1317 Tasting Notes
I’ll do a more thorough review of this one later, but we had some of it last night. I bought it because of the huge success I had with the raspberry and vanilla rooibos from Yumchaa which Cteresa shared with me. It started me on this whole flavoured rooibos thing and I’ve been meaning to buy some more of it for quite a while but just never got round to it. Then I was ordering from Nothing But Tea and saw they had this one and I jumped straight on a 100g pouch.
When we had some yesterday it tasted so identical to my memory of the Yumchaa one that I started to wonder if they actually were identical. I don’t know if either of those places make their own blends or if they buy them elsewhere, so I checked.
As it turns out they’re not identical because Yumchaa’s blend also has rose petals in it, which this one doesn’t. But apparently it’s close enough. Compared with my memory (and the keyword here is ‘memory’) of Yumchaa’s blend, these two are interchangable. Excellent news and bad news rolled into one. Excellent because then it doesn’t matter that I never got around to the Yumchaa order and bad news because it lessens the odd of me ever getting around to it.
Right now though, I’ll go and make us something else. Something sufficiently stronger as a post-vet-visit pick-me-up. Just their vaccinations, nothing dramatic, although the Charm Cat did attempt to scratch the vet to ribbons. (They had something in their shop called ‘dog beer’, a vitamin B supplement for dogs, sold in bottles with caps and labels that made it look a little like beer. I should get some for my dad’s dog for Christmas; he would find it hilarious!)
This one isn’t backlogged, and this sample is all I’ve got so perhaps it’s unwise to have it now when still not at full health. However, it’s a Chaplon tea and perfectly available for repurchase another time, so it’s not a big deal.
I bought a sample of this with my Chaplon order from not long ago. Cranberry is for me one of those flavours that are difficult to resist but never really manage to be truly spectacular unless mixed with something else. The Late Summer blend from AC Perchs is one we keep at work and has cranberry and vanilla in an absolutely wonderful combination. I’ve also once had a cranberry and orange and almonds, I think it was, blend that I received in a swap. Can’t remember the name of it or who shared it with me, but that was pretty awesome too. Cranberry on its own though? There have been a few good ones but not on the same scale really that I can recall. So I’m drawn to it and the perpetual mild disappointment. A bit like with vanilla, really. This is not the search for the perfect cranberry flavoured tea, though. It’s just a compulsion.
The aroma of this is very cranberry-y and all juicy smelling. It reminds me of dried cranberries, which, apart from juice and flavouring, is really the only sort of cranberry flavour I’m familiar with. I’ve seen you can get them fresh in the supermarket at the moment, but I don’t know what I’d use them for. Are they even edible raw? I seem to have read once that they aren’t.
I can vaguely pick up some of the base underneath. It smells kind of grainy and is described by Chaplon as ‘fairly robust’, although they don’t seem to be wanting to give me any more information regarding origin than that. I can’t pick up enough of it, though, partly due to the flavouring and partly due to the state of my sinuses that I can make any guess at where it might be from.
The flavour is totally cranberry-y. It’s exactly like eating dried cranberries, complete with the touch of astringency that these berries have. The flavouring is fairly strong but it seems to be only on the surface of the sip, where the body of it is the base tea with just a few smidgens of flavouring. It makes me wish I was in a state to taste it properly, but what I can pick up of it seems very nice. I’m getting the impression that this is a base that is right up my particular alley of preference. I wonder what it could be. I suspect it’s possibly a blend. I would quite like to have some of it without flavouring as well. I think I might like to write to Chaplon and ask, I’m feeling really very curious about this now. The worst that could happen is they say that they won’t disclose the information. (I can’t imagine that they don’t know. That would be silly.)
Chaplon recommends blending it with a mild Ceylon black for a milder flavouring, but for me I don’t really think they is necessary. Sure the flavouring is strong, but it seems well balanced and I rather enjoy the sensation of it being like a sphere with the flavour on the surface and sending tendrils into the body in the middle. I don’t think I would want to mess with that balance. But of course everybody prefers a different sort of balance with these things don’t they? It’s cool that it’s possible.
Funnily enough, this is a flavour that just keeps on giving, because although cranberries aren’t really something that is considered particularly soothing when it comes to the common cold, it seems to be helping a little anyway. Or possibly it’s just the drinking of something warm, I don’t know. There’s just something in it that makes me feel just a tiny bit of relief and refreshment. It’s not impossible that I might buy some of this another time.
Have a backlog, since I’m not capable of tasting anything properly at the moment, the Tan Yang Te Ji (♥) of this morning being proof thereof, and also it seems like it’s been a while since I wrote a proper post that wasn’t just a ‘poor me’ kind of thing.
So here is a tea that Auggy has shared with me, and which I have tasted rather out of season, because I didn’t really feel like waiting. And I’d already done the Thirsty Elf too which was also out of season, so…
It was, according to my notes, a chilly day when I had it, though, so I thought at the time that a Christmas tea seemed appropriate.
The leaf smelled of Christmas spices and particularly of ginger. There was a funny almost soapy note in it as well, but I’m not sure that wasn’t just another aspect of the ginger. Other thoughts I had were of clove, cinnamon and cardamom, but really it was mostly ginger. It’s supposed to have orange as well, but I only found that as a whiff of an accent to the other notes.
Not super-confident about this, I sipped with caution. Gosh, ginger! And soap. Now I definitely think the soapyness is a ginger aspect. As for the other ingredients, I could only find a weak orange and the shadow of an almond in the aftertaste. That’s it. No vanilla, no spices, no nothing. Just ginger.
So not a blend for me, this.
Here’s another backlog while we’re at it.
This one came from Hesper June and is another one of these hugely popular Butiki blends.
Personally I have to say I was a little doubtful as I’m not very fond of white tea these days, and especially not Bai Mu Dan which for me often tastes strongly of courgettes. I like courgettes, but I don’t like my tea to taste like them. It seems like BMD is the standard white tea to flavour, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best here.
The leaf smelled faintly of chamomille and vaguely of cantaloupe, and after steeping it was primarily a cantaloupe aroma. There was also a sort of thick, viscous smell to it, which I think must be the cream element. Underneath it all there were notes of something kind of spicy which I could only imagine must be the base. Strongly suspect BMD at this point.
First sip only strengthened this supicion. Why hello there mr Courgette! Fancy meeting you here. I thought the base was coming through quite strongly in this one. There were cantaloupe flavour as well, yes, but that was mostly in the aftertaste. I couldn’t seem to locate any cream anywhere.
I was a little disappointed by this one, but I think it’s because I didn’t care for the base tea and it was coming through a little too strongly for me.
I was sceptical when I saw this, because of the lavender. On the other hand, it’s a vanilla tea. And you know what I’m like with vanilla these days. So I opted for a sample. Had it not had all that lavender in it, I would have done like I did with the strawberry pu-erh and gone straight for the whole entire 100g pouch, because
The aroma of this one is lavender and vanilla. For me, those two come out in equal amounts. Together they create an association partly of soap and partly of something that reminds me rather too much of something we have at work. I’m not sure what, but I’ll tell you this. It cannot be good.
I work in a hospital pathology lab. We have many many chemicals. Many of them stink. You do not want your tea blend to smell like work.
Given the fact that I can’t think of what it is at work it reminds me of, however, I’m willing to go out on a limb and continue. I’m comforting myself with the fact that it’s not formaline, it’s not xylene, and it’s not concentrated ammonium chloride. Those are the worst three stinkers I can think of. Perhaps it’s just one of those random brain short-cicuit associations that pop up from time to time?
Because, it does smell like vanilla.
And lavender. I’m uncertain about that lavender. I can see how it fits the name of the blend, as only foie gras and escargot could possibly be French-er than these two things in combination. And yet, it strikes me as a mildly odd combination. Vanilla and flowers? Really? Or is that just me being far too used to seeing vanilla with other sorts of fruit?
Anyway, I’m rambling. After steeping that funky work-association thankfully appears to be gone. Now it’s just vanilla and lavender. Vanilla, laying down a thick, creamy base which comes across as almost sickly sweet, and lavender adding floral accents on top. Unfortunately, the soapy associations are still very much there.
Right now I’m not having much hope of this being a Perfect Vanilla contender at all! O.O
The flavour is… Hm. sip It’s… sip kind of… sip sort of… sip … sip
Peculiar is a good word. It’s so lavender-y! I very much think I would prefer lavender in smaller concentrations, and never ever on its own. The vanilla is balancing the lavender out for me so that it doesn’t become unbearably floral, but I don’t really seem to be able to find any actual vanilla flavour in this. It’s all drowned out by the lavender. It’s like a debate moderator. When everything gets started you don’t pay any attention to him, but if he wasn’t there, the whole thing would go to pieces. (Look at me drawing inspiration from current events!)
This is most certainly NOT anything at all to do with Perfect Vanilla. I would barely say it had all that much to do with vanilla, really. I’m glad I only went for a sample. I might try and mix it up with something else and see what happens.
WOOHOO! My NBT order came in, and with it this strawberry flavoured pu-erh which I’ve been crazy looking forward to since discovering it while ordering. As a result, I ran (not walked) to Tea Corner to prepare me a cup.
Adding these new teas to my Steepster cupboard caused me to trip over the first post I wrote about the Pu Erh Orange from the same company (which I lurve) and it was full of memories of my great-grandparents’ house. Gosh, that was nice to read again. :)
Anyway, this one smelled OMG of strawberry! Real strawberry. Not strawberry leaf, or that synthetic flavour that represents how we think strawberry tastes until we eat one and are reminded of how it’s supposed to be. Real strawberry. I’m sure this is enhanced by the inclusion of currant and blackberry leaf and coconut chips as I’m not picking up anything about these other flavours at all. Just strawberry. Lots of strawberry.
And also, coconut chips? WHY??? O.o I except this is one of these things that are not for me to know…
After steeping I get strawberry and earthy pu-erh, but primarily the berries. I wouldn’t say these two notes meld quite as naturally as pu-erh and orange (which, for me, are two flavours that suit each other perfectly), but it does so much better than I had expected. I’ve been a little nervous about the combination, to be honest, but not so much that I didn’t order a full 100g pouch without bothering with samples first.
This? This is awesome. This tastes like strawberry jam. Exactly like strawberry jam, sweetness and all. Wow. Perhaps those coconut chips aren’t such a strange inclusion after all, since I expect they’re providing much of the sweetness here. I do seem to have a bit of a coconut-y aftertaste actually.
I’m glad I didn’t go with the sample first and took a chance on the full 100g. It’s not the last time I’ve bought this, I don’t think!
So the strawberry flavouring is spot on, and it’s quite strong too, but not so strong that the tea is completely drowned. Only nearly. It’s down there, I can tell, but I can’t find too many details about it. I just get an impression of something deep and dark and stable. If it had a noise it would be sort of rumbling. I’m reminded rather of the Ogier in the Wheel of Time series, or of Tolkien’s Ents.
I think the base is what really makes it work here. A pu-erh base seems solid and serious but with a playful, girly touch, whereas this in a black tea would just be frilly and frivolous. The average black tea base probably wouldn’t have enough strong low notes to really carry the flavouring off here.
I find it difficult to really describe this stuff. Just know this:
It is very very good.
Auggy shared this one with me, I think because she had said she wasn’t getting along with it and I told her of my new-found appreciation for flavoured rooibos. Although for me that’s largely berry-y flavouring. (And I still think it’s new-found.)
I cannot shake the notion of celery. Both in smell and flavour.
A statement which caused Husband to exclaim, and I quote:
“You are smoking rocks!”
He thought it smelled like some sort of orange-y chocolate-y drink. I can’t find either. I can barely even find the rooibos!
Celery on the other hand…
I don’t much like celery.
Husband is enjoying it, though.
It’s been a week since I received this sample and I’ve only just now got around to drinking it. I was feeling a little under the weather when I got it, and I didn’t think those were the best conditions to have it in, having promised to do my best with it. And now a week has gone by and I still haven’t got to it. I was beginning to feel a little guilty about it, so I decided that today was The Day, especially as it would come in handy as a pick-me-up after the c25k torture of the day. (Horrid today! Horrid! A marked difference from Friday which was a 3.2 km running, no walking, powering through triumph! But horrid today.)
Nuvola Tea approached me by email, asking whether I would be interested in receiving a free sample and posting about it. That’s the first time I’ve been approached with such an offer, so it felt rather special to me for them to do so. Like my opinion mattered. Kind of flattering and humbling all at the same time. I know some of you others have tried this several times, so you probably know what I mean. After having asked a couple of questions, I eventually agreed and promised to do my best. So this is it.
I don’t normally pay any attention to recommended parameters. Water temperature, yes, leaf amount and steeping time, no. I know which strength I prefer my teas to have and which length of steeping normally produces the best cup for me. The person who wrote out the recommendations may not share my particular preferences, and so tea brewing becomes every bit as subjective as the actual flavour experience itself. So most often I go by my own experiences first. If that doesn’t work, then I might start looking at instructions and get some inspiration that way.
With this particular tea I thought I owed it to Nuvola Tea to try and follow their instructions as closely as I could, since they were providing the leaf for free in order for me to post about it for them, and there only being enough for the one go. As it turns out, though, I do actually still get to do it my way, as these instructions fit pretty closely into the procedure I was planning on following as mentioned above. I would have have made the steeps a wee bit longer initially, but the difference here is fairly small, so I might as well follow theirs. Coming that close to their instructions based only on my own experience and educated guesswork makes me feel all validated and smart!
Now, when I received the sample there was also a leaflet included which showed a table of the different teas Nuvola offers, sorted according to strength and degree of oxidation, with a small one sentence description of each. That was pretty inspiring. I found a couple more things in that table which I would like to try at one point, and at least one of them was a tea that I don’t think I would have otherwise even looked at.
More importantly for me, however, the leaflet also has a map of Taiwan with the origin of each tea is drawn in. I love that! I love knowing where a tea comes from in slightly more detail than just ‘Taiwan’ or ‘Sri Lanka’ or whichever tea producing country you can think of. There will be differences even within the same country and that makes for half the fun of exploring a region. This particular tea was produced right in the middle of the island
Okay, enough with the introductory chatter. The actual tasting begins here.
So now, the first steep was given 30 seconds as according to Nuvola’s oolong brewing recommendations, because in spite of all intentions to do my best, I still managed to botch the temperature. It has a very sweet aroma, quite caramel-y, and with just a smidge of something kind of floral waaaay in the background. It mostly cararmel. Actually it rather reminds me of that Jade Orchid Oolong that I liked from Shang Tea. The one that tasted like creme brulee! Could this actually be something similiar to that? It would be awesome if it were!
The initial flavour I’m getting is a something mineral, but it’s fleeting and quickly gives way to a mixture of floral and caramel. This is indeed caramel-y. If I didn’t know any betting I might have thought it had been flavoured. There are some slightly dry-ish cocoa-y notes as well but they seem to stay mainly on the edges of the flavour, letting the caramel really take the lead.
To tie off the comparison with the Jade Orchid Oolong from Shang Tea, yeah, this really does remind me a lot of how I remember that one to be. All sweet and dessert-y.
For the second steep I made sure to go by the recommendations for a black tea rather than an oolong. All this really entailed at this point, was giving the temperature a notch upwards, but the steeping time was the same. This time the caramel note has stepped back a bit and the cocoa-y note is coming more into the mix. The primary note, though, is nother caramel nor cocoa but something vaguely fruity. I can’t tell which sort of fruity, but I think it seems most like some kind of stone-fruit, like nectarines or apricots. There’s a slightly floral top note here as well.
Again, there is a fleeting note of mineral and then it’s gone all fruity! It’s definitely a stone-fruit, I think. Plums! In the background the mixture of caramel and cocoa-y-ness, which provides a sweet and smooth aftertaste. Like just having eaten caramel-flavoured sweets.
Hey, this is going rather well in spite of my initial confusion!
The third steep combines tea drinking with one of my favourite things in the world: Being sat on by a cat. Especially one of mine as they are so adorably cute and they purr! I just have to be really careful not to spill hot tea on her. The aroma of which has now taken on a wooden sort of oolong-y note (oh, and now my cat went away. Boo. I can’t compete with the lure of the water bowl apparently) with cocoa and that same fruity, plum-y note underneath. No caramel at this point.
The flavour is the same as the aroma. AGAIN that one fleeting flavour of minerals, which is odd, actually because it’s always there in the first sip, but only the first sip. I don’t get the logic of that, really. Perhaps it has something to do with temperature or something. Anyway, after that initial misleading sip, the flavour is largely fruity and cocoa-y-wood-y. There is still a wee bit of caramel left, but only on the aftertaste. Something tells me I’ve seen the last of that caramel at this point.
The fourth steep is had after a few hours break with a puzzle (and a cat halping me). I do loves me a good puzzle, but they never seem to last long enough. I’ve got one 4000 pieces one which I’ve taken out now. That ought to keep me entertained for a while, but I’ve only done it once before and it’s quite difficult, so here I am for a bit of liquid courage. It took a month the first time around! O.O Not sure what I’ll do with it in regards to hoovering, but I’m sure I’ll think of something.
Anyway, my liquid courage has an aroma that is very much like the one in the third steep and therefore shan’t be commented further upon. The flavour is all smooth and slightly cake-y, and to my surprise the caramel bottom note is there again as strong as ever. It was just that the other notes were covering it up some before. Those have receded, though, so I’ve got caramel-y smoothness which even tastes ever so slightly thick and milky. That’s funny, I was certain the caramel note was finished.
The fifth steep seems to be the last. For one thing, I’m running out of day. For another thing, I’m also apparently running out of flavour. It’s still quite caramel-y, but that’s the only flavour note left to me. Maybe if I had increased the steeping time more than I did it would have been a different result, but I didn’t.
In that event, I shall pee, post, have dinner, watch The Pirates and go to bed. In that order.