1323 Tasting Notes
Errrr…. Steepsterites? Do I owe someone a package that hasn’t been sent? I have a strange feeling that I do, but I can’t for the life of me think who it must be for. I just have a feeling that I’ve promised a sample to someone…
Anyway, and so we hit the forties. I don’t think I’ve quite halved the stash yet, but we’re definitely getting there. I kinda wish I had paid attention to how much was in the cupboard when I started on this drinking it down project. I think I’ve pruned it just about as much as I can. Removed all the things that I know realistically I’ll just never get used. Some went in the bin (age), and some went in the box for re-homing. I’ve already forgotten who gave me the idea to do that, but it was a great idea! Everything that’s left now are things it should be possible to finish up or things that I haven’t tried yet and so can’t form an opinion on.
There is always something awesome about decupboarding a tea, even when it’s a beloved favourite. Even when I also cry a little tear of despair for the loss. I just feel so… accomplished when I can finish something off. (I also like starting by writing a list when doing house cleaning and such. There is awesome motivation in ticking things off the list)
So it is with mixed feelings that I removed this one today. Never did I think that I would ever meet a tea that could be such a rival to the Tan Yang for my affections.
It also means that I’m completely OUT of Fujian black. I can feel the tremors starting already, how am I going to cope until after the wedding and all that?
Ugh, I had a large meal and then dozed on the sofa with a kitty on my lap for an hour or so. Well, that was rather nice, actually. But now I feel like I haven’t slept in a week. It doesn’t help that I’m home alone this evening so I’m not getting much in the way of distraction from it.
Clearly it’s time for tea, and because common sense is not one of my strong points, I’m jumping head first into one I’ve never tried before.
I’ve been curious about this one, which Autumn_Aelwyd shared with me, because I’ve still not entirely managed to wrap my head around blending two entirely different types like this. I get a little confused on how to brew it, but decided to go with the green setting, even though this will not allow the black to come to its right. I could have catered to the black, and let it really come out to play with a higher temperature, but then the green would be ruined and thus ruining the entire blend.
Why do people make these blends? Me, at home, I do it when using up things where there isn’t enough to make a pot without mixing, or things which I’m hoping will then magically become interesting. In other words, when I do it at home with two so vastly different sorts of tea, it has nothing to do with flattery. (Generally, though, when I combine stuff, I do it within one type. Black tea with black tea, green tea with green tea, oolong with oolong.)
In this particular mix, green and black, it wasn’t just the temperature that gave me trouble. I like my black tea best brewed Western style. I like my green tea best brewed with my approximation of gong fu style. So what was I supposed to do with this? Well, the sample that I was given is a generous size, so I’m going to try both ways, I think, and I’m starting with Western style.
Another problem I have here is that it say a ‘mix of green and black tea’. Well yes. But which ones? That can’t be too difficult to say, can it? I’m not very experienced with green, but my interest in the black tea depends strongly on which region it comes from, and although it’s fun to occasionally be able to correctly identify origin, I do prefer it when I don’t have to play Guess That Tea without ever being able to get the correct answer. My scale of black teas range all the way from the slight bleh of Darjeeling to nom-nom of Fujian. Even knowing which country it was produced in would help a lot. Not providing any details on this doesn’t really give me the impression that the vendor is trying to teach people about, well, anything. If they want to keep their recipe secret, that’s fine with me. Just say so.
In other words, there’s not much in the way of expectations here.
As I looked at the leaves I saw primarily green tea. I didn’t see much of black leaf at all, and that makes me wish I knew what the ratios between them is. Is there not supposed to be very much, or is there a chance that the black leaves have all drifted further down in the pouch in spite of my shaking it?
Well, Guess That Tea isn’t so difficult actually when it comes to the black. It comes through a lot and it tastes of Yunnan, so I think we’ve got a golden Yunnan on our hands here. That might also explain why I didn’t think it looked like there were any black leaf in there, because that stuff doesn’t even look like black leaf.
A little grain, a little malt, a twinge of pepper at the end and a whole lot of hay all over the place.
Then there’s a twitch of bitterness that tells me that either did I use far too much leaf or I actually managed to use too high a temperature after all. My money is on the former, because temperature is something I did put some thought into here given the nature of the blend. It’s not at all impossible that I had my head under my arm while measuring out leaf. At this time of day I’m used to making a LARGE pot for sharing after all. So we’ll overlook that slight bitterness for now. It’s not strong enough to be important anyway.
There is a softness to this tea, which I think must have something to do with the green tea. It feels like it, soft and sort of thick and slightly viscous without feeling sticky. When black teas feel like that, it’s usually something to do with caramel-y or sugar-y notes and that makes it feel a bit sticky.
Another thing that the mysterious green tea adds here is a quite floral flavour, although not quite sickly enough to be cloying like I find so many scented teas. I think this one is playing on the same strings as that Yunnan pepper note does, so it’s hard to see where one stops and the other begins.
In spite of all this initial ranting, I’m finding I quite like this. It didn’t knock my socks off with awesome and I’m still sceptical about this mixing two so wildly different teas, because it’s impossible to brew so that they both come to their full rights, but for what it is, it’s quite nice enough.
I have finally decided to get started on the green samples that Autumn_Aelwyd has shared with me. I decided to be systematic about it, and have sorted them into two piles. One Japanese and one Chinese, and I’ve decided to start with the Chinese ones.
I picked this one for the first one because it’s the only one of them where I’ve had others of its type before, and been very ambivalent about it too. I have, however, to my knowledge only ever done it Western style and it has dawned on me recently that green tea seems to suit me a lot better when in much shorter steeps than that. So I shall see if it makes a difference with this one as well.
The first steep tastes and smells very familiar. The aroma is that particular thick, yellow quality that reminds me of cat breath when the cat has just eaten. I’m a cat person, so this is not nearly as bad as it may sound. It’s simply the strongest association I get.
The taste is the same as I remember and very like the aroma, only it doesn’t remind of of kitties. It’s thick and viscous and with a grassy sort of strangely salty-sweet note to it. It’s not quite what I would understand with the word ‘butter-y’ but it’s leaning strongly in that direction. It’s the thick and tough feeling to the flavour that gets me here. It’s a bit like it doesn’t want to be experienced willingly, I have to do battle with it first before I can even get it near my tastebuds. It tastes stubborn.
The only difference here from the Western style of this type is that this short steep is a little easier to subdue. More brittle, somehow.
The second steep is a reward to myself for having hoovered the lounge. There’s still the rest of the house to go, but two kitties in a shedding phase = hoovering being hard work. And thirsty work too. So I’m doing it in bits and rewarding myself with small breaks so as not to break my neck on it. It doesn’t help that hoovering is not exactly a favourite job… The lounge makes up about a third of the house anyway, so I’m well on my way.
I’m giving the second steep as long as the first, and the result is quite different. The aroma has a touch of lemon to it now and the flavour has gained a floral primary note. If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t believe it were the same leaves. That thick, stubborn, cat-food-y sensation is nearly gone, and I can’t say that I miss it. This is more crisp and fresh, as opposed to the much heavier first steep.
If I have more Dragonwell in the future, remind me to skip the first steep entirely and go straight to the second.
Okay another bit of the hoovering done. About halfway done now and had to empty the dust bucket! O.o This third steep got five seconds extra. That floral note I found in the flavour of the second steep has moved into the aroma of this one. Instead, that little citrus note has sadly gone missing. That’s a shame. I would have liked to see that one developing a bit.
The flavour remains unchanged though. If anything, it’s a little stronger. There is a twinge of citrus-y undertone to it, but not enough that it really makes much of an impression. It’s possible it’s only there because I want it to be there. Overall, it’s floral and reminds me mostly of steamed green asparagus.
Nearly done with the hoovering now, and I’m rewarding myself with the fourth steep. This got the same amount of seconds as the third did. I should have given it a few more. The aroma is all but gone and this is like a much weaker version of the third, all except the floral note in the flavour. That one is as strong as before. The absence of the body of the flavour makes it all too dusty and floral tasting for me, so I’m skipping straight ahead to the fifth steep.
The fifth steep got a whole 15 seconds extra. The floral note is definitely subdued again, but it’s still there. Unfortunately the flavour doesn’t seem to want to be anything else than floral, and even with the longer steep this is still just a slightly stronger version of the fourth. I think I’m done with this. These water-y tail-end steeps hold little to no interest to me, and after two of these I do not feel like experimenting further.
So it’s time to find a conclusion to this. I still don’t much care for the first steep, and if I had done this Western style, I would have stopped there and written it off. The second and third were quite nice however, so those were positive experiences. Two good ones and one less so. I should think this lands us on the rating scale right about… here.
This one is from the package that I’ve started thinking of as Cteresa’s Yumchaa Highlights. :) It was one I had already seen and been interested in, so I was very pleased that she included a sample of it for me to try before purchasing.
I was double glad of it, when it turns out to be a disappointment to me when brewed hot. I mean it tasted really nice and all, but so so busy! There are so many things in this that neither I nor the boyfriend could pick anything out of the flavour in particular. It was just all sort of jumbled together into a generic ‘fruit flavour’.
And while that’s nice and all, it’s just not that interesting. It has no personality.
So I despaired a bit.
Then this week, while it has been so hot, I’ve been doing a fair amount of coldbrewing, and it struck me that this would be an excellent way to round of the sample.
It works much better for me as a cold brew. It’s still a generic ‘fruit flavour’ with nothing in particular standing out, but somehow that seems less anonymous and tame when it has spent some 8-10 hours in the fridge first. I’m glad I decided to do this and I’m rating it solely based on this.
I’ve been drinking two glasses just now while I’m catching up on Steepster, having not looked for a few days. Nope, make that three glasses.
Oh my gosh, I am stash reducing! I haven’t seen the other side of 55 in AGES!
Since I’m not allowed to buy anything for another couple of months it’s a good opportunity to use that stuff up, try some of the ones I’m unsure about so I know whether to actually finish them or give them away, or just throw out stuff which is ancient and known dislikes, and there are some that I’ve tested out in coldbrews instead of hot, seeing as the weather is more than right for it.
I’m working on it.
Apparently I also have to be careful because the boyfriend just noted that the shelves were thinning out and joked that then he could take one of them down.
Now. This one is one of those white teas that I always seem to end up having a couple of. Years ago, I bought one from a then local shop and I thought it was all sorts of awesome, so I bought more. And then I just… lost interest. Fell out of love. Changed my preferences, perhaps. These days, I’m having a hard time seeing what it was I found so wonderful about the type. Now I find it too cucumber-y, too courgette-y. I like cucumbers and courgettes. We eat the latter several times a week. But as a flavour aspect in my tea?
This one is no different. Kind of floral and quite, quite courgette-y. That’s really all I have to say about it. It was a sample sent to me by a person who shall remain anonymous because I can’t remember and the tin doesn’t have a number, and I’ve been confirmed in the thought that I was right not to buy it when A&D released it. As their Year of the Rabbit special.
I’ve got one more BMD on the shelf, which I think I’ll try out in a cold brew when next I make a new pitcher, but generally, BMD is just not my thing anymore.
I have Teh Guilt. Autumn_Aewyd sent me a lovely package full of a whole little Green Tea Education, and I haven’t tried a single one of them yet. I haven’t even felt the desire to try one yet.
It will come though. Just as soon as my left ear stops being stupid (I asked our ear, nose and throat specialist at work and she seems to think it’s a mild inner ear infection). It feels like it’s full of water, but it’s more irritating than actually painful. Still, I’m not feeling ill, I’m just not feeling 100% well either.
On top of that, it’s really waaaaaarm outside. I’m sitting here in a thin summer dress and I still feel like it must be at least forty degrees in here. I can’t brain!
Clearly Autumn_Aelwyd’s careful selection would be wasted under these circumstances, so I’m cold brewing and drinking down the stash with some well-known flavoured greens, regular greens and greener oolongs. Things that I can actually finish off, or things I’ve been avoiding for a while, so I can remove them if my fear proves grounded. Black and dark oolong doesn’t really sound very appealing at the moment.
This one is one of those that I’ve been scared of. I’m ambivalent at best about figs. I like them processed but I’m not crazy about them on their own. I have the same problem with dates. More so with dates, actually, I absolutely dislike dates.
What we’ve got here is a cup of something that smells heavily of soap and something I can only describe as wet dog. I really don’t think this will be something for me, but I am, regardless of what it may look like, trying to keep an open mind about it.
It tastes of soap and perfume as well. A very alkaline sort of side note to it. I can’t tell if this is due to the flavouring or if it has something to do with the blend seemingly being two thirds flowers.
There’s a smooth oolong base underneath, so slippery it almost slides off the tongue, but that sensation in addition to above soapy aspect is just not a good idea. It puts me in mind of something kinda slimy and gives me all sorts of nasty associations.
That said, though, it’s not completely undrinkable. I could probably finish a whole cup of this IF there was nothing else to choose from, or if the alternative was something totally unacceptable, like for example a hibiscus-y blend. As there actually is something else to choose from, I’m going to go with that, and put this one in the box of things to go out to a new home. (Two other people have posted that they enjoyed it very much, so be not afraid. Simply a bad match in this house.)
First of all, Denmark now has Princess Athena Marguerite Francoise Marie. Very untraditional name, Athena. I’m not sure if it’s a more common name in France, seeing as how Princess Marie, the mother, comes from France. As she’s only number 10 in line to the throne so it’s not exactly likely that she’ll ever be queen of Denmark, so her parents can get away with being more personal and less traditional in their choice of names. Although Prince Henrik, who is the youngest of the little princess’ older brothers, is named after the Prince Consort. (I remember when he was christened. That was one proud grandfather that day!)
In the circumstances of the royal christening with French ancestry, (on both sides, actually, as the Prince Consort is also originally from France) I thought a French tea was in order. So therefore I picked a Chinese oolong. Well, it’s a French company. You all know what I mean anyway.
This is one of the three free samples that I received with my LPdT stock up order, and the only one of the three which I will actually drink. One of the three had come undone during shipping or it had not actually been sealed, not sure which, and the other is a jasmine scented beast, which… Yeah. I don’t care for jasmine, and I’ve decided to introduce the concept of realism and stop kidding myself that I’ll actually ever get through the various jasmine scented things I’ve got so I’ve moved the lot to the Give It Away Box.
Anyway, that left this one which had leaves dark enough looking that I thought it was much more fermented than it was and consequently steeped as such. As it turns out, it’s only 10% fermented… Well, plock. I tend to feel more comfortable giving greener oolongs a lower temperature than darker oolongs, but hopefully it won’t be very relevant.
Secondly, I see in the company’s description of it that it has a fair amount of floralness to it, particularly along the lines of narcissus and JASMINE! I can’t win. I just can’t win. But I suppose when it’s a naturally occuring note there’s always the chance that it won’t show up like that for me. One can only hope.
The aroma is definitely floral in a heavy sort of way, like a small room full of flowers that haven’t been aired out in a while, but not more so than these green type oolongs usually are. I can still get the slightly earthy notes that reveals it to be an oolong. There’s nothing particular about the aroma that really sticks out as interesting or unique here.
The flavour is sweet and does have that jasmine-y note to it that the description mentioned. It’s not as overwhelming as actual jasmine scenting and doesn’t make me feel like I’m licking flowers, so I can deal with it here.
Under the floral notes there is a toast-y oolong-y note, and a slight twist of proto-bitterness which tells me I would definitely have benefitted of taking the temperature down a notch or two. It’s only there because I checked for it though, so I don’t feel like I ruined anything or am missing out on anything.
Again, there’s nothing here that really strikes me as unique or in any other way special. It’s a fairly anonymous sort of tea this, rather disappearing among so many of it’s other far more famous green oolong sisters (green oolongs feel mostly female to me). Pleasant, but anonymous.
I’m feeling a bit under the wheather today, so I was considering making me some comfort tea. My initial tea-want was the lovely toffee flavoured one from LPdT, but then I remembered Cteresa having sent me this one in her latest care package and written ‘the tea for hangovers or being ill!’ on the bag, so I thought that would be a pretty obvious choice.
It tastes primarily lemon-y and ginseng-y. Well, I’m not super-certain about the latter, but I think that must be it. It’s a bit like non-ginger-y ginger in flavour. Ginger that isn’t so sharp and warm and prickly. Ginger sweetened with licorice-y notes, sorta. I can’t really explain it, it’s just the association I get. (Note, the blend does not actually contain either ginger or licorice of any sort)
I don’t care for ginger, and I have to say I don’t really care much for ginseng either.
I do quite like the lemon-y aspect of the blend, and I think lemon is a much better, much fresher flavouring in green tea than in black. In green tea, I think it underlines the base quite nicely, and the lemon is probably what rescues this for me.
It’s not something I would drink on a regular basis; it’s not that rescued, but right now it is quite soothing and perking me up a bit, so I will rate it according to the circumstances as well as the flavour.
For being ill? Yes, I can see that. It’s not like teas for being poorly necessarily have to be horrid.
Ninavampi sent this to me, and I’m certain I’ve tried it hot at some point, but as it doesn’t appear that I wrote about it at the time, I honestly can’t remember what I thought of it. I can’t have thought it was particularly outstanding, as I’m sure I would have been able to remember that.
Instead of another round of hot, however, I made the rest of it in a cold brew, which I initially thought was slightly odd. That only lasted until I got over the fact that it’s a honeybush base, not a tea one.
The vanilla comes out very nicely in the cold brew and it mixes well with the slightly wooden flavour of the honeybush. I find it’s at it’s very best when it has just come out of the fridge and is still as chilled as possible. The honeybush starts to take over a bit as it warms up.
Yeah, just a short one here. Those wigsaws don’t do themselves, you know!
This is one that the boss and I drink copious amounts of at work, and the boss especially is very fond of it. And yeah, once again ACP’s steeping instructions are Teh Krazey! A fruit flavoured blend of black and white, there is NO WAY I’m steeping that for 7 whole minutes. And there is even less way I’m doing it in boiling water. I can only conclude that the good people at ACP like their tea vastly different from how I like mine.
Anyway, fruit flavoured black and white. I have not been able to discover exactly what sort of fruit, but there is some sort of citrus peel in there and on the whole I think it tastes vaguely tropical, so my best guess is orange and something else. Perhaps pineapple or passion fruit. I have finally succumbed to curiosity and sent them an email asking about it.
The first time we bought it, it was the boss’ choice and I think she was initially drawn to it because she liked the tin, and then found the description interesting. She has since then requested the tin re-filled. We have a selection of six different ones to choose from and as it looks like now, three of them are always this, the Late Summer blend and the internationally acclaimed Raspberry Oolong. Slowly we are beginning to understand that the remaining three needs to be flavoured as well, because unflavoured teas, even those that we otherwise really enjoy, just don’t seem to fit in properly in the work place and they’re never even half as nice when made there.
I’m very certain of the orange, and here at home where I can brew it far better than I can at work, it’s very very orange-y indeed. I can also detect some floral notes around the edges, which I attribute to the inclusion of white in the blend. This flavour is shaped like a half globe. Most of it is orange-y fruit flavour, the flat bottom surface is the black base and the curved surface is the floral note. I’m not really getting much of the black base here, but I’m rather getting the impression that it would be very noticable if it weren’t there.
Brewed here at home, under more controlled conditions than is possible at work, I’m finding it really rather pleasant. At work, it very much varies. Not surprising considering the white content and the inability to really control water temperature much.
I’m slightly surprised that the boss has fallen for such a tea under those circumstances, but really, even though the quality of the individual brews vary, it’s not at all a finicky tea. As mentioned, brewing conditions are FAR from controlled and we don’t always have time to actually hang around in the lunchroom until tea is finished brewing. We make a liter at the time in a thermos using those filterbags that you put leaves in yourself, and it has happened more times than I can count that a tea has had a good half hour because we were distracted by Evil Work and forgot about it. I think that’s part of the reason unflavoured teas just don’t work well there. Added flavouring can hide a LOT of abuse.