1281 Tasting Notes
I should point out that this post is from the queue, if you can’t work that out based on the references to NaNoWriMo, which takes place in November. This should also give you an idea of exactly HOW LONG the queue is.
This is WAAAAAY old! It’s actually the last tea from last year’s advent calendar. Not even the reblend that goes up for sale afterwards. The actual little envelope from the actual calendar. It’s been languishing for ages here in the box because I was under the mistaken impression that it was a green base, and I’ve just rarely felt like a green tea at all.
And then of course it started getting really old and I got a bit embarrased that I still hadn’t got around to it yet, so…
This is me, owning up. I still have this sample from the advent calendar of 2012.
Well, actually I don’t have it anymore as I’ve, at the time of posting this, drunk it. You know what I mean though.
I’ve been on holiday this week, but Husband haven’t. I always take a week’s holiday in November. Originally it was for the sake of NaNoWriMo, but I haven’t really been doing that this year. I didn’t really feel like it and didn’t have any ideas, so I’m going through a month now of chronic guilt, because this is the first time in I believe nearly 10 years where I haven’t even tried, so it’s sort of second nature to me by now that I ought to do it. Obviously not enough that I’m actually getting anything done, but even so.
Anyway, I’ve been on holiday, so I’ve really been making a crack at the box of things not yet tried and written about. All the words of fiction that I haven’t written? Yeah, those are now tea posts. My word doc of posts ready to, well, post is now 18 pages long and has 10+K words in it. At least two thirds of those were written this week.
Therefore, finally owning up to still not having drunk this sample.
The stupid thing is that I actually expect to rather like it.
It has a black base, which I like. It has marshmallow root, which I like. It has peppermint, which is something I’ve warmed to considerably in my tea over the last year or so.
I also remember that there was a sample in the advent calendar which was very similiar to this, only it had spearmint instead of peppermint, and I didn’t much like the spearmint. I theorised at the time that if it had been peppermint, I’d have enjoyed it a lot more. Or something to that effect. I can’t really recall what that tea was called, so I can’t go and look it up.
Anyway, this smells very peppermint-y, so at least we know age hasn’t deadened it completely. I can also pick up the marshmallow root under the mint, but it smells very much like those candy canes. Stripes and everything. But also, I’m afraid, a little bit like mouthwash. Base tea? Not so much, really.
Oh, peppermint. Lots of it. One sip and my mouth has gone all minty. Sweet too, again I can pick up the marshmallow root quite clearly. These two really work well together, totally creating the illusion of minty sweeties, and not at all mouthwash-y.
I can feel the base tea underneath that, but it’s really mostly there to provide some body for the other two flavours. I’m not sure exactly what the base is, but it seems to be very forgiving and none the worse for
Yes, this is indeed quite nice. Had I actually tried it at the proper time I’m not sure it would have been ’I’ll-risk-customs-fees!‘-nice, but I’m definitely enjoying this cup.
I believe the hypothesis RE spearmint versus peppermint is proven.
This + freshly baked scones with a variety of marmalade, honey and lemon curd.
In all my humblest modesty; OM NOM NOM NOM!!!
(No clotted cream, though. I know of one place only where I can buy that here and I wasn’t about to retrace my steps. Research has shown me that it’s supposedly super-easy to make your own but it’s an overnight sort of job. Requires more preparation than my spontaneous cravings)
Another from my recent TP order.
I expect if I told you that I had made an order and NOT bought any of this, half of you would probably have been ready to call an ambulance for me or something.
And I must say, it smells heavenly! All sweet and vanilla-y and awesome. It doesn’t have the punch and strong caramel-y notes that my favourite from Fru P does, but it’s still pretty good. Mind you, I think the Fru P blend is a wee bit on the pungent side aroma-wise, so if I end up having a cup that tastes like Fru P’s and smells like this one does, then there it is. The Perfect Vanilla Black.
Hm. It’s quite a harsh flavour just at first. I’m not certain exactly how vanilla can be harsh at all, but that was my immediate thought when I tried to think of a word to describe it. Then after that very initial harshness it blooms into full on vanilla. Again it’s not as strongly flavoured as Fru P, though, so I’m afraid it’s not really coming up to Perfect standard.
Still quite good though, and it gets more vanilla-y when slurped and when it cools a bit. It has quite a caramel-y aftertaste to it as well.
It’s lovely, this, absolutely lovely, but I still prefer Fru P, which is probably best as I can get that in town.
Scheherazade sent me this one. Chai is not really something I’ve ever been particularly fond of, although I’ve sometimes wondered what I’m missing out. The problem with chai is partly that they invariably contain ginger and cinnamon, neither of which are things I’m fond of in tea, but mostly a rather traumatic introduction to it at around age 10. I will tell you what happened.
As a child, I was a scout for many years. At around age 10 or so, my group got new leaders. These were two guys who were… Well. A bit hippie-y in some ways and very correct in other ways. These two traits came together in a common purpose whenever it was time for giving the children some sort of treat. Like when we were camping or the last meeting before the Christmas holidays or what have you. For a child age 10 or so, this sort of occasion is pretty much synonymous with hot chocolate.
BUT GOSH, NO! Hot chocolate, that’s full of sugar! And fat! Very bad for children! Also very very common and boring, let’s put our own personal Eastern spin on things.
Let’s give the children chai instead, what a good idea!
I think they even had their own spice blend for it. Dear scout leaders that I had at around age 10. No, it was not a good idea. It was in fact a totally rubbish idea. We, the children, drank your strange spicy concoction dutifully because it was that or nothing, but I’m willing to wager a rather large amount today that none of the children even knew what chai was and the vast majority of them would most likely much rather have had hot chocolate.
A couple of years later, when we got new leaders again the concept of chai for these special occasions went the way of the dodo right quickly.
So yes, I will definitely claim to have had a rather fraught and difficult introduction to chai in general.
I have never really warmed up to it, although I’ve tried again several times. Now Scheherazade is providing me with another go. It seems a fairly simple one. It has tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cassia, which is also some kind of cinnamon-y spice. So not a complicated one, just the base ingredients that I would associate with chai. It strikes me as being a very good starting point, really.
I made it with half milk and half water. I gave the cup of milk about 90 seconds in the microwave, put in the bag and filled up with boiling water. The milk makes it difficult for me to see when I think it’s done steeping, though. I’m not at all used to milk in tea, but I have learned this much in my adventures with chai; milk is essential.
It smells very nice indeed, actually! All cinnamon-y sweet, but not soapy and nostril-assaulting like cinnamon can sometimes be. Cinnamon sugar and rice porridge cooked with milk. This cup smells pretty much like Christmas.
It tastes quite mild and milky. Possibly I should have used more water and less milk? I plopped the bag back in while drinking though, to see if I could get it to be a bit stronger. I can’t pick up anything in the way of a base here at all, which I’m rather missing. This doesn’t really feel like I’m drinking tea at all. It’s more like warm milk with spices, which in itself is actually also quite nice, but not really what I was hoping for.
The spices are tempered by the milk and not even the ginger is bothering me in this. Ginger is usually my downfall because I don’t much care for the burning sensation. This is a chai that I could actually drink because it’s so mild and unassuming. A true chai fan might find it a bit dull though.
Here’s another one from my recent Tea Palace order. My first order from them, but certainly not my last!
However… Hong Mao Feng?
As we know it’s so called because they use the buds and they curl up in the same way that mao feng green tea does, but hong mao feng is a black tea.
So when I get a tin of large curly leaves, many of which are sort of silvery and/or dark green and which smells distinctly floral, I get a little bit concerned. Especially when I know that the shop actually also carries mao feng green.
I decided to put my trust in TP, however, and brew it like I would any other black tea. This gave me a light yellow cup with almost no aroma at all. What is there is sort of peach-y. A very delicate mineral flavour with touches of grass and a warning hint of bitterness when swallowed.
A far cry from the description of a smooth yet robust flavour and typical Keemun full-bodied taste.
I think, by accident, they’ve sent me a tin of mao feng green, mislabeled as hong mao feng. I shouldn’t have sprung for the large tin what with it being a limited edition product and all then.
It seems drinkable enough, though, so I can’t be bothered to start making too much of a fuss about something that was probably an honest mistake. I can easily see how it could have happened with the similarity of the names. I’ve emailed the company and asked if I should return it. They didn’t want it back, so I’ll just drink it, but they are going to send me a replacement. I had an email reply only a couple of hours after I sent mine in.
(On the bright side, if I’m correct that it’s mao feng green, I’ve actually received a much more expensive product than I’ve paid for. Shame I’m not more into green tea then!)
It is now a few days later, and Tea Palace have sent me a replacement and a profuse apology. They didn’t want the mistake tea back, so I’ve got a big tin of that as well. From my corrospondence with them I sort of got the impression that I’m correct in having received the mao feng green the first time, so that’s what I’ve decided that is.
Now this is more like it. I could tell as soon as I saw the leaves, and it also brews up nice and dark. No nasty surprises here. It does indeed smell grainy and keemun-y too. Imagine that. Keemun that isn’t keemun!
It’s a good strong tea, this. It has a strong cocoa-y note at first and then all the grain-y notes underneath. There’s malty sweet notes in here as well, which in combination with the cocoa notes make it a rather sweet cup.
It doesn’t have keemun’s natural almost-smoky flavour, though, but I’m fine with that. It’s a very good cup of tea, this, and I’m glad I a) sprang for the 100g tin and b) decided to make a fuss about the green tea mistake after all.
Scheherazade shared this with me, and it was one that I didn’t even know that I was interested in at all! Only once I had it, it turned out that I was.
I had the black version of MP through a swap years ago, and I seem to recall that I rather liked it. At the time I didn’t understand why a rooibos version even existed, because I didn’t care for rooibos at all during that time. Later on I forgot all about it. It’s not a blend that you see around on Steepster a lot after all.
It’s weird actually, that period. It lasted several years. I started out quite liking rooibos, both unflavoured and flavoured. Then I suddenly couldn’t stand the stuff no matter how it came. That went on for years. I even gave all my rooibos blends to Husband back when he was still Boyfriend. Then Cteresa sent me a rooibos blend with vanilla and strawberry I think it was, which I dutifully tried because I feel that when someone shares something with you, it’s polite to at least give it a go with as open a mind as one can muster, even when it’s something one doesn’t expect to like very much. So I tried the blend Cteresa shared with me and was promptly knocked clean off my feet and I gave a score of 90-something points.
So now, suddenly, I rather enjoy rooibos blends again, although I still don’t care for unflavoured rooibos. That tastes a bit like chewing a pencil.
And I’ve clean forgotten where I was going with this.
Anyway, I can’t remember what goes into a Marco Polo blend on any base, but I think it was something with chocolate and strawberry. I believe there was a third thing, but I can’t say what it might be.
Well, it smells like chocolate and strawberry and rooibos, so so far so good.
It also tastes quite like strawberry, but not so much like chocolate. I’m getting a bit of that on the swallow, but otherwise it just tastes fruity.
I have previously elaborated on my difficulties with chocolate flavoured blends, so all in all I found this a remarkably pleasant blend.
Although it seems to have given me hiccups.
I got this sample tin out of a basket last time I was in Fru P. I hadn’t seen her having Kusmi samples before, so I had a look through. This was the only one that I hadn’t tried before or didn’t know would be an instant dislike, so I let the promise of vanilla in the ingredients list seduce me.
This smells like soap at first. Then, when the assault on my nostrils dies down a bit, I can recognise it as largely cinnamon. Charm the Cat seems to find it unbelievably stinky. This stuff has just cost me a lap-Charm, and that’s a pretty rare beast to begin with. One whiff, and she left.
I can’t decide about the flavour. It’s sort of hovering smack dab in the middle between ‘eurg soap!’ and ‘pleasant actually.’ It’s mostly cinnamon, but fairly smooth. I can sort of pick up vanilla and citrus, but not in the way that I can taste them as such. More in the way that it feels like this is what is tempering the cinnamon. The licorice root shows up as a sweet afterthought on the swallow, but that’s all.
I really don’t know about this stuff. I’m going to withhold rating for now because I feel very ambivalent about it. I honestly can’t tell you if I like it or not.
Here’s another tea from the EU Travelling Teabox. This one is a Take, even though it’s a chocolate-y tea and I haven’t ever had much in the way of luck with those. It’s a texture thing. If you flavour a tea with chocolate it’s generally chocolate-y in such a way that my brain automatically expects a thick hot chocolate texture as well. And then I get disappointed when I don’t get that texture, which in turn reflects poorly on my experience of the tea.
I know I’ve had a couple of chocolate-y teas where the flavouring worked for me. I know this because I can remember feeling surprised by it, but I can’t for the life of me tell you which tea it was. That is how rare it is for me to come across a chocolate flavoured tea that works.
I decided to give this one a go, however, because it also has raspberry. Like vanilla and caramel, I’m very attracted to berries. Especially red berries, be it strawberry (which isn’t really a berry), raspberry (also not really a berry) or cherries (also not a berry) or what have you. (Not tomatoes, although they are actually berries. Don’t be silly).
I am also very attracted to berries in sweets and puddings. Chocolate with berry in it tends to make me want to try it and I currently have my eye on a tart with white chocolate and cherry that I want to try and make soon.
Therefore, I figured this tea was worthy of a go. Probably especially because the name says ‘truffle’ and not ‘chocolate’, which somehow doesn’t seem to raise the same chocolate-y expectations.
It smells truffle-y and dark chocolate-y. Very dark chocolate, here. 70% or more. I can just about pick up a hint of berry-like tartness, but I can’t recognise it as raspberry in particular. It’s just ‘berry’ at this point.
Tastewise, it’s quite nice. It’s chocolate-y on the swallow and leaves a pleasant aftertaste. This is good because that actually means that it doesn’t fall into that little but-there’s-no-chocolate-texture trap. Well done! A chocolate-y tea that works for me!
Raspberry, though. Or even berry of any sort. Not so much. I’m having a really hard time finding this in the flavour. Every time I think I have it, it disappears. I think I’ve got a bit of it in the aftertaste and I think I’ve got a bit of it if I take a sip and hold it, but there’s nothing here that I can put a finger on and say ‘this note is fruity.’
If I didn’t know better I’d think it’s was just truffle. It is possible that I would be able to tell a difference if I actually had the same blend only without the raspberry to compare with, but I haven’t so I can’t.
Even so, it’s still very pleasant, so I’m keeping it.