1112 Tasting Notes
From the Bits and Bops Basket. This is another one with a name that sort of appeals to the imagination, isn’t it? You may remember that I previously had a tea, procured in the same way, by the name of Ancient Forest which gave me a similar experience.
Apparently this is a black, which sort of surprises me becuase the leaves are unbroken. They’re large and pretty and rolled a bit and all in all look identical to a dark type oolong. A little further investigation shows that in the Steepster info from Norbu itself it says the tea has been 70% oxidised. Well, there you have it. It is in fact an oolong and Norbu doesn’t have a proper grasp of the tea types. Tut tut tut. Norbu, for the record, if it’s not a 100% oxidation, it’s not a black tea. Regardless of the colour of the leaf. Oolongs do actually come in other shades than green.
Now that we have that settled let’s move on. The aroma of this is quite surprising. I’ve come to expect cocoa notes primarily from dark type oolongs, but this doesn’t have that at all. It’s sweet and a bit malty, but also sort of broth-y somehow. It’s a small note but it’s there all the same, lurking at the bottom of the aroma profile. Odd. That’s definitely a first for me.
The flavour profile is a bit odd as well. It’s sort of weakish and strong at the same time. The different notes in it doesn’t quite seem to mesh which gives it a watery thin topnote and something darker and stronger below. Like a sauce that separates. Given a little more time to develop, everything seems to come together again and I get a fuller flavour. That’s a bit easier to work with.
It still doesn’t have any of those cocoa notes, though. It has retained the sweetness from the aroma and a touch of maltyness. It’s not entiremly impossible that there’s a touch of raisin on the aftertaste, but it isn’t really much. It’s more an association than an actual flavour note. The jury is out on whether or not it’s there or I’m just hallucinating.
Norbu says that there should be a mild, pleasant astringency in this cup, and I can sort of catch the hint of a glimmer of one. If there is astringency to be found here, then yes, it’s certainly mild. So mild, in fact, that it’s almost not there. Not quite gone, but not quite there.
I’m finding this quite different from other dark oolongs I’ve had, and I wonder if I’ve hit upon a regional difference here. This one comes from Taiwan, where all other dark oolongs I know generally comes from China. This is the oolong that makes me wonder what the result would be like if someone in the Assam region decided to make a dark oolong. Or someone in Sri Lanka, for that matter. And what would happen if those two were blended?
In conclusion, it’s not the best dark oolong I’ve ever had in my life, but it’s a fully functional one.
A while ago I bought new teas for work and took aside a sampling for myself so that I could log it on Steepster. The Late Summer Blend, the Travancore and this one. This is (I think) the only one I never got around to actually writing about on Steepster.
I shall do it now because it was the tea I thought I’d have at work today, only the boss had already started making tea for us when I got that far and she had chosen the Late Summer Blend (which is also awesome, so no biggie)
This one, chinese black. Supposedly medium strength between Keemun and Yunnan, where, mysteriously, Keemun is supposed to be a mild tea. I don’t know, it usually strikes me as pretty robust, but perhaps that’s because of the smoky note it tends to have for me.
The aroma of the dry leaves are fairly similar to the Keemun, only without a smoky note. After steeping it’s very different. This is very sweet and grainy, and it has a fruity hint as well. Dried fruit though, rather than fresh. At the top of all that there is a whiff of floralness. So the aroma itself has a fairly complex profile.
Flavourwise, yes it does have a fair strenght, although I still wouldn’t say that it was necessarily stronger than your average Keemun. It’s quite floral in flavour, but not as fruity in flavour as the aroma was. Actually the flavour profile is a whole lot simpler here. Lots of floral flavours, a sweet underlying tone of rye bread-y grainyness and on the whole just an honest flavour of tea. Keemun-like, but entirely its own. People who enjoy Keemun should check this type out as well.
This particular cup is a bit overbrewed because I nearly forgot about it, so I can’t really describe it any further than that at the moment, but I’ve had it several times at work so far. It seems to be the one I go for if I’m the tea-making person that day and I’m not feeling in the mood for flavoured. I’m not sure yet what the boss thinks about it, though, I haven’t asked her. If she doesn’t much care for it, I’ll happily buy her out. I could definitely see myself having it at home.
I’m not sure exactly where it comes from though, other than just China. A C Perch’s aren’t too informative on that count, so if anybody can clue me in, that would be great.
First time for this one. I completely missed out on A&D series 1, but later decided that it didn’t really matter since I wasn’t a very big fan of any of the teas in it. Dragonwell has a funny mushy fishy flavour that I only in rare occassions can appreciate, the Himalayans don’t really produce tea at all that suits my particular taste, it’s all rather too Darjeeling-y and I hadn’t had all that good luck with Ceylons either.
In the recent box of hugeness, however, there was a Kenilworth Ceylon from SBS that to my surprise I’ve discovered is really very nice. Fruity and interesting and not at all like the somewhat astringent and stuffy Ceylons I new from before. Bit like an Uva Highlands I had once in the days of yore. I think it was from Chaplon. It was lovely, but no Uva Highlands sample I’ve had since have been able to live up to that. It must have been a remarkably good year that particular year.
So yeah, my interest in Ceylons, which previously occupied the smallest of places, has been poked and prodded by that Kenilworth from SBS, and now I’m thinking if I should perhaps explore it a bit further. Nothing But Tea definitely have a wide Ceylon selection, I’ve had samples from them, but I’m thinking I should possibly do another Ceylon sample set with my next order and have a closer look.
This particular one, I have good expectations of. It’s hard not to considering the company, which is one I’ve had some very good experiences with. And the name of said company.
The dry leaves have a rich aroma with leathery tobacco-y notes and a little fruity and wooden as well. After steeping it’s very sweet and malty, but also a bit spicy and with a somewhat grassy note that took me by surprise. What’s that doing in here?
The flavour, at very first sip, strikes me as unremarkable. Second sip is much the same. Several sips later, nothing has changed. There isn’t really anything in here, it’s just tea-flavoured tea. I can’t find anything special about, nothing even semi-unique.
It’s just tea.
This is the tea for when you don’t really have much time to pay attention to it. It’s the tea to sustain yourself while doing some sort of mindlessly dull chore. It’s for when you have to get up at silly o’clock and can’t taste anything anyway.
I’m ambivalent about this. On the one hand it just goes to show that I was right not to bother being annoyed that I missed out on S1. On the other hand I’m feeling quite let down by my own expectations. It’s not a bad tea at all. It’s just interesting how remarkably uninteresting it is.
First of all, Baresso = more or less danish equivalent of Starbucks.
I’m not really sure what came over me when I ordered this. I actually went in with something else in mind, and then decided I’d rather want something a little more.. refreshing maybe? Generally though, the sign just sort of caught my eye.
Also, I figured it would be faster and I wanted to catch my train.
I’m not actually a very big fan of iced tea. I prefer tea to be warm.
Erm, right. Let’s start with the tea involved here. Outhu Pekoe, which I had seen on their signs for a long time now and wondered if it was some sort of weird way of saying orange pekoe and maybe they thought it sounded more clever or something. As I haven’t previously been particularly interested in their tea selection, I haven’t bothered to check it out before. Turns out Outhu is actually an estate in the Nilgiri region of India. Interesting.
Now, the actual drink I got. They have three different variations of this, all of them based on the Outhu Pekoe and two of them just with added flavour, the third being just plain. Anyway, the added flavour is done with some sort of syrup-y concoction and a slice of lemon.
I probably should have stirred the cup because the syrup-y stuff sank to the bottom and the first third of the cup was more or less just…. lime syrup. Which wasn’t very nice. It completely overpowered everything else and felt like drinking undiluted cordial or something like that.
After that was out of the way the actual tea bit was a pretty tame experience. It didn’t actually have much in the way of flavour. It possibly would in a warm state, but definitely didn’t on ice.
But yeah, it was refreshing. Primarily because it was like drinking ice water with a bit of lemon in it, which is generally a nice alternative to sugar-y drinks.
Points not given based on whether or not it tasted good or bad, but rather based on whether or not I felt like it had anything at all to do with tea. Which I didn’t.
It’s been a while since I had this one. This was the first tin that caught my eye when looking to see which tea to make. Good choice. I knew exactly then that it was the one I wanted today.
I’ve had a little while preparing dinner, but it was really too hot still then to tell anything about it. Now it’s cooled off almost a little bit too much, but it’s still nice.
It’s got such a LARGE flavour. It’s strong and firm and decisive. If this tea was a job it would be a some sort of boasting management position with tie and suit and private secretary. And a polished brass name plaque on the door. Not snobby, though, and well-liked by its employees. It knows what it wants and how to get it, it’s not afraid of making the unpopular decision, but without being unreasonable or mercyless.
I’m glad I decided to buy a pouch of this after having received a free sample of it in my first order. It’s not something that vanishes quickly from the tin, though. This one pouch of 50g is probably going to last me a long time, simply because it’s not just a tea to have for the sake of having tea. This is the one to have when there’s time to really pay attention to it (which, yes, I can in fact do while cooking, when dinner is as simple as it is today), or when everything kind of sucks and you just need someone take your arm and re-instate some semblance of order and purpose by saying, ‘look, this is what we’ll do.’
I’m not sure what exactly it was that prompted me to have it today. I think it caught my eye by coincidence today, but there must have been some sort of factor involved with making me stick to it and not moving on to something else. Maybe it was the connection to this particular time in my life, now that I’m so close to taking the next step into an entirely new phase with our first shared home.
(Sent a letter yesterday, giving notice on my current place. It felt good.)
Well… The banana and melon flavourings are coming out very nicely here.
It’s just that underneath it the white tea is shouting insults at me and accusations of mistreatment… I may have been slightly distracted while making this cup. In my defence I was exploring Standard Panel storage options, although without finding anything super-useful.
This cup, though… Nah, I think we’ll start over from the top.
I knew for a fact that I wanted LS when I woke up this morning. I naturally reached for my standard LS from AC Perch’s, but then remembered that there was at least one LS sample included in the huge box I received recently from Pamela Dax Dean so I dug that one out instead.
I was drinking it while I waited for the computer to finish a boatload of updates to the operating system, so while I had lots of time to pay attention to it, I didn’t make any notes (Pen and paper? How low tech and old fashioned!) so I’m working just by memory here. Cup’s empty now, see.
At the first few sips the smoky notes were very very strong, almost to the point of being tarry, and they overpowered any other notes there may have been to the flavour.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of smoky teas, be they actually smoked or merely pseudo-smoky by nature, and I like it when the smoke note is strong. I do, however, prefer that in a strongly smoky tea other characteristics of the flavour are equally strong so that you don’t just end up feeling like you’re standing in a smokefilled room with your mouth full of water. Many LSs have a very sweet fruity note underneath the smoke that adds dimension and contrast to the smoke. It’s the relationship between that note and the smoke note that I’m actually looking for in an LS. (Tip: I’ve found that this fruity note is often, but not always, really coming out nicely if one uses water just below boiling rather than at a full boil) I still distinctly remember my reaction the first time I really found that sweet note in LS, and the many attempts afterwards it took to figure out what I had done to bring it out like that. Look through my posts on LS from AC Perchs if you want to see that for yourself.
Anyway, in the first few sips of this one all I got was the smoke. Lots of glorious prickly smoke, but none of the sweetness and fruityness underneath. Disappointing. It was like just getting half a flavour profile. Oh well, I thought. They can’t all be equally good, can they? It was still fulfilling the particular needs I had this morning that made me go for LS in particular. So I drank it and thought about how it wasn’t really the best LS I had ever had.
Then as it cooled a bit, however, the smoke note eased out, and the tea because incredibly smooth. Almost thick and creamy in texture and with the smoke note now only playing a supporting part. It was almost a little too thick and a little too creamy the more it cooled off, and by the time I was reaching the bottom of the cup and the tea was little more than lukewarm, it tasted like there was actually cream in it. Which there wasn’t as I almost never add anything to my tea, and if I did, I would clearly state having done so.
I have to say though that the sweet, fruity note that I mentioned before, never truly made an appearance. I found hints of it, but nothing definite and that in itself is a little disappointing to me. It’s definitely not the best LS I’ve ever had, but I wouldn’t say it’s not a good tea. It is quite nice and quite pleasant, but for an LS it doesn’t have the particular qualities that I look for. It certainly can’t beat my standard LS from AC Perch’s.
Ancient Forest. That sounds interesting. The name alone sounds appealing to me. Something that sparks the imagination. I like that. Apparently this is a Yunnan tea, so I’m curious if it will taste similar to the Yunnans I’m familiar with. Sort of pepper-y/smoky and with spicyness and sweet hay notes underneath.
The aroma is certainly similar. It’s sweet and haylike, with some prickly spicyness teasing the nose. But it’s also different. It’s a lot more grainy and rye bread-y than what I expect in a Yunnan tea. It’s actually so much so that I’m reminded more of the beloved Tan Yang than straight up Yunnan.
That’s really interesting. If one was to blend Tan Yang and your average Golden Yunnan 1:1, I wonder if the result would be something that smelled something like this.
But that’s really where the Tan Yang similarity stop. The flavour is very Yunnan-y, and the grainy aspect is not as prominent here. It’s still there, but it has retreated to the background, making place for that sweet hay and spice that is typical to the region.
It’s quite smooth and only a little prickly on the swallow, but what you find here is a very definite note of pepper. I have previously been unable to decide whether I experienced that particular note in Yunnans as more pepper-like or more pseudo-smoky, and I vascilated back and forth between the two with each Yunnan I drank and sometimes with each sip from the same cup. Here, it is very definitely pepper and there’s absolutely no doubt about that.
It’s very definitely a tea with all the typical Yunnan characteristics, but it’s utilising them in a way that just feels different. Older. More experienced. This is like the wise old grandmother, where the Golden Yunnans are the more adventurous and sometimes rash youths.
So far, I believe this is the Yunnan I have liked the best so far. It’s a hearty and full-bodied tea, and it’s just interesting. Even after having attempted to analyse the flavour profile, it’s still like I can’t get quite finished tasting it.
Someone on the board had a Keemun related question. I answered it to the best of my abilities and decided it was inspiring me.
So I went and made me a cup. It’s been a while since I’ve had Keemun. The smoky overtone to it and the sweetness and grainyness of the body.
Didn’t come out so awesomely today, though. My timer has run out of battery and I can’t for the life of me find a new one in that size! That’s what you get when you buy a cheap kitchen timer.
This morning I decided I wanted something or other flavoured, and since I have an enormous basket of things I have yet to log, I started to just take items out one at the time and then picked the first flavoured one I came across. Which turned out to be a yellow tea. For the first cup of the morning. Right. Maybe not the best timing in the world, really, but that has never stopped me before so why let it start now?
I’ve had yellow teas a few times before and I don’t honestly recall ever having been that terribly impressed by them. I can’t recall having found anything in them that I felt set them apart from other types (whites and greens in particular) and made them their own. Apparently the primary difference between yellow and green is that in the yellow the grassy flavour has been attempted removed by partly oxidising the chlorophyl in the leaves.
I can see that there has been some oxidation going on because the leaves are darker than I had thought they would be, almost resembling a very light coloured black leaf. Think Yunnan. That sort of colour. After brewing, the tea is a deep, rich yellow, very much like the yellow face on the Steepster rating scale.
It definitely tastes floral and I’m trying in my mind to compare it to the Mermaid’s Kiss from A&D and yes, I feel like I can recognise the floral flavour as being the same one. I think maybe I’m slowly beginning to learn to tell all these flowers apart. Jasmine is more dusty, while this is more sweet.
Underneath the magnolia, the tea itself is smooth and remarkably nutty in flavour. It is indeed very like a green tea that has lost the grassy note, allowing other notes to come out more. You can imagine how in an equivalent green tea these notes would have been buried and camuflaged by the grassyness that makes green tea green. So yes, I’ve learned there is a significant difference to green tea. As for the white, eh, I still can’t see a lot of difference here. This is a little more flavourful, but really that’s it.
There is also a note in this that reminds me of chamomile, but I can’t tell if that’s a note of the magnolia or a note of the tea. It does make me wonder how come chamomile always seem to come on its own or as a major ingredient in something. I’ve never seen anything just lightly scented with it or having it compliment a proper tea. I believe I have some plain chamomile lying around in the basket. Perhaps I should give that a try myself.
Anyway, I wouldn’t say this completely knocked my socks off, but it is quite enjoyable.