1112 Tasting Notes
Steepsterites, I have been neglecting you. What with kittens and a hilarious new computer game that I have, I just haven’t been around to do more than skim the recent posts page (I hardly ever bother with the dashboard except for notices these days), I just haven’t been paying attention to actually bringing something back to the group. Posting. This, I shall hereby remedy.
Also, mostly I’ve been drinking oldies-and-well-knownies in the effort to free up some tins so I can open more of my Shang order.
This one, however, is from the Basket. On mornings when we’re both not going to work (ah holiday!) we have a budding new habit of me making a large pot of something and sharing. Since one of us is more narrow minded (to be taken with all the symptoms of friendly teasing) when it comes to tea I typically let him choose something. Typically, he says ‘something black’, and I know him well enough to know that by ‘something black’ he means exactly that. Not ‘something black with bizarre flavouring’. I have of yet still been unable to glean a definition of ‘bizarre flavouring’. I think it depends on the time of day because at other times, he doesn’t turn down something flavoured.
I actually demoted my black currant from the Standard Panel because he liked the blackberry flavoured one much better and I had no strong preference over one or the other so long as something was berry flavoured.
But I digress.
This cup was the tea of the morning today. As I mentioned, it came out of the basket, and based on Jillian’s earlier review saying she got it out of the TTB, I can for once determine that it came to me via Pamela Dax Dean and her Great Big Box of Tea.
The aroma is not very strong or forceful, but it’s very pleasant. It’s quite honeyed and sweet, and malty but not super-malty. It’s quiet and reserved. Like a queen, it bears itself with dignity.
It’s very light in flavour, very unlike other Assams and apparently this has to do with the flush. Standard Assams being second flush and this being first. It’s extemely delicate and flighty, but the flavour profile that one associates with Assams is still there. Malty, slightly astringent and with a funny sort of cardboard-y flavour (which I do not mean in a bad way. That’s just what it reminded the person who used it first of, and I find I agree. Probably because that note is such a very grey colour to me). It’s all there. It’s just somewhat muted.
This is not really a tea that says, “come and look at me, I’m magnificent!”
It’s more a tea that says, “come and look at my potential, see what I can become when you pick my second flush!”
A demo of teas. You get the right idea but not all the features.
And yet, I quite like it. Possibly because I tend not to be too impressed with Assams to begin with. They’re so easy to wreck, so finicky compared to my preferred Chinese blacks. I think I like this, because it’s a different Assam.
Another tin emptied. This is the second steep actually, and since I’m feeling a little cranky and non-social at present, my brain decided that sweets were needed. Which then led to the thought that this might be quite nice with a little liquid honey in it. Make it sort of a lemon curd flavoured tea instead.
Alas, we have no liquid honey, or any other sorts of honey in the house. Instead of then using a little cane sugar like a normal person, Muggins here decided to give maple syrup a try instead.
Well, Muggins here should not be allowed to start inventing while preparing tea. It’s not working. Not one bit. Oh it’s perfectly drinkable, but the lemon flavour is completely broken and the whole thing has turned into something fairly generic and boring tasting.
Who could have thought one teaspoon of maple syrup could have such a large effect?
Even worse, it has made me want pancakes. Maybe I’ll get some batter mix one of these days and see if the boyfriend wants to share with me. We are on holiday, after all.
Fantalicious and awesometastic. That’s this tea in a nutshell, really.
A short while ago I alluded to having been exposed to some really awesome customer service and I’ve been sitting on that story until I actually had some tea from the company in question. See, here’s the thing. I have been priviledged enough to have Steepster friends who have shared with me samples of Shang Tea’s products. Each and every one I’ve tried have impressed me. (This may have something to do with their teas being Fujian teas, which have I ever mentioned is my favourite tea producing area?) Anyway, it was only natural that I should go and look up their website, just on the off chance that shipping to Europe wouldn’t be horrible. There was a mention of a flat rate which sounded cool, but not about which area that covered.
So I sent them an email, asking about it and what it would cost to ship something to Denmark. Unfortunately their reply said something in the vicinity of $40… I coughed, hacked and resigned myself to the fact that I would have to use kindly disposed Steepsterites as middle men if I were to buy any of their stuff. This is the reason I have a tendency to not bother looking up American companies before automatically assuming them out of my reach. $40 was on the high end yes, but in general American companies who can ship at a for me reasonable shipping fee are few and far between. No tea is good enough for me to want to pay more than $15 for shipping as the very most.
Time passed. I got over it. I forgot about it. Then one morning I woke up to an email from Shang Tea saying ‘o hai, in response to your previous question two months ago, we looked into it and can now offer you shipping at around $13 dollars to Denmark. Would you like to buy some tea? Email order, paypal money and so on and so forth.’ Or something to that effect.
That was quite a shipping fee difference! And just the fact that they answered my question and still proceeded, without my begging or prompting or wheedling or anything, to see if they couldn’t do me one better. I’m very impressed with this, and I’m going to come back for more if they will let me shop that way again. (The order form on their site wouldn’t accept a non-American address).
I picked up the package yesterday from the post office and have tinned two of them this morning. There are still two other pouches in there that I’m not allowed to open until I’ve freed up tins, but I can deal with that.
And that is how I came to share a pot of Golden Needle King with the boyfriend this morning. Isn’t this just a wonderful tea? It’s all smooth and slippery and dark in flavour. It’s almost ever so slightly milky. Lots and lots of that Fujian-ness that makes it my favourite area. Grainy with dark fruity and spicy notes to it. Lots of cocoa notes as well and a caramel-like aftertaste.
Steepsterites, go try this one out for yourselves. I implore you. It’s pricy, but you will NOT regret it. And on the off-chance that you do, feel free to punish me for leading you astray by making me use up the rest of your leaves. :)
A decupboarding. Actually it’s a really hard decupboarding because I’ve used about twice the leaf I’d usually use and shortened the steep considerably in order to fit. Thing is, I need the tin.
I’ve just received a Shang Tea order today, you see, and I don’t have a single tin larger than the Adagio 25g sample tins not in use at the moment. The boyfriend pointed this out and also said something about when we (read: I) might need another tea shelf put up. So I’ve made a new rule about tea acquisitions.
I am not allowed to open a new tea until I have a tin to put it in. Samples excepted of course. So that leaves me with four new Shang Teas, Awesomeness Guaranteed, that I’m not allowed to have just yet.
So I’ve been shaking tins to find the ones with less leaf in them, and have managed to liberate a tin by using the last of this one in one go. Rather surprisingly it yielded a rather good cup.
It’s actually quite a funny tea this. I’ve both really really loved it, the first time I bought it, and found it extremely disappointing, worth only 43 points the second time I bought it. These leaves are the rest of the second go, and I don’t think I’m likely to make a repurchase.
I will however adjust the rating upwards again, because it doesn’t seem as offensive, but still not awesome, in this brewing. There is a fruity sweet raisin-y, kind of honey-ish aroma to it, and TeaSpring says it has Keemun-like qualities. Maybe it is slightly grainy with floral overtone as well, but it’s not super-obvious.
That Keemun-ness is coming through a little more in the flavour, but it’s still not something I would have found if they had not mentioned it. It’s quite floral and some grainy notes in the body of the tea. Also a sweet honey note that makes the whole thing remind me of the Cheerios I had for breakfast.
It goes quite well with bread and brie, I’ve just discovered to my surprise.
(The Kitten Grand Prix is tearing through the house at the moment. It sounds like it’s raining rubber erasers in here)
GOSH! This stuff coldbrewed? Awesometastic, I swear! Wow. It’s all tropical and sweet and with a ton of papaya and pineapple coming through. Unlike the white dream tea from the same company, this one totally wins by being cold brewed. And it was pretty tasty to begin with. I might be considering wether the Standard Panel should contain some seasonal standards as well.
I had this at 93 points before so it was already pretty high up, but this cold brewing turned out so awesome that I’m adjusting it further upwards.
I’m probably going to be a little scarce for a couple of days. Two new kittens, sisters Charm and Luna age 13 weeks, in the house (yay kitties) that we just brought home yesterday. They are so sweet and exploring the house and very distracting from serious business things such as tea. My room is being investigated… wait, now they left. They are so cute I could just explode!
QuiltGuppy is a right little treasure and I hearts her dearly. Look what she sent me! Look what she went out of her way to get for me!!! Just… just LOOK!!
I’ve been out of this for so long, but having to economise a bit with how many orders I put out in one go and all that rot, so the TeaSpring order had been temporarily postponed. And here it is again!
Oh joy, oh rapture!
I can’t wait to actually make me a cup of this, but I’m afraid it’ll have to wait just a little while longer. I’m not finished cuddling the pouch yet.
On a scale from one to ten, QG is awesome twelve and a half, and if you were here right now I would treat you to a cup.
I think this one was received in a swap with Wombatgirl ages and ages ago, since she’s the only other person to have posted about it. I’m sharing it with the boyfriend this evening as he requested ‘something I haven’t tried before’.
I haven’t tried it before either, so I may have just given him a cup of ewww…
It’s also rather later than I thought it would be, so I think I’ll relocate to the bed to read while drinking my tea, so I’ll make this short.
Aroma is as it should be. Sort of thick and cow stable-y. Little bit of sweetness to it, little bit of cat breath and a little bit of something floral.
The flavour is a little bland and watery, though. It’s got a clear honey note though. Very sweet and not super-stable-y.
it’s relatively good, apart from being thin, but not really very interesting. This one would probably have benefited from a longer steep. The leaves have not been discarded yet, so I might try that tomorrow.
I so hit the magic spot on this one today. I wish I knew what that tiny difference that gave this result was because, cor! This cup is positively bursting with sweetness, and the smoke is just surrounding it like awesome tasting wrapping paper.
This one was next in the cold brew experiment. It worked out relatively well. The bananas are coming out a whole lot when brewed cold, and I’m not entirely certain that this works to the tea’s advantage. I don’t think there will be more than one pitcher of this. While it is more refreshing this way, it just appeals to me more when it’s hot.
And while I have your attention anyway, Steepsterites, may I draw your attention to this picture? The Tea Corner has been shelved. Er… I mean, there are shelves in the Tea Corner.
Yes, that’s the Bits’n’Bops Basket on the table there. I’m sure you can understand why it’s currently difficult for me to remember where it all came from although it was very nice of the people who contributed to filling it. A blanket thank you to all those who were or have been previously involved.
Recently I had the great fortune to get back in contact with Auggy. Some of you may remember her, she used Steepster a while ago, but stopped using it due to various reasons which are not relevant. We share so many opinions on what is good, awesome and not-so-good that we decided that surely we must be taste-twins. I trust her judgement on Things Ang Might Like implicitly. She has never let me down. Receiving samples of her is always a promise of awesometastic flavour experiences. As such we had exchanged a few packages before she left Steepster, so when I happened across a tea that I thought I should share with her, I already had her address and so send her a package of assorted goodies. Turns out she too had found a tea that she felt like sharing and my package provided her with my new address. Two minds, one thought.
This would be the one that prompted her to think of me. One of the many tea loves we share is for the Tan Yang Te Ji (♥) from TeaSpring, and this tea reminded her of that tea. Well, it’s Fujian Province, thinks I. What could possibly go wrong then?
I’ve had it before actually. TeaSpring’s, not TeaCuppa’s, but the same tea, and I remember having the same thoughts about it that Auggy wrote to me. Smoother and slightly milder. I even went and looked it up, and I found that I had made noises about making it a Standard Panel tea. And then I forgot all about it apparently. (I’m also coincidentally awaiting a Bai Lin Gong Fu from Shang Tea, as a matter of fact, but the splendid customer service from that company is a different story which I will tell you the next time I have one of their teas.)
The aroma of this cup is very sweet and caramel-y, with something sort of grainy and slightly fruity underneath. It’s one of those cups where, if I didn’t know it wasn’t flavoured, I would think it probably was.
Tastewise, I’m getting a lot of the familiar Fujian-ness, and the comparison to the Tan Yang is definitely very easy to make. I’m not sure I would be able to pick them apart in a blind tasting, but now that I know what I’ve got, I feel I can find some subtle differences.
It’s softer and milder, definitely. It’s not a get-up-and-go tea, it’s more suitable for later in the day. Coming home, for example, and needing something relaxing and calming. It’s not an invigorating tea, it’s a phew-what-a-day-tea.
So, softer and milder. It’s almost as sweet as the aroma suggested, but without that same flavoured quality to it. It’s a more natural sweetness and it has a fruity touch to it, something leaning vaguely in the direction of oranges or mandarins. Underneath that, a grainy body, firm and dark, but friendly once you get closer. Finally a floral top note to round it all off in a neat, yet complex package.
Once again, Auggy has struck gold with this one. I would probably go so far as to say that the standard collection could contain either Tan Yang or Bai Lin. But I would still prefer it to be Tan Yang.