1312 Tasting Notes

78

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.

Spoonvonstup

Is there any more of this sample left? I hope you get the chance to give it another go. To be honest, I included this sample with the other JJM’s because I didn’t think any of the other JJM’s were really… that good. This one was included to be the delicious counterpoint to a batch of tea that was not what I usually hope to share. This one was the really good one.

Almost all of the JJM samples I’ve gotten from friends because they’ve been trying to teach me about them and help me fall in love with them, but apart from one small sample I finished, I usually found them to be either astringent and drying in a way that was not acceptable at all for the price-point (at worst) or at best, kind of boring and not convincing me that JJM is something I would want to pursue as a kind of tea that needs to be in my cupboard all the time. So.. all of these samples sitting in a drawer in my house. But then I saw that you’d never tried JJM, and I was sending you tea anyway, and here was this stash of tea. So I sent them to you.
However, I felt pretty terrible to be sending teas that I didn’t love, that were more educational and interesting on an academic/something-to-learn about level rather than an oh-dear-where-have-you-been-all-of-my-life level. If I’m sharing tea, it should be good tea!
I thought: /I don’t want to send a big packet of JJM without having one in there that I was truly excited for you to try/, that I could stand behind and say: “here’s all of this JJM.. but this one is definitely worth drinking and loving.” You just can’t send a sampler without having a great standout example, otherwise you’ll make people think that this kind of tea just isn’t really worth all that it says it is.
But then I realized that I did have a “JJM” that I loved and was excited for you to try: this one.
So here’s my confession: this is the tea I included in your JJM packet to be the shining positive example of something good, something excellent, something that shows that JJM (at least this one) is absolutely worth having in your cupboard. This was the one I included to redeem all of the other samples which are (at least in my opinion and experience), OK.. boring.. just fine.. not as special as their prices and their hype promised. I didn’t want to just send educational theoretical teas. This was the exquisite, just for super-special-fun sample I was quite excited for you to try.

Which is why I am quite sad to see that this initial experience with it wasn’t what I thought I knew it would be for you. I would have bet money on it in a heartbeat! I regret not writing something to the effect of “super-special-awesome! savor this one- it’ll reward you” on the bag so that you could feel a flutter of excitement as the tea was steeping. Instead, it looks like the word “Yunnan” might have given you lower hopes? Factor in a diabolically cute kitten, and there you go.

I feel like I let you down and also let down this fine fine tea by not writing more about it to you before you tried it. I guess I was remembering how the higher expectations with the LaoShan black made you initially uneasy, and I didn’t want to jinx anything by letting on too much how I was looking forward to you trying this.

I really hope there’s some of this left that you could try again; I don’t have enough to spare of this to resend like I did with the autumn TGY, and because it’s a wild picked beauty, I know that when this batch runs out at Verdant, the next batches will never be exactly the same. It’s the wonderful and terrible thing about wild-pickings.

Either way, your note convinces me that I’ve got to get a real tasting note up for this tea this weekend. And if I send sample batches again, I should be more specific in what I write on samples. Ideally, I’d want to make the tea for you so we could drink and savor together, but better notes might help.

Anyway- if this experience was not as lovely as I know it should be, then it is my fault. Apologies to you, Ang, and apologies to you, Wild Picked Yunnan Jin Jun Mei.

Hope you have fun with the other random blacks (though they are from Yunnan!) and whatever else might have ended up in the package. There were quite a few.

Spoonvonstup

Gah! Wow- I write a lot. It didn’t seem so long when I was typing it.

Angrboda

1. Don’t worry about sending stuff to others that you didn’t particular like. Even if you found something to be absolutely vile, others might have much better luck with it than you, and if they don’t like it either, they can toss it or pass it on. Point is, we try new stuff. :) So don’t feel sorry about adding the others and not feeling they were really up to scratch. I this what I have experienced with them so far is a very good example of others might have better luck. :)

2. In general, I really REALLY need to be in a specific mood to enjoy Yunnan teas, no matter what type. The exception to this is that black pearl type because they rarely actually taste of Yunnan. But for most others, it’s not at all my go-to region. They are interesting, yes, because they are so characteristic, but often I find them way too hay-like, so yeah whenever I’m presented with a known Yunnan tea, I instantly adjust my expectations down a notch. I tend to prefer the more Eastern and South-Eastern parts of China. It’s a learning process, this sort of thing. :) When I AM in the Yunnan mood, I like them a lot more, but I didn’t want to have the samples all lie around and gather dust while I waited for that to happen sometime next year.

3. As for brewing instructions, well… To be completely honest with you, chances are I would have more or less ignored them anyway. I routinely ignore whatever tea shops tell me, because I’ve reached a point where I’ve realised that they way I like it might not fit with the way they like it, and I know how I like it best. I’m especially conditioned to this attitude by AC Perchs who insists on recommending some CRAZY steep times for their stuff. A seven minutes long steep of Lapsang Souchong, for example. I don’t think so! O.o
If it was something super-compeltely new to me, I’ll have a look at instructions and adjust them accordingly, but otherwise I don’t use them. I know other people are very bound by brewing recommendations, though, so they would likely appreciate it.

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drank Jin Jun Mei by Unknown
1312 tasting notes

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.

Points: 70

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43
drank Garnet Sable by Aeon Infusions
1312 tasting notes

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

Azzrian

I put all of those types of teas in a box and pass them onto someone else – that other person may LOVE it :)
I have a decent box going LOL

Angrboda

So… you just throw in some randoms with the other things you’re sharing? That’s a good idea. I think I’ll follow that example. I never thought of keeping them seperately before.

Sara Lynn Paige

Oh my gosh, fire alarms/siren drills are terrifying. I have an irrational fear when it comes to air raid/flood sirens. I can’t stand them, even in movies! =)

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drank Jin Jun Mei by Unknown
1312 tasting notes

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.

Points: 77

Spoonvonstup

How fun! I’m glad I was able to rustle up so many to send your way so you can really get to know the full range of the tea. Getting to know a new tea with a ton of different examples is like taking an intensive language crash course, and it’s m preferred “getting to know you” strategy for kinds I’m unfamiliar with.

Re: bitterness. The heavier astr/bitterness has been pretty common to all but /the/ most expensive JJM’s I’ve tried. Cocoa seems familiar, but I can’t nail it down with certainty. Wish I had kept better (or any) notes on these so I could do a “read along with Angrboda” thing.

Angrboda

That sort of thing would have been easier if we’d had brand names to go by instead of just yellow wrapper, red wrapper, different red wrapper… :) The two red ones I remember as fairly similar, this one was crazy different.

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93
drank Dan Cong Classic by TeaSpring
1312 tasting notes

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.

WTF??? O.O

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.

sip…slurp…ahh!

kOmpir

giggles :)

Spencer

That sounds amazingly delicious. I love Dan Cong, even if it includes proto-caramel-ity.

chadao

Soon we’ll have our first generation of caramel zombies trying to take over the world. Sounds scary and delicious at the same time. I wonder if this tea will provide any immunity. Okay, I’m beginning to sound crazy. I’ll stop talking now.

Missy

The other day on tv I seen that there are zombie apocalypse survival classes in my area. I was rather amused by that.

ashmanra

Have you seen the CDC Zombie Apocalypse guide? LOL! Not kidding. Government document, online.

Missy

haha that is awesome!

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56

Look what I found in my sample box. I didn’t even now I had any puerh at all. Puerh seems to be all sorts of fashionable on Steepster these days, so I figured why not.

I’ve got two of these and no clue where they came from. What I haven’t got is the energy and patience to properly try to gong-fu one, so I’m just doing the regular western steeping, although I did, on a whim because I usually never bother, do a rinse first.

The toucha itself doesn’t have much in the way of aroma, but as soon as it gets wet, there’s lots. And suddenly I get what people mean about ‘fishy smells’. Actually this may not even be the first time I’ve made such a discovery, but it’s been so long since I last had a puerh that I had quite lost the ability to imagine that. This one smells like a fishmonger at the initial contact with water.

After a little while of steeping the fishmonger smell goes away, and now I’ve got something earthy and sweet. I won’t rule out the sweetness being from the vanilla and strawberry concoction I had earlier, but I rinsed both pot and cup, so I don’t think so. It’s not a vanilla-y sweetness anyway. It’s more sort of sugar-y and creamy. A bit like a soft ice cream, really. Well, that was unexpected!

It’s both a disappointment and a relief that it doesn’t actually taste like ice cream. That would have been fun, but bizarre. Oh so bizarre.

It seems I have actually managed to make this cup a wee bit on the strong side, so there is some sort of pepper-y/pseudo-smoke-y prickle on the swallow, as if we’re right on the border of astringency here.

Unfortunately, that is also actually the largest flavour here. First there’s just vaguely flavoured hot water followed by the note of ‘oh, how you mistreat me, you wicked person!’

There’s nothing really earthy, nothing that reminds me of the cowstable (not a bad thing. It’s flavour association rather than just flavour, that one) that I expect from puerh. It makes me feel like it lacks depth somewhat. Perhaps in multiple short steepings that would show itself better, but I feel a bit with puerh that I also do with oolongs; if it can’t present itself nicely in a western style, then it’s not living up to my ideals and tastes.

This one was all aroma and very little flavour. Bit of a disappointment.

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86
drank Blueberry Hill by Yumchaa
1312 tasting notes

This one came from Cteresa and I have to say right out from the beginning that having read the ingredients list, I have very high expectations. Very. High. Expectations. Probably unreasonably high, to be honest, but I can’t help it.

Blueberries, I like those. Rhubarb, a really interesting and seriously underappreciated flavouring opportunity (I’ve only ever seen it in green before) and vanilla. We all know how I feel about vanilla.

Vanilla mixed with other fruit? I do that regularly at home already. It’s particularly good with cranberries (as per my Late Summer Blend from AC Perchs) or other berries. Not so much with citrus. That only works sometimes. (Lemon + blackcurrant, however, is also quite a hit, I think)

Of course, then it also contains peony flowers, and I’m not super pleased with flowery teas, but I have a hope that it will only be floral as a way to accentuate the other flavours.

The aroma is primarily sweet and somewhat floral. The sweetness is somewhat vanilla-y, but it also has a tang of rhubarb to it and a great deal of blueberry. The flowery aspect is clearly detectable but it doesn’t ‘break’ it for me. It’s not strong enough for that at all. Primarily it smells a bit like sweets. Untraditional sweets maybe, but still.

So far so good. All expectations are well and truly intact here. On aroma alone, this gets a fair few points.

Let’s start with the bad and get that over with. Unfortunately, the floral aspect is somewhat stronger on the flavour, although not quite to the point where it gets soap-y or perfume-y. It’s just exactly strong enough to not just be a background player, and I can’t totally ignore it.

That leaves the blueberry, vanilla and rhubarb. There is definitely LOTS of blueberry. It’s very strongly flavoured with berry, this, and I feel the vanilla and rhubarb takes more to the background. It is here we find that accantuation of the flavours, not in the peony. I should really have liked it to be the other way around. I would have liked to have those two flavours stand out a bit more. As it is they merely add a bit of sweetness and touch of tartness. (A rhubarb and vanilla blend alone I suspect might be kind of awesome)

Now the base. This is a Keemun base, and while I wouldn’t be able to tell without knowing this, now that I do, I can find some Keemun-y characteristics in it. Particularly the rye-y notes, but no pseudo-smoke. This makes me wonder if this base is one of those that I would find more floral than smoky, and if it is, I really wish they had left out the peony. A floral Keemun should be plenty floral all by itself. Unless of course it was this precise note they were trying to bring out over the flavouring, which I suppose is possible and makes sense.

Circumstances beyond my control forced me to leave the cup for a little while and when I came back, the tea had gone all lukewarm. I wouldn’t say this was really to its advantage, but it did make me think that this might be a good candidate to try in a cold brew if given another opportunity.

When first I was attempting to make a Yumchaa order, which, due to difficulties with their site, I had this one on the list. Right now I’m not sure if it will be included when I make a second attempt at ordering. I mean, yeah, I find it very enjoyable, but I’m just not entirely certain that I really need more of it now that I’ve tried it.

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91
drank Black Pearl by Mandala Tea
1312 tasting notes

Amusingly, it appears that Arison has somehow pulled it off to follow me twice. I’ve checked, they show up twice on my ‘followed by’ list, and I show up twice on their ‘follows’ list.

So far today has been quite rich. I got sung at first thing in the morning and served breakfast of eggs, toast, mushrooms and baked beans. I’ve received a Harry Potter film (DH pt 1) and the Tintin film on blu-ray and I’ve also got the latest Bruce Springsteen cd, which is very good. I wonder if this is all I’ll get because I’m getting a little concerned that the boyfriend is showing me up on the birthday gift giving scale. (And if he sees this, he’ll probably show up in my room saying “It’s not a competition, you know!”) I’ve also got a card from him, and from his parents and his sister. Those latter two are one with cakes and one with kitties. They know me well already, it would seem! :p

So it appeared to me that a Mystery Tea That I’ve Never Had Before was in order. This one came to me from Spoonvonstrup and I’ve been having a plock of a time working out which part of China it comes from. The company didn’t bother mentioning this in their info. All it said was that it was produced by the same people who also produced one of their other teas, so I had a look at that one. Still no clues about region. Hm. I shall have to suss it out for myself then!

The aroma is sweet, chocolate-y and grainy. Normally this automatically makes me think Fujian, but I think this is a trap. It’s not deep enough, particularly on the grain note, for me to be at all certain. Then there’s another thing, which is a tiny, vague note of straw and a wee bit of pepper. Those are Yunnan give-aways, but they’re not quite strong enough to me to be at all certain of Yunnan either. As I very much doubt it’s a mixture of the two, which would be rather bizarre in this particular context, it has to be one or the other.

Perhaps flavour will give us a clue. At first there’s a strong note of brown sugar in this. That molasses-like strength and depth, it’s very strong here. That note is not one I associate with either type. It’s very good, but it doesn’t really help me work this out.

Next I get that note of straw for a second before it turns into something kind of, but not quite, grainy as the cup cools. That’s a Yunnan-y trait. I’ve never come across that straw-y, hay-y note in anything else than Yunnan. A Fujian tea would have been much stronger on the grain note.

But then there’s there cocoa-y note, which I find to be more Fujian-y than anything else. I may have found that in Yunnan teas before, but it’s not one that stands out in my head as an association to that region.

I don’t know what to make of this. I’m beginning to suspect it’s actually out of an entirely third region. It’s time to go and look for some answers. I know black tea pearls are not that uncommon on Steepster, so I have a look at a few others of different brands. Without exception they are all mentioned as Yunnan teas.

I was close then. This is just not one that is very similar to other teas I’ve had from that province. Your average Yunnan black tea, I tend to find to be a mouthful of hay more often than not, and to drink it requires a very specific sort of mood. This one isn’t like that at all. Yes, it has the straw note in it, but it’s much more subdued, and that makes me like this a whole lot better than my usual impression of Yunnans. I especially enjoyed that brown sugar note. That was right up my alley, that was. I loves me some brown sugar!

Dinosara

Happy birthday!

gmathis

May your day be full of lovely and enjoyable “get-to’s.” (As opposed to gotta-do’s.)

ashmanra

Sounds like a great start to the day! Happy Birthday!

TeaBrat

Have a great birthday!

Bonnie

Many years to you!

Yogini Undefined

Happy Birthday to you! :)

Scott B

Happy Birthday!

Missy

Happy birthday!

Dylan Oxford

Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you!

Ag

Happy birthday!

LadyLondonderry

Happy birthday, Angrboda!

Azzrian

Happy Birthday!! dang we need a page where we post birthdays so we can send sneak surprises!!

kOmpir

Happy birthday to you with best wishes for even better cuppas to come :)

Joshua Smith

Happy birthday!

Ninavampi

Happy Birthday! : )

Charisma

Happy Birthday :)

DaisyChubb

Happy happy birthday! :D!

Indigobloom

Happy happy birthday!!! let there be tea =D

Roughage

Tillykke med fødselsdagen. :-)

Buy the Stars

Ahaha, I hadn’t even noticed that! My miraculous ability to break things on the internet, I suppose. Happy birthday. :)

Lynne-tea

Happy belated Birthday! Great sounding start to it too

Angrboda

Thanks everybody!

Roughage, OMG!!! :D

Daniel Scott

Seems I’m a day late, but happy birthday!

And I love posts like this! I will have to make notes about the tastes you associate with each region and see if I notice them in the future; I definitely haven’t had a Fujian tea yet.

LadyLondonderry

Daniel, you haven’t had a Fujian yet?! ::clutches pearls:: Jeeves, get the young gentleman some Fujian immediately!

Angrboda

Why do I suddenly get the feeling that LadyLondonderry share at least some of my enthusiasm for this region? :p

Daniel, there are only really three regions, where I have specific ideas of what I expect from them, and that’s because I just have the most experience with them. I haven’t really been very good at exploring the rest of China properly, but have been hovering around the three most well known for black tea. Fujian, Yunnan and Keemun.

I tend to think of Fujians as sort of grainy and sort of fruity with a cocoa-y/chocolate-y note to it. And something else which I can’t actually describe much closer than ‘Fujian-ness’. I get mildly synesthetic reactions to flavours sometimes, so Fujian-ness is mostly a mix of seemingly random associations. Not so much a colour that I’ve noticed, but definitely a certain feeling of a depth and darkness and basically pleasure at the same time. It’s my favourite region.

Yunnan is my least favourite of the three, but I’ve had the most experience with golden yunnans, which I have to be in the mood for in order to drink. They have a strong note of hay and straw for me. Some think they tend to be pepper-y, others think they tend to be smoky in flavour. I started out in the smoky camp but have landed more or less in the middle of the scale now. Sometimes they’re one, sometimes they’re the other. I tend to prefer the smokier end.

Keemun is another favourite tea type for me, but I haven’t found the perfect one yet. These have a very grainy flavour profile, reminding me strongly of freshly baked proper Danish rye bread. The sort you know in North America? That’s not it. Danish rye bread is dark and strong and eaten in thin slices. It seems that people who didn’t grow up on it, often doesn’t seem to like it much. My boyfriend is definitely not a fan. Anyway, like with Yunnans, Keemuns can have two faces. Either they’re very floral tasting or, again, smoky. I’ve noticed that the higher grade of Keemun I seem to try, the more likely they are to be floral, and I really prefer the more smoky ones, so I tend to go for the cheaper end Keemuns when shopping.

Spoonvonstup

Happy belated Birthday! Glad you had fun with this one. Garret at Mandala seems to have a real passion for Yunnan (especially shu pu’er!) so you’re probably right on the money as far as region goes.

Kittenna

Happy belated bday! I’m looking forward to having a palate developed enough to identify the region of a tea, but I think I’m a few years off yet :)

Garret

These are, indeed, a find from Yunnan! I just got back from tea travels in China and spent a majority of time in Yunnan seeing some tea gardens, mountains, sipping and buying tons of teas (including more of these pearls!) and finding more tea wares. Bought much mao cha from a few farmers and will have it pressed soon under our label. I really do love Yunnan black teas. My favorites, though I acquired some great black teas near Huangshan on this last trip, as well!

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31
drank Chilli Chilli Bang Bang by Yumchaa
1312 tasting notes

Cteresa was kind enough to supply me with some more flavoured rooibos samples. Two of them I’m eager to try and one not so much. This one would be the not so much. It has many things in it that I don’t much care for. Still I decided to do this one first because that was the only way I could think of to make sure it didn’t languish forever in the sample box. And I did want to try a new rooibos blend.

So I’m giving it a cautious go. Last time I gave something I fully expected to dislike a cautious go, I ended up giving it 90+ points, after all.

Well, the aroma is strong. Cinnamon and ginger are right there at the forefront, and I haven’t even put my nose anywhere near the cup yet. It smells uncannily like mulled wine, which I’m finding a little strange. Upon closer olfactory inspection, I can also pick up some pepper in there. I have to say, the aroma does nothing to quell my fears. (Sugar on standby)

It’s not as spicy as I initially feared, but it does have a rather strong ginger-y note, with some cinnamon behind it. There is a small prickle of chili and pepper, just enough that I can feel it on my tongue, but not enough to be burning.

It’s not as bad as I feared, but it’s definitely not one for me either. There are too many things in this that I don’t really want anywhere near my teas or herbals. Ginger most especially. I like ginger okay in food or in some baking, when it’s not a primary flavour but merely adding a zing of something to the dish. I feel the same way about garlic, really. On it’s own or in something where it’s a heavy flavour? Not so much.

I find it drinkable as it is, but just barely. Still I eventually decided against trying it with some sugar, because I just couldn’t imagine sugar being able to do anything about my problems with it, and I thought I’d probably just risk making it completely useless to me.

No, definitely not for me. Sorry, Cteresa.

gmathis

You gotta give it points for a fun name, though!

Missy

I like the sugar on standby. You could yell sugar to cup stat!

Bonnie

I would have put in the sugar…for sure sometimes it turns the tea around into a winner. Never know.

cteresa

ah, sorry, did not realize! and glad it got there safe and sound.

I am not usually a fan of very spicy tea, but like this mix – particularly the chilli, I find it so warming, in a nice way, when it´s dreary or I am feeling ill. Though I admit I like spices. Hope you like the other samples better, very curious for your opinion!

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93

Making tea is a good excuse to look out of the kitchen window and try to see what the landlord is doing in the other half of the building. Fact about this house: It was built in the 20s if I recall correctly and the flat that I live in used to be a grocery shop. Upstairs, I imagine is where the grocer lived with his family and downstairs is the cellar. Adjacant to the building there is this empty space, also separated into two or three floors. I’m not sure, I haven’t actually explored it all that much. I assume it has been storage facilities or possibly stables originally. Fact about my landlord: He’s a builder. Lately there has been a lot of noise from the other side of my wall, so clearly his working on doing something with that empty space. Right now I think he’s been taking out the concrete flooring. I wonder if he’s converting it into more flats perhaps? So yeah, any excuse to peek out the window while pretending I’m not actually super curious, I’ll take it. :)

Perhaps this is the reason why I’m stupid! No really, any person who can’t tell seconds from minutes can’t possibly have that many brain cells to rub together, can they? That person, ladies and gentlemen, is your very own Ang. How hard can it be to set a timer? Very.

This tea was another one that Spoonvonstrup shared with me, writing something along the lines of ‘I know greens aren’t really your thing, but I thought I would share it anyway’. Funny really, considering I had just got a bout of green tea inspiration only a few days before the package arrived. Certainly it must have been after it was sent.

It was a generously sized sample, enough for two rounds, so I thought I would try to do it once in the western style and once in a more gong-fu-ish method (to the best of my abilities). Deciding to start with ten seconds, I… yeah, see above. It took nearly six minutes before it occurred to me that something wasn’t right. I can’t even save it by calling this the western style attempt because the leaf to water ratio is all stupid for that. I only use half the amount of water to the same amount of leaf when I attempt these short steeps.

So obviously the first steep yielded a very strong cup, but surprisingly not a ruined one. There is evidence in the flavour of it having gone rather wrong, but it’s by no means undrinkable. Just… strong. It’s got a silky soft and very fat flavour, kind of buttery but not completely. There is a vegetal note to both the aroma and the flavour which reminds me of a bit of cooked spinach. And then of course a bit of a prickly ‘you-got-me-wrong’ reminder behind it all, which I get a clear impression shouldn’t have been there. “Idiot proof” Spoonvonstrup’s post say. Well, then I came along…

But! All is not lost, so let’s try again and see if we can’t get it right, yes? This time I succesfully differentiate my seconds from my minutes and the aroma is a lot crisper. It still has that spinach note but there is also an additional note of something kind of citrus-y. I’m thinking lime, mostly because that’s the colour association I’m getting with this aroma. That colour is more or less the same colour Chinese green teas tend to give me. Japanese greens are much darker in hue in my head.

The flavour is more crisp as well. Not so fat and butter-y, but still with the spinach-y note and a whole lot of citrus. There were no citrus whatsoever in the first botched steep. Interesting, this citrus note. It’s all refreshing and nice tasting and it doesn’t give me that sour aftertaste that green teas sometimes do.

How enjoyable this second cup is! I really like this citrus aspect.

I thought the third cup would be the same as the second, but it appears my initial whoopsie has taken its toll on the leaves because already now they appear to be fading. It is more or less the same as the second cup, same spinach and same citrus, but it’s somehow diminished. More transparant.

I say ‘more or less’, but actually there is some difference in the spinach notes. It seems to be going faster than the citrus-y note, so it appears like the citrus is stronger this time. I don’t think it is, I think it’s just more on its own this time.

This diminishing of flavour shouldn’t happen so quickly in a green tea, I don’t think. I can only imagine that it’s the initial very long steep that has been at play.

It’s still quite an enjoyable cup, though. I just rather miss the spinach.

Unpertubed however, I continue. Weirdly this seems to smell like the second cup. I would have expected it to be even more transparant and for that to only get worse from now on. There is a thick butteryness to it now which I don’t really feel was there before.

The flavour solves the puzzle. It’s not that the spinach has come back like it was in the second cup. It’s that with the further increase in steeping time, the spinach and the citrus is once more in that same balance. The increased steeping time have then given it time to get a little stronger than it was in the third. Even though the third cup was increased with five seconds and this cup has been increased by a further five seconds, so logically it still ought to have been more of the same.

I shan’t complain, though. This is like a rerun of the second cu- oh dear, mental image. Unfortunate phrasing. Let’s call it a do-over rather than a rerun, shall we.

This is going rather well! Let’s do another.

Normally at this point I would start thinking the flavours were fading and I would be getting bored. This particular tea, however, appears to be surprisingly entertaining. I was hoping for another cup like the second and fourth, with a nice spinach and citrus balance in it, but now it seems the citrus-y bit has taken a step back. It’s still there, it’s just hanging out in the background this time. There’s something else, though. Something sweet. Just a smidge of it. It’s not sugar, it’s more like fruit sweetness. Hmm… interesting. Nah, I think I prefer the citrus/spinach balance.

Perhaps that’s an every other steep sort of thing? Let’s try again!

Nope, this is the nearly the same as the previous. Strong on the spinach note and a non-fruity fruit-like sweetness. Hm. Does that mean that the citrus note is completely finished? That’s the only difference. The citrus-y note has changed characteristics and now comes over more like a green apple of some sort of tart variety. Granny Smith perhaps, or similar. There is an apple-y aftertaste at this point as well.

And I think that will be the last cup, unless I decide to do another one later tonight, but although I should have liked to explore that nice apple-y note that has come out, frankly this is doubtful. I’m not bored with it, and I’m sure there is lots more life in the leaf, but I’m full. I can’t drink any more.

Scott B

I am anxious to try this myself even though I am not a big green tea drinker myself. Thanks for the thorough review.

MegWesley

I really enjoy reading these steeping notes. These are the type of notes that inspire me to try to get re-steepable tea. Very entertaining.

Azzrian

Exactly! I feel the same way Meg! I mean sometimes you can steep a tea so many times I never get the FULL benefit from the tea lol but I try to dry it back out and save it for the next day but I always want something different! I go about three steeps maybe four before Im done but it is nice to have that option!!!

Spoonvonstup

So glad you enjoyed!! :)

Angrboda

Scott, Neither am I, and I was totally won over. I think perhaps with green teas I just really like them better with the multiple small short steeps as opposed to western style. If this botched first cup was akin to a western style result, then I’m not likely to like that very much.

MegWesley, thank you. :)

Azzrian, yes, I know what you mean. It bothers me a little sometimes that I don’t do it more often, but on the other hand, I prefer to drink the tea I want rather than the tea I think I ought to drink.

Spoonvonstrup, I did! Much more than I had anticipated. Especially after the first steep went wrong.

Scott B

I only do Western-style steeping, but for me finding a green tea I like has just been trying various types and seeing what I like.

Angrboda

I only did Western style as well. That will have to change, if it can put other types other than just blacks into my regular rotation.

Thomas Smith

I just pulled the same timer mistake when making tea the other day using the timer on my new oven, but mixed minutes with hours…

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Bio

Ang lives with Husband and two kitties, Charm and Luna, in a house not too far from Århus. Apart from drinking tea, she enjoys baking, especially biscuits, reading and jigsaw puzzles. She has recently acquired an interest in cross-stitch and started a rather large project. It remains to be seen whether she has actually bitten off more than she can chew…

Ang prefers black teas and the darker sorts of oolongs. She has to be in the mood for green and white, and she enjoys, but knows little to nothing about, pu-erh.

Her preferences with black teas are the Chinese ones, particularly from Fujian, but also Keemun and just about anything smoky. She occasionally enjoys Yunnans but they’re not favourites. She has taken some time to research Ceylon teas, complete with reference map, and has recently developed some interest in teas from Africa.

She is sceptical about Indian blacks as she generally finds them too astringent and too easy to get wrong. She doesn’t really care for Darjeelings at all. Very high-grown teas are often not favoured.

She likes flavoured teas as well, particularly fruit flavoured ones, but also had an obsession with finding the Perfect Vanilla Flavoured Black and can happily report that this reclusive beast has been spotted in a local teashop near where she works. Any and all vanilla flavoured teas are still highly attractive to her, though. Also nuts and caramel or toffee. Not so much chocolate. It’s a texture thing.

However, she thinks Earl Grey is generally kind of boring. Cinnamon and ginger are also not really a hit, and she’s not very fond of chais. Evil hibiscus is evil. Even in small amounts, and yes, Ang can usually detect hibiscus, mostly by way of the metallic flavour of blood it has.

Ang is not super impressed with rooibos or honeybush on their own. She doesn’t care for either, really, but when they are flavoured, they go usually go down a treat.

Ang used to have a Standard Panel of teas that she tried to always have on hand. She put a lot of thought into defining it and decided what should go on it. It was a great idea on paper, but in practise has been discovered to not really work as well.

Ang tries her best to make a post on Steepster several times a week. She tends to write her posts in advance in a word doc (The Queue) and posting from there. This, she feels, helps her to maintain regularity and stops her from making five posts in three days and then going three weeks without posting anything at all.

Angrboda is almost always open to swapping. Just ask her. Due to the nature of the queue, however, and the fact that it’s some 24 pages long at the moment, it may take a good while from she receives your parcel and until she actually posts about it.

The Formalities

Contact Angrboda by email: [email protected]
Contact Ang on IM on Google chat

Find Ang on…
Steam: Iarnvidia (Or Angrboda. She changed her display name and now is not certain which one to search for. She uses the same picture though, so she is easily recognised)
Goodreads: Angrboda
Livejournal: See website.
Dreamwidth: Ask her

Bio last updated February 2014

Location

Denmark

Website

http://angrboda.livejournal.com

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