709 Tasting Notes
OK wow. Long story coming here.
So I went to Chapters today, purposely, to get a book. Not just any book. Hollow City, the sequel to Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The first book was amazing. The perfect amount of suspense, drama, fiction, and history. Highly recommended, by myself anyway. I couldn’t wait for a sequel, not know if there ever would be one, but how can they just leave you hanging at the end of a book like that. I would have rather ordered it online and had it sent directly to my door, but it wasn’t released in time, and I will purposely be reading it shortly. So I went to the store, I put my blinders on. Straight to the books, don’t look around, don’t look around, don’t look around. Dammit, I looked around. Out of the corner of my eye I see a logo that kind of reminds me of the Harley Davidson logo, but is really the Steven Smith Teamaker logo (Steve you are such a bada$$). It took me like 2 seconds to forget what I went for and to get over to the display, which was a bunch of Tea Forte with some Steven Smith hiding in between. I was in heaven. I was still reeling from the adrenaline rush from finding it (I would say until now it was impossible to come across in Canada, and unable to order from the Steven Smith online shop due to shipping restrictions).
Sidenote: What is happening by the way, Fauchon at Winners, now Steven Smith at Chapters, the [tea] apocalypse is coming!
I was completely drawn in. Then I saw Lord Bergamot No. 55. Oh my! I stood just sniffing the box. It got kind of weird because by now the employees were watching my “strange” behavior in the tea section. And every other customer just kept walking by, browsing the Tea Forte. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, but only inside my brain, come on guys, this is Steven Smith! But I didn’t because it is mine, all mine, my precious!
Still reeling from the huge adrenaline rush I stopped at McD’s on the way home. Today was my Rob-Ford-minor-set-back. I will get over it, maybe :)
By the time I got home, I was super wishing I had invested in some expensive and ridiculous gadget that turned my kettle on through an app or something. Because then I had to wait, very impatiently for the kettle to boil. While this was happening I read the very sleek and cheeky tea box. The tea came in sachet form, but there was tonnes of room for expansion. The back of the individual packet reads “Steep 5 minutes, while pondering the Earl’s affair with the Duchess of Devonshire.” No! No. The Earl is mine, we are having the affair. He seductively waved me in with the beautiful scent and steam that arose from the steeping tea. I pretending to resist, but really, who am I kidding.
This. Tea. Is. Magnificent. It is smooth, and creamy, and bergamotty. Definitely a more citrus bergamot. It is creamy and silky, slightly sweet. The blend of base teas is perfect. The bergamot is bold but the base is not. Ahhhhhh! The adrenaline is wearing off and serotonin kicking in.
Steven, you are a genius!
I love the names that Devotea gives to their teas. TerriHarpLady was kind enough to share a lot of them with me.
I would, no joke, choke to death, if I tried to drink this while holding a sugar cube in my mouth. I am also not a huge fan of sweetening my straight blacks, so I tried this one straight.
It is delicious straight. It actually has some sweetness to it. I am finding it moderately bold, very smooth, slightly creamy, a bit of earthiness. There is no astringency. I definitely see this tea as an afternoon delight. I certainly could see it as a tea fit for a princess!
Steven Smith teas really intrigue me but I have no great way of getting them due to shipping restrictions, so I am very happy that TerriHarpLady shared some of this with me in our recent swap.
This one reminds me so much of an iced tea, except I am drinking it hot right now, ha ha. It is a beautiful blend of assam and Ceylon. The Ceylon is sweet but the assam is bold, they mix well together. There is just the slightest dry astringency in the aftersip but it works well with the taste of the tea.
Definitely want to try this one iced. I hope to have a chance to try more Steven Smith in the future. Impressed so far.
Another sample in my swap from TerriHarpLady :)
I love “pearl” teas. I love watching the agony of the tea, as it writhes and unfurls in the hot water.
This one is super malty, so obviously I am going to love it. It is bold and creamy. No astringency but there is a bit of a creamy aftertaste. I am also getting hints of a metallic earthiness, or something like that. There is a natural sweetness to the tea, and I almost think I get of a hint of spice, maybe like clove or something, but not sure. I used 4 pearls for this steep but I think I would like to use more next time.
Thank you TerriHarpLady for this sample!!
I had first tried Butiki’s Caramel Vanilla Assam and it was super delicious. So I wanted to try the Premium Taiwanese Assam, which was the base tea.
This one is super delicious, as expected. To me it tastes so similar to the Caramel Vanilla Assam blend. It is sweet, thick, creamy, caramelly. I feel like there is a very slight hint of vanilla in there. Maybe I am just dreaming. It is bold but not astringent, silky smooth. It is malty but not as malty as some other assams I have tried.
CTC assam is one of my favourite teas, but it is bold and has quite a bite. This whole leaf assam is much more smooth, although it does taste bold it doesn’t have that huge bite that the CTC versions have.
Thanks Terri for letting me try this one. It is definitely staying on the shopping list.
Edit: second steep for 2 minutes. Definitely maltier in the second steep. There are hints of cinnamon. This steep is much less sweet and much more spicier, but it is still on the sweet side of spicey. I feel like I am getting more vanilla and cream in this steep.
The other flavour I ended up getting at the liquidation sale. This one is ok. I still prefer the original lemon flavour though. This one is quite sweet, it is definitely raspberry tasting. I know it says it is all natural flavouring but it doesn’t taste like natural raspberry. That being said it is not a bad raspberry taste. It is definitely thirst quenching. The actual tea base is quite hidden by the raspberry flavour but it is still present, smooth and cold as always.
I LOVE this tea. Not necessarily just the Harney version, but I love buckwheat tea in general.
I brewed up a big 2 L pitcher of hot tea. It is a bit light tasting because I didn’t use enough buckwheat. But it is still good. It is roasty and toasty. There is a sweet honey flavour without having to add anything.
I like to make a hot brew and half-puff the buckwheat, then I do a cold brew. I find it you try to do a cold brew straight away, it doesn’t steep as good.
Then I eat the evidence.
I wanted something bold and thick and strong this morning.
I brewed up a cup of this. Not sure how it managed to stay in a sealed packaged in my cupboard for so long.
The taste is smooth and thick, bold but not astringent. There is a silky quality to the liquor. I am getting hints of roast, maybe a touch of smoke but certainly not overpowering – like a roasted barley, and some kind of dark fruit, like purple plums maybe. There is a very slight sweetness to the tea but it is very natural tasting. I am getting hints of dark cocoa as well. Maybe a hint of sweet tobacco. My dad used to smoke grape cigarillos, a good black tea always reminds me of sitting on the deck in the evening beside my dad as he had a smoke at the end of the day (then my mom made him quit because my little sister starting pretending to smoke the left over cigarette butts – now the smell is just a distant but pleasant memory) :)
Thanks Verdant for the awesome taste-memory association today!
Edit: I did a second steep for 2 minutes. It tastes pretty much the same, not as thick. There are more mineral notes and a bit more sweetness in this steep.
I wasn’t sure about this one at first. It smells strongly of cinnamon and apples. Sort of like an apple crisp. Brewed, it tastes like dull cinnamon with some apples. Slightly sweet. There is a weird taste on my tongue with the aftertaste. I want to say astringent but it is more bitter (?). I was expecting a bit more punch with this one. I was hoping for strong, spicey cinnamon, and tart apples. I would have liked there to be more sweetness as well. I am going to play around with the brewing parameters a bit. And add some rock sugar, maybe honey or maple syrup, next time. I think the rock sugar will help to bring out more of the apple. There is less bitterness as the tea cools quite a bit.
A long steeping time may help with the cinnamon as well. We will see…
Met up with Roswell Strange at a tea room and decided to have a cup of this one. The description on the menu was something like lemon and orange flavours. It intrigued me as earl grey is basically orange flavoured (bergamot is a type of orange). I was expecting it to be a bit smokey because it was called Russian (thinking Russian Caravan), but it wasn’t. I would say it was a light to moderate strong Earl Grey. There was definitely a bit more lemon flavour, very distinctly lemon grass. I think the base was a Ceylon, but unsure. The tea came in a tea pot, it was loose tea in the water. So it did get a bit astringent once I got towards the end of the pot. I did get a refill of hot water into the pot. The second steep was definitely a lot lighter and thinner than the first steep, but I was expecting that. Not a too bad Earl Grey. It was great for our little get together. Its always fun meeting fellow steepsters in person.