1298 Tasting Notes
I have Teh Guilt. Autumn_Aewyd sent me a lovely package full of a whole little Green Tea Education, and I haven’t tried a single one of them yet. I haven’t even felt the desire to try one yet.
It will come though. Just as soon as my left ear stops being stupid (I asked our ear, nose and throat specialist at work and she seems to think it’s a mild inner ear infection). It feels like it’s full of water, but it’s more irritating than actually painful. Still, I’m not feeling ill, I’m just not feeling 100% well either.
On top of that, it’s really waaaaaarm outside. I’m sitting here in a thin summer dress and I still feel like it must be at least forty degrees in here. I can’t brain!
Clearly Autumn_Aelwyd’s careful selection would be wasted under these circumstances, so I’m cold brewing and drinking down the stash with some well-known flavoured greens, regular greens and greener oolongs. Things that I can actually finish off, or things I’ve been avoiding for a while, so I can remove them if my fear proves grounded. Black and dark oolong doesn’t really sound very appealing at the moment.
This one is one of those that I’ve been scared of. I’m ambivalent at best about figs. I like them processed but I’m not crazy about them on their own. I have the same problem with dates. More so with dates, actually, I absolutely dislike dates.
What we’ve got here is a cup of something that smells heavily of soap and something I can only describe as wet dog. I really don’t think this will be something for me, but I am, regardless of what it may look like, trying to keep an open mind about it.
It tastes of soap and perfume as well. A very alkaline sort of side note to it. I can’t tell if this is due to the flavouring or if it has something to do with the blend seemingly being two thirds flowers.
There’s a smooth oolong base underneath, so slippery it almost slides off the tongue, but that sensation in addition to above soapy aspect is just not a good idea. It puts me in mind of something kinda slimy and gives me all sorts of nasty associations.
That said, though, it’s not completely undrinkable. I could probably finish a whole cup of this IF there was nothing else to choose from, or if the alternative was something totally unacceptable, like for example a hibiscus-y blend. As there actually is something else to choose from, I’m going to go with that, and put this one in the box of things to go out to a new home. (Two other people have posted that they enjoyed it very much, so be not afraid. Simply a bad match in this house.)
First of all, Denmark now has Princess Athena Marguerite Francoise Marie. Very untraditional name, Athena. I’m not sure if it’s a more common name in France, seeing as how Princess Marie, the mother, comes from France. As she’s only number 10 in line to the throne so it’s not exactly likely that she’ll ever be queen of Denmark, so her parents can get away with being more personal and less traditional in their choice of names. Although Prince Henrik, who is the youngest of the little princess’ older brothers, is named after the Prince Consort. (I remember when he was christened. That was one proud grandfather that day!)
In the circumstances of the royal christening with French ancestry, (on both sides, actually, as the Prince Consort is also originally from France) I thought a French tea was in order. So therefore I picked a Chinese oolong. Well, it’s a French company. You all know what I mean anyway.
This is one of the three free samples that I received with my LPdT stock up order, and the only one of the three which I will actually drink. One of the three had come undone during shipping or it had not actually been sealed, not sure which, and the other is a jasmine scented beast, which… Yeah. I don’t care for jasmine, and I’ve decided to introduce the concept of realism and stop kidding myself that I’ll actually ever get through the various jasmine scented things I’ve got so I’ve moved the lot to the Give It Away Box.
Anyway, that left this one which had leaves dark enough looking that I thought it was much more fermented than it was and consequently steeped as such. As it turns out, it’s only 10% fermented… Well, plock. I tend to feel more comfortable giving greener oolongs a lower temperature than darker oolongs, but hopefully it won’t be very relevant.
Secondly, I see in the company’s description of it that it has a fair amount of floralness to it, particularly along the lines of narcissus and JASMINE! I can’t win. I just can’t win. But I suppose when it’s a naturally occuring note there’s always the chance that it won’t show up like that for me. One can only hope.
The aroma is definitely floral in a heavy sort of way, like a small room full of flowers that haven’t been aired out in a while, but not more so than these green type oolongs usually are. I can still get the slightly earthy notes that reveals it to be an oolong. There’s nothing particular about the aroma that really sticks out as interesting or unique here.
The flavour is sweet and does have that jasmine-y note to it that the description mentioned. It’s not as overwhelming as actual jasmine scenting and doesn’t make me feel like I’m licking flowers, so I can deal with it here.
Under the floral notes there is a toast-y oolong-y note, and a slight twist of proto-bitterness which tells me I would definitely have benefitted of taking the temperature down a notch or two. It’s only there because I checked for it though, so I don’t feel like I ruined anything or am missing out on anything.
Again, there’s nothing here that really strikes me as unique or in any other way special. It’s a fairly anonymous sort of tea this, rather disappearing among so many of it’s other far more famous green oolong sisters (green oolongs feel mostly female to me). Pleasant, but anonymous.
I’m feeling a bit under the wheather today, so I was considering making me some comfort tea. My initial tea-want was the lovely toffee flavoured one from LPdT, but then I remembered Cteresa having sent me this one in her latest care package and written ‘the tea for hangovers or being ill!’ on the bag, so I thought that would be a pretty obvious choice.
It tastes primarily lemon-y and ginseng-y. Well, I’m not super-certain about the latter, but I think that must be it. It’s a bit like non-ginger-y ginger in flavour. Ginger that isn’t so sharp and warm and prickly. Ginger sweetened with licorice-y notes, sorta. I can’t really explain it, it’s just the association I get. (Note, the blend does not actually contain either ginger or licorice of any sort)
I don’t care for ginger, and I have to say I don’t really care much for ginseng either.
I do quite like the lemon-y aspect of the blend, and I think lemon is a much better, much fresher flavouring in green tea than in black. In green tea, I think it underlines the base quite nicely, and the lemon is probably what rescues this for me.
It’s not something I would drink on a regular basis; it’s not that rescued, but right now it is quite soothing and perking me up a bit, so I will rate it according to the circumstances as well as the flavour.
For being ill? Yes, I can see that. It’s not like teas for being poorly necessarily have to be horrid.
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.