1323 Tasting Notes
Queued post, written March 26th 2014
This is one of the two vanilla blacks that Sil gave me a sample of for Christmas in a surprise card. Wasn’t that nice of her? She spoils me, that woman does. I’m rewarding myself with it now, having conducted my first ever lemon bar experiment. It’s cooling in the tin now and smells very very promising. (If you are curious, this is the recipe I used: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/696634/lemon-bars) Of course Husband, who loves all things lemon in any way, shape or form, will now suspect I’m trying to curry favour. Especially since there are still two whole lemons left (reduced price for three lemons, needed four, so bought six) which indicates a lemon surprise pudding in his not too distant future. I shall have to convince him that I really truly haven’t actually been a bad dog at all today. Truth is, we’re almost out of biscuits and since I didn’t know what sort to bake that didn’t need a rolling pin (I must buy a new rolling pin!) I thought I’d attempt something a little alternative.
Anywho. This tea. My reward. Yes, I reward myself for having done something that is fun. That’s perfectly normal behaviour, isn’t it?
This smells very vanilla-y. Lying around in a ziplock bag probably hasn’t done it any favours, so with this sort of strength to the aroma, I suspect it might have been as strongly aromatic as the Fru P one back when it was brand new.
The flavour is not as strong as Fru P, though, although it’s clearly vanilla-y. The base strikes me as quite tannin-y, so that makes a big difference. At first I thought that this one was assam. It has that malty, cardboard-y feel to it and a great deal of raisin notes.
I’ve always felt that assam works wonderfully as a vanilla flavoured base, so I’m very much in favour of this. I think actually that it’s that raisin note that makes it work so well for me. It makes it more… cake-y. As it turns out this base was actually a ceylon, and now I’m wondering where abouts on Sri Lanka it was grown to make it so assam-y. I don’t know what base Fru P uses (I’d be surprised if she knows it), but it’s definitely not this one.
I enjoy the assam-y notes of this base. I can close my eyes and pretend it is assam, and I like the balance between base and flavouring.
Queued post, written March 26th 2014
I found myself really wanting something black and raspberry flavoured, so I went rummaging through the ENORMOUS AMOUNTS of teas I haven’t tried yet. It’s got way out of hand. I’ve decided I’m not allowed to get new stuff until I’ve produced posts about a significant amount of them. Preferably all.
I didn’t have anything that was definitely raspberry black. I’ve got some raspberry herbals, but that’s not what I’m after. I want black. There are a great many number of blends with names that tell me nothing about what’s in them, and it’s very possible that some of those are raspberry-y, but I didn’t want to go and look up a hundred samples only to find none of them had raspberry. I remembered this one, however, that Anna shared with me, and I could remember that the name means forest fruits from when I had received it and looked it up. I decided that it was the closest thing I got to a raspberry black and went with it.
I have to say it smells more blackberry-y than raspberry-y, but that’s okay. I think it’ll satisfy this sudden raspberry lust just as well. I don’t often get these very specific ideas of what I want very often. Usually it’s just in the realm of ‘I fancy something flavoured, what have we got…?’
Oh yes, this shall do nicely. Again, it’s more blackberry-y and black currant-y than raspberry-y, but it’s close enough. It’s quite sweet and not too forcefully flavoured. Still tastes like tea, tea being the dominant flavour. That is the balance I prefer in flavoured teas. Flavoured, but not too much so. I’m enjoying this very much.
(Not surprisingly, and confirming the hypothesis we’ve made of being taste opposites rather than taste twins when it comes to black teas, Anna didn’t much care for this one. I’ve started to take a mediocre rating from Anna as a sign that I might be interested.)
Queued post, written March 26th 2014
Once upon a time someone shared a large pouch of a Harney & Sons Kenya with me. I can’t remember which estate that was, but I believe it could very well have been Milima. It was proper leaf, not CTC, like this one is and it was right nommy. The name Milima rings a bell.
Finding it on the map was devilishly difficult. It’s one of the cluster of tea estates in the Kericho district, and if you look on google maps and soom in on that area, there is a very large bright green area with a label on it that simply says ‘tea farms’, and then only one or two of the estates are labeled. I’ve put a marker on one that I haven’t even had any tea from, just in case I get some later. It’ll be easier to find then. According to some sources on Google, the Milima estate was originally name Marinyn. In other places, however, it sounds like they are two separate estates. Some webshops even talk of a blend of Milima and Marinyn, so my thought is that perhaps Milima bought out Marinyn and brought it all under one name? It’s possible. I saw one place however that mentioned that it was manufactured at the Saosa factory, and that I could find on the map, so that’s where I put the marker.
I saw many references to ‘clonal bushes’ and one that stated it was Assam, so I’m thinking we’re probably dealing with an Assam variety here. This also explains how it can be high-grown without getting that particularly high-grown quality that I dislike in Darjeelings, Nepal and high-grown Ceylon and the like.
This one seems quite well balanced between a touch of tannin and a soft, warm but also quite strong flavour. It’s somehow tannin-y and smooth at the same time. I tend to think of the African teas as leaning more towards an Indian ideal, but this one strikes me as Chinese-esque, Assam variety aside. I believe it’s likely to do with that very same smoothness, and also the fact that it’s got a fairly good note of grain and even a certain floral aspect. I think it’s related to the way that a Keemun can have a floral flavour. In some Keemuns that note comes off to me as floral and in others as smoky. I’ve long suspected that it might have something to do with the quality of the leaf, and I’ve noticed in myself to prefer the slightly lower quality Keemun. More oomph, more smoke, less dainty.
This Kenya, albeit with a floral note, is definitely in the oomph category. It’s quite good to start the morning with.
Reference map: https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211803378882467968316.0004dd9c2591ff5d7d6bf&msa=0&ll=-0.60973,35.675354&spn=2.504542,3.007507 (I apologise for the unwieldy link. Google wouldn’t give me a shorter one)
Queued, written March 24th 2014. And RE the woes of tea provided by work, I have learned since that if I take a bag of English Breakfast and a bag of something fruity (I favour black currant) and steep them together, they make up for each others’ short-comings and produce something which, although still not even within sight of ‘lovely,’ is at least fairly easily drinkable.
I had the sort of day today where, when I came home, I showed Husband the last dregs of a to-go coffee and a half eaten cake and said, ‘this is my lunch today.’ CRAAAAAZY busy! Luckily, or unluckily whichever way you look at it, I was right on the other side of the door from the coffee-vending machine at work, so although I never got to have either of my breaks, I still had tea.
The hot water coming out of that thing isn’t actually very hot. No more than 70°C or so, I expect. The selection of teabags is cheap Pickwick. I didn’t really care, though. It was that or nothing, as I didn’t have time to go and make some in the thermos. I tried the orange flavoured one, which tasted strongly of orange, but in the way that a borderline mouldy orange smells, and a strawberry flavoured one, which I used to love as a child but now struck me as uncommonly sweet and not very strawberry-y. It probably didn’t help either that both bags were steeped to kingdom come in order to get anything out of the leaf in such cold water with a side-effect of a fair amount of astringency. They both tasted horrible, but as I discussed with someone recently, as an act of desperation, it’s fine. Those two cups in fairly quick succession took care of my thirst and kept my slight caffeine-deprived/stress-induced headache at bay. (For this alone, those two bags would probably have been worth at least 95 points on the enjoyment scale!)
I’m home now, though, and I want some proper tea. Therefore I chose this one. I seem to be getting a little interested in Assam these days. Not hugely, but a bit. I bought this one with my recent TP order. Just the one sample. Not hugely interested. Just a bit. :)
The leaf smells lovely. A bit spicy and a bit tobacco-y and a lot raisin-y. I’ve noticed that in Assams before. The best cups of Assam I’ve ever had in my life were all heavily raisin-y in flavour. After steeping it doesn’t smell that much like raisins though, which is a little bit of a disappointment. The aroma isn’t actually superstrong in this cup, but I am getting some malty notes and something kind of dairy-like. There’s a cream-ish quality to this, even though no additives have been put in there.
It has a very sweet and honey-like flavour, which made me nod in a sort of satisfied way. I quite enjoy that honey-y note. I’ve noticed it before in breakfast blends, but I seem to forget that Assam can create that note as well. It’s not actually all about the raisins.
I’m getting that Assam cardboard-y aftertaste, but there isn’t really very much of that. It’s mostly the honey note right at first, paired with something a bit malty and sort of wood-y, and then a mild paper-y aftertaste.
After a few sips, a slight and pleasant astringency appears, and it becomes clear that this is actually a rather stronger tea than immediately believed. This is good, because that is exactly what I need. If I was an additive-adding kinda gal, this is the note that would have carried the milk, I expect. At this point they honey-sweet note has also transformed a bit, becoming more malty and borderline raisin-y. It’s getting there, but it isn’t actually raisin.
This is a lovely tea, and exactly what I needed at this point in time.
From the queue, written March 23rd 2014
Another from the EU TTB, round 2. A handy satchet with a fairly uncomplicated flavouring. That sounds like just the thing for me right now. I’m not sure if I’ve had Adagio’s cranberry flavoured black before, but I quite like cranberry. I just don’t seem to have it very often, with the exception of the Late Summer Blend from AC Perchs, which is vanilla and cranberry and which I am highly partial to.
It smells lovely. All berry-y and RED and juicy and sweet and fruity. I can detect the black base underneath, but not anything in particular about it. That’s okay. So long as I can tell that there is a tea there, I’m okay with it. Flavouring should never be stronger than one can still tell that one is drinking tea and not hot juice. I’m also reminded of the raspberry oolong that AC Perchs have which I loved dearly for years but haven’t had in a long time now. I just sort of reached the point where I didn’t find it any less nommy at all, I just felt… finished with it. For a while at least. I rather think I’ll be reacquainting myself with it again some time.
Anyway, this one is neither raspberry nor oolong, and it’s not from ACP either. But it smells lovely.
I tastes nice too. Cranberry is a slightly astringent flavour and I’m getting that here as well. Just a little bit, but not in the same way that a tea which has been brewed carelessly becomes astringent from unhappiness. It’s cranberry astringency. It’s rather difficult to explain. Just accept my word for it. It’s astringent, but it’s berry-astringent which is not the same thing as tea-astringent. Same sort of mouth-reaction, but feels different.
The flavouring is fairly strong and it feels quite juicy to swallow. Again, as in the aroma, the base is coming through as a sort of ‘default tea’ flavour to it all, so that I know what I’m drinking, but there’s nothing spectacular about it. I’ve seen plenty of people on Steepster write that Adagio’s flavoured teas didn’t really work for them, because they didn’t like the base. I don’t mind the base in these. It’s too anonymous for me to have an opinion either way.
This is not a tea that one sits down and deciphers. It’s something one drinks while logging on to Steam one late afternoon and debates with oneself whether to play Terraria or give that Aquaria game a second try.
Which is what I shall now do. (Any Steepsterites on Steam, do feel free to look me up if you like. Name to search for is Angrboda and I have the same icon as here, so you can’t miss me.)
From the queue, written March 23rd 2014
This came from the EU TTB, round 2. I’ve never had this flavour in… anything before, so I definitely wanted to try it. I’ve had elderflower, I believe, but not champagne. Certainly not together. I greatly enjoy elderflower cordial, so it was a natural pick for me.
It smells like rooibos and elderflowers. It’s quite a sweet smell and reminds me strongly of aforementioned cordial. Or rather, if one had steeped dried elderflowers in some straight rooibos. Equal parts elderflower and rooibos here. I’m not really getting much in the way of champagne, except perhaps a slight sour-fresh twinge here and there. Nothing that really screams bubbly, though. My primary thought is that this is a good thing.
The flavouring seems quite subtle. It’s closer to unflavoured than flavoured if you see what I mean, but it’s not unpleasant. Unpleasant as in I don’t really care for unflavoured rooibos. As it cools a bit, the elderflower and champagne flavouring comes out more, but it still strikes me as somewhat subtle. Unlike in the aroma, it’s the champagne that dominates and the elderflower that takes the background.
I have to say I was expecting more from this. I’m a slightly disappointed, but again, it’s not actually boring and it’s definitely not unpleasant. It’s just… not what I imagined.
From the queue, written March 23rd 2014
I bought this from Jenier with my recent order. There isn’t really very much to say about it. It’s an LS. It’s smoky. It’s got that fruity sweetness as well. The balance between smoke and sweet is leaning somewhat towards the smoke on this one, but without becoming too tarry.
It’s lovely (by definition), but not my favourite. A little off-balance for me.
I’ve reached the point with LS where I know them like the back of my hand, and have found myself running out of new and interesting things to say about it.
From the queue, written March 21st 2014
This is from the EU TTB, round 2.
Once upon a time, I had a green-type oolong with lemon flavouring. I decided then that this was a right nommy tea and that lemon and greenish oolongs were flavours that were very suited for each other indeed. Like I think orange and puerh is. Or rooibos and nuts.
Now, in the TTB I saw this, also a green-type oolong, and I reckon that pineapple, it being a tart, fresh flavour, must have the same sort of excellent matchability with oolong that lemon does.
So why does my cup now smell strongly of coconut? If I sit and quietly breathe into the cup for a while I’m getting lots of sharp pineapple as well, but on the surface it’s totally coconut-y. I don’t know what I think of this. I don’t know if it’s the pineapple which at first sniff gives off a coconut-y vibe or if I suspect coconut flavouring has also been added to this in some way. I think I’m mostly leaning towards the former. After all pineapple and coconut are things that often occur together in foods, so one could easily bring associations to the other.
I can also, to my delight, actually smell oolong in this! I had a Lupicia tea recently with grapefruit on, I believe, a green base, where I was a little sad that I couldn’t detect any tea in it at all. I don’t think I’m going to have that problem here. It has that very typical green oolong aroma, which is leafy, a bit floral and with some twinges of earthiness and wood to it.
It tastes primarily like coconut too. If I hadn’t been told what it was, I would have guessed coconut flavoured oolong. There’s a smidge of pineapple-y notes in the aftertaste, but I really do feel like it’s mostly just coconut. It’s a pleasant tea, but rather disappointing, because it’s not supposed to be coconut. I’m feeling a little pineapple-deprived.
Still, though, as I expected, I can actually taste the oolong, so that bit makes me happy. Again, it’s a sort of default green-type oolong here, and a not too floral one which is even better.
As it cools the pineapple becomes a little more apparent, but it’s still very coconut-y. At this point you cannot convince me that there is no coconut-flavouring added to this. Why did they do that?
I like this a lot. I think I would have liked it better had it actually done what it says on the box.
From the queue, written March 20th 2014
This one came from my second Tea Palace order. The first order was primarily flavoured things, where as this one was only straight blacks. I didn’t really have much in the way of straight black so a Tea Palace order and a Jenier order (and a Bad Dog! moment which is in shipping limbo still) made up for that.
I got me a large supply of this one. One of the things I found myself sorely missing was a proper Keemun, you see. I know, I’ve got that supermarket-y one which is fine, really, but it’s not a proper Keemun. It’s only a blend. I wanted a real unblended Keemun where all the leaf actually came from China.
Just giving the dry leaf a sniff made me go “Aaaah!”. They’ve got that awesome China aroma, smelling like grain and pine trees and a little bit like smoke. After steeping it smells like that as well, but with a goodly addition of caramel. Ooooh yes. I still remember that Keemun that Andrews and Dunham had in their first or second series. The one which, when brewed just so, could go all caramel-y. I only had a few samples of it, and never managed to achieve that, but it has ever since been my ambition to rediscover that phenomenon. I came close with the A&D, but never quite there. I can’t remember what it was called. It had a punny name.
The strong note of caramel in the aroma here… Yeah, it reminds me of that one.
Oooh this one is quite strong on the smoky note! I loves me some of that. And underneath the smoke, nearly as smoky as a mild Lapsang Souchong, there is sweetness. I’m not sure it’s caramel-y sweetness as such, but it’s leaning in that general direction. Grainy and a little bit melted sugar-y. With some experimentation, I might be able to play a little with that. I shall report back if I am succesful.
It’s not a smooth tea, this one. The amount of smoke takes care of that. But that’s alright. I’ve never understood it when people classify Keemun as a mild tea. The best Keemuns for me are strong things with loads of body and a dark, full flavour. There’s nothing at all ‘mild’ about that. I suppose in comparison with an Assam, it would be milder, but it’s not mild. Far from it.
Oh, this is good stuff!
From the queue, written March 19th 2014
Another from the EU TTB, round 2. It’s been ages since I’ve last had a genmaicha and I can’t rightly recall what I think of them. I had a genmaicha phase shortly after having it for the first time ever, but then went off it. What better way to re-introduce myself than by having some of this one that KittyLovesTea made herself?
If I recall correctly, it was made from some sort of ‘blend your own’ kit, and Kitty added some houjicha to hers, making it more toasty-roasty.
It certainly smells toasty-roasty while it steeps, almost to the point of slightly burnt, and I find myself quite looking forward to tasting it. When poured off the leaves it’s a milder aroma, though, and the green tea itself comes through. It smells both strong and mellow at the same time.
Oh, it’s very toasty-roasty! And as I thought, also quite strong. No mild little delicate green here. It tastes to me closer to something related to a roasted oolong than to green tea, and I quite like that. I don’t really drink very much green tea at all, partial as I am to the darker end of the spectrum. This is grainy and roasty and very nice.
Well blended, Kitty!