1110 Tasting Notes
I wish I had a cherry flavoured black. That’s just exactly what I’m in the mood for right now. As it happens, however, I do not currently possess a cherry flavoured anything.
So I searched through the black teas in the collection, looking for something that would fill the same sort of criteria. Fruity and black. My first thought was a strawberry black. Which I also don’t have. Second thought was either black currant or blackberry, both of which I have and both of which are really nice, but I’ve just had those recently. Not again already.
Passion fruit then. Very un-cherry-like, but still fruity and I see that it has been rated consistently high by others. I think this one came from QuiltGuppy, which reminds me that my lack of received samples, swaps and gifts organisation is soon to be a thing of the past. See the whole story in the brackets below.
Apart from this sudden onset of fruity black craving, I’ve actually been eyeing this one for a couple of days now, especially when preparing that morning pot. I just don’t think it’s very suitable for that particular purpose. Not the first cup of the morning, and not a shared one when I’m fairly certain that the boyfriend prefers something unflavoured at that point. He does now and then request something flavoured when I bother asking about preferences and sometimes when I don’t bother and just tell him what I intend to make and would he like some, he also agrees. It just never came to pass with this one yet. It’s an ample sample, though, (Ample sample! TEEHEE!) so he’ll probably be subjected to it sooner rather than later anyway.
The dry leaf smelled absolutely wonderful. It was all tropical fruity and even slightly yogurt-y and cake-like. The yogurt-y, cake-y notes are gone in the steeped cup, but the fruit is still strong, and it smells more genuinely passion fruit-y than it did in the dry leaf. There seems to be a touch of vanilla to it as well although this may just be the sweetness of the fruit playing tricks on me.
The flavour is strong and again very fruity. My problems with teas flavoured with passion fruit and mango and papaya so far have been that they all strike me as very similar flavours, and in some cases it’s quite synthetic in flavour as well. Consequently my interest in tropically flavoured teas have been rather low, as are my expectations when trying them out. This one, I’m pleased to inform, have none of those issues. It’s very clearly passion fruit rather than some generic tropical flavour and it tastes real. If I were to say anything negative about it, it would probably be that the flavouring was just a smidgeon too strong and slightly overwhelming. I should have liked a touch of subtlety here.
The tea base is also coming through nicely, in spite of the heavy flavouring. I can tell that it’s tea and that it’s black, but I can’t say anything else about it for certain. It’s a fairly strong bodied one and I’m thinking possibly something Ceylon-y. There’s something dark about it, a dark brownish red flavour that I would immediately associate with that flavour. A sort of polished cherry wood colour. I need to make up a plain Ceylon later and pay attention to whether that one provokes a colour association and whether that too is a dark brownish red.
All in all, I’m very pleasantly surprised by this one. In spite of previously mentioned reservations towards the tropical flavours family, I actually had some pretty high expectations of it, and I’m glad to say I was not let down.
(The boyfriend has bought me a plastic storage box of a suitable size and everything that was kicking about in the Sample Basket is now in the box, sorted according to type.
I’m going to need another box for pouches such as the ones from 52teas and Chi of Tea and suchlike. They don’t really belong in the Sample Box, even if a couple of them were gifts, but they don’t look very attractive on the shelves either with the tins. Now if I had one more shelf… but there’s no room for that unless we stretch to reach the new top one. I don’t think we’re very interested in that.
Anyway, the original plan was that each group of samples should be sorted according to where they came from, but that didn’t really seem to work out too well in the box. Partly because I can’t remember where I got all my current ones from, so I can’t sort them for certain and also partly because I’m not really likely to stand there and think, ‘Oh, I think I’ll want something from QG today.’ I’m more likely to decide I want something black or green.
I shall instead device a numbering system. I need a small notebook and some small labels, and then I’ll just number the lot according to who the gifter was. The boyfriend says I’m being highly OCD about it, but he did seem to agree that the current non-system of being unable to remember who to thank is a little rude of me. If OCD is the solution then so be it. :) )
Forgive me, I’m not in the mood for this. Just writing a note and rating down because it’s a gifted sample although I don’t know where it came from anymore.
It’s a nice dark oolong. A bit toasted, quite wood-y and with a hint of cocoa. Very nice.
Okay, that’s it. I’m going to go hibernate somewhere with my book.
My tummy is feeling a bit eeeeurgh today. We had mexican food for dinner last night and I ate like a pig! Stomach ache followed, obviously. But it was so good! I know not to eat that last helping, but I can’t help it.
So something light and gentle is in order which caused me to dip into the sample basket looking for green or white. Like with the untried pure blacks the other day, I thought I had much more of that! Oh well.
I picked this one eventually. Actually I fished a number of samples out of the basket and ippy-dippied them until I reached this result. I’ve tried this company before and have had some rather good stuff from them, so I’m quite curious about this. Also because I’ve only just in recent years managed to come to terms with African produced blacks, but the concept of an African white is completely strange. Even stranger than an Indian white. Haven’t managed to get my head around that yet either. (I’ve seen them. I’ve even had some. I just still think it’s somehow a little bizarre…)
But if good black teas can be produced on the African continent, the Kenya Milima we had the other day being an excellent example of one, then why not good white teas? With this thought and my trust in the company, we proceed.
I’m always suprised at how darkly white teas brew up. With that name I keep wanting them to produce a pale colourless cup, not something that looks like a dark oolong… It gets me every time. (Why do tea refuse to behave the way my brain wants it to behave? Why does it insist on behaving like tea?)
But colour aside and speaking of oolongs, this actually smells rather similar to the Clear Jade Orchid from Shang Tea. Not quite so much of creme brulee but it does have that same sweet melon-y aroma. It’s not a very strong aroma though, and it takes a good deal of sniffing at it before I feel certain enough about it to make any sort of conclusions such as the above. Apart from the melons I also eventually found a touch of caramel and a some floral notes.
Surprisingly, considering how flighty the aroma is, there is lots of flavour here. It’s very sweet and mildly caramel-y. It still, rather surprisingly reminds me of that Clear Jade Orchid. I don’t get it. They’re completely different types from completely different countries. How can they both have that melon-y sweet flavour profile? The biggest difference is just that the Clear Jade Orchid is much stronger and oolong-y earthy rather than this bright, floral whiteness.
Because all similarities aside, it does taste like a white tea. It has a slightly nutty aftertaste, reminding me a little of unsalted peanuts and pecan nuts and slightly apricot-y overtone to it.
(I know 52teas did the apricot fusion which was white and oolong (I think) with apricots and something else, but has anybody ever met an apricot white? I suspect those flavours would go rather well together.)
I’m definitely not disappointed by this. In fact I’m really rather pleasantly surprised. I went into this because I wanted something light for my tummy and I tripped over a diamond.
Is it not odd that I can sit here and think, ‘Ooooh I want that tea!’ when the tea in question is one I’ve only ever had once and can’t even readily remember what I thought of at the time?
Today’s shared morning pot, and I’m surprised to see that I’ve yet to post about it. I could have sworn I posted about it earlier! Or was that the Bai Lin that Auggy sent me? Now I’m confused…
At any rate, if the Tan Yang Te Ji (♥) is my favourite ever tea, then the Bai Lin comes in at a very close second I think. I just really really REALLY love this province, I just do. Where does one sign up to be a fan of a geographical area?
Consequently, it’s also really hard for me to post about it on its own merits instead of making it just a list of the ways in which its different from the Tan Yang. I could say I’d try, but knowing me I’d probably not be trying very hard if those were the words that came naturally to me while drinking and writing. But then again, I’m not trying to bring you the Facts of Tea Forever, am I? I can only tell you what I think, and I think that Bai Lin and Tan Yang have very similar flavour profiles, but with some note-worthy exceptions.
Given the fact that they are as similar as they are, Bai Lin also lands at at least 90 points by default. Any further study of it and subtraction or addition of points is based from that outset.
Yes, I think the black teas in general from this province are THAT AWESOME!
Now, onwards. Bai Lin is like Tan Yang’s good twin. Tan Yang is the wild and powerful of the two, with the heavy cocoa notes and pseudo-smoky notes on the second steep. The Tan Yang is not a tea you want to mess with, because it knows exactly what it’s doing and it will take you to task for any insult to its name.
Bai Lin is by nature gentler, happier and far more sensible. It doesn’t have the pseudo-smoke or the heavy cocoa, it’s much more sweet and with a natural touch of oranges or mandarins.
Or perhaps on second thought, these two are not really twins, but more like a sweet little sister and a protective big brother. :)
Bai Lin, as mentioned, has notes of oranges or mandarins in the flavour, but they’re not really as clear as if it had been actually mandarin flavoured. They’re more like the ideas of the citrus fruits. I can’t tell exactly which part of the flavour that reminds me of them but the association is strong none the less. Whatever it is, it also lends a lot of the sweetness to the cup.
Furthermore, we have an insanely smooth cup. It’s thick and creamy as if it had milk in it, and I have often heard that this quality is indicative of something going well with milk. I can’t imagine that in this tea, though. It’s far too delicate and subtle to be able to carry milk. I suspect with milk all you would get was a cup of non-descript tea-flavoured warm milk, and that’s not really the purpose with it at all. So drink it as it is, ignore any and all urges to try it with milk and just close your eyes and drink. Then, if you are a of the persuasion that tea should have milk in it, you might actually be able to pretend it already has.
I can find very little bitterness and next to no astringency in this cup, only yummy goodness. After it has been allowed to stand still and develop a bit, the mandarin-like associations seem to become a little stronger. In addition to this a new note is poking its head out at this point, and there is now an underlying semi-spicy touch to the floralness of it. Quite akin to the pepper note in a good golden Yunnan, if you can imagine that note without the strong flavour of hay.
Yes, we are definitely coming in just behind the Tan Yang on the Favourite Scale, here. It’s coming in so close, in fact, that I strongly suspect I would be fully able to quench the Tan Yang cravings with this one if Tan Yang is not readily available. I need to always have one of these two in the house. Obviously, being my favourite, I would prefer the Tan Yang, but this one is a totally acceptable substitution. I don’t feel the need to keep the both of them around as Standards, though. Either one will do.
His Lordship on fire. Today’s shared morning pot. Very nice outcome today, it’s all juicy and citrusy.
This has been forgotten for a while. The boyfriend’s sister bought a huge amount, I’m sure she would be shocked if she realised that I never by that much in one go myself. At least not of the same sort. Unless they are confirmed Standards.
However, it’s a shame that it’s been neglected so because surprisingly for a florally scented tea, it’s actually really nice. I even found myself going specifically for it without first dithering about which tea to choose once I had remembered it.
I don’t know… Maybe I’m developing more of a taste for floral stuff too? I seem to recall having had something or other else floral recently, only now I can’t recall what it was.
Anyway, we ought to drink this more often. I think we should make it an afternoon stable for a while, maybe. But oh, then there are a number of other oolongs as well that… oh gosh, now it’s getting complicated! Maybe I should just stick to the black in the morning habit for now.
Good morning Steepsterites.
I mentioned yesterday this new budding habit of sharing a morning pot with the boyfriend. Well, it has downsides when as today I get up two and a half hours before him and get to sit here and wait for my morning tea. AFTER having decided what we’re having this morning. And no, I can’t just make me a cup myself, because that would be cheating.
Anyway, it appears that I am actually getting through the sample basket more than I thought. I had a look at the Steepster cupboard, went all the way to the last pages and looked at those never posted about yet. Only two untried, unflavoured blacks left! This was one of them, so now there’s just a Yunnan left. Still a fair number of oolong and green and such, though.
I can’t work out what the boyfriend actually thinks of Yunnans. I’ve seen him drink it, but I’ve also seen him drink other things with more enthusiasm. So chosing between the two was pretty easy.
I was pleasantly surprised by the smell of the leaf when I opened the sample. It was sort of a leather-y and dried berries sort of aroma. Maybe some associations to how pipe tobacco smells as well, but the dried berries, cherries in particular, were my first association.
This is pretty much the same in the aroma of the steeped tea. It’s cherry-y, leather-y and sort of fragrant wood-y, but still primarily cherry.
When it comes to the flavour, it definitely gets the stamp of Boyfriend Approval, as he just called out his appreciation from the other room. He doesn’t do that every day.
And it is an interesting flavour. It’s slightly astringent, just the merest hint of dryness to it. It comes across as slightly floral and quite pseudo-smoky, which is enhanced by that note of fragrant wood that I found in the aroma as well.
The whole cherries note is sadly not as prominent in the flavour, but if you are searching for it, there is still some of it to be found. It’s a slightly tangy note just hovering around the edges of the sip. It is not to be confused with the way sencha sakura has cherry in it, this is much less flower-y and more berry-y, especially if you would imagine a dried cherry. Or possibly dried cranberries as well, to a smaller degree, but mainly cherry.
Very nice indeed. I could drink this on a regular basis.
Steepsterites, I have been neglecting you. What with kittens and a hilarious new computer game that I have, I just haven’t been around to do more than skim the recent posts page (I hardly ever bother with the dashboard except for notices these days), I just haven’t been paying attention to actually bringing something back to the group. Posting. This, I shall hereby remedy.
Also, mostly I’ve been drinking oldies-and-well-knownies in the effort to free up some tins so I can open more of my Shang order.
This one, however, is from the Basket. On mornings when we’re both not going to work (ah holiday!) we have a budding new habit of me making a large pot of something and sharing. Since one of us is more narrow minded (to be taken with all the symptoms of friendly teasing) when it comes to tea I typically let him choose something. Typically, he says ‘something black’, and I know him well enough to know that by ‘something black’ he means exactly that. Not ‘something black with bizarre flavouring’. I have of yet still been unable to glean a definition of ‘bizarre flavouring’. I think it depends on the time of day because at other times, he doesn’t turn down something flavoured.
I actually demoted my black currant from the Standard Panel because he liked the blackberry flavoured one much better and I had no strong preference over one or the other so long as something was berry flavoured.
But I digress.
This cup was the tea of the morning today. As I mentioned, it came out of the basket, and based on Jillian’s earlier review saying she got it out of the TTB, I can for once determine that it came to me via Pamela Dax Dean and her Great Big Box of Tea.
The aroma is not very strong or forceful, but it’s very pleasant. It’s quite honeyed and sweet, and malty but not super-malty. It’s quiet and reserved. Like a queen, it bears itself with dignity.
It’s very light in flavour, very unlike other Assams and apparently this has to do with the flush. Standard Assams being second flush and this being first. It’s extemely delicate and flighty, but the flavour profile that one associates with Assams is still there. Malty, slightly astringent and with a funny sort of cardboard-y flavour (which I do not mean in a bad way. That’s just what it reminded the person who used it first of, and I find I agree. Probably because that note is such a very grey colour to me). It’s all there. It’s just somewhat muted.
This is not really a tea that says, “come and look at me, I’m magnificent!”
It’s more a tea that says, “come and look at my potential, see what I can become when you pick my second flush!”
A demo of teas. You get the right idea but not all the features.
And yet, I quite like it. Possibly because I tend not to be too impressed with Assams to begin with. They’re so easy to wreck, so finicky compared to my preferred Chinese blacks. I think I like this, because it’s a different Assam.
Another tin emptied. This is the second steep actually, and since I’m feeling a little cranky and non-social at present, my brain decided that sweets were needed. Which then led to the thought that this might be quite nice with a little liquid honey in it. Make it sort of a lemon curd flavoured tea instead.
Alas, we have no liquid honey, or any other sorts of honey in the house. Instead of then using a little cane sugar like a normal person, Muggins here decided to give maple syrup a try instead.
Well, Muggins here should not be allowed to start inventing while preparing tea. It’s not working. Not one bit. Oh it’s perfectly drinkable, but the lemon flavour is completely broken and the whole thing has turned into something fairly generic and boring tasting.
Who could have thought one teaspoon of maple syrup could have such a large effect?
Even worse, it has made me want pancakes. Maybe I’ll get some batter mix one of these days and see if the boyfriend wants to share with me. We are on holiday, after all.