1319 Tasting Notes
We were having dinner with some friends last night and was given a cup of this on arrival. GOSH that was awesome following some very easy-difficult ring shopping (easy for me, difficult for him) and a whole lot of walking.
I’ve had this one before in a sample tin and I had some difficulties brewing it right. I found it very finicky. This is also one of the reason I tend to prefer Chinese blacks. You can get away with a lot more abuse with those.
Last night, though, it had been made just right and I was surprised at how sweet it was. Although the Kusmi info about it doesn’t say what sort of teas it’s blended from, apart from country of origin, I’m still convinced that it contains Darjeeling, or if not Darj, then something very similar. I find both Sikkim and Dooars to be similar to Darj, and I don’t really care for either.
NinaVampi shared this one with me, along with a few other vanilla flavoured things. Vanilla and green tea struck me as a funny combination. It wasn’t one I would ever have come up with on my own. Vanilla is simply something I associate with darker teas.
The aroma of the dry leaf surprised me. It didn’t really smell like just green tea and vanilla. In fact I couldn’t really find either super easily. I thought it smelled much more strongly like brown sugar.
I love brown sugar. It’s so much more rich in flavour than ordinary sugar, and it’s excellent when used in baking where it gives an almost caramel-y flavour. You should have tasted the apple crumble I made the other which had lots of brown sugar in it.
Brown sugar. Not a bad thing to smell like. I hadn’t seen it coming in this tea at all, but there it was. Loud and clear.
Interesting, thought I. I wonder how a tea sweetened with brown sugar would behave, thought I. The latter in spite of the fact that I never ever sweeten my tea ever. Then I wondered how coffee would turn out if sweetened with brown sugar as opposed to ordinary white, because I do sweeten coffee if I can. I haven’t tried that yet, though. I might.
Anyway, after steeping the aroma has sorted itself out and is no longer brown sugar-y in the least. Not even a little bit. I can’t work out if I think that’s a disappointment or not, considering how it seemed such an outsider note to begin with. Now it actually smells like green tea and vanilla, and as I suspected, it’s a most peculiar combination. It smells a bit creamy too and very very familiar.
I am certain that I’ve never had a green vanilla flavoured anything before, at least not when counting back to a time where I can actually remember what my experience with it would be, so this is something that really made the little wheels and cogs turn in my head until finally it came to me.
I used to have a rhubarb flavoured green tea from AC Perchs. This one smells very like that one. I can’t remember if the rhubarb one had vanilla in it as well, but I’m almost certain that it must have. This aroma has developed into something almost as pink and bubble-gum-y as that rhubarb green.
I liked that one, so this is a heartening discovery.
And then comes the actual taste. Well, it’s most definitely green tea, although I can’t tell which sort. I get a sort of yellowish colour from it, so I would guess that it might be Chinese. Japanese greens tend to feel more dark green, and I have no idea of colours for other green tea producing regions. Quite vegetal and somewhat butter-y, but other than that I can’t really decipher it. It’s just so… basic, really.
As for the vanilla, it’s… not there. There’s something vaguely dusty in the flavour, but it’s not very distinct and it might as well just be a floral note in the base tea itself. There is a certain sweetness involved but again that might as well just be naturally occurring in the base. I get no vanilla in the sip and I get nothing in the aftertaste as well.
Actually, I’m finding myself sitting here and missing the very pink rhubarb note that I remember from aforementioned rhubarb tea.
I’m marking it low, not because the flavour wasn’t pleasant, but because it doesn’t deliver what it promises.
You may consider this a continuation of the post I wrote a couple of days ago, and which you can find here http://steepster.com/Angrboda/posts/106070
If you can’t be bothered to go link hopping, I wrote about this tea in multiple (4) short steeps but didn’t come to a rating conclusion because I found the four infusions so vastly different from one another. Some had elements that I really like and some had elements that I dislike, so it was all rather confusing. Over all though, I found it a bit wan and as though there was something missing.
This time I’m having it steeped western style. This is what I mostly do, so I have more of an idea of what to expect here. In my experience western style usually yilds a darker and deeper sort of infusion, where gong fu is more about picking up on smaller nuances. Compare it to impressionist paintings. Western style gives you the big picture and only that, where gong fu allows you to step closer, inspect the technique used in painting and the combination of colours and then piece it all together into a whole yourself. I suppose that makes gong fu an exersize in tea tasting, where western style becomes more like having the answer sheet handed to you.
This in turn leads me to wonder if the reason I tend to prefer western style may in fact be due to being lazy.
Anyway, I have made it western style today, and I do indeed now sit here with a considerably darker and deeper sort of brew.
This time I’m getting none of the floralness that I had objections about in the earlier attempt. The aroma is all bready and toasty, and with a certain amount of autumnal notes to it. Like the smell of leaves on the ground in the forest in mid-autumn. A bit earthy and a bit wooden as well. Mostly though, it’s toast and freshly baked goods I’m getting. If I really really concentrate, there is a mild chocolate note in it as well, but I can only find it if I’m searching for it and then only if I hold my nose in a very specific distance to the cup. I suspect it’s some of the toastiness that gets transformed under these circumstances.
The flavour is all dark and earthy now, and there’s a nutty top note on it. It’s like I first get the basic earthiness and then the nutty note pops up at the top of the mouth and works its way downwards to the tongue. A bit wooden, but mostly nutty. And lets face it, most nuts are kind of woody in flavour anyway.
As with the aroma, I’m getting a lot of toasty notes in along with the nuts, but it no longer gives me any baked goods associations. Toasted nuts, perhaps? That makes sense, actually.
There’s an intersting difference between my gong fu results and my western style results. Gong fu gave me the barest hints of caramel, but in this round the barest hints of caramel has turned into strong hints of chocolate. Apart from both of those being sweet flavoured, they’re not really related flavours at all. I think it’s the deeper feeling to the western style flavour that does it.
As it cools a little, the nutty notes take over and it’s a very toasty and nutty sort of profile. It tastes a bit like it should be a little astringent, like many nuts are, but when you pay attention to that, you find to your surprise that it’s not astringent at all.
The aftertaste is woody and nutty as well, and unlike the gong fu session, here it’s very long, prickling on my tongue and palate long after I’ve swallowed. I always appreciate a good long aftertaste IF it’s a pleasant one (green and white teas for me often aren’t). It’s like it makes the cup last longer.
Maybe it makes me rather a philistine or perhaps I’m just too bone idle to really appreciate gong fu, but I do prefer western style brewings most of the time. Gong fu is fun to experiment with, but for me that’s all it is. I like the depth that western style provides.
Gosh, that took its sweet time to pop up! I think over an hour is a new record for me. Easily a new record actually. Then I didn’t dare close it for fear that it would take another eternity to get the posting box open, so this is actually being posted many hours later. I wrote on it every time I had an infusion, so you will see a noticable change of mood further down.
I am so in the mood for Steepstering! So I went and looked for one I had not tried yet and one I expected I could probably write a small novel about. Oh yes. Made the boyfriend a pot of blackberry flavoured black and dove into the small, short steepings of this one myself.
I have to admit I didn’t get anything noticable out of the dry leaf aroma at all. It was just sort of… there. I’ll have to go back and have a second sniff and see if I can’t coax something out of it.
For the first steep, the aroma is quite strong. It’s toasty and ever so floral! Very very floral. Like a flower shop floral.
So floral that I’m surprised it doesn’t overwhelm the flavour of it completely. There is a strong floral note at the forefront there, but it’s at a tolerable level. At the back end of the sip we have the toasty note, creating a fair bit of aftertaste. It’s not a very long one, though.
In the middle, however, there is just… hot water. It’s like there is a hole in the flavour, like something has been removed. My brain wants to fill in with something a bit woody and slightly caramel-esque, but it isn’t actually there.
For the second steep, the aroma is noticable weaker, but it has a more uniform sort of appearance. It’s sweet and kind of borderline caramel-y. Very soft, with only slight floral aspects.
The flavour has evened out a bit too. The floral beginnings have receeded and the toasty note is bigger and starts earlier. While it is longer, though, it’s no longer long enough to actually make it all the way to the end of the flavour. Odd that. It has moved.
There is still however a bit of a gap between the two and also at the very end, the toasty end-note having moved closer to the middle.
For the third steep, I lengthened the steeping time a bit this time, and the aroma has increased in strength accordingly. It’s toasty and sweet, smelling rather like caramel, and the floral note which was prevalent on the first go is all but gone. I can’t say I miss it either.
The flavour has become fuller as well. The toasty note has once again moved forwards and is now the first thing I notice on the sip. A burst of toasty, but unfortunately a rather short burst. Then it peters out at the end of the sip and leaves little to no aftertaste. Like the aroma, there is a thick, caramel-y aspect to it, reminding me a bit of brown sugar.
So far, I like this one best. I could even imagine myself making and discarding the two first steeps so I could get a mugful of this, without having to drink a total of 1½ liters of tea.
For the fourth steep, my mood has taken a nose-dive. I’m doing something which must be done, but I hate it. It’s difficult and frustrating and even if I had limitless funds, I would still hate it. So give me some therapy tea, please. At this point and under these circumstances I actually considered dropping this and making something fruity and/or dessert-y instead, but I can’t be arsed to clean out the pot, so I suppose we’ll just continue what we started.
Note, it is now 20 minutes to 7pm. I started this at around noon, I think. It has been an ongoing project.
Now, I rather enjoyed the third go on these leaves and so I’ve been equipped with Expectations. I want something like the third. The aroma, however, have weakened a bit again, in spite of the fact that the steeping time go another notch upwards. Not much, I don’t think, but there is definitely a difference. The profile of it is still the same same as the third.
The flavour has weakened as well. Again it’s the same as the third, only paler. The toasty is a bit less toasty, the sweetness is proportionally represented. And there is still no aftertaste to speak of.
Given how this has taken me all day and how I don’t really think the fourth delivered, not to mention aforementioned frustration, I’m going to stop here, I think. I defintiely want something with more comfort in it at this point.
I’m not sure how to rate this. None of the infusions really gave me anything which made think ‘yes, that’s this tea’, possibly because they were so different and sometimes very very far apart on my likes-dislikes scale. I don’t think I’ll give it any rating at this point. I’ll wait until I’ve had it brewed western style like I do almost all the time anyway.
Oh hello all! It’s been ages since I posted, hasn’t it? I’ve been distracted lately. Lego Harry Potter apparently deeply addictive and I’ve been playing it at almost ever chance I’ve had for the last two weeks or so. Apart from just telling the HP story, there are all these other little goals of special things to collect in the game and it’s knocking my OCD into overdrive. Collect ALL THE THINGS!!!!
I’ve had this one a few times already, and I initially ordered it because it’s a blend with vanilla in it. Vanilla and orange peels and apparently possibly a bit of red fruits. From the description I honestly can’t work out if there is red fruits flavouring added as well, or if that’s naturally occurring note in the blend.
Whatever it is, though, it doesn’t matter because I haven’t really been able to identify it anyway.
But yes, vanilla blend. It’s my vanilla obsession, still going strong. The boyfriend realised the other day exactly how many vanilla teas I’ve got currently, and the mocking would take no end. It didn’t help when I pointed out the three or for that he had missed or were blends with vanilla in them. I had a swap arrive from NinaVampi the other day and while he has seen it, he luckily for me haven’t made the connection yet. Three more vanilla teas! :D
I can’t help it, I’m searching for the perfect vanilla, aren’t I?!
It’s fun, actually, obsessing about a specific flavour like that.
Anyway, this one. Vanilla. Yes. Check. I wasn’t too interested in the orange peel aspect to be honest. Citrus flavouring is one of those flavours that have to be done just so in order to be really good, otherwise they’re just meh. Not bad, mind. Just… not interesting. I also couldn’t quite imagine what orange peels and vanilla would be like in combination.
But vanilla. So I bought it.
I can now report that orange peel and vanilla work rather nicely together in this one. The base black seems to be fairly strong, probably a Kenya, I expect. LPdT has this label coding for their teas which tells of region of origin and this pouch has the African label on it, which is what I’m basing my Kenya assumption on. It’s a good choice, I think. I find that a tea has to be at least medium strong, preferably stronger, in order to successfully carry citrus flavouring, especially if it’s citrus peels.
So the base and the citrus peels are prominent here. The vanilla is not obvious at first. But when you’ve had a few sips, you suddenly discover it and wonder how you didn’t see it before. Like camouflage. You see a picture of some mottled trees or something, and somewhere in there you know there is a moth, but you have to search for it. And once you found it, it’s totally easy to see it’s there. That’s the vanilla here. Like a fog creeping in on the flavour, slowly but surely, adding more and more to the vanilla experience. It’s everywhere, but near the bottom of the flavour in a sort of attempt at discretion, happy to let the citrus run the show.
I quite like vanilla in blends like this. Near the bottom and just adding a thick and creamy substance to an otherwise fruity flavour. I find that the vanilla in the Late Summer blend from ACP work much the same way, only that blend is a lot brighter than this one. This one seems heavier and darker. If tea had age groups this one would probably be late middle aged and starting to get somewhat curmudgeonly. (In comparison, the aforementioned Late Summer blend is somewhere in the late twenties or thirties)
And it’s funny really, that I find the vanilla is best in blends this way, because that’s not at all how I want it in a straight vanilla flavoured tea. Then I want much more power, brightness and sparkle on the vanilla.
This was a pretty good choice. I might buy it again sometime, but I’m not sure I really super-urgently need to once I’m through the pouch.
I’ve sort of lost the whole tea writing mood lately, as you can see from all the short I’m-behind-posts. We’re having this one right now, though, and I’m going to make myself sit down and write something pseudo-intelligent about it.
I like a Keemun to be largely smooth and rounded, but with a little bit of a smoky edge to it. Just a bit. I like the smokier tasting Keemuns better than the more floral tasting ones, and my least favourites are the ones that fall right in the middle of that spectrum because they’re so confusing!
This one has a mild aroma. It’s grainy and kinda sweet, and unfortunately it’s one of those where I can’t tell whether I think it’s more one or more the other. sigh In many other things I would call that a perfect balance, but in this particular kind of tea? I really really want it to be more smoky than floral. I really can’t decide what I think here, and now I’ve put lotion on my hands and can’t smell anything other than that so we’ll just move on.
The flavour is going a lot better in terms of leaning towards smoky or floral. Unfortunately for me, it’s more floral. Still, it’s better than the middle of the scale.
It makes up for this, though, by being extraordinarily cocoa-y. It’s just not a note I’m connecting with this type at all, normally, so it’s really interesting to find it here. It was actually the boyfriend who found it and pointed it out to me, and now I can’t untaste it.
It’s like all the grainyness that I would normally have expected to find has been transformed into cocoa. How interesting!
Another thing that’s interesting is how I’m apparently the only one to have thought it more floral than smoky… It makes me feel a little disappointed in my own tastebuds.
I’m dithering about this one. It’s a very good tea, yes, but it’s not at all what I want in a Keemun. I have to say, I miss the grain. I miss the association to proper Danish rye bread, dark and wholegrain-y, like this http://www.grillguru.dk/forum/userpix/1312_DSC_1283_1.jpg (not my site, not my picture. The magic of Google image search)
I’m definitely very much enjoying this one, but it’s not… it’s not it! So, if you were me, would you rate it solely on the experience of this particular cup, or would you deduct points for not being what you wanted it to be?
I’m going to give it a tentative score. Then we’ll see if I end up adjusting it.
Let’s just get one thing clear here. This will probably not be news to most of you.
Fujian black = OM NOM NOM NOM!!!
That said, let’s move on.
I should do a proper intro first. You see, you may have heard about this here massive order I put in with Le Palais des Thes recently. Massive. Massive, Steepsterites. When the boyfriend came home and saw the opened box, this is what happened.
“That’s for work, right?” says he.
“Um, no…” says I.
I was being Looked At
“What?” says I, somewhat defensively.
“That’s enough tea for an army!” says he.
innocent look says I.
That was when I decided to not tell him about this order, although it’s much more reasonable in size with only three different teas. And yes, the LPdT one did get slightly out of hand. Slightly.
So the TeaVivre order arrived today. I have tinned it and hidden as much of the evidence as I could in my own room. I recently rearranged the Tea Corner slightly, so I’m counting on him not noticing the three extra tins that have appeared.
If he sees them, he’ll mock me for weeks.
So that’s the current status in my house. Yup. Sneaky tea. At least I don’t have to hide it in a desk drawer like I do with chocolate when I get cravings after having told him to help me cut down on snacking and sweets.
Now, tying it all back to the very beginning of the post, anybody who has known me for a while will know that when it comes socks-in-orbit-awesome, nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, surpasses Tan Yang in my opinion. I love all Fujian blacks, I’ve never met one in recent history that I didn’t, but Tan Yang is the very definition of tea perfection for me. Bai Lin came close, but not quite there. A little less wild, a little more well behaved. I love the wacky feel to Tan Yang that I get some times, when it seems to display multiple personalities between steeps, and often between sips if brewed Just So.
I have to say that the first sip of this one had me eyeing the cup suspiciously. I have, it appears, been drinking the wrong Bai Lin. This one hits almost all the markers that I love about Tan Yang. The only one missing the wacky feeling, but I can’t tell that from just one cup anyway. It might be there.
There’s nothing well behaved about this. It’s loud and self assured. It marches into the room shouting, “BAI LIN IS HERE! HI FANS!” It’s not at all subtle, but it seduces me all the same.
But I expect you lot wants to know about my experience in more descriptive terms as well. The aroma is malty sweet and a bit grainy. I got a whiff of caramel, but only because the flavour told me to look for it. You see, this has a pretty good caramel-y note. It’s mostly in the aftertaste and it reminds me of the dulche de leche (an expensive and rare luxury) I had on toast for breakfast this morning. The body of the sip is all long and grainy and dark, but at the very front was where I found the real surprise. Sort of prickly, kinda floral and kinda almost pseudo-smoky! More floral than smoky, but it was definitely pointing vaguely in that direction.
And that, I expect, is what broke the Good Boy image for this one. That’s the sort of thing I expect from Keemuns and Tan Yang. This tea definitely feels male to me, which is peculiar, because all other Bai Lins I’ve had struck me as rather more female tasting.
(Yes, flavours occasionally have genders. They sometimes have colours too.)
This one was had for the first time under circumstances that didn’t really lend themselves very well to analysing the flavour profile.
It did, however, go extraordinarily well with home-made crumpets on a sunday afternoon.
(Also, am not making crumpets again any time soon. Took all damn day!)
Dear those with whom I have shared AC Perchs’ raspberry oolong
You may wish to have a closer look at this one. Due to the horrible shipping costs caused by Danish post non-service, many of you have been saddened that the ACP was unavailable to you. I suspect this one would be a good alternative, although I haven’t yet done any proper sort of comparison between the two. Still, many, if not most, of you loved the ACP and based on that, I think you would really like this one too.
Oh dear, I’m behind again.
I took about half of what I had of this one and added vanilla beans to it JacquelineM style. Base tea + vanilla bean cut in pieces -> leave alone for a few weeks -> taste.
I added first one I had in the cupboard, and then the week after bought and added a second one, seeing as the first one was kinda ancient.
The result is not actually vanilla flavoured. I think the base is too strong for that, and it would have needed more vanilla from the start.
It did, however, add a sort of generic sweetness to the tea and took it up a few notches from bland and boring and dull to not-quite-interesting.
By no means is it awesome. But it’s certainly better than before.
As I’m posting this under the base’s entry, I shan’t change the points, but for this result, I’d probably kick it up around 55-60 points.
Since we have discovered recently that sweet flavoured rooibos is not completely unacceptable to me, I finally felt brave enough to try this one. It’s one of those that I’m not sure where came from but which caused me to wonder what on earth the sender was thinking to give it to me. It’s just a small amount, though, and I’m making just one cup of it. We shall see if it’s pleasant.
It smells sweet and almond-y, so so far so good. That’s a very heavy smell, thick smell, that, so the actual rooibos is very well under control here.
Unfortunately it’s a bit more sweetened rooibos-y in the flavour, with the almond showing up as more of an aftertaste. It’s a very good aftertaste, but I would have preferred it to cover the rooibos up completely. Can’t have everything, though, and it helps that it tastes sweetened.
I wouldn’t say it was awesome. But it’s definitely on the better end of acceptable.