1317 Tasting Notes
EMPTY THAT B…eh, you know the drill at this point. I’m emptying the sample box and in general trying to drink the stash down. All the way down. Ish.
Therefore I have recently placed another Le Palais des Thes order. :D This one is just a stocking up on some favourites, though. The boyfriend has fallen head over heels for the Tigger Tea and had asked me a few times if I had ordered more yet as the pouch is close to empty. I hadn’t because technically I’m not allowed to buy anything until after the wedding. Plus, the whole drinking down thing. But I caved and got him some more Tigger, and while I was at it stocked up on the four red fruits, foret noir and toffee as well. The toffee is nearly gone too, and I’m not quite finished with that one yet. Only got one new thing and that was a rooibos in the spirit of flavoured rooibos exploration, so I thought that almost didn’t count.
Anyway, this doesn’t mean that we’re not still going to make some drastic reductions here.
So. This one came from Spoonvonstrup as well. It almost looks like a theme, but that’s because that package contained primarily black teas, and I’m just in a black tea sort of mood at the moment. Also, those are the easiest ones to drink for me, as it’s my preferred type.
The aroma is really nice. It’s grainy and cocoa-y and rather sweet. I don’t know squat about this tea, but it smells kind of Fujian-y. Now, that’s quite promising, indeed. There’s also something vaguely red berry-y about this aroma. I’m put in mind of currants and not too sweet cherries when I smell this, but it’s ever so vague.
Now, that was an odd flavour. Hmm. Strange. Unexpected. Kind of straw-like without being Yunnan-y. That’s new! It tastes brightly orange, this one, as in the colour, not the fruit. I think it’s that almost-straw that does it along with a touch of something a bit wood-y.
On closer inspection, I find a lot of that cocoa note in the flavour as well as a lot of grain. In spite of the above mysteriousness, it has totally retained that Fujian-ness in the flavour. That, in this case, isn’t particularly interesting though.
I know; I said it.
Yeah, I’m shocked too, Steepsterites.
But really, the intersting thing about this flavour in this particular tea, apart from having a lot of nommy Fujian-ness, is that note of red berry from the aroma. It’s still here! It’s tart and juicy and juuuuust underneath everything else. I think it’s more currrants than anything else at this point, though, but I’m totally associating it with biting a juicy berry.
Now Spoonvonstrup, if you can weigh in with an origin confirmation on this one, I should be grateful. Fujian or thereabouts is my immediate guess.
EMPTY THAT BOX!
This is a green blend which Cteresa has shared with me. I had received a sample from Le Palais des Thes of a very similar blend containing green tea, apple, almonds, cinnamon and ginger. I thought the ginger in that one was overpowering all the other ingredients and rather ruining the experience for me. I don’t care for ginger. This blend which Cteresa shared with me has all of the same ingredients except ginger, so she offered to share so I could compare them. This also gave her the opportunity to share a number of other Yumchaa teas with me, because I had been contemplating an order from them. Sadly I haven’t really been completely overwhelmed with the ones I thought I would like so far, but I still have a few to try out, so I’m not discouraged.
Anyway, this particular one was the primary reason for her to send me that little care package, and now it’s turn has come. The company description of it compares it to apple crumble which, with these ingredients? I can totally see!
Let’s just get one thing straight here.
I. Love. Crumbles.
Based on this and the company descriptions? My expectations are positively soaring on this one.
The aroma is definitely not disappointing. It has a whole lot of apple in it along with a smidgeon of cinnamon around the edges. It smells very sweet as well, which I attribute to the almonds. Almonds, to me, taste quite sweet, especially when they’ve been chopped and cooked in some way. There may be some of the base tea shining through as well, but it seems all tangled up in the apple, so it’s difficult for me to tell whether it’s all flavouring or if some of it is naturally occurring.
The base tea is very strong in the flavour, however, surprising me with an unexpected note of leafy greens. Spinach perhaps, or rocket salad. At first it came with a stab of disappointment because it made me think that the flavouring would be weak and undetectable.
My fears were soon abated because barely had I thought the thought before the apple wormed it’s way in underneath with a slightly tangy note. Unmistakably fruity.
This then made me aware of the cinnamon which, if you think of the flavour experience as a circle with the most prominent notes in the center, keeps along the edges of the flavour. Discreet and out of the way, but definitely very present.
The almond element is very elusive though, but I think I caught a glimpse of it just as I swallowed and in the aftertaste.
Apple crumble? Yes, I can totally see that connection.
Better than the ginger-y LPdT blend? Immensely so.
This blend was like made for me, or something!
EMPTY THAT BOX!
I got this one as a free sample with an ACP order. They’ve started doing that, I’ve noticed, tossing in one of their satchets as a free giftie. I’m just hoping that eventually they’ll put one in that isn’t already a confirmed dislike for me. With this one it was the ginger. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really like ginger at all, so I needed to get this one out fo the way some other way. It seemed a good candidate for a cold brew so that’s what I did.
The citrus is coming out very nicely this way, both in aroma and flavour, where the ginger is somewhat more to the background. Now THIS I like! The ginger adds sensation mroe than flavour, really. It actually tastes a bit like a fizzy lemonade that’s gone flat. That’s not really a bad thing if you ask me.
A surprising like on this one!
EMPTY THAT BOX!
This one came from Ninavampi because I was interested in trying the DavidsTEA vanilla oolong. She didn’t have that, but she offered this and I said yes please.
I’ve elaborated on what constitutes the Perfect Vanilla before, so I shan’t bother to do it again. I can’t be bothered to write all that, but if you really want to know I’m sure I could probably dig out the post in question from the depths of my account.
This one is getting there on the aroma. It’s sweetly vanilla, and quite strong too. There is a coconut-y aspect to the vanilla as well, which I tend to quite enjoy. It reminds me of a specific sort of coconut and licorice sweets, which bizarrely haven’t actually got anything to do with vanilla at all. There’s is an earthy, slightly sharp note underneath as well, which I expect is from the oolong base. That sharpness adds to the aforementioned sweets association which definitely is not a bad thing. At this point I’m making a mental note to check if this tea is available from Adagio’s European site. You know, just in case. :)
But! Aroma is just part of it. It’s the flavour that’s actually the really important bit. The vanilla flavour here is a bit milky and not as strong as in the aroma. This is a big big shame! The aroma gave me some rather high hopes, but the flavour is just not quite up to it.
The oolong base however is shining through nicely. With the flavouring so small, that’s not really difficult either, is it? It tastes a bit woody and quite toasty, and there is a semi-caramel-y note in there somewhere. I wonder exactly what sort of oolong is the base of this. It reminds me a little of a toastier version of the Dan Cong I had the other day, although it would probably be rather a shame to start adding flavouring to that one. Hey, here’s a sudden thought! Has anybody ever heard of a caramel flavoured oolong? Wouldn’t that be interesting?
Anyway, this particular base. If it had been more fiercely flavoured I think this could be really good. If it had come out as much in the flavour as much as it does in the aroma, I could really really have had a winner here. Alas…
Close, Adagio. Close indeed.
(On an end note, I’m still interested in trying the DavidsTea vanilla oolong, so if anybody have some lying around that they want to get rid of, I’ll happily take it off your hands. )
EMPTY THAT BOX!
Here’s another one from Spoonvonstrup. Presumably this is also a type of Lapsang Souchong, because when I looked the name up in the Steepster database, lots of LS suggestions came up.
Now, this one also smells a little Yunnan-y, like those last two samples of JJM, but it’s not as strong in this one. There is the honey-y note to it and quite a fair bit of grain, but I’m not finding more than a smattering of the hay-y note. It’s that hay in particular that I tend to find less interesting in Yunnans. It does have a bit of a cocoa-y note to it, though, which reminds me of those black tea pearls.
As for the flavour, it’s a bit like that JJM from yesterday. It’s got a two-step flavour profile with first something extremely milky tasting and then pepper-y, smoky notes showing up later. This one is less of a punch in the face though, the second step flavours gradually taking over the first step. I like that.
It also still isn’t exhibiting any of that very Yunnan-y hay-y notes. A little bit perhaps, but not to any large degree at all. What is there of it, I find to be a tolerable level as it isn’t overshadowing everything else. As long as it’s not the primary flavour, I can deal with it. Unfortunately with Yunnans, it does tend to be the primary flavour more often than not.
The aroma also spoke of grain and a smidge of cocoa, and while I do find some grain in this, I can’t locate any of the cocoa. Oh well. I think for my particular tastes, grain would be more important anyway. I consider cocoa to be more of a top note and I really like it when a black tea has a good substatial grainy element to it.
All in all, I’m finding this one quite enjoyable!
EMPTY THAT BOX!
Another JJM from Spoonvonstrup, this one with a brand name. Like the last one I had, this one is a Yunnan one, so I’ll be honest and say I’m nursing any great expectations, considering the regional differences I noticed between the last one and the others.
Now, before we go on, I should point out that the cup had started to cool a bit by the time I started it. See the boyfriend made it for me, and then I got distracted by Luna who purred so prettily. It’s still warm though, now that I’ve torn myself away from the furry purry cuteness.
The aroma has that strong honey-y note that the last one had as well, supporting the Yunnan origin theory of the last one. This one also has a modicum of grain, though, which the last one didn’t so that’s a plus point, definitely.
The flavour is a two-step one. First it’s one thing, and then it completely changes character and becomes something else. Here we have first a milky and slightly honey sweet phase, and then there is the second step with a pepper-y smoky sort of note. That second step is strong. With the mildness of the first step, it feels like being ambushed when the second step kicks in. Towards the end of the sip, the second step lights up a bit, revealing a slightly grainy note underneath, but it’s not much. Or, it’s not enough that it truly comes through the pepper-y smoke.
Several people have mentioned associations to bread with this one, and I’m sorry to say I really can’t see that. In the veeeeeeery beginning of the first step of the flavour maybe but not so much that I’m really convinced. To me that comes in more as tasting like the tea has had milk added to it.
I have to say, I still prefer the more grainy, darker tasting Fujian-y ones over these Yunnan-y ones. I will agree with Verdant Tea’s description of it as tasting almost sunny, but sunny is just not what I’m looking for.
EMPTY THAT BOX!
Here’s another Jin Jun Mei from Spoonvonstrup. It came out of a small ziplock bag and the leaves were all golden looking. I’m not going to go with a whole lot of intro on this here, and I’m sure you’ll all appreciate me skipping straight ahead to the moment where I poured water on the leaves.
Because that’s when I was struck by a strong smell of honey. It was just for a moment, but it was definitely honey. Like sticking your nose in a honey jar and inhaling deeply, that’s how strong it was. Intersting. So far we’ve had two which were grain-y and a bit malty, one which was cocoa-y and now one with a honeyed streak. The honey note quickly faded again, though and I’m left with something sweet and grainy smelling. Reminiscent of those first two JJMs in the red wrappers, although I would still say this is more honey-y sweet than malt-y sweet.
The same goes for the flavour. Kind of grain-y but with a strong note of honey sweetness. Strangely enough it makes me think that I’m sure I’ve had this before. There’s something very familiar indeed about this flavour, and I don’t think it’s because it’s my fourth JJM in a relatively short time. My memory of having had this before seems older than that.
It tastes kind of Yunnan-y although not all out hay-y, and it’s more smooth than the others I’ve tried. Still with some smoke on the tail end but nothing overwhelming. Yunnan-y? Heeeeeeeey waidaminnit! I thought JJM was supposed to be a sub-type of LS! LS originates in Fujian if memory serves me right. What’s going on? squints at cup I’ve always thought of these as Fujian-y, but one of my other samples of JJM clearly states Yunnan JJM on it. So how can the same tea be produced in two such vastly different regions? Is it something to do with cultivars?
If it’s cultivars, I’ve changed my mind. Don’t explain. That stuff is way over my head, just say it’s cultivars or something.
Anyway, I suspect this particular sample has a Yunnan originan as well, based on the very Yunnan-y flavour. That honey-y note is really tipping it off. It’s one step away from having that sweet hay note as well, although were not quite there yet. All in all, while I do quite like that honey note, because it’s fun and interesting and not like the teas I normally drink, I do still prefer non-Yunnan-y samples over this one.
This teaches me that while this is still a type to look out for, I have to pay attention to origin of it as well.
EMPTY THAT BOX! Okay, this one isn’t at all used up because it’s a large sample. But if I have a large sample that I decide I don’t like, I have given myself permission to not hope that I change my mind and just toss it. Packrat-ing should only be taken so far.
This is one of those really old ones, but I do know who sent me this. It came from Pamela Dax Dean and I know this because it’s her own blend, so it’s the most likely source. It’s a blend of black tea and rooibos and I saw some kind of dried fruit bit in it, and it’s been lying around for ages because of the rooibos. It looks like at least a fifty fifty mix of tea and rooibos and I had to give the sample bag a real good shake to get them properly remixed again.
Since we have recently discovered that I can actually tolerate flavoured rooibos a lot better than I thought, and in some instances have even come to enjoy it, I thought it was time to give this one a go. Enough with the fear, it’s just a blended tea. Empty that box! and all that.
I have to say I don’t find the aroma super-encouraging. It’s definitely very lychee-ish, but I’m not sure I think lychee and rooibos are really two aromas that suits one another all that well. The result is somewhat sour to me. There’s also something prickly in here that reminds me to a disturbing degree of ginger. Hopefully that’s a coincidence, because ginger is one of those things that I can’t really have. It’s fine in food because it’s rarely a strong flavour in food, but in drink it usually is. At least in my experience.
GAH! I’d forgotten it was the first wednesday in May and warning-siren testing time! I do this every year! My little heart is all a-quiver. Of course they started the siren just as I was sipping too.
Anyway, to my pleasant surprise, while I do find the flavour ginger-y, I don’t find it SUPER-ginger-y. Quite spicy, but not grimace-inducing. I can also pick up that lychee, but the mixed base of rooibos and black tea is eluding me somewhat. It’s only when I’m looking specifically for it. Mostly it’s rooibos which adds to the spicyness, and then a touch of black tea later on and towards the end of the sip adding a foundation note to the mix.
I don’t know. I don’t dislike it, so there’s no need to toss it. I’m just not all that fond of it either. Middle of the scale-ish, this one. Sorry, Pamela
I’m taking a leaf out of SimplyJenW’s book and making an effort to reduce the number of samples in my possession. Some of them are getting pretty old and some of the others will get old and forgotten if we don’t do something about it. So let’s EMPTY THAT BOX!
Then it took me another couple of minutes of catching up on Steepster and thinking about the ETB project before I realised that there wasn’t actually anything stopping me from doing something about it right now. I’m slow this morning.
Feeling inspired for a JJM, I picked another one out of the lot that Spoonvonstrup sent me, as these are some samples that I would be really sorry to see get old and forgotten. This tea seems very me and I would like to actually explore it while I can remember it. The reason I don’t just do that without having to occassionally force myself, is that I’m just so easily distracted and then it’s just easier to reach for the tins on the shelf. It means a lot less agonizing over which tea to choose while the kettle is boiling for the third time, because it got cold while I pondered this very important question.
Maybe I should set up some rules for EMPTYING THAT BOX! or something. Later.
Anyway, this particular Jin Jun Mei came out of an orange wrapper and a small amount of the contents had been used before I got it. A very small amount it must be because there’s still loads of leaf here.
While it was steeping, it had a very chocolate-y note to it. It wasn’t one I sat here searching for; it was simply making it’s way from the pot to my nose all by itself. This had me curiously sniffing at the wet leaf after emptying the pot, but there was nothing particularly chocolate-y about that. Some cocoa yes, the dark stuff used in baking, but also grain and something kind of a bit spicy and wood-y. In the actual cup itself, it’s like we’ve got the reverse, the wet leaf being the photo negative or something. A whole lot of cocoa and then the grain and spice underneath laying down the foundation of the aroma.
Did I find all this cocoa in the other JJMs? I can’t remember.
So due to the aroma, I rather expect the flavour to be similar. That’s not a lot to ask, is it? I mean, that’s not unreasonable. Gosh, was I in for a surprise. It tastes nothing like chocolate or cocoa or anything sweetie-like. Rather than that it’s kind of harsh and a bit gritty. There’s a good amount of smoke on it and it’s somewhat astringent, so it gets really prickly. Underneath that there is a note which – oh hey, look! Now that I look closer, this note is actually remarkably cocoa-y. Good, I did think it was odd that the aroma of it should be so strong only to not have it show up in the flavour. So first smoke, then a quick but strong smidge of cocoa and here come’s the grainyness that I knew had to be in here. The grain is also the note that continues into the aftertaste along with most of the smoke, definitely leaving me with an LS-y impression.
I feel like this is the JJM out of Spoonvonstrup’s lot that I’ve tried so far that has been the most complex tasting one, and also the one that best showed the relationship between JJM and LS. It’s also definitely the harshest, I think, and although this one is very nice on it’s own, seen in the context of the other JJM’s, I think I preferred the other two I tried so far over this one. Doesn’t mean I would turn this one down another time, though.
Apparently the last time I had this I wrote that it had, and I quote; sort of a proto-caramel. A caramel stem cell flavour, sort of. end quote.
I mean, I get the caramel-y flavour, but ‘caramel stem cell’??? What was going on in my head that day?
Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to say. All I wanted to say was that I’m sipping a large mug of this while reading Stone Soup comic strips, and sometimes a good tea is just ten times better when it isn’t analysed to bits.