1282 Tasting Notes
I have sent the birthday boy off to a whisky related event with a crisp banknote and instructions to ‘buy himself something pretty. Or something wet if he prefers’. Meanwhile I’m celebrating his birthday in absentia at home with some more the Jin Jun Mei that Spoonvonstrup sent me, while laying wicked, wicked plans for an attempt at lemon surprise pudding. (If I can pull that off, I’m going to earn myself soooo many gold stars! :D) I may have to get a little creative with available crockery, but how hard can it be?
Now. This JJM is also one that doesn’t have a brand as such on it, but like the previous one, it came out of a red foil wrapper. Different from the last red foil wrapper though. Let’s just quickly, for comparison purposes, sum up what I concluded on the first one. It had a rather grainy sort of flavour and a late-comer note of smoke. Not much in the way of fruity sweetness I otherwise associate with LS, so it was a different experience than LS. In a whole other box in my brain. So this is what I’m expecting out of this one too.
The aroma is definitely grainy, but also remarkably malty-sweet. I didn’t remember that maltiness from the first JJM. Was it there? I don’t think it was. This note is so big that it would have been impossible not to notice. Again, however, there isn’t much in the way of smoke on the aroma.
The flavour is much the same as the first JJM I tried, although this one appears to just be larger somehow. It also has the smoke note showing up a lot sooner than the first one, almost at the very beginning of the sip. At first there is the grain, not as malty-sweet as the aroma, but there is definitely some of that in it, and then the touch of smoke hits. It sort of arrives in a pointed arrow-like shape and unfolds over the rest of the flavour. (Here we go with my cross-wired brain again!) Bright white against brown.
The first one had a bit of astringency to it, which the boyfriend told me was right on his border for astringency tolerance. After which he told me that a couple of the other blacks I sometimes serve have a little too much astringency for his tastes too. Apparently there is a huge difference between working this out for himself and telling me which ones it is he doesn’t care for, so that I don’t give them to him in the future. But I shouldn’t talk really. It took me a very long time indeed to drum up the courage to tell him that I don’t actually much like celery, and instead developed a technique of eating all the celery bits first, quickly without tasting them too much. Based on this and the memory of that first one, I doubt he would have enjoyed this one very much, because that too is just much larger in this sample.
I wonder if perhaps this wrapper had a lot more leaf in it than the other one did. It is a very strong cup. Perhaps even a little too strong for me. I think I liked the first one I tried better. Not because of the difference in strength only but also because this one seems a little too forceful.
And it has occurred to me that putting a rating on unknown brands is totally useless as most posts will be about different batches entirely. Therefore I have removed it and moved the amount of points into the body of the post instead.
Suddenly we now have a large chunk of this here wedding malarky sorted satisfactoraly. We had a meeting with the restaurant this morning and the battle plan for the day has taken shape. Now all we actually need is just invitations and our own outfits.
This totally calls for celebratory tea. I’m also celebrating with some chocolate cake so I chose a fruity one that might go well with it.
What I have actually ended up with, though is a rather curious blend, because it wasn’t until after I had almost poured a full cup and the contents of the pot suddenly didn’t fit, which it usually does, that I realised that I had about a third cup left from this morning. That was The du Tigres (or whatever. In this house goes by the name of Tigger Tea), also from LPdT. That one is smoky.
I think I’m about to discover what a flavoured Lapsang Souchong might be like. (Seriously, have either of you ever seen that? And I mean flavoured, not just blended into something flavoured. I would seriously like to know what that could result in)
My accidental blend of strawberry black and some cold half-day old Tigger Tea is actually surprisingly good. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve really managed to nail the strawberry on this pot. So it’s very strawberry-like and then I get some of the smoke coming in on top and near the end of the sip.
It sounds bizarre, I know, but it actually strikes me as a really interesting flavour. It makes me actually want to try and experiment a bit with smoky tea and fruit flavoured tea. Just the regular LS, though. The Jin Jun Mei that Spoonvonstrup sent me is obviously way too valuable for that sort of fooling about, and the Tigger Tea is getting a little low and the boyfriend has become very fond of it.
I have never had this before! Spoonvonstrup has begifted me with a whole little treasure trove. The whole swap got on the way because of two teas. One was the TGY from Verdant which it was deemed necessary for me to also attempt some gong-fu-ing of and this one which Spoonvonstrup thought I would be likely to enjoy. There are several different samples of JJM and most of them are brandless. I’m documenting them anyway, so that I can remember what I thought of the type later on. This one came out of a red wrapper.
Apparently, this is a type of Lapsang Souchong. I didn’t know that. Or I did, but had temporarily forgotten and was just reminded of it now. Based on that I was expecting something kinda smoky and I was surprised when the aroma showed up to be decidedly non so. It was grainy, primarily, but not really smoky at all. I found that a bit odd. I don’t think I’ve ever met an LS that didn’t smell smoky. My mind slipped to the unsmoked LS that LiberTEAs tried the other day and wondered if this was something of the same sort.
The flavour reveals that it isn’t. It’s definitely smoky now. At first when it was warmest I got a mostly grainy flavour again, sort of like the aroma and then smoke showed up as an afterthought. There is a fair bit of astringency as well, as the boyfriend pointed out and then proceeded to tell me that he thought some of my unflavoured blacks were a little too astringent for his tastes. When asked for further details he couldn’t tell me which ones they were. Apparently it’s something of a surprise that I need to know this stuff so that I can not continue to give them to him.
As I’m trying to type and drink tea around a sleepy but social cat (what do you mean make her go away??? I can’t! She’s cute!) the cup has cooled somewhat before I got very far drinking it. At this point the smoke comes out a lot more and a lot sooner in the sip. It’s quite smoky now and also somewhat grainy. The grain now merely forms a base where before it was more or less the primary note.
In LSs I like there to be a certain sweetness and fruityness to complement the smoke. That aspect is as much a requirement for the perfect LS as the smoke is. I would like to be able to say that this aspect is present in this tea. Alas, this is not the case. I’m getting a little of it out of the grainy-ness but not really to the same extent as I have come to prefer.
However, all is not lost. I don’t usually get grain-y flavours from LS in a quantity that has made me notice and remember them, and to my surprise I find that this good amount of grain in the flavour works in much the same way as that fruity sweetness. It provides a balance with the smoke, preventing the smoky note from getting too harsh and prickly. And you know, it’s quite good at it too.
Not all teas have genders, but LS is one of the few types that does. It’s male to me. I’ve always thought of it as very much towards the alpha-male end of the spectrum as well. This one is even male-r than that, somehow. If regular LS is the sort of tea that buys a motorcycle and plays rugby, then JJM is the sort of tea that travels to the moon. For fun.
Before I find myself stuck in a quagmire of gender stereotypes, I shall end the post. I really enjoyed this one. Good call, Spoonvonstrup!
Another Mystery Tea that we’ve never had before, and yet another free sample received with my massive order earlier this year. This one has apple, almonds, cinnamon and a little bit of ginger in it, and I chose something green for the Mystery Tea based on the inspiration in the wake of Genmaicha earlier today. (The boyfriend wasn’t too keen on that one, by the way)
I’m not too interested in the cinnamon aspect of this one. Cinnamon is great in food, but I’m not very fond of it in tea. And ginger… well, I don’t like ginger. As a matter of fact we got to test a theory the other day while on our outing and no, I definitely do NOT like ginger beer. I looked a bit like the red face on the Steepster rating scale. Blech!
The apple and almond, however, now those are things that sound interesting to me. On the other hand, apple and cinnamon is a pretty classic combination.
In the dry leaves I could detect apple and spices, but no almonds and not really anything in the way of the base. After steeping it’s just spices with something sort of juicy underneath that I choose to interpret as apple.
The first impression I get on the sip is the bite of ginger. sigh I could really have lived without the ginger here. It’s the very first note I get and after that it sort of hangs like a cloud over all the rest of the sip.
Second up, following immediately after the first ginger spike, there is some apple and some cinnamon in what feels like more or less equal amounts.
It’s not until the end of the sip and the aftertaste that I really feel like I’m getting some almond. It’s not a lot and it’s not something I can really say for certain is almond. It’s more sort of the way my mouth feels after I’ve eaten them.
The green tea itself feels a little drowned out here. I couldn’t tell you anything about it if I tried.
I kind of like the idea of this blend, actually, with some reservations regarding the spices. I like the idea of the apples and almonds in a green tea together and I would really have liked to have tried that out without the cinnamon and especially without the ginger. As it is it’s rather too ginger-y for me.
Aha! This one came from Wombatgirl (who hasn’t been around here lately, what’s up with that?) and I know this because I have posted about it before.
I went and asked He Who Was Foolish Enough To Propose how traditional he was feeling this morning, tea-wise. He looked at me funny and asked me if I was planning something crazy, to which I could only reply yes. I would have preferred to take him by surprise, but he made me tell him what the crazy was before he would give me an answer. Where’s his sense of adventure?
Anyway, the crazy was brought on by a flash of inspiration caused by the first post I saw this morning being from Dylan Oxford who was enjoying his favourite genmaicha. This was shortly after I had breakfast and aforementioned male occupant of the household hadn’t got up yet.
It gave me that cereal association that I sometimes used to get with genmaicha. I used to rather like that stuff. I used to think of it as breakfast-y because of that cereal association. I knew I had some lying around, ancient stuff and not stored very well for its age.
The first time I had this I said that it was all rice and not so much leaf. Actually I don’t know if it’s the ever on-going practise that has changed my mind or if it has just deteriorated a bit due to age and haphazard storage.
The flavour is very rice-y and starchy with a touch of salt, but underneath that I can definitely pick out some green tea. There’s a strong note of something vegetal and relatively darkish. It doesn’t quite have that vibrant dark green hue that I get from Sencha but it’s leaning towards that side of the spectrum. It’s like, I know there is that colour in my head, but somebody dimmed the lights so I can’t quite see it.
This makes me want to get back into green teas that aren’t flavoured with something else. That, Steepsterites, is HUGE! I’m a black tea drinker all the way, but right now? This stuff is inspiring.
First, YES! New icon. Same little ol’ Ang.
Second, another Mystery Tea, meaning something we’ve never tried before.
Third, I thought an oolong would be fairly certain to be something well-known and familiar. I hadn’t noticed that it was scented until after I had poured the leaves into the pot. It was a free sample I had received with my LPdT order.
It has cinnamon flower pollen and orchid pistils. Does cinnamon flower pollen taste like cinnamon? And what are pistils? These are rather more technical things than I can be bothered with right now, so let’s just simplify it a bit, shall we? It’s scented with flower bits.
Not surprisingly the aroma is quite floral, and it does actually have a fair bit of cinnamon notes in it. I can also detect the base oolong underneath, with something smooth and sort of thick smelling. This one is 50-60% fermented, so it would probably have been quite floral on the aroma even if it hadn’t been scented, so I can’t actually tell how much is natural and how much is due to the scenting process.
The flavour is surprisingly toasty and ever so very slightly astringent. It’s funny because I thought it rather smelled like something that should be smooth and slippery. It doesn’t actually taste at all like it smells. Yeah, the cinnamon notes are there in the flavour as well as the aroma and so is the floral aspect, but other than that, the feel of it in the mouth is completely different from what the aroma led me to expect.
I find this rather confusing to be honest.
The scenting seems to be rather mild. I can detect, as mentioned, something vaguely cinnamon-y but other than that I can’t tell how much of a difference scenting with anything at all has made to the base tea. This tastes very natural, so unless the base tea was really almost flavourless to begin with, scenting strikes me as rather a waste of time and money. I’m fairly certain it would be possible to find an oolong which naturally tastes something along the lines of this. Rou Gui, for example, springs to mind.
It’s pleasant enough, I suppose, but not one I would purchase.
I have decided that today is the day for Mystery Tea. That means simply tea we haven’t had before. So I’ve been looking at the very tail-end of my Steepster cupboard and discovered a couple of things I didn’t know I had.
This one for example. Would you believe I’ve been going around for ages being intrigued by this type and wondering if it was one I should try to invest in when next I can allow myself an order, and I had it the whole time?!
That’s fairly typical of me, actually.14444444444444444 Oh look a cat has been by in my absence… (Heavily abridged by cat’s owner so as to avoid horizontal scrollbars)
Anyway, this is one of the samples that I don’t know where came from. It’s from before I started my numbering system so it’s getting on in age a bit.
Let’s start with a little introductory ramble on two things here.
First of all, green tea. For me to be intrigued by a green tea at all is kind of remarkable. I enjoy it when it is served to me, but I rarely make it for myself. It has to come with a certain sort of mood, because for most of the time I’d rather have a black tea, flavoured or au naturel.
Which leads to the second things, which is roasting. Roasting tea is one of those things about the processing that I just can’t get my head around. It’s so amazing that it can be done, really, because inside my head it just ought not logically work. My brain will simply not allow for the possibility for some reason, even though I’ve got the very proof of it right here in front of me. (Well. Slightly to the left, but still)
Therefore roasted tea is extremely fascinating to me, although I haven’t yet had enough experience with it yet to be actively seeking it out.
LiberTEAS posted about an unsmoked LS yesterday, I think it was, and that tea was as I understand made like a regular LS only it had been roasted instead of smoked. She found that more pleasant than the regular smoked variety and therein stems some of my fascination.
Now, I like smoky teas. I have a specific balance of smokiness that I prefer, but once in a while it just can’t get smoky enough. Those are the times when, it has occurred to me, it’s not smoky tea I want. It’s roasted tea. From what I have seen here and there on Steepster when people have been posting about smoked teas and/or roasted teas, that smoked tea is generally considered a harsher sort of flavour than roasted tea. For me it’s the other way around.
Smoke comes in a bit prickly and sort of surrounds the flavour in a haze of smoky aroma, whereas roasting tends to be a full-on attack of the tastebuds with pricklyness and charcoal and burnt toast. Roasted tea, for me, is much more violent than smoky tea.
So this is really what I’m expecting. An onslaught of charcoal and some sweetly green vegetation underneath. Like something that has been burnt down and grass and things are just starting to grow back.
This tea brews as dark as any black tea and the aroma is definitely one of burnt stuff. Charcoal and something sweet. Like sugar spilled on a hot plate. So far we’re keeping pretty close to that expectation, there, aren’t we? I quite like this aroma. The more I smell it, the more pleasant I think it is, and the more I smell it the more I also think there’s a note of honey in that sweetness. It’s all dark smelling and brown, but it definitely reminds me a little of liquid honey. Or perhaps more of something which has been honey-glazed.
GOSH! I was not expecting this flavour! It so sweet and sugary and more honey! That’s the first thing I get. The next thing is a sort of cereal-ness. It makes me think of Cheerios. It’s the combination of the grainy notes and honey notes that does it. I can actually even imagine that I can taste milk as well, probably since, if you think about it, milk has a pretty sweet flavour as well. Finally there is something vegetal in it that reveals the green origins. I can’t quite put my finger on that note, but I get a random association to spinach. There that’s because I actually taste spinach in it or whether it’s because spinach is one of the things I just generally connect with green tea flavours, I couldn’t tell.
All in all, this roasting was not at all as harsh as I had expected. I found it quite enjoyable, and I think it’s definitely a type of tea that I need to look into more. I think I rather need this in my life. (Should have a closer look at hojicha as well, actually.)
Inspired by Indigobloom who enjoyed a Tanzanian black the other day, I decided to start the day with a cup of my own. As I mentioned in my comment to Indigobloom, tasting this one for the first time was a sort of ‘hey this is strong, no wait, this is lovely!’ experience. It’s so honey-sweet! With this particular pot, I have somehow really managed to hit that point where nice turns into lovely. I remember the first time I ordered it, half for work and half for home because the boss was uncertain about whether she would enjoy it. It’s not possible to get less than 100g from ACP’s webshop, so no samples.
This particular cup comes from when I bought another portion of it for home and that’s nearly gone as well. Although I am quite enjoying it, I’m not sure if I’ll buy it one more time (when, after July, I may) though. Maybe I’ll give that one a little break and use the space to try out something else. I have my sights on a Nothing But Tea order when that time comes, I believe. And Teavivre, I think. Although… with tax, customs and import fees being a constant threat on anything coming in from outside the EU, that’s a bit uncertain. It depends on how large an order I want to make. For smaller orders, it’s just not worth taking the risk these days.
Very uncharacteristically I felt inspired for a rooibos tonight. It’s been a while since the last one, but some of you may recall my utter shock and surprise when Cteresa shared a rooibos with me that I found really pleasant. In spite of the fact that, by itself, I don’t like rooibos. Enjoying the one that Cteresa sent me so much was really one of those Earth-shaking experiences, and it made the boyfriend suggest that I could try some of the ones that he had brought with him when we moved in together.
I tried one or two and it wasn’t really a huge success. I discovered that it’s entirely possible that not only does it have to be flavoured with something in order to be drinkable to me, but it has to be flavoured with something sweet too. The lemon-y one that he really enjoys didn’t really do the trick for me. There is both a caramel and a vanilla one in stock and I’m sure I’ve tried one of them with modest success, but I can’t remember which one. I don’t appear to have posted about it either.
So I knew it would have to be one of these two and let the boyfriend decide for me. He picked vanilla, which suited me fine. What with my persistent vanilla phase and all. Come to think of it, the one Cteresa shared with me was something vanilla-y as well. I can’t remember what else it had, it was some kind of fruit. But definitely vanilla, which makes me both hopeful and concerned about trying this one.
Please don’t let the perfect vanilla tea be a rooibos. I’m not sure I could bear that.
It smells strongly of both rooibos and vanilla at the same time. The vanilla here is sweet and all creamy so that the aroma leaves an impression of a sort of slightly spiced custard.
The flavour is pretty nice as well, actually. It’s… still rooibos-y and I could probably live with it being a little less so and a little more strongly flavoured, but the vanilla is coming through clearly and very sweetly. I do like the one Cteresa shared with me better, though, with its fruity aspect as well. I’m sort of missing that a little here, even though I can’t even remember what sort of fruit it was. Completely drawing a blank on that one and I can’t, frankly, be bothered to look it up right now. It’s late.
Yeah, this is quite nice. But I am sort of relieved that the quest for the perfect vanilla doesn’t stop here.
You know what’s weird? How I generally enjoy a cup brewed Western style more than several cup brewed Gong Fu, and yet with certain sorts of tea, I have taken to thinking in terms of Gong Fu when it comes to writing about them on Steepster. It’s a weird situation where it’s more fun to brew this way, but I prefer the result of the other way. As Dr Right was interested in having some too and I didn’t really want to skip every other steep when writing about it, I ended up in an even weirder situation where I made the same tea in two different pots in two different ways at the same time.
This one was shared with me a while ago by Ssajami. The last time I had a tea of this type I felt it was like drinking a liquid courgette, so I was curious to see if that was something unique to that one or if I could reproduce something similar in others of the same type. Up until very recently I associated this type of tea primarily with walnuts, so I don’t know where all these gourds has suddenly come from.
1. The aroma is very floral and there something almost syrup-y sweet lurking underneath the surface of it too. That floralness, though, that’s almost too much for me. It’s like a flower shop. Too much. Too strong. Almost sickening. It reminds me of a bouquet of flowers I got once where I had to air out the living room really well because they were so strong that they were stinking up the place.
It develops really really quickly though, and before I’ve even got so far as to take a sip it has already turned away from the extreme floralness and into something which reminds me most of all of gherkins. It’s even slightly dill-y. Now, I really enjoy gherkins, but tea is not something I particularly wish to find the association to them in.
It does, however, solve the mystery of how someone got the thought of flavouring tea with cucumber. I have actually tried a cucumber flavoured white tea once. It was vile.
The flavour is still quite floral, really, but the floralness mainly shows up in the aftertaste. The first bit of the sip is something smooth and slippery and very wet. You know how something which has an astringent note can taste dry? Well, this is definitely not astringent, but it’s not really the normal smoothness of non-astringency either. It just feels wetter than usual. It’s really the only way I can describe it. I know it sounds ridiculous. It’s not giving me anything in way of an actual flavour though, not until the floral bits set in. It’s just warm water, which is wet and then it’s floral.
2. The aroma this time is still very floral but less intensely so. There doesn’t seem to be any gherkins or anything of that family around this time. There is a fair bit of dill after it has developed a bit, but it doesn’t have those other details that makes me think of pickled cucurbitaceae of any sort.
The flavour is all floralness all the way. Rather too much so for me, and I feel like I’m drinking perfume. With a touch of dill in it.
Dill perfume… I… erm, no. I find myself bizarrely wanting the gherkins back. Let’s just skip straight ahead here.
3. Still floral on the aroma and still dill-y. I’m getting rather tired of these as none of them are smells that I particularly enjoy.
The flavour is exactly the same as the second round, so I’m just going to skip it.
4. No it’s still the same as before. I’m officially throwing in the (tea)towel.
For comparison, I snuck into Dr. Right’s room and sipped a bit of his western style brewed cup. He laughed heartily at how that too reminded me of gherkins in the aroma. The flavour wasn’t much though. It was somehow less intense than I had expected and impossible for me to really decipher. It had the same ‘wetness’ to it though.
For all his laughing he eventually admitted that he could kind of see where I was coming from with those gherkins.
ETA: Oh and additionally, I made myself a teatra.de account yesterday, so feel free to look me up if you like. I’m Angrboda there also and use the same icon, so I shouldn’t be difficult to find. I have no idea what to do with it though; it was a whim.