1154 Tasting Notes
I’ve come over all meh and tired and stuff. Started quite suddenly last night with low-level headache, chills and sleepyness. I wonder if I’m nipping something in the bud. Clearly the best course of action under these circumstances is to have another cup of tea (and attempt to NOT play Bejeweled for six hours straight), and since I paid ransom to Tax and Customs on my 52teas order yesterday, it seemed a good place to start.
We’ve bought the cranberry black from AC Perch’s recently and I’m really pleased with that one, so making a comparison with this one seems impossible to avoid. I was sniffing the dry leaves of each side by side and the 52teas one definitely smells like it’s much more strongly flavoured. I thought the ACP had a pretty pleasant level of flavouring so on the dry aroma alone, I prefer that one, I think. This one is a bit too forceful and there’s a funny screaming pink and dusty teal side note that reminds me of bubblegum.
After steeping it still smells pretty strongly flavoured and bubblegum-ish. I could probably identify it as cranberry in a blind test, but it smells like there’s more to it than that. It’s that dusty teal note again. I’m not sure what it is, but it reminds me weirdly of Earl Grey (that can’t be right!) or some such. I’m pretty certain these leaves have never even seen bergamot, though… At this point I can no longer compare it with ACP other than from memory, but I can’t recall if this funny note also showed up in that one. If it did, then it must be some sort of quality of the cranberry itself, but mostly I’m inclined to believe that it has to do with the differences in the strength of flavouring and the differences in the base. I can’t remember what the base is on either one, but I seem to recall Frank having mentioned once that his black base is often Nilgiri (although I can’t remember where I saw that and may in fact have made it up) and I’m pretty certain that ACP is either something Chinese or Ceylon or a blend of both.
As mentioned, I thought ACP had a level of flavouring that was just right for me. Not too little and not too much. Clearly fruity but also with a detectable tea flavour underneath it. This one is definitely far more fruity, and there it is again, that teal note! Where is that coming from??? Anyway, strongly fruit flavoured and yes, definitely cranberry-ish with a sort of tangy sweetness. I still think there’s something citrus-y going on here as well, and I’m having a sudden overwhelming urge to try and do up some sort of orange and cranberry combination, now that’s I’ve got an abundance of both available to me.
This is definitely a pleasant tea and as usual I once again find myself preferring the fruity blends over the more outlandish ones that 52teas sell, but all in all, I do prefer the fruity blends to be either green or white, I think. Those really seem to be my favourites of all. For a cranberry flavoured black in particular, I think I prefer ACP over this one, although this is definitely also a good one.
The dry leaves have a strong orangey aroma which reminds me rather a lot of the orange pu-erh from Nothing But Tea, which I’m very fond of. That one currently holds the place of my ideal orange tea, so I find this aroma quite assuring. But it is very strong indeed. So strong that I actually had a small coughing fit because the sheer strength of the aroma tickled my throat so much.
I wasn’t looking specifically for anything orange flavoured when I bought this. It was partly based on aforementioned orange pu-erh, yes, but mostly it was because I was getting a generally wide selection of fruity teas and I thought I might as well include it. I actually got a couple of things that I probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise on that occasion. I think, with this order, I’ve now bought every single fruity black that AC Perch’s has to offer at one point or another (there are some that I’ve had before and didn’t stock up on), except for the more fanciful blends with more than one flavouring ingredient and also excepting the many different varieties of Earl Grey that they have.
Anyway. After steeping the aroma is a more tolerable level of orange intensity, although it’s still pretty overwhelming. I can’t find anything of the base tea underneath and I wonder about the wisdom of choosing a Chinese black as the base rather than a Ceylon. I wonder if maybe a Ceylon would have been better able to hold it’s own against the flavouring. Or perhaps that’s all just because I’m used to the significantly stronger pu-erh base. I really mustn’t compare with that one, it’s completely unfair. It’s hard not to, though.
The colour of the tea is quite dark and you know what? On the first sip, it is similar to the orange pu-erh! It’s a bit less of a murky flavour but it’s the same sort of orange. The flavouring is very strong and the base isn’t really coming to it’s right, and this is the only real difference between this and the orange pu-erh.
It’s a good alternative to the orange pu-erh in a pinch, but I do prefer the pu-erh to this one, mainly because the base is more assertive in that one. In the meantime, I think I shall rather enjoy this one.
In amusing news the Steepster blog post from January last year showed up in my Google Reader this morning.
First time I made this, it was a botched, although relatively enjoyable cup. I had been too cautious about the fact that it’s CTC and at the same time completely forgotten about the fact that timers exist. You may remember that following that brewing I could report that it had not been particularly damaged by my mistake, but that it also wasn’t anything other than simply another faceless Cup of Tea.
This morning I decided to see how it would behave if I threw CTC caution to the wind and brewed it like I normally do everything else. With a timer, mind you.
The result is definitely a much smoother cup with no hint at all of bitterness or astringency whatsoever. It’s soft and silky and very pleasant to drink. Apart from this, however, not much has changed. It’s still a faceless Cup of Tea. Pleasant enough, but just not interesting at all. There’s nothing here that grabs the attention or even something that makes me thing of region specific qualities. This is disappointing when I know for an absolute fact that Kenyans can be interesting. Just not in this form, unfortunately.
On the upside, because the leaves are so tiny I’m forced to use a filter bag, there’s no cleaning out of the pot afterwards. Silver lining on everything and whatnot.
We spent the weekend in Copenhagen and this is what they had in the breakfast buffet. (There were a number of other Clipper bags as well, but one of them I couldn’t work out what was and the others I didn’t think were very suitable for breakfast.)
It contained Assam and Ceylon and the Assam shone clearly through, with the Ceylon tempering that astringency that usually gives me Assam-trouble.
I wouldn’t say it was anything particularly special or earth-moving, but it wasn’t horrible either. It was perfectly adequate for breakfast in a situation where I wasn’t about to start waxing poetic about it anyway. A tea to drink without having to have an opinion on it.
The dry leaf of this one smells rather disturbingly like apricot flavoured yoghurt. And not just any old yoghurt either. An apricot Petite Danone. That’s what it smells like. (Do you have those over on the other side of the Atlantic? They’re like yoghurt-y desserts marketed for children so they contain more sugar than fruit and they come in tiiiiny little cups that somehow still manages to cost more than a whole carton of normal fruit yoghurt.)
After steeping thankfully it’s more real fruit and it has completely lost that weird yoghurt-y note. The tea base comes through as well and had it not been for the fact that they say it’s Chinese, I would have guessed it might be a Ceylon, because there seems to be a rather prominent sort of malty note to it. After careful smelling and consideration I have come to believe that this malty note is actually my own nose playing tricks on me and masquerading the actual fruit flavouring in this way, making it seem a lot more subtle than it really is. It’s like magic!
The flavour finally puts the whole Petite Danone issue to rest. Nothing even remotely like it here. This is an example of a well balanced fruit flavouring. It’s clearly fruity and it’s strong enough to be recognisable, but there is still a very clear note of actual tea shining through. It’s a fairly non-descript tea flavour here, but it’s there. It feels like drinking an even mix of the two, which gives the impression that the apricot manages to be both strong and rather subtle all at the same time. Like magic!
I’m coming to the conclusion that apricot and black tea are two of those flavours that just fit like puzzle pieces. They seem to compliment each other so nicely.
All in all, a quite good fruity black, although it certainly didn’t send my socks into orbit or anything like that. It was just good and enjoyable and will do well as a sort of every-day fruit tea, I think, which means we can save some of the really really good ones for a little longer. Sometimes we just need something that is merely good in order to fully appreciate the awesome.
I can’t believe I bought a 100 grams of, let’s face it, fannings! I mean, I knew it was CTC and I was sceptical about that, but as I was buying the Tanzania (again) and I have this budding fascination with the African continent’s tea offerings, I couldn’t not get it. This and the Tanzania are the only African blacks they’ve got. I do wish they would look into getting a better Kenya because the fact that this one is CTC makes it seem rather pedestrian compared to just about everything else they’ve got. I can’t say for sure if it really is, but it’s the only CTC I can recall having seen from them ever.
So, uncharacteristically I opted for using a filter bag with this one. There is no way that my otherwise wonderful strainers would have a chance against this sort of leaf size. Or lack of leaf size. I also used only 3/4 of my usual number of teaspoons of leaf.
And it was a good thing I did because I ALSO forgot to set the timer, so when I came back to get it I had to test-taste a mouthful in order to find out if it was necessary to make a new pot. To my vast surprise, it was fine. A CTC steeped for at least 5 minutes unattended and it’s fine. Shocking! I was going to do it at 3…
But then when I really start tasting the cup, I discover why it didn’t go wrong. There’s nothing here TO go wrong. This is just about the dullest, blandest tea I’ve ever met. In spite of the tiny leaf size, there is very little aroma or flavour here to speak of. A bit of astringency on the end of the flavour, but anything else you have to search for. And the more you keep the tea in your mouth to try and find other flavours in it, the more you only find the astringency.
The aroma at least has a hint of something woodsy and slightly malty. It’s just a shame that so little of it comes across in flavour.
Perhaps I should not have been so cautious with the leaf amount, CTC or not. I’ll have to experiment some more with that, I guess, although it is very much against my better judgment to not be cautious with CTC leaf amounts. This cup more resembles something that usually comes in cheap teabags with a generic blend name, rather than something from a shop selling supposedly quality leaves. You know, the sort of blend where they have something proper to give the majority of the flavour and then stuff it with something cheap and filling to keep the price down and pretend it’s still lovely. This here then would be the something cheap and filling.
I really do hope I can find a way to improve this (a lot) because right now I’m so disappointed. If nothing else it’ll work as a morning tea when I don’t want to do an awful lot of thinking.
I have received a MASSIVE Perch’s order this morning. Mainly we’ve got fruity teas here as well as stocking up on some black. The all-important Lapsang, the Tanzania I liked, and to try their Kenya. Anyway, I let the boyfriend pick out the first one to try and he chose this one.
I rather like cranberries and cranberry flavoured things, so it has been one I’ve been meaning to buy for a while. Especially after I’ve had their Late Summer blend (which I also bought this time), which is a heavenly mix of cranberry and vanilla. This, though, is plain cranberry.
The aroma is tart and heavy on the cranberry. There can be no doubt in anybody’s mind that this is a flavoured tea and that it’s flavoured with cranberry. Sligthly tart and thickly sweet underneath, with tendrils of the base tea sort of reaching through and reminding me that it’s not hot cordial we’re drinking here. It’s all in all a wonderful aroma and it gives me high hopes for the flavour. I can tell already know that we’re going to find ourselves on the higher end of the scale here.
I can report, thought, that Luna the Cat seems to think it’s rather stinky. Them kitties, what do they know? I have yet to find a tea they don’t think smells repulsive.
Oh yes, this is nice. At first I get primarily the base tea which definitely tastes Ceylon-y and some subtle cranberry flavouring. I’m almost positive this is a Ceylon base. It’s slightly astringent and a bit malty, which I believe accounts for the sugary aspect in the aroma.
So at first I thought it was rather subtly flavoured and how odd that was when the aroma was so heavy. But then I swallowed and there it was. Lots and lots and lots of cranberry, which somehow manages to not be too tart. I’m reminded of the cranberry sauce from Christmas, actually.
When it cools a bit the flavour develops more and covers the entire flavour experience more evenly, a soft layer of fruity berry over the flavour of the base tea and more uniform experience than the first sips of the cup.
Given the fact that I’ve enjoyed the Late Summer blend so much, I was actually a bit concerned if I might find this one a bit wanting with not having the vanilla aspect in it as well, but I’ve discovered to my relief that it stands on its own very nicely indeed. I am very pleased with this choice.
Good evening Steepsterites.
This is our after dinner tea on this last evening of 2011, and I am attempting replicate the mysterious circumstances that led to such an ultra yummy cup last time we had it.
It seems fitting to end the old year on one of the most favourite of favourites, and I am already plotting which tea we shall see the new year in with tomorrow morning.
There are 2 hours and 15 minutes until 2012 here in Denmark, so this shall be my last post this year. There is a fair bit of fireworks going on here already, which bodes well for the display at midnight. As I moved from the town center to a smaller village, we were not sure how much there would be. We never buy our own, but prefer to look at other people’s displays instead. The cats, on this their first NYE, are aware of the noise but seem to be taking it in stride.
Happy New Year, Steepster, and if you are lighting fireworks later, don’t forget to protect your eyes and fingers.
Sometimes you brew a cup of tea exactly the same way that you always do, and the stars align just so, and the outcome is extra-nommy.
This happened with this tea this afternoon for no apparent reason. I think it must have something to do with moon phases, karma and the magnetic field of the earth. Maybe cloud formations and whether or not there’s a bird sitting on the roof as well. It certainly can’t have anything to do with the brewing parameters because they were unchanged.
So I was sipping quietly in my room and thinking, “cor, what a good cup today!” when in ticks a message from the other half thanking me for extra nommy tea today. Two souls, one thought, it seems. (And yes, we do occasionally MSN each other from opposite sides of a wall in the same house. It’s easier than shouting when you don’t know if the other person is wearing headphones. Also, less noisy.)
And if you post 12 posts in one go, I have discovered that you get to wake up to a bajillion notifications! GOOOOOOSH! O.o
First, allow me to apologise for the power-spam! Because we were travelling to England for Christmas, I did not drink these teas on the actually appointed days, but some days in advance. I could have posted some of them before leaving, but for the sake keeping things easy (for me), I opted not to split them up in the middle like that. Also, that would have involved a certain risk of me having accidentally posted the wrong tea way too early and spoiled everybody unintentionally.
What a very Christmas-y flavour! (In Denmark, Santa’s favourite food is rice porridge with cinnamon-sugar and a lump of butter on top. Is milk and cookies his steady diet in America, or is that just a delivery rounds snack? Do inform, please.) It’s now nearly ten days since I actually had this, and am just now typing up my notes in preparation for posting, so you’ll have to excuse me if it’s a bit list-ish and dull to read.
The dry leaf struck me as mostly cocoa-y, but vaguely cookie-y, but there was a funny side note of something weirdly wood-y. After steeping, I got more cookie from it, but I couldn’t find the milk. I wondered if this would actually have benefitted from having been served with a little milk in, but it was too late then, as I had already got rid of the last milk in the fridge in preparation for travelling.
This next bit is a bit dodgy. I took my notes in some sort of weird impromptu wannabe shorthand, and erm… if I want to use shorthand, I should try to develop it a bit more systematically. I am however deciphering to the best of my abilities. (Utilising some of my more acceptable handwriting would help a lot too!)
Anyway, if I’m understeanding myself correctly here, I found the flavour to be quite cookie-like and faintly chocolate-y as well as somewhat nutty, which ties in nicely with it being a cookie. However, if I tried to get too deep into the flavour and really pick it apart, everything I found seemed like something one might naturally encounter in a good quality black, especially a Chinese one. This makes it seem rather more like an enhanced black rather than an actually flavoured one.
This impression wanes somewhat as the cup cools a bit more, because this is where the milk is finally coming out to play. It feels a bit like drinking a milk oolong, only instead of oolong it’s a black. Quite weird, really.
I liked this tea and found it rather enjoyable, although I didn’t really feel like it was getting the whole milk and cookies flavouring all the way across. The idea was certainly there, but I didn’t find it to be obvious, really.
I’m not putting a numerical rating on this one, because I didn’t jot down a scale area when I actually had it, and I’m not sure trying to deduce one based only on partly illegible notes and a vague memory is really a very good idea.