168 Tasting Notes
Hugo’s Full Steam leaves are dark chocolate brown, large and twisty….when steeped at 3 minutes 30 seconds, they release a deep lacquered fragrance of cannabis/rye (I mix those 2 notes up sometimes) and cocoa maltiness. The cup delivers the same. It is a stout Yunnan… almost Fujian in flavor profile, but because there is also a touch of molasses and toasted oat, it reminds me of Guinness in how it feels it can fill and warm my belly….something the people of Kansas City probably appreciate during their luxuriously long winter.
So here I celebrating my 3 day winter (I wish I was joking) by sitting in front of an open window with tea, book, blanket and whichever cat decides I look comfortable enough to join. I wait all year for these days….. and thanks to Teatiff I have a well-suited cup of tea to accompany me. Cheers!
So It’s 6:30am and by reaching deep into my tea cupboard I realized I’ve made a big mistake…..
I’ve been on Steepster for a little over a year. It was this website that helped me find the teas I’ve used to expand my tastes “beyond the teabag”. I ordered PTA from Butiki fairly on in my tea explorations. Being that my tastebuds were used to Indian assams, this threw my palate for a loop. I remember thinking that the leaves were like SPIDER LEGS and how in blazes could you measure 2 teaspoons of this when every time you pushed the leaves into the spoon to get a measurement, some would POIIIIIING out of the spoon…. I think it was just all a bit too much for me. So the tea was relegated to the back of the cupboard. Until today….
There’s a depth to the dry leaf fragrance that is similar to a Fujian black, but once water goes into the cup, the malty assam note comes forward to meet my nose. Unlike most assams, the malt note doesn’t take center stage in this cup….this one is a true chorus of notes: It is fruity, with notes of deep plum, raisin and fig. There is cocoa and yam skin, which bring an earthiness to this tea that assams don’t usually present. Then there is a toasted malt note. This is lovely. I have to say that this is probably my favorite cup of tea for where my palate is these days. At a 3 minute steep there is a touch of astringency, which is the only reason I can say I’m not sitting here crying in my mug over not drinking this before Butiki closed it’s doors. Astringency, you just might be my friend today for that reason alone…..
I try to live life with no regrets…it’s a mantra of mine. SO, I will look at the small tea tin as being a quarter full of bouncy spider leggy leaves as opposed to being 3/4 empty. And in the meantime, I’ll ask anyone if they’ve found anything close to this tea anywhere else besides Butiki….because dang, it’s goooooooood.
Flavors: Cocoa, Fig, Grain, Malt, Plums, Raisins, Yams
Anyone who suffers (truly the right word) from allergies knows what kind of morning I’m having. My head woke me up with it’s pounding. For some reason my cats take my sneezing as some sort of BIG insult, and apparently I’m insulting them a lot. I need a big tea with big flavor this morning. I’m heading for the Crimson Horizon.
I’ve reviewed this tea before. It’s ctc holds the best baked bread note I’ve encountered. Add milk. NOM. When savored with toast and jam, it is as much of a comfort tea as I’ve had. Steeped at 1 minutes 30 seconds (yes, that fast folks or you’ll grow hair on your chest from the astringency!) it is a strong smooth cup of contentment to ease your complaints of the morning, whatever those might be. I pack ratted 8 oz of this in Butiki’s last days. I’m dang glad I did.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Nutty
I love this tea. I know it’s officially “aged” at 1 year old, but it has stood it’s test of time, and when I poured the hot water over these little golden curls of tea, it gave that aroma that I love so well. Autumn 2013 Bi Luo Chun has the expected notes of apricot and cocoa, but the mid-note isn’t just earth….it’s a loamy earth, very much like the delicate loaminess of a fabulous keemun. This gentle nudge toward a keemun gives Pure Bud Autumn 2013 a bit more of a refined flavor profile, making me sad that I’m getting to the bottom of this tin. It will be missed.
Flavors: Apricot, Cocoa, Earth, Loam
I’m on a quest for beautifully flavored chocolate and vanilla teas. During the winter when my allergies are unkind to me via the desert winds of Southern California, my palate plays tricks on me, and I’ve found having a leading familiar note helps me find the flavors of my cup in the morning. I am thankful.
Canton Tea Company is turning out to be one of my preferred sources for tea – and even I’m surprised by that statement! Their blends are thoughtful and different from the ones normally found at a mid-sized purveyor of tea, and their Vanilla Black is a wonderful example of this.
This tea is named simply, so it’s a good thing I looked at the description of the tea prior to closing out my last order with them. This flavored blend is led by the organic vanilla bean. Rich and sweet vanilla….really, is there a better flavor on the planet? Vanilla’s ability to comfort is well known, as perfumers have been using it to women’s advantage for decades….it is men’s favorite fragrance. As it is mine. NOM. The base of this tea is a heady blend of Yunnan black and Assam teas. The Yunnan brings a soft plum-like cocoa flavor to this blend, while the Assam adds a sweet maltiness. It has a lovely round mouthfeel and the balance with the vanilla note is glorious. For aesthetic value, Canton Tea Co uses cornflowers for a touch of color….not necessary but a nice touch.
This blend used to be specifically Yunnans (a black and a Bai Lin) and I thought I might be disappointed with the newer blend, but I am learning I shouldn’t doubt the master blender at Canton Tea Co. He knows his stuff and continuously provides satisfying blends of wonderful teas. Vanilla Black is another example. Well done, Canton Tea Co. I’ll be cursing your shipping fees on a regular basis!
Flavors: Caramel, Plums, Vanilla
The nice thing about this tea is that even a casual tea drinker would be easily able to identify it as a unique offering in the Assam category of teas. The leaves are long and golden, reminding me of of my well-loved Dian Hong teas of China. The smell in the cup is strong, malty and a touch astringent, even at a steep of 3 minutes 30 seconds. The liquor also is a bit astringent, but that astringency is balance by the deep cocoa and malt flavor that come with the tea. The mouthfeel of Golden Paw is very assam-like, but then you start to pick up the wonderful apricot and cocoa flavors that usually come with a good golden Yunnan, and you wonder if perhaps the teas in your tea cupboard have been sneaking around at night, carousing and making wee blends of their own…..
Hattialli Golden Paw Assam would be the perfect tea to ease an assam drinker into other teas, specifically Yunnans. It’s stout malty flavors allow the more subtle fruit and floral flavors to make an appearance in a well balanced cup of tea. It holds up to milk well, as assams normally do. I will be hoarding this tea for special occasions and stealth education of reluctant students of tea drinking, like my husband, who swears Tetley is the nectar of the Gods….. for now.
Flavors: Apricot, Cocoa, Malt, Stonefruits
In honor of Butiki closing their doors yesterday, I am having a big mug of Crimson Horizon this morning. It is the first tea that truly surprised me with an unexpected flavor when I had just begun my journey of non-bagged teas, and even after a year of exploring the black teas that the world has to offer, I have chosen this tea to honor Butiki. Not Hong Yun, not Zhen Qu, but an often overlooked CTC who’s notes of malt and baked bread give a gentle round mouthfeel with an astringency that lifts the flavors of the tea without becoming obnoxious, and who’s opening note of asparagus, fleeting as it may be, opened my palate up to the world of “unexpecteds” in tea. Butiki was a perfect first instructor in tea. Weeding through “meh” teas and only offering those that had something unique about them was Butiki’s gift to everyone that purchased from them. This “not so humble” CTC will be missed terribly when it is gone…..
Flavors: Asparagus, Baked Bread, Malt
There is a third problem to owning too many teas*. It’s the fact that your favorites sometimes have tendency to get buried in the cupboard, behind the trendy new teas on Steepster and the Christmas gift teas that you’ll probably never drink. Yesterday I pulled open that tea cupboard and re-arranged things randomly and this morning I’m very glad I did.
Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip tea was the first tea that took my imagination so far away from the tea bags that I was raised on that I knew I was on a journey for the rest of my life. Notes of toasted grain nuttiness and apricot are supported by a lovely slight cocoa base. I was lucky to run into this tea so early in my tea exploration, because it set the bar for me. This tea told me that each tea has it own story…. it helped me understand regional flavor profiles and appreciate what mouthfeel meant. It also taught me the joy of no astringency in a tea!
So I was lucky to run into this tea in my cabinet this morning….hello, old friend. It’s like no time has passed since we last met, and you are as lovely as ever.
*The first problem with owning too many teas for me is certainly budget.
*The second problem with owning too many teas for me is a sheer volume issue…how am i ever going to drink all this TEA?? 100g doesn’t sound like much but get 10 of them accumulated and….well…. if zombie apocalypse comes I’m set in tea for probably 2 years, I reckon.
Flavors: Apricot, Cocoa, Grain, Nuts, Toast
It’s not even light out. I love the mornings on the weekends where I manage to get my aging carcass out of bed before the early birds start their peepings, especially in winter. I sit in front of an opened window by my desk and watch the day begin with a steamy cup of black tea…this morning it was chosen by name alone: Golden Tips Tea’s Doomurdullung Assam. I can’t resist anything that starts with the word Doom. :)
Dry, this leaf smells malty and sweet with the scent of dried apricots. Apricot? Yep, apricot. The wet leaf loses the fruit smell, and there the strength of the malt makes itself apparent. It is a round mouthfeel you get from this assam, with enough astringency to dry the roof of your mouth a bit when between sips. The malt here is a smoothness that sits in the middle of this tea’s simple flavor profile. There is no “doom” here….only a straightforward cup of assam to start my chilly winter’s day. I guess I’ll have to get my doom elsewhere today….
Flavors: Apricot, Malt