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1065 Tasting Notes
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So I was just sitting here quietly, recuperating after a weekend with my parents and little to no choice when it comes to tea. Two kinds, Steepsterites. TWO KINDS! That’s like… nothing! At least it’s good stuff, because it’s AC Perch’s own bags with real leaf inside that I bought for my Mum for Christmas once (and now seem to be drinking for her, because she sticks to her cheap stuff and saves these for me. headdesk ) So anyway, I was sitting here, minding my own business when suddenly,
I was hit by an unusual, but strong craving for green tea. A craving that meant serious business!
Nothing for it but to comply, then. I remembered that Autumn_Hearth sent me a number of green teas that I never finished sampling, so I thought dipping into those would be an excellent thing to do under these circumstances. I chose this one because I made a pot to share with Husband and the amount of leaf was Just Right for this purpose.
Bear in mind now, though, that my nose appears to be wanting to close up again so my sense of smell and taste may be ever so slightly off. Also the fact that I just ate a Fisherman’s Friend… Yeah. Ultra-good circumstances to try something new in, yes?!
I don’t usually bother much with the description of the colour of the tea, because tea is tea-coloured and I wind up repeating myself a lot if I do. So for me, that’s a fairly irrelevant bit of information unless something really strikes me about it, like it’s unusually dark for the type, or if it reminds me of something or if it’s, I don’t know, blue or something. Okay, maybe not blue, but you get my point. Unusualness.
This one struck me as being exactly the same colour as a gooseberry when I first poured the water on. I have to admit that I’m disappointed that it didn’t retain this colour all the way through, but I wasn’t really expecting it either.
What little I’m capable of smelling is totally floral. I’m not one of those people who can really tell the scent of different flowers apart, so either stuff is floral or it isn’t. This particular one, however, reminds me of lavender just off the top of my head, so I’m going to call it a lavender note.
That’s all I can find in my present state, though. I’m sure there must be more to it, but my nasal mucus membranes are not currently interested in participating in the experience.
Based on this, I fully expected something with a strong floral flavour, and what I actually got was a surprise. It doesn’t taste floral at all. Not even slightly.
There’s something vegetal going on here, which strikes me as borderline spinach-y, and then there’s something behind it that seems kind of salty.
Salty? O.o How absurd. I know other people have consistently found salty notes before, but I’ve never in my life really been able to pick that particular one out. It has always struck me as a pretty bizarre note to have in green tea, but I’m definitely getting it here. And I say again, O.o
I sincerely doubt I’m getting the full picture here, my health situation being what it is (I really thought I was finished having a cold! Why is it coming back?), but what little aspects I am able to taste here are very pleasant and definitely hitting that green craving spot.
I think Husband is enjoying it as well. He finished his off before me and accepted seconds. This wouldn’t happen if he didn’t like it.
Cold and wet Husband asked for something ‘black and robust and super life-giving’ after his shower, having just cycled home in the rain.
I can’t remember if I’ve given him this one before, so I thought now was a good time to do so.
I had a sample tin of this two years ago, in that Russian Blends sample sets, and back then I rather liked this one. But I finished the sample and didn’t pay any further attention to it.
Untill recently when it suddenly got inside my head that I wanted it again. I mean I wanted it! So after going around for a while with that want in the back of my head, just to see if it would stick around or go away or what, I finally decided that it was staying and not just a passing thought.
So I bought me a tin.
Drinking this now is like meeting up with a friend I haven’t seen in a long time. Everything I said in those posts of a few years ago still stands.
Correctly identified based on a sniff and a sip this morning. My powers are returning! MWAHAHAHA!
I’ll do a more thorough review of this one later, but we had some of it last night. I bought it because of the huge success I had with the raspberry and vanilla rooibos from Yumchaa which Cteresa shared with me. It started me on this whole flavoured rooibos thing and I’ve been meaning to buy some more of it for quite a while but just never got round to it. Then I was ordering from Nothing But Tea and saw they had this one and I jumped straight on a 100g pouch.
When we had some yesterday it tasted so identical to my memory of the Yumchaa one that I started to wonder if they actually were identical. I don’t know if either of those places make their own blends or if they buy them elsewhere, so I checked.
As it turns out they’re not identical because Yumchaa’s blend also has rose petals in it, which this one doesn’t. But apparently it’s close enough. Compared with my memory (and the keyword here is ‘memory’) of Yumchaa’s blend, these two are interchangable. Excellent news and bad news rolled into one. Excellent because then it doesn’t matter that I never got around to the Yumchaa order and bad news because it lessens the odd of me ever getting around to it.
Right now though, I’ll go and make us something else. Something sufficiently stronger as a post-vet-visit pick-me-up. Just their vaccinations, nothing dramatic, although the Charm Cat did attempt to scratch the vet to ribbons. (They had something in their shop called ‘dog beer’, a vitamin B supplement for dogs, sold in bottles with caps and labels that made it look a little like beer. I should get some for my dad’s dog for Christmas; he would find it hilarious!)
This one isn’t backlogged, and this sample is all I’ve got so perhaps it’s unwise to have it now when still not at full health. However, it’s a Chaplon tea and perfectly available for repurchase another time, so it’s not a big deal.
I bought a sample of this with my Chaplon order from not long ago. Cranberry is for me one of those flavours that are difficult to resist but never really manage to be truly spectacular unless mixed with something else. The Late Summer blend from AC Perchs is one we keep at work and has cranberry and vanilla in an absolutely wonderful combination. I’ve also once had a cranberry and orange and almonds, I think it was, blend that I received in a swap. Can’t remember the name of it or who shared it with me, but that was pretty awesome too. Cranberry on its own though? There have been a few good ones but not on the same scale really that I can recall. So I’m drawn to it and the perpetual mild disappointment. A bit like with vanilla, really. This is not the search for the perfect cranberry flavoured tea, though. It’s just a compulsion.
The aroma of this is very cranberry-y and all juicy smelling. It reminds me of dried cranberries, which, apart from juice and flavouring, is really the only sort of cranberry flavour I’m familiar with. I’ve seen you can get them fresh in the supermarket at the moment, but I don’t know what I’d use them for. Are they even edible raw? I seem to have read once that they aren’t.
I can vaguely pick up some of the base underneath. It smells kind of grainy and is described by Chaplon as ‘fairly robust’, although they don’t seem to be wanting to give me any more information regarding origin than that. I can’t pick up enough of it, though, partly due to the flavouring and partly due to the state of my sinuses that I can make any guess at where it might be from.
The flavour is totally cranberry-y. It’s exactly like eating dried cranberries, complete with the touch of astringency that these berries have. The flavouring is fairly strong but it seems to be only on the surface of the sip, where the body of it is the base tea with just a few smidgens of flavouring. It makes me wish I was in a state to taste it properly, but what I can pick up of it seems very nice. I’m getting the impression that this is a base that is right up my particular alley of preference. I wonder what it could be. I suspect it’s possibly a blend. I would quite like to have some of it without flavouring as well. I think I might like to write to Chaplon and ask, I’m feeling really very curious about this now. The worst that could happen is they say that they won’t disclose the information. (I can’t imagine that they don’t know. That would be silly.)
Chaplon recommends blending it with a mild Ceylon black for a milder flavouring, but for me I don’t really think they is necessary. Sure the flavouring is strong, but it seems well balanced and I rather enjoy the sensation of it being like a sphere with the flavour on the surface and sending tendrils into the body in the middle. I don’t think I would want to mess with that balance. But of course everybody prefers a different sort of balance with these things don’t they? It’s cool that it’s possible.
Funnily enough, this is a flavour that just keeps on giving, because although cranberries aren’t really something that is considered particularly soothing when it comes to the common cold, it seems to be helping a little anyway. Or possibly it’s just the drinking of something warm, I don’t know. There’s just something in it that makes me feel just a tiny bit of relief and refreshment. It’s not impossible that I might buy some of this another time.
Have a backlog, since I’m not capable of tasting anything properly at the moment, the Tan Yang Te Ji (♥) of this morning being proof thereof, and also it seems like it’s been a while since I wrote a proper post that wasn’t just a ‘poor me’ kind of thing.
So here is a tea that Auggy has shared with me, and which I have tasted rather out of season, because I didn’t really feel like waiting. And I’d already done the Thirsty Elf too which was also out of season, so…
It was, according to my notes, a chilly day when I had it, though, so I thought at the time that a Christmas tea seemed appropriate.
The leaf smelled of Christmas spices and particularly of ginger. There was a funny almost soapy note in it as well, but I’m not sure that wasn’t just another aspect of the ginger. Other thoughts I had were of clove, cinnamon and cardamom, but really it was mostly ginger. It’s supposed to have orange as well, but I only found that as a whiff of an accent to the other notes.
Not super-confident about this, I sipped with caution. Gosh, ginger! And soap. Now I definitely think the soapyness is a ginger aspect. As for the other ingredients, I could only find a weak orange and the shadow of an almond in the aftertaste. That’s it. No vanilla, no spices, no nothing. Just ginger.
So not a blend for me, this.
Here’s another backlog while we’re at it.
This one came from Hesper June and is another one of these hugely popular Butiki blends.
Personally I have to say I was a little doubtful as I’m not very fond of white tea these days, and especially not Bai Mu Dan which for me often tastes strongly of courgettes. I like courgettes, but I don’t like my tea to taste like them. It seems like BMD is the standard white tea to flavour, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best here.
The leaf smelled faintly of chamomille and vaguely of cantaloupe, and after steeping it was primarily a cantaloupe aroma. There was also a sort of thick, viscous smell to it, which I think must be the cream element. Underneath it all there were notes of something kind of spicy which I could only imagine must be the base. Strongly suspect BMD at this point.
First sip only strengthened this supicion. Why hello there mr Courgette! Fancy meeting you here. I thought the base was coming through quite strongly in this one. There were cantaloupe flavour as well, yes, but that was mostly in the aftertaste. I couldn’t seem to locate any cream anywhere.
I was a little disappointed by this one, but I think it’s because I didn’t care for the base tea and it was coming through a little too strongly for me.
Husband made this for us, and I COMPLETELY FAILED to identify it.
My first guess was a Ceylon.
I think this illness has broken my tongue.
I take great comfort, while sitting here feeling sorry for myself, in knowing that it’s the Goodest Stuff™ even though it currently tastes all funky.
Added a little honey for extra medicinalness. Seems to make the chamomile a wee bit more bearable.
At least it’s soothing. Poor us.
(You should hear Husband’s magnificent bedroom voice, guys!)
I was sceptical when I saw this, because of the lavender. On the other hand, it’s a vanilla tea. And you know what I’m like with vanilla these days. So I opted for a sample. Had it not had all that lavender in it, I would have done like I did with the strawberry pu-erh and gone straight for the whole entire 100g pouch, because
The aroma of this one is lavender and vanilla. For me, those two come out in equal amounts. Together they create an association partly of soap and partly of something that reminds me rather too much of something we have at work. I’m not sure what, but I’ll tell you this. It cannot be good.
I work in a hospital pathology lab. We have many many chemicals. Many of them stink. You do not want your tea blend to smell like work.
Given the fact that I can’t think of what it is at work it reminds me of, however, I’m willing to go out on a limb and continue. I’m comforting myself with the fact that it’s not formaline, it’s not xylene, and it’s not concentrated ammonium chloride. Those are the worst three stinkers I can think of. Perhaps it’s just one of those random brain short-cicuit associations that pop up from time to time?
Because, it does smell like vanilla.
And lavender. I’m uncertain about that lavender. I can see how it fits the name of the blend, as only foie gras and escargot could possibly be French-er than these two things in combination. And yet, it strikes me as a mildly odd combination. Vanilla and flowers? Really? Or is that just me being far too used to seeing vanilla with other sorts of fruit?
Anyway, I’m rambling. After steeping that funky work-association thankfully appears to be gone. Now it’s just vanilla and lavender. Vanilla, laying down a thick, creamy base which comes across as almost sickly sweet, and lavender adding floral accents on top. Unfortunately, the soapy associations are still very much there.
Right now I’m not having much hope of this being a Perfect Vanilla contender at all! O.O
The flavour is… Hm. sip It’s… sip kind of… sip sort of… sip … sip
Peculiar is a good word. It’s so lavender-y! I very much think I would prefer lavender in smaller concentrations, and never ever on its own. The vanilla is balancing the lavender out for me so that it doesn’t become unbearably floral, but I don’t really seem to be able to find any actual vanilla flavour in this. It’s all drowned out by the lavender. It’s like a debate moderator. When everything gets started you don’t pay any attention to him, but if he wasn’t there, the whole thing would go to pieces. (Look at me drawing inspiration from current events!)
This is most certainly NOT anything at all to do with Perfect Vanilla. I would barely say it had all that much to do with vanilla, really. I’m glad I only went for a sample. I might try and mix it up with something else and see what happens.
WOOHOO! My NBT order came in, and with it this strawberry flavoured pu-erh which I’ve been crazy looking forward to since discovering it while ordering. As a result, I ran (not walked) to Tea Corner to prepare me a cup.
Adding these new teas to my Steepster cupboard caused me to trip over the first post I wrote about the Pu Erh Orange from the same company (which I lurve) and it was full of memories of my great-grandparents’ house. Gosh, that was nice to read again. :)
Anyway, this one smelled OMG of strawberry! Real strawberry. Not strawberry leaf, or that synthetic flavour that represents how we think strawberry tastes until we eat one and are reminded of how it’s supposed to be. Real strawberry. I’m sure this is enhanced by the inclusion of currant and blackberry leaf and coconut chips as I’m not picking up anything about these other flavours at all. Just strawberry. Lots of strawberry.
And also, coconut chips? WHY??? O.o I except this is one of these things that are not for me to know…
After steeping I get strawberry and earthy pu-erh, but primarily the berries. I wouldn’t say these two notes meld quite as naturally as pu-erh and orange (which, for me, are two flavours that suit each other perfectly), but it does so much better than I had expected. I’ve been a little nervous about the combination, to be honest, but not so much that I didn’t order a full 100g pouch without bothering with samples first.
This? This is awesome. This tastes like strawberry jam. Exactly like strawberry jam, sweetness and all. Wow. Perhaps those coconut chips aren’t such a strange inclusion after all, since I expect they’re providing much of the sweetness here. I do seem to have a bit of a coconut-y aftertaste actually.
I’m glad I didn’t go with the sample first and took a chance on the full 100g. It’s not the last time I’ve bought this, I don’t think!
So the strawberry flavouring is spot on, and it’s quite strong too, but not so strong that the tea is completely drowned. Only nearly. It’s down there, I can tell, but I can’t find too many details about it. I just get an impression of something deep and dark and stable. If it had a noise it would be sort of rumbling. I’m reminded rather of the Ogier in the Wheel of Time series, or of Tolkien’s Ents.
I think the base is what really makes it work here. A pu-erh base seems solid and serious but with a playful, girly touch, whereas this in a black tea would just be frilly and frivolous. The average black tea base probably wouldn’t have enough strong low notes to really carry the flavouring off here.
I find it difficult to really describe this stuff. Just know this:
It is very very good.
Auggy shared this one with me, I think because she had said she wasn’t getting along with it and I told her of my new-found appreciation for flavoured rooibos. Although for me that’s largely berry-y flavouring. (And I still think it’s new-found.)
I cannot shake the notion of celery. Both in smell and flavour.
A statement which caused Husband to exclaim, and I quote:
“You are smoking rocks!”
He thought it smelled like some sort of orange-y chocolate-y drink. I can’t find either. I can barely even find the rooibos!
Celery on the other hand…
I don’t much like celery.
Husband is enjoying it, though.
It’s been a week since I received this sample and I’ve only just now got around to drinking it. I was feeling a little under the weather when I got it, and I didn’t think those were the best conditions to have it in, having promised to do my best with it. And now a week has gone by and I still haven’t got to it. I was beginning to feel a little guilty about it, so I decided that today was The Day, especially as it would come in handy as a pick-me-up after the c25k torture of the day. (Horrid today! Horrid! A marked difference from Friday which was a 3.2 km running, no walking, powering through triumph! But horrid today.)
Nuvola Tea approached me by email, asking whether I would be interested in receiving a free sample and posting about it. That’s the first time I’ve been approached with such an offer, so it felt rather special to me for them to do so. Like my opinion mattered. Kind of flattering and humbling all at the same time. I know some of you others have tried this several times, so you probably know what I mean. After having asked a couple of questions, I eventually agreed and promised to do my best. So this is it.
I don’t normally pay any attention to recommended parameters. Water temperature, yes, leaf amount and steeping time, no. I know which strength I prefer my teas to have and which length of steeping normally produces the best cup for me. The person who wrote out the recommendations may not share my particular preferences, and so tea brewing becomes every bit as subjective as the actual flavour experience itself. So most often I go by my own experiences first. If that doesn’t work, then I might start looking at instructions and get some inspiration that way.
With this particular tea I thought I owed it to Nuvola Tea to try and follow their instructions as closely as I could, since they were providing the leaf for free in order for me to post about it for them, and there only being enough for the one go. As it turns out, though, I do actually still get to do it my way, as these instructions fit pretty closely into the procedure I was planning on following as mentioned above. I would have have made the steeps a wee bit longer initially, but the difference here is fairly small, so I might as well follow theirs. Coming that close to their instructions based only on my own experience and educated guesswork makes me feel all validated and smart!
Now, when I received the sample there was also a leaflet included which showed a table of the different teas Nuvola offers, sorted according to strength and degree of oxidation, with a small one sentence description of each. That was pretty inspiring. I found a couple more things in that table which I would like to try at one point, and at least one of them was a tea that I don’t think I would have otherwise even looked at.
More importantly for me, however, the leaflet also has a map of Taiwan with the origin of each tea is drawn in. I love that! I love knowing where a tea comes from in slightly more detail than just ‘Taiwan’ or ‘Sri Lanka’ or whichever tea producing country you can think of. There will be differences even within the same country and that makes for half the fun of exploring a region. This particular tea was produced right in the middle of the island
Okay, enough with the introductory chatter. The actual tasting begins here.
So now, the first steep was given 30 seconds as according to Nuvola’s oolong brewing recommendations, because in spite of all intentions to do my best, I still managed to botch the temperature. It has a very sweet aroma, quite caramel-y, and with just a smidge of something kind of floral waaaay in the background. It mostly cararmel. Actually it rather reminds me of that Jade Orchid Oolong that I liked from Shang Tea. The one that tasted like creme brulee! Could this actually be something similiar to that? It would be awesome if it were!
The initial flavour I’m getting is a something mineral, but it’s fleeting and quickly gives way to a mixture of floral and caramel. This is indeed caramel-y. If I didn’t know any betting I might have thought it had been flavoured. There are some slightly dry-ish cocoa-y notes as well but they seem to stay mainly on the edges of the flavour, letting the caramel really take the lead.
To tie off the comparison with the Jade Orchid Oolong from Shang Tea, yeah, this really does remind me a lot of how I remember that one to be. All sweet and dessert-y.
For the second steep I made sure to go by the recommendations for a black tea rather than an oolong. All this really entailed at this point, was giving the temperature a notch upwards, but the steeping time was the same. This time the caramel note has stepped back a bit and the cocoa-y note is coming more into the mix. The primary note, though, is nother caramel nor cocoa but something vaguely fruity. I can’t tell which sort of fruity, but I think it seems most like some kind of stone-fruit, like nectarines or apricots. There’s a slightly floral top note here as well.
Again, there is a fleeting note of mineral and then it’s gone all fruity! It’s definitely a stone-fruit, I think. Plums! In the background the mixture of caramel and cocoa-y-ness, which provides a sweet and smooth aftertaste. Like just having eaten caramel-flavoured sweets.
Hey, this is going rather well in spite of my initial confusion!
The third steep combines tea drinking with one of my favourite things in the world: Being sat on by a cat. Especially one of mine as they are so adorably cute and they purr! I just have to be really careful not to spill hot tea on her. The aroma of which has now taken on a wooden sort of oolong-y note (oh, and now my cat went away. Boo. I can’t compete with the lure of the water bowl apparently) with cocoa and that same fruity, plum-y note underneath. No caramel at this point.
The flavour is the same as the aroma. AGAIN that one fleeting flavour of minerals, which is odd, actually because it’s always there in the first sip, but only the first sip. I don’t get the logic of that, really. Perhaps it has something to do with temperature or something. Anyway, after that initial misleading sip, the flavour is largely fruity and cocoa-y-wood-y. There is still a wee bit of caramel left, but only on the aftertaste. Something tells me I’ve seen the last of that caramel at this point.
The fourth steep is had after a few hours break with a puzzle (and a cat halping me). I do loves me a good puzzle, but they never seem to last long enough. I’ve got one 4000 pieces one which I’ve taken out now. That ought to keep me entertained for a while, but I’ve only done it once before and it’s quite difficult, so here I am for a bit of liquid courage. It took a month the first time around! O.O Not sure what I’ll do with it in regards to hoovering, but I’m sure I’ll think of something.
Anyway, my liquid courage has an aroma that is very much like the one in the third steep and therefore shan’t be commented further upon. The flavour is all smooth and slightly cake-y, and to my surprise the caramel bottom note is there again as strong as ever. It was just that the other notes were covering it up some before. Those have receded, though, so I’ve got caramel-y smoothness which even tastes ever so slightly thick and milky. That’s funny, I was certain the caramel note was finished.
The fifth steep seems to be the last. For one thing, I’m running out of day. For another thing, I’m also apparently running out of flavour. It’s still quite caramel-y, but that’s the only flavour note left to me. Maybe if I had increased the steeping time more than I did it would have been a different result, but I didn’t.
In that event, I shall pee, post, have dinner, watch The Pirates and go to bed. In that order.
For our wedding, we received a gift card good for, among many choices, a real English cream tea at a tea house here in the city. Roughage, it’s that place we talked about earlier where you went when you were in town. I think the woman who owns it is actually English by birth, so that makes me think that the whole thing must be as close to authentic as possible. We had a pot of yellow tea of some sort, I think Meng Ding Huang Ya, but I’m not sure, two scones each with strawberry jam, lemon curd and clotted cream. Husband didn’t think the clotted cream was 100% authentic as he knows it and is now saying that we should go to Cornwall at some point and have the Real Deal.
What we had here was good enough for me though. I’ve never had clotted cream of any kind before. It looked sort of like creme fraiche and it tasted like whipped cream, only the consistency was different. More spread-y, less fluffy and airy, but not butter-y. There was also a small bowl of grapes and berries and two sample bags of their Silver Needle White. The only white tea I can recall having had in ages which wasn’t flavoured in some way is Bai Mu Dan, and I’ve fallen rather spectactularly out of love with that one, so I’ll be interested to see how this turns out. It was really very nice.
Apparently they also do tastings and talks and stuff there now and then, so I’m probably going to drag the boss with me there as well. She’s not really into tea as such, other than she enjoys a better than average cup and finds it interesting to hear about, but not so interesting that she’ll go nerdy about it like we do here. We have tea and scones and cake semi-regularly at a different place, but the tea served here is really very much of a different calibre. Much more focus on type and quality, where our usual place is more focused on being a cafe with large tea choices. So you could say it was the difference between the modern and the very traditional approach, really.
Anyway, yellow tea isn’t really any part of our usual fare, so by the time we got home I rather found myself wanting something a little more sturdy. Out comes the other one of my recently acquired Ceylons. I mentioned this earlier, that I’ve had this one years and years ago and really enjoyed it then, so I’m a little nervous about whether I still like it as much now. I know for Absolute Fact that my tastes have changed a lot in the meantime.
It has a grassy Darjeeling-esque aroma to it after steeping which, although I wasn’t expecting that at all, doesn’t really surprise me. At the time when I had this before, I was all over Darjeeling like white on rice. Can barely stand the stuff these days. So yeah, I’m not surprised that I liked this so much at that point in time. The dry leaf doesn’t smell like that at all, though. That’s more dark and leather-y. Slightly tobacco-y and kind of reminds me of horses in a field. Well, it does. There’s also a note to it which I can’t quite place, but I think maybe it’s some sort of wood. I just don’t know which one. It smells wood-y and characteristic of something all at the same time.
Unfortunately I rather botched the brewing a bit, and it has turned out way too strong. I think I probably wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing when spooning out leaves and added a spoonful too many. It’s gone somewhat astringent, and Husband is going so far as to saying “a bit vile”, but he didn’t take me up on the offer of making something else. Apart from the astringency, though, I can definitely tell that the steeped aroma isn’t lying. There is definitely a grassy, Darjeeling-y tinge to it. It was explained to me once that Darjeeling isn’t really fully a black tea as we understand it, although they get classified as such, so this one strikes me as showing what Darjeeling would be like if it was.
At this point, I’m not super cheerful about it. I feel a little disappointed that it would seem I probably don’t like it as much anymore as I once did, but in all fairness it is hard to tell when one has botched the pot, so I’ll just have to came back to this one again later and see what I actually think of it.
Well. Who am I to resist a Keemun? You will never find the perfect Keemun if you do not try all the ones you come across. No need for samples here, as I have never met a Keemun I could not drink. The whole 140g tin for me please!
This company has some funny amounts for sale. Rather than setting standard amounts for their products, they have a standard container and then see how much they can get in there. With Keemun, 140g. Wtih the Ceylon Galle only 120g in the same tin. The tins look nice enough. Metal, wrapped with paper and with double lids. But they have shoulders. I get the purpose of this, making the exposed area of leaf whenever the tin is opened as small as possible, but I hate a shouldered tin. It’s such a hassle reaching when you get to the bottom of it and it’s difficult to empty completely. And it’s a good thing we have a dishwasher, or I wouldn’t have bothered trying to wash it at all. For anything else than leaf preservation, shouldered tins are not very practical at all.
However, Chaplon sells tea in these tins and they also sell tea in refill bags! So here’s to hoping this is the Keemun I shall find myself wanting to refill! That would make most of my complaints about the non-practical tin moot. (I definitely think I might want to refill the Gâlle, even if Husband didn’t find it as spectacular as I did. That’s why I bought two Roy Kirkham pots after all)
The leaf has a floral sort of aroma to it with just smidge of smoke in the background. It doesn’t come across as particularly grainy either, although there is some of that too. Mostly it’s just the floral and maybe a little leathery. Hmm. I was hoping for more grain and smoke, really. Still, it doesn’t mean all is lost. The aroma of a tea rarely translates directly into flavour for me. Usually there is a difference balance between notes.
After steeping, it seems much better. It’s got a good, round grainy body topped with that floral note with a smidge of smoke. I could have wanted it to be a wee bit more smoky than floral rather than the other way around, but I can deal with this as well. It does actually smell very good and very very promising. On the whole, it’s a thick and smooth aroma, which comes very very close to being Just Right.
The top note seems right on the balance between floral and smoky. At first I can’t seem to decide if it’s more one or the other, but then, as I’m ready to swallow, I think it’s mostly smoky. And yet, a floral aftertaste is lingering right on the tip of my tongue, which feels kinda funny. So far so good! All I need now is a good, strong, grainy body that makes me think of rye bread.
Well, it’s not traditional Danish rye bread, but it’s actually almost better! It’s all sweet and brown sugar-y. Like a slice of rye sprinkled with brown sugar. I’ve even brewed it a little stronger than I usually would this morning and now it tastes all dark and a little bit sinister. It’s totally swirling a theatrical theater cape in my head right now.
“This is not the Perfect Keemun,” says Ang’s brain.
“Well, what would you change?” asks Ang’s tongue.
“…” gapes Ang’s brain.
Yes, I think I’ve come closer than ever to it. Closer than ever! I can’t tell if it’s the One True Perfect Keemun for me yet, I need to have it some more times, but we are definitely very close to it. Close enough that for now I will say the search has at least temporarily ended. Like Auggy said of a Keemun not too long ago, “I’m sure TeaSpring has a Keemun that could wipe the floor with this one and make it cry for its mommy”, but this particular one is available from inside the actual country and therefore not expensive in shipping, and it’s affordable in Srs Bsnss amounts. Those two are major factors when calculating the Perfection Score!
And to think I just added it to the order as an afterthought because, hey, Keemun, why not? Why exactly is it I haven’t shopped here in years and years and years?
(Oh yeah, and this is another one where I need to translate the vendor’s info for you lot. I’ll get around to it soon, I promise. I’ve put it on my to-do list so that I don’t forget.)
Oh look, a backlog. A very backlogged backlog actually wot I actually wrote two weeks ago. But there you are. Also, my formatting appears to have been stripped at some point… Deal with it.
Here’s another one from Auggy. I feel a bit like I’m neglecting Hesper June’s parcel, but Auggy sent me so many!
Auggy and I have discovered on several occasions that on the subject of black tea we tend to be Taste Twins. We like so many of the same ones, and we seem to look for the same qualities in them. The one where we’re the most different is probably Assam. I’m slightly sceptical about Assam. Not because flavour as such, because I do agree with her that Assam can produce an immensely good cup. I like it, when it’s well brewed.
Unfortunately, it does not always like me, and that well-brewed cup is diffciult for me to attain. Even when I think I follow all instructions to the letter, it’s still sometimes a game of chance whether I get a good, pleasant cup, or something just a smidge too astringent and bitter. This is actually a big reason for why I prefer the Chinese black teas over all others. They’re idiot-proof. Some of them, although not all, are almost completely impossible to ruin.
So I’m going at this one with some degree of caution.
The leaves smell nice. Slightly woodsy, and quite malty, and this repeats itself in the brewed cup. Emphasis on malty. Many Assams, when I’ve managed to get a good cup, have for me had a strong note of raisins or similar dried fruit, but I’m not finding any such thing in the aroma here. I kind of miss it a bit. It feels a little like there an element missing.
To my relief, the raisin note is there in the flavour though, and it’s the first one I encounter when sipping, followed shortly by a fairly long malty note with a woodsy highlight. I’ve just had pancakes for breakfast, so I’m not currently capable of detecting any other aftertaste other than pancakes. As it cools a little it does develop that particular note that I think is what Auggy describes as ‘good cardboard’, and I can see what she means by that description.
I managed to get me a good cup out of it today. Yay me!
My order from Chaplon just came in today. Chaplon was my first ever experience with loose leaf tea of a better quality than my supermarket had to offer and also my first ever internet purchase. If I’m not mistaken, actually, my first EVER internet purchase. Of anything. I shopped there frequently for a couple of years and then for some reason just… stopped. I suppose it was because I found other shops and Chaplon was just little by little sort of forgotten.
Then, the other day, they came up by coincidence in an email conversation with Auggy, and that made me wonder what sort of stuff they had these days. I had been getting some occasional newsletters, but for some reason I just hadn’t really been paying attention to them. So I went and had a look on their site and proceeded to have a 225 kr accident.
I have actually been having some vague Ceylon-y thoughts lately, and although Chaplon isn’t officially specialising in anything, I think they might actually be the most interesting place to turn to that I can think of when it comes to Ceylon tea.
This particular one is the reason for this, and it is, from a Danish point of view in particular, I suppose, an extremely interesting tea. Why? Because it’s Danish. Some years ago Chaplon actually bought the plantation that makes it! They have a few others from that plantation, flavoured or scented with this or that, but for now I’ve stuck to the pure thing.
The dry leaf have a funny licorice-y or anise-y note to the aroma. It sort of hangs in the nostrils for a long time after I’ve sniffed at them. It’s also relatively malty and it has a touch of leather and tobacco to it as well. Ceylon, in general, have always sort of reminded me of Assam, only milder, and this one is only adding to that association. The aroma so far is definitely holding a lot of promise.
After steeping the aroma has mellowed out. The peculiar note of licorie or anise has gone, but the others are still there. Only now, instead of being individually detectable, they’re all mixed together into a homogenous sort of aroma that reminds me of a not too strong honey.
This is actually very good! And a wonderfully layered flavour that really develops in the mouth. I swear I made this face O.O as it happened!
At first it’s all thick and milky, and perhaps a little bit bland. The sort of note where you think you added a little bit too much milk to your milk tea, if you are a milk-adder. Then, just as I start to feel a little bit disappointed by that, it blooms on the tongue. Woodyness, spice and leather. It builds and builds and builds until you finally get a prickly floral note on the swallow, which also continues into a pretty long aftertaste.
I am very, very impressed by this! I’ve had bouts of Ceylon interest before, but never really managed to find THE Ceylon. I think I’ve been searching in the wrong places. I think it was right under my nose the whole time.
I’ve also got an Uva Highlands Estate from Chaplon here on my desk. I remember I’ve had that one before, years and years ago and enjoyed it greatly. In the light of that past experience and this one I’ve just had now, I’m VERY much looking forward to trying that one as well.
(And yeah, unless you can read Danish, don’t bother looking up the description yet. I’ll translate it later)
My new Roy Kirkham china has arrived! There’s a picture of it here along with the old cracked one. You can see the crack if you look closely. I haven’t cleaned it yet, obviously, and it appears, now that I look closer at it, that the crack has actually been leaking some, or there wouldn’t be dribbles down the side like that. 1
What better time to try the caramel tea that Auggy sent me? I am even using the cup that goes with it, rather than a mug like a usually do. I tend to prefer the mug because I can empty the whole pot in one go. This way the last half will keep on steeping. But, new china is new china! I couldn’t use a mug for it this very first time. Oh the joys of not having to pour over the sink!
It’s very sweet smelling, but not necessarily caramel sweet at first. It’s more like it’s just a fairly generic, mild black tea with a hefty amount of cane sugar in it. Hm. That’s not really the sort of aroma I want to find in a caramel tea…
I’m afraid the flavour is the same as the aroma. It’s just sweetened tea with a mild base. Ceylon, possibly. It reminds me of Ceylon. The sweetness even comes across more like a naturally occurring sweetness rather than an added flavouring and I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s really cool that it’s possible to flavour a tea and have it taste like it’s not flavoured at all. On the other hand, I was looking for something caramel flavoured here, and currently this cup is not living up to the expectations I had when I saw the label on the tin. Not even a little bit.
If you are someone who normally sweetens your tea, then I think you would find it unnecessary to do so here. For someone like me who would never dream of adding any sort of sweetening agent ever, it’s coming across as something almost cloying. I haven’t sweetened my tea at all since I was a young child, save for the occasional experiment which usually didn’t work anyway, and right now this cup is reminding me of why I don’t want to start again.
I won’t say I dislike it, because it certainly is drinkable, and perhaps I was supposed to steep it longer than I did, but this is not what I understand a caramel flavoured anything to be. This? This is black tea with sugar in it. That’s it. I’m not even sure I would say it tastes like something that has anything to do with caramel as such. It’s no where near the likes of Kusmi’s caramel or the LPdT Toffee.
The Imperial Breakfast Summer blend from Verdant tea that I enjoyed this morning was more caramel-y than this. And that one wasn’t even flavoured with anything.
As is the norm for me, because I can’t remember from nose to mouth, I placed a Verdant Tea order and promptly forgot about what three quarters of it was. Then I saw TerriHarpLady post about this one and hoped that it would be in there. And it was! How excellent!
On the paper it sounds like an extremely interesting blend and not a single ingredient like your average breakfast blends. No Assam, no Ceylon, no Keemun. Is it even possible to create something breakfast-y without those three? Yes. Yes it is, apparently. Instead a mixture of the Laoshan Black (which I lurve) and some Jin Jun Mei, which Spoonvonstup introduced me to (although I preferred the Fujian ones, but really… who’s surprised by that?), and then some Da Hong Pao and some Silver Needle and some pu’erh to fill out and accentuate and what have you. I mean seriously! I’m not surprised that it turned out that I did order some of this. I’m highly surprised that I couldn’t remember doing so, because really! O.O I sounds like the sort of thing I’d remember…
The leaf smelled wonderfully grainy, and there were some Yunnan-y notes in there, but none of the ones that I don’t like. When I was pouring it after steeping (still from the stupid pot and over the sink, WHEN OH WHEN will my new Roy Kirkham china arrive???) I got a faceful of something thick, sweet and grainy. It’s really hard to describe this aroma as anything other than thick. It smells like something that really ought to be tangible at first. After the cup has settled down a bit, it becomes less so and actual notes start to seep out.
My first thought is dulce de leche. And LOTS of it! Underneath that something chocolate-y and something cinnamon-y an just a smidge of smoke, which weirdly manages to somehow not be a top note. blink I don’t get that bit. Smoke has always been a top note for me. Always! Curious.
This peculiarity is fixed in the flavour, though, where the smidge of smoke is restored to its rightful place at the top. And all is again right with the world. That note is immediately followed by the chocolate, cinnamon, dulce de leche combination, which lasts for the entire sip and then goes straight to the aftertaste, which, to my surprise, is indeed with a bit of vanilla to it. I wasn’t actually expecting that. Whenever I see vanilla (and to some degree also caramel) described as a naturally occurring flavour in something, I can never seem to find any, so I’ve stopped expecting it. Maybe it has to do with my obsession with finding the perfect vanilla flavoured black?
It’s not until after I’ve swallowed that I realise something is missing. Where exactly was the body in this? Where was that grain and malt and stuff that I picked up from the dry leaf? Where did that go? Laoshan Black and Jin Jun Mei are both teas with pretty assertive and strong flavours, so… where did they go? It’s like all their top notes just banded together, ganged up on the rest of the notes and locked them in a cellar somewhere. I can’t find even a hint of grain in this. How peculiar!
And yet… And yet, if you really could take the body notes out of the equation all together, I don’t think you would actually end up with this result. They are there, I just can’t taste them because they are the stuff that holds all the rest together in a united front. Without them, it would probably just be something that tasted layered and somewhat thin. They are there. They are important notes. They’re just working behind the scenes on this one.
I apologise for that last be becoming a little odd. Blame it on my having acquired some sicks somewhere, it seems. I feel all ‘W and F’, as the father in law says (Weak & Feeble).
‘Peculiar’ seems to be the keyword here. What an all round peculiar tea. Peculiar, but living up to my initial expectations completely and utterly. Auggy, there will definitely be a share of this in your care package. I’m very much looking forward to what you think about it.
This is another one that came from Auggy. Slowly but surely I’m making my way through her offerings. There are definitely more tried than untried now anyway.
Earl Grey for me have always been somewhat touch and go. I won’t ever grow to love them, but I do seem to be able to tolerate them better today. Just a couple of years ago, I would say I didn’t much like it at all. I believe flavoured teas is the place where Auggy’s and my Taste Twinniness stops. We don’t always appreciate the same flavours. Or maybe it doesn’t stop as such. It just runs parallel. Even if it’s not the same flavourings, we still seem to look for approximately the same qualities. I guess ultimately it probably has to do with the balance between flavour and body, and then, when there is a difference in our tastes regarding a flavoured tea, the recent Burrough’s Brew being a good example, it has more to do with the flavour itself than anything else. If that makes sense.
Anyway, this one smells like a regular Earl Grey. Bergamot-y. That’s it. I’m not sure what the Shanghai element is at this point, and looking up the company’s description doesn’t make me any wiser. Apparently the base is Yunnan on this one, but… Shanghai isn’t anywhere NEAR the Yunnan province! They’re actually on opposite ends of the country. Unless there’s more than one place called Shanghai which I suppose is possible, but… Maybe, since the base is a purely Chinese tea, they just wanted something in the name that was very Chinese? Oh well.
After brewing the aroma is less bergamot-strong and more generally citrus-y. A bit orange-y even. Yes orange. Bergamot and orange. I skimmed through Auggy’s post on it and she mentioned that it reminded her of the Romanoff blend, and I have to say I agree. I’m glad for that orange note. It brightens it all up and makes everything lighter. Bergamot on its own is often a dark and heavy smell, but with the orange addition here it’s positively lively.
It’s still lively in flavour, although the comparison to Romanoff stops there. It’s not the rampant blend of myriads of citrus that Romanoff is, but I wouldn’t say this comes across as a regular Earl Grey either. I believe that must have something to do with the base. Hardly a regular Earl Grey base, is it? But even the flavouring seems different. Whether it just interacts differently with different bases, I can’t say, but it doesn’t have that dusty, prickly, perfume-y bergamot characteristics that are the main reason I don’t normally go much for Earl Grey. Sometimes they even taste like soap! It doesn’t actually come across as bergamot at all. Just… citrus that isn’t any of the more common citrus-fruits. Just generic citrus, with maybe a smidge of bergamot in the background. Not soap-y though.
It’s an Earl Grey that understands how not to make a spectacle of itself. In spite of its fancy and exotic name, it’s down to earth and confident in itself enough to not have to be very loud in the cup. And that is the best way for me to have Earl Grey.
Aaaaaand book done. It was awesome! And there were stuff at the end which I totally called two books ago! flail Big Dramatic Oh My Ceiling Cat sort of stuff! Took about 25 hours all in all, because I am old and no longer capable of reading through the night. And it still got late enough that I found myself forced to succumb to a good long nap this afternoon. Which would have become way too long had the post-woman not woken my by ringing my doorbell. Took a while for that to penetrate, but thankfully she still waited until I managed to drag myself to the door. And thus my Verdant order has arrived. Haven’t tried any of those yet.
The rest of this post was typed up a few days ago.
This is a blend of Assam and Darjeeling and as such a completely un-me thing for me to buy. I don’t know what I was thinking. Other than the fact that I found out a shop in the city where I live sells a small selection of Jeeves & Jericho teas. WHAT THE PLOCK ARE THE ODDS??? It gave me an excellent opportunity to buy the Oxford Blend again which I bought when I ordered from them and which we turned out to rather like. And then while I was there, I got this sort of mad craving for a Lady Grey blend and they didn’t have one. There isn’t one on the site either, so I can only conclude that it doesn’t exist in this brand. There is the Girlie Grey, but that’s a completely different beast from Lady Grey. Disappointed that I couldn’t get the sort I had wanted, I decided to get something else and chose this one without really paying too much attention to what was in it. It has a lady on the tin, see? Close enough, I decided.
When I came home and smelled the leaf, though, that’s when I became a little more sceptical, wondering what I had been thinking. It smells very much of Darjeeling, and not very much of Assam. What had I got my Darj-disliking self into??? After steeping the Assam came out a lot more, which put my mind a little at ease. I’m not super-fond of Assam either, because I find it so difficult to consistently get a good cup out of it, even when religiously following the same method every time, but I prefer it over Darjeeling any time.
The flavour was very Darj-y as well, but the Assam laying down the bottom for it made the Darj a lot more easy to handle for me. It’s like Darjeeling in blends goes down much better for me, because the things I don’t like about it gets diluted out a bit more, whereas on its own, it’s just too much. Curiously, this blend reminded me a little of the Scottish Breakfast blend from Mark T Wendell that Hesper June shared with me. It’s a shame I didn’t get this until afterwards, or I would have shared some of it with you!
All in all, I found it a pleasant blend. It won’t ever become a favourite, but it was a nice change from the China, since Chinese black makes up roughly 95% of all the black tea I drink that isn’t flavoured with something else. That came as rather a surprise for me! It shan’t usurp China’s place as favourite black tea producer, though.