1620 Tasting Notes
A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I feel like I’ve said this a fair bit recently, but Pu’Erh is a variety of tea that’s very new to me, and which I’m still learning about. I’ve tried a good few different ones now, and some common characteristics have emerged – probably enough to know that it’ll never be my favourite type of tea, but by no means enough for me to rule it out completely. Some Pu’Erhs I’ve loved, some I’ve hated. In any case, the adventure continues!
This is the latest installment. I used one tuocha, discarded the first steep as a rinse, and then gave it approximately 3 minutes in fresh boiling water. 3 minutes sits right in the middle of the recommended parameters, so I figured it was a fair place to start. The scent is of earth with a slight hint of manure, and the resulting liquor is very dark brown (almost black), and I feared for a moment that the flavour would be far too intense for my tastes. Not so, apparently. This Pu’Erh is actually fairly mellow, with an initial soil-like earthiness (I’m thinking wet soil after a heavy rain shower), which intensifies a little towards the end of the sip and then fades away. A mild orchid note emerges in the aftertaste, lending this tea a fresh and fragrant profile. It just goes to show that a strong-looking dark liquor doesn’t necessarily equate to overpowering flavour, which was a useful lesson for me when it comes to Pu’Erh. Another small piece of my Pu’Erh fear has been dispelled! The thing I like most about this is its almost soft-tasting smoothness. It’s so silky and easy to drink – a real pleasure.
Second steep, again for 3 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is, again, a very dark (almost black) brown. While brewing, it took on a brothier scent (almost reminiscent of beef oxo, although obviously nowhere near as strong!) The underlying earth/manure scent is still present. The taste is much the same, although marginally milder – wet earth, a light orchid floral, but this time with a hint of nuttiness and a fleeting flash of caramel. The second steep is as smooth as the first, but with an even creamier mouthfeel. It’s absolutely delicious, and it’s not often you’ll hear me say that about a Pu’Erh!
Third steep, again for 3 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is a dark golden-ish brown this time, so noticeably paler than previous steeps.The scent while brewing is less pungent now as well – hardly there at all, in fact. The taste is very mellow, with hardly any earth/manure notes to be found. There’s a lot more orchid-like floral in the mid-sip, and an almost camphor like coolness in the aftertaste that I can feel at the back of my throat. An interesting progression from steeps one and two.
Fourth steep, again for 3 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is paler still at this stage, now a medium orange-brown. The scent is about level with the previous steep, barely there but still mildly earthy with a hint of manure. The taste is broadly similar to steep 3, although with stronger cooling notes. I’m thinking peppermint rather than camphor now, although very mild. The orchid note is still there in the aftertaste, although it’s fainter and less noticable overall.
Fifth steep, this time for 4 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is again noticeably paler – a medium red-orange with only mild notes of earth and no manure! The taste this time is really barely there. There’s still a coolness, although even that is less intense than previous steeps. The earth, manure and floral notes are all but gone as well, although there’s a mild nuttiness that sets this apart from just warm water. I’m impressed at how smooth this one has remained throughout all of my steeps, including this one. There’s absolutely no bitterness or astringency, even though the leaves have been dunked in boiling water for a combined total of 16 minutes.
I imagine this one could probably go on a bit longer, although I suspect it’d need much longer steeps to really eek out any flavour. This one tuocha has lasted me all day, though, so I’m happy to leave it here for now. There comes a point in the day when I really just want to drink something different, anyway! I’m impressed with this one, though. It’s a great quality tea, and the resteeps make it excellent value. There are very few Pu’Erhs that I can say outright that I enjoyed drinking, but this is one of them! Another excellent offering from Teavivre.
It’s not quite the Summer Solstice yet, but the weather is definitely getting warmer! Perhaps that’s why this particular blend really spoke to me today. It’s hard to tell from the description exactly what you’re going to get, so I jumped right in and brewed up a cup. The first thing of note is the size of the fruit pieces contained in this blend. There are whole raspberries, generous slices of freeze-dried strawberry, and large pieces of apple, pineapple and papaya (about 1 inch square.) There are smaller pieces of hibiscus, small flakes of nettle leaves, and a scattering of sunflower blossoms. The blend as a whole is bright and colourful – very summery-looking. It smells quite rich and fruity, rather in the manner of fruit cake.
I used approximately 2 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. It’s by no means easy to measure, due to the large leaf size, but I did my best! The resulting liquor is golden brown, and the scent is mildly fruity – I’m picking up blackberry and coconut primarily.
To taste, the raspberry and strawberry are a lot more prominent than I thought they might be. They’re juicy and natural-tasting, sweet initially and then a little tart. The more “tropical” flavours develop in the mid-sip; a lot of coconut, a hint of pineapple, and a slight pepperiness from the papaya. It’s a slightly odd combination, like two halves of two different teas have been unexpectedly brought together. It’s not unpleasant, but the transition from summer berries to tropical fruit is a little jarring. The fruit flavours linger well into the aftertaste, and I can detect a splash of blackberry at this point. It’s tart and a little sour, but again incredibly juicy, and I could see this working well with the initial strawberry/raspberry combination. Somehow, though, it’s not quite what I wanted after the tropical explosion that preceded it.
You can see my full review at: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/04/22/summer-solstice-herbal-tea-tealux/
A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I’m not the biggest fan of Pu’Erh, but I’m learning to tolerate/appreciate it as I continue exploring. These bags are certainly a convenient way of preparing pu’erh, which I usually brew western-style at work anyway. I used 1 bag (which looks to contain a generous 1 tsp of leaf) and gave it 1.5 minutes in boiling water. The guidelines specify between 2 and 9 minutes, but I’m afraid I’m just not that brave! The resulting liquor is a deep, dark brown (almost black), and smells (characteristically) of horse manure and earth.
To taste, it’s not as pungent as the scent would suggest. It’s definitely VERY earthy, but in a warm compost sort of way which is actually quite pleasant. It’s very spring-like and naturally wholesome in flavour, without the heavy, cloying notes that some Pu’Erhs possess. It’s also smooth, with no astringency whatsoever.
The scent is probably the most off-putting thing for me, but once I get past that I can actually find it in myself to enjoy a cup of Pu’Erh, particularly when the flavour is as clean and light as this. The very end of the sip verges on the almost-fecal, but it’s not a flavour that’s present throughout, and thankfully it doesn’t linger long.
I’m pretty convinced that Pu’Erh is never going to be 100% my thing. I think I have too much of a sweet tooth for that! I can happily drink the occasional cup, though, and this one is a good choice for those moments. Convenient to brew, not too strong, and lacking most of the more unsavoury flavours Pu’Erh can have. This would be a good introductory choice for those new to the variety, and those who are just plain scared (like I was!)
A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I’m making up for lost time with these samples today! I have tried this one before as part of a swap, and I remember really enjoying it. This cup is a little different from my recollection, with a slightly different flavour profile, but if anything it’s even better than I remembered! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a deep golden brown. The leaf smells strongly wine-like as it infuses, and reminds me more of a darjeeling than anything else.
To taste, the wine notes are still fairly prominent. There’s something almost muscatel and grapey about the initial sip that’s actually very appealing. Given that I rather like darjeeling, that’s probably no surprise. I can also detect a sweet maltiness, and then a hint of leather in the mid-sip. It’s an interesting pairing with the initial wine notes – this cup is rather putting me in mind of a gentleman’s club! There’s the tiniest hint of smoke in the aftertaste, and then a light yeastiness rounds off the sip.
I really enjoyed this one, and it’s definitely a tea I’ll look to keep around once my current stash is a little more under control. It’s a very satisfying, flavoursome black tea, and another winner from Teavivre!
A sample from Angel at Teavivre, and fairly long overdue thanks to various winter illnesses. Apologies, Angel! I’m glad I reserved this one until I was feeling better, though, because it’s clearly a tea to be savoured. The dry leaf is thin and wiry, and the scent is beautiful; cocoa, grain and honey! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, and smells deliciously chocolatey.
To taste, I can immediately detect cocoa, which quite dry and almost powdery, and sweet malt which lingers beautifully. The mid-sip contains a hint of smoke, almost like burnt toast, but it’s by no means overwhelming. There’s also a touch of syrupy sweetness reminiscent of sugarcane. The flavours are quite heavy and “dark” tasting, but the tea itself is smooth and very easy to drink for the most part. A tiny bit of astringency creeps in as the cup stars to cool, but it remains entirely peripheral so it’s not too much of a bother. The flavours linger long in the aftertaste, which is very pleasant, and as they mellow out it’s possible to find the honey and a light floral reminiscent of orchid. It’s completely delicious!
I can see why Angel included this as part of a winter tea tasting pack. It would be the perfect warming cup on a cold, dark day. It’s equally pleasant on a cool, crisp spring day, though, and in actual fact it’s a tea I could happily drink all year round. Definitely one I’ll stock up on once I’ve finished my samples!
Another of my last few Della Terra blends, this time slightly more recent (Feb 2014, I believe). This was was also stored unopened, so it’s kept really well. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The liquor is a medium yellow-green, and smells delightfully of strawberries!
To taste, this is pretty nice. The strawberry flavour is front and centre, but it’s quite candy-like and not entirely natural-tasting. The cream flavouring adds a wonderful silky smoothness, and the whole thing tastes pretty much like one of those strawberry Campino sweets I used to have when I was young. The green tea base is smooth and fairly unobtrusive, although it’s possible to detect little flashes of grassiness at times, especially as the cup cools. They don’t work super well with the strawberry/cream dynamic, but thankfully they’re not too distracting.
I can see why this one was released as a Valentine’s blend. It’s sweet and delicious, and it tastes lovely to boot. The little hearts on the label are a cute touch. I’ll not have any trouble finishing off my sample pouch. It’s pretty perfect for summer!
This is one of the last Della Terra blends I have left over from my Autumn 2013 order – kind of old now, but it’s been unopened so it’s come to no harm. The dry leaf smells intensely sweet and fruity, and I’m reminded of tropical fruit cordial. I’m not really acquainted with persimmons, but this to me seems like a cross between mango and pineapple. Not quite what I was expecting, but juicy, fruity and enticing all the same. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for this cup (my first cup with 1 tsp turned out a little weak). No additions.
To taste, this one is pretty much as it’s scent suggests. It’s very sweet, and has a fairly generic, juicy “tropical fruit” flavour. I’d say mango and pineapple if pressed, in a rather candy-like, artificial sort of way. I’m not really sure that it’s persimmon, but my limited acquaintance might be at fault there. It’s refreshing and very juicy-tasting, though, so it’s hard to pick faults. The rooibos doesn’t make much of an impression on the overall flavour, either, so that’s another point in its favour.
This one’s easy enough to drink, and I can imagine it making a good cold brew. It’s not especially distinctive in the way I’d hoped it would be, but it’s pleasant nonetheless. A tropical treat!
A sample from Angel at Teavivre, and a long overdue tasting due to various winter illnesses. At least now I’m fully recovered and able to appreciate tea once again! I used 1 tsp of leaf for today’s cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.
The liquor is a medium brown with a reddish cast, which I suppose is par for the course with a western style brewing. The scent is baked bread with a hint of chocolate -absolutely delicious, and so enticing. I was a little surprised by my initial sip, which held more sourness than I was expecting. It reminds me a little of sourdough, actually, and complements the baked bread note that’s also detectable. The mid-sip is where the chocolate lives, and it’s a bittersweet, high-cacao sort of chocolate flavour. There’s a strong kick of malt here, too, which helps to sweeten things up a little. The maltiness lingers into the aftertaste, where it’s joined by a light grain flavor. My overall impression is of a full-bodied, bittersweet tea with strong bread and chocolate notes – cups like this remind me of how I came to love Chinese black teas so much! There’s so much depth and flavour here, it’s impossible to be disappointed.
Yesterday’s cup of this tea was brewed similarly – 1 tsp of leaf for around 4 minutes in boiling water – the exception being that I added milk. Based on today’s cup, I can safely say that milk isn’t required – it’s such a smooth tea, with no astringency whatsoever. It does change the flavour profile a little, though.
With milk, this makes for an equally wonderful cup. The initial sip holds the same bread and chocolate notes, but they’re rounded and smoother. The malt is more prominent in the mid-sip; this and the creaminess of the milk make this into a slightly sweeter cup, with the chocolate coming across more as a high quality milk, rather than the darker, more intense chocolate of the cup left black. There’s also a light smokiness in the aftertaste that helps to replace some of the depth that the milk erased.
I’m happy to drink this one either way, as both work equally well. Milk isn’t required by any means, and possibly it’s a little surplus, but it makes for a sweeter, creamier cup and sometimes that suits my mood. Today’s black cup is just as fulfilling, though, proving that this is a versatile and forgiving tea with plenty of flavour to go around. I’d recommend this to anyone, and it’s certainly one I’ll look to repurchase in future!
A Cara McGee Sherlock fandom blend, and the only white tea in the range. The leaf of this one is particularly pretty to look at, with the downy white Snowbud buds, the odd brown leaf, whole yellow chamomile flowers, red cherry pieces, and a scattering of burgundy hibiscus and rosehip. The dry leaf smells mildly fruity and a little herbal. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a rather unusual grey, the scent sweet and primarily chamomile.
To taste, this somehow isn’t quite the blend I expected. The white tea is most prominent in the flavour, and it’s quite floral and a little dusty-tasting. It’s also quite drying on the palate. The chamomile emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a honey-like sweetness to the cup. It’s actually not a huge improvement, because it now tastes like sweet floral dust. The cherry emerges only towards the very end of the sip, and adds another layer of sweetness. I had hoped that the fruitiness would rescue this one, but it really just tips what was already a sweet tea into the “unbearably cloying” category. Sadly, there isn’t much in the way of cherry to be discerned, and the overall cup tastes mostly like warm sugar-water to me.
Sadly, this one is a disappointment to me. It comes as a surprise, because I’m usually a fan of white tea. I also know Adagio’s Dewy Cherry blend to be a wonderfully fruity concoction – sweet, yes, but with strong, natural tasting cherry to boot. For some reason, it just doesn’t work here. Perhaps the chamomile isn’t the best partner – it’s just too sweet when added to the already-sweet white base.
Although the taste of this blend isn’t for me, there are aspects of it that do suit Molly’s character. She’s sweet, for sure. Too sweet, maybe, when it comes to Sherlock. She’s also self-effacing and a little shy, and for those reasons I think a white tea blend is the right choice for her. I even like the idea of chamomile/cherry, but perhaps not in combination. One or the other probably would have been enough, perhaps with a touch more hibiscus to cut through the sweetness just a little bit.
I’m sad about this one. It’s not undrinkable by any means, but it is ridiculously sweet and fairly one-note, and I don’t feel the flavours work very well together. In theory, a great blend to characterise Molly. In practice, not so much.
I’m feeling much better today, and it’s also warm, summery and lovely outside. Time for a tea suited to warm summer days, then! I’m still working my way through a few Tealux samples from my first order, and this one seemed well suited to my mood this afternoon. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium brown, and the scent is herbal and a little earthy.
To taste, it’s pretty much tropical fruit all the way! It’s juicy, which I like about Tealux’s fruity blends, and the flavours are fresh and natural tasting. The main flavour to my mind is pineapple, but there’s a hint of orange lurking in the background. It makes me think of tinned mandarins, more than anything. It’s a very sweet, light, delicate orange, and it makes for a good combination with the pineapple.
The second thing that strikes me about the flavour of this one is the yogurt. It emerges mostly in the mid-sip, and adds a slightly sour creaminess to the overall cup. Now that I’ve identified it as yogurt, I know what this tea reminds me of – Butiki’s Mango Lassi. The yogurt here is less prominent, and the fruit flavouring stronger and jucier, but it’s a similar flavour profile.
The rooibos is hanging around a little in the background, but it’s not too much of a bother. A little woody, perhaps, but nothing terrible. There’s a mild pepperiness right at the end of the sip that I would usually attribute to the rooibos also, but this blend contains pink peppercorns, so it could also be that. They don’t add much except a hint of heat right at the end of the sip, so it’s an odd inclusion but not unwelcome.
I can see this one being really good iced in the warmer months ahead, but it’s also pleasant hot. It’s a slice of sunshine ahead of summer!