1321 Tasting Notes
A sample from KittyLovesTea. Pu-erh still scares me, but I’m determined to keep trying until I understand it. I think I’m making progress with that, slowly but surely! I used 1 tuocha, and gave it 1 minute in boiling water. The liquor is surprisingly light in colour – a golden orange. Many of the pu-erh touchas I’ve tried thus far have verged on dark brown/black even when brewed for a very short time. This makes an encouraging change.
The scent is probably, for me, the worst thing about pu-erh. This one is no exception. The whiff of farmyard at 11 o’clock in the morning is never going to be particularly welcome. Still, I can get past that.
For good reason, it turns out. This is a pu-erh I could actually say that I…like. It tastes fairly mild, but has a warm, earthy, slightly dank flavour, a little like compost mixed with wet mud. I’m not screwing my face up, and I can actually sip this one happily and think about the flavour without wishing I really wasn’t. I guess this is called progress?
A sample from KittyLovesTea. I’ve tried Teavivre’s unflavoured Jin Xuan before, and I enjoyed it a lot. It had a natural butteriness that was very pleasant, very smooth, and very easy to drink! I suspect my heart really belongs to flavoured milk oolongs, though, so I was very interested in trying Teavivre’s flavoured version. At last, the time has come!
I used 1 tsp of leaf, and have it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. I felt bad about the water, but that’s what the sachet recommends, so that’s what I did. The resulting liquor is pale yellow gold, and smells of butter and green veg. It’s a scent I’d expect more from a green tea, but there you go.
The first sip reveals a lovely milkiness that almost borders on caramel, which fades into a butteriness by the mid-sip. The vegetal, green-tasting oolong emerges right at the end of the sip, and lingers in the aftertaste. It’s a fresh, almost mineral counterpoint to the sweet, creamy opening flavour.
I like that the flavouring doesn’t drown the oolong completely, and that it complements the oolong’s natural flavour, rather than just covering it up. I’m not sure I would have liked it had it been the first flavoured milk oolong I’d tried, but now I have a little more experience with oolong (milk or otherwise) I can appreciate it for what it is.
This is a tea I wouldn’t mind keeping around. It’ll definitely make it into a future Teavivre order!
A sample from KittyLovesTea I was intrigued by the description of this one – baked apples and brown sugar sounds divine. I’m not sure that it’s a flavoured black, though. Something makes me think that might be a natural element of the tea itself. In any case, I’m rather enjoying myself! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
The initial taste is rather strong, slightly astringent black tea. It lingers a little, but then develops into a wonderfully thick-tasting, rich baked apple flavour. There’s a sweetness right at the end of the sip that’s perfectly reminiscent of brown sugar. I noticed the flavour progression mostly in the early sips, but towards the end of my cup I think I must have developed palate fatigue. Either that, or the flavour diminishes as this one starts to cool. The last few dregs are just strong black tea. I’m not complaining, though. Hot and fresh, this one makes for a tasty treat. Even as a plain black, it would be strong enough to wake me up on a morning!
I’m glad to have had the opportunity to try this one. I probably wouldn’t seek it out, because there are plenty of strong black/flavoured black teas that I like just as much, but it’s definitely worth a try for the apple/sugar aspect alone.
A sample from KittyLovesTea. Like many others on here, I’m not quite sure what to make of this one. I read through a couple of notes after drinking my first cup, because I was certain there must have been some mistake. Either that, or my sample must be ages old/contaminated, which I don’t expect is the case. I say all this because this one smells of paint thinner. Brewing it was actually rather off putting, and I did wonder whether it was something I should be taking a sip of. I did anyway, and it actually doesn’t taste too bad. It’s a little chemically and oddly dank tasting, but there’s a tiny hint of something vaguely resembling carrot cake in there. I think it might be the spicing that’s giving me the right sort of impression, but there’s no cake or frosting to be found. I got about half way through my cup before I dumped it. I’m not sure what’s wrong with this one, but it’s not very pleasant to drink. Life’s too short for bad tea.
A sample from Kitty Loves Tea. I’ve been curious about this one for a while. How can toast and jam be replicated in tea form? Answer: like this. As per the recommended parameters, I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees.
Hojicha isn’t always my favourite green tea, but I will admit that it works here. It provides the perfect toasted flavour; not overdone or burnt in any way, just perfectly golden toasted. The initial flavour is all sweet strawberry jam, though, and it’s utterly delicious. The hibiscus and strawberry pieces capture the tart/sugary/fruity balance perfectly, and then the hojicha base ushers in the crisp toast underneath.
I’m actually quite amazed that a tea can capture a food taste so well. It’s a pretty rare thing in flavoured tea, I think, unless I’ve just been unlucky with the ones I’ve tried. From what I’ve experienced so far, it seems that Tea Horse produced some unique and imaginative blends that were well executed to boot. It saddens me that they disappeared from the tea world after such a short time. Worth a try, if you can get your paws on some.
From the EU TTB – Round 3
I’ve never tried white tea dragon balls before, so this was a must-experience! The compressed leaves are mostly dark brown/black, although there are a couple of silver buds evident on the surface. There are also some leaves, so I’m guessing this is a pai mu tan style white. The scent is sweet and a little malty, with a light mushroom note that reminds me of Teavivre’s Xi Gui Ancient Tree Raw Pu-erh. I’m brewing western style at work, so I used 1 ball (they are seriously large!), and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The ball is still tightly rolled, and nowhere close to unravelling.
To taste, it’s pleasantly sweet with a touch of hay and a light floral note. Pretty standard white tea, in other words. I think more steeps are required!
Second steep, and the ball is just starting to unravel a little. It’s still fairly tightly rolled, however. The liquor this time is a little darker, with an almost greenish tinge. It smells more strongly floral (peony), but tastes very similar to the first steep. Sweet, with notes of hay and a light floral.
Third steep, and it’s unravelled a little further. It’s still a ball, though, except now bits are sticking out! The liquor has retained its greenish cast, and is otherwise unchanged in flavour, although it has taken on a slight creaminess.
I’m sure this one would be good for many, many more steeps, but I’m running out of time at work. I guess I’ll have to call it a day here for now, but this is definitely one I’d be happy to try again in the future, should the opportunity arise.
From the EU TTB – Round 3
Final cup of the evening yesterday. This is an interesting blend; a sort of tropical chai. I rather like chai, so I decided it couldn’t hurt to give it a go. Warming is good on a cold night, and the tropical element might remind me of summer even though that is now a distant memory. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a pale-ish yellow, and smells deliciously of cardamom and lemon.
To taste, the main flavour is decidedly lemongrass. That surprised me a little, as I thought the selection of (rather strong) spices might have overpowered grassy, hay-like lemongrass completely. Not so. The flavour is actually quite gentle, and the sweet, lightly citrus flavour of the lemongrass is a significant player here. After the initial herbal of the lemongrass comes caradmon, a tiny bit of clove, and a warming hit of pepper. Finally, in the aftertaste, this one takes on a creaminess that I can only assume is the coconut, although I can’t really taste coconut as such. Neither can I taste pineapple, which makes me a little sad.
Drinking this one is putting me in mind of Thai food, which is pretty much always a good thing in my book. I wish I could taste more fruit, but the lemongrass/chai/cream combination is a pleasant one. It’s an interesting herbal, but I have to admit to feeling a touch underwhelmed. I’d built myself up for tropical amazingness, and it didn’t really quite deliver. It’s not a bad tea, though, and I’ve rated it accordingly.
From the EU TTB – Round 3
This was my pick for Sunday night. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, but that just goes to show how wrong I can be. The bag itself looks fairly innocuous, and smells like nothing more than a standard ceylon. How utterly deceptive! Upon adding this one to boiling water, the room fills with the scent of cantaloupe melon. Sweet, juicy, amazingness. I left it for three minutes, no additions.
The resulting liquor is quite dark, and I was a little concerned that the black base would overwhelm the melon flavouring. I needn’t have worried. In actual fact, I can’t really taste the black base at all. It’s just like drinking a cup of melon juice! I’m not getting too much in the way of honey, except perhaps a slight sweetness in the aftertaste, but that’s not a problem. With melon as flavour-accurate as this, who really needs honey anyway?
I think this one has to be tried to be believed! I’m thinking it might be good iced, and so I might keep a couple of bags back for the summer so I can give that a try.
From the EU TTB – Round 3
I guess these days you’ve got to try a Butiki where you can. I’m enjoying green tea more and more these days, so this was a sure try from the box. The leaf is a beautiful thing – hand rolled pellets that do resemble a snail’s shell, with the downy silver tip darkening to green/black on the outside. Unfurled, the leaves are bigger than I expected, and a fairly uniform medium green. This is clearly a tea that’s been prepared with love and care, and it’s a delight to see. As per the recommended parameters, I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees.
It’s gorgeous. The liquor is a medium yellow, and smells very vegetal with a hint of floral. The taste is similar. It’s quite strong initially, and a distinctive mixture of green cabbage and grass. The mid-sip introduces a smooth, silky buttery note, and it rounds off with the flavour of pine nut. It’s such a smooth (almost to the point of creamy), clean tasting green, with absolutely no bitterness or astringency. As it cools, I also pick up a burst of citrus fruitiness in the mid sip. A characterful green, and an absolute pleasure to drink. I will miss Butiki terribly, not least for their commitment to quality which is absolutely self-evident in teas like this.
From the EU TTB – Round 3
Another Tea Horse blend that I’ve been wanting to try. Finally, here’s the opportunity! As per the recommended parameters, I used 2 tsp of leaf and gave it 1 minute in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The dry leaf is a thing of beauty. Plentiful pink rose petals, whole green pistachio nuts, and the darker green tea base (composed of rolled pellets).
Brewed, the liquor is a medium yellow, and smells primarily of rose. To taste, it’s sweeter than I expected. Rose is the main flavour, but it’s almost as if it’s a sugared petal. It’s not too perfume-like, just delicately floral. The pistachio flavour is mild, and emerges mostly at the end of the sip. It adds a creamy, gentle nuttiness to the overall sip, and it works well with the lightly vegetal green base. There’s a slight astringency to this one, but it’s not overwhelming. Just a dryness at the back of the throat post-sip.
I’m not always the biggest fan of floral teas, but I liked this one a lot more than I was expecting to. It actually reminds me of Turkish Delight! Another wonderful tea, courtesy of the wonderful TTB!