1282 Tasting Notes
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!
EMPTY THAT BOX!
I got this one as a free sample with an ACP order. They’ve started doing that, I’ve noticed, tossing in one of their satchets as a free giftie. I’m just hoping that eventually they’ll put one in that isn’t already a confirmed dislike for me. With this one it was the ginger. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really like ginger at all, so I needed to get this one out fo the way some other way. It seemed a good candidate for a cold brew so that’s what I did.
The citrus is coming out very nicely this way, both in aroma and flavour, where the ginger is somewhat more to the background. Now THIS I like! The ginger adds sensation mroe than flavour, really. It actually tastes a bit like a fizzy lemonade that’s gone flat. That’s not really a bad thing if you ask me.
A surprising like on this one!
EMPTY THAT BOX!
This one came from Ninavampi because I was interested in trying the DavidsTEA vanilla oolong. She didn’t have that, but she offered this and I said yes please.
I’ve elaborated on what constitutes the Perfect Vanilla before, so I shan’t bother to do it again. I can’t be bothered to write all that, but if you really want to know I’m sure I could probably dig out the post in question from the depths of my account.
This one is getting there on the aroma. It’s sweetly vanilla, and quite strong too. There is a coconut-y aspect to the vanilla as well, which I tend to quite enjoy. It reminds me of a specific sort of coconut and licorice sweets, which bizarrely haven’t actually got anything to do with vanilla at all. There’s is an earthy, slightly sharp note underneath as well, which I expect is from the oolong base. That sharpness adds to the aforementioned sweets association which definitely is not a bad thing. At this point I’m making a mental note to check if this tea is available from Adagio’s European site. You know, just in case. :)
But! Aroma is just part of it. It’s the flavour that’s actually the really important bit. The vanilla flavour here is a bit milky and not as strong as in the aroma. This is a big big shame! The aroma gave me some rather high hopes, but the flavour is just not quite up to it.
The oolong base however is shining through nicely. With the flavouring so small, that’s not really difficult either, is it? It tastes a bit woody and quite toasty, and there is a semi-caramel-y note in there somewhere. I wonder exactly what sort of oolong is the base of this. It reminds me a little of a toastier version of the Dan Cong I had the other day, although it would probably be rather a shame to start adding flavouring to that one. Hey, here’s a sudden thought! Has anybody ever heard of a caramel flavoured oolong? Wouldn’t that be interesting?
Anyway, this particular base. If it had been more fiercely flavoured I think this could be really good. If it had come out as much in the flavour as much as it does in the aroma, I could really really have had a winner here. Alas…
Close, Adagio. Close indeed.
(On an end note, I’m still interested in trying the DavidsTea vanilla oolong, so if anybody have some lying around that they want to get rid of, I’ll happily take it off your hands. )
EMPTY THAT BOX!
Here’s another one from Spoonvonstrup. Presumably this is also a type of Lapsang Souchong, because when I looked the name up in the Steepster database, lots of LS suggestions came up.
Now, this one also smells a little Yunnan-y, like those last two samples of JJM, but it’s not as strong in this one. There is the honey-y note to it and quite a fair bit of grain, but I’m not finding more than a smattering of the hay-y note. It’s that hay in particular that I tend to find less interesting in Yunnans. It does have a bit of a cocoa-y note to it, though, which reminds me of those black tea pearls.
As for the flavour, it’s a bit like that JJM from yesterday. It’s got a two-step flavour profile with first something extremely milky tasting and then pepper-y, smoky notes showing up later. This one is less of a punch in the face though, the second step flavours gradually taking over the first step. I like that.
It also still isn’t exhibiting any of that very Yunnan-y hay-y notes. A little bit perhaps, but not to any large degree at all. What is there of it, I find to be a tolerable level as it isn’t overshadowing everything else. As long as it’s not the primary flavour, I can deal with it. Unfortunately with Yunnans, it does tend to be the primary flavour more often than not.
The aroma also spoke of grain and a smidge of cocoa, and while I do find some grain in this, I can’t locate any of the cocoa. Oh well. I think for my particular tastes, grain would be more important anyway. I consider cocoa to be more of a top note and I really like it when a black tea has a good substatial grainy element to it.
All in all, I’m finding this one quite enjoyable!