1111 Tasting Notes
Good morning Steepsterites.
Today, I’ve decided, is decupboarding day. Let’s see how many I can get through.
This one is one I got from some kind soul once, the identity of whom I’ve forgotten because I’ve got so much gift tea from so many people lying around and no reliable system for remembering where it all came from. I’ll devise something of the sort, but there are a few things that need to come in order first. It’s all part of getting the tea corner sorted out. The tins are still all kicking around on the table in an only slightly organised pile. Not for lack of trying, though, but by the time we finally picked some shelves for that corner, they were not in stock. (We also bought a shelf for the bathroom but can’t put it up yet because we got a middle bracket instead of two end brackets. Typical!) After the shelves have been sorted out, I have some ideas for a gift remembering system which may or may not work out.
Anyway, the first time I had this it seems I wasn’t really all that impressed. That fits badly with how I ended up drinking quite a lot of it in a short time until the sample was nearly gone. Having waited a good while, I’m polishing it off now. I don’t know, I think it was something to do with how perhaps the flavour itself wasn’t really what I was looking for, but I liked the idea of it so much that I just kept trying.
It’s a pretty good tea to drink, really, just not one that makes you sit down and want to try and pick the flavour profile apart. It works best as a whole without too much thought activity. Probably not super-suitable for a first tea of the day tea either, but I can’t really say as I care. :) I imagine it’s probably a pretty good tea to have while reading a good book. I’ll go test that theory out I think.
(I love wednesdays. Have I mentioned lately that I love wednesdays? I feel for all you poor souls out there that have to be at work today and I’m not jealous at all. Aaaaah wednesday. The Weekend Minor.)
I’ve been having resteeps of this all day. I’ve got girly issues, and far worse than that I’m having a hard time getting my head around the terrible things that happened in Norway yesterday. It’s unreal and incomprehensible that it could happen, and for a Dane it happened right next door. It feels very close to home.
I thought Norway was one of the most peaceful places in the world.
Resteeps of this serves as comfort tea today, and I’m keeping our Norwegian steepsterites in mind.
Now, here’s one from the Basket that I do remember where came from. It was included in the Big Box O’ Tea that Pamela Dax Dean sent to me a while ago. (I’m still not even remotely close to having got through that box yet). As it is in the category of the ‘Rather Special’ I have been saving it for a special occasion. ‘Special occasion’ as apparently synonymous with ‘having survived another Ikea trip by bus and in the rain’.
I wasn’t sure how to brew it; whether to take the leaves out of the mandarin or steep the whole thing as it was. I opted for the latter. Then there was the issue of steep time. Since the leaves were all inside the mandarin and didn’t fall out when the water was poured on as I thought they would, I was uncertain about the steeping time and decided to give it plenty. Pu-erh doesn’t really, in my experience, become easily oversteeped to undrinkableness, so I felt confident in doing so, and as I thought, it worked out well.
I did think, though, that it would be a lot more orange-y in flavour. Or mandarin-y if you will. Citrus-y at any rate. It does have some, but it’s mostly just the pu-erh. Maybe I’m too used to the orange pu-erh from Nothing But Tea which is a Standard Panel tea, but I really was expecting more fruit.
Surprised at how well the tea flavour came out through the mandarin peel though. It’s a quite good pu-erh, if somewhat generic. It’s nice but not really anything outstanding.
The boyfriend was in favour of this cup as well. I think I should find another pu-erh for the Standard Panel for him.
So a good but fairly generic tasting pu-erh is worth some 80 points or so, I think. The fact that it’s inside a citrus fruit adds another few points as those two flavours go well together, even if there isn’t a lot of the fruity flavour. Finally, the over all experience of brewing this, the uniqueness of the presentation (unique for me anyway, I know it’s not completely unheard of) and the specialness of it are also worth something on the score.
I was thinking around 90 points was a fair score for it, and look, that’s exactly where it ended up. That was not adjusted afterwards!
I am celebrating the fact that I’ve washed my floors by having a good cup of tea. In fact I have actually withheld said tea from myself until after the floors were done. They are now done. For bonus effort, I have de-crumbed the boyfriend’s toaster.
Now, the first time I had this tea, I was at a complete loss for words. Just… no inspiration at all. I shall try to do better this time. Considering it’s the last of the leaves, I certainly hope I will. Back then I described it in very basic terms. Typically Yunnan-y qualities, but of a raisin-y note to the aroma, quite nice on the whole.
The aroma of this cup does indeed have a slight raisin-like quality to it, but that’s far from at the forefront. The first thing that actually struck me about it, was this unusually sharp note. Very fruity and pepper-y, but with a surprising sting to it. Being prepared for that sting, however, it seems a little less pronounced. It just sort of jumped me from behind and tried to jam a pick up my nostrils. Pretty violent, eh? I’m on to its game now though, and the loss of the ambush advantage has calmed it down somewhat, so that I am capable of concentrating on the notes that lay thickly beneath.
As mentioned it is indeed quite fruity. It’s sort of warm juice-y, or perhaps warm wine. Yes. It’s best described as having a cup of mulled wine in a barn surrounded by fragrant hay. I find that spice-y hay-y note to be quite standard from Yunnan teas. It lends a very characteristic profile to the teas from that region.
It’s amusing, however, that I once thought Yunnan teas to be quite smoky, naturally. I can find none of that smoke today. I eventually found my perception of the note developing into something more pepper-y. There is not a lot of pepper in the aroma of this one though. The hay note, however. The hay note is alive and kicking both in aroma and in flavour. It’s a very deep golden coloured flavour, exactly like a bale of straw.
I mentioned above that I could only find pepper in the flavour but not in the aroma. To make up for this, it seems like there’s about three times as much pepper in the flavour as I was expecting. Once again the tea got the upper hand on me, giving me a mouthful of pepper and holding my nose so I’d have to swallow. That too, however, I managed to subdue by letting the cup cool to a more managable level.
Back in control, the pepper is still strong and it leaves a fair amount of astringency behind. The whole mulled-wine-in-a-barn idea that embodied the aroma is a little lost to me at this point. I think it’s all the pepper. Imagine that barn with fragrant hay and having your mulled wine in it, only to discover that someone emptied the pepper mill in it when you weren’t looking. At first there’s shock, then curiosity and then to your enormous surprise, appreciation.
In spite of all the above it’s a rather nice tea, but it’s not a tea for weaklings. You have to be able to take some flavour with your cup. It’s strong and forceful and you can’t really trust it. Turn your back for a moment, and you will likely as not receive a firm kick in the rear. Ill behaved and borderline feral, that’s this tea. But once you have tamed it, it’s very enjoyable.
Gosh, what a cup. Is it tea or is it a wrestling match? Either way it put up a damn good fight.
Another one from QuiltGuppy. Turns out I’ve actually had this one before. I’d clean forgotten that. And basically I’m only posting now because my brain suddenly realised that it wasn’t just any old standard LS, but a gift LS and therefore it ought to be documented. As is only right and proper.
I’ll be brief though, because there are plans for today and there are few things I want to get out of the way so that I can sit quietly and conquer the world for a while before leaving. (Civ V. Have wiped out Arabia, am in the process of making cat’s meat of Japan. After that Napoleon won’t know what hit him. Rocket artillery. Yeah.)
The aroma of this tea is pretty much what I tend to look for in an LS these days. Sort of thick and creamy with a good layer of smoke. In fact it could be rather more smoky and prickly without it hurting anything.
Strong note of fruity sweetness in the flavour, which is exactly how I like my LSs to be, but again, a little stronger smoke wouldn’t have gone amiss.
To put it briefly, this is pretty much the ideal LS, only in a Light version. All the properties and stuff about it are all correct; it merely lacks some shine to take it from nice to awesome.
Chinese mutant white tea buds, with almond, coconut and vanilla to tas- Wait, what?
Oh Mutan! Riiiiiight. Anybody could’ve made that mistake!
The dear QuiltGuppy included this one in the package she sent me a little while ago. I was dead-lucky with that one because it contained among other things a number of things I had been curious about and one thing that I’d had before and liked. And she didn’t know anything about that when putting it together, so I’m thinking she must have access to some powerful psychic powers.
This has been widely appreciated across Steepster and I’m glad I got to try it as well, even though it’s been a long time since the actual wedding took place. I’ve got some pretty high expectations of it. Of course I should have actually looked it up before putting the kettle on, but at that time I hadn’t chosen a tea yet. And then I discovered it was a white, so I had to wait for my already boiling water to cool so that I could heat it again. It sounds pretty stupid put into words and it felt pretty stupid too. (And as for why I didn’t just get new tap-water, it’s because I filled the kettle all the way so that I can just press the button the next time I want tea water. It’s easier, and while I’m aware that I’m technically supposed to use fresh tap water every time, frankly I can’t taste a difference, so why bother?)
Now, let’s get down to business here. This cup is important as it’s also the first one I’ve had all day, and I’m finding the fact that it smells like a Bounty bar extremely up-lifting. It’s not my favourite type of chocolate bar at all and I’m not generally one to have a lot of luck with coconut in tea, but anything that smells like sweets surely must get a goodly amount of points.
And you know what? This is actually one of the few where coconut in tea works for me. It’s there and it’s very obviously coconut, but it’s not assertive. It’s just sort of standing there, a bit to one side of the room, making a presence of itself but not causing any sort of fuss. Just quietly minding its own business and chatting with the almond, which is behaving in the same way.
The vanilla is a bit more lively, but not as obvious. As opposed to the coconut, the vanilla is trying to get the attention of the room, but failing spectacularly which in turn causes it to behave in an adorably desperate and cheerful way. Refusing to accept that nobody has discovered what it’s trying to do.
Let’s stick to this metaphorical room of party-goers and turn our attention to the white tea itself. It’s quite grassy in flavour and nicely framing the rest of the flavour profile. The tea obviously represents the room itself. The surroundings. The barkeep, polishing pint glasses and asking younger notes for ID. The decorations. All those guests that are there, but you don’t know who they are.
All in all, as befits the name, this tea is a party in a cup, and therefore it’s probably not quite as bizarre that it’s reminding me strongly of carrot cake. With coconutty icing on it. Gosh, I wish I had some carrot cake to go with this.
Not bad for a mutant tea. ;)
NATURE’S OWN COUGH MEDICINE, DAMMIT!!! shakes fist
“What, again?” I hear you ask.
The mood was green this morning, so I just picked first and best unflavoured green out of the basket. This process was made a lot easier by the fact that I’m not so set in my ways with greens as I am with blacks. Had the mood been for a black tea this morning, choosing one would have involved a whole lot more dithering.
Anyway, this sample contained, I think, just about the right amount of leaf for my brewing preferences and the leaves were large and a nice, bright green colour. They looked happy and lively, and made me expect a flavour with lots of pizzazz in it.
It’s surprisingly light in colour though. Even after a whole minute’s steeping, it’s still very pale. Most green teas, at this point, will be very yellow in my experience.
The aroma is quite light as well. It’s very difficult to find it, even when sticking my nose so close to it, it’s almost getting dipped. When I do find it, though, it’s quite fruity. I’m reminded of pineapple and green apples, and not really finding any of the vegetative grassy notes.
It’s incredibly delicate in flavour. It’s so frail and shy, I almost expect it to blush when sipping it. Unfortunately, the fruity notes that I found in the aroma are not carrying over into the flavour. Shame, I had quite looked forward to a naturally occurring pineapple note. Some of the apple-y note is still there, but it’s not in any really significant amount.
It’s a rather floral flavour, in a not scented to death sort of way. Naturally occurring little flowers that nobody is paying attention to because they’re just weeds. It doesn’t really have any significant grassy notes. There is some of it there, but it’s so delicate that it barely registers. These are some great notes, but I should have liked for them to be stronger. A little less shy and blushing and a little more ‘look out, world! Here I come!’
This is not really a tea that one can easily pick apart like this. It doesn’t work like that. A flavour this delicate should be viewed more in the big picture, which is lightly floral, mild and sweet. Not really suitable for a morning tea, however green the mood may be, but later in the day it would be a really nice choice. Imagine coming home from work, tired and stressed, and then sitting down with a cup of this tea. Just quietly sipping a cup without paying attention to the rest of the world for a few minutes. Zen.
Currently at the fifth steep of these leaves, started yesterday evening/afternoon.
I am going to steep the heck out of them, because they were the last in the tin.
That’s two Standards I’m now out of, Tan Yang Te Ji being the other one. If only they had been from the same company, it would have warranted an order, but tea corner organisation, or lack of same, currently dictates that I wait until we have either used up some more stuff or got some sort of shelfing business sorted out. We went and found some suitable shelves today, but couldn’t carry them home ourselves on the bus along with the vast number of, frankly more important, blinds.
So it’ll have to wait. But at least we know now what we want. It will be awesome.
In the meantime I’m putting off the moment when I’ll have to say good bye and so long to this tea.
We’ll meet again. Don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day…
As mentioned before I’m not an Earl Grey fan, but you don’t get to be a tea lover without at least at one point in your tea carreer getting yourself outside an Earl Grey of some sort. It’s so much a classic that acquaintanceship is inevitable.
I’ve met a few in my time.
A few I have actively disliked.
Many I found drinkable, but otherwise neither interesting or pleasant in any way, shape or form.
Some I liked.
A few I found surprisingly nice.
Only one have I ever loved.
And this is it.