1112 Tasting Notes
How much do I love this one?
Normally I make this with a water temperature of about 90°C, but on a whim today I tried lowering it even further to 80°C. I’m not sure why I did that. It was just one of those things.
I was craving this one today for some reason. My day went a whole lot better than yesterday, and I just figured some truly awesome tea would be a good thing to add to it.
Actually, that’s a lie. It was the vanilla from yesterday, really, that I fancied, but then I decided to do that thing with the temperature and thought it would be better to do that with one I knew inside and out and sideways so that I could really compare the results.
The result is that 80°C is too low for me. The tea seems a bit watery and weakly compared to my usual experience, as if it has not been able to fully develop during steeping. It lacks a lot of creamy-ness that it usually displays so prettily.
Okay, then. That’s useful knowledge. 90°C really is a very good temperature.
I poured a few mouthfuls of this on the table.
Because I missed the cup.
And Charm is trying to make off with the contents of the bin.
It’s been that sort of day, really.
The Yunnans I am most familiar with are the golden ones, so this is a rather new experience for me. I may have had Dian Hong before, but I don’t think I’ve ever had it since learning the Yunnan connection, and I learned that, I expected it to be similar to all the other Yunnan’s I know. As in golden and hay-y.
But as many of you will already know, it is neither. The aroma does have that hay and spice pepper-y note that the golden Yunnans also have, but it’s not quite as grainy as they are. This has a rather more fruity nature I think, and I wonder how it would behave if one were to flavour it. Probably it couldn’t carry just any odd kind of flavouring well, but the idea strikes me as interesting.
The flavour is primarily fruity as well and somewhat astringent. I may have used a wee bit more leaf than was necessary, but it definitely has a fruity note to it. Cocoa-y as well, which isn’t a note I would normally associate with Yunnan at all. That’s more of a Fujian thing. In fact the whole thing strikes me as Yunnan-flavoured Fujian, only stronger and bolder. It has all the elements I love in Fujian black teas topped with Yunnan characteristics.
I know that this has nothing at all to do with Fujian what so ever and that it’s all in my head. But that’s the association that I get, and it gives me a sort of best of both worlds feeling about it.
I’m quite pleased with this one. I’ll have to remember to explore Dian Hong in the future.
I am on an oolong kick this week! Barely had anything else at all than oolongs. This one has been lying around for a while, I think it came from QuiltGuppy
Unfortunately it has been lying next to some fig flavoured stuff, which I haven’t dared try yet, and I thought I detected a vague trace of something figgy or date-y in the aroma of the dry leaves. The dry aroma was not generally very strong though. I had to search for it a bit in order to be able to identify it, but when I did I found it mostly wood-y and slightly cocoa-y. Perhaps just a smidge spicy too, but I can’t really agree with myself on that.
After steeping the aroma is all cocoa. Wall to wall chocolate! With nuts in. It makes me crave Toblerone, really. I’ve never been very experimenting with my Toblerone, but I’ve seen that there is a dark chocolate one, and that’s the one I want now. (Does it still have that honey almondy stuff in it when it’s not milk chocolate?) If I’m hard pressed, I can also find some woodsy undertones to the aroma, but thankfully none of that figgy business.
Flavour is a bit weak here on the first cup. I used rather a lot of leaf, and so the first steep was very short. Probably too short, as I can now tell. Mercuryhime gave me some good advice the other day of the sort that you would have thought I ought to have realised myself many years ago. Why make a whole pot each time? Why not just do a half? That way I can go through a lot more steeps without having to run to the bathroom constantly and also with growing bored with the tea and start wanting something else. The one I use when it’s just myself is one of those tea-for-one sized pots, so half of that pot makes about 250 ml. Suitable amount, I should say. Also gives me a chance to use the cup and saucer that came with the pot. :)
Anyway, as I was saying, the first steep was probably too short because the flavour is not very strong. To my disappointment it’s not so stuffed full of dark chocolate (although I still want some!) as the aroma was, but rather more wooden and earthy. The cocoa is still there, but now it’s taken a back seat to the strong wood note. It’s so wooden that it’s actually giving me a prickly feeling on the tip of the tongue. As the cup cools it becomes increasingly astringent too.
I should hope on further steepings this woodenness will calm down a bit. There is really no call for such aggression. At this point I am not super impressed.
Second steep is much like the first, only with a fuller flavour experience. As there is no real difference to be found, I shan’t document it further.
Auggy shared this one with me. I admit it was a while ago and I have had it a couple of times before, but just haven’t posted about it. I’m using the last of it now, so I have no choice but to write a proper post.
The first thing that struck me when I removed it from the package was the word barley. I thought it was flavouring! I thought it was a pretty odd thing to flavour a tea with, but I’ve seen enough bizarrely flavoured teas in my life that I didn’t consider it further. It isn’t flavoured though. It’s completely naturally occurring notes of grain and corn.
The aroma of it is exactly like corn on the cob. Freshly boiled and with butter. I can see it in my head when I smell it. Such an incredibly strong naturally occurring aroma of something else entirely I don’t think I have encountered before. I wish I had some now. Probably shouldn’t have made this tea right around lunch time, really. I suspect that was a tactical error. Nothing in the house seems good enough now.
The flavour is really difficult to pin-point. It’s definitely grainy, but not so much with the sweet corn as in the aroma. It’s also quite toasty and very oolongy with the shade of earthiness around the edges.
Underneath these somewhat masculine flavour notes, I’m strangely reminded of an average milk oolong. Smooth and thick in texture. If the top notes are a handsome young man, this bottom note is a well-rounded grandmotherly type of the sort that wears a purple dress and curly grey hair. And she will always play and she ALWAYS has sweets. Anyway, apart from this being a tea recommended particularly to people who also enjoyed the milk oolong, I can’t for the life of me see the connection or why the bottom notes remind me of that. Apart perhaps from the texture of it, there’s nothing milky about it. Strange.
So all in all, it’s smooth and soft and with an interesting grain-y finish.
I can totally understand why they call it barley oolong.
Yesterday I had the Clear Jade Orchid and I just keep steeping the same leaves throughout the day. Three cups all in all, the last one I had sort of mid-afternoon-ish and at that point I had to pee constantly. Large cups, these.
Today we’re having another oolong and this time it’s a real genuine chinese Tie Guan Yin. Yes I am aware that all Chinese tea is genuine Chinese tea, but as this came to the household via a chinese colleague of my boyfriend’s who brought it with her when she got to Denmark and then gave him, for some reason, a whole bag of the stuff. We don’t know why but my theory is that he must at some point (he has worked with her before, and then she was home in China for a few months and is now back to work there again.) have told her about me and my interest and that would be the reason why.
My gain, anyway.
This is packed in portion sized samples and it’s in those wrappers where all air has been sucked out of it before sealing. It only says ‘Tie Guan Yin China Tea’ on the wrapper, which is golden, and then it’s got some Chinese characters on it as well. Nothing wtih western letters giving a clue as to brand or similar. I have attempted to take a picture of the wrapper so that you can see, but as the kittens were ‘helping’ me operate the camera… I have included picture links at the bottom. If anybody can read the Chinese writing for me, I would appreciate it. One portion packet seems to go quite well in size with my small teapot, so that’s what we’re going with here. That tiny wrapper held a whole little handful of leaves. Amazing how little space things take up just by having the air sucked out of it.
I actually remembered to smell the leaves before putting them in the pot. They had a rich, thick smell. Sort of dark green and woodsy, which made me think of a forest environment. Deciduous, mostly. I know it’s really fields and plantations, but I rather like the idea that it might be tea growing among a bunch of other plants and trees, and maybe, just maybe, there’s a tiger or a firefox just around the corner…
After steeping it smells more toasty and woodsy, and the colour has changed. It’s more orange now than green. Strangely enough it’s the same orange as the colour of the tea in the cup so that leads me to think that perhaps this particular smell does not actually trigger synesthesia so much as my brain belives it does because it makes the association with what I can see in the cup. It does smell like that colour though, so who knows, really?
There is a strong floral note to the aroma as well. If I close my eyes I picture little white flowers, although I have no idea what sort of flowers they are. I don’t know plants. I think my brain is just inventing some random flowers really.
It has a very full flavour. Just a few sips and my whole mouth is filled with a strong aftertaste. Again it’s got a quite toasted note which I rather like. In spite of the leaves looking very green oolong it gives the flavour a more darkish oolong boost. I’m not really a fan of those very very green oolongs. To me, with those one might as well have gone for a green tea proper instead. I like it when an oolong actually tastes like oolong.
That means woodsy, slightly earthy and toasted flavours. It’s kind of grainy and nutty too. A bit like the ricey aspect of a genmaicha, really. If you picked a genmaicha apart and focused ONLY on the flavour that the popped rice in it imparts, that’s what I’m reminded of.
I’m very pleased with this and would rate it around 85 points. As I don’t know the brand, I’m not going to put an official rating on it though. Others might have other unknown TGY’s and it would just be a mess, I think.
I’m sorry to say that I thought I had already posted about this one, so when I used the last of the leaves this morning to make a cup for me and my better half, I was not paying too much attention to what I was drinking. This is particularly bad because this is one that Ssajami shared with me, and I’m not happy that I can’t write a proper post about it.
So since I can’t give a detailed review of it, I can at least say that there was nothing about it that surprised me. No unusual flavours that made it particularly good or ruined the LS experience.
It was just a nice, smoky tea which made for a very pleasant morning cup. Nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to LS’s but it seemed a good representation fo LS as a type. Very nice.
(I promise to pay more attention in the future)
(Note, this is not so much a post about the way this tea is to drink (awesomesauce) as it is a post about the thought processes it gave me this morning. Feel free to skip the following ramblings)
Om nom nom nom! I love this tea and I could probably buy it again.
Shang Tea gave me excellent customer service the one time I ordered from them and earlier still than that when I had a question. But it just strikes me as so backwards and impractical when I as an international customer have to contact them first by email and then email my order in. At least that’s how I did it the first time, I don’t know if it would still be that way but I have to assume it would. I know it’s silly if that’s how it works for international customers, but I still feeling like I’m imposing.
And not only that, but then I get to cross my fingers that Customs don’t decide to charge me for the package. I realise that they might as well do that on stuff shipped from China, but it has just never happened to me with any other mail than stuff coming from the US. I suspect they’re checking US packages more diligently because people are far more likely to do their internet shopping from the US than from China. Last time I got charged was a package from 52teas with all of three pouches in it. BAM! That tea was suddenly twice as expensive.
So all in all, I’ve got a few American tea shops that I can order from, but I always do it with my hopes up and my fingers crossed… I hope the 52teas Christmas box will make it through the eye of the needle. I’m trying again this year in spite of Danish Postal Service’s major cock-ups last year. And that’s cock-ups plural. Yes, they did the same idiotic thing twice with the same package. And lost one other package and misplaced another one too while they were at it.
So yeah, I’ll be on the lookout for some sort of alternative. To that end I was checking TeaSpring, as I thought they would probably be my most likely candidate of delivering something similar. No such luck, although I have made a note of a few others that caught my interest.
After that I inadvertantly wound up on Nothing But Tea’s website where I accidentally put something in the basket (seriously, I didn’t meant to initially), and then while I was at it anyway, I figured I might as well continue.
So I’ve just placed a rather substantial order that I was not even allowed to make yet (still have one tin and five samples to go). It just happened, I don’t know how! Instead I shall be saving my TeaSpring order for when the requirements of decupboarding have been met.
I think it’s something in the tea that inspired me to do that. I think it’s that thick honeyed sugary note that tastes like the top of a creme brulee that does it. I’ll do anything for a nommy dessert. Nearly.
In the meantime, suggestions for similar alternatives are appreciated. Don’t worry about whether or not the brand is available to me, I’ll figure that out myself. I know some brands that aren’t, but there are many I’ve never checked.
Good morning Steepsterites,
This fine Saturday we are starting out with a gift from Dinosara and it’s another one of those Russian Roulette Brewings. Steep first, look it up second. Consequently my intuition landed me in a spot of trouble as it made me pick a tea which isn’t really a breakfast-suitable tea at all. At least, I would have been more likely to have it in the afternoon.
I was rescued, however, by that fact that once I tasted it, it didn’t seem quite so anachronistic at all. For some reason a tea with fruit and almonds in it manages to work quite well with our ritual weekend pancakes with apple bits in.
The aroma is largely almonds, I think, and then the cranberry underneath that adding a non-descript mahogany coloured fruity aspect to it. Bear in mind though that this is an almond aroma. It does not in any way, shape or form resemble marzipan, for which I am grateful. (I love marzipan, as well as just about any other type of confectionary (nearly) that you can think off, but I rather doubt it would have worked in this particular instance.)
This is one of those tea that does that funny switcheroo thing as it cools down, too. Now that I’m halfway through the cup and it’s heading towards Lukewarm Lane, it’s the cranberries who’s doing the driving and the almonds relocated to the backseat. I quite like it when a flavoured tea does that. It’s like you get the best of both, even if one does wish it could do so while the tea was still slightly warmer.
And that’s just the aroma.
In the flavour (which is a muddly orange, I think because of the almonds) it’s rather more even. I can find almonds and cranberries with equal ease, but I can’t really find the tea base very easily. Can’t be that interesting then, can it?
It’s very smooth and extremely well flavoured. Slightly heavy and super suitable for autumn. Thank you hugely, Dinosara! This was awesome!
Dinosara shared this one with me, and it’s a blind steeping in the sense that I made it first and looked it up to see what was in it after. I’m living dangerously, me! Turns out it was a vanilla flavoured black. You know, I have a suspicion that the lovely Dinosara has been paying attention to my quest for the perfect vanilla black… I must say I whole heartedly approve of this. (It’s such a nommy quest too, because all the ones I’ve been trying have been really good, but just not quite there yet.)
It smells very sweet and vanilla-y. Almost ever so slightly too sweet, but not quite into cloying territory yet. It’s just right on the border of being a bit much. Additionally there is a note of something kind of honey-y and nutty or perhaps more sort of fudge-y or caramel-y. That all sounds very awesome, but somehow it’s just not quite my perfect vanilla black perfect aroma. It lacks a bit of roughness. A bit of that leather-y pod-feeling to it. This all smells too sweet and adorable, and I want my vanilla black to be a bit more of a villain, really.
The flavour is strongly vanilla, but not the honey-y sweet fudge-y flavour from the aroma. This is more in the way of the perfect vanilla black, although still not quite there yet. It has that bit of roughness to it, and it is one of those that taste like tea primarily and the flavouring secondarily and not the other way around. It just doesn’t have that pseudo-coconut-y not that I like in a vanilla black. If it had that, we would be well on our way towards perfection, but I have come to realise that this note is bloody hard to find.