1589 Tasting Notes
A sample from Miss B! I adore Kenyan black tea, and I have vivid memories of Butiki’s Kenya Obsidian, which was probably the last one I drank. I pretty much relied on it just before Christmas – it woke me up and got me through the day. My first sip of this one brings those memories right back, because it’s the base tea that’s front and centre initially. It’s robust, malty, strong – a lot of the things I really appreciate in black tea. It’s not bitter, or drying, or too tannic, though, and that’s a welcome discovery.
The bergamot is the second fiddle here. It’s quite gentle, but strikes a good balance between fruity and floral without being overpowering, bitter, or just plain fake-tasting. Bergamot isn’t always my favourite thing, but I feel quite at home with this one. When it’s at its best, I find Earl Grey soothing and relaxing – it’s something about the scent, I think, paired with the lightly brisk flavour. This one smells of sunshine, but it’s a tamer beast than some in terms of taste. Perfect for me, then. Plus, that base…
Definitely one of the best EGs I’ve tried recently.
So I had a total moment in the kitchen at work this morning. I was trying to add milk to my cup of this, and being a bit cautious because it’s a fairly full bottle and I didn’t want to overdo it. So I’m tipping it just a bit, as you do, and nothing’s coming out. I’m usually half asleep until about 11, so I checked I’d taken the lid off (and I had, so points for me), and tipped it a bit further. Still nothing. It was frozen, guys. Like, solid. So then I had to check that I’d put it in the fridge and not the freezer, and I had, so at least it’s not my own sleepiness that robbed me of milk this morning. It’s defrosting slowly, although I’m not madly keen on the thought of adding frozen chunks of milk to my next cup. I might just give it a miss until tomorrow, and see what it’s like then.
On a positive note, my cupboard is now really near 200 (and will hopefully be under 200 again before I go on holiday on the 24th.) Keeping it that way might be a problem, though. It’s around this point that I usually get a hankering to order all the tea, and true to form I’m currently trying to convince myself that I don’t need to place 4 orders and push it right back up to about 250 again. But I want to. In my head, I know I should hold off ordering until I’ve got a much more manageable cupboard, which for me means around 50-75. But think of the tea I’ll be missing in the meantime. It doesn’t help that a Whittard just opened again in Norwich, and they have some new blends that are really calling to me – Cucumber Mint and Petit Macaron in the cutest pastel caddies…
This note wasn’t really about Wedding Imperial, in the end. I feel like I’ve said all that I have to say about it for the moment, and all I can really add at this point is that I definitely prefer it with milk. If I’d known I’d be drinking it black, I probably would have underleafed and reduced the brew time, because it’s quite potent. Rich chocolate and caramel, with nothing to temper it, before 10 in the morning? Hardly the best idea. But you can’t tip MF down the sink, so I went with what I had. We’ll reunite once my milk defrosts.
Today’s work cold brew. This one had been in my desk drawer for a while, and while I’ve enjoyed drinking it hot this past winter, I feel like I’m done with that method of preparation now. My last cup was a little underwhelming, with less of the cranberry I’ve come to expect. Probably it’s getting a little old.
Anyway, cold brewing gave it a new lease of life, and also used up the last of the leaf, so a win either way. I used 2 tbsp of leaf in 2 litres of cold water, and it overnighted in the fridge for around 10 hours. This morning’s result is a pale-ish straw colour, which completely belies the fact that it has tons of flavour. I’m getting lots of cranberry again, and there’s an underlying juicy sweetness that reminds me a lot of pineapple (which I’m sure I’ve never tasted much in this blend before). It helps to cut some of the tartness/sourness from the cranberry, anyway. The green tea base is very subtle and smooth, with no bitterness or astringency (which is always my biggest worry when I cold brew green tea overnight).
I’m really pleased with how this one worked out, and it seems like a fitting way to say goodbye to a thoroughly lovely blend.
A sample from Miss B! After reading a couple of tasting notes, I went for a lot of leaf and a short brew time – 2.5 tsp for around 2 minutes, in boiling water. No additions. From looking at the leaf, I get the impression that this is a fairly unusual blend – citrus flavours and coconut with traditional chai spices.
To taste, though, it’s actually better than I expected. There’s an initial brightness from the citrus (orange, mandarin?) that bursts across my palate in a way that’s both sweet and slightly sharp/sour in the way only citrus can be. The mid-sip reveals some creamy coconut, which ushers in a semi-tropical vibe that’s acutally borne out really nicely in the spices which come into play towards the end of the sip.
I did wonder whether the spices would overpower the citrus flavour, but they’re actually reasonably subtle. You know they’re there when they emerge – I can pick out cardamon and pepper for sure, plus the warmth of ginger. Somehow, though, they work with the citrus/coconut combination, rather than against it. The overall feeling is of a tropical-style chai blend – the only thing I have to compare it to is Thai Chai, which generally contains coconut, but it’s not quite the same animal. The citrus here is (obviously) the really unique thing.
I’m enjoying this as a summer chai. I’d try it iced if I had enough leaf, but I think I probably don’t. Really, I’m just pleased that it doesn’t taste as odd as it sounds initially, plus it made for a good mid-morning cup.
A sample from Miss B I’m almost through the box of samples she sent me now – there was so much in it I thought I’d never find the bottom! I didn’t read any reviews or the description before I brewed this one up, and surprisingly I came out pretty close to the mark with my initial thoughts. In the tsp I used, I could see coconut shreds, slivers of almond, and a coffee bean amongst the black tea base. I gave it approximately 3.5 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk.
To taste, I’m getting coffee and chocolate in the initial sip – very reminiscent of a mocha, although not as intense. There’s a nuttiness in the mid-sip, and a rich smoothness that could just about be caramel. The base is fairly robust and deliciously malty, so even though the coffee flavour is fairly prominent, you never forget that you’re actually drinking tea. When it comes to coffee-flavoured tea, that’s the way I like it.
I’m enjoying this one. It’s definitely different, and it’s making for a good wake-up cup. I’ve tried maybe one or two coffee-flavoured teas before, but this is definitely my favourite so far. It’s not too overpowering, it’s still decidedly tea, and the nutty-chocolate flavours work really well. I’d buy more of this one.
I feel like I never log this one, and it’s not because I’m not drinking it (because evidently I am…) Anyway, I’ve made a point of adding a note for it today, mostly because it’s so perfect for a hot day and I had to share that. I love spearmint at the best of times, but its cooling sweetness is just the thing when only a hot drink will do, and it’s also nearly 30 degrees out.
I’ve not tried this one iced or cold brewed yet, because I’m a little bit afraid of the gunpowder base going astringent or bitter on me. I can imagine it working really well, though…if I get it right!
Sipdown! Used the last of my leaf in another cold brew, partly because I’m enjoying it and partly so that I can finally say goodbye to this one. It’s been good – particularly cold – but I feel like I’ve moved on from Adagio so I’ll not be repurchasing. There are other, equally good (or better) peach/apricot teas out there, but I’ve enjoyed this one while it lasted.
This morning I had a hankering to try this cold, so I whisked 1/4 tsp into a shot glass of cold milk, as a kind of mini-milkshake trial. It’s good – I can taste the bubblegum pretty clearly, followed by the creaminess of the milk. It’s much like a latte, really, only cold, and a little more intense because of the volumes involved. The aftertaste is especially good – bubblegum is such an artificial flavour, but I was definitely in the mood for it today and I LOVE it! Thanks again to Roswell Strange for sharing this with me.
A sample from Roswell Strange. This has to be one of the oddest combinations ever? I mean, mate, black, herbal…? Surely it’s hardly herbal if it’s got both mate and black tea in it, neither of which are renowned for their caffeine free-ness. I can get behind the idea of mate and black, though, and caramel works well with darker teas as a flavour, so…maybe?I have another question. What’s monk fruit? Please don’t say fruit eaten by monks. I could google, but the people at work would think I’m odd. Or odder than they already think I am, anyway. Maybe that’s one for later.
I gave the bag 3 minutes in boiling water, and it’s brewed up to a medium golden-brown, no additions. The initial taste is very heavy on the mate – quite earthy and pungent with a burnt coffee-like aftertaste. There’s also something smoky, although I can’t pinpoint exactly what. Maybe the mate? The monk fruit? Ha. I didn’t get much caramel initially, but as the cup cools I can begin to taste it. It’s a little on the artificial side, but not too badly, and there is a hint of salt. The salt actually works really well with the savoury flavour of the mate and the smoke – somehow it helps to bring everything together. Then with the underlying richness of the caramel, it actually makes for a pretty decent cup. I’m not even sure how it is that earth, coffee, smoke, salt and caramel taste good together, but they kind of do so there you go. My befuddled morning brain can’t make any more sense of things than that.
Sipdown! This will be a fond farewell, because I love it so much and it’s really difficult to get hold of David’s in the UK. I’ve had three cups from the sample so kindly provided by Roswell Strange, though, and I’ve resteeped each one once, so six cups in all. That should be enough to keep me going until next time I manage to get hold of some!
It’s not goodbye, but until we meet again. I hope.