1270 Tasting Notes
Merry belated, Steepsterites!
We had English Christmas this year which involved roast turkey dinner, Christmas pudding (Americans, what do you traditionally eat for your Christmas dinner?), lots of presents, Morris dancing in a pub carpark in the village and a pantomime in Ipswich during which I even took part in the shouting and booing (Oh yes I did!), and my bestest best present this year was a Kindle Paperwhite which I’ve been playing with today. I’m still at the stage of learning how to use it, but I have discovered that I can charge the battery using my phone charger and how to download classics for free from Project Gutenberg. And in case anybody was wondering, we were nowhere near any of the flooded areas and had power the entire time.
Before Christmas, however, I received a very sweet Christmas card from Sil who had decided to spoil me with a couple of samples of vanilla flavoured black tea. This is one of them.
It smells very sweet and vanilla-y, but also, I think, a little caramel-y. There is also an aroma as if it has a very powerful base or possibly a slightly smoky base, but I think that might be something to do with what I’ve had in this mug earlier today, so I don’t think it really belongs. (Mind you, it does smell rather like a sort of base that would be lovely with some added flavouring.)
Upon sipping… regards cup suspiciously it does actually seem to have a rather strong base. It tastes very Black Tea. All grain-y and full bodied. It’s a bit Assam-y and the vanilla is also coming out in the same sort of way that it often does on an Assam base, so if this is not Assam, I think it might be something fairly similar. And yes, I know I mentioned something earlier about having had something in this mug earlier this afternoon that may have ‘bled’ aromas into this cup, but I don’t think this experience has anything to do with that previous cup. That one was nothing like any sort of Assam at all, you see.
Anyway it strikes me as something along the lines of a vanilla-flavoured Assam, and I think Assam makes a really good vanilla base and provides a generally good experience. I’m very pleased with this tea.
Oh look, it’s the first unflavoured tea that I’ve seen in this calendar so far! It’s morning, we’re going to England tomorrow, what could be more suitable, then, than English Breakfast? I can’t remember the last time I had a breakfast blend…
There is a very strong Darjeeling-y aroma to this. It smells very VERY much like Darjeeling. heavy sigh It smells rather astringent as well, which is annoying because I used a timer and it’s not even ctc leaf. Underneath all that I’m vaguely detecting something darker which makes me think Assam-y thoughts, but I can’t be certain because of all the Darj. I hope it’s just my nose playing tricks on me.
ACK! Horribly! Bitter! What the h…??? I used a timer! My coughy throat is definitely not liking this, it’s undrinkable. I’m going to make a new cup and set the timer for even less. (2 minutes on a small pot! That has never been too much before with non-ctc! Mind boggles.)
Oh wait. Rinsing out the pot, there’s an awful lot of leaf in there. I must have accidentally added leaf twice. No wonder it turned out so horrid, then. That explains a lot. And my timer-use should be fine. phew!
Right, here we are! Fresh cup. It still smells a bit Darjeeling-y, but Darj-Gone-Wrong isn’t the overpowering note here. I should point out that when I say something smells like Darj it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily in there. It doesn’t even mean that I think it’s in there at this point. It just has some notes in it that reminds me of what I dislike about Darj. Really it could be any high-grown tea. They all do that for me, but I’ve just learned to recognise it as ‘Darj-y’. Mind you, in an English Breakfast blend the inclusion of Darjeeling is not at all unlikely.
Unlike before, when Assam-y notes were just vaguely there in the background, it smells primarily Assam-y now. Thick and malty with a bit of honey and wood to it as well.
Flavourwise, it now seems a bit on the thin side. eyes cup Since when did breakfast blends turn into rocket science??? This is why I prefer Chinese black! I never have these problems with Chinese blacks! I was hoping it was just because it was still too hot to drink, but the problem persists after a bit of cooling. It’s as if there’s a note missing right in the middle and it has been replaced by hot water. This means it doesn’t actually taste like very much.
Highly disappointing, considering how much it smells like Assam, and Assam is not exactly a delicate tea. I really can’t describe what little flavour there is there. It’s just coming across as vaguely tea-like with a Darj-y aftertaste, a bit sour and grassy.
I suppose it’s drinkable, but absolutely nothing to write home about. And immensely disappointing. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought this was out of your average cheapster quality teabag, probably one that had been marked down due to approaching the last sell-by date.
I think in the future this blend will be beefed up by what other good black teas I can find on my shelf. In this form, however… No. Just, no.
December 15th, I think.
Yeah, I’ve given up on following any sort of system here. A cold which is causing me to cough rather a lot and consume my own weight in licorice root tea and lozenges is rather a lot of interference in any sort of Christmas calendar system. Not to mention the fact that we’ll be going to England as well, so it was actually doomed from the beginning. I now have four untried teas from the thing waiting on my desk and a fifth in my cup.
Which is this one. And this is exactly what it says on the bag. Just citrus. Could be anything. It looks like a herbal and it has a lot of lemongrass, so I’ve decided it’s another herbal. So far half the teas in the Christmas calendar have been herbals, which I have to say I’m finding a little disappointing. I mean, I know I’ve been rather interested in herbals lately, but that’s not why I bought the plocking Christmas calendar!
Anyway, this one. I suspect we have to do with a mate, here. There are tiny green leaf bits in between the lemon grass that look kind of mate-y and there’s a funny not-quite-smoky aroma to it as well. I think it’s a mate base.
It mostly tastes like lemon grass, though, and with a sort of roasted kind of note underneath and minty aftertaste. Yes, the evidence is definitely pointing towards a mate base.
It’s nice enough, but honestly nothing very exciting.
Let me preface this by saying that these days when I post on Steepster it is almost always a backlog. Rather than going through spurts of posting a lost and periods of not feeling like writing about tea, I’ve taken to writing all my posts in a Libre Office file and copy/paste them from there, adding a personal note of general update if and when necessary. I’m trying to space them out more or less equally so as to keep up a relatively constant level of activity on the site. Therefore, by the time you actually read this, the box is well on its way through the remainder of the list.
This is the first tea I’m trying out of the EU travelling teabox, the first teabox I’ve even considered participating in since… well, yeah, some of you remember the very first teabox we had on Steepster which was fun to organise but there were some other PITA things about it that rather burned me out on travelling teaboxes in general. I did this one because it was local (ish. Bear with me and my inaccurate use of the word ‘local’ here. You know what I mean), a small chain and not me organising. Furthermore it has emphasis on things that for the most part I can actually buy myself, so I’m treating it as away of introducing myself to things that I didn’t know were available to me.
I’ve taken a fair selection out of it so far for keeps and am going to see if I can try a few of the
others before sending on. This is one that I’m just trying.
It has those little candy hearts in the leaf and it smells rather sweet. I’m wondering if what I’m actually going to get is a cup of pre-sweetened tea which is not a happy prospect for someone who doesn’t like sweetened tea at all. It also smells vaguely citrus-y and a little creamy, and it reminds me a great deal of oranges.
This definitely has some citrus in it, because it tastes a bit like orange. No, not orange, really, more like orange blossoms. It also tastes a fair bit of milk, strangely, which leads me to wonder what those little hearts were actually made of. It’s not as sugar-y sweet as I had feared at all.
I can’t really pick much up about the base of it. It’s all hidden in a cloud of milky fatness.
This will stay quite firmly a ‘try’ and not a ‘take’. I find it a little boring and uninspiring.
This coughing, it’s getting old. And my Christmas calendar posting system has gone completely out of whack. The 13th is a chai blend which I haven’t even got around to trying yet. Fail. And the post about the 14th is also a day late.
Anyway. December 14th.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen this combination before. I’ve discovered that for me rooibos is best when it’s fruit-flavoured so I had a hard time imagining what a nut-flavoured one would be like. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a rooibos flavoured with any sort of nut before. I’m sure they exist, but I’ve never had one. I do have an almond flavoured black tea which is quite nice, so I was never completely worried about this one. In fact, I was rather curious.
Therefore, it was my Before Bed Beverage last night (see, at least I drank it on the correct date!). I tried to make sure to pay attention to what it was like so I could write it down but I must say I failed somewhat in that department.
It had a wonderful aroma. Very marcipan-like indeed. I think the scent of the rooibos actually enhanced the whole marcipan idea in it, because it seems so close.
The flavour wasn’t as overwhelmingly sweet as one could fear from such an aroma, but actually on a well-balanced level of nutty. I found that the nutty flavour actually went really well with the rooibos because it didn’t just temper the flavour notes of plain rooibos that I don’t like. It seemed to cover them entirely with nut and take them out of the equation.
So a rooibos which has had all the unpleasant notes stripped out and replaced with lovely almonds? Yes indeed.
I thought this one was wonderful. I could easily see myself buying more of that (once we get the choice of Before Bed Beverage Blends whittled down somewhat. I’m suddenly finding myself with loads. How did that happen…?)
Today’s offering is a black tea with chocolate and mint. This Christmas calendar is definitely mint-heavy! I haven’t had much luck with chocolate in tea because it doesn’t deliver on the texture side of things, but once in a while somehow it seems to work.
This is not one of those times.
I mean, it’s not the texture thing this time. It’s the fact that it doesn’t actually taste like chocolate at all. I’ve been examining the leaf and I’ve come to the conclusion that they have used cacao husks or something similar to give the chocolate-y flavour, because there aren’t any chocolate bits in it. The thing about that though, is that it doesn’t taste like chocolate. It tastes like cocoa powder. That’s not really the same thing in terms of flavour.
It also doesn’t particularly taste like mint. I don’t know what the deal is with that. Probably I’d be able to tell a difference if I had a version of this without the mint, but at no point while drinking did I think minty thoughts.
That said, though, I found it quite pleasant and drinkable. I couldn’t tell you if there was a change as it cooled because I suddenly discovered my cup to be empty. I expect I must have been thirsty. Husband on the other hand thought it was dreadful, so I guess this bag is one for me to empty alone.
Mustn’t forget the queue! I’m not very good at not forgetting the queue, am I?
Last time I placed an order with Teavivre, I got this as a sample. I actually have a couple of samples here from them that I haven’t tried yet, including a dragon pearl one that I was rather looking forward to at the time when I placed the order. Unfortunately the first time I tried it was about an hour or so before it became very clear to me indeed that I had acquired some sort of food poisoning. I remember it tasting lovely, but it is now linked with illness in a way that makes me unable to really face dragon pearl yet. It’ll come eventually, just… not right now. (Once after having had a food poisoning it took me almost half a year before I could eat beans again)
At least I can do the other samples now. I’ve been sort of avoiding them, because I didn’t really want to have anything to do with the dragon pearl one. I didn’t even want to look at it. I know logically that the tea could not have caused the food poisoning (I’m fairly certain that was some mayonnaise), but it was still the last thing I had before it really started, so… Sometimes the mind is just not very logical at all.
You did not come hear to read about an illness I had months ago. As I said, I got this one as a sample with my order, and I was a little in doubt about it at first. Yunnans can generally swing both ways for me. Sometimes it’s awesome, other times it just tastes like a cup full of wet hay. Sometimes the same batch of a tea can give both these result even in identical brewings. I have, however, found much more luck with dian hong than I have with the golden ones, so eventually I decided to chance it and give it a go. It’s just a sample anyway, so no harm done if it turns out to be another round of straw.
It smells a bit straw-like, but it’s not the dominant note. I can’t really pick up much in the way of pepper which is another thing I associate with Yunnan, but that’s mostly in the golden types. I’m also getting a bit of cocoa and something vaguely fruity. Berry-y. Generic fruit, really.
It does have a fairly characteristic Yunnan flavour, with the straw note, but again it’s not the dominant note. There’s also a fairly grainy note with a faint hint of dark cocoa to it, but the generic fruit-note remains only in the aroma.
It’s quite nice this, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to acquire more of it. I might get some if I were shopping anyway, but it would be unlikely to be the cause of an order.
You’ll probably notice I appear to have skipped the 10th. That’s because the 10th was the wild cherries black tea that I’ve had before, so I thought it was less important to post about that one now. You can look up what I wrote on that one earlier if you like.
This one is one of those fruit ‘herbal teas’ that aren’t actually anything other than a mix of dried fruits and no leaf of any sort. I haven’t had very much luck with those in the past. I’m not really interested in that at all to be honest. I would never actually knowingly buy such a blend. Oh well. Perhaps now when I’ve got a touch of a cold, it’ll actually come in handy. This is not really a time for ‘normal’ teas. They all taste funny right now. I had some of the licorice black this morning and decided that it wasn’t so much about making tea taste like licorice as it was making licorice easier to get down by making it taste like tea.
It has a deceptively tea-like brown colour, but it smells like warm cordial. I don’t actually mind warm cordial, but it’s not a favourite drink really. I prefer my cordial cold. At least it doesn’t have that blood red colour that indicates the presence of the dreaded hibiscus.
I’m still hesitating about tasting it, though. For some reason I just don’t want to. Tough, self. Nothing for it but to get it over with
It’s berry alright. As I thought, a cup of hot cordial, really, only without all the sugar.
I don’t think that there is hibiscus in this, because I can usually detect that even in small amounts, but there is something which comes close to giving me that same experience that hibiscus does. A metallic tang as if there’s blood in it. I saw there were bits of dried pineapple in it, and while pineapple doesn’t taste like that to me at all, I wonder if the tartness of the pineapple is somehow interacting with the berries to create this effect. It’s not as bad as actual hibiscus, but… I don’t think I want to drink this once it starts cooling off.
No, I’m still not at all convinced about these fruit blends. Seems to me they’re generally better eaten rather than steeped.
ETA I was both right and sort of both right and wrong. I definitely didn’t want it as it cooled off, gosh that was horrid! So I was right about that.
As for hibiscus, as it cooled and I poured out the rest of it, it did actually develop that tell-tale hibiscus colour, so the hibiscus-y notes that at first I thought wasn’t hibiscus, probably actually was hibiscus, although it would seem in a quite small amount. So I was wrong that it wasn’t there, but I was right that I can still detect very small amounts and that even very small amounts still causes unpleasantness. I just need to trust my tastebuds there, I guess.
Can’t say I’m super-excited about this. I like a cup of calming herbal tea before bedtime, but mostly because of the ritual and less because of the flavour. Therefore a bedtime blend only elicits a sort of ‘hmm… meh. Ok.’ reaction from me. (Even though I do tend to keep an eye out for something suitable for bedtime. I suspect I’m subconsciously searching for one that is both suitable and nommy and that’s hard to find.) However, I’m whacked and more than ready to be poured into bed, so it’s coming at a suitable time. I’ll just post quickly and be off.
This is largely chamomile and mint. I’m not sure whether it’s peppermint or spearmint or both, though. There are a few violet flowers in there as well, but I don’t know what they are. This Christmas calendar seems to be quite mint-heavy so far. This is the third minty thing in nine days.
For something that smells so very much like mint, is rather controlled. The flavour is just about chamomile and mint in equal measure, although strangely I still seem to be unable to determine what sort of mint it is. I usually tend to find spearmint fairly easy to recognise because it tastes so much like toothpaste. After a bit the chamomile comes out strongly in the aroma as well.
It’s a fairly inoffensive flavour for something with not a small amount of chamomile in it. Not a revalation in flavour, but I’m sure it’ll do the trick.
What makes a Moroccan mint Moroccan? Is it just green tea with peppermint in it? If so, is this actually a kind of Moroccan mint? It only has green tea and mint.
The aroma is quite minty, although tempered by the green tea. The flavour is very minty, but still tempered. It’s not like drinking plain peppermint, but it does feel a little more like green tea flavoured peppermint rather than the other way around.
I don’t really have a lot else to say on the matter. It’s nice enough, but it’s not at all something mind blowing. I think my lucky streak has broken.
(Go on, post. Show up!)