1276 Tasting Notes

83
drank Oxford Brew by Jeeves & Jericho
1276 tasting notes

A friend of ours passed away last night following a massive brain hemorrhage.

Steepsterites, please PLEASE look after yourselves and your bodies and PLEASE learn the warning symptoms of stroke and brain hemorrhage. I cannot stress enough how important this is. It can strike like lightning from a clear sky and every single split second counts.

Then toast with me, please.

To Janet.

LiberTEAS

I’m very sorry for your loss.

DaisyChubb

Oh Ang, I’m so sorry to hear that. My deep condolences – to Janet.<3

Fjellrev

I’m really sorry for your loss, Angrboda. :(

Mercuryhime

I’m very sorry about your loss. A toast to Janet.

Lynne-tea

My condolences to you and her family. Thank you for reminding us all of the importance of life and making every second count. This cup is for Janet.

ashmanra

To Janet. To her friends and family. My condolences, and may your memories be a balm.

Hesper June

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. My thoughts go out to you and your friend’s family.

Dinosara

My deepest condolences. To Janet.

Helena

that’s so sad. I’m sorry your friend died.

momo

I’m so sorry, Angrboda. There’s a chain email that sometimes goes around that is actually true, and worthy of paying attention to. If you think someone has had a stroke, when they are conscious: ask them to smile, ask them to hold their arms up, ask them to speak a simple sentence ie, the sky is blue. It’s not an all-encompassing approach but it covers a lot of symptoms of a stroke. Even if someone can do all three, they might still need medical help ASAP, but the information can make it easier for a dispatcher to get an ambulance out sooner too.

Bonnie

Memory Eternal for your friend.
You are so right.
Women especially don’t know the symptoms and they can be different than the ones for men. It’s a good idea to look them up. In case of stroke you have very little time to get help so time is important. There is a book I read called My Stroke of Genius written by a lady brain researcher who was alone and had a stroke and describes what it was like. I had a TIA which is like a stroke but no damage.

Azzrian

I am so very very sorry. To Janet …

Autumn Hearth

My sincerest sympathies. My grandmother died of a stroke, when my older brother was 2, she never got to meet her three granddaughters. Meanwhile her husband out lived her but have dozens of major and minor stokes, as well as three heart attacks, he lost his speech, his mobility and his independence, was no life at all. So the women in our family are very aware of the signs. To Janet.

Dylan Oxford

I’m sorry Ang. To Janet!

Scharp

I am sorry for your loss! I hope things get better. Your warning is heeded. Those are very serious medical conditions.

__Morgana__

Sorry to hear. To Janet!

Rabs

I’m so very sorry. My heart goes out to Janet, her family and loved ones. ::hugs::

ssajami

My condolences. To Janet.

TheTeaFairy

So sad… sorry for your loss. To your friend Janet.

Missy

My condolences. To Janet!

Angrboda

Thank you everybody.

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84

It’s been ages since I’ve had a breakfast blend! I’m relatively familiar with the English Breakfast, less so with the Irish Breakfast, which out of the two I prefer because it’s a little stronger and a little heartier. Scottish Breakfast, however, is new to me, so I’ve been curious about it for some time. It’s the completionist in me. Getting the British Isles rounded of, sort of. (I wonder if there’s a Welsh Breakfast out there somewhere too…?)

Hesper June shared this one with me and her parcel arrived at the same time as a parcel from Auggy did. Lately I’ve taken to keeping unposted about teas on my desk, and I had just got it almost cleared from the TeaSpring order when this happened! Since Auggy in particular went completely ballistic and shared a whole tea shop with me, it seems like, the desk is now littered with tiny tins and I have my work cut out for me here. It makes it very difficult to work out where to start! O.O Exploring the selection a little, however, I found this and thought, ‘Gosh! How ideal!’

I still haven’t got any new Roy Kirkham (I’m working on it) pots, so I found the really rubbish tea-for-one pot in the back of the cupboard and resigned myself to the fact that this pot requires pouring over the sink, while trying not to despair too much about the waste.

Now, according to Hesper June this is a blend of Indian, Ceylon and China teas, which made me sigh, because really, how hard is it to be specific? I get that they don’t want to reveal too much of their secret recipe, but I just want to know which regions we’re dealing with. There are HUGE differences between regions in India alone. But then again, I expect the average consumer doesn’t really care about that level of detail, and likely it wouldn’t mean that much to most of them anyway.

Guess the ingredient it is, then.

Well, from the aroma alone I’m already suspecting the first one and the flavour strengthens that suspicion. I think there must be Darjeeling in here. It has that grassy, spicy aroma and the same sort of grassy flavour to it, along with a certain mineralness. I don’t think it’s very much, though. I can’t find it on every sip, but in the aroma, especially while I was pouring it, it seemed very clear.

Then there’s something quite sweet in the aroma as well. There is the Darjeeling note, in a sort of fleeting way, at the top followed immediately by something floral, and underneath all that is the sweet bit. It smells not like caramel but sort of along those lines. A bit malty and quite heavy too, as if the weight of it made it sink below those other notes. It doesn’t show up so much in the flavour as such, but it stands out in the aftertaste, again as a caramel-esque note. It rather enhances the impression that it’s heavier than the other notes and that I might reach it better when I get closer to the bottom of the cup. I have absolutely nothing to base this on, but get a strong impression that this note is from the Ceylon element.

Now finally, I mentioned a floral note, and here I think we have our China participant. Keemun, I think, which accounts to the malty element of what I imagine to be the Ceylon note and that floral note. You know how Keemuns, dependent on quality and leaf grade, can have either a pseudo-smoky top note or a floral one, or even sometimes both, yes? I tend to prefer the smoky one over the others. The floral element here, however, reminds me strongly of the way a floral Keemun tastes, so I think that’s what it must be.

So Keemun and Darjeeling to give it character, Ceylon to give it body, I think. I can’t really region-guess on the Ceylon, I’m far too inexperienced with that area to do that. I’m puzzled, though, as to why I can’t find any Assam in here. I thought Assam was pretty much a breakfast blend given. Of course me not being able to find it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Me being able to find something doesn’t even mean that it is there.

Now, I don’t much care for Darjeeling at all, so when I first smelled that in the aroma my initial reaction was to be a bit wary, but as it turns out there wasn’t really anything to be afraid of here. Yes, it has the Darjeeling notes that I don’t like, but they are not on their own. In a blend, they get spaced out a bit and complemented by the other ingredients. This way, I find it much more tolerable, so I’m beginning to think my dislike of pure Darjeeling is simply due to an overload of these particular notes. It seems to be going down just fine in a blend.

Daniel Scott

Love this breakdown! I’m always curious to read about what other people have found to be common to certain regions. I’d love to feel like I could pick them out; but I’m sure that I cannot, so I tend to avoid straight tea blends like the plague. I feel like I need far more experience with single types. The one Keemun I have tried indeed had floral notes!

Angrboda

It’s something that comes with experience, I think. I didn’t sit down and learn it, really. It all started with, ‘hey this reminds me of…’ and then I started wondering why it gave me those associations. (But yes, it does help to familiarise oneself with various regions first)

Hesper June

This tea had me slightly puzzled as well.
I just was expecting something of a more hearty nature.
But,was met with this tea,which I thought tasted more like a afternoon blend.
Very good review,you are much more experienced at tasting than I.

Angrboda

Perhaps it’s a breakfast blend for A type people? :p

Hesper June

Perhaps :-)

Auggy

Interesting breakdown! And it is surprising to have a breakfast blend with no Assam. I thought that was standard!

Also, yes, I might have been a wee bit enthusiastic. But I had been holding on to some teas specifically to send to you but I knew I was going to wait until after my LPdT and ATR orders… so you got bits of those, too. I was a bit surprised when I saw how many ended up in the pile, though. I had more new(ish) tea than I thought!

Angrboda

I know! It’s totally puzzling me. And it’s not like there’s anything else equally strong in there instead either. And yet somehow it still worked, although I would agree with Hesper June that it felt more like an afternoon blend.

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89
drank Bi Luo Chun Hong Cha by TeaSpring
1276 tasting notes

I hate c25k with the burning passion of a thousand suns. There I said it. Now let’s move on.

Here’s another Explore China tea, and as some of you may have noticed it’s a Yunnan black.

“Hey, hang on!” I hear some of you exclaim. “You keep saying you don’t care for Yunnan blacks!”

“Yes,” I answer, “that is quite correct. Well spotted! However, there is the odd exception to the rule, and this is it.”

“But you keep saying that Yunnan black tastes like hay and you can spot it mile off!” I hear some of you protesting.

“I can. But not ALL Yunnan black tastes like hay. Most do, but some don’t,” I reply patiently.

“Hmmm…” I hear some of you mutter sceptically. “Ang with a Yunnan black… this cannot end well.”

Well, let’s not turn the whole thing into a screenplay, lest we be forced to act it out. 95% of all Yunnan black teas I seem to come across are the golden type. Those, I do not much care for. Those, I often feel is a mouthful of wet hay. Those, I can only drink and enjoy when in the proper mood (under which circumstances I do find them very enjoyable)

But this stuff is different. This stuff is like being smacked round the head with toffee! I want to say it’s a bit chocolate-y, but that’s not really it. Neither is it properly caramel-y, so fudge or toffee is the closest I can get here. It’s that sort of candy-like sweetness with a touch of malt underneath. Just enough to make it not smell like a sweetie shop and just enough to give it a hint of grain.

I have to say I botched the steeping slightly because I wasn’t using the timer and it went slightly over the time I had expected it to end up at, but I can inform you that the leaves didn’t care. It’s not bitter, it’s not astringent, and it doesn’t even taste particularly strong.

There’s a slightly woody flavour to it, which somehow comes across as a more mature sort of that hay flavour that I normally associate this region with.

It’s also rather more cocoa-y than it was in the aroma and less of the other types of sweets I mentioned. The malt is still there though, just a little bit, and the grain-y aspect is a little less obvious.

I had this tea yesterday as well, three steeps of it. I have to say the third steep wasn’t really all that worth the effort, as it was quite thin in flavour, but it was still fairly nice. I’m quite pleased with this purchase.

And if anybody can explain to me what it is that makes such a huge difference between this Yunnan black (or those dragon balls for that matter) and those other golden ones, the ones that I don’t care for, please do.

Skulleigh

Oh my, C25K… I am going to start that as soon as I am sure the temperature isn’t going to spike back up again. I was halfway doing it about a month ago, and then I just couldn’t take the heat.

As to the Yunnan differences, I have no skills there, sorry.

Angrboda

We’ve been going in the evening or in the morning so we avoided most of the worst heat, but some days were still pretty dire. This morning it was raining, though, which wasn’t really that much of an improvement. We’re on week 3 now.

Dylan Oxford

Can I ask what that is?

Angrboda

c25k? Couch To Five Kilometers. It’s a jogging program for beginners where the difficulty is gradually increased over (I think) nine weeks. At the end of the program you should be capable of jogging five kilometers.

Missy

Interesting concept that c25k. I think it would kill me but interesting. I totally enjoyed the screenplay. :D

Angrboda

It’s killing me and husband won’t allow me to quit. He bikes a lot so he’s in shape, and so far in the program doesn’t even get freaking out of breath, while Certain Others can only wheeze.

alaudacorax

I tried running about ten years’ back (I was never the sporty type even as a youngster), but I gave it up – apart from being hard work, it was so mind-numbingly boring! I’m a naturally fast walker who never gets anywhere very fast because there is always so much to stop and look at, listen to or, even, smell – whether I’m on a city street or out in the countryside. Having to ignore things to keep on running was an absolute torture for me. No way was I going to that for the rest of my life.

Skulleigh

I find it meditative when I’m not sweating to death. Hubs can’t understand why I do it though :D

Angrboda

alaudacorax, I agree! In school my whole week was made if PE got cancelled. I don’t like being out of breath; I find it so unpleasant, and I I don’t like sweating either. Bodily fluids, even my own, ick me out to no end. There are times when this is really very impractical indeed, running being one of them.

Skulleigh, I haven’t reached that point yet. Right now I’m hating it enough that I’m not sure I ever will, but if I do manage to make it all the way through the program I’ll probably try to keep up the habit. Even if I do hate it, it’s good for the body and I don’t really fancy risking the alternative. :)

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87
drank Zhu Hai Jin Ming by TeaSpring
1276 tasting notes

Good morning Steepster.

Following the Tragic Loss of the Roy Kirkham teapot as documented earlier on, I found myself this morning faced with a problem. I don’t work on wednesdays, you see, so these are the days when the RK pot got the most exercise. It held 400 ml, exactly the same as the mugs I prefer to drink from, so it was really great for just one person. Now, though? I have a large pot that I use when sharing with Husband, and we have a middle-sized one that we usually use with rooiboses. What the plock to do now??? O.o

Well, the middle sized one is a bodum press, and since it had just come out of the dishwasher, I temporarily re-purposed it. I’m not keen on the press element, being used to loosely flowing leaves. However, needs must. Needs must.

There will be a new RK pot. Two actually, so that we can share a cup without necessarily having the same tea. When Husband suggests something and I’m not interested in that one, he always immediately adjusts to whatever my suggestion was. He says it doesn’t matter much to him, but it kind of annoys me when I want to give him the one that he wants. So two RK pots. We’ve picked out which ones too. One with garden birds and one with butterflies. Kinda pricy though, and shipping is murder, so it has to wait until the other side of payday. And also for me to get a new passport so that I’ve actually got some valid ID in case I need to pick it up from the post office. (I changed my last name following the wedding, and we’re also having some small adjustment to our address (new house number), so if anybody wants/needs to have their address books updated, please pm or email me)

Anyway, following all that todo with working out how to even make it, I thought that this tea, which Husband didn’t like, would be a good one to have when he’s not at home.

It doesn’t appear to have suffered from the french press method, but I do think I’ve made it stronger this time than the first time. It’s more cocoa-y now in both aroma and flavour, and it has developed some stronger grainy notes in the body. Brewing this one strong suits it very well, I think.

(Oh, and to those of you who saw That Post on the boards, just try to ignore that guy. He pops up from time to time and seems to always drag trouble in his wake. He’s just a troll.)

Roughage

Two new RK teapots? Sounds absolutely splendid. :)

Angrboda

I always wanted a second. Now I have the perfect excuse, plus I may be able to talk Husband into letting me use Wedding Money to pay for at least some of it. :D

Missy

I did wonder with that post if that was the case. We need a sign up, “Please do not feed troll.”

Angrboda

If you feel like some scary reading, I can send you some info on previous troubles, but I don’t really like doing it on his thread and draw even more attention to him that way.

Missy

I’ll take a gander at that. I’ve read a lot of the discussion boards but I may have missed him.

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87
drank Zhu Hai Jin Ming by TeaSpring
1276 tasting notes

wheeze

wheeze

WHEEZE!

We are doing C25K and we’ve had our fourth run this morning. I officially hate it. It’s absolutely horrid and now my legs aren’t working properly anymore, having gone all wobbly, so I’m rewarding myself for having at least made it this far.

This tea is from the Jiang Su province, which is on the East coast of China, North of Shanghai and on the Yellow Sea. It’s south of the Shandong province which is where those Laoshan teas from Verdant are from, and I believe those are the only other teas from this general area that I’ve had before.

According to TeaSpring’s notes, some connoiseurs would name this one the best black tea in the world. Well, in my case that means it has to live up to the Tan Yang, and really, it’s got its work cut out for it there!

The leaves are rather nice looking, and they look exactly like in the picture there, all highlighted in golden brown and twisty. They don’t have a very strong aroma on their own, though, not even after I’ve breathed on them, but I am picking up something that reminds me of sweets. Can’t quite put my finger on what sort of sweets though, but it’s definitely something along those lines.

The aroma after brewing is remarkably sweet, and now I know what it was I couldn’t really place in the dry leaf. It’s caramel. Sugary and caramel-y and there’s a smidge of floral undertones to it, but the sweetness is really what I’m mostly noticing. This? This bodes well!

What a peculiar tea! It tastes nothing like it smells. Where the aroma was largely a thick caramel, the flavour is all cocoa-y. There’s something pseudo-smoky as well, hiding just beneath the surface like a hungry shark, waiting to strike at the unsuspecting drinker.

Apart from the cocoa note, I can tell there are other notes to it, but it’s like they’re all hiding, so I can’t examine them properly. It makes for a fairly complicated cup. We’ve already covered that pseudo-smoky note, and like Auggy has said, it does lead the mind in the general direction of something Keemunesque, but without the heavy grain of the Keemun. There are some grain notes in this as well, but not to the same strength.

This tea tastes a bit like it’s trying to be several things at the same time. It tastes confused and a little shy.

The cocoa note is really what carries it forwards, but there is a very nice aftertaste as well. That’s where the caramel-y tones from the aroma are finally coming in. A good chewy chocolate-y caramel, that’s what the aftertaste feels like. The way the mouth feels coated in flavour and sticky after having eaten one of those. It’s not a very long aftertaste, it doesn’t really last much longer than just the act of swallowing, but flavourwise it’s one of the best aftertastes I’ve come across.

I should have liked the actual flavour to come together a bit more. Right now it’s feeling a little all over the place and disjointed, and if it had come across as a little more compact I would have enjoyed it even more. As it is, though, it is still a very nice black. It’s definitely a suitable reward for having suffered through all that jogging.

Best black tea in the world, though? No. For me that’s still Tan Yang.

ETA: Hmm. Husband didn’t care for this one at all. And instead of just saying so, he suffers through the entire cup, nearly, and only admits it when I ask him what he thought of it. Have put a little Not Suitable For Husbands sticker on the label now and hope in the future he’ll remember that I can’t read minds.

Me? I’m on the second steep now. Same as the first, but a bit thin.

Helena

hmmm… I need a sticker like that except it needs to say Not Suitable for Parents :D

Angrboda

Yeah, at first I just thought it was a shame he didn’t like it because I quite enjoyed it. And then I realised that unless I made a visible note of it, I was very likely to serve it to him again without remembering.

Jillian

I pretty much just assume everything in my stash is Not Suitable for Boyfriends unless it has a ton of sugar in it. ;)

Angrboda

We’re both tea-drinkers although he’s obviously a lot more casual about it than me, so it’s a little more complicated here. :) It’s just as well that I came up with a way to remember what he didn’t like. I spent a long time once having made myself belive that he didn’t like Yunnan for absolutely no reason at all.

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80
drank Wuyi Sacred Lily by Peony Tea S.
1276 tasting notes

So this is in the small pot for just one mug-full. While I was making it, it suddenly occured to me that perhaps I ought to have done the short-steeping before the Western style. When I do it the other way around I often find the short-steep a bit thin in comparison. Oh well.

At the first sip this seems like I’m due for the same wacky experience as last time. It’s giving me an initial association to seafood with lemon, but wait! There is a solid sweetness hovering just underneath. It’s the caramel note, I think. In the large pot that didn’t show up at all at this point, but only came to completely replace the seafood-y lemon once the cup had cooled off some.

It’s as though with a smaller quantity, the flavours are getting compressed together rather than spreading out in neat little categories.

girly scream! OH MY GOD, I JUST NOTICED MY MOST FAVOURITEST AND BELOVED ROY KIRKHAM BONE CHINA POT HAS A FREAKING HUGE CRACK IN IT! I… need to go cry in private for a bit… O.O It’s not just the glaze. It’s cracked all the way through and it’s ten centimeters long. That’s a dead pot. And it was the most favourite one I’ve ever owned. Cute design and little to no drippage at all when pouring. Oh wail! Oh woe!

I shall clean it out and keep it on display before it actually breaks completely. Shall need new RK pot now. Clearly. (Do you think I might be able to persuade Husband that 8 mugs are totally not enough while I’m at it…?)

Gosh, what a dramatic little interlude there. Well, that also puts an end to any potential re-steep of these leaves now. Now that I’ve seen the crack, I can’t ignore it. I really, really, really don’t want it to break completely. While I was in a state of mournful shock, the tea has cooled off a bit further, and is now sort of on the brink between the caramel stage and burnt toast stage. Still following the road map the larger pot laid out, I see. Just, as mentioned, it seems squished a little closer together, making for a more ‘complete’ tasting cup. So the first experience wasn’t just completely bizarre, then. It really is that complicated a flavour profile!

I feel more confident about the rating now, and while I liked it for the most part, the initial seafood and lemon weirdness, I’m sorry, has to knock off a few points. Had it only not had the seafood association, I would have enjoyed a surprise lemon note much more.

Roughage

Yikes, broken favourite pot. That is not good at all. I think your husband, if he has any compassion, should get you a new pot as a replacement and the extra mugs as a way to cheer you up.

Invader Zim

Oh noes!! not the favortite tea pot!

Angrboda

Yes, because the old mugs are in the same series as this pot. :D
I was going to spend some of our wedding money on a second small RK pot anyway, because sometimes we might not want the same thing, and it’s a hassle to make first one cup, clean out the pot and then make the second cup. It’d be much easier to just have his and hers pots. I’ve been snooping about on the Roy Kirkham site trying to decide which pot I want to replace it with. I can get another ‘Please shut the gate’ on Amazon, it seems, if I’m quick, but if I’m keeping this one as a decorative pot, I’d rather have a different design, I think. There are so many cute ones though!

Roughage

You can never have too many tea pots! ;-)

Angrboda

Only not enough space. I got rid of a lot never used ones when we moved, but there are still a good number of pots just kicking about because I couldn’t make myself part with them yet. One of them is an obscenely orange one with the single most drippy spout I have ever seen (to the point where you can’t actually really use it), but it was one of the first gifts Husband ever gave me, so… It stays.

ashmanra

I feel your pain. I have a pot corpse sitting in the corner as a decoration because of a big crack. Sob! I thought about selling the lid on eBay and making an artificial arrangement in the pot, or putting in a liner and adding a hardy indoor plant. Sigh.

Roughage

I suspect that teapots are like books. If it ever reaches the point that you cannot move in your house due the sheer volume of pots/books then that is nature’s way of telling you that it is time to move to a bigger house. ;-)

ashmanra

Roughage: I like the way you think! As it happens, we are nearly run out of houses and home by both books AND tea paraphernalia!

Angrboda

Ashmanra, that sounds like a great idea, planting something in it. This is from tea for one set, so I think it might be too small for that purpose. I might be able to repurpose it, though. Pen cup, perhaps?

Roughage, there’s no such thing as too many books. :)

Tina S.

Oh man, losing favourite tea accessories is the worst! I totally sympathize and am sending huge hugs. <3

Angrboda

Yeah, this one was particularly bad. I bought for myself for my birhtday once, having seen it in the window of a shop and fallen immediately head over heals. How could I not? http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41XtC8iHFtL.SL500_AA300.jpg (The picture is off on the colours though. It’s not this yellow in real life.)

ashmanra

Sure, pens, paperclips, teabags! Bobby pins! It is too cute not to repurpose it!

Autumn Hearth

Sorry to hear that :( No pot is too small for planting succulents, if that’s the direction you would like to go. My gaiwan I got for Mother’s Day cracked the second day I used it, but I have it on display next to my oversized impractical yixing pot, both have dragons on them.

Angrboda

Hmmm. I’ll pass the suggestion on to Husband. He’s the one in charge of plants in this house. (I can kill anything)

Thomas Smith

I turn broken pots or lidless gaiwans into lamps or holders for tealight candles (typically the electric variety, sometimes on timers). Bone china glows nicely when either lit from inside or backlit.

Angrboda

Wouldn’t the heat from the light just aggravate the crack more, though?

It’s difficult to keep these things out of the (sometimes)destructive paths of the cats, so I don’t really feel comfortable with the candle idea. I don’t know where I could safely put it.

Thomas Smith

I use electric ones, as I prefer not to deal with the smell of smoke when they are put out and can stick ‘em anywhere without regard to heat. There’s different brands out there, including ones that turn on or off automatically, making them good night lights that are not very bright at all.

This kind of thing:
http://www.target.com/p/flameless-tea-lights-set-of-12/-/A-11011179#?lnk=sc_qi_detailbutton

Angrboda

Oh, of course! That’s clever. (And cat safe)

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94
drank Sichuan Gongfu by TeaSpring
1276 tasting notes

Actually this post was supposed to be about the Keemun that I bought… But I was writing and completely forgot to pay even the slightest bit of attention to the cup. That’s how well the writing was going! That 750words.com site that Michelle told us about on the boards is AWESOME! It’s doing absolute wonders for my productivity, I can tell you that. Even if it does impede my ability to analyse Keemun, apparently. Three flavourful steeps of the same leaves have gone down without a hitch, though, so it must be pressing a good number of happy buttons. :) But, you’ll have to get THAT post another time.

For now, however, I remembered that I had some notes on this one from the other day lying around. This is one that I had been very much looking forward to since making that most recent TS order. Their description of the tea promises cocoa notes a-plenty and those always tend to go down well in black teas. Interestingly enough, I’ve never had much luck with actual chocolate flavoured teas. For some reason they always tend to fall short on me.

Anyway, this is of course another step in the Explore China program and as the name says, it’s from the Sichuan province which is just north of Yunnan. This does not surprise me, what with the abundance of cocoa notes. Normally I would say that Yunnan teas in generally taste largely of hay to me and I don’t much care for them, but I have had a few which were very cocoa-y and not very hay-y and I would have been fooled completely had I not known beforehand where they came from. Now that I’ve seen this, and I’ve looked at a map of China, I suspect perhaps those were produced in the northern region of Yunnan, not very far from the border?

Anyway, back to the Sichuan.

I was initially a little disappointed by the aroma of the dry leaf, because it didn’t smell of cocoa at all. Not even slightly. It was fruity and spicy and had an undertone of honey. Then I tried breathing on them, though, and there! There was the cocoa! And lots of it too.

Okay! Thus heartened, I proceeded to steep up a pot for sharing. The aroma of the finished tea did have cocoa notes right away, but they were not strong. Quite subtle notes of cocoa with something that just hinted at what I had found in the dry leaf. There was also a sort of wooden note to it all, which may or may not translate to some of that spicyness I found in the dry leaf.

The cocoa really came out in the flavour, though, and it did not disappoint. It was cocoa, mind. Not chocolate. Cocoa is a much rougher sort of flavour than the sweeter, creamier chocolate. I didn’t test the claim that with the addition of milk, you would get something that tasted akin to chocolate milk because I’m not used to adding anything to my tea ever, so I thought that would rather ruin the experience for me. (That sort of thing has never worked for me anyway)

So lots of cocoa, and again the fruity, wood-y, spicy notes underneath it all. I feel that the cocoa is the primary flavour here, but these undertone notes are the most important ones, as they are the ones that carry the whole thing. The cocoa notes alone wouldn’t work. That would just be like a thin cup of cocoa and not very enjoyable. Without these other notes laying the foundation, this tea would be nothing. But with the foundation firmly in place as in this cup here, I got a very enjoyable cup indeed.

I would definitely order this one again, I think. It tastes like the sort of thing one might get addicted to if one is not careful…

gmathis

Good observation about chocolate vs. cocoa. I like both, but there is a distinct difference.

Angrboda

Yes, I’m glad it’s not just me who don’t think they are the same! I tend to like cocoa better, for the more rougher sort of flavour. It gives the tea a little character, I think.

Michelle

I’m glad you like 750 Words!

Angrboda

I have shared it with friends elsewhere. At least one person has gone all enthusiastic too. :D

Michelle

Success! I in turn got it from a friend, so it’s like a chain of love :)

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

okay that site looks really cool.. one day when I have more time to write.. sigh..

thx for sharing Angr

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80
drank Wuyi Sacred Lily by Peony Tea S.
1276 tasting notes

This is the last of the three teas PTS gave me for free as part of the shipping experiment. I don’t think I’ve had this type of oolong before, but I’m not certain. I’ve only got a human brain’s worth of memory to work with and as we all know that can be a rather dodgy piece of equipment sometimes. But to the best of my knowledge, this would be my Sacred Lily debut.

The dry leaf had a rather strong, toasty aroma. It reminded me a little of coal, with some wooden sorts of side-notes. If you take a couple of leaves out in your hand and breathe on them before smelling them, the aroma really comes out in spades.

After steeping it was less intense, though. I found it more like baked goods and a bit of cocoa in the background. But yeah, it did seem a bit more thin, like I heard to search through the steam to find the aroma.

Flavourwise, I’m afraid I felt a little let down. The first note I got out of it was a strong mineral one. Almost like I was actually sucking on a pebble dipped in tea. Along with that there was a strange, slightly tart note which initially made me think of seafood and lemon.

Yes. Seafood and lemon.

How’s that for an O.o experience?

Thankfully, after the tea had cooled off a bit to a more drinkable temperature, this went away, and I got a fairly strong note of caramel for a while. Caramel and cake.

So I thought it was all rescued and all I had to do was let it cool down a bit and then enjoy a cup of caramel-y cake-y oolong.

No. Because as I drank and it cooled off even further, it went away again! It’s like the chameleon of tea, this stuff, constantly changing flavour and confusing me. Once the caramel note had disappeared, the mineral flavour came out again, along with the exact same notes I had found in the dry leaf aroma. Woodenness and a bit of burnt toast.

It seems that to have this tea at it’s very best, one has to let it cool off slightly until it hits that caramel-y cake-y phase and then drink quickly!

That can’t be right. I’ve never had an oolong behave like this before, so there must be some way of ensuring better success. Auggy once worked out that some teas change character when they are brewed in larger or smaller quantities even if the leaf to water ratio is exctly the same. I made this as a large pot to share between the two of us, and I think it might benefit from being made in a smaller quantity.

The husband didn’t seem to really recognise my experience of it, so it may also have been a question of me having simply come across something that were different to my expectations and failed to adjust myself accordingly.

I don’t think I can give it a rating right now. With all this flavour-changing action, it’s really so all over the place that I don’t even know where to begin. It will just have to come later, because I refuse to believe it’s really actually supposed to always behave in this peculiar fashion.

Colour me confused.

Auggy

Seafood and lemon → caramel and cake → Woodenness and burnt toast. o.O That’s quite a tea rollercoaster you had there! Crazy!

Lynne-tea

What a crazy combination of flavours! Very neat leaves =)

Thomas Smith

Sacred Lily is kind of a stretch at a name for Shui Xian / Water Immortal AKA Water Fairy or Narcissus Oolong or Water Lily or Long Life Oolong or Wuyi Cave Oolong… The cultivar is also the progenitor of Dancongs from Fenghuangshan / Phoenix Mountain, though.

Thomas Smith

I also have a lot of issues with Wuyi Yancha and Fenguang Dancong shifting in character pretty dramatically at different volumes even when the ratio and time and temperature are the same. I chock it up to differential in leaf movement (turbulence) and heat retention in larger volumes.

Angrboda

Auggy and Lynne-tea; Yeah, I went all O.o several times during the cup and wondering what on earth was wrong with my tongue!

Thomas Smith; I haven’t had this happen quite so much before. It’s wednesday today though, which is traditionally a Day Of Much Tea since I’m not at work, and it’ll be brewed in my small pot too since it’s not for sharing. I plan to see later today if that gives me a different experience.

Also, Yancha? I feel I ought to know that word… Could you define that for me please? Is it a type of oolong?

DC

Thomas: Sacred Lily is the name for the flower- Narcissus Tazetta from which Shuixian gets its name, sometimes known as Daffodil. A word for word translation would result in quite different translations since shui is water, xian is immortal – notwithstanding the fact that this immortal doesn’t exist in common Chinese folk lore.
As a point of interest- Shuixian (which originates from Jian Ou, North Fujian) that is used for Wuyi Shuixian is actually a distinct cultivar from Fenghuang Shuixian.
Fenghuang Shuixan was actually known as Niao Zui Cha- Beak Tea until 1956 when they decided to change the name- probably for marketing purposes.

Angrboda- Yan Cha is literally translated as tea of the rock or cliff. It is a general term to describe oolong tea from Wuyi shan including Big Red Robe, White Cockscomb etc.
The official definition restricts it to the 70 sqm area within Wuyishan that is known as ‘zheng yan’ or core producing area.

Angrboda

So it’s a geographical sort of term. Like champagne is only produced in the Champagne district, otherwise it’s not champagne… I’m sure I’ve had this explained to me before. Once I saw the explanation it seemed familiar.

I’ll have to get a better map of China so I can look it up! Keeping track of the provinces of China and my recent Explore Outside Fujian order is much easier when I can look up where it is on a map.

Thomas Smith

Thanks for the correction for the separation on Fenghuang Shuixian versus the Shuixian grown in Wuyishan (got the information I used from one of the Heiss’ books and Roy Fong at a workshop, but I’d noticed from photos that growth habit is very different). I take it that Central Fujian Shuixian is closer to the Wuyi form?

K.C. Chen of Bih Lu Gardens in Taiwan has started marketing twisted leaf dark oolongs and red teas supposedly from abandoned growing sites where tea was left unmanaged as Taiwan Yanchas recently. The similarities are pretty much constrained to the leaf shape, oxidation level shown on unfurled leaves, and charcoal roast – they lack the characteristic mineral qualities oolongs from Wuyishan frequently express.

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95
drank Yi Hong Jing Pin A by TeaSpring
1276 tasting notes

Another from my recent ‘Explore China’ TeaSpring order, and it’s from the Hu Bei province, which is in mid-China, just west of Anhui, which is where Keemun comes from.

This one is another one that comes with a LOT of expectations from me. Auggy has had this one and she was very impressed indeed, so that really raises the bar for me as well. Auggy hasn’t been around much in a while, so many of you might not be aware of this, and many who were might have forgotten, but the thing is that when it comes to black Chinese tea, we have discovered ourselves to be taste twins. Or as close to it as it’s possible to get. We like so many of the same ones, and we tend to appreciate pretty much the same qualities in them. So when Auggy gives this stuff 98 points? It seems that it must be almost impossibly good.

The aroma of the leaves were a good start. They were very chocolate-y and had some fruity, raisin-y undertones to them. Perhaps a little leather-y too. Mostly chocolate-y though.

After brewing it seems to be the other way around, with the fruity, raisin-y note in the foreground and the chocolate-y one somewhat in the background.

The flavour, however, is all chocolate-y and raisin-y again. I think it’s about half and half of the two, but the raisin-y bit is simply the one I notice first of the two. On top of it all there is a thin layer of something vaguely floral.

It’s a smooth cup this, and I suspect that the chocolate aspect with start standing out more against the raisin-y note as it continues to cool down.

Yes, Auggy… I can see what you mean.

Auggy

Yay! I feel like I’ve won some sort of award since you like it, too! :)

Angrboda

Don’t you just love that feeling of validation when this sort of stuff happens. I went all nuts when the husband suggested a fruity note was peach-y and it was the same thought that I’d just written about on Steepster.

Auggy

I know! There’s always a level of “am I getting this or am I insane?” so it’s good to have that confirmation that it’s not insanity! (Or if it is, it is shared insanity!)

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85
drank Ying De Hong by TeaSpring
1276 tasting notes

My TeaSpring order has finally arrived! And it wasn’t even opened by Customs, which frankly is a suprise. I really cannot for the life of me see any system to which parcels they check and which they don’t. But anyway, if they had chosen to open this one, it would surely have meant customs fees so I’m certainly not complaining.

This order contained basically nearly every type of black tea on their site, except for Lapsang Souchong and their Bai Lin and some Yunnans. I’m not sure why I didn’t order the Bai Lin as well, actually, but perhaps I ran out of money. Anyway, one of almost every sort. Only one of the handful of different Keemuns, though. There are limits to even my madness.

The purpose of this excersize is to explore other parts of China rather than merely focusing on Fujian and an assortment of Keemuns, so obviously I needed a wide array to choose from, right? Right. innocent grin

Now, as it turns out, I’ve actually had this one before. Three years ago, and I wasn’t super-impressed by it then. This was before I fell in love with Chinese black in general and Fujian in particular, so I suspect I may have a different experience of it now. At the time of ordering I wasn’t aware that I’d had it before. This one is from Guangdong which is just to the south of Fujian, so I’m expecting something similar-ish to that. Although, I only know the geographical location, I have no clue about what the growing conditions are like.

The aroma is quite grainy, slightly cocoa-y and ever so slightly floral. It smells very smooth and inviting, and somewhat similar to Fujian, but rather milder.

Three years ago, I thought this was thin tasting? Really? peers into cup Really? While it is in no way a very strong or very bold tea, this, it certainly isn’t thinly tasting. It’s quite sweet, and slightly grain-y but not very much. I would say it has a wooden note to it, but bizarrely that particular note makes me think more of bamboo than of wood. And when I say bamboo, I mean the processed stuff which is made into things same way as you can make stuff out of wood. (We bought a kitchen knife holder made of bamboo recently, it’s really a very pretty material!) I don’t know anything about what bamboo tastes like though, but that’s the association I get.

Where was I. Sweet and slightly grainy with a note of bamboo. Right. What else is in here?

Like the aroma hinted, it’s a very smooth tea, this. I suspect it’s one of those that you can steep for an eternity with very little damage done. TeaSpring mentions a pepper-y note with a sweet finish, but I can’t really find that. I think their pepper-y note might be the same one that I identify as bamboo. That’s just as well, since pepper-y notes is something I associate with Yunnan, and I’m quite ambivalent about those teas.

I’m definitely enjoying this one more than I did when I had it three years ago. Back then I only thought it worth 71 points, but I will raise that now. It’s also very nice with a piece of wedding cake II. My parents-in-law sent us the rest of the wedding presents that we couldn’t travel with and included a huge piece of the wedding cake that my mother-in-law made for our UK reception. It’s a fruitcake, so it travels excellently. The combination with this tea feels quite decadent.

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Bio

Ang lives with Husband and two kitties, Charm and Luna, in a house not too far from Århus. Apart from drinking tea, she enjoys baking, especially biscuits, reading and jigsaw puzzles. She has recently acquired an interest in cross-stitch and started a rather large project. It remains to be seen whether she has actually bitten off more than she can chew…

Ang prefers black teas and the darker sorts of oolongs. She has to be in the mood for green and white, and she enjoys, but knows little to nothing about, pu-erh.

Her preferences with black teas are the Chinese ones, particularly from Fujian, but also Keemun and just about anything smoky. She occasionally enjoys Yunnans but they’re not favourites. She has taken some time to research Ceylon teas, complete with reference map, and has recently developed some interest in teas from Africa.

She is sceptical about Indian blacks as she generally finds them too astringent and too easy to get wrong. She doesn’t really care for Darjeelings at all. Very high-grown teas are often not favoured.

She likes flavoured teas as well, particularly fruit flavoured ones, but also had an obsession with finding the Perfect Vanilla Flavoured Black and can happily report that this reclusive beast has been spotted in a local teashop near where she works. Any and all vanilla flavoured teas are still highly attractive to her, though. Also nuts and caramel or toffee. Not so much chocolate. It’s a texture thing.

However, she thinks Earl Grey is generally kind of boring. Cinnamon and ginger are also not really a hit, and she’s not very fond of chais. Evil hibiscus is evil. Even in small amounts, and yes, Ang can usually detect hibiscus, mostly by way of the metallic flavour of blood it has.

Ang is not super impressed with rooibos or honeybush on their own. She doesn’t care for either, really, but when they are flavoured, they go usually go down a treat.

Ang used to have a Standard Panel of teas that she tried to always have on hand. She put a lot of thought into defining it and decided what should go on it. It was a great idea on paper, but in practise has been discovered to not really work as well.

Ang tries her best to make a post on Steepster several times a week. She tends to write her posts in advance in a word doc (The Queue) and posting from there. This, she feels, helps her to maintain regularity and stops her from making five posts in three days and then going three weeks without posting anything at all.

Angrboda is almost always open to swapping. Just ask her. Due to the nature of the queue, however, and the fact that it’s some 24 pages long at the moment, it may take a good while from she receives your parcel and until she actually posts about it.

The Formalities

Contact Angrboda by email: [email protected]
Contact Ang on IM on Google chat

Find Ang on…
Steam: Iarnvidia (Or Angrboda. She changed her display name and now is not certain which one to search for. She uses the same picture though, so she is easily recognised)
Goodreads: Angrboda
Livejournal: See website.
Dreamwidth: Ask her

Bio last updated February 2014

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