1317 Tasting Notes
Another tea I’ve never logged. WTF? I thought since it’s such a relatively long time since I shopped tea (and I mean really shopped through!) that I could have sworn all my loose had been logged at least once.
This is my reward for having written concentratedly for 15 minutes. NaNo wordcount total is now 9356 words. I’m ‘racing’ one of my writing buddies though, a fun little game we’ve had for years, and she was hot on my heels this morning. I was only 21 words ahead! O.o
Thank heavens for wednesdays! I’m part time employed so I have wednesdays off and although I was a bit annoyed at the position being a part time one when I started five years ago, I have come to love and cherish my wednesdays and I’m not going to ask for more hours until I’m forced.
Anyway, I’m taking (another) tea break. Double win when it’s a previously unlogged one. I ought to just drink it while doing another 15 minutes and let the review be the reward. But there’s a limit to how much discipline I can muster at any given moment.
It’s a good solid black, this, originally bought to drink at work, but I ended up bringing a different one instead. It has a nice reddish colour and not all that much in the way of aroma. It’s quite mild, almost fleeting and I had to sort of search for it. It’s nice once you find it though. A bit surprising in a black, I find.
Especially compared to the flavour. I brewed it a bit too strong. Wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing when adding the leaves and used too many for the size of pot chosen. Which is weird, frankly, because this small one with the farm animals on it has been my preferred pot for quite a while. My head must have been full of witches and caves and wordcounts and such while preparing. Anyway, it turned a bit bitter because of the strength but underneath it there is a lot of that thing which I have finally learned to recognise as ‘astringency’. Although, with the lab work in my background, the word still have some completely weird associations for me.
It’s a shame I used too many leaves, because it’s really pretty much all I can taste in this batch. I’m giving it a higher rating though, because I know from previous experience that if one pays attention to what one is doing, it’s better than this.
I’m in a green mood this morning. A lot of healthy stuff comes in the shade of green. That’s why call them greens. :)
I was originally amused by this one. I’d never seen a genmaicha before where puffed rice were all coloured green. I thought it looked hilarious, but figured it might have been done for the decorational value. Next, it surprised me by being very sensitive to steeping. If you brew with the leaves floating loose in the pot like I do, it MUST be decanted after steeping, because it will turn ridiculously bitter if left to its own devices.
Over on LJ, though, a resourceful person known as Iguanahey looked into it a bit and found that it was actually a variation of Genmaicha called ‘Uji Genmaicha’, in which a measure of matcha was added to the usual mix of sencha and rice. This would explain the mildness of flavour and the sensitivity to steeping.
I think I prefer the ‘usual’ Genmaicha that I had before, but this is really really nice too, and I’m dreading running out.
I think I should have let the water cool a bit more before brewing today. The rice of course have a toasted flavour, but it seems a bit more burned than usual this morning. Eh well. That’s what you get when you don’t have a thermometer and go by gut (and memory. Many’s the time where I’ve had to boil new water because I’d forgotten the kettle and it had gone way too cold) when brewing green and white.
Also backlogged. This is what I had this afternoon with the boyfriend. You may regard the following post as a collaboration.
Apparently these bags are getting a wee bit on in age, most likely, and haven’t been stored all that strictly according to what is best for the tea.
I could definitely pick up a citrus-y flavour, although it reminded me a bit more of lemon than of anything else. Something acidic, definitely, thought the boyfriend. We settled on citric acid.
The tea itself was rather bland. After a short while when it had developed a bit, read: steeped a little bit longer, it developed a little more character although not very much.
It did bring on the question of ‘astringency’, though. WTF is that? I’ve searched high and low for a proper easily understandable explanation of what this is supposed to taste like. I know it’s one of them ‘official technical terms’, but it has just never ever been a word that I have associated with any sort of flavour.
On the contrary, I work in a hospital lab, and when we talk about ‘stringency’ it has something to do with the environtment in which a given test is conducted being EXACTLY identical each time. Temperature and reaction times and such things. ‘Astringency’ sounds like the opposite of this and in the lab it wouldn’t really be all that good. It’s just the first thought that pops into my head, and it’s really confusing when talking flavour.
Hence, it’s really difficult for me to wrap my head around it not only being a sort of flavour, but also something good. I know that it has something to do with how tannins affect the mucus membranes of the tongue and such. But still.
Anyway, to make a short story long, we decided that this particular sensation that we found in it must be what people meant when they talked about astringency. I described it as something that could be mistaken for bitterness and the boyfriend, apparently having more imagination than me, said slightly like soap but not. After some consideration the soap was the conclusion we went with.
And then the boyfriend said he would award it 3 out of 5 chainsaws, which I thought on a 1-100 scale would translate to 60. And then he haggled me up to 65 on the grounds that chainsaws are cooler.
(It may take a couple of tries to make the slider hit 65 exactly. Bear with me if I have to edit a few times.)
Backlogged. I had this this morning. It’s what you get when you don’t really have enough of the white tea with kiwi and strawberry and you got inspired by a fellow Steeper the other day just add something else to it. So this is half white tea with kiwi and strawberry and half white tea with pomegranate.
The former was once quite nice but has faded a little. The latter have never been more than a bit better than mediocre and has never actually really tasted like pomegranate all that much. Obviously, what could I call this other than ‘fruit salad’?
It was nice enough, but heavily dominated by the strawberry/kiwi half. It’s not something that I’m heartbroken over not being able to make more of, but it was quite nice for the travel mug on the train.
I haven’t logged this one before? WHUT?
I likes me a good Lapsang. Don’t get me wrong there. But the lack of logging (ha! say that ten times fast!) might have something to do with the fact that I bought this one primarily to give my boyfriend when he’s here and secondarily for myself.
Right now though, I’m having the hardest time focusing on NaNo and I need a bit of a kick in the rear. Caffeine me. My green semi-spree is not going to cut it here. I know the amount of caffeine is the same, but the black tea just feels like it has more. Also this place, with the introduction of comments and liking and interaction, has became bloody addictive! Just the other day I discovered that on the front page that you get to when you’re not logged in, there are featured posts and featured users if you scroll down! I’m a featured user, apparently! It made me go WEEEEEE!!!! and immediately add all the other featured users to my follow list. You lot are all to blame if I don’t reach the 50K this year, I swear. Either that or I’ll start counting words on tea posts and include them.
The leaves smell all nice and smokey and with a hint of tobacco, which is something I’ve just recently learned to pay attention to in aroma. I get inspired when I see how you others describe these hard-to-describe things. The steeped tea is less smokey in scent and it has an underlying note of something sweet. I want to say caramel but I’m not really sure that’s the best description for it. Definitely tobacco too. Now that I’ve noticed, it’s really clear.
I think I’ve understeeped it a bit because I got impatient, but I made it good and strong with more leaves than usual. The flavour doesn’t have so much of the smoky flavour in it, but I expect the next cup with be better on that aspect. I think I might be getting the ‘pepper’ though. A sort of prickly flavour at the very back of my mouth like black pepper. But again, it might be because I used more leaves. This may not have been the most ideal brew, but it’s one of my black favourites, and aforementioned boyfriend is a good excuse to keep stocked up on it.
Right. I have my caffeine kick now and I need to get back to my pretense at novel writing. I’m going to take 15 concentrated minutes of writing and then I can slack off for a couple of minutes more. (This doesn’t sound like much, but it totally works. A short spurt of concentration, a couple of minutes break. Easy to over-look. Not so scary. And if you disregard all typos you can get a decent amount of words out in 15 minutes.)
I’m posting this at 6.28 pm my time. If you see any activity from me at all before fifteen minutes have passed, come by and kick my butt.
This one comes with a bit of a story. Prepare yourself for a lengthy post. Fingers on scroll-buttons.
I was a scout when I was a child. At one point when I was around 9-11 or so, we had these two pretty alternative individuals as leaders. Two younger men, who seemed to be brought up on the belief that sweets=evil and if it came from the Far East it was Good by definition. This is why, whenever we had any sort of celebration of sorts, like before holiday breaks or the last time before christmas or what have you, we had chai.
I had never heard about it before, and I didn’t have the slightest clue that it was something to do with tea. And back then I wouldn’t have cared either. All I remember about it was this strangely coloured spicy fluid that was just about drinkable, all the while wondering what the heck was suddenly so wrong with hot cocoa! So I was biased against chai at a fairly early age.
Many many years later I started getting interested in tea and one day I purchased a chai (Tengla chai, from Chaplon) to see if it was really so horrible as I had remembered it and also out of curiosity about the fact that there are as many recipies for chai as there are people in the world, just about. Oh, I remember it well. There were instructions for how to make it with milk and what not. I didn’t like it one bit. Couldn’t get it down. There was something or other in it that made it impossible for me to swallow without making a face and got rid of the rest of it in the first and the best swap that came along. Having shown people the list of ingredients it had in it, I have been told that the thing I didn’t like was likely ginger.
Fast forward to this past saturday. There’s a really great ice cream shop near where I live. They make a load of different flavours, some fairly unusual (it’s the only place, for example, that I’ve ever seen a plum sorbet. Which by the way is delicious) and you never quite now what they have to choose from on any given day. This past saturday they had one called chai latte. I don’t much care for chai, but I like tea a lot, so I’m enough of a dork that I had to try that one. There was just NO WAY I’d be able to walk away from it ever.
Turns out chai turned to ice cream was rather nice. Surprisingly nice. Nice enough that I could totally buy it again if I saw it there another time. It made me think that possibly it was time to give chai another chance.
So today, when going home from work, I went into Baresso and got a small chai-cino. I’ve seen people log chai latte or some such from Starbucks and I assume this is pretty much the same deal. They make it like a cafe latte (or in this case, like a cappucino) only instead of the espresso shot, they use this chai mix. I just got a small one, in case of extreme dislike. I’ve tried looking it up on their website and it would appear that the contents of said chai mix is a closely guarded secret. Can’t say I’m really surprised there.
They asked me, “do you want cinnamon on top?”
I dithered a bit on this and finally answered, “yes please, but not too much.”
This, apparently, was not a problem. Except, I saw his colleague make it and her definition of ‘not too much cinnamon’ was about three times my definition of same. I would have stopped her, but I hadn’t realised yet at the time that it was my order.
It was very very very VERY sweet. Sweet and fat. I’m glad I only got the small one, because I don’t think I’d be able to finish the large one. And I’m honestly not usually all that fat-frightened. You’d be amazed at the amount of cake with whipped cream I’m capable of consuming with utmost pleasure.
The contents of the chai mix being a state secret, I tried to decipher the flavour myself. There was cinnamon, definitely. The lot she had shaken on top was pretty overwhelming, but I’m certain there was cinnamon in the chai mix itself too. Also vanilla. And definitely sugar. These were most obvious flavours. I also picked up a note of something that I suspect might have been anise and something that was possibly cloves. Rather surprisingly I couldn’t find anything in the flavour that reminded me all that much of cardamom, but I expect it was probably hiding underneath all that cinnamon.
I liked it. I wouldn’t say I loved it, but it was drinkable. Definitely more so than my previous encounters, and I’m not completely turned off the idea of experimenting a bit the concept, depending on the list of ingredients in any given chai. The chai-cino from Baresso is also available on ice, blended with ice cubes. Considering how sweet and fat the taste was, I think that might actually be the way it would work the best.
Backlogging. I’ve had this one for a long time, it’s one of the teas that have been forgotten during a long period of time where greens didn’t really interest me much. It’s one of those green ones that get an almost neon-like colour and you wonder if there might have radio-active waste involved in making it. It’s really old though, and the flavour has faded rather a lot, especially the cactus flavour.
But it was awesome when it was fresh.
I think my tongue must be recovering.
I tried a second steep of this yesterday and then I thought the blueberry flavour was as dominant as everybody else said it would be. Then I made another pot today (to wash down the icky rooibos) and thought that was pretty heavy on the blueberry too. Encouraged by yesterday’s success, I’m trying a resteep of that again now.
It’s weird for me though. I’ve never had much luck with resteeping black tea before.
I think I’m getting close to making this my ideal blueberry tea, if it hadn’t been for the fact that it’s the only one I’ve ever had, so I can’t really compare with anything.
The European Adagio store has a very limited selection though, and that one order I got from Adagio was definitely on the extravagant side, so it’s not something we’re going to repeat a lot. If ever, in spite of the good experience I’ve had with it.
First the media was all over the blueberry, proclaiming it the healthiest food ever and claiming that it could do practically anything from curing the common cold to granting eternal life. Then the media was all over the story of how the blueberry had been completely overrated health-wise and how it wasn’t even remotely as healthy as everyone had thought and people were all up in arms over how they had ‘wasted’ money and energy on eating all those blueberries that apparently had absolutely no value.
Erm, excuse me? Just because it’s not miracle-food doesn’t mean it’s not healthy. It’s fruit. Therefore it is healthy. And also, they still taste lovely. So exactly what the problem was, I have no idea.
Me, I have never ever met a blueberry that I didn’t like. (Except if they’ve gone mouldy) Therefore it is not only puzzling, it’s downright alarming and weird that this sample tin looks like it’s never even been opened before! I must have somehow missed it when I tried all the other sample tins (I bought it as part of the sampler set).
I can find the blueberries in the scent of both the dry leaves and steeped tea. It’s there, it’s easy find, it smells natural and it’s not overwhelming.
The tea tastes nice and sweet. Fruity, but subtle. It’s like I’m getting black tea and then the blueberry is a sort of afterthought. The weird thing is that while I earlier proclaimed the strawberry tea from Whittard’s of Chelsea my ideal strawberry tea because I could actually taste real natural strawberry, you would think that I would find this one somewhat bland.
But the blueberry sort of builds up as I drink and the more I drink the more I can taste the blueberry. And I like that. I wouldn’t say no to a blueberry tea that just said PA-SHAM! and then there was natural blueberry flavour all over the place, but this is quite nice too. It tastes very well-balanced.
I’ve read the other reviews on this now and WOW!!! O.o I’ve had the exact opposite experience from everybody else. Others have found it a strong blueberry flavour while I found it a bit more subtle. I’ll have to try this again as soon as I’m snot-free, I think. And buy some blueberries to remind myself of the exact flavour.
Wow, just like one can post while drunk for some potientially hilarious and cringe-worthy result, one can do the same while sleep deprived. But probably shouldn’t. I swear I was only drinking TEA! O.o Anyway, as predicted I slept like a rock last night. This morning I’m still sleepy and in bad need of tea.
And we’re continuing in the theme of teas I forgot I had. This one was actually a shame to forget. It’s the last I’ve got of it and it’s the only flowering tea I’ve got at the moment. It’s the tea that prompted me to buy a godawful ugly clear cheap as dirt plastic teapot a while back, so I could see what was going on while steeping. This isn’t a recent picture at all, but it’s the same tea.
I don’t know if the light in the picture is off or if I steeped it longer before taking the picture back then, but it’s not really quite as dark as it looks like in the picture. Same sort of shade, but lighter.
I must admit I forgot to sniff it before pouring water on it, but after steeping and decanting it smells rather a lot like… boiled broccoli. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I like broccoli. And with a little butter in the water while boiling, yum.
The tea itself possible has an aroma. My nose is only partly closed up, but I’m still having difficulties picking up smell. If I close my eyes and concentrate I can pick up a sweet floral sort of smell which probably comes from the osmanthus flowers inside the bud. It doesn’t smell perfumed though, it’s just sort of there.
There isn’t really all that much in the way of flavour. I’ve taken several sips trying to figure out what it tastes like, but I’m getting very little. There is zero tail on this. No after taste what so ever. Some experimenting with slurping and generally bad table manners can provoke a little bit of after taste which sort of reminds me a bit of liquorice root, but if you just take a normal sip there’s nothing.
All show, no flavour. It IS pretty to look at though.