1196 Tasting Notes
I’m sorry to say that I thought I had already posted about this one, so when I used the last of the leaves this morning to make a cup for me and my better half, I was not paying too much attention to what I was drinking. This is particularly bad because this is one that Ssajami shared with me, and I’m not happy that I can’t write a proper post about it.
So since I can’t give a detailed review of it, I can at least say that there was nothing about it that surprised me. No unusual flavours that made it particularly good or ruined the LS experience.
It was just a nice, smoky tea which made for a very pleasant morning cup. Nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to LS’s but it seemed a good representation fo LS as a type. Very nice.
(I promise to pay more attention in the future)
(Note, this is not so much a post about the way this tea is to drink (awesomesauce) as it is a post about the thought processes it gave me this morning. Feel free to skip the following ramblings)
Om nom nom nom! I love this tea and I could probably buy it again.
Shang Tea gave me excellent customer service the one time I ordered from them and earlier still than that when I had a question. But it just strikes me as so backwards and impractical when I as an international customer have to contact them first by email and then email my order in. At least that’s how I did it the first time, I don’t know if it would still be that way but I have to assume it would. I know it’s silly if that’s how it works for international customers, but I still feeling like I’m imposing.
And not only that, but then I get to cross my fingers that Customs don’t decide to charge me for the package. I realise that they might as well do that on stuff shipped from China, but it has just never happened to me with any other mail than stuff coming from the US. I suspect they’re checking US packages more diligently because people are far more likely to do their internet shopping from the US than from China. Last time I got charged was a package from 52teas with all of three pouches in it. BAM! That tea was suddenly twice as expensive.
So all in all, I’ve got a few American tea shops that I can order from, but I always do it with my hopes up and my fingers crossed… I hope the 52teas Christmas box will make it through the eye of the needle. I’m trying again this year in spite of Danish Postal Service’s major cock-ups last year. And that’s cock-ups plural. Yes, they did the same idiotic thing twice with the same package. And lost one other package and misplaced another one too while they were at it.
So yeah, I’ll be on the lookout for some sort of alternative. To that end I was checking TeaSpring, as I thought they would probably be my most likely candidate of delivering something similar. No such luck, although I have made a note of a few others that caught my interest.
After that I inadvertantly wound up on Nothing But Tea’s website where I accidentally put something in the basket (seriously, I didn’t meant to initially), and then while I was at it anyway, I figured I might as well continue.
So I’ve just placed a rather substantial order that I was not even allowed to make yet (still have one tin and five samples to go). It just happened, I don’t know how! Instead I shall be saving my TeaSpring order for when the requirements of decupboarding have been met.
I think it’s something in the tea that inspired me to do that. I think it’s that thick honeyed sugary note that tastes like the top of a creme brulee that does it. I’ll do anything for a nommy dessert. Nearly.
In the meantime, suggestions for similar alternatives are appreciated. Don’t worry about whether or not the brand is available to me, I’ll figure that out myself. I know some brands that aren’t, but there are many I’ve never checked.
Good morning Steepsterites,
This fine Saturday we are starting out with a gift from Dinosara and it’s another one of those Russian Roulette Brewings. Steep first, look it up second. Consequently my intuition landed me in a spot of trouble as it made me pick a tea which isn’t really a breakfast-suitable tea at all. At least, I would have been more likely to have it in the afternoon.
I was rescued, however, by that fact that once I tasted it, it didn’t seem quite so anachronistic at all. For some reason a tea with fruit and almonds in it manages to work quite well with our ritual weekend pancakes with apple bits in.
The aroma is largely almonds, I think, and then the cranberry underneath that adding a non-descript mahogany coloured fruity aspect to it. Bear in mind though that this is an almond aroma. It does not in any way, shape or form resemble marzipan, for which I am grateful. (I love marzipan, as well as just about any other type of confectionary (nearly) that you can think off, but I rather doubt it would have worked in this particular instance.)
This is one of those tea that does that funny switcheroo thing as it cools down, too. Now that I’m halfway through the cup and it’s heading towards Lukewarm Lane, it’s the cranberries who’s doing the driving and the almonds relocated to the backseat. I quite like it when a flavoured tea does that. It’s like you get the best of both, even if one does wish it could do so while the tea was still slightly warmer.
And that’s just the aroma.
In the flavour (which is a muddly orange, I think because of the almonds) it’s rather more even. I can find almonds and cranberries with equal ease, but I can’t really find the tea base very easily. Can’t be that interesting then, can it?
It’s very smooth and extremely well flavoured. Slightly heavy and super suitable for autumn. Thank you hugely, Dinosara! This was awesome!
Dinosara shared this one with me, and it’s a blind steeping in the sense that I made it first and looked it up to see what was in it after. I’m living dangerously, me! Turns out it was a vanilla flavoured black. You know, I have a suspicion that the lovely Dinosara has been paying attention to my quest for the perfect vanilla black… I must say I whole heartedly approve of this. (It’s such a nommy quest too, because all the ones I’ve been trying have been really good, but just not quite there yet.)
It smells very sweet and vanilla-y. Almost ever so slightly too sweet, but not quite into cloying territory yet. It’s just right on the border of being a bit much. Additionally there is a note of something kind of honey-y and nutty or perhaps more sort of fudge-y or caramel-y. That all sounds very awesome, but somehow it’s just not quite my perfect vanilla black perfect aroma. It lacks a bit of roughness. A bit of that leather-y pod-feeling to it. This all smells too sweet and adorable, and I want my vanilla black to be a bit more of a villain, really.
The flavour is strongly vanilla, but not the honey-y sweet fudge-y flavour from the aroma. This is more in the way of the perfect vanilla black, although still not quite there yet. It has that bit of roughness to it, and it is one of those that taste like tea primarily and the flavouring secondarily and not the other way around. It just doesn’t have that pseudo-coconut-y not that I like in a vanilla black. If it had that, we would be well on our way towards perfection, but I have come to realise that this note is bloody hard to find.
Cake and tea. This is fodder for the writing mind. (Probably, to be honest, especially cake…)
This one was shared with me by Dinosara and an excellent choice for sharing it was too. Vanilla blacks have turned into something of an obsession for me. I am searching for the perfect vanilla flavoured black, seeing as I can’t apparently get the actually perfect vanilla black that Chi of Tea sold. That one was so awesome and just right in every way.
This one has bits of vanilla pod in it, which is a plus. I don’t care if they only impart very little actual flavour, they have a huge significance aesthetically. The perfect vanilla flavoured tea much have them, I think. It also, according to Upton’s information, has artificial flavouring. I’m less keen on that. The perfect vanilla black should be flavoured with real vanilla. Not an artificial approximation of vanilla.
(Unless by artificial flavouring they mean giving the tea a flavour which it does not have naturally, in which case it’s an entirely different crate of fish. I don’t consider this very likely though…)
The aroma is strong on the vanilla notes. A sweet caramel-y vanilla, hanging heavily over the surface of the tea itself. It smells right, I have to say. It smells like my memory of the aroma of the aforementioned Perfect But Unavailable vanilla black, except it lacks the note reminding me of coconut which in turn reminded me of a specific sort of licorice sweets. I don’t get that whole association chain here. Still, it’s close enough that I would say the prospects of finding the perfect vanilla tea is looking quite good at the moment.
The flavour does not hit you in the face with vanilla. It’s definitely there, but this is tea-flavoured tea which ALSO tastes like vanilla. Not just tea that tastes like vanilla, the end. That’s a mark in the positive column, as is the fact that while it is somewhat modest and doesn’t overpower the base, the vanilla is easily detectable.
It has a dry feeling to it, though. It’s not astringent as such, but it is a dry sort of flavour (also, it’s dark brown. Been a while since I had a synesthesia inducing tea, actually) and this then led me to actually look up taste-colour synesthesia, which didn’t seem to yield very many useful results. Maybe it’s not a very common type, and I’ve only got it in a mild form, I think, due to how it doesn’t always work. No matter what,
’¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨4yurjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjh (Luna helping me type there. I choose to share the antics of my cats rather than deleting them) it caused me to forget about the tea which is now lukewarm.
So anyway, it tastes dark brown, which is more the colour of black tea, seeing as vanilla on it’s own has more greyish sort of flavour. That dry flavour that caused that whole side-tracking thing with the synesthesia is not really something I think would be part of the perfect vanilla tea. It’s distracting, and for that I will say that this is not the perfect vanilla tea either, although a very good candidate indeed. If the dry note had not been quite so strong, it would have been a different matter entirely. Maybe also with a touch of that coconut-y note as well. Then it would have been worth at least ten more points.
It is November. NaNoWriMo is upon us. Well, it’s upon me anyway. (I am Angrboda there also if any of my other Steepsterites are NaNoing and would like a writing buddy)
So I’ve made me a cup of writing tea. Or cooking tea as it turned out, but still. This is one that ssajami shared with me and it’s a quite interesting tea. I encourage all to go and have a look at JK Tea Shop’s description of it (available here on Steepster), because I don’t think I can explain it in my own words. Basically it’s a white tea that isn’t a white tea. Go read it for yourself.
So consequently, I’m not at all sure what to expect from it. In my head I want to liken it to Bai Mu Dan for some reason. Probably only because it has ‘bai’ in the name, which is a rather flimsy reason for association, but such are the inner workings of the human brain. It doesn’t come out smelling anything at all like BMD, though. In fact, it has a rather strong note of honey. Rich, luxurious honey bought directly from the farmer and hasn’t spent three months on a supermarket shelf first. I can almost see the bee in my inner eye.
The flavour is twofold. There is a top note which strikes me as weak and watery and then there is a bottom note where all the flavour is. It feels unbelievably thick too. Like there’s something in it making it ever so slightly viscous. At first I found this a little unpleasant but actually it seems to enhance the flavour. The flavour seems more concentrated in each sip, as compared to just about most anything else ever to have come out of my teapot.
Given it’s thin and watery nature, there is no reason to dwell on the top-note. The lower note, the one with all the flavour in it, is a different matter. It’s one thing to say it holds the flavour and it feels like it’s concentrated, but what does it actually taste like? Well, dear readers. Good bloody question!
It tastes like tea. It actually tastes like a cheap bagged version of English Breakfast that I used to have. I think it was from Pickwick. A note of honey and an unmistakable flavour of default tea. Bear in mind, please, that I actually used to really rather like this EB it reminds me of. I really enjoyed that honey note in it and the way it tasted almost like there was a teensy bit of milk in it. It’s a bit woody in flavour as well and it tastes a bit toasted.
I can see why the comparison to white tea as the closest thing in type is still not quite satisfactory. It doesn’t taste anything at all like something I would suspect of being white. If anything it tastes more like an oolong on the darker end of the spectrum, which I find slightly bizarre all things considered.
What an interesting tea!
This is one that Dinosara shared with me in our recent trade. It was an amount that just fit the size of the pot that I use when sharing with the boyfriend, and as he tends to like ‘black and fruity’ it was also an obvious candidate for sharing.
So I did.
I can smell the mango in the aroma, but there’s something else in there as well which smells sort of spicy and … something! I know I know that smell, but I can’t for the life of me put my finger on what it is. I suspect it probably has something to do with the petals of something or other in the leaves. I asked the boyfriend and he suggested it smelled a bit like mulled wine, possibly cloves. That could be it, but I’m not sure.
That thing I can’t remember is in the flavour as well. Right at first for a brief moment, and then it sort of turns into a flavour of sunflower seeds and finally mango. The mango is most prominent on the aftertaste, but it’s a very authentic tasting mango. It makes me want to eat one.
It’s very nice, this, and it also earned the boyfriend seal of approval in spite of initially having inspired a bit of ‘meh’ in him when told what it was. Personally, though, I could have lived without the funky sunflower seed flavour…
Look at me with my posting! I’m sharp and kicking bottom. It’s 1pm and I’m steeping this as my fourth cup today. I shall be in a constant back and forth to the bladder unloading station for the rest of the day, I expect.
This one came to me from ssajami and I have high expectations of it. It’s a Keemun, how could I not? It smells exactly like one too. Grainy and sort of pseudo-smoky with a touch of something floral. And also quite sweet and caramel-y. This is a very good smell, this smell that I’m smelling! So rich and creamy and sweet, it reminds me a little of creme brulee, although not as much as the Clear Jade Orchid oolong from Shang Tea does. (That one is crazy creme brulee-y!)
Gosh, it’s very sweet in flavour as well! There was one note in there; I caught a whiff of it for a split-second just before swallowing and it was pure sugar. After just this one sip there’s a feeling of aftertaste expanding in the mouth like an explosion. It starts at the taste buds and then grows to encompass the entire mouth until it feels almost as if the cavity itself is really getting bigger.
Okay, that description was mildly icky, but I hope you get what I mean here. I do hope you have all had at some point in your life a tea with an aftertaste that does this. It’s so… strange and weird and good.
Anyway, back to the flavour. It’s a quite smooth tea with an almost milky feel and very sweet as well. Quite akin to caramel but not 100% there. Not yet. Like the flavour nuance just before caramel.
There isn’t much in the way of grain-y flavours, though. I’m sort of missing a bit of rye bread-y bite to it, and the absense of that gives the impression of a very mild tea. A bit shy. I should have liked it to have a little more oomph to it.
If it had had the grainy notes, I could have gone on and on about that and about the comparison to proper danish rye bread and how that differs from the stuff most of the rest of the world calls rye bread, and the pros and cons of same. As it isn’t really there, it’s rather difficult to say anything about it.
That sweetness, however, that is spectacular and it’s worth every single point here. Not a favourite Keemun for me at all, it’s far too well-behaved, but definitely not a bad one either.
The sweet Dinosara sent me a swap package which I received on Monday. At first I was all excited and dithering about where to begin, but as I was feeling decidedly under the weather (what a great timing to receive care-mail!), attempting to choose between new teas and the very idea of posting about it in any sort of useful way turned out to be rather too much for my meagre brain capacity to handle. In the end I turned towards the tried, tested and true comfort teas (Kusmi’s Caramel and ditto Four Red Fruits, if you’re curious. Seperately, mind). Untill this morning.
I’m slowly recharging my batteries, but I’m still not the brightest bulb in box. Yesterday, for example, someone told me they were a ‘textbook asthmatic’ and my first thought was that she was allergic to textbooks. Yes. I know. Consequently choosing between new things is obviously still rather difficult, so I went for the sample of LS, because I know LS. I know what I like in an LS and I know what to expect from one. It seemed the simplest solution for the moment.
The sample pouch contained exactly precisely just about my preferred amount of leaf for a small pot. How excellent. I tried smelling the dry leaf in the pouch, but I couldn’t really get anything from it. There was a sweet note and no smoke at all, which I find somewhat confusing considering what we’re dealing with here. On the other hand, I’m not certain my nose is entirely trustworthy at the moment.
After steeping, it smells grainy and honeyed and with a touch of something that rather reminds me of lingonberry jam. Still no smoke, though. This doesn’t smell like a standard LS at all. Where is the smoke??? It’s missing; it’s not there! It is being advertised to me as smoky, and I wants it!
But then again, the trustworthyness of my nose is somewhat in question… I hope that’s why I can’t find the smoke. Although, you would think that smoke should be the one thing I could find…
squints at cup
One last chance to deliver some proper smokyness. Flavour. Okay, yes, the flavour has some trace amount of smoke, but not nearly strong enough that I think DeRen can really get away with saying it has ‘smoked aroma’ at all, be it ever so gentle. I believe there’s a distinct difference between ‘gentle’ and ‘barely there’.
The flavour that we have left reminds me mostly of a sort of mix between Bai Lin and Tan Yang. Something sort of inbetween those two. It’s quite grainy like the Bai Lin, but doesn’t have the orange-y note, and it’s quite fruity and cocoa-y like the Tan Yang, but without (infamously) the pseudo-smoke. It does however have that Fujian-ness about it that makes it so easy to recognise. Full and strong and very, very pleasant.
Yes, this has a ton of qualities that I really like. It’s a very good representative of my Number One Favourite tea producing area, indeed, but as I am being led to believe that it’s supposed to be smoky and it just isn’t delivering on that count, I’m going to have to dock some points.