1324 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.
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.
I have sent the birthday boy off to a whisky related event with a crisp banknote and instructions to ‘buy himself something pretty. Or something wet if he prefers’. Meanwhile I’m celebrating his birthday in absentia at home with some more the Jin Jun Mei that Spoonvonstrup sent me, while laying wicked, wicked plans for an attempt at lemon surprise pudding. (If I can pull that off, I’m going to earn myself soooo many gold stars! :D) I may have to get a little creative with available crockery, but how hard can it be?
Now. This JJM is also one that doesn’t have a brand as such on it, but like the previous one, it came out of a red foil wrapper. Different from the last red foil wrapper though. Let’s just quickly, for comparison purposes, sum up what I concluded on the first one. It had a rather grainy sort of flavour and a late-comer note of smoke. Not much in the way of fruity sweetness I otherwise associate with LS, so it was a different experience than LS. In a whole other box in my brain. So this is what I’m expecting out of this one too.
The aroma is definitely grainy, but also remarkably malty-sweet. I didn’t remember that maltiness from the first JJM. Was it there? I don’t think it was. This note is so big that it would have been impossible not to notice. Again, however, there isn’t much in the way of smoke on the aroma.
The flavour is much the same as the first JJM I tried, although this one appears to just be larger somehow. It also has the smoke note showing up a lot sooner than the first one, almost at the very beginning of the sip. At first there is the grain, not as malty-sweet as the aroma, but there is definitely some of that in it, and then the touch of smoke hits. It sort of arrives in a pointed arrow-like shape and unfolds over the rest of the flavour. (Here we go with my cross-wired brain again!) Bright white against brown.
The first one had a bit of astringency to it, which the boyfriend told me was right on his border for astringency tolerance. After which he told me that a couple of the other blacks I sometimes serve have a little too much astringency for his tastes too. Apparently there is a huge difference between working this out for himself and telling me which ones it is he doesn’t care for, so that I don’t give them to him in the future. But I shouldn’t talk really. It took me a very long time indeed to drum up the courage to tell him that I don’t actually much like celery, and instead developed a technique of eating all the celery bits first, quickly without tasting them too much. Based on this and the memory of that first one, I doubt he would have enjoyed this one very much, because that too is just much larger in this sample.
I wonder if perhaps this wrapper had a lot more leaf in it than the other one did. It is a very strong cup. Perhaps even a little too strong for me. I think I liked the first one I tried better. Not because of the difference in strength only but also because this one seems a little too forceful.
And it has occurred to me that putting a rating on unknown brands is totally useless as most posts will be about different batches entirely. Therefore I have removed it and moved the amount of points into the body of the post instead.
Suddenly we now have a large chunk of this here wedding malarky sorted satisfactoraly. We had a meeting with the restaurant this morning and the battle plan for the day has taken shape. Now all we actually need is just invitations and our own outfits.
This totally calls for celebratory tea. I’m also celebrating with some chocolate cake so I chose a fruity one that might go well with it.
What I have actually ended up with, though is a rather curious blend, because it wasn’t until after I had almost poured a full cup and the contents of the pot suddenly didn’t fit, which it usually does, that I realised that I had about a third cup left from this morning. That was The du Tigres (or whatever. In this house goes by the name of Tigger Tea), also from LPdT. That one is smoky.
I think I’m about to discover what a flavoured Lapsang Souchong might be like. (Seriously, have either of you ever seen that? And I mean flavoured, not just blended into something flavoured. I would seriously like to know what that could result in)
My accidental blend of strawberry black and some cold half-day old Tigger Tea is actually surprisingly good. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve really managed to nail the strawberry on this pot. So it’s very strawberry-like and then I get some of the smoke coming in on top and near the end of the sip.
It sounds bizarre, I know, but it actually strikes me as a really interesting flavour. It makes me actually want to try and experiment a bit with smoky tea and fruit flavoured tea. Just the regular LS, though. The Jin Jun Mei that Spoonvonstrup sent me is obviously way too valuable for that sort of fooling about, and the Tigger Tea is getting a little low and the boyfriend has become very fond of it.
I have never had this before! Spoonvonstrup has begifted me with a whole little treasure trove. The whole swap got on the way because of two teas. One was the TGY from Verdant which it was deemed necessary for me to also attempt some gong-fu-ing of and this one which Spoonvonstrup thought I would be likely to enjoy. There are several different samples of JJM and most of them are brandless. I’m documenting them anyway, so that I can remember what I thought of the type later on. This one came out of a red wrapper.
Apparently, this is a type of Lapsang Souchong. I didn’t know that. Or I did, but had temporarily forgotten and was just reminded of it now. Based on that I was expecting something kinda smoky and I was surprised when the aroma showed up to be decidedly non so. It was grainy, primarily, but not really smoky at all. I found that a bit odd. I don’t think I’ve ever met an LS that didn’t smell smoky. My mind slipped to the unsmoked LS that LiberTEAs tried the other day and wondered if this was something of the same sort.
The flavour reveals that it isn’t. It’s definitely smoky now. At first when it was warmest I got a mostly grainy flavour again, sort of like the aroma and then smoke showed up as an afterthought. There is a fair bit of astringency as well, as the boyfriend pointed out and then proceeded to tell me that he thought some of my unflavoured blacks were a little too astringent for his tastes. When asked for further details he couldn’t tell me which ones they were. Apparently it’s something of a surprise that I need to know this stuff so that I can not continue to give them to him.
As I’m trying to type and drink tea around a sleepy but social cat (what do you mean make her go away??? I can’t! She’s cute!) the cup has cooled somewhat before I got very far drinking it. At this point the smoke comes out a lot more and a lot sooner in the sip. It’s quite smoky now and also somewhat grainy. The grain now merely forms a base where before it was more or less the primary note.
In LSs I like there to be a certain sweetness and fruityness to complement the smoke. That aspect is as much a requirement for the perfect LS as the smoke is. I would like to be able to say that this aspect is present in this tea. Alas, this is not the case. I’m getting a little of it out of the grainy-ness but not really to the same extent as I have come to prefer.
However, all is not lost. I don’t usually get grain-y flavours from LS in a quantity that has made me notice and remember them, and to my surprise I find that this good amount of grain in the flavour works in much the same way as that fruity sweetness. It provides a balance with the smoke, preventing the smoky note from getting too harsh and prickly. And you know, it’s quite good at it too.
Not all teas have genders, but LS is one of the few types that does. It’s male to me. I’ve always thought of it as very much towards the alpha-male end of the spectrum as well. This one is even male-r than that, somehow. If regular LS is the sort of tea that buys a motorcycle and plays rugby, then JJM is the sort of tea that travels to the moon. For fun.
Before I find myself stuck in a quagmire of gender stereotypes, I shall end the post. I really enjoyed this one. Good call, Spoonvonstrup!
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.