1323 Tasting Notes
Queued post, written October 19th
I’m running into the same problem with Keemuns now as I have with Lapsang Souchong. It’s so familiar to me at this point, because I like it so much, that I find myself unable to figure out what to write about it. I can’t really write an extensive post on it any longer, because I inevitably end up feeling like I’m repeating myself for the umpteenth time and then I just feel silly. I considered for a while whether I should simply just stop writing about these types all together then, and keep my posts on teas that I’m actually capable of producing something worthwhile (I hope) about. (Whatever it is Husband is watching on his computer (probably Starcraft), it sounds hilarious. He’s in fits of giggles!) But then I thought, that would sort of be cheating, wouldn’t it? So, we’re pressing on!
I tend to brew this one fairly strong, so the flavour gets a bit prickly. It brings out the smoky note quite well though. Even on the resteep there’s a great deal of grainy body to it, although less of the smoke. The first steep has smoke and prickles and life-giving qualities, while the second steep is mild, but not weak, with a grainy body and a great deal of caramel-y sweetness.
I’m sorry, that’s all I can come up with. It’s really hard to approach something with mindfulness when you already know it inside and out…
Queued post, written October 5th 2014
All the time while I was prohibited from acquiring new tea because I was emptying my Yet To Try box, or maybe not all the time but a lot of the time, I really kept finding my thoughts going in an oolong-y direction in general and a Dan Cong-y direction specifically. And I didn’t have one, so I couldn’t get one, so I couldn’t have one.
Now I have one, so I can have one.
I think it’s lighter than other Dancongs I’ve had because some of these leaves actually had a fair bit of green on them. I like a dark type oolong best, so I was a bit disappointed by this initially. I thought it would turn out to be milder than I preferred.
It was also very light in colour when pouring, looking more like a green tea and entirely without any hint of brownish red to be seen. Having now been allowed to develop for a couple of minutes, the colour is darker and more of the brownish red. Good.
It smells just right. A bit rough around the edges, with a good wood note and also a slightly yeasty note of baked goods. As in, it doesn’t actually smell like yeast (that would be bad) but of the sort of baked goods that has yeast in it.
Tastewise, it is a bit mild, but it’s the type of mildness that I should be able to adjust my way out of with a bit more leaf or a little less water. Again, it’s got a prominent wood note and also a fairly sweet tinge to it. It’s actually fairly floral, this. The weird thing is, I don’t actually much like floral teas, but I’m coming to realise that what I don’t like is floral scented teas. Naturally occuring blossom-y notes seem to work much much better for me. In particular one it’s downright pleasant, which isn’t something I thought I’d find myself saying.
Finally I had my cup of dancong. I feel fulfilled now.
I’m running out of queue. There are maybe… 3 posts after this one. I don’t know what I’ll do when the queue is empty. I suppose I’ll have to go back to irregular posting again. I do have some things I haven’t written about and I’ve got an order on the way from Nannuoshan, but trying something for the first time and writing about it demands motivation and focus. Those aren’t things you can plan in advance. Right now I haven’t got very much in the way of motivation and focus, really…
Queued post, written September 24th 2014
This one was a freebie with my YS order. It isn’t one I would have chosen for myself, I don’t think, but since it’s here, I might as well try it.
I tend to have mixed experiences with Yunnan blacks. Some of them are lovely, others just taste far too much like hay for my liking, so in general I find it safer to just avoid them.
“Why then,” I hear you ask, “did you go and order from a place called Yunnan Sourcing? There’s a great big clue in the name right there, you wally!”
“Well,” you hear me answer, “remember that sugar-roasted thing I posted about last time? So interesting! How could I not try some? And since I was there anyway, why not look around a bit? Besides the other two things that I actually ordered were oolongs, so I’m not that much of a wally.”
This though… Hmm. Large amount for a freebie? Sample? Nooo. Not sure how much there is here. Maybe around 30g or so. Big sample, but I’m certainly not complaining.
A strange thing happened when I sniffed the dry leaves. There was only really one note there that I could pick up. I mean, there were other notes as well underneath, but this one note struck me as so peculiar that I couldn’t actually look past it. It reminded me strongly of sweet licorice. I KNOW! Weird, huh? I’ve never had licorice show up as a natural note before, I don’t think. There wasn’t any hay-ish notes that I could find, and licorice or not, I think I would have been able to pick up on that, so that’s a good sign.
After brewing it doesn’t smell like licorice anymore, which frankly makes it even more bizarre that the dry leaf does. I expect at least a little overlap here. Instead it has some weak pu-erh-y notes. Rather than smelling like a pu-erh, it smells sort of like, “this is what I could have been had I been processed differently.” Sweet and borderline mushroom-y, borderline earthy, borderline brothy. There is a bit of hay here, but not super much, which is good. I’m not sure what kind of sweetness I’m detecting. It’s not really caramel-y or cocoa-y, but it’s not malt-y either. I think actually the sweetness is connected to the hay note, it’s just standing out more because the hay is not as hay-y as it could have been. (Ugh, Ang… That doesn’t even make sense! Why do you write such rubbish?)
Let’s just move on to tasting it, shall we? The aroma was quite strong and complicated, so I’m surprised by how mild the taste is. Not weak, mind you, but mild. There’s a difference. There’s plenty of flavour, it’s just not very self-asserting. I’m getting the sweet and smooth part of that hay note again and the actual hay-y bit of it does come through on the aftertaste. I could have lived without that, frankly, but I’m also finding it more tolerable than I have done in the past.
The primary note is peppery and prickly, and it comes out more as the tea cools and develops a bit more. As it get pricklier it also gets more forceful and less mild, although it would still not have been my choice for the first cup if the morning had I known.
This is the second time recently that I’ve had a Yunnan black and had a good experience with it. Perhaps my taste is changing a bit. It will never be able to take the place of Fujian black, but perhaps it’s worth exploring a little further here. I suspect I’m missing out on something or other.
Queued post, written September 19th 2014
This tea was the one that made me place an order with Yunnan Sourcing in the first place. I’ve never ordered from them before, but then someone in the chat room (which you should all visit now and then, you know!) asked if we had ever had it and it was also mentioned that YS were having a good offer up at the time. So, having already fulfilled my requirement for being allowed to order tea (emptying the yet to try box) I decided to just be spontaneous and try it.
The thing about this one is that during preparation it has been roasted with a kind of sugar similar to muscovado. This made me think it must have been sort of caramelised and it’s not really a secret that I am generally attracted to caramel-flavoured things and I love food that has been cooked with sugar and butter. In Denmark we do this with small cooked potatoes as part of the traditional Christmas spread. On the other hand, I don’t like having sugar in my tea. I find it unnecessary and in some cases actually unpleasant, so that was a bit of a gamble.
Quite sweet. A bti too sweet really. underlaying notes of hay, wood (oaky) and a bit of earth. It’s having pu-erh-y thoughts, this tea. Perhaps that’s what it actually wanted to be when it grew up. As it cools it just tastes more and more like a cup of ordinary Yunnan black which has had a spoonful of sugar added to it, and we’ve already established previously that I don’t like sweetenener in my tea.
Re-steep is a bit thin, in spite of having steeped for rather a long time, due to receiving a telephone call from a friend whom I haven’t spoken to in a couple of years. He’s just become a father for the first time. The re-steep is very much a pale imitation of the first steep. It’s the same as the first, only… less. Much less.
I feel a little disappointed by this. It wasn’t what I imagined it would be, although now in the harsh clarity of hindsight I don’t know how I could make this mistake. Sugar is sugar and caramel is not made of only sugar. I love caramel flavour in my tea, be it naturally occuring, manipulated out in processing or added flavour. I hoped this would be more caramel-y.
I’ll give it some points for being interesting though, and drinking an interesting tea is always a good experience regardless of how it tastes, because I’ve never heard of tea being roasted in sugar before.
Queued post, written September 13th 2014
Gosh, I’m having trouble spelling. Nearly put the title of this entry in my queue as ‘vinalla’ and the date as ‘Spetember’. It must be the smell of this tea messing with my faculties. It’s the only flavoured tea I got from my order from Jing Tea, but come on, I couldn’t not get it. I’m glad I did too, considering how universally pleased I’ve been with everything I’ve tried from them so far. I’ve had the Keemun I ordered several times too, I just haven’t been able to write about it. Cup keeps going empty, you see. Anyway, vanilla.
It smells like a bakery. Sweet breads and cakes and frosting. It’s otherworldly good!
The leaves have a strong vanilla aroma to them, thick, creamy and with a smidge of something cocoa-y even. I had to go and take a sniff at my favourite vanilla black from Fru P for comparison, and they are very similar. This one smells stronger, though, and has that whiff of cocoa. I suspect that might have something to do with a difference in the base. I don’t actually know what the base is in either of these but it smells like it’s not the same.
After brewing it still smells strongly vanilla-y. Or rather, it smells like vanilla pods rather than vanilla as such. The smell when you slice open a fresh (or as fresh as they can be in a supermarket) vanilla pod, that’s what I’m getting here. I can actually even imagine said pod quite clearly, how leathery it looks but surprisingly soft and pliable when felt.
The vanilla flavour is almost entirely in the aftertaste and it’s quite strong and mouth-coating there. In the actual sip, I’m getting that cocoa note and a great deal of grain. I’m getting a lot of the base here and the flavouring as more of a side-dish than the main course.
I quite like that. It’s that feeling that I’m drinking tea that I prefer in flavoured teas. I’m not actually getting much of that in my favourite vanilla black from Fru P, which is a little out of the ordinary, but in this one I am. In spite of the fact that this feels more strongly flavoured than the Fru P one. Again, I think it comes down to a difference in the base. This one, I think must be Chinese. I suspect Fru P’s is made on either a Ceylon or a blend.
Fru P’s vanilla black is my favourite vanilla black based partly on it tasting good but also on convenience. It’s so easy for me to get because it’s a local shop. Therefore it’s very very hard to beat, favourite-wise. This one, while very good indeed, can’t take that favourite spot because it’s simply not convenient enough for me to get it. If it was something I could pop in and get a pouch of on my way home from work, then we could talk about it.
Queued post, written September 10th 2014
I have become increasingly interested in Taiwanese black teas lately, so when I was finally allowed to place an order a sample of this went into the basket without a second thought. Muscovado sugar, baked fruits and eucalyptus, the description says. Eucalyptus?!? Give it here! In Denmark you can get these little eucalyptus flavoured winegums. Not a super-popular type of sweetie, but I think they’re lovely, and a bag will last a long time too.
The company description seems very accurate on the aroma. Baked fruit and some kind of dark sugar? Yes, absolutely. It reminds me of some kind of crumble. The eucalyptus is less obvious, but I am getting a note which makes me think, “yes, that must be it. Why have I never thought of that before?” It’s a familiar note. I’ve just never made the eucalyptus connection with it, and that’s odd because that association just clicks.
It’s the same with the flavour. The caramel-y sugar note is very strong and it’s followed by a note of baked apples. I’m almost expecting a spoonful of custard to go with this here apple crumble that isn’t actually there.
But how does eucalyptus fit in? It’s not really something I imagine that goes well with fruity desserts and that sort of thing, but… it fits. It adds oomph and adds a bit of finish. It lifts the cup from being a mild little dessert tea to something rather more powerful which is very suitable for first cup of the day. It’s a strong and flavourful tea and I’m very happy with this.
I feel even more motivated to embark on a torrid love affair with Taiwanese blacks now.
(Oh, and for the record, in spite of what this post might imply, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to attempt to enhance an actual apple crumble with eucalyptus or similar…)
Queued post, written August 29th 2014
This one is the very evidence of my greed of purchase when I finally bought tea after having forbidden myself to do so until the box of things not yet tried was empty. I already knew it existed. It has been in the back of my mind since someone, I don’t recall who, shared a peach and thyme flavoured tea with me, so I’ve known for a good eight months now that I would buy it eventually and probably sooner rather than later. So when given the opportunity, I immediately took a caddy. It comes in these wooden caddies that are very attractive looking (see the tea photo), but for actual tea storage when the plastic bag inside is opened, fairly useless. I try not to rip the plastic bag, but if that happens, I have to tin it. I then proceeded to the till with my loot and saw NUTE sample satchets. Without thinking, bought two satchets as well. Of the same tea. And only realised this afterwards.
Well. Yes. As I said, greed.
It smells lovely. Thyme and berry in equal parts. Thyme a little more obvious, though, because it’s a fairly unusual flavour in tea. It’s on a green base, which I imagine will work well with the raspberry. I can’t remember what kind of base the aforementioned peach and thyme tea was on, so I don’t know how the thyme will behave.
Oh, it’s quite thyme-y and with a background of raspberry. There’s a long aftertaste of thyme. The raspberry and the base tea are sort of in the middle of a thyme sandwich. First thyme, then raspberry and green and finally the thyme aftertaste. This may sound like a strange combination, but it’s actually really nice. Really, really nice.
I’m not generally too interested in green tea, because it’s not really substantial enough for me. Thyme has a strong and distinctive flavour, and I find it adds a lot of substance to the green tea. It makes it stronger, if you know what I mean.
I’m glad I got a whole caddy of this.
Queued post, written August 26th 2014
I am a sucker for anything caramel or toffee or fudge flavoured. I’ve seen this brand before, but only in a sort of dual-tin sort of deal. You buy a pack with two tins containing something that is different but sort of matching the same theme. In a way. If you know what I mean. Every single set I have seen has had one tea I would very much like to try and one tea I found it doubtful I would like. And with 75g of each? Just say no.
But now they had this toffee flavoured one, and NOT in a dual tin thing!
It has little bits of toffee in it, which taste lovely and fudge-y. I tasted a few before I made the tea and I found it very promising. In general this tin has been smelling absolutely wonderful and tempting on my desk.
I gave the pot a good stir with a spoon before I poured it, just to make sure that all those little now melted toffee bits were evenly distributed, and again, it smells faboo. Caramel-y and a bit nutty. Just the way I like it.
The flavour was not in any way disappointing. For a long time Kusmi’s caramel was my ideal caramel flavoured black, but recently I’ve not been entirely satisfied with that one. Now I think this one might take its place as my favourite caramel-type black. It’s all rich and lovely, but still not so much that I don’t feel like I’m drinking tea.
I enjoyed this while spending a little time in the Steepster Chatzy room, so I wasn’t paying super-much attention to it, apart from what you see here, but I still know enough to give it this score. It’s really lovely.
Queued post, written August 21st 2014
Hurray, I can now start in on my Bad Dog teas. We are pretending that I actually didn’t buy them until just now. In which case I’m totally allowed and not a Bad Dog at all.
Husband was quite keen to try this one, as he had developed a bit of a fascination with all things rhubarb lately. We shall be growing some in the garden. Just imagine that. A rhubarb crumble made with super-fresh rhubarb that grew in your own garden! Gosh, stop me, I’m drooling.
For a long time now I have consequently made flavoured black tea with less than boiling water. I find that if the water is around 90°C or so, as opposed to 100°C, flavourings tend to present themselves better. It always makes me pleased to see when a company recommends less than boiling for a flavoured black. These people say 95°C, but my kettle doesn’t do that, so I chose 90°C instead. To be honest, the temperature in a kettle is never 100% accurate at all times anyway, which is why it amuses me a little when someone is unwilling to accept a kettle that can’t give you 1°C increments. (There was an annoying person on Steepster a few years ago who refused to accept less than one degree increments. She was… well, let’s be honest, I rather considered her my best enemy. Always good for an eyeroll. No need to name names though. Those who knew her may know who I mean. Those who didn’t, well, they don’t really need to, do they?) There will always be +/- one or two degrees to whichever temperature you ask it to make. It really doesn’t matter.
This is also flavoured with strawberry which becomes apparent when tasting the tea. It really tastes more like strawberry than rhubarb. There’s a bit of tartness to it, suggesting rhubarb, but it’s strawberry, mostly.
The base is Assam which… Hmmm… It’s nice, but a bit peculiar in combination with the flavouring. It’s like it clashes a little bit. It’s possible that this might grow on me though, and it’s quite a pleasant tea to drink otherwise, as the rating shows, but it’s not all that it could be. It’s not really rhubarb for crying out loud. Certainly and sadly not my favourite red fruit, favourite strawberry nor favourite rhubarb.
If it does grow on me, I might adjust the rating further upwards. For right now, I’m happy with an 80.
Queued post, written August 21st 2014
And thus, Steepsterites, I Emptied That Box!
Huzzah! I am now allowed to buy new stuff again. Point me in the direction of the nearest Dancong, please.
This last boxed item was one that Auggy sent to me, and she did so this spring, so it’s not even several years old, unlike some of the other things in the box. Right now it only contains my Bad Dog purchase from the other day. Ha!
Anyway, it’s the second of two matchas that Auggy sent to me. The first one was ginger flavoured (same brand) but didn’t taste all that much like ginger and quite a lot like just drinking super-strong sencha. Mind you, I’m not complaining about it not tasting like ginger.
This one is rather the same. Super-strong sencha, but not really much in the way of flavouring detected. I’ve had yuzu flavoured tea before, so I have a tentative grasp on what it’s supposed to taste like. It’s a kind of citrus fruit, which in itself should give a hunch. I’m just not really getting anything. There is a wee bit of a citrus note on the aftertaste, but not overwhelmingly so.
I don’t think my stance on matcha has really changed at all by trying these two. It remains the same. Matcha? Wasted on me. Sorry. I just can’t see the attraction. I’d much rather have a cup of flavoured actual normal sencha. Eating tea leaves doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest.