70 Tasting Notes
2nd steeping of the same leaves. I lowered the steep time down to just under 2 minutes, and that seems to have improved the balance even more.
The aroma is still overwhelming smoke with a hint of, well, more smoke. It’s a damn smoky smell. And it’s roasted with pine needles, invoking in it that campfire memory. But the taste is much more balanced.
Here’s today’s process:
Rinse the leaves for 30 seconds.
Tumble water at first boil over 7 teaspoons of leaves in 32 oz Bodum Assam tea press.
Steep for just under 2 minutes.
I can’t change this now since I want to know what the 3rd steeping will be like, but the next time I do this with fresh leaves I will use the same process as above but with less leaves, maybe 5 teaspoons instead of 7+.
Still experimenting with this punch you in the face, full flavored, uber smoky campfire of a tea. I think I’m getting closer, and I have a good idea of what to do next time.
I used a little less leaves than last time, and cut the steeping time, and both of those seemed to do the trick, but both need to be done even more so next time. And, of course, the pre-rinse is a necessity with this tea. It’s just too smoky without it, you get the smoke from the roasting but no tea flavor. The rinse cleans the leaves, removes just enough of the smoke, and opens the leaves up to bring out more of that black tea flavor.
I went from 9 teaspoons to 7, next time I’ll use 5 or 6. Steep time was lowered from 4 minutes to 3, and it still needs to be lowered. Maybe even as little as 1 or 1.5. Next time.
All three of those things really helped balance the final flavor much better. The smoke still dominates in both aroma and taste, but the tea leaves at least stand a chance in the fight.
I think I’m finally figuring this one out!
Experimented with using this for sun tea again. The last time I used a tea ball that was nowhere near big enough, and I still can’t find my old ginormous one. So, this time I used more leaves and just let them loose in the water. I decided to use more than I thought necessary, so I used 6 heaping tablespoons in my 2.5 quart jug.
It came out damn near perfection. This white tea makes one hell of a sun tea. Nice and light in flavor and feel, but still enough presence for flavor fans like myself.
And, of course, right when I brought it inside, I found the old ginormous tea ball. Next time!
At it again with this one. This has become a staple the last few months, but it was time to try something a little different with it. So, I upped the amount of leaves used in my Bodum Assam 32 oz tea press from 3 tablespoons (heaping, of course) to 4 and a pinch extra. I rinsed them before steeping, and let it steep for (ish) 2 minutes.
The result was a bigger, bolder white tea full of flavor. The nutty woodsy flavor jumps out much quicker, but it keeps that delicate, tranquil feel and dry, clean finish.
I was never very experienced with white teas before this one, I’m glad I bought extra to do some experimenting. I think I’m close to figuring it out!
Flavors: Earth, Nuts, Wood
Last day dogsitting, last day to sample my sisters tea collection. And let’s be honest, there isn’t a lot of “tea” here. There is a lot of herbal things, and some of them even have a bit of tea in them.
This is a white tea with vanilla and coconut. The aroma is just that. Vanilla and coconut. This would be great for people that don’t like tea. Don’t get me wrong, it smells really good. But then I taste it.
The taste is dry and a bit on the bitter side. The vanilla disapears as soon as it enters my mouth, and the coconut just doesn’t go well with the remaining tiny hint of white tea.
Remember those old bitter beer face commercials? Yup.
Flavors: Coconut, Fruity, Vanilla
I am a big fan of rooibos, and not a huge fan of outside flavors in my tea. Maybe I’m an elitist. Or maybe I just have a more traditional taste. Any way, here we have a rooibos with berries added. Let’s see…
Aroma is primarily berries, but the underlying rooibos smoothness is still present. Taste is similar. It is certainly a rooibos, with that distint smooth, satisfying taste and feel. The berries are very prominant, but not quite to the point that they are overwhelming. I would personally like more rooibos taste in the balance, but this does work.
The problem with many of these boutique tea companies is that they don’t trust the taste of their tea, and feel the need to bury it with flavors that should just be a hint, a helpful addition to compliment the tea itself, not to be a primary flavor. This comes close. Any more berry covering up the rooibos, and it would be overdone.
Yet another, the third this morning, sampling from the Tea Forte collection box. Here we go.
The aroma is wonderful. Classic Jasmine Green. I’m picky about teas like this, because so many companies add too much crap to classic, simple ideas. The aroma on this suggests otherwise. Strong, big and bold, earthy, nutty, grassy aroma.
First taste is the same. Subtle, very well balanced, very drinkable. The Jasmine pops out with that grassy, nutty taste, while not overwhelming and hiding the wonderful earthy undertones. The taste keeps getting bigger from there, but never goes unbalanced.
This isn’t the best Jasmine Green I’ve tasted, but I am impressed by the amount of in your face taste while still keeping the super drinkable well balanced overall appeal. It’s on the verge of being over the top, but not quite. Great Jasmine Green.
Flavors: Earth, Grass, Nuts
The 2nd sampling from the Tea Forte collection box.
The first reaction is Damn, it’s a good thing I like blackberries, the aroma is almost overwhelming with them. It is a reallly good aroma. Aside from the strong blackberry smell, there is also a hint of nuts and a bit of spice feel. You have to really search to find them.
The taste is all fruit. The blackberries take over, hiding everything else, even the underlying black tea base. I would love to have more balance in this case. After all, if I wanted hot blackberry juice, I would have that. I like black tea, and there just isn’t even a hint of it here.
Other than the balance, this is a damn good tea. The blackberry taste is smooth, soothing and super yummy. Probably a great afternoon tea, maybe during a rainstorm with a book open. Good stuff.
Dog sitting thjs weekend, which means checking out my sisters tea collection. She isn’t as much of a tea fanatic as I am, but she does have the Tea Forte and Tazo box collections, so all is not lost.
The first up is Tea Forte’s Earl Grey. Here we go:
I am a fan of Earl Grey. As a Star Trek fan, I loved when Picard ordered his Tea, Earl Grey, hot. I have had good and great Earl Greys, bad ones, boring ones and overdone ones.
So far, this one is good, but dangerously close to being overdone. The aroma is good, with that classic fresh, fruity, refreshing smell, but on the subtle side. The initial taste is memorable Earl Grey. Warm, welcoming, refreshing, with that fruity, slightly earthy, complex taste and feel. This one has a hint of smoke as well. The secondary taste is where the problem is. Spice? Really? A spiced Earl Grey? So American. I guess I just don’t like spiced teas.
This is definitely a step above the average mass produced Earl Grey, but not the best I’ve had. The complexity works against the basic flavor, like they tried too hard to make it interesting instead of just making it good. There is something extra in here, something unnessesary, something adding more of a spice taste. Without it, whatever it is, I would like this much more.
Flavors: Fruity, Spices, Sweet