1714 Tasting Notes
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.
I’ve not been drinking many Teapigs teas recently – not because I don’t like them, more that there are so many other teas to try! I placed an order recently for some teaware, though, and took the opportunity to pick up a few samples of their newer teas. I’m a bit of a Darjeeling fan, although typically I prefer first flush because it tends to have less of a “metallic” tang. This one is second flush, but I’m still willing to give it a try. I used 1 bag, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a light golden brown, the scent mildly floral.
To taste, this one’s better than I was expecting. The main flavour is a mild floral, although not perfumey. I’m thinking orchid, perhaps? There’s also a very pleasant grapey, muscatel, flavour. There’s a light metallic tang towards the end of the sip, but thankfully it’s not too overpowering. Darjeelings that taste like tarnished metal are what I’m really trying to avoid when I pass over second flushes. This one is smooth, with no bitterness or astringency. It’s easy to drink, and really good with a mid-afternoon biscuit!
I used the rest of my sample (3 bags) for today’s cold brew, just to get the full effect. Again, it’s smooth, with no astringency, and has a mild floral flavour that’s pleasant and refreshing. More so cold than hot, I think. The muscatel flavour isn’t so noticeable brewed this way, but there’s also very little that tastes metallic, so it’s hard to complain. It’s a much milder prospect brewed cold – not tasteless, but certainly subtle.
I don’t mind this one as an occasional cup, although it’s not a tea I’d look to keep around in quantity. It’s a good everyday kind of Darjeeling – nice to drink but not especially remarkable. I’ll be sticking to my first flushes for “special” Darjeeling occasions, though.
Second assam of the day, and the last of my Golden Tips samples. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk. This one is another second flush single estate variety, this time from Lokwah. It was picked on 26th June 2014. The dry leaf is fairly short and straight, and predominantly a uniform black-brown, escept for the odd golden-tipped leaf.
The first sip of this one reminds me instantly of maltesers. It has a malted chocolate sort of flavour, very smooth and creamy. There are light raisiny notes in the background, but the main flavour is definitely milk chocolate, maybe with a touch of caramel richness. Chocolate isn’t a flavour I typically associate with assams, so I’m quite surprised (and pleased!) to have found it here. This is definitely one of the more unusual, unique assams I’ve tried, and a potential repurchase with my next Golden Tips order. Yummy!
First cup of the morning; 1 tsp of leaf, 3 minutes in boiling water, plus a splash of milk. This particular assam is a second flush single estate variety from Borpatra, picked on 25th March 2014. The dry leaf is short, a little twisted, and a pretty uniform black. There’s the odd golden-tinged leaf scattered throughout, but no more than that. To taste, though, this is such a sweet, malty assam. It has strong raisin notes, which I love, and which are reminding me a little of some of my favourite Taiwanese assams. It’s faintly reminiscent of fruit cake, although nowhere near as intense. It’s smooth and not especially tannic, so a good choice for a morning cup. I’m impressed with this one.