10 Tasting Notes
I’ve never tasted the candy this tea is based on, but I love rooibos and was more than willing to give it a try. Some of the HG collection teas aren’t very strong with their flavors (aromas are another matter), yet are quite pleasant in a light, unobtrusive way. This one had medium strength flavors, but… Not sure what these flavors are, but it’s quite probably the strangest, and one of the most unpleasant rooibos teas I’ve ever had. There’s a particular kind of sweetness that reminded me of bad cream in cheap cakes. Or even cheap alcohol! Milk did not help at all. Oh course, it could be a perfect imitation of the calisson taste, but I wouldn’t know.
A rare Laos tea with a smoky aroma, but it’s nothing like Lapsang Souchong, or any Keemun I know. I could say it has an earthy flavour, but it’s not at all like puerhs. The taste is… wet trees, moss, and smoke? With a dry, gingery finish. I wish I could try the non-ginger version (called Champasak, I believe). Brewing this gongfu style made me even more confused about the flavours here. A tea to return to, periodically.
This is a blend of white, green, and oolong tea, with ginger and liquorice root. As you can imagine, dry leaves give off a rather complex aroma, full of subtleties. Sweet-ish and gingery. As for the taste, well… The liquorice root doesn’t really enter the equation at that point. Ginger does, but it’s never as strong as in Indian Chai, or similar spicy drinks.
As for the actual tea, well, if you’re lucky, brewing this at high temperature you may get a yummy gingery drink, with translucent liquor. And a lower temperature, around 75 degrees C, may deliver to you a very gentle, sweet cup, like a complex white tea with very subtle floral notes. Trouble is, if you’re unlucky, you’ll just get a very average, light green tea with ginger, a very poor green version of Chai.
So, an interesting and somewhat strange blend, but its worth a try if you like conducting experiments every now and then. It may also yield interesting results when brewed gongfu style, something I haven’t tried with this tea yet.
Dry leaves are mixed with flower petals and give off a very dry, flowery smell – reminds me of herbariums. Not the kind of scent I want tea to have. Steeped, it still gives off the same aroma, but the taste is completely different. The floral accents are just the surface. Beneath lies a very strong, very tasty black tea, full-bodied. Kind of like if you mix a Yunnan black tea without the astringency and bite, and a Dianhong without the fruitiness. Not sure if this makes sense. What I mean is that if you like Chinese black teas, give this one a try as well.
Mariage Frères are characteristically coy with their descriptions. Their website claims Hunan, but my sources tell me this is similar to Anhui’s Huo Shan Huang Ya (Yellow Sprouts). Whatever the origin, this is a difficult tea to make, or at least I found it to be so. Strictly 75 degrees Celsius, and keep the cup/teapot open so that the water is cooling down as the tea is steeping. And it’s properly steeped after about a minute. Keep it steeping for a longer time and it loses most of its aroma and taste, and becomes an average green tea. I think I only got this two times out of ten.
But the results, oh the results! Impossibly beautiful flavor and aroma, gentle and full-bodied at the same time, layer upon layer of different kinds of sweet and floral taste and smell. And if you keep the wet leaves after steeping, they give off a yet another kind of sweetness. Breathtaking, really. Just very demanding to make.
Bought this cheap in a local supermarket and was pleasantly surprised. I don’t know if the “Anhui black tea” bit in the company’s description is really true. The leaves look like BOP soaked in blueberry… At any rate, as far as simple flavored teas go, this one was quite nice, the blueberry making a strong enough impact on taste and giving a pleasant aroma to the liquor.
This is a vanilla rooibos tea from a Swedish company, little known outside Sweden it seems. I had a good time tasting Kobbs’ blueberry tea, and I love rooibos, so I came to Röd Skymning with high hopes. Unfortunately, even after 5+ minutes of steeping, the characteristic rooibos aroma just wasn’t coming through, and what little did was utterly obliterated by vanilla flavoring (and it too was not very tasty).
It’s the third time I’ve tried this tea, and it doesn’t quite work for me. Its dry leaves have an absolutely wonderful aroma, malty, with chocolate and cookies, and cornflowers, and I don’t know what else. Very rich and promising. But I can’t get it out through steeping – being a Britain-inspired tea, this gets very strong very quickly, and I can’t feel too many of those flavors. I’ve taken it with milk today, and while it was substantially better, the tea still doesn’t fulfill the promise made by that aroma.
Taken with no sugar and no milk, this is a rather poor blend with unpleasant artificial (?) flavorings. However, add a teaspoon or two of sugar and enough milk, and the taste will change dramatically into something very artificial, very bubblegum-like, and extremely enjoyable! A cheery rainy day, indeed. I’ve found the same scheme works wonders for some other Nordqvist teas, particularly Faithful Friend and Tiger’s Daydream. Not an everyday tea, but a very nice oddball sort of tea to have on your shelf.
(Unfortunately, I only have this in teabags. Couldn’t find the loose leaf version, even in Finland!)
I think this is one of the more interesting teas in the “Les Calligraphies du thé” collection, and also one that is very easy to miss. This is because anise seeds give it a very strong fragrance that completely overpowers everything else, so there’s almost nothing to be gained from smelling the dry leaves. You have to steep it like a well oxidized oolong, in nearly boiling water, and then the real flavor comes out – a complex green tea somewhat reminiscent of classic Chinese green teas. Very difficult to describe, but perhaps like Pi Lo Chun without the smokiness. Anise plays a crucial part, bonding extremely well with the bouquet and not overshadowing any of the other flavors. Interestingly, this tea seems best when drunk quite hot, unlike most green teas.