1191 Tasting Notes
Auggy sent me another care package. It’s huge! She spoils me rotten, that woman. Note that I’m not complaining. It’s very hot here at the moment. I’ve heard rumours that there’s a chance we’ll hit 30°C Sunday and/or Monday, but I sincerely hope it will remain a rumour. I know that’s nothing compared to the around 40°C that I’ve heard the East Coast of the US is dealing with these days, but it’s still WAY too hot for me. (40°C? I would melt and I would be incredibly miserable while doing so! Just warm enough that I don’t have to wear a jacket, that’s my ideal temperature).
Given the sunny weather, I thought we should start with something not black, and I went for this one.
This stuff is funny. It’s not really leaf. It’s more like… small fat buds, several of them put together. It remids me mostly of a miniature sheaf of wheat or some such. It has a funny aroma too. I swear it smells almost exactly like warm sugar. Strange.
The tea is nearly colourless after brewing. I wonder if I should have used more not-leaf? Maybe I should, although Verdant’s description says it supposed to be very pale. It also doesn’t really have much in the way of aroma at first, but after it has been allowed a short time to rest and develop, I’m getting a minty note. Sort of spearminty, I think. I’m not superkeen on spearmint so this is where I’m hoping I haven’t just made a cup of liquid toothpaste.
It’s not liquid toothpaste, it’s… It’s… It’s a bit like if you take a coffee pot, well used and none too clean, and pour boiling water in it. Then leave that to steep for a while and taste the outcome. I imagine it might taste something like this. Or perhaps if you then steeped some chamomile in it as well, that might be closer. Chamomile with coffee notes.
The description says that this is a type that has never really won the hearts of Chinese consumers, so it’s relatively rare. I have to say I can see why. And I wouldn’t particularly mind it if it stayed that way. This is definitely not for me.
I cannot wait for A.C. Perch’s to open in Århus! I’m so excited! Every time I walk past where they’re preparing the store I try to peer in through the windows, although you can’t see plock all.
I’m on a mission to get through some of the older teas in the cupboard. There are a few which are from before we moved in here over two years ago! O.o Probably I’ll end up taking several of them with me to work. It’s easier to get through boring stuff there than it is at home. The trick is to only have boring stuff to choose from. :D I’ve already discovered that if you take a frankly disappointing caramel black and mix it 50/50, more or less, with a lacklustre vanilla, both become quite acceptable indeed.
Now, in order to further this mission I have made Husband make me a cup of something summerly which is a fairly recent acquisition. I asked for something fruity or oolong-y or both, you see.
I’ve actually had this a couple of times before but I haven’t posted about it because something always went wrong. Either I botched the brewing or I forgot to drink it and it turned cold or I simply just had it while being distracted by something else.
Now, this is one of those teas where I’m going to have to try really hard not to compare it too directly with another tea. Sometimes avoiding this is very difficult even though you know that you might as well be comparing apples and oranges. I’ve shared the ACP raspberry oolong with a number of you before, and that was the one I was thinking of when I bought this one. Any sort of red berry flavoured oolong is likely to get my attention, really.
But this really is quite different to the raspberry oolong, and not only because raspberries and strawberries only have being red in common. This is on a greenish oolong base whereas the raspberry oolong is more oxidised. Therefore I would put them in the same general category, but still consider them entirely different beasts.
Gosh, look at me blathering. Let’s just go straight to the tea, which has a strong aroma of strawberry. I mean really, Husband was having strainer related difficulties in the kitchen and I could smell strawberries all the way in here in my room. Granted there’s an open door between it and the kitchen, but it’s still a whole other room. It’s fruity and sweet, but also rather leaf-y. I’m sure the leaf-y note is actually the base oolong, but my brain wants to associate that to strawberries as well and it makes me think of strawberry leaf. I don’t even know if that would safe to drink at all, but my brain doesn’t seem to care about such trivialities. I know raspberry leaf can be used as herbal tea, although I’ve heard that it’s a bit… erm. Let’s just say ‘acquired taste’.
The fruit flavouring is a little more controlled in the flavour. It’s definitely there, still sweet and fruity, and it shows up primarily when swallowing and on the aftertaste. The rest of it is pure oolong. (Thankfully, my brain isn’t enforcing the strawberry leaf clause here, that would just be weird) It’s difficult to tell anything about the oolong, because an added flavouring always comes in the way of analysing it and I can only get a few general notes, if anything at all. This one feels quite smooth and a not too vegetal. As I tend to prefer the more stronger oxidised sorts of oolong, this is a good thing.
I’m quite enjoying this. It’s no ACP raspberry oolong, but it’s quite enjoyable.
This morning on my way to work I passed by a building where I saw this in the window
The sign says that they are opening both a shop and a tea room there in August this year.
YOU GUYS, IT MADE MY DAY!
They’ve had the shop in Copenhagen for over 175 years, of course, and they’ve also managed to get a foot in on the Japanese market as a luxury item so they’ve got a couple of shops there, but this is the first new shop in Denmark, and it’s right near where I live! I’ll be walking right past it every (work) day.
This, ladies and gentlemen, has the potential of becoming very very expensive. (While actually saving money, because I’ll no longer be bound to amounts dividable by 100g and I’ll no longer have to pay the (modest for within Denmark) shipping fee.
I am celebrating this with a cup of the Late Summer blend which contains cranberry and vanilla on a black Chinese base, and which is one of my absolute favourites from ACP.
Can it be August yet? Can it? Can it?
O Hai there Steepsterites. I’ve been neglecting you a bit lately. I’ve been keeping an eye on the boards but that’s about it. I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month and there are a number of other things keeping me occupied. We had our first wedding anniversary this past weekend for example. Went out to dinner at one of the restaurants where we also had some of our wedding last year and saw the Tall Ships Races ships as they were in town. Very interesting for a day out if you get the chance for that sort of thing. The restaurant was the place where we were also given a painting by the owner, so we had brought copy of a photograph taken there with him, us and the painting to give to him. Unfortunately he had passed away earlier this year from cancer, but we gave it to his daughter. She said that he would have been very happy with the photograph and pleased to hear that we’ve hung the painting in our lounge. So that was a kind of bittersweet ending to our anniversary.
Husband loves this one so when I ordered some more of it, he all but demanded that I get two pouches. This place sells in 100 g bags ONLY when it’s online and I’m not sure he really had any idea of how much that is before he saw me tinning 200 g of the stuff and commented that perhaps we should just buy it by the bucket. However, it has turned into a favourite of his (likely because of the lemon grass. Husband is a lemon fiend.) so not stocking up was not an option.
This is the shop that I used to live close to so I’ve never ordered online from them before. Looking at the selection, though, I’ve come to suspect that they might have the same supplier as Fru P, so I’m not really missing out on anything by having moved away. I did consider getting some of Luka’s vanilla to compare with Fru P, but decided against it. I’ll just have to remember to check if Fru P has a rooibos blend similar to this one, because that would be so much more convenient. (And Fru P is a really nice lady. I’ve been chatting with her when I’ve been in there and she remembers my name. I want to support her business.)
Anyway, at first when Cteresa taught me to like flavoured rooibos blends, I wasn’t super convinced about this one. It’s lemon-y and that really suits the rooibos and makes it not taste like a chewed pencil, but it still struck me as kind of boring.
I’ve come around to it, though, and I can see now that the old batch had been hoarded a little too carefully. This cup is much more lemon-y and fun to drink.
So there you are, Steepsterites. I aten’t ded! But now it’s back to the writing.
I’m adopting Rie’s system of making bits of the post that doesn’t really pertain to the tea in question smaller. That way it’s a lot easier for people who aren’t interested in that to just skip ahead to where the review is. I’ve been neglecting my social sites recently. I’ve fallen into this game, you see, called GeoGuessr. It plops you down somewhere on the planet and then you have to travel around and guess where you are using only Google Street View. It’s surprisingly addictive but takes a long time. I have a tendency to always get some deserted stretch of road with NO road signs what so ever.
Most of this post is a backlog. I wrote it while having the tea but didn’t have time to finish it, so it’s been languishing for a while. I’ve mentioned that I share tea at work with my boss, and sometimes we go to a local cafe wtih a fairly large selection of teas (and great cakes) and have a little “afternoon meeting.” I had told her about Fru P, so last time we went, we went in there first for a little explore, and I decided to buy some of this one.
My thought was that since the caramel one was such a disappointment, I’d just check the others of the same sort of family, and I figured that brittle was sort of caramel-y. Nut flavouring in teas can frequently make them quite sweet, so I wanted to see if I could get a fuller caramel-esque experience this way.
Like with the other teas I’ve tried from this shop so far, the aroma is strong and extremely promising. This one is heavily hazelnut with sweet sweet brittle underneath, and it makes me worried because with the exception of the vanilla, the others have all had this strong aroma but completely failed to deliver on flavour. I’m steeling myself for disappointment.
Now! This one actually has flavour. I’m getting a ton of hazelnut right at the first sip. Not so much in the way of base flavour, though, but it might show up when it cools a little more. The brittle part appears to be absent at this point, save for a slight sweetness.
The sweetness of the brittle increases as the tea cools, but the hazelnut is still the strong primary flavour. Unfortunately the base doesn’t really come through with much flavour on its own, but I find that this is really not as much of a problem as I would have thought, because hazelnut provides such a full flavour all on its own.
I’m pleased with this, but unlike what I had been hoping, it doesn’t fall into the sweetie-caramel-y sort of category at all. It’s quite nice on its own though. I might try and mix it with the caramel and see what happens then. I saw she also had a hazelnut and cocoa tea in her shop. I might try that one later on for comparison.
This is a tea that Sil shared with me, and I must admit I’ve been scared of it because it contains hibiscus. I can’t abide hibiscus. It tastes like blood and metal and I can’t drink anything hibiscus heavy without having my face contort itself into all sorts of grimaces. I can barely even persuade it to enter my esophagus. Therefore I was sneaky and tried this the first time in the big pot to share with Husband. That way, if I don’t like it, there’s a chance he might like it and I can foist my cup off on him. And there will also be less leaf left to worry about. On the other hand if I do like it, there’s still enough leaf left for one of my small Roy Kirkhams. Win-win, yes?
It smells like hibiscus. And because hibiscus is on my DNW list, that’s all I can smell. I’m sure there are other notes in there, but try as I might, I can only smell hibiscus.
Sil, what have you done? O.o
I’m comforted by the thought that I seem to recall having seen somewhere Stacey from Butiki admitting that she doesn’t care for hibiscus either, so that would make her a person highly unlikely to drown a tea in the stuff. I feel I can trust her to use it sparingly and discreetly. (That reminds me, I never got around to working out whether Butiki falls into my Out Of Bounds category of tea shops)
Yeah, there’s definitely hibiscus in this. pulls a face Again, for me it becomes a dominant note just for the fact that it’s there, even though I can tell that it does indeed seem to have been added very cautiously to the blend.
There’s fruit in here of some sort. I can taste it, even through the hibiscus, although I’m having difficulties recognising it. It’s the hibiscus distracting me, I think. Given the name of the blend, I’ll assume that it’s probably some sort of red berry. :)
I can also, amazingly, taste the pie crust! Whenever I’ve had any blend before where people talk about tasting crust, or pancake or pastry or what have you, I’ve always wondered if they’ve been drinking the same thing as me, because it’s always eluded me. Here it is though. It’s just… you can’t see it if you’re looking for it, but out the corner of your eye it’s very much there. I know it’s there, I can tell it’s there. But it’s hiding from me all the same. And that feels exactly as peculiar as it sounds.
All in all this tea is going quite well with the last piece of coffee and walnut gateau I made last weekend (gone a bit dry, but still totally nice)
This is the first time that I’ve had a tea containing hibiscus that wasn’t an instant dislike. It has not won me over on hibiscus-y blends though. I still think there’s a metallic blood-like tinge to this cup, even if it’s not as dominating as to forcing me to toss it. This is actually completely drinkable. It’s not even unpleasant.
This blend here is ultimate proof that other companies really are way too heavy-handed with hibiscus, treating it as filler, relying on it producing 95% of the added flavour to a tea, and that there is absolutely no reason to do so. This blend proves that hibiscus can be used for good but that it should be treated with caution. It proves that if you want a good blend with hibiscus in it, let someone who doesn’t care for it make the blend.
Has anybody tried this in a cold brew? I’m thinking it might work and contemplating using the last leaf that way. Would it be worth it to make the experiment? What do the Steepsterites think?
Of course I got some of this with my order. And of course it was a double quantity compared to all the others. Of course. Not doing that would have been like… not breathing.
The aroma is quite mild. Mostly it has a wood-y note, and I’m not noticing too much of the cocoa and grain that I otherwise associate with Fujian, but it seems to be there in very small amounts. It’s like I can sense it more than I can smell it. Or perhaps I’m just so tuned into it having to be there that I’m making it up? I don’t think so, though. I think there are trace amounts of it there.
Anyway, the important thing is the taste. Yes, aroma is very important, but it’s still only 30% of the experience. If the aroma was lacking the grain and cocoa notes, then the flavour has them in spades. Especially cocoa. It’s the primary note here, and all the wood and grain is going on underneath the cocoa.
I’m quite pleased with this. It’s my favourite ever type of tea, so it’s bound to score high on that alone (see the first paragraph of this post), but I really think that this one can rub shoulders with some of the best tan yangs out there. It lacks just a bit more body to push it towards the full 100 points, but we’re very close.
Om nom nom nom Fujian black!
I like lapsang souchong! I like it on its own and I like it in blends. What we have here is a blend with LS, Ceylon and Assam. It’s been ages since I had one of these!
The aroma is lovely smoky, but not as prickly as it usually is in a pure LS. It’s smoothed out by the other two ingredients, one of which adds a thick almost milky note to it. I suspect it’s probably a hearty malty Assam at play there.
A pure LS is, for me, a case of balance between smoke and fruity sweetness. Of course there should be some body to it as well, but it’s not the most important thing. With this sort of blend, however? This is all about the body. Here the smoke becomes just a detail. And so far, in the aroma, this tea has that down just right.
Flavour is primarily Assam. Again, the smoke is just a detail. An afterthought. This is almost more an Assam blend than it’s an LS blend. It’s Assam that I get in the flavour. Malty and hearty indeed and as I suspected responsible for that milky note in the aroma. It’s there in the flavour as well, telling me that this is one of the very few teas that I wouldn’t mind it if it was served with a little milk, because it almost tastes like it’s already there.
Then, to accentuate it all, there’s the smoke from the lapsang, but it really is quite discreet. Along with the smoke, I get the Ceylon addition to the blend. It tastes high-grown with a floral-y, grassy sort of note to it. Again, it’s just a detail.
All in all, I find this a very well-balanced blend and highly enjoyable.
I love a good Keemun and I try to always keep one around. I’ve found my perfect favourite Keemun not too long ago, but I’m not so married to it that I’m going out of my way to make sure it’s that particular Keemun that is always in the cupboard. Any Keemun is fine really. I’m loosening up in the same way with other types, I’ve noticed. I have my favourites, my most beloved, and I make sure I won’t forget where it came from when I find Perfection, but it’s only my various flavoured favourites, where I’m truly brand loyal. But the flavoured tea is a completely different beast as well.
Sil shared this particular Keemun with me, and it’s from a company that I’ve previously had some very good teas from. I remember fondly the Heritage Aijiao Oolong. Wombatgirl once sent me a whole pouch of that one as a gift. (I miss her. I wish she was still around.) I wrote a (bad) ode to that one, for crying out loud! I believe I must have a tried one or two others from that company as well. So Red Blossom is a company that immediately raises my expectations of the tea I’m about to drink.
Very pleasant aroma on this one. Lightly smoky and with grainy notes underneath. Just how I like’em. There’s a smidge of something floral to it as well, but it smells like it’s in balance with the note of smoke. I prefer that. I’ve long believed that the smoky note in some Keemuns and the floral note in others are actually the same aspect, but coming across in different ways. Seems to me that this depends on the leaf grade. Higher leaf grades are usually more floral than smoky, where lower grades are more smoky than floral. I tend to prefer sort of the lower end of the middle here.
The flavour is quite strong, and it has an initial prickly feeling of smoke with a floral character. After that it’s just completely smooth. The note of grain seems to be a tad thin though. That initial flavour is just so big, it’s like the grain can’t quite keep up with it.
As it cools a little further, however, this is adjusted as the grainy note seems to expand more, becoming thicker and smoother.
There is also quite a nutty flavour to this one, which is a new note to me. Strangely though it doesn’t feel like it’s anything new in that this tea doesn’t strike me as hugely different from other teas of its kind. It’s just that this nutty note is like something that was always there but which I’ve only just become aware of. Slightly toasted hazelnuts. It’s a very small note in all this, which is probably why I’ve never really identified it before even though I feel like I’ve been aware of it being there. Does any of this even make sense?
Anyway, as it cools a little further, I’m nearing the end of the cup here, that nutty note mellows out again and all but disappears. That supports my suspicion that it’s a note that was there in Keemuns all along, but difficult to identify. Apparently you only get a small window of ideal temperature to do it in.
Many Keemuns seem to have the ability to develop caramel-y notes, but I haven’t really found any of that in this one. Mind you I’ve never had a Keemun that went all out on the caramel yet either but I’ve had several that tasted like they could have. This one is really just the smoky/floral start, the grainy middle and the briefly nutty finish. I wouldn’t have minded a smidge of caramel in there as well.