1558 Tasting Notes
A sample from Miss B. I can’t believe I’m still working through the box of samples she sent me, but I am. There seems to be no end to it! This one was lurking right at the bottom, or else I’d probably have got to it a lot sooner. I also feel like my cold has cleared up enough that I can try new things again, except for a niggly slightly-sore throat that I think is going to be around for a week or so yet.
I used a generous 1 tsp of leaf for this cup, and gave it around 4 minutes in boiling water. When I returned to the kitchen, it had filled the whole room with the scent of chocolate cake. Looks like I’m going to be popular at work today! I added a splash of milk.
The first sip tells me that the taste more than lives up to the scent. It’s very chocolatey straight away, with vanilla/cream notes in the mid-sip and a deliciously cookie/fudge finish. I’m guessing it’s the dates that are responsible for that – they’re rich and slightly sticky, and I can sort-of pick them out in the aftertaste. I love dates, though, so I’ve no problem with that.
Taken as a whole, this tea does remind me of oreo cookies. The initial sip is a lot more like chocolate cake than anything else, but it comes together remarkably well and by the end of the sip it’s definitely “biscuit” rather than “cake”. I appreciate that it doesn’t taste watered down in the way that some chocolate teas can – it’s not like hot chocolate with too much water added, and that’s always a bonus.
I actually have some cookies to eat with this one – not oreo because I’m on the gluten free these days and I can’t have those anymore. They are triple chocolate, though, and rather delicious, so I’m going to sit and eat those with my cookie tea and pretend I’m not at work for a while. It’s a plan.
I know for a fact that I’ve drank this one more than once, so it was a bit of a surprise to find that I’ve only logged one tasting note. I guess it could be accurate, but there’s a little niggle at the back of my mind that doesn’t quite believe it. Anyway, I’m drinking this one today because I’ve still got a cold and it’s FAMILIAR. I don’t need to be able to taste everything to feel like I’m doing it justice, and it’s not my last one. It’s tea I can drink and enjoy drinking, and I can reinfuse it throughout the day so it’s a winner all the way. We also just found out that one of our work colleagues died overnight, so I was also looking for something comforting. This one ticks a lot of boxes for me.
I used one tuocha and gave it a 1 minute rinse in boiling water. My first steep was then for 30 seconds in boiling water, no additions. The resulting liquor is a medium red-brown, and the scent is rich and earthy. When I first started drinking pu’erh, that earthiness was something that really put me off. Now, it’s one of the things I love most about it. To taste, I’m reminded mostly of warm compost. The earthiness here is very “natural” in the best way possible – it reminds me of freshly ploughed sun-warmed fields, the forest floor after a heavy rain storm, damp animal fur. It’s rich and supremely earthy.
Second steep also for 30 seconds in boiling water. This time, the liquor is a much deeper red-brown, actually almost black. The scent is again deeply earthy. The flavour this time has the same compost-like earthiness, but it’s stronger than the first steep. There are also hints of leather.
Third steep for 30 seconds in boiling water. The liquor is pretty much identical to the second steep; a mahogany red-brown that’s really almost black. The flavour this time is mostly unchanged. It’s perhaps a little less intense, but there’s still the dominant flavour of compost and background notes of leather. There’s also a burgeoning sweetness towards the end of the sip that reminds me a little of honey.
Fourth steep for 40 seconds, and the liquor is a little lighter this time. Still red-brown, but without the blackish tint of the previous two infusions. The flavour is less pungent this time, too. There’s still compost (I think maybe always, in the case of this tea), but the leather has disappeared and the honey is a touch stronger. The overall level of sweetness is higher than in previous infusions, too.
I’m sure this one has the potential for a good few more infusions, but I’m stopping here purely because I’m running out of time at work and I don’t typically keep leaves overnight. My throat is also telling me it’s time for more lemsip – when you look forward to that, you know you’ve got it bad.
So the cold I thought I’d got rid of came back for a second swipe, and this time it’s a fair bit worse than it was originally. Yesterday I had a conference at work between 11.30 and 4.45 (with only a 10 minute tea break and no lunch), so I drank virtually nothing all day and unsurprisingly felt like crap when I got home. After a shower, which made me feel at least 1/4 human again, I made up a cup of this one. On its own it restored another 50% – the rest won’t come back until I finally shake this off.
I don’t usually drink my “better” teas when I’m sick because often there’s just no point. I found that I could taste this, though, maybe because the chocolate and fruit notes are so strong, or because it’s so thickly malty. Either way, it was A-MA-ZING. I’ve gone into the specific taste of this one a couple of times before (once very recently) so I won’t do it again here. The point of this note is purely to say “I drank this one and it rocked” and the fact that I felt better as a result is just a happy bonus.
This has to be one of the oldest teas in my cupboard? Fortunately, it’s stored in a tin that’s pretty airtight, and then in a box, so it doesn’t seem to have deteriorated much (if at all, really) in the 2+ years I’ve owned it. I revisit this one periodically, and I’ve found it interesting to track how my impression of it has changed. Today’s cup has the same citrus fruit “somewhere in the middle of lemon/orange” (i.e. yuzu!) flavour it always has, but I don’t find it as bitter as I used to. There’s a strong pithy flavour towards the end of the sip, and a pepperiness in the mid-sip that I’ve not really noticed before. It really reminds me of crushed black pepper and lemon rind, and in that respect it’s quite a savoury tea. The green tea base carries that a bit further – it’s reminiscent of seaweed and saltwater, so definitely on the “marine” side.
I’m actually enjoying this more than I ever have before – having greater tea experience has definitely improved my appreciation of this one! I’m going to try and finish it off soon mostly because it’s pretty old and I feel bad that it’s still hanging around in my cupboard. It could be a candidate for a future repurchase, though, if I ever get to a stage where I can really consider buying tea in larger quantities.
It was good to come back to this one today. I’ve increased my rating a little to reflect my new-found enjoyment.
1 tsp, 2m30s, 180 water. No additions.
It looks like winter has returned, which is disconcerting because last week it was hot and sunny and my mind had turned to cold brews. Not so this week – it’s actually snowing. Not heavily, but small showers on and off. Needless to say, I’ve gone back to my warming winter teas.
I had a cup of this one yesterday that I really enjoyed. I used 1 tsp of leaf in boiling water for about 2 minutes, no more. No additions. I pretty much always get root beer from this one, in a slightly woody, medicinal way, but yesterday I actually got root beer float – a delicious thick, creamy, sweet vanilla flavour (totally reminiscent of melted vanilla ice cream). That made my day, because my previous trials with this reblend pouch haven’t lived up to my memory of the 12 Teas of Christmas version I originally tried. That was spot on delicious.
Anyway, today I decided to try the other end of the spectrum. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, and gave it more like 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a few pieces of crystal sugar and a splash of milk. It’s so good. The initial flavour is vanilla (ice cream!), quite sweet but that’s okay. Underneath is the root beer – herbal, a little chicory-like, a touch woody. Interestingly, it seems to be the reverse of yesterday’s “lighter” version, which had the root beer first and the vanilla second to my tastes. Both were excellent.
It’s good to know that I can make this up two ways and get a great taste from either. I felt like I was foundering with this one a little, but I finally discovered what works. Now I just have to replicate it for future cups! It’s fussier than I remember the 12 Teas of Christmas version being, but I don’t mind so much when it can taste this good.
Maybe when summer finally returns, I’ll try this cold brewed. Sadly, I can only dream of that today!
Sipdown! I’ve had a reasonably bad cold since Thursday evening, so I’ve mostly been drinking comforting teas that I’m familiar with. There’s no point trying something new when I can’t taste it, after all. I’ve enjoyed this one, both with and without milk. It’s super smooth, with prominent chai spices and delicious creamy vanilla caramel. I’ll miss this one.
1 tsp, 2.5 minutes, boiling water. No additions.
Sipdown! Another sad departure from my cupboard. I love how smooth this one is, and how the squashy flavour of pumpkin comes out so well. The spicing is spot-on, too – not so subtle it’s hard to discern, but not overpowering either. I even like the bat and pumpkin sprinkles for that touch of Halloween spirit. I just can’t fault this one – as a spiced pumpkin tea, it’s perfect. I’m looking forward to autumn in the hope that I can add this one to my cupboard once again.
It’s so warm in my office (not to mention outside) that I’m starting to wish I’d brought cold brewed tea to work with me this week. I hesitate because sometimes it’s so cold on a morning that it doesn’t seem sensible, but then that turns into a day like today and I’m stumped. Hot office, hot drinks, sad face.
I did the next best thing and made up a cup of this one. Mint sounded the most cooling and refreshing thing out of the choices available, and spearmint is always a favourite with me. Having said that, it’s been a long old time since I last drank this one. Clearly mint isn’t as appealing during the winter!
As ever, this is sweet from the spearmint and cooling on the palate, with just the tiniest bite from the green tea base. I’d happily cold brew this one, and must remind myself to do so once I actually start preparing cold tea for work. It won’t be long now, based on today’s weather!
Pretty much the perfect tea for today’s situation. I like that there’s a tea for every occasion, and that mint can be cooling even when it’s hot. Oh, the paradoxes.
1 tsp, 2 minutes, 175. No additions.
I brought this one out again today, simply because it’s so warm out and I was looking for more summer-like flavours than I feel I’ve been drinking recently. I actually had a better cup than last time, and I’m not really sure why. I always use 1 tsp of leaf, measured with the same spoon, I cool the water and it gets the same brew time. Something must have varied fractionally, but it meant that I got a pleasant, sweet tasting cup of apricot and plum. I only wish I could replicate it every time!