1256 Tasting Notes
Queued post, written April 20th 2014
I think Husband is broken. I’ve been giving him the choice between the JW samples three times now, and he still hasn’t chosen the lapsang souchong. Is this the act of Cornflakes-man, I ask you? This is very disturbing. Do you think it might be bodysnatchers? O.O
Now, this one I would, had circumstances (ie shipping fees and my bank account) been different, have got a full tin of without even blinking. But, there were other choices that I also wanted a full tin of, both of which were new to me and with infinite potential for being Interesting, so I had to make do with a sample. Okay. I can live with that.
This is one of those kinds of tea where I know for certain sure that I’ll like it without having to have to sample it first. The very name of it alone is worth the first 80 points on the Steepster scale. It’s not a type which has to prove itself to me first, like an Assam or a Ceylon does.
There is a creamy sort of quality to the aroma of this one. I haven’t added anything to the cup, I never do, but it smells like there might have been a drop of cream in there somewhere. Apart from that it’s got that grain-y note that I love, but I’m not picking up too much in the way of cocoa notes.
Once upon a time I had a Bai Lin. The first one I ever had, and it tasted like mandarins. Therefore this is a note I always look for, but have never found again. Well, that’s not true, it may have been there in others, but never to the same extent. For this reason my ideal BL tastes like mandarins.
This one is grainy and cocoa-y and it has a sort of springy freshness to it. It’s a bit giddy, a bit bouncy. JW calls it elegant and sophisticated, but for me there’s a childish glee in it that doesn’t really equate ‘elegant and sophisticated’ at all.
It does not, however, deliver on the mandarins. Oh well. Perhaps I’m chasing shadows. It’s very enjoyable all the same.
I’m skipping the queue with this one because this is a really old bag that Fleurdelily shared with me in 2012. Yes, 2012. It’s that old! It’s been languishing in a tin of quite forgotten teabags of the same age and that’s what I’ve been drinking today.
This is the one that has handled it the worst. There’s pretty much nothing left, but there’s just enough flavour to provide a fairly pleasant cup of hot water.
On the other hand, it gives me an opportunity to impart a green tea related thing that happened to me yesterday. At work we have this coffee/hot chocolate vending machine that we can use for free. It can also dispense hot water so they’ve put up a selection of usually around five to seven different boxes of tea bags. Several of these boxes seem to be variety packs so the amount of choice is quite good. Only… Primarily, it’s Pickwick, and Pickwick is on par with Lipton. Well, it’s free and it’s a super common brand and most people aren’t as into this stuff as we are on Steepster. (No, really. Most people don’t care. It’s true!) It’s our cleaning assistants who look after it, and yesterday one of them was doing the daily cleaning/re-fill of it. She had just taken the foil off a green tea variety pack when I happened to walk past. So she thrust it right under my nose.
“Here, smell this! Doesn’t that smell lovely?” says she.
(recoils a bit) “I think it smells cheap…” says I. I swear it just popped out of my mouth. Had I had a moment to think I’d have just said yes and judged silently.
“Cheap?! You’re not serious! They cost over 20 kr each these boxes!” exclaims she.
“Yeah, that’s cheap,” says I in another spontaneous moment and hurried on before we could get into a discussion about it.
What I really ought to have said was that it smelled ridiculously expensive, because while the tea itself did smell quite cheap and paper-y, she’s right that it is hugely expensive when it comes to the actual amount of actual tea in a box.
I will also blame my unintended honesty on the fact that the box she put under my nose was a variety pack of floral scented green teas, and I don’t much care for floral stuff under the best of circumstances. Actually I don’t even much like the smell of perfume or even some flowers. There’s a particular one that I’ve told Husband in banned from the house on account of it being stinky. I can’t remember what it’s called, but I can recognise it on
sight stink. Luckily for me he thinks he knows which one I mean and is fine with it. For people who like flower smells it’s probably lovely. I think it reeks to high heaven because the scent of it is so very strong.
If only she hadn’t thrust that box under my particular sniffer!
Queued post, written April 18th 2014. I just decided this morning that today would be a green tea day. Seems fitting that the next post in the queue is also a green tea. Queue is only 15 pages long these days, btw!
And another one bites the dust. First time I’ve had it, but I’ve given some of it away so I actually used the rest of it now.
After the oddness that were the Northern Wilds, I rather fancied something different. Something completely different. Green was the answer and this was the first one I found.
It smells kind of citrus-y. A little like lemon-water. Other than that I’m not getting much in the way of scent.
The flavour is completely different from the aroma. I almost came to expect something really mild with a bit of lemon twang, and instead something bit my tongue. There is the lemon, but it’s more pithy than juicy, and this is then followed by something I can best describe as default green. Sort of vegetal but without me being able to really say what sort of greenery I think it is.
I find myself actually rather enjoying this. Imagine that. A Darjeeling that doesn’t have me nose-wrinkling even a little bit. How surprisingly nice!
Queued post, written April 18th 2014
This is chosen primarily because I keep finding it in the box and having no idea what it is. So now I’m going to try it and get it out of that box for good. Bonnie shared it with me, and when I say ‘shared’ I mean seemingly ‘sent me the rest of her sample pouch.’
I am uncertain about this blend. It has a number of things in it that I don’t even know what are, some things that are okay and some that are decidedly meh. And it rather… smells. Husband says it smells like Pears soap, but I don’t know what that smells like. I’ll give him the soapy association, though.
Things do not get better after steeping. Husband has changed his stance to ‘minty bath soap’ which… I’ll leave it up to you to tell me if this is better or not. Sceptical cat is sceptical.
I’m not sure what I think of this. It’s definitely minty and there’s something else that gives me a strong dark chocolate association. (To my relief it doesn’t actually taste like soap) As it cools a bit, though, it just becomes more and more minty. There is supposed to be oolong in here somewhere but you could have fooled me.
We found this somewhat drinkable, but not otherwise to our tastes.
Queued post, written April 18th 2014
I tried this in a cold brew, because I don’t really care for these blends that are made up of only dried fruit. I find them often rather sour and frequently somewhat bland-ish. Generally I’ve had the best experiences with them in cold brews, so that was what I went for.
Lots of the blend in a couple of filter bags in a jug over a couple of days, and the result was… a really thin vaguely apple-juicy concoction. I tried it hot as well, and that was pretty much the same story.
Unbelievably dull. I might as well have been drinking water, it just didn’t work at all. I’m not certain what to do with the rest of the bag now. It may very well find itself relocated. To the bin. As it came from the christmas calendar I have no qualms at all doing this. I didn’t pick it myself and there is a great deal of it.
A world of meh.
Queued post, written April 18th 2014
Okay, I’m going to do a quick morning post of this and after that I’m going to aim for the ABTS (Apply Bottom To Seat) approach to my Camp NaNoWriMo writing. I’ve got behind while we had Husband’s parents staying, but that’s not really the biggest problem. The real problem is that I’m in re-writing phase now and this has turned out to be an awful lot more difficult than I imagined it would be. I would murder my internet for the duration, but that’s not as easy as it sounds and involves reaching into tiny corners and places where I can’t see what I’m doing, so I’m just going to have excert will-power.
HAH! As if anybody believes that. I’m already struggling with convincing myself to NOT have cake for breakfast. I am such a grown-up.
Anyway, I gave Husband the choice of tea this morning from among my three untasted JW samples, and for the second time, very surprisingly him being Cornflakes-Man and all, did not choose the LS. He picked this one, of which we used all the leaf for a large pot. And then spilled some, but there should still be enough in the pot that we can get a decent resteep.
This has a very malty aroma and it also reminds a little of honey. I’m not getting any cocoa from it, but there is something that I can’t quite put my finger on and it’s sort of in the same family as cocoa, smell-wise. (No, it’s not chocolate) It’s quite faint though, so I’m not deeming it super-important to decipher it at this point. Underneath all this there is a lot of grain and wood, so it smells like a good strong tea here. At first glance a good choice for the first tea of the morning.
Oooh, it may not smell entirely like cocoa, but it definitely has cocoa notes in the flavour. Not a lot of it, but just at the very beginning of the very first sip, there it was. It was followed with something that struck me as ever so slightly tart, ever so slightly wine-y. Interesting! That’s not a flavour I’m used to finding in tea at all.
The more I sip, the more the wine-y note seems to stand out. It’s in the realm of a slightly spicy wine here, perhaps even a tiny little bit mulled? I’m not getting too much of the grain and wood body I noticed in the aroma, although there those were fairly strong notes. I enjoy a good deal of grain in my Chinese black, so I’m missing it a little, but not to the point where it really bothers me.
This tea is very different from the Chinese black teas I’ve usually had, even the Yunnan teas I’ve usually had. It has a really interesting flavour and it’s very much worth a visit. Had I not been under certain ordering constraints (in general, but in particular with this brand) I think I could easily drink a tin of this.
It reminds me a little of the very first time I had the fabled Tan Yang Te Ji from TeaSpring. I honestly didn’t know what to make of it. I wasn’t even certain whether or not I liked it. And then gradually I discovered that I did like it. I really did. I really really did! It has remained my favourite ever black in the world since then and although a few teas have come close, none have yet managed to push it off that pedestal. With enough exposure to it, this Dian Hong has the potential of growing on me in the same way. Perhaps not quite to the epic pinnacles of the TYTJ, but close.
Queued post, written April 16th 2014
Part of my Bad Dog! order, the primary tin of which is still unopened. ETA May 17th, of course it has been opened at this point. It was the Keemun congfu in case anybody’s curious. I have finally set a date for opening it, though. Monday, because it’s my birthday and it seems a good time to have coveted tea for the first time.
This one is one I got a sample of, and the dry leaf has a lot of that raisin aroma that I always appreciate in an Assam. I can greatly enjoy a non-raisin-y one, but I do prefer them to be raisin-y, so that’s a good sign right there. After steeping it’s still mildly raisin-y, and even the flavour has an alround raisin-y touch to it.
The peculiar thing is that on their own I don’t actually care much for raisins. In musli or in baking or what have you, they’re good, but I would never eat a handful of raisins just for the raisins. So it’s a bit of a mystery to me why they make me so happy in Assams.
Anyway, apart from the raisins, it’s rather a strong tea but it’s not too astringent. It’s a really thick and slightly sticky flavour with a fairly long aftertaste and very suitable for this morning. It has even eased my ‘I-slept-too-long-this-morning-headache’ a bit. Husband commented that he thought it was good as well, and it always says quite a lot when he does that, because it means he’s paid some attention to what he was drinking. He doesn’t usually if I haven’t told him I’ll be asking his opinion, so if a tea can grab his attention on its own it’s either really good or really weird. :p
Shame it was so difficult to procure.
This one came in the vast amounts of samples that MissB shared with me in order to take advantage of already paid for shipping weight when she supplied me with some Sleepytime Vanilla. I gave Husband a choice of two different samples and he chose this one that neither of us knew what was. I don’t speak any French and I think he’s got a little, but it didn’t suffice to translate the name of the blend further than ‘blend of dot-dot-dot’.
Turns out it’s a chai-ish thing with cardamom, cinnamon and cocoa. Probably not super-suitable for this part of the day then. Oh nevermind.
Chai and chai-ish blends are my one concession to the principle that any tea that requires additives in order to shine is not a good tea, because slightly milked is part of the very definition of chai, and so this is how we had it.
To me it tasted mostly like cardamom and with a cardboard-y Assam-y aftertaste. I couldn’t really pick up any cinnamon at all. The cocoa was also evident but in a funny way seemed to attach itself more to the milk than anything else. It felt like a cardamom blend with slightly cocoa-y milk added to it. I would not have thought that it was even possible to have such an experience, but apparently it is.
I thought it was quite nice. A chai light, nearly, since it didn’t have the large selection of spice in it that most chais have. I believe this is part of why it’s difficult for me to be interested in chai. There is too much going on and it sometimes testes like something that should be in food rather than drink. The fact that this had just a couple made it easier for me to fully enjoy it.
Husband is also not super-keen on chai in general, but he reported that he thought this one was very delicious and seemed to be a little disappointed that we only had a sample. He couldn’t put his finger on exactly why this one appealed to him so much though.
I’m thinking it should be worth a try to add a few cardamom pods (we always have some of those) next time I’m steeping an Assam for him and see how he takes to that.
Queued post, written April 9th 2014
This one came out of the EU Travelling Teabox round 2.
It smells wonderfully of cocoa, but not really chocolate unless you consider that really high cocoa content chocolate which is so dry as to be almost inedible. I had an 98% one once. It was good for baking, but I tried eating a small piece and it was like a spoonful of cocoa powder. Just because it contains just enough cocoa butter to make it form into a chocolate shape doesn’t make it chocolate, I learned. It can’t have sold well, because I’ve never seen it again since. Anyway, that’s what this smells like. I’m not picking up anything at all in the citrus family or from the base, but I believe it’s simply the very strong cocoa covering it up.
Flavourwise… My mouth is not happy. It’s not outright nasty, but my mouth is definitely not happy.
It doesn’t taste like chocolate and it doesn’t really taste like orange. It just nearly tastes like these two things, but that’s not the same thing at all. As it cools the chocolate bit becomes a little more like chocolate but the orange bit becomes simultanously a little less like orange.
No, my mouth is not happy at all.
Queued post, written April 9th 2014
Perhaps I’m a little bad, taking things out of a travelling teabox that I’ve already tried before, but I did it anyway. This one was from the EU TTB round 2, and I stole it. I feel no shame.
Now the first time I had it I thought that it was good, but not quite on par with the hype surrounding the blend at the time. This hype has died down in recent time, so that the blend has now reached a sort of legendary status and is drawn out on occasion to bask in the glory of it. That’s the sort of vibe I get from people who occasionally post about it.
It smells lovely. It’s quite wood-y and a bit malty. I’m also finding a note of grain down there, which is strong, but not at the forefront. There’s a hint of cocoa, but not very much. I can’t remember what goes into this at all, but I suspect something to do with Keemun and Assam.
Flavourwise, I think I get it now. I think I get the hype. This is a strong tea and it’s very heavy on the Assam. I think I tried it the first time during a period of not much Assam appreciation (Assampreciation, hur hur!) and that put me off. This is very Assam-y, complete with smidge of cardboard and touch of raisin. There is also something in there that gives off a grainy note and a little bit of a smoky one as well. It brings me back to my earlier thought of something to do with Assam and Keemun, but I don’t think that all there is to it. There’s an almost toasty flavour as well and something that makes me think ‘Keemun, but stronger’. Perhaps there’s some low-grown Ceylon in there as well. I had one which, when brewed just so, gave me that same ‘Keemun, but stronger’ impression. Which is pretty good going, because in my opinion Keemun is a pretty strong tea all by itself. I’m a little uncertain here if this means I think there’s a low-grown Ceylon in combination with Keemun or if it’s only the Ceylon masquerading as Keemun. Either way there are those grain-y notes and a wee bit of almost-smoke on the swallow, so much definitely be in that territory.
Have you noticed, Steepsterites, that as soon as I sit down to write about a black blend I seem incapable of describing what it tastes like and almost invariably end up trying to decipher what it’s made of instead? Curious! It’s a bit like a puzzle. Having looked up the solution I find that it’s actually neither Assam nor Ceylon at all, but a pure Chinese blend. Three teas have gone into it, and I feel absolutely certain at this point that one of them must be a Keemun. I’m uncertain about the two others, though. Perhaps a not-too-hay-y Yunnan? The third one eludes me.
I just went back and re-read my first post about this blend from three years ago. Ah, yes! That was the time the on-off switch had broken off the old kettle, rendering it useless and making tea required boiling water in a saucepan on the hob! I remember that, it was ever so impractical. (Quite funny in hindsight, though) I don’t know if it was the fact that I didn’t have to bother with saucepans this time or whether my standard brewing methods have evolved a bit or perhaps my own preferences have, but I definitely had a vastly different experience with this blend this time. I mentioned it reminded me of Kusmi’s Samovar blend back then, though. I’d quite forgotten that one! If I were allowed to buy anything at all at the moment (which I’m not, I’ve got a To Try Box to empty!) I would go and see if I could find that one again. Ooooh yes, that was the one I bought when we were on a weekend trip to Paris, visiting friends who lived there for a year. That was the time I planned to ask them if we could make a stop in Mariage Freres while there and then only remembered it when on the plane home, stupid girl. (I later learned that M also had that same sort of vague plan while they lived there, but never got around to it and only realised that she had passed the chance after they had come home to Denmark. She’s not a tea-drinker quite on the average Steepster-level but she does have a mild sort of on-off curiosity about it. Oh well, these things happen.)
I enjoyed this tea very much this time around and I’m nudging my original rating upwards. It was 82 previously.