711 Tasting Notes
I’m just now getting around to trying these Fauchon teas that I bought during the recent sale on Vente-Privee. I must say, Fauchon definitely wins for cutest tins while still being practical. The design is clean and attractive, plus they’re double-lidded and the inner lid fits very tightly (in fact, it can be a little difficult to open sometimes, but I’d much rather have that than a loose lid). This tea is a mixture of small, very dark black tea leaves and those little “caramel” cubes that a lot of blenders use. I must say, I do not really approve of them – I don’t think they actually add anything to the tea besides making it murky, and if you actually try one, they don’t taste very good. It does smell very luscious and caramel-y, with strong butter and cream notes.
The steeped tea actually smells much the same as the dry, and it has the same strong butter and caramel aromas. And the flavor is actually pretty good, too. The main flavor for me is more burnt sugar than caramel, and it reminds me of the crust on crème brûlée. There is also a bit of a buttery caramel sauce flavor, which makes sense given the name of the tea. It’s also a very creamy tea overall. I’ve been drinking all of my teas without sweetener, but I find that this one really needs it to bring out its full potential. After all, caramel is made of sugar. :)
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cream, Custard
This sample is from Dexter and her lovely care package. It’s quite aesthetically pleasing – a mix of rolled green oolong, almond slices, small pieces of fruit, and pretty flower petals. It smells deliciously fruity, and it reminds me of peach fruit leather, which I love!
Mm, the steeped tea has the same strong and concentrated peachy aroma. Hm, I’m surprised the flavor isn’t stronger, though I did choose a shorter steep time (due to using more leaf). It’s a very mild but lovely melange of peachy goodness, a touch of nuttiness, and a softly vegetal oolong. There are some very faint floral notes, but they only serve to amp up the peach flavor. Very tasty, but could be touch stronger. :)
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Floral, Peach, Vegetal
Continuing my ongoing Lupicia education with this sample from the lovely Stephanie. Now, I’m not really a puerh lover, but I did enjoy their other two flavored puerhs so I wanted to give this one a try as well, especially since it’s cookie-based. This actually looks like a blend of two different teas, some loose and unrolled smallish leaves that I assume are the puerh, and some little tiny rolled up balls that resemble a larger version of CTC. There are also some pieces of cinnamon bark included. Dry scent is quite strong on the cinnamon (luckily Stephanie was thoughtful enough to double-bag this sample, so it didn’t affect the other teas), but I can also smell pastry and the earthy puerh base.
Once steeped, the tea keeps its strong cinnamon aroma and also the light pastry notes. There’s also a teeny bit of fishiness from the puerh, but not enough to bother me. Hm, this one is actually pretty strong on the earthy puerh taste, but it does go well with the other flavors. The cinnamon is milder than I thought it would be, and there’s just a bit of cookie-ness going on. Honestly, I would consider this to be more of a lightly cinnamon-flavored puerh. Not bad, but not what I expected either. :P
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Cinnamon, Cookie, Earth
This is it, folks, the very last untried (straight) oolong in my cupboard. This very generously sized sample came from miss Starfevre. I’m not sure where she’s gone lately, but hopefully she’ll come back soon. So apparently “Traditional” means partially oxidized and lightly roasted according to Verdant’s website. Honestly, looking at the pellets, I would guess more than a light roast, as they are quite dark in color. I guess this must be due to the oxidation beforehand. The color is a medium to dark brown with some greenish hues. Dry scent is a nice combination of roasted, grassy, and sweet.
The steeped liquid has that lovely, sweet apple/pear aroma that I’ve noticed in other roasted tie guan yins, along with roasted nuts and autumn leaves. Hm, this one has a bit less depth than I expected it to. There are definitely strong roasted and grassy flavors here, but there’s a lack of sweetness that surprises me. There’s a bit of a coffee-esque aftertaste. I think I prefer TeaVivre’s roasted oolongs to this one. It’s not that it’s a bad tea, I just really like that sweet note that I have found in other roasted oolongs.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Coffee, Grass, Nuts, Roasted
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been working on getting through all of my oolong samples lately. I think it’s partially because I feel bad for ignoring them and partially because trying all of my free TeaVivre samples has made me want to try new teas rather than drinking ones I’ve already tasted. This sample came from boychik (who still hasn’t gotten back to me about what she wants me to send back!). I confess, I’m unsure what exactly “Formosa Oolong” is supposed to mean. I thought I read somewhere that it’s equivalent to Bai Hao, but these leaves look nothing like other Bai Hao teas I’ve seen. Hm, oh well! The leaves here are a dark chocolate brown and quite broken up, and there are a few stems included. Dry scent is heavy on the autumn leaves and roastiness.
The steeped tea smells very roasty, similar to a heavily roasted tie guan yin. It also tastes roasted, although I would say it’s more similar to a medium roast than a heavy one. I can see a bit of similarity to Bai Hao underneath – there’s a light raisin flavor and some nuttiness. Overall, this tea is a bit too one-note for me, it mostly just tastes like roasted autumn leaves. Not bad, but not great either.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Nuts, Raisins, Roasted
Another TeaVivre oolong! This was one of the free samples that Stephanie chose, and she was sweet enough to share a sample packet with me. I had such a good time trying my free oolongs, I figured why not one more? This one is not roasted, and the pellets are a lovely medium olive green with their usual widely varying size. Dry scent is very sweet with strong peach presence, light grassy notes, and a bit of floral.
The steeped liquid shares the strong peach aroma, and the floral aspect is now a bit heavier. I must admit, this is not my favorite flavor profile, and this is the reason I have been avoiding green oolongs for a while now. It’s heavily floral and it me, it sort of tastes like perfume. There’s a background flavor of steamed greens and butter, and the texture is quite thick, as I have come to expect from greener oolongs. I don’t get much peach here, surprisingly, perhaps a bit in the aftertaste. Not my style!
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Peach, Spinach, Thick, Vegetal
Time to try another lapsang! I must say, I’m a bit nervous for this one after not liking the lapsang from TeaVivre, but too bad! This is a sample from Dexter. The leaves are extremely small and short, and quite thin as well. They so smell quite smoky, but it’s a pleasant smoke like a campfire combined with smoked meat.
Hm… The steeped tea has a much stronger smoke smell, and it’s veering more toward charcoal but still has some of that savory character. Hm… Well I definitely prefer this one to the other lapsang I tried. I still don’t love it, but it’s better. There’s a strong woody flavor (which makes sense) and it reminds me of scotch a bit. I wish there was more of that smoked meat that was in the aroma, the smoke here is much harsher and it’s almost mineral. I added a touch of maple syrup, and it definitely does make this much more tasty.
Flavors: Mineral, Smoke, Wood
This sample is from Dexter. I’ve had a couple of golden needle tea before, and I must say this one looks completely different visually than the others. When I heard golden needle, I expect to see pure buds that are slightly puffy with pointed ends with an allover golden color. This tea is definitely not that. The leaves are medium size and quite thin and wiry. They twist and curl around quite a bit, and they’re half golden and half dark grey/brown. Dry scent is slightly sweet and bready with malty notes.
Mm, the steeped tea certainly smells very Yunnan. It has that slightly savory bread and sweet potato combination with perhaps a touch of smoked meat. Wow, this has quite a powerful flavor after 3 minutes. It’s not bitter, but it’s approaching those lines. Definitely a savory tea, with the substantial sweet potato notes that I generally find in a pure bud Yunnan. There’s a bready thickness along with a touch of smokiness. I can taste a touch of raw oats in the aftertaste.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Meat, Oats, Smoked, Sweet Potatoes
This one came from Dexter. I’ve never had a mulberry leaf tea before, so this promises to be interesting. The leaves are twisty and curly, they kind of remind me of bao zhong. The color is a medium-dark green with blue notes, similar to evergreen. There appear to be some chunks of macadamia nut or something similar mixed in.
I must say, the color is the steeped tea is somewhat… alarming. Honestly, it looks like swamp water and the fact that it’s a touch murky isn’t helping. :P It has an interesting sweet, almost creamy aroma that reminds me of sugar cookies. This is an interesting one. On one hand, it kind of does have a cookie-like taste to it. On the other, it also has a seaweed/steamed spinach flavor about it, and the two together is a bit of an odd combination. I’m not really sure what to think of this one…
Flavors: Cookie, Nuts, Seaweed, Spinach, Sweet
This sample came from Sara. I find myself liking rooibos (and caffeine-free in general) blends more and more recently for some reason. It’s interesting how tastes change. Anyway! Visually, this tea is just red rooibos with some yellow cornflower petals added in for flair. It smells vaguely vanilla-esque.
The steeped cup mostly smells of red rooibos, with a bit of an almond extract flavor added in. Hmm… It tastes like straight rooibos. There’s a little hint of an almond flavor at the end/aftertaste, but otherwise it’s just woody rooibos. Since I’m unsure how old this sample is, I’m going to withhold a rating. Sad face.
Flavors: Rooibos, Wood