1282 Tasting Notes
This is one of the oolongs I bought from TeaSpring the last time I shopped there. The mission was to put out some feelers for a replacement for Shang Teas Clear Jade Orchid, and in the process I let it get a little away from me. I don’t think I really considered this one a candidate but the whole shopping process was going so well… You know?
Anyway, this one also goes by the name of White Cockscomb and it’s one of those that has a legend attached to it. Somehow those legend teas have a special appeal to me. I think they speak to the mythological and creative bits of my soul. This may have been part of the reason I decided to try it. It’s also not impossible that I was seduced by the fact that it’s a Fujian tea. In fact, this is very likely.
I don’t think I’ve ever tried this particular oolong before. I think I would have remembered if I had. I mean, I can’t make any statements regarding Dan Cong or Da Hong Pao because I don’t have any experience to speak of with them, but I know I have definitely had both and had them more than once. So I think I would remember if I’ve had this one before, at least if I’d had it more than once. Why am I justifying this anyway? As if I’m not supposed to be having something for a second time ever. Let’s just leave this whole train of thought.
The aroma of the dry leaves didn’t hide their Fujian origin. There was that fainly wood-y note of general oolong-ness and a fairly strong sweet note of something very cocoa-like. Not quite cocoa, but close enough to put that association into my head. After steeping the aroma is more or less the same. Very cocoa-y and sweet and not super-honeyed, but there is definitely some honey there.
So I was expecting a mouthful of something sweet, sort of cocoa-y and what I actually got was kind of wooden and vegetal and completely unexpected. Of course it has cooled a bit now because I was roped into a weird discussion before I could really get started on this. There is a certain grainy-ness coming out if I sort of slurp it a bit. It’s there all the time, but slurping makes it stand out a bit more. I suspect this is the same thing as when you slurp wine a bit and get more air mixed into it, the flavours will develop more and grow. With this grainy-ness I also get some of that cocoa-y note back and I’m quite pleased with this. We’re getting back to that Fujian-ness that I know so well and away from the strange initial vegetal, oddly yellow, flavour of the first sip.
It’s definitely not a candidate for the Clear Jade Orchid replacement at all, but as mentioned I don’t think I ever thought it would be either. In its own right, I’m finding it quite enjoyable. Shame it’s so expensive though.
Sample number four out of ten this week! Hey I’m doing quite well!
This is one I can’t remember where came from. I’m a little concerned about what sort of impression it’s going to leave me with because it came in a ziplock pouch which had originally contained a TGY sample from Norbu. How does one clean those bags for re-use? How does one avoid TGY traces in the new sample? Oh well, at least it wasn’t a super-strongly aromatic one that was in there before, so I don’t imagine it to be much of a problem, really. But the idea of it puzzled me.
This one looks like a dark oolong and the leaves smelled like a dark oolong, with some cocoa-y notes to it, but after steeping, it suddenly smells greener. Kind of butter-y and vegetal. It still has the cocoa notes and the dark oolong oak-y notes too, though, so you can probably imagine that it’s a bit odd. (Again, I think of that TGY…)
The flavour is also a funny mix of two types, and it’s not just that it tastes like one of those oolongs that seem to be exactly half-fermented. It more like a blend of two. (TGY ghost? None of the others have described this, but on the other hand none of the other posts are very detailed.)
What I’ve actually got here is a very complex flavour profile, and it seems to change like a chameleon several times in just one sip. At the very front of the flavour I’m hit by something floral. Then immidiately after that follows something vaguely like cinnamon and after that we get something fruity, almost peach-y, but not as juicy. Finally the aftertaste is very green tea-ish and slightly minty. Of the cocoa notes in the aroma, I can find nothing.
I’m not going to award points for this because I don’t feel certain that the sample isn’t contaminated by what was previously in the pouch. While what I’ve got here is very enjoyable indeed, there something about it that strikes me as sort of… off. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be that way. If there is no contamination, however, it’s a very lovely tea indeed.
Sample three out of ten this week.
This is one that Auggy sent to me. Auggy is special because it has previously been determined that she and I have nearly identical taste buds. It’s uncanny how much we agree on the subject of tea sometimes. Consequently she has never managed to send me something I didn’t like. She has sent me things I didn’t love, but never things I didn’t enjoy immensely. And I feel pretty safe in that regard anyway, because we also dislike many of the same things so it would be unlikely that she would own them in the first place.
I have to say, though, this one is a bit peculiar. I have been wary of it for a long time now, I think Auggy sent me this package in summer. It definitely wasn’t too long after we moved in here. I’m not very keen on flower scented ones, and I have slowly started to figure out which flowers I can tolerate best and which flowers mean there’s a risk of disaster. Magnolia so far has been in the former category (if anybody’s curious, jasmine is in the latter), but still. Flowers. Wibble
This is the week for it, though! It’s like Brave Week. So I took this one, and I made me a semi-gong fu-y cup.
At the first sip, I had already forgotten about the magnolia aspect and thought I was just going to get an ordinary sip of ordinary Dan Cong. After I had recuperated from that little nasty shock, I found that there wasn’t really anything to be afraid of here. When you don’t expect magnolia, it tastes extremely odd, by the way.
I’m getting the oolong through the scenting loud and clear, but it’s sufficiently masked that I can’t get much of an impression of it. It could be almost any dark oolong, to be honest. I’m not sure about this honey note that TeaCuppa is talking about. Maybe it’s there but it’s so elusive for me that I can’t seem to pin it down.
The scenting is not too powerful at first, but this is not something that’s suitable for my mug size. It really needs to be drunk before it cools off too much, because the scenting gets stronger as it cools. So while it was pretty mild and pleasant while it was piping hot, it’s taking a nose dive into Perfumeville now that it’s cooled off considerably. That’s a shame. I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve somehow wrecked it by not drinking it fast enough.
Sample two out of ten this week!
Actually this one is sort of cheating a bit, because the whole point of these sample challenges is to get some of the older ones that I’ve had around for a while used up, and this one I just got today. I did a swap with Infusin_Susan and this one was included as one of a couple of bonus samples.
It’s even more cheating for sample week, because this isn’t one that I think would end up lying around untried for very long anyway. It sounds so interesting! I’m totally intrigued by the idea of honey flavoured tea. I’m not sure honey and pear would be something I would come up with on my own, but why not?
The aroma was definitely strongly honeyed, both dry leaf and after steeping. I didn’t get much pear on the aroma, mostly just the honey. I find this odd, because it seems the majority of people have found it to be strongly pear with a little honey around it and my impression is exactly opposite. Maybe they’re right? Now I’m sniffing at this and am suddenly unsure of what I think it smells like. But I do still think it has more honey than others seem to think.
The flavour is strongly pear, definitely. It makes me think of the big light green ones that turn yellow as they ripen and they have little brown dots on them. I can’t remember what the sort is called. Lukas?
I’m getting honey almost exclusively on the swallow and the aftertaste, but not in the flavour proper. But is this a bad thing? No, because that’s what honey taste like. It has a stronger flavour just when you swallow and it leaves a good strong aftertaste, and this is exactly what this tea mimics. It’s not enough to make something taste like something else. One also has to pay some attention to how that something else is actually experienced in its proper form. I think I’ve just realised when a flavoured tea is the Perfect One and when it’s just good.
That said, I wouldn’t call this the perfect pear tea or the perfect honey tea. I don’t know, I find the combination a bit odd, I suppose. I’m sure it’s great as a dessert, but I’m not sure I think it works super-well as a tea flavouring.
I’m not getting any real impression of the base black, other than I seem to be picking up a small amount of astringency, but not very much. It could be anything really.
I’m glad I got to try this one. I’m quite enjoying it.
The first sample finished of hopefully ten this week, is one of the three freebies I got with my Jeeves & Jericho order. The other two I was fairly certain I wouldn’t like (and one contains hibiscus, so that’s a confirmed dislike), so I’ve given one of them away and will have to sort out what to do with the last one. I’ll probably unhand that one as well.
Anyway, this one was the only one that I thought I would find drinkable and even then, I’m not super-keen on EGs at all.
I found this one to be quite strong in both flavour and aroma. Actually, as the flavour and the aroma were so close, I shan’t bother to write about them separately.
It’s quite strong and very bergamot-y, rather too bergamot-y for me, but it’s also slightly creamy and quite smooth.
In spite of the strong bergamot, which I don’t really care for, I found it surprisingly enjoyable, although to bergamot-y to be really good. For someone who is fond of EGs, this might be a pretty good choice.
Sample seven! I made my goal, I did! I think maybe I could get rid of a LOT more samples if I set myself a more ambitious goal. I frequently put down ‘finish X samples and Y tins before buying new tea’ goals and those work well for motivation, but I wonder if maybe I should aim for a higher amount of samples next week. Ten perhaps? Yes. Ten samples done and decupboarded next week.
Anyway, I was in a caramel mood today, largely because I have placed myself on Snack Control. Have even been out and got excersise! Ew, yuck. Several hours later I’m still coughing a bit. I feel ooooooooooold! So yeah, that’s why I was really feeling the lust for this one now.
Cteresa sent it to me and she recommended that I had it with a little milk and sugar in to get the most out of the flavouring. I never add anything to anything save the rooibos the other day, so I wasn’t really very keen on just doing it now without at least trying it neat first. There was just the right amount of leaf for my small pot which empties into a large mug, so there was enough that I could easily try it both ways.
I brewed it like I normally do, completely forgetting that I was recommended to also make sure to stir it thoroughly both during and after steeping. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.
First I tried it neat and the flavour was all daaaaark and slightly astringent. There were three equal parts to the flavour for me. One part nutty, one part caramel-y and one part cocoa-y. I wouldn’t say that any of these were stronger than the others, it seemed a fairly even and seamless mix to me. I suspect the astringency I mentioned earlier is a result of these flavours rather than the base tea, because the base is a Keemun and that has no business being astringent.
Next I tried to add the milk and sugar as recommended, and it definitely made the tea sweeter. I suppose that’s to be expected really. What with having added sugar. Flavouring-wise, I’m afraid I didn’t really feel it made much of a difference, possibly because I’m so unused to having any additions in tea at all. I find it a bit distracting when it’s there now.
That said, yes, the milk definitely brought out the caramel a lot more and made it amore sweetie sort of flavouring as opposed to the very dark profile from before. I’m just not sure I didn’t actually prefer it without additions. I think this blend might have benefited from having a little vanilla in it as well, to create that sort of creamy sweetness without having to add things.
I have already decided to make a Yumchaa order the next time I shop, so I will probably buy some more of this. Then I’ll have to conduct a number of experiments with it and additions and vanilla. At any rate, a caramel flavoured tea will definitely get used up fairly quickly around here.
Having the last half of this this morning for sample finishing week, sample number five.
Let me guess. Chá is Portuguese for tea?
So para fazer um bom chá might be something like loose leaf of black tea?
Am I close? Wildly off the mark?
(Shame it doesn’t come with a pronounciation guide. I should have liked to have seen my Brazilian’s face when I came to work and spouted Portuguese at her. :p These days when I do, she tends to roll her eyes at me, but it’s her own fault for having taught me to swear! :p )
Ricky sent me this one back in August. I remember it was August, because he had taken pity on me for the Steepster club not being available internationally and sponsored the first box for me, and he also included a number of other things. So for once I remember.
I’ve been scared of it ever since. That creepy face on the label doesn’t help either.
I’m feeling brave and encouraged to embrace a whole new world these days though, due to the rooibos that Cteresa (enabler!) shared with me that I really liked. I asked the boyfriend if he was interested and at first he decided to pass, but when he discovered I was only making a small pot, so he would only be getting half the amount of our normal mugs, he too decided to give it a go.
I was surprised at how dark it brewed up. Some of it is because the holes in the strainer is larger than these leaves, but that doesn’t account for all of it. It’s almost as dark as your average black tea, only this has a sort of funny greenish tint to it.
The aroma was the second surprise. It smells very much like a relatively mild pu-erh. I hadn’t expected that. For some reason I was expecting minty. I think because in my brain I want to compare it to mate, which I think has a minty sort of smell. Why do I want to compare it to mate? Because the leaves look the same and because they both come from South America. That’s how much imagination I’ve got.
Flavour-wise, here comes the third surprise. Based on other posts and the information from 52teas, I was expecting a much stronger flavour, but it’s come out surprisingly mild, considering. I brewed at a cautious temperature, though, so that might have something to do with it. I was just expecting more pang, really.
I find it a bit coffee like on the end of the flavour and there’s a funny tingling aftertaste, a bit like I get from mate as well as finally that minty touch. Mostly though it’s just sort of earthy and a bit like a somewhat pale shadow of pu-erh.
Honestly, I’d rather have real pu-erh.
Sample number four dealt with. I can’t remember where this one came from, but I’ve had it for ages because… generic green tea in an ordinary bag. There’s something not super-tempting about that. But I suppose that’s exactly what this sort of week is for, isn’t it?
I hadn’t even bothered to look it up on Steepster and put it in my cupboard, it seems. Only reason I’m even posting about it, is because I found it when I looked it up to see if it would require removing from cupboard or not, and since it was here, it seemed silly not leave a little note on it.
If you have never had green tea before in your life and decide to try it for the first time, DON’T pick this one as your first attempt. This tastes nothing like real green tea. It’s slightly bitter and with a sort of generic flavour that isn’t really anything other than NOT black, if you get my meaning there. It tastes a bit minty which I suspect is aroma contamination and rather like paper which can only be bag contamination.
It’s not unbearably bad, it’s completely drinkable. It’s just not something that will be very recognisable as green tea if you don’t know that’s what you’re supposedly having.