1255 Tasting Notes
Oooooh am I ever a sucker for things with words like toffee in them! And when it also has vanilla in it, I’m just about ready to swoon before I’ve even got the leaf in hand.
This was my first order from Tea Palace and it came about via a swap with Scheherazade who introduced me to the company and made me aware that it was well within my reach. I’m so glad that happened because they have a large selection and I spent a lot of money. Everything I bought, I received in tins. Six samples (of 40g each!) in their own little tins with Tea Palace logo on the tin and the lid and a removable sticker with the name of the tea. And when I say removable I mean removable. Not those irritating paper stickers that come off in bits and leave a lot of glue behind (although I have recently been told of a tip to remove those effectively by warming them up with a hair dryer to soften the glue. Haven’t tested it yet). Also three other things that I got in 100g tins. You could get either a tin with a bag in it or just the refill bag, but the option with the tin was only a couple of pounds more, so I opted for the tin. I’m glad I did! I really like these tins, they’re very attractive. And the Queen of Berries blend is in a specially designed tin with green leaves and red berries on it. On the whole I’m getting a rather luxurious vibe from this which I find entirely in line with the name of the company.
I’m very impressed and I haven’t even tasted any of them yet (except the one that Scheherazade shared with me previously). Seriously, it’s been a long time since I’ve received a parcel and immediately gone WOW! at the presentation of the product. It made my day! I’m really looking forward to trying some of these on my own and with Husband.
So, first up is vanilla toffee treat. Basically I just got some of just about every vanilla-y black tea that I came across on the site, really. The only reason I didn’t do the same with every caramel one I could find was that the smooth caramel was sold out. That is to say, I think it was at the time when I ordered it because otherwise I can’t think what held me back. So either it was sold out or I wasn’t looking properly. Whichever one you think is more likely.
This particular one is a tea that I’m hoping will give me the same sort of experience that I got with the toffee flavoured black from Les Palais des Thes, which was something along the line of drinking liquid fudge. It was so awesome. Aroma-wise this one definitely delivers on that front again. It smells like a sweetie shop of caramel and vanilla and sugar. The smell alone is worth at least 95 points here!
To my delight I can actually find the base blend here. There’s Ceylon in it which I think is why I can find it. I’ve had a fair bit of high-grown Ceylon lately. There are some grassy hints here so a fairly high-grown one too, I think. The rest of the base is an unspecified Chinese black, and I’ve found that whenever a flavoured tea uses a Chinese base, then I can never really work out what I think it is. I would dearly love to one day be allowed to taste such a base blend on its own as a sort of control. (Or is that a work-related wish, when we have positive controls along side a large amount of patient specimins to ensure a correct procedure?)
The flavouring strikes me as rather subtle. It’s not a mouthful of toffee and vanilla which judging by the aroma I must admit I had rather been hoping. It is there, though, especially as it cools, but it sort of hovers above the flavour of the base and it feels like it never really unfolds properly.
If you are a person who likes sweetener in your tea then it’s possible that you can coerce it a bit, but I’m a person who strongly dislikes sweetener (apart, obviously, from the flavouring) so I’m not going to attempt any such thing. I don’t like the way the sweetener interacts with the tea. For me it only enhances astringency.
As it cools a little more it develops a rather nutty sort of flavour which I’m also quite enjoying, but it loses more and more of the caramel-y and vanilla-y notes, so that’s a bit of a shame.
All in all, though, I’m quite pleased with this and will greatly enjoy emptying the tin, even though the flavour couldn’t quite live up to the aroma.
Here’s another one from the EU Travelling Teabox. This is a Take. I’ve been very much looking forward to tasting it. And also a little nervous. I very much fear I’m in for disappointment.
Rhubarb and custard? That’s a pretty classic mix! All we need here is some crumble and you’ve got one of my favourite desserts. Husband’s mum makes a better one than I do, although mind you, I’ve only ever made one. My crumble repertoire is far more apple-y than rhubarb-y. (I should make one soon. I find myself craving custard all of a sudden. I have to make my own custard from scratch though, since the proper stuff (Bird’s custard powder) is not available in Denmark. It’s not that hard to make custard, though. It’s just really boring because you have to heat it somewhat slowly and you can’t turn your back on the saucepan very much)
The first thing I notice is that this smells 95% like custard, 4% like rhubarb and only 1% like rooibos. As Husband so eloquently put it, “Bloody hell! How can you have a rooibos that smells like custard?” I cannot answer that question for him, but I can counter with one of my own,
How can something that smells SO MUCH like custard taste so little like it?
I have to admit there is a niggle of disappointment here, but this may entirely be due to the fact that I’ve really been working myself up for the custard at this point.
It’s not completely devoid of custard flavour, actually. It’s definitely there, the custard. When you sip, you first get some rooibos and some rhubarb flavour, more or less in equal measure. The rooibos and the rhubarb actually go very well together. It seems to be one of those universally eminent matches, like vanilla and assam or orange and puerh. The rooibos notes seem to really enhance the rhubarb notes and make it taste all juicy. The custard is there as a supplement, dotting the i, so to speak. The rooibos and rhubarb amalgamate seems to be sort of surrounded by sweet vanilla-y milk-y custard-y nuances, which is exactly like custard on a crumble should be like.
It’s easy, with custard, to succumb to greed and drown your dessert completely in the stuff, but I’ve found that it’s actually best if you manage to exert a bit of control over the custard compulsion so that you actually do end up having crumble with custard on it rather than custard with crumble in it. At the moment of pouring the custard this fact seems to be in direct defiance with logic, but it really is true!
And this is exactly what this blend has magically achieved. This is just fantastic. (And if I don’t get some real custard real soon I shall surely whither away entirely.)
From the poor neglectede queue! I’d just nearly learned the habit of keeping and posting from the queue regularly, and then Christmas and moving happened. So it’s time to get back in the swing!
Here’s another one out of the EU Travelling Teabox. It took a little detective work to find out what exactly it was, but I asked Google and eventually learned that this is a Sri Lankan black from the Uva district, Saint James being the name of the tea estate/factory. At least I found a tea factory by the name of Saint James in Sri Lanka so I’m going to assume it’s the same place.
If I am correct in my aforementioned assumption then this is a high grown tea, which fits well with the very floral aroma of it. The more high grown a tea is, the more floral it will smell/taste in my experience. There is also a malty and slightly woody note underneath the floral aspect, but it feels like it really is struggling to get through all the floralness.
The first sip reminded me strongly of something but it was so fleeting that I can’t put my finger on what that something was at all. I think it was some sort of food. It was there again on the second sip, but less fleeting and I know what it was now. Persimmons. I’ve never tasted that in a tea before, but that’s exactly what it reminded me of. Possibly because I bought some last week and have been enjoying them. It’s been a long time since I last had persimmons, so I’m extra-aware of their flavour right now. There are other fruits involved here. I’m thinking mainly of things like grapes and possibly plums, but for me it’s large just persimmons.
When I first saw that this was a high grown tea I was instantly worried about the floral aspect, especially what with how floral the aroma was, but I needed not fear. The floral notes, while very much present, are actually quite controlled and there’s no hint of that slightly sour grassy note that I also tend to associate somewhat with high grown. Darjeeling tend to have that note in spades, and I’ve noticed it in many of the high grown Ceylons I’ve tried as well. This makes me wonder if this particular tea is actually closer to mid-elevation than I thought. In my book it would only be a plus if it were.
I found a small amount of malt and sort of brown sugar-y notes at the very bottom of it, but they were really not coming through much at all, so it was mostly the fruity notes with a highlight of floral for me.
This is actually a pretty good tea, and I hope whoever tries it next will enjoy it as well. I will let it remain a ‘try’ rather than a ‘take’, though. Unless I find it difficult to control myself when adding things from my shelves to the box. I was considering earlier what I could put in and it became clear that I would have to either take some more things out of the box or resist sharing some of my things. As I would prefer to share… I shall have to drink some more ‘tries’. :)
(Husband says it reminds him of tomato soup… I don’t know, guys. I really don’t know.)
First cup of tea in MY HOUSE! We moved into OUR HOUSE! yesterday and I had a cup of this with my mother while the menfolk did all the schlepping. Our task was mostly to unpack what could be unpacked (really just the kitchen and the bathroom), heat lunch in the oven (a rooty lasagna), keep the cats calm and generally stay out from underfoot. OUR HOUSE! is all-over chaos with chaos on at the moment. Boxes and stuff everywhere, but we have the internet and our computers up and running, so chaos is not likely to be going down very quickly. Emptied the rest out of our old place today and cleaned it, so we’re both quite tired. Am now having some ice cream, before we’ll be going to bed for our second night in OUR HOUSE!
At least tomorrow we can go to work and relax. ;)
Merry belated, Steepsterites!
We had English Christmas this year which involved roast turkey dinner, Christmas pudding (Americans, what do you traditionally eat for your Christmas dinner?), lots of presents, Morris dancing in a pub carpark in the village and a pantomime in Ipswich during which I even took part in the shouting and booing (Oh yes I did!), and my bestest best present this year was a Kindle Paperwhite which I’ve been playing with today. I’m still at the stage of learning how to use it, but I have discovered that I can charge the battery using my phone charger and how to download classics for free from Project Gutenberg. And in case anybody was wondering, we were nowhere near any of the flooded areas and had power the entire time.
Before Christmas, however, I received a very sweet Christmas card from Sil who had decided to spoil me with a couple of samples of vanilla flavoured black tea. This is one of them.
It smells very sweet and vanilla-y, but also, I think, a little caramel-y. There is also an aroma as if it has a very powerful base or possibly a slightly smoky base, but I think that might be something to do with what I’ve had in this mug earlier today, so I don’t think it really belongs. (Mind you, it does smell rather like a sort of base that would be lovely with some added flavouring.)
Upon sipping… regards cup suspiciously it does actually seem to have a rather strong base. It tastes very Black Tea. All grain-y and full bodied. It’s a bit Assam-y and the vanilla is also coming out in the same sort of way that it often does on an Assam base, so if this is not Assam, I think it might be something fairly similar. And yes, I know I mentioned something earlier about having had something in this mug earlier this afternoon that may have ‘bled’ aromas into this cup, but I don’t think this experience has anything to do with that previous cup. That one was nothing like any sort of Assam at all, you see.
Anyway it strikes me as something along the lines of a vanilla-flavoured Assam, and I think Assam makes a really good vanilla base and provides a generally good experience. I’m very pleased with this tea.
Oh look, it’s the first unflavoured tea that I’ve seen in this calendar so far! It’s morning, we’re going to England tomorrow, what could be more suitable, then, than English Breakfast? I can’t remember the last time I had a breakfast blend…
There is a very strong Darjeeling-y aroma to this. It smells very VERY much like Darjeeling. heavy sigh It smells rather astringent as well, which is annoying because I used a timer and it’s not even ctc leaf. Underneath all that I’m vaguely detecting something darker which makes me think Assam-y thoughts, but I can’t be certain because of all the Darj. I hope it’s just my nose playing tricks on me.
ACK! Horribly! Bitter! What the h…??? I used a timer! My coughy throat is definitely not liking this, it’s undrinkable. I’m going to make a new cup and set the timer for even less. (2 minutes on a small pot! That has never been too much before with non-ctc! Mind boggles.)
Oh wait. Rinsing out the pot, there’s an awful lot of leaf in there. I must have accidentally added leaf twice. No wonder it turned out so horrid, then. That explains a lot. And my timer-use should be fine. phew!
Right, here we are! Fresh cup. It still smells a bit Darjeeling-y, but Darj-Gone-Wrong isn’t the overpowering note here. I should point out that when I say something smells like Darj it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily in there. It doesn’t even mean that I think it’s in there at this point. It just has some notes in it that reminds me of what I dislike about Darj. Really it could be any high-grown tea. They all do that for me, but I’ve just learned to recognise it as ‘Darj-y’. Mind you, in an English Breakfast blend the inclusion of Darjeeling is not at all unlikely.
Unlike before, when Assam-y notes were just vaguely there in the background, it smells primarily Assam-y now. Thick and malty with a bit of honey and wood to it as well.
Flavourwise, it now seems a bit on the thin side. eyes cup Since when did breakfast blends turn into rocket science??? This is why I prefer Chinese black! I never have these problems with Chinese blacks! I was hoping it was just because it was still too hot to drink, but the problem persists after a bit of cooling. It’s as if there’s a note missing right in the middle and it has been replaced by hot water. This means it doesn’t actually taste like very much.
Highly disappointing, considering how much it smells like Assam, and Assam is not exactly a delicate tea. I really can’t describe what little flavour there is there. It’s just coming across as vaguely tea-like with a Darj-y aftertaste, a bit sour and grassy.
I suppose it’s drinkable, but absolutely nothing to write home about. And immensely disappointing. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought this was out of your average cheapster quality teabag, probably one that had been marked down due to approaching the last sell-by date.
I think in the future this blend will be beefed up by what other good black teas I can find on my shelf. In this form, however… No. Just, no.
December 15th, I think.
Yeah, I’ve given up on following any sort of system here. A cold which is causing me to cough rather a lot and consume my own weight in licorice root tea and lozenges is rather a lot of interference in any sort of Christmas calendar system. Not to mention the fact that we’ll be going to England as well, so it was actually doomed from the beginning. I now have four untried teas from the thing waiting on my desk and a fifth in my cup.
Which is this one. And this is exactly what it says on the bag. Just citrus. Could be anything. It looks like a herbal and it has a lot of lemongrass, so I’ve decided it’s another herbal. So far half the teas in the Christmas calendar have been herbals, which I have to say I’m finding a little disappointing. I mean, I know I’ve been rather interested in herbals lately, but that’s not why I bought the plocking Christmas calendar!
Anyway, this one. I suspect we have to do with a mate, here. There are tiny green leaf bits in between the lemon grass that look kind of mate-y and there’s a funny not-quite-smoky aroma to it as well. I think it’s a mate base.
It mostly tastes like lemon grass, though, and with a sort of roasted kind of note underneath and minty aftertaste. Yes, the evidence is definitely pointing towards a mate base.
It’s nice enough, but honestly nothing very exciting.
Let me preface this by saying that these days when I post on Steepster it is almost always a backlog. Rather than going through spurts of posting a lost and periods of not feeling like writing about tea, I’ve taken to writing all my posts in a Libre Office file and copy/paste them from there, adding a personal note of general update if and when necessary. I’m trying to space them out more or less equally so as to keep up a relatively constant level of activity on the site. Therefore, by the time you actually read this, the box is well on its way through the remainder of the list.
This is the first tea I’m trying out of the EU travelling teabox, the first teabox I’ve even considered participating in since… well, yeah, some of you remember the very first teabox we had on Steepster which was fun to organise but there were some other PITA things about it that rather burned me out on travelling teaboxes in general. I did this one because it was local (ish. Bear with me and my inaccurate use of the word ‘local’ here. You know what I mean), a small chain and not me organising. Furthermore it has emphasis on things that for the most part I can actually buy myself, so I’m treating it as away of introducing myself to things that I didn’t know were available to me.
I’ve taken a fair selection out of it so far for keeps and am going to see if I can try a few of the
others before sending on. This is one that I’m just trying.
It has those little candy hearts in the leaf and it smells rather sweet. I’m wondering if what I’m actually going to get is a cup of pre-sweetened tea which is not a happy prospect for someone who doesn’t like sweetened tea at all. It also smells vaguely citrus-y and a little creamy, and it reminds me a great deal of oranges.
This definitely has some citrus in it, because it tastes a bit like orange. No, not orange, really, more like orange blossoms. It also tastes a fair bit of milk, strangely, which leads me to wonder what those little hearts were actually made of. It’s not as sugar-y sweet as I had feared at all.
I can’t really pick much up about the base of it. It’s all hidden in a cloud of milky fatness.
This will stay quite firmly a ‘try’ and not a ‘take’. I find it a little boring and uninspiring.
This coughing, it’s getting old. And my Christmas calendar posting system has gone completely out of whack. The 13th is a chai blend which I haven’t even got around to trying yet. Fail. And the post about the 14th is also a day late.
Anyway. December 14th.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen this combination before. I’ve discovered that for me rooibos is best when it’s fruit-flavoured so I had a hard time imagining what a nut-flavoured one would be like. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a rooibos flavoured with any sort of nut before. I’m sure they exist, but I’ve never had one. I do have an almond flavoured black tea which is quite nice, so I was never completely worried about this one. In fact, I was rather curious.
Therefore, it was my Before Bed Beverage last night (see, at least I drank it on the correct date!). I tried to make sure to pay attention to what it was like so I could write it down but I must say I failed somewhat in that department.
It had a wonderful aroma. Very marcipan-like indeed. I think the scent of the rooibos actually enhanced the whole marcipan idea in it, because it seems so close.
The flavour wasn’t as overwhelmingly sweet as one could fear from such an aroma, but actually on a well-balanced level of nutty. I found that the nutty flavour actually went really well with the rooibos because it didn’t just temper the flavour notes of plain rooibos that I don’t like. It seemed to cover them entirely with nut and take them out of the equation.
So a rooibos which has had all the unpleasant notes stripped out and replaced with lovely almonds? Yes indeed.
I thought this one was wonderful. I could easily see myself buying more of that (once we get the choice of Before Bed Beverage Blends whittled down somewhat. I’m suddenly finding myself with loads. How did that happen…?)