1255 Tasting Notes
Ninavampi sent this to me, and I’m certain I’ve tried it hot at some point, but as it doesn’t appear that I wrote about it at the time, I honestly can’t remember what I thought of it. I can’t have thought it was particularly outstanding, as I’m sure I would have been able to remember that.
Instead of another round of hot, however, I made the rest of it in a cold brew, which I initially thought was slightly odd. That only lasted until I got over the fact that it’s a honeybush base, not a tea one.
The vanilla comes out very nicely in the cold brew and it mixes well with the slightly wooden flavour of the honeybush. I find it’s at it’s very best when it has just come out of the fridge and is still as chilled as possible. The honeybush starts to take over a bit as it warms up.
Yeah, just a short one here. Those wigsaws don’t do themselves, you know!
This is one that the boss and I drink copious amounts of at work, and the boss especially is very fond of it. And yeah, once again ACP’s steeping instructions are Teh Krazey! A fruit flavoured blend of black and white, there is NO WAY I’m steeping that for 7 whole minutes. And there is even less way I’m doing it in boiling water. I can only conclude that the good people at ACP like their tea vastly different from how I like mine.
Anyway, fruit flavoured black and white. I have not been able to discover exactly what sort of fruit, but there is some sort of citrus peel in there and on the whole I think it tastes vaguely tropical, so my best guess is orange and something else. Perhaps pineapple or passion fruit. I have finally succumbed to curiosity and sent them an email asking about it.
The first time we bought it, it was the boss’ choice and I think she was initially drawn to it because she liked the tin, and then found the description interesting. She has since then requested the tin re-filled. We have a selection of six different ones to choose from and as it looks like now, three of them are always this, the Late Summer blend and the internationally acclaimed Raspberry Oolong. Slowly we are beginning to understand that the remaining three needs to be flavoured as well, because unflavoured teas, even those that we otherwise really enjoy, just don’t seem to fit in properly in the work place and they’re never even half as nice when made there.
I’m very certain of the orange, and here at home where I can brew it far better than I can at work, it’s very very orange-y indeed. I can also detect some floral notes around the edges, which I attribute to the inclusion of white in the blend. This flavour is shaped like a half globe. Most of it is orange-y fruit flavour, the flat bottom surface is the black base and the curved surface is the floral note. I’m not really getting much of the black base here, but I’m rather getting the impression that it would be very noticable if it weren’t there.
Brewed here at home, under more controlled conditions than is possible at work, I’m finding it really rather pleasant. At work, it very much varies. Not surprising considering the white content and the inability to really control water temperature much.
I’m slightly surprised that the boss has fallen for such a tea under those circumstances, but really, even though the quality of the individual brews vary, it’s not at all a finicky tea. As mentioned, brewing conditions are FAR from controlled and we don’t always have time to actually hang around in the lunchroom until tea is finished brewing. We make a liter at the time in a thermos using those filterbags that you put leaves in yourself, and it has happened more times than I can count that a tea has had a good half hour because we were distracted by Evil Work and forgot about it. I think that’s part of the reason unflavoured teas just don’t work well there. Added flavouring can hide a LOT of abuse.
Okay, so the Sawadee stemed Darj was a fiasco, but there are other fishies in the sea. Here is one that came to me from Infusin_Susan and the amount of leaf was just right for a small non-sharing cup, although not for many short steeps, I don’t think.
This type has also been touch and go for me in the past. Either it’s tasted very floral and sort of cucumber/courgette-y or it has been slightly astringent with a strong note of nuts. I very much prefer the latter, really.
The aroma of this one is very much in the cucumber department with a few floral hints around it. At first sip, it’s very sweet, but then that cucumber-y notes start creeping up along the sides of the tongue and after just a few sips, I’ve got a strong aftertaste going on, reminding me a bit of the flavour you get if you take a sip of water just after having woken up. For some reason that just always taste a bit weird. The more I think about this one, the more I feel it has a metallic sort of tinge to it. Perhaps there is a smidge of nuts at the very, very top of the flavour, but not very much. Certainly not nearly enough to fit my idea of what I want it to taste like.
But on a positive side, it’s a decupboarding. We are drinking down the stash!
Now for the handful of other BMD samples I’ve got… I’ll finish this one off first though. It may not be anything particularly great, but it’s drinkable, which is more than I could say of the Sawadee.
OH! And I forgot to mention that yesterday’s expedition for bridal equipment was a success, and if anybody is interested in seeing a picture of the dress I chose, may add me on Livejournal or Dreamwidth (ask me for username) if they have an account there, and I’ll show you. Can’t do it here, because the boyfriend creature sometimes looks, and as far as he’s concerned, it’s a state secret. :D
Okay, this one comes with a couple of reservations. 1) I don’t much like regular Darjeeling, no matter which flush. As a region, it’s wildly overrated in my opinion. 2) This looks more like a black tea than a green tea to me. 3) I’ve had a green tea of this brand before and it was UNBELIEVABLY bitter no matter how low the temperature or short the steep. It may have been caused by the additives that it was flavoured with, but frankly that sort of thing leaves a scar on a person.
Having worked out recently that I tend to like greens a lot better in small steeps rather than western style, I’m giving it a shot now, but I’m going to warn you right here and now. If I don’t like it, I’m not going to get through more than one or two steeps. I refuse to work my way through a lot of unpleasantness on the off chance that it might become nicer later on.
Gosh, I sound a bit harsh today, don’t I?
Anyway, I tried a 20 second steep first, which, in spite of issue 2, does smell green, so okay, I’ll give it that point. The aroma is otherwise kind of sweet and rather grassy. Not vegetal-y fresh grass, but more like a grass clippings lying around a few days after the lawn was mowed. That’s not so good, because that’s the exact note that I dislike Darjeelings for. One can only hope that it comes out less here than it does in regular Darjeeling. At this point I’m trying very hard not to think about the fact that Darjeeling teas are often processed in a way that puts them fairly close to actually being green teas in and of themselves. Luna the cat seems to find it quite interesting though.
It may smell like a green tea, but it doesn’t taste like one. It tastes more like a generic oolong gone cold. Sort of wood-y and earth-y, but without the dislikable Darjeeling note of spicy grass clippings.
It’s very very difficult to try and say something worthwhile about something that tastes like something boring gone even more boring, so I’ll skip right along to the next steep and see if any further experimentation with this one is worth my time.
Doubling the steep time, I know get a juicy, slightly tart element to the aroma which is fine. Unfortunately, I also get a brew that is unmistakably astringent and would have been very bitter indeed had it had just a few seconds more.
And this is at 40 seconds, 70°C.
You know what? Plock this. I’ll be getting rid of the remainder at first given opportunity.
Good morning Steepsterites.
Today I’m going off on a Top Secret Mission with my mother to do with wedding preparations and such things. I have time to fortify myself with a cup of tea first though, and to this effect I chose the last of the JJM samples that Spoonvonstrup shared with me. This one came out of a large, silver, foil wrapper.
I didn’t do much in the way of dry leaf aroma this morning (It’s only ten past seven, you can’t expect miracles), but I did note that it had a fairly strong note of chocolate to it. I noticed that one because I didn’t need to have my nose anywhere near the leaves at all in order to pick up on it.
It’s still there after steeping, and it’s strong. I swear this smells like a cup of hot milk chocolate which has somehow turned grainy. Because there is a grain-note in it as well. It smells almost Fujian-y! Oh joy!
I posted this in a comment elsewhere this morning, but there totally ought to be Fujian Drinkers’ Society or something. I’d join in a heartbeat. Sometimes it seems to me like Keemun and Yunnans are getting all the attention and poor little Fujian is pushed rather to the sidelines. That’s just not fair. The Fujian Society would promote Fujian blacks and make sure they received the glory they so rightfully deserve.
Anyway, when I’m not busy plotting a new world order, I actually find time to focus on the tea at hand. So aroma, chocolate-y and grain-y and Fujian-y. Good signs, these.
The flavour, however, is somewhat more confusing, because I don’t get that feeling of Fujianness from it. Oh, all the elements are there; the grainy bottom and the chocolate-y overtones, but it’s just not quite there. I wouldn’t say it tasted particularly Yunnan-y either, and if you recall, the other JJMs that I tried which were definitely from Yunnan had a fair bit of Yunnanness in them. This one is sort of shadow-regional, not really one or the other, (Could it be a third region entirely, perhaps?) because while it has all the elements that I would normally say was required for a tea to have Fujianness, it also has a touch of straw and pepper, which I would normally say was tell-tale Yunnanness.
I like this better than the confirmed Yunnan versions of JJM, because of the Fujian-y notes and also because the Yunnan-y notes are so mild. I think my problem with Yunnans is that often the straw note is very strong and insistent, and while I don’t actively dislike it, I just need it to be a little more subdued in order to be pleasant.
I think I’ve decided this one is more Fujian than anything else though. I can’t argue with that grain and chocolate combination, and as it cools a bit it also develops that slightly juicy note which feels like biting a berry.
Interestingly, and very unlike the others I’ve tried of this type, this one doesn’t have any smoke to it at all. Not in the primary flavour profile, not in the aftertaste, not in the aroma. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. All the others did without exception, and given the fact that JJM is supposedly a type of Lapsang Souchong, I was rather expecting smoke here, so I have to snip a few points off for that.
Here is another one, received as a free giftie with an order, and another fine example of how ACP tends to shoot rather past the target with these. I’m not keen on floral scented things to be honest, and out of those, jasmine is probably my least favourite. And I’ve accumulated two of these somehow.
I think this is meant to be taken in very small amounts. I can drink maybe half a small cup before the jasmine overpowers me with the perfume. It’s so…. little old lady.
Eh, I give up. It’s just so not me it’s not even funny. Obviously my Open Mind is having a day off or something.
I received this sample from cteresa and the following was written before I looked it up on Steepster.
I smell… coconut, vanilla and some sort of fruit.
The flavour is a bit rough, which I attribute partly to the base and partly to the heavy coconut note. There really is a little too much coconut in here for me. I get vanilla in the aftertaste and around the edges, but that fruit is eluding me. I can tell it’s there, because there is a depth to the coconut and vanilla which I get the impression wouldn’t otherwise have been there, but I’ll be darned if I can find that note on it’s own in any way at all, much less find out what I think it is. My bet is on something tropical because pineapple strikes me as something that would fit in here.
And then I looked it up to see that it’s a blend of Assam, chocolate and caramel.
Okay, caramel and vanilla can be confused so what I perceived as vanilla is probably the caramel. Chocolate? Hmmm, perhaps that has something to do with the coconut-y note, although I do still think it’s more coconut-y than anything else. I’m not really sure I’ve ever met a chocolate flavoured tea that I though was truly chocolate-y, which is kind of funny considering how often that note shows up naturally. No fruit, but an Assam base. I can’t find any Assam characteristics underneath the flavouring, but I think that accounts for the sort of rough, slightly astringent feeling of it. Perhaps it’s the maltyness that cheated me into thinking there was fruit involved?
Perhaps it’s because I subconsciously expected this one to be similar to the wedding blend from Harney&Sons?
Perhaps it’s because I’ve got so used to my flavoured black teas being on a Chinese base that it never occurred to me that it might be something else entirely?
Perhaps my tongue just needs to be calibrated?
It’s a pleasant tea, though. Even if it has caused rather a lot of confusion this morning.
Due to yesterday’s notices page glitch, there are now 27 notices I can’t get to because the page hangs when I try to load beyond a certain point. First it was four, then it was eight and now 27. Depending on where the glitchy one is, I suspect it should be possible to get to some of them, but knowing my luck, the glitchy one is probably the youngest of them.
This sample came to me from Infusin_Susan and I had completely forgotten about it. I had to actually look it up just to figure out where it came from. I’ve decided to semi-gong fu it, as lately it has appeared to me as though I generally just find green tea much more pleasant when taken that way, whereas western style often gets to be rather too much and with a sour annoying aftertaste. The funny thing is that when it comes to oolongs, at least of the darker and/or roasted sorts, I’m completely opposite and the western style of brewing suits me better.
This one, I have started at 30 seconds, and the aroma is sort of leafy and herb-y. There is a touch of earthiness in it, kind of like the difference between smelling a fresh herb in a pot versus its dried equivalent.
Then I forgot about it for a while and it cooled off considerably. That earthy herb-y note is now grassy and the tea itself is lukewarm. It does still have flavour, though. It’s smooth and soft and bright yellow. There is a slight butter-y feeling to it, but not, I think, very much. Most of the flavour is more or less grass-y and perhaps ever so slightly salty. It’s fairly straight forwards, even though it’s the sort of flavour that has me searching for notes of apples that I just can’t find. I think that’s because of the flavoured green from the other day, which I believe was based on a Chinese Sencha, so now I have developed expectations.
Second time I also used 30 seconds and now it tasted a lot greener and less butter-y. This steep was much closer to the leafy greens and fresh herbs, but apart from that adjustment, it was pretty much the same as the first. Just more intensely so.
I was going to do a lot more of this sample, but at this point, I’m just really wanting something black and warming, because I’m knackered and freezing. I think for a conclusion on this one, it came across as more or less Default Green Tea. That’s not particularly interesting, but I can’t claim that it’s a bad thing either.
EMPTY THAT B…eh, you know the drill at this point. I’m emptying the sample box and in general trying to drink the stash down. All the way down. Ish.
Therefore I have recently placed another Le Palais des Thes order. :D This one is just a stocking up on some favourites, though. The boyfriend has fallen head over heels for the Tigger Tea and had asked me a few times if I had ordered more yet as the pouch is close to empty. I hadn’t because technically I’m not allowed to buy anything until after the wedding. Plus, the whole drinking down thing. But I caved and got him some more Tigger, and while I was at it stocked up on the four red fruits, foret noir and toffee as well. The toffee is nearly gone too, and I’m not quite finished with that one yet. Only got one new thing and that was a rooibos in the spirit of flavoured rooibos exploration, so I thought that almost didn’t count.
Anyway, this doesn’t mean that we’re not still going to make some drastic reductions here.
So. This one came from Spoonvonstrup as well. It almost looks like a theme, but that’s because that package contained primarily black teas, and I’m just in a black tea sort of mood at the moment. Also, those are the easiest ones to drink for me, as it’s my preferred type.
The aroma is really nice. It’s grainy and cocoa-y and rather sweet. I don’t know squat about this tea, but it smells kind of Fujian-y. Now, that’s quite promising, indeed. There’s also something vaguely red berry-y about this aroma. I’m put in mind of currants and not too sweet cherries when I smell this, but it’s ever so vague.
Now, that was an odd flavour. Hmm. Strange. Unexpected. Kind of straw-like without being Yunnan-y. That’s new! It tastes brightly orange, this one, as in the colour, not the fruit. I think it’s that almost-straw that does it along with a touch of something a bit wood-y.
On closer inspection, I find a lot of that cocoa note in the flavour as well as a lot of grain. In spite of the above mysteriousness, it has totally retained that Fujian-ness in the flavour. That, in this case, isn’t particularly interesting though.
I know; I said it.
Yeah, I’m shocked too, Steepsterites.
But really, the intersting thing about this flavour in this particular tea, apart from having a lot of nommy Fujian-ness, is that note of red berry from the aroma. It’s still here! It’s tart and juicy and juuuuust underneath everything else. I think it’s more currrants than anything else at this point, though, but I’m totally associating it with biting a juicy berry.
Now Spoonvonstrup, if you can weigh in with an origin confirmation on this one, I should be grateful. Fujian or thereabouts is my immediate guess.
EMPTY THAT BOX!
This is a green blend which Cteresa has shared with me. I had received a sample from Le Palais des Thes of a very similar blend containing green tea, apple, almonds, cinnamon and ginger. I thought the ginger in that one was overpowering all the other ingredients and rather ruining the experience for me. I don’t care for ginger. This blend which Cteresa shared with me has all of the same ingredients except ginger, so she offered to share so I could compare them. This also gave her the opportunity to share a number of other Yumchaa teas with me, because I had been contemplating an order from them. Sadly I haven’t really been completely overwhelmed with the ones I thought I would like so far, but I still have a few to try out, so I’m not discouraged.
Anyway, this particular one was the primary reason for her to send me that little care package, and now it’s turn has come. The company description of it compares it to apple crumble which, with these ingredients? I can totally see!
Let’s just get one thing straight here.
I. Love. Crumbles.
Based on this and the company descriptions? My expectations are positively soaring on this one.
The aroma is definitely not disappointing. It has a whole lot of apple in it along with a smidgeon of cinnamon around the edges. It smells very sweet as well, which I attribute to the almonds. Almonds, to me, taste quite sweet, especially when they’ve been chopped and cooked in some way. There may be some of the base tea shining through as well, but it seems all tangled up in the apple, so it’s difficult for me to tell whether it’s all flavouring or if some of it is naturally occurring.
The base tea is very strong in the flavour, however, surprising me with an unexpected note of leafy greens. Spinach perhaps, or rocket salad. At first it came with a stab of disappointment because it made me think that the flavouring would be weak and undetectable.
My fears were soon abated because barely had I thought the thought before the apple wormed it’s way in underneath with a slightly tangy note. Unmistakably fruity.
This then made me aware of the cinnamon which, if you think of the flavour experience as a circle with the most prominent notes in the center, keeps along the edges of the flavour. Discreet and out of the way, but definitely very present.
The almond element is very elusive though, but I think I caught a glimpse of it just as I swallowed and in the aftertaste.
Apple crumble? Yes, I can totally see that connection.
Better than the ginger-y LPdT blend? Immensely so.
This blend was like made for me, or something!