1270 Tasting Notes
I received this bag as a free sample when I ordered from AC Perch’s recently. The last two times I’ve ordered from them I’ve received free bags. That must be a new practice and although I haven’t had anything that I actually expect to like (This, bleh. A green ginger-y one, bleh. And a jasmine one, bleh), I definitely approve. :)
Anyway, I thought this would work as the sample finished for the day, so I made a cup. Unfortunately then I got side-tracked and forgot about it.
After some hour and a half, the boyfriend came home and commented on the neglected mug in the kitchen. As an Indian, I knew it was probably ruined, but I test-tasted the lukewarm result anyway.
No clue what it would have been like as properly made, and I swear I didn’t sabotage it on purpose.
We have already covered how Cteresa sent me Brave Tea. This one is in the category of Interesting Tea, and this is actually the reason she sent me an envelope in the first place. It’s all a way to encourage my little African kick. Mozambique! Another country I had no idea even drank tea! Now I need to make sure to include that Rwanda black next time I order from Nothing But Tea (providing of course that I actually manage to order. I’ll make damn sure next time that I do it properly!)
As this one was suggested that I try following a less than satisfactory go at a Kenya, and as I was informed to not expect miracles as this was also a CTC tea, I have to take a moment here to compare leaf size between the two. Yes, the Mozambique is a CTC as well, but compared to the Kenya, the leaf size of the Moz is still twice as large. I find this bodes well.
This is not presently part of my sample finishing project. Cteresa included enough that I can get two small pots out of it, and as my better half is at work, he obviously can’t share a larger pot with me.
It brews up a dark and strongly aromatic cup. In a previous post Cteresa finds that it’s similar to a generic Ceylon, and I agree with that. It has that malty, bold sort of smell with a note of something kind of wooden. Not rooibos wood-y, just general woodyness. Kind of spicy as well, but not very.
At this point I’m actually a little uncertain if I made it too strong after all. Surely such a powerful aroma has to come from somewhere. As it turns out, however, this does not seem to be the case. This is actually a pretty smooth cup. It’s not super-smooth in the way that a really good Chinese can be, but it’s definitely getting there. Again, I agree with the Ceylon comparison, only a little smoother. This doesn’t taste like a very finicky tea, and I tend to prefer those. A tea that it’s near impossible to wreck, that’s always a good point in my book. I’m in it for the taste, not the challenge. :)
Of course it might turn out that I could have just as easily ruined it by too much leaf or not paying attention to the steeping time, but I didn’t so we’ll go with that.
The very first note I get from a sip is something that invokes a complete absence of colour. Not a non-synesthesia reaction, but actual complete blackness as in total absence of… well everything. I’ve never had that one before, and I’m not sure I like it. It feels slightly malevolent. Ironically, the actual flavour of that note is rather nice in a morning tea. It’s all strong and powerful and ever so slightly very nearly something that could be thought a wee bit smoky. This is just at first, and then when I pay attention to it, it turns more in the direction of slightly floral in a Darjeeling-esque way, but without the grassy spicyness of the Darj. (This transition also rids me of that funny absence of colour experience in my brain. Most of the time synesthesia is kind of fun, but sometimes it’s just plain weird and makes me wonder if I should just try to stop paying attention to it at all, because it might make stuff like this a lot simpler)
As the cup cools, that Darj-y note develops a lot and the whole cup seems to turn into some sort of in between Darj and Ceylon thing, with the Darjeeling’s spicy greenishness and the Ceylon’s strength and malty base note. Had this been a blend I would not have found it strange at all, but as it’s a single region tea, I’m a bit puzzled by it. It makes it difficult for me to work out what I actually think of it. I mean I’m not very fond of Darjeeling, they just don’t appeal to me that much, and I have little experience with Ceylon and most of that was kind of forgettable, so…
I think it’s mostly in the Ceylon end of the spectrum, though. That base note of malty strength is really coming through a lot all the time and that note is pretty good. Very sweet for something completely unsweetened, and it leaves an aftertaste which is long and thick and a little bit sticky.
This works well as a morning tea indeed, and if one was the sort to take tea with a bit of milk, I expect this would handle the addition wonderfully.
I feel a bit like this whole post is a list of teas that the Moz is kind of like, only not…
I have decided that this week is sample finishing week. Seven days, seven samples. (At least)
I haven’t the foggiest where this one came from, and I’ve had it for a while. One of those that at first are standing around because I haven’t got to that one yet, or I wasn’t in the mood for something new or whatever other reason, and after a while it’s standing there untried but becoming more and more invisible, because I’ve simply stopped looking it it. The tin is familiar, it no longer stands out as something new and untested.
Therefore, it seemed a good place to start today. The only thing I know about it is that one of you lot must have sent it to me.
The leaves are funny! They’re twisted into these long spear-like shapes, almost two centimeters long! I dithered a bit on how to brew it and how many of those spears would constitute my normal teaspoon-measured amount. Eventually I just gave up and used ALL the leaf, less water and a start steep of 30 seconds. That takes care of that problem. I also couldn’t work out if it was a green or a green type oolong. On Steepster it’s listed as a green tea, but on the tin whoever it was of you wrote green/oolong. So what temperature to use? Again, I compromised and chose the temperature in the middle of the two. Ha, you can’t fool me, Blink Bonnie!
The result is an amber coloured cup of tea that smells remarkably sweet. It has that honey-y, sugar-y sort of aroma that I’ve found really enjoyable in other teas. It’s not quite the same as those, but it’s definitely leaning in that direction. There is also an additional note to the aroma here which strikes me as peculiarly bready. So honey, sugar and bread. Is this a cup of tea or is it a liquid cake?
Since I’ve had this for so long and never tried it, I had some thoughts as to how much the leaves had faded. Especially when doing these short steeping things, how much of the flavour would have been lost? I honestly wasn’t expecting to find all that much when tasting this one. Unfortunately I think it has faded some, because I’m getting most of the flavour just on the swallow and in the aftertaste.
What I’m getting there is surprisingly milky. It reminds me a little of milk oolongs, only not as creamy as them. It’s quite sweet and completely contrary to the aroma, the main flavour note here is something kind of vegetal as well as a sort of dark nutty note that makes me decide that I think this is more oolong than green.
It’s hard for me to really get any closer than this. It’s a shame that I didn’t try this one sooner, becuase I rather suspect I may have missed out a bit. On the other hand, although my primary suspicion for the very subtle flavour here is the fading of the leaves with age, I can’t be entirely certain that this is not actually supposed to be this way. A bit vague and fleeting rather than full and flavoursome. Some teas are meant to be that way, and they tend not impress me much, if at all.
This means that the full flavour experience here could have been really high or really mediocre (according to my preferences) and I haven’t the first clue which end of the scale it’s actually supposed to be at. Therefore we are placing it squarely in the middle with a good 70-ish points.
I’m having BRAVE TEA!!! courtesy of Cteresa who sent me an envelope of goodies. Well, actually it’s a rooibos rather than a tea-tea, and that’s why it’s brave. Me and rooibos, we have a troubled past, to be honest. On the other hand raspberry and vanilla? How can that not be lovely?
So, as this was the only sample in the envelope that had me a bit doubtful and as I was in an adventurous brave frame of mind, I decided to start with this one right off the bat, because otherwise the fear of rooibos would make me postpone it for ages and ages and ages. I must admit, I have been sent a few samples in my time that I’m still too afraid to try.
So we’re having this one now. The boyfriend was actually very excited that I was making a rooibos, as he really likes them. (And still rarely asks for one when I ask him about preference, for some reason. I think he deliberately goes for things that we can both have, and that’s not always the purpose of my question) Anyway, he was excited and wanted a cup too. Luckily for him, I had already decided that it would be a sharing one.
Now comes the challenge of keeping a neutral mind and not let my misgivings colour the experience too much.
The aroma is incredibly sweet and fruity and extremely raspberry-y! I’m surprised at how very fruity and juicy this actually smells. I’m not even getting a whole lot of rooibos-y aroma from it unless I put my nose so close to the surface that I’m dipping the tip in it. It’s just all raspberry and only just a hint of that rooibos-y woodenness that is the larger part of my rooibos problem. As for the vanilla, at first I thought I couldn’t find it, but the more I sniff at this, the more I realise that it is there, and it’s every bit as strong as the raspberry, but because the raspberry is a naturally sharper aroma, the vanilla ends up rather camuflaged. Once you know it’s there, there’s no trouble in picking it out.
This smells like a raspberry flavoured sweet. Or an ice cream, one of the more luxurious brands.
Oh my gosh.
Am I really drinking rooibos, or am I in fact biting a berry?
All this time, I’ve completely written off rooibos because I don’t like it plain, but now it turns out that flavoured it might be totally acceptable. Probably just has to be a fairly strong flavouring. Rooibos plain, I find I might as well be chewing a pencil dipped in hot water.
Anyway, yes, this is surprisingly good!
It’s very intensely flavoured and taking the first sip of this was one hundred percent raspberry. Not raspberry flavour, mind you. No, it was actually like eating a real raspberry! I can’t recall every having come across anything fruit flavoured, not just teas and the like, anything fruit flavoured and have it taste so unbelievably close to the real thing.
Again, I’m getting very little actual rooibos flavour here. There is a hint of something sort of wooden in the background, but it’s very faint and under control and therefore not unpleasant at all. I suspect it’s probably the vanilla aspect here that might be doing that. I don’t really get a lot of vanilla in the flavour, but I could definitely imagine a good thick vanilla flavour as being one that could counter the wooden flavour of plain rooibos.
Wow, this is amazing. I went into this one expecting it to be tolerable at best and probably somewhere in the range of the yellow face on the scale, and now look where we ended up instead! I suspect that Cteresa actually knows me better than I think she does. Perhaps even better than I know myself!
Here we have a flavoured oolong that Dinosara shared with me. I quite like fruity oolongs in general, possibly as a result of that raspberry oolong from ACP. That one has made the idea of flavoured oolong appeal to me (although it certainly depends on what they’re flavoured with )
This one is rose and tropical fruits. Mango and passion fruit and also aconia berries. I have no clue what aconia berries taste like.
The aroma is rather tart, and I’m easily picking up on the passion fruit. The tartness of the aroma smells sort of juicy and bright orange-y red. I wonder if that’s the berries. I can’t find much in the way of mango at all here.
The flavour is unexpected. The first thought at the first sip was something along the lines of, “nutty, what?”. It’s a sort of mix between walnuts and hazelnuts, but it’s unmistakably nutty and wee bit woody, and it’s especially evident on the swallow and in the initial phase of the aftertaste. This stuff may smell like the colour of flame, but it tastes decidedly brown.
Second sip brings me some fruit, and again it’s primarily passion fruit. Slightly weird tasting passion fruit, which must be the influence of those berries. If I knew what they were supposed to taste like, it would have been a lot easier. I’m not getting all that very much out of it than just the passion fruit, so this tea isn’t making me all that much wiser, apart from a suspicion that they’re probably somewhat tart in flavour. On the other hand, aren’t must berries kind of tart in flavour?
I’m getting nothing in the way of mango, but the more I sip, the more I’m getting a floral top layer of rose. I’m not super keen on floral teas as most of them are either too perfumed or dusty tasting. I’ve met a few that were surprisingly nice, but in general it’s not something I have actively sought out on my own. This one has a rather strong floral note there, but it seems somehow detached from the rest of the flavour. Like a roof rather than a top layer, really. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about that. Generally I would prefer to have the flavour experience a fully integrated one, but in this case I kinda like having the floralness sort of off to one side. It’s easier to deal with there.
I have come to the conclusion that the nutty notes that I’m getting out of this must be coming straight from the base. It’s funny I’ve never really noticed oolongs being so nutty before.
All in all, I’m not sure this is a tea that I would necessarily need to come back to or miss once the sample is gone, but now that I’ve got a cup, it’s quite enjoyable. Just not one I think will stick around in my mind much. As usual, interesting to try though.
This is a backlog from… uh… a time in the past!
I bought this as part of my recent attempt to BUY ALL THE FRUITY BLACKS!!! and I bought it for the boyfriend primarily because he generally tends to enjoy things with lemon. We tasted this not long after we had ACP’s orange flavoured black and the decision to make this that day was actually inspired by just having had that orange. How’s that for a complicated sentence?
It seemed to me to be a rather basic citrus-y experience in both the aroma and the flavour. Nothing really told me, ‘hey, hello, I’m a lemon tea’. It could be anything really. It reminded me of low-grade Earl Greys where you can’t really identify the bergamot as such. I find those often taste more like lemon to me, so I suppose that’s why the comparison entered my mind.
I found it fairly uninspiring, but drinkable indeed. Just another one of those that you can drink without necessarily having to think too much about what it is your drinking.
I have no intel on whether or not the boyfriend found it adhered to his lemon-y standards.
(I should probably point out here that I have in the past had at least one of ACP’s many EG-y varieties, and that the earlier comparison to a low-grade EG doesn’t apply there. ACP’s EGs are definitely properly bergamot-y in my experience and not the slightest bit lemon-y. In a direct comparison between an EG variety and the lemon within this particular brand, this would definitely be far more easily distinguished as actual lemon.)
I’ve come over all meh and tired and stuff. Started quite suddenly last night with low-level headache, chills and sleepyness. I wonder if I’m nipping something in the bud. Clearly the best course of action under these circumstances is to have another cup of tea (and attempt to NOT play Bejeweled for six hours straight), and since I paid ransom to Tax and Customs on my 52teas order yesterday, it seemed a good place to start.
We’ve bought the cranberry black from AC Perch’s recently and I’m really pleased with that one, so making a comparison with this one seems impossible to avoid. I was sniffing the dry leaves of each side by side and the 52teas one definitely smells like it’s much more strongly flavoured. I thought the ACP had a pretty pleasant level of flavouring so on the dry aroma alone, I prefer that one, I think. This one is a bit too forceful and there’s a funny screaming pink and dusty teal side note that reminds me of bubblegum.
After steeping it still smells pretty strongly flavoured and bubblegum-ish. I could probably identify it as cranberry in a blind test, but it smells like there’s more to it than that. It’s that dusty teal note again. I’m not sure what it is, but it reminds me weirdly of Earl Grey (that can’t be right!) or some such. I’m pretty certain these leaves have never even seen bergamot, though… At this point I can no longer compare it with ACP other than from memory, but I can’t recall if this funny note also showed up in that one. If it did, then it must be some sort of quality of the cranberry itself, but mostly I’m inclined to believe that it has to do with the differences in the strength of flavouring and the differences in the base. I can’t remember what the base is on either one, but I seem to recall Frank having mentioned once that his black base is often Nilgiri (although I can’t remember where I saw that and may in fact have made it up) and I’m pretty certain that ACP is either something Chinese or Ceylon or a blend of both.
As mentioned, I thought ACP had a level of flavouring that was just right for me. Not too little and not too much. Clearly fruity but also with a detectable tea flavour underneath it. This one is definitely far more fruity, and there it is again, that teal note! Where is that coming from??? Anyway, strongly fruit flavoured and yes, definitely cranberry-ish with a sort of tangy sweetness. I still think there’s something citrus-y going on here as well, and I’m having a sudden overwhelming urge to try and do up some sort of orange and cranberry combination, now that’s I’ve got an abundance of both available to me.
This is definitely a pleasant tea and as usual I once again find myself preferring the fruity blends over the more outlandish ones that 52teas sell, but all in all, I do prefer the fruity blends to be either green or white, I think. Those really seem to be my favourites of all. For a cranberry flavoured black in particular, I think I prefer ACP over this one, although this is definitely also a good one.
The dry leaves have a strong orangey aroma which reminds me rather a lot of the orange pu-erh from Nothing But Tea, which I’m very fond of. That one currently holds the place of my ideal orange tea, so I find this aroma quite assuring. But it is very strong indeed. So strong that I actually had a small coughing fit because the sheer strength of the aroma tickled my throat so much.
I wasn’t looking specifically for anything orange flavoured when I bought this. It was partly based on aforementioned orange pu-erh, yes, but mostly it was because I was getting a generally wide selection of fruity teas and I thought I might as well include it. I actually got a couple of things that I probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise on that occasion. I think, with this order, I’ve now bought every single fruity black that AC Perch’s has to offer at one point or another (there are some that I’ve had before and didn’t stock up on), except for the more fanciful blends with more than one flavouring ingredient and also excepting the many different varieties of Earl Grey that they have.
Anyway. After steeping the aroma is a more tolerable level of orange intensity, although it’s still pretty overwhelming. I can’t find anything of the base tea underneath and I wonder about the wisdom of choosing a Chinese black as the base rather than a Ceylon. I wonder if maybe a Ceylon would have been better able to hold it’s own against the flavouring. Or perhaps that’s all just because I’m used to the significantly stronger pu-erh base. I really mustn’t compare with that one, it’s completely unfair. It’s hard not to, though.
The colour of the tea is quite dark and you know what? On the first sip, it is similar to the orange pu-erh! It’s a bit less of a murky flavour but it’s the same sort of orange. The flavouring is very strong and the base isn’t really coming to it’s right, and this is the only real difference between this and the orange pu-erh.
It’s a good alternative to the orange pu-erh in a pinch, but I do prefer the pu-erh to this one, mainly because the base is more assertive in that one. In the meantime, I think I shall rather enjoy this one.
In amusing news the Steepster blog post from January last year showed up in my Google Reader this morning.
First time I made this, it was a botched, although relatively enjoyable cup. I had been too cautious about the fact that it’s CTC and at the same time completely forgotten about the fact that timers exist. You may remember that following that brewing I could report that it had not been particularly damaged by my mistake, but that it also wasn’t anything other than simply another faceless Cup of Tea.
This morning I decided to see how it would behave if I threw CTC caution to the wind and brewed it like I normally do everything else. With a timer, mind you.
The result is definitely a much smoother cup with no hint at all of bitterness or astringency whatsoever. It’s soft and silky and very pleasant to drink. Apart from this, however, not much has changed. It’s still a faceless Cup of Tea. Pleasant enough, but just not interesting at all. There’s nothing here that grabs the attention or even something that makes me thing of region specific qualities. This is disappointing when I know for an absolute fact that Kenyans can be interesting. Just not in this form, unfortunately.
On the upside, because the leaves are so tiny I’m forced to use a filter bag, there’s no cleaning out of the pot afterwards. Silver lining on everything and whatnot.
We spent the weekend in Copenhagen and this is what they had in the breakfast buffet. (There were a number of other Clipper bags as well, but one of them I couldn’t work out what was and the others I didn’t think were very suitable for breakfast.)
It contained Assam and Ceylon and the Assam shone clearly through, with the Ceylon tempering that astringency that usually gives me Assam-trouble.
I wouldn’t say it was anything particularly special or earth-moving, but it wasn’t horrible either. It was perfectly adequate for breakfast in a situation where I wasn’t about to start waxing poetic about it anyway. A tea to drink without having to have an opinion on it.