1311 Tasting Notes
Another one based on hastily scribbled notes, this tea was from my Discover China TeaSpring order, in which I sought to try out other parts of China apart from just Fujian and the search for the perfect Keemun. …Erm, yes. Well, I am aware that this is in fact a Keemun. In my Discover China order. Which was supposed to take me a little away from that. But honestly TeaSpring has a handful of Keemuns to choose from and as I am still searching for that elusive perfect one, wouldn’t it be stupid to not get some when I was ordering anyway? I think so too.
I have mentioned before my preference tendencies with the leaf grades of Keemun, so I shan’t go into all that again. Suffice to say that this one is the cheapest one the offer, because to me that seemed to spell the highest chance of success.
The aroma had that nice, mild smoky top note, which is exactly as I prefer it. There was a nice bit of sweetness and grainyness to it as well. In the dry leaf, this grain-y note came off as quite malty.
Basically the aroma of this Keemun is pretty much spot on for how I imagine I want the perfect Keemun to appear.
It was a smooth cup. Soft and almost creamy as if I could almost imagine that milk had been added to it. (Note, I never add milk or sugar to anything) The body of the flavour struck me as somewhat thin, though, which was a bit of a disappointment. I had been hoping for something with a bit of substance to it. I think, though, that this is something that might be fixed by having a closer look at the amount of leaf used. I should like to see if the grain-y notes can’t be made to fill out a bit more.
One of the most important things about a great Keemun is that smoky top-note. I already mentioned that it was near perfection in the aroma and it isn’t indeed present in the flavour as well. This is the note that in higher leaf grades seem to turn more floral in nature, but this cheap-skate version from TeaSpring had just the right level of smokyness over floralness.
So on the smoky level, we so have a winner. On the body level, well, it remains to be seen. I really must do a little experimentation with it to find that out for sure. It did develop a little more as it cooled down, though, but that just didn’t really seem enough for it to be a truly awesome Keemun. If the leaf amount is not enough to take it to a higher level of enjoyment, then I suspect I must go one stop further up on the leaf grade ladder and see what happens. I just hope, should that happen, that it won’t mean a loss of that great balance of smoky versus floral notes.
(You know what’s weird? Writing about a Keemun while drinking a forest fruit flavoured tea. I keep expecting the tea in the cup to taste like Keemun…)
I have been rather desperate to try some of these Butiki blends for quite some time now. They seem to be so unanimously well received and strawberry oolong in particular sounds like something that can’t fail. So when I was in a position to offer Hesper June a sample from my collection of something she was interested in trying and I had the chance to ask, I took the opportunity to ask if she might be able to spare a sample of some of that. She was!
This particular one wasn’t initially one that had made that much of a bleep on my radar. Not until I actually removed it from the box that Hesper June sent me. Then I went all ‘Ooooooooooh!’ and my eyes were like this O.O and now I’m going to try it having just been waiting for a good time to do so since, ooh, Friday.
The leaves definitely smelled like pistacio ice cream. In a sort of way in which the ice cream doesn’t smell cold, which is kind of odd. I imagine if you could freeze dry ice cream, that’s what it would smell like. Powerfully nutty too and almost marcipan-y.
After steeping it’s less of the freeze dried ice cream and more of the pistachio and almost marcipan-y notes. It reminds me of Christmas marcipan sweets, which frankly makes me wonder if I’m going into some specific Christmas mode or something! Second time today I’ve had something that I thought smelled like Christmas.
Oh, that’s very pistachio on the flavour! How intereting! There have been so many different nutty flavoured teas out there, but I’ve never had one with pistachio before and now I honestly can’t think why. It lends it’s flavour beautifully to the base, and I definitely think a green tea was the right choice for the base here.
I’m getting mostly the green base and the pistachios in the flavour, but then it’s a very smooth experience. Long and smooth and thick. I think this is supposed to be the ice cream bit, and although it’s not as sweet as actual ice cream, it does indeed invoke that sort of thought. (If it was as sweet as ice cream, I probably wouldn’t have liked it.)
I’m so glad I asked Hesper June to sample some Butiki, and I’m glad she decided to share some of this one with me. It’s lovely.
This is another one from Auggy and I have to admit that when I unwrapped this tin, my immediate thought was ‘Russian gout?’ O.o So that’s what it’s called in my head now. Russian gout. It probably has rather a lot to do with the fact that I don’t speak French.
Anyway, it’s a black base flavoured with seven types of citrus fruits, first and foremost among which appears to be bergamot, when going by the aroma. Both the leaves and the steeped cup is heavy on the aroma and then with the other fruits slightly more in the background and just strong enough to make it not a variation on the Earl Grey theme.
When it comes to the flavour it’s evened out a bit more, but I can’t say I can pick out the different fruits individually. It’s all just a mixture of generic citrusness on a black base.
It’s quite pleasant actually, and it reminds me of the Kusmi Russian blend sampler I had once; a combination of Anastasia and Troika I think would produce something quite similar to this. That makes it a rather heavy sort of flavour, where those two Kusmis I remember as being fairly light on the feet. I think I preferred those two respectively over this more lumbering beast. I would have liked to have seen a little more ‘lift’ in this, if you understand what I mean by that. It feels a little to me like there might have been just one ingredient too many in this combination.
Still, though, if what you’re looking for is just something citrus-y without requiring anything more specific than that, then this is a good choice.
This Yunnan was shared with me by Auggy and I have to say I’m sceptical as soon as I see the word ‘Yunnan’. However, as you may recall, I had a rather nice Yunnan the other day which didn’t have that flavour of hay, and it reminded me that all Yunnan is not created equal and that some of it is actually quite nice. So therefore I am going forth with this, safe in the knowledge that Auggy has come to know my tastes very well.
So is this one of the nommy Yunnans or one of the meh ones? The aroma isn’t really giving me much of a clue. It’s quite chocolate-y and sweet spicy, but there is also a tinge to the spice note that say, “hay, there!” (Did you see what I did there? Teehee!) Mostly though, it’s sweetie-like in the aroma so I go forth, still not completely put off.
So that was the leaves. The cup after steeping smells less chocolate-y and far more sweet spicy. I have to say it reminds me most of all of ‘brunkager’ 1 which is a very traditional Danish Christmas biscuit. Funny to find that in tea! On the tail end of summer no less. It does indeed bode well for the flavour, especially as you can see that I didn’t find any of those hay-like notes here.
So flavour. Disappointingly the association to Christmas biscuits stop here. And yes it was a disappointment, because the aroma in the cup was SO like it, that my tongue was already preparing itself for that particular flavour. And all it got was tea. Which is all good and well but not really what it was looking for at this point. How tricksy this aroma is!
Rather than a spicy biscuit, it’s actually more sort of broth-y. I’m still getting the spicy notes, but it doesn’t show itself as so sweet here in the flavour. My first and foremost association is actually to a time when I was served a soup which was spiced with these same spices. There is a whiff of that hay in the background, but it never really comes out in any significant manner, and there also isn’t any of those cocoa or chocolate notes that have tended to be a good sign of a Yunnan that I would actually enjoy. There is a pleasant sort of malty, creamy aftertaste though, which pulls the whole thing in a third direction.
This one comes out fairly in the middle of the two experiences with Yunnan that I’ve had and with a pointer towards a thirdk and that makes it difficult for me to work out what to do with it. I think I’m mostly enjoying it, but I probably wouldn’t go out and purchase it. I expect with those spicy notes, from a Danish point of view it would work excellently in a Christmas blend.
2 Look, Nik showed me the other day how to do footnotes! Isn’t that neat?! :D
This stuff smells fab, I must say. Auggy shared it with me, and I only have to read the description to understand why. This stuff sounds right up my alley!
It reminds me strongly of the orange flavoured pu-erh from Nothing But Tea which I lurve. I must stock up on that again soon! It’s all orangy and slightly rough around the edges, although disappointingly not smoky. It’s supposed to be lightly smoked this stuff in the base.
Well, I think ‘lightly’ is the keyword here. Either that or it’s a tea which comes with a naturally occurring degree of smoky notes. It’s Chinese, so that option isn’t really all that unlikely. I find that a whiff of something smoky is not uncommon in Chinese blacks. I just… I could have wished for it to come out more in the aroma.
That aside, though, as I mentioned initally, it does smell fab. (Charm the Cat appears to find it unbelievably stinky, though. She just made that face like she trying to protect her nose by pulling it into her own skull)
Now, the flavour, however, that’s where all the action is.
Based on the aroma alone, I would have thought it was going to be something quite orange-y but as it turns out the orange is mere adding the highlights on a deliciously smoky black. It’s not quite LS strength smoke, but it’s along those lines, and definitely more smoky than anything that would turn up naturally. Still, once again the keyword is lightly smoked.
At first I get the orange. Lots of orange, but not any sort of fresh orange, really. It’s more something that gives me associations to dried orange slices used as decoration. Those look great and if one were to bite one, I imagine it would taste like this. So orange on a slightly rough and dark body. Then the smoky notes come in on the swallow and the aftertaste.
I should really like to know what the base for this is. I have a suspicion that it might be delish on it’s own as well as in this blend. (And I have a few suspicions of the Anhui sort as I’m getting the impression of something grainy in there. Perhaps blended with a different region to give it a little more darkness and depth)
Also, this base with a red berry flavour. That has the potential to be epic!
A friend of ours passed away last night following a massive brain hemorrhage.
Steepsterites, please PLEASE look after yourselves and your bodies and PLEASE learn the warning symptoms of stroke and brain hemorrhage. I cannot stress enough how important this is. It can strike like lightning from a clear sky and every single split second counts.
Then toast with me, please.
It’s been ages since I’ve had a breakfast blend! I’m relatively familiar with the English Breakfast, less so with the Irish Breakfast, which out of the two I prefer because it’s a little stronger and a little heartier. Scottish Breakfast, however, is new to me, so I’ve been curious about it for some time. It’s the completionist in me. Getting the British Isles rounded of, sort of. (I wonder if there’s a Welsh Breakfast out there somewhere too…?)
Hesper June shared this one with me and her parcel arrived at the same time as a parcel from Auggy did. Lately I’ve taken to keeping unposted about teas on my desk, and I had just got it almost cleared from the TeaSpring order when this happened! Since Auggy in particular went completely ballistic and shared a whole tea shop with me, it seems like, the desk is now littered with tiny tins and I have my work cut out for me here. It makes it very difficult to work out where to start! O.O Exploring the selection a little, however, I found this and thought, ‘Gosh! How ideal!’
I still haven’t got any new Roy Kirkham (I’m working on it) pots, so I found the really rubbish tea-for-one pot in the back of the cupboard and resigned myself to the fact that this pot requires pouring over the sink, while trying not to despair too much about the waste.
Now, according to Hesper June this is a blend of Indian, Ceylon and China teas, which made me sigh, because really, how hard is it to be specific? I get that they don’t want to reveal too much of their secret recipe, but I just want to know which regions we’re dealing with. There are HUGE differences between regions in India alone. But then again, I expect the average consumer doesn’t really care about that level of detail, and likely it wouldn’t mean that much to most of them anyway.
Guess the ingredient it is, then.
Well, from the aroma alone I’m already suspecting the first one and the flavour strengthens that suspicion. I think there must be Darjeeling in here. It has that grassy, spicy aroma and the same sort of grassy flavour to it, along with a certain mineralness. I don’t think it’s very much, though. I can’t find it on every sip, but in the aroma, especially while I was pouring it, it seemed very clear.
Then there’s something quite sweet in the aroma as well. There is the Darjeeling note, in a sort of fleeting way, at the top followed immediately by something floral, and underneath all that is the sweet bit. It smells not like caramel but sort of along those lines. A bit malty and quite heavy too, as if the weight of it made it sink below those other notes. It doesn’t show up so much in the flavour as such, but it stands out in the aftertaste, again as a caramel-esque note. It rather enhances the impression that it’s heavier than the other notes and that I might reach it better when I get closer to the bottom of the cup. I have absolutely nothing to base this on, but get a strong impression that this note is from the Ceylon element.
Now finally, I mentioned a floral note, and here I think we have our China participant. Keemun, I think, which accounts to the malty element of what I imagine to be the Ceylon note and that floral note. You know how Keemuns, dependent on quality and leaf grade, can have either a pseudo-smoky top note or a floral one, or even sometimes both, yes? I tend to prefer the smoky one over the others. The floral element here, however, reminds me strongly of the way a floral Keemun tastes, so I think that’s what it must be.
So Keemun and Darjeeling to give it character, Ceylon to give it body, I think. I can’t really region-guess on the Ceylon, I’m far too inexperienced with that area to do that. I’m puzzled, though, as to why I can’t find any Assam in here. I thought Assam was pretty much a breakfast blend given. Of course me not being able to find it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Me being able to find something doesn’t even mean that it is there.
Now, I don’t much care for Darjeeling at all, so when I first smelled that in the aroma my initial reaction was to be a bit wary, but as it turns out there wasn’t really anything to be afraid of here. Yes, it has the Darjeeling notes that I don’t like, but they are not on their own. In a blend, they get spaced out a bit and complemented by the other ingredients. This way, I find it much more tolerable, so I’m beginning to think my dislike of pure Darjeeling is simply due to an overload of these particular notes. It seems to be going down just fine in a blend.
I hate c25k with the burning passion of a thousand suns. There I said it. Now let’s move on.
Here’s another Explore China tea, and as some of you may have noticed it’s a Yunnan black.
“Hey, hang on!” I hear some of you exclaim. “You keep saying you don’t care for Yunnan blacks!”
“Yes,” I answer, “that is quite correct. Well spotted! However, there is the odd exception to the rule, and this is it.”
“But you keep saying that Yunnan black tastes like hay and you can spot it mile off!” I hear some of you protesting.
“I can. But not ALL Yunnan black tastes like hay. Most do, but some don’t,” I reply patiently.
“Hmmm…” I hear some of you mutter sceptically. “Ang with a Yunnan black… this cannot end well.”
Well, let’s not turn the whole thing into a screenplay, lest we be forced to act it out. 95% of all Yunnan black teas I seem to come across are the golden type. Those, I do not much care for. Those, I often feel is a mouthful of wet hay. Those, I can only drink and enjoy when in the proper mood (under which circumstances I do find them very enjoyable)
But this stuff is different. This stuff is like being smacked round the head with toffee! I want to say it’s a bit chocolate-y, but that’s not really it. Neither is it properly caramel-y, so fudge or toffee is the closest I can get here. It’s that sort of candy-like sweetness with a touch of malt underneath. Just enough to make it not smell like a sweetie shop and just enough to give it a hint of grain.
I have to say I botched the steeping slightly because I wasn’t using the timer and it went slightly over the time I had expected it to end up at, but I can inform you that the leaves didn’t care. It’s not bitter, it’s not astringent, and it doesn’t even taste particularly strong.
There’s a slightly woody flavour to it, which somehow comes across as a more mature sort of that hay flavour that I normally associate this region with.
It’s also rather more cocoa-y than it was in the aroma and less of the other types of sweets I mentioned. The malt is still there though, just a little bit, and the grain-y aspect is a little less obvious.
I had this tea yesterday as well, three steeps of it. I have to say the third steep wasn’t really all that worth the effort, as it was quite thin in flavour, but it was still fairly nice. I’m quite pleased with this purchase.
And if anybody can explain to me what it is that makes such a huge difference between this Yunnan black (or those dragon balls for that matter) and those other golden ones, the ones that I don’t care for, please do.
Good morning Steepster.
Following the Tragic Loss of the Roy Kirkham teapot as documented earlier on, I found myself this morning faced with a problem. I don’t work on wednesdays, you see, so these are the days when the RK pot got the most exercise. It held 400 ml, exactly the same as the mugs I prefer to drink from, so it was really great for just one person. Now, though? I have a large pot that I use when sharing with Husband, and we have a middle-sized one that we usually use with rooiboses. What the plock to do now??? O.o
Well, the middle sized one is a bodum press, and since it had just come out of the dishwasher, I temporarily re-purposed it. I’m not keen on the press element, being used to loosely flowing leaves. However, needs must. Needs must.
There will be a new RK pot. Two actually, so that we can share a cup without necessarily having the same tea. When Husband suggests something and I’m not interested in that one, he always immediately adjusts to whatever my suggestion was. He says it doesn’t matter much to him, but it kind of annoys me when I want to give him the one that he wants. So two RK pots. We’ve picked out which ones too. One with garden birds and one with butterflies. Kinda pricy though, and shipping is murder, so it has to wait until the other side of payday. And also for me to get a new passport so that I’ve actually got some valid ID in case I need to pick it up from the post office. (I changed my last name following the wedding, and we’re also having some small adjustment to our address (new house number), so if anybody wants/needs to have their address books updated, please pm or email me)
Anyway, following all that todo with working out how to even make it, I thought that this tea, which Husband didn’t like, would be a good one to have when he’s not at home.
It doesn’t appear to have suffered from the french press method, but I do think I’ve made it stronger this time than the first time. It’s more cocoa-y now in both aroma and flavour, and it has developed some stronger grainy notes in the body. Brewing this one strong suits it very well, I think.
(Oh, and to those of you who saw That Post on the boards, just try to ignore that guy. He pops up from time to time and seems to always drag trouble in his wake. He’s just a troll.)
We are doing C25K and we’ve had our fourth run this morning. I officially hate it. It’s absolutely horrid and now my legs aren’t working properly anymore, having gone all wobbly, so I’m rewarding myself for having at least made it this far.
This tea is from the Jiang Su province, which is on the East coast of China, North of Shanghai and on the Yellow Sea. It’s south of the Shandong province which is where those Laoshan teas from Verdant are from, and I believe those are the only other teas from this general area that I’ve had before.
According to TeaSpring’s notes, some connoiseurs would name this one the best black tea in the world. Well, in my case that means it has to live up to the Tan Yang, and really, it’s got its work cut out for it there!
The leaves are rather nice looking, and they look exactly like in the picture there, all highlighted in golden brown and twisty. They don’t have a very strong aroma on their own, though, not even after I’ve breathed on them, but I am picking up something that reminds me of sweets. Can’t quite put my finger on what sort of sweets though, but it’s definitely something along those lines.
The aroma after brewing is remarkably sweet, and now I know what it was I couldn’t really place in the dry leaf. It’s caramel. Sugary and caramel-y and there’s a smidge of floral undertones to it, but the sweetness is really what I’m mostly noticing. This? This bodes well!
What a peculiar tea! It tastes nothing like it smells. Where the aroma was largely a thick caramel, the flavour is all cocoa-y. There’s something pseudo-smoky as well, hiding just beneath the surface like a hungry shark, waiting to strike at the unsuspecting drinker.
Apart from the cocoa note, I can tell there are other notes to it, but it’s like they’re all hiding, so I can’t examine them properly. It makes for a fairly complicated cup. We’ve already covered that pseudo-smoky note, and like Auggy has said, it does lead the mind in the general direction of something Keemunesque, but without the heavy grain of the Keemun. There are some grain notes in this as well, but not to the same strength.
This tea tastes a bit like it’s trying to be several things at the same time. It tastes confused and a little shy.
The cocoa note is really what carries it forwards, but there is a very nice aftertaste as well. That’s where the caramel-y tones from the aroma are finally coming in. A good chewy chocolate-y caramel, that’s what the aftertaste feels like. The way the mouth feels coated in flavour and sticky after having eaten one of those. It’s not a very long aftertaste, it doesn’t really last much longer than just the act of swallowing, but flavourwise it’s one of the best aftertastes I’ve come across.
I should have liked the actual flavour to come together a bit more. Right now it’s feeling a little all over the place and disjointed, and if it had come across as a little more compact I would have enjoyed it even more. As it is, though, it is still a very nice black. It’s definitely a suitable reward for having suffered through all that jogging.
Best black tea in the world, though? No. For me that’s still Tan Yang.
ETA: Hmm. Husband didn’t care for this one at all. And instead of just saying so, he suffers through the entire cup, nearly, and only admits it when I ask him what he thought of it. Have put a little Not Suitable For Husbands sticker on the label now and hope in the future he’ll remember that I can’t read minds.
Me? I’m on the second steep now. Same as the first, but a bit thin.