1617 Tasting Notes
Today’s Assam of choice from my remaining Golden Tips samples. This one is a second flush assam, picked on 27th June 2014. It’s a single-estate variety, from Mankota. Looking at the dry leaf, I’d say it’s about two thirds black-brown leaves, reasonably thin and twisty, and a third golden leaves. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
To taste, this is a fairly ordinary assam. It’s malty, for sure, but not as malty as some I’ve tried. It’s delicately sweet, with a grain-like flavour lurking in the background. There’s just the slightest hint of molasses, but it’s not strong or particularly defining. It’s a very smooth cup, for the most part, although a little tannic towards the end of the sip.
This makes for a solid, everyday kind of assam. It’s not particularly unique, I don’t think, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s tasty, if a little forgettable.
I’m half way through my Golden Tips samples now! While I love Assam, I’m trying to space them out between other teas as I try each one for the first time, so that I can get an accurate impression of the flavour, rather than just a comparison to the one I drank previously.
This is a second flush assam, harvested in June 2014. There looks to be about a 50/50 split between wiry, black-brown leaves and slightly downy golden leaves. There are also some golden tipped leaves. The scent is malty, maybe a little woody. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
The one thing the scent and appearance didn’t prepare me for at all was the flavour! Usually it’s possible to get a rough idea, but this tea was a complete dark horse. From my observations of the dry and brewing leaf, I was expecting a fairly generic assam, strong and malty but perhaps not with many distinguishing features that would really mark it out. I was totally wrong. The mild chocolate and smooth caramel notes are obvious from the very first sip. They’re not strong, in your face flavours, but they’re definitely what this tea tastes of. The ubiquitous maltiness emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a sweetness that helps to define the chocolatiness still further. There’s a light woodiness towards the end of the sip, so I wasn’t completely wrong, but it’s not at all the defining flavour of the cup. I’m pleased also with how smooth this assam is; there’s no hint of astringency, and neither is it particularly tannic. Just perfect for my tastes, then!
This is a tea I’d repurchase, if only for it’s beautiful chocolate and caramel notes. It’s certainly an assam like few others I’ve tried.
I’ve had this one in my stash for a while. I only managed to place one order with RiverTea before they closed, and since then I think I’ve been hanging on to the ones I do have without really considering why. It’s time to drink up. Today’s a really warm summer’s day here, so a tropical-style blend was most appealing. I used tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium red-orange, fairly typical of rooibos blends.
The first thing that strikes me about this one is how nice it smells while brewing. Pineapples and cream! It’s really putting me in mind of a pina colada, or some kind of floating island dessert, maybe. This tea is described as a pineapple vanilla blend, but it also contains papaya, mango and coconut in addition to pineapple, and a whole host of floral additives – rose petals, sunflower blossoms, jasmine, conflower petals, and safflowers. It makes the dry leaf look pretty, for sure – blue, yellow, red and pink petals scattered amongst the darker red-brown of the rooibos, and the yellow-gold of the pineapple chunks.
To taste, this is (thankfully) predominantly pineapple. I can also taste a hint of coconut towards the end of the sip, which rounds things off an a pleasantly tropical note. There’s a whole ton of creaminess in the mid-sip – it’s really quite startling given that vanilla is the only thing here that can really be causing that, and it’s quite far down the list of ingredients. It’s a truly delicious thing. As my cup cools, a hint of the floral emerges in the aftertaste. It’s not too heavy or cloying, though, so that’s fine with me.
I can see this working really well as a cold brew, so I’ll probably try that next. I’m back to work next week, so it can come along with me and brighten up my days a little. I think I’ve realised now why I started to hoard River Tea blends once I heard they’d closed – every time I drink a cup, I’m reminded what a loss their closure is to the tea world. I can only imagine what they might have gone on to blend.
This is the only oolong I picked up with my Luhse order, but I’ve had so few plum teas that the sheer novelty of it appealed to me more than anything. The dry mix is quite chunky – equal parts oolong (black, think, reasonably wiry leaves, so I’m fairly confident that it’s a roasted wuyi or something along those lines) and schizandre berries (which look to me like rosehip). The scent is beautiful; fruity, ripe plum. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale golden colour.
To taste, it’s absolutely wonderful. Light, refreshing, and beautifully fruity. It’s just like biting into a ripe plum — so much so that I could probably mistake it for plum juice if it weren’t hot. It’s incredibly sweet and juicy, although also very natural tasting. The oolong base is hardly present in the taste, except perhaps for a slight mineral flavour in the aftertaste. This is a good thing in my book, as strong dark oolongs aren’t typically my thing. At least, they haven’t been historically. I do try and return to tea varieties I’ve more or less ruled out from time to time, though, as I’m aware my tastes are changing as I become more familiar with tea.
Although this is something I’d never have said at one point, I can safely say that this is an oolong I’d gladly repurchase. It’s so flavourful and fruity, it more than deserves a place in my cupboard. It’s truly delicious stuff! If you’re a fan of plum teas, be sure to give this one a try!
This is the last of my Luhse rooibos samples, and my favourite of the four I’ve tried. For starters, it’s the best tasting chocolate banana tea I’ve tried in a good long time. It tastes delicious! This is just a straight rooibos blens – no honeybush here – and I honestly think that’s how I prefer it. Small pieces of freeze dried banana (and apple, strangely) are evident among the dry leaf, along with some chocolate flakes, cocoa nibs, and a generous smattering of whole pink peppercorns. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.
To taste, banana is the most prominent flavour. It’s a little candy-like in the way of banana runts, but that’s no terrible thing in a sweet, dessert style blend like this one. The chocolate emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a creamy, rich depth to the overall cup. It works really well with the banana – a great, well realised combination if ever there was one. There’s a slight saltiness towards the end of the sip that’s a little out of place, but I can overlook that since the rest of the flavour is so spot on. It’s barely there, anyway.
This is a Luhse rooibos blens I’d consider repurchasing. It’s tasty and flavour-accurate, and that’s exactly what I want from a flavoured tea. It’s nice to have a sweet, decedent caffeine-free blend on hand, too. I finally feel like I’ve struck gold with Luhse!
For a tea with “cherries” in the name, this blend lacks anything remotely resembling, well, cherries. It’s a rooibos-honeybush blend, with blackcurrants, small pieces of which are evident among the dry mix. The scent is pretty much 100% rooibos, with only the tiniest hint of berry fruit of any description. Hmm. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in boiling water for my cup. No additions.
To taste, this is (as you might expect) mostly rooibos, underscored with the honey-like sweetness of honeybush. It’s a little woodsy and drying on the palate. There is an underlying flavour, but it reminds me more of cough syrup than anything else. It’s certainly not cherry, or even blackcurrant, sad to say. I’m not particularly struck by it.
I think perhaps Luhse’s rooibos blends aren’t for me. I have one or two more to try before I strike them off my “to try” list completely, though — I’m ever hopeful! I’ll be moving on to the black tea samples I picked up soom, and hopefully they’ll be more to my liking.
Another sample from my recent Luhse order, this one an orange flavoured rooibos. The rooibos is very fine here, but interspersed with somewhat “chunkier” honeybush leaves. They’re not particularly huge in real terms, but they do stand out when compared to the almost powder-like rooibos. Scattered throughout are red safflowers, and a generous smattering of orange peel. There’s apparently hibiscus in this, but I can’t see any and it’s certainly not detectable in the liquor colour, which is a medium red-orange. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.
To taste, this is a fairly ordinary orange rooibos, no better or worse than any I’ve tried before. The orange flavour is clear – perhaps a little artificial in the way of orange squash, but definitely identifiable. It fades by mid-sip, though, and gives way completely to the woodsiness of rooibos. That’s a little disappointing, but it’s still a pleasant enough cup so I can’t complain too much. It’s just not really very memorable. It’s a little drying and astringent by the end of the cup, to boot.
This isn’t my favourite of the Luhse teas I’ve tried so far, but I’ve got plenty of others to be getting on with. Still, this kind of discovery is the whole point of samples! Oh, well. On to the next one!
I’ve had this one in my stash for a while, and I’ve drank it before, but for some reason I’ve never got around to writing a note about it. Now is the time! River Tea have gone the way of the dodo, sadly, and this perhaps isn’t the tea to remember them by. It’s very tart, although I can taste raspberry very clearly. The raspberry is completely natural-tasting, too, and almost exactly like eating actual raspberries. Sweet, sharp, sour, and intensely fruity. The pomegranate is less of a feature, although it’s there in the background. It helps with the sweetness a bit, although it doesn’t contribute massively to the flavour otherwise. The main player here, though, is hibiscus. The liquor has that tell-tale bright red-pink colour, and it’s noticeable as soon as you take a sip. It’s very tart; tarter than any raspberry has a right to be, and it takes the sourness just a notch too far.
I used 2 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The leaf is as per the recommended parameters, but I gave it less time (6-10 minutes is the suggestion). It’s by no means a bad tea, but it’s not a very subtle one. I can’t help but think that it could only have been improved by the removal of the hibiscus. With the already tart/sharp/sour raspberry, it’s sadly just a step too far.
Another Luhse sample from my recent order. Nice Coconuts is a white blend, flavoured with coconut. The dry leaf smells amazing – strongly of coconut, with an undertone of creaminess, and a hint of something almost rum-like. Alcoholic, at the very least. The dry leaf looks to be a mixture of silver needles, which are white and downy, and white peony, which is blackish-brown in appearance and not particularly fresh looking. There’s a predominance of broken leaves and twigs. Scattered throughout are red safflower and blue cornflower petals, and a smattering of dried coconut shreds. There’s enough leaf in the pouch for about two cups, although if your cup is larger than average you might want to use the whole sample (about 3 tsp), as per the recommended parameters. My cup is on the smaller side, so I went with 1.5tsp of leaf, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green; the scent mildly coconutty with a floral undertone.
To taste, this one is deceptive! I wasn’t convinced at all by the scent of the brewed liquor, but it’s actually very pleasant. The initial sip is all coconut cream; sweet, tropical amazingness! It has remarkable depth of flavour, with just a hint of rum rolling around the mid-sip, and an almost thick mouthfeel. It’s like a decadent dessert – rum babas, maybe, with a side of coconut ice cream. It’s possible to taste a little of the white tea towards the end of the sip, although it’s by no means prominent. Just an edge of floral, hay-like sweetness. Mostly, the white tea seems to contribute most towards the mouthfeel, and doesn’t at all overpower the sometimes-delicate flavour of coconut. This really is a delicious, summery cup. I’m impressed with this blend, and it’s definitely one I’d consider repurchasing in the future.
I ordered a bunch of samples from Luhse a while back, because I’d long been curious about the company and their tea. Their branding is fairly unique – I like the 20s, prohibition theme, and the use of characters to give their teas a backstory. It’s definitely different! The samples contain enough tea for 2-3 cups, depending on leaf type, and are packaged in square foli-lined pouches with a brown, Kraft paper exterior. They’re not resealable, but as they’re so tiny that’s not really a problem.
Getting Lei’d is a green blend with pineapple flavouring. I love pineapple, so I pretty much had to give this one a try. The tea leaves are a fairly uniform dark green, folded and flat, but fairly small. I’d say Sencha, as an educated guess. There are blue cornflower and red safflower petals scattered throughout, which gives this blend a really pretty appearance, and one or two chunks of freeze-dried pineapple. The scent is beautifully tropical, with strong notes of pineapple. I have high hopes for this one!
As per the recommended parameters, I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green, and the scent is faintly tropical. Unfortunately, faint is probably the operative word as far as this tea is concerned. The pineapple flavouring is just about discernible, but sadly nowhere near as strong as I’d like. Saying that, I can taste it throughout the sip, and it’s obvious what it is, so they’re both points in its favour. I can also taste the green tea base, which is a touch floral and a touch grassy – it suits the image of the Lei in that respect! There’s no bitterness or astringency here, which are also favourable points. I’m just left feeling that I’d like a lot more punchiness, and I’m a little underwhelmed by this one as a whole. This is a pleasant tea, and while I wouldn’t turn down the occasional cup, it’s not one I’d look to repurchase in quantity.