No notes of saltwater or seaweed which had been feared given the colour.
Again, it’s showing some chameleon-ish tendencies. Colour is now back to yellow, but a darker, warmer and more brownish sort of shade. I wonder what sorts of colours it might turn if I left it long enough.
AC Perch’s claim the Queen of Denmark actually drink this blend. Since they deliver to the royal household I see little reason not to believe them. This is a very awesome detail to know for a royalist-to-the-bone such as me.
I’m not really an Earl Grey fan. To me it’s either so citrusy that you could have called it a lemon tea and fooled me easily or it’s rather bitter. Bergamot is, to me, a fairly rough and throat-scratching sort of flavour. On top of that, it’s too common. Tell someone to name the first tea they think of and I would be shocked if most of them didn’t blurt out ‘Earl Grey’. It’s boring and every-day-ish when there are so very many other interesting teas out there.
Still, for some reason I made cup of this today. I think it was because I saw someone make a post about an Earl Grey creme, and of course now I can’t remember exactly which tea it was or who the poster was, but it did inspire me to try this one with a bit of milk in it. Normally I don’t really do milk in tea. 97% of all my tea is taken plain. No milk, no sugar, just tea.
It’s definitely benefitting from the milk. This is a fairly strong Earl Grey so it’s got a lot of the scratchy bergamot flavour and none of the lemony wannabe, and the milk is smoothing it out a lot. I think I definitely like it better this way.
On the other hand the addition of milk seems to have drowned out the Gunpowder in the blend, so it’s really like a two-in-one tea. It seems to me to be very different with and without milk.