1114 Tasting Notes
Oh dear, I can feel that this is going to be a really long post. I’ll let you all know when I’m going to actually start writing about the tea, so you can skip ahead if you like.
My Teavivre order arrived! I wasn’t even expecting it yet. I’ve ordered stuff from China before, obviously, and I know it usually takes a couple of weeks to get here, but I don’t know why I hadn’t realised that it had actually been that long since I ordered.
Oh well, I’m certainly not complaining! :D I have unpacked my tea and the cats have given the box and the wrappings a very thorough sniffing. I don’t know what they kept the wrapping supplies next to in China, but whatever it is, it’s very interesting to cats.
While the wrapping was undergoing such a detailed inspection, I tried to decide which one to try first. And then I smacked my forehead because DUH! Self, don’t be an eedjit. You obviously start with the Tan Yang.
If you are wondering what’s so obvious about that, you have not been following me for long enough. Fujian produces the majority of all my very favourite black teas, and my most beloved type of all is Tan Yang. This is the type where I have been known to draw little hearts on the label. So yeah. Obvious. :)
The first time I ordered from Teavivre, I believe the company was still very young, but they had marched right into the hearts of many Steepsterites with their high quality and their sample program. For me, it was the Bailin gong fu that finally drew me in and made me place that first order. There was a contact form on the site that you could fill out if you had questions or suggestions, so I asked if they were planning on stocking a Tan Yang in the future. I can’t remember what exactly the reply was, but I think I was told that they would look into it.
Some time passed and eventually Teavivre did indeed offer a Tan Yang. Oh, how I coveted it! But unfortunately circumstances conspired against me and I didn’t feel like the time was right to buy it. We’ve been frugal, you know, what with having our wedding and then a bit later Husband having a stint with unemployedness, and now we want to start saving up so we can eventually buy a house. It’ll probably be at least a year before we’ll even consider talking to the bank, but we still have to start now.
So I sat here and watched other people drink this highly coveted tea, and then I COULD NOT TAKE IT ANY LONGER, flails AAAAAAAAARGH!!!! pant pant
I cracked and ordered. As long as I control myself I can totally save up and buy interesting tea now and then at the same time. Besides, I was getting to that point where every time I saw someone write about it, I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t bought any myself yet. You know, having suggested that they get some in their shop…
Okay, the actual drinking of the tea starts here!
The aroma is quite mild, and it’s has a bit of a honeyed caramel-ish note to it. There’s a little bit of grain underneath too. I suspect this is a more well behaved version than the (Most Highly Beloved of All) Te Ji I get from TeaSpring. But then again, that one is pretty unruly at times, so it wouldn’t be difficult to be better behaved.
Oh, so sweet! So caramel-y! There’s a bit of malt and cocoa as well, but I think it tastes mostly like sugar and caramel. I mentioned yesterday that I don’t like sugar in tea, but what I meant was that I don’t like sugar added to tea. When it is naturally occurring like this, I like it just fine. It has to do with the way added sugar changes the mouthfeel for me. Anyway, first sip gives my sugar-y caramel-y flavouring, and a summerly note of… sip sip grass?
GRASS??? o.O Well, that’s new. It’s not in overwhelming amounts, though, (like what happens with most Darjeelings for me) so it doesn’t become unpleasant.
Underneath that, and especially at the moment just before I swallow is the very important grain-y note. An awesome Fujian would only be half as awesome without that note. There is only one type of tea in which a good strong note of grain is more important, and that’s in Keemuns.
Still, like with all the notes in here, it’s fairly calm and civilized and to my surprise I find I quite enjoy that. I mean, I love that the Te Ji tastes so riotously wild sometimes, but I’m getting older and slower, and sometimes it’s better with a tea that matches.
My cup appears to have become empty… I don’t usually finish drinking before I’m finished writing. I must have needed it.
That’s it. If anybody needs me further today, I’ll be in the kitchen drawing little hearts on this label.
As you may have seen on the discussion boards, I recently missed out on a chance to taste this new-fangled sparkling tea product. Not wine, not cider, not tea, but sort of all things at once, or something. Fru P replied to my comment on the Book of Faces that if they had any left she would save some for me, but of course this was not possible.
I did take the opportunity to stock up on that awesome vanilla that they have (Sil, if you are still interested in trying it, please message me. I have loads now.) and I also bought some of her caramel flavoured black. This is another highly coveted flavour for me in tea. I love it when it occurs naturally and I love it when it’s added artificially. Unlike vanilla, though, I’ve met several caramel flavoured teas that fit my requirements exactly.
Anyway, I had to try this one as well, of course. I don’t even know how I missed it the first time I was in there. It’s not like me to not even look for it.
I had a whiff of the leaves before steeping and both that aroma and the aroma of the cup now steaming under my nose are extremely promising. It’s all sweet and butter-y caramel. There is even a smidge of something nutty to it. A sweet kind of nut, like an almond. All heavy and creamy.
The flavour, at the first sip, struck me as a bit thin and a bit… twig-y, sort of. I don’t know, I just got this image of twigs in my head. It’s not immediately delivering on the promise of the aroma.
Some would say, ‘try adding a little sugar’ or ‘try adding a little milk’, to which say a vehement no. If a tea has to have additives in order to taste right, it’s just not a good tea. Additives, for me, kills the tea. Additives are murder. In other words, I rarely actually like a tea very much after adding stuff to it, especially sugar. I can deal with milk but prefer not to have it. Sugar or other sweeteners, however… I do not understand how some of you can even get it down. So, no. I’m not tampering with the tea and nothing you say can ever convince me otherwise.
Instead I’m going to let it cool down a bit, and there it is. There is a caramel flavour there now, but it’s still not as rich as in the aroma and it’s sort of hovering under a water-y surface.
It helps a bit as it cools and develops a quite nice nutty aftertaste, but it still never gets really caramel-y. I suspect this requires some fiddling with the steeping process. So far, though, I’m not really convinced.
On completely unrelated note, this car (https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/944415_10151616377506122_932531436_n.jpg) is driving around in the town where I live. No, Steepsterites. Your eyes are not decieving you.
This sample has been clean forgotten. I was just looking through my box of things yet to post about and there it was. I see that I need to do some translation work on the description of it. I’ll get to it right away when I’m finished writing this post.
Wild pu-erh. Well, this sample was indeed quite wild. I fumbled a bit, taking the little bag of leaves out of the wrapping and dropped it on the floor. This, apparently, was completely irresistable to a passing and equally wild Charm-kitty, who proceeded to bat it violently across the dining room floor. The bag was sealed though, so no harm done. It looked funny, though.
The aroma is thick and earthy and pu-erh-y. It’s like… default pu-erh. This is what I think of, when someone says pu-erh. There is a kind of sweetish, fruity sort of jam-ish note in there as well, which rather reminds me of strawberry jam without actually smelling like strawberry at all.
If the aroma is default pu-erh, the flavour is a bit of a shock. There’s nothing default about this at all, and to be honest it tastes more like a black tea with a pu-erh-y edge rather than an actual pu-erh (which of course it is). I believe this is what Chaplon also mentions in the description as being less earthy and heavy then most pu-erhs because the trees it’s harvested from are so very old that they aren’t affected as heavily by the aging process. Chaplon calls it a more elegant pu-erh, but personally I wonder if that’s not just some sort of attempt to NOT say that maybe it would have benefitted from seven years more in storage…
That said, however, I find it quite pleasant. I rather like that feels more like drinking a black tea. I don’t know why I don’t drink more pu-erh, really. I do enjoy it quite a lot, but somehow I’m just not as interested in it as I am in black tea. Which is also funny, because you would think that this type would be much more interesting, wouldn’t you?
As for the actual flavour, I’m getting leather and wood at first. That’s a fairly sharp tasting sort of combination, and it makes me immediately search for something rounder such as cocoa and/or grain. No luck, though. Instead there’s just the earthy note of the pu-erh, reminding me of what it actually is I’m drinking and otherwise doing that same sort of rounding out task.
But there must be more to it than this, right? I sip and sip and sip and I find… nothing. Leather, wood, earth. That’s it. Something that tastes decidedly pu-erh-y, but feels black.
Often, as a cup of tea cools a bit, it develops more and other notes come into play, or the previously noticed ones change either in strength or in character. I was hoping that it would be the same with this one, but now that I have waited a while, I can tell you that it doesn’t appear to be the case. It tastes exactly the same. The same notes in the same proportions.
It’s nice and all, but… That’s it really.
I am so bored! Boredboredboredboredbored! Not bored enough to take the hoover around the house, though. Not yet. It needs to be done, but it can wait a little longer. I hate hoovering…
Instead, I shall have a cup of tea to celebrate the Teavivre order I just accidentally (yes, totally!) placed. Finally, oh finally, I shall try that their Tan Yang. I’ve been feeling kind of guilty about not having tried it yet, because I distinctly remember asking them if they were planning on getting. So not having tried it yet feels like not following through on my own suggestion, which is kind of poor manners.
While I’m waiting for that, I’m going to have a crack at another one of the Verdant samples I received recently when, on Husband’s orders, stocking up on the Life-Giving Tea. That would by the Laoshan Black, FYI. Hasn’t been called anything else in this house since forever. Yes, we nickname our favourites. Don’t everybody?
This one, I have to admit, I picked almost entirely based on the name. Every time I see ‘Fo Shou’, my mind reads it as ‘Fo’ sho’ and often supplies either ‘dude!’ or ‘man!’ after that. Can’t help it. It makes me smile. Obviously, therefore I had to try it.
The packaging is different from the other Verdant samples and thankfully comes with an identification sheet. I hope I don’t lose it. It would be just like me… Perhaps it’s a sign that I should try this out sooner rather than later, yes?
The aroma is slightly wood-y and slightly leather-y, and I want to say slightly fruit-y as well, but I’m not super-certain that I really think it is. What it does have in large amounts, however, is a strong note of something that… I know what it is, but I don’t know what it is! It’s kind of like cocoa, but not quite there. I think it’s cocoa mixed with something and it’s the something that is confusing me. Roasted nuts, perhaps? Hmm, I need to think about this.
Gosh, the flavour is a lot stronger than I had thought it would be! There is definitely leather and wood in this, all dark and rough and somehow faintly ash-y. Now those of you who remember the recent encounter with Tetley’s tea bags, will remember that I said those tasted like ashes, and that it wasn’t particularly pleasant. For some reason this note of ash is coming off in a much more favourable light here. I suspect the unpleasantness in the Tetley bags was in combination with the smell of wet cardboard and the taste of the paper teabag, whereas this particular tea is completely cardboardless and guaranteed paper-free. This way, the ash just comes over as something with just a hint of smoke. It isn’t really smoke, but it reminds me of smoke, and apparently that’s close enough for jazz.
Ashes, but good ashes. Right. Okay. I’m not sure that there really is any sound logic in that, but there you are. It is, however, a note that brings a warning with it. With many Chinese black teas you can generally steep them from now and until kingdom come, and your result will still be drinkable rather than a bitter, astringent mess. I don’t think that is true for this one. That note is a strong one, and I think it will turn strongly astringent if left to its own devices for too long.
That note is the primary one here, and it’s the first one I meet when sipping. It’s fairly small at first, then there’s a pause in which other stuff happens, and then sort expands rapidly on the swallow, greatly dominating the flavour profile.
Now I want to talk a bit about that other stuff that happens there in the middle. Those are our more friendly, calm and well-behaved notes. The source of the cocoa-and-something notes in the aroma. So there is a great deal of cocoa there, obviously, but there’s something else as well. It’s not pure caramel, but more a dulce de leche sort of note. I loffs me some dulce de leche… I’ve only ever seen one brand of it here, though, and it costs a small fortune for a small glass, so it’s a very rare treat indeed.
Although the cocoa note is stronger than the dulce de leche-y note, I still think it’s the dulce de leche-y one that I’m noticing the most. It feels longer, somehow, softening the ash-y pow at the end of the sip. As I drink it even starts to build up a little on the aftertaste too.
As it cools and develops, this is the note that really starts to come out more and more and I don’t even have to wait so very long before that initial ash-y dominance is almost completely broken into something much smoother and caramel-y.
I find I’m enjoying this a great deal more now than I thought I would when I had the very first sip. But I still think it’s one of the few Chinese blacks that it’s actually possible to ruin through over-steeping. This tea does not give the impression of being foolproof.
I honestly don’t know why I bought a sample of this. I don’t really much care for most Yunnans because 95% of them tastes like hay to me, and I particularly don’t enjoy the golden ones. I suppose it was just extreme curiosity that came over me. (Strangely though, I can find myself in a state of mild panic sometimes over not having any Yunnan at all in the house, so there must be a time and a need for it. I just haven’t figured out what it is that creates this)
I suspect that I got this out of simply sheer curiosity, since I was ordering a vast amount of Laoshan Black anyway. When this one was first introduced to Steepster at large it was with many a word of praise, and those who got their hands on some swooned en masse. Really, they fell like flies! So I thought when I ordered, now is my chance to see what all the fuss is about.
The fuss is indeed about a golden type, but with that name I would honestly have been rather disappointed if the sample had not contained bright yellow leaves.
The aroma is heavy and smoky. I’m getting a fair bit of pepper here too, and a funny sensation that there is more depth to it than this, but gravity itself is preventing the aroma molecules from being pulled into my nose. There is also a thick sort of smell, that makes me think it smells as though I’ve put milk in it. (Which, for the record, is something I never do. No additives here, ever.) It doesn’t, however, seem to smell like hay at all. Good!
The first sip is a confused jumble of flavours that I can’t pick out from one another. On the whole, it feels thick. It’s this pseudo-milk sensation again. And then there’s an aftertaste of pepper and smoke. But all that stuff in between? That’s just a right mess. It feels all tangled up in there, so I’ll have to see if I can untangle it a bit.
No, I can’t. Or rather, I’m not sure it’s actually really necessary, because every sip I try, here, just gives me those three same primary notes. First the milkiness, then pepper and a smidge of smoke. Under it all we’ve got that hay, that I was fully expecting, but it’s not as prominent as it can sometimes be with these types.
And that’s really all there is to it. This is a funny sort of tea which has a fairly simple flavour profile but somehow manages to make it seem like it’s extremely complicated. I’m not sure how that even works at all.
Unfortunately for me, I does fall somewhat to the fact that I’m just generally unimpressed with Yunnans and it just doesn’t hit my swoon-buttons. I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, because I honestly hadn’t expected to swoon either, but I am still somewhat underwhelmed. Sorry.
We were in the UK this weekend to attend a family wedding. To make a lot of things a lot easier we had booked local accomodations for the night. It was… Well, it was a bed, anyway. In the room there was also the luxury of the possibility of making a cup of tea or coffee, according to ones preferences.
This was the tea available.
Well. I shan’t go into too much detail because I remember only these few things about it. Either this was all there was to remember or I’ve simply surpressed the rest of it. To put it down in a few keywords, this is what it was like,
It smelled strongly like wet cardboard and tasted faintly like ashes.
And when I say ashes, I don’t mean that it was in way smoky or at one point had been smoky. It was just bad.
But it was all there was, and I was in need.
This is an ancient sample that I got from Fleurdelily, who doesn’t seem to be around anymore, back in October. It’s been sitting in my Untried Teas Box since then, because there were several things about it that I found a little intimidating.
I’m not super-keen on mate, to be honest. But I don’t hate it either. Also, I’ve never had roasted mate before, and maybe that appeals to me more.
I’m not super-keen on chocolate flavoured things where the chocolate isn’t a naturally occuring note of cocoa. It’s a texture thing. Or rather a lack of texture thing. But I’m willing to give them a go.
I have also had a blend previously which contained chicory, I think it was, and there was something in it that I didn’t like where people told me it was likely the chicory. I think. Or was I dreaming that? I can’t remember which blend it was or when I drank it.
So that is why it has taken me so long. Quite honestly, I’m rather afraid of this.
But I’ve pulled myself together and made a cup, expertly spilling a good slosh of it into the tray. The table at Tea Corner is wooden and was beginning to show the evidence of a lot of spilling, so I bought a small melanine tray from Roy Kirkham, with butterflies on it matching one of the small pots, to have the pot and cups and such on while brewing. It looks great (I think) and it works.
Well, it certainly smells like cocoa. Sweet and deep and very much like hot chocolate. So far so good. There’s something else underneath as well, which smells rather like coffee, so since chicory has a history of being used as a coffee substitute during the Occupation, I’m going to assume that it’s chicory I can smell.
My father doesn’t like tea at all. He doesn’t like real tea and he doesn’t like herbal tea. He thinks it stinks to high heaven and tastes even worse.
(And don’t come and tell me nonsense like ’it’s just because he’s only had bad tea’ or ’it’s just because he hasn’t tried this or that tea’ or ‘everybody likes tea, just not all types’ because it’s rubbish and it annoys me. We all have things we just. Don’t. Like. For me it’s beer and most sorts of alcohol. Yuckity yuck yuck yuck. For him it’s tea. It greatly annoys me when people seem to take offence at the fact that there are people in the world who strongly dislikes things that others like. Nobody likes everything, and we are allowed to not like some things. So there. Rant over.)
But anyway, I think he might find the aroma of this one tolerable. Yes, frankly, because it smells like coffee, but even so. The funny thing about me father, by the way, is that he’s really into whisky and goes to tastings and what not when he can with Husband and a friend of his. So while he finds my tea disgusting and I find his whisky repulsive, we get each other on this. :)
Right, enough stalling. What does this stuff taste like?
Peculiar. It doesn’t actually have a very strong flavour. At first it was just a sip of hot liquid, and then all the notes show up in the aftertaste. A coffee-y hint, a blooming of cocoa and at the very back of the throat a tiny point of something prickly, as if there was a smidge of chili in it. Well, I’ve heard of chili chocolate…
Now, it is a very old sample by now and apparently I also used water that was too hot, so that may account for the funny backwards nature of the sip. I’m far more used to things having no aftertaste than things having only aftertaste.
I’ve touched on how cocoa flavoured teas and chocolate flavoured teas usually disappoint me because they lack the thick texture of real hot cocoa. This blend, however, has managed to find a way to actually taste strongly of cocoa without bringing with it this lack of texture disappointment, in spite of how the actual texture is still as thin as water. If you get what I mean. I’m highly pleased with this. No other chocolate flavoured tea that I can think of has managed to do this.
As the cup cools a bit, the flavour becomes less shy and actually shows up on the sip as well. The cocoa remains largely on the aftertaste, and I’m catching hints of something wooden (the rooibos, I think) and nuts on the sip. That chicory that I was so afraid of doesn’t appear to be around at all. Or it wasn’t actually chicory that caused aforementioned unpleasant notes previously. See, this would be a lot easier if I could actually remember it. Now I don’t even know why I mentioned it in the first place.
All in all, this is quite a hearty and pleasant blend. What was I so afraid of for all this time? That said, I’m still not super-keen on mate, but I’ve learned that I like it better when it’s roasted.
“If somebody made me a cup of tea, I might feel better…!”
Husband obliged. I think his reasons might have been threefold.
1. He would get a cup of tea out of it.
2. He wanted me to feel better.
3. Best to nip whining in the bud whenever possible.
“If a cat would come and sit on me, I might feel better…!”
Unfortunately Luna and Charm are less susceptible to this sort of thing.
Luckily we had had this tea in the morning so a resteep of the same leaves was a pretty simple thing to do. It’s a favourite of mine, and Husband has fallen for it as well. When I bought the current lot, he told me to make sure I ordered plenty of it.
And do you know what? It does actually appear to have calmed my unhappy tummy a bit. It’s not perfect, but it does feel a bit less meh.
Hello Steepsterites! No, I haven’t forgotten you. I have in fact been around and reading most days. Just been a bit busy. Husband started his new job shortly before I posted the last post, and at the moment his commute is absolutely horrid. There is a car purchase in his near future which will cut his commute time in half or there abouts. So as it is, he’s home pretty late every day and I don’t really see very much of him.
Now, however, I’ve got a long holiday of about 2½ weeks in front of me, and there should be more time to keep up with you lot as well.
Yes, I’ve made it through the samples from Nothing But Tea. What I have left now is this one, which I got in that delicacies shop that shares my name, and by coincidence discovered that it wasn’t actually a generic blend as the name would have me believe. I’ve also got my two Chaplon Ceylons, Galle and Uva Highlands, which I want to revisit for Project Ceylon as well. That’s going to be difficult, especially when it comes to Galle, because I’ve had about half the tin so far and I’ve started to know it pretty well. That makes it harder to analyse, I think, because I know what I’m expecting to be there and it affects my experience of the cup I’m actually having. Bit like how I avoid reading other people’s notes on a tea while I’m writing my own post.
I suppose with Galle and Uva Highlands, those are so relatively new in my cupboard that I could just find the first post I’ve done of each and have that count towards the reference map, but somehow that feels like cheating.
Now, back on topic. This one comes from Pettiagala and since it was a coincidence that I spotted that name on her bag in the shop, I’ve had to find my own information on it by way of Google and Teh Interwebz. As far as I could determine, it’s a high grown tea, grown at about 1500 meters above the surface of the sea.
The aroma of the dry leaf has a bit of wood and a bit of malt, and with a touch of something floral on top of it all. I can’t find any of the leather-y notes that appear to have been more or less universal in the Ceylon teas I’ve tried so far. This doesn’t worry me too much, though, because the scent of the dry leaf have been completely difference from how it presents itself when brewed before.
So after steeping, I’m on the lookout for that leather-y note, but once again I can’t find it. It’s still a bit floral and a bit malty, and it has also gain a hint of grain and a good deal of sweetness. That sweetness strikes me as somewhere in between honey and caramel. Neither one nor the other, but with elements of both.
Judging from that aroma, I’m counting on the flavour to really pay up, but unfortunately the leather-y note is still missing. A bit malty, a bit floral and a bit grainy, just like the aroma. But the leather-y note just isn’t there and there doesn’t appear to be any other notes in there that takes up that particular place in the flavour profile, which just makes the whole thing taste a bit thin.
This one comes off as pedestrian at best. It’s a good enough tea, and the taste is pleasant. It’s by no means a bad tea. It’s worse than that. It’s just kinda boring…
Reference map: http://goo.gl/maps/0LJ8r
Cherry flavoured black teas seem to be few and far between around these parts and I’ve always thought that was a shame because I really wanted one. So when I was in Fru P’s the other day and I saw this one, I spontaneously jumped on it and got 50 grams. I’ve been crazy much looking forward to trying it, but was trying to control myself a bit. Otherwise I’d have had it at five minutes to bed time last night. :D
The aroma of the dry leaf is definitely cherry. Very recognisable as such, but there’s something else in there too which I can only say reminds me of marzipan. I don’t think that’s actually really it, but that’s the closest I can get. It smells like cherry sweeties and the sort of warm cherry sauce that we eat with the Christmas rice pudding around these parts.
After steeping it smells a little less like sweeties, and there’s a certain harsh-ish note to it which makes me think it’s been very strongly flavoured. Like the vanilla one was. I wonder if these are actually completely freshly blended for her shop and that’s why the flavouring seems so strong. That perhaps they haven’t had time to settle and air out the excess yet. I don’t know. I suppose we shall just see over time. I’ll definitely be revisiting the vanilla one, so I’m sure I’ll notice if that one suddenly takes a nose-dive on perfection.
Cherries, when I eat them, always seem to surprise me by how dark and grey-ish they actually taste. It’s like I keep imagening something more tart-ish and cranberry-y for some reason, and then I got surprised when they actually just taste like cherries. I love cherries, but I don’t get them often. We can only get them in summer around here and even then I don’t always buy them at the shop. They go mouldy SO QUICKLY, cherries do, so I’m always rather picky about whether or not to get them.
Like cherries, this cup surprised me. Cherry just isn’t really much of a forefront flavour, so at first I just get a sip of base tea, and then that is immediately followed by the flavouring. I think the base here is either Ceylon or a mild-ish Chinese. It has a certain amount of grain to it and a bit of malty notes as well.
There isn’t really any time to properly try to analyse the flavour though, because the cherry comes in and floods the whole thing. The aftertaste is pure cherry.
I’m not picking up any of that sweetie or marcipan-y notes in the flavour itself, but there is a hint of marcipan on the aftertaste. It suits the cherry quite nicely, really.
Cherry sauce and marcipan. I’m getting in a Christmas mood…!