376 Tasting Notes
i am a great admirer of verdant teas… my reviews reflect that clearly. it isn’t just the quality of their teas, or their credit given to the He family of tea farmers and traditions, it’s also admiration for their customer service and their understanding of their clientele. this tea, however, expanded my horizon in a manner i wasn’t anticipating.
i joined steepster when i began to take loose leaf tea seriously. i had had a strange series of unfortunate tea events at david’s teas… i’d been back and forth several days in a row with problems ranging from allergies to just not liking what had been recommended to me! my patience was running thin and i was tired of spending my meager budget on gas. i decided to research my teas online before i bought. there through steepster i found verdant teas, butiki, teavana, andrews and dunham… and yes david’s teas (i just improved my margin of error). my eyes were opened and i found myself in love with leaves and flowers across the globe!
i had no idea that the simple act of opening the sample package of this tea would be the start the next stage of my education. the tea was brown as opposed to black, curled, with some leaves as long 2 centimeters. alright, so maybe not a hugely intellectual description, but not too bad either. my real problems arose when i tried to describe the taste.
it was… it reminded me of…. words hadn’t just failed me, they had made mass exodus out of my beleaguered brain. that is a rare occurrence for me! once upon a time i was an english major, i have been an english tutor and editor, always a writer and poet (don’t even get me started on art school). i was very much out of my comfort zone as a digital wordless and stammering goof. time to study.
the taste that was so familiar was a refined echo of a pecco orange black tea…. however, that particular genre can be quite harsh and acrid, whereas this tea was not. why not? because verdant uses (i think my terminology is accurate here) flowery grades… as opposed to many bagged tea blends that use fannings of minute size referred to as dust which are the lowest quality, and quite brutal to drink. i am beyond unqualified to estimate the grade of whole leaf used in this blend, LOL.
back to words i know: i taste earth and ceylon, i taste autumn and not spring, minute traces of citrus. i wonder what crops were planted nearby that vicariously influenced the tea bushes and their progeny. there is also an understated acidity that could have evolved into a harshness but did not and instead added freshness.
i have always been curious, but i can honestly say that A tea has never on its own pressed me into multiple feverish searches through wikipedia.
the great thing about a surprise is the many different ways that it can manifest. it can come in the form of ‘BOO!’, a lottery ticket win, realizing that someone was listening when you didn’t realize it and plugged in your favourite movie or meal. this tea was a surprise!
i am the scrooge that picks through the valentine’s day treats and chucks out the cinnamon hearts. they’re revolting. they burn my tongue and i hate the taste. i’m the one that only buys tins of watkins cinnamon because i genuinely think it’s the best tasting. don’t even get me started on oranges in tea: invariably tea companies dig too deep and include too much of the pith in the sample and my tea tastes bitter.
dry this tea smells like souped up cinnamon hearts. steeped… well, the orange much have been zested exactly right and the cloves of good quality because it works really well! surprise! the orange is present but doesn’t mess with my cream.
honestly the day couldn’t be better for it either because while the date may be june 20th it feels more like december 20th… wind, rain and a long day of errand running while it galed around me.
thank you so much cavocorax for this sample…. it was my first tasting from 52teas! (very exciting)
when i’m reviewing a tea i make a point of not reading other reviews until after the fact. i am relaying MY tea experience and my interpretation and i would prefer to communicate my strongest thoughts first before i reinterpret with ‘actually, that’s a good point.’ so i have read none of the reviews for this tea but i have seen the rated number… with which i must disagree but will explain why.
the dry leaf has the lovely woody undertone that honeybush alone carries. bits of cinnamon, bits of vanilla, both play a part in the scent profile. the strongest note, however is the strawberries.
strawberries are excellent. they are low in sugar even when they taste crazy sweet, they wear their seeds on the outside (how cool is that?), they are members of the rose family rosaceae, you can dip them in chocolate, whipped cream or put them in tea! strawberries should be at the top of the human edibles food list! (unless you’re allergic and then we could swap it out with melon or i don’t know… mustard.)
even before the waterworks these strawberries were not right to my nose. they smelled very much like the extra ripe strawberries you buy and intend to eat the day of, but then you forget and eat them two days later and you find them over sweet with a turned, almost fermented taste. i was concerned for my cup of tea.
i continued to brew and by the time i got to sipping my opinion had improved somewhat. the strawberries don’t taste right, but neither are they as off as they smelled. if i had to guess i would lean towards the freeze drying as the source of the problem or, perhaps, the harvest time of the strawberries. the berry note is very strongly sweet, but carries with it (to my palate) the distinct twang of ‘damn, i forgot to eat these the other day’. this is not a thing i like.
caveat: as per my post yesterday on cinnamon swirl bread, i was speaking to government ministries all day, so possibly that soured my palate, or perhaps the BRILLIANT cinnamon swirl bread tea made other things seem less than. option 3: steeper error? i will continue to investigate, possibly an iced tea? if my opinion improves i will return and make a note of it.
sorry folks, i have to knock that number down a bit =0(
I wanted to write and thank you so much for the cinnamon swirl tea you sent me!
I woke up this morning with (and I’ll be honest) a certain amount of dread in my heart. I knew that today I was going to be stuck dealing with provincial government red tape and that it would probably take hours. Before I even got started I put the kettle on. ‘cinnamon swirl’ I determined as soon I perused the tea stash you sent me. It was the sample I most coveted as we wrote back and forth determining what we would send to one another.
My electric kettle clicked off and I opened the little bag of cinnamon swirl. Long fibers all stuck together reminding me of the tasty goo on top of a cinnamon knot… a vague scent of cinnamon, but not the heavy smell I had been expecting. Well, if there’s anything I’ve learned on this journey it’s not to judge a tea before it’s steeped.
At this point I will confide in you something that I hope you find most complimentary: I followed your written instructions! You always hear about different personality types: A, B, etc. people have always told me that I’m an SC which stands for Serial Contrarian. It’s never my intention to be contrary, and so far as I know I’m not a jerk, I just tend to do things my own way! That said with such a precious sample, did I really want to waste it by serial contrarianing it away? (I just couldn’t risk it especially seeing as I have read frustrations about not tasting what was expected by other steepers). so, 1 tablespoon for 6 ounces of water for 1.5 minutes of steep time…. Really? I thought to myself. Because I am famous for my long deliberate steeps as well as getting distracted and inadvertently making them even longer. Oh well…… instruction following. Yup yup!
The water changed colour and became rust hued, the vapour billowing out of my cup took on a cinnamon slant. I smelled a bakery! Just a second, afk… must take another sip. I’m back. The most remarkable thing happened when I removed my tea ball: mass amounts of red poured out of it! it reminded me of the huge red algae blooms you see in the ocean from space. It just kept pouring out and filling my mug. Wow!
Now, I know the purists would frown, but I added my standard bit of cream and sugar, it is MY cup of tea after all and for reasons that are old and complicated to explain those add ins give me comfort. (and who doesn’t need a bit of extra comfort when dealing with the government all day???)
The verdict: I am drinking cinnamon swirl bread. Cavocorax your instructions were magic! As I near the bottom of my cup there is cinnamon piled there. No floral notes or undertones aside from the warm taste of cinnamon bread. Interesting though because the flavour is warm even as my tea is cooling. This is lovely. Thank you for such a tasty respite from phone calls… and the directions so that I achieved the desired result!
thanks so much to cavocorax for this awesome sample!
in retrospect i think my standard practice of oversteeping may have bitten me a bit because this tea is everything it declares itself to be (ie: i have heartburn and it’s my own fault! lol)
this is a difficult tea to describe: heavy, a thick taste without being viscous or sticking to the tongue, the malt is very detectable as is the chocolate. there are also notes of molasses and is very reminiscent of chocolate stout.
no floral notes, but as i previously mentioned, i did steep for 6 minutes (or so) so it might be that i overpowered them, lol. surprisingly smooth, though at this length of steep a wee bit astringent (again reminiscent of stout!).
if you like artisan ales and are up for a creatively contributed tea, then i’m sure you’ll be satisfied with this one! i especially enjoyed playing up the sweetness with a bit of sugar and adding a drop of cream.
if i had to ascribe this tea an image it would be this: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/black-purple-calla-lilies—1—macro-flowers-fine-art-photography-artecco-fine-art-photography—photograph-by-nadja-drieling.html …this tea unfurls, draws attention, is unusual. you won’t forget it soon, nor should you.
dark chocolate overtones, but no sweetness. molasses. very low acidity. this is a heavy tea that moves and changes in the space between sipping and swallowing.
it metamorphoses in the second steep. it becomes mineral heavy. it has an odd (but not unpleasant) refractive granular quality, but is somehow still smooth.
this elegant tea has been driving me bananas all day. multiple cups, multiple steepings and the same disconcerting echo: i know this taste, i’ve had it before, what on earth is it??? i have spent my sips narrowing it down.
the sweet fresh taste from pea shoots, the hollow starchy taste from corn milk when you’re husking it, the woody husks you sometimes find on ripe blackberries. to my palate no part of this is connected to a green, black or puerh tea. i have never had a tea remotely like this. there are no floral notes, only fresh, sweet light tones that echo around and around ‘you know me, what’s my name?’
this excellent tea has had me doing circles today! i even gave up one of my precious sample buds to chew on so i could whittle down the taste contributers.
beautiful clear, lovely with cream…. drat i’ve run out…. must look into buying more….
thank you scribbles for this very unusual tea! okay, i will start by saying that i do like this tea. why say it that way? because i am on the cusp of laughter and i needed to have my enjoyment of the blend stated first, before i have a snicker.
i opened the bag and i smelled neo citron. yup. reading the history behind the blend’s design i wondered if david had a cold or at least a bit of sinus congestion while he was in L.A. i tried to remember whether i had liked neo citron but failed because it always used to knock me out.
being the super steeper that i am i gave it my normal 6 minutes, figured that cream would just give me a mug full of feta but did stir in a bit of sugar. i wafted the vapor towards my nose, a st. bernard named neo making it’s way towards me through the steam. i burst out laughing and took a sip. neo citron! but also not.
much smoother, has a hefty dose of caffeine…and you know what? seriously, the next time i’m miserable with a cold i will brew this up, add honey as opposed to sugar (and maybe some rum) and make this as a toddy! it won’t be an everyday for me, the affiliation with cold medicine is just too old, but it will make an awesome substitute for the junk i’ve taken in the past when i’m sick! (that’s a pretty big compliment).