1276 Tasting Notes
Queued post, written April 30th 2014
I got this one out of the EU TTB round 2. It was one of those ’don’t think, just take’ things. :) The database entry on Steepster isn’t telling me anything useful about it, but I assume it’s either Yunnan or Fujian, because black teas called Golden Something usually are. Not always, but often enough that it’s a fairly safe assumption.
This one has a sweet, hay-y aroma which makes me believe it’s most likely Yunnan. It’s quite grainy with a bit of malt as well, but it doesn’t have the cocoa-y Fujianness. Some research was required here. I couldn’t find anything by the name of ‘golden needle’ on Teavana’s website, but I’m given to understand that they have a habit of changing their stock at the drop of a hat, so I’ll have to admit I wasn’t really expecting to find anything either. I did, however, discover a Steepster database entry called ‘Nine Dragon Golden Needle’ also from Teavana. Now I’m wondering if it might actually be the same one. That one was from Yunnan, so I feel I can say I was correct in my identification of the origin of this one too. I can’t be absolutely certain that they are the same thing, though, so I’m going to post this under the database entry that has the same name as my sample, not the Nine Dragon.
Now the taste. Oh, quite sweet and a little vegetal too. I was not expecting that sort of note. It made me think of oolong. One of those that are oxidised to the point right between the green type and the dark type and having gained a bit of both worlds. It only becomes sweeter as it cools and to my surprise the vegetal note stays. I had expected it to be a ‘first few sips’ sort of phenomenon (do doo dodo doot!) but this doens’t seem to be the case.
I think the sweetness, almost sugary in nature, is related to the grainy notes. That one was quite malty in the aroma and I believe this is what we’re having here in the form of the sweetness of malted grain.
On a related note, last night’s dinner involved pearl barley. I’ve never had that before, but it made my tummy rather happy so it won’t be the last either. Don’t worry, Steepsterites, this is actually relevant, because while we were eating it, I kept thinking it reminded me of something I’d tasted before. Something very familiar, but I couldn’t make a connection. Now, tasting this tea, I know what it was. It’s the grainy note that I so like in a black tea. That’s barley! I’ve always thought that note was much closer to rye, because it reminds me so much of a good rye bread. (I wonder if I can get barley flour somewhere around the vicinity of here… I must remember to have a look next time I come past that big health food shop in town. I want to try using it when I make biscuits.)
Towards the bottom of the cup, that Yunnan-y hay-y note is coming out more, followed by the characteristic twinge that some people describe as pepper. If I hadn’t already worked out the origin before, it would have been quite obvious now. Normally I find this note, in larger amounts, somewhat off-putting but since we’re getting towards the bottom of the cup here, I don’t mind it. The tea is also quite cool now.
I feel like this was a tea in three stages. First stage when it was very hot, the sweetness and vegetal note. Second stage, when it reached a more easily drinkable temperature, grain and more sweetness, and now third stage, quite cool, all Yunnan-y. I thought the second stage was the best bit, which is lucky because that really makes up the majority of my experience with this cup.
Queued post, written April 29th 2014
I got this one out of one of the EU TTBs, although I must admit I cannot remember which round it was. It was with equal parts trepidition and curiosity that I took some of it.
Once upon a time I had an orange blossom oolong which was utterly delightful. I can’t remember which company it was from, but I believe it may have been Shang Tea. Last year I thought I wanted one again and while I was shopping with Jenier I noticed they had one, so in the basket it went. Unfortunately that was an all round disappointing experience as it turned out to have a lot of jasmine in it and next to no actual orange blossoms of any sort. I can’t abide jasmine. It’s like drinking perfume. I’m sure I must have looked this one up before taking some of it, so I feel confident that it doesn’t say anything about jasmine.
Still, though. It might be stealth jasmine.
Steepsterites, I am traumatised by previous experiences with stealth jasmine! It’s not as bad as stealth hibiscus, but it’s up there!
It smells floral and vaguely citrus-y. Good! Nothing here that makes me think of jasmine. I can also pick up some of the base which seems to have a cocoa-y note to it. I think that suits the orange blossoms quite well.
Hooray! No stealth jasmine! No obvious jasmine either! Instead, something floral and citrus-y on a clear dark oolong base. This is not a tea which has been doused in perfume and flowers. It’s scented, not flavoured, it feels like, and I feel like I’m first and foremost drinking a dark, relatively strong and quite cocoa-y oolong. A Wuyi one, perhaps? It doesn’t say, so I can’t know for certain, but it strikes me as one (in my quite limited oolong experience).
I find with a tea like this it’s important to be aware of what you’re drinking. If you expect something orange-flavoured, you’re going to be disappointed. Because it isn’t. It’s not orange. It never has been orange, it never will be orange. It’s orange blossom and that’s not at all the same thing. Scented, not flavoured, and first and foremost it’s the oolong rather than the flowers. It’s a common mistake to make, which is why I’m pointing it out. I’ve done it before myself. It’s probably wrong of me to refer to the oolong as the ‘base’ at all, really.
This is not on par with the memory I have of that by now nearly legendary orange blossom oolong of yore which may of may not have been a Shang, but to be honest, it’s possible that I’ve built that one up in my mind to such a degree at this point that even if I had the very same one tomorrow, it would not be as good as I remembered. On its own terms however, this is a very pleasant tea indeed.
Queued post, written April 27th 2014
I snatched this out of the EU TTB round 2. I think. It sounded right up my alley with the caramel, and I’ve been looking forward to trying it. Tonight the time had come and I’m having it as my before bed beverage.
I did a bit of a sniffle when I poured the water on the leaves and it smelled very caramel-y then. Not super-much like chocolate, but I did pick up some slightly spicy notes of what I believe must be the base. I haven’t got much experience with honey bush. I’ve had before a number of times, but it’s been years since I’ve had it unflavoured. Still though, it was a note that struck me as honey bush. It’s quite recognisable.
The one thing I do remember from when I had it unflavoured years ago was that I could see why it’s called honey bush and that it had a distinctive natural taste of honey. That part of the base certainly comes through here as well, followed by a smidge of spice.
I can taste the caramel as well, probably enhanced by the honey notes (and vice versa), then the smidge of spice and finally a bit of a chocolate-y aftertaste.
This is not quite as rich as I had hoped, having expected something akin to liquid toffee, but it comes close enough that I am happy. I’m glad I stole this. It’s very good.
Queued post, written April 27th 2014
Anna shared this one with me and Husband chose it as something that might be refreshing to chug after having bottled a lot of beer.
Well, let’s see. Anna found it in sort of the top end of mediocre, so chances are I’ll like it. BUT! This is not a flavoured black. It’s a flavoured green. Meaning our taste-oppositeness is put out of play. All bets are off with green tea.
I’m not very familiar with quince outside tea and similar, so I couldn’t tell you if it smells like it or not. It definitely smells like something that isn’t tea, though. It’s sort of vaguely apple-y but somehow more juicy and a bit more tart. This matches my idea (based entirely on my own imagination) of quince, so that’s fine with me. Close enough for jazz.
It’s the same with the flavour. It definitely tastes like something which matches my idea of quince. (I should point out that quince is not very commonly found in Denmark. I’m not even certain what one looks like and if you were to give me one, I’d have no clue what to do with it.) I’m also getting a lot of the base, though, which strikes me as leafy and a wee bit spicy. I’m finding I might be enjoying the base more than the flavouring here.
I don’t know about this. It’s enjoyable enough, but it’s not really something that blows me away.
Queued post, written April 27th 2014
I received this one from Courtney and I thought it rang a bell. I know I’ve had some of Teavivre’s Yunnans before, but I couldn’t remember if it was this one. I had a look through the database, and found I was both right and wrong. I had had one before, but it was not this one.
This has an aroma of lots of grain and a good deal of cocoa. The grainy note is very close to freshly baked rye bread, actually. One baked with sourdough, I think. (How detailed is that!)
It’s got quite a sweet flavour with a smidge of chocolate-y cocoa to it. For me, cocoa and chocolate are not the same flavours at all. There is a significant difference to it sometimes. It has to do with how it feels in the mouth as well. For this particular tea, though, it seems to fall right between the two and I can’t decide if I think it’s more one or the other.
It’s thankfully free of that hay-ness that plagues Yunnan blacks for me and instead has a good deal of malty grain to it. On the aftertaste I’m getting that note that some people think is like black pepper and I don’t really think it is, but I can see why they say so.
I thought initially that I would compare this to the Teavivre Yunnan I had before, but my experience of this one was so different from the other that comparing them serves no purpose.
Queued post, written April 23rd 2014
I’ve learned, relatively recently, that a ‘monks blend’ is often something that involves vanilla and grenadine. Well. Isn’t that really all the justification I need to nab this one out of the EU TTB round 2?
Vanilla and a relatively tart sort of fruit seems to generally be a winner for me. There is the fabled Late Summer blend from AC Perchs which has vanilla and cranberry, for example, and the very idea of vanilla and grenadine in tea (who am I kidding? In anything! ) holds a great appeal to me.
This one smells both tart and sweet. I can easily tell that there is vanilla in it and the grenadine is equally clear and easy to detect. I can’t pick up anything of the base, though, which is a shame.
Gosh, this stuff! This is very similar to the aforementioned late summer blend, actually! It’s just grenadine instead of cranberry, and to be entirely honest with you I don’t think there is that big a difference between those two things to begin with.
I’m tasting primarily pomegranate-y grenadine. The vanilla smooths everything out and adds sweetness before the pomegranate comes again in spades on the swallow. I should have liked to have a little more vanilla in this, but it’s very good already as it is. It’s weird with flavours, really. In almost anything flavoured I want to be able to taste the base as well as the flavour. Except vanilla. There is always room for more vanilla.
I was skimming other people’s posts about this one, and came across one written by Anna. She didn’t like this blend very much but she wrote that she thought it would probably be something for me. I laughed when I saw. How right you are, Anna. How right you are.
Queued post, written April 23rd 2014
I enjoy a cup of puerh now and then, but it’s not something I really drink very large amounts of. It’s not really the same way as with green tea and similar where I have to be in the mood for it. I think it has to do with the effort involved. Drinking pu-erh tea is a commitment to drink the same tea for a long time, and I just don’t always have that sort of attention span. I get bored. I want something else.
Even so, I took some of this out of the EU TTB round 1, and have been waiting for a good time to have it. Last time Husband had a puerh he didn’t much like it, so I’m not going to bother giving him this one when we have so many others that he enjoys much more. Therefore, drinking it on a Wednesday is the way forward.
For once in my life I actually did a quick rinse. This seems to be the primary advice given to people who like puerh but find it a little harsh. I’ve never had that problem myself, so I’ve never bothered. I did today though for reasons that… Well, for no particular reason actually. Call it an experiment.
It smells like mushrooms and cinnamon. I’m a bit puzzled by the latter. I wasn’t expecting that. I wonder if it might be a result of residue on my strainer… Not impossible, but it has brewed a number of non-cinnamon-y things since it’s been in contact with cinnamon, and none of those had cinnamon notes in them that should or shouldn’t be there, so I’m leaning towards the belief that this tea actually smells like cinnamon.
The flavour is a bit thin, but again there’s a lot of cinnamon notes in it. I’m not getting too much in the way of mushrooms until the aftertaste, and I can’t immediately spot any stronger earthy flavours. There’s no feeling of farm animals to this. I say farm animals because the first time I had a puerh it invoked strong memories of my great-grandparents’ and the farm they had when I was little. It shaped the whole puerh experience for me. I want this note in my cup. I want this association.
I don’t know where those farm animals have gone here. I wonder if the rinse step stole them from me. If that is the case this will be the first and last time I ever bother with a rinse. I want my farm animals back.
That said though, it is an enjoyable cup. Remarkably cinnamon-y and quite sweet with an aftertaste of mushrooms and broth.
When I first posted about this, Hello.Kiki suggested trying it as a cold brew. I thought that sounded like a good idea, so I did.
It works very well as such! It’s very elderflower-y and sweet, reminding me of elderflower cordial. Give it at least 48 hours, though. I tried a little yesterday and it’s definitely better today.
I’ve found that rooibos blends haven’t generally worked so well as a cold brew for me, because they tended to be mostly rooibos-y and not very much of whatever it was flavoured with. Now I think maybe it’s just because it requires far longer in the fridge before drinking than I thought.
Queued post, written April 20th 2014
Here’s a tea that MissB shared with me. I used the whole sample in one go and shared it with Husband. He found it very pleasant indeed, but he’s biased when it comes to lemons. :)
At first when I poured water on it, the liquid was very green. Almost as green as a kiwi! I picked the pot up (glass) and went to show it to Husband, and although it was still quite green then, it had yellowed some so he didn’t see the full effect. I’ve noticed green teas often do this. They’ll be actually green when you pour water on but then they turn yellow or golden in colour. It’s still fun while they’re bright green though. :)
I’m afraid I rather quaffed it while looking at pictures of dresses. My mother in law turns 60 later this year and would like to make her party 50s themed. I’ve been searching high and low for a rockabilly dress which doesn’t cost a fortune and which it sounds like fits. I think I’ve found one, so I’m very much looking forward to it arriving. I don’t want a pencil skirt. Rockabilly complete with petticoat or nothing! Anyway, this was rather a distraction from tasting the tea properly.
I’ll try to write what I recall then. I assumed it would be bergamotty what with it being called something with ‘Earl’ and there did seem to be a little bit of it, but not very much. Just as a sort of background thing adding depth and a hint of a floral note to the lemon. The lemon was at the forefront and it was a fresh, fruity sort of lemon rather than a sour one. In fact I’ve still got a lemon-y sensation at the very tip of my tongue.
It was really very nice.
Queued post, written April 20th 2014
Four red fruits! This is a flavour that I am quite partial to, but for some reason rarely buy. This is a sample that Courtney shared with me.
This one smells strongly like cherries. Unlike many of my co-Steepsterites, I was never as a child subjected to fruit-flavoured medicines. The only time I ever had any illness that required antibiotics as a child I was an infant and therefore don’t rightly remember. It was probably given intravenously then anyway. Other than that, the closest I come was some cough medicine that my father once bought. It was the sort where you put a tablet in a glas of water and it goes psssh-pssssh-psssssh and disolves. Supposedly it was supposed to taste like raspberry, but it was not like any raspberry I’d ever come across then or since. It didn’t really taste like anything other than medicine and it didn’t help the cough much either. Other cough medicines were usually strongly licorice flavoured because they contained licorice extract, but that hasn’t stopped me from eating licorice with great relish.
So for me, a strong note of cherry is not a turn-off and it’s difficult for me to imagine how it could be for anybody. I mean I can understand why it is. But I can’t imagine it.
I feel like I’m picking up some raspberry and strawberry in there as well, but it’s muted by the cherry. There’s a feeling of something a little tart as well, which fits with red currant. A 4RF where I can smell all four fruits! This bodes very well indeed.
The flavour is very close to the aroma. Primarily cherry, with the other three under the surface, but still without masking the base completely. I can even pick up some grain-y notes from it under the flavouring.
This is very good and very well balanced. I like that the emphasis is on the cherry as opposed to the raspberry and strawberry, because usually in these blends the cherry is the flavour I have the most difficulties picking up. The red currant is not very easy to find, though, but I think that’s for the best. If it was stronger, the tea would have been very tart.