1310 Tasting Notes
Queued post, written May 21st 2014
The second green tea today and the second ancient bag. This one was also from Fleurdelily and therefore a couple of… years… old. By a funny coincidence when I posted from the queue this morning that was also a post about a green darjeeling, a much newer one than this one, and having just read that post again, I can totally recognise it in this cup as well.
I’ll take that as a sign that this one carries its age quite well, then. It’s got that lemon pith-y bite to it on top of something that is sort of generically green tea. I shared some of the other green darj (the one I posted about this morning) with MissB who found it apricot-y. I can see what she means with that now. I think it’s mostly lemon pith-y, but I think it’s the same note that we experience slightly differently. I can totally see how it could be apricot-y.
This has a bit of a floral touch as well, which I thought the other one didn’t so much, but that could be differences in the harvests.
I’m skipping the queue with this one, because I want to show the GTT team that I am actually gratefully writing and drinking the things they shared with me. Sort of like a proof that I’m keeping my end of the bargain, even if the other two samples will likely wind up in the posting queue and turn up in due course. I just didn’t want to have the first post wait that long. The oldest posts in the queue at the moment are from May, you see. (I haven’t been adding to it nearly every day though, so it’s not as long as one might fear.)
Shortly before I went on holiday, I received an email from Green Terrace Teas, inviting me to try a few samples from them and writing about them. This put me in a bit of a dilemma, because you may recall that I have this box on my desk of things I haven’t yet tried and the goal for 2014 is to empty it. Completely. So empty that you could turn it upside down and nothing would fall out. As a consequence I am strictly prohibited from adding to said box.
But if they’re offering to give me stuff which I didn’t ask for first… Then technically I’m not the one adding to the box. So that must be okay, right? I mean, I can’t be held responsible for other people’s actions, right? So I said yes please and chose three things. Well, actually I chose two things and dithered on the third to the point of saying ‘surprise me’. I chose the two black teas (of course) and also wanted to try an oolong, but I haven’t had much experience at all with these green type oolongs in recent years, so apart from a couple that I was already familiar with, I didn’t even know where to begin. Hence, ‘surprise me.’
Now, this particular tea is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most.
Both the steeped tea and the dry leaf have a strong note of something which is very hard for me to place. It’s sweet and malty, but I’m not sure I would say it was necessarily honey. Maybe a very concentrated honey note, but I’m leaning more towards honey with something else. It’s the something else I’m having trouble with. The malty note is quite strong though and it’s only enhanced further by the honey note. As it cools to a sippable temperature, the honey note develops further, gradually making it stronger than the malty note. At this point the something else is also developing a bit, and I’m starting to think berries. A fairly tart sort of berry, possibly dried. Black currants and/or blackberry are the first things that come to mind. Perhaps also a little bit of plum, but I’m uncertain about that one.
The tea itself is surprisingly strong. It’s not strong in the overleafed or oversteeped way, it’s just a naturally strong tea by it self. The first and foremost note that I notice is something sort of wood-y, like how a dark oolong can be quite wood-y in flavour. Not the dark sort of oaky wood that black tea can have but something a bit lighter and sharper. I have a specific type of wood in mind that it makes me think of, but unfortunately I don’t know what kind of tree that’s from… It’s a light wood with a sort of pinkish-golden colour and the wood grain is very well defined. Anyway, it tastes to me like wood that looks like that. (Bring on the synesthesia. Why can’t I have this phenomenon in a normal way?). As a result this whole tea kind of tastes like that pinkish-golden colour, complete with wood grain and everything.
Along with the weird wood note, I’m also getting a strong note of honey. It’s amazingly sweet this and the honey notes is very clear. A little spicy and hay-y too, which reminds me of Yunnan teas, especially the sort.
These naturally occurring notes (rather than flavourings) are always rather subjective, so I was uncertain about how much honey I would actually find in it, but I’m very attracted to things to do with honey. I’ve had supposedly peach-y teas before and not found even a whiff of stone fruits, so I tend to take that sort of thing with a grain of salt. This one, however, definitely delivers. There is a bit of astringency on the swallow, but the aftertaste is all honey.
If bees drank tea, they would drink this.
I have returned from the wilds of Cumbria, where a ‘large road’ is any road that is wider than single track. And the wilds were indeed wild. Especially that time we got a little bit lost. Or the time the satnav were supposed to take us to the Lakeland Motor Museum and deposited us in front of Holker Hall. (Which coinkidinkally we had visited earlier in the week) And mountainous. Very mountainous. I climbed two little ones. Husband claims they were hills and that he could have done it in flip-flops. HA! I know a mountain when I struggle up one and these were mountains. And he never proved the flip-flops statement either.
Have earned my mountain goat badge and my map reading badge, I think.
Oh, and I posted this without actually pasting in the actual post. Here you go.
Queued post, written May 21st 2014
Let the green tea day commence! Well. That is to say. How many green teas can I drink before I have to choose between making a black or going crazy?
I’ve started with an effort to do something about the tin of random bags. I’ve got a handful of bags and I’ve put them in a tin in order to stem chaos. Trouble is, I forget to look in the tin when searching the box of untried things for something new, which is why the ones I’ve taken out and hope to be using to day are a bit ancient. This one, for example, was shared with me by Fleurdelily in 2012! O.o So were a couple of the others.
Hopefully they will still produce some flavour then.
Now, this one. I usually have a black tea in the morning and usually an unflavoured one. Since it’s Green Tea Day, I couldn’t have that today. Then I saw this one said gingko on it, and if memory serves me correctly that’s one of those things that are supposed to be refreshing and providing a bit of a mental boost and energy and whatnot. Seemed a good choice for the morning, then. Or am I confusing it with ginseng? Either way, I have no idea what it’s supposed to taste like.
This is a fairly mild tea (or it has become a fairly mild one) and the lemon flavouring is quite strong, but not sour. It doesn’t taste like biting a lemon, but it has a very pleasing lemony aftertaste.
I can’t say anything about the base though. It might have faded into almost nothing which makes lemon all I can taste because it’s all there is to taste, but even so this is actually a very pleasant blend. Husband, being a lemon fiend, would probably have enjoyed this greatly, but I only had the one bag.
I shan’t rate it, though, because of the sheer age of it and then flavour being such as I can’t tell if it has changed over time. Sometimes you can sort of taste the ghost of what it could have been with a faded tea (or an accidentally mis-brewed one for that matter), have you noticed that?
This post is skipping the queue, because I want one more post in, mainly to say that I’ll be away for a little more than a week as we are leaving for the UK tomorrow. I shan’t have time to access Steepster before then and internet access may be sporadic while we’re away because I don’t know if there will be wifi and I’m not made of money if there isn’t. The EU may have forced phone companies to lower roaming charges, but that hasn’t magically made it cheap. Just less expensive.
This is the one of two Assams that Husband and/or my Dad bought for me in Germany. I’ve had trouble describing the first one. There is a post about it in the queue and you’ll get the story of the purchase of the tea in that one. The words to describe it just wouldn’t come to me. I’m afraid I’ve got a similar problem with this.
The trouble is though that I’m having it at a moment where I’m fairly stressed as we’re going on holiday tomorrow and I’m not ready. I’ve got to do my packing and also have to cook dinner and also have to go to work tomorrow and leave on time and we’ll set off as soon as I get home. Argh! I won’t even have time to think between then and now.
Anyway, this was supposed to be a Life-Giving cup of tea, and it is, because it’s good and strong, but without being bitter or very astringent. There is some, but only of the pleasant sort. It’s very flavourful. It’s quite Assam-y with that funny cardboard-y note that is so characteristic of Assam and it even has a bit of raisin-y notes on the finish. In between it’s malty and a bit wood-y.
This is a very good tea and just what I need right now. I just wish it could also pack my suitcase for me.
Right. I’ve got a list of things to get on with. I feel like I’m having to work quite hard in order to go on holiday.
Queued post, written May 18th 2014
Here is another one from my recent Auggy parcel. I’ve seen this one around before on Steepster, but it never really caught my interest enough to check it further. It just got lumped automatically into the ‘sounds nice but unavailable to me’ box and so I put it from my mind.
Now I get to have some anyway. I find the name of the blend attractive for reasons that I don’t even understand myself. If I were shopping somewhere and saw a black blend of that name, it would make me have a closer look.
This is one of those rare blends, where not only have they listed what goes in it, they’ve also done it in a more detailed way than usual. Many companies would just have put ‘Indian, Ceylon and China tea’. Some would go a little further and put ‘Assam, Ceylon and Keemun.’ This one actually specifies the two Ceylons used (Uva and Dimbula)! It made me go YAY! I wish more companies would take heed of this.
Now, Uva is a highgrown tea and Dimbula is as well. I don’t actually care much for the high-grown Ceylons although I find them easier to drink than a Darjeeling. As is my experience, though, a Darjeeling in a blend can become quite acceptable in a blend because it is tempered by the other ingredients, and this is the case with the high grown Ceylon in this blend as well. Assam and Keemun are both fairly strong teas for me. Some people classify Keemun as mild, but for me it’s not that mild. I think maybe I measure strength differently. Something with that much flavour in it feels strong to me. They both do an excellent job with keeping the Ceylon in line in this blend. It is primarily a Ceylon blend, though.
I’m actually getting very little of the characteristics of the Keemun and Assam. No grain-y notes, but a little bit of floralness which may or may not be part Keemun and part Ceylon. No cardboard-y notes from the Assam, but a great deal of body. It’s like the Assam and Keemun work to enhance the deeper notes of the Ceylons rather than add their own flavour to the mix. I find I quite like that. It makes the blend taste very balanced. It reminds me strongly of low-grown Ceylon actually.
I’m quite pleased with this one.
Queued post, written May 17th 2014
Auggy shared this with me in the yearly care package. It’s not yearly by design, btw. That’s just how long it happens to take collecting good things. The care package is largely about sharing really good and/or interesting things. Mine to her is nearly ready I think.
This year, due to a number of things, the care package is a little different because I suspect it contains things that were ‘cleaned out’ because she can no longer have them. There are certainly a couple of head-scratchers in here. :)
Anyway, there is also some really good stuff, this one included. Auggy pretty much keeps me in A&D as she has shared samples of most of it with me. I can purchase this myself, the shipping being below my limit, but the times I’ve done it it has been a bit of a hassle because their site wouldn’t accept my foreign address, so I had to go the email and paypal route. It’s possible, obviously, I did it with Joseph Wesley recently and I did it with Shang Tea a few years ago as well, but it feels like such a hassle. Good thing I’ve got Auggy to show me what I would otherwise be missing then.
I had to choose a tea for the morning and I couldn’t remember what was in this one, but it was A&D and so therefore couldn’t be completely off the mark.
It smells… red. That’s all I can really say about it. It smells red, and I can’t think of any other words. Perhaps a bit wood-y? Maybe with a smidge of honey? I’m not certain at all. It just smells red. Hello synesthesia! Haven’t seen you around in a while. Why is it only sometimes? Why is it only certain smells and flavours? You’d think it would be all the time, wouldn’t you? Perhaps I haven’t actually got it really, and the colour/shape/gender thing is something that just steps in to hide the fact that my imagination is failing me?
I think there’s Darjeeling in this. Or a high grown Ceylon. It tastes strongly Darj-y with the floralness and the grass and the slightly sour aftertaste. The latter there is tempered by whatever else is in there. Something stronger and maltier. Maybe Assam and/or Keemun. It’s not very grainy so I’m leaning more towards Assam. I can even catch a bit of cardboard-y notes in it as well. That’s usually an Assam tell-tale. I just really think there’s a third thing in here as well. The more I think about it the less I think it’s Keemun. I think we’re in Ceylon territory here. A mid- or low-grown one. Unfortunately when people add Ceylon tea to something, though, they don’t bother stating which area it’s from. I wish they would. Just look at all my Project Ceylon posts, the differences are HUGE between high-, mid- and low-grown and Sri Lanka produces tea at all three altitude ranges. Anyway, Darj, Assam and Ceylon is my guess.
I should have liked it better without the Darjeeling, but that’s hardly news. I find it quite tolerable in this blend, though, because the other teas mute the things I dislike about Darjeeling somewhat. It’s a bit like the Afternoon Blend from Jeeves and Jericho, which I recall as being very similar to this one. I can happily drink a tin, but then I don’t need to buy another afterwards.
We got two steeps out of this one, the second steep being just as strong as the first one. That’s unusual for Indian/Ceylon teas in my experience.
Queued post, written May 8th 2014
I think this one came out of one of the EU TTB rounds, because it has no number on it. It is also possible I received it in a swap and the number has fallen off. I could also have had it left over from the last time I had a Teavivre order, but that was so long ago that I find this unlikely, especially with it being a Fujian black.
There aren’t really any surprises in this cup. It smells Fujian-y and it tastes Fujian-y. (Therefore, by definition, very good indeed.) The aroma is wood-y, grainy, and cocoa-y, sometimes with a bit of something more toffee-y or honey-y mixed in.
The flavour is quite strong on the wooden note, followed by the grainy note. The cocoa comes when I swallow and then a surprise happens. On the swallow, this tea develops an unusual astringency that I’m not at all used to finding in Chinese blacks. Perhaps I used too much leaf? This seems difficult to understand because I made a large pot to share with Husband, and I only had a 7g sample. Interesting. It must be a naturally very strong tea. It certainly has a LOT of flavour.
Queued post, written May 7th 2014
I got this one from MissB, who doesn’t seem to know very much about it, judging from the information on the tea page.
It’s a rooibos blend and it has been flavoured with… something. I think it seems very similar to the rooibos blend I have from Nothing But Tea which has vanilla and raspberry, so this is my first instinct. It definitely smells and tastes like some sort of berry, perhaps several kinds of berry. I can’t really pinpoint any that I think it’s more like, so I’m thinking perhaps it’s some kind of forest fruit or four red fruits blend on a rooibos base. These are not usually mixed with anything else so far as I know, though, and I’m pretty certain there’s something in here that adds sweetness.
Which leads me back to vanilla and raspberry.
Curious, I then went and made up a small cup of the vanilla raspberry blend from NBT that I mentioned earlier so that I could compare it directly. They are indeed extremly similar, the NBT blend being a little more berry-tart and this one more evenly blended.
Having thus determined the mystery of this blend, I can move on to inform you that I find it a very pleasant blend. Of course, it’s already a blend that I like on a rooibos base (who are we fooling, I’d probably like it on almost any base), so perhaps I’m a little biased. I’ve been drinking up the NBT blend for my before bed beverages as it’s getting very old. I expect I’ll be using this blend in the same way. This is not at all a bad thing. :)
Queued post, written May 7th 2014
I’m cold to the bone and quite tired which probably doesn’t help with the whole body temperature thing either. But it’s May, dammit, and I refuse to turn the radiator further up. I was up late because I was watching the first semi-final for the Eurovision Song Contest. Denmark is hosting this year (and there’s somewhat of a scandal behind the scenes because the whole thing has turned out to be a LOT more expensive than various people holding the purse strings had initially been told, so suddenly there was a slew of extra bills. I expect that’s why Denmark has such a rubbish song this year. They want to be certain they don’t have to pay for it again next year) Also, regarding the countries that qualified for the final on Saturday… WTF, Europe??? O.O And can someone please explain to me, using small words and diagrams, why exactly Armenia’s ultra-boring song is the bookmakers’ favourite?
KS had this tea yesterday and it made me think I should have a sample of it too. The name rung a bell, so I had a rummage through the box of untried things and lo and behold! Courtney had shared a sample with me. How lucky am I?! I need a bit of luck after all the wrong songs qualified and only half of the good songs did.
When Husband and I were in Norwich for our honeymoon, we had caramel flavoured hot chocolate (which didn’t taste very nice) and it smelled quite like this tea. Very cocoa-y and very caramel-y, but both notes are so strong that they keep trying to out-do each other. The whole thing becomes quite toffee-y. The cocoa note also has a tinge of wood-notes to it, which makes me think wood notes and cocoa notes are ‘related’. Same way that the same note in a Keemum can be floral or almost smoky.
The flavour has a wood note as well and it’s the first thing I notice. After that, the tea becomes quite sweet and sort of in between caramel and honey. KS told me, when I asked about whether he thought it was a strong tasting tea, that he thought it tasted like a sort of mix between Dian Hong and Fujian. I find that’s a very accurate description, actually. The honey-y notes from Dian Hong and the cocoa-y notes from Fujian.
I thought this tea was very enjoyable indeed. I would probably have enjoyed it even more, had I not been distracted by curious activity going on under the road bridge on the other side of our garden fence. A guy had parked there and proceeded to unpack a drum kit. He spent a good hour arranging drum kit and some mats around it and just generally going back and forth between his drumkit and the car. It was highly mysterious and I could see it all from my window. Turns out, I think it was some sort of activity the local school was doing, because a group of ten children showed up accompanied by another adult who took photos and sat there as audience while Drum-Guy drummed at them for maybe ten minutes or so. Then they spent some 20 minutes playing on the playground on the other side of the bridge and cleared off, after which Drum-Guy spent another hour packing everything back into his car. Two hours arranging, packing and unpacking for ten minutes drumming! I hope the children got something out of it. But anyway, all this unusual activity meant that the tea got somewhat cold before I could finish it.
No problem, though, because it tasted eminently resteepable and I also have enough leaf for one more go.
Queued post, written May 4th 2014
The last of my JW teas to try! The safe bet too. I’ve already mentioned how LS is so well known to me at this point that I don’t need to sample before buying. If I need a fresh supply of LS, I get one wherever I’m shopping. Sometimes I get one close to my preferred balance of body and smoke and sometimes I don’t, but they’re all Close Enough.
And every once in a while you run into one that hasn’t actually been smoked. It’s the same tea, it’s still an LS. It just hasn’t gone through a smoking process. I’ve had very good experiences with that variety too although it is a somewhat rare beast. I mention this now because sniffing at this cup, I’m not actually finding much smoke at all. It’s grainy and sweet with perhaps a little bit of smoke at the periphery, but that’s it. There’s a thick and sticky sort of note to it as well that makes me think of caramel. That note is quite strong.
At this point I read the label on the tin. It doesn’t actually say anything about smoke anywhere at all on the label. At all! Could this be an unsmoked LS, I wonder? I does actually say caramel, though. HA! I totally called that.
Further reading on the website mentions smoky undertones. UNDERtones! That implies a naturally occuring note of smoke, doesn’t it, rather than something added to it. It’s a Fujian black, so a natural smoke note would not at all be unusual.
The smoke note is relatively strong on the flavour, but again not at all as strong as it would be if it had been smoked. At least not if it had been smoked to the degree of the LS I’m used to drinking. I suppose it coud have been smoked very lightly to enhance the natural note. I’m a little in doubt now about whether or not I think it’s gone through a smoking process. Interestingly, I was reading what other people wrote about it and a couple of people felt this one had heavy smoke notes. What have they been drinking? I’m finding it quite mild! Or am I simply too familiar with LS at this point that I can no longer view it objectively? (Not that tea tasting could ever be objective, but I think you know what I mean. I can’t find a better way to express it.)
It’s still quite grainy and sweet, just like it smells. The caramel note is not as strong in the flavour as it is in the aroma, though. I believe it’s the smoke note that tempers it somewhat. It’s a very dark sort of caramel, not a milky one. Caramel sweet as opposed to fruity sweet. That’s a new one. I’ve usually found LS quite fruity-sweet.
The more it cools, though, the stronger the smoky note gets. I take it back, this is definitely not unsmoked. It’s just… trying to pass itself off that way.
Smooth and strong. A good way to start the day.