1111 Tasting Notes
First of all, I had a little accident buying Kusmi the other day, so if anybody out there is fond of cinnamon flavoured black, I have a proposition for you. I shall post this on the boards as well. (Basically, I just grabbed a brown tin that looked exactly like the caramel… It was not caramel.)
Secondly, this tea is from aforementioned ill-fated Kusmi purchase and this one was not a mistake. It’s one I’ve been wanting to try for ages. Actually ever since I had that fantastic vanilla Nilgiri that Chi of Tea had and I became really interested in finding my perfect vanilla tea. Well, my second favourite anyway, as I’m giving up hope of the Chi of Tea vanilla ever getting back in stock.
What I like in a vanilla flavoured black is clearly present vanilla, and preferably with some leather-y undernotes of something akin to coconut. And it must be SMOOooooooooth, with a captial SMOO. The Chi of Tea one had all of this. I have yet to find the same flavour profile, fulfilling all requirements elsewhere although I have found some very acceptable alternatives.
This one had the right sort of aroma of the dry leaf. Not super sweet and obviously vanilla-y to the point of near cloying syntheticness, but something more rough and wood-y and leather-y. After steeping the vanilla flavouring smells subdued and the Chinese base is coming very nicely through. It smells grain-y and I wonder if there is some Fujian black involved here. Since they don’t say anything about it other than ‘Chinese black’ I’m assuming they’re using some sort of standardised blend of several to ensure a consistent flavour. There’s just something about it that smells rather Fujian-y.
Full marks on aroma, then.
The vanilla flavouring is extremely subtle. I’m getting a whole lot of ‘black tea’ and only a smidgen of vanilla. The funny thing is, in the Caramel from Kusmi, this subtleness is something I really like, but here I’m finding it vaguely disappointing. I mean, I don’t want a vanilla flavoured tea to be only sweet, but I do want there to be some sweetness, and I really think this could have benefited from a tad more of that aspect.
It does have potential, though. This would be one of the few that I might bother experimenting more extensively with the parameters to see what happens. A full boil heat, for example, in spite of what Kusmi says, and shorter or longer steeping times and less and more leaf. I think the steeping time would be the best place to start. It tastes that way.
I’m giving it a relatively low score to start with, then we’ll see later on if it can redeem itself under different conditions.
First of all, thank you everybody who commented or liked yesterday’s post. I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around it all yet, which as the
boyf fiancé(!!! I shall have to learn to spell this word now) said, nothing has actually really changed, but everybody is suddenly very excited.
Second, is it really six days since I last went through the recent posts page??? O.o I forgot to pay attention to how many pages it actually went back, but it was many! Okay, granted, I could have just caught up with the dashboard instead of going through all posts, but these days somehow reading the dashboard instead of the all recent posts feels a bit like reading the summary instead of bothering with the whole novel. It’s cheating and I’m obsessive-compulsive. The problem here, I expect, is probably especially the latter. :p
Thirdly, the thing about catching up with recent posts, especially when there are many, is that it’s inspiring! It makes me want to drink tea, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It also makes me want to drink tea to post about, tea I’ve never had before, which makes it all rather more complicated, because I can’t write a post at the same time as catching up on other people’s posts. I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work. One or the other always ends up being neglected and I find myself with half a post and cup of cold tea which wasn’t supposed to be cold.
In other words, I now get to compose a post based on some quickly taken down keywords. It will therefore likely be short and to the point and not very interesting. (‘To the point’ she says, having just written all of the above…)
I was given this tea by ssajami in our recent exchange (return package should be in transit) and as it was a shared pot I used the whole thing in one go. Very suitable amount of leaf for that too, as it turned out. I wasn’t sure about that at first, I thought I might have used too much, but otherwise it would have been a ridiculously small amount to save.
The aroma was extremely sweet. I thought it was very caramel-y with only a very small bit of that hay thing I normally associate Yunnans with.
Flavour-wise it was the same thing. Very sweet, very caramel-y and with no hint of either pseudo-smoke, pepper or spicy hay to be found, except a very small amount of the latter buried deep deep underneath all that caramel.
As the cup cooled a bit and the flavour developed some more, it was completely opposite. At that point the spicy hay that I’m more familiar with dominated the flavour, and it was the caramel buried deep underneath.
The weird thing was, though, that at the very bottom of the cup when it had cooled even more, the flavour turned itself upside down again, once more resembling the first impression.
Tempted to quote commercials and say, ‘because first impressions last’ here, but I shan’t.
All in all a very nice cup that I was pleased to get to sample.
This would be the first cup of the return of an old favourite recently returned to my
And actually, slightly unfair to the tea because it’s a really good tea, today it’s just a decoy cup.
See, something interesting happened to me this afternoon, involving me getting proposed to.
If you can guess what I answered, you win a cookie.
(Edit: Oh my goshy-wosh, this is still every bit as excellent as I remembered!)
It would appear I forgot to add this one to my cupboard when I received it a few days ago. This has been corrected. I did a swap with Ssajami recently. Well, actually, I’m still in one, as I’m currently in the planning stage of the return package. Should have it done by the end of the day.
This is the first of the teas I received that I’ve tried, and I can’t remember if I’ve ever had a Nepal before. I think I maybe have once or twice but I can’t remember anything about what it was like or what I thought of it, so it’s still a brand new experience for me.
The leaves looked quite Darjeeling-y, actually, in how they were not all black but had several lighter coloured and almost green leaves in there.The aroma is quite sweet and floral, with some slightly salty and grassy undertones that reminds me of Dragonwell.
Gosh, the flavour is very Darjeeling-like. Spicy and prickly and floral, with tons of grassyness underneath. My history with Darjeeling has been quite rocky. Initially, when I had my first ever First Flush, I found it all sorts of awesome. Just couldn’t get enough. Then one day the scales tipped and I just couldn’t have all that spicy pricklyness. It was too much. Presently I’m slowly inching my way back towards toleration. I don’t think I’ll ever go all the way into loving it again, but I can definitely tolerate it a lot better than I could just last year. It works best for me when it’s in a blend, really.
This, however, is not Darjeeling, but it tastes very similar. That prickly spicyness I mentioned, it leaves an almost bitter sensation on the tongue, and it’s just not something I can handle anymore. Perhaps I’m too used to the super-smooth chinese blacks which you really have to mistreat horribly to get this sort of stingy bitterness out of.
That is not to say that it’s unbearably bitter, mind. It really is very little and for people who like Darjeeling and similar teas, it would probably be experienced as something quite pleasant. I’m just not one of those people.
Maybe I’m being unfair in the heavy comparison to Darjeeling, but really this tastes so similar to me that it’s impossible not to, and it’s also impossible to ignore my Darj. bias.
I think the next time I have this, I shall have to mess around with steeping times a bit. I don’t think this one was ideal. (Yes, I did remember to not use boiling water)
Yesterday, we went to the zoo. When we got there, we went into their restaurant and had some cake and hot beverages of choice. They had an offer for coffee and cake, but uncharacteristically I chose to have tea instead. Primarily, because I saw they sold Kusmi as their tea, rather than the average mediocre super-market tea brand. Even more uncharacteristically, I chose one which wasn’t even tea.
I’m not sure what made me go for this, but as I looked at their selection it was just the one that was standing out to me the most.
It was actually quite pleasant. It was a bit subdued in flavour, but I put that down to the rather non-optimal brewing conditions, and also the fact that I probably could have let it steep for longer than I did. Just… I was thirsty.
I’m not normally much of a big mint-fan, but this one was minty without tasting like a mouthful of toothpaste. It was not a minty tisane as much as it was a tisane with a fresh touch of mint to it.
I’m not very familiar with verbena, though. I’ve had it a few times before, but have no memory of what I thought of it. In this blend I couldn’t quite pick it out as an individual flavour, but it seemed to support that minty touch quite well, giving an overall flavour of something quite impossible to pin down but still very nice.
I was really quite pleased with my choice and I might choose it again if having tea out somewhere where they offer this brand. I probably wouldn’t buy it for myself though, because I can’t quite see myself drinking it at home very much.
Points given not on a general scale of nom-ness, but in comparison to my usual attitude towards herbals.
(Of course then when we came home, my next stop turned out to be at the emergency vet’s with Luna for re-stitching. Stupid cat. She’s home now, with new stitches and wearing a green bodystocking which makes her look frightfully silly. Hopefully this will be enough for her to have a chance to heal up properly.)
Danish tax people are on to my activities. 196 kr in customs fees they demanded in ransom for my 52teas order. The contents of which cost 50 kr LESS than that, shipping included. Greedy greedy customs!
Anyway, this tea came out just after I had decided that I wanted to try some great cherry blacks. This is not a black, though, and it has other things than cherries going on, obviously, but still. Uncanny.
I was sceptical at first because of the brandy. I’ve mentioned before at length my dislike of alcohol in general, but having read some posts about it, it seems like the brandy shouldn’t be too strong. My curiosity returned and I plucked up the courage to buy some for myself and check it out. Somehow I don’t think I’d have managed to get peace of mind until I had tried it.
It smells quite cherry-y, but also of something else which I can only describe as borderline bubblegum. Synesthesia input says dark purple-y red.
Flavour is very much cherries as well, and also quite nutty, which I think is the white tea shining through. Also a touch of vanilla to all the fruit but not really enough to make much of a spectacle of itself. It’s a bit like onions in a spaghetti sauce. It doesn’t taste like onions at all, but if you leave them out, you’ll get a boring sauce. The vanilla is like that here. If it was left out, the flavour would be paler. Or maybe still very nice, but just different.
The brandy is excellent in its absence. I admit I don’t know what brandy really tastes like other than ‘alcoholic’ and since I dislike the alcoholic flavour and feeling of spirits, it’s impossible for me to get past it. So I’m not about to find out what it tastes like just to see if I can find it here. For me, the fact that I can’t find it, is a great big plus.
I’m glad I was brave and gave this a try, it was really well worth it. Whether it was also worth the extra customs expense… yeah, why not? Doesn’t mean I won’t whine about it though.
I need something with a bit of kapow and sizzle this morning. So I’m not sure why I chose this one, which I stated earlier could definitely have benefited from having a little more of kapow and sizzle in it. Maybe because it’s new?
Dramatic evening was dramatic, as Luna is a very naughty patient indeed and have lost all but one out of four or five stitches. So it’s back to the vet we go today and see about getting her patched up. I suspect the Cone of Shame is in her near future.
Hence the need for something sturdy.
I have guilt squared! Just dropped the kitties off at the animal hospital for spaying, ear tatooing and vaccination. Luna was looking at me as I left, betrayal painted across her little face. Will be picking them up again between 2 and 3 o’clock this afternoon and we’ll see if they hate me horribly then. In the meantime I must have something to soothe my frazzled nerves.
This is the last of the three I ordered from J&J, the three in my cupboard from them that I have left to try are the three free samples they included. I’m not sure why I bought this one, actually, given my reservations towards the Grey family. I think it’s some sort of thing where that’s a kind of tea that I have decided that I would like to like, so I can’t quite get myself to completely ignore it. The straight up Earl Greys are not the problem. It’s the variations that attract me. This one, I think, had me at ‘Girlie’.
Now the aroma of the leaves does indeed very much resemble the description by J&J, as ‘a boudoir in a cup’. I can easily pick out the bergamot, and lemon is not hard to find either, given the huge chunks of dried lemon in the leaves. And not just lemon peel as has been seen before by other companies. This is the first time I’ve actually seen actual dried lemon pieces in tea leaves. Peel and fruit bits and all!
Secondly there is vanilla and rosebuds, giving the aroma a sweet and floral aspect respectively. These two are what actually provides the majority of the girlie quality for me. It doesn’t smell quite pink, but we’re definitely in the lightly purple area here.
All in all, the aroma is quite pleasant, if a bit heady.
The flavour is very smooth and citrus-y. The vanilla is giving it all a creamy sort of feel to it and the bergamot is not too strong. It’s very clearly present, but it’s not overwhelming and it seems quite fresh and crispy. I think it’s the lemon that’s giving it that lift. It seems to me that I have a tendency to enjoy the Grey family more in general if there is either smoke or lemon involved. Perhaps one of these days I should try to make myself a classic EG with a slice of lemon in the cup.
I’m not sure what the rosebuds do here. I can definitely find some floral notes in the tea, but that might as well just be bergamot top notes. I can’t tell one kind of floral from another, so I can’t be certain of this at all. I choose to believe it comes from the rosebuds in this case.
This is a tea with a whole lot of stuff going on in it. Bergamot AND lemon AND vanilla AND floral rosebuds. It’s a very busy cup, which I find somewhat confusing to drink. It’s hard to get a proper grasp on the flavour as a whole, I think.
On the other hand, if it didn’t have so much going on in it, I’m not sure I would have cared for it much. A lot of these things are things I normally wouldn’t care much for but here are evening each other out in a pleasant way.
I think I will rather enjoy this tin. I’m not sure I’ll buy more of it after it’s gone though.
Oxford. I always get associations to something rather posh when I think ‘Oxford’. Same with Cambridge really, but having actually been in Cambridge, these days my associations with Cambridge have more to do with excessive book shopping to be honest.
Anyway, the tea smells rather posh too, and although the chap on the tin is definitely Oxford-y, he looks rather too mischievous to be associated with this sort of posh smelling tea.
The tea is blended of Assam and Keemun, and I have to say they’re pulling it off extremely well. I can easily pick out both flavour profiles. The high, slightly astringent notes of Assam, with semi-cardboard flavour and raisin notes and the grainy undertones of Keemun providing the body, with floral flower-y notes and smoothness.
It’s really a very pleasant blend this, well suited both for mornings and afternoons, and I suspect if you were a milk-in-tea-er, it would carry milk nicely as well.
My first order from Jeeves and Jericho has arrived and it’s full of goodies. I ordered three tins of tea and a strainer shaped like a leaf.
I have received three tins of tea, a strainer shaped like a leaf, three samples of tea, a plastic measuring spoon, a button with their logo and a postcard.
The leaves have a lovely smoky aroma, which I could smell as soon as I got the lid off the tin. Smoky and wood-y and remarkably sweet. Like dark, dark caramel. Not just dark, but daaaaaaaaaaaaaahrk!
After steeping it’s almost the same, although the wood-y parts of the aroma has been rather turned down. Now it’s mostly smoky and dark, dark caramel. I can detect something vaguely floral now as well.
All this bodes quite well for the flavour, I should say.
Surprisingly, the first sip is Darjeeling. Forcefully so. Some of you may remember I had the Samovar blend from Kusmi, which I suspected of containing Darjeeling. I can’t remember, though, if it was merely a suspicion or if it was confirmed to have Darjeeling in it, and to be honest I can’t be bothered to look it up now. (I think it was confirmed) This tea reminds me of that blend, mainly because of that very bright initial meeting with Darjeeling in the flavour.
With the Samovar blend, I was mildly sceptical at first, but it really did grow on me, so in spite of my usual misgivings about Darjeeling in general, I am not concerned. Besides, I did know from the beginning that it would contain Darjeeling. But you see it also contains Lapsang Souchong. And LS trumps all!
Anyway, we have established that it reminds me of the Kusmi Samovar blend. First sip, Darjeeling. Bright and cheerful, bouncing up to say hello to the tastebuds. Slightly grassy and slightly spicy, but not offensively so. Hello to you too, Darjeeling.
Second sip is larger and contains more smoky notes than the first, but also more Darjeeling. That Darjeeling creature really is all over the place in this blend. It’s like a little over-eager dog who’s trying to greet every single family member simultaneously and so is bouncing up and down and around, very nearly actually succeeding in being in five places at the same time.
Let’s ignore the unruly Darjeeling for a moment though, and maybe it will calm down and behave itself.
There’s a grainy note as well here and something floral, which tells me the Keemun is present and accounted for. It’s very subtle though, and easy to overlook if one doesn’t pay attention or if one is overwhelmed by aforementioned Darjeeling. I could very much have wished for this aspect to be stronger.
I should have liked the LS and the smoke to stand out a bit more as well. As smoky blends go, this one is pretty mild. A beginner’s smoky blend perhaps. (I shan’t say a ‘girly kind of smoky’, although it was the first thing that popped into my head.)