1323 Tasting Notes
Yesterday we went to a group meal with a lot of the boyfriend’s colleagues and respective spouses. There was an offer for after dinner coffee or tea, so I said ‘tea, please’ and was given hot water in a small pot with a lid, straight from the cooker, and a choice of three kinds of bags.
And then I kind of wished I hadn’t said anything and stuck to cola.
Choice number one: Ginger flavoured. I don’t like ginger. I definitely don’t like ginger with no additional flavouring to soften it up a bit.
Choice number two: Some sort of fruity herbal blend containing the Evil Hibiscus. I don’t like hibiscus. I do NOT like hibiscus. It tastes like blood.
Choice number three: This one, which is a chai. I don’t much care for the spicy blends, and apart from not liking ginger, cinnamon is also one of the things I don’t like much in my tea.
I decided this was the lesser evil though, and as it turns out it was fine under the circumstances. I would never buy it for myself. I would never choose it out of a (better) selection. But for an evening where I’m not really paying attention to what I’m drinking apart from the fact that it was tea, it was acceptable. And not nearly as big a dislike as the other two.
It wasn’t actually overly spicy and the cinnamon element, probably because it was in combination with the other ingredients, were more sweet-ish than what I have otherwise encountered, which is what I think was my rescue.
I imagine somebody who is fond of chai might appreciate it.
I only drank one cup though.
I never actually posted about this! I shall immediately see to fix this oversight.
Now, this one I bought because of the whole explore flavoured roiboos phase. The thing is, for the longest time I didn’t think I liked the stuff at all. And I didn’t. Not plain anyway. But then I discovered that when flavoured it can actually be really quite nice. So I was exploring the selection that the boyfriend brought when we moved in here and found out that that first one wasn’t actually a fluke as I had suspected it might be.
Fruity flavoured rooibos is quite nice actually! So then it made me want to buy some too, so when I was re-stocking from LPdT, I looked at what they had. Not much really. At least not much that struck my fancy, but they did have this cherry flavoured one.
Which brings me to my second reason for the choice. I want a cherry flavoured black. Not cherry blossom, but cherry. I know it must exist, but I’ve never seen one that I can recall. At least not one that wasn’t bagged and cheap.
Buying this one seemed to be a two birds one stone sort of deal, so I did it.
Initially I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t as cherry-y as I had imagined and/or hoped for, and to be quite frank, there was a hint of soapy flavour to it. The boyfriend thought it was nice though.
Stubbornly I pressed on, and to my amazement I have discovered that this stuff has been growing on me. I’ve had it several times now, and I have a completely different experience of it now from that initial one. It’s still rather more rooibos-y than cherry-y, but it’s okay because I’ve got used to it, and that impression of having got shampoo in my mouth while showering has disappeared as well.
Even if the fruit is not nearly as strong as I would have preferred, I’ve decided it’s okay. It’s not going to be my gate-way into unflavoured rooibos or anything, because frankly, I’m not interested in plain rooibos. I drink it for the fruit addition and for how that plays with the rooibos flavour.
So yeah, in time I have grown to be quite pleased with this purchase, although I don’t think it’s necessarily one which I will have to repeat. I also moves some of it to a separate tin and added a vanilla pod a la JacquelineM and I have to say the result of that was very pleasant indeed. I prefer that vanilla-fied version actually, but I have become sufficiently pleased with this that I don’t feel like doctoring up the rest of it anyway.
I like how the little sample pouch says ‘3+ cups’. Whoever wrote that have clearly never seen me make tea. :)
I’ve had this one for a while and it’s another one that I don’t know who sent it to me. Considering that it comes from Shang Tea, of whom I am a fan, it may be slightly odd that I’ve been sitting on it for so long. It’s because I’ve had this ‘white tea – urgh…’ phase, which has been going on for rather a long time now. It’s not that I dislike it, it’s just that I’m not at all that fond of it. My severe falling out of love with Bai Mu Dan hasn’t helped matters any either. Shang Tea have, however, in the past provided me with some rather large surprises, so I’m hoping for the best.
The aroma is not very strong and it’s difficult to pin down. It just smells white, really, in that it doesn’t smell at all like any of the other types of tea. Using the inhale-exhale-inhale trick that I learned from Bonnie the other day (thank you Bonnie! I think you’ve just helped me avoid actually dipping the tip of my nose in tea in search of aroma with this trick. (Accidental dipping, mind you)) I can pick up something that reminds me vaguely of cucumber or courgette, but isn’t really either. It’s sort of slightly sweet and it smells like that texture, but still doesn’t really allow itself to be identified. It does remind me some of Bai Mu Dan, though.
The flavour does have a fair bit of courgette to it as well, but strangely, it’s not as unappealing as I normally find it. It’s immediately followed by something very sweet and honey-ish, and I think that’s what rescues it for me, because normally I prefer my courgette flavour to be in courgettes. Bit like cinnamon really. For me, cinnamon and tea ought have nothing to do with each other at all, whether it be naturally occuring or otherwise.
Once again Shang Tea has surprised me. This is really rather nice. It’s not something I must run out and tell the world about, but it’s enjoyable to get to try. If I were fonder of white than I am, I would probably be swooning all over the place.
Erm yes. Bear with me, Steepsterites. It’s just because it’s now I’m drinking down Tea Corner and therefore I can’t wait another half year to use this one. It’s already a pretty old bag, predating my Sample Tracking Plan, so I’m clueless as to where it came from. (It came from H&S, hurr hurr hurr!)
So yes. Christmas tea in June with lots of sunshine outside. A far cry from the wet undies causing downpour of the other days, which I was forced out in as I needed to buy cat food. (It later transpired that there actually was half a bucketful left in the old bag and I could have saved myself the shower… Isn’t that just typical)
I can smell spice in here. I think it’s the cardamom primarily, but there is also something that makes me think ginger. Ginger. Oh dear. It’s mostly cardamom, though, and I like that. (Lovely in pancakes along with some lemon juice, actually. Don’t ask me for measurements. I tend to use a smidge and a squirt. Sometimes a large smidge and squirt, sometimes small)
It is quite cardamom-y in flavour, and I’m discovering that I actually quite like that. This is odd because I don’t customarily care much for spice in tea. I don’t like ginger at all, tea or otherwise, but can deal with a wee bit in cooking or baking. I like cinnamon in cooking and baking but not too fond of it in tea. But cardamom? Apparently this goes down a lot better with me than the other two when mixed into tea.
Since I’m used to cardamom in the combination with lemon juice in our saturday morning pancakes, the cardamom here does make me rather wish for something citrus-y. I should think a teensy bit of orange, or perhaps even mandarin or tangerine, would have done well.
I usually try not to look at other people’s posts about something until I’ve finished writing my own, because if I’m too aware of other people’s findings, it tends to pollute my thoughts and manipulate me to try and find the same things. This time, though, I accidentally cheated. This just goes to show that I ought to write my note in something else and copy paste it into the posting window here when I’m done. There were more than one person that spoke of white chocolate-y flavours, and I have to say, I’m utterly stumped on that one. This is not like any white chocolate I’ve ever had. I’m surprised so many people seem to have come to this conclusion.
As I drink this, the vanilla shows up, but only on the swallow. It’s one of those building-itself-up flavours that you can’t taste right away. Almond and chamomile, however, eluded me until I got further down into the cup where something strange happened.
The cardamom flavouring transformed! I’m pretty certain it was the same note that I was initially interpreting as cardamom, because it changed so slowly that I didn’t realise what was going on until I went ‘hey, wait a minute…’ Instead of being strongly cardamom, it’s now fairly strongly almond.
It’s a two-in-one tea, this. Cardamom flavoured first, then almond and vanilla flavoured second.
I quite like it, although it is rather out of season.
Cloud bursts. I dislike them. Especially when there seems to be far more rain than is proper in my rain wear and I have to stop in for cat food on the way home.
I’m home now and have changed out of my wet things. Even had to change my underwear!
Rain wear. Yeah. Right.
Totally time to pull down a good old favourite which has been sorely neglected for a while. Right now I’m wondering why on earth that could be. It’s so… nommy.
Public Service Announcement: Anywhere that it says ‘lemon’ in the following, I mean ‘melon’. It’s surprisingly hard not to write ‘lemon’ instead and I’m not sure I’ve completely managed to avoid it or caught them all.
This is another green tea that Autumn_Aelwyd shared with me, and like the one yesterday, I’m brewing it twice in one go. One Western for the boyfriend and one short steep for myself.
On the first steep, I get a slightly spicy, melon-y aroma with a note in it, and this is going to sound really odd, smells like the texture of fur or shaggy carpets. Synesthesia, I ♥ you. I’m trying really hard to think of a word to describe the note in a way that people who aren’t me will be able to understand, but I’m failing spectacularly. It’s a pleasant smell, though, so let’s just leave it there.
The flavour strikes me as just ‘default green’, at this point though, and a bit watered out, in spite of the fact that I used more leaf than I would have because otherwise I’d have had too little left to bother keeping. It’s slightly astringent and again a bit melon-y. There’s just not enough melon in it that I can be sure I’m actually tasting it and that it’s not just because I’ve been influenced by reading about the name of the tea, which means something with melon slice or melon seed.
The second cup still smells like new carpets. I can even find that rubbery bit on the back. Still a little spicy, but the melon note seems to have gone.
It’s far more intense in flavour now, and definitely has a melon note somewhere mid-sip. At first I’m getting grass and vegetation, and then the melon shows up alongside and lasts until the swallow. I even get the same sort of astringent feeling in the mouth as from eating melons. It also has a wee bit of a bite near the end of the cup like it has steeped just a split second too long.
I think so far my ideal would have been somewhere in the middle between the first and second steep. Hm. Right.
The third cup is actually quite like that middle thing I was wishing for above! The aroma is the same, but the taste is quite melon-y. I definitely think I’m detecting melon notes here and not just because I read about the name. Nice.
My fourth cup smells like grass. No more carpets or fur here. The flavour is a bit weak and watery and quite chalky. I’m getting a hint of melon underneath, but it’s quite subtle. I don’t really like this steep much, so I’m pressing straight ahead.
The fifth cup is not quite so chalky, and we’ve got that melon note back again, along with something that has reverted back to ‘default green’. It’s honestly not particularly interesting at this point, so I think I’ll stop here.
Also, I’m rather ready for something else.
This has been one of the more subtle ones of the green teas that Autumn_Aelwyd sent me, but also one of the ones I think I’ve liked the best. I think it’s that melon-y-ness, although I would have liked to have seen that a bit stronger. Actually, apart from a black tea (I think it was) bag, I don’t think I’ve had melon flavoured tea, and I think it might be a fun flavour to do in a green or in a greenish oolong. This one gave me a hint of what that might be like, and I thought it was a flavour that suited the ‘default green’ rather well.
Autumn_Aelwyd wrote on this one, “best brewed in glass”
NO KIDDING! These leaves are enormous. And flat. And long. And broad. They’re great big flat leaves. I’ve never seen leaves like these before, and had some trouble working out how to dose them. I think in teaspoons, not grams. The whole idea of thinking in grams, outside of the moment of purchase, is completely alien to me, so I was a bit stumped. In the end I went by eye measure.
The glass recommendation was all nice enough, but I wasn’t really able to follow it. We’ve only got one glass pot, which is the one I made some for the boyfriend in (Western style) and the smaller one that I use for myself is my beloved bone china one. The glass pot for the boyfriend is one of those with a french press infuser, which I had to take out. I just couldn’t see how these enormous leaves could ever work in the infuser. Which of course also means I had to give it to him without a lid. I just saw him fetch a pre-emptive rag from the kitchen. Probably a wise move.
Anyway, for myself I made a short steep and the colour was so pale that I suspect I could comfortably have used a couple more leaves. Or leaf sheets. Or whatever. As it has cooled a bit while I wrote this, the colour has developed a bit in the cup, though.
I can’t find much in the way of aroma. There’s a warm softness, but I don’t think it’s anything more than the warmth of the liquid. There isn’t a very strong flavour either. At first go, it’s a bit chalky and mineral, but then slowly this stewed spinach-y flavour sort of unfurls, spreads out and disappears with the swallow. Just as I tasted that, a large flower bud opening and blooming actually showed up quite vividly in my head. That image was exactly the way the flavour developed. (It was a large pink and white flower with many petals if anybody’s interested)
I was a little disappointed by the next few sips which didn’t give me this unfurling experience. It was as if the first sip had merely primed my tastebuds so they were now all ready to receive. But I quite enjoyed that unfurling.
The second steep is a little more mineral and a little less spinach-y but still much the same as the first. Quite nice with a handful of cherries. Om nom nom cherry season!
The third steep has developed a little aroma. Just a wee smidge, but it’s that stewed spinach note from before, I think. The flavour is still very mild and a little meek, but it has as good as lost the chalky note at this point. It doesn’t strike me as very spinach-y anymroe either. Now it’s sweeter and reminds me more of freshly shelled peas. Or perhaps more along the lines of snap peas or snow peas.
On a final note, the boyfriend also reported that he had enjoyed his western style brewed pot quite a lot.
I am working on drinking the supply down! It is therefore not okay to have to add to it just because I must have forgotten to add it in the first place. Anyway…
Once upon a time I had a sample of Verdant’s TGY, which, as I am wont to do, I brewed western style and was subsequently fairly underwhelmed by. I mean, it was good, don’t get me wrong. I even gave it 86 points, which you must concede is pretty high. It just wasn’t interesting.
“No, no, no,” said Spoonvonstrup. “You should short steep it.”
Well now. I didn’t have any of my sample left to do that, so Spoonvonstrup offered to share a sample with. I was a little torn. Part of me was sceptic that it would make such a large difference and that, these days, possibly greener oolongs were just not for me, but a larger part of me thought that it absolutely could and should not be true that something which had made people swoon in bliss all over Steepster should come across as so uninteresting to me. I was missing out and that’s not cricket. So I said, yes please.
Turns out Spoonvonstrup had already been planning a large number of other things to share with me as well, as has already be written about, but I count this one as the being the primary purpose of the exchange.
Well. I say ‘exchange’, but my attempt at a return package was returned to sender. I must have written the address wrong.
Anyway, I received a generous sample of this TGY on the clear understanding that I would short steep it.
So I am doing that very thing now, and this right here is the first round. I believe it’s a different harvest than the one I had initially, but I’m not expecting that to matter so very much in this experiment.
There is a slightly floral aroma to it, with a strong note of something that I can only describe as ‘some kind of tart fruit’. It doesn’t smell like apple or citrus or pineapple, so I’m not sure what exactly it is. It just smells kind of fruity and yellow-ish green.
The flavour is stronger oolong-y than I expected. I think that I was expecting something more soft and vegetal like a green tea, possibly because of the short steep, but this is definitely tasting like an oolong. It has that smidge of earthyness to it. Again the floral note is very low key and there is ‘something fruity’ going on.
Even the aftertaste keeps tingling and tickling on my tongue for a long time.
Now that I have a learned to recognise a chalky sort of flavour, I’m detecting that too. Well, it’s not so much that I’m suddenly detecting it where I didn’t before; it’s more that I’ve learned to put words on what it is, and therefore I am noticing it being there. I learned that in some green tea I had the other days. Emperor’s Mist and Clouds, I think it was called. That one had it pretty bad, but this one is not so much. I wonder if it’s actually my water that does it. I had a brief thought of buying some bottled water and trying a comparison, but as Denmark on the whole prides itself on having a high quality tap water, clean and drawn straight from the underground, paying through my nose for bottled water when it’s not strictly necessary strikes me as rather a waste of money. If I’m out somewhere and I get thirsty I have no problems buying some, but then it’s usually slightly carbonated and with some sort of flavouring added. Bottled still water… Sorry, I can’t make myself do that. Not even for tea. So either I’ll have to look into some sort of filtering system or wait until there’s something wrong with the pipes and I’m forced to use bottled water.
Anyway, that was a tangent. The point is there was a slightly mineral note, but nothing very significant.
The colour has gone all vivid yellow on the second round, and that ‘something fruity’ note is definitely citrus-y now. Lemon-y or lime-y. Not the fruit itself, though, but more zest-y.
The flavour is more mellow this time. While this also has a touch of citrus, this is more fruit than zest. I find actual lemon juice to be a sort of softer flavour than zest. Juice is broad and spreads out, where zest is pointy and stabby.
The flavour is definitely not zesty and there’s still only a little of it. Most of it is still that oolong-y earthyness with a little floralness to it, but not too much.
Really these first two steeps have been very similar indeed.
Round three strikes me as quite floral on the nose, but still with a good deal of citrus. That citrus-y note just seems to be getting stronger and stronger here, as if it’s something that have to be coaxed out of the leaves.
The flavour, however, remains the same as before, if perhaps a tad paler.
And I think I will stop the post here, although I don’t think I’m quite finished playing with these leaves. There is so much flavour still to go on, and as it appears to be so very consistent, I suspect I’m in for a rather long haul. It’s going to be a very long post indeed if I continue writing.
In conclusion, Spoonvonstrup was right. This really do need short steeping before it can shine for me. Although my socks have not been knocked into deep space with this one, it’s still oodles better than the uninteresting result of my very first go at it. I think maybe to do with how it’s much less floral this way. The rest of the flavour profile, curiously, is completely different too, it seems.
I have jumped back into the green teas that Autumn_Aelwyd sent me, and when I had a look at the Chinese ones, I thought this one appealed to me more today. I think it’s the name. It’s that sort of name that pokes at the imagination. I expect it probably refers to the mountain on which the leaves are grown, but in my head it makes me expect something light and almost flimsy. Like mist and clouds, you know?
Before I began making the first cup, I had a bit of a sniff at the dry leaves. They smelled pretty much like I expected them to. Kind of grassy and not really anything else, but there was something about this specific nuance of grassy that I found very attractive. Maybe it’s the mood I’m in today that is specifically receptive to green tea smell or maybe it just has that extra quality. Who can tell?
Feeling very encouraged, I made the first cup. I tried to give it 20 seconds, but it probably turned out to be more like 40, because the first thing that happened when I tried to pour was me getting to use some time on unclogging the spout. I hadn’t even had more than a few drops out of it at that point, so the initial timing was pretty busted. (This is why I don’t usually specify how long I steep these short ones. It’s never even remotely accurate anyway.)
I got it unclogged in the end and poured my cup. And then I was disheartened because it had that thick, heavy aroma like the first steep of Dragonwell. A bit greasy and reminding me of cat breath. You may recall, I was not particularly fond of that first Dragonwell steep, but that it improved for me a lot already on the second one. This one has a lot of that same quality to it, although not as strongly.
The flavour, thankfully, is not that thick and greasy. If we think back to that Dragonwell again, I would describe this as an even mix between that first and second steep. It does have that thickness and heaviness to it, but there is a strong note of something with a little more bite. Green asparagus, steamed just so springs to mind. Slightly stringy stems and all.
Well that was rather nice, so let’s proceed right away!
Second steep was also a little inaccurate on the timing, first because I had managed to misplace my cup and second because this is one spout-clogging tea. This time the aroma has lost that greasy heavy note again. The aroma is rather vague now, but there are notes of floral sweetness in there. Nectar-y, I would say, because it’s not that dusty, perfume-y sort of floral.
Unfortunately all that dusty floralness is to be found in the flavour, complete with a funky after-taste. I think this might be what people mean with a mineral note. It does taste a bit chalky. Can’t say I’m too pleased with that. Where did my steamed asparagus go?
Strangely, I did have a hunch that I should increase the steep time some for this round, but I decided against it because it seemed so unnecessarily early to do it on the second steep already when I didn’t even have any specific reason for doing so. Now I think I probably should have gone with the hunch.
I liked the first steep a lot better than this one, so let’s just skip it and go straight to the third with a better steep time.
I gave the steeping time a good whack upwards for the third round, nearly doubling it. It’s still quite floral and dusty in flavour and with that chalky note in the background, but I’ve got the steamed asparagus note back again. It’s sort of keeping to itself discreetly, but it’s definitely there.
Considering the floral dust flavour and the chalkyness, I don’t think I’m going to get anything more useful out of this one. I wasn’t too fond of the second or third steep, but I found I rather enjoyed the first one. Enjoying the first steep is, to me, far more important than enjoying the others, so I’m going to rate it based primarily on the first steep.
With this in mind, I think is one I should also try Western style as well, even though I seem to be enjoying green more when done in multiple short steeps.