1323 Tasting Notes
From the queue, written April 5th 2014
Camp NaNoWriMo is having an unforseen good effect on the queue growth, in that it stops it from being too explosive. I’m only doing 15K, so it’s 500 word per day minimum. This has been going well for me so far and I’m nearly a full day ahead. However, that takes priority over writing tea posts, and after I’m done I just want to do something mindless like playing a Facebook game or on Neopets or something like that.
It’s not very good for getting through the yet-to-try box though. The goal is to reach the bottom of it. Try every last thing in it before being allowed to buy new stuff. This is going to take me a very long time, but I reckon I can do it before 2014 is out.
I’ve already done my words this morning, though, so there aren’t any trouble with trying new things today.
This one Courtney shared with me, and it’s another variation on the caramel and vanilla theme. In this version there is also genmaicha in it. I’m not very experienced with that, but I did have a rather nice one that Kitty blended recently, so this makes me quite interested in how it fares in a blend such as this.
The aroma is certainly genmaicha-y. The popped rice has a certain salty aroma and while at first this strikes me as an odd combination with the caramel and vanilla, after having sniffed it for a little while they begin to come together and the sweet ingredients take over. They are very strong at this point, both the caramel and the vanilla. I have to say I’m quite enjoying that hint of salt behind it. It makes the whole thing seem more… what shall we say? Robust, perhaps, is a good word. Sturdy.
At first when I sip, I’m mostly getting a flavour like a roasty-toasty genmaicha, not disimilar to the one that Kitty blended. After a while I’m getting a good strong caramel note, but not until the tea has cooled a bit. The genmaicha-y note of the popped rice is still there, though, and it makes me feel like I’m having grain with toffee sauce on it, which frankly I’m finding a rather peculiar experience.
I know you American lot frequently put all kinds of odd things on popcorn that have no business being there (butter? Seriously? Ew….) and perhaps this is what it’s trying to emulate. Where I come from you get popcorn with salt on them, however. And that’s it. That’s the only option. To be quite honest with you, it is also the only sort of popcorn that I am willing to eat.
Therefore my overall impression of this tea is that it’s mysterious. I like the caramel note in it. Not so much the genmaicha addition.
On an unrelated note, in the 2-3 minutes it took me to steep my current cup I managed to completely forget what I made… It’s flavoured, but seriously, that’s all I’ve got! I think it’s something with vanilla, but that doesn’t really narrow it down at all. This does not bode well from staying awake for the Eurovision finale tonight! O.O
From the queue, written April 2nd 2014
This one was one that Courtney shared with me, and it has vanilla and caramel in it. Right up my alley. I drank this cup quite quickly while I was cooking, but I shall try to recall what I noticed about it.
What? Yes, I know I said I’d been paying more attention to the suitable tea for the suitable time of day. I said more. I didn’t say all the time.
The flavour of it was equal parts caramel, a strong dark almost burnt sugar type of caramel, and vanilla. The vanilla worked to smoothe out the dark caramel in a way that it didn’t seem jarring in the base tea. The base struck me as a fairly strong blend with a touch of astringency. I should not be surprised if it was full of Ceylon. Possibly even some Assam, maybe.
The flavouring was quite strong, but didn’t disguise the base completely. I should have liked the vanilla to be even stronger so that it could stand out against the caramel instead of just aiding it, but as it was it was very enjoyable too.
From the queue, written April 2nd 2014
Another sample that Anna shared with me. I’m less concerned about this one than other Anna – sample, because it’s one that I’ve been interested in long before Anna was on Steepster. For some reason this makes a difference. Highly illogical, I know, but it does make a difference in my head. You’d think that Anna, being my taste opposite, liking this would make my interest cool, but it seems to have not registered at all. It must be because it’s a vanilla tea and all vanilla blacks are by definition lovely.
I do, however, seem to recall being warned at one time ( Cteresa, was it you?) that this one was A Bit Different to other vanilla blacks, but I don’t know in what way it’s supposed to be so. (Or was that a completely different French vanilla blend…? I’m confused now!)
Anyway, the aroma is quite subtle on the vanilla and I’m getting a lot of the base. It smells like a fairly strong base with a great deal of malty, grainy notes to it. The vanilla is there, giving it sweetness, but it does not smell saturated by vanilla. This is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you.
It is indeed a quite strong base. It tastes a little non-descript to me. A little default tea-ish. I don’t think this is a fault of the base. I think these things just happen sometimes in the flavouring process. As if the add flavouring alters some of the natural notes and mutes them. Still, it’s fairly strong and tastes suitable for the morning hours even though it’s flavoured. (Lately I’ve found myself paying attention to the time of days when choosing a tea to drink. I’d never do a herbal or a flavoured first thing in the morning, for example, unless I had already been awake for a little while. Never cared about that before. I’d still happily have a morning tea in the afternoon though.)
The vanilla is very subtle. I get it mostly in the background. At no point, when just taking a mouthful do I think ‘oh vanilla’, but then when I’ve had it in my mouth for the short while it takes me to put the cup down and before I swallow, that’s when I get a good deal of vanilla. So it’s there but it’s hidden. It’s the sort of thing like that drawing of a toad and then when you turn the picture 90 degrees, it turns into a drawing of a horse’s head. When you first look at it, you can’t see the horse, but as soon as you’ve found the horse, it’s never just a toad again. It’s like that with the vanilla. Until you find it, it’s elusive. But once you’ve discovered it, there’s actually rather a lot of it.
My cup had cooled a little way beyond drinkable temperature, so if I’d had it when it was slightly warmer, my impression might have been different. I find that if I sip a tea while it’s piping hot I can’t taste plock all, so it’s possible that this is actually even more subtle than I think it is. I’ve got half the sample Anna gave me left, so I can test it. But Luna was being a WILD kitty with a capital WILD, so I spent some time playing with her to help her burn off some of all that energy. A toy on a string tied to an old wooden cooking spoon = Cat fishing rod. Great fun for all participants! :D
This is not how I prefer my vanilla black. I like a completely saturated vanilla tea. Which is peculiar because it goes against how I otherwise prefer my flavoured blacks. It’s still a lovely tea, though. (Yes, by definition. ;)
Addition, written May 8th 2014
I had the rest of this sample while watching the first Eurovision semifinal on Tuesday, and I had much the same experience with it as above, so it seems a pretty consistent blend and it was a very suitable to treat while watching the show. Although I cannot for the life of me understand the outcome of the semifinal! How could Iceland qualify, but Portugal didn’t??? Portugal had a totally jolly and fun salsa-y song and Iceland’s song was just… Well, it wasn’t that good. Of my own six favourites, only three qualified and the look on my face when they had announced all ten was a bit like this: O.O And Armenia’s song is a bookmaker favourite because… why, exactly? At least my absolute favourite so far that I hope will win (Netherlands) qualified. I’m going to watch the second semifinal tonight if I can stay awake for it. Hopefully that one will be less shocking. The hosts all have that dreadful Danish accent to their English, though. I hope I don’t sound like that. I’ve told Husband to lie to me if I do.
From the queue, written April 2nd 2014
This is one that Anna has shared with me, and therefore I’m a little wary of it. You see, it’s been highly loved on Steepster in general and it’s the sort of thing I would normally be interested in. Particularly after I had sniffed it, because it smells quite dough-y and fudge. But the thing is Anna and I have widely different preferences in flavoured black, even though we like same kind of flavours. We like a different sort of balance, though, I think. This means that Anna is guaranteed to dislike about 95% of my favourites and vice versa. Well, that’s not true, really. I think I like her favourites rather better than she likes mine. Hence, somewhat sceptical Ang is somewhat sceptical.
Anyway, the aroma is fairly close to freshly baked cookies, but there’s a sort of slightly toasted note to it as well that feels a bit off. As if the cookies got just 30 seconds too much in the oven. Or a few degrees too much. Hm. Okay.
Flavourwise… There is definitely a sort of baked goods feel to it, but I’m not sure I think it’s a cookie. Here that toasted note is very strong. Very strong. It’s not cookie for me, it’s burnt cookie, and I have to say burnt cookie is not really a flavour that I would be seeking out on purpose.
Hm. Anna, I’m sorry to say it, but I think we’ve got another proof of our flavoured black oppositeness here… This annoys me a little because it’s something I should have enjoyed more.
When I swapped wtih Courtney I asked her if I could have some samples of her blends from Nina’s because it has become a popular brand on Steepster and I’ve never had any of theirs before. Courtney shared this one and a couple of others with me. I figured with a name like this, I should share it with Husband.
This one has raspberry, red currant and vanilla, and it both smells and tastes very similar to your standard 4 Red Fruits blend. Well, I suppose it is half a one, isn’t it? I’m not really picking the vanilla up as such, but I get the impression that it’s there. I get that a fair bit in blends where the vanilla is in there with something else. I don’t taste vanilla, but I can taste what the vanilla does, smoothing things out and sweetening. That’s what I’m getting here as well.
This tastes like something that could be a dessert I would rather like to eat, but this is really all I can say about it, because the cup seems to have disappeared rather quickly.
I can report also that Husband thought it was nice as well.
From the queue, written March 30th 2014
I think this is the last of my current stock of African teas that have yet to be tried. I’ve never had a tea from Malawi before but as Malawi is sort of wedged in between Tanzania and Mozambique, both places I’ve had tea from, I’m not actually expecting anything totally new and unseen. It’s geographically much closer to the Mozambique than to the Tanzania, just further west. It was also one that it was possible to get on the map with a good degree of accuracy. All I know about the estate is that they’re Fair Trade and that they work to put quality over quantity.
The dry leaf certainly doesn’t make me think any differently. They’re CTC, but you really have to expect this when dealing with African teas. Orthodox leaf teas do exist, but CTC is by far more common. They have a lovely aroma, though. A little fruity and quite fudge-y with a little cocoa and a bit of caramel. I do sincerely hope that it can live up to this aroma!
After steeping, though, it’s not the same at all. This is strong, black as coffee (nearly) and it smells largely of leather. The fruity note is gone and the fudge-y note has turned into malt. The trees do not grow into Heaven, as we say, meaning there are limits and you can’t have everything.
As always with CTC I’m a little concerned that I’ve made it too strong, but it seems to have turned out all right. It has some astringency but not hugely and it’s not bitter. It’s actually quite sweet, but not only in a malty way. I feel like a little of that fudge has come back out to play here. Not very much of it, but a hint. As I sip, the astringent feeling sort of builds up a little and I also notice a few grassy hints to it, which I have to admit that I could live without.
If one was a milk-in-tea-er, this would carry milk wonderfully. I wouldn’t have any qualms at all serving this to Husband’s parents for breakfast when they’re here. In England (or at least in the part of it that I am related to) milk is the default way to have tea. If you do not specify that you normally take it without, you will get milk in it, so that is why I think they could happily drink this. They’re coming over for a few days before Easter, so I think I’ll reserve this pouch for that purpose.
It does indeed strike me as quite similar to the Mozambique. Nothing really new here.
Reference map: https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211803378882467968316.0004dd9c2591ff5d7d6bf&msa=0&ll=-17.098792,36.89209&spn=19.072988,24.060059 (I don’t know why the ‘short URL’ ticky box won’t work! I also don’t know why I bother to keep trying to make it.)
From the queue, written March 29th 2014
Anna sent this one to me, I think. Or possibly it was in the EU TTB round 2. I’m not certain. I found one of Anna’s number stickers loose in the box of things not yet tried, and I’m not certain which bag it fell off. It’s definitely of Anna origin, though, because she’s the only one I know who packs samples this way.
It is also a tea that several people have recommended to me on account of me liking almond flavoured tea recently, and it has been generally well rated on Steepster too, so I’m dealing with one of those popular blends now that everybody seems to drink.
I hope I won’t be disappointed.
It smells wonderfully marcipan-y. More marcipan than almond, really. There’s also something else there that I can’t really put my finger on and I don’t think it’s the base tea.
Turns out that there was something else in here. It’s something fairly tart and berry-y. Not Dreaded Hibiscus tart, but berry tart. I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps cherries? Normally I would have enjoyed a spot of berries, but the aroma here really led me to believe I was about to have something almond-y and marcipan-y, and I don’t think I got that. At all. It’s very difficult for me to find a marcipan-y note, but there is an almond-y note which comes out mostly in the aftertaste.
I have to say, I am actually a little disappointed. I want more almond. Less berry.
The description of it just says ‘honey, rare spices and and fruits’. Well I found the fruits in the shape of possibly-cherries. I can’t say I found anything resembling either rare spices and definitely no honey. I got nearly-almond in vast amounts in the aroma and a little in the flavour, but that can’t really be categorised as neiter honey nor rare spice.
This was not what I expected. And definitely not what I had hoped. Boo.
From the queue, written March 29th 2014
This is the sort of simple thing that appeals to me. One simple flavour and that’s it. No frills, no fuss. Anna shared this one with me.
Unfortunately, I’m not actually getting much in the way of strawberry flavour from it. It’s definitely flavoured with something, but I’m not sure I think it’s strawberry as such.
It’s pleasant, though. I like that it’s on a green type oolong. I think it works better than if it had been a darker one, in spite of the fact that I generally prefer the darker ones.
However, it’s not really a tea that shines. It’s good but also quite forgettable.
52teas – Dreamsicle Puerh
From the queue, written March 29th 2014
Courtney shared a sample of this one with me. I confess to not having the faintest clue as to what a dreamsicle is, but I think it’s some kind of ice lolly, yes?
When pouring it was SO PALE coming out of the spout that I actually stopped to lift the lid and check that I had added leaf.
It smells citrus-y. Sort of lemon-y and grapefruit-y. I believe the base is also playing a part in this. It sort of feels like the lemon-y aspects are not added flavours, but I can’t explain why I’m getting this impression. Other than that, I’m not really picking up anything of the base.
It tastes citrus-y too. More zesty than fruity. Again, I’m leaning towards grapefruit, but there’s something else in here as well. Something sweet. Vanilla? I think vanilla. (Hm. I was trying to go for something different from the cup I just had. Perhaps under such circumstances, one shouldn’t choose a tea flavoured to imitate something one doesn’t know what is…). I’m still not getting anything out of the base, though. I think I would enjoy it more if I could find the base in this.
So dreamsicles. Some sort of grapefruit/citrus-y ice lolly with vanilla? Perhaps a vanilla ice cream center with the citrus-y ice lolly bit around it?
From the queue, written March 29th 2014
Husband is out today at a whiskey fair, so I’m home alone all day. I’m going to take this opportunity to have a lot of flavoured stuff as, with the exception of the occasional EG, he’s been quite disinterested in flavoured things recently.
I’ve dug through my box of untried things and picked out a number of little baggies. Steepsterites, I have an itinirary! Well, actually I strongly suspect it’ll be impossible to get posts done about all of them today, but having this smaller pile to choose from makes it a little more manageble to choose something.
This is also where I’ve realised that I’ve got the EU TTB samples from the first and the second round mixed up because I’ve forgotten to number them. All is not lost, I can go back to the discussion thread and work out which is from which round, but it’s a little annoying to have to do it. I haven’t the faintest idea why I never numbered the first round samples in the first place. That was stupid.
Oh well. This one is a tea that Anna shared with me, and I’ve been a little scared of it because the name sounds so flowery. I don’t like floral scented teas much. At least not if ‘floral’ is the only thing it’s been flavoured with. (Halfway through the word ‘flavoured’ my brain apparently decided it liked ‘scented’ better. I ended up with ‘flented’…) Therefore I decided to start with it and then it would be over with.
In order work out whether to use boiling or just under boiling water (I prefer flavoured teas just under boiling. I feel the flavouring behaves better that way) I looked it up in the database and was highly pleased to discover that it was actually vanilla and hazelnuts. Hooray! I love vanilla and I’m rather interested in nut-flavoured teas as well, so this sounds just like something for me. It also rather explains the flowery name, since we must remember that vanilla is an orchid.
For people who can understand French, this may all have been painfully obvious from the name. I don’t know any French, save a small handful of random words, so I had nothing to go by. This brings me back to the whole pondering of whether or not to translate non-English names. I WISH all these French blends that are very fashionable around Steepster at the moment had names that I could actually read. How else am I supposed to know what they are? I’m not really super keen on having to take French lessons in order to read about other people drinking tea…
Now, small pet peeve aside, this smells lovely. More vanilla-y than nutty, but the nuts are definitely there as well. I can’t pick up any notes of the base tea, though, but I can sort of feel that it’s there.
The flavour is quite creamy. I could actually convince myself that it’s cream-flavoured. I think it’s the vanilla that does this, but in this cup I’m experiencing the vanilla as cream more than as vanilla, which I find a little disappointing. I mean, I like this as well, but… I want vanilla-y vanilla.
The hazelnuts, however, are very pleasant indeed. Sweet and nutty, and I can pick up the base as well. Again, I can’t say anything about the base, other than ’it’s tea’. It’s just sort of a default tea-flavoured black tea, but I’m fine with that. I don’t need a whole lot going on in a flavoured base. I just like to be able to tell that it’s there.
In spite of earlier fears, I’m enjoying this.