1149 Tasting Notes
I thought I would be finishing off Sample Week with this one, but it turns out I’ve had it before, although it’s a decupboarding, it doesn’t count for Sample Week.
Apparently I wasn’t best pleased with it when I had it before. Too spicy and grassy and with a funny feeling in the esophagus like the heat of alcohol, and I said I couldn’t figure out what the supposed muscatel was supposed to be like. (I know it’s a sort of dessert wine, but I don’t like that sort of stuff so I don’t know what it tastes like)
There’s a strongly wine-y aroma to this cup. The first time I described it as honeyed, and I don’t disagree with myself on that, but it’s definitely wine-y this time. Hot wine, some sort of sweetening agent and something floral-y spicy. Mostly the fruity, tangy wine though. Very grape-y. NOW I get what the muscatel is supposed to be covering here!
The flavour is exactly the same. It’s smoother than the first time I had it, from what I can tell from the first post I wrote, but it’s tangy, wine-y and grape-y and it has retained that alcoholic warmth feeling as well.
I’ll stick to the old rating of this. I don’t really like the alcoholic note, and it feels like drinking warm wine. No thank you.
It is saturday, early evening and the boyfriend is cooking something or other involving lentils. I’ve been editing all day (booooring!), and it occurred to me that the Sample of the Day would have to be now, because when we’ve eaten, I’ll probably be elsewhere watching tv for the rest of the evening.
For that reason Sample Week continues with something easy, and ‘something easy’ is defined as ‘something in a bag’.
I’m not really that fond of mint. I can eat it in most things, and I can tolerate it in teas although it’s not something I’ll ever really seek out, I don’t think. I absolutely cannot stand it as the filling in After Eights or similar chocolates, although there I believe it’s more a question of not liking the cream than not liking the mint.
So mint herbals is something I drink when I’m ill and real tea tastes funny, and it’s not something I would be likely to seek out as flavouring in tea on my own.
The aroma is quite minty. It’s very like a basic mint herbal only a bit weaker. Probably the green tea holding it back a little. I can’t find any notes of green tea anywhere in the aroma though. Only mint.
So the aroma isn’t really that promising for me, but the flavour turns out to be better than the aroma. The actual mint flavour isn’t really that overwhelming although it is still pretty strong, and here I can definitely identify the presence of some generic green tea of some sort. It’s not possible to discern any specific characteristics of it, other than the fact that it’s definitely there.
There is a whole lot of mint flavour, but the base of the green tea, and the fact that it’s detectable, is keeping the whole thing grounded a bit. A pure mint herbal, when the tastebuds are not hindered by illness, to me tastes a bit like a solution of water and toothpaste.
The green tea here keeps the same fate from befalling this tea. It’s more grounded, less flimsy and a lot more pleasant.
or ‘Rosted Dong Ding’ as the sample pouch would amusingly have me believe.
Irrelavant typos aside, however, I have in the past had some very good experiences with roasted Tie Guan Yins, so based on that I have high expectations of this one.
The aroma is very distinct green oolong, but with a layer of toastyness surrounding it. It’s acutally a pretty interesting smell. It’s all crispy and crunchy and stuff. Í would say that it’s a golden-orange smell, but given that the colour I’m thinking about is the exact same colour as the brew in the cup, I don’t think I can blame synesthesia on that one.
It really is a very nice colour. The white china is looking quite handsome as background for this tea.
The flavour is interesting as well! It has a strong note of something sort of tangy and fruity, like a middle thing between mandarins or apples of the not too sour sort.
Then there’s a note of pure green oolong. Not at all buttery and with just a touch of that earthyness that makes it different from a regular green. Isn’t it funny how oolong is kind of earthy and pu-erh is kind of earthy, but it’s not the same sort of earthyness at all? Oolong-earthy has a more floral tinge to it. Oolong-earthy is spring-y. Pu-erh earthy is autumn-y.
Anyway, this is slightly floral and oolong earthy, plus the indeterminable fruit-note, and all of it shrouded in nutty toast-ness. Flavourful and interesting.
And so Sample Week has reached Friday.
I am so tired today. I’m not sure this really counts for Sample Week. Oh, it does live up to all the criteria. It’s only the one cup and I haven’t tried it before. However, it was chosen specifically so that I wouldn’t get a sample that I’d end up writing whole little novels about, which I’m not sure whether or not disqualifies it. So I’ve decided that it counts if I don’t do another sample later tonight, and if I do, it didn’t count.
Being an Earl Grey and all, you know?
So what we’re expecting here is a strong black tea and a grey and dusty taste of bergamot. And hopefully not just some random lemon-y citrus, which ironically I would actually prefer tastewise, but would take off points for if it was being passed off as Earl Grey. Authenticity and whatnot, you know?
The aroma is somewhat creamy and smooth and kind of vanilla-y sweet. Still grey but leaning into a more silvery colour. (Synesthesia. I has it.) Okay, that’s a good sign, then.
Flavour, not so much. Here we have the dustyness, and something kind of lime-y as well. I’m not getting much out of the base at all here, so it feels a bit like I’m just having a week generic black with citrus juice in it. I find it disappointing that something with such a promising aroma can be so absolutely uninteresting in flavour.
Nope, this is not a winner.
And now on to other things.
Okay so it’s not a sample. It’s not even a decupboarding.
But it’s summerly and awesome and fruity fruity fruity with fruit on. And I haven’t had any of it in absolutely ages. Abandoned and forgotten, it has been kicking around at the bottom of the sample basket, but I dug it out today because I wanted something fruity and summerly.
I think I’ve got enough leaf left for one more round and then it’s over. In spite of having forgotten it for such a long time, I have really enjoyed this one.
Two out of three parts of my recent Amazon-avaganza loot arrived today and I’ve had watermelon for lunch. Lots of it, and nothing else. It’s just that sort of day. :)
We are continuing with Sample Week and after nearly forgetting it yesterday, I’m starting early today. :)
Today’s choice is a yellow tea, and I’m not very experienced with the type. I remember having had one relatively recently, but I can’t recall what it was that made it ‘yellow’ other than a process to make it less something than green teas. Grassy, I think. I can’t recall which tea it was either or even where it came from. I can’t even remember what I thought of it other than I found it fairly nice. But wether that was 60 points worth of nice or 95 points worth of nice, I have no idea.
Which is just as well because it means I can assess this one on its own merits, seeing as I still have very little idea of what to expect. Chi of Tea is another one of those companies that I’ve had a good experience with so far. I’ve liked what I have tried from them, some more than others of course, and shopping with them has been completely without problems. And they USED TO HAVE the best vanilla tea I’ve ever met. (If you’re looking, Chi of Tea, that’s a great big hint there!)
Now, this one has the same sort of aroma as the one I had yesterday. Yellowish green is the colour, my brain says. The Chinese colour. It’s thick and buttery, slightly salty and grassy and with an almost sticky quality to it. It’s the sort of aroma that gets into the nostrils and then clings on for dear life. A sort of ‘after-smell’ if you will. :)
It’s not the sort of aroma that would lead you to believe you were about to have a sip of something refreshing, and at first taste you find that it is indeed a quite buttery cup. As mentioned yesterday it takes a lot of butteryness before I think it’s properly buttery, butteryness not necessarily being a wished for quality, and this one is getting closer to it than the green tea I had yesterday, although it’s still not quite there. I do get that feeling of the palate going sort of round, but it could definitely be a lot worse.
If it hadn’t been for the fact that the flavour experience is twofold here, it probably would be. That round buttery note is one part. The other part is cleaner and crisper. It’s like a single clear-sounding little bell striking out in a murky, silent darkness. A very small sound but still heard far and wide. I like this note a lot better than the former. It tastes like hay and spring and it leaves a cool, almost minty aftertaste. which doesn’t seem to be turning sour. It just goes on and on being there, being minty, refreshing me and making me think I have nice breath as a result.
That freshness is what really makes the deal for me and seals the score. It’s not something for me to invest in, but it’s very pleasant to get to try. It’s rare for me to find a tea so awesome that I must keep it around always and have it NOT be one of the darker types of tea.
Gosh, I nearly forgot the daily sample!
Sample Week continues with a hastily chosen random sample of randomness. It was literally then topmost one in the basket.
I have a tendency to prefer Japanese greens, or greens that are similar to Japanese greens. Therefore, I’m feeling slightly wary of this. Because as far as I can tell, it’s not Japanese. Chinese greens are bit touch and go. I’ve never met one that I absolutely didn’t like and I’ve met plenty that I do like, but there is just such a large group of green Chinese teas that I can’t feel more than indifferent about. (Unless they’re flavoured, but that’s a whole other crate of fish)
There’s something I want to watch on tv soonish, so considering the amount of time it usually takes me to write these posts, I’ll try to be brief.
The aroma is, in quick summary, not particularly strong, quite ‘thick’ in character, and it has a strong note of fresh greenery. Not grassy as such, but leaning in that direction. It seems slightly salty as well, but again not particularly much. Not enough to put my off at all.
The flavour rather reminds me of Dragonwell. It’s got that same sort of boiled spinach-y kind of note to it. Again, the same greenery note from before, I think. Funny thing is it tastes exactly like it smells. I could just repeat verbatim what I wrote about the aroma and it would be true.
It’s not that very strong in flavour, not nearly as strong as Dragonwells are, and it’s a bit like taking a sip and then having to pass through some sort of curtain of hot water before getting to the flavour. It’s very smooth, and quite ‘thick’, a fat flavour, but not a buttery one. Although I think this is the character that people think about when they say a green has a buttery note. For me, though, it has to be a lot stronger before I’ll call it buttery.
This is a friendly cup. It doesn’t demand a lot from the drinker and it doesn’t attack and overwhelm the mouth completely. It just compliantly sits there in the cup, waiting to be sipped and doesn’t require a whole lot of attention in order to be enjoyed. It’s the sort of tea that would go quite well along with reading a book or watching something on tv.
Speaking of which, I seem to have written this post in record time and now have 15 whole minutes before my program actually begins. Zoooooom!
My dear Steepsterites.
Let it be known to those who have not worked it out already that Earl Grey is really not among my favourite types and that the ones that I have actually appreciated rather than just drunk are few and far between. I just don’t really care that much for bergamot, it’s such a dark and dusty flavour. It tastes so old.
This however is Monday’s Sample Week tea, and I’m sharing it with the boyfriend who has returned home from the wild abroads and brought with him our new kettle. No more messing about with saucepans, yay! It has little blue lights, five different settings, a keep warm function and temperatures and amounts written on it in two different units. And it goes beep when the water is boiling.
Anyway, the tea. It’s the first tea we’re having with the new kettle, and it was the first sample that I found in the basket which fit the criteria for Sample Week and the size of the pot needed for two people.
It has a surprisingly sweet aroma after brewing. It smells like some kind of lemon-y pudding. Creamy and sweet and not at all like an EG. Oh you won’t see me complaining here! It actually makes me really very hopeful about it.
Upon tasting my hopes are not dashed. On the contrary I discover to my surprise that for an EG this is not half bad. It’s pretty good actually!
In the flavour I can identify the bergamot, but there are other flavours going on as well, so I don’t really get that grey and old feeling from it. It’s like Earl Grey in his earliest youth, galloping about the gardens on a stick pony with his pockets full of frogs and bits of string. Maybe a scraped knee as well.
The creamy sweetness noticed in the aroma is there, tasting sort of pudding-y or slightly cake-y, and then there’s a strong note of some kind of citrus fruit. I can see PattiM suggested pink grapefruits when posting about it, and I agree with that. I eat a lot of pink grapefruits, and tasting this tea seems very similar to the flavour of a good, juicy grapefruit.
This is summerly and fresh, not so heavy and lumbering as your average regular Earl Grey. This one, I like.
Still going on with the warm-ups for sample week, and this poor thing is the choice for today.
Poor? Oh yes, I seem to be thoroughly mistreating it. A little more leaf than I would normally use for a pot, but not enough to split in two. Fine, a stronger cup then. Then the discovery that the saucepan didn’t hold enough water to actually fill the pot, so I’m having to boil more. I hate this way of making tea! Tomorrow the boyfriend is coming home, thankfully, and I have received word that kettle is safely in his possession and that it will fit easily in the suitcase.
In other words, cross your fingers that this doesn’t come out horribly wrong and I haven’t just wasted a sample. And not just any sample, a smoky sample! It almost doesn’t bear thinking about.
However, we are dealing with a Chinese black here, and as we know Chinese blacks will often take an awful lot of abuse before becoming completely undrinkable. Strange that, but it’s part of why I prefer Chinese. They’ll spring back from almost anything.
This one is no exception, and I can’t even taste any traces of the mistreatment it has suffered at my hands. It’s smoky and smooth with no hints of astringency or even beginning bitterness. Nothing. It’s just patiently coping with everything that has been thrown at it and is still coming out on top. The only thing that makes it any sort of rough or prickly is the smoke, and that’s supposed to be there.
There is a sort of tangy flavour to it, though, and not really the fruity sweetness that I’m used to in the regular Lapsang Souchongs. It’s like that note has been replaced by this slightly spicy and tangy note. I think I prefer the fruity sweetness.
I quite like it, although not as much as my regular LSs, but it’s a very nice tea.
Next week is Sample Week.
I shall do at least one sample every day all of next week, and it has to be one that I can then decupboard. If there’s more than just one cup’s worth, it doesn’t count. If I’ve posted about it before, it doesn’t count. Sample Week starts officially on Monday, but I got the idea now, so I’m warming up here.
I’ve had tons of luck with Shang Tea in the past. Unfortunately shipping expenses are such that they are out of my own reach, but I’ve had Steepsterites share samples with me in the past and the ones that I’ve tried have all been absolutely wonderful. So it is with no small amount of anticipation and complete trust that I proceed to brew this cup.
This stuff smells absolutely divine! So sweet and caramel-like. No, more like burnt sugar. And creamy custard-y as well. I am actually sitting here with a tea that has a very strong aroma of creme brulee! What an absolutely amazing aroma. I’m completely stunned by this, in spite of the fact that it smells largely only of dessert and not really of tea at all. Just having the warm steam waft up at my face from below is making me all weak in the knees.
After an experience like that, the flavour came as a surprise because it doesn’t actually taste like creme brulee. It’s rather fruity, though, and still quite sweet. I could have wished for a little more strength but I didn’t have enough leaf for my usual amount and probably should have steeped a little longer than I did in order to compensate.
However, I’m still getting a caramel-like note from it, but it’s not nearly as strong as in the aroma. It’s there especially on the swallow and in the aftertaste. All creamy and soft, and it seems to last forever. And right away too. Sometimes, with aftertastes, you don’t really get anything of the sort from the first few sips, but as you drink it gradually builds up until, by the time you’re finished with the cup, you wonder how you didn’t notice it sooner. This is not one of those times. It’s there from the beginning and it’s strong and good.
That was the backend of the sip. Seeing as apparently I’m doing it backwards today, we shall proceed to the more middle flavours. There’s something vaguely fruity about it. Kuanyin suggested melons, and I agree with that. The more I sip, the more I try to focus on it, the more I become convinced that melon is probably the nearest we can come. Those round yellow ones with the funny net-like sort of peel and greenish yellow on the inside. That’s the image I’m getting. I don’t know what they’re called other than ‘melons’. I’m not a melon-recognition expert.
The front part af the sip, the very first encounter with flavour here is something floral, but discreetly so. It’s just there for a flash and then we have the fruit and the caramel-y aftertaste.
Floral, melon, caramel. You wouldn’t really thing these three aspects would work so well together, would you? How extraordinary that it turns out they SO do.
Once again, Shang Tea has not let me down. If you get the opportunity, I would strongly advice giving this one ago. It’s just wonderful.
But that aroma! Gosh, I wish I actually had me a creme brulee now…