1279 Tasting Notes
From the queue
This is an oolong which Cteresa shared with me AGES ago. I don’t know anything at all about it because the description in the database is in French and nobody else has posted about it yet. I only a smattering of French words but I can make a qualified guess that it says that this tea resembles Tie Guan Yin in some way, but I’m stumped for the rest of it. I know ‘avec’ = ‘with’, but that doesn’t really get me very far.
The aroma is quite cocoa-y and wood-y, so at least at this point it doesn’t particularly remind of TGY at all.
It tastes a rather fruity and a little bit cocoay and a little bit woody. But mostly surprisingly fruity. Even now when it’s at a sort of lukewarm stage, it’s very fruity. I’m not sure which fruit exactly, but probably a kind of stone fruit, because this is generally the sort of fruit I find myself leaning towards when I don’t know what kind of fruit I think I’m tasting.
From the queue
MissB shared a sample of this one with me in the parcel of vast amounts of samples that I received from her in December. I don’t much care for alcoholic drinks in general, so I’m hoping there won’t be that alcoholic note in it. I’ve tried one or two cocktail flavoured blends from 52teas that had that note of burning in the throat. It’s that very thing that I find unpleasant about strong alcohol. Husband, however, was quite interested when I asked him if he wanted a cup. I expect it to be more to his liking than mine.
It smells weird and sweet. I’m also rather reminded of dates and figs in the aroma. Not a good sign as I can’t abide dates. Peculiarly, though, it doesn’t smell unpleasant or making me wanting to not taste it. It actually only managed to make me curious. Bit like when I saw ‘baconnaise’ in the supermarket the other week. It sounded so odd that I had to try it. (Tastes like salt and smoked paprika, by the way, and not at all of bacon. I could stir some of that up myself I should think. With significantly less salt in it, preferably.
Tastes weird. I asked Husband whether or not he thought it tasted like rum, him having a much larger experience with rum than me. Having actually tasted it in his life without it being mixed in a generous amount of cola. He said he’d tried some American rum which had tasted very sweet and raisin-y and not nice at all.
I can recognise that description in this when I taste it. Kind of sweet and raisin-y/date-y/fig-y. It’s certainly ‘brown fruits-y’.
It’s quite strong in flavour, and I don’t know if it’s the flavouring or the base. It’s definitely some kind of sturdy base they’ve used for this.
I have to say, though, this is definitely not something for me.
From the queue. I’ll do two a day for the next week. I’m currently writing posts faster than I can post them, even when posting daily. It’s all these boatloads of untried things, you see. I suppose I feel inspired these days.
Bonnie shared this one with me and I confess I’ve been gathering courage to try it. You see, this is a loose puerh with cacao hulls, some vanilla black and some roasted chicory root. Apparently they also do a version with vanilla rooibos, but Bonnie chose the one without for me.
It’s the chicory root that has me concerned. It started to concern me already when I first smelled it and discovered that rather than smelling like cocoa and puerh, it just smelled allround weird. Worrisome. The first thought that popped into my head was ‘thin coffee’. Now, I know some people enjoy having their tea coffee flavoured. I, however, am one of those people who feel those two things should be kept as far apart as possible. I mean, I like drinking tea, obviously, and I also occasionally greatly enjoy a caffe latte (or even on rare occasions a small cup of ordinary coffee with milk). Drinking one does not exclude the liking of the other at all. It’s the combination of the two that I find to be frankly disgusting. Coffee flavour has no business being in my tea and vice versa.
So you can see why I’m concerned, yes?
However, it was shared with me by someone who meant well and thought I would find it interesting, therefore I’m going to have a cup of it anyway. I sometimes take a long time to do it and sometimes I end up not even posting about it, but when people have shared something with me, I always try it, even though I don’t believe I’ll like it. It’s the polite thing to do and it’s also a practice that has given me more than a few very pleasant surprises. For example, it was cteresa sharing a fruit-flavoured rooibos with me that led me to discover under which circumstances I can actually really enjoy a rooibos after having gone for years believing I didn’t like any rooibos at all. Now I’ve got loads of fruit-flavoured rooiboses.
Besides, isn’t this really the purpose of swaps? Exploring the things you would never in your life have tried otherwise? See you later, comfort zone!
So here we go! Tea that smells like thin coffee. It’s the chicory root, of course, that gives the coffee-y impression, not real coffee. I believe I’ve had blends with chicory in them before. I’m almost certain I have. I have clear memories of having tried it in a blend, but I can’t remember which blend that might have been or what I thought of it. I don’t, however, remember it as being awful. I think I would have remembered something on the lowest end of the point scale. This gives me confidence.
After steeping it’s much more cocoa-y in the aroma. The chicory is still there, but it’s dampened significantly by the cocoa, and the primary impression I’m getting now is freshly baked brownies that has just come out of the oven 20 seconds ago. The good sort of brownies, baked with loads of high quality chocolate rather than cocoa powder. It makes me want to bake again! Haven’t baked anything at all since before Christmas, but there are still lots of biscuits left and those need to go first. (Also, I’ve got an ice cream project I want to try first, now that we’ve got a freezer that is larger than a match box)
I’m just about to taste it now and I’m actually not even scared of it even more.
Okay, the chicory is fairly distinct in the flavour with it’s coffee-ish notes, but not directly off-putting. Just… I could have lived without the chicory, really. It also rather messes with the cocoa, making it not actually taste much like cocoa but more like an enhancement for the chicory. It doesn’t help that cocoa or chocolate in tea rarely truly works for me because my brain expects a completely different consistency which the tea can’t deliver for obvious reason.
I can vaguely pick up some earthy notes of the puerh base, but these are most prominent in the aftertaste. In the sip itself, however, I’m surprised to find that it’s the vanilla black that is actually standing out more. It’s sweet and slightly creamy, and in a strange way managing to be vanilla with being very vanilla-y in flavour. I think it’s the other flavours in this that are messing with it.
Although I mentioned that I’ve learned to drink rooibos, and lots of it, in recent years, I find I’m glad Bonnie chose the one without rooibos for me. I think rooibos would have added unnecessary confusion to the mix, and vanilla alone in rooibos never really did it for me as much as vanilla + fruit does.
I’m a little ambivalent. I’m pleased with the puerh and the vanilla black, and would have enjoyed the cocoa more if not for the chicory. But I could also really live without the chicory. Or perhaps not even entirely without it, but just less of it.
I can’t decide what I actually think of this. I suspect it could grow on me, though, if I made sure to have it another couple of times in relatively quick succesion.
Later addition: I wound up taking the rest of this one with me to drink at work, for which it proved to be eminently suitable. I could easily have continued with this sort of work tea for a while. At about the same time my colleague brought a small tin of Kusmi’s spicy chocolate blend, which I found somewhat similar to this one. Rating is large based on how this tea has helped me through many many work days.
From the queue
MissB shared a sample of this one with me, and for those who don’t speak French (I don’t; I looked it up), the name is ‘peach and thyme’. Thyme! I’ve never had a tea that had thyme in it before, but I like using thyme in cooking so this is very exciting. I did actually see a different tea recently which had raspberry and thyme which I found somewhat interesting, but wasn’t brave (or rich! Exorbitant price!) enough to purchase. If this one is a success, I may go back to that shop and get some. Is thyme the new fashion ingredient?
The dry leaf smells… peculiar, but lovely. Herb-y fruit? Fruit-y herbs? It’s not really fully recognisable as thyme or as peach, but something in between which smells thouroughly weird. Weird, but lovely. I’ve been sniffing at the bag for several minutes now.
After steeping, the thyme is quite easily recognised in the aroma. It rather reminds me of spaghetti sauce to the point where I caught myself attempting to detect tomato. I couldn’t, for obvious reasons. The peach, however, appears to have gone into hiding. Perhaps it’s shy. I can tell that there’s something else in there, but it’s not really coming out to play. I can’t really tell anything about the base tea at all, though.
The flavour is quite the opposite of the aroma. Where it smells a lot like thyme and not so much like fruit, it tastes a lot like peach and less like thyme. The first sip gave me a ‘yeah, this is peach tea alright’ sort of experience. It has rather clear herb-y overtones, but to my surprise there is actually harmony between the herb and the fruit. I confess I wasn’t entirely convinced that this was possible. The idea of it just seems so bizarre. Like basil ice cream. But it works. It really works.
I’m very pleased with this. It’s a very interesting and pleasant flavour and I’m definitely feeling much more inclined to go and try that raspberry thyme tea I saw now. This is great.
From the queue
We went into town today to spend some gift certificates we got for Christmas on some new cutlery. I’ve been wanting this for when we moved into our house, because the cutlery that we had was all mismatched and lumped together out of at least five different sets. And I don’t know about the stuff that Husband had when we moved in together, but the stuff I had was almost all something I had inherited from my parents when moving away from home. I wanted cutlery that actually matched and that I had had from new. Cutlery doesn’t really wear out, so it doesn’t get replaced naturally unless you make the decision yourself to replace it. It took a little convincing of Husband, but eventually he conceeded my point. I think the last little stretch of convincing wasn’t actually me, but the fact that he saw for himself that it was a little annoying to not be able to set a table for six with matching things. It looks haphazard and like you’re not really making an effort.
Anyway, on our way there we passed a small shop that sold tea, coffee and fancy chocolate. It was actually because they had a sign outside saying they carried AC Perchs teas that we decided to go in and have a look. There were only six or seven ACP teas to choose from, though, and none of them particularly interesting, but they also had several ones of this brand. It’s completely new to me, but apparently it’s a Scandinavian company. The tea is sold in 100g packages which came in a very attractive-looking wooden caddy. I really like wood as a material, I find it very decorative. Even better, they had this one which is a single farm Chinese black from the Hubei province. I think we all know what I’m like with Chinese black, and an interestingly new-to-me one at that!
I dithered a bit, because it was 95kr for one, but in the end I succumbed to temptation, part of which was the tea itself and part of it being caddy-lust. I wanted that caddy. I wanted it!
Turns out, however, that the caddy was also untreated wood on the inside, which meant I wouldn’t be able to wash it when the leaves were used. I had hoped that it might be a metal or just a plastic container clad in wood, but alas. After a lot of thinking, weighing of options and considering the matter, I decided to just pour the tea in and find a different use for the caddy after it was gone, only to have to transfer it to a proper metal tin shortly after when it transpired that the lid didn’t actually seal properly anymore when it wasn’t held in place by the plastic wrapping.
So verdict on the caddy, highly attractive and equally as useless. Out with that, then. I can’t even use it for something else when I can’t put the lid on.
The tea itself seems to be a paradox. At the first sip, it’s suprisingly bitter. Not over-leafed-bitter. Not over-steeped-bitter. It’s bitter because it just is.
But it’s a Chinese black! I hear you protest. Those are never bitter!
I know! And it’s not just the bitterness. It gets worse.
In addition to this seemingly naturally occurring bitterness, it’s really a fairly light flavour. Oh, it’s pretty strong and full-bodied, yes, but it gives me a sort of light and springy-bouncy impression, the sort that is the exact opposite of bitter.
I’m not sure how this is possible. Mutually exclusive flavour profiles in equal measure. Paradox tea. Does that mean the whole tin is in danger of unmaking itself? I had better drink it fast, then.
It does bring to mind something I saw on the discussion boards, though, about how organic teas tended to be more bitter than ordinary teas because of uh… because of Reasons. I can’t even remember who said it either now. Look at me with my source material all in order. :p
As it cools more and I drink more, though, I discover something about that bitterness. The bitter pinch of it slowly fades and it becomes a sort of old wood-y, burnt toast-y kind of coal-y thing. It tastes old. Not old as in ‘these leaves must be several years old!’, but old as in the very concept of age.
At the first sip, with the paradoxical bitterness, I was a little disappointed, because I paid an arm and a leg for this and I had already been thwarted by the attractive-looking but totally useless caddy, but now that I’ve been nursing this cup for a while, I’ve decided that I actually really very much like it. It feels like it would be a good first aid tea. You know, the kind of tea you drink when everything seems to be against you and the world as such can go jump off a cliff. It’s much in the same family as life-giving tea.
I should be surprised if there wasn’t a second steep in this.
Indeed there is. The flavour profile is exactly the same as before, if a smidge milder, in the second steep. Very rarely have I come across teas where it was worth the effort to attempt a third steep when brewing them Western style, but this is one where I definitely feel like it’s worth it to at least give it a go.
It may have cost a small fortune and it may have come with a useless caddy, but I feel I am actually getting value for money with this. It’s a little out of my way to go back to that shop, but I want to try some of the other teas from NUET now, so I’ll probably do it. (I’ll just know not to expect anything from the caddy)
From the queue
Anna shared a sample of this one with me. It’s a green base, which I don’t think I had fully realised when I asked for it. I’ve had a green vanilla-flavoured tea before and was only moderately impressed, but kiwi and vanilla sounded like such a fantastic combination I just had to try it. (Besides the previous experience with green vanilla tea, I believe was before my current vanilla-y preference had fully set in.)
I can tell you, the leaves definitely smell awesome. The kiwi is strong and the vanilla is sweet and creamy so that the whole thing reminds me of a fruity cream cake! (And I can always eat some cream cake). After steeping I can mostly smell kiwi and the base tea in more or less equal measure. This is quite nice, actually. It smells as though kiwi might be one of those flavours that just ‘click’ with green tea. Bit like orange and pu-erh do for me. It’s so rare to see kiwi flavoured anything, though. I wonder why that is?
(Cool faster, tea, so I don’t burn my tongue. I want to taste you.)
This is happy tea! Seriously, one sip and I’m grinning so widely the top of my head might come off! I don’t know exactly which quality it has that makes me have that reaction, it just does. I suppose that might be what you might call x-factor, although that concept has been rather polluted by irritating talent shows in recent years.
At first I taste primarily the green tea, so for a moment there I was a little disappointed by the flavouring. Then I got the kiwi, and then a thick creamy vanilla which brings me right back to aforementioned cream cake.
Perhaps that’s it? Not x-factor, but cream cake-factor.
This stuff is right up my particular alley of nom!
From the queue
When MissB provided me with some Sleepytime Vanilla, she also sent me a lot of other samples of what she happened to have on hand. Many of them are herbal, so I’ve got loads of choice for my Before Bed Beverages (Triple B’s).
This was one of them, and I’ve been quite looking forward to trying it. The box of teas to write about has been rather neglected since November or so, so I had forgotten all about it, until I re-found it in there today. As soon as I saw it, I know that was what I wanted.
Pomelo grapefruit is one of my favourite citrus fruits. I’m quite fond of the more ordinary grapefruits as well, particularly the pink ones, but pomelos are special because they’re much sweeter in a way that reminds me a little bit of honey.
The blend looks lovely. It’s green and yellow and with bits of red in it. It just looks jolly, somehow. It smells nice after brewing as well. All clean and fresh and not actually as grapefruit-y as I had imagined. I think the bamboo must be tempering that a bit.
The flavour didn’t disappoint either. I’ve had a bamboo herbal before. I believe it was Jillian who shared that one with me several years ago. That one wasn’t a blend, just bamboo, and I have to say that I can’t rightly recall what it tasted like, only that I found it pleasant. I did in this one as well. The overall impression that I got from this blend was citrus-y refreshment, and then I got a fair bit of sweet grapefruit mainly as an aftertaste. A small whiff of that aftertaste has been lingering for a really long time now which is not at all an unwelcome experience.
The last third of the cup was forgotten and grew cold, but that hasn’t made it any less lovely. I expect this blend would do very nicely as a cold brew as well
I greatly enjoyed this blend. I used half of the sample that MissB sent me and I expect I’ll be using the other half quite soon.
From the queue
Yes, that is what the blend is actually called! Can you imagine going into the shop and saying, “hello, may I have some bad weather, please?” It makes me really want to like it, just so that I can buy some more and get to say that. Also, this was December 22nd in my Christmas calendar, but since I wasn’t very good at keeping up with that and still (writing this in mid-January) haven’t actually tasted half of them yet, I’m just going to start adding them to the queue.
Unfortunately, it smells rather anise-y and I’m not really a fan of anise in general. It gets far too cloying very quickly. I can’t tell what else might be in here, and looking at the blend itself isn’t really helping much at all. I can see some yellow bits and some green bits and some reddish brown bits and a few red bits. Could be anything, although I think the red bits look a bit rose-y. I’m also wondering if the reddish brown bits might be some sort of freeze dried fruit. There is a note under the anise which may or may not be kind of fruity.
The first note I can taste is anise, and then with something possibly fruity underneath. I think there must be some mint as well, but that’s really a no-brainer, because I’ve found that it’s difficult to find a herbal blend which doesn’t contain mint in some form or other. I’m sure they exist, but few of them have crossed my particular path.
In spite of the anise, this isn’t actually as dreadful as feared when I first sniffed it. I shan’t be going into the shop and asking for more bad weather, but I can probably finish this lot off.
I’m not sure about the rating here, as I find myself in the odd situation of not really having an opinion on it either way. I think I’ll just leave it off for the time being.
I’m skipping the queue with this one, because I need to gush! There will be a queued post later, so that I’m not neglecting those.
I’m having Bad Dog! tea. I hadn’t heard about this company before, until SimplyJenW made a post about their Keemun in which it was mentioned that it had been grown in Fujian. This caught my interest. Keemun and Fujian black. And not just any bit of Fujian. No, it was near the village of Tan Yang! A combination of my two favouritest things in the world of tea? Was it a blend? No, it wasn’t. My guess was that it must be like that Taiwanese Assam that Butiki has, the one which is made from Assam cultivars but grown in Taiwan. This was indeed what was going on.
Steepsterites. I needed this tea in my life. I needed it like air!
I made some inquiries regarding the possibility of shipping to Denmark and what it would cost, and Joseph Wesley is a very kind soul who really went out of his way to help me get an order. Long story short, order was placed through email, and payment sent through paypal. And this is where my jaw dropped and I had to do a little dance of victory. What I had ordered would have made me eligible for free shipping, had I been in the US. Obviously, this was not feasible for him to do when shipping to Denmark, so instead he offered to pay half the shipping cost for me, so that I still got something out of having ordered for that much. So many companies would have simply said ‘sorry, we can’t give you free shipping to Europe, because we don’t normally ship there,’ and I’d have been fine with that. This solution that Joseph Wesley offered me would never even have occurred to me! I thought it was very generous of him to offer it, and if he hadn’t, I’m not sure I would have placed the order at all. It made the difference between what I’m willing to pay for shipping and what I’m not. Clearly this guy had taken pity on me in my Fujian Keemun desperation and decided to move sun and moon to make it happen. I went HOORAY! and forked over the money.
The generosity didn’t stop there, though. Let me tell you, Steepsterites, what happened next.
Joseph Wesley has seven different teas on his website, six of which I was interested in trying. There was the aforementioned gold nugget, this one which I’ll be writing about in a moment, an Assam (I’m becoming interested in Assam lately), three more Chinese blacks and a Darjeeling. Pass on the Darj. I don’t much care for that stuff. But the others! When ordering samples, you can get three samples, five samples or seven samples. Ideally, at this point I would have liked four, but I then realised that I’ll be sending a parcel to Auggy shortly, so why not ask for doubles and share with her? Seeing as how we appreciate the same sort of qualities in our black teas and generally love the same things, I should like to have her opinion as well. And I was already planning on sharing some of the Fujian Keemun with her anyway. So in the end I opted for seven samples, three of which were doubles.
When I then received my parcel, it included a handwritten letter from Joseph Wesley about how my size order fell just exactly in a zone of ‘no practical packaging’ and that he had included an extra free sample! I now have doubles of all the samples to share with Auggy! YAY!
How fabulous is that?
I didn’t start with the coveted Fujian Keemun, though. I haven’t tried it yet. I’m waiting for the Right Moment. Well, actually I just want to go around a look at the tin for a bit and just look forward to it. And pet it now and then. :)
This one I also got a tin of, and it’s from Zheijiang province. I am certain that I’ve had tea from there before, but I’d have to dig deep in my notes to find out which ones it was, so for all intents and purposes, it’s new to me.
I followed the suggestion from Joseph Wesley of using significantly cooler water than I normally would have. He suggests the same temperatures that I would normally have used for a white tea, or perhaps a particularly hardy green. This rather went against everything I’ve learned about my own preferences, but I thought, since I’d seen it I’d give it a go. I don’t normally look for these things at all, you see. I’ve been at this long enough to know what I like and how I like it, and next time I have this, it’ll very likely be the way I would normally brew, so I can see if there is a discernable difference. I expect the cultivar is dictating the temperature somewhat here.
The aroma is very mild and malty. I’m having a hard time really getting it. It does that thing where I can almost imagine that it’s somehow heavier than air, and I can sense it hovering there above the tea, but I can’t draw it into my nose properly. It’s quite strange.
It tastes… You know my very first thought was licorice. Not the anise-y unlicorice that some of you call licorice (Ha! I must laugh! Ha!) and which has nothing to do with proper licorice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Anise =/= licorice. Anise doesn’t even taste like licorice. It tastes like anise.Not proper, real licorice which is as black as night, it has a chewy texture and preferably salty. Paradoxically, Real Proper Licorice which is chewy and preferably salty, doesn’t actually have too much to do with licorice root either. I’m sure it’s made of the stuff somehow. Some kind of extract probably, but it tastes different from actual dried licorice root. And when I say ‘this reminded me at first of licorice’ I meant Real Proper. Not anise, not licorice root.
Gosh that was long and complicated for something that was just a fleeting thought. I’ve accidentally made this cup a bit strong. I thought I had more water in the kettle when I measured out the leaf, you see, but the tea, although a wee bit astringent, has not been damaged. No bitterness. If I had used boiling water like I normally would I might not have been so lucky with it.
Now, what I’m actually picking up here when the licorice moment has passed is an underlying note of dark chocolate. Very dark chocolate. Well within the range of 70%+ cocoa here, and yet it’s still chocolate rather than cocoa. It’s rather hiding a bit. I just find myself sitting there going hmm, grain, yes, slightly floral, yes, bit Keemun-y, yes, hey, what was that? And there it is, lurking underneath all the rest is the chocolate. I’m also getting a smidge of cherries in it, but not until it’s all cooled down to lukewarm at the bottom of the cup, and even then it’s just a teensy bit, but still. Cherry.
Basically this reminds me of a strong Keemun with some chocolate-y notes in it and a wee bit of cherry. I’m really rather enjoying this, even though I accidentally overleafed it a bit.
From the queue
This is a tea that Bonnie shared with me, and it is also the first real tea post I’m writing in the new house. It was also one that Bonnie chose to give me, I think, with an eye on Project Africa.
Therefore I’ve spent some time trying to work out where Ajiri was on the map. Turns out Ajiri is a company name and not a place name. They have a rather lovely and informative website. The actual tea is produced at the Nyansiongo factory, which was made a LOT easier to find on the map once I discovered that I’d been spelling it wrong all along. The factory itself didn’t appear to be marked in, so I just placed the arrow somewhere in the middle of the town. The Nyansiongo factory is a cooperative of several small local farmers in the Kisii highlands.
There’s a veeeery strong and malty aroma here, which smells on the verge of turning bitter. I may have leafed it wrong after all. It’s CTC and I’m always very careful with those because they get strong so very quickly. I put less leaf in my pot than my brain felt like it was used to, but I still think I’ve got a super strong cup here. There’s also a smidge of that high-grown feeling in it, but that might actually be down to sheer strength. I am sitting here with a cup almost as dark as coffee after all!
GOSH! It is quite strong! It even has that sort of bitterness at the back of the throat that I get when drinking coffee. It’s not unpleasantly bitter or at all undrinkable, but it’s just a tad much. I would do a rare instance of milking it (I usually have milk in my coffee), but as it so happens, we haven’t currently got any milk until I’ve been to the shops, so I’ll just have to power through and try making a second cup with even less leaf. This is why I’m not a fan of CTC. It messes with my habits learned through a decade!
Now, if we ignore that hit of bitterness at the moment of swallowing, we’ve got a strong cup of tea here, which feels suitable for this time of day (morning). Until swallowing it feels very smooth, so if I had made it a little weaker I believe it would have been all-over smooth and lovely. It definitely shows some promise in that regard.
It’s hard for me to really analyse the flavour, though. It tastes like default tea. Quite a good body to it, but it’s a one-note deal all in all. I get the impression that this might be very good in blends, adding body to some lighter teas with more distinctive notes. I think this + not too fancy keemun, for example, would make a lovely blend.
The second cup felt, when I made it, severely understeeped and underleafed, but the result was much better. It is indeed very smooth but still with a lot of body. It’s less of a one-note default tea deal now, and has taken on leather-y, wood-y, malty notes and it finishes with a touch of high-grown-ness. I still think it would go wonderfully in blends, though.
Map reference: http://goo.gl/maps/ULUUD
(Awwwww, very purry and cute lap-Charm in a rare social moment. ♥)