1114 Tasting Notes
I like lapsang souchong! I like it on its own and I like it in blends. What we have here is a blend with LS, Ceylon and Assam. It’s been ages since I had one of these!
The aroma is lovely smoky, but not as prickly as it usually is in a pure LS. It’s smoothed out by the other two ingredients, one of which adds a thick almost milky note to it. I suspect it’s probably a hearty malty Assam at play there.
A pure LS is, for me, a case of balance between smoke and fruity sweetness. Of course there should be some body to it as well, but it’s not the most important thing. With this sort of blend, however? This is all about the body. Here the smoke becomes just a detail. And so far, in the aroma, this tea has that down just right.
Flavour is primarily Assam. Again, the smoke is just a detail. An afterthought. This is almost more an Assam blend than it’s an LS blend. It’s Assam that I get in the flavour. Malty and hearty indeed and as I suspected responsible for that milky note in the aroma. It’s there in the flavour as well, telling me that this is one of the very few teas that I wouldn’t mind it if it was served with a little milk, because it almost tastes like it’s already there.
Then, to accentuate it all, there’s the smoke from the lapsang, but it really is quite discreet. Along with the smoke, I get the Ceylon addition to the blend. It tastes high-grown with a floral-y, grassy sort of note to it. Again, it’s just a detail.
All in all, I find this a very well-balanced blend and highly enjoyable.
You are a caramel tea. WHY will you not be nommy?
frustrated Ang is frustrated
I love a good Keemun and I try to always keep one around. I’ve found my perfect favourite Keemun not too long ago, but I’m not so married to it that I’m going out of my way to make sure it’s that particular Keemun that is always in the cupboard. Any Keemun is fine really. I’m loosening up in the same way with other types, I’ve noticed. I have my favourites, my most beloved, and I make sure I won’t forget where it came from when I find Perfection, but it’s only my various flavoured favourites, where I’m truly brand loyal. But the flavoured tea is a completely different beast as well.
Sil shared this particular Keemun with me, and it’s from a company that I’ve previously had some very good teas from. I remember fondly the Heritage Aijiao Oolong. Wombatgirl once sent me a whole pouch of that one as a gift. (I miss her. I wish she was still around.) I wrote a (bad) ode to that one, for crying out loud! I believe I must have a tried one or two others from that company as well. So Red Blossom is a company that immediately raises my expectations of the tea I’m about to drink.
Very pleasant aroma on this one. Lightly smoky and with grainy notes underneath. Just how I like’em. There’s a smidge of something floral to it as well, but it smells like it’s in balance with the note of smoke. I prefer that. I’ve long believed that the smoky note in some Keemuns and the floral note in others are actually the same aspect, but coming across in different ways. Seems to me that this depends on the leaf grade. Higher leaf grades are usually more floral than smoky, where lower grades are more smoky than floral. I tend to prefer sort of the lower end of the middle here.
The flavour is quite strong, and it has an initial prickly feeling of smoke with a floral character. After that it’s just completely smooth. The note of grain seems to be a tad thin though. That initial flavour is just so big, it’s like the grain can’t quite keep up with it.
As it cools a little further, however, this is adjusted as the grainy note seems to expand more, becoming thicker and smoother.
There is also quite a nutty flavour to this one, which is a new note to me. Strangely though it doesn’t feel like it’s anything new in that this tea doesn’t strike me as hugely different from other teas of its kind. It’s just that this nutty note is like something that was always there but which I’ve only just become aware of. Slightly toasted hazelnuts. It’s a very small note in all this, which is probably why I’ve never really identified it before even though I feel like I’ve been aware of it being there. Does any of this even make sense?
Anyway, as it cools a little further, I’m nearing the end of the cup here, that nutty note mellows out again and all but disappears. That supports my suspicion that it’s a note that was there in Keemuns all along, but difficult to identify. Apparently you only get a small window of ideal temperature to do it in.
Many Keemuns seem to have the ability to develop caramel-y notes, but I haven’t really found any of that in this one. Mind you I’ve never had a Keemun that went all out on the caramel yet either but I’ve had several that tasted like they could have. This one is really just the smoky/floral start, the grainy middle and the briefly nutty finish. I wouldn’t have minded a smidge of caramel in there as well.
So far I have to say this is my favourite of the Jeniers I’ve tried so far. Although, I’m willing to admit that I may be slightly biased what with the vanilla and all. I luuuurve vanilla flavouring in tea, and it seems like it’s a love affair that is only growing. Vanilla on its own, vanilla with fruit, it’s all good. I have a tea from AC Perchs with vanilla and cranberry which I’m ever so slightly addicted to. This one both smells great and it tastes great and I can clearly taste both vanilla and fruit. I’ll make a more in depth post about it later, I think.
Tell me, though, Steepsterites. When I searched for this in the database, and awful lot of Monk’s Blends came up. Is this actually one or just similar? I was under the impression that Monk’s Blend was more floral.
I thought I would start with this one today, since it has a name like ‘Good Morning.’ I thought it was pretty obvious.
I’ve seen a bunch of grapefruit flavoured teas about on Steepster but I’ve never had one myself before. Wait, I tell a lie! I’ve had some which was flavoured with grapefruit AND other things, but never one that was grapefruit on its own before.
The aroma is strong and citrus-y. Unlike the tea from Jenier I had yesterday, which was quite mild all-round, this one is very strong. It’s a creamy and very grapefruit-y beast we have here. It has safflower petals in it, which I believe is one of those flowers that haven’t got much in the way of flavour, but provides this sort of creamyness. It rather reminds me a bit of Girlie Grey from Jeeves and Jericho.
The same notes are also strongly present in the flavour. The base, just like the one I had yesterday, is once again a relatively astringent Ceylon. This is definitely a grapefruit tea, but it feels like quite a basic one.
I’m beginning to suspect that this company might be a little Adagio-y. Great selection, excellent place to start for beginners, but people with more experience and a more well-developed idea of what they like would probably want to explore a bit more in order to find their perfect versions. But yeah, seems like an excellent spring-board into the wider world of tea, if you know what I mean.
First time I’ve ever shopped with this company. I want to talk about them for a bit, because it’s not a name I’ve seen on Steepster before that I can recall, although they have a fairly large number of teas in the database. I know some of my other European Steepsterites are like me when it comes to looking up unfamiliar companies. There are SO many of them that are based in the US and therefore out of our reach due to shipping fees and/or customs fees or perhaps they don’t even ship outside the US at all. As a consequence we often don’t even bother checking and we are undoubtedly missing out on a bunch of interesting shops. Jenier Teas is based in Scotland and the shopping basket on their website calculates shipping costs automatically for you as you put things in in your own currency(!!!), making it a piece of cake to keep an eye on.
I ordered mostly samples (or mini-packs, as I believe they were listed as on the site), but it didn’t say anywhere that I could see what the quantity of a sample was.
I can now tell you that Jenier’s samples weigh a whopping 25 grams.
Fortunately, they come in ziplocked pouches, except one, which I’ve tinned.
I also received in my order a small handwritten, personalised card in an envelope with my name on it. I’ve commented on this sort of thing before. I believe it was the first time I ordered something from Verdant. It makes me feel a closer connection to the vendor, like I really am a cherished customer, and not just another face in the crowd of people throwing money at them.
So anyway, I bought a load of samples and one tea in a larger quantity. Had I known this would be the size of the samples, I might have shown a little more moderation, but I was not to know this. (On the other hand, knowing that I can buy a fairly significant amount without having to buy a LOT is another thing that will definitely make me want to shop there again.)
Unfortunately it seems that none of the teas that I bought, not one, are in the database already.
I’m feeling quite exhausted so I thought I’d have something that sounded like it might be sweet. When I saw cherries and almonds, I thought it would be some sort of dessert-y marcipan-y concoction, but it isn’t. Not even remotely.
For one thing, it’s quite discreetly flavoured. I can’t really find much in the way of cherries here, and the almonds aren’t marcipan-y at all. They’re more like eating almonds as a nut if you understand what I mean here. Both aspects are definitely almond, but they taste entirely different. It’s very nice, but not at all what I was expecting.
I wonder what the base black is here. It’s a bit tannic and harsh in the background there, so I’m guessing a rougher-end Ceylon or Ceylon-heavy blend. This seems to be a very common tea to use as a base for flavoureds. Checking the information from the shop, it turns out the Ceylon is correctly identified.
So yeah, I’m not wowed by this by any means, but I’m also not discouraged by it. Had it been horrible I’d have been concerned about the rest of my order, you see. I may try to beef the cherry aspect up a bit with another cherry flavoured black that I’ve got.
Can I just start with a small rant here? Twinings’ listing of teas in the database is a mess. A mess! There seem to be so many duplicates and at least one instance of the product description actually having a paragraph about the tea in question NOT being a duplicate of another variety with the same name. So I couldn’t find a proper entry for the particular one that I’m having now, but I did find this. A variety pack entry? I’m sorry, but isn’t that just kinda lazy? Shouldn’t the five different varieties all have their own entry in the database? Why would you enter it as a variety pack where nobody can see what it is you are actually drinking? I don’t get it.
But then, I’m finding myself with a fairly low amount of ‘get’ today and also not too much in the way of patience, really. We just got back from England around midnight last night (family occasion, and not one of the happy ones), and we’ve been half staff at work today. Add to that being extremely tired from aforementioned travelling and little sleep and the scratchy throat that I seem to have picked up somewhere between England and Denmark.
Aforementioned family occasion, which I don’t think we need to go further into, was an out of town sort of affair, so we stayed overnight at a bed and breakfast and this is where we come to the relevant to Steepster bit.
In our room, I had three kinds of tea bags. PG Tips (Pretty dire. The Lipton of the UK. But at least it was a black tea), some sort of cheap green in a bag and a chamomile and spicy apple sort of concoction. Or, as I put it to Husband, “I have one choice and two others.”
The latter, however, was so bizarre sounding that I nicked the bag and brought it home with me, and it’s THAT ONE out of this variety pack that
I’m having now. Medicinal purposes even. See ‘scratchy throat.’
I just could not imagine this combination at all, but as it turns out it’s not really as weird as all that. Chamomile and apple are both kind of sour-sweet flavours so they match each other well, neither of them taking over and turning the cup into a mugfull of acidic bleurgh-ness. It’s actually a pretty clever combination. It is, however, still chamomile. And it’s also the least spicy spicy apple I’ve ever met. I had to actually go and look at the bag again just to assure myself that it really did say ‘spicy apple’ on it. I don’t know what it’s supposed to be spiced with, but whatever it is, it’s not working.
I am always up for trying a new lapsang souchong. I’m one of those people who greatly enjoys the smoked flavour and almost can’t get enough of it. Well, I say almost because I do have a certain ideal balance between the smoke note and the other notes. Many lapsangs are actually very sweet and fruity underneath the smoke, and it’s that note that I want to come out clearly as well. I want that and the smoke more or less in equal measures. That’s my Perfect LS. So of course I would choose lapsang souchong for one of my free samples with my recent order.
The first time I ever noticed that fruity sweet aspect it drove me nearly nuts for months trying to get the brewing conditions right to replicate it. I’ve got that down now. I’ve learned how to make a black tea in exactly the way that suits me best, but the first time I really thought something must have been tampering with my leaf.
Anyway, this particular lapsang smells like it has a very strong note of that fruity sweetness. There isn’t even all that much smoke in the aroma. It seems very mild. I have read that this fruity note is supposed to be reminiscent of longan fruit, but I have no idea what those are, so I couldn’t tell if I agree with that or not. To me, it’s leaning more towards stone fruits and lychee.
The flavour is indeed quite mild on the smoke. At first I almost thought it wasn’t there, but then it showed up and lingered on the aftertaste. The fruity sweetness is there as well, but at this moment the tea is still too hot for me to be able to taste anything properly
After cooling a little bit, the smoke comes forth a little more, but it’s still a very mild LS this. The fruity note is strong in this one and quite sweet. The smoke is mostly there in the aftertaste for me, but it lingers for a long time.
If you are looking to try lapsang souchong for the first time and don’t know if you will care for the smoke or not, I would definitely recommend this one as an introduction because it’s so mild. It won’t overwhelm you with smoke, so even if you find you don’t much care for the smoke, I should think you would still find this at least drinkable.
In completely other news, I’ve noticed that I tend to capitalise tea names. Like writing Keemun instead of keemun and Lapsang Souchong and so on. I’ve made an effort not to do it in this post, but am I actually supposed to do that? What do you guys do?
17°C, phone weather app? Really? I highly doubt it as that must surely be the warmest 17°C ever measured. It was definitely more like somewhere between 20 and 25! I absolutely refuse to believe otherwise.
Anyway, this warm, summery weather has put me in the mood of something green, and therefore I turn towards a tea that Autumn Hearth shared with me an embarrassingly long time ago. She sent me a whole little green tea education that time, but I never managed to make it through all of the things she sent me, as I must have misplaced this and two others. Obviously my old system for storing samples doesn’t work, and my newer system of keeping everything untried in a box on my desk seems to be working much better.
This one smells very fruity. I’m thinking something along a sweet apple sort or possible some sort of stone fruit. Yeah, mostly the latter, actually.
It tastes very sweet too, and it has that fruity note in the flavour as well as the aroma. There’s also a fairly strong mineral note and something that reminds me of some kind of green vegetable. A leafy sort of flavour. I’m not sure what it is. I’m getting thoughts of spinach here, but it doesn’t really taste like spinach at all. That’s just because whenever someone says ‘leafy greens’ to me, spinach is the first thing that comes to mind.
This is quite pleasant. I’m not one to drink an awful lot of green tea. It’s something that I have to be in a very specific mood for these days, but when I do, I’ve noticed that I tend to favour Japanese over Chinese. They generally strike me as having a clearer, crisper flavour profile, where Chinese green tea often strikes me as more sort of thick and murky.
Huh! Looks like I’m the odd duck. I quite enjoyed this and mine is ancient.
Hello Steepsterites! Remember I did Project Ceylon earlier this year, in which I tried a bunch of different Ceylon teas and tried to work out if there was a pattern to which ones I liked and which ones I liked less? That was fun. Let’s do it again!
I spent some time pondering whether to do Project Africa or Project Assam. Both sounded interesting to me. African teas have interested me for a while, but I’ve never done much about learning the area, and I’ve been in a bit of an Assam-y mood recently. In the end I decided Project Africa sounded more interesting. We are seeing more and more single estate loose leaf out there, and from more and more different countries it seems. Kenya still heavily in the lead, but others are definitely getting out there as well. It’s a shame I didn’t decide to do this yesterday, since I just discovered Jenier Teas yesterday and accidentally AHEM WELL, moving right along! At any rate, they had a LOT of different Kenyan teas and a few from other African countries as well, so samples shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
I already had this one that Sil very generously shared with me. And it was generous because it was actually a sample that had been shared with her by Terri HarpLady, so I had told her to only send me some if there really was enough to share. Lucky for me, there was.
This tea comes from the Kaproret estate, which was highly difficult to find on the map. All I got when searching for Kaproret were two different primary schools that weren’t even that close together, and I couldn’t see anything on the sattelite photo that looked like tea fields. That was a great help during Project Ceylon, because tea fields are pretty easy to recognise from the air. Turns out that they aren’t so easily recognisable in Kenya, because they have a layout which is much in straight lines on square fields, making them look like any other kind of green field. Further Google investigation then revealed that it’s part of the Kericho tea districts, where I found a name tag that just said ‘Tea Gardens’, but no further explanations of which gardens were there and what they were called. So I put the marker there. Seemed to be the right area and as good a place as any. And nowhere near those other two primary schools. While searching I did find a different and name-tagged tea estate, so I put a pin in it, just in case I need to find it again later.
The aroma is quite grainy and malty and it has a sort of Assam feel to it somehow. It’s like it just has a something that tells me Assam. Seriously, you could totally fool me with this. If I’d been given this without knowing what it was, Assam would be my first guess. Makes me wonder if I should do Project Assam hot on the heels of Project Africa… The grain is stronger than in most Assams though, so it does stand out. A little bit. Not enough that I’d notice if I didn’t know better, but there is a small difference there. It smells like it can really pack a good punch.
The flavour is surprisingly fruity sweet right at first. Reminds me a little of plums or apricot, although that still feels a bit like a stretch. Then the grain and malt comes into play and it is indeed a quite strong tea. It’s no wonder ctc-ed Kenyan is often used to beef up the blends in certain inferior teabags that we could mention. It’s strong and it lays down a heavy bottom.
Underneath the flavour there is a mild to moderate degree of astringency, which once again reminds me of Assam. That and the strength are really the only things about the flavour that reminds me of Assam, unlike what I noticed in the aroma. It’s not so much, though, that it feels like drinking ashes and it’s fairly well balanced with the strength of the flavour.
As it cools down a little more, it changes character completely. It loses the fruit-y sweet aspect I noticed right at first and instead takes on a strong Yunnan-like note of hay. The very note that makes me less interested in golden Yunnans. Where did that come from?
This is a different beast entirely from my usual Chinese blacks. I’m quite enjoying how strong it is, but I think I could have lived without the Yunnan-y aspect. This is one that I preferred while it was still piping hot.
Reference map: https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211803378882467968316.0004dd9c2591ff5d7d6bf&msa=0&ll=-0.394539,35.252938&spn=0.014741,0.021651 (This is what I get when I check the ‘short URL’ box. Deal with it…)
(Edited to add in a forgotten word, the absense of which totally changed the meaning of the sentence)