1085 Tasting Notes
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge Thursday, November 25th: Thanksgiving – Cookies
~also October 2021 Tea!
Sipdown. Is it a Thanksgiving cookie? Yes? No? Maybe? All I know is I tend to eat a lot of gingersnaps around this time of the year, although far less since the border closure preventing my sister from going to Trader Joe’s and buying more of “the favoured ones” (I eat hers, yes). May the gingersnaps return soon.
This has excellent ginger flavour which will be sure to dismay as many as it delights (probably a little more dismayed as ginger is one of those ingredients). The apple is a bit of a fun twist though and, while it works well, kind of comes across as a zesty apple crisp (the Darjeeling base concurs with full throttle fruit). Still good but not entirely a full cookie experience. It’s particularly nice when your throat is sore though.
Flavors: Apple, Brown Sugar, Candy, Fruity, Ginger, Malt, Muscatel, Spices, Sweet
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge Thursday, November 25th: Thanksgiving – Pumpkin Dessert
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating today! (and a happy last Thursday of November to all us us who aren’t. November speeds by so quickly.) I’m thankful of all the amazing people in this little community – you all rock. :)
While I’m not doing anything special today, I thought it’d be fun to try to “recreate” a Thanksgiving dinner via tea sipdowns. Except it seems I’m starting with dessert (typical). I’ll probably end it with dessert too, if I actually end up drinking up more than one tea (unlikely).
I was initially a little conflicted with this tea, but then remembered that with the pre-Anne 52teas I used to understeep them for preferred results – especially the “cheesecake black teas”. Change the steep time to 2min30s @ 205F and magic! My tea now contains all the smooth tangy cheesecake notes I desire without a good portion of the tannins and bitters from tea and spicea (cheesecake is still subtle but something my brain consistently reads as cheesecake; mileage may vary though). It doesn’t need milk like this; it already tastes creamy, with an assortment of spices. It’s a pretty good way to finish this one off!
Steep Count: 3 (all around 3min and all quite good).
Flavors: Cheesecake, Cinnamon, Cloves, Creamy, Ginger, Lemongrass, Nutmeg, Pepper, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Spice, Tangy, Vanilla
Spring 2021 Harvest
I love Silver Needle more than words can express. It’s pure calm in a cup, it’s smoothness a balm to a turbulent day. My associations with this tea type are of cool spring rains, early bulb sprouts, new verdant grass, and the bliss of coming in to warm up in the old, red brick and cedar wood buildings in downtown Victoria.
A mouthful is like a timely visit to the spa – it’s clean cucumber water with a dash of lemon. This one has a lot of cucumber, and an increasing amount of thick, sweet melon to finish. On the fourth steep, the sweetness is so prevalent it’s almost jam-like.
Steep Count: 5 – and it was still going strong, even in western style, but then it was midnight, and this tea type actually has a lot of caffeine. I was so buzzed. Also, this tea is adaptable and forgiving – yielding flavourful cups regardless of temperature (ranging from 175F-195F).
Flavors: Citrus, Cucumber, Floral, Hay, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Melon, Sweet
Sipdown! I enjoyed this one for the most part, despite being a roasted oolong. It reminded me that sometimes I need to give teas another chance with a different steeping method (western was decent but gongfu was much more fun).
Gongfu: 15 second rinse, 5-15 seconds steep times (it’s been a long time since had a gongfu session, and was with a new set, so I didn’t quite nail it).
Steep 1-2, leaves not fully expanded: these cups had a thick floral and subtle honey sweetness (not as cloying as some), infused with a slightly fruity sour tang. Reminds me most of the small soft purple plums, with a rich gold center, from our old plum tree (RIP – you were an amazing fruit tree).
Steep 3-5, new fully expanded leaves: the sweetness is slowly becoming a secondary and complimentary component to the the sour and malt notes. The vanilla aspect is now noticeably present but is a reminder that that which smells nice isn’t always “sweet” (those who’ve tasted vanilla extract know what I mean). I’m also reminded of a savoury- sweet sourdough, or a starchy banana- maybe a more savoury plantain. My fourth cup is velvety and very good – possibly enhanced by a tiny spoonful of honey I tried prior to gulping No.4 down. No. 5 has the roasted oolong note which I dub ice cream cone.
Steep 6-7, toppings for toast: the honey returns (No, I promise didn’t eat more honey)! These were nice cups, and the wet leaves went from a roasty roast wood aroma to a jam one, but unfortunately it got a bit late last night so that’s the end of that.
Across the board, the aroma is delicious – like vanilla (orchid) and heliotrope (can’t eat but smells divine), with varying levels roasted malt.
This would possibly go nicely with Cantonese style BBQ duck. It’s lovely with the Vindaloo I was eating alongside it- both have a vinegary/sour note that I’m really craving right now. The curry’s profile of roasted cinnamon, mustard seeds, cloves, and other spices really shines with the florals in general – particularly rose – but the stone fruit and vanilla notes of this tea also pair well in a pinch!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Banana, Floral, Honey, Malt, Orchid, Plum, Roasted, Sour, Stonefruit, Tangy, Vanilla, Wood
September 2021 Tea
Still not a big fan of Chinese Sencha. However, since it has a similar flavour profile, it does exceptionally well when paired with kiwi; the overall effect is a bit like a tropical green smoothie! I generally like coconut of all kinds and there is a lot of that here too. The flavours supports my current daydream of being on a tropical vacation, which is extremely welcome imagery in the middle of November (it’s sunny today too so the weather is working with me here too).
I enjoy this tea increasingly more as it cools.
PS- I added strawberry, banana, and pineapple to the “flavours” here because we don’t have kiwi in the database – but kiwi has similar characteristics to those three very different fruits (tart, acidic, citrusy, pithy/starchy, soft jam sweet, mellow sweet). The coconut kiwi combo kind of creates its own mock-banana note actually.
EDIT – kiwi was added to the database (Thanks Cameron B.) but I’m still keeping “banana”.
Flavors: Banana, Coconut, Fruity, Grass, Juicy, Kiwi, Sour, Spinach, Sweet, Tart, Tropical
My opinions haven’t changed in four years. I still think the flavouring of orange, vanilla, and sandalwood is pleasantly clean and aromatic in a way that invokes incense or essential oils. It’s also vibes like an orange creamsicle in places. The base is meh (Chinese Sencha is my “blah” tea).
Flavors: Cream, Grass, Orange, Orange Blossom, Spinach, Tart, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge Saturday, November 20th: National Absurdity Day
While it’s not unheard of, there’s something odd about coffee flavoured teas (who wanted this and why). For one, All the coffee drinkers in my life dislike every single one I’ve ever showed them (this one being no exception).
The coffee beans in this are nice ones and when I got the steeping parameters right my cup tasted like a coffee cake, which is alright. Maybe. Unfortunately for this sipdown, the mate in the blend is coming through in an overly earthy way today. It tastes like dirt coffee compost. I do not love it. I want tea.
Flavors: Cake, Coffee, Dirt, Earth, Malt, Roasted Barley, Sugar
October 2021 Tea
When the cream cheese icing flavour peaks through and blends with the cinnamon strawberries this tea hits a glorious sweet spot. I didn’t add sugar but I find the cream cheese comes out more as it cools. Its tangy sweetness is an indulgent finishing note.
I wasn’t too certain about this one because of the cinnamon and gunpowder, but the cinnamon is at a perfect level for me (a little heat and only a tiny bit barky = perfect). It makes a convincing cinnamon roll with that excellent cream cheese flavouring. The smoky gunpowder adds dimensions to the cinnamon roll but it still isn’t quite my thing; luckily it’s not the only green tea present (I’d be curious to see if these flavours could be replicated in a black tea base too)! The strawberry is that tasty berry candy thing that I often enjoy from 52teas – especially in the summer months. It plays into the cinnamon and cream cheese flavouring better than I anticipated, and I’m enjoying it a lot.
Overall, I love the flavouring and concept. I can live with the green base blend too (it does have its moments, but gunpowder is not my fav).
Steep Count: 2 – not quite a successful second attempt for the icing but alright.
Flavors: Butter, Cheesecake, Cinnamon, Cream, Smoke, Strawberry, Tangy, Toasty, Vegetal
Now this is more like it. Usually I’m extremely disappointed in chocolate pepper teas; they’re never fiery enough, or the chocolate is off (and Silencio was just black pepper, not good chili pepper). This, however, has a decent fiery kick and tastes like Mexican chocolate minus the actual powdery texture. Although it feels like it’s crunchy.
I drank this all today, in-between the 5 hour power outage and news updates on regional flooding and landslides (In the Lower Mainland, we are effectively cut off from the rest of Canada right now; all of our main highways took some serious blows). I’m trying to imagine being in a baking hot desert that is not flooding aggressively and this tea helps.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cocoa, Pepper, Spicy
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge Saturday, November 13th: National Hug a Musician Day – Dead Can Dance
Sipdown! This tea is musty, bittersweet, and earthy in way that does feel like an old library, but it also has lots of sweet grain and nut notes. Its profile and creative vision remind me of that time I was an anthropology undergrad student, reading lots and lots of books and articles late into the evening (and early in the morning) on agrarian societies, reciprocity, liminality, snub-nosed monkeys, funerary practices, and the like. Dead Can Dance was not the only music to get my through my school work but it’s definitely the one I most associate with the smell of musty books, grains, old bones, and pottery fragments…
Here. Have a book. “Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOunrC2QQa8
Taken with milk.
Flavors: Citrus, Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Grain, Licorice, Malt, Nuts, Rye, Wood