1319 Tasting Notes
Another Mystery Tea that we’ve never had before, and yet another free sample received with my massive order earlier this year. This one has apple, almonds, cinnamon and a little bit of ginger in it, and I chose something green for the Mystery Tea based on the inspiration in the wake of Genmaicha earlier today. (The boyfriend wasn’t too keen on that one, by the way)
I’m not too interested in the cinnamon aspect of this one. Cinnamon is great in food, but I’m not very fond of it in tea. And ginger… well, I don’t like ginger. As a matter of fact we got to test a theory the other day while on our outing and no, I definitely do NOT like ginger beer. I looked a bit like the red face on the Steepster rating scale. Blech!
The apple and almond, however, now those are things that sound interesting to me. On the other hand, apple and cinnamon is a pretty classic combination.
In the dry leaves I could detect apple and spices, but no almonds and not really anything in the way of the base. After steeping it’s just spices with something sort of juicy underneath that I choose to interpret as apple.
The first impression I get on the sip is the bite of ginger. sigh I could really have lived without the ginger here. It’s the very first note I get and after that it sort of hangs like a cloud over all the rest of the sip.
Second up, following immediately after the first ginger spike, there is some apple and some cinnamon in what feels like more or less equal amounts.
It’s not until the end of the sip and the aftertaste that I really feel like I’m getting some almond. It’s not a lot and it’s not something I can really say for certain is almond. It’s more sort of the way my mouth feels after I’ve eaten them.
The green tea itself feels a little drowned out here. I couldn’t tell you anything about it if I tried.
I kind of like the idea of this blend, actually, with some reservations regarding the spices. I like the idea of the apples and almonds in a green tea together and I would really have liked to have tried that out without the cinnamon and especially without the ginger. As it is it’s rather too ginger-y for me.
Aha! This one came from Wombatgirl (who hasn’t been around here lately, what’s up with that?) and I know this because I have posted about it before.
I went and asked He Who Was Foolish Enough To Propose how traditional he was feeling this morning, tea-wise. He looked at me funny and asked me if I was planning something crazy, to which I could only reply yes. I would have preferred to take him by surprise, but he made me tell him what the crazy was before he would give me an answer. Where’s his sense of adventure?
Anyway, the crazy was brought on by a flash of inspiration caused by the first post I saw this morning being from Dylan Oxford who was enjoying his favourite genmaicha. This was shortly after I had breakfast and aforementioned male occupant of the household hadn’t got up yet.
It gave me that cereal association that I sometimes used to get with genmaicha. I used to rather like that stuff. I used to think of it as breakfast-y because of that cereal association. I knew I had some lying around, ancient stuff and not stored very well for its age.
The first time I had this I said that it was all rice and not so much leaf. Actually I don’t know if it’s the ever on-going practise that has changed my mind or if it has just deteriorated a bit due to age and haphazard storage.
The flavour is very rice-y and starchy with a touch of salt, but underneath that I can definitely pick out some green tea. There’s a strong note of something vegetal and relatively darkish. It doesn’t quite have that vibrant dark green hue that I get from Sencha but it’s leaning towards that side of the spectrum. It’s like, I know there is that colour in my head, but somebody dimmed the lights so I can’t quite see it.
This makes me want to get back into green teas that aren’t flavoured with something else. That, Steepsterites, is HUGE! I’m a black tea drinker all the way, but right now? This stuff is inspiring.
First, YES! New icon. Same little ol’ Ang.
Second, another Mystery Tea, meaning something we’ve never tried before.
Third, I thought an oolong would be fairly certain to be something well-known and familiar. I hadn’t noticed that it was scented until after I had poured the leaves into the pot. It was a free sample I had received with my LPdT order.
It has cinnamon flower pollen and orchid pistils. Does cinnamon flower pollen taste like cinnamon? And what are pistils? These are rather more technical things than I can be bothered with right now, so let’s just simplify it a bit, shall we? It’s scented with flower bits.
Not surprisingly the aroma is quite floral, and it does actually have a fair bit of cinnamon notes in it. I can also detect the base oolong underneath, with something smooth and sort of thick smelling. This one is 50-60% fermented, so it would probably have been quite floral on the aroma even if it hadn’t been scented, so I can’t actually tell how much is natural and how much is due to the scenting process.
The flavour is surprisingly toasty and ever so very slightly astringent. It’s funny because I thought it rather smelled like something that should be smooth and slippery. It doesn’t actually taste at all like it smells. Yeah, the cinnamon notes are there in the flavour as well as the aroma and so is the floral aspect, but other than that, the feel of it in the mouth is completely different from what the aroma led me to expect.
I find this rather confusing to be honest.
The scenting seems to be rather mild. I can detect, as mentioned, something vaguely cinnamon-y but other than that I can’t tell how much of a difference scenting with anything at all has made to the base tea. This tastes very natural, so unless the base tea was really almost flavourless to begin with, scenting strikes me as rather a waste of time and money. I’m fairly certain it would be possible to find an oolong which naturally tastes something along the lines of this. Rou Gui, for example, springs to mind.
It’s pleasant enough, I suppose, but not one I would purchase.
I have decided that today is the day for Mystery Tea. That means simply tea we haven’t had before. So I’ve been looking at the very tail-end of my Steepster cupboard and discovered a couple of things I didn’t know I had.
This one for example. Would you believe I’ve been going around for ages being intrigued by this type and wondering if it was one I should try to invest in when next I can allow myself an order, and I had it the whole time?!
That’s fairly typical of me, actually.14444444444444444 Oh look a cat has been by in my absence… (Heavily abridged by cat’s owner so as to avoid horizontal scrollbars)
Anyway, this is one of the samples that I don’t know where came from. It’s from before I started my numbering system so it’s getting on in age a bit.
Let’s start with a little introductory ramble on two things here.
First of all, green tea. For me to be intrigued by a green tea at all is kind of remarkable. I enjoy it when it is served to me, but I rarely make it for myself. It has to come with a certain sort of mood, because for most of the time I’d rather have a black tea, flavoured or au naturel.
Which leads to the second things, which is roasting. Roasting tea is one of those things about the processing that I just can’t get my head around. It’s so amazing that it can be done, really, because inside my head it just ought not logically work. My brain will simply not allow for the possibility for some reason, even though I’ve got the very proof of it right here in front of me. (Well. Slightly to the left, but still)
Therefore roasted tea is extremely fascinating to me, although I haven’t yet had enough experience with it yet to be actively seeking it out.
LiberTEAS posted about an unsmoked LS yesterday, I think it was, and that tea was as I understand made like a regular LS only it had been roasted instead of smoked. She found that more pleasant than the regular smoked variety and therein stems some of my fascination.
Now, I like smoky teas. I have a specific balance of smokiness that I prefer, but once in a while it just can’t get smoky enough. Those are the times when, it has occurred to me, it’s not smoky tea I want. It’s roasted tea. From what I have seen here and there on Steepster when people have been posting about smoked teas and/or roasted teas, that smoked tea is generally considered a harsher sort of flavour than roasted tea. For me it’s the other way around.
Smoke comes in a bit prickly and sort of surrounds the flavour in a haze of smoky aroma, whereas roasting tends to be a full-on attack of the tastebuds with pricklyness and charcoal and burnt toast. Roasted tea, for me, is much more violent than smoky tea.
So this is really what I’m expecting. An onslaught of charcoal and some sweetly green vegetation underneath. Like something that has been burnt down and grass and things are just starting to grow back.
This tea brews as dark as any black tea and the aroma is definitely one of burnt stuff. Charcoal and something sweet. Like sugar spilled on a hot plate. So far we’re keeping pretty close to that expectation, there, aren’t we? I quite like this aroma. The more I smell it, the more pleasant I think it is, and the more I smell it the more I also think there’s a note of honey in that sweetness. It’s all dark smelling and brown, but it definitely reminds me a little of liquid honey. Or perhaps more of something which has been honey-glazed.
GOSH! I was not expecting this flavour! It so sweet and sugary and more honey! That’s the first thing I get. The next thing is a sort of cereal-ness. It makes me think of Cheerios. It’s the combination of the grainy notes and honey notes that does it. I can actually even imagine that I can taste milk as well, probably since, if you think about it, milk has a pretty sweet flavour as well. Finally there is something vegetal in it that reveals the green origins. I can’t quite put my finger on that note, but I get a random association to spinach. There that’s because I actually taste spinach in it or whether it’s because spinach is one of the things I just generally connect with green tea flavours, I couldn’t tell.
All in all, this roasting was not at all as harsh as I had expected. I found it quite enjoyable, and I think it’s definitely a type of tea that I need to look into more. I think I rather need this in my life. (Should have a closer look at hojicha as well, actually.)
Inspired by Indigobloom who enjoyed a Tanzanian black the other day, I decided to start the day with a cup of my own. As I mentioned in my comment to Indigobloom, tasting this one for the first time was a sort of ‘hey this is strong, no wait, this is lovely!’ experience. It’s so honey-sweet! With this particular pot, I have somehow really managed to hit that point where nice turns into lovely. I remember the first time I ordered it, half for work and half for home because the boss was uncertain about whether she would enjoy it. It’s not possible to get less than 100g from ACP’s webshop, so no samples.
This particular cup comes from when I bought another portion of it for home and that’s nearly gone as well. Although I am quite enjoying it, I’m not sure if I’ll buy it one more time (when, after July, I may) though. Maybe I’ll give that one a little break and use the space to try out something else. I have my sights on a Nothing But Tea order when that time comes, I believe. And Teavivre, I think. Although… with tax, customs and import fees being a constant threat on anything coming in from outside the EU, that’s a bit uncertain. It depends on how large an order I want to make. For smaller orders, it’s just not worth taking the risk these days.
Very uncharacteristically I felt inspired for a rooibos tonight. It’s been a while since the last one, but some of you may recall my utter shock and surprise when Cteresa shared a rooibos with me that I found really pleasant. In spite of the fact that, by itself, I don’t like rooibos. Enjoying the one that Cteresa sent me so much was really one of those Earth-shaking experiences, and it made the boyfriend suggest that I could try some of the ones that he had brought with him when we moved in together.
I tried one or two and it wasn’t really a huge success. I discovered that it’s entirely possible that not only does it have to be flavoured with something in order to be drinkable to me, but it has to be flavoured with something sweet too. The lemon-y one that he really enjoys didn’t really do the trick for me. There is both a caramel and a vanilla one in stock and I’m sure I’ve tried one of them with modest success, but I can’t remember which one. I don’t appear to have posted about it either.
So I knew it would have to be one of these two and let the boyfriend decide for me. He picked vanilla, which suited me fine. What with my persistent vanilla phase and all. Come to think of it, the one Cteresa shared with me was something vanilla-y as well. I can’t remember what else it had, it was some kind of fruit. But definitely vanilla, which makes me both hopeful and concerned about trying this one.
Please don’t let the perfect vanilla tea be a rooibos. I’m not sure I could bear that.
It smells strongly of both rooibos and vanilla at the same time. The vanilla here is sweet and all creamy so that the aroma leaves an impression of a sort of slightly spiced custard.
The flavour is pretty nice as well, actually. It’s… still rooibos-y and I could probably live with it being a little less so and a little more strongly flavoured, but the vanilla is coming through clearly and very sweetly. I do like the one Cteresa shared with me better, though, with its fruity aspect as well. I’m sort of missing that a little here, even though I can’t even remember what sort of fruit it was. Completely drawing a blank on that one and I can’t, frankly, be bothered to look it up right now. It’s late.
Yeah, this is quite nice. But I am sort of relieved that the quest for the perfect vanilla doesn’t stop here.
You know what’s weird? How I generally enjoy a cup brewed Western style more than several cup brewed Gong Fu, and yet with certain sorts of tea, I have taken to thinking in terms of Gong Fu when it comes to writing about them on Steepster. It’s a weird situation where it’s more fun to brew this way, but I prefer the result of the other way. As Dr Right was interested in having some too and I didn’t really want to skip every other steep when writing about it, I ended up in an even weirder situation where I made the same tea in two different pots in two different ways at the same time.
This one was shared with me a while ago by Ssajami. The last time I had a tea of this type I felt it was like drinking a liquid courgette, so I was curious to see if that was something unique to that one or if I could reproduce something similar in others of the same type. Up until very recently I associated this type of tea primarily with walnuts, so I don’t know where all these gourds has suddenly come from.
1. The aroma is very floral and there something almost syrup-y sweet lurking underneath the surface of it too. That floralness, though, that’s almost too much for me. It’s like a flower shop. Too much. Too strong. Almost sickening. It reminds me of a bouquet of flowers I got once where I had to air out the living room really well because they were so strong that they were stinking up the place.
It develops really really quickly though, and before I’ve even got so far as to take a sip it has already turned away from the extreme floralness and into something which reminds me most of all of gherkins. It’s even slightly dill-y. Now, I really enjoy gherkins, but tea is not something I particularly wish to find the association to them in.
It does, however, solve the mystery of how someone got the thought of flavouring tea with cucumber. I have actually tried a cucumber flavoured white tea once. It was vile.
The flavour is still quite floral, really, but the floralness mainly shows up in the aftertaste. The first bit of the sip is something smooth and slippery and very wet. You know how something which has an astringent note can taste dry? Well, this is definitely not astringent, but it’s not really the normal smoothness of non-astringency either. It just feels wetter than usual. It’s really the only way I can describe it. I know it sounds ridiculous. It’s not giving me anything in way of an actual flavour though, not until the floral bits set in. It’s just warm water, which is wet and then it’s floral.
2. The aroma this time is still very floral but less intensely so. There doesn’t seem to be any gherkins or anything of that family around this time. There is a fair bit of dill after it has developed a bit, but it doesn’t have those other details that makes me think of pickled cucurbitaceae of any sort.
The flavour is all floralness all the way. Rather too much so for me, and I feel like I’m drinking perfume. With a touch of dill in it.
Dill perfume… I… erm, no. I find myself bizarrely wanting the gherkins back. Let’s just skip straight ahead here.
3. Still floral on the aroma and still dill-y. I’m getting rather tired of these as none of them are smells that I particularly enjoy.
The flavour is exactly the same as the second round, so I’m just going to skip it.
4. No it’s still the same as before. I’m officially throwing in the (tea)towel.
For comparison, I snuck into Dr. Right’s room and sipped a bit of his western style brewed cup. He laughed heartily at how that too reminded me of gherkins in the aroma. The flavour wasn’t much though. It was somehow less intense than I had expected and impossible for me to really decipher. It had the same ‘wetness’ to it though.
For all his laughing he eventually admitted that he could kind of see where I was coming from with those gherkins.
ETA: Oh and additionally, I made myself a teatra.de account yesterday, so feel free to look me up if you like. I’m Angrboda there also and use the same icon, so I shouldn’t be difficult to find. I have no idea what to do with it though; it was a whim.
Gosh, that oolong took all day! Following these amateur gong-fu sessions, I almost always find myself wanting a break with something rather more plebeian. Something that makes the purists shudder. Something a little more down to earth and every-day like.
And if it’s sweets flavoured, even better.
Amazingly I’ve only had this once in spite of apparently having enjoyed it the first time. I suppose it’s a question of forgetting what it was and what I thought about it and therefore assuming that it was as of yet untried. Untried teas require a bit more effort than tried once, what with the posting on Steepster and all.
So I was just reading the other post I made about it and since that one was western style, I decided to semi-gong-fu it this time and see what happens. The last time I did that was with the Da Hong Pao and you may remember that I noted how the whole tasting experience feels vastly different between the two, western giving a general overview of the big picture and gong-fu providing a more detailed study, layer for layer. In the Da Hong Pao, you may remember, there were even things which I found was missing in the gong-fu-ish session.
Interesting if I’ll have the same experience this time.
So far on the first steep the aroma seems to be quite similar to what I noticed in the western style cup. It’s wooden and oolong-y and it has a strong note of cocoa, revealing its Fujian origins. I think Fujian is the region I think brings out the biggest cocoa notes. There are others that do as well, of course, but for me Fujian just does it stronger. There’s something sweet underneath, which may or may not be a honeyed note. I’m not sure about this yet.
This is one of the teas that tastes exactly like it smells. Wooden and oolong-y and with a lot of cocoa. It gets slightly floral towards the end of the sip, and again, there is something sort of sweet underneath, but I still can’t tell if I think it’s honey-y.
But again I find myself thinking, ‘I should have liked a touch of caramel notes here…’ Just like with the Da Hong Pao. What is wrong with me? Myself, you can’t have caramel in everything. You just can’t; it’s not on.
The second steep is much sweeter in the aroma than the first. Now I’m getting those hints of caramel that I apparently so desperately crave in oolongs. The cocoa is rather missing, though, so I suspect it that particular note which has now transformed. I still can’t shake that honey thought though, even if I can’t actually identify it.
This is really all there is to the aroma. Almost all of the cocoa is missing or has been transformed, whichever way you look at it, and the wooden oolongness is greatly diminished as well.
The flavour still has that woody note, though. However, it strikes me as a fairly weakly cup, because that’s really all I get. Around it there is a little bit of vaguely floral sweetness, but mostly the flavour of warm water.
On the third steep only the aroma has really changed. It’s a bit floral now and definitely honey sweet. There is a little of the wooden oolongness left, but it’s still at the same level as the second steep. Very little.
Flavour wise, it’s the same as the second steep again. A little more vague, but otherwise identical. I believe it’s time to use larger increases in steep time now.
For the fourth steep the aroma has gained a little of the wooden note back, but that’s really all there is to it. It’s hiding in the steam, but it’s there. All by its lonesome.
The flavour has the wooden note back again as well, but it’s desperately thin tasting, Like a cup of tea which hasn’t actually been allowed to steep for more than a small part of the time it wants to. Again, there is nothing here but the non-descript wooden note apart from the hint of something cocoa-y just before the swallow. Even the second and third steeps with their hot water flavours seemed fuller than this because there were other notes in there to find. Here? Nothing.
So, as this is not supposed to be a stress test of the human bladder, I’m not going to waste any more time with this and go straight for the fifth steep now with an even larger increase in steep time. For the first steeps I started at 30 seconds and raised the times 15 seconds at the time. Then I raised it by 30 seconds and have no raised it by a whole minute.
Now the aroma has gained a floral note, which has an ever so slightly sharp aspect to it. In fact, it now reminds of the aroma of a random generic greenish oolong. No woodenness, no cocoa. Just something kind of floral and something vaguely butter-y. It’s like the leaves have completely changed character.
I was not expecting this.
I wish that I could say the flavour followed suit. Alas, this is still a transparant sort of hint of wood surrounded by a whole lot of nothing.
I think we’ve come to the end of the line with this one. Western style or semi-gong-fu, this was only really interesting on the first steep anyway. I don’t think I’m losing out on anything in this one by doing it western style like I’m used to. Quite the opposite, it seems. The rating stands.
This one was included as a free sample with my Teavivre order and it’s been poking about on a shelf ever since I found out what sort of tea it was. I’m not really the keenest white tea drinker in the world, to be entirely honest. I tend to get along with added flavour better than without.
The funny thing is that not that many years ago, so recent in fact that it’s documented here on Steepster, I thought BMD was the bestest thing ever. Ever! And then… I just kinda fell out of love with it without even realising it. I even went so far as to toss almost an entire tin of it the other day when I realised that I hadn’t even touched it in years, and that it was so old by now that I wouldn’t even be able to make myself give it away.
Honestly? I felt better for having just taken that particular bull by the horns and cleared out something that would otherwise just have stood there for ever. I even managed to use that same momentum to toss a couple of other things in that same sort of category. One of these days I really have to go through the tea corner and make some tough decisions on what is likely to get used up and what is likely to simply gather dust. I have to say it’s not a job I’m looking forward to, even though I know I’ll feel good about having done it afterwards.
Now, back to this tea. I debated with myself for a bit about whether to brew it western style or whether to attempt to semi-gong-fu it, but eventually decided on western style. As I discussed previously, I often feel that western style gives me a better, deeper sort of idea of the flavour profile at hand, not to mention the fact that drinking seven cups of a tea I felt a little dubious about from the beginning didn’t really sound super appealing.
I patted myself on the back when I saw that the brewing guidelines from Teavivre are actually for a western style cup.
When I opened the little envelope, I was struck by how brightly light green the leaves were. Green tea is usually bright green as well, but this was even brighter, and it was the same thing when they were wet after steeping and a few of them landed in the strainer. I recall a much more sort of brownish and greyish sort of green.
They had a vegetal aroma, rather spicy like Darjeelings and for some reason reminded me or pea pods, in spite of the fact that they smelled nothing like any part of the pea plant at all.
After steeping the tea has a darker sort of aroma, kind of vegetal and grassy. There’s also a strong aroma of something familiar that I couldn’t quite place. This is where I cheated and looked at what other people had noted there. I normally try to avoid this, as I feel it adds a bias to my own experience. If someone says they’ve found for example notes of melons in whatever it is I’m writing about, I end up sitting here trying my damndest to find those melons too. And if I then do find them, I’m never quite certain if I really think there is a note of melons or if I’ve been affected by someone else’s experience. But this time I needed some help with identifying that note.
So I used a lifeline and asked the audience.
A couple of people mentioned cucumber and that rang a bell. For me, though, it’s more along the lines of courgettes, but there isn’t really a very large difference there. Whether it’s cucumbers or courgettes I think is a question of association.
This note is enormous in the flavour as well. Courgette all over the place. Along with those there is definitely a grassy note again, but it’s not as spicy as in the arome and it’s staying in the background.
This cup of
liquid courgette tea is probably not going to bring me back into the white tea fold. I just think that the black teas and the dark oolongs have a so much more interesting flavour than the green and whites. 7 out of 10 cups, I reach for a black tea and I don’t really expect that to change any time soon. The remaining three are typically oolongs.
It does however make me curious about a couple of other BMD samples I’ve got standing around. I’ve mostly found walnutty flavours in BMD in the past and I’m interested to see if this courgette business might happen in others as well.