1589 Tasting Notes
Back from my Christmas break today, and time to be brave once again. I mostly drank teas I was familiar with over the holidays – old friends I knew wouldn’t let me down. Now that reality has set back in, I’m back to my usual routine.
I picked this one up with a Butiki order a while ago, and it’s languished in my cupboard ever since. That’s because I’m more afraid of pu’erh than I like to admit. My last one wasn’t so bad, though, and that’s given me the confidence to continue my journey today.
I gave this one 2 minutes in boiling water for a first steep, and the resulting liquor is an orangey-red-brown. It smells typically pu’erh like, earthy with a hint of sweaty horse.
The taste, on the other hand, couldn’t be more different. It’s fresh, sweet, and far more reminiscent of a forest after a rain shower than a pig sty or horse’s stable. There’s an earthiness in the initial sip, but it’s a grassy-earthiness rather than a muddy-earthiness; very clean and green-tasting, if not quite what I’d call vegetal. The mid-sip is cooling and little camphor like. It puts me in mind of mint, but there’s no mintiness in the flavour. I can taste leaves and herbs more than anything – I’m thinking maybe basil or oregano with a hint of chlorophyll in the aftertaste.
This has been a completely unexpected cup, and by far the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had with a pu’erh. I probably could have left this one to brew longer, and I would definitely feel happy to go with the recommended 7 minutes for subsequent steeps. As it’s nearly time to go home, though, I’m not going to get to try this today. Definitely one to revisit, though.
A sample from KittyLovesTea. Another bagged green, this time just plain. I let the water cool to around 175 degrees, and left it approximately 2 minutes. The resulting liquor is medium yellow, with a very faint vegetal aroma. The taste is similar; a smooth, sweetish, mildly vegetal green. It’s nothing amazing, and it doesn’t have a great deal of flavour, but it’s pleasant to drink nonetheless with not a hint of bitterness or astringency to be found.
A sample from KittyLovesTea
I’m making an effort to sip down all of my remaining samples before Christmas, so that next year can be a fresh start. This one appealed to me most this morning, so into a cup it went! It’s a bagged green, so I let the water cool to around 175 degrees, and gave it about 2.5 minutes.
My previous experiences with bagged green teas haven’t been amazingly positive, but this one is a pleasant change. The green tea base is smooth and mildly vegetal, and pairs well with the mild, peppery mango flavouring. The flavour here is making me think mostly of a slightly underripe mango – perhaps one that’s still a little green, and a touch on the hard side. I can’t taste as much of the fruit as I’d have liked, and there’s none of the sweetness I typically associate with mango. In any case, this is a decent bagged flavoured green. I can taste mango, albeit mild, and the green base is pleasant. A refreshing cup!
Yay! More mulberries. This came to me as a sample from KittyLovesTea, and fits perfectly with my current mulberry adoration. This is a herbal blend, containing mulberry leaves and macadamia nuts. As per the recommended parameters, I used 1.5tsp of leaf, and gave it about 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is yellow-green (pretty perfect considering that this is a Halloween themed tea!), and smells deliciously sweet and creamy.
To taste, it’s just as wonderful as I’d hoped. There’s the initial taste of sweet, rich caramel that I’ve come to expect from mulberry teas, which is perfectly augmented by the creamy nuttiness of the macadamia nuts. It’s one of those rare teas that tastes as good as it smells, and in this case that’s very good indeed.
I’d happily drink this for the rest of my life, but I had just a one cup sample that’s now gone. On the strength of those I’ve tried so far, Mulberry teas are definitely something I’ll seek out in the future. Absolutely delicious!
A sample from KittyLovesTea. I quite like orange in fruit teas, so I was interested to give this one a go. Interestingly, there’s a whole lot of chamomile in this blend. I can also see pieces of dried orange peel, cranberries, rosehip and hibiscus. Maybe good or maybe bad. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is an odd reddish-grreen, and smells distinctly herbal. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact scent, but I wouldn’t say orange or cranberry.
Similarly with the taste, which is mostly chamomile and hibiscus. The hibiscus comes our first, as it usually does, and adds a tart, slightly sour, overtone. Second to emerge is the chamomile, which is sweet and honey-like. Not a great combination with hibi. I can taste a tiny bit of orange right at the end of the sip, but it’s nothing like as strong as I was hoping. Mostly, drinking this one reminds me of berocca.
It’s not unpleasant, per se, but it’s not a winner with me either. I can’t taste cranberry at all, so it’s mostly a hibiscus-chamomile tea, with an aftertaste of orange. Drinkable, but disappointing.
A sample from KittyLovesTea. First flush darjeeling is one of my favourite things in the world, so I’m always pleased when the opportunity arises to try a new one! The leaf here looks fairly typical – small in size, variagated from dark to light green, with some downy silver buds. There are some tiny leaf fragments. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 1.5 minutes in boiling water, as this is the method I’ve found best suits my tastes. The resulting liquor is light golden brown, maybe a touch yellowish. The scent is fruity and a little woody.
There’s huge fruitiness in the initial sip – I’m thinking stonefruit particularly; apricot and peach. A wonderful muscatel grape note emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a richness and depth to the overall flavour. There’s a slight woodiness right at the end of the sip. While this isn’t an astringent tea, I’d say it’s definitely brisk, leaving a slight dryness in my mouth. The tea itself is smooth and almost honeyed in texture, so it’s a slightly odd contrast, but not unpleasant.
I like this one a lot, which makes me feel a little sad. I wish I’d had the opportunity to explore Tea Horse’s offerings a little more before they closed, but such is life. An excellent, intensely flavourful first flush darjeeling.
A sample from KittyLovesTea. There are few teas as beautiful as this one. The small packet belies the contents, because as soon as it’s opened out tumble whole dried chrysanthemum flowers. There are so many, and they’re so large and springy, it’s hard to imagine how they all fitted in the little sample pouch! There are some loose petals, but in the main these are whole flower heads; creamy yellow in colour, and beautifully preserved.
For my first cup, I gave 2tsp of flowers (about half the sachet) 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow-green, and smells very lightly herbal. To taste, it’s a subtle flavour. It’s hard to pin down exactly, but it mostly reminds me of chamomile, with the tiniest touch of mint. I was expecting something much more heavily floral, but it’s not like that at all. It makes me think of daisies.
It’s a very light, refreshing cup. I reckon it would be particularly perfect in spring/summer, or as a relaxing pre-bedtime cup. Definitely one I’d consider purchasing with a future Teavivre order.
I think I’ve finally worked this one out, because today’s cup is absolutely delicious! I can really taste plum, along with a creamy, sweet, slightly spicy/orangey undertone that really does suggest pudding (and Christmas!) I found my first cup a little too subtle, but now I’m wondering why I thought that. Today, it’s perfection!
A sample from KittyLovesTea. Pu-erh still scares me, but I’m determined to keep trying until I understand it. I think I’m making progress with that, slowly but surely! I used 1 tuocha, and gave it 1 minute in boiling water. The liquor is surprisingly light in colour – a golden orange. Many of the pu-erh touchas I’ve tried thus far have verged on dark brown/black even when brewed for a very short time. This makes an encouraging change.
The scent is probably, for me, the worst thing about pu-erh. This one is no exception. The whiff of farmyard at 11 o’clock in the morning is never going to be particularly welcome. Still, I can get past that.
For good reason, it turns out. This is a pu-erh I could actually say that I…like. It tastes fairly mild, but has a warm, earthy, slightly dank flavour, a little like compost mixed with wet mud. I’m not screwing my face up, and I can actually sip this one happily and think about the flavour without wishing I really wasn’t. I guess this is called progress?
A sample from KittyLovesTea. I’ve tried Teavivre’s unflavoured Jin Xuan before, and I enjoyed it a lot. It had a natural butteriness that was very pleasant, very smooth, and very easy to drink! I suspect my heart really belongs to flavoured milk oolongs, though, so I was very interested in trying Teavivre’s flavoured version. At last, the time has come!
I used 1 tsp of leaf, and have it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. I felt bad about the water, but that’s what the sachet recommends, so that’s what I did. The resulting liquor is pale yellow gold, and smells of butter and green veg. It’s a scent I’d expect more from a green tea, but there you go.
The first sip reveals a lovely milkiness that almost borders on caramel, which fades into a butteriness by the mid-sip. The vegetal, green-tasting oolong emerges right at the end of the sip, and lingers in the aftertaste. It’s a fresh, almost mineral counterpoint to the sweet, creamy opening flavour.
I like that the flavouring doesn’t drown the oolong completely, and that it complements the oolong’s natural flavour, rather than just covering it up. I’m not sure I would have liked it had it been the first flavoured milk oolong I’d tried, but now I have a little more experience with oolong (milk or otherwise) I can appreciate it for what it is.
This is a tea I wouldn’t mind keeping around. It’ll definitely make it into a future Teavivre order!