1192 Tasting Notes
Here is another one that Sil shared with me. When asked what I would like to try, one of my requests was for some Assam or other. It’s a funny region for me. I really want to adore them, but I’m just not quite there. Nine times out of ten I’ll go for a Chinese but every once in a blue moon the Assam just strikes me as the most desirable tea on the planet.
And then I usually haven’t got any.
Lately I’ve been having some small Assam-y thoughts again, though, so it was a fairly obvious request. (Project Assam…? ponder ponder ponder )
I’m making this in the big pot to share with Husband, who opted to not have it milked. When it’s any other tea, I usually just serve it as it is, but sometimes I get confused about what he would prefer. He always drinks it without additives at home, but as soon as he sets foot on English soil he reverts to preferring his tea milked. I don’t know… maybe it’s a geography thing. (I hope he doesn’t think it’s because I won’t let him milk it… O.o )
Now, let me see. I’ve been carefully timing this, because one of the things that stops me from being all over Assam is how finicky they are. You can pretty much abuse a Chinese black from now until Christmas and it’ll still produce a drinkable cup. Sometimes rather stewed, but still drinkable. An Assam however will not put up with that sort of treatment. It will turn around and bite you back.
The aroma is quite malty, but it also has notes of raisins and honey in there. Mostly raisins. Whenever I’ve had an Assam that hasn’t been completely ruined, it seems to have always had a raisin-y aspect to a smaller or larger degree. Less so with honey.
Normally when describing something as malty, I would automatically started searching for a grain-y aspect, but I can’t really find that here. It’s more sort of wood-en for me. (And bright red, my at times weird brain supplies)’
Over it all there is a note of something that smells thick and creamy, almost… like if it had a smidge of vanilla flavouring. I’ve found that Assam generally works great for me as a base for vanilla flavouring, although peculiarly my Perfect vanilla isn’t Assam-y. Now I’m beginning to wonder if that works so well because the flavouring in those cases enhance a note which might already be there, if you know what I mean. It makes a vanilla flavoured Assam taste more natural than really flavoured. If you know what I mean.
But I digress and this tea, for the record, is not actually flavoured with anything at all.
First sip is sweet and honey-y. At the very beginning it was wood-y, but then it turned all sweet. I’m actually dithering a bit on the honey note, wondering if I think it’s more along the lines of toffee or something, but eventually I’ve come to the conclusion that I think it’s most like honey. Second sip starts me considering that question again. It’s almost like it depends on how I’ve sipped. Where on the tongue it hits first, how much I’ve been slurping, how long it takes before swallowing. At the very beginning, I think it’s like honey, but then it turns into something toffee-y and sweetie like. And I’m pretty certain it is actually the same note here. It definitely feels like the same note that changes.
So, apart from that weird sweet aspect that can’t decide what it is, we’ve got some wood-en notes to this like I found in the aroma, and they’re laying down the bottom of the flavour. It’s actually quite discreet, but it adds substance. There’s a hint of mild astringency here too, but nothing too dominating.
Now what about those raisins. peers into cup They’re in there. I know they are, because I can feel them. I just… don’t know where they are. They’re hiding from me, shouting coo-ee every now and then. I suspect the tea needs to develop a bit before I’ll find them.
The tea has cooled off a bit now, and I think we can safely say that this is one of those that only have raisin notes to a smaller degree. They’re out there a little more now all right, but nothing that makes me sit up and say ‘raisin!’. That creamy sort of milky note is very much at the forefront now and I’ve completely lost the honey/toffee/vanilla-y chameleon note. That’s a shame, because I was rather enjoying that. I liked this one best when it was very hot.
All in all, this was a highly enjoyable tea.
When Cteresa and I were planning our small swap, she suggested that I try some of this one. I had never heard about it before so I went and looked it up.
Then I made this face: O.O
And then I’m afraid I resorted to pitiful begging to pretty please with a cherry on top have a sample. Or something like that. Okay, maybe not quite that much, but I definitely wanted to try it.
I mean, caramel, vanilla and red berries? That’s like, three of my favourite things to flavour tea with! It reminds me rather of the St Petersburg blend from Kusmi, only without the bergamot. And you know what, I can totally live without bergamot. Easy. And I’m actually quite fond of St P. So what I’m expecting here is something similar but better. St P got 86 points from me on Steepster. Let’s see if we can’t beat that.
Oh my word, the aroma of this one! It smells like cherries and creamy-sweet vanilla and sugar-y sweet caramel. It’s quite heavy on the caramel too. This is liquid sweets in a cup. The berries here are cherry, strawberry and raspberry, but I can only really find the cherry in the aroma. That herry flavoured number from Fru P that I’ve got is really coming in handy here, because the cherry aroma in that one is exactly the same as in this one. Perhaps there’s a wee bit of strawberry underneath, but I can’t really be certain.
Okay, so the aroma is definitely leaving St P behind in a cloud of smoke. So far so good.
The first sip gives me juicy fruit a-plenty. It reminds me at first of a 4 Red Fruits blend, but extra sweet. Although this is only three red fruits. But who’s counting.
The vanilla and caramel are both quite subtle at this point, but the vanilla comes out more as I sip and lends a creamy note. I’m now reminded more of some kind of red berry ice cream dessert. All we need now is the caramel, but I expect it’ll show up if the cup is allowed to cool off a wee bit more. This seems to often be the nature of caramel flavoured teas. They need to be allowed to develop a little more before the flavour really comes out to play. (And no, as I’ve mentioned before, your various tricks of adding sweeteners of various sort do not work for me. It makes nothing “pop” for me. Adding stuff just breaks the tea for me.)
It’s true for this as well. A little patience before sipping further and the caramel is there in the aftertaste.
Oh yeah, this is better than St P all right! I must shop at DF som time.
I just had a small sip of Husband’s mojito. Bleurgh! Not for me at all. I don’t actually like alcohol much and don’t find it refreshing no matter how many ice cubes are involved so, I suppose I could have told myself that it would be a bad idea.
I need something to wash that down with. Sil to the rescue! This one is a green tea with peaches and vanilla and Sil shared a few bags with me. I see that she didn’t much care for it herself, which makes it easier for me to say that I’m sceptical because I don’t actually much care for peach in tea. Peach everything else? Yes. Peach in tea? Not so much. And it appears that the deal-breaker for Sil was a strong floral note, something which I don’t really care for either.
Yeah, I’m beginning to expect something pretty dire here. But hey, at least I discovered that it’s a green base before I poured boiling water on it, so that’s a good sign right? Right!
Besides, it also has vanilla in it, and we all know what I’m like with vanilla, don’t we? Also, it’s been a long time since I actually had a peach flavoured tea, so my tastes might have changed in the meantime. These things do happen, you know. (For example, I used to really like Darjeeling. Now I just don’t care for it at all.)
There is definitely loads of peach in the aroma. It’s like when taking the very first bite of a peach or nectarine, and the fruit aroma comes up through the nose. There’s something green smelling in the aroma as well, sort of along the bottom and the edges and that note has a touch of something floral to it. I can’t immediately find any vanilla in the aroma, but there’s something sweet sort of hovering around the other notes which could be it, but might also simply be a peach fruity-sweet aspect.
Yeah, the flavour definitely has vanilla in it. It’s the first thing I find. A creamy thick sort of sweetness that reminds me a little of melted ice cream. A long with that, the green base comes out in force, and I can see what Sil means about something floral behind the vanilla. That’s exactly the way I’m experiencing it too. This is one of those teas that feel like they’re layered and the floral green tea is the bottom layer with vanilla right on top of that.
The floral aspect is quite obnoxious, but not completely undrinkable I don’t think. Sil shared two satchets with me, and I’m going to try and coldbrew the other one. It’s finally the weather for it too. This is just exactly the sort of tea that I’ve had good experiences with in coldbrew.
The peach flavour is mostly going on in the aftertaste for me here, with some modest overlap between it and the vanilla. This was the note that I was feeling the most sceptical about and it turns out to not actually be so bad. In fact I feel quite ready to dip my toes cautiously into the peach-flavoured tea pool again, so perhaps my tastes in that regard really have changed.
Not awesome, but it could have been much worse. I think it’s saved by there being two notes in here that I actually like. If either the peach or vanilla, and I don’t think it matters which one, had been missing, I wouldn’t have liked this at all, I don’t think. It’s drinkable as it is, and it’s infinitely better than Husband’s alcoholic concoction.
Edited: The cold brew is actually much nicer. The peach is very much at the forefront here, and although it’s still pretty floral, it’s not quite as obnoxious. Unfortunately the vanilla seems to have got slightly lost, though. I really very much prefer it brewed this way, but that doesn’t surprise me. It’s something I’ve noticed before with these sorts of blends.
This. And a liquid diet. Day 3.
I’m SO hungry! (Doing better so may attempt solid food tonight, depending)
Sil, I hope to get to the post office today. Right now things seem stable so I might brave it. (Don’t worry, it shouldn’t be contagious. Not unless you ate the same thing I shouldn’t have eaten. I washed my hands carefully before packing anyway.)
Cteresa shared this with me in our recent swap and told me to keep an open mind about the bagginess of it. It wasn’t one of the teas we had talked about, but she added it as a bonus because it was vanilla and she knows I like vanilla. Like, a lot.
Okay, so I gave it a shot yesterday, and was surprised to find it quite nice. I was told to expect a very subtle vanilla, but it was actually clearly detectable for me. Especially on the aftertaste. I was reminded of the French Vanilla Assam that 52teas made last year (I think) which I quite enjoyed.
Because it was convenient and because Husband chose a glass of whisky over a cup of tea later in the evening, I steeped the same bag again. Just to see if I could and what would happen.
In my experience Indian black teas generally don’t resteep very well with the way I brew them, so it was a bit of a gamble. Turns out this one was no exception to that rule and it did actually produce a fairly weak tea the second time around. What was NOT weak, however, was the vanilla! There was still plenty of vanilla around and without a strong tea to accompany it, it was a very VERY vanilla-y cup indeed.
In fact, I find I’m not certain which cup was more enjoyable. They were both enjoyable, but in WILDLY different ways.
I think I’ve seen this brand around a few times when grocery shopping. I believe it would be worth it to have a look if this particular variation might be among them. It would be a good candidate to take up to my parents’ house to drink there.
(Last time I ran out up there, my mother thought she was buying a higher end kind of bag when she bought something else than her own usual brand of Pickwick or Twinings, and instead managed to get something maybe slightly better, but it was a green tea and a plain rooibos. The former is… drinkable, I suppose, but far from what I usually prefer (black) and the second is just wrong. I don’t like plain rooibos. She tried one and didn’t like it either, so I’m not sure what we’re going to do with those bags now.)
It is a well established fact that Tan Yang is my favourite ever kind of black tea. So what, you may be wondering, is your second-favourite kind of black tea, Ang? Tough question! It depends, I suppose. Sometimes I’ll say Lapsang Souchong, other times I’ll say Keemun, because those are both teas that I must own in some form or other. It doesn’t even have to be the most perfect LS or Keemun that I’ve ever found, although that would of course be preferable; there just has to be one.
If you were to ask me such a question, Bailin likely wouldn’t even make it into my thoughts before answering. However, the first time I drank the Bailin from TeaVivre, I found that it was so close in nature to the Tan Yang of Loveliness that I have reached the conclusion that they are interchangable for me. I’m not saying that they taste exactly they same and therefore it doesn’t matter which one I’ve got. What I’m saying is that they fill out the same role for me. If I want a Tan Yang and haven’t got one, I can drink Bailin instead and be happy. And vice versa. It’s the same with caramel flavoured things and toffee flavoured things. They’re not really the same thing, but they do the same thing.
Therefore, I think we must conclude that my second favourite type of black tea is Bailin. (Second favourite type of black tea that can’t be from Fujian would probably still be Keemun, though, fyi)
I’ve had two Bailins before that I can recall. The first one I had was from TeaSpring and it had a remarkable orange-y flavour to it. It was really lovely. The second one was from TeaVivre and that one didn’t seem to have that much in the way of that orange-y note. On the other hand it was a bit wild and exciting, although still a little more well-behaved than my favourite Tan Yang. Now I’m having the TeaVivre one again, choosing wild and exciting over orange-y. (Mind you, the TeaSpring one I had was yeeeeeeears ago, and the current offering might not even have that note)
The aroma is cocoa-y and grainy, and the flavour is as well. Cocoa and grain, caramel-y aftertaste, and something just a little bit sharp and citrus-y around the edges. Yes. This is still filling out the same role as Tan Yang for me, only with a little more sophistication. :)
As I already made an extensive post on this when I had the first time, I’m not really going to bother with doing it again. Just know that I’m as pleased with this now as I was then and that I still agree completely with myself, save perhaps for having noticed that touch of something orange-y, although it is very very tiny indeed and might just be my own imagination.
I got two bags of this from Fleurdelily. Drank one of them myself some months ago and Husband drank the other one recently. I don’t remember if I mentioned it before, but he bought a car recently. His first ever car. Circumstances with where we live and where his job is, this was something he had to do, although he would have preferred it had it not been necessary. Unfortunately there was no way to get from home to job with public transport without having it involve an enormous detour.
Husband hadn’t driven a car for about ten years and he had never ever driven one outside of England before, so although he took a lesson with a local driving instructor, he was still feeling a bit stressed about all the driving. (And buying of really expensive things and then just leaving them on the street and all that)
I swear there’s a point to all this to do with the tea!
All this stress let to him not sleeping very well at night. Waking up all the time and all that sort of thing. Something, and I can’t remember what, reminded me of the calming qualities of chamomile and it made me check if I still had a bag of it or not. I then gave it to him, suggesting that he could try it before bedtime and see if it made him sleep better.
For a man who has eaten corn flakes every single morning for years and can’t seem to get tired of corn flakes, he’s quite willing to try these experiments, so he drank this in the evening.
And it knocked him out cold. He slept like a baby, only without all the waking up and screaming and such.
We have now purchased a box of generic brand chamomile teabags (yeah, with this sort of stuff? I don’t care about all the snobby things. It’s purely for medicinal purposes and the generic brand cost a third, a third! of what whichever established brand it was they had cost) for the purpose of allieviating sleepless nights like those.
If if didn’t have any real effect, it was definitely a very good placebo. And in this house we are perfectly fine with placebo so long as it works. :)
So I’m notching the score up on this one, based this very good result.
Oh dear, I can feel that this is going to be a really long post. I’ll let you all know when I’m going to actually start writing about the tea, so you can skip ahead if you like.
My Teavivre order arrived! I wasn’t even expecting it yet. I’ve ordered stuff from China before, obviously, and I know it usually takes a couple of weeks to get here, but I don’t know why I hadn’t realised that it had actually been that long since I ordered.
Oh well, I’m certainly not complaining! :D I have unpacked my tea and the cats have given the box and the wrappings a very thorough sniffing. I don’t know what they kept the wrapping supplies next to in China, but whatever it is, it’s very interesting to cats.
While the wrapping was undergoing such a detailed inspection, I tried to decide which one to try first. And then I smacked my forehead because DUH! Self, don’t be an eedjit. You obviously start with the Tan Yang.
If you are wondering what’s so obvious about that, you have not been following me for long enough. Fujian produces the majority of all my very favourite black teas, and my most beloved type of all is Tan Yang. This is the type where I have been known to draw little hearts on the label. So yeah. Obvious. :)
The first time I ordered from Teavivre, I believe the company was still very young, but they had marched right into the hearts of many Steepsterites with their high quality and their sample program. For me, it was the Bailin gong fu that finally drew me in and made me place that first order. There was a contact form on the site that you could fill out if you had questions or suggestions, so I asked if they were planning on stocking a Tan Yang in the future. I can’t remember what exactly the reply was, but I think I was told that they would look into it.
Some time passed and eventually Teavivre did indeed offer a Tan Yang. Oh, how I coveted it! But unfortunately circumstances conspired against me and I didn’t feel like the time was right to buy it. We’ve been frugal, you know, what with having our wedding and then a bit later Husband having a stint with unemployedness, and now we want to start saving up so we can eventually buy a house. It’ll probably be at least a year before we’ll even consider talking to the bank, but we still have to start now.
So I sat here and watched other people drink this highly coveted tea, and then I COULD NOT TAKE IT ANY LONGER, flails AAAAAAAAARGH!!!! pant pant
I cracked and ordered. As long as I control myself I can totally save up and buy interesting tea now and then at the same time. Besides, I was getting to that point where every time I saw someone write about it, I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t bought any myself yet. You know, having suggested that they get some in their shop…
Okay, the actual drinking of the tea starts here!
The aroma is quite mild, and it’s has a bit of a honeyed caramel-ish note to it. There’s a little bit of grain underneath too. I suspect this is a more well behaved version than the (Most Highly Beloved of All) Te Ji I get from TeaSpring. But then again, that one is pretty unruly at times, so it wouldn’t be difficult to be better behaved.
Oh, so sweet! So caramel-y! There’s a bit of malt and cocoa as well, but I think it tastes mostly like sugar and caramel. I mentioned yesterday that I don’t like sugar in tea, but what I meant was that I don’t like sugar added to tea. When it is naturally occurring like this, I like it just fine. It has to do with the way added sugar changes the mouthfeel for me. Anyway, first sip gives my sugar-y caramel-y flavouring, and a summerly note of… sip sip grass?
GRASS??? o.O Well, that’s new. It’s not in overwhelming amounts, though, (like what happens with most Darjeelings for me) so it doesn’t become unpleasant.
Underneath that, and especially at the moment just before I swallow is the very important grain-y note. An awesome Fujian would only be half as awesome without that note. There is only one type of tea in which a good strong note of grain is more important, and that’s in Keemuns.
Still, like with all the notes in here, it’s fairly calm and civilized and to my surprise I find I quite enjoy that. I mean, I love that the Te Ji tastes so riotously wild sometimes, but I’m getting older and slower, and sometimes it’s better with a tea that matches.
My cup appears to have become empty… I don’t usually finish drinking before I’m finished writing. I must have needed it.
That’s it. If anybody needs me further today, I’ll be in the kitchen drawing little hearts on this label.
As you may have seen on the discussion boards, I recently missed out on a chance to taste this new-fangled sparkling tea product. Not wine, not cider, not tea, but sort of all things at once, or something. Fru P replied to my comment on the Book of Faces that if they had any left she would save some for me, but of course this was not possible.
I did take the opportunity to stock up on that awesome vanilla that they have (Sil, if you are still interested in trying it, please message me. I have loads now.) and I also bought some of her caramel flavoured black. This is another highly coveted flavour for me in tea. I love it when it occurs naturally and I love it when it’s added artificially. Unlike vanilla, though, I’ve met several caramel flavoured teas that fit my requirements exactly.
Anyway, I had to try this one as well, of course. I don’t even know how I missed it the first time I was in there. It’s not like me to not even look for it.
I had a whiff of the leaves before steeping and both that aroma and the aroma of the cup now steaming under my nose are extremely promising. It’s all sweet and butter-y caramel. There is even a smidge of something nutty to it. A sweet kind of nut, like an almond. All heavy and creamy.
The flavour, at the first sip, struck me as a bit thin and a bit… twig-y, sort of. I don’t know, I just got this image of twigs in my head. It’s not immediately delivering on the promise of the aroma.
Some would say, ‘try adding a little sugar’ or ‘try adding a little milk’, to which say a vehement no. If a tea has to have additives in order to taste right, it’s just not a good tea. Additives, for me, kills the tea. Additives are murder. In other words, I rarely actually like a tea very much after adding stuff to it, especially sugar. I can deal with milk but prefer not to have it. Sugar or other sweeteners, however… I do not understand how some of you can even get it down. So, no. I’m not tampering with the tea and nothing you say can ever convince me otherwise.
Instead I’m going to let it cool down a bit, and there it is. There is a caramel flavour there now, but it’s still not as rich as in the aroma and it’s sort of hovering under a water-y surface.
It helps a bit as it cools and develops a quite nice nutty aftertaste, but it still never gets really caramel-y. I suspect this requires some fiddling with the steeping process. So far, though, I’m not really convinced.
On completely unrelated note, this car (https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/944415_10151616377506122_932531436_n.jpg) is driving around in the town where I live. No, Steepsterites. Your eyes are not decieving you.