1155 Tasting Notes
This stuff is bagged!
Bagged tea from TeaSpring. Now I’ve seen everything.
Each bag is wrapped in its own little colourful foil satchet, and I’ve seen that from TeaSpring before, but I never suspected there would actually be a bag inside. I thought it was just fairly costly stuff and therefore portion wrapped. I’ve seen that before from TeaSpring. I can’t remember exactly which tea it was, but it was a very special, blessed on an alter sort of ceremonial leaf for a specific sort of occasion. Which I’ve also forgotten what was. I can’t even remember what the type was, but I think it might have been oolong. Anyway, that’s not important for this one. It was just to say that I’ve seen TeaSpring sell portion satchets before.
This one is the last tea from my Explore China order from TeaSpring uh some time ago. This last tin somehow managed to hide among the parcels I received from other, generous Steepsterites and has gone untried.
This tea is from Zheijang, which is on the East coast of China, just north of Fujian. As far as I can tell, in spite of the name, it has little to do with the Long Jing we know as a green tea (Dragonwell). As I understand it, it is made from the same leaves also used to produce Dragonwell, but these have gone through a different preparation and taste nothing at all like Dragonwell.
It’s not really a black tea either. Not as such, because the process is not the same as for black tea. What it actually is is unknown because the producers are keeping it as a closely guarded secret, but it is apparently a reinvention of a method lost for 300 years. (How this is possible is rather beyond me. How can they know if they’re even close to getting it right? It’s not like they can do a direct comparison) It is apparently somewhat similar, but not the same as, the method used for producing pu-erh, so this tea therefore also has some of the same qualities as pu-erh, including the tendency to age well.
At first this smelled like steam-ironing cotton. No really. That smell you get when you release steam from the iron and get a cloud of it in your face. Steam and cloth. Probably especially if you use laundry soap without perfume in it like we do in this house. I swear I even heard that sound the iron makes, the blob and hiss, in my head.
After a moment, this goes away and is replaced by something that reminds me strongly of licorice root. This note first snuck into the ironing cotton note and then gradually took over, as though it was heavier than the steam and needed more time to actually rise from the cup.
There’s something else in the aroma too, something which I can’t really place. A bit like caramel, but not quite. A bit like fruit, but not quite. A bit like something creamy sweet, but not quite. A bit like marzipan, but not quite. I’m sure I know what this smell is, but for the life of me I can’t get any closer than this.
The flavour has a strong note of licorice root and ginseng. So much so that I had to go and check the details to see if there might have been additions made to the leaf. This does not appear to be the case. It is, in fact, not even mentioned anywhere in the company’s notes.
How odd! Me, I don’t understand how they could possibly miss it. And no, it absolutely can’t be contamination carried over from other teas I’ve had today. I don’t even own anything with licorice root or ginseng in it at the moment. (Except the vile Throat Tea, which totally doesn’t count as we only ever touch that one when ill)
I don’t think I’ve ever come across this note naturally occurring before. How interesting. It is definitely licorice root and ginseng, though. With each sip, I’m more certain. I even get a hint of that funny licorice root-y feeling on the soft palate when swallowing.
Underneath the licorice root-y and ginseng-y note there is something that does taste akin to the average pu-erh. It has the same sort of earthy taste, but it’s milder. It’s not as deep and dark, less broth-y. Pu-erh is for me a very strong tea, one that reminds me of caves and dirt and great big holes. This is sort of the same thing, only up in the sunlight.
I’m rambling, aren’t I? These associations that different flavours invoke are fun, but sometimes they rather get in the way of things. It’s easier when all I get is a colour.
So what I’m trying to say is, it’s kind of like a very mild (possibly slightly thin) average pu-erh, with natural notes of licorice root and ginseng.
I don’t much care for licorice root or ginseng in my tea, to be honest. I love licorice, proper Danish licorice which has nothing, nothing I tell you, to do with anise. Anise does not taste like licorice and supposedly licorice flavoured jelly beans are anise flavoured, actually. FYI. Come to Scandinavia and I’ll show you real licorice. And it doesn’t even have to be the salty sort or the salmiakki sort either (although you’re welcome to try those too if you’re feeling brave. Personally I think those two are the best sorts of licorice in the world).
I’m rambling again. What I’m trying to say here is that I otherwise really enjoy licorice flavoured things, but not in tea. For some reason I just don’t feel these days that licorice root and tea go all that well together. (A couple of years ago I was of a vastly different opinion) So these notes in this tea is rather a turn off for me, and will cost some points here.
Bonus points for being interesting though, because it really is! If you are a pu-erh enthusiast, then I would suggest that you try this one out, bags and all, because I think you would find it really interesting.
Steepsterites, when was the last time you got four flavourful steeps out of one traditional teabag full of fannings? I can tell you exactly when the last time that happened to me and that is approximately just about never.
This stuff is holding out quite well, although I’m not going to try and get a fifth cup out of it. The fourth is already on the decline, so I don’t think I would get much out of another go.
Fleurdelily shared this one with me. There were loads of teabags of this one, and I’ve kept a third of them for myself and sent the other two thirds with Husband to work, where he’s enjoying the change of pace from his usual lemon and/or earl grey. I feared that if I didn’t I might never get around to drinking all of them up. I’ve had this a few times now, though, and I can now say that I don’t think I needed have any such fears. It’s really surprisingly enjoyable.
Very broth-y in flavour and reminding me a bit of cooked mushrooms.
I think this was the one that Fleurdelily sent me.
Initially I had a little happy when I saw this, because I like berries in general in tea. I just had the one bag and that turned out to be lucky because when I went to make it, I had not seen that it has hibiscus in it.
I cannot abide hibiscus. It tastes like blood. All metallic and sour. Ew.
At first I had a small suspicion when I poured water on it, and it immediately started bleeding a strong, bright red colour. However, while this is a tell-tale hibiscus sign, I have learned that it’s not the only ingredient to do that.
Not until now when I came to post did I see the truth of the matter.
And even if I hadn’t, I would have found out by the aroma. Let’s just say that this does not smell like any raspberry I am willing to eat. It’s all sour and ugh. Luna the Cat appears to agree. This aroma does not give me very high hopes for the flavour.
No, indeed not. It doesn’t taste like a raspberry I am willing to eat either. It doesn’t taste like raspberry at all! It’s just all sour and hibiscus-y. I can’t drink this without making a face, and trust me, I have tried my very best here.
Which leads me to a bit of a rant, frankly. American blends with berries seem to be loaded with hibiscus nine times out of ten. I have even seen people here on Steepster marvel at the fact that berry-flavoured blends without hibiscus even exist. What’s with all the hibiscus, people? It does not taste like berries! Berries are not sour by definition and not all berries taste the same, so if you take the trouble to actually use berry flavouring alongside the hibiscus, why do you insist on making it taste uniformly tart with hibiscus? Do you even have tongues to taste with?
It is possible to make something berry flavoured without letting it even stand next to a hibiscus flower. As far as I can tell this is largely an American phenomenon (do-doo-dodo-do), and I have never ever seen a European fruit or berry blend that contained hibiscus, while still claiming to be a plain fruit blend. Ever. Never ever ever.
Now I realise that this is a raspberry herbal and that implies that there are different sorts of things in it that aren’t tea. Raspberry leaves and raspberry flavouring, this I expected. But rosehip and hibiscus, just to make it red and tart, oh so very tart indeed, this I don’t understand. Does raspberry not taste sufficiently like raspberry on its own?
So chalk this down as a massive disappointment from someone who has been curious about raspberry leaf for sometime and believed she was going to try it at last. I don’t need to try hibiscus. I know what that tastes like.
I’m sorry, Fleurdelily but this one was just not for me at all. To be frank, even if I had seen that it contained hibiscus, I would probably have tried it out anyway because you never know when something otherwise unpleasant suddenly shows up in just the right combination. I had that experience with rooibos that was sent to me and it completely turned my opinion of rooibos upside-down. Just ask Cteresa. I suppose I’m vaguely hoping that the same thing might happen with hibiscus, but I’m not really super-optimistic about it.
When one woman’s ick is another woman’s nom, it’s awesome that we can share. fleurdelily didn’t care for this one, and although it’s far from my Perfect Vanilla Black, I can guarantee that it will get legs to walk on in this house. :)
Return parcel will follow. Eventually. Please be patient with me…
Fleurdelily sent me a couple of these bags, and also some strawberry ones of the same brand. I’m mentioning those here as well because the packaging of these bags is amazingly attractive. All colourful and with large drawings of the fruits in question. The sort of packaging that says ‘you KNOW I will taste good, because I look so good!’ From the moment I took them out of the box, I was looking forward to trying them.
That happens very rarely for me when I see bagged tea!
I’m having the peach and passionfruit now, and I must say that peach is a funny thing for me. I like peaches to eat and peach-flavoured things in general, but have always avoided it in tea because it is very much a hit and miss flavour for me. I never know what I’ll get with peaches in tea, and there doesn’t seem to exist a middle of the road for me.
Apart from the packaging, I must admit I wasn’t expecting much from a bagged tea in the peach-flavour-liking department, but perhaps it’s the addition of the passionfruit that does it here, because this one is actually quite pleasant. (Could also depend on what sort of base is used, I guess)
I think it has passionflowers as well as passionfruit actually, because there is a fairly floral taste to it, which prevents the peach from getting that nearly cloying flavour that I dislike in peach tea. Ironic really, because I don’t normally care much for floral teas either.
This one tastes quite warm and autumn-y, which is a surprise because I always connect tropical flavours with summer, but there is a sort of spicy note in here which may be the floral aspect or something else entirely that just says autumn. It fits the current grey and wet weather rather nicely.
I’m pleased with this.
I finally got around to this one, and it’s just as well, because it’s taking up a lot of space on my desk. I’ve taken to keeping the teas I haven’t posted about yet on my desk next to the computer so that they don’t disappear in the collection or end up like the four red fruits black from Le Palais des Thes which we’ve gone through 200 grams of and I never actually posted about it. I thought I already had!
So yes. New system. This system keeps them in full view at all times, and encourages me to get to them faster so that I can get my desk back!
This one is from the Verdant order I made some time ago and had been standing there un-opened, taking up a lot of space. I usually have pretty good experiences with Dancong and tend to find them very similar to Da Hong Pao, but somehow more me.
I suspect this is one I’ll be drinking throughout the day today. It’s wednesday, which means I’m off work (oh I luuuuurrrrve working part time!) and I’ve got a to-do list the length of my leg. Well, nearly. Two pages anyway, with half the usual margins and slightly smaller font size. 116 items. Many of them are tiny things that will take maybe five minutes but which I’ll forget to do otherwise so that’s why it’s so long. This approach worked out awesomely for me last week with nearly 80% completion and Husband commenting on the all-round tidyness of the house when he came home, so I’m repeating the success. So here we go. A tea that can be repeated easily throughout the day.
To that end I started out with twice my normal amount of leaf and half my normal steeping time, and the result is something that smells remarkably like honey. And milk, somehow. Or at least sort of creamy. The aroma isn’t very strong, so that’s all I can pick up at this point.
It tastes like Dancong. That’s my first thought when I tasted it. Tastes like Dancong. Um, right. I should sincerely hope it would! O.o And also like oolong. (Duh, brain. Pull yourself together with the associations, please!) That sort of dark, slightly woodsy and kind of humid oolong-y taste that all oolongs must have. If they don’t, it’s a serious flaw for me.
I also like my darker type oolongs to have a sort of caramel-y note. Not outright caramel flavoured, because for some reason I can’t actually imagine that would work, but a natural swet and creamy note that invokes caramel. This is not a requirement in the same way that the oolongness is, but I do prefer it.
Third, it must not be too floral in flavour, and this is where Dancong and Da Hong Pao part ways for me. Da Hong Pao has a tendency to be more floral for me than Dancong. This is not always so, but it seems to be a tendency.
This one has the oolongness and the honey-y, caramel-y creaminess and none of the floralness that I could find. The flavour is somewhat delicate though, and I suspect I could actually easily have left my steeping time at my usual two minutes, even though I had used more leaf. I didn’t really take the volume of the leaf properly into account when I thought I doubled it, so I suspect that I actually used close to my normal amount although it looked like a lot.
Mind you, this is very nice, but do hope that I can bring some forcefulness out in the flavour in the next steeps.
The second steep is back to my normal steeping time. The flavour is the same as the first steep, only stronger this time. All the notes are there and in the same amounts compared to each other. They’re just less delicate now. This is what I hoped would happen.
I’ll take a break with it now and leave the computer before this hospital e-learning course drives me completely batty! It’s mandatory and involves watching a little film which I have now restarted more times than I can count because it just won’t play right. I officially give up! throws up hands
This one came from Auggy and one of the last ones I’ve got left untried from her massive parcel.
I’ve only had milk oolong a few times before and have never quite been certain what to make of it. I’ve liked it, but I have never fallen head over heels for it like so many other people seem to have. Two, I think I’ve tried, and mind you, I have not even the first clue about whether either of those two were actually flavoured with steamed milk (I think that’s how it’s done?) or with the milky note naturally occuring and I don’t know which this one is either. It’s possible that the difference between these two types may mean a rather large difference in the head over heels department.
This one tastes primarily green oolong-y. At first when I just made it, there was lots of milky aroma and the first few sips had lots of it in the flavour as well.
Now that it has sat here and cooled slightly and developed a bit, the milky note has been pushed rather to the back. It is now there in the aftertaste and peeking out here and there in the actual sip, but not really able to get a word in edgewise.
So what I’ve got left seems like it could have been almost any sort of green oolong, just not counting the aftertaste. Somewhat vegetal and slightly sharp, it reminds me of dark, leafy greens, and with a very strong oolong-y wood-y touch to it.
Because I know it’s a milk oolong, I can pick up on the milk in the aftertaste and in between here and there, but if I hadn’t known anything about that, I wouldn’t have been able to guess. And do you know what? I almost think I prefer it that way. Milk oolong in general sounds like something that I might find a bit cloying if overdone and I definitely like this one better than the first one I ever had. I remember that one primarily because both the smell and the flavour of it gave me associations of warm yoghurt. (I’m fairly certain that one had been made with the steamed milk, actually)
It’s been too long since I’ve had a regular green oolong, so I can’t actually tell if I like this better than green oolong in general or the other way around. I’ll have to have a regular soon, but right now I’m finding this one rather enjoyable and not at all what I had thought I would get.
Dear foreigners! Have you ever had elderberry soup or is that a German and Scandinavian thing only? When I saw that I could by dried elderberries to use as a tisane, elderberry soup was the first thing that popped into my head. Elderberry soup is a treat for dessert in autumn, I think. Piping hot, and possibly with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream. Clearly then I had to try this.
That combined with the fact that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen elderberries (or elderflowers for that matter) in conjunktion with tea or tisanes. I don’t know why it’s so rare.
So obviously I had to try this. I really very much had to try it.
I went in to ask Husband if he also wanted to try a cup and he gave me a thumbs up sign before I had the chance to tell him what it even was. So we shall see where that bit of bravery will take him. Or foolhardyness, possibly. We shall see.
The berries are just berries. No leaves, no additives, no nothing. Just berries. They smell a bit like dried cranberries, actually, but then again elderberries do have that same sort of tartness to them.
After having been steeped, the aroma is elderberry soup alright, although it’s obviously not as viscous as the soup. It’s not quite as violently purple either which I have to admit came as a slight disappointment to me. Half the fun of elderberry soup is eating something with that colour.
The flavour is much milder than the soup too. I admit I was a bit worried, because if it was as strong as in the soup, it might get to be a bit much pretty quickly. I like the soup as an occasional treat, as mentioned, but I can only eat so much of it at the time before it gets to be too much.
I don’t think there’s any danger of that with this tisane. It’s quite mild and pleasant. Fruity, slightly tart and kind of semi-earthy in flavour.
You know, I really don’t understand why this berry doesn’t get used in flavouring tea! To me a strong flavoured berry like this seems totally obvious to flavour things with. With the amount of flavouring that comes out of these dried berries alone, however, it should be totally easy to make my own. Any otherwise dull tea should be spruced up considerably but adding a spoonful of these to the leaf. Elderberry soup usually has apple in it as well, so an apple flavoured tea without probably be awesome to use as well.
I’m not sure I would buy these again, just to drink them on their own like this, but I could totally see myself buying a small stock to experiment with mixing in other teas.
Husband, bizarrely, thinks it tastes like tomato soup. I don’t know, Steepsterites… Tomatoes??? O.o I can’t even!