1324 Tasting Notes
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.
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.