1112 Tasting Notes
Cake and tea. This is fodder for the writing mind. (Probably, to be honest, especially cake…)
This one was shared with me by Dinosara and an excellent choice for sharing it was too. Vanilla blacks have turned into something of an obsession for me. I am searching for the perfect vanilla flavoured black, seeing as I can’t apparently get the actually perfect vanilla black that Chi of Tea sold. That one was so awesome and just right in every way.
This one has bits of vanilla pod in it, which is a plus. I don’t care if they only impart very little actual flavour, they have a huge significance aesthetically. The perfect vanilla flavoured tea much have them, I think. It also, according to Upton’s information, has artificial flavouring. I’m less keen on that. The perfect vanilla black should be flavoured with real vanilla. Not an artificial approximation of vanilla.
(Unless by artificial flavouring they mean giving the tea a flavour which it does not have naturally, in which case it’s an entirely different crate of fish. I don’t consider this very likely though…)
The aroma is strong on the vanilla notes. A sweet caramel-y vanilla, hanging heavily over the surface of the tea itself. It smells right, I have to say. It smells like my memory of the aroma of the aforementioned Perfect But Unavailable vanilla black, except it lacks the note reminding me of coconut which in turn reminded me of a specific sort of licorice sweets. I don’t get that whole association chain here. Still, it’s close enough that I would say the prospects of finding the perfect vanilla tea is looking quite good at the moment.
The flavour does not hit you in the face with vanilla. It’s definitely there, but this is tea-flavoured tea which ALSO tastes like vanilla. Not just tea that tastes like vanilla, the end. That’s a mark in the positive column, as is the fact that while it is somewhat modest and doesn’t overpower the base, the vanilla is easily detectable.
It has a dry feeling to it, though. It’s not astringent as such, but it is a dry sort of flavour (also, it’s dark brown. Been a while since I had a synesthesia inducing tea, actually) and this then led me to actually look up taste-colour synesthesia, which didn’t seem to yield very many useful results. Maybe it’s not a very common type, and I’ve only got it in a mild form, I think, due to how it doesn’t always work. No matter what,
’¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨4yurjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjh (Luna helping me type there. I choose to share the antics of my cats rather than deleting them) it caused me to forget about the tea which is now lukewarm.
So anyway, it tastes dark brown, which is more the colour of black tea, seeing as vanilla on it’s own has more greyish sort of flavour. That dry flavour that caused that whole side-tracking thing with the synesthesia is not really something I think would be part of the perfect vanilla tea. It’s distracting, and for that I will say that this is not the perfect vanilla tea either, although a very good candidate indeed. If the dry note had not been quite so strong, it would have been a different matter entirely. Maybe also with a touch of that coconut-y note as well. Then it would have been worth at least ten more points.
It is November. NaNoWriMo is upon us. Well, it’s upon me anyway. (I am Angrboda there also if any of my other Steepsterites are NaNoing and would like a writing buddy)
So I’ve made me a cup of writing tea. Or cooking tea as it turned out, but still. This is one that ssajami shared with me and it’s a quite interesting tea. I encourage all to go and have a look at JK Tea Shop’s description of it (available here on Steepster), because I don’t think I can explain it in my own words. Basically it’s a white tea that isn’t a white tea. Go read it for yourself.
So consequently, I’m not at all sure what to expect from it. In my head I want to liken it to Bai Mu Dan for some reason. Probably only because it has ‘bai’ in the name, which is a rather flimsy reason for association, but such are the inner workings of the human brain. It doesn’t come out smelling anything at all like BMD, though. In fact, it has a rather strong note of honey. Rich, luxurious honey bought directly from the farmer and hasn’t spent three months on a supermarket shelf first. I can almost see the bee in my inner eye.
The flavour is twofold. There is a top note which strikes me as weak and watery and then there is a bottom note where all the flavour is. It feels unbelievably thick too. Like there’s something in it making it ever so slightly viscous. At first I found this a little unpleasant but actually it seems to enhance the flavour. The flavour seems more concentrated in each sip, as compared to just about most anything else ever to have come out of my teapot.
Given it’s thin and watery nature, there is no reason to dwell on the top-note. The lower note, the one with all the flavour in it, is a different matter. It’s one thing to say it holds the flavour and it feels like it’s concentrated, but what does it actually taste like? Well, dear readers. Good bloody question!
It tastes like tea. It actually tastes like a cheap bagged version of English Breakfast that I used to have. I think it was from Pickwick. A note of honey and an unmistakable flavour of default tea. Bear in mind, please, that I actually used to really rather like this EB it reminds me of. I really enjoyed that honey note in it and the way it tasted almost like there was a teensy bit of milk in it. It’s a bit woody in flavour as well and it tastes a bit toasted.
I can see why the comparison to white tea as the closest thing in type is still not quite satisfactory. It doesn’t taste anything at all like something I would suspect of being white. If anything it tastes more like an oolong on the darker end of the spectrum, which I find slightly bizarre all things considered.
What an interesting tea!
This is one that Dinosara shared with me in our recent trade. It was an amount that just fit the size of the pot that I use when sharing with the boyfriend, and as he tends to like ‘black and fruity’ it was also an obvious candidate for sharing.
So I did.
I can smell the mango in the aroma, but there’s something else in there as well which smells sort of spicy and … something! I know I know that smell, but I can’t for the life of me put my finger on what it is. I suspect it probably has something to do with the petals of something or other in the leaves. I asked the boyfriend and he suggested it smelled a bit like mulled wine, possibly cloves. That could be it, but I’m not sure.
That thing I can’t remember is in the flavour as well. Right at first for a brief moment, and then it sort of turns into a flavour of sunflower seeds and finally mango. The mango is most prominent on the aftertaste, but it’s a very authentic tasting mango. It makes me want to eat one.
It’s very nice, this, and it also earned the boyfriend seal of approval in spite of initially having inspired a bit of ‘meh’ in him when told what it was. Personally, though, I could have lived without the funky sunflower seed flavour…
Look at me with my posting! I’m sharp and kicking bottom. It’s 1pm and I’m steeping this as my fourth cup today. I shall be in a constant back and forth to the bladder unloading station for the rest of the day, I expect.
This one came to me from ssajami and I have high expectations of it. It’s a Keemun, how could I not? It smells exactly like one too. Grainy and sort of pseudo-smoky with a touch of something floral. And also quite sweet and caramel-y. This is a very good smell, this smell that I’m smelling! So rich and creamy and sweet, it reminds me a little of creme brulee, although not as much as the Clear Jade Orchid oolong from Shang Tea does. (That one is crazy creme brulee-y!)
Gosh, it’s very sweet in flavour as well! There was one note in there; I caught a whiff of it for a split-second just before swallowing and it was pure sugar. After just this one sip there’s a feeling of aftertaste expanding in the mouth like an explosion. It starts at the taste buds and then grows to encompass the entire mouth until it feels almost as if the cavity itself is really getting bigger.
Okay, that description was mildly icky, but I hope you get what I mean here. I do hope you have all had at some point in your life a tea with an aftertaste that does this. It’s so… strange and weird and good.
Anyway, back to the flavour. It’s a quite smooth tea with an almost milky feel and very sweet as well. Quite akin to caramel but not 100% there. Not yet. Like the flavour nuance just before caramel.
There isn’t much in the way of grain-y flavours, though. I’m sort of missing a bit of rye bread-y bite to it, and the absense of that gives the impression of a very mild tea. A bit shy. I should have liked it to have a little more oomph to it.
If it had had the grainy notes, I could have gone on and on about that and about the comparison to proper danish rye bread and how that differs from the stuff most of the rest of the world calls rye bread, and the pros and cons of same. As it isn’t really there, it’s rather difficult to say anything about it.
That sweetness, however, that is spectacular and it’s worth every single point here. Not a favourite Keemun for me at all, it’s far too well-behaved, but definitely not a bad one either.
Fare thee well, Cherries Jubilee.
Last cup. I nommed it. Om nom nom nom.
The sweet Dinosara sent me a swap package which I received on Monday. At first I was all excited and dithering about where to begin, but as I was feeling decidedly under the weather (what a great timing to receive care-mail!), attempting to choose between new teas and the very idea of posting about it in any sort of useful way turned out to be rather too much for my meagre brain capacity to handle. In the end I turned towards the tried, tested and true comfort teas (Kusmi’s Caramel and ditto Four Red Fruits, if you’re curious. Seperately, mind). Untill this morning.
I’m slowly recharging my batteries, but I’m still not the brightest bulb in box. Yesterday, for example, someone told me they were a ‘textbook asthmatic’ and my first thought was that she was allergic to textbooks. Yes. I know. Consequently choosing between new things is obviously still rather difficult, so I went for the sample of LS, because I know LS. I know what I like in an LS and I know what to expect from one. It seemed the simplest solution for the moment.
The sample pouch contained exactly precisely just about my preferred amount of leaf for a small pot. How excellent. I tried smelling the dry leaf in the pouch, but I couldn’t really get anything from it. There was a sweet note and no smoke at all, which I find somewhat confusing considering what we’re dealing with here. On the other hand, I’m not certain my nose is entirely trustworthy at the moment.
After steeping, it smells grainy and honeyed and with a touch of something that rather reminds me of lingonberry jam. Still no smoke, though. This doesn’t smell like a standard LS at all. Where is the smoke??? It’s missing; it’s not there! It is being advertised to me as smoky, and I wants it!
But then again, the trustworthyness of my nose is somewhat in question… I hope that’s why I can’t find the smoke. Although, you would think that smoke should be the one thing I could find…
squints at cup
One last chance to deliver some proper smokyness. Flavour. Okay, yes, the flavour has some trace amount of smoke, but not nearly strong enough that I think DeRen can really get away with saying it has ‘smoked aroma’ at all, be it ever so gentle. I believe there’s a distinct difference between ‘gentle’ and ‘barely there’.
The flavour that we have left reminds me mostly of a sort of mix between Bai Lin and Tan Yang. Something sort of inbetween those two. It’s quite grainy like the Bai Lin, but doesn’t have the orange-y note, and it’s quite fruity and cocoa-y like the Tan Yang, but without (infamously) the pseudo-smoke. It does however have that Fujian-ness about it that makes it so easy to recognise. Full and strong and very, very pleasant.
Yes, this has a ton of qualities that I really like. It’s a very good representative of my Number One Favourite tea producing area, indeed, but as I am being led to believe that it’s supposed to be smoky and it just isn’t delivering on that count, I’m going to have to dock some points.
These days the boyfriend and I are watching a BBC series about China. We tend to do one episode per evening while eating (Dining table? What’s that? Ooooh, you mean the cat playground!) and the episode we watched yesterday was primarily about the Yunnan province. Although tea wasn’t mentioned more than briefly. Mostly it was about nature and a wee bit about anthropology as well. Quite an interesting series, actually. The first episode we watched was about how they grow tiny little rice fields terraced up and down mountains and with little walk-ways so narrow that it looked like if you lost your footing and fell, you would be lucky if you got out of it with only a broken leg. Amazing how adaptable the human species is! And how inventive. O.o
Anyway, inspired by that first mentioned episode, I thought I should drink some Yunnan tea today and it just so happens that I’ve got a sample of this one which the very kind Ssajami shared with me recently.
While I was steeping it I found myself assailed by a strong caramel-y aroma. Especially while pouring my cup. It’s was unbelievable and for a moment I wondered if I had actually managed to pick something caramel flavoured instead of what I thought I had taken. But as the sample tin that this is in is a small pale grean Adagio sample tin and as the tin the Caramel is in is a large, brown Kusmi tin, I didn’t think this very likely. So apparently this tea just have a strong note of caramel in the aroma. That’s new to me. I’ve never noticed this sort of note in a Yunnan before.
So when I tasted it, I was expecting something with a slightly sticky flavour and absolutely dripping with caramel. But it wasn’t. Instead I got something that from sip one was more nutty than anything else. Walnuts in particular. I can just visualise them in my head as I’m drinking it. The note is so strong that this would be a poor base for something walnut flavoured, because it would just be impossible to tell a difference.
If I didn’t know any better, I would think it WAS flavoured!
How very pleasant to happen upon a Yunnan black that doesn’t taste like hay, but like walnuts. This is definitely preferable.
It’s not completely unusual though. It is in fact still very recognisable as a Yunnan due that unmistakable spicy, pepper-y, prickly note in it and it’s all smoooooooooth too.
Very nice tea this. Thanks for sharing, Ssajami.
ETA by the way of the unrelated kind! Finally have the real ring, a photograph of which can be seen here. http://pics.livejournal.com/iarnvidia/pic/0000121b
A while ago I posted about a Kenyan black from Harney&Sons that QuiltGuppy had been so kind as to share with me. That one was quite a hit in this household, and since then I have become interested in the African continent. Teas from Africa are still rather rare here though, especially non-Kenyans, so when the boss and I made our latest AC Perch’s order for work and I saw a Tanzania, I jumped at the chance. I’ve only ever had African tea from Kenya before.
Like the Kenya it’s quite strong and full-bodied. I got distracted while drinking it so instead of writing the post and paying attention to it, I was doing all sorts of other things, but I’ve had it a few times so I feel fairly confident in making this summary.
As mentioned, quite strong and full-bodied. It’s an excellent morning tea, as it really gives a fair kick. However, it’s not a very complicated tea to drink. It’s relatively uniformly tea-flavoured with not a lot of specific characteristics that I’ve been able to find so far. A pleasant strong black for times in need of extra strength and it would probably carry milk quite well, but also a fairly anonymous flavour profile.
The rather non-descript taste of it might actually be to its own advantage, because that means one can drink it when in need of something strong and powerful to get back on one’s feet, and still not being something one has to pay a lot of attention to enjoying while drinking when one really doesn’t possess sufficient energy to do so.
It gets lots of points on being interesting as well as a good cup. With a relatively high caffeine content, it’s an excelleng Gah-Caffeine-Me-NAO!-tea.
All in all, I’m quite pleased with this purchase although I did prefer that aforementioned Kenyan over this one.
GOSH! 500 followers! O.o Have I somehow actually managed to be interesting? HI, ALL! :D waves wildly
Have just flea treated the cats. Am therefore currently the World’s Evilest Evah! Obviously I had to pick a tea that reflected my cruelty. Uh, or something. (A fruit flavoured black just can’t in anyway be made to reflect evilness at all, can it?)
Okay, so it may not be all that evil, but on the other hand, I’ve managed to make it quite good and flavourful today. I took a leaf out of Kusmi’s book, really, because Kusmi bases their flavoured black teas on a Chinese black and recommend a lower than boiling steeping temperature. This one, I discovered when looking into it for Ssajami yesterday, is on a Keemun base and that made me wonder if, like Kusmi’s blends, it might benefit from a lower temperature than boiling.
And guess what. It DID! At least I think that’s the reason. This cup is all sweet and fruity, and with a pleasant berry-y aftertaste.
And this is where I look for previous rating and discover that I haven’t actually posted about it before. Better make it from the top then.
The leaves and the aroma of it is quite spot on the strawberry, but initially I found the flavour a little lacking in that department. I was expecting something with a little more emphasis on the strawberry, but in hindsight I suspect it’s the unusual base (Keemun) that is messing with my perception.
The lower temperature seems to have tamed the Keemun a bit and allowed more of the flavouring to come out so it feels more fruity this time around than it did before. Previously I would have given it maybe the high end of the 70s, but I’m going to give it a tad more based on this experience.
Still though. It’s not my perfect strawberry tea. I don’t think the base and the flavouring are really the best combination here, in spite of the fact that Keemun is a tea I normally rather enjoy. I should have liked to see this flavouring on a slightly less grainy tasting base. I think that would help a lot.
Gosh, Steepsterites! It feels like it’s been ages, eons and decades since I last inflicted my presence upon your unfortunate and super-humanly patient souls! There’s just been so much recently, you know? We were away over the weekend so I’m really in need of a bit of a breather. A 9yo birthday. Four children and fourteen adults in one lounge for a whole afternoon. Gosh! O.o (Nothing wrong with my family at all, mind. It’s just such a lot of people)
So I thought it was definitely time to sit down and get a proper post together and relax a bit before making my shopping list and getting some groceries in. This is one I got from Ssajami, and I was quite excited about it from the moment I took it out of the box. The description of it on the pouch sounds right up my alley!
The aroma has a quite strong note to it, which I think is a mixture of the honey and the flowers, although depending on what sort of flowers honey is made of it can have very different smells as well. I can’t really find the fruit very well in the aroma. Perhaps a tang of rhubarb, but primarily it’s honey. Thick and rich and viscous.
The flowers give it a rather strong floral flavour as well, which disappointed me a bit. I was looking for something rather more fruity and this is borderline verging on slight bitterness instead. I’m not sure what sort of black tea is at the base here, but I suspect that like most other flavoured teas where this is isn’t specified, it’s probably a Ceylon. I should have liked to have had it on a Chinese base instead, to put that astringency-going-on-bitterness out of the picture. Oh well.
That particular disappointment aside, it’s a quite nice tea. Once I know what to expect from it, I find the floralness less of a problem, and I have no problem locating fruity flavours underneath. Mainly straw- and blueberry, not so much rhubarb. I suspect the rhubarb here, being in itself rather astringent, is hiding in that nearly-bitter astringency of the black tea.
I did however make it with boiling water although Le Palais des Thes recommend slightly below boiling because I only discovered that when it was too late, and it did possibly get a bit of an extra long steep because I was too lazy to change the timer. I still have enough leaf to try again and we’ll see then if that makes a huge difference. I expect it will definitely eliminate some of that astringency there.
As it is, however, I’m quite pleased with what I got out of it this time too.