1257 Tasting Notes
I usually make the tea in this household. I seem to be the one drinking it the most or at least being more conscious of when I want some. So it very quickly turned into my job. For the first cup in the morning I typically make us a pot of something non-flavoured black of my own choice. If it’s flavoured it’s the Smoky Earl Grey, which I can stretch to a morning tea in spite of the flavouring on account of the smoke in it. So anyway, first cup is strictly my choice unless he requests something before I can make some.
After that I tend to ask him for preferences or show him one that I want and ask if he wants some. Sometimes I even force him to make a specific choice by asking elaborating questions about flavoured or non-flavoured or which type.
For this cup the answer was ‘something new’. Well that’s a rather wide concept when I don’t know what’s new to him. I can remember more or less what I’ve had and not had out of the collection, but I can’t remember what I’ve been feeding him. So he came out and picked one that neither of us has had before.
‘The Sacred Fujian,’ was his word choice when he found this one in the pouch basket.
So that’s what we’re having.
It smells heavily jasmine-y. So much so in fact that for the first time I’m realising that jasmine has a very lemon-y smell. This really rather too much flower for my taste normally, but at least it doesn’t smell like it’s got a bottle of perfume in it.
It’s quite flowery in taste as well, not quite to that point of tasting like dust but it’s getting there. Very grey flavour. I can’t really find the white tea underneath because of all this jasmine and and I feel a bit like I’m just sitting around drinking flowers.
I used to say that I’m not a fan of flower scented teas, but I think I’ll have start narrowing that down as I’m beginning to be able to notice some differences. I find magnolia acceptable enough and the honeysuckle yesterday was as well, although a bit dusty. I have not had super experiences with rose or jasmine, but I have had crysanthemum in a pu-erh once rather successfully, and there was also that one from Shang Tea once, the one that tasted like melons. Can’t remember what flower that was though. Tangerine blossoms, that was awesome.
But it seems that jasmine just falls in the Too Much area for me, which is typical when it’s the most popular flower to scent with. All in all, an acceptable tea, but not for me, really.
(I have previously reported that cats don’t like Lapsang Souchong. I can now reveal to the world that they find jasmine white offensive as well. Luna, on her way to join the Occupy Ang’s Lap movement, took one sniff and promptly changed her mind.)
So the boyfriend opted for the black currant bai mu dan from 52teas, but I wanted something I hadn’t tried before. I took his lead on the white though, and started looking at what I had. This is one of those samples that I don’t recall who sent to me.
Two things gives me high expectations.
1. As has been previously established, it is in my opinion nearly impossible for Shang Tea to do anything wrong. Ever. I have loved everything I’ve tried from them, even things I did not expect to love.
2. Honeysuckle. I don’t actually know anything about this or what it tastes like, but it’s got such a very attractive name.
I smelled the dry leaf before brewing and was struck by a very rough, earthy, almost grainy note which I can’t imagine could be anything other than the honeysuckle. That’s not really the sort of aroma I would expect from that name, I have to say. It reminded me a bit of sour dough. That’s not really something I find very nice I have to say, so my expectations are taken down a notch. Maybe Shang Tea can make something that doesn’t appeal to me after all.
After steeping, however, the sour dough notes are gone, and the aroma is very sweet and very honeyed. That attractive name there is beginning to show its colours. It’s also quite floral, but not super-perfumed like many flower scented teas are to me, and I can easily pick out the actual tea underneath.
It doesn’t taste like honey. It’s definitely flower-y and it’s got this sort of dusty dry flavour to it. I often get that from flower scented teas, and that’s why I’m not particularly a fan of them. Here’s it’s sort of looming in the background. Not really making itself known, but impossible to overlook. It’s the elephant in the room. Everybody knows it’s there but it’s just not talked about. Maybe it’s even slightly menacing and brooding. (I can’t tell if it’s synesthesia (mine is very mild and spotty) coming in to play here or if I’m just exhibiting a lively imagination)
Apart from that it’s quite sweet indeed, and I suppose that is the bit that has given honeysuckle its name. Although I still don’t think it really tastes of honey. It’s just sweet, but it’s not honey.If the aforementioned is the dark and brooding gentleman in the corner, glaring at the rest of the company, this note would be the lovely ladies having high tea with dainty cups, scones, clotted cream, biscuits, the lot.
There’s something quite Regency-y over this tea, actually.
It’s harder to pick out the actual tea base in the flavour than it was in the aroma. I can’t really say anything about it other than it’s there. Slightly nutty but not really making much of a spectacle of itself.
While this isn’t one I would buy for myself, I will have to see that Shang Tea has still not managed to disappoint me.
It seems like the Bailin Gongfu is a super-popular tea around Steepster these days. It warms my little Fujian-loving heart, that does.
And it’s inspiring too. And utterly disappointing when one realises there isn’t a single solitary Fujian black in the house at the moment. GASP! WHAT A HORRIBLE FATE TO BEFALL A PERSON! What is a household with no Fujian black in it? It’s truly poor, that’s what it is. This should not have been able to have happened at all.
I’ve got Lapsang, but that’s really a very different beast.
Fortunately my TeaSpring order is now in transit so I’ll only have to struggle through 7-14 days more before receiving a substantial amount of my beloved Tan Yang Te Ji and I can join you all in the Fujian black lovingness.
In the meantime, though, I have to look for something to substitute, and although this is an oolong it’s a Fujian oolong, so it’s close enough for jazz.
Oh Fujian. You are made from nom.
Oh damn and blast!
Last week I thought I placed a Nothing But Tea order, a quite substantial one containing among other things a Mystery Box with things they were clearing from the stocks and things they had too much of and such. I was quite excited about that one as well as getting some of the other things I had added to the order.
I think I must have missed a step though, because I was looking at my bank balance (other reason) and noticed I had still not been charged for that order at all. A little detective work followed and I can’t find as much as a shadow of that order anywhere at all. I think something must have gone wrong and I thought I placed it but didn’t actually. Perhaps a final confirmation step, or something. Unfortunately their site can’t remember the contents of the basket between visits, so… Yeah, that’s gone. I can’t remember what all I put in it now.
Shoot. Oh well. There will be other orders. Missed out on that stock clearing box, though.
In the meantime this one is nearly gone. I don’t think I’ll be re-stocking this one again. It’s good and all, but it’s not the perfect strawberry tea. I think we’ll go back to that blackberry one for a while instead, and there are still a couple other fruity teas from AC Perch’s that I want to try. I’m debating the necessity of trying their cranberry flavoured black based on the fact that I really enjoy their Late Summer blend which is cranberry and vanilla. I have a strong suspicion that I’ll end up preferring the Late Summer anyway, so I don’t know if I can be bothered to actually test it.
How much do I love this one?
Normally I make this with a water temperature of about 90°C, but on a whim today I tried lowering it even further to 80°C. I’m not sure why I did that. It was just one of those things.
I was craving this one today for some reason. My day went a whole lot better than yesterday, and I just figured some truly awesome tea would be a good thing to add to it.
Actually, that’s a lie. It was the vanilla from yesterday, really, that I fancied, but then I decided to do that thing with the temperature and thought it would be better to do that with one I knew inside and out and sideways so that I could really compare the results.
The result is that 80°C is too low for me. The tea seems a bit watery and weakly compared to my usual experience, as if it has not been able to fully develop during steeping. It lacks a lot of creamy-ness that it usually displays so prettily.
Okay, then. That’s useful knowledge. 90°C really is a very good temperature.
The Yunnans I am most familiar with are the golden ones, so this is a rather new experience for me. I may have had Dian Hong before, but I don’t think I’ve ever had it since learning the Yunnan connection, and I learned that, I expected it to be similar to all the other Yunnan’s I know. As in golden and hay-y.
But as many of you will already know, it is neither. The aroma does have that hay and spice pepper-y note that the golden Yunnans also have, but it’s not quite as grainy as they are. This has a rather more fruity nature I think, and I wonder how it would behave if one were to flavour it. Probably it couldn’t carry just any odd kind of flavouring well, but the idea strikes me as interesting.
The flavour is primarily fruity as well and somewhat astringent. I may have used a wee bit more leaf than was necessary, but it definitely has a fruity note to it. Cocoa-y as well, which isn’t a note I would normally associate with Yunnan at all. That’s more of a Fujian thing. In fact the whole thing strikes me as Yunnan-flavoured Fujian, only stronger and bolder. It has all the elements I love in Fujian black teas topped with Yunnan characteristics.
I know that this has nothing at all to do with Fujian what so ever and that it’s all in my head. But that’s the association that I get, and it gives me a sort of best of both worlds feeling about it.
I’m quite pleased with this one. I’ll have to remember to explore Dian Hong in the future.
I am on an oolong kick this week! Barely had anything else at all than oolongs. This one has been lying around for a while, I think it came from QuiltGuppy
Unfortunately it has been lying next to some fig flavoured stuff, which I haven’t dared try yet, and I thought I detected a vague trace of something figgy or date-y in the aroma of the dry leaves. The dry aroma was not generally very strong though. I had to search for it a bit in order to be able to identify it, but when I did I found it mostly wood-y and slightly cocoa-y. Perhaps just a smidge spicy too, but I can’t really agree with myself on that.
After steeping the aroma is all cocoa. Wall to wall chocolate! With nuts in. It makes me crave Toblerone, really. I’ve never been very experimenting with my Toblerone, but I’ve seen that there is a dark chocolate one, and that’s the one I want now. (Does it still have that honey almondy stuff in it when it’s not milk chocolate?) If I’m hard pressed, I can also find some woodsy undertones to the aroma, but thankfully none of that figgy business.
Flavour is a bit weak here on the first cup. I used rather a lot of leaf, and so the first steep was very short. Probably too short, as I can now tell. Mercuryhime gave me some good advice the other day of the sort that you would have thought I ought to have realised myself many years ago. Why make a whole pot each time? Why not just do a half? That way I can go through a lot more steeps without having to run to the bathroom constantly and also with growing bored with the tea and start wanting something else. The one I use when it’s just myself is one of those tea-for-one sized pots, so half of that pot makes about 250 ml. Suitable amount, I should say. Also gives me a chance to use the cup and saucer that came with the pot. :)
Anyway, as I was saying, the first steep was probably too short because the flavour is not very strong. To my disappointment it’s not so stuffed full of dark chocolate (although I still want some!) as the aroma was, but rather more wooden and earthy. The cocoa is still there, but now it’s taken a back seat to the strong wood note. It’s so wooden that it’s actually giving me a prickly feeling on the tip of the tongue. As the cup cools it becomes increasingly astringent too.
I should hope on further steepings this woodenness will calm down a bit. There is really no call for such aggression. At this point I am not super impressed.
Second steep is much like the first, only with a fuller flavour experience. As there is no real difference to be found, I shan’t document it further.
Auggy shared this one with me. I admit it was a while ago and I have had it a couple of times before, but just haven’t posted about it. I’m using the last of it now, so I have no choice but to write a proper post.
The first thing that struck me when I removed it from the package was the word barley. I thought it was flavouring! I thought it was a pretty odd thing to flavour a tea with, but I’ve seen enough bizarrely flavoured teas in my life that I didn’t consider it further. It isn’t flavoured though. It’s completely naturally occurring notes of grain and corn.
The aroma of it is exactly like corn on the cob. Freshly boiled and with butter. I can see it in my head when I smell it. Such an incredibly strong naturally occurring aroma of something else entirely I don’t think I have encountered before. I wish I had some now. Probably shouldn’t have made this tea right around lunch time, really. I suspect that was a tactical error. Nothing in the house seems good enough now.
The flavour is really difficult to pin-point. It’s definitely grainy, but not so much with the sweet corn as in the aroma. It’s also quite toasty and very oolongy with the shade of earthiness around the edges.
Underneath these somewhat masculine flavour notes, I’m strangely reminded of an average milk oolong. Smooth and thick in texture. If the top notes are a handsome young man, this bottom note is a well-rounded grandmotherly type of the sort that wears a purple dress and curly grey hair. And she will always play and she ALWAYS has sweets. Anyway, apart from this being a tea recommended particularly to people who also enjoyed the milk oolong, I can’t for the life of me see the connection or why the bottom notes remind me of that. Apart perhaps from the texture of it, there’s nothing milky about it. Strange.
So all in all, it’s smooth and soft and with an interesting grain-y finish.
I can totally understand why they call it barley oolong.