1319 Tasting Notes
Finally, the lychee. I can see why some people think lychee has a chemical sort of smell, and maybe it’s one of those things where, in order to fully enjoy lychee flavoured things, one needs to be familiar with the flavour of actual lychees.
I happen to think they’re very tasty, but they’re a rare guest around these parts and often expensive.
This tea, I think, captures the lychee flavour very accurately, and it does so without overpowering the tea base which is even better. It’s lychee-y and sweet, and cteresa if you haven’t already tried this one, I think it would be right up your alley.
It seems like strawberry is a difficult flavour to get in a black tea. Often I find it’s more a flavour of strawberry leaf rather than the flavour of the actual fruit. Strawberry flavoured things, like sweets and such, also often have a really synthetic flavour to them, so I’m not really surprised that it’s difficult. Strawberry just seems to be a very flighty and finicky flavour in itself, and as I’m sitting here typing it’s actually difficult for me to drudge up a memory of what an actual real strawberry actually tastes like.
This is odd, really, because strawberry is such a popular flavour to add to things.
This tea is really no different. It has dried strawberry leaf in, and that is really the primary flavouring note that I get. I can’t say that surprises me because I was sort of expecting it, but I do wish I could find one that actually tastes like berries and not so much like the leaf.
That said, strawberry leaf is also a rather pleasant flavour in tea, so I wouldn’t say it was a loss or a disappointment.
The boyfriend enjoys black fruits, like blackberry and the like, so I bought this one specifically with him in mind. I thought it was have a more forest fruit-y sort of quality but I find it’s primarily blackberry, and that it tastes very similar to the blackberry flavoured one from AC Perch’s that we’ve already got some 200g of.
So while this one is very tasty indeed, it’s not one I feel the need to keep in stock. I have an easier way to get something very similar.
I’ve tried a number of the teas I ordered from Le Palais des Thes, but I’ve only posted about a couple. I found myself with an attack of unwillingness to analyse it to death; I just wanted something nice and warm. So I’ll just do a brief round-up of the ones I’ve tried so far but not posted about.
I chose this one because I’ve always got my feelers out for a good caramel flavoured tea. I chose the Toffee because it was such a nommy sounding flavour and it caused me to debate with myself for quite a while whether or not I could justify getting both this and that. I figured the two must be pretty close together in flavouring, and surely one ought to be enough, right?
Well, this one was quite like the Kusmi Caramel. It’s there, but it’s kinda subtle and it’s easy to tell that it’s tea. It’s the same level of flavouring. I don’t know what sort of base this is on. I know Kusmi uses a Chinese black, but I couldn’t tell which base I think this is.
The toffee was more of a fudge-y dessert, very sweet and very rich, and this is more like an afternoon treat. That said, I don’t actually think it’s essential that I have both in the house at the same time, and I think I may actually be leaning more towards toffee out of the two, just as when it comes to actual caramel, I’m still leaning more towards Kusmi. Can’t say why really. It may have something to do with familiarity, to be honest.
Still, a very nice caramel tea.
Another one from the massive LPdT order, and another one of the ones that I was very excited about trying. Just the name!
Taste the word. Toffeeeeeee. It’s an onomatopoeia (look it up), that word.
The aroma of these leaves! I- it’s- they- I’m- SWOONS!
They’re all chocolate-y and vanilla-y, and all in all it turns into, like, super-caramel, even though it doesn’t actually say anything about there being caramel anywhere in this at all. But there must be, mustn’t there? Or how could they call it toffee?
After steeping, it’s the same picture of super-caramel. It’s smells all rich and butter-y. It’s like a vanilla fudge! It smells like a sweetie shop! Even if I find I don’t like the flavour I might still make it now and then just to smell it.
This is either really really REALLY good, or it’s unbearably cloying. I’m concerned now. pokes it
OH my CEILING CAT!
There are NO WORDS!
First some cocoa, then vanilla and then a soft, fudge-y, butter caramel-y finish.
You know how I always said that Kusmi’s caramel black was my perfect caramel? Let’s just say it suddenly has competition.
I’m in no state to be more detailed than this. I’m so blown away, I can’t think. Socks are well and truly knocked into orbit.
My MASSIVE order from Le Palais des Thes has arrived. The vast majority of them are flavoured. Unless you count a smoky tea as flavoured, in which case they’re all flavoured. Included also three free samples which… makes me think I’m just not very lucky when it comes to free samples. AC Perch’s have so far been consistent in including samples of things I know I’m not very keen on (ginger, jasmine, darjeeling…), and while these are not known dislikes, they’re just not really that interesting to me. Oh well, maybe when I try them I will change my mind!
I really didn’t know where to start with this order. Did I mention it was massive? It didn’t help that there were more than one thing in here that I was really very excited about. So I decided to just reach in and get a random pouch, which was this one.
Which coincidentally happens to be one of the ones that I was really excited about! And I see that it already comes with an Auggy stamp of approval. We have very very similar taste in black tea, she and I, and especially of the smoky variety, so now I know for certain that it is worth the excitement.
I have been led to believe that Lapsang Souchong, real LS, is always always always a Chinese base. Do correct me if I’m wrong. I’m under the impression that it’s probably one of those protected names by now, like how Champagne is only made the Champagne district of France and if it’s not greek, it’s not feta cheese. If it isn’t, it’s a distinct enough kind of tea that it probably ought to be.
Therefore this one is interesting because it’s a Taiwanese base.
The leaves, when dry, smell like your average LS. They’re smoky and pine-y, and with a touch of sweetness to them. After steeping this sweetness is so much stronger. It still smells very smoky and a bit pine-y, but the sweetness in the note is sort of fruity and honey-y and it makes the whole thing smell vaguely sticky and viscous. Sort of tough and chewy sticky.
I like a balance in my smoky teas, and my lapsangs in particular, between the smoke and the sweetness. A good LS has a strong and fruity sweet note which tastes like the smoke is mixed into it, so that the flavour profile comes across as one complex note. Many LSs, though, don’t really get to this particular balance and the flavour, while still yummy and smoky, feels divided into layers. Sweetness below and smoke sort of hanging randomly above it. Those that don’t really manage that perfect melded flavour feel more like standing in a room full of smoke with a mouthful of generic black.
The aroma of this tea has that perfectly balanced aroma, and the flavour is nearly there as well.
This one, while smoky, is actually surprisingly mild, which is odd considering LPdT calls it ‘smokiest of the smoky’. Erm no, actually, I have had much more smoky stuff than this.
Before tasting this, I sort of expected a raging smoke-monster with flavour up to here, and what I’m getting is a cute and well-behaved little bunny-wabbit. I have to say, I’m feeling slightly let down here.
At first, when you sip this, the flavour is very sweet and caramel-y. Caramel quickly turns into a fruity flavour, something stone fruit-y like plums or apricots. More the former than the latter, I think, but still somewhere in between. Funny that it should be caramel-y, because in the aroma I thought it was more like honey.
At about the same time I get the fruity notes, the smoky note begins and it grows to its strongest just before I swallow, leaving me with a long, smoky aftertaste.
The aftertaste is as strong as I want it to be and it’s very pleasant, so really, the aroma and the aftertaste is bang on. It’s just the middle, the flavour, that I find lacking. And that’s not really something that can be helped. If a tea is strong, it’s strong, and if it isn’t, you can’t make it. I shall just have to try and brew it stronger and see if that helps.
Still, it’s sweet, it’s smoky. Believe me, this will not be sitting on the shelf for long in this house.
I have a countryman on Steepster now! flails Before, the closest I got, I think, was Rijje in Greenland, which… it’s close, but not quite the same. Anyway, Andreastt recently discovered ACP and had a question about this here raspberry oolong that you may have heard of. :p I tried to answer to the best of my ability, but decided it was probably better to make a cup and check that I actually think what I thought I think.
Besides, any excuse for a cuppa. :D
Since it will be a teensy tiny minority who will actually be able to read the conversation in question, let me just summarise. I mentioned a few of my absolute favourites from ACP, and I was asked how fruity-tart the raspberry oolong was or whether it was all done with essence of fruit.
I answered that it contains lots of dried fruit, but that it was probably doubtful how much flavour these gave off. It did suggest to me, though, that there was more than mere essence of berries involved here and that, if he didn’t care for very tart things, it might not be something for him.
To me, though, it is quite oolong-y at first. It’s got that wooden sort of flavour of a generic oolong, and then towards the end of the sip, there is the fruit flavour, which definitely has a bit of tartness to it. Not super-tart, but there is a small bite in it. Actually the fruit-flavour is really present throughout the sip, but I find it’s most prominent just before I swallow. As if it just needs a splitsecond longer to unfold in the mouth.
It is not, however, quite as tart as I initially remembered it.
Having the last of this excellent tea this morning while listening to Whitney Houston.
Yeah. It seems an appropriate combination.
(funny thing is, I was never really a fan of hers. I have a handful of songs which I like, but that’s it. And I still have this urge to listen to her now. I had a BIG Michael Jackson phase at around age 14-15, but when he passed on, I didn’t get this same urge to listen to him.)
So I had this one before in my usual western style brewing. This time I am gong-fu-ing to the best of my abilities. I do own a gaiwan, which is standing behind me on a shelf looking nice, but I can’t for the life of me use it. I’ve tried, it doesn’t work. Using it hurts. Because I spill. I have looked up techniques, and I have practised with cold water, but I can’t not spill, and I can’t not burn myself. If I have to injure myself in order to drink tea, it’s not worth it. Not even my Tan Yang is worth that.
So I’m using my regular pot and using a cup to measure out how much water to pour on the leaves so as not to accidentally western-ify it out of sheer habit. It works okay. At least I haven’t had to MacGyver any additional equipment for it.
The first time I had this, I thought it was okay. Functional for a cup of oolong and quite pleasant to taste, but nothing particularly special or memorable. There was talk from TeaSpring about notes of the bark of cassia trees, also known as Chinese cinnamon, and I could so not find any cinnamon-y notes in it whatsoever then.
This time, first cup, the aroma is full of cinnamon! Lots of cinnamon and also something that reminds me vaguely of black currant. It’s a bit like… a mulled cordial. Yeah, that’s the closest thing that springs to mind.
The flavour is also loads of cinnamon. If I didn’t know any better, I would think this actually had actual real cinnamon in it. This is a very primary note and it occurs constantly. At first when you sip, during the middle of the sip and on the swallow, and it’s strongest towards the end there. Along with this, there is a toasted, almost charcoal-y note which rather suprised me because my nose had already made the mulled cordial conclusion. And then I was surprised that I was surprised because I should have known that it would be there. I still think it has a black currant note as well. It comes out as the cup cools and towards the bottom of the cup. Sort of thick and slightly syrup-y sweet, but not tasting as if there’s any actual sweetener in here. It’s fruit-y sweet, not sugar sweet.
Second cup, the aroma is still mulled black currant cordial, but it’s sort of darker now, and deeper. The cinnamon is not quite as out there in front and the black currant-y notes feel more sure of themselves. Like they’re really the ones revealed to be running the show, where the cinnamon notes in the first steep were led to believe they were. I think this experience is caused by the fact that the toasty note from the flavour is now also coming through in the aroma. I didn’t notice that before.
The flavour is still very heavy on the cinnamon and the charcoal, and I’m not really tasting any difference from the first go. Perhaps it is a tiny bit smoother, but not by very much. It seems to have lost the black currant-y notes, mostly, which is a bit of a shame because I was rather enjoying that one. There’s a bit left in the very last few sips, but that’s it. At least it was still strong in the aroma.
Third cup, the aroma is exactly the same as the second. Maybe a little brighter, but the same elements are there and in the same balance, so I shan’t bother too much with it. The boyfriend, by the way, when asked to take a smell, didn’t identify it as cinnamon as much as he did geraniums, but he could see where I was coming from with the cinnamon.
Geraniums. Not a good thing. Geraniums are banned in this household on account of how utterly stinky we both think they are.
Oh well, he’s not the one drinking this. And hello Luna! It’s a little hard to gong-fu stuff when there’s a cat insisting on sitting on me. She doesn’t really seem to get the whole going into the kitchen all the time concept.
Oh yeah, and the flavour is the same as the second cup too, only thinner. I think the increase in time for the fourth cup should be larger than it was between the second and third.
Fourth cup, BORED NOW! I made the increase in steeping time larger this time, but the result is the same as before. The same aroma and flavour profile only a wee bit thinner.
At this point I don’t expect it will change much going forward except gradually getting thinner, so I’ll stop writing here.
I will let my points from the first time around stand where they are, because although I had a different experience with it this time, I feel I would land on the same score anyway. It was more interesting this way, but still not really something I thought was really mind-blowing. My mind was decidedly not blown by the heavy cinnamon notes which is not something I’m super-fond of in tea, but I did like the funny black currant association I got at the beginning of the session. At least I’ve found something about it that is memorable and identifiable, namely the cinnamon note.
Not surprisingly, given the fact that the tea is named after that, really.