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1053 Tasting Notes
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this tea is chosen based on how easy the tin was to open anhd also because i bloody well deserve some spoiling.
the only reason i’m posting anythung at all is to say i’m going to be quiet and lurky for a little while because i managedto cvut the tip of my right index finger at work so i can’t really use it for anything. this is all typed with one hand and as you can see it’s not really ideal. i don’t have patience for this. but i can still use the mouse so i am around, i just can’t really type much. it’s niot as bad as it sounds only two stitches, it’s just in a reallu impractical place.
Let’s try some new oolong now. Well, new and new, it’s from the same sample box that I’ve had for a few months now. I’ve had Darjeeling oolong before, and I remember I found it somewhat boring and ended up giving it away. That turned out to be a good decision because the recipient really liked it. I seem to recall the phrase ‘a cure for the common cold’ being involved.
So I’m not really getting my hopes up for this one, you understand.
The sample I got was enormous! Seriously big. I think they must have put more in there than they had in the others, because I swear it’s not just all leaf size. The leaves are large, but they’re not that large.
The aroma is oolong-y and darjeeling-y, so no surprises there. There is a grassy sweetness to it and something that promises that almost-mint-y cool sour aftertaste.
There’s a distinctly roasted flavour here, and around it some sour-y grass-y notes ending up in that cool-ish aftertaste I mentioned before. And that’s really it. That’s all there is to it. Try as I might I can’t come up with anything else to say about it.
Once again darjeeling oolong as a type has failed to wow me. It’s not a bad tea at all. There’s nothing wrong with the flavour. It’s just not very interesting.
This is bergamot, red fruit and caramel. As a rule, I’m a fan of red fruit, so I’m feeling positive about this one. I’ve tried this once before where it didn’t go so well so I didn’t rate it then. I’ve been more careful this time. Considering that my Irish Breakfast session was a bit of tea-fail involving a forgotten pot, a cup gone cold and a severe oversteep, so I only really got the half pot it took me to write the post, I’m not sure what I was thinking here. You’d think on days like these I’d be going for something more well-known and less annoying if it goes wrong.
It smells very very nice. Red fruit-y, yes indeed. Cherries or strawberries, I think. Possibly both. There is also a very sweet caramel-y aroma on top of it all, and you sort of have to smell your way through that to get to the fruit notes. It doesn’t smell at all citrus-y this time so it would seem that this takes longer to come out in the aroma. I definitely caught citrus the first time a week ago when I oversteeped it. No red fruits then, though.
Odd flavour. I can pick up all four major notes that are supposed to be there. The red fruit, the bergamot, the caramel and the vanilla. It’s just that I’m not really sure how well I think these things suit each other. Take the red fruit, for example. Red fruit and citrus is good. Red fruit and caramel, I can do that too. Red fruit and vanilla is also nice. Red fruit and citrus and caramel and vanilla is just… odd. A little crowded maybe. That said, I’m not sure you could leave any of them out either. Which would you take out? Wouldn’t the result just be kind of really weakling-y boring? I think it would.
This is a really strange situation of a blend that doesn’t entirely work, but I like that it doesn’t work. And if I like it, then that must mean it works, because something that doesn’t work shouldn’t be very nice or at the most mediocre. But this is definitely better than just mediocre. So it both works and it doesn’t work at all, all at the same time and for the same reasons. It’s paradox tea. It’s probably best to try not to think too much about it.
So what’s the absolute primary note here? The fruit, definitely, with a bit of vanilla to not make it too tart. And just after that there is the caramel. I also have Kusmi’s caramel black, and I think being familiar with that one is an advantage when drinking this. Underneath all that is the bergamot with a slightly dusty bottom mostly on the swallow.
I think I’m liking this, but I haven’t decided yet if I want to buy more of it. It’s not impossible, so I’m putting it on the shopping list. I can always take it off later if I change my mind.
I woke up with an Irish Breakfast craving. Actually what I really wanted was the one from AC Perch’s but then I remembered that I still had this sample that TeaEqualsBliss sent me and it might be better to get that used up. I got a generous sample, so there are still plenty of leaves left.
This one is yummy too though. Not the first Irish Breakfast I’ve ever had, but the first one where I’ve sat down and really paid proper attention to the details of flavour and aroma.
Weird. Yesterday I wasn’t really tired as such, I just couldn’t be bothered. Today, I had an hour over time, I’m really really tired, I’ve found a bagel-place where I can get Dr Pepper (!!! (It’s not impossible that I’ve seen that before and forgotten it, actually)) and I haven’t opened it yet. It’s just standing there looking inviting and yummy.
And what I really want is tea. More specifically, the Dawn from JacquelineM. I don’t know, maybe I had to sort of… prepare myself mentally for it. Whatever it was, I knew for absolute certain that I was going to try it now.
I’ve been really looking forward to this one because all the posts I’ve read about it have reminded me of the beloved Tan Yang from TeaSpring. You know… the one they don’t have anymore! And that was one awesome tea. Seriously.
The leaves look really big and long and to my surprise they smell of chocolate. Not cocoa as I had expected, but real chocolate, all sweet and milky, as if the bag I got the sample in used to contain sweets. After steeping it has this funny sort of smell that I know what is, I just don’t know what it is. But I know I know the smell. It’s sort of like a dark oolong, with some chocolate notes and some fruity notes and something kinda malty. It’s… It’s…. I don’t know what exactly it is, but it is it.
Interesting flavour! It definitely reminds me of the Tan Yang with the initial fruityness and then some cocoa-y chocolate and a touch of… is that smoke??? IT IS!!! Just a touch, but it’s there. Just like in the Tan Yang. Seriously, if I didn’t know better, I would swear it was the same tea. This is really really REALLY good. I’ll savour the sample, and I’m looking forward to seeing if it’ll turn properly smoky on second steep.
I need to check this company out, their shipping policies in particular. If this is available to me, I must have it. (But later.)
Today, I just can’t be bothered. Therefore I’m in a weird situation where I’ve got a sample of Dawn from JacquelineM lying around that I haven’t tried yet, in spite of having (and still do) looked forward to trying it far AAAAAGES since she first offered me a sample. It just deserves more energy and attention than I’m currently capable of giving it.
So obviously I’m in need of tea. Good tea. Awesome tea. Tried, tested and true tea. When in doubt, go smoky.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I should go and do something else.
JacquelineM inspired me to try this one, which I think is the last of the Kusmi sampler that I haven’t tried yet.
This stuff smells awesome! It’s mildly spicy and very fruity, and it’s not even citrus-fruity, it smells much sweeter. I think that must be the vanilla. All together it smells, bizarrely, a bit like Dr Pepper. (Stop laughing, it does!) After steeping the Dr Pepper smell goes away and it’s mainly a mild spicyness and some fruity sweetness which has taken on a more citrus-y aspect.
Hey, this is really nice! It’s slightly spicy and clove-y just in the beginning but then when I swallow the citrus sort of gently comes out and spreads over my mouth. It’s almost a little tingly. I’m not sure where the vanilla is but I think it’s hiding behind the cloves and being a little shy.
This is not something that knocks me off my feet with wow-ness, but it’s definitely something that I could see myself reaching for again and again, and I believe this may end up in a tin purchase.
Now I’ll just have to try the St Petersburg again and get it right, but so far, I believe this one is my favourite of the five. It’s very nice.
I keep seeing Gunpowder being described as being smoky. I don’t get it. I can’t for the life of me find any smoke in it at all. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nichts.
In the aroma of the dry leaves I kind pick something up that I think must be what some are interpreting as smoke, but to me it isn’t smoke. To me it’s more plant-y hay-y. No sign of smoke in the steeped tea aroma either.
I have brewed this really really carefully, and still all I can find is slightly butter-y vegetableness with a fair amount of astringency. Mind you, my gunpowder is old and of a fairly low quality, but I cannot find smoke anywhere in the flavour. I wouldn’t be able to find smokyness in this if my life depended on it.
I just don’t get it. How do you get it to be smoky???
Moving right along, here we have something citrus-y. Looks like Russian = Citrus, preferably bergamot in Kusmi-Land.
Okay, I’m beginning to develop a linking for citrus. Still not an Earl Grey fan as such though, but none of these are plain Earl Greys which I think may be what makes the difference.
This one is kind of mild. There’s the heavy bergamot on the bottom but it’s not very pronounced at first. On top there are the other citrus flavours, and they are really what is holding the flavour up.
As the cup cools the bergamot comes out more and the other citrus flavours take a step back, so it’s kind of a double feature this one.
I quite like it.
Tin liberation! Yay! Second tin freed in two days.
Good morning Steepsterites.
I made this extra strong this morning (so as to use the rest of the leaves), added some of Adagio’s cinnamon and a good splash of milk.
I must be sleepier than I thought because when I took the first sip, I was honestly surprised to discover it wasn’t coffee…
Also, I’ve docked a lot of points from this one. It’s time to stop kidding myself. I just really really wanted to like it better than I actually did, and I was trying to convince myself that I did by cheating the brain with more points than it was worth. Obviously, it didn’t really work.
JacquelineM sent me a sample of this, and I have to say I’m a little bit scared of it. If it’s not awesome, I think I might in fact cry. When asked, I requested a sample because this sounds like it might be in the same fruity category as the Unmentionable Raspberry Oolong of Awesomeness from AC Perch’s, and the base for this one is a favourite too. I’ve been terribly curious about it, but hadn’t got around to buying some myself. So I figured I’d ask for a sample and if I liked it, I could buy some for myself.
Okay. Then, in came 52teas the other day and gave me a free shipping coupon code for my birthday. I’m not actually allowed to buy more tea until I’ve got through some of the stuff I’ve got, but since he was so nice and stuff, it would rude of me to not take advantage of it, right? Right. So I ordered some fruity stuff, this one included.
So now I feel a little bad for asking for a sample and buying it before even getting the sample. And what if I don’t like it? Then I can sit here and wait for an order containing something I already know I don’t like!
ARGH! This is very confusing!
Anyway, there’s only one way to settle all these fears and that’s by making a cup, so that’s what I’ve done. (Also, having just liberated a tin from a mediocre chai concoction, I need something like this to un-sticky-fy my mouth.)
The leaves smell very sweet and fruity. Like ice cream! I feel calmer about the whole thing now. After steeping the aroma is more tea than fruit. I can clearly pick up the base tea here, with the black currant tartiness being a little more controlled. It does indeed remind me a lot of the raspberry oolong.
Oh yes. Oh my Ceiling Cat. Oh YES! This is the stuff. Oh yes oh yes oh yes.
It’s like taking a handful of berries in your mouth and then when you eat them they all have different degrees of ripeness. Some are tartier and some are sweeter and what you get is a sort of mix of this.
That’s what I’m getting on this here. One sip contains the nutty base of the white tea and some sweetness and some tartness and some inbetweenness and everything at the same time. It’s sweet and summerly and I feel almost guilty for having it now when it’s not yet really summer.
It’s totally worth all the initial emo-ing about it. I own this AND the raspberry oolong. I feel pretty darn rich!
A&D ARE IN DA HOUSE!!! Sorry JacquelineM we’ll have to wait a little bitty while longer for your package.
Anyway, this is a company with very reasonable international shipping rates (about $11 world-wide flat rate) and I just WISH I’d found out about that sooner. It took Auggy sharing a sample of the awesome Caravan with me to make me desperate enough to go have a look. Now I’m sad that I missed out on the others series. Jackee Muntz and Thomas Sampson in particular. Oh well. I guess we can’t have everything.
This is going to be interesting. I have high expectations of this company, maybe to the point of foolishness considering that I have only tried the Caravan and since that was a smoky, I was predisposed to love it.
This Earl Grey business is another kettle of fish. I’m not really an Earl Grey fan. There are some that I have liked a lot (Kusmi’s Smoky Earl Grey is great for example), but it’s not a type I would generally go for myself. The Bergamot can easily become bitter and dusty for me. I did consider seeing if I could get someone to split a set with me so I got the Caravan and they got this one, but then I got greedy and wanted it all for myself.
The aroma of the dry leaves is very bergamot-y but not overwhelmingly so. This is a good thing. Clear bergamot, but not a promise of dusty bitterness. After steeping it’s the same. The bergamot aroma is very clear, but I can’t really pick up the tea. Just bergamot.
Hmmm… I’m in doubt, Steepsterites. Flavour here seems to be twofold. There is a fresh sort of sparkly flavour just at first. It’s familiar but I can’t really place it. Some kind of sweet citrus-y thing, I think. Without it being truly citrus-y at the same time. It just there for a brief, brief moment and then it’s all bergamot. Heavy, dusty and borderline bitter on the soft palate(*).
I like the little pang-flavour there at the beginning, although it because more and more difficult to find as I drink, as the heavy bergamot lingers in the aftertaste and drowns it out. The aftertaste is pleasant though. The heavyness goes away quickly and it leaves this citrus-y remnant that makes my mouth feel fresh and gives the tea a sort of summer-y image.
Considering the fact that I’m not an Earl Grey fan, I would say, “Yes, this is indeed a damn fine tea.”
(*) Note I said ‘palate’ there. Not palette, which is something a painter uses to mix paints on.
That bouquet of flowers thing was vile!
Give me something better. Something I know what is. Something I can trust.
Staying brand-loyal though. You can’t beat a smoky. I’ve met smokies that were better than other smokies, but I can’t recall ever having come across one that wasn’t good.
I wish my postman would fill out the ‘from’ field when he gives me that little notice about a package to pick up on the post office. There’s one there now, waiting for me to pick it up on saturday. It’s either my Series 3 from Andrews & Dunham or it’s a package from JacquelineM, and I’d quite like to know which. Sorry, JacquelineM, but I’m hoping for the former here, because if it’s yours, then I’ll have to start getting concerned about the A&D.
In the meantime, another Kusmi sample. I’m a little concerned about this one. The leaves… They smell of soap. And lavender. I like lavender. As, you know, a flower. Or as an essential oil to help me sleep if I’m having trouble in that department. I don’t have that good experiences with drinking it. I think I’ve had an Earl Grey with lavender in it once which I sort of liked, but that one didn’t smell of soap!
After steeping, the aroma is less soap-y and more citrus-y, but still very very very grandmother-y. Yes, that it. Grandma perfumes and cleaning agents.
Earl Grey gone girly. There is definitely bergamot-y dusty notes here underneath all the grandma-ness. There is sooooo much perfume-y flower-y badness here. It’s so bad I can’t even come up with another way of describing it. It’s so bad I’ve become like record with a scratch in it. Perfume! Grandma! Perfume! Grandma! Perfume! Grandma! Perfume! Grandma!
Ew. I’m dumping this.
I AM SUCH A SPOILED SPOILED SPOILED PERSON, I’M JUST SAYING! flails
Had to get that out of my system. :p
Also from the Kusmi sampler pack we have this one, which has citrus and caramel. Funny sort of combination. Not one I would have been able to come up with on my own.
Totally caught up in the being spoiled and in having strawberries with milk for dessert, I forgot to pay attention to leaf smell and predictably to steeping time. So I don’t know if this post will be entirely accurate.
It does smell like some sort of citrus flavoured caramel. It’s kind of weird and kind of natural at the same time. The two smells merge quite well, the citrus taking some of the heaviness out of the caramel.
Tastewise, there’s definitely some oversteep damage here. There’s a bitterness to the swallow that I’m sure is not supposed to be there. A bit like a mix of soap and overcooked bergamot.
So I’m not going to give it any points yet. I want to try it properly first, but given the aroma, I’m feeling pretty hopeful about this one.
This year’s gift to myself was the Kusmi sample set of russian blends and this cup http://www.roykirkham.co.uk/images/images/m/577.jpg which is the same series as my favouritest ever teapot. I love how it’s standing there all full of tea and baaa-ing at me.
Anyway, this is the first one out of the sample set, chosen by ippy-dippy.
My nasal membranes are dried out today. I can’t figure out if I’m on the verge of a cold or something or not, but they definitely aren’t working, so I didn’t get much out of smelling the dry leaves. I could smell them, but not well enough to tell anything beyond ‘citrus’ and after a while it just started to feel weird in the nose.
Enough about my health, you’re not interested in that. Let’s just skip to the part where smelling the steam coming off the cup of finished tea went much much better. It’s definitely citrus-y. Primarily bergamot with the others coming in on top. Like Earl Grey With Friends.
I was expecting sweet citrus, but this isn’t really it. Again, the bergamot is in the forefront and it’s got that slightly bitter bite to it. I’m glad the other citruses are there too because without them I’m not sure I’d have liked this as much. As it is, it’s nice but not a favourite. Maybe it’ll change later. It’s been known to happen that I completely fall in love with something I initially didn’t think that much of. The much beloved Tan Yang being a good example of this.
I do wish it was sweeter though, so I tried adding some cane sugar. Didn’t work either. Oh it’s sweeter alright, but not in the right way. The sugar doesn’t really merge with the citrus flavours like I wanted it to. The tea flavour is unchanged and then the sugar sweetness is there sort of next to it.
This is an enjoyable blend, but I’ll keep looking for a favourite, I think.
First tea of the morning. How decadent!
I’m allowed decadent today though, since it’s the first day with a new age. I’m also supposed to have cake for breakfast, but I don’t have any cake handy so I’m skipping that. :) I can’t be bothered to go get some.
A while ago I had a bag of something or other where I concluded that I just wasn’t really all that fond of coconut in tea. Taking this one out now really confuses me on that point now, because I like this one and it’s very little else than coconut! How does that work? I don’t understand it.
Okay, it is a bit decadent first thing in the morning… A bit too decadent actually. I think I’ll have a more… you know… sensible one after this.
Nom nom nommity nom.
Did I mention nom?
Half my normal steeping time seems to be the secret here.
I hope everything went through properly with A&D because this is the last of the sample Auggy sent me.
It’s yummy, now that I’ve figured out where the funny strawberry-y side-flavour came from. Cup not rinsed properly after having been used for something else. It kind of worked, but I do prefer it ‘pure’.
Didn’t do anything for my headache though. Can this hectic month of constant socialness be over soon, please?
The other tea I bought in Paris!
It’s not actually the first time I’ve had it since then, but now I sort of have the semi-energy to post about it.
I have come to trust Auggy’s taste in tea implicitly. Seriously, our tea tastes are so similar it’s amazing, so when I saw her posting about this a little while before I went on holiday, I immediately added it to the list of stuff to look for. Thanks for that, Auggy.
I had a caramel tea from Luka before and it had little caramel bits in it. This one doesn’t and it’s not really the same kind of tea at all. Luka’s caramel black had a sort of creamy taste, (as I recall anyway) where as this is more tea-y with a flavour of caramel than caramel-y with a flavour of tea.
I like that.
This one is also making me want to explore this brand a bit more. Hmmm… Yes…
I love smokies. I love the way they prickle on the tongue and the surprise of sweetness that shows up on the swallow. Sometimes a lot sometimes just a hint.
I love Tie Guan Yin. I love the almost floral freshness of them, the lovely green colour of the leaves and the lightheartedness of the flavour.
Smoky + Tie Guan Yin = ?
What could possibly go wrong here?
Well, I am about to find out, as Cait happened to be in possesion of some and very kindly offered to send me a sample of it when I expressed my curiosity.
The leaves have darkened so they look like an oolong from the darker end of the spectrum. They smell very oolong-y and grass-y, but not really smoky as such. It’s definitely not a ‘normal’ oolong smell, but it’s not really smoke either. It’s more like… a touch of smoke. The memory of smoke. If I search really hard in the aroma, I can find real smoke, but the grass-y oolong-y parts of the aroma are just so strong and insist on being in the foreground at all times.
Tea-making not being an exact science, I think I gave it a slightly longer steep here than what is strictly necessary, so that may account for the appearance. It looks a bit more reddish brown than the regular Tie Guan Yin. The aroma is very oolong-y but with a crisp sort of bite to it. Again, not really smoke. More like… toast. There’s something very fruity here too. Sweet apple-y. Interesting. I’ve never found that in a Tie Guan Yin before.
Oh my ceiling cat!
First sip made me really widen my eyes in wonder. This tea must have gold dust in it, that’s how good it is. It’s not smoky as we know our regular smokies. It doesn’t have that same bite, not at first. At first it’s more toasted than smoky and then the smoke shows up on the swallow. That’s so backwards!
This actually reminds me quite strongly of Genmaichas. There is the same sort of nutty toastedness in it. That apple from the aroma is a bit harder to find but if the tea isn’t too terribly hot, there’s a touch of it for a brief moment when it first hits the tongue.
I’ve got enough leaves for one more pot, but I’ll have to check the vendor because I can’t remember now if they were one of the places to have reasonable shipping to Europe or not. If they do, I will without a doubt need more of this.