1149 Tasting Notes
Look at me with my posting! I’m sharp and kicking bottom. It’s 1pm and I’m steeping this as my fourth cup today. I shall be in a constant back and forth to the bladder unloading station for the rest of the day, I expect.
This one came to me from ssajami and I have high expectations of it. It’s a Keemun, how could I not? It smells exactly like one too. Grainy and sort of pseudo-smoky with a touch of something floral. And also quite sweet and caramel-y. This is a very good smell, this smell that I’m smelling! So rich and creamy and sweet, it reminds me a little of creme brulee, although not as much as the Clear Jade Orchid oolong from Shang Tea does. (That one is crazy creme brulee-y!)
Gosh, it’s very sweet in flavour as well! There was one note in there; I caught a whiff of it for a split-second just before swallowing and it was pure sugar. After just this one sip there’s a feeling of aftertaste expanding in the mouth like an explosion. It starts at the taste buds and then grows to encompass the entire mouth until it feels almost as if the cavity itself is really getting bigger.
Okay, that description was mildly icky, but I hope you get what I mean here. I do hope you have all had at some point in your life a tea with an aftertaste that does this. It’s so… strange and weird and good.
Anyway, back to the flavour. It’s a quite smooth tea with an almost milky feel and very sweet as well. Quite akin to caramel but not 100% there. Not yet. Like the flavour nuance just before caramel.
There isn’t much in the way of grain-y flavours, though. I’m sort of missing a bit of rye bread-y bite to it, and the absense of that gives the impression of a very mild tea. A bit shy. I should have liked it to have a little more oomph to it.
If it had had the grainy notes, I could have gone on and on about that and about the comparison to proper danish rye bread and how that differs from the stuff most of the rest of the world calls rye bread, and the pros and cons of same. As it isn’t really there, it’s rather difficult to say anything about it.
That sweetness, however, that is spectacular and it’s worth every single point here. Not a favourite Keemun for me at all, it’s far too well-behaved, but definitely not a bad one either.
The sweet Dinosara sent me a swap package which I received on Monday. At first I was all excited and dithering about where to begin, but as I was feeling decidedly under the weather (what a great timing to receive care-mail!), attempting to choose between new teas and the very idea of posting about it in any sort of useful way turned out to be rather too much for my meagre brain capacity to handle. In the end I turned towards the tried, tested and true comfort teas (Kusmi’s Caramel and ditto Four Red Fruits, if you’re curious. Seperately, mind). Untill this morning.
I’m slowly recharging my batteries, but I’m still not the brightest bulb in box. Yesterday, for example, someone told me they were a ‘textbook asthmatic’ and my first thought was that she was allergic to textbooks. Yes. I know. Consequently choosing between new things is obviously still rather difficult, so I went for the sample of LS, because I know LS. I know what I like in an LS and I know what to expect from one. It seemed the simplest solution for the moment.
The sample pouch contained exactly precisely just about my preferred amount of leaf for a small pot. How excellent. I tried smelling the dry leaf in the pouch, but I couldn’t really get anything from it. There was a sweet note and no smoke at all, which I find somewhat confusing considering what we’re dealing with here. On the other hand, I’m not certain my nose is entirely trustworthy at the moment.
After steeping, it smells grainy and honeyed and with a touch of something that rather reminds me of lingonberry jam. Still no smoke, though. This doesn’t smell like a standard LS at all. Where is the smoke??? It’s missing; it’s not there! It is being advertised to me as smoky, and I wants it!
But then again, the trustworthyness of my nose is somewhat in question… I hope that’s why I can’t find the smoke. Although, you would think that smoke should be the one thing I could find…
squints at cup
One last chance to deliver some proper smokyness. Flavour. Okay, yes, the flavour has some trace amount of smoke, but not nearly strong enough that I think DeRen can really get away with saying it has ‘smoked aroma’ at all, be it ever so gentle. I believe there’s a distinct difference between ‘gentle’ and ‘barely there’.
The flavour that we have left reminds me mostly of a sort of mix between Bai Lin and Tan Yang. Something sort of inbetween those two. It’s quite grainy like the Bai Lin, but doesn’t have the orange-y note, and it’s quite fruity and cocoa-y like the Tan Yang, but without (infamously) the pseudo-smoke. It does however have that Fujian-ness about it that makes it so easy to recognise. Full and strong and very, very pleasant.
Yes, this has a ton of qualities that I really like. It’s a very good representative of my Number One Favourite tea producing area, indeed, but as I am being led to believe that it’s supposed to be smoky and it just isn’t delivering on that count, I’m going to have to dock some points.
These days the boyfriend and I are watching a BBC series about China. We tend to do one episode per evening while eating (Dining table? What’s that? Ooooh, you mean the cat playground!) and the episode we watched yesterday was primarily about the Yunnan province. Although tea wasn’t mentioned more than briefly. Mostly it was about nature and a wee bit about anthropology as well. Quite an interesting series, actually. The first episode we watched was about how they grow tiny little rice fields terraced up and down mountains and with little walk-ways so narrow that it looked like if you lost your footing and fell, you would be lucky if you got out of it with only a broken leg. Amazing how adaptable the human species is! And how inventive. O.o
Anyway, inspired by that first mentioned episode, I thought I should drink some Yunnan tea today and it just so happens that I’ve got a sample of this one which the very kind Ssajami shared with me recently.
While I was steeping it I found myself assailed by a strong caramel-y aroma. Especially while pouring my cup. It’s was unbelievable and for a moment I wondered if I had actually managed to pick something caramel flavoured instead of what I thought I had taken. But as the sample tin that this is in is a small pale grean Adagio sample tin and as the tin the Caramel is in is a large, brown Kusmi tin, I didn’t think this very likely. So apparently this tea just have a strong note of caramel in the aroma. That’s new to me. I’ve never noticed this sort of note in a Yunnan before.
So when I tasted it, I was expecting something with a slightly sticky flavour and absolutely dripping with caramel. But it wasn’t. Instead I got something that from sip one was more nutty than anything else. Walnuts in particular. I can just visualise them in my head as I’m drinking it. The note is so strong that this would be a poor base for something walnut flavoured, because it would just be impossible to tell a difference.
If I didn’t know any better, I would think it WAS flavoured!
How very pleasant to happen upon a Yunnan black that doesn’t taste like hay, but like walnuts. This is definitely preferable.
It’s not completely unusual though. It is in fact still very recognisable as a Yunnan due that unmistakable spicy, pepper-y, prickly note in it and it’s all smoooooooooth too.
Very nice tea this. Thanks for sharing, Ssajami.
ETA by the way of the unrelated kind! Finally have the real ring, a photograph of which can be seen here. http://pics.livejournal.com/iarnvidia/pic/0000121b
A while ago I posted about a Kenyan black from Harney&Sons that QuiltGuppy had been so kind as to share with me. That one was quite a hit in this household, and since then I have become interested in the African continent. Teas from Africa are still rather rare here though, especially non-Kenyans, so when the boss and I made our latest AC Perch’s order for work and I saw a Tanzania, I jumped at the chance. I’ve only ever had African tea from Kenya before.
Like the Kenya it’s quite strong and full-bodied. I got distracted while drinking it so instead of writing the post and paying attention to it, I was doing all sorts of other things, but I’ve had it a few times so I feel fairly confident in making this summary.
As mentioned, quite strong and full-bodied. It’s an excellent morning tea, as it really gives a fair kick. However, it’s not a very complicated tea to drink. It’s relatively uniformly tea-flavoured with not a lot of specific characteristics that I’ve been able to find so far. A pleasant strong black for times in need of extra strength and it would probably carry milk quite well, but also a fairly anonymous flavour profile.
The rather non-descript taste of it might actually be to its own advantage, because that means one can drink it when in need of something strong and powerful to get back on one’s feet, and still not being something one has to pay a lot of attention to enjoying while drinking when one really doesn’t possess sufficient energy to do so.
It gets lots of points on being interesting as well as a good cup. With a relatively high caffeine content, it’s an excelleng Gah-Caffeine-Me-NAO!-tea.
All in all, I’m quite pleased with this purchase although I did prefer that aforementioned Kenyan over this one.
GOSH! 500 followers! O.o Have I somehow actually managed to be interesting? HI, ALL! :D waves wildly
Have just flea treated the cats. Am therefore currently the World’s Evilest Evah! Obviously I had to pick a tea that reflected my cruelty. Uh, or something. (A fruit flavoured black just can’t in anyway be made to reflect evilness at all, can it?)
Okay, so it may not be all that evil, but on the other hand, I’ve managed to make it quite good and flavourful today. I took a leaf out of Kusmi’s book, really, because Kusmi bases their flavoured black teas on a Chinese black and recommend a lower than boiling steeping temperature. This one, I discovered when looking into it for Ssajami yesterday, is on a Keemun base and that made me wonder if, like Kusmi’s blends, it might benefit from a lower temperature than boiling.
And guess what. It DID! At least I think that’s the reason. This cup is all sweet and fruity, and with a pleasant berry-y aftertaste.
And this is where I look for previous rating and discover that I haven’t actually posted about it before. Better make it from the top then.
The leaves and the aroma of it is quite spot on the strawberry, but initially I found the flavour a little lacking in that department. I was expecting something with a little more emphasis on the strawberry, but in hindsight I suspect it’s the unusual base (Keemun) that is messing with my perception.
The lower temperature seems to have tamed the Keemun a bit and allowed more of the flavouring to come out so it feels more fruity this time around than it did before. Previously I would have given it maybe the high end of the 70s, but I’m going to give it a tad more based on this experience.
Still though. It’s not my perfect strawberry tea. I don’t think the base and the flavouring are really the best combination here, in spite of the fact that Keemun is a tea I normally rather enjoy. I should have liked to see this flavouring on a slightly less grainy tasting base. I think that would help a lot.
Gosh, Steepsterites! It feels like it’s been ages, eons and decades since I last inflicted my presence upon your unfortunate and super-humanly patient souls! There’s just been so much recently, you know? We were away over the weekend so I’m really in need of a bit of a breather. A 9yo birthday. Four children and fourteen adults in one lounge for a whole afternoon. Gosh! O.o (Nothing wrong with my family at all, mind. It’s just such a lot of people)
So I thought it was definitely time to sit down and get a proper post together and relax a bit before making my shopping list and getting some groceries in. This is one I got from Ssajami, and I was quite excited about it from the moment I took it out of the box. The description of it on the pouch sounds right up my alley!
The aroma has a quite strong note to it, which I think is a mixture of the honey and the flowers, although depending on what sort of flowers honey is made of it can have very different smells as well. I can’t really find the fruit very well in the aroma. Perhaps a tang of rhubarb, but primarily it’s honey. Thick and rich and viscous.
The flowers give it a rather strong floral flavour as well, which disappointed me a bit. I was looking for something rather more fruity and this is borderline verging on slight bitterness instead. I’m not sure what sort of black tea is at the base here, but I suspect that like most other flavoured teas where this is isn’t specified, it’s probably a Ceylon. I should have liked to have had it on a Chinese base instead, to put that astringency-going-on-bitterness out of the picture. Oh well.
That particular disappointment aside, it’s a quite nice tea. Once I know what to expect from it, I find the floralness less of a problem, and I have no problem locating fruity flavours underneath. Mainly straw- and blueberry, not so much rhubarb. I suspect the rhubarb here, being in itself rather astringent, is hiding in that nearly-bitter astringency of the black tea.
I did however make it with boiling water although Le Palais des Thes recommend slightly below boiling because I only discovered that when it was too late, and it did possibly get a bit of an extra long steep because I was too lazy to change the timer. I still have enough leaf to try again and we’ll see then if that makes a huge difference. I expect it will definitely eliminate some of that astringency there.
As it is, however, I’m quite pleased with what I got out of it this time too.
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.