1328 Tasting Notes
NaNoWriMo is well and truly over and I made it with 50,010 words at ten minutes to ten last night. The last two hundred words or so were a bit of a struggle but Husband had told me I wasn’t allowed to go to bed until I was finished, so I pressed on. I’ve been unable to get any sort of a decent lead at all, hovering around par all month. Have a look at my stats page to see how close I’ve been! (http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/angrboda/novels/village-on-the-sand/stats) The validator gave me a little less than my other word counter did, but still enough to win, luckily, because my eyes felt like they were full of sand! I can now, with great relief, go back to only 750 words per day and those don’t even have to be novel-y words. They can be anything. This post, for example, counts.
So let’s celebrate this by drinking something I haven’t tasted before, and I chose this oolong from Fleurdelily and I think I’ve found the correct entry in the database. The bag it was in matches the bag on the picture anyway, so I’ve decided it’s close enough.
I’ve been holding off on this one for a while. Not for anything to do with my expectations of it, whether I was afraid of trying it or whether I expected it to be so awesome it had to be saved for later. The real reason is actually as stupid as this; I liked the bag and didn’t want to take scissors to it. There. How’s that for a silly reason? I steeled myself today, however, and am now giving it a try.
The dry leaf smelled wood-y and a bit leathery. A bit like brand new rawhide footwear. A strange association, footwear, but I chalk it up to the fact that I’m breaking in new winter boots which just happens to be made of a rawhide-like material. I think it’s synthetic actually, but they still have that smell. After steeping it’s more wood-y and not a trace of boot to be found. Instead there is a hint of something floral and a good deal of something toasted. Quite nut-like too.
The flavour surprised me. I’m afraid my very first thought was ‘fish!’ and my second thought was ‘but nice…’ so it was all rather confusing and peculiar. Now that it has been standing and developing for a few minutes, however, the fishyness has gone away and left behind something quite pleasant. It has a relatively strong floral aspect, not something I usually enjoy much, but it’s not so perfume-y and unpleasant here. Underneath that is a wood-y sort of note that is just default oolong flavour to me, and again something kind of toasty as well. The aftertaste has a mineral note to it, but not overwhelmingly so. I’m rather enjoying it, and Husband just shouted from his room that he did too.
Very first order of the agenda here, can we all please agree that the country is called NEpal and that there is no such country as NApal? Thank you. This seems a common error, and some people do it with such consistency that it can’t be a typo. NEpal. (Sorry, but it bothers me. I can usually overlook this sort of thing, but certain mistakes just jars the eye. Same with the whole palate/pallet/palette thing. (Hint, on Steepster I can with 99.9% certainty guarantee that you want ‘palate’))
Secondly, Fleurdelily shared this one with me, and I’ve been slightly afraid to try it. I’ve tried a couple of Nepalese blacks before and found them quite Darjeeling-y. But then I seemed to see a lot of good things said about it on Steepster. Claire even had a discussion board subject. So I decided it must be time to be brave.
The leaf doesn’t look like Darjeeling and it doesn’t really smell like it either, although there is a certain note of that Darjeelingesque grassy floralness.
After brewing it smells quite flora, but not in a sharp, pointy way like Darjeeling. There is a sweet, slightly malty note and also a touch of something that reminds me of raisins and other dried fruits. It’s kind of like a much milder version of Assam, rather than Darjeeling-y.
The Darjeeling-y note is there in the flavour as well, but honestly, I would have been surprised if it wasn’t. It’s not as unpleasant as I find it to be in Darjeeling, though. In Darjeeling it’s sort of stabby and pointy and gives me a funky, sour aftertaste, but there’s none of that here. Again it’s mostly like a milder version of Assam with Darjeeling aspects mixed in.
Dooars! That’s what it reminds me of the most.
If you enjoy this, try if you can find something from the Dooars region, and vice versa. Where Dooars leans more towards Darjeeling than Assam, this is sort of leaning in the opposite direction, but it’s still giving me that same feeling of middle-ness.
It’s not my ideal tea (being not Chinese, really) but I’m enjoying it much more than I had expected I would. Very interesting
This stuff is bagged!
Bagged tea from TeaSpring. Now I’ve seen everything.
Each bag is wrapped in its own little colourful foil satchet, and I’ve seen that from TeaSpring before, but I never suspected there would actually be a bag inside. I thought it was just fairly costly stuff and therefore portion wrapped. I’ve seen that before from TeaSpring. I can’t remember exactly which tea it was, but it was a very special, blessed on an alter sort of ceremonial leaf for a specific sort of occasion. Which I’ve also forgotten what was. I can’t even remember what the type was, but I think it might have been oolong. Anyway, that’s not important for this one. It was just to say that I’ve seen TeaSpring sell portion satchets before.
This one is the last tea from my Explore China order from TeaSpring uh some time ago. This last tin somehow managed to hide among the parcels I received from other, generous Steepsterites and has gone untried.
This tea is from Zheijang, which is on the East coast of China, just north of Fujian. As far as I can tell, in spite of the name, it has little to do with the Long Jing we know as a green tea (Dragonwell). As I understand it, it is made from the same leaves also used to produce Dragonwell, but these have gone through a different preparation and taste nothing at all like Dragonwell.
It’s not really a black tea either. Not as such, because the process is not the same as for black tea. What it actually is is unknown because the producers are keeping it as a closely guarded secret, but it is apparently a reinvention of a method lost for 300 years. (How this is possible is rather beyond me. How can they know if they’re even close to getting it right? It’s not like they can do a direct comparison) It is apparently somewhat similar, but not the same as, the method used for producing pu-erh, so this tea therefore also has some of the same qualities as pu-erh, including the tendency to age well.
At first this smelled like steam-ironing cotton. No really. That smell you get when you release steam from the iron and get a cloud of it in your face. Steam and cloth. Probably especially if you use laundry soap without perfume in it like we do in this house. I swear I even heard that sound the iron makes, the blob and hiss, in my head.
After a moment, this goes away and is replaced by something that reminds me strongly of licorice root. This note first snuck into the ironing cotton note and then gradually took over, as though it was heavier than the steam and needed more time to actually rise from the cup.
There’s something else in the aroma too, something which I can’t really place. A bit like caramel, but not quite. A bit like fruit, but not quite. A bit like something creamy sweet, but not quite. A bit like marzipan, but not quite. I’m sure I know what this smell is, but for the life of me I can’t get any closer than this.
The flavour has a strong note of licorice root and ginseng. So much so that I had to go and check the details to see if there might have been additions made to the leaf. This does not appear to be the case. It is, in fact, not even mentioned anywhere in the company’s notes.
How odd! Me, I don’t understand how they could possibly miss it. And no, it absolutely can’t be contamination carried over from other teas I’ve had today. I don’t even own anything with licorice root or ginseng in it at the moment. (Except the vile Throat Tea, which totally doesn’t count as we only ever touch that one when ill)
I don’t think I’ve ever come across this note naturally occurring before. How interesting. It is definitely licorice root and ginseng, though. With each sip, I’m more certain. I even get a hint of that funny licorice root-y feeling on the soft palate when swallowing.
Underneath the licorice root-y and ginseng-y note there is something that does taste akin to the average pu-erh. It has the same sort of earthy taste, but it’s milder. It’s not as deep and dark, less broth-y. Pu-erh is for me a very strong tea, one that reminds me of caves and dirt and great big holes. This is sort of the same thing, only up in the sunlight.
I’m rambling, aren’t I? These associations that different flavours invoke are fun, but sometimes they rather get in the way of things. It’s easier when all I get is a colour.
So what I’m trying to say is, it’s kind of like a very mild (possibly slightly thin) average pu-erh, with natural notes of licorice root and ginseng.
I don’t much care for licorice root or ginseng in my tea, to be honest. I love licorice, proper Danish licorice which has nothing, nothing I tell you, to do with anise. Anise does not taste like licorice and supposedly licorice flavoured jelly beans are anise flavoured, actually. FYI. Come to Scandinavia and I’ll show you real licorice. And it doesn’t even have to be the salty sort or the salmiakki sort either (although you’re welcome to try those too if you’re feeling brave. Personally I think those two are the best sorts of licorice in the world).
I’m rambling again. What I’m trying to say here is that I otherwise really enjoy licorice flavoured things, but not in tea. For some reason I just don’t feel these days that licorice root and tea go all that well together. (A couple of years ago I was of a vastly different opinion) So these notes in this tea is rather a turn off for me, and will cost some points here.
Bonus points for being interesting though, because it really is! If you are a pu-erh enthusiast, then I would suggest that you try this one out, bags and all, because I think you would find it really interesting.
Steepsterites, when was the last time you got four flavourful steeps out of one traditional teabag full of fannings? I can tell you exactly when the last time that happened to me and that is approximately just about never.
This stuff is holding out quite well, although I’m not going to try and get a fifth cup out of it. The fourth is already on the decline, so I don’t think I would get much out of another go.
Fleurdelily shared this one with me. There were loads of teabags of this one, and I’ve kept a third of them for myself and sent the other two thirds with Husband to work, where he’s enjoying the change of pace from his usual lemon and/or earl grey. I feared that if I didn’t I might never get around to drinking all of them up. I’ve had this a few times now, though, and I can now say that I don’t think I needed have any such fears. It’s really surprisingly enjoyable.
Very broth-y in flavour and reminding me a bit of cooked mushrooms.
I think this was the one that Fleurdelily sent me.
Initially I had a little happy when I saw this, because I like berries in general in tea. I just had the one bag and that turned out to be lucky because when I went to make it, I had not seen that it has hibiscus in it.
I cannot abide hibiscus. It tastes like blood. All metallic and sour. Ew.
At first I had a small suspicion when I poured water on it, and it immediately started bleeding a strong, bright red colour. However, while this is a tell-tale hibiscus sign, I have learned that it’s not the only ingredient to do that.
Not until now when I came to post did I see the truth of the matter.
And even if I hadn’t, I would have found out by the aroma. Let’s just say that this does not smell like any raspberry I am willing to eat. It’s all sour and ugh. Luna the Cat appears to agree. This aroma does not give me very high hopes for the flavour.
No, indeed not. It doesn’t taste like a raspberry I am willing to eat either. It doesn’t taste like raspberry at all! It’s just all sour and hibiscus-y. I can’t drink this without making a face, and trust me, I have tried my very best here.
Which leads me to a bit of a rant, frankly. American blends with berries seem to be loaded with hibiscus nine times out of ten. I have even seen people here on Steepster marvel at the fact that berry-flavoured blends without hibiscus even exist. What’s with all the hibiscus, people? It does not taste like berries! Berries are not sour by definition and not all berries taste the same, so if you take the trouble to actually use berry flavouring alongside the hibiscus, why do you insist on making it taste uniformly tart with hibiscus? Do you even have tongues to taste with?
It is possible to make something berry flavoured without letting it even stand next to a hibiscus flower. As far as I can tell this is largely an American phenomenon (do-doo-dodo-do), and I have never ever seen a European fruit or berry blend that contained hibiscus, while still claiming to be a plain fruit blend. Ever. Never ever ever.
Now I realise that this is a raspberry herbal and that implies that there are different sorts of things in it that aren’t tea. Raspberry leaves and raspberry flavouring, this I expected. But rosehip and hibiscus, just to make it red and tart, oh so very tart indeed, this I don’t understand. Does raspberry not taste sufficiently like raspberry on its own?
So chalk this down as a massive disappointment from someone who has been curious about raspberry leaf for sometime and believed she was going to try it at last. I don’t need to try hibiscus. I know what that tastes like.
I’m sorry, Fleurdelily but this one was just not for me at all. To be frank, even if I had seen that it contained hibiscus, I would probably have tried it out anyway because you never know when something otherwise unpleasant suddenly shows up in just the right combination. I had that experience with rooibos that was sent to me and it completely turned my opinion of rooibos upside-down. Just ask Cteresa. I suppose I’m vaguely hoping that the same thing might happen with hibiscus, but I’m not really super-optimistic about it.
When one woman’s ick is another woman’s nom, it’s awesome that we can share. fleurdelily didn’t care for this one, and although it’s far from my Perfect Vanilla Black, I can guarantee that it will get legs to walk on in this house. :)
Return parcel will follow. Eventually. Please be patient with me…
Fleurdelily sent me a couple of these bags, and also some strawberry ones of the same brand. I’m mentioning those here as well because the packaging of these bags is amazingly attractive. All colourful and with large drawings of the fruits in question. The sort of packaging that says ‘you KNOW I will taste good, because I look so good!’ From the moment I took them out of the box, I was looking forward to trying them.
That happens very rarely for me when I see bagged tea!
I’m having the peach and passionfruit now, and I must say that peach is a funny thing for me. I like peaches to eat and peach-flavoured things in general, but have always avoided it in tea because it is very much a hit and miss flavour for me. I never know what I’ll get with peaches in tea, and there doesn’t seem to exist a middle of the road for me.
Apart from the packaging, I must admit I wasn’t expecting much from a bagged tea in the peach-flavour-liking department, but perhaps it’s the addition of the passionfruit that does it here, because this one is actually quite pleasant. (Could also depend on what sort of base is used, I guess)
I think it has passionflowers as well as passionfruit actually, because there is a fairly floral taste to it, which prevents the peach from getting that nearly cloying flavour that I dislike in peach tea. Ironic really, because I don’t normally care much for floral teas either.
This one tastes quite warm and autumn-y, which is a surprise because I always connect tropical flavours with summer, but there is a sort of spicy note in here which may be the floral aspect or something else entirely that just says autumn. It fits the current grey and wet weather rather nicely.
I’m pleased with this.