1282 Tasting Notes
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.
From the queue. I couldn’t find it in the database, so I made a new entry with what little information that I had.
This was a Try from the EU Travelling Teabox, and it was Husband who tried it. I don’t care for Darjeeling myself, but we were given a 100g bag of the stuff last year for a sort of early wedding present from the best man and his then girlfriend who was also our photographer. Unfortunately they have since gone their separate ways (amiably). Husband doesn’t mind the Darjeeling so much so it ended up on his part of the Consider This First shelf.
Should I explain about the Consider This First shelf? I’ve found it’s a really excellent way to keep the supply of tea in check. This is where I put all the things that I know I will need constant reminders of to drink it up. The tea on this shelf can be sorted into three categories.
1. Things we don’t much like and would therefore otherwise just languish untouched somewhere for ages. It can be things one of us don’t like or things neither of us don’t like.
2. Things that have been forgotten and, although they are nice, they are rather getting on age-wise and so need to be used up while they still vaguely resemble their original flavour pattern.
3. Samples from shops and swap-partners that would otherwise be in risk of being hoarded, never to be used up just for the sake of never running out, when ‘running out’ makes no difference when the leaf is not being used anyway. Unless they are very large, samples and swaps go directly on this shelf after leaving the Things To Post About box.
Furthermore, the Consider This First shelf is divided up into three sections. The right hand side are the teas that only Husband finds drinkable. It is up to him to either finish them off or toss them out at his discretion. Me, I don’t care either way, as I’ve already given up on them.
The middle part is the largest section and the things that we can both drink, and the left hand side works in the same way as the right hand side, only it’s things that only I like.
So that great big bag of Darjeeling we were given, that lives on the right hand side of the Consider This First shelf, and Husband is bravely struggling through it. He has commented more than once though that “it’s a LOT of Darjeeling” to which I generally reply that he’s free to give up and chuck it out if he prefers. He won’t do that, stubborn boy.
He is aware that it’s getting quite old and that this is not exactly helping matters either, so when I found this Darjeeling in the EU Travelling Teabox, he requested to Try it so he could compare with the Darjeeling we already had. I think he wanted to check if he was missing out on anything with that old one.
I made a small pot for him as I didn’t want any of it myself (because it’s Darj) and I have to say that I was pleased he chose to try it on that day, because I had already had more cups of tea than I could count during that day (I was on holiday) and was rather sated and willing to sit this one out.
He had his cup and dutifully paid attention to it, and reported back to me that it didn’t really do anything for him. He found it a little nondescript and no great improvement from the one we already had. He was glad to have tried it, but not interested in having any more of it.
I shan’t rate it, because I didn’t have any myself, and I didn’t ask him about his thoughts regarding scoring it.
From the queue
I’ve had dragon pearls before. I’ve had Teavivre’s dragon pearls once before, and that was the time when I was turned off Teavivre’s samples in general. There was nothing wrong with the tea and it was in no way Teavivre’s fault. It just so happened that I had half the dragon pearl sample and then a few hours later it became abundantly clear to me that ‘that niggly iffy feeling’ was in fact food poisoning (I believe caused by some mayonnaise I’d eaten the day before and probably shouldn’t have eaten). It created an unfortunate link between the Teavivre sample packaging and the illness, so I’ve had difficulties with them since. It’s really hard to convince yourself to taste something when it reminds you of food poisoning, no matter how much you had otherwise been looking forward to it. It’s been months and months and I’m just now finding myself capable of using them again. (Last time I had food poisoning, it ended up being associated with beans. Didn’t touch beans again for the better part of six months.)
It occurs to me that I’ve told you this before…? Let’s just skip all that.
The aroma is quite strong on this one. Very cocoa-y at first, and then as it cools it comes more grain-y and a little malt-y. It’s very pleasant. It has almost all the notes that I like in a Chinese black. We’re just missing a hint of smoke here to make it perfect. But we can’t have everything.
The taste is quite strong as well. I’m wondering if I might have brewed it a little harder than was strictly necessary as I nearly forgot to pour it, but apart from a little extra bite, no harm done. If this had been an Indian or a Ceylon tea, it would have been completely ruined by now. This is why I love Chinese. No fuss.
You can still pick up a great deal of grain-y notes and a lot of cocoa as well. I expect if I hadn’t forgotten it at first, it would have been loaded with cocoa notes. In general this tea strikes me as rather sweet, but I don’t really consider it very malty. I think it’s the cocoa notes that make it sweet and a hint of something along the lines of burnt sugar.
Do you have caramelised almonds for Christmas where you live? They make them with melted sugar in big bowl shaped pans and they’re excellent when bought from a stand on the street, freshlymade and still warm. You can also get them factory made in shops along with all the other sweeties, and I would advise people to stay away from those as they are quite horrid indeed. Smells sickeningly sweet, though, when you walk past a stand. This sweet note reminds me of eating those almonds, the good ones from the man on the street. I want some now. I’ll have to keep an eye out (or a nose out, as you generally smell them before you see them) for a stand.
I’m skipping the queue with this one. I’ll do a queued post later, probably. I think I obtained it from the EU travelling teabox, the teas from which I mysteriously didn’t number and note in my notebook like I normally do. I used all the leaf I had on one enormous pot, which I then decanted into a second pre-warmed pot, so I’ve been drinking this all morning. I’ve had an electrician round this morning to fix a few things on the house. Some sockets that didn’t work and a cable on the outside which originally supplied the out-building that the previous owners tore down. This cable just ended in a plastic bag in the crawl-space under the house and turned out to actually be live! When selling houses in Denmark, it’s mandatory to have an inspector round to go through the house and grade all the faults and things for severity, and you also have an electrician around to inspect the electrical installations. The electrician that inspected here put that cable down as something that needed to be looked at more closely. Why he didn’t say that it needed fixing NOW as it was extremely dangerous is beyond me. I’m fairly certain having live cables just end in a plastic bag like that is probably wildly illegal… Oh well. It’s not live anymore and the electrician can easily just change it back if we decide we want to use it for something.
At any rate, I didn’t know for how long he would need to turn the electricity off for the whole house, hence the jolly big pot of tea made in advance. Provisions, you see! Turns out he only needed to turn it off twice for maybe ten minutes at the time or so, and all the work he had to do took about an hour, but I wasn’t to know that.
So back to the tea.
This is a blend of Darjeeling and Assam, and I can definitely taste the high-grown-ness of the Darjeeling. There’s a whiff of unmistakable flower-y dry grass in here. It’s not actually unpleasant though, like it frequently is for me in a pure Darj, so I imagine that it’s tempered by the Assam. I wouldn’t have guessed Assam myself from the taste, though, but I can definitely tell that there’s something stronger and with more oomph than your average Darjeeling.
All in all, it’s actually a surprisingly pleasant blend. Quite sweet and smooth too. However, it also tastes fairly anonymous. It’s a nice blend to drink while puttering about the house trying to entertain oneself in the morning with something that is vaguely productive but not requiring a lot of light or electricity. It’s not really a blend that invites me to try and analyse the flavour in depth. It merely wants to be drunk.
Okay, I can handle that.
(Also, tea cozy that I got for Christmas last year and hardly ever use appears to be surprisingly effective in combination with a pre-heated China pot. It’s kept the brew suitably warm for nearly two hours now!)
Another Try from the EU travelling teabox. I’ve heard many good things about this blend, but it also contains spearmint, which for me might as well have said ‘toothpaste flavour’. I’m not too keen on spearmint. I have found it tolerable now and then, though. I don’t really mind it in my before bed Sleepytime blend from Celestial Seasonings. Possibly because I generally have that after having cleaned my teeth so my mouth already tastes like toothpaste anyway.
Since it was there in the box, though, I figured now was my only chance to give it a go for myself.
I made a small cup, about half of what I usually make for myself, just in case. It smells strongly of mint, both peppermint and spearmint, but most particularly the latter. There’s something sweet in there as well, probably the vanilla, and it reminds me rather of some kind of minty sweetie or lozenge.
It has a peculiar flavour. I can easily find the vanilla flavouring, somewhere in the middle and surrounded by peppermint. Mint is quite a sweet flavour in itself and so is vanilla, so I’m getting sweetness with sweetness around it and packed in more sweetness. Spearmint is more sharp and threatens to overwhelm the other two at times, but it’s not as toothpaste-y as I had initially feared.
To my surprise I find it’s actually quite pleasant, but I think this one cup is quite enough.
From the queue. To my vast surprise it has transpired that Dinosara actually shared some of this with me two years ago, thereby being my actual real introduction to Tea Palace. It was Scheherazade, however, who sent me something that actually made me look the shop up, so I’ll continue to consider her my gateway to TP. I’m going to post my queue post anyway, even though I’ve had this before, because I went at it like it was completely new to me and… well, I’ve already written it. It’d be silly to waste all those key strokes, wouldn’t it? Seems I largely agree with myself, but I’ve nudged the rating upwards a bit. It was at 83 points before.
Another one from my TP order. I can’t just now remember what is in this blend, but I’m willing to wager that it’s something with vanilla or caramel or both. In fact I’m willing to wager rather a lot. Any takers?
It definitely smells vanilla-y. That’s all I can pick up, really. You could have told me that this was plain vanilla flavoured and from the aroma, I would have believed you.
The flavour is quite lovely. The base tastes a lot like the base for the vanilla toffee treat, with some generic Chinese and some high-grownish tasting Ceylon. And then there’s vanilla again. Unfortunately it has the same sort of slightly disjointed feel to it that the vanilla toffee treat had, where I can pick up both, but they don’t really mesh properly. It doesn’t taste balanced.
As it cools, however, it becomes a lot better. It’s quite vanilla-y now, but I can’t for the life of me work out what else must be in it. There must be something in it that distinguishes it from the plain vanilla flavoured black that they sell, and I can’t really imagine that the only difference is the presence of yellow flowers in this one. Particularly when one knows that these flowers tend to impart little to no flavour at all. From what I understand they are more of a texture thing.
So what’s in here that makes this blend different from just a vanilla flavoured tea? Can it be the base? I’m getting a slightly smoky, grainy note from it now and it’s reminding me strongly of keemun. Could the Chinese part of the base be a keemun? That sounds likely.
I think there’s something else in here as well. Caramel? Could it have both vanilla and caramel? In that case, then what sets it about from the vanilla toffee treat? There’s definitely a caramel-y note here, but that could also just as easily have come from the vanilla. Perhaps the difference really lies in the type of vanilla used? The other vanilla flavoured black that Tea Palace carries is a Madagascan bourbon vanilla. Perhaps this is a different type of vanille?
Or am I just descending into pure guesswork? I think it’s time to look the blend up now.
Okay, so it’s definitely vanilla! I win! What have I won, what did you all wager?
The bit about different types of vanilla was not hte difference, though. My previous guess that it had something to do with the base was correct, though. The description says a blend of the finest single estate teas, but not which ones or the country of origin. I expect many of the high quality Chinese teas that we get are probably single estate as well, or close to it, but there doesn’t seem to be as much emphasis on this when it comes to Chinese teas as there is with Indian and Ceylon teas. Therefore whenever I see ‘single estate’, I think India or Ceylon, not China. Perhaps the keemun-y notes were actually something low-grown. I’ve had a low-grown Ceylon (Galle, I believe) which had a flavour similiar to a standard keemun.
It’s a lovely blend this one. I’m glad I got some of it.
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.)