1657 Tasting Notes
Today I’m moving on to my Luhse white tea samples, and I decided to go with the plain one first – Boo. Boo looks to be a blend of silver needle and white peony; predominantly more white peony than silver needle. Most of the leaves are black or dark brown, and fairly twisted, but there are some that are silvery-white or slightly yellowy. It’s not the best looking white tea I’ve ever seen, but it does put me in mind of a dark, rickety haunted house. If we’re going with a ghostly, halloweeny theme, then it kinda fits. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The resulting liquor is a very pale golden colour, but the scent is sadly not that appealing. It smells a little like a ripe pu’erh, strangely.
Sadly, I’m not especially struck by the flavour either. There are elements that remind me of white tea – a mild, orchid-like floral, a touch of grass and hay. These are somewhat offset by an undertone of what I can only describe as manure. Not really strong manure, like some pu’erhs, but strong enough to be distracting. It’s an odd combination.
I had hoped that I’d enjoy this one, but I suppose you can’t win them all. I don’t tend to drink too many plain white teas these days, so it’s not a terrible loss, but I’m a little disappointed all the same. Perhaps Luhse’s flavoured blacks are the only thing for me.
Today’s cold brew. I used 2 tbsp of leaf to 2 litres of water, and left it in the fridge for around 10 hours overnight. The resulting brew is a deceptively pale golden colour, and at first I worried that it would be too weak. Not so – the amount of flavour in this one is completely at odds with the colour. It’s delicious! The first flavour I can detect is vanilla, and it’s sweet and creamy – a lovely opening sip! This is followed fairly closely by the slightly tart, almost jammy flavour of rhubarb (which is more immediately identifiable, somehow than it was when I drank it hot earlier this week and thought initially that it was raspberry.) The hops are again less prominent than they were in the hot cup, but they add a slightly bittersweet, mildly floral, note to the end of the sip that stops the vanilla and rhubarb becoming overpoweringly cloying. It’s a great combination.
The only thing I’ve got to decide now is whether to finish my bag of this tea off with another cold brew, or whether to save it for hot cups. Decisions, decisions!
This is the one of two green tea samples I picked up from Luhse – the other was Getting Lei’d. Marrakesh Fresh is basically a Marrakesh mint blend (no surprises there!) It’s a blend of peppermint, spearmint and gunpowder green, although looking at the dry leaf, there’s actually very little green tea to be seen. It’s certainly fresh, though – the scent is one of the best things (both dry and once brewed). Minty and delicious. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green.
To taste, it’s as good as the name suggests. The mint is sweet and fresh tasting, with the strong cooling sensation that’s so nice about mint tea in hot weather. The green tea base is fairly smooth, with only the slightest hint of astringency, and a touch of dankness in the flavour. I could probably stand to drink this one with a bit of sugar – that might just give it the edge I’m looking for.
I’m pretty happy with this one, although it’s not a great deal better or worse than any other Marrakesh mint blend I’ve tried. It’s probably not unique enough for me to want to repurchase, but I’ll happily finish up my sample. A pleasant cup on a hot day.
Continuing the Luhse theme today, I also have a sample of their Earl Grey to try. The blend consists of black tea (quite thick, twisted leaves of a uniform black colour), blue mallow blossoms and bergamot. The scent of the dry leaf is very strongly citrusy, which can only be the bergamot. Very strong Earl Grey with a lot of bitter bergamot doesn’t greatly appeal to me, so I’m a little concerned about this one. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, and I added a splash of milk.
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about the bergamot being too strong. To taste, it’s actually a pleasant balance between sweet, malty black tea and bittersweet, citrusy bergamot. It’s a tiny bit perfumey, but not terribly so. I think the milk has helped to calm this one down a bit, but I like the creaminess it adds even if it’s not the recommended way to drink Earl Grey. In any case, it’s deliciously smooth and well flavoured – one of the nicer Earl Greys I’ve tried in a while. I’d consider restocking this one.
The second of the Luhse flavoured blends I picked up with my recent order. Based on my favourable impression of Chocolate Boozer, I decided to make an evening of it and went straight on to Dorian Grey. Dorian Grey is an Earl Grey Cream, and it smells delicious from the moment I open the bag. Sweet, rich, and gloriously decadent. It’s a fairly unassuming blend to look at – just fairly small, uniform black-brown leaves. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up pretty strong, so I added a splash of milk.
To taste, this is one of the creamiest Earl Grey Cream blends I’ve tried. The initial sip is full-on vanilla; sweet and rich, with an intense creaminess that reminds me very much of premium vanilla ice cream, or perhaps crème anglaise. The earl grey is very much second fiddle, but it’s possible to find the bergamot lurking in the mid sip. It’s not over-strong, which I appreciate in an Earl Grey blend, but it does manage to cut through some of the heady vanilla sweetness. It’s a pleasing, citrus-laced counterpoint, and adds a layer of depth to the flavour. The black base can hardly be tasted, but it’s smooth and unobtrusive, and it lets the flavours shine.
I’m really impressed with this one. It more than lives up to its promise, and it makes for a deliciously tasty cup. A definite repurchase.
On to the Luhse flavoured blends. I only picked up two full bags with my first order – this and Dorian Grey. I’m a fan of flavoured black tea in general, and I was pretty sure these two would suit my tastes. Thankfully, I was right. The first thing I noticed about the full bags is how unique and well thought out the branding is. Everything from the colouring (midnight blue), to the white, searchlight-like logo, through to little things like the font and bigger things like the slogans is spot-on for the 20s, prohibition-era theme. Luhse are really sorted from a brand perspective, and that’s a nice thing to see. The “story” somehow makes their blends more than just tea, and it adds a lot to the appeal, that’s for sure.
Chocolate Boozer is a chocolate and rum flavoured black blend, with absolutely huge chocolate chips scattered throughout. The black base is a mixture of CTC pellets and quite small leaves – possibly Ceylon or Assam. I was a little surprised to see the CTC, but it definitely adds body and strength to the cup without imparting a lot of overpowering flavour, so I’m not against it. Chocolate teas can sometimes seem quite thin and watery, so a stronger base perhaps isn’t a bad idea. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up quite dark (no doubt thanks to the CTC), so I added a splash of milk.
To taste, this is almost how I imagined it would be. I’ve learned to be cautious in my expectations where chocolate tea is concerned, so perhaps that helped a little. The chocolate is rich and sweet, with a hint of bittersweet dustiness in the background – a taste I associate with cocoa. The stronger flavour by far is the rum, which adds a heady tang that works really well with the chocolate – almost like an expensive truffle. It’s hard to describe rum as anything other than rum, but it’s pretty flavour accurate and adds a pleasantly boozy edge. The black base is smooth with no astringency, and carries the flavours well. It’s fairly strong and substantial so the cup isn’t at all weak, thin or watery. At the same time, it manages not to overpower what could be fairly delicate flavours. It’s a good balance.
I’m impressed with this one. It’s one of the few chocolate teas I actively like, and I would definitely consider repurchasing if I were to order again from Luhse in the future. I haven’t been particularly struck by their rooibos blends or their plain black teas, but perhaps I’ve found my nadir with their flavoured range. A wonderfully decadent cup.
Continuing with my Luhse black tea samples for my second cup of the morning. This time it’s Prohibition Tea – what I assume is another blend, although the pouch doesn’t specify any particular varieties. The dry leaf is quite small, and a fairly uniform black-brown, but with one or two golden, downy leaves scattered throughout. It smells malty, but there’s also a hint of treacle or molasses. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a deep golden brown, and I added a splash of milk.
To taste, it’s blander than I hoped. It’s moderately malty, and quite sweet, but it tastes somehow quite flat. It has a thick, almost chewy mouthfeel, but that’s not backed up with the depth of flavour I would have liked. There’s a tiny hint of treacle in the aftertaste, which works nicely with the malt, but that’s about all it has to distinguish it. I have to admit, it’s a disappointment.
First cup of the day, and the first of my Luhse black tea samples. This one is presumably a blend, although the pouch doesn’t specify exactly which types of black tea have been used. Most of the leaves are fairly small and a uniform black, but there are also some thicker, larger, twistier black leaves, and a few golden, downy leaves. The scent of the dry leaf is sweet and mildly malty. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a fairly dark golden brown, and I added a splash of milk.
To taste, the initial flavour is sweetly malty and fairly bland. I’m picking up some mildly floral, orchid-like notes in the mid sip, and a mild metallic tang that makes me fairly sure there’s some Darjeeling in here somewhere. There’s the tiniest hint of baked bread at the end of the sip. Based on the maltiness alone, I’m pretty sure there’s also Assam in this blend, and maybe a touch of Dian Hong. I’m just guessing really, though, and being guided by both the appearance of the tea and what I can taste. I like how smooth this one is – almost silky.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with this breakfast blend. It’s not hugely unique, but it makes a flavourful cup that’s not too overpowering. Great first thing, for a pleasant, gentle wake up.
Today’s cold brew. I’m still disappointed with this one – it’s just not tangy or sherbet-y enough for my liking, and nothing I do seems to change that. As a very mild lemon cold brew, it’s very refreshing. This is how I’ll be finishing the pouch – it’s good on a hot day, but just not quite as amazing as I wanted it to be.
I feel bad for not having tried this one until today. It’s been waiting hopefully in my desk drawer for a while, but I’ve just never got around to picking it up. Still, better late than never! I used 1 tsp of leaf for today’s cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown. I’m stuck by how pretty the dry leaf is – a mixture of black, twisty Keemun leaves, red safflowers, and golden-yellow hops.
The first thing to say about the taste is that I’m really impressed. There’s a strong initial hit of fruitiness, which I initially pegged as raspberry rather than rhubarb. Then comes the almost bittersweet, slightly floral complexity of the hops, rounded off beautifully by a smooth vanilla creaminess at the end of the sip. Although I thought raspberry at first, successive sips proved to me that this is actually rhubarb – it tastes sweet and almost stewed to me, like pie filling. Totally yum. It does seem to get a little bitter as it cools, but I can overlook that because it’s just so tasty.
I might try this cold-brewed towards the end of the week.