52 Tasting Notes
As always, a visit to Janet’s left me with a grin on my face and a slightly lighter wallet. If you’re in Victoria and haven’t stopped in to Janet’s Special Teas in Sidney (on Beacon Ave), you don’t know what you’re missing! Janet, the owner, is a total hoot, and treats everyone like family. She’s truly passionate about the tea she sells and offers generous sample pouches for $1 (with enough leaf for at LEAST 3 cups). She’s even been known to bring in teas that she wouldn’t normally carry for customers who request it, so don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t see what you’re looking for.
But on to the tea itself. I LOVE orange teas, and orange juice. Which is funny because I can’t stand oranges (but I’ll happily eat a whole grapefruit) or creamsicles. But I do make my own “creamsicles” every summer, using tea and condensed milk. And that’s actually the main reason I picked up 50g of this tea.
I generally make my creamsicles out of DAVIDs Orange Blossom rooibos, but after experimenting last year, I found that rooibos just doesn’t make the nicest popsicles, it’s just not strong enough. So when my lovely hostages, I mean tea companions, asked to sniff the Dolce Orange, I couldn’t resist grabbing some to play around with. I brewed up some double strength when I got home, then split it into two parts. I added 2 TBSP of condensed milk to one part, and 2 TBSP of vanilla simple syrup to the other (when making popsicles you really do need to add sweetener. The extreme cold of freezing the tea cuts a lot of the flavour, and the sweetener helps to highlight the flavour of the tea and make it pop despite the coldness, without being overwhelmingly sweet). Poured into popsicle molds and put them in the deep freeze overnight. Wehn I finally crawled out of bed at 2pm, and despite the below freezing temperatures outside, I grabbed one of each pops and tested them. The creaminess of the vanilla in the tea, mixed with the smoothness of the black base, the pops really didn’t need the condensed milk! I prefer them with just the vanilla syrup, actually. In fact, next time I’ll cut the syrup in half and do just 1 TBSP.
Of course, after testing the popsicles, I had to warm up, so I made a cup of this hot. And by cup I mean my 750ml teapot-sized-mug, haha! 2 heaping tsp (so close to 1 TBSP I guess?) to 750ml of water, steeped for 2.5minutes at 175F. Beautiful orange liquor with a sweet and creamy scent very much like melted creamsicles. First sip was pure orange goodness with a bit of vanilla left on my breath at the end of the sip. As it cooled I got more vanilla notes, and a slightly malty black note as well. Janet mentioned Sri Lanka, but I don’t remember if she was referring to this or to the back based Sidney Sunrise (which I also picked up even though I have a bit of the rooibos base left. The black base just smells nicer, though I’ll keep the roobios based blend on hand for the sake of having a tasty caffeine free option. but I digress.), but I almost wonder if the base to this one is an assam?
I’ll definitely be popping over to the shop on Friday on my way to see the pony (since he’s boarded literally across the highway from Janet’s shop, so when he’s going good and steady in the cart I want to attempt to drive him over and tie him to a post outside her shop, haha) to get more, both for drinking and for popsicle making. This may be my favourite non-spiced orange tea, very slightly beating out the blood orange pu’erh I keep on hand.
Flavors: Cream, Malt, Orange Zest, Vanilla
I LOVE jin xuan! The milky creaminess, sweet buttery notes, and crisp finish make it feel like I’m drinking creamy yogurt.
After spending a few months bed-ridden after a really serious ankle injury and not being able to make tea to ease my deep depression, as soon as I was able to start making tea again I took full advantage! Tonight is the first time I’ve been able to sit down and do a gungfu session, and I reached for the sample I got from Tea from Taiwan of jin xuan to celebrate.
The sample was packaged in a single serve vacuum sealed package, enough for two gungfu sessions (I tend to use less leaf when doing oolongs this way because of the shape of my little glass gungfu pot. Too much leaf, while giving a more authentic steeping session, unfurls to block the sieve in the spout, and I can’t actually get any tea out! haha) or for one mug. the leaf is tightly curled and bright green with a lovely sweet cream scent as soon as I tore the packaging. the vacuum sealing was a smart move on the company’s part, and protected the leaf well during transit. There was minimal leaf “dust” at the bottom of the envelope.
I typically do 5 steeps in the following order:
The liquor retained the thick creamy sweetness right through to the 5th steep, and I’m actually going to lay the leaves out to dry so I can use them some more in the morning. I’m really impressed, other milky oolongs I’ve tried have “dulled down” by the 3rd steep, but this one has some staying power. By steep 3 there was a bit of vegetal notes coming through, like sweet peas with fresh churned butter. Simply lovely!
I’m definitely enamored with this tea, and I’m glad I have enough left for a few more steepings. It’s definitely one to restock!
Finally getting around to reviewing this. I got a sample from the Vancouver Meet crew a while back, but drank it too fast to manage a tasting note, haha!
First off, I definitely didn’t have optimum steeping parameters. I’m still laid up after trashing my ankle (though at this point the ankle is pretty good, but I still have hellish nerve pain in the thigh of that leg), so being able to do a decent steep is REALLY tough. I tend to stick with teas that I can just toss in a filter bag and throw in a leakproof travel mug with hot water, and basically forget about it. Normally not the best idea with blacks, but after getting my package from OMGsrsly and being punched in the face with grapefruity goodness as soon as I opened the box, I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait to have a cup of grapefruity bergamoty amazingness.
My filter bag has been in my 16oz leakproof mug for probably 20 minutes (water was originally about 90C so that I could drink it fairly quickly) and while it’s a tad pithy at this point, it’s not really bitter or astringent. It’s still incredibly juicy with a burst of citrus vibrancy, the grapefruit pithiness is just starting to show itself. But I like the pithiness, it’s part of why I like grapefruit so much. I’ve been living off of grapefruit juice and fruit cups (Costco has individual servings of grapefruit segments in white grape juice, so it’s easy for my mum to throw a couple of the cups in a cooler with a cold pack for me to eat while she’s at work) while i’ve been laid up. I can’t get enough of the stuff.
My only qualm with this tea is the fact that it’s only available at Bayswater in Vancouver, and I never get over to the mainland. But that’s why I love OMGsrsly so much, she makes a killer tea mule! ;)
Thanks again buddy, this has really made my “stall rest” a LOT better (and my room smells freaking incredible!)
Now to get around to trying all of the samples OMGsrsly sent (that she received from Sil and graciously shared with some of us Islanders via the package sent to my place) and add to my list of places I want to order from after the holidays as a reward for not causing mayhem while being laid up.
steepster ate my note! Or I fell asleep and someone turned off my computer for me and I lost it…. yeah, that sounds like what must’ve happened.
I’ve been stuck in bed with a trashed ankle for 6 weeks now. Fell off of JAva and got my toe caught on part of the stirrup, so as I fell, my whole body weight came down on my ankle, snapping it back. Not a single bone is broken, but I shredded the ligaments and totally dislocated the foot. Let’s just say that if I didn’t have skin, I wouldn’t have a foot right now…6 screws, 2 plates, and a couple different casts later, and I’m put back together (for now). second surgery in January to remove the hardware, more time off the foot, and then a TON of physio. Ugh. Breaking my ankle would have been WAY better. Ah well, worst injury in 16+ years of horses so I shouldn’t complain too much.
The worst part of this bedrest has been my inability to make tea! I’m stuck in bed, less than 10 feet from my tea wall and my kettle, but crutches + trying to fill a kettle/make tea = bad times. Dad got a wheelchair for me, and I can finally make tea myself! still need someone to fill my kettle for me though…
But because it’s still tough to make a proper cuppa, i’ve been living off of teas and tisanes that I can toss in a filter bag, toss in a leakproof mug, then toss across to my bed. This has been one of my go to choices.
I LOVE mulberry leaf. It’s sweet and buttery and feels a bit rich. it’s a comforting thing. I enjoy Mulberry Magic, but find it to get a tad bitter after a while, possibly something about the macademia nuts in it. I really really like the pistachio substitution, it’s a lot creamier, doesn’t get bitter no matter how long it steeps, and the chamomile has been an added comfort that takes the edge off of any soreness I’m feeling.
All in all, the perfect balance of feeling like i’m drinking proper tea, easy grab and go, satisfying my sweet tooth, and bringing comfort and warmth to an otherwise depressing existence.
Thank you OMGsrsly !!!!!!!!!! After the Vancouver meet (that I sadly had to miss due to money issues/dog sitting) Heather was sent back to the Island with goodies for me. AKA The Vancouver meet group spoiled me and I’m now drowning in grapefruity goodness.
I LOVE grapefruit, can’t say it enough! OMGsrsly had some issues making this one work, so I jumped at the chance to try some myself! Pithy isn’t a bad thing for my palette, it’s one of the reasons why I enjoy grapefruit as much as I do! It has a wider range of flavours to it than other citrus, so it feels like it offers a lot more to different uses.
With the warning that this can be pithy and the black base can be astringent, I decided to play around with a smaller amount of leaf and lower temperature water to start, so I can make the most of the sample she sent me. So I used about 1/2tsp of leaf in about 5oz of water (eyeballed it in my gung fu pot, and then poured into a glass bubble cup from DAVIDs)and used water heated to approximately 185F (white tea setting on my Breville variable temp kettle). Steeped for about 2 minutes, and it’s perfect!!!!
The black base is definitely bold, with a slight earthiness to it that’s accentuated by the pithy grapefruit. there’s the tangy POP at the end of the sip that lingers a bit on the tip of my tongue. It reminds me a bit of Silk Road’s Golden Phoenix pu’erh, but without the spices that are in GP. It’s the same richness with the pop in the aftertaste.
I really like it, and see myself getting more if I manage to get over to Steam at some point. Might need to make it happen sometime between now and Christmas and pair it with a visit with my younger sister (who is over in Vancouver for her first semester of University).
Thanks a bunch OMGsrsly for this one! Can’t wait to see how it works cold steeped too :D
Had to reach for this old friend again tonight. I meet the endocrinologist for the first time in the morning, and get my first dose of testosterone (intra-muscular injection, and I’m needle phobic! well, better get over it asap, i’ve got weekly IM injections from now til I’m dead. Worth it though!), so needless to say I’m SUPER anxious.
My heart is beating out of my chest, my hands are shaking so much I had to fill my cup barely halfway to prevent spilling it all over myself. I’m excited to finally be getting what I’ve wanted for so many years, but terrified that it’s going to turn friends and family against me.
Topped up my cup and the shaking is slowly calming down. It’s crazy how emotions can affect you physically, and so dramatically at that!
This is my “emergency kit” tea, the one I keep tucked away in my “emergency kit”, a box with a number of different things that I pull out when I’m having issues with depression, or anxiety.
Had a pretty nasty anxiety attack before bed, but calmed down enough to get into bed. Had some nightmares and woke up in hysterics, which then turned into a full blown panic attack. Running on auto pilot and in one quick motion I leaped out of bed, pressed the button on my kettle, pulled out a pre-filled sachet of tea, and tossed it into a cup, inhaling deeply while the water heated. Poured the hot water, took a sip, and instantly everything that had been on my mind melted away.
Still can’t quite calm down enough to sleep, but at least I can breathe again!
Had a killer craving for popcorn or pringles tonight, and normal genmaicha just didn’t seem toasty enough, and Lapsang/russian caravan wasn’t what I was looking for, so I figured it was a great time to try the pouch of genmai-houjicha I got a couple months ago.
I have to be in a very specific mood to be able to enjoy genmaicha or houjicha. I just have a hard time appreciating them for the lovely things they are!
I’m REALLY impressed with this one! I was expecting a crisper feel to the cup, but found myself swept up in a wonderful butteryness instead! It’s like drinking buttered toast, a bit more body than a normal genmaicha, but something different, that I can’t put my finger on, than a plain houjicha.
I really need to be in this sort of mood more often, so I can enjoy this on a more regular basis, but it really does take a very specific sort of mood for me to be able to enjoy both genmaicha and houjicha, and I feel a bit guilty for it!
I’m weird and prefer my blacks steeped at a lower temperature, for a longer time. Partly because I’m too impatient to wait for my cup to cool enough for me to drink, but also because a lower temperature lets me make a stronger cup with less astringency.
I will admit, I’m not usually one to reach for a straight Assam. I prefer Ceylon, so if I’m wanting a single-source I usually grab a Ceylon, but honestly, most of my straight blacks are blends (Irish Breakfast generally, which is funny since it’s largely an Assam blend, yet I never reach for a straight Assam!) or Lapsang Souchongs.
I got a sample of this from OMGsrsly back when we had our Victoria swap and tea crawl. I’ve been terrible at not going through all my goodies, partly due to not having the best access to my collection/kettle due to renos on the house (specifically my room/the stairs next to my door, blocking my only path into my room), so I’m finally catching up, bit by bit.
The leaf smells a bit malty, and somewhat stronger than the steeped liquor. The liquor is a really lovely deep red, richer in colour than my usual go-to Ceylon from Silk Road. But the liquor itself is actually quite mild. The richness is more of an aftertaste vs a kick in the teeth, which while extremely pleasant, is VERY different than my usual black picks.
I was expecting a bit more “oomph”, going by the scent of the leaf and the colour of the liquor, but I’m pleasantly surprised! It’s extremely smooth, despite the longish steep, rich, comforting, but not so bold that it leaves your mouth feeling dry.
I’ve been munching on banana chips while typing this, and the combination of flavours makes me feel like I’m eating banana bread! So decadent!
I think that after this, I’m going to need to give Assams more of a chance, and let my Ceylon addiction simmer down a bit. This turned out to be nothing like what I was expecting, and I’m pretty darn happy!