1277 Tasting Notes
Good evening Steepsterites.
This is our after dinner tea on this last evening of 2011, and I am attempting replicate the mysterious circumstances that led to such an ultra yummy cup last time we had it.
It seems fitting to end the old year on one of the most favourite of favourites, and I am already plotting which tea we shall see the new year in with tomorrow morning.
There are 2 hours and 15 minutes until 2012 here in Denmark, so this shall be my last post this year. There is a fair bit of fireworks going on here already, which bodes well for the display at midnight. As I moved from the town center to a smaller village, we were not sure how much there would be. We never buy our own, but prefer to look at other people’s displays instead. The cats, on this their first NYE, are aware of the noise but seem to be taking it in stride.
Happy New Year, Steepster, and if you are lighting fireworks later, don’t forget to protect your eyes and fingers.
Sometimes you brew a cup of tea exactly the same way that you always do, and the stars align just so, and the outcome is extra-nommy.
This happened with this tea this afternoon for no apparent reason. I think it must have something to do with moon phases, karma and the magnetic field of the earth. Maybe cloud formations and whether or not there’s a bird sitting on the roof as well. It certainly can’t have anything to do with the brewing parameters because they were unchanged.
So I was sipping quietly in my room and thinking, “cor, what a good cup today!” when in ticks a message from the other half thanking me for extra nommy tea today. Two souls, one thought, it seems. (And yes, we do occasionally MSN each other from opposite sides of a wall in the same house. It’s easier than shouting when you don’t know if the other person is wearing headphones. Also, less noisy.)
And if you post 12 posts in one go, I have discovered that you get to wake up to a bajillion notifications! GOOOOOOSH! O.o
First, allow me to apologise for the power-spam! Because we were travelling to England for Christmas, I did not drink these teas on the actually appointed days, but some days in advance. I could have posted some of them before leaving, but for the sake keeping things easy (for me), I opted not to split them up in the middle like that. Also, that would have involved a certain risk of me having accidentally posted the wrong tea way too early and spoiled everybody unintentionally.
What a very Christmas-y flavour! (In Denmark, Santa’s favourite food is rice porridge with cinnamon-sugar and a lump of butter on top. Is milk and cookies his steady diet in America, or is that just a delivery rounds snack? Do inform, please.) It’s now nearly ten days since I actually had this, and am just now typing up my notes in preparation for posting, so you’ll have to excuse me if it’s a bit list-ish and dull to read.
The dry leaf struck me as mostly cocoa-y, but vaguely cookie-y, but there was a funny side note of something weirdly wood-y. After steeping, I got more cookie from it, but I couldn’t find the milk. I wondered if this would actually have benefitted from having been served with a little milk in, but it was too late then, as I had already got rid of the last milk in the fridge in preparation for travelling.
This next bit is a bit dodgy. I took my notes in some sort of weird impromptu wannabe shorthand, and erm… if I want to use shorthand, I should try to develop it a bit more systematically. I am however deciphering to the best of my abilities. (Utilising some of my more acceptable handwriting would help a lot too!)
Anyway, if I’m understeanding myself correctly here, I found the flavour to be quite cookie-like and faintly chocolate-y as well as somewhat nutty, which ties in nicely with it being a cookie. However, if I tried to get too deep into the flavour and really pick it apart, everything I found seemed like something one might naturally encounter in a good quality black, especially a Chinese one. This makes it seem rather more like an enhanced black rather than an actually flavoured one.
This impression wanes somewhat as the cup cools a bit more, because this is where the milk is finally coming out to play. It feels a bit like drinking a milk oolong, only instead of oolong it’s a black. Quite weird, really.
I liked this tea and found it rather enjoyable, although I didn’t really feel like it was getting the whole milk and cookies flavouring all the way across. The idea was certainly there, but I didn’t find it to be obvious, really.
I’m not putting a numerical rating on this one, because I didn’t jot down a scale area when I actually had it, and I’m not sure trying to deduce one based only on partly illegible notes and a vague memory is really a very good idea.
Here’s another one I would have been shocked had it not been in here. (Actually, as this is the second to last, and I understand the last is a new one, there is at least one other that I’m a bit surprised wasn’t included.) I count it a bit like the pancake one. I like them, but I expect I’ll probably prefer them in solid form.
To my surprise, I found the leaves in dry form smelled a lot like mulled wine. I think it must be some of the spices in this stuff that does it, probably also the nature of the honeybush, but I was not expecting it to be so mulled wine-y. (Here’s a Christmas blend idea for next year. Mulled wine, maybe with orange also. And it should probably be on a (are you sitting down? Better sit down for this) honeybush base, I think.)
After steeping, it’s less mulled wine and much more cinnamon-y and baked goods-y. I really like the smell of this. It seems very close to the real deal, to the point where I can even imagine approximately how moist the roll in question would be.
The flavour is very close as well to a real cinnamon roll, but the honeybush adds a little extra tangy note to it which seems to stick out a bit. I wasn’t expecting that note at all, and it feels a bit like it’s trying to detach itself from the rest of the flavour and run the other way. Once I get a little more used to it being there, it doesn’t seem to be as glaring, as if that slightly tangy note gives up the escape attempt and falls neatly in line with the others.
I remember some others mentioned even being able to find notes of icing in this, but I haven’t managed that. The closest I get is the idea of icing, but then that’s fine with me.
Basically I’m enjoying this one a LOT more than I thought I would. And it’s not even a tea base. I’m shocked at myself, Steepsterites. Shocked!
This is another one I was hoping would be in the box. Caramel! Vanilla! Those are words to get me interested in many things indeed. But then the chai bit… I’m not a chai fan. Actually I’m beginning to wonder if it’s starting to look like I don’t like anything at all. I do like plenty of stuff, I swear! It just seems like I have a tendency to dislike many things that others like.
So yeah, chai. Not a huge fan of that, but due to the whole caramel or vanilla business, I was dithering about giving it a go anyway. As is quite normal for me, by the time I decided I was brave enough, it was gone.
Second chance, though. Now to see if I’m missing out hugely or if I had a lucky escape.
The leaves were teensy tiny. The pot will be easy to clean out because most of them landed in the strainer anyway and can be tipped straight in the bin.
As it is a chai, I thought it would be suitable to serve it with milk, and because it was harder than expected to pour equal amounts of milk in the two cups (sharing this with the boyfriend), it turned into rather a lot of milk. Since it’s chai, though, and these often seem to get steeped in warm milk, I didn’t think it mattered.
It smells sweet, but spicy. Very ginger-y to my nose. We’ve been around the ginger-issue before, haven’t we? Apart from some generic sweetness, I can’t really tell whether it’s caramel or vanilla or both or neither. It’s just sweet and it’s not sugar.
Due to the milk, it’s quite lukewarm, and I have to say that the primary flavour I’m getting here is that prickly ginger again. Oh and milk. It may be because I used too much milk and it got too cold really, but I can’t really find much of other flavours. A bit of cinnamon at the bottom maybe, but I’m unable to spot anything else.
As chais go, though, I’ve definitely had worse. I don’t find it super-spicy-offensive, apart from the ginger, which I could have lived without, but it’s drinkable. I wonder if the fact that I can’t find very many spice flavours in it is actually to my advantage.
Yeah, now that I’ve tried it, it’s probably for the best that I took so long to gather up the courage.
Oh dear. I don’t like ginger… It has even been decided long ago that I probably shouldn’t even bother trying ginger ale. There have been a few teas in the box that I didn’t much like, but this is the first one where I’ve thought from the start that I didn’t think I would like it. I’ve been sceptical of some others, yes, but haven’t expected something outright unpleasant. But here we go, then. In for a penny, in for a pound and all that.
It smells ginger-y, but also sweeter than I had expected. Not as stabby on the nose. I suspect that’s the white tea shining through.
Okay, not more procrastinating. Here we go.
Yes, it’s ginger-y and not really very pleasant for me, but it could have been a lot worse. Just like with the aroma, it feels a bit mellowed out by the white tea. Or the ale-y bit, I don’t know.
Still though. Ginger. I’ll just stop here, I think, because ginger. Sorry. It’s just… Ginger.
I was hoping this one would be in the box! I’ve been on a bit of a vanilla quest since I had that awesome vanilla Nilgiri from Chi of Tea, but I never tried this one before. First of all, it came out before my interest in something vanilla flavoured really took off. Second, I was a bit concerned about the Assam base. I’m rather ambivalent when it comes to Assam, you see. When done right they can be very pleasant, but when done wrong… It’s not a pretty picture.
More and more though, I became interested in trying this one after all, Assam base be damned, but of course by then it was much too late. So yeah, I was putting some hope into this Christmas box! I know Frank is reblending everything in the box for sale, but as I’m way ahead of you as I’m writing this and will be in England by the time the rest of you get to opening this one and it becomes available on the site… If I like this one, I’ll just have to cross my fingers and hope there’s still some available when we get home.
IF I enjoy it.
The aroma of the leaves were strongly vanilla-y and also very Assam-y. All malty and strong and stuff. It seemed an even mix of the two aromas. After steeping, it’s mostly vanilla, and it’s a creamy sort of caramel-y vanilla. It’s almost honeyed. I think it’s the sweet, malty note in Assam and the sweetness of the vanilla that are interacting to create this extremely candy-y note. The aroma is definitely a win. (Could it be…?)
In the flavour, I’m not getting an overwhelming vanilla note. At first it’s generally clean Assam, and then the vanilla comes swooping in on the aftertaste, practically filling my mouth with vanilla. Oh. Oh dear. I was afraid this would happen. I do so hope that when I get back from England there will still be some available of this. This is exactly what I want from a vanilla flavoured tea. It’s my perfect vanilla black, and it’s limited edition. How bloody typical!
Honeybush, eh? Once upon a time, I quite liked honeybush. Worryingly, back then I also rather enjoyed rooibos, which I don’t care for at all these days. Last time, and the only time in years and years, I had a chance to reacquaint myself with honeybush was that pina colada blend which I also didn’t like, although primarily that was because of the alcohol note.
I’m also extremely picky when it comes to coconut flavoured things.
So honestly, once again, I’m concerned.
On the other hand, I recall the coconut cream pie blend which I found quite pleasant. And I definitely do like cheesecake. So maybe I’m being overly cautious?
The aroma is sweet and creamy and coconutty, so although it’s not spot on cheesecake for me, I can recognise a cheesecake somewhere in there. Primarily, though, I’m getting a strong note of cinnamon. Does this have cinnamon in it at all? It shouldn’t, as far as I can see. But cinnamon sugar is a very strong association for me here. The whole thing, far more than cheesecake, reminds me of a real christmas-y rice porridge with cinnamon sugar and butter on top. That is food for nisser! ( cough Idon’tlikericeporridgeeither cough ) I suspect it’s the honeybush itself that gives me that cinnamon idea.
I’m quite puzzled by the flavour. There’s something sweet on the swallow, but most of the flavour is unfamiliar to me. Maybe it has to do with me not being experienced with honeybush and therefore isn’t certain of which flavours are there naturally and which are part of the added flavouring.
I can find coconut in the flavour fairly easily and when I really pay attention, I can also distinguish it from the honeybush, which, the more I think about it, the more honey-y I think it tastes. No matter how carefully I concentrate, however, I cannot find the cheesecake.
So a coconut flavoured honeybush is all I’m finding here, and you know what? To my vast surprise, I’m finding it rather pleasant, although I’m still not feeling any need to explore honeybush further.
This smells awfully sugary sweet. It definitely smells like warm marshmallow. Or fondant. Yeah, fondant. I can’t say as I’m too fond of either to be honest. I prefer marshmallows at room temperature and just as they are. And only whipped cream in my hot chocolate, thanks.
So yeah, I’m a bit concerned. All those fruit blends, where did they go?
The flavour is marshmallow spot on all right. There is lots of it too and I can also tell by the nuttiness underneath that we’re dealing with a genmaicha base. But it’s sooooooo sweet. And sticky. And sweet.
And rather too much for me, to be honest, which probably points back to aforementioned reservations about warm marshmallows. You know how sometimes you want to make tea sweeter? So you add sugar. What do I add to make it less frightfully sweet?
No, this is just not one for me. It’s too sweet and too much and too… It’s too much. Even my sweet tooth of considerable proportions can’t keep up with this.
The boyfriend thought it was okay, though. I gave him the rest of my cup.
One more on this day, because were had missed a day earlier.
I knew this one would be in here. It has been so popular and so raved about that there was just no way it could not be in here. Welcome to Bizarroland.
In spite of all the ravings about it, I have only had a small fleeting interest in it myself, and I’ve always got over it fairly quickly again. I just prefer fruit blends, and while I think it’s all sorts of fun that these blends are being made, I’m not really that interested in purchasing them. Whenever I’ve seen someone post about this blend, it has always inspired me to want pancakes, but only as a food, not as a beverage.
Now I get a chance to try it anyway, though, so here we go.
In our house we always have pancakes on saturday mornings, so it feels really weird for me to try this one on a wednesday evening… I tried to make the boyfriend guess what it could be, but when I told him that he wasn’t think bizarre enough with his guesses of caramel (although he’s close to something there), he got too bizarre. Frank, please don’t ever make a blend flavoured with iguana steak and electrocuted marshmallows.
He was right about it smelling caramel-y. Knowing that it’s maple syrup, I can recognise it as such, but if I hadn’t known, caramel would have been my guess as well. I can also pick up some notes of warm butter, but not really the actual pancake.
The flavour has an initial burst of warm butter as well, followed by tea and something batter-y side by side. The batter-y note has that sort of flour-y texture to it like real batter, so while I wouldn’t say I’m finding it spot on pancake, it’s definitely something in that direction. The maple syrup shows up on the swallow and in the aftertaste and while it tastes more like regular caramel than maple syrup to me, it does leave that same sort of feeling in the mouth afterwards that maple syrup does. A bit like it’s opening the palate a little bit. Regular caramel doesn’t give me that sensation.
I’m finding it a quite pleasant blend. It’s still not one where I will join the hordes in singing its praises, the horde is doing that quite well without me, but I am rather surprised to find myself enjoying the cup. It’s very well done, but me, I prefer something fruity and I still prefer to have my pancakes as solid food.
(Had I had more than just for one pot, I would probably have tried mixing it with my apple flavoured black, since we prefer our pancakes with apple chunks in. I can’t test that, though.)