1257 Tasting Notes
Sample seven! I made my goal, I did! I think maybe I could get rid of a LOT more samples if I set myself a more ambitious goal. I frequently put down ‘finish X samples and Y tins before buying new tea’ goals and those work well for motivation, but I wonder if maybe I should aim for a higher amount of samples next week. Ten perhaps? Yes. Ten samples done and decupboarded next week.
Anyway, I was in a caramel mood today, largely because I have placed myself on Snack Control. Have even been out and got excersise! Ew, yuck. Several hours later I’m still coughing a bit. I feel ooooooooooold! So yeah, that’s why I was really feeling the lust for this one now.
Cteresa sent it to me and she recommended that I had it with a little milk and sugar in to get the most out of the flavouring. I never add anything to anything save the rooibos the other day, so I wasn’t really very keen on just doing it now without at least trying it neat first. There was just the right amount of leaf for my small pot which empties into a large mug, so there was enough that I could easily try it both ways.
I brewed it like I normally do, completely forgetting that I was recommended to also make sure to stir it thoroughly both during and after steeping. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.
First I tried it neat and the flavour was all daaaaark and slightly astringent. There were three equal parts to the flavour for me. One part nutty, one part caramel-y and one part cocoa-y. I wouldn’t say that any of these were stronger than the others, it seemed a fairly even and seamless mix to me. I suspect the astringency I mentioned earlier is a result of these flavours rather than the base tea, because the base is a Keemun and that has no business being astringent.
Next I tried to add the milk and sugar as recommended, and it definitely made the tea sweeter. I suppose that’s to be expected really. What with having added sugar. Flavouring-wise, I’m afraid I didn’t really feel it made much of a difference, possibly because I’m so unused to having any additions in tea at all. I find it a bit distracting when it’s there now.
That said, yes, the milk definitely brought out the caramel a lot more and made it amore sweetie sort of flavouring as opposed to the very dark profile from before. I’m just not sure I didn’t actually prefer it without additions. I think this blend might have benefited from having a little vanilla in it as well, to create that sort of creamy sweetness without having to add things.
I have already decided to make a Yumchaa order the next time I shop, so I will probably buy some more of this. Then I’ll have to conduct a number of experiments with it and additions and vanilla. At any rate, a caramel flavoured tea will definitely get used up fairly quickly around here.
Having the last half of this this morning for sample finishing week, sample number five.
Let me guess. Chá is Portuguese for tea?
So para fazer um bom chá might be something like loose leaf of black tea?
Am I close? Wildly off the mark?
(Shame it doesn’t come with a pronounciation guide. I should have liked to have seen my Brazilian’s face when I came to work and spouted Portuguese at her. :p These days when I do, she tends to roll her eyes at me, but it’s her own fault for having taught me to swear! :p )
Ricky sent me this one back in August. I remember it was August, because he had taken pity on me for the Steepster club not being available internationally and sponsored the first box for me, and he also included a number of other things. So for once I remember.
I’ve been scared of it ever since. That creepy face on the label doesn’t help either.
I’m feeling brave and encouraged to embrace a whole new world these days though, due to the rooibos that Cteresa (enabler!) shared with me that I really liked. I asked the boyfriend if he was interested and at first he decided to pass, but when he discovered I was only making a small pot, so he would only be getting half the amount of our normal mugs, he too decided to give it a go.
I was surprised at how dark it brewed up. Some of it is because the holes in the strainer is larger than these leaves, but that doesn’t account for all of it. It’s almost as dark as your average black tea, only this has a sort of funny greenish tint to it.
The aroma was the second surprise. It smells very much like a relatively mild pu-erh. I hadn’t expected that. For some reason I was expecting minty. I think because in my brain I want to compare it to mate, which I think has a minty sort of smell. Why do I want to compare it to mate? Because the leaves look the same and because they both come from South America. That’s how much imagination I’ve got.
Flavour-wise, here comes the third surprise. Based on other posts and the information from 52teas, I was expecting a much stronger flavour, but it’s come out surprisingly mild, considering. I brewed at a cautious temperature, though, so that might have something to do with it. I was just expecting more pang, really.
I find it a bit coffee like on the end of the flavour and there’s a funny tingling aftertaste, a bit like I get from mate as well as finally that minty touch. Mostly though it’s just sort of earthy and a bit like a somewhat pale shadow of pu-erh.
Honestly, I’d rather have real pu-erh.
Sample number four dealt with. I can’t remember where this one came from, but I’ve had it for ages because… generic green tea in an ordinary bag. There’s something not super-tempting about that. But I suppose that’s exactly what this sort of week is for, isn’t it?
I hadn’t even bothered to look it up on Steepster and put it in my cupboard, it seems. Only reason I’m even posting about it, is because I found it when I looked it up to see if it would require removing from cupboard or not, and since it was here, it seemed silly not leave a little note on it.
If you have never had green tea before in your life and decide to try it for the first time, DON’T pick this one as your first attempt. This tastes nothing like real green tea. It’s slightly bitter and with a sort of generic flavour that isn’t really anything other than NOT black, if you get my meaning there. It tastes a bit minty which I suspect is aroma contamination and rather like paper which can only be bag contamination.
It’s not unbearably bad, it’s completely drinkable. It’s just not something that will be very recognisable as green tea if you don’t know that’s what you’re supposedly having.
Seven samples finished in seven days? Yeah, I’m behind because this is number three! O.o
I have already covered how Cteresa sent me Brave Tea and Interesting Tea. She also sent me Coveted Tea. I’ve had this on my shopping list for just about forever, but never really got around to making an MF order. It’s the New Shop Syndrome. It’s really difficult to shop in a new place for the first time. I tend to have to decide to do so well in advance of actual shopping, otherwise I just end up stocking up of old favourites instead. So MF is one of those places that I never got around to. I don’t think I’ve ever even tried anything from them before, which doesn’t make it easier to shop there for the first time.
So Cteresa is hitting two birds with one stone for me here. If this one comes out well for me, MF is going on the list of the next shopping spree along with Yumchaa. (That just leaves one space open. I’m still undecided about that one, but I do have a few potentials to check out. Three orders at a time seems to be what I’m comfortable with. I probably ought to make it one order per month instead, really.)
Anyway, so let’s see about this much coveted tea. Strangely enough, I’m not actually concerned about disappointment should I turn out to not like it.
The aroma is very sweet and pleasant. It’s quite chocolate-y and also kind of cake-y and vanilla-y. There’s a vague hint of something fruity if you really look for it and knows about it beforehand, but it’s not noticable and it’s not directly recognisable as strawberry. I really enjoy this aroma. It’s like liquid sweets, only not as cloying as one might have feared. It’s very pleasant indeed.
The flavour, however, is strongly strawberry. I’m really surprised at how strawberry-y this is! I can’t remember ever having met such a very strawberry-y strawberry flavoured tea before. It’s amazing! I’m getting a little chocolate underneath, but mostly it’s just the berries. There’s something creamy about it too, and it reminds me of fresh strawberries served with cream or a fat milk and sprinkled with sugar, a very classic summer dessert in Denmark.
Yeah, MF is definitely in the next order group. No doubt about that. I knew there was a reason I’ve been wanting to try this one for so long!
This is one of a few that we’ve got that I haven’t added to my cupboard.
1. They belong to the boyfriend.
2. He brought them with him when we moved in together.
3. He is the only one who drinks them.
4. I don’t like rooibos anyway.
However, after the success of the flavoured rooibos that Cteresa sent me the other day, he suggested that maybe I should also try the three or four that he’s got. Well, three out of the four. He enjoys this one, he thinks I might like two of the others as well and he very much doubts I’ll like the fourth one. I know I won’t like it, because I bought it once, before I realised that me and rooibos don’t mesh, because some female creature kept prattling on about how wonnnnnnnnnnderful it was iced. Let’s just say it wasn’t wonderful hot and it wasn’t wonderful iced. Much less wonnnnnnnnnnnnnnderful. So I’m steering well clear of that one until such time as I come over all masochistic.
Anyway, this one was suggested to start with. Not surprisingly considering the man’s affinity to lemons. I made a whole mug for him and a little more than half a mug for me. It makes it seem a little less scary the fact that there’s less of it.
Hmmm, odd. Yeah, there’s lemon here, but mostly I’m getting something… minty? It tastes a bit like chewing gum, really. The sort that adults eat, not children. I’m not sure I would call it super awesome, but it’s actually drinkable. Again the flavouring seems to cancel out the worst pencil-shaving-y-ness of the rooibos base.
I’m not at all surprised that he’s fond of it, but I’m not sure it’s what I’m looking for. I suspect I require some sweetness here.
Therefore, I conducted an experiment and if the following is some huge rooibos faux pas, I suggest you either avert your eyes now if you don’t want to risk it, or consider yourselves dutifully warned.
I added some sugar.
And this is an entirely different picture. Yeah it’s a little on the sweet side due to the dosage of sugar (I have funky thingie with sugar in which doses it for you and you just empty a ‘room’ over the cup) and the size of the cup, but what remained of unpleasant rooibos-y woodyness has been well and truly subdued.
I think, if it’s not a naturally sweet flavour, I might require a bit of sugar in a flavoured rooibos.
No, I’m not feeling particularly discouraged about this. Probably not something I’ll be drinking very often though.
I received this bag as a free sample when I ordered from AC Perch’s recently. The last two times I’ve ordered from them I’ve received free bags. That must be a new practice and although I haven’t had anything that I actually expect to like (This, bleh. A green ginger-y one, bleh. And a jasmine one, bleh), I definitely approve. :)
Anyway, I thought this would work as the sample finished for the day, so I made a cup. Unfortunately then I got side-tracked and forgot about it.
After some hour and a half, the boyfriend came home and commented on the neglected mug in the kitchen. As an Indian, I knew it was probably ruined, but I test-tasted the lukewarm result anyway.
No clue what it would have been like as properly made, and I swear I didn’t sabotage it on purpose.
We have already covered how Cteresa sent me Brave Tea. This one is in the category of Interesting Tea, and this is actually the reason she sent me an envelope in the first place. It’s all a way to encourage my little African kick. Mozambique! Another country I had no idea even drank tea! Now I need to make sure to include that Rwanda black next time I order from Nothing But Tea (providing of course that I actually manage to order. I’ll make damn sure next time that I do it properly!)
As this one was suggested that I try following a less than satisfactory go at a Kenya, and as I was informed to not expect miracles as this was also a CTC tea, I have to take a moment here to compare leaf size between the two. Yes, the Mozambique is a CTC as well, but compared to the Kenya, the leaf size of the Moz is still twice as large. I find this bodes well.
This is not presently part of my sample finishing project. Cteresa included enough that I can get two small pots out of it, and as my better half is at work, he obviously can’t share a larger pot with me.
It brews up a dark and strongly aromatic cup. In a previous post Cteresa finds that it’s similar to a generic Ceylon, and I agree with that. It has that malty, bold sort of smell with a note of something kind of wooden. Not rooibos wood-y, just general woodyness. Kind of spicy as well, but not very.
At this point I’m actually a little uncertain if I made it too strong after all. Surely such a powerful aroma has to come from somewhere. As it turns out, however, this does not seem to be the case. This is actually a pretty smooth cup. It’s not super-smooth in the way that a really good Chinese can be, but it’s definitely getting there. Again, I agree with the Ceylon comparison, only a little smoother. This doesn’t taste like a very finicky tea, and I tend to prefer those. A tea that it’s near impossible to wreck, that’s always a good point in my book. I’m in it for the taste, not the challenge. :)
Of course it might turn out that I could have just as easily ruined it by too much leaf or not paying attention to the steeping time, but I didn’t so we’ll go with that.
The very first note I get from a sip is something that invokes a complete absence of colour. Not a non-synesthesia reaction, but actual complete blackness as in total absence of… well everything. I’ve never had that one before, and I’m not sure I like it. It feels slightly malevolent. Ironically, the actual flavour of that note is rather nice in a morning tea. It’s all strong and powerful and ever so slightly very nearly something that could be thought a wee bit smoky. This is just at first, and then when I pay attention to it, it turns more in the direction of slightly floral in a Darjeeling-esque way, but without the grassy spicyness of the Darj. (This transition also rids me of that funny absence of colour experience in my brain. Most of the time synesthesia is kind of fun, but sometimes it’s just plain weird and makes me wonder if I should just try to stop paying attention to it at all, because it might make stuff like this a lot simpler)
As the cup cools, that Darj-y note develops a lot and the whole cup seems to turn into some sort of in between Darj and Ceylon thing, with the Darjeeling’s spicy greenishness and the Ceylon’s strength and malty base note. Had this been a blend I would not have found it strange at all, but as it’s a single region tea, I’m a bit puzzled by it. It makes it difficult for me to work out what I actually think of it. I mean I’m not very fond of Darjeeling, they just don’t appeal to me that much, and I have little experience with Ceylon and most of that was kind of forgettable, so…
I think it’s mostly in the Ceylon end of the spectrum, though. That base note of malty strength is really coming through a lot all the time and that note is pretty good. Very sweet for something completely unsweetened, and it leaves an aftertaste which is long and thick and a little bit sticky.
This works well as a morning tea indeed, and if one was the sort to take tea with a bit of milk, I expect this would handle the addition wonderfully.
I feel a bit like this whole post is a list of teas that the Moz is kind of like, only not…
I have decided that this week is sample finishing week. Seven days, seven samples. (At least)
I haven’t the foggiest where this one came from, and I’ve had it for a while. One of those that at first are standing around because I haven’t got to that one yet, or I wasn’t in the mood for something new or whatever other reason, and after a while it’s standing there untried but becoming more and more invisible, because I’ve simply stopped looking it it. The tin is familiar, it no longer stands out as something new and untested.
Therefore, it seemed a good place to start today. The only thing I know about it is that one of you lot must have sent it to me.
The leaves are funny! They’re twisted into these long spear-like shapes, almost two centimeters long! I dithered a bit on how to brew it and how many of those spears would constitute my normal teaspoon-measured amount. Eventually I just gave up and used ALL the leaf, less water and a start steep of 30 seconds. That takes care of that problem. I also couldn’t work out if it was a green or a green type oolong. On Steepster it’s listed as a green tea, but on the tin whoever it was of you wrote green/oolong. So what temperature to use? Again, I compromised and chose the temperature in the middle of the two. Ha, you can’t fool me, Blink Bonnie!
The result is an amber coloured cup of tea that smells remarkably sweet. It has that honey-y, sugar-y sort of aroma that I’ve found really enjoyable in other teas. It’s not quite the same as those, but it’s definitely leaning in that direction. There is also an additional note to the aroma here which strikes me as peculiarly bready. So honey, sugar and bread. Is this a cup of tea or is it a liquid cake?
Since I’ve had this for so long and never tried it, I had some thoughts as to how much the leaves had faded. Especially when doing these short steeping things, how much of the flavour would have been lost? I honestly wasn’t expecting to find all that much when tasting this one. Unfortunately I think it has faded some, because I’m getting most of the flavour just on the swallow and in the aftertaste.
What I’m getting there is surprisingly milky. It reminds me a little of milk oolongs, only not as creamy as them. It’s quite sweet and completely contrary to the aroma, the main flavour note here is something kind of vegetal as well as a sort of dark nutty note that makes me decide that I think this is more oolong than green.
It’s hard for me to really get any closer than this. It’s a shame that I didn’t try this one sooner, becuase I rather suspect I may have missed out a bit. On the other hand, although my primary suspicion for the very subtle flavour here is the fading of the leaves with age, I can’t be entirely certain that this is not actually supposed to be this way. A bit vague and fleeting rather than full and flavoursome. Some teas are meant to be that way, and they tend not impress me much, if at all.
This means that the full flavour experience here could have been really high or really mediocre (according to my preferences) and I haven’t the first clue which end of the scale it’s actually supposed to be at. Therefore we are placing it squarely in the middle with a good 70-ish points.