1313 Tasting Notes
Another Christmas tea? I know it’s a Christmas calendar and all, but come on! Are we going to have to go through Christmas blends on every single bloody base imaginable? In that event this Christmas calendar was rather a waste of money for me, because I don’t generally care much for Christmas blends in general. Too many spices. And as I feel like I’ve mentioned a hundred thousand times all ready since opening the first box of this calendar, I do not care for spices in my drinks. In food, yes. In baked goods, yes. But I do not wish to drink them.
I really do hope that it will turn out they’ve taken advantage of this concept to showcase some of all the nice non-Christmas-y things they’ve got, but so far we’ve had two Christmas blends and a chai in the space of four days, and while I know chai isn’t actually a Christmas blend as such, it’s still a spiced tea which uses a lot of spices commonly associated with Christmas, so it’s close e-bloody-nough.
Anyway, this one has rose petals in it, and it smells like it has been very heavily spiced. In fact it rather… stinks. Well, sorry, but it does. Based on the smell alone, I am not keen. It smells very ginger-y and clove-y too, which isn’t helping any either. Not so much a problem with the cloves as it’s a problem with the ginger. I don’t care for ginger. Which is part of what brought on the above frustrated mini-rant.
I am drinking a cup of ginger-y, clove-y, cinnamon-y, cardamum-y, vaguely orange-y water. There may be green tea in here somewhere, but it’s thoroughly drowned in spices. I don’t even know which spices are in here apart from ginger. I know that must be there, due to the unpleasant burn in my mouth. The rest? No idea. The above is a list of fairly random guesses, because this is spiced to the point where I can just say ‘spicy’ but that’s it. Generic spice and ginger. Can’t say I’m finding this particularly enjoyable. I suppose it’s drinkable, but I find I just don’t want to.
The only upside to this is, at least I shouldn’t encounter it in the calendar again…
December 3rd in my Christmas calendar. I’ve had this one before, but once again it was a bit of a meh choice, although tons better than the first two.
I love vanilla and I’ve learned to like a flavoured rooibos now and then, but I just don’t think rooibos is a very good base for vanilla flavouring, really. Vanilla rooiboses that aren’t just vaguely disappointing are few and far between. There was even one once which was outright vile and tasted like when you accidentally get shampoo in your mouth in the shower. Ick.
This one is on the better end of the scale though. The rooibos isn’t too pencil-shaving-y and the vanilla is heavy but soft and reminds me of custard. Funnily enough, the custard is also something I thought when I posted about it the first time some years ago. Must be true, then.
Back then I gave it 79 points, but I’ve knocked that down some today. Better end of the scale, yes, but not sure I think it’s that high up anymore.
Not sure if this is the one I won in my advent calendar today, but I expect so.
Less than thrilled with the prospect of a chai. It’s not really one of those things that I buy. Or want. Ever. Well, occasionally I’ll dabble a bit, but that’s honestly as far as it goes. I’m just not keen on spicy tea and could happily live without it. I’ve written previously about the traumatic introduction to chai I had as a child via hippie-ish scout leaders who didn’t want to serve boring old unhealthy hot chocolate to children age 8-12 or so who would really much much rather have had a cup of hot chocolate. I know I would. I shan’t repeat the whole thing again, but I can probably find the post if anybody wants me to.
So this one is… oh well. At least it was two satchets rather than a loose sample, so one for me and one for Husband and it’s gone and dealt with.
This one is actually fairly inoffensive. It’s fairly cinnamon-y but seems otherwise pretty mild on the spices which is totally fine with me given as how I mentioned I don’t really want spices in my teacup.
Still, though. I drink it because it’s there, but I can’t say it’s giving me much in the way of pleasure.
Polar opposite experience from the one I had when I stopped into Starbucks on my way home to try that honey almond hot chocolate they have. That one blew my mind. Easily the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. I’ll be having more of that, let me tell you! Are these Christmas specials the same for where you are, or do they adjust the selection to suit the locals? I know we don’t have all the same choices that you get in the regular menu. (There is only one Starbucks in this city, and it’s the second biggest town in the country, so we’re fairly new territory for the chain here. I expect this is probably the reason for the somewhat smaller selection. It’s only been open about a year, I think.)
Merry Christmas! It’s the 1st of December! I’ve opened all my calendars, and we had bit of Christmas fun at work around lunch time. We ordered sandwiches and played a gift game. Do you know this game in your parts of the world? Everybody brings two small presents which are placed in the middle of the table. Then you take turns rolling a die and if you get a six you can choose a present. When all the presents have been claimed from the middle of the table, you set a timer to an unknown amount of minutes and continue the game until the timer dings, only this time when you get a six you steal a present from one of the others. When the game ends you’ve won the presents in front of you. For extra action we used four dice, so there were two cups going round and if you got a double six, hey, steal two presents! If you don’t know this game, I recommend you try it. It’s lots of fun. I won a box of small glass baubles, a bag of boiled sweets and a really ugly but festive Christmas brooch with LED lights in it which I intend to wear on my uniform for the rest of the month.
I nearly forgot to open the most important of my Christmas calendars, the one I bought from AC Perchs. It’s their first year selling a Christmas calendar and they’ve done a smashing job with it design-wise. Obviously, I can’t yet comment on the contents. :)
Today’s tea smells like one of those oranges which has been stuck full of cloves. Also cinnamon. I have to say, I’m not finding that a very good start. I don’t much care for Christmas blends in general (too chai-y) and I’m not finding the smell of this one very attractive. Except maybe the orange bits.
To my surprise, the flavour is very orange-y and not as overwhelmingly spicy as feared. It still tastes like cloves and cinnamon too but not at all in an unbearable amount. The white base comes through on the aftertaste and yes, it does unfortunately have the cucumber-y, courgette-y flavour that I must admit I don’t much care for. I do like to eat both cucumbers and courgettes, but I don’t particularly wish to drink them, thanks.
I wasn’t expecting to like this much when I opened it, but I find it’s actually okay.
I’ve been very keen on nut-flavoured blacks in recent months, so when we ordered from MF, this seemed an obvious choice. I don’t know what kind of nut is in here, but one of them is definitely almond. That marcipan-y note is impossible to miss. Then I expect one of the others is likely hazelnut and the last one probably walnut. Those seem the most likely choices anyway, as they’re so common I reckon any other type of nut would probably be mentioned in more detail. If the French version of the description offers more detail on this, feel free to inform me.
The leaves smell very sweet and almond-y. Husband thought it was quite Christmas-y and I agree with that, because marcipan is closely connected with Christmas in this country. You can have it all year, but I’d wager 50% of the average Dane’s yearly marcipan consumption happens around Christmas. After steeping it smells more hazelnutty and walnutty which fits nicely with my guess of other nuts in this.
The flavour is more sort generally nuts. There’s a sweet hint of marcipan to it, but mostly it’s just generic nut. It doesn’t bother me, though, that I can’t tell the different nuts apart and identify them separately because they come together in a rather well-rounded whole which also suits the base quite nicely. It feels like they’ve used a fairly strong base for this and that’s a good choice, I think. Nut flavoured teas tend to get rather sweet on their own, so a strong base balances it out a bit more.
I’m quite happy with this one. I have to say I find that something of a relief, really, since earlier this year I tried a number of French brand teas which others had found to be the best thing ever and I kept getting a little disappointed by them. I mean they were nice enough, but not all that. It’s good to know that there are still lovely French teas out there for me as well. I used to be very keen on the subtlety of the French blends in general. It’s like French brands blend and flavour to a particular style. My tastes must have changed a bit since then.
I’m in bad need of some house keeping on my Steepster account. My cupboard is so inaccurate at the moment, it’s ridiculous.
Now, yesterday something happened. Try not to envy me too much, Steepsterites, but what happened was that I realised how little flavoured black we had at the moment. Only four kinds! I told Husband and here’s what he said.
“You slacker! You’ve not been pulling your weight around here much, have you?”
Yes, Steepsterites. I actually have a husband who will scold me (mildly) for NOT having ordered enough tea! Like I said, try not to envy me too much. :D
So we discussed requests a bit. Husband wanted more of the Orange Puerh from Nothing But Tea and also something red fruity because he had become quite fond of the Queen of Berries from Tea Palace. Okay, so first stop Nothing But Tea.
They’ve completely redesigned their webshop so it’s much easier to navigate. Hallelujah! It actually happened to me more than once that I came out of that shop thinking I’d placed an order only to discover later that I hadn’t actually. Don’t know how that happened, but it did. This time the order process seemed more straight-forward and they had a number of interesting things, so I chose the 100g pouch of orange puerh and a number of 10g samples. And then, and THEN! I was given one shipping option from the UK to Denmark and it was a whopping £26!!!!!! For a £14.45 order! O.O Steepsterites, I just about keeled over. Lucky me I have English family, so that order has now gone on my Christmas list instead. I’ve also sent them an email asking if that can really be true, because if it is, I just can’t afford to shop there any longer.
That being out of the question, next stop Tea Palace. Turns out their website returned a 404 error and was otherwise non-existant. Cue panic! Had they closed? I hadn’t heard anything and I’d had a newsletter from them in September which didn’t mention any such thing. A bit of snooping around revealed that they had taken their site down last weekend ‘for improvements’ whatever that means and I can only conclude it still wasn’t ready for re-launch.
So goodbye orange puerh and so long queen of berries…
I turned instead towards the Frenchies, and made a small order with Mariage Freres. I was at a point here where I was more than half expecting something to go horribly wrong, so now we’ll just have to wait and see if it ever turns up. I found their website difficult to navigate and ended up asking Husband what his French was like as even with the English version of the site all the tea names were still in French. The fairly simple fruit flavoured ones was easy enough as he knew some of those words and with the four red fruits one even I could make an educated guess. Horrid site to use, though. I wonder if it’s any better if one speaks French…
So now we’re waiting for that.
In the meantime I’m having a cup of this oolong. It’s the first time I’ve tasted it and I bought it because I was looking for darkish, roast-y oolongs at the time. The description said it was nutty and sweet, which are two things that I approve of, and a reviewer on the site said they thought it tasted like pears. I approve of that as well, so while shopping anyway, I got some.
It has a sweet and nutty aroma, definitely. At first when it was warmest, I thought it smelled a little like honey, but this has gone away as the cup has cooled a bit. The flavour is super-nutty too and only moderately sweet, which I suspect is a good thing or it could have gone cloying. I also agree with the person who said pears. Not as strongly as they seemed to have found them, but more of an aftertaste sort of thing along with a wood-y note.
It’s quite nice this.
Here we go again with the infrequent updates. Oh well. If/When I ever get to a period of trying lots of new stuff often, I’ll totally be building another queue.
Anyway, I got this sample with my recent Nannoushan order. I chose it because I don’t think I’ve had this type before, but now that I’ve tasted it, I’m not certain. Now I think perhaps I have but with a different name? There’s just something about it that strikes me as really familiar and I can’t really put my finger on what it could be. I know that loads of Chinese blacks have more than a few characteristics in common and it doesn’t normally make me feel like I must have had it before. This one did though. I got a very distinct feeling of familiarity. Does anybody know of any alternative names? Anglified, maybe?
It’s a very sweet tea. Both in the aroma and the flavour. The aroma has a subtle chocolate-y note to it, but the flavour is very caramel-y. Remember that roasted in muscovado tea that I bought from Yunnan Sourcing? I can’t remember the name of that one right now, but this is how I was hoping that would taste.
This one isn’t particularly grain-y, but it is somewhat wood-y and it’s a quite mild tea. So much so in fact that it probably wasn’t super-suitable for the first cup of the day (YAAAAAAAAAAWN!) but a very pleasant cup even so.
I understand, from questions asked and answered on the discussion board, that this type is sometimes smoked as well. Mine isn’t smoked, but I should like to try a smoked one too some time. I have once had an unsmoked Lapsang Souchong. I wonder if this is what is causing my feeling of having had it before?
We’ve reached the end of the queue!
I suppose that means we’re back to the more sporadic way of posting, then. Okay. I can deal with that, I guess. Maybe. Perhaps I’ll end up sticking to my posting days and build up another queue. We’ll see. It was quite an easy system for me to work with.
Here is another one I got in my recent order from Nannuoshan (which I really must learn to spell. I get confused about the order of o’s and u’s and the amount of n’s involved) and also one that I didn’t feel it was necessary to sample first in order to know I would like it. I’ve had similar to it before, you see.
This is a very chocolate-y tea. Unlike the tan yang which gets cocoa-y but not chocolate-y, this one is completely opposite. Chocolate-y, but not especially cocoa-y. There is a difference between these two. It seems a subtle difference, but once you realise it’s there, you’ll find that chocolate and cocoa are actually very different notes. One is sweet and the other can have more of an astringent touch to it.
Anyway, this one is chocolate-y. More specifically, it reminds me mostly of milk chocolate. In fact, it makes me rather want some. The chocolate note is only right at first, though. It only needs a few minutes of cooling before more notes start developing. The next thing I notice about it is a fruity note in addition to the chocolate. This bring me thoughts round to chocolate raisins.
The next note that emerges, again in only a few minutes of cooling, forms the body of the flavour. Here we have something sort of wooden and pine-y. It’s not really smoky in flavour like pine-y things can often be, but there is a touch to it of just a wee little hint of smoky almost being there.
As it cools even further, the chocolate comes out again. Now that we’ve reached a comfortable sipping temperature, it’s super-chocolate-y and quite sweet.
I would say this was a relatively mild tea. It’s not mild in the way that the flavour is in any shape or form delicate, because there is a lot of flavour in this, but it’s also not really one of those ideal morning pick-me-up teas. (Then again, I also think Keemun is a very strong type of tea while most other people seem to find it a fairly mild type, so what do I know?)
Queued post, written November 3rd 2014
I woke up this morning and knew exactly what I wanted. That doesn’t happen all that often. It’s usually rather a thought requiring process, which is why, when sharing a pot with Husband, I frequently find myself asking what he wants. Eh, that’s not entirely true, actually. It’s more a question of “are you interested in a cup of tea if it’s [type]?” and he usually is, so… Don’t know why I feel the need to ask him really. It’s a bit like at bedtime when the following exchange is common-place.
“Are you amenable to a hot bev?” says he.
“Are you having one?” says I.
“I’ll have one too, then.”
Note, in this house ‘hot bev’ = the cup of herbal we usually drink in bed while reading. Again, I don’t know why I need to ask him. If he wasn’t having one, he wouldn’t be asking me in the first place! Why can’t I just say yes? It’s ridiculous to the point where sometimes I just say, “standard question” instead.
Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent. The point is, this morning I knew precisely which tea to make. I received my parcel from Nannoushan a couple of days ago, but haven’t really touched it due to being poorly. I feel a lot better now. I was quite pathetic on Saturday, but felt more or less back to normal yesterday apart from a great deal of coughing and I see no reason why this should not continue. Time for a most favouritest ever type of tea, and I bought a whole great big pouch of it.
It was lucky, actually, that I hadn’t opened it yet, because as I was walking to the kitchen there was something tickling on my hand. Turned out to be a little spider, so me being me, I had a bit of a squeal, my hand got a bit of a shake and the tea pouch had a bit of a flight across the room… I do not like spiders, especially not when they are sitting on me. shudders
Tea seems no worse for wear though, so I have made myself a cup. I had a look at the brewing recommendations, because even though I usually ignore such things (I know how I like my tea, and it’s not necessarily the same strength they like theirs) it doesn’t mean I don’t look. Can report that the good folks at Nannoushan seem to have a preference similar to mine strengthwise.
Oh! I should point out here that they provide recommendations for two ways of brewing, Western as well as gongfu. That’s pretty nifty.
This smells lovely. There’s a bit of cocoa and a great deal of stone-fruit-y sweetness. Some grain underneath as well, but I’m not finding much in the way of that pseudo-smoke note that I love.
Ah yes, that’s the stuff. And there’s my smidge of smoke too. It’s quite slight in this one, actually. It’s been so long since I’ve had a Tanyang of just about nearly any sort, but I’ve had plenty of Keemun lately, so the funny thing is that only now am I realising how much of a smoother tea Keemun actually is than this one. And I find both to be fairly strong teas. I think it’s because Tanyang doesn’t have that caramel-y touch that Keemuns often have. This tea is more about fruity-sweet than caramel-sweet, but there isn’t too much of it. It’s not something that makes you think ‘ooh peach!’ at the first sip, but if you know what to look for, it’s there.
So the body of the flavour here is stone fruity sweetness, a good deal of cocoa (but not chocolate. Never chocolate) a modest helping of grain and a wee bit of oakyness. It’s lovely. kisses tin
Queued post, written October 19th
I was looking at the All Recent page here on Steepster and suddenly discovered that I fancied some flavoured green tea. I happend to have two satchets of this and so made one for me and one for Husband.
Strawberry and chamomile strikes me as a sort of natural combination of the sort where you think, “why didn’t I think of that???” which is why I bought the two sample satchets in the first place. The green tea base is not even all that important to me here. I want to see if strawberry and chamomile actually play as well together in real life as they do in my head.
Sniffing the satchet before pouring water on tells me that yes, they absolutely do. Aroma-wise anyway. What an ingenious combination! I don’t actually care that much for chamomile on its own, but I’ve come to enjoy it when combined with other flavours. The chamomile with honey and vanilla from Celestial Seasonings, for example, has turned into one of my all time favourite before bed beverages. Right up there with the Sleepytime Vanilla. I’m actually very hard pressed to decide which of the two I like best.
The aroma just when I poured the water on reminded me curiously of watermelon flavoured ice lollies, although the watermelon-y impression was very fleeting. It now smells mostly of strawberries but with a noticable chamomile floral sourness to it. I’m not picking much up in the way of the green base.
I can taste the green tea. I think, actually, that the green tea was responsible for that watermelon-y impression I had briefly when I poured the water on, because I’m getting that again as I sip. Chamomile and strawberry is indeed a very good combination, but I’m not sure it would have worked without the green tea. It’s like the green rounds it all off and stops it from becoming merely a sweet and sour experience.
It’s quite nice. I might get more of it in the future.