1317 Tasting Notes
Queued post, written May 25th 2014
Here’s another ancient thing that Fleurdelily shared with me. I’ve kept it for so long, partly because I was scared of it but mostly because I didn’t have the faintest clue what to do with it. It just had ‘yak butter’ written on it. I didn’t even know if it was actually freeze dried butter that I was supposed to use as an additive or if it was some kind of instant tea deal.
Luckily KittyLovesTea posted about this one recently, and looking at the picture I can see the pouches are identical to mine, so that’s what I’ve decided it must be. I asked her what I was supposed to do with it, and her reply has been sitting in my email for a while while I’ve been gathering courage and waiting for a good time to try it. I’m home alone this weekend, so here goes.
I’m still scared of it though, but it has to be tried. Otherwise I can’t empty the box. And if I can’t empty the box, I can’t get new stuff. Ever. This is the rule. New orders/swaps/whathaveyou require an empty box.
So I’ve made it up with Kitty’s instructions and am now staring sceptically at the cup.
It smells like puerh with butter in it. Which, I suppose, is what it is. The butter smells a bit… different from cow butter. A bit sort of wild. I can’t tell if that’s because of the puerh and its farm animal smell or if it’s something to do with yaks. Perhaps a combination? I find it quite off-putting to be honest. Cloying.
Okay, I’m doing it. I’m taking a sip (fully expecting something vile).
Oh! It’s salty! And buttery. LOTS of butter. FAR TOO MUCH butter! Oh ack! All I can taste is salt and butter. Flipping heck, but this is foul. I had to spit it out. At least I’m rid of it now.
Queued post, written May 25th 2014. This was supposed to have been posted yesterday but I kept getting the kettle page when trying to pull up the tea. Seems like I’ve chosen a good time to take a little step back from Steepster, kettle pages having been rampant lately. Reading Steepster is something I would like to do regularly, but started to feel rather like a chore that I must do combined with a general feeling of detachment. So I’ve stopped. I’m still posting and still writing and still drinking. I’m just not going to be reading much for a while.
Another one from the EU TTB 2. The problem with these French names is I have to look them up to see what they are. To a French speaking person it may be blindingly obvious from the name, but not to me. Therefore I must have looked this up when I had the box and decided it was interesting. Afterwards, however, it often takes me a fairly long time to get around to them because by then I’ve forgotten what they are. (In general, I don’t actually much like those blend names where it doesn’t say anything about what’s in it regardless of language. I don’t even like it in Danish. I’m sure it’s all fanciful and poetic and what not, but I still don’t know what’s in it.)
raspberry hibiscus mint fiasco, however, I figured any was as good as another, so I just pulled something out of the box. This is what I ‘won’.
Unlike the other, this smells lovely. It’s all sweet and caramel-y, perhaps even a bit nutty. After steeping it smells quite nutty and a bit honeyed as well. When I look at the blend, there’s something in it that looks like rooibos, only not red. People always say that green rooibos tastes vastly different, so that might be it.
I’m going to look up what this is.
It is indeed a green rooibos! With mango and citrus. …what? Knowing that it’s there, I can find both. A touch of lemon in the flavour and a smidge of mango in the aftertaste. But before I knew it I wasn’t even anywhere close to identifying either of those two things. It’s quite subtle to begin with. As the cup cools, though, both become more clear.
This is oodles better than the raspberry mint concoction.
Queued post, written May 25th 2014
I took this one out of the EU TTB round 2, and I’ve been looking forward to trying it. It’s the raspberry that appeals to me here, even though the combination with mint strikes me as slightly odd. It’s not something I would have ever thought to put together myself. I’ve been waiting for a good time to have it, and I believe now is it.
The colour is borderline disturbing and there’s a smell of spearmint in this that made me actually recoil. I tried smelling the wet leaf inside the pot as well and there was a distinct aroma there of human… Nevermind that. I don’t think that’s a thought I wish to continue with.
It doesn’t smell like raspberry or any other kind of fruit though. Mostly just spearmint. Granted that’s a strong smell, a stronger smell than raspberry, so all is not lost.
It doesn’t taste like raspberry either. It tastes like hibiscus. Not surprising given the red tint to the colour. Or the grimace on my face everytime I try to sip it.
Hibiscus is not a berry. It does not taste even remotely like any berry ever. Stop trying to foist it on people claiming it’s a berry flavour!
Hibiscus tastes like blood to me. Metallic and sour and disgusting. Spearmint tastes like toothpaste, basically.
What I’ve got here is a cup of blood-flavoured toothpaste.
No thank you, says I.
Queued post, written May 25th 2014
MissB shared this one with me. It feels a bit weird to have a Christmas themed tea at the end of May, but I have a box to empty and I can’t just have it lie around until December. Normally Christmas blends don’t really appeal to me much. They’re usually far too cinnamon-y and I don’t really care for cinnamon in my tea to be honest. I find the combination of tea and cinnamon a little strange, which is also why I’m having such trouble with chais. I find that the typical Christmas blend is usually in that same sort of category as chai.
I’m not certain what’s Christmas-y about this. It doesn’t really taste like Christmas to me. It’s an orange tea with some sort of spice in it that makes it quite sweet, but I can’t really recognise it as any particular spice.
It’s pleasant enough to drink but not something that has me falling over with glee.
Queued post, written May 24th 2014
This one is from the Christmas calendar, actually, and I’ve only just got around to trying it myself now. I’m using the rest of the tea, having given most of it away and also made some of it for Husband once when I was having something else myself. He thought, if memory serves me correctly, that it was a very pleasant tea. I’ve shared it with MissB and Courtney, and MissB in turn shared it with Jump62359. All of them thought it was pleasant, although MissB found it triggered one of her allergies, so I’m quite confident that I’m going to like it.
I used the rest of the leaf that I had, and that turned out to be a bit more leaf than it looked like because it brewed up fairly strong. No matter, I like a fairly strong tea, so it hasn’t lost anything on that account.
It’s very rhubarb-y in flavour. I can’t comment on the aroma, because my nose is running a bit. I hope I haven’t caught anything. Or rather, I sort of hope that I’ve caught something, because I’ve never suffered from pollen allergies of any sort in all my life and I don’t much fancy starting now. But it’s got lots of rhubarb flavour and it actually tastes like rhubarb. It also tastes like green tea. It’s about equal parts flavour and base and they are flavours that seem to go quite well with each other, finally ending on a sweet note.
I might actually purchase some more of this if it’s still summer when I’m allowed to buy tea again. I doubt it is, to be honest. It seems like there’s still lots left in the box I haven’t tried yet. Next year, then!
Queued post, written May 23rd 2014
Auggy’s shared this with me in the most recent care parcel. I looked it up when I added it to my cupboard, but I don’t recall now what it is. It smells a bit raisin-y and fruity though. Berry-ish, I thought. After steeping it’s more floral, but not very floral like it was scented. Just a thin layer of floral on top. It’s sort of wood-y underneath that, but neither cocoa-y nor really grainy.
The flavour is quite floral as well, and also quite wood-y. Again, neither cocoa-y nor grainy. It’s not hay-y either. There’s a bit of a fruity aftertaste to it, which reminds me of cherries.
I honestly can’t tell what this stuff is. It has none of the characteristics of the areas I know best. Could it be some completely new to me area?
I have to look it up.
Oh, it’s from Taiwan! That is indeed a fairly unknown region to me. That explains why there were no recognisable elements to it at all.
As I drink and it cools a bit, I feel the flowery notes get a little more pronounced as do the fruity notes. The fruity notes actually expands a bit, no longer content to being merely an aftertaste. I still think it’s mostly a dark cherry, but I see on Steepster that others have likened it more to plums. Oh well, they’re both stone fruits. Close enough for jazz.
Cooling a little further, we’re at gulping temperature now, the floral note has changed and turned from floral into something more spicy. I felt like it was reminding me of something particular, but I couldn’t think of what, so I nipped off to the kitchen to have a snuffle around the spice shelves. This didn’t yield any positive results so if it is indeed something I ought to know, it’s not a spice we currently have. I did, however, narrow it down that I think it’s a bake-y spice rather than a cooking spice. Others have mentioned cloves and cinnamon, but I didn’t really think that was a match for me either.
This is a very interesting tea. It’s not that often anymore that I get to have a completely new region’s tea for the first time where it doesn’t remind me strongly of a neighbouring region.
Queued post, written May 21st 2014
Another green tea for Green Tea Day. Apparently it’s not only Green Tea Day, it’s also Ancient Tea Day because this one came from Auggy and it’s even older than the other two. Well. By a couple of months but even so. Still older. In my defence she sent me a few of these and I’ve only got one left. I just haven’t written about it until now.
Smells lovely of green tea and cherry. A very fruity juicy sort of cherry. The sort that I hope some of all the myriads of cherry trees in our garden will produce. (Little hope there, though. Husband’s father thinks it’s a decorative sort of cherry, not an edible one. And he’s worked with plants in some way or another, both at his job and in his garden, for 40 years, so he should know. Still. When there is fruit, I will test it the best way I know how. By biting one.) It strikes me that red fruits generally go quite well with green tea. I think a 4 red fruits blend on a green base might be rather lovely, but I expect that already exists somewhere out there.
The flavour is very floral, reminding me that this is scented with cherry blossoms, not flavoured with cherry. Isn’t it funny though how the flowers sort of smell like the fruit? The green tea is fairly strong compared to the other two I’ve had today, and it’s got a smidge of bitterness to it. No, not bitterness… But a note that tells me that if brewed hotter or longer, it very likely would turn undrinkable. It’s borderline. At the point where it is now, though, it lends body and strength and is quite enjoyable.
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?