1323 Tasting Notes
I’m skipping the queue with this one because THE TIME HAS COME! I have opened the tin. I have sniffled it. Happy birthday to me! (I thought that would be an auspicious day to try it, don’t you?)
I should make some preliminary introductions to this one and tell why it’s so extremely special to me that I had to have it, shipping fees be damned. This tin right here was the very thing that made me order from JW at all. Everything else that I got to taste from the company was purely coincidental and taking advantage of the fact that I would be paying shipping charges anyway. I’ve been looking at the unopened tin of it for weeks now, simply just enjoying that fact that I had it. Petting it now and then and enjoying looking forward to it while waiting for the right time to taste it for the first time.
As you all know (or ought to know at this point!) I’m partial to a Chinese black, and if it comes from Fujian, it simply cannot go wrong. Fujian is my most favouritest tea growing area in the world and has been for a number of years now. My very very favourite tea is Tan Yang. It is the benchmark of fabulousness to which all other black teas must measure up. Another favourite type is Keemun, usually grown in Anhui. Life-giving and delivering a solid cup of tea every single time.
What we now have here in this tin is both a Keemun and a Tan Yang, and it is not a blend. It was grown near the Tan Yang village in Fujian, but the bushes are the Keemun variety transplanted there from Anhui. The very idea of this awesome on an epic scale!
The leaf smells both Keemun-y and Fujian-y. It has the Fujian cocoa note and the Keemun-y grain. Mind you Fujian usually also has a lot of grain in it, but I tend to find it more prominent in Keemuns. There’s something else in here that reminds me vaguely of some kind of tart berry or something. Perhaps one which has been dried. Like dried cranberry, I think, but not nearly as sweet as those are. If I take a little leaf in my hand and breathe on it before sniffing, I get a strong note that reminds me of when Husband makes beer, just at the point where he puts the hops in.
Okay that it, I can’t wait for Husband to start cooking breakfast (full English, yay!). I need to make a pot of this NOW!
After steeping it doesn’t smell so beer-y, but rather more like freshly baked rye bread. Courtney understands this note fully. I suspect Marzipan does as well. It’s grain-y and dark and also somewhat sweet. There is some of the Fujian cocoa notes there as well, but they are under the grain and so I have to really look for them.
I’ve started sipping way too soon. It’s far too hot still and I can barely taste anything. I did, however, pick up the fact that it’s a strong tea we’ve got here. It even seems to have a rather smoky note to it, which ♥♥♥♥♥
I can sip a bit more now. It’s quite cocoa-y with grainy notes underneath and a fairly large amount of smoke and then finally quite sweet on the swallow. I can definitely see the characteristics of both types in this. It’s like the best qualities of one combined with the best qualities of the other. It’s hard for me to even come up with anything to write at this point.
Mind = blown.
From the queue, written March 19th 2014
This is another from the EU TTB, round 2. This was as close as I could come with the database. If someone can shed some further light on it, let me know and I’ll move the post.
I didn’t have any black tea yesterday. At all. In fact I didn’t actually have any tea whatsoever. It was a day of Female Issues and they were particularly bothersome this month, so much so that I decided not to go to work. This proved to be wise a few hours later when certain… sacrifices… were made. Yes. I spent most of the day feeling exceedingly sorry of myself.
Therefore I declared it a day of non-caffeinated herbals. Except one, which in hindsight I suspect probably had mate in it… Oh well. I chose that one because it was called ‘Citrus’ and I rather fancied something with a fresh-ish taste.
Today, however! Today all those issues are of the past. Luckily it’s always only really the first day, so I’m back to my normal self, and therefore I’m having a black tea. And a Chinese one to boot.
Or at least, I think it’s a black tea. It’s very green-tea-ish coloured after steeping. All yellow and light… The leaf is black, though, and it smells like caramel biscuits, so perhaps this one just has an odd colour. Or it’s severely underleafed. I always find it difficult to work these out. But anyway, as mentioned, it smells like a caramel biscuit. The ones, especially, that I sometimes bake and which I’m planning on making a batch of later today as we have run out of biscuits. Do you know the cinnamon sugar biscuits that LU makes? We call them Bastogne biscuits here. They’re like that but without cinnamon. Anyway, that’s what the tea smells like.
It doesn’t taste like much, though. Oh dear, I have made this quite thin. I can see the potential in it though. I should have used twice as much leaf, probably. It seems to be quite cocoa-y and sweet and also a bit caramel-y. Is it me, obsessed with the thought of the biscuits I want to make, or does it also taste a little bit like those biscuits? It does. I think it does.
I shan’t rate it now, because I’ve only got a shadow of what it could have been here, but it’s still quite satisfying. I will rate it later when I’m more certain of where on the scale it should fall, but I expect it to be relatively high up.
After steeping the leaves are suspiciously green looking. Are we sure this is a black tea? There’s something here that strikes me as oolong-y.
From the queue
Here’s another one from the EU TTB round 2. I used half of this sample this afternoon for a cup of tea (he had something else) and a couple of biscuits on the sofa.
I have to say that while it was a fine tea, it didn’t really leave much in the way of an impression on me. I tried to guess what was in it without looking it up and only got as far as ‘orange, I think.’ Having now checked it’s actually peach and grapefruit. I suppose that now, afterwards, I can see the peach in it, but it was not something that sprang to mind while drinking. I knew there was something citrus, though.
Apart from the fruit, it mostly just tasted like a green tea. For some reason it made me think of gunpowder in spite of the fact that I haven’t had any gunpowder for a couple of years and can’t rightly recall what that tastes like. But it’s supposed to also have green rooibos in it, which I also don’t rightly know what tastes like, but I couldn’t pick anything out in the flavour where I thought that must be the rooibos.
A pleasant enough blend, but not really something mind-blowing.
From the queue
This came out of the EU TTB round 2. Cream, vanilla and roasted hazelnuts. What, I ask you, could possibly go wrong? I lurve vanilla, I’ve quite fallen for nutty blends recently, and I can imagine what the cream must add to this. I can’t actually in anyway at all imagine this not being awesome. Therefore I looked shifty and filched it. I can’t remember if I’ve had any of this before. I haven’t really been buying very much of the European blends, tending to look more towards the East and the UK.
This smells awesome! All roasty nutty! Also a lot of sweet sweet vanilla that makes the whole thing remind me of hot white chocolate. (I’ve got some powder for that from Whittards of Chelsea. It’s luxuriously awesome made up with warm milk) I can’t really detect any notes of actual tea, though, which is the only thing about the aroma which I can find fault with. I can’t smell any cream either, but I expect that more in the flavour than the aroma in general. It always surprise me when I can actually smell cream in cream-flavoured teas. In this particular one I’m also expecting it to be more a question of texture than of taste really, so I’m not too bothered about not being able to find it here.
Oh my giddy aunt, this stuff is fab! First a lot of hazelnuts, then the sweetness of the vanilla and a smidge of cream onthe swallow. I think the base tea must have some cocoa notes in it, because while it is definitely primarily a nut-flavoured tea, it all reminds me largely of chocolate. I think I’ll sum it up in one word.
As it cools a bit the flavours meld more, enhancing the nutella-y impression, and if you drink it with a sleepy cat in your lap there really isn’t much left to improve here.
I greatly enjoyed this one.
From the queue
Don’t expect a lot from this post. We were out last night for a family occasion (a wedding anniversary. Copper = 12½ years. Yes, this is a thing in this country.) and although we left early-ish, it was still nearly 1 before we got to sleep. So I’m quite tired this morning after that. In Denmark, for these things, we sit at the table for a very long time and there’s a relatively long wait between courses, so that everybody who wishes to do some sort of entertainment, speeches, songs (we sing home-made songs about the center(s) of attention. Very, very traditional) what have you, can do so. So we were at the table for some five hours or so I should think. After that, they had a band for dancing, but since none of us are dancers and such and we were tired, we decided to leave then, having reached the point of too-many-people-too-much-noise.
So a cup of something fortifying is called for and the choice falls to this LS of which I bought a large tin. Without having ever tasted it before. With LS, I trust the type itself enough that this is not necessary.
This one is quite nice but seems a little rougher than my favourite from AC Perchs. It’s got a good amount of smoke and feels a little scratchy and dry on the swallow. It doesn’t mean that it has lost the sweet fruity note, it’s just not as pronounced. As it cools, the smoke really begins to take over. I don’t think this is quite as rough as those really tarry ones, but it’s getting there.
Very nice and just what I need.
Gosh! Seems I’ve actually already done this earlier. It must have snuck back inside the yet-to-try box somehow and I never realised it until now when I wondered why the slider had pre-set itself on 91. How did it know??? O.o Looking at the two posts, I seem to have had rather different experiences with it. I blame the second post having been made the day after a long night. Not the best of times, really. I’ll let the old rating stand.
From the queue. Our guests have gone home so it’s back on track with the queue control! It was a lovely visit, and it was SO NICE in this house to be able to actually give them a room to sleep in. As opposed to before where we had to move the dining table into the lounge and put them up in the dining room, which we then had to walk through in order to get to and from our bedroom. They seemed a lot more relaxed while they were here as well, and I strongly suspect that this small detail of having an actual room with a closeable door in it and not feeling so much in everybody’s way had a great deal to do with it. Never underestimate the power of a proper guest bedroom!
I bought this one with my recent Jenier order. They have LOADS of different unflavoured black teas, and one of these days I shall have to order a boat-load of their minipacks and really get Project Africa on the road. Anyway, a minipack are fairly large and their supposedly 50g pouches has proven to weigh somewhere in the vicinity of 100g so although I definitely wanted a breakfast blend, there’s plenty to be going on with in a sample.
Both times I’ve ordered the 50g Golden Monkey pouch from them, I’ve received twice the amount of tea that I feel I’ve paid for. I’m certainly not complaining, but one of these days I’m going to have to write them and ask if they’re doing it on purpose, because I feel a bit like they’re cheating themselves.
Anyway, I knew I wanted a breakfast blend, but I thought I’d try one I hadn’t tried before, which ruled out Irish and English. Which is actually rubbish, because I’ve never tried either of those from Jenier before either, so since every company seems to blend them according to their own recipe, those are every bit as new to me as this one. I put a lot of weight in a name, apparently. On the other hand, from a Scottish company it seems an appropriate place to start.
I’m not sure what’s in this blend, exactly. They’re being quite specific both in the description and the ingredients list, but unfortunately these two just don’t entirely add up. Either way, it contains Chinese, Indian and Kenyan, and beyond that, the actual areas are more irrelevant. I love it when I’m told and I like playing Guess The Tea when I’m not, but it doesn’t hold that much relevance really.
This is a pretty awesome blend. It somehow manages to be both strong and mild at the same time. LOADS of flavour, but it sort of comes in a gentle way. It’s the difference between being cooed quietly awake or having a cup of cold water thrown into the bed with you. This blend is definitely the former.
It’s smooth, but with an underlying edge that should support milk well if one is a milker. I’m not one. Other than that, there isn’t really much to say about it. It’s not really a blend that is made so that you can sit back and analyse and meditate and what-not. It’s just the sort of thing that can give a good start to the day.
I could easily see myself upgrading to a larger pouch of this, but for the sake of fairness, I’ll probably give their English and Irish breakfasts a whirl first as well.
I suspect it’s going to be a fairly large order I make from Jenier next time I’m ordering. I’d better make sure to do it while Scotland is still in the EU! :p
From the queue. There will be a posting break of a few days now. We are having family over, and as my room becomes their bedroom I will lose access to my computer for the duration.
Another one from the EU TTB, round 2. This is one that I’ve filched.
The aroma is strange. Not strange-strange, but strange in that it is so anonymous. I’m not really picking anything up other than ‘tea’. Perhaps a smidge of sweetness, vaguely caramel-y in nature, but that’s about it. It’s a fairly generic tea aroma.
Taste-wise it’s the same story. It’s fairly mild, and I’m not getting much out of it other than a generic tea flavour. Again perhaps with a twinge of vaguely caramel-y sweetness, but not so much as to be in any way defining. As it cools a bit, the caramel-y note becomes a little more forward, but still not in any sort of big way.
It’s a pleasant and inoffensive tea, but it’s not really a revalation in a cup.
From the queue
This one is from the EU TTB, round 2. I don’t drink very much green tea, leaning mostly towards black, flavoured and unflavoured alike, but I’m trying to remember that there are other types in the world as well. Therefore I’m only using half of this to try it. There little use in taking all of it, when I might end up forgetting I have it.
The leaf smells very lovely of grapefruit, and it’s not just generic citrus and suspiciously lemon-y, it’s actual real grapefruit. The scent of the zest, rather than the flesh of the fruit, really. This is also true after steeping, although here the zestyness is softened by the aroma of the base.
This is very strongly flavoured. It tastes like eating a grapefruit, and I can’t pick up the slightest hint of the base at all. I’m a bit torn about this. I like a flavoured tea to taste like what it has been flavoured with, but I also like it to not be so strong that I can only taste flavouring. This one is definitely in the ‘all flavouring, no base’ camp. This could have been anything. From what I can tell, it could have been flavoured water. I rather like to be able to taste that I’m drinking tea, if that makes any sense.
So I’m ambivalent on this one. It tastes lovely like grapefruit, and I’m very fond of grapefruit. But it doesn’t really feel like I’m drinking tea, and this bothers me, so although it’s lovely, I’m still a bit disappointed by it.
From the queue
This is out of the EU TTB, round 2. Originally, my plan was to simply take this sample, but since there were nothing in my pile of things I wanted to only try that felt suitable for the morning, I decided to have a cup from the other pile. And that was a good thing, because I’ve put the rest of the sample back, having discovered that Cteresa actually shared a large-ish sample of it with me a couple of years ago, so it’s a known tea to me.
I still wanted to try it again, though. Partly so that I can see if I still agree with myself, but especially so that I can make it part of
This one comes from Mozambique, so it’s been grown further South than the other other African teas I’ve got on the reference map so far, and quite a long way away from the Kenyan ones. It was pretty easy to find on the map, though. At least the place that I’ve decided it came from. The description says it’s from the Zambezi region of Mozambique and near the Namuli Peaks. Having found the Peaks easily enough and starting to zoom in, I almost immediately spotted a structure that looked like tea-fields. They’re easy to recognise because they grow in wavy lines. Look at the map and zoom in, you’ll see. If it’s not from this particular set of fields, at least it should be very very close by.
The aroma has a fair few high-grown notes in them. Spicy, grassy notes that I don’t much care for, but also a fair bit of wood, which I do like.
The flavour is really quite nice. Like the Assam I had yesterday, it’s very sweet. Honeyed and malty, but whereas the Assam was largely honey, this one is mostly malt. It does still have that roughness that is typical for CTCs, and I would have rather liked to have had this with larger, orthodox leaf, because I think it could have been quite lovely.
From the queue. I think this must be the one.
Another from the EU TTB, round 2.
I’m not sure what makes this one ‘original’ as such. It’s CTC which I find a little off-putting because I have such varied experiences with it. Sometimes it’s just impossible to brew in a drinkable way. And when I say ‘drinkable’ I mean without having to use milk or sweetener or anything at all of any sort. A tea that requires repairing after brewing is just not a good tea.
I’ve ended up with something that is as black as coffee and smells strongly of honey and malt. Especially honey and also a bit like raisins. It’s that sort of slightly fuzzy feeling just around the edge of the smell that honey has. It’s quite a full-bodied scent but it also smells somewhat astringent.
This may require some experimentation, which is not something that I generally have much in the way of patience for. I’ve worked out at what leaf amount and steeping time the vast majority of black teas work for me, and anything that falls outside of that category just tends to be unnecessary work. You can’t really do that with CTC, though, because it’s so vastly different from the larger leaf sizes, and you never know how it’s going to behave. So I approach with caution.
I still always start out with the conservative approach of my accustomed parameters, though, because you have to start somewhere. And this is what has ended up with a rather astringent note to the aroma.
It isn’t actually that astringent, though. Barely at all, in fact. The flavour is very close to the aroma. It’s strongly honeyed and malty, and it leaves a honey-y aftertaste on the tongue from just one sip.
As I sip, the astringency shows up, but it’s still only very little and mostly on the aftertaste. I can, however, sense that honey-note all the way up in my sinuses, very much confirming that the sense of taste cannot exist without the sense of smell.
It’s quite a strong tea, and if you prefer to take your tea with milk, then this should carry it nicely. I prefer not to, though, so I should probably have used a wee bit less leaf, as the bitter notes build up as it cools. Not enough to be ruining the cup, mind, but enough to be noticed.
I very much enjoy all this honey. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was flavoured with the stuff.