1323 Tasting Notes
From the queue
I’m declaring Green Week. Or rather, Things That Aren’t Black Week. I’ve got a fair few of those sorts of blends, but I’m not very good at remembering to make them once in a while. So I’m going to try, for the next week, to have a cup of something non-black at least once a day for seven days. A fair few of them I’ve already posted about, so don’t expect seven posts on the topic, but I’ll try and remember the box of untried things as well.
This is a green tea that Auggy shared with me last summer. Back then she said it was getting a tad aged, but to use heavier leaf to compensate. The age thing definitely hasn’t improved since I’ve had it and not got around to it, but we’ll see how bad it’s got. Auggy is very fond of shincha and we tend, in general, to have a very similar taste in tea. We prefer the same sort of flavour profiles and the same sort of characteristics, so although I’m not a very big green tea drinker at all, I trust her judgment on this implicitly.
It still has a lot of aroma. It’s got that smell that makes me think ‘cat breath’. I don’t know why cat breath especially, because the cats don’t actually smell like that, but that’s just the thought I invariably get. It’s a viscous, sort of salty smell with a bit of sweetness to it as well. Quite freshly cut grass-y as well.
There’s a great deal of flavour in it too. It’s quite mineral-y and underneath that there is a lot of something. I’m sure you all know how it is. You know it tastes like something you know, but you just can’t identify it. I’m thinking something along the lines of spinach and asparagus after they’ve been briefly blanched.
It’s quite pleasant, and it definitely puts the myth that ‘green teas are all very delicate and subtle tasting’ to the grave. This is fairly strong stuff. It’s as strongly flavoured as a black tea. It’s just a different flavour. I can totally see why Auggy is fond of this, and my trust was once again well placed.
I know some people will shake their heads in wonder at why I would rate something that I know is no longer at it’s best. To those, let me remind you all of this. My score is based on my experience with it, not an attempt at judging quality. If a high quality tea doesn’t make me happy, it gets a low score. If a low quality tea makes me happy, it gets a high score. It’s as simple as that. Therefore I am scoring, becuase this made me quite happy.
From the queue
This one came from Auggy a looong time ago now. In summer, actually. For the last couple of years we’ve exchanged a rather large parcel in summer but not during the rest of the year. I’ve already started planning what to put in mine next time. I’ve got some candidates in my drawers.
Anyway, this afternoon when we had both come home from work Husband requested something black and unflavoured and I asked if puerh was close enough to black for him. And it was. He was just in here a moment ago commenting that it was a nice cup.
It smells quite earthy and surprisingly sweet. A bit like warm dark syrup. That’s not actually very accurate for the sweet note but it’s sort of close enough. It’s got another aspect to it though, which I can’t quite put my finger on.
The flavour is mild and smooth. Probably not the most outstanding puerh flavour in the world, but it’s got all the right elements, I think. A smidge earthy, a bit malty, a touch of grain and a great deal of Just Tea. I’m greatly enjoying this flavour profile. Husband was rather less keen the second time we had it though.
From the queue
Husband needed a re-stocking of his Triple B chamomile bags. (Triple B = Before Bed Beverage) This then led to me finding myself in the tea section of the supermarket. Having moved, it’s a new supermarket. Same chain but larger, so they have a higher variety on some things. There was a thread on the discussion boards not too long ago about how it seemed like supermarkets seemed to be stocking a wider selection of loose leaf teas and of a generally higher quality than they did just a few years ago. Danish supermarkets seem to be moving into that trend as well these days, so I thought I’d have a gander. There were some really nice looking tins, unfortunately none of which containing anything I was interested in, so I was just about to move on when I spotted this on a shelf next to some Earl Grey of the same brand. These were standing a little back on the shelf compared to the EG (I imagine because someone took some before me), so they were easy to miss.
Excellent, I thought. It’s a type I’m rather fond of in general and it’s not so long ago that I was wishing I had some Keemun in the house. Therefore, yoink!
I have, however, upon coming home discovered two things about it. One suspicious and one slightly amusing.
The suspicious thing is the ingredients list which reads ‘Keemun tea (from China and Vietnam)’
This is not actually a Keemun tea. It’s a Keemun blend! Boo! Oh well. I suppose it’s still better than no Keemun at all.
The slightly amusing thing is the storage recommendation where it says to not pour it into a different container and that it keeps best in the bag. Like plock it does; it’s a paper bag! And it’s not even resealable in anyway. Not only is that impractical, it’s also not going to offer any protection against air or smell what so ever. LOL! Hand me a tin.
Now, blend or not, the leaves smell lovely. All wooden and leathery, slightly malty and with the faintest whiff of smoke. That, I have to admit, smells authentic enough. I expect this is probably mostly Keemun with enough Vietnamese filler to beef it up and make it cheaper. I didn’t exactly pay a fortune for this and there were 150 g in the bag.
After steeping it smells a bit thinner. Malty and grain-y, yes, and again the barest hint of smoke, but also rather a lot of just hot water. I would have liked a stronger, fuller aroma. This gets better as it cools to a drinkable temperature, but I would have liked it to be like that from the beginning.
The first few sips are indeed a wee bit thin in flavour and the fact that it’s a blend is really showing. It’s got the bone characteristics of a Keemun, a touch of smoke and some grainy notes and a bit of malt. But it’s thin. It’s stretched out and there’s very much an imitiation sort of feel to it. The vietnamese tea that it’s been stretched with is definitely playing a part here. It’s got some low-grown notes to it and I’m sort of getting the impression here of a relatively good quality Keemun stretched by a poorer quality Vietnamese which has roughly the same kind of flavour profile.
That just doesn’t work that way, though! Instead of something that makes me go ‘yay, Keemun!’ I’ve got something that makes me think ‘hm, good enough in a pinch’. If it hadn’t said Keemun on the bag, I wouldn’t have thought it had anything to do with Keemun at all apart from tasting relatively similar.
Again, it helps a bit as it cools and develops, but that’s just not good enough. It needs to be there sooner. Doesn’t lose that rough-around-the-edges imitation flavour, though. It’s not really a smooth tea, this.
I’m not completely disappointed, though. In itself it’s not at all a bad tea. I just don’t think it really does what it says on the box. On the other hand, it’s probably not aimed at people like me who are used to counting on teas that say Keemun on them actually being from Anhui and not Vietnam and who knows exactly what her Perfect Keemun should taste like. It’s probably aimed at people who are used to having bagged tea and once in a while gets a bag of loose for guests or sheer luxury. If I had still been one of these people and I had tasted this, I believe I would have been highly pleased with it. If I had been completely new at loose leaf, first venturing out into buying a higher quality leaf and I had tasted this, it would make me try more Keemun.
On that point, this is a highly succesful blend, I think. For the experienced loose-leaf drinker it’s not really special but perfectly drinkable, but it would make an excellent beginner’s tea.
I shall rate it as the blend it is, not as I would a pure Keemun, and put it here. If it had been a pure Keemun, I’d probably have knocked some 10 points or so off that.
From the queue
Another instance of yes, that is actually what the blend is called. This is from my Christmas calendar, and the name amused me so much that I had to go on Fru P’s website and ask if I really had deciphered the writing on the bag correctly. I had.
Best name ever! :D (Although I will say that rather than morning cranky, I prefer the term morning quiet which in my opinion is far more accurate for the condition)
Also slightly worrisome.
The name in Danish is ‘Morgensur’. Sur. Cranky, but also sour. Tart. One of my least favourite things in the world to ruin tea with is often used to make something taste more tart. And occasionally green tea can be plenty sour on its own already.
I have to admit my hopes aren’t high on this one, but the hibiscus-y fears were rather put to rest there, but I’m still not really expecting to be keen on this one. Then again, I do like lemon-y, citrus-y things (bergamot excepted), so it might be that sort of citrus-y sourness. That would be totally fine with me. Could be grapefruit, perhaps. That would fit the ‘morning’ theme, even if the green base certainly doesn’t.
It definitely smells citrus-y. Lemon-y and also something else which I’m not certain is citrus. It’s a thick sort of sweet smell that rather reminds me of vanilla, but it can’t be vanilla. Trust me, if she had told me when I asked on Facebook that it had vanilla in it, I’d have remembered. She did tell me what was in it on Facebook and I may have to go and look it up. Perhaps some sort of berry?
It isn’t actually living up to its name here. Not really particularly sour or tart, but with a touch of a pleasant lemon-y, citrus-y sharpness. Not too little and more importantly, not too much. Again, there’s that smooth, sweet note that I can’t place. I don’t know what it is. I saw there were a few flowers in the leaf, so it might simply just be them affecting the texture and bringing out some natural base notes. I am, however, also getting a berry-y aftertaste.
Okay, it’s time to go back to Facebook and find out what she said was in it and attempt to not be distracted by Candy Crush or Pepper Panic on the way.
Turns out she said bergamot and mango! Bergamot? Really? It doesn’t taste like bergamot at all. Bergamot is a dusty grey sort of floral taste. This is more yellow and sharp. On the other hand, I have had EGs before that tasted more like lemon tea than anything else, so perhaps it has something to do with the level of flavouring and how this or that particular base responds to that. Mango, however, now that explains a lot. That’s the sweet and smooth note, I can see that now. Mango does have that sort of flavour, but it was so far from my thoughts that it never even occurred to me.
To my vast surprise I’m finding that I’m actually really enjoying this. Isn’t that just fab, when you find something great in something you expected to dislike!
On a name related note, I tend to translate these Danish names to the best of my abilities so that you other lot have some idea of what it is I’m drinking without having to do a lot of detective work first. I’ve noticed, though, that French names hardly ever get translated on here, so I’m wondering if it’s silly of me to do it. Would people prefer it if I kept the Danish names, I wonder? Am I just creating unnecessary potential confusion in the database if other Danish Steepsterites were to show up (Ha! Dream on, Ang)? I had a small discussion in a comment section of a different post about this, but it was well hidden and I am particularly interested in hearing what people who don’t understand Danish thinks about this. Opinions below or on a postcard please.
From the queue
This is an oolong which Cteresa shared with me AGES ago. I don’t know anything at all about it because the description in the database is in French and nobody else has posted about it yet. I only a smattering of French words but I can make a qualified guess that it says that this tea resembles Tie Guan Yin in some way, but I’m stumped for the rest of it. I know ‘avec’ = ‘with’, but that doesn’t really get me very far.
The aroma is quite cocoa-y and wood-y, so at least at this point it doesn’t particularly remind of TGY at all.
It tastes a rather fruity and a little bit cocoay and a little bit woody. But mostly surprisingly fruity. Even now when it’s at a sort of lukewarm stage, it’s very fruity. I’m not sure which fruit exactly, but probably a kind of stone fruit, because this is generally the sort of fruit I find myself leaning towards when I don’t know what kind of fruit I think I’m tasting.
From the queue
MissB shared a sample of this one with me in the parcel of vast amounts of samples that I received from her in December. I don’t much care for alcoholic drinks in general, so I’m hoping there won’t be that alcoholic note in it. I’ve tried one or two cocktail flavoured blends from 52teas that had that note of burning in the throat. It’s that very thing that I find unpleasant about strong alcohol. Husband, however, was quite interested when I asked him if he wanted a cup. I expect it to be more to his liking than mine.
It smells weird and sweet. I’m also rather reminded of dates and figs in the aroma. Not a good sign as I can’t abide dates. Peculiarly, though, it doesn’t smell unpleasant or making me wanting to not taste it. It actually only managed to make me curious. Bit like when I saw ‘baconnaise’ in the supermarket the other week. It sounded so odd that I had to try it. (Tastes like salt and smoked paprika, by the way, and not at all of bacon. I could stir some of that up myself I should think. With significantly less salt in it, preferably.
Tastes weird. I asked Husband whether or not he thought it tasted like rum, him having a much larger experience with rum than me. Having actually tasted it in his life without it being mixed in a generous amount of cola. He said he’d tried some American rum which had tasted very sweet and raisin-y and not nice at all.
I can recognise that description in this when I taste it. Kind of sweet and raisin-y/date-y/fig-y. It’s certainly ‘brown fruits-y’.
It’s quite strong in flavour, and I don’t know if it’s the flavouring or the base. It’s definitely some kind of sturdy base they’ve used for this.
I have to say, though, this is definitely not something for me.
From the queue. I’ll do two a day for the next week. I’m currently writing posts faster than I can post them, even when posting daily. It’s all these boatloads of untried things, you see. I suppose I feel inspired these days.
Bonnie shared this one with me and I confess I’ve been gathering courage to try it. You see, this is a loose puerh with cacao hulls, some vanilla black and some roasted chicory root. Apparently they also do a version with vanilla rooibos, but Bonnie chose the one without for me.
It’s the chicory root that has me concerned. It started to concern me already when I first smelled it and discovered that rather than smelling like cocoa and puerh, it just smelled allround weird. Worrisome. The first thought that popped into my head was ‘thin coffee’. Now, I know some people enjoy having their tea coffee flavoured. I, however, am one of those people who feel those two things should be kept as far apart as possible. I mean, I like drinking tea, obviously, and I also occasionally greatly enjoy a caffe latte (or even on rare occasions a small cup of ordinary coffee with milk). Drinking one does not exclude the liking of the other at all. It’s the combination of the two that I find to be frankly disgusting. Coffee flavour has no business being in my tea and vice versa.
So you can see why I’m concerned, yes?
However, it was shared with me by someone who meant well and thought I would find it interesting, therefore I’m going to have a cup of it anyway. I sometimes take a long time to do it and sometimes I end up not even posting about it, but when people have shared something with me, I always try it, even though I don’t believe I’ll like it. It’s the polite thing to do and it’s also a practice that has given me more than a few very pleasant surprises. For example, it was cteresa sharing a fruit-flavoured rooibos with me that led me to discover under which circumstances I can actually really enjoy a rooibos after having gone for years believing I didn’t like any rooibos at all. Now I’ve got loads of fruit-flavoured rooiboses.
Besides, isn’t this really the purpose of swaps? Exploring the things you would never in your life have tried otherwise? See you later, comfort zone!
So here we go! Tea that smells like thin coffee. It’s the chicory root, of course, that gives the coffee-y impression, not real coffee. I believe I’ve had blends with chicory in them before. I’m almost certain I have. I have clear memories of having tried it in a blend, but I can’t remember which blend that might have been or what I thought of it. I don’t, however, remember it as being awful. I think I would have remembered something on the lowest end of the point scale. This gives me confidence.
After steeping it’s much more cocoa-y in the aroma. The chicory is still there, but it’s dampened significantly by the cocoa, and the primary impression I’m getting now is freshly baked brownies that has just come out of the oven 20 seconds ago. The good sort of brownies, baked with loads of high quality chocolate rather than cocoa powder. It makes me want to bake again! Haven’t baked anything at all since before Christmas, but there are still lots of biscuits left and those need to go first. (Also, I’ve got an ice cream project I want to try first, now that we’ve got a freezer that is larger than a match box)
I’m just about to taste it now and I’m actually not even scared of it even more.
Okay, the chicory is fairly distinct in the flavour with it’s coffee-ish notes, but not directly off-putting. Just… I could have lived without the chicory, really. It also rather messes with the cocoa, making it not actually taste much like cocoa but more like an enhancement for the chicory. It doesn’t help that cocoa or chocolate in tea rarely truly works for me because my brain expects a completely different consistency which the tea can’t deliver for obvious reason.
I can vaguely pick up some earthy notes of the puerh base, but these are most prominent in the aftertaste. In the sip itself, however, I’m surprised to find that it’s the vanilla black that is actually standing out more. It’s sweet and slightly creamy, and in a strange way managing to be vanilla with being very vanilla-y in flavour. I think it’s the other flavours in this that are messing with it.
Although I mentioned that I’ve learned to drink rooibos, and lots of it, in recent years, I find I’m glad Bonnie chose the one without rooibos for me. I think rooibos would have added unnecessary confusion to the mix, and vanilla alone in rooibos never really did it for me as much as vanilla + fruit does.
I’m a little ambivalent. I’m pleased with the puerh and the vanilla black, and would have enjoyed the cocoa more if not for the chicory. But I could also really live without the chicory. Or perhaps not even entirely without it, but just less of it.
I can’t decide what I actually think of this. I suspect it could grow on me, though, if I made sure to have it another couple of times in relatively quick succesion.
Later addition: I wound up taking the rest of this one with me to drink at work, for which it proved to be eminently suitable. I could easily have continued with this sort of work tea for a while. At about the same time my colleague brought a small tin of Kusmi’s spicy chocolate blend, which I found somewhat similar to this one. Rating is large based on how this tea has helped me through many many work days.
From the queue
MissB shared a sample of this one with me, and for those who don’t speak French (I don’t; I looked it up), the name is ‘peach and thyme’. Thyme! I’ve never had a tea that had thyme in it before, but I like using thyme in cooking so this is very exciting. I did actually see a different tea recently which had raspberry and thyme which I found somewhat interesting, but wasn’t brave (or rich! Exorbitant price!) enough to purchase. If this one is a success, I may go back to that shop and get some. Is thyme the new fashion ingredient?
The dry leaf smells… peculiar, but lovely. Herb-y fruit? Fruit-y herbs? It’s not really fully recognisable as thyme or as peach, but something in between which smells thouroughly weird. Weird, but lovely. I’ve been sniffing at the bag for several minutes now.
After steeping, the thyme is quite easily recognised in the aroma. It rather reminds me of spaghetti sauce to the point where I caught myself attempting to detect tomato. I couldn’t, for obvious reasons. The peach, however, appears to have gone into hiding. Perhaps it’s shy. I can tell that there’s something else in there, but it’s not really coming out to play. I can’t really tell anything about the base tea at all, though.
The flavour is quite the opposite of the aroma. Where it smells a lot like thyme and not so much like fruit, it tastes a lot like peach and less like thyme. The first sip gave me a ‘yeah, this is peach tea alright’ sort of experience. It has rather clear herb-y overtones, but to my surprise there is actually harmony between the herb and the fruit. I confess I wasn’t entirely convinced that this was possible. The idea of it just seems so bizarre. Like basil ice cream. But it works. It really works.
I’m very pleased with this. It’s a very interesting and pleasant flavour and I’m definitely feeling much more inclined to go and try that raspberry thyme tea I saw now. This is great.
From the queue
We went into town today to spend some gift certificates we got for Christmas on some new cutlery. I’ve been wanting this for when we moved into our house, because the cutlery that we had was all mismatched and lumped together out of at least five different sets. And I don’t know about the stuff that Husband had when we moved in together, but the stuff I had was almost all something I had inherited from my parents when moving away from home. I wanted cutlery that actually matched and that I had had from new. Cutlery doesn’t really wear out, so it doesn’t get replaced naturally unless you make the decision yourself to replace it. It took a little convincing of Husband, but eventually he conceeded my point. I think the last little stretch of convincing wasn’t actually me, but the fact that he saw for himself that it was a little annoying to not be able to set a table for six with matching things. It looks haphazard and like you’re not really making an effort.
Anyway, on our way there we passed a small shop that sold tea, coffee and fancy chocolate. It was actually because they had a sign outside saying they carried AC Perchs teas that we decided to go in and have a look. There were only six or seven ACP teas to choose from, though, and none of them particularly interesting, but they also had several ones of this brand. It’s completely new to me, but apparently it’s a Scandinavian company. The tea is sold in 100g packages which came in a very attractive-looking wooden caddy. I really like wood as a material, I find it very decorative. Even better, they had this one which is a single farm Chinese black from the Hubei province. I think we all know what I’m like with Chinese black, and an interestingly new-to-me one at that!
I dithered a bit, because it was 95kr for one, but in the end I succumbed to temptation, part of which was the tea itself and part of it being caddy-lust. I wanted that caddy. I wanted it!
Turns out, however, that the caddy was also untreated wood on the inside, which meant I wouldn’t be able to wash it when the leaves were used. I had hoped that it might be a metal or just a plastic container clad in wood, but alas. After a lot of thinking, weighing of options and considering the matter, I decided to just pour the tea in and find a different use for the caddy after it was gone, only to have to transfer it to a proper metal tin shortly after when it transpired that the lid didn’t actually seal properly anymore when it wasn’t held in place by the plastic wrapping.
So verdict on the caddy, highly attractive and equally as useless. Out with that, then. I can’t even use it for something else when I can’t put the lid on.
The tea itself seems to be a paradox. At the first sip, it’s suprisingly bitter. Not over-leafed-bitter. Not over-steeped-bitter. It’s bitter because it just is.
But it’s a Chinese black! I hear you protest. Those are never bitter!
I know! And it’s not just the bitterness. It gets worse.
In addition to this seemingly naturally occurring bitterness, it’s really a fairly light flavour. Oh, it’s pretty strong and full-bodied, yes, but it gives me a sort of light and springy-bouncy impression, the sort that is the exact opposite of bitter.
I’m not sure how this is possible. Mutually exclusive flavour profiles in equal measure. Paradox tea. Does that mean the whole tin is in danger of unmaking itself? I had better drink it fast, then.
It does bring to mind something I saw on the discussion boards, though, about how organic teas tended to be more bitter than ordinary teas because of uh… because of Reasons. I can’t even remember who said it either now. Look at me with my source material all in order. :p
As it cools more and I drink more, though, I discover something about that bitterness. The bitter pinch of it slowly fades and it becomes a sort of old wood-y, burnt toast-y kind of coal-y thing. It tastes old. Not old as in ‘these leaves must be several years old!’, but old as in the very concept of age.
At the first sip, with the paradoxical bitterness, I was a little disappointed, because I paid an arm and a leg for this and I had already been thwarted by the attractive-looking but totally useless caddy, but now that I’ve been nursing this cup for a while, I’ve decided that I actually really very much like it. It feels like it would be a good first aid tea. You know, the kind of tea you drink when everything seems to be against you and the world as such can go jump off a cliff. It’s much in the same family as life-giving tea.
I should be surprised if there wasn’t a second steep in this.
Indeed there is. The flavour profile is exactly the same as before, if a smidge milder, in the second steep. Very rarely have I come across teas where it was worth the effort to attempt a third steep when brewing them Western style, but this is one where I definitely feel like it’s worth it to at least give it a go.
It may have cost a small fortune and it may have come with a useless caddy, but I feel I am actually getting value for money with this. It’s a little out of my way to go back to that shop, but I want to try some of the other teas from NUET now, so I’ll probably do it. (I’ll just know not to expect anything from the caddy)
From the queue
Anna shared a sample of this one with me. It’s a green base, which I don’t think I had fully realised when I asked for it. I’ve had a green vanilla-flavoured tea before and was only moderately impressed, but kiwi and vanilla sounded like such a fantastic combination I just had to try it. (Besides the previous experience with green vanilla tea, I believe was before my current vanilla-y preference had fully set in.)
I can tell you, the leaves definitely smell awesome. The kiwi is strong and the vanilla is sweet and creamy so that the whole thing reminds me of a fruity cream cake! (And I can always eat some cream cake). After steeping I can mostly smell kiwi and the base tea in more or less equal measure. This is quite nice, actually. It smells as though kiwi might be one of those flavours that just ‘click’ with green tea. Bit like orange and pu-erh do for me. It’s so rare to see kiwi flavoured anything, though. I wonder why that is?
(Cool faster, tea, so I don’t burn my tongue. I want to taste you.)
This is happy tea! Seriously, one sip and I’m grinning so widely the top of my head might come off! I don’t know exactly which quality it has that makes me have that reaction, it just does. I suppose that might be what you might call x-factor, although that concept has been rather polluted by irritating talent shows in recent years.
At first I taste primarily the green tea, so for a moment there I was a little disappointed by the flavouring. Then I got the kiwi, and then a thick creamy vanilla which brings me right back to aforementioned cream cake.
Perhaps that’s it? Not x-factor, but cream cake-factor.
This stuff is right up my particular alley of nom!