1106 Tasting Notes
Oh my goshy-wosh! Look here what I found in the sample basket coming from the big box of tea that Dax Pamela Dean sent me! I was looking through the basket earlier to see what was in there and oh look I still had some Tan Yang! Okay, so it’s not the Tan Yang, the Perfect one, but it’s close enough just for being called ‘Tan Yang.’
It seems to be a bit thinner and weaker than the Tan Yang I’m used to, but I’m not holding that against these leaves for two reasons. 1, they may have faded some in transport and wrapping and 2, there were less leaf than I think I would have used for a pot other wise. Having just dumped the whole lot in the pot I can’t know for exactly certain, but it seemed like a smaller amount. Probably should have given it a longer steeping time.
It is, however, still Tan Yang, and you can’t go wrong with Tan Yang. You can’t do it, it’s undoable. It just is. You may as well accept this as fact sooner or later. So I’ll just try to ignore the weakness and see what’s underneath while trying to imagine in my head the way it would have been if I’d had enough leaf for a customary brewing.
Gosh, it’s properly Tan Yang-y in the flavour though. All smooth and grainy and with a great big generous dash of cocoa in it as well. Yes, if this had been a customary brewing it would totally have held up to the Perfect Tan Yang Te Ji. Easily.
Say, have I ever mentioned what my favourite black tea is?
In other news, have a look at this picture. It’s not finished yet but it will be our Tea Making Station. Once we get some shelves up anyway (shelves have been shelved until further notice though. See what I did there? wink nudge ) https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/CQFw1eqXqcjlz5MH4bh3VunJOfe6_LFJWQwI2FsYNwU?feat=directlink
I got this in the great big box that Dax Pamela Dean sent to me a while back and since so very many of you, including JacquelineM who is well known to a bit of an expert on vanilla teas, count it among your favourites. So I’ve been looking forward to trying it, even though I have to say I’m a bit wary of this whole decaf business. I’ve had a couple of decaf teas in my life before but never (that I can recall) in any sort of succesful way.
It’s standing next to me, wafting vanilla aroma all over the place. It’s a sugary sweet sort of vanilla aroma to me, not the rubbery leathery roughness of the pod. The aroma, on closer inspection (nose to cup), strikes me as strangely alien. I can tell it’s vanilla, yes, but I’m not sure I’d say I could tell it was tea. I would of course be able to identify it as tea through a qualified guess, but it’s not something that really says, “I’m tea, I smell like this!” It’s like something is missing, and I’m suspecting it’s something to do with the decaffeination process.
Flavour-wise, I have to say I’m surprised that it’s so popular. It’s definitely not my ideal vanilla tea, but that said, it’s not unpleasant either. Let’s start at the bottom with what I can make out of the base. It would help a lot of if I could figure out what the base actually is, because all I’m really getting out of it is a fairly wooden flavour. I can’t for the life of me spot this ‘rich malty character’ business that H&S mentions in the description. Just… wood.
The vanilla flavouring is good though. It’s strong, yet subtle all at the same time. Probably because the vanilla itself has a funny dark flavour (identifies as black or very dark brown in my synesthesia), which sort of expands and fills the mouth.
I’m lacking the pod flavour though. That syrup-like, leathery feeling to it is completely missing, and the absence of it makes the flavouring feel a little synthetic. The presence of detectable vanilla pod gives a vanilla tea an impression of authenticity and without it, we may as well be looking at synthetic aroma.
So in a way I’m both relieved and disappointed. I do like the tea, but I’m disappointed that I can’t find it in myself to love it as much as most of the rest of you. For the same reason I’m also relieved, since it’s not a tea that is available to me unless I get someone to buy it for me and forward it, which would be a very impractical way to shop.
So if I can’t have the Vanilla Nilgiri from Chi of Tea anymore, which I had otherwise named my Perfect Vanilla Tea, then I’ll just have to keep on looking.
I wasn’t sure whether or not add this at all, really. It’s just chopped licorice root, no finery included, and I didn’t exactly buy it because I thought it would be awesome. So originally I wasn’t planning on adding it, but then I thought, ‘hey, it’s still an herbal tisane.’ Anything goes, right? So here we are, then. Nature’s own cough medicine.
And boy do I need it.
Anyway, the thing that finally swayed me into posting about it is the fact that I’ve cold-steeped a bit in a mug in the fridge overnight and I thought I’d mention some differences between the hot and cold version.
Licorice root is naturally unbelievably sweet. If memory serves me right it has a higher sweetness index (or whatever you call it) than ordinary sugar, but that’s just off the top of my head. Brewed in boiling water it steeps incredibly quickly. I just make it directly in the mug, and as soon as you’ve poured water on you’ve already got a flavourful cup, if you can drink it that hot.
As mentioned, I made a cup hot the other day, one for me, one for the boyfriend. The latter then started questioning how many pounds of sugar I had dumped in it. The answer of course was none. It was incredibly sweet, and the question posed to me actually describes the flavour better than anything else I can come up with. Granted, I had probably used a measure of root larger than fitted the cup, so it was relatively strong. Towards the bottom of the cup it also got an additional note of bark to it which made the sweetness more bearable.
I wouldn’t say it was super-pleasant. ’Nature’s own cough mixture!’ is what I kept telling myself. I can’t say if it helped. Maybe a little. I think, compared to last night where I didn’t have any, it must have, because I’ve been keeping the boyfriend up for a good part of the night, I think.
So, overnight I’ve had a cup cold-brewing in the fridge, which I’ve drank this morning and the difference is remarkable. Having learned from my mistake, I’ve used a little less root, which may account for some of it. At any rate, it’s not nearly as cloyingly sweet and it has a lot more of that bark note.
I like the cold-brewed cup a LOT better than the hot, and I hope that it will actually give me a little reprieve tonight at bedtime.
The boyfriend seemed to like it a lot better, in general, than I do, which is actually funny because I’m usually the one with the sweet tooth, and I’m considering make this part of the Standard Panel for medicinal purposes. (For the record, I know this sort of stuff can’t replace real medicine, but for your average garden variety virus infection, it does the job well enough for me.)
Help, I’m suffering from internetshop-initis! I’ve had an A C Perch’s order come in recently and now a Chi of Tea order as well. I couldn’t help it. It was like the mouse jumped me and twisted my arm or something. And it gets worse. The Chi of Tea order? Two things of substance. One a stock-up of the Keemun and the other a smaller pouch of Lapsang Souchong, because I’m always moderately interested in sampling a good LS. That doesn’t sound so bad until we come to the actual unpacking and putting away of new loot, and finding in the Bits’n’Bops Basket one half pouch of Chi of Tea LS that I had clear forgotten I had. I could lie and say I was stocking up, but that would be all too easy to see through as neither the quantity of the new pouch nor the old one corroborates the story. Let mocking commence.
So I confessed to the boyfriend and was indeed mocked. “You have bought so much tea,” he said, “that you’ve tried everything in the world and are now starting in on the second circuit.”
All in all, I got off easy.
Anyway, with the Chi of Tea order was also the three random samples, which has led me to consider when exactly it is one can say to have won the Sample Lottery. Is it when you get samples of something good you’ve tried before and know for absolute fact you’ll enjoy, or is it when you get something you wouldn’t otherwise have considered and have never tried before? My personal jury is still out on the issue.
At any rate, I got some good samples. Two tried, tested and true and one new one which I considered when making the order but ultimately decided to wait with and think it over.
This was one of the Triple Ts. It’s funny, this one actually. I have a pouch of them and everytime I’ve made an order I’ve received three more hearts in a sample. They’re quite nice so I’m not complaining, but it puts me in an amusing situation where it seems like the more I drink, the more of it I’ve got. (This is because I haven’t had it often, mainly around the times when I’ve received an order)
I was afraid today’s brew, first steep very nearly forgotten, was going to be ridiculously strong. It’s possibly that I’ve managed to put my tastebuds in a coma with throat lozenges (am still apparently attempting to expel own respiratory system via oral orifice), but it strikes me as incredibly smoooooooooth today.
It has that honeyed note on the finish that I’ve described before. A rather interesting note of strongly flavoured honey. I know it’s just a pseudo-note, that honey, but it still feels really nice in a throat that is quite sore from repeated expelling of air in a forceful manner.
You know, every time I have one of these I wonder why I don’t have one more often. I suspect it has to do with the fact that whenever I do have one, it keeps me in tea for the rest of the day.
A C Perch’s recommended this for an iced tea. I’m not normally one for iced tea at all, I prefer to have my tea hot, thank you very much. There’s just something strange about chilled tea that I can’t quite shake, but then Denmark doesn’t really have much of a tradition for the stuff which may account for some of my hesitation. When we say ‘iced tea’ here, more often than not it is in referral to NesTea and similar substances.
Anyway, I was feeling adventurous with this one because it is so very fruity in flavour and otherwise mild in tea flavour, and since it came with recommendation of the attempt and it’s a frightfully hot day and so on and so forth. Insert any further excuses you can think of here.
I’ve had it in the fridge for several hours now and it’s nicely cold and chilly now. I’m getting a lot of green tea which feels sort of borderline bitter and astringent. Not best pleased with that. The fruit is not really putting in a heavy appearance either. The orange is there, just as it was when hot, but the strawberry is not really coming out to play much at all. So it’s a lot like when it’s hot, only it’s chilled.
Funny thing is, I test-tasted a small sip earlier just to see how cold it had got at that point, and that small sip was exquisitely fruity and refreshing. At that point I would estimate it had reached about a little under room temperature. It was cold, but it wasn’t chilled yet. It was a totally different picture then than I’m getting now.
So either it’s a good enough iced tea as long as it doesn’t get too cold, or I was just that hot and thirsty after our afternoon walkies. Take your pick.
It’s okay as an iced tea. I only made one mug because I’m completely pitcher-less, but once I’ve got me a new pitcher, I may indeed make the attempt again, perhaps with a touch of sweetener or an adjustment of leaf usage.
Yummy yummy yummy, I got tea in my tummy…
This was actually inspired by Alana237 who had the Sticky Toffee Pudding from Whittard of Chelsea, which sounded mightily interesting. Her description of it made it sound rather like one I would enjoy, so I’m going to try and remember that the next time I find myself in the UK and near a WoC shop. I started wondering how it might hold up to Kusmi’s Caramel, which, as you all know (and if you don’t, you shall learn very quickly) is one of my all time favourites and currently holds the spot as my Perfect Caramel Tea. Standard Panel Tea and whatnot.
So I made me a cup, which has now cooled to perfection. The caramel is coming out as rather dark today and prickly, and I was actually thinking of something a little smoother. I know this tea, in spite of being a black, really responds better to not entirely boiling water in order to bring the flavour out. If boiling water is used the tea base shines through and it’s already pretty subtle flavouring to begin with.
Unfortunately, I’ve got that base tea flavour mostly here. I can’t really find that caramel yummyness because my water was too hot. I can just taste that it’s a nice Chinese black with something added.
Lucky I tend to prefer the Chinese blacks, really, isn’t it?
As it cools a little more, however, the flavouring is rescued somewhat. It’s still not entirely the same as a cup brewed to perfection, but it’s definitely got more distinct flavouring coming out and it seems to develop just a hint of texture, which is more what I was looking for.
So, yeah. A fairly mangled cup of an otherwise wonderful tea, and I’m wondering how the sticky toffee pudding might hold up to this.
Seeing as the vanilla Nilgiri from Chi of Tea appears to be very out of stock, I’ve been forced to look for a replacement, just as I had decided it was my perfect vanilla tea.
First place to look is close to home obviously. After all, I might get lucky. So I got this one in my latest order.
Now, the Chi of Tea one had bits of vanilla pod in it, and I’ve been trying to see if this one does as well. The problem is, though, that the thing about vanilla pod bits is they are small, black and kinda glossy. And the thing about black tea leaves is they are small, black and kinda glossy. Which makes it kinda hard to tell.
The aroma of the leaves is strongly vanilla, though, and reminds me quite nicely of the Chi of Tea, so one is hopeful. Same with the post steeping aroma. It’s very sweet and thick and has a very pod-like quality to it.
There is, which I also mentioned something similar about on the Chi of Tea vanilla Nilgiri, a distinct difference between vanilla aroma and actual vanilla pods, which is that the aroma is sweet and vanilla-y, while the addition of the pod gives it a rougher sort of impression not unlike leather. Note, it doesn’t smell or taste of leather, but the pod itself is leather-y in texture and that texture somehow translates into flavour as intensity that is only rarely found in the absence of pod.
This particular vanilla black has that quality in the aroma. On the flavour, however, it’s a bit thin. Not at all what I would expect from a description like ‘creamy, bailey-like’. It’s not really that particularly creamy on the tongue. I can’t be certain about the bailey-like bit, as I’m not that fond of liqueurs and it’s been ages since I’ve had a bailey and there for don’t have a very clear memory of what it tastes like beyond the strong alcoholic feeling which I dislike and therefore clouds the memory further.
I do believe I can spot some of that pod-ness though, it’s just that I would have liked for there to be more of it. Thicker somehow. But it’s still closer to the Perfect Vanilla Nilgiri from Chi of Tea than the Whittard of Chelsea vanilla black is, the latter having a somewhat more synthetic feel to it.
For the time being this is close enough. I may move some of it to another tin and doctor it with a whole vanilla pod ala JacquelineM and see if that gives me the desired difference. I suspect though, that the root of my problem here lies in the fact that it doesn’t have the same tea base to start with. I can’t tell what this is, but I really don’t think it’s Nilgiri, and not just because A C Perch’s don’t sell Nilgiri plain. This base is a bit rougher and has a front note that reminds me primarily of Assam, a very different from Nilgiri type indeed.
As it is, I think it should work well enough as a substitute, but I’m not even remotely as happy with it as I have been with the Chi of Tea.
Good morning, Steepsterites.
This one is actually a bit funny because I bought it not knowing what it was. On the Danish version of the website it was named (in direct translation) “Emperor Tea” and the description only said that it was a Chinese tea using top shoots, much the same as the description in English does. Nothing at all about region.
I am always interested in a plain Chinese black. Always. So I bought it and planned on seeing if I could guess the region on tasting and write the shop afterwards asking for confirmation on my guess.
Then it arrived and I went to enter it into the Steepster database. So I found the tea again in the shop and switched to English view and suddenly it was named “Keemun Deluxe”. Well that solved that mystery, but why hadn’t they translated the name? Or, why had they not called it Keemun Deluxe in Danish as well? Oddness abounds.
Anyway, I’m quite pleased with it being a Keemun. I’ve been putting some small thought into the perfect Keemun for a while without having explored enough to really find one that I thought was outstanding above all others and also available to me. (I have met one or two that were, but lost a lot of points by not being available to me, and having to order something by having someone else buy it and forward it for me takes a lot of Perfect Points out of the equation, no matter how good the flavour)
What I want from the perfect Keemun is a solid base of sweet grainyness, a strong reminder of proper Danish rye bread, a smooth and rounded flavour and just a touch of pseudo-smokyness with just a hint of a floral top note, all coming together as a whole.
This one delivers in smoothness and grainyness in the aroma, but not the other aspects. In fact it’s almost semi-honeyed in the aroma which is a good sign for me as well.
As for the flavour, there is a strong wooden note to it, which develops into the pseudo-smoke and leaves a long heavy aftertaste of floral perfume-y notes. And the problem is that this seems to be it.
Mind you, I may still have a tongue/post-illness (I am on the mend, definitely) problem to deal with here, but this just isn’t a candidate for perfection at this point. I’m lacking the grainyness in the flavour and the pseudo-smoke note is so strong that smoothness is just not anywhere on the agenda at all.
Underneath all this, I can find that note of sweet but strong honey that I also found in the aroma and thought was a good sign, but it’s just not enough.
This is a good and pleasant tea when in the mood for something smoky without going full-on Lapsang, but it’s quite far from my idea of a perfect Keemun. I shall keep on searching.
(To be honest though, I fear that I have already met my perfect Keemun, the hao ya A from Teaspring, but I would strongly prefer if the perfect Keemun could be a rather less expensive…)
This has been on my shopping list for a while. I had a sudden need for berry-flavoured black exploration a while back and AC Perch’s had a number that I was interested in, but couldn’t make myself buy them all at the same time. I got their black currant black tea a while ago and have been enjoying that, so that definitely didn’t harm my interest in the others any.
Spurred on by taste success of the green blend earlier this evening/afternoon, I’ve moved on to the next, sharing a pot with the boyfriend as he suggested it sounded like something one might have during a cold (he’s poorly too, poor us) so here we go.
The aroma is sweet and fruity and not as penetrating as the black currant aroma is. This is sweeter and seems milder. On the aroma alone, I like this better than the black currant, I think.
Aroma, however, is not all, and direct comparison between blackberry and black currant is probably a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Unfair to both parties. It does however seem to be a milder, more discreet sort of flavoured, whereas the black currant is fairly violent on the flavouring intensity.
I like this. The blackberry isn’t really recognisable as 100% certainly blackberry but there is a fruity undertone, definitely, to a primarily black tea. The black base is even coming out a little strongly here, which makes me think I probably should have used a little less leaf. I was brewing in a different sized pot from the one I use 95% of the time, so it’s always a little touch and go with that.
As I said, I like this. In spite of it being a little on the strong side and the blackberry being rather shy (I’ve mentioned before that I quite like these subtle flavoured ones in general), but I’m not sure if it’s really a keeper. I can’t really see myself developing a craving for it at this point, but we’ll see how that goes. I remember having a similar thought about the black currant and I go through periods now and then where I have that one almost exclusively for two or three days. So we’ll see if the same thing happens with this one.
The boyfriend just popped his head into my room just now to say pretty much the same thing. He also liked it but agreed with my thoughts that it’s not, as he said, “a punch in the face with blackberry”.
Since my ‘woe, I’m dying horribly’ post earlier today I’ve been to the pharmacists and have eaten something fever-reducing so I’m going to cautiously try my hand (or tongue) on one of these new teas that I just picked up from the post office today (conveniently placed right next to the pharmacy). What torture, having new teas and not really being able to taste them properly due to permanently odd flavour in mouth.
But now, being medicated, this seems to have diminished a lot, so I’m giving it a go. Also I’m very curious about this one. What we’ve got here is a green tea strawberry and orange. I’ve already got a green tea with strawberry but the addition of orange really intrigued me.
The aroma is very fruity with the orange clearly running the show, both in the dry leaf and the steeped cup. Dry, it smells almost like fruit concentrate, the sort you dilute with water before drinking. Steeped, the strawberry peeks out as well, but it’s largely just orange.
What’s surprising about this is that when I actually taste it, it tastes very green. Judging from the strength of the fruit in the aroma I would have imagined the green tea to be completely overwhelmed by the fruit here, but it’s really surprisingly harmonic.
It’s still heavily orange, though, orange dominant over strawberry, but there’s just enough of it to make it a nice green tea rather than a round of warm cordial.
I’m quite pleased with this. I don’t know if, in the future, I would keep this one around as well as the green strawberry from Kusmi. Probably not. I just haven’t decided yet which of the two I’d be more likely to choose to stock up on, if any. (One thing is a really good tea. But just because it’s a really good tea doesn’t necessarily mean that it has the longevity to keep it around indefinitely.)
And yeah, the funny side note? Not noticable at this time.