160 Tasting Notes
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
A soft drizzle has been falling all morning…the horse, goats, chickens, cats (even the neighbors cats and the local ferals) have been tended to….now it’s my turn. The grey misty rain requires a familiar tea this morning, like the favorite sweatshirt I have on. Butiki has been sold out of this tea for quite some time, but it was one of my initial “frenzy” teas….you know…where you taste a tea, fall in lust with it and immediately buy a boatload of it because you’re afraid it will be unavailable when you run out of it. Usually that’s not how it goes, because you find something super similar or a bit better……USUALLY. This tea, like crimson horizon, has been irreplaceable for me. I don’t think I’ve met a more round mouthfeel, perfect balance of astringency and strength and malty/grainy baked bread goodness. I never got the banana or grapefruit note from this tea as mentioned in the description, but no matter. It doesn’t need it. This insanely delicious CTC needs only a 1 minutes steep for something close to perfection on a gorgeous dreary day when what is in your cup is the only sunshine you’ll get……or need. Luckily, I have a boatload of it.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Grain, Malt
My officemate came to work all week with a cold that she insisted she had over the holidays and couldn’t be contagious at this point in time. So, of course, here I sit on a Saturday morning, snorking, snuffling, hacking and wishing the world would turn down it’s volume because my head is in a pressure cooker. What tea? What tea? I need AROMATICS!! Do I have any? Oh! A Sample of chai! I know I have one somewhere….where???? Ah. Found it.
I drank a lot of bad chai in the 1990s. Really bad chai, usually made from powdered mix and made “better” (ha!) by my adding Coffee Mate French Vanilla Creamer. I have been “done” with Chai since that time, as none have been able to erase that memory of my first chai experience. But this one has piqued my interest.
My biggest issue with chai is the amount of cinnamon that most blends use. If “just the right amount” for most folks is used, I find it overpowering and a bit bitter. Kolkata Street Chai removes the cinnamon from the chai equation for me, leaving just 3 aromatic spices to create an alt chai flavor profile. When I opened the packet, the blend of cardamom, nutmeg and saffron were almost intoxicating….heady and compelling… to the point where it felt like the longest 4 minutes of my life, steeping this tea. The CTC used is strong but not bitter when steeped at 4 minutes, and supports milk and honey well….so well, in fact, that I burned my mouth via lack of impulse control. I can be such a greedy greedy tea child, especially when I’m feeling ill.
Teabox has created a intriguing alternative to typical masala chai in their Kolkata Street Chai. I will purchase this tea. I will learn to drink it slowly so that I don’t have a numb spot on my tongue where I have burned my tongue. I will learn to savor the aromatic spiced tea instead of gulping it down, lost in the pure childlike joy in my mouth. ……maybe…..
Flavors: Cardamon, Nutmeg, Saffron, Tea
Blankly staring into my tea drawer on my last day of vacation…my eyes found this tea. This tea that I can never seem to spell correctly. It always makes me smile. I’ve been drinking lots of single estate assam teas recently, and when I went back and read my previous reviews of this tea I realized that even with assam tea, my tastes have changed with knowledge and experience….which seems difficult to do, because assam teas are fairly limited with their “surprises” in flavor profiles. In their description of Lattakoojan Assam, Butiki points out a strong cocoa note and citrus note along with the usual suspects that accompany assam tea (malt, stone fruit). On my first tastings of this tea 8 months ago, I felt this was a smooth assam. Today, with the mileage that my palate has logged, I am aware of an obvious astringency that accompanies the detectable cocoa note. Malt? Most certainly. Stonefruit? Yes, some….but the citrus escapes me, as it did before. The cocoa note is still what I would call a bittersweet cocoa, not a Hershey flavor…. it’s earthy and almost “gritty”, if that can be called a flavor. It is not overpowering, but adds a depth to the profile of this tea that is certainly unique.
With a medium weight mouthfeel and astringency, Lattakoojan Assam’s base note of cocoa is what sets it apart from the usual assam profile. Try it while you can get it if you are an assam fan looking to try one that stands out in a crowd.
Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Stonefruits
Finding myself faced with a blissfully drizzly Christmas morning in Southern California, (and an ever engorged tea cabinet) I found myself reaching for this tea. I wonder if there are special words in the dialect spoken in Yunnan that perfectly describe the delicateness of this tea. There are many flavors to this tea ~cocoa, grain, loam, a touch of creamy cocoa and sweet yams, but the one that makes me reach for this tea is the pecan note. There is something decadent about the delicate pecan note in this tea that makes this a true special occasion tea, especially when accompanied by stollen, panettone, and many other Christmas delights. Merry Christmas, y’all….may your day bring all you wish for…… (I’m wishing’ for another cup of this tea, and I’m going to get it! )
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Pecan, Yams
5:20am on my first day of christmas break, sitting in front of an open window…enjoying the temperature difference between inside and outside when the wind blows….really, is there anything better than winter?? The fragrance of this mug of tea keeps meeting my nose at random moments, and even before I’ve taken a sip I know exactly what to expect. The fujian notes lead the way into winter this morning, with deep velvety cocoa, dark molasses and a slight cannabis note….followed by the yam and apricot, baked grain and raisin of the Dian Hong. I’m thinking that what I pick up in some teas as cannabis others think as rye, but either way, this is a whole cup of warmth for this winter morning, when the holiday lays in wait and savoring every moment is the one thing you want to do. What do I have planned for my holiday? Selective hibernation, quiet contemplation of long shadows and mindfulness. It all begins, very deliciously here, with this cup.
ps. I used to get samples with my orders from Whispering Pines but haven’t gotten any in my last 3 orders….anyone else?
Flavors: Apricot, Cannabis, Cocoa, Molasses, Raisins, Yams
Another stop on my quest for the best chocolate tea. I’ve not had Peet’s before, but this came as a solid recommendation from someone who had worked at the place as “the best tea Peets ever created”. It’s not currently available, but I dodgily (not a word, i know) purchased a tin on ebay. (I’ve drank the cup and I’m not dead, which is a good sign in this day and age!) This tea has both cacao nibs and shells…the shells combating the slightly sour taste that comes with cacao nibs. The base tea in Red Cloud is from Hunan China, which is I think what makes this tea work as well as it does. Canton’s Chocolate tea is assam/chinese and is steeped for only 3 minutes. This tea, because it can be steeped longer (gotta love Chinese teas!) imparts more of the chocolate flavor from the shells and nibs…which is good/bad….good, because there’s more natural chocolate flavor…bad because it overwhelms the vanilla and you kind of lose it in the mix. All that said, this is a brilliant alternative to cocoa during the winter months, and I will be looking at Peets website a bit more often now….
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Tea, Vanilla
I’ve been craving hot chocolate recently, but remembered I had this in my cabinet and steeped up a good tablespoon in 12 oz of water. The base for Canton’s Chocolate tea is Feng Qing and Assam blended with Peruvian cocoa nibs and organic Madagascar vanilla. They call for a 2 minute steep, which gave a medium brown liquor and an understated cocoa flavor. This is a good tea, but I wanted it to be better than it is. The cocoa is certainly unsweetened, and even after I added a touch of honey, it stayed “unsweetened” tasting in the mug. The tea itself was identifiable as Feng Qing and Assam and gave a bit of astringency to the mouthfeel. Hmmmmm…..I was expecting something more rich and vibrant, but the flavor profile kind of just sat in the middle of the mug, like a little goldfish deciding if it was going to live or give up the ghost…..
I love Canton Breakfast Tea. I think it’s one of the best breakfast blends out there, but I doubt I will reorder this one.I am now officially taking suggestions for chocolate teas (with no fruit) with black tea base.
Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Vanilla
Another flavored tea?? Yeah, I’m apparently on a roll with these today. For whatever reason, after I rode this morning I decided a cup of dessert tea might be nice. I’d gotten this in my BF order as an afterthought to qualify for free shipping. I’m rather glad I did. There is certainly a gentle tart/sweet apricot in this tea, a creaminess from the white chocolate, and a hint of nuts…. it’s not pronounced, but it’s there… almonds perhaps? In any case, together with a touch of milk and spot of honey, this is exactly what I was looking for in my cup for this moment. Pastry without most of the calories. Interestingly enough, looking at the leaves after the steep, there are some greenish ones interspersed with the brown as well as what looks like CTC….so I’m not quite sure what the base is for this tea, but it suits the flavor well.
Flavors: Apricot, Creamy, Nutty