1320 Tasting Notes
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.
Queued post, written October 19th
I’m running into the same problem with Keemuns now as I have with Lapsang Souchong. It’s so familiar to me at this point, because I like it so much, that I find myself unable to figure out what to write about it. I can’t really write an extensive post on it any longer, because I inevitably end up feeling like I’m repeating myself for the umpteenth time and then I just feel silly. I considered for a while whether I should simply just stop writing about these types all together then, and keep my posts on teas that I’m actually capable of producing something worthwhile (I hope) about. (Whatever it is Husband is watching on his computer (probably Starcraft), it sounds hilarious. He’s in fits of giggles!) But then I thought, that would sort of be cheating, wouldn’t it? So, we’re pressing on!
I tend to brew this one fairly strong, so the flavour gets a bit prickly. It brings out the smoky note quite well though. Even on the resteep there’s a great deal of grainy body to it, although less of the smoke. The first steep has smoke and prickles and life-giving qualities, while the second steep is mild, but not weak, with a grainy body and a great deal of caramel-y sweetness.
I’m sorry, that’s all I can come up with. It’s really hard to approach something with mindfulness when you already know it inside and out…
Queued post, written October 5th 2014
All the time while I was prohibited from acquiring new tea because I was emptying my Yet To Try box, or maybe not all the time but a lot of the time, I really kept finding my thoughts going in an oolong-y direction in general and a Dan Cong-y direction specifically. And I didn’t have one, so I couldn’t get one, so I couldn’t have one.
Now I have one, so I can have one.
I think it’s lighter than other Dancongs I’ve had because some of these leaves actually had a fair bit of green on them. I like a dark type oolong best, so I was a bit disappointed by this initially. I thought it would turn out to be milder than I preferred.
It was also very light in colour when pouring, looking more like a green tea and entirely without any hint of brownish red to be seen. Having now been allowed to develop for a couple of minutes, the colour is darker and more of the brownish red. Good.
It smells just right. A bit rough around the edges, with a good wood note and also a slightly yeasty note of baked goods. As in, it doesn’t actually smell like yeast (that would be bad) but of the sort of baked goods that has yeast in it.
Tastewise, it is a bit mild, but it’s the type of mildness that I should be able to adjust my way out of with a bit more leaf or a little less water. Again, it’s got a prominent wood note and also a fairly sweet tinge to it. It’s actually fairly floral, this. The weird thing is, I don’t actually much like floral teas, but I’m coming to realise that what I don’t like is floral scented teas. Naturally occuring blossom-y notes seem to work much much better for me. In particular one it’s downright pleasant, which isn’t something I thought I’d find myself saying.
Finally I had my cup of dancong. I feel fulfilled now.
I’m running out of queue. There are maybe… 3 posts after this one. I don’t know what I’ll do when the queue is empty. I suppose I’ll have to go back to irregular posting again. I do have some things I haven’t written about and I’ve got an order on the way from Nannuoshan, but trying something for the first time and writing about it demands motivation and focus. Those aren’t things you can plan in advance. Right now I haven’t got very much in the way of motivation and focus, really…
Queued post, written September 24th 2014
This one was a freebie with my YS order. It isn’t one I would have chosen for myself, I don’t think, but since it’s here, I might as well try it.
I tend to have mixed experiences with Yunnan blacks. Some of them are lovely, others just taste far too much like hay for my liking, so in general I find it safer to just avoid them.
“Why then,” I hear you ask, “did you go and order from a place called Yunnan Sourcing? There’s a great big clue in the name right there, you wally!”
“Well,” you hear me answer, “remember that sugar-roasted thing I posted about last time? So interesting! How could I not try some? And since I was there anyway, why not look around a bit? Besides the other two things that I actually ordered were oolongs, so I’m not that much of a wally.”
This though… Hmm. Large amount for a freebie? Sample? Nooo. Not sure how much there is here. Maybe around 30g or so. Big sample, but I’m certainly not complaining.
A strange thing happened when I sniffed the dry leaves. There was only really one note there that I could pick up. I mean, there were other notes as well underneath, but this one note struck me as so peculiar that I couldn’t actually look past it. It reminded me strongly of sweet licorice. I KNOW! Weird, huh? I’ve never had licorice show up as a natural note before, I don’t think. There wasn’t any hay-ish notes that I could find, and licorice or not, I think I would have been able to pick up on that, so that’s a good sign.
After brewing it doesn’t smell like licorice anymore, which frankly makes it even more bizarre that the dry leaf does. I expect at least a little overlap here. Instead it has some weak pu-erh-y notes. Rather than smelling like a pu-erh, it smells sort of like, “this is what I could have been had I been processed differently.” Sweet and borderline mushroom-y, borderline earthy, borderline brothy. There is a bit of hay here, but not super much, which is good. I’m not sure what kind of sweetness I’m detecting. It’s not really caramel-y or cocoa-y, but it’s not malt-y either. I think actually the sweetness is connected to the hay note, it’s just standing out more because the hay is not as hay-y as it could have been. (Ugh, Ang… That doesn’t even make sense! Why do you write such rubbish?)
Let’s just move on to tasting it, shall we? The aroma was quite strong and complicated, so I’m surprised by how mild the taste is. Not weak, mind you, but mild. There’s a difference. There’s plenty of flavour, it’s just not very self-asserting. I’m getting the sweet and smooth part of that hay note again and the actual hay-y bit of it does come through on the aftertaste. I could have lived without that, frankly, but I’m also finding it more tolerable than I have done in the past.
The primary note is peppery and prickly, and it comes out more as the tea cools and develops a bit more. As it get pricklier it also gets more forceful and less mild, although it would still not have been my choice for the first cup if the morning had I known.
This is the second time recently that I’ve had a Yunnan black and had a good experience with it. Perhaps my taste is changing a bit. It will never be able to take the place of Fujian black, but perhaps it’s worth exploring a little further here. I suspect I’m missing out on something or other.